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Archive for July, 2006

Fopp Award for New Music 2006

Posted: July 31st, 2006, by Simon Minter

Winners announced:

The Olympus Mons
Morton Valence
Conrad Vingoe
The Dials

Discuss. Best new music in the country?

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Electricity Is Your Friend (Three Pin Recordings)

Posted: July 31st, 2006, by Dave Stockwell

Brand new Birmingham-based label 3 Pin Recordings offer up a CD compilation limited to 300 deluxe copies, coming in a printed cloth bad and housed in a trigger case with a 16 page booklet. Don’t ask me what a trigger case is because my review came in a slipcase. Ooh, there’s some CDROM content in the form of a video and some artist information too.

So who’s on it? Alongside a lot of newcomers there includes contributions from Dragon or Emperor (members of Volcano the Bear & Songs of Norway), Revox (of the Modified toy Orchestra), Daniel Padden (of his One Ensemble and VtB again) and the excellently-named Reverend Man Manly (of The Church of Noise). If you’ve heard any of these artists before you might have an inkling of what to expect from this compilation; lots of eclectic, experimental weird joy by a huge variety of performers.

Some highlights then for the uninitiated: Dragon or Emperor do an uncanny impression of The Jesus Lizard if they were armed only with bass and drums; a stunning track from Revox entirely sculpted out of interviews with talking heads; Daniel Padden’s beautiful solo piano track named after the prime chimp of Planet of the Apes; a bizarre deconstruction of a Beatles song by Jliat in homage to Steve Reich; two tracks by some guy called dead western who describes his music as “operatic folk”. Then there’s some really weird shit courtesy of CJ Pizarro; a beautifully haunting voice/synth textural piece by Sara Ayers; some excellent theoretical TV programme soundtracking by Sitcom Future Family; and a final cherry on top of this bizarre mess in the form of a hip hop track entitled “Terminally Ill” by Terms None and his mate The Mole. Class.

Add to all this by throwing in some bizarre spoken-word passages and samples interspersing the tracks just to disorientate the listener, and you’ve got a winningly confusing listen all round. This has been out for a couple of months now (yes, I am useless at doing reviews on time. Sorry), and is pretty damned limited so go! Go now! Go! Buy buy buy if your tastebuds are whetted. They certainly should be.


REMOTE SOUND – Not Thinking Of You (Self-released 3-track CD)

Posted: July 31st, 2006, by Dave Stockwell

Remote Sound are a young band from the sunny Falkland Islands, led by songwriter Alastair Jackson and ably assisted by friends Sara, Tristan, Neil an Phil. This is a re-release of their debut CD, which sold out of its original run of 200 copies since February. This time around there’s a bonus track added on for extra value. The whole thing was recorded for less than £70 and Remote Sound have got to be applauded for their enthusiastic approach to DIY, especially as they apparently live in the back of beyond where there’s barely any outlets for music.

The production’s impressive considering how cheaply they recorded it. But what does the music sound like? Basically they’re straight-up indie rock, playing someone’s heartfelt songs written when they really should be studying for their A-Levels. It’s hard to criticise the band or their approach given their circumstances and youth, but their music could be plucked out of any number of anyone’s bedroom band from their teenage years. It’s not a bad first effort at all from someone so young; I’d just be more interested in where they’ve got to a few years down the line and have matured musically somewhat.

But then what do I know? I’m a jaded fool who likes nothing more than random ramshackle noise and drone recorded onto a broken dictaphone. This music is much “straighter” than anything I can muster enthusiasm for these days. You should really check out the band for yourself:


THE MUTTS -I Us We You (Fatcat)

Posted: July 28th, 2006, by Fraser Campbell

FatCat usually release pretty interesting guitar based music, so it’s something of a surprise to hear this, a pretty straight up conventional rock record.

This is fairly patchy stuff, but when the Brighton based 4 piece get it right as they do on 3 or 4 tracks here, they deliver a blend of powerful riffing and snarling swagger that hints at a bright future, even if there is always the danger that they might get lost in the crowd.

My favourite track on this is “Don’t Worry”, an overwrought, slow shuffle that drips with attitude and also hints at a sly sense of the bands tangled roots.

Production wise, it lacks a bit at the top end for me and would benefit from sounding a little crisper.

Ultimately though, “I Us We You” only occasionally suggests that The Mutts are capable of moving beyond the efficiency they display here.

This is worth checking out if you like stripped down, unpretentious heavy rock n’ roll, but I’d expect better from these guys in the future.

