Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

Unbound – 11th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

I may not have discovered The Sisters of Mercy until 1987 (being born in ‘75, I was simply too young to have been around in their first phase), like many, I have long been fascinated by those early years and their ascent from vaguely ramshackle indie act to the band who released the album which would essentially define the sound of ‘goth’ for decades to come. By ‘fascinated’, I really mean ‘obsessed’, particularly in my teens, but my love of The Sisters has endured. While the story of those first five years has been told, retold, fetishized and transformed into lore with elements of legend and myth blended in along the way (much of which having been perpetuated by Andrew Eldritch himself), it’s never been given truly detailed coverage, and for this reason, I joined many in pitching in for the crowdfunding of Mark Andrews’ biography. The wait felt like forever, and in the meantime, Trevor Ristow dropped Waiting for Another War (which I’m yet to pick up) on the same period. And so it is that Sisters bios are like proverbial busses, although that’s certainly no complaint: it simply indicates the impact and significance of a band who, despite having been in existence for over forty years and who haven’t released a record in the last thirty.

The book looks and feels like quality (although some have griped about the lack of capitalisation on the definite article both on the cover and throughout the text), but it’s on the contents that Andrews’ work should be judged. There is no two ways about it that Paint My Name in Black and Gold was worth the wait.

Two things immediately stand out: the quality and depth of the research, and the quality of the prose. The latter is particularly appreciated, and important: all the research in the world counts for little if not conveyed in a way that’s appealing. Put simply, Andrews writes nicely, and he writes well, accessibly but not pitched at those with a reading level of The Sun. Nor does he become so involved in trainspotting details of catalogue numbers or numbers of copies pressed or sold or takes in the studio. This is a very human biography, and the input from pretty much everyone involved with the band during the time (with the notable exception of Eldritch) not only brings it to life, but also gives it a real weight of credibility. Mark Pearman (Gary Marx) comes across particularly well, his reflections honest and considered, his position remarkably philosophical and even-handed.

The way in which Andrews places the development of the band in context makes for very interesting reading, with extensive coverage of the Leeds scene of the late 70s and early 80s, as well as the band’s strong links with York at the beginning (the Priestley’s signage remains at the top of Bootham, although it’s now a rather bourgeois homeware retailer). This alone makes for essential reading for anyone with an interest in the emerging post-punk scene, where writing about Leeds has been largely overshadowed by that on Manchester, and of course, London.

He moves things on at a steady but swift pace, but at the same time doesn’t skimp on detail, and pack the book with anecdotes and information about standout nights on particular tours and recording sessions, as well as various wild antics that seem so at odds with the seriousness of the music. Above all, Andrews captures the essence of the experience of existing in and around The Sisters during this time – the camaraderie and sense of community and even family, the buzz, the connection between the band, collectively and individually, with their fans. He also traces how the dynamic would shift and some of that proximity would diminish over time as the band got bigger. It’s also apparent that even in the early stages, the band dynamic and friendships thrived on the differences as much as the similarities of the members, and how much Eldritch was the driving force.

Andrews also presents an impressively balanced and objective perspective: while clearly a fan, there’s no idolisation of the band or any individual here, and his admiration for Eldritch – something that most of the interview subjects also express – is tempered by a realistic appraisal of his shortcomings and at times wilful stubbornness and perversity. That Eldritch is a stickler and prone to obsessive behaviour is widely known among fans, but Andrew really brings things to life when he writes of how Eldritch would literally spend long nights fiddling with EQ levels just to hear how they sound, and it requires no imagination whatsoever to comprehend the frustrations of band members and producers alike working alongside him. But more than even this, in Paint My Name, Andrews goes a long way to excavate the contradictions and complexities of the man who became Andrew Eldritch, how the nerdy, glam-obsessed Andrew Taylor would transmogrify into the beast that is Eldritch, and details the damage done to both himself – mentally and physically – and those around him along the way. The poverty and degradation are at times harrowing, and the long tours of ‘84 and ‘85 may have been among the band’s most memorable and seen them play to the largest numbers of fans of their career, but the way in which Andrews relays just how strung-out, fucked-up and fractured the band were behind the scenes renders their achievements all the more remarkable.

