Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Le Wolves - Le Wolves, album review

The Growl of the Present

Retro is no dirty word to this reviewer, steeped in nostalgia as I am and with a ghostly steam of the past rising from my aural appreciation like dew in the morning sun – and clearly not averse either to the extended metaphor – but I am nonetheless equally enamoured when contemporary bands bring a fresh brushstroke to Rock’s ancient paintwork.

Fresno California band Le Wolves do just that with this eponymous release, their ‘good shags’ Rock and Roll a track to track burn-up of wheel spun punkrock, lots of screeching in the guitars, drums bombarding, and vocals surrounded by screams and an apparent chorus of echoing shouts including coughs – well you would have to. There are two longish songs, Wizardry is one at four minutes like the other, and this is quite delicate, in a comparative way with more control in the screeching guitar work and shouted chorus – even the drums slow to a steady beat for more screeching guitar to sway above – and the vocal is sweetly progfolkrock until there is a speeded up return to the song’s core line. This is actually quite a complex song cycle, in the rock basics scheme of things. But the screams keep it symptomatic. Great stuff.

Hit Me Slow Like an Overdose follows this, and the burn-up is back on fire, the vocal hollowed out to a background scatter so that the instruments drive it all, punk rhythms, pounding bass and those pummelling drums. Way Back Home then arrives on the same bullet train merging punk and psychedelia, a brief guitar solo of sublime fuzziness. The rest is the same wildness, though Juanita, the other four-minuter, is lightened with a trebled bass and bird-like guitar riffs, though there is still some screeching. What an excellent rousing early evening's listen this has been

Can be heard here.

Pool [and Billiards] Music 2

Monday, 28 November 2016

Stone Machine - Rock Ain't Dead, album review

Legion of Riffing Rockers

I know a reviewer/writer should avoid falling prey to omphaloskepsis, but I do occasionally check out what I have previously said about bands, and I have to say, in the enthusing vernacular of the day, I think I 'nail/smashed it' when hitherto describing Stone Machine as producing ….trousers-driven rock. Tight fitting, and you can read the rest of my assessments here.

This 2014 release – I always seem to be a little behind with them, not that it matters – is more of the same from these honorary contemporary members of LORR. It is a genuine fusion of AC/DC, Free, Led Zep and, interestingly, similar to the fine appropriations of the same by a band like The Answer until their latest, reviewed here, that seems to have taken a tangent.

It’s all here: the chugger Sad to Say; the acoustic, plaintive ballad Mr Blues [a suitably tilted platitude], and pretty damn fine; a slide-sassy Sky’s Gonna Cry; the pump and pomp of the title track; stereo guitar shifts across speakers and a great riff with Sugar Mama; even more sublime riffing on Black Moon Creepin’ [with some Black S in there too with its blues], and closer Angels and Devils that reminds of Black Crowes at their generic LORR best.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Wreck Music 5

John Martyn - Danny Baker radio tribute - 29th January, 2009

I’ve been dipping in and out of YouTube collections of John Martyn live concerts – a rich resource – and there’s no reason other than I will always be listening to his wonderful music, here and there and now and then because it is the very best, and my passion for this is reflected in a variety of reviews that can be found here.

One completely new source discovered today was the Danny Baker tribute made on his BBC London Daily Show on the very the day of Martyn’s death – 29th January, 2009. Danny, a long-time and deeply fond fan – had arrived to give his programme as planned to only then find out Martyn had passed. What followed is an entirely spontaneous two hours of devotion to John’s music through nostalgic remembrance and playing songs – that is, what can be acquired in that time. It is a ramshackle, often rambling, but always profoundly affectionate tribute, with Baker reminiscing in a loop of surprise, upset and praise. As he states, he never played Martyn on his radio programme because it is such a private love of the music and the man.

I understand and agree with every disjointed and incoherent words he speaks, especially at the beginning of the programme and as it becomes more cogent and sustained beyond broken sentences when more music has arrived [there must have been a flurry of attaining from anywhere].

Baker states there is little music available in the studio, claiming everything else has been looted, and quite rightly so, and he also makes an observation about his own John Martyn record collection of how this vinyl must always remain personal and private because of the too many rooms they’ve been in, and too many places with you.

