TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS
by Neil March (Edition 32, 16th August 2019)
Welcome to Edition 32 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.
With Fresh on the Net closed for the August break it has inevitably been a quieter period than usual. Perhaps that is just as well given the huge bumper issues I ended up producing over the last three editions! This one will not take you so long to read! So featured this time are:
✦ VANISHING POINT: 1st Anniversary & September’s Stellar Line-Up
✦ MING & JON: Project Blackbird Monday Night Ride-Out team ride to Crozon
✦ MAXIME BARTHÉLEMY: Ambient use of actual sounds in Sound Art piece
✦ HORATIU RADULESCU: My favourite Romanian Spectralist played again
✦ DUNCAN CHAPMAN: Engaging Sound Art from Scottish composer & artist
✦ NÉRIJA: Inventive original music and fine musicianship from London collective
✦ YANNICK ILUNGA: Spearheading Africa’s Noirwave movement
✦ BRUSHY ONE STRING: Turning a one-string guitar into a unique instrument
✦ JOHN DREDGE & THE PLINTHS: Satirical political humour you can sing to
✦ SARAH McQUAID: US & UK Tour Dates and a mouth watering number of them!
✦ MIRANDA LAMBERT: Country choons with Rocking energetic intent
✦ TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC: Remembering the unique sound of Inner City
✦ WOJTEK THE BEAR: Glaswegian act return with fantastic 10″ vinyl single
✦ ROTHKO: After the ambient enigma of Blood .. the Bass Guitar leads again
✦ TALKSHOW: South East London debutants impress with cracking choon
✦ THE RUMBLESKULLS: Leeds band back with another fine track
✦ D BLOCK EUROPE: Versatile South London Collective with new tracks
✦ CELESTE: Bringing some Old Skool vibes into a contemporary context
✦ PAUL KALKBRENNER: Techno and much more from German artist
✦ SIMON D JAMES: Singer-Songwriter delivers an impressive 5-track EP
✦ CHRIS LINTON: Promising 5-tracker from Plymouth-based artist
✦ TRAGIC SASHA: Another breathtaking and unique track from Sasha
✦ HINAKO OMORI: New video with extended single track live in studio
VANISHING POINT GOES INTERNATIONAL !!!
The next Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House on Thursday 5th September sees a truly international line-up. Headlining are the excellent Parisian Alt Rock & Indie duo Blu:m (https://open.spotify.com/album/2eU1GcrGRnoGirtCvP5Y63). Supporting are my London-based Turkish-Irish-Welsh-English Electro-Alt-Soul duo Environmental Sound Foundation (https://soundcloud.com/e-s-foundation) which is me on piano, synth and laptop with singer-rapper-poet and composer Dilara. We also have a rare London appearance by the super talented teenage singer-songwriter Hollie Findlay (https://soundcloud.com/hollie_findlay) all the way from the Greek island of Kefalonia. AND I am going to do my Jools Holland best by accompanying the awesome Hollie on the piano for a rendition of her fantastic new single Querencia which is going to be a joy and a privilege.
As usual tickets are £6 if you order in advance or £8 on the door. To hear tracks by the three acts and to buy tickets the link is https://demerararecords.com/vanishing-point
The 1st Anniversary gig on 1st August was an absolute blast with stunning sets from Catherine Rudie & The Kisses; Another Venus; Apocalypse Jazz Unit and Jen. You can read about the gig and see some of the pics of the night at https://facebook.com/DemeraraRecords.
MING & JON RIDE OUT TO FESTIVAL DU BOUT DU MONDE
The amazing Ming Nagel & Jon Read (aka two of Project Blackbird and presenters of the mighty Monday Night Ride Out on Exile FM) rode out, quite literally [hence the name of the show] and executed a full-on biker hike all the way from Melton Mowbray in the English East Midlands to Brittany in the North of France to attend The Festival du Bout du Monde. They also spent every day compiling this wonderful blog for which you will need the password Crozon2019 and a Tumblr account to sign in. It has Ming’s wonderful poetry, lots of fantastic pics, video footage of the event and more besides. Check it out at https://mingjoncrozon.tumblr.com/
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
Listening to the French Underground edition of Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) presented by another friend of mine Nick Luscombe introduced me to the unsettling sound world of French avant gardist composer and sound artist Maxime Barthélemy (https://electrocd.com/en/artiste/barthelemy_ma/Maxime_Barth%C3%A9lemy) with his grenade noises and babbling barely audible human voices which held my attention.
