LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 44 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
contents jan uary 2013
0 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ta l l A c a d e my Stuart Stubbs on gig etiquette for the larger gentleman
1 0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TR a c k & B o o k s The month’s singles, EPs and page-turners from Keel Her, Apostille, Mad Colours and more
DARKSTAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 in last of the summer wine country, darkstar’s own brush with death was the making of their second album
P ri nce Rama . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 The end is nigh. Let’s put a record on
Crush e d B eaks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
cover design Lee Belcher
Contact email@example.com Loud And Quiet PO Box 67915 London NW1W 8TH Editor - Stuart Stubbs Art Director - Lee Belcher Sub Editor - Alex Wilshire film editor - Ian roebuck
Slapping the curse of the horror fan in the face... 30 or 40 times
2012 Re v i e w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
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
Our albums of the year list starts here, and ends on page 32 with our favourite LP of 2012
Story of 2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Beside albums number 15 to 10, Daniel Dylan wray maps out death grips’ mad year
SON G S & SHOWS o f 2 0 1 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 It is what it is: our top 10 track and 5 shows of the year
EP s & b o o k s o f 2 0 1 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 our top 5 eps and BOOKS, plus a special competition to win our top 20 albums
2 0 1 2 ’ s G REAT SWAN SON G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 carter tutti void give what could easily be their last interview, considering the band form and disbanded in one show
A year as Ki n dn ess . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Adam Bainbridge looks back on the days that followed his Loud and quiet cover feature in March
This Month L&Q Loves andy fraiser, Beth Drake, Duncan Jordan, Jess Partridge, Leah Ellis, Matthew Maxey, Zoe Miller 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 2012 Loud And Quiet. ISSN 2049-9892 Printed by Sharman & Company LTD.
36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . albums films . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 rachel zeffira, Peepholes, mark stewart, the babies, memory tapes and more
Ian Roebuck delivers his top 5 cinema releases of 2012
42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . li v e party w olf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 including bat for lashes, spiritualized, alunageorge, tame impala and purity ring
Idiot’s grand slam 2012: the year’s most annoying people go head to head
welcome jan uary 2013
We don’t baton-twirl in the Ones To Watch parade here at Loud And Quiet, but End of Year Lists is another matter. If one is more ridiculous than the other, there’s really not much in it – maybe it’s just our bent for nostalgia that has us enthusing about looking back rather than forward. The votes of Loud And Quiet contributors were counted and verified for what you’re about to read, making this our most democratic issue of the year. It’s also the most fun to put together, and the biggest ball-ache. For the first time, we’ve managed to stick to a self-imposed rule we set ourselves each year – no artist or band can feature on more than one list. Don’t ask us why, but, say our album of the year is Lana Del Ray’s ‘Born To Die’ (it isn’t), ‘Video Games’ can’t feature as one of our top 10 tracks of 2012. It makes some sort of sense to us. So was 2012 any good? In bits, yeah. The Olympics was good, wasn’t it? And the Olympic Parade. And the Paralympics. And the Mobot. There were, in our minds, at least 20 very good albums, too, so we’ve written them down in order from best to worst best. You can win every single one of them on page 25, in and amongst our favourite EPs, tracks, shows, books, films and idiots from the last 12 months.
contri b utor
L e e Be l c he r Art director
The Loud And Quiet Review Special, more than any other issue in the year, is a massive shitter for one man in particular. His name is Lee and he’s been our Art Director since the magazine has been any good. Lee works/ has worked with and for the best looking publications around, from Wallpaper* to The Face to Pop. When people say to us, “I really like Loud And Quiet - it looks great”, we don’t even ask them if they read the words as well anymore. Lee is making us look good and bad at the same time. We asked of it - the idea behind this paper was to create a music magazine that cares as much about the design as it does the content, and you need someone like Belcher to do that. He has been known, however, to start brawls in pools in Speedos in Vegas.
We’ve included the year’s best story and the year’s best swan song, and we caught up with Kindness (our cover star from March) to see how 2012 has treated him. Badly, it turns out. For the front of this issue we thought we should ease up on the rubbernecking and do some proper work, so we looked into 2013 with Darkstar, ahead of their Warp debut in February, and asked London duo Crushed Beaks if they really are as gore-obsessed as most people think. Then we got weird with Brooklyn duo Prince Rama, discussing the end of the world and their apocalyptic new concept album. 2012 is meant to be the year of Armageddon, after all. But there’s plenty of time for all that…
Inside shoot: Darkstar By Elliot Kennedy Dalston, London. 10 November 2012
Illustrations by Jade Spranklen - www.spranklen.com / Gareth Arrowsmith - www.garetharrowsmith.blogspot.co.uk
jan uary 2013
list of problems
Stuart Stubbs on gig etiquette for the larger gentleman
Reef younis ponders the science (read timing) behind making the end of year polls
I’m a tall man. Inescapably so, and much to the relief of strangers in search of small talk. If I meet a friend of a friend who happens to be female, at some point in the evening, just as we’ve become a little more comfortable in each other’s company, and before we’ve become so comfortable we’re freely talking complete horse shit, they will say, “Oh God, I feel so small stood next to you.” Guys don’t say that so much, but they might ask me what I’m drinking, “big man.” When my dad introduces me to his friends, he says, “This is my son… and he’s the little one!” People love that gag, either politely or perhaps not realising that what he means is that my brother is older than me, not twice the size. All of this tall-talk has never bothered me. When somebody says, “Bloody hell, you’re a bit tall, aren’t ya?”, I might wonder what else I can say other than, “yeah, I am”, but it’s not as if they’re calling me a prick, I don’t think. At gigs, though, they usually are. I’m tall, but I’m not completely stupid. If some 6ft 4” bloke slinked his way in front of me just before a band came on, I’d be pissed too, but I’ve always had a rule against that anyway – no snaking is to be done fifteen minutes before the curtain; a common courtesy that all heights should stick to, unless you’re 17, in which case, press on. Instead, I either root myself early, like that tree at Glastonbury that’s brilliant for shade but terrible for a view, or I make do with the back wall. If you’re in position early, people can’t choose to stand behind you and then complain, you’d think. They do, of course, with grumbles and sharp exhalations. When I have gone rouge in the past, burrowing past the 15 minute curfew, I could almost hear the prayers of “please don’t stop, please don’t stop” as I passed. And then, when I do, a collective heavy sigh that sounds like a hundred people deflating. Nice one, lanky! I get it, but what’s a guy to do? It’s getting worse, too. Earlier this year, at a Sleigh Bells show, I was cutting it fine so headed for the back of the room where there was still enough space to swing a lion, and where it was 3 deep between my back and the bar staff at most. “You’re not fucking standing there,” bitched a waspy, circular girl in a flash, oblivious to the wonders of a sidestep. I’m guessing if we were on a bus and I’d been twice my own width she’d have held her tongue rather than snapped at the fatty. It’s why the svelte lot naturally gravitate towards each other at shows, like a herd of self-conscious giraffes. It might be that we feel less guilty if we’re blocking each other’s views, but really that’s a bonus to safety in numbers against the mob.
Can you hear it? The ring-ding-a-ling of sleigh bells and Christmas has pretty much been upon us since the moment the Easter Bunny fucked off; festive cheer piped through budget supermarket speakers, inviting us to forget another grey, recession-ridden year. It’s the period retail hedges its bets, cranking everything up a materialistic notch just as everyone else’s gears are grinding down for the year. For music, November marks the awkward cut off point between the critical and the commercially acclaimed. It’s the deadzone where end of year lists have all but been cemented and the soft buffer for those releases gunning for the Christmas number one. Releasing an album is a calculating game. Away from the drawn out processes of writing, recording, mastering and distribution, release dates are undoubtedly planned to shift units, but you wonder just how many labels also have their eyes cast over end of year poll dates and on the Mercury Music Prize, too. Put something out in the early doldrums of the year and it’s likely to get outmuscled by pure volume; time it right in the summer, and you’ve got a neat dovetail with the festival circuit; slate it for release in the autumn and the critical tightrope walk begins. Musically, these are supposed to be the barren months; the dark weeks where Christmas carols and kitsch tilts at the charts almost blind of the fact that some of 2012’s best work is still emerging. Buried amongst One Direction, Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera, you’ve got Gallops, Memory Tapes, and Deftones, all of whom are likely to be relegated to (brilliant) footnotes with end of year lists desperately locked down as we hurtle towards holiday season excess. So where we’ve had weeks, if not months, to reflect on (see also forget, neglect) the albums, songs and bands that have gloriously soundtracked our year, and have shoehorned them into the truest reflections of the year we can muster, it’s a frustrating reality that in the rush to finalise the last issues of the year, some albums will always fall through the cracks on calendar alone. The bona fide highlights will always stand up without the need for too much backdated scrambling, but it’s the timely glut of September and October releases that are likely to provide the end of year backbone – the sweet spot close enough to the year end to both be excited about and not forgotten. It’s a clumsy alchemy, pulling together snapshots, clouded recollection and selective hindsight to provide a definitive full stop. And while it’s not pretty, and certainly not exact, it doesn’t really matter when December and January mean we’ll be too drunk and depressed to read these lists anyway.
“Bloody hell, you’re a bit tall, aren’t ya?” “yeah, I am.”
beginning singles & EPS / books
by L ee B u l l m a n
0 1 Wrong / The Road
0 2 So Long My Love
0 3 riot grrrl
by Tomorrow’s World
(naive) Released december 3
(critical heights) R e l e a s e d D e c e m b e r 3
For Rose Keeler-Shffelers’ second single, the girl that befriend lo-fi grampa R. Stevie Moore by posting a new song on the web every day for the past year recorded in a studio for the very first time. You’d hardly know that by the reverb and tin, but she did. ‘Riot Grrrl’’s magic, though, as with most of Keel Her’s tireless output, remains in the melody, which happens to propel some salty lyrics about dogging this time around. For too long this kind of surfing fuzz pop has been either asexual or frustratingly wet. Keel Her brings some much-needed smut disguised as a sweet love rush.
(comfortable on a tightrope) R e l e a s e d D e c e m b e r 1 0
Between the unassuming, oddly jolly, analogue synthesiser on Apostille’s debut single is some bad voodoo, cascading from the creaking keys. “Mother, can I got out to kill tonight?” murmurs former Please frontman Michael Kasparis on his new solo venture that rumbles and tumbles on. Kasparis moans wonderfully to a hidden melody. ‘The Road To War’ is then more classically darkwave, in the vein of early Blank Dogs or even Depeche Mode, austere and clapping the oncoming war, literally in its accompanying hand slaps.
0 4 Shelter song
0 5 Cayucos
0 6 RIP EP
(heavenly) R e l e a s e d N o w
(secretly candadian) R e l e a s e d D e c e m b e r 3
If Kettering is famous for anything, it’s the market town’s lowly football team, somehow memorably read out by the BBC vidi printer at full-time on a Saturday afternoon. One imagines it to be a quaint place rather than a progressive one, and Temples’ debut single adheres to that presumption – a wilfully retrograde, groovy track that begins like Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ and does the mashed potato throughout. It makes you want to say “yeah Baby”, and not even in a mocking way. You’ll hear it soon enough, no doubt, on an ‘authentic’ ad for Budweiser.
If the ambient electronica of Air has always been a bit too prissy for you, there’s a good chance that you’ll have more luck with JeanBenoit Dunckel’s Tomorrow’s World – a second duo project for the Frenchman, this time with London singer Lou Hayter. Just as they had a conversation and began working together, so too do the key elements of ‘So Long My Love’ – a sultry, pouty vocal from Hayter and Dunckel’s crashing modem that responds to each verse with a chorus of mangled glitch coding over a Suicide-ish drum box. An alluring duet of man and machine.
by Keel her
To love Cayucas first you need to curb all cynicism you may have towards modern pop bands who’d still rather go to the beach than win the lottery. Then forget you ever heard Vampire Weekend. Both are surprisingly easy to get the hang off on hearing ‘Cayucos’; named after a coastal haven north of Los Angeles, but, hey, at least the work of Zach Yudin – Santa Monica-based with a Pacific view. It was either writing samba surf pop about “crashing waves” or bitter odes to Lalaland’s desperation and crime. Yudin certainly has a knack for the former, regardless of the crowd in front of him.
by Mad Colours
( H o t a n d R o t t e n ) R e l e a s e d N o w
Mad Colours’ ‘RIP’ EP is released alongside fanzine Hot and Rotten, combining the Sheffield band’s ‘Meat Scene’ roots with a taste of DIY that’s shiny and day-glo. Hurling you into a forest of freaks and magical creatures, ‘Hot Wet Sticky Flowers’ rushes past as stuttering afro-beat guitars melt into a dizzying blur. Echoing with cries of lost love, the soft whisper of ‘Romeo’ then lingers long after the lights have burnt out, while ‘Winter’s Gone’ carries you away on a final frantic burst of rhythm, as buried deep in the crowd you hurtle towards oblivion. Exuberant pop punk.
C op e ndium : A n E x p e di t ion in t o t he R oc k‘n ’R ol l Unde r w or l d B Y Jul i a n c op e (Faber & Faber)
Julian Cope originally found fame as the golden haired Teardrop Explodes singer with the Lewis Leathers jeans and the penchant for poky acid. Around the time of the neo-psychedelic band’s second album (1981’s ‘Wilder’), Cope let it be known that he’d be grateful if the legion of teenage girl fans his band were attracting would fuck off. They duly did, and ever since then the arch-drude has determinedly followed his own star, taking up position at the fuzzy edge of popular culture, from where he’s gone on to release a series of righteous solo albums (a whopping 28 in total), as well as pen some of the best books ever written on that well trodden and celebrated, dangerous subject, rock’n’roll. The latest is Copendium, a collection of the album reviews and samplers Cope has been publishing on his website www. headheritage.co.uk since the Internet was invented. That was obviously some time ago, now, so it’s little surprise that this latest read is quite a beast, weighing in at over seven hundred pages of dedicated, smart, funny and completely heartfelt sermons. Copendium takes the reader on a singular alternative journey through the last sixty years of rock’n’roll in all of its many forms. This journey, with Cope as your bugeyed and eager guide, recaptures lost classics and unearths startling obscurities anywhere from Krautrock to hair metal, and throughout the book, the quality of the man’s taste is matched only by the nostone-unturned thoroughness of his research. As an artist and musician, Julian Cope has always been an unashamed true believer. As a writer, he manages to be both hip and humble, obviously completely bowled over by the music he is writing about. Throughout Copendium, his enthusiasm for his subject is infectious, guaranteed to send you running for the nearest search engine in the hope that the tunes he’s writing about are anywhere near as good as they sound on the page.
Single reviews by Kate Parkin and Sam Little
To war by Apostille
Da r k s ta r I n L a st of T h e Su m m e r Wi n e cou n t ry, Da r k sta r’ s ow n bru sh w i t h de at h wa s t h e m a k i ng of t h e i r secon d a l bu m Ph o t o gr a ph e r - e l l io t K e n n e dy | W r i t e r - c h a l r av e n s
In October 2010, Darkstar emerged from the then blooming scene we used to call post-dubstep with an album of ice cold urban romance; a quintessential night bus record with a surprisingly potent seam of ‘80s electronic pop running through its 10 tales of mechanical heartbreak. Half Human League, half machine, ‘North’ was a milestone for the entire scene, proving to be the high watermark of a moment that has since then splintered and lost cohesion, with artists like Mount Kimbie and James Blake moving further away from their dubstep origins with each release. Darkstar, who formed in London but are originally from Wakefield, Leeds and Cheshire, spent over a year working on the follow-up to ‘North’. It wasn’t an easy journey. Itching to get away from the grind of the capital, they sequestered themselves in a country house in Yorkshire’s ColneValley – to give you an idea of the rural surroundings, it’s the next valley over from where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed – and diligently worked on the new songs, until a painful twist of fate forced a dramatic rethink. It started as a writing trip, says James Young, the man who formed Darkstar along with fellow producer Aiden Whalley, before the addition of James Buttery on vocals. “We just got a house in the country,” he says. “It’s really weird up there though. Because you’ve got a lot of space and time on your hands you do lose focus. It’s very difficult to maintain normality.” “It kind of took out all the outside influence from a music point of view,” adds Whalley. “It led us into more experimentation, [which] I think we wouldn’t have done if we’d stayed down here, surrounded by what we were into before.” “I think a slight change can make a big difference when you’re trying to create,” says Young. All that brisk air and isolation had a profound effect on the trio, who found themselves shaking off the narrow-eyed intensity of ‘North’ for a sound that’s brighter, wider, even a bit... optimistic. So, what is there to be optimistic about? “Life! Being alive,” laughs Buttery. “It’s like another chapter, because we’d lived in London for 10 years. We wanted to do something that we’d not touched upon with the last album, trying to push for that lighter hearted, breezier and a little bit more rhythm-based songwriting. With the surroundings as well, we moved up there and it was sunny and nice, great weather and new landscapes and all sorts of things to take in, quite bright and cheerful.” “It’s quite profound actually,” he continues. “I didn’t realise how big an impact the surroundings had on myself personally, but they definitely do.” As the voice of the band, Buttery has shaped those feelings into lyrics that look beyond the romance and inner turmoil of ‘North’. “It’s very personal, but I think all Darkstar music is like that,” says Buttery.“We wanted to be independent, to stand on our own two feet a little bit.” “Where ‘North’ was lyrically about two people, quite intimately, this one is almost quite self-assured and singular,” says Young. “There’s a couple of references to things going on outside, like maybe a girl, but generally it’s more about being quite content.”
