TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS
by Neil March (Edition 25, 30th April 2019)
Welcome to Edition 25 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. In this month’s issue ….... #SaveLateJunction
✦ VANISHING POINT: An Electronic Ambient & Experimental Night in London
✦ BETH GIBBONS: Portishead Singer delivers stunning Gorecki performance
✦ BOGDAN RACZYNSKI: A Polish American Braindance composer no less!
✦ ESPERANZA SPALDING: My artist of 2018 addresses anatomic music
✦ JAY MITTA: Tanzanian Singeli Music: Frenetic, dizzying and futuristic
✦ MINYO CRUSADERS: Japanese Folk infused with international flavours
✦ KONGO DIA NTOTILA: TTD favourites with more great tracks & gig dates
✦ MIA WAKEFIELD: Acoustic sounds to stir the steeliest soul
✦ LAURAN HIBBERD: Lauran marches on with new choon & Glasto gig
✦ FISTYMUFFS: Energy inventiveness & war on violent & controlling men
✦ KYANOS: Psychedelic bendiness, dub and cool tunes from Suffolk
✦ L I P S: Shoegaze heaven and dreamy jangle coming outta Cornwall
✦ OCEANS OVER ALDERAAN: Compelling Post-Shoegaze from Blackpool
✦ PABLO’S PAINTINGS: Another cool Alt Pop band from the city of Leeds
✦ THE DEKKOES: Plenty of tuneful Indie guitar jangle from SE London
✦ ATTIC’O’MATIC: Intricate inventive songwriting from the West Country
✦ YXUNGTARZAAN: Talented Urban artist back with a thoughtful track
✦ J-E-T-S Ft. TKAY MAIDZA: A contemporary take on Electro perhaps
✦ LIGHT OF TROY: Enigmatic Drum’n’Bass from the wilds of West Sussex
✦ CERYS ELESS: Prodigious teenage singer-songwriter from North Wales
✦ 0171: Super talented Hackney duo back with second single
✦ RED-BLUE-CONNECT: Beautifully crafted soundscapes from Edinburgh
✦ L SPACE: Glasgow’s Electro-Dream-Poppers show us another side
✦ PAULFCOOK: Back with a track that demonstrates more strings to his bow
VANISHING POINT @ THE IVY HOUSE
The next Vanishing Point is on Thursday 2nd May in the Twin Peaks Roadhouse atmosphere of the beautiful Ivy House in Nunhead/Peckham. It will be a special night of electronic, ambient & experimental music & sounds featuring the recent Stuart Maconie’sFreak Zone (BBC Radio 6 Music)-featured solo artist Smallhaus (https://soundcloud.com/smallhaus); new alternative music trio HMS Loss; exciting electronic duo Slow Loris (https://www.instagram.com/slowlorissounding/) and the inimitable Richard Sanderson (https://soundcloud.com/bagrec1), composer-artist and head of Linear Obsessional (https://www.linearobsessional.org). It is only £4 for an advance ticket (or turn up and pay £5 on the door). Book yours at https://demerararecords.com/vanishing-point.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
The late Polish twentieth (and briefly twenty-first) century composer Henryk Gorecki (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/nov/12/henryk-gorecki-obituary) divided opinion in contemporary classical circles right up until his death, aged 76, in 2010 and arguments continue to rage.
This is partly because, like fellow former Eastern Bloc composers including two who remain currently active, the Estonian Arvo Pärt and Hungarian György Kurtág, he is a once avant-gardist whose music took on a less radical direction from the 1970s onwards. But it is also because there are nevertheless a number of fans of more progressive and envelope-pushing music who actually consider Gorecki’s later works to have been ground-breaking both because of his thoroughly original reinterpretation of pre-Baroque modes and because of his development of a lullaby aspect to the rhythmic ebb and flow of his music.
The single work that has caused the most debate about Gorecki’s importance or otherwise as a contemporary composer is his third Symphony (the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs), an emotionally-charged lament for the death of so many Poles in terrible wars. Poland has, of course, had an unusually volatile history over the past hundred years and suffered particularly under the Nazis and then immediately afterwards under the Soviet Communists who were supposed to have been its liberators.
