TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS
by Neil March (Edition 33, 31st August 2019)
Welcome to Edition 33 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. Edition 33 is a quiet one compared to recent others, largely because of Fresh on the Net and the BBC 6 Music Mixtape in-boxes being closed and so many people away. Still plenty to read about and hopefully a wide enough spectrum of music. Happy reading. 🙂
∗ VANISHING POINT: Kicking off Year 2 with an eclectic new music night
∗ FRESH ON THE NET LIVE: Our fantastic new festival hits Edinburgh
∗ LAWRENCE MOSS: American composer’s striking Gamelan music
∗ EMPTYSET: Anglo-German Sound Art duo back with a new album
∗ MEREDITH MONK: Stunning composing for exposed human voices
∗ INGRID PLUM: Monk-influenced young British artist and composer
∗ MARY HALVORSON: At the Leftfield end of the modern Jazz spectrum
∗ DOUG WIESELMAN: Hypnotic vibes and classy clarinet playing
∗ CARWYN ELLIS & RIO 18: Welsh Bossa Nova? I kid you not folks!
∗ SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR: Stirring sounds of Southern Africa
∗ OFFA REX: A collaborative project producing an exciting album
∗ SCOTT McCREERY: Driving energetic sounds from US artist
∗ TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC: A forgotten gem by a Sheffield band
∗ BENEATH THE SKY: Wales meets Merseyside in Shoegaze Heaven
∗ WILD HORSE: Young East Sussex Alt Rockers with a stonking choon
∗ GLASS VIOLET: Melodic resonant Alt Rock from Bristol band
∗ CHIEDU ORAKA: The King of Northern Hip Hop & Grime is back
∗ ANDERSON.PAAK: US artist collaborates with honey-voiced Brandy
∗ MAX COOPER: Old and New Skool Club Vibes mingle on the dancefloor
∗ MARIE DAVIDSON: French Canadian’s last Techno track is a good one
∗ HOLLIE FINDLAY: New single out as Hollie hits London for VP gig
∗ LUVIA: Brighton’s bright young artist with another cracking choon
∗ USSELMAN: Bouncingly buoyant epic Pop from the Essex East Coast
∗ SHARKY: Striking unusual voice & cool funky vibes on debut EP
∗ CARTER TUTTI VOID: Industrial pioneers sounding futuristic as ever
VANISHING POINT @ THE IVY HOUSE, NUNHEAD
With the memory of 1st August’s fantastic 1st Anniversary celebration gig still strong thanks to stunning sets by Catherine Rudie, Another Venus, Apocalypse Jazz Unit and Jen, we kick off Year 2 of South East London’s only truly eclectic new music monthly with a trio of acts that should provide a cracking evening’s entertainment.
Perhaps I should be a little more reticent about making such claims when the final act on is my own duo Environmental Sound Foundation (https://soundcloud.com/e-s-foundation). It is our first live appearance since playing sets on two separate stages at Fresh on the Net Live and having the privilege of another play on the mighty Tom Robinson’s Saturday Night Show on BBC Radio 6 Music. Also, as you will see if you read on, we have a couple of esteemed guests to lift our music for us!
But of course what I am also really excited about is the two acts on before us. First up is teenage singer-songwriting sensation as featured heavily of late on the Monday Night Ride Out on Exile FM Hollie Findlay (https://soundcloud.com/hollie_findlay), all the way from the Greek Island of Kefalonia where she lives. Moreover I have the privilege of doing my best ‘Jools Holland’ by accompanying Hollie on piano live for two of her tracks including the fantastic new single Querencia, a recent Fresh Fave which I genuinely think is one of the contenders for single of the year in 2019.
Then, as if that isn’t exciting enough, we also have the amazing Satin Beige (https://www.facebook.com/MissSatinBeige/) coming down from the North West and being accompanied by my great friend and top-notch musician Luke Moore (https://soundcloud.com/lukemooremusic) whose amazing band and recent Fresh Fave Operation Lightfoot (https://soundcloud.com/operation-lightfoot) headlined our December gig and brought the house down that night.
