Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cyclic Defrost Magazine

Cyclic Defrost Magazine

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Royalchord – The Good Fight (Mistletone)

Posted: 12 Nov 2009 02:28 PM PST


There’s a valium calm to the music of Royalchord, a certain serene stillness that actually masks what you believe are the raw torrents of emotion that are lurking somewhere beneath the gorgeous stripped down melodies. There’s something really curious about the songwriting on The Good Fight. Royalchord make me believe in Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, as they have the ability to do something that I’ve only really heard Mark Lanegan do, which is to write these songs that immediately sound like music that you’ve known for years.

They’re operating with minimal ingredients, some keyboards, the ocassional acoustic or electric guitars, a basic at times cheesy drum machine and their incredible vocals. There’s a real alt country lilt to the way they sing at times, and there’s often a country highway twang to their guitar, yet the glockenspiel, keys and drum machine take them into another realm. It’s all so understated, there’s no bluster, it’s gentle, quite restrained and as a result really unique and really quite beautiful. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the use of the basic drum machine patterns. The style of music they play is often fleshed out with real kits, perhaps brushes, lush instrumentation, full bands. The fact that they have elected not to do this offers another edge to their music, it’s unexpected, creates a little bit of friction, makes it all the more interesting.

Based in Melbourne, they recorded this album in France after spending time in Berlin and Guatemala, and though I don’t really hear any of this influenced in the music. You can tell however that something this relaxed and intimate could only be created somewhere where the duo not only had plenty of time but also had developed a certain sense of comfort.

Given its restrained nature, it’s an album that choses not to jump out you and as a result really struggles to assert itself within the din of contemporary music, which in itself is quite refreshing. It’s almost like this album is an escape from all of the extraneous chatter and clatter, a sweet and gentle oasis for those who chose to take some time out.

Bob Baker Fish

Royalchord – The Good Fight (Mistletone) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.

Curse Ov Dialect – Crisis Tales (Mistletone)

Posted: 12 Nov 2009 02:55 AM PST


This music sounds like an evil jaunty nursery rhyme: traditional music from some far-flung part of the world slapped with hip hop beats and slung underneath a dense torrent of consciousness expanding rhymes. Curse Ov Dialect’s fourth long player is breathless, upbeat and frenetic; a very left-field take on hip hop; the kind of insane, creative, weird and wonderful burst of eccentricity that’s so accomplished that it actually sounds like a world unto itself. And while it possesses a mischievous and at times even absurd feel, some of the subject matter, in particular that which relates to race (an ongoing concern for the band) is approached with a rare depth and sensitivity.

It’s best evidenced on the opening track Identity, where MC Vulk Makedonski name drops the White Australia policy. The 11 minute-plus Colossus, in which they’re roped in numerous MC’s from Japan, New Zealand, Germany and Poland to name a few, demonstrates that people from various cultures do have the capacity to live in harmony. Some of their rhymes are positively Shakespearean: complex, dense, and imaginative, particularly when compared with the vacant potty mouthed swill that seeps out of the commercial hip hop genre these days.

And of course it’s like a hip hop party trick, but few things are as awe inspiring as Vulk Makedonski in full flight, spitting out words a mile a minute without requiring oxygen and without tiring. He is a lyrical terminator. He can’t be stopped. Where most hip hop albums are about immediacy, Crisis Tales is complex, multi layered, and all the better for it. The rhymes and beats only reveal themselves over time, yet if you’re after some intelligent complex and slightly ludicrous hip hop it’s worth sticking around to let it work its magic on you.

Bob Baker Fish

Curse Ov Dialect – Crisis Tales (Mistletone) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.

Katie Lee – Songs of Couch and Consultation (Omni/FUSE)

