Writing by Neil Kulkarni

Thursday, 31 October 2013

SINGLES PAGE NOVEMBER 2013

ARCTIC MONKEYS 
ONE FOR THE ROAD 
(Domino)

Quality. Legends. Sloppy. Erectile dysfunction. Celibate. Forgettable. Yup, everything that 10/10 from the NME led you to believe. They had way more feel, more heat, when they started out I reck. (Sidetrack - AM are yet another shouldabeenonehitwonders of the 00s - sometimes I think we'd have lost nothing if albums had been banned for that whole decade and bands' first singles were all we had). Now losing whatever they had in floppy pendulous shapeless pomposity, that Vegas air slowing them to a plod as dull as QOTSA's "Make It Wichu'. This sounds like Chris Moyles' idea of 'experimental', like the Stereophonics zany new 'disco direction', like bleedin' Hard-Fi fer chrissakes. Epic. Boosted as somehow AM at their 'blackest', their 'danciest' (uggh) just cos they coo octave-split vocals on the chorus and the click track's been bonged-slower a few notches. You'd have to have been found swaddled in a wicker basket in a forest clearing and bought up and reared by wankers to ever consider this anything other than time-marking bollocks of the most tedious kind. Legends. A guaranteed in-at-12 out the next week non-hit doubtless already embedded into the editing suites (smartly, Alex sings "to the relegation zone" early on, he no dummy) at Talksport and the Sky F1 channel for judicious cutting and disseminating through the ever-lucrative medium of sports-montage right now. Decent. Look away and hold yr nose. Chapman Bridge for snobs. FAKE sound of Vegas. Quality. 

AZTECH & REEL DRAMA ft. BIG SHUG
CAN'T STOP 
(NA)
SWEETNESS on the mix from Reel Drama, obviously touched by the influence of Premo but cut with a speedy grace that's pure post-Kanye and with sudden moments of brooding doom amidst the luscious Rhodes & jazz-funk. A track that's not happy just staying in one place, that hits all kinds of different pleasure buttons across its breathless, gorgeous two hundred odd seconds. You owe yourself this deliciousness.


SINGLE OF THE MONTH ONE 

BRITNEY SPEARS
WORK BITCH 
(RCA)
UNPOPULAR. A poxy 37million hits (vs 93mill for Gaga's latest, 161mill for Perry's) but I love this. I love the way it's been rushed out at Britney's behest and Will.I.Am is hopping mad (cos it's unrepresentative of the album). May more stars be this smart, this freewheeling. I love the way it doesn't even pretend to have a verse or a chorus, and is pretty much just a steady build and blast of jacked-up electro over which Britney marshalls the aggravation masterfully, slipping between accents (her British accent is ACES) and varying degrees of listener-baiting with the steely grace of a  her octave-jumping peal the only concession to melody, the rest like some freaky Lambourghini-speed mash-up of The Ones' 'Flawless' and Wildchild's 'Renegade Master'. Exquisitely unmusical trouble-making on the one hand. On the other, a record that's offers a disturbing, triumphant, body-rockingly thrilling snapshot of how tough you have to be to live through this. Actually good enough to make me want to hear it, too loud (the whole thing is gloriously too loud) in a club with other human beings. Better than the entire recorded works of Bob Dylan and no mistake. True sound of Vegas.  

DAVID GUETTA ft. MIKKY EKKO
ONE VOICE
(EMI)
TOO many outlets in and out. Of course, I should have massive problems with everyone involved here but 'Titanium' keeps on nagging away at me as a damn good reason not to fully condemn DG (if only he could and of course, like anyone else, I LOVED 'Stay', still Rihanna's only truly salvageable moment. Happy to report though that this is absolutely vile, like Chris Martin, Bono and Thom Yorke all frantically spunked on to a biscuit and then fed the soggy detritus through Logic Pro via a midi cable. Vocals - horrible, production - ghastly, concept- foul. The video,  which seeks to somehow bat away the none-more-whiteness of the track and give it some kind of political message it really can't sustain  by randomly splicing in footage of smiling Africans whenever it can, is perhaps one of the most revolting artefacts 2013 will give us. Hell, I know I should be critically schtum cos this is all for the United Nations or something but fuck the United Nations if enabling pop as terrible as this has now swum within their remit. Only fair that we consider marching Guetta, Ekko, and the smiling Africans as well, to the edge of a volcanic crater and push them all in, just to be firm but fair. A luncheon of lava will learn them not to foist poo on innocent pop fans and no mistake. 

