just a crack
at the song they never played,
between the drunk eyes
that groan around the stage,
affronted but happy to gaze,
the clasp shuts,
they left you,
a sapped sad sullen entity.
Was the video made for the song? Or was it the song that was putting words to a short film?
Ever feel adventurous enough to turn on the radio? DAB of course. Maybe scan through the channels now they’ve done away with the satisfying “CLUNK” as you depress the oversized button on the front of the 90’s hi-fi complete with turntable.
I often find myself hopeful that perhaps a choice song might blister my ears with newness but often it’s the sound of a radio DJ who enjoys the sound of his own voice too much.
"Get on with the music. DO IT DOIT!", I find myself shouting indignantly as if it helps.
One hungover saturday morning I heard a wee gem sparkling in-between the drone of the prattle. It was alt-J with “Breezeblocks”. On the end of a hook is where I found my thumping hangover delicately positioned. And everyone knows that the only way to take a hook out is to push it all the way through the flesh to avoid tearing with the barb.
New tab. Youtube. Jaw drop.
Quietly is how you watch this new dynamic play out in front of you. The opening shot claims a questioning look from your face as you try to figure out which garden path it is pointing to. As the first few seconds roll the shock realisation runs up and slaps you on the forehead beckoning you to hit stop. But it’s too late. You’ve already lost track of the bread crumbs.
Unwittingly the snare takes hold of your pulse and you develop a slight arrhythmia. Assaulting your senses with a gentle melody that might carry you off to another plane contrasted by such intense scenes of violence you find yourself gripped and comforting yourself quietly in disbelief. Then comes the climatical crescendo. And the protagonist?
By this point the lyrics are emphasising over and over and over and over again the desperation and panic that you have been drawn into.It takes a few minutes for you to realise that the music and pictures have stopped as everything you’ve just witness seeps in.
"But why…? And who…..? There was was definitely….?"
the album is out on 28th may and i would assume this is the lead single off it but not sure.
Truck Store do in stores fairly regularly which is nice, I guess their being the most central most independent record store in Oxford accounts for the regularity with which they have nice little in stores. Today I went to one, which was Dan Mangan. The lead man Dan who sort of reminds me of what Seth Rogan would be like were he a singer is as you’d imagine from that description an affable fuzz faced / voiced American man who laces his conversation with light inoffensive swears. He quickly got the crowd on side. It seemed kind of strange to me that the band is called Dan Mangan as they played, well, like a band, weaving stamping into the drum patterns and harmonizing not only between the lead singer and the guitarist but with interesting trumpet parts that sounded more like a muffled human voice than a trumpet.
I suppose Dan Mangan are called Dan Mangan because our man dan writes all of the lyrics perhaps he even comes up with all of the chord sequences but personally for me myself the great thing about Dan Mangan was the way it was presented as an ensemble piece, they were how you say, “tight”.
Dan Mangan is playing Jericho Tavern about now and you can definitely buy some of his albums from Truck because we stood in front of them as he sang.
‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ starts with a twinkle of a nostalgic lap harp. Like the closing credits to an old stop motion children’s television programme we enter a place of finality; a darkened, lo-fi soundtrack to thoughtful melancholy. Willis Earl Beal outwardly approaches self-deprication, tedium and hopefulness in a simple but enduring form with much success over the album.
Beal has achieved a lovely tone of intimacy within his music and the crackled and distorted vocals and instruments add to this idea. Nostalgia nicely hides the lyrical grit of a man exploring his confused relationship with the world and the people around him. I like albums with a false sense of security sewn in, and this meanders enough to paint sepia toned images with sinister subtexts.
The album comes in a well packaged paper dvd case complete with a 30 page booklet of stories and semi pornographic pencil drawings done by the musician himself. The phrase ‘Outsider Art’ comes to mind and I like it.
Acousmatic Sorcery is a flawed gem with a lot to offer, and an Artist with exciting levels of places to go for a follow up.
There are some tracks that mysteriously entertain and weave throughout your personal life like people. They turn up at strange points, expecting feeding and putting up for the night. They want to talk about ‘old times’ and how there was that funny time once where we all laughed together. These tracks you can fall out of sync with, they will stand next to you and feel strange however familiar they sound. Yet you always know they will be there, at some point, at some strange jolt of your memory, or smell, or touch, just lurking with intent. They will envelope your senses once again, bring back that cold October sunrise or that time where we all laughed together.
What better way to enjoy an Oxonian Saturday night than slipping into a small, backstreet art gallery to cosy up with some of England’s rising electro acts? As a venue, Modern Art Oxford presents some interesting opportunities for live performances to expand further into the visual space, something I hoped the electronica-based artists to capitalise on. You see, the thing lacking in most of these performances is that visceral, visual hook that’s common in many scrappy, up-coming basement bands. One could argue they don’t need it, but the projected films and colourscapes surrounding the stage certainly felt like a valuable engagement of the senses. That, combined with an impromptu wine, fruit and cheese platter, and you’ve got yourself a definite artsy vibe flowing.
The first act, Title Sequence, played a decent set of broody atmosphere pieces (which worked stunningly well with all the visuals) interspersed with pop-tinged tunes to try and shake the dream-like reverie creeping up on the audience. The duo set up with a reel-to-reel centre stage; this kitsch approach to the issue of pre-recorded material worked in places, but ultimately sapped all the life out of the drum looped attempts at pop. It wasn’t bad music, but there wasn’t much to reinforce the intended upswing in dynamics. In places, I was just watching two static guys listening to a loop, something that killed it for me; it all suddenly seemed quite surreal. The band’s strengths certainly lie with their ability to get a rolling ambient wash of sound, brilliantly exemplified by ‘Jigsaw Days’ and their blissful cover of Aphex Twin’s ‘Ablerto Basalm’. The highlight of the set was the closing piece, in which the reel-to-reel drummer instead played a steadily increasing cacophony of sound over a fantastic washout of looped guitars and synth harmony. This, I think, showed that the energy they were trying to inject can indeed come from this spinning, hypnotic motion-machine of noise, though perhaps not in a traditional drumbeat as expected.