I place myself firmly in the pro-Gorecki camp. I recall arguing with composers of the New Complexity school of composition (those who either worship at the altar of Brian Ferneyhough and Michael Finnissy or simply are Ferneyhough and Finnissy and I have met and talked about music at length with both on several occasions). Their favourite put-down for the work is to brand it ‘nostalgic’. Well okay, in one sense they are right. It is, after all, a piece of music that looks back to Poland’s darkest times although, since it was composed in 1973, those times were a continuing situation. But if, as I know is the case, they are referring to its use of the Aeolian Mode as the basis for much of its harmonic language, they are wrong. No pre-Baroque composer could have envisaged the Aeolian or any related mode (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian etc.) being utilised in this manner with an almost hypnotic overlappig figure that builds from the double basses upwards and then gradually deconstructs. The first time I heard it, I was grabbed immediately by its originality and uniqueness.
The final movement (Lento e Largo Tranquillissimo) of the Symphony has a soprano singer join the orchestra. There is a very famous version recorded by the London Sinfonietta with Dawn Upshaw singing which is the one that introduced me to this extraordinary and powerful work and I have had that version on CD for more than twenty years.
So it was both fascinating and an absolute joy to hear Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) broadcasting a version by the amazing Polish National Radio Orchestra (who I also have some fantastic recordings by) conducted by none other than fellow Polish composer and genius (and also still living) Krzysztof Penderecki (https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/c3395434-dfdd-4de8-a8c2-0a3b110ef3ef) and sung by none other than Beth Gibbons (http://bethgibbons.net/). I kid you not.
We may know her as the distinct and stunning voice of Trip Hop’s finest Portishead but she has proved not only that she can deliver a contemporary classical work like this one but she can do so with the support of the orchestra most skilled in interpreting Gorecki’s work conducted by one of the country’s greatest composers. And it’s a stunning version too which hits all the right spots in terms of dynamic, texture and balance. So hats off to all of those involved.
Staying (kind of) on a Polish theme, the Polish-American composer Bogdan Raczynski (https://soundcloud.com/bogdanraczynski) has a new album out entitled Rave ‘till you cry which, despite its title, is not a retrospective homage to late 1980s Acid House or warehouse parties but is, in the words of DJ Magazine ‘... 18 tracks of whirring computer loops, busted drum patterns, glistening synths and icy IDM offerings that are fantastically frenzied and futuristic’ which is not a bad summary.
Late Junction played the track 156 s2n which is a mind-boggling piece of clearly carefully assembled patterns of notes, bleeps and associated sounds that create a disarming trance-like aura. 220 s3d is more frantic and kicks off with some exquisite dissonances. The beat is more like a hybrid of electronica and Drum’n’Bass but the remainder of the sounds are highly computerised. Raczynski certainly offers a unique perspective on electronic leftfield experimentalism. Check out the album at https://bogdanraczynski.bandcamp.com/.
It is under advisement that I review the super talented Esperanza Spaldng (http://www.esperanzaspalding.com/) under the broad heading of Jazz especially after she warned others ‘don’t call me jazz’! In truth no genre would adequately capture her style. She was my artist of the year in 2018 thanks to the incredible album 12 Little Spells. So I was delighted that the album had several tracks featured on Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) in a special edition focusing on the relationship between music and the anatomy. As every track is followed by a bracketed bodily reference (i.e. fingers, legs, arms etc.), this was a logical choice. It was also a reminder of the breathtaking quality, intricacy and invention in her music which has elements of Jazz, Classical, Urban, Pop and Theatre (and of course a great deal else too). She stands alone right now as that kind of unique one-off talent who transcends genre (like Prince, David Bowie, Kate Bush & others). In a better-informed world she would be matching the sales and exposure those artists achieved too.
WORLD IN UNION
Until I listened to the amazing Max Reinhardt presenting another fine edition of Late Junction, I was not aware of a style sweeping East Africa known as Singeli music; a hybrid of influences from Tanzania woven together by modern Electronic sounds. Max warned listeners to ‘hang onto your seats’ as Singeli has been dubbed ‘the most frenetic genre on the planet’. The track selected for Late Junction was by Jay Mitta (https://soundcloud.com/jaymitta) who records for the Ugandan label Nyege Nyege (http://nyegenyege.com/) and the track was Mpya Singeri. The rhythms were certainly something akin to an accelerated Funk-Jazz-Dub mash-up, the instrumental play working up a hypnotic groove while contemporary sounds leant the music a more international flavour. It would be exciting to see Singeli music exerting its importance and influence in the UK and elsewhere.
