#theentiremystery is coming: more details: http://andthemissingpieces.tumblr.com
DAVID LYNCH AND MARK FROST'S GROUNDBREAKING CULT PHENOMENON ARRIVES ON BLU-RAY DISC WITH THE LONG-AWAITED DEBUT OF NEARLY 90 MINUTES OF DELETED/ALTERNATE SCENES FROM TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME
Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery And The Missing Pieces
For The First Time Ever, Acclaimed Television Series And Feature Film Arrive In One Complete Box Set With Upgraded Picture, Newly Produced And Archival Special Features...All Under the Personal Supervision of David Lynch
Available July 29, 2014
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (May 15, 2014) - Twenty-five years after the shocking murder of Laura Palmer in the acclaimed series from legendary filmmaker David Lynch and writer/producer Mark Frost, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution will release TWIN PEAKS - THE ENTIRE MYSTERY.
Arriving for the first time on stunning High Definition Blu-ray with English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio on July 29th, this comprehensive collection contains every episode from the complete television series; both the U.S. and international versions of the series' Pilot; the North American Blu-ray debut of Lynch's follow-up feature Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me; and nearly 90 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes from the film. The set also features newly transferred Log Lady introductions for each episode; picture upgrades to many shots in the TV series; a new featurette with Lynch and the actors who portrayed the Palmer family, which includes a mesmerizing return to the lives of their characters today; and hours of never-before-released material that dives into the fascinating story behind the celebrated pop culture classic.
Along with a newly transferred version of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, created from a 4K scan of the original negative, TWIN PEAKS - THE ENTIRE MYSTERY Blu-ray box set boasts the long-awaited missing pieces from the original version of the film - nearly an hour-and-a-half of deleted/alternate scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me - often referred to as the "holy grail" of Twin Peaks fandom. This feature-length experience has been directed and edited by Lynch exclusively for this release. Capping off more than 30 deleted/alternate scenes is an epilogue providing a fascinating glimpse beyond the cliffhanger finale of the TV series.
"During the last days in the life of Laura Palmer many things happened, which have never been seen before" said David Lynch. "They're here now, alongside the new transfer of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks, the television series."
"We set the bar very high with our prior complete series TWIN PEAKS DVD Gold Box," said Ken Ross, Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Home Entertainment. "THE ENTIRE MYSTERY Blu-ray had to be spectacular in terms of both content and presentation. We are confident that we hit the mark, and are bringing the fans something very special. None of this could have been possible without the day-to-day involvement of David Lynch."
TWIN PEAKS - THE ENTIRE MYSTERY is loaded with special features. In the two-part feature "Between Two Worlds," Lynch himself interviews the Palmer family (Leland, Sarah and daughter Laura) about their current existence in this life and the next, and follows up with a discussion with the actors who portray them. TWIN PEAKS - THE ENTIRE MYSTERY also features "Moving Through Time: Fire Walk With Me Memories," an exclusive retrospective documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew who recount the making of the Twin Peaks movie and working with David Lynch. The collection also features high-definition versions of the Log Lady episode introductions, transferred from recently unearthed 16mm film negative, a selection of newly discovered deleted scenes and outtakes from the television series, and three Twin Peaks photo galleries with over 130 behind-the-scenes images from David Lynch's personal never-before-released collection. Also new to this release are 10 vignettes of iconic Twin Peaks themes called "Atmospherics." Each features a unique montage of music, dialogue and video (including some rare outtakes) that appear as both menu backgrounds and as their own textless experience to further immerse fans in the mysterious world of Twin Peaks.
Additionally, the set features a massive collection of pre-existing special features, some of which have been re-mastered in high definition exclusively for this release, including the award-winning four-part documentary "Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks," and a newly extended version of the Gold Box featurette "A Slice of Lynch," featuring the complete and uncut conversation between David Lynch and actors Kyle MacLachlan and Mädchen Amick. Additionally, this 10-disc set houses an extraordinary archive of special features culled from the entire history of Twin Peaks on home video, including featurettes, cast and crew interviews, promotional reels, archival deleted scenes...and much, much more.
Winning a Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Drama in 1991, and a fixture in all-time top TV series lists from TIME, Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide, Twin Peaks follows the inhabitants of a quaint northwestern town who are stunned after the homecoming queen Laura Palmer is suddenly found murdered. The investigation that follows engenders an eerie chain of events with cataclysmic results felt across the entire town. The series features an ensemble cast including Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn Boyle, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Ray Wise, Peggy Lipton and Warren Frost. Although shot after the series ended, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is the prequel to the television series, and focuses on the seven days leading up to Laura Palmer's death. Many of the TV series cast members reprise their roles in the film and are joined by others including Kiefer Sutherland, David Bowie, Chris Isaak and Harry Dean Stanton.
TWIN PEAKS - THE ENTIRE MYSTERY will be available in 1080p with English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (Series and Feature), original English Stereo 2.0 (Series and Feature), Latin American Spanish Mono (Series), Latin American Spanish Stereo (Feature), Brazilian Portuguese Mono (Series), French Mono (Series), French 5.1 (Feature), Italian Mono (Series), Italian Stereo (Feature), German Mono (Series), German 5.1 (Feature), Castilian Mono (Series), Castilian Stereo (Feature), Japanese Mono (Series), and Japanese Stereo (Feature). The 10-disc collection also includes English SDH, Latin American Spanish, French, Italian, German, Castilian, Japanese, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish subtitles (Series and Feature).
It will be available for the suggested retail price of $109.99 U.S. and $129.99 Canada. The disc breakdown is as follows:
Pilot; Original Version; Alternate International Version; Episode 1; Episode 2; Special Features; Log Lady Intros (HD); Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Episode 3-7; Special Features; Season 1 Image Gallery; Twin Peaks Sneak Peeks (HD);
Log Lady Intros (HD); Previews and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Episode 8-10; Special Features; A Slice of Lynch: Uncut (HD) - NEW!; Season 2 Image Gallery; Promos (HD/SD); Log Lady Intros (HD); Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Episode 11-14; Special Features; Series Deleted Scenes; Series Deleted Scenes (HD) - NEW!; Outtakes (HD) - NEW!; Log Lady Intros (HD); Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Episode 15-18; Special Features; Return To Twin Peaks; Location Guide; The Glastonbury Archives; 17 Pieces of Pie: Shooting at the Mar T (AKA RR) Diner; Mark Frost Interview with Wrapped in Plastic; Learning to Speak in the Red Room; An Introduction to David Lynch; Lucy Bumpers; 1-900 Hotline; Production Documents; Image Galleries; Log Lady Intros (HD); Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Episode 19-22; Special Features; Postcards From The Cast; Twin Peaks Sneak Peaks (HD); Log Lady Intros (HD); Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Episode 23-26; Special Features; Cast And Crew Interviews; Log Lady Intros (HD); Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Episode 27-29; Special Features; Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks (HD); Northwest Passage: Creating the Pilot; Freshly Squeezed: Creating Season One; Where We're From: Creating the Music; Into the Night: Creating Season Two;
Log Lady Intros (HD); Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me; The Missing Pieces: Deleted/Alternate Scenes (HD) - NEW!; Special Feature; Archival Interviews
Special Features; Between Two Worlds (HD) - NEW!; Palmer Family Interview; Actors Discussion; Moving Through Time: Fire Walk With Me Memories (HD) - NEW!; Reflections On The Phenomenon Of Twin Peaks; US Trailer; International Trailer; Fire Walk With Me Photo Gallery - NEW!; Atmospherics (HD) - NEW!; Trees/Woods; Pie; Signs/Places; Coffee
Notes; Water; Donuts; Owls; The Ring; The Red Room
High Definition special features are denoted (HD). Configuration and names of special features are subject to change.
Please visit andthemissingpieces.tumblr.com for the latest details on TWIN PEAKS - THE ENTIRE MYSTERY. Use #theentiremystery to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Michael Mann stalwart and all round mob boss or tough cop character actor Dennis Farina has died, aged 69.
Empty landscapes and lens flares? Yes, there's a new Boards Of Canada album out, and here's a video for one of the tracks.
