parasitic insects teach us humility

1987/8 …. the murky years between post-punk and the emerging Madchester.  The Manchester Music Scene was in some sort of flux. The nationwide scene was dull, with Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Stock, Aitken and Waterman dominating. On a wider stage the Sonic Youth influence was palpable, “Daydream Nation” was the album on everyone’s lips, the since self-disenfranchised “Moody Chops” had his first solo album out, “Surfer Rosa” was making the Pixies a thing. Michael Jackson dominated the charts. The Fall hit a pre “Brix-exit” creative high with “The Frenz Experiment” and “I Am Kurious Oranj”.  Similarly Wire returned with the incredible “A Bell Is A Cup”. “16 Lovers Lane” both celebrated and destroyed The Go-Betweens as Grant and Amanda’s romance ended. Dave Graney and Clare Moore were moving between The Moodists and Coral Snakes/White Buffaloes and London & Melbourne. In Manchester clubs went in another direction, availability of ecstasy started to change the musical landscape. Towards the end of the year “Bummed” presaged what was to come.

Out of this context Boz Vile and Art Carbuncle, plus a drum machine called Sissy, conceived and delivered Flea.

The Boardwalk was a venue and rehearsal rooms at the bottom of Little Peter Street, now long gone and replaced by the “Great Northern Square” – it was the venue of choice for aspiring rock acts and a central part of an ongoing music scene. Many of the bands that would dominate the emerging scene started there. Flea were part of that collection of artists. They were active between 1988 and 1993 playing at many of the key gigs in the city around that time period.

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Flea dissolved in 1993 when there particular brand “micro chip axe murdering” failed to connect to the psychedelic haze of Madchester in full flow.  Another example of genuinely talented musicians with cutting edge music being lost in a morass of the mundane. Their edgy, anarchic, sound was more in tune with what was happening in America and I have no doubt that if they had relocated to America’s West Coast they would have received a warmer welcome and achieved some longevity.

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“parasitic insects teach us humility” collects recordings from 1990/1 in Bedford and Manchester and the release on German Shepherd Records emerges from that labels’ relationship with Boz Hayward, and also an appearance at the Star and Garter in September 2017 supporting The Cravats when the duo (and Sissy) re-emerged after a 25 year gap. Rat’s other band Dead Objectives also played the gig. A follow up gig at this summers Manchester Meltdown lead to a continuing conversation about releasing the album. Several months later it gets general release on November 16th.

I don’t need to say any more – have a listen…..

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Immediate

I’m late to the party as usual on this one. They are a Manchester band but a friend from Northampton brought them to my attention. They are a six piece (yes I know the photo only has five but it’s the only one I could be bothered to grab) called D.U.D.S. (or possibly d.u.d.s. depending on what part of the internet you are looking at). There appears to be quite a bit of internet chat and 6Music action so I suppose I ought to file them away in the “not obscure enough” pile but I was quite taken with the Trout Mask guitar of the opening track so I persevered.

As I continued it became clear I was back in 1982 again.

In summary it’s Beefheart plus Gang of Four plus James Chance/White plus Talking Heads plus early DEVO, maybe a bit of early Tuxedomoon,  plus any number of noisy guitar oiks who were hanging around Oldham Street/Swan Street at the time of Hex Enduction Hour. If you are as old as me you will have heard it all before and be mildly bemused about the rotational nature of music (time wise that is…if you hang around long enough all types of genres come back round again). If you are under 40 and haven’t mined the back catalogue of Manchester post punk (i.e. 1980 to 1985) then you are in for a pleasant surprise as their angular atonal brashness is quite arresting.

Of course Ian Moss invented this type of music with the Dodos (not the american ones) and The Stepbrothers so it once again proves he was way ahead of his time.

Anyhow I’ll be playing track a week on Thursday but here it is if you want to check it out…….

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Motus Octo

Bouquet of Dead Crows return with their second full length and a fuller, more aggressive sound emerges, consolidating the tension between the hard rock of the music and Toni Cooper’s melodic vocals. The music takes on a much broader more orchestral sound, the riffs are heavier, the structures are more complex. The band have demonstrated a clear development of their sound in this release.

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The title (referring to the fact that there are eight tracks on the album), essentially means ‘eight movements’, or eight emotions.

