reviews july 2002

Ghost Cauldron, Whole World (!K7) 12"

Featuring Apani B Fly’s lazy (D.A.I.S.Y.) lyrical outflow, the original version is well worth a look on its own account. The place you should start, though, is the B-side where Patrick Pulsinger lives up to his name, dropping a pulsating weird and twisting funk line under the rap. A synthetic bass wriggles like a snake down Bootsy Collins’ trousers and everything else just twists to accommodate it.

Blackalicious, LP sampler (MCA) 12"

How did it go, now? New Label, New Danger wasn’t it? You always have to worry when something good gets sucked onto a major label. You can’t begrudge Blackalicious trying to make some crazy dollar out of their art. But you’re afraid that, like a thousand before them, the transition to a corporation that could just as well be flogging nails, coffee, timeshares or second hand goat shit for all it cares will compromise that art. So.. Paragraph President is the hip hop that we want: beats and rhymes and little else, delivered with the elastic syntactic complexity that Gift of Gab is famed for. Blazing Arrow is jokier, but still solid. And the other side? Just don’t play the other side.

The Groop, Voodoo Sitar (Ace of Discs)/ The Jimi Entley Sound, Apache (Espionage Disk) both 7"

It was the drugs. You went to sleep some time ago. The last things you heard were The Incredible Bongo Band’s version of Apache, something you couldn’t quite put your finger on by George Harrison and the hugely heavy Moog bass of the dub band in the next studio. Much time passed before you woke up. You can’t remember what you were listening to when you fell asleep, but fragments of tunes, somehow blurred into one hazy and yet glorious whole, are buzzing around your head. You’re already in the studio, so you turn the sequencer on, breathe deeply and let magical grooves flow out of your fingers. You are The Groop. This is Voodoo Sitar.

The Jimi Entley Sound were not present at this epiphanic moment. If the press release is to be believed, The Jimi Entley Sound were only ever in the studio once, and then only long enough to slap down a heavy cover of The Shadow’s Apache sometime in 1969. True or not, there’s no doubt this pink vinyl thriller is a right royal funky treat with a wallet full of wah, a hatful of Hammond and a break to rival even the legendary Incredible Bongo beat.

Pop Off Tuesday, Helicopter (Pickled Egg) 7"

It’s like this. Hiroki is an octopoid sonic chef equipped with only one piece of equipment: a Moulinex blender wired crazily to a DAT recorder. He is largely in control of 4 of his arms, but the remaining quartet are liable to do whatever they please. This typically involves stuffing loads of extra samples into the brew that Hiroki was making to back up Minori’s ethereal folk/pop songs. Helicopter is a prime example. It’s a beautiful song, sung beautifully by a Japanese Liz Frazer fighting the language barrier. The backing track is an audio compendium that includes snatches of cop-film funk, twangs, acid bleeps, whistles and bells. It’s to Hiroki’s credit that his four good arms manage to keep the brew so clear and season it to such perfection. No-one else makes records this way. No-one else sounds like Pop Off Tuesday. 19 College Ave, Leicester, LE2 0JF

Puffinboy, High Livin’ Round Seven Dials (Foolproof Projects) 7"

Foolproof Projects by name, foolproof projects – as Roger Hargreaves would have said – by nature. Theirs has been a roster of perfection so far and this third release only ups the ante. It sounds like Puffinboy went to record some local guitar band, realised they were shit and came away with just a snatch of guitar, a half bar of drums and someone’s mumbled "well fuck you too" as he made his excuses and left. Revenge is sweet: turning the pig’s ear of the resentful unimaginative plodders into a silk purse of electronic editing genius. Nothing more than a staccato riff and a lesson in ways to reconstruct a beat, the whole thing descends into noise anchored to reality by your memory of a structure you only ever imagined was there in the first place. Truly great.

Motormark, Jetset/Ringo / Motormark & Zoidberg split (both Empire) both 7"

Motormark are nice people. After helping me chop up some Robots.. flyers with my guillotine they decided to invest in their own – and sent me a little note to let me know. Not very rock’n’roll is it? They’re so nice that they stayed to drink the tea Donna Donnelly had made them, even though they’d got to get to Doncaster for a gig. As a child, politeness was drummed into me, and these days I find myself appreciating it in others and – more so – resenting it when people are rude. Motormark aren’t rude. They’re nice, like I said.

Their records are nice as well: beatboxsynthspeedpop sofasttheresnospaces betweenthewords exceptwhentheygasp forbreath. Jetset starts like a mobile ringtone before speeding off in a hotwired hotrod that used to belong to the Human League. Ringo fizzes with techno-punk energy and fuzz which is transformed into dancefloor-pleasing android-punk energy and buzz on the b-side remix. It sounds like a distant cousin of Stakker Humanoid. On the split, Zoidberg let themselves down with tinny, tiny sound while Motormark blast through Baby and jerk through I Like Records in a way that might help earn the Rezillos comparisons Mark and Jane complained they’ve never had over that polite cup of tea.

