reviews february 2005

Artridge, Finished Soundtracks For Unshot Films CDR
The blah blah blah of the press release ends with the splendidly redundant phrase "perhaps giving new meaning to the term contemporary industrial chamber music." Now don't get me wrong, I've written one or two ahem odd things myself and I've been slated for it. I saw some postings on the web recently saying that I'd said a band sounded like Radiohead caught in the school music room with their pants down and asking what the fuck I was talking about. This far removed from the fact, I've got to wonder myself. I'm pretty sure the now blindingly obvious and rather unsavoury interpretation wasn't the one I was after. But back to the point - just what are Artridge trying to say?

So let's forget that I've never been exposed to the old meaning of the term contemporary industrial chamber music; if I had to guess what the new meaning was before listening to the record, I'd go for something at that dark Goth/techno interface with arty and classical pretensions. And I'd be wrong/wrong with wrong and wrong. What Artridge have got is mostly mellow machine mood music. It's the sound computers make inside, for themselves, overnight during backup runs, when the processor has the free time to listen to its surroundings and reflect them back. It's the gentle pulsing of electron flow, encoded information and fragments of external interactions. It's the whirr of drives and sometimes the crunching collision of heads crashing onto a disk. It's long and drowsy and drawn-out because time means nothing to a solid state device, even though its clock is always ticking.

So I still don't know what Artridge are trying to say, but I'd say they've no need to try saying it. The music is doing it for me on its own. www.artridge.org

Wiqwar, Me Release 3" CDR
It's Rapper's Delight stretched and twisted and minced and caressed. Well, it's the bass from Rapper's Delight stretched and twisted and minced and caressed. And that's it bar the odd breakdown. It's like a fractal. However far you zoom in, however closely you focus, whatever the magnification, this bass line is still a perfectly formed, recognisable, classic. wiqwar@hotmail.com

Disco Students, Gay Lorry Drivers EP/ Live In New York (Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!) CDS/CD
The Disco Students didn't make a record between 1981 and 2004. As the arse end of the 70s turned into the 80s, they were apparently played by Peel and in the NME indie charts. I missed it. If anything they released then was half as good as Morrisey Stole All My Ideas ("Look at him the little shit/ with his receding quiff/ Hit him, put him in a sack/ Throw him over a cliff") set to a cardigan-swooshing jangle then I missed out. Make sure you don't. It's nothing new. In fact it's something old. But it's made with wit by people who're doing it because they want to. You can't get better than that. www.discostudents.com

John Wayne Shot Me, The Purple Hearted Youth Club (62TV) CD
You know how slurps of music seem to spill out of some people like tea over the edge of a too-full cup held by your gran's unsteady hand as she carries it across to you? Guided By Voices had it. Urusei Yatsura had it. Servotron had it. And John Wayne Shot Me have it. Their second album is 18 slurps of music. 18 splashes of tune across the heavily-patterned carpet. 18 snatches of pop seeming to exist only for the couple of seconds that they fall to the floor and then disappear. No two sloshes are shaped the same. No two fall the same way. No two land in the same place. It's random and beautiful and natural and ramshackle and unselfconscious and creative and over before you've had chance to fall out of love with it. Records like this are why I still open the post in the morning. www.johnwayneshotme.nl

Roland J Bowman, Rollin CDR
Eleven original Country and Rock & Roll Songs, it says on the front. A right hodge-podge of an album it says here. It kicks off like an amateur country enthusiast playing along to the C&W preset on his Yamaha beatbox. A fringed jacket and his own PA set up in the corner of the club, a crowd of regulars who'll listen to whatever the secretary has booked that weekend and a set of covers punctuated with long-dead one-liners and the occasional "and here's one of my own songs." I can see him now. Weekend Country Cowboy opens the album. It's almost a confession.

She Did The Crime follows and despite everything I've just said, I like it in a completely non-ironic way. Still country by numbers, but it's got a bit pace and there's something jaunty in Roland's delivery even if the chorus is straight out of Choruses 101 - "She did the crime/ and I did the time." And then things get weird. And I don't like it at all, in an ironic or non-ironic way. Experimentation is the lifeblood of music, so let's congratulate the man for trying, but things slide rapidly downhill from track 3 onwards. It's like Roland ran out of country steam, bought a couple of effects pedals and a box of 80s pop records from a yard sale. Eeuch. So listen to this for She Did The Crime and then stop. www.rolandbowman.com

Zombina and The Skeletones, I Was a Human Bomb for the FBI CDR
Stick your head down a hole in the ground and have someone beat your arse with a spade. Then reverse and repeat. Alternatively listen to Zombina and The Skeletones' first single and wonder how this kind of gleeful punkabilly can still make you feel this way even after all this time. www.zombina.com

Biggup & Elijah, United We Stand (B&E) CDS
Let's face it, they could have made a crock of monumental shitness out of this - any rappers that try to put over a positive message rather than verbally stroke their own cocks while waiting for the laydeez in bikinis to show up at the video shoot are already going at things the hard way round. Making the message so obvious - that title, them being a black Muslim and a white Jew - doesn't help. But keeping the beats sweet and simple and the flows strong is the secret and, even taking the spoken word break into account, Biggup and Elijah can stand both together and tall. www.bandeinc.com

Napoleon III CDR
Formerly part of Little Japanese Toy, Napoleon is now doing his own thing. And quite a thing it is too. Guys In Bands is the better of this pair. It's something from the 70s - falsetto chorus singing and ancient synthesizer - laid under a sheet of that white stuff gardeners use to insulate their tropical plants through the British winter. Think Neutral Milk Hotel on a shady day. toyhq@yahoo.co.uk


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