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September 2007 



THERE IS ONLY ONE 




IN WICHITA 



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 



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BLOC PARTY 

A WEEKEND IN THE CITY 

NME ALBUM OF THE WEEK 
"one of Britain's best bands" 



futn, /Sfcnn tfhnd iwn 


_ 


f>- ' g 


JP 



PETER BJORN AND JOHN 

WRITER'S BLO CK] ' t 

NME 9/10 "Outrageous fun" 

- Includes the single 'Young Folks' 





EUROS CHILDS 

THE MIRACLE INN 

PLAN B "Good times . . . glimmers 
of offbeat pop . . . so endearing" 



MEG BAIRD 

DEAR COMPANION 

THE OBSERVER "Gorgeous, 
understated melancholy" 



i 





SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO 

ATTACK DECAY SUSTAIN 
RELEASE 

iDJ ALBUM OF THE MONTH 
"the perfect dance album" 



THE CRIBS 

MEN'S NEEDS, WOMEN'S 
NEEDS, WHATEVER 

NME ALBUM OF THE WEEK 
"the sexiest dirty pop record 
of the year" 




WuMM 




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 




magazine 



PlanB 

1 56-1 58 Gray's Inn Road 

London 

WC1X8ED 

020 7278 5070 



Publisher: Chris Houghton 
chris@planbmag.com 07984 814 069 
Assistant Publisher: Richard Stacey 
richard@planbmag.com 
Advertising: Nick Taylor 
nick.taylor@planbmag.com 07941 715 815 

Printed by Stones The Printers 
www.stonestheprinters.co.uk 

Distribution: 

Warners Group Distribution (newsagents, 

retail chains, international) 01 778 391 194 

andrews@warnersgroup.co.uk 

Cargo Records (independent record shops) 

info@cargorecords.co.uk 

Plan B is published by Plan B Publishing Ltd 

www.planbmag.com 

ISSN 1744-2435 



FEATURES 

38-39 Tronics 

40-41 Bass Clef 

42-47 Animal Collective 

48-49 Vialka 

50-51 Future Of The Left 

52-53 NistaNijeNista 

54-59 Antifolk (UK) 

THE VOID 

10-11 Chrome Hoof 

12 Effi Briest, In The Mix: Caribou 

14 A Sunny Day In Glasgow 

16 Read The Label: Yaala! Yaala! 

18-19SinglesClub 

20 Music That Time Forgot: Amiga/ST music 

22 Why I Hate.. Bill Hicks 

24-25 Tour Diary: Oxbow, Playlist: Dirty 

Space Disco 

26 Eats Tapes 

28 Eyvind Kang.Why I Love...Coldplay's 

Parachutes 

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 

LIVE 

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 



ALBUMS 

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 

Heads, Shearwater 

90-91 REISSUES Elvis Costello, Summer Records 

Anthology, Motorhead, The Sex Pistols 

MEDIA 

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 

Detective Agency 




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 
from CTCL 

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. 
Chris Houghton 

I don't like to think about Plan Btoo much. Not in that way, 
that is. 

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. 

Oh boy... 
Everett True 




magazine 



Editor-in-Chief: Everett True everett@planbmag.com 
Art Director: Andrew Clare andrew@planbmag.com 
Photography Sarah Bowles sarah@planbmag.com 
Editors: Cat Stevens cat@planbmag.com 

Editor: Frances Morgan frances@planbmag.com 

The Void: kicking_k kick@planbmag.com 

Reviews: Louis Pattison louis@planbmag.com 

Film& DVD: EverettTrueeverett@planbmag.com 

Media: Frances Morgan frances@planbmag.com 

Contributing DanielTrilling daniel@planbmag.com 
Editors: Stewart Gardiner stewart@planbmag.com 

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 

Photographers: 

TobyAmieswww.tobyamies.com 

CourtneyBrookwww.flickr.com/photos/courtneybrooke 

Adam Faradaywww.adamfaraday.com 

Simon Fernandez www.simonfernandezphotography.com 

EmilyGrahamwww.emilygrahamphoto.co.uk 

Mei Lewis www.meilewis.com 

Penny McDonnell www.provoke-ism.com 

Greg Neate www.neatephotos.com 

Owen Richards www.owenrichards.co.uk 

CatStevenswww.catstevensphotography.co.uk 

Brian Sweeneywww.sweeneypix.com 

BrianTamborellowww.briantamborello.com 

Andrew Whitton www.whitton.tv 

Illustrators: 

JussiBrightmorejussi@bluedotdotdot.com 

Graham Corcoran graham.corcoran@gmail.com 

LindaCoulterwww.lindacoulter.co.uk 

Thorn Dowsewww.thomasdowse.co.uk 

French funeralfrench@yahoo.com 

Isabel Bostwick bee@isabelbostwick.com 

Lady Lucy www. ladyl ucy.tk 

Marcus Oakley banjo@dircon.co.uk 

Overture www.opertura.org 

Pelletwww.pelletfactory.com 

Ryan Peltierwww.ryanpeltier.com 

Simon Peplow dtydreamer@hotmail.co.uk 

Naomi Ryderwww.naomiryder.co.uk 

Dimitri Simakis www.valianteffort.net 

Chris Summerlin www.honeyisfunny.com 

EmilyTwomeyemilygolden@hotmail.co.uk 

VincentVanolivincent.vanoli@free.fr 

Walkerxere_solar_knight@yahoo.co.uk 

Anke Weckmann www.linotte.net 

Kai Wong kaiwaytohell@hotmail.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 
download 



"thrilling" **** uncut 
"absurdly exhilarating" **** gu 



includes singles 
'doing it right' 



and 'grip like a vie 
M i ill 

ggmflmrpir: 
1 1 H 1 1 1 1 II 1 1 1 1 II 1 1 1 




I ■::..■. 