Satin’s urban-influenced Pop and Rock-infused songs are an eclectic and impressive cocktail of classy songwriting, cool musicianship and her stunning vocals. Having her and Hollie performing at the gig is going to be pretty special and with my young musical partner-in-crime Dilara to finish the night, it will be an evening dominated by super-talented young female artists. Dilara and I also can’t wait to be joined by another talented young musician Sergina Sergio and, for the second time, by the truly awesome Project Blackbird and sometimes Specials & Dandy Warhols trumpeter (and co-presenter of the Monday Night Ride-Out on Exile FM), Jon Read on flugelhorn. So all in all a very special evening in store.
Book now and you can save £2 a ticket. Find out how and check out tracks by all three acts at https://demerararecords.com/vanishing-point.
FRESH ON THE NET LIVE, SCOTLAND
Just two months on from the hugely successful inaugural Fresh on the Net Live festival of new music in North London which I had the honour of curating and organising on behalf of Team Freshnet, we have the first Fresh on the Net Live in Scotland taking place on 15th September at Leith Depot in Edinburgh, curated and managed by my good friend and fellow FOTN moderator-author Chris Ingram. And to top off what promises to be another amazing event, Chris has managed to get TTD favourites Cloth (https://soundcloud.com/cloth-302227722) to headline it. My only regret is that I won’t be there to experience it.
However, if you are able to be in Edinburgh on 15th September, you can. And at only £5 a ticket for an event which offers seven acts and a DJ set, it is surely a no-brainer. Also on the mouth watering bill Chris has curated for the event are the likes of Glasgow Psych Indie band Garlands (https://www.facebook.com/GARLANDSGLASGOW/) plus Annie Booth (https://anniebooth.bandcamp.com/); Sera (https://www.serasongs.com/) and William Douglas (http://www.miracleglasscompany.com/) with his Miracle Glass Company. With acts of this calibre you know it is going to be a pretty special night.
Read more about the event and book tickets by logging onto https://freshonthenet.co.uk/2019/07/live-edinburgh-2019/
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
The ever-reliable Max Reinhardt was on fine form this month when it was his turn to present Late Junction (BBC Radio 3).
One of the tracks he played was from a new album of Gamelan-inspired music by 91 year old US composer Lawrence Moss (https://www.innova.mu/albums/lawrence-moss/new-dawn) entitled New Dawn which features a number of performers including the Kiev Philharmonic; Composers’ Choir and a host of others. On the excerpt played on Late Junction the performers were Sarah Eckman McIver and Lee Hinckle who, between them, demonstrated the fragile beauty and striking language of Moss’s work with the otherworldly combination of the probing microtonal flute and sparse percussion. It was stirring, evocative of vast open land and mist and compelling to listen to.
The track Bloom by Emptyset (https://emptyset1.bandcamp.com/) is a cleverly organised and highly agreeable slice of gradually developing Sound Art which is taken from the new album Blossoms released on clear vinyl 12″ by Thrill Jockey Records. Emptyset is a duo of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas formed in 2005 between London and Berlin using a learned electronic music process and improvisation involving wood, metal and drum skins.
The accompanying blurb claims: ‘The system demonstrates obscure mechanisms of relational reasoning and pattern recognition, finding correlations and connections between seemingly unrelated sounds and manifesting an emergent non-human musicality’. It goes on to make various lofty claims about the forward-looking ethos and examination of sound etc. which one might consider to be bordering on the pretentious. Still, they make interesting and oddly appealing soundscapes.
It isn’t new music in the literal sense but new to me is a work by leading US composer Meredith Monk (https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7962236–meredith-monk-impermanence) from 2008 entitled Impermanence inspired by workshops involving terminally ill parents from which I was fortunate to hear the stunning Disequilibrium. Anyone who has read my reviews of music by the amazing British composer Emily Hall will know I am particularly taken with composers who can utilise human voices in ethereal, haunting and unique ways and Monk achieves just that with the bendy harmonics and expert scoring here. It is just stunning and makes me want to go and listen to the remainder of this seemingly unsung album of gems.
