Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 51 / the alternative music tabloid
KING KRULE Easy does it + Oneohtrix Point Never James Holden Roky Erickson Salvia Plath No Ceremony/// Traams Braids
READ THE OTHER 50 EDITIONS AT WWW.LOUDANDQUIET.COM
Contents August 2013
09 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I N LO V E? YOU’RE CRAZY STEPHEN GHENT FOUND BEYONCE HIDING IN HIS TIVO BOX AND DID NOT LIKE IT
1 0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . s in g le s & b oo k s The month’s singles and page-turners, from nothankyou, Anna meredith, ballet school, fidlar, sam knee and more
cover photography SONNY MCCARTNEY
1 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . g e t t in g t o k no w you We’re hosting the main stage at beacons festival this month. 9 artists from the bill share their festival highs and lows Contact email@example.com
ro k y eri C k s on . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 Hear no evil: the forgotten story of roky erickson and his lost albums of the 1980
j a m e s h ol d en . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 For a producer that doesn’t go for talking about music, Holden has a lot to say about it
no cere m ony / / / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 Manchester trio No Ceremony/// are finally ready to talk about their melancholic, semi dance music
s alvia p lat h . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 Space Oddity: “people are strange,” says lo-fi non-musican Michael Collins
t raa m s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 ON THE MOVE: CHICHESTER TRIO TRAAMS SOON REALISED THEIR HOMETOWN JUST WON’T DO
b rai d s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 Canadian trio braids have been learning to live with a computer
oneo h t ri x p oin t never . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 The never ending story: Daniel Lopatin loves kubrick and hates the idea of making music to a narrative
k in g k rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 8 six feet high and rising: archy marshall is made to talk to us
Loud And Quiet PO Box 67915 London NW1W 8TH Editor - Stuart Stubbs Art Director - Lee Belcher Sub Editor - Alex Wilshire film editor - Ian roebuck Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Bart Pettman, Carl Partridge, Chal Ravens, Chris Watkeys, Cochi Esse, Daniel Dylan Wray, Danny Canter, DAVID Sutheran, DK Goldstien, Elinor Jones, elliot kennedy, Edgar Smith, Frankie Nazardo, Gareth Arrowsmith, Janine Bullman, LEE BULLMAN, Kate Parkin, Kelda Hole, Gabriel Green, Gemma Harris, Leon Diaper, Luke Winkie, Mandy Drake, Matthias Scherer, Nathan Westley, Owen Richards, Olly Parker, PAVLA KOPECNA, Polly Rappaport, Phil Dixon, Phil Sharp, Reef Younis, Samuel ballard, Sam Walton, Sonia Melot, sonny McCartney, Tim Cochrane, Tom Pinnock, TOM Warner This Month L&Q Loves ash kollakowski, Debbie Ball, Duncan Jordan, jack shankly, Keong Woo, leah ellis, nathan beazer, sinead mills, Will Lawrence The views expressed in Loud And Quiet are those of the respective contributors and do not necessari ly reflect the opini ons of the magazine or its staff. All rights reserved 2013 Loud And Quiet. ISSN 2049-9892 Printed by Sharman & Company LTD.
3 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . al b u m s f il m s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4 Factory floor, MONEY, Arctic Monkeys, Jessy Lanza, Willis Earl Beal and more
ian roebuck previews nick cave’s new movie and reviews only god forgives
4 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . live p ar t y w ol f . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 0 Atoms for peace, telegram, richard hawley, foot fell, dignan porch and more
Idiot Tennis, Thought sport, Crush hour, rumour pie and The unfortunate world of ian beale
Left - Roky ERickson right - King Krule below - James Holden
welcome The story of Roky Erickon is an extraordinary, mythical, even tragic one. Without giving too much away before you reach ‘Hear No Evil’ on page 14, it’s a tale of pioneering psych rock, a bum rap and extreme drug and mental abuse. It’s included in this month’s issue of Loud And Quiet ultimately because, thanks to Light In The Attic reissuing three lost Erickson albums next month, the timing is right, but also because the history of Roky and his band The 13th Floor Elevators has passed many of our generation by. This isn’t to say that some fans don’t know it inside out, but we certainly didn’t before now. The same can be said for many bands and their legends, some cult, some not even, and in the upcoming months we’ll attempt to share (or re-share) these unlikely tales over our Retold pages.
Erickson didn’t like doing interviews, and in that sense he sets the tone for Loud And Quiet 51. James Holden picked up Sam Walton and photographer Phil Sharp in his Prius, only to politely point out that “I feel like music expresses so much more than words”; another James, of Manchester post-disco band NO CEREMONY/// (a group that until now have refused all press requests) went for, “I think in interviews there’s always the risk of over-explaining yourself”; King Krule laughed as David Zammitt when asked if he was looking forward to their time together. Sounds like a difficult issue, doesn’t it, but not being convinced that talking about music is the best idea is not the same as not being good at it, and by all accounts - and perhaps due to their manners winning out where David Longstreth’s didn’t in June of last year - James, James and Krule found they had a lot to say. They may have even enjoyed it.
King Krule (or Archy Marhsall, as he was born) is particularly good with words. His debut album, ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’, is a compelling buffet of sounds, inspired in equal parts by rockabilly, hip-hip, trip-hop, dance music and Django Reinhardt jazz guitar. But it’s Marshall’s serrated verses that hold his otherwise disparate record together - the barbed cries of a 18-year old kid wanting to be heard no less than Billy Bragg did and does; an angry teen consumed by sex, love and depression. When he announced his album with lead single ‘Easy Easy’ in July Beyonce ´ Knowles - whom I have my own problem with this month, over the page - embedded it on her blog. Marshall wasn’t surprised, reasoning she’d done so “because it’s good”. He’s particularly good with words.
The Beginning August 2013
IN LOVE? YOU’RE CRAZY stuart stubbs found Beyonce hiding in his TiVo box and did not like it For all their pricking about, Richard Branson and David Tennant fail to point out a vital piece of information regarding the Virgin Media TiVo box – that it’s a fucking joker. That neat selling point about how you can tell it what you like and it’ll record similar programs for you automatically – yeah, that’s balls. What TiVo does do is whatever the hell it likes. ‘Oh, I see you watched The Sky At Night’, TiVo thinks, just before it series links The Midnight Beast. It’s very Demon Seed, like that – I think itw might be plotting to do me. God forbid if you ‘like’ an American sitcom of any kind – Friends is on 200 times a day. I know because I now own every episode, including ‘The One Where TiVo Is Laughing At Me Behind My Back’. Oh, and you’re blissfully unaware of all this shit-mining until you find your ‘Suggestions’ folder, which is buried beneath the shows you’ve chosen to record yourself; there, dormant for months, series after series of Have I Got A Bit More New For You? gushing in. TiVo can do little right in that respect, even when the sarcastic square head reels in something I genuinely like, like BBC documentary series Imagine…. This is how I realised I can’t stand Beyoncé. Cheers TiVo. Up until the point of finding Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream in ‘Suggestions’, I was still on factory settings where Knowles was concerned. I liked her, just like everyone else. There was no reason not to, but since when did that ever stop us picking holes in celebrities, especially ones as fucking massive as Beyoncé Knowles? Rhianna: too crass. Madonna: too desperate. Britney: too mental. Beyoncé has always been the porridge that’s just right, universally so, and for the last 15 years straight. She is decorum in a world where it doesn’t fit, resolutely private in her love affairs with the biggest rapper in history, the good, Christian, all-American gal who’s only ever wanted to sing. And she sang ‘Crazy In Love’, so, y’know, all hail Beyoncé for at least another 20 years. Jay-Z: He Came, He Saw, He Conquered was the peak of Imagine…’s third series back in 2008. Where else would you see Alan Yentob standing side of the Pyramid Stage while a rapper worth $500 million lists his 99 problems to 100,000 people? Yentob gets into places deemed impossible, and now, for his greatest trick of all, he was going to infiltrate the clandestine Knowles camp to see just how straight-and-
narrow a scandal-less megastar can be. WRONG! Yentob is a tacked on cameo in this ‘Imagine Special’, which was bought in from HBO. He introduces it on a damp London street and then roll VT, post the inadvertent warning, “This is a film made by Beyoncé about Beyoncé”, which is a bit like the disclaimer they put at the beginning of Made In Chelsea to let us know that it’s all lies. Here, Beyoncé is credited as Producer, Director and Writer of Life Is But A Dream – a 90-minute brand presentation. By the end she also makes a point of adding Additional Camera Work to the list, for all the iPhone confessionals we’ve been subjected too. I’ve taken this to mean that I too can add Camera Operator to my CV, for skills learned Skyping my brother once a week. Beyoncé,
We don’t like Beyonce, it’s sasha fierce we’re into
it seems, is a little bit of a control freak. Who knew? The logic behind producing your own warts’n’all documentary is only lost on idiots, but it’s a highly flawed notion. Sure, you can make it less warty, or completely wartfree, should you wish, but people aren’t fools – everyone knows Spencer is taking the piss, right? There’s no calling foul play when you so blatantly made it yourself, either, and by the end of Life Is But A Dream you have to think, if that was Beyoncé’s A-game, if that was her self-edited to the person she wants us to see, then, well, no wonder her dad kept film crews at bay for all the years he was managing the Knowles mega brand. Beyoncé doesn’t come across as a douche or anything.
She’s diligent, deservedly in control, a vital female role model and as impassioned (albeit quietly so) as an Alabama church congregation. Her video diary is a stomach-churner, though, cropped at bleached-out, extreme close up to intensify Bey’s most earnest musings, which she whispers like the troubled ghost of Michael Jackson. It’s mostly cliché drivel about what God has planned for us. Contradictions are a plenty, too, which is something I imagine is a recurring theme in Knowles’ life – the performer who can follow “The rock I’m rockin’/I bought it” with “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it” in the space of 5-minutes onstage. Life Is But A Dream is contrary in itself, featuring the personal home movies of two celebrities that until recently refused to acknowledge the existence of the other in interviews. In a more confined way, it features one excruciating scene at Sony Music where a boardroom of strategists listen to Beyoncé’s new record in front of her, furiously nod out of time to a pretty pony ballad I’ve not heard anywhere else and give her a standing ovation as the head of the table declares it to be “an absolute bar-raising record” that “sounds like nothing else”. Everyone whoops and Beyoncé looks happy. Later on some inner circle drill sergeant called Frank assures us that Knowles is done with surrounding herself with “brown-nosers”. Frank is going to get pissed! Aside from this nit-picking, what Life Is But A Dream really does to damage the myth of Beyoncé Knowles is unearth just how utterly dull she is. Not Jess Ennis dull, but close. The fact is that we don’t like or love Beyoncé; it’s her performing alter ego Sasha Fierce we’re into. To her credit, Knowles has always insisted that she isn’t the woman she is on stage, but we always thought that false modesty. It’s not. You would no more want to go for a drink with her than you would with David Beckham. She is lovely and sweet and savvy and quietly ruthless, I’m sure, rich to the point of vulgarity, which is only matched by her drive and her talent, but have you never thought how chillingly abnormal it is for a celebrity so huge, so young to hold it all together? It is, quite simply, because she doesn’t have the personality to freak out; the biggest wart of all in showbiz, and one that Life Is But A Dream featured in ill-advised close up for 90 dreary minutes. TiVo, you’re killing me!
The Beginning Singles & Books
by L ee & Ja nin e B u l l m a n
Jet Black Raider by Anna Meredith
( M o s h i M o s h i ) R e l e a s e d A u g u s t 1 9
Just Kids by F.U.R.S
( S e l f R e l e a s e d ) R e l e a s e d A u g u s t 1 9
Testifying Time by The Amazing Snakeheads
(Domino) R e l e a s e d NOW
Like Micachu before her, Anna Meredith is adept at classical composition, yet is currently more interested in making music that is indecipherable in quality. If information on Meredith’s academic accomplishments had been omitted altogether (along with the fact that she has a walk-on part at Foals’ live shows), this second 4-track EP of alarmingly simple, end-of-level-boss music would probably be disregarded without question. As it stands, there’s a good chance that few will want to call bullshit for fear of not getting it. Try defending the frail cover of ‘A Little Respect’, though.
Don’t bother trying to work out what the acronym F.U.R.S stands for – the full stops are superfluous, so much so that look, this London boy/boy/girl trio haven’t even bothered with the final one. You know what it means? It means furs, taken from the Leopold Von Sacher Masoch book Venus In Furs. Oh well. Second single ‘Just Kids’ isn’t particularly smart either, but rather pretty decent, glistening coming-of-age nostalgia pop for Brits who like to reminisce about a high school prom they never went to. Sucks for F.U.R.S that it comes out the day of Summer Camp’s new LP.
When I found out that this Glaswegian trio only had 855 Facebook likes I frantically attempted to click more than my fair share. It was out of fear more than anything. As opening lines to debut singles go, “You can count my sins on your double chins” seems like good fun until ‘Testifying Time’’s 1-minute, 8-seconds of unhinged rock’n’roll makes you think that laughing along at the joke could earn you a forehead across the nose. The Fall-inspired B-side ‘The Truth Serum’ is then totally shit-faced and should really be reported to child services.
Heartbeat Overdrive by Ballet School
( B e l l a U n i o n ) R e l e a s e d A u g u s t 1 9
(moshi moshi) Released now
Maybe not for Taylor Swift and her people, but there is such a thing as being too catchy. That’s the worst that can be levelled at Ballet School, a Berlin-based trio so slick in this ode to ’80s power pop that you half think it’s a cover, then LOVE it, then think you might need some time apart before you’re imitating the Mariah-ish squeal of Rosie Blair out loud for every two times you do it in your head. Then it ends. Then you’re faced with the task of trying to ration your listens because if you don’t you’ll end up hating the thing. This is your favourite pop song for the next 15 minutes. GO!
Know Yourself by Nothankyou
‘Know Yourself’ is the aptly self-assured debut single from two artists aware of their own alt-pop skills – Tom Vek and Dirty Projectors singer Olga Bell. Bell takes on the vocals, not chirruping as she and Amber Coffman do in DP, but rather dropping an octave to resemble a steamy, sexed Björk. She’s matched and even surpassed in her clear greatness by Vek’s low-flying bass wobble that’s club-ready yet neither lazily phoned-in dub-step nor EDM. It sounds like only he could have made it, especially in the dentedpan drum sound he’s become known for. Quite a brilliant partnership, this.
Awkward by fidlar
T he S c e ne In Be t w e e n B Y s a m k ne e (Penguin)
Somewhere in the early eighties, in towns like Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester, groups began forming and gigging, some of them even releasing records, but all of them helping to define an indie look, sound and sensibility that endures still to this day. Even fucking David Cameron is a Smiths fan. Sam Knee’s book gathers together a fascinating collection of band photos, magazine articles and shots taken at gigs that give a feel for the period quite unlike anywhere else. Much of A Scene In Between’s charm comes from the scarcity of some of the photos on show, taken decades before the smartphone captured everything. These pictures (along with some accompanying interviews) capture a scene where girls were picking up guitars and pubs were closing at eleven. A beautiful book.
T r a mp l e d Unde r F oo t B Y B a r ne y Ho s k y ns
(wichita) R e l e a s e d SE P T e m b e r 9
(Faber & Faber)
The tales of Led Zeppelin’s enthusiastic embrace of all that came with being the world’s biggest rock band have long since past into myth. Led Zeppelin were the band who invented most of the rock’n’roll clichés, and they did it on their own private jet. But they were also four extraordinary characters who, when they came together, could raise heaven as well as hell. Barney Hoskyns book looks at the whole story, and Trampled Under Foot is an oral history of the band, edited down from hundreds of hours of interviews with eye-witnesses to the madness; the people who were closest to the band and helped to keep the show on the road throughout all of the joy and darkness. Weighing in at over 500 pages, it flies by, and in it Hoskyns has found a new way to tell a story we thought we already knew.
As fun as FIDLAR’s debut album of LA drunk punk was this year, it was missing something – the band’s best song, then featuring Kate Nash on backing vocals. Now the skating stoners have rerecorded the track, kicking Nash off of it, to its slight detriment, in fact. Also getting the boot are the track’s junkshop acoustic guitar and the busted, clacky drums. In is a new, borderline smug guitar solo. It sounds even more like Weezer now, and while it lacks the shit-fi charm of its MK1 version it’s still the band’s best song and a loser anthem for a new generation shit at talking to girls.
All single reviews by Stuart Stubbs Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now
The Beginning Getting To Know You
they took us on a joyride on a boat around the fjord the festival overlooked. Heaven. The complete opposite was a festival in Germany, which was run out of a squatted school, in an abandoned industrial estate, in a port. There were live quails in the catering dining room. The school toilets were still working, but someone had nicked the cubicles so you had to wee in a row. One of the stages sank. It was pretty apocalyptic, but I still had a good time.”
Sanae Yamada of Moon Duo “I’m not sure I would call this my best festival experience, but in terms of being memorable, nothing so far can top Milhoes de Festa in Barcelos, Portugal, last year. We played on a stage set at one end of an enormous municipal swimming pool. This was in late July and the afternoon sun had reached its peak blaze, and we had no shade. My keyboard got so hot it was actually painful to play. The crowd was almost naked – dressed only in tiny bikinis and swimming trunks – in and out of the pool, dancing and splashing around. Everyone was bronzed and beautiful, it was very surreal. When our set was over, we jumped in as well.”
