Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs on the interweb and I’m just sharing the wealth.

Should you have any Questions, Comments, Ideas, Re-up Requests or just general straight forward Requests post them in the relevant comments boxes and I’ll get back to you.

Sunday

Coming Up For Air


The spiky aspirations of their debut album and first few singles notwithstanding, Penetration were always a more convincing hard rock band than most punks gave them credit for. The glee with which they unveiled a twin-guitar line-up, the faith they placed in songs with titles like "She Is the Slave" and "Shout Above the Noise," and, if hindsight be the guide, the accuracy with which they predicted the entire New Wave of British Heavy Metal outbreak; all these things place Penetration in a very different bag to that they normally wriggle around in. Guitarist Fred Purser went on to form the Tygers of Pan Tang. That should tell you everything. Released in late 1979, their second album, Coming Up for Air, is the sound of the group embracing that destiny. Critically pummelled at the time and often overlooked thereafter, it is a far cry from the scratchy urchins who unleashed "Don't Dictate" a mere year earlier, a rip-roaring, riff-heavy leviathan that places its focus on Purser and Neale Floyd's wailing guitars, then layers Pauline Murray's banshee-bark vocals atop of them. Unfortunately, in ripping apart the punk formbook, Penetration also tore up their song writing manual. Without exception, the eleven songs on the original album are uniformly leaden, while two live bonus tracks merely amplify the band's lumpen metal pretensions. Only "Danger Signs," one of the three bonus tracks and the band's last memorable single, stands proud.

Friday

Seventeen Seconds


It's hard to believe that the Cure could release an album even sparser than Three Imaginary Boys, but here's the proof. The line-up change that saw funkstery bassist Michael Dempsey squeezed out in favour of the more specific playing of (eventually the longest serving member outside Robert Smith) Simon Gallup, and the addition of keyboardist Mathieu Hartley resulted in the band becoming more rigid in sound, and more disciplined in attitude. While it is not the study in loss that Faith would become, or the descent into madness of Pornography, it is a perfect precursor to those collections. In a sense, Seventeen Seconds is the beginning of a trilogy of sorts, the emptiness that leads to the questioning and eventual madness of the subsequent work. Mostly forgotten outside of the unforgettable single "A Forest," Seventeen Seconds is an even, subtle work that grows on the listener over time. Sure, the Cure did better work, but for a new line up and a newfound sense of independence, Robert Smith already shows that he knows what he's doing. From short instrumental pieces to robotic pop, Seventeen Seconds is where the Cure shed all the outside input and became their own band.

Wednesday

Warpainting


"Undertow" was one of the highlights from Warpaint's debut album The Fool, and it still describes and defines their sneakily captivating approach and appeal. Their songs circle around themselves like smoke, creating a seductive haze. On Warpaint, the band gives more shape to that haze without sacrificing any of its delicate beauty, an effect echoed by the layered, mirage-like photos of Chris Cunningham's gorgeous artwork. The album arrives four years after The Fool, during which time the women of Warpaint concentrated on connecting with each other as a band. The results are a group that sounds more cohesive and more adventurous, whether it's on the dub-tinged bassline on "Hi," the lounge-y drums on "Go In," or "Drive"'s bubbly electronic percussion. Similarly, Warpaint's bigger, more polished sound emphasizes that at their best, this band can set a mood like few others. Many of these songs beg to be played by candlelight, particularly the swooning former single "Love Is to Die" and "Biggy," where Theresa Wayman's vocals float above the dense drones of her bandmates. Still, Warpaint is at its best when there's some tension amidst its misty sounds. There's a raw frankness and hunger to the band's sensuality on "Teese" and "CC" (where Wayman purrs "Give me more/I haven't had this before") that gives a much-needed edge to their gossamer music. There's an undeniably darker cast to these songs than on Warpaint's previous releases, even on seemingly uplifting songs like "Feeling Alright," where a poignant melody gives its witchy pop an achingly romantic feel akin to Blonde Redhead. Not all of the band's efforts to give their music more structure work ("Disco//Very"'s shrilly chanted vocals and droning repetition aren't as bold as they could be or as transporting as the rest of the album) but when they do, it makes their music more immediate and more haunting. Expansive and enveloping at the same time, this set of songs puts Warpaint's past and future in perfect balance; one of the best things a band can do on their second album.