The epilogue provides a condensed overview of the years which would follow, but it’s clear that none of The Sisters’ subsequent history could come close to being quite as gripping as the first five years, whereby the rise of The Sisters would reverberate indefinitely.

The hardback is sold out, but the e-book edition is still available via Unbound.

81MD-vGPuqL

Wharf Chambers, Leeds, 3rd December 2021

This is a show I’d been revved for for quite some time: on their last visit to this venue, back in 2017, noise veterans Part Chimp blew me away with the sheer quality of their performance, as well as their sheer volume, prompting me to ruminate on how ‘they radiate noise from every orifice and every pore’ and how ‘the guitars serrate your skull and the bass vibrates your solar plexus and every riff is as heavy as a small planet and the drums as hard as basalt.’ Experiences like that are rare, but also addictive: as a gig—goer, you want every show to replicate that level of thrill, that mind-blowing intensity, and it’s a dragon you’ll chase and chase but rarely capture. There’s also a thing about seeing a band for the first time, when you don’t know really what to expect, and then whatever your expectations may have been, they’re confounded tenfold. Second, third, fourth time around, it’s unlikely you’ll feel that same sock in the face.

Anticipation for the evening stepped up a few notches on disclosure of the support act, Objections, being ‘a pair of Bilge Pump’s and a Beards’. ‘Formed in 2007, dispatched in 2018’, the latter splattered their way onto the scene with their sound defined by the explosively angular racket of their debut album ‘Brick by Boulder’, and during their existence, proved to be a stunning live proposition. Meanwhile, the former, revitalised in 2019 after almost a decade’s silence had been reaffirming their status as Leeds legends prior to the pandemic halting their live activity.

Objections is Bilge Pump’s Joe O’Sullivan and Neil Turpin with ex-Beards’ Claire Adams. Claire covers bass and vocals, while Joe’s weapon of choice is a 12-string, which brings some real depth and density to their brand of sinewy post punk. It’s goth meets math rock, and at the same time combines the best of both Bilge Pump and Beards. The guitar provides texture and tone rather than tune, sculpting shapes, and watching O’Sullivan is always a joy, not to mention exhausting: the man is a relentless blur of energy (and impossible to [photograph without better kit than mine), and plays every chord with his entire body, leaping, lurching, and perspiring heavily every whichway. Adams’ bass is stop/start, lumbering, and the choppy, angular songs with their variable time signatures are held together with precision percussion from Turpin. Oftentimes, a relentless repetitive rhythm grinds a backdrop to peeling shards of guitar splinters, and chunk funk bass drives a collision between Shellac and Gang of Four, leading towards an ultimate space rock finale. They are stunning, and the place is busy, and the reception they receive is well deserved: this is one of those occasions where you could leave immediately after the support and feel that you’ve easily had your money’s worth.

DSC_1127DSC_1123

Objections

But then, it’s Part Chimp headlining, promoting their latest album, Drool, their sixth proper in their twenty-year career and the follow-up to 2018’s Cheap Thriller, and it’s the final track from this album that they power into a blistering set that’s a massive barrelling noise of relentless riffery from the off. They’re out as a three-piece sans bass tonight, but make enough racket for infinite members, with enough downtuning to cover the low end. And when I say that they’re loud, I mean they’re seriously fucking loud. Standing front row stage right I’m overwhelmed by the speaker shredding backline of Iain Hinchliffe’s guitar but it’s magical – obliterative, immersive, cathartic.

At this point in their career, they’re no longer young, and they’re not overtly cool, with their beanstalk singer and somewhat squat and unsvelte guitarist, but it’s the music that matters and makes them the coolest guys around: they make the best fucking noise, and may have just released their best album, which occupies half the set and reveals its range magnificently. Battering away at a couple of chords blended with all the distortion and feedback, the vocals buried in echo, and there’s a sample that runs between the songs throughout set in a fashion that’s reminiscent of the loop that runs through Rudimentary Peni’s Pope Adrian 37th Psychristiatric. With guitars like bulldozers blasting out rifferama ear-bleeding volume – did I mention that the volume’s up to twelve or thirteen?

DSC_1143pc...

