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Archive for October, 2004

ECONOMY OF MOTION (CD)

Posted: October 31st, 2004, by Simon Minter

Economy Of Motion is a two-man outfit, made up of Chris Summerlin (he of diskant.net/Wolves! (Of Greece)/Reynolds/Damo Suzuki’s backing band/etc/etc) and Gareth Hardwick, and their electric guitars. Nothing more than that; no drums, no bass, no keyboards – it’s just electric guitars and the sounds made by them, looped, reverbed and effected-up.

It’s wonderful stuff – very relaxed, and relaxing, sound, with layers stretching and building over the course of five tracks and 35 minutes. The guitars are barely recognisable as guitars, except for a few picked notes here and there. The sounds created are so heavily treated that they’ve become pure tones, allowing the tracks to exist like floating masses, with moments of tension and feeling drifting gradually and slowly in and out. At times the sounds reminded me of Sonic Youth when they’re deep in a ‘noise break’ circa Evol, but really this CD reminds me much more of so-called ‘ambient’ or ‘minimal’ musicians such as Phill Niblock, Eno or Phillip Jeck.

www.honeyisfunny.com/eom

I hate coming home to news like this

Posted: October 26th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

I now feel even more guilty for not having listened to John Peel’s show in at least a couple of years since the radio on my stereo stopped working properly. I thought that he’d be there forever so missing a few (hundred) shows wouldn’t really matter so much. As with everyone I spent my teenage years listening to Peel on a crappy taperecorder; anxiously fiddling with newfangled FM to try and get something listenable, taping all kinds of incredible stuff and sending off for these odd records from friendly people all over the place. He’s certainly been a huge influence on everything I’ve done and I was thrilled when he read out my name on air and said I had a lovely name. As with the recent death of Paul Foot, another personal hero of mine, another man who did everything to help the people who never get heard, we’ve lost someone truly irreplaceable and far, far too early.

Thanks to everyone who’s posted so far. Chris’s post has almost made me cry!

John Peel

Posted: October 26th, 2004, by Simon Minter

Anybody who’s anything to do with independent (in all senses of the word) music now – more than ever – owes it to themselves, and to all of us others who are involved, to keep on making the effort. A mainstay, whom it was all too easy to take for granted, is now gone.

Condolences to the Peel family. John will be sorely missed.

John Peel

Posted: October 26th, 2004, by Dave Stockwell

I’m really upset, and there’s no way I’m going to escape this bad mood now. All I want to do is listen to sick noise music and sulk.

I had the privilege to meet John Peel a couple of times, and he was just the nicest, most garrulous and enthusiastic guy – his radio personality seemed to be exactly who he was, whether he was with his family, hanging around with musicians of any level of infamy, or talking to some anonymous fuck-off who was doing their level best not to be overawed in his company. He even profusely thanked me for giving him a record by a band called The Cunts once.

And you just somehow counted on his radio show being there throughout all the shit that radio1 goes through. I shudder to think how things will be without him. Rest in peace John.

Peel

Posted: October 26th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

I just wrote a huge amount about Peel and Blogger crashed. Maybe it’s trying to tell me something.

I’ll try again.

You would never have caught Peel running into a bands dressing room after a gig and yelling

“I AM REBORN! THAT WAS LIKE TAKING YOUR FIRST E!”

I witnessed it.

Peels importance is not as a divining rod of talent, it’s as a symbol against the modern music industry. A pays B to make record. A pays C (who A and B do not know personally) to talk about how good Bs record is to D, E and F. D, E and F do not know C personally either but they trust their word.

Therefore if you run out of money somewhere between B and C you won’t get any radio play or press. The idea that someone who has been paid to talk about a record is more knowledgable that someone who just wants to talk about it is fucking absurd.

Peel being on Radio One was the finger to that idea. You could release your own record and send him it and he could well play it. Hell, he could ring you up while you’re at work and tell you how much he liked it. He also had an acute understanding of how much money a session fee actually represented to a band who worked full time and had little time or energy to spend making music. It represents tour money, money for another record release, money to pay your rent, studio money, equipment repair. I am sure I would have given up playing music ages ago were it not for the small but important cash (and confidence) injections afforded by Peel in the last few years.

I hope to God the BBC don’t see this as the opportunity to get rid of a program they have never understood. There’s a great team behind the Peel show right now who could take it over easily and it would be right, do not re-design, do not look for a celebrity replacement. But you know what’ll happen.

Here’s a picture from my 25th birthday with lots of people who contribute to Diskant in one way or another.

Nice one John.

ESKA – Hypnotism Act 1952 (Gringo)

Posted: October 25th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

Most bands would kill for a riff like this. Maybe Eska did, or maybe they’ve sold their souls but if so, damn, it was worth it. I first heard this song a couple of years ago and was staggered by it and, with only one more hearing a few days later, it was firmly stuck in my memory. When I got this record I placed it on my turntable and hoped beyond hope that it would be this song. When it was it seemed too good to be true. Any other band with this riff would just revel in it for about 20 minutes but not Eska, oh no. Start with one guitar and some clattering drums and then bring on the duelling. Then they’re up to their tricks, dropping the riff for twisting turns of ponderous vocals and dreamy picking which you know they’re partly doing so they can drag..it…out….and…..then…..BLAM! Then why not ditch the riff completely for a bit of utterly joyful guitarwork coupled by echoing drums with Colin hollering just that perfect distance from the mic before the guitars cut back in and out quicker than you can keep up. It’s dizzying and utterly marvellous. Still the most underrated band in Scotland but this is my favourite record of the year and I haven’t even managed to turn it over yet*.

Part of the Gringo Singles Club
www.gringorecords.com

*Apologies to New Radiant Storm King who have the unenviable task of sharing this piece of vinyl.