Minyo Crusaders (https://open.spotify.com/artist/1zpJ58qKOgKcWge9iaFxHG) are from Tokyo and they rework Japanese Folk tunes, infusing them with influences from around the world including African, Caribbean, Latin and Eastern music. Kushimotobushi was the track featured by Late Junction. On the album Echoes of Japan it is bracketed with the term Cumbia which is actually a folklore and dance music tradition from Colombia which explains the fascinating mix of Japanese words and chords with Latin rhythms. Reason in itself to explore this original and innovative band. I have since heard the track on several daytime shows on 6 Music so clearly it is on one of their three main playlists. That is good news both for Minyo Crusaders and for the interests of keeping non-English Language tracks on mainstream radio.
TTD favourites Kongo Dia Ntotila (https://soundcloud.com/kongodiantotila) stormed into the Fresh Faves with another hot track. 360⁰ is slightly darker than some of their sunnier pieces but it’s a cracker, driven by a snarling bass & drum groove with skillful guitar picking, great instrumental interplay (as always) and brass chops that are spine-tingling and lead into some harmonic moments that bring early Jamiroquai to mind. It’s a tough tune to categorise because Kongo Dia Ntotila’s style brings together such an international cast of flavours but rather than scratch heads trying to stick a label on their fantastic music, better to just enjoy it.
No sooner had I written this review than they announced a new single. Kongo (http://hyperurl.co/KongoDiaNtotila) is now out on Pussyfoot Records. It kicks off with tribalistic collective whooping before giving way to scintillating percussive rhythms, chanted lines answered first by brass and rhythm stabs and then by sutained harmony, call and response style. But of course this is Kongo Dia Ntotila so suddenly it speeds up, we get a sort of Afro-Reggae toasting motif and that in turn gives way to carnival style major key brass, intricate picking guitars and more repeated hooks. It’s exhauting at times trying to write about such diverse, fluid and amazing music in a manner that remotely captures the constant changes of mood! The rhythmic configurations and ensuing demands on the intrumentalists in the final section are breathtaking. It’s really a medley of celebratory international flavours and influences. The edit lasts four and a half minutes. The extended version is over six. Both are really quite marvellous.
I have already bought the pre-release dowload of the album, also entitled 360⁰ which means I now have the title track and Kongo in my collection with the remaining tracks due to arrive on 10th May. That gives me time to play it to death ahead of seeing them live! Not that I need an excuse!
They play the Lion & Lamb in Hoxton on 16th May and I am privileged to be their guest. I can’t wait to experience them live and to meet up with Mulele, John and co and their awesome manager Birikiti. With Kongo Dia Ntotila picking up so much attention, I recommend getting tickets before it sells out. Four hot acts on the bill.(https://www.residentadvisor.net/events/1255222). Alternatvely you can catch them a month later, on Friday 21st June, at Ninety One Living Room in Brick Lane, up near Rough Trade East.
I am not sure Mia Wakefield (https://soundcloud.com/miawakefield-1) belongs in the Folk section but her Soundcloud blurb calls her music ‘an acoustic style that draws in an audience and allows them to sink into a relaxed state of mind’ which is not a bad description. Her sound is acoustic guitar and voice dominated and she has an appealingly tough edge to her vocal delivery which emphasises its earthy organic character. Perhaps that is why Folk comes to mind but it doesn’t really matter. What is important is that the track The Rain grabbed my attention when it landed in my in-box. Picking guitar and reflective vocal set the scene before her voice rises up an octave and a really alluring melody ensues.
MINE is definitely more folky, beautifully bluesy picked guitar figure accompanying a vocal delivery that recalls so many of the great singer-songwriters. It is literally just one track each of vocal and guitar and yet it sounds absolutely complete and compellingly beautiful. LOVER (what’s with these block capitals titles? Lol!) is very folky, strummed guitar and edgy vocals being the order of the day. So it goes on. Mia Wakefield hails from Liverpool. She has a great voice and can seriously pen a killer tune or twenty. Check her out.
Indie & Alt Rock
The Princess of Powerpop and an artist I recently described as being ‘Fresh on the Net royalty’, Lauran Hibberd (https://soundcloud.com/lauranhibberd) is back with another killa choon. As she excitedly announces on Twitter that she will be playing the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury, she also delivers an instantly infectious slice of energetic tuneful and lyrically spiky powerpop with Hoochie. A cool guitar riff, great hook, sweet harmonies and Lauran’s disinct voice are a winning combination.