* guardian 



see website for details 



www.thegoteam.co.uk 

www.myspace.com/thegoteam 

www.memphis-industries.com 



f fffc 













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. 

Midlake 
Balloon Maker 

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. 

Francoiz Breut 

Over All 

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. 

The Dears 

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 
mean it. 

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. 

Beach House 

Apple Orchard 

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, 
years ago. 

The Czars 

Lullaby 6000 

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. 



Fionn Regan 

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. 

Devics 

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 Autumns 

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 
the pavement. 

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 
like that. 

Stephanie Dosen 

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 
deserted spaces. 

Dirty Three 

Everything's Fucked 

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 



tu 



THE BRIAN JONESTO 
MASSACRE 
Give It Back 



iv thurston g 




Att)*^ I S^f,^ 



THURSTON MOORE 
Trees Outside 
The Academy 

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 ? 
MCDEWO& QAQ 
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; 
unseen footage 




FABIENNE DELSOL 
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 
MASSACRE 
Thank God For Ment 
Illness 

: 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. 









SOMADRONE 
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 




Dark Outside 

;er the internationally 



.. 'debut - sparkling 
idscapes on a majest 
le akin to a Portishea< 
invas. Guests: Howe 
i, Robert Fisher (Willati 



OOBERMAN 
Tie Lost tapes 

v fascinating insight in 
Ooberman's beginnings, 

these rediscovered old 
lemsfrom 1991-2001 r 
upplemented by one ti 

outstandin~ - 
'You're Toi 



REY DATURAS 
thOfNiners 

ince their inception in 
:001, Melbourne's Grey 
Jaturas have been hailed 
i one of the loudest and 
most uncompromisin 
bands in their homelar 
The band have also 
released highly acclairr 










KILL CASINO 
I've Been To London To 
The Queen 

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 
dding instrume 
c band to neocl 
al metal mastei 



overdue follow up to 



004's "Schmack!",1 
time on the band's own 
label, Short Stack. For 

id videos, check 



radioplay for their early 

singles, suave Scottish <" 

Swimmer One release a 



\corn-Yeovil, Action-P 
(ingston, Beatdown-Ne' 



id videos, check and uplifting pop musi 

Terrific' - Mark Radclif 
'Very, very good.' - Th 
Guardian 
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. 



lifc^-iv -i*«* 



L\ 







H 



■■ 






■ 














8 1 plan b 



onwards and upwards 

\ /W l_. I- Hit ™ 



Words: Frances Morgan 
Photography: Simon Fernandez 



v * * 



Marnie Stern 

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 
breathless now. 

'Look up now/ 
she says. 'There's 
the diamond 
ceiling' 

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 
diamond ceiling." 

I look up and there's a low roof patchy with 
condensation. 

I near it. I'm near it. 



plan b | 9 



r* I 



r 



(serf 




the void 



chrome hoof 

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. 

www.southern.com 




rrlONS 




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 
like molasses." 

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." 

www.myspace.com/cariboumanitoba 




eff i briest 

Words: kicking_k 
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, 
for starters." 

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 
non-habitually. " 

Are songs more likely to be collaborative/ 
conceptual projects than biographical or 
single-personal anecdote? 

"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. " 

www.myspace.com/effibriest 



12 | plan b 



I 










1 UMN 

Of THE 

SERAPHS 



#> 



"Autumn of the Seraphs" 

New full-length album out 10-9-07. 

LP-CD 





2007 European Tour: 




Sat 10 Nov 


GERMANY 


BERLIN 


LIDO 


Sun 11 Nov 


GERMANY 


KOLN 
HAMBURG 


GEBAEUDE 9 


Mon 12 Nov 


GERMANY 


KNUST 


Tue 13 Nov 


NETHERLANDS 


ROTTERDAM 


NIGHTTOWN 


Thu 15 Nov 


CH 


GENEVA 


USINE PTR 


Fri 16 Nov 


FRANCE 


BOURGUOIN JALLIEU 


LES ABBATOIRS 


Sat 17 Nov 


FRANCE 


EVREUX 


L'ABORDAGE 


Mon 19 Nov 


FRANCE 


PARIS 


LA MAROQUINERIE 


Tue 20 Nov 


BELGIUM 


ANTWERP 


TRIX 


Wed 21 Nov 


BELGIUM 


LEUVEN 


STUK 


Thu 22 Nov 


UK 


LONDON 


229 


Sun 25 Nov 


IRELAND 


DUBLIN 


WHEELANS 


WWW.PINBACK.COM WWW.TOUCHA 


. 


i -i 




Yl o u C a '" Q o$ 


c ► da 

WWW.CODAAGENCY.COM A * \ 


VITAL 

SALES & MARKETING 



the void 



summer daze 

Words: Fiona Fletcher 
Illustration: AnkeWeckmann 



Professionally dreamy 
sonictechnicians A Sunny 
Day In Glasgow talk chaos 
and farming 




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 
reoccurring dreams 
about tornados' 



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 
your favourite? 

