Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Music - Part 137 - Gary Numan

Gary Numan – Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) (Mortal Records)
Out Now

Electronic legend turned potential rock legend, Gary Numan is back with his long awaited new album.  

Firstly, let’s get the Nine Inch Nails comparisons out of the way.  ‘Splinter’ having the same power and raw feel that NINs ‘Year  Zero’ album did makes it slightly ironic then that the new NIN Album, ‘Hesitation Marks’, should actually sound more electronic.  Seemingly, both artists have swapped style.  The true test though is they successful?  The latest offering from Razor, Ross et all was reviewed by Louder Than War here, so you can probably make your own mind up, but what of Numan and his harder, rockier edge?

The answer is really quite simple, Numan is clearly a perfectionist.  Every guitar lick, every drum snare, even every curl of that characteristic snarl is timed and placed into each track with precision.  ‘Splinter’ is very clearly a labour of love.  Theoretically three years in the making and worth every single day of the wait.

You can probably guess what’s in store from the opening of album lead, ‘I Am Dust’.  Slowing juggernauting into view, analogue bleeps, groaning bass-lines, clear thumping percussion, and, ‘that’ voice.  That voice that has shaped generations, often subject to pathetic copies, never beaten.  Unmistakably Numan, sounding fuller and stronger than ever, the voice has aged incredibly.

Similarly, ‘Here In The Black’ continues that post-industrial sound that Numan can easily make his own, complimeneted by a massive sounding orchestra, it again roars along and can only fail not to move the most comatose of souls.  There’s also a quite moving string arrangement on ‘The Calling’ which is unexpected and expected at the same time whilst piano loops to an eerie end.

The vocal on ‘A Shadow Falls On Me’ also shows the range of his voice which is backed by a more techno beat, and, what is particularly impressive about the album is that not only are there strong choruses, but, there are also melodies and musical interludes that are equally as impressive – none more so than on the fine single ‘Love Hurt Bleed’.

Let’s also not forget the title track which could quite easily nestle itself in amongst its contempories on ‘Replicas’ as its sheer spiralling brood weaves its way around an escalating backdrop.

Album closer, ‘My Last Day’, is nothing short of dramatic.  Initially putting on the brakes and providing a haunting piano with an intimate voice, it slowly builds, rising and falling until a quite anthemic close with rolling drums and precise violins appearing again before ending abruptly and fading into the abyss.

The hype around ‘Splinter’ seemed never-ending, and quite rightly so.  After releasing material in every one of the last five decades, Numan shows no signs of his unique talent subsiding.  ‘Splinter’ is nothing short of a triumph.

Best album of 2013?  It’s certainly up there.  Genius.  



Published on Louder Than War 28/10/13 - here

Music - Part 136 - Talisman

Talisman – I-Surrection (Sugar Shack Records)
Out Now

Bristol roots reggae pioneers return with only their third studio album in nearly thirty years. 

Three studio albums in thirty years doesn’t sound like a great output, but, to be fair, Talisman only reformed two years ago, and, do play live at any given opportunity as supporting Selector on their recent UK tour shows.  Co-founders Dennison Joseph and Desmond Taylor (now Dehvan Othieno) return with a typically 70s sounding reggae album of six tracks.

Six? Well, yes, but there’s a twist.  Whilst Side A contains timeless roots reggae, there’s a little surprise waiting on the flipside where each track is give the dub treatment.  Arguably, there is nothing earth shattering about any track on the album, but, why change when what they do is so good and so authentic?  Talisman could quite easily try and update their sound for the 21st century, but, when an audience like that of Black Roots’ has been baying for re-releases and re-issues, the obvious thing is simply to carry on where you left off.

Lyrically, social conscience remains a prime objective, and their lyrics are as incisive under the current Tory government as they were when our current leaders could only drool over Mrs Thatcher in the 70s and 80s.  Talisman argue that whatever progress our society has made, some of the simplest problems still remain.

Opener, ‘Greetings’ ensures the listener quickly settles into the mood for the album.  Easy, lazy, reggae that will please any fan.  ‘Help Yourself’ is pure Marley complete with Bob’s “Woah’s” throughout, and, namechecks to Malcom X and Martin Luther King are joined by those of Stephen Lawrence and Smiley Culture on ‘Season For Freemen’.

