spread the joy
THERE IS ONLY ONE
Look out for a brand new label compilation to mark our
seventh birthday. 14 tracks including 7 CD exclusives from
Bloc Party, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Les Savy Fav, Peter
Bjorn And John (Girl Talk Remix), Simian Mobile Disco,
Those Dancing Days and XOXO Panda.
In stores from September 24th - Pay no more than £3.99
■fc ■■'" S A
A WEEKEND IN THE CITY
NME ALBUM OF THE WEEK
"one of Britain's best bands"
futn, /Sfcnn tfhnd iwn
f>- ' g
PETER BJORN AND JOHN
WRITER'S BLO CK] ' t
NME 9/10 "Outrageous fun"
- Includes the single 'Young Folks'
THE MIRACLE INN
PLAN B "Good times . . . glimmers
of offbeat pop . . . so endearing"
THE OBSERVER "Gorgeous,
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO
ATTACK DECAY SUSTAIN
iDJ ALBUM OF THE MONTH
"the perfect dance album"
MEN'S NEEDS, WOMEN'S
NME ALBUM OF THE WEEK
"the sexiest dirty pop record
of the year"
COMING SOON NEW SINGLES BY:
BLOC PARTY, LES SAVY FAV, LOS CAMPESINOS!,
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO, THE CRIBS and THOSE DANCING DAYS
www. wichita-recordings . com
1 56-1 58 Gray's Inn Road
020 7278 5070
Publisher: Chris Houghton
email@example.com 07984 814 069
Assistant Publisher: Richard Stacey
Advertising: Nick Taylor
firstname.lastname@example.org 07941 715 815
Printed by Stones The Printers
Warners Group Distribution (newsagents,
retail chains, international) 01 778 391 194
Cargo Records (independent record shops)
Plan B is published by Plan B Publishing Ltd
40-41 Bass Clef
42-47 Animal Collective
50-51 Future Of The Left
54-59 Antifolk (UK)
10-11 Chrome Hoof
12 Effi Briest, In The Mix: Caribou
14 A Sunny Day In Glasgow
16 Read The Label: Yaala! Yaala!
20 Music That Time Forgot: Amiga/ST music
22 Why I Hate.. Bill Hicks
24-25 Tour Diary: Oxbow, Playlist: Dirty
26 Eats Tapes
28 Eyvind Kang.Why I Love...Coldplay's
30 When We Meet: Curses, Surreal, Trunk Boiz
32 Safety Word
34 Guided Tour: Aesop Rock
36 Personal Geography: David Yow
98 The Collaborative Revenge Of... Kramer
8-9 Marnie Stern
60-61 Supersonic festival
62-63 Daniel Johnston, Pitchfork festival
64-65 Sly And The Family Stone, Konono No 1
66 LIVE PREVIEW: End Of The Road, Brighton
Live, Euros Childs, Thrill Jockey, The Locust,
Battles and more
68-69 Scout Niblett
70 The Go! Team, Bearsuit
72 Mekons, Monster Bobby, Old Time Relijun
74-75 PJ Harvey, Kano, Broken Social Scene
76-77 Dirty Projectors, Modeselektor
78 Kate Nash, King Creosote
80-81 Shitmat, Cutting Pink With Knives,
Black Lips, Heavy Trash
82-83 Thurston Moore, Qui
84-85 Jenny Hoyston, Shocking Pinks
86-87 Swordheaven, Supermayer, brief notes
88-89 REISSUES Mayhem, Erik Satie, Severed
90-91 REISSUES Elvis Costello, Summer Records
Anthology, Motorhead, The Sex Pistols
92-93 Daft Punk's Electroma
94-95 FILM & DVD Simpsons: The Movie,
Wild Style, Death Proof, 2 Days In Paris
97 COMICS Aya, Laika, The Black Diamond
plan b | 3
I'm taking a sabbatical from Plan B, so allow me this
opportunity to navel gaze.
Plan B begun as a concept (although at that point it
didn't have a name) on the grass verge outside Southwark
Cathedral in September 2003. We had just completed the
final issue of our previous magazine Careless Talk Costs
Lives, and sat down with too-strong coffee and the notion
that there was space in the market for a magazine that
navigated music and its wider culture while being smart
and playful, intelligent and beautiful to look at. And
would also make us some kind of a living, seeing as
no one other than a print company had made a penny
To do this, we'd have to print on much cheaper paper,
publish monthly, get funding from an outside source (arts
funding organisations were mentioned, as were a couple of
publishing companies). We singularly failed to do the former
and latter, and going monthly didn't happen for another two
years after its eventual launch in June 2004, but those four
years have been testament to the fact that if you believe
enough in something, you can make it work - even if it means
having to live in your mother's loft for 1 8 months.Those four
years have also been testament to the fact that sustaining a
music magazine is hard graft- just look at the number of
titles that have crashed or burned in the same period - but
despite the hurdles, Plan 6 is in better creative shape than
ever before and it's something I'm massively proud to have
been involved in starting.
One question I get frequently asked is: what does a
publisher of an independent magazine actually dol And
beyond having to literally stop presses at 4am on a Saturday
morning because someone's spotted a glaring typo on the
cover, it mainly consists of one thing: worrying. Worrying
that the cover feature still hasn't come in with less than 24
hours to go. Worrying that your distributor has just gone bust.
Worrying that the promised cheque in the post sf/7/hasn't
arrived to pay to get the issue out to shops. Worrying about
worrying too much.
The one thing that we've never had to worry about is
music, of which - because of technology bringing individuals
and communities closer together-there is a wider range
of engaging things coming from places you'd never expect.
ThinkSwedish minimal techno like Aril Brikha's lush and
special ExMachina, through to the unique and mercurial
talent of London's unsigned Stuart James, who I randomly
discovered playing in front of a crowd of approximately seven
(and who finally appears in our pages as part of Everett's
antifolk investigation) at Tony Wilson's InThe City convention
in Manchester last October.
It was apt that I found out about Wilson's passing from a
close friend of his while on a boat with DJs playing acid house
and techno (one was wearing a 'Blue Monday' 7:29 T-shirt),
and raised a glassy-eyed pint or two in tribute. He will be
sadly missed by everyone passionate about music and its
infinite possibilities -everyone reading this magazine.
I don't like to think about Plan Btoo much. Not in that way,
I never really intended music, or editing music magazines
to take over my life to the degree it has. I mean, it's not that
I resent it, just that I find it better not to lie awake worrying
about it, in case I suddenly have a relapse and find myself
a 'regular' job for the first time in, urn, over two decades.
Doubtless, at some time in the future, I'll look back over the
previous six years - the time we've spent putting together
Careless Talk Costs Livesand Plan 8-and shrug, amazed:
that we were able to do so much with such limited resources,
but with overreaching self-belief and enthusiasm and support
from the unlikeliest of places.
Not right now, though. Frances took a holiday this
weekend - her first in over a year, and it was only for two
days! - to go to The Green Man festival; and man, my head's
swimming. What to do first? Finish off writing the six-page
antifolk article (which had two pages added to it at the last
moment), write the MusicThatTime Forgot special (got added
right on deadline), edit down the albums section, edit the
cover feature, tryandcomeup with some cover lines that
don't totally suck eggs, write a last-minute comics page. . .
and today is actually the day afterour final print deadline. . .
man, how does Frances manage to hold this together,
month after month?
Yeah, Chris Houghton is going on sabbatical. Don't know
for how long, right now. This might not mean much to those
of you who deal with the magazine on a strictly reader basis-
hell, why should it? - but, trust me, it's matters a whole load
up here. Alongside Andrew Clare and myself, Chris helped
conceptualise the magazine you're holding in your hands:
I knew that I needed someone to be handling the financial
side of affairs (a lesson hard-learnt from Careless Talk) while
Frances and myself (mainly Frances) looked after the editorial
side; that I needed someone to be the public face of Plan B
to the industry, to broker the deals and cross theTs, and - urn
- worry about the money; to look after the Internet side of
things; to do the forecasts and plan ahead; work on media
sponsorships, coordinate advertising. . .all that stuff so vital
to the continuation of a healthy title. It's going to feel weird
without his smiley face greeting me every time I voyage up
to London to visit the office (Chris sits closest the door, the
better to keep the wolves away.)
In his stead, Richard Stacey-our unsung assistant
publisher (and also ace hip hop writer) - is taking on a more
full-time role, handling administrative duties. . .and I'm, urn,
I'm becoming the publisher.
Editor-in-Chief: Everett True email@example.com
Art Director: Andrew Clare firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography Sarah Bowles email@example.com
Editors: Cat Stevens firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Frances Morgan email@example.com
The Void: kicking_k firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviews: Louis Pattison email@example.com
Film& DVD: EverettTrueeverett@planbmag.com
Media: Frances Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing DanielTrilling email@example.com
Editors: Stewart Gardiner firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Editor: Jonathan Sebirejonathan@planbmag.com
Sub-editors: Lauren Strain, Ben Webster
Contributors: StuartAitken, MissAMP, Euan Andrews,
Adam Anonymous, Hayley Avron, Emily Bick, Abi Bliss,
Natalie Boxall, Melissa Bradshaw, Beth Capper, Stevie Chick,
Merek Cooper, The Corpo, Mia Lily Clarke, Jon Dale, Nick
Dixon, John Doran, Dickon Edwards, Matt Evans, Jonathan
Falcone, Alistair Fitchett, Richard Fontenoy, Noel Gardner,
Kieron Gillen, Spencer Grady, Emily Graham, Hannah
Gregory, Steve Hanson, Tom Howard, Ben Hoyle, Miranda
lossifidis, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Neil Kulkarni.Andrzej
Lukowski, Alex Macpherson, David McNamee, Nicola
Meighan, Sean Michaels, Shane Moritz, Doug Mosurock,
James Papademetrie, Ned Raggett, Eugene Robinson,
Joe Shooman, Daniel Spicer, Ringo P Stacey, Joseph Stannard,
Lianne Steinberg, Lauren Strain, Dr Swan, GeorgeTaylor,
Ben Webster, Robin Wilks
Simon Fernandez www.simonfernandezphotography.com
Mei Lewis www.meilewis.com
Penny McDonnell www.provoke-ism.com
Greg Neate www.neatephotos.com
Owen Richards www.owenrichards.co.uk
Andrew Whitton www.whitton.tv
Graham Corcoran email@example.com
Isabel Bostwick firstname.lastname@example.org
Lady Lucy www. ladyl ucy.tk
Marcus Oakley email@example.com
Simon Peplow firstname.lastname@example.org
Dimitri Simakis www.valianteffort.net
Chris Summerlin www.honeyisfunny.com
Anke Weckmann www.linotte.net
Kai Wong email@example.com
Cover photography: Andrew Whitton
4 | plan b
;l III [ | ;
PROOF Oi 1 YOUTH
the new album
out 10 septekb:
■ oh cd, vinyl, ltd edition "genius" **}*■** observer music monthly on tour in September & October:
bonus track cd and
"thrilling" **** uncut
"absurdly exhilarating" **** gu
'doing it right'
and 'grip like a vie
M i ill
1 1 H 1 1 1 1 II 1 1 1 1 II 1 1 1
see website for details
1 1 ii f n ■ » ■ ■ ' » ■
Bella Union 10th Year Anniversary
Words: Lauren Strain
Photography: Cat Stevens
Drawthe blinds and raise your glass
of amber nectar to Robin Guthrie and
Simon Raymonde's Bella Union label,
which celebrates a whole decade of
existence this year
The Kissaway Trail
Smother + Evil = Hurt
"Where were you when the light got
defeated?" may be a tricky question,
but the cascading shivers matched
with marching, heartbeat drums belie
this song's lyrical ponderousness. It's
jubilant in a measured way, like when
you wake up one morning and make
a conscious decision to change.
Muffled brass and gargles of organ
greet the day like a chorus of pillow-
voices and bathroom glugs. But
despite any woozy-floozy feelings
that may descend, there's a creepiness
to this track isn't just my imagination
- check the video, with arguments
at dinner tables, doors leaning from
hinges, dubious hospitalisation and
giant masked foxes abducting girls.
I write beneath artificial hotel lights
while a flatscreen monstrosity blasts
sugar-rush colour into relentlessly
empty beats. It's distracting; it's brash.
There's also rain. Yet somehow, I'm
not here: instead, there's a waltz at
5am in the dark, as the low-octave
piano trips a little behind the bass,
already half-asleep on the journey
across the carpet towards bed.
Hate Then Love
As the year draws ever more
threateningly near its end, that
internal urge to have done something
important by the time the sun sets
grows increasingly stronger-and you
can hear it here, in the restrained
histrionics of yearnsome guitars
and in Murray Lightburn's adamant
repetition. Don't think he doesn't
Explosions In The Sky
The Only Moment We Were Alone
Magnesium strips burn and hover
in front of your eyes; your eyes,
meanwhile, are so tired that coloured
spots and meta-shapes jitter almost
tangibly before them. I know these
kinds of descriptions are so cliche, but
seriously: the summit of a mountain
at dawn; the flare from a camera lens;
the colossal weight of everything on
the planet settling forthe night.
It begins with a harmonium drone,
slowed-down ultrasound, and those
rich yawns of whales and water.
Victoria Legrand's voice resurfaces
from your distant past; in a picture
frame, or at the bottom of a suitcase.
You find words scrawled in the back
of a long-lost book, given by a friend,
In which John Grant's Denver-based
group gets all deceptively peaceful,
and voices layer like a conversation
across long-distance wires. While the
title suggests that he knows one more
lament won't really make a difference,
you can't deny someone the space to
sing for company, or wish we could
rewind. There are twilights and once-
full, now-vacated houses-y'know,
things we're all familiar with.
Put A Penny In The Slot
He wanders about a room, observing.
He lists the items strewn across the
table. He decides to bundle them
into a package, put them in the post,
address them back to her. Maaaan,
break-ups. Here, Regan manages to
nonchalantly shrug his way through
the memories with just the right
amount of enforced detachment.
Nominated for a Mercury, and all that.
My Latest Novel
Pretty In A Panic
Someone weaved this into a mixtape
for me once. I should have listened
closer back then: the quickly-dragged
strings sound like a loud, creaking
pendulum in a grandfather clock,
while the ending's spoken narrative
talks of melting snow.
If We Cannot See
From Los Angeles, yet bleak. "You
were born with a heart that could
never be filled, " he sighs. Chord
sequences work their way downwards
before electrics scythe through
a lullaby beat; glimmers of hope
in unexpected major keys are gently
brought back to earth.
Lift To Experience
Falling From Cloud 9
Sounding more like a sleepy ascension
than a tumble from the skies, 'Falling
From Cloud 9' sees this Denton band
struggle upwards through layers of
fur and zuzz. "I've come this far and
I said I'd go all the way, " he insists,
swimming against a tide of blurred
guitars and watery dischord.
The Beautiful Boot
One of Bella Union's most praised and
prized, The Autumns build weblike
frames of xylophone and clicks coaxed
from tiny instruments. From there,
they balloon outwards to suit their
name: all slow-motion whirlpools of
tired leaves and cracks appearing in
Peter von Poehl
The Story Of The Impossible
Challenging the upper echelons of
his vocal range, von Poehl can sure hit
some high ones. Admire his fairy-light
use of flute, marvel at his seemingly
carefree leaps in octave, and wish that
you could remember how to whistle
A Lily For The Spectre
With her chilling, feathery tones,
Stephanie Dosen conjures images of
her upbringing. Raised on a peacock
farm, she would sneak to the
roofspace and dream up haunting,
twisted fairytales. Basically, this is
evocative of everything everybody
wants their childhood to have been
like, transposed to a more adult
world of real ghosts, lost animals and
Sometimes, you just have to agree
with their sentiments, huh? This
instrumental is absolute wonderment:
beauty crystallised within.
For copyright reasons this CD is only
available to readers in the UK
6 1 plan b
THE BRIAN JONESTO
Give It Back
iv thurston g
Att)*^ I S^f,^
This new jammer, 12 years
post 1995's "Psychic
Hearts", has a far fuller
bouquet of sonic depth and
proves this sonic dude to
have a very real songwrit-
ing life outside of the
legendary Sonic Youth.
ft.* >/«*»>* 2 NWjirX ?
DJ SHADY PIEZ
From Yorkshire to New York
Notorious Channel 4 and E4
star and internet phenom-
enon MC Devvo is here in full
effect. The real Mike Skinner,
the UK Eminem, the guy
Gold Looking Chain find
offensive releases his
astounding debut full length
album on CD with bonus 2
1/4 hour DVD with lo;
Between You And Me
Full of swinging 60's
Ye' pop charm includir..,
few French language song:
and the single 'Catch Me /
Rat'. It's the usual mi:
cover and new sonc
written by George Mil
Peder Bernhardt and fello
Damaged Goods artist r
Molinari (who also gu<
on one trac
E BRIAN JONESTCfl
Thank God For Ment
: nce the release of DIG! With
le Dandy Warhols, the band
howcases the prolific
rtless brilliance of "
>tones at their fev<
te-1 960s peak.
Pattern And Purpos
This 2nd album from
Somadrone is full of war"
measured tones and slo
burning melodic transitio
It's a record to treasure
;er the internationally
.. 'debut - sparkling
idscapes on a majest
le akin to a Portishea<
invas. Guests: Howe
i, Robert Fisher (Willati
Tie Lost tapes
v fascinating insight in
these rediscovered old
lemsfrom 1991-2001 r
upplemented by one ti
ince their inception in
:001, Melbourne's Grey
Jaturas have been hailed
i one of the loudest and
bands in their homelar
The band have also
released highly acclairr
I've Been To London To
Much anticipated debut
album from female fronted
rock trio Kill Casino. "A fine
grunged up select
spiky post-punk -
(Meeting all oft!
e and out-of-prii
cks, 'Gone' maps
>w MONO grew from
c band to neocl
al metal mastei
overdue follow up to
time on the band's own
label, Short Stack. For
id videos, check
radioplay for their early
singles, suave Scottish <"
Swimmer One release a
id videos, check and uplifting pop musi
Terrific' - Mark Radclif
'Very, very good.' - Th
Aberystwyth, A&A Discs-Chesire, Avalanche-Glasgow, Banquet-
Kingston, Beatdown-Newcastle, Boomkat.com, Cheap Thrills-Newport, CircaRecs-Cumbria, Counter
Culture-High Wycombe, Crash-Leeds, Derricks-Swansea, Disque Islington-London, Diverse-Newport,
FamilyMusicuk.com, Jacks-Sheffield, JGWindows-Newcastle, Jumbo-Leeds, Kanes-Stroud,
NormanRecords.com, OneUp-Aberdeen, Out Of Step-Leeds, Piccadilly-Manchester, Polar Bear-
Birmingham, Probe-Liverpool, Quirks-Lanes, Record Corner-Surrey, Record Village-Scunthorpe, Reflex-
Newcastle, Resident-Brighton, Road Recs-Dublin, Rockaboom-Leicester, Rockaway-Newport, Rough
Trade-Covent Garden, Rough Trade-Talbot Road, Rounder-Brighton, RPM-Newcastle, Selectadisc-Notts,
Sister Ray-London, Solo-Barnstaple, Sound It Out-Stockton On Tees, Soundclash-Norwich,
Soundhouse-Broadstairs, Spillers-Cardiff, Spin-Newcastle, Square-Wimbourne, Tempest-Birmingham,
Turntable-London, Vibes-Bury, World Video&Music-Totnes, X Records-Bolton.
8 1 plan b
onwards and upwards
\ /W l_. I- Hit ™
Words: Frances Morgan
Photography: Simon Fernandez
v * *
Bardens Boudoir, London
"As your breath catches up from where you
began/The memory's the sum of- "
There's the crown of Marnie Stern's head.
on a bright, hot stage,
avvi_m ^vjots and a checked shirt with
her mouth wide open and guitar held high;
a man with dark hair hanging over his face,
head turned towards another fretboard;
a blonde aureole of fuzzy light and side-parted a drummer whose reptilian, unlikely muscles
kirbigripped hair against a worn wall. There are flicker under his slippery skin. As Marnie Stern,
too many people in here tonight, standing too Zach Hill and Robbie Moncrieff play through
still, necks craned, scared to lose their hard- In Advance. .., the scene is less iridescent
fought sightline to Mamie's fretboard (left)
and Zach Hill's cymbals and bare, sweat-slicked
arm (centre). Scared to close their eyes or move
their bodies in case they miss anything.
"Hey! Now! Where does this begin, and- "
A spark of notes, sharp-edged and dirty
crystal. Arpeggios rush out to snag on the low
ceiling and the drums catch them on the way
down, scattering emphases all overthe stage.
There's precision here somewhere, I mean,
there was, but something happened to it on
the way up and it imploded under pressure
and suddenly- FUCK -you can see this music
on your eyelids and it looks like an impossible
shape hovering ready to burst apart.
It's the unmind, it's fractal aerobics,
, it's a glimpse of that place, you
know that place Skullf lower can
go, or Boredoms, for hours at a time.
That ecstatic white light disaster area.
"Hey! Now! Where does it end?"
It ends seconds later, back down to earth,
to the basement, to guitars and drums and
people's backs and heads and the occasional
glimpse of a guitar neck in sweaty air.
Expectations are high. Marnie Stern just met
'hem, head-on. It's one of the fewtimes she'll
■ so tonight, the few moments in which she'll
takthat barrier between here and there.
Lnot a criticism - it's pretty much her first
tour^fcore just an observation of the way
Stern's music flits between immediate and
impenet^Me; the way that, live, you're
afforded only occasional glimpses of its
structural intricacy. You sense it's there, feel
it stretching jerked fingers through the
chaos, but you can't always hear it exactly.
I love Marnie Stern's recorded music because
it renders the world around me immediate,
it pushes life's colours, shapes and sounds-
"Matter, light and enenjKk'-\nto my face,
reminds me with a rush and a slap that here
and now is all there is. Sometimes, her debut
album In Advance Of The Broken Arm, with
its twists of pop and maths, noiseand melody,
theory and practice, hooks hard enough
onto the bandages of negativity andfear
I wrap myself up in to actually pull them away,
leaving me dizzy, sore and coughing up the
secret I don't want to tell anyone for real: th o+
actually, deep down, I do believe in somethi
But live, you're reminded that there's a
bigger, more pragmatic picture too, where
butterfly farm than sinewy, exuberant stray-
cat colony. You remember that life drifts out
of sync often, breaking apart and chasing to
put itself back together again like the drums
fall out of line with the guitar. You remember
that you should practise something every
day. That things are funny, that Marnie
Stern can tell a story about "pooping" on
an aeroplane and then launch into the 'Absorb
Those Numbers' riff that splits the roof open
for a second.
The set closes with a truncated version
of 'Patterns Of A Diamond Ceiling', possibly
Stern's clearest exposition of her music and
philosophy. "The picture in my head IS my
reward, " she insists, defiantly, her voice a little
'Look up now/
she says. 'There's
I want to tell you something. Until she put
her lyrics online I was labouring underthe
misapprehension that when Marnie Stern
sang the chorus of 'Vibrational Match' she was
singing, "I near it! I near it!", using 'near' as
a verb. To say you 'near' something feels archaic
or scientific and certainly not part of spoken
speech, whether that's 'nearing' the Celestial
City or 'nearing' orgasm or germination or
maturity. Noone would really ever saythat,
I thought, apart from Marnie Stern. I saw her
going at something, something gleaming
in the distance, and saying to herself in her
high-pitched voice, "I near it!"
I liked how weird that would sound in the
context of a modern pop song, even if that
modern pop song was an insane melange of
vintage prog-isms, math rock, self-help art
theory cheerleader chants and Van Halen riffs.
Especially if. Even when I read that the line was
actually "I'm near it", it still tickled me.
"Look up now," she says. "There's the
I look up and there's a low roof patchy with
I near it. I'm near it.
plan b | 9
Words: Frances Morgan
Photography: Simon Fernandez
Tell me about the origins of Chrome Hoof.
"In short," replies a disembodied voice, somewhere between a vocodered
rasp and an accent traceable as 'Vintage British Doom', "a few of us were
kicking around in the man-made biosphere, which was erected after apocalypse
15 (in linear time), and were reasonably happy. Peace on earth had been
attained. Then a friend accidentally stumbled across the recipe for 'Zade:
the substance that provides the ultimate high and yet has no side effect. We
generously handed over the recipe - one part 'Zade to three parts Napalm -
to the rulers, so that everyone could benefit. Our whole society was 'Zading
around the clock. Paradise had been attained in an ugly bubble rising 80 km
off the earth's surface. By the way, there are some ancient scriptures logging
all the physics and personal stories of key insane voyagers from this epoch,
hidden in a pair of grey plastic slip-ons," it informs me.
"So, some of us stupidly decided to break law number one of the two laws
that were sacred in this society. Law number two is that you must always speak
in cliches, and law number one is: YOU POO -YOU DIE! Yes, poo-ing was
illegal and punishable by ejection from the warm embrace that the biosphere
provided. What lies beyond this biosphere is literally unspeakable. However,
we found a way of surviving this punishment and formed a band. "
Dressing uplikeBoneyM on the cover of Night Flight To Venus can only get
you so far in this game. Music both arcane and pop-tastic has seen any amount
of chancers adopting cosmic robes and esoteric masks for instant effect, but
I figure that only with a decent creation myth can a civilisation truly flourish.
And if that civilisation then marks its territory with monstrous riffs, death-disco
vox and seismic, synth-embellished, horn-punctuated grooves, truly it deserves
to thrive, and rule -and if the above is true. Chrome Hoof look set to inherit
a universe or three.
'A few of us were kicking around in
the man-made biosphere...'
The multitudinous ensemble's alternative origins are, in fairness, not
uninteresting. Legend also has it that the band sprang from monumental UK
doomers Cathedral, with bassist Leo Smee taking a detour from that band's
brilliant mulch of Sabbath-style monolithism, sedated ferocity and phantastical
subject matter to grow his own heavyweight cosmic party band in the early
years of this century with brother Milo, drummer and one half of electro outfit
5 Mic Cluster. The pile-up of ideas (and personnel) this generated can be
heard on last year's Beyond Zade, where the grooves fight their way through
Medievalist whimsy, progressive flights of fancy and Krautrock-with-hornsjams.
With new album Pre-Emptive False Rapture, out now on Southern,
Chrome Hoof have honed their more meandering impulses into a collection
of ecstatically restrained songs, all of which hit like an asteroid to the belly. The
hefty rhythms still provide the power, along with the supersized, grinding guitar,
but the band's new, not-so-secret weapon is the blistering vocal performance
of Spektrum's Lola Olaf isoye. Many singers would've been tempted to warble
f reeform over the slabs of riff and beat, but Olaf isoye follows the groove to
the letter, a space priestess keeping her alien army on a tight leash. Meanwhile,
horns, bassoon, synth and some audaciously prog violin keep things moving
at rocket speed, while the doom interludes remind you emphatically that space,
while glitzy, is pretty fucking deep (and it is endless).
Chrome Hoof's bludgeoning sonic confidence sits alongside an apocalyptic
sensibility, with the album's title referencing the Christian (splinter) belief that
before we're all saved at the end-times, we'll be deceived first, by a 'false
rapture' claiming to be the real deal. Only the chosen will spot the real one. Are
the Hoof suggesting that their listeners will be among the elect who experience
the 'true' rapture, with their music serving as a psychic shield against illusion?
They think for a while, pondering, "The interesting theory of projecting
images into the sky and direct sensual experience into our brains, from the
technology that has (un)secretly been developed under our noses, to fool us
into giving up our souls -as a last ditch attempt to keep us locked in a spiritual
downwards spiral, before paradise returns to the planet of tribulation..."
Yeah, that's the stuff. "No, not into that 'elect' thing," they decide. "We like
the 'psychic shield', though. . . "
You have been warned. Stockpile yr silver cloaks, and take cover.
15th Sept - End of the Road festival Dorset
18th Sept - Water Rats, London
plan b 1 11
in the mix: caribou
The Artist Formerly Known As
Manitoba talks us through music
for acid and/or algebra equations
Mor Thiam AyoAyo Ne Ne
"Stop press: MorThiam -the Senegalese drummer
and jazz musician behind this euphoric, soulful track
and incredible album - is none other than Akon's papa.
Yes - that Akon. I biked past a guy on the street today
singing, 'Nobody wants to see us together. . . 'Why
does that never happen with his dad's music?"
Lothar And The Hand People Yes I Love You
"Lothar, apparently, is a theremin. It's a rare treat to
find Sixties psych stoners surrounding themselves
with a variety of synthesisers and electronics as well
as with Rickenbackers. This, from their second and even
stoned-er album, is a beautiful love hymn to boot."
James Holden 10101
" Holden's music is a jaw-dropping combination of
beautiful melody and brain-freezing production
prowess. His music both lifts and seemingly falls apart,
miles apart from other dance music and more like a
living, breathing mass wobbling its way to greatness! "
Baris Manco Lambay Puf De
"A masterpiece taken from iconic moustachioed
Turkish psych master Baris Manco's space concept
album 2023, this will have your head nodding until it
snaps off. For his final party trick he goes and finishes
the album with the same track again, but with the
vocals replaced by animal noises. Why isn't there
more of that in pop music? "
Ariel Pink Helen
" I must have listened to this song a hundred times
in the past year. There's something effortlessly great
about the soaring melodies and the patented Pink
production sludge that belies how fantastic it is. Sweet
Paul McCartney Ram On
" It's all very well going on with your life either taking
for granted or pooh-poohing the vast talents of old
P Maccers, but it pays to sit down and listen to a track
like 'Ram On' every once in a while and remember you
have 1 00 of his melodies permanently embedded in
your brain. Furthermore, this track sounds like a gold-
plated ice cream sundae of love."
Daft Punk Emotion
" Daft Punk have been victim to unjustly poor press
and assaults on their musical territory by two-bit
pretenders to the throne but listen to this, or see them
live where possible, and remember why they are the
great pop band of our time. Emotional."
eff i briest
Photography: Brian Tamborello
Clusters of notes drift centrifugally, like a rash
spiralling across a body. Guitars glisten, preened
sea-feathers, shivers of bells, basslines impossible
Escher staircases. Vocals, old scars, f larepaths,
chalkboard symbols. And OK, I know, but this is one
of those bands that sidestep simplification, fox you
into metaphors. There's something almost liturgical
about the fusion of tones. There's something
'Everything about the
story has to change'
inscrutable about how such complex structures, as
lateral as narrative, came into being. We need facts.
Kelsey Barrett (vocals), Elizabeth Hart (bass),
Corinne Jones (drums), Nicky Mao (acoustic guitar,
violin), Sara Shaw (electric guitar), Rebecca Squires
(accordion, clarinet) and Jessica Stathos (percussion)
are seven 2 1st Century women named after one
(fictional) 19th Century woman (Eff i being the
doom-laden heroine of German-language realist
writer Theodor Fontane's 1 894 'adu Itery tragedy'
Effi Briest). We need feedback. But when I ask them
to explain this paradox, the mystery only deepens. . .
"Not unlike the Borges story where a 20th
Century author attempts to rewrite Don Quixote,
word for word -the meaning of the book changing
by virtue of the new world-historical context in
which it finds itself -we are rewriting the character
of Effi deep into the far future. So far into the future
that everything about the story has to change. . . "
What influences do you agree on (if any)?
" Kleenex/Lilliput, Lonnie Liston Smith, Marconi
Notaro, Don Cherry, Tuxedomoon, Fleetwood Mac,
Ghostface, Irma Thomas, Congos, Otha Turner,
Seems to me there's a progressive increase
in groups growing out of the classic compact
unit of a few musicians -this foundation shift
must influence everything else bottom-up...
"It's a broader palate to work with, and frees
your hands as an individual in the group to not
have to necessarily always be holding it down, so to
speak. Plus there's more going on - more to see, and
the layout on stage and in your ear is more spatially
involved. The songs evolve out of this or that
fragment of an idea, but they wouldn't become
what they are without everyone having their say. "
Does having a large group allow for more
multi-tasking and fluidity of parts?
"We mainly stick to our instruments of choice
but a lot of ideas are generated by playing them
Are songs more likely to be collaborative/
conceptual projects than biographical or
"The making of the song is the inroad that leads
us to the idea. Once we're in it, it becomes personal.
Then we can play it because we've been there. Or
we're there right now, looking out at the listener."
Do you feel that having more people in the
band makes you more self-sufficient?
"We think about it in the same way Sun Ra
characterised the early jazz big bands- as models
of a societal ideal. Self-sufficiency, yes, but also
interdependence. Music made in a group can be
the living image of solidarity. "
Have you all read the book? There are
enough of you, I note, to make up a pretty
decent book club.
"We're writing the book. "
12 | plan b
"Autumn of the Seraphs"
New full-length album out 10-9-07.
2007 European Tour:
Sat 10 Nov
Sun 11 Nov
Mon 12 Nov
Tue 13 Nov
Thu 15 Nov
Fri 16 Nov
Sat 17 Nov
Mon 19 Nov
Tue 20 Nov
Wed 21 Nov
Thu 22 Nov
Sun 25 Nov
Yl o u C a '" Q o$
c ► da
WWW.CODAAGENCY.COM A * \
SALES & MARKETING
Words: Fiona Fletcher
sonictechnicians A Sunny
Day In Glasgow talk chaos
Complexity Theory arose from mathematicians
working on the edge of chaos, noticing patterns
emerging from apparent randomness. Computer
models for weather prediction spiralled out of
control; tiny variables could have massively
unforeseen consequences. Scientists attempting
to increase the signal to noise ratio in transmissions
found something strange about static- it possessed
self-symmetry at every scale. (Think of the
conurbations of a coastline, or the self-replicating
patterns of the Mandelbrot Set.) Boosting signal
strength didn't produce clearer transmissions, just
louder noise. Even primitive artificial intelligence
was caught up in this burgeoning field. The really
interesting stuff didn't happen in the cold, clinical
lines of mathematical simplicity. It arose in the fuzzy,
multi-layered swirls of Complexity.
Philadelphia-based A Sunny Day In Glasgow play
with Complexity the way Jackson Pollock played
with paintdrips. Electronic pulses, samples of gently
twinkling mandolins, snippets of poppy girl group
harmonies swirl together, interfere in audio moire
patterns, coalesce into gorgeous shards of song,
smothered in bursts of warm fuzz. The layers part,
stripped back to their basic components, or pile
on top of one another in a massive joyous rush of
enveloping noise. Kind of like Loveless, Psychocandy
and Lush cut up, William S Burroughs stylee, then
regrown in petri dishes by the Aphex Twin.
I ask laptop boffin Ben Daniels if their music
evolves though accident or design. "There are no
accidents. Chaos is just a complex pattern. But
everything is probablyjusta metaphor anyway,"
he replies. His working method is an organic growth
process. "The songs were just what came out of my
mind. Usually songs start on the guitar or mandolin,
but these started from samples or mistakes from
another song. 'Von Karman St', '5: 15 Train', and
'Shame, Who Wouldn't...' are all based around the
exact same samples of a mandolin harmonics that
I was just screwing around with."
How would they like listeners to experience their
music? "I'd like the listener to be alone, listening
to it on their iPod, walking around. Or maybe just
before or while taking a nap? In a live setting,
I definitely want to be in the background. My ideal
live experience is playing on a dark stage where
people can't even see us but go about their evening,
'I used to have
with us as the background. I don't like it when I go
to shows and the band says something like, 'Come
up front and dance! ' I want people to do whatever
they want, as long as no one is harmed.
"The closest we've come to experiencing my
live ideal was this summer in Chicago. We played
at this old Baptist church that is now an art space.
The band set up around the altar and the crowd just
sat in the pews. There was a crucifix hanging above
us to which was attached a neon Jesus. If they had
turned out all of the lights except for the Jesus, it
would have been perfect."
Conversation comes full circle back to weather,
the effect of barometric pressure on mood, "lam
obsessed with weather," Ben confesses. "With the
exception of our most recent tour, every time I've
passed through Indiana I have been almost killed by
tornados. I used to have reccurring dreams about
them. The dreams would be a different sort of story
each time, but the tornados were always the same
and the dreams were always terrifically scary.
"Once, the dream was set in my grandparents'
cabin in the Poconos. The sky was this really eerie
grey and on the horizon were about 1 5 tornados.
I was standing on the dock at the lake staring at
them, there was a brown bear at my side, and back
in the cabin were about 20 children in a sort of
duck-and-cover crash position. It was terrifying, but
I could only stand there. Then, about a month later
(in reality, notthedream)l was up at the cabin and
the sky and everything was exactly like it was in my
dream. No tornadoes, bears or children though. It
was creepy but nice. Rather than being scared I was
filled this sense of purpose."
So what are your dreams and goals? "Buy a big
farm in Vermont or Bucks County, Pennsylvania,
with lots of trees. Build a nice studio, learn how to
farm and make cheese, and then buy a big bus and
go on tour for the next several years. "
Well, if you're going to have lots of trees, what's
"I am a big fan of trees. They are remarkable
organisms. Picking a favourite is too hard, but
I like maples, especially Japanese and Sugar ones,
any fruit trees, cedars, and pines. I've never seen
asequoia, but I would very much like to."
14 1 plan b
MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND
"BRING ME THE WORKHORSE"
Out 3 September
"Impressive" The Independent
"A Dark, meditative debut" NME
"Brilliant debut" Q
"Beguiling... coloured by lush orchestration" Uncut
September 01 , 2007 Stradbally ■ Electric Picnic
September 1 5, 2007 Dorset • End of the Road Festival
September 1 7, 2007 Dublin - Sugar Club
September 1 8, 2007 Glasgow ■ Nice N Sleazy
September 1 9, 2007 Birmingham ■ Glee Club
September 20, 2007 York - Fibbers
September 21 , 2007 Manchester - The Roadhouse
September 22, 2007 Bath ■ Moles
September 23, 2007 Exeter ■ Cavern Club
September 24, 2007 London - Luminaire
SHAPES AND SIZES
"SPLIT LIPS, WINNING HIPS, A SHINER"
Out 17 September
"Gloriously deformed indie" NME
"Appealingly elliptical Canadian pop" Uncut
"The only real constant on this record is
"IN THE VINES"
Out October 2007
Between the serpent, elephant, bees and rats,
there is honey representing a strange sense of
hope and delight in the brief moments of beauty
that sustain our lives.
On tour in the UK in October and November
ASTHMATIC KITTY RECORDS
WWW.ASTHMATICKITTY.COM • POST OFFICE BOX 1282, LANDER, WY 82520 USA
Boy Scout Recordings
on tour, September 2007
Featuring: Dawn Landes,
Turner Cody and Sargasso Trio
The End Of The Road Festival, Salisbury
The Barfly, Cardiff
The Boardwalk, Sheffield
The Spiu, London
The Playhouse, Norwich
The Social, Nottingham
The Barfly, Brighton
The Water Rate, London
vi-wii'.lKjitwiriKiiffllingSJCOiit und wvwunjfipswjwii/lxyseiHdiHioBiingj
Various - Thrifty, Brave and Clean
Hnfiil, prrij and hrl/uire Its! fun Elin H
Ttma-s Ibt jpttlqsjn *m Hum nmmmn ftW iturmzgrni - Cbdi
What ami j& **Uh,ir hna rfofcQ - htf
Turner Cody - Quarter Century
'Tbtrt'fffs/kjm * (n hud frm - MM H
.■1/afmMtfr mn/Bfi aStf ihtrpii n)f tiifthf - PI HI D
} lie avrjfyiir} fijrtqwitfr fcwrtWbqf - The GuonHian
Dawn Landes - Two, three, four
\l~rkomt Dam Ijwtkf in fa sottt hfr - Wi mi
WW £ctnr jvt fiimfomxfir imrr - The Sun
Pwrrfxt whI pinjfuf ■ Q
YORO DIALLC * ;i
read the label: yaala yaala records
Words: Hannah Gregory
The releases of the Yaala Yaala label tread
determined rhythms and rove roads, unbound.
By the grainy black and white photography of their
jewel-cased sleeves -a single bilbao tree, a black
dog on scorched stones, wiry children playing in
their underclothes -you'd sense we're far from
home. North West Africa, you're told - Mali,
to pinpoint the spot. Somewhere along the
intersection of river and ravine, desert and urbanity,
where you'd imagined Ali Farka Toure spun his
festive coloured ragasand picked his dusky far-flung
blues. Mali, with its flag of three colours, borders
on seven nations, and winding paths of ancient
and alive musicianship, played out here, for your
ears, beneath one loud searing sun.
Label founder Jack Carneal relocated to Mali
Winding paths of
ancient and alive
eight years ago. Frequenting the kaseti shanties
of the local markets of Bougoni and Bamako -
place names which, if said with attitude, sound
like rhythmic cusses in themselves, he was soon
swallowed in the sounds of the towns' streets.
Streets to which he didn't quite belong, drawn
to djembe drums, electrified lutes and amplified
gourds. He recognised traditional patterns, familiar
from the exported discs of Salif Keita and Toumani
Diabate, and a piece-it-together attitude he'd
absorbed long ago (albeit in a different form)
back in New York. He saw ancestral rites played
by inventive new hands, whose cultural grand-
parents he had believed to be the likes of the
aforementioned exports, but whose lineage was
in fact thanks as much to electric DIY and distortion
- a customary part of Malian music.
"Ourfriends listened to bootleg cassettes of
shows recorded on battery-powered boomboxes
out 'en brousse', or donsongoni ('hunters' harp')
He dubbed the label imprint 'Yaala Yaala' after
one Bougounian musician's response to Carneal's
daily "Cava?" "Yaala Yaala," would come the reply.
"Just wandering." Carneal recorded the sounds
he found en directe, and these three serendipitous
releases are now available through Drag City.
Daouda Dembele follows the tradition of the
griot, or jeliya ('transmission by blood'): a caste of
professional musicians and orators whose surnames
have resurfaced throughout their culture's past,
artists bound as craftsmen and home historians.
They recite genealogies along scripted refrains,
or improvise lyrics around litanies of names, honed
and paraded to the pride of their predecessors.
Pekos/Yoro Diallo's rambling duets string
stripped vocals over ngonis (lutes), whose hollows
they rig with mics. They utilise fishing lines to fizz
and scratch, pacing rhythms that circle one step
forward, three back, in the distorting rays of the
equatorial sun. While one lute takes the role of
rhythm guitar, the second emits furious plucks
and screeches over the top, making for a tinfoil-
scrunched recording quality that the 'worldly'
likes of Devendra Banhartcanonlytryto reproduce.
The pair urge each other on into rough two-
chord riffs, gaining speed and impetus to the
audience's delight; a sprawling, heady dirge
that fades into rust-red horizons with the day's
Here, the various voices of Bougouni Yaalali
take over, throwing a hoe-down al fresco -the
equivalent to a NYC block party, with metal
scratched for cowbell, a balafon rigged through
horn speakers for xylophone, and an involved
crowd of revelers collaborating in this music
for simple and immediate appreciation. You can
imagine the little jumps of joy as Carneal heard
the rumble of drums and laughter around the
corner, and came across dancing, a spread of
home-crafted instruments, and a woman - with
a rasp like Billie Holiday-singing joy eternal.
It was Carneal's aim to extend this appreciation,
with non-profit and whole-hearted intentions,
but there is some discussion as to whether his
recordings, "Auditory documentaries of a very
particular place", are justified. He brings their
sounds to our ears, as we seek exoticism and street-
cred in their rusticity. The marked gap between
performer and listener launches conflicting claims
of otherness that we cannot deny. The various
musicians on Bougouni Yaaliare anonymous, and
the other two records are untitled aside from the
performers' names; tracks are simply numbered and
no context is given.
Even so, Yaala Yaala, like their comrades over
at Sublime Frequencies, at least allow this music
to speak for itself in its strangeness (if, to not-so-
foreign ears used to a myriad of collected sounds
from other people's travels, dreams and kitchen
tables, it really seems that strange).
And the artists, we can hope, will continue, all
the while, in their wandering.
16 | plan b
ALEXI MURDOCH ( only)
AND JOHNNY FLYNN (•only)
Tues 23 LEEDS CITY VARIETIES *
Weds 24 GATESHEAD *
SAGE GATESHEAD VI
0191 443 4661
Thur 25 MANCHESTER *
08700 600 100 ^
Fri 26 BELFAST* Tl
028 90 97 11 97 p.
Sat 27 DUBLIN •
TEMPLE BAR MUSIC CENTRE
0818 719300 5
Sun 28 BRISTOL ST GEORGES *
0845 402 4001
Mon 29 EDINBURGH • s
0131 668 2019
Wed 31 LONDON •
SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
0870 771 2000
Thu 1 CARDIFF THE POINT*
Fri 2 BRIGHTON •
ST GEORGES CHURCH
Sat 3 NOTTINGHAM*
08713 100 000
Sun 4 READING •
0118 960 6060
«*■» gam : % -
3S w* ERt "^
THRILL JOCKEYS 15th ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
NEW ALBUM THE SHEPHERD'S DOG
RELEASED ON TRANSGRESSIVE RECORDS IN SEPTEMBER
AN ATP CONCERTS & SJM CONCERTS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH CODA
THE FIERY FURNACES
THE SEA AND CAKE
DANIEL HIGGS &
SUNDAY 11 & MONDAY 12 NOVEMBER
Exclusive Free TREY TOLD 'EM (Girl Talk & Frank Musarra)
mix of entire Thrill Jockey catalog comes with every ticket!
L' Tues lltii Dbc.SCAL
iH nr wumn nswrwiti ir mwBDr
LES SAW FAV
MONDAY 22 OCTOBER
AN ATP CONCERTS PRESENTATION
PLUS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS EARTH
MONDAY 10 DECEMBER
TICKETS ON SALE FROM BOX OFFICES VIA
www.seetickets.com *- www.gigantictickets.com • www.ticketweb.co.uk *- www.statgreen.com *- www.wegottickets.com
■ www.atpfestival.com -
Words: Stevie Chick, Frances
Morgan, Louis Pattison and
llustration: Lady Lucy
In which the villainous and decadent Plan B home team
attemptto drag a visiting Stevie Chick down to their level
But will they succeed? (No)
Our Last Night Together (Rough Trade)
The first recorded output from Verity
Electrelane's alter ego and solo project,
taken from an EP of Arthur Russell covers
(also boasting Taken By Trees, Joel Gibb of
Hidden Cameras, Jens Lekman). Songs of
her own (on her own) coming soon on Too
Pure's own singles club.
Kick: 'Decorous'. Mooning, in vocal sense.
Stevie: I'm thinking of arts channel idents,
adverts for skin cream.
Frances: It's odd to hearArthur Russell played
on a piano. I don't think he ever played one.
It gives it a very different flavour to his sound,
which was cellos, drum machines, trombone.
Louis: This whole EP is really good, actually.
It demonstrates Arthur wasn't just a sonic
innovator, etc etc, but also a really great,
Kick: Steve Albini said (in a post on a poker
forum) that he admires the way Verity can
think through complex musical forms.
Stevie: Very unhurried, I guess because she's
singing about things that can't be hurried.
Boy/girl lo-tech gameboy fanciers
marmalise track by LA hardcore act Health.
Scheduled to play an underage festival,
which seems a brave booking decision
unless it's a youth detainment facility.
Kick: Mario on Super Mario Qualuudes™.
Louis: Or Daft Punk stripped down to 4-bit.
Frances: Dead behind the eyes, like the
people in Liquid Sky. It's a good look.
Louis: So apparently the guy plays a keyboard
fitted with a chip from an Atari console.
Frances:Andthegirl hasa chipfrom an
Atari console fitted in her brain.
Kick:Their fanbase wants them to be as
scuzzy and fast as poss, so this is kind of
Louis: Really desperately sad feeling. . .that
tears-on-the-dancefloor thing, but more
desolate and washed out.
Frances: I like the sedated quality.
Stevie: It's weird how people record these
ersatz pieces, recreating every part of an era's
sound - limitations, glitches - are they to be
heard a 'undiscovered nuggets' from that
era? Or a further generation of it? I guess it's
a question you could ask of all retro music.
Frances: Painkillers. Paramol. Syndol.
Death Of You (Merok)
Half of a split single with Pre, conveniently
linked by the fact they have the same lead
singer, Akiko - who also plays with DJ
Scotch Egg in Drumize. Pre have previously
released split singles with AIDS Wolf and
Stevie:The thing I like about Comanechi is
their heavy stuff reminds me of Scout Niblett
when she gets very sludge Sabbath - it slows
down, the tempo is loose, there's a chaos. . .
Frances: Did she just say, "Fucking retard"!
Kick: Not cool.
Stevie: Akiko used to be in a band with
Kick: She's a compulsive collaborator.
Louis: I seem to prefer practically everything
influenced by Sonic Youth over SonicYouth
Stevie: I wouldn't want to exist in a non-
Sonic Youth world.
Kick:This churns like gastroenteritis.
Lower State Of Consciousness (Turbo)
The press release eschews any info for
a jumble of phonetics approximating the
click/bleep carnage of the record. Justice
remix the B-side, to give you some context;
the company our nameless freaks (oh, OK,
Tiga and Zombie Nation, secretly) keep.
Frances: So, this is the 'original Munich
version' . . . What happens in Munich?
Kick: Lots of public sulking, by the sound
Louis:That's a very scary sound. Like the
Stevie: It's one soul clap away from being
the intra to 'CarWash'.
Franceds: I like the filters on this.