Drummer and vocalist from The Band, Levon Helm has passed away aged 71. Watch The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down in tribute.
Hats off to the original chimp - Cheeta. Keeping it real 1921-2011.
1st Dec 2011Read on Twitter
E Street Band's saxman died yesterday. January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011
RIP comedy legend Leslie Nielsen. And don't call him Shirley.
The Lexington, London
With a new album on the way and a slew of festival dates lined up, Canada's 2007/8 chimprock staple Black Mountain were back in town for an intimate gig at the perfectly-sized Lexington in preparation for this weekend's Latitude festival.
Pastiche-heavy new song Radiant Hearts opened the show, before new album highlight Wilderness Heart moved the band quickly into a higher gear, storming though In The Future classics Evil Ways, Tyrants, plus Old Fangs, Rollercoaster and Let Spirits Rise from the new record.
Sadly, sound problems slowly encroached into the show -with McBean's increasingly problematic amp hampering the real growth of the performance. While the rest of the band made valient efforts to paste over the cracks - with an extended jam allowing some roadie tech action, before McBean stepped back in with a blistering riff, only to be denied again. Lightning Dust star Amber Webber's wailing vocals provide a much more pronounced appearance when seeing the band live and she provided a real focus for tonights show, holding the stage like a modern day Grace Slick. The keyboard-heavy sounds of the new album also got plenty of time in the spotlight via Jeremy Schmidt, while Joshua Wells' incredible drumming stole the show on several occasions - with the robotic licks of Tyrants never failing to deliver a spine-tingling thrill.
Ultimately, the sound issues were too much to overcome, and like a (muscle) car without gas, Steve McBean sloped off unfulfilled. However, some quick tweaks from a roadie and the band were back for a super-charged encore. The newer big hitters were nearly done, but the super-sub of Stormy High saw the band roar back into action, before chunky live versions of Druganaut and Don't Run Our Hearts Around brought the band's self-titled debut album back into the favourites list.
It would take a lot more than bad electrics to keep these guys down ...and I suspect their the following night may have been unbelievable. Tonight we just had to be satisfied with awesome.Read more 3.5 star reviews
(dir. Steve Pink)
"It must be some kind of... hot tub... time machine" Craig Robinson deadpans to the camera when he and his buddies find themselves in a ski lodge in 1986. That's about the depth of the plot in this wilfully stupid comedy. Which is what makes it work. It feels like a film where they came up with a title that they liked, and then wrote backwards around it. There's the odd bit of psychological depth - dudes aren't happy with assholes they've grown up to be, could this be a chance to fix the mistakes of the past? - but it's all buried in a pacy round of 80s gags and puke jokes. Lots of 80s ski bunny action too if you've ever wondered what life was like up on the slopes then. (Bonus fact - it was shot in Fernie, Canada, and looks a lot like certain other Chimp-friendly destinations.)
John Cusack trades off his 80s persona, taking every chance to diss the decade (all "Reagan and Aids") - although it's weird having some kid play the 80s version of him as we all know exactly what he looked like. Rob Corddry plays a similar pissed-off/manic role to the one he had in What Happens In Vegas; Clark Duke is Cusack's nephew experiencing the 80s for the first time (what? no wi-fi?); Craig Robinson is funny when checking out his Kid N Play boxcut.
More 80s cameos from Crispin Glover (aka George McFly) and Chevy Chase as the possibly mystic hot tub repair man. Nice nods throughout - Bowie skiing on MTV ads, Scritti Politti sounding great (I'm ready for the greatest hits coming out soon), and some ski patrol lunks freaking themselves out over some Red Dawn-style commie paranoia.
Could do without the homophobic panic that runs through a lot of these mindless slacker comedies though, and if you think about it too hard, the ending isn't really a total win, but hey, this isn't a Brief History Of Time, it's a Hot Tub Time Machine.Read more 3 star reviews
Their new show Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town has screening in the United States of Canada already. Not sure if/when it will show up in the UK.
Dog with helipad. Panorama, Canada
21st Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
New Exiting Lunch Menu; Panorama, Canada
21st Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
Snow at speed. Outrider Panorama, Canada
21st Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
Eat More. Panorama, Canada
21st Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
24 Hour Snow Dump. Panorama, Canada
21st Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
@lucypope Canada was great. Shaun White stealing all the limelight, but chimp71 put in a sterling performance too.
19th Feb 2010Read on Twitter
Mountainside Hot Chocolate
14th Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
Olympics on the Flatscreen, top of Panorama mountain
14th Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
Going fingerless on the mountain
11th Feb 2010View this picture and comment at Flickr
Qatar jet on our tail
Never seen this before - another plane followed us most of the way down accross Canada and then I saw it pull up to the terminal at JFK...
4th Nov 2009View this picture and comment at Flickr
got to love a squirrel who isn't camera shy...
The Dude himself made a satellite appearance at the latest Lebowskifest, reporting live from the set of the Tron sequel.
I attended Lebowski Fest here in Seattle last night and it was great, man. The Dude made a special "satellite appearance", apologizing for not making it since he's up in Canada doing that whole Tron revival thing. I didn't watch my friends die face down in the muck to let this picture go unviewed, so I present it to you.
Calmer than you are,
AICN has the full details.
What The Horrors first album Strange House alluded to and what Primary Colours only serves to confirm is that The Horrors are in essence a pastiche band - begging, borrowing and stealing from rock n roll’s history and then repackaging and re-releasing. Re-invention should not be considered a criticism, but you could easily have expected Primary Colours to be more of the same, a method Oasis have been executing for well over 15 years. In fact, Primary Colours is very different to its predecessor, slower, measured - and where Strange House took the Goth punk of The Cramps and blended it with the sixties psychedelic weirdness of acts such as Screaming Lord Such, the influences running through this LP are altogether different.
On hearing the introduction of opening track Mirror Image, your first reaction may be that you’ve been given the wrong album. Where are the gothic organ sounds and sixties surf bass-lines? Here you’ll hear phasing, pitch-bending distortion; and may assume you have been handed a lost My Bloody Valentine album in error. Vocalist Farris Badawan’s first appearance confirms it’s the right record - but even then his performance resembles Brett Anderson with slightly larger testicles; gone is the aggressive scowl that dominates Strange House. Unfortunately this doesn’t end with the first track and while the My Bloody Valentine motif runs through most of the album, this is unfortunately no Loveless. More like a cheap market version of MBV, doing remixes of other bands: The Cure on Mirror Image, The Psychedelic Furs on Primary Colours, or Siouxsie and the Banshees on I Can’t Control Myself.
What is lacking from Primary Colours is the energy, the aggression, the uncontained vocals and the simple but effective musicianship of Strange House. No band has an obligation to be defined by genre and it would be wrong to demand it (although I‘m tempted to say any band employing the Madchester drum break employed in Do You Remember has no right to call themselves The Horrors, EMF yes, The Charlatans maybe, The Horrors no). What disappoints most is, while they were never going to be the most original band, they were at least unique. Strange House wasn’t perfect, but it was different and refreshing, best of all it sounded like the antithesis to the entire rolling basslined, high-keyed anthems that were and are still dominating the current music scene. If Strange House was The Horrors as mavericks, this is The Horrors falling back into line - if Brandon Flowers sung Scarlet Fields, it could easily be a Killers track (remixed by the counterfeit My Bloody Valentine of course).
This is not to make Primary Colours sound like an obituary, because there are some undoubted highlights. New Ice Age, despite the over production retains its energy, I Only Think Of You is strong enough to survive the Boards Of Canada treatment and the production on I Can’t Control Myself works well. Best of all is Sea Within A Sea, the epic 8 minute closer which starts like Joy Division’s No Love Lost and ends like Portisheads The Rip (unsurprising, as Portishead’s Geoff Barrow co-produces the album).
Where Strange House compelled you to throw yourself into the mosh pit, Primary Colours encourages you to stand at the back and listen with your arms firmly folded. Some may consider this progress but it could easily alienate many existing fans. It will probably get 9/10 from the NME and be described as The Horrors ‘maturing’, if that’s true it’s them reaching adolescence, talented but unsure, full of doubt and overly influenced by their friends. Somewhere there’s a great band trying to get out, but this album leaves you confused as to whether they’re a studio or live band. At some point they’re going to have to make that decision.
