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Colouratura - Colouratura

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"Colouratura - n. elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody, especially in operatic singing."

So says the dictionary, and thankfully we can ignore what follows the comma, but the rest applies.

An album made in small hours in their spare time by Nathan James, who wrote the music, and Ian Beabout who twiddled knobs in his fast becoming inimitable fashion, this unusual trip throws the genre book out the window. Over the course of its 50 minutes, a seamless journey split into definable songs or tracks for convenience, but playing as one piece, Colouratura in its first three tracks covers spectral if unsettling ambience, plaintive ballad and Faustian space rock, which gives an idea of the "scattergun set to stun" nature of this record.

The height of the realised songwriting on the album arrives on Sea Shanty, which sways along in proto-Procol Harum fashion before a middle eight that rides the swell in triple time. Nathan James is a fine singer with a good range and emo…

The Fall - New Facts Emerge

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New Facts Emerge is the 32nd album from that strange mental institution burning that goes by the name of The Fall. Led by Mark E. Smith, it is entirely probable that you or I is at least distantly related to someone who has been in The Fall, or at the very least is only three steps removed from a plucky musician with a career death wish to back Smith's by now embarrassingly random splutterings. They seem to be drawn to Smith like moths to a flame, and he has got through approximately 70 of the poor fuckers since crawling out of Prestwich with the first line up back in 1976.

Over the years this band has belted out some stonkingly classic records, and even now and well beyond their prime have until fairly recently managed to pepper their albums with blasts of righteous indignation that make the former fan such as I still occasionally part with readies for a shiny disc. Yes, we still buy CDs, for like Mr Smith we are now quite old. The last time I did this was back in 2008 for Imperi…

Jumble Hole Clough - Go and play quietly by yourself

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Foreclose on the definite, obliterate all expectations. From the building blocks start anew. Reconnect the heart to the mind via the spidery funk line. Dangle a proposition and attach it to the running board of a runaway bus, for this is the start of a new adventure. The unknown is not un-named, it is Go and play quietly by yourself, the 758th album this epoch from Jumble Hole Clough, a possibly imaginary concept that exists both before and after Schrodinger opens his box in the troubled hamlet of Hebden Bridge yesterday. The tree fell in the forest, no-one observed it apart from Colin Robinson who wrote a tune about something else entirely called Skin & Hide that combined pop and the fractured dissonance of our troubled souls. "Goat and gland, Autonomy in hand, Don’t fill your ear full of sand".

Colin's work will engage your noggin as well as make you smile, possibly at one and the same time. This is the kind of multi-tasking I can cope with. Colin's hovercraft…

Schnauser - Irritant

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Madness, they call it madness...
In my fevered imaginings I would like to think that the annoyingly over-capable DIY Sturmführer Dick Strawbridge, he of the unfeasibly humungous moustache and loveable teddy bear persona was playing the Midi-kazoo for Schnauser, the wonderfully strange yet cuddly combo from Bristol, as they cavort around the stage playing Have You Got PPI?, a particularly loose-limbed number from their fabulously tumescent new album Irritant. In my peculiar fantasy, Dick looks proudly over to his son, guitarist and singist Alan as he belts out the wonky wonderfulness that comprises Schnauser’s weird yet perfectly self-contained universe, as strange tiny creatures synchronously writhe about in Dad's bristling upper lip hair monster.
In other news it turns out that "We are the brainworm" as the Nutty Boys play klezmer, and enquiries are made by chanting girl choruses asking "Have You Got PPI?" while a craftily purloined cheesy synth line from Bow…

faUSt - Fresh Air

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"All we need...is fresh air in our brain" declaims the propulsive opening title track to this driven and tribal album, recorded on a tour of the USA in 2016, and Faust...or is it faUSt..., the rhythmic engine room of Krautrock are back on my radar after an absence of some years.

Seems like I have some catching up to do, as true to their anarchic spirit, there appears to be two versions of the band currently in existence. The version we find here, spelling themselves faUSt, no doubt after their long American connection, are steered by bassist and singer Jean Hervé-Peron ("jhp.art-terrorist") and drummer Werner Diermaier ("Zappi"). They are the most active of the two versions, having released a handful of albums since 2009, and they tour fairly regularly.

Fresh Air kicks off with the mammoth title track, which for the first half of its length is a dreamy synth-led ambient wander through a Polish translation of part of a work by French poet, painter, musicia…

Juxtavoices - Warning: May Contain Notes

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Warning: May Contain Notes is the third release from Sheffield-based Martin Archer's Juxtavoices, described by Martin, quite succinctly I feel, as an "antichoir". While the largest proportion of the strange collage of sounds emanating from this CD derives from the large ensemble of human voices, this is not choral work in traditional sense.

If you arrive at this album having never heard Juxtavoices before, you may well be shocked, but also hopefully intrigued by its sheer otherness to indulge its excesses for a while. I am lucky for I knew what to expect, having already experienced their first album Juxtanother Antichoir From Sheffield some four years ago.

Juxtavoices is a large conglomerate of singers and performers from the Sheffield avant music and arts scene, and it includes both trained and untrained voices. Although the pieces they perform are scripted, the finer details of the works are improvised, with whistles, chattering, moans, whoops and hollers coming at you…

The Fierce And The Dead - Field Recordings

The new album from Rushden musical sensation The Fierce And The Dead was going to be called That'll Lern Ya, Me Ol' Booty, but Bad Elephant label boss 'Ard Man Elliott weren't havin' none o'that, me duck, o no. Mr Elliott, issuing dictats from his lair down in That London weren't havin' no peasants 'avin ideas above their station, and so the more prosaic and cash register-friendly Field Recordings it is.

Last summer, after taking a wrong turn on the way to the Ceynty Teyn to buy a sheep, Farmer Stevens and his ragtag bobtail hayseed dixies ended up at some noisy fair goin' by the name o'Ramblin' Man where they thought they may as well set up stall to display their wares. As we all know, this involves making a mighty fine racket with them electric guitars, amplifiers, and pedal thingies.

But...there was a problem. Just before they mounted the stage, an almighty argument ensued over the ownership of the last bar of Crunchie in the bottomle…