Friday, July 31, 2009

dessktop Galleon Quilt (Rack & Ruin)

I think everyone who has used common home objects to create the sound, or improvised and recorded with a built-in microphone, understands very well the hidden magic of such music. Who has been involved in tape manipulation in the simplistic way, shouted into a mic or hung it out the window, jangled a guitar, brought out abnormal sounds. There is the difference between studio-produced music and spare-bedroom-produced music indeed. There is also the third possibility mentioned by the guys of Animal Collective visiting Estonia in 2006 – all the use of musical elements must be strictly managed to get impressive effects out of this appliances. Something that might be seen as a concealed complaint toward the jazz music. Nevertheless, involvement in the creating procedure of chaotic or free-form music certainly is the most interesting. Something which is seemingly directed toward nothingness, just having value playing for its own sake.

A netlabel named Rack And Ruin seems partly to be focused on such a type of music recordings. Stilistically ranging from weird forms of rock and folk to peculiar electronics. This music is unusual by their own distinctive sound, offering freedom to contemporary people slaving in front of monitors is highly worth giving an attention.

Robby Massey aka dessktop is a striking example of achieving control and then losing it once again. Demonstrating that the boundaries between creating harmony and breaking it can be very fragile. Galleon Quilt is his first appearance after the more conventional Selsey Bill EP, and experimental Kirpi EP which demonstrated 21-year American`s ability to create new and interesting soundscapes. His capacity to transform field recordings, pan`n`pots drumming sounds, vocals and all of the rest into one organic whole is admirable and enjoyable. In addition to above-mentioned elements he exploits Native American flutes, a Native American bass drum, a xylophone, voice, a Casio synth, a melodica, an acoustic guitar and a toy accordion.

Galleon Quilt is a specific album in its own. 10 tracks in 26 minutes. The objective to use organic textures like on the previous album has been neglected. The music rotates around vowel experiments, and being in grim mood it is better emphasized – dark-sounding and pounding piano accords are engendering the baseline structure, a loud sharp noise and rhythm coming seemingly from nowhere to haunt listeners. As Robby Massey himself mentioned once, he had played for hours and hours with various instruments to “discover” new motives for the new album. Nevertheless, as the listener, you can feel the more traditional songwriting approach. Galleon Quilt is surprisingly interlaced with dark folk, dark wave, modern classical and neoclassical undercurrents. You may even hear the pagan and medieval motives, and some surfacing sonic subtextures are directly connected to electroacoustic (recording) methodology.

Download it from here


Interview with Peter Jordan

Let`s get talking about a musical group from London. In particular, about Clinker led by Peter Jordan and Tomoko Matsumoto. I delivered some questions to Peter Jordan. Hailing originally from Kent, he has been active musically since 1990s. Being very profilic, he has been involved in groups such as Reg Varney Trio, Clinker and Opera Dog. At the moment, he is still finishing the hopefully soon to be released Clinker album “Thru’ the Fly Machine”.

KS: Good day, Peter!
At first, I would like to know how advanced is the recording of the new Clinker album at the moment?

PJ: The recording is practically finished, but I do keep tweaking it here and there. We’re getting it properly mastered for the first time too. I can’t wait for people to hear it, but we want to up our profile a bit first to give it a better chance before putting it out.

KS: What can we expect from the new album?

PJ: It’s quite different. It’s got some of the loudest tunes we’ve ever done and some of the softest. There’s a fair bit of repitition going on, ya know like getting in a groove, which is where the dance element comes in. As far as we’re concerned, it really does feel like the best we’ve ever done. We decided we weren’t gonna stop until it was. We just hope that other people are going to feel the same and love it as much as we do. There’s a lot of layered vocals on there as well, so live we’re using extra backing singers to bring that side of it out.

KS: How have you dealt with the promotion for the Clinker single/EP “Hallucination Generation”? Have you received any kind of feedback from any bigshots?

