So this month I’ve been kickstarting my mornings with too much coffee and this joyful noise. What we have here is some mighty greasy, family size bucket of doom riffs in finger lickin’ sludge, and all for a bargain $3 deal too (now the same as £3, thanks fearless Brexiteers!) Clouds Taste Satanic, I hardly need to point out, adapt their name from a Flaming Lips record and clearly don’t take the portentous imagery usually found swirling like thick, heady smoke around the music they play very seriously. This lack of seriousness has the knock on effect of really shabby artwork but perhaps saves them from going post metal earnest, putting a moody photo on the cover and naming the tracks out of philosophy course books/office stationers catalogues. What with Hallowe’en poking it’s leering pumpkin face over the fence we all need a little bit of comedy satan around this month don’t we? They managed to namecheck both Sleep and Earth in the title of their first record in case you were wondering where they were coming from. Since the two monster tracks of that debut the compositions have got shorter and more concise, the pace is quicker than such influences might suggest. This is, in a way, the very best kind of metal there is, instru-metal. Obviously there are exceptions all over the shop but all types of amazing music is lost to me behind wailing, spandex-clad fools and growling cookie monster vocalists who think they’re scary. Shut up. You’re the worst thing about the band. Clouds thankfully don’t look to replace the vocals with showboating guitar solo nonsense either, yeah you can shut up too – you’re the second worst thing about the band. Traditional band fronting ego-maniacs shoved aside no wheels are being re-invented here, but there are also no dragging sections you endure for the eventual sonic pay-off just one great riff after another. ‘Just Another Animal’ stomps into action in the same way ‘Iron Man’ does so yes, it’s basically Sabbath worship and cycles back to the very primordial swamp from which all that is metal first oozed. I don’t see any problem with that, it’s fucking great and should have you involuntarily banging your head and throwing up the horns like the pathetic adolescent that deep down you still are. \m/
Cavern of Anti-Matter Hare & Hounds 21st Sept.
I had an idea of writing this without mentioning Stereolab but it got to seem too obtuse. Even for me, which is going some if we’re to speak plainly. So, how to answer the enquiry “Who you going to see?” A) – ‘Cavern Of Anti-Matter, a new Berlin krautrock trio’ or B) – “Cavern Of Anti-Matter, it’s Tim Gane off of, out of Stereolab’s new band”. It’s B isn’t it? COAM are great but they’re a bit like Stereolab with all the fun and colour drained out. Monolab if you want to be unkind. The vivid colour block artwork has become monochrome, on stage they play bathed in blue unchanging light. Gone are the bossa nova beats, lounge accents, pop songs and most of all those gorgeous vocal harmonies. In fact the one track with sung vocals on alleged debut ‘Void Beats Invocation Trex’ is by far its low point. I say ‘alleged’ because they have kept the previous band’s erratic approach to discography, it’s their third full length following ‘Blood Drums’ and the two 20+ min tracks of the ‘Interlude Music’ ep and there’s single and ep’s to consider of course – a new one arriving shortly called ‘I’m The Unknown’ – but officially the debut and really the first time they’ve come out and done some solid touring and such. There’s not much to look at, three chaps now thinner of hair and thicker of waist playing to a similarly aged audience who used to come and see the old band. Hopefully that won’t always be so because they deserve better, to play in a dark corner to a room full of ecstatic young dancers swimming in light and joy, not just us head nodding, beer sipping old geezers. Between my sips and nods I’m also scratching my brain for what ingredient might have been added in to the new (neu!) mix but Stereolab’s reach was so great I don’t think there is one. Gane’s gone back to the motorik basics they started with and just started doing something different, making new shapes and combinations. Which might sound reductive but it’s not at all, krautrock, soundtracks, electro and techno are a heady combination to start with and they stretch it out in a variety of enjoyable directions. ‘Tardis Cymbals’ is a familiarly ‘lab-like chug but as the set wears on the motorik becomes Moroder, a subtle disco pulse that it amuses me to think is being nodded along to appreciatively somewhere in the room by the sort of indie snob who usually abhors disco. What I take at the time to be ‘I’m The Unknown’ is magnificent, twisting and shifting with remarkable skill and boundless ambition. The intensity builds through the set, there are even moments when they remind me of Orbital, bring on the dancing old people! The only minor glitch comes in the odd awkward pause between numbers, the little audience interaction comes from Joe Dilworth behind the kit who speaks to us, without a mic, apologises for the delay and not knowing the songs mostly and wonderfully introduces the gorgeous ‘Black Glass Action’ as “a power ballad about a sad robot in a pencil factory”. For a band who seem to have come into being from hours of rehearsal room playing together, tinkering and experimenting, pull off some impressive stops and starts and look like they could just play on for half hour stretches at a time it seems odd that they need to take such disruptive pauses. In a comically perfect illustration of this they blow the big finish of the last number, stalling rather than crashing out in style. Maybe not the slickest live experience in the world just yet then but perhaps that’s to the good, when they’re in their stride the sound is amazing. As I said, they deserve to reach a much bigger, wider audience.