Stevie: Is the title a ref to Josh Wink, 'Higher
Frances: Yeah, it's Josh Wink experiencing
Kick: Lower and lower, and slower and
slower and slower.
Frances: Entropy is what's shaping all this
snooze-disco that's around at the moment.
Kick:This is what card-cloning sounds like.
People in Munich dance facing the wall.
Louis: If you went to a club that played
this and Crystal Castles, you would emerge
missing an important piece of your sanity.
Frances: I dunno, I think you'd survive.
Louis: By eating bugs and things.
Kick: But you'd lose the ability to tell
the difference between killing insects
Frances: I LIKETHIS. I've decided.
Kick: It's a bit aimless, though, isn't it?
Frances: It fits my mood of negativity. And
confusion. And apocalypticness.
Stevie: It really won't die. It is like
Gang Gang Dance
Nikoman (Young Turks)
New York ethno-fusion sorts, finally signed
this side of the pond. Following their
'Retina Riddim' EP/DVD earlier this year,
the band have recently been uploading
daily video tour diaries to YouTube. Fancy.
Frances: GGD are the progenitors pretty
much of the whole punk/world musicthing
in NYC, all the DIY ethnomuiscology- which
I find interesting as a concept. Animal
Collective and Black Dice have elements
of it. But GGD are the most Middle Eastern,
and they've really upped it on this record.
Kick: Really well-judged histrionics, there. It's
totally Hitchcockian, this record. . .
Louis: I really like the beat to this. It's quite
wonky and bits seem to come in late.
Kick: . . .if Hitchcock made blaxploitation
films in Paris. I like this a lot.
Stevie: It's like analog MIA.
Kick: I like how it has 'movements' within
it, too. It has a whole series of alleyways
Frances: Cue lots of hipsters trying to
Kick: Oh God, please no.
Stevie: Sounds like what bands like The Slits
and Essential Logic ef a/were reaching for?
Kick: It would be awesome if Middle Eastern
music got hip.
Frances: It has the weird linear quality of
'real' Middle Eastern pop. Like it could go
on a long time, without choruses.
Stevie: Yeah, song cycles - stories told
Fight Like Apes
Jake Summers (Cool For Cats)
Punk pop from Dublin, Ireland. Discovered
by one of the Frank And Walters. Describe
themselves as "highly-motivated couch
potatoes". Cursory research taught
us there are lots of Jake Summers on
Kick: Intro's a bit. . .underwhelming.
Frances: You wait til it gets going, the lyrics
Louis: Kinda reminds me of a cross between
YYY's 'Maps' and the Gold Chains song
where he samples Stereolab.
Kick: A montage of indie moods.
Stevie: I like it more now she's shouting.
18 1 plan b
fcano piy o*nc ?
Eternal negativity. And confusion.
Louis: "I've got a pocket full of fist/You've
got a stupid face".
Frances: I like the drums. And the way the
singer just doesn't stop, just keeps going
on one note.
Kick: It's OK. Find it difficult to go further
Stevie: I like it but I can see the influences
very clearly, and they don't quite obscure
them enough. She's very Karen - some
identical tics an' ting.
Louis: It goes between sweet and savage
very nicely, I think.
Frances: I like the teen angst, because I am
Sub Island (Soul Jazz)
Following their BoxOfDub comp, Soul Jazz
go beyond compiling current Dubstep to
releasing new material. First up, the young
prince of the scene drops one for the
Sounds Of The Universe massive. The
B-side is called 'Pass The Red Stripe'.
Frances: Good on Sounds Of The Universe,
they can't put out reissues forever. They must
be running out ofthings...
Stevie: It makes me want to skip rope.
Louis: I sense we're only getting about 1 per
cent of the bass through the office speakers.
Kick: Yes. But we can use our imaginations. . .
Louis: There are really only whispers of
actual dub melody, it's practically all bass
Kick: I imagine a polar bear with an erection.
Sorry, but I do. Like a pink popsicle.
Stevie: I like the distant piano.
Kick: Plan S— for music lovers andzoophiles.
Louis: When the bass goes it's like a massive
weight has been lifted.
Kick: I feel bad, 'cause I do quite like it. In
a non-sexual way.
Louis: It's pretty heavy stuff.
Kick: Skream seems pretty good in not letting
sci-fi gimmicks take over his sound.
Stevie: Yeah -flab free.
Near Enough For Jazz (Jonson Family)
From Nottingham, and only a year old,
though some of their 'personnel' used
to be in The Murder Of Rosa Luxembourg.
Still book their own shows, and a lot
Stevie: I like the lead guitar playing all over
the mulch, very sonixyoof. It wouldn'tsound
as good on CD, you know. Swampy, innit?
Frances: IT'S GONE NOISY.
Stevie: Sounds like it was taped in a muggy
rehearsal room, bad heads and heavy hands.
Frances: And the smell of drummers.
The singer reminds me a bit of. . fuck. . .
Vi Subversa from Posion Girls.That's a
Louis:The breakdown is like even in the band
except the bassist died, and he decided to
Kick: Nice melancholic Sixties kids
Louis: And ends with weird Forties jazz.
Vile Vile Creatures
Arrived with a 'covering letter', because
" Press releases are lame" . Kind of liked
them already, at this point. Quoting Emma
Goldman instead of giving band refs ("Also
lame") compelled us to play the thing.
Frances: Don't know what to say about this.
Kick: Party dress, handstands, sick.
Frances:The best thing about it is the
momentum, the speed and the crazy bass.
The bassist is really good.
Stevie: Probably a monster at guitar hero.
"Ill can seeeeee, the wiiiiiiinter treeeeees. . . "
Frances: Oh no, Sylvia Plath.
Kick: Dolls house falling down the stairs.
Stevie: Sounds a bit Erase Errata - like that
clipped tautness. I will buy them better
cymbals (of course I won't really. Cymbals
Future Cut Vs Fallacy
Drug Of Choice (Ahead Of The Game)
Big on 1 xtra, with a guest spot from Virus
Syndicate mainstay Goldfinger and on
a new label set up to fuse urban genres.
Stevie: I remember people saying he was
a groundbreaker when his debut came out.
Frances: It's very slick.
Kick:This sounded pretty good when the MC
was setting the pace, but the slightly mob
rule neo-soul chorus lets it down a notch. . .
Louis: What is his drug of choice? 'Music'?
Louis: It's almost the sort of thing Outkast
would do, this chorus. He used to shoot
crack, but now he shoots tunes. And
apparently keeps other MCs on detox.
Frances: How do you shoot Tunes? Melt
Kick: Snort an mp3. Lick speakers.
Frances: I shoot Lockets. Anyway. . .
Kick: Hmm. My drug of choice is. . .IRONY.
Pastiche-happy scuzz rockers from the
USA. Well known for nastiness on stage.
It is currently unclear why they have black
I ips, but we suspect the worst.
Kick: Have they changed between albums?
Stevie: Not much. It's a bit less lo-fi. There's
a lot of sick psych in there too.
Frances: Heavy Trash kick their little cute
asses, it has to be said. Men vs boys.
Kick: It must be so weird to have a song
written about you. Like, flattering, but
Frances: It's about the hurricane!
Kick: ...and what. Oh.
Louis: What do the lyrics say?
Now, Now (Beggars Banquet)
StVincent is Annie Clark, multi-
instrumentalist and member of Sufjan
Steven's 'troupe' with a growing buzz
in the states.Try not to confuse with St
Vincent and The Grenadines, since that's
not a band at all, but Caribbean islands.
Stevie: I liked Sufjan, and then he just
wouldn't stop putting records out, and it's
devalued him in my eyes.
Frances: Yeah, and I thought he came across
like a bad man in that Danielson movie.
Stevie: I like all the harmonics.
Frances: It was great until it went like this,
all 4/4. 1 like it when it's all jerky. Sounds like
a scratched vinyl copy of Laurie Anderson's
Stevie: Yeah, definitely.Afropop. Polyrhythms.
Frances: Only with a warbly singer.
Stevie: Yeah, she's the least interesting bit.
Louis:The vocals are beautiful, though.
Kick: I like the wrongness of it.
Frances: Tears For Fears.
Stevie: YES - 'Sowing The Seeds' - that's
what it sounds like.
Frances: Zzt- Lower State Of Consciousness (Turbo)
Louis: Fight Like Apes -Jake Summers (Cool For Cats)
kick: Gang Gang Dance -Nikoman (Young Turks)
Stevie: Comanechi- Death Of You (Merok)
music that time forgot: amiga/st music 89-95
Words: Kieron Gillen
Illustration: Jussi Brightmore
Richard Joseph is dead. It threw me. It's a name that I'd have required a
qualifier ("You know -the bloke who did...") to recognise, but since his death
from lung cancer in March, he's preyed upon my mind. Now, with getting on
for 20 years of hindsight, I'm considering him one of the prime movers in a
musical scene I wasn't even aware I was in at the time. It hasn't a name, so let's
call it The Movement For People Who Didn't Move.
This movement focuses around videogame
music; specifically, that made for the Amiga
and the PC. It lasted from '89, peaking between
'91 and '93, crushed beneath the forward
march of videogames tech by '95. Note the
period. There's a retro scene based around
earlier videogame music- the C64 SI D-chip
resonates through the minimalist aesthetic of
anything chipcore. Conversely, further into the
Nineties, videogames were able to use pure CD
sound. Games, like films, had soundtracks -one
side decided to hire orchestras, the other to
license anything popular in the clubs. It was
no longervideogame music. It wasjust music.
While previous chip-based music could
abstractly play traditional music, the fidelity
of the chips turned anything into parody.
Classical music fired through a Spectrum is
intrinsically hilarious. The difference with the
Amiga and ST's technology was that while
it was incapable of making an exact copy, it
was capable of implementing it in its own way,
and in a way which would actually work.
If the scene has a start, it's with Xenon 2:
Megablast. Its developers, the Bitmap Brothers,
worked with Bomb The Bass to bring their
Megablast ('Hip Hop On Precinct 13') into the
game. While the artist provided the music, it
was arranged for the game by a developer- in
this case, game music veteran David Whittaker
and later, Richard Joseph. This made it, by
necessity and design, a remix culture. How close
could you get before running out of memory?
This is the core of the scene.
And, immediately, the results were
inspiring. This was the first time in history
that videogames felt in any way even vaguely
approaching cool. Clearly, no one else in the
world barthe players would know, but when
you sat down and the brutal Speedball II:
Brutal Deluxe slid out of the speakers like
a dead-eyed shark, you felt as glacially perfect
as when listening to Public Enemy. You wanted
to hurt people. Pretend people, but people
nevertheless. Games with this music were
a whole new world -for evidence, head to
YouTubeand listen to the PC and Amiga
versions of Magic Pocket's 'Doin' The Do'
(originally, immortally, from Betty Boo). The
PC's is a laughable piece of kitsch. The Amiga's
-while one of the lesser remixes that graced
the Bitmap's games -at least captures a little
of the real kitsch charm of Miss Boo's second-
But the final step that made this into
a scene was that the gents responsible didn't
just translate the tracks into the game -they
did a// the sound. While the in-game music was
often less elaborate than the introductions, the
in-game tracks integrated with the music to
create a soundscape which you moved through
as you played. It was best shown in Joseph's
Chaos Engine -the Bitmap's game for which
he wrote as well as arranged the music -which
turned its steampunk glory into almost a club
environment, aesthetic effects bombarding
you as you move through it. Suddenly, that the
vast majority of Am iga/ST soundtracks reached
toward dance music makes perverse sense:
while stationary physically, barvitus-like
fingertwitches and the occasional Tourettic
cry of joy or frustration, the mind was moving.
Internally, the state of grace that hits a gamer
when riding the crest of game is close to dance
in terms of perfectly integrating your (virtual)
body with a work of art.
The scene was doomed. It was born of
imperfect reaching -both in music and in
videogame techniques, and its charm was its
glorious hubris, its failure to quite achieve what
it set out to. Due to that, its footmark in retro
culture is relatively small, like most transitional
periods. But it matters to we who remember.
Take Press Play On Tape, who primarily
cover C64-SID songs with real instruments.
When taking on Cannon Fodder's theme tune
(satirical skank 'War's Never Been So Much Fun'
which Richard Joseph arranged from Sensible
Software's Jon Hare original) they played it
on game controllers. Which is the secret, and
what we all did. To men like Richard Joseph's
work, we all sang along with our controllers,
a crowd dispersed across half a million
20 1 plan b
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from tke JortJwoming olWrrv 'Romance Aint IW -
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What's yr primary concern/goal when
"Mostly when I write lyrics it's about describing a
situation I've been in or a person I met. Besides what
the words are about, I like just messing with words
themselves and the American language - both as far
as the American language as a whole and in terms
of regional dialects."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
"Banging it out."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
What subject do you write about the most?
"Ummmmm. Well, thinking back over it, I think a lot of
the songs are either about parties or travelling. I think
that's because that's how I spend most of my time -
I'm either at a show or I'm travelling to get there. . . "
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
What's been the best reaction to a lyric
you've ever had?
"The other day I was talking to a DJ in Iowa City and
he said his five-year old son liked to run around yelling,
'I hate drum machineeeeeeeeeeeees\'"
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
"They always cheer at the end of 'Anything You Want'.
Our bass-player at the time told me not to use so many
words in such a small space because he didn't think it
sounded pro. Or something. I'm regularly validated."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
Do people ever spot things you hadn't?
"Definitely. They make connections and references
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
"Yeah, all the time. I'd never intended 'My Little
Japanese Cigarette Case' having anything to do with
drugs. But that's constantly people's reaction to it."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
What have been the weirdest/most
" People always think the T*ck Everyone' song is just
kind of an angry 'fuck everyone' but it was about a
long distance relationship and was supposed to also
mean fuck in the literal, physical sense of the word."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
"Nobody ever gets me except for Heather Phares."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
If you don't write the accompanying music
yourself, how do you get the person who
does on to the same wavelength?
" It's always music first, so I fit the lyrics to the music.
I can't imagine having the lyrics and telling someone
to make music for the lyrics. But heck, maybe that
means I should try it..."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
why i hate.. .bill hicks
Words: John Doran
When Channel 4 showed Revelations in 1992, it
really was the moment that Bill Hicks started his
painfully slow climb towards canonisation. The hour
long special had been carefully edited down to
appeal to the sensibilities of C4's core audience. It
toned down the laddish, sexist elements of his act
and talked up (the admittedly brilliant) attacks on
the Gulf War and the rise of the Christian right. Due
Each badly packaged CD
and crappily subbed book
makes wilder claims for
him than the last
to a trick of presentation he became a figure who
effortlessly straddled the nascent new lad scene
and the still strong culture of political correctness.
But what would make anyone outright hate Hicks?
Well, for me it wasn't the fact he was a pothead
and in thrall to imbecilic conspiracy theories. His
ravings about the Warren Commission make you
realise that if he were around today part of his
routine would be a swivel-eyed diatribe about 9/1 1
and who was really responsible for the towers
coming down. (At the end of Revelations check
how he gets 'shot' by an assassin because his truth
was, y'know, too heavy for the government...)
It wasn't the latent paedophilia he aspired to,
no doubt inspired by his heroes from the world
of Seventies rock. ("Why do you like young girls,
Goat Boy?" "Because there's nothing between
your legs. I'm going to turn you over and spread
your cheeks. It's like a pink, quivering rabbit
nostril.") Oh, my sides.
It's not that he was a disgusting hippy, the worst
kind: a free-marketeering American hippy. Meaning
the angry desire was there for him to protect his
right to do whatever he wanted to do whenever he
wanted, whether it be smoking cigarettes, taking
drugs, having access to hardcore pornography and
violent movies or anything else his venality craved.
All of this was to be at the expense of children, old
people and parents if necessary and. . .well, and
what? I must have missed his sketches about union
rights for immigrant workers.
It's not that he was a drivelling thunder cunt.
("All matter is energy condensed to a slow vibration,
we are all one consciousness experiencing itself
subjectively. There is no such thing as death,
life is only a dream and we are the
imagination of ourselves." And that crap
about life being a fairground ride.)
It's not the rampant misogyny. (Actually,
even though it kicks a hole in what I'm
saying, it is the rampant misogyny. The
sketch where he summoned the ghost of
Hendrix up to rape Debbie Gibson to death
for making pop- phony music for girls- is a
prime example. And this coming from a guy whose
favourite bands were KISS and Alice Cooper.)
It's not the untrammelled misanthropy. ("Hitler
had the right idea. He was just an underachieves "
Oh stop it Oscar, you're killing me.)
No, the trouble with Bill Hicks is he's become the
Diana Spencer of stand up comedy, and each badly
packaged CD and crappily subbed book makes
wilder claims for him than the last. The canonisation
has taken a good comedian who was slightly ahead
of the curve and tried to make something religous
out of him. The trouble with that, however, is
that if you look to a comedian for humour, you
get laughs; look to one for moral, spiritual and
political guidance and you get a fucking joke.
(He was right about people who work in
advertising and marketing though.)
22 | plan b
all wrapped up In a
special wood box, with
artwork by Jason Molina and
CD & LP in stores
Tbe accumulated work of
tour recording engineers,
two designers and
Magnolia Electric Co.
1 499 WEST 2ND STREET BLOOMINGTON, IN 47403 USA
®tw cadwz oca mm p@p
TINY VIPERS / KINSKI
PATTON OSWALT ©W
BAND OF HORSES
(HSTHIBUTeO gV SHFLlSHQCIt
Words: Eugene Robinson
Illustration: Vincent Vanoli
Incoming! Oxbow pwn the Midlands with
an unstable compound of artiste/fan hand-to-
hand combat, illegal packages and thunderous
paranoia in the skies above
Like the worst alcoholic, I swore that I was swearing
off, and this time I meant it, the writing of a tour
diary. Mostly on account of the whole feyness
factor. That and the fact that the World Wide Web's
made it possible for even the most casual observer
to find stuff that, like it or not, is now public.
So how the fuck do you redact an entire tour?
How do you write about what really happened
without eternally imperiling your ability to bullshit
people about your general level of sanity like
you must do to even get the basest and barely
functioning level job? I don't know and it seems
shameful to think, like a hooker friend of mine once
said to me, that
"All about the money", butgoddamnit,
if these tours paid enough, if WRITING
about these tours paid ANYTHING,
then we could all pen works of
deathless genius about what exactly
the fuck happened. But I get the good
word from the folks at Plan B: just write
about the Supersonic Festival. Stick to
the music. Stay away from the drugs,
illicit sex, murder for hire that usually
populates your planet of prose and just
talk about the music.
And so I will/am/do. (For not a single
13 July, Supersonic Festival,
Is it even possible to think about this
Festival and not hearthatsong byJJ Fad pumping
up the back of your spine: "S-S-S-super-sonk"\ ?
I guess it's just me.
Or maybe it's just me and the narcotics I have
taped to my scrotum as I climb aboard a plane that
I'm assured will plunge me to my death. You know,
in the course of any given week I will see maybe one
or two fans of the Islamic religion in my comings and
goings, riding hither and yon and doing whatever
I do on PLANET OXBOW, which seems to largely be
about buying gasoline (petrol to youse), groceries
and trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
However, on the plane I'm about to get on?
About 98 per cent of the people riding it seem to
be wearing headscarves and carrying Korans. Yes,
yes, yes, I know that I, especially ME, a BLACK
man, should be sensitive to judging books by their
goddamned covers and I know not all Muslims are
terrorists, however, I can't get around the other
shoe-dropping part of all the terrorists being
Muslims. Leastways it seems no Anabaptists
have tried to kill me lately.
So I'm sweating in my suit of protective
colouration, a grey Kenneth Cole number,
the glassine envelope holding the narcotics
is digging into my scrotum (potential
employers: this part is mere hyperbole. . .
a fanciful creation designed to enliven an
otherwise ordinary tale of ass rape and
cuckoldery) and I'm panicking about flaming
into the Atlantic for some ill-defined political
objective not my own .
And then I start sobbing. I hadn't intended
to sob, but the book I am reading, Cormac
McCarthy's The Road, a post-apocalyptic journey
of cannibalism, rape and grim-faced murder has
struck me as being a sensitive roman a clef and I find
its raw lyrical beauty somehow touching. I'm also
now extremely, extremely high, reasoning as I have
on the way over that if I get caught with the scrotal
narcotics the less I have the better off I'll be and
sooooo. . .After the sobbing, the plane landing and
a breeze through customs I walk into the waiting
area where my ride, a man named Ike who I fully
expect to not be there, is actually NOT there. I catch
a train into Birmingham, walk the few blocks to the
hotel, check in and proceed to take a crap.
At which point I sayto myself, "Boy, it certainly
is good to have those drugs out from under my
scrotum". At which point I say to myself, "I don't
remember taking them off, do you?" At which
point I take note of the fact that all of my illegal
imported narcotics are now in the toilet bowl amid
the shit and plane-banked piss, leaving me with
a dilemma of the highest order: reach into the
logjam of crap and rescue said narcotics, or flush
them into a new future of sobriety...
. . .So after I fish the baggie out of the toilet
and set it into the ashtray to dry I go about getting
ready for Supersonic. Niko Wenner and I are doing
a special deal. We call it Oxbow presents Love's
Holiday: our acoustic rendering of Oxbow songs
and soon to be the launching pad for songs that
are not Oxbow songs and that are not written or
recorded with full-blown electrification. We've
done enough of this acoustic duo thing to have
figured out that it's not shit and that it stands on its
own, but at this show, given the vast profusion of
amazing musicians, we've decided to go one better:
a celebrity space jam with Dave Cochrane, Justin
Broadrickand Stephen O'Malley as well as Chipper
from Crippled Black Phoenix on a song in the key of
A called 'You Pay First'. It's the last song and ample
reward for those that sat through our Simon And
Garfunkel-esque ravaging of the Oxbow song
catalogue, as well as liberal lifts from our grand
new record The Narcotic Story.
On my way into the venue Ike, he of the non-ride
from the airport, walks up to me and hands me two
10 pound notes: "Here," he says. "I want you to
help me with my relationship." The deeply ironic
nature of this exchange should not be lost on
anyone who has ever listened to any Oxbow music
at all, or even spoken to me for more than five
minutes as it doesn't take Freudian insight to figure
out that I'm the very LAST person you want to ask
this of. "When you get onstage tonight, tell my
girlfriend I love her."
24 1 plan b
'I loved it.. .now choke me!'
OK. Gimme the money.
"Well, I'll give you 1 now and 1 afterward. "
Give it all to me now or forget it.
Good. I'll talk to her.
"From the stage."
No, no, no... I'll talk to her up close and personal-like.
"Gimme my money back. "
The venue is slick and the vibe is cool and I have absolutely no idea who
anyone is. I recognize Niko, Oxbow guitar, and then I see David Yow, ex-Jesus
Lizard and as of late in the wonderful band Qui.
We chit chat, you know, about singer things, like hair and makeup, and we
do an interview for the BBC and some other TV thing. The woman interviewing
us, an Australian, I ask to sit on my lap while she interviews me on the grounds
that I am very tense and it might make me more comfortable. She declines.
I scream at the other bands in the room to "SHUTTHEFUCKUP" and it's done.
Suit, set list and we discover much to our chagrin that Qui play at the same
time as us and so we are now convinced we will have 1 1 people in attendance.
But when we hit the stage the club is packed. Remembering the BBC guy
saying to me, as he does a little breathlessly, "Everybody's talking about Oxbow
tonight," I don't believe him until the opening notes of the first song from
The Narcotic Story, 'The Geometry Of Business' and the crowd bursts into
a roar of recognition. Nice. We play. I confess to masturbating on my previous
Birmingham host's throw pillows and the Love's Holiday Orchestra strides out
and the people who've suffered through 35 minutes of Oxbow Presents Love's
Holiday go nuts when they recognise that Oxbow, Sunn O))) and Jesu are going
to do a song together, and we do. And it's every bit as fucking gripping as it
sounds and yeah, I was there and I'M fucking saying it, but sometimes a tornado
is just a tornado and this was indeed that. Fantastic and shimmering.
And when it's done I leave the stage and this big fella comes over and gives
me a great big bear hug and then he says, "I loved it... now choke me! "Well,
people are always saying stuff like this to me and so I do and as I'm saying, "Did
you want to take a picture or something...?" he rocks his head into my jaw
which, while it doesn't knock me out, knocks me back and we both fall over
and I smash the back of my head on the steel security fence and I'm knocked
out. I can see and hear but I can't move. . .The big guy whose fall was cushioned
by MY fall picks me up and takes me out to the bar where he buys me a drink as
the cobwebs clear. And as I'm finishing the drink I get peeved and when I finish
the drink I say to him, "Here... let me show you something ".And this ends with
his mouth bloody, him on his back and us being lifelong friends, as I now love
him like a brother despite his attempt to Harry Houdini me.
In any case I remember very little after that. And what I do remember is
disturbingly fragmented but I do know this: it had nothing to do with semen.
playlist: dirty space disco
Words: Clovis Goux and Guillaume Sorge
Illustration: Simon Peplow
Photonz Our Fable
(Mickey Moonlight mix)
Forget MSTRKRFT or Digitalism - the best
electro duo of 2007 is living in Portugal.
Elegant and druggy, this elegiac track
remixed by the great Midnight Mike is a
one-way trip to the dark side of the moon.
Bob Lind Cool Summer
As found on the Jarvis Cocker's fabulous
compilation The Top, this track from wild folk
singer Bob Lind is the perfect mix between
sadness and sexiness. He left us few and
obscure albums but all are essential for
lovers of the melancholic side of the Sixties.
In 1974 Ralf and Florian still had long hair.
One day they took their Volkswagen for
a trip on the German motorway. On arrival,
they had short hair and big, big ideas. It is
incredible to hear that this 22-minute long
celebration of the road was a huge hit at the
time. What to say else? Revolutionary.
Gruppo Di Improvvisazione
Nuova Consonanza The Feed Back
The Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova
Consonanza was the laboratory of Ennio
Morricone for some of his fantastic late
Sixties soundtracks : Veruschka, Mb Cam
Assassino, The Exorcist 2 and, of course,
the Dario Argento trilogy. 'The Feed Back'
is an incredible meeting between Varese
Cheval Fou La Fin De La Vie
Fifteen minutes of a French hippy odyssey in
a teepee near a river. The text is a translation
of the famous message of the chief Seattle to
the US government in 1 855. It will not be on
our next compilation but it is an avantgout
of his colour: a rainbow over the country of
Klaus Schulze Freeze
Schulze composed this sumptuous electronic
ballad for the movie Angst. Anxious but
weightless, a perfect beginning for a DJ
set on an iceberg. We also discovered an
incredible band produced by Klaus Schulze:
Clara Mondshine. Will 2007 be the year of
the rehabilitation of this electronic pioneer?
A rainbow over
the country of
RomainTurzi is a French musician who likes
Krautrock, psychedelic sounds and Italian
shoes. Along with his band Reich IV, the
first album, A sounds like a jam between
Morricone, Hawkwind and Kraftwerk.
'Afghanistan' is his declaration of war.
Chromatics In The City
Chromatics are one of the best electronic
bands in the USA. 'InThe City' is a night song
for the lonely hearts, like 'I'm Not In Love' by
1 0CC played by The Cure. Dark and lovely.
Liars Plaster Casts Of Everything
One of our favorite actual rock bands -
who, with Animal Collective and LCD
Soundsystem, are looking into the future.
Heavy, noisy, psychedelic and epic. . .
Dirty Sound System maintain a blog plus
extras at www.d-i-r-t-y.com, and go as far
out as the dancefloor allows atLe Paris Paris.
Their Dirty Space Disco compilation is out
plan b 1 25
What do you dance in yr bedroom to?
"Love Is All, especially 'Make Out, Fall Out, Make Up'."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
In a public place?
"GirlTalk.StereoTotale.The Blow. Blur's 'Girls And
Boys', Peter, Bjorn And John's 'Young Folks', The
Thermals' 'Pillar Of Salt', 50 Cent's 'Disco Inferno',
Tommy James AndThe Shondelles' 'Hanky Panky'."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
What's guaranteed to get you off the dance
floor and ordering doubles at the bar?
"Techno. And please keep in mind that English doubles
are American singles, so a prolonged, heavy-dose of
Techno would probably have me ordering quadruples.
Jack and coke, thanks for asking."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
Describe yr dancing style
" Depends on the music. Lots of times it's like 50 Cent
says: 'The same two-step with a little twist'. Sometimes
it's the Shreveport Stomp, with maybe a little of the
Shimmy Shimmy Shake."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
"OK, I admit it, I don't really dance."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
Favourite move to wow the crowds?
"Tossing back a fifth with one hand by my side."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
Do you dance on stage?
"Yes! I've heard I do the Elvis, below the waist, thing
when playing guitar. On drums it's more of the Keith
Moon twirl. Since I usually have an instrument on
when I'm playing, there's a little less jumping but
a little more clapping."
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
"I kind of waltz sometimes."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
When was the last time you were the only
person on the floor, and what was it to?
" I think a Nancy Sinatra Sixties Spanish remix was
(Elizabeth Sharp, III Ease)
"The Solaris soundtrack by Cliff Martinez. I think it's
magical but no one seems to get it. The band has pretty
much forbidden me from playing this before the show
anymore. I also really like Annie."
(Britt Daniel, Spoon)
Words: Natalie Boxall
Offending an interviewee accidentally is not the
best feeling in the world. Treating a band as a
joke when they're for real (hello, Andrew WK!)
is pretty embarrassing. So, in the interest of US/UK
relations, I asked San Francisco dance nuts Eats
Tapes, " How seriously do you take yourselves as
musicians?" They replied with, "What do you
mean by this?"
'We like to experience
our music clean and
A band who doesn't understand this question
either takes everything way too seriously or live in
world where everything is fun. Thankfully, Eats
Tapes are the latter.
They're currently schlepping around Europe
to promote their second Tigerbeat6 album Dos
Mutantes; a mishmash of influences and sounds
that's billed as, "A multimedia onslaught of spazzy
techno bangers that straddle club, psychedelic
noise, and art rock scenes" .
Greg says that they, "Try to make sure to wear
clothes when we play", although sometimes
they're, "Too tight, and then you get a stomach
ache and can't remember your parts" .
Marijke usually doesn't wearshoes when she
plays because, "Her feet get hot from feeling the
The band began when Marijke and Greg moved
from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco. Living in a
store front and throwing free shows, they changed
the name to Eats Tapes because, "We thought the
name Boom de la Boom was a bit narrow. Eats Tapes
had more of an undefined sound to it. One minute
Eats Tapes could be playing a rave, the next minute
leading a drum machine circle in a parking lot."
After three self-released CD-Rs and a move back
to San Francisco, they released the Sticky Buttons
album on Tigerbeat6, toured the US and Canada
twice (first with Tussle, Kid606and Knifehandchop)
There's no chance of a post-tour wind-down
though, as Greg says, "When we go back to the US,
we're recording a 1 2-inch for Community Library,
a cassette for Stenze Quo, and writing a zine".
" In the US, dance music is not that accessible,
so we try to challenge that by playing it in a variety
of circumstances," says Marijke. "The scene in San
Francisco is very diverse and always changing, but
we feel most well-received anytime and anywhere
people are excited to have a good time and let their
guard down. We love to play in a variety of different
situations, from art squats in Europe, to techno
clubs, to galleries, to crusty free parties in the park."
They're not in it for the stereotypically hedonistic
trappings that attracts many people to the dance
scene. "We like to experience our music clean and
straight," says Greg, "but it's all about creating
music that makes us excited and sharing it with
weirdoes all over the world. If you have the urge
to do that, then do it."
"Forme," says Marijke, "music is another way
to creatively connect with people, and we do it for
the exact same reason that everyone else does it,
because it makes our parents so proud of us. Even
if nobody was listening, Greg would still be doing it
in his room."
Greg reckons that they both keep things fresh by
"Experimenting with our instruments -and we like
to have fun. We hope our music makes people think
about world peace while dry-humping the nearest
piece of furniture. That's what it does for us. "
26 | plan b
L N G S T N
then ew album fro m
features remixes of tracks by Will Sergeant,
Stylus, Ayako Mori and collaborations with
Guillemots Chris Cundy and MC Lord Magrao
LONGSTONED is distributed in the UK by Proper
Longstone CDs can be ordered on line for worldwide
delivery from www.badlands.co.uk
Also available: 'Empty Bottle Dusty Road' by Brickwerk,
the long-awaited album featuring members of
Longstone, 90 Degrees South and Silverman
E L B C D 1 5
Out 10 September CD, vinyl & download
Includes the singles Tron Song and We Float In Time
'Deliriously inventive and macabre late nifjht, (o-fi Soul rfnuSJc
played with infectious glee...
A co» beiween Pnnet and Captain Beelhcart'
'Irremuhly difficult to place— this band are genuine innovators'
Blues & Soul
'Damn impressive... alluring yet twisted in the best possible ways'
One Wee'it To Live
NEW ALBUM OUT NOW
ON CD / CDX / LP / DOWN LOAD
Features the singles 'Bricks' and 'Bullets'
"Turing's wilderness belongs to an indoor world of attics,
cobwebbed voices and dusty mechanisms." PLAN B
"If quiet is the new loud, Tunng are Led Zeppelin, reinventing
folk and blues for a new long-hair revolution." **** MOJO
"Tunng have finally hit their stride. ..the kind of melodies that
get under your skin." **** THE GUARDIAN "Album Of The Week"
"...one of the most complex but engaging bands around
right now." WORD
Check out the new Tunng album on www.last.fm/music/Tunng/Good+Arrows
Headline UK tour in October.
See www.tunng.co.uk for full details
Check out the Full Time Hobby store
THE DEBUT ALBUM
Words: Spencer Grady
"I've not even scratched the surface of music, but
I get glimpses of what lies beneath and it is scary,"
explains the enigmatic violist and composer Eyvind
Kang. "Sometimes you don't want to explore any
further, but you feel compelled to and it is then you
understand just how much work there is to do."
He briefly pauses, before adding: "Music allows
you a look into an echo of something ancient and
rewards with something magical".
This sense of mission may explain why Eyvind
Kang keeps himself so busy. His distinctive viola sound
("the conventional tone of the violin doesn't appeal
to me") has distinguished recordings by John Zorn,
Sun City Girls, Joe McPhee and Mr Bungle and he has
contributed string arrangements for artists including
Laurie Anderson, Blonde Redhead and Laura Veirs.
He has also released some of the most captivatingly
beautiful outsider music of the last few years.
While Virginal Co-ordinates, his 2003 collaboration
with Mike Patton and the Italian chamber music
ensemble Playground, boasted some grandstanding
moments, such as the Bombay pop mantra of
'Marriage Of Days', it is the four transcendental
meditations on Live Low To The Earth, In The Iron Age,
released one year earlier, that really demonstrate the
full breadth of Kang's immeasurable talents. If you
don't already own it, go out and grab yourself a copy.
His latest opus is the occult oratorio Athlantis,
a breathtaking piece that recalls elements of Arvo
Part's holy minimalism, Gavin Bryars' The Sinking
Of The Titanic and Iannis Xenakis's choral works, while
still unmistakably his own. It centres on a chanting
eldritch choir, lead by the contorted vocalisations of
Jessika Kenney and, again, Mike Patton (a regular
conspirator), who enable Kang to interact and
connect with one of his favourite Renaissance
writers, Giordano Bruno, and his Cantus Circaeus.
" Bruno composed a set of invocations based
on Greek mythology, sung by Circe," says Kang.
"But these were just an introduction to a larger
work, a memory system. That's something I am very
interested in, the ideas you receive when you think
of a sound, triggering a memory, for example, which
make you feel a certain way."
Athlantis is representative of Kang's ongoing
development as a composer. He seems content now to
concentrate on a specific theme, eschewing the blur of
meticulous genre cross-fertilisation that was a feature
of earlier albums such as Theater Of Mineral NADEs
and The Story Of Iceland.
"When I was younger I just wanted to imitate all
the different things I heard. Now I am more interested
in sound." It seems as if Kang is readying himself to
embark upon a new phase, preparing himself for
another peek beneath music's impenetrable crust.
"It's been a long journey, but I feel like I'm only
why i love... coldplay's parachutes
Words: Sean Michaels
Illustration: Marcus Oakley
One of my favourite albums of the past 1 years
is by a band called Coldplay. It's a 40-minute
starburst, 1 0-and-a-half iridescent pop songs.
It's not maudlin, or limp: it's catchy, hot-spirited,
economical. There are guitar lines in gilt and
gold, blending and swerving - and the choruses,
they shine. Chris Martin sings in a way that's
always present, never distracted. Each phrase
Fleetwood Mac taught
sounds like the last line of a letter. Right before the
Of course the consensus among listeners of
indie, punk and avant-garde music is that Coldplay
are shite. I can't think of a more maligned band-
except perhaps for U2 — in all of rock'n'roll. To
some degree it's rightly so: since 2000's marvellous
Parachutes, Coldplay's output has been flimsy,
diffuse and weak-hearted. Other than a few singles,
X& /and Rush Of Blood To The Head were lily-
livered albums- pretty melodies running on the
fumes of a feeling. They throw in some strings,
some chiming guitars, and expect suddenly for there
to be a magic present. As if the secret of a pop song
is in which session musicians you've hired; as if the
secret of a great poem is in which other poems it
reminds you of.
I concede that, for many, the complaint isn't
Coldplay's woeful inconsistency: it's that the entirety
of Coldplay's music sucks. Fair enough -/don't like
Sonic Youth very much. But where the argument
goes off the rails is when all that other shit gets
thrown into the discussion: Gwyneth Paltrow, Apple
Blythe Alison Martin, Chris Martin's 'activism', or
that dying mango forest in India. Since when do
I let a musician's choice of partner dictate how I feel
about their music? The past five years have seen
a welcome change in the way many people view
chart pop, mainstream hip hop and r'n'b. It's OK
(and it always was!) to love 'Toxic', even if Britney
Spears is crazy, foolish and major-label-signed. Jay-
Z's awesome; Avril Lavignetoo. Girls Aloud can be
filed between Beth Gibbons and Godspeed You!
Black Emperor, 50 Cent between Fiery Furnaces
and Final Fantasy.
But Coldplay (who sit on my shelves between
COCO and Lloyd Cole) -them, it is not OK to like?
And it's embarrassing to enjoy anything that even
sounds I ike them? Just as pop spent the Nineties
in a ghetto - 'insincere', 'boring', 'pablum', 'lyrically
inane' - it's Coldplay's ilk who are today anathema.
(Want to insult Arcade Fire or Iron And Wine?
I know who to compare them to.) It's as if there's
something inherently inferior to the whole genre.
"Damien Rice's O couldn't possibly be good."
Have Justin Timberlake and Fleetwood Mac taught
Ultimately Coldplay are a band of successful,
white, male musicians, playing mid-tempo rock
on electric guitars and applauded by the same
critics who raised up Radiohead as the be all and
end all in music. It's not surprising that there's been
a reactionary move. But it's a pity for those who
would otherwise take pleasure in an album like
Parachutes: to be embarrassed, to be reluctant,
to be back in the realm of guilty pleasures. Not
everyone will love a song like 'Don't Panic' -but for
me it's beautiful, skittering, and full of ache. There's
a small splendour in Parachutes' sustained, fizzing
brightness. The hearth you can slip in your pocket or
send through the air- at once ember, flame and fire.
28 1 plan b
iONGS WITHOUT A PURPOSE
THE WESTERN LANDS
The new album released on 10th September
Available on CD, LP and download
Features the singles 'Trust' and 'Hollow Men'
"Impressive" 4/5 Mojo
"A rural 'Unknown Pleasures' for the
waterlogged English countryside" Plan B
Full UK tour in October - see website for details:
"ocmj ufihe man bojiuiiful records evor mjtdr.
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"Biwirrc? Definildy. Beautiful? /Uwotulcly,"
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"minil-hlmi ing" l}j.\hi.>w
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when we meet
Words: Ringo P Stacey and kicking k
Plan B demands you fill yr hard drive
with music- this music
It stands for the Enrichment Center Percussion
Ensemble, a group of developmentally disabled
students who play cute, sentimental micro-epic
instrumentals bristling with percussion, marimba,
keys, glockenspiel, vibraphone and more
percussion. Pop meets minimalism for non-ironic,
unhipsterish beauty, www.myspace.com/ecpe
Having just blessed the ludicrously sophisticated
Italians Do It Better (Italo-Disco, in case you're
wondering), the neons of synths scattered through
a long Fell ini night can be anticipated -but the
"Hungry for love," reads their MySpace
motto, and their logo is constructed from
open-mouthed ghosts. Little surprise, then,
that the music is made of exhumed samples
from dance classics crudely stitched together
with a beats as clicksome and snappy as a
steam-powered sewing machine. A real
bring-yr-own-formaldehyde morgue party.
When the old farts moan about gangster
music it just sounds bitter; when religious
groups fund billboards calling for an end to
violent lyrics in rap it comes over downright
hypocritical. When Staten Island MC NYOIL
pulls up 50 Cent, Jibbs and the like for
various stupidities, calling for their lynching
on Y'AII Should All Get Lynched it sounds
like the voice of sane and righteous reason.
And someone should send Emily Parr a
zshare link for What Up My Wigga Wigger?
controlled, perfectly weighted vocals push it into
immediate intimacy. Farah recites monologues in a
flattened sing-song that speaks of emotions held in
check and truth won at a cost. Music for end credits.
Some net folks have dissed Ilia J for choosing
a rap moniker so close to that of his late brother
J Dilla. Taken with Dilla's inevitable posthumous
appearance on Ilia's debut self-titled EP, it could look
like he's milking the connection for a quick few quid.
They got words. They
don't need karate.
Photography: Emma Hedditch
But dude is nice so it don't matter, with perhaps
a wee bit more edge, a fraction less soul in the
old school sense but potentially his brother's equal
where it counts: passion, imagination and talent.
Of the couple of dozen photos of 5' 1 " Houston
MC Surreal on her MySpace page, not a single one
appears to show her smiling. And yeah, it could
be regulation gangster poise, all part of the Guffa
Mami Boss act, but these ears hear lava. And maybe
there's a hint of a smirk on some tracks and the
inevitable token dom-sex raps are played for fun,
but when she talks business the glare is audible and
the tone is more serious than JME filing his tax
return. Respect or regret.
Some guy told me once we'd like any type of music,
even minimal house, if it had teenagers rapping
about sex and violence on top. A few years later,
finally, Team Knoc are his proof. The best 80 per
cent of their Presents The Makeover mix C D is what
we'd generously imagine minimal house to sound
like - weightless-by-hyper throb music and jacked
classical string quartet stabs. But it'd be naught
without the carefree +8 punk cadences and
gloriously disjointed semi-coherent choruses on
booty, getting money, getting high, and repulsive
kids' TV show Blues Clues. As they boast on the
gloriously titled 'Fruity Pebble Punk Rock', "We go
dumb but we're punk rock too".
If a sound lasts one generation it's a sound. If it
persists to the next it's a movement. Trunk Boiz are
the next generation of hyphy, proof it ain't going
away for at least another decade and part of a
freaky teenage horde from Oakland called Gorillaz
N Da Trunk. The bio attempts gamely to make sense
of their game but really it's a joyous clash of seven-
plus MCs. Gorillaz N Da Trunk's next priority act is
said to be the Trunk Girlz. You have been warned.
"We are specialists in the following styles: 'Cape
Cod Kwassa Kwassa', 'Upper West Side Soweto',
'Campus' and 'Oxford Comma Riddim'." Which
is, to say, more New York, NewYorkneo-ethnoor
whatever we're calling it, flurries of high notes and
rhythm tracks that run up and down sand dunes.
Y Diwygiad claim to rap in five languages, heralding
"The Muli-Lingual Hip Hop Reformation" or
summat. More remarkable still are their beats,
cleaner than the white cliffs of Dover. And their
heavyweight mental prowess, doing ittelepathically,
justifying it with a natty quip: "Why do it physically
when we can do it mentally? " Also check out
founder member MC Phormula's driven album
length collabo with Swansea's legendary (in our
houses) Lew's Tewns. They got words. They don't
need karate, www.myspace.com/ydiwygiad
Sounding not unlike a biscuittin full of mice rolling
down a spiral staircase, these stuttering scream-agers
have an enviable way with DIY rhetoric (claiming to be
simultaneously 'tuff-enuff' and 'pure-heart-stop-start') and
zero tolerance for gratuitous prettification. Also known
fondly as The Corey O's and The Corey Circle, but multiple
personality disorder is quite normal when there are three
people in the band, www.myspace.com/coreyorbison
I hi t»l II(1L III *
THE TWILIGHT SAD -
FOURTEEN AUTUMNS 5
(debut album out now on cd & lp)
"Jl .6/10" PiTCHFQR K.
SONGS OF GREEN PHEASANT -
(new" album out now on cd)
•...riding on a thermal of reverb
AND SLORiOUS MELODY— l AOCjeSoyMD
IS/ftAGE- WEiRDO RiPPERS
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NEW ALBUM OUT 05/11/0T
It's always nice to be granted the opportunity to
give props to music-makers from some of the less
celebrated nooks of the planet. Y'know, push
aside the same old faces from the same old places.
Safetyword originated on the Isle Of Man, which
is - granted - part of the British Isles, but when was
the last time it spawned a band featured in Plan 6?
Anyway, the band moved to Bristol some time
after releasing their first EP in 2003, where they
have flourished amid a scene of creative and
art-proud musicians. "You could be cynical and
think that the Bristol scene - as we know it - is false
or affected because it lurks so left of middle, but it
just isn't. It's honest music and that's why it works, "
asserts Rob Smith, vocalist, guitarist and lyricist
in the quartet. In truth, Safetyword could have
moved between any two points on the globe
and this would still sound like gleefully displaced,
Safteyword's sound jigs, hot coals-style, at
the point (of a guitar) where the poppy end of
prog and the proggy end of pop meet. Captain
Beef heart seems to get mentioned fairly regularly
but, as is usually the case, that's less because they
sound like him and more because it's the default
reference point for dem goldarned semi-improv
oddballs, who don't even have the common
decency to let us understand what their songs
There are certainly names worth tossing around,
though: Deerhoof, The Red Krayola, Thinking Fellers
Union Local 282, Robert Wyatt and his broad legacy,
The Cardiacs, Ivor Cutler. Things endemic to the
American underground rubbing up against things
dubbed 'inherently British', whateverthat means.
Put your flags away - forever.
The debut Safetyword full-length, Man'sName
Is Legion (like all their CDs to date, self-released -
although Static Caravan are due to issue a seven-
inch) is deliciously packaged in card and wax paper
that rubs off on the disc, a fluid, unpindownable joy
to listen to and the product of a band challenging
themselves at every turn.
"Struggling to play the new one? Good! " is how
Rob recalls it. "We got into the habit of chiseling
away until only what was necessary to carry the
'I just arrange facts
and figures so that
song would remain. Often we go too far and have
to reattach lumps. Above all it's about melody, to
which all is sacrificed."
The album is bolstered by a number of hired
helpers - intermittent sax blare from Mike Seed and
engineer Tom Bugs (look up his handbuilt FX pedals
and experimental releases as Knowledge Of Bugs).
"The help we have received from Tom and
countless others has kept us afloat; it's very nice
to receive this help off the back of the music rather
than any sort of favours or payment. "
Dimensions extend themselves on perusal of
Smith's lyrics. They're somewhat comparable to
Joanna Newsom in the archaic choice of words
and frequent recourse to assonance and extended
rhymes, but pointedly non-personal.
"I'm only really there in the playfulness of the
arrangements and the odd bit of confessional
prosaic nonsense. Most of the themes are from
books: odd characters, stories, devices, occurrences.
I've got a list of topics that I'd want to write songs
about: it's as clinical as that. I just arrange facts
and figures so that they rhyme. Anyway, someone
has to write about this stuff, it's too rich a seam to
In all seriousness, we are long overdue a song
toasting, "1957BBCwith Richard Dimbleby and the
spaghetti trees in the black and white photograph
of the Swiss family". (Look that up while you're
This may well, of course, be your first encounter
with Safetyword, but for a band who to date
have operated with an avowedly DIY copybook,
what they have managed to achieve is heartening.
Turning themselves from freshly transplanted
Manx indie timeshifters into towering Bristolian
cataloguers of the curious has been a slow process,
but a rewarding one.
"2006 turned out to be an ace year for us.
We got a few gigs with touring bands, notably Hot
Club De Paris who took us on tour, and who we
are immensely indebted to. Playing Venn festival
was a big step; to be involved in such a celebratory
leftf ield festival indicated that we'd been accepted
on our own terms. " A rare example of music world
meritocracy, perhaps. Safetyword seriously deserve
any number of leg-ups.
32 | plan b
guided tour: aesop rock
Word: Frances Morgan
Plan B gets non-linear with
Def Juxjabbersmith re: his
latest talking book
You could tell Aesop Rock's new album was going
to be a trip when the single and title track 'None
Shall Pass' came out. Over a quick beat and circling
keys, pitchshifted voices chimed in like alien acolytes
around Aesop's stern lyrics of judgement and
retribution, primates and mice. Aside from the
archaic title, the track had echoes of a synthetic
past, a tribal future: a new/old order hard to
quantify, backed with a post-apocalyptic bounce.
None Shall Pass suffers - benefits - from the
same temporal and spatial dislocation, weaving
dusty, elastic space-jazz with shivery funk with
abrasive future-sonics. Lyrically, mermaids, sailing
ships, Pez dispensers and penguins swim alongside
chemicals, frozen cities, damage and misanthropy
before launching into the solar system. There's
a darkness at the heart of the album, but an
exhilarating one, as modern times speed past
like a ticker-tape of image and sound, narrated
by the cynical burr of Aesop Rock and augmented
by Blockhead's smoothly schizoid production,
plus guests El-P and John Darnielle.