Read more 3 star reviews
Comprised of members of Wolf Parade and The New Pornographers and originally operating under the name ‘Thunder Cloud’, Canada’s Swan Lake underwent a name change upon discovering their first choice was already taken (although not by Steven Segal who had already bagged ‘Thunderbox‘) and released a debut album, Beast Moans in 2006. So named, because its sound reminded band member Spencer Krug of “…a bear dying in a tar pit.” Beast Moans was a mash-up of the trio’s very differing approach to song writing, layers of melodies and styles thrown into the mix to see what came out.
With new album Enemy Mine (Named after the 80's Science Fiction film starring Dennis Quaid) the band made a more concerted effort on tighter collaboration and although certainly more pleasant on the ear than an animal dying slowly, it is still in no great hurry to be taken home and cared for. Thanks largely to the spoken/sung style of other band member Daniel Bejar (Carey Mercer makes up the trio) Enemy Mine comes across as quite abrasive on first listen. It plays out like a collection of scenes from a musical. And a musical that takes itself quite seriously to boot. Which would be ok if any of the lyrics stood out and got you thinking, but on the first few listens it just sounds like a literary stream of consciousness, this from ‘Heartswam’ being my favourite so far:
“I was coming off something particularly strong, you had your gloves on, they looked fucking brutal”.
And I say so far, because I’m convinced Enemy Mine is going to get better. It’s three creators clearly didn’t make it to be picked up on the commute to work and put down with the coffee. There’s a lot more going on here than I can take in, during the few listens I’ve had - so I’m advancing it half a star in credit from its initial 2.5 score. It’s not an album I’m desperate to adopt, but neither is it one I’m ready to throw to the tarpits. Yet.
(As a side note, they originally were going to call the album ‘Before the Law’ after a Franz Kafka parable, but were tired of being constantly referred to as ‘literary’. I thought I’d help them out with this by lowering the brow a touch with name-checks to Steven Seagal and Dennis Quaid.)Read more 3 star reviews
March Of The Zapotec & Realpeople Holland
First of all I didn't write this review for Beirut's second album The Flying Club Cup. However at the time it was written I probably would have agreed with it. I loved the first slice of Zach Condon's sound Gulag Orkestar and eagerly awaited the followup. But on its arrival I thought it was just more of the same. Well how times change, for as I write this the Flying Club Cup remains one of the most played albums in my collection and since its release in 2007 it has become one of my most treasured listening experiences. All my initial criticisms of it have fallen away, it aims at a similar point to its predecessor but via very different routs, in fact I rarely listen to Gulag Orkestar anymore and since I saw Condon's dazzling stage show at the Roundhouse I have been hovering above the Beirut camp like a bird of prey waiting for any little morsel to emanate from its walls.
So here we have the split CD March Of The Zapotec & Realpeople Holland. Some explanation is obviously needed to shed light on this more than ambiguous title. These are 2 EP's, the first is a collection of songs Condon recorded with a 19 strong Mexican band called The Jimenez Band which he found in a town called Oaxaca who's native tongue is Zapotec. The second is the total antithesis. Before launching as Beirut Condon crafted eclectic bedroom recordings through lo-fi instruments and keyboards under the name Realpeople and Holland is a collection of 5 songs that revisit this intimate process.
Judged entirely on their own merits both these EP's are as strong as anything Condon has given us before. His ability to extract regional sounds while lacing them all up with his own unique touch is seen very much on both the EP's but particularly on March. Condon is obviously conducting the band to his own rhythm and his Balkan trademark sound prevails but squeezing through the cracks is this Mexican might in all its mournful sway. In much the same way as The Flying Club Cup oozed with Parisian nostalgia March's south American grandiosity provides a melancholic warmth to the bizarre mix. Holland is a drastic change of scale and is predominantly Condon and a synthesizer. My initial criticisms of The Flying Club Cup's lack of progression would not apply to this release and Holland would be why. Condon's work has always been steeped in regional nostalgia but Holland is about technological nostalgia. His delicate programmed beats bleep with the tinny rhythm your drama teacher was so proud of in the school play or they are awash with great swathes of electronic atmosphere reminiscent of public information broadcasts in the 70's. But then on top of this you have his live musical accompaniment and the aching vocals that describe his sound. The mix is glorious and this EP contains some of the most perfect Beirut songs to date.
I speak here of the central 2 songs, Venice and The Concubine. The former is built around a wash melody straight out of the Boards Of Canada portfolio and then joined by Condon's gentle trumpet making the first half of this song a slice pure instrumental sublimity. Then as the vocals are faded in so smoothly the song grows into near perfection. The Concubine revisits Beirut's earlier sound with accordion, trumpet and gentle percussion propping up Condon's croon. It's Beirut-by-the-book but it's awesome and great to have him back. The only problem is that it's followed by a very poor piece of instrumental Euro pop that goes on way too long and closes this EP.
The problems with this whole release arise when listening to both of these as a complete entity. They don't sound like one and should really be released totally separate from one another. Thankfully they both progress Condon's sound but I must say I am slightly disappointed once again as I really really wanted a full album. But seeing as these two will be my favorite EP's in a year's time it's not much of a criticism.Read more 3 star reviews
This debut from Canada's Women is certainly a rough diamond, but a diamond none the less. Recorded in Chad Vangallen's basement using ghetto blasters and old tape decks over four months Women continue the run of infectious lo-fi music that dominated last year but lace the whole thing with the slightest hint of melody. I would describe this band as the twisted wreckage that might occur after a multi-car pile up involving Animal Collective, The Beach Boys, Liars and Times New Viking. They have the unpredictable flair of Animal Collective, the drifting harmonies of The Beach Boys but can easily turn on you like a Liars sucker-punch. The Times New Viking reference is glaringly obvious as the whole thing bristles with tape hiss and guitar wash.
But where that band take the lo-fi sound to almost impenetrable lengths Women dangle things like song structure and melody tantalizingly close to the listener that it's hard to give up on them. The opening track Cameras is just glorious with it's warm jangle easing us in but after a mere one minute the whole thing descends into Lawncare, a pulsating, hollow and thoroughly unfriendly song that puts the listener on alert from the outset. But they'll rein you back in if you ever started to wander during the hard times with 50's tinged pop of Black Rice or the breakneck jangle of Shaking Hand, a song which awkwardly shifts between tempos with some incredibly nifty guitar work. The vocals are layered and muffled and often act as yet another instrument rather than forming the backbone of the sound. The album can shift from buried yet catchy pop hooks to pastoral instrumental sound experiments like Woodbine. It can also hit you with January 8th, the most Liars influenced track here. It's a relentless barrage of off-key guitars and crashing drums. It plays in the vicinity of recognition but ultimately carves it's own route through highly avant-guard noise. And it also runs into the final track Flashlights which finishes the record off with an all out assault using every instrument going. It's pure noise and acts as a warning to anyone who was about to form an opinion about what they just heard. This is a tough record yet full of rewarding moments. It crams in so many elements and manages to cram them all in to a very unique sound.Read more 3 star reviews
Following on from last week's shocker about Paul's Boutique, here's another release that might have some chimps checking the dateline: Sci-Fi-Lo-Fi: Compiled By Rob Da Bank (Shoegazing 1985 - 2007) it's out on Soma Mar 16, but frankly, I expect most of you could probably make your own version without toooo many gaps. have to say, it mostly stands up pretty well - the Cocteau Twins remix is v good too
1. Jesus & Mary Chain "Just Like Honey"
2. Ultra Vivid Scene "Mercy Seat"
3. Dinosaur Jr. "Freak Scene"
4. Pale Saints "Sight of You"
5. Ride "Nowhere"
6. Spiritualized "If I Were With Her Now"
7. Chapterhouse "Pearl"
8. Slowdive "When The Sun Hits (Album Version)"
9. Lush "Sweetness & Light"
10. Boards Of Canada "Zoetrope"
11. Ulrich Schnauss "On My Own"
12. M83 "Teen Angst"
13. Cocteau Twins "Cherry Coloured Funk (Seefeel Mix)"
14. Maps "You Don't Know Her Name"
15. Dean & Britta "White Horses"
Borderline, London October 1st 2008
"Bryan Adams. Celine Dion. Ladyhawk. Neil Young. The Dudes." According to The Dudes lead singer Dan Vacon, two of Canada's favourite five bands are on stage tonight, and while that song Run To You was pretty good I'm going to have to agree.
