IN SEARCH OF SPACE #7 - Songs for the Crooked Path - Cadaverous Condition

“Some acoustic guitar based songs for the Apocalyptic Death Folk elite”
I think it’s a first for here to review what is technically a compilation album. It’s nearly August, the nights are beginning to close in on the edge of perceptible change, reading for the new university year is beginning and friends are beginning to filter back into the Athens of the North (I’ve been here all along kids!), Greece is about to go bankrupt, the profession I want to ultimately join is in turmoil and nearly a hundred young innocents lie dead in morgues in one of the most peaceful nations of the world, victims of blind hatred and the Bible interpreted down the barrel of an automatic rifle by someone chillingly sanely accepting of his actions but unrepentant. Myopic media and governments leave so much to be desired that there is little to do but hunker down in a bar in a quiet neighbourhood of a city that confines all of its feckless politicking to a few city blocks and try to observe, learn from and hide from this brutish year of our lord. Because of my slowly depressing mental condition at the state of the world today, my listening has been getting heavier and I fear I may be inexorably sliding into yet another heavy period that might last till spring.

LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #6 - The King of Covers - The Rolling Stones - Wine, Women and a Song or Two Originals

NOTE - This week, Adam creates another Wine, Women and a Song or Two original album just for your enjoyment.
Now the title of this article may take some readers by surprise. The Rolling Stones didn’t get to be one of the biggest bands on the planet by their cover songs, and I’m sure the first 5 Stones songs you can think of (probably: Satisfaction, Brown Sugar, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Paint It Black, Wild Horses?) aren’t covers. To a learned fan, you might think ah, he’s referring to their early albums, where about three quarters of the songs were old blues/ R&B covers by the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. But I’ve listened to these albums, and I find most of these covers to be fairly boring, uninspired remakes that add very little to the original. Of course there are exceptions, but generally I find their early covers interesting, but weak.

Summer Sounds Sampler, Disk One - Adam - Wine, Women and a Song or Two Original

Steve and I have opted for a different approach this week. Today we take you through a double album of our favourite “summer songs.” I have compiled the first disc and Steve the second. Just one thing before we start: while a number of these songs obviously are “summery” due to their titles and/or lyrics, several of them (in my disc anyway) are summer songs only to me because of how they sound, and so trying to justify their inclusion on a list of summer songs might be interesting. But enough of that; let’s launch straight into it.

Summer Sounds Sampler, Disk Two - Steven - Wine, Women and a Song or Two Original

"This ain't the garden of Eden
There ain't no angels above
And things ain't what they used to be
And this ain't the summer of love"

Whoa, this is hard. When my exalted friend and fellow co-conspirator suggested to me we should create our own playlist of summer tunes, I was well up for it. After getting back from two weeks holidays in the Highlands with plenty of this blog’s titular wine, women (lady company, not romantic encounters you understand, I’m a happily un-married man) and song; first thing I did was to create a playlist on my good old computer music management software -that will tactfully go unnamed- of all the songs I’d listened to from the moment my holiday began (7am three weeks before), getting on for 800 songs dontchaknow, and there are way more summer-in-the-city albums that just don’t feel at home in the Highland hills. A tall order? A six foot eight order who’s had a few too many pints with his Rugby playing mates. Nevertheless, I did get it pared down to a manageable few lists. The big problem was picking a mood. What moment of summer should my playlist encapsulate? The sun-drenched barbeque? The cold night time shenanigans that inevitably occur? Solitude, rest and relaxation? Finally I decided, so here goes, the playlist best enjoyed with an ice-cold sweating glass of apple cider and a soft roll filled with grilled beef burger as the sun seems to be shining through all the skin it touches. This playlist goes very well with company. We provide the song, you’ve got to get the wine and the women (or men, not judging). I’ve gone for all electric, all blasting head trip. Special mentions go out to Bossanova by the Pixies and K by Kula Shaker.

