Aural Delights Radio Show – 14th December 2011 – Albums of the Year Part #2

Part the second of a rapid scurry through the best releases of the year as nominated by some Salford City Radio DJs and a select band of followers of The Fall

Deerhoof – Secret Mobilization – vs Evil (January) – the slow drip release technique was either a clever marketing ploy or the sign of a band that knows it’s audience. In any event their best yet in that it retains the quirky nature of the bands work to date whilst adopting a more accessible approach. The selected track merges a funk approach with astringent rock in a sort of 1970s aesthetic.

Gnod – Visions of Load – Chaudelande Volume One (November) – the second album this year from our local space rock monsters. They started their last European tour by spending a couple of days in the Studio Chaudelande, a small house in the Normandy countryside. The sessions will be as a two volumes LP series on Tamed Records, of which this is the first. I sense a slight change in direction here but the core Gnod manifesto still persists. Unfortunately due to the need to fit a lot into the show only half of this track could be played.

Dum Dum Girls – Bedroom Eyes – Only In Dreams (September) Does the Raveonettes production wreck the original lo-fi wonderment of the Dum Dum Girls?  Well you can hear Dee Dee’s voice a lot more clearly and the production is clearly more “professional” as it were. Adding a proper band for this album tends to shift the emphasis away from her as musician and develop her more as vocalist/lyricist. The original charm of the band may have been lost but this is a fine album, and the selected tracks is a fine piece of American pop.

Girls – Alex – Father, Son, Holy Ghost (September) – some grumpiness about this in the reviews – too polished and not as adventurous was one comment. Disagree completely – this is original brain flipping stuff – almost subversive in it’s adoption of pop mores into the area of psych and prog. Owens and White write well and put some effort and thought into the music.

Feist – Caught A Long Wind – Metals (October) I’m not completely sold on this nu-folk stuff (especially the UK end of things) but Leslie Feist is able to take the core elements of this genre and develop it into something a little more compelling. There is a gentle feel to this album which provides a nice counterpoint to a lot of the stuff I listen to. There are times where is gets a tad chocolate box cover in parts but generally more agreeable.

Thurston Moore – Illuminine – Demolished Thoughts (May) In which Thurston works with Beck to go in a Nick Drake direction – well to my ears anyway in the string arrangements if nothing else. Some said it was similar to Murray Street, which as far as I am concerned is damn fine, as that’s one of Sonic Youth’s best albums. With the dissolution of his marrage to Kim, and the future of the Youth uncertain one wonders where he will go next.

Tom Waits – Get Lost – Bad As Me (October) a common theme of the albums in this exercise is artists coming back to form after a long lay off – this time seven years. Tom is back to his gnarly, bluesy, jazzy best on this album.  An enjoyable set of songs proving he still has it in him to deliver cutting edge music.

The Jar Family – Debt – The Jar Family (November) a collective of five singer-songwriters from Hartlepool – this is their debut and rather impressive it is too. There is a variety of excellent writing and styles on this album. I would guess world domination is not far away for these as they certainly have the  tunes.

Efrim Manuel Menuck – I am no longer a motherless child – Plays High Gospel (May) debut album from the chap behind Godspeed!You Black Emperor and A Silver Mount Zion. Some serious guitar distress on this album with walls of heavily processed sound allied to Efrim’s trademark keening vocalisations (my good lady leaves the home when I play ASMZ tracks she thinks he is in pain). Some nods back to early Eno material with Frippisms appearing in places.

Mike Patton – Calculus of Finite Differences – The Solitude of Prime Numbers (November) Patton’s third film soundtrack to date and his most accessible. Simply put its sounds nothing like he has done before, in his many incarnations in the business.  If you like his more extreme work be in for a shock, this is formally constructed, ambient in parts, and definitely highly listenable.

Perplexa – Tribal – Gone Beyond (January) – Detroit’s space-rockers moving into entirely new territory with a bold world music sound.  There are links to Spaceman 3 here with Caruthers on bass and some stunning cello work from Phil Myers. Marvellous!

