Wednesday, 27 October 2010

VARIOUS – AREA 52 SPLIT RELEASE #001 (AREA 52 RECORDS)


VARIOUS – AREA 52 SPLIT RELEASE #001 (AREA 52 RECORDS)

Here is a four band four song split seven inch dating from around 2002.  And it is a very strong line-up with Trumans Water, I’m Being Good, Penthouse and the mysterious Gravel Samwidge making their way onto the release.

There was always some kind of cross Atlantic kinky bond between Trumans Water and I’m Being Good with this not being the only time that they shared space on vinyl as they also appeared on an Infinite Chug split single together.

This is the kind of music that excels with volume.  Here are the lo-fi remnants of the grunge era, the explosion of alternative that briefly gave the world hope back in the nineties.  Since the beginning of this century however, it has all been fucked.

Trumans Water will forever inhabit a major milestone in my rock education being the support band at my first ever gig back in September 1993 when I saw Babes In Toyland play in Colchester.  Their contribution here “Abstracter Jet Nine” is suitably angular and borderline broken as they continue running with the batten of sounding like early Pavement which to the layman will always be a nonsensical din.  The layman generally tends to be wrong.  It is the kind of song you wonder whether you are playing at the correct speed when it begins.  Mucky stuff.

Their UK counterparts I’m Being Good hail from Brighton and are equally awkward serving up “Your Dog Hates You”, a very scratchy accompaniment arriving with more nonsensical gestures via the words that they say.  This too is a band with a pivotal mark on my rock education being the band that Hirameka Hi-Fi played with in Brighton the night they debuted Ben on drums.  Good times.

Moving on Gravel Samwidge open the second side sounding very much like Ligament albeit with a more piercing near industrial guitar sound.  “What You Need” is a winning as bubbling bass and vibrant drums accompany direct vocal gestures as the aforementioned guitar retains relentless.  It actually turns out that the band is a four-piece from Brisbane much in the tradition of Cosmic Psychos.  Blokes you can trust.

Closing the release is the always reliable Penthouse who generally tended to grunt their way through proceedings in the style of a beer stained London version of The Jesus Lizard.  And “Timmy’s Chagrin” resembles exactly that, rocking in calamitous fashion right to the end when even harmonica makes a show.  Did somebody do something to upset Mr Cedar?

Without question this is an amazing release representing one of the best times that there ever was for UK indie rock.  In taking cues from American counterparts, a few of the acts understood what made the moment.  I managed to see at least three of these bands live and every time was awesome.  Please come back.

Thesaurus moment: recapitulation.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

FAITH NO MORE – KING FOR A DAY… FOOL FOR A LIFETIME (SLASH)


FAITH NO MORE – KING FOR A DAY… FOOL FOR A LIFETIME (SLASH)

This is the fifth Faith No More studio record and the first without Jim Martin on guitar.  In his place came Trey Spruance from Mr Bungle and the results suggest that it was not a natural fit.  Indeed come time to tour the album he was gone being replaced by Dean Menta, a roadie.  A very good roadie but still a roadie.  Martin was always a very popular and large part of the group; indeed he was the non-bogus member of the band chosen to appear in Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey to represent “The Faith No More Spiritual And Theological Centre”.  He was the heavy metal element of the band in more than just chops.  And now gone, things were no longer quite so heavy.

King For A Day…Fool For A Lifetime is not a bad album, its just a disjointed one.  Perhaps the band decided to just take one for the team because Angel Dust was plainly their masterpiece, their career defining album that was almost impossible to follow.  That said it is not as good as The Real Thing either.

I never actually bought or owned this album.  I bought all the singles even when I didn’t necessarily think they were very good but little else appealed about the band anymore.  In fact in a classic move of familiarity breeds contempt, the truth was that one of my best friends loving the band kind of stunk them up for me.

The album came out in March 1995.  At that time I was working at Texas Homecare in Clacton and pretty much spending all my cash (spare or otherwise) on records.  It was less than a year since Kurt Cobain killed himself which had kind of sunk the ship of grunge and alternative rock in general.  Another friend had actually bought the Bush album and things were looking doomed.  Indeed it is said that the death of Cobain weighed heavy on the recording of this album with Roddy Bottum being a friend of Courtney Love who herself was originally a singer for the band.

Bursting out the blocks King For A Day opens in strong fashion as “Get Out” gallops in frenetic fashion playing out like an update of “New Rose” albeit with only marginal difference to the first single “Digging The Grave”.  With that the pace takes a more measured stance with “Ricochet” as a looming presence grips proceedings as the prospects of the piece hang heavy in the air.

The genre hops begin early on this album as “Evidence” swoops in as the third track completely rearranging the mood of the piece and slashing expectations attached.  However once the culture shock has been consumed then exhumed “Evidence” is actually a very good Faith No More song.  Whereas similar tracks such as “Edge Of The World” and shameful “Easy” were once relegated to periphery, the positioning here in the order of a smoky jazz funk number is quite the revelation.

Things return metallic with thumping riffs of “The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies” with its loud quiet loud dynamics and vocal gymnastics resembling something of a queer verbal assault.  Yet again the hook lay more in Patton’s vocal yell than anything the music has to offer.

Then things turn weird.

“Star A.D.” is another funky track, heavy on horns and lounge keyboards taking things in a velvety direction that does not tend to rub in mud.  Exploration often begat explanation.  From perspective you could see it as some kind of David Lynch party track but ultimately it is just a bit too fat, bit too obvious.  There is a lot going but it’s hard to care a lot.

