Theaudience: still mastering syntax
ROCK Theaudience Glasgow: King Tut's, Tue 12 May.
’I Got The Wherewithal', ’If You Can't Do It When You're Young, When Can You Do It?’, ‘A Pessimist ls Never Disappointed’, ’There Are Worse Things I Could Do' - a few more titles of Theaudience songs and we could fill the whole page. Actually, the last one isn’t theirs. Persons of taste will recognise it as Rizzo’s defiant riposte in Grease, but Theaudience recently turned it into one of the most confidently realised cover versions of the 905.
’Someone asked me was I singing about myself in that one? And I thought "oh, thanks a lot!” says Sophie Ellis Bextor. ’My mum doesn’t like that one,’ she adds.
Quite right too. What mother would want her daughter to be singing about unwanted pregnancies, doing it with boys and not staying in to do your homework? Particularly when your mother was once a kids' TV icon, advocating a stay at home and make Mother's Day gifts out of sticky-back plastic, pipe cleaners and glitter approach to emotional development. For Sophie's ma is former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. A fact which has no bearing on
Theaudience per se, but is one of those showbiz trivia morsels which is fun to toy with until a band acquires a track record and starts generating its own showbiz trivia.
Theaudience are young - in band years, at least. They may be fronted by a teen siren but most of the men-in- black around her are somewhat more experienced in the game of life. Unusually, the band's thirtysomething founder and songwriter Billy Reeves has said he tries to write lyrics from a perspective that will suit Sophie. Given that, as Sophie says, ’he’s not all that in touch at the moment. He’s quite old for a 32—year-old,’ we might well ask, how do they do that?
’Sometimes he does get it wrong,’ admits Sophie, ’but I just change it. For the most part, we think the same way. It might not necessarily just be about age, it’s what we have in common. So he’s not regressing; he’s just writing what we think about.’
On the evidence so far, it’s a partnership which works to produce sophisticated, albeit wordy pop. Current single ’A Pessimist ls Never Disappointed’ is an example of their shared vision.
’It’s about the desire to not be anonymous anymore. It’s what motivated us to form the band in the first place.’ (Fiona Shepherd)
lmani Coppola Glasgow: King Tut's, Sun 3 May.
lmani Coppola: not a retiring wallflower
38 I’ll! U81 30 Apr—l4 May 1998
lmani ’don’t call me Francis Ford' Coppola is a day-glo buffalo gal in a Daisy Age landscape of her own creation. Given that the I9-year-old's debut album Chupacabra (which, any X Files completist can tell you, is a spectral Mexican goat-slaughtering force) is bursting With as much colour, imagination and animation as your average Beck LP, that's a pretty freaky, precocious landscape. In fact, are you feeling alright, lmani? As she sings on album track 'Pigeon Penelope', she 'came up wrth something fast to prove that I was sane' (mind you, as she sings on current single 'I'm A Tree’, "I am a tree”).
'When people ask me what my mu5ic is,’ she begins, ‘I say "it’s music of me” because there is no category for it. It’s new, I created it. But if I have to be more specific, I say "happy, spiritual, feel-good rap". But not all of it is happy. It just sounds that way.‘
However, you won’t catch lmani paying tribute to her homeboys. She only began rapping when she was
writing the songs for Chupacabra and she's fairly disparaging of the genre as a whole. On hearing her efforts, it makes ’sense' that she prefers Frank Zappa.
Her instrument is the Violin, but at times she finds it a frustrating choice. Her album is shot through With country influences, another genre she says she hates. Can we see a pattern emerging? Coppola's disgust and irritation is our gain, however. Her bouncy, kitsch grooves are reminiscent of fellow cartoony New Yorkers Deee-Lite, and the presence of Digable Planets’ Michael Mangini ’on the mix' will have had some influence on the end product,
Her upbringing in a musical home can’t be discounted either, nor her tenure at the State University of New York, studying orchestra and studio composmon, but given her naughty, sulky schoolgirl tendency to simultaneously soak up and dismiss what’s around her, it’s advisable to catch her before she decides that all musrc is humbug. (Fiona Shepherd)
Michiel Borstlap Trio
Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Sun 17 May;
Stirling: Tolbooth Theatre, Thu 7 May; Edinburgh: Tron Tavern, Thu 14 May;
Paisley: Arts Centre, Fri 15 May.
Don’t let lack of familiarity stop you checking out this excellent Dutch pianist. The Jazz Touring Collective was set up in the autumn to bring this kind of artist to our attention, and with Assembly Direct running increasingly curtailed seasons between unacceptably yawning gaps, it would have been a long Winter without their efforts.
Borstlap has led his trio for eight years, and that is apparent in the beautifully dovetailed interplay of their recent Residence album. He made a big jump in international terms when he won the prestigious Thelonious ' Monk BMI International Jazz Composers Award in 1996 for his elegant ballad ’MemOry of Enchantment’, which will be familiar to anyone who has heard the version on Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter's duo album, 1+7.
'That was a little bit strange, actually,’ Borstlap says, 'because I was late in getting my entry in for the competition, so I didn't have much time to think about which song to chose. I sent them a tape with three tunes, and they chose that one for Herbie and Wayne to play. It wasn't stressful at all — they just called me up and said I was the winner, and I went Over for the presentation!‘
Borstlap got into jazz ’at about five or six, when I heard Miles and Oscar Peterson', and is a graduate of the jazz c0urse at Hilversum Conservatory. He began composing when he 'was about fifteen and wrote something very bad’, but is now equally accomplished both in playing and writing. In addition to the trio, he also has a Sextet and an electric jazz group, White Room.
'I’ve been influenced by the great jazz players like Miles and Coltrane and Ellington and Monk, of course, but also by the Dutch musiCians I have worked with, and by a lot of music that isn't jazz — many classical composers, and also people like Bjork. I think there is only great music and terrible music, and that is the important thing.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
Borstlap: influenced by artists as diverse as Monk and Bjork