Tuesday, 20 October 2009



This just might be the future of presenting albums: release it as a DVD of videos only. No CD, just DVD. Years ago Sonic Youth did it with their Goo video but the plums went and released it as a conventional record also. Plums.

Sputniko! is a female Japanese artist currently residing (and inventing) in London. Citing Takako Minekawa (Mrs Cornelius) as one of her many influences here possessed are thirteen tracks of demented and subversive chiptune, almost J-Pop songs in that neon manner only Japanese artists seem able to construct/contrive. With the cute smiles they get away with murder!

Things begin with “Google Song” and the tale of shy Japanese schoolgirls too scared to speak to boys they fancy who instead put their name into Google as a fluffy adventure into subtle stalking. Playing on stereotypes, perversion and a wicked sense of fun early Sputniko! reveals herself as a cunning exploiter of the listener’s awareness.

With the invention of Wakki Sputniko! demonstrates her invention of being able to play an instrument designed by herself with movements of her armpit. On the DVD she later demonstrates that Wakki is a knitted soft toy with a Wii controller inside it and on “Wakki Song” this is where the gift is best examined and executed.

Live favourite “Chinko Song” continues the silly theme of the piece especially when considering that when this pretty young lady is repeatedly singing “chinko” as the chorus she is singing the Japanese word for “penis.”

Slowly the album begins to resemble the music equivalent of commuters reading Anime porn on Tokyo underground as “Child Producing Machine” becomes possibly first and definitely the most explicit ever pop song about a lady having her period. During the middle of the song she gives birth in what feels an increasingly uncomfortable listen from a lyrical standpoint especially when considering the tone of the vocal delivery and the upbeat Nintendo music guiding the song. With lyrics such as “I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess” who can fail? Here comes a nervous smile from the listener.

Basically here is the dark undercurrent that ripples beneath the beautiful neon lights of the Japanese experience, the one where cartoons are about killers, bears are gloomy and the females are not so subservient after all. There is part of me that suspects she is something of a female Japanese Borat but at least a good one with it.

In this format accompanied by a grand set of clever videos expertly delivered on a small budget this is a really stunning offering caked in humour and cultural difference confusion. Sumptuous.

Thesaurus moment: edifying.

Sputniko! live
360 Degrees Records

Wednesday, 14 October 2009



I have to admit that this stand-up DVD and album is a few years old now but thanks to his performance in 30 Rock Tracy Morgan has now gained worldwide exposure with his scene stealing moments and with some further investigation I managed to uncover this true gem of a stand-up comedy performance.

Released as a DVD but coming with a bonus audio CD of the show this is by far the best and funniest example of the stand-up art form I have seen this year.

Obviously a great black stand-up comedian is always going to be compared to Richard Pryor and there are definitely some moments that come straight out of his legacy but as with a lot of modern comedy the real strength comes in his invention with crassness. With this he has that great assertive delivery that snaps and bites just on the right side of sounding aggressive.

As an individual Morgan is a very endearing and mysterious person. A person widely known for wrestling with various demons his deliver contains a lot of confessional material and streams anecdotes for which a hyperbolic measure feels almost impossible.

Listened to through headphones on public transport this is embarrassingly laugh out loud stuff. Delivered in a seemingly purposely dumb manner Tracy picks apart peoples tiny foibles with a distinct lack of bashfulness but never is humility a casualty in the piece.

When Michael Jackson passed away earlier this year it felt scarily apt to be listening to Morgan’s run down of his situation on “Don’t Be Like Mike” and how the guy probably just need “a plate” and some family compassion. Of course Tracy also acts how he would happily boast of being sucked off on the spinning teacups by Michael to his homeboys but that is beside the point.

His admissions of porn preferences and sexual acts (“I like to eat the pussy until I burp”) is both enlightening and levelling as he points out flaws and hypocrisies on both sides of the fence in the war of the sexes.

After a couple of sharp and revealing family anecdotes about relatives tooting cocaine and his cousin Jimmy (“Negative Ass Jimmy”) being in a wheelchair but earning no sympathy in the process, the most genuinely funny material arrives in his observations regarding superheroes. Or rather more to the point why there are no black superheroes. After quickly dismissing the Hulk as just being “some drunk white dude” and revealing that Robin “wanna fuck Batman up” Morgan leaves the listener with a whole new perspective on the Marvel Universe.