Duncan Wallis of Dutch Uncles “When we played Reading and Leeds festival in 2011 we thought it would be a good idea to get down to Reading the night before to see what that leg of the festival was like and to check out Pulp and The Strokes as well. Pulp were fantastic although we only knew 4 songs, which made us feel stupid and The Strokes looked like they hated each other that night, so we proceeded to get very merry and forget about the whole thing. In short we got too drunk, and having lasagne for breakfast at the catering tent was a terrible idea, especially in front of Huw Stephens, and although we managed to stop being sick for the half hour we had to play, it was still a long road back to Manchester. Great.” “Best or worst festival memories. Where do I start? There’s loads… Could it be the time when my brother slashed my arm wide open with his Stanley knife at Sheffield City Invasion? Stupidly I was Duct taping it back in place in the toilets with blood going everywhere when [pro skater] Duane Peters walked in. Stunned he said: ‘Shit, I didn’t think it was this rough in Sheffield!’ ‘Yeah, and that was my brother, mate!’ Then there was a time when [band guitarist] Goldy’s legend of an uncle asked us to play a festival called Kellfest, which his quadruple heart by-pass friend was hosting in his field. In the middle of nowhere and very out of place, we all anxiously got intoxicated. We got on the hay bale stage and played through our set laughing our heads off at the elderly and confused crowd. Most people were not impressed at all, apart from this one bald dad who ridiculously insisted that he’d book us for his newborn baby daughter’s christening. After 5 minutes of knowing us he also insisted that we were to be her godparents. That was after telling us his story of how he ‘saw God in the flames of a fire whilst high on acid’ and also how he’d ‘missed all The Sex Pistols gigs in the ’70s due to doing time in prison.’”
Spectrals “I suppose I would say that my best festival experience was my first one – I think that is the one that set me on with what I’m doing now. It was Leeds Festival 2003, and that was the first time I properly worked out for myself that music existed on that scale and that that many people were bothered about stuff like that. I just remember it seemed huge and that I didn’t have a reference for that apart from going to watch the football, but it was a different kind of crowd. There was Thrice, Poison The Well, The Movielife, Finch, Reel Big Fish, Bowling For Soup and then later on it was
Festive Spirit 9 artists on the beacons bill share their festival highs and lows
Lucy Mercer of Stealing Sheep “Latitude was a great festival experience for us. It was Emily’s birthday festival weekend which meant party time big time, our super good friends the amazing Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band and Tilt dance collective accompanied us onstage, we achieved a childhood dream of earning our Blue Peter Badges (this is true), we had to take a boat to get to the stage, and we all got a pub lunch in the sun on the way home. Yeah!”
Chad Valley Linkin Park and Blink-182. It was unreal really, hardly anything ever topped that because I was so new to it and I was just ready to love it all and have a mad day, seeing bands that you liked but you didn’t really know what they looked like or anything. There’s a photo somewhere that my dad has of us on that day with band t-shirts about 3 sizes too big on, giving the devil horns.”
Ghostpoet “One of the best festival experiences was probably a festival in Lithuania one year, with one of the craziest crowds I’ve come across and such an amazing colosseumlike stage near a beach if I remember correctly. And all that, despite arriving at Bratislava airport with half our music equipment not making the flight over, discovering that we had, like, an additional five-hour drive to get to the festival site and somehow scramble around and borrow the equipment we needed to do the show. Ahh, those were the days!”
Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin “There’s an incredible festival in Norway called Slottsfjell, where I had 8 (!) kinds of preserved fish for breakfast, then
“I had an amazing experience at the first or second ever Latitude festival where I played with my other band Jonquil. We decided, as we had a bunch of acoustic instruments, that we would play an impromptu set in the woods after all the bands finished. We combined this with trying to get more alcohol and drugs, singing songs in desperation. This is something that I would probably hate if I saw nowadays, being the kind of person that hates hippies and busking; but at the time we had the innocence of a band playing their first ever festival. I guess that innocence is something I won’t be getting back.”
Declan Pleydell-Pearce of Fun Adults “It would please me in hindsight to say that watching The Fall at Bristol’s Ashton Court Festival was up there in my most treasured festival memories, but it would also be disingenuous to say that I understood half of what Mark E Smith was getting at. Also a downpour that evening flooded the site, and in turn caused the festival to fold financially. So yeah – that’s probably one of the worst, sorry Mark. More honestly I’d say watching Battles at Glastonbury. They only got to play about five tracks because CSS were shoved on as headliners, but it’s up there in the best ever.”
Illustration by Joe Mclean – www.joe-mclean.co.uk
George Mitchell of Eagulls
hear no evil The forgotten story of Roky Erickson and his lost albums of the 1980s
Like many people in the 1970s, I too had my first experience of listening to Roky Erickson and the music of the 13th Floor Elevators via Lenny Kaye’s underground garage-rock compilation record ‘Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 19651968’,albeit somewhat later,probably around 2004/2005 as a teenager. My first reaction to hearing Elevators cut ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ was no doubt similar to that felt by many others throughout the decades: ‘What the fuck is that sound?’ That weird, trippy, wobbly sound that felt as though something was rippling through the song. A submerged gargle? A cooing bird? Distorted strings? A technical malfunction? For years I thought that noise had something to do with water, maybe an amp precariously drenched in water to create a sound like no other, or some kind of spillage on the master tape. Only later did I realise it was someone blowing a jug. Then, just as the mind is beginning to process such a strange sound, in comes a scything scream – “ohhhhh, yeahhh”. That scream is of teenager Roky Erickson sounding very much like the next Van Morrison and Mick Jagger rolled into one younger, more out-there body; a role that due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, he never really got to fully live out. The 13th Floor Elevators are often credited as being the first psychedelic rock band, but their psychedelic leanings went much further than simply their sound explorations. The group – heavily encouraged by bandleader Tommy Hall – were fierce proponents of the LSD movement, openly championing the drug, along with other similarly affiliated ’60s chemicals. The back cover to their debut album ‘The Psychedelic Sounds…’ even reads like something of an ‘open your mind’ manifesto, challenging people to break down institutional barriers via chemical exploration and ‘unlock’ themselves. Sadly, what may have initially opened up a lot of windows to a whole lot of other realms for the band then soon folded in on itself. A change in band line up – some of which is rumoured to be the result of Tommy Hall’s almost militant insistence on drug experimentation within the group – coupled with the authorities placing a keen eye on this rebellious, counter-culture inciting lot, soon led to the collapse of the group and the arrest of Roky Erickson.
In 1969 Erickson was arrested with a single marijuana joint but was due to face 10 years in prison for the felony. At the advice of his lawyer, in order to avoid prison, he pleaded insanity (Erickson had been diagnosed with schizophrenia the year before). After being placed in some low security psychiatric institutions, he continued to break free from those, thinking this situation would be on-going until he ran down his sentence. That is until they transferred him to a maximum-security institution for the criminally insane, Rusk State Hospital,Texas. “The bass player, he had killed two small children and raped the mother. He stabbed her with a pen knife and poked one of her eyes out. Another one was involved in the rape of a young boy down in Houston and they murdered him too after they raped him. Another one had killed his parents and one of his siblings – he played guitar. The guy that was involved with the gang rape of the little boy played tambourine. Roky was there for some minor charge, now you tell me if that makes sense? Because it doesn’t.” This grizzly truth is told by an expsychiatric worker from Rusk State in the 2005 Roky documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me, in reference to the band Erickson formed inside the hospital. During his incarceration, he was subjected to involuntary Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) until his release in 1972.“Lots of people have tried to say,‘oh the way Roky is now is because he had shock treatment,’” says the singer’s brother Sumner Erickson in the same documentary, “or, ‘oh no the way Roky is, is because of Acid’, or, ‘oh no the way Roky is because…’ you know, nobody can really know.” Roky came out of the hospital feeling alive with creativity, and speaking with the man responsible for three re-issues released next month via Light In The Attic (‘The Evil One’ (1981),‘Don’t Slander Me’, (1986) and ‘Gremlins Have Pictures’ (1986)), Craig Luckin – Erickson’s then-manager – he tells me, “He was really excited and focused. He was really becoming a prolific songwriter; he was just cranking them out. He claimed he had around 300 songs, and I saw lyric sheets for around that many, but there was a lot of songs that came around the time he wrote ‘Two Headed Dog’. I’ve never seen a songwriter more prolific than Roky was in that
timeframe.” It was Erickson chasing Luckin that led to their management arrangement. “He kept persisting, asking me over and over, and at that stage I knew a little about his history and incarceration in a mental hospital. I told him I would do it but only if he had himself an attorney and I have a chance to meet with them – I didn’t want him to sign an agreement without having legal representation.” By the time these 300 odd songs had been whittled down and put into the form of an album, the results included ‘The Evil One’, a record so crammed with demons, devils, zombies, werewolves and ghosts that in many senses listening to it feels like a personal shedding for Erickson; an expelling; a screaming; an unleashing of all that lurks within him – essentially an exorcism. However, despite his mental fragility during the making of the album, it’s an incredibly accomplished collection of songs. The song writing, in an oddly classically rock structured way, with much of the psychedelic sounds long gone, borders on the sublime, and his voice still screeches with a pain and energy that could only be Roky. Aided by the superb production of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Stu Cook, the album swells and soars, brought even more resolutely home by the remastering it undergoes for the reissue. Listen to such cuts as ‘I Think of Demons’ and you can’t help but think the likes of Paul Westerberg must have been paying grave attention to what Roky was up to at the dawn of the ’80s. In the UK CBS picked up the album, but on a promotional tour for the release disaster struck, as Craig tells me.“It was really stressful when he did the CBS UK tour,” he says. “Boy, I was really hoping he’d do great over there and that was the worst interviews he ever did. That was the thing with him, you couldn’t count on him always being in a great frame of mind… sometimes he could get on a roll and just be completely useless for doing interviews or recording, or anything. Usually it would be some fan would run into Roky at a concert and slip him some drugs that he shouldn’t be taking. So that would usually be the trigger of the downward spiral.” In this case, Erickson disappeared for a full day before the interviews with his then-wife Holly. It was
writer - Daniel dylan wray
‘Nineteen out of twenty interviews he did were total disasters. They killed the album’
thought they went to Stonehenge to take LSD. Some exerts from one of the interviews he gave following his disappearance: Q. Roky, would you briefly tell us how you first started in rock’n’roll and who your main influences were at the time? R. How I first started? I first started playing piano, in the swamp. Who was I listening to? The Premier of Russia who died last night. Q.What do you think are the most noticeable changes in rock’n’roll over, say, the past 15 years? R.The piano parts and the razor in the keys. Q.Why so few releases in that period of time? R. Why so few releases in so few time? I guess because… uh… too many Russian Spies. “Nineteen out of twenty interviews he did were total disasters,” Luckin writes in the reissue linear notes. “They killed the album.” To me he recalls the effect drugs would have on Erickson around this period. “It was certain drugs, marijuana wasn’t a problem, everybody would use that; it was the ’70s.That wouldn’t put him over the edge, but it was fans meeting him and going into the dressing room after the first set – and in some of these clubs you couldn’t watch him every minute – and they’d slip him something: psychedelics, or Methadrene or heroin. He’d do a great first set and then he could hardly play at all for the final set… but without that he was always fun and intelligent and could be an exciting performer and great recording artist. “I think with his history of being in Rusk State, the Elevators and being the youngest guy in the band and doing acid everyday, it’s not a good thing for him,” Luckin continues.“He got real unhappy after somebody gave him some acid or something like that.That was one of the hardest things, to babysit him. Somebody would give him something and then he’d be staying at my house and I’d have to stay up all night with him and he’d be really sad and say, ‘Craig, don’t ever let me do LSD again’ and I’d say. ‘hey, I didn’t let you do it this time’.
year after the release of ‘The Evil One’ Erickson took a downward turn, believing that a Martian had taken over his body. His lawyer, Peggy Underwood, had a fake legal contract drawn up for him to sign in public, pledging his official status as being an Alien, that way escaping the attacks he felt he was constantly under from human beings. Despite things not looking good, Erickson made it through the next few years and got to 1986 to release ‘Don’t Slander Me’. “I’ve never seen him be so together and sober during those sessions,” Luckin tells me. The album is another masterful accomplishment, if as largely forgotten as ‘The Evil One’, perhaps more polished, with big old nods to classic rock’n’roll and branching out into occasional balladry. Considering its timeline, it sounds remarkably free of garish production – the astonishing ‘Burn the Flames’ feels utterly timeless as does the effortless breeze of ‘Starry Eyes’, a song that sits Erickson alongside the more often celebrated Alex Chilton in his ability to adapt to seemingly any style and still produce pop-smattered, songwriting gold. Luckin tells me of Erickson’s occasional reticence to discuss his hospital time around this period. “He did never really want to talk about that and wouldn’t, pretty much. The Rusk mental hospital stuff in the ’60s was just a terrible tragedy for him, even while he was there, and when he came out he had a burst of creativity but that must have just been a terrible place. I don’t think there are any mental health facilitates that are like that any more. It was primitive days for mental health, thinking electro shock therapy was the way to treat schizophrenia.” Is it not a form of torture, instead of treatment? “That’s what Roky thought about it,” says Luckin. “I think there’s some stuff on ‘Don’t Slander Me’ about that. If you listen to the lyrics there I think that’s about Rusk. He had some real horror stories from there and every once in a while he’d share tales about abusive, torturing electro shock therapy.” In fact, in You’re Gonna Miss Me Erickson goes as far to refer to his time in Rusk as being “like a concentration camp”. The same year as ‘Don’t Slander Me’,‘Gremlins Have Pictures’ was also released. A selection of live takes ranging from 1975-82, including everything from a
rousing ‘Night of theVampire’ and a surging ‘Cold Night for Alligators’ to an improvised and unrehearsed (according to Luckin) take on the Velvet Underground’s ‘Heroin’. The coarseness and ramshackle ambiance of the live recordings work as a sweet counter-balance to the wonderfully produced two albums, making the trio of re-releases an all-encompassing, varied and engulfing dive into the wonderful, seemingly neglected world of Roky Erikson in the 1980s. Sadly, things deteriorated badly towards the end of that decade for the singer, just as interest was picking up again. Erickson had picked up an obsession with the mail, in which he would collect and catalogue junk mail, as well as write countless letters to people (dead or alive). He was arrested (although charges were dropped) for mail theft in 1989. In this period of decline and nonmusical activity, 1990 saw the release of ‘Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye’ a tribute album to Roky, featuring R.E.M, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Julian Cope, Butthole Surfers and several others. “He’d had a really bad spell around there and was back in several mental hospitals,” Luckin recalls. “I don’t know if he knew about it [the tribute album]. By the time I think he came out, I’d not seen him for a year or two and he was in really bad shape. He’d been sent to Missouri or something and that didn’t have anything to do with drugs, he’d just been by himself for so long. I never asked him what he thought of that tribute album actually, I bet he would have liked it.” After a custody battle Erickson was taken from the care of his mother (who believed firmly in not allowing Roky any drugs, including prescription medication for his schizophrenia) into that of his brother’s (who did), and since the early-to-mid 2000s Roky has been on the up and up, playing music again and also live shows, both solo and also with the Black Angels as his backing band playing 13th Floor Elevators material. In 2008 he was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the Austin Music Awards and in 2010 he released his first album of new material in 14 years with Okkervil River as his session band. In 2012, at the age of 65, he toured Australia and New Zealand for the first time. Now back with his first wife Dana again it would appear that, for now, as his album title suggested, true love cast out all evil.
james the successor –
Reader, we have a problem – the medium of this article is flawed. After about forty minutes with James Holden, we reach the nub of the issue:“I feel like music expresses so much more than words,” he says, attempting to explain his inability to articulate the emotional themes on his latest record,“but in such an abstract manner that you’re losing bit-depth if you try and translate it into words.” He backs up his digital compression analogy by citing the neurologist and science writer Oliver Sachs – the DJ, producer and Oxford University maths graduate is not afraid of an academic reference point or two. “Sachs showed that when people listen to music, their whole brain lights up – not just auditory centres but motor centres, memory, cognitive evaluation, the whole brain. So of course you can’t transfer that down to words,” Holden points out, “because words don’t connect to that much of your brain – they’re only localised.”
