Sunday, 14 May 2017

Paul Rooney - Futile Exorcise (Owd Scrat)

I'm not terribly adept at unqualified outlandish statements of praise so forgive me if this sounds clumsy: this is the most extraordinary album I've heard in at least seven years, and probably for much longer than that.  It's hard, and perhaps impossible, to compare the face-set-to-stunned reaction to Gonajasufi's 'A Sufi and A Killer' back in 2010 with this, which provokes a similarly stunned response but, inevitably, for very different reasons. 

I've long been an admirer of Paul Rooney's work.  He can already make a very good claim to have released the best track of the current century with the magnificent 'Lucy Over Lancashire' and, ten years on, Lucy's enigmatic, bewitching presence lives again in this collection.

It's especially true of the album's centrepiece, 'Lost High Street', which you can hear in my Dandelion Radio show this month.  If anything comes close to matching it in 2017, then the year is going to be a memorable one indeed.  Taking its cue from Lucy's sprawling monologue, the track leaves behind the witch road and old Lancashire to relocate in an urban setting that, in Rooney's hands, becomes every bit as weirdly compelling

Yet it's only one of the elements that make 'Futile Exorcise' so special.  The track's template of spoken word, ear-pleasing deviations and quirky soundscapes crop up again and again across the rest of this collection, to brilliant effect.  Opener 'Sunday Best' sees the narrator's ghost returning to witness the troubling scene of his wife with her new husband who - horror of horrors - is wearing his best suit.  The kid that joins the clutter of voices that rips apart the maudlin possibilities of 'Father's Grave's is that of just one of the many characters whose perspectives add so many layers to the album you can find yourself following an entirely different narrative line each time you listen, to deeply intoxicating effect.

It's asking to be accused of talking bollocks when you describe somebody as an 'artist in sound' but that is precisely what Paul Rooney is.  That his work knocks everybody else to whom the words might be applied into a cocked hat goes without saying, at least for me and, I know, several of my Dandelion Radio colleagues.  It's a work to be absorbed, laughed at, unsettled by but, above all, enjoyed over and over again.

Get it here  on CD or beautifully transparent vinyl. If you're unfamiliar with Rooney's work, find out more here: you're in for a treat.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

La colonie de Vacances - s/t (Kythibong)

Sometimes the music doesn't match up to the concept but, when it does, it's just about the most wonderful thing in the world.  That's what makes this release from La colonie de Vacances not just a great listen but an essential purchase.

This 10" EP comes from our favourite label - the always excellent Kythibong - and the whole package sounds irresistible from the off.  LCDV consists of members of four bands who, when together, perform on four separate stages, with the audience central.  Four illustrators have joined them to produce a release whose accompanying 100-page book has to be spun while the vinyl , in its turn, can be read over and over.

You'll get the idea if you grab yourself a copy - and you should because, most importantly, the musical content still manages to be the most enticing thing about the whole release.  LCDV dish out four slaps of guitar-led brilliance that are by turns bewitching and crushingly forceful.  It's like having multiple ideas forced into your head via a lightning rod shoved in your ear.   That there are only four tracks here feels incredible given the range of ideas explored in such a short space of time (under 16 minutes).

I'm playing the second track from this enticing release in my Dandelion Radio show this month.   Meanwhile, you can get the EP and glory in its visual and sonic magnificence here

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Swamp Sounds/Uncle Pops & The Dumbloods (Bearsuit)

The latest split release from Edinburgh's Bearsuit label pairs Japan's Swamp Sounds with Uncle Pops, who hails from Dundee.  As we've come to expert from Bearsuit, the release is a triumph of experimentation paired with the kind of obtuse hooks that somehow lift the whole thing very much into the realm of the eminently listenable.

Uncle Pops, aka Douglas Wallace, is a little more low key about it, specialising in meandering soundscapes and fascinating temporal shifts that come out sounding like the soundtrack to some film whose sense you won't be able to make out but which you really wanna see.  He was involved with Anata Wa Sukkari Tsukarete Shimai's album The Lost Charles Underscore and if you loved that album as much as I did, you'll have some idea of the territory we're getting into.

Swamp Sounds are the work of Nagoya's Yuuya Kuno, an experimental musician who also records under the alias of House of Tapes.  His half of the release is less texturally complex, more perky and an absolute delight throughout its five tracks.  I'm opening my Dandelion Radio show this month with opening track 'Marionette', the mutant disco rush of which offers a snapshot of the warped, exhilarating journey Yuuya is about to take us on.

