When I saw In Gowan Ring two years ago in my hometown Gent there were approximately 10 persons around and seeing that the gentle man asks for the use of a van during his European tour makes it all clear that changes are small that he will storm the charts once. There's no need for that and I'm sure that B'eirth would be the last man around to want it either. B'eirth is the creator of what was once a weird cross between neofolk and psychedelic hippyfolk. He used to create his own instruments and In Gowan Ring was once like an open air museum from weird instruments. But the times they are a-changing said the godfather of the hippies once and with In Gowan Ring it's not different, not that it is a bad turn anyway... Yesterday some students from the academy of Ghent decided to invite both Lisa O Piu and In Gowan Ring while they were doing a mini-tour through Europe. Due to some bad promotion (or is the In Gowan Ring-curse?) 40 people or less showed up and once again it seemed like pearls for swines. The concert was divided in 3 parts. The first part was In Gowan Ring who got joined by the whole bunch of Lisa O Piu. No unusual instruments just a guitar that bizarrely enough looked like an avocado while the Lisa-gang were joined with classic instruments like a violin, African percussion or a clarinet. Despite the fact that this little set was quite beautiful, you felt that In Gowan Ring was more going into the direction from Donovan or Fairport Convention. The second act was something very strange : Hans Oiseau. Hans is a artperformer from Gent who uses his guitar in a rather strange way. He creates weird industrial sounds by touching the guitarsnares with a ventilator, an alarmclock (I swear I wasn't drunk), an electric toothbrush and if my eyes served me well (I wear glasses!) even a discman. The result was quite innovating and the guitar-noise wasn't that far away from Lee Ranaldo's solowork or even the short industrial intermezzo's on Kraftwerk's "Autobahn"-album. It was a strange decision to put Hans between two neo-hippyacts but at the end of the performance you had the feeling that you watched something breathtaking. To finish the evening we got the psychedelic folk from Lisa O Piu. They come from Sweden and already toured with members from acid folkmasters Comus but this time they were joined by B'eirth from In Gowan Ring. Another 40 minutes followed and I don't know if the term ethereal folk already exists but if it doesn't then it's invented now. Wonderful female vocals were lead by a Michael Cashmore-guitar and so it happened that references like Sol Invictus or Current 93 were floating in the head. Those students made a very great evening (just make some more flyers next time!) and at the end we even had a chat with the very gentle B'eirth. (Yes, Wim Morc, I mentioned you).
It certainly has been the week of the heroes for me. Not only was there the interview with Mark Burgess from The Chameleons who wrote a 4 page interview within 24 hours whereas it takes 3 months for an unsigned band to complete one, so there you go. But the biggest surprise in my fanzineyears (20 that is by now) came during the lunch at work. As I'm a quite "social person" I spend my 30 minutes of break at work on Facebook and a bit unexpected I got a message from that other hero, Everett True. He gently told me that he gave a shout on his blog about this tiny zine. I know I am a mopester but I almost got tears in my eyes when seeing his words on his blog. Everett wrote actually some great words about this zine and was full of praise about my passion. Now you can accuse me of anything you want. You can say : "When will you stop telling all these things about that journalist?". You see, as I have told in the Mark Burgess-interview, I must have tons of fave bands (probably 10.000) but only perhaps 10 heroes and Everett (and funnily enough Courtney Love too) is among these 10. Why? Well even I never met him (well I did but he was drunk and I was nervous) I know that without him my life would have been totally different. Without him I would never have started writing fanzines as I was amazed by his passion, by his dare to write the words that everybody thought but no one dared to write anyway, it was through him that I started "Komakino" (my first fanzine, after 2 issues I started "The Original Sin"). Having had the praise of that hero meant a lot to me. If you don't know, Everett still writes, at the section of my fave blogs you'll find "Music that I like", click on it and read the words from one of the journos that really mattered simply because he had/has an opinion. Respect ET.
The hidden treasure of today is Cotton Club! No, I'm not talking about that dreadful movie by Francis Ford Coppola and why would I start talking about him on my blog? This is a music blog and music they certainly are! Cotton Club are from Lille and they play psychedelic 60's rock with a new touch. They can be best compared with Spacemen 3 and seeing that they recently toured with Spectrum (the outfit from Sonic Boom) makes me pull out all my hair that is left for missing that! These French psychorockers recently released their mini-album "Between drones and daisies" and six songs long you're in some psychedelic area. Fat guitarloops and a voice that could be Lou Reed's one (in the 60's that is!). A tip! http://www.myspace.com/lecottonclub
If a band have a song named "Albatross" then you're thinking of Fleetwood Mac, you are even thinking of psychedelic 70's rock. And yes, that's what these four Canadians are but they do it a only bit different. In fact even very different as you best can describe them as hippies who are not afraid to add some shoegazing sounds to their music! It all started some years ago when Jace Lasek decided to form along with his wife Olga Goreas (they are a 4-pieceband now) a band. As they wanted to obtain the raw psychedelic sound from Led Zeppelin they built with all kind of old equipments their own studio, Breakglass Studios. In homecountry Canada they're already what you could call a household name and on their 2nd release they even were joint by the likes of Godspeed You Black Emperor! "The Besnard Lakes are roaring the night" is their 3rd album and also the one which brings them to the European continent (in fact by the time you're reading this, they could be playing somewhere around you!). Already from opener "The Ocean", it's clear that this Montreal-based band haven't chosen for the lightest sound around. Heavy drones and psychedelic guitars are warning you that this will be an album that demands a part of your soul. Their great music reminds you of psychedelic rockdrones like Loop but at times when it's all too heavy (not the music, the mood you know) you have a track like "The glass printer" that sounds quite a lot like Cocteau Twins and that because of the shoegazing guitars and the ethereal voices from Olga. Their album is released on the Canadian indie-label Jagjaguwar that already brought us stuff from acts like Lightning Dust or Bon Iver. "The Besnard Lakes are roaring the night" has become the first fine psychedelic album of this spring. Contender for the endlist of 2010 nontheless! http://www.myspace.com/thebesnardlakes
Time for something incredibly loud now, something so noisy that your ears tremble, something so hard that you have no idea what your partner is shouting at you. This monster comes from Manchester and that's something totally different then we're used to coming from there. This 3-piece band are surely influenced by Steve Albini and his followers, so it's no wonder that you're having references like Jesus Lizard, Shellac (of course), Fugazi or something more recent like McClusky. They surely make the kind of noise from which people will react : "'Do you call that bloody noise music?" I do as it evokes my inner emotions and sitting here behind a pcdesk writing this review while hearing this epic of sound is rather hard. First write, then smash the furniture...kind of... but recommended to anyone who is into the Albini-noisesector. http://www.myspace.com/kongdom
For some is Grouper already a household name but for the majority of the world Grouper means nothing. The Pitchfork-site (not that I read this publication, mind you) have listed Grouper's album "Dragging a dead deer up a hill" in their 2008-list and that's not that surprising. Grouper is the project from Liz Harris and so far she made three albums. The atmosphere from her music is a rather creepy one and you'll discover some ethereal references like Cocteau Twins but also dark icons like Virginia Astley or Stina Nordenstamm. If Grouper was around by the time David Lynch decided to make "Twin Peaks" you can be sure she was asked for it. It won't make you the happiest of all men but it's brilliant nontheless. http://www.myspace.com/grouperrepuorg
Well, this album isn't brand new but as so far I still have to meet the first person who's telling me he has heard of Horse Shoes, I think it matters. It's not a fact of matter, it's a fact of absolute need as this album is one of the most sweet things I heard in quite a long time. Horse Shoes are two boys (actually they are Drew Diver and Jacob Graham) from Ohio who grew up by listening to records by The Smiths. Who didn't you ask, well some who do became plumbers but these two joined hands and became Horse Shoes. "The imperial school", released on Shelflife Records, reflects in a perfect way what Horse Shoes are all about as this is indiepop in the purest Sarah-tradition. Most people are referring to Field Mice and that's true (of course!) but I think they're not far away from They Go Boom! (you know those Americans who released all that fantastic stuff on labels like Sunday Records). In case it doesn't ring a bell yet, Horse Shoes are making melancholic dreampop with an electronic background-beat (think New Order). Perfect pop! http://www.shelflife.com/catalogue/LIFE1008.html
If there is one genre I must hate then it must be "art rock" as rock can't be arty and art has nothing to do with rock. Art is beautiful but even the term arty makes me climbing up the wall. I say this because Liars are mostly classified as art rock. Are they art rock? Well, I guess that is just the description they got the day they left their disco punk sound as "Sisterworld" is considered as a conceptalbum. All pretty normal if you know that behind the producer's table was a lad called Tom Billier. From the moment you know Tom was responsible for the musical scores from movies like "Punch drunk love" or "I heart huckabees" then you know enough. According to Liars this album is a reaction against the new hippie-movement that is conquering the music landscapes. You can hear a bit everything on this record : avant garde, hardcore, post punk or even (well a bit) new wave and with a description as such you're not that far away from a band like Melvins. Is it a good album? Well, I stay honest...this is my blog and I'm not paid for doing this and I even bought this CD myself and there's only answer : I haven't the slightest idea what to think from it. All I know is that it was in the CD-player the whole time and I let it play. I know what you think : what a stupid review was that...it's not, at least you know you can await something unexpected.