And there we have the premise: music as the emotionally lossless wav files to language’s crumby and compressed mp3s, stripped of the experiential nuances that make it so exciting and addictive. It’s a compelling argument and, unfortunately, rather renders the act of converting a musical experience into a few paragraphs of cheapened approximations at best daunting and, at worst, futile. The logical conclusion: Holden’s new album is called ‘The Inheritors’ – go listen to the source. Why accept this paper-based mono conversion when you could have pristine 5.1 emotional surround sound at the click of a mouse? If we were to keep things pure and good, the following account of an hour spent with Holden should really be rendered as a piece of music as abstract but approachable as his.Thankfully though, as that would be both impractical and impenetrable, Holden offers an
out: “You can write about music, but it’s this overreaching that gets me. It’s okay to say what you get out of music, I think, but to say that I’m putting these sine waves together purely to express what it feels like to go through the Scottish Highlands would be really reductive.”
someone who’s only on his second For album (and who dismisses his first, from 2006, as merely “a bulk plus some DJ tools”), Holden is something of a veteran producer. His first singles came out when he was still at Oxford in the late nineties and were, in his own words, “basically trance. At the time I was into that and Mogwai without realising that it’s essentially the same music – dynamics, repetition, an emotional payload at
photographer - phil sharp
w r i t e r - s a m walton
For a producer that doesn’t go for talking about music, Holden has a lot to say about the experimental side of his artform and his 2013 highlight ‘The Inheritors’
the end – but with different social signifiers.” Being slated as the next John Digweed, however, didn’t suit; a hyper-restrictive record label that demanded Holden only make progressive house, paired with his assessment of the genre as “loads of swooshy noises, trying to be clever, devoid of interest and super conservative”, marked the first in a series of encounters where Holden felt the need to kick against the very thing that was offering him success. He would do it again a few years later after his remix of Nathan Fake’s ‘The Sky Was Pink’, an 8-bit-infused slithering techno monster, became an underground hit, this time on his own Border Community label. “We were just aiming to put out beautiful unique records,” he explains of the imprint he set up with his girlfriend in 2003. “But once we’d had that wave of success, there were other people making terrible copies of what we’d done, which made me see the flaws in it all, and made me want to go further. It’s a difficult process to keep going and leave those people behind.” Uncomfortable restlessness, it would appear, is par for the course. Holden agrees: “Thinking that you’re stuck on one thing and going,‘no, I’m not that, I’m the other’, that’s like a continual part of the last fifteen years for me.” For his latest rebellion, which began surfacing several years ago on remixes for Radiohead and Mercury Rev and reached its artistic zenith on ‘The Inheritors’, Holden has shifted away from both his own gridded style of techno and also the current vogue in electronic music for order and polish: ‘The Inheritors’ veers between acid, krautrock and smeary free jazz with a ramshackle aesthetic whose muckiness and unpredictability is closer to no-wave art punk than anything electronically synthesised. It lurches in and out of time signatures and conventional tonality with a woozy, bleepy confidence, an effect achieved by the tracks being recorded pretty much live on a modular synth – essentially a patchwork quilt of specialised analogue electronic instruments that the user can string together in whatever way suits, and which behaves differently depending not just on the internal settings but also, much like a traditional musical instrument, on things like temperature and how hard it’s played. True to form, that desire for otherness was something that preoccupied Holden: “The underlying ideas on the record are just a reaction against all this digital, straightass dance music, so I did everything opposite,” he explains. “I remember being in an orchestra when I was a kid, and the conductor saying, ‘here’s the bit where it slows down, but you lot won’t be used to that because all modern pop is on the grid, and has no soul’. At the time I was just like, ‘fuck you, you elitist classical prick!’, but actually it stuck with me, and I’ve realised that looseness is a really big part of music that’s vanished in the last five years, since computers became really practical for music making. But your brain is better than that – your brain is trained to pick patterns out of a mess.” Indeed, that act of foraging and deciphering is one of the defining characteristics of ‘The Inheritors’, the mess a direct result of Holden building deliberately chaotic systems within his recording set-up. “Introducing errors was quite a lot of what I was aiming for,” he explains as the conversation turns to how exactly he puts together these impossibly knotty pieces of music. The short answer is that he writes his own software, builds his own
instruments that react to each other, and then leaves them to wend their own way naturally, steering them occasionally until there’s a web so intricate that even he’s not sure how it came about. Not that this aim is anything conceptually new, he insists: “With something like Debussy, you don’t hear the individual notes, you hear the cloud of it, the shifting shapes,” he explains. “I want to create the same thing, something that’s indescribably complicated, but instead of being planned by some dickhead who thought he was being clever, it just happened, like nature.” This naturalism is important to Holden, too, it would seem: “There’s a nice question that surrounds whether you make music or just find it,” he begins, scrabbling to articulate his creative process. “Like, was it there all along, and you’re just discovering it? I actually think it’s a bit like prospecting for oil – it’s there, but you’ve got to know where to dig, otherwise you’re not going to find it.” To extend the metaphor, then, now that Holden’s struck oil, can he explain where it’s come from, and maybe what the dense textures and layers that it comprises of actually express? It’s at this point that he tells me that words are too lossy to describe music, but he gives it a go anyway: “I guess it comes from everything I’ve ever heard and thought in my entire life,” he begins to explain, before invoking Marcus du Sautoy, the Oxford Professor of Mathematics and Professor for the Public Understanding of Science with whom Holden recently took part in a “performance lecture” at The Barbican. “Marcus got onto this thing of how an idea in your head is just a networked connection of neurons, so all ideas are basically encoded as shapes in high-dimensional space. So music is just shapes in high-dimensional space, and those shapes are just informed by what else has come in. “So it’s all just a sequence of ideas and rhythms – things that are causing you to release dopamine and other interesting neurotransmitters. But I don’t find that sad, or cold, or overly scientific. I mean, being in love is just a rush of chemicals, but that doesn’t make it any less special – there are only a certain number of people in the world whose personality is the right set of highdimensional shapes to fit with your set of highdimensional shapes.” At this he laughs, acknowledging the amusing dryness of his description of love, imagining how it would perform as a seduction technique, then continues: “And it’s not just chemical, but all the matrices of connections within you, that dictate compatibility – that’s why my music isn’t for everyone, I think.” That’s a long way to say “I don’t really know”, but it’s an argument that’s convincing in the same way that Holden’s album is: on the surface it’s too much of a headfuck to take in, academically it can be broken down and parsed rationally, but it’s at the instinctive, almost subconscious level that it really appeals. Like a Rothko painting or a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, ‘The Inheritors’ is the kind of record that people may not be sure they necessarily understand, but just know they really like. “Well that’s it,” Holden assures with a smile. “Then they’ve got it.” Then again, if comparisons with experimental romantic poets and abstract expressionist painters make ‘The Inheritors’ sound like it’s not for the faint-hearted, Holden is okay with that, too: “I don’t expect everyone
to get it, but I’m fairly confident that there’s enough people who do that I haven’t just been wanking in front of a mirror for the last two years! I mean, there’s no such thing as weird anymore, anyway – you can go on YouTube and listen to Xenakis and Don Cherry and it’s free and it’s there in front of you, and you can read Wikipedia and understand where they came from. I mean, if you think some music’s really weird, well maybe you should just listen to some more music, and put in a bit more work.” Aware of his slight matronly tone, Holden qualifies himself.“I do expect work from my listener, yes, but not while they’re listening to my records – I want that to be an effortless, experiential process.” That striving for effortlessness is reflected in how Holden tries to compose too. “I’m deliberately aiming for situations where my conscious brain isn’t really steering. That’s part of playing live – being in the moment, having a machine that you don’t know how to play, and reacting faster than you can think. The rest of your brain is much better than the conscious bit. The conscious bit trudges along to conclusions, but in terms of making music, you have to switch that part off as much as possible.”
reasonably obvious that the conscious bit of James Holden’s brain is pretty scientific. In our hour together, he relishes analysis, always suggesting hypotheses and looking for proofs, challenging theories and exercising careful clarity of thought. But he’s also a romantic – just as often in the course of our conversation, Holden describes his scientific creative methods as nothing more than facilitators for attaining a sort of expressive higher plane – a kind of springboard to or backbone for untrammelled creative abandon, and the overall impression is initially a contradiction: a scientific artist, or a creative whose art depends on mathematical robustness. But as Holden’s very existence might suggest, that art/science split is a false dichotomy – it’s only since about 1945 that the arts and the sciences have really been thought of as diametrically opposed. In less constrained times, Lord Byron addressed the Royal Society, Percy Shelly reviewed papers on astronomy by the guy who would eventually discover Uranus, and the entire 19th century has numerous examples across all academic disciplines of the optimism surrounding what science could offer to the realms of creativity and discovery. And that enthusiasm exudes from Holden’s work too.“I think had I not made it in music I would’ve gone into engineering in some form, because making stuff, I really enjoy that,” he says, trying to explain what makes him tick.“But equally,” he continues,“the science is just enabling me to play. That’s all it’s for – to set up a system, or an instrument or whatever, that allows me to just, well, express, for want of a better word. The academic stuff has to be hidden away. I want to make schmaltz, really...” He trails off, searching for the right word, perhaps acknowledging that whatever one he uses won’t quite say what he means. “I don’t want to make academic music,” he finally says, unintentionally precisely. “I just want to make affective music.”
no distractions Manchester trio No Ceremony/// are finally ready to talk about their melancholic, semi dance music with Reef Younis photographer - elinor jones
Two years ago No Ceremony/// were a band determined to go against our raging age of over-information. Content to create and give away tracks online but reluctant to accompany them with any PR fanfare, it wasn’t quite anonymity but it was certainly a guarded self-protection. On the strength of the weight and beauty of tracks like ‘Hurtlove’ and ‘Feelsolow’, though, the spotlight that’s shone so gratuitously on so many became a searchlight for No Ceremony///. It became a very modern Catch 22 where no information can be just as delicious as too much and it’s an irony that hasn’t been lost on James, Kelly and Victoria. In 2011, they were firmly focused on just getting their music out into the world with as little fuss as possible, but now, with their self-titled debut album set for release this month, they finally feel like they have something to talk about. Reef Younis: Was it frustrating that your decision to avoid doing the usual PR buzz became so much of a focus early on? James: “It was but at that point we didn’t really do any interviews and just kept quiet to get on with the music. It was a hard one to judge but I remember we played a festival and were listed as ‘Anonymous’, which is an interesting genre to be part of. “We didn’t do it as a way to generate interest, we did it because we just didn’t want to engage with writing press releases, doing interviews and photo shoots and stuff. We wanted to shape our sound, write, and spend our time and energy doing that. It takes a lot out of you and I guess when you do press releases you have to… not cheapen, but justify it, and I don’t think that’s healthy for a new band. You want to explore every avenue of your sound without worrying about the implications or how you’re going to justify it later.” RY: You emerged with a few free singles a couple of years ago – that can be an eternity in terms of how quickly the landscape can shift.Was it a decision to wait and build up to this point? J: “Yeah, we wanted to do a lot of touring because that’s been a big aim for us – to travel and take the music out live. We certainly didn’t want to rush ourselves because in the genesis of something, you don’t want to sell yourself short when you could be experimenting and doing something interesting. With production, you
w r i t e r - r e ef younis
tend to get pushed into sounding a certain way, and we wanted to produce it ourselves, which was a big part of the reason in setting our own parameters, finding our sound, and just following the different threads to just see what we could do. We’ve been writing the whole time and it’s interesting it has been two years. We started touring about 6 months after we gave ‘Hurtlove’ away online and I think it’s been good for us as a band to take that time.” RY: Listening to the album, there’s a lot of weight and melancholy to it as a whole. Was it the intention to make it sound so profound? J: “I think the sort of music we all grew up with has that sort of melancholy in it, and that thread running through it. You can mix in quite hooky melodies with sad lyrics or a dejected mood and I think someone like Joy Division had that juxtaposition of heartbreaking lyrics with a catchy melody and it’s an interesting space to occupy. “We were also listening to a lot of dance music from Germany at the time and we wanted to make a track that brought that influence in. I think it’s also kind of got that slightly industrial, slightly gloomy side to it.” RY: It also feels like there’s a kind of dreamy element to it… J: “We definitely wanted to capture a certain mood, something quite nocturnal. I don’t think it’s dreamy but there’s definitely a shifting sense to it. We’re into stuff like Burial, Four Tet… and I really like the nocturnal, beautiful atmosphere that those records have. I like the slight vague unease, and threat.You get tracks like ‘Dog Shelter’, which is really hazy, dark music but it’s quite beautiful at the same time.To be honest, we didn’t really sit down and have an agenda; the mood from the album just came out of the songs themselves.” RY: Some parts also feel like subtle nods towards the dance-floor too. Did you aim to give it that energy? J: “Yeah, we wanted to do stuff that people could dance to that was quite considered and thoughtful but had a slight rave element to it.We didn’t want to go ’90s house or anything, just more in between the space of certain genres and not sitting in one particularly. We all kind of grew up listening to The Prodigy and it’s quite intense and challenging but there’s lots of interesting stuff like Pantha Du Prince, which is dance music but not quite. Sometimes it all just locks in on a track like
‘Black Noise’ where everything hits a groove three minutes in and you don’t really know where it began or where it ends. I think it’s a really interesting challenge listening to it. I think music like that is quite confrontational in a lot of respects and Flying Lotus does that really well: you’re not sure whether to just listen to it or dance to it.” RY: You mentioned touring was a big focus for you early on: did it help give you an idea of how you wanted to make the album? J: “Yeah, but it was pretty unorthodox. Some of it was mixed on headphones in the back of a van travelling between countries and some of it was done quite traditionally in the studio.There were definite blocks of time where we’d just cut off and work on specific tracks but it was quite a continuous process and I really enjoyed letting the tracks develop and breathe. Some of them we’d start and come back to later, some we’d produce really quickly and get them out because we always wanted to give away free tracks. I wouldn’t say there was a set way of how we put things together.” RY: Some bands enjoy the prospect of blindly hurtling into a debut, where you were a bit more considered. Was there anything that challenged you more than you thought? J: “I think working with [Pixies guitarist] Joey Santiago was really interesting because he definitely took the song in a very different direction to what we had, and we loved that.‘Heartbreak’ was written as a fairly gentle song on piano and developed into this heavy, bassdriven dance track with awesome guitar sounds. Originally the chorus was a piano riff so it’s nice to be open to changing songs like that and not be too rigid.” RY: You alluded to it earlier but it sounds like you have no problem getting tracks done and letting them go quickly… J: “I think you need to learn to not squeeze the energy and life out of them. We work with a brutal ethos: if we don’t all agree, we don’t use it. It’s quite painstaking in some ways, but I think we’re quite harsh and unsentimental in terms of our own music. There were a couple of tracks we went back to several times, like ‘Away From Here’, which [Irish singer songwriter] James Vincent McMorrow contributed vocals to, and that went through various iterations. Other tracks like ‘Feel So Low’ came together in a matter of days.”
RY: Has that helped shape how you’ll approach things in future? J: “I think at the moment we’re still focused on how we can take the current tracks into a live setting and how we can progress and improve those to make the best show possible.We’re always writing and we do a lot of remixes for other artists, and explore different techniques and production for putting tracks together, so we’re always playing with ideas. We haven’t started working on anything new specifically.” RY: In terms of the live show, how do you see it working: is it a case of avoiding mirroring the album as much as possible? J: “It’s a case of trying to make it more exciting, really. I think you have to be a little restrained with it, so you don’t lose the atmosphere and energy of the original track but we like experimenting to see what the song could be. I remember seeing Radiohead years ago and never realising the bass sounds and synth sounds, which were buried in the mix, come out live. It made it much more intense because essentially you’re engaging with an audience when you play live. On record, it’s a different relationship but I think it’s an interesting dynamic to play with. “For ‘Feel So Low’, we’ve extended it, and made it quite guitar heavy at the end, which it isn’t on the album.
‘In interviews there’s always the risk of over-explaining yourself’
We just don’t want it to be a case of playing the album as it is, because I think that’s a bit staid. I’m always a bit disappointed when bands play everything as is it – it just feels a bit flat.” RY: Thinking back to the initial reluctance to do interviews etc. does it feel more natural now? Do you regret doing more? J: “Ha! Well, we didn’t do many at the start for a lot of these reasons. We just wanted people to listen to the music and put whatever values on it they wanted. I think there’s a bit of a culture now where you’re expected to explain it or think about it in that way, and I think people feel the need to justify what they’ve done. In my opinion, a lot of things just happen instinctively. “I read an interview with Jack Barnett from These New Puritans and he was labelled as being quite sullen and non-communicative in the interview because he wouldn’t give a coherent, logical thread of why they made the album the way they had. To me, his reaction made sense because he hadn’t been asking himself those questions and it’s interesting that the response from the journalist was that he was disengaged. Often you’re not justifying it to yourself, you just do it. I think in interviews there’s always the risk of over-explaining yourself because it’s quite an unnatural conversation, but there’s definitely a responsibility on both sides.”
