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Saturday, 12 December 2020

Beauty is in the ear of the... Behold a Pale Horse: Today's News... Stay Happy LP

Released back in February this year, on gorgeous limited edition, hand-numbered Neon Magenta vinyl, BAPH’s debut LP Today’s News… Stay Happy and it’s northern menace are immediate, gripping and demand to be heard from the outset... the first of many reasons my turntable is now enslaved to it.

More than a call to arms, opener Fuxit serves as a call for collective consciousness and accountability, calling out all the corrupt for their long-overdue reckoning; amid a steady Kasabian/New Order surround, loudspeakers scream and chaotic PILesque pleas ignite our desire for riotous uprise. 

Ironically stealing the velocity from proceedings, Thieves is more emotive andaccessible, perhaps as the leaden, tragedy-laden lead vocal exposes our poor protagonist’s suffering soul; guitars weigh down heavy on a haunted and hurt, somehow familiar psyche. 

Soma’s insidious sample-rich intro slowly reinstates momentum and challenges the prevalence of blind prejudice in a rigged system; anthemic, groovy and sharp morph into loose sonic oblivion, rich with falsetto Richard Ashcroft vocals, Orbital synth, Joy Division guitar, and heaps of true northern grit.

With it’s sinister undertow escalating amidst a haunting, hypnotic dirge that’s akin to Phosphorescent covering Shadowplay, the fluid construct of Renegades is alluring and life-affirming; as it’s casual, confident clutches slowly release, a lighter, more relaxed outro allows us once again, to breathe a little easier.

Initially echoing Nirvana’s Love Buzz as played by REM, Shout til you’re blue stands loud and proud; from the second the soaring vocal steals the spotlight, it dictates proceedings, effortlessly slowing for some falsetto one moment, before pulling everything along with it’s guttural gravity the next. 

Let it burn is a more accessible Secret Machines/Gabrielle’s Wish amalgamation that’s awash with attitude and angst, perhaps best summarised by the charged political Billy Bragg/KLF narrative which closes the track; urgency and outrage combine to great effect. 

Predominantly acoustic Into the orchard introduces simple orchestration with understated impact, and as each carefully considered syllable is sung, we’re enticed and enchanted right through to the heavy close; you could be forgiven for thinking this was a track by Sean Cook’s The Flies… so yeah, sublime! 

UNKLE/Kyte-like Listen is largely underpinned with delicate piano and trip-hop beats, but with each hankering, attention-hungry vocal interlude, this all fades and falls away; succumbing to cacophonous crescendo, the track closes amid a visceral stream of brass, beats and sincere beckoning… time for side A again! As essential as Secret Machines' Now here is Nowhere and shot through with the brilliance of Black Submarine, this LP is nothing short of a debut that surely wont be maytched for some time to come; anyone struggling to fill their 'Best LPs of 2020' list could certainly use a copy of this in their collection. So, all that said and done, let's give it up once again for...

Behold a Pale Horse- JOHN NELLIST: Vocals, Guitar, FX, Harmonica. XEV DOUGLAS: Guitar, Vocals, Keyboard, FX. ED BLAZEY: Bass, Vocals, Trumpet, Loops & FX. MATTY STOKER: Drums, Percussion & Vocals. ROB BLAZEY: Synths, Samples & FX.   

Learn more at BAPH.UK or Facebook BAPHmusic.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

JAPONICA: INTO THE KALEIDOSCOPE


Having waited for Japonica’s debut LP ‘Into the Kaleidoscope’ since August 2018, when I first interviewed the man behind the mystique Jamie Farnell-Warren (JFW), my long-suffering sonic appetite has been whet and wonder-filled for far too long! However, my wanting and waiting is now over and instantly I’m overwhelmed.

The first question that comes to my mind is this: is JFW simply obsessive engineer Paul A. Rothchild reincarnate? There’s enough gratification for a thousand waterboarded senses to be satisfied, throughout an enticing album that’s awash with both fears and familiarities, so listen up fans of obsessively crafted masterpieces. 
 
JFW wears his heart on his sleeve and influences such as David Bowie, Radiohead and The Beatles are open but infrequently at the forefront; obvious comparisons will also be made with Elbow and Sigur Ros, but fans of Amiina, The Cinematic Orchestra, Leaves and Olafur Arnalds will surely succumb to this emotive heavyweight.

So, enough yakking, ‘Into the Kaleidoscope’ we go...

MUDLARK AT DAWN echoes quieter Trent Reznor-borne moments of enticement, drawing us unawares into a drum and facehole-driven intro that would have Thom Yorke wetting himself with (obviously suppressed) delight; like coming up, it’s gentle, urgent undertow holds you down and slowly pulls you under it’s spell. 
 
THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS & INTO THE LAKE rests it’s sumptuous, ethereal laurels some, before upping the ante and sinking it’s hooks firmly into the psyche; it’s here where the production levels really start to register, as composure, patience and poise steal the spotlight with sheer disregard for it’s beguiling guts and backbone.

BARN BURNER instils a sense of loss from the outset, encompassing our every insecurity, as it’s gravity cradles us and keeps us close without so much a second thought for what follows… free-falling further into a melancholic chasm, as inescapable thoughts of Guy Garvey glisten and illuminate dark and distant outskirts.
HYGGE might best illustrate the understated power, presence and sentiment that underpin this glacial-rock goliath. After absorbing this patiently delivered composition, suspicion that doom and darkness will prevail are barely contained; the yearning is real and hopeful hearts are left bedevilled and heavy.

ABANDONED ABBEY does noting to alleviate the continual gut-punch we’re being subjected to; anticipation trumps our inner reluctance to relax and we’re caught somewhere between anguish and appreciation as the escalating ominous tones encompass all... unnerving as it is endearing, it conflicts as it entices.

JUST TO PROTECT HER touches down on the same unsettling path that pulled us deep within this soundscape; amidst the heavily populated bars and sullen verses, choruses hover just above irresistible tar pits we’re too afraid to fully discover, as definite percussion and driven vocals see us lose our grounding.
DALISAY injects some overdue optimism, with its lyrical content lifting the weight from the lungs and allowing time for a breather; with lower intensity levels, this is a welcome lull amidst the condensed, compact emotion and often oppressive and overbearing compositions… each obviously a burden of the most blessed kind.

IT FADES sparks intrigue with a short-lived narrative from the good twin of Resident Evil’s Alice! Aimless and harmlessly meandering, it goes some way in further settling our nerves, diluting the auditory
barrage and denying us the true depths of despair we’ve been treading in to stay afloat throughout.

RESFEBER unashamedly echoes ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to such great effect that being anything other than forgiving and fascinated, from the outset is fanciful… as we scratch away at the multi-layered surface, we intermittently stray from the familiar, before coming back full circle to our newest chip off the old Beatles-borne block.

Have visceral emotion and ethereal nuance ever complimented each other so completely? There’s so much foreboding to be processed, so much hope and aspiration illuminated within, that in order to access the album’s full emotive spectrum and to establish a greater appreciation of it’s excellence, headphones are essential.

I really hope JFW considers collaborating with an array of guest vocalists, to produce something of a more visceral, multi-faceted version (perhaps akin to UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction LP); it would be a fantastic way to fill the surely arduous months of pining that now separate us from his next delight and despair-rich album.
When you decide to buy the album (and you will), buy it here!

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

wasuremono: An interview with the newest bears on the block

After seeing the enigmatic Wasuremono live, supporting Phosphorescent on their recent UK tour, I managed to weasel an interview out of them; as you’ll see from my photos herein, I also came away with quite the haul of booty!!! 

  

Will Southward (Vocals and Guitar)

Phoebe Phillips (Bass)

Isaac Phillips (Drums)

Madelaine Ryan (Keys/Backing Vocals)

                                                            
AS: Listening to you guys reminds me of Talking Heads, Dirty Projectors and othersuch bands; what influences your sound above all else? W: Vocal, hooks/melody.

AS: When you take aim with your peashooter/pellet gun/sniper rifle, who are you aiming at? W: The person eating with their mouth open… NOM NOM NOM!!!
AS: Where do you go when it all gets too much? W: The Pub.

AS: Is bedtime more half nine with a half read paper or more half four with fully red eyes? W: Half four with fully red eyes.

AS: What do you do with any ‘you’ time? W: Walks... which normally end in the pub!
AS: Who would be your dream collaborator? W: David Byrne or Jonny Greenwood. 

AS: What’s the last gig/concert you went to? W: Phosphorescent.
AS: If you were a musical instrument what would you be? W: A Theremin.
AS: What’s ‘love at first sight’ all about then? W: An instant connection, without talking to each other.

AS: Where do you draw your inspiration from? W: My drum machines and guitars.

