0n the rodent
Hmm. The stereo‘s just broken down. Haven’t heard a Field Mice record before. Due to speak to vocalist Bobby Wratton imminently. This is a problem.
Or is it? The band name: The Field Mice — bound to be small, cute, harmless. The record company: Sarah — well. that’s it, QED , the Bristol label being as it is the archetypal ﬂuffy. nicey nice, softly softly label. Hey, we‘ve got The Field Mice tagged.
‘Yeah, that’s definitely something we‘ve had to put up with in the past,’ Bobby nods ruefully. ‘But we got a review for “Missing The Moon" (the South London band‘s September-released EP) that said something like, “Forget all your preconceptions about The Field Mice.“ It’s not like 086 or anything.’
So what do this band sound like? Is it a fey and bowl haircut-ed thing? A pastoral, Joni Mitchell-esque folky vibe? An incremental, vaguely dancey feel, as typified by the St Etienne-covered ‘Let‘s Kiss And Make Up‘ and. apparently, the nearly-was acid trip of ‘Missing The Moon‘? All of these, it would seem, and less . . .
‘It’s quite varied,’ says Bobby all-encompassingly. ‘It gets described as quite jangly, and there’s acoustic stuff, quite stripped down. It’s really across the board.‘
For further, um, illumination, The Field Mice have made things easy. In August, they released Coastal, a compilation covering all the band’s singles since their debut EP three years ago. Then there was last month’s For Keeps, the first full-length LP prOper, plus the aforesaid ‘Missing The Moon’, which came out between these two but features on neither. Confused? You shouldn’t be. This is VFM, Field Mice style.
‘We’ve never liked the idea of putting singles on albums. When you buy something it should be all new songs. There’s no point in releasing records twice - and that’s just common sense to us.‘ (Craig McLean)
The Field Mice play Potterrow, Edinburgh on Fri 15 and King Tut’s, LGlasgow on Sat 16.
Off the scale
Approximately two minutes Into a conversation with Lesley, the aggressive bundle of bile from Livingston who fronts Camden’s leading thrash-punk quirkout gurus Silverfish, and she‘s doing her level best to enforce the coarse stereotype that spawned the ‘fat Axl Rose’ comparison that in turn spawned the title of the group’s first album. Asked lnnocuously for a possible theory on why Silverfish have risen head and shoulders above their closest contemporaries, she ruminates, “Fuck, ldon't know. Maybe because we drink a lot of beer. 0r cos we fart louder, how about that?’
Not to dwell on the subject for too long, but alcohol would seem to have a pivotal role in the Silverfish experience. For starters, fountains of the stuff feature heavily at their gigs, usually being sprayed at high velocity in the general direction of the stage. And the ‘Camden Lurch‘ scene — one of life’s more inspired fabrications, of which Silverfish are regarded as godparents — takes as its only tangible lead the fact that ‘a load of people go and get drunk in the same pub'.
But the band’s appeal is more than lager-deep. It would have to be if their recent placing in the mainstream chart (‘Big Bad Baby Pig Squeal’ — in with a bullet at number 97!) is to be credited. Lesley may be unable to fathom the reason for their popularity, but it’s
Scottish jazz fans have grown used to hearing Eberhard Weber in the company of Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, but his latest visit to these parts is in a quartet he co-leads with guitarist Gary Boyle. Weber remains among the handful of leading exponents of a distinctive European jazz style, and has done much to turn around our expectations of what a bass player can and cannot do.
Weber’s breakthrough came with the release of the beautifully-crafted album ‘The Colours of Chloe' on ECM in 1973, and he has gone onto be a crucial participant in the forging of a jazz style which owes something to the American model, but is not held in thrall to it.
‘Well, lam a European musician, and I want to play in that style, but it wasn’t
: care of that, and be careful not to lose
staring her in the face every time she looks in the mirror. Guitarist Fuzz is in no doubt about her importance: ‘She’d make a difference to almost any hand she was in.’
But isn’t her portrayal as a hard wee lassie with a vocabulary chock-full of expletives wearing a bit thin? Isn’t there a genteel little girly striving to break out of that unflinching exterior? ‘There is sometimes. Everybody's got two sides to them and I do wear frocks and lipstick and stuff like that,’ she drawls with a total lack of irony, ‘but also if somebody annoys me I’m going to kick them in the lace.’ (Fiona Shepherd)
Silverfish play the Venue, Edinburgh on Sun 10 and the Mayfair, Glasgow on Mon 11.
allowed for many years in Europe. It always had to be jazz, or bebop, with everyone always trying to copy the Americans, and play in an American way. Eventually, though, people suddenly opened their ears, and realised there was another way of playing, and I think we have to take
He has the distinction of establishing the bass as a viable instrument not simply for soloing within a band, but for playing solo concerts, albeit augmented with technical effects, which he always explains to the audience so as not to exclude them from what is going on. Even solo, though, his concern with structure and with complex and pleasing textural l effects is always paramount.
His collaboration with Gary Boyle is an unknown quantity, but an intriguing * one. The two musicians last played together with German pianist Wolfgang Daunertwenty years ago, at a time when Boyle was best-known for his work with Mike Gibbs and Mike Westbrook, and for his influential jazz-funk band, Isotope. It has taken them a long time to repeat the experiment, but it should be worth the wait. (Kenny Mathieson)
Eberhard Weber and Gary Boyle play Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Thurs 21 and the Queen‘s Hall, Edinburgh on Sat23.
* r I - 'A’C' . .‘ ’2. 1 ,. . k ' . ..
A lasting relationship with the old French colonies has seen Paris emerge as a world centre for African music. A network of studios. record companies and African musicians has given Paris a dominant position in a new stream of popular music emerging from African roots. Affordable studio technology and cheap cassette costs mean that modern Africa now listens to hi-tech variations on older styles. Smoothly produced soukous, zouk and makossa pound out in the former live venues— now discos — in Nairobi and Kampala. East African music is quite distinct from the hereditary Malian griots playing the mesmerising harp-like kora, or from roots-of—the-blues singers like Ali Farka Toure.
A star group which stands out against the tide arrives in Edinburgh next week. Eschewing keyboards for real instruments, Virunga play beautifully melodic. punchy dance hall music. fronted by singer/leader Samba Mapangala. in a rich style which merges his own native Zairean rumba with Kenyan benga.
After years of touringa band in Zaire and Uganda, Samba based himselfin Kenya, putting Virunga together at the beginning ofthe 80s. and in Nairobi recording their much loved and lauded Mala/<0 album. The band sound remains essentially the same, Samba singing
in Lingala or Swahili, his
adopted tongue, over a background of choppy
rhythm guitar. emphatic 5 percussion. elastic bass
lines and sweet horns and harmony and guitar. Heartbeat World Music end their season at the Assembly Rooms with this concert, which will. I‘m sure. find few people sitting down. The band‘s colourful stage gear. and years of playing to dance-crazy Kenyan audiences, guarantee a party. Not for nothing is the group named after a volcano. (Norman Chalmers) Samba Mapangala and Orchestre Virunga play the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh on Thurs l4.
32 The List 8 - 21 November 1991