Monday

An Exercise In Tension


John Elliott began his musical career as the drummer with Nashville punk rock outfit Cloverbottom. Named after a local state-run home for handicapped children, the band released Nashville's first indie rock record, the “Anarchy In The Music City” EP in 1980. Elliott later experimented with electronic percussion as a member of the Actuals (later known as Factual), but got fed up with the stagnant Nashville rock scene. Elliott moved to Chicago in 1982, where he made important friendships with producer Martin Hannett (Joy Division, New Order) and Ministry member Paul Barker. Returning to his native Nashville in 1985, Elliott served as best man at Hannett's wedding, luring the producer into the studio to work on Dessau's first 12” EP, “Red Languages”. With veteran Nashville rockers Skot Nelson (guitars) and Mike Orr (bass), Dessau would release a series of dance-oriented 12” EPs through the latter half of the '80s, including “Happy Mood” in 1986. The 1988 “Mad Hog” 12” EP featured a remix of the minor dance hit "Unshakeable" by Ministry's Al Jourgensen. Both Jourgensen and Paul Barker would contribute to a 1988 cover of Joy Division's "Isolation" which would become Dessau's dancefloor breakthrough. A full-length album, “Exercise In Tension” produced by Giles Reaves and including "Isolation” would follow in 1989. Dessau stirred great respect in some circles. The circles just never grew big enough to acquire a lasting legacy.

Sunday

I’m Stranded (Again)

Released in September 1976, (I'm) Stranded was the first independently produced rock record in Australia, beating all the British punks onto vinyl. Until very recently in Brisbane, it was still possible to visit the decrepit building on Petrie Terrace and stand in front of the fireplace on top of which the words "(I’m) Stranded" were once daubed in red letters.
It’s not quite where Australian punk rock was born; that, arguably, happened a little further down the road, in The Saints’ rehearsal room on the corner of Milton Road, not far from the Castlemaine XXXX brewery. Club 76, they called it. But The Saints had been going for a few years by then, since mid-1973, by guitarist Ed Kuepper’s reckoning.
Being first can be an overrated virtue but, in The Saints’ case, it needs to be stated over and over again. (I’m) Stranded, which appeared on the band’s own Fatal label in September 1976 (the same month the 100 Club in London held a festival featuring a colourful assortment of new bands including the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned) was the first independently produced rock single in Australia.
In doing so, it beat all of the English punk bands, as well as Sydney’s Radio Birdman, onto plastic. The one band they didn’t beat was the Ramones, a fact Kuepper was crushed by: when he first heard the debut album by the New York pinheads a few months earlier, he knew everyone would see The Saints – a bunch of teenagers from provincial Queensland, fronted by singer Chris Bailey – as the copyists.
At that point, the state was still under the tyrannical thumb of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and, in no small way, (I’m) Stranded helped kick off a social revolution, at least in Brisbane. At the time, though, The Saints had little choice but to leave. Copies of the single soon landed in England, where it was ecstatically received. Sounds magazine dubbed it “single of this and every week”.
It must have sounded like an emergency telegram from a lost land. Such is (I'm) Stranded’s urgency, there’s no time for a guitar solo (the B-side, which actually was called No Time, did have a solo – of one whole note). True to its lyrics, much of the song was written on a midnight train and, whether intended or not, the central idea of being marooned came to stand for something bigger.
It’s one of punk’s many ironies that the London offices of EMI, desperate to claw back lost credibility after sacking the Pistols in the wake of their infamous expletive-flecked confrontation with Bill Grundy, instructed their baffled representatives in Sydney to sign The Saints post-haste in the wake of (I'm) Stranded. The band immediately recorded their debut album, also titled (I’m) Stranded, over a weekend.
That album was later described by England’s Dreaming author Jon Savage as “up there in punk Valhalla with Ramones and Raw Power”. But The Saints never fitted the punk straitjacket. When they arrived in England in May 1977, they were aghast to find EMI were designing a “Saints suit” for them: lime-green shirts and spiky hair all around.
Bailey’s tousled mop remained in place, and the band went on to make two more brilliant albums, Eternally Yours and Prehistoric Sounds, before imploding. Both records featured extensive use of a brass section, a move that won them few friends in a scene that regarded Never Mind the Bollocks as a blueprint, but which dramatically expanded the band’s sound.
Having kicked the door open, The Saints soon found themselves back out on the footpath. Kuepper returned to Australia and formed the radical post-punk band Laughing Clowns, while Bailey stayed in Europe, kept the name and pursued a much more traditional path towards heartland rock and mainstream success: But (I’m) Stranded has remained a touchstone – perhaps a millstone – the perpetually sparring Kuepper and Bailey would always be identified with.