The dub versions are good and satisfying, and whilst not dubbed out of proportion, have enough reverb and snare to be accepted as tracks in their own right.  The pick of the bunch being ‘Things A Dub’ (version of ‘Things A Get Tough’), which is quite simply sumptuous and perfect for relaxing and, well, doing nothing.

Not an album that will change the world of reggae, but, do we really need to?  When you have the winning formula, why change?



Published on Louder Than War 28/10/13 - here

Music - Part 135 - The Rough Guide To Voodoo

Various - The Rough Guide To Voodoo (World Music Network)
Out Now

The latest in the long line of ‘Rough Guides’ giving introduction into lesser known musical genres, has arrived in the shape of Voodoo. 

I sort of had an idea what to expect with this double cd compilation.  Loads of tribal-esque tracks, big drumbeats and weird chanting and wailing.  I was completely wrong, and, that’s one of the great things about the Rough Guide series.  They are here to present under heard or misunderstood music types and completely change your opinion.  They often succeed.

‘Rough Guide To Voodoo’ is another double cd this time containing twenty-five tracks which chart the expanse of  Voodoo from Africa to Haiti to Cuba to Brazil and even to New Orleans.  The word ‘Voodoo’ comes from the word ‘Vodou’ which is a Haitian religion and has no connection to the occult which was entirely glamorised by Hollywood, so, my expectations were shot out of the water straight away!

Instead, what this collection brings is choral singing and articulate percussion, but, also variations into blues, jazz and brass ensembles – ‘New Orleans Funeral March’ by Steve Gray being a monster of a track nestling in somewhere between the Tom Waits and the intro to the Dixieland funeral march from Bond movie ‘Live And Let Die’.

It’s probably the difference in styles on this collection which makes it so appealing.  Brazilian legends Baden Powell  and Vinicius de Moreas unite their guitar prowess, and, Maria Bethania performs a quite superb ‘Canto De Oxum’ which is both haunting and beautiful.

As with many Rough Guide compilations, there’s also a bonus disc featuring one particular artist, and, Haitian Vodou priest, Erol Josue,  is chosen here.  Thirteen tracks act as a great introduction to him with the pick of the bunch being a incredibly experimental  ‘Nadoki Nadoka’ which really does have to be heard to be believed.

Ear-opening stuff.



Published on Louder Than War 26/10/13 - here

News - Vince Clarke Remixes Blancmange

Those wonderful chappies Blancmange will be starting their new UK Tour this weekend, and, available to buy at those shows will be "Happy Families Too..." a re-recording of their classic debut album.  

A "deluxe" version with remixes and extra tracks will be made available next year. The remixes are being created from some of the new interpretations. 

Have a listen to "Living On The Ceiling" remixed by the splendid Vince Clarke below.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

They Wear It Well! - Jack Cheshire

Some artists just aren't content with making one of the years finest albums.  Some of them want to wear hiapop badges too!

When the blues/indie/folk poet agreed to sport one of 2013's most sought after fashion accessories a buzz of loveliness eminated around Hiapop Towers.

'Long Mind Hotel' is an album that you really should give a couple of hours of your life to.  A couple of hours, because after the first listen you'll want to hear it again.  Ok, make that three hours.  Or possibly four.  Etcetera.

Long Mind Hotel album review
Jack Cheshire website
Jack Cheshire on Twitter

Friday, 18 October 2013

They Wear It Well! - Adrian McGuinness

Here's Adrian McGuinness from Manchester based folk pop sextet, Marry Another.

He was pictured recently when he appeared at a Harvest Celebration on Rossendale, Lancashire for a local Community Group.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will no doubt spot a lovely hiapop badge on his bag strap.  The lad has taste!

Marry Another website
Marry Another on Reverbnation
Marry Another on Twitter

Music - Part 134 - Oozing Wound

Oozing Wound – Retrash (Thrill Jockey)
Out Now

Chicago based thrash metal trio, Oozing Wound, release their debut mini album and I have to admit that thrash isn’t my thing, but, to validate my ‘everything deserves one listen’ claim, I thought I’d give this a go.  To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised and I suspect that my fourteen year old Son may well be pretty impressed too, but, I don’t think my Dad would be as approving.