I’m not entirely sure what the lyrics are trying to say other than references to the other person’s ‘Hoochie Friends’ who are nothing like Lauran and a girl he will have to ‘marry in June’ which may or may not be a reference to pregnancy. Lauran can maybe tell us what it is that ‘smells like sweet perfume’ (some form of drugs?). It frankly doesn’t matter. What does matter is it is no coincidence that the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and the ever-reliable BBC Introducing in Solent keep getting behind her. And our Fresh on the Net readers love her too. Can all these discerning well-informed music enthusiasts be wrong? Clearly not.
Lauran is on a mission and, speaking [smugly I admit] as the one who called out her star quality from the first time I came across her and her music (from hearing Call Shotgun and seeing how Lauran projected her entire guitar-toting indie-chic girl-next-door persona), I am tipping her as confidently as ever to go all the way.
Scottish trio Fistymuffs (https://soundcloud.com/fistymuffs) are another band who have been on my radar for a while. They (Ashley Stein - Vocals and Bass; Suky Goodfellow - Guitar and Vocals & Nicola Foxx - Drums) have captured the attention of Fresh on the Net previously with their righteously angry and energetically inventive music. Their latest offering Time is a cracking slice of rhythmically complex, slightly frenetic Post-Punk influenced music with clever, disturbing lyrics that talk candidly about abusive relationships to the backdrop of contrasting verse and chorus.
What is particularly poignant is how the verses are intense with the drums playing a busy beat, the bass playing a riff in open fifths and the guitar playing slightly dissonant chords while the vocal veers between repeating the word ‘Time’ and then upping the urgency in the words ‘do you hear my plea’ etc. but the choruses which describe violent scenes are accompanied by calmer, almost serene major key chords. It is an ironic masking of the reality that accordingly mirrors its subject matter so well and makes it both hard and simultaneouly compelling to listen to.
Coercive Control continues with the theme of abuse but this time the lyrical focus is on a male partner who doesn’t ‘hit’ his female companion but instead uses put-downs to competely shatter her self-confidence and esteem and convince her that she is ‘nothing’ without him. Sound familiar? Yes because we are all unfortunate to know various prize dickheads who fit that profile. The lyrics that tell this tale are then contrasted by the call to ‘Show me your hands, there is a way out’. Again the accompanying music uses contrasts to great effect. It’s a beautiful and moving moment.
I should mention the Fistymuffs Anthem with its anthemic chorus, shifts in tempo and gorgeously grungy instrumental accompaniment and the powerful Innocent Contact with its no-holds-barred spoken word intro which is hard-bitten prose that sticks a massive two fingers up at sleazy, harassing, presumptious and predatory males before bursting forth into a driving two (semi-tone apart) chord figure and inspired lyric. Once again contrast is the name of the game as the track slows into a chorus of ‘Get away, get away/I don’t want your innocent contact’.
It strikes me at times that Fistymuffs are kind of what some of the bands who were around in the immediate aftermath of Punk (The Slits, The Raincoats, The Au Pairs etc.) were getting towards but Fistymuffs have distilled those attitudes down and created something much more direct. It is raw, angry and full of the frustration that has built up through years of observing how women are treated but it is also very musical, very smartly arranged and inventive. Jeez, how good must they be live? Their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Fistymuffs/) talks about having worked their way up the live music ladder in and around Edinburgh and earned respect. Next step surely is for that reputation to become a national one.
I hope there will be sufficient enthusiasm among the production staff at BBC 6 Music and other stations (even if it takes one or two ‘clean’ radio edits to get past rules on swearwords) because the world needs Fistymuffs and rest assured, given the platform, they will kick up one hell of a storm.
Kyanos (https://soundcloud.com/kyanosbaby) from Bury St Edmunds are a new name to me but their track Sunrise completely blew me away on first listen. After an agreeable synth intro gives way to gorgeously bendy guitar chords and tough bass and drums, the [male] vocals are strong and then suddenly we are subjected to a mind-scrambling mess-about between two keys a semi-tone apart; a kind of psychedelic wangy-bar heaven that is at once unsettling and brilliant. Then, as if one surprise isn’t enough, the track changes mood and tempo altogether and enters into trippy dub territory before finding its way back to the slow slurring melody, more powerhouse bass and drums and plenty of resonant guitar wobbliness. Fantastic, unexpected and original.
