Trust The Doc Edition 37

TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS

by Neil March (Edition 37, 31st October 2019)

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Welcome to Edition 37 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 follow the label’smy Twitter accounts and the label’s Instagram account. In all cases I will follow you back.

So what has the last half-month moved me to write about in Ed. 37? Well if Ed. 36 caused a bit of a surprise by having more pure Pop content compared to Alt Rock & Indie and others, regular readers may [or may not] be relieved to hear order is restored with a packed Alt Rock & Indie section. Also news about a thrilling Vanishing Point gig on 7th November and the third Fresh on the Net Live event of 2019 as my fellow moderator Chris Ingram takes another bunch of emerging acts to Liverpool.

♦ VANISHING POINT @ THE IVY HOUSE: 4 more amazing acts for £6

♦ FRESH ON THE NET LIVE @ LIVERPOOL: New Music in Merseyside

♦ PROJECT BLACKBIRD: UK & European tour kicks off in Leicester

♦ MATHIEU KARSENTI: Debussy-inspired guitar magic & skills

AFRODEUTSCHE: Leftfield Electronic & Sound Art happenings

♦ THE DEATH PARTICLE: More explorative free jazz from Wrexham

♦ KA SAFAR: Alice Coltrane-inspired with a whole lot of other flavas

♦ NORBERTO VALDES: More uplifting vibes from Cuban composer

♦ ANNIE DRESSNER: London-based New Yorker with top tunes

♦ EDEN IRIS: Folk and a whole lot of other flavours from Auckland

♦ ELERI ANGHARAD: Welsh Folk singer shows her Country side

♦ TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC: A legendary track from South America

♦ TIÉRNY: Jazz-tinged Pop and Baroquetronica from Merseyside

♦ LEON MARSHALL: Singer-songwriter with past & present influences

♦ SALAKO: Working up a distinctive Soul-influenced Pop vibe

♦ LISA PAC: Austrian Pop artist plying her trade in the UK Capital

♦ ZILVERBACKS: A one-man band making interesting Alt Pop choons

♦ THE INSTITUTES: End of the Trail’s new boys play driving Alt Rock

♦ NORTH PARADE: Birmingham band deliver top-notch Alt Pop track

♦ FRAGILE CREATURES: Brighton’s Alt Rockers return with a cool choon

♦ SHIPPA-63: Australian one man band with some classic influences

♦ DEAR TENEMENT: Anthemic Indie Rock from busy Glaswegian band

♦ THE MODERN STRANGERS: Raising hell in Tunbridge Wells!

♦ MOUNT FOREL: High quality Alt Pop with cool musicianship

♦ ASKIES: More high quality Alt Pop jangle coming out of Leeds

♦ THE STEADY LETTERS: Energetic Alt Rock from Londoners

♦ WELLINGTA: Londoner with distinct brand of Soul & R’n’B

♦ JVSMINE: Born in Singapore, raised in Fiji, making music in London

♦ BUD SUGAR: Mashing up Afrobeat, Reggae, Calypso & Urban Pop

♦ THE KUNIG: Amber Valley’s Production Prince with another top tune

♦ LUCIE HILL: Guitar-driven Indie Rock from New Zealander

♦ HUMAN BEING: Soundtrack-like soundscapes from composer-pianist

♦ DELIAH: Epic intense and climatic Pop from Liverpudlian duo

♦ FEATHER HOUSE: Deep crooning, vibrato strings & a sinister aura

♦ TWENTY-THREE HANGING TREES: Atmospheric music from new act

VANISHING POINT @ THE IVY HOUSE (7th November)

The next Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House takes place on Thursday 7th November and I have a mouth watering line-up for you to enjoy for a mere £6 (advance) or £8 (door). First up will be the awesome Kassia Flux, experimental multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and leftfield composer named as one of Late Junction‘s ten artists of the year in 2018. Then it will be local Indie/Alt Rock artist Louie Marlow and his excellent band. After that we have Boubakiki, the Sax and Handpan project of the amazing Joe Steele and Rosie Bergonzi and finally it’s the insane Electronic Alt Rock of former fresh faves Legpuppy whose live shows are renowned for their unsettling entertainment value. If you can be in South East London next Thursday you do NOT want to miss this!