And on that note the juvenile “Cuckoo For Caca” drops in offering little more than a shit caked rework of “Jizzlobber” from past glories.  It is shit on many levels.  And after that arrives the Portuguese “Caralho Voador” with means “flying dick” in its mother tongue.  Even worse than this though is the manner in which it musically resembles “Pets” by Porno For Pyros.  Was the band really so redundant in ideas?

As the record lumbers into the second half the listener finds itself subjected to Faith No More-by-numbers in the form of “Ugly In The Morning” and “Digging The Grave”.  These aren’t bad tracks, just not career defining ones.  And both tracks had appeared on the lead single anyway, so there was nothing new and no surprises here by this stage.

From here the album ends in bloated fashion.  “Take This Bottle” opens sounding like the Guns N’ Roses version of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” as Patton’s Cave-esqe growl coupled subtle slide guitar gives it a damaged swamp blues vibe.  Similarly “King For A Day” sails out in extended fashion again reminding of a mellow Perry Farrell work.  The longest track on the album by the end it inhabits epic proportions and gestures.  However the guitar sound never quite destroys, never quite nails.  There’s a lot of seduction and remorse attached to this moment.

Following up in almost reflective fashion is “What A Day” serving as the third short sharp blast of the album.  In mantra Patton sings “I should’ve killed it”, “I should’ve learned it” and “I should’ve notice it” in remorseful fashion.  Elsewhere within the words is the line “kill the body and the head will die” with is a direct life from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas and clear reference to Hunter S. Thompson.  If only there was a bit more of his reckless abandon influencing proceedings.

With that the sense of remorse remains during the close out of the record as the chunky “The Last To Know” sails out closing the voyage before the huge sounding “Just A Man” ends the album with its regal Asian overtones and clear sense of being the last dance.  In conclusion it contains an Icarus reference coupled with a crazed spoken word section ahead of a lush gospel choir being brought on the scene.

This is tough album to endure.  There is an air of sacrifice attached with a real sense fragility and imperfection, of fear of failure turning into genuine failure.  It has its moments but so does everything else.

It stopped a gap.

Thesaurus moment: bork.

Monday, 25 October 2010

THE SMITHS – BIGMOUTH STRIKES AGAIN (ROUGH TRADE)


THE SMITHS – BIGMOUTH STRIKES AGAIN (ROUGH TRADE)

What kind of person compares themselves to Joan Of Arc?  A very naughty boy.  And he’s not coming out.

Johnny Marr was once quoted as saying that he was going for his equivalent of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with this track and you can definitely hear and feel that in its structure with the pace it drives at (seldom was the band so galloping) and the huge pay off that comes with the chorus.  The closer you listen to the composition, the grander/larger it gets.

The tenth single released by the band “Big Mouth Strikes” came as part of a three song package with “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” and “Rubber Ring” addressing the relationship of their art with the industry that was packaging and distributing it.

Of course the bigmouth is Morrissey himself.  Feeling somewhat slated and harshly judged he just went for it with full sarcasm holding the belief that with many he was damned whatever he said or did.  So on that note, why bother, just strike again.  Bitchy.

Perhaps more popular with the band than the public, Marr was quoted as saying at the completion his thoughts were “this is why I’m in a band”.

On the other side is “Money Changes Everything” which feels an appropriate statement considering the context and relationship with Rough Trade at the time.

Originally Kirsty MacColl recorded backing vocals for the song but they scrapped when deemed “too weird”.  Instead they used “Ann Coates” which was Morrissey putting his own vocal through a harmoniser to sound like a chipmunk.  No, that wasn’t weird at all.

That classic moment when a dark piece of humour is taken the wrong way by a partner.

James Dean is on the cover.

Thesaurus moment: gate.


Saturday, 23 October 2010

KODE9 AND THE SPACEAPE – MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE (HYPERDUB)


KODE9 AND THE SPACEAPE – MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE (HYPERDUB)

This is a slow moving vehicle.  A dense laboratory of scales and sounds layered in magical and menacing fashion.  There is indeed something futuristic about this record.  Futuristic, paranoid and very claustrophobic.

Memories Of The Future is an album worth listening to closely and intricately.  As Kode9 cooks up a series of close beats it is the words of The Spaceape that sear into your soul.  Quite frankly what the man says is disturbing as he employs what has been described as “a man on his deathbed” vocal delivery.  He sounds like a deep crossing of Tricky and James Earl Jones, of Darth Vader mixed with a Rasta.

These two actually make for a very good pair smartly complimenting the other with two sets of resources that meld together into a rich tapestry and nightmarish ride.

On that note the album actually opens relatively sedately as the slow motions of “Glass” scramble around the soul.  The sedate strings and bleeps that eventually give way to the vocals of The Spaceape perform a proper awakening.  Atmospherically it feels the beginning of journey as the track subtly sways from side to side as confession occurs both requested and commanded.

The sound is dub reggae electronica as clipped sonics hang in the air while a deep bass sound echoes through proceedings.  The pace is a slow one aimed towards a weird construct of relaxation and devastation, panic station.  There is a distinct Lee Perry influence at play as the beat serves to make time stand still.

There are many differing down low emotions attached to the various tracks ranging from the dread and menace of “Curious” to the apprehension created by the Hitchcock like strings in “Addiction” while “Sine” and “Correction” just wreak of death and dark endeavour.

