Tuesday 4 May 2010

Can't You See Me Running? - Fave Tunes March / April 2010

The Burning Mountain - Voice Of The Seven Thunders Eastern tinged freak-out tribal heaviness.

Hollow Trees House Hounds - Cate Le Bon Like if a witch made a glam record

Statement - Boris Wiggy wah wah wahhhhh!

Rest Of Our Lives – Dum Dum Girls If ‘Darklands’ was recorded by girls sitting on the bedroom floor

Banjo Pier – Edward’s Hand Baroque psych for when you’re wishing The Left Banke had recorded more.

Springtime Instrumental – Atlas Sound Awww, this twinkles along making me yearn for sunshine and green leaves and blue skies.

Death’s Not Your Friend (Live) – Wooden Shjips Thundering along in a groovy motorik manner.

Color Dreams – The Deep Ridiculous garage grooviness that insists you dance

What’s In It For? – Avi Buffalo Slightly deranged euphoria. Wheee!

Peter’s Trip – Electric Flag Baroque pop oriental soundtracking

Kings Civil Calendar Control – The New Lines Blissed out music box day dreamyness

The Witch – The Rattles As someone has astutely commented on Youtube – this video is pretty much the first Black Sabbath album cover come to life. Utterly fab

Saturday 1 May 2010

The Primitives, 29 April 2010 – Scala

Paul Court is still a stone cold fox! In black needle-cord jeans, wee pointy Chelsea boots and a mod-ish top, he continues to rock the 60s-tinged cool indie-boy look to perfection. Cor! How come then, all the ageing indie-blokes in the audience have gone so badly to seed? Bulging of gut and naked of scalp they lurch and wallow at the front of the audience like a hideous herd of hippopotami. They’re having a marv time, bless ‘em, so I fling myself into their midst deciding to represent the laydeez in their good-natured moshpit. Yay! The Primitives are back, and all my worries about destroying cherished pop memories dissipate as I fling myself about to the oh so familiar tunes. The set opens with a quintet of songs from the band’s bestest earlier days; ‘Everything Shining Bright’, ‘Stick With You’, ‘Dreamwalk Baby’, ‘Thru The Flowers’, ‘Way Behind Me’. It’s quite hard to be objective about songs that are so embedded in my heart, much better to just get caught up in their rush and sing along.

There’s a fizzy cover of Lee Hazlewood’s ‘Need All The Help I Can Get’ Tracy injecting the vocals with a slight note of hysteria. There are argh! two later tracks which I’ve never heard; ‘Empathise’ from the oh dear third album and ‘Summer Rain’ from the second album, about which Paul mutters something to do with codeine, I think. Not sure if he means the song ‘Codeine’ or whether it’s a good tune to listen to having imbibed codeine, or maybe it’s about taking codeine, “I don’t feel anything today”. Or maybe I totally misheard him. Hmm. We listen patiently, it’s quite nice, lilting and wistful.

The ageing indie-blokes get themselves moving during the classic singles triumvirate of ‘Stop Killing Me’ (singing along, squished in the scrum, I mean this fairly literally), ‘Really Stupid’ and ‘Crash’. I’m shoved sprawling onto the rather low stage for the billionth time (gathering impressive bruises on my legs as I go) and when I look up Tracy is smiling at me. I am blessed by her golden blondeness! Like Paul, she seems to have barely aged at all and is managing to carry off a slightly eccentric outfit (including blue tutu, sparkly fishnets and red suede platforms) with popstar aplomb. This is because she is a star, hanging off the mic stand, tripping about the stage, bashing a tambourine, dragging the eyes of the indie-blokes after her like a cute, sparkly tractor beam.

Tig is still there drumming at the back, being the drummer and that. And over on the right is a bass player who isn’t Steve (sorry bass man). This is kind of the reason we’re all here, Steve’s death last year prompted the remaining Prims to get together in his memory and test out being a band again. It seems to be working pretty well. Sweetly, they dedicate the swoonily heart-melting ‘(We've) Found A Way (To The Sun)’ to Steve. It ends in a gently fuzzy haze, as Paul turns his guitar on his amp for a spot of feedback. Perfection.

