TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS
by Neil March (Edition 27, 31st May 2019)
Welcome to Edition 27 of Trust The Doc. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page - https://facebook.com/TrustTheDoc - and if you don’t already do so, please follow both @Hornetmuziq & @DemeraraRecords on Twitter. I will of course follow you back. This edition introduces a new feature - Trust The Doc Classic - linking the old to the new in music!
✦ VANISHING POINT: The Demerara Records Showcase looms!
✦ DEMERARA RECORDS: Wot? Another Showcase in a stunning venue?
✦ LINEAR OBSESSIONAL: Day Two of the Linear Ob Festival
✦ ANNEA LOCKWOOD: Field recordings inspired by rivers
✦ ANONYMOUS MALIAN FIELD RECORDINGS: Music of the Ganges
✦ RYAN PORTER: Kamasi’s Trombonist extraordinaire with solo set
✦ GREAT WHITE LIES: Unclassifiable Jazz-Pop from Irish combo
✦ DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA: Master of Indian Slide Guitar Music
✦ ANNANDI BHATTACHARYA: Next generation of talented Indian family
✦ AKA BAND: Virtuosic trio from Italy, Senegal and Brazil with new track
✦ YE VAGABONDS: Refreshing Irish Folk from talented brothers
✦ TTD CLASSIC: A new feature of an old classic that links to new music
✦ MARI DANGERFIELD: Anglo-Portugese artist with unique pop vision
✦ BECCA JAMES: Impressive debut from Newcastle singer-songwriter
✦ PROJECT BLACKBIRD: Another soulful groover with tasty trumpet too
✦ KOHLA: Another fine LNFG signing aided & abetted by an existing one
✦ KING IBEX: Welsh Alt Rockers kick back at today’s manufactured pap
✦ DEVON: Forest of Dean Firepower flies out of the speakers at you
✦ DESMERELDA: Creative contrasting Punk Powerpop from the Capital
✦ DIRK SCARLETT: Walsall artist with infectious Alt Pop & Rock choons
✦ SUDS: Peterborough Quartet back with another fiery Alt Pop cracker
✦ OCTOPUS: Clever and engaging Indie music from Manchester
✦ FRAGILE CREATURES: Another intriguing original band from Brighton
✦ JAMESZOO & METROPOLE ORKEST: Stunning orchestrated Electronica
Well folks, before I get into individual reviews there are two forthcoming events to tell you about and the second half of a festival I reported on in Edition 26. Also I reviewed an amazing gig by TTD favourites Kongo Dia Ntotila for Fresh on the Net. You can read it at https://freshonthenet.co.uk/2019/05/kongodiantotila/.
VANISHING POINT @ THE IVY HOUSE
First up is the next Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House in Nunhead, Peckham, South East London. It takes place from 7.45PM to 10.45PM on Thursday 6th June. And it is the first time we have had all three of the acts I manage through Demerara Records on the same bill in the stunning Twin Peaks Roadhouse atmosphere of London’s only communally-owned bar and music venue.
Headlining is the amazing singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cholly (https://soundcloud.com/chollyhappymusic/lonely-1). Cholly has had a whirlwind seven or eight months since she first flew into the Fresh on the Net Fresh Faves last Autumn. Two further appearances later along with airplay from BBC Introducing in the West, BBC Introducing in Herts, Bucks & Beds, Union Jack Radio, Exile FM, Conquest Radio and various others, she has recently released the fantastic EP Ruminations. The video for Adores was recently screened at the Swindon Film Festival and she has also provided the most played and streamed track on the Demerara Records Vanishing Point (Vol . 1) compilation album. Quite a body of evidence as to why you should want to see her live.
Josie (https://soundcloud.com/user-143110329/wish-you-had-said) is Demerara Records’ newest signing and brings a fresh singer-songwriter element to our roster. Just 20, Josie is just finishing year one of a composition and production degree course at the University of Hertfordshire and, having observed her development over two to three years, she is continuously hitting higher standards of writing and arranging while her voice is getting better and more composed all the time too. She has been gigging regularly this year and is itching to showcase her music at the beautiful Ivy House. Josie is from Wingrave in Bucks and this will be her first solo set at a London venue.