"I think the album is a reflection of me getting
older and not being ashamed of it," says Aesop, aka
Ian Bavitz. " I had a few events that seemed real ly
adult-y: marriage, turning 30, moving out of NYC . . .
It felt like I was leaving my comfort zone, which may
have turned out to not be so comfortable at all. I just
shook up my life, and as it settled I made this record.
"I'd say the main themes are that of judgement,
being judged, how your peers see you versus how
you see yourself. The main thing was to not talk
about myself the entire time, " he states firmly. And
yeah - None Shall Pass is frantically observant: an
obsessive commentary, a radio dial, a fast-moving
film. Pay attention.
None Shall Pass
"Blockhead sent me this beat and I knew I needed
to do something with it. Writing to a beat this fast
is really strange for me, as I usually prefer slower
shit, but it's fun. This one sets the tone for the
themes mentioned, about judgement, and being
kind to those around you."
Bring Back Pluto
"This is about underdogs. Obviously the title is
taken from earlier this year, when the scientific
community demoted Pluto from 'planet' to 'dwarf
planet', which seemed like a metaphor waiting to
happen. The upright bass was originally a loop, but
in the end we had Derek Layes re-do it. The whole
song has this kinda goofy/eerie vibe, friendly, yet
warped. It sounds like a fat guy walking in mud."
"One of the really linear stories on the record -
there's a definite beginning, middle, and end. It's
about a relationship ruined by drug abuse. It's not an
actual story about specific people, but it could easily
be. I've never really fucked with stuff that hard, but
it seems like coke is the new pot, and the rest is not
'Jesus, I'm writing
far behind. I have a thing for relationship stories
that aren't corny. It's hard to do, and I'm not sure
if I did it, but I tried. It's supposed to represent a
mid-twenties period in one's life: old enough to
be out on your own, young enough to be stupid. "
The Harbor Is Yours
"This was kind of a follow up to [2006 single]
'Fishtales'. It's very linear, but this one is more of
a children's story. It's about a pirate who falls in
love with a mermaid at sea, and searches for her
for his whole life. I wanted to do a folktale-like story,
almost with a campf ire-style delivery, something
children would gather around to hear. It was really
fun to write, and I definitely stepped back a few
times in the middle to think, 'Jesus, I'm writing
about pirates! ' Another one where the original
main loop was later replayed by Carson Binks on
bass, and Allyson Baker on guitar."
"This is basically my 'Everyone-shut-up-and-at-
problems-in-the-world-than-your-ego' song. I think
I had more friends and family in hospital this year
than I have in a long time, and it made me think
of how fragile everything can be. It's insane to me
how many petty arguments people have, in and
out of music -friends, families, people who don't
even know each other, shit talking between total
strangers, smiling in faces and popping shit behind
backs. There is just bigger stuff at hand, like the
health of those around you. Any olive branch
extended should be accepted."
A Gun For The Whole Family
"I wanted to do something about how entertaining
violence is, whether news, or movies. I wanted it
to seem like me and El-P were sitting in lawn chairs
out on the street eating popcorn and watching
the whole neighbourhood kill itself; just paint this
image of us treating violence like entertainment,
with a humorous edge to it. El is good at apocalyptic
themes, and I tried to keep upas best I can. "
"This is saying, 'Just cuz I think there should be
world peace and civility, doesn't mean I actually
want to hang out with you people'! My introversion
is important to me and I go out of my way to be
left alone. This is kind of my ode to solitude.
"John Darnielle and I have spoken about
collaborating for years. He is one of my favourite
lyricists, I'd even go so far as to say he's one of the
better songwriters alive today. I had done most of
the song, then I called John and said, 'I don't know
if it's gonna work, but if you feel it, sing anything,
and send it to me'. I was so overjoyed with what
he did - he slaughtered it, and it made for a really
weird song overall."
34 1 plan b
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plan b 1 35
personal geography: qui
Words: Adam Anonymous
Photography: Penny McDonnell
Led Zeppelin, Edvard Grieg and The
What's your favourite record...
...to dance to?
"I don't dance, nevertoan entire song. Most
the dancing I do is when I've got a sandwich in
my hand. Sandwiches make me dance."
...to drink to?
"That's easy: whatever's on. The last time I was
out drinking I was at a show we were playing
and the last band were the Melvins, so I guess
anything by the Melvins."
...to drive to?
"My stereo's broken in my car. It's just a cassette
deck, hasn't worked for years, and the radio
doesn't work. Years ago I had a really cool little
truck with a CD player and I had the soundtrack
to Mu I ho I land Drive in there for months. But
my wife said the gas cost too much and she
made me get rid of it."
...to have sex to?
"Anything by The Woggles. Ithinkthey're
English. They make children's music."
...that nobody else likes?
"That would have to be either Sgt Pepper's...
by The Beatles or A/everm/nd by Nirvana. I'm
so against the grain I'm really down with things
other people don't like.
...that you'd have close your funeral?
"[Long pause punctuated by quiet humming]
Lust For Life by Iggy Pop. I look forward to
dying but I don't wanna do it anytime soon.
I'd just as soon stick around for a while, but
I'm sure it's gonna be not too terribly long
...to play last thing at night?
"I've got iTunes and I have a classical music
playlist that I'll put on, on random, really,
really quiet. I like the occasional classical:
Grieg, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Erik Satie,
there's a handful. I think it does have an
influence on my music. You probably can't pick
it out. I've been working on a solo record for
the last seven years and I think that once that
eventually sees the light of day you'll be able
to pick out some stuff that you can't with
Scratch Acid, The Jesus Lizard or Qui. It's very,
very little rock; it's much more intolerably weird
orsemi-soundtracky, orchestral shit, there's
almost no vocals. It pretty much is finished.
Mike Patton at Ipecac told me to make a solo
record and he'd put it out. That was about
seven years ago. Now I just need to give him
a copy and say, 'Well, here it is, if you really
wanna putthisout...' It's called Tonight You
Look Like A Spider. "
'You've gotta keep ir
mind I kinda live in a
...to play first thing in the morning?
"You've gotta keep in mind I kinda live in a
musical vacuum, I don't listen to music very
much at all. It would have to be 'Morning
Mood' by Edvard Grieg, y'know: [singing] 'Da-
da-da-da-da-da da-da-da-da-da-da da-da-da
da-da-da da-da...' Rainbowsand birds chirping
and little unicorns prancing around."
...to shake off a hangover?
"I don't even know what a hangover is."
...to get psyched up for a show to?
"There was a while when The Jesus Lizard all
lived together and if we were playing a show or
fixing to go on a tour we would always listen to
Presence by Led Zeppelin right before we left.
It sort of became a tradition. Also, I think that
song 'Achilles Last Stand' isabouttouring."
...to explain to somebody who doesn't
known you what kind of person you are?
"I dunno, something by Engelbert
Humperdinckor Ken Nordine. Oh! Tonight
You Look Like A Spider."
...that you've appeared on?
"You know what? I likethis record [Love's
Miracle by Qui] a lot, which is kind of weird for
me to say, but I think it's a really, really good
record. With Qui I feel like it's OK for me to talk
about how great we are because I'm the new
guy. With Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard,
since I was involved from the inception I would
feel uncomfortable saying, 'Yeah, man, we kick
ass'. But with these guys I feel like it's OK for me
to say that. It's just a lot easier: writing songs
happens more organically, free-flowing and
democratically than previous efforts."
...of all time?
"My favourite record of all time? Like what
record do you take to a desert island? Probably
Physical Graffiti. I think if also you held a gun to
my head and said, 'What's your favourite band
ever?' it would have to be Led Zeppelin. It's
funny because when The Jesus Lizard was
recording with Andy Gill for Blue at the same
time [Steve] Albini was recording Page and
Plant in London. Steve and I were on the phone
and I said, 'Be sure to say hi to Bobby and Jimmy
for me'. He said he had already told them about
me and played Goaf by The Jesus Lizard for
Robert Plant. Robert Plant's only criticism
was that it was 'trendy'. I was a little offended
just because he's asked this guy to produce his
record and Steve told Robert Plant that I'm his
favourite lyricist. So he plays Goaf for him and
he says it's 'trendy'! Ooo-kay..."
36 | plan b
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music that time forgot special: tronics/les zarjaz
Words: Everett True
Tronics played stripped-down, Eddie Cochran rock at the start of the Eighties. Les Zarjaz played 1 5th Century
madrigals, in a rock setting. Plan 6 tracks down Ziro Baby, the man behind both
Man, Tronics were great: cardboard box drums, bare
guitar lines and a rockabilly swagger, 1 6-year-old
singer Ziro Baby inescapably cool in his mirror
shades and lean, leather trousers: wiry and wired.
"Strictly shark fucks under no manners, " an ice-cool
lady announced at the start of his cult 1981 Alien
seven-inch 'Shark Fucks', before Ziro launched into
a typically dry three-chord pop song. Four singles
and a f lexi were released between 1 980 and 1 983,
including the immortal shout-out 'Favourite Girls' -
kinda like Television Personalities do Gene Vincent,
but without any mess whatsoever. These followed
a brace of cassettes, and preceded the excellent
mantra-like 12-inch 'Tranzister Sister'. There was
also an album, the minimalist Love Backed By Force,
which I found in a second-hand record bin for f 2,
round about the best two quid I ever spent, frankly.
All Ziro's rock'n'roll songs were great, and he
was accorded a degree of fame: he then went
through a severe reinvention and resurfaced on
Alan McGee's Creation Records as Les Zarjaz with
two, frankly incomprehensible, baroque rock singles
- which vied with my own for the honour of worst-
selling record on Creation ever.
And then... nothing. Ziro Baby vanished off
the face of the earth. Last I heard he was strip-
mining in Croatia, or something. So it was with
some excitement I received these replies. . .
Please explain how the Tronics came about.
"I kept seeing this sign in my mind. It was like
joined writing on an old fridge in chrome letters
And where did Les Zarjaz spring from?
"One night I woke up with a group of
baroquabillies standing around my bed. They said
to me that I was the 1 3th Emperor of Rome. They
showed me that my brother Nero was the first truly
great Rock and Roll star and why, and that no one
has ever surpassed, or even equalled him, and why. "
What's your fondest memory of the times
(very early Eighties)?
"I don't really know much. I kind of came in off
the street and this is where lam. Ifoundadevotchka
to bang some drums and put out [1 980 cassette]
What's The Hubbub Bub. People told me I should
be famous but I don't get on well with famous, so
Tronics was awkward the bigger it got.
"I don't have many fond memories. I got shot
twice, once in the lower part of my back in some
dumb bizarre circumstance, and another time
inadvertently in the leg. I was stabbed a few times,
once by some wacky dame with a broken glass
trying to mark me so no one else would like me.
Being 'interviewed' by the police waiting for me
outside my apartment was normal.
"The best things for me have always been the
feelings I get from people who like my music. At
the time of recording 'Tranzister Sister' we had
screaming girls outside the apartment. For an indie
band who never hired publicity agents and who
did not have the support of a major label I thought
that was pretty cool. Devotchkas screaming 'Shark
Fucks' at me on stage was a psychological dilemma.
I thought it was amazing and unique, but at the
same time it terrified me.
" My place was full of people when I went to
sleep, and when I woke up my place was full of
a whole different set of people, many I didn't know.
A fanzine printed my address and phone number
and things got worse. It got rough in the end and
I had to move. That's one reason why I have never
mingled much ever since. I don't mix well.
" It also came from an earlier incident where
a girlfriend, I think she was a girlfriend, it only lasted
a few days, maybe even hours, broke down and was
taken to an asylum. I went to visit her the next day
as I was concerned. I found her in the security wing
and she had told other girls in there that I was Jesus.
I saw them coming running down a corridor. It was
like a dam breaking in slow motion or a group of
wild horses running through a pass in a canyon.
They were screaming crazy and heading for me.
Lucky for me some nurses forced me out through
some strengthened glass doors and locked it. The
next thing they all hit the door that was now a glass
wall, about two-feet from my face. I stood in the
autumn wind and rain, leaves blowing around
me under a dim outside door light watching them
hitting the door, screaming 'Jesus touch me',
playing with their groodies and being dragged off
one by one by nurses. It all had an effect on me and
I walked away.
"lam not Jesus. We whacked him back in the
day for being a sensationalist reactionary. "
What were your favourite records?
"Anything with a hole and grooves. I would
listen to everything. Even Whistling Reg Harris and
his Barking Dog. I could never make a list, but most
basically it might go something like Bo Diddley,
Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, anything by Phil
Spector, The Residents, Bolan, Ramones, Velvet
Underground. I listened to and knew so many bands
from that time. All of them were great. One that I
particularly liked was Eric Hysteric And The Esoterics
"I remember liking Red Ballune. I thought Lydia
Lunch was the most amazing guitarist. I got to know
her. I told her that I was amazed by her guitar and
that I was a massive fan. She said that she didn't like
fans but preferred to be friends. I don't think she
understood that I only wanted to be a fan and didn't
want to be a friend. I'm a Rock and Roll fan.
"Another thing is that these groups and people
are all from what most people would recognise as
Rock and Roll. I have another life where the music
I listened to then, same as today, is not from this
time. I was into Domenico Scarlatti and Charpentier
before anything else.
" I know the other things I mentioned may be
more relevant to your readers but what they might
not be aware of is that Baroque music is Rock and
Roll in its most pure form. There is nothing else on
the same level in Rock and Roll. When I was not
listening to Little Richard I would listen to Palestrina
"I'm not talking middle class, snobby, crazy
about the classics, Classic FM cal. Vivaldi and Bach
were never middle class. Baroquabilly is for everyone
not just rich people.
"The main reason I got into Clockwork Orange
when I was 14 was that the main character, Alex,
38 1 plan b
Monkey Swallows The Universe
The Casket Letters
'I was outside of everything,
starving, out of my head and
wandering around like the living
dead with a guitar, but I was not
Smiths-like melodies and beautiful Traeey Thorn-esque vocal
The Sunday Times
warm country -llavourcd indie
' Sheffield's latest sensations
+ ***The Sun
was this 14-year-old kid, listening to Bach and Beethoven and wandering wide
in the night, with his Pe and Em telling him to itty of to skollywol in the morning
with Alex saying not going today, got a headache, I'll be all right as dodgers
later. I have never been into Beethoven like that so much but other similarities
to my own life took my attention.
" It was like the book was talking about me. I was the only 1 4-year-old
kid I knew who listened to Bach, dressed in black and hung out at night. The
morning skollywol ritual with my Em was identical.
"That's why 'Shark Fucks' has more to do with Handel than might be easily
recognised and why I eventually left the cocoon. Tronics was a pupa for Zarjaz."
How important were the Eighties?
"Art and music go together like cock in pussy. Fifties, Sixties, the punk scene,
but today I can't think of anything. Some maybe's but nothing outstanding. We
have no Salvador Dali. We are only told what it is great and, unfortunately, many
will believe it. In the Eighties, people began to ask to see my CV. By the Nineties,
musicians were asking if I wanted to see their CV. We are living in a cultural dark
age. Art and music is repressed, kept down and out in favour of acceptable
stereotypes that other stereotypes relate to. "
I have a distant memory of seeing Tronics play on a bill at The Venue,
Victoria in around '82. Did Tronics play many big shows?
"Every show I do is big. In terms of size of venue, not that much, but at that
time, on the independent scene, people didn't think in those terms. Some punk
bands were making it big, but doesn't that suck really? I think if you release
'Shark Fucks' it's pretty certain you might not be asked to play alongside U2 at
the stadium. I was outside of everything, had few clothes and no clothes in one
piece, starving, out of my head and wandering around like the living dead with
a guitar, but I was not a victim.
"At one time you needed to be black to be in Rock and Roll. By the end of the
Eighties if you wanted to make records it was required of you to be milk white
with a mock Seventies hair style, otherwise there was no budget for you. Many
people asked me to do that and be that. They offered me heap big budget and
big gigs. I turn down so many gigs."
How does it feel to be revered as a cult?
"Serious and exciting."
What do you do now?
"Some people say I spend too much time in the sea, but I have several
projects I am working on. I took some time out recently, and this delayed the
next Freakapuss album but I'm on to the release now. Other than that I study,
collect Roman money and prehistoric dinosaur teeth, T-Rex, Raptor and
Megalodon. I watch as many starry movies as I can, I like to drive at 30 kmh
given there being no one behind me. I keep to the back streets. Now was that
Barking Reg Harris and his Whistling Dog?"
The brand new album available now on CD & Download
See Monkey Swallows The Universe at End of the Road Festival in September
For more info visit www.mstu.co.uk www.myspace.com/mstu
plan b 1 39
echo chamber music
Words: Frances Morgan
Photography: Simon Fernandez
Haunted electronics, quaking analogue bass and a touch of trombone:
Plan B goes swimming in the dubstep not dubstep of Bass Clef
40 1 plan b
Near where I live they're building the Olympics: so
far, a moonscape of sandpits, machinery, a rubbly
desert where a factory once stood, a smooth new
road that leads to nowhere yet. At the edge of the
site, the old world: auto repair sheds, a pub that
never opens, Victorian chimneys. On Sundays the
sound of band practices, the Pentecostal fervour
of the Holy Fire Mountain Chapel booming through
cheap speakers, or sometimes the aftermath of
a warehouse party, trance beats banging weakly
in the daytime. Everything echoes here: you want
to clap your hands under the bridge every time
you go under it, and trucks thunder by like sea.
Ralph Cumbers, who traces and redraws
the boundaries of dubstep and electronica with
haunting, vintage electronics and immersive,
analogue low-end under the pragmatic moniker
Bass Clef, lives close by, back in London after
eight years spent in Bristol. His debut album,
A Smile Is A Curve That Straightens Most Things,
isn't directly linked to our location, but nonetheless
it's his poignant, weathered bass that I hear on the
cycle paths and under the bridges, past the Holy
Fire windows. It's music for those spaces, those
expanses of serendipitous neglect where people,
machines, birds, bricks and city wildflowers become
sympathetic species. While trombone, theremin,
alien percussion, washes of strings or a melancholy
voice weave around and fill out Bass Clef 's beats and
bass, you're always reminded of what's not there:
what used to be there and what'll soon be gone.
"Bristol is very haunted, somehow," reflects
Cumbers. "I don't know if I really believe in that
stuff but there's definitely something there. You can
find some fairly mental people who will tell you it's
all the ghosts from slavery that are still there, and
that's why it's so unsettled. But I don't know, maybe
it'sjust the weed..."
As to what what drew him there, he says, "Just
loving Tricky, Portishead and stuff when I was a
teenager, I felt the pull -and yeah, reggae's really
big there. London felt like a big, unfriendly place
to start a band, whereas in Bristol, at the Cube [the
cinema/venue that provides a centre for much of
Bristol's creative underground], it was a really good
hub-you could hang out in this community of
artists and bounce ideas off each other."
What was it like returning to London?
"I grew up in London, so the album was very
much in the throes of coming back home. It's quite
joyous in that respect. I don't know if it sounds like
that to anyone else, but compared to everything
else I'd been doing it was definitely happy."
For all its delay-drenched atmosphere, Bass Clef's
music has a swing and purpose that's particularly
galvanising to experience live, the analogue set-up
giving every sound a textured, vintage quality.
There's no hunching over a hot laptop: Cumbers
tells me he doesn't even own a computer. Instead,
he's never still, moving from mixer to effect to
trombone to theremin to swannee whistle with
a spontaneity that reflects back on the audience -
who shift from basking in deep, slow dub to moving
to an urgent drum'n'bass rhythm, and tuning into
melodies that creep out of the mix, unexpected.
New instruments often crop up too, "Whatever
percussion instruments are in my bag that day. I've
been getting into castanets recently -someone
gave me some. It's hard to get your fingers to play
them properly and trying to mic them up is hard
as well. But they make a really good noise! That's
where the improv element comes in, really-you
get so bored playing songs over and over again.
When I was in bands playing bass, it got so tedious.
But then when I was on my own, it was like, I've
got enjoy it or no one else is going to."
It's hard not to enjoy the swoops and dips of
trombone and theremin that punctuate Bass Clef's
live set -two instruments that, while ostensibly very
different, have a similar loose, untempered, physical
effect. Cumbers' trombone is minimal, simple even,
with the directness and warmth of Peter Zummo's
on Arthur Russell's Calling Out Of Context.
As for the theremin, he says, "I've always
wanted one. It's magical, waving your hands in the
air and making a noise. I had dreams when I was
a kid where you'd find a bit of air, you'd push it and
it would make a note. And it's the same as playing
a trombone: there's no frets and you have to tune
it by ear. Again, it breaks down the barrier between
the audience and you. You get people in the crowd
who try and play it too, which I quite enjoy!"
What kind of atmosphere do you try to create?
"It's supposed to be fun, and then you can sneak
in the weirdness and the emotion underneath.
It's supposed to be uplifting. Something I like about
Bulgarian folk music is that if you can't understand
the words you don't automatically understand if
a song's happy or sad. And a lot of keys go back
and forth between major or minor, so there's this
wonderful, complex emotion that's not happy and
not sad but a bit of both. I'm trying to get a bit of
that- it's supposed to be uplifting, but. . . I've spent
quite a lot of my life feeling pretty miserable, so
that's there in the DNA of the music somewhere too.
There's an acknowledgement of that - that you can
take it on but still have fun. You can find the joy."
While Bass Clef's music locks into the current
interest in dubstep, and shares not only its bass
roots but also its much-documented sense of
absence, ghost echoes and psychogeographical
drift, Cumbers feels he operates apart from any
scene. "I'm not really dubstep," he states. "I don't
really fit in, I don't have any acceptance in those
kinds of circles, they don't play my records and
I'm not really bothered. That's not to say it hasn't
inspired me greatly- it was revelatory to hear it and
think, OK, there's a place for what I've been doing.
"There are a few people who've played my stuff
out. I did a gig in Newcastle last week with Coki
from DMZ headlining, and we got on really well.
That was the first time anyone's said, I understand
a bit what you're doing. So... dubstep not dubstep,
I was calling it. That's what someone shouted at
me at a gig once and I quite liked it because it's like
Disco Not Disco - it was a nice parallel."
With that in mind, perhaps it's not unusual that
A Smile. . .feels like - and was intended to be - a
holistic album rather than a collection of possible
1 2-inches. "If you're going to make an album you
should make an album," he agrees. "Not in a big
'concept album' kind of way, but think about it
as a whole piece of work. The melody of one song
crops up as the bassline of another song, it's more
interwoven: it's a complete circle."
Interestingly, last year's albums by Burial and
Kode 9 spring to mind: Hyperdub's evocation of
its south London location and Memories Of The
Future's vague dystopian menace. The Bass Clef
sound is less austere, certainly, more organic and
often twinkling with a strange, brave prettiness-
a word not often associated with dub's outer limits
- but there's a knack for evoking a real or imaginary
environment that marks them out as fellow
travellers. Cumbers' very titles (Thank You For
Starting Fires', 'That's All I Remember About It'),
meanwhile, area key to his emotional as well as
"I do put effort into titles, actually," he says.
'I've been getting
"I think about them a lot. There's something quite
poncey about titling instrumental music-you'rejust
trying to find the little bit of truth in the music and
then trying to write a one line poem that frames it. "
What extra-musical things inspire you?
"Books, I guess. The two 1 2-inches I've got
coming out are based around Yevgeny Zamyatin,
a Russian writer who wrote a dystopian novel called
We. Aldous Huxley ripped it off for Brave New World
and George Orwell for 1984. Each side of the 12
has a quote from that as the title. "
Meanwhile, away from the myths of the future,
the Bass Clef headphones are currently reverbing to
the sound of another master of melancholic, joyful,
linearspace-pop-juju pioneer King Sunny Ade.
"I'm having a big King Sunny Ade phase at the
moment - the early Eighties stuff where it's a bit
Arthur Russell-y, with drum machines and weird
layering. There's a track on my new 1 2-inch that's
got calypso, soca and carnival rhythms, which feeds
back into Afrobeat."
Where are you going to go with that?
"I've got this fantasy about an enormous Fela
Kuti-style 23-piece band, with six drummers and
a load of trombonists but all the electronic stuff still
going on," Cumbers smiles. "Maybe one day..."
plan b 1 41
sticking with you
Words: Neil Kulkarni
Photography: Andy Whitton
Live Photography: Simon Fernandez.
Animal Collective's eighth album
Strawberry Jam heats up their magical
noise-pop into an irresistibly sweet
congelation that'll flutter both the heart
and the brain. Plan B licks the spoon,
gets a giant sugar rush and celebrates
the story so far of one of this century's
most reluctantly special bands
plan b 1 43
l-r: David Portner (Avey Tare), Josh Dibb (Deakin),
Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), Brian Weitz (Geologist)
till Wll '«<'" j:
Today is my 35th birthday and I'm in no mood for
congratulation. The endless entropy of music is
getting enough backslaps at the moment, as is the
sure and steady dissolution of romance in favour
of the relative order of the scene-scape. At least we
all know where we stand, even if it's on quicksand
and we haven't a leg to sink with.
So I'll pass on congratulating Animal Collective
for Strawberry Jam right now. Congratulations
would be inappropriate for a record that's done me
so little good, that's so unsettled me, that's stopped
me living. It's a record that connects you again to
dreams you thought long dead and nightmares you
smugly assumed you'd kept the lid on since your
childhood. Perhaps mostterrifyingly, Strawberry
Jam plugs you back into hope - and for any decent
pessimist, that's a frightening thing to let back in
again. While so much modern pop seems to ask
you to embrace your inner stasis and hollowness,
Animal Collective impertinently remind you that
you're full of shit and you've got to move. I love and
loathe them for extending the warranty on my life
expectancy, for daring to suggest that self-disgust
and despair aren't the only ways onward.
The members of Animal Collective have been
making music since 1 992; since the beginning
of this century they've been making music I've
been able to hear; since last week they've been
reconfiguring my expectations. Where for the past
half-decade they've been occasionally enrapturing,
yet distant avatars of an anti-scene I couldn't care
less about (the freak folk/free noise dissensus), now
it seems they're ready to snip any umbilicus they
have with campf ire psych and float free into a deep
pop space of their own.
Hence, I'm in a city that frightens me, I'm
shaking Animal Collective's hands and starting the
tape rolling and praying I don't puncture the magic.
Cos the magic ain't illusion, or fun and games, or
the distraction anymore. Magic, when it occurs, is
the reason, the retaliation and the only thing worth
sticking around for in 2007.
"We simply cannot repeat ourselves, " says David
Portner (aka Avey Tare), sipping tea in a Soho
backroom with his bandmates Noah Lennox (aka
Panda Bear), Josh Dibb (aka Deakin), and Brian
Weitz (aka Geologist). They look like American
tourists and in several senses they are. "There's a
habit in music at the moment to get things to sound
'right' -by that I mean 'wrong', accidental, sloppy,
chaotic-and hope that just enough sticks with just
enough hipsters. I think the reason people might
seek us out is because we're genuinely interested in
perfection. I mean, why aim for anything less?"
"A lot of things you hear these days you get the
feeling that, 'Yup, it was two years since the last
album, so they cranked out another', " grins Lennox,
looking at me as if through the flames of a beach
bonfire, both penetratingly and evasively. He sits
next to Dibb, his old schoolf riend and first musical
collaborator. Lennox is cute as fuck but I tell no one
but you this. "It wasn't ever as if knocking records
out was an option for Animal Collective. But this
time around, it was the accidental and rushed and
lucky that we wanted to avoid. We wanted this to
be our most painstaking record."
"And it was," nods Weitz, considerate. It was
Weitz who first hooked up with Portner in Baltimore
in '93 at around the same time Lennox was footling
around with Dibb - six years later the collaboration
of these two pairings would form Animal Collective.
"Two years of writing and playing these songs on
the road and still they weren't where we wanted
them. It was like swimming through treacle. What
do you mean that Strawberry Jam 'unsettled' you?"
Well, this: I've had Strawberry Jam in my ear for
a week now. For me to return to real life is entirely
traumatic, hence the shakiness I'm showing you
now. I'm trembling. I'm blustering. I have no idea
what to ask you, and further, have no idea if I want
to know anything more about you than Strawberry
Jam suggests. What's it like for you to listen to it?
Portner: "We don't-"
Lennox: "-listen to-"
Dibb, quick, scattershot: "-our music."
"Why would we? We spent a year writing this
record and a couple of months recording it and
for that entire time we were totally focused on its
creation," explains Lennox. "I'm simply relieved
that it's complete. Quite apart from the fact that
re-hearing it would open up all kinds of
dissatisfactions and incompleteness. We're never
really 'satisfied' by our music. Maybe because in
a real non-'fuckyou' kinda way we don't actually
care about how our records 'do' or 'succeed'."
Weitz: "If we've arrived at a point where we're
all sure nothing more can be done, we move on. We
already have 10 songs for the next album completed."
It's been everthus with Animal Collective-
from the start, their music's been an ever-extending,
onwardly rolling product of improvisation, jams and
ferocious sonic discussion. When we hear Strawberry
Jam, to what extent are we hearing a statement or a
snapshot? Are we being gifted a crafted message
from the band or simply eavesdropping on a process
called 'Animal Collective'?
Lennox: "As ever, on one level what's on the
album is simply the songs that made the cut. But
everything else was different -the way we got
to the heart of those songs was clearer and more
demanding than ever before. When you say it
unsettled you, well, returning to our lives after
Lennox: "I certainly felt that I've got the solo part
of my music out of my system - after Person Pitch
[his fantastic solo album under the Panda Bear
moniker] I felt spent in every sense, almost like I'd
given away too much of myself, or at least hadn't
been held in check. That kind of indulgence can
be great, but I missed the mutual conciseness that
being in a band gives you, the way people can clip
your wings just as you're ready to fly I We all wanted
to do something that was less about ego and more
about something mutual and collaborative. "
Portner: "Before we recorded this album we
talked about it at length. We wanted to avoid the
kind of strung-out ambient sections of music we'd
done before and start concentrating on songs,
melodies, making pictures with words and music.
Certain words came up: laser... blubber... liquid ...
Lennox: "Strawberry Jam became the key
words because it so perfectly sums up the feel we
were after. That feeling of gloopiness and slightly
restricted movement- it sounds vague, but we
all saw in our heads exactly the kind of sound we
were aiming for, and we were fairly insistent to the
producer at all times if we didn't feel that sound was
Portner: "We were worried before recording
about using Scott Colbourn again because he was
so intimately tied in with the sound oi Feels we
thought he might simply try and recreate that. But
we warned him beforehand that Strawberry Jam
had to be totally different. "
Weitz: "I know it might seem that our visual cues
for the music are random but once you dedicate
yourself to exploring them it becomes a fraught and
demanding thing. We wanted something so sweet
'If we have any influence, it's more in
the spirit in which we do things, our
desire to force things as far as they
can go' -josh Dibb
recording Strawberry Jam was the strangest
experience we've had. Some of us got genuinely
and seriously sick, some of us took a long time to
re-adjust, because we were immersed in this record
way more than anything we've done so far. We
saw/this album before we even played a note.
It appeared to us visually. "
Maybe that's why the pre-release buzz from Animal
Collective's rabid devotees is that Strawberry Jam is
worryingly polished, processed, a little too perfect;
that now is the time to step off the Collective's
f reakbus and find pastures more unmannered.
See y'later then chumps. Good riddance. Let
those who'd have Animal Collective fulfilling some
faffy freak folk remit forever disappear, let's ditch
all that deadwood derailment and drive this train
to heaven. There's a liquidity and precision to
Strawberry Jam that blows Feels (2005) and Sung
Tongs (2004) to the side like tangled tumbleweed.
Where those albums thrived on their suggestiveness
and chaos, a sense of untrammelled noodle that
happily fell into recognisable motif often enough
to grab you, Strawberry Jam is an entirely different
derangement, a concise artistic vision, rather than a
sprawling mass of random reflection.
It's as if Animal Collective have stopped seeing
albums as a necessity to draw eras of the band to
a close and have started seeing the LP format finally
as an opportunity, a new era in itself. Strawberry
Jam offers the same Animal Collective fix-hit that
Fee/sand Sung Tongs sporadically touched on, but
concentrated, free at last and ravishing throughout.
it was kind of sickly. We'd spend a long time
unhappy with songs if they weren't sounding
What's odd about Strawberry Jam is that
ultimately it's referents aren't musical -sure, I hear
Eno, Ayers, Shudder To Think, Bad Brains, Buffy
Sainte-Marie's Illuminations, Fleetwood Mac's Tusk,
Disco Inferno, The Rolling Stones, Patience And
Prudence, but mostly I hear Animal Collective,
a band finally transcending their myriad sonic
influences and able to truly reflect those non-
musical cues their noise has previously obscured.
"Who do you mean? "
I keep coming back to Nabokov.
The way he paints pictures with words, the
way he can sum up a moment so completely, from
internal mood to external environment -all so
deftly, so lightly, so richly. There'd be a danger with
Strawberry Jam, if the lyrics had been as American-
mystical as the music seems to demand, of the
whole album coming off as pushy, gleeful. As it is,
the words, when you can discern them, are oddly
European-realist vignettes from real life, a turbid
slew of kitchen-sink wonder and day-to-daydream
directness that recalls Carver and Firbank and firmly
places the unearthly wonder of the sounds you're
hearing in touchingly real, by-your-side contexts.
Lennox: "The songwriting we wanted to avoid
on Jam was where you come up with a load of
cool music and then layer it with bad poetry and
sloganeering . The lyrics had to occur simultaneously
with the music, had to influence that music as much
as the music influenced them. It's difficult for me to
plan b 1 45
see lyric-writing as a different process than making
music-they're both aiming to create a world that's
real and believable. Added to which we've always
seen the voice as simply another instrument. "
Portner: "Totally, and it's an important
instrument. At the studio, there was a ton of
instrumentation we played around with but never
used - we realised very quickly that melody isn't
an afterthought, that it was gonna be the key to
Strawberry Jam. We realised, in effect, that what
we've always been making is pop music."
It's hearing Animal Collective finally twig on their
true souls that makes Strawberry Jam so intoxicating
- it has the same scales-from-eyes pop-revelatory
feel as Hood's Outside Closer, the same purity
and concentration that took Royal Truxfrom Twin
Infinitives to Accelerator. Listen back to Danse
"We could just turn out the same records
forever. But we follow the songs - it's easy to lose
sight of that, though: you forget the reason pop
music is frequently more mindblowing than more
self-consciously out-there music is because it has to
force things together more concisely, has to squeeze
its invention in with the goddamn tune! But we've
always been trying to make music that says hello
and takes you with it, rather than music that challenges
or confronts you or anything so attitudinal. "
Weitz drains his coffee-cup, thinks for a moment
and then gives the nod: "We make pop music. It's
just not popular. That's all. "
He's wrong though, ain't he? You're on front covers.
You're pals with Black Dice and Vashti Bunyan and
'Certain words came up: laser.
blubber...Mquid...' -David Portner
Manatee, Campfire Songs, Spirit They've Gone. . .
and Sung Tongs (the brace of albums Animal
Collective produced for FatCat and Paw Tracks from
2000 onwards) and you'll have yr mind blown by
ear-scaldingly joyful noise interrupted by pop. On
Feels, it seemed the strength of songwriting was
in equal battle with the ravishing racket Animal
Collective attempted to drown their hooks in. On
Strawberry Jam, it's too easy to say the pop/noise
ratios have been reversed - rather, Animal Collective
have realised that pop is noise, that pop can make
that noise seem even heavier by forcing each fresh
idea to carry a narrative weight, a reason for being
beyond mere dazzling indulgence.
It's hearing Animal Collective's fuzzy pop-logic
finally focus rather than flail that makes Strawberry
Jam their best yet.
FourTet and Ariel Pink. You're 'leading lights' and
'scene innovators' and all those other soubriquets
of smug self-satisfaction most bands would kill for.
How does it feel to be figureheads?
Dibb: "Of what?"
Ummm, the whole freak folk/psyche/noise/
"Exactly, you're already freefalling through areas
of music we hardly touch on. We listen to folk, but
there's no way we're folk artists in any sense and this
whole notion we improvise stuff is just bullshit. Have
you seen us live?"
Yeah, and I recall that what seemed to swing the
crowd were the moments where things were out
" Noth ing is ever out of control on stage for us,
that's the thing. It might have the appearance of
being spontaneous but we plan everything down
to the finest detail. Our 'trouble' in that regard is
that we're not really that keen on disabusing people
of the misconceptions they might have about us.
We love reading about other bands. We're just kind
of faintly amused by everything we read about
ourselves. Not because it's saying too much that
we want to keep secret, more that we cannot fail
to disappoint people!"
Portner: "So when we hear about us supposedly
influencing loads of bands we know it's nonsense.
Dibb: "If we have any influence, it's more in
the spirit in which we do things, our desire to
force things as far as they can go. But I don't know
of any bands trying to sound like us exactly. I'm the
idiot in the band who tries to answer all the emails
we get and I can sense the palpable disappointment
people feel when they get an answer. I don't
exactly know how they expect us to be, but people
generally want their bands to be crazy and funny
and insane. When they get these fairly dull,
meandering responses from us, they're like, oh
shit, they really are that geeky. "
Lennox: "Itwas ever thus though, so we're
comfortable with it. From the early days in the early
Nineties when we started making music together
we were hated by everyone else, most people just
thought we were a bunch of geeks and hippies. "
I'm guessing that the precise lack of a scene
in Baltimore (Animal Collective came together in
Maryland, even if now they're spread between
Portugal, Washington and NYC) played to your
sense of isolation, your ability to develop an
aesthetic free of the confinements that come
with gigging alongside peers and wellwishers.
Dibb: "Well, there was a strong DIY hardcore
scene in Baltimore when we started: tight,
aggressive, loud, occasionally political, definitely
male. They thought we were Pavement/Grateful
Dead-listening fag scum. Being so utterly out of the
loop makes you set up your own, exchange your
own tapes and ideas and sounds, and that's pretty
much the self-sufficient community that Animal
46 | plan b
'We saw Strawberry Jam before we
even played a note. It appeared to
US Visual ly' - Noah Lennox
Collective have been since. Baltimore had to be the
town, though - because of its polyglot nature you
get exposed to so many different types of music,
but there wasn't a 'Baltimore sound' to aim for. We
were stuck in the middle of nowhere and you played
music to escape somewhere, at least mentally. "
Portner: "A lot of people we're in touch with
say that the way we emerged, from just messing
about together and existing under the radar of the
industry for so long before we were even heard, has
been an influence. But I'd say most great bands do
that now - especially now when so many things
about music are so pushy and in-your-face.
"So even though we're probably heard by more
people now, we feel a stronger urge to kind of. . .
disappear if you like. We've never had personalities
or attitudes egocentric enough to really make it
as a band in the conventional sense. And it isn't
so much that we thrive on mystery, but our music's
mystical to us, so drowning it in our personas just
wouldn't feel right. What has been cool since
we've been on record companies is that no one's
tried to make us 'sell' ourselves as such. Possibly
because they know we wouldn't, probably because
they've taken one look at us and realised it just ain't
gonna happen . . ."
So if Animal Collective have an influence on other
bands, it's in that reliance on local networks and that
retreat from the industry -but now that such self-
sustained creative communities have, in themselves,
become the new orthodoxy, where does that leave
Strawberry Jam suggests. . .out on their own.
Check their website. Check 'em out live. But don't
forget, amid all that sureness, to plunge yourselves
soon as you can into the windmilling whimsical
wastes of Strawberry Jam and spend a season
trying to climb out of its honey-dripping walls.
The containment and contentment of modern
pop doesn't just get dispelled whenever it's on,
modern pop becomes a bad dream that Strawberry
Jam wakes you from. It's that necessary. And it's
that wonderful. That they want to disappear is
I'm sorry if this interview has been painful.
Noah: "No offence, but I'd like people to have
nothing to go on but the music. You know you said
that the record 'unsettled' you? Let's leave it at that.
That's what music should do. "
All midlife-diagnostics are over. Self-prescription.
Jam on it.
annals of the collective
2000: Childhood friends Avey Tare and Panda Bear establish their otherworldly template by releasing
Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished on their own Animal label.
2001 : Geologist and Deakin reinforce the line-up for Danse Manatee, experimenting with extreme
frequencies before touring with buddies Black Dice (documented on the very limited Hollinndagain release).
2003: Fourth album Campfire Songs, a one-take document of the band at their lo-f i folksiest is followed
swiftly by Here Comes The Indian and its further out FXiest ensemble pieces.
2004: Sung Tongs becomes their first record on the FatCat label, and a more gently accessible vocal-led
sound leads naturally on to a critical breakthrough. Later in the year, Panda Bear releases his debut solo
record, Young Prayer, mourning his father in suitably anchorless tones in nine untitled tracks.
2005: The Prospect Hummer EP sees one of Vashti Bunyan's first collaborations since her re-emergence,
before Feels becomes their most conventionally rocky statement to date (they claim it's their 'love album').
2007: Avey Tare and Kria Brekkan's Pullhair Redeye is released entirely reversed and puzzles fans, while
Panda Bear's latest, Person Pitch, delights critics. The Animal label has expanded to become Paw Tracks,
issuing work by Ariel Pink, First Nation and Terrestrial Tones. Strawberry Jam is released in October.
The Coronet, London
Two weeks since Animal Collective played the Coronet,
I'm doing something I don't usually: gauging other
reviewers' evaluations. A line has drawn itself between
the exclamatory plaudits ("As relevant as seeing Can
in their day") and inflammatory putdowns(" Merely
solipsistic"). There are claims that Avey Tare's rabble
can rest on their laurels and still be worshipped; talk
of how they're wilfully obtuse and frustrating rather
than clever (they play nothing from looming release
Strawberry Jam and only one song from Feels, ditching
all guitars) and- perhaps the bitchiest- of how they
have nothing to loop worth looping in the first place.
But among these negative retrospectives, you
catch whiff of a recurring feeling: that their authors just
wanted to hear 'Grass' before the last tube hauled ass
home, and stamped their foot through the floorboards
when they didn't get it. A better attitude to adopt?
Expect the unexpected. Except, don't. Simply fall into
orbit, letting them encircle and tighten grip - at the
same time, don't wholly relax, 'cause these layered
vocals require concentration and visualisation.
Optical fields narrow to Avey Tare's arms during
'Doggy'; flinging one pound at a primed bucket drum,
he rolls back and pitches another - it's like he's on
wheels, on castors, his centre of gravity moving in
a solid oval as the venue's enclave fills with gambols
of echo. Tare and Panda Bear's voices lobby and cuff,
rotating and relocating, maintaining conversation
through interval drops until they swoon into their apex.
Half an hour later, the smallest gasp of a left-behind
melody will boat back, leaving you brightly but
failingly trying to place it. Geologist's headlamps bob
like fireflies or torches come to find lost bodies amid
wordless chants and ghosting beats; the set revolves
like an underwater slideshow with no real beginning
and an end implemented only by the theatre's curfew.
Those who think repetition is alienating, that
Animal Collective's reliance on hypnotism results
in a lack of emotion, should download the entire live
recording just for Avey's "With flowers in her hair"
refrain; it pushes desperately forward with lump-in-
throat force, like he's trying to find someone in the dark
and provide a space for her return.
The thing about this band is that while they're
boundlessly innovative- beneath each composition
is always a comforting, time-defying foundation:
like even, fulsome waves; like oil on canvas. Animal
Collective comprise a future-thinking, survival-of-the-
fittest ensemble that benefits, like anything else worth
its evolutionary salt, from an instinctive base and
a sense of history: in their latest incarnation, always
new; yet, in essence, as old as the hills.
A penultimate 'Loch Raven' has stifled barks, shy
hoots, the skittering of sorry insects -they segue into
'Leaf House', the lights lift, the PA begins playing
something entirely inappropriate, there's no encore
(why would there be?) and the choked-up subterranea
of London channels people home through dangerous,
plan b 1 47
ft Words: Louis Pattison
^^ Photoqraphv: Adam Faradav
Eric Boros and Marylise Frecheville are Vialka, the electrifying two-person minstrel troupe
whirling, singing, marching and thinking their way around a sped-up world
The first time I meet Marylise Frecheville and Eric
Boros, they appear out of the night, winter coats
zipped up, backpacks strung with guitar and
cymbals, rolled-up bedding in hand. They are tired
and unhappy. They relate their last 48 hours; paired
with terrible bands at some godforsaken venue
up north, underpaid by a promoter, let down by
the capricious scheduling of the crumbling British
railway network. I find myself wondering why
people might live this way, toss themselves at the
mercy of a merciless world. But Marylise shrugs it
off: "This is the life we chose. "
Later, dressed in traditional clothes that make
them look like medieval serfs, they play. Eric prances
and kicks his heels, his fingers dancing exotic motifs
across his f retboard, echoes of gypsy folk, Eastern
melodies and African song, product of a nomadic
muse. Marylise sings with an earthy, French-
accented voice that belies her slight size, bounds
out from behind her drums to recite story-songs,
and returns behind the kit to beat out mini
tornadoes of percussion. That night, Vialka sleep
in my lounge. We exchange email addresses, and
the next morning, they leave, bound for the station,
and the wide world swallows them up once more.
Twenty-nine months later, I ring the doorbell of
a house in Brixton. I don't know the woman who
answers, but Eric recognises me and welcomes
me in. As I enter, Marylise pads down the stairs,
beaming, thirsty baby clamped to her breast. At
just five months old, lldiko- who shares the name
of the last wife of Atilla The Hun, but that's mere
coincidence - is already experiencing life as part of
the Vialka touring party. If this is as much a project
as a band - as its creators have it, a "Social scientific
experiment, attempting to meet, communicate and
work with extraordinary musicians and artists from
everywhere and nowhere, with particular interest
in polluted dictatorships, bleak colonies and
monarchic democracies" -you feel this Vialka
are now, offstage at least, a trio.
After dinner, we relocate to the lounge. Eric has
made me promise not to ask 'the boring questions'.
"So the first," he deadpans, "iswhydid you start
the band?" And he breaks into peals of laughter.
"Stop fucking with him, Eric," tuts Marylise.
So- why did you start the band? Laughter.
"We played music together first," explains
Marylise. "We were crammed in a car together for
several tours before we were together. Together,
we were in a punk band..."
"... I wouldn't go so far as a punk band, "
interrupts Eric. "I was living in a squat in Switzerland
when Marylise and Titi, this French guitar player,
showed up. They needed a bass player, so I just
started playing with them, and a month later, we
recorded an LP. I just kind of jumped on that."
That band, NNY, split in 2002. Marylise and
Eric, now lovers, relocated to a farmhouse in rural
France, from where they practised, planned
recordings and plotted more and more distant
and adventurous tours, an attempt to experience
the world's underside. "I call it menestrels," explains
Marylise. "There is a song on the new album called
that. It is about going around and talking to people
and discovering the information we get from the
media can be very different from what people
actually witness and do. "
Vialka 's travels have taken them across Asia,
Africa, North America, Australia and New Zealand,
and all over Europe. "I love travelling," says Eric.
"But the more I travel the morel increasingly see the
limitations. When you go somewhere, you go with
films already in your mind - you see the things you
think you are going to see. Now, you just need to
step off anywhere to see the whole world is covered
"There's something very different between
travelling and touring," agrees Marylise. "Because
when we go somewhere to play, we are sharing
stuff with people," adds Eric. "You have this really
incredible trust relationship. You've just shared
an email but all of a sudden you find yourself on
the other side of the world in their house. It gives
me an incredible faith in humanity, a faith that
otherwise is quite difficult to find. "
As well as geography, Vialka are fascinated by
I studied architecture. But suddenly I became a
musician. Maybe it's the fact that my father's family
were musicians, but I don't know any of them. But
my dad was abandoned, I did look for his mum but
I could not find her."
So maybe there's something dormant?
Marylise: "The brain is a genetic thing too,
the chemicals and the gender. . . "
Eric: "You can think of a human being as like
empty, with no thoughts inside it, but everything
in your mind comes from your experience. Genes
might be there to treat the information you receive
in a certain way, butthere'ssomuch more influence
Doyou consider Vialka a political band?
Marylise: "I think art in general is necessarily
political. Even just form or shape itself can reveal
a political aspect of the mind of the artist."
Eric: "From where I'm from in Canada, the
music scene was very influenced by this identity
politics thing - riot grrrls, straight edgers,
Chumbawumbaism, as I heard someone say. At the
time that question would have strong importance.
Now, I would say no. I feel like our creative impulse
and way of living could be perceived as being
very political, but it's just us trying to be as true
'The world is in a machine, going
faster and faster, and everyone's
pressed against the wall'
history, or more specifically, lineage: oral history, the
relation of tales, and the connection a band has with
its forefathers, or will have on future generations.
And like Sun City Girls or The Ex, their experience
loops directly back into their music.
"It's hard to say we're influenced by Malian
griot, or we're influenced because Marylise's
mother was an opera singer in Paris," says Eric
"This is important, I think. I got a tape in the mail
in 1993 that blew my mind and I started doing
strange stuff from it but no one necessarily talks
about this stuff. It doesn't work in a tradition. In
Mali, the family that's been playing the kora for 20
generations, there's a context of past and continuity.
Speaking of something as part of the past and
making it go forward into the future."