Part Chimp

There are occasional hints of Hawkwind happening, but overloaded with distortion and howling feedback at a thousand decibels and there’s some bad trip psychedelia slow and hypnotic in the mix. But Once again, it very quickly becomes a haze, and it’s impossible to do anything but yield to the wall of sound and enjoy. Live music fans live for moments like this, and it’s clear that everyone in the room was in the same space. If there is a heaven, it has to be this.

Having recently unveiled the video to the killer lead song from their forthcoming EP, No Guts All the Glory, Weekend Recovery have announced they’re celebrating an EP launch in two of their favourite cities, namely  London and Leeds, at The Grace and Headrow House respectively, in early February of 2022.

Weekend Recovery recently debuted a new lineup as a three-piece, and a new sound that harder, rockier, and more direct, and these dates will provide an opportunity tom witness the emerging next stage of the band’s evolution, and they’ve got some cracking supports lined up, too.

Dates are:

Leeds, 3rd Feb with support from Salvation Jayne & Helle @ Headrow House. Tickets: www.weekendrecoveryofficial.bandcamp.com/merch/leeds-ep-launch

London 4th Feb with support from Dirty Orange @ The Grace. Tickets: www.ticketweb.uk/event/weekend-recovery-ep-launch-show-the-grace-tickets/11537935

No Guts’ is a corker and it’s already been getting early radio play, a sign that this is a band continuing their upward trajectory. Chances are they won’t be playing venues this size much longer. Exciting times.

See you down the front!

AA

257444014_4551127164923901_308912582594997544_n257940756_4551127148257236_4265160933946605075_n

Nim Brut – 19th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The hardest battles are those against yourself: they’re perpetually self-defeating and at the same time impossible to win. A duelling duality creates the core dynamic of Rejection Ops. The Leeds-based duo’s bio describes them as ‘a drummer and bass-and-electronics player who sound like each is trying to outdo the other at driving audiences from the room’, presenting a scene of duality and conflict, and this document of that internal tension was captured in its rawest form, namely self-recorded on a Zoom recorder during May 2021, so no engineering panache or highly-detailed production values here, no layering, multitracking, or overdubs. And it’s a mangled, gnarly mess of noise from beginning to end. It’ sets your teeth on edge, it makes your organs vibrate. It makes you feel tense, and grind your teeth. And these are the reasons to love it, because it has impact. It’s not some comfortable background work, and it’s not even songs that drift into your ears and lodge softly but with longevity. Rejection Ops vs. Rejection Ops is pre-emptive revenge for something you may do, and it’s going to punish you hard for it.

The first track, ‘Agendas Vary’ is a squall of feedback and overloading noise pitched against a tempest of thunderous drumming, and it does that free jazz thing of sounding like the climactic finale of an epic set without there having been the epic set preceding it. As such, it’s seven minutes of ear-bleeding, cranium-crushing chaos that doesn’t go anywhere, but then isn’t intending to.

‘Atomic Basketry’, the album’s longest track at almost eight minutes in duration, ratchets up the noise and almost buries the percussion beneath a blistering squall of screaming noise, a tidal wave of treble, a deluge of distortion. Blistering electronic noise, a bowel-shredding harsh noise wall splatters against arrhythmic clattering.

Thereafter, the form shifts away from expansive and exploratory towards brief blasts of mangled abrasion, every one faster and harder and wilder and more off the wall. Guitars thrashed hard splinter in a mesh of treble while the drums pop like bubblewrap. ‘Heeding Tartan’ is particularly abrasive, two-and-a-half minutes of metal-scraping, crunching, white hot molten noise, and ‘Raging Ninepin’ rages hard, so hard it blisters and peels and pulverises the grey matter to the point of near liquefication. The drums ricochet hard and fast like machine gun fire through ‘Rat Pie’, which snarls and crackles hard, but it’s all just a prep for the sonic blitzkrieg of the final cut, ‘Soon Learned’. Even sooner remember earplugs would be the advice, because this absolutely fucking hurts. Again, it’s three and a half minutes of everything all at once, only here, it’s the head-shredding crescendo climax it sounds like, rather than just some avant jazz end without a start.