Shoegazers in Russia? Well, it might surprise you but today, just like in the US or Asia (we feature that later) there is now a real boom of shoegazing bands around. I remember that some weeks ago we featured on these pages Was She a Vampire from Russia, now you can add The Victory Park to that list. They just releasded their debut "False silence EP" and it's available as a free download. The influences are without any doubt every shoegazing band you can think of and the production isn't always that perfect, but give these youngsters a listen if you're into this genre, you might like it! Three songs are in English and an other is sang in native Russian which is pretty weird. Due to my family life I know quite some Russian music and it's the first time I hear a Jesus & Mary Chain sort of song done in Russian! http://www.last.fm/music/The+Victory+Park
And now something from my area, that's East Flanders, Belgium in case some of you wouldn't know it already. Masda are a duo and they play music that once was be labelled as post-rock. I like post-rock a lot but it became literally the scene that killed itself. You didn't have to wait for the new Mogwai as every town on this planet had their own Mogwai, and we aren't even mentioning those boring bands who think it's okay by penning down just some instrumental Steely Dan-songs. Just to tell you that if I get a post-rockrelease in my hands that I'm rather suspicious about it. With Masda this is not the case. The influences are obviously there and you can be sure that without a Tortoise or Slint there won't be Masda but at least this band not only have the right vibes (brilliant guitaroutbursts in ...sorry... Mogwai-style) but also songs that can be played over and over. I mean this is a band who has something to offer, they write songs and they don't wanna be a sleeping pill. If Morc Records are reading this (I know they do) well...they know the drill. http://www.myspace.com/masdamasda
Well, there are artists around who hate it that music is a free download and then there are others who spread their new material on the web for free hoping that someone hear their efforts. Anyway, if there ever will be a year that the shoegazingscene will come back then it definitely must be 2010 as once again we're wellcoming with open arms another band (in fact, it's a one man's project) who thinks it's genius to hide his voice behind a wall of sound (and something like that is genius!). Dead Mellotron from Dallas just delivered their debutalbum "Ghost Light Constellation" and they put it for free on their My Space-website. This is great music for anyone who is into Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine or even the later stuff by Cocteau Twins. Check that out! http://www.myspace.com/deeeadmellotron
I dunno how many fave bands I have, must be a couple of thousands just because as Mark says music is like food with many flavours. I only have a few heroes and I guess that with my 2 hands I have enough fingers left to count them. One of them is without any doubt Mark Burgess, singer from The Chameleons. Mark says it makes him laugh if someone says that they're the most important band in history. Everyone knows that technically speaking he might be right, but I am NOT technically speaking. I am talking about emotions. When something went wrong in life (and that happened more than once) I locked myself in my little world hanging around with my records from The Chameleons. It probably never helped as Mark is the kind of musician who opens wounds a bit more thru the melancholic touch of his music and not in the least because of the lyrics. But that's me I guess, the day my former girlfriend ended our relationship I started playing at immense volume a record by Spear Of Destiny. Just an introduction to tell you what Mark and his music means to me. After 20 years of DIY-journalism I can confess without blushing that this interview below means most to me. In this life not everyone has the change to swap some words with his hero, Mark gave that to me and therefore he becomes even a bit more my hero I guess.
WELL HELLO MARK, I HOPE IT’S OK THAT THIS IS AN INTERVIEW DONE BY AN ENORMOUS FAN INSTEAD OF A TRAINED JOURNALIST. LET ME FIRST ASK YOU, WHAT ARE YOU DOING THESE DAYS MUSICALLY?
I’m looking to put another band together and using Chameleons sets to find the musicians. I’m currently in the United States, in Los Angeles to be precise hanging out with musicians, DJ’s, promoters and the like. I’ll be playing some acoustic shows while I’m here ahead of a visit with John Lever’s band Bushart, and the Sun and the Moon, at this years GWT in Leipzig, and a few date in Germany and Manchester England. I’ll be in New York on July 31st to play Jack Rabid’s ‘Big Takeover’ 30 year anniversary event. Big Takeover is an independent Underground music magazine. After that I hope to return to the West Coast for full back line shows. I’m also planning something big here in music in the wider sense, but I can’t talk too much about that right now.
IF I SAY THE CHAMELEONS, I ALWAYS LINK YOU WITH THE SOUND. NOT MUSICALLY, BUT I OFTEN THINK….WELL, THEY COULD HAVE BEEN AS HUGE AS LET’S SAY U2. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I think everything happens for a reason. Had that happened to us a lot of great things that I’ve experienced wouldn’t have happened, so I’m okay with the way things went. I’ve always been on a personal journey, rather that a collective one, even when I was in the band. That kind of fame would have hindered me but than helped me. I’d hate to be one of those people that can’t walk down the street in public or go out anywhere in public without causing a fuss or having folk staring at you everywhere you go. I’d really hate that. And I’ve always been able to do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted and go wherever I like, and never really needed for anything. So you know, I don’t care that we didn’t play stadiums and made a quadzillion dollars. I get enough satisfaction from the people that DO appreciate the music, I don’t give a fuck about all the ones that didn’t or don’t.
IN FACT, YOU ARE HUGE CULT HEROES…AND IS THAT SATISFYING ENOUGH?
Yeah I’d say more satisfying to be honest. Every time I get invited to a club or something, no mater where I am in the world, I always hear one or two of our records being played, and the people I do meet that come up and say hello are really cool and some of them have gone on to do great things in music on their own. I stopped listening to the radio a long time ago to be honest. I hated most of the music being played on daytime radio in England especially, if I did hear our records in the middle of all that dross, I think I’d be embarrassed or insulted. I’d think we’d actually done something wrong.
WHAT ALWAYS WAS OR IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE CHAMELEONS IS THAT I NEVER MET PEOPLE WHO LIKED YOUR MUSIC….I MEAN IF THEY KNEW YOU THEN THEY WERE ALMOST MANIACALLY IN LOVE…..
Really? I meet them all the time.. But its amazing how many very young people are discovering the band now and write to me or come up to me to talk. Kids as young as 15 up to their early 20’s. A lot of musicians too, a lot of people starting bands of their own. We seem to attract a lot of those.
THE CHAMELEONS WERE ALSO THE BAND WITH THE LYRICS! SO SIMPLE, IT WASN’T POETRY BUT MORE LIKE A FIST THAT GOES RIGHT THRU THE MIND. DO YOU THINK YOUR LYRICS WERE DARK?
I think they have shades of light and dark and all the shades of grey in between. They reflect life and the experience of living, so they’re going to incorporate all of the spacial and dimensional elements that life has to offer..
THE CHAMELEONS WERE FROM MANCHESTER. THE MANCUNNIAN MUSICSCENE IS LIKE OVER-ROMANTISED. WAS THAT SO OR IS THAT ALL MADE UP BY JOURNALISTS WHO WANNA WRITE BOOKS?
No Manchester music has been a vital force and it is romantic, but at the same time hard, dark and humorous, and that’s still the case. I think it’s one of the most potent breeding grounds in music in the world and it’s reached every corner. With the passing of Joy Division, New Order, Chameleons, Smiths, Stone Roses, the city might not have the focal point it once had, but it’s legacy is huge and far reaching and I think it always will be, just like Liverpool, Seattle, New York etc.
YOUR THIRD ALBUM “STRANGE TIMES” WAS NOT RELEASED ON GEFFEN BUT IT ALSO HAD A DIFFERENT SOUND, AN EVEN MUCH DARKER ONE I THINK…., HOW DO YOU SEE THAT PERIOD, MARK?
Actually Strange Times WAS released on Geffen, maybe that was a typo? Well the sound changed compared to other records because we were working with Dave Allen, who’d produced The Cure, the first accomplished producer we’d had since Lillywhite, and he brought a lot to the project. As a period it was significant because I was at a very definite crossroads, a kind of awakening that heralded one of the most profound periods of my life. I personally regard that album as my best lyrical work for the band aside from the Tony Fletcher tracks, which came next and didn’t get released for many years.
I KNOW IT SOUNDS STRANGE….BUT IF YOU COULD DO IT OVER, MARK, WOULD YOU DO IT THE SAME WAY?
I don’t know. You can’t go back and re-do things so the question is redundant. But I have no regrets whatsoever. I’m having a really great life and I wouldn’t swap if for anyone else’s. There’s no one else I’d rather be, than me. Oh wait a minute, the haircuts, I’d definitely change the haircuts.
IN FACT, WHAT’S YOUR FAVE CHAMELEONS-ALBUM, MARK?