Are people more shaped by their genes, or by
Eric: "A good question! I like it very much."
Marylise: "lean only talk about my experiences.
I was raised to be a logic person, always very good
at maths and physics. My parents are the perfect
couple from the good years in the Sixties. We call
them in French les trenteglorieuse, the 30 good
years after the end of the war. Two people with
good jobs and a house on the outskirts of the city.
to ourselves. If I was to say were were a political
band it would be like we were removing something
from ourselves and putting it on a shelf."
Marylise: "What we make is very organic, it
grows in every direction. Politics is part of it. But it
Marylise, ever-industrious, has had difficult
adjusting to motherhood. "I had to give the boob
all day, and I couldn't do anything -at the beginning
I was really stressed about it, I have to do something,
I have to be productive! I had a really hard time
getting used to it. " Just months after lldiko's birth,
then, Vialka returned to the Pyrenees to complete
their new album Plus Vite Que La Musique.
"The title means manythings in French,"
explains Marylise. "But the straight translation
is 'Faster than the music'. It's what you say when
somebody tells you something but they don't tell
you all the steps that led to the statement. It can
also mean doing too many things stressf ully. The
title just felt like something in the air. The world is in
a machine, going faster and faster, and everyone's
pressed against the wall. "
Maybe sometimes, the only way to find your
niche is to pack your bag, hit the road, and try to
plan b 1 49
'O .. )
Bloody-minded Cardiff trio Future Of The Left make pop songs with spikes on, skewering the
idiots of the world with sardonic syntax and exuberant, abrasive rock
Words: Noel Gardner
"' otography: Simon Fernandez
It's been well over three years since we were
last presented with an album-sized chunk
of Andy Falkous' particular, skewed lyrical
worldview. Feels at least that long, too.
A recap? If you insist.
Back in 2004, Andy was the frontman of
mclusky, a loud and sardonic rock trio from
Cardiff, who released an album -theirthird
-entitled The Difference Between Me And
You Is That I'm Not On Fire. It swaggered and
swung like an outsized pendulum and was
generally, and rightly, seen as their finest work
to date. There was no reason to think a fourth
album would be anything but excellent, yet
mclusky broke up at the start of 2005, and
that was that.
Andy and Jack Egglestone, mclusky's
loud and sardonic rock trio from Cardiff, who
release an a I bum -their debut -entitled Curses
laterthis month. It's a belter. Quite naturally,
it contains many of the elements that accrued
mclusky a dedicated fanbase; in many other
respects, it turns its hand to new and perhaps
"Tl?e fabric of [the album] is pop songs,
even if that's not necessarily the way it's
delivered," suggests Andy. There are keyboards
aplenty and plunging, danceable basslines;
a sense of exuberance and a feeling that
the idiots of the world are being breezily
mocked rather than covered in rage and
spittle. There's a wholly incongruous piano
ballad, The Contrarian', right at the end.
Pop songs? Why not indeed.
The hysterical verbosity of Falkous' past
concerns has been pushed further into the
abstract. You're reminded of Guy Picciotto
from Fugazi, in the near-impenetrable syntax
and repeated phrases, although this is rather
undermined by references to pickled onions,
sausage and Land Rovers. There is, the
lyricist says, a wealth of meaning within
the obtuseness; "But on the other hand, if
people can listen to 'Wrigley Scott' and tell
me what the fuck that's about..."
The final member of Future Of The
Left, bassist Kelson Mathias, used to be the
frontman in a South Wales ensemble named
Jarcrew, who rocked a hyperactive Les Savy Fav
vibe for a less celebrated but most enjoyable
time. They, too, broke up shortly into '05.
While Andy provides the bulk of responses
and one-liners in an FOTL fireside chat. Kelson
is by no means without insight. Interacting
with all three members, it's obvious th
band exists on a basis of friendship, shared
outlook and tics of personality, rather than
"I was just sick of playing in a band in
general," says Kelson of the period between
Jarcrew dissolving and FOTL's emergence.
"Touring, partly, but also the crazy-ass way we
used to write songs, which was just everyone
hucking ideas in. That isn't how it's done in
Future Of The Left; it's much more focused.
I tried to convince myself that I didn't need
to do it anymore, but then this opportunity
came about and I realised how much I missed
Both Future Of The Left's live set, which
didn't debut until July 2006- "Most bands
should wait longer before playing their first
gig," Andy notes. "Some bands should wait
50 years" -and Curses, which was recorded
in Wales over three weekends, express the
sort of well-drilled sonic teamwork and
singular purpose that could threaten to
take Plan B closer to sports journalism than
generally desired. They operated as a quartet
in an embryonic form, bolstered by guitarist
Hywel Evans, but found that life as a trio
"That's when we started writing as a band, "
Kelson says. "[Debut single] 'The Lord Hates
A Coward' was a benchmark song of sorts."
Was it important to challenge yourselves
in the creative process?
Actually, FOTL's only venture outside of
the UK so far has been South By Southwest
in Austin. "Too much wait-y and not enough
play-y," Andy says. "I guess we got talked about
by people, which is... nice. But it would have
been better to have just gone over and done
a full tour."
The success that mclusky managed to enjoy
in (especially) the US, Australia and Germany-
success which far outweighed any marketing
the band were ever afforded -would, one
assumes, be nice to repeat. Andy again:
"There's only so many times you can play
Britain. No disrespect to Leicester, but who
wants to play there 15 times? Maybe Biffy
Clyro. I think if anything happens with this
band to a degree of what one might term
success, it's gonna happen because we've done
quite well in the States. I don't have in my mind
a specific amount of records - but hopefully
we can go out and play with a bunch of bands
we like and steal all theirfucking fans."
Careerist only insofar as they're happy to
entertain the idea of having FOTL as their main
career, the trio have learned enough in their
time about our old pal, the indie music industry.
._.. gets from nowhere and f abricat
enemies even if they refuse to hate
me' - Andy Falkous
"Why do anything if it's not a f uckin'
challenge?" the lyricist retorts. "I work better
when I'm ridiculously under pressure. To
motivate myself I have to create targets from
nowhere and fabricate enemies even if they
refuse to hate me."
I remember seeing you the evening after
mclusky broke up. I said, "That's a shame,"
and you said, "No, it's been OK, I wrote eight
"Yes, well, six were shit," the singer says
seriously. "With bands, the trick of writing
a good record is there's no trick. If you have
love for the craft of writing your loud pop
nd you try and try again, that's it."
"The other day," says Kelson, "I was speaking
to a friend at work who was confused that I can
spend nine hours a day at the job and then do
the band. But I worry about people who just
have that job. That's not being snobbish, it's
just that if you took the band away from me
I sure as hell wouldn't be doing a job like that.
"We could be having a bad day in Cardiff,"
says Jack, "but we're in Heidelberg, Germany."
to maintain a certain degree of autonomy.
Andy: "There's no need for a manager
at this moment in time. As a young band,
you don't necessarily understand the lay of
Kelson: "There's nothing to manage."
Andy: "What are they gonna say? 'Go to
work. Don't get sacked.' There are certain
things I now know to avoid but, to be honest,
it wasn't like with mclusky we were made
to dress up as rabbits for photoshoots or
It's 2007, and the British rock landscape
is such that the idea of a band like Future
Of The Left- pop songs notwithstanding -
being courted by Big Rock Management with
promises of actual stardom is even sillier than
it might have been a few years ago.
"If you listen to the parade of fucking
shit lined upon Radio 1 these days..." Andy
trails off. "I mean the alternative coverage is
laughable in its absence. But nobody who reads
Plan B needs us to tell them that. Unless you're
talking about the ironic pop, shiny blue shoes-
plan b | 51
This music is marvellous; unfettered,
spontaneous. A battery of female voices sing
in disharmonious unison over cascades of
dissonant saxophone, the odd splash of
piano, a sewing machine and skittering beats.
Amplified heartbeats (the better to express
nerves and excitement before a performance),
scissors, chains, circular patterns and beautiful,
beautiful voices that remind me of avant
pioneer Maggie Nichols, linger and meander
fitfully before sparking off again in entirely
This is a Faustian pact, perhaps; or a sound
in Fluxus. The vocals switch from German to
English to skittering babble; a voice lights up,
admonishing and then playful, serious and
How did you all get together?
"Well, we all met in Vienna, studying at the
University of Applied Arts. We were all very
curious about sound in some form or another
and that is how we came about to form a band
-a performance group, rather. We felt the urge
to create our own playground, to define an
experimental space in art and sound."
This music is marvellous: anonymous,
bewitching. I send entreaties into cyberspace
and discover much. In 2000, four female
students from Serbia, Austria, Germany and
Australia decided to set up a performance
group - which they gave the working title
of Nista Nije Nista. (It's Serbo-Croatian for
nothing is not nothing.)
I discoverthe following salient facts from
www.klangbad.de: Rebecca Harris, now
relocated to Australia, is responsible for the
more lyrical singing. Ute Marie Paul plays
saxophone, while Hemma Pototschnig, who
was born in the region of Austria known as
Carinthia, plays computer and organ. The
fourth member, Natalija Ribovic, contributes
the more eruptive spoken word - and singing
- parts, and thus is a sort of vocal counterpoint
"We are very thankful that the zero was
d iscovered, " they i nf orm me col lectively.
"It helps us to getalong with definition."
This music is marvellous: weird, unsettling.
Two albums have been issued on Klangbad,
the label set up by Faust's Hans-Joachim
\rm\er - Nee NiemalsNicht (2004), which was
described on the Village Voice website (by me)
as, "Channelling the spirit of dada, Faust, early
Raincoats, proto-feminist improvisers Julie
Tippett and Lindsay Cooper, anti-globalisation
and a whole mess of humour into one glorious
whole"; and this year's 4 Wolves Attack which
is way more playful, and of which Plan B's
kicking_k wrote, "This record feels not like
'We are an array of thoughts all at once,' proclaim Nista NijeNista, four women from four
countries creating mischievous, idealistic DIY art music from the depths of Faust's studio in Scheer,
Germany. 'We attack. We stop. We are indecisive. We continue.' We like. . .
Words: Everett True
the song-as-machine, collaborative artwork,
but four processes feeding on each other,
branching over, together and through,
weaving ever denser like undergrowth".
Sure, 4 Wolves Attack reminds me of
Faust's second album So Far, that seriousness
of purpose underpinned by a refusal to take
convention too acutely, but the first was made
by men, the second by women. This matters.
"We wanted to rehearse for our first concert
in Vienna," they say, "and Ute-Marie invited
us to practice in [Faust's] cellar. One day Hans-
Joachim started to set up his studio equipment
to record us. It was an experiment. Perhaps he
was amused by our unmusical approach. It was
all built on theories at first. But for some reason
he took us seriously and we continue to learn
from him enormously."
What's it like to work with Faust?
"It is very refreshing. They have a much
better routine and are not as hysterical. We
playfully quote them sometimes, in our naive
way, for example by using plastic construction
chains -they use metal ones. It is a joke.
"It gives us more strength and focus in
believing in what we are doing. It is funny
that it is always artists or musicians who feel
the need to justify themselves and their wor
- never bakers or lawnmowers. Faust is an
objective point of view for us and on our
temporary chaos. Sometimes it is necessary to
have such a critique. The work together is very
open; we are pushed to find ways of breaking
rules and conventions, habits and mechanisms
of sound. What is new is not necessarily better.
Sometimes it really sucks," they laugh.
This music is marvellous: as refreshing as
the slam of a door after your nephews have
departed, as comforting asthejuxtaposition
of author Walter Moseley and the drowsiness
that comes as relief to the roaring silence,
as life-enriching as Russian constructivism,
conceptual art, film, installation, new media
and video art, philosophy, music, speech,
slam poetry, architecture, feminism, Wiener
Aktionismus and literature. It's the sound of
four cultures colliding, and celebrating their
uniqueness and togetherness: it's the sound
of music as factory floor, working hard towards
an end that can never be resolved, because
You wonder how these ladies communicate
when they're all in the same country, the same
city... the same room.
"We speak mostly German but also some
English together. Rebecca's German now is
probably better then ours! It was funny as
she was learning she repeated everything
we said, like a parrot! We were often quite
irritated having to decide which sentences
were a contribution to our conversation and
which were her practice. Maybe that was
why ourfirst album had so much to do
What attracted you to the form of music
"The noise. The improvisation. The memory.
We understand Nista as a movement from
art to sound and back again. We are creating
a network of different cultural perspectives, a
hybrid space for experiment - a kind of Utopia.
Sound is our main form of expression. It also
includes noise, cliches, text, drawings, videos,
language and non-language. There is curiosity
in compositions that have no conventional
methods. The performance is very important.
We understand it as a living sculpture or
drawing of multimedia. We are staging our
fragility as we choose not to draw a line of
conventional experience or representation
on stage. We do not offer comfort in a thread
of rhythm. We offer contrast. We are an array
of thoughts all at once. We attack. We stop.
We are indecisive. We continue.
"We wanted to fill an unfilled gap by
making music that didn't exist. A form we
wanted to hear. It is a music that would include
"We want to col late our collective feelings,
experiences, fears, and knowledge and
materialise it into Nista, translate it into art
or sound or performance or whatever we
may come up with in the future.
"We have much to share and exchange as
we all live in different cities all over the world.
We only come together once a year, for a very
intense period of time. It is like a textured
family, where we create for ourselves a space
abroad from our everyday experience. It is a
wayto lookatourown lives, to inject contrast,
to generate an alternative perspective. We
need each other very much. Even though
we have frequent disagreements, we respect
difference and tolerance. You wouldn't believe
how much we theorise... people around us run
away and think we are spoilt, crazy, depressed
feminists. Ha ha!"
This music is marvellous. Full stop.
"Our Utopia is a place where we can
project a collective identity and ways of being
we cannot realise in the world we are living,
because of the materialistic pressures. It
'Utopia is shining everywhere. It is
wonderland and freedom - a land
where you can swim in tomato juice'
This music is marvellous: experimental but
never intimidating. Confrontational and
compulsive, sure, but it has soul and a totally
female sensibility. One of Nista NijeNista wears
a fur tail on the cover of 4 Wolves Attack - "It's
a trophy from a fight she had," they explain,
solemnly. The sax is entirely to the fore, but
there's also an air pump, a wardrobe, coat
hangers, a washing machine, a jackpot
machine for kids, water bottles, an iron shelf
and a baby phone. "Education isn't commodity
on shelf like perfume, " they cha nt. "The music
wants to answer!" What can these brave
women's motivation for creating such exacting,
stimulating, organic music be? Communication,
expression, depression, excitement...?
"Communication, expression, depression,
excitement, improvisation. The main point for
us to make music is to canalise content, which
we have saved in our brain and which is not
possible to explain in words or pictures alone.
We go to another level to deconstruct and
reform it into music. The ears are our tools.
around the clock curious artist-and not a
functional machine. It is a kind of dream where
everything is possible without rules and
restrictions. It enables us to bean intuitive
human with feelings and with faults. Utopia
is shining everywhere, you just have to prove
if the door is open or not... It is wonderland
and freedom -a land where you can swim in
What other musicians/activists/artists do you
look to for inspiration?
"The neighbour who scrapes the road with
his iron broom every morning."
What do you despise about life and music?
"In music, we despise the industry. The
mainstream industry feeds the people with
junk. This junk nature, it is so influential that
we sometimes feel paralysed. It capitalises on
the laziness of human nature to comfort with
easy patterns and volume."
Where do you hear harmonies?
"We make no difference between clashing
sound or harmony - it depends on the
adequate situation of the day."
plan b | 53
There's a new movement in town, antifolk(UK). It's drunken, belligerent, raucous, sensitive and
spontaneous. It eschews folk and anti-folk (US) orthodoxy to strike out into uncharted territory.
Confused? Let Plan B be your guide. . .
Words: Everett True
Illustration: Thom Dowse
Photography: Kat Green, Toby Amies
Polaroid photography: Everett True, Cat Stevens, mertle
There's a new movement in town.
It's British, predominately. Wouldn't translate
to the States or Europe, let alone any of those
countries where they object to the cultural
hegemony of a bunch of rich white corpulent
complacent war-mongering tastemakers. It's too
rooted in the humour of British culture: the ways
it is and isn't acceptable to express (male, mostly)
feelings within that culture. It exists at that weird
crossover point where laddish working-class male
humour meets downwardly-mobile middle-class
banter: it's not above taking potshots at itself (it
frequently does) and it's pissed off and alienated by
the prevalent mainstream, both at its reliance upon
A/MF-sanctioned guitar bands that ceased to have
any resemblance to being a tool of the revolution
around about 1 982, and its fondness for pumped-
54 1 plan b
up elongated talent shows where the ability to bully
someone in a less fortunate situation than yourself
is seen as a plus.
Antifolk (UK) should not be confused with its
far more refined, stylised and effete American and
Continental counterpart, anti-folk, which is basically
people who are folk singers by any other name (with
a smidgeon of punk attitude thrown in, whatever
the helll that is meant to be in 2007) singing with
acoustic guitars and some melody. Antifolk may well
have been inspired by its New York counterpart, but
it sure ain't about Jeffrey Lewis and Herman Dune.
Sure, it's a relation... the sort of relation you talk
about in soft murmurs and scandalised whispers
at weddings when your mother's back is turned.
"Antifolk is basically folk music," explains
Brighton promoter Larry Pickleman, "people on the
underground level doing their thing - contemporary
storytelling. Not with acoustic guitars. I've been
an independent artist back as far as I can go, and
there's no restriction on what I can do. In Ireland,
where I grew up, I was surrounded by all this fucking
fiddle-dee-dee when I was a kid, and all the songs
I sang were either football songs, or 'kill Catholics'
songs, sectarian songs with a good fucking beat.
Antifolk is about writing songs without worrying
about hit records, just being honest."
Antifolk (UK) is quite a small movement. The
scene mostly exists in a couple of places - a few
squats and open mic nights in London, the West
End's minuscule 12 Bar Club (promoted by prime
movers Filthy Pedro, David Cronenberg's Wife and
JJ Crash), where inebriates... I mean initiates... are
encouraged to get upon stage and swear at every
opportunity; and in Brighton, where Pickleman's
Sunday Sermons held sway during 2006.
"When we did stuff in Belfast," Pickleman
continues, "the way you got a gig was put a gig
on, set yourself a deadline. But [By the end of 2006]
because I was putting on so many acts, I wasn't
playing any gigs myself. It stopped being what it
was about, so I bailed out. Most acts on MySpace
remind of when I went to art college in Wales -all
these well-brought up kids, totally devoid of passion
or integrity. Even though I get the odd lame duck
sometimes, the people I try to book are little cunts,
totally not masters of what they do - it's that lo-f i
DIY thing all over again."
In the Plan B offices, they've taken to calling this
music Truecore'-this belligerent, unpredictable,
individual sound played with little regard for niceties
or musical merit. Truecore, in honour for my own
fondness for clambering upon stage and winding
folk up -although if that was the only point for
getting up there, it would get tired pretty quick.
I'm touched by the epithet, but not sure it's
appropriate. There aren't enough women involved.
(Notable exceptions include Eleanor from the Bobby
McGees, and the totally charming nursery songs
of Larry Pickleman's wife mertle.) There's too
much alcohol consumption - and though I don't
disapprove, it's not where I'm at these days. Also, it
seems, the quieter you play, the more likely you are
to be overlooked. And, despite antifolk's calls for an
end to convention, there's still an alarming tendency
among its practitioners to fall back upon an acoustic
guitar and a droll, slightly deprecating tale.
Still, there is a willingness among some of
the purveyors of antifolk (notably Bobby McGees,
Pickleman and Spinmaster Plantpot) to put
themselves on the line, to eschew the tired baggage
of rock'n'roll, to place the personality first -and
of that, I heartily approve. In proportion. Everything
in proportion. Also, by the very act of getting up on
stage with little extra adornment (instruments, band
members) the antifolk lot are leaving more room for
spontaneity, and hell yeah. I'm up for that.
"It's about grabbing whatever's at hand,"
explains Tom Mayne, mainstay of David
Cronenberg'sWife. "Filthy Pedro now has Tim in
his band, he plays the violin and squeezebox... Look
Look Dancing Boys have their drumbeat, Larry has
his sampler, I'm mainly electric... SgtBuzfuz have
a dulcimer. And you just grab whoever's available. "
plan b | 55
'Antifolk is more self-
loathing than narcissistic'
- Spinmaster Plantpot
what punk was to rock, " quoth Lach (whose genial,
urn, folksy sound has long since become part of the
"Last time I had Paul Hawkins down in Brighton
I introduced him as spas rock," Picklemansays. "He
wasn't so sure about that. I was like, 'Paul that's
what you are, this freaky, tall, sixth former singing
these really passionate songs'. He'll come through
Truecore - oh, alright then - antifolk (UK) started
a couple of years ago, when Tom, in tandem with
Filthy Pedro, decided he'd had enough of not being
able to gig regularly simply cos he didn't fit in with
an established scene. So they called themselves
antifolk, after the NYC anti-folksters. It was a handy
appellation. It wasn't meant to refer particularly to
a sound or musical instrument, more an attitude:
immediately it started, you could draw parallels
between the nasty tales of David Cronenberg's Wife
and DIY counter-culture, while mandolin-toting
Scots duo Bobby McGees draw their inspiration
unashamedly from the twee post-C86 scene.
Most credit Sgt Buzfuz's Blang club at the 1 2
Bar as being the original place to hang out, but the
good Sgt was reluctant to typecast his nights; so
Pedro and DCW started promoting regular antifolk
'The people I try to book are little
cunts, totally not masters of what
they do' - Larry Pickleman
festivals, with their collections of chancers, dancers,
drunks and the insane.
Open mic nights are a big part of antifolk: it's
where many of its participants first got upon stage.
There's in informal MC present, and anybody who
wants can take a turn at the mic: like karaoke
without the annoyance of having to stay in tune.
"There'll be drunk and homeless people walking
around, " states Tom. "Then a rapper will get up,
somebody will bring a mummy onstage, someone'll
do a poem . . . it's that kinda craziness. "
Pedro set up the www.antifolk.co.uk site - not
be confused with Pickleman's www.antifolk.org -
and the scene was underway. But already factions
were springing up...
"London, Brighton and New York are three
entirely different scenes," states Pickleman. "There
are crossover points- like Plantpot and Milk Kan.
We'll invite David Cronenberg's Wife and Pedro
down, but it's more like... I did a little spoof thing
on the antifolk website about Buzf uz being Happy
Slapped and they all got upset, and one of them
deleted my name from antifolk on Wikipedia.
People take themselves so seriously. But Jimmy
[Bobby McGees] and I, he's Glasgow culture and
I'm Irish culture - calling someone a fuckwit is the
same as someone from London saying, 'Hi darling'."
The reason why I want to differentiate between
'antifolk' and 'anti-folk' is because the latter term
implies knowledge of folk music - as its originator,
songwriter Lach will tell you. He shouted the phrase
in frustration at some Greenwich Village folkies in
1982, "If this is folk, then I am anti-folk". Y'see,
anti-folk (US) isn't a movement against folk, but
an intensification of the form. "Anti-folk is to folk
it. Winston Echo played the same night as you:
wicked show, he really brought the audience to him.
He's had us up to Northampton to play, him and
The Retro Spankees. . . people were saying they're
not antifolk, but what does that name mean - it's
a little scene collective, a website, you can run with
it a bit, but ultimately it doesn't mean shit.
"Traditionally, people outside London hate
London, and Londoners are so unashamed at
bigging themselves up, and people from up North
are a little more humble. But that's the whole point
of folk and antifolk, that it's regional. "
Antifolk's participants don't, musically, seem to
have much in common with one another: beyond
a propensity to get up on stage and yell and swear
and drink and maybe sing or use some form of
rudimentary electronic backing -whatever it takes
to make an impression.
"mertle met Jimmy first at a Schwervon gig
at The Hobgoblin," recalls Pickleman. "She went
down to check the Bobby McGees out, got on with
them, and that was it. Scrappy [Milk Kan singer]
got banned from The Hobgoblin, that was the first
antifolk night we did -the little sound guy there was
a twat, he was leaning down and Jimmy knocked
a pint of beer over him. I can't exactly remember
what happened with Scrappy, but back then he was
a total pisshead. I was OK. When you're a promoter
they let you away with murder. If it was Belfast,
they'd have kicked the fuck out of me but the
charm seems to work better over here. "
Sure, I have sympathy with these people -
Winston Echo with his bittersweet, quirky, post-
Daniel Johnston tales of loneliness and hope,
humourist Adrian Teenbeat,
the much-touted Sixties sex-
rock of John and Jehn, Irish
talisman Jinx Lennon with
his quick-fire verbal sorties. . .
"Jinx is one of those
guys," smiles Tom Mayne,
"He's kinda mysterious,
in that he's got some great videos on YouTube,
professionally well made, and he's made two
albums- how's he managed to do that? He doesn't
have much money; furthermore, he's unknown.
I don't see him in magazines, I don't hear him on
the radio, he lives in a border town between Ireland
and Northern Ireland. ..If you wantan example of
antifolk, there's one. He plays 20 songs in half an
hour- he puts so much effort into it, no matter
how many people have turned up."
There's diminutive blagger Spinmaster Plantpot
(office manager at the Houses of Parliament: now
carving out an alternative career as TV's resident
mouthy short-arse), former Country Teasers The
Rebel, fast-paced rapper Stuart James, Lucy Joplin
with her size zero, degenerately honest acoustic
songs, the perverse word-play of Filthy Pedro - even
my cherished Stolen Recordings bands (notably
Matthew Sawyer And The Ghosts) have been
affiliated with antifolk. . .
And then there's Milk Kan.
"Scrappy [Milk Kan singer] wants to attract as
much attention to his music as possible, " suggests
Mayne, "but he still plays the antifolk festival for
nearly no money. He was one of the first to be
involved, but his songs really lend themselves to
radio play. I remember seeing Kate Nash months
ago, playing a show at the Betsey Trotwood to 10
people. Now, she's on every billboard... but the
songs of Milk Kan and Thee Intolerable Kidd are far
stronger, so why aren't they on every billboard?"
There's a great compilation antifolk album, released
this month, available from the website. It's called
AFUK& I (Vol 1): Up TheAntil, it features pretty
much all the above artists and more, and I'd
recommend you track it down. There's a great
good time waiting to be had.
Has antifolk attracted much media attention?
"No, not really," laughs Spinmaster Plantpot.
Why is that?
" It doesn't fit in to the aesthetic of what's
considered cool," Plantpot replies. "Everyone's
wearing Vans and skinny jeans and looking
emaciated - that skinny white boy look. Antifolk is
nothing like that. It's more of a fat white boy look.
The current music scene is a little bit narcissistic.
Antifolk is more self-loathing than narcissistic."
56 | plan b
antif oik (uk)
Sure, they're antif oik. They play mandolins, act deprecating -
their catchiest songs are all about how they've got no friends,
not one - but can sometimes be surprisingly belligerent on
stage. The face-paint is worrying, too. Jimmy has a thick
Glaswegian accent and can 'tsing, so he growls out his twee-
as-fuck words as a wonderful beardy counterpart to Eleanor's
butter-wouldn't-melt rejoinders. They're contrived as all hell,
but for some reason itdoesn 't matter; it's a joy to have them
around. They released an insanely catchy six-track EP on
Cherryade last year that entirely failed to set the charts
alight, and in their spare time organise poetry brothels.
'We discovered antifolk
in '74. About nine years
before it hit New York'
When did you get involved with antifolk?
Jimmy: "We discovered it in 1 974. About nine years
before it hit New York. And 1 years before Eleanor was born.
We invented the bedroom western in 1 986, when I was 1 5
and Eleanor was six. We found a broken ukulele and wrote
some songs that Johnny Marr later adapted and used on the
final Smiths albums."
Eleanor: "We got an anti-folk compilation CD with all
these New York artists on, and we were sort of. . . [gasps].
This was before there were any gigs in the UK that called
Jimmy: "You know how it is with London. When London
does something different it claims it was the first to do it.
But we knew about antifolk up in Leicester [where Bobby
McGees formed] long before those cunts. The London scene
is a lot more, for want of a better word, mainstream."
Stuart James claims that everyone involved in
antifolk works in the public sector.
Eleanor: "That's not quite true, but a lot of them have
got really quite high-powered jobs -like Tom from David
Cronenberg's Wife. He investigates corruption in high places.
I think he's a spy. A Russian from Oxford. He's lovely as well."
Is there a Brighton scene?
Jimmy: "There's a big folk scene in Brighton but it's crap.
It's all rubbish. Very talented musicians, though. But there's
a lad called Dylan that does a night called Simple Folk, and
he's. . . have you ever seen the Hotel Pelirocco in front of the
old pier, with all its different themed rooms? There's a space
room and a cowboy room. And he uses that nasty little space
to record his shows - the Fence collective, Americans like
Kimya Dawson . . . He's a nice kid. He works in the cocktail bar
and instead of paying the bands he gets them a room in the
hotel for the night."
Any favourite bands?
Jimmy: "Have you heard The Duloks? They're just three
mad girls, sitting around in sports top and running pants. . .
they're mental. Try and see them live -they're like an electro
Bobby McGees. Almost."
David Cronenberg's Wife
Antifolk? David Cronenberg'sWife sound like a mid-Eighties
independent band -sarcastic, sardonic and articulate, with
dark Gothic undertones, a little bit shambling, some David
Lynch surf guitar. ..but that's to the good, you know?
Sure, they use minimal percussion and the focus is on the
songwriting, but. I guess it all depends on how you define
yourself, andasDCWs affable songwriter Tom Mayne puts
it, "Antifolk embraces me with its dirty, deformed hands. Not
having the full quota of fingers myself means that we're like
kindred spirits. " Tom is one ofantifolk's prime movers - and
he also boasts the scene's most disturbing love song, hands
down, written from the perspective of a paedophile. . .
How did you get involved with antifolk?
" I moved to London from Manchester, and met Filthy
Pedro at a gig. He said we should do a show and I said, 'How
do you do one, I know nothing about it!' He had a contact at
the Buffalo Bar who let us have a Sunday. The opening night
Purple Organ [ex- Dufus] played at about midnight. And then
we moved to the 12 Bar. What started with two or three
bands that could be classed as antifolk has become. . . I mean,
we've got a CD now!"
" It seemed to be the closest thing to me that I liked. You
see so many bands in random places who are just awful, so
clean - when anybody comes up on stage who is nervous,
a little bit different. . . it's something I don't see often. There
weren't many places where this type of person could come
and play, so we thought we'd redress the balance a little.
'Antifolk is from the
" For example, Stuart James is not the kind of guy who's
going to say to a promoter, 'Check out my band, we're
amazing! ' But he's a voice who deserves to be heard. Me
and Filthy Pedro started our bands so we could meet people
of the same persuasion -anything unusual, bizarre, leftfield.
Then the Bobby McGees and Larry in Brighton started doing
the same kind of thing down there and. . .urn. . .it's good
to have those guys on the album. It shows that it's not just
a London thing."
How would you define antifolk?
" I never like to talk about it in terms of sound - it's like
saying that punk needs to be one electric guitar, distorted.
The element of community is important, the idea of people
doing something which is spontaneous, from the heart, very
immediate, slightly humorous sometimes. Away from all
these haircuts or the way a band looks. There's such a wide
range of people in antifolk -Stuart James, Timothy Tomlinson,
Milk Kan, who're geezers, Larry who's a law to himself -
all these incredibly different personalities. We're grouped
together by this individuality of purpose."
Jinx Lennon is like antifolk's talisman - despite the fact
is Irish, lives in Ireland, has fuck all to do with either the
folk traditionalism of Woody Guthrie or the anti-folk
traditionalism of Lach, and sings quite scaryl OOmph electric
guitar-led songs about the folly of telling someone that their
head is fucked up when your own head is even more fucked
up, and guitars as magic wands. He sports shades. He spits
bile and absurdist humour in equal proportions. He makes
me break out in smiles like hives.
Why did you start playing music?
" I loved storyteller songs when I was a kid. My uncles
had loads of Irish folk like The Dubliners and Wolfe Tones.
Later, I used to play made-up tuning guitars and overdub
with two tape machines in the early Eighties with a cousin
but we would have been mortified having to play live, and
then I was inspired by the strange DIY tape scenes where
heads would sell their music on cassette in runs of 50 or 1 00.
The catalyst for taking the plunge into live music was hearing
about JesusAnd Mary Chain in late '84 — the feedback thing
over two or three VU type chord changes made playing live
far more realistic. I loved the way they economised the whole
Neubauten/SPK stage terrorism thing into a fuzz pedal.
"My home town was full of budding Eric Claptons and
neo Brothers In Arms-type sounding outfits and the burst of
foul-smelling wind from a feedbacking amp seemed like a
just exorcism to exterminate the plush electric blue sheen."
Where does your name come from?
"There was a class bully named Jimmy who I called Jimmy
the Jinx, but somehow the name rebounded on me. I hated
the name cos stories would be made up about me making
people fall off bicycles by looking at them. In the end I used
it as a talisman, like the phoenix rising from the ashes."
How did you hook up with antifolk?
"Myself and my stage partner, the fantastic Miss Paula
Flynn, did a couple of Irish tours with Hamell On Trial. Hamell
told me to hook up with other antifolk heads so I went on the
net and found Larry Pickleman and Filthy Pedro. Larry got me
involved in the antifolkfestivals in Brighton, and Joe Murphy
from Buzfuz and Tom from David Cronenberg'sWife and JJ
Crash got me involved in the London shows. I got some of the
artists over to do some gigs in Dundalk and Dublin.There's
a nice support system going on with the UK people. "
What motivates your music?
"Just trying to clear the crud in my head and dealing
with the disturbing things I see around me. I've felt so alone
sometimes, going to live shows and seeing some awful
singer-songwriter, so I like to give my performances a Baptist
preacher edge. I want to inspire and uplift people."
'I like to give my
performances a Baptist
plan b | 57
mertle writes simple songs about everyday objects and
situations. 'Splish Splash Splosh ' is a joyful paean to her
washing machine, and 'Down AtThe Zoo' is painfully sad.
There's rudimentary electronica in places, possibly courtesy
of bubble Larry Pickleman, possibly not -and her adorable
'My Bike' is, by some distance, the most charming moment
on the antifolk comp. "I ride my bike/Wherever I go," she
trills. "I pass the butchers/And spit on the window. "Her
Bored Housewife CR-r album is ace. She's even better live.
What made you want to start singing?
"I'm mad on all the old musicals. I used to watch them
with my dad. I wanted to be singing and dancing about with
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, so I guess they're to blame."
You know who Kate Nash is. This year's Lily Allen, engaging,
charming. . . maybe a little too aimed at the 'tweenagers.
'Foundations' is cool, though: and you can certainly hear
traces of UK antifolk in hermockney accent and acoustic.
Talk us through the antifolk connection, please.
"I did an antifolk festival. We went to this We Are
Amateurs night in Brighton at a tiny venue - that's where
I met Peggy Sue And The Pirates [Kate's live support act]."
Who are your favourite antifolk (UK) artists?
"I don't really know what antifolk means over here -
the nights I've seen are all amateur stuff. My favourite UK
artists are Stuart James, and that old Scots bloke and his
girlfriend who get dressed up in face paint."
"Yeah, that's them."
He's my main man. Promoter, provocateur, artist, activist,
vegan, musician, father to three kids, from the bad part of
Belfast. . . intimidating, hilarious, straight-talking, drunken. . .
sweet, sensitive, smart. . . caused a minor furore at antifolk
(London) HQ when he insisted they used his confrontational,
yet chirpy 'All Blacks Are Bastards' rant on the compilation
album, and they refused to print the title. Lives in Brighton,
and is the reason why that city now lays equal claim to the
antifolk (UK) crown. Plays full-on jaunty, anti-capitalist
numbers like 'Go To School' and 'Midget Stick-Up' - imagine
the Oompa Loompas playing Whitehouse. Really.
'What I do isn't
particularly great, but
the shit other people
do is fucking awful'
Tell me how you got involved with the antifolk scene.
"I'd been making music for my cartoons for ages, and
me and mertle [Larry's wife] had recorded some songs
together, but new year's, 2004, we thought 'Fuck it, we'll
perform live'. Apricorn Quartet had been in touch with mertle
via luma [an early version of MySpace] to play an antifolk
show in London, so I checked out the bands. Milk Kan and
Bobby McGees were the only ones we could relate to, so
we invited them and Filthy Pedro down to Brighton, and had
a good laugh.
"When we started putting on the antifolk gigs, we got all
these people in touch with us, but it was bad American-style
stuff. All these people said they were antifolk, all this acoustic
guitar, me me me me. Bollocks to that. It's a convenient term.
Essentially, it's DIY with huge gaping gaps."
What's the motivation behind your music?
" I think of myself more of an artist than a musician, so it's
like -when I first lost the plot I was 2 1 in Belfast, doing loads
and loads of acid. The hardcore scene was big, and my best
mate, who had a real bad drink and drug problem, kept
fucking up every gig we did. I went fucking mad for a bit and
ran back to my ma's house and locked myself in the attic. I'd
listen to that Lou Reed album Songs For Drella, and it had
this one song, 'The most important thing is work'- and ever
since then, doing creative stuff is the only thing that stops
me from. ..fucking hell.
"You've got to rip stuff out and put it on paper- it's
the ego, a mortal fucking thing. I don't think what I do is
particularly fucking great, but the shit that other people do
and put out everywhere is fucking awful."
What was all that fuss over the compilation?
"It's one of these audience-splitting things -that song's
done me more damage than good, but still, it's there. In
Northern Ireland they used to call the police the blacks.The
skinheads had tattoos on their knuckles, ABAB -that's where
it came from. I'm not into compilation albums much, anyway."
I meet Scrappy from Milk Kan outside a pub in New Oxford St.
He's looking bedraggled: woke up that morning on Clapham
Common, clutching his guitar. Get to talking -plays me
a couple of his songs, kinda like Kate Nash, only rude and
belligerent, and with far better rhyming skills, and not averse
to trying to cash in on Dolly Parton 's name and shit-talking
about drugs. . . urn, not much like Ms Nash at all, then.
Scrappy's a diamond in the rough. Don 't understand why
he isn 't massive. Whereas many of my other favourite antifolk
performers aren 't ever going appeal to anyone beyond me and
a handful of similar losers, Milk Kan have total commercial
potential. I've been grooving on Scrappy's tunes for a while
- Milk Kan 's debut single, 2006 's 'Bling Bling Baby' is wide
boy genius, like Mike Skinner given a Cockney makeover.
Tell me about Milk Kan.
" It all started on the night bus. . .getting home, playing
songs, wanting to say something. It was just me and Jim
[Jimmy Blade] at the beginning- ramshackle boys playing
songs on guitars. And it kept growing. We were into tons of
different stuff. I was collecting old school hip hop, Lonnie
Donegan, Ian Dury, acid techno. . . I knew exactly what
I wanted to do, but didn't know when I was going to do it.
Out involvement with antifolk came from being in New York
- we were at a mate's birthday party, and we'd brought along
our CDs, and there was this antifolk thing going on. So I asked
them if they knew of any open micsbackin London..."
Would you define yourself as an antifolk artist?
"I don't claim to be anything. I don't feel I've got the right
'I don't know how long
something can last
before it gets spoiled'
to. Antifolk was a natural step forward - it was something
that happened through meeting friends. Whether that means
I am something or I'm not, I don't know. It's like anything.
There are people you get on with, people you don't."
Do you think antifolk is reaching its peak?
"Yeah, it's weird now that it's growing bigger. I don't
know how long something can last before it gets spoiled. It
already feels a bit . . . I dunno . . .a lot of people almost try and
jump on it. Who plays God in the world of antifolk to say this
is it? Who decides? The British side is definitely different to
the American side. The American side was already ruined
when we got out there.There were a few good ones ... but
there was maybe 70 per cent, singing the same old bullshit.
Back in the UK, everyone is edgy, fighting for it. Everything's
new. . .there again maybe I'm biased because I'm British.
"But I don't wanna get into the politics of antifolk- it's
a cool scene. It's been wicked watching it grow. I remember
when there were just four names on that antifolk website
and now there are loads. The nights are brilliant, sell out all
the time. I hope it doesn't get spoilt, go the other way. . . "
58 1 plan b
antif oik (uk)
Spinmaster was my introduction to antifolk: on reflection, he
gave me a very skewed perspective on what it was all about.
His songs are mental: incomprehensible blasts of a cappella
noise, insults and gratuitous rudeness hurled out at iOOmph,
immediate reactions to immediate situations, the odd welter
of electronica and crowd banter to back up the verbals. . .
Man, I love it. Didn 't notice his diminutive stature, even
though it clearly fuels some of his bile; didn 't notice anything
except a full-throttle, shake-it-till-it-tilts personality:
clambering on stage unadorned with anything except
a few scraps of paper, the odd pint and unswerving belief
that people should SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LISTEN. In
fact, in many respects, Spinmaster is the anti-antifolkster,
1 00 per cent spontaneous and eschewing the scene's most
humble of props, the guitar.
Tell us a story.
" I started doing improvisation on tapes in 2003. I'd make
these tape comps for friends, get a mic and do weird stuff
between the songs. I did a 90-minute improvisational tape
by myself, Sgt Buzfuz heard it, and offered me a gig at Blang.
It all came from there."
How would you define an antifolk performer?
" It's the people that don't fit into other scenes, people
with a bit of a punky attitude, the mavericks. It's honest
music. It's not contrived. It's 'take me as you see me'. People
just express themselves how they want. I do it for the outpour
of emotions; apathy, anger and to be a show-off. I like the fact
I'm a lot different, as well."
It seems that one of the ways antifolk (UK) differs
from antifolk (US) is that it's more personality-driven.
"That's probably true.There's a bit of a shock element,
people trying to outdo each other. It's funny and sensitive, but
it's also got that rock'n'roll element.The most antifolk person
I've seen is Timothy Tomlinson who actually does folk but in
a hilarious way. Musically, he's a genius - he can play so
many things, but he's also very self-deprecating. The verbals
between the songs are absolutely side-splitting.
"The British scene is contrived, in that people actually
said they were going to mirror what's going on in New York.
The American scene evolved more naturally, but it's more
troubadour-based. Attitude-wise, we've both got that punky
DIY, get off your arse, make it happen attitude."
Tell me about some of your antifolk favourites.
"I really like Larry Pickleman, Milk Kan are fucking
amazing cos they're so messy, a female singer called Poppy
who has an a cappella tune called 'Thinking And Wondering',
and a band called LittleThings. I've always been a fan of
people who can combine melody and aggression."
'Antifolk is honest
music. It's "take me
as you see me"'
Here's where this antifolk definition starts becoming
problematic. Stuart James is not what I'd call 'antifolk' by
any stretch -he's super-focused, meticulous, and raps in a
monotone over a sparse acoustic guitar with incredible speed
and flair, like an English (Leicester, originally) Jeffrey Lewis
grown up on Nas andDizzee Rascal, whom he covers, but
shed of any Greenwich Village inclinations whatsoever. OK,
Jeffrey is pure anti-folk, butdamn, thisboyain't. Butdamn,
this boy's incredible - commercial, too. But he aligns himself
with antifolk, so fair enough. . .
What made you first want to sing. . .well, it's not
actually 'singing', is it?
"No, it's not. It's tonal so I'm not talking, but it's not
MC-ing either. It's more bad singing. I had the sound
conceptualised a long time before I put it together. It's
really, really hard work.There's nothing natural about it
at all. It's proper graft."
I'm surprised you align yourself with antifolk -
you seem to be the opposite of what they're about:
not spontaneous or ramshackle at all.
" It's because when I started making music again, I didn't
have an idea what was going on. I was doing something I'd
made up entirely by myself, but didn't knowwhatto call it.
I thought of Outsider Music, but that's too outside. Antifolk
had been kicking about for ages -and then I met Monster
Bobby [promoter of Brighton's DIY club, Totally Bored], and
played one of his shows.That was November 2005. Before
that, I'd been doing open mics."
'I was doing something
I'd made up entirely by
myself, but didn't know
what to call it'
What links these disparate characters together?
" It's unusual not to work in the public sector nowadays,
have you picked upon that? Pickleman doesn't, but I can't
think of many others. Jimmy from Bobby McGees used to be
a teacher. It also helps if you've got a disability. . . "
Who or what inspires your music?
"Three things. Leonard Cohen's first album where he
spaced out the rhythms with words - and if you play it at 45
it starts to sound totally musical. There's Nas' first album. . .
there are several parallels between the two records. Both are
very poetic; dark, rambling, and with beautiful urban imagery,
line after line. And I read a poem by an obscure female poet
which was all blocks of text, no punctuation. It was great."
I tell you who you remind me of- '78 London punk
poet Patrik Fitzgerald. It must be the enunciation.
"Yeah? Is he fast -as fast as me?"
No, not as fast as you.
"That's alrightthen.That's all that worries me, man."
He's charming and shy on stage, blushing beetroot red as he
asks the audience to, "Shut the fuck up. . .please. "He sings
gentle, post-Half-Japanese songs about vampire tea parties
and girls at the foreign exchange desk, and the way birds
float so beautifully in the air. He draws, strange unfocused
scribbling, scratchy and nervous like his onstage persona.
I'm very taken with Northampton 's Mr Winston Echo.
What or who made you want to start performing?
"I've always felt at home on stage in front of people. I like
to make people smile, and my uneasy mixture of nervousness
'It's easy to get
you're getting applause
and bravado comes across as quite charming on occasion."
How did you hook up with the antifolk crew?
"Some friends recommended that I listen to the Bobby
McGees, back before they were famous and dressed like
sick clowns and let their egos get out of hand, and I did and
thought they were charming. Then I saw there was a summer
weekend being organised in Brighton by a chap named Larry
Pickleman, so I sent him a CD. It was a pretty fun weekend."
Please describe Larry Pickleman.
"He cannot burp. He has a lovely family and is a nice
guy despite the fact he'd love to be seen as a ridiculous
pantomime villain. When he's drunk he can be scary and
lose things in taxis."
Can you have a stab at defining antifolk (UK)?
"UK antifolk is very insular, which can be both lovely
and very depressing. It's great to be able to play shows
with people who are supportive, but it's also easy to get
complacentwhen you're getting applause regardless. I feel
that in some ways UK antifolk misses the point and chooses
to embrace everythingwhkh adheres to its quirky, but
traditional, songwriting style, regardless of whether the
ideas are new or interesting."
Does antifolk exist outside London and Brighton?
"I'm not sure it does. Here in Northampton we struggle
to do anything outside of the mainstream, being surrounded
by careerist indie chancers and faceless masturbatory metal
bands, as well as a saturation of trad singer-songwriter types
trotting out sub-Bright Eyes acoustic-emo impersonations.
I think that UK antifolk is really limited to London, and the
half-dozen or so bands happy to label themselves as such."
What motivates your music?
" I just want to be able to write really great pop songs,
without pretension, and make people happy. I hope one
day to have a large band, maybe 1 5 people, with a choir,
all handclaps and joyful singing, out singing my songs
and turning rooms into parties and parties into festivals."
plan b | 59
Words: Matt Evans, Spencer Grady, Frances Morgan, Louis Pattison
David Yow photography: Mei Lewis
There are heavier bands at Supersonic. Ther
are more innovative bands. There are certainly
more subtle bands. But no one else even comes
close to producing a joyousMrresistible arse-
quake quite like Chrome Hoof. Comprising
around 75 silver-clad cosmic cartoo: :
troubadours wielding bassoons, guitar
violins, the Hoof produce a mutant fusion
of fiery big-band disco, doom bludgeon and
hyper-vivid prog. An overload of kinetic energy
and riotously addictive bombast, fronted by
a statuesque high priestess in a huge feather
headdress and flanked by state-of-the-art
pleasure-droid dancers, Chrome Hoof are
by quite some way the most fun thing ever
to happen in Birmingham.
Bythe time the 1 5-foot goat-headed robo-
zombie-thing lumbers onstage to shimmy
absurdly to a crushing chugathon, you can't
help but feel sorry for Mogwai, due to follow
this inspired lunacy on the same stage. How
can they be expected to outdo this metallic
arkestra and its giant demon robots with mere
heart-rending post-rock? Maybe they should
have brought some pyro. (ME)
Pulling late night rabbits out of snares and hi-
hats, Andrew Dymond of Duracell is a one-man
drum magician, a percussive trickster triggering
computer retrospectives with the wave of his
magic wands. The exhausted throng, who'd
foolishly thought they'd had enough of having
their ears eviscerated, gather around the
flailing maelstrom like extreme metal moths
to a visionary flame. Where weary bodies once
stood, aching and crying out for a hot drink
and soft place to rest, spontaneous bouts of
dancing erupt and huge grins appear in places
once home to only grimaces. This stuff is
contagious and as Duracell's arcade machine
montage spirals relentlessly on, in a cross
pollination of Lightning Bolt and the
antiquities of Speak'n'Spell, the assembled
mass are threatened with the proposition
of a full-blown and much needed fun
Pharoah Overlord are of this earth.
Meaning they can be polar, mountainous,
German, Brummagen, Californian and
Scandinavian and are a total fuckin' blast.