The results are a world away from the glitchy bounce of their breakthrough single ‘Aidy’s Girl is a Computer’, and point to the broader range of music they’ve been drawing on – from Arthur Russell, Robert Wyatt and Pink Floyd to Gonjasufi,A$AP Rocky and trap rap. New single ‘Timeaway’ is a stepping stone between the two albums, a mesmerising lullaby of treated vocals and ticktocking drums that leads you gently into this new landscape of saturated, kaleidoscopic colour. Despite being producers themselves, they chose to make the album with Richard Formby, whose production credits couldn’t be further from the scene that Darkstar burst out from three years ago, being the man behind the desk for recent records from Wild Beasts and Spectrals. “It was a soundboard really,” says Buttery of choosing Richard. “To learn some more as well, get new experience and also get someone who’s not so involved to have a bit of an outside perspective,” says Whalley. Buttery: “He’s just a true artist in his own right, honestly, he thinks in his own way. He’s definitely opened our minds to things. There’s so many reasons why it’s good to get a producer.You know, it’s good to be sat on a sofa at the back of the room and not be sat on Pro Tools.” “It freed us up,” agrees Young. “Rather than us whizzing round and doing edits and stuff like that, Richard would generally be in control, in a very laid back way. There’s a lot of things as well that we don’t know how to do, like Richard knows how to use tape machines and physical things, and we grew up with software.” Making the leap from their laptops into the world of analogue sound, Darkstar started playing with other instruments, tape loops, vintage synths and even a harmonium (“I might not have been playing it right,” laughs Whalley). But just a week before the album was due to be finished, and on the very day that the Warp label bosses were heading up to Leeds to hear it, disaster struck. Unloading equipment from the van, Buttery stepped backwards over a wall and fell, breaking his back. “I only fell about six feet, but my knees weren’t bent when I landed,” he says, explaining that his vertebrae were crushed, leaving him bed-ridden and an inch shorter. Perversely, it turned out to be just the lucky break they’d needed, so to speak. “It was like an act of God, honestly – I don’t believe in any of that shit, but we didn’t feel totally satisfied with [the album],” he says. “Yeah, we didn’t like where it was at that point and we
“I t wa s l i k e a n ac t of G od, hon e st ly – I don’ t be l i e v e i n a n y of t h at sh i t, bu t w e di dn’ t f e e l t o ta l ly sat i sf i e d w i t h [ t h e a l bu m ]”
basically had another week to finish it,” adds Young. “I’d spoken to Richard literally hours before James broke his back about extending some time in the studio, just to iron out a few kinks. Then James broke his back and we had 10 extra weeks.” With Buttery in a back brace but still writing music from his bed, the trio got down to work and ended up making what they reckon are some of the best tracks on the album. “I think that was the defining point,” says Young.“We got a bit more urgency. As we were finishing the album we were at our most creative, I think.” Buttery agrees.“I think we had gone through a major metamorphosis.” The resulting album is ‘News From Nowhere’, nine songs that sound like an inversion of ‘North’, in many ways, recalling the emotive chords of Radiohead or Grizzly Bear (on ‘A Day’s Pay for a Day’s Work’ and the untitled fourth track) and the jarring textures of Animal Collective (‘Amplified Ease’, ‘You Don’t Need a Weatherman’). The title comes from a utopian novel, introduced to them by Formby, written by 19th Century textile designer and socialist William Morris.The phrase struck a chord with their own situation, they say, recording for months in the hills outside an industrial Northern town. Set for release in early February 2013, the album will be Darkstar’s first release for Warp, after putting out ‘North’ on Hyperdub in 2010. Considering the label’s more recent signings like Grizzly Bear and Battles, it places the band on a different trajectory, moving even further away from post-dubstep splinterings and towards the Pitchfork crowd. “We’re like one foot in, one foot out,” says Young. “If we’ve got an itch, we can make a dance 12” or something dancefloor friendly, but at the same time I think we all realise the worth of an album. I think that’s what we want to be known for, making good albums, first and foremost.” They’ve also got a few interesting remixes up their sleeve – so interesting that they’re not allowed to talk about them, sadly – along with 10 locked grooves (looping audio hidden at the end of a side of vinyl), which they hope will encourage remixes, or alternatively, “you can stick it on while you make a cup of tea.” They’ll be hitting the road too, perfecting their live set (“It’s something that we want to be good at,” they note) and putting a few stamps in their passports after a year in rural seclusion. “I’m looking forward to leaving the house,” admits Young.“It’s a beautiful house, it’s in a beautiful part of the country, but...” “We exhausted everything that it had to offer, didn’t we? Including each other. It was like, I like you, but I don’t want to go to the pub with you,” laughs Buttery. They nod in agreement, a hint of cabin fever passing across their eyes. “You know it’s pretty bleak when you go to the pub and your favourite barman’s working,” says Young, shaking his head.And with that, they don thick coats and head out into a grey November day in east London. First stop? A pub, one where they won’t recognise the barman at all.
Guns of Dubai
pr i nc e r a m a T h e e n d i s n igh. L e t ’ s pu t a r ecor d ON Pho t o gr a ph e r - S a m a n t h a C a s o l a r i | W r i t e r - St ua rt St u b b s
21 May 2011: the world is due to end. It’s long been predicted, and one of these hunches has to come off. What’s more, the number 1 single on the Billboard Chart is Britney Spears’ ‘Till The World Ends’. Perfect. In late 2012, with us all still here, May ’11’s misfire feels more like cruel coincidence than Mouseketeer prophecy, but for Taraka Larson it would fuel a growing, morbid obsession. Taraka is one half of Prince Rama – a family affair with sister Nimai that already had plenty about it long before the release of last month’s apocalyptic concept album ‘Top Ten Hits of the End of the World’.They were signed, for example, by Avey Tare of Animal Collective, to his band’s Paw Tracks label. When he approached them after a show as SXSW, they didn’t even know who he was. The Larson’s grew up on a Hare Krishna commune in Florida, schooled in Boston and moved to Brooklyn. Taraka – a former student of conceptual art – assisted Paul Laffoley; the outsider artist and architect who designed the second tower of New York City’s World Trade Center, and whose drawings inspired Prince Rama’s 2010 album (their third) ‘Architecture of Utopia’. And now the end is nigh, as it always has been. Some months ago Taraka became “really obsessed” with cross-referencing predicted dates for the end of the world and what happened to be topping the Billboard 100 on those days. “I’d get excited because the songs would usually have these strange, eerie correlations,” she fizzes. “I started getting really interested in this idea that pop music is a vehicle for coded messages. I was like, ‘Shit, if there’s an apocalypse this year, I wonder what the Now compilation will sound like that’s released just afterwards?’.” Prince Rama, if you’ve ever listened to any of their previous five albums of New Age philosophies, Sanskrit chants and progressive psychedelic grooves, are not a band to shirk a new fascination. So wondering turned to doing as Taraka and Nimai began creating a pseudo compilation album to mark the complete destruction of our world – 10 hits by 10 recently deceased bands from Earth’s non-too-distant past, all channelled by Prince Rama themselves. ‘Top Ten Hits of the End of the World’ is a curious time capsule artefact made all the more fantastic by the
method-actor approach behind it. Prince Rama didn’t simply write the grinding, tense ‘No Way Back’ and assign it some band called Nu Fighters; they penned a biography for their creation (Grammy winners from 1989 that were secretly serial killer bikers who sensed Armageddon and provoked the cops into chasing them off a cliff) and elaborately dressed as them for a photo shoot. Guns of Dubai (mysterious ladies who’d distributed their own bootleg cassettes in empty artillery shells), Hyparxia (the first ever computer-generated band), I.M.M.O.R.T.A.L.I.F.E. (sex pests from the future) – Taraka and Nimai posed as each of them and mapped out what made them special enough to make the final compilation of all time. Taraka says it was surprisingly easy. “Y’know what, it’s kind of crazy,” she accentuates. “I really feel like I almost can’t take credit for how that all came about. It really just sort of happened. I mean, I spend weeks writing one paragraph for a Prince Rama bio, but these just happened. It was like,‘Right, this band are going to be called this, they’re going to wear this, and this is their story!’ It’s like we had this idea to channel these 10 bands, and then we did channel something.” Years spent on the commune and studying conceptual art have meant that Taraka can deliver ideas like this with unwavering confidence. More than once she might contradict herself – loose lipped about her post modern thoughts one minute, dismissing them as something she doesn’t even understand herself the next – but you never want to not believe her. She’d make a great salesman. She particularly likes to ponder the notion of time, that big, old head-scratcher. On ‘Top Ten Hits…’ it’s the end of it; in conversation it’s how a record turns at 33rpm regardless of how fast your car is travelling, or the world is spinning; via her online, lengthy and baffling manifesto The Now Age, it’s whether the present can even exist. (The Now Age cannot be named, for once named, it becomes part of a fixed moment in time, and is thus lost. It is not to be confused with the New Age, because there is nothing new about it. It is, always was, and always will be). So the first rule of The Now Age is that you do not talk about The Now Age? “I feel like once you name something you kind of destroy it,” says Taraka. “Of course, some people will definitely think it’s all a bunch of bullshit, and I think it’s
all bullshit too, but I’m also kind of into it. But it’s fun. I don’t get offended when people aren’t into it.” Last year Taraka gave a lecture on The Now Age at The Clock Tower Gallery in NewYork… from a pool of fake blood,“a medium I’m really fascinated in,” she says. “Like, a simulated death is pretty sick when you think about it, and I’m pretty into that.” Needless to say, Prince Rama is beyond a musical project, even if their spiritual philosophies do directly influence their reverberating chants and thunder drums. Of their true psychedelia, Avey Tare says: “There aren’t many psychedelic bands that I get really into, because a lot of the time it’s really retro, but I could see lots of new stuff going on in Prince Rama’s music and I really loved it.” “I’m coming from a visual art background,” confirms Taraka. “I’m not a musician, I’m an artist. I did mostly conceptual art in school, whatever that means. I feel like I’m always thinking conceptually – I think that musical albums are just a piece of sonic sculpture.” With the kind of exquisite timing that suggests he’s been listening at the door for the last 20 minutes, Chris, the band’s touring bassist, enters the dressing room.“Oh, is this an interview? It’s all lies!” he yells.“She’s talking all kinds of bullshit.” “Yeah, I’m talking some straight-up art school bullshit to you,”Taraka laughs. “Now fuck of, Chris.”
or all her abstract ideas and intensity, Taraka is not without a firm grasp on reality. She knows, for example, that the most successful pop songs are lyrically vague, to a point, so us listeners can complete the puzzle with a little bit of ourselves. “They need to be hollow enough for anyone to project their own world into,” she says. “I didn’t want any of our songs to be like, ‘The world’s gonna end / We’re all gonna die / dur dur dur dur’,” she sings in a moronic, goofy way. “I was trying to write black holes that people can fall into. “The other thing that struck me was that apocalypses can happen on a micro level as well as a macro cosmic
level,” she adds,“and some of the songs that were number 1 on days when the world was predicted to end were apocalypses that happened on a very micro scale, like a breakup or something.Y’know, for Y2K it was Faith Hill ‘Just Breathe’ – this message for survival.” At the time of writing ‘Top Ten Hits…’, both Taraka and Namai had recently split up with their boyfriends, “so that was all stewed into it as well”. But perhaps what makes the album so compelling is the very thing that makes it no more special than a record without such an elaborate plot and presentation – the fact that all recorded sound is “a fossil,” as Taraka puts it. “Every record is an apocalypse because every record is the end of a time,” she reasons. “It’s an artefact of hair and tooth and nail. It can be brought back to life and resurrected, but it is, in essence, a dead thing. And it gets spookier when you’re listening to a record of someone who has died.Their voices remain like sonic phantoms.” I’ve never thought of that when listening to The Doors, say, but of course Taraka is right. It is a little bit weird, dancing to the voice of a dead man. Taraka maintains that an album about Armageddon and one about Utopia, like the 2010’s ‘Architecture of Utopia’ are two of the same, “two sides of the same wormhole”. “In order to reach some utopic space there has to be destruction,” she says, sounding extra cult leader-ish. “But this record is a celebration, for sure. It’s a very happy record. As for the end of the world, I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. I’m into it.” Before I go and prepare my Kool-Aid, I ask Taraka if she thinks discussing spiritual ideas in the modern western world is more difficult than ever, given our overarching cynicism and post-ironic lols? “I think it’s hard to discuss spiritual ideas, period,” she says. “I’m never offended if people don’t get what I’m saying because a lot of the time I don’t even get what I’m saying. I don’t really understand why people try to explain things to begin with. I feel like the more you explain them the more you destroy the essence of them, and it’s hard because in this world you should do interviews and you should explain yourself, but I would just as soon tell everyone, ‘don’t think about anything, just listen, and forget about everything I’ve said’.” I need a lie down.
C ru s h e d B e a k s Sl a ppi ng t h e c u r se of t h e hor ror fa n i n t h e face … 3 0 or 4 0 t i m e s Ph o t o gr a ph e r - Ge m m a H a r r i s | W r i t e r - I a n Ro e b uc k
We’re discussing the plot of little known ’70s schlock horror film Voodoo Burgers, a conversation most peculiar. “It’s an ingredient used in Eastern medicine,” someone whispers. “People have said for years it’s influenced McDonalds.You just have to look on the Internet,” says another. OK. Voodoo Burgers doesn’t exist. Matthew Poile and Alex Morris are throwing around theories about how they got the name Crushed Beaks, and typically it involves plenty of gory chat – “Sometimes people are like, ‘What? Crushed Beats?’, and I have to say, ‘No.You know, when you step on a Pigeon’s head’.” See. A band with a taste for the macabre, it’s not out of step to find talk turning toward movies. Real movies. Real horror movies. “It has permeated our image very strongly, this horror thing,” says Alex. “It might be our unique selling point, but I think we need to readdress the balance a little bit. We’ve only ever been to the cinema together twice. Granted, once was to see a horror movie, but the other was to see stop frame animation, so a nice 50-50 split there. Let’s not get bogged down in this genre thing.” Arguably Crushed Beaks did the bogging down themselves. Matthew’s washed-out rush of garageinfused guitar and Alex’s brutally precise drumming style have been fronted by a slew of gloomy images since they formed a year ago. Dario Argento inspired videos and press photos in graveyards have never been too far away either. “When we re-met at Goldsmiths (the two also went to school together in Guilford) horror was one of the things we bonded about,” says Alex. “We went to the student union together on the first night of Fresher’s week and it was horrendous, not because we were together, I must add.” Matt studied Literature and Alex History. “And Matt does write songs, using words in English,” reasons Alex. These songs – and particularly new single ‘Breakdown’
(a modern noise pop take on motown that starts as a waltz and snaps into a sudden rush of garage) – are why we’re here today. And the band’s live show is quickly garnering a fierce reputation too – the drums’n’guitar duo that make more noise than most bands. Like a reanimated corpse, this horror thing has been hard to shake off, though. Crushed Beaks is clearly a project led aesthetically by black thoughts, but surely not sinister lyrics too, a view held in much of the music press until now. “Yeah, I don’t really get why people say it’s horror inspired lyricism,” says Matthew.“I sort of see it as weird cryptic advice. It’s not gobbledegook. Strangely, I write songs and they’ll turn out to be about something that happened after they were written.” Matthew stumbles as he tries to rationalise this. “Err, I’m not a psychic or anything,” he says. “I just attach the lyrics to something that happened after they were initially conceived. It’s not the price of milk, it’s an emotional observation.” Matt halts deep in thought, and eventually it’s Alex who picks things up, determined to slaughter this critical zombie once and for all.“With the lyrics, the way people intend things is not always how they are perceived,” he says. “Say, when John Carpenter made Halloween, looking at it now you see a pretty reactionary film to the political climate in the late ’70s. Now Carpenter’s not a reactionary type, he was just trying to make a film that looked good and was scary and he’s said as much in interviews. So if you take away the intention from the source it leaves things open to interpretation. It’s potentially dangerous, but that’s how people use culture now; the death of the author thing.” Some welcome clarity from Alex there. “Yeah, but I did reference horror again, didn’t I?” Naturally, then, Crushed Beaks lyrics have been interpreted as horror inspired because they live and breathe in that environment (with a bit of stop frame
animation thrown in). Until recently, Matthew and Alex’s singles, full of tuneful cadence and raw power, have been accompanied by stark but beautiful videos; both ‘Close Ups’ and ‘Grim’ have a twisted edge that has become synonymous with their output, insects included. “Letting locusts jump around the living room was great fun,” grins Alex. “I just ended up putting them on the balcony and setting them free so they could ravish Peckham. “But the video for ‘Breakdown’ was a bit different. It’s kind of cyclical and makes reference to itself, plus he gets whacked in the face.” Alex gleefully points at Matthew. “Yeah, I probably got slapped in the face about 30 or 40 times. At first everyone seemed scared but by the end they were queuing up.” Released at the start of November on new label ASL Records (just after, ahem, Halloween),‘Breakdown’ feels like a departure from Crushed Beak’s previous efforts. Free from distortion and stripped of layers, there’s less thrashing and more clarity. You can hear Matthew’s pained vocal, and Alex’s drums are brittle with a more subtle power than before. “There is some progression, but I think the sound of each song is more to do with the production of each record,” says Matthews.“Plus,‘Breakdown’ lends itself to a different style. Someone the other day said we’ve gone pop. We’ve always been pop as far as I’m concerned, except I produced the first single and I’m not the greatest. Also, I find it really funny weird when people say, ‘oh I prefer your old stuff ’. We haven’t really started. We’ve only been around for a year! It’s like, ‘Whoaah there, give us a chance!’.” Matthew smiles to himself, glad to get that off his chest. So no rapid changes and no sudden movements, that seems to be the bands outlook for 2013. Of course, they have recording plans, too. They’re making their next record on a boat.Their own Mary Celeste.