As an added bonus, The War On Drugs provided last-minute support for the evening, after their European tour with the Hold Steady was cancelled. They managed to shake off their Waterboys image with some hard-rocking jams from Wagonwheel Blues stretched out into psychedelia - although they did display a tendency to drag every song on a little long. They're not quite Neil Young just yet.
The pace of the evening changed dramatically when The Dudes took to the stage, with their well travelled bar room rock lifting the atmosphere immeasurably. The band were fast and tight, power-housing their way through much of Brain, Heart, Guitar with an immensely charismatic charm. As expected, the sound of the band's slightly over-polished debut was peeled back live, to reveal a rock-loving, hard-jamming machine - with drumming like you have never seen. Best of all, the band looked like they were enjoying what they were doing, as they brought a Thin Lizzy-like honest simplicity to a raft of great tracks like Don't Talk, The Fist ("one-hand claps will do if you're holding a beer") and Dropkick Queen Of The Weekend. "In case you're wondering, white jeans and a mustache are not cool in Canada either."
Luckily we're not talking Hoxton mustache here - and I'm happy to report another entry into the "Beards+Guitar+Canada = Rock" stereotype, as Ladyhawk provided another whole level of great. "Fast and loose" doesn't mean a band can't be super-tight, as Ladyhawk powering through the best of their two albums, segueing between their own songs. "Ladyhawke is in the toilet, she'll be here in a minute" mocked singer Duffy Driediger, which probably provided an explanation for some of the bemused looking crowd. No sign of dance-pop from songs like I Don't Always Know What You're Saying and Ashtray, as this distinctly Canadian band beefed up an already great album - blending heavy rock with instantly accessible, sing-a-long song-writing.
A rousing rendition of Fear rounded out a great bill of live music, before an as-yet-unidentified encore provided a powerful end to the evening. With The Dudes down the front providing sing-a-long vocals, the band all switched places leaving Duffy Driediger to roam free and bust out his most comical Freddie Mercury-like vocal moves from the open plains of the dance floor. Awesome.
The War On Drugs - 2.5 stars
The Dudes - 3.5 stars
Ladyhawk - 4 stars
Constantines have always been a puzzling band indeed. Since their debut they have pumped out a sound that borrowed from so many staple institutions they couldn't help to please. From the punk sounds of The Clash and more recent ferocity of bands like Fugazi, Constantines have managed to fuse this with the stadium-rock ambition of Springsteen and create music that would swell with each listen. And yet none of their albums have quite hit the mark. 2005's Tournament Of Hearts comes the closest and with it came the hope of a fine tuning process that was gloriously close to fruition. Songs like the awesome Hotline Operator showed the band becoming well aware of their strengths. This year's Kensington Heights fails to capatalise on 2005's successes and is yet again a good album - but one that leaves you wanting more.
Named after the street where the band's rehearsal studio is located, Kensington Heights sees their sound heading the other way to what Tournament Of Hearts hinted at. But then it's never as easy as that with Constantines. The first half of the record is bang on target, and the second half is by no means bad, but not the full throttle you were hoping for. Opener Hard Feelings sees Bryan Webb's rasping vocals straining over hard, driving guitars and that's just where you want them. Million Star Hotel is a much more plodding pace; the beats are slow but pounding and the feeling is menacing and brooding with Webb starting to let his voice go over skyward, squealing guitars. Trans Canada is the pinnacle of these two songs and by this point you really feel like things are starting to get interesting and Constantines are beginning to hit their stride. It could be twinned with the aforementioned Hotline Operator as it simmers with hard-fought restraint as it builds its fortress on a mighty chugging beat that swirls with subtle effects. The tension is induced by the idling guitar that haunts every corner of the song like an engine ticking over outside your window. Shower Of Stones is a strange, almost spoken word ticking time-bomb that is unlike any other Constantines song and would be simply stunning if it marked the halfway point where the album disappears into a home-straight of chaotic venom.
Unfortunately it signals the opposite. Instead of summoning the spirit of Fugazi, Buffalo Tom seems to be more influential here as songs like Time Can Be Overcome and Brother Run Them Down drift by on the gentlest of breezes and show the band easing down a gear. They rarely let rip but, like watching someone feed your baby with an AK47 under his arm, their success has always involved tension and the threat of violence. They are a band who possess a great power but as a wise man once said, "with great power comes great responsibility." In my opinion Constantines' responsibility is to wield this power with the iron fist that befits them and sadly Kensington Heights does not do this to the extent that I would have liked.Read more 3 star reviews
Mark Millar's comic Kick-Ass is getting a big-screen makeover, with Superbad's McLovin' possibly in the title role - as a kid who takes his love of comics one step further and sets himself up as a superhero, with a myspace page.
Matthew Vaughn is set to direct, with shooting in Canada and the UK. Nicolas Cage is playing the retired-cop-single- father.
Mark Millar seems to be man of the moment following the big-screen adaptation of Wanted and now this. He's even been talking big about another Superman re-boot.
(dir. Paul Fox)
Post-Generation X slacker Ryan gets home to find his girlfriend and her brother moving him out of her apartment. When his father claims to have won $4.2 million on the lottery, he quits his job before realising the mistake. Luckily the Lottery Bureau hires him as a writer for "Winners" magazine and after meeting hot set-designer Ming things start to look up. However, when his parents get involved in a grow-op and he starts money-laundering for golf-course designer Bryce, life gets a little tricky.
Surprisingly engaging comedy from Douglas Coupland, transferring the un-transferrable nature of his novels onto the big screen, by writing one specifically for the big screen, even if much of it was previously covered in Coupland's book JPod (the grow-op, the Hongcouver non-influx). Here, the constant ironic nods and stream of consciousness writing assimilate nicely into the plot without ever seeming forced, and all the usual issues are covered: consumerism, aspiration, relationships, life direction... and it all comes together nicely.
The actual boards of Canada seem to have had quite a bit to do with this too - and it's an easy choice for them. While poking fun at Vancouver's flexible qualities as a film location the city is a strong silent character in the film, coming across like a pretty laid back place - which being in South-West Canada seems like a sunnier version of North-West America. The best-of-Canada soundtrack is also well worth checking out, with the likes of Black Mountain and Caribou.
The best thing about it though, is it's just like reading a new Coupland book - and it only takes 95 minutes.Read more 3.5 star reviews
The WMDs might have never turned up, but the US has just completed a mission to ship 550 tonnes of Yellowcake concentrated Uranium out of Iraq for re-processing in Canada. The Canadians will be reprocessing it into nuclear fuel, but the possibility was always there for the material to head in a more sinister direction. The Tuwaitha facility where it was shipped from was one of the hubs of the old regime's nuclear ambition, resulting in an Israeli bombing raid in 1981.
Shipping the Yellowcake out by sea was looking risky - either trekking it through the less stable south, or risking an excursion out through the Hormuz Strait and risking a run-in with the Iranians - so it was eventually shipped out in a monster airlift to Diego Garcia.
Of late it seems that any music that has really caught my imagination and got me all excited (in the way that only good new music can) has tended to have been shipped across from America or Canada. Seemingly most of the new British Made bands rising to the top seem to follow the same unremarkable formula. However, happen as it gives me great pleasure to say that this sterling album from Soe’za has only been and gone and been made by a large bunch of fertile minded people from the South West of England.
Judging by their stats the band get two thumbs up from me: 7 or 8 people (since seeing Broken Social Scene live again I’m convinced that more is more), two drummers (name me a bad band who has two drummers), a pleasant blend of his’n’her vocals (harmonious), a cello (hello), the usual bass and guitars (check), and – best of all – a French Horn that rounds the sound marvellously (nice brass).