"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." 

www.asunnydayinglasgow.com 



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 
brilliance" Clash 



CASTANETS 

"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 



Sun 16th 
Man 17th 
Tue 18th 
Wed 19th 
Thu 20th 
Fri 21st 
Sun 23rd 
Mod 24th 



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 




the void 



i'ekcs/ an 

YORO DIALLC * ;i 




UCUGGUNI 
YAALALI 




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 
musicianship 



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') 
musicbyYoroSidibeorSamou Diakite." 

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 
forcing close. 

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. 

www.myspace.com/yaalayaalarecords 




16 | plan b 



VM 



0H'1U>»* BWM 



UttttS 



PLUS GUESTS 

ALEXI MURDOCH ( only) 

AND JOHNNY FLYNN (•only) 

OCTOBER 2007 

Tues 23 LEEDS CITY VARIETIES * 
0845 6441881 

Weds 24 GATESHEAD * 

SAGE GATESHEAD VI 

0191 443 4661 

Thur 25 MANCHESTER * 

ACADEMY 2 

08700 600 100 ^ 

Fri 26 BELFAST* Tl 

BELFAST FESTIVAL 

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 

QUEENS HALL 
0131 668 2019 




Wed 31 LONDON • 

SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE 
0870 771 2000 

NOVEMBER 2007 

Thu 1 CARDIFF THE POINT* 

02920 230130 
Fri 2 BRIGHTON • 

ST GEORGES CHURCH 
01273 606312 

Sat 3 NOTTINGHAM* 

RESCUE ROOMS 
08713 100 000 

Sun 4 READING • 

CONCERT HALL 
0118 960 6060 



«*■» gam : % - 

3S w* ERt "^ 



HOOHAA 

THRILL JOCKEYS 15th ANNIVERSARY SHOWS 




NEW ALBUM THE SHEPHERD'S DOG 

RELEASED ON TRANSGRESSIVE RECORDS IN SEPTEMBER 
www.transgressiverecords.co.uk www.ironandwine.com 

AN ATP CONCERTS & SJM CONCERTS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH CODA 



SUNDAY 

11 NOVEMBER 

STARRING 

THE FIERY FURNACES 

TRANS AM 

THE SEA AND CAKE 

CALIFONE 

ARBOURETUM 

RADIAN 

THE ZINCS 

DANIEL HIGGS & 

CHIARA GIOVANDO 




MONDAY 

12 NOVEMBER 

STARRING 

TORTOISE 
BOBBY CONN 
ADULT. 
KTL 




SUNDAY 11 & MONDAY 12 NOVEMBER 

LONDON KOKO 



Exclusive Free TREY TOLD 'EM (Girl Talk & Frank Musarra) 

mix of entire Thrill Jockey catalog comes with every ticket! 



mum 




' 



L' Tues lltii Dbc.SCAL 



iH nr wumn nswrwiti ir mwBDr 



LES SAW FAV 







MONDAY 22 OCTOBER 

LONDON SCALA 



AN ATP CONCERTS PRESENTATION 



1,1 r 






present, 

PLUS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS EARTH 

MONDAY 10 DECEMBER 

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the void 



Words: Stevie Chick, Frances 
Morgan, Louis Pattison and 
kicking_k 
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) 



Vera November 

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, 
understated songwriter. 
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. 

Crystal Castles 

Crimewave (Trouble) 

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 
apolitefuck-you... 



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. 

Comanechi 

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 
Bardo Pond. 

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 
Emma Niblett. 

Kick: She's a compulsive collaborator. 
Louis: I seem to prefer practically everything 
influenced by Sonic Youth over SonicYouth 
themselves. 

Stevie: I wouldn't want to exist in a non- 
Sonic Youth world. 
Kick:This churns like gastroenteritis. 

Zzt 

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 

of this. 

Louis:That's a very scary sound. Like the 

devil farting. 

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 

State', etc? 

Frances: Yeah, it's Josh Wink experiencing 

entropy. 

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 

and people. 

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 

a cockroach. 

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 

and plateaus. 

Frances: Cue lots of hipsters trying to 

belly-dance. 

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 

in song. 

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 

the internet. 

Kick: Intro's a bit. . .underwhelming. 

Frances: You wait til it gets going, the lyrics 

are cool. 

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. 

Thelyrixareace! 



18 1 plan b 



the void 



fcano piy o*nc ? 



■• 






i' - 








Eternal negativity. And confusion. 
And apocalypticness 



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 

than that. 

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 

getting old. 

Skream 

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 

and drums. 

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. 

Frances: Speechless... 

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. 

Lowers 

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 

of them. 

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 

huge compliment. 

Louis:The breakdown is like even in the band 

except the bassist died, and he decided to 

mourn theirpassing... 

Kick: Nice melancholic Sixties kids 

TV interlude. 

Louis: And ends with weird Forties jazz. 

Vile Vile Creatures 

Wilderness (AARBR!) 

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 
aren't cheap). 

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 
them? 

Kick: Snort an mp3. Lick speakers. 
Frances: I shoot Lockets. Anyway. . . 
Kick: Hmm. My drug of choice is. . .IRONY. 

Black Lips 

Katrina (Vice) 

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 
so weird... 