So on further exploration, it transpires that Sunrise is part of a 7-track EP (practically a mini-album then) entitled Lost in Blue which features more gems and more examples of their penchant for the unusual and exquisite like the mainly guitar-dominated How Much? which has some lovely and very deep bass guitar playing a melody. So High has some sumptious chord changes accompanying appealing melody. Dive into my mind’s eye, gently is not the only track with shades of early Pink Floyd about it.
Having heard what they can do on Sunrise, I would like to hear them stretch out more and develop that slightly more experimental side of their sound and style. They are a talented band with clearly bags of potential. It will be exciting to see how they progress over the next twelve months and beyond.
L I P S (https://soundcloud.com/lipsmusicaccount) are from Falmouth in Cornwall and they grabbed the attention of the Fresh on the Net readers with the excellent Sunken, a poppy jangly and energetic slice of Alt Pop with distinct female vocal and spine-tingling guitar chords and riffs backed up by fluid bass and robust drums. When a song is this well written and executed, it can’t fail to get noticed.
Alma is slower and has shades of shoegaze about it although the synth playing along with the guitar over descending bass could almost be Supergrass. Vocally it is perhaps closer to Cranes or Sundays territory. But these are all vague references really as their sound is very much their own and genuinely contemporary. Exciting prospects for sure.
Oceans Over Alderaan (https://www.facebook.com/oceansoveralderaan/) made the FOTN Listening Post earlier in April and missed out on the Fresh Faves by the absolute narrowest of margins. That was with the excellent Falters, a slowish slice of patiently building Post-Psychedelic Dream Pop with strong female vocal, inventive drumming and lots of instrumental resonance and dynamic.
Sevenfour is faster and has some exquisite guitar jangle and unusual chord changes. The open harmonies work really well and clever rhythmic configuations play a key part. This is imagination and musicianship coming together with spectacular results. Coming from Blackpool, a town that is producing some great music right now, I fully expect to see them spread their wings as more people discover their exciting individual sound.
Pablo’s Paintings (https://soundcloud.com/user-610787250) are another in a growing list of talented young bands emerging from the fine city of Leeds. There is something in my heart mixes robust guitar jangle with harmonised vocals that are very Beatles influenced (with a dusting of Crowded House perhaps).
Can I draw you something continues the Beatles reference while the guitar is more in Johnny Marr meets First Aid Kit territory. Like There is something …, it is really strong melodically and has some lovely vocal harmonies. The guitar break in the middle of the song is a surprise, almost Ronnie Wood-like. Anyway it’s joyous and uplifting Alt Pop that is highly recommended.
South East Londoners The Dekkoes (https://soundcloud.com/thedekkoes) conistently impress and so it is with the thoughtful Alt Pop of Leaving Jim Behind which has shades of Blur jamming with The Byrds about it. An engagingly unusual melody, great changes between verse and chorus and a well-crafted arrangement.
Some of the material currently on their Soundcloud page is two years old or older (though still good stuff) but last year’s Row the Boat is poppy and melodic with more of their trademark falsetto moments, jangly guitars and breaks that punctuate the verses and actually add to the momentum.
I was struck this month by a track which made our Listening Post by Attic-o-matic (https://soundcloud.com/atticomatic). Picture Frame gets straight into it with lovely slidey guitar chords and a male vocal that has a slightly lazy but dynamic delivery. The drums, bass and picking guitar bring a nice rhythmic fluidity and the overlapping vocal harmonies in the chorus are the icing on an already pretty tasty cake.
143 Minuets kicks off with vibrating organ leading into a quiet guitar picking figure and softer-toned vocals. The drums really emphasise the lilting three-time feel with a classy shuffle before the guitar-bass interplay produces some delicious chords and the vocals take on a more teasing tone. Lively, post-psych Alt Rock with some serious harmonic chops is my final verdict. Their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/atticomatic/) cites Gang of Four and the Banshees as influences which is well evidenced here. They also cite Jane’s Addiction, Jesus and Mary Chain, Mogwai and The Cure all of which explain their mix of spikiness and melodic flair. Empire State emphasises the Gang of Four reference too. There isn’t a lot of information but the BBC Introduction play suggests they are from the Bristol area; an ongoing hive of interesting musical activity.
