Krautrock, Don’t Stop

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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.

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The weekend is finally here people, time to gorge your tired mind on beer and vacant entertainments full of subliminal messages that control your actions via a variety of sicky glowing screens. Do you remember back in the days before the interwebs when it was just TV doing that? Not even HD flatscreen TV but those teeming phosphor dots? No? I’m old, we had a black and white TV when I was a kid. The young people of today are missing out on the valuable formative experience of staring at the static of poorly tuned tv, discerning alien messages in the rolling hail of electrical ants racing across their retina. Anyway, here’s a post with three youtube clips in it. Sorry. The cause of all this nostalgic disquiet is a short new clip from raging Brummie punk trio Youth Man who are possibly too damn young to remember a world before wi-fi. They have at least opted for the old school stop frame clay animation to promote their new record. It’s great and it’s only a minute and a half long so watch and enjoy.

If you’re anything like me that put you very much in mind of Lee Hardcastle’s incredible Pingu/The Thing mash up THINGU. If you’ve not seen it before you’re in for a little treat. Even if you have I find it still surpises on repeat viewings. In the past it’s been removed from youtube on a regular basis but now has the apparent approval of John Carpenter himself so hopefully it’ll stick around a bit longer.

Speaking of the actual director of ‘The Thing’ John Carpenter, the wonderful Supersonic Festival people have recently bounced back into action and announced a live performance by Carpenter in Warwick at the end of October. Just in time for Hallowe’en!!! Here’s the last track off his recent ‘debut’ album Lost Themes. The music is great and the visuals are sharp. No claymation unfortunately.

 

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Tomaga – The Shape Of The Dance

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Mystical, future jazz, art-sound improv duo Tomaga have a new album out. It’s called ‘The Shape Of The Dance’ a title you can imagine Flowdan bellowing at you imperiously from a cloud of dry ice but more to the point, and combined with the cover art, suggests the music as accompaniment to some vexing and obscurantist modern dance piece. The word soundtrack is desperately overused in connection with instrumental music but this would definitely work for a low budget supernatural horror. There are moments of Wicker Man disquiet, although no creepy children’s singing. I can’t stop listening to it and every listen seems to reveal further intriguing depths and hidden corners. As if I didn’t already feel bad enough about dismissing them so out of hand at Supernormal. If I’d only lay down, shut my eyes and sunk into the field I might have been rewarded. On the other hand, I doubt this is really what I would have got. Tomaga are improvisers partly guided by venue and mood as much as anything. This is not a sunny afternoon in a field kind of record, maybe if they’d been playing in the barn. In the aftermath of a storm. The opening bloops and squiggles don’t prepare you for the frantic percussion on ‘Tuscan Metalwork’ which sounds metallic as if played on pipes and glass jars with cutlery. As best I can tell the record is edited and overdubbed from lengthy improvised sessions, the first few tracks running into each other with the sudden snap of the pause button. It brings with it strong images of woods at night or dripping abandoned industrial spaces, there’s rumbling and hissing and scraping. Odd sounds move from left to right and the whole thing sounds great on headphones. The rattling tambourine and looping horn sounds of ‘Stone Comb’ conjur some kind of makeshift parade leading abruptly into the title track a more open and loose limbed thing, if I had to guess I’d say the shape of the dance was a malformed circle. But that’s just me. ‘Scacco Matto’ seems to be entirely built out of textures from overloaded electrical kit but is followed by the fairly serene ‘A Perspective With No End’ which leads out on a strong bass line and sounds almost like something Tortoise might have done 20 years ago. Then it’s back to uneasy squalling ambience for the wonderfully entitled ‘Questionable Art In Public Spaces’. The various ideas and approaches all seem to come together on final track ‘Gonda’s Dream’ and then it’s gone, every time I listen to it it seems short. At just over half an hour I guess it is. Not enough artists know the power of brevity and not overstaying your welcome these days.

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full moon fever

Sly & The Family Drone/ 7Shades / Bruxa Maria                            Wagon & Horses  16th Sept.

