Monolith Cocktail - Location Baked

The first ‘tickling our fancy’ revue of 2015, this latest round up features both the releases that may have escaped your notice at the fag end of 2014, and a number of new and upcoming 2015  releases.

Pausing then, before the music schedule starts to gain momentum after the Christmas holidays, we look at EP/LP and singles from Myles Manley, Viet Sign, Location Baked, This Heel, Schizo Fun Addict Vs The Bordellos, and Kim Halliday.



Myles Manley   ‘Pay Me What I’m Worth’   (Trout Records) Single out now. 



Premiered on Radio 1 last week, the curious, emerging from a backwoods cabin jam between David Bryne and King Creosote, anti-folk theme, Pay Me What I’m Worth is the latest delightful single from Dublin-based musician, Myles Manley.

Though a career in mathematics beckoned, Manley chose the less virtuous pathway to music; putting out the, prematurely entitled Greatest Hits DIY release and bizarre art gallery situ video (in which iconic religious paintings come to life), ‘Easter People’, in 2012. Both of which led to a chorus of positive chatter and criticism from the Irish press (rightly so); throwing him in with the burgeoning Irish capitol scene that also boasts the blossoming and energetic talents of Girl Band, Jet Setter and Spies.

Recently returning from absorbing and playing shows in the New York anti-folk community, Manley will soon release the latest extended EP, More Songs for his new label, Trout Records. Check the Monolith Cocktail next month for an extended review.



Viet Sign   ‘We Talk’   Originally released  21st  October 2014.





Digging through the Hip Hop, soul, house, jazz, two-step and jungle crates in the twilight hours to amass a collection of congruous samples, the Welsh electronic duo Jewellers under their side project moniker, Viet Sign, compose a seamless soundtrack that drifts between 80s Chicago club scene and an imaginary bamboo decorated oriental lounge. Cruising along and slipping into the mood with the stuttered melted butter soul and a sweet melodious ‘Approach’, the suite sleekly moves through a golden age of urban music, making smooth crossovers and pairing together a fusion of styles – the up tempo colliding beats ‘Req’ matches up jazz with a slick early 90s d’n’b bordering on grime backing, whilst ‘Wait For Me’ is a sophisticated slice of Paradise Garage meets downbeat soulful 808 powered house.

Lean without an ounce of fat or overt repetition, the Viet Sign’s mix is a nice addition to the Daedalus, James Pants, and (in this case a mellower) Madlib, school of musical collage; scouting both inside and out of the Hip Hop sample orbit to find interesting and harmonious loops, borrowing from an eclectic list of influences including Miles Davis, Martin Denny, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and DJ Koze.



Location Baked   ‘Agents Of Change’   (Peski)  Released 7th January 2015.





Sounding the clarion call from his Cardiff basecamp, via a trans-European imbued passport of electronica and experimental sound collages, the mysterious Location Baked’s latest suffused offering is a supportive nod to the Agent Of Change principle – a law that will ensure a degree of protection for established live music venues in the event of noise complaints from neighbors. Christ knows we need some kind of sanity, if not balance, returned to the ongoing debate of ‘noise pollution’, as venues – from the community pub to international star attracting club – face ever more Draconian laws. Held to ransom on the say so of just one individual, local councils have heavy-handedly seized upon music venues; forcing some to close in the process, as the eye-watering threats of prosecution can reach ridiculously levied costs. Factor in that local councils have the pressure of the ever-gentrifying phenomena in city centers, and with the need for more low cost housing; more people than ever are moving (if they can afford it) into the busiest parts of town. With vague meter readings (what actually counts as excessive, to the decibel levels that are in the first place used as a, amorphous at best, limit to judge cases upon) and dubious evidence, many venues are still unsure of their rights. This proposal would encourage further dialogue and hopefully force a change in the current legislation.

 

Building a 16-minute (and 48 seconds, to be exact) wistful ambience around the A, G and C Flat chords (that last chord giving it a certain lilting quirk), Location Baked composes a subtly wavering synthesized kooky suite, punctuated throughout by a soft electronic cuckoo. Held back from edging into discourse, creeping caustic tones threaten but break upon the lightly strummed acoustic guitar and esoteric-Tropicana, pre-set, Casio percussion.

References are varied, with touches of the minimalist composers Steve Reich, Meredith Monk and Michael Nyman as well as their pop descendants Spiritualized, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and Donna Summer’s ‘State of Independence’.

 

LB is encouraging anyone who supports the campaign to send recordings of themselves playing the chords for a special ‘wall of sound’ version of the single.

Upload the chords to Soundcloud by 31st January to be included in the remix.



This Heel   ‘This Heel’  (Small Bear Records)  Released  1st January 2015.

Schizo Fun Addict vs The Bordellos   ‘Schizo Fun Addict vs The Bordellos Split EP’   (Small Bear Records)  Originally released 24th December 2014.