Frances: It's about the hurricane! 
Kick: ...and what. Oh. 
Louis: What do the lyrics say? 
Stevie: RAAMRGH. 

St Vincent 

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 
Mister Heartbreak. 

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. 



single 



month 



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) 



planb|19 







I >< 







r»^ 



vT^KS 




^Sfoife^^ 



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- 
finest hour. 

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 
bedrooms nationwide. 



20 1 plan b 



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write on 

What's yr primary concern/goal when 
writing lyrics? 

"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) 
"Love, longing..." 
(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 

lhadn'tthoughtof." 

(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 
common misunderstandings? 

" 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 




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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 
you're 





"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 
pence either.) 



13 July, Supersonic Festival, 
Birmingham 

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. 

"OK." 

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. " 

Smart man. 

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. 

Kraftwerk Autobahn 

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 
andJames Brown. 

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 
the guillotine. 



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 
the guillotine 



Turzi Afghanistan 

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 
(Mute) 

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 
nowonTigersushi 

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) 
"Whitehouse." 
(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) 

"Samwell." 

(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) 

"Fergie." 

(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) 

"Spitting." 

(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 
involved somewhere." 
(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) 




eats tapes 

Words: Natalie Boxall 

Illustration: Pellet 



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 
straight' 



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 
groove." Incendiary! 



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. " 

www.myspace.com/eatstapes 



26 | plan b 



www.longstoned.com 

www.myspace.com/longstone 

www.elbandito.co.uk 



L N G S T N 



then ew album fro m 




L0NGST0N E 

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 



Hp» 



E L B C D 1 5 



Judrj 




Insect 



*&-*"*£ 




,jg Album 
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' 

The Independent 

'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 



www.droort|udd.M>ti1 



wwwJioi'ciquni com 




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 

lest-fm 

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 

www.myspace.com/thisistunng 
www.fulltimehobby.co.uk 





Check out the Full Time Hobby store 
www.resonancestore.com/fth 



THE DEBUT ALBUM 
OUT NOW 

WWW.MYSPACE.COM/STVINCENT 



. I- 

■ *;.- 




«£V1 



eyvind kang 

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 
just beginning." 

www.geocities.com/kanggallery 




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 



Have Justin 
Timberlake and 
Fleetwood Mac taught 
us nothing? 



sounds like the last line of a letter. Right before the 
'Yours, truly'. 

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 
us nothing? 

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 

JOHNNY PARRY 



Gravenhurst 

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: 

gravenhurstmusic.com 

myspace.com/gravenhurst 



"ocmj ufihe man bojiuiiful records evor mjtdr. 
Yhi rw i» th*l jrnml." f),n'ly 1'h«A 

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'fit' fiijf TnJxiVtY 

"minil-hlmi ing" l}j.\hi.>w 
'drama i lis i w outd bring Jin opera house toils feci, " 



AVAILIABLE FROM JOHNNYPARRY.COM 

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the void 



when we meet 

Words: Ringo P Stacey and kicking k 

Plan B demands you fill yr hard drive 
with music- this music 



ECPE 

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 

Farah 

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 



Curses 

"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. 
www.myspace.com/cursesareforever 







WW 



x 




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? 
www.myspace.com/nyoil 



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. 
www.myspace.com/farahfarahmusic 

Ilia J 

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. 
www.myspace.com/illajmusic 

Surreal 

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. 
www.myspace.com/surreallstreetheat 

Team Knoc 

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". 
www.myspace.com/officialteamknoc 

Trunk Boiz 

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. 
www.myspace.com/datrunkboiz 

Vampire Weekend 

"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. 
www.myspace.com/vampireweekend 

Y Diwygiad 

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 



Corey Orbison 

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 







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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? 
Or anywhere? 

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, 
geography-skiving music. 

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 
are about. 

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 
they rhyme' 



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 
leave unmined." 

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 
about it.) 

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. 

www.safetyword.com 



32 | plan b 







cp/^ip 



WWW .dQAfoor&c-orAc-o.coA 



ItTohjih^ 





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." 

Fumes 

"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 
about pirates!' 



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." 

No City 

"This is basically my 'Everyone-shut-up-and-at- 
least-be-civil-to-each-other-cuz-there-are-bigger- 
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. " 

Coffee 

"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." 

www.definitivejux.net 



34 1 plan b 



back issues & 
subscriptions 

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Send cheques to Plan B Publishing, PO Box 5047, Hove, BN52 9WY, 
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richard@planbmag.com 



BATTLES 




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SUBSCRIPTIONS 



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issues for £55. Rest of the World airmail - 1 2 issues for £75 
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The first 10 subscribers will also receive a copy 
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"Walker's tangled story isfascinatingly told. 
Director Stephen Kijack is fortunate, not to say 
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and softly reflects upon his career is a sight many 
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distributed by C-nrne records in the uk 



plan b 1 35 



the void 



personal geography: qui 

Words: Adam Anonymous 

Photography: Penny McDonnell 

Led Zeppelin, Edvard Grieg and The 
Wogglesgo hand-in-clawforQui's 
David Yow 



i 




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 
from now." 

...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 
musical vacuum' 



...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..." 

www.ipecac.com 



36 | plan b 



(mm) 



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the void 





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 
saying Tronics." 

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 
from Germany. 

"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 
and Monteverdi. 

