Sunday, September 25, 2005

Liger - The Infra-Ordinary

Liger -
Sort of like smog circa ‘Julius Caesar’ with more production values, The Infra-Ordinary by Liger is a true masterpiece of understatement. Indie-electronica could be a lazy description with it wasn’t for this weird sense of detachment, I suppose early Hood is a good comparison sound wise – this one’s definitely worthy of your attention especially if you’ve just been dumped...

luv that doodle artwork...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Plug 58 - Rasha Shaheen and Emily Breeze - Friday 16th September

Rasha Shaheen

Rasha Shaheen

First up was Rasha Shaheen debuting her first album - a self penned affair entitled HATSHEPSUT.

She was backed by a massive collection of musicians with chosen friends stepping from the audience to assist on various tracks fleshing out the guitar/bass/drums and vocal basis of the sound and moving it about in lots of interesting directions.

Only having seen her in the experimental duo the ‘Hard Returns’ it was lovely to soak up the personal vibe she was creating. I liked the sweet sounding song one minute then next guitars like razors aesthetic that was in play on the night. This was all swathed in a delightfully breathy dead pan delivery, not unlike the girlie from 'Linoleum'.

She certainly knew how to put on a show as well - every track was accompanied by a moody video, covering the songs in lavish colours and semi abstract shapes that were further embellished with the actual performance super-imposed over the top.

Rasha Shaheen

Emily Breeze

Emily Breeze

Next up was Emily Breeze and Dobermen. It was lovely to see her again (hadn’t seen Emily perform since she supported Devendra Banhart back in 2004) – her unique 'abused' guitar style, those hard and angular riffs and sweetly dark vocals that wooed you in seductively only to tear your head clean off.

Her set was somewhat blighted by some tuning problems but when they re-commenced any disappointment quickly dissipated in the heady brew the band continued to create. The drums and bass crashing around nicely giving a heavy base for the other guitars to lash out from, the secondary guitar inflating Emily’s blissfully constricted guitar style as she screamed the vocals with a semi-snarled eroticism.

The songs had some very interesting and sometimes intentionally awkward rhythms that literally exploded in semi-controlled violence with the ‘slasher’ movies projected behind adding to the experience. I loved every minute, a willing captor in the sleazy air of desire and revenge they so expertly worked through.

What a fantastic night…and a great start for a young label.

Emily Breeze

Emily Breeze

Emily Breeze

Saturday, September 17, 2005

(Review) Electrelane - Axes

Electrelane – Axes 2xLP on Too Pure

Aaah, Electrelane. I loved the ‘PowerOut’, it was a truly inspired gem, but nothing could possibly prepare you for the sheer scope, excitement and intensity of this, the follow-up. I listened to this a couple of times, marvelling at the ideas and self-belief , then I was fortunate enough to catch them live in Bristol and suddenly everything made perfect sense.

For four tiny little girls from Brighton to have no fear whatsoever about making this kind of dramatic, spellbinding, maddening racket is truly awe-inspiring. The album is a vast leap from Power Out, in length as well as scope, covering sweet acoustic little wistful gems to sprawling mesmerizing mantras replete with passing trains edited into the track, from gentle piano pieces to drum-led avant-garde abstraction.

The bands have a pop at everything wrapping it in their own coating of hypnotic groove. They have chosen once again to travel to Chicago and record with Albini who thankfully (as is his way) allowed the band as much scope as they wanted. 13 tracks over 4 sides lasting about 1 hour is the package and it’s all tied dizzyingly together by the band’s obvious love of rhythmic groove. In fact from the frustratingly short bass led and hand clap filled ‘Atom’s Tomb’ complete with four note piano cycle to the lumbering majesty of the skronk-sax and passing train filled ‘Gone Darker’ the band scarily understand the intensity and dark power of cyclical repetition like Loop, Spacemen 3 and Slowdive before them and Can and Kraftwerk before them. The baton is passed and Electrelane are out of sight with it.

