Monday, 22 April 2019

Moon Goose - Source Code

Can meets the KLF on the Welsh borders.

Has there been a record label over the last ten years that's done more in the service of psychedelia than Fruits de Mer? I'd say not. One of the label's latest releases is this cracking debut album from Moon Goose. A new band for for the label but one that shares the ethos for exploring music's outer reaches and your head's inner spaces. Source Code is a double colour vinyl offering featuring twelve shape-shifting instrumentals. It's an expansive affair as you'd expect for a 2LP set, with many of the tracks over the seven and eight minute mark. But the band never lapse into needless noodling or give any dull filler.

There's a definite trace of Can in their musical influences, but their mindset owes more to the surreal, the daftly mysterious and ancient historical references as espoused by the KLF. Don't go thinking they take themselves too seriously, there's plenty of playfulness and humour about this album as evidenced in the track titles – ' Goldfish In A Bag', 'Dark Shit' or 'Fist Fight At The Bingo'. Source Code is a musical journey that takes in motorik beats, funky '70s spy movie instrumentals, surfadelic guitar wig-outs, slow-burning moody passages and shimmering electronic textures. All delivered with brio, passion and panache. A joy to listen to in one sitting, we think you'll like it.

There's scant biographical detail about the band but we do know that Source Code is the result of weekly rehearsals in a barn in Herefordshire near the Welsh border. If any of our dear readers know more about these mysterious music mavericks perhaps they can enlighten us in the comments section below. If you want to hear these tracks in a live setting the band will be playing at FdM's summer festival. See the label website for more details.

Clickhere for Moon Goose.
Click here for Moon Goose on Twitter. 
Click here for Moon Goose on Facebook.
Click here for Moon Goose on Instagram.
Clickhere for Fruits de Mer Records.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Stubbleman – Mountains and Plains

An electronic travelogue though the American landscape. An understated subtle success.

Journeys across America have long held a fascination for those of us on this side of the pond and have also inspired great art. Cinema gave us the golden age of western films and along with a number of classic road-trip movies. Musicians have taken been similarly taken with travels across the USA. 'Route 66' is the first song that springs to mind. Then there's The Beach Boys' SMiLE which was was conceived as a musical journey across America, east to west, beginning at Plymouth Rock and ending in Hawaii.

Romanticised visions of history can be misleading. Contemporary realities more nuanced, stranger and ultimately more interesting. It's this modern, complicated America that's inspired this debut album from Stubbleman, the alter-ego of composer Pascal Gabriel. Mountains and Plains is an eleven track album that took root during a ten-week journey across the States, Pascal starting each track using found sounds and field recordings as the basis of each track, taking in such locations as Northern New Mexico, Mesa Verde in Colorado, the Mississippi river, Highways 61 and 66. Along the way there were meetings with artistic communities and makers of outsider art, and inspiration taken from the endless wide-open plains, train tracks, crumbling towns and the curious juxtaposition of rural poverty against giant corporate wealth.

Mountains and Plains is a wide-screen cinematic journey at times dark and ominous, sometimes full of joy, wonder and optimism. The ambient instrumentals, akin to Sigor Rós and Brian Eno transported to the American mid-west, are always evocative, with an understated subtle power that never fails to engage and emotionally resonate. The music is at times sparse, elsewhere dense with electronic pulses made on Modular synths, but what holds it all together is the humanistic warmth which comes with the addition of plaintive piano chords and melodies that sit atop of the arrangements. It's impressionist, cliché-free and parsimonious music at its best.

Though this is his debut album as Stubbleman, Pascal has had plenty of previous musical success. He was one of the co-writers behind both 'Theme From S'Express' (S'Express) and 'Beat Dis' (Bomb The Bass) and has been the go-to production and writing choice for a wide array of artists ever since. This wealth of experience has no doubt informed Mountains and Plains as much as the journey across America. Gig goers will be able to experience the music in a live setting as Pascal will be performing a selection of live dates starting this Spring. For more details along with some excellent photographs to accompany the music, follow the links below.

Click here for more the Stubbleman website.
Click here for Stubbleman on Twitter.
Click here for Stubbleman on Facebook.
Click here for Stubbleman on Instagram
Click here for Crammed Discs.

Friday, 19 April 2019

The Bordellos - Crabs EP

An antidote to the anodyne.

Music lovers will be aware that last Saturday was Record Store Day. The annual event that drives nominally sane middle aged men to queue in the cold and dark early hours for fear of missing out on overpriced limited edition vinyl records that they probably won't play anyway. I'll bet most of these items get filed away alphabetically in the hope that one day they'll increase in monetary value.

Don't get me wrong, I love vinyl records, have always bought them and will continue to do so. It's also great that the shops, labels and bands are supported. Yeah can't fault that. What I object to is the fetishisation of vinyl, along with the “investment” aspect of buying records that seems to be of equal if not more important these days than the music. So RSD is the one day I guarantee I won't be anywhere near a record shop. This year? I whitewashed the wall in the back yard. A long overdue chore and I have to say, the wall looks bloody good!