The album has a vital and urgent intensity throughout (shown best on ‘Don’t Bother Coming Home’) which is nicely balanced by a couple of warming instrumentals with the French Horn taking centre stage. They’ve been compared to Fugazi and Deerhoof, but if that means nothing to you then what you’re looking at / listening to is, simply put, your Alternative-Art-Rock-Improv-Noisy-Punk-Indie-Post-Hardcore genre. Which sounds a lot better than it reads.
Now then, I’ll admit that I don’t always pay close attention to lyrics (I can easily like a great tune with poor lyrics, but great lyrics over a rubbish tune might well pass me by), but some of the pleasantly odd rants and rambles did stand out here. Such as on ‘Any Road’: “Peering through the glass / there is an old dear / scrutinising the cream cakes / how long will they last?”. Sadly they never reveal the sell by date, but happily there are several more moments of bizarre lyrics which, with the occasional hint of that West Country lilt, they ably pull it off where others might not.
7 Obstacles confirms that brass is underrated and underused and that there are some really interesting British bands out there drawing up their own musical blueprints. All told, happen as I think this album is tip-top and one of the most interesting I’ve heard for some time.
The Hollows EP
After the triumph that was 2005's Elephant Eyelash, Yoni Wolf emerges with a sneaky EP to wet our appetites ahead of next years Alopecia. The Hollows EP is basically a a collection of remixes and covers by the likes of Boards Of Canada, Xiu Xiu, Dntel, Half Handed Cloud and members of Yo La Tengo.
The title track is the only new song on this record and it seems to be finishing off Why?'s gradual transformation from his hip hop associations to the indie rock sound this band have been gravitating towards for some time. Why?'s hip hop links have always been tenuous due to Wolf's sing song rap style and his work with the Anticon collective has been the perfect environment to expand on this. The Hollows is an awesome taster for things to come with Wolf's vocals emerging front and centre and the rock influence moving into full effect.
Strangely enough there's two remixes here of forthcoming tracks of the Alopecia album. Boards Of Canada's remix of Good Friday is a stripped down, head nodding reconstruction that levels out the background to give Wolf's voice the intimate closeness it deserves while Dntel's re-imagining of By Torpedo Or Crohn's provides Wolf's more hip hop delivery with a soft techno lift off. Elephant Eyelash's Yoyo Bye Bye is a popular choice with versions by Xiu Xiu and Dump (James McNew of Yo La Tengo) and the whole thing ends with Islands' Nick T's cover of Wolf's previous Anticon project Reaching Quiet.
The upshot of this EP is that Why?'s 'anything goes' policy has obviously inspired this fine collection of artists to stretch their wings and together they've created material that is as good if not better than any of their own work. Having heard the remixes I'm pretty confident that next March will see the release of one of the albums of the year.Read more 4 star reviews
This Fool Can Die Now
Since a 2001 7 inch split with Songs: Ohia, Nottingham's Emma Louise Niblett has been quietly releasing records on Canada's influential Secretely Canadian, as well as the great UK label Too Pure. With her forth album, This Fool Can Die Now, she has enlisted the help of a range of colaborators - most notably Bonnie Prince Billy, who provides vocals on single Kiss and three others.
Will Oldham's fingerprints are all over this record, in more ways than voice alone and with Steve Albini handling production duties the ingredients are here for a dark and dirty mix of gothic-death-country-rock. The powerful vocals and downbeat atmosphere makes for an engaging listen, with Kiss and Nevada dredging up an chilling majesty.
While songs likes Moon Lake and the Van Morrison cover Comfort You make the most of Niblett's powerful voice and the sparse-but-loud production technique, things do get a little tired towards the end - with Yummy and single Dinosaur Egg seeming like over-trodden territory.
It can feel like if Niblett could just stay away from Oldham and Albini bad influence, meet a nice guy and settle down things might brighten up considerably. Having said that, as 2005's return of The Wedding Present proved, a bit of personal strife can be exactly what keeps the creative juices flowing.
Lynchpin of Canada's sprawling Broken Social Scene, described as indie's wu tang clan, Kevin Drew is a man who evidently has an aversion to pressure. In many ways this mindset has been the essence of the groups burgeoning reputation; but also perhaps provides an explanation as to why BSS have, thus far, failed to progress from a committed cult following and into the mainstream. The reluctance of Drew and co-founder Brendan Canning to seek the limelight is at the root of the collective's organic and diverse sound that invites contribution from a variety of Scene associates and members. BSS are a democracy of stars not a dictatorship or an autocracy. Shorn of the girls (Feist, Emily Haines and Amy Millan) and the brass 'blasters', tonight was very much the Drew show and initially suspicions were that he might not be able to step up to the plate.
Arriving on stage with one hand in his pocket and the other gripping a beer Drew made a little speech which reeked of 'getting excuses in early'. "Stop apologising" he was told by a particularly vocal heckler when observing that 'life is full of pressure. You get out of bed you feel pressure. You cook a meal you feel pressure. There's pressure to get the girl. There's pressure at work. So how about tonight we play free of pressure". Politely requesting the crowd's indulgence he explained the point of tonight's gig was to showcase and trial songs from the forthcoming album 'Broken Social Scene present's Kevin Drew's... Spirit if'. It wasn't the most auspicious start; akin to turning up to see your favourite footy team only to find out that some of the star names had been left on the bench and the rest would actually be playing rugby.
For a man with such a passionate fan base Drew's insecurity was surprising and as it turns out completely unfounded. As promised we were served up songs penned by Drew but interupted by seven of the Scene's stalwarts. Eschewing some of their tendencies towards ambience, balladry or electronica; opener 'Lucky Ones', with three guitars variously take the lead, was a statement of intent. Tonight was about rock. Continuing the earlier theme 'Farewell to the Pressure Kids' cranked up the volume before synth was finally allowed to rear it's head on 'Safety Grip'. Reviving previous obsessions with songs from love's outsiders the gig really kicked in with 'Too Beautiful to Fuck'; a tale of listening to people through hotel walls. Singalong for the fans came in the form of 'Backed Out on the Cocks' which the crowd enthusiastically embraced. Good as his word Drew continued to deliver more new tunes all of which showed potential. Much as it would be marvelous if it were otherwise it just can't be denied that nothing hits the spot in the same way as songs that have already been taken to the heart. After an hour or so the crowd were becoming slightly restless.
Buoyed by the mainly positive reception given to the new material the pressure now seemed to be off so that Drew and the boys began to relax. Rewarding the followers for their patience they stomped through 'Super-Connected'; just one of the winners the crowd had come in hope of hearing. Now on a roll 'Major Label Debut' was rattled through giving a delicate tune a new bouncy feel. Such was the reaction of the congregation to hearing the sermon that they'd yearned for from the cult leader there was still a nagging feeling that this was what the Broken Social scene can really deliver. There was a prevailing sense that tonight's show could have been something really special. Closing the set Drew was reconciled with his most fervent heckler inviting him onto the stage to waltz through the closing of 'Lover's Spit' a song so lush it could have filled the Royal Albert Hall several times over let alone a sweaty Scala. Revitalised by the crowd's enthusiasm for old favourites and now well and truly warmed up the Scene didn't want to vacate the stage but had to confess they had nothing more rehearsed. A quick conference was held to find out who knew how to play what while Brendan Canning stepped forward to point out; 'we're not going to cure any diseases tonight but we'll try to play you a song'. And what a song it was with 'Cause=Time' elevated to a tour de force.
All bode's well for the 'Spirit If' project and in fairness the Scala performance was a success but ultimately the sense was that this was a taster of what could have been. My own regret at illness forcing me to miss out on a performance last year of the whole BSS ensemble was only deepened. To slightly miss-paraphrase Smokey Robinson, sometimes a taste of honey can be worse than none at all.
Tasked with reviewing Young Marble Giants I approached the commission in just the same way as has served me well so far in my short chimpomatic career. For the uninitiated it should be explained that as well as being provided with the album the record company's PR people often forward info and biogs of the band to provide reviewers with the bigger picture. Personally, I only check the PR once I've listened to the album a few times preferring to approach it with fresh ears and guard against believing any hype. Such a tactic seems to have paid off thus far. After drawing my own conclusions I'll check for any extra detail that might explain any mysteries or ambiguities in the music and I might do some internet research checking for some kind of back-story which might put the the whole project in context. Usually it is a process that confirms initial impressions. Not in the case of Young Marble Giants.