Baker grows into more control as the programme progresses, and he obviously has to explain to listeners, especially those joining in after the start, what is happening in the singular focus, and he also feels a need to apologise at times, stating at around one hour and twenty minutes in [speaking collective of the programme makers but meaning himself] we are not show-boaters and stuff like that.

Baker’s control is just that, and perhaps typical of the incessant raconteur at his core, so when people email in comments or even ring through with these, Baker interrupts and overrides with his own. Well, he’s entitled. After all of these years I still miss John Martyn but have the personal collection to dip in to for remembering and thus fully empathise with Baker’s thoughts then and now. Indeed, I played two of Martyn’s albums today and have listened to the two hours of this radio programme.

It’s no great commitment to the latter if you are a fan, and if you aren’t [though I’m not sure anyone would be reading this if not] there is much to learn from it.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Gong - Rejoice! I'm Dead!, album review

Trusting Trajectory

It would seem by reading reviews/commentaries on this album that most Gongheads have accepted the trajectory of this latest release after the death of founder and charismatic leader Daevid Allen, apart from a few diehards who think mutability cannot exist without dire consequences.

As I have often admitted in reviewing other bands, I am no aficionado here, but perhaps that is an advantage over being shackled to rather than celebratory and generous about nostalgia. This is a wonderful album, full of excellent progjazz songwriting and performance. The title track is indeed a joyous ten minutes of sweet harmonies on the rejoice chorus and then the prog rock rhythms, these enhanced by the saxophone bursts and runs from Ian East, at times swirling around in the guitar of Fabio Golfetti, including Steve Hilage adding lines over a heavy drumming segment.

Third Kapital is an odd one in the context of the whole, sounding as it does to me of Underworld’s Born Slippy. Fourth track Model Village contains the voice of Daevid Allen still politicising in lyrics

When we talk about floating anarchy
Look into the future and you'll see
It's the only way of life that can set us free

We may be in denial, but capitalism's autopsy will say
It haemorrhaged corruption and it bred dishonesty

and the song then moves into another sweet vocal, echoing a pastoral sound with East caressing on flute. Next Beatrix also uses the voice of Allen, this time in French, and it is a soothing simple piece with East playing a lovely if brief tenor solo.

Sixth Visions is an ambient, restful piece with distant sweeping soundscapes, both instrumental and vocal – beautifully melodic – and this segues into the twelve minutes of The Unspeakable Stands Removed that has East playing a gorgeous soprano throughout, and it has the repeating rhythms of a Terry Riley and Soft Machine trajectory. I think this track is superb, Dave Sturt driving it on his pulsing bass lines and East returning with punctuating sax until Kavus Torabi adds the vocal, singing of the mysterious in his own lyric,

Well, time is central, it's elemental what we think
Lost in this ocean, time is a notion, the missing link
But understanding we are all standing on the brink of

Reflections that reveal the mystery further
Serve only to reflect the thing itself
It's only the unspeakable within that
Resembles more the mystery itself

This song does rise to quite a crescendo of pulsating sound. Penultimate song Through Restless Seas I Come is orchestral and expansive and again quite beautiful.

History is important, but the here and now of this album makes the present something to celebrate.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Into the Distance Music 44

Lubomyr Melnyk - Illirion, album review


These acoustic piano pieces of repeating phrases by Ukrainian-born Lubomyr Melnyk are written and performed in the spirit of Terry Riley and similar – for example modern electronic and programmed repetitions – and their impact is made through the hypnotic effect of their playing/performance, though I found these solo piano patternings seemed to have more nuances of sound within the repetitions, perhaps to do with actual physical touch, and this itself to do with variations within an otherwise set pace. I don’t know. I’m sure many could find it simply going on and on [to express it negatively, as those hearing it this way would], but I found it soothing overall. Most are like opener Beyond Romance at 16 minutes of the recurrence of its rise and fall pattern, hitting a single piano-distinct clink at each height, this varying as a note, but the chord sequence [left hand work] varying slightly too. The briefest Sunset is three and a half minutes and is the quickest and loudest and less soothing but nonetheless dramatic, rounding each time – speedily – on a lower bass note compared with the opening track. But this expression isn’t a fine art of aural observation because they all do coalesce in the reiterations. Or

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