• [Article 3346]Frankétienne and Mark Mulholland – Chaophonies

    chaophoniesIt’s all about the tannins, apparently.  Those cheeky little biomolecules that bob about in red wine that combine with certain foodstuffs to make everything that much tastier, or so I’m led to believe.  I don’t see why this shouldn’t be the case with music either – we are more emotionally susceptible when we’ve had a couple, we’re really good at darts when the optimum blood-alcohol level is achieved (although when exceeded, we revert once more.  And it’s a very small margin), and different beverages combined with different stimuli provoke different moods.  Or at least it does with me.

    It may well be a synaesthesia thing, but I can say without any deviation of certainty that this is a Red Wine Album.  I know this not because I’d started the wine before the record, but because about 30 seconds into said record, my tastebuds went somewhat, and very specifically, mad so I had to stop, fetch a glass or two, and start over.

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  • [Article 3338]Afterhours – Hai Paura Del Buio?

    haiThere’s nothing quite like a band who choose their name wisely.  The two times I’ve seen Italian band Afterhours perform, it’s been a rather late affair.  Which turned out to be a bit of a bugger as both of these times were in places 200 miles from where I lived and on one occasion (a February!) I ended up trying to sleep on a bench outside Euston Station as I’d missed my train.  Whoops.

    Another thing about Afterhours is that they’ve never been afraid to experiment, and as such spent much of their time several years ahead of their peers.  This is a rather handy aspect, as this re-released (with surprises!) album from 1997 seems as fresh as if it had appeared just last week.

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  • [Article 3310]Joe Delia – Ms. 45 Soundtrack

    ms.45Many moons ago, I once went to the pub dressed as a nun.  This was done because

    1. It was Halloween;
    2. It was also a Saturday;
    3. I assumed that, because of points 1 and 2, everyone else would have made some sort of effort; and
    4. Due to me deciding to do this rather late, it was all they had left in the shop.

    Imagine my surprise when I swanned (nunned?) into said establishment only to discover that nobody else had bothered.  Worse than that, everyone else then decided we were all going to go to the local Student’s Union bar, where nobody else had bothered either.  I wish that I could say that I learned a valuable lesson from this, but I didn’t.

    I mention all this because this is a soundtrack to a film that I know nothing about other than the cover (which is a stunner, courtesy of Alice X. Zhang) features the titular heroine in similar garb, and that set me of reminiscing.  It also helps that the actual vinyl arrived similarly nun-coloured, which is always a bit of a treat.

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  • [Article 3294]Death Vessel – Island Intervals

    intervalsThis is something that I’ve mentioned this on these pages before in a variously-veiled fashion, but it’s something that’s worth repeating: silence is a great measure of really good music.  To be more specific: it’s that heavy, booming silence after something’s finished that makes its presence felt in such a way that it’s an indication that the preceding sounds were so good that a vacuum has been left in their wake.  And, weirdly, that vacuum can be just as enjoyable as what went before; sure, you can just put the thing straight back on again and relive it all over again, but sometimes it’s more pleasurable to just sit in the silence without thinking too hard about anything and just nestle in the aural afterglow of something  a bit special.  And, after all that, it should come as little surprise that this is one of those records.

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  • [Article 3296]Singles Night

    Yes, it's the same photo as last time.  I'm tired.

    Well, crikey.  This is the second of these, which technically makes it a series or something.  Woo.  It’s something I should make more of an effort with though as I am very fond of singles, relegated as they largely are to novelty items instead of the towering make-or-break powerhouses they once were.  And now that the UK charts are going to factor in streaming media when compiling the charts, these little chunks of music are under even greater threat than ever.  Pretty soon if we’re not careful, Record Store Day will be the only place that we will be able to purchase singles in graspable form, and we all know how bloody expensive that gets…

    It’s not all doom and gloom though as the below doingses illustrate – and I’m happy to report that I am having to be on the lookout for another 7″ box because mine is full to overflowing (and there’s nothing at all funny about that statement), so there’s plenty of people still willing to give it a bit of a go.  And it has to be said there’s more than a couple of digital noteables as well out there.


