Friday, June 05, 2009

Dirty Black Psummer

We’ve talked about Chicago’s Cave here before and since they’ve released a heavy new album Psychic Psummer let’s speak of them again.

As befits the title Psychic Psummer is a lighter record than last years Hunt Like Devil, still monomaniacal in chasing a single chord down the rabbit hole but airier and less in thrall to a basement-dwelling caveman ughthetic. If the first albums jams suggested an aircraft in a holding pattern over a decaying industrial city at dusk, this time it’s over green and yellow fields of crops at dawn.

I still bet if you met the band in person they’d smell of sour bongwater and too many roll-up cigarettes though.

Cave – Requiem for John Sex [ysi]

Ugly MySpace Buy

I’m guessing this might be the guy they’re jamming about:

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wires of Our Nerves

A lot of the new ugh-fi, bathed in reverb ‘shit-gaze’ bands fail for the same reasons that their predecessors did; the murk isn’t that murky and even when it is the hooks aren’t razor-sharp enough to cut through. And I realise that Crystal Stilts, Vivien Girls et al see some sort of correlation between Spector’s Wall of Sound and their own Wall of Shit but really, can we let the Ronettes drum-patterns and girl group sprecht-song drop? Face it: The Jesus and Mary Chain were always weak sauce.

All of which is a really tangential way of saying that I wish “Living Wage” by Richmond, Virginia’s Nerve City was recorded loud because under the boombox aesthetic it’s one of the catchiest, play-ten-times-in-a-row garage rock jams I’ve heard in years. The fact it bears a title that makes it sound like some lost Thatcher-era anarcho-punk track only makes it more endearing.

Nerve City – Living Wage [ysi]

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dyed with the Urine of Phil Collins and the Blood of Jerry Garcia

It always feels like a cheat calling out summer jams before I’ve even had a chance to determine what kind of summer it’s going to be, but since I was sweating like a rapist just walking out to get some onions to use in tonight’s stuffed courgettes I’m gonna plump for one. It’s from DFA, a record label one wouldn’t have tagged as a generator of tracks to listen to in the baking sunshine in their first few years of existence, but it’s from their 12” hook-up series with Rong records and they’re a little more daylight sometimes.

The original of DJ Kaos’s “Love the Night Away” skates by nicely like The Scorpions attempting a vocal cover of Simple Minds “Theme from Great Cities” but it’s the version by Sweden’s Tiedye (who have released a couple of one-sided 12”s on Italians Do It Better) that really hits that sweet spot. The vocal from the slightly stiff, Teutonic original is kept then dropped wetly on top of more Balearic and yacht rock sleight-of-hand than any song this side of Studio’s remix of Kylie. Bongoes, then popping bass, delicious cocktail piano runs, flighty synth arpeggios, echo vox and, best of all, twin lead guitar solos are all present and correct. It’s a track pumped up to the point of bursting, but only to force one to roll down the windows on the Mondeo and let the sound outside to the people where it belongs.

(And how did it take me so long to realise that Tiedye isn’t a Swedish word but something that you probably don’t want to do your t-shirts?)

DJ Kaos - Love the Night Away (Tiedye Mix) [ysi]

DJ Kaos MySpace Tiedye MySpace Buy

The Way You Go Hog Wild

Mainly because I had a jpeg that said Shanty Tramp but also because I wanted an excuse to listen to this song over and over again.

“Shanty Tramp” is ultra-addictive “TV Eye” mainlining garage-punk from Victoria, Australia and that’s all I need some days. This was released as a single back in 1990 and there was no more after that as a couple of them got killed in a car crash. This seven-inch makes a great tombstone though.

The Dirty Lovers – Shanty Tramp [ysi]


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Listening to the mix of dubstep low-end and mid-range isolationalist murk of Mount Kimbie’s “Maybes” sent me back to listen to its nearest junglist equivalent, Third Eye Foundation’s “Semtex” for the first time in years.

Matt Elliott’s Third Eye Foundation emerged from a nineties Bristol scene of lo-fi four-track post-shoegaze bands like Movietone, Crescent and most famously Flying Saucer Attack. Think dense clouds of guitar fog covering mumbled vocals. Like the contemporaneous Bristol trip-hop units, these groups made blunted torpor work for them as an aesthetic strategy. The first two albums by Third Eye Foundation were in this vein, if more hostile (sample seventeen-minute track title: “Way Out Like David Bowman”).

Then in 1996 on Domino Records short lived electronica sub-label Series 500 Elliott dropped “Semtex”, a ten minute sprawl of mezzuin calls, and the usual thick smear of noise but this time pierced by breakneck, hyperactive jungle drum clatter. Writing on drum & bass and on noise has often deployed oceanic and back-to-the-womb metaphors, but “Semtex” is like swimming in a dense slime filled with metal shards.