FRESH ON THE NET LIVE MERSEYSIDE (2nd November)

The third Fresh on the Net Live is happening this coming Saturday in Liverpool and it is going to be superb. My good friend and fellow FOTN moderator-author Chris Ingram is organising it and, after the success of the FOTN Live he put on in Edinburgh, you know this one will be a great event too. And included in the line-up are TTD favourites Operation Lightfoot and Cerys Eless as well as FOTN favourites like Tom Mouse SmithKate Stapely Band and Courteous Thief. Read this article on the FOTN site for full details of who is playing and how to get tickets.

PROJECT BLACKBIRD: Tour kicks off in Leicester (with Cholly)

My amazing friends Project Blackbird kick off their three month tour of the UK and Europe with an afternoon gig on Sunday 3rd November and the support act will be another TTD favourite Cholly. Details of this gig and the rest of the tour (which includes both acts appearing again for Vanishing Point in December) can be found here.

CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL/LEFTFIELD

Mathieu Karsenti is a highly skilled guitarist who has come up with a particularly lovely piece entitled Estampes After Debussy and while it is somewhat more lush and pretty than anything Debussy would have composed, the influence of the French master is certainly audible in the evocative arpeggioic glissandi and dreamy chordplay. It is beautifully written and played, accompanied by sparse background sounds but with the guitar occupying centre stage at all times.

Karsenti is an award-winning soundtrack composer and multi-instrumentalist and you can find more of his impressive work both on the above Soundcloud link and at his Bandcamp page. Something tells me this will not be the last time I feature his music in Trust The Doc. In the meantime it is great that I came across this work because he submitted it to Fresh on the Net, a further reminder that we love to receive the widest possible spectrum of music.

I heard Afrodeutsche on Elizabeth Alker’s excellent Unclassified on BBC Radio 3. They are a new name to me and their music seems to veer between the kind of beat-driven electronica that sits more obviously under Electronic & Ambient and leftfield experimentalism and sound art that sits better in this section. They use a lot of mind-boggling synth riffs, ambient sounds and electronic programmes producing sometimes mainly sound-based conceptions but sometimes quite stark and unusual harmonic language. Spoken word elements appear and disappear at times too. Elements of Germanic electronic music a la Tangerine Dream and the less poppy end of Kraftwerk, shades also of Cabaret Voltaire but the music also nods to contemporary artists like Kate Carr and even Aphex Twin. I certainly recommend checking them out.

 JAZZ JOURNEYS

The Death Particle or TDP as they are often shown are an enigmatic act from Wrexham in North Wales who throw down some mind-expanding freeform jazz tunes. Such is the case with Sunlight here I am which arrived in my in-box with scant information about the band or the track. It subsequently made the fresh faves where I reviewed it for Team Freshnet [meaning this is the second time I’ve reviewed it this week].

It starts off slowly with a free rhythm, busy double bass, high register guitar picking and sustained overlapping horns. Then, as the drums really pick up the pace and jagged funky undercurrents and the bass becomes more staccato and agitated, so the band really kicks off, the saxes acting out a call and response figure panned left and right. This eventually gives way to a dreamy static section that ends suddenly. Reference points are difficult to pinpoint here but possible shades of John Meyer and Pharoah Sanders in a jam with Shabaka Hutchings and Moses Boyd … maybe! It’s very good anyway which is what you really want to know.

A new name to me until I heard them on the wonderful Monday Night Ride Out on Exile FM earlier in October is Ka Safar whose track Pyramid really caught my attention. It turned out that my super talented friend Jon Read is the trumpeter on the track. They are the brainchild of drummer and percussionist Lee Boyd Allitson who has impressively brought together a stunning line-up of musicians (and, I am told, a live dancer too).

The original inspiration for this exciting band was Alice Coltrane which, let’s face it, is a very good starting point. Their Facebook page additionally lists Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders (second mention today), Joe Henderson and Mulatu Astatke as influences. My friend and fellow ESF member Dilara would heartily approve!

In an online conversation with Ming Nagel when she and Jon were giving Pyramid its world radio premiere, I likened it to Pharoah Sanders and Miles Davis in a jam with Denys Baptiste.

