diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #21

Posted: November 4th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted August 2004)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

Hot, isn’t it? I’m beginning to realise that I’m more a fan of cold weather than warm. It’s great that the sun is out, don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing it was pouring with rain all day long. I’m just missing the times when I could walk about in town for ten minutes without feeling like I’m going to pass out, and when I could get some decent sleep at night without the need for wide-open windows, and the insect attacks resulting from them.

But the English love to complain about the weather, eh? I’m such a walking cliché.

In other news, I cut my own hair the other day and inadvertantly clippered a few bald patches in there. I’m a trend setter.

Here’s some of the things which have been on my stereo recently.

Deep Peace is a compilation CD album from Autoclave Records. It’s ‘curated’ (i.e. put together) by calamateur, who I have reviewed here before. The raison d’etre behind this – all compilations need a raison d’etre – is awareness (and fund) raising for Trident Ploughshares, who aim to shut down Britain’s nuclear weapons capability. There are 14 tracks here, not of early 90s deep Goan Trance (as the hippyish title may make you think) but of a variety of (mostly) guitar-oriented independent music. It’s quite a rich variety too, taking in, amongst other things stripped-down acoustic introspective pop (Aereogramme), moody paranoid-sounding rock (calamateur), woozy My Bloody Valentine-like noise (Slow Storm) and minimalist blissed-out drones (Apologist). Aside from those four tracks – my favourites on here – the album also features Oldsolar, Brahm, Frog Pocket featuring calamateur, Spare Snare, The Gena Rowlands Band, Les Tinglies, The Out_Circuit, alicebelts, Lewis Turner and tenyards. What ties the individual tracks together, beyond the Trident Ploughshares connection, is a very high standard of production and recording, and consistently healthy quality control.

I got sent this CD single, The Hidden Perils of Dancing by Sucioperro, in a ‘please consider us for Audioscope’ context. The unfortunate side-effect of helping run the festival is constantly having to turn down bands – for many different reasons – and I feel I should mention this CD here because it really is pretty damn fine. Sucioperro are a Scottish indie rock band, who incline towards the heavy end of things, and who make me think of other bands like Biffy Clyro, Intentions of an Asteroid and Econoline. A combination of overdriven guitar power, melodic and sincere-sounding vocals, riffs flying in from all directions and solid, trustworthy songwriting. What, for me, sets Sucioperro aside somewhat are the odd touches of Proper Heavy Metal riffing and slightly surprising ‘straying from the path of generic indie rock’ passages.

Three 7″ singles next, all on the Gold Soundz label, which releases limited edition records by yer more experimental artists, each packaged in a pleasing Op Art ‘factory sleeve’. Volcano The Bear offer two chunks of tripped-out, abstract psych – with chanting, horns, scraping and drones combining into the most wonderful, head-melting, cloying music, sounding totally not of this time and space. Christina Carter, from Charalambides, has two guitar ‘pieces’ on her single, which are very much in a Charalambides vein – lovely, quiet, mournful, meandering guitar pieces, luckily falling far short of total introspective hippy nonsense! Vibracathedral Orchestra are heavy, heady drone-based hypnosis music; their tracks (recorded live!) remind me of Spacemen 3‘s An Evening Of Contemporary Sitar Music, but are more self-assured, textural and mind-altering. Excellent stuff from what looks to be a very cool label.

The new Sonic Youth album Sonic Nurse is fantastic. Hate to say exactly what I keep reading about this album elsewhere, but it’s a real return to form. I’d become somewhat disillusioned with SY over the course of their previous couple of albums; they seemed to have fallen into a meandering rut of lovely, yet aimless, wandering guitar pieces, too devoid of emotional charge or musical texture. On Sonic Nurse the opener ‘Pattern Recognition’ sets the tone for the entirety of the two record set – building from clean, simple riffs through strained Kim Gordon vocals over increasing tension into a noise breakdown from the SY old school. It’s as if they have realised it’s not a problem to use some of what made their earlier albums great – indeed, across Sonic Nurse there seem to be a few nods to particular guitar sounds and licks of the past – and this seems to have unlocked a familiarity (and paradoxically a freshness) which reminds me of why I love this band. Once again: Sonic Nurse is fantastic. It’s rich in sound, emotional charge and scope – the playing is flawlessly inventive, the songwriting complex yet immediate – and it makes me want to tape it to listen to on a Walkman for literally months, like I did with Daydream Nation.

I was never too aware of the work of Bark Psychosis when they were originally active (around the late 80s/early 90s) – except for a track on an old flexi which I can’t particularly remember – but I thought I’d give their new album Codename: Dustsucker (on Fire Records) a shot after continually reading about how exciting it is to have them back. And yes, this is a good album. Whether it’s a fall from grace or a return to form however, I’ll have to get back to you about once I’ve investigated their earlier work. On the whole this record is hazy, languorous, low-key and low-pace music, made up of all kinds of instruments (muted trumpet, keyboards, guitar, drums, electronics) but never losing the feeling of sadness and longing which it creates. It feels warm, rich and deep, and my initial reactions – it’s a bit trip-hop, a bit ‘slick’ – fell away as repeated listens produced new, more considered ones. It’s very, very well produced and put together, the album takes you me a variety of moods and reference points – the later albums of Hood, Unkle’s ‘Rabbit in your headlights’-style output, Movietone, even some early 90s underground indie pop when things go a bit singer-songwriter-y… For me what ties this record together is the darkness bubbling underneath – it never feels far from collapse and it never feels far from loss. And you have to love that!

Finally a quick mention to a couple of other singles which have recently been a-spinnin’ on my turntable…

The Hood/Themselves 7″ on Rocket Racer is a picture disc – I’ve never quite got picture discs, as the expense/effort put into the picture often seems to replace that put into the sleeve. It’s all peachy having a see-through sleeve so you can see the disc within, but that’s a single ‘hit’; I prefer the intrigue and repeated pleasures to be found in the classic sleeve/record/insert combo. Anyway. Hood’s side is wonderfully dense and rich chunk of slow melancholy, they seem to be perfecting their individual type of sound; unique vocals over natural-sounding electronics and loose-sounding instruments. Themselves (who are something Anticon-related) are the hip hop Hood. A shite description I realise, but it’s true. Or maybe Hood are the indie guitar cLOUDDEAD? Or something.

Stereolab‘s tour 7″ on Duophonic could be described as ‘classic Stereolab’ in a negative sense – in that all of their elements (cool keyboard sounds, repetitive melodies, sing-song vocals) are there, but they don’t seem to do anything with them which they haven’t done before. There is a cheeky time change in ‘Rose, My Rocket-Brain!’ which opens it up into a more 70s-children-TV-theme arena, which is fun and slick and all, but they don’t seem to have the magic they once had. Is that just me? Answers on a postcard.

With that, I am away to complain some more to whoever is listening about feeling ill. Between the start and end of this column I seem to have contracted flu, or a cold, or plague, or something. I blame the weather.

Further Information
Autoclave Records
Gold Soundz
Sonic Youth
Bark Psychosis / Fire Records
Hood / Anticon

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.


Comments are closed.