Omare not of this earth, often tonight they
make the inconceivable real, and you can hear
all sorts of unimaginable interstellar science
in their two-man supernova - dust accretion
as planetary creation, the swell of red giants,
the density of white dwarfs - 1 thank fuck
I left my drugs at home forthe kids 'cos the
merest whiff of weed tonight and I would've
been pulled under. By the power, sure, by
the volume without out a doubt, but it's the
genuine mystical drive of this music that leaves
tyou shaking and mumbling and occasionally
breaking into glossolalic affirmation - in their
creation of a different universe, in their ability
to plunge you so tJWM ffuq hlv into anothe
dimension wherein tirHabsconds and yc
ink of winking out of existence, they're
uvjIyGods, old-skool Gods, that blot out the
sky and possessyou. Gilgamesh music. (NK)
Must be weird for the other two, Paul
Chr-istensen and Matt Cronk. They're staunchly
pounding drums and guitar, roaring harmonies
-but all eyes are on the small, balding guy out
front, the one who joined their band, who pulls
his grey T-shirt up over his furry belly and spits
on the stage as he paces around, face contorted
omething close to anger butthat's probably
re like disgust, but not even disgust,
got to get it where
I have history with Mogwai. Good history,
mostly. The way they stood as a bridge between
that column-filling confrontation A/MEonce
called 'no sell-out' and a richer experimental
underground that never got the option to
buy in. Good memories, too, like when they
supported the Manics in a leisure centre,
• and the opening jolt of 'Like Herod' sent
" T ':earful refugees fleeing the speakers, and
how Dominic dropped his trousers for a
I climactic buttock salute; irreverent rather
than brave, maybe, butas'fuckyou'sgo,
Lately we've not been close, after they
turned into a sort of post-rock Oasis, all
trackies and sour faces, and manager A|
McGee writing things IN CAPS on MySpa.
But I'm feeling reflective, so for the first
time in years I just stand, and listen. And
actually, wow. For once, the sound is cry:
clear, and 'Hunted By A Freak' sounds
gorgeous, guitars dispersing like dandeliui
clouds, Barry Burns' vocodered vocals reshaped
into an alien trill like the elves of Battles' 'Atlas'
clambering from the womb. Maybe they are
the post-rock Oasis. But importantly, they
come with something of that band's emotional
resonance, the way their music seems to cling
and surf the contours of people's lives.
At one point, Stuart Braithwaite says
something unexpected. "I feel safe", he says.
And I know what he means. That safe car
be underrated. That sometimes, yo 1 "
comes back to hug you. (LP)
something set free from and bored with
disgust, a word I'm edging close to but soon
forget in a mess of feet and elbows: a small,
old-fashioned mosh laid on forthe eternally
ungrateful David Yow and his new pals Qui.
Songs from new Ipecac release Love's
Miracle crunch into life, lifted by volume and
a snarling, loose performance into almost-
danger. The record's got an nice patina of
abject sleaze; but live, songs like the seesawing
hate-fuck swing of 'Today, Gestation' and the
bludgeoning, stomping 'Freeze' take on the
aura of a Beefheartian metal bacchanal.
It's an austere, mean bacchanal for sure,
but sometimes you got to get it where you
can, and I am fucking getting it right now,
getting the nothing at the core of every scream,
skronk and off-kilter rumble. Gasping for
breath, Yow asks if anyone has his passport.
He gave it away the night before. He doesn't
remember to whom. It's hard to care, because
this is music for the absence of care, the
sound of care that's eroded and ulcerous,
but I was glad hear a few days later that he'd
sorted something out with the American
60 1 plan b
— r- - * *
4" — - <1
"H j™^He^— ? ■-. M
-it - x ^ •
frankenstein love couch talking about their lives, and everything is one's greeted with more and more hoots and
Words 1 Emily Bick sort of gentle, because it's relaxed, even when cheers, and one guy who must have lost his
Photography: Owen Richards it; ' s P issed off • voice f rom shouting 'King Kong' so many times.
Opener Sparky Deathcap wears a hoodie with Johnston doesn't play it, but he does play other
Daniel Johnston felt animal ears sewn to the hood, and twists favourites, like a rocking stamper version of
The Windmill, Brixton proggy guitar loops against the sound of himself 'Walking The Cow'. Johnston has an amazing
The Windmill is the perfect venue for Daniel whistling a lovely dawn chorus. Jeremy Warmsley Texan twang that twists from joy to confusion to
Johnston. No, really. It's tiny for an artist of his follows with some Momus-y anguished threats anger in one strangled phrase. He sings of hate
scale and fanbase, and the rails outside are full of to the new boyfriend of an unrequited love as he without sounding hateful. Sometimes he sings like
people begging for tickets an hour before anyone , . ■ ... . a muppet that's confused by newfound genitalia,
comes near the stage. But it's a friendly place, H© SlflCJS IIK6 d IllUppGX He's no holy innocent, just more unafraid to admit
and the painted rainbow swirls on the walls tliat'c fflnfucpd hv to feeling even the awkward things that aren't the
evoke Johnston's paintings. Midi SlUIIIUSCU Uy most flattering. He's safe with such a great band
This gig should really have been called Daniel 116 Wf OUIld CIGIlitdlicI behind him -there's about 10 people playing
Johnston and friends. For the entire European tour, guitar and banjo and everything else, all crammed
Johnston has played with his old school friend Brett attacks his keyboard. None of this is as stagey as against the soundproof-foamed stage wall.
Hartenbach for the first few songs, and then he's it sounds -somehow it skips over affectation and And there's some fine songs. "I love England
got a bunch of musicians from the supporting goes straight to charming. Jake Bellows shuffles on and I love The Beatles! " Johnston whoops before
bands to join him on stage at the end. All three of with the look and sound of a latter-day lo-f i Flying he and his band swoops into the exuberant gallop
the opening acts are the kinds of men that play Burrito Brothers. It's just dudes hanging out, until of T Want To Be Like The Beatles', and a few
thoughtful, sensitive music without being at all Daniel Johnston emerges from the beer garden out couples, including one man and his heavily
'sensitive' in the yucky sense, and they all seem back where he's been chain-smoking, and takes pregnant wife, start waltzing by the bar. It really
comfortable with each other. It feels like the kind the stage. feels like a picnic with your friends and family,
of guy friendship I've seen at punk houses where a He's on form. In the past, Johnston has been Where the eccentric uncle that everyone always
bunch of people come over with their instruments notorious for playing, urn, abbreviated sets, but loves is the star of the show. Where everyone's
to rock out and then get bored and all sit on the this time he plays for a full 1 5 songs, and each got your back.
Bella Union 10th Anniversary
Royal Festival Hall, London
Bella Union is 1 years old. Cocteau Twins'
Simon Raymonde has dedicated the past
decade to fulfilling the original brief of
parent label 4AD providing diverse music
of an otherworldly quality. Beach House
specialise in woozy boy-girl harmonies,
lovely oldWurlitzer organ and hazy sunshine
pop, catching the spirit of the Sixties without
the surfing cliches. My Latest Novel are
strident and Scottish, literary marching music
with whiffs of Celtic folk around the violin
flourishes, and Fionn Regan comes off like
a less bonkers Donovan. But it's Howling
Bells who sparkle like the jewel in the crown
of the Bella empire. Juanita Stein, a tiny
woman tottering on outsize heels, spins
a web of magical realism with a guitar and
a voice like crushed velvet and Pinot Noir.
Howling Bells create another world,
melding the outback gothic of Nick Cave
with the mysterious atmospherics and
sunbaked psychedelia of Opal, inviting you
in for intoxicating draughts and smouldering
glances from dangerous women.
Holly Golightly And The
The 100 Club, London
The 100 Club fairly reeks of musical heritage,
crammed with oh-so Soho atmosphere of
little tables and portraits of jazz legends
beaming suavely down from the red-painted
walls, making for a slightly-faded venue
which is as much part of the live experience
as the artists performing there.
Holly Golightly fits right in. Tonight's
show is just her and The Brokeoffs, which
is simply her musical partner The Lawyer,
a ganglyTexan who accompanies Holly
on guitar, cymbal and kickdrum, as well as
providing the opening act on his lonesome.
They could have stepped straight out of one
of the vintage photos onto the stage, and the
music even manages to sound sepia-toned.
Holly's songs cover most of the key
subject areas of loss and loneliness, of love
and joy, booze and Jesus and the Devil, all
twanged out and strummed with close
harmony melancholy like the world stopped
being cool about 1 963, somewhere in a
Right here, right now, who would want
to hear anything else?
Bands and punters mix, swapping badges,
fanzines and cakes. Bearsuit shake the train
shed with punchy brass, shrieked vocals and
unexpectedly mathy-guitar. Heels spin in the
dust to Martha And The Vandellas and The
Smiths. On Sunday, a bell signals the start
of church - a ministry run by the Victorian
62 | plan b
light of love
Words: Beth Capper
Yoko Ono photography: Todd Owyoung
Union Park, Chicago
'ONOCHORDD CHICAGO y.o 2007' reads the
text on the mini white flashlight handed back
to me by the guy in front, which I barely have
a moment to contemplate before a wave of them
passes over me and a thousand hands grasp at
the air. Two gigantic TV screens blare on seconds
later, emitting a rhythmic thumping sound, like
soldiers marching a beat. Subtitles accompany
these sounds, indicating how we might use this
enigmatic object. One flash for T, two for 'love',
three for 'you'.
Yoko Ono is not content with the simple
adoration of fans who gathers to watch her
headline Saturday night at the Pitchfork Music
Festival - the physical presence of webzine
Pitchfork at Chicago's Union Park. She needs
them to blink tiny lights at her to spell out the
words 'I LOVE YOU'. Bridging the gap between
Live Aid and NYC'sNoFun Fest, Ono combines
free form tribal noise progressions with some
hippydippyspeechesaboutwarand love. She
shuffles on stage to a choir rendition of 'Give
Peace A Chance', gets theaudience to join her
in chanting "War is over if you want it" and brings
out Thurston Moore, who applies feedback to
'Mulberry' while Ono shrieks into the microphone.
It's pretty unremarkable, but probably gets Ono
her biggest applause of the night.
Earlier in the day, Pitchfork's newest darling
It's one flash for T,
two for 'love', three
Dan Deacon crams into a basketball court with
his fans to deliver a memorable performance. He
opts to dance alongside fans on the floor, and even
sets up a dance-off, encouraging more outgoing
members of crowd to climb on a podium and
gyrate f renziedly to some trashy electro off h is
iPod. Deacon fuses frenzied danceabilty with
experimental digressions which sound like
Lightning Bolt covering Kid Rock's power ballad
pop songs, and has the kids dancing til they lose
Meanwhile, rapper duo Clipse blaze onto the
main stage with bucket loads of charisma and bold
rhymes riddled with product placement, misogyny
and drug tales.
Wu Tang Clan's GZA opens the fest on Friday,
performing his 1995 album Liquid Swords as part
of a three band bill of artists performing one of
their classic albums curated for Pitchfork by All
Cerebral post-rockers Slint follow up by
performing Spiderland, and Sonic Youth headline
with 1 988's Daydream Nation (for the first time
on US soil, we're reminded, although they've
done it elsewhere).
I arrive in time to see Thurston, Kim etal
plodding through the songs on Daydream like they
were at a recital, adding a few improvised touches
here and there, and it's as dull as their last album
was to listen to.
It's possible to see every band at Pitchfork,
which makes sense; some of the bands present
-Grizzly Bear, Dan Deacon, Girl Talk -may
have had their day by the time next year's festival
rolls around. Like the site itself, Pitchfork Fest is
designed to be ephemeral and fast moving, a click
through the sound of now.
English Gentleman's Club, the most
sordid thing witnessed in a house of the
holy. Das Wanderlust dress in British Rail
uniforms and revel in a bouncy pop song
about hating your hometown. Persil
dedicate a song to, "The old dead guy in
the clouds", and instigate a stage invasion.
Bedroom dancers bound onto the stage,
letting go, in public. Indie pop does funny
things to people.
The Buffalo, Cardiff
On touching terms with the drone doom
progenitors, in that their set forces us to
tolerate 1 5 minutes or so of drumless, vocal-
less drain-circling feedback before erupting
into a sort of life, it nevertheless seems highly
unlikely that Monarch will take their flat-
lining heavy metal along the roads Sunn 0)))
Mindful of aethetics, but by no one's
lazy definition 'arty', the French quartet
stand on the shoulders of any number of
doom giants, yet slavish imitation is never
on the agenda.
Emilie Bresson is a terrific frontwoman:
there's a time for poker-faced grimm
preposterousness, by all means, but by
the same token, a screwed and chopped
black sludge band whose singer absent-
mindedly swigs cans and sports girly plastic
hair accessories feels like a useful corrective.
In any event, Monarch's efforts to replicate
the feeling of running into a concrete wall for
three quarters ofanhourwould suffice.
The 02 Arena, London
It's beyond sexual the way I feel about
Morrissey. I want to rip out his gizzards and
climb inside him for warmth. And in the same
way it took a live epiphany to kickstart that
violent passion, the same thing happens with
He appears through a hole in the symbol
shaped stage like the little wooden man from
Camberwick Green, and after a revue style
introducing the band run-through of 'Down
By The Riverside', he tells us that he's going
to satisfy us and he's going to take his time.
And he does. This showmanlike intra is a
nod to James Brown (as is his use of Maceo
Parker, on the horn).
About halfway through we snap out
of that mode and straight into the hits
section with 'Kiss' ( "You don't have to watch
Big Brother to have an attitude, "he sings)
and 'Purple Rain'. "Put your hands in the
air if you know what I mean! " he screams.
Everyone does, despite the fact not one of
And men everywhere mumble stuff
about what a great guitarist he is while
trying not to blurt out: " Prince! I love you ! "
plan b 1 63
behind the scenes
Words: Ringo P Stacey
Photography: Simon Fernandez
Sly And The Family Stone
Bournemouth Opera House, Boscombe
For some miracles you have to wait. First the band
play for 20 minutes without Sly, and it's very meh.
Then they break 1 minutes to fiddle with their
gear. Then they play a bit more. Then he's here,
behind the keys, but If You Want Me To Stay is
killed by mic failure. Then he stands up for Sing
A Simple Song, wiggles a bit and whets our
appetites. Then he disappears for 1 minutes.
Then he's back, and alive. Duck-strutting cross
the stage in glittery black jacket and green-rimmed
black baseball cap. Jumping down the side to slap
high-fives with the audience, losing his shades for
a precious few minutes so we get to see those eyes
and know it's for real. Sly is here and he's having
afuckin' great time.
And his voice, sounding betterthan it had
done for the decade up to '86, is sure too. Lived
in but not lost. Slightly more nasal, but still a
commanding rumble like Jesus after 30 years on
the cross, benevolent but firm. Then he wanted
to take you higher, now he will. Then Stand started
with a roll, now it's unaccompanied Sly and his
organ, so as best to hear the old man's wisdom,
finally a vindication of what cynics could once have
called youthful naivete.
"Stand! In the end/You'll still be you/One
that's done all the things you set out to do. " Then
down a few notes to the truth, "Stand! There's
'Be right back/ he
promises. 'I'm going
to take a piss'
a cross for you to bear, things to go through if
you 're going anywhere. "
But even the faithful need more than wisdom.
They need booty-shaking borderline psychotic
extroversion. They need optimism, they need that
jump, that frustrated holler, "I want to/I want to/
I want to". They need to know he still believes.
They need his sweaty white towel, removed from
the back of his neck and thrown into the pit for
them to fight over. They need energy. They get,
ever so briefly.
And then he's gone. Reaching up for assistance
he's pulled back and wiggles, loose but deliberate,
off stage left. "Be right back," he promises. "I'm
going to take a piss."
And then you start doubting your sense.
Wondering whether Sly really did come back from
dusted hell. Wondering what drugs the rest of the
band must have taken to sound so dead without
him, limping through an MOR obliteration of
'Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey' worthy of Mike
Flowers. Wondering what fucker that is on bass
ruining it all with a slap solo so devoid of funk it'd
make Larry Graham curse.
Sly returns once more. Plays a few keys, scats
a bit in the vocoder through Thankyou ForTalkin'
To Me Africa' and finally wanders out back without
a proper goodbye halfway through a second, less
committed take on '...Higher'. The band look
confused, shrug at each other and limp on. He'd
led them for 20 minutes of their 80 minute show.
The five minute miracle happened about two-
thirds of the way through. Outside after, people
are asking for their money back.
Idjits, of course. He was there. He was smiling.
He fed 1 8 hundred people! And that should be
enough. For now.
Pete And The Pirates/Matthew
Sawyer And The Ghosts
The Hub, Brighton
There's no one here. Floods in London, Truck
festival cancelled at the 1 1 th hour; and most
of the potential punters stuck in rain-fuelled
misery on delayed public transport, travelling
away. It'stheirfucking loss.
Matthew Sawyer sings bittersweet: his
circular songs lament easily and painfully,
with a nasal twang, friendless and saddened
by circumstance, beautiful contained little
beasts searching for Rupert The Bear's
rainbow, but never able to discover them.
Man, but he reminds me of Subway Sect at
their height-the same lingering, mournful
sequence of chords, weighed down by too
much knowledge and not enough beer. Man,
he reminds me ofTV Personalities when Dan
forgets even to laugh (not that Matthew ever
seems depressed)- the same ramshackle,
romantic approach. Three times I've seen
Matthew play recently, and each time the
Ghosts have been different- a stuttered
handclap here, an odd flutter of keyboard or
roll of drums there -and each time 'Don't
WantTo Hang Around' and 'Heartbreaker'
grow in poignancy. The room is bare - and
my sense of desolation grows.
All downward-turned feelings are
banished immediately PeteAndThe Pirates
take the stage: oh my God, this is rapture I
Five boys - meticulous, quietly serious,
wielding guitars with elegance and style
- refuse to let circumstance belittle them,
creating wide-spaced, intricate patterns of
sound (a dual guitar lead here, a structured
vocal harmony there) that send rushes
of blood through my chest into my feet
and back again. Tunes are so buoyant, so
enflamed - immediate ET classics with titles
like 'She Doesn't Belong', 'Knots' and the
'Come On Feet' -that the only parallel in
terms of sheer euphoria I can manage is
watching The Spice Girls live in Italy from
the photo-pit. . .the same heady rush.
Right now, it's like Supergrass 1 996,
Undertones 1978, Nirvana 1991. Pete And
The Pirates are that fucking great.
Soulsavers/Josh T Pearson/
Bush Hall, London
There is, as Will Oldham once observed, a
darkness. Tonight it creeps about this room
like a wraith, taking up the air once wreathed
with cigarette smoke, this sense of despond
fugging vision so Mark Lanegan stands
enveloped in gauze, singing (like it were
an act of fortitude, words heavily tumbling
from charred throat), "Who we burnin ', who
we burnin ' in effigy? "His latest project,
Soulsavers, might balm the emotional gore
with a glow of gospel, girl backing singers a
welcome and powerful accent to Lanegan's
bitter tones, but it's a darker salvation they
offer. Same with Josh Pearson, a bearded
64 1 plan b
Words: Robin Wilks
Photography: Simon Fernandez
Konono No 1
Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Malvern
It's like a social experiment. Take one insanely
repetitive, ferociously loud, raw and psychedelic-
sounding percussion group, from the border
between Congo and Angola, and get them to
perform mid-afternoon on a baking hot day in
front of 29,000 at one of the UK's most sedate
festivals. Not everyone will take to Konono No 1
at first, this much is certain; they're too undiluted,
too 'un-pop' for many people's tastes - but this
is where a cultural line is crossed: few can listen
for long to this frantic web of beats, pounded
out on the remnants of smashed-up cars, these
distorted squalls of fuzzed-up likembe (thumb
pianos, here amped up for Hendrix-like qualities
of distortion), full of messy, exultant energy, these
rhythms rising and clattering into a hypnotic
splurge of kinetic beauty, punctuated by singing
and chanting and shouting and the occasional
blow of a whistle, and not begin to dance,
Especially when the first song Konono No 1 play
is 40 minutes long. Forty minutes (and that's just
for starters) of distorted, repetitive, inescapable
rhythms that, little by little, drive normally square
people to dance like whirling dervishes. This is
the true proof that repetition in music, as Ricardo
Villalobossays, "does something to your brain" -
something irresistible and wholly intoxicating.
There's a fantastic mystery at the heart of what
Konono do - it's central to the question of how this
stuff can feel so transcendent to so many people,
and suggest so many possibilities, when the music
they play is actually very basic - all of their songs
essentially involve doing the same few things over,
and over, and over again. And yet, every so often,
in this pattern of abstract shapes - and somehow it
feels like it's kind of semi-conscious -the clattering
rhythms coincide, intermesh and generate a huge
rush of energy, and the whole thing feels incredibly
euphoric. If Konono No 1 can make a field of lazy
afternoon sunbathers feel this energy, just imagine
the fever they would generate playing to a party
crowd at 5am.
But now let's zone out for a minute or two,
and take a glance around the festival. It's a very
mannerly occasion; there are a lot of families with
kids, and hardly any teenagers. It's very well
organised, and very relaxed. What's that over
there, that looks like an enormous bright pink
penis? It's a work of art called The Love Cannon,
which shoots its payload of balloons into the air,
a manifestation of the hippyish belief thatan
excess of compassion is all that's required to be
able to solve the world's problems. The naive but
well-meant message is: if you have enough love,
anything is possible.
Looking back at the crowds smiling and
dancing to Konono's rattling grooves, I start to
wonder about our love of this band, and the hard-
to-avoid anthropological connotations that come
with championing music from far-flung places we
know very little about. If I praise the repetitiveness
and primality of Konono's rhythms, am I in fact
accidentally reinforcing basic stereotypes about
But my gut say no, because my response to this
music feels more physiological and emotional than
intellectual, and my focus is more on the music
itself and its effect on me than its cultural roots,
which I don't presume to understand; and the fact
remains that there are few acts that can give me as
frantic and irresistible a mood lift as Konono No 1.
prophet raging into the darkness, stood tall
on a stool to sing how he was laid low. Same
with Tenebrous Liar, Steve Gullick directing
his all-star arkestra (Ed Harcourt on banjo,
Duke Garwood on nebulous noisemakers) to
rumble through an improv-noise cloudburst
stricken with deep blues. Cold breath chilling
embers, perhaps, but there was fire tonight,
enough to keep us warm through this brittle,
The past a dreami/Thepastno meaning!/
Today was fine! I So don't remind me! "
Hutch Harris doesn't sing. His bratty vocals
are orders, shouted through his mic with the
clarity of a fire drill announcement. Bassist
Kathy Foster nods along, her yellow bangs
bouncing against her eyes. She is the steady,
economic Deal to Hutch's vitriolic Black.
Lorin Coleman on drums is doing everything
he can to keep up. The three of them look
like children. Songs are punky, tuneful, short
but have a moreish logic, always going from
A to B in a familiar but invigorating way.
On record, TheThermals' urgency is
difficult to digest, but they're even more
extreme live, and more enjoyable.The cock-
out guitar solo in 'Here's Your Future' is the
most deservingly overblown moment in indie
since all that nonsense atthe beginning of
'Cannonball'.And 'No Culture Icons' is the
lost indieclub dancefloor anthem of the last
1 years. It couldn't be any more perfect.
Victoria Park, London
The name speaks for itself. Bar a few
photographers and the majority of the
performing acts themselves, Victoria Park
is free of adults. Many of the artists are
themselves veterans of the London all-ages
scene, such as grime jester Lethal Bizzle,
who has everyone in the area shouting
"Pow! ".A promo drone hands me free
Starburst sweets as I head over to the
MySpace stage, where the disappointing
Crystal Castles play a lively but unfamiliar
set of 8-bit electro. Better are Brighton duo
Blood Red Shoes, who play their simplistic,
guitar/drums rock loud and bold, but it's
Cajun Dance Party who pull one of the
biggest crowds of the day, partly because
of all theirfree balloons, but partly, one
suspects, because they aren't old enough
to drink themselves (never mind that they
only have two truly great songs, 'The Next
Untouchable' and 'Amylase'). Kid Harpoon
rocks like a pirate Eugene Hutz, but the best
is saved for last. Patrick Wolf takes off his
shirt to the loudest cheer of the day, and
follows up with 45 minutes of magical pop
music like 'The Magic Position'. Youth isn't
wasted on the young.
plan b 1 65
on tour: euros childs
Interview: Louis Pattison
What's been your most
"A festival in Leeds, back in
1995. It was the first time we'd
played outside. Itwas a thrill to
stare at the sky and play for the
What are the three most
important things to bring to
"A 4x4, a funny hat, and
a picnic hamper from Fortnum
Please insert anecdotes from
disastrous gigs here.
"A festi va I i n West Wa les
called Harvest Fair. We'd
travelled all dayto get there,
only to find the PA being
packed away and lots of new
age travellers with dogs. The
organiser had done a runner
with the money, we never
played and a friend of mine
caught fleas. Bad vibes, man."
Have you ever had any
stowaways on your tours?
"Only prostitutes that tour
bus drivers would occasionally
What's the worst
debauchery you've seen the
road reduce someone to?
"I once ran over a horse for
pleasure after a gig inSalford."
What do you look for in
a travelling companion?
"Sense of direction."
And what gets people
singing along in the tour bus?
"George Jones, 'White
Former Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
frontman takes new album
The Miracle Inn on the road.
"He talks of running away,
voices through wires, watching
life pass by, and as his voice
deepens, organ chants slide
around the air, rising and falling
in consistent undulations," says
Plan B. "But it's the glimmers of
offbeat pop that renders this
album so endearing".
Chatham Tap 'N Tin
(September 1 5), End Of The
Road Festival, North Dorset
(16), Bristol Thekla (20),
Blanaui Flestiniog Y cwrt (21),
Aberteifi Theatr Mwallam (22),
Southampton Joiners Arms
(23), London Kings College (26),
Manchester Roundhouse (27),
Middlesborough Knights (29),
Newcastle The Cluny (30),
Glasgow King Tut's (October 1),
Nottingham The Social (2)
from Adam Pierce. Expect material
from his recent self-titled album on
FatCat, recorded off-piste at a home-
built studio near Bear Mountain
in upstate New York, plus a joyous
slalom through the archives.
Bristol Thekla (September 11),
Reading South St Arts Centre (12),
London Cargo (13)
Hitting cricket season like a biblical
plague, Plan B readers with a real
penchant for claustrophobia and
acceleration can welcome our new
insect overlords (all the way from
San Diego) as they tour the UK in
support of unbowed recent New
Bristol Thekla (September 13),
Leeds Pressure Point (16), London
Scala(17), Brighton Pressure(16),
London Scala (17), Liverpool Barfly
(18), Dublin Whelans (19), Belfast
Laverys Bunker (20)
end of the road festival
Day dawns on the second End Of The
Road, the defiantly grassroots festival
held out in LarmerTree Gardens in the
scenic Wiltshire. Joining the reputedly
excellent pie shops and cider brandy
vendors on site are bands including
Yo La Tengo, Midlake, Joan As Police
Woman, Architecture In Helsinki,
Malcolm Middleton, Archie Branson
Outfit, Jim White, James Yorkston,
Besnard Lakes, Dan Sartain, Stephanie
Dosen, David Vandervelde, Indigo
Moss, Super Furry Animals, Brakes,
The Broken Family Band, Howe Gelb,
Herman Dune, Findlay Brown, Fionn
Regan, Jeffrey Lewis, Josh T Pearson,
Misty's Big Adventure, My Brightest
Diamond, Seasick Steve and many
LarmerTree Gardens, Wiltshire
Chaotic art-rockers from Portland,
Oregon with a former member of
Antioch Arrow and past releases on
5RC, kill rock stars and 31G reach
out for the UK. Will you rise to the
challenge, and reach out and clasp
London Howl (September 17),
London Barden's Boudoir (18),
Cambridge The Portland (19),
Leeds TBA (20), Nottingham
Bunker Hill (21), Birmingham
kool keith and kutmaster kurt
Keith Matthew Thornton, aka
new school pioneer and far-sighted
rap futurist Kool Keith, hits the
UK for a one-off show. Famously
unpredictable, as anyone who saw his
ATP show a few years back can attest,
but reports from his last spree of UK
shows offered a reservations-free
London Jazz Cafe (September 20)
Currently in the throes of an
extensive, exhaustive, exhausting,
intercontinental tour taking her
reloaded folk into open arms and
thence soft hearts all over America
and Europe, fans should prepare for
serious intimacy when she finally
rolls into their town.
Nottingham The Social
(September 23), London
Shepherd's Bush Empire (24),
Dublin Tripod (25), Glasgow
Oran Mor (26), Bristol Trinty Arts
Brighton's week-long music festival
returns for a fourth year, promising
over 250 local bands at over 100
free shows. Expect sets from recent
Bride, Peggy Sue And The Pirates,
My Device, Shrag, Maths Class,
Bobby McGees and many more.
various Brighton venues
When not conducting electric seances
ortending to imaginaryanimals,
Birmingham's most sinister sorts
like nothing better than strapping
on Victorian butterfly or bird masks
and going out in search of souls.
Leeds Brudenell Social Club
(October 5), London Corsica
Studios (7), Leicester Basement
Bar (1 1), Brighton West Hill Hall
(12), Birmingham Town Hall (15)
Still making like math class packed up
for spring break, New York's Battles
bound back into the spotlight primed
forajig around a handful of the UK's
select venues. Twitter along to Atlas
getting all the words wrong at the
Bristol Bierkeller (October 10),
London Koko (11), Manchester
Academy 2 (17)
Reformed hardcore legends hit the
UK for the first time in over a decade,
touting the dub-tinged punk rush of
new album Build A Nation, out now
London Astoria (October 16)
Book now for Montreal's pomped-up
indie rock anthemicists, still spreading
the gospel of this year's acclaimed
Neon Bible. Support comes from
Liverpudlian teeth-grinders Clinic.
Glasgow SECC (October 26),
Manchester MEN (27), Newcastle
Arena (29), Cardiff Arena (30),
Nottingham Arena (31), London
Alexandra Palace (November 18)
thrill jockey records 15th
By way of turning nearly barely legal,
Chicago's Thrill Jockey upturn their
roster and push the pieces together,
puzzle-style. Day one features sets
from The Fiery Furnaces, Trans Am,
The Sea And Cake, Califone,
Arbouretum, Radian, The Zincs,
Daniel Higgs and Chiara Giovando,
with Tortoise, Bobby Conn, Adult,
and KTL lighting the candles on the
London Kono (November 11-12)
66 | plan b
Sunday 21st October
Monday 22nd October
LONDON BRIXTON ACADEMY
Tuesday 23rd October
CREDIT CARDS TEL: 0870 400 0688 (24HRS)
gigsandtours.com and pclpresents.com
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Album 'Sound Of Silver' Out Now.
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Symphony No. 13: Hallucination City
Epic symphony for 100 electric guitars
0870 389 1846
Credit Cards Tel: 0870 400 0688 (24 hrs)
Buy Online at LiveNation.co.uk
TICKETS: 0870 400 0688 OR EH L I VE= n P T I O n. co.uk
Illustration: Emily Twomey
This Fool Can Die Now (Too Pure)
If Riot Grrrl symptomised and solemnised
a full-frontal feminist incursion into the indie
demographic, its more reflective followers
(LeTigre, Chicks On Speed, Tracy + The Plastics,
Scout Niblett) have advanced into the space
won slowly and carefully, pairing identity
politics with conceptual art, refusing to take
anything for granted, testing their tools on
everything, including themselves. Unfortunately
(unsurprisingly) such exploration has often
been lazily mistaken for confusion.
So, when this record begins with a couple
of country and western duets (one placid, one
turbulent, both with gothic-whiskered Bonny
'Prince' Billy) I can already hear a comment
box lynch mob bemoaning a supposed lack
of (yup, that word again) authenticity. Likewise
(I imagine) they'll disparage ornate song titles
like 'Let Thine Heart Be Warmed' and 'Do You
Wanna Be Buried With My People'. Anyway, I'll
fix the haters later - let's listen to the record first.
If Kidnapped By Neptune was the moonlit
splash-o-rama of an almost childishly exuberant
sea, Scout's latest seems a (mostly) more
trademark rural grunge and Olympian passion,
while muted, stately ballads such as 'River Of
No Return' waltz after, it's 'Kiss', the second
duet, which proves the ship-wrecker.
A sublime two-hander, our heroes trade
verses before dovetailing untidily together
(all the more beautifully) for a chorus which
reels like a Shakespearean tempest, pulling each
other upon ever ascending notes, two rockets
spiralling as one up, up, up into the big who
knows what above. And can even the most
heavily populated, perfectly synchronised,
most sophisticated, best orchestrated bombast
ever match the intensity of intimacy?
See, I love that Scout sings with an
unaccountable American accent, that she
doesn't do some nebulous cultural double-bluff
and accentuate a Notts dialect, as if roots are
as literal as that nowadays. As if we dcfn't live
in a country where thousands of middle-aged
midlanders don't live to line-dance once a
week. And when she sings -fatally wounded,
but unashamed, "If I'm to be the fool, then so
it be/This fool can die now", tell me this isn't
real, I dare you, I want you to. Then listen to it
yourself. This record will disprove you, that's all.
Fantasy is where we find ourselves,
who and what we want to be
tranquil voyage over and away. "Soon, I'll reach
the glory/Where mortals no longer complain/
There's a ship that's coming to take me/And the
captain is calling my name. . . " she sings at the
outset, somehow equally resigned and hopeful.
As per the MO we know by now, an absence
of production bubblewrap (courtesy of Steve
Albini, natch) allows notes to attack and decay
in their own sweet time - as serious, and as
charged, as a slow dance. Since Scout has
always seemed to sing primarily, naturally, to
herself, it's a jolt to hear her suddenly share
these spaces that feel as private as bare skin.
And, even if her words are never
straightforward reportage (exploration not
documentation) a sense of doomed romance
seems to resonate through the whole. Over
strings as textural as waves, 'Yummy' tries to
squeeze 'eerie' back into 'erotic cannibalism':
"And this way, you can never take this body
away from me, " she submits, "Whatever this
is, let it take you/And let it take me. "
It does. Her lover's voice becomes "louder
than the thunder" just as a close-up trumps
a long-shot, the world locked out of this
embrace. References to "psychic night" and
"sweetheart fever" thread through domestic
interiors, swollen-knuckle piano and winding
vocal lines like unlit paths. And if 'Your Last
Chariot' and 'Hide And Seek' maintain her
A lot hinges on how you define authenticity,
of course. Some say it's all about roots, making
your own biography the text to quote from and
return to. Others, that styles and genres have
hard-won rules, that the classic template must
be honoured, that the best one can hope to be
is the latest link in a chain. The third is circular -
what's real is what's real (and here's the twist)
to you. And in this formulation, the only one
which looks forward, fantasy is where we find
ourselves, who and what we want to be -
"That which is creative must first create itself,"
said Keats; "We become our masks," said
Wilde - and the challenge is to see this for
the opportunity it is. You only ever really
betray yrself by neglecting yr dreams.
Unlike the starry-eyed waxworks who use
classic karaoke much as clerics employ prayer,
Scout has sprouted a new identity to choose
her own adventure. And this isn't weakness or
falsity- we're all moving as fast and as far as we
can, hoping not to collapse into a caricature of
the powerless child we were, doing our best,
doing it ourself, trying to become someone we
can live with. And why shouldn't we see those
who aspire to slip into their parents' uniforms,
shoes and pockets, perverse? Better to belong
to dreams, books and history before you were
born and countries you've never been. Better
to grow toward the light.
plan b 1 69
talkin' bout the young style
Words: Nicola Meighan
The Go! Team
Proof Of Youth (Memphis Industries)
Zipping back into the sweltering pop realm like a
Morricone-toting, kung-fu baiting, day-glo blaring
ice-cream van, Brighton's hip hoptriathletesThe
Go! Team are back to galvanise the arse-end of
Rolling out a sophomore measure of
cheerleading, cartwheeling, wagons-ho! candy-
pop, their 1 2-legged dervish is more fervid than
ever: all double-dutch knees ups, Motown hoe-
downs, half rhyme sloganeering and high noon
All their best songs still sound like Seventies
kids' TV shows or Neneh Cherry's 'Buffalo Stance'
(witness respectively the jump-rope brass cantata
'The Wrath Of Marcie' and the opening siren
fanfare of ace trainer-aria 'Grip Like A Vice'); and
they persist in resurrecting the playground rap
of Musical Youth, Salt 'N' Pepa, The Rock Steady
Crew and Colour Me Badd (see the soaring
pompom swagger of 'Keys To The City'; the drum-
tumbled hopscotch skirl of 'Universal Speech').
That said, Proof Of Youth salutes a marked
departure from its 2004 predecessor Thunder,
Lightning, Strike - that is to say, there are slow
songs within. The first, the alien-cooled acoustic
bloop of 'My World', emerges as a sci-fi addled
James Taylor B-side, but on closer inspection
Delirious songs for kickboxers, cowboys,
transpires to be a cover of a schools' programme
from yesteryear. It also serves to heighten the
blow discharged by subsequent track 'Titanic
Vandalism', a mammoth, rabid, back-flipping
wig-out; all kamikaze car-chase mantras. The six-
piece ease the pace once more on T Never Needed
It Now So Much', a soul-tinged chug whose take
on vintage indie-pop is fiercely superseded by
the party scuzz-out 'Fake ID' (think The Delgados
hijacking Degrassi Street).
While the agile rabble's zealous debut album
was jammed with innumerous vintage hip hop,
retro-electro, B-movie, alt-rock and shifty disco
samples, (ringleader Parton recruited a band
afterward in a bid to recreate his fireball pop for
the live arena), Proof Of Youth revels rather more
in straight-up performance: vocalist and agitator
Ninja's gigs are dynamite; while notable global
guest appearances include New York's incessant
Double Dutch Divas, Maryland's frenetic Rapper's
Delight Club, Amsterdam's Solex, Bonde Do
Role's Marina Velio -plus Public Enemy number
one and all-round hip hop saviour Chuck D, on
the rapid-fire, robo-cop, wah-wah rocketing
Yet the real superheroes are The Go! Team
themselves: their effervescent, Technicolor rage
against tedium has delivered an avid, livid joyance
- a dexterous album of delirious songs for
kickboxers, cowboys, majorettes, conquerors.
Nicola Meighan talks to Ian Parton
Tell me about the circumstances in which
Proof Of Youth was recorded.
"We took over a studio on the fringes of Brighton.
It was a blur of drumming and Indian takeaways."
What five things best got you through the
"Frisbee, flapjacks, Yo Momma, vegetable dhansak
and the phrase 'hitch your wagon to a star'."
What counted for decadence/relaxation
while you were recording Proof Of Youth!
"I got a Columbo box set and started most days
with an episode. I love the way he's always pitted
against people at the top of their field - magicians,
brain surgeons, chess players. It's a regular
showdown of the mind."
If the Go! Team was an arcade game, what
would it be?
" Daley Thompson 's Decathlon . "
The new album features cameos from Chuck D
and Bonde Do Role's Marina: who would be
your ultimate special guest?
"Woody Allen - maybe he could do a clarinet solo? "
Oh:io (Fantastic Plastic)
'Jupiter Force (Recruitment Video)' has
chants to send your ear fluid into a 256-
colour palette of nightlife, like that scene
from Lost In Translationwhete they're
running through arcades as machines
laugh in their faces. Like the best of Fantastic
Plastic's output, 0/7.70 treats bubblegum
seriously and produces something with
actual whack: for every pleated miniskirt
there are distinctively unimpressed yaps of
discontent.The sweet send-up of 'Steven
F**king Spielberg' has timpani beats for
Jurassic footprints, while the album's outro,
'Still Alive', beams in from an alternative
dimension. For one minute 20 seconds of
parallel harmony, there are distant echoes
and a twinge of sad. Planet Earth to the
mothership: we're still having fun, but all
is not well.
Black Boned Angel
Eternal Love/Eternal Hunger
Cold-hearted bringer of plague and despair,
Black Boned Angel is the none-more-bleak
persona of Birchville Cat Motel's Campbell
Kneale. These two 20-minute assaults of
unspeakable filth stretch the template of
doom dirge almost beyond endurance.
'Eternal Love' begins all bass-punctuated
space, but its horrors soon become evident,
taking their sweet time tearing your tongue
out at the root.The only love to be found here
is the kind that shows its devotion by making
an intricate duvet from your skin. 'Eternal
Hunger' is a more conventional but no less
disturbing piece of grinding, sloth-pace
doom. Serrated guitars drag behind funereal
beats, while a B-movie horror keyboard motif
adds a further touch of the ominous. Utterly
enchanting, in the most loathsome of ways.
70 1 plan b
INNOVATIVE •• CREATIVE /INDEPENDENT
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
AND THE MAKERS
The State Of Things
Out 17.09.07 on Wall Of Sound
The unstoppable debut album from
Sheffield's dynamite pop subverts,
Includes 'Heavyweight Champion Of
The World' & 'He Said He Loved Me'.
Out 10.09.07 on Domino
Animal Collective return
& are at the peak of their powers
here, something like electronic-
might be a fitting way
to describe its unique sound.
Out 01.10.07 on Full Time Hobby
from the much-talked about
New Zealand blues rockers,
produced by Ian Broudie.
Out 17.09.07 on Beggars Banquet
Recorded in Berlin & mixed in New
York, 'Yes, u" combines the glamour
& grime of Serge Gainsbourg
& Velvet Underground's metropolis
with a cosmopolitan, & treacherous,
Out 03.09.07 on Lomax
The pioneer of British psychedelia
returns with a most extraordinary
album, accompanied by artists he
inspired like Teenage Fanclub,
Ladybug Transistor & Candie Payne.
It is his first new album in 15 years.
Out now on Ninja Tune
The Dragons created a psychedelic
masterpiece in 1969. Unfortunately,
labels weren't ready. 37 years later
Dl Food is amazed by a track he
finds. The Dragons have a whole
album, surely we're ready by now?
Pearl Street Raga
| Out 10.09.07 on People Tree Records |
This Bristolian sextet have
produced a debut of achingly
brilliant, timeless songs -
a beautiful haunting record that
veers from Midlake to Tim Buckley,
I Blind Lemon lefferson to Arcade Fire.
Out 24.09.07 on Big Dada
Cadence Weapon combines the
kind of hungry, energised,
forward thinking production
& window-to-the-mind linguistics
that made you get into
hip-hop in the first place.
FUTURE OF THE LEFT
Out 24.09.07 on Too Pure
From the ashes of Mclusky &
Jarcrew comes Future Of The Left.
death-charge disco" NME.
"Ferocious, melodic gems"
The Western Lands
Out 10.09.07 on Warp
'The Western Lands' is a triumphant
blend of space rock & euphoric
lo-fi pop. Exploring themes of
romance, loss and madness, this
ambitious album is clearly
Gravenhurst's best to date.
Out 10.09.07 on Xtra Mile
Underground post-hardcore hero
releases his brilliant new album,
feat, drumming legend Sam Siegler
(Rival Schools) & engineered/mixed
by Ian Love (Rival Schools).
Go Go Smear
The Poison Ivy
Out 24.09.07 on Fat Cat
The strangely titled
'Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy'
is a colourful, twitching & playful
work of art, full of life
IUDtHiiur m ruua
Feast Or Famine
Out now on Side One Dummy
The singer-songwriter's solo studio
album is produced by Ted Hutt, &
showcases his remarkable musical
talents. Features Matt Skiba,
lolie Holland, Jon Gaunt, Tim Barry,
Matt Hensley & Nathan Maxwell.
Out 03.09.07 on Beggars Banquet
St. Vincent's cinematic pop epics
feel like 1920s Paris, an orchestra
of pure modernity, a new American
music, informed by jazz, blues,
folk & classical but, in the end,
an animal original unto itself.
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Out 24.09.07 on Sunday Best
Rockabilly siblings, Kitty, Daisy
& Lewis, compile a definitive
collection of rockabilly, swing,
boogie woogie, r 'n' b, jump blues
and country & western tracks.
SALES & MARKETING
E THE FIRST TO HEAR THE BEST INDEPENDENT MU
T YOUR LOCAL CWNN STORE
"■''-"■-.- .if V",* 1 " ■■-•' ■■'■'! i
FOR A FULL SHOP LIST PLEASE LOG ONTO
fcVJ '' .-^"; '% <>•?
Desert Burning', it's damn near impossible not to
sing along with, even without 1 lagers inside you,
and it doesn't give a good goddamn like all the
finest Mekons songs. Sure, you can call it alt country.
I'm so old that I can remember a time when such
ludicrous definitions didn't exist.
I'm only as old as some of my peers, though -
and they're putting their age to good use, that's for
sure. Sparkling Seattle producer Steve Fisk (early
Screaming Trees, Pigeonhed: a man who's actually
o/derthan me) and sexiest-dancer-in-Washington
Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening, Halobenders:
come on, you do know who he is) are the men
behind the boards at Dub Narcotic Studios in
Olympia, WA, recording the new Old Time Relijun
opus, Catharsis In Crisis (K) - and damn, is it mighty I
The third part of the Lost Light Trilogy, Arrington
de Dionyso and his crew breathe absolute fire here,
channelling the spirit of old school avant punks The
Pop Group and the granddaddy of all things angular
Captain Beef heart via a series of electrifying, funky
and dissonant war cries that quite charge the blood.
"What does it means to be human?" Dionyso
screeches possessed, Cubist, totally inspirational
and triumphant. Yes, you could say I like it.
Equally as fine - although it took me a few plays
to get there - is the self-titled album from Portland,
OR cuddle-core band Thanksgiving's front-person
Adrian Orange And Her Band. Johnson again,
Dub Narcotic again, but this time Mount Eerie/
Microphones magician Phil Elverum is on board,
and shit, do Phil and Calvin knowtheirold school
dub and ska. Somehow, impossibly, Orange has
assembled a 1 8-piece ska arkestra (trombones,
kettle drums, tenor sax, the works) around himself
that can blow as hot and loose as even The Specials
in their prime, and although the warbling, wobbly
voice takes getting used to, the production is so
fluid and laidbackand damn funky, you just know
you're going to be returning here, again and again,
party or no. Have you bought that latest Ex album
with the Ethiopian musicians yet? No. Well, do so
right now, and then play these two records back to
It's damn near
impossible not to
sing along with, even
without 10 lagers
the true report
Words: Everett True
Photography: Greg Neate
Alt country armageddon, DIY dub and nu-Radiophonic pop: join Plan B's
editor-in-chief for a sift through the Truebox
Mekons: Natural (Quarterstick)
Old Time Relijun: Catharsis In Crisis (K)
Adrian Orange And Her Band:
Adrian Orange And Her Band (K)
Monster Bobby: Gaps (Hypnote)
I'm old. Way older than you. So old that I can recall
UB40 putting out a good single (it was their first);
so old that I can recall writing a review from the last
night of The Living Room (Alan McGee's second
London club) for the NME in '83, where Mekons
headlined with their drunken, raucous punk rock
with elements of Willie Nelson and Brotherhood
Of Man, and thinking the Leeds bands were bound
to split soon, also. Damn. An album followed,
Fear Of Whiskey, that some weird-ass American
commentators credited with the invention of alt
country, butin realitywasjustasprawling, genial,
Cricklewood-chomping mess of pottage and late
night singalongs. . .and damn me, if many of the
Mekons didn't move to the US and continue right
through to -now, I guess. Like all good sloppy
drunks, they never wanted to be the last to leave the
party. Their new album - the first for five years, like
anyone's counting -the Armageddon-anticipating,
undulating Natural, comes around just in time for
their 30th anniversary, and is typically welcoming
and generous: John Langford and Sally Timms and
Tom Green and the gang, wassailing and wielding
theirfiddlesand mandolins and mantric chants with
typical lack of aplomb, like the bonhomie-laden big
brothers (and sisters) you always wished you had. It's
messy, it's musical, it's stuffed full of songs with titles
like 'Give Me Wine Or Money' and 'Burning In The
back. Absolutely wonderful . . .
So, I assume, you've wasted a few nights lying
awake, wondering what the mid-point between
Delia Derbyshire's inspired experiments in early
electronica with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
and someone all out-and-out retro Sixties girl group
pop-The Pipettes, say -would sound like. You
haven't? Hmm.Or perhaps you've been thinking
that Brighton's maverick laptop-wielders
Metronomy and Restless List could benefit from
some sweet, naive, slightly off-key brass a la Maher
Shalal Hash Baz? No? Really? What's up with that?
Fortunately, DIY guru and Pipettes 'originator'
Monster Bobby has been puzzling over those
matters for some years now, and the result is the
utterly adorable, Tangents-friendly Gaps on NYC
label Hypnote, that sounds in places precisely like
Comet Gain, if they ever calmed down enough to
quit shouting (and let's hope they don't).
You can hear that someone's been listening to
Joe Meek, Faust, Stockhausen, The Field Mice,
Tenniscoats and Misty's Big Adventure - and man,
I'm glad he has. This is as cute and cuddly as you
can get while still being lo-fiand left-field; at least,
for today it is, and that's more than enough for this
one, older-than-you, happy man.
72 | plan b
FincTfOw a i
The highly anticipated seqyej to Pholeks
critieolfy acclaimed Form & Function 1
Is set to be onolner classic in ony
drum n boss ion's col led ion.
Combining the best ihot punk- rock,
ntry and folk hove to offer with distinct
lis and poetic lyrics, The Weaker! nans'
vocals ana poetrc types, I he weaken hqnsf
music hqs beendescnbed as rich in detailed
qs been described as rich m detoilec
craftsmanship,, with plenty of unsettling textures
experiment and recurring lyrical
and melodic imagery.
Thirteen tracks af wonder from this Mew York
Includes the single, Suzannah.