writers: Austin Laike C h al Ra v e n s C h r i s Wa t k e y s D a n i e l D y la n W r a y David Zammitt IAN ROEBUCK Ma t t h i a s Sc h e r e r Na t h a n W e s t l e y O m a r Ta n t i R e e f Yo u n i s Sa m Wal t o n S t u a r t S t u bb s
Review special 18
Albums of the year
20 Dinosaur Jr. I B e t O n S k y
1 9 T y S e g a l l B a n d S l a u g h t e r h o u s e
18 Sharon Van Etten T r a m p
( P IAS )
R e l e a s e d : S e p t e m b e r 1 7
R e l e a s e d : J u n e 2 5
R e l e a s e d : F e b r u a r y 6
When Dinosaur Jr. got back together in 2009, they simply picked up where they left off. No messing around. Three years and three albums down the line and they are still going as strong as ever, with ‘I Bet On Sky’ being a continuation of everything that has ever made the band great over the years – a perpetual duel between noise and melody, rip-roaring guitar solos and J Mascis’ everbrilliant, slow croaky drawl, as Lou Barlow’s bass charges and rumbles over Murph’s wonderful thrashing. Even though Mascis appears to have the energy and enthusiasm of a sloth on elephant tranquilisers, his band still manage to expel a spunk, snarl and charge that is wonderfully teenage, just like their ongoing hate/hate relationship that suggests Dinosaur Jr. is an addiction for all three them. It’s like they never left the garage, while ‘Watch the Corners’ – the band’s first single from the record – is up there with anything they have ever written. ‘I Bet On Sky’ was and is an infectious and perfectly spliced piece of pop sludge. DDW
2012 has been an eventful year for Ty Segall. Despite still being the tender age of 26, this cherished underground garage rock sensation is a veteran of the San Francisco music scene, and this year he’s outdone his own prolific self, appearing on both US chat shows Conan and Letterman, and releasing three albums since April. But while others hold up either his solo effort ‘Twins’, or ‘Hair’, his collaborative effort with White Fence, for recognition, it was ‘Slaughterhouse’ where this multi-instrumentalist broke from his traditional one-man working methods and he reached his peak. By enlisting the help of his touring band, Segall the garage rock auteur crafted an album that fizzled and popped with slabs of fuzz-drenched riffs and cacophonous drumming. Chock full of spirited home-punk tunes that will continue to jab away at the ears with a keen sense of playfulness, it puts to bed the idea that garage rock is a dead genre. ‘Slaughterhouse’ is an album that will take some beating next year. NW
Let’s be honest, there are very few records indeed during which you’re not tempted, at least once, to skip forward to the next track. Sharon Van Etten’s third album is one of these records, and its deserved success has brought her much wider recognition this year, borne out by the fact that she’ll round out the year playing venues as big as Shepherd’s Bush Empire. ‘Tramps’ veered between oblique, discordant guitar vignettes and beautifully simple acoustic laments; an array of guest appearances from members of The National, Beirut, and The Walkmen added a nice pedigree to a record which, even without such embellishments, could stand alone as a beautifully crafted piece of sonic art. Van Etten is often, and rightfully, mentioned in the same breath as Cat Power, but she possess a distinct artistic identity. At the outset of 2012, ‘Tramps’ reminded us that a massively talented singersongwriter, with fire in her belly and a willingness to bare her soul through her music, is a rare but very precious thing. CW
Sp a c e G h o s t P u r r p Mysterious Phonk: The C h r o n i c l e s Of Sp a c e g h o s t p u r r p
16 Japandroids C e l e b r a t i o n R o c k (Polyvinyl) R e l e a s e d : J u n e 4
(4AD) R e l e a s e d : J u n e 4
‘Mysterious’ and ‘Phonk’ – if those words don’t say it all, they at least come pretty close. This year, Florida’s SpaceGhostPurrp compiled and re-polished material from his various viral mixtapes for this, his debut album proper, released, almost bafflingly, by 4AD. Notably, he hasn’t lost his head since, staying put for the remainder of 2012 in hiphop’s underworld, refusing interviews (we’ve tried) and writing in what the Klan call Raider hieroglyphics (the frivolous use of Xs and Vs that make track titles on ‘Mysterious Phonk’ impossibly to decode – ‘GXXT YVH HXXVD BVZT’ is in actual fact ‘Get Yah Head Bust’). Which brings us to ‘Phonk’ – work of a spelling bee loser on first look, slang for ‘Fuck’ on closer inspection. SpaceGhostPurrp likes to rap about sex (‘SVCK V DICK 2012’), with a little bit of crime thrown in and, on ‘Osiris of Tha East’, a love for music that had this 21-year-old rapping from the age of 7. Lyrically, then, there was nothing on ‘Mysterious Phonk’ we hadn’t already heard, but in terms of production, shopping mall ambience, spliced porno orgasms and samples from Mortal Kombat made for subliminal menace on an album that was purposefully slow enough for us to hear every muggy word the Purrp rolled. An album of boredom, it was murky and homemade, transparently so, and increasingly addictive. SS
AL B UMS
(In The Red)
of the year continued on page 20
Inaction almost killed Japandroids. Inhibited by geography, frustrated by logistics and stifled by a lack of progress, debut album ‘Post Nothing’ was an apathetic statement to that effect – an album created with purpose and intent but released out of stubborn love and flat-lining dedication. Born out of a raw, one-take necessity and driven by a relentless energy and vitality, it was an honest, unfiltered soundtrack to freedom, ambition and kicking against the world. Characterised by anthems, if not the same lyrical ambiguity, ‘Celebration Rock’ followed in equally short, affirming footsteps. Japandroids didn’t just crank up the volume and leave us to colour in the blanks, they were determined to say more, even if it wasn’t vastly different. The result was a relentless, pulsating, punk-rock shellacking where every track was an anthem; every second was precious, every breath as breathless as the last. It made ‘Celebration Rock’ less a follow up and more an affirmation of Japandroids’ ferocious spirit. RY
14 Sauna Youth D r e a m l a n d s
Goat World Music
1 2 K e n d r i ck L a m a r G o o d K i d , m . A . A . d C i t y
( R o ck e t R e c o r d s )
R e l e a s e d : A p r i l 2 3
R e l e a s e d : S e p t e m b e r 3
R e l e a s e d : A u g u s t 2 0
R e l e a s e d : Oc t o b e r 2 1
In an era of uniformity, it’s no faint praise to say that, as the final chopped up vocal of ‘The Money Store’ rings in your ears, you feel that you’ve had a brush with something truly unique. ‘Hacker’, the jittery, stuttering closer to the first of Death Grips’ two albums this year sums up the Sacramento trio’s distinctive ethic beautifully. As almost every critic has stated, this is a collection that’s brimming with claustrophobia, confrontation and paranoia, but it’s also so much more. MC Ride, Zach Hill and Flatlander have a flair for a pop hook that sees ‘The Money Store’ take its rightful place as one of 2012’s most infectious records and every single song here is firmly anchored by a pop sensibility that carries the album, like ‘Nevermind’ and ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ before it, beyond mere aggression and into the realm of measured, relevant popular music, while Ride’s wry sense of humour gives it a slick self-awareness that will keep ‘The Money Store’ feeling fresh for years. DZ
This London quartet are probably tired of having the word ‘art’ wedged into any description of their sound, but the truth is that Sauna Youth, with their combination of Californian lo-fi garage rock, krautrock, postpunk, social disconnect and short fiction, brought this prefix on themselves. To splice these components together into something so cohesive and concise as the songs on ‘Dreamlands’, you have to be a bit, well, arty. Anyone who has seen the band live, however, will know that these guys are no mumbling wallflowers but, along with their mates Cold Pumas and Fair Ohs, one of Britain’s most fun live bands. ‘Dreamlands’ is inevitably a slightly more sedate affair than their performances, but the fat-free production nicely highlights the subtle changes in sound: with singer/drummer Rich Phoenix keeping everything ticking over and guitarist Lindsay Corstorphine continuing to craft by turns relentless and intricate patterns, there is ample breathing space for the ‘art’ in ‘art punk’ to inspire us. MS
A supposed set of voodoo-practising musicians from the tiny village of Korpilombolo in Sweden almost sounds too good to be true. Thankfully Goat’s debut album is even better than their backstory. Bursting forth from what felt like nowhere, ‘World Music’ was a glorious smorgasbord of genres, succeeding in melding styles and melting minds. Ensconced deep in rhythm, it charges and pounds with tribal stomp intensity; guitars buckle, crashing thick and heavy and all tinged with psychedelic clout. ‘World Music’, as a title, really is perfect, although stemming from somewhere so specific, it shrugs off geographical restriction and sets sail across a world of music, from afro-beat to Nigerian and Turkish psych via Bhangra. It’s deeply layered and exuded with glorious and occasionally brutal precision, breathing a life and intensity that throbs like a racing heart. You’ll be hard pushed to find a more encompassing, odd-yet-beautifully-original piece of work all year. DDW
Dr Dre loves any distraction that takes him away from actually finishing his muchdelayed ‘Detox’ album. Luxury headphone ranges, a hologram of 2Pac and, most recently, his musical guardianship Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut. That last one was worth side-lining everything for, though, as ‘good kid…’ is the best mainstream hip hop record since Kanye’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. Yes, it harks back to some of the great ‘90s Californian gangster rap albums, like Ice T’s ‘O.G Original Gangster’ or ‘The Doggfather’, but the stories are harsh modern tales, the beats murky and swirling. It’s built around 26-year-old Lamar’s teenage efforts to avoid getting swallowed up by a world of gang violence and its foundations are concrete solid. ‘The Art Of Peer Pressure’, ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ and ‘Money Trees’ are collectively three of the best songs of the year. Lamar says he wants kids to go back and study this album in 15 years time; ‘good kid…’ has earned its chance to be part of the hip hop curriculum. OT
G r i m e s Visions
10 Flying Lotus U n t i l T h e Q u i e t C o m e s
( 4 AD )
R e l e a s e d : M a r c h 1 2
R e l e a s e d : Oc t o b e r 1
Of all emerging artists in 2012, it was perhaps Grimes – Claire Boucher to her intimates – that climbed highest fastest, and then suffered the inevitable turbulence for her efforts. Around the release of third album ‘Visions’ (not her first or even her second as some reactories liked to point out as they damned the ‘new’), Montreal’s queen of disused warehouse parties was everywhere, and before too long people didn’t like that. The fact that Grimes’ live show remains to this day dangerously underwhelming didn’t help matters, but it would be callous if ‘Visions’ missed out altogether on End of Year lists that she would have topped in April. After all, initial fever created by music is a powerful thing that shouldn’t be undervalued, more and more so in our instantaneously bored digi worlds. Even if you haven’t had ‘Visions’ on rotation since spring, revisit the album now and there’s plenty of that initial excitement in there still – a skewed look at cyborg RnB, as inventive as ever from a human sponge who told us in March that “if Mariah Carey and Aphex Twin came together, that would be the greatest band ever”. It’s a pretty astute sound-bite for ‘Visions’, which has Boucher cherubbing a girlish falsetto over distinctly non-human instrumentations that feel like they couldn’t have been made before 2012. SS
Celestial interludes, gloomy atmospherics and hijacked frequencies helped establish 2010’s ‘Cosmogramma’ as the ubiquitous FlyLo benchmark, but where his second LP bounced between extremes, third album ‘Until the Quiet Comes’’s lozengesmooth production comprehensively raised the bar. A set designed to be enjoyed as one indulgent long-play, it moved away from the busy three-minute bumpers of its predecessor and let the spectral melodies seep, revelling in Brainfeeder protégé Thundercat’s chunky, cosmic bass, and Steven Ellison’s perfectly disjointed beats. Free from the emotional weight of the last album, ‘Until the Quiet Comes’ was refreshed by a permeating sense of optimism where, instead of compressing and conflicting, Ellison let his shape-shifting production play out. It let the fusion of jazz, hip-hop and astral ambience develop and envelop, and bleed into one joyously opulent journey. FlyLo’s determination to craft an album guided by the future made this year’s album a beautiful, defining reality. RY
of the year continued on page 29
Photography by Phil Sharp
1 5 D e a t h G r i p s T h e M o n e y S t o r e
story of 2012 deat h g r i p s A T OUch OF DE AT H: t h e e xt r aor di na ry ta l e of h i p-hop pu n k s g on e ro gue Ph oto gr a ph e r - Jon n y M ag owa n | W r i te r - Da n i e l Dy l a n W r ay
One day, in mid 2011 while trawling through the usual mire of garbage and inane commentary on my Facebook feed, I came across a video. Quickly looking at its still image, I felt lured in, like a porno-shop window glance. It was a grenade-flash insight to a murky, scratchy, sinister underworld.Then I watched the thing. Being authentically freaked out by new music is a difficult feat to achieve these days; a screaming, bearded, black man sat in the front of a car (seat belt firmly in tact – an irony and metaphor so black and dense it’s beyond humour), surrounded by black and white grainy VHShiss, does the trick.The imagery alone was odd, the music odder. Charging pulses of throbbing, industrial barrage twitched and squawked, the vocals coarse and electrified, so deep, malicious and penetrating they felt deranged. Having no prior knowledge of the group, I was none the wiser to the sincere belief this could just be a demented meth head being filmed as he tweaked and spun out of control, his week long bender coming to a grinding, spasmodic halt, culminating in the complete psychological and physical breakdown of a human being. Was it rap? Hardcore? Techno? Grime? Punk? Electro? What it was, was completely irrelevant. Aside from being weirded out and confused, I felt other emotions that had long since evaded my new music-exposure psyche – fear, an indisputable fear. A threat, menace and malevolence spewed from that song (‘Guillotine’) that was beyond palpable, instead becoming a sticky, opaque layer hanging in the back of your mind like an agoraphobic spirit afraid to leave and clasping tightly around your throat. I pounced on the free download mixtape (‘Exmilitary’) that had just come out and listened to it relentlessly, remaining terrified and increasingly perplexed.The visceral, emotional and headbutt brutal sonic assault was enthralling, intriguing and petrifying, but it almost begged the question, do I actually like this? Roll on 2012 and that video I saw has today been viewed well over a million times. And if Death Grips lit a fire in 2011, they slashed and burned their way through the following year. The major labels wanted a taste of the carnage and Sony in-print Epic Records snapped them up, although soon they’d wish they didn’t. February saw tracks released
from their forthcoming debut album; April saw said album (‘The Money Store’) released to widespread critical acclaim. In turn, the band also scheduled a U.S and European tour and promised a second album by the fall.They just as quickly pulled all scheduled dates (on the eve it was due to start) and delivered the news with as much blunt force and antagonism as their album had just spat out. “We are dropping out to complete our next album ‘No Love’. See you when it’s done. (There are no longer any scheduled shows)”. When this was announced the cancellation was news to everyone, including the venues, which had no idea the band weren’t coming until they posted this comment. It was an early indication that Death Grips had no intention of following any prescribed path for 2012 other than their own. What also became blatant was that they couldn’t care less who got trampled in the process. With continued cancelled shows stretching across summer, the buzz and hum seemed to be a little quieter in the Death Grips camp, that is until a release date of October 23 was announced for their second LP, the now newly titled ‘No Love Deep Web’. However, a shitstorm of epic (excuse the pun) proportions was brewing. On September 30, Death Grips announced that their label intended to push back the album they had essentially put all of 2012 on hold for until 2013. Death Grips reacted, they told fans to wait until midnight. On the stroke of midnight 1 October 2012, Death Grips offered up their album for free download. And the cover art? An erect penis with the album title written on in felt pen, of course. While an extended middle finger would stand as an act of rebellion or defiance on the part of many, Death Grips took that one step further with the aid of a throbbing cock. Later that day, BitTorrent announced its ‘List of most legally downloaded music’ for 2012 – Death Grips topped it with a head-spinning 34, 151, 432 downloads. However, upon further investigation, perhaps even more dizzying is the fact that data for this chart had finished being collated on September 19, meaning that astronomical amount of downloads had been racked up pre-‘No Love Deep Web’. Due to confusion over the timing of the release of this information many have attributed these figures to the shock and awe of ‘No Love Deep Web’, yet it seems
impossible to find the real figures post the band’s second album. However, if one wishes to estimate the genuine impact Death Grips had on legal (so note this would not include any downloads of ‘The Money Store’) downloading in 2012, a realistic figure – based on their already huge total – could well be 50,000,000+. Death Grips’ website was soon shut down by their own record label, so claimed the group’s drummer Zach Hill. Epic denied any involvement and the site soon reemerged, but a rift had been built between artist and label that would soon explode. On October 31 Death Grips leaked confidential emails from Epic over the album leak, accompanied with a message of “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOW FUCK OFF”. Many claimed it was a publicity stunt, many saluted Death Grips for sticking it forcefully to the ‘man’ and many accused them of being petulant brats. According to Billboard.com, when Death Grips went for their contract signing with Epic back in October 2011, MC Ride tagged the company’s bathroom with graffiti beforehand, “demonstrating a sense of rebellion that sold executives on the threesome”. However, any such affinity for rebellion had soon dwindled to the point of exhaustion and Death Grips were promptly dropped by the label in November, squashing any claims of a publicity stunt. Loved. Loathed. Feared. Misunderstood. Death Grips can be all of these things and much more yet their antics seem to have certainly created a polarising split in 2012’s musical community. Some crediting them as outlaws; a genuine uncompromising unit whose never-ending assault on the industry and our poor, battered eardrums is a gift sent up directly from Lucifer himself to cure the world. Others bark at their unprofessionalism, willingness to fuck up a deal that many would kill for and their childish, grating and unreasonable behaviour – some even claim they are ‘killing the industry’. Which camp you lie in is somewhat extraneous, because adore or abhor them, Death Grips cannot be accused of being lily-livered, sitting on the fence or exuding creation in moderation or mediocrity.They have had a seismic musical and cultural impact on 2012, one of which the waves and cracks will be felt well into the dawn of 2013 and beyond.You’ll be hard pushed for any artist to top their mad year. In music news, 2012 belongs to them.
Songs of the year
(XL) R e l e a s e d : Ap r i l 9 ||||||||||
04 Under The Westway b y B l u r
R e l e a s e d : O c t o b e r 2 2
R e l e a s e d : A u g u s t 6
02 Get Free b y M a j o r L a z e r feat. Amber Coffman
R e l e a s e d : J u l y 3 0
For a time, Diplo and Switch were considered one and the same; on identical Moombahton pages to give MIA most of what she has between them. So, when Switch buggered off, quitting Major Lazer and leaving Diplo to it, we thought little would change, and certainly not as much as did with ‘Get Free’. Turns out Diplo has a penchant for mellow dub and bubbling synths. Dirty Projector’s Amber Coffman was the perfect foil for this beautiful song of hardship.
05 John Talabot S o W i l l B e N o w featuring Pional
0 6 O n l y i n M y D r e a m s b y A r i e l P i n k ’ s H a u n t e d G r a f f i t i
( 4 AD )
R e l e a s e d : F e b r u a r y 1 3
R e l e a s e d : A u g u s t 2 0 ||||||||||
After months of squat life and welcoming strangers into their Lambeth shithole, Palma Violets finally released something, and it was as brilliant a sound as four boys with guitars can make in the year 2012. It helps that there’s a little of The Libertine and lot of The Clash about their guttural, melodious punk, but to the clank of busted guitars, ‘Best of Friends’ sounded wonderfully unkempt and completely real as it flipped the love song on its head and gruffly ranted about just being mates.
It might have been Olympic fever, simple, comforting familiarity or how diabolical Blur’s other 2012 release (‘The Puritan’) was. It might have been those things, but perhaps ‘Under The Westway’ slowly started to sound like more than a lukewarm ‘The Universal’ because there was something undeniably sweet about it. Albarn’s voice has always carried with it a nostalgic wallop, even, on occasion, when he’s a monkey. Still, nothing quite swells like Blur singing of home and keeping things simple.
Rounding up ‘fin’’s 11 sweat-shimmered cuts was ‘So Will Be Now’, a stately seven minutes of low-tempo deep house euphoria that should be prescribed as a gateway drug to anyone unenlightened enough to think house music is beneath them. A looped cluster of syllables formed a garbled but irresistibly human backdrop to Pional’s soft calls over snappy drums and fuzzed synths, creating a bittersweet mood that’s perfect from the dancefloor to the morning after.
If we printed our most quotable albums of 2012, all others would have come after Ariel Pink’s ‘Mature Themes’, but amongst the record’s dafter one-liners, sausage gags, absurdist croaks and nympho brags was this, a shimmering reminder that Ariel Pink really can write the most classic melodies of anyone thats ever been involved in the US lo-fi/outsider pop scene. Like The Las featuring Brian Wilson, it was a deliciously naïve highlight in our drab summer.
07 Kerosene b y C r y s t a l C a s t l e s
0 8 W u l f s t a n II b y B e a k >
09 Running (Disclosure Remix) b y J e s s i e W a r e
10 Rock And Roll N i g h t c l u b b y M a c D e M a r c o
R e l e a s e d : N o v e m b e r 5
R e l e a s e d : J u l y 2 ?
( P MR )
R e l e a s e d : F e b r u a r y 2 7
R e l e a s e d : M a r c h 1 9
When Beak>’s second album dropped in July, all of its taut krautrock pointed towards this central beast with the menace, poise and precision of a searchlight straight in the eyes. And what a feeling: ‘Wulfstan II’ – named after a medieval Bristolian bishop who campaigned controversially for banning slavery – is a hulking square of a song, a wall of rhythm and texture that feels like Battles minus the ADHD, with added false endings. Spooky, threatening and devastatingly simple, it’s without doubt 2012’s most sinister tune.
Lest anyone fear that Jessie Ware had lost her edge with her over-schmoove debut album of RnB-tinged lover’s rock, Disclosure were there to redress the balance with the kind of club banger remix that would’ve been a highlight down Bagley’s in 1999. With irresistible garage beats, shameless filter sweeps and Ware’s rangy vocals sped up and clipped to perfection, Jessie’s current skin might be painted Sade, but cut her and she still bleeds wonderful two-step naughtiness.
The title track of Mac DeMarco’s debut LP, ‘Rock And Roll Nightclub’ was one sleazy mix of lounge and surf pop, crooned like an arch Lynchian sex pest impersonating Roy Orbison to snare girls and guys too young for him. DeMarco calls it ‘jizz jazz’; music so stained it makes Ariel Pink look like the perfect prom date for your daughter. That the first half of his devilish album followed exactly the same mucky pattern without us caring proves just how good this perv pop is.
Song reviews by AL, CR, RY, SS, SW
‘Jasmine’ emerged unannounced on Jai Paul’s Soundcloud page back in March and sent the hype machine into a giddy, implosive frenzy. Just ten days later it received an official release from XL, untampered with and in its natural state. Nine months on, both Jai and ‘Jasmine’ have gloriously endured. The young producer from the leafy suburb of Rayners Lane remains as aloof and elusive as ever; this track no less exquisite than the forgotten Prince relic it’s always resembled – a silky mix of hushed autotune and soulful nu funk production that sounds as fresh, forward-thinking and as perfectly formed as the moment it surfaced for the first time. This was a track that both earmarked the emergence of a rare new pop talent and defied logic. No demo should ever sound this perfect.
03 Best of Friends b y P a l m a V i o l e t s
It’s a neat trick that Crystal Castles continue to pull – making something you’ve already heard sound if not completely new, then certainly better than you thought was possible. Oppression was theme of the duo’s third album; ‘Kerosene’ one of a few claustrophobic highlights, made up of goblin chatter and cheap hip-hop drums under an ominous cloud of distorted doom. Airflow whistles over speeding vehicles and every now and then Alice Glass is clear enough to deliver super paranoid words of comfort.