This album is far from a one trick pony however.’ Business or Otherwise’ sees the band dabbling with the avant-garde, a track led primarily by drums and guitar with lots of silence and no real pattern. The drums epileptic, the guitar like needles, piano pushing in here and there, it segues into an achingly beautiful band work-out which is reminiscent of Spacemen’s 3’s – ‘See you on the Other Side’ given a kicking, then a facelift and left hanging in the sun with the tempo going through the roof as Verity is singing if you can call it that. It is part sneer, part shout, so English in it’s derisive tone, the band urging her to get it out of her system, guitars flashing sparks, the drums so incredibly solid, they could go on for decades. For a change of mood, side 4 starts with a banjo and trumpet, joined by the Chicago Acapella for a rather uplifting, if sluggish track warning of the dangers of Axes with extraordinary vocal flourishes.

The more you listen, the more the different ideas become apparent between tracks and the more obvious the continuation from ‘PowerOut’ is. It’s about how the tracks are constructed and then laid together.

The penultimate track is a frantic hypnotic guitar affair, but is preceded by a doleful elegiac piano intro, which makes the full tilt of the second part more exciting. As the album closes and once again the band are whirled away on a tight rhythmic track, the up-lifting Acapella vocals really fill the track with a new day dawning feeling, which I think is a truly fantastic way to finish an album, as if they are just getting into their stride leaving you anxious for the next instalment.

I truly think Electrelane are among the most important bands around and this album is too good to miss.

By Mr Olivetti

(Review) The Go Team - Thunder, Lightning Strike

Memphis Industries who are quite an eclectic little label releasing all manner of music have put out this rather succinct, but feelgood gem from the mysterious Go Team.

I caught them on Jools Holland and there seemed to be about Eight folks on stage, fronted by a cute, sassy young black girl brewing up a light n' breezy blend of funk and Hip Hop and that is what you get on this album.

It's almost as if the cast of Sesame Street had been involved to give it this wonderfully naive kind of air. With tracks like 'Panther Dash', which I think is a wonderful title, 'LadyFlash', Friendship Update' and Feelgood by Numbers' there is obviously very little in the way of angst-ridden feelings being dealt with. In fact 'Feel good by Numbers' is the kind of groovy, electric piano jazz 'Felt' used to be so good at making, whereas 'The Power is on' is more funk-lite, with the girl toasting in the background with trumpet and harmonica lending an interesting counterpoint to the vocals.

A recorder is involved on 'Get it together', with simple jangly gtr and the kind of skipping drum beat that flows throughout the album and is part of what gives it such an easy air of summer fun and sprinklers in the garden. There's a bit of scratching at the end which brings to mind the early hip hop sound before it became so street and gangster orientated. 'Junior Kickstart' sounds like an out-take for the soundtrack to Hawaii 5-0, trumpet and harmonica again leading the way. In fact harmonica is a surprisingly prevalent instrument. 'Bottle Rocket' sounds like the kind of thing Malcolm McLaren was trying to popularise with Double Dutch, and again harmonica is smeared all over it, but the crazy thing is, that it works.

There's some lovely subtle country piano on 'Friendship Update' and honestly, on 'Huddle Formation' you can almost see the Sesame Street kids doing some kind of funky dance moves outside of Maria's place, all hand claps and smiles. Just to confuse everyone , the album closer 'Everyone's a VIP to someone' has a banjo loop, harmonica, trumpet, flute and wispy violin in the background all lending a slightly Waltons-ish air to the kick-drum funk rhythm.

After a few listens, it all makes such perfect sense you wonder why everybody isn't doing it as you catch yourself beaming in the mirror and thoughts of Huckleberry Finn living in the Bronx with Bert 'n' Ernie appear.

This album will make you feel great and put a smile on your face, what's more you could play it at parties and everybody would dance. I don't know much about funk or Hip-Hop, but this is lovely and strange.