Until I read up on Young Marble Giants I was set to say something along these lines......I've listened to Colossal Youth several times now and though its generally been an enjoyable listen I can't really see the point of them . There are a few stand out tracks such as 'Constantly Changing' and 'Music for Evenings' which with their controlled choppy riffs, aloof vocals and edgy bass showcase the groups understated and spare sound. But I'd now find it difficult to hum a single tune or recall any words. The general feel of Colossal Youth is of an early morning deserted town centre in the twilight period when revellers have headed home and the milk float and postman are yet to start their rounds. Its all a fairly solid package but nothing outstanding. It's moody but nothing on say Tricky. Its atmospheric but not in the league of Portishead. Dark but not as haunted as Joy Division. You want minimal stick with Kraftwerk. You want drum beats programmed through a synth then check out Boards of Canada. If you're after a female voice with some attitude then don't give up on PJ Harvey....you want a drone then look up Tram..... you want to be soothed go back to old school Mazzy Star or even Drugstore....you get the picture. It's hard to see how Young Marble Giants fit in and what their purpose is. I'd give it a 2 and half.
Having read up on them I now feel that I would have done Young Marble Giants a serious dis-service. It turns out this isn't new but a release of the only full length album the Welsh outfit released, all packaged in conjunction with an EP, a couple of singles and out-takes as bonus tracks. Not only that but it was all released over a quarter of a century ago. Though never popular in the mainstream these guys were a seminal act credited with influencing a generation of musicians and at the time possessed a small but dedicated and fanatical cult following. It all makes sense now. In this context Young Marble Giants are something of a revelation producing sounds so at odds to their punk contemporaries and providing a blue print for all the acts already name checked here. At the time it must have seemed that they were from another aural world and should be saluted for being so visionary. I stand by my assertion that they pale in comparison to those who have succeeded them but deserve their reputation and if you're looking for the roots of some of your lo-fi heroes then Young Marble Giants are well worth checking out.
I must admit, I've had this record for some time now but I guess I've been putting off writing any kind of review for it so I could savour that honeymoon period you get with an album before you commit your opinion to words. It's a blissfully pure period where you can react to something as special as this without having to say why. And I don't intend to say too much about why this record is so special so if you haven't heard it you're gonna have to just take my word for it.
Mansbestfriend is an alias of Anticon co-founder Sole (Tim Holland) and since 2004's The New Human Is Illegal, his first release under this name, it was clear that he had a different agenda here. The alias aims to serve the production side of Sole's talents and although the debut still contained the hard-hitting rap style that dazzled fans under his own name it was released on the largely electronic Morr Music label. So with poly.sci.187 you get the feeling that this is Sole getting about as close as he can get to his ideal. It's virtually all instrumental and it's a production master-class of the type that I never would have thought possible by such a pioneer of underground hip hop.
I say it's instrumental, but that's not entirely true. It's definitely the sound of a rapper who's got tired of his own voice so instead he has filled the songs with a whole variety of vocal samples that all serve to express the heavy political viewpoint of this man. The album opens with a quote from the famous anarchist Emma Goldman and from there we get all manner of sound-bites from a young boy pleading for peace in his homeland of Lebanon to a curious vintage recording of Wheel Of Fortune broadcasting live from the New Orleans Superdome. All of this is smothered in the richest production since Boards Of Canada. Each beat is gently coaxed out of organic textures and surrounded by all sorts of fuzz and static. It has a melancholic nostalgia that is both unsettling and strangely comforting like looking at old film footage of your grandparents as children. It's this duality that makes it so special. It can wrap you in its wooly static warmth but while you're in there you get a pretty disturbing image of the world past and present.
Team Chimpomatic are back from the snowy slopes of Canada, all present and correct..... with only a few bruised ribs and a black eye to show for it. Highlight of the trip has to be C71 taking up the open mic for an acoustic rendition of Jump, riding high on the wave of 11 pitchers of glacier beer.
Left to right: MP, C71, BC, CSF.
Warp’s press release would have you believe this latest offering from Clark is “astonishing, spectacular, and unpredictable", which it arguably is - though the 6 fairly short tracks left me slightly disappointed and wanting more. Alongside this audio release is apparently a ¨sinisterly engrossing¨ video, but without having the privilege of seeing it I felt I was only getting half of the experience (You can now see it here). The tracks are cleverly put together with a myriad of beautiful richly textured sounds. The EP has a very narrative feel but really does sound like the soundtrack to a film. The stand out track is Bibio’s remix of title track Ted, reminiscent of the otherworldly Durutti Column - easy to see why Boards of Canada are amongst his fans.
I would probably only add this to my collection if I had the vdu on all the time when I played music for the full experience, if I owned a really trendy clothes shop that I could play it in, or was an Elevator DJ.
Clark will be embarking on a grand UK and European tour between February and April 07 and if Warp sends me some tickets for this I would gladly go as I think the whole show opposed to just the audio would be all the things that the press release says this EP should have been.
More Misty Mountain Hop
1st Mar 2007View this picture and comment at Flickr
Bear Chimp Spotted
1st Mar 2007View this picture and comment at Flickr
Chimpomatic Snow Team
1st Mar 2007View this picture and comment at Flickr
1st Mar 2007View this picture and comment at Flickr
1st Mar 2007View this picture and comment at Flickr
After a slow start the snow is starting to fall (heavliy) in Canada... and (thankfully) in Europe, which was looking like a black-ice hell. I've got ants in my pants to hit the slopes soon.
The Chimpomatic world tour of Canada kicks off in the first week of February, and all named chimps are invited. To get you in the mood for a fate worse than a fate worse then death, check out the trailer for First Descent. Totally cheesy, but totaaaaaly ossssuuuum duuuuuuude!
Imagine if you can: it's the year 2040 and the music scene is in a state of crisis. RnB rules the charts and is all that's allowed to be played on the radio. Since the earliy naughties the hip hop section of the record store became known as 'Urban' and most rap albums had to incorporate some form of RnB just to make sales. Artists such as Common and Kanye West who were targeted by the RnB militia to spread this evil seed in the hip hop community eventually buckled under the pressure and stopped recording altogether. Rumor has it that Common was set to release an album called Strictly Hip Hop but it never saw the light of day due to death threats to his family. So the genre formerly known as Hip Hop disappeared from the public's view completely. But an underground resistance refused to die out and continued to filter quality beats to those in need. There was a great war and the resistance was nearly quashed so in order to put an end to this they developed a group of cyborgs known as The Anti Pop Consortium and sent them back to the year 1985. Their mission was to kill a little boy called Craig David who would go on to popularize RnB in Europe. The mission was accomplished but unfortunately made absolutely no difference to the future at all. The resistance analyzed the growth of RnB and noticed that instead of it being attributed to the evil of one person it was born out of the apathy and boredom of the world at large. So a new plan was formed and a new cyborg crafted, better, stronger, faster. His name was Cadence Weapon.
Canada was selected as the best place to start this attack as the glare of the RnB Eye was firmly focused on America and Britain. Sent back to the year 2005 he unleashed his first wave of destruction, a devastating mixtape called Cadence Weapon Is The Black Hand and then so as not to give the RnB militia time to recover he hit them again in 2006 with Breaking Kayfabe, a collection of hip hop cuts so strong and so forceful that it sent shock waves throughout the world. Breaking Kayfabe (Kayfabe being the Resistance code for RnB scum) was designed using the original blue prints of The Anti Pop Consortium mission. The sound was hard and electronic so as to allow no fertile ground for the RnB 'Good Singing' germ to grow. This new model of machine was equipped with enough skills to become a one man army and the whole Breaking Kayfabe project was crafted by Cadence Weapon himself, from the sterile, impenetrable and chest-stomping beats to the venomous lyrics spat out with such force and machine-like precision.
