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Archive for February, 2009

HI RED CENTER – Assemble (Joyful Noise)

Posted: February 12th, 2009, by Pascal Ansell

Ah, shucks. It’s always going to be difficult because the stuff that hasn’t been done before has all been done before. Know what I mean? Look at Volcano! And Deerhoof for that matter. Just look at them! Where do you go from there?

To the point then. Hi Red Center come from New York and are on the Joyful Noise label that lives up to its name. In comes HRC’s Second album ‘Assemble’ is a treat, but there are holes.

This album glitters and sparkles. It’s a hall of mirrors where you occasionally get tripped up, clothes snagged but ultimately it’s an exhilarated by the jarringly fun tour. Track six it grew on me like the rash on my neck: give me Chicken Gorlet anytime because this song is brilliantly addictive.

They have tackled the Deerhoof approach not in the naïvest of ways (cutesy melodies, sparse and interchangeable dynamics) yet they haven’t really pulled it off. While I’m at it there’s a rather too noticeable use of the Deerhoof rubato i.e. the whopping loosness of rhythm, the holding back… until the niggling smash and wallop of instruments. It doesn’t quite convince. But to hell with it: this review is too full of doesn’ts and haven’ts and rashes – this makes cracking listening and I may be hoping for a bit too much. Songwriting takes precedence from experimentation, and the attempted sound is just not quite their own. But note the ‘quite’. This is a very decent album – HRC are on their way to making something pretty special.

I’m going to the doctor by the way. About the rash.

Hi Red Center

Pascal Ansell

Vladimir Martynov – Night In Galicia (CD, Long Arms)

Posted: February 11th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Vladimir Martynov is a very special Russian composer. He’s one who is primarily interested in minimalist, avant-garde, and religious music. I’d venture a guess that there aren’t very many of his type. Night In Galicia takes all of his fascinations, churns ’em up, and spits out a stunning and endlessly intriguing piece of work.

Galicia is a little over an hour long with 13 separate tracks but it’s the 15 minute opener that stands out as the epic focal point. It starts out nice and pure, with a man and woman going back and forth, unnervingly reciting the various pronunciations of our alphabet’s vowels. When I first played this, my wife hated it. She wouldn’t let me get past the 2 minute mark, which is a shame, because that’s exactly where it gets a bit more dynamic. More and more vocals come in and they form some sort of syncopated beat. Eventually, everything bursts into a grandiose chorus that sounds halfway African and makes you want to stomp your feet and and break out in tribal dance. It’s seriously amazing and hypnotic. The CD could end there and it wouldn’t even matter. But there’s still another 50 minutes left to knock you off you feet.

The remaining songs on Night In Galicia alternate between edgy orchestral string drones and majestic vocal work that brings me to the same place as Yoshi Wada’s Lament For The Rise & Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile. The moods may be dissimilar but the technique and approach are very much alike. And considering how highly I regard Lament, that is one honorable compliment.

My guess is that Galicia might take some getting used to. Granted, that’s only due to my wife’s reaction, but I guess it never hurts to take precautions. I was immediately hooked but it’s possible this might be considered a “tough listen.” If you’re feeling brave, give it a go. I know I’m new here so my word doesn’t mean much, but I 100% recommend this record and will defend it indefinitely.

Vladimir Martynov (Long Arms bio) (Wikipedia)
Long Arms Records

The people have spoken

Posted: February 10th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Or rather, some of you have been voting in our ‘which columns next?’ poll. The current front runner is Stuart Fowkes, which had absolutely nothing to do with him pleading for votes on Twitter, ahem.

All six of Stu’s columns are now scheduled and will pop up over the next few weeks taking us into March. Stu was our resident demo reviewer – this is often a thankless task but at diskant it’s usually preferable to the bombardments of PR-approved crap. At least you sometimes get a nice personalised letter and some sweets.

I’m hoping you’ll all add some comments to the posts and let us know what the folks reviewed are up to these days. Some were successful, some went on to form other awesome bands and others were never heard of again. Oh, and I joined one of them!

Please continue to vote in the poll as I do intend to get everyone’s columns up eventually and you can help decide the order.

Stu is also writing over at The Spider Hill, should you be interested (you should be!).

diskant +1

Posted: February 8th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Update: So… I realized that my sarcastic humor might not be easily detectable via the interwebs. After letting my original post simmer, I decided it was unlike myself and I was actually kind of embarrassed by it. The following is what it should have read all along.

I have been recruited to write for one of the greats. Writing for diskant is going to be a great pleasure and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I do. Thanks for Marceline for inviting me over here.

Here’s a quick rundown of Justin Snow related info:
I am married. My wife’s name is Elise. Her family history goes back to Cornwall. Does that get me any UK cred?
I have 2 bunnies (Yoshimi & Hodge). They are lovers. And they are my babies.
I have 1 hedgehog. His name is Acorn and he is very prickly.
I live in Salem, Massachusetts. There are people here that actually consider themselves witches. I am not one of them.
I have a never-ending desire to consume as much music as possible that I hope translates into awesome stuff to read at diskant.

diskant columns – a VOTE!

