TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS
by Neil March (Edition 12, 5th October 2018)
DAYS ARE GETTING DARKER & SO IS THE MUSIC!!
Autumn has officially arrived and as the nights draw in and the days become darker so it is for much of the month’s new music. But in a good way obviously!
✦ VANISHING POINT VOL. 1: Crowdfunder for Groundbreaking Album
✦ JOCKSTRAP: Outstanding debut single from British duo
✦ KATE CARR: Australian-born UK-based Sound Artist in serious demand
✦ CHOLLY: Demerara Records’ new signing gears up for her new EP release
✦ A MOTION FOR CONTROL: Cholly-featured track flies into Fresh Faves
✦ PROJECT BLACKBIRD: Wise words, cool sounds & glorious harmonies
✦ MR EKOW: British Hip Hop artist tackles the personal to soulful backdrop
✦ VANISHING POINT: October’s VP sees four distinct act take the stage
✦ PAUL F COOK: How his experimental track has taken 6 Music by storm
✦ UNCLASSIFIED: Elizabeth Alker’s returning show sets new standards
✦ TWM MORYS: Welsh Poet explains a 700 year tradition of singing to cows
✦ JAMES HOLDEN: From 90s Trance to trance-inducing Experimentalism
Welcome to the slightly late and shorter-than-usal Edition 12 of Trust The Doc. Apologies for the delay but I have had a full-on time with gigs, recording, mastering etc plus curating and releasing a compilation album and launching a crowdfunding campaign. All this in a week when the British Library have asked to archive my life’s work as a composer and music artist. So that’s the excuses out of the way. What then do we have in store for you in Edition 12? Well it’s a real mixed bag of styles, genres, events and reviews.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
I have to start with the Vanishing Point (Vol. 1) compilation which I feel genuinely privileged to have curated and released on my Demerara Records label. Privileged because not only do we have a stellar line-up of artists from the experimental, ambient, contemporary classical, electronic and sound art scene(s) but every one of them has made such an effort to provide a top-notch track for the album. That is why I have no qualms about calling it a groundbreaking (as in there has never been anything quite like it) album and one that is well worth paying to download from Bandcamp between now and its November release. Anyone who does will get a CD copy in November and will be contributing to our crowdfunder, helping pay to press CDs, meet associated costs and enable the artists to get paid something, modest or otherwise.
For details of this project and how you can contribute to the crowdfunder log onto https://www.demerararecords.com/vanishing-point.
One artist involved with the album is paulfcook. I have already raved about his superb Mater Gloria in a previous edition but it is his Blues Man which has taken first the Fresh on the Net Listening Post and then Tom Robinson himself by storm. Tom played it on his Saturday night show on BBC Radio 6 Music and then explained the reasons why he loved the track. So do I. A real gem and so original too. The track uses a recording of a drunk harmonica-toting guy ranting about being a Bluesman and playing his harmonica badly. Paul had kept the recording for 11 years before deciding to build an instrumental track around the spliced up recording, adding multiple guitars and basses plus a squelchy crackling drumbeat and enough reverb to turn sagging harmonica blasts into something quite haunting and dark. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to it at https://soundcloud.com/paulfcook/blues-man
Turning to the album itself it would be unfair to single out any track in particular when everyone has so comprehensively stepped up to the plate. So let me just whet your appetite by telling you that the artist line-up [in track order] is Rothko; Ben Vince; TIC; paulfcook; Half Hour at the Hilton; Cholly; Gagarin; Jon Samson; Hwyl Nofio; Joshan Mahmud; Far Rainbow; Environmental Sound Foundatioon ft. Dilara; Kevin Buckland; Rookery; Brent Jackson; Precocious Mouse; Unangelic Voices (aka Kerry JK) & Neil March. If you are a regular reader of TTD you will know I have given great reviews to pretty much everyone on that list (including my recent Fresh on the Net article about the experimental scene). So to get them all together on one album is pretty exciting.
I also need to mention the amazing UK-based Australian Sound Artist Kate Carr (https://soundcloud.com/katecarr) whose works I have become aware of thanks to the ever-reliable Late Junction on BBC Radio 3. Kate has helpfully put the entire new album with the fantastic title I ended out moving to Brixton on her Soundcloud page where the listener is able to lose him/herself in the beautiful evocative soundscapes with all their echoes of urban life and combining of pure ambience and pure musical invention. At times the sounds she has recorded are disarmingly similar to those I have also recorded and used on my own recordings. But I guess that is simply London! For me she is one of the most original and individual composer-artists in contemporary music and sound and is doing an effortlessly amazing job of ignoring the invisible and unnecessary barriers between the different disciplines she operates within.