This Perfect Day


Not much fanfare for this quick post. A trio of singles from Australia’s The Saints circa their debut album (I’m) Stranded.




Saturday

The Young Gods


Even if the uniqueness of the Young Gods' sample-based compositional and playing method of heavy rock wasn't a question, the band's debut would still have caught many a discerning ear. While not consistently strong throughout, this self-titled effort has far more hits than misses to its overall credit. Admittedly, things start off a touch underwhelmingly while a dark mood is immediately established with "Nous De La Lune," with low tolling bell sounds, brutal drumming, riff slabs and Treichler's harsh barking of French lyrics, fans of Einsturzende Neubaten and the Swans both would have found much on offer fairly obvious (certainly the fact that ex-Swans member Roli Mosimann has consistently worked with the band throughout its career as producer and collaborator forced the comparison early on, as did the fact the Young Gods named themselves after a Swans song and album). "Jusqu'au About" takes a far catchier, though hardly poppier turn, and from then on occasional musical cul-de-sacs are shadowed by a series of raging, fierce numbers, with classical and metal guitar samples firing off at each other over stiff drumming throughout. Total standouts include "Jimmy," "Feu," "Si Tu Gardes" and the band's definitive early tune, "Envoye," a barely two-minute-long explosion of percussion, gunshots, a roughly abbreviated hair metal riff and an amazing rant from Treichler. The joker in the pack: a string-sample led version of Gary Glitter's "Did You Miss Me?," aka "Hello Hello (It's Good to be Back)."

Friday

Tones On Tail (Re-Upped)

If you're a Bauhaus fan, then Tones On Tail are probably already on your radar as they were the brainchild of Bauhaus’s guitarist Daniel Ash (vocals, guitar, synths, sax, hair spray) along with school friend and Bauhaus roadie Glen Campling (bass, keyboards).  They formed in 1982 and when Bauhaus imploded in 1983 Kevin Haskins joined TOT on drums.
Tones on Tail always struck me as being a release valve for Daniel Ash.  Bauhaus were dark and intense whereas Tones On Tail is light and frothy – almost poppy – but always challenging and edgy.  Think pop music by David Lynch.  They didn’t last long; a clutch of singles and a solitary studio LP… plus about 30 compilations all mixing up the same stuff.  These were accompanied by a short UK/US tour, and whoosh – they were gone.
The Tones On Tail 12" EP was released pre Kevin Haskins, and is a really minimal electro/funk bass thing with a drum machine blipping away in the background.  The later TOT stuff was much more “normal” in terms of song structures whereas this early stuff (pre first LP) is much more experimental/abstract.
The opening track “A Bigger Splash” sees the beatbox on full bosa nova duties with Campling hammering out a single reverberated funk riff over and over and over. Over this Ash delivers the words monotonously & atonally.  The chorus is a woodblock solo and, when the guitar does arrive, it is effect-ville panning all over the shop.
“Copper’s” riff is ripped of Day Tripper and gives Ash the opportunity to get his sax out.  There is no singing.  “Means of Escape” is another minimal drum/funk bass workout with Ash whispering the vocals.  “Instrumental” is really nice – laid back funk bass with wide acoustic guitars over the top (think Bauhaus’s Passion of Lovers or Slice of Life).

It wouldn’t be the first Tones On Tail I would recommend, but it’s not a bad debut.



