Posts Tagged ‘Album Revieew’

Cruel Nature Records – 3rd December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It may have been the year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac, but 2021 seems to have been more the year of the snake, especially in politics. This snake, however, is one you can trust, if only to be treacherous, particularly in winter: as the accompanying notes explain, ‘The Snake was loosely conceived as a soundtrack to driving along the mysterious, historic route through the Pennines which connects his hometown of Liverpool with his childhood city of Sheffield, and as such forms a bridge between family and friends.’ It’s perhaps not entirely coincidental that it shares its title with the track by Sheffield legends The Human League, also in reference to Snake Pass which carries the A57 to an elevation of some 1,680 feet.

Mitternacht – the solo vehicle for one of the members of Liverpool band Rongorongo – captures the mood in nine compositions, and it’s not just a linear journey, but a journey through time, with nods to aspects of the road’s history as well as it’s geography and geology.

‘The Turnpike’ refers to the original name of the pass, the Sheffield to Glossop Turnpike, and locks into a krautrock groove and it sets the tone, with some dark beats and squelchy, muddy bass frequencies along the way. The Bleaklow Bomber is a US Boeing RB-29A Superfortress which crashed on the gritstone moorland of Bleaklow, killing all 13 crew in 1948, the remains of which remain visible, and it’s a reminder that man is always at the mercy of the environment, and can never truly conquer it whatever advances are made. ‘Nowt But Horizon’ reflects the more ambient aspects of the album, and conveys the vast expanse of untamed wilderness that is the Pennines. It’s bleak, unforgiving, as stretches of the Pennine way more than abundantly evidence. The complex beats are muffled, the air deadened and murky.

Clocking in at over eight-and-a-half minutes, ‘Snowstorm’ is a real standout, flickering, fluttering synth arpeggios rippling, skittering and drifting atop deep, booming swells of bass. Retro loops scratch and cut in and out, and as the layers build, so it becomes increasingly disorientating, a kind of aural onomatopoeia.

For any vintage vibes about The Snake, there’s also a timelessness, which is never more present than in the closing ‘Temptress of the Hills’, a subtle piece that, like much of the album, is built around looping repetitions and granular textures. It’s an evocative work, but one that you can also nod along and mellow out to, and as such, Mitternacht has delivered an accomplished and accessible album.

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Staubgold – Staubgold 141 –20th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Vivien Goldman knows people. She’s written about so many in her capacity as a widely-published journalist, and she’s worked with a fair few, too, and as such, Resolutionary is a fascinating document of her collaborations, recorded during a particularly fertile period between 1979 and 1982. The roll-call of musicians featured on the eight tracks here is staggering: John Lydon, Keith Levene and Bruce Smith (PiL) Robert Wyatt, Steve Beresford and David Toop, and Vicky Aspinall (The Raincoats), and Neneh Cherry, amongst others, all feature here.

In many ways, Resolutionary is an odds-and-sods effort, a curio, a retrospective exhibition which focuses on the individual artist’s career more than its context, and which represents what was essentially a brief period in Goldman’s career, which has since been devoted to the documentation of music-making, rather than the actual making of music. But Goldman’s musical legacy is noteworthy, however scant. Her brief time with The Flying Lizards remains a career-defining spell, despite the fact that she wasn’t the one who provided the vocals on their biggest hit, ‘Money’. But in many ways, that’s a positive. No-one wants to be pegged as a one-hit wonder, their life spent in the shadow of that singular moment, and more importantly, Resolutionary serves to realign history, to an extent.

It’s an interesting aside to note that Public Image’s ‘This is Not a Love Song’ was inspired, in title at least, by The Flying Lizards track ‘Her Story’, which features here. Indeed, the two Flying Lizards tracks, ‘Her Story’ and ‘The Window’ (both of which feature Goldman on vocals, the latter of which was also composed by her) represent the detached, minimal pop they’re famed for. Big, strolling basslines are again the defining feature of these off-kilter noodles. Although readily available on The Flying Lizards’ eponymous debut, revisiting them in the context of Goldman’s output rather than that of the band offers an alternative context.

The dubtastic quirky kitchen-sink pop of solo cuts ‘Launderette’ and its attendant B-sides, released on the ‘Dirty Washing’ 12”, are worth the money alone. ‘Private Army’ is a colossal six-and-a-half spaced-out dub-based beast, the percussion and sax spiralling into a vortex of reverb. ‘P.A’ Dub’ – the dub version of ‘Private Army’ does dub out the vocals.

The Chantage tracks are the most accessible, with a lighter tone and style, with the pop reggae of ‘Same Thing twice’ proving a buoyant standout. But then, the Gallic theatricality of ‘It’s Only Money’ is equally beguiling and showcases Goldman’s range.

The interview with Vivien, recorded in 1981 and released on a cassette compilation is interesting, articulate, energetic, and insightful, although the audio quality is less than brilliant, and one does have to strain at times to decipher what’s being said. Still, as a historical document, its appearance on the disc is more than justified. The extensive liner notes, too, are pretty good, and overall, this is a quality package.

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Vivien Goldman Online