By Mr Olivetti

(Review) Cass McCombs - Prefection LP

This is the second LP by Cass McCombs, one of the few decent discoveries 4ad have made in the last 10 years. From what I can understand , they appear to have a revolving lineup around Cass, depending on who is around and who he needs. The First LP and EP were just him and his producer playing drums, it was a sweet, whimsical, slightly crazy treat, but for album number two , there is a line-up settled on with a keyboardist, drummer and bassist/sampler, adding to his gtr. Beyond that description, it's hard to know where to start as the band seem to inhabit their own charming little world, knicking an influence here and a germ of an idea there, but seem to sound unlike anybody else.

The albums 10 tracks loosely fall into the American gtr band niche, being slightly Americana-esque, but it's the band's ability to warp a well-worn form subtly to suit their own designs that makes this ablum great. This and the fact that Cass not only possesses a most idyosyncratic style of song writing, with some wonderfully absurd lyrics and what can only be described as a beguiling voice in that it's hard to decide whether he can sing or not, until you realise he can because he will suddenly soar at the end of a line, make this album an absolute delight, which is a rare thing in this era of homogenisation.

Take 'Subtraction', imagine the rhythmic bass to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl' with a wonderful ascending organ over the top, rock n roll drums and a curious vocal arrangement, with absolutely no effort made to rhyme anything, or to even have similar length lines following one another. Suddenly he's high up the register Doo Wopping and the next talking to a human skull about how he can feel it's pull.

'Multiple Suns' finds the pace slowing and a spindly fazed gtr effect draped over the nagging bass-line, the vocals fitting a little better into the framework, but still odd and full of arcane references. Suicide style gtr and organ propel ' Tourist Woman'. I'm not going to bother quoting any of the lyrics because taken out of context they maken even less sense. Cass is obviously doing a lot of thinking, it's a little skewed, but hugely entertaining and his voice is a charming instrument. You remember the middle of 'You Made Me Realise' by MBV when Kevin Shields is trying to jam as many words as he can in while the song vanishes down hill, well this LP is a little like that. Sometimes though you think, they could be on a 80's trip, 'Sacred Heart' chiming like an Orange Juice number, but to be honest 'Bury Mary' could have come off the VU's LP Loaded with it's shimmer and pace, but it appears to be about burying all vestiges of somebody under the kitchen.

After all this, the penultimate track 'City of Brotherly Love' is just wonderful, with mention of Plato, some Latin and the audacious line 'Welly Welly Well'. It's patient guitar and swirling background effects, the voice sounding a little tired but getting pushed up hill at the end of each line. I just can't pinpoint the voice, maybe a little Julian Casablancas, but with more character, huge charm and slightly more nasal.

The more I listen to this, the better it gets and I can't recommend it enough. They would be a fascinating prospect live but for now make do with this.

By Mr Olivetti

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Final Installment

The last part of WFMU's excellent investigation of the NWW List is online now...

Some choice cuts are:
Sperm - Heinäsirkat mp3
New Phonic - Improvisation Nr. 2 mp3
Wired - Wired I (edit) mp3 (this last one is amazingly still in print - must grab myself a copy)

...a tear rolls down my cheek

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Play alone or with friends...

Bruspi-I look pretty when I’m alone

Bruspi - I look pretty when I’m alone from

Boy, this duo can brew up a decent sound or two – wild, wired and putting rock back on the map in a deliciously messed up way of course – shake in their shadow oh ineffectual ones – this is where honestly dwells…

Thousand of stars, rockguitars.mp3 (6,67MB)

The bugs, the buuuuugs.mp3 (3,58MB)

No words, nobody, just hey and hey and hey and hey.mp3 (3,97MB)

Sort of reminds me of the finer points Sonic Youth’s ‘Sister’ or ‘Evol’, maybe because of ‘the spanner in the works’ guitar … feel like giving them both a spin right now… haven’t listened to them in a long time…

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Children of the Drone - Comp Vol 4

Children of the Drone - Comp Vol.4

The ever prolific ‘Children of the Drone’ have recently released the fourth in their series of on-going compilations. Culled from many hours of Mini-disc recordings, the content of this comp has been whittled down to eleven choice tracks.