Script of the Bridge because it was our first album and for that alone it was exciting. We’d had a long time to prepare the songs and ideas were cascading all around us. We were cocky, confident, even arrogant, which is normal for a band in their early 20’s. We were having such a great time together for the most part and everyone who was in on the beginning were still involved. Everything was fresh and new.
AFTER THE CHAMELEONS CAME THE SUN & THE MOON…..THEY MUST BE ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED BANDS EVER I THINK…HOW COME?
Well the record wasn’t that well produced to be honest and it was coming in the wake of The Chameleons, one of the best guitar bands ever to come out of Manchester, so I think we suffered from the comparisons. These days I feel a lot better about the band than I did back then. I felt we should have stretched ourselves more and gone on to do something a little different. The band’s reluctance to do that was what brought it to an end. But these days I’m really enjoying playing that stuff again..
YOU ALSO COVERED A SONG BY THE FALL, NOT? BIG FALL FAN? AND THAT LEADS ME TO MY NEXT QUESTION….SOMEWHERE FOR ME THE CHAMELEONS ARE PUNK, SO DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A PUNK?
We always were and it in terms of attitude I still am. That was what a lot of the record labels, like CBS or Geffen, couldn’t understand. We had more in common with The Fall than we ever did with the likes of U2, The Bunnymen, or the Psychedelic Furs.
IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU THAT YOU WERE THE BEST BAND IN HISTORY, WHAT DO YOU THINK THEN?
THE CHAMELEONS DIDN’T RELEASE THAT MUCH ALBUMS BUT IF YOU ADD ALL THE EXTRA RELEASES (THE LIVE ONES, THE SESSIONS) YOU’RE ENDING UP WITH A VERY HUGE PILE. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING YOURSELF IF EVERY 3 MONTHS THERE WAS ANOTHER LIVE-ALBUM?
Well live albums I’d have no problems with, because every gig we did had a different quality about it. You’re capturing the band in that moment. I would have loved people to be able to buy a live recording of the gig they’d just seen, as they left the venue, but of course that’s impossible. I think live albums are really pure, which is why I don’t have tantrums and jump up and down every time someone points out a bootleg to me.. When Dave and Reg and Imaginary Records started releasing all the demos and stuff, I was like, “oh fuck, that sounds shit.” They weren’t ever supposed to be heard by anyone other than us. But then when the cheques arrived I smiled and banked the royalties just like everyone else, cause I realised people wanted this stuff. The fascination with the band was huge amongst the underground and they appreciated it most of it, so I just accepted it in the end.
AFTER THE “FIRST CAREER” FROM THE CHAMELEONS YOU WENT SOLO. WITH ALL RESPECT, MARK, IT WAS JUST LIKE WITH ADRIAN BORLAND. AT FIRST THESE ALBUMS DISSAPOINTED ME BUT IT WAS ONLY AT A LATER AGE THAT I START DIGGING THEM. ISN’T IT DIFFICULT BEING SINGER FROM SUCH A LEGENDARY BAND WITH SUCH AN OWN SOUND TO CONVINCE YOUR FANS WITH NEW MUSIC?
Well you know everyone is different. Not everyone is gong to go for the work I do alone or with others. A great many came to Chameleons because of the sound of the band, the guitars. I just do what I do and people can take it or leave it. And if others want to give me the opportunity to make a record, I’ll carry on just doing what I do. A lot of people really love some of the solo stuff I’ve done, others don’t. Fair enough. I told Adrian once that I didn’t really like the Sound that much, because the sound of the band put me off, it got in the way of the songs. It wasn’t until I’d heard him play them on his own that I got it. He told me he felt exactly the same way about Chameleons.
TALKING ABOUT ADRIAN BORLAND. DURING THE RELEASE OF “THE AMSTERDAM TAPES3 YOU PERFORMED SOME SOUND-SONGS. WAS ADRIAN A FRIEND OF YOURS AND WERE THERE NEVER PLANS IN THE HEAD TO RELEASE THESE SONGS ON CD OR SO, AS THEY’RE FABULOUS….
Well I think some of those songs were released by Adrian in one form or another, just not those particular recordings of them. Yeah Adrian was a friend. He’d invited me to work on his last White Rose Transmission album and I was going to tour with him that summer. I was waiting in Germany for him to begin rehearsals when I got the phone call that he’d committed suicide.
I DON’T KNOW IF YOU FOLLOW THE CURRENT MUSICSCENE BUT THESE DAYS WELL KNOWN BANDS LIKE INTERPOL OR WHITE LIES ARE RIPPING OFF WHAT YOU GUYS DID IN THE 80’s. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
I don’t give a fuck. Everybody does it, they’re welcome to it. In fact I’m flattered.
THE CHAMELEONS ARE ONE OF THOSE BANDS WHO MARKED THE 80’S. BUT WE BOTH KNOW THAT 99% OF THE PEOPLE RELATE THE 80’S WITH CRAP LIKE ROBERT PALMER OR GLENN MEDEIROS. SO WHAT DID THE 80’S MEAN TO YOU?
Well I was having a really great time but pop music in the 80’s was absolutely shite. I mean if it hadn’t have been for John Peel, I would have gone completely insane and would have just gone around smashing radios with a sledge hammer or something. A few bands were around to save the day and the sanity. Chameleons were just one of them.
TO WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING, MARK?
All kinds but I’m still very into bands that can write great songs. Current favourites of mine are Editors. And there’s a band have been going for quite some time that I really love called Archive.
I CAN’T HELP IT BUT WHEN I HEAR THE CHAMELEONS I ALMOST HAVE TEARS IN MY EYES….SO I GUESS I CRY A LOT….. I KNOW IT’S A DIFFICULT MATTER, BUT DO YOU THINK THAT MUSIC IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE?
No. But like good food, music makes life worth living.
SOMETHING FOR THE BELGIAN READERS…. ANY CHANGE THAT THE CHAMELEONS WILL COME TO BELGIUM?
The Chameleons disbanded in 2003 for the final time. But I do want to play there with a ChameleonsVox line-up and we are working on it. I really dig Brussels and have some good friends there.
SORRY MARK, SINCE I START INTERVIEWING BANDS FOR MY FANZINE I ALWAYS ASK THEM THE SAME 2 ENDING QUESTIONS, SO MY HERO IS THE VICTIM OF IT TOO!!!! WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
That’s impossible for me to answer. Music has so many different flavours and it depends on my mood, but if I had to choose one album, it’d be the very first Beatles album, the Hamburg set they used to play on the Reeperbahn.
WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND TO BE ALONE WITH IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
Kate Bush. I’d have lots of deep and not so deep conversations, and lots and lots of sex.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
To have as a good a time as I can in the time I have left and bike across America and after that , the world.
I couldn't agree more but coming up with a band's name that goes like Taxi Taxi is like giving limits to yourself cos you're awaiting some stupid pop. But you have to forgive them....they're Swedish and they make even great music. Their first songs which appeared on My Space (where else?) didn't only got the attention from the big public, but from artists as well. And so it happened that their debut EP got produced by Björn Yttling from Peter, Björn and John (the lads who scored a monster hit with "Young Folks"). But there was more, their debutalbum "Still standing at your back door" got released by Rumracket in their own country, the label that is owned by Efterklang, while Fierce Panda released it outside Sweden. Yesterday, we got the first performance from these Swedish twins over here. Miriam and Johanna are both in their late teens and that's what they sing about : the rise and fall of a teen. Even if they were pretty nervous from the early start, it looked like the audience where giving them the benefit of the doubt. It was clear that from the very first minutes that Taxi Taxi would be a band who are largely dominated by the angelic voices of the twins. Musically it was all quite minimalistic even if they got joined by two guest musicians. A song like "Ripest fruit" was quite close like Beirut and the single "Old big trees" would have fit well on Björk's "Debut". A description like a minimalistic Fleetwood Mac for dark souls would be not that bad I guess. Anyway, after 40 minutes the fun was over and even if the visit was a rather short one, it was still worth it!
Good things come unexpected they say. So it happened that on a cold night (it wasn’t at all but that sounds more romantic) that I decided to go to see Squares On Both Sides live. No, never heard from them before either but from the very first note I sat with open ears (and at times open mouth) hearing what this young Berliner Squares On Both Sides aka Daniel Buerkner. After the gig I asked if he wanted to do an interview with me and he said “yes, of course”….here is what we’re talking about….
HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELVES AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC THEN?
Hello. I’ve been recording music under the name squares on both sides for about nine years now. I record by myself, arranging song structures with guitars, pianos and vocals with other things I find, field recordings, toy instruments, etc. I guess you could call it all very minimalist.
LET’S START WITH A VERY STUPID QUESTION….WHY NAME SQUARES ON BOTH SIDES, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE OBSESSED WITH MATHS OR SO?
