I wanted to come to you to talk about the new Mount Moriah album, which involves something to do with the Horseback record I liked last year, was released recently and all the preliminary track release stuff looked real good. I was going to talk about it, but I don’t have the album. The album is available from the Merge Records label website and it’s that I’m going to end up ranting about, because in this age where the asset-stripping of HMV has led to a wide-open gulf for digital retailers to cement their place in the market, so many labels are totally fucking the whole thing up. The album is reasonably priced, at $8.99 American, which is cool. But to buy it, you can’t just input paypal details to make the transaction simple and secure for all parties, ho no, you have to register an account with Merge Records, which includes inputting credit card details, and my address. You aren’t posting things to me, you don’t need me address. That is official. So I am here to say, Merge Records, you’ve lost $8.99 of my money, because you couldn’t organise a bum-rape in a barracks.
I’ve always advocated the destruction of society as a whole. As wholesome rock and roll took a left turn at the Pretty Things into rebellion, and Blue Cheer and later Sabbath swung us further into the realms of dischord, it seemed only a matter of time until the meditations of the top dogs became so dense and introverted that they entirely collapse upon themselves like the folding mantle of a star. I expect this to happen sometime before 2020, probably on stage. When the distortion and feedback feed back emotionally and infinitely as the musicians of whatever Gnodlike entity of the moment collapse themselves, howling and screaming and clutching their abdomens for days. And every slightly hip kid turns up at the venue to see what all the fuss is about and all the collected cops and media hangers-on won’t be able to contain the raw outpouring of cold emotionless hate. And pretty soon all the kids kicking their heels and smoking butts will want in past the blue meanies and will get bricks and metal rods from the building site across the road and the windows will be gone, and pretty soon the real hairy handed mountain men will swoop down on the city astride absurdly powerful motorbikes and it will be on. A full scale riot.
In a great deal of professions, success is less dependent on your talent than the connections you make and the people you know: such can sadly be said of music. The huge success of many artists can be traced to the connections they made when they were nobodies (Did you know Jessie J wrote songs for Miley Cyrus before she was famous? Kesha wrote for the Veronicas? Lady Gaga wrote for Britney Spears?) and the strings they likely pulled to get their own record deal. That’s not to say these folks are necessarily devoid of talent, (the aforementioned three are, but that’s just coincidence) but rather they know how to play the system, and as a result of their ingenuity end up as platinum selling superstars when, if they were promoting themselves solely on the merits of their work, might have gotten nowhere at all. Group Home was such a pair as this, and their subsequent fade into complete obscurity (getting name-checked on Nas’ 2006 song Where Are They Now? speaks for itself) proves that they had little to offer in the first place. However, because of the big names they knew in the beginning, they not only got a record deal but managed to get working with hip hop’s finest producer DJ Premier, who fortuitously happened to be at the zenith or his artistic expertise.
STOP! YOU FUCKER! HOLD IT RIGHT THERE! Normally I wouldn’t assault the capslock key with such a show of rudeness, but this has to be shouted as long and as loud from the rooftops as Strepsil supplies will allow. Rocket Recordings, i.e. the purveyors of Goat, Gnod, and the stonking newly released Anthroprophh debut that'll have y'all hollering in a corner from the horror of the whole business; have tuned in to the bandcamp revolution and are now offering digital copies of all the latest and greatest psychotic reactions. I’ve been ranting and raving and passing my Goat CDs around trying to spread the love, and now they dun and answered my prayers. So I’mma link you to our Goat review. Our Gnod review(s) and then drop y’all the link to the Rocket launch pad. Blast off.
Has it been four years? It feels like a lifetime. The world situation is so nervous and wrong that my ongoing quest to bring, through music, the return of thoughtfulness and deep feeling and real connection with our own and each other’s emotional and sexual cores seems to be at the most hopeless place. Perhaps it’s being more aware of the restless world, or perhaps the world is getting inexorably worse. Even as asteroids rain from the skies we’d rather look at the pavement, and people seem keen on accepting the illegality of drugs in order to focus on the things that can bring no happiness. Addictions to alcohol or nicotine, the two legal recreational drugs and the two which achieve precisely nothing spiritually and actively impede traditional communion with the Godhead through dance and deep feeling. People pursue with great vigour the institution of marriage for all, forgetting that marriage is chiefly concerned with land rights and love is all-powerful and all-flowing. Instead of seeking acceptance with institutions who have written their hatred of you into their sacred texts, seek to transcend life in a way those who hate cannot comprehend. Traditional beat-driven musics fall away in favour of memetic fads which satisfy in immediacy but gauge a deeper void in retrospection. I have been listening to a new album by Frisk Frugt, and I implore you not to explore it because it has made me depressed. It is elegant, energetic, beautiful, varied, a great potpourri that by turns recalls the classical seventies rock musing moments of Yes and Cream, and seas of originalities too deep to comprehend, but simply float on the surface of them and look down into the depths and think. It’s depressing because it is beautifully elegant music, deserving of a more refined and perfect world.