By the time it’s over, you feel battered, bruised, drained, but also buzzed and exhilarated. The purpose of art is not to entertain, but to challenge, to arouse the senses. Rejection Ops certainly challenge – not only the listener, but themselves and one another, to create a stupendously intense experience.

AA

a3422423491_10

Christopher Nosnibor

The last time the once-ubiquitous Blacklisters graced us with their presence in Leeds was back in 2017. A lot has happened since then, including some substantial geographical ones for the bandmembers. In fact, there was a time when it seemed as if the band was no more: following the release of Adult in 2015, things went quiet, bar the unexpected release of the Dart EP in 2017 via Too Pure. The arrival of Fantastic Man in 2020 came as a surprise. A welcome one, but a surprise nevertheless. Consequently, tonight’s double-header with associated / offshoot ace USA Nails is a cause for excitement: their fifth album, Character Stop, released just last month is a truly outstanding example of the angular / mathy / noise genre. And what a lineup!

In a late change to the advertised schedule, Care Home’s debut is shelved, with the band replaced by Hull noisemakers Cannibal Animal. Sound-wise, they’ve changed a bit from when I last saw them back in 2018 – less swamp-gothy, more post punk in their leanings, less claustrophobic and with more breathing space in the songs. Yet for all that, it’s very clearly the same band.

Cannibal Animal

Cannibal Animal

The set lands with a throbbing drone before they power into some hefty chords. They’re not pretty, sonically or visually, but Christ, they kick ass. Strolling basslines and wandering spacious guitars shifting into ball-busting riffs. Busting bad moves throughout Luke Ellerington makes for a compelling and charismatic performer as he leads the band through a set that sounds like a collision between Pissed Jeans and The Fall.

The guy from BELK seems to have got his dates wrong and has come dressed for Hallowe’en – or at least made-up for Hallowe’en. The Leeds act are a screamy thrashy guitar and drum duo. They’re as heavy and fuck and there’s a mental moshpit from the off. Shifting pace and dynamics nonstop, it’s primitive and brutal with full on frenzied riffery and screaming vocals. Everything about their sound is abrasive, jarring, angular, although at times it’s a shade thin, and they possibly would benefit from some bass.

BELK

BELK

USA Nails don’t only benefit from some bass, but place the bass at front and centre to powerful effect. And that bass has that ribcage-rattling tearing cardboard sound reminiscent of Bob Weston. The emphasis may be on attack and hard volume, but they fully exploit the dynamics of these. The two guitars are often still for the verses bar feedback, bursting into life for the choruses. Along the way there are some expansive bass-led spoken word stretches that call to mind The Fall, with frequent forays into hardcore punk. It’s a strong set that flips between sub-two minutes and longer workouts, and it’s all killer.

Nails 2Nails 3

USA Nails

With the last train to York departing at 23:13 and Blacklisters not due on until 11pm, I was presented with the option of disappointment or sleeping on a bench. I gather that they were good, though, and just hope we don’t have to wait another four years.

The Virginmarys may have recently paired back to a two-piece and dropped the vowels from their name, but they’re very much alive and kicking and still very much set to appear at the London date of the first Ghost Road Fest, at London’s Kolis on Saturday 6th November and at the Belgrave in Leeds on Sunday 7th November.

While the lineups differ for the two events, Weekend Recovery, Salvation Jayne, SNAYX, You Want Fox, and Sadness and the Complete Disappointment are all confirmed for both dates. bang Bang Romeo headline Leeds on what promises to be a day of thrills and quality music, and while Pearl Hearts are only playing London, Leeds gets SHEAFS and Novustory.

While the world seems to be descending to shit, Ghost Road Fest is offering an oasis of nice, with a lineup that’s solid quality and gender-equal both north and south, and in one single move achieve on a single weekend something the government hasn’t managed in a decade.

Click on the image for full details and tickets.

166718167_1121172121690314_3058921579364279298_n

We’ll see you down the front in  Leeds!

Clue Records – 27th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The best thing about Team Picture is that, well, they’re Team Picture. A band that doesn’t look like a band, and certainly not in a cohesive, stylised way. The band’s name is a subtle but nifty encapsulation of what they’re about – the way teams at work are essentially a bunch of people thrown together with no commonality beyond their employment. They’re not your friends, they’re your colleagues, and while you may gel and not even loathe works nights out, those team photos only highlight the awkwardness, the disparities.