"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 



the void 




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 
a victim' 



Smiths-like melodies and beautiful Traeey Thorn-esque vocal 
The Sunday Times 



warm country -llavourcd indie 



tripped-down folk" 



' 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?" 

www.myspace.com/sharkfucks 



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 
physical landscape. 

"I do put effort into titles, actually," he says. 



'I've been getting 
into castanets 
recently' 



"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 






IP 








plan b 1 43 



l-r: David Portner (Avey Tare), Josh Dibb (Deakin), 
Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), Brian Weitz (Geologist) 



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animal collective 



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. 

transparent absurdity 

"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 not? 

"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 
being created." 

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. " 

new eras 

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 
'glucose' enough." 

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. 

"Yeah? Why?" 

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. " 

unnatural orders 

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/ 
improv/indie/yadayada... 

"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 
of control. 

" 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. 
Wedon'thearthatatall." 

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 



animal collective 




'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 . . ." 



vanishing act 

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 
Animal Collective? 

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 
entirely understandable. 

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. 

kickingjc 



n 



!■■• 



Animal Collective 

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, 
familiar chutes. 
Lauren Strain 

plan b 1 47 



*, - 



HTfimz ^ 




r 
f 




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 
in/.one/yP/anef-toting backpackers." 

"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 
from experience." 

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 
their experience? 

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 
is intricate." 

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 
keep up. 

plan b 1 49 






m m 




ft* 



d-iH/fX/y 



'O .. ) 



Y\j&T~&S!y 



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 
unlikely stylings. 

"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 
mere convenience. 

"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 
playing live." 

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 
became them. 

"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. 



otivate myse 
._.. 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 
songs today". 

"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 
the land." 

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 
advertise Strepsils." 

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- 
wearing, people." 



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 
unexpected directions. 

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 
then enticing. 

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 
to Rebecca. 

"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 



I 




'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 

llllustration: Overture 



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 
resolution isnevertheaim. 

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 
with communication." 

What attracted you to the form of music 
you play? 

"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 
wannabe philosopher-artist-musician- 
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 
tomatojuice." 

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 




the opposite 



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 




of attraction 



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 (uk) 




'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 
new orthodoxy). 

"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, 



deadpan, deadbeat 
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." 

www.antifolk.co.uk 
www.antifolk.org 



56 | plan b 



antif oik (uk) 




Bobby McGees 

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 
themselves antifolk." 

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." 

www.myspace.com/thebobbymcgees 




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!" 

Why antifolk? 

" 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 
heart, spontaneous, 
sometimes humorous' 

" 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." 

www.davidcronenbergswife.com 




Jinx Lennon 

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." 

www.jinxlennon.com 

'I like to give my 
performances a Baptist 
preacher edge' 



plan b | 57 



antifolk (uk) 




mertle 

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." 

www.myspace.com/mertle 




Kate Nash 

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." 

Bobby McGees? 

"Yeah, that's them." 




Larry Pickleman 

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." 

www.pickleman.co.uk 




Milk Kan 

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. . . " 

www.milkkan.com 



58 1 plan b 



antif oik (uk) 




Spinmaster Plantpot 

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." 

www.myspace.com/ppot 

'Antifolk is honest 
music. It's "take me 
as you see me"' 







bl 


r ! 


1' 

ft * 





Stuart James 

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." 

www.myspace.com/stuartjamesx 




Winston Echo 

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 
complacent when 
you're getting applause 
regardless' 

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." 

www.myspace.com/iamwinstonecho 



plan b | 59 



illegal aliens 



Words: Matt Evans, Spencer Grady, Frances Morgan, Louis Pattison 

David Yow photography: Mei Lewis 



Superson 



Chrome Hoof 

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. 



ngever 
aded robo- 



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) 

Duracell 

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 
epidemic. (SG) 



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 



feel at 
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, 

Sometimes you 
got to get it where 
you can 



Mogwai 

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, 
pretty unbeatable. 

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 
Embassy. (FM) 






60 1 plan b 



live 









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ML 

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h 


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 
Celebrations 

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. 
Fiona Fletcher 



Holly Golightly And The 
Brokeoffs 

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 
badlands roadhouse. 

Right here, right now, who would want 
to hear anything else? 
Richard Fontenoy 



IndieTracks 

Butterley, Derbyshire 



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 



live 




light of love 

Words: Beth Capper 

Yoko Ono photography: Todd Owyoung 

Pitchfork Festival 

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 
for 'you' 

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 
theirshoes. 



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 
Tomorrow's Parties. 

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. 
Natalie Boxall 



Monarch 

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))) 
have travelled. 

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. 
Noel Gardner 



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 
Prince tonight. 

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 
us does. 

And men everywhere mumble stuff 
about what a great guitarist he is while 
trying not to blurt out: " Prince! I love you ! " 
John Doran 



plan b 1 63 



live 




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. 
Or so. 

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 
get-out-of-bed-sluggardscall-to-arms 
'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. 
Everett True 



Soulsavers/Josh T Pearson/ 
Tenebrous Liar 

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 




rust party 

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, 
however reluctantly? 



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 
African culture? 

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, 
brutal summer. 
Stevie Chick 



TheThermals 

Dingwalls, London 



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. 
Thorn Gibbs 



Underage Festival 

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. 
PhilCoales 



plan b 1 65 



live preview 



on tour: euros childs 

Interview: Louis Pattison 

What's been your most 
memorable festival 
experience? 