That neatly brings us to Ingrid Plum (https://www.ingridplum.com/) although it was actually Late Junction who put the tracks together on their playlist so I cannot take credit for that! Ingrid Plum is a vocalist and composer from Brighton who is inspired by Meredith Monk and the track Les Roches Mères from her 2018 album Taut certainly demonstrates that love of Monk, placing similarly mind-bending vocal writing and harmonic language against some beautifully sparse tuned percussion and translucent textures that are really quite beautiful and unusual.
It begins with whispered voices before voices begin to sing sustained notes in glissando harmony that is haunting and non-tonal while bells appear, adding to the sustained character of the individual pitches. Meanwhile the whispered spoken voice becomes louder and spoken voice in French appears and disappears. More sounds (percussive, scratching etc.) add to the intensity of the emerging soundcape, a loud triangle playing sporadically too. There is a lot of recently recorded and released material on Ingrid Plum’s web pages. This prolific and impressive artist must surely come to the attention of a wider audience very soon.
Also among the gems Max and the Reduced Listening production team unearthed on the show was a track called And by American Avant-Garde jazz guitarist and composer Mary Halvorson (http://www.maryhalvorson.com/bio/). Halvorson hails from Brookline, Massachusetts (yes Brookline, not Brooklyn, NY!). A graduate of Wesleyan University she has quietly amassed a reputation through working with a host of accomplished names while developing her own uniquely non-tonal style.
And is taken from her most recent album, 2018’s Code Girl featuring a superb band of supporting musicians, notably [on this track] the trumpeting skills of Ambrose Akinmusire. Jagged rhythms, sparse soundscapes and pointedly non-major/minor tonalities all make this a striking, original track. The album is clearly well worth seeing out and spending time with.
American reed player Doug Wieselman (https://www.dougwieselman.com/) also featured on Late Junction with the track Pacific 2 on which the melodies, textures and hypnotic patterns of pitches are inspired by the sounds and ambience of the Pacific Ocean. Accompanied by a fine line-up of collaborating performers, his clarinet playing is captivating and takes centre stage on this really unusual piece. The language is almost contemporary classical and semi-modal although the essence arises from Wieselman’s jazz sensibilities. It is music that traverses boundaries and dips into different worlds (as so much great music does and should). Well worth the effort to check it out.
WORLD IN UNION
It isn’t every day that I get to write about a Welsh Bossa Nova artist but that is essentially what we have with the extraordinary Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 (http://www.newsoundwales.com/interviews/carwyn-ellis-rio-18/). Ellis has worked with a dazzling list of top names including both Edwyn Collins and Chrissie Hynde and it was the latter who persuaded him to team up with Brazilian producer Kassin to record his 2019 album Joia.
So I am grateful to Radcliffe & Maconie on BBC Radio 6 Music for airing the track Twywdd Hufen Ia on which the joyous blend of Welsh Celtic music and South American Bossa is amply demonstrated with sweet vocal harmonies, exotic rhythms and light bright textures all on display. It is a wonderful concept and one that merits making the effort to seek out this unique album.
Not exactly new music I admit but the triple Grammy-nominated Soweto Gospel Choir (https://www.sowetogospelchoir.com/) are an extraordinary group of singers who have collaborated with everyone from U2 to Chance and from Peter Gabriel to Pharrel Williams. But I had to comment after hearing their a capella rendition of Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika on BBC 6 Music when Tom Robinson sat in again for Cerys Matthews. It was just so wholesome, stirring and emotionally powerful that it merited a special mention in this section of TTD. What an incredible choir they are.
I heard Offa Rex (https://www.offarex.co/) on Tom Robinson’s Saturday Night Show when he dedicated his after hour section to Folk music. The track The Queen of Hearts is the title track for an album which is a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney & The Decemberists. If this is an indication of what is on the remainder of the album, it is an impressive taster, strong distinct vocals, inventive and unpredictable songwriting and structure, effortless musicianship and robust punchy production. This is, in every sense, contemporary folk music that respects but does not attempt to revive past traditions and incorporates a range of influences, nodding to Americana in the process.