Regular readers will know I’m one half of Environmental Sound Foundation (https://soundcloud.com/e-s-foundation/sets/environmental-sound-foundation) along with the inimitable and irrepressible Dilara. Fortunately her youthful energy and compelling performance art more than make up for my comparitively static presence on piano and synth! Dilara is an amazing singer, poet and performer too. ESF have been gigging for a year and have been played on BBC Radio 6 Music, Amazing Radio, Exile FM, Radio Dacorum, Conquest Radio, RKC, XTended Radio, Lonely Oak Radio, Radio Wigwam and others. The response to our newly released, eponymously titled EP has been amazing. ESF are local to the Ivy House too and this will be our fourth time at Vanishing Point since becoming a duo.
The only non-Demerara Records artist on the bill is talented young Welshman Jaffro (https://soundcloud.com/jaffroofficial/to-soar). Based in West London, he is an experimental musician who mixes live electronics with unusual uses of Violin, Ukulele and Synth. He also has a wonderful singing voice and performs some tracks in Welsh. Having seen him live when he was on the same bill as Dilara and I at Linear Obsessional earlier this year, I can tell you he is a bit special.
Get tickets (£6 advance/£8 door) from https://demerararecords.com/vanishing-point
DEMERARA RECORDS SHOWCASE @ CAFE 1001
I am stoked to be promoting my first label showcase at the stunning new venue upstairs in Cafe 1001, opposite Rough Trade East on Thursday 20th June (7.30PM - 11PM). The showcase actually involves two bands from the label and two who are not on the label but are awesome.
One of those is Blu:M (https://soundcloud.com/pillarartistspr/tiny-break-of-light). Recently voted into the Fresh Faves, their brand of dynamically contrasting, driving Indie Rock is so impressive as this fantastic track shows.
Also on the bill for the showcase is the amazing and highly original Pixi Ink (https://soundcloud.com/carla-jane-duffy/how-evergreen). Her unique form of electronic alt pop is amply demonstrated here.
The other acts on the bill are the aforementioned ESF (who will open the gig) and Cholly who will go on after Pixi Ink and before Blu:m.
Get tickets (£6 advance/£8 door) from https://demerararecords.com/showcase
LINEAR OBSESSIONAL FESTIVAL (PART TWO)
In Edition 26, I reported on the first day of the 2019 Linear Obessional Festival in Manor Park, Lewisham in South East London. The following Sunday saw part two which combined outdoor stuff in the park itself with a late afternoon gig in the Arts Cafe.
The highlight of the early afternoon entertainment, which also included a live percussionist and other individual elements, was a performance by the Hither Green Drone Orchestra (https://www.facebook.com/events/385342318733990/) led by Linear Obsessinal’s leader and accordionist Richard Sanderson and including some of the musicians who also perform at Lin. Ob gigs. It was a perfect sound for the relaxing outdoor atmosphere with its gradually evolving ambience that found space for microtonal harmony and fluid chordal variations. The combination of multiple timbres (strings of varying kinds, keyboards of the accordion-melodian variety, sax, trumpet & other items) really worked and the appreciative audience which had gathered in the park clearly agreed.
The Arts Cafe section of the day’s entertainment included six acts. Tigersonic, playing her first gig without a laptop, played bass guitar against a backdrop of pre-recorded sounds on cassette tape. The performance and overall soundscape were atmospheric and inventive.
Phil Durrant performed a solo electronic set using, I think, laptop and mixer (Phil can correct me if I got that slightly wrong) to create a gradually building soundscape, patiently adding small alterations in a fluid almost post-minimalist way that made for compelling listening. It was impressive and dynamic.
Blanc Sceol (aka Hannah White and Stephen Shiell) mixed electronics with enigmatic vocal (part whispered, part improv) to create a deliciously disturbing and dystopian aura, yet one that was strangely tranquil.