The second act, Severin, provided a complete and quite unexpected contrast. The London-based duo’s dark, loop-driven industrial music abstracts out their sampled drums to overdriven bass thumps and static bursts of snare. They abstract out the guitarist’s energetic antics to bit-crushed synthesized noise and wash it all in searing lead sequences. The accompanying gallery visuals switched from the previous dreamy ambience to jagged bright colour bursts and strobe lighting throughout. It seems like the intent was one of complete sensory saturation, though with a decidedly bleak and evil twist. Against this distorted, inorganic backdrop, the vocals sound strangely flat and uncaptivating for the most part. As rare as it may be, watching someone head-bang whilst slowly twisting a dial isn’t nearly as theatrical as this kind of sonic assault calls for; any moment where the human element of playing came through seemed distracting to their cyber industrial vibe. Even so, the pair sent waves of direct, heavy electro noise pouring out of the speakers and delivered a powerful set. I can’t help wonder where they’d go in a bigger setting, and whether treating the simple vocal melodies as yet another wave generator to be digitally abused could push their sound further.
Mr Fogg, back with a new album ‘Eleven’, ended this intimate evening with easily the strongest set. Track after brilliantly executed track of deliberate, fragile music and confident hooks sent the atmosphere skyward. Even as a 1-man show, Fogg effectively unwraps and rebuilds his pop-electro packages in full view, energetically firing off samples and pressing lush chords into careful structures as he physically loses himself in his soaring vocals. Seeing live electronica performed so passionately and deftly makes it easy to see the transformative connection formed between artist and audience. Mr Fogg isn’t just making music for the crowd, but isn’t self-indulgent either; he seems genuinely intent on sharing the creation of an atmosphere with his listeners, and it works. If anything, because it’s so comfortable, there is an element of all-too-optimistic safety to his work; he rarely pushes or challenges the listener except in some of the more delicate phrases. This isn’t at all a bad thing, and it gives the set a cohesion and intimacy somewhat missing from the support acts. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting set of artists performing in a unique space made this a very memorable show, and I certainly hope Modern Art Oxford hosts events like this again.
You can check out all the artists mentioned here by following these links:
TITLE SEQUENCE / SEVERIN / MR FOGG
MAO also hosts Martin Creed and his Band (18/5/12) and a performance from Janek Schaefer (5/5/12). Martin Creed is highly recommended. He is great. more information on both performances and other delectable artistic events on the MAO website here
Cat Matador- a peculiar name for a band with a peculiarly unclassifiable sound. Oxford music felines were faced with their presence at the humble setting of the Port Mahon on Friday night; and what ensued was a humble performance from a group of talented yet courteous musicians.
When watching live music, I feel a fitting question to ask is to what place beyond the venue does this music transport us too? For myself, one of the most intimate music listening opportunities I encounter is the Oxford Tube journey from London back to our quaint city; and Cat Matador’s gentle, contemplative sound fits the bill.
The honest vocals (at times, of all the band members) weaved wonderfully with the controlled yet calculated guitar pieces- whose eerie echoes had a melodic vocal quality of their own. Whilst it could be questioned how much the violin added to the occasion, the addition of the anomalous instrument did no harm, and encouraged the gentle ride minds were taken on. The exciting percussion stirred that sense of melancholic progression and escape often faced on the journey away from the big smoke and into the open arms of the Oxfordshire countryside.
What was summoned was a wistful atmosphere; and judging by the audiences’ chin stroking and distance-gazing, suggested the emotional fog that lingered that evening shrouded us all.
A winning formula; a gig that didn’t leave jaws-dropped, but rather the brains ticking; a task I hope the band set out to fulfil in future live performances.
Cat matador also play the Jericho Tavern on the 27th of this month (that’s tomorrow) along with Deer Chicago & The Old Grinding Young. DJ Daisy will also be playing between the bands…tickets HERE
Quentin Dupieux aka. Mr Oizo’s 5th full length release, Stade 3, was released free
today. If you want Flat Eric and his Flat Beat, forget it. This is a slice of the classic Oizo,
unhinged and at times verging on derranged, you won’t find many solid beats,
melodies or big chords in this one. With the incessant electronic ramblings of
Lambs Anger crossed with the solid funk of Analog Worms Attack, Oizo fans won’t be alienated or disappointed.
It’s most definitely not for everyone, but when you wrentch yourself back from work for the enth time, you’re bored of your office job, the groundhog day, your own face and
reality as a whole - just stick on Stade 3 and push sanity aside for a while, it works.
Stade 3 is avalible (as Ali said) as a free download from here (just watch out for the website…eugh)
Alabama Shakes are a band from, shockingly; Alabama, they were once simply known as The Shakes, but in order to distinguish themselves, from the blow load of other bands by that name, they prefixed themselves with their location, crazy. Listen to the track Hold Me and you’ll see why they are “one of the most hyped bands of 2012” listen past the first 4 tracks and you’ll see how little people who talk about music in terms of hype listen to the music they talk about, coz boy oh boy that shit tapers off. Despite that, I’d imagine they are a really fantastic live band, its real Rhythm & Blues in the early Fleetwood Mac (pre- Stevie) sense.