Posts Tagged ‘Groove’

MFZ Records – 24th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Conceived and recorded between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, this set reflects ‘the everyday troubles Davide [Nicosia, aka Acid Youth], deals with as an individual but also as part of a community’.

The title refers to his ‘desire to get out of the gloom and seek for a reassuring light’, and explores this theme by the vehicle of dance music exploiting the vintage Roland TB-303, produced only for a short time between 1981 and 84. It was supposed to sound like a bass guitar. It didn’t. Of course, it would later come to be appreciated, and Reverse Darkness is a concise encapsulation of the appeal of these vintage analogue machines.

Against shuffling drums – heavy echoed with some thudding bass beats – there are simmering synths that drift and wash, and a flock of fluttering tweets, all underpinned by a thick, bouncing bass groove, ‘Vibrato Brilliance’ is simultaneously sparse yet dense, and Nicosia really starts to warp things up on the dislocated retro-futurist title track.

Acid Youth very much captures not only the sound but also the feel of those early 80s dance cuts, the kind of meandering, gloopy synth works that appeared on soundtracks of movies where computers had green text on little monitors and neon lights were synonymous with the future. Being nine or ten in 1985, it felt exciting; with hindsight, it feels like the future we ended up with is a whole lot less of a rush, but hearing this inspires a kind of nostalgia, not for anything specific, but for a feeling, a sense of a near future, thanks to rapidly evolving technologies, that held near-infinite potential. Setting aside any gloom over the disappointment that those potentials now feel chronically unfulfilled as we stumble through every dystopia ever envisioned rolled into one colossal morass of shit on shit, Reverse Darkness tugs me back to the crackle of excitement that once coursed through culture.

He goes really deep on the uptempo ‘Modded Dub’, full-on bass squelch wobbling and rippling atop an insistent kick drum – but it’s toppy, and really packs a punch towards the chest rather than the gut, and in context creates a different kind of tension by way of the contrast with the thick, bassy bass, and it’s true – they don’t make ‘em like they used to.

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The latest release from the darkly delicious mind of Raymond Watts aka PIG is ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’, a brand new EP awash with religious lyrical fervour and riffs that could effortlessly crush a tank.

Teased in early May, the relentless juggernaut of a title track opens proceedings and is followed onto the dancefloor by ‘Speak Of Sin’, which sounds like an instant PIG masterpiece and of which Watts says “I wanted to brew up a song of bounteous horrors and delights for the barren of belief, bathed in the brutality and beauty of pure electronic savagery.” The song sports a matching video, with Watts simply explaining: “Who else to turn to but Ed Finkler? His acid soaked visuals are the perfect balance to burn your eyeballs like a sacred heart will seduce the soul.”

Things then take a turn for the sublime as ‘Tarantula’ sinks its pernicious fangs deep into the psyche, clasping the listener tight in its electronic web, while closing out the release is the slower but no less ecclesiastic ‘Shooting Up Mercy’, an epic paean to the cosmic joke that is human existence.
Accompanying these four new slices of PIGgish playfulness on its 12” vinyl format are three bonus extended versions added to the digital release to fully sate your fix.

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ completes PIG’s tarot quadrilogy, a tragedy in four parts that also includes the earlier volumes ‘Sex & Death’, ‘Pain is God’ and ‘Drugged Dangerous & Damned’.
Providing blessings, but hopefully not the bleeding, on this particular release are regular PIG collaborators Steve White, En Esch and Michelle Martinez.

As with the other releases in the set, Watts has determined that presentation is paramount, and the spellbinding physical edition of ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ comes on opulent 12" white vinyl in a die cut custom sleeve that houses a printed inner sleeve and three brand new tarot cards.

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Christopher Nosnibor

This is by no means the first time I’ll have mentioned that sometimes, the best gigs are the ones you have to drag yourself to. The dragging here is no reflection on the bands, so much as the fact that when work and life are sapping your soul and you’re not feeling like doing anything ‘people’ orientated, the prospect of venturing out to be among people on a Tuesday night is not one that fires a burst of enthusiasm. You want to stay home. You want to hibernate. But the combination of beer and live music is so often the best therapy – and this proved to be one of those nights.