PJ: We decided to release “Hallucination Generation” as a CD single primarily as something to give away at gigs. Response has been good, but we haven’t had any feedback from bigshots yet.

KS: You have mainly been involved with 2 music projects – Clinker and Opera Dog. What do you think is the obvious difference between Opera Dog and Clinker?

PJ: Over the years the difference has become a bit hazy. I’d probably say generally Clinker is a songs based project and Opera Dog is more organic dance, but there’s more of a dance element to our new album “Thru’ the Fly Machine”, though nothing direct. It’s just an instinctive thing. When Tomoko started “Searching for a New World” from the new album, she thought it was going to be an Opera Dog tune, but it quickly became clear to me that it was Clinker.

KS: By the way, do you make music every day?

PJ: We do make music everyday. We just can’t stop! It’s in our blood, in our DNA. We try to reign it in and do the necessary promotion, but if ideas come into your head, you have to get them down. Tomoko is recording now actually. A cover of Banjo or Freakouts “Upside Down”.

KS: You and Tomoko have been involved in Clinker related acts for nearly 8 years now. How anfractuous is it to make aesthetical decisions together? Do you think you belong to those clan of musicians who nevertheless manage to mash up all recent ideas on the day, or are you very choosey in preference of a certain detail?

PJ: It’s surprisingly easy. We don’t have heated debates or anything. I trust Tomoko’ vision and she trusts mine. We seem to naturally follow the same path anyway. We listen to a wide variety of music, mash it all up and make our own Clinker sound. Nothing is sacred, which is probably why each album is different. This album I would say is strongly influenced by Tomoko discovering different things she hadn’t appreciated before. June 20th last year was one such point, when Tomoko saw My Bloody Valentine play. Things have not been the same since, haha. It’s not that noticeable on the album, but trust me its there.

KS: You have also written the music for the theatre productions “Charlie and Henry” and “Quinto Quarto” (both directed by Jason Lawson). Is there any difference or difficulties for you, between creating music in ordinary way and creating music for a script?

PJ: There is a difference, definitely. With Clinker it’s whatever comes natually. I don’t sit down and say “I’m gonna write this or that kind of song today”, it’s just whatever comes out. With the play “Charlie and Henry”, I read the script and tried to feel what was needed. Over the course of a week I came up with 30 minutes of music, which was way too much for a Theatre production. I went into film soundtrack mode I guess. “Quinto Quarto” was different altogether. It was a theatre production that was being turned into a film. I didn’t actually write any new material for it. It was a mixture of what the writer Nick Brown wanted to use and what I thought would fit from music i’d already recorded. Sadly the film has struggled to get the finance needed and hasn’t yet been made. I suppose with music for theatre or film i’m writing for someone else, whereas first and foremost when writing for Clinker i’m writing for myself.

KS: Recently, as Clinker, you have given some old tracks new life. Why did you decide to do that?

PJ: The only reason that happened was because we decided to play them live. I wanted people to be able to hear the recorded versions, but as you know those versions were rough and mono. So I set about re-recording them and some ended up on the “Clinker” album and EPs around that time. We have quite a few left over that haven’t been released. Satellite, Sega and What Yr Thinking for example.

KS: I have a feeling you have written much more than whats been made available to date. How many tracks do you have roughly left on the shelf?

PJ: Yeah we`ve loads of tunes that haven’t come out. For the new album there’s about 10 that didn’t make the final cut. We’ve done a lot of cover versions for fun too. Some come out on EPs, the others remain unreleased. I’d guess there must be over 30 unreleased tracks in all. Some of them I really like, so i’m sure they’ll come out on other EPs or something. I recorded three new ones the other week with sometime collaborator Sean Stevens.

KS: By the way, I myself discovered Clinker through the last fm site. In addition you are promoting your music through other websites like Myspace, Reverbnation and your own site, The virtual possibilities to get your music out there to an audience and spare your time plus thousands of bucks is good, but is it good enough?