It’s a line from William Burroughs’s novel “Naked Lunch”. Doesn’t have to do that much with my music actually. It’s about drug dealers. However, Burroughs used the technique of “cut-up”. He cut up texts and assembled them to form new texts. So there you might have a connection to my music, collage is an important method.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE GERMAN SCENE, DANIEL?
I started off with the label “hausmusik”, which was quite influential in the German music scene at its time. In the beginning, American mailorders labelled my music as a “Notwist-side-project” for that reason, which might have been a false but helpful thing. But beyond that, I can only say that I have friends in Berlin and Munich who make really good music. But that doesn’t mean that I am part of some scene. Also, I prefer seeing squares on both sides not as a specifically German project. Working with Own Records from Luxemburg or Japanese musicians like Yasuhiko Fukuzono really meets this approach.
I GUESS MANY PEOPLE WILL SEE YOUR MUSIC AS QUITE SERIOUS, EVEN HUMOURLESS AT TIMES. DO YOU THINK THAT REFLECTS YOUR PERSONALITY OR NOT?
Oh, that sounds horrible! To begin with, I don’t consider my music as being too serious. There are a lot of collaged, playful elements. I sampled beats from the “Super Mario Paint” sequenzer. However, there’s a certain form I chose which might appear “serious” or “sad” to some people. However, I see it more as a way of being very focussed. And it’s important to confront this focus with playful elements. But this is an abstract level, my personality is another thing. I like to have a laugh, you know.
YOU HAVE TWO ALBUMS OUT IF I’M RIGHT, ARE THEY SELF-RELEASED OR ON SOME LABEL?
Actually, three records appeared on “hausmusik” and a fourth, the most recent one, on “own records”.
I ALWAYS THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE A PERFECT ARTIST FOR TOMLAB. AGREE OR DISAGREE?
Tomlab is a very good label and I have huge respect The Books or Final Fantasy. But I’m pretty happy with own records. No need to send a head-hunter…
DIDN’T FOUND THAT MUCH ABOUT THE BAND ON THE WEB BUT I SAW THAT EVERY ONE COMPAZRED YOU WITH SOMEONE ELSE. FOR ME, YOU WERE LIKE SOME LO-FI PAVEMENT….THROUGH THE VOICE I GUESS, CAN YOU SEE THAT?
Actually I don’t know, because Pavement have a very lose style. It’s like a rope swinging about in the wind. So I don’t know if my music is very much like theirs. But it’s a nice thing to hear because I really like them.
YOU DID JUST AN EXCELLENT GIG IN GENT, WAS THAT A TOUR OR SO AND HOW WENT EVERYTHING?
Thank you. It was a mini-tour through Luxembourg and Belgium. It went pretty nice in fact. People from Benelux have proven before to be very appreciating and open for more silent music.
YOU ARE ON STAGE ALONE WITH VERY FRAGILE MUSIC, ISN’T THAT SCARY?
It is. But that’s already part of it, I guess.
BY WHAT ARE YOU INSPIRED : MOODS OR THE SOUND FROM OTHER BANDS?
I listened to a lot of Japanese music while making my last record “indication”, so you might hear the influence. But I don’t consider music the best inspiration to make music. After all there’s food, travelling, animals, people, images, architecture... About moods – well I try to make very un-moody music. It’s not about moods.
I KNOW IT’S A STUPID QUESTION BUT INTERESTING THOUGH : DO YOU LISTEN TO YOUR OWN MUSIC?
Well at some point I have to, you want to know what’s coming out after all. But surely not in the bathtub or during breakfast. When it’s finished and everything works it’s not for me to listen to it. That would be kind of perverted after all.
HOW DIFFICULT IT MIGHT BE TO ANSWER….WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR MUSIC?
In the first instance, making good music. Very basic but hard enough. All the other things are part of that.
CONFESS US SOMETHING….WHAT’S THE MOST ROCK ‘N ROLL-THING YOU DID IN YOUR LIFE?
Rolling down a hill without a shirt? Lots of thornbushes.
LAST QUESTIONS ARE QUESTIONS I ALWAYS ASK, I CALL IT THE TRADITIONAL ORIGINAL SIN-QUESTIONS… WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND WHY?
I don’t have too many all-time-fave things, actually, because I think it’s constantly changing. But “a river ain’t too much to love” by Smog is pretty close though.
WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
Elevators are always horrible, no matter who you’re with. Yet, there’s the splendid elevator up the TV-Tower of Riga, it doesn’t go up straight but diagonally. I would love to be stuck there with no matter who.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM SQUARES ON BOTH SIDES IN THE FUTURE?
I just finished a new album, which will shall be released around september on own records.
DO YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING SPECIAL TO OUR READERS?
Sometimes the life of a musiccritic can be quite hard. Imagine, you like some band and you wanna write about 'em and all you find on their website is that they're from Stockholm, Sweden. Of course you can always consider not to write about 'em and make your own life a bit lighter but that wouldn't be fair. Not to you, not to me and not to Fontän. Who they are, what they are, what they will be doing is all a mystery to me. All I can say is that they're making a sort of weird dancemusic that sounds spacey, psychedelic (a bizarre mixture from Ozric Tentacles and Hawkwind). Most of their tracks are instrumentals and believe me, you'll be in another space. Do you wanna know more? That's all I know, except their website so you can check out yourself who they really are.... http://fontan.winterhwila.com/
Well, The Kiara Elles surely made my day and so did again Veil Veil Vanish....who led me to the great wonderful Cure tribute-album "Perfect as cats". Something else now. Some might have noticed that you can read stuff from me on the highly acclaimed www.darkentries.be website. Of course I'm very pleased that thanks to Henk I got the chance to be part of their staff but it won't mean the end of The Original Sin. At the contrary. Of course, I keep both sites seperated but the great thing is that some bands will be featured on there as well which means automatically that a bigger audience will read it, and that's why we're doing it for. If I'm totally honest with you I have no idea how I will ever leave this pc-screen with so many work in front of me, but it's better than watching Hugh Grant-movies.... Hugh Grant-movies?????
Remember the times there was something like a single of the week? You do? Well, then you must be as old as me, but hey ho!, in those days we had bands like Comet Gain, Velocette or even Fluffy who were our indiechartstars. Anyway all I wanna try to tell is that if this was a decade in where singles really had an impact I would make it single of the week nontheless. Whatever, this is the single of the week anyway! "Laser Shot" is the 2nd single by the newest indiepopsensation from Leeds and they're named The Kiara Elles. In an other life they were called The Chiara L's. Had surely something to do with that extremely sexy frontwoman named Chiara who would be perfect to hang on your wall as posterstar. Do they still make posters these days? Do Smash Hits still exist anyway? Wrong question for the wrong man I guess but I do know that The Kiara Elles are sounding like some dark Kenickie, or call it dark electro punk if that sounds better to you and I guess the dark addition must find its roots in the fact that they're Leeds-based (the town where goth had its cradle in case you don't know). The more you hear them, the more you hear echoes from post-punkheroes Delta 5, so that counts! This single is available for download on I Tunes and is more than promising for their debutalbum "Slide Over" that will see its release on 3th May this year. http://www.myspace.com/thekiaraelles
The man behind The Blooze Explosion is back! Not that he has ever been away as at the moment of writing the legend just finished an European tour with his newest outfit Heavy Trash. But this is something really different… This colloboration is built up by Elizabeth Esselink aka Solex, the Amsterdam-based girl who made new sounds out of her old records from her shop and creating with these some new electronic indiesounds. Solex got in touch with both Jon Spencer and his wife Cristina Martinez who everyone remembers (at least I hope it for her) from her days with Boss Hog. It are not remixes and luckily for us we’re saved from that as such albums happen to tend rather boring, but this album isn't. The great thing about this album is that it puts Jon Spencer in another dimension, some songs are like they are remixed by Hawkwind or Air because of its psychedelic mood. Also the interaction between the raw blues voice from Jon and the ethereal voices from both Cristina and Jon are splendid. This album breathes the atmosphere of all those fantastic B-movies from the 50’s at where you were confrontrated with swamp monsters or any other weird creatures. This album is quite excellent for anyone who has an interest for John but for whom his earlier stuff was a bit too bluesy or like with Heavy Trash a bit too rockabilly. Brilliant album, even if it’s unexpected.
Where are the times we were watching our 120 Minutes on MTV? Where are the times at where we were waiting to see Paul King or Miles Hunt coming up with the next alternative selection of the week? Today, MTV turned out in a bunch of dreadful shows. Thing is, I don't wanna be sounding like your grandpa (even if I'm afraid that I am) but when we're young we had music on MTV and not the ass of Paris Hilton. And where are the times that we saw that DIY-clip from "Liar" by The Charlottes? Anyone remember? Well, in case not you better jump to You Tube or so because The Charlottes where a band that got formed in 1998 and they had the right C86-spirit! How short their debutalbum "Lovehappy" might have been, it was not only a John Peel-favourite but it also made every indiekid happy who threw his arms around "George Best" by The Wedding Present. It was called indie these days and it sounded like indie!!! They did another album called "Things come apart" but three years later Simon Scott already decided to join Slowdive and The Charlottes were dead history....so dead history that even today no one cares... Forgotten music? What a shame my blog has such a section!
