Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I Like It - Grandmaster Gareth - The Hoarder Of Moments

Music - Part 86 - An Interview With Phildel

The debut album from Phildel, The Disappearance Of The Girl, is about to be launched to the World.  A fine example of alternative pop, with incisive lyrics and a beautiful voice.

Phildel took time out from her busy schedule to let me ask a few quesitons:

Do I call you Phildel or Zara?
Definitely Phildel

How’s your day been?
So far - short, I’ve just woken up as were out until 2am last night recording nighttime sounds in a field.

The Disappearance Of The Girl is a superb album, are you ready for the inevitable attention that will come your way?
Thank you - yes, I think so, I spent years working on the album so it’s lovely to be bringing it to the surface now.

Will fame affect you?
I doubt it...I live in my own little world to such an extent that reality doesn’t tend to have much impact.

What inspires your lyrics? 
It all finds it root in how I’m feeling, but mainly the subconscious or the ‘dreaming mind’ - a part of my brain that I’m not really consciously engaged with....I just let the lyric fragments unfold without coming up with a formula or topic - sometimes the words don’t make sense at first. But when I look at them after some time’s past - they make perfect sense in terms of what I was going through. I think our awareness as humans is funny like that. You don’t often realise the full extent of what you’re going through until you back on it years later. But the subconscious or dreaming part of your mind, is always more connected to how you feel.

When did you realise you had such a beautiful voice?  Do you hear it yourself?
I’ve never really thought of it as beautiful, I suppose I just try to make sure it expresses what I want to express. In fact, out of all the musical things I do - composing, arranging, playing instruments -my voice is the one thing I’m most insecure about. Because I couldn’t really use my voice for so many years living in my mother and stepfather’s house - and when I first started to sing - I could barely make a sound. It felt incredibly difficult and somehow, it still feels like a challenge to make a sound - after all the years of being told to be silent. I suppose it’s all quite psychological.

Who were your musical influences, and, how much did you crave them when music was banned from your household?
I was very young before music was banned from my household - only 8 years old. So I hadn’t really formed any musical influences. I loved the nursery rhymes I knew and I’d teach myself to play them all on my toy piano. I remember it clearly - it was one of my only real joys as a child. Learning to play the nursery rhymes by ear felt like solving a brilliant puzzle of sound. I never understood why nobody else in my family wanted to do it.

How big a part was the musical silence when writing such haunting songs?
I think the experiences and trauma of the ten years I spent in that household, not just without music, but without any freedom at all - the sweeping changes to my cultural identity, what felt like imprisonment for a decade - are absolutely central to the songs on the album. In the safe haven of my album world - the world of my own imagination - I was able to confront all of those issues and say things I couldn’t ever say in reality.

Twitter or Facebook?
Both...but I think Facebook allows me to share art and music easier and allows others to discuss things with me easier.

You’ve made a video for every track on your album.  What’s the thought process behind that?
I wanted the videos to show the album’s visual journey I have in my mind. One video however, “Holes In Your Coffin” I’ve asked the public to contribute footage for. I wanted to give my supporters the chance to get really involved. It’s gone so well and the submissions have been excellent. My label didn’t give any budget for the videos - so I shot and directed them myself using £300 I had to spare. It took me about seven months to complete them all. I think with art and music if you have a vision, you just need to get on with it and find a way. No matter whether there’s outside help or not. Just bring it into existence, no matter what it takes.

Do you listen to your own music?
Yes, I have to re-draft and spend a long time sculpting the arrangements when I work on music so I listen to the tracks quite intensively for the few years that I spend working on them. Once the album is finalised I stop listening for a few years and move on to writing the next songs...