space oddity â€“
Michael Collins shares his name with the Astronaut that flew Armstrong and Aldrin to the moon. As lo-fi ‘non-musician’ Salvia plath, he’s somehow more out of this world, and yet most fascinated by the life he encounters in his nomadic quest for simplicity photographer - nathanael turner
“I’m strange,” Michael Collins informs me for a third time. “Everyone is inherently strange.To be honest with you, the people who say they’re not strange, I think that’s a more psychedelic lifestyle than the one I live,” he finishes in his not so strange Baltimore drawl. He’s right you know. The man is odd. We’ve deduced this within minutes of our conversation. To be frank, a cursory glance at Michael’s potted musical history would tell you everything you need to know about this eccentricity: anyone who used to call themselves Run DMT before moving on to the delectably dippy Salvia Plath must be a little unhinged, right? “A lot of people experience something good and they want to hold on to it for as long as they can, and I think that can lead to an unusual perception of reality,” he says. “Someone like me sees life as a constant stream that’s changing.The ability to float down it is the ability to live life to its fullest; you must accept being different and to constantly change.” I soon discover this kind of chat is typical Salvia Plath, a visionary philosopher one second and just plain funny the next. The world he creates is a lucid dream but the onset of sleep seems far away. Under his current guise Michael produces the prettiest of psych pop that jangles with a sparkling lustre, the result of which is ‘The Bardo Story’, a wonderfully trippy album, out now on Weird World.Whilst retaining some of the queerness of Run DMT it’s a far cry from the hypnagogic realm he sculpted in a previous life.The new incarnation of Salvia Plath is both Michael’s straightest and most successful musical project yet. He likes change, you see, and it’s always been that way. “The thing about me is that I’ve been travelling and jumping around for the last four or five years,” he tells me.“I’m in Los Angeles right now staying with the founder of Stones Throw records. I’m not really planning on living in one place, but California is a pretty nice area to hang out right now.” This nomadic lifestyle, this yearn for change, it’s always been part of Michael and he seems quite proud of the fact, telling me:“Sure, I grew up on a farmhouse in Long Island. In a sense I felt pretty alienated from the community because it was like a very WASPy [WASP being American slang for super privileged, rich East Coasters, derived from White Anglo-Saxon Protestant] new England suburb and I couldn’t relate to a lot of people there. I guess when I was younger I didn’t actually travel as such but I would travel in so many other ways – one of those was in my mind, obviously.” Even as a young man Michael flitted from one project to the next. “I guess it was a natural progression that I ended up at art school. At that time I wasn’t an artist I just thought I had the potential to become one.” Such
w r i t e r - ian roebuck
brazen open mindedness, anyone would think Michael just picked up an instrument and began playing too; an assumption seemingly true of ‘The Bardot Story’’s spindly, demo feel. “Well, I learnt to play music really by just making one good sound and then reflecting on it a while. I was never instrumental and I don’t know how to play,” he freely admits. “Sometimes, for instance, I’ll find an image and just by looking at that image I’ll pick up a guitar or go to the piano and start making the music. I’ll never know or realise how that happens.” Unorthodox maybe, but the results of this unusual methodology can be even more clearly heard in Michael’s earlier work. Run DMT had a minimal heartbeat inspired by cinematic repetition and warm, experimental sound. As for Salvia Plath, it’s seen Michael embark on a more traditional way of working that borrows from the bliss of ’60s folk music and drugs, and like the true traveller he is Michael has picked up friends and collaborators on his journeys. “A lot of people I’m playing with on ‘The Bardo Story’ are really, really good musicians,” he says. “They’re classically trained and they want to play with me and as I always thought of myself as a none musician, it’s a very sobering thing. It makes me realise that on both ends of the spectrum I can bring something.” Like all good home recordists, from Ariel Pink to R Stevie Moore (both of whom Michael is happy to say he’s recently met), Michael’s pretty good at just letting go. Recording ideas without pretence or musical values must sometimes be a positive? “Without a doubt,” he nods. “There’s a lot of people who know music a little too much, if you know what I mean; they wish they could not know and jump around from style to style with all this freedom which is basically what I have been doing.” ‘The Bardo Story’ is something of a fidget that revels in its shape-shifting nature, and as an artist this desire to hop from medium to medium is ever present. A good portion of our chat is taken over by Michael’s filmmaking
‘A lot of people mistake my lifestyle for being more psychedelic than their own’
ideas and predictably they’re spirited in their originality. He explains: “Being in LA, I was talking to some filmmakers the other day and I have this concept of mine about starting a movie with audio. I’ve been making these chord progressions, which are super minimal and I’m going to use actual dialogue from real life as a means to begin shaping narratives for stories. So essentially I’m most interested in what happens when you close your eyes and feel it. I think that’s a really interesting way to work.” The obvious question then, who are you snooping on? “I’m keeping it in my mind to record people whenever the opportunity arises really.The film will be a response to recent realisations of surveillance and outrages in terms of non-consensual privacy issues. Like my music, I’m fairly surrealist with film too. My ideas come from an understanding and appreciation of film makers like Jodorowsky and Godard who kind of let the camera be the writer in a certain sense.” Unsurprisingly, Michael’s free thinking, rather innovative methods derive from and extend to his music, too. Before Salvia Plath a project called One Hitter Wonders caught the attention of Domino subsidiary Weird World. In rather a brave move Michael asked the general public to write songs or poems for him to perform and it worked. “There were really only like 15 or 16 people who did it but those people were so surprising, which was very powerful. When they did these One Hitter Wonders they hadn’t written a song before, now they’re like, ‘I want to write songs!’ “I’m in the planning stages of tackling this again. Now I’d like to reach a wider audience and one of the ambitions I have for One Hitter Wonders is to not just have it on the internet so younger kids can do it but to work partially alongside public radio so that people can call for entries, I’d like to see more submissions from a larger walk of life, you know.” We’ve come this far with no mention of psychedelics and it’s tempting to sign off without a hit of herbal high or bong voyage, but inevitably that’s where we arrive, in roundabout fashion anyhow. “I’m fascinated in the real world you know. There is nothing like the real world and the inherent psychedelica of just living your life, definitely not on drugs.The perception is that I do a lot of drugs and you know the answer is no.” There is no denying Michael’s acceptance of alternative states, though, and his general curiosity as an artist.“That’s true, but a lot of people mistake my lifestyle for being more psychedelic than their own and the truth is in everyone I know there is a part of their life that I just can’t relate to and it’s totally alien to me. If everyone could understand that idea then people would be less quick to label other people as weird, or, in fact, strange.”
on the move Chichester trio Traams soon realised that their hometown just won’t do
The quaint cathedral city of Chichester may not be best known for its abundance of musical talent, but sometimes perceptions can be misplaced; occasionally out of these largely culturally starved bases grows something that offers a firm reminder that sometimes the most interesting bands spring up from the most unlikeliest of places. “There are loads of bands, just not a very supportive council.There’s nowhere to play in town, so no one gets the opportunity. Nothing goes on late, there’s no clubs or touring bands,” says Traams reliable rhythm keeper Adam Stock of his hometown, sat in the beer garden of Brighton’s The Albert, famed for the Banksy artwork on its outer wall. The middle ground of Portsmouth and Brighton is largely an area that is neglected when it comes to live music, and it’s in reaction to this that the band’s singer and guitarist Stu Hopkins set up his own night in central Chichester, where the three members of Traams not only first met but decided to make music together. Despite its shortcomings, Chichester is a place that has played an active role in both the band’s formation and progression – that the place has no recognised music scene may have been a benefit to the trio. It saw them head to Brighton, a city that has become a well known and fertile breeding ground for a very DIY-minded collection of bands that includes Cold Pumas, Sealings and Keel Her. Soon after their formation in 2011, they headed to London to record with Rory Attwell; in 2012 another recording session followed.The plan of what to do with these recordings afterwards was something that Hopkins informs me was largely unplanned at the time. “It was a bit haphazard,” he says. “We weren’t really sure. At first we just wanted to get some recordings done and sort some gigs.”
Brighton’s musical community took to Traams where their hometown had neglected them; a relationship that’s been strengthened by the band’s signing to local label Fat Cat, who’ll release debut album ‘Grin’ next month. It’s a partnership that came about by chance. “We were at a birthday party for our friend and while we were there we got chatting to this guy outside,” says Hopkins. “We were chatting for ages and it turned out that we knew a lot of the same people. The guy, Matt from a band called Milk and Biscuits, emailed us a little bit later, out of the blue, and said: ‘My mate’s having a birthday party, can you come and play?’ We were like, ‘Someone’s birthday party? Isn’t this going to be a little bit misjudged? Are you sure he’s going to want us?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, it’s a surprise party, he saw you and liked you, come play his birthday.’ So we thought we’ll do it, maybe a bit naively.” Traams’ innocence in agreeing to the show proved to be invaluable. The secret party, being held at the local Anarchist club The Cowley, was for an A&R representative of the locally based Fat Cat label. “It was lucky that we didn’t turn it down,” says the singer. If it didn’t directly lead to an agreement, it did at least help to accelerate proceedings – Traams’ own AlanMcgee-missing-his-train-home-and-catching-Oasisat-King-Tuts, only with melodic post hardcore that segues into krauty punk, and less proto dad rock. The initial recordings that were done with Attwell became ‘Grin’’s core material with “extra bits and bobs” (newer material) later recorded by Hookworms’ leader and Leeds producer Matthew Johnson. In many ways, as a guitar band with an Attwell/Johnson production combo, it’s all you need to know about Traams – distorted DIY for the people; ‘big sounding’ but economical; notably not of the bedroom, nor flabby and overblown.
“We just had too much music,” says bassist Leigh Padley, explaining how “bits and bobs” became bits and bobs and a whole other EP worth of material, some of which was released as ‘Ladders’ in June 2013. “We still have five or six more songs, recorded and ready to go.” “I feel quite fortunate that we have been able to write so much,” says Hopkins.“We don’t muck around too long; we generally try to write quick and get a demo down. Cut the fat and if it’s not working then we’ll scrap it. “When we first got together we originally spoke about making music that had a propulsion,” he continues. “We wanted to make people dance and to have fun.We didn’t want to be like Wolf Eyes and just make brutal noise, even though we do like noise. “We were a little bit punkier and faster, but ‘Swimming Pool’ [a waspy, mid-tempo track of singlemindedly linear guitars’n’drums and desperate vocals], which is the first track on the album, was recorded with Rory and I think that was the point where things started to change; it was relatively late and was one that just made it onto the first set of sessions – it was the bridge between that and the later stuff, where we started mucking about more with structures and other things. It just worked out that some were slower, I don’t think it was intentional or maybe Rory was just like, “play it fucking faster!’.” Perhaps more so than their peers, and like label mates Mazes, in that regard, Traams feel like a DIY band that aren’t closed to ideas beyond the stubborn and limited worlds of garage and punk.‘Grin’ has some of that plugin-and-play vibrancy about it, but also groove, melody and more besides. It’s Chichester’s loss.
p h o t o g r a p h e r - J A mes Kendall
writer - nathan westley
endings // beginnings Canadian trio Braids have been learning to live with a computer
emotional turmoil, personal growth and weight of lessons learned amassed during a single summer in your early twenties is probably more epic and deeply felt than that of an entire lifetime. So it is for the members of BRAIDS, the sparklingly industrious musical trinity hailing from Calgary (but based in Montreal), who exude a knowingness far older than their years. It’s two summers since the band, then a fourpiece, released ‘Native Speaker’, an album of striking complexity that garnered them plenty of attention for its sonically multi-layered and lyrically unabashed treatment of hazy, tumultuous youth. Lead vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston proved a fearless frontwoman, yelping and chirruping her way through tales of
feral sexuality and clandestine adventure, while the band chalked up support slots for Wild Beasts,Toro y Moi and Girls,award nominations and not undeserved comparisons to the more genius aspects of Animal Collective. Sitting before me now, BRAIDS look weary, but there’s an undercurrent of bristling energy that’s getting them through the promotion of their new record. It’s clearly a time of dichotomies. Exhaustion and energy, excitement and trepidation – the classic emotional cocktail of the bittersweet – evidently they’ve been through a thing or two since the halcyon days of their first record and a single listen to their new album, fittingly titled ‘Flourish // Perish’, would tell you as much. Drummer Austin Tufts (the specific owner of the
bristling energy) deftly sums it up for me:“Yeah… life is crazy”. Where ‘Native Speaker’ was wide eyed and daring, the new album is altogether darker, wiser and more knowing. Fingers have clearly been burned, hearts broken, friendships cut adrift. Keyboard player Katie Lee left the band at an unspecified time during the recording, and while I’m wary about tugging on a potentially delicate thread, the band are more than happy to get this particular hurt off their collective chest. “We tried for about 4 months with Katie to make it work,”Tufts explains. “She had problems, and we would try and change things. We’d talk for two weeks, play for a few days. Then after four months of going back and forth like that it became evident that this was a creative relationship that couldn’t be salvaged and unfortunately there’s not really much of a friendship left anymore either. We all wish it could have ended amicably. It’s a tough thing to ask someone, to leave a band.” “Especially,” adds Standell –Johnson, with marked sadness, “when they’re a best friend.” The cuckoo in the nest that catalysed Lee’s departure was a computer full of electronic sounds and a desire to radically change their process.Tuft’s continues:“Actually I found it very hard in the beginning too. Katie and I felt like we were left behind a little bit, with the integration of a computer and a totally new way of making music. It was a bit more like – what’s coming from your mind or heart, rather than what’s immediately on your fingers. Instead of jamming to create an energy or a vibe and then extracting all the best bits from it, we were starting with pure ideas, or amazing sounds and concepts and then we’d go from there.We spent a lot of time listening and talking and that was really hard for Katie; she didn’t feel as connected to the music.”
p ho t o g r a p h e r - l a u r a c o u l s o n
But with upheaval there’s always catharsis. StandellJohnson also cites a period of ‘crazy mental instability’ around the time of the first album and a difficulty to properly express up until the sea change of the last twelve months. On ‘Flourish // Perish’ it all comes tumbling out with melancholy fluidity and a raft of existential questions. “What are we living for? / What am I living for?” she sings on ‘December’. Other track titles shimmer around the corners of their experiential mindset,‘Together’,‘Fruend’ and the first EP release ‘Amends’, in particular pointing at something hoped for, or idealised in this saga of friendships. “There’s still a lot of emotion in the band and a lot that we’re experiencing in our personal lives, but we’re all very much together,” she says. “In the past I’ve felt like I was fighting against the band, against this project. But now it feels very healthy.” That desire for musical progression has paid off, too, and is immediately evident in the nine new tracks, which are boldly led by defiant beats and aching with an audible space in which Standell-Preston’s voice – noticeably less girlish and possessing of a new depth and resonance – has the freedom to roam. Tufts is harmonious on this point, saying: “there was a recalibration of us being like, ‘holy crap! Katie’s gone and we need to finish a record!’. But after that shock it was like the music literally started pouring out. From a month or two after she left to this moment, we’ve never been this creative in our lives, the music we’re making is the best music we’ve ever made.” The root of some of this creative epiphany is clearly the band’s third member, Taylor Smith, who remains silent throughout our meeting, only stirring at the mention of Aphex Twin and to disagree with Austin during a debate about the merits of remixes. His predication for British trip-hop and techno pleasingly matches up with the notes I’d made when listening to the record (including an eerie comparison that both I and a random sound engineer from a recent tour make to Massive Attack’s seminal ‘Teardrop’) with its slew of crisp, glacial beats and haunting codas. He remains mysterious, however, and lets Austin do the talking. “I’ll listen to a record, and be thinking, ‘holy shit, it would be so cool to be able to one day do that,’” says the drummer.“Then I go to sleep in the hotel room and Taylor stays up all night learning how to make that kind of music. He does almost all of the electronic work. We’ve been working together for so long now that he knows what I want, or I tell him and the next thing you know, that exact thing is at my fingertips on the keyboard.” These three are clearly not just musicians but avid students, serious about craft and ravenous for the new discoveries that the practice of playing together might bring.The emphasis seems to be on experience however, getting their hands dirty rather than just gabbing about it, “That was always something that really annoyed me,” says Standell-Preston,“not that I’d experienced anything else with any other band, but it was like, ‘god we talk so much, why don’t we play more!’” That’s the part that seems to animate them, playing live, cranking the bass to chest shaking volume, getting so giddy that loops trip over themselves, filling a space with sound. The communion of a live setting is seemingly safe and free from nerves, despite having to cope with the not inconsiderable challenge of replicating the intricacies of their sound outside the studio. Seeing just three people make that much noise might seem like a feat of sonic conjuring or sleight of hand, but they are adamant about playing everything for real. Tuft’s explains: “The computer is the brain for the sounds and then all the electronic drums I play live. We believe very strongly in playing live and pushing yourself as far as you can to be
w r i t e r - a m y pettifer
a good musician. I play the parts I enjoy playing, but then I also play the backing parts that I don’t so that I can know everything. It feels really fake when you see a show and you don’t know what’s live and what isn’t. It’s all created live and we all feel really good about that.” ‘Flourish // Perish’ is a soundtrack to both the infinitesimal and the epic, (there are those dichotomies again) or as they put it, “very much like going through the motions of a day, very naturally occurring. Not over glorified or glamorous or intense… like walking around, experiencing a moment.” A moment, or a day, or a couple of summers filled with instances of varying intensity – from the roller-coastering peaks to the domestic troughs. There is the sense that Braids tried to tame the animal urges of ‘Native Speaker’ and create more of a sense of intimacy and silence; the filtering of those starker techno influences, coupled with Liz Fraseresque vocals achieving just that. After all this imposed introspection, not to mention the eschewing of outrageous Canadian landscape and fresh air for months recording in a windowless garage, the band are looking forwards and outwards. “Yeah, I’m ready for it to be
easier!” Standell-Preston laughs. And they’re not all seriousness and control; they’re gleeful about travel, about picking up British phraseology (‘bits’ oddly is a favourite word), about the fecund Montreal music scene of which they are a part, about the AC/DC on the jukebox and most of all the ‘new, new’ music that they’re already making. The clouds are lifting and they want to capitalise on this new found clarity, get their chops up for touring and bringing ‘Flourish // Perish’ to their growing audience. Even in that title is the same sense of dichotomy – a push and pull of emotion and a fitting either/or precarity that they wisely know could tip its balance at any time. But it feels like both extremes, through their worldweary but life-giddy lens, are bathed in a pleasing kind of glory. Their trademark restraint is likely to protect them from disaster anyhow – as Standell-Preson confides: “I’m really glad that title came, I was going to do drugs to try and come up with one but I haven’t done them and I don’t really want to. I still have them in my desk!” Braids have been on enough of a journey of late.The last thing they need is a trip.
