TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS
by Neil March (Edition 31, 31st July 2019)
Welcome to Edition 31 of Trust The Doc. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page – https://facebook.com/TrustTheDoc – and if you don’t already do so, please follow both @Hornetmuziq & @DemeraraRecords on Twitter. I will of course follow you back.
✦ FRESH ON THE NET LIVE: Wow what a fantastic day in North London
✦ VANISHING POINT: 1st Year Anniversary Celebration at the Ivy House
✦ LINEAR OBSESSIONAL: Another 4 leftfield acts take the Arts Cafe stage
✦ SEQUENTIA FT. CONSUELO SAÑUDO: Vocalising 12th Century Texts
✦ MARY LATTIMORE: Another chance to savour her harp playing
✦ DEVILS OF MOKO: Futuristic Jazz dreaminess from London
✦ KAMASZ: Improvised contemporary jazz from unique Polish trio
✦ NORBERTO VALDES ALZIPAR: Whipping up a dance music storm in Cuba
✦ DAKAR AUDIO CLUB: Another Trust The Doc discovery making good
✦ TWO BY ONE: Contemporary Folk with a host of other flavours
✦ MIDLAND: Heartache and heavy rolling Country music from Texas
✦ TTD CLASSIC: Remembering the unique club-influenced pop of Olive
✦ BELLYEYESSMILE: Prog, Psych, Alt Pop mash-up from Reading
✦ BIG CAT: Large dose of retro and contemporary sophistication from Brighton
✦ FOUNDLINGS: LNFG’s first English signings and it’s Brighton calling again
✦ ALEX INCANI: Italian Alt Rock artist wears her passion on her sleeve
✦ TOKYO TEA ROOM: Dreamy Psychedelic Alt Pop from Canterbury
✦ CARL BLARX: Thoughtful lyrics and cool sounds from London artist
✦ KIZZY CRAWFORD: Cardiff artist returns with a sultry soulful banger
✦ AYIA GOLD: Sweet soulful vibes emanating from the Capital
✦ F∅NX: More genre-defying songwriting from enigmatic artist
✦ FLETCHER, JAMES: Soulful end of the club music spectrum
✦ ANDRENACHROME: Genre-defying electronic beatz & tunes from Lincoln
✦ NIC EVENNETT: Stunning ethereal soundscapes from TTD favourite
✦ KOHLA: Another brooding slow-burner from talented Glasgow artist
✦ JON SAMSWORTH: Multi-instrumentalist returns with jaunty track
✦ MMTTHW: Southampton-based newcomer showing great promise
✦ PAULFCOOK: Unique composer-multi-instrumentalist goes space age
✦ NEBO-IS-SKY: The engaging electronic soundscapes of Vlad Nebolsin
✦ TOTAL BIKE FOREVER: Ambient Electronica from London to Tokyo
✦ DAVE DARK & THE SHARKS: More ambient electronica from Wales
✦ THE AUTOCLAUS: Enigmatic dark electronica from place unknown!
✦ DVAL: Slow-burning ambient electronica from Istanbul-based act
FRESH ON THE NET LIVE: HISTORY MADE IN NORTH LONDON !!!
I have written this (https://freshonthenet.co.uk/2019/07/live-london-2019-history/) for the Fresh on the Net website about our extraordinary first ever Fresh on the Net Live 1-day festival of new and emerging bands and artists as heard at our Listening Post and, in most cases, BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Introducing shows around the regions.
As the curator and organiser of the event, I am deeply proud and honoured to have had such amazing support from the legend that is Tom Robinson, the incredible team at Jacksons Lane Arts Centre, my wonderful team of close friends who were the volunteers for the day, our amazing Vanishing Point (Ivy House) sound engineer Hugh Aynsley (Hugh took care of the Boogaloo stage, Kat Ellis of Jacksons took care of the Theatre Stage and I took care of the Upstairs @ Jacksons stage) and all the bands and artists who took part in this amazing event. We have made a little piece of music history.
Now we will make some more when Fresh on the Net Live, Scotland follows on Sunday 15th September at Leith Depot with TTD favourites, Glasgow’s fantastic BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 1 featured Post-Dream Pop trio Cloth (http://www.lastnightfromglasgow.com/artists/cloth/) headlining. My good friend and fellow FOTN moderator-author Chris Ingram is curator-organiser for this exciting event. More news very soon.