I have blogged about Yxungtarzaan (https://soundcloud.com/yxungtarzaan) before so I was pleased to receive new track Could be via the Fresh on the Net in-box. It finds him in thoughtful mood, a reflective lyric set against a soulful melancholy backing track as he switches between singing and rapping, adorned by plenty of effects and a crunching beat. His Soundcloud page demonstrates how prolific he has been over recent months.
J-E-T-S featuring Tkay Maidza (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLAgOuVzXuk) landed in my speakers thanks to Huw Stephens, the BBC’s Prince of New Music, dropping the track when standing in for Lauren Laverne on the BBC 6 Music Breakfast Show. And very fine it is too; a bendy and boisterous Electronic Urban backdrop accompanying Tkay Maidza’s unmistakably London rap style. She reminds me a little of [a calmer version of] Flohio and there is an appealing Electro feel that takes me all the way back to Afrika Bambaata and Mantronix. Yeah I really am that old! Being on Huw’s radar tends to be a pretty good place to be so expect to hear from both (J-E-T-S who are already doing pretty well and Tkay Maidza who is a real find).
Reguar readers will know I am very partial to a good slice of Drum’n’Bass and that is what I got when I heard Light of Troy (https://soundcloud.com/lightoftroy) and the track The Runners Reasons. A cool and bass drum heavy beat comes and goes, juxtaposed against mystical synth chords and plenty of ambient sounds, building an irresistable soundscape.
The Forgotten Forest kicks off with an enigmatic synth riff and quiet sweep chords. The beat then kicks in with a frenetic vengeance while the chords are spacey and wobbly, the opening riff poking through the mist and smoke here and there as different sound effects add to the enigmatic, impressionistic aura. Both tracks suggest an original and determinedly individual artist setting out his own appealing vision.
Cerys Eless (https://soundcloud.com/user-935215738) is a 16 year old singer-songwriter from North Wales who has a distinct and striking voice. She also possesses the clear ability to pen a great tune mainly accompanied by her acoustic guitar chords though her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cerys.eless) suggests she is already busily gigging with a backing band of adult musicians which is pretty bloody impressive. Her writing is also very mature and developed as the excellent Emotionally Unattached demonstrates. This track is also eminently radio friendly.
She is slower, folkier and focuses entirely on voice and guitar. As her voice rises into the upper register there is an air of the young Joni Mitchell but mostly her style is very contemporary with a subtly urban undercurrent despite her folky organic style. Time for you to leave is another solo acoustic track with a vocal that is dexterous and dynamic. Cerys Eless is one talented teenager. She has had some support from BBC Introducing in Wales. It will be exciting to see how her career develops over the next year and more.
Epic & Cinematic
Talented Electronic Pop duo 0171 (https://soundcloud.com/0171music) who blew us away earlier this year with 1000 Words are back with a new track SMTHN RL. This time Georgie plays a more leading role, her soulful vocals introducing a melancholy melody over mid-tempo groove and dreamy reverberant keyboards before Joe joins her and the two voices switch between powerful unison and individual roles.
It is more of a ‘pop’ song than 1000 Words but like that track, a lot of thought has clearly gone into the arrangement and production leading to the utilization of a great many sounds, gorgeous backing vocals with just the right amount of echo and an unexpected and stunning ending as Georgie’s voice drifts away atop gentle waves of otherworldly synth chords.
Electronic & Ambient
Red-Blue-Connect (https://soundcloud.com/red-blue-connect) aka Gavin MacColl from Edinburgh has been on my radar for a while thanks to a number of interesting tracks submitted to FOTN and I was particularly smitten by the latest one Can’t deal with this. I say ‘latest’ as it came into FOTN mid-April but, according to his Soundcloud page, the track is a year old. He describes it as ‘Acoustic Prog’ which is not a bad shout. Lovely 12-string guitar chords in arpeggio picking style certainly recall Steve Hackett in Genesis days until suddenly the final stretch is taken over by ambient waves of synth. It is beautiful stuff anyway.
The much more recent Beneath the waves mixes similarly skillful guitar playing with enigmatic synth and subtle ambient soundscapes. Station Grid 1 is more electronic in style, experimenting with bends and bleeps and working in a slightly funky programmed beat. Dragon Drop uses electric guitar and synths and has a soundtrack aura to it especially as ghostly virtual voices and distant sounds enter the mix. There is plenty of lovingly played music on his page that is recommended.