I have long lost count of the number of times I’ve seen or otherwise written about both Soma Crew and Percy, and while they both fit the bracket of ‘local’ bands, they’re both bands who bring great joy to see, and no-one dismisses London bands who only play a circuit of half a dozen small venues in London as ‘local’, do they? And you can’t watch ‘local’ bands in London with a decent hand-pulled pint in a proper glass for £4 a pint, either.

All three bands are playing on the floor in front of the stage, and The New Solar Drones have a lot of instruments spilling out, including a maraca, triangle, and timpani. It’s quite a sight to behold on entering, and the additional percussion goes a long way to giving the band a distinctive sound. Mellow country flavoured indie branches out in all kinds of directions. The rolling, thunderous drums lend a real sense of drama to the waves of noodling synths. The guitar workout on a song about Hollywood gets a bit Hotel California, but it’s well executed. The final track marks a shift from laid-back easy-going Americana into some kind of post-rock progressive folk that’s rather darker and lasts about ten minutes, complete with clarinet solo. They’ve got some rough edges to iron out, but the songs are solid and it’s an impressive debut.

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The New Solar Drones

With a new album around the corner, this is Percy’s first gig in seven months. Three quarters of the band are crowded to one side of the stage, while singer/guitarist Colin is on the other. Either it’s because he’s a grumpy sod, or perhaps just because his guitar amp is so bloody loud. ‘Going off on One’ kicks off the set energetically and sets the pace for a career-spanning selection that focuses on the more uptempo aspects of their catalogue. Bassist Andy’s post-lockdown look is J Mascis, but he charges around cranking out low end beef, and it’s the rhythm section that dominates, while Paula’s keyboards bring some melody and definition in contrast to the scratchy guitar sound.

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Percy

“Fray Bentos pie! With gravy!” The slower, synthier ‘Alice’ sounds more like Joy Division than their usual jagged post­punk grind and graft, but while most of the lyrics are indecipherable, the pie and gravy seem to be the focus. They really attack the snarling ‘Will of the People’, and its relevence seems to grow by the day. Colin comes on like Mark E Smith at his most vitriolic… and there, I failed in my attempt to review Percy without recourse The Fall. Seems it just can’t be done. They close with a brand new song, ‘Chunks’, about ‘chunks in gravy!’ Yep, definitely a theme, and if Percy are something of a meat and potatoes band, it’s in the way The Wedding Present are hardy perennials and brimming with northern grit.

A resonant throb gradually leaks from the PA, and from it emerges Soma Crew’s quintessential motorik pumping. Standing near the front, I reflect on the fact I could use a wide angle lens to get all of them in. They have a lot of guitars. The front man from The New Solar Drones is on keys and lap steel and, later guitar, and the lap steel accentuates the band’s overall drone and gives something of a Doorsy vibe.

They’re on serious form tonight, sounding solid and energetic. Shifting up to three guitars, they hit a swinging rock ‘n’ roll blues boogie groove.

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Soma Crew

While I find myself drifting on this tripped-out repetition, I consider the fact that less is more. Chords, that is, not instruments. Four guitars (if you count the bass) playing three chords in an endless cycle is better than two guitars, which in turn is better than one. The songs and structures are simple: the effect is all in the layering up and the reverb. Listening to bands that are overtly about the technical proficiency is often pretty dull. Passion and mood count for so much more. Volume helps, and with a brutal backline and sympathetic sound man, they hit that sweet spot where it hurts just a bit even with earplugs. Simon’s slightly atonal droning vocals are soporific, and everything just melts into an all-engulfing wash of sound. ‘Mirage’ kicks with volume and solid repetitive groove, while ‘Say You Believe’ is straight up early Ride/Chapterhouse, before ‘Propaganda Now’ is a blistering drive through a wall of Jesus and Mary Chain inspired feedback that brings the set to a shimmering, monster climax.

