reviews september 2001

O.H. Krill, Chasing The One (DC) 10"

Can assemble for a reunion gig on board Captain Nemo's Nautilus submarine. At a depth of 20,000 leagues the band decide they want to swim with the fishes so they wrap their instruments in polythene, step through the airlock and improvise a Jacques Cousteau soundtrack for the passing sealife.

Reachout, When The Kingdom Come (Oh Eye) 12"

When The Kingdom Come is good, but it's not the one. You need to turn over and follow The Trail if you want to hear how Ennio Morricone would've made hip hop. There's hardly anything here bar a thick beat, a moody brass line and some atmospherics, but it sounds HUGE. Squinting into the sun, the Scotland Yard MCs add brooding menace.

Mos Eisley, It's Them, Blast 'Em (Beautiful Pigeon) 7"

Another in the Spraydog mould of casually fractured guitar pop, and also from the North East. Mos Eisley have been rated "Quite Good" by Lauren Laverne which, depending on your opinion of Kenickie, will probably determine whether or not you nip out and buy this.

Iinviisiibles, Hexiical Head (Pop Gun) CDS

Ten years ago I was living in a tatty house in Nottingham. I was of an age where the purchase and compulsive reading of the NME was an unquestionable necessity but with age and wisdom I can allow my former self such foolishness. To be honest, there were good things to be found in the paper at that time, I mean now and again it even reviewed a tape-only release in the albums section. Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine's debut album had been putting in overtime on my stereo and so, because the NME described them as something like Carter's angrier, dirtier, scabbier cousins, I sent off to Chainsaw Cassettes for a copy of The Invisibles' Bastion Of Apathy tape. It was just as advertised, the sound and the poorly xeroxed cover both thin, shoddy patchworks of lo-fi bitterness, buzzsaws and bile. If I had any idea where it was I'd dig it out and play it again today.

I mention this because Hexiical Head by Iinviisiibles also comes with a Carter USM connection – they're on the same label and touring with the claggy gang show of Cater left-over bands – and the coincidence is doing my head in. Can there be any relation between these two bands? I doubt it, but I kind of wish there was. I'd like to think that The Invisibles spent ten years grafting away, picking up the extra I's and slowly turning into The Fall down a deep hole. PO Box 709, London, SE19 1JY

The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken, Man Car Plane (Artists Against Success) CD

The first computer game I ever bought, for my 16k ZX Spectrum, was Horace Goes Skiing. Flush with a small collection of WH Smiths vouchers freshly plucked from carelessly discarded birthday cards I caught the 140 up to Dudley, anticipation beating out a smart tattoo in my chest. As the proud owner of a new computer (for which I'd sacrificed Birthday, Christmas and pocket money) I was no longer the playground loser and now having the wherewithal to invest in a top of the range game as well.. Come break time I'd be everybody's best mate ("Goo on, borrow us it.") And unusually powerful ("Get stuffed, Smithy! Yer never lent us Hungry Horace, did yer?")

With vouchers clutched in a fist itself thrust deeply down into the sweaty tightness of my jeans pocket for security's sake I fidgeted through the 20 minute bus ride and shunned my usual elliptical route through the town. Normally I went via the second-hand record stall at the indoor market, the second-hand record shop up by top church, Woolworths and the sweet shop in the Churchill arcade but today it was the direct route straight up High Street. Half staggering and half running, my haste hampered by the pressure on the crease at the top of my right thigh, I barged past the dusty old ladies on their way to the dusty cheap shoe shop by Kentucky Fried Chicken, burst through the doors of Smiths and dove into the racks of computer games.

Aaahhh. Yesssss. At last. I stood, neck craned back, gazing upwards at the towering racks packed with row upon row of cassettes, each with a diagonal rainbow at the corner denoting the astonishing 8-colour capacity of the Spectrum. But a new problem now: what game should I get? Hours spent poring over the adverts in Your Computer had loaded my head with just titles while my imagination had filled in the rest, inspired by a yearly trip to the seaside and its amusement arcades, occasional games on a mate's Atari and very occasional school dinnertime sneaked visits to the electrical shop in Blackheath where you could sometimes persuade the chap behind the counter to let you play on the Colecovision machine.