VANISHING POINT: 1ST ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION @ THE IVY HOUSE
Tomorrow evening (Thursday 1st August) we celebrate our (Demerara Records) first anniversary of promoting Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House (https://demerararecords.com/vanishing-point). The year has gone so quickly but it has been a fantastic ride and I am very proud that Vanishing Point has quickly become synonymous with eclectic evenings of the best new and emerging music acts mostly but not exclusively based in London.
Tomorrow we have another such line-up. Headlining is Catherine Rudie, indie-folk artist from the Scottish Highlands who has been a repeat Fresh Fave at Fresh on the Net and has had her music featured on BBC Radio 6 Music. Catherine has also just headlined the theatre stage at the inaugural Fresh on the Net Live mini-festival in North London where she brought the house down with a storming and thoroughly original set mixing the organic with the electric in some style.
Also on the bill are the exciting Alt Rock band Another Venus who are blazing a trail as an original and invigorating Rock band, the brilliantly insane Apocalypse Jazz Unit led by Skronkmeister and saxophonist Rick Jensen and talented jazz and soul infused singer-songwriter Jen making her live debut. You can still get tickets for £6 each up until 7PM on the day by ordering online using the above link or you can pay £8 on the door. It should be an awesome gig in one of the UK’s most attractive venues where Twin Peaks fans might think they have stumbled into The Roadhouse.
LINEAR OBSESSIONAL: REVIEW OF JULY’S GIG
Sunday 14th July saw the usual monthly Linear Obsessional @ The Arts Cafe in Manor Park, Hither Green. It was just too late to make it into Edition 30 which was published on 16th July and had already been stuffed with reviews by that point!
After June’s highly eclectic mix of genres, July’s gig was in more typically Linear Obsessional territory (if such a thing exists!). It kicked off with Richard Sanderson (https://linearobsessional.bandcamp.com/) himself (on Melodeon) in an as yet untitled trio with Accordionist Julie Pickard (https://www.facebook.com/julie.pickard.313) and Cellist Kathy Hulme (https://kathyhulme.weebly.com). Apologies that the only link I can find for Julie is her personal Facebook account which is not ideal.
Essentially an improv set, it was a fascinating exercise in exploring the timbral, textural and registral contrasts of the three instruments, the two squeeze boxes often producing drones or vaguely modal harmonic language while the Cello part combined pizzicato and arco but also the use of a wooden spoon as a hammer and for percussive rubbing. At one point Richard produced seed pods and bells to bring another sonic contrast to play.
Eventually the piece rose to an intense crescendo punctuated by more frenetic activity from all three musicians. Julie’s accordion momentarily reminded me of Messiaen with its striking modal organ-like quality juxtaposed against Richard’s low register stabs and Kathy’s chromatic movement on the Cello. As the drones returned, there was a quieter deconstructive ending. A lot of ideas and musical states reached within a twenty minute jam.
Next up we were treated to the unique duo of Gero Kempf (http://cafekaethe.blogspot.com/2011/06/roots-gang-am-donnerstag-den-9-juni-ab.html) for whom I can find no useful links unfortunately, hence the ambiguous one I have relied upon, on Electric 5-String Double Bass and Martin Hackett (https://soundcloud.com/martin-hackett-717490473) on his extraordinary Korg Synthesizer which looks like some gigantic electronic gadget from the seventies but is actually a non-tonal keyboard on which all the sounds are produced from sound waves and there are no specific tones or semi-tones (so, in essence, the emerging notes could be quarter, sixth, eighth, ninth etc. tones).
With this knowledge it is easier to try to make sense of exactly what was happening, Gero often using extreme chromatic fluidity of movement and glissando slides to create a jagged, intriguing and unpredictable stream of ideas and contrasts while the keyboard often centred on single pitches and yet at times seemed serene and harmonic. Talking to Martin and Gero afterwards still left me slightly unsure what was what but it did give me a sense of the uncertainty and intended instability of the synth pitchwise and how that played off against Gero’s instinctively energetic and at times intense playing style. The result was a fluid, unique and intriguing soundscape that held my attention throughout.