For a while the enemy was crippled due to the force of this attack but they soon regrouped and retaliated with a double fist. Both Lamar and Usher released records of such dazzling vocal beauty that the world was gripped by their evil tales of perfect love making. Luckily Cadence Weapon's arrival was strong enough to wake many hip hop warriors, including Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J, from their RnB sleep and the war was won. RnB was forever kept under wraps being confined to young girls and those genuinely gifted at love making. There was a brief uprising in France but that was no biggy.
The facts: Cadence Weapon is 19, from Canada and this album is really, really good. Best bits: Oliver Square, Black Hand and 30 Seconds. There's no stopping this kid, it's what he does, it's all he does.
For Hero: For Fool
I haven't heard a hip hop album this original since the last Subtle album. Formed in 2001 by Anticon's Jel (Jeffrey Logan) and Doseone (Adam Drucker) Subtle took their time getting started. After a few singles and 2 EP's, Summer and Autumn, they finally got around to their debut full length in 2004. A New White was a multi layered musical masterpiece that vaguely clung to the fringes of hip hop fusing programmed and live beats, with electronics, strings and Dose's expertly delivered vocals. Their stage show was equally magnificent with a white top hat and tails clad Dose springing around the band like a court jester possessed. While on tour in 2005 their bus skidded off the road paralyzing keyboardist Dax Pierson from the chest down. It seems a small miracle this album was ever made due to the seriousness of Pierson's injuries not to mention the fact that much of the harmonica and backing vocals come from Dax himself.
But thankfully it was made - as it's yet another forward thinking piece of Anticon splendor. Since the demise of cLOUDDEAD and Themselves, and with Deep Puddle Dynamics being less than productive Subtle has become the main vehicle for Doseone to flex his outstanding lyrical muscle and with Jel on beats, Marty Dowers on woodwind, Jordan Dalrymple on guitar, Alex Kort on cello and the afore mentioned Pierson, Subtle's sound is textured to say the least. The key to their success is their grasp of contrast, light and dark, blur and focus, chiaroscuro if you will. Their multi layering of samples, instruments and sometimes indecipherable spoken and sung vocals create a pea soup like fog of sound that is then punctuated by its opposite. Sharp beats and Doseone's acutely pronounced prose spring from this fog at a thrilling pace but never become formulaic, quite the opposite. Much of Subtle's music is confusing and can often make the listener feel as if he is involved in a private conversation of which he knows nothing about, the music never goes where you think it will and although the theme of human pointlessness and the general decay of society is graspable the delivery is often in the form of surreal word play that moves on quicker than you can keep up.
As a whole For Hero: For Fool adopts the same contrasting form that each song does. A Tale Of Apes I & II usher in the fog with the use of post rock mush, Boards Of Canada style nostalgia-synth and Kraftwerk electro pop while Middleclass Stomp swamps you with it's glorious power-cord pop. The three main points of sharp focus are the hip hop extravaganza of Midas Gutz, the unashamedly danceable The Mercury Gaze and the jaw dropping Return Of The Gaze. Here Jel lays down the most complex beat of clicks, scratches and stabs with Doseone's rapping coming in softly at a pace that defies comprehension, he never misses a beat, he doesn't even breathe. His nasal delivery seems to take on the same properties as the electronic, stop-start beat and an accompaniment of gentle acoustic guitar and brushed cymbals culminating in wailing guitar and crashing drums makes this the finest moment on the album. Vocal dexterity is Dose's forte and when put with Jel's masterful grasp of the textured beat the result is an aural delight.
Hip Hop was born from the deconstruction and reassembling of other genres and for that reason remains one of the most versatile music forms. It's creative perimeters are huge. There is nothing it can't borrow, steal or sample. This scope is expressed perfectly in the music of Subtle who seem to see no limits to how far they can stretch this genre. In the hazy, surreal fog of For Hero: For Fool boundaries and classifications are simply not visible.
Loney, Dear is the brain child of Sweden's Emil Svanangen and this outfit is often described as the one man band with nine members. Whatever that means is a mystery but it does go some way to describe the sound of Sologne. Loney, Dear's blend of DIY indie-pop and lo-fi folk brings to mind solo artists like Stina Nordenstam or Mugison, but the rich tapestry of sounds that is woven around his most delicate of lyrics could be compared to experimental indie kids Grandaddy. All of these comparisons only go a fraction of the way to describe the originality and arresting beauty of this album.
From the first two songs you would be forgiven for thinking that this was yet another record of oh-so-chart friendly, run of the mill, male singer/songwriter crap but wait until you hear The City, The Airport and if you have any heart at all you will reevaluate your earlier judgments, discard your heavy robes of cynicism and jump head first into Sologne's warm waters. It starts of with a cheap casio synth beat overlaid with Svanangen's musings of "the city, I don't want another life that's killing me," then expands like a great bird into a cacophony of instruments, backing vocals, wails, shouts, you name it. It's the childlike equivalent of Radiohead's Let Down and rises and rises with such effortless grace that you want it to go higher and higher. And from here on in it's pure quality. Le Fever is a lonely, melancholic tale but continues the swell of emotion with increasing instrumental textures. Come to think of it, they all do. Songs like In With The Arms creep in with gentle folk sadness then slowly rise to a tearful euphoria with lines like, "Off with the boards, off with what's keeping you down, in with the arms." It's quite exhausting as each song starts you low then lifts you up. We get a little break with the Money Mark style instrumental organ ditty of Grekerna, then the final euphoric blow is dealt in the form of I Lose It All. It's a shame this doesn't end the album as it reaches heights way higher than any thing else as it ticks along at a steady pace then eventually explodes into a piano heavy, drum pounding, Rocky running up the steps glorious piece of crescendo magic that will leave you hands in the air and eyes to the sky wasted.
I do hope I'm not building this up too much but it's just such an honest piece of music akin in charm and emotion to Sunset Rubdown's Shut Up I Am Dreaming and each song on Sologne could be the closing soundtrack to a desperately sad film but as you dry your eyes it's genuine beauty reassures you that everything's gonna be alright. If last year was the year to look to Canada for the best in indie music then in 2006 Sweden is launching a typically Scandinavian counter attack. It's restrained, measured yet unfathomable in its quality and creativity. My only fear is that this quality could easily be undone by a Vodafone advert and then I would have to disown this album. Providing this doesn't happen, Sologne may just make my 'best of 2006' list.
Earlier this year the Radiohead drought we had all been experiencing was finally over as they announced a massive tour and speculation about a new album was up and running. The shows were dazzling and many new songs were showcased, but talk of a new album was soon silenced when we were told not to expect anything until next year. Then, on their message board, Thom Yorke floated the certainty of a forthcoming collection of things he had been working on with past producer Nigel Goodrich and tongues were wagging furiously once more. He was quick to forbid any mention of the word 'solo' when talking about 'The Eraser' and stressed it was a collection of laptop ditties he had been working on for years and didn't spell the end for Radiohead.
And so here we have it, Thom Yorke's not-solo, solo record. And what a puzzling little thing it is too. I wasn't expecting to be treated to glorious, euphoric, acoustic gems from the master of guitar song writing, I knew it was a laptop affair and so I think I expected The Gloaming, the wonderful beat/click excursion on Hail To The Thief. As it turns out we get none of the above. Instead 'The Eraser' is a collection of 9 very minimal, stark and unforgiving experiments. I must admit to having a hard time with this album at first. I was so excited about it's release and had formed expectations. After the first few listens I thought it was shallow, thin, lazy and lacked not just the grandeur but the immediacy and urgency of Radiohead's recent stuff. None of Radiohead's albums are perfect and they always manage to include a song that goes nowhere and lets the side down (a Frank Lampard if you will.) 'The Eraser' seemed full of such songs and appeared to have been released far too soon and needed a lot more work. But then I started to think of it as more of an artist's sketch book, a place and opportunity where the artist can experiment with style and content and not be burdened with the need to finish or resolve any ideas, a place where he can touch on more personal themes and opinions as if these creations were private and never meant for exposure. I then started to see it differently and although it is far from perfect it has something that Radiohead can never produce.
