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: Freedom From Excessive Noise #6

Posted: March 3rd, 2009, by Stuart Fowkes

(Originally posted April 2003)

Freedom From Excessive Noise by Stuart Fowkes

Hey kids. This month, I’ve been VERY, VERY EXCITED INDEED about my recent promotion in the diskant staff to diskant Talent Spotter, which now means that I have a duty to you, the diskant reader, to hand pick some great new bands and write words about them that say stuff like what they sound like and whether they’re any good and stuff. So to start you off, here are five lovely new bands you might want to go and seek out. Well, four bands and a record label from Italy, anyway. Happy listening.

4tRECk are random, beautifully random. A ‘”musette’-style cover version’ of ‘Slave Ship’ by the almighty Jesus Lizard (what is off of their album Liar). Only there are no mind-blistering David Yow screams and no squalling, urgent walls of guitar noise. Instead, we’re treated to a drum machine, a piano and 132 accordions battling it out in the all-in National Touch & Go Sea Shanty competition 2003. All told, it’s a right glorious knees-up around the old Joanna and a fascinating way of making something new rather than attempting a note-for-note retread with unbearable indie earnestness. Interesting also that it’s the lead track on the EP, with second track ‘Socasam’ sounding for all the world like a one-minute theme tune to a nightmarish children’s TV show, presumably featuring monsterdragons knitted from the remains of kids who didn’t go to bed when they were told to. ‘Frankensinatra’ does exactly what it says on the tin, a ghostly proto-hip hop beat backing snippets of Ol’ Blue Eyes dipping in and out of the mix hypnotically – and all, apparently, deriving from an initial accident. And closing track ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is 35 seconds of Rocky meets Alice in Acidland, stabs of instrumentation mutating into a drunken cover of ‘Eye of the Tiger’. There are some great ideas at work here, partially formed by chance and improvisation, but with the imagination to carry it through to completion. The main drawback is that without the backing of a solid structure to carry an idea through to completion (as they have when taking the Jesus Lizard as a template), the ideas remain half-formed, embryonic and frustratingly full of promise while not quite getting there. It’s crammed with imagination though, and that’s one of my favourite things, along with ice cream, Sundays and Turkish Delight.

Tempertwig are sick and tired of wasted summers, photos of people they don’t know or care about, and sick of, well, just about anything, now that you come to mention it. They’re possibly also sick of the predominantly-spoken word vocals on their two-track demo being compared rather unfavourably to Mark E. Smith (a bit slurry, mostly nonsense, although not Scottish or insane), so we’ll skim past that one for now. Perhaps in favour of concentrating on the well-structured and characterful songs on display here. ‘This Means Everything… This Don’t Mean A Thing’ desperately wants to be a plaintive anthem, but the Power of Rock simply won’t let it, with energetic drumming and raging guitars swelling up and plastering the rest of the song like an overenthusiastic but talented interior decorator. ‘Brat Pack Film Philosophy’ relies less on noise and more on an insistent four-note guitar line in the chorus to get its point across, but both songs are of a standard that lifts them well clear of most of the demos we get here at diskant towers.

And Nick Decay sounds a little bit like Wire in places, which means they’re onto a winner, even if the ‘understated’ placing of the vocals in the mix mean that it’s Wire trapped in a biscuit tin, in a box in the cupboard under the stairs, shouting to be let out. ‘Hey Tony’ has a vocal hook just about striking the right balance between catchy and annoying, while ‘City of God’ makes with the expansive, mellow instrumental in a pleasing-change-of-mood rather than a run-out-of-ideas-let’s-do-a-slow-one kinda way. It’s not rocket science by any means, but ‘Surfing with the Albanian’ in particular bombs along with, if not urgency, the kind of energy that suggest it really has somewhere it ought to be now and it’d better be on its way now, thank you very much.

Speaking of rocket science, the sampler from Illogik (an Italian ‘indie label that spreads leading avant-garde and electronic music’) makes it hard going, with a press release describing the music they release as ‘the most extreme/experimental trend of computer-made music’. Which, even if you think Squarepusher is a new type of forklift truck, it certainly isn’t. As well as using the dreaded phrases ‘IDM’ (that’s intelligent dance music, Lemon Jelly fans) and ‘illbient’ (one of the single most irritating and smug genre tags around, along with drill ‘n’ bass), there’s also talk of abstract, intestinal sounds and microsounds. Which, on the basis of the CD, presumably means they’ve found some handy tags for those little ‘BLIP’, ‘WOO’ and ‘WAZOOOM’ noises that permeate anything that cites Autechre as an influence. Truth be told, most of the acts on the compilation are making electronic music that thinks it’s so cutting edge it can turn you into a cyborg just by listening to it, but it ain’t. The opener by MKZeros is a fun way to kick off, even if it’s not doing anything Add N To (X) haven’t pulled off with consistently more style, but it’s entertaining and doesn’t take itself too seriously, unlike the pointless laptop skwerking of Pulsar’s ‘Complex Char’. And this after they’ve pulled off a coup with the compilation’s outstanding track, ‘TAS CDA Orb’ (or something -crazy guys…), combining melody, experimental electronica and noises that go ‘BLOOP’ in a more successful way than anything else here because it sparks with originality. It’s sometimes ironic that the potential of what comes under the broad umbrella of ‘electronica’ technically has the capability to push music forwards in so many ways, with new sounds, new structures and even new definitions of music itself, when all too often it ends up using the same technologyand the same preset drum ‘n’ synth sounds to produce the same pedestrian results as anyone else who got a Korg Triton for Christmas. I’m off to listen to Fugazi and have a lie down for a bit…

One dose of Red Medicine later, and we’re back with Glasgow’s Üter, who seems to be pretty much a one-man band, albeit in a fully kitted-out home studio way, rather than strapping a few drums and a harmonica on and going off busking (although I hear there’s money in that). And what we’ve got is an interesting little collection of drum machine-powered instrumentals driven along by insistent, warm basslines that bring to mind Fridge at their most outgoing. ‘Tomorrow’s Clowns’ gets away with some cheesy keyboard washes hidden away in the mix and builds up very nicely over its five minutes, while Third Eye Foundation ambience swells underneath the Glaswegian Krautrock of ‘Accordination’. ‘Tramapoline’ is inconsequential, but followed by a couple of interesting covers that, were Üter’s influences not quite obvious, might betray them – we get a regal ‘Ohm Sweet Ohm’ by Kraftwerk, and ‘My Little Underground’ being played by the Jesus and Mary Chain underwater with short-circuiting Casio keyboards. Üter has ‘no band and no record deal, but would like both’. Ands it’d be nice to see what he could come up with given both – some live drums, nice production and more flashing boxes than a Dixon’s Christmas sale would spice up this already-enticing dish a treat.

Stuart Fowkes

Stuart is possibly one of the tallest people you have ever seen. He towers above your puny skyscrapers like Rodan on steroids, his blonde spikes puncturing the atmosphe re like crazed, gelled knives. In real life he is part of the Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element pop outfit, and writes for other websites as well as this one - the cheeky blighter. He favours the noisier end of the musical spectrum, with a fervour which would seem to indicate a dodgy heavy metal past.


Comments are closed.