Thursday

Mo-Dettes


A post-indie, all-girl supergroup whose music blended stripped-down rock & roll with the lean rhythms of dub, the Mo-Dettes were formed in London in 1979 by American-born guitarist Kate Korris, who previously had performed briefly with the Slits and the Raincoats very early in each band's history. Korris teamed up with bassist Jane Crockford, ex-Bank of Dresden, to form the Mo-Dettes, and they rounded out the line-up with Swiss singer Ramona Carlier (whose heavily accented vocals became one of the band's aural trademarks) and drummer June Miles-Kingston (whose brother Bob Kingston was also a figure on the British rock scene as guitarist with Tenpole Tudor). The girls traded in a spiky new wave sound despite their moniker and the (then) current mod revival. They debuted later the same year with the self-financed/Rough Trade -distributed `White Mice’ single. Thanks to steady airplay from iconic radio host John Peel, the 45 fared well on the independent charts which led to a deal with Deram Records. Maybe a rookie rendition of The Rolling Stones’ `Paint It Black’ was an ambitious beginning, but it did give them a limited taste of Top 50 success in July 1980, now that they were no longer an indie act. Previewing their debut album, third bad-ass single `Dark Park Creeping’ was possibly too brooding and menacing to achieve daytime airplay before the debut album, The Story So Far, was released in November 1980. With no sign of `White Mice’ on board the chapter-and-verse, The Story So Far set (`White Mouse Disco’ was hardly compensation!), only really `Masochistic Opposite’ (their debut’s flip-side), `Fandango’, `Norman (He’s No Rebel)’ and Georges Moustaki’s `Mi’Lord’, had any clout among the fickle indie in-crowd. The album failed to generate the anticipated interest, and several months were wasted in coming up with a sophisticated pop style to complement their take of Lee Hazelwood’s `Tonight’. Released in June 1981, `Tonight’ failed to break into the Top 50. Bowing to pressure from their record company, the Mo-Dettes briefly expanded to a quintet with the addition of a second guitarist, Melissa Ritter, but the line-up became unstable after Ramona Carlier left the band in May 1982; Jane Crockford took over on vocals before Sue Slack took over as singer during the group's last few months. By the end of 1982, the Mo-Dettes broke up. June Miles-Kingston went on to a successful career following the Mo-Dettes, working with the Fun Boy Three, the Thompson Twins, Everything But the Girl, and the Communards; Korris, subsequently recorded a collaborative effort with Belle Star Jennie McKeown, and Ramona married and took the surname Wilkins.


The Dead Can Still Dance (Again)

Putting early punk backgrounds and the like behind them, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard created a striking landmark in early '80s atmospherics on their first, self-titled creation. Bearing much more resemblance to the similarly gripping, dark early work of bands like Joy Division, The Cocteau Twins and The Cure than to the later fusions of music that would come to characterize the duo's sound, Dead Can Dance is as Goth as it ever gets in many places. Perry and Gerrard's wonderful vocal work, Brendan’s rich, warm tones and Lisa’s unearthly, multi-octave exaltations, are already fairly well established, but serve different purposes here. Thick, shimmering guitar and rumbling bass/drum/drum machine patterns practically scream their sonic connections to the likes of Robin Guthrie and Robert Smith, but they still sound pretty darn good for all that.
When they stretch that sound to try for a more distinct, unique result, the results are astonishing. Gerrard is the major beneficiary here. "Frontier" explicitly experiments with tribal percussion, resulting in an excellent combination of her singing and the rushed music. Then there's the astonishing "Ocean," where guitar and chiming bells and other rhythmic sounds provide the bed for one of her trademark, and quite, quite lovely, vocal excursions into the realm of glossolalia. Perry in contrast tends to be matched with the more straightforward numbers of digital processing and thick, moody guitar surge. The album ends on a fantastic high note, "Musica Eternal," featuring a slowly increasing-in-volume combination of hammered dulcimer, low bass tones, and Gerrard's soaring vocals. As an indicator of where the band was going, it's perfect.
Then continuing in the vein of the self-titled debut but more clearly plunging into a wider range of music and style, Garden Of The Arcane Delight is the clear transition between the group's competent but derivative Goth start and something much, much more special. Opening track "Carnival of Light" captures the band at play, with rolling drums, dulcimer, processed guitar and more creating a swirling, evocative mix of sound at once new and old. Gerrard's simply lovely vocals are further icing on the cake. "Flowers of the Sea" is another similarly entrancing effort, simpler in arrangement but no less hypnotic. The remaining numbers, "The Arcane" and the wordily-entitled "In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated," follow the first album's general pattern -- Perry is again a fantastic singer, but the songs themselves aren't as memorable, embracing doomy goth sonics without adding much to the overall sonic canon.

