reviews september 2003

Goodnight Star, Mr (Customer) (Miniature) CD

The story is that Goodnight Star are here, in this room, with us, you and me. And they’ve got a bunch of electro boxes that they sprinkle with happy dust and then pound with lump hammers whenever the stream of chirruping digital melody chaos gets too predictable. So they’re here. In the room. With us. Making a lot of rhythmic noise, with understandable pauses for a breather. And the machines burble and chirp and pink like our old Maestro used to. And you start to body pop. Did I mention Depeche Mode? They’re in the next room, not in here. They’re recording the vocal tracks for the new album. It’s due in 2000-and-who-gives-a-fuck-any-more. But Dave Gahan’s still putting his heart into it. Through the anorexic-thin partition wall – we live in squalor in this sorry episode, you and me – through the partition, we can hear Dave’s flat tones as if whispered. Somehow he always seems to be in time with the gravelled crunch and the sharp electro pinging. It’s too good to be true, you say as you turn to face me for the first time. Yes, I reply. And it isn’t. But until Mr (Customer) finishes, I can carry on dreaming.

Lodus, Skitter (Minature) CDS

Lodus’ Skitter is something you might’ve heard at a rave rendered so you could listen to it during the comedown. Chilled electro with attitude for freaky, but slow, dancing. U Lead Me To You adds the ambience of R&S’ more, erm, ambient moments to make this definitely not a Lodushit (thankyouandgoodnight.)

Slipstream, Transcendental (Enraptured) CD

Jack was on the phone to us the other night. He wanted to know what I thought of this one. Of course (of course!) I hadn’t listened to it. He said I’d like it but that it started slowly, so I should give it a chance to grow on me. In this time-poor, cash-poor life that I lead, suggesting I give anything more than half a minute to catch my ear before slinging it onto the ever-growing Mount Rejection in the corner of the Possession Domain is not likely to improve its probability of getting on the stereo. However, Jack also gave me some unrelated advice on another of life’s conundrums so I was ready to be generous, to still my tense index finger twitching over the remote control, over the <eject> button worn nude with aggressive overuse.

The funny thing is that Jack was completely wrong (although his other advice was spot on.) Transcendental is immediate. The intro to Everything and Anything tick, tick, ticks and then launches into space on the back of a melody Spiritualised left lying around at Cape Canaveral. No surprise, Mark Refoy, the man behind Slipstream, has served both them and Spaceman 3 in his time. Just You and Me is the kind of headphone hard-on that exposure to the ‘3 can and should inspire, with a harmonica. And so it goes. For an hour. I’m listening to the album as I write this, in a darkened caravan near the sea. Perfect. Immediate. All-encompassing. And a bonus disc of Yellow 6 remixes to boot.

Hundred Strong, Gone Fishin EP (Altered Vibes/Battersea Park) 12”

A lady MC with the lyrical chops and delivery of early Michael Franti runs mobius lines around an elastic bass and a funky as week-old haddock bongo break. She hands off to her mate who raps his verse simultaneously fast and slow. This is like a brilliant Blackalicious moment. That is some achievement. That was Brain Busy.

Various, !K7 150 EP (!K7) 12”

Four tracks plucked from the forthcoming !K7 150 double album celebrating 150 releases on the label (derrr!!) If you’ve missed them so far, now’s a good time to start taking an interest. Kruder and Dorfmeister kick things off with Black Baby. Less acid jazz than herbal jazz, it trips along on a busy break smothered in mellowness. Nick Holder chips in with Sometimes I’m Blue, riding a faster loop and a fidgetful bass down to a smoky club with blue air where a single spotlight shines on a singer lost in her voice. On the other side, Swayzak’s electro sounds like Pram relocated to Detroit and Ghost Cauldron round proceedings off with the floor-friendly Death Before Disco.

Trilemma/ The Radiator Experts, split CD

This one’s free with I’d Rather Be Fat Than Be Confused fanzine ( and features a handful more of Trilemma’s bittersweet musings on those whelming moments in life. Whelming. Those situations neither under-whelming nor over-whelming are just plain whelming. Mundane. Everyday. And by virtue of being everyday, affecting us all, all of the time. Which is why they get us down. And why Trilemma have an endless supply of circumstances to pluck out on guitar and piano, bathe in reverb and mix down through four-track warmth.

The Radiator Experts seem to have discovered the Beach Boys since the last demo I heard and their five tracks balance on the jangle/West Coast interface. More fuzz and more speed (and more speed) and they’d be looking at Mary Chain comparisons. Better production and tighter tunes and we’d be thinking Elephant Six instead.

Sin O The East (Fluorescent Friends) CD

I like their style. Delivered in a sick bag, and without much information beyond “songs inc. shifter car, jean-baptiste, italics are my own, eugene..” this Sin O The East record very much leaves you to make up your own mind. So I do: excellent. Recorded in the hull of a supertanker (one of the illegal ones with a single, huge, cavernous, monstrously large container) it’s a bunch of blokes monkeying around with noise and space and riffs and a colossal beat. It’s post rock and it’s art rock. Let’s christen a new genre today: part rock. 

Man In Formaldehyde, Copper Sulphate Crystals (Pointy Bird) CD

I like their style. From the chap with the red face that’s gone wrong in the middle on the sleeve (is that what formaldehyde does to you?) to the Pointy Bird logo (looks like a crab with stumpy claws) to the fact that they’ve written PROMO COPY in felt pen on the back of the CD case, I love all the details. I liked this record before I even put it on. And then I liked it all over again. Copper Sulphate Crystal 1 opens the Formaldehyde account by echoing the music from Take Hart’s Gallery while locating itself in a Parisian Café during a quiet afternoon. Then we’re into A3055 for a ten minute journey across the Isle of Wight in a slow-moving balloon piloted by The Orb. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is next. You know how, when you stare at the sun, you get kaleidoscopic flashing and stained-glass colours in front of your eyes? Imagine the same for your ears, on a really hot day. The rest of the album glides by in chunks of five or six minutes that seem to last five or six seconds. Or maybe five or six days.


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