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Record reviews

By Phil Thornton

Cheers as ever to Jonas at epm for promo copies

Prins Thomas presents Inter Galactic Prism (Eskimo)

Last month I asked why the fantastically gifted Lindstrom & Prins Thomas were remixing their own back catalogue on the admittedly fantastic ‘Reinterpretations’ LP. Now I know why. It must be time consuming being the Kings Of Cosmic Disco and if they’re not rehashing old material (Lindstrom’s ‘It’s A Feedelity Affair’ etc) or remixing tracks from a multitude of other ’Scandilearic’ (copyright my ma) artists then they’re cobbling together outstanding mixes such as this and Lindstrom’s ‘Late Night Tales’ compilation. The foundations of Prins’s unique sound are exposed here beginning with celebrated British production maverick Joe Meek’s astonishing ‘I Hear A New World’ displaying that dissonant, otherworldly yet always engaging production style the man has made his own. Taking in everyone from Area Code 615, Holger Czukay, Carlos Hernandez, Boards Of Canada, Hawkwind, The Salsoul Invention and Parliament with more typical cosmic disco grooves along the way, on this form Prins Thomas will soon be crowned emperor of the frozen north and Viking sagas will be told of him by generations yet unborn.

Swine Rating - 5 Pigs

Now three from Rephlex.

D’arcengelo - Eskel ( Rephlex)

Music for airports is a bona fide proto-ambient classic. This collection of tunes by Fabrizio and Marco D’Arcangelo could be described as music for space stations. The cold vastness of the sound is hinted at with opening track ’Empty Freezer’ and with titles such as h13, Saturn, Sundart and Distant Sound Of Nothing More, this is a voyage through distant galaxies fuelled by warm electronic grooves. It’s so very lonely, we’re 2000 light years from home. Cosmic disco-tech ambience for men in ill-fitting space suits.

Swine Rating - 3 Pigs

Dopplereffekt - Calabi Yau Space (Rephlex)

Some more songs about space. Not outer space or inner space but the space between thought and action, between good and evil, between rationality and superstition. OK, that’s enough bollocks for one review. Calabi Yau Space is not so much cosmic techno as the sound of machines fucking each other in the future. OK, that’s more bollocks. How about this; Dopplereffekt make Autechre sound like Abba. Titles;

Calabi Yau Manifold

Hyperelliptic Surfaces

Holomorpic n-0 Form

Compactification

Mirror Symmetry

Non Vanishing Harmonic Spinor

Hypersurface

Dimension II

You know the dance!

Swine Rating - 3 Pigs

The Tuss - Rush Up Edge (Rephlex)

The Tuss. Who are The Tuss? What is The Tuss? Is it, as some people have deduced yet another nom de plume for Richard E. James, another one of his hilarious pranks with which to fool the industry? Whether or not The Tuss is infact Aphex, Rush Up Edge, a six track demo, has more ideas and energy than anyone on Rephlex has displayed for many a year. Harking back to the classic years of early electro and techno and updating them for a new technological and cultural landscape, The Tuss offer atleast a glimpse of the funky intelligence that is so often missing from contemporary electronica, including sadly much of that released on this label. Remember when it was FUN?

Swine rating - 5 Pigs

 

DJ Spun - This Is Rong (Rong)

One of the San Fran beach bum DJ elite, DJ Spun expertly spins together some of the best moments from his Rong label’s back catalogue with a superb mix that never lets up, fusing modern ‘cosmolearic’ (TM my aunty Shirley) beats and in yer face punk funk grenades with effortless chutzpah. Now THIS IS FUN! This has more to do with punk and acid house in terms of attitude and creativity than a thousand boring rehashes and karaoke revisionist charades. Recorded at APT in NYC, Jason Drummond aka DJ Spun marks out the path to the floor. Get into it or fuck off home. With the likes of Rub n’ Tug, In Flagranti and Harvey finding a home in the US for their no holds barred brand of freestyle fusion and the Scandinavians leading the way in Europe, surely it’s time British Djs and labels upped their game before it‘s too late.

Swine Rating - 5 Pigs

Stephan Bodzin - Liebe Ist (Herzblut)

Minimal Teutonic tech verging on (argghhh) ’Trance’ but don’t let that put you off. Liebe Ist is a great record, albeit one that takes a few listens to grow on you. The trance like construction of the tracks, the gradual slow burn build ups can take a while to get going but once they hit, as with the monumental title track, they really deliver. I almost put my hands in the air at one point.