the never ending story It’s difficult to predict a final scene for Oneohtrix Point Never, or imagine one altogether. After all, Daniel Lopatin idolises Stanley Kubrick, who taught him how to break free from the confines of narrative structure p h o t o g r a p h e r - g u y e pp e l
The music of Brooklyn based Russian émigré Daniel Lopatin as Oneohtrix Point Never has always been challengingly yet supremely amorphous, and the shape (or lack of) of his career has somewhat mirrored these idiosyncratic sonic maelstroms he has created. For almost every new record released, it has had a new home to percolate in, in the form of a new – or different – label. From No Fun and Arbor to Editions Mego and Mexican Summer via setting up his own label Software, Oneohtrix Point Never’s music has never stayed comfortably in one place for too long, its journey an evolutionary and expanding ether. For his latest LP, ‘R Plus Seven’, Lopatin finds a new home yet again at the perfectly fitting residence of Warp Records. On the ever-shifting OPN, he speaks to me from Boston the day after his birthday and nursing a hangover.“My only sort of analogy is the NBA,” he says. “Some players stay on one team their whole career and other ones sort of bounce around until they find the right fit. It’s kind of tedious to talk about because at the end of the day it’s just about me making my best educated guess as to what is going to be a good business decision. Artistically, sure, because you want to work with people that understand what you’re doing and give you a lot of rope, but that’s never been a problem anyway. So, I’ve been really lucky and I’m very grateful to all the people who have given me an opportunity to put my records out. All my records are different so I just try to find the right home for whatever phase I’m going through.” Many attributed 2011’s ‘Replica’ as something of a breakthrough album for Lopatin’s project, but as he moves up the career and exposure ladder by signing to a brainy, electronic super-indie like Warp, coupled with a recent soundtrack inclusion on Sofia Coppola’s latest film The Bling Ring, I joke if 2013 is the year that OPN crosses over into mainstream cultural consciousness. He replies sincerely, “I hope so. For me I always align myself with the sort of view that the art on every single level… erm…, how do I say this?” He stops. “My hero in life is Stanley Kubrick and the first thing I learnt about Stanley Kubrick when I went deeper was while he appreciated European art-house cinema he never felt like those were the kinds of films he wanted to make – the idea of his films were, the scale was bigger, and he wanted to imbue lots of very complicated ideas and I think that’s one of the ultimate ways to exist as an artist is to attract as many people as possible. So, yeah I hope so, I’m trying to inch my way closer to everybody, it’s a dream of mine.” Much of OPN’s music is a trip. Be it through the melting, gloopy visuals that so frequently accompany the tracks, or the unpredictable nature of the records being void of anything in the way of conventional structure, they are – for want of a better cliché – a journey; a passage; worm-holes within worm-holes. But
writer - daniel dylan wray
the travelling life of Lopatin himself is rarely a creative impetus for such musical outputs. “My life is stuck between – what I would say is – mundane and tedious,” he says. “Somewhere in-between that. So I wouldn’t say I live a particularly adventurous life. I do a lot of travelling, but the way that travelling pans out is almost like my sense of adventure is handcuffed to the hotel that I’m checked into. I’m more of a cerebral traveller than anything else.” Likewise, absorbing sounds on the road isn’t something Daniel digests in order to reflect later through the channel of OPN. “Music isn’t necessarily a burden or something I dislike, but it’s so compelling and so intense for me that I really have to commit when I’m listening to music. I find it hard for it to ever be like wallpaper. So I just end up wanting to listen to people talking or having a discussion.” Moving on to speak about the creative process of ‘R Plus Seven’, he offers, “I wanted to make a record imbued with mystery, the kind of feeling I remember feeling watching The Shining or watching E.T or watching Eyes Wide Shut for the first time and not really understanding the narrative flow and having to question my dream state versus my reality state. I wanted to capture that a little bit.” He continues to offer insight into his thought process behind the record and its lack of narrative role, one which seems is wholly in debt to the craft of Kubrick.“I don’t like to connect musical practices with narrative practices at all,” he says, “because it’s really castrating – it’s castrating something that’s kind of an intuitively ephemeral thing. So when you want music to be like film, I think it’s a little strange, what I want it to be is to be an impression or a characterisation of narrative in that moment. So it’s very rare that I’m ever interested in a story, I’m more interested in a way a story might feel or the overall flow to it. For instance, [Kubrick’s 1975 film] Barry Lyndon is a very slow-burning kind of unravelling of a man’s sense of time. I like the idea of having a musically poetic idea to show the distance between a man standing on his two feet and having a sense of self to being hobbling on one leg and having nothing,” Lopatin concludes. “As much as this record is a journey, it’s non-specific for sure.” Fascinatingly, parts of the new album broke off from an idea its creator had for an Opera. “I wanted to write an opera, even though I didn’t know how,” he says. “I wanted to and the idea was basically: a composer begins to write his opera – there’s a lack of symphonic orchestra, it’s very choral – and as he starts writing it and the score starts reassembling itself and his voices, his characters start to kind of antagonistically deny the composer’s right to write this opera. Then it starts morphing and mutating into something sentient. I wanted to tease that out [in this record] because I wanted to, but I might never make an opera, so the record has the idea in it of
‘When I make a record I stand back and say, ‘Is it seductive? Does it leave me in awe?’’
the voices as being sentient or trying to change morphologically from what they are told to be to what they want to be.” Visuals have been as synonymous with OPN’s musical adventures as the music itself or the project’s creator. They are an integral, irrefragable essence found at the core of the creative process. I enquire about Lopatin’s visual experiences and whether he visualises the creative process from birth. “Yeah, although it’s always a little bit depressing,” he tells me,“because I find the visual expression is a bit like a valley I can’t cross and so the things I imagine and the things that I hear and the things that I wish for, very rarely can I activate them. So I live in that [visual] state for sure, but it’s also a little melancholic for me when I do that because you realise that the distance between the seeing and the manifesting is sometimes an impossible distance.The things I see are so much more interesting than anything I could in any way make.” When picking his baker’s dozen (favourite 13 albums)
for a Quietus feature a couple of years ago, the visual power of many of the records he picked (Edward Artemiv, Brian Eno, Herbie Hancock, Terry Riley) was somewhat inescapable, the visual draw of a record clearly holding a great deal of allure for Lopatin it would appear. “For sure,” he says. “I probably bought most of my records when I was seventeen or eighteen years old and that’s when I started going to record stores a lot and you just spend time flicking through – I bought so many bad records that had amazing covers. In a way, that’s very astute of you because I’d never considered it; perhaps there is something there, maybe I’m drawn more to the idea of a record as an entity in the world as much as I am the music on it. I’m a sucker for really creepy, really strange, really phantasmagorical art and I’ll just want to have it on my wall.” Lopatin’s interest in sci-fi is well documented and the transporting, other-worldly nature of the sounds and ambiences on his records has been omnipresent throughout his career. I ask if making something sound
like it’s from another place/planet links to the desire of making the listener feel like they are being taken to another world. “That’s so interesting,” he ponders. “I’ve never really considered that. I spend so little time thinking about what happens inside other people’s heads, especially considering my ambivalent sense of what happens inside me, that it’s almost kind of asking too much to craft an experience for someone else. But I know that I experience awe and I want that from music. When I make a record I stand back and say, ‘does this record have weird, addictive properties? Is it seductive? Does it leave me in awe?’ and unless I feel like something about it has seduced me, I don’t want to put it out because I can only hold myself to my own standard of what awe is. So I took quite a bit of time with this record because there were multiple attempts at making a record that would give me chills, you know, and it just didn’t work out for a while, so I just wait for that. I wait for that moment when I feel that and when I do I trust it and I hope that other people will too.”
Six Feet H igh An d Risi ng photographer - sonny mccartney
w r i t e r - d avid zammitt
Ki n g Kru le does n t l i ke gi v i n g i n terv i ews y et it s w h en h e s tal ki n g on th e record that h e s h is m ost v erb ose an d eloqu en t as Dav i d Za m m itt fou n d out ah ea d of deb ut alb u m 6 F eet B en eath Th e M oon Where better, I ask myself, to spend a scorching July evening than an industrial estate in North London? I’m there to meet Archy Marshall, who has been rehearsing with Mount Kimbie ahead of their live shows together this summer and so I’m directed to meet him near the practice space. Apparently his friend lives in one of the warehouses, which is hard to countenance when I arrive at the sea of concrete rectangles. The backdrop, however, seems perfect for us to shoot an artist whose music is founded on raw, jagged aggression and doggedly rough textures. The Loud And Quiet photoshoot is underway and as I get closer I see Marshall being directed to climb on to a discarded stack of wooden palettes. It’s a comical scene, his pale, deep-set face remaining expressionless throughout. The absurdity isn’t lost on the 18-year-old Dulwich songwriter, but while he’s quite clearly bored, he remains stoically compliant and doesn’t complain, instead choosing to entertain himself by contorting his limbs as he stares unflinching down the lens. Ennui aside, Archy Marshall is perfect for the camera. Under a shock of tousled bright red hair, his gangly upper limbs are covered by a long, button-down shirt that’s become his trademark, but although he cuts a striking figure, he winces in embarrassment when a member of his management company turns up to show him a sneak preview of his new video and a series of promotional close-ups. “Awww… no…” His unease drives home just how young Archy Marshall is. Over the next 45 minutes I watch him and his mate as they wander around the area’s dreary environs.When an ice-cream van arrives it seems to make a bizarre sort of sense, the Doppler effect of its passing chimes giving the scene an eerie, offbeat feel. I imagine that last month’s L&Q cover star, David Lynch, would be proud. A peeling sticker on the back of the van reads Mind The Children, but the gelatiere is greeted only by an orderly
line of fully grown workers from surrounding factories that had until now seemed completely derelict. Impressively, Mr Super Ices does pretty well, and Marshall and his friend are eager to add their custom. Despite the extensive menu at his disposal, Archy opts for a creation of his own; a double cone with lemon sorbet topped off with a dollop of whipped ice cream and chocolate sauce. We spend the next few minutes waxing lyrical about his and his pal’s choices. “You can tell it’s cheap,” the latter confides, “but it’s good, man. You know, in that cheap way.” Photo call rounded up, I ask Archy if he’s excited about our interview. He laughs. “I’ve done about 35 recently.” I take it as a no. Luckily he gets a reprieve when his partner finds that he’s locked out of the warehouse that he seems to share with an impossible amount of others. A few stones are thrown at the window, and we get a few odd looks but neither seem too flustered and it’s another reminder of our gap in age as my mind wanders to the logistics of tube routes and what time I might get home. Eventually we get settled down and, sensing that this might be hard work, I ask if there are any questions he would prefer not to entertain. In return, I receive a predictably pithy response; “I don’t give a fuck.” That, however, is where Archy Marshall’s reluctance ends. When we get around to discussing the nitty gritty of his life and his music, I find an endearingly articulate young man, blessed with an eloquence that belies his years. He seems to know exactly what he’s doing and where he wants to go. His self-awareness when it comes to his personality, his art form, and his own definitions of success are delivered with impressive succinctness, carefully choosing each and every word that’s delivered in his impossibly deep register. In a sea of chatter, where artists and journalists can babble on ad infinitum, his considered approach is refreshing. When I ask if the
music he creates is an outlet for a personality that he himself has described as “dry”, he agrees. “Yeah, the music’s perfect because it’s an acceptable face,” he says. “A lot of the thoughts inside my head and probably your own and probably everyone else’s; they’re unacceptable thoughts and I guess it’s just a way of putting a nice face to these unacceptable thoughts.” A lot of the attention around King Krule has centred on his voice. Half-croon, half-spleen, it rose out of a fundamental need to be heard. “It’s really about understanding that I got to be here in front of this mic,” he tells me. “It’s about playing live and I’ve been to so many gigs where no one was listening to me. I’d just be there and I didn’t know how to get people’s attention so I kept a really aggressive energy throughout a lot of my live sets and I started to get noticed for my voice.”While its raw physicality is one aspect, a lot of effort goes into controlling its range of dynamics. He says:“That’s where, I guess, when it goes into higher parts a sort of more emotionally tonal side comes out and then when I want to bring it down to a dry level I can. It’s very, very, very … what’s the word? It’s just very expressive and it feels – I don’t know how to explain how it happens, but it just feels really nice to do.” I say that it sounds like it feels satisfying. “Yeah, man. Really satisfying. Self-therapy.” His music is often built on a visceral kernel, but what makes Marshall’s music so captivating is its dichotomies. Out-and-out hostility is paired with achingly beautiful melodies right across next month’s debut album, ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’, marrying carnal punk howls to Reinhardt-style guitar lines on ‘Ocean Bed’ and stuttering trip-hop drum machines to lullaby piano motifs on ‘Neptune Estate’. And so while his aesthetic is unique in blurring its boundaries, there is a recurring deference to a number of distinct, ostensibly disparate genres.“I was always around a lot of hip-hop and a lot of modern music as well – dance music,” he says. “It just
comes from me taking in as much as I could.” The rockabilly of the late 1950s, however, is central to the King Krule style, and the mention of the era sends him off on an encyclopaedic checklist of touchstones, exuberantly recounting its folklore. “Yeah, it took me a while, man, but I was always surrounded by a lot of music so I guess it took me a while to actually get turned on by that music and start respecting it. It took me to be mature enough, until probably about 15, to start listening to music more in-depth – I guess not more in-depth but I just started digging through crates and trying to find more music and trying to find more musicians, so I guess that’s when it really came to a point where, like, I was listening to a lot of ’50s rockabilly.” Marshall has clearly done his due diligence, barely pausing for breath as he lists off the legends of that brief period. “I was really into the whole aspect of between ’56 and ’59. I guess it kind of died in the space of four years with Buddy Holly and his band getting killed in a plane crash, Elvis going to the army, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran in a car crash that killed Eddie Cochran, and Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 14 year old cousin and getting sent to prison. So I think, yeah, it was a really interesting time and had a lot of my heroes from growing up. I guess there’s references to Gene Vincent and there’s references to that rockabilly style.” Marshall’s relationship with music, however, goes back much further than that and he comes from creative stock. His mother was briefly a member of the postpunk band The High Bees, and his brother contributes the King Krule artwork. His uncle, who has played in bands since before Archy was born, was always a looming figure. “My uncle was a ska guitarist in a band called the Top Cats so I went to a lot of gigs and saw them play a lot. That’s one of the main influences in making me want to be a musician and wanting to create rhythms. I would always be listening to Ian Dury when I was young, too, and a lot of my family listened to him. I grew up in South London and I was around musicians and creative people. I’ve been going to gigs since I was a really young person so it’s just been a part of me, wanting to be a musician and wanting to write songs since I can remember. I don’t really see any other way.” But although he’s immersed himself in music since his formative years, he’s quick to point out that he’s by no means the finished article.“I’m constantly developing, I feel. And it’s kind of hard because obviously I’ve done a few releases now and people are trying to pin me to a sound or trying to pin me to genres and I’m always going to try to take on board as much as I can, and I’m always going to try to be developing, for sure.”
hile many musicians’ assertions that the best is yet to come might be taken with a sizeable pinch of salt, Marshall’s innovative credentials are obvious. Having rebranded himself from Zoo Kid to King Krule in the last couple of years, he has also produced work under the noms de plume Edgar The Beatmaker and DJ JD Sports, monikers that provide outlets for his more experimental ambient, dance and jazz bents. The side projects, he says, allow him to grow creatively, providing a rough canvas for his experimentation before he fuses those sounds together under the banner of King Krule. “I’m even working on new stuff as well. I think it’s just a way of easily developing.The King Krule stuff, I take from everywhere. With that other stuff it’s more related to trying to create a sound. It’s more a craft rather than the artform. I guess it’s just nice to produce and get into that side of things. I’ll keep releasing stuff not as Archy Marshall.” As well as the tutelage of his family, Marshall attended the BRIT School, a performing arts college in Croydon that counts Amy Winehouse, Jessie J, Adele (with whom Marshall shares a manager) and Katy B amongst its alumni.The mention of it elicits a smile from the singer, and he’s careful to employ a degree of diplomacy when discussing those names.“I haven’t really been a big fan of a lot of the people coming out of the school. I guess my music was picking up and the main thing I was worried about was trying to associate it with these other artists, but luckily enough the music spoke for itself.” Given the mainstream slant of the school’s graduates, I unfairly expect Archy to reject its influence out of hand, but he’s positive about his time there, telling me: “It was a really good educational system for me. I hadn’t experienced such a good one in my life in terms of the fact that it was ordered and it was educational in the sense of knowledge rather than the sense of growing up. I think that’s why I hold a lot of respect for some of the teachers there. A man called Derek Moir taught me a lot about history and social science. I guess that was a big thing.” It brings me on to the BBC Sound Of 2013, an award that he was nominated for, but eventually missed out on to California indie-poppers Haim. I suggest that he could have been catapulted into the realm of Jessie J and Mika. “I don’t know,” he says, “because I don’t even know the band that won.” Yet his disinterest doesn’t seem affected or forced and it’s certainly not meant as a slight on the winners.“I mean, all I can say is that I don’t have a TV so I don’t pay for the BBC to be about. I don’t
pay for a licence. I don’t know. It was a good feeling but it was something that I didn’t put a lot of heart behind. I just wanted to play the gig and get out there. To be honest I didn’t really pay attention to it until I got to play the gig in the studios, which was really nice. But I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really understand it,” he says with a smile, revealing that the very concept had passed him happily by. “I didn’t understand what was going on; whether I had to vote myself for other people or something. I didn’t understand the aesthetic of it.” Though the Beeb passed him over, admiration has come from likely and not so likely sources, yet Marshall’s been taking the attention in his stride as his star moves firmly into the ascendancy. He’s been quoted as saying that he fully understood why Beyoncé posted the video for new King Krule single ‘Easy, Easy’ on her Facebook page; his music is, after all,“good,” though a collaboration, he jokes, might be a while off. “Beyoncé, yeah, sure, man, I’ll meet up with her any day. I dunno, the only thing is that I’d be a bit scared of what I would say around her. I heard she’s quite Christian. But she seems cool and I love musicians and I think if you’re a musician and you’ve got a good word to say about another musician it’s really nice. So I’m happy that I’ve got that respect from those people, definitely.” As for Earl Sweatshirt, the similarly prodigious Odd Future rapper who tweeted a request for Marshall’s contact details, the possibility of working together remains open. “Earl, I haven’t met him, but I think I’m going out to L.A. so I’ll probably meet him out there,” says Marshall. “I don’t want to force anything. I want it to be a natural thing. I want it to be a casual thing. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It would be good to meet a fellow musician like himself.” One collaboration that has already yielded fruit is the work he’s done with Mount Kimbie and he’s effusive at their very mention. “It was almost, not in an overly cheesy way, but almost a dream come true for me because I guess I’d been listening to them so thoroughly. So when it came to actually working with them I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I love their music, I love their musicianship. I couldn’t describe to you the feeling it was playing with them.” As he speaks about rehearsing the two songs he recorded for their sophomore album ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’, his enthusiasm reaches a crescendo.“It was such a nice feeling. I couldn’t describe to you how happy it made me to play that song with them live. It was so good. I guess it’s more about the connection between us. I really respect Kai and Dom. I want to work with them in the future, for sure.”