So, what do we have here?  Well, as the PR blurb says, it’s ‘not one for headphones or your laptop’ so I played loud, in the car on the way to work yesterday.  What we have is seven tracks of pure noise, big noise and to quote guitarist and vocalist Zack Weil – “loud fucking guitars and screaming shit”.  It’s a pretty good summary and this ‘Retrash’ review could well end there.

By their own admittance, they don’t write melodies and don’t do big choruses either.  What they do do is loud, angry noise with more balls than a sex-starved angry Bull and lines which can be either humorous, or, intentionally offensive to the Biblical Joseph on ‘Welcome To The Spaceship, Motherfucker’.

You really should guess what you’re in for with opener ‘Everyone I Hate Should Be Killed’ which is a huge chunk of thrash/grunge which will certainly wake you first thing in the morning as yesterday’s car journey can testify.  Not an album for the light-hearted, and, certainly not one for folks who aren’t open to persuasion.

Is Retrash a classic?  No, it isn’t, and, the band probably don’t really give an airborne intercourse.  Is the album made with power, aggression and feeling?  You better believe it.



Published on Louder Than War 18/10/13 - here

Music - Part 133 - Red Hot + Fela

Various – Red Hot + Fela (Knitting Factory Records)
Out Now

To celebrate what would have been the 75th Birthday of Nigerian icon and Afrobeat originator, a new compilation of Fela Kuti compositions hits the public. 

If you’re a fan Afrobeat, you’re a fan of Fela Kuti.

If you’re a fan of Funk or Soul, you’re a fan of Fela Kuti.

If you’re a fan of music, you’re a fan of Fela Kuti.

You may not know it, but you are, such is his influence over modern music culture.  Fans and admirers ranging from John Lydon to Paul McCartney will acknowledge his contribution, not only in a musical sense, but also with his influence and understanding of the World we lived in.  ‘Red Hot + Fela’ is not only a tribute to the great man but also a superb album in its own right.

The AIDS awareness organisation, Red Hot, have joined forces with Knitting Factory Records and brought together thirteen tracks originally recorded by Kuti.  What is particularly interesting is that the tracks have not necessarily been made as straight copies of the originals.  There are Afrobeat influences certainly, and none more so than on ‘Lady’ by the partnership of  tUnE-yArDs, ?uestlove, Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru.  Funky guitars are accompanied by screeching brass and a vocal loop than gets itself deep under your skin.

Where the album truly excels itself is when other influences can be heard – ‘Yellow Fever’ for instance, performed by Spoek Mathambo and Zaki Ibrahim, is given a hip-hop twist and works perfectly well.  There are other influences here in the shape of dance, rap and spoken word, the later of which gives a nod in the direction of Gil Scott-Heron.  There’s also something about ‘Buy Africa’ by Baloji that almost gets this aging forty-five year old up on his feet and attempting to dance!

‘Red Hot + Fela’ is  not just another trite tribute album.  It’s a superb array of artists who not only feel the music and spirit of Kuti, but, also breathe new life into the re-interpretations.  The tracks are well chosen, the production quality is amazing and everyone involved with the making of this album can be well pleased with themselves.  The Black President would be a very happy man.



Published on Louder Than War 18/10/13 - here

Music - Part 132 - An Interview With Gary Numan

Reviewing for Louder Than War is an amazing thing.  Discovering mew music and getting to share my thoughts with the World.  It also throws up some incredible opportunities.

A couple of weeks ago, following my review of new single 'Love Hurt Bleed', I was asked if I would like to interview Gary Numan.  Like to interview Gary Numan?!  Damn right I would.....

How’s Gary Numan’s World at the moment?
It’s very hectic, a little worrying but very exciting. With the new Splinter album just days away from being released it’s an important moment in my life. I’m very hopeful but also very aware of how difficult it is for things to succeed. But, I love what I’m doing, I’m very happy with the album and the initial reaction to it so I have nothing to complain about.

Splinter promises to see you on top form,  many think the finest of your career, do you still get the same buzz after making music in five decades?
Very much so, in fact the release of Splinter is probably one of the most exciting times I can remember. The general opinion seems to be that it’s one of my best albums, quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done, so you would have to be dead inside not to be buzzing about that reaction. It’s an amazing response to something that’s taken me a long time to make and I’m blown away by it.

