Baby Bird

The Original Lo/Fi
Samuel Beckett, grumpy old sod that he was, once said that, when looking at great paintings, he liked to get so close to the canvas that he could see the brushstrokes that made up the whole. He wanted to know that a human being had physiucally created the work of art. With Pop producers currently proving fairly conclusively that you can polish turds it’s a pleasure to tuck into Stephen Jones’ equivalent of a homebaked pie. Recorded, more or less, as demos between ‘88 and ‘95, ‘Lo-Fi Originals’ collects the five albums he released in the one year plus an extra slab of tracks culled from the 400 or so he had lying around. That’s 100 songs. The surprising thing is simply how much of it is good, or even better than good. Naturally there’s the odd stinker where the ‘Bird sounds a bit like Frank Sidebottom on a bum trip but the general impression is of a giant sketchbook fleshed out and skilfully edited. Songs like ‘Vallerie’ with its silly lyrics and Northern soap vocals shouldn’t work but have a beautifully melancholic feeling. Some of these songs are genuinely moving, the simplicity of the recording seems to remove some of the barriers between the listener and the singer. It’s funny and depressing that in the mid 90s we had Baby Bird and probably didn’t appreciate it and now we have Daniel Beddingfield. Long live lo-fi.

Jack Tractor

http://www.babybirdmusic.me/

Baby Bird
Freekspert

Freekspert

Open Mind Polish
Noisy buggers, Freekspert. ‘A bit uneven’ seems to be the lingua franca of debut albums but the start of Open Mind Polish is almost too even. The first three tracks on their debut album are the equivalent of being shouted at for ten minutes. After a couple of minutes it all becomes a bit formless and flies past you rather than into you. Freekspert sort themselves out thereafter with the trip metal of Button Moon and some nice doubled up vocals on Fly Die. It tails off again a bit towards the end, not because there’s a loss of energy, far from, but because the shouting takes over again and Sandman is forced to get a nice soothing tea. At their best Freekspert are great, crushing but nimble enough to enough to give their Chilli’s meet Senser meet Rage rock something which picks it out from a crowd like a skinhead in an afro convention. At their worst no-one likes being shouted at. Mummy.
Jack Tractor

http://www.bandmine.com/freekspert

Pat Barry

Do Your Dance
Following on from Mettle Music's well received and beautiful "Honeycomb Lounge" long player, Pat Barry releases his debut album on Sheffield's bastion of Deep House. Bringing together highlights from his previous 12" releases and a few new cuts, "Do You Dance" is a friendly laidback House orientated jig. A variety of friends pop up on co-production duties, and together they offer some wonderful deep moments. "One More Time (Remix)" pleads for another, courtesy of an outer-planetary synth, playful moving forward keys, a monstrous bass and mumbled manipulated vocals. "Keep Us In Our Place" sees an enraged activist stir up his troops over a gorgeous accepting bass and tolerant keys. Si Brad hops on board for "Here's To You", a foaming bass number, with holding back percussion, a euphoric dancing disco synth and guitar extensions. "Violet Trax" calls on the skills of Swag and Solid State, as a dark moody bass groove combines with spaced out dreamy tech keys, a strobe like stuttering synth and over-bearing cymbals. An assured debut album, combining old and new mat erial with style. However, it does feel like a game of two halves, with the superior tracks coming towards the end.
John Freer

Veena Harlem

Heavy City
After a lengthy absence and label shake-up, Sheffield's purveyors of finest house return. Veena Harlem have received attention and support for recent releases on Urban Torque and Paper, however it is this brilliant release which should make them a (deep) household name. "Heavy City" takes a funkified bass, scuffed percussion, raw synth cuts and weighted strings on a deep brooding mission. "My Motive" is wondrous romantic celebration of Veena's NY namesake, with its roving guitar bass, informative spoken vocal refrain, glorious synths and whistle-able keys.

John Freer

 

Nile

To Sir With Love
While we continue to wait with baited breath for the impending long player to drop, Attaboy get things going on the remix tip, producing a pair of sub-aqua chugging mixes for Nile. Their 'Main Mix' lets relaxing keys wash over choppy beats, a stylish guitar orientated bass and confusingly manipulated vocals. The 'Attaboy Dub' adds layers to the percussion, as an acidic tinged bass lets rip, synths groove along minding their own business and vocals moan. The final mention must be saved for the heart-rending chaotic broken beat version, with its tear flowing keys, sharpened knife-like strings and desolate loss of innocence recalling vocals.

John Freer

 

Ashbury

Steal My Nature
Pressed on a little white 7", in ridiculously small quantities, this emotional slice of nu-street-soul is one of a kind. "Steal My Nature" absorbs every part of your body with its disjointed murky beats, beautifully mournful vocals, reticent keys and life-changing strings. "Sideways" looks at things from a different angle, as sprightly punctuated brass, glistening keys, natural vocals and almost 2-stepped beats combine. It is fair to say that this won't be around for long, so get searching...

John Freer

 

 

New Releases

Baby Bird
Freekspert
Pat Barry
Veena Harlem
Nile
Ashbury

December 2002

S003

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