American artist Scott McCreery (https://www.scottymccreery.com/) has a track called In Between which is possibly more Country Rock than Country in so much as it has the driving energy, guitar style and Eagles/Poco-ish chorus that I associate with that genre although it is unquestionably Country at heart. His sound is big, exuberant and upbeat and he has a voice that translates well onto radio. Judging by the crowds turning out for his tour dates across the USA, he is already making a considerable name for himself there. With support from BBC Radio 2’s Country Show, he can hopefully build a fanbase here too.
TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC: COMSAT ANGELS
There have been several references to resonant guitar-driven music leaning into areas like Shoegaze and Dream Pop in this edition. This made me think about a band who, in the first few years of the nineteen eighties, looked destined to be one of the most successful and important of that first wave of bands that included Joy Division/New Order, U2, Wah!, Teardop Explodes, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure etc. who set the standard for Post-Punk music bringing Punk, Psych and Pop influences together. They toured with U2 in October 1981 and I saw them at Hemel Hempstead Pavilion. But somehow they never seemed to get the same breaks and, despite the stalwart support of John Peel, the music press were divided over them, some seeing them as an important and darker force within the burgeoning Post-Punk movement, others writing them off as dour and unexciting.
I am talking about Sheffield’s Comsat Angels (http://www.comsatangels.org/), fronted by guitarist and singer Stephen Fellowes whose deep distinctive voice and reverberant bendy guitar figures were key elements of their dark, driven Post-Punk sound. The other three band members, who collectively assisted in shaping their unique sound and style, were Bass Guitarist Kevin Bacon, Keyboardist Andy Peake and drummer Mik Glaisher. A later line-up formed in 1993 saw just Fellowes and Bacon remain from the original band. Although they never achieved the commercial success once hoped for them they have often been cited as an influence on later scenes including the early nineties Dream Pop/Shoegaze movement and on some of the later Psych Post-Punk influenced bands of the 2000s. TV critic Mark Kermode called them ‘… the band who Joy Division should have become’ which is a great compliment even if it is a statement I cannot entirely agree with!
The Comsats made, for me, three fine albums. 1980’s Waiting for a miracle was an intense, edgy album that included the superb single Total War but also the majestic Independence Day which was re-released in 1984 and became their most popular anthem thanks not least to the contrast between edgier translucent verse with prominent guitar harmonics and a thundering melodic chorus. 1981’s Sleep no more saw them move further towards a Psych-influenced dark driven style with heaps of guitar echo and enigmatic lyrics. I have never managed to confirm this but I have often wondered whether the excellent Goat of the West was written about the then US President Ronald Reagan, a controversial figure seen as a war-mongering right winger who was simultaneously a threat to global stability and a figure of comic ridicule (although in retrospect he seems positively tame and cuddly compared to Donald Trump!). Its chorus of ‘It’s so funny/Did you see what happened?/It’s so funny/But I’m not laughing’, along with its title, seemed to point in that direction.
1982’s Fiction was slightly poppier or perhaps it was slightly less heavy but it failed to yield a single capable of crossing over onto mainstream radio and with the other leading lights from that first Post-Punk wave all having enjoyed more mainstream success and recognition by this point, it felt like the Comsats were lagging behind. The belated re-issue of Independence Day in 1984 failed to resolve the situation. A switch of label from Polydor to Jive only saw the band’s sound appear to become confused, a mish mash of previous Post-Punk and Psych-leaning enigma and a more AOR-oriented radio-seeking Rock style which didn’t suit them. Sadly I lost interest after that and lost touch with their subsequent output. I do recall hearing a track on, of all stations, Radio Caroline (the then ocean-based Rock pirate station) and thinking ‘what have they done?!’.