DOPPLEREFFEKT
TETRAHYMENA
(Leisure System)
DREXCIYA's Gerald Donald is the man behind Dopplereffekt, here returning from the nigh-on beatless bleakness of 2007's 'Calabai Yau Space' album to something approaching their electro roots again. 'Tetrahymena' is antarctic cold, your fingers fusing to it like a frostbit clutch at a metal door that won't stop shutting. Reminds me of 'The Thing' massively but the highlight here can be found on the flip  - 'Gene Silencing' is one of the sweetest most mournful Kraftwerk imaginings I've heard in a while, for once someone doubtless using the same pallette as Zer Gut Meisters Of Klinklang but refusing to merely be satisfied with sourcing the same textures and going about the collage with a real sense of melodic and emotional complexity. The deliciously dark 'Zygote' closes things out with eeriness and impact as well. Short for a techno EP but all the more concisely brainjangling for it. Oh and, I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH.

ELLIE GOULDING
HOW LONG WILL I LOVE YOU (CHILDREN IN NEED SINGLE)
(Polydor)
THINGS were easier when bad voices, damaging, dangerously influential voices were the loudest voices, the most stentorian and bossy and show offy. It was obvious how dangerous the likes of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey were for pop, that surfeit of notes and melisma, that mistaking of technicality and proficiency for emotion that was so analogous to other musicians, guitarists who solo too much, drummers who solo at all. 
Goulding with arch shitbag Jo Whiley
   What's so horrible at the moment is that the most dangerously influential voices are the weak ones, or rather the faux-weak ones, the ones that impart a horrible tincture of fake fragility to their singing, fake conversationality, a prissy, self-aggrandizing 'vulnerability' that's monstrously arrogant. Wonky-mouthed mediocrity Ellie Goulding (even that name seems to live in a floral dress, the geek amazed at the good audition) is the exemplar of this. 'Burn' would have been a fairly emetic slice of EDM-folk in anyone's hands but with her 'broken' 'breathy' 'natural' tones it attained fresh new levels of hellishness. The only time such voices have ever been tolerable to me is when they're accompanied by a similar sense of brokenness and trauma in the production of the whole record (Lois, Lisa Germano). When, as with this Pudsey-boosting pool of piss (& the equally venal Passenger) they're backed by state-of-the-art 96-track pomposity (again masquerading as finesse) the package is a hateful, ghastly one, a song wherein you can almost hear the Zooey Deschanel rom-com unfolding in the background. This isn't just pop music, it's M&S pop music. Spurn it as you would spurn a rabid dog.

FADE
GUIDELINE/SPECTRAL FORMS
(Beta Recordings)
UGGGH, bleurggh, ouch, ouch, owww, ooyah, oooyafuckayabastaya, wonderful. Synths so distorted and paranoid it's like you're head's becoming enmeshed in a new molten metal exoskull, chords turning round every three times, never letting you rest, everything else so dementedly processed you can practically feel the e-numbers racing around behind your widening retinas. Kind of what I was hoping for after his fantastic couple of tracks on Renegade Hardware's 'Horsementality' EP but on the flip 'Spectral Forms' couldn't be a more different kettle of fish - aquatic, slippery, bubbling to the edges, liquid in only the most pleasing mercurial senses, like Prince alone in the studio got possessed by the spirit of Sam Binga. Great stuff.

FALL OUT BOY 
YOUNG VOLCANOES
(Island) 
   They have no right to do this to me.
How dare they make me feel this bad? What rotters. What meanies. What a perfectly beastly song in every way. The kind of song you want to punch in the face, repeatedly, finding the weak point in the facial structure, and then punching that spot over and over, again and again with increasing force and fury, preferably with a heavy-gauge ball bearing in your palm, until little shards of the song's nose-bone are embedded in your knuckles. Shut UP shut UP shut UP. 
Some badly dressed turds, yesterday
Fashionably unplugged acoustic oompah bollocks musically and then, vocally, that hateful thing so much 'anthemic' music does these days - that kind of soaring simpleton holler to the heavens everyone's on a ce moment (see also Bastille, Arcade Fire - who could also be blamed for starting this shit, Lumineers, Fun, Katy Perry, even Derulo now. . . ) meant I'm sure to imply/recall/become a kind of open-throated end-of-the-night wail at the wonder at the universe, coming over as the kind of hateful studenty bellowing singalong shit you scowl at from the gap in the curtains at & can't help wishing will get scooped up by the wrong kind of cab-driver, then groomed into a lifelong nightmare of white slavery and degradation i.e reality shows and reunion tours. No right at all you future botox-addicts. How dare they make me feel so bad.