Every now and again, though, these disparate elements coalesce to positive ends, and this seems to be where the Leeds act are coming from, a band who are built on hybridity and variance. Their latest single – a scabrous satire of the pathetically sad and deeply toxic but occasionally dangerous incel community populated by predominantly low-IQ white misogynists – is a corker.

Speaking about the Single, Josh explained;“The Big Trees, The Little Trees’ is a sub-Talking Heads piece of black-pill satire. The title comes from what might be the first piece of incel literature ever unfortunately created, called ‘Might is Right’ by a total asshole called ‘Ragnar Redbeard’ (the pen name of one ‘Arthur Desmond’). The track was originally considered for the recording sessions for our 2nd record, but after completion of this version we decided it stood neatly enough on its own horrifying two feet to be presented separately…”

It’s got a nagging krautrocky groove that grabs you from the start, and even your dad might like it, and its success lies in its juxtaposition of the medium and the message.

The accompanying video really captures the band’s oddball nerdy misfit style, while pushing forward the homocentric / hypermasculine themes in an irreverent fashion – and it works well.

AA

Dates:

SEPTEMBER 
28th Bootleg Social, Blackpool 
29th The Parish, Huddersfield 
30th Broadcast, Glasgow 
OCTOBER 
1st Westgarth, Middlesbrough 
2nd Sidney + Matilda, Sheffield 
12th Yes, Manchester 
13th Camden Assembly, London 
14th Komedia, Brighton 
15th Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 
17th Wild Paths Festival, Norwich 
24th Karma Festival, Nottingham

d1b721fb-3f3c-3f43-db7e-8226be50b24c

Live music is back. People are rejoicing. Coming together and feeling the togetherness, the community, the connection has been so sorely missed by many, and for reasons far beyond the industry itself. It’s a way of life and an integral social agent. But it’s clear that coming out of lockdown and navigating the lifting of restrictions is not going to be a quick or easy process: whereas lockdown hit hard and fast, coming out – or, indeed, going out – feels like venturing into unknown territory. Anyone who talks of this being society ‘getting back to normal’ has either forgotten what normal was like before, or is simply trying to convince themselves that we’re anywhere near because it’s preferable to facing the reality. Is this the ‘new normal’ that was mooted back in the strong and summer of 2020?

It’s clear upon arrival that many of us are varying shades of apprehension and social and musical rustiness, and I will admit here a heightened anxiety over making my first journey by train in over a year, ahead of my first outing as a solo performer. Arriving at a familiar venue comes as a relief, but there are numerous elements of unfamiliarity: signs about the venue about the wearing of masks, the bar behind Perspex, and having to show proof of a negative test within the last 48 hours on arrival all combine to present a scene straight out of a movie or series set in a dystopian future – only, it’s not the future, it’s now, and this is real. Plenty find comfort and security ion these measures, but as the messaging has shifted from ‘beating’ the ‘invisible enemy’ to ‘living with covid’, then the question of this being the forever future is a difficult one, as it certainly feels as if something has been lost in the eighteen months since we last had ‘proper’ gigs.

Tonight’s event was also operating on a reduced capacity, but as it transpired, it was far from packed making social distancing no issue, and one suspects that while so many have lamented the absence of live music for so long, fear continues to keep them away.

The joy of EMOM night anywhere in the country is their sense of inclusivity, a broad church for outsiders from a vast array of genres, and the premise is straightforward – short slots, one act setting up while the one before plays, keeping the music going more or less continuously through the evening, and tonight’s brought the eclecticism in spades.

How to Use this Manual was up first. The style is gentle, textured instrumental with nice beats, by turns easy and sturdy, with a dash of funk in the mix. It’s easy on the ear, and deftly executed, and there really isn’t anything to fault here. These nights never fail to amaze with the sheer quality of music and clear talent of the performers.

DSC_0082

How to Use this Manual

There’s always one who has to be difficult, of course, someone who disrupts the flow and uses the tools and forces for dark ends. I think my set went well enough. It was short and harsh, as intended. My head was swimming, I couldn’t see the screen of my notebook clearly and I may have fluffed few lines of lyrics, but no-one died, not even me. I think there was even some applause at the end, which may have been appreciation or relief. Certainly, the latter for me was immense.