Often there is a William Burroughs type atmosphere attached to proceedings and this is felt most on “Addiction” as an accurate and clear description of being strung out is offered in a manner that is most convincing.  Its an understatement to call this claustrophobic.

Throughout it maintains a constant slow pace, remaining one-beat and mostly about the message.  It plays out like a lighthouse serving as a beacon able to calm at stormy times in spite of the scenarios in the lyrical content.

This is a modern horror soundtrack, one best accompanied by toast.  Motion suggests.

Thesaurus moment: nefarious.

Friday, 22 October 2010

JAY-Z – 99 PROBLEMS (ROC-A-FELLA RECORDS/MERCURY RECORDS/UNIVERSAL)


JAY-Z – 99 PROBLEMS (ROC-A-FELLA RECORDS/MERCURY RECORDS/UNIVERSAL)

I bought this disc on the internet from Germany.  That fact is of no significance to anything but I just like it.

When “99 Problems” arrived it was sonically the punchiest Jay-Z track to date.  With Rick Rubin manning the desk it was old school Def Jam exhibiting the kind of sample Run DMC would have chewed up and impaled back in the day.  Its all about the big beat, the boom.  The old school rolling drum machine.

A worrying aspect about my relationship with this song is how the bitch element of the piece didn’t occur to me in the least.  I only sensed myself being frowned upon when I presented the track as a possible play while DJing an indie gig.  The meaning of words really gets lost in hip hop.

So is this song misogynistic?  Being that rap frequently objectifies it could definitely be argued.  But where is the fun in that?  It’s a fine line.

Scepticism aside this single is home to some great lines such as “half a million bail ‘cos I’m African” and “they don’t play my hits, I don’t give a shit”.  Its brash and likeable.

Moving onto the video cred points are earned with the black and white technique coupled with sharing space with Vincent Gallo and Rubin himself.

For a punch and a charge you will never top a heavy metal guitar for such an explosive effect.  Rain down shame on the white people taking it seriously.

Thesaurus moment: rancorous.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

LES SAVY FAV – ROOT FOR RUIN (FRENCHKISS/WICHITA RECORDINGS)


LES SAVY FAV – ROOT FOR RUIN (FRENCHKISS/WICHITA RECORDINGS)

There is a distinct kind of ringing that is attached to Les Savy Fav.  It is there own version of the killer bee, one that even the Wu-Tang Clan could appreciate.  With it comes a stinging assault of/on the senses and a unique barrage of post-punk that is a sound all of their own.

Root For Ruin is the fifth studio album from one of New York’s finest bands of recent times.  Within the rock the energy and ferocity remains, stepping things up again after their slightly user/listener friendly last offering.

The record steps out swinging, punching with the aggressively jabbing/juddering “Appetites”.  This is how every rock album should start with a song that feels like you’re spinning in circles as fast as possible while an angry dog barks in your face before it all crashes to the conclusion of a mantra (repeated refrain) of “I love you to the max, I love you to the max”, a statement seemingly on loan from Silver Jews borrowed by a different set of punks in the beerlight.  And all squeezed into 3.33, half the size of the devil.

As the listener picks themselves up and digs in further the mania maintains with “Dirty Knails”.  This track is home to the wonderful declaration and request from Harrington of “don’t come for me when my body fails tonight”.  Nobody’s perfect.

A strange thing then occurs with “Sleepless In Silverlake” as the opening bars prove scarily reminiscent of “I Wanna Be Adored” by the Stone Roses.  What the fuck is going here?  It all sounds like the band setting sights on cruise control.  It’s baggy.

With this the record plays out in a fun and varied fashion as “Let’s Get Out Of Here” offers dirty euphoria while the guitars of “High And Unhinged” ring out like sirens and “Calm Down” proves downright new wave once past its Jane’s Addiction-esqe opening baseline.

In “Poltergeist” the band is at perhaps its most New York sounding as in a tunnel like departure they sound like Sister/Daydream Nation era Sonic Youth in a moment that sounds like genuine horror, even reminding at times of Suicide.

Things expand further with the surprisingly upbeat and mid tempo “Dear Crutches” which reads like some kind of ode to an exhausted love.  As the words “I don’t want to be your crutches anymore” ring out you sense that there is something of an emotional tampon moment occurring.

Closing track “Clear Spirits” is another lofty excursion that again soars with a similar energy to Jane’s Addiction while exhibiting the kind of twisted noodling guitars that Sonic Youth once offered when in their prime.  Even the boxy sounding drums are magnificent.  This will echo all night.

With this record Les Savy Fav remain ambitious and hungry not afraid to adventure or experiment with their sound.  It’s a pleasure to observe a band retaining its enthusiasm and pulse.  Some bands were just born to be heroes.

Thesaurus moment:

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

LOUIS C.K. – CHEWED UP (IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT)


LOUIS C.K. – CHEWED UP (IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT)

I ordered this CD over the internet because quite frankly I don’t think I am likely to see it in any record shops.  I ordered it from HMV and despite all the impersonal elements of this transaction for some reason it still arrived with a security tag stuck inside the case.  Am I really that untrustworthy?  Or is this CD really at that much risk of being shoplifted?  Surely the latest pop hits CDs are more at risk of being lifted by their audience due to the mere economics of them being tenfold (or in this case thousandfold).  Then you come to the realisation that the hits of the day are coming from wet bastard artists who have wet bastard fans who are not necessarily a demographic likely to steal a CD from a store.  A large part of the demographic isn’t actually likely to even buy or own CDs.  So what does that say about your average Louis C.K. listener?  That they are disgruntled dishonest men likely to rob your store?

