Posts Tagged ‘Groove’

11th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Yorkshire based Mayshe-Mayshe’s bio references blending ‘dreamy art-pop and electronica with rich storytelling, skittering percussion and infectious melodies’, and how her ‘deceptively simple songwriting – at once universal and deeply personal – incorporates choral vocals, vintage synths and the occasional hairdryer.’

Said hairdryer was observed in a couple of live reviews I’ve penned in recent years, in catching her live in 2016 and 2021, but what always stands out during her performances is just how deftly she combines an array of elements, both stylistic and instrumental. She’s by no means just ‘another’ loop pedal artist, but a musical who judiciously uses the tools available to conjure textured, layered, detailed works which are, at the same time, simple and radiate aa unique sense of – for wont of a better word – naivete. But equally, her capacity for understatement is a defining characteristic. The fact that while playing a number of regional shows to launch Indigo, her second full-length album, her hometown show in York on the release date is in a record shop/café with a capacity of about 30 speaks for itself.

Performing as Mayshe-Mayshe, Alice Rowan presents as not necessarily shy, but introspective, considered, contemplative and as much as immersing her work in reservedness, there’s a certain sparkle of sass and levity in the mix, as titles like ‘You Throw Lemons, We Throw Parties’ from 2019’s Cocoa Smoke indicates.

Indigo is simultaneously simple and complex. As the lyrics to the title track demonstrate, she’s given to exploring emotional depths by balancing the direct and the oblique to create an obfuscating haze. And, in record, the same is true of her compositions.

‘But I Do’ kicks the album off in a style that’s minimal and poppy and kinda urban but at the same time ethereal and shoegazy, with busy fingerdrums and a crystalline distillation of mood that invites solid and favourable comparisons to The XX.

‘Dark Mountain’, released as a single in September, is really rather buoyant, with a bouncy bass and busy lead synth and twitchy urban vocal delivery that’s quite at odds with the tense lyrics and the ‘I’m drowning, downing’ hook which speaks to anxiety and panic. I suppose you might call it a sugar-coated pill, but it showcases Alice’s capacity to pen bleak yet buoyant pop tunes.

In contrast, ‘Moonflood’ is altogether darker yet dreamy, in a Curesque way, while ‘The Colours of Anxiety’, which originally featured on the 2019 Long Division compilation, is looping, lilting, and easy on the ear in a way that brushes over the tension it channels via a stuttering beat akin to a palpating heart. In this way, Mayshe-Mayshe conveys sensation beyond the words, beyond the explicit, and does so beautifully, in the most subtly resonant fashion.

In many ways, ‘Eczema’ speaks for itself, an itch that just won’t go away, sore and raw, uncomfortable and irritating, but presented in a palatable fashion, and ‘How to be Happy’ feels like a conscious attempt to be uplifting – which is it, but there are strong undercurrent which are less joyous. ‘Zachter’ is another previous release, having featured as the lead track on the two-track Zachter EP last year. With its lyrics in German and its instrumentation sparse and gloopy and with a hypnotic minimal dance groove, it’s something of an oddity which sits apart from the rest of the album.

The title track, released as a single only the other week, rounds the album off in a hazy, intricately detailed style. Accessible, and often breezy-sounding and easy on the ear, Indigo is an album that’s rich in depth and complexity. It’s thoughtful and emotive and dark and tense yet still extremely enjoyable. It’s a wonderful thing.

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Shows:

Nov 10

Cobalt Studios

Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Nov 11

FortyFive Vinyl Cafe

York, UK

Nov 12

Hatch

Sheffield, UK

Nov 14

Dubrek Studios

Derby, UK

Nov 15

The Holy GrAle

Durham, UK

Nov 17

Oporto Bar

Leeds, UK

Nov 18

The Peer Hat

Manchester, UK

Nov 19

The Studio

Hartlepool, UK

Nov 20

The Grayston Unity

Halifax, UK

Nov 26

Blues Night

Richmond (North Yorkshire), UK

Negative Gain Productions – 9th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Curse Mackey has enjoyed an enviable career as a frequent performer with legendary industrial collectives Pigface and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and has built a substantial catalogue of work as a solo artist too – and it’s perhaps to be expected that much of this, including his latest, Immoral Emporium, is defined by the vintage late 80s / early 90s Wax Trax! electroindustrial sound.