My personal favourite (and no disrespect to the others) was probably Nick Doyne-Ditmas. The Charles Hayward collaborator played solo with bass guitar and voice (and literally no other sounds). Kicking off with the most original rendition of the Walker Brothers’ classic [and farewell hit] No Regrets he demonstrated how being one seriously funky dude with a nicely grainy singing voice could lift the verses and then by playing chords on the upper strings, a contrasting mood could underline the song’s beautiful chorus. His own material was strong too, lyrically (and he did pay tribute to the woman who writes his words) clever and melodically strong. You have to be one heck of a bass guitarist to pull off what he did …. and he did!
The most amusing act came in the form of Trombone Poetry, a solo artist who, not unreasonably, combines playing the trombone with reading poetry. His dry Mancunian delivery and extremely clever humour were matched by moments of great poignancy too. Like all the best poets, he is an observationist and those observations can take on anger, amusement and sheer appreciation of beauty in equal measure. His playing was cool too. All in all very entertaining.
I must apologise that I only caught part of the final set by Wood, one that involved real piano, not usually heard at a Lin Ob gig. What I heard was interesting and inventive but, for personal reasons, I needed to abort my trip earlier than planned. Nevertheless it had been a good day, a great chance to see lots of friendly faces and have the intriguing music and sound take my mind off events elsewhere for the afternoon.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
Annea Lockwood (https://www.annealockwood.com/) is a New Zealander who moved to London in 1961 (aged 22). Her field recordings relating to rivers were the theme on a recent edition of Late Junction (BBC Radio 3). There were three back to back tracks - Lake Tear of the Clouds, Mt. Marcy - The Source, Elevation 4.332 feet, Calamity Brook, Mt. Marcy - A Tributary & bayou-borne, for Pauline (excerpt) - all combining ambient sounds and lovingly crafted Sound Art creations. She also recently exhibited her work in a mix of live performances and sound installations at Cafe OTO in Hackney, East London. I wasn’t able to attend but I spoke with a friend and fellow musician who did and was clearly blown away.
Unusually for Trust The Doc, I also feel moved to review an anonymously recorded track! The track is called Mantras/Coach Bell and Drums and is based on a mystical ambient field recording which I belive was made in Mali. It is from the album called Ganga: The Music of the Ganges (from the Himalayas to the Gulf of Bengal). I hope to find time to check out the album in greater detail soon.
This isn’t strictly new music in as much as it actually came out last year but Ryan Porter (https://worldgalaxyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-optimist) is the outstanding trombonist whose contribution to Kamasi Washington’s classic Harmony of Difference EP was immeasurably huge. So when I discovered he had released a solo album entitled The Optimist I had to check it out. I am glad I did as it not only demonstrates all the different registers, timbres, textures and dynamics he is able to achieve with such effortless virtuosity and composure on the trombone but it also highlights his considerable skills as a composer and arranger too.
And as if that isn’t enough, he also has Kamasi and many of the musicians from his band playing on the album. Why this isn’t getting more attention is anyone’s guess but, as highlighted by the modal chords, fluid rhythms, open fourths and fifths and non-indulgent improv shows, along with plenty of switches in mood, tempi and style, this is a thoroughly accomplished and contemporary work.
I am very impressed by the unique Irish band Great White Lies (https://soundcloud.com/great-white-lies) whose unclassifiable exploration of Jazz combined with experimental Pop is an absolute breath of fresh air. Led by singer and writer Siobhán Shiels and made up of ‘jazz players, choral singers and soulful musicians’, their eponymously titled EP demonstrates a love of fluid piano chords interlocking with double bass and drums to create a free-flowing rhythmic undercurrent for strong vocals and harmonies. These elements are in plentiful supply on Fear while
Sunday Shapes is sparser and poppier, what sounds like tenor sax crackling and popping over an ascending-descending piano figure and sudden changes of mood and tempo. Mishe Le is slower and sits in ballad territory. There is a classical element here but it is also very soulful, helped by stunning backing vocals. It is truly beautiful music that is not a million miles from another TTD favourite Muriel & Blazquez. It certainly amplifies the breadth of GWL’s musical landscape.