GRAYSKUL ft. DJ SPARK 
COME ON  
(Fake Four Inc.)
2009's 'Graymaker' was an unsung underground monsterpiece (but way more accessible and palatable than that suggests), in 2013 Seattle crew Grayskul are ready to drop a new opus 'Zenith' from which 'Come On' forms a blistering opening salvo. Razor-sharp rhymes and beats and on the flip check the Aesop Rock-produced 'Not Going Anywhere' for some truly diseased '80s electro-funk that sinks as low down and disturbing as a John Carpenter soundtrack. Superb.


JOE 

SLOPE/MAXIMUM BUSY MUSCLE
(Hessle Audio)
LOVE 'Slope', turning from drone-dubstep (akin to Juana Molina with her strings in a twist) into bumping doom-house for the most fucked-up party of mutants imaginable, a party slowly getting vacated until all that's left is a ghost of a track, vocals squashed into a nigh-on extinct echo from a distant room in a distant sinking ship. On the flip , 'Maximum Busy Muscle' (is this planned?) fits its MBM acronym with some pulverising Meat Beat/KMFDM/Waxtrax-style electronic body rock. Like other Hemlock affiliate Randomer, Joe doesn't release much but when he does it's always compelling.

JUBEI
THE MOMENT/TIP THE SCALES
(Metalheadz)
NOT that fussed about 'The Moment' (although typically sharp rhymes from Flowdan) but definitely fussed about 'Tip The Scales' cos that man Marcus Intalex is in on the mix and this rolls and punches and snaps your shoulders as good as Hazard's 'Time Tripping' but with all trippiness wafted away by DRS' menacing vocals: ""I'm not paranoid/I'm just conscious of the consequences/How the most miniscule distractions/ can easily tip the scales/or blow the senses . . ." Amen brother.


SINGLE OF THE MONTH TWO

KK NULL & ORE 
COMPONENTS OF CIRCULATION/ DAWN OF TIME 
(Endtyme Records) 
Beautifully hung drone on 'Components Of Circulation', a medieval church organ slowly getting overtaken by brazen flying wraiths of static and fuzz that evanesce in gradually, initially spooking your peripheries eventually swooping full upon thee as the air starts to shimmer and shake and shatter like a mystical vision, snakes biting you in the pulpit. On the flip Brum duo Ore (who together with Kazuyuki Kishino who you already know from those amazing albums with James Plotkin) pepper the low-end pull and anchor of their tubas (or are they slowed-down shenais?) with frictive flickers of birdsong and a digitised oceanwave machine that eventually engulfs you. Far too good for just the bedroom. Let it make the city phantasmogoric, your walk to work an even more terrifying dawning horror than usual.


LITTLE MIX
MOVE 
(Syco/Columbia)
NICE to hear a manufactured girl band not fatally tied to retreading old motifs - 'Move' has got a sweet wee dubsteppy vibe to it and sees Little Mix finally starting to imbue their music with their own style, the style that emerges from the people involved, not a style hastily followed in hope that the con and scam will hold (see The Saturdays). This sounds like them. It's not perfect, but nor are they. Starting to really dig 'em.

MADLIB & FREDDIE GIBBS 
DEEPER EP
(Madlib Invasion)
THE title track drowns a poignant couple of string and vocal loops in an ocean of echo and dub, Freddie keeping the only semblance of flow going against the steadily engulfing sense of blissful dread. 'Harold' is even more skin-puckeringly awesome, a held moment of exquisite tension kept going for an almost-unbearable length, the beats part Outkast-party, part minimal nu-skool. As you'd imagine from these guys, absolutely vital you own this launchpad into infinity as soon as possible.


MEEK MILL
MAKE ME  
(Warners)
APPARENTLY, as he reveals on this autotuned crockashit MM's haters only 'make him worse'. Was thinking mebbe I should hold off but actually Meek it's not POSSIBLE to be worse than this. So go on fuckface, show me how bad you can get. There's no further down to go from 'Make Me' beyond the sound of paramecium flatulence and frankly even that would be preferable to this big bowl of fuck all. Gwan man. Hit your nadir.



