The Bug vs Earth – Concrete Desert

bugearthI have long loved both The Bug and Earth, obviously for very different reasons. The Bug’s London Zoo in particular was righteous in its wrath and groovy in its execution, whilst Earth’s catalogue (particularly since the comeback) is one often inducive to deep relaxation and meditation. You might not think they would make obvious collaborators, in other words.

Of course, if my finger ever came out of its shell-like and went and tried to find the pulse, then I might have been aware that this has been brewing a while since they did a single a little way back.

On this release, Kevin Martin seems to work to Dylan Carlsons’ strengths, letting the guitarist dictate the pace whilst he complements the tones with a sound that I find myself calling glacial paranoia. The grooves are there, but they’re dialled back. It’s about the atmosphere, which is dark and resonant. Ambient industrial grime, if you want a label.

Despite the fact that the times we live in are frankly a riot of chaos, I could imagine this as a surreal soundtrack to them.

 

 

Mixpost 5 – Nostalgia, Flipdog style

When I was doing my degree in psychology, one of the ‘facts’ I was spoon-fed was that the music taste that someone has when they’re twenty defines their taste in music going forward, like that moment is frozen in time and and people don’t deviate from it because. The same bloke who ‘taught’ me that went on to say that he was certain that there would be a scientific explanation of creativity, a statement of faith if ever I heard one. I’m still waiting, Dr North…

Of course, that’s bollocks, like an awfully high percentage of stuff that gets giddily reported from the social sciences. I can think of at least two different interpretations of those observations although they tangle up in the following sentences to seem like one, but there are probably many more.  Twenty is the time of many people’s ‘golden age’ before they get trapped into the drudgery of working for a living day in and day out, possibly with extra domestic responsibilities too, and unless music is some kind of huge passion, they’ll just stick to what they know. Those of us who are consumed by music don’t ever stop listening to the new stuff, but it actually takes an effort because if you stick to the mainstream gatekeepers of taste then you will come to the conclusion very quickly that you’ve checked out all the possibilities, so shallow is the pool from which they select; a pool that is only getting shallower in these times of fear and insecurity where people want comfort blankets in every aspect of their lives.

But anyway, here’s a selection of tunes that I liked when I was around that age. My taste has proper moved on now – if you’d have told me then that an older version of me would like some jazz, for example, that version of me would have told you to fack right off – but I still love these. Very little commentary is necessary, except to say there is no order to this list.

Can you believe someone wrote a pop song in the 80s that only had 1 chord? Maybe my love of minimalism and repetition stems from this:

and finally…

Luísa Maita – Fio da Memória

luisaAnother completely contrasting Soundberg, this is from Brazil. We have previous with Brazil, but this is a completely different kettle of sonic fish; although, in common with Rakta the tags on the bandcamp page are: Brazil, world…. gotta love it.

The music is impossible to put a single simple label on. One tune will be a sort of loungey-jazzy feel with mild inflections of dub, beats, etc and the next will have a low key Garbage-like synth-grunge feel to it. The predominant mood is downbeat electro with guitars and hints of r’n’b (the modern iteration of that genre), I suppose, but as this isn’t my usual area I am even less knowledgeable than is usually the case.

Back at the beginning of the millennium, I used to spend a lot of time listening to the Nortec Collective. Through them, I discovered the wonderful Julieta Venegas, who has a voice to die for, or at least, listen to in pleasure. And the reason I tell you this is because I thought of her whilst listening to this. Another artist I think of is Cibelle,who is also Brazilian (which I didn’t know until just now – I thought she was Portuguese!)

 

Ecstatic Vision – Raw Rock Fury

ecsvisionIn a still loud but otherwise quite contrasting way, this is the just-released second LP from Ecstatic Vision. I have no idea what their first is like, also having no idea how I stumbled across this – when I did, I was only able to hear You Got It or You Don’t, but I was sold on that thing alone. But now I can listen to the whole album, well, damn Daniel, the whole thing is just mighty fine.

I would personally describe this as a kind of garagey-punky-classic rock from the 70s/80s done by psychonautic blues-heads, so maybe The Stooges mixing it up with early-ish Whitesnake after a spliff ; also Endless Boogie who were much more recent. Nudity also come to mind, and a lo-fi White Hills. They mention Hawkwind which is also a good call if you imagine them at their most Motorhead-y!