nd so, we move on to King Krule’s own album. Despite his age, ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’ is the result of at least five years work and the first single to be lifted from the album, ‘Easy Easy’, is a song that he wrote at the age of just 12. For all its melodic directness, look beneath the surface and it has remarkable lyrical depth. The minutiae of detail – an out of date sandwich and a Tesco receipt – sketch a baldly vivid scene in the tradition of Morrissey or Mark E Smith’s kitchen sink imagism. As with his kaleidoscopic approach to sound, Marshall has spoken of his love for poetry, particularly W.H.Auden, while his affection for the written word in its most physical sense evokes the poems of E. E. Cummings.“It’s really hard to describe,” he says. “I guess a lot of people would say I’m slightly artistic. I see a lot of beauty in the aesthetics of letters alone, and the shapes of them, and the way the punctuation is and how you can… just the tones of a word. That’s how a lot of my lyrics were created initially; there are words that I’m almost in love with, and phrases that I’m almost in love with that I’ve created myself. I guess, lyrically, for me it’s something of a spilling on to the page. It’s really lucid at first and I write as many things as I can. I pick out whatever I can shout about and whatever I can really get out of my mouth. I dunno, it’s as much about the melody behind it as anything.” He speaks with gusto as he describes his technique. “It really empowers me when you’re talking about something that you care about, and let alone that, it sounds fuckin’ good so I guess it’s just me mainly wanting to shout out some stories and shout out a lot of emotions that I found that style. I always wanted to disguise it as well. I didn’t want people to see it for what it is, in black and white. I wanted people to feel uncomfortable in places. By uncomfortable I mean in fear of the unknown. Somehow it sort of relates to them and it’s quite open to interpretation a lot of my lyrics, and that’s what I like about them. But I’m constantly developing and I’m constantly reading more and I’m constantly writing better stuff. I’m just trying to keep going.” Born out of those teenage years, the album functions as a bildungsroman of the artist, its hero journeying through romance, sex, conflict and depression. It was important to Marshall to capture those early creations alongside songs that have been written in adulthood. “I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t get them on to vinyl, get them pressed, and they weren’t part of my debut collection,” he says.“But it was really, really fuckin’ hard to record them. We recorded them probably about 4 or 5 times and it was only until the last few months when things started clicking and happening. I don’t know, it was kind of as much a hard part just letting go of these songs that I’ve written that I feel will always be some of my best work. It was hard letting go of them because it’s just hard to say that that’s the final cut, but it was something that was just natural in the end.” I ask if he feels content with the versions that will finally be consumed by the public from August 24 (Marshall’s 19th birthday) and his answer is characteristically unequivocal. “Yeah, definitely.”
Despite its sonic diversity, one thing that ties the record’s sound together is how inextricably rooted in the nighttime each song seems to be, and Marshall admits that much of the album was created during the wee hours.“Aw man, I lived at night. Only until now, because I’ve started to work a bit more, I’ve just been literally getting up at three in the afternoon and going to bed at seven in the morning pretty much every day for the last, I dunno, three years. So I guess it’s natural that it’s really nocturnal. There’s probably no other way that it could have been.” Part of the reason behind the sumptuous realisation of this sound is the production of Rodaidh McDonald, a man who has helped shape the sounds of the The xx. “I think Rodaidh really… why I like working with him is that he really gets that,” says Marshall. “I feel with his production on the first xx record that he was really suitable for it, and he’s someone who’s probably more in touch with my sound better than I could be because I don’t have the knowledge and the knowhow and I can’t use a lot of the software and equipment. It was really good to have because he did show me a very… he did sort out a lot of sounds for me, forming it from being this rough project to something quite clean and quite grand in its own right.” Marshall says that the madness of the night, and its scope outside the confines of the daylight hours is something that is extremely attractive to both he and
McDonald, explaining: “I think it’s very, very nocturnal and that lunacy, the lunar life. We just experiment, man. We just experiment.” Having evangelised his music over the last couple of years to anyone who would listen, I consistently find myself telling people that they should watch King Krule’s space, that he’s the next big thing, and it occurs to me that I’m not exactly sure what that means. I want to find out, therefore, what Archy himself would view as success. “You know what, I don’t actually know,” he says. “What would bring myself a huge amount of happiness from the album is just getting the physical copy, the artwork, and being able to listen to it and being able to look at it, let it hit me that it’s happened and that I’ve actually been able to do this. And then on the other side, you know, what I love as well as that, people like yourself who are really, really into it – and I’m glad that it’s reached out all the way to Derry (my hometown) – that’s something impressive in itself. I guess it’s mainly… I can’t say whether it’s going to be big and I don’t care if it sells a lot and I don’t care if it sells a little. I just really want it to be a collection and just be sampled and fucked about with by other musicians and other people. I don’t know, I just like it being out there, you know, and that’s all I really want from it.” He pauses. “That and a fuckin’ massive yacht as well. A big yacht and ten BAFTAs.” He stops again for a moment and his eyes glint with mock pride. “For my acting.”
Loud AND quiet ALBUMS LIVE FILM REviews
Al bums 08/10
Arctic Monkeys AM
Factory Floor Factory Floor (DFA) By Sam Walton. In stores Sept 9
It’s hard to believe that this is Factory Floor’s debut album, given the length of time they’ve been a buzz band.When they first started making waves, and aggressive whitenoisespattered techno, in 2009, their contemporaries in the ones-to-watch columns were the likes of Cymbals Eat Guitars and some South London no-hopers called The xx – lest that not demonstrate that four years is probably enough time both to make and break a band. However, Factory Floor’s tectonic pace of development seems to suit them.Theirs is clearly a progress of the slow, robust evolutionary sort rather than the explode-and-burn-out, and their record has similar traits. Just as four years represents several geological eras in pop music, much about Factory Floor’s output has mutated considerably since the original burst of excitement that greeted their first couple of EPs and all-out-assault live performances. Most notably, they’ve ditched one of their most defining trademarks: the feral squeal and the fuzzed-out density of tracks like ‘Wooden Box’ is totally absent here; in its place a move into broadly, heavily textured minimal techno, with all the roominess and precision that implies. Indeed, there’s so much space on
opener ‘Turn It Up’ – the track consists of a wonderfully sparse, polyrhythmic drum pattern, an occasional, one-note 303 line and sporadic treated vocals – that you wonder initially if something’s dropped off the mix somewhere. While the rest of the album’s cuts fill out a little – ‘Two Different Ways’ and ‘Here Again’ both let their arpeggiated synths flourish naturally over the course of their eight minutes – the watchwords here are pristine cleanliness and a towering, stainless steel confidence. What’s been lost in the form of the early raw chaos, though, is made up for elsewhere and, given its atomic flawlessness, it’s a tribute to the band that the album remains so addictively tactile. Drum programs lurch in and out of sync with each other, pulling you further into the music as they mesh, disconcerting pitcheddown vocals offer a woozy detachment to each track and three deft interludes – the second of which featuring the album’s only splash of guitar – add a pleasing variety of aural texture and pace. The result has all the riveting, almost myth-generating anonymity of a masked illusionist, managing to grow stronger and more compelling throughout its running time while maintaining a lightness of touch that’s equally odd and admirable. For their first trick, it would seem, Factory Floor have pulled off a vanishing act so convincing that you can only stand and admire the empty space that they’ve left.
Arctic Monkeys have never been much concerned with advice. When they were a “great band with a terrible name” it made them want to change it less; on an early run of hit singles they deliberately released ‘The View From The Afternoon’ as an EP to stem the flow of chart success; near headlining Reading Festival in 2006 they filled their set with early demos; then they made ‘Humbug’ and ‘Suck It And See’ – a Cream-inspired, wantonly adult, desert rock album, and its slower, even less pop counterpart, notably void of any real singles. For ‘AM’, the band have no doubt continued to please only themselves; it just so happens that it’ll please old fans too. It’s still inspired by – and indeed features – Josh Homme, but where Arctic Monkeys had once turned their back on humour and hooks,‘AM’ is full of both. It’s their third – perhaps even their second – best record, and yet one that can only exist in a world alongside the monster dick rock of ‘Humbug’ and the elongated croons featured on the sluggishly mid-tempo ‘Suck It And See’.The tracks instantly swagger from the Californian desert from whence they were conceived, with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’“crawling back to you”, although,“prowling after you” seems more appropriate. Originally a Record Store Day B-side,‘R U Mine’ could be the one featuring Homme, combining deep blues fuzz riffs and a machinegun lyrical delivery that Alex Turner largely abandoned on the band’s last record.The same goes for ‘Arabella’ – indebted to Led Zeppelin’s stop/start guitar attack, with added falcetto backing vocals reminiscent of Klaxons’ future pop, later taken to town on ‘Knee Socks’. A true ballad doesn’t arrive until track 6, but even that is far less wallowing than what we’ve come to expect from an AM weepy.
Photography by Leon Diaper
(Domino) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores Sept 9
NO CEREMONY/// Jackson Scott
Loud City Song
(NOC///) By James West. In stores Sept 2
(Fat Possum) By Josh Sunth. In stores Sept 9
(Sacred Bones) By Joe Goggins. In stores Aug 26
(Domino) By Chris Watkeys. In stores Aug 19
(Jagjaguwar) By James West. In stores Aug 19
Like 2010’s ‘Crystal Castles (II)’, NO CEREMONY///’s selfreleased debut album is both studied nostalgia and overt futurism. Emotive, instant and somewhat beguiling; the enigmatic trio have made a record of flawless pop, albeit with a fiercely nonconformist aesthetic that wouldn’t have been out of place under The Haçienda’s ricocheting strobes. ‘Hurtlove’ is the blueprint; its universally unifying chords could be lifted from a major chart smash, but they’re wonderfully decorated with manipulated vocals and a skewed production, which consequently cloaks the whole thing in enticing mystery.You may have swerved the Mancunians on account of their off-putting pretension so far, but this perfectly executed eponymous LP will be more than weighty enough to render any such preconceptions null and void.
Based in North Carolina, and probably even more at home staring into his bedroom ceiling, Jackson Scott is the sort of singersongwriter for whom the art is in the introspection. “A lot of the songs are just about random, metaphysical, weird thoughts that go through my head,” he said in a recent interview, and it’s easy to see ‘Melbourne’’s strange vocal distortions, its languishing melodies and hazy guitar strumming as merely an extension of Scott’s musings – based more on his own identity than any external musical influence. Of course, this makes for a unique batch, and tracks like ‘Any Way’, with its pitch-shifted crooning, or ‘Together Forever’, with its feedback swells, are pristine lo fi pop. It’s a shame that ‘Melbourne’ is far too preoccupied with looking at itself – distorting itself into these strange shapes – to really assert its identity as an LP.
Destruction Unit is one of the more apt names I’ve come across, perhaps ever; on ‘Deep Trip’, the group set about laying waste to the listener’s eardrums with all the subtlety and nuance of a pneumatic drill. Describing their sound as “morphine boogie for the 21st century noise addict”, ‘Deep Trip’ frame the Arizona band as the rawer, punkier cousin of A Place to Bury Strangers, with opener ‘The World on Drugs’ setting the tone via walls of feedback crashing over racing drums and frontman Ryan Rousseau’s booming vocals, which grow steadily in prominence as the climactic crescendo nears.The standout, superb slow burner ‘Bumpy Road’ proves that one hundred miles an hour is by no means a non-negotiable pace, and while ‘Deep Trip’ is not the year’s most original garage noise record, it is refreshing to hear a debut album delivered with such little restraint.
Los Angeles resident Julia Holter’s third album in as many years marks her as prolific, and clearly overflowing with artistic intent, here she channels that creative instinct into a record that perhaps defines her vision – lightly jazzy, formlessly floaty, and determinedly abstract. ‘World’ is like the soundtrack to the opening credits of a French film in black and white, while ‘Horns Surrounding Me’ betrays tinges of the much more coherent Bat For Lashes. But ‘Loud City Song’ is largely overly delicate and strangely impactless, like Lavender Diamond minus the emotion and joy. It’s hard to draw much pleasure from listening to it, in fact.‘He’s Running Through My Eyes’ displays some warmth and feeling, but for the most part this feels a little bit like being dragged along to witness a friend’s first attempt at experimental theatre: mostly painful, and thoroughly tedious.
The synthesis of two jazz students and a female with a remedying coo doesn’t exactly sound enticing, but fears of spaghetti progressions and aneurism-inducing melodies soon evaporate with this debut album from Toronto trio DIANA, who might well have a stonewall hit on their mitts. Sure, there are virtuosic tendencies and occasional flirtations with the complex, but over these 8 tracks it’s all about the right balance, as the band coat their challenging dexterity with a sheen that’s both inclusive and immersive. ‘Foreign Installation’ could be Goldfrapp at half-speed, while the ‘Perpetual Surrender’ is wondrously sparse, all gliding bass and Fleetwood Mac-ish percussion. Best of all, it culminates with one of those evocative strangled sax solos, the sort that were once Clarence Clemons’ bread and butter for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Addictive soft pop.
Forest Swords Engravings (Tri Angle) By Daisy Jones. In stores Aug 26
Some of these down-tempo, murky electronic tracks can feel like a let down on record. Sure, they might make for an atmospheric film score, or a rousing element at a sound installation, but there is always the risk that they could come across a little laboured when left to fend for themselves.This latest body of songs from Matthew Barnes aka Forest Swords is not in need of these superfluities, and ‘Engravings’ manages to remain accessible without sacrifice. Completed in the space of a year, the resulting concoction is one that is as refreshingly organic, slow paced and engulfing as the Wirral peninsula where Barne’s debut album was created. Since 2010 EP ‘Dagger Paths’, Barnes’ sound has refined – his beats sharpened, vocals more pronounced – while dub and drone still collide with a disturbing beauty, from the mesmerising, ghostly vocals of ‘Ljoss’ to the bleak, industrial, train-like beats of ‘Onward’ and the gothic guitar of ‘The Plumes’, a track that could be lost from The Cures ‘Disintegration’.
Al bums 08/10
Crime of Passion
(Infectious) By Josh Sunth. In stores Aug 19
(Morr Music) By Amy Pettifer. In stores Sept 2
(Zoo Music) By Sam Cornforth. In stores Aug 19
(Kranky) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Aug 26
(Drag City) By Reef Younis. In stores Aug 19
When Labour MP Tom Watson namedropped Drenge in his resignation letter to Ed Miliband a few weeks back, Eoin and Rory Loveless’s shuddering post-punk became the centre of a maelstrom of media attention.Yes, they had released two candid, confident singles, and their debut LP was on the way, but it was the mentioning by an outgoing politician that garnered publicity.Turn to ‘Drenge’, the LP, and what you find is certainly far more deserving of your attention. Underpinning Eoin’s spittle-flecked yelping is the sort of devotion to consistently chugging riffs you’d never expect from two barely-twentysomethings, and from the riotous chorus riff of single ‘Bloodsports’ to the breakdown of ‘Let’s Pretend’, the album’s eight-minute centrepiece, ‘Drenge’ characterises perfectly the frantic dissatisfaction of the young and the bored.
It’s a bummer for múm, and not entirely their fault, that pop music from Iceland has such a specific aesthetic and such a well-loved queen.That is to say that the bits of ‘Smilewound’ that involve songs about being quiet, or sound like being trapped in a toy box while someone stage whispers at you in Parseltongue, are difficult to take seriously. However, they do have a knack for nimble, shimmering production and you can’t help thinking that if múm were roped in to rework the top 40 it would be pretty interesting.The first and best track here,‘Toothwheels’, is masterful, all languid viola and brooding beats that could easily take a serious R&B vocal. Elsewhere there are ZX Spectrum freak-outs, rustling soundscapes and an upbeat song about killing someone with a candlestick – a shrewd move to avoid the dinner party chillwave genre that would otherwise beckon.
Crocodiles last record, ‘Endless Flowers’, saw the San Diego duo loosen their jaw-clenching grip on their proverbial noise rock crown. Back with this fourth album, Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell have opted for an eruption of groovy melodies ridden with nostalgia. ‘Heavy Metal Clouds’ is a jazzy jewel with its stomping arrangements and an outrageously fun mini guitar solo, ‘She Splits Me Up’ is Crocodiles at their rideinto-the-sunset best, whilst ‘Marquis De Sade’ is as saucy as the French aristocrat it was named after. At times though, the Californian’s old Achilles heel of just doing enough seeps through, as some songs (‘Me and My Machine Gun’ and ‘Virgin’) sound like they have been left undercooked so the boys could leave the studio to light up a big one. Regardless, on the whole, Crocodiles have got their bite back.
