Glasgow: King Tut’s, Fri 30 Oct; Edinburgh: La Belle Angele, Sat 31 Oct.
Oh the irony. For the title of their second album, the spiked, autofunk weirdos who make up Moloko plump, naturally enough, for the phrase IAm Not A Doctor, and wrap the disc in a cover featuring panoramic vistas of the alpine peaks. Now, vocalist Roisin Murphy finds herself somewhere in Switzerland while a parade of people who are doctors hold her tongue down with lolly-sticks and get her to say 'Aah’.
'We had a punk rock party on the bus,’ explains Mark Brydon, Murphy’s instrumental Molokoid partner, on the phone from Zurich. 'We got the Stiff compilation out, which is not something we listen to often, but there're just so many tunes on it that you remember . . . So, we were having this mosh- party, singing Pogues songs and Roisin wrecked her voice. She's spent all week seeing German throat specialists. The last one was called Dr Martens. Everybody has different cures: some people say you’ve got to talk really high, others say you've got to talk really low; others say you’ve got to drink apple juice, others that you've to drink tea. Nobody knows, so you just do them all. She's not speaking now, there’s an eerie silence.’
'An eerie silence' is a good way of describing the state which has surrounded Brydon's band in the two years since their debut album, Do You Like My ﬁght Sweater, appeared. At that time, much to their general depressed befuddlement, Moloko were largely writ off as Portishead copyists, due to the facts that they a) had a female vocalist and b) used a sampler.
This is not a mistake anyone who has listened to IAm Not A Doctor is likely to make: if the Bristolians are there for the times when you lie in the bath letting the water 90 cold and watching spores develop on the
Moloko: a cure for normality
ceiling, Brydon's bunch are more for the times you’re in such a rush to get on with it that you jump into the bath without testing, scald yourself and leap out again so quickly you feel giddy and strange for the rest of the night. And then find out you’re a robot.
With two year’s of touring behind them, Brydon, a man not much given to self-aggrandisement, reckons Moloko to be in its best condition yet: ’I remember when ABC did those cartoon versions of themselves,’ he says by way of illustration. 'That's where we are. We're almost becoming a cartoon band.’ lndubitably.
'Good tunes don't go out of fashion,’ he explains. ’We don’t need to go all dancey to enjoy what we’re doing.’
Indeed not, latest album Out of Tune marks a confident step forward in the Gram Parsons style of country-tinged rock, With actual songs replacing the empty desert, sparse soundscapes of old. Halstead puts this down to a ripre varied recording style Indeed much of the album was recorded in Glasgow With Belle 8‘ Sebastian knob-twrddler Tony Doogan ’It is something of a homage to Parsons, as is the band’s name,’ says Halstead, the Mojave desert being where Parson's body was
ROCK Mojave 3
Glasgow: Queen Margaret Union, Sat 24 Oct; Edinburgh: Attic, Fri 23 Oct. Since the demotion of former Jailblfd James Brown, Neil Halstead has begun vying for the title of Hardest Working Man in Show Business.
Not content with the release of the second album from his Reading-based band Moiave 3 and a nationWide tour,
50 THE lIST 22 Oct—S Nov 1998
Mojave 3: desert drifters
he is also rhythm gUitarist for ex-Suede fret-worker Bernard Butler, who his band are supporting on said tour. Halstead, described by Time Out as ’One of Britain's finest songwriters’ has a work ethic and attitude that belies his indie shoe-gazer background. Once the centre of the descriptiver named Slowdive, along with MOjave bassist Rachel Goswell, he now has a more positive attitude towards life and music:
burned Native-American style after his death.
As for the work With Butler, Halstead is happy. 'It's good money, and it’s good to have the pressure off a bit. I can play everything well enough and Just enjoy it I don't need to worry so much about how it’s coming across.’
No doubt the quality \Nlll shine through as Halstead’s two plOJC‘CIS roll into Glasgow and Edinburgh.
(Craig Reece) 3 Out of Tune is out now on 4A0 Records.
Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Sat 31 Oct.
Born in Natal, in apartheid South Africa, Busi Mhlongo was brought up in her family’s Methodist tradition which, sadly, had little recourse to music. A confirmed music junkie from a tender age, the young Busi was forced to seek out any of the other religious denominations with musical services and remembers ’even following people, maybe someone with a guitar, down the road, to find out where there was music.’
Over the decades her passion for music has not diminished and her vocal and songwriting skills, already legendary in southern Africa, are rapidly becoming appreciated in the wider world.
Over here with her nine-piece band that includes three women singers, she'll be performing songs from her just-released Urban Zulu album. With two guitars, bass, keys and drums and the quaint street sound of the little squash box, the instrumental sound drives along underneath a glorious swirl of vocal harmony. It’s a powerful framing for her acrobatic maskanda singing style, the traditional Zulu form that she is 'helping to expand and make very contemporary. They play it on all the stations now, all over the country. The young love it.‘
Given recent press reports about South Africa’s institutionalised sexism, one might think that Busi, especially in her position as a strong female role model, would run into a lot of problems. Instead, she feels that ’there’s been a big change in women’s roles. People are opening up. I was performing at the Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg recently, and there were so many people there who were listening. Now, (and here her v0ice is touchingly honest) I love to be loved — when I’m singing I love to make people happy — and I was really affected by all these young girls with so many fresh ideas. They give you so much energy, and hope.’ (Norman Chalmers)
Busi Mhlongo: maskanda master