This is psych-rock for a sunny day with the windows down. If there was any justice I’d hear this coming from every third car that drives past.

Gnod – Just say no…

gnodIn complete contrast to the previous two posts, here we have a whole heap of ‘AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!’ aimed right at your face.  And what a fine heap of grumpy-old-man stuff it is, too. Mind you, they’re probably a bit younger than me (I’m 46).

Gnod have made it their recent mission to try and re-politicise the alternative music scene. My own feelings on this are mixed because I have to admit I’ve never seen a tsunami turn back because of protesters on the beach, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be encouraging people to pull their heads out of their ****book feeds and actually look at the world around them and try to re-engage with other actual people, instead of relying on some commentator you will never meet to tell you that things are actually one way that suits them better than you. Also, people are actually nicer to each other when they talk to each other instead of when they argue on the internet, a pastime which only brings out one thing in people and that is the worst.

It reminds me in spirit of the last great outpourings of political music that I was aware of in the 1990s, particularly around the Criminal Justice Act that came in around that time. One of the main reasons for my mixed feelings is because the discontent from those times was one of the main reasons for Tony Blair, and I don’t believe I need to explain why we don’t want a repeat of all that, now. For all that we decry the current wave of so-called populism, it seems it was alright when he did it. But now I’m going all political and frankly I should leave that to this album, and I’m also giving the impression that I think political music is mistaken when I don’t actually think that at all.

So anyway, musically speaking, this is five tracks of loud done in the way that Gnod do loud, which is to say very well. There is rhythm and groove as is their wont, loud guitars, snarling guitars and vocals, and, er, well. You get the message.

I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if you weren’t to see this on a t-shirt or ten before the year is out.

But whilst we’re talking Gnod, I’ve also just discovered The Somnambulist’s Tale from 2012, which is completely at the opposite end of the sonic spectrum from this and demonstrates just how fucking good they have always been. And did you notice that I asterisked a particular web-resource, but left the word ‘fucking’ uncensored? Have it.

Medicine Moon – Tales Of An Umber Earth

medmoonIn complete contrast to the post from this morning, I bring you the rich and textured neo-folk of Medicine Moon.

(You can just tell I’m planning a series of contrasts, can’t you?)

This music is gorgeous. Shantel Amundson and Sammy Fielding bring tunes to sooth you and lift you, whilst hypnotising you somewhat at the time. I don’t want to assume which member is the male and the female because there’s ambiguity there*, so I’ll just say that the male vocal is a rich, deep voice, harmonised beautifully by his female companion. (I’m guessing that Sammy is the bloke, but I have met girls called Sammy in the past, and I’ve never seen the word Shantel before). They describe this as cavernous drones and nocturnal serenades, which doesn’t do too bad a job. I’ll add that it also works when listening on headphones at work whilst looking at spreadsheets.

It’s not a million miles away from the absolutely marvellously wonderful Horse Cult album of last year – indeed, I think it was their recommendation that led me to try this out.

*my web search only brought the bandcamp page or their ****book page, and the latter won’t show me nought without I login, and I don’t have or want an account.

Hyenaz – Hyenaz

hyenazIn complete contrast to almost everything I’ve ever posted about, ever, I bring you Hyenaz.

Hyenaz are a synth-pop duo from Berlin, although the epithet synth-pop doesn’t really do full justice to this electro-monster groove machine. The rhythms are relentless and thunderous, yet subtle when they want to be too – the art of good songwriting, in other words, that old boring chestnut I’m sure I keep banging on about. There is a hedonistic and sensual feel about the music despite its purely synthetic origins, and a hypnotic mixture of melody and screech. They give good performance, it is said, which goes a long way to suggesting one of the core things about creating good material, although there’s a much larger discussion to be had over all that which I may make into a macro-post if I can be arsed to work out my roughly seventeen contrasting opinions on the matter into mere words.

The nearest reference point – for me, anyway – is Telepathe, who as far as I know are still extant despite only having put out that one album some years back.

There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to how and why I decide to give something a listen, and I couldn’t tell you how this fell onto my radar. I mean, this isn’t even their most recent album! So another thing to check out, then…