As far as observational humour goes Louis C.K. is subtly king.  Much like most people I first encountered him via Ricky Gervais which naturally caused me to be dubious but as I closed my eyes and endured suddenly the words from this man’s mouth were frighteningly on the button.  These were the words of a prophet.

Louis C.K. speaks to the weary middle aged man.  He shares reality and puts on a positive and victorious spin in the face of pure and utter defeat.  This is a man resigned but thriving from it as his truths lend him some kind of head start on the psychosis that is eventually awaiting 99% of us.  This is why the man is a hero.  More and more these days I find myself asking: what would Louis do?

“Every shit is an emergency.”

Chewed Up opens with a track entitled “Offensive Words”.  With that he expresses a staunch nonchalance aimed at dumb conventions.  He says that he misses the word faggot, loves the word cunt and sees only limited harm in the word nigger.  Its all about context and intention.  Being offended is for other people.

On that note the self exploration, the self obliteration begins.  His sense of wear kicks in with “Processing Shame” as he reviews his body conceding confusion from having “ate too much and masturbated too recently”.  This theory applies a couple of demeaning equations to his weight (“your age plus 200 pounds”, “2 boxers, 1 fat baby and a dead dog”).  This is painful and excessive self examination but he owns it, accepts that it’s not perfect but inhabits it all the same.

Having reached the age of 40 he also accepts that he is now “Half Dead”.  And doctors ain’t listening to your complaints once you reach that age.  Fortunately though he is white and in his words “I Enjoy Being White”.  Its not for an sinister, it is just pure luxury.  He expresses empathy and sympathy towards the hardships endured at racist hands but he just can’t help it that he lucked out.  He’s not that saying that white people are better but being white is better, a point reiterated by the white man’s ability to fuck with time machines safe in the knowledge there will be no bondage.  The future however, that will be a different story.  And he is also a man, a white man.  This is the fearless honesty C.K. is known for.  The edginess of the material arrives in the risk of it being taken out of context and misrepresented to evil ends thus the execution need be intricate and precise.  Most people cannot perform and get away with material like this.  It’s a talent.

“Kids are like buckets of disease that live in your house.”

At the time of recording (1 March 2008) he was still married and with that remained a series of issues more Lucky Louie than Louie (“my wife and I we’ve been married for about nine years now so we’re almost done”).  And it is in his pure description of being a parent and his genuine description of dealing with his daughters (“I’ve got two of these fucking things”).  Somehow he manages to say the worst things, describe in the most negatively accurate manner and yet his credentials never come into question (“she’s five, nothing that she says matters”, “she can walk but she won’t, she’s a bullshitter”).  This is material that resonates with a certain kind of man, one that has chosen the traditional and taken on the host of compromises that come with.  This is material that can prompt grown men to punch the air.

It is quite telling that there are tracks entitled “Boys Vs Girls” followed by “Girls & Women”.  His appears a female dominated world with a wife, two daughters having come from a one parent family inhabited by his mother.  All in all this offers him quite the insight, permitting some degree of authority and licence.  He describes the difference as being “boys fuck things up, girls are fucked up”.  It’s a telling difference, one where the male damage leaves a financial toll whereas the female damage will leave a permanent scar.  And that really sums things up all the way through life (“a man will steal your car or burn down your house but a woman will ruin your life….he will leave you as a human intact.  Women are non violent but they will shit inside your heart”).

After the album has finished, this statement represents the reality I will hold onto.

Towards the end he harps on about sex saying that he needs to cum and that he has cum everyday of his life despite having only been fucked about twenty times.  At this point he states you can judge yourself on how good a person you are based on how long it took you to jerk off after 9/11.  His score was between the towers falling.

The set ends with an appreciation of women and dismissal of girls posing as women (“when you become a women is when people come out of your vagina and step on your dreams”).  With hindsight it feels like a loving gesture (a love letter) delivered to his wife just too late.

With that we get a couple of bonus tracks in “4 AM” and “Sweatpants & Vodka” as he expands on living and having to deal with a daughter followed by commentary on modern life and the shortcuts offered by stories in the direction of just giving up.

Afterwards all involved have been self examined and chewed up.  This method of dismantle feels essential in this modern era when so much importance is placed on surface and so little of purpose.  We now live in a time when style overrides substance and character is weakness as any flaw or imperfection appears unaccepted by the majority (the mainstream).  In such a climate people such as Louis C.K. serve a huge function in clawing back the commodity of common sense coupled with hanging onto humility.  Here he is living existence and taking notes on the way with view to expressing and improving.  On a deeper level he is more than mere comedian, he is an agent offering entertainment to sate our sanity.  Of course this is not strictly his intention, he is a Working Joe.  The best ever Working Joe.

More George Carlin than Bill Hicks, he is not the saviour of comedy; he is the saviour of your soul.  And if you believe that: you suck.

Just aim to work on yourself as hard as C.K. works on himself.

Thesaurus moment: amelioration.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

MELT BANANA – BAMBI’S DILEMMA (A-ZAP)


MELT BANANA – BAMBI’S DILEMMA (A-ZAP)

There will always be mysticism and glamour attached to Japanese noise and with that can be an audience guaranteed.  And for tricks Melt-Banana tick so many exciting boxes.

Melt-Banana is a band that literally blasts out of Tokyo as their short sharp stabs of hardcore punk exhibit a most exciting noise.  The frenetic energy attached to the existence is an awe inspiring motion, one best saved and served at less delicate times.