PJ: There’s always more you could do. We do as much as we can trying to spread the word. It’s tough. I haven’t got into the Twitter thing yet. It seems a bit too ego driven for me. I’m sure it will happen, but nah...i’m still slowly being weened onto Facebook. Myspace is still my main thing.

KS: Let`s continue talking about music business stuff. Listening to Clinker I have often wondered to myself, why haven’t Clinker or Opera Dog been signed to a label in the 10 years they have been creating music? You have been creating pop music with good taste, you live in London, one of the central places for pop music in the world and you have a lot of contacts. How is that possible?

PJ: Hmmm, it’s a mixture of things. My way of working is a factor. I’ve found it difficult to stop the creative process long enough to actually push it. We did nearly did get signed after “Porno”. Some use your phrase... loved it and told us they wanted to put it out, then didn’t. More recently we’ve had problems with different band members leaving and holding things up, which led to the new album being written and recorded, so now’s our time hopefully and we’re going to give it our best shot. I feel we’re at our strongest now, so the delay has been good. Every minor battle makes us stronger and more positive. So far, this year has exceeded our expectations before we’ve even had a chance to properly show people what we’re about. Being in London though is a blessing and a curse. You’re up against 1000’s of bands fighting to get heard, but yes you’re in the right place.

KS: It is impossible to overlook Alan McGee`s appreciation toward your music? Was he actually interested in recruiting any of your acts? It has to be said though, the roster of Poptones doesn`t actually include any great names of indie music.

PJ: He only knows about Clinker, as far as I know, but hasn’t really been involved in signing any bands for years. He was managing bands, but I believe he’s left the music business for good now. Your point about Poptones though is valid and most of what he recommends these days is meat and potatoes rubbish, with the possible exception of Glasvegas. I think he has lost his touch, haha. I also don’t like that nowadays he goes around saying that he signed My Bloody Valentine as a joke, to prove he could sell any old shit, yet in his book he describes Kevin Shields (MBV leader) as a “total genius” and the greatest artist he has ever worked with. He didn’t like me pointing this out to him either, haha. Read into that what you will.

KS: What do you think are the best circumstances to create music? Is it after dealing with quite different things than music, for example after the job, or is it that inspiration comes after long lazy hours relaxing? Maybe it’s something else?

PJ: If you’re working in a boring 9-5 job, which i’m not but have done in the past, it can be difficult to get motivated when you come home feeling like shit everyday. Having the time to relax and drift into it works better for me. The reason I gave up my old job was because I hated it so much and it was sapping my creative energy. Tomoko would give you a very different answer i’m sure. She is a ball of creative energy. Anytime, any place. It amazes me.

KS: By citing the title of a demo release by Spacemen 3, “Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs to”, is that the ultimate truth about the music creating process or could it be done another way?

PJ: It’s an obvious truth for us, isn’t it? If you think about it, all the greatest albums ever recorded were created with some assistance from drugs. They open your mind to a different world. It can get in the way of things and it has for me in the past, but generally it helps me to think outside of the box. It’s also noticeable that when artists stop taking drugs, they also stop making great albums, haha. Like Bowie for instance.

KS: At the end, if you like, you could recommend us some new and attractive groups coming out of the London underground rock scene?

PJ:“They Came From the Stars, I Saw Them” are a band we truly adore. They’re not new, but we love them. Their bassist Dan also works as Sculpture, creating great music using actual tape loops, mini-discs, cds and gadgets. Great to watch live too. We’re also loving “Eugene Machine”, who make edgey electro-pop. Lovely people too, which helps. There’s also “Big Pink”, who I think everyone will know about by the end of the year. They’re amazing! Apart from that, there’s a few London based Japanese bands who are great to see live, especially “Screaming Tea Party”, “No Cars” and “Electric Red Drive”.

