reviews january 2002

Motormark, Our Lips Are Sealed (Dark Mink) CDS

File next to Motorhead – in your alphabetic record collection. File next to a favourite post-Human League electro duo – in your complicated genre-based system. Motormark rework the Go-Go's classic with an epileptic drum machine, calculator overload bleeps and a lovely Hammond organ whirl. (Side note: Hammond organs are criminally underused. See early Pop Will Eat Itself records for exquisite Hammond and drunk rock combinations.) This revision is then further revised by Paul-Leonard Morgan (The Magic Eight, Snow Patrol and other Jockrock bodies) who flips the whole thing upside down with a big bass and large piano.

Winterbrief, Take The Town (Intellectos) CD/ Unwrapped (Promenade) 7"

File next to Wire – in your alphabetic record collection and Winterbrief's dreams. Their immediate, most well-known, predecessors, and the millstone around their neck, is Bis. But it's a fair, if probably unwanted, starting point. Both bands are boy/girl, both are beatbox, synth and guitar, both favour a kinetic candy-store techno beat, both favour nursery rhyme melodies at high speed and both bands shout "1, 2, 3, GO!" The similarity ends when you realise that Winterbrief are agit while Bis are just gits. Gang of Four, Magazine, Shellac, Human League and, erm, Captain Beefheart power the Winterbrief engine. The last is a bit of a surprise, but the Unwrapped 7" contains a loopy cover of The Past Sure Is Tense. It doesn't bear an enormous resemblance to the original but the track's sure intense. and for the 7" c/o Fredrik kKullman, Durgrand 1, S-386-31 Farjestaden, Sweden

The Psychotic Reaction, They Live (Seasalter Sounds) CD

The Count Five were garage Yardbirds recyclers, eulogised over at great and crazy length by Lester Bangs in his essential, posthumous, collection, Psychotic Reactions and Carburettor Dung. Their hit was Psychotic Reaction and Bangs couldn't stick his snout far enough up it. "The song was a schlockhouse grinder, completely fatuous. It started out with this fuzz guitar riff they stole off a Johnny Rivers hit.. then went into one of the stupidest vocals of all time. It went, let me see, some jive like: "I feel depressed, I feel so bad/ Cause you're the best girl that I've ever had/ I can't get yer love, I can't get affection/ Aouw, little girl's psychotic reaction../ An' it feels like this!" and then they'd shoot off into an exact I'm A Man ripoff. It was absolute dynamite."

It would be fair to say that They Live doesn't come close to generating that degree of evangelical zeal in me. Hopes are high as Buried Alive lurches into its opening seconds, a slop-bucket of a song engineered by a man with a hatred of the band and played by a band with a hatred of the song. It kicks like a mule and it bites like a crocodile, The Count Five would approve. But then the disc's subtitle, Home Recordings, 1996-99, rears its head and everything up to The Stupid Cunt Song is the sound of a band trying things out, testing their pedals, seeing who can sing, finding how to write songs and wondering why they aren't as famous as the famous fuckers writing exactly the same songs. In their heads, at least. Probably. The Stupid Cunt Song – that's funny, when I write cunt, it comes out cunt, not c__t. Rock'n'roll! The Stupid Cunt Song is nonsense kazoo ballocking Bonzo bollocks, but it's got personality and that's what The Psychotic Reaction are lacking just now. So let's have some more of it next time, please.

Mrs Cakehead, The Stuff + (Fiend) CD

It takes a special kind of genius to dub Louie Louie right down into a tribute to pickled eggs and homebrew as heard through a haze of echo-chamber vibration. Mrs Cakehead is that genius and this CD is indeed the stuff plus. Double plus, I'd say. Double plus with extra knobs on. Blethered For Nowt kicks the slowest, wonkiest, least-jungle drum'n'bass beat in history while Mrs C weaves a drunken rap about homebrew, cricket and her favourite bread. It is wonkin' genius from somewhere far distant in the future of the music. I know this because 21st Century tells us that it was "beamed back from the 21st century to nineteen-ninety-whatever it is." It pisses all over the charts with a stream of golden electro sludge. Bizarrely – as if it wasn't bizarre enough already – Mrs C comes on like a gruffer, more manly, harder Frank Sidebottom, which suggests either that the testosterone injections were successful, or Mrs Cakehead is no lady. It doesn't matter, just as long as she knows her stuff. 18 Canal Rd, Sowerby Bridge, HX6 2AY

Llwybr Llaethog, Stwff (NeudNiddeud) CD

That was the Stuff and this is the Stwff. Stwff is Welsh for Look, Techno is Not Just For Chin-Stroking Londoners in Minimally-Logoed T-Shirts. Probably. It's not just the Cakeheads of this world who can whip up an electro casserole from next to nothing, Llwybr Llaethog have been doing it, largely unnoticed, for years. Stwff is Welsh for Listen To This You Narrow-Minded Tossers. Probably. Hefty chunks of authentic dub heaviness punctuate a set of wicked electronics that shifts easily from pulsing techno to shimmering drum'n'bass and ruff hip hop. Stwff is Welsh for Genre Boundaries Mean Nothing To Us. Probably. LL-LL are a one-band festival and if you can't wriggle out of your apathy suit long enough to listen, Stwff ya!