Tuesday

Skinny Puppies


Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse is a departure from the minimalism of Bites. Its unsettling, aggressive songs are constructed from countless layers of punishing samples and sounds. Mind marks the first appearance of R. Dwayne Goettel, and it's fair to say that his keyboard and effects contributions throttle the band toward their chaotic future masterworks. Album-opener "One Time One Place" gets things started with demonic glee. Its bubbling and festering stew of crunchy bass sounds and weird high-pitched synths is a sign of the disturbing riches to come over later albums. Many of the remaining tracks get mired in cacophony when compared against cuts from Too Dark Park and Last Rights, and Nivek Ogre screeches and wails like an ambient devil in places where he'd later sing/snarl to melodies. But even if the songs aren't as darkly catchy as those on the band's next albums, there's some truly inspired experimentation at play. "Stairs and Flowers" is a particularly unsettling noise accomplishment, as distorted sounds mesh and battle with voice samples from a Canadian radio play and then clash further with Ogre's spoken-word delivery and bizarre cackling. The subject matter is about as dark as it could possibly be, with "God's Gift (Maggot)" perhaps taking home the Most Twisted trophy, and that's how things should be with a Skinny Puppy album. If the Exorcist dialogue in "Burnt With Water" falls flatter than it should, at least the creepy Twilight Zone samples in "200 Years" display the band's trademark wicked artistry and perfectionist craftsmanship. Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse isn't the sound of Skinny Puppy at their peak, but it's another brutal cog and vital detail in the band's overall blueprint.

Sunday

The Fool


On The Fool, Warpaint sound surprisingly delicate, given their combative name. The L.A. group’s first full-length picks up where their debut EP Exquisite Corpse left off, serving up darkly feminine songs with instinctive structures that call to mind the explorations of Rings and Telepathe. The Fool’s songs are so impressionistic that it’s easy to hear why some have called them dream pop or shoegaze, but Warpaint’s sound isn’t so easily classified. Some songs resemble icy post-punk experiments, but cooing vocals add a push-pull quality that’s more intriguing than either element on its own. A flower child witchiness seeps into every track, most strikingly on “Majesty,” which begins as an eerie lament and then ignites into a lysergic jam complete with interstellar Rhodes keyboards and electro-toms. Each of The Fool's songs is winding and expansive, but sometimes Warpaint are so subdued that it comes across as meandering. “Set Your Arms Down” and “Composure” blur into dirges, lacking the direction the fittingly tribal “Warpaint” gives to the band’s swirl. The album’s more melodic songs reveal that Warpaint fares better as an experimental indie pop band than as an avant-garde band with hints of pop. They sound confident and engaged on “Undertow,” a beguiling song so subtle that it lives up to its name, while the sweet-yet-ominous folk balladry of “Shadows” and “Baby” suits the band’s vocals perfectly. The Fool has flashes of brilliance, but Warpaint need to play to their strengths consistently.

Saturday

Here Are The Roses (Again)


Allowing copying comes in many guises. Bands are digging into the treasure trove of musical history all the time – when they are so inspired by a single source we can be kind and say they are paying homage to them. Only when we dislike the end result do terms like ‘copycat’ come out.
Here Are The Roses from Dragons is a difficult case because, I’m getting to like it. 85% of it, at least, would not, could not have existed had Joy Division not come into being. There is a little late Jesus & Mary Chain (well someone’s been listening to Bobby Gillespie’s take on Mo Tucker’s drumming, anyway), a soupcon of Depeche Mode and even a hint of Heaven 17 when they dive too deep into the stark electronic sounds.
Their bundle of influences is very similar to those of Editors, to whom they will no doubt be compared, particularly when it comes to the many sections of repeated guitar notes on songs like the bitter yet tentatively hopeful Lonely Tonight. But Dragons are very open in their adoration, doesn’t that count for something? From the initial jangly guitars and droning, depressed-sounding end of title track Here Are The Roses when that phrase is repeated over and over, through singer Anthony Tombling Jnr’s harsh vocal mannerisms to the majority of the song titles – Condition, Treasure, Obedience, Forever. I would bet a considerable sum that several Joy Division fans could be persuaded one of these was a Joy Division out-take, especially the monumental and fleetingly hopeful Forever, which uses layers of sound to build to a climax that is almost exuberant. As I listen I cannot help but think “well, if you’re going to take chunks of 80s electronica as your source, they’ve certainly taken the right chunks… and surely I would be glad if there was another Joy Division album in the world so…
This is a good album but not an original one. It’s well-structured from bitter to contemplative to mildly hopeful. It flows, there’s enough change of pace to keep you interested if you already like the mix of electronic effects and guitar, and contains several strong tunes (Trust, Here Are The Roses, Forever). The lyrics are rather earnest and suitably miserable to appeal to the inhabitants of Bedsitland. Tombling and partner David Francolini (former drummer with Levitation and Dark Star) have clearly constructed their songs carefully and are masters at what they do; their work has a hovering darkness, a brooding edge to it, but then so did Joy Division’s. 