While Immoral Emporium is undeniably dark, it’s also fairly poppy and accessible, with a title track that calls to mind more recent Gary Numan. And this is in the region of the album’s tone and style overall.

Starting off, ‘Smoking Tongues’ is strong on melody and surprisingly sparse retro synths and while Depeche Mode circa Black Celebration comparisons are likely the obvious choice, it’s as much A Flock of Seagulls. That may appear to some as a rather casual dismissal as being flimsy pop, but the electropop that rode the charts in the early to mid-80s was way darker than it’s usually given credit for or remembered as being. Consequently, suggesting that the spoken-word verses of ‘A Sharp Reminder’ are reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys’ ‘West End Girls’ is absolutely no sleight.

‘The Reveal’ takes a turn for the more overtly industrial, with menacing synth bass pulsations and a death disco thudding beat. ‘Dead Fingers talk’ borders on bouncy, and while ‘Lost Body Hypothesis’ is harder, darker, and driven by a nagging bass, it’s in the same sphere as Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Sin’, and it’s that late-80s grind that dominates Immoral Emporium. Many will bang on about how Pretty Hate Machine broke new ground, but the fact is, without denigrating what is undeniably an outstanding and era-defining album, that it only broke the territory in commercial terms. It maty have added some layers of noise in the production, but it didn’t really add all that much to what Ministry and Depeche Mode had already been doing, and that’s before we get to the conveyor-belt catalogue run of acts churned out by Wax Trax! between 1986 and 1988 with releases by the likes of Revolting Cocks, Front 242, and Fini Tribe. There was a certain sameness among the label’s acts and releases, but they worked, because there’s something instinctive and primal about drums that thump and clatter distortedly against insistent bass workouts and various elements of extraneous noise.

On Immoral Emporium, Curse very much revisits his roots, and it’s well-realised with solid songs packed back-to-back.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Sometime during lockdown – which one, I can’t remember exactly, but likely the first, where here in England what initially looked like being a couple of weeks, ended up being more like a lifetime. After the lockdown announced on 23 March 2020 was extended on 16 April for ‘at least three weeks’ and in fact running into June, the fear surrounding the lifting of restrictions saw references to Stockholm Syndrome circulating with increasing frequency in the media.

Described as ‘a psychological response’ which occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers, and the victim may come to sympathize with their captors, and

may even begin to feel as if they share common goals and causes.

The name originates from a failed bank robbery staged in Stockholm in 1973, where Jan-Erik Olsson, and his charismatic accomplice Clark Olofsson held four employees as hostages, remaining captive for six days in one of the bank’s vaults, and when the hostages were released, none of them would testify against either captor in court; instead, they began raising money for their defence.

While the syndrome is disputed, the concept is something of a source of fascination. Personally, I had never been one of those who found themselves ‘loving lockdown life’, but found myself apprehensive about the easing of lockdown: what would be the ‘right’ way to behave in public, how would things ‘work’? I didn’t need to worry about pub and gig etiquette for a while, but was more fearful of other people than I was of Covid – because people are unpredictable, and after being cooped up for so long, who knows how many might have lost it?

Swedish Netflix mini-series Clark is the story of Clark Olofsson, and while it’s won awards, I found its stylised and flippant comedy-drama approach to be pretty ‘meh’. There’s vague amusement to be had, but ultimately – and for obvious reasons – presents Olofsson as ‘cool’, a cheeky bad boy out for But then, just because it’s not what I would have wanted it to be doesn’t mean it’s no good, it’s just not my bag.

While there are some bold intercuts of ‘proper’ songs featured, it’s not a series where you find yourself really paying attention to the soundtrack for the majority of the time. Listening to the soundtrack independent of the series, it’s a mystery as to why this is.

Of course, much of the interest in the soundtrack will be the fact that it was scored by Mikael Åkerfeldt of progressive metal legends Opeth – and as much as this score is overtly cinematic, it draws equally on progressive rock, funk, laid-back jazz, and 70s cop shows. The last nine of the thirty-four tracks feature vocals, and this portion of the album feels separate again, and may have worked as a separate release or bonus CD or something, as it’s quite a leap. Hell, ‘Måndag I Stockholm’ goes full Sabbath. Incongruous is an understatement and it’s hard to know what to make of it all. Then again… why not?

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Varied, engaging and evocative, it’s imaginative and listenable and entertaining – and a lot less frustrating than the series itself.

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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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