Posted: February 4th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

So, that was the end of Dave Stockwell’s columns from the old diskant zine days. I’ve been trying to line up Ross McGivern’s awesome set of columns for months now but he is re-editing them so go shout at him. While we’re waiting, I thought we could do a poll to help me decide the order of schedule for the remaining columnists. VOTE NOW!


Most of these people have stuff online elsewhere at diskant – try the enormo contributors list at the bottom of the right sidebar.

Plan B goes digital

Posted: February 3rd, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Plan B have just launched a digital version of their magazine, so if you can’t find Plan B round your way, have no room for piles of old magazines or just prefer reading stuff on the internets, then this is for you.

It costs £17.50 for unlimited access to a year’s worth of magazines, which you can read, print and download. There’s a free issue up just now to let you see how it works and it looks pretty cool to me, though my broadband provider aready hates me enough without adding to my bandwidth usage.

Have a look HERE.

YONOKIERO – Blue Apples (CD, Front And Follow)

Posted: February 1st, 2009, by JGRAM

Musicians have to mature. If for nothing else they have to have “continued professional development” but equally if an act or songwriter continues to regurgitate the same turgid shit year after year it becomes insincere and even worse, boring. Bands that have a career (or yearn/strive for a career) tend to find their formula early (often a variation of someone else’s sound), stick with it and wind becoming stale and boring in the process. This can often carry an act through a long career as the quality of the material gets distracted by hype, personality and whole set of other elements that do not relate to the art therein. This album represents a victory against that kind of complacency and the beauty of evolution.

The two headed monster that is Yonokiero is the enduring partnership that fuelled the fire of Hirameka an indie generation ago and provided many noisy lo-fi moments and dreams rejuvenating a small circle of people and daring to brush up against some big dreams while tussling with real (professional) indie heavyweights.

At this point I have to admit I could never truly be subjective about these guys. I have lived with them, toured with them, argued with them, been sick on them but that is all in the past and with this record I am sufficiently detached and genuinely presented with something I was neither expecting nor recognise. Sure I have been hearing demos of many of these songs for a couple of years now but nothing in this form. I remember their first gig at a house party called the Green Man Roundabout Festival and how thrilling it was to witness the rebirth and reinvention.

The most noticeable transition and addition to their arsenal is the expansion of instruments and sounds. Pleasantly sedate, after all the noise and furore of Hirameka, this is very much their Unplugged In New York (especially on the intro on “Randolph Bourne”), echoing a similar direction that other heroes have taken in evolution with bands such as The Evens.

The highlight tracks amongst the Nick Drake enthused collection include “Hey Now”, one of the older songs on show full of gliding pop with an “About A Girl” feel and Larry Sanders nod in the song title. Conversely in a batch of carefully crafted tunes it is the loudest and heroically lumbering of “Rewound” with its “time for reunion” mantra coupled with beautiful disorientation in its distortion which provides a real bipolar response.

With vocals that are generally hushed in delivery, adding an air of mystery and often menace, it is difficult to decipher what is being said all of the time but for those that are clear the lyrics flow as closely coded and guarded riddles only a spectator next to the trees could fathom, a kind of antidote to the Neil Strauss way of thinking and a different take on making sense of situations. This is the work of a yo yo ego.

It’s not perfection but in a world so cold you have to welcome and support such a rank contender/outsider.

Thesaurus moment: restoration.

Front And Follow

OCEAN BOTTOM NIGHTMARE – We Are Serious EP (CD, Phat Phidelity)

Posted: February 1st, 2009, by JGRAM

Ocean Bottom Nightmare (or rather OBN for short) find me on a fortuitous day as I desire something heavier, heavier than heaven, heavier than hell.

Hailing from Nottingham, what we have here are a hardcore snapping three piece leaning more on the metal side of hardcore as opposed to the punk.

Happily citing bands such as Mclusky and Reuben as their inspirations, here is something of an uninspired take on that sound, a sound that lacks a sense of humour that the genre so needs/requires to thrive on. If you really take life so seriously, as this EP title would suggest, soon you’ll adopt some kind of straitjacket as modelled by the latest version of the emo crowd.

On their side is a distorted bass that briefly makes the music breath and stand out but as the stern demeanour of the apparent personality of the band and its music take over and overwhelm such touches, the whole thing is inevitably lost to the ages.

In the end, this music is rock leaning towards the metal tone and taste of Kerrang readers, the music just feels too well adjusted to cause any real ripples in the grand scheme of things and you can shout as much as you like and you just will not be taken seriously. Unless of course you are good looking and goth girls want to fuck you.

Thesaurus moment: Zavvi.

Ocean Bottom Nightmare
Phat Phidelity