aural delights – 2nd March 2011 – 11pm (Farley’s Fumbles Special)

Regular listeners to this show and its predecessor “Reformation” will know  there is a semi-regular feature called “Farleys Fumbles” which is essentially a series of musical selections  by my chum Fothergill Farley aka Mark Harris.

I have not been able to play any “Fumbles ” for a while so I set aside some time in diary to record a show with a good selection of them. Mark emigrated to New Zealand last year and has been living and working in Christchurch . I was putting this show together before the earthquake hit that city, and recorded it before the event so there is no reference to it in the show. We spent a few anxious hours waiting to see if Mark was OK and thankfully he was. Others were not as fortunate so this show comes at a difficult time for all in Christchurch and New Zealand as a whole.

I dedicate the show to the good people of NZ , especially the fire and rescue service, and all those working hard to assist in recovery from this disaster.  The show is also dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives.

  1. The Fall – Hey Student – Middle Class Revolt – originally called “Hey Fascist” in the early days of The Fall this powerful piece of garage rock finds Mark E. Smith at his most acerbic with bile directed in any number of directions. Pearl Jam fans look away now!
  2. Cornelius – New Music Machine – Fantasma – Japanese pop-noise artist Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada) is a self-taught guitarist inspired early   by Kiss and Black Sabbath, his musical alias was  chosen from  a character in the Planet of the Apes film series. His merging of pop and avant garde on this 1998 album is refreshing. Farley Fumble #01.
  3. Amplifier – The Wave – The Octopus – I’ve had this double album for a few weeks now and have been wanting to play something from it. Guitarist/vocalist Sel Balamir formed the band with drummer Matt Brobin and bassist Neil Mahony in the early 2000s in the heart  of  the post-punk madness of Manchester. They owe no allegiance to the Madchester sound offering a more progressive rock agenda. This self released third album is an epic piece of writing and performance. Show favourite Charlie Barnes guests on keyboards.
  4. Fairport Convention – Now Be Thankful –  The History of Fairport Convention – Arguably the best British folk-rock band of the late ’60s, they did more than their contemporaries to develop an authentic variation on the folk-rock prototype by drawing upon traditional material and styles. This 1972 album is a good primer for the earlier work of the band. Farley Fumbles #02′
  5. New Order – Procession –  Substance – as I remark on the show their is an uncanny resemblance between the opening and closing sections of this song and “Watcher of the Skies” from “Foxtrot” by Genesis. Substance collects the best of New Orders  remixes, and in doing so showcases the  innovative nature of their work, but also the best of their songwriting. Farleys Fumble #03.
  6. Glassheads – Young Lady – Demo Track – another demo from this new band from Wigan.
  7. Spirit – I gotta line on you – The Family That Plays Together – a bit of an indulgence from me with a classic. The second Spirit album, from 1968 saw the group put all of the elements together that made them legends.  The album’s hit single, “I Got a Line on You,” has strong vocal harmonies as well as one of the greatest rock riffs of the period.
  8. Lilys – The Hermit Crab – Ecsamme The Photon Band – ostensibly the vehicle of singer/songwriter Kurt Heasley, the group’s founder and sole constant member. Their third album from 1995 dabbles in dream pop, a genre they soon abandoned. Farleys Fumble #04.
  9. PJ Harvey – To talk to you – White Chalk – her new album has got mixed reviews with obvious comparisons made to the excellent album which features on this show. Some would argue she needs to strap on an electric guitar and get back to the harder side of her work. Farleys Fumble #05.
  10. Greg Allman – I can’t be satisfied –  Low Country Blues – his first album in four years Gregg has teamed up with T-Bone Burnett to re-imagine obscure blues tunes. A very satisfying record and probably his best solo effort to date.
  11. Bruce Springsteen – Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street – The Prodigal – this classic song from the first Springsteen album is re-released in a revised form on the recent Prodigal album. This is Bruce at his most playful with strong lyrics and a great song which shows strong influences.
  12. Portishead – Chase the Tear – Chase The Tear – Portishead joined forces with Amnesty International to release  this tracks  on the eve of International Human Rights Day. Farleys Fumble #06.
  13. Danny Short – Rossiter – Love Has Gone. To signal the release of our second free download – Danny’s Reputation EP – click here to get your FREE copy  -I feature a track from his excellent new album “Love Has Gone” which will be released in April.
  14. Amplifier – The Chase – Fractal – those of us who bought “The Octopus” album mentioned above also got a free digital EP a couple of weeks ago which features improvisations from the sessions that produced the album.
Listen to the show by clicking on the link below……..

