reviews december 2003

Midwich/Moon, Animal Music For Vegetable People (Burning Emptiness) CDR

“This whole process is about a failed attempt to stay human whilst keeping up with the speed of life.” Uhuh. “We’re all monsters looking for a place to die.” Aha. Midwich first and then Moon, in quote as on the disc. Quite what they mean by these things or by the title or indeed the subtitle or maybe even subgroup, The Starfish Experience, is not immediately apparent.  What is immediately apparent is the heart in their electronic music.

On This Whole Process, Midwich tears a strip out of his groovebox, massaging minimally-flexed accordion to maximum effect above the beats of a long overnight train journey heard through the pillow of a sleeper carriage bunk bed vibrating in sympathy with the undulations in the track. Consciousness fades half an hour after the head was laid down.

 And Moon shine. Three tracks of loping, looping space rock and “stolen samples” that could be the sound of the deep dark recesses at the bottom of the ocean inhabited by slivers of jelly masquerading as fish and slivers of sound interacting as music (Nemo.) Or could be the sound inside your head as dander rises and anger subsumes all in a noisy barrage pierced by a grain of melody, a grain of common sense, a grain of decency amid the rage. (The Human Monster.)

Moon and Midwich. Electronic. Emotion. Midwich: Moon:

Viva Stereo, Resistance EP (Much Better) CDS

Did someone say Happy Mondays? Actually somebody did. But I would’ve said it first, if it didn’t take me something like six months to get to the records that arrive on any given day. It’s entirely possible that there are discs in the boxes (I use fruit boxes because 6 rows of CDs pack in them nicely and stack conveniently, fact fans) waiting for a listen that were at the arse end of a scene that’ll be enjoying a press-manipulated renaissance by the time I get round to them. Which is something of an apology to Viva Stereo and all the other bands still waiting for reviews.

Robokid, The Robokid EP (Archeology) 12”

Space being at a premium on the Bush, 1945 CD free with Robots and Electronic Brains #12 ( Robokid crams what would normally be an album’s worth of electrobeats and jacksamples into three minutes. The compressed, abbreviated (early) house music has an urgency and intent that the unconstrained variety usually lacks, and for a quick fix it’s ideal. But what it can’t provide is the lengthy hypnotic groove build up, the slow peak and the breakdown and the rebuild. Which is where the debut release on his own Archeology label comes in. Pick of the three tunes inspired by minimal Detroit techno is Stretch Your Mind which loiters at the electro/house interface, reminding us of the clubs where we spent those 80s nights. It’s a one-finger riff, tinny percussive beats and weedy artificial strings. Old school, very old school, Archeology even.

Various, Promenade Food Compilation #1 (Promenade) 7”

“I hope you’ll like this record” says Fredrik Kullman, the chap who runs Promenade. It’d be a cold-hearted fellow who didn’t. Or one without a record player. Loosely themed on food (except for the bands Fredrik likes so much he lets them in regardless) for reasons unexplained, this is the first of a series of three and  unless you’re Swedish, or an indie afficianado, Fuck are the band you’ll have heard about before. Theirs is the fastest food on offer, and barely more than a beatbox on a short loop. Your appetite will not be sated. Fortunately, there’s a filling meal to be had elsewhere.

Dennis Driscoll drops a few amateur rhymes over amateur human beatboxing on Tea Time. Actually, that’s not fair. The delivery is amateur but the rhymes aren’t and the subject matter (tea time, duh!) and the short length mean it never grates. Uzi Street’s e.m.m.y. (“this song is a great song to listen to when you’re doing your dishes”) would like to be Sparks when it grows up and Hello Ladies (“great for resting after your dinner”) are sad-country slow. Pueblo makes me think of Sparklehorse on a budget, Hormones in Abundance sound like Brian Molko backed by a Sarah band and Onionchopping King by Car and Dog Dialogue pack a mini spaghetti sprawl epic into their couple of minutes. And I’ll have ice cream for dessert, please.

The Earlies, The First Sound of The Earlies (For Us) 7”

The last single was laden with radiant softly, softly beauty. The inside of a womb, a quiet kiss, an inebriated solitude and the subtle vibes of the High Llamas, I likened it to all of these things. And I liked it for all of those things. And the new single? Well the new single is laden with radiant softly, softly beauty. Morning Wonder is daybreak over a stage in the desert. California. Comedown. You’ve been dancing all night, anticipating this moment. The technicolour moment. In the darkness, you willed the music to speed the dawn. And it did. As the first blades of light crept over the horizon, you willed the music to build. And it did. As the browns bled into reds bled into oranges bled into yellows bled into brilliant white you willed the voices into existence and you willed the sounds that were in your head to merge with them. And it did. And you willed it to last for ever. And it didn’t. But you can’t have everything.

Ninjas, untitled 12”

Kevin ( sent an email hot on the heels of the anonymous disc (white label, white sleeve, large fold-out poster with the word NINJAS silk-screened over what looks like a dolphin sonar diagram.) “Eric, who is the Ninjas, recorded that record with the help of a great friend Assman on bass. It’s an untitled record full of non-stop hits.” A  question comes to mind. Two questions. Many things come to mind, but mainly these three: (1) You’d have to be a great friend to let someone call you Assman; (2) However strong their friendship, it was beyond the call of duty for Assman to not only play the bass but also use the hole in his backside as the sole means of recording the record; (3) A record full of non-stop hits?

It starts with a squall of feedback and then launches into two sides of that murky, bootleg-quality, simultaneously too-trebly and  too-bassy, you-had-to-be-there, rehearsal room cloud of sound. Until the end of side one, when God Hates You cleans up its act (in all but the theological sense.) Normal service is resumed at the top of the underside when Something’s Gone Wrong trashes, crashes and brashes its way through a couple of minutes of  wobbly bassline and Buzzcocks soloing drenched in fuzz. I play it again. And again. And again. Then I put the other side back on. At this point it all makes sense. Assman is a great friend. His ass is the greatest microphone. This sound is the true fidelity. I am there and it is too trebly and too bassy at the same time. There is now; then is now; the recording is what was played, as it was played, by Eric and Assman, for you, with all its faults. Kevin was right, this is a record of non-stop hits. In their heads, and now yours.

: reviews : interviews : live : features : shop : search: contact