Clinker official site

Clinker on Myspace

Opera Dog on Myspace

DTT on Myspace

Reg Varney Trio on Myspace

Clinker Clinker (Opera Dog Productions)

The last album of London trio Clinker seems to be ambiguous at first sight. This work of Peter Jordan, Tomoko Matsumoto and Marcus Moir (he left Clinker after recording of this album but at the moment he is back again) can be viewed as their follow-up to When I Grow Up I Want to Be A Space CadetClinker confirms their strong musical ambitions for chart desire – the opening track Sunnyside Up and Runny is acid pop of something – more closely, it is something boisterous drifting between signal sounds and delicate chaos element. Am I Good (Am I Evil) could give a fillip to soft-indie fans, to keep up dancing and exalting life. It is the mixture of Keane and the tunes of the Charlatans throughout the second half of 1990s. Bulletproof seems to be felt into this era when Blur dumped their shoegaze ambitions off and began creating britpop with the goal to dislocate the mainstream music, on Foggy Albion at least. Demurely talking, the next track Say Goodbye may cause some embarrassment to people who like preferring the tougher stuff, yes, nevertheless, if you are able to push down your first impressions, you might think at the end, it was a very good ballad song by itself. Also, those late 4 minutes emphasize the breaking point on the album. However, all of what is following further is pure gold only. What You Done dig up the next but indirect connections with britpop. Peter Jordan`s arrogant song style, space rock tunes and intrusive dance rhythms draw similarities with Bon Chic Bon Genre (1999) by Campaq Velocet which has been one of the first post-britpop albums. This fact don`t make me surprised, because Peter Jordan started as the sole embodiment of Clinker at the end of 90s, and a lot of songs represented on the recent LP are actually the new versions of old tracks. (2007). The first part on Slimeball will show a new perspective of their skills – the reverbed vocal lines, powerful guitar riffs and modern electro synths will create totally psychedelic chaos. Overspill Equals Calamities is one of the highlights in the first place – the restrained start gets developed into autotuned vowels and cosmic turbulences of synths. This is an excellent example of uncompromising pop, a way to demonstrate to an intriguing pop scheme by setting things proportionally up and mix the harmony and experimentation with each other. High Times is a kosmische musik in pure sense of this word - if you like Ash Ra (Temple), Walter Wegmüller, Manuel Göttsching, Pyramid or Acid Mother Temple (or some of its recent incarnations), it certainly makes sense for you. Star Hardcore Lady makes a little change in direction by going to map the psychedelic noisy pop areas. If I couldn`t know that the track Create The Sun Is Out Today was released at the end of last year, I might be supposing it is a style example of the folk underground scene of 1960s (a mechanical rhythm structure may uncover a kind of recentness on carefully listening!). This excellent album will be finished by What You Done (Reflection) – the another and more powerful version of the same titled track mentioned above.

Regardless of fact that in my review has been a lot of references toward different eras, and hereinbefores has been named a lot of influences as well, as final result the album is very uniquely sounding output. As has been said by one member of the Scottish indie-punkers The Girobabies, `Clinker by Clinker was the best unsigned album of last year (2008).`

Download it from here


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Andy`s Airport Of Love Actually I Am Sasha Fierce (Rack & Ruin)

I know a lot of people who have said they don`t like The Jesus And Mary Chain, and others who do. Which way should we use to embrace the truth? It is quite naive to think that having personal sympathy or not give us some crucial argument to understand the impact of the brothers Reid. Their ability to create noisy rock and to adjust songs onto the 2-minute mark gave their activity a historical dimension. Their approach could come to be seen as one of the preeminent benchmarks by inserting the new indie pop model or strengthen it at least. Indeed, their influence has nowhere been lost nowadays. Maybe the best known reverence towards the Scottish legends was made on the album Distortion by Magnetic Fields released at the start of 2008. Apropos of something, it would be probably unneccesary to add such names as The Ravoenettes, Sereena Maneesh, and The Procedure Club drawing upon them. However, those named groups have been new conquerors in contemporary indie rock showcasing us how to add intriguing elements to noise rock embodiment.