I hate to admit it but for the longest time I did not realise that their vocalist was female, (which now feels crazy to me considering how similar to Manda Rin from Bis I find her).  However being that this was a band so crazy, I just thought they were from a different planet and gender was not an issue.  My bad.  Then again with a track such as “Type: Ecco System” there does feel less than subtle suggestion higher forces are at work.

On that note it is actually the actions of vocalist Yasuko Onuki that brought about the title of this album (their sixth studio album), apparently originating from an incident while on tour in the US when she hit a deer while driving the band’s tour band.  This is not a lady to be messed with.

There is something more J-Horror than J-Pop about Melt-Banana as very quickly song after song boils over into an explosive mess.  When you have heard one noise band sometimes there is the tendency to feel that you have heard them all but Melt-Banana does distinctly offer a varied take on the genre beginning with the unique vocals through to the various sound effects such as sirens (on “Plasma Gate Quest”) and barking dogs (“Blank Page Of The Blind”).  Then you just get out and out measured destruction such as on the appropriated entitled “Last Target On The Last Day”.

The energy that fuels this band is a magnificent one.  There feels three parts to this record as for the first half it takes a more measured, playful approach to noise before hitting a destruction note at “T For Tone” tearing into a quick succession of less or barely minute long hardcore tracks.  All in all it makes for an exhausting listening session.  These songs must be murder to record and perform.  And then with that part 3 is the book end of the aforementioned end of the world sounding “Last Target On The Last Day” which plays out the full on electronic tendencies that are regularly hinted at and threatened in amongst their noise songs.  Then with eighteen tracks done and dusted it is time for all parties involved to catch their breathe.  Bambi’s Dilemma is not just an album; it’s an experience, a total sensory assault.

Leave it to Thumper.

Thesaurus moment: sharp.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

NEIL HAMBURGER – HOT FEBRUARY NIGHT (OFF-PRICE VALUE CENTER/DRAG CITY)


NEIL HAMBURGER – HOT FEBRUARY NIGHT (OFF-PRICE VALUE CENTER/DRAG CITY)

Neil Hamburger is a prince among little men.  Housing a permanent flu his is an awful act akin to Tony Clifton abusively attempting to make sense of the world.  And for that he is a very funny turn.

I have always had the impression that Hamburger was a happy accident.  Rather than being a going concern as a comedian, as an actual act, instead he was something of a figure of fun, a trick that would be played on live rock audiences in the name of meta comedy and stirring a crowd.  But then the act took off.

The first time I saw Hamburger was unsurprisingly at All Tomorrows Parties.  At that stage he was still pretty much exclusively under ownership of indie rock and to see him step out and rag on our rock heroes while insulting the audience was a beautiful thing.  It was an act of bravery by the man and an act of hypocrisy by the crowd.  Where were the people supposed to stand with regards to this act?  The instinct was to hate him, hate what he was saying because he was being insensitive but secretly we liked what he said.  A few years later I would see him again at All Tomorrows Parties and when at the end of the set he would throw his drink at some nacho eating arseholes and they ducked only for it to crash over me, I couldn’t aim blame at Hamburger.

Those guys were in the wrong place, they should have been at the Neil Diamond concert listening to him perform Hot August Night.

“What did Santa Claus give Paris Hilton for Christmas?”

This is a fun album.  Its comedy, its ballsy, its performance art, it’s a test of patience.  Recorded in February 2007 at Madison Square Garden, New York this is Hamburger serving as the warm-up act for Tenacious D.  He is not performing in front of a home crowd.  Indeed he is not even performing in front of his variant of rock crowd.  And faced with such a daunting task, most would go running.  Indeed some of the audience probably did.

It begins well with a nice exchange of salutations but then he drops a clunker opening with a rape joke about Paris Hilton.  The gasp is a wonderful thing to behold.  There are laughs but they are sinister emerging from the evil minorities of bad people and those in the know.  This was strange fruit.

With that for just over thirty minutes Hamburger proceeds to relish the opportunity to do just what he wants, say what he wants and antagonise to new heights.  In the words of Woody Allen through Alan Alda’s lips “if it bends its funny, if it breaks its not”.

His third joke of the evening is a knock knock joke with the most aggressive punchline to such a gag in history.  And at this point he begins addressing the situation; addressing Tenacious D and threatening disrupt proceedings with refusal to leave the stage until the mood picks up.  It’s just what the man deserves.

“What does the Godfather Of Soul Gerald Ford have in common with disgraced vocalist James Brown and activist Saddam Hussein?”

It doesn’t take long for the natives to become restless with their “lines of hatred”.  They don’t care that he is saying the most awful things about James Brown before redirecting his sights on Elvis Presley.

“Can we get some more laughs in the monitors?”

Track 3 is entitled “Shoulder Trouble 07”.  It is a wonderfully pointless nine second moment in serves, which in many ways encapsulates just what Hamburger is all about.

Moving on the material continues to test the levels/standards of taste with cancer, AIDS, retard and vagina jokes.  The intent is to offend but it doesn’t necessarily always happen.  We now live in incredibly stifled and censored times, regulation is everything, and nobody can say anything negative anymore.  And thus as a result awful things can only be said as if delivered on an ironic level.  And for that there is something in Hamburger that frees up the spirit, frees up the soul.  Then the biggest irony comes in the conservative audience (the Tenacious D audience) hating him for saying things that they apparently think while the liberal audience (the ATP audience) love him for saying things that ordinarily abhor them and would cause him to be ostracised by such a community.  This is deep.