Posted: 12 Nov 2009 12:33 AM PST


Welcome to 1957. The post war years where the US was riding a wave a earnest self reflection and egocentric self importance. It could only be during a period such as this that something as witty and mischievous as Songs of the Couch and Consultation could be born. It’s a tongue in cheek almost malicious swipe at psychoanalysis. Tom Cruise would love it. It’s from singer/ actress Katie Lee who a little later would go on to reinterpret traditional folk tunes. Yet here she plays it relatively straight, although everything else is a little bent. She has great range and a real playful quality that is reminiscent of some of the grand cinematic musicals of the period. The music is light, jazzy, orchestral with a real cheeky feel that works beautifully under Lee’s (almost) straight delivery. It would be curious to know where her skepticism comes from, particularly given her history in Jungian therapy, yet she really is quite scathing, barely concealing it under a cute playfulness, where she takes therapy to ridiculous extremes. “There must be a chump, on whom I can dump, my repressed hostility blues,” (’Repressed Hostility Blues’) she sings, or later she analyses a gunslinger’s childhood to determine where things went wrong (’Gunslinger: A Ballad For Adult Westerns’). This collection is combined with her less commercially successful follow up Life is Just a Bed of Neuroses from 1960 which continues a similar recipe – yet with a different arranger doesn’t seem to possess the same kind of witty zing. It is still quite debonair, bigger on the brass, still quite snappy, yet the lyrics aren’t as incisive, not so razor sharp.

It really is strange listening to this kind of music, where names like Adler, words like acrophobia, or the Id are dropped into the lyrics, and song titles include ‘I Can’t Adjust to the You Who Got Adjusted To Me’, ‘Mental Blocks’, or ‘The Insecure Tango’. Yet it’s so clever and perhaps even kitsch that you have to admire it. Then again this is just one more of the many clever and bizarre curiosities that Omni have been rediscovering lately.

Bob Baker Fish

Katie Lee – Songs of Couch and Consultation (Omni/FUSE) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.

Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen – Inspiration Information (Strut/Inertia)

Posted: 12 Nov 2009 12:31 AM PST


This cannot be real. The mind boggles. Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, the co creator of Afro-beat (with the help of some bloke named Fela Kuti), teaming up with Jimi Tenor, the Finish experimental lounge dude who left Warp because they weren’t allowing him to experiment enough. These kind of collaborations just do not happen. It’s worlds colliding. It’s as bizarre as it is inspired.

Or perhaps not. Tenor has recently developed an interest in African rhythms, and on 2007’s Joystone he teamed up with a trio of West African musicians Kabu Kabu including former Fela sideman Nicholas Addo Nettey – who curiously enough was part of Fela’s Africa 70 with Tony Allen, defecting at the same time during the Berlin jazz festival. Allen meanwhile these days seems to be creating this kind of smooth Afro-beat lite, best evidenced by his album from earlier in the year, Secret Agent, which had a strong jazz fusion element, with well polished highly produced sounds with great musicianship, yet little soul.

To some extent this disc can be seen as a development, maybe even the fruition of Tenor’s experiments from two years ago, despite the constraints placed around them such as spending only 5 days in the studio together. Tenor reports that they produced these long 10-20 minute jams, often moving beyond the demo material and into free improv, secure in the knowledge that Tenor would be cutting and pasting later. They’re joined by Tenor’s Kabu Kabu band, yet also the Berlin based MC Allonymous, who raps with a kind arrogant stupidity over a couple of tracks, which is initially annoying, because you don’t want anyone to get in the way of these two, yet actually seeps in and becomes quite catchy. Whilst not strictly Afro-beat, there is what you could call an Afro-beat patter throughout, Allen keeping an energetic pulse, doing what he always does – creating an amazing groove in his unique polyrhythmic style. When this is combined with Tenor’s idiosyncratic horns and dated keys, it moves everything into this kind of anonymous groovy jazzy space that is simply awe inspiring. You can feel the jamminess of the music, it just flows onwards, powered by Allen’s deep rhythms and sense of groove. Tenor sings on a couple of tracks, pitching up and sexing up his vocals like a white boy Sly Stone and you can just tell he’s in his element. This whole album is a monster, particularly the final 13:51 min piece Three Continents which initially is disconcerting, like someone is playing hopelessly along with a toy guitar, yet over time the focus shifts, Tenor brings in his jazz organ, aimless skat vocals arrive, and it dips into a sort of transcendental drone before kicking back in under a tripped out saxophone solo and you never want it to end. Much like the album as a whole. The curious thing is it’s everything that you would expect when you put the two of them together, yet it’s also so much more, surpassing expectations and expanding frontiers, the duo merging so well and bouncing off the other musicians and sending afro-beat sprawling into an almost kitsch lounge territory that is not only super cool and funky, it’s also funny and as fun as hell.

Bob Baker Fish

Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen – Inspiration Information (Strut/Inertia) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.