WORLD IN UNION
It was great to hear the incredible Indian Slide Guitar music of Dhebashish Bhattacharya (http://thenestcollective.co.uk/artist/debashish-bhattacharya/) on Cerys Matthews’s show on BBC 6 Music. It wasn’t a new track. In fact it was from a 2008 album but it was new to me and probably will be new to some Trust The Doc readers too. Gypsy Anandi is free-flowing, tuneful and the slide playing never lapses into self-indulgence. Its unusual beauty gripped me and I felt obliged to stay rooted to the spot until it ended. He is touring in 2019 so could be a chance to check his skills out live.
A week later and Cerys played the above artist’s daughter Annandi Bhattacharya (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsSX1QTkX0w) who has been called ‘the voice of modern India’ [so no pressure there then!]. Cerys played the track Radha Enraptured (Soi Lo) which gave us a stunning demonstration of Annandi’s haunting, beautiful voice set against Indian string and percussion sounds and a mystical evocative soundscape. Clearly a talented family!
AKA Trio (https://www.aka-trio.com/) actually came to my attention via Mark Radcliffe’s Folk Show on BBC Radio 2 but I felt they probably just about belonged in this section since the track is a piece of beautifully played instrumental duelling guitars and percussion music entitled l Bambino e l'Aquilone which even my limited Spanish tells me has something to do with a baby! AKA Trio are actually UK-based and they are two virtuoso guitarists and one amazing percussionist - Antonio Forcione, Seckou Keita and Adriano Adewale - and they hail respectively from Italy, Senegal and Brazil.
In session with Mark Radcliffe on the aforementioned Folk Show were Dubliners Ye Vagabonds (http://www.yevagabonds.com/) who played some beautiful and engaging contemporary Folk infused with organic sounds and strong voices. They are brothers Brian and Diarmuid MacGloinn and have been performing for about seven years now.
You can hear them play three live session tracks if you catch the podcast before it expires. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000572q
TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC
This is a new feature which I intend making permanent from hereon. I write about so much new music and I cite reference points and influences but I rarely talk about great past tracks and artists who have had a significant influence (direct or indirect) on today’s music. This edition’s example falls firmly under the indirect influence category for reasons which will hopefully become clear as you read on.
So for the first ever Trust The Doc classic, I have chosen the criminally under-rated 1980s Post-Punk quintet from Hull, Red Guitars (https://www.redguitars.co.uk/). This is because I have mentioned them in relation to a band reviewed in Pop Scene in the Alt Rock & Indie sub-section. I am not suggesting Red Guitars were a direct influence on today’s alternative rock and pop acts most of whom have probably never heard them but their contribution to the evolution of music, particularly the diversification of the Post-Punk canon, is more important than many recognise.
They were one of my absolute favourite bands in the mid-eighties although, ironically, when I saw them live after singer Jerry Kidd had left, they were disappointing. But their one and only album Slow To Fade, released on their own appropriately named Self-Drive label in 1984, remains one of my all-time favourites, characterised by band leader Louise (Lou) Duffy-Howard’s sliding funky and African-influenced basslines, the band’s versatility and clear chemistry topped off by Jerry’s voice that had shades of Joe Strummer but with a soulful edge and a hint of Americana.
The band veered between driving Post-Punk music with big resonant guitars and power drums at one extreme and a fascination with African, Latin and Caribbean flavours at the other. This suited the socio-political nature of their lyrics such as on the lilting Marimba Jive and, at the rockier end of their spectrum, the anthemic and brilliant Good Technology. They were also a self-releasing band back in the days when that was a financially high risk strategy, long before digital was even a thing!
They were regulars on the brilliant John Peel Show (BBC Radio 1) which I listened to relgiously and produced a string of Indie Chart topping singles, one of which is the aforementioned Good Technology with its superb lyric and powerful production. Thankfully the band’s website has the track where it can be streamed for free using this link - https://www.redguitars.co.uk/audio.php. I am happy to say I still have the original 7” vinyl single in my collection. With today’s high profile debate about climate change this track now seems very ahead of its time.