Indeed by digging at McDonalds he is acting as some kind of lefty cliché.

A shout out to the Tenacious D crew later Hamburger further pushes the crowd’s patience suggesting that a wall should be built onstage to separate the good audience and the bad audience as a chant of “D” emerges from the masses as he asks if that was the grade they got in their exams before suggesting that they probably got a more positive score in their AIDS test.  You just can’t say these things but Hamburger the hero does.  And then he even pops at another comedy hero in the form of Robin Williams.

Not afraid to take on sacred crows track 7 is entirely devoted to Beatle Paul and one-legged thing that he married cleverly comparing these circumstances to those that were predicted in the song “When I’m 64”.  And finally after that tirade we get our first “but hey, that’s my life of the evening”.

The joke about Elton John and a sabre tooth tiger actually manages to get a round of applause.  The audience is secretly homophobic?  He then jokes about Angelina Jolie adopting in Namibia to another round of applause.  The audience is secretly racist?

“I have a few more jokes before we bring out Kevin Federline and the rest of our opening acts”.

After jokes about the Rolling Stones, Metallica and one man’s breathe smelling of eating human faeces he introduces Tenacious D’s curtain before storming to his finale of asking why Courtney Love won’t be having any cranberry sauce with her Christmas dinner.  And it is at this point he somehow manages to get the crowd on his side with a call and response chant of “cranberry sauce”.  People are so easily pleased.

He encores with a track entitled “His Deathbed” ripping on Colonel Sanders and Sally Field just to ensure that he leaves with no goodwill left in the house.  Incest jokes will do that.  And with that he is done and gone.

At the end of the day Neil Hamburger is an old school entertainer.  He is neither two-faced nor arriving with an agenda, he is not Simon Cowell or some reality joke, he is sincere in the style of Krusty The Clown.

He was paid $25,000 to tell these jokes tonight.

In all its characterisation, this is the real deal.

Thesaurus moment: mordacious.

Friday, 15 October 2010

BUM GRAVY – EXCRETION 2000 (ANTIGEN RECORDS)


BUM GRAVY – EXCRETION 2000 (ANTIGEN RECORDS)

This was a whole Colchester music phenomenon that passed me by first time round.  Where was I?  I truly missed out; this is not normal music or local scene fodder.  It is the sound of destruction and hell.

For the longest time Colchester’s music scene thrived on metal.  When grunge hit bands adopted such leanings but took more the route of the Kerrang version of proceedings rather than indie element.  It was just about being loud.

There isn’t much known about Bum Gravy.  Investigating online it would seem for most it was all about the name first and the music second.  And this was a sentiment that popped up in both the pages of the NME and on the airwaves of Radio One.  This was notoriety for all the wrong reasons.

Excretion 2000 is a sixteen track compilation released in 2001 by Antigen Records collating their entire output which was three and a half cassettes (including the titles “01” and “Smear Campaign”) and one seven inch single.

Brutal from the beginning this music is a rattling chain riot incurring distortion coupled with relentless guitar whistle and crazed, echoed vocals being used as weaponry.  There is nothing subtle or intricate about this noise, it is the sound of technology being abused and maimed.  Here rides a swamp where only the grandest of gestures are able to steer the ship.

The first comparison that springs to mind is The Jesus And Mary Chain considering the painful trough of feedback and distortion the listener is being dragged through.  And on that vibe the vocals are very much in The Jesus Lizard territory sounding like David Yow raging in a hall of mirrors.  Added to the mix is a blunt metal percussion that coasts both a high wave of Big Black as well as sunken punk atrocities and a breadbin/tin can din.

This music is devoid of hook.  There is an attitude which screams Einstuerzende Neubauten and that of collapsing new buildings while the apparent dark sense of humour reminds of Al Jourgensen and Ministry sans salvation.

Listening to Bum Gravy is a pneumatic experience, it will drill your arse.  In a rare piece of info found online they are said to have existed between 1991 and 1995 and were “6 or so people from Colchester who were bored with what constituted independent music around that time”.  Listed as a career highlight is supporting Silverfish at Clapham Grand, which feels a suitable pairing as both acts existed to express similar snaps.

This material is ugly stuff.  “NeR” provides the aforementioned Jesus And Mary Chain experience before “NeR (Version)” follows doing the same in an even more extreme manner.  Then there is the total destruction of “Bum Gravy Bum Dub” which is relentless and basically the sound of things going wrong as interpreted by heavily distorted guitar.

The single “Fat Digester” is a tank of a track which pummels its why through existence for six minutes before “Super M” takes over on the flipside in slightly more driven fashion while remaining a hammer all the same.  Imagine “Silver Machine” done on a very bad and angry day.

The amazingly entitled “Anal Tap” is pure fraggle rock while the equally well-christened “3rd Degree Sperm Bum” heavily echoes the spine of “Suck You Dry” by Mudhoney while inhabited all kinds of sparkling baubles hung from the branches.

There appears a brief obsession with Japan as the nine second long “Tokyo Sex Wall” farts seemingly in a gesture to uncover the brown note before the less subtly named “Tokyo Fuck Loop” puts more effort into being greasy.

Songs such as “OCS” and “Swamp Donkey” prove pure Butthole Surfers, the latter beginning with A Clockwork Orange like intro and crazy religious sample, which remains beneath the radar for the full six minutes in what is quite the subversive gesture.  Little is coherent or convenient about this band.