MEFJUS & ICICLE 

CONTEMPORARY
(Critical)
BRILLIANT the way this starts with slow taps of a cymbal like it's about to launch into a collosal doom-metal riff, then explodes into vivid rubbery d'n'b life, the first drop at 1 minute palpitating your heart, the second drop at 2 and a half minutes in damn near giving you a coronary. Were I 19 again, and it's only d'n'b that makes me feel that way, this would soundtrack a walk round town variously feeling like The Man Who Fell To Earth, Robocop and Roy Batty. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die. 

MUMDANCE & LOGOS
GENESIS EP
(Keysound Recordings) 
Yeah, I initially recoiled at the first syllable too but this is entertaining stuff from Brighton based Mumdance & Logos: 'In Reverse PIV' plays naughty tricks with your expectations, bass n strings lunging forward, beats and vocals all shadow moonwalking backwards as the headlights pass them in the rain. My other faves here are the wonderfully bass-heavy, old-skool hip-hop collage of 'Wut It Do', the almost Dillinja-heavy bass tectonics of 'Turrican 2' and the unsettling dystopian funk of 'Truth'. In that order. Seek out on soundcloud. You don't need me anymore. 

MUTATED FORMS 
86 EP 
(Pilot Records) 
LONDON-based Estonian-born drum'n'bass trio Mutated Forms give us five tracks a million miles away from d'n'b, all at the bpm implied in the title. 'Swamp' is weird supra-digi trap hip-hop nagged at by truly demented synthesised scratching, the two tracks with Virus Syndicate are fantastically off-kilter bangers rhythmically touched by bhangra and death-metal and I won't even talk about the other two tracks cos I sense I'm putting you off this shit. Don't be. 

NAUGHTY BOY 

THINK ABOUT IT (TORN REMIX) 
(VIRGIN EMI )
LOOKING forward to hearing 'Hotel Cabana' when it comes out cos 'La La La' has soundtracked many an in-car moment of seated dancing with the grandkids this summer. As he's proven already, Shahid Kahn has a great ear for a hook but here, gratifyingly he lets his straight-up pop-side take a breather in the boot whilst he tools around in this fantastic chrome-plated funk beast of a production, Wiz Khalifa and Ella Eyre just sounding happy to be couched in such a fabulous interior, the mix of G-funk, Premo-heaviness and scratchy synths proving rewindably addictive by the time your ride is up. No Whitetown jokes please. Kahn is gonna be making us dance in our Hondas for some time yet.

NEED FOR MIRRORS
SLING BLADE/GRAPEFRUIT
(Dispatch)
'SLING Blade' is just astonishing, plays tricks with your head, pitches it off the flyover to the underpass where it gets burrowed into by ravenous bassworms, the beats plunging into your soft brainpan with all the delicacy of a steamhammer. Such a fat as fuck rotational stomp to the face, such bass-heavy head wreckage that every single additional shard of detail (the refracted keyboards, sudden whorls of phased horn, the skittering sliced up breaks, the rumbling sound of traffic careening somewhere below your centre of gravity) takes on a spooked oddity and power. Superb stuff. 


OBJEKT
AGNES DEMISE/FISHBONE
(Objekt Recordings)
BERLINER headcase Objekt drops a new 2-track 12". Here's his own (presumably translated) take on what he's offering here "By bursts of silence that seemed woven deafening persistent and grinding Agnes' earrings, scream, hand drill, it is that it is possible to mix, they will break the hustle and bustle, to listen to all the way from the village interruption. Did the Richard Where am I? His bed was empty. Indifferent, in the field miles away pills and his grandmother danced his vision to horrowshow beat repeatedly reckless and unrestrained cruel twist, Richard has a gruesome demise of more than 20 contorting mess the limbs of his. In the rush of his early, he had forgotten to shut the door behind him." To which I can only add, SPOT ON & fuck me 'Agnes Demise' is a gloriously unhinged racket, and the moment 3 minutes in when the chest-punching beat gives way to a shitload of sublime distortion is one of the most deeply pleasurable moments techno music has given me all year. On the flip 'Fishbone' sets up a moebius lattice of pulsating ebm and then starts piling on robo-helium voices like Joe Meek's seen his new world all over again. IN THE RUSH OF HIS EARLY. 