After their excellent, Steve Shelley-featuring,The Fallindebted, 2012 album ‘Pre Language’, and the delightfully engulfing ‘Kone’ EP of earlier this year, Disappears are clearly a band as nonplussed about slowing down as they are about remaining sonically consistent.‘Era’, then, is yet another fork in the road for the group; one that they take with hurtling speed but blissful ease.The sounds on this album are washed down with a heavy glug of psychedelia, all coated with spacious yet churning chugs of unrelenting guitar. It’s equally rhythmic and capacious throughout. ‘Ultra’ drives with the manic pounce and malevolence of Throbbing Gristle while ‘Elite Typical’ is a prolonged, sinister death dance groove that grumbles with Liars and PiL-like mania and allurement. Disappears are a group capable of forging new identities and personalities with every record.
The prolific frequency with which Ty Segall has churned out LPs should have made them half-baked efforts of equally half-assed lethargy. But if ‘Twin’ taught us anything last year, it was that this multiinstrumental, band-happy polygamist is making it sound increasingly easy. Here,‘Sleeper’ moves with the intent of a hot, drowsy afternoon. Caked in thick, fuzzy hooks and drifting melodies, there’s something gloriously hazy and heavy-lidded about Segall’s drawling vocal and ever-evolving guitar lines.‘Come Outside’ and ‘6th Street’ heavily evoke BRMC’s bittersweet acoustic atmospherics,‘The Keepers’ is rough and raw, threatening like an And You Will Know Us… track minus the bombast. It paves the way for ‘The Man Man’ to detonate the squalling rock blast that’s simmered in the background throughout, but for the most part,‘Sleeper’ is a set to while away the lazy hours to.
John Wizards John Wizards (Planet Mu) By Reef Younis. In stores Sept 2
Eclectic is a term that gets abused and horribly over-used. Often hyperbolised and pinned on those making the smallest creative jumps, it leaves those diving into the diverse sharing the same water. Cape Townbased John Wizards are truly eclectic, pulling in disparate strands of funk, pop, slow-jam R&B, dub reggae and a wealth of disparate African styles. Curated and created over the course of two years in John Withers’ bedroom, it’s a debut that bubbles with charm and life, rich rhythms and gentle, drifting melodies.You can’t help but be disarmed when the giddy ‘I’m Still a Serious Guy’ and the cartoon pop of ‘Lushoto’ bound into focus, or surprised by the unexpected momentum that ‘Finally / Jet Up’ determinedly builds. And this vast array lends ‘Jamieo’ its smooth, grooving lounge melodies and soft backing guitar,‘LEUK‘ its easy-going, shape-shifting R&B interludes, and ‘Muizenberg’ its bright, upbeat electro-pop flicker.Whatever you take from John Wizards, it’s unlike anything else you’ve heard this year.
Jessy Lanza Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores Sept 9 After 9 years of domineering dubstep, Hyperdub’s muscling in on the pop world was always going to be understated and assured – stealth, even. Jessy Lanza’s debut album of feather-light, dub-imbued RnB is easily mistaken as the work of an estate-savvy south Londoner, which is why ‘Pull My Hair Back’ feels so at home on this label despite its notable nods to vocalized pop music.Truth is, Lanza, along with her co-writer and producer Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, is from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which itself partly explains the vaguely Grimes-esque falsetto featured on ‘Giddy’ and ‘Fuck Diamond’. Claire Boucher treads likes an elephant compared to Lanza for the most part, though, who seduces with a whisper so soft it beckons you to crane your head closer to your speakers on more than one occasion, and especially on minimal slow jam ‘Kathy Lee’. Of course, when I say ‘muscling in on the pop world’, music this void of blatant sex or a verse from Kanye West has no more chance of breaking than, say, Chromatics do; a sad fact even true of the most upbeat track here - disco love number ‘Keep Moving’. It’s more a case of how pop music could be, in a slower world that gets off on subtlety and a title that lets you fill in the blanks. Calling a track ‘Against The Wall’ is all Lanza needs to do to get you into bed... or against the wall... or anywhere she wants.
6 Feet Beneath The Moon
(Sub Pop) By Sam Walton. In stores Aug 19
(XL) By David Zammitt. In stores Aug 26
No Age’s fourth LP, and their first in three years, starts and ends quietly, but does pretty much everything else capable of a guitar/drums two-piece in between.That includes exhilarating, balls-out no-wave punk (‘C’mon Stimmung’), woozy, looping space rock (‘My Hands, Birch & Steel’) and, most impressively, on central track ‘An Impression’, a mournful bossa nova laced with delicately detailed feedback textures and the best melody the band have ever written. However, these highlights are too frequently interspersed with route-one garage blare and occasionally painful singing, which makes ‘An Object’ an uneven listen. From the album’s title downwards, there’s a clear aim for this record to be taken as a single piece, and its gentle bookends, towering centrepiece and dedication to textural consistency across multiple genres manage that expertly. Unfortunately, its artistic goals don’t quite mask its deficiencies in more traditional areas of songwriting and singing, making it a record that’s easy to admire and difficult to love.
Archy Marshall has described his musical brain as a stylistic “meat grinder” and on ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’ he welds a love of ’50s rock’n’roll and rockabilly to classic jazz, hip-hop and UK bass music with poise. Zeroing in on the tests of love, depression and growing up, his lyrical economy is disarmingly sharp, and his ability to craft characters and sketch scenes on ‘Easy Easy’ and ‘Ocean Bed’ in particular evokes the attention to detail of Damon Albarn and Alex Turner, surveying the hoi polloi from above. Rodaidh McDonald’s production lends the songs that ethereal, nocturnal quality that he teased out so skillfully on The xx’s debut LP, helping to tie Marshall’s rich sonic palette together beautifully.While the precociousness of this talent is staggering in itself, we should be careful to judge ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’, which arrives on its creator’s 19th birthday, on its merits. Luckily, it has the teeth, imagination and striking originality to take its place alongside the great British debuts.
Al bums 08/10
MONEY The Shadow of Heaven (Bella Union) By Stephen Ghent. In stores Aug 26 You get the feeling that Manchester band MONEY are a bit of a coup for the Bella Union label.This is the kind of chest-swell, slow-burn indie that the majors charter helicopters of coke for – a triple threat of art-school philosophy, organic conception and BBC ident-ready tunes that’ll cash-in before the band’s Mercury Prize nomination is announced. It could – and probably should – be BIG, within the confines of its airy ways, definitely, and maybe bigger than that. And it helps, of course, that band leader Jamie Lee is already a star with few inhibitions, planting wet ones on his bandmates in promo shots and volunteering to take a red wine shower for the likes of us last month. Jamie’s not from the North but his band are based there, where, on this debut, they go for the same epiphany rock that The Verve did early on (‘Bluebell Fields’), icier fjord hymns (‘So Long’) and – on ‘Who’s Going To Love You Now’ in particular – bubbling, bittersweet anthems last heard coming from Arcade Fire circa ‘Funeral’. If you’re not in a contemplative mood, all of this is pretty useless; if you are it’s difficult to know what else to play after it’s finished, although the answer is probably ‘Goodnight London’ again; the album’s minor chord piano ballad, which is a relative curveball on a record that will otherwise flutter to every discerning indie fan who likes a cry.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
Kaani (Fat Cat) By Dan Carson. In stores Sept 9
By Hayley Scott. In stores Aug 26
Alex Ebert, or perhaps his messianic alter ego Edward Sharpe, is consumed with reaching peace.“There’s no protest / There’s just songs when we’re high on love,” shrieks Ebert on the feebly titled ‘Let’s Get High’.This is a thematic juncture throughout the entirety of ‘Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ and it’s unremittingly tedious. Discourse of love, harmony and magic predominate, and it all sounds extraneously wearisome to those who don’t see the world though a rose tinted lens.The sound is huge, however – production is more embellished than on 2012’s ‘Here’ and instrumental arrangements are rich, albeit often disordered and carelessly mixed. Ultimately, though, it’s the inordinate hand clapping, the sermonic choral chants and Ebert’s pacifist exhortations that make the record verge on irrational hippy folly. By challenging spirituality it abandons much of the successful pop appeal of their 2009 debut ‘Up From Below’ in favour of an effusive and inauthentic nod to psychedelia.
Photography by Elinor Jones
Niger collective Tal National are already household names in their native land, so why does third album ‘Kaani’ represent such an important leap forward for the colourful, constantly rotating troupe? On a personal level, it’s their sole international release thus far, but most vitally, it’s an opportunity to showcase the fervent, carefree, music-loving side to one of the world’s traditionally most impoverished states.Vampire Weekend’s Afrobeat influenced debut album is a natural reference point for those uninitiated into West African music, the arid highlife guitar tones and relentless talking drum pops bearing some resemblance to the New Yorkers’ early work. From the unconventional drum signatures of its title track to the frantically picked strings on ‘Wongharey’, each exotically fragranced instrumental sequence belongs to a separate culture, be it Tuareg, Songhai, Fulani or Huasa. Distinct and impenetrable alone, but in unison they make ‘Kaani’ ebb and flow like the tide that escapes their landlocked spiritual home.
Al bums 08/10
Willis Earl Beal Nobody Knows (XL) By Joe Goggins. In stores Sept 9
RANK / XEROX
Invasion of Love
Rank / Xerox
(Heavenly) By Dan Carson. In stores Aug 12
(Blastfirstpetite) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Aug 19
On the face of it, ‘Invasion Of Love’ connotes seriously negative vibes, but Simon Aldred manages to treat the ‘I’ word rather more lovingly on his debut as Out Cold. Influenced by his recent coming out, the former Cherry Ghost vocalist introduces themes that were once kept cloistered away from his friends and family; an outpouring which makes for a raw and thrilling listen. For such an empowering record, though, he is unusually cautious when it comes to pushing the envelope sonically, scarcely swaggering beyond Cherry Ghost’s unruffled indie pop choruses to the fringes of gaudy disco funk. He dabbles safely with twirling analog synths and click-clacking programmed beats on ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’, a clandestine piano-punctuated twitcher that mulls over trying to make something of oneself, before tentatively creeping into Deptford Goth’s pensive downtempo territory via ‘Progress’. ‘Murder Black Corvette’ shines brightest here, which is lively enough but bereft of a vital ingredient: potent hooks.
Rarely a moment passes by without a noticeable reference point in Rank/Xerox’s album, but that doesn’t stop it from being an explosive debut offering. It’s fuelled by jittery, skeletal swipes of post-punk guitar. Wire to Minutemen,The Fall to Mission of Burma – the album smashes a continuous back and forth between continents and with every blast a flying chunk of youthful snarl and bloody grit comes with it.The guitars cut through your ears like if you were using piano wire for cotton buds, but it’s a pleasurable pain. ‘Rank/Xerox’ is a record that embraces primitiveness to its very guttural core, but by doing so celebrates a joyous sparseness and coarseness that can only come from sandblasting the shit of the guitar, bass, drums and vocals combination. Like fellow city-dwellers Weekend, or Sub-Pop’s METZ, they seem to not only relish in their minimalism as a three piece, but also manage to overpower and diminish the efforts of those packing far much more manpower.
Photography by Phil Sharp
Willis Earl Beal proved a live revelation when he first emerged early last year; an arrestingly powerful voice that oozed soul paired with genuine stage presence to make his debut solo record one of the year’s most exciting prospects. Beal’s back story was like a Hollywood movie, including plot twists that involved homelessness, an army discharge, becoming an American Idol boot camp drone and getting drunk in front of Simon Cowell. Unfortunately, the same enigmatic nature that had helped build buzz for him didn’t extend to ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’, an incredibly lo-fi effort (recorded on a Fisher Price karaoke machine) as bizarre in its execution as it was criminal in its underuse of his true vocal talents. ‘Nobody Knows’ provides the opportunity for Beal to atone, with greater resources at his disposal, and thrillingly he delivers. ‘Wavering Lines’ is a restrained way to open – only a smattering of strings punctuate what would otherwise be a restrained a capella – but he’s on dramatic form elsewhere, howling over marchingband drums on ‘Burning Bridges’ and strutting his way through the gospel-tinged ‘2 Dry 2 Cry’. A collaboration with Cat Power ultimately disappoints – she’s reduced to backing vocals – but it does little to detract from the spectacular fashion in which Beal has delivered on his promise with his second record.
Jackson And His Computerhead
Pure Bathing Culture
The Proper Ornaments
Waiting For The Summer
(Memphis Industries) By Jack Doherty. In stores Aug 19
(Yep Roc) By Hayley Scott. In stores Aug 26
(Lo Recordings) By Sophie Coletta. In stores Aug 26
Glow (Warp) By Daisy Jones. In stores Sept 2
(Rough Trade) By Chris Watkeys. In stores Sept 9
Maybe it’s cool to be perfect, but sometimes flaws are just what you need. Super hip Portland duo Pure Bathing Culture (Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman moved there from New York in 2009) are so fresh and so clean even Kim and Aggie would struggle to find any filth here.‘Moon Tides’, their debut LP, is a crisp ode to ’80s indie, all glistening guitars and poppy vocals. It’s very pleasant, but that’s all it is, pleasant.There’s no bite, no edge and, most importantly, no tunes. In a way the record’s inability to grab your attention makes it perfect restaurant music. Probably not for your usual restaurant though, more for a chilled out, suburban friendly café with beanbag chairs and pictures of dead poets on the walls. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong and this is what Pure Bathing Culture are aiming for. ‘Moon Tides’: Music for restaurants. It does have a nice ring to it.
Golden Suits is a reference to the final line of a short story by John Cheever, an author whose tales of post-war suburbia included moments of beauty and despair: “Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains.”This wholly captures the beautifully conflicting essence of the eponymous debut from Department of Eagles’ Fred Nicolaus, where sublime, ornate arrangements underpin darker narratives. Similarly steeped in the same affecting blend of harmonious left-field pop that DoE and Grizzly Bear extol, Nicolaus uses sentiment and nostalgic storytelling to recall something equally palatable, retaining an affinity for meticulously crafted compositions: instrumentation prevails and strings soar on the rousing ‘I Think You Would Have Been Mine’, while Nicolaus laments each track with convincing fragility.
Veronica Falls guitarist James Hoare and Argentinian Max Clapps originally met in 2005, when the latter’s kleptomaniac girlfriend asked him to distract Hoare, an innocuous shop assistant, while she shoplifted some boots from a vintage shop in Notting Hill.The two bonded over a book on The Velvet Underground, exchanged numbers and the rest, as they say, is proverbial history that will preface every consequent piece of journalism written about them. Their debut album, ‘Waiting For The Summer’, is music to take a Valium to: sultry, summer-infused guitar-pop with psychedelicinspired guitar riffs that evoke hazy nostalgia for the ’60s, whilst still keeping a firm foot in the present. Ignoring the occasional onslaught of heavily repetitive, tedious lyrics, its well-crafted melodies and romanticised seasonal mentality ultimately prevails.
What exactly has Jackson Fourgeaud been doing for the past eight years? We could ask the same meaningless question to anybody, really, but his answer comes in the shape of Jackson and his computer band’s second album ‘Glow’. It is described by the man himself as a “game of musical obsessions and rageous pleasures” and “moments of revelations”. As the first track ‘Blow’ launches into a crashing symphony of musical layers, dark, sloweddown vocals, buoyant drums and lyrics meditative enough that they could have been picked from Primal Scream’s ‘Higher Than The Sun’, one can’t help but agree with this self-description. It’s an album that oozes the pleasure of making it. For whilst his debut was an impressive collection of acid-house inspired musical production,‘Glow’ is similar but with a little more restraint and passion – the kind that might come with age.
Emiliana Torrini has been making records since 1994, though her early efforts appeared only in her native Iceland.This is her fourth ‘official’ release (the first since 2008’s ‘Me and Armini’) and for the first time there’s quite a glossy sheen to the music, borne of some slick, poppy production.The title track is a slice of deftly chilled beats, something akin to the best of Cat Power’s more recent efforts, while ‘Autumn Sun’ strips things down a little, with pure melodies and the merest hint of melancholy; it just needs a little vinyl crackle to be almost perfect.Then there’s ‘Speed Of Dark’, an eighties meeting of minds between Madonna and Kate Bush – a shiny piece of laid-back electropop. ‘Tookah’ is a crafted record; an album filled with skill and beauty. It won’t grab you by the throat and shake your soul, but it will gently draw you into its world.
Holograms Forever (Captured Track) By Sophie Coletta. In stores Sept 2
Holograms are keen to let everyone know what a hard old time they’ve had of this music lark. From losing their jobs to being stranded in France for two weeks with no money, to their van being broken into on a support tour, it’s been a rough ride for the Swedish quartet.Their second album continues their energetic post-punk influenced sound instated by their vivid eponymous debut, although they’ve clearly sanded off some of the edges in the process. Having forgone the brilliant stabbing synth chords that infiltrated their debut, ‘Forever’ flaunts atmospheric melodies that sit inconspicuously alongside braying guitar riffs and thunderous drum patterns.Where ‘Holograms’ was strident and unrelenting in its delivery, its successor is often temperamental, even hesitant at times despite its apparent ferocity.The vivifying pessimism and cynicism is still there, but the album embodies something of a sterile sobriety that lacks the unadulterated nihilism Holograms are very much capable of.
