Saturday 27 March 2010

Call Of The Wyld - Vol 1

You will have noticed that noisy thing at the top of the page. It's a Mixpod music player and has been loaded up with a lot of goodies that I came across during January to March 2010. If you want to listen, I hope that you enjoy it. If not, turn it off.

Volume 1 contains:-

Marion Cotillard/Franz Ferdinand - The Eyes Of Mars
Ash- Arcadia
The Postmarks- No One Said This Would Be Easy
Avi Buffalo- What's In It For?
Those Darlins - Red Light Love
Modernaire -Faites Vos Jeux
Miss Li- Bourgeois Shangri-La
The Hundred In The Hands - Dressed In Dresden
Mike Oldfield - Foreign Affair (Mater Suspiria Vision Mindf*ck)
Lavender Diamond - Open Your Heart
The Love Supreme - Gold Dust
The Mynabirds - The Numbers Don't Lie
Dag For Dag - Ring Me, Elise
Tigersapien - God Knows

Monday 15 March 2010

Emilie Autumn at Islington Academy 12 March 2010

Emilie Autumn

Is this a gig? Or is it something else entirely- a trip down the rabbit hole, a Sunday stroll to see the inmates at Bedlam? Or simply the best pantomime in town?
This I do know. The only instruments played tonight are violin and harpsichord, other parts being pre-recorded on a thumping backing tape. You got a problem with that?
This is the weird and dauntingly strange world of U.S. artiste Emilie Autumn, ably assisted by her troupe of Bloody Crumpets, a dangerous, glamorous, voluptuous and probably incestuous brood of ne’er-do-wells who are as ambiguous in their sex as they purport to be in their morals.

Tonight’s show is beyond high camp. It’s a phantasmagorical concoction of Aubrey Beardsley, Pirates of the Caribbean, Noel Coward, Victorian music hall, Twenties burlesque and above all, the Alfred Tenniel version of Alice In Wonderland. Compared to the Tea Party thrown by Emilie and her crew, the recent Tim Burton version of the tale looks like a staid and grim documentary.

For the best part of two hours the crowd (lovingly referred to throughout as “Plague Rats”) are entertained by songs, sketches, striptease and stilt-walking. And some nifty violin and harpsichord, obviously.

Emilie is the focus of attention, her hair in bright red cascades, resplendent for much of the gig in camiknickers, rodent ears and tail. She strikes a balance between mistress of ceremonies and musical performer, knocking out crowd pleasers such as “Opheliac” and “The Art Of Suicide”, whilst also taking time to dabble in a lot of will-they-won’t-they faux lesbian schtick with her spectacularly proportioned sidekick Veronica Varlow.
The audience , who are almost uniformly bedecked in garb that would make Tim Burton stomp off home to Hampstead in defeat, are happy to play foil to this mayhem – joining in the choruses, throwing muffins and crumpets (all in good fun), vying to take part in a segment of the show called ‘The Rat Game’, where one lucky participant gets to come onstage and sing along with one of the songs.

I last saw this band (show?) about three years ago. In that time they have upped their game considerably, although there is now much more emphasis on performance rather than simply playing music.

At one point towards the end the whole ensemble perform a version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ that even Freddie Mercury might have considered to be over the top. That this indulgence is by no means the highpoint of the evening goes some way to illustrating the maniacal insanity of this revue.

Gig? Probably. Entertainment? Definitely. Recommended? Absolutely!

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Dum Dum Girls / A Grave With No Name at The Lexington 26 February 2010

Dum Dum Girls

It’s a tempting offer. “Come upstairs, we’re playing Neu!” Ok, we were going to the gig anyway, but it’s nice to see some enthusiasm from the promoters.

Once we are in the cooler, quieter room above, the gentle rhythms of classic Krautrock tick along pleasurably and we await the first band.

Who are A Grave With No Name. And not A Place To Bury Strangers or anything similar to that, no sir.

Their signature sound is a fuzzed up rock, and the heavily treated vocals of guitarist Alex Shields. Fed through various bits of equipment his voice becomes high and ethereal, a ghost that struggles to be heard above their machine.
I like their drummer, a guy so cool that he barely moves, sitting almost motionless, sparsely tapping away. This turns out not to the normal state of affairs, as he is a stand-in, the usual sticksman having broken his hand. So it may be happenstance, but the new guy fits in very well.
If the band have a fault at all, it is that their songs tend to extreme brevity and nearly all shudder to a conclusion just as they seem about to get going. Again, it is hard to tell whether this is deliberate or dictated by circumstances. So a qualified thumbs up from this judge.

Next up come Dum Dum Girls, a striking four piece led by Kristin Gundred, aka Dee Dee. Theirs is a very mannered and studied sound, and once more relies upon the manipulation of the human voice.

The girls play a doomy, twangy, Fifties style garage rock, accompanied by strong three part harmonies. The twist is that everything is so distorted that the sound produced is eerie and echoing, giving an impression of great distance and loneliness. It‘s the sound of The Crystals, lost and desolate in the Mojave desert.

The bass guitar is almost all you can hear, as other instruments are reduced to a thin and ghostly wash of noise.

Dee Dee sings sorrowfully, her eyes fixed on some distant point, her heart apparently breaking. Tracks such “Jail La La” and “Catholicked” drift past. It’s a fascinating performance, and one that is over far too soon.

It’s been a weird evening, full of phantoms and longing and the distance between souls. As the last note falls to a whisper, I head off into the dark.