Jasmine (demo) b y J a i P a u l
Shows of the year
W ATC H T H E T H RONE L o n d o n O 2 A r e n a , L ONDON
May 21 2012
It was 2012, but it could have be 212AD the way Jay-Z and Kanye West duelled gladiators style, facing each other on great piston platforms that flashed like luminous Rubik Cubes. Staring their opposite number down, Watch The Throne was basically Joust without the pugil sticks. Smack! There’s ‘99 Problems’. Thwack! There’s ‘Diamonds Of Sierra Leone’. West’s got ‘Jesus Walks’, ‘Gold Digger’ and ‘Monster’; Jay-Z lands ‘Izzo’, ‘Hard Knock Life’, ‘Big Pimpin’’, ‘Run This Town’ and ‘Empire State Of Mind’. You get the picture. And when two of hip hop’s finest weren’t slugging it out track-fortrack, they stood side by side to perform the bits of ‘Watch The Throne’ worth hearing, on a sparsely decorated stage, save for a magnificent US flag backdrop. Cuts like ‘H*A*M’, ‘Otis’ and ‘No Church In The Wild’ were all huge. And the sound. The sound was ridiculous. Bass so crisp it travelled through you like a bullet train. You’ll have heard this by now, but for the finale – that’s after three hours of non-stop hits – they reload ‘Niggas In Paris’ four times. That’s almost 20 minutes of 18,000 people losing control of their senses and begging for the same track over and over. The whole thing was completely audacious, an exhibition in raw skill, showmanship and arrogance. It was frankly presidential. Two of the great rappers, one of the greatest shows. OT
Gabriel Bruce a t Th e Ol d Q u e e n ’ s H e a d , L o n d o n
A p r i l 2 6 t h
Photography by Adam Shoesmith
As theatrically show-stopping as Gabriel Bruce’s flesh-crawling debut hymn ‘Sleep Paralysis’ was, it’s not what landed the former Loverman singer on our front cover in September. It wasn’t even Bruce’s debut album, due out by now but momentarily shelved until 2013. It was this show, performed in a pub but delivered like singing for survival. Gabriel Bruce (and his synchronised backing singers, too) likes to dance, to songs he’s written about love and death and religious imagery. In The Old Queen’s Head, he jived on his tiptoes, clasped his hands and crooked his elbows, like a Thriller zombie leaping from the shadows to pursue his own career as a vaudevillian showman. He purred and bellowed the will-be hits that are coming next year, inspired by Leonard Cohen one minute and Bruce Springsteen the next. It was impossible to not be instantly sold. AL
Savages at Madame Jojo’s, London
Azealia Banks at Heaven, London
05 Perfume Genius A t L e D i v a n d u M o n d e , P a r i s
3rd April 2012
Back in April, before the wave of hype that came with the release of split single ‘Husbands’/’Flying to Berlin’ in August, before the string of attention-grabbing festival appearances, before Later... with Jools Fucking Holland, we managed to catch Savages in their natural habitat, on stage and feral. Singer Jehnny Beth stalked Madame JoJo’s corner platform like a raven-haired Rosemary after having her baby, all wide eyes and gaunt cheeks and wild shrieks interspersed with bitter mantras – “Hit me! Hit me!”, “She will! She will!” – while behind her a trio of louche ladies provided a brittle, poisonous backdrop of post-punk minimalism. It was like knocking back a sharp gin and tonic after months of beery, bleary, chillwave-induced apathy – and it was only their fifth fucking gig, EVER. CR
You’ve never seen a young woman so sure of herself and her own sexual allure as when Azealia Banks played the UK for the very first time in February. The T-shirts for sale in the bar were emblazoned with what else but That Cunt Gettin’ Eaten, but there was nothing crass about Banks herself, modestly dressed in a tight but covered oriental dress, which she swapped halfway through for an identical red one. Similarly, the free candyfloss next to the obscene apparel might have been overtly cutesy, but not enough to detract from the rapper’s potty-mouthed party hip-hop. Aided by two playful glitter cannons and a balloon drop in the middle of ‘212’, everyone agreed that the only thing to do was follow Azealia’s lead and go fucking mental, fully aware that she’ll never play a show even close to this size again. SS
An old stomping ground for both Charles Baudelaire and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Le Divan du Monde thrives on the romantic notions of Paris. As Spring turned to Summer in the teeming alleys of Pigalle there couldn’t have been a more perfect setting to see Mike Hadreas sing us his telling, personal stories. A sumptuous, neo-gothic interior perhaps more suited to vaudeville than the plaintive piano ballads of Perfume Genius welcomed a surprisingly buoyant crowd; a crowd determined to taste the debauchery that Henri would have revelled in all those years ago, yet still they managed to treat the stage with hushed reverence. The harrowing, bleak parts of both ‘Learning’ and ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ were explored here with such tenderness that much of the audience teetered on woops of joy and sobbing tears, Paris melting in Handreas’ hands. IR
Books of the year B y J a n i n e a n d L e e Bu l l m a n
Q&A ...with our author of the y e a r , Mu s i c j o u r n a l i s t turned noir crime writer Cathi Unsworth ||||||||||
Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth
Cathi Unsworth’s fourth novel, Weirdo, felt like the work of a writer hitting their stride. The world Unsworth created within its pages will be startlingly familiar to anyone who has ever touched base with the dark side of the teenage dream and spent long days and nights listening obsessively to those songs that said more about your life than you ever could. Weirdo centres around a twenty-year-old murder case involving the local goth kids in a seaside town that is reopened by an ex-policeman turned private eye who soon finds out that the neon-lit town he has found himself in is a maze of dark secrets. Interwoven throughout the story is a genuinely creepy tale of vendetta, black magic and, because it’s Cathi Unsworth, music, as she allows her rock’n’roll background to seep into every page. But it’s perhaps her portrayal of the intricacies of teenage cliques that are most accurate, evoking perfectly the feelings and frustrations of kids with big dreams trapped in small towns. Weirdo is as good as British noir fiction currently gets.
This year you gave us Weirdo, essentially about crime, but with a noted nod to music. Does your previous career as a music journalist inform your fiction?
“I think it does, totally. Music has always been as important to me as writing, as I got my first break on a music paper after a teenage obsession with music. And I can’t imagine writing anything that didn’t have a soundtrack running through it, what better way to evoke the time and place of an era than the music that you would have heard on the radios, jukeboxes and in the clubs and dancehalls? As well as the fact that if you work in the music business for a while, you meet so many characters - practically the full range of heroes and villians, dreamers and schemers, oddballs and romantics that you need to populate a good crime novel with!” What can we expect from you next?
H o u s e o f Ru m o u r by Jake Arnott
Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers
( Sc e p t r e )
Rather than a straightforward novel, Jake Arnott presented House of Rumour as a collection of short stories; whispered histories uniting a dizzying array of characters both real and fictional, including a welcome return appearance from Satanworshipping merry prankster Alister Crowley, who appeared in Arnott’s last novel, and here finds himself at home amongst the well known, the infamous and the almost forgotten. Since his debut novel (1991’s London noir classic The Long Firm), Arnott has become an expert at blending fact, fiction and fantasy so elegantly that it becomes no longer possible to tell where one ends and the other begins, and The House of Rumour continued this tradition on an epic scale. Here, dimly lit corners of the past were thoroughly researched and deftly reinvented to deliver a brilliantly sideways look at history.
King Crow by Michael Stewart
Benjamin Myers, the writer responsible for The Book of Fuck and Richard, the novel the offered a fictiona account of the life of Manic Street Preacher Richy Edwards, this year moved to the country and wrote his most vivid and accomplished work yet. Pig Iron is set within the closed, dangerous and very secret world of the traveling community, specifically the highly illegal bare-knuckle boxing scene, which provided the perfect setting for Myers, who is at his best when writing about what he calls life’s “loners, sensitive souls and psychopaths”. In Pig Iron, as in all of Myers’ books, beauty and brutality co-exist easily on the page and reminded us that in amongst all the ghost-written celebrity bios and fifty shades of vampire bullshit there are still original and urgent voices writing new, exciting and uncompromising fiction.
05 Looking Back At Me by Wilko Johnson w i t h Z o e H o w e
Also published by Bluemoose this year was Michael Stewart’s marvellous debut novel King Crow – a book that follows the fortunes of Paul Cooper, an alienated Salford teenager who finds solace from the chaos of home and school by escaping into a psychological world populated by his beloved birds. No matter how scary, prophetic, happy or sad the incident, Paul’s birds are always on hand (or on high) to make sense and find order in an increasingly fucked up world. A quiet, unassuming boy growing up in Salford, Paul soon attracts the unwanted attention of local bully Ashley and finds himself thrown into a shadowy world of drug dealers, stolen cars and finger torture. Inspired as much by the music of The Fall as the tales of Edgar Allen Poe, King Crow was this year’s most sophisticated and surprising debut novel.
( C a d i z Mu s i c )
Good rock biographies are hard to come by these days. Most of the good stories have been told a thousand times. Most, but not all. Zoe Howe, author of the Slits biography Typical Girls teamed up with Wilko Johnson this year, the angular six-string guitar player with the sharp black suit and amphetamine twitch who played in, amongst others, Dr. Feelgood and The Blockheads. The book the pair of them came up with was much like its subject – in turns funny, exciting, unpredictable and always completely unique. Back in the black and white world of the early to mid-seventies, before punk took hold and changed everything forever, for those that knew where to look there were signs out there that something new was on its way. Wilko Johnson was one of those signs, this is his book, and you should read it.
“I am starting to write a story that begins amid the Blitz in London, and has certain themes in common with all my books. I really want to fully explore the links between crime, police, politics, celebrity, press and pop culture, and I thought that was a good place to begin – the War and its aftermath, the beginnings of pop culture. I really enjoyed all the historical research I did for [2009 novel] Bad Penny Blues and I have in mind that this could maybe be the start of a series of books that move from the Forties up until the present day. So I may be some time. Which books have you enjoyed this year?
“I think my favourite book of the year was a non-fiction one, The Natural History of Ghosts by Roger Clarke, which is a cultural history of the supernatural, taking in pyschology, medicine, witchcraft, religion, superstition, pop culture and societal shifts and how they are reflected in the changes in hauntings and apparitions that people see down the years. Clarke is a proper Fortean and a very entertaining writer and he takes the view that, because people always have and always will see ghosts, let’s put to one side whether they are the wandering spirits of the dead or not and just take a look at how our belief in the unknown impacts on our society. I also really loved The Girl in Berlin by Elizabeth Wilson, one of our most elegant crime writers; Jake Arnott’s phenomenal The House of Rumour; Anthony Cartwright’s How I Killed Margaret Thatcher; and Syd Moore’s Witch Hunt, which puts forward a chilling theory about a man who I also alluded to in Weirdo,The Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins.”
EP’s of the year
TNGHT TNGHT (Warp) R e l e a s e d : J u l y 2 3 ||||||||||
Hudson Mohawke probably thinks someone’s put his digits on Twitter, the amount of calls he’s been fielding recently. As if Ross Birchard’s debut album for Warp – 2009’s ‘Butter’ – didn’t prick up enough influential ears, his most recent dalliance certainly has. Kanye West, Chris Brown and Bjork are just a few after some action. All the while, it just sounds like the electronic magician is just having fun with TNGHT, his project with Montreal producer Lunice. There’s only one vocal sample on the whole of this debut EP; the rest is innovative, instrumental hip-hop. Opening up, there’s the snaky ‘Top Floor’ and the crunchy ‘Goooo’,
but it’s the colossal beefcakes of ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Bugg’n’ that deserve the most attention. The latter even landed on Radio 1’s playlist and prompted the never-credible DJ Fearne Cotton to blurt something along the lines of: “What the hell is this?!”, live on air. In a sense, she’s right though. It sounds like two dudes smacking a bunch of half-empty milk bottles with a set of panpipes in a gas works. Really, it’s the kind of genre-stretching record that would never have made it further than Annie Nightingale’s record box five years ago. For that reason alone, we should be pleased that Glasgow’s most-wanted talent is having so much fun. OT
03 Kwes M e a n t i m e
04 Craft Spells G a l l e r y
05 Chet Faker T h i n k i n g I n T e x t u r e s
R e l e a s e d : Ap r i l 3 0
R e l e a s e d 2 5 J u n e
R e l e a s e d Ap r i l 2
R e l e a s e d : A u g u s t 1 3
At the start of 2012, having signed to Warp and completed debut album precursor ‘Meantime’, it looked like ‘free pop’ producer Kwes had finally done percolating. But no – we’ve had to make do with these four tracks this year: a surprisingly substantial diet of nu soul and alt-electro. ‘Meantime’ had a bit of everything from a young man inspired by just as much. Yawning to life with the twinkling ambience of ‘Klee’, ‘Bashful’’s following disco shuffle then let us know just how selfaware of his coyness Kwes is. Never mind the money, bitches and rims; a cream Skoda will do him fine. By ‘Honey’, Kwes was out of his shell, delivering a creaking love song complete with more found sounds and Metronomy-like electronica, before the 7-minute-long ‘LGOYH’ indulged in all manner of sonic delights, from falsetto RnB vocals to xylophone riffs, dirge guitars, fuzzy bass, typewriters snapping and aerosols spraying. A playfully exquisite EP indeed. SS
Sometimes we can do with a reminder that California isn’t all skateboarding with Wavves, fucking with Warpaint and listening to The Ronnettes with Dum Dum Girls. It can be that, but it can also be as boring as shittown life anywhere in the world. California isn’t Los Angeles and Hollywood, after all, it’s just as much Stockton, where Craft Spells aka Justin Paul Vallesteros lives and longs to escape from. To give you an idea of the kind of place Stockton is, it hosts an annual Asparagus Festival. Yeah. Vallesteros combats such vegetable drudgery by making New Order feel young and hopeful again to startling affect. “This could be my chance to get away from this place,” he murmurs on ‘Warmth’ to the nostalgic rush of a Factory Records drum machine and the glimmer of delay pedal guitars, while the double speed of ‘Still Left With Me’ felt sprinting down a canyon. ‘Gallery’ was a heady summer mix of sobering lacklustre and dreaming big. AL
As Chet Faker’s debut EP clipped into being, you could feel the lights dim with each dulcet piano tone and deadened, night-bus beat. It was like Air hanging with James Blake. Then came the Australian’s voice, gruff like any soulman should be. Faker sounded old and possibly black, but he was neither. Ignoring the Incubus-sounding ‘Terms and Conditions’, and taking the intricate cover of Blackstreet’s ‘No Digity’ as the given master stroke it was, ‘Thinking In Textures’’s timing was brilliantly out of time – a year after Blake, Woon and so many others oversaturated this kind of postdubstep neo soul. By the end, the mood has become so mellow you’re sat in complete darkness, following the Gold Panda-ish, cut’n’shut judder of ‘Cigarette And Chocolate’ and the vinyl crackle of a jazzy pop that might have been at times glaringly pedestrian but was quite remarkable for a record made in a bedroom. SL
Two years ago, in our 2010 Review Issue, we gave away our top 10 albums. Last year, we didn’t. Maths is maths, and we owe you 10 albums, so this year you can win every single long player we’ve loved so much in 2012. It seems like a good way for you to see just how accurate our top 20 is. To be in with a chance of winning everything on CD (save for a vinyl copy of Sauna Youth’s ‘Dreamlands’ – it’s the only way it comes), answer this simple question.
In 2011, the Loud And Quiet album of the year was…
02 Public Service B r o a d c a s t i n g T h e W a r R o o m
(Test Car Recordings)
When something as original, and as genuinely creative as ‘The War Room’ comes along, it reaffirms one’s faith in alternative music. This London duo have been knocking around for a couple of years, but it took this EP to really show us the power of their musical alchemy; fusing strong elements of post-rock, electronica, and even a smidgen of folk with plumby-voiced samples from decades-old public information films. The sense of unease carried by these wartime propaganda samples was reinforced by the music, which felt urgent and occasionally paranoid. It’ll be interesting to see if the band can develop their sound further – surely there are only so many old wartime reels they can raid – but we can’t wait to see what they come up with next. In the meantime, ‘The War Room’ remains probably the most original and dramatic eighteen minutes of music you’ll have heard this year. CW
Win Our Top 20 Albums
( C a p t u r e d T r a c ks )
( C h e ss C l u b )
a – ‘Let England Shake’ by PJ Harvey B
– ‘Bon Iver’ by Bon Iver
c – ‘Dye It Blonde’ by Smith Westerns All answers must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 January 2013.