Nevertheless they gave us three great albums and a number of intervening singles including a 12″ vinyl EP Eye of the Lens from which my Trust The Doc classic choice is taken although it also appeared on the album Sleep no more released the same year. That track is called Gone and its unusual and big echoing beat, solid bass, subtle keyboard drone and big bendy guitar riff combine to create something that was so original and impressive at the time and still gives me a rush 38 years later! I also love the interplay between the voices and the intensity that creates. It has a cool middle section too which leads into the final chorus-coda as the vocals ask ‘What is his name?’ in overlapping insistence and the guitar adds a new figure that has shades of the Velvets.
All in all a fine track and one in which I can hear how the Comsat Angels became an influence on bands as diverse as Curve, Catherine Wheel, Slowdive, Blacklist and Interpol. Here’s the link. Sorry it isn’t an ‘official’ video but it’s the track I want you to hear – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2-S5a0r7TY&t=7s
Alt Rock & Indie
Become The Sky (https://becomethesky.bandcamp.com/) hail from Liverpool and The Wirral (i.e. either side of the Mersey) but have a strong connection to Wales as will become clear when I tell you about their excellent new EP Aurora.
They are unashamedly Shoegaze and Dream Pop inspired. Indeed there is more than a single dose of Cocteau Twins about the slow tempi, powerful resonant drums, melodic bass, fuzzy ambience and strong female vocals. But then singer Anne-Marie Howard doesn’t sing in a Liz Fraser manner but has a more alto range voice that is influenced by the likes of Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Debbie Harry. Bass Guitarist Mike Simms has a style that combines adherence to making tonal centres and roots clear with a clear liking for the melodic possibilities of the instrument, placing him in Peter Hook territory and actually recalling Rothko’s Mark L Beazley. Live their use of pedals to achieve layers of sound and ambience without pre-recording anything clearly contributes to the appealing cloudburst of sound that emanates from their tracks regardless of tempo.
Guitarist Joel Sawyer plays some lovely chords and figures accompanied by resonant effects and a big spacious sound while Marcus Mayes drives the whole thing along with his powerful, crisp and inventive drumming.
The EP kicks off, bravely I would say, with the most leftfield track, the spoken word Ganwyd Eto with lyrics postulating Welsh independence (albeit in Welsh so most English folk will need to read the translation) courtesy of Anne Maris. It’s a cool ambient piece and sets the mood in terms of their instrumental style before the majestic My Favourite Escape follows with its very Cocteaus-influenced slow build-up of sound and spine-tingling vocal melody.
Violent Skies (lyrics by Natalie Townsend) is more driving and ups the ante on the wall of sound front. The vocals take it in a completely different direction to the previous track even though the style is still firmly in contemporary Dream Pop ballpark and the seismic rush of ambient sound that floods the track is really something. End Of The Story rounds the EP off with triplet time feel, a vocal that is almost in Sharon Van Etten/Courtney Barnett territory while the guitar rises and drops in volume and texture, the drums are understated and the bass mainly stays on roots for most of the song give or take the odd run of passing notes. The track builds in intensity and dynamic. It reminds me in bits of The Sundays in a jam with Mazzy Star. Well, all cool references anyway. A fitting end to a refreshingly inventive and exciting EP.
TTD favourites Wild Horse (https://soundcloud.com/wildhorseofficial) have a new track out called Why do we pretend? A slow track in triplet time, it has an air of classic Rock and Roll about it, fortified by the haunting sax solo that precedes the key modulation at the end. Distinct and appealingly gritty tenor range vocal swoops and shivers around the understated guitar-dominated verses building towards the full-on rock powerhouse of a chorus. Beneath this fiery surface sits an air of melancholy. It is a great track, taken from their excellent 2019 album DANCE!! Like an animal which was released in April.
Wild Horse hail from East Sussex and have been building a reputation for their exciting energetic rock-based sound. They are highly proactive on social media and very supportive of fellow bands and artists which is always heartening to see. 2020 could be a big year for them. Let’s hope so.
Bristol band Glass Violet (https://ffm.to/oblqjpb) have a new track out called Chemicals. The associated link takes you to an excerpt of it and you can hear the whole track at https://open.spotify.com/album/5aBV2t2JCl0yNADDsD7qSy. The band sent it in a DM on Twitter which I would not always respond to when it’s in such a form but, as I have heard them before, I gave it a listen and it’s a melodic slice of mid-tempo Alt Rock with an appealing hook, some gorgeous resonant guitar playing and a nice energy.