Who excites you musically nowadays?
A band called Officers are my favourite at the moment. Their debut album was amazing. They’ve toured with me twice in the UK and the fans love them. We did a single together last year called Petals that I was really proud of. In fact we filmed the video for that the day before I flew to Los Angeles to start my new life here.

Your admiration of Nine Inch Nails is well known – how big of an influence have they been?
I don’t think it’s possible to be a big fan of something without some of it rubbing off. I know Trent has talked very eloquently on many occasions about how I was an influence on him, and it certainly flows both ways. I’m a great admirer of Trent and what he does on many levels. He sets a very high standard.

I’m coming for a meal, what are you making me?
A hot dog in the micro wave. 35 seconds and a slightly stale roll and I know I’m happy. That work for you?

Have there been any covers or samples of your own songs that you’ve hated?
Yes, but I would never mention them. I’m always flattered and honoured that someone wants to cover or sample one of my songs so, even if I don’t like the results, I still see it as a positive thing. I think it would be very bad form to then rubbish their efforts. There has been some diabolical shit though.

What drives Gary Numan?
I love making music, I love being on the road touring, I love challenges, I love being in a band. I also have a real fear of getting old so I try to cram as much into life as possible. I love my family and I want to give them the best life I possibly can.

When was the last time you drove a fork lift?
1978. We used to set up a small track made of wooden pallets in the warehouse where I worked and have fork lift races. It all went very well until we tipped one over and smashed a huge pile of wedgewood. A few months later I had a number one single in the UK so I never got chance to race a fork lift again.

Looking back at ‘Bombers’ and ‘That’s Too Bad’, did you ever think you’d make it as a performer?
Always, but more due to the blind optimism of youth than any thoughts of actually having any talent. I think when you are young, everything you dream of seems very possible. Life has yet to knock the shit out of you and make confidence and hope the fragile and precarious things they become as years go by.

You can share an evening in front of the TV with 5 celebrities, living or dead – who would they be?
King Leonides of Sparta, Julias Ceaser, Alexander The Great, King Henry the 8th and Jesus. I would like to learn about glorious and brutal leadership and conquering overwhelming odds, and I’d like to have a chat with Jesus about some other stuff.

The late 80s and early 90s were a difficult time.  What made you keep going?
I was £600,000 in debt so that kind of gives you a reason to keep trying. But, in truth, I never lost my ambition or desire to keep writing songs. I think if you genuinely enjoy what you do, you still want to do it even if the success has faded somewhat. Plus, I am stupidly optimistic so I always believed that things would turn around, it took a bit longer than I’d hoped but it all came good again eventually.

When you took part in The Race on Sky ,you lost out to AC/DC’s Brian Johnson. Any hard feelings?
None whatsoever, but that’s because, although I came second in the final race to Brian, I won the overall competition. I loved that time actually. Brian was such a cool man to hang out with.

Splinter was originally planned for release in early 2010 – why the wait?
After the last studio album Jagged was released in 2006 I had a second child, then a third, reached 50, got depressed, was put on medication for several years and, in general, had a hard time for a while. Didn’t write anything for over three years, and then it started to come back but in small bits and pieces. I didn’t really get in to my stride with Splinter until early 2012 so things just didn’t work out the way I planned or hoped for. Then, in the latter part of 2012, I immigrated to the US so that got in the way of progress on the album for while.

If you could go back over your career, would you change anything?
I’ve made a vast amount of mistakes but I’m very happy with where I am at the moment. If I was to change some of those mistakes who knows how life might have turned out. It might be worse. To be honest I actually don’t waste a moment of my time looking back and regretting things, or wishing I’d done something different. I’m here now, and I want to make the best of what I have.

Do your children show any early signs of a musical future?
All of them. They all sing, they all dance, after a fashion, and they all show interest in playing instruments, mainly piano at the moment but Raven, my eldest, is also learning Viola at school. It’s something I will encourage them in as much as possible. I hope they all decide on a career in music. I love my life, and I’m sure they would love a life that revolves around music.

What next?