L Space (https://soundcloud.com/lspaceband), a popular band who are part of the amazing Last Night From Glasgow label have won a lot of fans over the past year with their futuristic Post-Dream-Pop Psychedelia. So I was intrigued and impressed when they contacted me to say they had been recording some instrumental music of the kind we usually refer to as Library Music. A particular surprise is that they have not used singer Lily’s highly distinctive voice. These are pure ambient instrumental pieces and any voices are used as ambient instruments only.
The album is called Music For Megastructures and is inspired by an imaginary city. This is underlined from the outset when the open synth harmonics of Approaching an Arcology float over quiet low notes creating a futuristic mystical aura that is added to by the ensuing synth patterns and understated percussive rhythm that appears for a short time. The Slow Descent of a Cruise Ship into a Port starts with what could be a distant foghorn (albeit a gentle one) before hypnotic synths take over.
This theme of mundane acts being represented by striking ambient sounds and dreamy ethereal synths is common to the whole album (Morning Traffic Overhead, Lots of Colourful Lights at all times of day and night, A small man waits while the rain sizzles on the tarp & A Sleepy Robot watches over a barely used car park). So much thought and imagination has gone into representing each of these day to day episodes through stark contrasts, repetitive patterns giving way to completely different repetitive patterns etc. Events are fluid but repetitious; exactly as they are in a real city.
The Captains of Industry and their interests outside work is both an intriguing concept and a particularly strong example of this notion of patterns superseding other patterns. It is almost Minimalism (in the Glass/Reich/Riley sense of that term). An Aspiring Actor works as a Barista under halogen lights is almost certainly a very common occurence in coffee shops up and down the country. The virtual banality of the music is wholly appropriate on said track. Lives are getting longer is a great moment, distant ambient notes, some spine-tingling sounds and more patterns. There is a possible irony in the shortness of the track compared to its title. The titles based on mundane acts continue (Getting sick and being cured, A brief moment of triumph after an extended period of alienation etc.).
A sense of unease descends upon the bar is intriguing. Is there a fight? Certainly the music sounds stressed and a bit frenetic, chaotic even. Sitting in a crowded basement watching automatons approximate music seems like quite dystopian subject matter but the music is only midly dark! Perhaps because automatons are unlikely to approximate music that is dark! It ends with Waking up bathed in the light of things you can’t afford which is actually beautifully and eerily dreamy. It is, I guess, the ultimate fantasy held onto by and yet denied to the average resident of their imagined city. It is why people play the lottery and dream of having their perfect home and life. A great way to end the story and to round off an impressive, unusual and bold work.
The unique PaulFCook (https://soundcloud.com/paulfcook) is back with another track that combines his inventive composing with smart utilization of sampled spoken word and sardonic humour. Attention Attention makes a cruel but well-deserved mockery of the irritating incompetence of computerised phone and communication devices and does so within the context of gradually expanding layers of sound, dominated unusually for Paul by synths, evocative low ones setting the groundwork while the melody is taken up by a shrill synth that is superbly twee as set against the increasingly erratic automated voice response
Paul is a highly accomplished guitarist and the guitar begins to increasingly poke through the translucent surfaces as the track progresses. There are also plenty of amusing moments, the highlight being when the confused automated voice attempts to spell out the caller’s account details but ends up spewing out the words ‘equals, equals, equals, equals …’ in relation to each detail! By the final stretch, the machine voice is getting into a nightmarish mix-up about assessing the degree of terrorist threat, all contributing to another great track from PaulFCook that follows but doesn’t imitate its predecessors Blues Man and Warm Apple Cider. It deserves some radio exposure.
AND FINALLY ….
So we reach the end of Edition 25 of Trust The Doc. It has been fun writing about such a diverse spectrum of high quality tracks and artists. As I pleaded at the start of this blog, do come and follow/like my social media pages. That’s Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TrustTheDoc/), Twitter (@Hornetmuziq) and Instagram (#DemeraraRecords). You can also follow @DemeraraRecords on Twitter and visit and like facebook.com/DemeraraRecords. And, as ever, thanks so much for reading this and feel free to tell others about it too. See you on 16th May (which is also the date of Kongo Dia Ntotila’s next gig and that is where I will be!). Neil xxxxxx