"Drifting into view on waves of slide
guitar, pitter- pattering drums and o
chorus of dreqmv harmonies, this is
seductive music bucll in Baltimore with
love and care The Word
On the surface Orion Rigel Dpmmisse's
song world is marked by death, desolation
■sanal disaster. Trie trcnsmulalion 01
nd a read Into o manageable
: currencY makes complete sense
given She fonfostrc elements sewn wilhin
POLYPHONIC This classic Polyphonic Spree
Ml ILL ond||
Monster Bobby's fab debut album
munches the pop sensibilities he is well-
known lor as o founder and songwriter of
the Pipettes, odds a bit 91 "oddball singer-
songwriter", wistful early British folk and
primitive glitcntronico. Its an unassuming
liiMr.1 im or m man
The Pixies' iconic lead singer Frank Black
donned his decades-old moniker -
Block Francis - end, imbued by the spirit of
eccentric Dutch painter/music ion Herman
Brood, recorded o brand new set of 1 1
songs, collectively titled Bluelinger.
ttffif* » f wmm m
London Town (679)
Poor Kano. He didn't want to be 'boxed' in a label. So he
claimed he wasn't necessarily making 'grime'. He argued
that 'UK' was a pigeonhole too ,but also said we have to
rep 'UK' and not 'grime'. Hmm.
I'm not just being snide. This singular lack of focus is London Town's
biggest failure; the only thing that makes this album uniquely UK or London
or even uniquely Kano, is his voice. The rest of it is an shallow glean of
Jamaican and American lyrical, vocal and rhythmical influences which are
poorly produced and blatantly and badly compressed. (No doubt we have
the label's emphasis on producing music that sounds OK on any shitty old
stereo to blame for the latter. This makes no sense - if well engineered,
music sounds good on any shitty old stereo.)
Kano deserves some credit for trying to position himself in the UK corner
of the diasporic triangle. 'Bad Boy', which tips its cap to UK Apache, is an
obvious example, but can't reach beyond homage (compare it to Trim's 'My
Playground' on his self-released Soulfood Vol 2, which doesn't lean on the
reference, it reinvigorates it). Meanwhile, the choice of grime guest dujour
Kate Nash on 'Me And My Microphone', is an attempt to position himself in
the current UK urban/pop milieu too far. The choice of Nash is too obvious;
it seems like bandwagon-jumping when there's such a massive resource
of underrepresented vocalists he could have chosen from. Meanwhile, for
Kano himself, there's shagging hoes and falling in love with The One halfway
through your album - but haven't we heard all this before?
Essentially this album is a lesson in everything that's wrong with signing
for a major. Uninventive production. Embarrassing attempts to appeal to
a pop audience. Conceptually vapid.
Darrell Fitton was the co-producer of
Autechre's Incunabulaand contributed
a track to Warp's groundbreaking Artificial
Intelligence IcompWation. And while he
appears to be something of a serious fellow,
it's worth pointing out his fourth album as
Bola for Skam was originally scheduled to
be called Waknuts.
Worth remembering, because in terms
of melody, 'Waknuts' is the stand-out track
here; elsewhere, you see, this is a mature
outing characterised by the jazz-inflected
'Noop' or the ethno-tinged 'Halyloola'. Sadly,
though this album just doesn't move the
argument on too much. Take 'Urenforpuren',
for example, which kicks off with a menacing
low bass throb before - classic IDM, this —
a delicate melody appears floating delicately
on top. It's assured, crafted stuff, but lacks
impact - unlike, say, Fitton's truly classic
1 998 offering Soup.
Broken Social Scene Presents:
Spirit If... (City Slang)
'Farewell To The Pressure Kids', the first song
on Spirit If. . ., sounds like a volcano being
hit by an avalanche being hit by a tidal wave
being hit by, ooh, I dunno, an elephant. That's
on fire. So, pretty modest by Broken Social
Scene ringleader Kevin Drew's normal 'Hey,
let's get all of Ontario on guitar' standards.
But it makes the point -just in case that
album title was a little obtuse -that this isn't
exactly a departure from the day job. In fact,
given Drew writes most of BSS's songs and
Spirit If. . . features most of their musicians
(sometimes on lead vocals, ferchristssake),
this is basically a name away from being the
BSS's fourth, maybe best album. A foggily
catchy hour of lo-fi prog, there's none of
the supergroup's the-end-of-the-world-is-
sounding-pretty-spiffy eruptions, but neither
does it ever sound like several hundred aging
Canadians having a jam. A good thing.
Breaking Keyfabe (Big Dada)
Always nice when album art reflects the
content, and Breaking Keyfabe's minimalist
graffiti Picasso-isms do so closely enough
for this hack to hitch a free ride. Done and
done. Meanwhile, as to how that plays out
between the headphones, this Canadian
- blogger, ex-P/fc/iforir writer, current MC,
future cult star - crashes through mis-
matched signals on his long-delayed solo
record. Harnessing the pulse and flex of
eccentric electronics, the sound is closer
to grime than anything - albeit critically
dissected and reassembled somewhat
abstracted at the other end of a long-
distance line. Afriend always responds to
atonality in music by (loudly) quoting Chief
Wiggum's policedog-aggravating mantra
"Mi-Ma-Mo-Mo-Ma-Mi". He would hate
this. But he is wrong. It is sad. Actually,
happily, this is several power-ups beyond
regular undie hip hop sea shanty business,
alternating blurred near-emotional
atmospherics, jarring shifts, wise-ass
affectation and razorblade/concrete cut-ups.
Nuclear Barbarians (Ektro)
Who would have thought that dropping
six short, sharp hardcore punk rants in
the middle of an album of tinkly piano
melancholy, doomy orchestrations and
extended electronic noodling would work?
And then who in turn could have found, once
the surprise wore off, that they would end up
appreciating the contrast, in the same way as
soy sauce on a chocolate biscuit sometimes
tastes just right, if not every teatime? Playing
the manic tracks separately is probably
cheating - if Circle had wanted to release
a seven-minute electrothrash single
they probably would have. Perverse and
preposterous, Pan/cspikes angrily before
coasting into somnolence like a precocious
toddler sleeping off a tartrazine tantrum.
Likewise, Ektro labelmates Steel
Mammoth keeps pushing their side projects
further into the ways of glorious post-Judas
Priest wrongness. Everything about Nuclear
Barbarians, from the cartoon axe-thing
sleeve to the straight-faced, hard rocking
riffs, screams UNTRUE METAL! so loud it
might even make a Manowar fan smile.
Silver Tongued Sisyphus (Kranky)
Prism Of Eternal Now (Kranky)
The more I try to stop referencing Cluster
and Harmonia in reviews, the more people
put out records that sound like both groups.
Cloudland Canyon's SilverTongued Sisyphus,
for example, is such a perfect companion
to Musik Von Harmonia's gently disquieting
electronic pulse-pop that I'm torn
between Pavlov-style reflex response and
uncomfortable questions about influence
and imitation. However, as it spins out into
mantric German vocals, dawn-like synth
vistas and tweaks of filter, not loving this
record feels like an insane act of self-
denial: Kip Uhlhorn and Simon Wojan have
constructed a perfect piece of mid-Seventies
kosmische musik, whose only real fault is
that it's 23 minutes long instead of 60.
White Rainbow, aka Adam Forkner of
Portland space-rockers Yume Bitsu, takes a
similarly vintage but more relaxed approach
on Prism Of Eternal Now, with tones, drones,
tabla and organ adding up to one hour
plus of prime mantric/tantric bliss-out. The
presence of Terry Riley isn't just confined
to the track dedicated to him: echoes of his
1971 John Cale collaboration Church Of
Anthraxqroove through 'Pulses' (which
also recalls Human League's 'Being Boiled',
played by hippies) and 'Mystic Prism'. The
more rhythmically mobile tracks are the ones
to listen for; the drawn-out washes of guitar
and synth, while pleasantly languorous,
might try the patience of anyone whose
chakras are a bit unaligned.
Home Again (Heavenly)
Don't call it the rehabilitation album; Home
Againwas actually recorded before the
former Orange Juice frontman's 2005 brain
haemorrhage. Instead, it's a reflective sort of
piece, a pilgrimage to Collins' home in the
East Highlands featuring banjo and campfire
guitar alongside the time-honoured guitar
rockers. And listen out for several moments
of accidental pathos: "'Cos you've still got
your mind/Which will serve you in kind/If
you're true toyourself "he sings, on 'One
Is A Lonely Number'.
Aluminum Lake (Drag City)
I put this album on in my friend's shop. Me
and friend had a bet that the first person who
asked what it was would be a middle-aged
man in a tie dye T-shirt. You know the kind;
Terry Pratchett hat, ankle length wax jacket,
real ale belly, a goatee shaved a bit further
down the neck, so as to mark out a territory
where the chin used to be. We were proved
rightwithin three songs. You can smell the
stale bong water, the microwaveable burgers
and the burning roaches that would put even
the dude to shame. These condiments of
collapse have a distinctly weekends only
feel though, and shirts and ties must surely
dictate the order of the week. Drag City,
what have you done?
Kevin Drumm/Daniel Menche
Gauntlet (Editions Mego)
Complaints about the dearth of quality
to be found in recent contemporary noise
should really be met with a short, sharp
jab of a soldering iron, on the evidence of
this new collaboration between Americans
Drumm and Menche (whose site aptly
displays the Bon Scott legend 'If you want
blood, you got it!'). At under half an hour
long, less is maniacally more here, as the
increasing volume of Drumm's three note
looped arpeggio is joined not two minutes
in by Menche's threatening organ drone,
and muted, yet persistent thudding. Rapidly,
the pair plaster layers on top of one another,
then, hardly giving them a moment to dry,
strip them off and rip them to shreds. Until,
with one minute left, the conversation cuts
dramatically, leaving a dial tone slowly
curling into itself.
Of course it's called Gauntlet, and yes it's
been thrown down, there, at yr feet.
New Believers (Friendly Fire)
On first glance it's your typical jangly indie-
pop party with a vague Sixties twist, all
spangly guitars and a perfectly nice
smattering of tambourines and instruments
that sound like they need to be jiggled -
elements that would normally send me
diving for cover. I'm liking this, though.
Something about its hooks are bringing,
nay, dragging me back. The first play I was
crestfallen that nothing was as fun as the
opening 'Cherries InThe Snow' but the
second play revealed some secrets, and
with each successive listen it sinks in a little
deeper, helped along by the absolutely -
shoot me, but there's really no other word for
it- aW/c/ous voice of Renee LoBue. A pretty
rare beast these days then: a pop record that
you actually need to work with a little.
I refuse to believe they used to be on
Touch And Go, though.
Future Of The Left
Curses (Too Pure)
Although early demos of Andy 'Falco'
Falkous' Future Of The Left promised a sound
that was more concerned with texture -
if angle-grinding is a texture -than the
bouncing-bomb pop of his and drummer
Jack Egglestone's Mclusky, Curses is
the album that band should have made.
Equipping himself partway through
recording with a synthesiser, Falco reapplied
melody to odd little songs that are 'caustic',
charged and surreal enough just in their
biting, barked words without being raped
by chainsaw guitars.
So while 'Adeadenemyalwayssmells-
good' is a megalithic tower of AC/DC rock,
a Monty Python foot descending from the
sky and stamping funny into your face
forever, 'Manchasm' is funny peculiar funny
ha-ha, inventive, idiosyncratic synthesiser
pop that couldn't have come from anywhere
in the universe except planet Falco 's brain.
There's no real reason why a contrapuntal-
harmonied (think'Row Row Row Your Boat'
74 1 plan b
cliffs of dorset
Words: Everett True
Illustration: Kai Wong
White Chalk (Island)
Uh-oh. There's much of this around: piano,
quietened voices (the better to question with), bare
production. . .darkness. Melodies that meander
fitfully, the odd glissando, refrains repeated more
than you'd expect so they begin to form mantra-
like patterns, voices that break and lilt and soar
unimaginably high. Voices that are so gentle and
looping it becomes difficult to decipher any lyrics,
aside from the odd phrase ("Dear darkness/Won't
you come out to play again. . . "; "The ceiling is
moving/Moving in time/Like a conveyor belt/Across
my eyes"; "Please don 't reproach me/For how
empty/My life has become. .."). The mood is dreary,
given up: life continues whether you want it to or
not. Silence lingers. A voice trills to itself warily in
the background, not really caring whether anyone
is listening or now. You have to really concentrate
to begin to even vaguely get this.
John Peel once wrote admiringly in Melody
Maker about the way, "Polly Jean seems crushed
by the weight of her own songs and arrangements,
as if the air is literally being sucked out of them . . .
admirable if not always enjoyable". I never quite
understood what he meant, not until now. I always
thought Polly was way more in control than that. . .
but here, with her seventh album, and with nary
a guitar in sight, Peelie's description seems to hold
true. "Oh God, I miss you, " she repeats over and
over again on the most recognisably PJ Harvey
song The Piano', and you gasp at the starkness of
her pain. The song could be one of the original 4-
track demos, such as is the bareness of its emotion:
"Wo one is listening, " she wails. "Wo one is
listening. " God, she does this sort of thing so well.
And then Polly slips into further catharsis, on
the whispering, neo-classical 'Before Departure';
and you begin to wonder at the demons that
plague her. Or is it true that this is all an act,
theatre, a taking on of and relinquishing of roles:
but if so, how can anyone infuse despair with such
passion? You have to feel it, surely? If this was
Mark Lanegan or Chan Marshall we were talking
about, no one would be denying the artist's
torments - but Polly continues to deny the
autobiographical element. Be that as it may,
White Chalk - shorn of all the blues-ravaging
guitars and sorceress lust that have endeared
her to a generation of rock critics - is Polly's most
personal album to date. Stories From The City
(2001 's Mercury Award-winning travel journals)
this is most certainly not. And thank god for that.
As ever, she works with folk she knows: Flood,
and John Parish, Eric Drew Feldman and Dirty
Three drummer Jim White. And together, they tap
effortlessly into the creative Zeitgeist, as she did so
brilliantly on 1 998's challenging, studio-based Is
This Desire? This being 2007, the creative Zeitgeist
has shifted, and somewhat surprisingly - to the
psych-rock folk underground, to the honouring
of the feminine, away from the brashness of
Polly's beloved blues rock, to something more
complex. Her songwriting is still clearly in place,
but you need to delve deep to appreciate it. So
one listens to White Chalk for a 1 0th, an 1 1 th time,
Just as ferocious, but
PJ Harvey has found
new ways to articulate
through the haze of piano and distant percussion
and strung-out vocal harmonies, and one notes,
startled: where previously one dismissed solitude
and desolation for torpor, one realises that this
album is just as angry, just as ferocious, just as
vitriolic as previous; but PJ Harvey has found new
ways to articulate her passion. It's only on the final
song The Mountain' that she lets rip with her
trademark scream, and even then it's oddly
Here's what Polly Harvey's seventh album
reminds me of: the piano-saturated 2-D beauty
of new Rough Trade signings Lavender Diamond
(The Piano'), the disarmingly complex Laura
Nyro-esque song structures of maverick Swede
Frida Hyvdnen ('Broken Harp'), dust on remote
controls and age-worn cassette tapes. Cat Power
(that'll be the presence of Jim White, then), the
more experimental side of Electrelane ('Before
Departure'), El Perro Del Mar. . Joanna Newsom,
of course... but then, everything from 2007 seems
to recall Joanna in one way or another.
Here's what Polly Harvey's seventh album
doesn't remind me of: Nick Cave, Tom Waits
and Patti Smith. I guess, in many ways, that this
is a progression. But there again, I rather liked her
mangled by strange children) coda of "Colin
is a pussy!/ A very pretty pussy!/ Colin is a
pussy!/ A very pretty pussy cat! "shouldbe
laugh-out-loud hilarious but it just is.Also:
" Woolly is a wizard I /Jenny is an elf! /They
only eat sausagel/SAUSAGE ON A STICK! "
There isn't a second of this album that
isn't instantly memorable, that isn't rammed
with fast hooks, ideas and in-jokes so
scrambled that the prose becomes genius.
Fourteen songs clock in at under 35 minutes,
making it the best rock album since Reign In
Blood 'AND the best pop album since mclusky
Do Dallas, and this strange brain's album of
The Good Life
Help Wanted Nights (Saddle Creek)
When I sawThe Good Life, Tim Kasher
began with that line about throwing up
on the pub's toilet floor -and there I was,
wondering whether to fetch the roll. While
you have to wait 'til the last tracks for Help...
to come into its own (there's none of Lovers
Needs Lawyers' blitzkrieg faux-happiness
here), he can still manage similar snapshots.
As the vocals on 'Share Of Men' trail behind
the guitar like a lover following doggedly
in her wake, it's a record about wanting
someone too restless and ruthless for you;
but mostly, about trying to leave them.
plan b 1 75
spray paint (the trees)
Words: Emily Bick
Illustration: Ryan Peltier
Rise Above (Rough Trade)
So it's supposed to be a cover of Black Flag's
Damaged album, called back from Dave
Longstreth's memory alone, several years on.
Dirty Projectors sounds nothing like Black Flag.
But this is a great trip through the stranger
corridors of his brain.
Listening to this is like starring in one of those
Eighties Saturday morning cartoons where some
kids would crash through a mirror or a video screen
or a fairground ride and end up in a magical
cartoon universe. It's something that different, and
that wonderful. Dave Longstreth has a voice that
yelps and yips and just careens around like some
videogame character in overdrive -think of Sonic
The Hedgehog kickboxing pixels. There are jingly
pings of sound falling down like Super Mario coins,
or exploding in the way that Technicolor bursts of
tropical fruit assault screens in fruit juice adverts.
"Oohs" and "aahs" flare up like too much wasabi,
blowing the top of your head off. And all that's
followed by a string quartet with something that
sounds like a kora and skippy drum-brushing. A
chorus of the calmest, wisest girls -the wonderful
Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian -sing
like tree-spirits through wind-rushed branches,
conferring their blessings over back-sucked cymbal
titters. 'What I See' opens with the sounds of a
hundred digital watches jingle-popping open into
sparky guts, with be-doppa vocals and a finale with
cinematic woodwinds and Philip-Glass-in-overdrive
keyboard arpeggios. 'No More' jumps around like
an open-top jeep in the Serengeti, off to party with
beasts of prey. 'I Need Action' balances Longstreth
and the ladies singing against each other in a fight
between control of one's emotions - Longstreth
wails, "I'm not no robot/ I need to live" - and the
need to burst from that control. It's a cartwheeling
wonder of orchestration that teeters on the edge.
The miserable songs bring a smile. 'Depression'
("Is gonna kill me!") in a joyous bounce of a song.
'Thirsty and Miserable' is calmer, with quiet emo
count-off drumstick ticking and guitar parts with
teardrop gentleness. 'Police Story' starts with
a tangled woodwind intra and Band On The Run
At times, you glimpse
the Black Flag originals,
guitars before Longstreth howls about cops
beating him on the head with billy clubs. Then
his voice shapeshifts into a theatrical angst that
draws the phrase "They took me away-ay-ay-ay-
ay-ay-ay-ay-ay" through about three octaves
This album is full of elements of the kind of
world music that David Byrne and Arto Lindsay
were experimenting with in the Eighties, but Rise
Above is not about cultural tourism. Instead we
get African rhythms, radio-dial genre hopping,
and ridiculous lyrics. 'Six Pack' is an awesome
party song. Dirty Projectors whoop Black Flag's
chorus, "/ know it'll be OK/I get a six-pack in me,
all right" over what sounds like a hoedown where
ZZ Top trade instruments with Youssou n'Dour.
Best of all, it's an album that's unafraid to be
complex without needing to point this out. It's like
the best of prog without any retrograde Lord Of
The Rings hangover. Most of these songs start off
fast, then shift into slow parts, or have elements
that dropkick in out of nowhere. There are flashes
of that ritual summoning thing that bands like Aa
and Gang Gang Dance do so well (even if the spirit
being summoned is the keg'n'coke-fuelled party
monster of Brooklyn). But this really sounds like
nothing else. For all of this review's references to
stuff that's come before, that's mostly failure of
imagination on my part. Invoking a known musical
vocabulary is a grasping attempt to clutch shards of
familiar things to navigate Dirty Projectors' strange
and magical universe. At times, you glimpse a flash
of the Black Flag originals, somewhere through
the undergrowth; more often, though, this is
uncharted territory. The rules of songwriting as
we know it -and possibly the laws of nature -
don't apply here.
The last song, 'Rise Above', makes me think
this was the plan. It sounds like a showstopper in
a future blockbuster musical. "Jealous/They distort
what we say/Try to stop what we do/We are tired
of your abuse" They all sing, fuguelike - it's a
slowed-down, drawn out plea to rise above -and
who is it to? A self-motivation to resist definition?
To us, the listeners to rise above the weight of
nostalgic bricolage to just enjoy this? If that's it,
they don't even need to ask.
The Western Lands (Warp)
Previously I've known Gravenhurst s Nick
Talbot for his writing rather than his music
-his excellent blog The Police Diver's
Notebook, or Ultraskull, a web comic
that occupied the seldom-trod hinterland
between TheWireand l//z(and featured
a review of an imaginary record called 'I Love
You But I Have Chosen A 14Year-Long Echo
Chamber'). His fourth album 77ie l/1/esfem
Lands, however, feels like the clearest
rendering of his musical vision so far -
a drifting, melancholic piece seemingly
inspired by rustic folk-rock, the Eighties
output of Creation Records, and the lucid-
dreaming sound drifts of his Bristol kin
Movietone, Crescent, and Flying Saucer
Attack.Talbot's clear vocals are neatly
measured and applied sparingly. On 'She
Dances', they loom from a tight-locked
repeating motif of spidery guitar and piano,
like a face from mist: "Skirt swinging in the
half -light! /She dances/White blossom in the
black sky". A cover of Fairport Convention's
'Farewell, Farewell', meanwhile, wreaths the
original in looming clouds of Kevin Shields
guitar. The result is a sustained gloom that
feels hermetic and complete, a rural
Unknown Pleasures for the waterlogged
76 | plan b
The bottomless pit they outline is scarred by
angry guitar, the shifting beat a fluid anchor
Words: Ned Raggett
Illustration: Linda Coulter
Happy Birthday (BPitch Control)
Modeselektor know what they are doing. Strictly
speaking, a lot of bands know what they are doing,
or they had better know, at least. Even if they
suck (and oh, how many bands do suck), they at
least embrace their suckiness with a vibrant life.
Someone like Anthony Kiedis wakes up and thinks,
"Wow, I know I really DO want to warble into
a microphone like a constipated goat! " I salute
him, wherever he is, hopefully far away from me.
Modeselektor don't do this, namely, they don't
suck. But the German act knows exactly what it's
doing, because they sound like now more than
most other electronic acts out there. That may
sound a bit droll, but while electronic music is
a thoroughly protean form of art -it can be made
to sound like anything and everything on the sonic
front, and the genres it encompasses breakdown
all attempts at easy structure, has done for years.
But what Happy Birthday- a second album
only recently following a first that itself was simply
a culmination of a decade-plus long partnership -
is is something that numerous other techno fiends
don't always want to grasp, that it's 2007 full
stop. It's not a question of acknowledging the
overarching dominance of hip hop and r'n'b
productions- it's more how much one works
with them, and how to find the same astonishing
syntheses someone like Timbaland does at his best.
So more often than not Happy Birthday does
something that the Durutti Column once did
al most two decades back - as much as it works
within an established form, it also obeys the time.
If a song like 'Godspeed' has the compressed
crunch of Daft Punk's underrated industrial snarl
on Human After All, it also has the slamming,
stuttering beat of what often sounds like the entire
American East Coast, something on display time
and again. 'BMP is another example, nervous,
angry, and probably a more atmospheric effort
than nearly everything called dubstep. At the same
time there's an air of compressed, spare elegance
throughout the album, moments where the
obvious suddenly becomes monumental -the
lazily arcing, descending keyboard parts on 'Let
Your Love Grow' are pure dub but the bottomless
pit they outline is scarred by flecks of angry
shoegaze guitar, the shifting beat shooting
through the middle a fluid anchor.
Of the collaborations, it's Thorn Yorke's 'The
White Flash' that's getting the most attention
because, well, it's Thorn Yorke, messiah without a
cause (or too many). But whereas almost 10 years
ago he essentially delivered what was expected on
UNKLE's 'Rabbit In Your Headlights', all melancholy
all the time, here brisk beats lift him and his soft
sighs up, 'Idioteque' transmogrified into serene
exultance. Even so he's not really the high point of
these efforts - instead there's TTC's easy, distortion-
treated French flow on '2000007', with their
paranoid, high-pitched break laid against a
nagging keyboard sparkle, a lovely bit of RZA-like
melodrama; or Puppetmastaz's growling rasps on
'The Dark Side Of The Sun', a track that gets more
overpowering the more you listen to it.
It's not quite a perfect album, some moments
are more there than here, others are good exercises
in form more than anything else, but it sounds
good on a first listen, gets better on a second
and third and probably will improve from there
even more. What better explanation for it-
Modeselektor, truly, must know what they
in the studio: gravenhurst
We listened to:"The Cure. I did over 50
different mixes of the opening track 'Saints'.
It drove me to despair. It is meant to sound
like The Cure, but kept sounding like The
Mission. I listened to Faith a lot, trying to
nail that Solina string synth sound. I soloed
Dave's snare drum and listened to it for
a maddening length of time. Getting drums
to sound right may account for a good few
suicides. It's what people typically give up
and hire Steve Albini over."
We watched: "My fingers fall off from
frostbite. I recorded some of the album in a
lock-up on a boatyard in the meritless town
of Keynsham, outside Bristol. I was living in
a caravan. The toilet froze regularly."
We ate: "The late night garage was often
the only source of nutrition. Ginster's
pasties are a real sock to the guts and taste
particularly revolting when eaten cold."
Iron And Wine
The Shepherd s Dog (Transgressive)
Mr Iron And Wine has been on a journey.
He has passed a pink moon and crossed a
bridge over troubled waters before reaching
Graceland (Paul's, not Elvis'). And along
the way, he's picked up a whole load of
dimensions that he merely hinted at in
previous records. The Shepherd's Dog has
layers where Our Endless Numbered Days
had space. At times, it teeters on the fencing
erected between 'sentimental RomCom
music' and 'quirky nostalgic love song', but
see how 'Flightless Bird, American Mouth'
avoids having its pants ripped by heroically
transforming itself into a song to drink and
get drunk to. It's like someone mentioned
Iron And Wine washed over them and he
decided to make a deep-pore cleansing
loofah of an album. Which is a wholly
inadequate way to describe an utterly
Jazkamer And Smegma
Endless Coast (No Fun)
Stroke of genius, this, pairing Los Angeles
Free Music Society noise originators Smegma
with Lasse Marhaug's metalhead doom
project. If it's something like an old-
fashioned Marvel Comics superhero team-
up, it's clearly Smegma who've got the
shiniest capes, bringing analogue physicality
to proceedings with horn squawks and
mastodon bass notes. It's a real-time noise-
improv that connects right back to early
LAFMS milestones like Le Forte Four's crazy
concrete scrapbooks of radio voices, static
buzz and the bumps of shadowy figures
wrestling with unspecified heavy equipment.
Jazkamer generate a relentless, high-
frequency drizzle - but slick production
allows naked sonic clues to emerge from
the electric murk with tantalising clarity.
plan b 1 77
Made Of Bricks (Polydor)
It's not a competition.
I played Kate Nash and Lily Allen back to back the other
night, just to note the, uh, y'know, similarities. There aren't
that many, beyond the fact both are, uh, y'know, female,
and neither would probably win TheX Factor, and both are aimed directly
at the shopping malls, teenagers just wanting to make sense of adult life
without appearing too, y'know, uh, stupid, and both are a little bit cynical
about life and a little bit sardonic, like you are, y'know, at that age. Lily
practices a radio-friendly, summery pop-reggae (minus the heavy dub bass,
weirdly); Kate has performed at antifolk nights and skips between styles
(grime, indie, folk, reggae) somewhat rudimentarily- her songs are more
complicated, though. More musical content. . .not that it's a competition, you
understand. You can love both. 'Smile' was a corking single. 'Foundations'
is a corking single... and I know who I'd rather see up there on YouTube,
Allen, Nash and Winehouse or Girls Aloud, Pussycat Trash and whomever.
That's no competition.
So is Made Of Bricks any good? Sure. It's lightweight, and sometimes
Nash's studiously affected Mockney accent can begin to grate - like all such
accents - and she does seem to have somewhat only one way of phrasing
her songs, but the lyrics are chipper and self-deprecating and, urn, y'know,
human enough, and although her lyrics are sometimes rather lazy, and I don't
get this whole Regina Spektor thing, there are a couple of excellent closers;
a Streets style laid-bare love song 'The Nicest Thing', and the chirpy, stream-
of-consciousness Ian Dury-esque 'Merry Happy'. I don't get the John Cooper-
Clarke comparisons either (he was out-and-out brutal in his cutting
observational street poetry), but I tell you what.
I'll be returning to this one again.
These days, neo-classical oratorios informed
by Renaissance melodies, devotional Islamic
modes and Gregorian chant, performed
entirely in Latin and based on the writings
of a 1 6th Century philosopher and heretic,
are stultifyingly fashionable. However, this
one stands out from the pack thanks to the
singular talents of composer/violinist Eyvind
Kang. A dark reflection of the elevating
Virginal Coordinates, this is as oppressively
arcane as its predecessor was innocently
optimistic. Remarkable enough for its
compositional qualities alone, Athlantis is
taken to another level by its incomparable
vocal performances. ASVA/Black Cat
Orchestra's Jessika Kenney invokes ancient,
otherworldly forces with her pure, spectral
tone, while Mike Patton's already elastic
throat surpasses itself. Like every other
release from Kang, absolutely essential.
Romance Ain't Dead
This is streamlined, compressed Acne and all
the more invigorating for it. He's always been
a gifted MC, but now he's honed his flow
to a barrage of black wit and observation,
somewhere between Jarvis, Nigel Blackwell
and Slick Rick. In turns, he's a party starter
and a sober observer, the "bumpkin who
rocks the sef"who's "in thehouselike
agoraphobics" 'making music for "ghetto
showbiz broken home kids/Using focus
points as roaches! "And the title ain't arch,
he means it. Acne is a hopeless romantic,
wise but never cynical, a man who's sharpest
diss is a devastating nincompoop, who
rhymes innocent like Doug E Fresh, audibly
blushing as he talks of his only true love, 7
met her at the first village hall party, and we
danced together to The Rebel MC ". The type
of gentleman who's happy to call himself a
drunken clown. And probably is, on occasion.
There is no bombshell on Bombshell, or if
there is, it is the forgotten kind, the will-it-or-
won't-it, just ordnance rusting in the long
grass. The songs are cut from a familiar
cloth - accordion, acoustic guitar, Kenny
Anderson's gilt voice - and while there
is none of the hand-sewn quality that
characterised Anderson's early records, these
songs ring with the same confusion and
longing that drew people to Creosote and
his daft Fence Collective. Only there are
more choruses, more crescendos - like actual
proper radio pop-song choruses, Snow Patrol
crescendos and, on 'Home In A Sentence', a
melody that might just buoy the BBC Radio
Two summer playlist. Anderson was always
a little hit and miss, so there's nothing wrong
with the expanded repertoire.
in the studio: king creosote
We listened to: "The GTA San Andreas
soundtrack. Now that the record is done and
dusted, I'm playing old classical 78s at the
wrong speeds, a sun-warped vinyl copy of
The Rolling Stones' Tattoo, and Gavin Bryars'
The Sinking Of TheTitanicand Jesus' Blood
Never Failed Me Yet."
We ate: "Smoothies and those freshly
baked cookies from Tesco at midday. At
lunchtimes we'd nip round to a cafe on the
Roman road. Being a non-fish, non-fungi
eating vegetarian, I'd have a toasted
baguette with cheese and red onion,
a cheese omelette, or the dish of the day
all washed down with an Earl Grey tea. In
the evening we'd eat in one of Hackney's
fine Vietnamese restaurants."
We were watching: "Below ground,
where recording took place, either 'logic'
with all its multicoloured wave forms, or
each other though the control room window.
Above ground, where San Andreas takes
place, a hole in the kitchen floor widen daily
until someone covered it with an oven grille."
Down Below It's Chaos (Sub Pop)
It's weird to think of a Kinski album with
vocals on -the Seattle quartet's existence so
far has always seemed to be a validation of
the principle that nothing is quite so exciting
as hot-wired, ultra-amped Krautrock/motorik
instrumental rampages (as they prove it once
again here). But guitarist Chris Martin (not
that Chris Martin) adds nice enough speak-
sing emphasis here and there, a change
that works in its own low-key, Thurstony
way. Meanwhile, whether it's getting Randall
Dunn as a producer or just because they
felt like it or both, the acid sludge feedback
AARGH! of songs like 'Crybaby Blowout'
and the goony keyboard kick on 'Argentina
Turner' mean that they've got to soundtrack
an inevitable remake of Vanishing Point
Lamps (In The Red)
Miss Alex White And The Red
Space And Time (In The Red)
Dungarees on, gents: time for more of that
cranked Yankee rock'n'roll from the In The
Red stable. Los Angeles' Lamps could strip
paint off a chassis; they're an oily hybrid of
garage snarl and rusty no wave that shrieks
along like bloodied mechanics fighting their
way from the centre of a collapsing junkyard.
Chaining such no-fidelity recording
techniques to relatively conventional garage-
rock song structures can feel somewhat
aimless to me, but I note they have a
frontman named Monty Buckles and the
sleeve features a set of grotesque pictures
like a gunman holding a child hostage and
an elephant with stitches all over its face so
it's not like Lampshas nothing to recommend
it. Miss Alex White and friends, meanwhile,
power along on a straightforward Bellrays/
Detroit Cobras trajectory, except she's really
more one of the dudes, faced scrunched
and lips slurred around these 1 2 scuzzy
Public Outburst (F Com)
Let the record state that I am a complete
sucker for 'The Man With The Red Face',
Garnier's seminal, brass driven 4/4 track.
Sadly, I came to this record expecting more
of the same. Instead, I get an album of live
sessions inspired by Seventies jazz that
actually meanders between flanging trip
hop circa 1 992 and straight drum'n'bass, all
embellished with indulgent session fiddling
from Laurent's touring crew. 'M Bass' sounds
like a bad pastiche of Squarepusher. Drawn
out noodles of improvisation boil up in a
conventional Nineties drum and bass mulch,
until finally giving in completely and allowing
a rave MC to take hold. A sad miss among
a history of hits.
While Dizzee Rascal is desperately trying
to talk up a beef with Wiley on 'Pussy Ole
(Old Skool)' MaxAnsah.The Biz, is reserving
his anger for David Cameron. The would-be
Tory PM, advised to show some love for
The Smiths by his marketing team, dropped
a serious bollock when he launched into
a clueless attack on grime's 'violent lyrics' so
here, Bizzle responds with a beefy broadside
in the form ofThe Ruts-sampling 'Babylon's
Burning The Ghetto'. Detractors will claim
that the young MC's conversion into political
activist is just as unconvincing as Dizzee's
makeover as US style rap mogul. This attempt
to flog his wares in different markets is
backed up by the appearance of flavour of
the month popstrelle Kate Nash and the piss
poor Babyshambles. But the lyrical wit of
tracks such as 'Police On My Back' mark him
out from the crowd (even though there's no
'Pow!' to be had this time).
Boss (Ecstatic Peace)
Here's where Magik Markers join the murder
rock pantheon. No primordial sludge, just
desert highway driving tunes that kick like
whisky in Charles Manson's fuel tank. "Play
me the chords of America, " exhorts Elisa
Ambrogio and that's what they've got:
punk-punch, psych-howl, Sixties nightmare
downer blues trying to break out of jail and
fuck a lawman in the eye.
Don't let that piano ballad fool you, and
that acoustic guitar's still wet from a long
bad dream: Ambrogio's voice is sweet and
dangerous, licking blood and syrup from
a hunting knife's razored edge. There's a
wild threat hanging in the sky and this bleak
frontier poetry is the only answer: write it
on the wind and leave town before the heat
Guilted By The Sun (Elevation)
With colossal, geological riffs moving
inexorably forward at a dizzying 9 BPM,
Guilted By The Sun is ostensibly a heavy,
heavy doom record. But Nadja's overly
intimate relationship with excessive
distortion, and gift for subsumed melody,
transforms what could just be an enticing
visceral treat into a strangely moving and
Overwhelming fuzz is both the core and
the periphery of Nadja, an all-consuming
blur that casts shadows in space, bleeding
the borders between focused music and
freeform noise.The result is an enveloping,
bifurcated sound that responds to your
perspective. Duck and rabbit encapsulated
in 30 minutes of pretty brutality.
The Locksmith Cometh (Tangram 7s)
Perverse enough to name the delicate
hum'n'strum which opens this beautifully
crafted storybook of an album 'Fanfare', yet
earnest enough to jollily claim that she's
"Found a man among men/It may sound
crazy but he's a perfect 10"'m 'Ghost Ships',
Nedelle Torrisi skips between the worlds of
innocence and experience, recording her
findings into exceptionally tuneful modern
folk tales and the dreams of Broadway.
Plangent strings and piano wrap
comforting arms around the sad fairy tale of
'Poor Little City Boy', a standout here among
a collection of songs that deserves to place
Nedelle in a similar position to that of Joanna
Newsom, a singular voice calling from a
place that, while not far away, nor long ago,
is too at odds with right here, right now.
78 1 plan b
NEW RELEASES OUT NOW FROM FORTE DISTRIBUTION
LAMPS - LAMPS
LOMQ AWAITED FOLLOW UP TO THIS LA THREEPIECE'S
FEARSOME VINYL ONLY DEBUT OF 2005 THIS IS
MONGOLOID FRENZY MUSK. WHEN A BAND HAS A DASH
OF NECESSAHY EVILS, A DOLLOP OF KARATE PARTY,
PHASE TWO OF THE LAMPS" RECORDED JOURNEY 1$
MARKED BY MORE ADVENTUROUS AND EXPANDED SONIC
APPROACHES, WHILE RETAINING THE THUGGISH
ESSENCE THAT SATISFIES THE PLANET OF THE APES
ANGELS OF LIGHT - WE ARE HIM
WE ARE HIM IS THE FIFTH ALBUM FROM ANGELS OF
LIGHT THE MAIN VEHICLE FOR MICHAEL GIRAS MUSK
SINCE HE DISBANDED SWANS IN 1BS7
BACKtN&CONTRIBUTING MUSICIANS INCLUDE
AKROWFAMILY. BILL RlEFUN (MINISTRY. SWANS,
ROBERT FRlPP, AND CURRENTLY DRUMMER FOR BOTH
ROflYN HITCHCOCK AND REM) JULIA KENT [ANTONY
AND THE JOHNSONS t CHRIS TOPH HAHN (LONGTIME
ANGEL AND FORMER SWAN i AND MANY, MANY MORE ..
(ZIP DUE END OF SEPTEMBER')
YOUNG GOD - CD
FROG EYES - TEARS OF THE
ON THEIR FOURTH RELEASE FROG EYES HAVE CRAFTED A
DENSE WORK THAT BREATHES AND SEETHES WITH ENERGY
ALL ITS OWN "YOU KNOW YOUR E LISTENING TO SOMETHING
SPECIAL WHEN ARCADE FME. THE PAPER CHASE AND
MENTAL ILLNESS S WULTANEOUSL Y SPRING TO MiHD. a
ROCKSDUND |9| 'FOR THOSE BRAVE ENOUGH TO TAKE THE
PLUNGE, THE MADCAP WORLD OF FROG EYES IS ONE WORTH
VISITING " O ". BALANCED ON THE EDGE OF SANITY THATS
WHAT KEEPS THIS SO ALLURING FOR ALL INVOLVED."
ABSOLUT : PICO
SWORD HEAVEN - ENTRANCE
SWORD HEAVEN IS A COLUMBUS DUO USING SHEET
METAL ELECTRONICS. HORN, DRUM. AND TREATED
VOCALS TO BRING ASUPEftCLUSTEft OF BLACK
CLOUDS INTO YOUR ZONE- FOR ThRIllSEEKERS
INTO SWANS, GODFLESH, DElCIDE. SUNNOJS. ETC -
DON'T MISS THIS RIDE! DOWNER DOWNER VIBES*
LOAD RECORDS - IPtCD
NUMBERS - NOW YOU ARE THIS
BRAND HEW ALBUM FROM THE NUMBERS, THE SONGS
ARE PENSIVE AND WORRY STAINED. BLUNTLY
ENTRANCING RIFFS, INSISTENT DRUMMING AND
TENSE. REVERBERATING SYNTHESIZERS THE
FUTURISTIC PROPULSION OF KKAM Wi KK FILTERED
THROUGH THE RAW-KNUCKLED ROUGHNESS Of
SUICIDE? A PHENOMENAL, APPROPRIATELY DARK
VISION OF TOMORROWS POP MUSIC.
KILL ROCK STARS -CD
MIKEWEXLER -SUN WHEEL
POISED TO BE ONE OF THE STARS OF TOMOR-
ROWS UNDERGROUND. WEXLER IS JOINED BY
JORDI WHEELER AND CHARLES BURST OF THE
OCCASION AND BRIAN TaMBORELLO OP PSYCHIC
ILLS ON THIS RECORDINGl WITH HINTS OF THE
SOFT MACHINE, QUIET SUN, AND MEDDLE -ERA
PINK FLOYD. WEXLER S VOICE IS COMPLETELY
CONTEMPORARY AND COMPLETELY HIS OWN,
AMISH RECORDS- CD
PORT O'BRIEN -THE WIND AND THE
DEBUT ALBUM FROM THIS EXCITING, YOUNG
CALtFORNIA FOURSOME. A FOLK SOUND, BUT
IMAGINE CAP'N JAZZ TRANSLATING A SET OF WILL
OLDHAM MATERIAL. TOURING THE UK IN
SEPTEMBER. TAKING IN THE BESTtVAL AND END OF
THE ROAD FESTIVALS AS WELL AS SUPPORT
SLOTS WITH MODEST MOUSE AND KING
AMERICAN DUST - CD
BISHI - NEVER SEEN
SANG ON I SI TAR 01 VA & DJ BISHI BLOWS HER
FOLKEY FOUNDATIONS WfTH DANCE FLOOR
DYNAMITE ON THtSiST SINGLE FORM HER
F0RTHCOM*!<3 ALBUM NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS".
NEVER SEEN YOUR FACE - LTD EDITION 7* CLEAR
VINYL CD SINGLE 4 7 TRACK REMIX CD AVAILABLE
GRYPHON RECORDS - CD/MCD/T
ALL OUR GOOD FRIENDS - PROMISE
HAUNTING DEBUT FROM LONDON BASED SOLO ARTIST
ALL OUR GOOD FRIENDS. 1 1 TRACKS OF FRAGILITY AND
COUNTRY TINGED DESOLATION. ALL THE SONGS ARE
WRITTEN AND RECORDED BY JOHNNY DAUKES, ONCE
DESCRIBED AS 'THE DENNIS POTTER OF INDIE ROCK'.
THROW IN THE INTROSPECTION OF NICK DRAKE, THE
SONIC PALETTE OF RADIOHEAD. AND THE WRY
ENUNCIATION OF ROGER WATERS.
...AND STILL HOT IN THE RACKS
THE GO -HOWL ON
BEAT YOU RIDE
,. . .' JL ,., , lPj'CD
MiSS ALEX WHITE &
THE RED ORCHES-
TRA -SPACES TIME
IN THE RED RECORDS
I FIRSTS EP
WOODEN SHIPS, AKRON / FAMILY, DEATH FROM ABROAD
Wi.vw.fort e -m ustc.co.uk
.WW.FDRTEDI 5TRI I3UTI0N.C0.UK
Words: Noel Gardner
Harshing your buzz:
new booty from the
u-Ziq: Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique (Planet Mu)
Shitmat: Grooverider (Planet Mu)
Ladyscraper: The Death Of Mary Poppins (Cock Rock Disco)
Various: Vomit (Proboscus)
Cutting Pink With Knives: Populuxxe (Holy Roar)
Why hasn't anyone done a Roofs Of Breakcore
compilation yet along the lines of the similarly-titled
dubstep retrospective that Tempa put out a while
back? There would be a ton of stuff worthy of
inclusion: proto-jungle/rave chipmunk classix, Atari
Teenage Riot and their Digital Hardcore brother/
sisterhood, repulsive Dutch skinhead gabba, all
manner of releases on labels like Deathchant and
Drop Bass Network, Moby's 'Thousand'. That's
before we get to the big dogs of Aphex Twin,
Squarepusher and what was once cheerfully known
as 'drill'n'bass', aka white suburban IDM equipment
jockeys injecting stupidlyfastand distorted
breakbeats into creepy electronica.
One central figure is Mike Paradinas, who
founded the Planet Mu label in Worcester and
normally records as u-Ziq: his 1 997 UrmurBile Trax
double 12-inch is an underrated classic of drill'n'
bass/proto-breakcore. Duntisbourne Abbots
Soulmate Devastation Technique is his first album
since 2003. Packing 1 7 tracks, and not short ones
either, it's likely to only sate an audience who are
already in place, but conversely, it's no rough ride
for the most part. Warm bubbles of digital synthesis
are upended towards the close by two especially
notable tracks. 'Acid Steak Night', a teamup with
recent Planet Mu signing The Doubtful Guest (a
Londoner named Libby), is chem-squelch techno
mayhem, like a 303 on wheels careering down 10
miles of speed-bumped road and those classic, early
Nineties, Universal Indicator records. 'Drum Light',
the final number, tallies with Paradinas' obvious
yen to startle and annoy.
No better time to move on to Shitmat, a highly
amusing Brighton dweller named Henry who
Like a 303 on wheels
careering down 10
miles of speed-
already has a handful of singles and two albums
on PlanetMu. Grooverider is essentially a tribute
to the evolution of jungle- from the raggafied
flamethrower bangers of the first wave to the
sideways step into drum'n'bass- with heroically
tasteless cover art featuring a blonde girl in junglist
clubwear, sporting Russ Meyer-appeasing cleavage.
Shitmat's output to date has crystallised what
breakcore 's detractors hate about it. Borrowing
liberally from the halcyon days of jungle/hardcore
and the novelty end of the pop charts - often
within the same track- his tracks are sped up and
disjointed to the point where they're impossible
to dance to. Also, one suspects that he might be
having a laugh at everyone's expense. If breakcore 's
tempos recall the way hardcore punk met with
thrash and spawned 'crossover', then Shitmat -
and more recent emergents like Ladyscraper - is
equivalent to bands such as Stikky or Adrenalin OD.
Assuming you agree with Zappa on the legitimacy
of humour in music, this is no problem. Grooverider
is another great record; it contains happy hardcore's
catchiness without its flimsiness and some choice
interpolations of Tina Turner and 'Toxic'.
Ladyscraper is a geezer from London who likes
grindcore and gabba in equal measure and whose
sulphate-corroded velocity can be expressed by the
fact he's got a 1 2-inch coming on Deathchant. The
Death Of Mary Poppins is his debut album, and can
be had for no money at all at www.cockrockdisco.
com. It'sa horrible kind of euphoria: nuclearsnare
rushes and kickdrums wide as motorways, hacked-
up metal guitars and trash culture sampledelia.
When closing track 'Stick' offers warming respite by
sounding like acid-mode Squarepusher, the hitherto
innocent reader may get handed some perspective.
If not, congratulations on reading this far.
Ladyscraper kicks off Vomit, a compilation
serving as the second release from Brighton-based
Proboscus Records, with a compulsive ripper called
'Chunderchunkmaster'. The prospect of this CD
being the one that converts London Elektricity fans
to the breakcore darkside seems fairly slim. Sterling
work here, though, with an above-average hit
rate and a ferocious mean BPM. Highlights come
from Australian mentalistToecutter, Ebola's NWA
butchering (which, in fairness, should probably be
credited as "after Kid606" in the way a cartoon
parodying 'The Scream' is "after Munch") and DJ
Floorclearer's 'I Shit On The Chest Of Fun'. Is that
modest or self-aggrandising, would you say?
Finally, something that demonstrates how
and where breakcore 's influence has seeped in.
Populuxxe is the second album by Cutting Pink
With Knives and its16 ADD-riddled songs are
a cross between Trencher, Blood Brothers, Duran
Duran and Doormouse. Sometimes hopelessly
lightweight, often sincerely smart in its genre
mashing, CPWK have white-belted tech-punk
smackdowns and unwise drum programming
getting on like Donkey Kong.
80 1 plan b
down and dirty
Words: Frances Morgan
Illustration: Chris Summerlin
Going Way Out With Heavy Trash (Yep Roc)
Good Bad, Not Evil (Vice)
If heaven exists, and I get there one day, I won't
be surpised if God's jukeboxjust plays Elvis
Presley's Sun Sessions, Girls In The Garage and
the entire Nuggets box on heavy rotation, for
all eternity. Not just because those things rule,
or because heaven would be, ideally, somewhere
you get to dance a lot, but more 'cause heaven
is all about peace, harmony and getting along,
and no one really dislikes those records, do they?
I know a few people who say they do, but they're
going to hell anyway so fuck 'em.