It all remains dense until the end as “Rock-U” serves a painful drum march for 5.55 minutes and the previously unreleased “Mercury Rising” reverberates for some time after the disc has finished.

How green was my fucking valley and by valley I mean the Colchester music scene.  Not many acts ever made it out of the town.  Some deserved to but most didn’t.  Bum Gravy served up something superior.  Their place is history should be cement even if that cement be used as shoes.

They broke my stereo.

Thesaurus moment: despoil.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

RZA – THE INSTRUMENTAL EXPERIENCE (THINK DIFFERENTLY MUSIC)


RZA – THE INSTRUMENTAL EXPERIENCE (THINK DIFFERENTLY MUSIC)

This is a curious CD that I discovered in clearance bin at Rough Trade.  It is disc born of fanaticism and dedication.  There is no questioning the talent of RZA only how much of the man’s mind (commercially not creatively) went into putting together this collection.  Someone somewhere seems to be cashing in again.  And that’s not necessarily the author.

RZA was always the driving force behind the Wu-Tang Clan.  Even if he wasn’t the most talented behind the mic, he definitely was behind the scenes as he pieced together so many of their tracks on both group and solo projects for the Wu.  Indeed on the band’s debut he scored a produced by, mixed by, arranged by and programmed by credit.  It was multitask in wicked effect.

The album begins in funny fashion with a selection of samples served up as eight minute first track.  Were these fucking cleared?  Why do I care?  However this is a track that should surely be taped onto the end.  I’m from indie rock background and I will never for the life of me understand the mentality of bling and swag, of taking glee in selling out and subsequently mugging it.  Perhaps I’m too pampered.

Fortunately such thoughts soon are wiped from my mind as soon I am recognising excerpts and fragments from Liquid Swords, Gravel Pit all the way to the Underdog cartoon show theme.  In many ways this is just a hip game of Name That Tune.

With that the tracks begin as an instrumental version of “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber – Part II” from Enter The Wu-Tang opens proceedings.  Exhibiting fuzz and drive as it purrs and sails off are we supposed to be doing karaoke over this?  Regardless you can hum to it with displays how effectively the musical construct is there in the programming and orchestration.

From here the listener is offered a full on education in the structure of the raw and dirty horror show sounds of the Wu-Tang.  As much as this partly feels like something of a cash-in, equally for any students of the game it offers opportunity to be used as a menu be it in calculating the orchestration of the beats or just basically to spit over with fresh rhymes.

The selection spread across the 22 tracks is predominantly from the Wu-Tang Clan catalogue as the stripped down versions often reveal the genius simplicity in the beat sequence and loops which stand out over the atmospherics and samples included (although the environment inhabited on “Run” paints quite a picture).

When the record reaches “Ice Cream” Eddie Murphy unwittingly makes an appearance as the track cannot avoid retaining the ODB vocal hook, even though it is a Raekwon track, further illustrating just how his verbal technique was his instrument.

There does feel an explicit restriction of access to the entire Wu catalogue on display here as no Method Man, GZA or Ol’ Dirty Bastard songs are represented.  Or maybe rather than legal soup there was just beef.

This isn’t a record, its research.

Thesaurus moment: manual.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

HAPPY GARDEN – HAPPY GARDEN (RETARD RECORDS)


HAPPY GARDEN – HAPPY GARDEN (RETARD RECORDS)

Happy Garden is a project from the mysterious circle that appears to revolve around the destruction of Doomsday Apocalypse Special.  And as you would expect it is quite the piece of work.

Unsurprisingly the results are demented.  Rather than songs these tracks serve as minor soundscapes exhibiting slender moments of music doodling wrapped up in a wide variety of found sounds and samples.

So the story goes, Mo Rose Lard the sole member of the act previously served brief spells playing in “various illustrious bands” such as Methylated Spirits, The Missing Gender, Da Sheep, Pretentious Death, Des Pulls Tombent Du Ciel and Daishonin before finally deciding to try her hand at solo project and thus Happy Garden was born.

And there’s nothing happy about this garden.  The five tracks on offer here are a veritable nightmare, the residue and fallout of a disturbed mind.  Quite frankly the cover says it all with a scrappily reproduced photo of a crazily decorated doll resembling Regan MacNeil while reminding of the artwork by Cindy Sherman on the covers of Fontanelle and Painkillers by Babes In Toyland.

The opening track “Ramona” serves as a misleading warning.  Clocking in at a mere 38 seconds it serves as some kind of pleasant theme music to run over the top of invisible credits.  And then the horror begins.

All in all this serves as what appears to workings of a disturbed mind.  As “Jiang-Xin-Bin-Xin” rolls with the entry “still hungry?  Ready for something that screams?” and a Hellraiser sample it lives up to its billing of judging another person’s feelings by one’s own.  With a weird pulse it divulges various gestures and playful samples including the juxtaposition of a giggling baby next to a horror movie declaration of “I am pain” all before ending on Andie MacDowell’s nasty dig at Gerard Depardieu in Green Card to the point that it is rendered almost unrecognisable.  And packed into barely one minute and thirty seconds.

Resuming the frailty “Teatime Lovebite” enters with a marching mantra and the declaration “it was a nightmare” as all gets twisting in notes and further samples swoop in from various directions/dimensions circling an annoying keyboard chime.  This time the track does not make it to the one minute and thirty second mark.