Mari Dangerfield (https://soundcloud.com/user-996459413) has a style where influences seem really familiar and yet difficult to place. On her latest track Hard Wired the ascending semi-tonal chords in the chorus have a retro vibe. Commenting at Fresh on the Net, I said it reminded me bizarrely of Average White Band’s For You For Love but of course the two songs are nothing like each other and I am sure it is another song entirely that it recalls. Anyway it hardly matters. There is enough that is original, unusual and engagingly melodic about the song and her distinct delight of a voice and obvious musicianship are well represented too. Backing vocals are understated and deliver some great harmonies when they do appear.
Her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MariDangerfield/) explains that she is an Anglo-Portugese Alternative Pop artist. She is also a multi-instrumentalist with a love of quirky instrumentation such as the Stylophone, always an under-rated instrument in my opinion. She is a video competition winner who infuses her sound with influences from musical theatre. Curiously her live itinerary suggests a series of performances in rail and tube stations which might mean busking! Look out for more news about this intriguing artist.
Becca James (https://soundcloud.com/beccajamesmusic) is another new name to me. The Newcastle-based singer-songwriter writes quite epic songs tinged with Soul and retro Pop influences and characterized by deep piano chords, a repeated backing vocal figure and Becca’s rangey versatile voice. Her debut single Control has just been released and she has already picked up some encouraging reviews.
Her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/beccajamesmusic) has information about Becca’s music, reviews and activities including the live showcase she organised to launch the single. She certainly has undeniable talent and it will be exciting to see and hear what she does next.
Epic & Cinematic
The amazing Project Blackbird (https://soundcloud.com/user-587333698) are back with a new edit of Same Heart (from the album Endurance as reviewed in Ed. 13) and it’s a smooth sultry and soulful mid-tempo groover of a choon on which Ming Nagel’s vocals are butterflies-inducingly lovely as are her accompanying harmonies. The feel of the track and how the band executes such an easy pop-funk groove really draws you in and then Jon Read’s tasty trumpet solo adds the final brush of beautiful colour to their soothing soundscape. I hope this track gets some airplay. It is a shorter edit compared to the album version (although at nearly 5 minutes, it isn’t exactly a radio edit). It is pure quality and deserves to be heard.
I also hope to announce soon both tour dates for Project Blackbird and an appearance by Melton Mowbray’s finest band for Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House during the Autumn months. Any of you who intend coming to our next Vanishing Point on 6th June may well get to meet Ming and Jon who will be making a visit to the capital and plan to drop in.
I am very taken with the L Space (see Edition 26) remix of Pxrxdise by the amazing independent label Last Night From Glasgow’s latest signing Kohla (https://soundcloud.com/lspaceband/kohla-pxrxdise-l-space-utopia-regained-remix). The success of LNFG’s unique crowdfunded not-for-profit model has been [and continues to be] a breath of fresh air and Ian Smith’s knack for spotting the standouts from the also-rans is a big part of that success.
His latest charge Kohla (https://soundcloud.com/kohlamusic) is an electronic pop and ambient artist whose influences are hard to pinpoint but maybe some hints of Beth Orton, Kate Bush, Julia Holter and even Bjork. Her voice is distinct, strong and drips with expression and emotional power. Her original version of Pxrxdise gets better with every listen and is quite overwhelming.
The L Space remix adds some sweeping ambient synths, distant high vocals and contrasting effects and filters. The extended intro is stunning. Upper register piano chords, clever use of distortion and plenty of echo aboung. At the centre of it, Kohla’s beautiful voice still dominates proceedings. Knowing L Space’s tendency to experiment in cinematic futurist soundscapes I can only imagine what fun they had coming up with this mix.
There are also two mixes of S/He. The thankbird! Remix has a deep buzzing synth bass and four-to-the-floor electro-house kick drum while the synth chords are nicely jazz-infused. This version creates a great amount of space for Kohla’s vocals to stretch out, showcasing all the different timbres and registral contrasts. There the Kate Bush comparion does have relevance. Not because she sounds like her which she absolutely doesn’t but because, like KB, she has so many aspects to her singing it is almost as if she is introducing a whole cast of individual characters into each performance.
Her own version of S/He is more stately, deep piano notes shoring up the bass elements, a sparse beat and long keyboard chords accompanying her stunning vocals. There is briefly a reminder of Bronski Beat and perhaps Black too. But now I am just showing my age!