PLACEBO
LOUD LIKE LOVE 
(Elevator Lady Ltd., under exclusive license to Vertigo/Capitol, a division of Universal Music GmbH)
YES, just thought I'd be explicit about who's ponied up the dough. ANYHOO, though starting off with a pleasing wooshing kinda Stereolab groove fairly rapidly tragedy ensues from the usual quarters - Brian Molko's voice and lyrics. Dynamics in a horrible Biffy Clyro/Killers/ImaginaryDragons place as well. 'We are loud like love' eh? Is he . . . is he talking about . . . he's talking about fanny farts isn't he? Genuine question, I don't understand how love is loud. Explanations in a self-addressed envelope to the normal address please and a googly-eyed 'F.U.N.K' badge will be winging its way to you.


SINGLE OF THE MONTH THREE

PROBLEM CHILD 
QUICKTING
(Potentfunk Records)
PROBLEM Child are Illaman, Dubbledge & Dabbla, with production by Sumgii and 'Quickting' is the first thing I've heard by them. It's politically objectionable in all kinds of ways and lovably fucking nuts. Theremin, filthy bass, crisp vintage electro bits, derangement in the mix kicking off everytime the helium voices and queasy aggravation bleeds in on the chorus. Absolute fuckin' sickness and by several country miles the most compelling slab of madness I've heard all week. Album drops soon. Get ready for the end times.

PROFESSOR P & DJ AKILLES

BREWS AND GOOD NEWS EP
(Pro & AKHB/Ill Adrenaline Records)
'KILLING Time' featuring A.G is the highlight here, great scratches and production from Pro P & DJ Akilles, A.G bringing total authority and command to his verses. Also check out 'Lamp Posts & Neon Lights' for some reflective, sharp rhyming from Blu and a backdrop that seems to breathe and exude the rain-swept mystery of the city night. Old skool perhaps but with ever-new poetic things to say. For fans of the popular music genre known as rap, or hip-hop. 

PROJECT PAT ft. JUICY J 
BE A G
(Relativity)
MIKE Will produces this like a man possessed by a lunatic urge to drive all high-frequencies out of existence with the thickest ugliest bass sound he can find. Don't ask questions, just enjoy.

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING
NIGHT MAIL 
(Testcard Recordings)
UPDATE MY ECOFASHIONBLOG BUT JEEBUS Hyperion Christ - excuse me, is this a joke? I mean, I know Edith 'Fully, Some Might Say Exhaustively Exploring the Lucrative Role Of Ignoramus As Career Option For Over A Decade Now' Bowman digs 'em but . . . is this a joke? Public Service Broadcasting, as their Target Audience Profile indicates, create music best suited for the triumphal & emotional closing sequence of 'D.I.Y. SOS With Nick Knowles', a spod-u-like tour around a barrage of modern studio equipment all done with thorough and charmless competence and an almost inhuman disinterest, whilst cut-ins of John Grierson reading Auden's 'Night Mail' swim in and out of the mix for a totally unfathomable purpose. Some of my nearest & dearest love PSB but, them excused (they're bigger than me, that's why I hang out with them), only the cloth headed could consider this 'interesting' let alone grant PSB's avowed purpose of 'teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future' any credulity. This is 'music of the future' in the same way that Paul Hardcastle's '19' 'literally ended the Vietnam war'. Shitehawks to be sure. None of them should receive a heroes welcome. None of them, n-n-n-none of them. 


SINGLE OF THE MONTH FOUR

RAHIEM DEVAUGHN 
MAKE EM LIKE YOU 
(Mass Appeal Entertainment)
Lovely, bass heavy, slo-mo psychedelic soul from Rahiem, somewhere triangulated tween D'Angelo, Prince & Outkast. The voice that's been 16-rpm'd to a crawl and the skanking organ, the surprising gloriously open-ended chord changes and the stuck-in-a-mud groove make 'Make Em' into a slab of darkness akin to New Kingdom trying to break into the panty-peeling quiet-storm market. Superb lo-end romance to be played end to end with the Butthole surfers. Me very much like.