I stumble out, my ears buzzing, elated. Because everything came together to surpass expectations to make for an outstanding night.

San Diego’s Wild Wild Wets continue to roll out singles off their upcoming new album ‘Love Always.’

The latest, ‘The Seer,’ is accompanied by a fully-animated music video (premiering today) created by Michael Turi, frontman and co-founder of Wild Wild Wets.

The track itself features backup vocals by Shelbi Bennett (The Midnight Pine and The Havnauts), and while the single version was cut to a stoney 4:20 minutes, the album version is 8 minutes long and includes nearly 4 minutes of added takeoff time that echoes Stereolab’s ‘kraut-rock’ sensibility with Turi & his bandmate and co-frontman Taejon Romanik sharing in the masterful quilting of noise and melody.

Turi explains, "I championed this track to be recorded and it eventually grew to become one of our favorite tracks on the new album, "Love Always". The song was written about a mixture between the writing process, a love for that along with the mantra that comes with completing your art, but also acts as a mantra for living, in general. I am and have always been obsessed with cartoons and it’s been a long-time dream to animate something of my own. Cosmically, I was able to use the last year of off-and-on pandemic scares to finally sink my teeth into the process. So many late nights of delirium spike this colorful dose of weirdness. I learned a lot during this creation process and once I’m over enjoying the time away from animating this I look forward to finishing my next project."

Romanik adds, “The Seer is an ethereal and cathartic pop song about writing pop songs. A story of the creative process and seeing things through to the end. Harmony vocals were performed by Shelbi Bennett of the Midnight Pine and The Havnauts. The Seer is the 3rd single from our 3rd LP ‘Love Always.’ It may be the catchiest song we have ever written."

Watch the video here:

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The latest release from the darkly delicious mind of Raymond Watts aka PIG is ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’, a brand new EP awash with religious lyrical fervour and riffs that could effortlessly crush a tank. The title track is a relentless juggernaut before ‘Speak Of Sin’ takes to the dancefloor. It sounds like an instant PIG masterpiece.

Things take a turn for the sublime as ‘Tarantula’ sinks its pernicious fangs deep into the psyche, clasping the listener tight in its electronic web, while closing out the release is the slower but no less ecclesiastic ‘Shooting Up Mercy’, an epic paean to the cosmic joke that is human existence.
Accompanying these four new slices of PIGgish playfulness on its 12” vinyl format are three bonus extended versions added to the digital release to fully sate your fix.

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ completes PIG’s tarot quadrilogy, a tragedy in four parts that also includes the earlier volumes ‘Sex & Death’, ‘Pain is God’ and ‘Drugged Dangerous & Damned’.

Providing blessings, but hopefully not the bleeding, on this particular release are regular PIG collaborators Steve White, En Esch and Michelle Martinez.

As with the other releases in the set, Watts has determined that presentation is paramount, and the spellbinding physical edition of ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ comes on opulent 12" white vinyl in a die cut custom sleeve that houses a printed inner sleeve and three brand new tarot cards.

Watch the lyric video for ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ here:

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Composer/producer Jay Crocker turns to exuberant noise-tinged polychrome electronic avant-jazz on his third JOYFULTALK album for Constellation.

Crocker revisits his early musical years as a jazz/improv guitarist in Calgary’s out-music scene of the 2000s, laying down new licks on Familiar Science alongside bass, synth, midi sequencing and stacked wordless vocals, while splicing and dicing additional guest recordings.

Features a virtual combo with contributions from percussionists Eric Hamelin (Ghostkeeper, Chad Vangaalen) and Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Alvvays), horns and flutes from Nicola Miller (Ryan Driver, Doug Tielli) and archival tape of the late Calgary saxophonist-iconoclast Dan Meichel.

Listen to ‘Take it to the Grave’ here:

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Jay Crocker by Kyle Cunjak

Cool Thing Records – 18th March 22

Christopher Nosnibor

Ahead of the release of their second album, Sea Change, BAIT social critics and all-round ragers blast us with another taster in the shape of ‘TV Personality’.