Here’s the shorter (by five minutes) but harder hitting version:

Third Eye Foundation – Semtex (Version) [ysi]

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Cosmic, like Jack Kirby

Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom’s Days of Mars was an album that either came thirty years too late or a little too early. Not that it didn’t sound fantastic in 2005. It did, but would have found a larger, more attentive audience being released around the same time as Lindstrøm’s Where You Go I Go Too, Alex Moulton’s Exodus or Williams’ faithful cover of Tangerine Dream’s “Love on a Real Train”.

Of course, Delia & Gavin did blow up in 2006 via Carl Craig’s expansive remix of their “Relevee” (a track title that I have always read with a transposed L and V until typing this) and three years later Russom is back under the name Black Meteoric Star with a more abrasive, drum heavy take on their earlier modular analogue sound.

The six tracks that Black Meteoric Star will be releasing on three 12”s (and then a CD) over the course of 2009 take his cosmic music onto the dancefloor. This is overdriven techno with filtered white-noise cymbals and analogue bleep and blat arranged into hypnotically garish patterns like closely viewed benday dots on a 60s comic book page. The title of one track, “World Eater” even references the impossibly powerful Marvel Comics character Galactus. (Or possibly a Warhammer 40,000 game)

The track here, the repetitive and trancelike “Domination” is echoing without being dubby, and bold and distorted without causing the urge to struggle into a gold American Apparel tubetop. OK, let’s face it: “Domination” is the thickest, soupiest kind of acid house. It’s time for Mixmag to run their bi-annual Acid Is! Back! cover again.

Black Meteoric Star - Domination [ysi]

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Quote Kinda Dropped In (Like Pitchfork Pad Out Their News With)

One night Edge also overdubbed a cool guitar part, that was named "spirit of punk rock", which is a reference to "the spirit of jazz", a character in the Mighty Boosh TV show.
U2 producer Declan Gaffney on the genesis of "Get On Your Boots"


We’re late on it, but here’s a perceptive essay for Frieze magazine by DJ /rupture about the uses and meanings of Auto-Tune. The stuff about its uses in North African music is something Brian Eno should maybe think about next time he feels the need to spout his guff about how Africans can’t bear to sit still and work at computers.

Near the end of the article he writes about Champion DJ’s “Baako” which “is built around a baby crying through Auto-Tune. The software bends the baby’s anguish into eerie musicality. The ear likes it. The mind isn’t so sure. “Baako” is disturbing. The aestheticized cry no longer corresponds to any normal emotion.”

“Baako” sounds a bit like the mewling baby from the untouchable “Are You That Somebody” by Aaliyah did a Jordy and went solo. And a bit like the end of end of Donald Cammell’s 1977 computer-horror film Demon Seed when the part-human part-computer offspring of Julie Christie and a computerised house is born. Or maybe like the lil Lil Wayne from the front of “Tha Carter III” calling for a (literal) lollipop. Apparently the baby voice is taken from this.

DJ Champion - Baako [ysi]

Friday, May 22, 2009

People in Flames Don’t Eat Quiche

That someone would mix the top-end of redux shoegazing murk with dubstep rhythms was a given, what’s surprising is that instead of it being someone like School of Seven Bells stumbling over a new beat to use, it came from within dubstep. (And let’s not call it shoe-step). Released on Scuba’s longstanding Hotflush label, Mount Kimbie’s “Maybes” opens with repeated clangs of foghorn guitar that sound like they are being played from the top of a lighthouse and recorded from a damp beach a couple of miles away. This is the epic mountainside guitar of pomp-rock suddenly sodden and sorry for itself until the pops and sharp jerks of the drums force it into life.

Second side title “Taps” could describe the funeral march pace or the way that the rhythms sound like something constructed from the sound of a dripping tap as a Tomorrows World demonstration of the possibilities of sampling. At times static and sketchlike, Maybes is the perfect title for this EP; ideas in miniature begging for expansion.

Mount Kimbie - Maybes [ysi]

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

External Scaffold of Pox

Just reissued under the rubric of being “Carl Craig’s favourite album” is Bernard Szajner’s Some Deaths Last Forever from 1980. It’s an album of naïve melodies, raw arpeggiator grot and the sort of clean and snaking guitar noodling that seems to be many post-prog musicians immediate response to the mechanisation of their craft (definitive example: Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4).

Szajner’s most famous album is Visions of Dune (recorded under the name ZED) which was inspired by the Frank Herbert’s SF book series and recorded with members of Magma. Analogue synthesis as landscape recurs here but interiorised, although the track “Ritual” is also not too far geographically from the urban wasteland of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, albeit mixed with an Eno-type melody.

Bernard Szajner - Ritual [ysi]

Bernard Szajner - The Memory [ysi]

Homepage Buy

Oh, and even if Szajner had never made any records he’d still go down in history as the inventor of the greatest instrument of the 20th century, the Laser Harp:

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pop-Cap: Sonic Youth - The Eternal

Truth in advertising: it does seem to last forever, like death.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pop-Cap: Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship

Sounds like I imagine the one OK track might on all those minor Euro-prog obscurities that I download from sharity blogs and then eventually delete before even unzipping them.