The weird samples continue as “Bisela!” begins with the “Froggy love Daddy” declaration from Blazing Saddles as a harp track drives proceedings while various samples cascade across the track and a synth arrives playing spaghetti western music in an updated style.  Then with that a subtle Rocky Horror Picture Show sample asks “I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey” before the track closes on a Foghorn Leghorn quote stating “nice girl but about as sharp as a bag of wet mice”.  Surely Happy Garden is not referring to herself?

With that and less than six minutes on the clock the disco comes to a close with “En Tren” and a sweet organ intro that soon becomes sinister with gunfire and then the field recording of a journey on public transport, which the title suggests is by train.  The track runs at eight minutes long as weird voices appear in motion and all is engulfed in some atmospheric Twin Peaks style of scoring.  And then suddenly as the music accompaniment exits at the three minute you realise that you are now just listening to the poorly taped surroundings of existence and voices from the past that may now be ghosts.  Its haunting.

Happy Garden is neither happy or a garden.  These are the works of a healthy pasture.  You can’t dance to this, you can’t fuck to this but you can think to this.  One out of three ain’t bad.

Thesaurus moment: sore.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

DOOMSDAY APOCALYPSE SPECIAL – A SENSE OF FOREBODING (RETARD RECORDS)


DOOMSDAY APOCALYPSE SPECIAL – A SENSE OF FOREBODING (RETARD RECORDS)

In local scenes there are often bands of legend that seldom are heard of outside such provincial borders.  These are acts that perform against the grain, against the trend of tastes often gaining notoriety and a slender cult following of town weirdoes that not only like the band, they love the band.  In attaining such a reputation an act will earn its stripes often by upsetting more people than it impresses.  And therein lay their charm.

For Colchester and its surrounding areas we have the Doomsday Apocalypse Special.  And they are a truly wonderful act even if they are too frightening to approach.

The word was always that this band was pure early Sonic Youth with a sound so heavily drenched in distortion and feedback there wasn’t really room for anything else.  Bear in mind this is a duo carrying the names Brockerly Moonface and Jabberwocky.  Without effort these two could easily be characters or the focus of a Harmony Korine feature.

On that note A Sense Of Foreboding is not as we know and love them.  Beginning as little more as the pulsing score to Day Of The Dead audio this twenty two minute exploration is a more ambient rendering than full on feedback jazz.  In execution it shakes the confines but does not necessarily destroy it.  And in that effect it proves quite appropriate to entitle the piece A Sense Of Foreboding as anticipation runs rife in the expectation of something incendiary.

Whether it by fortune or design the set makes me think of mechanised adaptation of Earth that is heavy on drone and cunning atmospheric.  Then as the movie samples change so does the guitar sound as things get stretched out and more refined.  As the instruments creek and groan with a whale sound it does feel like a call for help.

As my stereo speakers continue to vibrate I think back to gruesome times, ones where my hum would antagonise as much as this one.  It’s an alien language impossible to decode for most.

Gradually the slow moving object succumbs and dies having taken much of the audience with it.  Jet propelled engines make ears pop less.  The end of the world is never pretty, does not have a beat.  No encore.

And to tie a bow in proceedings we get an aggressive sample/quote from Happiness saying how we are going to get fucked so bad we’ll be coming out of our ears.  Most appropriate.

You can’t catch lightning in a broken bottle.

Thesaurus moment: contaminated.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

JOSEPH SPENCE – BAHAMIAN GUITARIST: GOOD MORNING MR WALKER (ARHOOLIE RECORDS)


JOSEPH SPENCE – BAHAMIAN GUITARIST: GOOD MORNING MR WALKER (ARHOOLIE RECORDS)

This is a crazy sounding record, genuinely individual and original that displays a talent and force unhindered by the usual elements that ruin music.  It is a record that I gained in crazy circumstances on an adventurous night for the right reasons as reward for a rare good deed done well by me.

Joseph Spence is (or rather was) pretty unique.  Or rather that Joseph Spence has been recorded for posterity is unique.  Coming out of the Bahamas, this is pure blues folk music with a noted hint of calypso written and performed out of pure joy for the sole purpose of entertainment and cleansing the soul.  In both his playing and singing Spence displays a methodology not regular or common, an original sparkle that displays/represents humanity on an authentic level.  He was a community musician and rightly or wrongly I have Spence down as being a kind of Uncle Remus character.  The uncharted nature of his music isn’t on purpose; he was just going with his emotions and how he felt.

Good Morning Mr Walker is twenty one tracks of joy (fourteen recorded and seven in concert from Boston in 1971).  Credited for his “delightful rhythmic guitar improvisations” his music contains inimitable vocalisations of traditional gospel and local Bahamian songs.  Indeed on the credits of the record his singing is described as “vocal sounds”.  All hail the rural bluesman; this is the Joseph Spence blues explosion.

Does it matter that Spence played almost exclusively in the key of D?  Maybe but it is certainly more interesting to learn that Spence was the son of a pastor and worked as a sponge fisher, stonemason, carpenter and crop cutter.  This was a skilful man that could multitask.

This is a summery collection full of laughter and joy not least during the live performance of “Will The Serpent Be Unbroken” where halfway through Spence laughs aloud “I don’t know the words” but carries on regardless with his trademark scat as the audience taps into his enjoyment laughing along with him.  And this is not the first on the record that Spence is heard inhabiting laughter.  He’s just a joy to the world.

A special talent such as this could not be presented to the layman but who wants to appeal to the layman?

Thesaurus moment: nourishing.

Arhoolie Records