Swine Rating - 4 Pigs

Aril Brikha - Ex Machina (Peacefrog)

Another Scandinavian, another cracker. Assyrian-Swede Aril Brikha’a ‘Ex machina’ puts the funk back into deep-tech with 11 grooves that glide past the window in hi-def slo-mo; drum patterns rumble and fart, synth lines chug and bubble, times flies by when you’re the driver of a train, one of those dead fast Japanese bullet trains that take you back to the future; Detroit 1987. Berlin 1997. Stockholm 2007.

Swine Rating - 4 Pigs

Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur (Ninja Tune)

I really wanted to like this LP and maybe in time it’ll grow on me but for now, this fleur needs watering before it wilts. There’s no denying the musical and aesthetic charm of J. Swinscoe’s project. It’s all very tasteful and expertly played, sang and produced, however, the LP never really gets going but becomes a series of mood music mantras. The first track ‘To Build A Home’ sets the tone with a beautiful vocal and piano from Patrick Watson who re-appears on both ‘Into You’ and ‘That Home‘ sharing duties with Lou Rhodes on Music Box. Lou also sings on ‘Time & Space‘. Former CinOrch collaborator, Fontella Bass provides vocal duties on the lo-fi ‘Familiar Ground’ (‘how near, how far?’ being the endlessly repeated question. About fifteen miles as the crow flies I‘d say) and ‘Breathe’ but neither provide the raw emotional impact of the haunting ‘All That You Give’ from the band’s previous collaboration with the soul siren. ‘Child Song’ is the only track that breaks into a shuffle for the chicken heads to nod along to with a fantastic fender solo from Steve Brown. Melancholic, minimal soul-jazz it may be and Ma Fleur is indeed a beautiful orchid but one only really blossoms in the wee small hours (Ok Thornton, enough of the horticultural analogies already!)

Swine rating - 3 Pigs.

 

 

GREAT (& Shite) LOST ALBUMS # 57

By Phil Thornton 

MR AMIR - DAWNING (PROBE PLUS)

The enigmatic Graham �Mr� Amir was something of a Liverpool legend back in the 80s. �Dawning� is his first and only LP, a collection of ten dreamy reggae tracks that were �written, played and produced� by the man himself. Released in 1984, Dawning is not a righteous Babylon blood n� fire album but rather a wispy spiritual collection of lovers rock and dub lite. Not that that�s a bad thing. By the time this LP was released, the militant dub of Black Uhuru and Steel Pulse was slowly being replaced by a mellower, more mainstream sound. UB40 may have been derided in hardcore reggae circles but their multicultural brand of UK pop reggae turned even the likes of Aswad into chart friendly rastas in waistcoats.

Opener �Love With Ease� sets out Mr Amir�s stall, a story of love and affection, Deep Inside follows, a more bass heavy tune which is followed by a tinny dub version, Deep In Music. Will We Ever Know? �Never, never, never ,never, you�re too clever,clever,clever, clever� goes the refrain in this plea for world peace. Love With Music follows a familiar lyrical and musical path to Love With Ease.

Side 2 begins with micro-dub track Mystery Overture leading to Mystery Of Mine, a synthy tune that sounds like OMD trying to do Gregory Isaacs.. Reasons To Live is a more typical dubby affair whereas the title track Dawning is a lovely summery excursion around Prinny Park at 6 o�clock in the morning, complete with birds twittering and a doobie-doo-day chorus. Closing track Running Out Of Time is another plea for togetherness, which coming a few years after the Toxteth riots, hinted at troubles to come.

For such a tiny, localised label, Dawning actually made the Indie charts, getting to no 25 in August 84. Probe Plus went onto become associated most strongly with Wirral surrealists Half Man Half Biscuit yet this was the label�s first LP release. Rumour has it that Mr Amir is now a newsagent (like that fellar out of A Flock Of Seagulls - maybe they should form a super group; the Newsagents Of Small Change ?) and while Dawning is never gonna trouble the greatest reggae Lps of all time compilers, as a Merseyside oddity, it has retained a certain lo-fi charm.