We also had one of my favourite composers, the late twentieth [and early twenty-first] century Romanian Spectral music genius Horaitu Râdulescu‘s (https://www.horatiuradulescu.com/) Subconscious Wave, Op. 58, a mind-boggling piece making use of the less obvious timbres and textures of the guitar and its acoustic properties. Râdulescu, of course, studied in Paris and was part of Messiaen‘s famous composition class, hence the French connection. It was expertly performed by Sam Cave (http://www.samcave.com/).
I particularly liked the engaging Sound Art of Scottish composer and artist Duncan Chapman (http://www.duncanchapman.org/) with his Possilpark to Cove Park built around recordings of running water and quiet spoken voice samples. This combination of field recordings gently treated to digital enhancement and sampling of spoken word produced a gentle, enigmatic soundscape. I note also that Duncan records for Linear Obsessional, run of course by my good friend Richard Sanderson.
Nérija (https://nerijamusic.bandcamp.com/) describe themselves as ‘… a collective of London based musicians playing original and exciting music’. And, on the evidence of the track Last Straw, they live up to that claim, taking us on a journey through dreamy chord changes, sometimes sliding up or down a semi-tone with some cool funky guitar, mind-spinning drums, fluid rhythms and sax straight from the best traditions of Coltrane, Shorter et al. The track is taken from their new album Blume which, on the sample listen I have had, also displays a refreshing tendency towards interesting and exotic rhythms, adventurous harmonic language and all-round superb musicianship.
Riverfest is a good example of their music, lasting over five and a half minutes and developing from a tuneful horns-led theme through spells of individual improvisation into a full-on climatic final section. The chords that kick off the final track Blume II are stunning as is the short but sumptious harmonically sweet track that ensues. In between there is so much music to lose yourself in including the soulful epic EU (Emotionally Unavailable) which is enigmatic, beautiful and has some breathtaking playing to boot.
WORLD IN UNION
I always love it when Cerys Matthews covers the wonderful WOMAD festival for BBC Radio 6 Music and this year once again she didn’t disappoint. When you combine a music lover with a knowledge and depth of understanding of music from so many sources as Cerys possesses with such a diverse line-up of artists you can’t really go wrong.
Among the many guests she spoke with and tracks played, one of the highlights was her interview with Petite Noir (https://petitenoirmusic.com/) aka singer-songwriter Yannick Ilunga. He is a Belgian-born South African-raised musician who is spearheading a new scene in Southern Africa known as Noirwave which, in essence, is blending some of the traditional Southern African music and what has become generically known as Afrobeat with influences from Art Rock and Alternative Pop music from the UK and USA. Cerys played the tracks Blame Fire and Down. It was also interesting to hear Ilunga talk about his never-ending quest to learn about more music and continue to bring new influences into his work.
Also on the same edition of the show Cerys talked with the Jamaican artist Brushy One String (https://www.brushyonestring.com) whose style is very much a stripped down version of Reggae and Folk, his tendency to accompany his passionate vocals by playing one string at a time, something that arises from his childhood dream built around a one-string guitar. It was good to hear him talk about his music and to hear two tracks live from WOMAD which, in case you were wondering, stands for World of Music Arts and Dance.
There were some fantastic individual tracks played during the show too as Cerys walked around the festival grounds talking to different people. Among my favourites were the Nigerian artist Odeyimi (ttps://strut.bandcamp.com/track/oni-suru) with the joyously tuneful lilting Afrofunk of Oni Suru from the album Nigeria 70 and the similarly tuneful and upbeat sound of Tiken Jah Fakoly (http://tikenjah.net/) from the Ivory Coast featuring French Hip Hop artist Soprano (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/soprano-mn0002329121) on their new track Le Monde est chaud. You can check out the podcast of this excellent edition of Cerys’s show at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00074pv.
I have also been contacted by John Dredge & The Plinths about their new EP entitled Plinthmania (https://johndredgetheplinths.bandcamp.com/album/the-plinthsmania-ep) for which there is also a video for the excellently titled Idiots run the world (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAkkH2qT0wU&feature=youtu.be), a statement it would be especially difficult to argue with in the current climate! The video has an amusing take on the journalist whose kids invaded his news report and the song continues the same sardonic humour with a chorus you can sing along to. All good stuff.
Long time (well, a year or so!!) TTD readers will know I have a very high opinion of the super talented Sarah McQuaid (https://www.sarahmcquaid.com/) so I was delighted to receive an email from Sarah telling me about extensive US and UK tour dates and as you will see from this list, I mean extensive. Hopefully I will get along to one of these myself.
