reviews march 2005

Miss Pain, EBFH (Tblissi) CDR
Miss Pain have 30 nails varnished bright red between them. Miss Pain are two girls and one boy. Miss Pain tell dirty stories and play synthesizers out of the ark with more than a nod back to the grimy end of the 80s and a touch of the Cardiacs theatricality. Miss Pain gasp and writhe while delivering the words "nylon" and "friction" in so lecherous a way that you know they're not thinking about sticking balloons to the wall. Miss Pain will tell you that Campari and Sex is their favourite drink. I'd be very careful if I ever met Miss Pain.

The Cathode Ray Syndrome*, Use Forgotten Tools CDR
Well I'd be lying if I said this was ground-breaking. But then the band seem to be hinting that there's some kind of backstory here. Use forgotten tools, they tell us. Use the basic, honest-to-goodness rock set-up, I'm thinking. Make something fresh, they suggest implicitly. Make something enthralling, at least, I'm saying. And they do. You could easily dismiss this as just post-rock, which is why it isn't ground-breaking, but you'd be missing a trick if you did. The Cathode Ray Syndrome* are, like their goggle-box namesake, at their best an immersive experience. Let yourself go, fall into the stop-start-go-again-change-again riffing and find yourself wandering. Wondering how they can fit everything you ever needed to know about hardcore into a half-minute slapped into the middle of something that was itself the condensed essence of Pink Floyd's best post-Barrett moments and somehow still carries the beat and the mood and the rhythm and the immersion.

Obadia, Where Does Dust Come From EP (Autres Directions in Music) D/L
Easy. It's bits of shed skin. Where does this music come from? is the harder one. It's like Stephane started out to make something on a glitch tip, but being a perfectionist, he couldn't get the glitches he wanted. So he put proper beats back in. Then that wasn't right either, so he cut all the beats in half. And that sounded good. So he précised all his samples and made a super-abbreviated breakbeat jam all of his own. Whips of scratch, snatches of vocal, grabs of guitar all mix in and out before you notice they were there and the spasmo beat punctuates itself with bass burps and bulbs. Somehow, listening to this gem of a record, you feel like you should be body-popping. Then you realise that you are and you look like a fool. Download the EP from:

By Coastal Café, Old Cartoons (Earsugar) CD
I know we already reviewed the LP version of this on Kitchen records, but Earsugar's CD is such a beautiful object that it deserves a mention of its own. Packaged like a small hardback book and crammed full of Marilyn's pencil/biro work and found art it's special in its own right, but looking at the pictures while the music plays reminds us of what By Coastal Café were. (That is, brilliant.)

The Mystic Umbrellas, Langton Freeman's Summer-house Tomb (Waterden) CD
Recorded 25 years ago and never released by - gloriously - Deleted Records, this diamond was dug up, polished and recut by Mark Lancaster for his Waterden label. The Umbrellas are/were Lancaster and Mark Valentine, Lancaster creating the dub backdrops from a soothing bass, field recordings and atmosphere, Valentine's reed organ weaving into them a story, memories of Langton Freeman. (According to the sleeve notes, Reverend Langton Freeman was an 18th century eccentric who requested that instead of being buried he should be laid to rest in his death bed inside his summer house which should then be surrounded with evergreen plants and a fence painted dark blue.) If the Orb were squatting in a dilapidated stately home, with a run-down summer house, they and asked Augustus Pablo round for a smoke, they might dream up something like this record. 33 Bottesford Ave, Scunthorpe, N Lincs, DN16 3EN.

Magoo, Pop Songs (May Go Zero) CD
Magoo have been Magoing for even longer than those Christmas games of Monopoly with Mum, Dad, your little sister and your deaf old granny. Sadly for them, Magoo have still never passed Mago and still never collected their £200. Their spiritual forefathers - try Guided By Voices and The Beatnik Filmstars for starters - were stuck in the same jail: songs by the barrowful, releases by the sackful, labels by the bagful, renown and respect by the armful, records bought by the faithful. And it's a crying shame. When half-baked twigs with a haircut and this year's cheekbones strap on guitars and trundle out some hackneyed old crap the cash rolls in. Pop Songs, this record is called. In any world that cared, in any world that didn't place cheekbones above songs, in any world where music was more than a commodity to be manipulated like so many hotels on Mayfair, Magoo wouldn't need that irony. But this isn't that world, and there's rent to be paid. Buy this and help them out.

Amanonn vs Tin.RP, Intelligence is Female (Burning Emptiness) CD
Amanonn like blocky electro, square waves and grit and dirty filters. Amanonn like harsh breakbeats and the sound of heavy things being scraped across metal floors. Amanonn like Charles Aznavour and techno under sedation. Amanonn like New Order being deconstructed by someone with a squelch fixation. Amanonn like naming their records after women. Amanonn are hard to pin down, and French, and they don't reply to emails. Amanonn have every other track on this record. Tin.RP have the other half. They're also French and likewise hard to pin down - but they do reply to emails. Tin.RP like noise, but not for its own sake. Tin.RP like to weave a beat into their investigations of ultra-magnified silence, of microsounds only audible at intense levels of enhancement. Tin.RP like the way that you can use a computer as a microscope, laboratory and recording studio simultaneously.

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