The spectrum of electronic-based music never fails to yield new and unexpected permutations, and Chaos Lol spans an immense spectrum, and is rare in the way vocals are such a prominent feature of the set – a set that starts out black metal then gets symphonic and beyond. It’s an unusual hybrid of sounds. Heavily echoed vocals are enmeshed in a swathe of sound and are paired with some bulbous beats that venture into drum ‘n’ bass territory in places. It’s hard to form an opinion or decide whether one actually likes it or not, because it’s like being slapped around the face repeatedly and in quick succession, and you simply have no time to compute. But there are no two ways about it: this is technically accomplished, ambitious, audacious, and gutsy. Kudos.

DSC_0085

Chaos lol

Quiet Fire, aka organiser Joe Kemp, who’s up next, treated us to more mellow, more conventional instrumental with electro vibes, pleasant but undemanding – which is probably what everyone was ready for after the last couple of acts. His sound is softer, leaning toward the accessible, bouncier side of electronica – not quite dance, but danceable, and unquestionably with mass-market potential.

Flaves proves to be the evening’s greatest revelation. This guy has got some serious chops, and brings freeform dubby hip-hop using the most minimal setup of the night – literally an iPad. And it’s sparse but seriously banging. There’s a lot of detail and depth to the arrangements, and a lot of seriously heavy bass. The final track of the set is dark and noisy, borderline industrial, and it’s an absolute killer.

DSC_0089

Flaves

I’d chatted to Matt Wilson earlier in the evening as he’d lugged his suitcase of children’s toys and assorted random kit into the venue, and is so often the case, the nicest, most down to earth people make some of the weirdest, most demented music. Using a sackful of educational toys and the like, he gets down to whacking out some mental circuit bending noise was utterly brain-bending. Circle! Square! Yap! Yap! A primitive drum machine thumps out a simple beat, and it all harks back to the sound of early 80s samplism and tape looping. What it lacks in sophistication, it makes up in impact.

DSC_0090

Matt Wilson

It was around this point I came to realise I can only take so much impact, and having performed myself I was fully out of steam and hit my limit, mentally. While hearing music is usually my priority at the exclusion of all else, I caught up in the bar with a friend I’d not seen since February 2020. Ordinarily, I’d feel guilty or even skip posting a half review, but then I remember – since it’s impossible to represent everyone’s experience, the job it to ultimately document mine. I can aim to be objective, but criticism can only be so balanced, and perhaps my job is to more document what I see as I see it in the moment. So here we are. And if live music is about music, it’s also about connecting with friends. Maybe this, then, is how we will find our way back to normal. Meanwhile, we all just continue to fumble our own individual ways.

6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

For many, Leeds will be forever synonymous with goth, as the spawning ground of The Sisters of Mercy, as well as The Mission, The March Violets, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Rose of Avalanche. But then, Leeds has always been so much more, and anyone who’s spent any time around the city in the last decade and a half will be aware that the only thing that defines the city’s sound is a complete eclecticism. There may be a leaning towards noisier stuff in recent years – well, the last ten or so – but the fact is that truly anything goes, and that’s the absolute joy of the melting pot that is such a diverse and thriving city. Bands like iLiKETRAiNS and Blacklisters, for example, couldn’t be more different, and the same is true of breakthrough acts Kaiser Chiefs and Pulled Apart by Horses.

And so here we land on Terra Incognita by Leeds-based electronic music collective Urban Exploration, which is either their third or fourth album depending on how you view their catalogue, and if you consider Utopic, Heterotopic and Dystopic as separate albums (and I probably would, but this doesn’t really carry much relevance to the task at hand, namely of discussing the new album).

The first track, ‘Beacon’, is a voyage unto itself, beginning a semi-ambient track with some subtle beats before mutating into a full-on beat-driven banger. It’s nothing short of full-on club music, and in the span of six minutes, they’ve spanned multiple genres and landed themselves squarely in the ‘eclectic’ category. ‘Virtual Light’ – presumably referencing William Gibson’s dystopian cyberpunk novel, places a looping synth motif to the fore, and it’s stark and detached. They’re big on references: ‘Kepler-186f’ is the name of the first Earth-size planet in the so-called ‘Habitable Zone’, and orbits the red dwarf Kepler-186, about 500 light-years from Earth. As such, the bands interests and influences are clearly apparent and very much on display here.