Already told you that blogs matter? They do, they and websites are the future of rock as without them we only had to face trash like Coldplay-copies and the world (or at least my world)doesn't need them. Perhaps my world is in need of some good old C86 indiepop enriched with shoegazingguitars cos that's what Thrushes are all about. In 2007 the debutalbum by Thrushes "Sun come undone" came out and tons of blogs were starting to hail these Americans. The band themselves stayed actually cool under all these superlatives and it took them more than 3 years to come up with a following up. "Nightfalls" (released on Birdtone records) is the latest offer from Baltimore's finest shoegazers and their sound is like a delicious melting pot from the best things from both English and American indiebands. At times it feels like you're listening to an American version from Shop Assistants, at other times it brings you back to the old days in which Juliana Hatfield was an indiebabe. The band themselves claim to have Phil Spector as their patron saint, and for a moment it feels indeed like if Phil would have produced those Jesus & Mary Chain-guitars... http://www.myspace.com/thrushes www.thrushesrule.com
Almost every day of the week you can pick up a free gig at the Video-venue in Gent and on a sunny Sundayevening (long time ago we could say that!) they invited a guy named Daniel Buerkner. There might be tenthousands of guys named Daniel on this planet, but there's only one Squares On Both Sides. So far this guy from Berlin released two albums "Dunaj" and the current one "Indication" that would be showcased tonight. You can say what you want, but a man has to have balls to stand in a venue (which is more like a pub in fact) performing fragile songs that only have some noisescapes that can be used as the well known wall of sound he can hide himself behind. How fragile his sound might be, he succeeded (even without asking) to obtain a concentrated audience which says something about the quality of the music. Every reviewer will come up with different names to compare Squares On Both Sides with, on the net you will find most of the times references like Hood or Will Oldham. Make with it what you want but I experienced this folktronica as some lo-fi Pavement. Daniel is not ashamed to experiment on stage, if he pulls out an antique music box and cling it on his guitar then you might be wondering what he will be doing now but it's just like during the whole concert : if he starts something then you might be sure it ends up in being something quite magical. Squares Of Both Sides is the type of band that you never will find in the traditional press and chances are even quite unexisting that he ever will reach a wide audience, but Daniel surely gave us a wonderful hour from his rich imagination.
There is a band in this universe who decided to call themselves Hazel Nuts Chocolate. Close your eyes, think and after a couple of seconds you know that such a band's name only can come from Japan! So here's the Japanese indiepopsensation Hazel Nuts Chocolate! If they ever will conquer some European ground is a question for the future, and a bit far away from now as till today they're still small in hometown Japan doing everything on the DIY-label White Lily Records. But having said that, who would have thought that in the 90's a band like Shonen Knife would have been famous. And the music? Well, it's Japanese so that already indicates that you're dealing with healthy insanity and I might speak 5 languages (how great I am, me) but something like "Koi wa kyurukyuru" or "Boushi to watashi" stays...well umm, Japanese to me. Musically they're a bit like Pizzacatto Five but I guess every European would say this because it's the only Japanese band they know of...well now you know Hazel Nuts Chocolate. http://www.myspace.com/hazelnutschocolate
When back in 1981 both Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard decided to join hands, no one could have expected that this Melbourne duo would have become one of the founding stones of the darkwave scene. Twenty years later, the impact of them is still immense. Not only they inspired many bands but they also became the fave band of the usual wavefan but also from the manager who buys himself one CD per month and pretends to be Mr Culture. The story is known by now. In 1998 there was not only the end of the artistic colloboration but privately, there was also the end of their relationship. The split of the band gave us several solo-albums by Lisa (which weren't all that good because there was too many attention drawn to Lisa's vocals only) and only one album by Brendan Perrry ("Eye of the hunter" which was released in 1999). The weak sales of the album must have inspired Brendan to rejoin Lisa on stage, and so it happened that in 2005 a Dead Can Dance-reunion got born. Sadly enough, it were concerts only as the two didn't record anything new. 2010 must be like a new start for Brendan as this summer his 2nd album "Ark" will see its release. Before Brendan would start an American tour with Bauhaus-frontman Peter Murphy, he did some European shows from which the one in Brussels was one of them. The choice of the Botanique-venue can be seen in different senses. For the fan himself, it's genius to see such a legend in such an intimate atmosphere, but for the artist it stays a tiny venue. And you can bet your ass that if Lisa returns to Belgium, it'll be a huge venue like the Cirque Royal. But this time it's not about Lisa, but about that other half from that famous duo. I was asking myself if it'll be another troubadourconcert cos no one from the audience actually heard a sole track of the new album and everyone expected it to be a sort of "Eye of the hunter"-sequel. The question soon got answered when Brendan got on stage (with a leather jacket and looking more and more like a real Peter Gabriel-doppelganger) and started the set with "The arcane" from...yes...that first EP by Dead Can Dance. It soon turned out that it won't be the last track by Dead Can Dance that should be played that night... The gig was a rather bizarre one...no ethic percussions or any of those other strange instruments that were typical for the later sound of Dead Can Dance. Two keyboards, a drum, a bass and two guitars : with these instruments you can obtain something that's been described as a postpunk-sound. If it wasn't for the grey beard of Brendan, you'd swear you were seeing Dead Can Dance in 1984! At moments there were times I was thinking of Cocteau Twins because of the Guthrie/Raymonde-sounding guitars. It soon got clear that the new songs from "Ark" also had that postpunk-sound. Hearing tracks like "Utopia" (included with some beats!) or "This boy" makes you wish to hear the new album as soon as possible, and judging on the liveversions alone, it's surely an album to look forward to as well! The public were very enthusiastic even if I'm sure that no one would have dared to dream that Brendan decided to turn back the clock for 20 years. Brendan ended with what he started : a Dead Can Dance-track and this time we got enjoyed by a great minimalistic version of "Severance". This gig was great for people like me who have missed the one from Dead Can Dance in 2005. Was nothing wrong then? Two things perhaps... Brendan was promoting an album that would see its release on a much later date (but that had nothing to do with him) and hoping for that track that didn't got played ("In power we entrust the love avocated"), but such things are labelled as details.
Click on Google the word "Munch" and you can have like thousand results that refer to Edward Munch, the famous painter from "The Cry". Click twice the word Munch (so that's Munch Munch) and you are directed to a band from Bristol. Munch Munch are the living proof that blogs matter. When having one of their early songs featured on the quite well known blog "20 Jazz Funk Greats", Jan from the Tomlab-label got in touch and it ended up in signing them. What once started as a joke (if you believe their biog, they began their career with their versions from Lighthouse Family-songs) is now a wonderful collection of adventurous noises. Perhaps the band never heard from them (which is mostly like that!) but to me they sounded like the missing link between Einsturzende Neubauten and Deutsch Nepal. Anyway, you are old enough (at least I think so) to check it out yourselves, so do it, unless you're a die-hard fan from the Lighthouse Family but then you're reading a wrong blog anyway... http://www.myspace.com/munchmunchband
It's been some days ago since I added a "today"-section to my blog but that's mainly due to the fact that it's been a extremely busy period. This week alone I saw three gigs, and a fourth (Brendan Perry if you wanna know) is on its way. It's actually a strange thing as I never thought I would become again the gig-attender I used to be all those years ago. Perhaps it makes me feel young again, but I think it gives me a life. Most of you know me because of Facebook and they certainly know that I can't live without music. Of course you can't, you insane fool...but I tried it once, you know and I fell on my face ending up thinking life was becoming at its end. I know that it's somewhere a sad fact that a man from 41 is dependent on music, but that's me...and restarting The Original Sin even makes me aware that I'm dependent on writing too. I'm always on the look for new music...even if new music can be old music. Today I got to know some very old stuff thanks to Everett and it might be not the music that's been hyped but it's good nontheless. You see that till now there's no stopping me and I'm thinking of ways how to include good unheard music in this blog...give me some time. Today was largely overwhelmed by Soap & Skin, a band that left me speechless even if I can say it was in a good or a bad way. Musically great of course, but seeing that people can be so close to complete lunacy is rather frightening. Scroll down to discover Monster Movie too, they're a band that features a Slowdive-member and expect something very good.