It kicks off with a glissando figure that sounds like someone has put on Heatwave’s Boogie Nights and there’s interference from a spoken word art pop piece! Then boom, a delightful rhythmic configuration kicks in with busy drums and low register horns and a cool explorative track ensues with some tasty solos, contrapuntal interplay and a harmonic language that is loose and fluid. The track lasts over ten minutes and never threatens to bore. According to Jon this is one of their shorter tracks (he and Ming joked that it’s their radio edit) so these guys and gals like to take their inventiveness to the next level. I can’t wait to hear more. They are playing a lot of gigs too which is great news.

WORLD IN UNION

Norberto Valdes has been reviewed in TTD before and the Cuban composer is back with another sunny, uplifting slice of traditional Latin joy entitled Tu Me Enseṅste – Fabian Quiala, Team Cuba which is a grooving piece with an instantly infectious melody adorned by rich orchestration and effortless musicianship. It has an anthemic feel which I presume is why it contains the words Team Cuba in the title. Definitely one to have blasting out of the speakers on a hot day with the car windows down.

FOLK FINDINGS

I am very taken with Annie Dressner‘s new track Fly which I had the fortune of reviewing for the Fresh on the Net fresh faves this week. Annie is a New Yorker who settled in London seven years ago and has beeen patiently building a reputation through [so far] two studio albums, several significant festival performances and regular live shows in prestigious venues.

Her music falls very broadly into Folk but I could just as easily review it in the Singer-Songwriter section. I described Fly as Folk-Pop in my FOTN review. Strumming guitar, subtle sounds and nuances peeking through and Annie’s beautiful voice which is soft and soothing at one extreme but also has an edge too, helped by her accent which is distinct and appealing. ‘I’m going to grow wings and fly’ she sings. As I noted in the FOTN review, with songs like this, she is already soaring above the clouds. I now look forward to hearing the forthcoming single which I have so far heard a snippet from.

Eden Iris hails from Auckland, New Zealand and she lists a number of influences which go some way to explaining her sound and style which sees [or hears] her mixing a slightly Celtic-tinged Folkiness with cinematic aspects (strings and ambience) and a vocal style that is whispery one moment, soaring the next. I can certainly hear elements of Bon Iver, Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks and Lucinda Williams, all on her list, in Dark Sunday Dream. But her voice is also quite unusual and distinct which is another of her strengths. Praised by Girl Underground Music, she appears to now have a residency at a venue in Los Angeles.

Dark Sunday Dream starts organically with strings and acoustic guitar accompanying a delicate vocal but as the texture thickens, the arrangement takes on a more filmic mood and the vocal switches between fragile and full-blooded. There is an eeriness underlined by the minor key but it is also quite beautiful and evocative. It is original too and suggests an artist with the ambition to carve out her own niche on the immense tree of Folk-inspired contemporary music.

COUNTRY CAPERS

Eleri Angharad is an artist I have reviewed previously. The Welsh singer-songwriter has produced some of the best Folk-influenced tracks I have received through Fresh on the Net over the past two years. So it was a pleasant surprise to hear Stronger Stuff which sees her deliver a refreshingly poppy and tuneful slice of Country. The song has a chugging, driving momentum while retaining the lightness of texture I always associate with Eleri Angharad and her lovely otherworldly voice is adorned with sweet harmonies and smart organic arrangement. Evidence of her versatility and confidence. And it missed out on the FOTN Listening Post by the narrowest of margins.

TRUST THE DOC CLASSIC: GRUPO NICHE

Since Ed. 37’s World in Union section features Cuban composer Norberto Valdes, I was inspired to go for a different kind of TTD Classic. Thanks to my good friend Dominic Elton (whose Mayfield label, studio and band have been reviewed in TTD previously) going out to Colombia for a couple of years way back in the early nineties, he brought me back several hours of Salsa music he had taped while living there. The band that I was particularly taken with were Grupo Niche who recorded a lot of material.

I am not familiar with the band’s history but I do know they are legends on the Colombian Salsa scene. They were formed in 1978 by bandleader Jairo Varela. Varela sadly died in 2012 but the band has continued to evolve through numerous line-ups and is now owned, from a business perspective, by Valera’s daughter Yamila Varela.