The Fish From Tahiti, Elvis Presley Séance (Sorted) 7"

"Who’s got the music?" asks Elvis at the end of side one. Your estate, your majesty, and they think Junkie XL’s chart-topper was the first beyond-the-grave collaboration with the King. Not so. It’s a little known fact that Presley’s phantom floated through Leicester last year, dropped in on Dave Dixey’s tape-loop studio and laid down some tracks through the medium of a medium. The loops on this occasion are suitably sombre and spooky – a fraction of incidental music from Scooby Doo and the Fairground stretched out for five minutes - and Elvis via the Doris Stokes, is suitably spaced out. PO Box 5922, Leicester LE1 6QU

Various, Split Release #1 (Area 52) 7"

I always play a little game as I listen to Truman’s Water: Who man Truman? I would call it, had I ever given it any thought. It goes like this. The band race a ramshackle tune around a wall of death on a misfiring old banger and I shout Fred! Harry! or Capote! every time the noise swerves off in a different direction. There is no object to this game. I just enjoy it. I’m Being Good could do just as well with Richard Briers and Penelope Keith but somehow it’s just not the same even though the noise is just as, erm, Good. Gravel Samwidge have no potential for famous name games, and their What You Need is anyway more straightforward. It sounds like half a hardcore track at twice the length. And Penthouse we know and love already.

Isan, Exquisite Honeyed Tart (Static Caravan) 7"

Is it a cake or a lady? A cake or a lady? A cake or a lady? Don’t think too hard as you listen to this, you might spiral into its groove and never wake up. Isan are past masters of the minimalist slowflow and this comestible conundrum pitters and patters its way into sleep, combing the fine elements of a wispy tune out of just air and electro trickles.

Misty’s Big Adventure, I Am Cool With A Capital C (Awkward) 7"

"All songs by Grandmaster Gareth" it says. You might begin to wonder how far Melle Mel or Flash would’ve got if they’d stuck with plain Melvin or Joseph. But not for long. Once this one starts spinning, you’ll be lifted up and carried away by the small Big Band feel of I Am Cool.. and the Playschool party vibe of b-side Mulling It Over. It feels like a big adventure, like a 9-strong cartoon caper where the kids always get away with it. It is cool with a capital C. 50 Addison Rd, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 7EW

The Loves, Just Like Bobby D (Track & Field) 7"

It’s not just like Bob(by) D(ylan) but it does sound like something recorded at the same session as Leader of the Pack by a more stoned set of stoners. Which is a recommendation.

King Creosote, So Forlorn (Bad Jazz/Fence) 7"

It’s a funny old world. Sometimes – salt being a case in point – two horrendous wrongs make a glorious right. King were a mid-80s hair-and-shoulder pads pop disaster and creosote is smelly, dirty, sticky and cruel to plants and garden animals. The combination of these two horrors? Sure to be disastrous. But King Creosote defies the odds to work a magical mawkish folkish gem out of an accordian, an acoustic and a clunky loop of lo-fi funk. Bad Jazz, 104 York Rd, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3EG

The Swedish Chef, Back Burner (Where Its At Is Where You Are) 7"

Cover stars wanted in exchange for cheap vinyl. Send a passport photo and a cheque for a quid to John Jervis at the address below and you’ll get a copy of Back Burner by return. If you’re unlucky, it will feature one of three photos of me caught on a bad face day from a poor angle with unfortunate lighting by a malicious Photo-Me-Booth (provenance is scrawled on the back.) If you’re lucky, you’ll get a Scandinavian beauty. The Swedish Chef seems to have mellowed since his days as a Muppet with nary a "bork!" in earshot, just gentle bedroom introspection. 39 Ray Mill Rd West, Maidenhead, Berks, S16 8SF.

Minmae, My First Brush With Infinity (Octane Grammophon) 7"

Not Minmae's first brush with infinity, but the latest in a long line of close shaves at the edge of the event horizon. Minmae attempt to create the feeling you’d get as you sidle out of the known universe in a third-hand rocket ship using only 3-track recorders, guitars and Bob Mould’s cast-off old pedals. Torikatu 1b, 28 53100, L Ranta, Finland

Circa 1983/Mogul split (Sorted) 7"

Circa 1983 I was playing lots of football down our street, drinking fizzy pop, wearing trainers from Woolworths and jeans patched at the knee with Villa badges, wondering what girls were for and coming to terms with the idea of deodorant. Circa 1983 were probably only just born at the time which means they were probably playing football down their street when I was getting off on Mega City Four. Shame, So Easy is nice but could be brilliant. On the other side, Mogul enjoy a quick bout of Subway Sex which isn’t as satisfying as Rotunda’s phallic symbolism, but is just the (hand) job if you’re in need of another sleazy synthpunk thrill. PO Box 5922, Leicester LE1 6QU

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