Peaking Lights – Hey Sparrow – 936 (February) fascinating stuff – drifting, dub, space-rock psyche from Wisconsin. Drum machine, basic keyboards,  guitar, and   bass grooves make for gorgeous low-fi pop. Vashtu Bunyan guests on this selection.

This City of Takers – This City is a Pipe Bomb – The Felt (November)  Indie-Rock band from St. Louis playing Post-Punk music not dissimilar to Sonic Youth, Cursive, and Spoon.  Self released album on Bandcamp which is free also…..mightily impressive sound.

Psychic Ills – Midnight Moon – Hazed Dream (October) and to close a beautiful piece of dreamy psychedelia…….

To listen to the show click on the link

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Aural Delights Radio Show – May 25th 2011

Mostly new stuff on this show with a welcome return to the utterly marvellous Trevor Sensitive and the Locals after a brief hiatus.

1 Trevor Sensitive and the Locals –  Saving Albion From Itself – Exclusive Singles Club Release Preview : those of you lucky enough to purchase the Sensitive album get to be part of the singles club – this is the first of what I hope will be a series of exclusives for the station. Mind you after getting airplay on the Tom Robinson show the band may well be headed for super-stardom!

2 Efrim Manuel Menuck  – I am no longer motherless child – Play High Gospel : The GBYE and ASMZ front man does his first solo album and it’s smashing! Lots of loops and Efrim’s trademark angst ridden vocals which always cause a split opinion in our house.

3 Bass Drum of Death – Nerve Jamming – GB City : brilliant album, track it down! Nuff said.

4 Verma – Salted Earth – Salted Earth : came  across this lot whilst researching The Cosmic Dead – rather impressive pysche rock.

5 The Home Town Secret – LSD Morons  -Demo : regular readers will know I record the shows well in advance of them being aired – sometimes it has unforseen consequences in that this band have now split up. Pity really they had a lot of promise.

6 Glassheads – Man in the Street – Single : just another gentle reminder to treat yourself to the latest single from Wigan’s finest.

7 Audio Asylum – Hitting Bottom – Demo : got contacted by the Rebel Soul collective from the other end of the M62 about this band and was rather impressed by their tunes. Expect to hear more in future shows!

8 The Smitten Ones – Crooked Cards – Single : from the very excellent Twister Records. I was immediately hooked by the excellent baritone vocals and the twangy guitar stylings – memorable stuff I reckon and the limited edition single can still be purchased from in person at Action Records (Preston), Townsend Records (Chorley, Leyland, Clitheroe), Piccadilly Records (Manchester), Norman Records.com (Leeds) and HMV (Southport). The single is also available fromHMV.com and can be download from I-tunes, Amazon, Play.com, 7-Digital and streamed on Spotify

9 The Dead Texan – Glen’s Goo – The Dead Texan :  an audio-visual musical duo comprising of Adam Wiltzie and Greek video artist Christina Vantzou. Wiltzie is better known as one half of the ambient project Stars of the Lid. Thought I would dig this one out of the archives.

10 Lillies on Mars – Aquariums Key – Lillies on Mars : can’t remember how I tracked this lot down but I am glad I did. Also featured on T.Robinson – there must be some synergy going on here :). They have a new album out this week.

11 Entangled – This Way and That-  Demo : some excellent modern prog with a nod back to Bush, Gabriel and The Floyd. More to come from this band who sing and play well and have great arrangements. Prog is the new punk dont’cha know!

12 The Smitten Ones – Siren – Single

To listen to the show please click the link below

saved again by hearing it and believing it!

Artist : Efrim Manuel Menuck

Album : Plays “High Gospel”

Release : Constellation May 24th – you can sample it here

Frankly I could be lazy and copy the press release over which comes with this, as the writing about the music is pretty aposite, and it would save me a load of time I haven’t got – but what would be the point in that. Anyway I need something to take my mind off the dodgy fish pie I had last night which appears to be attacking my central nervous system. Rather in the way that Efrim is doing on this album – albeit in a very nice way, as opposed to the piscine abomination I unfortunately ate. This is an album that forces you to listen and think.