‘Miranda Lambert‘s Locomotive is Total Country Punk Rock’ exclaims online journal Taste of Country.com (https://tasteofcountry.com/miranda-lambert-locomotive-new-song/) and I can see [or rather hear] why. From the opening bar this song flies out of the speakers with driving metallic guitar mayhem accompanying Miranda’s otherwise more typically Tennessee twang. Well, it is entitled Locomotive so top marks for delivering a track which, in terms of its energy, hook and production, lives up to its title. The playing is also a refreshing mix of traditional Country style that respects the Nashville legacy while adding something of Punk and Riot Grrl! to the proceedings. The track is taken from her new album It all comes out in the wash. ‘I’m a little more Tennessee, there’s whiskey in my veins’ she sings in the opening verse. Well there you go then. Great stuff.
TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC
I always try to link my TTD Classic choice to something I have said elsewhere in the same edition. So, having mentioned them in relation to Paul Kalkbrenner (Club Culture), I have gone with the awesome Inner City (https://innercitydetroit.com/). Formed by Kevin Saunderson, one of the infamous Belleville Three (with Derrick May and Juan Atkins), the keyboardist-producer teamed up with singer Paris Grey to form a band based on the Detroit Techno sound which Saunderson had helped to shape but with Grey’s soulful, powerful voice bringing a poppier element.
Inner City actually lasted, through different incarnations, into the mid-nineties (and made a comeback more recently) but it was 1988 to 1990 that saw their best years and, in particular, the five classic hits Big Fun, Good Life, Ain’t nobody better, Do you love what you feel? and Whatcha gonna do with my lovin’. Curiously it was the UK where they enjoyed the commercial success. None of these tracks bothered the US Billboard Top 40 on original release.
Good Life has become the most celebrated track and various mixes of it have been released. It has an iconic chorus that is tailor-made for the dancefloor. However, for me, it was Ain’t nobody better and Do you love what you feel? that best demonstrated their songwriting ability. In my brief spell as part of the club night Breakout in the late nineties I made a bid to reintroduce these tracks to London clubbers!
Ain’t nobody better is a fantastic track which really shows off Paris Grey’s gritty soulful delivery in a chorus to die for. But I am opting to go with Do you love what you feel? I have two reasons. One is that it is the track no-one seems to remember or talk about. Yet it has a lovely synth figure that plays throughout most of the track and Paris’s vocals are breathtaking in terms of emotional power and sheer range. The other reason is that it brings back some wonderful memories of my last years as a single guy flat sharing in North London and recording hours of videos, including this one, from The Chart Show (Saturday mornings, ITV). So the link has to be to the video itself. Here it is now safely stored on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W62X_4FZQY0&list=RDW62X_4FZQY0&start_radio=1&t=7&t=7&t=7
Alternative Rock & Indie
Glasgow’s Wojtek the Bear (https://soundcloud.com/wojtekthebearband) are back and continue their fine form of late with a 10″ vinyl single due out on 8th November called old names for new shapes from which the track A long wait for bad news is taken.
WTB describe their music as casually smart indie pop. Well I don’t know about casual but dreamy, rather beautiful Alt Pop with resonant attractive guitars, warm harmonised male voices and a smartly understated rhythm section might capture it.
Their writing is excellent too. The verses are dark and haunting while the chorus is epic and grabs you by the ears in a pleasant, undeniable way. There is a slight retro vibe that points back to late sixties Psychedelia and Electric Folk. At the same time their sound is entirely modern and vibrant. The final major nine chord is an absolutely inspired ending.
The other track on the single is Tonic Youth which is quicker and more upbeat, major key with tuneful guitar and folky strings plus trademark inventive writing and sweet harmonies.
This is one really fine band who, with the right guidance and strategy, could have a very bright future.
The mighty Rothko (https://rothko1.bandcamp.com/) return with their first new material since granting Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House the incredible honour of staging their last ever live performance. This time Mark L Beazley has opted to work alone on the new EP and album, the first since 2018’s triumph Blood demands more blood.
So first up is the 5-track EP Burns in film available as a limited edition CD or to download at the above-mentioned Bandcamp page. It is a total contrast to the ambience and electronic alteration of sound that dominated Blood demands more blood. Having spent the evening with Mark prior to writing this review he had already told me it would be a much more Bass Guitar-dominated album, a reminder of his considerable skills both as a player and composer (well obviously he didn’t say that being an instinctively modest fellow but I can say it as it’s true). That is highly evident on the opener, the resonant and tuneful The First Call which has an air of melancholy too, aided by the longer ambient notes that begin to take centre stage in the latter half of the track.
