Sunday, 19 January 2014

Gyratory System - Utility Music

Previous Gyratory System albums have certainly received their share of acclaim but this, the third from the London-based three piece, may well be their best yet.   It's one of those releases that renders attempts at classification almost distastefully crude, which is why so many attempts to describe it end up taking in a curiously wide spectrum of references, from krautrock to jazz to psychedelic to electronica and all the way back again.

This is, ultimately, electronic music, but while so much of what gets placed under that term sadly appears to regard the production of electric sounds as an end in itself, Gyratory System use it to explore realms too often unexplored in what might broadly be termed popular music: there are elements of neo-classical probing here, and a restless experimental spirit that results in an album that manages to combine the celebral and the rhythmic in a way that shouldn't work, but does, constantly.

I'm playing the sub-ethnic throb of 'AAA' as the opening track in my January 2014 Dandelion Radio show.  It's an ideal way to start the year, teeming as it is with rich and extraordinary juxtapositions.  But you could say that of the album as a whole, which works as a brilliantly evocative template of possibilities than as a mere collection of tunes.

I've got the excellent 'Lackland' scheduled to feature in February.  It's a current favourite, but this is an album I'm sure I'll be discovering new and brilliant things in throughout the year.  Utility Music is out now on the Soft Bodies label: get it as a download here and check out the Soft Bodies website for their other releases and other fascinating stuff.  

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Drive With A Dead Girl - Alma Ata II

During December, I tend to indulge myself in the retrospective pleasures of the year's releases more than is usual, or perhaps desirable.  That, along with the pastime of listening to Xmas tunes while getting pissed, can get in the way of discovering any great new releases if I'm not really, really careful.  That would be a shame, particularly in the case of December 2013, where an unusually high number of excellent releases managed to negotiate the pre-seasonal obstacle course outlined above and make their way into my life.

Although a good case could be made for the excellent Guerilla Toss album, the best of these releases for me was unquestionably this, from French band Drive With A Dead Girl.  Hailing from Lille, fortunately the band bypassed my naturally indolent state and got in touch about the release, which managed very quickly to oust those nostalgic afternoons spend listening to Merry Christmas From Fortuna Pop or Ya-Style Christmas from my schedule.  

No doubt they'll return at some point, but for now Christmas has long gone and I'm still listening to Alma Ata II, six slabs of entrancing noise that are filling the long winter evenings with unfeasible regularity down our way, and probably annoying the kind of neighbours who need to be annoyed.  Among them sits the unquestioned centrepiece, the seventeen minute plus 'Fabulous Tank', a multi-faceted beast of  track of such textural variety that it can take over your life without you even realising how long you've been listening to it.

But it's unreasonable to ignore the other delights on offer here, all of which take a common template, where rampant guitar and drums underscore Alexia's enigmatic vocals, and yet manage an appeal very much of their own.  I'm playing opener 'Deseado' in my January show on Dandelion Radio, which should give you some idea of what I mean.  But don't stop there: you can get the whole album as NYOP here.  

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Ramalama Codex & The Universal Unconsciousness - Looming

First release of the new year from my Unwashed Territories label is also the first from this duo, combining the very considerable talents of Mike Seed, formerly of The Chasms, and Neil Whitehead of Vert:x.  Although Looming is their debut release, keen-eared listeners to my Dandelion Radio show will recognise some of what's here as three of the seven tracks were first heard in session on my show last year.

If you caught the session, you'll know what to expect: slickly meandering psychedelic riffs rub up against Mike's distinctive vocals or just against each other, at times playfully undulating around your lugholes, such as on the eerie 'Ganymede', and at others yielding occasionally surprising rhythmic intensity, as on the new track 'The Wrong Salute'. I'm playing 'Sleeping Beauty' in my January show on Dandelion Radio, a track that isn't new to me (I played it on my show several months ago) but which has the fascinating temerity to appear so.  That's the case with the whole collection: you'll play it again and again and find astonishing things you'll swear weren't there the first time.

There have, of course, already been many fascinating spin-offs from the members of The Chasms and I understand there'll be more to come.  For me, this is the best yet and the seven tracks here have a vibrancy and eclectic resonance that suggest Ramalama Codex have enough in the tank to take us on a long and fascinating journey.  Hold onto your hats.

Get it as NYOP here.