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2010 catch-up: Bands

Posted: January 6th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

One of the unexpected pleasures of San Diego, California — as well as one of the most eclectic and creative musical acts I’ve ever seen — is the “old-time robots meet the harmonies of Freddie Mercury” pantomime performance group, “Steam Powered Giraffe.” Now I know what you might be saying.  “Wil, I’ve seen a lot of ‘old-time robots meet the harmonies of Freddie Mercury’ pantomime groups… are you sure this is one of the best?”  Indeed I am.  First off, their pantomime is flawless — their herky-jerky motions truly mimic the actions of an animatronic theme park doll.  On top of that, their music is both fabulously rendered (and quite catchy) and hilarious! I’ve caught them live several times and they never fail to impress. For readers who may live some distance away from San Diego, and have trouble catching the Giraffe live (I presume this to be about 98% of Diskant’s audience), you can get a gist at http://www.steampoweredgiraffe.com. (Wil Forbis)

Oh deary me… After having given my internet music purchasing ethics a good check, I’ve spent a lot of money on Mr Merzbow this year. Thus far he is is most stunning in the long motif-spotted jams like 1930 or Turban Shell Blues, but I’ve been taken to similarly ecstatic places with albums like the pulsing Tauromachine and swirling rain-drenched Merzdub. He never really stops. To me, his colossal discography is encouraging in that I know he’s uncollectable; to some extent I have to make my own Merzbow. Paul Hegarty’s book Noise/Music: A History has a fantastic chapter devoted entirely to Merzbow which I keep coming back to as I scrape a little more into his copious back catalogue. (Pascal Ansell)

The Besnard Lakes were my late discovery of the year – totally fantastic band. Like the Arcade Fire I can actually connect properly with. Loads of lush detail and warmth in the arrangements, and their last two records are like a fantastic art-rock Beach Boys or something. (Stu Fowkes)

Within the first few months of the year I had already seen Billy Childish four times in various capacities as the ICA put on an exhibition by him. The first event I attended was a book burning at his L-13 Aquarium gallery after Penguin had issued a cease and desist order against a publishing of a book of his poems. Later I attended an evening of his Chatham Super-8 movie club before the season ended with a gig with his Vermin Poets band followed by a set by his Musicians Of The British Empire outfit (basically him, his wife on bass and Wolf from the Buff Medways on drums) as they tore through much of his back catalogue all culminating with his cover of “Fire” by Hendrix. This gig was the just perfect evening as such a stripped down sound offered so much in return revealing him to be a much underrated musician as the whole ICA event in general helped solidify what an original treasure the man is. (JGRAM)

Flying Lotus
Awesomeness x 2 this year: Cosmogramma triumphs in a hyper-genre mush, and the following ultra synthy EP Pattern + Grid World doesn’t do too badly either. Have a listen to Camera Day off the latter EP. (Pascal Ansell)

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


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