Thursday, June 30, 2005

Interesting things happening over at Fronha

Two new MP3 releases on Fronha - Ghost Reflection - Nkai (Ritual Dark ambient) and
Gustavo Jobim - Sinfonia nº.1 em Fá menor - PIANO - not had the opportunity of giving them a listen yet but if the recent Junkers release is anything to go by they're sure to shake yer tree...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Takes the ZZZZ's out of Jazz

Jazz being one of those music genres that I would normally shy away from, I was a bit surprised when Last Chance Disco by Acoustic Ladyland hit my ears. Finally a band that's doing something interesting with the 'Jazz thang' for a change .The results surge with LIFE yes LIFE with the caps lock on!!! It's sort of like post-punk with lots of saxophone scrawl, yes that's saxophone (that holy grail of Jazz). I was almost giving up hope that this instrument would ever produce the goods again. The low-quality MP3's on their site don't do them justice.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Stephen O'Malley's collaborative improvised project GINNUNGAGAP goes from strength to strength - the first Latitudes release - Remeindre - is a work of mystical beauty - a glimpse into our pagan past, a chance to disconnect from what's perceived as reality...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

(Review) Hood - Outside Closer

The truly wonderful Hood, in various guises, have been perfecting their monochromatic, bleak, frosty Yorkshire landscape of a sound for the past 15 years or so. Starting out, possibly the lowest of lo-fi, they have over the course of 6 albums and a myriad of singles carefully moulded and shaped their own image of the perfect evocation of their own environment. They share some common ground with other fellow travellers like Movietone and Crescent, but for my money they are ploughing their own lonely furrow and I wouldn't wish it any other way. No one else can soundtrack the sun slowly rising over a frosty mist-laden moor like them - the slow sense of anticipation; the crisp sense of clarity; the gradual transformation. These are their tools along with drums, bass, gtr, samples and endless friends just adding that tiny ingredient to achieve the right balance.

This album, their sixth, is outstanding if only for the sudden washes of colour, slightly quicker tempo and on some tracks the feeling that spring has arrived early. Catching them live at the Cube in Bristol was a revelation, fleshed out to a five piece, there was an extra dynamic, which is more than apparent on this LP. From the nine tracks the only common threads are the wonderful subtle, kinetic drumming and the trademark fragile yet emotive semi-spoken vocals.

In some respects this album bears comparisons with Califone in the way that many seemingly disparate elements make up each song. 'The Negatives' finds room for Spanish gtr and accordion, whereas 'Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive' has a lovely sinuous clarinet line, evolving into distant trumpet and violin coda, the whole song becoming drunken and woozy with the sheer weight of sounds.

'End of One Train Working' finds us on more familiar ground. A simple de-tuned gtr, cello and handclapping frame the forlorn vocals pitifully asking, "Where is the hope I had". Their great skill in dressing sad and sometimes desperate lyrics is shown to good effect on side two's opener 'The Lost You', a paean to the passing of time with a remarkably upbeat backing packed with samples and cut-up rhythms. There is something so winning about a lyricist who makes no effect to dilute what needs to be said by attempting to rhyme words.

All thru the album words just trail like steam, meandering around the instruments, as in 'Still Rain Fell', the snatches of violin, the gtr chops and echoing drums escort the vocals towards the mournful piano intro of 'Fading Hills' which with the warm gtr washes and trumpet evoke sunset over a town, looking down hill into the distance as the orange fades.

Perhaps in these days of homogenisation, part of Hood's charm is their innate, unforced Englishness. Wistful yearning and wasted time bob in and out of the imagery along with the cellos and piano of 'Closure'. Hood are a band we should all cherish. There is nobody like them, unafraid to do what is necessary to document what is in their heads. This album is possibly the most fully realised so far and every home, English or not should have one.

By Mr Olivetti

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Menthe De Chat

Those intriquing experimentalists Menthe De Chat have got their whole back catalogue online now plus a few recent additions - the new album Botanicos for example is very interesting indeed but more on this when I've had time to digest...

Ruben D'Hers - Todo Está En Descanso

The audioscapes of this album by self-taught Venezuelan musician Ruben D'Hers called Todo Está En Descanso are just lovely and unique without any obvious influences springing to mind (which is a good thing in these days when comparisons seem to be all). The music embodies classical/avant-grade/electro-acoustic notions and many more besides, but can’t be classified by any one of the fore-mentioned disciplines.

Available from the netlabel the album wonders through many terrains, as you would expect from a compilation of recordings spanning between 1999 - 2004, but the overall effect isn't patchy at all.