ROBBIE WILLIAMS
GO GENTLE
(iTunes)
THE bleating cowardice of the regretful Redcoat, the remorseful clown. Robbie wants to slip into the calm places inbetween our entirely justified loathing of him, here reduces his voice to as anodyne and smooth a place as Roger Whittaker (he even fkn whistles!), his lyrics shorn of the usual dumpkopf pith and punnery and buzzword sloganeering, the arrangement committed to safely couching him amidst the Matt Monros and Frankie Vaughans of all our easy-listening yesterdays. Unfortunately, even listening to the pure audio without any imagery you can't shake that fucking Chris Evans smirk from your vision, that simpering neediness that is not just his default facial setting but also the bedrock of his soul. You've got all the money. Now fuck off and spend it, and don't come back until you're willing to fall apart more publically, more disastrously, more shamefully than you ever have before. Bald, naked, pissing-and-shitting-yourself on X-factor style shame please. It is, right now, pretty much all you're ever going to be good for. 

SINGLE OF THE MONTH FIVE
RUN THE JEWELS 
GET IT 
(FOOLS GOLD)

RUN the Jewels are Killer Mike and EL-P and you can imagine what a freaked-out slab of frabjous fuckery this is: 'Get It' impacts the head with a bleak harshness to the synthetic textures balanced beautifully by the sheer chunky joy of the 808 beats and looming vistas of smeared bass that drag everything to a primitive-futurist nadir devoutly to be wished. The album also features Prince Paul and Big Boi and should be one of the highlights/blowbacks of the whole winter. Absolutely essential.

SHABAAM-SHADEEQ 

SEASONS CHANGE/RELAX
(King Underground)
"I'M lightyears ahead of your thoughts kid" — Sahdeeq's skills you should be familiar with from his work with Polyrhythm Addicts, Lewis Parker's production smarts you should know from . . . what the hell you still doing here? The sumptuous, smoky, addictive 'Seasons Change' is taken from the forthcoming SS album 'Keepers of the Lost Art', on the flip of this check out 'Relax' for a truly lunatic few verses and then keep 'em peeled for the LP in the New Year.

SONNYJIM & KOSYNE
THE DEATH DEFYING SAGA
(Eat Good Records)
THE first single from the Sonnyjim & Kosyne debut EP 'It's About Time', highlarious rhyming, astonishing headnodic production from Kelakovsk. The EP also features production from Apatight & Dag Nabit, and is totally free to download from Sonny or Ko's Bandcamp pages now. One of these days someone's gonna come up to Birmingham and make these people the international superstars they deserve to be. Until then, find, download, share the shit out of this brilliance.

TAYLOR SWIFT ft. GARY LIGHTBODY
THE LAST TIME
(Big Machine)
I'M guessing you can imagine just how abhorrent this is, even worse than that Ed Sh**ran collaboration. Happen to think Taylor Swift has a good (and tougher/more touching than you might think) voice but a voice that reached its zenith with the held-hard distorted note in the chorus of 'Trouble' and has done nothing as good since. Gary Lightbody on the other hand has a totally revolting voice, and a totally revolting 'way with a tune' as well, and they come together in truly dreadful ways on 'The Last Time' together with that arch-architect of adult-pop horror Jacknife Lee (U2, Snow Patrol). I think the placement of this track on 'Red' is meant to signify that Swift is now ready to 'step up' to a 'more mature' sound. Though hopeful that local commercial radio won't playlist such a dull new direction, (and knowing that Radio 'Former Paedophiles Sanctuary' 1 almost certainly will) I can only beg, please Lord, let me not have to listen to any of it. 

THE STRYPES
CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK
(Virgin/EMI)
EXTREMELY reminiscent for me of Bridges, the band the Enemy could gave been before they got their music airbrushed and their egos sphincter-locked on to airhoses. Would probably enjoy them live if stumbled across, pissed. See absolutely no reason on earth to listen to their music through choice, sober. Neither heavy enough to be enjoyable nor nuanced enough to do anything but make you yearn for Bo's magic and heat, The Strypes should still be safe, armed as they are with plenty of jaded pre-emptive apologists, ready with arguments about how 'energy' and 'fun' is all that matters, conning themselves that they're not essentially engaged in the same kind of vintage 'thrills'/sloppy seconds as yer Michael Buble or Jamie Cullum fans. Hope the shtick holds for 'em, and if it doesn't, someone throw a cordon around them before Warners come knocking with silly money, shit sportswear and a load of cack 'anthems' about the mean streets of Cavan. They're only bairns. Leave 'em be you preverts (sic) & monsters. 

TERMANOLOGY
YOU AIN'T SAFE 
(Brick Records)
MOST emphatically not for the club. For that guy down your street that you see through his window hitting a punchbag into the wee smalls. Survivalist, scary shit. Me like.