Sonically, it’s something of a departure from previous outings, in that they’ve dialled back the abrasion a few notches. That doesn’t mean it’s by any means tame, since they’ve been pedal-to-the-metal pretty much all the way so far.

The synths are more prominent on this compared to previous releases, and with a bouncy, processed-sounding bass, it’s very much in the in the vein of mid-80s industrial, like pre-Rape and Honey Ministry (think ‘Every Day Is Halloween’), with a dash of Pretty Hate Machine Nine Inch Nails and a big greasy slap of Big Sexy Land Revolting Cocks. It’s all in that pumping bass groove that nags away like an old-school console game. It’s also their most overtly melodic song to date, meaning that the obligatory Killing Joke reference places it alongside ‘Love Like Blood’ rather than ‘Money is Not Our God’.

Lyrically, it’s not so much of a departure, and we find the guys running rampant in their domain of railing against mass-media, manufactured culture and their numbing effects. Television is still the opium of the people – only now, with the advent of 24-hour rolling news media beaming plague, disaster, and war into our homes via infinite devices, we’ve got a direct injection of fear being pumped into our eyeballs the second we open our eyes. And so, while twitching with terror, people seek the comfort of mental chewing gum like game shows, and so-called ‘celebrity’ shit, whether it’s dancing, skating, baking, or eating camels’ anuses and gnats’ chuffs in the name of entertainment.

Reality TV isn’t real, TV ‘personality’ is something of a misnomer, since practically every word is scripted, every move staged, hair, makeup, camera angles all as controlled and contrived as the filtered selfie snaps on Instagram. And here, amidst the relentless wash of fake shit, BAIT are keeping it real.

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1st December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Just shy of a year since Cave Suns threw their improvised ‘Surk Skum’ EP into the plague-ridden void, they return with a proper lo-fi DIY release, consisting of four pieces, ‘improvised live one take each song apologies included’ they write. The set was captured on an iPhone and is released on a limited edition cassette (and digitally, of course).

Beyond the world of the major label (and the domain of the indie label with some cash behind it), this increasingly appears to be the future of the little band. With the chances of getting signed and getting bankrolled these days practically nil even for solids acts with some commercial potential and significantly less than zero for artists doing anything without that commercial potential (which isn’t to say there’s no audience or demand), they’re taking thee means of production into their own hands and just getting on with getting their music out there. If one positive thing has emerged from the last couple of years under the pandemic – and let’s face it, it’s been hard to find anything positive, particularly for bands and small venues (I’m hesitant to say ‘the music industry’ because Ed Sheeran and Eric Clapton won’t have suffered too heavily from the lack of touring options in terms of bank balance or their ability to reach audiences or shift units / merch and I’m sure the likes of Warners aren’t questioning their viability right now) – it’s the fact that perhaps finally any stigma around self-releasing has been eradicated. That said, for Newcastle’s Cave Suns, it’s business as usual: they’ve been self-governed and self-releasing since 2014 and haven’t been troubling studios in order to lay down their intrusive improvised sessions, preferring instead to capture live shows and rehearsal room jams

‘Dunder Salt’ is a kind of mellow psychedelic swagger with a buoyant bassline and bopping beat that seems to all cast a nod to the verse of The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’. With minimal progression, there’s a Krautrock element to the vaguely jazzy, vaguely funky groove. It’s a solid jam, but it’s not until the eleven-and-a-half-minute ‘To Who It May Concern’ that they really show us what they’re capable of. Mystical, eastern-inspired scales twist in a slow-building swell of sound, a hum and a drone of bass and tentative drumming before emerging on a vast sonic plateau. It’s one of those compositions that stops and starts so often that it’s hard to decide if it ever really gets going, or if it’s several pieces string together; perhaps more reasonably it’s best described as several movements with a succession of ebbs and flows and sustained crescendos, often with the drums pounding hard with insistent thrashing of cymbals and hitting some solid grooves even with the stretches of meandering guitar.

