one faint deluded smile

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Few Recent Things

The Loop Orchestra - Suspense : Their 1st release - LP only - with a lovely cover by Anthony Mannix overlayed with pressed metal 'goosebumps'. The 1st side is easily their most frightening / disturbing piece, and that's saying something!

Martha Waingwright - s/t : purchased from Karmadownloads for $9US so there's no reason for you to not go and buy it, is there? She's a fairly standard singer/songwriter and her parents genes can be found in both her singing style and writing but it certainly has some great moments although it's not as coherent as I'd have liked.

Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine : this 2003 recording remains unreleased due to record company ennui and it's a real shame because it's easily her best suite of material. There's less of the bluesy intonations that have bored me in her previous releases and more avant leanings in the songs and arrangements (which is, I suppose, why Sony doesn't know what to do with it but it could just as easily be positioned in the same area as Tom Waits : slightly weird singer / songwriter).

Toychestra and Fred Frith - Big Toys : A surprisingly short little album which says all it needs to say and then gets outta town. Frith is, as always, an excellent contributor, fitting in perfectly with the squeeks and tinkles from the rest of the band.

Pere Ubu - Fontana B-Sides : Scrapping the bottom of the barrell comes to mind immediately.

The Reels - Neighbours : The last album from a very under-rated electro-pop band. By this time (1988) they'd become so completely ironic (and hated themselves so much to boot) that there was no place left for them to go except up their own arses. It's all cover versions of iconic Australian pop songs that have been done in the styles of other genres so the intention is to laugh at them archly. It never quite works as intended. Instead just find their version of Creedence Cleerwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" where a good song has been mutated into something sublime.

Saint Etienne - Travel Edition : Ya know, I think you really had to be in London in the early 90s to actually appreciate this band. Dull, slightly dopey, cod-orchestral pop.

Bob Drake - Little Black Train / The Shunned Country : LBT is a fantastic slice of hard progressive rock musicianship tempered by a playfull waywardness. TSC continues his love of Gothic horror tales but with 52 sub-minute length pieces it's frantic pace wears thin.

Friday, March 25, 2005

He Used To Wear Fedoras

casablanca moon

I can’t remember the exact moment when I first heard Slapp Happy, although I do know that it was during my last years of high school. That instant when ‘Casablanca Moon’ started up hasn’t burnt itself indelibly into my memory like the time I found Can’s “Ege Bamyasi” in the local record store (it’s incandescent still). But, if I close my eyes and start thinking of that lead-in violin phrase, the whole stream of the song comes back to me as offbeat and enticing as it always has been.

Read my other page on them to get the full story (sort of). Suffice it to say that the combination of Dagmar's voice with the peculiar tunes of Blegvad and Moore still manage to make my heart race and my head lift off it's moorings. Unfortunately, lots of people just don't get it at all or, worse still, are put off by thinking that Daggie is going to sing with the same stridency she used in her later Henry Cow work. But I just keep bringing them up to whomever I meet to see how they fare - those that enjoy them have always become close friends.

mp3: Jumpin' Jonah

This is a bonus track on the recent CD re-issue of their 1st album "Sort Of". Backed by Faust (the drum sound! the synth sound!) and with a chugging boogie style fuzzed up guitar, it's hardly like anything else on the album but it's great fun none-the-less.

mp3: The Drum

From the 1st version of their second album, once again recorded in Wumme with members of Faust and finally released as "Acnalbasac Noom" by ReR in the early 80s. I think this recording is almost perfect - more 70s rock guitar and a swaying backbeat with Dagmar almost above it all.

mp3: A Little Something

The best love song ever written from the 2nd version of their 2nd album, released by Virgin in the mid 70s. The anonymous session musos on this track suit the style impeccably and the combination of jews harp and violin solo at the end is simply magical.

mp3: In The SickBay

The only song Dagmar wrote for the band! It's children's memories, minor key piano and subtle horn arrangements match the rest of "Desperate Straights" to a T. [In fact, did Dagmar ever write too much by herself? In the HC and AB stuff, melodies and lyrics were always composed by someone else and I think that's true for the post AB recordings too. Then she did the Kurt Weil interpretations. Her last album, with Marie Goyette, - 'A Scientific Dream...' is probably the only example of her own work. If so it's a shame because Sickbay is truely lovely.

mp3: War

The lead in track to "In Praise Of Learning" and, really, the only Slapp Happy thing about this Henry Cow album. Dagmar's voice has trilled R's and a gutteral tone she hadn't used before but would continue to use for the rest of her stay in HC and the Art Bears. The 1st band I was in tried to perform this song but it turned out a rabid mess - that time signature was beyond us completely.

Go to ReR Megacorp for most of your Slapp Happy needs (Acnalbasac, remastered Desp. Str) and Voiceprint for 'Sort Of', not sure if the Virgin 2-for-1 is still available.

Some Kind Of Country Life

Those 2 Girls

“So here it comes, that old ennui. I hope it won’t stay long”

How true Bryan. How very true

[…and thanks to Alex for spurring me on]

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Too Much Thinking

I've given up on the "artist grand overview" style for the time being as it's boring me useless.

curiosities II

So here's the best track from Eno's latest cd "Curiosities Volume II":

mp3: Native Tambourine

This is the 2nd compilation of discarded, unwanted or uncompleted tracks that his studio technician, Marlon Weyemeth, has put together. The inner text of this one lists approximately another 150 that could be treated as 'future curiosities', god help us. You have to come at these with low expectations as Mr E has already put them on some sort of back-burner for whatever reason. And, for the most part, they are peculularly minor efforts that can still hold the interest of the afficianado at least.

This track starts off with the titled tamburine and a pulsing bass and eventually an unexepected guitar chord crashes in. It gets ruined a bit by some slightly annoying synthesised vocals (this sound will always remind me of Cher) but then goes into a fantastic, simple 2-3 chord organ rhythm and more of that great guitar.

If his next 'proper' album has anything of this intensity then I, for one, will be well pleased.

All of Eno's recent albums, including this one and the more successfull Volume I, are available at EnoShop.