Kieron Mahon (https://kieranmahon.bandcamp.com/) has been on my radar for a while and is earmarked to play my Vanishing Point (Ivy House) monthly in the new year so it was great to see him live. Kieran, like two other favourties of mine Bug Teeth and Smallhaus, utilises the sonic possibilities of the guitar through the patient and inventive use of loops and effects units. The result is a dreamy ambience and a style that is, in essence, electronic post-minimalism in which events change slowly and by minute degrees leading to a gradually expanding landscape of rich buzzes and bleeps and agreeable guitar reverberance.
As the track progressed, Kieran introduced some looped chords high up on the top strings of the guitar contrasted by deep buzz bass at the foot of the sound arrangement. It was skillfully done and great to listen to.
The final act was a duo of Viv Corrigan (http://vivcorringham.org/?fbclid=IwAR1Jpx7bafqv4iPGdIuCWof4cW9T7FfYXlrMnV_doogo5OXiREnT7iZEl54) on vocals and electronic device and Mark Wastell (https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/artists/mark-wastell/) on percussion.
Viv used two mics to create loops and vocal effects while her part-spoken, part-sung vocals emphasised single syllables, some held and she utilised different timbral aspects of her voice to create an almost call and response concept. Similar emphasis was placed on particular consonants although, as the track progressed, this developed into single phrases with key lines repeated. Viv also used some form of mixer device while talking.
Against all this, Mark used a series of sticks, brushes, gong, cymbal, small percussion items and bells to create a fluid ambience. Hand movements were used to draw different vibrations from the small percussion objects which, in turn, created a sustained harmonic. All in all, an intriguing journey through the phonetic possibilities and sonic variants of voice, percussion and electronics.
I can’t leave this review without also expressing my gratitude to Richard for allowing me a good five minutes to tell the audience about the then upcoming Fresh on the Net Live and Vanishing Point 1st Anniversary events and, of course, this review in this edition of Trust The Doc.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
I have felt very aware that, partly because of the sheer volume of music flying at me from a combination of Fresh on the Net, submissions to this blog and also to the label, I have not been making the time to listen to more contemporary classical music (let alone find time to compose any!). So I promised myself that, once Fresh on the Net Live had taken place on 21st July, I would put some time aside to focus on some of the more interesting current classical music happening out there.
So it was a pleasure to listen to my good friend Max Reinhardt presenting Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) having co-hosted the BBC Introducing Stage @ Latitude with another good friend Tom Robinson. The show was dominated by performances from that stage interspersed with relevant associated artists, one being Sequentia in this case with singer Consuselo Sañudo (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Sanudo-Consuelo.htm), the Spanish soprano and early music specialist. She was performing a musical realisation of the words of 12th Century nun Hildegard Von Bingen. This haunting solo piece was striking, emotive and fresh despite its very old subject matter.
Striking in a different way was the 2017 live performance from Monty Hall by another TTD favourite, the amazing harpist Mary Lattimore (https://marylattimoreharpist.bandcamp.com) of The Warm Shoulder. I have reviewed her amazing harp playing in TTD before but hearing how she manages to achieve such contrasts of mood, register and timbre from the instrument whilst also delivering a moving, lovingly crafted work made me want to cover her again. Harmonically distinct but not unconventional, it is the uniqueness of her playing and the contrasts she achieves that make her music so compelling to listen to.
Devils of Moko (https://pussyfootrecords.com/artists/DevilsofMoko) lit up my Fresh on the Net in-box with their dreamy futuristic jazz vision via the track Algorithm. On looking them up I discovered they are a trio one of whom is none other than Kongo Dia Ntotila’s bassist and bandleader extraordinaire Mulele Matondo. He has teamed up with keyboard and synth wizard Dominic J Marshall and ace drummer Sam Gardner. And KDN’s label Pussyfoot Records have signed them which must have been a no-brainer for them!
Talking of Pussyfoot Records, they are a great label and a really cool bunch but I do wish labels wouldn’t submit tracks using their own Soundcloud page. Not only does it mean the tracks can’t be considered simultaneously for the BBC 6 Music Introducing Mixtape but it also makes it harder for us FOTN moderators and, in my case, TTD blogger too to find the links we need to be able to research and write about the artists. It would be much better all round to encourage the artists to submit tracks using their own Soundcloud page and to make sure it correlates with the email account matching their BBC Introducing page. Easier for the BBC, easier for Fresh on the Net and easier for anyone wanting to write supportive reviews about them!
