Thursday, February 05, 2009

Banjo and Ergo Do Freaky Covers

Banjo Or Freakout - Archangel (Burial Cover)
Banjo Or Freakout - Kissability (Sonic Youth Cover)

Bit late to the party, but I recently stumbled upon the magnificence that is Banjo Or Freakout, the splendidly monikered musical project of one Alessio Natalizia, a Turin native now resident in London. His album of covers (including Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, Vampire Weekend, Battles and loads more) caused quite a stir in blogland last year, while I was asleep. I managed to get hold of one - in handmade spray-painted freakout artwork for only a fiver! - shortly before they sold out and was completely blown away.

Natalizia's talent is to take a song and gently peel back the layers to reveal its heart, which he carefully removes and then wraps back up in a blanket of gorgeous, frazzled ambience. I've popped up a couple here - his stunning rendition of Burial's 'Archangel', in which he applies heartfelt yearning to the mangled soul boy vocals of the original over dissonant guitars (bizarrely redolent of U2's 'With Or Without You' - but in a good way) and muffled drums that sound like an apocalypse in another time-zone. His cover of 'Kissability' by Sonic Youth is equally awesome - kinda sounds like Ciccone Youth if they were tackling one of their own, with a side salad of Slowdive's ethereal guitars. "I work with one rule, a bitch of a rule," Natalizia explains. "My rule is to record every track just one time. No second chance." I think I'm in love...

You have to visit the Banjo Or Freakout blog - he often posts exclusive material here, like the 'Everything Fast EP', which was a collection of original Banjo material.
The covers CD is sold out, but you can still pick up his debut 7" (released in Jan 2009) from Norman Records
Banjo Or Freakout MySpace

Ergo Phizmiz and His Orchestra -Trick Me (Kelis Cover)

Who'd a thunk that lurking at the heart of Kelis's bumptious R'n'B banger 'Trick Me' was an eerie Balkan funeral march? Ergo Phizmiz and His Orchestra - that's who. The prodigiously talented Phizmiz is another purveyor of the singular cover version (his Aphex Twin covers album is immense) and this one is taken from the album 'Arff and Beef', which I got free when I purchased his album 'Nose Points in Different Directions' (Womb Records, 2007). I don't think 'Arff and Beef' is available any more, which is a huge shame as it also featured an absolutely deranged rendering of Destiny's Child's 'Survivor' as well as the entirety of the Velvet Underground's 'White Light/White Heat'. Hunt it down if you can.

Visit Ergo Phizmiz's website where you can purchase music and learn more about this truly unique musician.
Ergo Phizmiz MySpace