Music Record Reviews
SHOEGAZER TECHNO PANTHA DU PRINCE Black Noise (Rough Trade) ●●●●● Hendrick Weber’s third album, the follow up to 2007’s acclaimed This Bliss, is equally laden with his signature digital
bells, chimes, dings and tings. It’s also full of the more recognisable elements of minimal techno, with low sine waves, fragments of acoustic guitars, and warm and fuzzy kick drums. Roll in guest turns
LABELS OF LOVE
A treasured Edinburgh DIY imprint, SL Records has propagated local and global anti-folk, alt.rock and indie-pop since 1997. With ballboy, Misty’s Big Adventure and Saint Jude’s Infirmary among its dexterous alumni, SL’s current roster spans Withered Hand, Thomas Truax (pictured), Enfant Bastard, Lords of Bastard, Wowl! and Paul Vickers & The Leg. It’s lovingly nurtured by founder Ed Pybus. Do you have a label manifesto? To release stuff that may not otherwise see the light of day, and to give it more exposure than it might otherwise receive. We also offer bands total artistic freedom.
Does your A&R strategy maintain a common artistic or ideological thread? It’s guided by my [musical] taste, for good or bad! It’s also important that the musicians we work with are aware of what we can and can’t achieve: they’ll often be more hands-on involved than they’d be at a larger label.
Do you think there’s still hope for the record business? I think the decline of the music industry has been greatly exaggerated. There’s certainly been a decline for the major labels, but for the last 30 years their business model has been flogging bits of plastic that cost pennies to make for £15.99. Bands like Radiohead have shown that it’s possible for other ideas and models to work. We’re selling some releases using a similar system – allowing people to pay what they want – with good results so far. What imminent treats have you got in store? The Withered Hand debut album is still going great guns – his new single is out in March. Paul Vickers & The Leg’s new album, Itchy Grumble, is a stunning rock opera [see review, page 65]. I’m also putting together a compilation of [American legend] Moondog’s music: Clinic, Jeffrey Lewis, Justin Robertson, Kid Carpet and a host of great Scottish bands have contributed tracks. It’ll be out this summer. (Nicola Meighan)
www.slrecords.net ■ Thomas Truax: Songs from the Films of David Lynch, Mono, Glasgow, Tue 23 Feb, Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh, Thu 25 Feb; Paul Vickers and The Leg: Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Sat 13 Mar; Withered Hand: Fence Homegame, Anstruther, Sat 13 Mar, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Sat 20 Mar.
66 THE LIST 4–18 Feb 2010
if they had given up. The result, Heligoland, is still hard-hitting though, with an enviable guest list. Damon Albarn and Guy Garvey feature, both adding chilled, melodic lyrics to the perfect after-club album.
Finale ‘Atlas Air’ stands out – a dark, unsettling trip that somehow turns hypnotic and makes you want to listen to it all over again. It’s a bit like the album cover itself – eerie and bizarre, but still you can’t stop looking. (Nicola Paul) ELECTROPOP HOT CHIP One Life Stand (Parlophone) ●●●●●
While Gary War can’t quite match former collaborator Ariel Pink’s cracked FM pop genius, he shares his love of 60s West Coast pop and the weirder byways of 80s MOR, as the cover of Alan Parson Project’s ‘Eye In The Sky’ attests. This is lo-fi psychedelia: the degraded tape hiss joins the reverb and delay in quietly deranging the senses, while melancholy pop gems gradually emerge from the neon tinged murk. (Stewart Smith) INDIE THE UNWINDING HOURS The Unwinding Hours (Chemikal Underground) ●●●●●
Electro-poppers Hot Chip have gone soft. Their fourth album, aptly released just in time for Valentine’s Day, is all about meeting that special someone (hence the punning title). It looks like the boys have grown up and are keen to spread their adorations, yet old-school fans shouldn’t despair – there are still synths and rhythms aplenty, particularly in ‘We Have Love’, while ‘Take It In’ looks set to become the ‘Over and Over’ of 2010 with its infectious beat and smooth lyrics. A romantic album with a difference, it maybe doesn’t break boundaries, but it still delivers. (Nicola Paul) PSYCHEDELIC POP GARY WAR New Rayontheport (Shdwply Records) ●●●●
Finally given a proper UK release, Gary War’s debut album is a lovely, if disorienting, trip through a fog of gauzy synths, sputtering drum machines and half submerged vocals.
