Alastair Mabbott wears out his tape heads with the latest demos.
Reverend Snakehips Country Messiahs were the hirsute residents of the Nashville Babylon country-rock cltrb in Nice 'n' Sleazy and now they're presenting Brothers & Sisters. :1 monthly club devoted to ‘truly spiritual sounds from '68—‘74'. The ivlessiahs‘ themselves swagger through three tracks here. reﬂecting a btrnch of influences from Stones through (‘rowes to Skynyrd. This is lovingly- played southern rock. and all indications are that they'd be the business alter a few .lack Daniel's. Probably a good idea to catch them while they ’re still playing places like Sleazys
The Stones seem to have left their mark on The Golden Hour too. bill in the context (ll. (ills linglish Rtyli. Their well— produced (though it doesn't say where or by whom) demo is bit/ling with energy. contidence and competence. and it‘s guitar-pop of a kind that chimes resonndingly with the retro tastes of the
Britpop wave. It's the same on both sides too. for heavy Walkman rotation. The chances ot‘ The Golden Hour getting noticed are surely high. as they could till the support slots for a wide range of currently-hot bands.
Mystery Juice besmirch their three-track tape rather with a crushingly l old-hat pop~tunk workout ' at the end. btrt they 've managed to retain a caustic edge on their brew of funk. l'olk. pop and reggae. partly because one i candime make otrt Lou Reed and Lawrence Out Of l-‘elt And Denim lurking in the background.
Over in the hardcore corner. meanwhile.
excoriate the powers-that- be and their control over the media. our working lives and existence itsell‘. Basic but bracing.
The Julia Set. aka 3t)- year-old ‘ex-music lecturer. now completely pissed-oil computer programmer" (‘hris Scudds. purvy instrumental dance tracks — or dance-inlluenced instrumentals might be a better way of putting it. Scudds is launching his music out into a post- trance. post-ambient world. btrt leading track. ‘Stormwatch'. has the chunky. l'ornial structuring once associated with tracks like 808 State's anthemic ‘l’acil'ic State'. Accomplished stuff. and with potential for dancet‘loor or home
mam— ; Graic, it’s the w real thing
! Glasgow’s and Edinburgh’s Irish theme I pubs will all be overflowing with
( Guinness, Murphy’s, ‘crack’ and music i on St Patrick’s flight, but to be honest, if you really want to hear something
1 special there’s one concert you can’t
From Cork, Nomos; from London, Sin E (pronounced shin ay), two of the i brightest new bands emerging from 1 Irish music worldwide. Nomos are a five-man outfit who l came together out of the Michael 0’ Suilleabhain tenure as Music Prof at ( Cork University, where a bold and
enlightened attitude to traditional song and instrumentation has enriched the nation’s musical life, and encouraged many fine players to settle in the area. Among them is this all-male fivesome who sport a distinctive singer and play fast, spirited and accurate virtuoso reels and dance music based round concertina fiddle and bodhran.
Uillean piper and bodhran player with Lammas and the Band of Hope, Stephan Ilannigan is an energetic London-based Irishman who formed Sin E (loosely translated from Irish Gaelic as ‘That’s It’) as an ideal band, and admits now being happy having ‘renounced my leadership. I brought everyone together, but they’re all such excellent musicians, with their own ideas, that it’s now our band.’
With all-Ireland champion piper and fiddler, James O’Grady, Mike Cosgrove’s keyboards, guitar and bouzouki, and the exotic vocal abilities of Taz (short for Tamsin
1 Alexander) who also handles bodhran and guitar, the band are not short on
talent, or, as their first album on Rhiannon shows, imagination. Stephan feels that the band still has a long way to go. ‘Everyone has a different input. Taz loves ambient stuff, she used to be in the Big Geraniums. And Teresa [Ileanue] is amazing. She’s a big discovery. She’s second generation London Irish. She’s young, talented, she writes tunes . . . I’ve got the accent, but she’s got the talent.’ (IIorman Chalmers) Mamas and Sin E play Edinburgh’s
Assemny Booms on Sun 17.
g CONTEMPORARY r
Think of a late 20th century composer who lives and works on a Scottish island and the chances are that the name which comes to mind will be Peter Maxwell Davies. But apart from Max in Orkney, there is the lesser known — and somewhat younger — Piers Hellawell who has chosen Harris as his current base and whose
Memorial Cairns is given its Scottish
premiere in Glasgow. Originally
commissioned forthe Ulster Orchestra
Sinfonia, Memorial Cairns explains Hellawell, ‘is written for the string
section of the orchestra — the five voices of first and second violins, violas, cellos and basses — rather than for individual players, with a few bars for solo strings, as in a concerto grosso, in the middle.’
This is different from the work which Hellawell had just completed as we spoke, Sound Carvings From The Water’s Edge, which the BT Scottish Ensemble will premiere in Stornoway in late May as part of the first Highland Festival. ‘It’s also for strings,’ says Hellawell, ‘but quite different in that it’s for eleven solo players, rather than an orchestral section.’ Both pieces, however, are connected in that their background is rooted in Harris and Memorial Cairns
“Mlle . 4y- - » -
Hellawell tn the Illghlands
is, says its composer, ‘one of my most explicitly island pieces as tar as Harris is concerned. The cairns are a couple of hours walk behind where I am now, a strange collection of twenty or so cairns on the shoulder of the South Harris hills. Very weird. They’re not burial cairns, but eerie sentinels erected by burial processions making their way over to the west coast of the island.’
Written in 1992, the piece is also a personal commemoration of unsung victims of the holocausts of the Far East earlier this century. More will be revealed at the concert when the composer takes part in an in-concert talk with conductor Martyn Brabbins. (Carol Main)
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra perform at BBC Broadcasting House, Glasgow on Wed 13 Mar.
Ketchup if you can
The world couldn’t be better prepared for Stereolab at any time
other than now, argues Alastair Mabbott.
Only a rnusicological pedant would refer to Bessie Smith and Robert Johnson as ‘race music' these days. But it looks as though no word will ever emerge to replace that blunt and oh-so- slightly xenophobic old term ‘Krautrock'. In any case. the word. and the music. is enjoying a new lease of life. Credit is due to Julian Cope‘s lovingly-researched K muIrm'ksampler. but that book is just the ﬂag poking from the summit of a mountain of activity.
Everything comes back round again. But what you can't predict is when. and what else will be hip at the same time. And so it is that a bizarre conﬂuence has brought renewed populan’ty to both Krautrock and easy listening — meaning that Stereolab are the group in the right place at the perfect time. Their last LP. Mars Ara/[ac Quintet. entered the chart.s at Number 16. so we‘re not talking insigniﬁcant cult band here. There's even a new album out from Faust. their ﬁrst in twenty years. so something must be up.
Tim Gone and Parisian Laetitia Sadier
35 The List 8-21 Mar [996