Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My album of the year is Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland's 'Black Is Beautiful'

And I wrote about it for Dummy at the beginning of December as they counted down their top 10 albums of the year.

“Is it any good?” a friend asked, after I’d declared Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland’s Black Is Beautiful my album of 2012.

What a question. Surely it’s the motivation for these annual countdowns, as we collectively ask: is it any good? Can you quantify its goodness relative to the rest of the year’s musical product? Is it an album you can’t stop playing? Was it the soundtrack to your summer?

“It’s…” I struggled for the word. “It’s not good, exactly. I mean, I don’t really want to listen to it that often.” A sceptical face looks back at me. Try again. “It’s just… it, isn’t it? It’s not just the album of 2012 – it is 2012.”

When I first heard Hype Williams (the duo’s previous and apparently interchangeable name) near the end of 2010, something about their woozy conveyor belt of crusty-edged samples, squeezed, stretched loops and cassette-like fidelity transported me back to being a car-sick child, listening to my dad’s worn-out tapes on the way to the airport at dawn.

Tracks like 'Blue Dream' and 'The Throning' triggered a queasiness that I’ve never quite shaken off – all that lethargic, narcotic, pitch-shifting infinite loopiness burrowed into my brain and made me listen over and over, unsure of whether I actually liked what I was hearing, but convinced it was worth enduring.

Continue reading...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Carter Tutti Void interview: "We did two run-throughs and said, right – let's take it to the Roundhouse"

First published in Loud And Quiet

For a simple rock and roll gig to attain legendary status, it must induce an element of fiction in its retelling. The people must whisper and proclaim and brag about it as though it wasn't quite real; a strange blip on the space-time continuum that allowed a thousand fans to squeeze into a room made for a hundred. Legends, by definition, tend to skirt the supernatural.

They also, by definition, belong to a previous era. The Sex Pistols at Manchester's Free Trade Hall, Public Enemy at Hammersmith Odeon, Throbbing Gristle's Prostitution Show at the ICA – take the venue's capacity and double it, and that's the number of fans who'll tell you, “I was there.” But the show that sowed the seed for this interview? Well, that was no simple rock and roll gig – and these are no ordinary legends.

And talking of Throbbing Gristle, those perverse pioneers of avant-garde noise and the shape-shifting genre we still call 'industrial', it's one half of that now defunct operation who sit before me today, forming two-thirds of a pan-generational supergroup which, following their single one hour show in May 2011, is also effectively defunct.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

PUMMELLED IN THE FACE: Naomi Punk crawl out of US rock's dirty underbelly

First published in Loud And Quiet

Naomi Punk
The Feeling
Captured Tracks

There is a great and mighty school of American music that posits that the best way to communicate your latest gosh darn fine pop song to your listeners is to PUMMEL THEM IN THE FACE with it over and over, taking up rust-ridden serrated guitars and crash cymbals to slice straight through their brains leaving nothing but mutilated chunks of cortex and gristle pulsating out of time on the kerb.

Well, the fine debut by Naomi Punk (who naturally hail from Olympia, Washington, spiritual home of riot grrrl and grunge) emerges from this very school, combining grubby lo-fi melodies with introspective slowcore darkness to excellent effect, even touching on that great unspoken canon of American rock genius stretching from Mars to Butthole Surfers to Royal Trux. Released on Couple Skate Records in the U.S. this spring, The Feeling well deserves its repress and international release.

A heart still beating: Ex-Throbbing Gristle members rework Nico's Desertshore

First published in Loud And Quiet

Chris Carter, Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson and Cosey Fanni Tutti (X-TG)
Desertshore/The Final Report
Industrial Records Ltd

At the time of Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson's unexpected death in 2010, the former Throbbing Gristle member had been arranging this reworking of Nico's Desertshore, a record so profoundly desolate it's impossible to believe it arrived in the same year as The Partridge Family.

Determined to complete the album in tribute to their departed bandmate, TG's Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti called in Marc Almond, Blixa Bargeld, Antony Hegarty, ex-porn star Sasha Grey and filmmaker Gaspar Noé to contribute voices in three languages to their own abrasive, mesmerising interpretations of Nico's monochrome classic, proudly showcasing both her lyrical gift and their own tact in handling the source material.

Then comes another eulogy, this time from the remaining TG members to their missing friend, constructed from their final sessions together. As if afraid of trivialising the preceding 50 minutes by lightening the tone, The Final Report is a Hadean landscape of lava and molten metal, obstinate and uncompromising, grainy and dark – with a still-beating heart.

A new French wave: Melody's Echo Chamber

First published in Loud And Quiet

Melody's Echo Chamber
Melody's Echo Chamber
Weird World
Out 5th November

As a classically trained multi-instrumentalist and singer from Paris, it's no huge surprise to hear shades of Stereolab's Lætitia Sadier all over Melody Prochet's accomplished debut record of delicate psychedelia, intricate melodies and all manner of fuzzy and frazzled twists and turns. Opening track and recent single 'I Follow You' sets the tone for an album of clever pop that never sounds like it's trying to be clever – close attention has been paid to knitting textures and tones together so you barely hear the joins, as softly distorted low-end sounds melt into buzzing guitars, twinkly synth echoes and Prochet's own husky and inviting voice.

Bringing in Tame Impala's Kevin Parker as producer was a wise move, adding some well-placed dirt and grime and plenty of chunky bass and beats to Melody's feminine sweetness. 'Mount Hopeless' introduces scuffed up breakbeat drums under a gorgeous duet of voices and winding guitar, while 'Crystallized' is a breezy motorik groove that owes a heavy debt to Broadcast, a band Prochet must be familiar with. 'Some Time Alone, Alone' has another sneakily addictive melody buried under wall of sound drums and twangy guitar, but its gentle strangeness prevents it from sounding like sickly retromania. An accomplished debut and a deeply satisfying listen, if collages of bleached out hypno-melodicism are your jam.