Lots of touring, I have a film score to write in December and January, more touring next year and another album to write. I’d really like the follow up to Splinter to be ready for the end of 2014. I have some songs to write for two films that are coming out in the new year and I would really like to get my long delayed novel finished and published. My children have started to learn to surf so I wouldn’t mind having a go at that as well. I need a new hobby.

Big thanks also to Lewis and Duncan 9pr for their help in getting the interview together.


Published on Louder Than War 17/10/13 - here

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

News - Sky Valley Mistress New Video And Augmented Reality Print

After a summer of extensive gigging up and down the UK to rave reviews, Blackburn's Sky Valley Mistress, are putting out the last single from their EP as a thank you to their fans before heading into the studio to complete album no1.

This second single taken from the bands "The Best Thing You've Never Heard" EP has been augmented onto a unique print featuring the guest stars from their mini movie that they hope will provide a unique way of promoting the bands activities. (To see what the print can do, simply download to your Android or Apple phone the Layar App and scan the print).

Download their EP here now.


Monday, 14 October 2013

Music - Part 131 - Tamikrest

Tamikrest – Chatma (Glitterbeat Records)
Out Now


Tuareg rockers, Tamikrest, release their third album as a homage to womankind.  Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates give his thoughts.

The Tuareg are nomads from the Sahara regions of Niger, Libya, Algeria and Mali, and, their wandering lifestyle has clearly given great influence to the mixed style of Tamikrest.  As with many artists from the area, their homelands are in states of complete and utter disarray and disaster, which gives way for their music to come forward. They have slowly grown their reputation throughout Europe, this year in the UK they performed alongside Bassekou Kouyate and Sidi Toure.  Aptly, ‘Tamikrest’ means ‘crossing’.

On this, their third album, they concentrate on one theme – ‘Chatma’ or ‘sisters’ – and dedicate the collection to the courage of the Tuareg women in these oppressive times.  Produced by Chris Eckman of Dirtmusic, who themselves have this year released one of the finest albums you will ever hear, Tamikrest bring you an album of quite superb quality with songs and melodies that are set to etch themselves into your mind.

Album opener, ‘Tisnant an Chatma’, features the vocals of Ousmane Ag Mossa and the amazing vocals of Wonou Walet Sidati, whose powerful haunting voice gives her an essential part to play and whose addition makes an already rising album fly high above anything else that is currently out there.

The style of Tamikrest is intriguing, with clear African styles fused with those of Hendrix and maybe even Marley, and unsurprisingly, Dirtmusic.  The rock guitar is certainly a feature and, mixed with more traditional sounds and melodies, makes for some great listening.  There’s a definite stab at reggae on ‘Itous’ which works quite successfully, and, ‘Djanegh Etoumast, clearly the album highlight, is a triumph which features Mossa together with a chorus of voices echoing the words of the lead.  The pace is frenetic and the musicianship superb.

There’s also the slightly strange with ‘Assikal’ which seems to be two tracks in one, part Pink Floyd sounding, it features spoken word which  maybe loses some of its appeal with the English speaking fraternity, but, does hold a certain atmospheric quality which keeps it engaging.  The almost ambient ‘Timtar’ closes an album of rock, blues, reggae and psychedelic influenced tracks of great quality.  One for your Amazon Wishlist.



Published on Louder Than War - here

Music - Part 130 - Einstürzende Neubauten & Perc

Einstürzende Neubauten & Perc - Stahldub Interpretations (Submit)
Out Now

The story goes that Perc was given unrivalled access to Einstürzende Neubauten and their 1981 album ‘Kollaps’, together with ‘Stahldubversions’ from 1982, to allow him to strip back the original versions and re-invent them.  This he has certainly done, but, with respect and passion (cited as one of his most influential albums), and has created something that will appeal to fans Neu and old.

Whilst maybe not a household name, Neubauten will be revered by many an electronic music fan – with open acknowledgements from Depeche Mode to Cabaret Voltaire, from Throbbing Gristle to Portion Control – they took music one step further and validated their claim that any sound can be processed (or not) and added to a composition, also unwittingly spearheading the DIY music assault.

‘Stahldub Interpretations’ sees four tracks, ‘Sado-Masodub’, ‘Rivieradub’, ‘Liebesdub’ and ‘Lünebest’ updated in fine fashion.  Neubauten purists can rest assured that the tracks have lost none of their original appeal, in fact, it could easily be said that Perc has added a completely new dimension to the tracks and brought them bang up to date.  All with the Germans’ blessing.