So I panicked. Snatching up the first familiar title, I ran to the checkout, fumbled my vouchers out of my pocket, ran back to the bus station and caught the first bus home. Dad, hoping I'd got a chess game, or something to do my homework with, was a little disappointed to see the crappily-rendered Horace on the front of the cassette. I, hoping I'd got something like Galaxians, was a little disappointed to read the blurb on the sleeve that suggested I'd got a skiing game instead. Ten minutes of fiddling with cables and cassette players later and all was confirmed. Not exactly a dud. But not exactly Galaxians, Horace Goes Skiing was a basic scrolling skiing game and a basic Frogger game butt-ended together. King of the Playground was not likely to be my new nickname. But I still played the game to death. Well you do, don't you?

The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken have a new album out. The third track is Horace Goes Skiing. On the back cover the band apologise for the poor quality of their record. Nobody ever apologised to me for the poor quality of their game.

DJ Komikon, World Beaters EP (Catchpenny) CDS

If you're the kind of person who thinks minimal techno – and presumably any kind of minimalist art – can be banged out in a few minutes because there's "like, literally, nothing to it," then the chances are you won't appreciate DJ Komikon's debut. His Variation On A Theme By Steve Reich apart, the tracks here are largely experiments in grainy percussion where the grim fidelity of the samples and the fact that Komikon's computer can't seem to keep time, provide the interest. The title track is the best, a primitive electro that could be a shaving from Mike Paradinas' workbench. PO Box 88, Mold, CH7 4ZQ

Tompaulin, My Life At The Movies (Ugly Man) CDS

I saw Tompaulin finish a set at Rota in Notting Hill a while ago. Despite hardly hearing more than an elongated thrumming crescendo, I was still presented with a button badge to certify attendance. So I'm well-disposed towards these identity appropriators, scholars of small tragedies and natives of Blackburn before I've even cracked open their latest offering. But even those with no prior motivation and with darkness in their hearts would hard-pressed to hate My Life At The Movies and its fragile nostalgia. PO Box 106, M32 8RG

Interlaken, 78rpm CDR

How fast do CDs go round? I've got a feeling that the speed changes depending on which bit of the disc is being read, but I may have just dreamed that up. Do you ever have that feeling, the idea that the anecdote you're in the middle of was actually a dream, or told to you by a mate, or is a composite of several other stories you read in Hello while you were waiting to see the dentist? I do. I once pulled up mid-flow in a story about how our school and the school down the road were somehow linked back in the dim and distant past but had become separated for some dark reason when a mate was astonished to find that the self-same thing was true of Grange Hill and their arch enemies. It troubles me that it's so easy to blend fact and fiction, fragments of this and that, into a (generally) coherent whole. It shouldn't do, though. I mean, it's what bands do all the time: take from here and there, dream up a few bits of their own, bodge them together and claim the whole sorry mess is in some way a giant leap forward for art. Such assurance. The most noticeable thing about Interlaken's new one is the assurance. It makes up for a lot, particularly the fact that the list of bands they've added their dreamed-up bits to will be familiar to anyone who's ever read a Mogwai review. But the assurance, the sure-footed confidence, and the fuck-you strength of the demo are the reasons you should hear it. 9 Great Eastern Street, Cambridge

Dreams Of Tall Buildings, Double 7" (Bearos) 2x7"

Kaleidoscopic sound, all-encompassing and, if you let it be, hypnotic. Dreams Of Tall Buildings manipulate who-knows-what into what-on-earth-was-that? It's filmic, in the sense that it seems to have a narrative flow but any film it soundtracked would be dark indeed. The music wheezes and groans and whirrs and whirls and, if you let it, hypnotises. PO Box 7179, Birmingham, B29 6RA

The 13th Pillar/ Rhysical Pheck, split (Cripperty) 2x7"