Anyway, moan over. Algorithm mixes an electronic undercurrent and dreamy futuristic soundscape with the fluid instinctive jazz playing of the three members of this London Jazz supergroup. The tempo changes and switches into different sub-sections are effortless and the whole thing sucks me in, carries me away to an alternative universe and leaves me wanting to hear more. That, unfortunately, is not possible because the remaining tracks on the label’s page are not by Devils of Moko. I will be asking Mulele shortly where I can hear more though! Beautiful stuff and another example of how the Jazz scene here in the UK continues to innovate.
KaMaSz is an acronym for Kądziela, Mazurkiewicz & Szmańda (https://multikultiproject.bandcamp.com/album/eight-rocks-from-grandmas-box) and they are a trio of top Polish improvising jazz musicians who have collaborated on an album with the marvellous title of Eight Rocks From Grandma’s Box. Verity Sharp, presenting Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) treated us to a taster for the album in the form of Natarcz which led me to check the album out and, without getting into full review mood, it combines organic freeform playing with a host of ambient and electronic sounds leading to a fascinating balance between the fluidity of events and the sometimes slowly evolving soundscapes. Like so much of what I write about in these opening sections, it blurs the lines of demarcation between contemporary art, jazz, electronic and world music. That, of course, is another reason why I find it so compelling to listen to.
WORLD IN UNION
Norberto Valdes Alzipar (https://soundcloud.com/norberto-valdes-alpizar) is a prolific writer who makes a diverse range of music from soulful R’n’B with guest vocalists through to pastoral Latin-infused modern classical works. It was the instrumental track Contradictions that grabbed my attention this month. It blends the Cuban composer’s Latin-Caribbean rhythmic tendencies and hints of Salsa (in the chromatically descending bass notes and fluid piano chords) with a futuristic jazz sensibility that uses vague modal chords and some intense yet rhapsodic saxophone. There is a sense of freedom about the way the instruments partly interact and partly remain in individual silos as the track develops. It’s a fluid, inventive piece that has all his finest qualities.
I was thrilled to see that this year the wonderful and unique Dakar Audio Club (https://dakaraudioclub.bandcamp.com) made it onto the BBC Introducing Stage at Latitude. The band, whose members are drawn from Senegal, Mali, Congo and Zimbabwe, relocated to Exeter in around 2011 and have patiently built a rock solid reputation for their unique lo fi brand of Afrobeat and Jazz-influenced dance music. I have been blogging about them since before they even made the FOTN Faves having loved them from the moment I heard them. I also arranged for them to be featured artists at Angry Baby during my brief relationship with that online platform. So it is wonderful that they are getting this level of recognition now. And it was great to hear the percussive drive, resonant guitar and gradual build-up of Buganala on Late Junction.
Two By One (https://soundcloud.com/2by1) is the solo project of Manchester-based Cumbrian singer-songwriter Toby Belshaw, an artist with a string of past bands on his CV including INEGO and Jessica Jones & the Lizards. He has an EP entitled Episode 1 (well in fact it says album on his Soundcloud page but there are only 4 tracks which sounds a lot like an EP to me!!). Anyway it’s just about Folk in as much as the songs are organic and built essentially from voice and guitar but they are dynamic, contemporary and uplifting too, verging on Indie, verging on Pop, probably verging on a lot of other things besides.
Just Pretend begins quietly enough but as the main themes begin to emerge it is genuinely anthemic. About is mostly minor key and more minimal although some gorgeous harmonies arrive as it progresses. Forever ain’t that long is the folkiest track, voice and acoustic guitar dominating only even then there are shades of Neil Young about it. Hard to live is similarly stripped back and contemplative with an otherwise darker feel. So plenty of contrast, strong melodies and arrangements.
The last edition focused on two female artists. This time it’s the all-male trio Midland (https://soundcloud.com/midlandofficial) from Dripping Strings, a city in Texas, whose latest EP Let it roll got an airing on Bob Harris‘s Country show on BBC Radio 2. There are three tracks kicking off with Mr Lonely, a jaunty rolling bluesy Country Rock track in triple time with agreeably Texan twang to the vocals plus big guitars including obligatory pedal steel and organic instrumental set-up.