The beginning overlapped notes and harmonic implications of Frost To Dust remind me a little of the Cocteau Twins (once Simon Raymonde joined them). A good deal of ambient sound engulfs the track as it progresses, perhaps taking a little closer to Blood … in mood if not so much in overall sound. This is followed by the title track which begins with quiet Bass Guitar in Peter Hook territory and what sounds like synth floating above it register-wise. The production techniques are mind-spinning and the intensity increases considerably as the track goes on, sounds appearing to step out of the smog.
Pitch Black Light kicks off with meaty but trebly bass figure offset by ambient semi-white noise before the Bass shifts up a notch in terms of register and volume and a quite beautiful harmonic state emerges. This is contrasted by a darker, more enigmatic middle section, bass chords (broken and unbroken) clanging agreeably against sustained pitches. An octaves figure takes the track to its conclusion. Again we have almost pretty melody and harmonic foundation with the clever bass figure that develops in the opening stretch of The Last Call Never Comes and the doubling of the three-note melodies that punctuate each phrase is lovely. After maintaining its forward momentum for a while, the Bass Guitar gives way to repeated waves of quiet ambient sound and the EP fades out in this state of suspended animation. 5 fine tracks. I can’t wait for the album.
I was listening to Tom Robinson’s excellent Saturday Night show on BBC Radio 6 Music when he expressed his surprise at how good the debut single was by South East London band Talkshow (https://open.spotify.com/track/31HP6JwDV2TunQgTIs1LYS) and I thought exactly the same thing. In fact my other immediate exclamation for me concerned the fact that, as a musician and promoter in South East London, I had not been previously aware of their existence. Clearly others were because Yala Records have signed them for the release of Fast and Loud. A quartet (three guys on guitars and bass, one gal who plays drums), their sound has the kind of dark Post-Punk aura and driving energy that recalls some of the Peel Show bands of the early eighties. Shades of The Fall, The Birthday Party and others. At the same time it has a freshness and the instrumental and production sounds are very contemporary. I am intrigued as to how they have stayed off my radar and yet amassed an array of impressive reviews. I hope to catch them live soon.
I have previously reviewed The Rumbleskulls (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQdYV1oNNqg&feature=youtu.be) so it is good to see they are back with a new track and video. Their guitarist Michael Featherstone got in touch with this link. As with their previous output the music has an air of classic Americana about it; evoking images of driving along dusty highways with the radio playing and the windows wound down. Not that they are American of course. On the contrary they are one of a number of fine bands from the sizzling creative hotbed of talent that is the city of Leeds. That also helps to contextualize the unmistakable Englishness of their sound. Shades of Teenage Fanclub in a mash-up with Owen Lake perhaps.
It is always good to hear from Simon D James and he has a new EP Days of Heaven (https://soundcloud.com/simondjames/sets/days-of-heaven/s-JrI7U) out from which the track Release & Repeat is the opener. Simon tells me he will be staggering the release of each track onto digital platforms so as to give each one its own focus before the EP is released in full. Simon’s music is always hard to pigeon-hole. It starts off quite bluesy with a shuffling rhythm and bendy-string lead guitar figure but this gives way to a laid back folky atmosphere with low register vocals and some lovely harmonies (male and female but mainly female) before the [electric] bluesy guitar returns. Foals jamming with Johnny Winter maybe! The vocals are very appealing and cleverly organised between the waves of guitar. Eventually the guitar figure is joined by a louder and passionate vocal that brings the whole thing to a Radiohead-like climax. Well there’s a mix of references for you. Best thing to do is check it out. It’s a great track.
Over & Over starts with chugging guitar contrasted with single bar-long chords. There is an air of Prefab Sprout about this both in the jazzy and suspended chords and the way Simon’s voice interacts with his female counterpart. Written by rules is sparser and has some haunting harmonies. Again there is an air of Prefab Sprout but also leaning towards Neil Young. Rhyme the reason is folkier and in triple time with some clever breaks and contrasts, a female harmonised ‘Ooh – Ooh’ playing a prominent part. The production on the voice is a nice touch too.
Fooled by you rounds off the 5-track EP, opening with a guitar figure that has something of The xx about it. Enigmatic synth adds a layer of intensity to it as ambient sounds swoop in and out. The song is a deliberate slow burner with shades of Low, Flaming Lips and Thom Yorke about it. I may be reading too much into it but the lyric and accompanying aura suggests it is politicians who are fooling us here. Certainly it is a fitting end to an impressive EP that deserves some serious attention.