Goem, Disco (Fourth Dimension) CD

Disco. That's D.I.S.C.O? D, deleted. I, insubstantial. S, super-structure. C, corroded. O, oh-oh. Let's get this straight. Disco is not disco. It might be disco if it was speeded up to Warp Factor 9, but even then it's hard to be certain. Goem's Disco is what you get if you dip minimal techno into acid, corroding the insubstantial and leaving only the backbone, the super-structure. It is deleted techno and the slow cycles are hypnotic. PO Box 63, Herne Bay, Kent CT6 6YU

Various, Swim Team #2 (Swim) CD

The undoubted highlight of Swim Team #1 was Bumpy's debut outing, Pizza, and the young fella comes up with the goods again this time around. Still a schoolboy (he wanted to call himself kidrock until he found out about Kid Rock) his take on the techno thing mixes the naïve pleasure of basic loop repetition and a complex sense of when the beat needs to change. Standing out on Swim Team #2 Bumpy On The Beach takes the same innate nous and welds a satchelful of weird samples to a pumping house rhythm that was probably cooked up one playtime between games of conkers and marbles.

On the side of age, wisdom and experience, Colin Newman appears as himself and as part of Immersion (but Swim is his label, after all) and in all guises shows there's life in the old dog yet. Tsunami is a huge phased guitar ripper while Time Will Allow is something that Big Audio Dynamite could've aspired to. Silo's triplet of molten rock suggests again that you should check the album out and Beatkitten might be Bored, but you won't be. The album also features Flying Saucer Attack, Host, Toucaen, Malka Spigel, Lobe and Dictaphone. Five quid puts you first in the queue to see electronic music disappear over the edge. PO Box 3459, London, SW19 6ES

Printed Circuit, Reprints (Catmobile) CD

Printed Circuit likes old video games, old audio equipment, old computers and robots. I like Printed Circuit. Printed Circuit likes basic loops, Kraftwerk melodies, scrappy samples and tunes that make you smile. I like Printed Circuit a lot. Printed Circuit likes interesting people (Transistor Six, Figurine, I Am Robot And Proud, Fingernail) to chop her work up into little bits and glue them back together in interesting ways for her new album. I think I love Printed Circuit.

Cnut, Prince of Shampoo (Angelika Koehlermann) CD

Public Service Announcement: The obvious joke is at the end of this review. Please do not waste your time or mental energy trying to anticipate it at any point before the last two words. And all you clever dicks who think that the amount of energy required to read the average review in this publication is very small, please pay careful attention to the following sentences. You may think that the amount of energy required to read the average review in this publication is very small. And you would be right. A single ejaculation probably uses a hundred times more calories than reading a single review in Robots and Electronic Brains and, as every woman knows, an ejaculation requires nothing more than a jerk and a jerk. However, this particular review is written in a manner intended to reflect the style of Cnut's strangely strange electronic rock music and thus requires more than the usual effort to comprehend. If you usually skim reviews looking for the words "punk pop," "Mogwai" or "blonde singer in a short skirt" please move on to another music magazine. If you are a pedantic English Lit student, please note that I am fully aware that all I have done is leave out the punctuation in what follows. Please do not send correspondence on this matter and please move on to another music magazine.

Cnut are weird and bendy and wonky and elastic and obviously distracted and Beefheart and Bonzo and basic and complex and up and down and they rock and they are Suicide committing suicide and they have a song called Yellow Bogey and another called Bonus Extra Track they are truly diverting and they are funny and they rock even when they stick in a boring bit but even that is intentional it's a statement probably about something deep or maybe they're taking the piss they come from Scotland they are the missing link between art rock and Erasure except they probably hate Erasure and art rock and Dave's Roasting Weenies By The Pool could be a bunch of fucking session funksters warming up to be the backing band for some soul singer trading on his lone hit single from back in 1962 until it flips into space rock innes smith and dave graham make this mess of beautiful eccentric music and because they do it this way they will never ever be rich stupid cnuts.

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