IN SEARCH OF SPACE #6 - Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills - Big Brother and the Holding Compnay

NOTE- Due to being on holiday (again), Adam won’t be giving us a new LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! piece this week. I am though, partly because I’d already written it and I rather like this one, partly because this one is a bit shorter than normal because I wasn’t that married to the idea to go all out. We are also providing our Summer Sounds Sampler (consonance!) for your enjoyment. Again, we weren’t sufficiently married to the idea to create any way for you to purchase our double CD summery extravaganza but you can assemble the playlist yourself if you really want. Let us know if you do though, and tell us what you think of it. We like to keep hearing from you. Normal service will be resumed next Friday, probably, what passes for normality at least.

“Four gentlemen and one great, great broad”
“Wow, this is heavy!” - Mama Cass Elliot

LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #5 - Savane - Ali Farka Touré

I like to consider myself fairly open minded when it comes to music from other countries – “world music,” if you will. (Although I detest the term because it suggests that anything other than Western music can all be clumped together under the same umbrella) When you open your ears to music from different cultures it’s often striking how different their approach is to the very elements of music that we find rudimentary. Take rhythm as an example. In the Western world, the 4/4 time signature (ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and) is the benchmark for most popular music, and from hearing it so much you may expect every song you hear to follow the same pattern. However, a lot of music from other cultures is based on an entirely different time scheme. When listening to Indian, Turkish or Japanese music, (to name but a few) one is struck by how different the very core of the compositions is, and of course when you change this one basic aspect, it leads to a greater freedom to explore different melodies, harmonies etc. However, at the other end of the spectrum, one can listen to music from a far-off land and be struck by the uncanny similarities to the music that we are more familiar with. Such is the feeling I experience when listening to Ali Farka Touré; a guitarist from Mali.

IN SEARCH OF SPACE #5 - Marrow of the Spirit - Agalloch

"I spent about 30 minutes in the sepulchre... It was one of the most amazing spiritual experiences I have ever had"
Well shit, this week entry might just be that batch of longhairs from the beaver state, Agalloch. It’s Thursday and I’ve got Friday on my mind in a lot of ways. Sure these guys are winding my intestines around a fencepost and will eat them later, but the weather is just so damned nice, don’t you think? What amazes me most is how these guys first resurrected Chuck Schuldiner and called up his spirit in the voicebox of whatever painfully lost soul screamed out the needing, wanting, desperately alone vocals. Next, a special incantation was needed. To recreate this you’ll need three lambs for blood, a hundred candles exactly and a lot of hope, and three free sleepless days. With these accoutrements, a little luck and a lot of love, one can successfully summon the spirit of Eric Johnson from where it currently resides and imbibe it into a guitarist. And the kind of psychic manipulation used to convince George Orwell to mate with Timothy Leary and write the lyrics and the music, I’ll never know. After that feat, enlisting the entire forces of twilight nature to do your interludes was presumably simple. It is a mesmeric album that literally brings tears to the eyes not with ugliness or fear, but with beauty and love.

LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #4 - To Bring You My Love - P.J. Harvey

First off, I’d better admit something. I’m not a fan of female musicians in general. It’s not because of any personal bias, and I’m not one of these male chauvinist pigs that thinks women should be seen and not heard or something. But men are generally more musically gifted than women, (and before anyone accuses me of being sexist, name me one female classical composer) [ED’S NOTE-  It could be argued that the sexual politics of the time limited women’s social contribution to childbearing and washing up.] and women that do have both commercial and artistic success are generally within genres that I don’t really like. I’m not going to deny that Madonna is the Queen of Pop and Shania Twain and Taylor Swift are both very good country music singers. But I don’t really like either of those genres, so I don’t listen to them very much. However, I will occasionally stumble across female musicians working within genres that I do like, and quite often the results are incredible. Portishead is one of my favourite bands, and their sound is driven as much by Beth Gibbons haunting vocals than anything else. My favourite female artist though, and the subject of this week’s article is PJ Harvey.