Atoms for peace The Roundhouse, Camden, London 25.07.2013 By David Zammitt Photography by Roy J Baron
As I glance up from the merchandised torsos dotted around the Roundhouse bar, I start to feel old.The hairline of the average Thom Yorke fan has receded quite significantly since I first saw him and his band as a 15-year-old in 2001. The laughter lines are etched deeper, the rings around the eyes are that shade darker and the juxtaposition of the room’s middle-aged paunches with the clumsy Orwellian nonsequiturs that emblazon Radiohead’s post‘Bends’ artwork, come off, sadly, as just that bit less convincing. Make no mistake, however, for they haven’t turned up to see a tired greatest hits workout by some complacent, established act. Regardless of the pieces that make up this elite jigsaw, this is a new band, playing only their third-ever gig in the UK, and the air is charged with the promise of something fresh.That, I’m happy to say, is what we receive. Perched on the balcony at the outer reaches of stage left, my vantage affords a view of Yorke and Flea, a loan signing from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as the remarkably well-toned rock aristocracy limber up for their second of three nights at the Camden venue. All vests and three quarter length shorts, the elder statesmen look as though they’re better set for the gym than the stage as they diligently perform their pre-gig stretches. In all fairness, what I witness over the
next hour and a half looks like a fairly gruelling physical workout for our all-star dramatis personae and it’s full-throttle from the off as the band provide a much-needed spark for Yorke’s solo tinderbox, oozing energy and adding movement with their tribal polyrhythms and deep, corporeal bass grooves. The duelling percussive partnership of Joey Waronker on drums and Mauro Refosco on everything else (he wears what appears to be a playable, full body washboard at one point), in particular, helps to add meat to the flat, tinny rhythms of ‘The Eraser’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘Amok’, and opener ‘Before Your Very Eyes’ sets the tone for an evening that is built around countless colossal climaxes. Halfway through, Yorke lays down his guitar in order to free his arms for an all-out Kaoss Pad freak-out that’s plucked straight out of early ’90s acid house. Shifting from foot to foot, he looks to be having the most fun he’s had in years and I have to confer bonus points for the quality of his dancing, something which is usually, quite correctly, maligned. As the descending guitar riffs build to a wall of eerie, ‘Hail To The Thief ’-era synths, the delight of the adoring crowd is tangible.Without a pause for breath, ‘Default’, another Atoms For Peace original, is similarly incendiary, whipping the audience and, it seems the band themselves,
into a second successive frenzy. The highlight of the raucous set, however, is ‘Harrowdown Hill’, another song that is elevated from the impressive to the sublime by Yorke’s colleagues. As it climaxes, their leader is handed his guitar by a member of the crew, adding a satisfyingly sharp layer of distortion to an already thick brew. Even their bassist, seemingly in a perpetual state of animation, is visibly more pumped, clenching his fist as his new band’s exhilarating rush of dance-dystopia hits the spot with an explosive catharsis. Elsewhere, fan favourite ‘Ingenue’ grows legs with a swagger that’s lacking on ‘Amok’, while the first of two encores includes a gorgeous, fractured rendition of Yorke’s 1998 UNKLE collaboration ‘Rabbit In Your Headlights’, featuring a Flea cameo on spoken-word duties. The night’s sole Radiohead cover comes in the shape of ‘Amnesiac’-era B-side ‘Paperbag Writer’, again excelling in its transition from laptop to 5-piece as it staggers forward through Flea’s carnal, syncopated bass. As Yorke dedicates it to Radiohead’s own rhythm section of Phil Selway and Colin Greenwood, seated somewhere in the crowd, it’s hard not to compare, and I can say without a slither of hype, that tonight’s set trumps Radiohead’s 2012 gigs hands down.
01 Thomas Truax Photographer:Tom Airey 02 Six By Seven Photographer:Tris Hall
FOOT FELL sound
Six by seven
Foot Fell Wood, The Lake District 26-28.07.2013 By Kate Parkin
Shacklewell Arms, Dalston, London 20.07.2013 By Samuel Ballard
The Lexington, Islington, London 24.07.2013 By Chris Watkeys
Madame JoJo’s, Soho, London 23.07.2013 By Stuart Stubbs
Graves Park, Sheffield 13.07.2013 By Daniel Dylan Wray
Stepping into Fell Foot Wood is a magical feeling, with clusters of tents nestled deep into the wooded hillside and stone circles lit by the soft glow of twilight. Home to just 200 revellers for the weekend, Fell Foot Sounds’ homemade feel is a welcoming sight in a summer filled with giant banners and warm beer. Now into its forth year this festival soiree has an eclectic line-up with Hey Sholay and Sky Larkin sharing a timber-clad stage with the delightfully bonkers Gum Takes Tooth. Leeds based promoters have also gathered together a wealth of talent including Sam Airey, Dancing Years and Witch Hunt.Talking point of the weekend, though, is one man and his String-a-Ling, as Thomas Truax dazzled the crowd with his wonderful menagerie of homemade contraptions.Weaving through the crowd like a traveling conjurer he transforms a tree into a string instrument and a bicycle wheel into a drum machine. Humming along to ‘Why Dogs Howl at the Moon’, as people stroll back from a dip in Lake Windermere,Truax greets everyone in sight, covering the ground with his long-limbed strides and popping his head into tents to serenade the occupants. As his laser glasses spin to the chaotic strains of ‘Beehive Heart’ we swiftly lose our minds. Emerging bleary-eyed into the late afternoon sun, Fell Foot Wood’s dream-like qualities have taken hold and we can think of a million reasons to keep coming back for more.
Playing at Dalston’s Shacklewell Arms is never easy. London’s hipster HQ is notorious as an immovable object. However, if you think that’s hard, try playing a show as part of an eight-band all dayer. It’s a task that would be daunting to even the most seasoned of outfits. Enter Tooting five-piece Dignan Porch, who are on in seventh place, prized spot that reveals the value associated with their brand of lo-fi psych pop, released twice by the canonical Captured Tracks label.The band play well live.With a setlist mainly taken from last year’s ‘Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen’ LP, which includes single ‘Picking Up Dust’, they work on the Shacklewell crowd, who by this point have been drinking/swaying/other for the last seven hours.That’s no easy task; working on a swathe of people who are either incapacitated, incoherent or instagramming – but the band manages admirably, and considering their record sounds almost delicate in places, they make one hell of a racket. It’s enough to create silence within the small backroom anyway, for the most part. Overall the gig is fun. The entire all-dayer, put on by promoters Bad Vibrations, is a brilliant showcase for young – and decent – bands, and it did exactly what it was supposed to: pique my interest even further. Now that I’ve seen Dignan Porch play a crowd that bears comparison to a festival audience, I’m going to catch them play a headline show.This all needs further inspection.
After the ironically named The Death Of Six By Seven project last year, which yielded a single album and a handful of shows, the real thing is back. Six By Seven’s leader and frontman, Chris Ollie, is a man who couldn’t – even for a second, and even after two decades of varying success – countenance giving up the dream and becoming an insurance salesman. His very lifeblood is his music; he knows no other way, which is why, in a small way, it’s life-affirming that Six By Seven’s new album, released to a very positive critical reception, is amongst some of the best material the band have recorded. So tonight’s show is no backwards-looking nostalgia swamp, rather a defiantly proud celebration of that new record, which they play more or less in its entirety.There’s an epic overtone to these songs; the slowbuilding ‘Truce’ eventually launches into a vicious, headlong charge with thunderously loud drums, and it feels somehow elemental, like the hallucinogen-dazed mania of a lost tribe who’ve suddenly had guitars and amps thrust into their hands. While the acidic Hammond organ gives these songs a klaxon-like urgency, Ollie himself is an imposing figure, his huge squaddielike frame slightly hunched over the mic.The crowd, for their part, are energised and enraptured, and the strength of positive feeling towards this band is heavy in the room. “That’s a song about never giving up”, says Ollie after ‘Colder’. “After all, what else is there to do?”
There’s a rumour going around about London band Telegram – that they used to be a Roxy Music tribute act. It might be a cruel slight, or a pretty funny one, or, more likely still, completely true. Exactly which, you can’t judge from their soundcloud page, because they’ve recently pulled down what little they had up there, but that’s ok – Telegram are 50% for the eyes, like a lot of the ’70s proto punk groups they emulate in style.That is to say that they look incredible, like a beautifully trashed gang of beanpoles who were there when Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell discovered CBGB.Telegram – in unwashed T-shirts, lank hair to match and black denim – have plenty of Television about them, in fact, in sound as well as looks, but more Creedence Clearwater Revival; a wah-wah-heavy slew of garage psych that has their lead guitarist throw in the occasional windmill. It’s the vocals that hold all the potent Roxy Music-isms, and as the singer delivers an uncanny Bryan Ferry warble throughout tonight’s show, you can’t help but think that they must have been the hottest covers band around. But as the dazzle of the band’s hair fades and all members of the audience continue to watch a set that begins to drag from a sitting position, there’s a distinct feeling that they shouldn’t have sacked the guy playing Brian Eno. Ferry’s voice suits nothing like it does a shiny synthesiser, especially not US pysch rock.
After turning down a load of money to play Glastonbury and calling the festival “meaningless”, Richard Hawley went on to offer, “I don’t like the whole corporate festival thing. I’ve done V festival with Pulp and as a solo artist, and I hated every minute of it.” So, he instead opted to set up a big top in an underused, out of town park and play to his beloved city of Sheffield. However, those hoping for a greatest hits-laden affair (whatever that would entail) would have be wishing they were waving their flags down the front of the Pyramid Stage, amongst people willing to rupture their bladder in a hope to catch a droplet of Jagger’s sweat. An electric guitar heavy set, Hawley shakes off the songwriter tag and unfurls the large majority of his latest LP, ‘Standing on the Edge of the Sky’, in gritty, psychedelic swirls of stomping sound. Out comes the double-bass as the band break into a mid-set rockabilly tribute before settling back into their own, devilishly loud but polished-smooth groove. The encore is the first time Hawley’s break-out album ‘Coles Corner’ even gets a look in, via a stirring ‘Tonight’ and a rousing, elongated finale of ‘The Ocean’, the song itself unravelling in heaves of twinkling guitar lines as Hawley’s voice resonates a depth and texture few can muster.
C I NE M A REVIEW
By IAN ROEBUCK
Only God Forgives Director: Nicolas Winding Refn Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas,Vithaya Pansringarm
The Lost Christ Killer Lamenting the loss of Nick Cave’s Gladiator 2, and looking ahead to 20,000 Days on Earth Nicholas Edward Cave has mastered his craft. A horny pirate of a songwriter, his deft way with words regularly transports us from the gutter to God. Just take his 1999 Vienna lecture, The Secret Life of a Love Song, where Cave reluctantly put his dark matter on display exposing his writing methods in the process. “Those songs that speak of love, without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh, are not love songs at all but rather hate songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted,” went one of the more memorable moments from his enchanting and myth-slaying talk. Cave’s canon of quotable lines is endless; my personal favourite, not from a lecture or song but just an everyday diatribe: “I’m forever near a stereo saying, ‘What the fuck is this garbage?’ And the answer is always the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” The man from Warracknabeal has language covered, that’s for sure; so much so, in fact, that his move into the movies was seamless, primarily as a screenwriter for his long-time friend, the Australian born director John Hillcoat. Hillcoat and Cave have previous: back in 1988 they co-wrote and Cave starred in Hillcoat’s prison drama Ghosts...of the Civil Dead, but it wasn’t until 2005 and The Proposition that a Cave script sparkled under Hillcoat’s direction. Since that bloody, sincere and ultimate triumph of a movie the Bad Seed worked again with Hillcoat on his wangster film Lawless and he’s been flirting and skirting with the Hollywood big league, or the Australian stars at least. Not a soul could have predicted his recent admission to a certain proposal from Russell Crowe, though. It didn’t matter that Maximus and Co. were dead as dodos; Crowe wanted Gladiator 2 resurrected, and supposedly Cave was the man for the job, it’s just a huge shame what came next never made the big screen.
“For someone who had only written one film script, it was quite an ask. ‘Hey Russell, didn’t you die in ‘Gladiator 1’?’ ‘Yeah, you sort that out.’ So, he goes down to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there’s this one god, there’s this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity and so the many gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and his followers,” Cave helpfully explained in a recent interview for Den of Geek before finishing, “I wanted to call it Christ Killer”. Scored, scripted and puppeteered by Cave, Christ Killer could have been masterful, even with Crowe’s input, but it clearly hasn’t materialised leaving our Cave film fix at sea.There is hope though, in the form of 20,000 Days on Earth, a documentary of sorts set for 2014 detailing a day in the life of the man himself and starring Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue and even his own kids. Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, who previously worked on the music video for his 2008 single ‘Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!’, the film creates a fictionalised 24 hours in Cave’s life where he drives Kylie to Shoreham from Brighton in the back of his Jag and watches Scarface over breakfast with his children. Forsyth and Pollard have a background in performance art and have worked with everyone from Scott Walker to Kevin Eldon to Plan B, but it’s their unique relationship with Cave that promises to create something special with 20,000 Days on Earth. A collaboration over a number of years, Cave granted the two visionaries unprecedented access, whilst they encouraged both him and his cast of friends to improvise where possible. Like much of his work let’s hope the shackles are off for a candid, coarse, comedic film that’s crippled by impending doom. How could Cave be anything else?
This spellbinding fever dream has been highly criticised as style over substance; how far from the truth could that be? Yes, the pumping Carpenter-esque soundtrack and shimmering cinematic beauty leave you gasping for air and yes, it threatens to overwhelm the sparse, sometimes hammy dialogue and thin plot, but this film is all substance, perhaps too much substance. Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow up to the much-admired Drive requires you to wade through corridor after corridor of symbolism and Oedipal imagery. Step this way to the neon-lit therapist please Ryan Gosling, lie down on the couch next to the ladyboy and take that thumb out of your mouth. A flippant over-reaction perhaps, but Only God Forgives is a film that flirts with controversy and luxuriates in the resulting love-hate aftermath. How do you take enjoyment from such content when it’s so stubborn? This ultra-violent, sometimes misogynistic film repels and mesmerises in equal measure. It’s a mind-bending visual treat for the Lynchian class that never quite reaches Refn’s lofty aspirations, dedicated to Jodorowsky but falling bravely short. Gosling’s boxing club owner, who’s haunted by his brothers death and taunted by his mother’s arrival in Bangkok, is overshadowed by the magnificent Vithaya Pansringarm. Pansringarm’s corrupt cop, who sets about brutally dismantling the poisonous empire built on Gosling’s drugs money, walks away with the film; my god he does a lot of walking. His ghost-like foot-steps tread the damp heat of Thai streets and blacked out alleyways in such potent repetition the sound of shoe to pavement as Gosling follows meekly behind pierce the brain as much as the sickening gore.You have to admire the director for his unflinching style – this is an auteur not afraid to falter. For every magnetic masturbation scene there is a torture set piece just around the corner that drifts in meaning. Something tells me that Refn doesn’t care what we think.
Impress your friends by listening to the Loud And Quiet issue 51 mixtape only at www.loudandquiet.com Featuring this monthâ€™s featured artists
: www.loudandquiet.com news / songs / past issues
party wolf idiot tennis Game. Set. Twat.
thought sport In the heads of athletics fans 4
An honest bloke doing you a favour
Brother of Noel Gallagher
“Hey mate. Kinda made your wife pregnant. Lol”
MOST LIKELY TO SAY
“Oh no! My willy made another baby!”
“I didn’t really enjoy that, but horses for courses”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
“If we really want market growth, what we need is...”
Impregnating his ‘friend’s’ wife
IDIOT POWER PLAY
Loves children... Sorry... LOVE children
Liam knows not what he does GAME, SET & MATCH
crush hour Hooking up on the commute To the girl who flosses with a Tesco bag on the 08.15 from Basildon, I wonder what else we have in common? :)
Guy in Lonsdale shorts To the kind lady that ignored my accidental trouser cough on the number 17, your manners match your beauty.
Nervous Traveller To the guy at Euston Station with ears, I’m sure we had a moment, please?
1. Boy, I’m loving this retina display. It’s almost like I’m there! 2. It’s that fucking camera again, looking at me! 3. Imagine if he thought I was Pippa Middleton. No, pull yourself together, Jane! 4. Shit! That guy’s got the retina one. Looks so sweet. Like being there. 5. My nails look fabulous! Must take a picture for the blog.
RumoUr pie Big mouthfuls of gossip They said it couldn’t be done, but Peter Stringfellow has defied logic, science and decency in becoming a father at the age of 92. Mother and baby are said to be horrified. Kim and Kanye on the rocks again? Heat magazine seem to think so, but they’ve said no. Stay tunes on that one. When I know, you will.
Single girl To the hunk with the gym bag at Goodge St., the noodles I was sat next to weren’t mine.
Blonde in a cat jumper
Are brussels sprouts really that good for us? We thought so, but scientists have discovered that eating more than 60 a day and little else could have an adverse effect.
Could Prince George have a problem with The Queen already? In a world exclusive, I can reveal that, on her Maj’s very first visit to the new heir, he did a poo. A Palace source told me: “The Queen laughed it off, but you could tell she was bothered.” Has X Factor been the world’s funniest practical joke? Rumors are rife that Simon Cowell started the show as a dare. Britain’s Got Talent, I’m A Celebrity... and Antiques Road Trip are also thought to be “massive piss-takes”.
Fuck me, Phil! Your son looks just like...
DON’T Ian! Just don’t!
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely fictitious.
Photo casebook “The unfortunate world of Ian Beale”
festival souvenir, from Loud And Quiet and Jeffrey Lewis