Aural Delights 2nd March 2011 by Bobonscr on Mixcloud

eight legs good

I realise I do have a tendency to engage in hyperbole.

It’s an annoying habit, but you see I get excited about music.

And right now i’m pretty excited.

The new Amplifier album is out you see, although it’s not really an Amplifier album, it’s “Octopus” y’see. You have to follow the internal logic and the bands marketing here – to at least have a half a clue about what I am talking about. Suffice to say the three band members are those of Amplifier – i.e. Balamir, Mahony, and Brobin but for reasons which are explained coherently on the band’s website this release is specifically “The Octopus”. As the band say on the flier that comes with the album “Not even the third album by us. Just The Octopus in its own right”.

Concept Album?

Yes……16 songs weighing in at 2 hours in length and covering two CDs. I’ve got the limited edition (one of 500) nicely signed by the band and wrapped up in a book/journal thingy which essentially an exercise in advance cryptography, as the text progressively reverts from alpha-numeric to symbols and requires a lot of attention to work your way through.

Released on a major?

Nope! All done either through Bandcamp or straight from the bands website where you can purchase a number of variations of releases – not easy to work out for the easily obfuscated ageing DJ here but great fun for all that.  Three years to make and totally self-financed by the band so worthy of some detailed consideration methinks.

The opener “The Runner” sucks you in from the start – a mood piece capturing the attention with overlapping sounds and a great deal of growing tension.  From thereon in the compulsion is to listen to the end just to find out what is going to happen next.

So what are we listening to here? Essentially intelligent. complex, progressive music of the rock ilk. This is pretty epic on a grand scale – and it’s  not something to play to your aged Aunt Jemima on a Sunday afternoon over cucumber sandwiches and tea. What is impressive is the amount of damn noise three guys can make. Layers of riffs dominate for the most part and then complex songs kick in with picked fragile guitars which morph into flanged/fuzz monsters which chitter around an exciting rhythm section. Occasionally wunderkind Charlie Barnes plays keyboards and adds some more texture to the pieces. Balamir handles the vocal chores admirably and gets help every now and again from Mike Lennart, Claire Lemmon, Denise Johnson, and the amazing Rose Kemp (more about her in another review in the next day or so).

There are also some more atmospheric/musique concrete sections on the album which provide an effective counter-balance to the more “orchestral” parts.

You’ll want some sort of reference point here if you haven’t heard them before – and I’m trying not to do this as I shouldn’t really compare these guys with anyone as they stand very well in their own right as unique and cutting edge – but for those of you without the time to do the research thing let’s say “Porcupine Tree”, “Oceansize”, and  “Opeth” as openers. Not typical of a band formed in Manchester at the time of the slow decline of post-punk but in another way sufficiently different from the trio of bands I’ve just mentioned to suggest something a little away from the usual raft of metal types. There’s a lot of melody here specifically amongst the mammoth riffing and “sturm und drang” bits. Another slight echo in my head – from a while back – is “Houses of the Holy” era Zeppelin – especially on “The Sick Rose” and “Fall of Empire” with their eastern scales. The aforementioned more relaxed sound experiments also remind me of early Floyd (Umma-Gumma) as well – especially the use of textures and laminal sounds.

This is an album you will need to set aside some time to listen to – there is a lot to absorb and all of it is valid. What is fascinating is the bravery in some of the pieces – the band are not afraid to use long silent sections to build tension for example. There is also sufficient variety – the moody and emotive “Bloodtest” is a good example, and the plaintive “Oscar Night” also – in the music to make an extended listen worthwhile.

I’ve been sent a lot of “rock” albums lately, music I would not normally listen to at any great length  as it’s not got enough “jazz” in it, but I am observing in some bands  a desire to break away from the confines of what can be a very narrow genre to listen to (aren’t they all to some extent…..) – this album manages to take the best of the accepted idiom and then add a number of different aspects which give it a more appealing feel. And there is also enough of a punk  ethic in here in terms of discordance – “The Wave” for example has a pummelling garage feel to it – to attract those would not normally venture in this direction aurally.

I guess I will want to listen to this a few more times and I may well come back to this review at some point in the future with a few more observations on content and delivery – until then i’d say that if you want a change from the usual post-punk/post-rock stuff then take a listen to this

Band site merchandise page is here

You can listen to and buy the album digitally here