D-Block Europe (http://dblockeurope.com/) have a track out called Home which might turn some TTD reader off on account of its use of that autotune effect on some of the vocals that has become something of a tired cliché on current pop records. But on the other hand, the way the lead switches continuously between the different voices in the band lends it a refreshingly Soul-influenced vibe while the syncopated beat is lovely and there is a slightly Bhangra-influenced tune playing away in the background.
D-Block Europe are from South London and describe themselves as ‘… a collective of artists led by Young Adz and Dirtbike LB‘. They traverse genres, mixing up a hotpot of influences. This is demonstrated in the smoother R’n’B-infused vibes of Large Amounts which leans into Hip Hop and Dancehall (with Trap elements). Well worthy of further exploration.
Talking of mixing up elements, Celeste (https://celeste.lnk.to/CocoBloodTW) brings an Old Skool vibe together with soulful R’n’B vibes and a killa chorus on the excellent Coco Blood. Her voice, which sits somewhere between the sultry Neo-Soul of Jill Scott and Angie Stone and, in the verses, Amy Winehouse, takes on a Jazz-orientated style at times. The stops in the beat add to the dynamic quality and that chorus rounds the whole thing off in style.
I neither hear nor get to write about nearly enough Techno these days even though it is a genre I always liked going right back to the days of Inner City, Derrick May and the Detroit Sound. So I am grateful to the awesome Nemone on BBC 6 Music for playing Paul Kalkbrenner (https://paulkalkbrenner.net/about/), German Techo artist who has made seven studio albums and has literally millions following him on social media. The track No Goodbye features a soulful female voice singing a gorgeous melody and harmonies over staccato keyboards and straight four-to-the-floor beat. So technically it probably is Techno but the feel and atmosphere of the track is more in Urban and Pop territory. It certainly sounds like a track which could be a serious club hit given the exposure. And it has made me want to check out more of his music.
Plymouth-based singer-songwriter Chris Linton has a EP out entitled New Light (https://open.spotify.com/album/3EKGiuXK04ik1JSyETdwM2) and he sent the track Perseus into Fresh on the Net. It is a thoughtful slow track with some gorgeous piano chords, passionate vocals and lovely harmonies and unison tracked moments. It is all delivered in Chris’s distinct voice with refreshing West Country twang and plenty of emotional commitment.
Fearless is a piano-dominated ballad that has Chris in reflective mood whereas opener Superhero has just sparse broken guitar chords and voice appended by a second picking guitar and harmonised backing vocals in the chorus. Reactive is for piano and voice and again is slow with plenty of space, Elton John-like chords and a vocal that is more in Biffy Clyro territory. The guitar returns for Focus which mixes strummed chords with light piano melody.
Final track Without you has tasteful piano in Ellie Goulding meets Emily Sande territory while Chris’s vocal is melancholy and reflective. The repeated piano figure is simple but inspired. This one and Perseus are my favourites from a very good EP. My only minor criticism is that the whole EP is slow and sparse and it might have been lifted by at least one track that was more uptempo and full-on arrangement-wise. But it is a small point and it is still a fine piece of work.
Epic & Cinematic
The super talented Tragic Sasha (https://soundcloud.com/tragicsasha) is back and on the finest of form with the excellent Pushover which mixes some beautifully bendy synth chords and harmonic ideas with a sparse backdrop in which her strong, distinct voice dominates proceedings. The chorus is striking and dynamic while the verses are quiet and dreamlike. When it arrives, middle section is exquisite. A stunning highlight to a really quite lovely track and a great follow-up to recent Fresh Fave Cake.
Electronic & Ambient
The awesomely talented Hinako Omori (https://hinakoomori.com) has a video on her website in which she performs a significantly extended version of the single track Teleport in what I presume is a home studio which looks like a beautiful space and overlooks Battersea Power Station and the surrounding landscape. It is a fascinating opportunity to watch Hinako operating foot pedals, looping synth patterns and voices, adding harmonies and playing her trademark warm rich synth chords and melodies. It also makes me all the more dying to see her perform her beautiful futuristic and heartwarming music live. View the video at http://www.hinakoomori.com/music.
AND FINALLY ……….
Well that’s it for Edition 32 folks. Back to a more compact size for this one and probably the next one too as I will have less new music to listen to. Once again thanks for reading and I hope to see some of you at the awesome Vanishing Point at the Ivy House on Thursday 5th September. In the meantime see you on 31st August for Edition 33. Neil xxxx