‘Liebesdub’ is probably the least affected track, actually very similar to the original dub version, but with the slightest of dubs added creating a post-dub sound very akin to D.E.A.D.  The treatment of ‘Sado-Masodub’ is great and the sound quality is superb.  The sheer power and aggression is not lost, in fact, if anything, it’s enhanced into something really special.

‘Rivieradub’ steams along like a locomotive preparing for its inevitable de-rail, before finally coming of the tracks with two minutes left and revealing the carnage before exploding again to the end.  An intimidating slab of musical history re-incarnated for the 21st Century in style.

Existing fans will be satisfied with the tributes, and, new fans have somewhere to begin their exploration of musical legends.  It’s a shame the collaboration will be limited to this one EP, but, good things they say, come in little packages.



Published on Louder Than War 8/10/13 - here


Friday, 11 October 2013

They Wear It Well! - Princess Chelsea

This badge wearer makes hiapop Blog very happy!  Antipodean songstress of choice, Princess Chelsea, is pictured here sporting her very own hiapop badge.

Her Royal Highness gave us one of the finest albums of 2012 with 'Lil' Golden Book' and should have her second album hitting these shores in early 2014.  Provisionally entitled 'The Great Cybernetic Depression' hiapop Blog can't wait!

'Lil Golden Book' album review
An Interview With Princess Chelsea
Princess Chelsea live review

Music - Part 129 - Gary Numans Top 10 Albums

In the wake of his new album, Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind), I was honoured recently to have the opportunity to a Q&A session with legend Gary Numan.  That article will appear here shortly, but in the meantime, he also gave me his all-time Top 10 albums.

Ultravox - Systems Of Romance

Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine

Depeche Mode - Songs Of Faith And Devotion

T-Rex - The Slider

Sisters Of Mercy - Vision Thing

Rammstein - Mutter

Marty Robbins  -Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs

Sulpher - Spray

Curve - Doppelganger

Officers - On The Twelve Thrones

Published on Louder Than War 10/10/13 here

Friday, 4 October 2013

Music - Part 128 - Afro-Beat Airways 2

Various Artists – Afro-Beat Airways 2
Out now

If only we had listened to Afrobeat in the 70s, we might have avoided the takeover of disco in the music industry, and, may not have had to endure the unbelievably overrated Daft Punk album this year. 

If only we’d listened to Ghana we could have never been subjected to the dreaded vocoder and ‘poom poom’ sounds backing that same old drumbeat again.

If only we had bothered to discover that incredible mix of funk, soul and psychedelia coming from West Africa then the nation’s youth may not have had to invent punk to destroy the crass rubbish that was invading our lives.  Oh, well maybe disco was good for something?

‘Afro-Beat Airways 2’ follows the success of the first volume four years ago and brings together rare Ghanaian tracks recorded between 1974 and 1983.  If the tracks haven’t been remastered then the superb quality of the sound is even more remarkable.  There are legendary  artists like K. Frimpong and Complex  Soundz here (do yourself a favour and look them up), and, more obscure performers like De Frank & His Professionals who give their own brand of funk and  whose ‘Waiting For My Baby’ sounds like a classic soul track that you’ve heard before.

There are definite, unsurprisingly similar sounding sounds to James Brown particularly on ‘Do Your Own Thing’ by De Frank’s Band, and, the near funky drummer loop of ‘Wope Me A Ka’ by The African Brothers.  The obvious influence of Fela Kuti is also clearly prominent.

There are hints of The Doors’ psychedelic sound throughout the collection and mixed with the funk and soul threads it makes for a truly memorable listen.  ‘I Beg’ by Tony Sarfo & The Funky Afrosibi is an instrumental that could quite easily have influenced a million twelve inch remixes, and, album opener by Uppers International, ‘Aja Wondo’, with its Islamic influence is as good as it gets.

If you’re still unfamiliar with the sounds of Africa, then this album is a perfect way to get acquainted in conjunction with the brilliant 44 page accompanying booklet.

Don’t wait too late to jump on the bandwagon, board the plane now.



Published on Louder Than War 4/01/13 - here