"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 
first time." 

What are the three most 
important things to bring to 
a festival? 

"A 4x4, a funny hat, and 
a picnic hamper from Fortnum 
and Masons." 

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 
pickup." 

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 
Lightning'." 

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) 




mice parade 

Post-rock/electronica explorations 
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) 

the locust 

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 
Erections album. 

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 
many, more. 

www.endoftheroadfestival.com 
LarmerTree Gardens, Wiltshire 
(September 14-16) 

get hustle 

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 
their hand? 

London Howl (September 17), 
London Barden's Boudoir (18), 
Cambridge The Portland (19), 
Leeds TBA (20), Nottingham 
Bunker Hill (21), Birmingham 
Sunflower (22) 

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 
thumbs up. 
London Jazz Cafe (September 20) 

feist 

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 
Centre (28) 

brighton live 

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 
Transgressivesignings Mechanical 
Bride, Peggy Sue And The Pirates, 
My Device, Shrag, Maths Class, 
Bobby McGees and many more. 
www.brightonlive.net 
various Brighton venues 
(September 24-29) 

pram 

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. 
Expect ectoplasm. 
Leeds Brudenell Social Club 
(October 5), London Corsica 
Studios (7), Leicester Basement 
Bar (1 1), Brighton West Hill Hall 
(12), Birmingham Town Hall (15) 

battles 

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 
following venues. 
Bristol Bierkeller (October 10), 
London Koko (11), Manchester 
Academy 2 (17) 

bad brains 

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 
on Megaforce. 
London Astoria (October 16) 

arcade fire 

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 
anniversary celebrations 

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 
second day. 
London Kono (November 11-12) 



66 | plan b 





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sweetheart fever 



Words: kicking_k 
Illustration: Emily Twomey 



Scout Niblett 

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 



albums 




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 
summer '07. 

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 
animated brass. 

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, 
majorettes, conquerors 



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 
'Flashlight Fight'. 

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 

recording process? 

"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. 
Lauren Strain 



Black Boned Angel 



Eternal Love/Eternal Hunger 
(Riot Season) 

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. 
Matt Evans 



70 1 plan b 



INNOVATIVE •• CREATIVE /INDEPENDENT 



THE 
STATE 
OF 
THINGS 




ALBUM OF THE MONTH 

REVEREND 

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'. 



ANIMAL COLLECTIVE 
Strawberry Jam 

Out 10.09.07 on Domino 
Animal Collective return 
& are at the peak of their powers 
here, something like electronic- 
horror-gospel-hip-hop-soul-pop 

might be a fitting way 
to describe its unique sound. 






■ % 



THE CHECKS 
Hunting Whales 

Out 01.10.07 on Full Time Hobby 

Debut album 

from the much-talked about 

New Zealand blues rockers, 

produced by Ian Broudie. 



DEVASTATIONS 
Yes, U 

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, 

sonic backdrop. 



KEVIN AYERS 
The Unfairground 

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. 




THE DRAGONS 
BFI 

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? 




BABEL 
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. 



CADENCE WEAPON 
Breaking Kayfabe 

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 
Curses 

Out 24.09.07 on Too Pure 

From the ashes of Mclusky & 

Jarcrew comes Future Of The Left. 

"Punk does-the-splitz 

death-charge disco" NME. 

"Ferocious, melodic gems" 

GUARDIAN GUIDE 



GRAVENHURST 
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. 



: 



m 



r*3 




JONAH MATRANGA 
And 

Out 10.09.07 on Xtra Mile 

Underground post-hardcore hero 

Jonah (Far/Gratitude/Onelinedrawing) 

releases his brilliant new album, 

feat, drumming legend Sam Siegler 

(Rival Schools) & engineered/mixed 

by Ian Love (Rival Schools). 






MUM 

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 

affirming energy. 



IUDtHiiur m ruua 




CHUCK RAGAN 
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. 




ST VINCENT 
Marry Me 

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. 






VARIOUS ARTISTS 

AtoZ 
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. 



ITAL 

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 

WWW.MYSPACE.COM/CHAINWITHN0NAME 




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 
inside you 



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 




mm amm 




If 




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. 



m n 



i 



oll-cou 




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 



the album. 

Includes the single, Suzannah. 




icaB) o 






"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 





j 

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 



iff, 



POLYPHONIC This classic Polyphonic Spree 

CQPCC 

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 
little masterpiece. 



Mik 




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. 





MlMNtt'VRt 



ttffif* » f wmm m 



albums 




Kano 

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. 
Melissa Bradshaw 



Kroungrine (Skam) 

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. 
Stuart Aitken 



Broken Social Scene Presents: 
Kevin Drew 



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. 
Andrzej Lukowski 



Cadence Weapon 



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. 
kicking k 



Panic (Ektro) 



Steel Mammoth 



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. 
Richard Fontenoy 



Cloudland Canyon 



Silver Tongued Sisyphus (Kranky) 



White Rainbow 



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. 
Frances Morgan 



Edwyn Collins 



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'. 
Louis Pattison 



Concentnck 



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? 
Ben Webster 



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. 
George Taylor 



Elk City 



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. 
The Corpo 



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 



albums 




cliffs of dorset 

Words: Everett True 
Illustration: Kai Wong 

PJ Harvey 

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 
her passion 

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 
tempered, muted. 

