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AUDIOSCOPE / Reviewing Penance

Posted: October 4th, 2004, by Stuart Fowkes

Well, AUDIOSCOPE‘s all over for another year, and Chris has summed up the flavour of the day better than I’m able to at the moment (give it a week or so, but by then it’ll be old news), so I won’t go into too many details – if anyone’s interested, there will be plenty of post-event chat here. Just to add to what Chris has said about Damo Suzuki – I’m sure everyone who meets him has the same impression, but he really is a remarkable man. For all he’s achieved and seen and all his travelling tales, he’s completely down-to-earth and egoless, willing to chat to anyone, and even pitching in on the Saturday with blowing up Shelter balloons and loading in stuff to the venue. What a hero.

Anyway, to the point – it occurs to me that with organising one thing and another, I’ve been rather neglecting my duties of listening to new bands and offering up some regular thoughts on here, so I’ve undertaken a MONTH OF REVIEWING PENANCE, starting today. I’ll be reviewing AT LEAST ONE record from some new band, somewhere in the world, every day this month. And if I don’t, I’ll be flagellated and forced to listen to bad funk rock.

So yeah, let’s kick things off with a double helping.

First up are a very seriously named band from Utrecht called We Vs. Death, who don’t do things by halves: we have badges (one reading ‘WE VS.’ and the other, in an ultimate rock’n’ roll stylee, emblazoned ‘DEATH’), stickers, and the CD, Postneoliberalise, comes wrapped in an intricately-folded black ‘n’ white sleeve that I just know I’m never going to get back together and I’m gonna have to dump with all the unfolded road maps in our spare room. But anyway, onto the music, and blow me down if this isn’t a little instrumental post-rockin’ treat. Now I’m getting as sick as the next man of instrumental post-rock, but this is pretty neatly put together – there’s oodles of trumpet all over the first track ‘My Dog Is Watching Me’, and pretty flourishes give way to crunching chord progressions that remind me almost to a frightening degree of Oxford’s Stravinsky-meets-Tortoise heroes The Rock of Travolta. Strings and the effortless-yet-studied feel of a Dianogah track punctuate ‘City Council Cosmos’, which pootles along for eight minutes with a great deal of dignity, if not too much in the way of development of musical themes. It’s all earnest, heads-down post-rock, but it’s the jaunty-meets-spiky splashes of colour and cracking dynamics on the opening track that steer this more in the direction of interesting and individual, rather than soundscaping by numbers.

And so onto a two-track demo so home-made it was probably recorded in one of the demo bedrooms at B & Q, but then that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Go! Team! Go! Sounds like they should all be Manga characters with massive boggling eyes and comedy oversized instruments, and it’s a few minutes of woogling keyboards, play-fighting and yelping vocals. The first track sounds like The Capricorns gatecrashing Kim Gordon’s eighth birthday party, the highlight coming when a big, enthusiastic wave of feedback breaks down into a playground chant. It’s toy keyboards thrown out of prams, thrown together with relentless enthusiasm: rough around the edges and sometimes overly keen to get to where it’s going, but at the same time a thrilling listen and enough to make ’em a prospect well worth keeping your eyes on.

We Vs. Death

Go! Team! Go! (e-mail rmanber@aol.com)

Stuart Fowkes

Stuart is possibly one of the tallest people you have ever seen. He towers above your puny skyscrapers like Rodan on steroids, his blonde spikes puncturing the atmosphe re like crazed, gelled knives. In real life he is part of the Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element pop outfit, and writes for other websites as well as this one - the cheeky blighter. He favours the noisier end of the musical spectrum, with a fervour which would seem to indicate a dodgy heavy metal past.


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