You’re very complimentary of producer Ross Cullum, and, partner Chris on the album notes.  The perfect team?
Yes - along with the engineers, programmers and musicians who also worked on the album. I was so lucky to have had such an excellent team for “The Disappearance of the Girl”. Ross Cullum is such an intuitive and supportive producer - he completely supported my vision and the process was entirely free and without any creative restriction. Ross said he felt that for him, the role of a producer is to support a great artist and the strongest album emerges from an undiluted artist’s vision. Many producers I’ve worked with have imposed their own vision and ideas. For me - that approach never worked out, as I have a detailed vision for what I need an album I create to sound like. Chris Young - my long-standing (long-suffering!) partner supports me in everything I do musically. He’s amazing, I don’t think I’d have the confidence I have without him. In the years gone by, I’d come home and say...”Oh, this person thinks I should do this...and I don’t know, maybe they’re right...” And he’d just sit me down and say - “Yesterday, you told me that for this track you saw choirs of ethereal spirits and ruins in a countryside valley” - you know exactly what you think this should be - and everytime you work with someone who thinks they know better - it never works out. You need to believe in yourself”. He was always right and I’m so glad I held out for a producer like Ross Cullum and programmers like Sean McGhee and Marky Bates who really got into the mindset and built on my album vision to create an album that surpassed my own expectations and that I am so proud of.

Have you ever wanted to scream halfway through a performance?
Haha! No.

I don’t watch many TV adverts, but I believe several of your songs have been ‘borrowed’.  Would you turn down any offers if you didn’t like their product?
Yes, I’d turn things down if I just didn’t like the way the advert looked or if it advertised a product I didn’t personally think much of. I’ve always been a customer of the things my music’s been used on. As a musician of my particular kind of music, I have a positive perspective on advertising - because in the music industry today, radio stations don’t often give airplay to music that’s not genre-specific or hard to’s actually advertising people who are most likely to give that kind of sound a major platform. I think they’re more creative and courageous in the way they work with music.

I’m coming over for a meal, what are we having?
My darker side immediately gets a bit Silence of the Lambs and says ‘you’. But my more balanced conscious mind suggests salmon teryaki, pak choi and rice noodles - my favourite dish at the moment.

Beneath the calm of your music are some quite incisive lyrics, how intentional is that?
The contrast isn’t intentional at all...we just tried to find the best sounds to serve the spirit of the song. And the cards fell as they fell.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?  Maybe a holiday?

No chance of a holiday as such...I’m playing live dates around the UK later this month, including the Bristol and Manchester legs of Dot-to-Dot Festival, followed by Hay-on-the-Wye “How The Light Gets In” Festival. Then I’ll be off to the USA in July for a month of collaborations with a brilliant US artist called SLEEPTHIEF. Followed by a trip to Vancouver to work with the wonderful Bill Leeb of Delirium, then a performance at Vancouver Folk Festival. And straight back to the UK in time to play the Secret Garden Party, which I’m so looking forward to. I’ll also be playing Edinburgh Fringe Festival on 5th August, which will be fun!

I would like to issue a huge thank you to Chris Stone of Stone Immaculate for arranging the interview, and, to Phildel for her time and generosity.

Music - Part 85 - Phildel

Phildel – The Disappearance Of The Girl (Decca)
3 June 2013

Comparisons will be made – Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Grimes.  The plain and simple truth is that Phildel has a voice like no other.  Not only that but she writes and plays songs of quite startling quality.  You should know the story by now – her songs were picked up by several companies for their TV ads before she had even officially recorded a track, then her world exploded.  From Marks & Spencer to fashion shows, her songs are being played and you may not even know it.

At the age of 8 she was to be deprived of music, radio and TV by her extremist Father for the next ten years, and, only progressed her love for music in secret lunchtime sessions at School.  Her remarkable talent flourished, and, at the age of 28 she produces, writes and arranges her debut album which Decca have had on ‘slow release’ for a few months.  The twelve songs here are nothing short of immaculate and should see the artist propelled into the spotlight within a very short space of time, or, there is no justice.

Opening with the title track the album confirms that this is indeed a star in the making.  Swaying violins, and the voice of an angel.  She sings of her enforced restrictions as a child and how the child inside her was barely allowed to exist.  If this song doesn’t melt your heart then you have no soul. 

