My Heart Will Be Blessed . . .

Inevitably then Laibach have now developed their performance of songs from The Sound Of Music on their extraordinary trip to North Korea into a full album. While they returned for the premiere of the film about that concert ‘Liberation Day’ and despite the recent pantomime of Kim Jong Un and Trump getting along and allegedly warmer relations between the North and South it still seems something that’s unlikely to be repeated any time soon. This album very likely putting paid to even the faintest glimmer of a possibility. They are joined again by vocalists Boris Benko (Silence) and Marina MÃ¥rtensson but don’t fret, Milan is in there too. I like the way the woman directing Pyongyang traffic weirdly echoes Julie Andrews spinning on a mountainside in the film. Laibach present their version of popular favourites from the movie including, wonderfully, their reading of ‘Maria’ – “How do You Solve A Problem like Korea?”. Of course there’s also some great cover art seamlessly blending imagery from the movie with totalitarian kitsch, it’s perfect. the album promises to be a metatextual delight and will, if nothing else, serve to stand in this year until they finally cave in and make the greatest Christmas record of all time.

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8.8.88

The rose tinted warning flag is out. Likelihood of sentimental nostalgic outbursts. This extraordinary, swooning, shuddering, soul-shaking beast of a record came out 30 years ago today. My Bloody Valentine suddenly stood way out ahead of their contemporaries, transformed from their earlier self. You Made Me Realise was disorienting, a delirious tumble that knocked the air out of your lungs. I’m sure it was weeks before I noticed the girl had a knife as well as a bunch of flowers clutched to her chest as perfect an image for the music as you could wish for.

as a wee McGee bonus here’s a sweet old clip of a bunch of other creation bands talking about their favourite band on the label – no points for guessing

Pram launch Across The Meridian

After twelve years away Pram washed up back in Birmingham to reveal their new album in a cosy Digbeth warehouse artspace. It was just about everything you might want it to be, intimate and beguiling. Ed Dowie opened with a short set of his charming songs and even more charming and eccentric between song chat. Should he take his jumper off? Should he take a sip of his drink?

Pram still sound reassuringly like they used to, perhaps a little more sturdy, perhaps a little more jazz in there but basically, despite the loss of Rosie along the way, the same band we all remember. It’s lovely to have them back and you can tell we’re amongst family because although they’ve been gone more than a decade several people just can’t shut their mouths for even ten minutes to listen. Even here it seems, deep in hardcore DIY music nerd-ville, random thoughts cannot go past without immediate expression. The band themselves do not say much, perhaps concentrating hard on recreating their gorgeous somnambulant new music. Having not heard it before I’m guessing they played the new record in pretty much it’s entirety, possibly even in order. I don’t recall any older material in the set but the new stuff is just grand. That they have not been welcomed back with greater fanfare is a source of some sadness to me. The musical world seems in many ways to have turned more towards them in the intervening years but so it goes . . .

This Is Nottingham

This is another of those unfinished posts, the video clip for Rattle’s new-ish split single with Xylouris White on God Unknown records. It’s their usual telepathic, wonkily melodic drumming goodness. Part of the reason this post never got written is that it appeared the same week as Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ and a stately, largely slo-mo clip of joggers along the banks of the river Trent and love locks on Wilford suspension bridge just didn’t seem to hold the same densely packed cultural fascination. If I had the energy I’d be attempted to tease out a deconstructive reading of its own buried symbolism. The dark whirl of compulsions that fuel the desire to run needlessly, the lock’s need to give symbolic form to emotion, the contrast between Nottingham and Paris, and the bridge itself, an Edwardian aqueduct. There’s something inherently odd about a bridge that carries water across a river don’t you think? Plenty to chew on, not that there’s necessarily any real relation. The location is more likely merely convenient, the thin thread of repeating lyrical phrases “harder they come” and “rolling off the tongue” don’t offer much either. Just as well.

The second reason is I recently saw Rattle play live again, supporting Protomartyr, and I also vaguely considered reviewing that. So here you go – Rattle were as great as ever – hypnotic and surprising. Protomartyr singularly failed to solve the riddle of their existence for me. I quite like them, but I forget about them and from time to time I hear them and think, ‘that’s pretty good’. And so, they were pretty good. Not terrible or hateful but not a revelation that opened the key to their musical charms either. Just there. Stodgy, midwestern, earnest and inoffensive. The singer pulls a successive string of beers from his jacket and mumbles. They think they’re Guided By Voices but they’re really The Hold Steady. I bet they worship The Replacements. Weirdly, even with a stray stage light shining in my damn face their charmlessness failed to annoy me. I still kind of like them. But I’m not going to live forever. I probably don’t have time for this.

here’s a nice shot of the bridge from George Carless photography