Finding ever more obscure, and relatively unheard of, music from a collection of bedroom mavericks and hitherto minor local underground D.I.Y. bands, Small Bear Records scored a winner in 2014 with the label’s pontificators of grinding rock’n’roll, The Bordellos. Their last album, Will.I.AM, You’re Really Nothing, made our ‘choice albums’ of the year feature: an album that resoundingly bashed out a clarion call for energy over mediocrity, fueled by the epistles according to Julian Cope. Far from taking the usual Christmas sabbatical, the label put out a shared EP, starring both the St.Helens lo fi rockers and the dirge-y dreamers, Schizo Fun Addict. Released on Christmas Eve (and probably missing from most people’s Santa wish list) as a taster to the physical copy on cassette, the quartet of shared songs is still available via Bandcamp.

For their part, The Bordellos ‘Hit It’ and ‘A Little Sadness’ contributions fluctuate between the band’s now signature styles of both off-kilter grinding rock and downplayed, kooky acoustic led ballads. The first of these is an agitated-indie chugging, whistling and squealing mass of Sonic Youth feedback, the second a touching Syd Barrett, jangly lament. Their comrades-in-arms however sound like a hallucinating Les Rallizes Denudés reworking Lush, as they coax a melody and tune from the shoegaze redolent, shimmering resonance and fuzz that buries the opening track, ‘AM Story’. Shifting slightly in mood, their second contribution, ‘Endorphin Portal’ pulsates and throbs to an Orb-esque and paced trance like techno beat.

 

Following in its wake, released the following week, This Heel’s eponymous debut announces its arrival to a wall of fuzz thrilled noise and barracking smashed-up drums. The solo project of Dog, Paper, Submarine’s front man Martin Månsson Sjöstrand, This Heel picks its way through a litany of alternative indie (bordering on the Goth in some cases) and grime-y drone frazzled garage rock. To a bombardment of Placebo and PiL, the Swedish multi-instrumentalist climbs up to a faux falsetto on the heavy bombastic, charged pop rattler, ‘Mars About To Leave’; ascends a spiraling sequence of spindly chords through a blanket of claustrophobia on ‘Selfish Food’; and sets out on a meandrous shoegazing trope with ‘Tiles’. There’s logic to this fuzz, as the Swedish artist bends the thrashing vortex of noise and steam to his will, eking out just enough of a harmony and tuneful hook to make it work. Expanding the Small Bear roster yet hardly a surprise addition, This Heel kicks off the labels 2015 schedule with assured vigour.



Kim Halliday   ‘Halflight’   (Ravello Records)  Released  11th November 2014.



Churning out an abundance of soundtracks and congruous composed passages for film, TV, the stage and a myriad of other multimedia platforms, the scores of 90s London film school graduate Kim Halliday hovers on the peripheral. A relatively obscure name, though no less ambitious and not because of a lack of talent, his cannon of work is imbued with over forty years of moods and musical styles; ranging from growling post punk to the subtly evocative atmospherics of Michael Nyman; both ambient-sparse and progressively revved up.

From what I’ve looked-up online and listened to, Halliday’s previous albums and soundtracks follow a suffuse theme, with variations of the main signature. However, his latest suite, Halflight, sweeps and harmoniously traverses between a number of sets and scenes from a host of different imaginary movies. The production and instrumentation bellow a more intricate and descriptive NIN crossed with Bowie circa Outside and Heathen. Beginning with the Holy Fuck scores Drive, throbbing and steely motoring, ‘Fabric, Torn, Time, Slips’: A modern pepped-up Miami Vice with flaring traces of Teutonic autobahn and gargled, voice in the machine, vocals – this album was written, recorded and mastered in both London and the German capitol Berlin -, this industrial beast is an electro-growler, peddle to the ground muscle car of an opening gambit.

Caustic, industrial and often drifting through a kosmiche influenced landscape, Halliday enacts Eno-esque like cerebral ambience or reworks classical themes of lament and solace throughout with tubular struck metallic sounds, saddened synths and weeping, arching guitars (sounding throughout like a cross between two of Bowie’s most experimental choice lead guitarist, Reeves Gabrels and Earl Slick); a counterbalance struck against those more up-tempo numbers.

At other times Kim and his contributors enter the darker recesses of the mind as they investigate the gloomy apparition signals emanating from ‘Hellingly Hospital’ and salacious, if ominous world of kinky “50 shades of grey” Sadomasochistic sex, on the Angie Giles narrated ‘Only A Game’. There’s also a respectful pause for thought on the anniversary of the “Great War”, as Dave Maybrick reads out the fateful and infamous B104-82 receipt that informed the next of kin of their loved ones death. In a somber tone, Halliday builds a trepidation sound of distant artillery fire drums and a softly kneaded piano suite around the form given to men of the lower ranks: a depressing indictment and chilling reminder of the futility of WWI. Later on, Maybrick in a less than somber tone, reads out the instructions of a D.I.Y. methamphetamine kit over an increasingly, John Barry goes big beat, bombastic soundtrack.

With seventeen tracks to peruse, there is a suitable soundtrack for every mood. And despite the varied range of ideas, subject matter and settings, Halflight is a seamless, integrated experience.


Dominic Valvona



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