One of Chemikal Underground’s best- loved bands is resurrected, after a fashion, in The Unwinding Hours, the new project from Craig B and Iain Cook of Aereogramme. Whereas the pair’s old group was unafraid of being noisy, this is a delicate and really quite beautiful set.
Spectral guitar and piano ballads haunt the record, notably the comforting ‘Little One’, ‘Solstice’ and the slightly eerie ‘Child’. There are moments of unashamed pop (‘Peaceful Liquid Shell’) and songs which are unafraid to finally get loud (‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone’, the closing ‘The Final Hour’), adding up to an assured and excellent debut. (David Pollock)
JAZZ FRINGE MAGNETIC Empty Spaces (Loop Records) ●●●●●
Fringe Magnetic is an eclectic project even by
the Loop Collective’s famously open-ended standards. The core of the band is trumpeter and composer Rory Simmons’ quartet with pianist Ivo Neame, bassist Jasper Høiby and drummer Ben Reynolds, augmented by Robin Fincker (clarinet), Tori Freestone (flute), James Allsopp (bass clarinet), Kit Massey (violin) and Natalie Rosario (cello). The instrumental unit coheres well in the context of a free- ranging, shifting sound palette. Elisabeth Nygaard and Andrew Plummer add very different vocal contributions to the mix, the latter to unexpected effect in a declamation of a poem by Charles Bukowski on ‘Ish’ that evokes Tom Waits in overdrive. (Kenny Mathieson) WORLD FUSION ANGELIQUE KIDJO Õÿö (Proper) ●●●●●
Kidjo, undoubtedly Africa’s top female singer, marries her passion for the music of her home country Benin with the soul and jazz she grew up with, and a broader Afro- American picture. Her shape shifting
voice moves effortlessly between various African languages, English and French in thrilling songs segueing rootsy rhythms as with ‘Zelie and Kelele’ alongside covers of classics like ‘Move On Up’ with John Legend, ‘Baby I Love You’ with Dianne Reeves and a re- working of ‘Dreams To Remember’. Could this bring this consummate African star another Grammy award? (Jan Fairley)
from LCD Soundsystem’s Tyler Pope and Animal Collective vocalist Noah Lennox on ‘Stick To My Side’, plus the fact that it’s out on Rough Trade, and you have a highly- anticipated minimal techno album that could find a more-than- minimal audience. (Hamish Brown) JAZZ MONK INC Propensity (Comuse Recordings) ●●●●●
Hendrick Weber’s third This tribute to the jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, from a young UK-based quintet, is conspicuously lacking in Monk’s own instrument. Trumpeter Ben Higham and saxophonist Simon Youngman are joined by Mark Read on bass trumpet and tuba, Ivars Galanieks on double bass, and drummer Geoff Charlton.
Higham and Youngman have explored the work of Monk before. Their approach is a pleasing mix of respect and experiment, and there is nothing ultimately gimmicky about their use of the non- canonical instrumental line-up. Higham adds his own tribute, ‘Man in Astrakhan’, to an enjoyable collection of nine Monk tunes which includes ‘I Mean You’, a rather acerbic ‘Nutty’, ‘Pannonica’, ‘Jackie- ing’ and a strange take on ‘Misterioso’. (Kenny Mathieson)
ELECTRONICA MASSIVE ATTACK Heligoland (Virgin) ●●●●●
Massive Attack have been in the studio for an age with this album, leaving critics wondering