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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #16

Posted: October 17th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted April 2003)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

This week, or month, or year, or however often I do these columns during brief moments of lucidity and calm, I’ll be approaching the affair in an altogether orthodox way. I have a pile of things to review. I’m going to review them. You will read the reviews. Your life will become better by an insignificant margin. My review pile is made up of actual things which people have sent for review, so who knows what might happen over the course of this column? Snap judgements? Rash decisions based on a first listen? Hell yeah! I’m never gonna land that choice reviewer’s job on the NME if I think about what I’m writing logically and rationally, am I?

EP 5-track CD
This is one o’those oh-so-modern CDs with a silver side and a black side, like you get with Playstation games. Modern technology, huh? Next you’ll be telling me that they can record sound onto thin strips of magnetic ribbon. Anyway. This is a very well-recorded, cut crystal set of songs which roughly exist in the 50% “melodic epic indie” (Coldplay, James et al) + 50% “slightly odd noisy pop” (more recent Flaming Lips, Grandaddy etc) brackets. To me, personally, this means that it is unfortunately 50% “slightly annoying” as my tastes tend to fall into more skewed and bizarre brackets these days. However, I am in full appreciation of the care and attention with which this has been put together, which makes me realise that the band aren’t just some random chances who are playing at music. Self-belief is always refreshing to see in today’s climate of cynical and manipulated/manipulative bands.

Introduction to Minute Melodies CD album
Awkward Records AWKWARD 005
Hmm strange one this, thirty one-minute long songs/compositions which I entirely imagine to have been created by a strange loner sitting in a dark room at a computer and giggling to himself. The album takes us through a series of somewhat frustrating and aggravating ‘sound sketches’ (and hey, you can use that phrase if you like), taking in hallucinogenically-enhanced children’s television show themes, cod-hip-hop, sub-musique concrete word poems and general ‘ho ho I’m so funny’ experiments with samples and sound effects. It all sounds like it’s been created with a sustained blast of ‘messing around with my new music software and seeing what happens’. Over thirty tracks, despite their short nature, I’m afraid to say it gets kind of grating, and makes me that the album has been created for self-amusement rather than as any kind of grand musical statement. But I’m in two minds about whether that’s actually a bad thing or not…

(Love Song) for Annie/Gypsy Gypsy 7″
Earworm WORMSS12
Peter Daltrey, of course, being the guy who used to be in Kaleidoscope, a psych band from the wacky world of the sixties, who I’m afraid to say that I’ve never actually heard. The two songs on this single (one of the final releases from the now-very-sadly-defunct Earworm label) are hippy-folk-ish hey-de-hi-ho real ale type acoustic guitar things, and are not altogether unpleasant for those introspective moments we all sometimes have, when we’re sitting in the corner of a folky pub smoking a roll-up and listening to a chap with a long white beard singing about The Meaning Of Things. ‘(Love Song) for Annie’ features a great middle section when the modern world of electronics creeps in and carries the listener to the world of inner space. Or something.
By the way, Dom of I-used-to-run-Earworm fame is continuing to release cracking singles, with his new label The Great Pop Supplement (see below for a bit more on that…)

Ball o’string/Nuts in May 7″
Superglider Records SPRV009
Two strange, faltering heat haze sort of ‘pop’ songs on this record which comes in a nicely hand-painted sleeve. They vaguely recall Belle and Sebastian, through especially the lazy vocals and casually-strummed guitars which seem to evoke some kind of early sixties ‘beatnik in Paris’ atmosphere (or is that just me?) The other thing which sprang to mind was Vincent Gallo’s album ‘When’ – in the quiet nature of the songs, which are actually pretty weird (multi-layered guitars, effects, piano, roughly-recorded vocals, barely-held together song structures) – and similarly to Gallo, Sancho Panza don’t feel the need to prove themselves with volume or traditional production techniques.

6-track CD
Buttfunker Records
Oddly I seemed to enjoy this CD more as the tracks went by – and not in a waiting-for-it-to-finish sort of way, you understand, ho ho. First track ‘The Pauline Sense’ starts things off in a not-unpleasant but also not-too-incredibly inspired kind of way, being a conventionally laid back and noisy INDIE ROCK tune with a Pavement-style skewy edge. It’s good, but I demand WHAAARGH! wherever possible, not just good. By third song ‘An Example’ Hereditary Peers seem to have found some more energy, with this rockin’ fun chunk of emo-ish messy overdriven-to-the-point-of-implosion guitars. More! Like! It! Oh yes. ‘We are not an island anymore’ continues in a similar theme, whilst introducing slightly more hysteria and post-punk uptightness. It’s really fucking screamingly noisy. Hurray! ‘Firewalk’ is the Peers’ “epic” (it’s more than eight minutes long), a rolling-along sort of the-noise-is-coming-you-know-it-is affair, which put me in mind of Reynolds at times. Maybe this isn’t the most original of CDs but what really is these days? And it’s better to be unoriginal-good than unoriginal-bad.

CD/picture book
Dyspepsidisc DYS014
Not going to write too much about this, as frankly it scares me a little bit and I feel that if I get too involved I’ll wind up in some kind of cult, or at least a situation I can do without. Basically, it’s a picture book about a fluffy rabbit getting up to some adventures, and a 25-track CD of vaguely sinister childrens-y instrumentals played on toy piano, flute, violin, squeaky toys, etc… Weirdly, I kind of like this, if for no other reason that it seems so entirely deranged and committed to some kind of twisted cause (both CD and picture book will not have been cheap to produce).

Girls with rocks in their hands 7″
The Great Pop Supplement GPS01
I can take you to the sun/1723 7″
The Great Pop Supplement GPS02
…These being the first two releases on Mr Dom Earworm’s new label, an indie-as-you-can-get venture releasing 7″s only, in hand-produced sleeves, in limited runs of only 111 copies, distributed from home. This is to be applauded in these modern days of CDRs and internet-only labels – anything which harks back to the good old days of 7″s in plastic bags, sending cheques off to mysterious PO boxes and waiting eagerly by the postbox.

These two releases kind of sum up Earworm’s output, in a rough way; summing up two ends of a ‘modern psychedelia’ world which is hidden from mainstream indie circles. Vibracathedral Orchestra are super-hazy washes of sound with a sinister edge, which build and build with droning guitars and hallucinogenic-ed organ sounds in an Experimental Audio Research or even in an early Pink Floyd (ish) sort of way. The Doleful Lions are much more poppy in a Dukes of Stratosphear or Orange Alabaster Mushroom way – kind of 60s psych in attitude and sound, but strangely modern-sounding in the final outcome (and here with unfortunately not a cover of ‘I can take you to the sun’ by The Misunderstood). I kind of prefer the first of the two records, being more a fan of frightening, enveloping psychedelia than cuter sunshiney psychedelia… But whichever way you look at it, here is a new record label which should be supported at all costs, if only because labels like this are getting thin on the ground these days…

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.


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