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What might be left to say about Sly & the Family Drone when you’ve written about them a few times already? First time I ever saw them perennial Brummie bridesmaids Interlard were opening and tonight, once again, are just wrapping up in a wall of noise as I arrive, so it goes. Bruxa Maria are a slightly unlikely looking post hardcore trio, Gill is tiny which makes the bassist Will look even taller, and it’s a while before I realise they’re both left handed which is probably adding to the funhouse mirror effect. For his part the drummer beats the living hell out of his kit – good lad. They’re really together and the songs take a pleasing variety of approaches being by turns angular or pounding or sludgy. It’s an intense and enjoyable noise, never predictable. Gill doesn’t appear to be doing anything particularly flash but gets a really great sound that’s thick and heavy but crisp and crunchy on top. Which sounds delicious, I may have been watching too much Bake Off. The stomping ‘My Sweetheart Miguel’ reminds me a bit of Silverfish, which is always a good thing but generally they seem to be cutting their own path and it takes them in all sort of directions. They finish though on a joyously breakneck race to the end three min thrash. In short, they’re fantastic and you should definitely take a listen to their impressive debut album here, the lengthy title track alone givesa good idea of their ambition.

 

So The Cardiacs then. 7shades were formed in their honour and while they aren’t actually a Cardiacs tribute band, they have their own material which also makes room for other influences, the guiding hand of Tim Smith rests heavy on their collective shoulder shall we say. That’s fine as far as it goes but The Cardiacs were a unique band with a very Marmite kind of appeal. You either do or you don’t. I have friends who adored them, I even saw them once but it never really did it for me. So although 7shades have put other fillings in their sonic sandwich much like Marmite, the unmistakable tang of The Cardiacs prevails. They do it well though, so if hectic prog punk whimsy is your thing by all means tuck in. Extending the food metaphors the front people are wearing his/hers aprons with domino/dice dots that total seven. I’m relieved to see that Neil is wearing a pair of shorts behind his or things could have got even more upsetting. It’s like the worst, or maybe best, episode of Ready Steady Cook ever.

 

The other bands played indoors but Sly & the Family Drone are set up, as usual, in the round down in the courtyard. Amazing as they are, Sly are a hard sell to all but the most adventurous punter. “Wanna come and see a noise band? the guy strips down to his pants and spits beer over everyone” “erm…” You aren’t going to hear them getting played on Radio 6 regularly if at all. I’m a fan but I don’t listen much to their recordings, they always seem a bit thin and uninvolving compared to the live experience which is what they’re really all about. Their gigs, like Peel’s much quoted maxim about The Fall, are always different and always the same. Tonight, hilariously, they start with Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’. It’s out of place but familiar, people are smiling and singing and they haven’t even started. In one subtle move it both lightens the mood and brings the crowd together. The whole idea is that the mood and the togetherness of the crowd are set to intensify for maximum communal joy. That’s the thing people who don’t ‘get’ it are missing – there’s no room for spectators here, the band are the prime instigators but this is a dyonisian experience open to any and all participants willing to be swept along. So much so that it wouldn’t work if we didn’t join in. The set slowly builds up and up, as always a long slow crescendo, eventually bringing in the crowd to bash away at various bits of kit in a mob they’ve become ever more skilled at guiding, incredibly all stopping together on the drummer’s signal. It’s brilliant and, even when you know what to expect, it’s not getting old yet. Long may they bash and squawk and bring joy to merry drunken crowds.

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band pics by Kaz (not the one in Sly)

Let’s All Take The Yellow Pills

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apparently they’ll ease my painfully literal interpretations or something. Here’s a really very lovely slab of gentle sunday afternoon listening. Caudal is a ‘trance punk’ trio featuring the ever busy Aidan ‘Nadja’ Baker. This is a gorgeous kraut/space/drone rock record in gentle mood. Three long tracks of his delicate and accomplished guitaring over a steady driving rhythm section that never gets flashy or meandering. They make it sound effortless and light, while at the same time leading you ponder how other band’s 17 min plus tracks are a comparative slog. Picks up pace a little on the third and final tune and ends rather abruptly – reminding you to get the tea on.

 

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cultural vandalism

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Still a whole hundred days until christmas but here’s a lovely little present and perhaps a little help with writing that all important letter to Santa in the shape of a free download comp from the wonderful Riot Season. Unless you’re some kind of desperate completist obsessive who already has all these records you’re going to want this. Filthy, rockin’ sludge in a variety of flavours from the last couple of years of their releases and a couple of old gems from Hey Colossus and Dethscalator. Shit $ Shine channel Big Stick on their latest effort, there’s raw noisy punk rock from Workin’ Man Noise Unit and Tropical Trash, huge psych slabs from Blown Out, Khunnt and Sloath, the ridiculously great Bad Guys, Henry Blacker,  Menimals, Early Mammal, Dodge Meteor, Mainliner + the furious Art Of Burning Water. The whole thing stinks of diesel and coats your hands in something hard to wash off. Bargain.

we should thank Revolt Of The Apes for this great Hey Colossus tech schematic…

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