The inimitable Chiedu Oraka (https://soundcloud.com/chiedu-oraka) is back and in some style. He and his partner-in-grime (owch, couldn’t resist that one!) Deez Kid have teamed up with Jacob Aaron (https://soundcloud.com/jacobaaronmusic) on a new single entitled Men Behaving Badly, a subject Chiedu and his mates certainly know a thing or two about.
They have managed to get football legend Michael Owen to give an endorsement to Chiedu in a video trailer which is on Chiedu’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/chieduorakaofficial/) and there is another fantastic trailer involving some of his friends and, most importantly, his mum telling us how not to as well as how to correctly pronounce his name! All of which puts you in a great mood to enjoy the new track.
From the moment the intro comes in with its sub bass riff and enigmatic chords I have the sense that this is going to be another exciting step on the Chiedu Oraka journey and then in comes Chiedu’s voice with characteristically tongue-in-cheek humour and unmistakable style. Where else would you hear a rap artist manage to include a lyric like ‘We’re all good lads, yeah we’re sound as a pound’?! The combination of his unique Hull-inspired delivery and lyrics about a night out with Deez and co and Jacob Aaron’s vocal which sits somewhere between contemporary R’n’B and Dancehall really works. And of course it’s Chiedu so there’s some implication that anyone who messes with his peeps are going to get battered! Good humoured, funky and great entertainment but, all the same, don’t mess!
Also check out the no-punches-pulled sparser Northern Grime and hard-nosed humour of Blueface and the jagged semi-Drum’n’Bass minimalism of Pressure x Deezkid, both tracks that have appeared on Chiedu’s Soundcloud page since I last wrote about him. And talking of ‘since I last wrote about him’, his career continues to move forward helped by a headlining performance at Humberstreetsesh and a collaborative deal with local food store Yankee Land. Hopefully we will also see Men Behaving Badly landing in our Fresh on the Net in-box after we reopen in September. And more to the point, I hope this single gets some well-deserved attention from UK and other radio stations.
American rapper and producer Anderson.Paak (http://www.andersonpaak.com) has teamed up with the honey-voiced Brandy on a new track called Jet Black. The combination of a funky old skool beat and bassline, Anderson.Paak’s tenor register rap (which has shades of Kendrick Lamar) and Brandy’s soulful alto voice produces something pretty special. Smooth and funky, street and soulful. Check it out.
Irish artist Max Cooper (https://maxcooper.net/) wanted to produce a track for that moment at the end of the night when the lights come on to reveal slightly bleary eyed and dishevelled clubbers dying to have just one more track to groove to. So he has come up with a classic piece of Electro-House entitled Perpetual Motion which recalls some of the early 90s artists like 808 State and Altern8 but with all the benefits of more contemporary synth sounds and production. It is a reminder that House music is so often at its best when it is purely instrumental. Lovely stuff.
French Canadian artist Marie Davidson (https://mariedavidson.bandcamp.com) has a new single out on Ninja Tunes entitled Chasing the light which has given me an excuse to write about Techno in consecutive editions of TTD. She claims this will be the last track she makes in this club-driven style so it will be fascinating to see where she goes next with her music but this is an uptempo trancey slice of Techno with rapid electronic note patterns and straight four-four beat which is certainly made for the dancefloor and the big bass bins. A great way to sign off on this phase of her development as an artist and writer. I look forward to hearing her new material soon.
I know I have written about this track before but Kefalonia-based Blackpool-connected teenage talent extraordinaire Hollie Findlay (https://soundcloud.com/hollie_findlay) has now released the stunning track and recent FOTN ‘Fresh Fave’ Querencia as a single. It is a song built around the simplest four-chord repeating figure but Hollie has managed to construct what amounts to four distinct melodies (first and second part of verse, a bridge and a killer chorus) and each one is inspired, melancholy and impossible to get out of my head. Her voice is accompanied by a piano-dominated backing track and she includes her own inspired backing vocal features. I am excited that Hollie is coming to play Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House and I will have the privilege of playing piano on this track with her live on stage. A contender for single of the year in my opinion.
