ROCK/POP Cay, Crashland and My Vitriol Glasgow: King Tut’s, Thu 16 Mar.
Heavy metal today is a far cry from when I was a denim clad nipper. Gone are the halcyon days of spandex, 30 minute drum solos and poodle permed axe heroes. Nope, these days it’s all skate wear, body piercing and unsightly facial hair.
In an attempt to promote the growing diversity of the British rock scene, Kerrangl magazine, the original bible for self respecting metal heads, have sponsored a nation-wide tour featuring My Vitriol, Crashland and Cay, three of the most hotly tipped guitar outfits of the moment.
While My Vitriol have adopted the most Dinosaur Jr/post-slacker approach of the three, it’s probably Cay who come closest to flirting with metal, purely because: a) they’re awesomely, gut wrenchingly loud; b) they play guitars and c) er, that’s about it. The nation’s music press might be intrigued by the concept of ‘new metal’ but singer/guitarist Anet Mook is having none of it: ‘Heavy metal?’ she giggles. ’Look, I’m glad that Kerrangl are sponsoring the tour but metal’s just weird music.’
If anything, the London based outfit, whose debut album Nature Creates Freaks gained the critical thumbs
Kerrangl kids: Cay
up from both The Times and Metal Hammer, possess an apocalyptic hardcore/punk sound reminiscent of the late, lamented Silverfish and early Babes In Toyland. Citing influences as diverse as Shellac, Miles Davis and Bill Evans, they whip up an unholy barrage of noise topped off with Mook’s thermonuclear assault strength, larynx shredding screams. As a female-fronted guitar band, they’ve drawn continual comparisons with Hole, something which slightly bemuses guitarist Nicky Olofsson. 'I can see why people make the comparison,’ he sighs. ‘I just don’t think people have a broad enough set of references. We don’t even own any Hole records.’
In complete contrast to Cay, Crashland are a West Country trio with a big guitar sound but finely honed pop sensibilities. Imagine a souped up Supergrass combined with the power pop angst of late 705 heroes The Buzzcocks and The Only Ones and you’re half-way there. They’re young, confident and according to drummer Marc Childs, they're ready to give the UK music scene a much needed kick up it’s collective backside. ’There’s so much shite in the charts,’ he exclaims, ’dance music by numbers just to make a quick buck. And all them boy bands — I mean, fuck me. It definitely needs a good shake up. I’m not saying we're the ones who’ll do it but it would be great if we could.’ (Neil Ferguson)
Slight return: Echoboy
puts people off. Kids hear the phrase post-rock and it just doesn’t sound that encouraging does it? It’s got that horrible chin stroking element to it.‘ The bedroom boffin approach is still relatively new to Warren. Up until the summer of 98 he’d been the leader of the mod-obsessed Hybirds, signed to Heavenly, but dropped just before the release of their first album. The dance connection via Heavenly struck a chord, he started to check out the club scene and over the last year or so, he’s put out a self-financed debut album and a number of acclaimed 7in singles for various independent labels. He then recently signed to Mute records, largely because he claims they had the right
ROCK/ POP Echoboy Glasgow: 13th Note, Wed 8 Mar.
‘l'm influenced by so much it’s difficult where to start,’ laughs Richard Warren, aka Echoboy. ’Bob Dylan, he’s a major hero. Neil Young, Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, people like that. And Kraut rock - I really got into that about a year ago, so I suppose it’s Bob Dylan via Kraftwerk meets Suicide.’
For the uninitiated, Warren has just
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produced one of the freshest sounding albums of the last few months. Entitled Vol. 1, it’s a wonderful mix of burbling synths, languid dub and wistful pop, all put together in his bedroom/studio using just a basic sampler, eight-track and a seemingly boundless imagination. Despite the lo-fi approach, Warren is quick to dismiss careless pigeon holing. 'There's a few people putting out similar albums just now,’ he says, ’but it’s usually labelled as post- rock, which I think is really dodgy. It
reference points and label boss Daniel Miller allowed him complete artistic freedom.
Warren brims with enthusiasm at the prospect of touring. ’We’re searching for total energy on stage. We sound a lot different than on record. Live, we're like The Pistols and The Stooges colliding with The Chemical Brothers. Plus our organ player’s a real jazz head, so we’ve thrown it all together and hopefully, people are gonna love it.’ (Neil Ferguson)
Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Mon 6 Mar; Edinburgh, Queen's Hall, Tue 7 Mar.
New York and Montreal for the last week of February, followed by Brazil in March is not a typical schedule for most contemporary composers. Yet this is what appears right now in the diary of Philip Glass, the Baltimore born composer who, it is claimed (though not by Glass), is the inventor of minimalism. Championing his music with the UK premiere of Glassworks, a major ensemble work, is the intrepid Paragon Ensemble. According to their General Manager, Andrew Logan, ‘it features irresistible rhythms and breathtaking instrumental virtuosity that will leave you in awe.’
In a whole evening devoted to the music of Glass, Paragon also present a number of solo instrumental pieces. For those who are already part of the cult following that has grown up around the music of Glass, as well as those who want to toe-dip, the evening will be, says Logan, ’a fantastic and rare opportunity to hear Glass's music played live in Scotland.’
Glassworks itself is almost twenty years old and was written originally as a commission for CBS records and is scored for a combination of two flutes, soprano and tenor saxophones, two horns, viola, two cellos and piano. Some of it was later used to form the basis of New York Ballet’s G/asspieces by Jerome Kern in 1983.
Glass’s collaborative output over the past couple of decades has been considerable. The opera Einstein On The Beach is the most famous example, but film too has brought Glass wide-spread recognition. Soundtracks for Koyannisqaatsi and Kundun sit alongside the Bowie influenced Heroes and Low Symphonies in their mass appeal.
Sparse, with rhythms which move almost imperceptibly over fairly static harmonies, the music of Glass, like that of fellow American Steve Reich, can be almost hypnotic in its effect. Who knows what the future holds for minimalism, but, says Glass of its late 19705 hey-day, ’it was in the air. It was bound to happen.’ (Carol Main)
. . .3,
Crystal clear: Phillip Glass