2012’s great swan song c a r t e r t u t t i vo i d E s se n t i a l ly a ba n d t h at on ly e x i st e d f or t h e du r at ion of on e l i v e show i n M ay 2 011, C a rt e r T u t t i Voi d br i e f ly r e su r r ec t e d t h em se lv e s t h i s y e a r t o de l i v e r a l i v e r ecor di ng of t h e i r on ly pe r f or m a nce . ‘ T r av e r se’ wa s t h e i r f i na l pa rt i ng gi f t a n d a n e at e n d t o a n e w l e ge n d. Ph o t o gr a ph e r - Ga b r i e l gr ee n | W r i t e r - c h a l r av e n s
For a simple rock and roll gig to attain legendary status, it must induce an element of fiction in its retelling. The people must whisper and proclaim and brag about it as though it wasn’t quite real; a strange blip on the spacetime continuum that allowed a thousand fans to squeeze into a room made for a hundred. Legends, by definition, tend to skirt the supernatural. They also, by definition, belong to a previous era.The Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, Public Enemy at Hammersmith Odeon, Throbbing Gristle’s Prostitution Show at the ICA – take the venue’s capacity and double it, and that’s the number of fans who’ll tell you, “I was there.” But the show that sowed the seed for this interview was no simple rock and roll gig, and these are no ordinary legends. And talking of Throbbing Gristle, those perverse pioneers of avant-garde noise and the shape-shifting genre we still call ‘industrial’, it’s one half of that now defunct operation who sit before me today, forming two-thirds of a pan-generational supergroup which, following their single one hour show in May 2011, is also effectively defunct. Last year, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti (who’ve been releasing music as Chris & Cosey, and latterly Carter Tutti, since Throbbing Gristle first disbanded in 1981), called in Nik Void of London-based industrial resurrectionists Factory Floor, just before a gig they had lined up at Camden’s Roundhouse, part of a two-day festival organised by record label Mute. A week of bashing about at Carter and Tutti’s home and studio in Norfolk was enough to nail down a 40 minute set, but they still had no idea how the show would turn out. “Nik came to the studio in the house, and we just did some improvising together to see how well we gelled and if we liked the foundation that Chris had prepared for us,” says Tutti, speaking from underneath the same dark fringe that framed her face at the ICA in 1976, when a Tory MP infamously dubbed Throbbing Gristle “wreckers of civilisation” for their naked, blood-smeared performance art. That urge to provoke a spontaneous event has run through Carter and Tutti’s work for decades, from
experimental happenings in the ‘70s as part of art collective COUM Transmissions, to the disjunction between Throbbing Gristle’s recorded output and their knife-edge live performances. The one-off Carter Tutti Void show was no exception. “The main thing was to keep it as fresh as possible, so we just did two run-throughs, didn’t we? And then we said right, let’s take it to the Roundhouse and see what happens,” says Tutti. “And the atmosphere in the room was so good that it kind of fed the whole thing and it just became this, like, not even a monster – it was a wonderful kind of feeling in the room, and it just built and built and just flowed. I mean, I can’t remember doing much, really, can you?” “No!” says Void, prompting laughter from the ex-TG pair.They’ve listened back to it many times and still find it hard to distinguish the sounds each player was responsible for. “I even think now, well, who’s doing that? Because quite often you’re answering each other,” says Tutti. “I pretty much knew what I was doing, but I couldn’t really pick out between them two what they were doing,” adds Carter, who provided the drum sequences that underpinned Tutti and Void’s groaning, grating guitar manipulations. “We all developed our own language,” explains Void. “Cosey and I occupy a similar space within music, but when we met and started playing together we realised we occupied a different tone, and that allowed us to have this question and answer session, and we just built on that didn’t we? It was a listening process, as opposed to remembering what we’d done before and learning to play something.” “What was that difference in tone?” I ask. “We both play guitars manipulated through electronics, and I think [Cosey’s] are slightly deeper to mine – mine’s really high and Cosey’s is quite low, and they just seemed to work together in an almost animalistic way.” “It’s very different live than in the studio,” adds Tutti. “Once you get through a PA it has a power, a momentum
all of its own, and that’s what you jump on and you ride with it. And that combination, with the audience as well and the energy in the room, I think that’s what really generated the whole piece.” The trio performed without fuss or embellishment, under stark lights among a landscape of cables, boxes and machines. “You saw the mechanics of the process, that’s what it was about,” says Tutti. “That’s what’s so good about the audience, ‘cos they’re aware that you’re creating it, it’s not playback, it’s not regurgitating songs they’ve heard before, so they are part of the process.” “And how the audience reacted definitely influenced how we played,” adds Carter. The resulting album, ‘Transverse’, is a guttural rasp from the ravaged carcass of machine music, a white-hot flash of metal-on-metal like replicants rutting on an rusted iron stage. Practically no one was there that night in the Roundhouse’s tiny second room: perhaps a hundred or two, and it was bursting at the seams, so much so that this writer was turned away and had to make do with a pumping rave revival set from Moby in the venue’s main space. But reports of a mesmerising and visceral performance from the trio trickled through, sowing that seed needed to grow a legend. The way these things work, three or four hundred people now confidently state that they bore witness to the birth, life and premature death of Carter TuttiVoid.And the legend spread with the help of a stonkingly sharp artefact of that performance, released in March this year. “We took along a little recorder, just to record it for historical purposes,” says Carter, “but we didn’t know there was this massive OB [outside broadcasting] truck out the back recording! We thought we’d got a little recording and then Mute said,‘oh, we’ve got a multitrack recording of it from the desk!’ That’s why it sounds as good as it does, I mean, it sounds like a studio album almost, it doesn’t sound like a live album.” Usually, the three of them find themselves recording at home – Carter and Tutti in the studio they’ve been
building since the ‘80s, and Void with Factory Floor in their London warehouse – in a long, considered process. ‘Transverse’, in contrast, was rehearsed and recorded in the space of a few weeks. Was it a refreshing change to their usual approach? “It’s amazing,” laughs Void, as Carter adds, ���I wish we could do it all the time!” “Sometimes I wonder what the outcome would be if we decided to spend two months together working on something,” says Void. “I think it would be a very different record, and that’s what’s so great about this, it’s such an honest record, it’s just honestly what was coming out of us at that time. Sometimes when you meet people and you get chemistry it doesn’t get recorded, and that’s kind of what [‘Transverse’] is.” An undeniable part of the record’s slow-burn success this year is its hypnotic cover, a mind-bending piece of monochrome op art that seems to quiver in front of your eyes. Once you’ve seen it, the urge to purchase it is overwhelming. “I thought it would be nice to have something that actually moved when you went near it, rather than just sit there and be a pretty picture,” says Tutti. “So for me it was all about the fact that it’s got a bit of energy there, unsuspectingly, and you think, what was that? It also speaks about the actual concept of the thing, the three of us together, the transverse – Nik’s sort of cutting across
the Carter Tutti part here, and we have jointly cut across what she’s done with Factory Floor, and that’s what it’s all about.” None of the three are trained musicians, and they all agree that their lack of knowledge is a vital element of their music. Have they consciously avoided learning too much about their craft? “You obtain your own skillset through what you do,” says Carter. “You become proficient in your own style,” Tutti agrees. “I was taught to play the piano when I was 11, but...” “You don’t play piano!” laughs Chris. “I started stripping it down and playing it like a harp, it just sounded better! The thing is, I’ve never felt that a structured formula for music was a vehicle for me to express my feelings. Someone else wrote how to do that. They weren’t me. I don’t see how that could even be possible.” Their efforts to take the recording process into their own hands and avoid prescriptive musical structures neatly reflects the philosophy of self-reliance that both bands take seriously. Do they see themselves as overtly political, still? “I think the music both [Nik] and us make is a protest in its own way,” says Tutti. “The music industry is pretty hard work at the
moment, so we decide how to put things out and who with,” says Void. “We don’t want to restrict ourselves to one label, which I guess is a kind of protest against doing things the normal way, and we try really hard to be selfsufficient. I think that’s how we were raised by TG, you know?” “There’s lots of parallels,” agrees Carter. The problem with playing by your own rules is that it can leave us fans pretty disappointed. Carter Tutti Void played four songs and immediately evaporated. They’re sitting in front of me now, but as far as being an active band goes, they’re no longer a going concern. So come on – might there be more from Carter Tutti Void in the future? “We’ve had loads of offers to do gigs,” says Tutti, “[but] people would go along expecting to hear the album. Just by the nature of the way we did it the first time, it’s gonna have to be different every time.” “That’s exactly how I felt,” agreesVoid.“If we worked together in the studio it probably wouldn’t have the same energy. It would have to be something completely unique and different.” While we wait for the trio to work out how they might ever collaborate again,Void continues to work on Factory Floor’s first proper full-length album, due out next year, which follows the single ‘Two Different Ways’ released on DFA in November. The band also recently collaborated with artist Hannah Sawtell at the ICA, a move that uncannily parallels Throbbing Gristle’s association with the London art gallery, though presumably with less accompanying tabloid hysteria. Meanwhile, Carter and Tutti are wrapping up Throbbing Gristle for good with the release of a double album, the first half of which is a cover of Nico’s maudlin classic ‘Desertshore’, featuring vocals from an estimable cadre of artists including Antony Hegarty, French film director Gaspar Noé and porn star-turned-musician Sasha Grey. They’d been working on it with former Throbbing Gristle bandmate Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson until his unexpected death in 2010. “Someone said, just after he died, ‘will you be finishing Desertshore for him?’” says Tutti.“And we said, ‘yeah, of course we will’ – kneejerk reaction.We couldn’t work on it for quite a while because it was just too upsetting, but then as we started working it kind of formed itself, it had a lovely momentum about it and it wasn’t at all angst ridden, was it? The tracks came together almost like magic.” ‘The Final Report’, a collection of tracks completed from the last sessions with Sleazy in 2009 and 2010, completes the double album and the lifespan of Throbbing Gristle. With performances of those records still a possibility, and the couple’s own far-reaching back catalogue still to be added to, it somehow seems unlikely that Carter Tutti Void will get a second airing. Or does it? Is there the slightest chance of another record? They glance at each other, smiling. “Possibly,” says Carter. “Yes,” adds Void. Tutti adds the final word.“I don’t see how we can say no, really,” she smiles.
Dan Deacon Am e r i c a
08 Bat For Lashes T h e H a u n t e d M a n
R e l e a s e d : A u g u s t 2 7
R e l e a s e d : O c t o b e r 1 5
Of course, growing up is hard to do, but if you manage it without coming across a) self-righteous, b) smug, or c) boring, then bring it on. So when recovering electroprankster Dan Deacon named his latest in a series of increasingly sensible records ‘America’, with all the portentousness that accompanies that word in such a divisive election year, it could’ve gone either way. Thankfully though, Deacon’s “America” wasn’t the one of bickering political slugfests that we saw in November, but a joyous lark through its backwaters and sprawling landscapes brought to you by chamber orchestras, thunderous electronics and subtle drones and loops that felt accomplished and sophisticated but never dull. Its 22-minute suite for strings, horns and noise, in particular, was a joy: while Deacon fans of old would find little there in common with his DIY-techno past, there was plenty to whet the appetite for Deacon’s future – proof, if ever it was needed, that sometimes the best tricks are performed by old dogs. SW
Most people don’t return to reality atop a Malibu cliff in the family home of Beck, toying with vintage synths and having drummachine drums-offs with alt-pop’s most accomplished Loser. Two fantastic albums had pulled Natasha Khan deep into an enchanted forest of her own making, though; tea with The Beck’s was comparatively normal, and a quick route back to Khan’s actual self. But where ‘Marilyn’ – ‘The Haunted Man’’s only song featuring Beck – still had a sense of guarded metaphor about it, Bat For Lashes’ third album was largely, as intended, an album of naked truths. It worked because anyone with half a heart wants Khan to find the peace she’s forever in search of, and here she sounded more optimistic than ever about finding it. Look to the stark and beautiful ‘Laura’ to see that this is still no Saturday night banger, but tracks like ‘Lilies’ and ‘Rest Your Head’ have the singer gleefully praising life and doing the comforting for once, to a smart, mid-tempo disco beat, as honest as Natasha Khan has ever been. SS
07 Frank Ocean C h a n n e l O r a n g e ’ (Mercury) R e l e a s e d : J u l y 1 6
Photography by Elliot Kennedy
With all the gossip and blather about teaming up with Jay-Z, Kanye and Andre, hanging with those teen tykes Odd Future, sampling Coldplay and The Eagles with style and, of course, that brave and beautiful blog post about his possibly-maybe sexuality, it can be easy to overlook the actual content of Frank Ocean’s phenomenal major label debut. He’d been hyped to high heaven, but boy, did he live up to it on ‘channel ORANGE’, an album that’s not only gorgeously produced and packed with hits but also joyously wonky and freeform, touching on everything from the “domesticated paradise” of moneyed West Coast teens to America’s lost souls “smoking stones in broken homes”. His outsider stance as a middle-class, apparently bisexual black man in hip hop lends an added wisdom to his inimitable broken and bruised voice as he sings about money, love and sex in a style that immediately puts him in the canon of solo innovators stretching from Prince to the aforementioned Andre 3000 and beyond. CR
06 Kindness World, You Need A C h a n g e o f M i n d (Polydor) R e l e a s e d : M a r c h 1 9 ||||||||||
It’s certainly the best album title of the year, pointedly aimed at a blinkered pop world, and from a man intent on creating music from the position of an enthusiast. Adam Bainbridge’s debut album should have been bigger than it was, but there’s something in its craft – its connoisseur take on ’80s New York disco; its summer evening hum; its wantonly shiny production at the hands of French Grammy winner Philippe Zdar – that has us thinking it’ll age like wine. When Kindness returns with a second album, it might be without the wah-ka-wahka funk guitars, the chillwave homage to The Replacements or the bold attempt at covering the Eastenders theme tune, but there’s sure to be a bunch of people saying, “well, I always liked his first record.” Because ‘World, You Need a Change of Mind’ remains a hopelessly ambitious attempt at a commercial album, on which Kindness refused to hide behind lo-fi fizz and reverb. Live by the disco, die by the disco. AL
of the year continued on page 31
05 Carter Tutti Void T r a n v e r s e ’
04 Polica G i v e Y o u T h e G h o s t
R e l e a s e d : M a r c h 2 6
R e l e a s e d : Ap r i l 3 0
In the late spring of 2011 – which in so many ways seems like yesterday, what with Obama in the White House, strife in the Middle East, a double-dip recession and another new album from Rihanna – a demonic thing was gestating in an old schoolhouse in Norfolk. For two weeks it grew, testing its shaky limbs before its steel skeleton finally lurched into life at the Roundhouse where, as part of Mute’s Short Circuit two-dayer, it breathed its only breath over the course of a 40-minute, 4-song show. The progeny of ex-Throbbing Gristle members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, along with Factory Floor’s Nik Void, ‘Transverse’ is a near-faultless recording of that set, released in March this year, a visceral artefact of three artists in full flow, responding on the fly as guitars groan and spasm in conversation over a ticking timebomb rhythm. We weren’t there, we didn’t see it – but we can at least pretend with this record; a still-beating heart of a singular performance. CR
Shortly before the release of Polica’s debut album in April, expectations were piled high, first by Jay-Z, by way of his glowing Life + Times blog, and then by Justin Vernon, fresh from a Bon Iver Grammy win and convinced that this Minneapolis project of Gayngs’ leader Ryan Olson and singer Channy Leaneagh was “the best band I’ve ever heard in my life.” ‘Give You The Ghost’’s excellence turned out to be far more stealth than the sheen of Rock Nation and even Bon Iver’s pre-mainstream-acceptance ways, though. It was not a record to instantly swoon over, perhaps because Leaneagh’s vocoder vocals did plenty of that on our behalf, fully embracing autotune as an instrument, making T Pain sound like Michael Bublé. No, ‘Give You The Ghost’ was a record best discovered from the room next door, as it slowly became more and more impossible to ignore, Leaneagh’s robo gargles hanging on the air like curls of blue smoke. In a year where so many became obsessed with trying to reinvent RnB, Polica were the band that managed it most. SS
( M e mp h i s I n d u s t r i e s )
A year as k i n dn e s s A da m Ba i n br i d ge r ev i si t s h i s roc k y 2 01 2 Pho t o gr aph e r - L e on di ape r | W r i t e r - S t ua rt s t u bb s
On 5 March 2012, having heard his pristine reimagination of New York City’s early ’80s disco sound, we photographed and interviewed Adam Bainbridge aka Kindness for the cover feature of Loud And Quiet 36. We loved ‘World, You Need a Change of Mind’ – Bainbridge’s slick, vintage RnB debut, hi-fi against the grain and produced by Grammy decorated Frenchman Philippe Zdar – and we thought everyone else would too.We were wrong. Plenty of people did and do get off on the record’s funk-imbued city heat like Larry Levan in The Paradise Garage, but not everyone. It split the crowd like Bainbridge knew a record so shiny would, stating in March that “[hi-fi] leaves you nowhere to hide. If you just present what’s there, you’re offering people a choice to say it’s good or bad. With the album, people might hate it, but at least it’s been presented to them honestly.” In eight years of Loud And Quiet, we’ve rarely interviewed an artist twice, and never in the same year around the same release. But there’s something about Bainbridge. Namely a candour that often follows quiet contemplation once you’ve asked him a question.When I ask if he’s had a good year he remains silent for 12 seconds, which feels like forever when you actually sit down and count it out. He finally concedes a simple “yes”. “But it’s not been resoundingly positive?” I say. “On reflection it’s a big yes, but it hasn’t been easy.” He’s keen to point out 2012’s personal highlights (“Meeting and playing shows with great people; pushing ourselves as performers; hearing a lot of inspiring music giving us hope to make even better music the next time around.”), but Bainbridge largely found the whole business of his debut album to be “more terrifying the longer it’s been out”. He’s happy to discuss the cons, and, one feels, is quick to bypass the record’s class with modest pace – after all, ‘World, You Need a Change of Mind’ is not without its admirers. Its brazen employment of high production values is a triumph in itself. “I had a foolhardy, unwavering confidence,” says
Bainbridge.“I love the album that I made with Philippe, and despite my lack of verbal communication and presence I assumed the love and joy and passion that percolated into it would reach the consciousness of the people that listened to it, but it’s not that straight forward.” By “lack of verbal communication”, Bainbridge means no Twitter, no Facebook, no website. When we meet, he brings with him his current reading material, Nicholas Carr book The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing The Way We Think – a blow by blow account of the human mind being battered into mulch by the web. Bainbridge himself is not bowled over by our new ADHD digital existence, and his refusal to tweet, blog and so forth has led him to spend the year giving more interviews than he’d have otherwise liked. “I’ve read some really badly written interviews with myself that are just horrible,” he says, “the way they’ve been edited, or what I’m saying, or the overall structure – they’re just pointless.Why am I part of this noise pollution? I would rather have given three succinct interviews all year. But because I don’t have Twitter or Facebook or a website there wasn’t a real channel of communication and I wanted to make some effort to show that I take it seriously.” When I ask if there is a way around social media marketing in modern pop culture, he tells me about a new website idea he’s working on – a simple page of continual text, without photos, date stamps, hyperlinks or any other bloggy distractions. It will be a test of commitment, he says, not unlike Kindness’s debut record. “I feel like the album was misread a lot,” he says,“and looking back, I can see that there was something naïve and hippyish on my assuming that people understand the context of everything, and it extends to friends and musicians whose opinions I really trust. “I mean, Erol [Alkan] said something, and I don’t think it was meant to be anything other than constructive, but he said that musically it might be too all over the
map for people to see it as cohesive. It was assuming that a lot of people have the same musical background as myself. I suppose I always knew that there was a large, musically intelligent audience that would appreciate the record, but when you’re also aiming for the whole pop audience that’s not necessarily what they’re coming to the table with. “I’m disappointed that it could be true that the core audience for a record like this is smaller than I originally thought.” Kindness faired much better in 2012’s live arenas, uniting audiences with the ultimate disco pop show, dropping the penny for those still puzzled by his album. Chased by spotlights and free-styling into Anita Baker, Kindness the performer was something everyone could agree on, a little too adamantly. “Let’s put it this way, I did a Russian interview and the girl said to me,‘Oh, we can’t wait for you to come to Moscow because we saw your show at Primavera and it’s so much better than the record, because I really don’t like the record’. I had to pull her up on that and say I know that seems like an innocent comment to make, but the record does come first for me in many ways and is a very personal journey for me. “I do love the live shows when they go well, but I’m aware of how absurd it is. To me, it’s like going on Gladiators and throwing yourself down a giant foam pyramid in front of thousands of people…” Being chased by a man called Wolf. “Yeah. Wolf is like a psychological wolf chasing you around the stage. The good thing is that the audience being in front of you gives you no option but to commit. I wish there were other art forms that were that straightforward. “I feel like I should have warned you that talking about this year wasn’t going to be an easy thing,” he says as our coffees are cleared. “The small criticisms sit with you so much more heavily than lots of incredibly meaningful praise.”