Tough messages often aren’t warmly received, and especially not at first. Even if that message is one that’s been echoing in the right circles for decades, hearing it presented afresh and in a new context is never easy. This goes some way towards explaining the relative failure of Digable Planet’s sophomore album to make an impact. For starters, the group’s first album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) was a critical and commercial success, winning praise from critics and a Grammy for its lead single Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat). As the album name would suggest, the group had an ethereal sound, laced with breezy jazz samples and topped off with the laid back delivery of the three rappers. (One female!) Like all creative minds, they were aware that repetition often leads to stagnation, and despite the likely chance that further success would be theirs should they do a Reachin’ Part 2, they boldly leaped in a completely different direction, to a predictably muted response. The jazzy samples were toned down, and replaced (Although not totally) by live musicians. The result was a more organic sprawl (the title Blowout Comb is also a reference to this: the blowout comb being used by African Americans to groom their hair in the Afro style. Group member Butterfly asserted this was to imply “the utilization of the natural”) of human mess. The beats were darker, edgier and looser, with the cascade of organic sounds denoting a deeper sense of urgency to the music. Music and content are unified by the shift in lyrical content, taking on a more militant, direct nature. Planets didn’t shy away from racial issues on their first album, but here the topic is as fundamental to them as the topic of his penis size is to Dr. Dre.
It is time, I think, for a drastic re-clarification of my own position now the latest round of HMV cuts have been announced, many stores in North England and Scotland shockingly, and a lot of people are losing their jobs. Including every single HMV store in Edinburgh. Scotland’s capital will now have no HMV at all. Firstly in capitalistic terms, HMV was a massive employer of students, young people, and people struggling to get by on their meagre greed-head wages anyway, and this is always the way of it. As the ship sinks all the rich and the powerful will climb down into the lifeboat, give themselves a fat bonus, and shout up to us all: “everything’s going to be just fine!” This is obviously a great tragedy for all the people relying on HMV to pay their rent every month, to feed and clothe their kids, and our hopes go out to them that they can find loving friends who can support them, to stop them falling into government programmes or debt. Help out family, friends and everyone in need before they have to go to the government, that money is stolen. My thoughts and wishes go out to these people facing some very real questions about where next week’s rent is coming from. Malaho.
In somewhat uncharacteristic fashion I’ve managed to snag an album released this year, (What? Already!? You’ve only had 34 days to do it!) and one that’s been talked about a fair bit in the appropriate circles. Not only that, but it’s garnered some considerable praise in that time, not unjustifiably. Foxygen, the Californian experimental rock duo, gave me this little peach last week and I can’t stop listening to it. It’s infectious, it’s fun and it’s supremely well crafted. The duo are bursting with confidence (some could argue too much confidence) and a genuine knack for songwriting that allowed me to hear a few of the best new songs I’ve heard in a while, all on the one album. A good three of the nine songs on this album, I’m convinced, are new classics and aren’t going to be bettered by too much in the next eleven months. I say this with an unblemished reputation of not keeping up with the current music scene mind you, so it’s likely that what I’ve just written will not stand the test of time. Still you get my point – this album is good.
It’s a strange world we live on. Darkness and terror lives in every direction. Like being chased breathlessly through a car park full of wailing alarms by policemen with the faces of rabid dogs, slavers of foamy saliva swinging out from their bared teeth as they scream down on you growling. Scrabbling, tripping, catching a nail with your hand, not even knowing why. The world situation is so nervous and wrong that about the most frightening thing you can subject yer good self to is a once-over of the dailies. The psyche scene in Glasgow is in one of the all-time long fine flashes of brilliance and collective creative climax. The sort of flash that never quite comes again, and is only appreciated once the glow is all-but fading like a dejected sunset. Thanks to the efforts of a few high-skill promoters and approving venues and a mood that is ripe for change, in the city, in the country. Poignant advice would be to sink to your knees, dig your fingertips into the holy soil, breathe deeply of the sacred smoke, drink deeply of the holy wine and see it, hear it, breathe it in. Take time to tool around Glasgow on a Saturday night, around Monorail music and the 13th Note and hear the sigh of the collective. For posterity they’re making records, here and there; and other top-notch expressions of everything right and true. Insurmountable final statements in concrete of how they see things. Curiosity Shop are one of the collective, an atom, a molecule, a cell of the body. Their kitschy Americana, lovingly recreated, says only one thing: chill out, everything is going to be okay.