It all comes together at the end with a bit too much information on the subject of love revenge (“Monique”) and Tracy Morgan fully earns his stripes as a scary talent housed in a scary human being. Off the back of SNL and 30 Rock though the world knew this already.

Even if it isn’t, it feels fearless.

Thesaurus moment: jocular.

Tracy Morgan

Thursday, 8 October 2009



As the Long Division With Remainders project arrives at the halfway point it is does so in the strongest fashion and what I must concede is my favourite version yet.  Ken Peel is a composer based in Somerset where I can only image such vast surroundings are what allow his interpretations to soar.  There is something wide and far reaching in these adaptations which accomplishes a retread of beauty.

Peel describes his work as “lounge electronica” and it certainly comes with a swing being piano led, accompanied by chilled jazz drums with the occasional sonic interjection for swank atmospheric thrill.  These moments add a lush mood akin to an Angelo Badalamenti indiscretion.

I’m not quite what the intention of these reworkings is but they certainly serve to inflict a decadent climate to proceedings, to enable a new way of mind.  Unlike many of the other contributions, these works are light and upbeat in a winning fashion.

For the second remix the entering rhythms prove all encompassing in an almost Krautrock without guitars sequence.  That and maybe Air with a splash of Walter/Wendy Carlos in the abstract.  Certainly there is something quite continental about the future being relayed with this release.

As the effort arrives at the dot matrix mess of track 3, the swing returns and resumes something of a Twin Peaks/Clockwork Orange mash.  This electronic noir, the kind of sound the gives birth to death.  It is damaging technology of the most lush distraction.  A haunting exploration.

The final fix is a suitably sedate closing affair that continues to sprinkle light right until the end.  This is the kind of stuff that could be used for higher purposes.

Thesaurus moment: twinkle.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009



This is not merely an album but a series of mesmerising releases that represent a very ambitious body of work from Leyland James Kirby who has traditionally been known as V/VM and more recently The Caretaker. With numerous versions of multiple vinyl and multiple CDs, each with individual and breathtaking pieces of artwork by Ivan Seal, the version that I am listening to today is the double CD.

Expansive and vast the work is filled to the brim with emotive minimalism not afraid to draw out a pregnant pause but dedicated to uncovering an eclipsing sound that fills any room with furniture of the mind. As an echo sound rings out all of a sudden the sun begins shining into my room with a fresh method.

This is score music, something designed to layer lives and events, to inhabit the mind and thought process of the listener and energise their being with view to setting them aside from the troubled and mundane. The music lends to breathing space to thought and assists in conjuring conclusions and resolutions, potentially lending answers to moments of internal decay. For this you can be truly thankfully for such a furrowing work of art.

The obvious touchstone is the work of Badalamenti on the Twin Peaks soundtrack, a subtly energised drone pierced by keys that in the best traditional of Lynch is beauty with the suggestion of impending menace lying underneath. It is a harsh realm.

There is a meditative air to this music as the sonic exploration goes long and far, often sounding similar to Kirby’s work as The Caretaker in addition to basically sounding like being submerged under water or dumped into a sensory depravation tank (not necessarily out of will). More or less it sounds like structural movement, be it personal/internal or industrial/commercial. These are lofty heights.

As I emerge on the other side a true sense of euphoria resounds. I have to concede were I to feed this to most people I know they would probably spit in my face or if I put it on the stereo at work I would possibly run the risk of being sacked, this is a very personal experience, one that feels like a genuine connection between the conductor and listener, the author and audience. For such an accomplishment the man has to be applauded.

Thesaurus moment: neubauten.

Leyland James Kirby

Tuesday, 6 October 2009



The Tromans by now is something of a seasoned songwriter that has been subtly very prolific with his output that stretches right back to his stint fronting San Lorenzo. After a number of solo efforts here he is once more backed by a band to great degree of success.

Early on there is a staunch Wire/Gang Of Four attached to proceedings with “The Bad One/House Of The Magicks” as a post-punk Jekyll And Hyde feel slaps/snags the track between the rails taking the listener to a very dark place as atmospherics bubble in the background while in the foreground jagged guitars and snarling vocals rule the roost. This could weather the music of a murder in the rain as a high standard for the record gets set from the start.

