dEUS Glasgow: King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Mon 22 Mar.
A sage and learned person, long since rendered anonymous by the vagaries of time, once remarked that the only certainty is that there are no certainties. This, of course, is palpable bollocks, particularly in the milk-safe cavalcade of sure things that is pop music. Take Pop Certainty No.412: ’Bands like dEUS will make great records which no one will buy because a) they’re too “weird” and b) they’re Belgian.’ Except, Craig Ward, who fronts the band along with Tom Barman, is from Cumbernauld and is an alumnus of Strathclyde University. Plus, The Ideal Crash, their splendiferous new album, may just be their belated breakthrough. dEUS clearly care not for certainties.
’We’ve tried and tried with our records, but we've always been square pegs,’ muses Ward. ’Even "Little Arithmetics" didn't make the Top 40, despite being Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show Biggie.’
With hindsight, this may have had something to do with the band’s rather skewed approach to PR.
’Tom did an NME interview in which he said, rather naively, that Chris Evans was a bit of a wanker. I was like, "Oh great, Tom, we get a serious mainstream ally and you start publicly assaulting him. Really clever." ’
However, this contrary spirit is one of dEUS’s most vital facets and something Ward’s keen not to compromise. ’The album definitely has a more commercial, polished sound, but with less obvious hit potential than before. Some of the fans think it's a sell-out, while some think it's our least commercial record. It’s a typically confused
Increased commercial potential or not, these psychedelic art-core philanderers are not likely to be trading saucy licks with Dale Winton on the National Lottery Live anytime soon. Their crackerjack, lunatic
Maastricht freaky: dEUS
spirit is still there in abundance, even if the tendency to
hop desultorily from John Barry-esque drama to folksome shanties to Sonic Youth wig-outs and beyond has been anchored into a more cohesive, fulfilling
And live? ‘Live, we’re still pretty unreliable,’ admits Ward cheerfully. ’We can stink very badly, but we can be
pretty riotous too. Our reliability rate is up to, oh,
Which, in dEUS's white light/white heat world is as damn close to a certainty as you‘re likely to get.
Wean's world: Suckle
Every fortnight we turn the spotlight on a new act who are doing good stuff. This issue: Suckle.
Who? Suckle is the brainchild of Frances McKee, ex-inember of Kurt Cobain's band of choice The Vaselines She gave up shambolic rock 'n' roll to become a primary school teacher, but returned to music a few years ago ll) the Painkillers collaboration With another ex-Vaseline, James Seenan, 'l never stopped th:nking abetit making music,’ she says. 'I really inflicted my guitar playing on the children that I taught to cries of “Stop it Miss McKee, no more torture'
What does this torture sound like? Not remotely tortuous Suckle makes a Simple, uncluttered sound With strings and woodwmd instruments as much as guitars, lt’s laid back but dark, like a deadpan Cocteau Twms
A mantra for a state of mind? 'l was told when l was at school l was really good at writing prayers, so I'm sure that's got something to do ‘.‘.’llll it i
practise a lot of yoga, so I really like chilled-out mellow sounds. I just initially wanted to make music that I could practise yoga to.’
So is yoga the new rock 'n' roll? 'I started because I had a sore back and a really perverted doctor who kept telling me to bend over.’
Okay, so it's not, but can we hear this meditative music? Suckle have released two singles -— ’Harmonal Secretions’ on Detox and ’Cybilla’ on lvchee's own Left Hand Recordings. They also recorded a Peel session and promise further releases when McKee can master the art of the 36-h0ur day.
You said ’they’. So it’s not a solo effort? Last year McKee deCided that Suckle. had to come out of the studio and into the public’s bosom, so she recruited a Six-piece band, including her sister Marie. They've already played a couple of gigs With The Delgados. 'We're slowly converting into Earth, Wind And Fire, because there's so many of us‘ ' (Fiona Shepherd)
Suck/e play Nice 'n’ Sleazy, Glasgow, Thu 25 Mar
Bill Bruford's Earthworks
Edinburgh: Queen's Hall, Fri 19 Mar; Glasgow: RSAMD, Sat 20 Mar.
Bill Bruford may have drawn his biggest crowds while holding down the drum seat in Yes (he was a founder member in 1968, but left four years later at the height of the group's popularity) and King Crimson in the heyday of progressive rock, but he has never been a one-track musician, and jazz has surfaced regularly in his work. With a whiff of prog (once the very scent of uncool) growing fashionable all over again in the music of acts like Ultrasound, Mansun and The Beta Band, these Scottish dates from his heartenineg unclichéd jazz fusion outfit, Earthworks, may attract additional interest.
Earthworks has an intriguing history of its own. The drummer first formed the group back in 1986, recruiting two of the most individual talents on the British jazz scene: Django Bates and lain Ballamy. They made four albums before Bruford’s band mates' star rose so high that they had little time to commit to the project. The drummer eventually decided to start again.
He unveiled the new line-up last year, with the excellent Scottish pianist Steve Hamilton taking over from Bates, and Patrick Clahar (best known for his work With Incognito) replacing Ballamy. Mark Hodgson slotted in on bass. As well as the stylistic shift brought by the new players, the most immediate and obvious change lay in a more acoustic sound and no electronic drums.
Bruford acknowledges that this edition of the band has a more conventional jazz instrumentation, and their intimate musical relationship is reflected on a fine new album, A Part, And Yet Apart (their first for Robert Fripp's Discipline Global label), which will be out just ahead of his Scottish dates. As in his recent trio collaboration with Ralph Towner and Eddie Gomez, the ambience is clearly acoustic.
'I wanted to make a record where all the musicians stand in a room at the same time and play,’ he says Bruford. 'i'm interested in intimacy, and I'm interested in authorship. i like the idea of being able to tell who played what on the record.’
In recent years, Bruford has been a part of reformed Yes and King Crimson line-ups, but, as you'll discover if you go and see him, it's his jazz work which really makes the earth move. (Kenny Mathieson)
Prog spawned: Bill Bruford’s Earthworks
l8 Mar—l Apr 1999 THE LIST 39