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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #1

Posted: August 26th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted October 2001)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

Hey kids. I’ve just been listening to the 14 Iced Bears, and if you don’t remember them, then that’s not entirely important (although it’s quite important, as they were REALLY RATHER GOOD). The point is, where is all the good music these days? Why do I fill my time with all these old records, when surely I should be listening to the hip sounds of youth and getting down to where it’s at in the scene. I can barely get it together to buy anything even vaguely new any more, my shopping habits are erratic to say the least and leave me clutching weird armfuls of records from all over the place and from random years and people. Such is the delightful nature of aimlessly shambling through one’s musical life. Still, this isn’t a confession, it’s an excuse to pad out some space before I get started on a paltry selection of reviews of the only half-recent records I’ve got lying around here right now. Sit down comfortably, this won’t take too long…

First up is a 7″ split single featuring V/VM and PORTAL, on the simply marvellous Earworm Records, which upon first impressions looks a bit dull, sitting as it does in a generic Earworm company sleeve and having as it does no labels on the record to speak of, just an area of white. this does mean it’s difficult to tell which side is which, but you’ll know soon enough by listening to the damn record, fool. Portal’s two tracks are on the sinister side of relaxed, with super-repeated, super-barren frightening child’s story style melodies burrowing into your head and fiddling around with stuff, like the more melodic, more unnerving parts of the Aphex Twin‘s ‘Volume II’ in one way, and like stripped-down versions of an old David Cronenberg film soundtrack in another way. pretty cold-sounding, but atmospheric to the point of suffocation. V/VM, on the other hand, are clearly disturbed in several ways, and proffer some kind of twisted happy house tune which has been fed backwards through a sharp blender and brought up on a diet of sampling and knowing glances at people with worse record collections than itself. Strangely enough, for all its cut-up oddity and scratched record (in the traditional sense) charm, it manages to be simultaneously respectful and damning of the ten or so old tunes it’s sellotaped together with. You can’t say they’re not originals.

Next next next. This is a three 7″ box set from Rocket Racer records, and it looks fantastic – minimal yet a delight to open and treasure. As the insert says, ‘it’s been a while since i’ve seen a 7″ box set’, and i couldn’t agree more, it’s great to see effort being made to produce this kind of artefact, so much attention to detail, and so much belief in the music contained within. and the music? well, there’s more PORTAL, this time they seem to have cheered up somewhat and give us a skippy light breakbeat mixed with ominous synth sounds and quiet echo-heavy vocals. respect. the other side has THE AND/ORS who take the more traditional guitar band route and use it to good effect, with a lazy and plaintive song that sounds like an old Sarah Records band existing nowadays, operating at a slower speed, and with a slightly warped edge. The second record kicks off with YELLOW 6. I say kicks, but it’s more of a slow shuffle, with lulling, shifting sounds intermingling amongst pleasant acoustic guitar, like certain areas of Godspeed You Black Emperor! or even Aerial M. It’s bee-eautiful. LACKLUSTER bring things weird to the flip, with what some might pretentiously say is a ‘soundscape’, but what I pretentiously like to call ‘a bad-dreamy passing of noise’ which recalls cold winds on miserable evenings and drifting lost at sea. or at least recalls ideas like those. like Portal’s stuff on the earworm record, it’s certainly unnerving, and definitely memorable. STYROFOAM, next, sound the most electronic of the folks in this box, with a tune which could have been produced in the early 1980s on 1970s equipment. But recorded in the 1990s. It builds and builds, piano sound over synth sound over drum machine sound, not really going anywhere, but never getting dull. TANK round off this superb selection of talent, and stay true to their flawless form with a Neu! style urgent repetition, sounding utterly meaningful without the need for lyrics. They have it going on, or off, or something.

And there I will end. Only two reviews, you cry? Well, quality beats quantity every time. And those two releases are of The Quality which should make all you dear readers go form a band, or release a record, or write something, or produce something worthwhile. As Add N To X would say, ‘you must create’.

Go on then.

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


1 Response to diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #1

  1. Jason

    V/VM! I was just hanging out and playing darts with that guy in Berlin last weekend! he rules.