You’ll probably recognise Storm Song.  Starting eerily and gently enough, it soon rises into a catchy pop song racing along like the steam train it mentions, Phildel’s voice extraordinarily belies her age, belonging instead to a more mature artist.  The arrangement is faultless and the voice cannot be underestimated.  Incredibly catchy and likeable, and, early proof that Phildel isn’t just tied to slow songs.  Beneath the soft tones of the music are lyrics that really can bite, we’re not talking sugar-sweet pop here, we’re talking alternative pop is sheeps clothing.  We have true pop stomp on The Wolf, a track that begins slowly with lone voice, “And you once said, I wish you dead”, that sends shivers down your spine before moving into livelier territory.  Synth basslines pump out with echoed voices and effects, moving along with walls of sounds and an infectious dark chorus.

It would be easy to describe every one of the tracks on the album, but, the easiest thing to do is just listen to it.  It is an album of quite remarkable quality and displays a talent which surely cannot stay hidden for much longer.  Holes In Your Coffin is more black hypnotic pop moving along in an exciting and eerie fashion.  There is nothing that can describe Beside You other than ‘beautiful’ – a song written in classic style in so much as to say it is a classic song that you will hear time and time again.  Album closer, Funeral Bell, has lyrics of pure poetry,  “Mother I’m scared to die....Father I’m scared to live”, it’s slightly disturbing and gorgeous at the same time.  A track that leaves you aghast at its end.

Not only should you own this album, you should buy it and you should love it.  You should then give it pride of place in your cd cabinet and gaze upon it adoringly.


Published on Louder Than War 28/05/13 - here

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Music - Part 84 - The Orb Featuring Lee 'Scratch' Perry

The Orb Featuring Lee ‘Scratch’Perry – Ball Of Fire (Cooking Vinyl)
Out Now

When asked, Steve Barker from Radio Lancashire’s legendary alternative music programme, On The Wire, told me that the sky in the world of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was probably “transparent with pink and green lustres”.  He might have a point, the man is clearly bonkers.   And so, with a group who themselves who have also been known to be slightly ‘different’, there would appear to be a collaboration in the making.  Last years album, The Orbserver In The Starhouse, was proof of the theory, in fact, so well went the sessions and recording, that a second album has been borne from the partnership.  Ball Of Fire contains six versions of the song and precedes the release of the June album More Tales From The Orbservatory.

The regular mix of Ball Of Fire is a dub house bounce.  Changes in key are marvellous and Perrys voice sounds just like, well, Perry.  Whether he improvised the lyrics on the spot is open to debate, but anyone that can get away with singing “Shooby dooby doooo, I love you” can’t be all bad.  Yes, he’s as mad as a box of frogs, but we love him too.  It’s a killer track and there’s no reason at all why it couldn’t cross over into the mainstream.  It’s pack jammed with musical tricks and effects and is completely spellbinding.

Following on are two mixes from Deadbeat – a Version and a Dub.  Both give the track a whole new feel.  The Version is slow and easy with Perry’s voice easy to distinguish with the music of Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann given a backseat but with the essence of The Orb still shining through.  The Dub mix is an aural delight.  A lesson in how to make dub mixes, the lazy feel of the instrumentation is put through a superb dub treatment and the result is an absolute joy. 

The Dabrye Remix brings in sounds that either aren’t on the original mix, or, were less easy to distinguish in the overall scheme of things.  Sounding like a traditional reggae track in parts and also containing dub elements, it sounds like a completely different track. 

There are then two versions from Mad Professor – the I Need Balls Version and another Dub Version.  Again, continuing the lazy, summer feel and both with some brilliant dubbing carrying the instrumental hook throughout.  You’ll be humming the melody for quite some time after the near thirty minute collection has finished.




Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Music - Part 83 - Laurel Halo

Laurel Halo – Behind The Green Door EP (Hyperdub)
20 May 2013

On the face of it this is quite a stark change of style from the last Laurel Halo EP release, ‘Sunlight On The Faded’ which was a very accessible and catchy number.  The ‘Behind The Green Door’ (great title, by the way) is slightly more experimental and less immediate.

Opener ‘Throw’ has a piano riff constant throughout the track, a house track but without the percussion.  Occasionally, slipping up a key, on first listen it can sound out of tune and almost improvised, in fact, all the tracks on this EP could have the same comment made.  Listening to them as standalone tracks could be difficult, but, when played in sequence the tracks work and begin to achieve some cohesion.  It’s a grower, and, you if you have any musical intelligence then you’ll give this three or four listens before making up your mind.

