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Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Perfume Genius - No Shape (Matador Records)
LP / CD /DL
Review by Amy.
Matador are synonymous with interesting music - a quick look through their roster (past and present) quickly reveals their love of any band/artist that is 'different' musically, and that challenge perceptions of how things 'should' sound as well as the structural forms that songs should take - they don't subscribe to the norm and Perfume Genius is a prime example of this. 'No Shape' is the follow up to 2014's successful 'Too Bright', and in a way the title is almost a summation of the music on this album, and by that I mean, Mike doesn't just stick to one formula or genre - this is by far a much more adventurous release than its predecessors.
Overall, 'No Shape' is an ornate, sensual and honest affair, there are nods to Rufus Wainwright, Queen, Kate Bush and even contemporaries Tegan and Sara on occasion. There is a fragility to Hadreas' voice that is only emboldened by the to and fro of sparse minimalist instrumentation one minute to the decadent luxurious arrangements the next. This is Chamber Pop at its best, never too extravagant, never too sparse - the balance here is almost perfection. Things don't get too complicated or overbearing, instead Mike uses atmosphere and texture to get his point across, don't get me wrong - this is an emotionally challenging album. Perfume Genius could've quite easily built on 'Too Bright' and delivered an even more saccharine collection of songs that would've probably gained him more commercial success, however, 'No Shape' delivers a left-hook that smacks you straight between the eyes with tenderness and purity.
Standout tracks are 'Wreath', 'Sides' and 'Braid', the former is a dark almost tragic sounding track than the rest, 'Sides' glamorously stomps in and also features Weyes Blood whose vocals really do compliment Hadreas', 'Braid' will then cover you head to toe in goose bumps. The final track 'Alan' is a majestic tribute to Mike's partner and is a perfect denouement.
For me 'Wreath' is where the album really begins to take shape (no pun intended), each track builds on the other to delicately punch you in the gut while ripping your heart out placing it on a velvet cushion while you gratefully thank him for taking it from you.
This album will leave you feeling like you've added 'something' to yourself, it's certainly an album that requests you spend time with it so you can fully digest all the intricacies. To sum up, this is a devastatingly beautiful, and stunning body of work.
Monday, 29 May 2017
We Are Quasars - Resistance
CD / DL
8 / 10
With the departure of vocalist Annette Millican, We Are Quasars could quite easily have called it a day. Her voice, whilst unusual, possessed a beautiful almost angelic quality that paired with the almost prog-Indie musicianship almost perfectly. But then, step forward Amy Tweddle, the lyricist and writer of previous EPs The Cities Lost Beneath Us and In The Shadows Of Mountains, to take over the singing duties. She’s nailed it and We Are Quasars sound like a new group with an added ferociousness.
With Liz Keating (drums) and Laura Ferguson (bass) they are revitalised, out of the ashes almost and fighting to surge forward. Resistance is their debut long player, ten tracks of betrayal, dissatisfaction and acceptance. It kicks against the pricks and it kicks ass in the same way that Deux Furieuses did on Tracks Of Wire, and it has an edge that they perhaps bypassed on earlier releases.
Opener, Post-Wave has echoes of Elastica and is a striking introduction to the revitalised band. It’s melodic and incisive and Tweddle’s vocals shine in honesty and frankness. The trio make a racket too, loud and proud, fighting against each other yet working as a close knit unit that clearly has longevity.
G.T.T.F. has anthemic qualities and will be a true call to arms at live performances for sure. There are hints of Pixies tucked away too (Bullet) and early Blondie circa X Offender and Rip Her To Shreds which are compliments indeed, and the integrity of We Are Quasars is fully assured. The album isn’t perfect, the mix is sometimes little lacking, but somehow it is that minor imperfections that adds to the general feel and vibe.
“Where are the protests” calls War, one of many references to the state and direction of today’s world. Politics, rhetoric and ‘resistance’ is what this album is all about. It is a reflection on current events and affairs as much as it is about sexism and undoubted inequality in music today. Bravo to We Are Quasars for making a stand, and equally as important making an album that will stand the test of time.