So the latest album from Jon Spencer and
MattVerta-Ray's Heavy Trash project is what you
might call a safe bet, with 1 3 loose, louche, twitchy
rock'n'roll numbers beefed up by some chunky
blues and Cramps attitude. They especially excel
in stripped-down boogie and hiccupping, tense
rockabilly: check 'Pure Gold', Spencer's distorted,
wound-up voice choking and gulping ("I wanna
getLAWST!" he eventually yawps) over rubbery
bass and the whipcracks of Verta-Ray's slide guitar;
or the switchblade surf-groove of 'Crazy Pritty
Baby'. The production is both faithfully vintage
and smartly post-modern: sliced-up solos and
unexpected sounds jump out of the mix, signalling
an art/punk sensibility at the album's heart, and a
kind of exaggerated, almost David Lynchian sense
of scale and self-awareness.
When the duo's more rockin' side takes the
lead (Stones-y anthem 'Outside Chance'; the
punkish 'I Want Oblivion'), it's less thrilling. Maybe
it's because we know Jon Spencer can ROCK
already, hearing him go rock-a-hula POP is kind
of sweet- plus Heavy Trash's pop rocks pretty
hard. As they knowingly pile on the echo and
layer up the gasps in 'Kissy Baby', it's clear both
Spencer and analogue enthusiast Verta-Ray,
Making retro music is
about getting right to
the heart of your own
vision of the past
urbane, grown-up and attractively jaded as they
may be, are still sonically down with the rough-
stuff teen tension of Elvis' 'Baby, Let's Play House';
the frustration that aches through the twang,
boom and bang of early rock'n'roll; the original,
sexually connotative meaning of the term itself —
and gentlemen, I fully approve.
I thought I'd also love the new Black Lips album:
after all, the Atlanta, Georgia 'flower-punks' aren't
just a bunch of hipster cuties who do disgusting
things to one another on stage - they've also
been knocking out raw bubblegum psych with
single-minded fervour for the last seven years. But
as Good Bad, Not Evil bounces from energetic
Sixties facsimile to ersatz country waltz, it's
hard not to see them as merely a Wee-friendly
(ie male, given to live piss-drinking, etc) version of
The Pipettes. Like them, Black Lips' retro-fetishism
is often met with semi-successful songwriting: and,
as with The Pipettes, the occasional perfect single
is rad, but an album of near misses is hard going.
The band's perky freak-pop is interspersed with
the kind of stylistic diversions that, back in 1965,
a cigar-chomping manager would have told his
1 9-year-old longhaired proteges to include so as
to get more radio play: "Boys, we need at least one
song about Red Indians, OK?" But it's not 1 965,
Black Lips aren't stupid, and tracks like 'Navajo'
slide into novelty territory without any of the
humour of obvious forebears like The Monkees.
Black Lips are at their best playing it straight
and mean: 'Off The Block' is prime psych jangle;
'Katrina' gets that lo-f i boom just right, and 'Slime
And Oxygen' leads out with guitar squeal over
vocal holler straight from the garage. It's not that
these tracks are more 'authentic', but that they
sound like a band who know what they want to
be. As Heavy Trash could no doubt teach them,
making retro-inspired music that lives beyond
its original thrill is about getting right to the heart
of your own (audio) vision of the past, down to its
grain, its sonic textures and its subtexts -and then
irreverently alchemising it like you couldn't give
a damn. Or in other words, the devil's in the detail,
even if you're making songs for that big jukebox
in the sky.
The New Pornographers
So, take Do Make Say Think, Bright Eyes,
Electric Soft Parade, and - bof I -you've got
Broken Social Scene, Desparecidos, Brakes.
Gotta love the indie rock side project.They're
a chance for artists to work free of the
expectations and limits their 'day job' might
impose. So how comes Challengerssounds
The only song that makes you want to
sing along is 'Unguided,' and even then it's
out of a vague guilt because the opening six
are so nondescript. Sure, 'Myriad Harbor' has
a dizzying, brilliant wall of voices, but it's
negated by a mundane chorus.There's lots
going on here, but the effect is that NP have
'done a Wilco', reducing their sonic palette to
create a disappointing. MOR album.
Can I KeepThis Pen? (Ipecac)
Northern State aren't hip, but they are cool;
an all-girl hip hop trio from New York, their
previous album Dying In Stereo proved them
prime purveyors of pop-orientated rap, with
slivers of polemic lite peppering their Beastie
Girl spiel. Can I Keep ThisPen?\s a lot of
fun, expanding their sound to encompass
new wave pop ('Battery Already') and
melancholic Luscious Jackson funk-soul
('Away Away'). Tracks like 'Suck Motha
Fucka' are naggingly addictive, playground
chants wired to bouncy castle beats. A lot
of the time Northern State are at their best
when they aren't 'saying' anything, their
conversant babble on dippy nuggets like
'Things I'll Do' laden with enough sass-
slaked wit to be a joy to overhear.
plan b 1 81
A sad and fading sense of
romance, the meditative
calm of a rural evening
Words: Stevie Chick
Illustration: Naomi Ryder
Trees Outside The Academy (Ecstatic Peace)
Call this the second Thurston solo joint proper,
even though he's pressed up a wealth of limited
vinyl and numbered-CDR noise/improv projects in
the years since 1 995's Psychic Hearts.
According to Sonik Lore, Trees Outside The
Academy is a project Thurston hasfalteringly
attempted to launch throughout the 21 st Century,
all Sonic Youth's albums from Murray Street
onwards hatching from songs strummed for
this proposed solo jaunt, but later corralled and
mutated by the multi-guitar Sonik Spektrum. This
time, however, with Sonic Youth's wheels spinning
gently following their exit from Geff en, Thurston
was able to keep the jams hidden long enough
that, with the aid of Steve Shelley, violinist Samara
Lubelski, Charalambides' Christina Carter and
J Mascis (at whose Massachusetts studio it was
captured), these songs have unfurled in their
own style - undeniably Sonik but grown in their
Its acoustic timbre veils proceedings in a late-
September haze, the songs possessed of a sad
and fading sense of romance, the meditative calm
of a rural evening. Thurston's soft strings tie up
in familiar tangles, fashioning fresh cat's cradles
from a web of delicate detuning; he sings in
warm, scratchy, intimate tones, a casual sing-
song tugging melodies lazily, winninglyalong.
It's Lubelski 's violin that's most commanding,
an austere framework enveloping Thurston's
loose strum and lyrical solos, and Mascis's
occasional fretwork, scything with drama and
caressing with grace.
The tracks are posited somewhere between
the avant-sci-fi of prime Sonik Song, and this
more rural, folksy feel, a backwoods guitar-circle
somehow fusing its cerebellum with ScuzzNYand
the ghostly rheums of noise still lingering in the last
unconverted art-lofts. 'Honest James', a sad but
loving lament stricken with Carter's wonderfully
woeful tones, leans closer to the folk edge, while
the lissom and airborne 'Fri/Emd' and relatively-
rambunctious 'Wonderful Witches' edge closer
to the Sonik Spectrum, but the mood is, overall,
pastoral -which is intriguing, as the Youth
themselves have described much of their catalog as
'pastoral', from the churn of Bad Moon Rising, to
the lucid conversational jams of 'Hits Of Sunshine'.
This is very much Thurston's album, however
many ghosts from his day job linger; a different
Thurston to the man who, 1 2 or so years ago,
fashioned his solo debut from broken mourns
for recently-dead friends and moments of
obstreperous art-rock abstraction. This isn't the
Thurston who moved to Manhattan as soon as
he could, the Thurston who marshalled something
of a noise-rock uprising from those very streets;
this is Thurston Moore, 40-something father living
out in the sticks, but still connected to all the
Thurstons he's ever been.
The album closes with a fragment of 1 3-year-
old Thurston, playfully toying with the tape-
recorder like any other sharp snotty brat, possibly
daring us to consider the distance he's crossed in
between. But the truth is, Moore's as much that
snotty 1 3-year-old as the becalmed avant-rock
head Trees Outside presents him as. So don't
mistake the warm autumnal hue as anticipation
of a dying of the light- it's more a filtering, a
diffusion, an experiment that delivers fine results.
Enjoy the glow it casts, because Trees Outside The
Academy is a golden hour.
Katodivaihe (Blast First Petite)
Pan Sonic have always seemed like their
brand of oscillator beat minimalism was
plugged straight into the mains current, but
Katodivaihe sounds like it's being broadcast
on shortwave from a timewarp. Condensing
the methods spread out on the expansively
epic /Cesfo quadruple CD, MikaVainioand
HpoVaisanen have perfected the art of
transforming electricity into music by almost
Thanks to the addition of a vibrant cello
which manages to sound almost electronic
itself, the album has a textural range which
expands on the analogue rhythms that
became their trademark sound to include
dense ambience, stuttery glitches and ragged
Love's Miracle (Ipecac)
I spy no irony in the title - in all kinds of ways
this is music that sounds fucked into being
out of emptiness, ground from the silence,
thriving on the space around David Yow's
never-clearer, never-better voice, the way
that space gets punched and pummelled
by the full-fat funk of Paul Christensen
and Matt Crank's two-man riddim/riffola
machine. Turned up 'til your physique feels
the pain, you have here a band tight'n'
sprawling as Rapeman or 11 Top, but what
makes Love's Miracle more than just a power
game is Yow's vocals -further than you'd
think from the torture and trauma he
always conjures up, and closer to his real
rennaissance soul, combining all the wit,
wreckage and wonder of being John Q
Dickhead-male more acutely than before.
Welcome him back into your living room.
Under The Backlight (Warners)
I'm no good at analysing lyrics, but I'm pretty
sure Jenny Lewis wants to talk about sex,
baby. One example: the video for Spoon-ish
single 'The Moneymaker' features a bunch of
porn actors trying to make it big. I guess the
song's about the same thing: "You got the
moneymaker/They shoot the money to you/
You show them what you can do ".
Away from lyrical concerns, Under The
Backlight pushes away from RK's previous
lo-fi, quiet-country pleasantness with varying
results. 'Dejalo' is a gruelling exercise in how
not to use a wah pedal, while 'Dreamworld'
rea//ysounds like Stevie Nicks' 'Dreams'.
Maybe the clue's in the title? I'm not good
at picking up subtle Musician's Circle hints,
either. But it's hard to really mess up when
Lewis is your singer, and for all the clever
drums and elegantly sparse guitar work, her
diverse, enchanting vox are mixed front and
centre throughout. Difficult not to enjoy.
82 | plan b
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desert island disc
Words: Hannah Gregory
Illustration: Dimitri Simakis
Isle Of (Southern)
Woman as island is quite a theme for Jenny
Hoyston. Here she maroons herself from the
fractious support of Erase Errata bandmates to
hold up her first self-titled full-length: it stands tall,
another mark of musical prolificacy, and statement
to just how much one musically-minded, non-
procrastinating female might achieve. Ever the
independent one, she quips out 1 2 songs in 27
minutes, as though this was just, y'know, a spur-
of-the-moment thing, a half-hour slot in her
creatively multi-tasking agenda (see also: previous
sideline project, Paradise Island, and last year's
collaboration with William Elliot Whitmore,
Hallways Of Always).
Cue the circus tent atmosphere of a high
school movie script, where awkwardness collides
with showiness in the character of the girl lead.
She wishes self-assuredness from her un-glamour,
and without time to grow painfully from ugly
duckling to swan, instead evolves right there,
30 seconds in, with piped organ synths and a
mean line in guitar, to somersault, modestly, into
applause. Cue applause.
From herself, she accepts no nonsense. No
excess; no superfluity. No sexiness, even.
Mostly, she's so on top - ahead of her very own
game -that her assailment of genre, hustling and
Loneliness - am I wrong to hear loneliness?
hurtling as she does through at least four conscious
style-shifts, could slip by without the mere raise of
an eyebrow. It's track four already, "I don't need
'em"- cruel, cool and characteristically shifty -and
I'm wondering if maybe she's fronting her show
a little too fast and hard, with nothing butcaginess
ahead. I remember, in interview, her controlled way
of speech, refusing to waver to emotion.
But then, I relent. She's a way with guitar, after
all, that tightrope walks from on high, a way with
vocabulary that is trickery- effortlessly tetchy- and
drum machine death-tones that drown out doubt.
Hear 'Everyone's Alone' for electro-rock darkness
that's like Simon Bookish cajoling Tracy + The
Plastics or Joan Jett (without the sex).
It's her unassuming manner, perhaps, her
dress-down, hair-lank appearance, her get-go,
her test-positives, her commitment, which carry
her through. Figuratives don't figure; this is her,
this is she, here she is.
I relent, and so does she. On 'Send The Angels',
a tenterhook of tenderness appears, in the country
accent of her first Austin home. The open,
cambered ballads that snuggle in beside T-joint-
sharp pop and obstinate rock stand for forged
and separated relationships, dragged feet and
lost smiles. And loneliness -am I wrong to hear
loneliness? - once cowering behind the corners
of a street-cool San Franciscan scene, falls out. It's
what I've been looking for, beyond B52s garage
hooks and Detroit produced grunge, and it makes
things more human, hearty, and -madly -happy.
Everett True talks to Jenny Hoyston
What informed this new album, musically?
" It's been four years since my last solo record,
so I had over 1 00 demo songs to choose f rom .
I withheld many songs because they sounded
like Erase Errata, and recording them without the
skills of Ellie and Bianca would be a tragic mistake.
Several songs remained in demo version because
I didn't feel the studio versions had the same heart.
I wanted to include songs that challenged me. "
I detect a Seventies pop sensibility in some
of the songs. Fair comment?
"I spent my first eight years in the Seventies and
was very into popular music at that time, so
impressions were made. While I find Lil Mama's
'My Lipgloss' and other hits of the modern era
fetching, I am still quite tied to my Buffy St Marie
and Roxy Music records."
What does the title refer to?
"It's in reference to the name I usually play live
under, Paradise Island. I have always been a fan of
hidden and double meanings. When I think about
an island that would be my paradise, I see details of
sun, breeze and clear water but mostly it would be
a place full of love and respect."
Shape Of Broad Minds
Craft Of The Lost Art (Lex)
There's a thin line between visionary
shamanic mysticism and tedious hippy crap.
Despite the hideous title Craft Of The Lost Art
is, if not visionary at least visual, like a blind
man coming miraculously to sight. In San
Francisco. Circa '66, when the hippies just
started to imagine bad acid might exist.The
expected genre mashing works best where
the hip hop pulse is strongest, such as on the
electro space rock of 'BuddaFly Away' and
the cocktail jazz Gangstarr-isms of 'It Lives
On'. Or most especially on the positively
animated MF Doom-featuring 'Let's Go' with
its wobbly disco beat, like a badly dubbed
Moroder bootleg cassette from 75, inducing
a nauseous euphoria well represented by the
tangential musings of the MCs.
Ringo P Stacey
Shocking Pinks (DFA)
Shocking Pinks splash about in a watery
pool somewhere between Urusei Yatsura,
Pavement and Flaming Lips. But New
Zealander Nick Harte is the musical version
of a fisherman that keeps catching us -for
we are the fish, the koi carp of this tale - and
throwing us back in the shitty, piss-riddled
river just when we thought the blinding
lights of heaven would sear our retinas. For
example! 'Emily' is a lo-fi wonder of a lazy
love song. But! It is followed by a turgid
bollock of nonsense, even though it lasts
no time at all. But! Then it is backed up by
super-rocky numbers that cool kids will puke
to in shit discos. You get the picture.
There's 1 7 tracks on here and you have
to spit to see the shine.
84 1 plan b
MINUS THE BEAR
Planet Of Ice
"The most interesting band in modern
American rock music" [TUNED. Album Of
The Month] introduce progressive &
psychedelic elements to their unique brand
of indie rock. "Drums whirl like turbines.
guitars slice like hatchets and the
outcome is a curvaceous pop-cauldron
like Mars Volta going mainstream" NME
The Narcotic Story
HYDRA HEAD CD
Taking in strings, piano, avantgarde jazz, brutalised
blues, and something that might once have been
termed rock before it was torched alive in a dark
alley, "The Narcotic Story" is a darkly compelling
journey through a nightmarish world" KERRANG!
"Confrontational punk blues from Cali noiseniks...
like Cans Malcolm Mooney with a switchblade
in his pocket" UNCUT
The Friends EP
SCHNITZEL CD & LTD PICTURE DISC
Ween - the prodigiously talented and deliriously odd
duo whose work travels far beyond the constraints of
parody and novelty into the heart of surrealist ecstasy.
deliver 5 brand new songs, none of which will
appear on the new full length set for later this year.
"If you have not heard of Ween you will not really grasp the
deep significance, hilarity and perhaps genius of Friends '"
First Night Forever
NONPLACE CD & 2xLP
Loaded with Burnt's inimitable grooves & state of the
art programming 1st Night Forever is an orgiastic
future-soul assemblage of 10 vocal workouts featuring
Steve Spacek & others. Friedman's storied musical
past includes his albums as FLANGER and
collaborative works with David Sylvian & Jaki Liebezeit.
STEREO TEST KIT CD
Swedish post-rock band Logh meld their melodic
sonic guitar attack with hushed vocals, brushed
snares, subtle guitar and beautiful song melodies.
Epic piano numbers, reflective acoustic
ballads and soaring heartfelt anthems.
'North' is Logh's best release yet.
ROAM THE HELLO CLOUDS
Outstanding abstract electronic album featuring
PHIL SLATER's virtuous improvised trumpet play.
All members of RTHC have a long musical history
within the jazz and electronic scene. Sydney musician
Laurence Pike is probably best known forTriosk
(releases on Leaf and -scape) & Phil Slater is
arguably the most significant Australian
jazz/improvising artist of his generation.
LOU REED & ZEITKRATZER
Metal Machine Music
ASPHODEL CD + DVD
Recorded live at the Berlin Opera House. This new
acoustic score created by the avant garde chamber
group ZEITKRATZER explores MMM's sonic
possibilities without diluting its remarkable power.
The performance features LOU REED on electric guitar.
Also released : XENAKIS (A)LIVE!, Zeitkratzer & Friedls impres-
sionistic tribute to Greek composer IANNIS XENAKIS.
METAL MACHINE MUSIC
THE HOUSE OF LOVE
The House Of Love
The classic debut album from the British guitar
legends. This re-release faithfully recreates the
first Creation Records album & includes the single
Christine'. Long out of print, the re-issue comes
lavishly packaged in a card gatefold sleeve
featuring the definitive original artwork plus
extensive new sleeve notes. Also reissued :
The German Album - House Of Love's 2nd album
Going Way Out With Heavy Trash
YEP ROC CD & 2xLP
Going Way Out finds HEAVY TRASH wrassling •
with the Sun Sound, echoing slap-back
sludge and gurgling the dark hoodoo groove!
The new album from JON SPENCER and X^J 1 \
MATT VERTA-RAY is their greatest salvo of passion
and grind yet. a torrent of cut-throat twang and a
nitro-burning joyride! Double vinyl edition includes 3
extra songs & a physical CD of the album (slipcase)
Make Love To The Judges With Your Eyes
LAUGHING OUTLAW CD
Montreal all-girl quartet Pony Up's debut UK release
Make Love To ...' is a gorgeous pop album, filled
with punchy rhythms and irresistible choruses
that are as heartbreaking as they are catchy.
Perfect for fans of Sleater- Kinney & Electrelane.
Features the single "The Truth About Cats & Dogs
(Is That They Die)"
EXPLOITED 2xCD (Deluxe Digipak)
If you love the sounds coming from DJs like Optimo,
Glimmers and 2ManyDJs, Berlin's DJ Shir Khan will
treat you right. MAXIMIZE! features SMD & Justice, Adam I
Sky & Mark Stewart. Sinden & Edu K and much more....
"Khan loves the full -throttle energy of up-front electro,
baile funk, proper rave and grubby disco., he makes
sense of the whole shebang on this audio scrapbook of
eclecticism" MIXMAG Electro Compilation Of The Montft ■
ALASKA IN WINTER
Dance Party In The Balkans
REGULAR BEAT CD
Stunning collaboration featuring Zach Condon (BEIRUT)
and Heather Trost (A HAWK AND A HACKSAW).
This debut album is a beautiful collection of songs which
combines echoes of the faded old-world glory of Condon's
critically acclaimed Gulag Okerstar' album, with
mesmerising, electronic soundscapes inspired by
the Alaskan wilderness.
How You Sell Soul to a Souless
People Who Sold Their Soul???
SLAM JAMZ CD + DVD
Marking their 20th anniversary Public Enemy
release a brand new Chuck D penned album.
" How You Sell Soul..." captures RE. at their
best: loud, political, uplifting and inspirational!
19 tracks and a DVD. KRS ONE & REDMAN feature.
Hands Across The Void
SUB POP CD
Tiny Vipers (singer-songwriter Jesy Fortino)'s
Sub Pop debut. Inhabiting the space carved out
by minimal guitar, gentle textures and stark,
immediate vocals, her music evokes the contrast
and quiet, empty beauty of a grey Pacific
north-west landscape. A striking record that's
as fully realized as it is spare and beautiful.
Available from all good record shops.
Check www.shellshock.co.uk/stockists for a list of the UK's best independent stores
tel: 020 8800 8110 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.shellshock.co.uk
You might be caught a tad off balance by this review
starting with some props for Skinny Puppy, but - thanks to
the veteran dancef loor industrial goth mob's decision to
take these fuckers, and fellow Load bands Sightings, White
Mice and Silver Daggers, out on a recent tour -props are located right here.
Pretty bold, especially, for a band who unplugged themselves from the hub
of the Eighties industrial scene to face off against a duo who can ralph up
something like 'Heaven', whose kidneys are positively infected by the more
diseased end of the industrial olde tymers.
Post-Throbbing Gristle (notthat it could be anything but, in a sense) in
its punk-is-dead-meet-OUR-punk analogue electronic dread, Wolf Eyes are
pretty hard to avoid as a primary comparison for these times. Hey, there's
more than enough room for both. People have already pointed to Swans,
to boot, yet that's nixed by the palpable sense of smirking fun dotted
throughout: most of 'Sights Not Long Gone' sounds like a screwed and
chopped version of someone flushing cherry bombs down a lavatory. Best
thing Load have put out this year, and, straight outta Columbus, Ohio,
a cheery reaffirmation of that semi-cliched Midwestern after-hardcore
rust belt aesthetic.
Marry Me (Beggars Banquet)
It's a strange and stirring band name for
aTexan multi-instrumentalist with a bluebird
voice and fingertips raw from guitar solos.
Despite touring with Sufjan Stevens and
Polyphonic Spree, St Vincent's fondness for
noise goes deeper than either of those acts;
while the ballads can be pretty, her songs are
constantly interrupted with another squeak,
groan, distortion pedal or vocal effect. It's
like Regina Spektor spent two years studying
under Fiery Furnaces, and while the record's
experimentalism makes it invigorating, it
also eats into the simple pleasures of the
pop songs.The title track, played live, is a
fascinating study in naivete, love and dark
comedy- just Annie Clark and a baby grand,
hoping that she and her love can "Do what
married people do ". But here it's distracted
to the point of confusion. Still, this is one of
the most intriguing debuts of the year, even
if also among the most flawed.
Save The World (Kompakt)
It's November 2006, and Michael Mayer is
telling Plan B about his new collaboration
with Superpitcher. " I don't know what, but
something will happen. A revolution, maybe.
Supermayer saves the world ! "
"You should call your album that," says
So they did, and it's every bit as grand
and life-affirming as its title suggests. The
easy glee with which they collaborated is
obvious and contagious. Save The World
is expansive, too - there are trumpets and
saxophones and melodicas and flutes -
but Supermayer have taken the Kompakt
formula apart and rearranged it without
destroying its essence. And yet, despite its
frills, this album is full of dancefloor monsters
-from the cosmic house of 'Planet Of The
Sick' to the post-apocalyptic 'Two Of Us'.
Supermayer may not start a revolution,
but they have set an extremely high standard
fortechno in 2007.
The Regional Variations (Biphonic)
Swimmer One's debut is a promiscuous
synth pop marvel, littered with doomsayers,
fakesters, bureaucrats, drowning men, black
sheep, theatre freaks and TV clowns in fuck-
me heels. An erudite deuce of Central Belt
electro-pervs who tally Scotland's coastal
towns as one might red light one-night
stands, Swimmer One are a bookish,
codpiece-disco treat: their wanton small-
town narrative perspectives see Japan
negotiating West Coast chip shop etiquette;
The Blue Nile grooming cyber phantoms.
Swimmer One's lascivious digital
kitchen sink dramas are peculiar, humdrum,
universal; less 1 5 minutes of fame, more
1 5 minutes of air: and they're all the more
buoyant, and cardinal, for it.
Action Jazz (Smalltown Superjazz)
It starts with sticks, and then into a big fat
meaty sax riff before the cacophony truly
begins. A bellowing, honking, spittling,
spurting, throat-ripping calamitous lump
of sound from Mats Gustaffson's abused
saxophone. The rhythm section isn't content
to play keep-up. Ingebrigt Haker Flaten's
double bass sprays volleys of notes, weaving
a palpitating pulse through vibration. Paal
Nilssen-Love kicks his drums down the stairs
of a highrise building in the most precise
manner possible. This isThe Thing's fourth
album in their ongoing voyage to marry the
aesthetics of garage rock'n'roll with the
sheer pure ecstasy of free jazz. It's a place
where Lightning Bolt rightfully sit next to
Ornette Coleman, where past conceptions
of jazz are bent out of shape by a trio so raw
you can smell them. It's what jazz should be
today, just the way I like it.
Star In The Hood (Takeover)
Along with Ny's Split Endz Volume 2 and
Roll Deep's Rules And Regulations, Stryder's
second solo album is a cocky slap in the face
to anyone who thought grime couldn't pump
out any more big hits. It's released on an
independent run by two 1 8 year olds, and
it does a lot more than the mixtape Stryder
released last year on. There's a couple of ifs
-'Perfect Timing' is a bit like the theme tune
to Defenders Of The Earth. But Davinche
does redeeming R&B/poppy wonder on
'Breakaway', while 'Workin' For Days' and
'Catch 'Em' are what's called conscious rap,
and 'Dance 4 Now' is a garagey anthem
that looks back and forwards all at once.
Conversely, 'Hands Of Time', featuring Ny, is
lover's rock to out-soothe Sade and mourn
the linearity of our passage through this
world. There's also a collaboration with
Goldielocks on mic and production where
the pair diss stereotyping. Which is exactly
what the album successfully does.Tinchy's
subjects are pretty cliched, but it's what he
does with them that counts. It really does.
By now your inevitable 500 hours of sitting
with the first volume of Sou/foorimay have
convinced you that Trim is a total psycho.
Lovable but deranged, a great cliche made as
new through sheer charisma, a man you'd be
proud to claim had shanked you, eventually.
Nineteen years down the line, it'd be like if
you'd bought narcotics from Snoop in '88.
The second volume, barely four months later,
plays up the charisma. Here Trim's the man
of the people with sage advice, dedicating
hismusicto "The people who say when
asked 'how's life treating you?', they say,
'surviving'"; earnestly pleading in a capella
for assorted misfits, people with issues,
people with mortgages to "strike a pose";
then the words of wisdom: "Some teachers
do chat SHIT/ But it's all benefiting you/
Godliness is cleansiness/You can't smoke
and be a footballer too ". Tri m is a good
teacher. He doesn't chat shit. But he'll still
Two Gallants (Saddle Creek)
"I come from the old town baby, "Two
Gallants once sang. See, in the new town
they all come home from lurid offices to sit
with their tubs of Haagen-Dazs watching
Friends series seven (the one sustained only
by the pimp-greed of the actors and our deep
need for debasement). If that's not your
scene then you might try the old town, where
you'll find salty melodrama and serious
young men who are earnest yet flamboyant.
These men are dedicated to a myth - a myth
of rambling, violence and romance. But myth
is a security blanket, and like any blanket it
can smother you. The songs on this album
are OK, but they're not good enough to make
me forget all this flapdoodle about myth like
the best mythmakers always do. We expect
Two Gallants tunes to be satisfying and true,
like cracking a pool cue over the back of
some mono-syllabic gooner in a seedy,
smoke-free Irish bar. But this time around,
adding a tentative grunge/rock influence
to their usual sound, the Gallants seem
stranded between two towns.
Rinse 01 (Ammunition)
I don't listen to Rinse FM much. It's hard to
get in the South London non-event of a town
I live in. The only place I've ever successfully
tuned in to its mix of grime, dubstep and
shouty DIY adverts is on my dad's car radio.
It rea//yfucks him off. It's probably inherently
wrong that me, a middle-class white boy,
who's never seen a sharp knife outside a
kitchen, loves grime in the first place. But I'm
glad my father can't enjoy it the same way he
does XFM.The best of it is abrasive, horrible,
and it's implausible it'll get co-opted into the
mainstream. Here, it's flawlessly mixed by
Geeneus with dubstep, and it's scary and
beautiful. Skepta floats over a Plastician
beat, and DOK's 'Warning' gets mangled into
something like recent Kraftwerk.
By the time a sped-up Wiley destroys
the mix with 'No Qualms', I've Googled
" Removing car radios for home use" .
The Art Of Chill 4, Mixed By The Orb
Chill CDs are everywhere. It's more a case of
what's your flavour these days? Bedouin
beats or a selection from your favourite act,
the chill-world is your oyster. So what can
Orbital offer to this saturated market? Quite
a lot actually, as they dig up less obvious
choices (except for the compulsory slab of
Morricone) in Andrew Thomas and Schneider
TM (for example). The greatest interest
comes when you look to pinpoint The Orb's
inspiration from their choices, which the
extensive narrative of the linear notes helps
with immensely. So the Penguin Orchestra
Cafe and Bowie shine through 'Orbus
Terrarum' and 'Cydonia' where I hadn't
heard traces before.The other (somewhat
stuffist) observation is that ambience and
darkness are much better on analogue, so
shinier, newer acts such as Husky Rescue
just don't seem to have the same emotional
effect as a good old Eno synth composition.
Close To Paradise (V2)
Patrick Watson, the man, has a voice like that
of an effeminate angel; I imagine him to be
toned, tanned, with a thick mop of curly
blonde hair and a white robe across his body
while he sings. He sounds delicious.
Patrick Watson, the band, straddle him
in mesmericfashion with a strange mixture
of cannily constructed, sometimes bizarre,
Cinematic Orchestra type noises, gentle
xylophone strokes and tentative drum rolls.
The combination will have a curious (and
pleasurable) effect on you, as it has on me.
The Montrealians' record number two o
ften borders on being so dreamy it could
accompany a meditation box set; but more
often it sounds like Jeff Buckley's honey-
drenched vocal reborn with Romeo's
imagination and a big ol' box of tricks.
James And The Quiet (Ecstatic Peace)
Is it the case that eventually every psych-
out set-the-controls troubadour expresses
a pining need to go sit on a porch, get down
home, listen to which way the breeze is
blowing in the trees and explore some
roots? What happened before has happened
again, as James Toth (Wooden Wand, with
or without his Vanishing Voice) kicks back
and goes country. But this is no tiresome
traipse into WncufAmericana.
Produced by Lee Ranaldo.Toth takes
his cue from Dylan's John Wesley Harding
and conjures a series of journeys across
a mythical pioneer land complete with
visitations from seers and a witch's vision
of apocalyptic future, undercut with the
inevitable onset of a final war- all set to a
sparse and harmonious musical backdrop.
86 | plan b
The Dub Project
The Dub Project 2 (M)
Slurping out of the
speakers like On-U
stepchild comes a
second outing of outre mixology dubbed up
from the Twilight Sound laboratory, reeking
weirdness like a bowlful of the super-strong
stuff- only to be expected when one foot is
in Holland and another in Kingston. (RF)
In Our Nature (Mute)
You can't really
begrudge the man who
made The Knife famous
(well, famous-ish), but
let's not forget the taciturn Swede is also
bezzie mates with serial bores Zero 7. In Our
Nature's dusky strummings have a certain
nocturnal grandeur, especially an impressive
cover of Massive Attack's 'Teardrop', but the
cumulative effect is like being cornered at a
campfire by an over earnest hippie. (AL)
Album number five from
w Grand Drive continues
I to dumbfound my belief
^™ that they must surely
live on a porch somewhere in the deep south
of the US of A, constantly sheltering from
wolves and a rainfall made of moonshine.
But hark! Some modern synthesiser hath
quashed that misbelief for a brief moment
before we return to the gloriously tortured
opener, 'Skin You're Living In'. (HA)
LUKE VI BERT
4 J J PER RE Y
In the works since 2001,
people who arrive at
MoogAtid expecting musique concrete/
proto-electronica Frenchman Perrey to be
breaking ground a lathe early Sixties might
be disappointed. That in mind, Cornish
wearer of many genre hats Luke Vibert is
ample foil for JJP's cutup flotsam, and 1 1
bouncy cuts that sometimes resemble Plaid
Friend And Foe
p There are no prizes for
"most ideas crammed
into one song," but
no one told this Coyne-indebted Portland,
Oregon trio. Dense, layered loops of guitar
and oddly loud lo-fi drums dominate but
in the end, it's like stuffed crust pizza. A
wonderful idea in theory that leaves you
feeling slightly sick. (TG)
Go Go Smear The
Poison Ivy (FatCat)
It starts so well, with
' box sound that evokes
all the peppery mischief of the album title.
But before long - as throughout the album
-we find a melody line that is without
mystery, without whisper, a band that
specialised in the secret suddenly smitten
with the obvious. (SM)
has honed his gift for
of instruments into neo-
classical works to an even sharper degree.
This said, Cosmosis more reminiscent of a
BBC4 documentary soundtrack than
anything reflecting the true exploratory
nature of space travel. (JD)
Snotty and abrasive
from Sweden; this is
laden with fizzing synth scree, faraway vocals
swamped in factory drone and little else. In
thrall to MBV, Cabaret Voltaire and maybe
the Mary Chain with a charity shop drum
machine thrown in, but occasionally thrilling
? Johnny Parry
Purpose (Lost Toys)
t^sW^^BI proving that the
badlands are but a state of mind, shale-
voiced Parry exhales tales of love, blood
and bones backed by guitar, drums and
a beautifully arranged chamber ensemble
of strings and piano. In thrall to the dark
lords Cave and Waits, sure, but odd touches
abound, notably the lushly orchestrated
'Little Prayer No 5' and a German-accented,
spoken word vocal appearing halfway
through the album. (FM)
First EP (Elevation)
rock'n'rollers suck in the
Los Angeles smog and
hurtle through five
tracks of choked chicken gee-tar, Comets
On Fire space jams and vocals wheezed, all
shrill and breathless, from the far side of the
glass onion. The concluding track makes this
record's claim to be an EP rather specious,
1 minutes of soloing that, while enjoyable,
feels rather more like 20. Here come the
C V^JP Saturday Looks
Good To Me
experimentalism, a la
Animal Collective, rears its head out of these.
five tracks of varied, decent if undemanding
studio trickery from this Portland quintet's
reverb-pickled indie sump. (NG)
Golden Pollen (Anti)
Guillermo Scott Herren
the dayjob as blipcut
and crash merchant Prefuse 73 to become
Savath & Savalas, purveyors of superior
quality Club Med beach music.Textures are
lush, vocal harmonies are gilded, and the
whole thing wafts by like a easy listening
sunny afternoon. (EA)
Life Embarrasses Me
On Planet Earth
Holding the stars like
a sonic Osiris, odes to the affects of cocktails
(Sazerac) make sure Seventeen Evergreen
can still join the rest of us in the gutter.
Existing upon their purposefully faltered
knowledge of the constellations to guide
them from messed up place to messed up
place; in space rock they go up in smoke for
the crowd below. (BW)
■ii ,*, 4±Ar Shir Khan
i nft t ( Ex p |oited )
All the obvious Mobile
Discos and Justices
feature on this
intermittently fun mix. Starts with a GirlTalk-
esque cutup which immediately gives it more
personality than yr average sexless electro
comp, and played loud it's a bit like you're
in three Shoreditch bars at once. Two discs
is too many. (TG)
Six Nation State
Six Nation State
From the label that
brought you BelleAnd
Sebastian and Snow
Patrol (back when they sounded like
Sebadoh and sold no records), an album for
which words like 'bland' and 'spiritless' feel
rather too strong. SNS aim for Gogol Bordello
or The Coral at their most piratical, yet
somehow, succeed only in sapping your will
to live with every trudging second. (LP)
A \ Private Cinema
" (Home Tapes)
the second full-length
from this Danish quintet
feels quietly odd; privately explorative. Flutes
trail around tentative vocal harmonies, a
spacerock pulse gives way to ambient guitar
wash and Sonic Youth-style riffing becomes
drifting brass interludes. Intriguing, organic
shoegaze pop, a bit Sea And Cake, a bit
Mercury Rev- and a bit lovely. (FM)
Say No! To Being
Cool. Say Yes! To
It's 4am and this sounds
ace. The lazy pre-set synths are just about
holding the big black cloud up in the sky and
Modular have lifted the ban on Lemonheads
guitars and grungy melodies. An early
morning tonic for Flaming Lips fans. (HA)
Songs Of Green
This EP contains some
sublime spaces for
unmuddled thought, albeit with too much
mood-painting. Submerged pianos play
shipwrecked chords as the currents press
down, tambourines glisten beneath the
dawn's bleach and a guitar outlines ideas
of the morning. (LS)
World City (Wildfire
Another month, another
band who probably
KS wish they'd been around
30 years earlier to complain about Brian
Eno's No New York compilation. But this
Baltimore trio play 30 perfect no wave minutes
on spindly guitar, organ and drum rhythms,
taking them beyond mere pastiche. (EA)
1 Turf Talk
The West Coast
Vaccine (Sick Wid It)
It's all a cartoon, right?
And sometimes the
crudest art can tell
the boldest truths. E40's cousin Turf Talk is
kitchen sink grime on a pristeen gleaming
Pixar suburban fantasy. And the rhythms are
buoyant enough to contrast effectively with
the calculated spew of Turf Talk's sullied mind
and guaranteed to raise at least a weary
smirk or so in recognition. (RS)
LalU Fifth album by stalwarts
American prog rock. Often reminiscent of the
Mahavishnu Orchestra, or more specifically
this one time myself and a car's fellow
occupants (including some Plan fiwriters)
pulled up next to a convertible of jockish
Diesel-wearing types and freaked them out
by playing Mahavishnu really really loud.
It was awesome in its lameness. (NG)
Thrilling drum/sax head-
to-head in the tradition
of Coltiane's Interstellar Space underlining
the Chicago-Oslo connection. Combines
all the wisdom of European Improv and
American free-jazz and finds both players
enjoying the space in between. Vandermark's
quite happy blowing Maceo licks as Ayler
shrieks and Nilssen-Love is a glorious
imwt. Wooden Spoon
|fe *Ss The Folk Blues Guitar
^■^^ Of Wooden Spoon
^Lkbp Setting out from
^^^'^ a Takoma reference
point, Wooden Spoon charts his own course
with a guitar style that is recognisable yet
entirely personal. Busy, Fahey-influenced
outings open the album, but give way
to gentle folk hybrids and minimalist
excursions. Quixotic tape recording
techniques augment the album's feel of a
carefully crafted shelter against pernicious
outside agencies. (ND)
Brief notes by: Euan Andrews,
Hayley Avron, Nick Dixon, John
Doran, Richard Fontenoy, Noel
Gardner, Sean Michaels, Frances
Morgan, James Papdemetrie,
Louis Pattison, Daniel Spicer,
Ringo P Stacey, Lauren Strain,
plan b 1 87
live by the sword
Words: Pil and Galia Kollectiv
The cutting edge: Dada, Satie, and metal's revolution
Mayhem: Live In Leipzig (Peaceville)
Behemoth: Thelma 6 (Peaceville)
Erik Satie: Avant-dernieres Pensees: Selected Piano Works Volume 1 (LTM)
Nelly (Petro) van Doesberg: Repertoire de Stijl: Bauhaus: Dada (LTM)
Various: The Fruit Of The Original Sin (LTM)
Severed Heads: ComMerz (LTM)
The last time we listened to metal was over 1 years
ago, when it still seemed to be engaged in a radical
drive to redefine music through transgression. At
our local music venue in Jerusalem (there was only
one really, a weird little hole-in-the-wall avant-garde
theatre), Monday nights were metal nights and
regional high school bands would practice out-
growling each other. Back then, in the heyday
of Slayer, Death and Carcass, a series of bands
transformed the genre, moving it forward from
speed and thrash metal to death and black metal,
each so brutal, violent and loud that older bands
immediately sounded like The Archies. Gradually,
the paradox at the heart of the genre that dictated
this striving for radicalism within a rigid traditionalist
structure made us lose interest for a while, but now
it is exactly this transgressive conservatism that
seems like a political position worth exploring again.
Mayhem's live recording from 1 990, Live In
Leipzig, is a great example of how in extreme metal,
violence relies on stern control, and its rough and
wild masculinity relies on attentive musicianship. At
the height of their notoriety, Mayhem were like a
cartoon version of 'pure' evil, their soon to be dead
vocalist, erm, Dead (whose exploded skull pieces
were sent as gifts by band member Euronymous,
who would later become black metal's most famous
murder victim), sounding more like a hormonally
88 1 plan b
than a pagan war lord.
Because of its radical
progresses through self-
parody: the over arching
structure of the music
but, within the narrow
space of the song,
bands attempt to
cram as many notes
and chord changes
as possible. To the
outside world, which
encounters metal only
occasionally through watered-down versions like
Isis, these Lilliputian seismic events might seem
indistinguishable; but the ethos of metal relies on
them. The re-release of Behemoth's Thelma 6
marks one such shift. The Polish band became
known as part of the blackened death metal scene,
injecting more traditional, brutal death metal with
melodic black metal touches: the lyrics mostly avoid
death metal's trademark gore-fest, and synthesisers
add an almost epic, gothic depth that can make the
band sound like Bauhaus.
Modern classical music seems to be in a similar
predicament to metal, its capacity to innovate
bound to certain rules and conventions, but at the
start of the 20th Century, before the explosion of
popular recorded music, the compositions of Erik
Satie, which feature on both Avant-dernieres
Pensees, and Nelly (Petro) van Doesberg's
Repertoire de Stijl: Bauhaus: Dada, must have
sounded as extreme, raw and hardcore as Merzbow.
With song titles like 'Dried Up Embryos', Satie could
not have been more metal, and yet his music was
devoid of nostalgia and the claims of authenticity
that contemporary neo-pagans make. Forget the
medieval instrumentation of Scandi church burners:
Satie actually included a duck bill in his notations.
Listened to now, his 'Gymnopedies' sound
delicate and beautiful, like the soundtrack to the
most moving French film ever. This is no coincidence,
as Satie thought of his compositions as 'furniture
music', to be heard in the background, perhaps
at a certain angle, and preferred to call himself a
'phonometrographer' rather than a musician. Short
passages about cars and golf, and the exploration
of boredom through repetition, make Satie a better
candidate for a proto-punk than a metalhead, but
either way listening to his piano assaults through
the prism of more recent genres allows us to see
through his influence on later experimental Cage-
isms to the radical nature of his work in its time.
When we finally grew out of metal, we started
hanging out with people who still had collections
that comprised almost exclusively of early Eighties
European avant-garde. Only in retrospect can we
see how loose the definition of this 'scene' was.
Funk-punk, industrial music, no wave and minimal
synth were packaged alongside spoken word and
electronic pop as 'alternative', the only threads
connecting the scene's disparate elements were
Williams Burroughs and Nancy Sinatra.
The re-mastered '81 compilation, TheFruitOf
The Original Sin, from the legendary Les Disques
duCrepuscule label from Belgium is a fairly accurate
snapshot of a lot of Eighties record collections.
Highlights include DNA's creepy everyday life
montage, a Satie cover, an interview with
Marguerite Duras and a rare spoken word
segment from sometime Tuxedomoon frontman
Similarly eclectic is ComMerz, an anthology of
Severed Heads music from over two decades. Is
it just our aging ears or were bands still allowed to
let their repertoire develop more organically in the
Eighties? ComMerz moves with ease from electronic
pop a la New Order to heavier electro-industrial
compositions. The result is like a party on the Soviet
space station Mir with Stock, Aitken And Waterman
cast as coked-up astronauts, its mood strangely
alienated and light at the same time. This music
is unclassif iable, neither forging a tradition nor
negotiating those of the past. It is equal parts
intriguing, unpleasant and wonderful.
Words: Sean Michaels
Illustration: Isabel Bostwick
Palo Santo (expanded edition) (Matador)
One night I was in Glasgow, attending a show. And
my heart was in so many pieces. I was so tired, and
so sad, and I wanted to be swimming across the
ocean. I listened to the concert and I felt good,
but when it was over I walked woolly-headed
along Sauchiehall Street, lost and lonely in a way
I couldn't remember having felt before. There
were no stars, and bare-chested men stood outside
the clubs with blood on their faces.
I mention this because that night I saw a bird.
Around me were car engines and human shouts
and discotheque thumps, and I raised my head
and took a breath, and it came careening out from
between skyscrapers, alone, the solitary sea-bird
in the blue-black sky. It glowed. It felt like the most
important thing I had seen all year
Shearwaters are birds. There's a bird that looks
a little like one, white and yellow, on the cover of
the reissued Palo Santo. I can't decide if the face
is mischievous or reassuring. I can't decide if I'd
follow it, if it asked.
This is a very roundabout way of introducing
a CD by a band from Austin TX, long considered
'just' a side-project to the folk-rock band Okkervil
River, now led solely by a man named Jonathan
Meiburg. It was first released byMisra last year
but has since been re-recorded and re-released as
a double-disc expanded edition on Matador. The
artwork's the most beautiful I've seen since The
Mountain Goats' Tallahassee, filled with whites
It's an album of
frequent hush and
sea and shore
and watercolours. On the inlay behind the discs
there is an etching of a bent-beaked bird sitting on
a branch; and then there's the same branch, brown
and bare, but the bird has disappeared.
It's these things that fill Palo Santo: presence,
vanishing, space, want, loss, memory, splendour,
austerity, noise, silence. It's an album of frequent
hush and intermittent roar; of sea and shore. It's
no wonder that the album was reissued - it's
outstanding. But also no wonder that it did not
catch the Zeitgeist of 2006. Meiburg's is a choirboy
voice, not necessarily suited to rock'n'roll. It's
plaintive, sometimes fearful, and when he shouts
-for instance as 'Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five' is
loosing all its slammed piano chords, electric guitar
and horns -there's something declamatory in it,
like a man in conversation with the storm.
This is where the new Palo Santo most improves
on the original. The dynamics of the songs are
beautifully underlined, softness lurching fiercely
into scree. The quiet moments carry the promise
of noise and so even delicate sounds seem forceful,
volatile. It's an ambivalence that recalls the best
work of John Cale, Nico and Talk Talk's Mark Hollis,
and it's no trick of production. It carries through
to the demos on the superb bonus disc, and the
troubled, waylaid version of Skip James' 'Special
Rider Blues'. It's like Meiburg has found a musical
vocabulary for that miracle of flight-the
impossible upward glide and always the earth
that waits below, for when you fall.
It's an accomplishment I'm grateful for-
to have words and sound to accompany such
thoughts. "And . . . love departs your life, " Meiburg
sings, "Like silvery birds that leave the coast. "
I remember the bird that skirted my life one year
ago, and I wonder how long it will stay alight.
I never quite gotAfghan Whigs.
Loved 'em to start with: 'Retarded' and
'Let Me Lie For You' are still two of the finest
visceral blasts of energy and hatred from the
grunge era, and I absolutely fell for Greg
Dulli's soulful Cincinnati croon when the
Whigs worked their love for all things Sixties,
Southern and soulful into a torpid, steamy
blast of guitars and bad intentions on 1 992's
five-track EP 'Uptown Avondale'. (If I had my
way, all five songs would be here, instead of
the derisory one, 'Come See About Me'.) I've
kept their early albums and EPs long after
I've discarded the Guided By Voices and
Seaweeds of this world. (Not fair, I know: but
space is at a premium, far as my CDs go.)
But I never quite got them. Maybe they
were a little too male; maybe they took
themselves too seriously; maybe they started
hangin' round with a different crowd to me
- but the switch happened fast. One moment,
I was solidly grooving on the swaggering
but sensitive dick-led braggadocio of the
1 993 major label debut Genf/emenwith its
tremendous cuts 'Debonair' and 'Be Sweet'
( "Ladies, let me tell you about myself/I've got
a dick for a brain/And my brain/Is gonna sell
my ass to you ") - the next, I was thinking
they were post-Pearl Jam charlatans. All the
soul drained from Dulli's voice, the guitars
festered and bragged nastily, and (shrugs)
that was about it.
Hell, I don't know. This 'best of makes
me feel oddly nostalgic.
Lloyd Cole And The Commotions
Live At The BBC Volume One/Two
Live At The BBC (Mercury)
Lloyd Cole was a poet of the specific rather
than of the allusion; he played Siegfried
Sassoon to Morrissey's Rupert Brooke. And
while some found his "Read some Norman
Mailer/get a new fa//or"-isms a bit gauche
and Cole himself too middle class, album by
album they consistently matched The Smiths.
The first CD sees them all young, not so
dumb and full of strum in a rockabilly jangle-
fest of early radio sessions and suburban
Elvis live appearances. The second represents
their imperial phase, including a triumphant
Glastonbury slot from 1 986The final from
the mid-Nineties is the least rewarding,
despite great later material such as 'So You'd
Like To ChangeThe World' and a cover of the
Velvets"RockAnd Roll', his voice sometimes
too careworn, his band too non-commital.