Put the hurt on me is my favourite, slower with achingly melancholy vocal and simple but sweet guitar figure. This is a modern take on the age-old tradition of the heartbreaking down-on-yer-luck Country music tale.
Playboys starts with a cool picking riff and again benefits from fine vocal delivery, rounding off a really enjoyable trilogy of New Country choons. Also check out their 2017 album On the Rocks which demonstrates their versatility and penchant for bringing a fresh perspective to long-standing traditions.
TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC
This edition’s Trust The Doc classic came to mind when reviewing Fletcher, James in the Club Culture sub-section of Pop Scene. Olive were a London-based band consisting of Tim Kellett (formerly of Simply Red) and Robin Taylor-Firth (ex-Nightmares on Wax) who met through a mutual friend. Kellett met singer Ruth-Ann Boyle via his work with Durutti Column.
What is particularly interesting about this is it underlines the extent to which their approach and ethic was very much that of a band rather than relatively anonymous producers working with individual vocalists. That band approach was evident in their videos and Top of the Pops performances. Yet it was the mid-nineties rise of the club scene that provided the impetus for their success.
You’re not alone had been released in 1996 but it was 1997 when it went to No 1 in the UK charts. It led to several appearances on TOTP, all of which presented them very much as a band. It was essentially a dance track swept to the top of the pop charts due to its popularity in the clubs. Yet it possessed an irresistible air of melancholy and a killa hook, delivered in Boyle’s distinct soulful voice.
However, it was the follow-up single Outlaw which I particularly loved. Again, highlighted by a fantastic chorus and displaying the same aura of melancholy, it was an example of the principal features of late 90s club music (resonant synth, crisp four-time beat, repeated hook) combined with great songwriting and sung by a top-rate vocalist. It didn’t manage to match the success of You’re not alone though it did reach a respectable no 14 in the charts while the subsequently re-released Miracle only reached no 41. All three of these singles can be found on Olive’s highly under-rated debut album Extra Virgin.
Olive did record a follow-up album a few years later and, as recently as 2014, there was talk of a comeback but 1997, for now at least, will be remembered as their year. It would be the obvious thing to link this review to their biggest hit but since I felt it was a bit overlooked at the time and it sounds every bit as good 22 years on as it did on its release, here is the TOTP footage of Olive’s 1997 track Outlaw. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv3a02_3FL4
Alt Rock & Indie
Reading’s Bellyeyessmile (https://soundcloud.com/bellyeyesmile) play a mind-boggling mash-up of Prog Rock, Psychedelia and Alt Pop and their madcap but inspired track Sillin has all these elements. Rhythmically complex and interchangeable, energetic in a slightly frenetic manner and characterised by tight playing and fine musicianship, it has me wondering what they are like live. Rather good I suspect.
I keep banging on about the amazing number of cool bands and artists on the new music scene in Brighton and here is one who I have written about in a previous issue of TTD. Big Cat (https://soundcloud.com/bigcattheband) play sophisticated pop that borrows heavily from what seems like a plethora of mid-seventies artists that may or may not include Wings, 10CC, Pilot, [earlyish] Hall & Oates [c: Bigger than both of us], Andrew Gold, Todd Rundgren, Gallagher & Lyle, Supertramp and, well the list could go on and on. Chuck in some more contemporary influences such as Ben Folds, The Flaming Lips and even a touch of fellow Brightonians Penelope Isles and you start to get a glimpse of what Big Cat are about.
Alternatively you could listen to new track Don’t send me messages and that will give you a much more accurate picture. Jazz-infused chords, infectious melodies, sweet harmonies, cool falsetto, contrasts of style and mood. It’s all in evidence along with whimsical lyrics and splendid musicianship. All of which inspired me to make it my Vanishing Point track on the wonderful Monday Night Ride-Out with Ming and Jon on Exile FM.
Oh yeah and talking about the amazing new music scene in Brighton, the excellent Foundlings (https://soundcloud.com/foundlingsuk) are back from the success of their album launch earlier this year with a storming slice of energetic Alt Rock that finds them in slightly darker, more intense territory compared to the popular Caught up on you. Broadly speaking there are shades of fellow Brightonians Dream Wife and others that briefly pop into my head when listening include Anna Calvi and The Beths. All good references anyway and it’s another firecracker from Last Night From Glasgow‘s first English signings.