It could easily be taken as an arthouse soundtrack with the music being rich in both emotive atmosphere and technique. Even when the tunes kick in there remains a delightful sense of un-ease ( like someone watching over your shoulder) , maybe due to the music's refreshingly unpredictable nature.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Lisa Germano - Inconsiderate Bitch EP

Ever since this little delight hit the shops I've been after it, being pipped by a friend to the only remaining copy in my local shop all those years ago. I'm glad to say, that now I have it... at long last, thanks to the delights of ebay and for under a fiver too - hurrrayyy.

I absolutely love it, especially the
radical remix of 'Sycophant' with it's ghostly reverb and spacey 'This Mortal Coil' violins. It was well worth the wait (over 10 years!!! where does the time go???).

If you've not been lucky enough to track down a copy of the original EP, good news - Lisa Germano's 'Happiness' album has now been re-released by 4ad to include these EP tracks (strangely enough, happiness only appears once though) and it's only £8 - bargain.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

CAMPARI SAFARI presents....

The Cube Cinema Bristol - Saturday 11th June 2005

Ann Shenton of ADD N TO (X) fame, was to be this evening’s headliner but cancelled due to illness. A bit of a bummer that, but with the entrance fee pleasantly slashed to only £3 to compensate...the show went on regardless

First up was a relative newcomer to the music scene (for me at least) and a recent signing to Exercise1 - Jeremy Warmsley and band, who presented an excellent collection of self written songs that gave original slants on the mediocrity of suburbia. The rhythms were all off kilter, Jeremy's singing a mix of pissed off authority and flat pan sarcasm packaged in a spiky beat box thump - plenty of lovely distortion abounded . The Japanese girl (Emmy the great) to Jeremy 's left added lots of shouty yells too (a Melt Banana fan maybe). By the end of the set I had a real appetite for more... and the two extra solo songs tagged on afterwards were a brilliant bonus.

Next up were a spin off from those excellent alt-popsters - Chikinki called 'The Precious Mings'. They were a three piece, largely driven by various keyboards/effects pedals and a drummer called Ali - who held it all together with a pumping beat. I've never seen a more hyperactive keyboardist/lead singer - striking all manner of contortions while jumping around his instrument podium, spurting vocals like rainbow toothpaste from under his curly hair. The other keyboardist was slung between two decks bending the sound this way and that, adding more interest to an already rich brew – fabulous...

(excuse the crap photography)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

(Review) Rothko & Caroline Ross - A Place Between

'A place between' is a remarkable, serene experience that flows around Caroline Ross’ languid and sometimes spoken vocal delivery, nothing breaks the tranquil spell apart, maybe for the sustained harmonica half way through but that soon gets caught in the prevailing flow. The instrumentation, as a whole is used sparingly in typical Rothko style with some lovely overlapping tonal hues.

On 'traces of elements' the gentle tonal changes running over the top of each other are like the slight distortions made by a heat haze of Summer. Guitar notes skip around the vocals then fragment as piano dots fall into the spaces between words similar to the way rain-logged leaves drop into water, the guitar being the ripple across the water’s surface.

As always, with Rothko’s music, the musicianship of this recording is outstanding with an intuitive respect for each other’s musical contribution. It’s like miniature modelling but in sound; the attention to detail is superb without any preconceived contrivances marring the experience. It all sounds so effortless, but I bet many sleepless nights were had in the conception. Everything fits together in a loose mesh that sometime gathers to produce some striking colours and I must add that the piano sounds here are so vivid you can almost see the dust displaced by the keys

The words to are given the necessary space to breathe, the music sometimes becoming fragmented, like musical echoes following the lyrics along - catching the light on the drift downwards. Patterns are lovingly sustained in the toppling, the quality of which remind me of those snow-globes filled with letters or the multi-coloured descent of leaves.On other tracks the instrumentation reinforces the mood and embodies the vocals with deeper significance - as on 'light in a dark place' (one of my favourites on the album). Here the guitar/strings form intertwined lines of sound that create a forest of slowly dissipating hues, blissfully embellishing the spoken words with greater profundity.

Caroline not only vocalises but she appears to be an expert musician as well contributing a reflective nature to the bass - I particularly like the duet on 'The Northern lights are out' where Piano and bass tread softly around each other like floating colours, diverting off and returning gracefully. You hardly notice the drone building in the background, as the instruments dance and a simple organ melody patters between the dynamics. Later the musical veneer fades and the drone starkly remains - fading into a revision of the first track, a lovely slow spoken vocal accompanied by a distanced ‘Harold Budd’ piano.

A wonderful album full of subtle details and lovely textures... a true document of collaboration indeed.

By Mr Autotistic (Cloud Boy)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Muhr - La chute du romantisme en ballades

Summer hasn't materialised yet, but this short release might get you in the mood - strung out guitars and gentle electronics from Muhr, some elements remind me of that 'calm before the storm' aesthetic that Godspeed You Black Emperor were great at but don't expect any of their grand explosions as this would spoil the mellow experience...