WU TANG CLAN 
EXECUTION IN AUTUMN
(Soul Temple Entertainment) 
FANTASTICALLY dank, squalid production from Frank Dukes, norralot to it but what there is accumulates a head of black steam beautifully, occassionally giving way to strange funkless moments of static arrhythmia, typically engrossing verbals from RZA, U-God, Rae & Deck. Fingers crossed, necks snapped that this is just an offcut from a new album soon-come. See you in the bleak midwinter. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

ELLIOTT SMITH: 'From A Basement On The Hill' review, 2004

(originally printed in Plan B Magazine)


Elliott Smith
From A Basement On The Hill
(Domino)
   It’s shocking how angry beauty can make you feel. Dug out Elliott Smith and Roman Candle t’other day: first time in a long time, left me messed up and twisted again. It was perhaps the first time I’ve really absorbed Elliott’s death. Tears (which prove nothing except perhaps my sentimentality) did come, as did furywith the fucker for leaving so soon. The songs on those two records detail a boy becoming a man; the dual pulls of living, the endless journey within and without. These songs suggested a way of living with love and loss that Smith could perhaps negotiate. In contrast, From A Basement On The Hill is one long hymn to disappearance. And the fact that Smith finally made real what this album suggests is a heartbreaking paradox: that this is his most successful work of art and that it had to be his last.


   You feel that Smith was finally able to vanish into his music, and hit that divine point where words and meaning are half obscured by the sheer arresting push’n’pull of his band and their noise. So, the ostensibly barnstorming opener ‘Coast To Coast’ still emerges from a drone chamber and fades into radio static. These are all pop songs under stress, under threat, driven out to you by pressure and by chance. It’s not just the lyrics on ‘Let’s Get Lost’ that make plain Smith’s urge to evaporate – the music itself contains a heavenly trajectory, a desire to snip the gravitational umbilicus and join the dark matter of the cosmos.
   Always such a pretty racket, always with the balance and Brownian ethereality of a true angel, Smith has made his music more chaotic, more elegiac and more implosive. Yet he has actually sharpened his songwriting beyond the confines of conciseness or indulgence. ‘Pretty (Ugly Before)’ and ‘Don’t Go Down’ have their own pace and pulse, bringing to life their own reality and rules. When Smith rocks now, there’s no vague distaste in his vocal. He throws himself into the fuzz of ‘Strung Out Again’ and the amazing triple-track delay fest of ‘Shooting Star’, flailing against the electricity. His ability to change his vocal persona (from T Rex to Bowie to Arthur Lee back to Mr Smith) always makes it seem like each melodic twist is spontaneously brought into being. Throughout, Smith doesn’t sing ‘over’ tracks. Instead, the songs sing him, the band swinging under his breath. Whenever From A Basement… slips into silence, your mind races up ladders, which, together with his emotive control, are testament to a man surely only just exploring how good and godlike he could be. And herein lies the anger.


   ‘A Fond Farewell’ presses you up close, a dear friend giving you a last ambiguous shred of contact. Then you scroll down the sleeve and see: “Copyright 2004, The Estate Of Elliott Smith” and your guts lurch. Bastard. What makes you spit feathers isn’t just the clear signs that Smith had further to go; what makes his loss so infuriating is that songs as beautiful as ‘Twilight’ or ‘A Passing Feeling’ seem so indestructible, even as you know their creator has fallen into a silent unknowable eternity. This record is as addictive as seeing a medium after a bereavement – one that only really reveals its full impact as From A Basement On The Hill latches onto your soul. Painkiller? And pain giver. Oh Elliott, you’ve got me all messed up and twisted again.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

