reviews august 2006

Blood on the Wall, Awesomer (Fat Cat) CD
The Village Voice got there first: Mudhoney covering Daydream Nation they said. A review, like the record, that's just about flawless in its communicative efficiency. Four words to convey the slacker-filtered-through-pop edginess. Four words to suggest the boy/girl treble/bass groove. Just four words to tell you how effortlessly cool it is without needing to justify the claim. Four words. Four more words: Pixies with perfect brevity.

Nacre, Hier et Demain (Burning Emptiness) CD3
Hier et Demain. Yesterday and Tomorrow. That's about right. The length of and space in these two improvised electronic/acoustic jazz compositions lures you in either reflective or anticipatory directions, foregoing the now for the then or the will-be. What was that? What's coming next? Machines, guitar and sax give each other plenty of room and evolve gentle interactions. Two tunes, 20 minutes. Headphones, an open mind and some past or future time required.

Objekt4, Floor 27 - Specimen Storage (Burning Emptiness) CD3
You know that bit at the beginning of Porridge, when Ronnie Barker, as the judge, reads out his verdict on Ronnie Barker, as Fletcher, while prison doors clang shut and the echoes of the cold metal collisions of latch on frame and the rattle of key in lock reverberate down long institutional corridors? Objekt4 would appreciate the sounds. Their Floor 27 probably isn't a prison but it must surely be part of a secret research project. A controversial project. A dark project. The vibe is sinister, chilling. Doors scrape and slam, glasses break and distant machines operate to their own seemingly random rhythm while audible tension fills the long gaps. You wait. And wait. And wait. This is the second in the BE singles series.

One Unique Signal, Tribe, Castle and Nation (Genepool) CD
Leaner than their phantasmagoric live show, this eight-song epic's a drone-heavy treat. Tunes go on forever (in the best sense) like a unified, evolving groove; sinuous guitar and wobbling mirage-effects give way to bursts of black, red and silver noise. All cavernously live-sounding, but totally unsloppy - from murky beginnings to two-chord headbanging and basslines like a tangle of rusty pipes.

With minimal, robotic vocals - but impassioned, a neat trick - it's less an exercise in stoner workouts and more a hitherto unsuspected kind of guitar techno. From the heart-attack anxiety of Diary to the blastoff of Coins + Cards (oh, and the jackhammer cyber-goth of Soldier's Prayerbook), it's an arresting slab of space-rock magic. (Greville Wizzard)

The Postcards, At Home With The Postcards (2nd version) CDR
Very unusual - a re-recording of the previous 12-song collection, snappier and harder, with a substituted tune and re-ordered tracklist. From an inferior band it'd seem pointless, but The Postcards are savvy enough to make it pay off. It loses some of the ramshackle, windblown home-madeness of the original but gains in electricity, tempos sharpened and distortion showing its teeth earlier; the playing's tighter and despite the tunes staying feather-light and impeccably jaunty, it's better-organised all round; a Serious Proposition.
Huge vocal harmonies, delicately stamping drums, extra-headlong renditions and sparkling new fuzztones and echoes. First class (sorry). (Greville Wizzard)

Blah Blah Blah CDR
Murderously-smiling punk funk, tight-wound and economical. The singing's so grainy you can smell wood-shavings, the lyrics are smart and the effect's witty, assured, explosive. Second song nails the appeal, though: stripped back to acoustic plunks, tiptoeing upright bass and cello (?) with an affecting vocal and choral backing, it's an unholy collision of balladry, skiffle and scabrousness - until you hear it, you won't even know you needed that combination.. But you will.

Difficult to express how odd but damnably catchy it is, the most basic elements twisted into something fresh, and faultless delivery. Third song's an excoriating rock attack with a nimble bossa nova interlude, but it's the bare bones stuff that resonates, especially live. (Greville Wizzard)

Special Benny, Rumblestrip ( CD

A lovely EP of analogue bubblebath, Teletubbies epiphany and exciting quick bits with stabby guitar. Music-box melodies and multi-stranded instrumentation, alternately light as an eyelash and heavy as rolling boulders, weave a smart/naïve panorama that's sweet but not sugary, laidback but attention-grabbing. Bits of it are like the sound of a spinning green planet (really); other sections - movements? - feature chopping explosions of guitar and sinister synth blurps, sizzled in flange and echo. It's a superb illusion of complexity; the structures are simple but worked on, nuanced. The band lopes and canters and the keyboards intertwine, the spectral vocals set up a meditative, low-key, folk-like chant; if it's possible to be charmed and stunned at the same time, this is the soundtrack. Total immersion music. (Greville Wizzard)

NosferatuD2, demo #4 CDR

Starts with an unsettling detuned slam, stumbling drums and massive pauses; it’s Colonel Parker, who “doesn’t want to know – says I’m more like Shakin Stevens”. The aching restraint gives way to speed and staccato thrash like a deadly punchline, but for all its clipped aggression there’s a submerged pop sensibility here – it’s all in the timing (and adroit vocals). A Footnote, in sharpened new recording, is full-tilt throat-clutching guitar and a torrent of imagery – the gear-change between dense verse and expansive chorus is spookily effortless. Equally atmospheric is, cough, We’ll Play The Power of Love By Frankie Goes to Hollywood 1000 Times Tonight. It’s a more meditative, downbeat song, verging on ambient guitar – a low murmur and flickering drums, plus slow-decaying, overdriven bass runs that disintegrate into a hive-buzz of feedback; it’s a brilliantly matter-of-fact conjuration of something memorable, even moving, out of almost thin air. (Greville Wizzard)

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