Saturday, 19 June 2010

Sonic Boom - Spectrum

Sonic Boom's first solo album after leaving Spacemen 3 continues in pretty much the same vein, and has some really great stuff on it. The kind of wasted-on-drugs/gospel vein runs through virtually all of Sonic and Jason's work, borrowing liberally from blues music (Lonely Avenue); although in this case the presentation is pretty lo-fi, with drum machines and trashy organ accompanying the fuzz and reverb guitar. The formula is often incredibly simple, as on 'You're the one' - a simple riff is repeated, and the layers of fuzz guitar/organ are gradually turned up until the tune is rocking nicely. The only track that deviates slightly is my favourite track on the album, a masterpiece, and a worthy successor to 'How Does It Feel' from 'Playing With Fire'. It has a flotation tank feel, with a heartbeat-like pulse, some guitar loops, and distantly spaced keyboards. Occasional descending bass notes, chimes, and some brilliant use of reverse echo embellish this moody yet blissful track. It really does evoke the feeling of someone drifting off this mortal coil in an incredibly smashed state.
I saw Sonic Boom perform this a couple of years back - it was pretty special, even though his vocals haven't really improved over the years ( I like them for what they are). I can also recommend seeing the current incarnation of Spectrum. I saw them last year and they were excellent: it was a joy to behold excellent live versions of 'Transparent Radiation' and 'Revolution'. I was lucky enough to see Spacemen 3 once, and I must have seen virtually every spin off band since, including Spectrum in 1990, and even The Darkside. I seem to recall that Sonic supported My Bloody Valentine at ULU, accompanied by some bloke with a harmonica.


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Chronomad - Chronomad ep

A rather lovely 4 track ep from 2003 on the Alien Transistor label. These are 4 tracks with a sombre beauty, driven along by tuned ethnic percussion which keeps a driving rhythm, but also manages to be intricate and intriguing. The ep was co-produced with Markus and Micha Acher from The Notwist by Saam Schlamminger, a Turkish born student of eastern music. This accounts for the excellent complex rhythms, and the understated, moody use of melody. The second track 'Sabs' is a brilliant combination of twisting percussion loops and the half-obscured sounds of a dusky bazaar - a use of ethnic music samples that could not possibly be further from cheese. Shady strings surge and retreat as a rhythm is picked out on an Oud-sounding instrument. Although the native drums are played, they are also manipulated with some chopping and timestretching, and although the tunes elicit a kind of sweetly doleful ambience, this is good head-nodding gear.


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Boredoms - Chocolate Synthesizer

Another band I saw recently, although their current incarnation sounds quite different to this album from 1994. They currently play with varying amounts of drummers (7 the other night), and churn out a kind of bludgeoning performance art space rock. Main man Yamatsuka Eye had a pretty cool multi-necked guitar totem thing, which he would bong occasionally with his wand.
Ideally the picture of this would be here, and not at the top, but I can't get blogger to upload pictures where I want them to go, which fits in nicely with the general air of retardation that imbues this album. It's full of greasy mong-riffs and guttural imprecations, screaming derangement, bursts of noise, hardcore style rock outs and general freakish lunacy. Probably best not listened to with a raging hangover, at all other times this is great fun, and often hilarious - generally for the nutty vocals: 'Smoke 7' is a particular favourite. The cover gives a good impression of the music, prompting the question 'What the fuck is going on?'


Thursday, 3 June 2010

Dungen - Ta Det Lungt

I'm posting this while the experience of seeing Dungen live 3 nights ago is still fresh, even though I'm sure I will remember it for a long time. They were absolutely fantastic - tight when appropriate, and jamming marvellously. They absolutely nailed the sound of this album, with it's hazy sheen of reverb and sun-drenched psychedelic atmosphere. The songs on this album are terrific, adding harmonies and a unique folky element which is perhaps a result of the groups Swedish origins.
Dungen are the brainchild of Gustav Estes, who writes and produces, as well as playing sundry instruments (it was great to see a bit of flute playing live!), but this incarnation of the band has been playing together for a few years, and the live sound they generate must contribute in some way to the songwriting process now. Not least the scintillating guitar playing of Reine Fiske, who is an acid rock maestro - one of those guys who knows his instrument (a well battered strat), amp and effects inside out - it was awesome to be stood right next to him by the side of the stage the other night.
This 2004 album is a glorious introduction: go to Dungen's website for mp3s of lots of rare and obscure non-album tracks, including some epic jams.


06/09/2010 - a Dungen live alert for those in London - they are playing at the Islington Academy on November 16th - get yourselves down there!