Epic & Cinematic
Brighton artist Luvia (https://soundcloud.com/luvia_music) is back with a new single which, in my humble opinion, is her best yet. I may be slightly biased because I saw her perform Kiss at the Fresh On The Net Live festival I organised in North London last month and commented to her manager Kelly that I thought it would make a great single. He, of course, pointed out that it was already lined up as the next single. So great minds … ha ha! Anyway, it finds her uniquely striking and unusual voice weaving its way around some choice chords, building the intensity of the track as the expression pours from her vocal delivery and the dynamic arrangement.
Information about its precise release date is a little sketchy but there’s a link to the track here. The blurb from RGM compares her to Mazzy Star and Lana Del Rey. No offence but she sounds nothing like either! But then she doesn’t really sound much like many of the influences named on her Facebook page either! The Billie Eilish comparison is the only one that makes sense to me. I would also say Bebe Rexha could be a reference and, more vaguely, Sia. Style-wise there is a Soul element that harks right back to the old skool (especially in her preference for songs in three-time and the sensual pulling back on the longer notes). Moreover she has a sound that is distinct and instantly recognizable and that, in 2019, is a very good asset indeed.
I wasn’t really sure where to review Usselman (https://soundcloud.com/usselman) from Southend, named after their creative driving force Chris Usselman but Epic and Cinematic seemed about right. The new single Wolf is such a massive slice of synth and big drums inspired Pop. The high vocals and nagging hook reminds me of Scissor Sisters but then the bouncingly buoyant backdrop is very eighties. The song itself takes no time to get inside my head and promptly claim squatters’ rights! According to Lammo this is a sample of the ‘burgeoning Southend scene’. Sounds like I need to look into this too.
I am grateful to the excellent Record of the Day for bringing Sharky (https://sharkysharkysounds.bandcamp.com/album/fruit-ep) to my attention. The Londoner has a distinct, otherworldly voice and she knows how to pen a choon for sure. The EP Fruit delivers an exotic mix of tracks, all infused with funky vibes, jazz-tinged chords, clever backing vocals and Sharky’s unique voice at the centre of it all. Touch appears to be the track being pushed by her label and it is easy to see why given its lilting summer night groove and memorable hook. I do love the sudden switch of mood, tempo and feel too and how Sharky adjusts her vocals accordingly although this will presumably be taken out for the radio edit. However I like the title track even more which has all the previously mentioned elements. It’s an impressive EP all through. She looks a real find. Apparently she has already been played by BBC 6 Music’s Gilles Petersen and by BBC 1Xtra. Exciting days ahead.
Electronic & Ambient
Fans of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle will be pleased to hear that Chris Carter, Cosi Fanni Tutti and Nick Colk Void have collaborated on another album as Carter Tutti Void (http://www.chrisandcosey.com/cartertuttivoid/) and the track T3.5 was included on the BBC 6 Music Recommends playlist by Mary Anne Hobbs. It is a deliciously dark slice of futuristic electronica in which Tutti’s haunting whispered vocals play off against hypnotic synth patterns, fluid ambience and long electronic pitches that sizzle and pop over a constant beat. If this is a taster, the album (their third as a trio) is going to be well worth seeking out. It is also a measure of their continuing desire and ability to plough new furrows and remain forward-looking over 40 years on from the early days of Industrial Records. This is now their final album as a trio so talk about going out on a high.
And Finally …..
Well it’s been a quieter month for new music with Fresh on the Net closed and so many people away for summer but then it has also given me a rare opportunity to listen to more radio and write about some of the artists I might not usually consider for a primarily new music artist oriented blog. By the time Edition 34 is published we will be back in the flow of new material submitted to Fresh on the Net and the BBC 6 Music Introducing Mixtape so don’t be surprised if it’s a bit of a bumper issue! Meanwhile, thanks for reading as ever and see you on 15th September. Neil xxxx