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 
guitar-playing. 



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 year. 
David McNamee 



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. 
Lauren Strain 



plan b 1 75 



albums 




spray paint (the trees) 

Words: Emily Bick 
Illustration: Ryan Peltier 

Dirty Projectors 

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, 
somewhere through 
the undergrowth 

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 
without breathing. 

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. 



Gravenhurst 



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 
English countryside. 
Louis Pattison 



76 | plan b 



albums 



The bottomless pit they outline is scarred by 
angry guitar, the shifting beat a fluid anchor 




dance party 

Words: Ned Raggett 
Illustration: Linda Coulter 

Modeselektor 

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 
are doing. 



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." 
(Nick Talbot) 



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 
sensuous record. 
HayleyAvron 



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. 
Daniel Spicer 



plan b 1 77 



albums 





Kate Nash 

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. 
Everett True 



Eyvind Kang 



Athlantis (Ipecac) 

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. 
Matt Evans 



Kid Acne 



Romance Ain't Dead 
(Invisible Spies/EMI) 

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. 
RingoPStacey 



King Creosote 



Bombshell (679/Names) 

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. 
Sean Michaels 

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." 
(Kenny Anderson) 



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 
byTarantino. 
Ned Raggett 



Lamps 



Lamps (In The Red) 



Miss Alex White And The Red 
Orchestra 



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 
denim serenades. 
Louis Pattison 



Laurent Gamier 



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. 
Ralph Cowling 



Lethal Bizzle 



BackToBizznizz(V2) 

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). 
John Doran 



Magik Markers 



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 
gets heavy. 
Daniel Spicer 



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 
eloquent experience. 

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. 
Matt Evans 



Nedelle 



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. 
George Taylor 



78 1 plan b 



NEW RELEASES OUT NOW FROM FORTE DISTRIBUTION 




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albums 




punk smash 

Words: Noel Gardner 

Illustration: Walker 



Harshing your buzz: 
new booty from the 
breakcore pirates 



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- 
bumped road 



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 



albums 




down and dirty 

Words: Frances Morgan 
Illustration: Chris Summerlin 

Heavy Trash 

Going Way Out With Heavy Trash (Yep Roc) 
Black Lips 

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 



Challengers (Matador) 

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 
so laboured? 



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. 
Thorn Gibbs 



Northern State 



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. 
Stevie Chick 



plan b 1 81 



albums 



A sad and fading sense of 
romance, the meditative 
calm of a rural evening 




grass roots 

Words: Stevie Chick 

Illustration: Naomi Ryder 

Thurston Moore 

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 
own image. 



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. 



Pan Sonic 



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 
alchemical means. 

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 
noise cut-ups. 
Richard Fontenoy 



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. 
NeilKulkarni 



RiloKiley 



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. 
Thorn Gibbs 



82 | plan b 



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albums 




desert island disc 

Words: Hannah Gregory 
Illustration: Dimitri Simakis 

Jenny Hoyston 

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 



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. 
HayleyAvron 



84 1 plan b 







MINUS THE BEAR 

Planet Of Ice 
UNDERGROOVE CD 

"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 

OXBOW 

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 

WEEN 

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 '" 

P0PJUSTICE.COM 

BURNT FRIEDMAN 

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. 



LOGH 

North 
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 

Near Misses 
-SCAPE CD 

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. 







SX!!! 




METAL MACHINE MUSIC 



THE HOUSE OF LOVE 

The House Of Love 
RENASCENT CD 

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 

HEAVY TRASH 

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) 

PONY UP 

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)" 

SHIR KHAN 

Maximize! 

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. 

PUBLIC ENEMY 

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. 



TINY VIPERS 

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. 




V 



Available from all good record shops. 
Check www.shellshock.co.uk/stockists for a list of the UK's best independent stores 



SHELLSHOCK 



INDEPENDENT MUSIC 
DISTRIBUTION 




tel: 020 8800 8110 email: info@shellshock.co.uk www.shellshock.co.uk 





albums 




Sword Heaven 

Entrance (Load) 

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. 



Noel Gardner 



St Vincent 



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. 
Sean Michaels 



Supermayer 



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 
writerAlex. 

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. 
Robin Wilks 



Swimmer One 



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. 
Nicola Meighan 



The Thing 



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. 
Euan Andrews 



Tinchy Stryder 



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. 
Melissa Bradshaw 



SoulfoodVol2 
(www.myspace.com/trimbale) 

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 
shankyou. 
RingoPStacey 



Two Gallants 



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. 
Nick Dixon 



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" . 
Thorn Gibbs 



The Art Of Chill 4, Mixed By The Orb 
(Platipus) 

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. 
Jonathan Falcone 



Patrick Watson 



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. 
Tom Howard 



Wooden Wand 



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. 
Euan Andrews 



86 | plan b 



brief notes 





The Dub Project 

The Dub Project 2 (M) 

Slurping out of the 
speakers like On-U 
Sound's dreadest 
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) 

Jose Gonzalez 

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) 

Grand Drive 

Everyone (Loose) 

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 

MOOGACIQ 



Jean Jacques 
Perrey and 
Luke Vibert 

MoogAcid(Lo) 

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 
result. (NG) 

Menomena 

Friend And Foe 
(City Slang) 

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) 

Mum 

Go Go Smear The 
Poison Ivy (FatCat) 

It starts so well, with 
amossed-overmusic 
' 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) 







JL_. 