The Mutts

BILLY MAHONIE / THE JESUS YEARS – split 7" (Theory of Nothing)

Posted: July 22nd, 2006, by Dave Stockwell

About two years ago I was persuaded to buy a 7″ rekkid split between two bands: the Lords of Nottingham and the Hey Colossus of Londonshire. Having witnessed both bands live but heard little recorded matter, I thought it could be a promising little number, especially as it was a debut by a new label to boot. Turns out that that 7″ was the best piece of 7″-sized wax I heard in ’04 by some distance, and it still gets regular spins on my turntable. Did I mention that the 7″ was insanely heavy and distinctly turd-coloured? I loved that 7″ and waited with baited breath for what Theory of Nothing Records (for they woz th’ label) would deign to release next.

Wind on to May of this year: I’d pretty much forgotten about Theory of Nothing, even though I probably haven’t bought a better 7″ since the Lords/Hey Colossus opus (restocked copies now available folks). Then! Out of the blue! I get asked to review the long-awaited second 7″ on Theory of Nothing – a split between the venerated and recently-reformed Billy Mahonie and Derby’s own fine young princes of post-math-pop-core, The Jesus Years. Get in! I said.

So, 9 years since their formation and a couple since everyone thought they’d split, Billy Mahonie make a triumphant comeback with their original line-up (despite the fact that Gavin apparently lives in Oslo). Their side is a track called “New Year’s Eve Song”, featuring the classic BM staples of twin throbbing basses, some deceptively sharp drum beauty and laser-like guitar playing combining to create another engaging, emotive and most importantly ROCKIN mathy/rocky genius. Even if the initial bassline sounds like a sped-up version of their signature song “Dusseldorf”. If you’ve ever enthused about Billy Mahonie in the past, this will be a proper treat of going right back to what you know. If you’ve not heard Billy Mahonie, you’ve been missing out and this is an excellent introduction. Billy Mahonie have always been a fine wine, best served cool and going down easy. This is like rediscovering a bottle that you thought you’d run out of years ago. Welcome back boys.

Facing up to matching this are The Jesus Years, a band I’ve managed to miss seeing at at least 3 gigs, despite living in the city next door to Derby. This was my first time listening to them, and they certainly impress with their skills to craft a canny pop song out of some classic math-rock moves. Their track, “Tom Seabourne PhD”, starts up like a ‘proper’ American emo band from the early ’90s; all crashing melodic guitar chords breaking down to nice jangly picked bits with slyly showy drums increasingly filling everything out until the song reaches the halfway point and it all erupts and gets suitably anthemic. It’s about this point you start wondering whether the Jesus Years really should go the whole hog and get themselves a singer and actually wear the ‘post-emo’ hat with pride. This is perhaps slightly cruel though, as they certainly have a knack for memorable guitar melodies and chunky rhythms that are satisfying like your favourite chocolate bar. Tasty, if occasionally slightly too sugary to be good for you every day.

All in all, another engaging and entertaining release from Theory of Nothing. The sleeve design is also really nice, and the vinyl is once again heavy enough to double up as an offensive weapon and it’s a beautiful translucent yellow this time. Much better than shit coloured. Excellent stuff, all. So what’s next?


From the desk of the diskant Overlord – July 18th

Posted: July 18th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

I am running out of ways to say sorry. Sorry there is little new content, sorry we are so slow at reviewing records, sorry I am spending too much time playing Animal Crossing. I’M SORRY!

Reasons I have not been updating diskant:

1. It’s too hot!

My laptop is practically overheating and I am sweltering just having it in typing distance. This, surely, is an excuse to buy a new laptop, yes?

2. I have RSI

Really, kids. Don’t spend all hours of the day on the computer, playing Nintendo and playing keyboards in a band. You will find yourself saddled with a lifetime of nagging pain. It’s all very well for my doctor to tell me to rest my arm but he doesn’t have a box full of CDs to review.

3. I have been doing band stuff

Notwithstanding waiting THIRTY FIVE MINUTES for a bus on the busiest road in Glasgow after band practice, we have been working hard for a couple of gigs. We supported Rother and Moebius last weekend who were rather good, especially went they went techno-krautrock or, even better, Neu goes Pet Shop Boys. I have to say they were the grumpiest band I have ever played with and possibly the only one not to even say hello to us. Even Wolf Eyes were friendlier! Next weekend we are playing in Dublin where I have never been before. I am looking forward to checking out the Botanic Gardens.

4. Yes, okay, Animal Crossing

Alex explains the madness so well on the blog. We are obsessed. I’m sorry.

Other diskanteers have also been busy. Simon and Stu for two. Go buy the new Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element 7" from Field Records.