Also, partly in the wake of fuzzy and loud sound oriented alternative rock have came out Andy`s Airport Of Love. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, they are a duo, namely Andy and Alyssa (she is also one part of NunParty). On their first release Ballad Of The Aleutian Sea Otter EP (2008) the equilibrium between silence and noise had been sought. Very short tracks on those couldn´t able to convey full potential of song crafting hidden in their bones. There were some eminent tracks – Slowdive-alike blissful The Sonoran Desert I s Your Favorite Desert In North America, and the title song.

What is this essential difference between the previous and new albums? At first, the songs available on the Actually, I Am Sasha Fierce are two times longer, and the ideas are more channelized toward the concept of noise rock, and harmonies are more elaborately delineated. The average soundscape has evolved into the broader one, partially thanks to the vocal elements pushed evidently backwards, or have I myself such a consequence as if this coming out from the bottom of someone`s silver sounding throat. Also, this album is originally recorded onto a tape, so everyone can hear the sound of heavy tape hiss seeping into song textures, thereby fuzzing the lines between layers stacked on each other, and a guitar sound has been adjusted on “cellophane” timbre. Cicada Sounds is the track with the sounds of harsh hiss and field recordings. Duquesne Incline, Red Panda, and especially Childhood Friend of William Morris are the heydays of album, referred to the catchy pop song structures. Yeah, all those beautiful guitar janglings would have been involved in all the time. The album as the one whole could sound even perfect if there were less rigidity and more variability in the other tracks too. It would be interesting to know how could some knotty sounds have affected musical characteristics additionally. Nevertheless, the album full of monotone guitar lines is still quite charming.

Download it from here


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Алексей Рафиев и Алексей Борисов Знамение Пресвятой Богородицы (Clinical Archives)

For all of those people who have closely been involving in Russian underground music, the name of Alexei Borisov is probably not the unknown one. The legendary musician, who started already at the beginning of 80s and whom with Peterburg legend late Sergey Kuryokhin are being considered as the pioneers of the Russian electronic music scene. He has played in the lineups of groups such as The Center, Notchnoi Prospect, F.R.U.I.T.S, and more recently Gosplan Trio and Volga. The list of his collaboration projects and performing at famous and influential electronic music festivals could go much longer and longer. Travelling through many styles (new wave, big-beat, industrial rock), and as a solo artist on the other hand his music has been more focused on the intense sound area – delving into minimal electronica, noise music, electroacoustic music, and industrial music in nowhere man land in a far corner somewhere.

The last album "Знамение Пресвятой Богородицы" was issued in collaboration with Russian underground poet and performance artist Alexei Rafiev, and released on the peripheral electronic music promoting netlabel Clinical Archives. Conceptually, the work is founded on the religious-historic grounds passing through the history of Russia - the story will begin with coming of Immanuel (St. Patrick), and the subordination of paganism to Christianity. In turn, it is closely interlaced with an emphasization of the messianic role of Russia stood up in fight against Anti-Christ. Waiting for the apocalypse in a wish to create a new world hereupon, and furthermore, there aren´t left any doubts to be supposed which country should be enlightening it (Ольга). The vices being viewable in the second track Стон города – the narcotics, pornography, bureaucracy amongst other – will have washed away. In comparison with the repertoire of Volga which consists mainly of a blend of the Russian epic songs (bylinas) and softly sounding electronic the ЗПБ is directed more toward very inside viewing topics – abstract electronic music which gets affected by religious and mystical word is demonstrating prodigious aptitude to go into human soul, evoking a sense of eternity in the listeners. Indeed, the voice of Alexei Rafiev is very persuasive, coercing me to draw parallels with Blixa Bargeld (moreover, at the times it seems to me as if the teuton man is chanting in Russian, though, without the bursts of screams).

It is an very specific and tough album deluged with obscure religious mysticism, thereby allowing the listeners to distance from “habitual” music and ferial problems. The masterpiece by any means of electronic music.

Download it from here