‘Uhffo’ is quite a different affair with a pumping drumbeat from the off and obligatory random sounds, whilst ‘Noyfb’ gives a far more urban dance feel spinning off at tangents and introducing new effects constantly.

The highlight of the EP is closer, ‘Sexmission’, starting with a looped soundbyte before turning into a more conventional dance sound.  A more involved track but breaking off time and time again to display more experimentation.

The stripped back ambient feel is interesting.  Just enough to keep you with it, but, sufficient space to be able to recognise different sounds and scales.  It’s also ambitious enough to be given well-rewarded praise.  

Laurel is never one to stand still and whilst we have artists like her continuing to push the boundaries, our appreciation of an often dying UK dancefloor scene can be given a timely injection.  A grower.



Music - Part 82 - Princess Chelsea and Pikachunes Live Review

Princess Chelsea and Pikachunes: The Deaf Institute, Manchester 20/05/13 – live review 

The Deaf Institute in Manchester is my new favourite venue. 

Situated on Grosvenor Street just off Oxford Road in the heart of the University complex the building was officially opened in 1878.  From the outside, it’s an almost gothic looking building which contains a chapel arranged in an amphitheatre form.  Inside, it has clearly lost none of its character and is separated into three floors, the highest of which is the venue for performances.

The small audience is here to see Princess Chelsea, on our shores from New Zealand as support act on the UK tour of Mercury Prize Winners Alt-J, and, seizing the opportunity to conduct her own five date mini tour of the UK. 

First on stage though is Miles Loveless (aka Pikachunes) also from New Zealand.  He was to play a part in later proceedings, but, first gave his own performance.  In front of surely one of the biggest glitterballs in existence, his lone figure punching the air and wriggling around like a lizard in a tin to his very unique brand of alternative synth pop.  Playing most of his eponymously titled debut album, and probably too young to know he sounds like a cross between They Might Be Giants and Pet Shop Boys, he is confident and performs well-crafted songs in a very entertaining manner.  Tracks like ‘Nervous’ and ‘Just A Boy’ are infectious and well-received.  After a handful of songs, he trots off stage for a well-earned cigarette break.

Part of the audience for Pikachunes is none other than Princess Chelsea herself.  Stood with boyfriend and fellow band member, Jonathan Bree of The Brunettes, she clearly enjoys the performance and chats to members of the audience before disappearing backstage to prepare for her own set. 

Re-appearing with band members which include the aforementioned Messrs Bree and Loveless (drums and guitar respectively, though to swap places after two tracks!) and a wine glass filled with either a nice Shiraz or the Manchester delicacy of Hot Vimto, she introduces herself as Chelsea “or, my stage name, Princess Chelsea”.  She obviously enjoys playing live, smiling and laughing with the audience and band alike whilst trying to overcome feeling a little under the weather, she immediately gets into her stride with tracks from last years excellent ‘Lil’ Golden Book’ album. 

The fairy-tale/merry-go-round/music box feel of the album is beefed up somewhat and tracks like the end of the world lament, ‘Frack’ take on new life.  ‘Ice Reign’ is preceded by the humorous recorded sound of rain and the sound quality is spot-on.  Chelsea stands behinds keyboard and laptop and wears a Triangle around her neck which she occasionally plays.  She even attempts a slurp of ‘that’ wine glass but fails miserably, dripping down the side of her face.

The YouTube mega-hit, ‘The Cigarette Song’, a duet with Jonathan is marvellous, and, every four-year-olds favourite, ‘Monkey Eats Bananas’, is faultless.

There are new tracks too, the new single ‘We’re So Lost’ which is described as “a very sad song”, and, the catchy ‘No Church On Sunday’, both of which should hopefully be on the next album provisionally entitled ‘The Great Cybernetic Depression’ scheduled for release early 2014.

If you have the chance, go along and catch the Princess at one of her remaining dates.  You won’t regret it, and, one day you’ll be able to brag that you were ‘there’.