Katsen is a German word for "Cats" but this duo are as British as only the British can be. This electronic pop duo (Donna Grimaldi and Chris Blackburn) are coming from Brighton and they create with their Casio-keyboards an updated electronic sound that found its roots in the 80's. The 80's, you say? Sure, they even do a cover from "I'm in a love with a German filmstar" by The Passions and it sounds even better! For those who might think that the debutalbum by this duo is another rip-off from the 80's or just another synthpopband who pretends to be the next Depeche Mode, then they're wrong. At times it's poppy, at other times you'd swear they invited Alec Empire to their studios, at other times you get disturbed electronic pop that was typical for Add N To X and you could find many other ways to describe them but it's especially that refreshing sound which makes 'em great. It's not the first band we hear a band as such (remember Mogul if you can) but perhaps it can be the first time that a band with such a sound reaches a bigger audience cos that would be nice and it would uplift the sales from the Casios too!!! http://www.shelflife.com/
Fanfarlo will be huge, in fact the band are already on their way to the path called stardom. Already they've been featured on talkshows with David Letterman, and they make the kind of indiemusic that everybody likes, even the business manager who buys himself 1 record per month. If you would know nothing about the band, you tend to think that Fanfarlo is the next manufactured band released by some major that sounds like the next Beirut or Snow Patrol, but that would be unfair to say though. Their debut "Reservoir" is even self-released and the band worked for more than three years to the point where they're now, they gave their album almost away for free just to get heard. "Reservoir" is a good album but it's all a bit too neat produced, a bit adventureless. It's all beautifully done and the songs are like honey for the ears but I'm just not that much in bands like Noah & The Whale or the recently overhyped Mumford & Sons. Is it indiefolk then? A bit, but as so many others told you : Arcade Fire. Fair is fair, "Reservoir" is a good album that deserves its regular play but I do already fear all those boring lists at the end of the year that only will feature the bands that everyone hypes and they will be hyped too, believe me....
If you mention a band with a name like Monster Movie you tend to think of something brutal, something like Dwarves or Foetus or whatever ...but Monster Movie are nothing like that. In fact, dear children, Monster Movie, is a band (they exist for 20 years so nothing new here) which is fronted by one Christian Savill, who used to be in an other galaxy a member from Slowdive. We all know what happened with them…first there was Mojave 3 and later you got the solo-albums by both Rachel and Neil. How great all these releases might be, apart from the vocals there’s nothing left from that Slowdive-sound. Monster Movie are not the new Slowdive, absolutely not, but at least it’s a retour to the dreampopscene. Perhaps first a bit of Sarahpop-history for you. In the late 80’s both Christian Savill and Sean Hewson decided to form a band called The Geeks. The Geeks later became Eternal who had a release on Sarah Records. As Christian was so keen on joining Slowdive (who wouldn’t?), Eternal disappeared out of sight. Ten years later, the duo came back together and had their first album out called “Last night something happened” under the name of Monster Movie. Another ten years later and they’re back with an other album named “Everyone is a ghost” released on the tiny American indielabel Graveface. Monster Movie pretend to be making Krautrock, something like Can. This makes me smile, basically because I think it’s an insane thing to say (if Monster Movie are making Krautrock then almost my entire record collection is Krautrock!) but having that said, I see something like David Bowie’s “Low” coming up, enriched with…yes, that was the word…shoegazingguitars! You see, the world has to live with all these pigeonholing terms but in all honesty if you hear tracks by Monster Movie it’s like you’ve been tracked back in time where the young likes of Slowdive were overwhelming you with godlike songs like “Catch the breeze”. I know it might not to be fair to say that, but at least back then the music was gracious! Anyway, everyone has their own idea how Monster Movie sounds like, the most important thing though is that everyone agrees it’s actually great! All I know is that Monster Movie are like the keykeepers from a gate that hosts genius pop. Check it out yourself on http://www.myspace.com/monstermovie
Once there was a time we got the hypes from Melody Maker, and now we have the hypes from the net. You read it before, so you'll read it here too, the hype of 2010 surely will be Dum Dum Girls. Not one official release, but everybody who's in the alternative underground knows their name. It not only suggest the power of the net, but also the power of Dum Dum Girls. Dum Dum Girls are 4 ladies from Los Angeles who named themselves after "Dum Dum", the album by The Vaselines (you know that fave band from a lad called Kurt Cobain). They recently got signed to SubPop and their debutalbum "I will be" is one of the most awaited debutalbums ever. But this is music for the future, now you have to deal with a tape. A tape? Yes, a tape... Dum Dum Girls are so underground that right before the great breakthrough they have released a tape called "Blissed Out" released on Art Fag Records. You can be sure that by the time you read it, it'll be sold out as it's limited to 400 copies, but there's something like the net... "And how do they sound like?" asks the man in the corner who never heard them. Well, it's all very lo-fi and distorted pop. Some say they're like Vivian Girls, but if Ronettes-songs should have been covered by Jesus & The Mary Chain, you can be sure it's something like Dum Dum Girls. At the end of the year they'll be as big as The Raveonettes, no...much bigger!!!
Must have seen thousands of concerts in my life, but today was the very first time I saw someone burst out in tears, and she's only 19... "Lovetune for vacuum" by Soap & Skin must have been the best thing coming out from Austria since music existed, or something like that. Out of nowhere came this little masterpiece that couldn't be labelled. It wasn't neo-classical, it wasn't darkwave, it certainly wasn't singer-songwriterpop but everyone agreed that it was that voice you got haunted by...a voice that sounds so much like Nico. Anja Plaschg aka Soap & Skin knows very well at what she's good at...she has the voice and she's well aware from the fact that people like her lunatic outbursts, even if it must be a nightmare for journalists to get her interviewed. The AB-venue was fully packed and this gig was a 2nd chance as some months earlier the gig was cancelled because of some sickness by Anja. One view on the stage said enough about which concert it was going to be : violins, trumpets, and a wingpiano so you could bet your ass that this was going to be something very classical. Before Anja got on stage, the public first could check out who Nils Frahm is. Minimalistic pianosounds that sounded like spring had definitely been come to town...only it will be a quite melancholic spring if Nils will be the creator. And then there was Anja… From the very first second the hypernervous star got on stage, she started to confus the public. Never saw such a person for whom the stage was an uneasy place being to. Would she start laugh or would she burst out into tears? And would this gig ending without her doing something un xpected? Believe me, if there's one artist who can commit suicide on stage it'd be her. Scary eyes, interludes without senses, several times running away from the stage (even if it's all a theatrical act it's still well done) and the biggest selfhumilation man can think of. The music from Soap & Skin is like Nico meeting Aphex Twin (Anja's a big fan of them) as this classical musical is disturbed with noisy electronic soundscapes that could come right out of a set from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sometimes you would throw your arms around her but most of the times she's as creepy as that other piano-diva Diamanda Galas. The show was more than just a freak show even if the versions weren't that much different from those on the album. Most of the songs were heavily dominated by both Anja’s vocals and excellent piano-playing even if it seems at times that the piano is nothing more than some torture tool to her. The contact with the audience were rare, and if she said something, no one could make up what was in her mind anyway. During the encore Anja was skipping away all the doubts by performing a German a cappela song like only Nico could. She wants it herself, but who complains, Nico is reborn. Genius? Disturbed? Copy? Whatever definition you give to Soap & Skin’s music, you always have in your mind that this is something very special.
Nobody likes waking up, but this morning when I had my hot coffee in my hands I had difficulties to believe what's been on Facebook, Alex Chilton died at the age of 59. Alex can without any doubts be named as the godfather of the american powerpopscene. Alex always used to be some minor hero even if I discovered him at a rather strange way. There was of course that track "Alex Chilton" on one of the greatest American indie-albums ever (that's on "Pleased to meet me" by The Replacements). I shouted this track over and over as a 12 year kid (the album by The Replacements was one of the first serious records I ever bought), not knowing who Alex was. It came later when I became a 4-ADfreak and saw that the track by This Mortal Coil "Holocaust" was written by one Alex Chilton. The musicmaniac in me soon found out that Alex both was the man behind The Box Tops and Big Star. The Box Tops, are of course, legendary known for that particular track "The letter" which made Alex a rock 'n rollstar at the age of 16, but it was on Big Star that Alex could develop himself as the genius songwriter he certainly was. Big Star stopped around 1974 and it was only from the early 80's on that Alex became interested again in the musicscene as he got inspired (or is it the other way around?) by tiny bands like REM or The Replacements. Alex became the hero of the powerpopgeneration. All the American powerpopbands declared Alex as one of the few American geniuses and till today Rolling Stone counts 3 albums by Big Star in their 500 greatest albums of all time. On 17th March Alex complained about its health and died a few years later because of a heartattack. RIP dear Alex, I'll never forget you...see you in heaven, friend.