Once again LNFG have struck gold. Ian tells me she has an exciting and slightly poppier new single in the pipeline for late summer. I am excited for when that emerges.
Alternative Rock & Indie
King Ibex (https://soundcloud.com/kingibex) are a Welsh trio who make a big noise for three people. Their sound is fluid, punchy Alt Rock with strong tenor-range vocals and great harmonies. Influences are hard to pin down. There is an unmistakably retro element that recalls both classic Pop-Rockers of a diverse kind that could stretch from Cheap Trick to Soundgarden to the Manics. There are also enough unexpected chord changes (with the bass often changing the inversion) and explosive drumming to bring a more alternative aspect to their sound too. They say they are disillusioned with current music but their sound is ultimately very contemporary.
Ballot represents their poppier end and has sufficient hooks and engaging bridge to work well on radio. A Fool’s End has a more explicitly 90s Grunge influence although its frantcic pace and catchy chorus also nod to British Post-Punk. One thing I can say with confidence is that King Ibex are one exciting, original and relevant band and I would put money on them being great live too.
Devon (https://soundcloud.com/devondevonmusic) is an artist from the Forest of Dean in the Gloucestershire West Country, home of 90s Indie-Dance giants EMF (thus not from Devon). His melodic punk-pop track I don’t want 2 be ur friend flew out of the speakers at me with joyously raging intent, complete with such a strong melody it was impossible to resist, an opinion clearly shared both by Fresh on the Net readers and my good friends Ming and Jon from Exile FM who promptly played it on the Monday Night Ride Out.
Desmerelda (https://soundcloud.com/desmerelda) are from Bromley, Kent (or South East London depending who you ask!) and they are in similar musical territory to Devon albeit it is the intro and subsequently the chorus of This Time which produce the main aural assault while the verses are more subtle, clever and reveal the depth of their songwriting abilities. The chorus is absolute killer and, having discovered they have a repertoire of similarly excellent Alt Pop tracks up their sleeves, I am delighted to have them playing at Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House on 4th July.
I am really enjoying listening to the somewhat enigmatic Dirk Scarlett’s (https://soundcloud.com/user-921116069) track Taj Mahal with its swinging Alt Pop sensibilities, irresistably catchy tune and descending chord pattern that has shades of the Beatles, Wonder Stuff and other past treasures about it. It’s punchy too, sung really well and has a nicely compressed bunch of guitar and other tracks adding substance to the arrangement.
Sadly there are no links or info on Dirk’s Soundcloud page. But I did some digging and found this NME Artist Service page https://artists.nme.com/artist/dirk-scarlett/ which tells us he is from Walsall. On that page you can find more excerpts from more tracks which reveal a nice range of well-written songs with a heavy dose of retro influence.
He has paid for the services of London producer Aubrey Whitfield. I won’t comment on whether I think it was money well spent (especially as I don’t actually know how much the sessions cost) but some mastering would benefit these tracks and make them sound a bit more like the finished article(s). Still, there is no question that Dirk has a talent for writing, singing and playing. I hope this year proves to be a good one for him.
In February 2019, I had the pleasure of reviewing Peterborough’s Suds (https://soundcloud.com/sudsband) for the Fresh on the Net Fresh Faves. I duly included a review of them in Ed. 21 of TTD too. Well they are back with a track entitled, somewhat appropriately, Into May. To remind ourselves, they are three women and one man and every member plays a big part in this track. Isabella’s drumming is powerful, lots of toms adding to its driving quality while Tom’s bass is deep, fluid and adds further momentum. There’s a great bendy guitar figure that dominates (presumably courtesy of Danielle) and Maisie-Mae’s vocals are alluring, distinct and impressive. It has a cracking hook and is melodically strong throughout.
Suds are spreading their wings as their busy touring schedule shows with gigs in Peterborough, Leeds, Southampton, Colechester and Norwich in May alone. They have all the elements to achieve great success. Exciting times for sure.