Chromatics Kill For Love
(Italians Do It Better)
R e l e a s e d : M a y 2 8 ||||||||||
After years marked as no-wave noiseniks, Chromatics rejuvenation as purveyors of panoramic beauty was underpinned by the downbeat beauty of their fourth studio album. Where 2007’s ‘Night Drive’ marked their first tentative toe-dip into the realms of silky, sultry pop, ‘Kill For Love’ was the elegant, skinny-dipped slide into the water. Guided by Johnny Jewel, a man with a glittering track record of applying a gilded pop touch, ‘Kill For Love’ was 2012’s most beautiful accident. Asked to score music for Ryan Gosling love-in Drive, Chromatics’ five year hiatus can be linked to Jewel’s eye and ear for the more cinematic. So when the Drive job then landed on the desk of the much-celebrated Cliff Martinez, Jewel’s effortlessly enigmatic work wasn’t about to be wasted. Perhaps the most glorious way to settle a score, ‘Kill For Love’ captured the nocturnal travails of the best late-night trips. A journey that weaved through a world of neon-lit serenity, highways of downbeat dreams, and dead city streets, it was an LP that glided and ghosted through cryptic lyrics and elegant, slow disco beats. Where Ruth Radelt’s vocals gave the album an auto-tuned sweetness, the real beauty lay in the segue of the soundscapes; those overlooked silver screen scores bloomed and shifted with hopes and dreams or withered under the slow chill of the album’s second half. A masterclass of drifting beats and lingering vocals. RY
02 ∆ An Awesome Wave (Infectious) Released: May 28 ||||||||||
AL B UMS
When a record is so readily gorged by the borders of the mainstream, it’s easy to forget what made it so appealing in the first place. In the instance of ‘An Awesome Wave’, it was a subtlety, sophistication and attention to detail that had ∆ compared to The xx long before they took the Mercury Music Prize rostrum to display just how song-centric their success has been – there’s no razzmatazz here; no media training; no contrived way of being. In 2012, ∆ became the thinking Radio 1 listener’s band du jour, with songs that are borderline too odd for the FM bandwidth. Indeed, ‘An Awesome Wave’ remains an acquired taste, loved by those those willing to work on Joe Newman’s spindly, vowel-curling vocals, Thom Green’s syncopated saucepan percussion and the “entry exam” of the made-for-TV ‘Intro’ and the swift, succeeding ‘Ripe And Ruin’ – an interlude at track 2 (!) that’s something of a seadog’s a capella shanty, not something to neatly follow Rihanna and Calvin Harris with. When they play live, ∆ perform these first two tracks and the following ‘Tessellate’ in sequence, nodding to the idea that their record perhaps works best because it feels so cohesive in its meticulous order. Of course, each song is just as scrupulous within itself, often featuring unexpected segues and fleeting flurries of pianos and xylophones. When the band yell “hey” over the outro of ‘Breezeblocks’, they do it just once – just enough to look forward to. When ‘Flitzpleasure’ starts like monks dillydallying in a playground, you never see the filthy, distorted bass coming… or the castanets… or the Indian hook on the closing ‘Taro’. Expertly crafted, ‘An Awesome Wave’ is an album of continuing surprise, and how often do those get such overwhelming attention by the mainstream? It’s reassuring to know that songs can still sell records. SS
of the year continued on page 32
Tame Impala Lonerism
(Modular) R e l e a s e d : O c t o b e r 8 ||||||||||
Considering its insular title, themes and lyrics, there was an inordinate degree of largeness and space to be found in ‘Lonerism’. The opening ‘Be Above it’ breathed and swelled, allowing the echoing drums to pierce its sky, and from then on it rarely stopped, pacing forward with charge and swirling gusto, but doing so in a refined, honed and eloquent manner. Comparisons to the Flaming Lips are easily made, but most interestingly, it’s rarely to the Lips of young, when they were the same age as Tame Impala, all wild, drug-crazed and noise-spewing Butthole Surfers wannabes. Instead, Kevin Parker reflects Wayne Coyle’s bands as the are now, at their most densely produced, thought out, affecting and, well, best. There is a leap in maturity that Tame Impala has taken to make this record that is years ahead of Parker’s mid-twenties existence. At its heart, it remained a pop record in the truest sense, but it was also one of those rare modern works that evoked a sincere essence of the sixties, loaded with experimentation and fresh innovation, seamlessly and with a forgotten infectious glean. It oozed familiarity and comfort while managing to avoid derivativeness; ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, even upon first listen already felt as though they were rooted deep in the basement of your mind, perhaps because comparisons to The Beatles are even more just than those made to the Flaming Lips. It applies particularly to the closing piano ballad-come-weird-out of ‘Sun’s coming up’’, which not only sparks with Beatles-like melody but has Parker’s vocals invoking a Lennon-like spirit at the end of an album that has constantly fluttered with The Fab Four familiarity. When we interviewed Kindness for this issue and told him that ‘Lonerism’ was our number one album of 2012, he said: “Kevin is so talented. He’s the only person in the world who can play bass exactly like Paul McCartney. I mean, no one can do that who’s not Paul McCartney, but he can.” But ‘Lonerism’, like many great pop records of old, especially smacked of sustainability. In an age where countless albums are forgotten as quickly as they are released, Tame Impala’s already has a lifespan that reaches way beyond the parameters of the here and now. It bubbles with life and attraction, and for a record so dense and cosmically layered, it hums with ease and digestibility – as all-consuming as it is sonically engulfing and expanding. It’s all too easy to forget that all of this is the work of one man, but those pounding spaceship drums that roll and echo constantly are created and played by the same person who sends radiating synths swashing through ‘Londerism’’s dizzy heights. Those offbeat, twitchy guitar time signatures on ‘Elephant’, they’re Kevin Parker too. Everything is. And 2012, aside from giving us this record of the year, has also given centre stage to its creator, potentially an artist who has the scope, potential, talent and vision to become one of our time’s true pop architects.
t a m e i m pa l a ‘L on e r i sm ’ m igh t h av e h a d u s a ll i n a n u nsu spec t e d f r e nz y t h i s y e a r , bu t K ev i n Pa r k e r r e m a i ns st i ll i n t h e e y e of h i s ow n i ncr e di bl e p sych pop st or m Ph o t o gr a ph e r - M at t h e w C . S av i ll e | W r i t e r - Da n i e l Dy l a n W r ay
The two times I speak with Kevin Parker for this piece, he is on the verge of achieving British musical milestones, although he seems almost completely oblivious to either of them. On the first occasion, I arrive at 5.30pm at the Leadmill in Sheffield to find two young girls camped out outside, sat scooped under an umbrella on the freezing concrete and under an unrelenting stream of rain. They giggle under the canopy, sipping booze they have syphoned into a plastic water bottle; they talk about Tame Impala lyrics, discuss how excited they are about the gig and listen to songs from ‘Lonerism’ on their phones. They are the embodiment of teenage fandom, and frankly the last thing I expected to see at a Tame Impala show. “They’ve been here since 8am,” Parker tells me. “I brought them out that umbrella as I didn’t want them to get wet.” As we sit backstage in the venue he and his band have sold out, I tell Kevin it’s been sometime since I’ve seen a band as relatively new as his sell this place out. He initially smacks of indifference, but I soon realise that the relaxed nonchalance he oozes is just his way – he seems very rarely aware of anything that is going on directly outside of his musical and creative realm.The two nights prior Tame Impala filled Manchester Ritz and Brixton Academy, too, a feat that many young British bands will never achieve, let alone a relatively freaked-out psychedelic pop outfit from Perth, Australia. The crowds are getting bigger and so is the expectation, but again it’s something Parker shrugs off. “It’s more inspiring to be yourself,” he says.“It’s more of a challenge to be yourself on stage. It’s easy to be a rock star on stage in front of five thousand people, it’s easy to play up to that. But to actually play on stage as though you’re playing with your friends in a garage, to have that feeling when you’re playing, that is what I want.” For any casual or avid radio consumer, it has been difficult to avoid Tame Impala this year, their glamstomping, prog-pop hit ‘Elephant’ has proven a gateway for many into the band, even if Parker “had no idea it was getting radio play”, stating, “I have trouble imaging that ‘Elephant’ would be a radio hit.” With the success of the song and the sudden selling out of large venues in mind, I ask if project runs the risk of becoming one of those bands whose gigs are filled with loquacious idiots, just there to hear the ‘hit’ single? “That’s a pretty scary thought,” says Parker. He pauses for a moment as though it’s the first time he’s had to possibly consider his artistic output being consumed in such terms. “I mean, you hear of bands having a really big hit song and the crowd not knowing any of their other songs and then leaving after the hit and that is a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. I would hate for that to happen.” For most, Tame Impala’s 2012 would have been something of a head-spin, but Kevin Parker’s feet have remained firmly on the ground, a man currently homeless due to his hectic schedule. “Yeah, I don’t even have the time to find a house at the moment,” he says. “I’m just floating around on the tour bus with my bag. Hopefully when I have some time off in December I’ll find a room where I can put all my stuff, instead of it just being in boxes at my manager’s house.Then, after that, I can get started again.”
He means making new music, of course.“Although I have to stop myself from advancing too quickly,” he adds.“If I get too into it, too quickly, I’ll have to wait like three years to put it out. Which is a painful thing – it’s excruciating to finish a song and know that it’s going to be two years before the record label even want to release it.” Parker is never as animated, geared-up and garrulous as when he’s talking about the creative process. Everything else almost seems somewhat extraneous to him. In terms of the band’s sudden surge of popularity (2010 debut ‘Innerspeaker’ was certainly acclaimed but not enough to prevent many from presuming that this year’s ‘Lonerism’ was the group’s first LP), Parker seems not so much mystified as plain disinterested. “I have no idea how to gauge popularity,” he tells me, although he does attempt to offer why ‘Lonerism’ may have hit a nerve with so many listeners this year. “For me it’s a pretty emotional album,” he says. “It’s personal and exposing. I made a concerned effort to not hold back on saying something I felt like saying, if it was too fragile or something. I focused on not having cool lyrics, talking about doubting yourself and things like that. So maybe it’s a lot more fulfilling and meaningful than the usual kind of meaningless pysch lyrics, which I get nothing from. Exposing myself is a lot more gratifying.” The second time we talk, Parker is sat in his hotel room after sound checking for that evening’s indie dream booking, Later… With Jools Holland. In two hours he’ll return to the studio to perform live in front of millions of people. Is he excited? Once again he seems almost blasé and a little unaware of what’s going on. “Erm, I’m not really anything at the moment,” he says. “I don’t really tend to think about things like that until after we’ve done it. “I’m pretty jet lagged,” he says, noting that the band have just touched down from a U.S. tour that led on from their slew of European shows that included that visit to the Leadmill. I ask if 2012, a year of touring and no doubt millions of interviews, has finally taken its toll? “Errrrrmmmm,” comes an elongated Aussie drawl. “It comes in waves – you recharge yourself after a while. Once you submit to feeling shitty and hungover a lot of the time and powering through it, you tend to be in a better state to deal with it. It just becomes a part of you,” he laughs. Parker is clearly someone who relishes in his own company (one must remember Tame Impala is a solo project until it hits the road), although constant touring hasn’t sent him west.“I mean, I’m with my best friends,” he says. “I don’t really have many friends outside of the band and I tend to live in a Tame Impala bubble for most of the part. But as for being on your own, you just adapt, you take what little alone time you can get, in the shower, sitting on the toilet,” he chuckles. We hang up phones and Parker heads back to the BBC to kick some baggy life back into Jools Holland.As if to perfectly cement his intention of playing with friends in a garage, he doesn’t even bother to wear footwear. Playing barefoot on national TV, in a fashion that perfectly mirrors his personality, what may appear lackadaisical and ambivalent is, in truth, anything but. Tame Impala may not realise they’ve had an extraordinary 2012, but I think it’s fair to say everyone else does.
Young & Lost Club online shop
Oh Minnows debut album
“For Shadows”. Out now on CD, featuring new single “Hurry” ---
Pre- Order Snakadaktals debut single on limited edition 7’’ Vinyl ---
Also in store:
Limited edition releases from Noah & The Whale, Being There, Exlovers, Little Green Cars and many more!
& NEW TOTE BAGS
LOUD AND QUIET ALBUMS LIVE FILM REVIEWS
Al bums 09/10
Gallops Yours Sincerely Dr Hardcore (Blood and Biscuits) By ReefYounis. In stores Dec 10
Rachel Zeffira The Deserters (RAF) By Sam Walton. In stores Dec 10
In a field like pop music, where most are self-taught, the phrase “classically trained” can take on many meanings, from the I-passedgrade-five-violin to conservatoire graduate. But irrespective of its nuance, the phrase is almost always used to denote the occupation of some intellectual high ground at which hairy-arsed chancers with teach-yourself-guitar books can only gaze longingly – this “classically trained” musician’s songs are somehow more musically valid, their musicianship more complex; in the race to intellectualise every last facet of pop, “classically trained” is a panacea to help separate the important from the merely great. With this in mind, it would be misleading to refer to Rachel Zeffira as simply “classically trained”.The sometime singer in Faris Badwan’s Cat’s Eyes, now making her bow as a solo artist, used to be a professional oboist in a symphony orchestra, and was well on the road to becoming a soprano before realising she couldn’t be bothered with the sacrifices involved and turned her hand to ethereal, wispy pop music instead. But for all the stylistic volte-face, the fingerprints of Zeffira’s deeply classical background are all over ‘The Deserters’, for both good and bad. The good is at its best when Zeffira dips her toe into slightly krauty waters on ‘Here On It’
and ‘Break The Spell’, where the rhythmic discipline and undulating synths compliment her wispy but upright vocals and rococo orchestral flourishes.When the songs are barer, though, the fussiness can be off-putting, with Zeffira’s delivery more from the head than the heart, leaving an uncomfortable sense of displacement. But it’s album’s longest song, ‘Star’, that manages to be most contrary, compressing into one five-minute chunk all the problems and pleasures that the album provides: while the pace and movement of the song is beautifully controlled, and the arrangement impressively lush, Zeffira sings it with such stiflingly precise operatic diction, regimented accent and obedience that any passion or soulfulness is obscured behind the glassy delivery. It’s a shame, too – in the hands of Alison Goldfrapp, Beth Gibbons or even The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, ‘Star’ would be a very different, far more engaging beast, but here it feels like an exercise in prettiness and little more. The same could be said for ‘The Deserters’ as a whole.There’s much to admire in Zeffira’s crystalline singing and her pure, highly accomplished musicianship, but her background betrays her too often here: this is not a natural fit, and that mismatch leaves too much of the record too buttoned-up for its own good. She has undoubtedly adapted her classical training impressively, but that proficiency only serves to suggest that perhaps some things can’t be taught.
Three years ago, Gallops! were a band diligently touring and saving to fund their first EP. Now, having long dispensed with the exclamation mark because “it was bloody stupid”, their prolonged transition from a buzz band working towards their first EP to a band releasing their first album is complete. That self-titled Gallops EP was a raw, opening salvo; a collection of tracks driven by a dark, vibrant tension, bludgeoning percussion and an immediate electronic pulse. They were tracks that carried the early hallmarks of the band’s complex, technical ambition and ‘Yours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore’ powerfully delivers on that promise. It’s a debut that moves at a bruising pace, Dave Morait’s brutal hitting power, crashing through the digital tapestry created by Mark Huckridge, Paul Maurice and Brad Whyte. Armed with the gargantuan ‘Astoroth’ and the equally coruscating ‘Crutches’, it’s an album blessed with two booming bookends, and ignited by the black-hole implosion of its opener, ‘Yours Sincerely…’ quickly drives into a high-tempo blaze of piston-punch beats, stabbing guitar and flickering electronics that leave little recovery time between impacts. No sooner has ‘Astoroth’’s bombast dissipated than the waspish circuit-board electronica of ‘Jeff Leopard’ is powering toward the dropped chord aggression of ‘Hongliday’ before levelling out with ‘Lasers’’s melodic, squelching, rhythms. It’s symptomatic of Gallops big-impact approach to their live shows and it translates on record quite brilliantly. A showcase of a band confident and competently toying with structures and time signatures, this is a resurgent reminder of Gallops’ potential and a debut that was worth the wait.
Out of Touch in the Wild
A World Out of Time
(Care in the Community) By Austin Laike. In stores Dec 3
(City Slang) By Amy Pettifer. In stores Dec 17
(Invada) By Edgar Smith. In stores Dec 10
(Memphis Industries) By Nathan Westley. In stores Jan 7
(Thrill Jockey) By Edgar Smith. In stores now
Of course, if The Beatles couldn’t really play they would never had made it to ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, but imagine for a second that they rudimentarily clunked their way to becoming Egg Men and stayed there. Ergo Phizmiz’s second album makes the whole idea completely plausible, beginning with rootsy chug ‘Lafcadio’; full of late ’60s permaharmonies, a weird sonar synth break and lyrics surreal enough to make “Goo goo g’joob” as pedestrian as “I want to hold your hand”. Lyrically, it’s just the start for Phizmiz, who goes on to “write your obituary and stick it on my face” (‘The Penguin’) and dedicate a dopy waltz to early ’90s Lenny Henry vehicle Bernard and The Genie. Exploring pastoral, pixie majesty and Mr Kite pier music, it’s all actually very charming in an eccentric, woozy, English way that never feels ironic, cynical or as soggily twee as the sum of its Pritt-Stik and paper parts.
Sinkane aka Ahmed Gallab is a Sudanese born, Brooklyn based multi-instrumentalist voraciously active as a contributor to the work of Yaysayer, Eleanor Friedberger and Caribou.This first major outing of his solo project is an odd record in that it forms a wide ranging, astral plane of influences that point to Gallab’s considerable talents and vision, yet feels like a slight 30 minutes, all too often lyrically lazy, with wan, auto-tuned vocals lending a pedestrian air to the more fascinating sonic layers of beats, horns and Funkadelic-ally epic guitar solos that squall beneath. ‘Warm Spell’ and title track ‘Mars’ are high points, full of criss-crossing rhythms and loose, jangling percussive moments of free jazz that carry more of the enticing spirit of improvisation to which the record seems to aspire. Elsewhere, the accidents and un-rigorous energy has sadly been blotted out.
Now that singles occupy a status just above free badges and stickers, we can expect more releases of this grey-area nature. It’s essentially a really long split-single bred of a felicitous meeting between the Japanese heavyweights and Bristolian strummer and Domino songwriter Joe Volk. Boris’ side constitutes ‘Cosmos’, a programmatic behemoth in three parts. It begins and ends as a wash of hums, drones, and zen guitar plucking with an arching, squelching widescreen explosion in the middle that could’ve been on ‘Pink’.To compare Volk’s ‘Call to Sun’ – an incantatory, mercurial, slightly maudlin folk song fed with Shostakovich-like strings – and the desolate instrumental ‘Finland’ with what comes before it seems unfair.The inclusion of what is hopefully labelled a ‘radio edit’ of ‘Call to Sun’ nonetheless invites the thought that side b is somehow deficient.
It used to be that second albums were the cursed ones, but that slight, in recent years, has moved on to LP number 3.With ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’, Dutch Uncles are doing their bit in abolishing the rule altogether. Never one’s to encase themselves in Manchester braggadocio, this is an album that continues to avoid such Neanderthal pitfalls yet does see the Northern five-piece break out of their traditional prog guise and power towards a new terrain, one that is rich in grandiose flourishes and smooth pop edges.While ‘Bellio’ has a complicated, mathematical backbone that moves with the tight precision of Foals but comes wrapped in an eighties pop sheen, others such as ‘Flexxin’ reverberate with the funk edged clout of Hot Chip or Clor but are coloured further with tightly controlled strings. Dutch Uncles are within touching distance of great things.
This, the third LP (and second this year) from Portland quintet Eternal Tapestry, is an acid rock record made in the same ad hoc, pioneering and fried spirit of the likes of Amon Duul and Guru Guru, Hawkwind and Hendrix. Resolutely anti-linear, it sounds as if it was made for no one but rather winds down its own opaque and intriguing paths. After a 12-minute opener and two more straight-up, no-foolin’ freak-outs we land on ‘Apocalypse Troll’, which nicks the riff from Seal and Croft’s ‘Summer Breeze’ and turns it into a heavy psych miniature.Then back come the Faust-like field recordings, the intertwined scrolls of backwards guitar, more mystery-bag noises, organ and horn sounds: a rainforest growing in the kitchen sink.Vocals are used sparingly, only cropping up on the last track, a folk revival pluck-about that collapses into more shards of fuzz-dried free rock.
The Babies Our House On The Hill (Woodsist) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores now
Perhaps it’s their shunning of the usual trashcan fidelity you’d expect from a Woods/Vivian Girl side project, but The Babies’ debut album comes with a surprising amount of oomph. Indeed, there’s something pleasingly meaty about non-too-rickety garage rock that isn’t too cute to boast the salty refrain of, “You’re a dumb fuck, you fucking piece of shit” with an air of jolly Titus Andronicus about it. Suffice to say that the handful of tracks sung through the pinched nose of Cassie Ramone sound decidedly Vivian Girl-ian, with ‘See The Country’ being the dreary link in the album’s 12-strong chain. But on the whole, ‘Our House On The Hill’ is a pressing American indie album that’s comfortable in the charge, smelling like the open road and sublime when it pulls over to the curb for ‘Mean’ – the clear highlight here that has Woods bassist Kevin Morby and his delicate acoustic guitar turning Dylan, if Dylan sang about being turned down at a house party, either side of a rather inspired sax solo.