Were you both lucky and wealthy enough to get Kraftwerk tickets this morning then, or are you a mere weak human skinbag like the rest of us? I for one welcome our new robot overlords. Here’s a couple of other upsetting advances in robot music technology. ‘Mr Shadow’ is an Artificial Intelligence composition by something Sony have created called Flow Machine. It is in the style of Duke Ellington/Cole Porter allegedly. It’s one of two tracks to have recently popped up ahead of a whole album of stuff for next year. The other one is a horrible, if fairly canny, Beatles pastiche that had human input on the lyrics and vocals and such. Not sure about this one but it takes a few odd enough turns to possibly be entirely computer written, the last minute or so is pretty fun…
Compressorhead meanwhile are an actual band of musician robots designed in Berlin who are now working with Jon Wright of Nomeansno on original material. Here’s a clip of them doing some 25 year old arena rock classic…
Elsewhere in the history of computer music it seems code cracking genius Alan Turing had a bit of a primitive early crack at that too. read more on that here
Pixies got a new album out tomorrow. Its arrival inspires a mountain of words to pretty small ends don’t you think? What do you want, ‘Surfer Rosa’? Even ‘Doolittle’ wasn’t ‘Surfer Rosa’ friends. Dear God but I loved Pixies. ‘Head Carrier’ is a pretty good album as it goes, strong melodies and hooks galore, plenty to remind you of the old records without just rewriting them, the ‘Where Is My Mind?’ nod that opens ‘All I Think About Now’ is merely the most obvious. Still, it’s a full quarter of a century since ‘Trompe Le Monde’ came out and while I grew to love it (the unrelenting pace of it, it’s nonsense, it’s ferocity) at the time critics and fans alike thought it was the least of their endeavours and maybe they did too because soon, dragged through the ignominy of U2 support slots in a vain attempt to break their home country, they were gone. Almost any criticism you might make of the new record would apply just as well to that one so, you know, it’s no disgrace here. It’s no towering acheivement either, it’s another Pixies record. Which, on balance, is a good thing. Is ‘Um Chagga Lagga’ nonsense? What the hell was ‘Tony’s Theme’? ‘Talent’ is pretty damned annoying/catchy but ‘Classic Masher’ is just straight up great. It’s better than ‘Here Comes Your Man’ for one, that song always irked me. If this was a Frank Black album less then half as many people would care but they’d all be going crazy about how good it was. So they aren’t as young and fiery as they once were, who is? If Joey hadn’t just gone into rehab I’d say it was just as well for their mental health that they aren’t the people they were back then. There’s age and melancholy and wisdom in Charles’ voice that wasn’t and, despite valiant efforts, no he can’t really scream like he’s possessed anymore. So it goes.
Greetings everybody, John here from NMN and with a heavy heart I must announce the retirement of No Means No. A hiatus became a long hiatus and a lingering hiatus has become a permanent one. Thirty-five years and countless miles, a couple thousand shows and many more beers, a bunch of tunes and sweaty hoards of great fans, I can’t say thanks enough to everyone.I will continue to post here on our page about the Robots and future projects if and when they happen. Hoping to have the debut Compressorhead album out by next march so you have not heard the last of things yet. So cheers everyone! Raise a glass….xo
only so many songs can be sung it seems…. If we’re brutally honest, and they’d expect nothing less, it’s been 10 years since they made a record and 20 years or so since I last saw Nomeansno and even back then they were showing their age (it was the double drummer line up, they finished on a pummelling ‘Joyful Reunion’ it was amazing). So it’s no real surprise this day has come but it still seems a shame to see them bow out. Recent reports and youtube evidence suggest they were still a formidable live experience and it sort of seemed like they’d be there forever, they’d come back around and there’d be one more chance to see ’em. Almost certainly the most inventive and unique hardcore punk band, a juggernaut driven by the Wright brothers fierce rhythm section which is, um, illustrated nicely by the unusual clip at the top there without any bass or drums on it. There’s a career spanning intro/best of ‘The People’s Choice’ on their bandcamp but the best thing they ever did, the ‘if you’re only going to buy one’ one to get is 1991’s ‘Live & Cuddly’. Like ‘It’s Alive’ or ‘No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith’ a live album that’s always the first thing you reach for when you think of the bands that made them. It captures them at the peak of their powers across a few dates in Holland with Andy Kerr still in the band. I’ll admit my interest began to wane a little after he left, they lost their way for a while, he ended up in Holland himself and occasionally does this – TWOPINDIN. The internet being what it is, some enterprising soul has stitched together all the footage they can find from one of those shows and that’s here for your enjoyment – often with Kerr’s face right up in the camera which is ironic as he used to always hide his face in promo shots and use aliases on the record credits. So it goes. Be Strong. Be Wrong.
Underground Guerilla Krautrock! Camera are a Berlin band known for their unscheduled performances in the city’s U-Bahn stations. Only a moments reflection is required to see how they form a fitting soundtrack, think of Warm Digits’ ‘Interchange’ project and you’ve found your way to the right platform. I’ve been a little slow out of my chair on this one, Camera having played in London the other night and, not that anyone should care what goes on in that there London or what, if anything, pops up on here, it would have nonetheless have been nice to post it in good time. Still, I suppose if I hadn’t mentioned it you probably wouldn’t know. I have been listening to this record a fair bit lately but got distracted by the not entirely unrelated Cavern Of Anti-Matter, who’ve also been busy having Tomaga support them in that London the other day too. That’s my excuse, more about that later but Camera would have been a remarkable addition to the bill. They draw on their obvious predecessors like Neu! and La Dusseldorf but wear the influence lightly and their old guitarist now plays in Michael Rother’s touring band so I think we can call that approval. They might not be reinventing the motorik wheel here but they are making some beautifully crafted versions of it. Lovely understated guitar parts and warm, elegant synths unfurl over a pleasing pulse for most of the record although there are gentler moments and ‘Nevermine’ rattles along like it’s going to jump the metaphorical rails. The first tune ends with a sample of a puzzled chap enquiring ‘have you heard of viking Metal?’ and the final one with a clip from a radio transmission regarding the re-entry of Apollo 13. Space, always space. You can’t help feeling a sense of mischief in those choices and possibly in the reimagining of ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King‘ on the cover. If you liked that Radar Men From The Moon record I posted a little while ago you should definitely give this one a try too.