Grandaddy The Sophtware Slump (V2) inland:
A startling and moving examination of the frailty of human existence
Tricky time, changes, background noises and a ‘concept'. Sounds like scary. prog, doesn't it? Fear not, cos Grandaddy’s second full album is as far from the self-indulgent excesses of the Floyd as it's possible to get. On the surface, The Sophtware Slump has a concept of sorts, dealing with the interaction between man, machines and the environment. What it actually is underneath all this apparent lunacy, is a startling and moving examination of the frailty of human existence and relationships.
From the first piano notes of the album's opener, 'He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot', it’s clear we have a special piece of music here. 'Are you giving in 2000, man?’ asks singer Jason Lytle plaintively over sweeping, heartbreaking keyboard swathes and swaying, drunken rhythms. The contrary feelings of melancholy and positivity battle it out across the whole album. from the angular strut of ’Chartsengrafs’ to the insanely schizophrenic 'Broken Household Appliance National Forest'.
Throughout The Sophtware Slump Lytle's wafer-thin voice exudes fragility and isolation. Around him, the odd sounds, unconventional song structures and wealth of strange ideas discomfort and disorientate like Radiohead, only wildly more original. Buy it and, honestly, be gobsmacked.
launched this new record label with the twin aims of disproving the popular myths that jazz is elitist and always loses money. If there is any justice, The Grinder’s Monkey will succeed on both counts. O’Higgins is a superb straightahead jazz improviser, but as he proved back in the late 805 with Roadside Picnic (and many times since), he also has a real feel for more funky, fusion-oriented grooves, and that is mostly what his fine band serve up beneath the saxophonist's lucid, highly accessible, refreshingly cliche-free melody lines on nine new tunes. (Kenny Mathieson)
Totally Wired. Series 2, Volume 1 (Acid Jazz) 1: a: it
Another cravated nod to the headz music cognoscenti from the Acid Jazz label, this is actually a bit of a yawn. There are some glorious tracks here (’Right On Boy’ from IFC and the marvellous ’Gypsy Woman' by Montefiore Cocktail in particular); it is just that the kudos this great label gains from their fabulous collection of archive tracks, they immediately lose on the modern material — compare and contrast the cheese busting might of
Franco Godi's ’Viva La Felicita’ to the dime store hip hop of Parlour Talk's ’Gutted'. Frustratingly uneven, but nice enough for a goateed dinner party. (Paul Dale)
CONTEMPORARY Elena Riu
Piano Icons for the let Century (Linn Records) a: at a: it
John Tavener wrote ’Ypakoe’ for pianist
Elena Riu to premiere in London last year, and it forms the centrepiece of this fine disc of contemporary solo piano music cast in a reflective, spiritual vein (although the mood is a little unvarying if you listen to the whole disc at a sitting). The apparent simplicity of the music by Tavener, Arvo Part and Peter Sculthorpe belies the expressive demands it makes on the pianist, but she responds with highly attentive playing which succeeds in being limpidly beautiful, but simultaneously taut and subtly energised. The disc, gorgeously recorded in the characteristic Linn manner, also contains Janacek’s 'In The Mists’ and the elegant miniatures which make up Catalan composer Federico Mompou‘s 'Charmes’. (Kenny Mathieson)
Singles round up
Diving straight in, let’s swim a length of the indie pool. The Bluetones’ ‘Autophilia’ (Superior ***) starts off in their usual pleasantly weedy way then, erm, continues in the same vein. Strangely catchy though. From the other end of the indie pool come Fifth Amendment. Like Britpop never happened, ’Camera Shy’ (One Little Indian **~k*) sounds like Silverfish — a tasty brew of fuck-off attitude, metal guitars and shouting. Which couldn’t be further from Paul Weller if it tried. ’He’s The Keeper’ (Island *) is painful grandad rock by numbers. Remember ’Eton Rifles’? Weller clearly doesn’t.
Time to splash in the pop paddling pool with Billie Piper. ’Day and Night’ (Virgin ink) sees our very own Brittany clone not only gaining a surname but sounding like Sive, which is presumably her attempt to ’grow up'. Doesn’t work. More successful is ’Don’t Call Me Baby' by Madison Avenue (VC *tt‘k). Strutting in a funky, dancefloor-filling way, the singer’s voice contains a high sass percentage and a sexiness to match.
Drowning in the dancefloor deep- end is Paul Van Dyk’s ’Tell Me Why (The Riddle)’ (Vandit t), a poppy trance effort made all the more half— arsed by enlisting the ’help’ of pop has-beens St Etienne. Much better is ’Mondo A Go-Go!’ (Mesmobeat ****) by Eat Static, which sounds a bit like Orbital wearing a silly hat — daft, yet cool. Making lots of splashy mess but ultimately ending up just damp is Science Dept’s uninspired prog-house splat, ’Repercussions’ (Bedrock ink), while those turfed out for piddling in the shallow end are Sagitaire. ’Shout (C’mon)’ (Nulife *) is
record reviews MUSIC
24 hour pop nymph Billie Piper
Tears For Fears + epic trance = very, very baaaad indeed. In stark contrast are Thinktank’s electro/ techno clatters on 'The Wax Jacket EP’ (Pull *tii) which disturbs initially, but grows into something oddly addictive in time. Also cool is Hexdragon's ’Da Boogaloo’ (Virgin *tti), with some menacing, urgent rap laid over a scattering of ultracool twitchy beats. Mike Ladd follows suit with cerebral rap/rants and stuttery moog beats on ’5000 Miles’ (Ozone tint). Slightly disturbing — we need to be soothed. And soothed we are by dipping our toes in the sea of gentle summer tunes. Fuxa, Coldharbourstores, Keiron Phelan and David Shepard (all Rocket Girl tank) layer on some chiming, shuffling, off-kilter, ambient euphoria while Hobotalk take a stroll through an uplifting bittersweet country hinterland with ’l’ve Seen Some Things’ (Hut *itit). Their singer Marc Pilley in possession of a voice that could make a horse cry. That's good, by the way. Ayrshire loons Frog Pocket take the lead on 'Mothballs Vol. 2’ (Mothmouth *‘k**) with a sliver of calming beats ’n' acoustic strums along with a further trio of odd delights to boot. Last, but not least, ’Hate Or Love?’ (Sony *iirhk) by LSK is a wonderful jazzy walk in the park. Leigh Stephen Kenny and his sister Rhianna trade gently sparring words over a backdrop of pure, 100% sweet soul and warm our hearts in the process. (Doug Johnstone)
STAR RATINGS ht * a ir Unmissable a at ‘k ‘A' Very ood a a ‘k Wort a shot it a Below average ‘k You've been warned
27 Apr—l I May 2000 THE UST 47