reviews june 2007

Lardpony, Horowitz, The Parallelograms @ The Glebe, Stoke-on-Trent
A small show that brought big pleasure to all that turned up. First on were The Parallelograms, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band who smile so much when they’re on-stage. Their enjoyment transmits through their music to the crowd, infectious smiles all round in fact. Their sound is straight ahead C-86 revivalism and none the poorer for being such a thing, they’re enormous fun. Simplicity, cuteness, pop tunes, fun and laughter and a wide range of hairstyles – they’re rather scrumptious actually.

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 when you get the chance. (Laurence)

Ian Beef, Pleased to Meat You (Hairy Parents) CD
Suckaz Get Braized, Overlord Ox, Go See the Butcher, Spitroast. Ian Beef is a West Country farmer with meat on his mind and a carnivore crew – DJ Beard of Meats, The Meat Family, Kevin Bacon, Alan Lamb and erm, Deed and Majesta – to rhyme over his barnyard beats. Beats that run at the speed of a tractor stuck in the mud on the dubby Overlord Ox, brood like a hen house full of paranoid chickens on Oxy-Moron and seem to played by a milk bottle orchestra on Ian Beef at Your Service.

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:

Suckaz get braized like a side of beef/ Stupid braized like a side of beef/ Suckaz get braized like a side of beef/ Y’know, braized, like you would some beef.

If you’ve got the cheek to/ try to defeat my meat stock/ you get chopped like steel cleavers on wood blocks/ precautionary measures in force of course/ I’ve gotta watch out for my crotch/ ‘cos I’m hung like an ox/ don’t want it lopped off in the slip of a chop.

I got Beef for you/ grief for you/ they’ll grieve for you/ I’ll get a sheath knife and run you fuckin through/ in a plastic suit from hat to shoe/ don’t want blood on my Prada when I slash your crew.

Check out the website at 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
Fulborn Teversham. Sounds like a particularly crusty member of the upper crust, or perhaps a couple of villages in Cambridgeshire. Fulborn Teversham. Sounds like Codeine playing tunes for Derek Griffiths to act out in front of the square, round and arched windows on the title cut. Now Derek’s a priest, serious, solemn, presiding over the Eucharist. Now he’s digging up the road with a saxophone for a drill and a dirty diesel powerplant for fuzz backing. Now it’s a child’s birthday party and Derek’s the centre of attention, it’s his party and he might win Pass the Parcel. Now the priest. Now the road. Now the priest. Now the party. Now the road. Fulborn Teversham. Sounds like a splodgily ,fizzing, messy glorious take on Jazz.

The Diamond Family Archive/The Great Park, Split (Woodland Recordings) 2xCD
The first release from this new label is a split release on two CDs, limited to 300 handmade copies and, with Willy Wonka brilliance, with the chance to find a golden ticket entitling you to free Woodland wonders for life. Even without the chance to see the Oompah Loompahs, it’s a really rewarding set. The pick of the Diamond Family Archive’s side is Spade – musically a quietly Dylanly picked guitar and harmonica melcancholy and lyrically a worrying love song. The Great Park peak with Not Yet Gone, in which a half-Stipe and the merest tickle of a guitar and violin generate deep, deep pathos.

The ZX Spectrum Orchestra, Basic Programming (Warm Circuit) CD
We called our first compilation CD, back in the day with Robots #10, 16k 48k 128k Go! in honour of the achievements of Clive Sinclair. He pretty much made it possible for every home to have a computer, god-fathering a generation of computer-literate kids and a computer games industry by making affordable and populist machines that, crucially, were accessible and, in the case of the ZX Spectrum, powerful and featured enough to play decent games on. They used the telly as a monitor and programs were saved onto audio tape using standard domestic cassette recorders.

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
Ex-Spaceman 3 and Spiritualised making trance-disco for that sunrise moment. Breakdowns and build-ups and vocoder vocals are all in place, but this lifts itself well above the norm by slinging wild guitar into the mix and cramming an epic into just four minuntes.

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