There was an interesting edition of Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) recently which featured former Trance pioneer James Holden explaining how he developed the basic principles of Trance to build a more leftfield experimental music but one that retains Trance-influenced features and principles. This really chimed with me; not least because I still remember arguing back in the nineties that Trance had an undeniable connection to contemporary art music and being told by many of my musicians friends that I was, in essence, talking bollocks! Holden has come along way since the excitement and energy of 1999’s Horizons and his 2017 set The Animal Spirits places him at the forefront of the new experimentalism in which the concept of trance has taken on a whole new meaning.
As reported in Edition 11, September saw the very welcome return to our radio of Elizabeth Alker’s superb show Unclassified and Elizabeth wasted no time in cooking up a lavish musical storm (albeit a calm one in the main) which, in its first three weeks back on BBC Radio 3’s late Sunday night slot, has already included music by the likes of Anna Meredith, Hannah Peel, Rachel Grimes, Aphex Twin, Portico Quartet, Sarah Davachi, Lucy Claire, Gazelle Twin, Laura Cannell, Mark Pritchard and others. More gems to follow this Sunday coming no doubt.
Not strictly Folk really but I was so glad that, by chance, I caught a programme on BBC Radio 3 (just before an edition of Late Junction) in which Welsh Bard Twm Morys explained about a 700 year old tradition of Shepherds singing specific songs to their cows to help calm them down and make them more compliant. He even talked about observing the way the cows became spaced out and their eyes fluttered at these particular songs. How true or otherwise it is that certain songs affect the cows so markedly, it was refreshing to actually hear this unique and oddly powerful music.
Huw Stephens is well established as BBC Radio’s new [pop] music Kingmaker and it was interesting to hear him standing in for Mary Anne Hobbs on the BBC Radio 6 Music Weekend Breakfast show. One of the bands he is tipping is the unique and appealing female/male duo Jockstrap whose new single Hayley (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4vgDTXhwrE&start_radio=1&list=RDi4vgDTXhwrE) immediately had my full attention. It was the combination of rolling synth chords, pleasant yet seriously dark delivery of socially observational lyrics [in the form of an imagined sequel to a Louis Theroux documentary] and the undeniable hazy but infectious hook. You can’t hide from a song that stands out for all the right reasons and this one does. If there is any justice [and I realise there frequently isn’t] this will be huge … and I am talking a MONSTER hit.
September saw the reopening of the BBC 6 Music Mixtape/Fresh on the Net uploader and, as I mentioned in Edition 11, there was inevitably a deluge for the first few weeks as all the impatient artists scrambled to get their new tracks in at probably the strategically worst possible time when competition was at its fiercest. I mean, we do try to warn people but do they listen? Lol! Not really! Still, one plus side was that us moderators got to hear a lot of seriously top tunes.
Among them was Mr Ekow’s (https://soundcloud.com/mrchrisekow) No Man’s Land, a track which I was disappointed that my fellow mods didn’t join me in voting for and thus the Listening Post audience were denied the opportunity to hear it and judge for themselves. But that is part of what makes being a moderator fun and fascinating. We all hear things differently. For me his intelligent, sensitive handling of a difficult subject set to a soulful Hip Hop backdrop and moments of R’n’B smoothness was really appealing. I am especially proud of how British rappers and urban music artists have led the way in dealing with complex personal issues of sexuality, mental health etc. Mr Ekow is a talented individual with plenty to say. Let’s give him a chance to be listened to.
It was a good month at the FOTN Listening Post for the super talented Cholly (https://www.soundcloud.com/chollyhappymusic) who I featured last time out. First her fantastic slice of organic-turning-electronic Alt Pop Lonely first made the Listening Post and then only missed out on the Fresh Faves by a single vote. Then she teamed up with her partner Conor (aka A Motion for Control https://soundcloud.com/motionforcontrol) on the rockier Plainview and this time made it to the Listening Post and the Fresh Faves. Cholly has also contributed the dark brooding Alt Pop/Experimental track One a Day to the aforementioned Vanishing Point (Vol. 1) compilation. And the really exciting news is that Demerara Records will be releasing her forthcoming EP. Can’t wait.
Second overall in the Fresh Faves that same week were the sophisticated Pop practitioners Project Blackbird (https://soundcloud.com/user-587333698) whose life-affirming spoken word verse/harmony-filled chorus anthem Elevation was instantly adorable and, in an ideal world, would be a major hit. I am pleased to say I will also be reviewing their album in Edition 13.
At the time of writing I am preparing to write up the Fresh Faves reviews as it is my turn again so, while it would be quite wrong to me to single out any of the tracks at this weekend’s Listening Post, I can tell you the standard of competition has been strong all week and whichever ten tracks make the cut it’s going to be a joy to review them.
AND FINALLY …..
My times and dates have got all out of sync after an insanely busy period so this is now a week late being published and realistically Edition 13 will not come out until the end of October now. But it will have some album reviews and other interesting features including a review of Tom Robinson Band’s gig at the Shepherd Bush Empire. So as always, watch this space. Thanks for reading, everyone. Neil xxxxxx