So I have chosen the track Una Aventura which stood out on the original tapes that Dominic gave me and has this video on YouTube. Something different in this edition of Trust The Doc.

POP NOODLES

Liverpudlian singer Tiérny has a lovely hard edge to her jazzy alto voice and she knows how to deliver an epic slice of Pop (or, as she prefers, Baroquetronica) like new track Solid Ground. When she allows a bit of grit into certain notes, it is goose-bumping. The arrangement is amitious, swirling strings, echoing drum programme, floaty chords and a truly dynamic vocal performance. Uplifting and climatic pop that deserves a big audience.

Leon Marshall is a singer-songwriter from Knaresborough. His new track Better Man is shimmering Pop with strumming acoustic guitar, crisply clean drum track and a slightly Country undercurrent. Vocally Leon Marshall has shades of Ed Sheeran and George Ezra but there is also a retro element that points all the way back to the Bellamy Brothers and Sutherland Brothers & Quiver. More importantly this is quality Pop songwriting sung well.

Salako has a variety of material on her Soundcloud page but it was the song Wrong (billed as by Tolu Salako which I assume to be her full name) that pricked up my ears when it arrived in my in-box. It has a shuffling rhythm that has a air of Erikah Badu though the song and her voice are in much poppier territory. The verses are bluesy and sparse while the chorus is fuller-textured and soars into the upper register. Production is excellent and she has a voice that is soulful, sensual and rangy. An exciting talent.

Lisa Pac is an Austrian artist based in London with a new track entitled Helium. She has enjoyed some success with charts and media in her homeland which is documented along with video footage on her Facebook page. She is also sensibly focusing on building her Instagram account where she already has over 10K followers. I say ‘sensibly’ because Lisa Pac’s style and image point unambiguously towards the younger pop market.

Helium has the kind of crunching beat, jerky synth rhythms and catchy modern melody that places her in the same broad territory as artists like Jess Glynne, Anne Marie and Camila Cabello. The use of a light but punchy guitar sound is smart and she has an appealing voice that is tailor-made for material which requires the dexterity her vocals convey. This is contemporary pop of a really good standard deserving of some airplay from UK radio stations too.

ALT ROCK & INDIE

Runabay are a band I have reviewed previously in TTD and their latest track How Long finds the Belfast band in reflective mood. The tempo is quite slow and rich harmonies and subtle Cello play leading roles in this Folkier track. The melody is characteristically inventive. At times it seems to look back to the days of bands like Crosby Stills Nash & Young and the Flying Burrito Brothers. But then it equally has a freshness and originality that makes it [and Runabay] hard to pigeon-hole. Are they Folk? Indie? Something else? Does it matter? Not really. They make music that warms the heart like the best coffee chased down on a cold day with a brandy in front of a roaring pub fire. Pure class.

Zilverbacks is Chris Harris and he recorded all the material for his debut album in his home studio. The track Breakthrough came into my in-box and is intriguing, built mostly around two guitar chords surrounded by pretty lead play that sits in triads and his full-throated vocals that have an air of White Denim in a mash-up with Jack White. It is almost bluesy in respect of the latter but then it also looks back to the likes of Tom Verlaine and even Primal Scream. Of course I should add that it doesn’t sound like either. These are subliminal references I am picking up. Anyway it’s really well done and I expect to hear more of Zilverbacks in the near future.

The Institutes are the latest addition to Kelly Munro‘s End of the Trail management stable. They play driving guitar-dominated Indie Rock with strong vocals as showcased on the tuneful and boisterous Caught in a dream. This is the kind of melodic Alt Rock that sits in broadly similar territory to the likes of Penelope Isles and Bombay Bicycle Club among others. It has an anthemic quality too. All looks very promising.

North Parade are from Birmingham but are named after a street in Oxford where they also seem to have some connection. They made our Fresh on the Net Listening Post where they were voted into the fresh faves in the weekend that it was my turn to write up the reviews again. So I get to review it twice in the same week!

Their new single Kind of is really something special. Bendy guitar riffs, roaring Post-Punk influenced energy, imaginative chords and instrumental interplay topped by passionate vocals and infectious tune, this has all the ingredients you could want from a great Alt Pop track.