Monday, 20 May 2013

Music - Part 81 - Calling All Astronauts

Calling All Astronauts – Post Modern Conspiracy (Supersonic Media)
19 May 2013

How does a relatively unknown group manage to get almost fifty thousand Twitter followers to vote for their singles and propel them to uber chart status?  Well, actually following almost of those people themselves probably helps, but, somehow they have had to engage along the way.  Calling All Astronauts seem to have created a compelling album of varied styles which simply should not work when thrown together, but, in short, they do.

Two years in the making, ‘Post Modern Conspiracy’ contains fourteen highly charged tracks, which thunder along though songs of politics, human rights and society, and, manage to engage the listener along the way.  Based in London and self produced they have then called on the post production skills of Harvey Birrell (Crass, Therapy?, Buzzcocks) to create something rather good.

Debut single, ‘Someone Like You’ opens the album with a start.  Vocalist, David Bury, has more than a passing resemblance to Wayne Hussey and the song could almost be a 21st Century version of Sisters Of Mercy.  Thumping drumbeats, screeching guitars and heavy bass, it’s a cracking beginning and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

CAA take no prisoners with their no-nonsense approach, biting lyrics and sheer pumping power.  Take single ‘What’s So Good About’ and it’s comment on reality TV, or, (song title of the year?) ‘Politicized – Ignorance Is Not An Excuse’. 

Soundbytes are added on tracks like ‘Justice’ or ‘The Demise Of Society’ which at times bear a resemblance to the mighty Tackhead (maybe not surprising at Birrell mixed the groups ‘Videohead’ single).  There are even nods towards dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass on ‘Eye Of God’ and hints of hip-hop too.  Their uncompromising approach to ‘not giving a shit’ should be applauded, and, their confidence to mix opposing genres was a risk well worth taking.

An album to be played loud and savoured.  Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t dead – it just keeps evolving, and, Calling All Astronauts could well be your favourite new Gothic/Punk/ElectroPop group.



Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Music - Part 80 - Brother JT

Brother JT -  The Svelteness of Boogietude (Thrill Jockey)
13 May 2013

John Terlesky, founder of the Original Sins, could well be our 21st Century Boy.  Not only does the album title hint at a Bolan influence, but the tracks could almost be modern day replies to the master song-writer.  Gongs are banged and guitars are boogie-fied on thirteen memorable tracks which could quite easily, for the uninitiated, be Bolan covers.

You won’t find many a better album opener than the stomp of ‘Celebrate Your Face’ which also has more than a casual nod in the direction of Bowie circa Spiders From Mars.  It’s immediate, it’s brash and bold, and it’s the perfect progression to the 70s glam sound.  There could even be the riff from ‘The Slider’ hidden at the bottom of the ‘Glider’ but surely I’m reading too much into this?  If I was, them I have no defence for ‘T.Rex Blues’ where the tribute can’t get any more obvious. 

The Brother pieces together Zinc Alloy and boogies like the best of them.  He is a master craftsman, making the music I was a toddler to, classic again.  Journeying into roll-along pop rock with ‘Be A’ in a way that brings to mind Donovan’s ‘Season Of The Witch’ and even references the late great Ravi Shankar.  With song titles like ‘Sweatpants’ and ‘I Still Like Cassettes’, can you take an artist like this seriuously?  On the face of it, probably not, particularly when you hear the teddy bear squeaks and faux blaxploitation accent on the former, oozing hilarious funky sex like you’ve never heard, but you can’t help but love it and begin to think that Mr Terlesky is actually a modern day musical genius.

Things even take a quite lovely turn with the slow, acid induced, love feeling of ‘Green Curtain’ before cranking up again to the military stomp of ‘Things I Like’ with the razor edge vocals holding together yet another addictive tune.  ‘Many Man Smoke’ takes you on a trip you’re grateful you didn’t experience firsthand with echoes and swirls and fumes merry-going around your brain like a Wurlitzer possessed.  You’ve never tried drugs?  You’ll feel like you have after this!

The huge anthemic tracks on this album blend perfectly with the more placid numbers like ‘Mourning Dove’ and when the album ends on the Ozric Tentacles infused ‘Flotsam And Jetsam’ you’re left longing for more.