AS: Care to share any regrets, missed opportunities or things that might’ve been? W: I got tickets to see the Led Zeppelin reunion, but the email went in my spam folder. 
AS: What’s the best / your favourite music video? W: Rubber Johnny by Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin.
AS: Were/are you aware of your escalating popularity? W: Yes, but all the hidden listeners are nice surprises.
AS: Will your past come back to haunt you or will karma be kind? W: Good Karma all the way... I never stand on bugs!
AS: Where do you most enjoy playing live? W: Festivals in the summer.
AS: Why? What's your biggest why question that mystifies you most? W: Why don’t you talk much on stage?
AS: Where do you sit in the grand scheme of things? W: On a pillow made of clouds.
AS: Why the name (not your christened name of course)? W: Liked the meaning behind it! It’s Japanese (for ‘something left behind’)!
AS: Who’s the most likely to go solo or crazy? W: William would like to go solo and create an album about food; he’s got half of the songs already!
AS: Any choice epitaphs or famous last words for which you’d like to be quoted? W: Don’t push that button!
AS: What makes you better than everyone else? W: I have more guitars than friends.
AS: When do you plan to take over the world? W: When I get fast enough.
AS: What changes can we expect with your latest outing? W: Gone from Roland 808 to the Linn Drum Computer.
AS: Are you all agreed/in control of the formats for your releases? W: Yes, in full control.
AS: Wish you were doing anything else with your time other than music? W: No!
AS: Who were your heroes as a teenager? W: Dave Grohl and Billy Corgan.
AS: What do you think of the paparazzi? W: Is that a type of pizza? I love Italian food!
AS: What music are you listening to of late? W: Kurt Vile and Gaz Coombes.
AS: Any message for underachieving or odds-facing musicians out there? W: If you love the music you make, someone will love it also! Also, record and produce your own music; no one knows your sound better than you!                                                                                       

AS: Do you enjoy playing live or are you more at home in a studio? W: Enjoy writing in my home studio more than anything else. Creating new music is the most rewarding... still love playing live though, but its so different!
AS: Your career defining dream moment would/will be what? W: Slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
AS: Know of any upcoming bands that are destined for greatness? W: Isaac's side DJ project.
AS: How important do you feel visuals are in relation to music? W: A bonus if you can get them for live show; The Flaming Lips are a prime example!
AS: What’s been the highlight of your year? W: Getting a booking agent.
AS: I’m sure you’ve done a few but which gig has been your best? W: Shepherds Bush Empire with Phosphorescent.
AS: Any forthcoming plans for the band? W: New album coming round the corner!
AS: Is there more pressure playing live with a band than there is playing solo? W: No
AS: Are you unlucky in love and if so, why? W: I'm lucky in love.
AS: Best song, movie OR album ever? W: Kid A (Radiohead) or Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie album.
AS: Where did you sleep last night? W: In the land of nod.
AS: What’s your secret vice... what are you a sucker for? W: Gear and beer.
AS: What makes the world go round? W: Chuck Norris!
AS: Where’s the place to be? W: Ecstasy
AS: What’s your weak point? W: I once made a point that wasn’t a great point at all... it was a weak point!

AS: Any career highs or low you care to share? W: Highs are session at Maida Vale Studios for Steve Lamacq, supporting the Flaming Lips and playing Shepherds Bush Empire. The low usually involves selling a guitar.
AS: Which instrument does it for you most? W: Guitars.
AS: What inspired the LP title? W: The band name!
AS: Are you a good dancer and can you prove it? W: No, unless I'm wasted, then I'm awesome!
AS: What kinds of music (if any) do you dislike the most? W: Electro Swing.
AS: Where will you retire to when you're tired of comeback concerts? W: The studio.
AS: When will the world end? W: When the music stops.
AS: Who’s the main driving force or do you work as a team? W: William.
AS: How important are the single / album charts? W: Not important.
AS: What revival would you most like to witness? W: The dance craze “Skankin’.
AS: Which era would you have been born in ideally? W: This one.
AS: Are exercise and diet important to you? W: Exercise yes, but no to diet.
AS: If you could protect and save 1 thing in the world, what would it be? W: Dogs.
AS: Who’s the most gifted person alive today? W: Flexible Phillip or perhaps Slippery Steve... it’s a tough one!
AS: Have you got any famous relatives and if so, who are they? W: My old dog Olive was probably the most famous in our family... RIP.
AS: Does complaining accomplish anything? W: Yes!
AS: Whose autograph do you have and why? W: Dave Grohl's 'cause my mum got it for me.
AS: Which fictional character would you most like to be and why? W: Superman, for obvious reasons.
AS: Which rules... the digital age or the vinyl/cassette age? W: I like vinyl but I also listen to Spotify... I was raised on cassettes though.
AS: Which musical style should become extinct first? W: Electro Swing.
AS: Do you have any tragically unused band names you’d like to use? W: I have a secret list all better than the band name we have now.
AS: Was it easy becoming who you are today? W: No, it was a long graft.
AS: What’s the biggest myth about stardom? W: That you use money as toilet paper!
AS: Have you ever been conned into or out of something? W: Listening to Dream Theatre... thanks Isaac!
AS: Do politics have a place in music? W: If you want to, but I don’t.

          
For further insight into this fantstic band...