What's in a name? Rose Royce would sound as sweet. The 13th Pillar burden themselves with a track called Old Enough To Know Better and then proceed to live up to it. Stuck in an unholy rut somewhere between today and C86 with Morrissey for company (although they claim Suede), two of their three songs are well worth avoiding. Perversely, Old Enough To Know Better is worth a second look, but only because it wheels in some prog pomposity and liberating loud, noisy blasts. Rhysical Pheck is on firmer ground from the off. Not only is he blessed with pseudonym genius (or parents who really hate him) but his half-dated electro, half-60's surf combination sounds like Brian Wilson playing a clockwork Space Invader machine in need of a wind. 37 Oakhill Close, Glen Park, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM2 6HU

Space Rocket, Hot Gadulka Suicide (Boing Being) 7"

How many records do you suppose credit someone for playing "hand farts"? I'd guess there aren't a lot. But how many credit two people for hand farts? And how many also note a virtuoso performance on the dildo? And while we're at it, how many records do you own that were recorded by Man As Lamb? Space Rocket are fucking brilliant (and I hope they use this bit of the quote) before I've even put the record on. Listen to this from the sleeve notes: "This is a high fidelity recording. Any lack of enjoyment is caused by your inadequate home stereo your dad bought you for Christmas. In a case like this, please hand it to the nearest official premises for disposal." Or this: "George is a stunning multi-instrumentalist who is one of the few persons who can master the traditional Bulgarian folk instrument Gadulka.. it is like piece of vaginal juice for George." These words were supposedly written by one Antonio Mitocondrio in a place rejoicing in the name of Arsesterberg. Hilarious. But you're wondering what the record sounds like? Antonio comes to the rescue once more: "veryfreejazzband.. what more can I say? Zeddar?" Hyytialantie 9, 35500 Korkeakoski, Finland

Freddy Fresh, Boogie Down Bronx (Howlin) 7"

Man Parrish's electro classic is given a hefty trowelling by Mr Fresh here, but he nobly resists the temptation to drop an entirely unnecessary "funky break" into the mix, leaving remnants of the near-perfect original to propel what remains. (Please take note, you bastards who periodically desecrate Planet Rock and others.) Until I just looked it up, I never realised that Man Parrish took Boogie Down Bronx to the dizzy heights of number 56 in the charts back in September 1985. 18 months later, he was at number 4 with Male Stripper. I remember watching Top Of The Pops, eating fish and chips with my Mum and Dad while an overtly gay man in a black leather cap and trousers let slip that he was a male stripper in a Go-Go bar. Heady days for a young Possession, relived for 5 minutes just now.

The Rebel Astronauts/Purplene, split (Steady Cam) 7"

One of those splits where you wouldn't be surprised to find that both tracks were by the same band. The Rebel Astronauts shade it, their version of the sad, slow, architectural instrumentalism (or post-rock, if you prefer and have no style) is marginally more beautiful. PO Box 72, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

DJ Ordeal, Maureen (Johnny Kane) 7"

How Scott Walker would've made Mathilda if he'd lost his voice, had access to a vast film library to scour for samples and was in the mood for gloom-laden breakbeats. Beautiful. 23 Park Rd, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 2BE

DJ Rupture/ Doily/ Criterion, (sic) series (Broklyn Beats) all 7"

(sic) not because they're sick (although they would definitely have been ill a decade and a half ago and illbient halfway between then and now) but (sic) because Broklyn is not a spelling error. Last year's Brutal Police Menace compilation showed how rife corruption is in NYC. Not least in the police force, which didn't get a sympathetic hearing on the record, but also amongst the beat fraternity. It spliced Gotham grime into fractured hip hop, metropolitan dub and cosmopolitan techno. These 7" form the first instalment of another compilation and follow roughly the same scattershot blueprint, without the law enforcement theme, of stalking the streets in search of a vibe and a sound. Doily drops a dub depth charge down a manhole and then crouches, ear to the sidewalk, waiting for the muffled explosions to rumble back up to her and merge with the city hustle. DJ Rupture takes a more kinetic approach, scavenging frantically through dumpsters covered in extractor fan silt and back-alley disrepair for sounds which he flings out in a torrent of broken beats and then tramples underfoot. Criterion sits somewhere between the two. Still in a part of town you'd rather know less about, still ready to fuck shit up but not with his head down the sewer or stuck inside a dustbin. Race Traitor hammers home an obvious message on the back of a heavily veiled break while Honky Tonk Hits takes the same beat down to a community centre just after the medication has been administered. A piano grinds to a halt as half-a-dozen grizzled old fellas remember how jazz used to sound, slurring "yeah" into their chests and dribbling down their Jets shirts. 440 Broadway #3R, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA

Monkey Island, Mussolini's Teaspoons (Ultra) CDS

Perhaps I'm not paying sufficient attention, but I can't say that I'm any more enlightened as to how this relates to the contents of the Italian dictator's cutlery drawer than I was when I started listening to it 6 plays and half an hour ago. I can't say that I'm any more enlightened as to the subtleties of John Robb's production techniques either. It still sounds like he just mics the band up, slaps the back of each member's head a few times, starts the tape recorder and shouts "play you fuckers!!" Monkey Island obliged. PO Box 12903, London, N16 7JR

Braer Rabbit, Circuit Trainer (Foolproof Projects) 7"

Do androids dream of electric sheep? I'm sure I couldn't say. None of the robots I've ever asked had any opinion on the matter – or were too embarrassed to talk about it. Oily dreams. Euurgh. But does Braer Rabbit dream of electric sleep? Still no actual evidence but my inclination after hearing the debut 7" would be the affirmative. Circuit Trainer is hardly more than the electric aural synthesis of the moment immediately after the Horlicks kicks in and some magic or other carries you hazily up the stairs to bed. On the other side, Direct Communication With Otis is the electronic aural synthesis of a dream during rapid eye movement about being chased around Hampton Court Maze, dressed as a tennis ball, by Tim Henman in stockings. Benevolently cracked electro.

Pylon, Keep Your Melody Hands On My Burning Gems (Boing Being) 7"

He Expected Gallons Of Water, Flowers and Butter And Got Nothing closes this four-tracker. Unlike the unfortunate referent of the pronoun in the title, I expected something oddly psychedelic from Tampere in Sweden and I got it. Pylon play a less-tortured version of the metallic scrapings that Warser Gate churn through and out. Seemingly recorded deep underground and conducted by Beefheart in a straitjacket this would a trip after a couple of spliffs and a nightmare after a couple more. Hyytialantie 9, 35500 Korkeakoski, Finland

Maquiladora, Ritual of Hearts (Jonson Family) 7"

Abducted by space-rock aliens and stripped of all effects save their reverb pedal, Spaceman 3 are dumped in the middle of a dusty mid-Western prairie. 17 miles to the south is a Small Minded, a town consisting of 4 people, 8 cattle and a well. 16 miles to the north is a railroad. It doesn't stop in this state, just rolls right on through. West, nothing. East is a road, a black asphalt escape route if only a car would show up. The band lie in the shade of their amplifiers for a couple of hours, pondering their situation and smoking the extremely strong skunk the aliens gave them as a parting gift. Initially they think that the small red speck kicking up a dust cloud at the point where the road meets the horizon is a mirage, but as an hour passes, they realise that it actually exists. Methodically, and at skunk speed, they begin to tote their equipment to the side of the road. Once assembled, the speck is close enough to be seen as a red pick-up truck. Sonic Boom sticks out his thumb. An hour later the truck stops and a gangly youth of the kind found in all small American towns leans out of the window. He is wearing a Garth Brooks souvenir Stetson and a check shirt. He doesn't say anything, just gestures to the empty rear and watches as the band load their stuff on. When Jason passes him a lead to plug into the cigarette lighter he asks no questions and as he pulls away, the band strike up Ritual Of Hearts and the desert reverberates with quiet beauty.

The Fall, Rude (Flitwick) 7"

"When I wake up in the city/ I look around to see who's with me." You believe it when Mark E Smith says it. You'd believe that he's nine-tenths cut when you hear him sing on these two tracks but you'd still rate it above most of the soulless bullshit you listen to these days. You'd believe that it was recorded in a garage, through a gramophone horn direct to acetate but you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you it was, while stocks last, free. PO Box 26, Flitwick, Beds, MK45 1ZU

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