This album deserves to be recognised in 2013.  It’s original, it’s brave, and it has more Metal Guru than you can shake a dusty Les Paul at.  Marvellous.



Music - Part 79 - Glenn John

Glenn Jones – My Garden State (Thril Jockey)
13 May 2013

Glenn Jones is known for his original storytelling through his songs, an good guitarist undoubtedly, but there’s something missing on ‘My Garden State’.  The ten instrumentals here are pleasant enough but that’s probably as far as it goes.  The tracks are crafted well and with the exception of ‘Going Back To East Montgomery’ and ‘Like A Sick Eagle Looking At The Sky’ are of reasonable length to be easy on the ear without being ‘too much’.  These two tracks at around eight minutes each, and to be frank, they could quite easily have been halved.

It’s true, the tracks exude a certain amount of emotion, the listener could well induce their own story to the music and find themselves drifting away into their own self-contained nirvana, and if that is the purpose of them then Glenn is a very talented musician indeed.  If not, then there is clearly something amiss and could be in need of being addressed.

Both opener and closer to the album, ‘Chimes’ and ‘Chimes II’ are pointless.  Quite literally the sound of chimes over a evening breeze with background crickets, they are almost identical, and are neither interesting nor cohesive to the rest of the album.  They may well have some personal reference to the musician, but to the listener, could have been deleted from the track listing.

Let’s be clear, this isn’t a bad album, in fact track two, ‘Across The Tappan Zee’, is a great piece, and to be fair, then holds great promise for the remainder of the album, but therein lies the problem.  Every track of ‘My Garden State’ bestows this promise, and it becomes a ‘nearly’ album.  Glenn tries to bring a bit of alternative to his playing by using alternate tunings and this is to be applauded.  Similarly, he has a skill for projecting many emotions through wordless tracks which is to be acknowledged and recognised.

At times, he drifts into improvisation with the likes of ‘The Vernal Pool’, but, on the title track, he again comes good with a well-constructed and enjoyable track

An album of promise, with a few dulled diamonds which are ideal as background music, but, lack a little something to bring it to the fore.

Music - Part 78 - Peals

Peals – Waking Field (Thrill Jockey)
13 May 2013

Formed in 2012, Baltimore duo Peals is William Cashion of Future Islands and Bruce Willen from Double Dagger.  Their punk roots have been firmly shelved in an album containing eight tracks of the highest quality.

Opening track, ‘Floating Leaf’, begins in an Oriental style of layered strings before closing with a couple of minutes of drone.  It’s a quite fascinating beginning to an album which completely caught me out in its simplicity and beauty.  ‘Blue Elvis’ slurs into being with a dubbed back beat and sumptuous guitar work, again slightly eastern in its roots, very medative and easy on the ear.  It’s interesting to note that there are no drums or bass guitars on this album which is maybe a conscious attempt to leave behind their ‘day job’. 

The chime effects of ‘Belle Air’ are gorgeous.  Played over an artificial breeze and several sonic sounds.  Shimmering and echoing and constantly endearing, it’s intellectual calm for the drone purest.  A repeated chime loop whispering and creeping around your head.  

Moving into ‘Pendelles’ and Cellist Kate Barutha enters the frame and adds something rather beautiful to the track.  Again, very moving.

‘Tiptoes In The Parlor’ is slightly more upbeat, with high pitched guitars which almost sing, and, comes in at less than two minutes long before the gentler feel of ‘Lonestar’.  Moving along slowly with a great hook which stays with you well after the track has gone (think Twin Peaks with style), and the layers and textures of the track, although minimal, are cohesive and well placed.

Tracks on the album flow, and the order of their appearance is a master stroke.  ‘Believers’ is near monotone slowly rising towards the end, superbly avoiding the urge to crash and scream out aloud, instead peaking and then fading out again.  Album closer, ‘Koan 1’ is probably the most complex of the tracks.  Again, a slightly oriental feel, chiming guitars and the return of Barutha, albeit short-lived.