‘Essesse’ kicks off wide two with something altogether lighter, more technical, with a mathy aspect, and also more overtly proggy, you might even go so far as to describe it as jaunty – but then, you may not. It’s kind of a collision between That Fucking Tank, Muse, and Royal Blood. Maybe it’s more as well, It’s certainly their most ‘muso’ cut to date, and is also highly accessible.

The 11-minute ‘13th Celebration’ that rounds off the EP and the remainder of side two is built around a repetitive bas throb that evokes the monotonous groove of Suicide, but overlaid with a sprawling guitar jam that’s part prog, part space rock, all improv. They lock into a neat groove for a time and really rock out, but then slow it down and trip out, crawling to the close.

Hypnotic, groovy, completely free of the shackles of genre and commerce, No Guards knows no limits and captures Cave Suns on fine form.

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12th April 2019

Creativity is one of those things that’s innate, and as such, while it’s something that can be suppressed, sidelined, ignored, overlooked, and can even lie dormant for protracted periods, it’s an urge that never dies.

Karen Haglof stepped in to play guitar with Band of Susans after two of the three Susans who featured in the original lineup departed after the first album and featured alongside Paige Hamilton on 1989’s Love Agenda and the band’s Peel session, also released as an EP before departing to pursue a more solid, and what some might call ‘grown-up’ career’.

Most people in bands have day-jobs on account of the economics of music-making, but few have successful headline careers in medicine. And yet, after building a career as an oncologist for some twenty years, Haglof felt the urge to get back into music. And somehow, she’s found time to release three albums and an EP since 2015 – although their writing and evolution goes back a little further.

Karen says of her music, “I love a heavy drum beat and thick deep bass. I love noise and wall of sound guitars and idiosyncratic rhythms. I love open D and finger style. I love a crunchy guitar. I love sly lyrics and depth of feeling. I love a pop song and a pop groove. I love a dance groove. Does all this come through in my music? I don’t know, but I am always trying for it to come through.”

Tobriano is certainly a lot poppier than anything Band of Susans released, and definitely boasts some tidy grooves, bringing to the fore elements of country and vintage radio-friendly rock. But pop should never be viewed as synonymous with lightweight, weak, or disposable. ‘Humbled and Chastened’ brings some beef, while ‘These are the Things’ brings some jazz brass and a solid groove. Elsewhere, the choppy guitars, insistent drums and raw sax of ‘Favour Favour’ calls to mind the early years of The Psychedelic Furs, which is certainly no bad thing.

To describe Tobriano as ‘mature’ isn’t to do it a disservice or dismiss it as dull: it’s an album that’s laid back, confident, assured. It isn’t about testing limits or pushing boundaries, and it’s in that sense that Tobriano is mature. What it is about is enjoying act of making music, and celebrating musicianship and creativity. And this very much does come through in the music, making for solid listening pleasure.

Karen Haglof online.

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31st August 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

SAHARAS’ previous single, ‘Sweat’ won me over in an instant, being a sucker for that post-millennial retake on the post-punk sound.

The contention that they’re ‘one of the most unique emerging bands in the industry’ might be a bit of a stretch, but on the strength of this latest effort, they’re proving to be one of the most consistent and exciting, which is probably a bigger deal.

They forewarn that ‘Shake My Fever’ marks ‘a shift in focus from their previous synth-heavy arrangements of past releases [resulting…] in an increase of emphasis on their spacious and melodic guitar work.’ This is no bad thing, and said guitar work was always there and integral to the sound and structure.

The cover art looks like a nod to The Cure’s ‘A Forest’, but with its buoyant post-punk disco beats, ‘Shake My Fever’ is closer to ‘Let’s go to Bed’ or ‘Hot! Hot! Hot!’. It’s unashamedly poppy and less angular than its predecessor: it’s still all about the smoky, chorus-heavy guitars and wandering bass groove, but with the melodic backing vocal hook to the fore in the chorus, it’s what you might justifiably call a ‘chooooon!’

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Saharas - Shake