Al bums 08/10
Peepholes Overspill (Upset The Rhythm) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Dec 3 Upset the Rhythm is seemingly the place to be for oddball sleaze pop. Like last year’s glorious release from John Maus, Peepholes’ debut album is as drenched in pulsating and sparkling snyths as it is character, charm and idiosyncrasy.The electronics oscillate, throb and judder through ‘The Overspill’ with a menace and beauty that the Brighton duo’s previous mini album ‘Caligula’ didn’t quite manage. Since then, Katia Barrett’s affected vocals have become even more fulfilling, here a continuation of experimentation, animalistically yelping and screaming, forcing out drones and turning into plaintive and scenic tones in quick succession.Where they and Nick Carlisle’s wheezing analogue synth are going is ultimately to the album’s finale – eight songs of nine really are steps to a whole new world altogether. At almost fifteen minutes long, ‘Living in Qatar’ is another kind of noise pop spaceship, charged, eloquent and a brilliant sonic biosphere with a subtle nihilism and industrialism that lurks throughout it, creeping and prowling in the shadows. Lying somewhere between John Carpenter, Suicide and Animal Collective at their most experimental, it is a monumental end to the record and, in many senses, a full record in itself, exploring landscapes, unfolding itself in parts with the beauty and scope of a three-hour film.
The Moths Are Real
(Stolen) By Amy Pettifer. In stores Jan 7
(Carpark) By Reef Younis. In stores Dec 3
It isn’t easy being a girl with a harp; forced at every interview to explain your affinities with other female artists of similar spectral charm. On this record, however, Serafina Steer seems keen to explore the full grit, flesh and edges of the music generated from the mastery of her instrument and the fertile corners of her lyrical mind. The moths aren’t part of a whimsical dream, they’re real, thank you very much. Jarvis Cocker, a long-standing champion of Steer’s work, acts as producer and succeeds in foregrounding a singular performance, his touch resonating with the most quintessentially English corners of Steer’s oeuvre – intimate storytelling of the urban pastoral, gloriously sung in the kind of crystal-cut lilt that no doubt charmed Cocker into collaborating with Charlotte Gainsborough. Classically lush folk rounds are underscored with drum pads, assonant rhythm and disco throb while Steer’s confident voice weaves twinkling, sonorous tales that sound like they should be animated in stop-motion.A deep and curious joy.
NZCA/Lines and Chromatics set the bar extremely high for beautifully constructed, sumptuously produced pop this year, but Dayve Hawk has transcended the challenge.The six tracks on this third LP are a blissful maze of spaced-out electronica,West Coast harmonies and an exploratory, melodic drenching.Where ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ slides into an M83 aftermath of dreamy harmonics, ‘Sheila’ simmers in an odd Beach-Boys-meetsFischerspooner-underworld, eschewing basic song structures and throwing up the contrasts.The giggling field recordings and upbeat tempo give ‘Safety’ a saccharine charm and fans of Junior Boys will find a lot to love in the shimmering ‘Follow Me’, but it’s the bleak atmosphere, penetrating krautrock beat and didgeridoo hum of ‘Let Me Be’ that really catches the ear.The darkest side of Memory Tapes gorgeous melancholy, it benevolently puts the danceable discordance into what is a staggeringly good album.
Al bums 08/10
Mark Stewart Excorcism of Envy (Future Noise) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Dec 3 Not content with simply releasing an album and leaving it be, Mark Stewart’s desire for creation has lead him to take that album (2012’s ‘The Politics of Envy)’ and pull it apart, rebuilding and re-working, creating a Frankenstein dub monster.You’ll be hard pushed to find a record containing a more stellar list of guests, too – Lee “Scratch” Perry, Richard Hell, PiL’s Keith Levene, Factory Floor and Primal Scream all appear on the aptly titled ‘Exorcism of Envy’, as well as members of the Jesus & Mary Chain,The Slits and Massive Attack.The result sees the dub essence of the record peppered with gristly chunks of industrial snarl, while some of the album’s more electronically charged flashes evoke a futuristic, post-apocalyptic and desolate wasteland.This is a volatile album; unpredictable and occasionally explosive (see the electronic to ambient to hip hop to rock to unexplainable ‘Killswitch’), with relative newcomers Factory Floor managing to transcend the post-punk royalty littered about to emerge as the album’s greatest asset, aside from the ringleader himself, of course. It’s also a record that screams urgency and restlessness, and one that possesses a certain degree of mania. But while Mark Stewart’s latest reimagining is a blind-folded journey, for sure, it’s also quite remarkably reeled in to a cohesive whole that, for Stewart, has been worth the risk.
Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin
Black Moth Super Rainbow
(Mexican Summer/Software) By Sam Walton. In stores now
(Rad Cult) By David Zammitt. In stores Dec 17
As Oneohtrix Point Never, Daniel Lopatin intellectualises and warps old analogue synth lines into hitherto inconceivable shapes. Now, in collaboration with Tim Hecker, whose pedigree lies in drone music and releases on the post-rock juggernaut label Kranky, the same approach is applied to modern jazz and soundtrack music, distorting and abstracting it until its ingredients are only just recognisable enough to follow. The result is an exercise in rich but majestically-paced disorientation that often feels entrancingly melancholy, but which lacks either the fluidity or the variation to fully engage the listener for the album’s entire hour. When the pair introduce harsh static and the occasional recurring motif to proceedings, the mood lifts – ‘GRM Blue II’ is, dare I say it, almost funky – but there’s no escaping the record’s domineering, downbeat intensity. Despite its name, ‘Instrumental Tourist’ feels like one for sterner constitutions than those of mere visitors.
BMSR have a strangely alluring weapon in their armory: sheer contradiction. Lead singer Tobacco puts his heart and soul into creating a strange brew that’s simultaneously beautiful and repulsive. Even his moniker jars, while the tracklisting (‘We Burn’, ‘I Think I’m Evil’) and title mean that ‘Cobra Juicy’ is grounded in iniquity. Indeed, upon first listen of the group’s most accessible release to date you’d think you had accidentally queued up ‘Moon Safari’, but delve deeper and you realise that this is an altogether more disturbing beast. ‘The Healing Power of Nothing’ and ‘Dreamsicle Bomb’ are gorgeously trippy dream pop specimens, while ‘Hairspray Heart’ is a luscious piece of space rock. Its repeated refrain – “like a fucking diamond / falling from my fucking eye” – means that you never get too comfortable though. On ‘Cobra Juicy’, we find BMSR somewhere between the whimsy of Ween and the abrasiveness of early 2000s Cex. It’s unnerving but all the more fascinating for it.
Joe Gideon & The Shark
Siliver Pyre AeXE
(Records Records Records Records) By Chal Ravens. In stores Dec 10
Freakish (Bronze Rat) By Chris Watkeys. In stores Jan 7
(Sedgemoor) By David Zammitt. In stores now
(No Pain In Pop) By Nathan Westley. In stores Dec 3
(Partisan) By Chris Watkeys. In stores Jan 7
After a decade in The Broken Family Band, the Cambridge quartet who squeezed anglicised alt-country from a grown-up indie pop template until their split in 2009, frontman Steven Adams turned his attentions to this erstwhile side project, who now release their second record of mild, restrained rock paired with ever-so-slightly acrid lyrics.‘Theme from Moves’ stands out for its arch title and pairing of minimal lap steel guitar with old-timey phrases (“The train’s passed but the tracks are still humming, no one knows when my baby’s coming home”), drawing attention to the sentimental streak of Americana that greases the wheels of these 10 short songs, as lap steel and the odd harmonica lend pathos to the guitars’ warm tones and Adams’ cool delivery.Your liking for ‘Moves’ will hinge on your kneejerk reaction to the term ‘alt-country’, but it’s worth a spin or two.
‘Freakish’ kicks off with Gideon talk-singing his way over a very filthy riff on ‘I’m Ruined’, an amusing tale of the many negative consequences of being in a permanent state of wrecked-ness. It’s the lyrics and stories, in fact, that grab a large part of centre stage on this second album, not least because, for the most part, the music is bludgeoningly simple – the sonic equivalent of large, friendly blocks of primary colour.This blunt simplicity – heavy, repetitive hooks – works brilliantly on ‘Poor Born’, the vocal debut of ‘The Shark’ (drummer Viva). One big departure from the template, though, arrives in ‘Nine Bells of Hell’, a superb musical maelstrom that comes across oddly like a twisted combination of ‘Is This It’ era Strokes and a more up to date National.‘Freakish’ sounds like it was a hell of a lot of fun to make, and it’s as much fun to listen to.
On ‘AeXE’, Gary Fawle uses his Silver Pyre nom de plume to explore a uniquely English folk mysticism, wedding classic Warp electronica and ’80s new wave to found sounds and his own deadpan vocals. It’s an achievement that this functions at all, however ‘AeXE’ actually manages to keep the bar high for much of its 51 minutes. It should be noted, however, that Fawle does pin his influences fairly conspicuously to his sleeve so that while ‘Leathered’ replicates the hypnotic playfulness of ‘Incunabula’ era Autechre with panache, it’s also difficult to make the case for its place alongside the Rochdale duo’s back catalogue. Similarly,‘Calendar’’s exploration of the human desire for structure seems in thrall to David Byrne, clumsily evoking Talking Heads’ study of the banal on ‘Don’t Worry About The Government’ (“My building has every convenience / It’s gonna make life easy for me”).
With ‘Lemniscate’,Vinyl Williams aka Lionel Williams, the LA based artist and musician, has crafted an album that will sit pretty with those who have a penchant for the more adventurous things in life; it is not an album that can easily be filed away into one effortlessly identifiable genre, instead it flicks between them with relative ease. ‘Tokyo Sumatra’ is a layered introduction, one that is atmospherically rich in multiple textures of sound that are delicately weaved together in a complicated manner that will draw comparisons to Flying Lotus’ more controlled moment. ‘Higher Worlds’ then sounds more like ‘Hail To The Thief ’ era Radiohead getting it on with funk edged bass impresario Thundercat, while the rhythmically charged ‘Who Are You’ is like a musically loose Bjork at her most seductive. ‘Lemniscate’ will casually lure you in.
The spectacularly fertile musical plains of Brooklyn spew forth another crop, this time in the form of Callers, a boy-girl duo clearly with arty inclinations.The female half, Sara Lucas, is possessed of a great, soulful voice, here used to varying effect on a debut album that seems delicately and almost painstakingly constructed. ‘Good Years’ sees hesitant, light-footed vocals skim over a musical backdrop that is equally as unsure of itself, while ‘Heroes’ is like a scaled-down version of a big soul classic, punctured here and there with jazzy touches. On the gentle ballad ‘Turning’, all the elements the band try so hard to cram in seem to fit together, and it works. But large chunks of this album feel like an experiment in willful pretension, littered with pointless small yelps and mildly irritating rhythms. It really is best to stick with Dirty Projectors.
Naomi Punk The Feeling (Captured Tracks) By Chal Ravens. In stores now
There is a great and mighty school of American music that posits that the best way to communicate your latest gosh darn fine pop song to your listeners is to PUMMEL THEM IN THE FACE with it over and over, taking up rust-ridden serrated guitars and crash cymbals to slice straight through their brains, leaving nothing but mutilated chunks of cortex and gristle pulsating out of time on the kerb.Well, the fine debut by Naomi Punk (who naturally hail from Olympia, Washington, spiritual home of riot grrrl and grunge) emerges from this very school, combining grubby lo-fi melodies with introspective slowcore darkness to excellent effect, even touching on that great unspoken canon of American rock genius stretching from Mars to Butthole Surfers to Royal Trux. Released on Couple Skate Records in the U.S. this spring,‘The Feeling’ well deserves its repress and international release, from the unhidged crank of ‘Voodoo Trust’ to the foreverdetuning wobble of closer ‘The Buzz’.
Bat For Lashes The Forum, Kentish Town, London 30.10.2012 By Stuart Stubbs Photography by Roy J Baron
The impassioned ballads of Bat For Lashes have never seemed disingenuous, but prior to this year’s album, ‘The Haunted Man’, Natasha Khan has found solace in her alter ego and comfort in cosmic metaphor, opulent imagery and Native American get-up. It’s easier, it seems, to bare your soul when covered in feathers (Khan circa debut album ‘Fur And Gold’) or glitter (2009’s ‘Two Suns’). For ‘The Haunted Man’ Bat For Lashes curbed the fantasy and, as the album’s naked cover art foretold, exposed herself fully for the first time. It’s the first thing we’re reminded of tonight, as Khan enters an uncharacteristically un-dressed stage in a colourless harlequin dress. The plan, she’d told us in September, was to see if she is “magical enough”, without the rainbow leotards and headbands.The silence she commands from a whispering gallery venue like The Forum says it all – Natasha Khan is no less enchanting than Bat For Lashes, if indeed there is any difference between the two of them.
Khan still ‘performs’ her songs, fiercer than ever where tracks like the crystalline ‘Glass’ are concerned, swooshing a cape that’s no longer there, spinning across the stage, throwing her arms at an audience that remains frozen in wonder throughout.Tonight, we’re happy to watch, even when Khan implores us to dance our way through her new disco(ish) numbers with her. Our refusal to do so certainly doesn’t deter her. For the humid summer-night jam of ‘Oh Yeah’ she shimmies to the stuttering synth line and wildly punches out the drum fills, largely facing her band and flouting just how backless her dress is. By ‘Pearls Dream’ and the eventual closing ‘Daniel’ she bounds around like a pre-teen in a bedroom. It’s what Natasha Khan does best – tiptoe between sensual seductress one minute and girlish innocence the next. ‘Oh Yeah’ is Khan the woman; ‘Daniel’ and new album track ‘Rest Your Head’ are Khan the coiled pop fan. Of course, in amongst these noted upbeat
moments are what have become Bat For Lashes’ stock in trade – beautiful, often-forlorn songs that hang on sombre piano chords, subtle orchestration and brutally honest confessions. ‘Traveling Woman’ and ‘Siren Song’ are touching enough, but ‘Laura’ (accompanied by a lone piano) is something else – stark and bristling and triggering a response that overwhelms the singer not for the first time tonight.When the same kind of rapture greets the end of ‘Pearl’s Dream’, Khan neatly deflects the praise onto her band, whose part in a show of this finesse can’t be overstated. Mostly though, Bat For Lashes seems more comfortable in her own skin than ever before. She spends a lot of tonight laughing, and just as much of it bellowing with some newfound force and assurance. “Thank God I’m alive,” she arched and cried on the opening ‘Lilies’, and it’s a mantra that stuck with her through a show made all the more dynamic by her new world disco numbers.
Tame Impala Brixton Academy, London 30.10.2012 By Sam Walton Photography by Sonny McCartney
Tonight is perhaps the most compelling evidence yet that Tame Impala have been 2012’s most successful sleeper hit, capping the year with a sold-out show at Brixton and celebrating like it’s, well, 1973, with a set that includes a huge, waggling spectrogram behind them and at least two extended drum solos. Such retrospection isn’t necessarily a bad thing – indeed, much of ‘Lonerism’’s success results from its modern reinterpretation of classic prog – but what leaves tonight’s show rather flat is that, as perhaps befits a band on a rapid ascent, they feel, initially, somewhat out of their depth.The Academy’s cavernous space seems to swamp Tame Impala and their eccentric personalities (although, thankfully, not their musicianship, which remains resilient), and the resulting timidity transfers to the crowd as distracted chatter. Indeed, it’s not until the lolloping glam chug of ‘Elephant’, half-way through the set, that anyone either side of the barriers really seems to engage, and although the second half is an improvement, there’s still a sense, even as the triumphant ‘Half Full Glass Of Wine’ rings out to close the encore, that Tame Impala might be doing too much, too soon.
Purity Ring The Haunt, Brighton 20.11.2012 By Nathan Westley Photography by Anni Timms
While fellow country woman Grimes has had a giddy 2012, Purity Ring have comfortably dwelled in the shadows, gently knitting together an enticing shrug of slow-seducing, porcelain doll RnB.Tonight, in the confines of the dual-levelled Haunt, the band delicately deliver a relaxed stage show that is largely ensconced by blackness, save for the handful of overhanging oval shaped buds that routinely flicker different colours. Clearly, a high-energy stage show is not the plan, but rather one that is crafted to be mesmerising in its stark minimalistic beauty. Opener ‘Belispeak’ offers a firm introduction into what was bound to follow; Corin Roddick and his multitude of electronic gadgets pushing through a sonic bed of finally chopped beats, ghostly synth noises and shuddering bass lines that pulsate with an otherworldly chill. Meanwhile, vocalist Megan James lets loose a cavalcade of lyrics that flit between childlike innocence and darkly Exorcist-lite horror, occasionally playfully taking a vintage lamp in hand, its eerie Victorian glow mirroring the still, gothic theatrics of a duo that are most brilliantly cursed in the flesh.
Live 01 Aluna George Photographer: Anni Timms
02 Spiritualized Photographer: Sonny McCartney
The Roundhouse, Camden, London 05.11.2012 By Sam Walton
Heaven, London 06.11.2012 By Austin Laike
Brixton Electric, London 13.11.2012 By Sam Walton
Time was when a trip to a Spiritualized concert was a cast-iron guarantee for sensory overload: bright white light and screaming guitars would be fired at the audience like scud missiles, the only respite coming in the achingly heartfelt, world-weary quiets that would precede the louds. However, people move on, and the current incarnation of Jason Pierce’s ever-revolving door of session players seems just as happy to offer a limp hug as blast you to smithereens. And that transformation is a shame: while Spiritualized’s desire to try new things is admirable, it also rams home the patently obvious, that their trump card remains their ability to overwhelm, visually and sonically.They do that twice tonight, in the opening brace of ‘Sweet Jane’ and ‘Electricity’ and in the closing ‘Electric Mainline’, where the bass throb is breathshorteningly heavy. But between these two highlights are only tantalising nods towards the intensity at which they’re so expert, surrounded by saccharine, sickly ballads barely distinguishable from boy band fodder and, indeed, from one another. Pierce clearly has no desire to return to the all-out noise-rock wonder that built his band’s reputation, but he cuts a frustrating figure in his recalcitrance: it’s no coincidence that the encore, in which the youngest song (a beautiful ‘Ladies & Gentlemen...’) is more than 15 years old, is the strongest part of the performance.
Chromatics latest album clocks in an hour and a half. It’s their fourth, although admittedly the Portland band’s second since they traded discordant punk for slick Italo disco. Still, even if ‘Kill For Love’ was all they had to show-and-tell, tonight could be a long, lavish haul. But it���s not. Johnny Jewel’s contribution to the futuro criminal Drive soundtrack only made ‘Kill For Love’ all the more perilously sensual and ambitiously cinematic – with this evening’s set lasting somewhere around 45 minutes we’re unable to fully experience the latter, but we do still get plenty of Chromatics’ cold sex and a heightened sense of romance, especially in title track ‘Kill For Love’. Of course, there is no time for chatter between songs, save for a couple of thank yous from Ruth Radelet who remains a completely captivating voice for Jewel’s songs; a mixture of crystalline cuteness and icy disinterest beside the group’s architect who bounces in silence to the singer’s left.The thing with 45 minutes is that it leaves little time to put a foot wrong, and with plenty of career highlight fill the modest gap tonight feels like a distilled shot of smart disco. In terms of the ‘show’, there’s isn’t one, but it says a lot that few still leave unhappy, if underfed.Tonight it was simply about songs so good they easily masked Chromatics’ laziness.
