Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

Armalyte Industries – 7th December 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

However dark, gritty and sleazy <PIG> have gone over the course of their lengthy (try 30 year) if sporadic career, there’s always been both a wry humour and an appreciation of pop in evidence. This has been thrust to the fore in the latest releases in the shape of the grimy but shiny glam of ‘Risen’ and Raymond Watts’ most recent collaboration with Sasha Grey for a cover of KC and the Sunshine Band’s ‘That’s the Way (I Like It)’ which was pure pop and pure filth in equal measure.

The three covers on offer here – Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas’ and ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ (John Lennon) – are quite surprising in their straightness, but that isn’t to say there isn’t a twist. That is to say, it sounds like <PIG> covering some Christmas classics. Of course, the instrumentation is a little different, and Watts’ gravelly, low-throated style is distinctive to say the least – meaning that George Michael’s heartbroken lament is transformed into a leery come-on with more than a hint of Tom Waits about it, not to mention guitars that sounds like a Status Quo 45 played at 33.

‘Blue Christmas’ trudges and grinds, with Watts delivering his best snarling, sneering JG Thirlwell imitation against a backdrop of Bryan May guitars and soaring chorals. The incongruity is both genius and magic. Wrapping things up with ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’, Watts backs off the irony, the sleaze, and the bombast. There’s no knowing wink behind the gravelly croon here, and it’s genuinely touching. And with all of the profits from this release going to

International Rescue Committee, the purpose of which is to ‘reunite refugee families torn apart by war, persecution or harmful policies’, we get to see a different side to <PIG>: for all of the theatricality, for all of Watt’s near-preposterous showmanship, there’s a real sense of humanity not even a scratch beneath the surface. With Black Mass Watts proves he’s not only the God of Gammon but a decent human being, spreading the real spirit of Christmas in these particularly bleak, Trump and Brexit-dominated times.

AA

Pig - Black Mass

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Tavern Eightieth – TVEI24 – 29th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Described as ‘a large compilation of diverse and exciting music from new and exciting artists,’ VA1+2 is, first and foremost, a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Arguably, that’s reason to purchase it in itself, but of course, in truth, any compilation sells on the basis of the music. The immense range of music on offer on VA1+2 is its real strength, and offering over two hours of music (that’s 22 tracks by 22 different artists packing out a brace of discs), it’s a veritable boon of contemporary electronic, ambient, experimental, electro-acoustic, improvisational and more.

From the semi-ambience of Midoro Hirano’s ‘Regrowth’ and the swampy Latina stylings of Manouchi Bento’s ‘Anpre dans tanbou lou’, there’s much to soak in on disc one. Band Ane’s bleepy, space-age ambient Krautock is particularly intriguing.

Disc two spans the dolorous yet delicate piano-led instrumental of International Debris’ ‘Translucent Orb’ to the eerily ominous ‘Kiki and Bouba’ by Isnaj Dui, via the ethereal transcendental post-punk folk hymnals of ‘This Thought Won’t Last’, the contribution from Zelienople and Glacis’ elegiac epic ‘As long as water flows’.

One of the common pitfalls of compilations, and in particular compilations to raise funds for charity, is that they’re often a bit of a hotch-potch mess, no better than the naff giveaway discs that come with magazines (or used to come with magazines: I don’t know as I stopped buying magazines some time ago, at the point when the quality of features and reviews vs cover price became unfavourably skewed toward the latter) plugging whatever was hot at that moment in the eyes of that publication, with a bunch of album tracks and B-sides taking up the majority of the space. VA 1+2 feels – and sounds – very different. Tavern Eightieth haven’t just taken anything that’s been floating around, and while I despise the overuse of the word in our post-postmodern hipsterised word, there’s a sense that they’ve actually curated a compilation which represents the label. There’s clearly a lot of thought and effort gone into this, from the selection of material itself to the mixing and sequencing of the tracks. And so, while it is a fundraiser, and for an extremely meritorious cause (I’ll spare the lecture here on the underfunding of research into Alzheimer’s given the number of people it affects).

Finally, mastered by Fraser McGowan with an ear on optimal clarity and dynamic range over volume, there’s a sense that every aspect of this release is about doing the music justice. And in turn, they do the charity and the listener justice. Everyone wins.

Tavern Eightieth VA1 2

Tavern Eightieth – VA1+2 at Bandcamp