Alex Incani (https://soundcloud.com/alexeinmusic) is an Italian Alt Rock artist, now based in Bournemouth, who announced herself this month with an intense slice of heavy Post-Grunge Rock called Only Life. It has something of early nineties US Grunge and Post-Punk about it but it also feels very contemporary in Warpaint and Wolf Alice territory with a dash of Anna Calvi for good measure. She certainly has a passionate, distinct voice that carries off the ambition of her writing and the arrangement is smartly understated while capturing the energy and intensity in the song.
I have written about Canterbury-based Psych Pop band Tokyo Tea Room (https://soundcloud.com/tokyotearoom) previously and now they are back with a dreamy but energetic piece of semi-psychedelic Alt Pop entitled Always Tomorrow. This track has a captivating hook that arrives amid resonant shiny mix of soft keyboards, resonant guitar, fluid bass and tough drums. From its opening single chords, busy bassline and dreamy female vocals, you know you are in for something special. When the guitar melody arrives, loud in the mix, that something special is reinforced. The format is really quite simple but it is so thoughtfully done and delivered with trademark psychedelic sensibilities. Watch their career continue to move forward over the next year.
Londoner Carl Blarx (https://soundcloud.com/carlblarx) definitely got my full attention with his track Be Nice. Initially I thought it sounded a little like he wanted to be Loyle Carner but, as it got going, his engaging tone, intelligent lyrics and the simple but totally right ethos all made sense to me. With the dreamy soulful urban backdrop and the masterstroke of bringing a lovely female vocal in for the final stretch, this track has proved to be a winner.
Also on his Soundcloud page is Cold Gold V2, mixing triplet rapping that recalls early Chuck D with an unmistakably London vibe that again has shades of Loyle Carner but also Kojey Radical. It has a lazy feel and the major seven chords strummed on what sounds like Ukulele really work. Further evidence of his inventiveness. Carl Blarx is an exciting new name on the UK Urban scene. I look forward to hearing more soon.
Cardiff’s Kizzy Crawford (https://soundcloud.com/kizzy-crawford) returns this month with a track that mixes lyrics that envisage wanting to wake up in twenty years in the hope that the world will be a better place with a funky sassy groover of a track entitled, not unreasonably, Twenty Years. I always hesitate before using the term Old Skool but this brings a retro Soul-Funk vibe in an entirely informative way that works with the modern sounds and production values that go with her dynamic style. She has a voice to die for and this track allows her to stretch out and really enjoy herself. With a growing reputation and a bunch of festival slots, Kizzy is on the march and the future looks bright.
Ayia Gold (https://soundcloud.com/ayiagold) is a Londoner with a silky soprano soulful voice, impressive technique and large range. Her new single Blue Skies is out on Two Way Street Records and is a slow, sweet and melancholy track that affords Ayia the space to let her beautiful voice nibble away at your heart, surrounded by classy chords and reverberant sounds. It is eminently radio-friendly and, if it catches the ear of radio producers, could find its way onto playlists in no time. Another one to watch. She already has over 1K followers on her Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/ayiagold/) and 1.1K on her Facebook artist page (https://www.facebook.com/AYIAGOLD/).
I have written about F∅NX (https://soundcloud.com/fonxofficial) before and his latest track Feels for you is typically genre-defying but probably sits closest to R’n’B with its sweet chords, lush harmonies in the chorus and the soulful vocal which recalls Eamonn with a hint of Kevin East or Aaron Neville. The instrumental play is tasteful and beautifully understated. The dynamic and textural contrasts between verses and choruses also help lift it up a notch. As always with F∅NX the songwriting is superb.
It may sit at the less conventional end of the club music spectrum but Fletcher, James‘s (https://soundcloud.com/fletchercommajames) Had me right is essentially soulful House in the same tradition as Roy Davis Jnr’s Gabrielle or perhaps even Olive. A four-to-the-floor beat accompanies soft jazz-tinged synth chords and a quiet synth melody while the vocal is melancholy and soulful and all done in front of a live audience. It is unusual, original and classy. Highly recommended.