Again the musicianship is outstanding – an organic blend of alt-folk that possess an enriched vibe that many strive for, but few achieve. It’s lovely that this type of music is out-there living ‘n’ breathing and not being confined to some dusty old LP or bound by the archaic notions of tradition that a lot of fellow folkies seem to desperately cling to.

By the look of their current recording rate (documented on the informative - ‘
The Spring’ blog) I guess comp 5 is not that long away…

From Comp Vol.4
The Prawn Mayonnaise Sandwich.mp3

From a recent St. Stephens recording session

Friday, September 09, 2005

Adventures in the NWW List - Part2

Nurse with Wound List
More obscure delights from the legendary 'Nurse With Wound List' over at WFMU.
Part 3 promised soon ... this is too good to be true.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mole Harness, Alexander Tucker, Mi and L'au

At the Cube, Bristol - Saturday 3rd September

Mole Harness

Mole Harness - master of the melodic, he produced some tasty looped sound-scapes and skilful layered lullabies that were even better with closed eyes.

Completely instrumental the music was filled to the brim with interesting shapes and structures so much so that at times it was difficult to believe it was being generated by just one person. Visit his website there’s plenty of mp3 on offer.

These two mp3’s will give you an idea about Mole Harness’s sound world:
Day Dream of Dying.mp3
Ripples on Underground Lakes.mp3

Alexander Tucker

Alexander Tucker - I was expecting a folksy song based show from this man on the strength of his recent release 'Old Fog' on the 'ATP' label but on the night we got something that was way more left field.

Fragments of sound were captured through his multitude of pedals and boxes then carefully layered to produce a wall of sound that was worked over with fret board dexterity and shamanic wails with a few songs entering the arena.

When he transformed his electro-acoustic into the low resonance of a bass the sound was enriched with an angsty vibe and I could see the Stephen O'Malley connection instantly.

Sorry about the crap pics – the lighting was too low for the camera and I didn’t want to blind the performer with distracting flash, but you can see some better photos at Underexposed

Mi and L'au

Mi and L'au - This duo were just superbly in tune with each other- as you would expect for lovers, producing a gentle series of acoustic songs that were accompanied by their stunningly unadulterated voices.


L’au had an interesting guitar style – a mixture of Spanish and Blues with his fingers gracefully sketching the tunes. When the duo combined their talents the music was at its most powerful.

I could see the Nico parallel to Mi’s voice – the austere beauty (especially when she used her native language)with the slight abstraction in the lyrics producing lots of fresh ideas and a few chuckles along the way ( the nipple song being one). L’au’s deeper voice was an excellent counterpoint enriched by his heavy French accent.

I’m looking forward to their debut release even more now as I haven’t heard anything this beautiful in years.

Heres a couple of mp3's from their debut:
A Word in your Belly.mp3
They Marry.mp3

Friday, September 02, 2005

Adventures in the NWW List - Part 1

Sample some of the delights from the legendary 'Nurse With Wound List' over at WFMU.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Big Dentist

Lemon Kittens - Big Dentist

Found this in London the other day for well less than the book price which is a staggering £40+. The cover was a bit tatty so that could explain the reduction, fortunately the record itself plays perfectly. For those not in the know, Big Dentist was the very last record by those short lived darlings of musical eccentricity ' The Lemon Kittens' ( Karl Blake and Danielle Dax ) .

It's not as inventive as their debut 'We buy hammer for Daddy' which was an amazing joyride of strangeness (being released a year earlier by that bastion of the sonic underground - Steven Stapleton) but the album sort of takes up and enlarges upon the many directions established in the first album - with the incredible 11 min sonic journey of 'They Are Both Dirty' being testimony to this alone.

For the curious out there check Julian Cope's review on his Head Heritage site... as Mr Cope says this and the debut seriously need re-issuing like yesterday.