reviews june 2007
Lardpony, Horowitz, The Parallelograms @ The Glebe, Stoke-on-Trent
Next on were Horowitz, the local boys-made-good. Currently they’re without a drummer it seems and resort to a drum machine, this hardly matters when guitars are wielded so deftly in pursuit of the most jangle-some of pop ideals. Lovely tunes and super songs, they can push things along with plenty of energy to get the audience dancing but might really be at their best when they ease back and let their cartoon creations unfold in leisurely manner. To be honest though, I think they enjoy a bit of a rock-out really – and nobody’s complaining about that tonight.
Finally we get Lardpony, who display an impressive range of material and appear determined to cram as much creativity as they can into their set. At one point and seemingly completely off the cuff they decide to do one song with two basses which leads to a bit of scrabbling about for the required extra instrument, their set lurches about a bit as they show us all the things that they can do. Maybe they over complicate things a bit? They’re undeniably talented and have lots of good tunes at their disposal but one feels that they’ve not quite settled into themselves yet, that they’re still developing. I bet their shows vary a lot and are wonderfully unpredictable. I make a mental note to catch them again sometime.
Tonight even the DJ is good, it turns out that he’s Rocker from The Flatmates and The Rosehips who the more senior readers may remember from the 80’s. Nowadays it seems he’s running an enterprise called Dandelion Radio whose main purpose is to keep alive the flame that was nurtured for so long by the late John Peel. Check out the website on www.dandelionradio.com when you get the chance. (Laurence)
Ian Beef, Pleased to Meat You (Hairy Parents) CD
The lyrics are inspired cascades of verse and curses with sense of humour high up in the mix and tongues firmly bedded in cheeks. Unapologetically West Country, obsessed with meat and shagging and bigging up the Beef and, crucially, getting the beats right and making real, proper hip hop, they spiral off in mad directions:
Check out the website at www.hairyparents.com for a crazy mixing game and MP3 downloads of pretty much everything on the label since its inception in 1999.
Fulborn Teversham, Count Herbert II (Pickled Egg) CD
The Diamond Family Archive/The Great Park, Split (Woodland Recordings) 2xCD
The ZX Spectrum Orchestra, Basic Programming (Warm Circuit) CD
The Spectrum family of computers had miniscule amounts of memory – 16k or 48k in the early models – and a primitive sound chip that only allowed single sound at a time. Wham! The Music Box (yes, it was music software tied-in to that Wham) used clever software interrupt techniques to coax two channels out of it and the later 128k models introduced more memory and fancier sound capabilities with 3 channels and some MIDI.
The ZX Spectrum Orchestra spend hours programming, conjuring melodies, beats and assorted other noises out of both kinds of Spectrums and layering them up across multiple computers to create simple-complex tunes. Dollar Power adds a Currah Microspeech synthesizer to the mix. Reading words off the keyboard (Spectrums had short-cuts for entering BASIC commands easier programming) to make lyrics. It’s the sad sound of machine yearning in pre-txtmsg “Out In Space I 1 2 B A Bright *” and “I 1 2 B =” as glitchy 8-bit beats crunch and scrape, bass notes stab and the noise of your character dying (again) at the end of level 8 cascades.
In D.I.S.C.O the Currah is again on vocal duties, this time intoning the title over a datastream burble that manages to be somehow euphoric and uplifting while more than passable syndrum hits attempt to give genre authenticity. It doesn’t work. D.I.S.C.O sounds thrillingly like something made by overclocked machines with ideas above their station that’d only ever heard disco through a very long and thin tube and certainly never seen John Travolta at work.
Chiptunes often sound like computer games. The ZX Spectrum Orchestra doesn’t. It sounds like music. Music made with soul using machines with none.
Slipstream, A.E.I.O.U. (Enraptured) CDS
home : reviews : interviews : live : features : shop : search: contact