The unsigned flavour of the day comes from Oklahoma this time. Don't know much about her, just saw her My Space-page but one view with the eye says enough that this woman takes every opportunity to play, as it looks like Cady is every on day on stage. Anyway, as she can be seen in the areas of Texas it doesn't make any sense for me but at least we can listen to her music at home. Why do I think Cady is so good? Well, it's the voice.... She makes fragile singer-songwriter indiepop that has the intelligence of say Suzanne Vega, but her delicate voice reminded me so much of Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays that I had to check out if it wasn't Harriet's solo-album by accident. You know I'm joking, this is Cady Groves. A woman who has something to say, something to deliver and she's a proof that not everyone is listening to stupid country in Oklahoma, not that I ever thought this.... Someone to follow I guess. http://www.myspace.com/cadygroves
Last Tuesday was a rather special day for me. It wasn't because of the rather lame indiepop by Lake but when I entered the venue a voice said "Hello Didier" and I immediately recognised the face of Wim Lecluyse. Wim handed me a bag of old Original Sins (when it was on paperform) as my mum incidentally threw them away, but no one can be mad at his mum even if she threw away my lifework. While watching the gig that bag full of zines was on my lap and I became overwhelmed with what people tend to call melancholic feelings. Now who's that Wim? Well, he's the founder of one of the most gentle labels I ever got in touch with. During the whole gig I was thinking of the old days, it made me almost teary, mopester that I am. At the end Wim handed me the latest Morc-release which is a collection of old works from Drekka. When listening at the weird noisescapes I was thinking that it'd be better to write something about Morc Records rather than penning down some review that's been lost after a couple of days. I guess this is my tribute to you, Wim.... The Original Sin is back as some say but not many of you know what this fanzine standed for in those days. It was never important but it was a sort of gathering from people who found it was time that there came an end to the overruling importance of the mainpress. For young people, it's hard to imagine as now rockjournalism is totally dead simply because everyone writes their own reviews and articles on blogs or self created websites. In the 90's it was different. Difficult how to say how I ended up being a fanzinewriter but I knew I was totally amazed by the British press (just honest) and when I saw my first fanzine, a German one, I decided to start one too. It was that different approach which got me into other musical dimensions. There seemed to be many subcultures from unexplored genres and The Original Sin wanted to follow most of them. I remember labels like Mick Magic, Best Kept Secrets, Plastic Pancake Records, Org Records, 25 Records, Abuse records, Bliss Tapes and so many others. What was great about those DIY-labels was that every "owner" of the label released their fave stuff because they were fed up by the fact that all their preferred music stayed unreleased. Many people asked me why I never considered starting something like Original Sin Records, simply because it wasn't my passion. Writing was/is my passion and I'm afraid it's the only thing I'm good at, if I'm good at it... Fanzinewriting also shaped my musical tastes and so it happened that one day I got in touch with Wim from Morc Records. You can lie, you can be honest…I prefer to be honest. Being the musicmaniac I am I was familiar with Brian Eno or someone like Robert Fripp, I even had lots of industrial stuff here at home but I wasn’t aware of bedroom DIY-experimental rock that consist mainly of soundscapes. How can you be aware of that anyway? You never hear it on the radio, the traditional press don’t even consider to write a word about it…it’s simple : if you’re not into the undergroundpress you can’t know this… I even would have been considered as a dummy if I talk with those guys, as all I could say was something like…sounds a bit like Coil or Nocturnal Emissions. I am even not a musician so all these complicated technical datasheets that are coming with such releases were (and still are) Chinese to me…and no I even don’t wanna understand it all. All I wanna do is enjoy it, and just like every “normal” person was something like “What the f**** is that? Is this still music?”. I do consider it now as music but without a label like Morc it would never could happen I think. In all honesty I must say that from the moment I started reviewing industrial stuff (I hope it’s OK if I name this league of music like that even if I do know that it’s not that correct) I got sent a lot of stuff. I can’t tell you how many C90’s (in those days it were tapes, TDK preferred!) I listened to in my life, some of them bored them to death but I decided to become a reviewer and you can only review something if you listen to it even if you don’t like it, I know you don’t have to but then you’re not only fooling yourself, but your readership too and then you’re not worth it writing one letter…. I was lead by other fanzines (“Robots and electronic brains” is one that spring to mind and a label like Morc Records). I remember very well the early days in where Wim was proud to send me his releases, all on tape of course. Just like me, Wim aged too (nah you can’t see it) and if you take a peep on his website it’s rather amazing how many artists that were once on Morc. Anyone who had progressive fanzines in his hands will recognize artists such as Richie Cunningham, Wio, De Portables (legends in their genre), Minmae, Iditarod, The Ordinary Seaman (click further on our interviewsection and you’ll find a full interview with him) Jessica Bailiff or Drekka (very funny that this band landed on Morc because Wim read about them in The Original Sin…I can’t remember but Wim told me that I wrote in my review from Drekka’s tape that it’d be something for his label). I am talking about 10 till 15 years ago, but now we have modernization called the internet….in the early days The Original Sin was even handwritten. If you go to the Morc-website you’ll discover a huge range of mp3 from every artist that was on Morc. It’s damned difficult to pigeonhole Morc as it goes from industrial ambient till bedroomtape-artist (aka the many Daniel Johnstons this world is aware of). And most important of it all…give it a try, no give it several tries… Just like all the other bedroomlabels Morc releases are always joined with a wonderful artwork (when I opened my Drekka-CD I immediately showed my wife the beautiful inner booklet). The hardest thing about Morc was reviewing them though…. It was always a pleasure to listen to Wim's releases but the hardest thing in the world was to review them, especially as I always want to write in my own way...from the moment that I write like I'm adding some dull booknotes, please inform and I'll shut up immediately. Morc Records worked like some filter in the experimental/bedroom scene. (I’m not pretending Morc was the sole label, but this article is about Morc). So I guess Wim must be the owner of tons of tapes that's been sent from all over the world, but he's the kind of guy who has the perfect ear to filter the stuff...it's like you're getting the cream of the crop from the experimental bedroomscene. Check out http://www.morctapes.com/
Oh how funny we are… You hear a new band called Cancel The Astronauts and you shout it out that they’re as good as The Yummy Fur and then you discover that they never have heard from them. I guess it’s the curse of the pigeonholing ghost in me, but how do I have to explain you how an unsigned band are sounding like? That’s also a curse… But no wait, these lads from Edinburgh found something. They put their EP “I’m the president of your fanclub” for free on the net, so you can decide yourself. If you care about intelligent indiepop (whatever that might be) you already should be on their My Space-page and having the EP launched in your bedroom, something like an astronaut would do…. I was always proud of my vivid imagination, but this is now about the imagination from some talented guys….
HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELVES AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC THEN?
M: Hello. We are Cancel the Astronauts and we are a pop band from Edinburgh, although we are slowly getting less pop, and a bit more ‘indie’, whatever that means.
K: Slightly sinister synthy-indie guitar-pop. Is what I’m saying.
LET’S START WITH A VERY STUPID QUESTION….WHY NAME YOURSELF CANCEL THE ASTRONAUTS?
M: No no, that’s a very good question. Our old bass player used to want to be an astronaut, when he was little, but he wasn’t able to become one because of his short-sightedness. Also, The United Kingdom has a rather limited space program. He is now a deep-sea diver for a large oil company, and he repairs rigs in the North Sea. I think that’s pretty close to being an astronaut. After all, being underwater is sort of like being in space, and it doesn’t matter if you’re short-sighted, because it’s very blurry. He used to get very animated whenever space was talked about, and would shout “Cancel the Astronauts!” at the wireless when space missions where mentioned on Radio 2. We liked it and kept it.
K: That answer contained so many facts it’s almost unbelievable.
I REVIEWED YOU AS A MIXTURE FROM THE YUMMY FUR AND HEFNER, CAN YOU LIVE WITH THAT?
M: You know, I’ve never listened to Hefner. Are they any good? I’ve never even heard of Yummy Fur. Makes me think of sugared kittens. I would describe us as ‘the disco Smiths’, but that’s a dream rather than reality. My favourite bands are The Lightning Seeds, The Divine Comedy, Pulp and other Brit-pop classicists, and I suppose we sound a bit like them all. We’re getting a bit less poppy though now.
K: Our bass player, Neil, likes Hefner. He had one of their albums on cassette lying in his car, before he sold it. The car, that is. Doubt the cassette was worth much; it looked like it was taped off the radio. M: Cassette’s are very old. That shows how old our bassist is. Our bassist is old. K: Indeed. We never listened to it though ‘cos he had Alan Partridge off the radio as well, but, through the wonders of modern computers, I’m listening to Hefner now. They’re really good. I can live with it. I have to admit I’m not cool enough to have heard or even heard of The Yummy Fur.
Neil: I am very old.
WE CAN STATE THAT YOU’RE ANOTHER BAND FROM EDINBURGH AND I SAY THAT WITH A HUGE RESPECT…BUT EXCELLENT INDIEPOP AND EDINBURGH SEEMS TO GO HAND IN HAND. WHY IS THAT YOU THINK?
M: There are indeed some fantastic indiepop bands in and around Edinburgh at the moment. I’m thinking of Come on Gang! and Kid Canaveral in particular. Both fantastic pop acts. It’s a bit disingenuous to call us all Edinburgh bands though. Come on Gang! formed in Edinburgh but none of them are Scottish; some of Kid Canaveral are from Fife, I think, and none of us are from Edinburgh. It’s inevitable I suppose that bands that form somewhere get called a band from that place though, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it all. It’s a big city, so it’s bound to have lots of bands, and people will gravitate towards it. Particularly now, as there is such a vibrant music scene in the capital (and Scotland as a whole really) at the moment. There’s a good DIT (Do It Together) spirit in the city (to steal a phrase from Withered Hand I think) and a great deal of self confidence among music makers here, so that’s probably why Edinburgh produces do much great music.