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  • [Article 3299]The Night Terrors – Spiral Vortex

    spiralDue to an especially harsh set of criteria set by yours truly, one of my favourite records of last year didn’t make it onto my Top 50 list – The Night Terrors’ Back To Zero was indeed released last year, but was a remastered vinyl reissue of an album that first surfaced in 2009 on CD.  Last year was the first time I heard it, and it blew me away, in the way that only Australian Theremin-led noisy prog instrumentals can.  And as I used up all my Theremin facts in my review of that particular gem, I shall have to find a new handle on this new record.  Which turned out to be easier than I thought, given that the whole of this one is geared towards placing a very specific form of dread in the mind of the listener.

    Well, it scared the bejaysus out of me anyway.

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  • [Article 3292]The Eccentronic Research Council – Magpie Billy and the Egg that Yolked

    ercThe North of England is a curious place.  Mostly because, depending on who you speak to, the point where it begins isn’t fixed.  Traditionally, the border is marked by the Watford Gap.  In reality, it’s somewhere around the southernmost point of a Northern Englishperson’s garden.  We are a very polar breed, and we are mighty proud of this – although to be fair, we are proud of most things.

    This geographical uncertainly has its advantages however, as it means that pretty much anyone can be northern should they wish to be, wherever they are.  All it requires is a sense of humour, a love of all things rainy and the knowledge that anyone stood directly south of oneself at any given time is to be immediately pitied.  The Eccentronic Research Council have not only bottled this essence, but have also released it among the greater populace with this warm-hearted record.

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  • [Article 3277]obe – Partners

    partnersThis writing malarkey’s tricky.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m hampered by being crap at it.  I generally try to find an “in” to something and then expand on that, sometimes to distressing and ridiculous degrees.  And if I can’t find that, then I then put the keyboard to one side and just sit and listen instead because there’s no point in me blathering on about stuff when I can’t be personal about it, no matter how silly or sad that personal angle might get.  It’s not wholly inaccurate to say here that I’ve bought a fair few records this year and not many of them have been “writey” records, much as I really like them.  Sometimes though, something comes along so unexpected and so good that the force of will required to sit me down in front of a screen for an hour becomes too strong to resist, and the “in” quite literally turned out to have been staring me in the face the whole time…

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  • [Article 3267]Sleepy Sun – Maui Tears

    ssunAs vinyl becomes more and more popular among people who want something a bit more three-dimensional in life, it’s probably inevitable that little hiccups happen along the line.  At the moment, I’m waiting for three things to be released, all delayed because of production issues.  The explosion in demand in recent years hasn’t been met by an increase in production facilities, and with more labels wanting to use the services of those who thankfully didn’t scrap all their machinery to make room for computer storage, the queues are getting longer – especially now in this run-up to Record Store Day when more people than ever will be champing at the bit to get their goods  done and ready in time to meet the demand from eBay Flippers fans waiting outside stores all night.

    But hey, this is all about personality and passion, not punctuality.  I’d rather something was late and wonderful than on time and  rushed.  Like films whose release dates are timed, set in stone and hyped months in advance to maximise the market and then are bodged together at the end after a series of unforseen delays, records need to be finished and prepared so that whenever they appear, the time is right for them to be there.  And until someone either finds a stash of forgotten pressing machinery in a shed somewhere or has the bright idea (and cash) to make some new industrial equipment, we’re stuck with waits and apologies – and in this case, some digital files while we wait.  Thanks for that!

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  • [Article 3270]Music & Mental Health

    Just a quick break in proceedings (thanks to the current vagaries of an overstretched and underpopulated vinyl-pressing industry) to mention that I wrote a short thing for another music site recently, and they were very kind enough to publish my thoughts.

    The very nice people at Echoes and Dust are currently running a series promoting the discussion of Mental Health and Music, as the two are rather inextricably linked in a variety of complicated manners.  My piece concerns how, just as listening to beautiful and inspiring music can send the spirit upwards, listening to troubled music or musicians (and there’s a lot of them, especially in this house) can both cause and soothe my own troubled times.  It’s complicated, it does look as though sometimes I push myself into dark corners where I’m going to suffer somewhat (because I do), but it does make an odd sort of sense to me and even getting those notions and explanations out of my head and onto the screen brightened the fog I was experiencing that evening.

    Anyway, it’s there if you wish to read it by (in theory, not tried it yet) clicking the image below.  Thanks to Hannah and everyone else at Echoes and Dust for the opportunity.  And, as it’s a related thing, the Mark Linkous/Sparklehorse tribute Last Box Of Sparklers, raising money for Mental Health charities, is currently at the Mastering stage so should be available soon.