Current listening: Pet Shop Boys, West End Girls, the Pipettes, Errors, Otterley, Findo Gask. I need to buy some new records.

diskant interview slackness stats: Interviewees: 2, Me: 2

The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Posted: July 13th, 2006, by Alex McChesney

I’ve had a Nintendo DS for a few weeks now, and the first game I got for it was Animal Crossing. If you’re not familiar it, it’s a fun little free-form game in which you move into a rural village populated by anthropomorphic animals. There’s no set goal as such. You can wander around the village, chat to your neighbours, fish, catch bugs, buy clothes and furniture for your little house or save to have it expanded, do some gardening, etc, without fear of any real “failure” condition. All in all it’s quite a relaxing escape from the real world. Interestingly, it also runs in real time. If it’s 12 noon on Sunday 16th of July when you’re playing it, it’s 12 noon on Sunday 16th of July in the game. The sun will be up, and any particular events that are taking place that day, eg a birthday party for one of your neighbours, will occur in the game.

Anyway, despite, or maybe because of, the lack of any strict set of achievements required of you by the game, it has been the most common resident of my DS’s card slot ever since it arrived. Over time, however, I have become increasingly aware of a dark heart beating beneath my town’s saccharine-sweet exterior.

Take Phyllis, for example. She’s the pelican that does the night-shift in the post office. Unlike her sister who works there during the day, she is consistently rude to me, and the one time I saw her in the museum coffee shop and tried to strike up a conversation, so told me in no uncertain terms to bugger off. (Of course, nobody says bad words in Animal Crossing, but you can’t disguise the intent.) At first I thought she was just being a bitch, but then Sally Squirrel told me she saw her crying the other day. Clearly something is up. Is she going through a painful divorce? Dealing with the death of a child? I don’t know, and she ain’t saying.

Then there’s Rodeo. This amiable bull-like character moved into the village a few days after I did, but I haven’t seen him wandering about town much recently. I try to drop in on him when I can, however. He always seems to be suffering from mysterious flu-like symptoms which are magically alleviated by the special “medicine” he sends me to buy from Tom Nook’s shop.

And what of Nook himself? In the English-language versions of Animal Crossing he’s described as a raccoon, but his name is actually a pun on his real species, the Japanese Tanuki. Tanukis are often depicted in Japanese culture as having comically large scrotums. They are the Buster Gonads of the animal kingdom, if you like, and this fits Tom Nook’s character quite well. While, of course, we never see his genitalia, you can’t help but have a sort of grudging respect for someone who will land a massive, involuntary mortgage on a new resident in exchange for a comically tiny house, as Nook does as soon as you arrive in town. He clearly has the biggest balls of all the residents, metaphorically if not literally. In fact, beyond stumbling across some cash hidden in a tree or under a rock, Nook also provides the only source of income in the game, by purchasing items from you that you may have found or been given. In a sense, every inhabitant of the town lives in servitude to Tom Nook, bringing him offerings so that they might scrape together enough cash to get by.

The sickness isn’t just confined to my village, either. I passed on my AC addiction to my wife, who, after playing around with mine for a while, purchased her own DS and copy of the game. Using the DS’s built-in wireless connection, you can “visit” other people’s villages and chat to the animals within. On one such trip to her town, I encountered a sheep called (of course) Baabera. Clearly a sad, lonely character*, she offered me a biscuit only to then say “oh, my boyfriend must have came in and eaten them all while I wasn’t looking”. On return to my own village I discovered that she had sent me a somewhat disturbing letter along the lines of “It was nice to meet you yesterday. I would invite you round again, but my boyfriend wouldn’t like it.” Naturally, nobody has seen this “boyfriend” of whom she speaks, and it is fairly obvious that she has invented an imaginary partner for herself. But has she done so because of lack of company, or is it more about keeping the world at arm’s-length by endowing him with a violently possessive nature? Who knows what past trauma drove her to this state, or how deeply her psychosis runs? I, for one, am staying well clear.

Anyway, I have to go now. Apparently Pee-Wee the Gorilla just found the body of Sally Squirrel washed up on the beach wrapped in plastic…

* This from a thirty-year old man writing about videogame animals like they are real people.

GLOCKENSPIEL – 24:48 ep (Self-released CD)

Posted: July 9th, 2006, by Simon Minter

Half of Glockenspiel, Steve d’Enton, was once the drummer in Quickspace, and his new outfit’s music – as evidenced by this CD – explores similar areas, albeit with wildly different sonic results. A simplistic churn of melodic repetition binds each of the three tracks together, each being distinguished by a particular melodic flavour. Quickspace’s jittery, hypersensitive bounciness is replaced by a gliding, mellow feel, and on ‘Glock one’ a soothingly syncopated beat carries along a floating Seefeel-like electronic drone, punctuated by abstract, echoing glimpses of sound. ‘Glock two’ is altogether more traditional in its melding of mournful guitar lines and blurred, reverbed vocal samples. Godspeed and, perhaps, Explosions in the Sky have already taken this line of music about as far as it can go, and it’s a relief that ‘Glock three’ veers away from it into another relentless-yet-quiet drum-led smear of a tune. This is where hints of a band that is more than the sum if its Krautrock and post-rock influences seem to occur: a reigning in of experimental music that is at once utterly strange and eminently listenable.