The pieces are long – the majority extending well beyond the five-minute mark – and exploratory. Terra Incognita definitely feels like it’s venturing forward and breaking new ground, tiptoeing around the space between tangerine Dream and The Orb. It’s a lot of space, and Urban Exploration seem keen to traverse it.

The full twelve-track set is a dense and dark, semi-ambient affair, which, in balancing ambience with defined beats, invites comparisons to another act who emerged from Leeds, who’ve gone on to do great things, worriedaboutsatan. The press release gives the warning / threat / promise that ‘Terra Incognita transports you to alien lands that are strangely familiar…’ and indeed it does. There is a lot of space, a lot of oddness, a lot of dissonance, and a lot of otherness circulating around Terra Incognita. It’s ain intriguing and well-realised work that is truly worthy of being described as ‘eclectic’, its experimental span leading the listener on a voyage into unknown territories, both earthly and far, far beyond.

AA

a1631477200_10

Come Play With Me – 11th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

These are difficult times, fraught with division – not just the well-established social and economic divides, but with infinite fragmentation and fallout over issues and identities. It seems unfathomable that there should be any need for debate when it comes to racism and sexism, and yet here we are in 2021 and still these topics are divisive, and while Pride events have done much to raise awareness, gender issues are not only grounds of immense discrimination, but also division, and, in some quarters, infighting. It’s difficult, and for many, incredibly painful.

Over the five and a bit years since its inception, Leeds label Come Play with Me has done a lot of work to represent the under-represented, primarily in giving a platform to local artists. Its latest compilation is billed as ‘a callout to support women, marginalised genders and LGBTQ+ artists based in Leeds and further afield around the north of England’, and as such has a specific and explicit agenda, and above all, serves to provide a platform and to send a message of unity and solidarity.

The blurb informs us that ‘The album features a collection of 12 brand new diverse tracks from an exceptionally talented group of artists including emerging shoegaze/dreampop sensation Bored At My Grandma’s House, renowned composer and Carnatic vocalist Supriya Nagarajan, art-rock collective Dilettante (led by multi-instrumentalist Francesca Pidgeon), and soul/pop singer-songwriter Tyron Webster.’ And it’s true: Side By Side showcases an eclectic range of artists, which is a solid representation of the diverse, cross-cultural melting pot that is the scene in and around Leeds.

Tryon Webster isn’t the kind of artist you’re likely to see playing in any venues like The Brudenell or Wharf Chambers or Oporto: they may have a local slat, but are more geared towards guitar bands and alternative acts, and Webster’s smooth r’n’b is decidedly more mainstream, as is the smoky would of Dilettante’s soulfully smoochy ‘Single Sleeve’.

Then, in contrast, Bored At My Grandma’s House’s ‘China Doll’ demo is a magnificent sliver of lo-fi indie with some effortless low-key harmonies over a sparse acoustic-guitar-led backing and minimal arrangements.

Long Legged Creatures were the last band I saw perform a proper gig, back on 14th march 2020, and I was impressed by what I referred to as their ‘electro/post-rock/psych hybrid’, and ‘Creatures’ is certainly a drifting, dreamy number – but then again, Witch of the East mine a dreamy post-punk / post-rock seam with ‘Something’s Wrong’. Shauna’s ‘Modes of Thinking’ welds the iciness of The Flying Lizards withy some deep dance groove action that’s half nightclub, half industrial motorik grind.

The chances are, not everyone will love every track on here, and adherents of the live Leeds scene will likely be surprised by just how much non-noisy, soul and jazz-flavoured sounds are on offer here: Day 42 are leagues away from, say, Pulled Apart By Horses, and sound more like Sugababes. But that’s not only ok, it’s the very point of this release. Regardless of musical preferences, it’s impossible to fault the quality of any of the acts showcased here. Moreover, this goes beyond genre and style and musical preference. This is a statement of inclusion. Embrace it.

ei