BLONDE REDHEAD, Live Review, Plan B Magazine, 2005

09:21 Posted by neil kulkarni , No comments
Pic by Becky Ross 

Blonde Redhead 
The Social, Nottingham
I let my daughter do my make-up tonight. She has a delicate touch, combined with an innate understanding of excessive face paint and its ability to charm and to declare war. She smears my lids with metallic shadow and turns my mouth into a pouting, pink, puffed-up pot of farting putty. After showering me in glitter she leads me outside for her friends to laugh at, but they look palpably traumatised. I expect Social Services will be informed.
   In the rear-view on the M69, I turn myself on. I’m driving to a different town, one where the women outnumber the men, to watch Blonde Redhead, and I just want to look how they make me feel. Hell, they made me try again – I need this band. So much of my obsession with them is in their look, and they look like they could be the most beautiful band in the world tonight. And so much of my obsession with them is their music, their wild romance and bitter awareness of love’s confinements. I love them like I love F Scott Fitzgerald, because there’s that same intimacy and instinct with words. They have the same directness; that sense of artistry becoming one with the heart rather than throwing up walls around it.
   Tonight, the older songs work for me as a remembrance of my personality flaws past, tracks from Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons and In An Expression Of The Inexpressible (the album that kicked off this affair) putting a ferocity into a gaze that I had been too weary to keep up anymore. Songs from the more recent Misery Is A Butterfly, particularly a stunning ‘Elephant Woman’ and ‘Anticipation’, crashland with you on your current conveyor belt to God. These songs are more at ease with the waste of their beauty, the poignant inadequacy of each gorgeous shard under the weight of the cosmos. Beyond the look and beyond the lineage lies the key to Blonde Redhead’s real ambiguity. It’s in the mixing of the eternal themes from within with the brittle precarious shell that surrounds. Crushed love songs that draw their power from a dead-eyed realisation of their own inability to save Blonde Redhead.
   When Kazu sings there is no sense of exorcism or deliverance. The only redemption going on here is entirely selfish, the knowledge that, as you cast yourself into the flames, your body found walking on air at the end of a rope will be a body finally loved again. As such, Blonde Redhead send me buzzing back home. I feel like they’re watching me now, checking on their believers, making sure none of us slip – they are ultimately suicidal music in the truest, non-gothic, non-obvious sense and for that I applaud them and need them like water and cigarettes and a routine. As safety valve, as magic mirror, as a journey into the secret world of everything you’ve ever known. My life’s untenable without them.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

FAUST - FAUST IV album review, Plan B magazine 2005


Faust
Faust IV (Virgin)
All you end up doing when talking about so much Seventies music is butting your head against the fact that things just can’t sound this charged with naive wonder and innovative reach any more. It ain’t just that rock is getting explored or expanded here, it’s more that its essential limitations are being mapped out so thoroughly, and within songs that are so untutoredly unhinged in content and construction that current rock ‘experimentation’ can’t help sounding like the spoddish trailchasing it usually is. Faust, Neu!, Can, La Dusseldorf, Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Harmonia, Cluster – these bands are stars, events in the firmament seemingly as freewheeling and chaotic as a supernova, yet with an chemical and astrophysical coherence you could spend a lifetime decoding.
   So as ever, listening to Faust, especially on this beautifully remastered reissue of their 1973 swansong, is entirely inspirational, but only in that one would hope music could still be made with this generous vanguard spirit. I never wanna hear a record try and sound like this ever again. I hope this is heard by hip hop producers, grime MCs and doom-metal bands. And I hope post-rock pootlers only hear it to be reminded of why they should have given up a decade before most of them were born. Faust were there, more beautifully, more melodically, more soulfully and sweetly than anyone since.
   The original album sounds startlingly fresh.‘Krautrock’ is pure magic enacted on the brain. But I’d forgotten just what a great rubbery skank ‘The Sad Skinhead’ is, and just what a gorgeous weft of wonder ‘Jennifer’ is, how it stands up to anything off Neu! 75, how it destroys its legion of copyists in subtlety and that headwreckin’ warpyweft of overdriven drone. And we haven’t even got time here to go into the lurid Herzog psychodrama of ‘Just A Second/Picnic/Deuxieme Tableaux’, the Monks-style rattle and belief of ‘Giggly Smile’, or the gorgeous Cantebury cosmonautics of ‘Lauft’ and ‘It’s A Bit Of A Pain’. Just hear them.
   The extra CD pulls together three of the Peel Session tracks (the mindblowing delay-funk of ‘Lurcher’ sits uncannily well with those Miles’ ‘Cellar Door’ sessions currently threatening to swallow up the year, while ‘Do So’ sounds like the fucking Zombies!) and six unreleased tracks recorded by Uwe Nettelbeck. The alternate takes of the bulk of IV are intriguing (and in the case of ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Just A Second’ debatably even better than the originals) but the never-before-heard ‘Piano Piece’ is a shimmering breeze that’s redolent of that heartstopping last minute of the Stones ‘Moonlight Mile’ and prefigures Eno/Fripp’s ‘Evening Star’ by a good couple of years. Ever ahead but crucially taking your hand tenderly every step of the way. Make a pact with all of this soon.