I genuinely didn’t know which Pop Scene sub-section to review Lincoln-based Andrenachrome‘s (https://soundcloud.com/andrenachrome) Power of Nightmares in. It has claims on Alt Rock & Indie, Urban Flavas and Electronic & Ambient but I have opted to put it in Club Culture because of the mixture of Drum’n’Bass and trap beats accompanying its dream-psych vocals. It’s an intense, imaginative piece for sure and one that will certainly sound stonking blaring out of the bass bins in a hot club.
It is a tribute to her effortless uniqueness that I never know what heading or sub-heading to review the wonderful Nic Evennett (https://soundcloud.com/wingless-night) under and I have probably changed it every time! So I’ve copped out and placed her in the naturally generic Singer-Songwriter sub-section this time. Not that it matters. What does matter, however, is that her latest bonus EP track Letters from the Whale (Crystal & Crime) is butterflies-inducingly stunning.
From its ambient gradual crescendo (that’s crescendo poco a poco to fellow classically trained musicians!!), there is a special aura about this song. Nic’s voice is immediately striking, expressive and ethereal floating aloft above a wave of sound that becomes more lavishly and cleverly arranged until it is almost symphonic in its harmonic intricacies and counterpoint. This is a beautifully composed piece, sung with conviction and yet possessing such an otherworldly undercurrent. And at 2 mins 30 secs it is also a perfect length to fit comfortably into radio schedules. Someone should point this out to one or two radio presenters on suitable shows…. Oh wait!!
Epic & Cinematic Pop
The aforementioned Last Night From Glasgow label’s newest acquisition is the platinum-voiced Kohla (https://soundcloud.com/user-550580556) who I have written about in a recent edition of TTD concerning her incredible track Pxrxdise which was lovingly remixed by label-mates L Space. Now she has another new track T O U C H which is a slow-burning brooding scorcher of a track, half time beat in the verses, picking up in the chorus. It showcases the stunning quality of her voice set against a cool arrangement of translucent synths and understated beats. Her epic pop needs to be on the radio and soon.
My good friend and talented composer-multi-instrumentalist Jon Samsworth (https://soundcloud.com/jon-samsworth) is back, having recently become a dad, with a bit of a change in direction from his more ambient contemporary classical and leftfield music. Jack is a jazzy, jaunty and joyful slice of uptempo shuffling instrumental play demonstrating once again Jon’s versatility as both writer and performer. There was a time when Fatboy Slim might easily have sampled this save for the more modally inflected piano solo (where we get more of a glimpse of Jon’s leftfield tendencies). The breakdown in the middle where the bassline comes to the fore is truly sumptious too.
MMTTHW (https://soundcloud.com/mmtthw) is from Southampton and is a new name to me. I’m going to assume it’s pronounced Matthew and the novel spelling is to ensure no-one else has the name on socials which seems like good planning. And having just checked his Instagram (https://instagram.com/mmtthw) he is indeed Matt Bromby.
So his track Fresh arrived in my Fresh on the Net in-box and its unusual combination of echoing synths, high vocal harmonies put through effects, the striking melody and his fine voice all grabbed my attention. Also on his Soundcloud page is an instrumental track called Your Name which is described as soundtrack music and what seem like unfinished backing track demos. It all feels very new and in need of development but the clarity of his ideas shines through and there is no question about his talent. Definitely one to watch.
Electronic & Ambient
My close friend, multi-instrumentalist and unique musical talent paulfcook (https://soundcloud.com/paulfcook), inspired by the current celebrations of the Apollo landing, has recorded a new 5-track EP of lunar-inspired tracks entitled We choose to go to the moon. Anyone familiar with Paul’s recent tracks Blues Man, Warm Apple Cider and Attention Attention may be surprised. There are no satirical sampled spoken word elements having tracks built around them here. This is pure synth-dominated instrumental space music mixing spacy and futuristic sounds with classic synth, friendly melodies and inventive arrangements that, as you would expect, also utilise Paul’s considerable guitar-playing skills. And the spoken word samples here are from the Apollo mission itself.
The title track announces Paul’s intentions, cinematic, melodic and spaciously produced. It combines classic synth and guitar sounds with a modern electronic pop backdrop, skillfully capturing the space age vibe without sounding old hat. The middle section is especially exquisite, its tune enhanced by a jazz-edged harmonic language that is quite unexpected. This is the most immediate track of the five.
