Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paint the Whole World With a Rainbow

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Twin Of Myself

Black Moth Super Rainbow win band name of the year, if not the decade. But then great band names are in their DNA - previous monikers have included Allegheny White Fish (Pittsburgh-slang for a condom floating down the river) and satanstompingcaterpillars. Emerging from a chrysalis in an obscure Pennsylvanian forest glen in 2003, the fully-formed Black Moth comprise vocoder-wielding front man Tobacco, backed by four mysterious musical forces known as The Seven Fields of Aphelion, Power Pill Fist, Iffernaut and Father Hummingbird. So far so freaky deaky, weirdy beardy, right? Wrong. The biggest surprise of all is that the music concocted by the five-piece on their latest album, 'Eating Us', isn't as way out there as you might think. Sure, it's full-on under-the-influence-of-super-strong-blotter-acid psychedelia, but then whack your ears around 'Twin of Myself' - it's sublime psychedelic pop music, an inspired amalgam of Air's floaty Gallic goodness and some top drawer childlike melodies that could have come out of the Boards of Canada songbook. It's accessible and catchy - it wouldn't surprise me if it didn't worry the Top 40 if their UK label, Memphis Industries, released it as a single.

Granted, 'Twin Of Myself' is the poppermost moment on 'Eating Us', but the rest of the album is still easy on the ear. Produced by Dave Fridmann, it's a proper summer album, radiating warmth from start to finish, mainly due to the predominance of analogue electronic instruments including Tobacco's ubiquitous vocoder (which is set on soft and warm, not harsh and robotic), as well as a lush Rhodes piano and space-age Novatron. Other highlights include opening track 'Born on a Day the Sun Didn't Shine', which is a futuristic 'Strawberry Fields Forever', with heavy, looped beats and a gorgeous Rhodes, while 'Iron Lemonade' is a woozy bad trip, with a melody bizarrely reminiscent of the Grange Hill theme tune as re-imagined Plone. Not surprisingly, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips is a big fan, naming the song 'I Was Zapped by the Lucky Super Rainbow' after them.

'Eating Us' is a wonderful example of machine music with an organic, human heart and can be double-dropped straight into the day-glo melting pot of psychedelic classics.

'Eating Us' by Black Moth Super Rainbow is released in the UK by Memphis Industries on June 8th 2009. Pre-order it from Norman Records
Black Moth Super Rainbow MySpace
Black Moth Super Rainbow website
Memphis Industries website

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jackin' in the Community

Nathan Fake - Castle Rising

Norfolk’s finest big-haired knob-worrier Nathan Fake is back with a new six-track mini-album ‘Hard Islands’, which was released by James Holden’s mighty Border Community imprint on Monday. I caned the arse of Fake’s 2006 debut album, ‘Drowning in a Sea of Love’ - an inspired concoction of toytown synths, blissful, life-affirming distortion and thumping beats, and definitely up there with the best of the Noughties. His latest offering finds the prodigious 25-year-old hitting his stride, remodelling his style with a tougher sound, honed over the last few years spent roughing up the dancefloors of Europe. “Playing live a lot over the last couple of years has had a profound influence on the way I make music now,” Fake says.

Opening track ‘The Turtle’ is a straight-up banger – marvellous bubbly, squidgy acid, while on ‘Basic Mountain’, Fake staples his trademark fuzzy, pastoral electronica to hard-edged, analogue techno beats. ‘Castle Rising’ is rough, raw and loopily experimental acid house, recalling the glorious early years of 808 State, when A Guy Called Gerald was behind the wheel; and both ‘Narrier’ and ‘Fentiger’ are packed with gnarly Aphexisms, off-kilter melodies and brutal beats. I only have one complaint – it’s far too short. More please.

Nathan Fake - Outhouse (Main Mix)

The music of 'Hard Islands' is a return to Fake's roots - 'Outhouse' was the single he burst on to the scene with back in November 2003, an absolutely bruising monster of a tune, with only an eerie, dissonant AFX circa-Polygon Window melody to keep the relentless percussion at bay. If he's now 25 (I think) that means he would've been, er, about 19-years-old when he produced this. Suddenly those "Norfolk's answer to the Aphex Twin" comparisons have some resonance.