Otherwise a great showing from indie's
very own Bryan Ferry.
plan b 1 89
Words: Everett True
Illustration: Graham Corcoran
Summer Records Anthology (1 974-1 988)
(Light In The Attic)
Some labels you know you can trust, even before
you hear a note.
Over in Germany, Trikont have been unearthing
weird Smithsonian Americana (prison songs, new
urban folk) alongside Mexican Boleros, Jewish
slipstream, Turkish techno and Queer Noises. Dust-
To-Digital is my label of choice for field recordings
and peculiar US vocal stylings from the turn of the
last century. Closer to home, Honest Jons carved
out an impressive reputation with their inspired
London Is The Place For Me compilations of UK
bluebeat from the Fifties. . .and over in Seattle,
Light In The Attic are similarly fine, with some
awesome reissues from the likes of soul/funk diva
Betty Davis, fiery Sixties activists The Last Poets, The
Free Design and PlanB favourite Karen Dalton.
As fine as all these artists undoubtedly are, it's
when Light In The Attic concentrate on furthering
their Jamaica-Toronto reissue series (Jackie Mittoo,
Wayne McGhie, Noel Ellis) that they totally kill,
not least because th is stuff was previously mostly
unheard-of. Throughout the Seventies, Canadian-
produced reggae went unnoticed amid the horde
of Jamaican product on sale in Toronto's West
Indian independent record stores. And yet in the
shape of the music sprung up around JA-born
local producer Jerry Brown and his basement
Summer Sound studios, Toronto had a thriving
reggae community of its own. Summer Sound was
inevitably, but justly, feted as Canada's answer to
Lee 'Scratch' Perry's legendary Black Ark studios.)
Anthology (1974-1 988) picks up where the
previous LITA collection Jamaica To Toronto: Soul
Funk & Reggae 1967-1974 left off: and although
the range of musical styles is in no way diverse
(on the previous album, it was possible to hear
Canadian voices in answer to the street-edge funk
of James Brown, War and The Last Poets amid the
revelry and slick soul balladeers), the quality of the
material on offer is as high. This is hardcore reggae,
through and through. Brown knew what he was
doing, that's for sure: bass so thick and steamy
you can almost taste the thick clouds of smoke
emanating from the studio, gaps between the
notes so cavernous you could fit a truck in between
them, skittering high vocals, damnably low vocals
(male, without exception), melodica, nostalgic
lyrics trying to swap the chill and snow of Toronto's
winter streets for Jamaica's sun and sea and sky -
and, of course, the obligatory Jah references or 20
-this is music that John Peel would have played,
alongside Aswad, Burning Spear and King Tubby,
but it was too obscure even for him.
So what do you get for yr buck? Johnny
Osbourne's plaintive, previously unreleased,
'Warrior'; the marvellously loose and primitive
reggae orchestra Earth, Roots & Water with five
tracks ranging from the inspired ('Sufferer', with
Brown himself on vocals) to the inspirational
('Right, Right Time' with a sublime performance
from Osbourne again). Then there's my own
personal favourite, Noel Ellis and his dub-crazy
'Reach My Destiny', Ranking's summery 'Chatty,
Chatty People'. ..pure, unadulterated reggae,
the type of which has rarely bothered pop charts
either side of the Atlantic.
As with all Light In The Attic reissues, there's a
24-page booklet that describes the conditions that
led to this music, and Brown's personal history in
Cotton Eyed Joe (The Loop Tapes) -
Live In Boulder 1 962 (Megaphone)
The 'rediscovery' of Karen Dalton implies
a minor rupture in the indestructible cult
of the songwriter. As with our continued
enthusiasm for the 'auteur' in film, we
often seem intent on clinging to a romantic
individualism that should be obsolete. But
with Dalton, who was an 'interpreter' only,
it is the voice that is key. Intonation, timing,
total commitment to every phrase. It doesn't
matter who happened to write the song:
the ocean does not prefer one wave over
another. Though, of course, the quality of the
water is important. As such, the value of this
album will depend partly on whether you feel
Dalton is best knocking out the fairly straight
blues and folk numbers we get here, or when
weaving her way around pop structures like
In My Own Time's 'Something On Your Mind.'
To me, the performances here don't feel
essential in the way that, say, Townes Van
landt's on Live At The Old Quarter do, but
they are nonetheless a welcome addition
to Dalton's body of work. She sang what
she meant and she meant what she sang.
It's Not The Eat, It'sThe Humidity
The Eat were one of those bands that
somehow sound like everybody. This
compilation, reissuing their original seven-
inchers, by turnssounds like The Byrds, Wire,
Buzzcocks, Television, and Devo (to name
but a few), which, considering The Eat were
operative 1979-1985 and based in the
cultural abyss of South Florida, is little short
of extraordinary. The songwriting combines
impassioned melodies with punk bluster in
a way that sounds curiously English - maybe
they would have fared better over here? And
the recordings themselves are endearingly
raw (no 'normalise' functions in evidence).
Combining nearly 60 songs over two discs,
including a disc of live cuts it's great to hear
something instantaneous and original that's
been hidden for 30 years.
Box Set (Sanctuary)
(Drink six pints of San Miguel and shout
review in Salfordian tones while pulling on
a B&H Gold.) Compiled by prune face! Self-
proclaimed prole art bard dismisses Fopp-
bought 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong
as wrong. Who needs 'Victoria'? Instead,
be upstanding for Brix: 'Big New Prinz', Marc
'The Container Drivers' and The Wife 'Fall
Sound'. League of Bald-Headed Men prepare
to take receipt of 20 never-heard-before live
songs, except by you on worn-out bootleg
tapes. Steel yourself for harsh internet
debate: no 'Sparta' but 'Mr Pharmacist'?
Excerptfrom'Hey! Luciani the play'! Hilarity
ensues. Home demos of famous songs with
90 1 plan b
added: "You, play that other riff again now."
ProtoVon Sudenfed from D.O.S.E.'s'Plug
Myself In'. Is this the best introduction to The
Fall yet? Hack's bliss is interrupted by harsh
interjection from girlfriend: "Do you actually
need this though? You've already got 40
albums by them."
Sitting Targets/The Love Songs/Skin/
And Close As This (Virgin/EMI)
The assumption that Hammill is punk rather
than prog is retrospective, in ignorance of
how pre-punk his oeuvre was. The root of the
assumption stems from John Lydon's 1977
Capital Radio show-the distinction is a
These early to mid-Eighties reissues are
telling. Big production bombast on The Love
Songs, a re-recording of old numbers, yells
'Prog!' (and Pop!). And Close AsThisisan
early exploration of sampling, pulling an
album out of single performances. It sounds
more like dark balladeers Destroyer than
Autechre, but is of interest to both. 'Glue'
from Sitting Targets collages fractured
piano and muted funk, it could be Brand
XorA Certain Ratio, but Hammill adds the
existential storm clouds Howard Devoto
That Hammill's work slips classification
points to its sometimes unplaceable nature.
As sites for further discovery they are flawed
but charged, a desert full of land mines, still
waiting to detonate.
Day Ov Torment (Cold Spring)
The Scribbler (Cold Spring)
Two works from the archives, courtesy of
industrial label Cold Spring. The first is
a reissue of a classic Death Industrial album
by an Archon Satani offshoot, originally
released on Staalplaat in 1 993. Ultra-grim
slabs of sonic malevolence mesh with dark
ambient blasts and distorted death moans
to create the perfect soundtrack for a really
evil mood, soothing in its oppressiveness.
Somewhat less appealing is The
Scribbler. Issued in 1 992 as an edition of
500 copies it begins as a dense melange of
filmic orchestral ambience and industrial
factory rumble based around Kafka's The
Trial. Unfortunately, it swiftly decays into
modern classical at its most tedious.
Better Motorhead Than Dead:
Live At Hammersmith (SPV)
Motdrhead's 1981 album NoSleepTil
Hammersmith is rightly heralded as one of
the greatest live albums of all time, capturing
the three-piece at the height of their 'Ace
Of Spades' powers. Vibrant, aggressive,
unyielding, its longevity as a piece of work
is down to the incendiary material and the
sheer belief of the people playing - and
listening. Fast forward a quarter of a century,
and you'd possibly expect something of an
alteration of focus, a slowing down even.
Lemmy is now in his sixties, after all. But
over this double album the pace, if anything,
is ramped up higher than ever before,
with Motdrhead's recent recorded output
arguably rivalling anything from that
erstwhile early Eighties 'golden period'.
The years might creep, and flesh may
crumple, but Motdrhead's commitmentto
the continuing power of rock'n'roll and
having a fucking good f/mewill never be
dimmed. Frenetic, kinetic, immortal.
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The
Sex Pistols (EMI)
Thirty years after this band were supposed to
start a social revolution, this record makes
me feel depressed and disgusted - yes,
'cheated'. Not by the record (London's
answer to The Doors), but at how England
turned out the complete opposite.Anarchy?
A nation so scared of 'anti-social behaviour'
that there's a CCTV camera up every
arsehole. "Get pissed, destroy"! Observe
the Bill Grundy TV spot -drunken presenter,
Steve Jones smoking a fag on set, everybody
having a great time - and try to imagine that
happening today, now that even pubs have
been turned into health farms with the
ambience of American shopping malls. "No
future "? Now we're told we can't even take
"holidays in the sun" because the carbon
emissions might upset somebody's children.
If everyone took the example of Brummie
Pauline who lived in a tree then nobody
would care about shit like that.
Belsen probably wasa gas, compared
to this fucking country.
Dave 'God Save The' Queen
Frankie Valli And The Four
Beggin:The Ultimate Collection (679)
When the Plan B reviews list went around
I got nervously excited at the prospect of
a new Frankie Valli collection. Valli is unjustly
remembered for the Grease theme tune,
but it's songs like 'The Night' that should
be held aloft as a beacon that genius passed
this way. My heart skipped on seeing that
that tune, one of the greatest and scariest
sounding Northern Soul tunes ever, was right
at the beginning of this and Grease was way
down the end.
Could this be the comp to give a fair
re-appraisal of the man? Sadly, it's not.
Inexplicably, someone at 679/Rhino has seen
fit to let Jive Bunny at the console. Well, not
quite, what we have here is DJ Pilooski poorly
remixing 'The Night' and others, interspersed
with the standard Valli hits, and it smacks of
absolute pointlessness. Bereft of merit, but
nab the originals off iTunes instead.
King Britt presents The Cosmic
Lounge Volume One (BBE)
Veteran PhillyDJ King Britt selects deep jazz
from the late Sixties/early Seventies, when
BlackAmerica's post-Coltrane, post-Malcolm
yearning for spiritual consciousness and
social equality fused with the lysergic visions
of the campus kids to produce a fiercely Afro-
centric counter-culture. Herbie Hancock's
'Kawaida' sets things up with a spoken
manifesto calling for a community built on
the most militant emotion: love. From there,
Britt guides us in with a couple of acid-funk
shakers, via Eddie Henderson's take on Miles'
glowering 'OnThe Corner' bulldozer-funk
and then deeper down into the serious
business: pan-cultural minstrel Don Cherry's
ethno-psychedelic melodica groove; Brother
Ah's echo-spooked astral choir; Flora Purim's
Elvis Costello And The Attractions
Trust/This Year's Model/Punch The Clock (Hip-O/Universal)
Costello's first five albums - My Aim Is True, This Year's
Model (1 978), Armed Forces, the soul-infused, 20-track
single album Get Happy!!, Trust (1981) -are indispensable
for me. Searing melodies, smart and spunky production,
clever-funny lovelorn lyrics, spectacles wielded as an instrument of sarcasm
long before geek chic existed (albeit lifted from Buddy Holly), songs of the
calibre of 'Pretty Words', 'Radio, Radio' and 'Pump It Up', Steve Nieve on
piano. . .what wasn't to like? He made the charts accessible and America look
ridiculous. This side of Dexys, there are no records I return to so consistently,
and frequently. His next four albums weren't half-bad either.
A few years back, Rhino Records started reissuing his albums in the
US with a bonus disc of outtakes, unreleased songs... you know the score.
Except that this time, these extras were solid gold, astonishing. So far they've
put out 78albums this way... prolific -Costello? You could say. By way of
sharp relief, Universal have started reissuing the CDs as close to their original
(vinyl) form as possible, no extra tracks, just lovingly duplicated digipak
sleeves, lyric sheets. Now I have no idea what to keep. There's three listed
here in this review, and I'd imagine that all are being reissued, but I'm just
reviewing what I've been sent - remember, the first two are matchless, but
even 1983's Punch The C/oc/r contains 'Shipbuilding' and 'Pills And Soap',
for Christ's sake...
coke-fuelled freak-scat; down still deeper
into the heavy BYG free-jazz brotherhood
with GrachanMoncur III; and finally back to
the source with Doug and Jean Cam's
sweetly heartfelt version of Coltrane's ballad
'Naima'. Seems the journey to the stars
begins and ends within the heart.
Sci.Fi.Lo.Fi Volume 1 (Soma)
Apparently, this series is a spin-off from
Soma's popularSci. Fi. Hi. Fi mix series, which
is showcases various DJs such as Alex Smoke
and Luciano.The new series is dedicated
to only the most 'uncanny' organic music.
And the first volume is compiled by Andrew
Weatherall. Don't know much 'bout all that,
to tell you the truth. What I do know is . . .
Damn, this is fine! Any compilation that
collects and condenses down 50 years of
sleazy, greasy, sinful rock'n'roll that ranges
from The King Of Rock'N'Roll (Gene Vincent),
Hipbone Slim's awesome swampy cut 'Snake
Pit'.Tav Falco and his Panther Burns, Link
Wray (of course), The Milkshakes shaking
up Death himself with a barrel of surf guitar
on 'The Grim Reaper', The Cramps (of course,
underlined in triplicate with blood-red goo-
goo muck letters), my one guaranteed DJ
floor-filler (Shock-Headed Peters' churning
hymn to gay love 'I Blood Brother Be'), Primal
Scream's 'Bloods (TLS mix)' (well, this is
Weatherall after all),TheStrangeloves'
primal take on garage classic 'I Want Candy',
The Fall (of course), Johnny Burnette, Joe
Boot And The Fabulous Winds' seminal
'Rock'N'Roll Radio'. . .and oodles more
besides. . .is more than alright with me!
There's a fucking great Fifties B-movie
style cover as well.
American Rudeness (Munster)
Dredged up from late Seventies Connecticut
where it had disappeared with barely a
comment, American Rudeness s\ols neatly
into place as a gleefully oddball missing
piece in the post-Zappa, proto-punk reissue
puzzle. Jacked upon hefty doses of heavy-
lidded whiplash'n'bondage r'n'b heroin chic,
the White Flame dudes simmer with twisted,
louche prowls and balls-to-the-wall hard
rocking of curious dimensions.
Whether doing the dropout boogie
(complete with harmonised choruses and
electric piano solos), revelling in skinflick
soundtrack depravity, dropping a sleazy
cod-reggae jailbait skank or twanging on a
Midnight Cowboy-sV/\e downer, it is totally
of its addled era. In an alternate universe
where they were big stars crossed over from
the underground, White Flame would be on
a triumphant comeback tour or dead from
suitably seedy diseases; in this one they're
a sleazy, queasy, flag-disrespecting oddity.
under my stylus: voice of the seven woods
I was turned onto this record a
few months ago by my friend Jakob ;',
Olausson.This trio shared a club
FILIPS background with the Parson
Sound clan, a favourite of mine from the late Sixties Swedish I
psych underground. Baby Grandmothers specialised in
heavyweight primal live jams -fuzz-damaged guitar, ' -.
sharp-shooting bass runs, unswerving drum beats and the
occasional howling vocal. Add to this one of the most painfully instant melodies I've
ever heard ('Being Is More Than Life') and it's one of the best releases of 2007. And like
all good bands, Baby Grandmothers' average track length is 1 5 minutes or something.
News of an incoming double vinyl issue has made my non-existent summer.
plan b 1 91
together in electric dreams
Words: Robin Wilks and Emily Bick
Daft Punk's first feature film, Electroma, is a surreal, melancholy sci-fi fable light years from their laser-guided parties.
Robin Wilks meets the enigmatic electro auteurs, while Emily Bick gets robo-sexual...
The townspeople want you out of here. They do not
like the way you look.
Not because you're a robot; for they are robots
too - behold their shiny chrome heads glinting
in the sun as they go about their daily business,
washing their cars, mowing the lawn, walking to
work. No, the reason they want you out is because
you have assumed a human head, or rather a
freakish representation of a human head, sculpted
out of liquid latex that was poured over your robot
bonce -and the hot, hot sun is making it melt. Your
face is dripping, bit by bit, onto the floor. Your eyes
and mouth are drooping, distorting. You look utterly
grotesque. Your attempts to assume a human
countenance have made you resemble more of
a monster than any of the inhuman machines here.
So what do you do? You turn, and you run.
Think of Daft Punk, and what springs to mind?
I'm guessing stuff like synths, lasers shooting into
space, robots, computers, French people, and
upbeat dance music.
Electroma, the French house duo's first feature
film, is the point where they leave all of these
associations behind. OK, the robots are still there,
of course; their trademark electronic counterparts
play a central part in the film. But it's still far from
what you'd expect from them, and roughlya million
miles from the tone of their current live show,
which is a fast-paced, hi-tech, fun and immediate
Electroma, by contrast, couldn't be much slower-
paced. Its plot could be summed up in a short
paragraph, and most of the footage comprises very,
very long shots of robots walking (or driving) slowly
92 | plan b
into the distance. The scenes are frequently strange,
bleak and sad; and the film incorporates alienation,
bereavement, loss of identity, euthanasia, suicide,
and a close-up of a hairy minge.
Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo, one-half of
Daft Punk, says the film was born out of a series
of images. "It came quite spontaneously, quite fast.
We didn't have a script before we started filming,
it's really more experimental than that, and the
plot is not like one of those 'adventures'. It's more
inspired by Surrealism and paintings than a regular
action film or blockbuster. We paid more attention
to the location and landscapes and natural light and
filming than to the actual screenplay; so it's quite
a visual and slow movie."
This approach leads to long, beautifully shot
set-pieces that seem to last indefinitely. These are
often loaded with emotion - not least the scene
when, after the two robots' faces melt, they retreat
to a toilet to wash them off, and one of them stands
still and stares at his face in the mirror for an age,
unwilling or unprepared to remove the hideous and
deformed artificial human visage. And then there's
the final, epic sequence in the desert, but I'll leave
it to you to find out what happens there.
Electroma's almost-static approach to
filmmaking is given a lot more gravitas by its
soundtrack, itself interspersed with long periods
of total silence. In the drawn-out, repetitive
atmosphere of the movie, time seems to loop
up and become endless (a sensation heightened
by the epic qualities of the Los Angeles landscape
in which Electroma was filmed), which serves to
heighten the senses and make the music sound
All of which makes this an ideal framework
within which to air some of the duo's favourite
tunes. The soundtrack is like a really great mixtape,
full of surprises, a combination of pieces that suit
the action they've been combined with perfectly,
despite frequently being the last thing you'd expect
to hear. Brian Eno, Curtis Mayfield, Jackson C Frank,
Linda Perhacs, Todd Rundgren and Sebastian Tellier
rub shoulders with Haydn, Chopin and Allegri in this
And perhaps most surprisingly of all, there are
none of Daft Punk's own tracks. "That was part of
the challenge for us, because this is the first time we
made images without using our own music, " says
de Homem-Christo. "We worked hard on itand
tried a lot of music from our collections, and we
are really happy that it worked."
The duo's interest in filmmaking started before
Daft Punk, but was further piqued by being on set
with the fledgling filmmakers who directed the
band's early videos, several of whom - including
Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry-
went on to direct high-profile features. The duo
then started making some of their own videos,
and created the strange DAFT DVD, and even
a 14-part Daft Punk Manga series entitled Interstella
5555, before hitting on the vague idea of making
a feature film.
But Electroma is clearly a change of direction
after the quirky, upbeat nature of what came
before. "What we wanted was to make something
completely different," says de Homem-Christo.
"I think many people didn't expect Electroma to
be how it is, and we're really happy about. Maybe
it is sad, but I don't think we thought about it that
'We like the relationship
between technology and
way, it just happened. But it follows our usual
way of operating, which is never to do the same
So why the continued obsession with robots?
"At first it was a way to represent ourselves,
as robot people, " de Homem-Christo explains.
" And people have a really special relationship
people with the Daft Punk robots, especially when
we go on tour. The whole thing of pop stars is so
fake, and this is different, people don't have a big
idol onstage, so they are just being more natural
and enjoying themselves. But we like robots
anyway, we are big fans of sci-fi, and we like the
relationship between technology and humans,
it's such a rich relationship."
It's a complex relationship, too, for as Electroma
shows, the Daft Punk robots aren't the only ones
putting on human masks; there's a lot of us out
there. And you never know when your own mask
might melt and distort in the sun, bringing to light
the contrived nature of your own identity. As sci-fi
robot fantasies go, Electroma feels more real than
you'd ever expect. (RW)
Electroma is released on DVD on 3 September.
silver metal lovers
Electroma is brilliant for many reasons, but I particularly love how it skewers the (neu)romantic
ideal of how perfect life would be if we could all become robots- totally logical and
glamorously metallic, sexy as hell for not needing sex.
Electroma gives us two robots who want to be human. Why these robots would want to be
human is unclear at first- they live in a world of robots and there don't seem to be any other
humans around to give them ideas. Besides, it seems as if they only want to be human because
in the worst ways, they already are. Most of the robots in the film are stereotypical suburban
townspeople -they tend their gardens, carry briefcases, wait tables. It all seems pretty sterile.
But 'Hero' robots one and two want none of this.They cruise around in their Ferrari, strut in
black leather, and get cosmetic latex human faces plastered over their metallic visors.
A lot of robots-becoming-human fiction is about 'passing' the other way, whether that's
by acing a Turing test or getting it on with protoplasmic fleshbags. Indeed, hot sex is the sign
of, and reward for, being human. Does anyone remember that episode of Star Trek: The Next
Generaf/or? where android Data announces that he's "fully functional in every way", and
Lieutenant TashaYar decides to test this byjumping him in a lift? Tanith Lee's novel TheSilver
Metal Lover\s all about a silver-skinned (but otherwise obviously based on David Bowie) robot
who happens to be an expert musician, and runs off with a human lover who manages to
circumvent his programming and bring him to orgasm, making him 'real'. There's a lot of
robot/woman porn out there - both in Heavy Metal comics and the video for Add N To X's
'Metal Fingers In My Body', though that robot is more of an ambulatory dildo for hire.
So our ElectromaWc heroes come out as human, and get chased out of town. Why? Maybe
they're too sexy, their human masks declare deviant lust. And maybe they are gay, too - if their
car and leathers weren't homoerotic enough, after escaping the mob they gaze sorrowfully
through their melted faces at each other. They don't touch, but it's ambiguous and tender.
They flee to the desert, and wander around as exiles. There's a longstanding trope in
science fiction of the poor robot standing alone in a desert, calmly surveying the wreckage
of human civilisation. Consider robots like Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy,
abandoned to wait millennia for the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe to open, or that
creepy Haley Joel Osment Kid-bot in the film Al, who spends eons on the ocean floor, staring
at a freaking statue. In another inversion, Electroma gives us robots who aren't left stranded
in a desert, but go there willingly, to seek a resolution to their not-being-human problem.
While our heroes wander through the dunes, one set of hills becomes a gynecological
close up of a lady's crotch yawning wide in front of them. What is this? It's not sexy. Some sort
of return to the womb? But they're robots, so they can't be reborn, and the only action they're
getting is (probably) visor-to-visor vanilla back in the town, so with birth and sex crossed off,
that leaves death on the big 'things to do while human' list. This they succeed at, in a typically
human, cack-handed way: one robot triggers the other one's suicide pack, but can't reach
his own, so smashes his visor and uses it as a lens to set himself on fire. It's like the stupid,
irrational, passionate death of jihadis or Buddhist monks who douse themselves in petrol.
No logic-respecting bot would be so rash.
So our heroic robots win some kind of humanity, I guess - 1 just wish they could have
gotten there not by annihilation, but by having a hot gay robot sex scene when they peeled
their melted faces off. It would be the best of both worlds. (EB)
plan b 1 93
film & dvd
eat our shorts
Words: Everett True
The Simpsons Movie is out - only
about 1 4 years too late. Is it any good?
Are you kidding?
The Simpsons Movie
dir David Silverman, Akom, 87 mins
It's my comfort zone.
When I'm weary, when I don't want to think any
more, I crave its familiarity, the solace its characters
derive from one another, its caustic - sometimes
cutting, rarely spiteful - humour. The fact that,
at the end of the day, Homer will return home to
Marge and the kids, or Moe's, usually unbowed,
stupidly hopeful for tomorrow. I love its touch
points: the elementary school, Lisa's gentle
smartness and saxophone, the way Maggie trips
over after every fourth step, Marge's search for
betterment, Grandpa in the old folk's home,
Bart's skateboard and nerdy inclinations...! have
numerous home-recorded videos of The Simpsons,
the first nine (is it 10?) seasons on DVD: these are
moments I can return to endlessly, same as Elvis
Costello's first six albums, as West Side Story -
here, at least, I can feel part of mainstream society,
its behavioural patterns, likes and dislikes. Most
TV I eschew. It winds me up -I never understood
the appeal of soap operas (say), why folk would
want to watch other folk being crap to one another.
The Simpsons never behave in a crap way to one
another, least not in that sense.
I remember clearly when I first encountered The
Simpsons: it was like several Christmases had come
at once, urn, no, not Christmas, I hate that season
of despair and bloated party animals festering in the
aisles, maybe Ramones concerts... I was in Boston,
hanging with Galaxie 500 and genial post-Dinosaur
Jr riff-mongers Buffalo Tom, staying at Chris from
Buffalo Tom's apartment. ItwasSuperbowl Day:
man, I was excited to see that - not for the game
itself, but for the immersion into an alien society.
My friends left me to it (they were all too familiar
with the alien society), but not before asking if I'd
heard of Matt Groening. Of course I had: he was
the cartoonist behind the hilarious, one-joke,
downtrodden Life Is Hell strips. "Well, then,"
someone remarked off-handedly, little realising
the epochal moment they were about to create in
my life. "You might enjoy this..." and handed me
a tape of the first season of The Simpsons.
Since that year, The Simpsons have stayed with
me as a constant in a life sometimes filled with
I'd happily punch the person
who thought up the cack-handed
execution of Maud Flanders
turmoil, often filled with stasis. I don't watch them
for the jokes - although, sure that episode where
Moe is thinking of changing his bar to a family
emporium and he's running through alternative
ideas to Homer, with Barney hidden underneath
a decorator's sheet exclaiming "I like it!", never
fails to crack me up - nor does the immortal " My
freaking ears!" line from Rod (or is it Tod?) after
Moe blows several gaskets later the same show. . .
and yes, there are thousands of them. But it's for
the companionship, the overwhelming warmth
I feel whenever I hear those opening credits start
up, that I return to The Simpsons again and again.
Plus, its characters are way more believable than
pretty much anyone else I've been unfortunate
enough to catch on TV.
Or rather. ..used to be.
You all know what happened: somewhere round
the ninth season (or was it the 1 0th?), the show's
writers started messing with the formula; giving
Homer more and more unbelievable jobs, killing off
characters at random (I'd happily punch the person
who thought up the cack-handed execution of
Maud Flanders), moving away from the family unit
and into the realms of the cartoon characters they
so resembled, except in
substance. The actual
moment The Simpsons
began to degenerate
into a tired copy of
itself has been well-
documented: it was
the episode where
we discover Principal
Seymour Skinner isn't
all he seems to be, indeed isn't even called Skinner
at all. Much like when they started giving Superman
'dream' sequences instead of plot lines, nothing was
the same in Springfield after that.
Sure, I went to see The Simpsons Movie. How
couldn't I? It was as I expected: a handful of great
one-liners, including the excellent 'Spider Pig' song,
a dire plot which culminates in Homer riding round
the underside of a giant plastic dome enclosing
Springfield on a motorbike (urn, hello? Reality
check?), Homer turned into a nasty piece of shit
instead of the bumbling, sometimes thoughtless,
but always well-meaning, human he used to be,
Marge entirely relegated to the role of nagging wife,
Lisa virtually nowhere and also alarmingly shrill, the
awesome supporting cast given about 1 seconds
of screen time each...
There's a golden rule in comic books that
Groening, at least, ought to know. You don't mess
with the continuity of a title. Over recent years,
The Simpsons writers have fucked with everything
that once made the series so great, and now they're
reaping the rewards. Guess it doesn't matter. Guess
it still rakes in the bucks.
If you want to see a great example of a TV
cartoon series making the transition to big screen,
don't turn here: look to 1 999's South Park: The
Musical or even (astonishingly) 1996's Beaw's4nd
Butt-head Do America instead. Springfield's been
an empty shell for a long time now.
94 1 plan b
dir Nicholas Ray, 1956, BFI, 91 mins
Distant Voices, Still Lives
dir Terence Davies, BFI, 1988, 80 mins
British art film Distant Voices, Still Lives is as subtle as it is
penetrating. Bigger Than Life is a classic example of great art
made within the confines of the Hollywood system. Its heavy
use of symbolism places it in direct contrast with Davies' film,
yet both focus on the negative dominance of the father. Ray
performs an autopsy upon the American Dream and makes
no attempt to hide it. The picture is ostensibly about drug
abuse - a teacher is prescribed the new 'miracle drug'
cortisone as his only means of survival - but it really offers
a damning portrait of Fifties values blown up under the
microscope. James Mason's Ed Avery is a decent, upstanding
man and we feel his plight every step of the way. Everything
he says, and all he becomes, through his misuse of cortisone
was already there -just less amplified.
Davies' portrait of psychosis is one viewed from the
outside, defined against the fog of the past. Ray externalises
his character's emotions, but here we are left to interpret
behaviour that seems out of place in our time.The emotional
resonance of the film is derived from remembrance, rather
than the acts themselves. The structure of Distant Voices, Still
Livesis carved out of memory, snapshots of a shared working
class past in Forties and Fifties Liverpool given renewed
power. Although notably absent as a physical character in
his own family history, Davies effectively reconstructs himself
with each long tracking shot and every bleach-bypassed hue.
The father (Pete Postlethwaite) is a taciturn brute, capable
of expression only through violence. He terrorises his family,
yet his death -from an undefined illness - acts as a catalyst
for the narrative's temporal instability: blood is, after all,
thicker than water. However, the most moving sequence
in the picture is a beautifully constructed shot of umbrellas
outside a cinema, the camera rising slowly to reveal posters
for the latest Technicolor extravaganzas. It's the triumph of
momentary escape, the brief solace of the past - a scene
that wouldn't be out of place in a Nicholas Ray picture.
dir Charlie Ahearn, 1982, Metrodome , 81 mins
The biggest surprise is that Wild Style actually has a plot.
It's an awkward, stumbling film, following the struggles and
pleasures (girl, art, commerce, breaking, rap) of graffiti artist
Zorro (Lee Quinones) navigating his way through the nascent
hip hop culture of New York '82. Where the audio delights are
acclaimed and absorbed almost to the point of obsolescence
the story provides vital context, allowing those barely out of
nappies when the film debuted to appreciate the electricity
of extended cameos from Double Trouble, Grandmaster Flash
andThe Cold Crush Brothers.As Quinones admits in one of
the new interviews tacked onto this 25th anniversary edition,
"We captured an innocent moment, we weren't acting" .And
that's why, even if there's no chance in '07 of coming to Wild
5fy/efresh, there's also no way to stop it coming fresh at you.
Ringo P Stacey
Haxan - Witchcraft Through The Ages
dir Benjamin Christensen, 1922, Tartan, 1 04 mins
Calling Haxan 'the first cult movie' is flippant,
yet not without truth. All the surface
indicators are there: Benjamin Christensen's
1 922 silent deals with deviant occult practices,
caused outrage on its release and is quite hard
to sit through in its entirety. Like a lot of 'cult'
movies, too, you might have caught snippets
of it in the background, as your friend with all
the Redemption vids passed the bong around,
leaving a faint memory of silently gibbering,
flickering crones crouched around fires and
cauldrons; gleefully priapic, drum-beating
devils; a horse skeleton and everywhere the
exaggerated movements and expressions and
betwixt demonstrations of love potions
(made from cat poo and a dove's heart),
flying/lucid dreaming, inquisitions and how
to kill someone by pissing on their doorstep.
Yet its silent status makes Haxan
fundamentally ambiguous, in that its
mood can be altered completely by choice
of soundtrack. This re-release includes the
Danish theatrical music from the Forties,
which is pretty generic, but adds two new
soundtracks. Geoff Smith's hammer dulcimer
composition references European traditional
music, while the slightly unearthly sound of
the instrument itself is inherently unheimlich
and cackly; Bronnt Industries Kapital,
meanwhile, create a stretched, melancholy
dronescape attuned to the film's nocturnal
You might have caught snippets of it in
the background, as your friend with the
Redemption vids passed the bong around
craggy faces that bring to mind a medieval
engraving more than any cinematic work.
Its 'cult' status is such that it exists to many
as a pure visual idea, a series of iconic, proto-
horror stills, rather than any kind of narrative,
However, it's interesting to note Haxan's
original status as a documentary- a surreal,
semi-dramatised, dreamlike documentary,
sure, but one that was intended as both an
examination of medieval superstition and
a reminder of the injustice of Europe's witch
trials, which scapegoated society's outsiders
as the devil's servants. It begins with an
elegant, hallucinatory sequence describing
the medieval cosmology that gave rise to
concepts of demonology and hell -and uses
jerky, puppettheatre animation to illustrate
the torments of the damned. The famous and
frankly amazing scenes of demonic frolics in
darkened woods don't come until late on.
tones (it was shot almost entirely at night).
Also included is a 1968 oddity: an edit of
the film overlaid with an avant-garde jazz
score and the narration of none other than
William Burroughs. The jazz sits oddly with
such a definitively European visual aesthetic,
as do Burroughs' sardonic tones, but hearing
him drawl, "Here's a demon, giving one of
the damned a drink of horrid. ..brimstone...
liquid" is unashamedly cool, even if you left
Burroughs behind with the Redemption
movies and the bong.
Ultimately, Haxan benefits from these
different interpretations -because it inspires
you to get your own going. Whether that's
selecting some early Modernist orchestral
music and ploughing through the whole
thing, or skipping straight to the Sabbath bit
and cranking up the latest Mayhem album
with the intoxicant of your choice to hand,
it's your call. I'd recommend both.
plan b 1 95
at the movies
Words: Dickon Edwards
Two-dimensional women, mono-glottal ambassadors, vicious bullies and
starchy women... Plan B returns to the cheap seats
cars and cult movies. The only character with any
hint of depth and sympathy is, worryingly enough,
Kurt Russell's insane killer. Even more worryingly, he
closely resembles Morrissey. As in Morrissey today.
Still, when the action sequences finally do arrive,
they dazzle and delight, as does the inevitable DJ
Tarantino soundtrack. This time, the Stealers Wheel
moment is a lap dance to a superbly groovy version
of 'Baby It's You', not by The Shirelles or The Beatles,
but by the late Sixties band Smith. Tarantino clearly
thinks it should be better-known, and in this respect
at least, he's absolutely right.
Decent dialogue is all 2 Days In Paris, Julie
Delpy's low-budget comedy, can afford to offer.
So it's just as well she can crank out the wit in that
Woody Allen-esque bickering style. In this tale of
a couple's break-up in the City Of Light, American
boyfriend Adam Goldberg feels very much the
mono-glottal ambassador of hated imperialism,
while Delpy's Parisian character suffers the
alienation of an ex-pat's return.
Were Delpy not French herself, Two In Paris
would be accused of severe Francophobia.
According to her script, in Paris the cabbies are
creepy woman isers or racist Le Pen fans, men
are offal-munching sex maniacs, women are
promiscuous and solipsistic, there's no decent
plumbers and -horrors! -no broadband. It
should be re-titled Paris, Je Te Deteste
Frustratingly, she gives all the best lines to
Goldberg, yet retains the narration for her own,
far less likeable character. But for the sheer volume
of well-crafted one-liners, droll satirical observations
and superb performances, Two In Paris is an
watchable, if cruel, excursion.
Death Proof dir Quentin Tarantino, Dimension, 11 3 mins
2 Days In Paris dir Julie Delpy, Tempete Sous un Crane, 96 mins
Tough Enough dir Detlev Buck, Boje Buck, 98 mins
Evening dir Lajos Koltai, Hart-Sharp, 1 1 7 mins
It's hard to watch Death Proof without suppressing
the urge to shout at the screen, "Hurry up and cut to
the chase - literally! " Given some judicious editing,
Quentin Tarantino's latest could be as stylishly
enjoyable as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. Once
again he's created a fully-realised, self-aware world
steeped in obscure movie references and retro
homages. Present and correct are Seventies flick
hairdos and Charlie's Angels ensembles on the
young female protagonists, who only listen to music
made before they were born (or in the case of April
March's 'Chick Habit', Nineties music that wants to
Tarantino is nothing if
not forthcoming with
be Sixties). There are lingering close-ups of their
perfect bare feet-Tarantino is nothing if not
forthcoming with his fetishes - as they brandish
iPods, send text messages and debate the use
of CGI in movies. It's as much a fantasy universe
as anything byTolkein.
This time, though, the director is dangerously
close to boring the hotpants off his fans through
over-indulgence. A slew of fake print scratches,
dips into black and white, and glitches of repetition
aim for an authentic look of vintage trashiness. It's
a smart-ass in-joke, but one with a limited shelf life:
such affectations peter out by the last reel.
But the real indulgence is the interminable
length of the girls' dialogue. Remember that brilliant
opening conversation in Reservoir Dogs, all Eighties
Madonna lyrics and the ethics of tipping? Imagine
that lasting the best part of an hour before the
gangsters 'go to work', and you're in Deaf/?
Proof territory. Only when Kurt Russell's psychotic
stunt driver turns up to make mayhem with his
proof jalopy, does the
film shift into first gear.
One problem is that
hip young women are
as two-dimensional as
the archetypal damsels
in distress, so it's hard
being in their company
too long. It's no good
characters are well-
written just because
they can kick ass as well
as shake it, or because
they can talk as boringly
as men about classic
Over in the rough ethnic districts of Berlin, life
is no fun at all for a white teenage boy, abruptly
ejected from a middle-class background. In Tough
Enough, young David Kross cuts a mesmerising
figure as a lonely Dennis Cooper-like youth, finding
his innocent beauty a lucrative asset when local
gangsters need a new drug-runner. They also
protect him from the vicious bullies he suffers at
school, and he finds himself living a kind of German
Goodfellas life until events take a decidedly less
romantic turn. Grim, but gripping.
Evening is an unabashed Actorly Weepie, and
knows its place. A lachrymose women's drama
about a missed romantic opportunity in youth, it
sails dangerously close to the schmaltzy TV Movie
genre, despite its literary leanings. There's the usual
formulaic echoey piano that goes with such button-
pushing fare, and it's all filmed beautifully: you come
out whistling the sunsets. What's inescapable is that
Vanessa Redgrave and Claire Danes are severely
miscast as old and young versions of the same
character. Even when Ms Redgrave was Ms Danes'
age in films I ike Blow Up she was still aloof, starchy
and brittle. Ms Danes is gregarious, sweet and
quirky. It's like comparing an angsty stick of celery
to an angsty strawberry.
Words: Everett True
Dogs in space, teenagers growing up on the Ivory Coast,
The Black Diamond Detective Agency... Plan B investigates
the latest graphic novels
Marguerite Abouet/Clement Oubrerie (Jonathan Cape)
Nick Abadzis (First Second)
The Black Diamond Detective Agency
Eddie Campbell (First Second)
Solipsism is rife in comic books these days.
Maybe it always was. Maybe that's true in literature, too - but it certainly
seems impossible to pick up a slipstream comic (those that don't just concern
themselves with manga, vigilantes or superheroes) without being made to
suffer some extreme navel-gazing as yet another American twenty-something
regales us with tales of his un-extraordinary life, complete with un-extraordinary
mates. It's like Kate Nash, without the beats.
So it should come as no surprise that three of the most intriguing, and
downright readable, graphic novels of recent months come from folk raised
outside the US. All understand that the world doesn't begin and end with one's
shaving habits and late-night beer runs, and that the comic book is an excellent
medium for telling stories.
The engaging Aya is perhaps the closest to a usual slipstream comic, being
set in the town where its author Abouet grew up. Three teenage girls - bookish
Aya and her fun-loving friends Adjoua and Bintou -traverse dance parties, boys
and disapproving parents as they stumble over the entry blocks to adulthood.
But Aya isn't biographical, and it's also set in Seventies Abidjan, the glamorous
French-speaking capital of the Ivory Coast; and so the dancing takes place in
open-air bars, and the girls snack on chicken in peanut sauce - but for all the
cultural differences, this tale could easily have been taking place in the streets
of Chicago, London or Tokyo. Emotions are the same the world over.
Anyone familiar with bandes dessinees, rooted in the 'clear line' of Herge's
Tintin, will enjoy Oubrerie's fluid, cartoon-y style, as he goes about depicting
an Africa that is easy-going and prosperous -far removed from Western images
of despots, famine and AIDS victims. The three protagonists are barely aware
of politics as they go about their daily business of flirting and studying and
sneaking out after hours. Perhaps ^ya's greatest trick is the way it bridges
cultural divides so naturally -that you find yourself lost in the streets of Abidjan
without even noticing a change of climate.
Laika - English writer/illustrator Nick Abadzis' tribute to the abandoned
puppy that became the first dog in space - is just as sweet. Meticulously
researched, Laika is told from the viewpoint of three characters; Laika herself,
Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika 's care, and Korolev, the engineer
in charge of the Soviet space programme. It's fast-paced, with formal borders
and an abundance of panels, almost filmic in feel as Abadzis extrapolates the
story along fanciful lines, though believable. What impresses most is the volume
of content -from the sequences of Laika free-falling in zero gravity, to the
stormy exchanges between the scientists and officials, to the market vendors
in Laika 's hometown. Abadzis' faces are slightly distorted - a jaw distended
here, a forehead elongated there - but all the better to express emotion,
especially as he often removes dialogue from panels altogether. This
is a gripping Girl's Own tale, in the classic, 'let's climb Mount Everest', sense.
The Black Diamond Detective Agency is even more gripping: set in
America at the turn of the 20th Century, centered round a train bombing that
sees the eponymous agency of the title hot on the trail of a mysterious stranger.
I bow to no one in my regard for its author, relocated Australian Eddie Campbell,
- his autobiographical The Fate Of The Artist (2006) is one of the finest works
in comic books, full stop: and both Alec and his telling of the Jack The Ripper
story with Alan Moore, From Hell are gems. But this work confuses me a little.
Campbell never patronises his audience - one of his most endearing series
features Bacchus, the God of Wine, brought into the present-day with ancient
Greek references that make the eyes water in their detail - but this also means
he can confuse if you're not paying strict attention. The story here seems to leap
around a little, with scant explanation added for the breaks in narrative. Also,
this being an adaptation of a film screenplay means that sometimes the strip
can feel like storyboards, albeit beautifully rendered (there are a couple of street
shots of 1 890s Chicago that took my breath away with their moody realism).
Still, there's a cover that lovingly builds upon the work of fellow comics book
genius Chris Ware, and there's a very satisfactory conclusion, all guns blazing.
However, I'm beginning to think I prefer Campbell (From Hell, aside) when
he's depicting his own life -indeed, when he's exhibiting a little of the solipsism
I usually deride. But the thing is: Campbell clearly doesn't believe the world
begins and ends around himself. And that's something his lesser peers would
do well to remember.
This tale could easily have been
taking place in the streets of
Chicago, London or Tokyo
plan b 1 97
OK, so clearly you have memorised (at least)
one piece of ridiculous hyperbole regarding
yrself. Please quote your favourite here.
"Well, there seems to be a huge demographic
out there that refuses to stop insisting that I was
once a member of The MC5. 1 keep changing my
email address, but they keep finding me. Fucking
internet. You can run, but you can't hide."
What is the biggest misconception about you?
"That I became fabulously wealthy from Shimmy-
Disc. To become flat broke because I cannot
suppress my passions (and because I'm too stupid
to just do the math), then hear folks say I've bought
an atoll off the coast of Jamaica, is disheartening,
to say the least. Brought me to tears on more than
What is the most over-used adjective about
"'Genius'. Jonas Salk was a genius. Norman Borlaug
is a genius. I'm just a regular bloke who wishes he
was brave enough to make movies (picking up
where John Cassavetes left off), but settles for
doing what he's good at, instead."
What word never gets used that should?
What concept or detail is always missed?
What was the most heinous lie you ever told
in an interview?
"I never lied in an interview, but long ago, on a train
to some gig in the UK with Galaxie 500, the three
members of that great band were whining over a
questionnaire they were given (not terribly dissimilar
to this one I am wading into now, in fact), which
each member had to fill out individually, for the back
page of some magazine. Naomi was so frustrated
with the whole notion of having to do it that she
handed hers to me and said, 'Here, Kramer. You fill
this out for me. Make it funny.' The final question
was, 'How do you want to die?' I answered, 'On
a pool table'. That was the last time Naomi asked
me complete a questionnaire for her. . . "
What was your worst interview and/or
photoshoot experience? And what was
"The weirdest and the worst was a London shoot
with Butthole Surfers in 1 985, for which everyone
in the band (except myself) was peaking on acid.
Gibby, drooling and farting profusely, was being
a complete asshole. Paul thought the photographer
was James Bond in disguise and was out to poison
him. I was trying to hold it all together in front of
the appalled magazine rep who attended the shoot
'I looked down into
the audience and in
front of the stage was
a guy who looked
exactly like me...'
begging for tolerance. When the magazine came
out two weeks later, it was not a photo from this
shoot that graced the front cover, but a photo
of myself only. Still dangerously high on acid,
Gibby and Paul went insane when they saw it,
believing that I had conspired with the magazine
to exclude them.
If you were a music magazine editor, who
would you feature and why? Who would
you put on the cover?
"Tessa and Susannah Rubinstein of Little
Aida, feature and cover. In part for personal
reasons, because I love them so dearly, but
primarily because their music takes me to an
imaginary place, a thousand worlds away from
this fucking business, where commerce and all
the exquisite horrors of being an artist do not exist. . .
where the music simply is, and all else crumbles to
dust. The next issue would feature Dot Allison. "
Do you ever Google yourself? What's the best/
worst/weirdest experience resulting from this?
"Nope, I have never Googled myself. Life is too
short. I also don't look into the mirror when I shave,
or at my toilet paper after I wipe. I'm a collaborator.
My passions and interests lie wholly beside the souls
of others. It's a curse called altruism that I cannot
seem to shake."
What's the favourite of your record covers and
why? What does it, y'know, say about you?
"I think my favourite may be The Secret Of Comedy,
an elegantly simple black-and-white photo by
Shimmy photographer (and oldest friend) Macioce
which began as a satire on King Crimson's Red,
but soon became the template for everything I was
feeling at the time. It successfully conveys what
I was trying to convey with the music therein. My
favorite record cover on Shimmy-Disc was Sickness
& Health, byTheSemibeings. I laugh myself silly just
thinking about it."
What brilliant (at the time) ideas regarding
'direction' or presentation or whatever are you
now glad you never followed?
"To become a 'serious composer', which is what
early mentors Christian Wolff and LaMonte Young
wanted me to become. I almost went there, too.
Are there any territories where you've never
had any success? Where are they? Why d'you
think this is the case? And where are you
" My last tour of Borneo was cancelled for lack of
ticket sales. Something to do with a Dengue fever
outbreak though, so I don't think what I do as an
artist should shoulder the blame for it. I'm pretty big
in Hof , Germany, I think. "
Have you ever covered a song 'cause you think
you can do it better than the original? Have
you ever covered a song by a band you didn't
like? Who's the worst (or weirdest) band you
ever supported? Who was the worst (or
weirdest) that ever supported you?
"I only cover songs I adore by artists I adore, and
I only release those covers if the results are, in my
opinion, better than the original. The best and worst
double-bill experiences, oddly, came on consecutive
nights. The worst was in 1 983 Dallas, Texas for
Jonathan Richman. He was far and away the biggest
asshole I ever had the displeasure of sharing a green
room with, bar none. I've shared green rooms with
the likes of everyone from Snoop Dogg to Van
Morrison, and even the barely-human John Lurie,
so this is quite a prize.
"The best was when Shockabilly 'supported'
Butthole Surfers in Austin the very next night. . .the
first night I made contact with them, and perhaps
the greatest show I ever saw. In 24 hours, I'd really
run the gamut."
What's the most actually fairly insane thing
a fan has done to impress you?
"I once did a gig in Quebec where I looked down
into the audience and right in front of the stage
was a guy who looked exactly like me (we're talkin'
spitting image here), wearing a bubblegum-pink
Shimmy-Disc shirt. He had the same hair, same
48-hour stubble, same glasses and same boney
ass. I was told later by the club owner that this
guy was my 'biggest fan in Canada'.
"That experience gave me nightmares for
years. They'll probably start up again tonight, thanks
98 1 plan b
'It was like a magic factory. Imagine
that. A factory that could make magic'
15 th RAINDANCE
Apparently the best independent film
from the UK and around the world
Full listings at www.raindance.co.uk
tiscali. A DELTA
THE NEW ALBUM
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