Limited Edition Colour Vinyl Versions of the album plus T-Shirts and gig tickets are available at Music Glue . CD copies have completely sold out.

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Bouquet of Dead Crows are:

Antoinette Cooper : Vocals
Neil Bruce : Guitars
Graeme Clarke : Bass
Andrew Coxall : Drums, Percussion, Trumpet, Synths & Keys, & Backing vocals

The album was recorded and produced By Neil Haynes at the Parlour and artwork was by Stewart Harris

It releases November 23, 2018.

Tour dates to support this release….

NOVEMBER

15th – Esquires, Bedford
24th – Motus Octo launch at The Blue Moon, Cambridge
29th – Gringos, Norwich

DECEMBER

1st – Smokehouse, Ipswich
6th – Mama Liz’s Voodoo Lounge, Stamford

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

In November 2017, before Ulver embarked on their European tour supporting the  successful The Assassination of Julius Caesar release , out of the blue they launched the EP Sic Transit Gloria Mundi digitally on their own Bandcamp page – under the radar of most. It followed a bit later on Spotify, iTunes, etc. They have finally got round to releasing the album in physical form for the first time by way of a 12″ vinyl upcoming on House Of Mythology on December 7th, 2018.

The new version of the release contains the three studio songs from the digital release with the addition of four live recordings.

In respect of the three studio songs the band report:
“The sad remains from the Caesarean banquet. Two songs we kind of left on the drawing board but resumed work on this summer. Additionally, a cover of a childhood favourite – one we actually started some twelve–thirteen years ago, around the time we first started talking about making some ‘pop’ music. This EP was finalised in our new studio in the old town of Oslo in September, and sent over to Youth’s in London in October, for imperial sound quality. ” 

Ulver also uploaded two videos, using footage from their  concert at Labirinto della Masone, Italy, in the summer of 2017. Two songs, “Southern Gothic” and “Transverberation” from that concert have now been properly mixed, alongside “Nemoralia” from Odeon Theatre, Tasmania,  summer 2017, and finally “Rolling Stone” from Grieghallen, Bergen International Festival from 2018.

The bands particular form of epic prog is in full effect here. Huge cinematic statements with Kristoffer Rygg’s vocals soaring effortlessly over massive reverb drenched soundscapes. The live tracks are especially fine with the band firing on all cylinders to deliver memorable performances, the version of “Rolling Stone” is a stand out statement from a band in fine fettle. The Frankie Goes To Hollywood Cover is a bit of a head scratcher in the context of the bands own material but that slight concern is abated by the quality of the rest of the release.

The band were previously featured on Aural Delights 228

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Photo – Ingrid Aas

The band has decided that for the time being these four live tracks will only be available on this vinyl edition. 25 minutes of exclusive bonus material, as a bit of a reward or incentive to those who still buy physical music.

The vinyl is available in three different colours: punk yellow, purple and classic black. The cover shows Francis Bacon’s Study of Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953),  Design iis by the immaculate Paschalis Zervas, + wolframgrafik.

For purchasing in the EU/UK 
For purchasing in the US 

 

Synth Driven Funeral Doom

American Black Metal Band Wolves in the Throne Room are releasing a cinematic/epic debut album by synth-driven funeral doom band Vouna via their Artemisia Records label on November 9th.

The record evokes a devastating and beautiful journey of becoming the last person on earth. Razor sharp tremolo picked guitars cut through the heart like a knife. Mournfully sung vocals and cinematic melodies are combined with crushing doom drums, while layers of primitive 90s digital synths conjure a lush and rugged soundscape.

All of the music on the album was composed and all instruments performed by Vouna frontperson Yianna Bekris (previously of Vradiazei, Eigenlicht, and Sadhaka). The music was inspired and influenced by Finnish funeral doom, English masters My Dying Bride, Eastern European black metal, and Greek folk music.

Vouna was recorded at the Wolves In The Throne Room studio, Owl Lodge, which is located at the edge of an ancient forest in Olympia, Washington State. Nathan Weaver collaborated with Yianna to create the artwork, which mixes archaic Hellenic mythic images with Cascadian atmospheres.