Brighton’s Fragile Creatures are fast becoming a TTD favourite and, after experiencing their superb live set at October’s Vanishing Point at the Ivy House, I am even more convinced that they have a bright future. Adam and the boys return with another cracker in Phantom Limb. Sustained guitar chords, spacy keyboards, spy movie aura themes descending in semi-tones and driving bass and drums accompany Adam’s vocal which is deep and sinister one moment, high and passionate the next and fortified by tight harmonies. It’s an exciting, energetic track that benefits from the kind of attention to detail and thoughtful musicianship that emphasise its completeness.

Shippa-63 is an Australian multi-instrumentalist who narrowly missed out on the FOTN Listening Post with the track Stable Genius which has an unmistakably psychedelic aura with its trebly production, filtered vocal effects and big guitar melody. He lists Black Rebel Motorcycle Club among his influences and I can hear elements of that same reverberant metallic guitar sound and vocal style. He also says he is influenced by British Pop, Punk and Rock which is a very broad brush indeed. For me there are echoes of early Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett era), maybe even late period Beatles too but Shippa’s sound is, by equal measure, contemporary and fresh.

Dear Tenement have no links or blurb on their Soundcloud page. However I dug out a Facebook page which tells us they are from Glasgow and are gigging regularly. The track Broken Hands EP is bright and energetic, translucent and snappy in the verses and full-on echoing chorus. There is an anthemic quality to their sound that is easy to hear being transported onto large festival stages. Having already received airplay across international territories, they are a name to look out for.

Tunbridge Wells may be associated with disgruntled letter writers to the Times newspaper but it has a cool side too as The Modern Strangers are a reminder. They play a resonant, spacious style of Alt Pop. Tough beat accompanies solid bass, decorative guitar picking and big bright keyboards topped by fine vocals that could be Tame Impala in a jam with Everything Everything. The chorus is uplifting and very catchy. This song is made for radio. I hope it gets some meaningful airplay.

Mount Forel were brought to my attention by my long-time friend Phil Legg of Futureproof Records who are currently handling their PR. They play tuneful Alt Pop delivered by a singer with a distinctive tenor range voice that maybe has shades of Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips) in a mash with Luke Pritchard (The Kooks). The band have an element of Indie guitar jangle but offset by a Rock solidness (sic.) and their musicianship is in full evidence. They can pen a choon too as this fine track reveals.

I keep banging on about all the good music emerging from Leeds and Askies are another fine example as their gorgeous track Subject to change showed. Laid back, filled with attractive indie guitar jangle and spacy reverberant production, it has a lovely double-stopping guitar figure that reminds me of Cowboy Junkies. The song itself is highly contemporary with echoes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Tame Impala and others. The chord play is spine-tingling and the vocals are dynamic. All-round superb playing, beautifully understated and even a tasteful guitar solo that could almost be Peter Green in Albatross era. So there are a group of reference points you may never see in the same review again. Fantastic stuff.

The Steady Letters are a young Alt Rock band from London making loud energetic tracks like Tokyo. Built around a crisp trebly guitar figure that is later juxtaposed against a twangy lead guitar melody over driving bass and drums, their singer has a distinct and unusual voice. The song has a burning intensity about it but it is also tuneful, spaciously produced and catchy. Another one to watch.

URBAN FLAVAS

London-based Berliner Wellingta describes her music as R’n’B/Soul and it broadly is although very much at the poppier end of that vast spectrum. Her song It ain’t so has a buoyant shuffling rhythmic that hints at Reggae. It is tuneful and has a strong hook. The beat is crisp and the arrangement (dominated by BVs and resonant synth) leaves plenty of room for Wellingta to showcase her distinct and dexterous voice. If this gets picked up by radio programmers, it has potential to do really well.

Jvsmine is a ‘laid back Island Girl’ born in Singapore, raised in Fiji and now living in London. She has a soulful alto voice with a really appealing accent and timbre that suits the dreamy soulful R’n’B vibe of the beautiful track Let go. Along with her dynamic, delicious performance and an appropriately swirling soundscape of a backing track, there is a lovely jazz-infused guitar solo and plenty of sweet vocal harmony. An absolute gem of a track and she is a talent to watch out for.

