ROCK High Llamas
Glasgow: Cathouse, Tue 4; Edinburgh: Venue, Wed 4 Feb.
Having skilfully evaded attempts to corner them in the ’loungecore’ market, The High Llamas have returned with another album which, in the illustrious tradition of its predecessors, Gideon Gaye and Hawaii, winds its way dreamin through the Brian Wilson-esque pastures which so many aspire to but only the High Llama himself, Sean O'Hagan, can really evoke.
Although it’s full of sounds processed electronically in a similar way to his friends Stereolab, Cold And Bouncy has turned out to be nothing like as extreme as O'Hagan originally intended it to be.
'I didn’t want to lose our grasp on melody and harmony,’ he says. ’That's our starting point. I start at the piano or a gut-string acoustic guitar, I write snippets, chords, some stuff in the song style, we take that into the studio and then we move from centre into left field. And what I wanted to do was undermine that process in the studio. We went so far with it, but I kind of chickened out at the last moment. It’s basically a harmonic record that addresses electronica rather than the other way around.’
Where did it come from, one wonders, O’Hagan’s apparent
compulsion to pop pretty tunes into the blender with electronic noises? ‘My two loves are melody and avant- garde music,’ he answers. ‘It's just the compulsion to make them work together. It’s a lifelong lost cause, probably. I don’t believe that our role is to facilitate the status quo. I think it’s to try and move it along and
The High Llamas’ sound is so beguiling in the first place, and O’Hagan has such an obvious grasp of melody, surely he could assure their future by writing them a few hits. The tunemeister, however, thinks not.
High Llamas: sentenced to a life of melodies
‘I think if you're going to do that, the moment you sit down to do it it doesn’t happen,’ he says. ’I really do believe that instinct does take over. My very definition is, well, I think everybody should listen to what we do. And if I were to write a hit — what would be considered a hit now - it would have to have a lot of guitars, it
would have to have harmonies derived from The
Beatles and it would have to be much more obvious than what we do. Therefore I wouldn't be writing to my strengths, and I wouldn’t like to do that.’ (Alastair
Earl Brutus: strangely devoid of modelling work offers
Earl Brutus Glasgow: Cathouse, Thu 29. Tip for band struggling over name for latest three and a half minute creation. You could do no worse than take a leaf out of the Earl Brutus book of tune- monikering. The more off the wall, bolder and downright bonkers the better - ’Teenage Head’, 'Come Taste My Mind' and ’SAS And The Glam That Goes With It' are but a sample of the quartet’s offerings.
'My favourite one is "Nice Man In A
52 THE LIST 23 Jan-S Feb I998
Bubble" which is a b-side, not a proper song,’ offers vocalist Nick Sanderson, helpfully. 'I just imagined a nice man floating around in a bubble, thought it would be nice and then sang about it. Thinking Of titles is my favourite thing, you can do whatever you want. Though you do get some shit ones that you regret.’
Pop's heavyweights have clearly had few regrets in attaching themselves to Earl Brutus, with the likes of Steve Lamacq and St Etienne’s Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley havmg helped the
band’s rise. And on their upcoming album, prowsionally titled Tonight You Are The Special One, ex-Soft Celler Dave Ball and Mary Chainer William Reid are getting in on the party.
‘l've known William for ages,’ anecdotalises Sanderson. 'I used to play drums for the Mary Chain, in my spare time. He’s a great big bear of a man. BaSIcally, they're Just two more like-minded people. I like their View of music, they're not precious about anything, jUSl dead open, you know.’
A well as continumg their assault on the nation’s ears and hearts With their ballsy glam-tinged hot waxings, Earl Brutus are happy to frolic in their current obsession With the hot rubber of Formula One, inspired by a filmed racmg crash. 'It was Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques’s dad, in this terrible fucking aCCident which is actually his death,’ recalls Sanderson, exotedly. 'I know it s0unds morbid but it really touched me so we made a record about it called "Single Seater Xmas" l like the idea of speed With no finesse, Just hurtling around.’ Not far off the Earl Brutus listening experience, (Brian Donaldson) I Earl Brutus play with the Dust Junkys and Bul/yrag.
CLASSICAL BBC SSO
Glasgow: Broadcasung House, Sun 25 Jan. See listings.
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are on a roll at the moment; having startled us with Osmo vanska’s Sibelius Experience last year they are back to give a Similar treatment to Beethoven in a series entitled Beethoven the Revolutionary. Six concerts featuring all nine symphonies, a celebrity reCitaI with distinguished pianist and Beethoven interpreter Alfredo Perl and a speCIal introductory day add up to the complete Beethoven experience. Bet you didn't know this:
Beethoven wasn't always deaf, but
‘ by the age of 28 he had already
experienced profound hearing loss, its cause even now not conclusively known. Things weren’t helped by intractable diarrhoea and stomach pains. He probably had asthma too.
Everything he wrote, believed Beethoven, was for the sake of posterity, until his time a completely new notion in mu5ic.
He had a string of romantic relationships, but never married. He fought legal battles for five years to gain custody of his nephew, which drove the nephew to attempt suicide.
Beethoven was 5ft Sin tall. Or short.
After a particularly fine performance of the 9th Symphony, the Choral, the conductor Hans von Bulow, bowed, thanked the audience and ordered them to sit down again for a repeat of the entire symphony. The doors were locked so that no one could leave.
The Kreutzer Sonata was only dedicated to the French Violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer (who wasn’t actually good enough to play it) after Beethoven discovered that the original dedicatee went off with his girlfriend.
After he became ill, his attractiveness and cared for personal appearance altered so much that he was referred to as the ’original caveman’.
Beethoven had an alcohol problem, With a particular penchant for Hungarian wines. His stomach pains, initially, were eased by heavy drinking. This was when he was about 30, but heavy drinking for the next 26 years resulted in his eventual death by liver disease. (Carol Main)
Beethoven: called caveman