CIRCLE – Empire (LP, Riot Season REPOSELP08)

Posted: October 24th, 2004, by Simon Minter

I’ve been wanting to hear Circle for a long, long time, and hearing Empire now leaves me wanting to track down everything else they’ve ever released as soon as possible – it’s nothing short of amazing. Two long (22/23 minute) tracks, recorded live in Finland early this year, introduce Circle as one of those rare bands who seem to combine effortlessly many aspects of the music I love.

A (presumably) semi-improvisational style, played on traditional ‘rock’ instruments, mixes the laid-back rhythms and strange vocal stylings of early-70s Can with a heavy abstract psychedelic feel. Relentlessly repetitive melodies swell and build from delicate beginnings into intense, cloying chunks of sound. Circle seem to slot into a group of bands I’m slowly becoming more familiar with, as I discover whole new worlds of sound experimentation – Double Leopards, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Dead C, etc. It’s exhilarating and exciting to find vast, previously uncharted areas of wonderful music! Then again, it’s hard on the wallet too…

www.circlefinland.com
www.riotseason.com

Some Kind of Monster

Posted: October 15th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

For some inexplicable reason (Simon forgot), we haven’t linked up Dave Stockwell’s hilarious column about the Metallica documentary. I went to see it myself last night surrounded by metal fans wearing band tshirts and enjoyed myself tremendously. I was hoping the Metallica fans were going to start headbanging or screendiving but sadly not. I wonder how much they enjoyed watching the band look like total idiots. Maybe I should have hung back and eavesdropped but I was too busy trying to stop smirking.

There’s not much I can add to Dave’s review – he does cover all the greatest bits. My favourite was when their manager told them that if they didn’t do the crappy ‘Hi, we’re Metallica!’ things for a radio station then basically their next album would be boycotted by everyone in the world and they would become bankrupt IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? so they immediately gave in and then wrote a song about how unfair it all is. I was half convinced there would be a segment later on where they admitted they were only kidding and none of these songs ended up on the actual album but no, they were serious. Marvellous.

You might also have missed Jon Goodwin’s Guide To Leeds, the first in our new series of Talentspotter Towns. If you’d like to write about the best bands, labels, venues and stuff in your town then let us know and we might let you.

Hurrah!

Posted: October 11th, 2004, by Stuart Fowkes

Hurrah! I bought some 7″s last week, and have just got around to giving ’em a listen. And three cheers for vinyl with good things etched thereon, they’re both grand. That I’m a fan of London-based Italians Querelle should come as no surprise to anyone who’s read this, but I’d only previously heard them live. ‘Invisible’, their contribution to this split with The Dudley Corporation is a crystalline and affecting, if brief, tug on the ol’ heartstrings. The guitar and bass lines snake around each other like prime Unwound, while there’s more than a shade of Blonde Redhead about the song’s emotional resonance. Warm and comforting like your favourite person on a cold day. On the flip, the Corpo throw out ‘Safety Shot’, which starts off a bit more lightweight. Coming over like an extremely well stitched-together patchwork of flighty pop and rousing emo, it doesn’t really get going until the guitars decide to show us what they can do in the final third, and then it’s all over too quickly, just as we were gettin’ into it.

There’s nothing like the familiar feel you get from holding a lush, properly produced heavyweight single in your hands, and the latest offering from Vacuous Pop is that esteemed label’s best offering since the first Cat On Form 7″. Help She Can’t Swim are a delirious collision of The Fall and Huggy Bear, all spiky urgency and yelping invective, but without forgetting that – hey! – we wanna dance too. Raucous, exhausting and brilliant, ‘Knit 1, Pearl 1’ smacks you in the gut and runs off with your sweets, and then gives way to a more considered second track in ‘My Favourite Lay’, which bizarrely sounds a bit like Bratmobile playing an early Placebo song. ‘Are You Feeling Fashionable?’ sports a terrace chant about erstwhile indie rag Melody Maker, and actually sounds a bit like Leeds riot grrl types Coping Saw – a good thing in my book. Sure, you can hear where Help She Can’t Swim have come from, but where they’re headed is far more exhilarating.

The further info bit:

Bands:
The Dudley Corporation
Querelle
Help She Can’t Swim

Labels:
Vacuous Pop
Big Scary Monsters

Muleskinner Jones

Posted: October 8th, 2004, by Stuart Fowkes

“Swing your partner by the head

Don’t let him go ’til he’s good ‘n’ dead”

Muleskinner Jones (aka James Closs) must be back, then… Death Row Hoedown is the first we’ve heard from him since his ‘Terrible Stories’ EP in 2002, and it’s his best yet. Taking a Nick Cavesque relish in horrible stories of death and murder, the Muleskinner’s music, Apple Powerbook and the occasional reference to Nintendo and Kwiksave notwithstanding, still sounds firmly rooted in 1890s smalltown America: ‘So Long, Mary Jones’ would have made a fitting soundtrack to James Marsh’s beautifully shot deathumentary Wisconsin Death Trip.

His folk-death-polka is tremendously macabre fun – all death’s head grins, pretty yet ill-fated girls, and the best bit of ostentatious harm wished upon landlords since the Jesus Lizard packed their thumbscrews away. The title track is the most straightforward, a galloping hoedown of undertakers swinging each other round an electric chair, while ‘Concrete Swamp’s booming vaudeville is what might happen if ever Tom Waits and The Cramps cross paths. In the Jack Daniel’s distillery, naturally. A healthily tongue-in-cheek obsession with murder the way it ought to be committed (y’know, hands-on, under a moonlight sky. With a gin bottle.) and some fascinating musical concoctions – strike me down if this ain’t the best little whorehouse in Texas.

More: Muleskinner Jones