‘Walking Field’ is a great album, full of surprises and full of good solid tunes.  You could do a lot worse than give it a listen.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Music - Part 77 - Public Service Broadcasting

Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain (Test Card Recordings)
6 May 2013

I’ll admit it, I was late catching on to Public Service Broadcasting, but, by the time I blogged about them in November of last year (read the article here), I was hooked. 

It’s pretty common knowledge now how PSB make their music, and, many initially viewed them as a bit of a novelty act, so is a full album of instrumentally accompanied public information films actually any good?  Well, quite simply, yes it is.

From the opening, title track, PSB’s intentions are clear, to do exactly what the title says – ‘Inform, Educate, Entertain’.  Polished tracks which stand up by themselves, but, with the addition of interesting sound bytes, the tracks are lifted to something incredibly wonderful.  There are obvious comparisons to OMD’s  1983 release, ‘Genetic Engineering’ from the wonderful ‘Dazzle Ships’ album, but as sound quality has improved over the years, so has the end result on this album.

The guitar hooks on the superb ‘Spitfire’ (here, the lone track from last years ‘The War Room EP’), and, the album highlight, ‘Signal 30’, are simply superb.  Don’t be fooled by thinking PSB are purely an electronic band, the later of these two tracks has real balls and sounds absolutely incredible cranked up loud.

The success of J. Willgoose Esq and Wrigglesworth is down to their ability to produce a great corduroy-dressed tune, whether it be ‘Theme from PSB’ with its banjolele, or, ‘Lit Up’ with its Kraftwerk nods.  They are endearing and often amusing  but at the same time exciting and powerful.  Royal Mail, American Road Safety, WW2, mountain exploration, it’s all here, present and very correct.  ‘The Now Generation’ with its Prince/electro funk/rock is particularly good fun.

There’s a moment of calm in the sombre ‘Qomolangma’ which barren of any words at all , album finale ‘Late Night Final’ is a haunting, moving close.

After succeeding so well with their first album, it’s maybe difficult to see where Public Service Broadcasting will go next for their ‘difficult second album’.  More of the same or a change of direction?  For the time being, let us wallow in a glorious album of stark originality and potential mass appeal.  One of the finest debut’s for quite some time, and, one to which you really must take the time to enjoy.

Oh, and they have the same initials as me.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Music - Part 76 - Samba Toure

Samba Toure – ‘Albala’ (Glitterbeat Records)
6 May 2013

The amount of new albums by African artistes currently being issued Worldwide at the moment is quite astonishing, not only in their number, but also in their sheer quality.  ‘Albala’ by Samba Toure is no exception.  On this, his third solo album (the title translated as ‘danger’), Toure sings of his concerns over the state of the world.  Is it dark?  Yes, it is.  Is it great music?  You’d better believe it.

In a lovely cd package, the lyric booklet not only has his native Somghai language but also the English translations and it’s absorbing stuff.  Don’t be fooled by opener ‘Be Ki Don’ (‘Everybody Dance’), a song of celebration and of people singing and dancing together, for soon afterwards on ‘Fondora’ (‘Leave Our Road’) killers, rapists, thieves and looters are told to leave the cities which they have attacked.  An indignant Samba says his piece.

Now approaching the age of 45, Samba didn’t have the best of starts to his life.  His Father died before his birth and he was brought up by his Mother together with his Brother.  Ironically, his Mother was one of the first women to sing with Ali Farka Toure an artist whose music he would later fall in love with, and, with whom he would also later collaborate with his own blues inspired blend. 

Love song ‘Aye Go Mila’ (I Only Think About Her’) is hypnotic with Samba’s guitar constantly inspiring.  On ‘Ago Djamba’ (‘Life Betrays Us’), he issues a warning – “Here, nobody is born rich, but we all have the same value”.  Again, blues based and sounding wonderful.

The album is moodier and more powerful than his last, ‘Crocodile Blues’, which received the Malian award for best international cd, and, is certainly at the very least, on a par with it.  Even the title track, an instrumental, is engaging and addictive.  Right up to album closer ‘Bana’ (‘Rain’) the album is captivating and oozes feeling and dedication.   This is an album of considerable quality and one which should adorn many a music collection.