The title track starts the proceedings off on a rather low-key manner with a soft beat skittering around a repeated piano cord. Yorke's vocals are equally as soft and seem to float over the ever more layered backing arrangement. The lyrics take on the Morrissey like structure of 'The more you try to erase me, the more that I appear,' there is a slight pause then the song drifts back in with a beautiful subtlety that is often seen throughout this album. Analyse is one of the more successful, beat driven songs that follows with Yorke reflecting on the role we play in this life stating, "it gets you down/you're just playing a part."
The Clock has all the makings of the kind of material I had expected from this album, starting off with Yorke's now trademark beatboxing, for want of a better word, the sort of noises and grunts he makes over the beat as he is getting himself into the zone. A rolling bassline and a beat that threatens to build progressively caries us away with the doom-ridden vocals of 'Time is running out for us.' and yet takes us nowhere and builds to nothing. This is quite often the case for many of the songs and on the first few listens is very annoying. As soon as he has established the melody and promised you so much the tempo is sustained and then ends.
The closest this album comes to a single is Black Swan, which is to be used on the new Richard Linklater animation A Scanner Darkly. I am surprised at this choice as it is one of the weakest songs. A rather unimaginative beat accompanies the repeated vocal "this is fucked up." Unfortunately this heralds the low part of the album with the turkey 'Skip Divided' bumbling along with monotonous mumblings labouring over empty beats and terrible lyrics. "I'm a dog, I'm a dog, I'm your lap dog/ I just need my number and location."
The quality is resumed however with the beautiful Atoms For Peace. This song has a slightly different feel to it than the rest of the album. I would hesitate to be so shallow and say that it hints at a more positive outlook but the Boards Of Canada type woolly beats and fuzz that accompany the uncharacteristically sweet vocals create a strange kind of nostalgia and almost lullaby feel.
This airy feeling is literally washed away as we move on to And It Rained All Night. The now familiar curtain of doom once again descends and the sinister synth washes are slapped on thick. Yorke is clearly getting accustomed to his new instrument and as he layers samples, twitches, and booming bass to create the nervous apprehension that precedes an approaching wave. Here we see Yorke's environmental concerns and fears and are reminded of Stanley Donwood's woodcut cover image that depicts King Canute trying to hold back a giant wave. This is one thing that I was glad to see in these songs. Although they are much simpler in construction than any Radiohead song they can be interpreted in many different ways. The have very obvious political messages and yet can be seen on a much smaller scale to be about more personal fears and emotions to do with love and relationships, a theme we have not seen much of since The Bends.
Harrowdown Hill is probably the high point of this album and yet the lowest point in terms of mood. On this song Yorke has manages to create one of the saddest and heart wrenching songs of his career. It is sung from the point of view of someone who has clearly died in suspicious and tragic circumstances and with a deep sense of regret he speaks his parting words to those he is leaving behind. This feeling is overwhelming and only amplified when we find out that the song is in fact about the tragic suicide of government scientist Dr. David Kelly. Harrowdown Hill is the Oxfordshire woods where his body was found in 2003 and with the lyrics "You will be dispensed with when you become inconvenient," Yorke is, for the first time, not mincing his words. This all contributes to the general and important point to note, that this is not a Radiohead album and the sooner you understand this the sooner you start to get it and enjoy it. This took me some time and for a while was very disappointed with what I was hearing. Harrowdown Hill is a prime example of a far more direct approach to what Thom has to say. It's as if his band has become too big to really spell it out and he is using this opportunity to let us know what he thinks. It doesn't always work but when it does, as on Harrowdown Hill, it is electrifying. Thom Yorke's work has flaws but that is what makes it so compelling - and this is no exception.
Shut Up I Am Dreaming
Whoever said the best music is being made in Canada is such a bore. We have all known that for ages, and here is some more evidence. Sunset Rubdown is a spin off group, fronted by Wolf Parade’s keyboardist and vocalist Spencer Krug and it's a little gem of an album. Krug’s distinctive voice makes this very comparable to Wolf Parade, but it’s a much more low-fi and immediate affair. Having said this the band manages to create such epic masterpieces out of next to nothing. Sparse, stripped down songs like Us Ones In Between plod along with such delicate beauty, and the contrast of seemingly cheapskate instruments overlaid with some of the most profoundly sad and insightful lyrics I have heard in a long time is powerful to say the least. Creatures great and small are a common theme on this album, lyrics like “I have heard of creatures who eat their babies/I wonder if they stop to think about the taste” are then reversed to say “Oh baby mother me before you eat me.” The Empty Threats Of Little Lord is another gem that echoes this sentiment, where “If I ever hurt you it will be in self-defence,” and “If you ever come at me I’ll hurt you,” are seen in a different more pathetic light when considering the songs title. Again, they follow such a delicate structure that it almost threatens to collapse under its own frail melancholy.
The lyrics to each song could be read as a book of poems and would still retain their impact and profundity when removed from the music. They create an almost dream like landscape of wild creatures and lovers that live forever. On the epic seven minute long The Men Are Called Horsemen, Krug structures the whole song around the horse metaphor stating “If I was a horse I’d have bricks in my mane, If I was a horse I’d throw up the reins." But then continues on to claim “But I am no horse and you are no angel.” Another seven-minute masterpiece brings this unexpected delight to a close with the title track Shut Up I’m Dreaming, which is what I would advise you tell people if they talk over this album. It is worth dedicating time to this.
Recently, I saw a poll of the best lyrics in modern pop music. I think the winner was a Morrissey lyric, and it got me thinking about the content of a lot of the songs that structure my life. To my surprise I found that though they were songs of undeniable genius, very few of the lyrics really stood up to scrutiny once taken away from the music. This isn’t always necessary but it’s great when you come across some that do. I strongly recommend looking these songs up and reading them as poetry, you won’t be sorry.
This reminded me of the 'fuck' Holden Caulfield keeps seeing.
20th Mar 2006View this picture and comment at Flickr
One of the best things about Canada is the fact that The Kids In The Hall is on every night. In fact most TV in Canada seemed to date from 1994, which generally was not a good thing. Luckily we brought our own entertainment in the form of Marx Brothers movies on DVD. Hear Harpo speak here.
This post is coming live from B.C, Canada, where chimp75 and marmot are hitting the slopes. Literally in marmot's case. The snow is good and weather is fine, but the crowds over the weekend were way bigger than previous trips... due to it being 'spring break'. The weekend warriors were in full effect.
Things will also hotting up in the natural heated outdoor spa later, followed by some live music in the Kicking Horse Saloon later tonight.
Updates are brought to you courtesty of the coffee shop, which now has wifi and Wilco playing on the stereo.
As part of a John Peel Day, New Order, The Fall, Super Furry Animals, Laura Cantrell, Jawbone, Misty in Roots and Venetian Snares are playing queen elizabeth hall, 12 oct. looks like it's already sold out though. there are another 300 gigs across the UK, as well as events in Spain, Germany, Italy, USA, Holland, New Zealand and Canada on the actual day, 13th oct though.
World Tour of Canada 2005
Canadians like monster trucks. Chimps like trucks with ears.
25th Feb 2005View this picture and comment at Flickr
A Chimpomatic World Tour of Canada went unreported earlier this month, due to an utter lack of internet access - or shrapnel to operate a coin-op internet 'booth'. The situation has now been recified with a movies and snaps update to the surveillance page.
The crowd joins in for a raucous 'Under The Bridge'
World Tour of Canada 2005
30th Jan 2005View this picture and comment at Flickr
A grizzly Thom Yorke does 'Karma Police'
World Tour of Canada 2005
30th Jan 2005View this picture and comment at Flickr
Managed to while away some time on the worlds most tedious flight (tiny seat + shit tv) by digesting some of my recent music acquisitions. The soundtrack to Lost In Translation is rating particularly well. Kevin Sheilds, Jesus & Mary Chain etc. Got to agree with Emerald Daze ( www.evergreendaze.com) that a late eighties goth/indie revival is imminent.
For once however, I think thats a good thing. The general indie types of our age seem to be moving in the movie/cultural mainstream and dragging their influences with them. Hopefully with a bit more hard work and less holidaying I might do the same.
For the record however, Ive been into them ages