THERE ARE TIMES OVER HERE THAT THEY PUT SOMETHING IN THE WATER FROM EDINBURGH…..OR NOT??????
M: If they’re putting anything in the water then I’d like to know about it. It might be whisky. But I’d prefer some milk.
YOUR GREAT EP “I’M THE PRESIDENT OF YOUR FANCLUB” HAS BEEN RELEASED AS A FREE DOWNLOAD. WHY?
M: Well, we’ve sold/given away/used as coasters all the physical copies we had, it’s been out for a while, and we’ve got a new EP coming out in the next two months or so. It felt like a good way to get a bit more exposure. People like free things. It’s been downloaded a lot for free off Bandcamp, so it’s working, which is nice. At our level, it’s more important that people hear the music rather than we make a bit of money. We’ve all got jobs, so we don’t need the cash, and the amount we’re talking about it so small as to be almost insignificant.
K: I might be talking out the top of my hat here, but I think we’ve ‘sold’ round about the same number of free downloads of the EP in the last week or so than we have in the last year of having it on itunes. It’s certainly not far off.
M: That’s a nice hat.
MOST OF THE TIMES, FREE DOWNLOADS AREN’T WORTH INTERESTING TO HEAR AT ALL, BUT YOUR EP IS A GREAT EXCEPTION. AREN’T YOU AFRAID THAT IT WILL LOST ITS WORTH JUST BECAUSE IT IS A FREE DOWNLOAD?
M: That was actually something that we discussed. We were slightly worried that, as you say, giving away the music might somehow demean it, or make it valueless. But then who’s to say that 79p for a track off iTunes, or five pounds for a CD is a fair reflection of the music’s value? I think the worth of a song or an album is really measured by how many people want it, and how many people keep wanting it. Giving it away for free is just a method of getting it out to the widest possible audience. I consider it an investment for the future; someone who gets it for free today might become a fan for life, and that sort of relationship is worth much more to us (I don’t just mean monetary worth) than a couple of pounds. Our music is good, and no amount of money will change that.
K: It’s a difficult one to be sure, and I can see the logic to both sides, but I suppose it depends on a given bands’ situation -- for us, I suppose, a song that no one has downloaded or listened to has less worth than a song that was downloaded for free and listened to once or twice or, perhaps, just maybe, played all the time and -- who knows? -- possibly even loved. And, as Matty says, we’re making bum all money either way. Hurrah!
M: What sort of hat is it?
IN FACT, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AS IT IS TODAY?
M: I don’t have much of an opinion on it really. We don’t feel like part of the industry because we’re not part of it. Certainly there’s an awful lot of rubbish out there, probably because it’s safe for labels to spend money on music that they know will sell, regardless of its artistic value. At the same time, it’s economically viable now for bands to record and release their own music. We recorded our first EP for free because Chris, our drummer, has all the necessary technology. It cost less than £500 to have 500 copies of the CD made. Hence the glut of self released singles and albums, and the explosion the number of truly independent record labels over the passed few years.
K: … which is really exciting, I think. Nuts to music industry! That’s what I say! Also, the hat is a trilby.
HOW DIFFICULT IT MIGHT BE TO ANSWER….WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR MUSIC?
M: I’d like to be able to quit my job and be a full-time musician. I could do that now of course, but I hope there will come a point where we’d need to do that to really progress as a band. Having said that we’re not part of the established music industry, I would still very much like to be part of it. I think being signed to a major label, or a successful independent label, is really the only way to make a life out of it. Perhaps I’m wrong though.
K: I would like to take this moment to apologise to the music industry for my earlier comment. Sorry.
M: Where could I get a hat like that?
CONFESS US SOMETHING….WHAT’S THE MOST ROCK ‘N ROLL-THING YOU DID IN YOUR LIFE?
K: Looked up regicide.
LAST QUESTIONS ARE QUESTIONS I ALWAYS ASK, I CALL IT THE TRADITIONAL ORIGINAL SIN-QUESTIONS… WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND WHY?
M: Right now it’s Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit. The honesty, emotion, energy and beauty of that record almost literally makes my heart skip a beat every time I play it. My favourite band is The Smiths, but my favourite albums are Different Class by Pulp and Midnight Organ Fight.
K: Probably OK Computer for me, boringly enough. But I am partial to The Midnight Organ Fight too. And Mend by De Rosa. And Rounds by Four Tet. And A Brighter Beat by Malcolm Middleton. And Asleep In The Back by Elbow. And Silent Alarm by Bloc Party. And… I’ll stop now. You could get a hat like this in almost any hat shop.
WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
M: Cheryl Tweedy. I would have lots of sex with her. 8 hours worth in fact.
K: Oh dear.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM CANCEL THE ASTRONAUTS IN THE FUTURE?
M: We are close to the verge of almost imminently nearly finishing our next EP, called ‘Funny For a Girl’. I’ll send you a copy. We have already started writing an album, which is sounding fantastic. The album will be less pop I think. Less immediate, but a bit more sophisticated and interesting. I’m very excited about it because I think it will deserve to do very well indeed. That won’t be out until next year though.
DO YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING SPECIAL TO OUR READERS?
M: Download our last EP, buy our next one, listen to Pulp and Frightened Rabbit, and try not to get stuck in a lift with me.
I remember very well the 90's when you had your US and UK-indie and then there was that little nymph called Bjork who was special just because she came from those northern countries. Sigur Ros changed a bit more the landscape, but today in 2010 it looks like all Scandanavian countries have a wide range of alternative superstars who are all doing their thing, from ABBA-pop to the weirdest noisecapesounds you can think of. Under Byen who are from Denmark are balancing between the two. There's the ethereal poppy voice from diva Henriette Sennenvaldt that is floating on minimalistic and arty noises. It's like they have thought about every sound a million times beforing adding it, and because of that, it certainly doesn't make "Alt Er Tabt" (which means "All is lost") an easy album. There's surely the voice from Henriette which is the main attraction of the band, and I am almost blushing for saying it...but she sounds a bit like Bjork. The album's quite varied, and from the moment you are considering to push the stop-button as it's a bit too mellow you're fronted by the beauty of the music. It's certainly not the kind of music I would like to hear all day (I guess I'm too much rock 'n roll for that) but denying that this is a beautiful album would be a crime, and as I'm the most peaceful person I can think of...
Which band can we include this time? I know you can fill up this blog with 10.000 bands and at the end of the day there's still some endless list on the table from other bands that has to be include as well. So why not a shoegazeband this time? And why not a shoegazeband from the States and even a shoegazeband from the 90's? Their name is Ether Aura and I'm pretty sure it won't be that easy to find a soulmate who knows them as well. And yet, Ether Aura released two albums ("Crash" and "Before we could sing"). The reason why I like them so much is because they're like a copy from Curve. This time, I'm quite convinced that there are readers around who know who Curve are. But, admit it, shoegazefans can easily come up with tons of bands that are sounding like Cocteau Twins or Slowdive, but a band who is sounding similar to Curve...you won't find them that easily!!! And I mean really similar...nope,...bursted my brains but I can only think of Ether Aura. Is it a shame to sound as Curve? Let me tell you, if I were in a band and they said that I was sounding like Curve, I'll send you a bucket of kisses...naaaah, would not!!! http://www.myspace.com/etheraura
In my opinion, both K Records and Kill Rock Stars are the most important DIY-labels with a wider range even if their highdays are a bit over. Anyway, when a band signed on K Records comes to my hometown then there can't be any reason not being there, and so it happened I landed once again in the Video-venue to see Lake. (the reason why I didn't see Karlblau who produced their first album was because I was sick as a dog). Lake are from Olympia and they are the kind of band who are open for any improvisations as long as the music is poppy. Don't expect from them long soundscapes as everything's packed in three minute popsongs. The venue was quite packed but despite my huge respect for this venue who seems to be the leader in organising gigs from small indiebands here in Gent, they should do something about the public who keep on talking during the gigs. Big question of course is if the venue owner is responsible for the idiot behaviour of its visitors. During the fight to obtain the attention of the audience, Lake played a nice set that featured gentle indiepopstuff, even if there were times that they came in dangerous areas which are known as AOR. At the end I told Wim Lecluyse, founder of Morc Records, that to me they were like some funky lo-fiversion from Fleetwood Mac and I didn't get any beer throw at me so I guess I might be right...a bit. There were even times that my ears heard some Durutti Column-ish guitars so that can never be a bad thing. Lake do nothing new, you heard it more than once before, but they didn't bore me either which can't be said from these talking tongues around me. Shut up next time or go to another place.