(Full of Insects) (Invisible Spies)
This had a curious effect on the sandman office. After a few tracks one poor lady visibly began to droop and took on the appearance of a whipped spaniel while others, male to the majority, took on a stiffer aspect and as one moved like Vikings. We’re not sure what to make of it all.
Earl Shilton follows the mad Invisible Spies blueprint by not releasing anything you’d quite expect. This is full on Nietzchean Doom Metal, low on vocals, high on pain, and full of the sort of riffs that could either bring down dictatorships or help them to power in the first place. In this instance Earl is a one-man grind band as he’s played the whole lot himself. As an ex-Bolt-thrower(er) and Groop Dogdriller the drums are great - he probably sleeps cradled in the stiff-metal arms of a double-bass pedal but the guitars are more to the fore and are about as catchy in an apocalyptical way as this kind of thing can be. To give it the genuine Teutonic twist all the titles are in German: Our favourite translation ‘Pardon Me For All This Blood’. Can’t wait to see it live. Lovely nosebleeds.
Dr Universalis: Obtuse Strategies
Anything that kicks off with lovely big squelchy farty noises is OK in our books. And this does.
Named after Brian Eno’s studio techniques where, as far as we can gather he confuses musicians to the point where they forget how to play their instrument (or something) this is a pretty good fun brantub of harder edged electronica with good solid old-fashioned marshall beats. There’s definitely some glam in there, which is always a good thing and certain things remind us of the days when KLF were still justified and not quite as ancient. By this we mean it’s pretty good fun and there’s a pop sheen to the whole thing (Zombie Girl is tops, at the same time it is dated. Saying that when half the world are carbon copying bands that existed 25 years what’s wrong with only being ten years behind the times?
Effectively the studio project of Axis man Paul Bower this release coincides with the 10th anniversary of un!recordings (see labels feature p.12)and good for them. Go and get some S.L.B.C. as well and have a listen to the lurking sound of Sheffield.
Swag: No Such Thing LP
Nearly half a decade after the release of their debut long player, Chris Duckenfield and Richard Brown return with a wonderfully diverse follow up. Rounding up some of their meanest dancefloor assaults alongside syrupy honey toned vocal cuts and seriously left of centre weirdisms, "No Such Thing" was certainly worth the wait. "Where I Belong" that featuring the absorbing loving vocals of local hero Nasreen Shah is a wondrous comforting number, with relaxed untroubled beats, an at ease bass and glorious joyful strings. "Them Drums" is an unstoppable floor friendly aural attack, whose serene versatile beatbox intro and lightweight overplayed live percussion do not prepare the listener for the rude dirty morphing bass, alerting synth and stealthy drawn out brass action that follows. "So Close" captures the magic of dancefloor attraction perfectly, courtesy of an ecstatic rising bass, holding back quirky breaks, soul touching anticipating vocals and friendly modulating computerm FX. "Lovestruck" sees infatuated vocals gaze longingly, as solid percussion, swooning strings and summers day sunny keys groove along nicely. Developing their distinctive Swag sound that bit further with "No Such Thing", Chris & Richard have conquered both the dancefloor and home listening markets with ease.
Fresh from the productive underbelly of Sheffield's 'Real House' underground, Comfortable Records unleash their debut outing, an EP of intelligent floor friendly electron-ic grooves from 76/79. "Vanity" is a tech-infused stomper, with an "Energy Flash" type relentless bass, a wonky synth, ruthless beats and moaning vocals. "Taste" takes slippery marauding keys, a never-ending pogo-ing synth, sweet discofied vocals and straight running beats to produce a prowling dancefloor gem. "Main Land" sees orb-type thoughtful spoken vocals uncover the wonders of nature over purring attractive keys, an absorbing haunting synth and a writhing bass.
Slomo: Girl From Alaska
Another one man band effort - Slomo is, in effect, Dave Gledhill until they play live (see live review p.17) and reveal themselves as one of Hillsborough’s hidden gems. Girl From Alaska is a neat modern shuffle with psychopathic tendencies - Gledhill’s strengths are as much in his plot led lyrics full of Soprano tinged mayhem, as his obvious flair for a tune. As a taster for the forthcoming album (out in May) this suggests a bit of Alabama 3 for its barely tangible blues twinges and maybe even a bit of time spent wallowing in dub. The title track’s pretty good but we’re fonder of Love, Hate, Devotion with it’s whirring bass and the singer getting kicked across the floor and up against the door. Tsk. Girls eh?
Dolium: Veronica Ann / Bald Doll
Slated for release a couple of years ago apparently, the wait has done this single no harm at all. Two brutal tracks pinned together by some positively carnal drumming. We’d have said the almost Killing Joke through a wind tunnel clumping of Bald Doll would have been a better choice of lead-off track but Veronica Ann with its Gary Numan on guitars attack, Goth yelping (This way. And That Way. And This way echoing the Smiths if Morrisey had not only got laid but had experimented with nipple clamps) and God Bless glaciality does the job pretty well. Go and see them live if brutality is your thing.
Richard Hawley: Run For Me
There’s no reason in the world why this shouldn’t be soundtracking the early part of the summer and beyond. Taken from the superb Lowedges album this is the one where the kitchen sink has been trundled in and the spirit of the Walker Brothers sprayed round the studios. Strings, crooning and much swooping up, down and all around desolation.
Much like the sun coming out from behind the clouds this is where Hawley drops the ex- tags. It is really as good as anything else he’s ever been involved in. We were too late to get our hands on a copy before going to print but could certainly have done with hearing the Hawaiian guitar instrumental. Who else is doing this kind of thing?
All the craft of a Kelham Island pint with the taste of champagne.
Pink Grease: Soul Pacco
Cut'n'shut rock'n'roll treats from t' Grease. We detected trace elements of Joy Division, The Ramones, Bauhaus, The Stooges The Cramps, The B52s and possibly a touch of Showaddywaddy. And it's all ace.
Haven't a clue what roads link Penzance and Sheffield (the M5?) but Soul Pacco screams up it in a mongrel racer of a car fuelled by a galloping riff before it all goes jet crazy mixing Ian Curtis with soaring electronics. Tired of Waiting tunes directly into rock’n’roll radio before the final track takes Goth Rock and tickles it a bit.
Head above the parapet stuff from a group unafraid to mix up sleaze and sparkle. It’s musical shoplifting on lovely triple-thick vinyl and is probably not for those who regard a wallet chain as the epitome of style.