IN SEARCH OF SPACE #4 - A love letter to Jex Thoth

NOTE – In this article I’ll be discussing one of modern rock’s most unsung heroines. I’ll be taking reference from Jex Thoth’s self titled album, and Restored to One by Sabbath Assembly. Jex has appeared on other releases, but I haven’t been able to track them down. So deal with it.
NOTE 2 – In one of the remarkable coincidences that attends the gin-soaked production process of this journal, both Adam and myself are on holiday this week (hence this blogs tardiness) and have written about female musicians. If you think this is good, it was deliberate, if not, then not.

“I don’t feel like you’re playing songs
I feel like your conjuring spirits”
Jex Thoth, who the fuck is that? You may be asking. Can I put it on pitta bread? You might be enquiring. Let me introduce her. Say hello to the twenty first century’s Grace Slick. A genuine, bona fide one hundred percent double-your-money-back rock goddess. On the first song of Jex Thoth’s debut album, she proclaims “You think you know me/but you won’t believe your eyes”.
Everyone had that girl from school or the office who was almost too clean cut. All crisp shirts and practiced thankyous. Jex Thoth is the girl who kisses that straight laced girl at a party before everyone is drunk enough to forget and isn’t even ashamed. The girl who has a new style by the time you’ve got used to the current one, never seems out of control except when she wants to be and can drink anyone under the table. She isn’t a caricature and either cares about nothing at all, or tremendously much that people think so. Jex’s vocals border on dirty. She sounds exactly like she looks, a dirty blonde hippy vixen with an almost Scandinavian edge. She looks like she could be a cultist or a zealot.

LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #3 - Brainfreeze - DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist

In a theme not unrelated to that of last week’s entry, I’m going to venture into a description of a piece of music that evokes the memories of a specific time. However, this piece of music doesn’t remind me of any point or event in my own life, or anyone else’s my age. In fact, it doesn’t remind me of anything, because it paints a picture of life in a time long before my own.

It’s the United States of America in the mid-70’s. Funk has dominated the black musical scene in the last decade, and a new musical advent is about to appear – hip-hop. DJ’s in clubs played the latest funk records, looping the drum breaks to rapturous audiences who enjoyed the high-energy, toe-tapping rhythms. Innovators from Queen’s and The Bronx learned to scratch the records, producing a highly distinctive and original sound that became a regular part of the music. Spirits were high, liquor flowed and everybody was feeling the vibe, man. Funk music saturated the air in the city, it wasn’t just something the young African-American population listened to; they lived it, they breathed it. It was a part of their culture. It’s this kind of era, this atmosphere, that is felt when listening to Brainfreeze.

IN SEARCH OF SPACE #3 - Mosquito Control EP - Isis

NOTE- I do have the remastered edition, and I hear the mix on the original was pretty rough. My edition does contain a cover of Streetcleaner by Godflesh but for the purposes of this article I will be ignoring it.

“Cover your face and run”

Someone must have slipped poison into my hangover cure. The world’s gone wrong. This isn’t the Isis that I know. I have downloaded but not yet listened to Isis’s debut official recording, and it’s difficult. As if you knew someone in their thirties, and then used a time machine to meet them when they were twenty. This EP is faster and harder, more brutal yet as refined as the Isis I know. It feels fresher, less emburdened and more spontaneous. As with all Isis the sound is somewhere between post-metal and sludge, this dynamic shifted to become more purely post-metal by their final album but this is their debut EP. Debut records I find are often the most interesting to comprehend, it is telling in a band because the debut nearly always follows what they think their market will enjoy. Often a listener, with the benefit of hindsight has to dig quite deep to find the band that later emerged. In the case of Isis it is particularly apparent as they underwent a rather tumultuous line-up shift, losing some key creative members and, as the band has admitted, changing the sound of later work. The Isis I love is definitely in here, the band members have cited the track Life Under the Swatter as a key moment in the formation of the sound that would become quintessentially Isis, with heavy riffs combined with complex instrumentation.
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