Friday

What Does Anything Mean? Basically


Easily the high point of the Chameleons' fascination with digital delays, pedals, and making the studio an instrument, the band's second album still is seen by many a fan as being just a little too lost in the production to have the same impact as Script Of The Bridge did, despite equally excellent songs. The decision must ultimately be the listener's, but in the end the production argument is much more a quibble than a condemnation; no matter how you look at it, “What Does Anything Mean? Basically” proved to be that rarity of sophomore albums, something that at once made the band all the more unique in its sound while avoiding a repetition of earlier work. Ironically, the first track, "Silence, Sea and Sky," turned out to be the least Chameleons-like track ever, being only a two-minute synth intro piece played by Mark Burgess and Dave Fielding. But with the gentle intro to the absolutely wonderful "Perfumed Garden," lyrically one of Burgess' best nostalgic pieces, it rapidly becomes clear exactly which band is doing this. The empathetic fire that infused Burgess' words for songs like "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)," a poetic attack on the Thatcher government, finds itself matched as always by brilliant playing all around. John Lever's command of the drums continues to impress, and Fielding and Reg Smithies remain guitarists par excellence; the searing, sky-bound solo on "Return of the Roughnecks" alone is a treasure. The sublime combination of the rushing "Looking Inwardly" and the soaring, blasting rip "One Flesh," leading into a relaxed instrumental coda, anchors the second side, while "P.S. Goodbye" provides a lovely, melancholic conclusion to an astounding record.

Wednesday

The Correct Use Of Soap


This is something of a return to standard operational form for Magazine, who thawed after recording Secondhand Daylight to throw together an energetic batch of colourful and rhythmically intricate songs. It's an unexpected move considering that they enlisted Martin Hannett (Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Crispy Ambulance), master of the grey hues, as the producer. A looser, poppier album than its predecessors (somewhat ironically, a cover of Sly & the Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" is the most subdued song) it features the rhythm section of John Doyle and Barry Adamson at their taut, flexible best and guitarist John McGeoch at his most cunningly percussive. Save for the called-for razzle-dazzle on "Sweetheart Contract," keyboardist Dave Formula takes more of a back seat, using piano more frequently and no longer driving the songs to the point of detracting from the greatness of his mates, as the most frequent complaint of Secondhand Daylight goes. Howard Devoto's lyrics are also a little less depressive, though they're no less biting. The closing "A Song from Under the Floorboards" (another near-anthem, an unofficial sequel to "The Light Pours Out of Me") includes sticking Devoto-isms like "My irritability keeps me alive and kicking" and "I know the meaning of life, it doesn't help me a bit." His themes of distrust and romantic turbulence remain focal, evident in "You Never Knew Me" ("Do you want the truth or do you want your sanity?") and "I Want to Burn Again" ("I met your lover yesterday, wearing some things I left at your place, singing a song that means a lot to me"). "Because You're Frightened" is the closest they came to making a new wave hit, zipping along with as much unstoppable buoyancy as Lene Lovich's "New Toy" or the Teardrop Explodes' "Reward," yet it's all fraught nerves and paranoia: "Look what fear's done to my body!" Song for song, the album isn't quite on the level of Real Life, but it is more effective as a point of entry.

Monday

Heading For A Breakdown


Ah Adi Newton, what to think of you? In some ways Newton is the most contradictory of artists. Through nearly forty years' work in The Future, Human League, Clock DVA and The Anti-Group Newton has made some joyously simple, affirmative and forward thinking music that nevertheless seems to trigger endless discussion and reinterpretation. Seen but not seen, simple and direct in sound and deed; but yet impossible to pin down. The only album released by Clock DVA's second line up, Advantage is near the band's best. Though there aren't many synthesizers, the focus on jarring tape procedures and noise well into the red lines makes for an intense set of songs, enlivened by Newton's evolved vocal style. The atmosphere is bleak and noir-ish (including a cover of the Velvet Underground's "The Black Angel's Death Song"), quite similar to early Clock DVA material. "Breakdown" was the second single released in support of the album Advantage. 