I mention all this because last Saturday saw the release of a new EP from the Bordellos, a bunch of independently-minded, lo—fi leaning proud misfits from England's Northwest who each year on RSD release new music as a refreshing antidote to its madness. Their Crabs EP is refreshingly not available on vinyl. It's a five-track all instrumental affair on download/stream only available from Metal Postcards Records. As you'd expect from the Bordellos, this new music delights, challenges, amuses and takes you to places you didn't know you wanted to go. It's a journey that takes in acidic folk, found sounds, industrial noise and the open-minded possibilities of post-punk. Oh and there's some whistling too. If John Peel were alive today he'd no doubt be broadcasting tracks off the Crabs EP each night.

Interestingly Brian from the Bordellos also shares my reservations about Record Store Day. You can read his thoughts about it on his wonderful blog, along with his thoughts about pop music, both good and bad. His writing is always insightful, bang on the money, and damn entertaining too. Check it out. Now I'm off to buy a couple of fence panels. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Beau - Damascus Road

Back with a new album! Fifty years on from his eponymous debut Beau remains as sharp and insightful as ever.

If I asked you to name a musician who epitomised the word prolific, who would spring to mind? Prince? Billy Childish maybe? Each genre would have its own nominations but when it comes to folk-based singer-songwriters a name I'd definitely propose would be Beau. Consistently impressive and with a back catalogue that continues to grow, Beau (AKA Trevor Midgeley) has a new album released this week. Damascus Road is out on Friday, a full fifty years to the day since the release of his 1969 eponymous debut album.

Regular readers of this blog (I hope they exist!) may already be familiar with Beau but if not here's a very brief potted history – His debut album was one the first releases on DJ John Peel's Dandelion label back in 1969. With his trusty 12-string acoustic guitar and sole voice Beau's music is always simply recorded, it doesn't rely on the smoke and mirrors of effects or studio trickery. Nor does it attempt to forge or follow fashion. And it's all the better for that. What does characterise Beau's songs is his commitment to write about the things what move, frustrate or amuse him, be it the shortcomings of our politicians, modern day celebratory foibles, or lessons that ought to have been learnt from history.

His latest album shows no signs of his talent diminishing. Its thirteen songs include juxtapositions of suffragettes with YouTubers and Instagram influencers ('Lacey Fayre'), critiques of populism ('Demagogue Rules') and an informed analysis of 'soft' guerrilla war tactics ('The Quiet Ones'). In our era of fake news and social media manipulation it's reassuring to know that are still songwriters that can cut through with truth. One of the album's most poignant songs is 'Child of Aberfan'. In the liner notes that accompany the promo CD, Beau makes the point that lessons surrounding public accountability may not have been learnt. A heartbreaking thought in light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. In addition there are songs with subjects as diverse as Masonic Lodges ('Men of the World'), the casting couch ('Kitten Caboodle') and the ill effects of collective amnesia ('Rear-View Mirror').

Beau's music may not be currently commercial but it is uniquely interesting, engaging and enjoyable. I very much recommend you make time to listen to Damascus Road. Beau is committed to the muse as ever and remains as sharp a commentator on contemporary society's mores as it's possible to be. Long may that continue. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Thee Telepaths – The Velvet Night

Kettering space-rockers explore drone and dynamics on their full-length debut!

There seems to something of an underground renaissance at the moment for exploratory psychedelic space-rock. Bands such as Eyeball in the US, and on our own shore the likes of Psychic Lemon and Moon Goose all digging deep intro astral rock. The latest addition to the growing army is Thee Telepaths, a quartet from Kettering who formed in 2014 and have since gone on to release a couple of vinyl EPs.

The extra time available on a full-length album allowed the band to stretch out and given them full rein to explore the joys of drone, dynamics and free-form ensemble playing associated with the genre along with the excitement of not quite knowing where you're you're going to end up. The album is neatly divided up into three segments – Alpha, Epsilon and Delta, which are in the keys of A, E and D accordingly. Each of these sections is then sub-divided into parts which allow for changes in tempo and feel. It's a neat conceit and that highlights the importance of limitations and framework in exploratory music.

So what does it sound like? A mixture of driving motorik beats, electronic keyboard textures and hooks with guitar work that sounds like the MC5 one minute, Ron Asheton the next. All topped with vocals that help steer the improvised music towards something more song-like. It's an interesting journey on which it's possible to hear a whole host of influences – Kosmiche Muisk acts such as Neu!, new wave bands such and Public Image Limited, along with later sonic explorers such as Loop, Thee Hypnotics. There's also a hint of afro-beat and post-punk in there too. A veritable gumbo of left-field music. You can check it out yourselves via the video the band have released for 'Epsilon Parts I-III'. The band will be playing a select string of live dates over the next few weeks. Check out the video and list of dates below.

Live Dates
April 5th – The White Hart, Corby
April 26th – Hot Box Skate Shop, Chelmsford
May 5th – The Blue Moon, Cambridge
May 17th The Lamplighter, Northampton
May 25th – The Jolly Brewer, Lincoln
July 5th – Tannerfest, Northampton

Clickhere for Thee Telepaths on Bandcamp.
Clickhere for Thee Telepaths on Twitter.
Clickhere for Thee Telepaths on Facebook.