Buy 'Hard Islands' from Norman Records
Nathan Fake MySpace
Nathan Fake website
Border Community website

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spirited Away

LFO - Tied Up (Spiritualized Electric Mainline Mix

When I first got wind of this union between the Gods of bleep techno and Jason Pierce’s psychedelic space rockers - probably in the news section of the NME - I messed my pants in excitement. An inspired collaboration if ever there was one, the results did not disappoint as Jason Pierce took the original bass-heavy techno thumper and transformed it into a blissful nine-minutes of strung-out ambient wonder, easily on a par with Global Communication's reworking of Chapterhouse's 'Blood Music'. Coincidentally, the only other remix Pierce ever did (until last year's effort for Goldfrapp) was of the Global Communication track 'Maiden Voyage' around the same time as this.

Pierce had obviously been rummaging around in the darkest recesses of former cohort Sonic Boom's drug bag, as there's not a trumpet or gospel choir in sight. This isn't so much a remix as a piece of music inspired by the original, with oscillating synths and drones, a gently plucked guitar, washes of beautiful, dissonant noise and the vaguest hint of melody to tie this rework to the original. It evolves so gradually the changes are barely noticeable and is a wonderful demonstration of tonal control. This is right up there with the best things Pierce ever did, and if he's considering a change of direction post 'Songs in A&E' I'd suggest a trip back in time...

Search eBay for LFO 'Tied Up'
LFO MySpace
Official Spiritualized® website
Spiritualized® MySpace

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Return of Elf Magic

Wisp - Keeper Of The Hills

Deep in a mountain valley in Middle Earth stands the mighty Wisp – resplendent in his wizard’s robes, the Merlin of electronic music thrusts his knotted staff towards the three-mooned sky as he orchestrates a deranged army of dancing Orcs, goblins and elves, whipped into a frenzy by an insane musical collision between Aphex Twin and Genesis. Welcome to the wonderful world of Progtronica.

And no, that tag is not meant to be disingenuous. ‘The Shimmering Hour’ is an epic and conceptual album, as much influenced by medieval folklore as it is by the electronic music scene. Wisp came upon his artist name while reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and has been known to dabble in the odd game of Dungeons and Dragons. The progressive element can also be found in Wisp’s exceptional musicality – the boy can play as well as program, and like the key protagonists of the progressive rock scene, he is not afraid to indulge himself. All he needs is to don a fox’s head for live performances a la Peter Gabriel and the link would be complete.

As an artist who has done all his growing up in public – releasing a plethora of high quality net releases for free and frequenting electronic music messageboards - Reid “Wisp” Dunn of Niagara Falls, New York has always been judged by the harshest critics of all; the notoriously hard-to-please IDM fanboy community. But Dunn has emerged unscathed, virtually bulletproof to the jealous sniping and totally driven by his own convictions rather than someone else’s idea of what electronic music should sound like in 2009.

‘The Shimmering Hour’ is the follow-up to 2005’s excellent ‘NRTHNDR’, Dunn’s first “proper” (i.e. you had to pay for it) album. There are references to all the various stages of his prolific musical career within, making ‘TSH’ his masterwork. There is no doubting Dunn’s technical prowess – his programming and production skills are exceptional - but what makes ‘TSH’ so special is the fact that you can tell he has poured his heart and soul into it. In an oft-faceless scene, Dunn’s quirky personality shines forth from every second of his music and his sound is unique. You could spot a Wisp track a mile off. Yes, he is undoubtedly under the influence of Aphex, but Aphex soundtracking ‘The Legend of Zelda’ as directed by Peter Jackson.

Joyous paint-the-sky melodies, fucked-up acid grooves, banging, emotive Euro-rave, Bukem-esque ambient jungle, bewitching medieval folk, lush breakdowns and complex, pulse-quickening breakbeats are all dropped into the musical cauldron and bubbled into life to create a magical brew, rich with the spirit of Bardic lore but driven by cutting-edge electronic production skills. Wisp is at the peak of his powers now; it won't be long before you all fall under his spell.

Buy 'The Shimmering Hour' from Norman Records
Incredible Wisp archive - all his net-label recordings are available to download for free!
Wisp MySpace