Saturn V is slower and in minor key with an unsual melody and cool NASA base voice samples. The second theme adds a clever contrast as does the juxtaposition of fluid harmonised melody against static bass note. The brief breakdown punctuated by space noises is a nice touch.
The excellently named CSM – Michael’s Tin Can is a slow-burning track with daunting synth chords and wurring effects behind a simple melody. Ambient space sounds abound and an enigmatic mood gives way to light textures and futuristic dreaminess. Perhaps that should be futuristic in the sense of how we thought of that term in 1969. Well anyway it’s very cleverly constructed and absolutely captures the spacy atmosphere as does 500EL which has a lightly House-influenced beat accompanying first single chord stabs and bendy melody before a switch into major key changes the mood and long note melodies are set against more spacy sounds.
The EP ends with Ticker Tape where again the beat is a straight ahead 4/4 while the mood is upbeat, major key with friendly synth melody and echoing space sounds. The texture is varied, congas here, guitars there, but always centred around the same two 2-chord patterns. The long phased synth notes are juxtaposed against busy funky guitar picking. All very nicely done, bringing a sense of the operation having been safely seen through to its conclusion. A perfect end to an imaginative and unique EP. I hope it gets some well-deserved attention.
The ever-reliable Welsh artist and composer Dave Dark & The Sharks (https://soundcloud.com/dave-dark) has another new choon. Stranded is an otherworldly slice of ambient electronica that reminds us of Dave’s skill in constructing a track where the melody emerges from the mist while the backdrop develops quietly into an agreeably translucent soundscape that retains its light texture throughout. The beat is deliberately quiet and there is always a hard-to-decipher fogginess to the background sounds which really adds to its atmosphere.
Nebo-Is-Sky (https://soundcloud.com/nebo-is-sky) is Vlad Nebolsin. His Soundcloud page has no information about where he is from but some of the titles suggest Eastern Europe (which doesn’t narrow it down much!). His music veers between delicate minimal synth ambience with a mix of quiet spoken word and robotic vocals (usually with heavy effects) and more pastoral ambient instrumental music. The World is saved reflects the former and could almost be reviewed in Contemporary Classical & Leftfield whereas Where have you been? is in the latter area and has an almost Baroque feel about the harmonic language and markedly 4/4 time signature although the mid-section is much more ethereal. A Night, A Street, A Lamp, A Drugstore is Portishead in a jam with a vocorder enthusiast. Very evocative and atmospheric. So a good bunch of tracks with plenty of variety.
The somewhat awesomely named Total Bike Forever (https://soundcloud.com/totalbikeforever) are Tim and Adam from Liverpool, two musicians who cycled from London to Tokyo in order to search ‘… for the golden muse’. Like you do obviously! Anyway it has inspired a cool electronic instrumental entitled Kyushu which builds around one main synth theme with the sustained sounds building to a climax before giving way to bendier shapes and more percussive synth. It’s a simple enough formula but it works well and keeps my attention throughout.
I liked The AutoClaus (https://soundcloud.com/theautoclaus) track Driverless enough to review it here despite the Soundcloud page describing them as being from the ‘United Kingdom’ which tells us reviewers absolutely nothing about their background and sounds very dubious since I don’t know anyone who uses that term (as opposed to just the UK).
Anyway it’s a deliciously dark slab of enigmatic electronica with some voice samples mixed low against a gradually building programmed synth and ambient track. Their blurb says they are focused on artificial intelligence and what it might turn us all into. So that explains the slightly paranoid and dystopian feel which is most appealing. Well worth checking out.
DVAL (https://soundcloud.com/dval-music) are from Istanbul, reflecting a growing amount of interesting music emerging from Turkey’s most cosmopolitan city these days. You is slow-burning ambient electronica with the beat dropping out here and there while the tremelo synth figures intensify as the track develops, driven along by syncopated synth bassline and a generally dreamy resonant aura. Promising stuff
AND FINALLY …..
So there you have it. Another half-month’s worth of amazing choons. As I have said previously new music never sleeps. And with the incredible high of the inaugural Fresh on the Net Live it really has been quite a time. The next edition will be published on 16th August. See you all then and thanks for reading. Neil xxxx