ETHER 10: Broadcast / Oliver Coates and Anna Meredith, 21 April 2010 – Queen Elizabeth Hall

Oliver Coates is an Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre in London. His biog reads ‘Olly loves to play all kinds of classical music alongside new experimental forms’. It’s the latter we’re getting – and how! – tonight. He scrapes and plucks and wallops his cello, playing single bowed notes and sampling them, building up minimalist rhythms that ebb and flow but never do anything as crass as create a tune. He is joined by composer Anna Meredith, who mainly seems to sit immobile, occasionally encouraging a laptop to spew out odd sampled soundscapes. It’s a rum do. Made rummer for the last few songs by the addition of some ‘live drawing’ which can be seen projected onto the screen at the back of the stage. It’s basically someone fannying about in Paintshop Pro doing stupid scribbles, I’m not sure if it enhances the listening experience or just increases one’s suspicion that this is a big artwank joke. Especially when photos of horses get pasted onto the drawing and then squiggly laser beams are drawn coming out of their eyes. Lordy!

During the interval (it’s the kind of gig where the bit when you go to the bar between bands gets called an interval) Broadcast come on and set up. I’m disappointed to see Trish Keenan is wearing old jeans and a shapeless top – wither the groovy esoteric 60s garb? S’okay though, when they take to the stage properly, Trish has on a white a-line frock with big bell-shaped sleeves, decorated with a witchy looking black pendant, long black hair centre-parted. She looks like a member of a cult, or maybe a coven. Cool.

Broadcast are now just Trish and James Cargill (going for the hip professor look in a patterned jumper) and as the first section of tonight’s set begins, an improvised soundtrack to Julian House’s film ‘Winter Sun Wavelengths’, I think about the first time I saw them play, circa ‘The Book Lovers’, when they just seemed like a pleasant but unremarkable Stereolab-ish indie band. It’s been an odd but pleasurable journey from that gig at the Garage to tonight’s refined atmosphere at the QEH. Curiouser and curiouser in fact.

Last year’s collaboration with The Focus Group (featuring…Julian House!) ‘Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age’ was probably my favourite record of 2009, so I am eagerly anticipating a lot of experimental electronic oddness, with hopefully a hint of spooky. This is precisely what we get for ‘Winter Sun Wavelengths’, the duo face each other from behind tables full of electronic gear, twiddle knobs, glance frequently at the film playing behind them and create an unnerving aural spookscape punctuated by Trish’s unearthly keening and wailing. The film looks like it’s been excavated from the attic of a condemned haunted house – probably once used by Trish’s cult-coven. It flickers in black and white hinting at esoteric practices and pagan rituals with eye-blink images of wintery trees and icy December solar flares.

Broadcast experiment with hauntology, music concrete and Radiophonic sounds and in doing so capture that very English take on the occult described by Arthur Machen - an ancient creepiness felt deep in your bones. This they meld with a nice line in retro-futurism, from their clothes, to the analogue equipment, to the science experiment / public service film imagery of the projections.

The next section of the set is entitled ‘Songform And Story’ and includes recognisable Broadcast songs, a juddery ‘Black Cat’ is as funky as things get, electro yet spectral. For ‘The Be Colony’ Trish’s vocals are heavily reverbed, the song scratchy, eerily echoey, it’s two halves, music and voice, only just creating a cohesive whole.

‘In Here The World Begins' sees Trish take centre stage and rhythmically creep towards us and back with the visuals bathing her in dancing coloured light. Her shadowed silhouette on the backdrop grows and diminishes as she dances back and forth. It is a ritualistic performance, spellbinding and slightly sinister.

The words ‘Dream / Ritual’ appear on screen heralding the final film / section of the set and appropriately we get ‘A Seancing Song’, the lyrics intoned in Trish’s ‘Listen With Mother’ voice. The final song sees Trish playing a dulcimer strumstick thingy conjuring an insistent, hypnotic undertow, pulling us under, completing our initiation.