Bud Sugar hail from Hull and have been reviewed previously in TTD. The new track Snowflake has a reggae-dancehall feel bathed in a modern Afrobeat feel and adorned with a poppy, infectious hook and sweet harmonies. Their sound is a breath of fresh air, inviting a West African lilt, a Trinidadian-Jamaican dance aura, a bit of Ragga and ability to pen a killa choon. Snowflake has all these qualities in spades.

CLUB CULTURE

The Kunig is possibly setting the record for the most reviewed artist in Trust The Doc. The artist I dubbed the Amber Valley’s Prince of Production is back with yet another belting dance choon, once again with strong female vocal set against sweep synth chords, consistent beat and some lovely little melodies dropping in an out of the mix. It has an unusual feel on account of the louder snare equivalent hit only coming on the fourth beat of the bar so it feels like half-time making it more like a downtempo chill track even though it has the characteristics of a House choon. But hey it’s The Kunig and he does everything in his own inimitable way which is why it stays so fresh.

SINGER-SONGWRITERS

The excellent people at HER have brought to my attention the winner of their Mothers in Music competition set up to celebrate International Women’s Day. The artist is Lucie Hill and she is a singer-songwriter formerly active in New Zealand but now living in Cornwall. The song Precious Time is, however, a 7-year old recording made in New Zealand with co-producer Ben Barton. It is essentially guitar-driven Pop-Rock with big production and a strong hook that is more in the territory of artists like Joan Osborne and Sheryl Crow than some of the influences named on her Facebook page. It is well written and delivered with power and passion. It will be interesting to hear more recent material that reflects her current musical direction.

EPIC & CINEMATIC

Human Being is a composer and pianist called Alessio Catozzi and Pane et Circensis is a filmic track, instrumental and climatic with piano and synths working up a spacious arrangement of melodic major key music that is easy to imagine as a TV theme or in similar media. The more recent track Everything is not what it seems is darker, more intense and has a mixture of sung and spoken word although again there is a soundtrack-like feel to the music. Interesting stuff.

Liverpudlian duo Deliah make ethereal epic pop with big yearning and dynamic female voice, huge harmonies, rich synth, reverberant guitar inventiveness and trebly beat. The song Prelude (Brief Life and Death) is intense and builds between more laid back verse and full-on chorus with expansive ‘kitchen sink’ production and dream sequence undercurrents. This was made for radio. A stonkingly good track.

Feather House have delivered a most unusual track that has a deep crooner’s bass baritone voice surrounded by slightly dark but warm vibrato strings entitled A little light. On surface level it is quite suave and soothing but there is a sinister edge to the minor key chords and the ghostly unsettling string arrangement. The deep crooning vocals underline that darker aura. Certainly one of this edition’s most intriguing tracks.

ELECTRONIC & AMBIENT

Solo artist and producer of ambient electronica Twenty-Three Hanging Trees is Xavier Watkins from Cambridge. Recording for the independent label Meadows Records, he makes slowly building ambient soundscapes from emerging chords that sound like they have an electronic and possibly even environmental element to the sound combination. The crackles here and there sound like they are from an old vinyl record. The chords crescendo from virtual silence and overlap with the emphasis on tonic and subdominant [and their minor equivalents] for the musos among you! So it’s a simple formula but it’s the handling of it and the careful choice of sounds that lift this track above the ordinary.

His Facebook page describes how he progressed from ‘… hazy guitar drones to electronic-based explorations’. Certainly the evidence from the track Vin-Dit points to some great work ahead. I have subsequently been in contact with Xavier and I picked this track to be my Vanishing Point track on Exile FM’s Monday Night Ride Out. I am also excited to announce that he will perform at Vanishing Point at the Ivy House in April 2020. Meanwhile this is a soothing, tranquil piece that I could listen to again and again.

AND FINALLY ……

So that concludes Edition 37. I hope some of my wonderful readers will make it along to Vanishing Point on 7th November for what promises to be a memorable night and I hope lots of you get to the Merseyside Fresh on the Net Live on 2nd November. Otherwise see you all on 15th November for Edition 38. Until then, happy reading. Neil xxxx