You will know him from Godspeed! You Black Emperor, A/Thee Silver Mt Zion (etc etc) and his work with late Vic Chesnutt. You will be aware of his penchant for guitar manipulation with loops etc in the spirit of Sir Robert of Fripp, and also his tendency to create works of orchestral magnitude – generally with incomprehensible and very long titles. If you like all of that then you will not be disappointed – as indeed I was not.

Essentially this music has an organic brutalism which defies categorisation. Layers upon layers of processed guitars, violins and keyboards dominate along with similar layers of vocals – mangled and fettled to create great washes of sound. The opening “Our Lady of Parc extension and her munificent sorrows” pretty much sets the tone for the rest of album with the  sort of orchestral grandeur we all know and love from Godspeed at the height of their power.

This is a form of ambient music – however not the easy listening of the typical practices of that particular musical area – more a ear grabbing free experimentalism which makes for a more considered and frankly interesting listening experience. This is clearly evidenced by track two “A 12pt program for keep on keepin’ on” which starts as a gently developing wash of sound from the guitars and voice, and then morphs in a para-techno rhythm fest backed by eerie synthesis – a sort of alien souk experience.

“August Four – Year of our Lord Blues” – is a relatively short piece at 3:25 which demonstrates his prowess in changing the guitar into something more than it should be.

Those listeners to the music of  Silver Mt Zion will be alive to Efrim’s tendency to build tunes slowly over time and bring in baleful polemicised wailing to get his point across(a phrase I am using a lot lately in reviews – I think it reflects the current political climate – both local and geo-political – I digress). On this album there is some of that but there is also – relatively so in Menuck’s case compared to others – a more basic balladeering as evidenced by the simple piano and vox “Heavy Calls & Hospital Blues” – a very powerful and emotional piece.

The  typically obtusely titled “Heavan’s Engine Is A Dusty Ol’ Bellows” is a fascinating mix of surging growls and twangy guitar on auto-wah and continues the structural feature of the album of short instrumental pieces in between longer songs. The centre point of the album is Menucks tribute for his old partner in music in “Kaddish for Chestnutt”. At this point in the listening it struck me that the nearest  comparator I could draw to what I was hearing was the earlier works of Fripp and Eno (both seperately and together as it were) however with that typically North American feel that is generally absent from a lot of English music from the art-rock end of things. It starts with with low key ambient serialism and then develops into a shimmering piece of beauty – both repetitive and choral – which builds mantra like into a heartfelt climax.

It’s on “Chickadees Roar Pt 2” that matters definitely get into the area of Frippertronics with loops of searing guitar swirling over abstract tones leading to field recordings of birds and wind and/or ocean waves – all very pastoral and somewhat out of kilter with the electronic nature of the rest of the album. The closing “I am no longer a motherless child” is a beast of a thing with its over-amped bluesy guitar licks (replete with distorting bass notes) developing into a looped tone which could have been on Fripp’s Exposure album and then a signature Menuck vocal phrase followed by an understated guitar solo. A fine way to end what is a rather fine album indeed.

Rather impressive and an album that will make you think rather than shake your tail feather – which can’t be a bad thing now can it?

Preacher Man

Efrim Menuck is best known as co-founder of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, leader of  Thee Silver Mt. Zion, and member of the Vic Chesnutt Band ; he has released thirteen albums  with these three groups.  I’ve long been a fan of what he has produced over the years with the first two of those bands.

His first solo album is called  Plays “High Gospel”  , it will be available via Constellation this May, i’ve asked for a promo for reviewing purposes.  In the meantime, you can sample two tracks, which are rather magnificent:

  “our lady of parc extension and her munificent sorrows”: http://snd.sc/ggIcik
  “chickadees’ roar pt. 2”: http://snd.sc/hrt9yT