Dieter Moebius – Kram (Klangbad)
Dieter Moebius, having been a part of Harmonia and collaborated with Brian Eno, here takes us on the kind of journey one would imagine taking with a slightly grizzled experimenter. There is gentle menace alongside the blueprints of some of his former works, but he is more than capable of creating sick unease and atmospheric sophistication that leaps into a bizarre dystopia. Not nightmarish in the traditional sense, Kram (translating as Stuff) is comfortable in its unrest, even encouraging us to conjure our own nightmares to accompany these slowly sprawling works. The pace of the record, though it is itself constantly mobile, is key to its success.
It seems a little backwards to attempt this, but the opening track from Dieter Moebius’ Kram must be viewed as a whole. The listener must perceive the piece to be one complete segment. When it starts with jarring Vangelis-derived synthesizer and aimless toying, Start is not so different to its own ending. The tonality hints at the major, but never lets it overrule the atmosphere of ponderous movement. Clanks and industry voice their opinions on the material. That there is a five minute period where rhythms are introduced and gently squeezed into being is irrelevant – it is the widescreen view that must be adhered to.
The album itself benefits from similar abstraction in consideration. Suites come to pass, taking in motorik propulsion and the occasional unfulfilled melodic potential. Treated licks of electric instruments are tantalisingly close to expanding into full-blown tunefulness, but Moebius has his sights set purely on atmospherics. At times, like on the haunted Womit, time appears to stand still. Textures refuse to progress at any pace unwanted by its creator, and Moebius expertly keeps things ticking along with just enough interest to capture the ear. Those melodic fragments swirl and want to be explored, but the nature of the compositions means that they must be sacrificed so as not to cloy the kinetics.
Though at times difficult to penetrate, quiet and reflective listening to Kram will reward massively. It’s heartening that such a sonic technician still exists, and relieving to discover that his music has not aged, but definitely progressed. Indeed, viewed as an entity as of itself, Kram will totally envelope, test and invigorate.
This is out on the splendidly-named Klangbad records on September 14th TWOTHOUSANDANDNINE. Have a lil’ ear-gack.
… means ‘I Have Got To Feeling’.
Nice one, Will.I’m.
Also, get a hyphen in your name. What’s an Eyed Pea?
Sleeping States – In The Gardens Of The North (Bella Union)
Markland Starkie has taken his time with this Bella Union debut, and it’s been absolutely worth the wait. Rarely are listeners likely to hear a writer who gives such balance to the realms of pop and folk music and the trappings therein. It is at once atmospheric and direct. Rings Of Saturn creeps without menace but with luxuriating intensity. Starkie is not so much driven by his bookishness as he is by the musical ascents he cleverly creates. Showers In The Summer, for example, shimmers thanks to masterfully beaten toms and careful cymbal, his voice buoyant amongst it all along.
There is something of the spiritual about some of Starkie’s flightier works. Josh Pearson is evoked on the sweetly-cooed Breathing Space, a beautifully judged piece that implies deep consideration of its musical gestures – clearly, the nuance of performance is a trait heavily valued on In The Gardens Of The North. This makes it, above all, a naturalistic, instinctive record with wonder and seriousness equal players in its success.
This came out on Monday. PM DID REVIEW IT IN TIME, THOUGH, FOR GOD’S SAKE STOP WORRYING. Proof? Buy Artrocker this month. Music (lovely, super music) here.
Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power – Fever (Fire)
With intimations this fiery, unfocused and sickly, it’s easy to find ample entertainment in Dave Cloud’s reasonably barmy incantations. Questions about this veteran Nashville Arthur Brown-alike might include the following for the uninitiated: Is he singing in tongues? Why does he have two voices? Does he have some sort of mental problem? The answers are unimportant when lines like “Did I say calypso? Well, shut my lips-o!” are peppered throughout this micro-masterpiece of tension and dirt.
Aside from the artful quirkiness on display throughout, it’s chilling to hear exactly how an elderly David Berman would sound on Try Just A Little – it’s uncanny. The freewheeling spoken-word final track, ‘In The Distance’ is brilliantly atmospheric, sounding almost like an after-thought, but with gravitas aplenty in the spooked tale of a courtship betwixt bugler and belle, providing a fine ending to this short (a shade over twenty minutes) but electrifying collection.
This comes out via the inestimable Fire records on August 24th. Visit.
Getting dangerously interested in Japandroids now. Head here for a total shed-load of interviews and performances. The interviews feature a blond man.
Here’s a funtime video that isn’t at that link:
Amazing. Myspace. Review. Review.
Hecuba – Paradise (Manimal Vinyl)
Hecuba are, if nothing else, utter experts at conjuring a menace that seeps. The boy/girl duo of a filmmaker and an actress are more than competent at maintaining that menace and mutating it gently into serious unease – the buzzing free-form ending of ‘Even So’ is a scintillating climax. Intense darkness surrounds the early stages of the record, with the borderline horror film nursery rhyme of ‘Miles Away’ standing out as paranoia incarnate.
More than just pantomime villains, Hecuba reveal the subtleties of this debut very slowly, but very markedly. Gradually increasing the bombastic synths and widening the contrast between a light spooking and terrifying squelching horns very slowly makes itself apparent, and the listener is faultlessly drawn in. Relentlessly, ‘Paradise’ prangs from Laurie Anderson motorik monotone to joyful keyboard explosion and into the lowest registers of what sounds like a piano being breathed into life by Godzilla. In short: a mood masterclass with enough dramatic pop fun to stop it being relentlessly bleak.
This is out on 31st August via Manimal. That’ll be nice. You can also read this review in the latest issue of Artrocker. Which you should get.
Telekinesis – Telekinesis! (Morr Music)
The best summer records are more than just simple, jolly songs played on acoustics with a little bit of fuzz – you have to capture all elements of the season. The sitting down, the water, the sweat of activity, maybe some romance if you haven’t already cracked a bottle. This is why Teenage Fanclub can be said to produce some summery material, but have not recorded a summer album. The Lemonheads’ ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’, on the other hand, nails it with a blend of exuberance and Evan Dando’s slackerisms. Telekinesis have at the summer album and pretty much nail it too.
The opening sketch ‘Rust’ is the perfect entrée, wistful, homespun and excellently lo-fi, and the following set seeks to gently tweak and rummage its way through your Jun-Sep (if we’re lucky). Main man Michael Benjamin Learner is clearly someone to whom lightness has little adjoining shade, preferring instead the jamboree-pop favoured on all those classic records from nineteen-seventy-whatever. Which means that this is not a record dripping with invention, but it is one that understands the multifarious nature of summer, its stickiness and its sweetness, its sensations and its silliness.
This is out BLOODY TODAY. I don’t care if it’s raining, get it and enjoy the summer. Have a listen. This review is in this month’s Artrocker, which you should buy and stuff. I don’t mean buy and then stuff it, I was being flippant.