At times bewildering, at other times faintly unsettling, but always mad and always magnificent: get it here

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Threes And Will - Purge of Genden (Nothing Out There)

I first encountered Threes And Will via a split release they put out through the always wonderful Blue Tapes some time ago.  Ever since then I've been a huge admirer of the caustic, sub-krautrock din dished up by this Estonian band and their latest release, in partnership with French label Nothing Out There, has certainly not diminished my admiration.

If anything, the band crank up the noise levels still more on this offering.  Looping, repetitive guitars dominate, though often to subtly varied ends: the woozy, dissonant fuzz of opener 'Koniec Cywilizacji' opens up over the collection, via the epic spaciness of 'The Conquest Of Zhangzhung' until something more reminiscent of psychedelic rock is let loose on 'Bunkers'.

That in turn gives way to the magnificent 'Erebus', half stoner nightmare and half the sound of something that might well come out from the speedway pits if the mechanics got the pitch and balance just right.  You can hear it in my current Dandelion Radio show, streaming throughout April.

I'm aware I'm already descending to the level of the figurative to describe all this, which kind of gives away the difficulty I'm experiencing in doing so.  Perhaps I should just tell you that the six tracks here collectively bring about the kind of head-shredding thrill we've no right to expect to last over forty minutes but somehow, in the hands of Threes And Will, it does. 

Sadly, the limited edition cassette version is now sold out, but you can still download these six slices of magnificence here

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Audio Antihero Presents 'Unpresidented Jams' (Audio Antihero)

The wonderful Audio Antihero label has developed a reputation for producing one-off compilations that combine variety and quality while striking exactly the right note at the right time.  Few have been more timely than this: a nineteen track collection with all proceeds going to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center to aid the fight against the odious Trump administration.

The usual Audio Antihero regulars distinguish themselves as usual.  Cloud offer an evocative piano version of 'Moonlit' while Chuck's 'Nothing Matters To Me Now' characteristically combines power and fragility in a way that  seemingly only he can manage.  'Hole' is another dollop of introspective brilliance from Benjamin Shaw, while 'The New Colossus' finds Jack Hayter in fascinatingly experimental mood.

You can hear three of the other tracks in my Dandelion Radio show this month.  'Still Pills' is a woozy indie masterpiece from Still Pills, originally found on their 2014 album Omstart Sessions (which you can get as NYP here) while the always stunning Deerful serve up the typically delightful 'Unlearn/Begin Again'

The third of the tracks comes from the legendary Jeffrey Lewis, whose 'Dictator Seeks Reichstag Fire' is the most blistering and scarily perceptive attack on Trump yet to arise here or anywhere else.

Audio Antihero are offering the compilation for a minimum £2.99 here.  It's a cracking opportunity to get involved while enjoying the perfect soundtrack to the resistance.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Kloba Kent - Naked in the Storm

Listeners to my Dandelion Radio show will be familiar with the work of Diane Marie Kloba, who I was pleased to see gracing the Festive Fifty for the second time in 2016 and whose marvellous recent session for my show can now  be purchased as NYP here
Now, Diane has teamed up with Brighton-based guitarist Paul Kent to release this EP, which you can get from his Exploding Galaxy bandcamp page.  It's a fascinating release. Diane is such a singular vocalist that it's intriguing to hear what the addition of a collaborator can add to her work.

If you heard my Dandelion show last month, when I played the track 'Fools Like Walls', you'll already be aware of the extra dimension Paul Kent's spacious guitar lines bring to her unique style.  This month I'll be featuring the title track, where the guitar work provides a fine backdrop to a vocal performance that, even for Diane, is pretty damn breath-taking.

Overall, the collaboration works like a dream.  Worth checking out too Paul's earlier work while you're at his bandcamp site and, if you still remain unacquainted with Diane's back catalogue, I'd advise you to address that with some urgency by visiting her website here.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Baker Island - Demolishing the Fourth Wall (Edils)

If you like your indie pop to venture beyond the merely formulaic - and allow me to suggest that you probably do - then Newcastle's Baker Island may well be the band for you.

I'm featuring the title track from this three track single in my Dandelion Radio show this month.  I love it for its wildly anarchic structure, informed, it seems, by the principle of never settling for two or three hooks when you can have six of seven.  It yields a tune that manages to be both pleasingly messy and instantly hummable.

The other two tracks are pretty damn delightful too.  'Cheers Nostradamus' carries itself along on a vintage Madness-type vibe before once again diversifying madly, while 'Meet Me In John Lewis' intrudes into the proceedings with a more languid gait and spiky glitch-like portents of doom that never really sound doomy at all.

It's a delight, as you can probably tell.  Download it (NYP) here and prepare yourself, with great anticipation, for the forthcoming album which, the Edils Bandcamp site tells us, will be 'full of more slack, upbeat misery'.  Can't wait.