As the record revolves equally the sound evolves when a whole new series of instruments are introduced on “Golden Connection” and a mesmerising tone is added like one of those acoustic tracks on a Led Zep record. With it comes a warm trumpet that sooths the sound into some kind of graceful submission and luscious conclusion as the minor epic closes out to the sound of the coast in all its glory.

Elsewhere there a number of hook laden chants but as the album arrives at “The Dead-Eyed Man” a collective shanty feel erupts over dealings paying tribute to the traditions that came before these times.

The standout track arrives in the form of “Acre”, a genuinely epic workout that represents the sound of a man going through torture as the song distorts and descends into some kind of treasured madness but never outstaying its welcome.

By the time the disc rolls to its conclusion the overriding emotion is one of pleasance at what appears to be some of the bleakest times, this feeling is warm(th).

With a raven on the cover looking over proceedings this is a true departure with everything ventured and everything gained as the eleven tracks on display surf over many spaces and genres to create a very accomplished series of events.

Often with these tunes I feel he is singing about me. There is a lot of depth here.

Thesaurus moment: requite.

Owen Tromans

Saturday, 3 October 2009



It has to be noted that when the NME recently gave this effort a mention it stated that this was latest of his many side projects that included Sebadoh! I can’t in my wildest imaginations expect that quote went down well although I think J Mascis could be heard giggling in the background.

So here are the breathy tones of Mr Lou Barlow. I have to admit for years I was scratching my head as to why people were saying Snow Patrol sounded like Sebadoh/Barlow but once it finally clicked with me it was obvious. And here indeed this is now a song that no longer sounds like a Sebadoh off cut, it kind of sounds like Snow Patrol. With that in mind then Domino should be working overtime to snag that section of the crowd and bring them into the house that Lou built and proceed to sell thousands upon thousands of units of Lou, Sebadoh and even Dinosaur product. However unfortunately at this time nobody is selling units by the truckload, not even Snow Patrol.

Over the years Lou’s solo efforts have been mixed in quality and indeed occasionally his own efforts with Sebadoh were often eclipsed by Loewenstein’s. Indeed when Loewenstein put out his record nervously we looked at each other and felt “this is better than a Lou effort.”

The timing and appearance of a Lou solo record at this time is a strange one, especially with a new Dinosaur record doing the rounds. In “The Right” the world is now in possession of a real plodder and not too much else.

I once had a boss called Mr Barlow. He was considered something of a “doddery old fucker” amongst those around him and there is a certain degree of risk that with solo efforts such as this Lou’s little indulgences may end up carrying a similar kind of tag.

Thesaurus moment: listless.

Lou Barlow

Friday, 2 October 2009



Created to accompany and compliment his recent “The Secrets Of Me” album here is Andy Nice again now with a four song EP to download for free featuring a quartet of electronica acts each offering reshaped and enhanced versions of tracks from said album.

The initial reconstruction comes from the hands of fellow Front And Follow recording artists Sone Institute. To the string-based haven of “The 4th Man” now added into the mix are further intricate atmospherics adding a new dimension of mortality. Keys drop into the mix as vastness rules supreme and the layer affect hits home.

Following comes the remix effort of Yellow6 serving to compliment the original cello strands with a delicate bass pulse giving the track “Orangeblu Home” a new lease of energy and infusion of trait before it all breaks down in calculated method at dusk with eleventh hour female vocals emotively dropping in. With it a submerging sensation is added to the already claustrophobic feel of the track.

Stepping up next is the Isnaj Dui take on “Dr Titan” with is a full frontal squeal of angst allowing the cello to breathe in amongst desolate whistles and mesmerising sounds that serve to further enhance the hypnotic aspects of Mr Nice’s music.

Keeping up with the Front And Follow theme/motif of the releases the final remix comes courtesy of Elite Barbarian who also take a stab at “The 4th Man”. This is the most full on electronic remix of the release as bleeps hang heavy over proceedings often snuffing out key textures of the original.

As an exercise in music exploration these four new renderings manage to add new textures to already fulfilling pieces of music creating a whole new identity all their own. Awash with chilled elements none of the remixes outlast their welcome.

This EP can be downloaded for free at www.jointhecircle.net/andy

Thesaurus moment: again.

Andy Nice
Sone Institute
Isnaj Dui
Elite Barbarian