Octopus (https://soundcloud.com/weareoctopus) are from Manchester and, on the strength of Happy Today, they make unusually inventive Alt Pop that is melodic and buoyant but lyrically fascinating and musically full of spine-tingling chord moments and complex instrumental play. Male vocal sometimes rising into falsetto is distinct and eases into centre stage. This is both energetic and intelligent pop and the clarity and extent of the ideas are amazing, including a gorgeous quickstep popping bassline under the main hook near the end. The artwork is intriguingly [Francis] Baconesque too.
Their Soundcloud page reveals more tracks including the slightly Madchester-ish Kaleidoscope. My My Lady is a year old and sounds less like the newer material. It will be interesting to hear more Octopus. They are gigging. So that’s good news.
Brighton keeps producing cool bands and the latest one to capture my attention is Fragile Creatures (https://soundcloud.com/fragilecreatures). The moment I heard the deliciously dissonant guitar figure in the intro of Falling I was all ears and the song turned out to be a highly inventive piece that brought to mind a host of influences from different eras including, oddly enough, The Beatles, Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, Red Guitars, Supergrass and Blur to name a few! Interestingly, in their Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/fragilecreatures/) biog, the band also cite Blur and Bowie (well there’s a link to Mott, right?).
Can you? Is very different, kicking off with a semi-Rockabilly rhythm before revealing great backing vocal harmonies over a more Alt Rock chorus. It is a lot lighter-textured than Falling. Church Road Demons is a bit older and kicks off with a lovely keyboard riff that’s somewhere between The Who and Blur. The song is poppier although it still introduces some tasty guitar and unexpected chord changes. These guys can pen a choon for sure. I look forward to seeing how they develop in 2019.
Well I know I am hardly revealing an exclusive here but I had to talk about the fantastic single by Little Simz (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpfpGwklQ6k). 101 FM has been played repeatedly on BBC 6 Music lately and rightly so. Its unmistakenly London mix of Grime and dreamy sparse instrumental backdrop is so atmospheric while Little Simz tells her story with matter-of-fact poetic beauty, taking a swipe at the law’s attitude to young black boys and expressing sadness without resorting to sentiment. The pirate radio pastiche at the end is bang on too.
Shaping up already to be a contender for single of the year. Little Simz joins Flohio at the forefront of tough-talking female UK rappers carving out their own style within the wide spectrum of Urban music.
Electronic & Ambient Music
There was a Freak Zone Playlist on BBC 6 Music presented by electronic and ambient music artist Bibio (https://warp.net/artists/91421-bibio). It was one of the most enjoyable playlists I have heard in a while and you can hear or download the podcast at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000581n.
There were plenty of highlights but the one that really grabbed me was by Jameszoo & Metropole Orkest (https://jameszoo.bandcamp.com/). So much so that I downloaded it and made it my Vanishing Point Track for the following night’s edition of the Monday Night Ride-Out on Exile FM (https://exilefm.com) with the awesome Ming and Jon.
It is a Jameszoo track he had previously recorded entitled Flake which he more recently performed at a festival in Amsterdam with the highly acclaimed Metropole Orkest (https://www.mo.nl/en/) This is that version which has just been released (as of Friday 17th May) via Bandcamp and Brainfeeder as part of an album called Mellkweg which is a recording of the entire collaborative performance between these two acts. Anyone interested in buying the album or any individual tracks will find it at https://jameszoo.bandcamp.com
It starts off with a build-up of beautiful harmony and textures, the orchestral elements adding a beautifully ethereal feeling to the piece before it suddenly spins into a contrasting B section in which the busy jazz-infused keyboard, buzzy synths and fluid orchestration takes it into semi-Prog territory and opens up a whole new rainbow of moods, influences and timbres. It becomes quite cinematic and even a little pastoral in parts before a quieter spell introduces spine-tingling electric piano figures, translucent strings and a gradual dynamic crescendo that still finds room for a few surprises. It all ends as enigmatically as it began with some lovely soft broken chords fading into a misty distance.
AND FINALLY ….
So that is all for Edition 27. It has been tough putting this issue together against a backdrop of personal tragedies both in my own and a close friend’s life on the same day. I have no intention of talking in detail about these events here but I will just end by dedicating Edition 27 to the memories of Alun and Gary, two free spirits taken from us too soon.
Thanks for reading everyone and see you on 16th June. Neil xxxx