Murcof 

Cosmos (Leaf) 

Fernando Corona 
has honed his gift for 
assembling recordings 
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) 

Pistol Disco 

Radiation 
(Celebrity Lifestyle) 

Snotty and abrasive 
youth-club electro-punk 
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 
nonetheless. (JP) 

? Johnny Parry 

Songs WithoutA 
Purpose (Lost Toys) 

GothicAmericana 
from... Bedford? 
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) 

Residual Echoes 

First EP (Elevation) 

Cope-approved 
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 
fireworks! (LP) 

C V^JP Saturday Looks 
Good To Me 

Cold Colors 
(Polyvinyl) 

Some winsome 
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) 

Savath And 
Savalas 

Golden Pollen (Anti) 

Guillermo Scott Herren 
temporarily forsakes 
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) 











Seventeen 
Evergreen 

Life Embarrasses Me 
On Planet Earth 
(Lucky Number) 

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 
PP,**^j Maximize! 

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 
(Jeepster) 

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) 

Slaraffenland 

A \ Private Cinema 

" (Home Tapes) 

Evenathighervolumes, 
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) 

Softlightes 

Say No! To Being 
Cool. Say Yes! To 
Being Happy 
(Modular) 

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 
Pheasant 

Gylling Street 
(FatCat) 

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) 






Thank You 

World City (Wildfire 
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) 




7 M 



*^> r 



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) 



Upsilion Acrux 

Galapagos 
Momentum 



n|n| 

In (Cuneiform) 
LalU Fifth album by stalwarts 
*" oftrigomonetrical 
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) 



Ken Vandermark/ 
Paal Nilssen-Love 

Seven (Smalltown 
Superjazz) 

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 
machine. (DS) 




imwt. Wooden Spoon 

|fe *Ss The Folk Blues Guitar 
^■^^ Of Wooden Spoon 

(Bo'Weavil) 

^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, 
Ben Webster 



plan b 1 87 



H&XttHxsi/s 




\ 



^ h. 



§ 




w f^WVJ, 



live by the sword 

Words: Pil and Galia Kollectiv 
Illustration: French 

The cutting edge: Dada, Satie, and metal's revolution 
through orthodoxy 

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 



imbalanced teenager 
than a pagan war lord. 

Because of its radical 
orthodoxy, metal 
progresses through self- 
parody: the over arching 
structure of the music 
remains unchallenged 
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 
Winston Tong. 

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. 



albums 




take flight 

Words: Sean Michaels 
Illustration: Isabel Bostwick 

Shearwater 

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 
intermittent roar; 
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. 



Afghan Whigs 



Unbreakable (Elektra/Rhino) 

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. 
Everett True 



Lloyd Cole And The Commotions 



Live At The BBC Volume One/Two 
(Mercury) 



Lloyd Cole 



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. 
John Doran 



plan b 1 89 



albums 




sweet leaf 

Words: Everett True 
Illustration: Graham Corcoran 

Various 

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 
exhaustive detail. 

Scintillating stuff. 



Karen Dalton 



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. 
Nick Dixon 



The Eat 



It's Not The Eat, It'sThe Humidity 
(Alternative Tentacles) 

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. 
Jonathan Falcone 



The Fall 



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 



albums 



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." 
John Doran 



Peter Hammill 



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 
meaningless distraction. 

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 
clearly admired. 

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. 
Steve Hanson 



Day Ov Torment (Cold Spring) 



Shinjuku Thief 



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. 
Euan Andrews 



Motorhead 



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. 
Joe Shooman 



Sex Pistols 



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 
Seasons 



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. 
The Corpo 



Various 



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... 
Everett True 



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. 
Daniel Spicer 



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. 
Everett True 



White Flame 



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. 
Richard Fontenoy 




under my stylus: voice of the seven woods 

Baby Grandmothers 

Baby Grandmothers 
(Subliminal Sounds) 

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. 
(RickTomlinson) 



plan b 1 91 




r-^i : 




# 




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 
audiovisual feast. 

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 
impossibly grand. 



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 
unconventional mix. 

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 
humans' 



way, it just happened. But it follows our usual 
way of operating, which is never to do the same 
thing twice." 

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. 
www.electroma.org 



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 



media 




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? 




i w 



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. 
Stewart Gardiner 




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, 
thought-provoking experience. 

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 
his fetishes 




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 

customised 'death 

proof jalopy, does the 
film shift into first gear. 
One problem is that 
Tarantino's swaggeringly 
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 
thinking female 
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. 



ripping yarns 

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 

Aya 

Marguerite Abouet/Clement Oubrerie (Jonathan Cape) 

Laika 

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 
one occasion." 

What is the most over-used adjective about 
your sound? 

"'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? 

"Cunnilingus." 

What concept or detail is always missed? 

"Love." 

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? 

"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. 
Close call." 

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 
biggest, geographically? 

" 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 
to you." 



98 1 plan b 





'It was like a magic factory. Imagine 
that. A factory that could make magic' 

15 th RAINDANCE 
FILM FESTIVAL 

25.D9.D7-D7.in.D7 



Apparently the best independent film 
from the UK and around the world 

Full listings at www.raindance.co.uk 



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