Veiled Manikin


The Veil found a sweet spot between the lush psychedelia of Hyæna and the drier, punchier sound of Kaleidoscope (era Siouxsie And The Banshees). Bryan Gregory (ex The Cramps) formed Beast in 1982 with a Gothic sound in mind, and they were pretty bad. Terrible production, no one could play or sing decently, the music just kind of meanders around sticking to a formula, and the lyrics are rife with allusions to graveyards, witches, werewolves and all the Goth clichés... which is funny considering this was recorded so early in the genre's history. But long story short, Bryan abandoned the band in 1984 and the remaining members (including vocalist Andrella) formed The Veil. With the first song of the first single, I immediately hear a massive leap in quality. They've been compared to Siouxsie And The Banshees and that's a fair likeness considering the vocalist's style and all the tribal drums, but this band really shines when they go a bit neofolk-ier as in "Dreams Endowed". There's more of that to come on their LP Surrender.

Sunday

Snake Dancing


No ’80s goth mix is complete without The March Violets driving single “Snake Dance” a classic of the era that still sounds pretty good today. They’re largely forgotten now, but in their time the Violets got music-press front covers, record sessions for John Peel and Janice Long and release a succession of 12-inch singles, the best of which (Snake Dance and Walk Into The Sun) deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with She Sells Sanctuary, Bela Lugosi’s Dead and Alice as classics of the time. Snake Dance has been a guaranteed club floor-filler for over twenty years, and more than any other factor it's probably the reason why The March Violets can stage a comeback in the twenty-first century and find an audience waiting for them. Anything is possible, everything is to play for, and the omens are good. 

Saturday

Murderous


Formed in Essex, England in 1982, Nitzer Ebb were a key force in helping to develop the industrial subgenre of Electronic Body Music (or EBM for short) into its modern day incarnation. Alongside groups such as Front 242, Die Form and Klinik, Nitzer Ebb found themselves inspired by the more danceable elements of the first wave industrial scene and post-punk (which often overlap) such as Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft, Killing Joke and Bauhaus, creating their own unique niche in the largely new wave dominated music scene with their unique brand of militaristic fist-pumping synth and drum machine based anthems. The catchcry of "Where Is The Youth” in Murderous and its apegiatted synths are hypnotic, capturing a rare brand of 80's energy that has been unrivalled in EBM since.

Friday

Time Flows


This collaborative band, formed in 2008 by Stephen Carey (This Burning Effigy, Adoration) and Tony Pettitt (Fields of the Nephilim, Rubicon) had created quite a stir in the scene by combining elements of progressive metal, trip hop and psychedelia with beautiful ethereal vocal melodies sung by several guest singers like Monica Richards (Faith And The Muse), Julianne Regan (All About Eve), Evi Vine and Amandine Ferrari. The first track: "Neversea" is a perfect hit, much in the style of debut album opening track "To Believe In Something". The beat is fast, with glittering guitars à la Mission/Fields and Valenteen, the new "resident" female singer, fits perfectly with a voice that evokes a little bit Julianne Regan and Christa Belle (Hungry Lucy). Simon Hinkler from The Mission is guest on guitars on this track. "Into The Red" has a slower beat, more trip hop-ish and features vocals by Valenteen and Amandine Ferrari. The structure and melodies sound a bit like "God's Pride" or "Sin" from "Smoke & Mirrors". Amandine's enchanting voice is amazing, bringing as usual such powerful emotions. The song ends with a heavenly duet of the two women singing wonderfully in thirds. "The Only One" is a slow and haunting song, in which Valenteen shows great melodic talent both in low- and high-pitched tones. The title track "Timeflows" is a long track (more than 9 minutes) in the style of the progressive tracks from Fields Of The Nephilim and it is no surprise to hear an intro with Tony Pettitt's typical staccato bass riff (remember Psychonaut?)... The song develops into a dark and hypnotic sonic landscape dominated by Valenteen's and Meghan-Noel Evans' voices until a break comes with strange ghostly voices and sudden shouts: scary... Finally the drums of the excellent Simon Rippin return for the final chorus and a paroexistic ending. The instrumental "Timeflows Part 2" allows us to stay a bit further inside the dream...
This EP is produced by Stephen Carey, Tony Pettitt and Andy Jackson (who worked with Pink Floyd): needless to say that the sound is huge, clear, powerful and epic. Can't wait! So, if you like All About Eve, Evi Vine, Fields Of The Nephilim, the Mission and this kind of music, you should rush and buy this EP!
Philippe BLACKMARQUIS 21/02/2012