 

 

Dungen - Tio Bitar

 

By Peter Doherty

 

Hark, tis the return of Scandinavia's finest psych rocking loons.  Not a word of English in sight & fuck me if its not as good as the last one. Perhaps that's part of their quality.  Not having a clue what they're on about might draw you more to the music & the sound,not the meaning, of the lyrics.  Your hardly going to think too deeply about something that could be the Ikea catalogue read to music.  But what music.  A marriage of Genesis Prog, Sabbath Blues Metal & the better Haight St jam bands without sounding like some patchouli clad sweaty-fest.  Steve Hackett & Tony Banks have been a huge influence on C Visar Vaagen as it could have come straight from Trespass or Nursery Cryme.  Fantastic music.  Hugely interesting & even more curious is Mon Amour.  Now imagine a song written in French, sang by a Swede,that starts like Free & ends like Iommi shagging Hendrix.  Its an EU fuck-fest & no mistake.  Should be massive,but of course they'll never match up in the land of Muse.  Get it & brighten your summer, but perpare for involuntary air-flute.  The Nordic White Album,no pun intended.  

 

 

Queens of The Stone Age - Era Vulgaris

 

By Peter Doherty

 

 

Ah yes the new QOTSA.  When a band gets big,& influential, don't you dread the new album coming out.  Will the spark still be there,will all the changes impact on the material,are side-projects taking over? No chance.  Another mastepiece from the Beach Boys of Metal.  What are you on about now ya tit you may well ask.  Well its a compliment of the highest order.  The vocals are as harmonic as Pet Sounds but the music is straight up Cali Desert Rock.  There's no inkling that Josh Homme's taking it easy & that all's rosy in the house.  The distortion of "Turnin' On The Screw",the riffage of "Sick Sick Sick",the title alone should give a clue, the gliding majesty of "Suture Up Your Future" that finishes with power chords over taken with acoustic strum. "Run Pig Run" is one twisted tune,it could be a sweet voiced Motorhead recorded in Southport Fun Fair. Brilliant.  Queens Of The Stone Age. Every home should have one.    

 

The Draytones & Candie Payne, The Faversham - Leeds 

By Danny Evans

 

The Faversham is one of the few pub/bar efforts in Leeds that manages to make music its focus while not becoming a divvy’s circus.  It attracts gorgeous women and serves foaming nut brown ale in proper dimpled mugs with handles.  Drunk on one or the other it’s easy to enjoy live music there on a week night, with only the lumpy aural slurry of The Fratellis erring on the side of a crap time had in my memory.

With the singer kitted out in well observed period costume, it’s clear within seconds of their taking the stage that The Draytones get their kicks on route 1966; all frazzled 3 chord tricks and freakbeat.  They do a nice line in a style that, done well, will be exciting for a million years.  Few tracks hint at the sonic boom perfection of obvious forebears like The Creation however, and, in the absence of any truly memorable numbers beyond the cracking single Keep Loving Me, I thought it was a shame they didn’t play any covers.  They were well enough received but I reckon Heatwave or Friday On My Mind would have gone down a treat.  They would with me anyway.

It is unfortunate that guitar bands today lack the humility to acknowledge that they’re re-inventing the wheel and the ambition to try and take on the canon.  In thrall to a beat tradition that was constantly absorbing different influences, honing its craft in cellar clubs where entertainment and not a mutual recognition of cool was the priority, today’s groups want to dip their toe into the surface of the ‘60s without getting their hair wet with the sweat, spittle and soul of the times.

Perhaps the same could be said of headliner Candie Payne, although there’s more potential here, the sound deeper and more intriguing.  Her voice is great but not yet controlled, while backing band The Joneses are as tight as you’d expect while understandably playing within themselves.  Single I Wish I could Have Loved You More and In The Morning stand-out, but generally, and as is so often the case with acts touring their debut, individual songs struggle to make themselves distinct from the general, all enveloping sound of the set.  The advantage with Payne is that the sound is pretty good; a melancholy early to mid-60s blue-eyed soul affair with just enough of a hint that it could morph into the sassier laid back funk perfected later on by Marlena Shaw. 

We impatiently await the third (or is it fourth?) Summer of Love TM.  Should it come soon enough, perhaps Candie Payne will provide part of the soundtrack.  But it will only happen if the movers are making connections and throwing caution to the wind.  In the world of first tours, this means staking out your territory with bold affirmations of your style and tradition, and reclaiming the cover version from the cold laboratories of smug 21st Century Indie dickheads like Jo Whiley and Mark Ronson.   Even now the CIA are manufacturing and testing drugs on Guantanamo Bay inmates that within a few years will make Candie Payne and the Joneses doing a trip-hop meets the Family Stone uptown version of Step Inside Love sound like the bona-fide 5 Swine pigs idea it really is.  The curtains are twitching behind the windows of perception but we’re supposed to blow the bloody doors off.

 

 

 

 

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