As a Brixtonite born and bred, and now performing minutes from where she grew up, Jessie Ware’s London gig feels like something of a homecoming parade, and carries with it the same atmosphere, where the relationship of audience to performer becomes less adoring fan and more proud friend. Accordingly, tonight’s is a show dotted with digs at North Londoners, a shout-out to Ware’s family enjoying the show from the luxury of a box, and a singer far more smiley than her smoothly soulful heartbreak songs should really allow. Indeed, once this last incongruity is overcome (the opening three numbers feel stiflingly flat against the crowd’s enthusiasm, paired as they are with lashings of dry ice and lighting so moody that Ware’s band are invisible and she is barely a silhouette), the performance is a delight.Ware looks and sounds every bit the honey-voiced diva during each song (and just as down to earth in between) and, refreshingly, acknowledges her tiny back catalogue by playing a short, engaging set of her best songs instead of diluting them with b-sides and covers. Indeed, after only 40 minutes she bids her public a tangibly fond farewell with ‘Wildest Moments’, but that brevity – and accompanying high quality – is a virtue that only augments the sense of a triumphant return.
GodSpeed You! Black Emperor Brixton Academy, London 04.11.2012 By Edgar Smith ▼
If it was hard to reconcile the glacial jams that rocked last summer’s Portishead ATP with those tracks on Godspeed’s new album, it was only because one was in Ally Pally and the other in the Youtube full-album ether.With a title that sounds conspicuously like the new David Icke book, it was released last month to surprise and much hand-rubbing. First tonight, though, a band that the Montreal troupe has been championing for year – a group that has been flourishing as gradually as a Goodspeed song. Dead Rat Orchestra, the best avant-folk band you’ve never heard of, are on first, toting ambient neo-Hebridean folk LP ‘Guga Hunters of Ness’. Their (late-) John Faheychanneling set closes on a group a cappella ending that has most people intoxicated and utterly thrown with it’s desiccated, antiphonal otherness.The main attraction don’t disappoint either. ‘Gathering Storm’ gets a rapturous reception from the gathered anoraks in attendance, while Karl Lemieux’s sketchy, warm and politically ernest 16mm time warps illuminate the space behind the band beautifully, verticals of the magnetic strip burning up so that what looks like globules of liquid glucose forming or tower blocks exploding plays over and over.
Mac Demarco Birthdays, Dalston, London 19.11.2012 By Austin Laike ▼
Canadian dirtbag Mac DeMarco was definitely meant to be this much fun, and perhaps this funny, but not actually this good.Tonight is Mac and his band of wisecracking duuudes’ first ever UK show, and it’s two parts stand-up/ five parts effortlessly crisp party rock. Between tracks, the foursome are as delirious on jetlag as each other. “Soooo, airplane food, what’s that all about?” goes one knowingly clichéd skit as wiry-sounding guitars are retuned; “I watched a programme called Episodes on the flight over,” begins another, “and I wept, man… I wept to see a big time Hollywood actor like Matt Le Blanc in a show so fucking shit, man.”The basement is full to the point of feeling sold out twice over and we all laugh, not out of British manners, but out of genuine amusement. And then, when the gags stop, we’re bowled over enough to even dance to Mac DeMarco’s sleazy surf songs that sound notably more beefy and hi-fi here than they do on record. More than that, the new songs of latest record ‘2’ sound better in every way imaginable. Before the show we hoped DeMarco would slow down the rest of what he has to offer to the slur of ‘Rock And Roll Night Club’’s crooning Side A; by the end it’s clear that speeding up tracks like ‘Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans’ is the best way to prove that Mac DeMarco is funny but no joke.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti York Hall, Bethanl Green, London 09.11.2012 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
For the penultimate night of RockFeedback’s Illumination series, the London promoters were after a Pink Floyd Happening kinda vibe, with opulent town-hall-space York Hall as the non-venue venue and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti as bringers of the weird. It couldn’t have worked better.The vast banqueting room of York Hall (completed with Rec Centre side bar that sells curry as well as bad beer) is sometimes used for boxing, too – an even stranger colliding of worlds than its period balustrades and Los Angelenos acid casualties. Nothing seen here before has surely been as playfully eccentric as Ariel Pink performing his first three songs from a backstage corridor, though, projected to the audience via a giant white sheet above the stage.‘Symphony of the Nymph’ segues into ‘Love Me Do’ as the handycam operator wildly presses all the crappy FX buttons on obsolete device. Eventually Ariel joins his band onstage and continues to skip through a chunk of ‘Mature Themes’ songs that overshadow how silly he can be with just how gifted he is at penning a pop melody. He flails a torch around as the AM-surfing ‘Round and Round’ makes everyone’s knees go melty. Then, with a heap of old songs, everything goes ambient, less focussed and ultimately less spectacular. But it’s too late – the band has already proved that they really are as accomplished as they have always been entertaining.
Micah P Hinson
The Lantern Theatre, Sheffield 07.11.2012 By Daniel Dylan Wray
The Lexington, Islington, London 21.11.2012 By Olly Parker
Hoxton Sq Bar & Kitchen, London 22.11.2012 By Chal Ravens
The image of Micah P. Hinson on stage is a far cry from the image that his voice projects on record. A husky, whiskey-drenched,Texan old man he is not – the young, almost dorky Hinson twitches and wriggles in front of us like a restless toddler; with every discontinuous movement he ejects he lights up the flashing trainers that he wears on his feet. It’s an odd dichotomy, and his voice, when it comes, sounds like it’s from somewhere else, from someone else. At times its delicate, soft and honey-smooth; at others it’s coarse, strained and almost Waits-like in the grumble and clout it exudes. Like a true southern gent, he is hugely courteous and spins a marvellous yarn. From mental hospitals to van crashes, we get a deep insight into the gloriously oddball world of Micah P. Hinson. Material dips and weaves through his career but leans rather favourably towards his astounding debut album, ‘Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress’ – surging and powerful performances of ‘The Possibilities’ and ‘At Last, Our Promises’ are rousing and touching. Still as seemingly love-struck as the day he met his wife, he invites her up to sing a couple, too. A quick blast of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’ and he’s gone, flashing trainers lighting his exit.
Beak> record their albums live and shun needless frivolities like overdubs, so fans of their recorded output won’t be astonished to learn that there are’t too many surprises in store from the band’s live show, unless, of course, you’re really shocked by dry south western humour.Tonight focuses more on the Neu and Clusterinspired rhythms of recent album ‘>>’ rather than the Mogwai-ish post-rock that was offered up on the band’s debut record, and it’s the kraut-rhythms that get the crowd nodding, even if it’s the brasher ‘Wulfstan II’ that gets the biggest cheers from the crowd. Beak> remind me of the sprawling electronic soundscapes of Zombie Zombie, although structurally tighter, featuring proper vocal sections and, while this might be wishful thinking on my part, complete with traces of some of our more delightfully original indie bands like Clinic coming through the mix. I’ve deliberately not mentioned the other bands that members of Beak> play in, though, and neither have I used the term “side project”, not just because modern music renders such old rules meaningless, but because this evening the band do more than enough to show how much of a fantastic group they are in their own right, as if their hypnotic album of 2012 wasn’t proof enough already.
An earlier version of this review contained an accusation that could, we feared, have been deemed libellous by persons relevant, such as the bosses of Island Records, home to tonight’s act. So it’s with careful consideration we tell you that Aluna Francis, vocal half of London duo AlunaGeorge, bursts onstage in a last-minute, pop-starry entrance, primed for her Dazed & Confused close-up in a bomber jacket borrowed from Ghostface Killah sometime in 1996. A drummer and bassist behind provide some heft while beatmaker George Reid flanks Francis with a bass-heavy, two-steppy backdrop to her sugary-sweet vocal, which flutters through the room so flawlessly you could almost imagine she’s not singing at all. She pulls moves like Aaliyah and throws off the jacket to show off a gold sequinned bra, effortlessly hitting every note but without seeming particularly proud of this astounding feat.You could almost imagine it’s out of her hands.You could almost imagine that Reid is simply pressing play on a… but come on, this is a proper venue where proper bands play.The idea that an up-and-coming act of attractive and marketable young starlets would give anything but a completely live, raw and honest performance in front of an audience of industry types, east London tastemakers and mainstream press reviewers is – surely! – inconceivable.
TEED at THE WAREHOUSE PROJECT Salford Quays, Manchester 26.10.2012 By Reef Younis ▼
Now in its third and seemingly permanent venue in Greater Manchester,The Warehouse Project has come a long way from the first begged and borrowed club night way back in 2006. So after bouncing from old brewery’s to underground car parks to its new home in Salford Quays, it’s little wonder that the WHP love affair has endured, and tonight’s TEED-curated event is the booming, colourful carnival it promised to be. Under the purple neon glare of the main room, John Talabot sets about casting the shadowy dystopia that made ‘fin’ such a success across an already dim-lit corner of Manchester; a display of stylish deep house and expertly-constructed ambience. It’s a controlled contrast to the festival blaze of colour, atmosphere and giddy hedonism Orlando Higginbotham has been instilling in revellers for much of the last three years. For once, underdressed in his trademark dino get-up, TEED whips the Halloween crowd into a frenzy with a lively set of material from debut album ‘Trouble’, injected with the barracking jungle beats of his youth. Lego men grapple with Godzilla, werewolves howl at busty nurses, groups of tennis ballheaded teens stand trying to work out just what the hell they’ve walked into. It’s a wild, triumphant set that sets the party tone for the 2 Bears to effortlessly maintain the bounce in the back room bunker.
FILMS OF 2012 By IAN ROEBUCK
03. BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO ||||||||||
There is an extraordinary moment in British Director Peter Strickland’s second feature where this simple tale of audio engineer abroad implodes and parallel worlds collide. The audience reel in horror as the film screeches to a stop and we’re left with pastoral beauty and an Attenborough style voiceover. This barbed scene, where the stifled, almost antihorror narrative clashes with bucolic pleasure, conveys much of the film’s ideas in one dumbfounding but brave move. With wild dislocation, this slow-burn thriller turns into some kind of evangelical Lynchian nightmare that was marvelous to watch.
0 4 . S i g htseers ||||||||||
Hopelessly in love and hopelessly out of control, caravan loving Chris and potty mouthed Tina’s maniacal courtship is arguably the most enjoyable romance in recent cinematic history. From the dark recesses of the minds of Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, this wonderful screenplay about a very British holiday gone wrong was brought to life by the fresh direction of Ben Wheatley of Kill List fame. More than anything, though, this berserk journey through the backwaters of Britain is a hilarious, pitch black comedy that shines a Maglite on Oram and Lowe and their undisputable talents.
THE MASTER ||||||||||
As potent and creative as one of Freddie Quell’s intoxicating cocktails, The Master is undoubtedly our film of the year. Quell of course being Joaquin Phoenix’s simian-like sailor who’s post war, moonshine-soaked persona drags us through the most extraordinary two and a half hours. Paul Thomas Anderson directs a free-flowing, surreal narrative with painterly grace reminiscent of Edward Hopper or even Gerhard Richter. A magisterial opening sequence introduces us to our antihero, unable to hold down a job his troubled psyche restless and frenzied. As Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Get Thee Behind Me Satan’ tellingly draws us in, we watch Freddie unravel in red raw violence. It’s from this low ebb that Phoenix’s character meets Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s cult leader Lancaster Dodd, the two men at once repulsed by and fascinated with each other. We’re thrown headlong into one of cinema’s most arresting relationships, Freddie vying with egotistic showman Dodd. Some have criticised Anderson’s oblique script and predisposition to abstruse set pieces, but it’s these moments of beauty that beat the heart of The Master, its esoteric nature the reason it’s so special. Johnny Greenwood’s astonishing soundtrack is meanwhile a mind-melting accompaniment, soothing woodwind and organ combining with dissonant strings to contain and mould Freddie’s anguish. A meditation on Scientology it may well be, but The Master is also fable for our times, a bruising black comedy and one hell of an acting battle.
02. HOLY MOTORS ||||||||||
Leos Carax, the French fantasist whose films have stretched cinemagoers’ patience for nearly 30 years, finally produced the goods with this strange love letter to the movies. Denis Lavant is astonishing as the shape shifting Monsieur Oscar who drive us in luxury through the Paris night, jumping from one story to next, the limo his portable dressing room. Throwing his soul into each mind-bending facade, Lavant steals the show, but Holy Motors also has a rich complexity that remains long after its rediculous climax. A wonderful reminder that cinema shouldn’t always be serious.
05. ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA ||||||||||
With his sixth and best feature, Director Niri Bilge Ceylan created this bravely hypnotic police procedure film. Who would have guessed following a bunch of hapless Turkish officers around the Anatolia foothills would be so gripping? Here, Ceylan transformed two hours in the company of car headlamps into something of transcendental beauty, and as the sun raised for the final hour our morality was tested with harrowing simplicity. Like the investigation unfolding, Ceylan kept things moving slowly – a masterstroke that allowed nature to linger amongst the chaos of death.
Loud And Quiet 2012 Read every past issue at loudandquiet.com LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 44 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
LOUD AND QUIET LOUD AND QUIET LOUDANDQUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 43 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 41 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 42 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
GROU P R HODA
Da n Dea c on
EGY PTIA N HIP HOP PU BLIC SERVICE BROA DCASTING A LU NAGEORGE
PLUS DINOSAUR JR. FLYING LOTUS SAUNA YOUTH TY SEGALL HOW TO DRESS WELL
BAT A AT
TH E MOU NTAIN GOATS SH A R M EL SH A K ES ... A N D YOU WILL K NOW US BY TH E TR AIL OF DEA D
Interviewed : TRUST, COV ES, R ACH EL ZEFFIR A, PATRICK WOLF, INTER POL, GR ASS HOUSE, NZCA/LIN ES Plus INSIDE HOOKWOR MS’ SU BU R BA N HOM E STU DIO
GABRIEL BRUCE A MODEL R ACONTEUR
ALIVE AND DIRECT
LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 40 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
LOUD AND QUIET LOUD AND QUIET LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 39 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 37 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 38 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
GRIZZ L Y BEAR KEEL HER
John Lydon on everything
YEASA Y E R
– VIRALS – 2:54 –
PURIT Y RING
DISAPPEARS ∆ GRAHAM COXON
TOTAL L Y ENORM O U S EXTIN C T DINOS A U R S
HOT CHIP MAC DEMARCO CHET FAKER LADYHAWKE
DROP OUT VENUS
JAPANDROIDS FEMALE BAND
PINS THE MEMORIES JESSIE WARE DIRTY PROJECTORS BEAK> NICK GARRIE SEX IS DISGUSTING RIP
M I C AC H U OFF TO NEVER NEVER LAND
HOW TO GROW OLD DISGRACEFULLY
LOUD AND QUIET LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 36 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
World, you need a change of mind
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO
AT THE ALTAR OF THE BASEDGOD
MARTI N CREED
ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
POLIÇA XIU XIU
ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 35 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
Plus Willis Earl Beal Chairlift Weird Dreams Hatcham Social
Charlotte Gainsbourg --A life in art
Gang Colours Maria Minerva THEESatisfaction
LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 34 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
Grimes The Proper Ornaments Lee Ranaldo Trailer Trash Tracys Psychic Dancehall Ceremony The Maccabees
--+ PEAKING LIGHTS GUIDED BY VOICES SUNLESS ‘97 HOOKWORMS PERFUME GENIUS FLAMINGODS PRINZHORN DANCE SCHOOL SHABAZZ PALACES
RAISED ON A DIET OF TOP OF THE POPS
Thank you for reading
party wolf’s IDI OT G RA ND SLA M 2012
MOST LIKELY TO SAY
“I’m going to cook you something you can eat.”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
Made a Hobnob the size of a car to “bring back the tea break”. (I know).
2012 IDIOT POWER PLAY
GAME, SET & MATCH
Disney villain turned geriatric wig model
Geriatric wig model
“YES!?” at the end of questions, like he’s barking at a Tai hooker. “Sorry, I’m prone to overracting, YES!?”
“I love your spotty dog. Will you take five pounds for its skin?”
MOST LIKELY TO SAY
“How much for your birth certificate?”
“You’re right, a fiver is taking the piss. I’ll pay the asking price.”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
“If anything, I really like President Obama’s race!”
Told untrained kids they’re fucking useless on Hotel GB. A new low, even for Rambo.
Still no violent attack on Duncan Bannatyne two desks down
2012 IDIOT POWER PLAY
Mum! Grandad’s making a video for YouTube again!
% They were just kids, Gordon! Just kids!
GAME, SET & MATCH
That’s actual hair! Horse hair.
Lily Rose Cooper
TV’s Cat Bin Lady, minus the bin
Daughter of Fat Les
Sister of no mercy
MOST LIKELY TO SAY
Something about cats or, worse, the sexual eploits of a Geordie gnome.
“Te he he,” after quite literally the most boring of sentences.
MOST LIKELY TO SAY
“It’s my time to taawawawawalk, yeahhhh.”
“Have you heard the new Beak> album? I love it.”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
“You got me, I couldn’t stand not being famous, so I’m baaaack. Te he he.”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
“Hands up who’d like me to sit quietly for a bit?”
Shitting on the ever-loyal Comedy Dave from an almighty height.
2012 IDIOT POWER PLAY
2012 IDIOT POWER PLAY
Does anyone rememberThe Voice?
Radio fat cat/ TV fat slug
“Actually mate, it was your wife I wanted to have a quick word with...”
You named him Comedy Dave!!!
“Gorillas have tiny cocks but thankfully large fingers.” Yep, that’s done it. Impotence for life.
Our own Malcolm Fucker
Our own fucker
MOST LIKELY TO SAY
“Labour did it”
“We’re all as bad as each other, eh?”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
“Boris could be a fun leader.”
Claiming that George Osbourne shouldn’t have been booed at the Paralympics in “disrespect”. Oh boo hoo Alistar, you fucking spider.
2012 IDIOT POWER PLAY
Bunking the train would have actually made Georgie more likeable had he not been eating a McFoieGras at the time.
GAME, SET & MATCH
We get it, you’ve got a kid now and Sky TV. It’s just not that funny, Lily.
GAME, SET & MATCH % J wins in a gurn-off tie-break. Course she does.
% GAME, SET & MATCH 5
Match postponed due to slime on the court
Like most people, this time last year, I thought Andrew Mitchell was the tubby one in Peep Show. Or the divvy one. One of them, anyway. But no, ANDREW Mitchell is a cavalier MP who’s had a hell of year, bombing about on his bike and calling the fuzz wankers. “Open the gate, you fucking plebs!” “Know your place!” Steady on old son. I mean, no one like plod, but don’t be a prick about it. If you want to get known, just get stuck on a zip wire or something.
GRAND SLAM WINNER: THE TRUMP In the UK, our conservatives look like wibbly eggs; in the States they’ve got this guy – a root-tooting, pink-faced old pisser with a sleeping fox on his head. It’s been another mammoth year of stupidity for Trump, following a 2011 that had him running for President, bragging “I get on very well with the blacks”, dropping ‘F’ bombs in his ‘pick me!’ speeches and assuring America “I’ll sort China out”. But offering to buy Obama’s college records from him via YouTube – that’s other level stuff, man. Cameron, look alive!
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely fictitious.
“This trifle needs more pigs’ feet”
NAME FAME MOST LIKELY TO SAY
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY 2012 IDIOT POWER PLAY GAME, SET & MATCH