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At 31 minutes the five track album does not overstay its welcome. The sounds are indeed grand in scale varying between simple strummed acoustic guitars and full on orchestral workouts. Yianna’s plaintive and mournful voice dominates and her multi-instrument dexterity is impressive . The sound varies between arcadian folk and cinematic doom metal via post-rock. Music of this kind can tend to be overlong and overblown but in this instance brevity and impressive structure result in a highly entertaining listening experience. At times I was taken back to the epic grandeur of the first King Crimson album.

I will feature the epic “Drowning City” on Aural Delights 310 on 8th November.

Preorders for CDs, LPs and other Vouna Merchandise are available at the Artemisia USA Store  

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Armies of Indifference

It’s been quiet on here of late, blame the weather if you will, or cricket, or beer, or nothing sufficient to moan about, or torpor, or indeed being far too busy on radio show construction and the record label. No excuses, but it does take something annoying, or indeed, irritating, to shake me from my reverie.

Kill Pretty had a song on the as yet unreleased third album which was called “Lotus Eaters”,  a delightful tune which opined on the way folks get sucked into a pseudo-nirvana, well that was my interpretation of it. I can conflate that with a line from “Lie Dream of a Casino Soul” by The Fall in which Mr Smith complains “It’s getting just like that here now, it just goes to show”.

On paper Manchester, like Melbourne,  should be alive with new exciting music, despite the slow demise of venues, the Ruby Lounge is next on the list, and new ones seem to be confined to Ancoats or “the university part of the town” (stop quoting Mark E Smith Bob, it’s getting boring, Editor), but somehow bloated rock gods or tribute bands appear to be sucking all the oxygen out of the “Scene”. Thank , insert deity of your own choice, for The Peer Hat where Nick and Dom are continuing to offer options, although that toilet door on the downstairs gents wants fixing, and that DJ they have on Thursday nights seems to be obsessed with The Clash.

Imagine my inner distress when the “next big Manc thing” sounds like a combination of Joy Division and The Cramps. I won’t mention their name as that’s not the sort of thing I do, but when bands of just post teens sound like “look back bores” (enough with The Fall references already…..Editor) my heart sinks. I wonder if they are all music students who have just completed the module “Post Punk 1980-1983” on their current course.  For god’s sake even the singer is adopting I Curtis mannerisms.  Maybe we have entered a “Post-Tribute” band era where bands mash-up their various tribute tropes to attempt to create a “new sound” but all it ends up sounding like is a mutated version of one or more of the original. Three chords but no big boots this time ….. the sad thing to consider is when the New Romantic re-boot might arrive.

You have to wade through a load of crap to get to the good stuff. Fortunately there is a scene, just under the radar, which, whilst not breaking the 6Music glass ceiling, manages to relieve my irritation. It needs more publicity though.

In this context the people on one the front tables at Shangri-La last Friday Night walk out muttering “a load of shite” three songs into Adventure of Salvadors’ set – when Loop is attacking his theremin with some vigour.  For some reason they were not impressed by a band that continues to offer something fresh and interesting. Their loss and everyone who remains gain. Powering through favourites like “Anne Boleyn” and “Look What You Made Me Do”  the band are on fine form, somewhat disabled by a sound engineer who appears clueless, but managing to get some of the crowd out of their chairs to throw some shapes, even Mr Doyle manages to get into some frug like moves. A new album is due and I await that with some anticipation. They close with “Welcome To My Village” which works well with its’ AoS hat on but if I am honest I do prefer The Junta version.  In timely fashion they will be appearing at the second series of Manchester Meltdown which returns in January, something Mancunian dwelling music lovers should not miss as the impressive line-up below demonstrates. These are the names you should be looking out for, a collection of the well established backbone of the scene, and some fresh new talent. Hopefully by that time Four Candles will have recorded their new album.

I won’t leave so long until the next one of these….

Under the Waves off Kanagwa

After too long a wait Sam Smith, formerly of Sam Smith & Co, and The Parish Church Fire is back with a stunning new single which is a marker for his first full length album in early 2019. Building on his success to date in capturing the raw heart of rock and roll Sam has delivered a breathtaking new tune, an epic song wracked with emotion which will leave the listener gripped until the very last note.

The song forms part of a suite of new tunes which will emerge as an album in 2019.