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Friday, 26 May 2017
Thursday, 25 May 2017
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Ifriqiyya Electrique – Rûwâhîne (Glitterbeat Records)
LP / CD / DL
26 May 2017
10 / 10
One of the first ‘rules’ I was told to observe about reviewing music was never to write in the first person. I’ve broken that rule once, a review of an album by The Fall which was the first time I’d listened to one of their long-players, and I’m breaking it again. I’m breaking it because this album has been an eye-opener, a journey into a sound that I’ve never heard before and even now, after many (and I mean many) listens, it is one of the most incredible albums I’ve listened to in recent years.
There have been few that have made the immediate impact that Rûwâhîne has made – Torment & Toreros (Marc And The Mambas), Furious Angels (Rob Dougan) and more recently, Tracks Of Wire(deux furieuses) – hitting me like a ballistic missile between my bulging eyes. It is described as music of adorcism – the method of placating and accommodating evil spirits in possessed beings rather than exorcism - and it’s easy to see why.
Rûwâhîne is a curious but incredible mix of desert rock, of multiple percussion, of chanting, hip-hop and hints of Nine Inch Nails. Intrigued? You should be, and enough to track this album down and play it. Admittedly, it may not appeal to the soft pop fans and the ones who want to experience something safe, but to those of you who want something to shake the bones and kick you in the proverbial bollocks then this is the one.
Growing up I ‘ve always loved the Burundi beat, first of all with Gary Glitter and the Glitter Band, then Adam And The Ants and whoever have insisted that one percussionist just isn’t enough, and with Ifriqiyya Electrique it clearly isn’t. At times, their sound is like the soundtrack from hell as guitar, bass and electronics combine and break all the rules. This is music that has been known to possess, making people leap uncontrollably into the air transfixed and dancing like their body has lost complete control.
When all seems to settling into place, a hip-hop ‘record scratch’ appears in the background, piano chords bounce unsettlingly and bass guitar thud with those incredible voices. Listen to Annabi Mohammad- Laa La Illa Allah – Deg El Bendir and tell me you aren’t affected in some way. Raw, gnarling guitars from the school of Trent Reznor screech and leave indelible marks.
Rûwâhîne is no ordinary album. In fact, the word ‘extraordinary’ doesn’t even do it justice. Rûwâhîne is one of the most amazing pieces of work you will ever witness, maybe never heard before and never to be heard again. An album catching a feeling, an emotion, a moment in a lifetime. Improvisation between tradition and technology. Quite literally blood, sweat and tears.
Published on Louder Than War 17/05/17 - here
Sunday, 21 May 2017
Saturday, 20 May 2017
David R Edwards - Dave Datblygu's Search In English For the House Of Tolerance (Recordiau Prin)
8.5 / 10
Book reviews are few and far between on these (web) pages and something that is to be rectified forthwith. David R Edwards, frontman of seminal Welsh band Datblygu (often referred to as a Welsh version of The Fall) has put together a bit of a gem with this collection of thirty-five poems.
It's not airy fairy, flowers and bunnies either. It's real moments and recollections of love, lust and heartbreak, amongst other things, that many of us can relate to, and will also contain pieces that we can't. It will shock and it will make you smile, in fact it will often make you laugh with it's incredible dark humour and honesty.
Accompanied by a cd (with backing music and sounds from Pulco) recited into a Dictaphone in his kitchen, Edwards slowly presents pieces of everydayness and heart-pouring frankness.
His poetry consists of observations sometimes sweary and sometime slurred, and always in that thick accent that adds a prevailing sense of human to the proceedings. You can almost imagine sitting at table with him as he appears thriough thick cigarette smoke whilst caressing a glass of Rocha and offloading his life to you.
It's wonderful stuff. It willl take you on highs and lows, and expel any hidden feelings tnat you may have. It is life, and life is sometimes shitty, but with expressionism like that of David R Edwards, it makes it seem a little better.
Had the right attitude
He'd set them on fire
In petroleum and flames.
Sits in the corner
Like the dunce I was
When I learnt how to play it.
Some people I know
Have a vast guitar collection -
And all that baloney.
The only thing worse
Are those fucking pianos