The Londoners describe their sound as incorporating The Who, late 60’s West Coast psychedelia, late 70’s punk and mid 90’s Britpop. That’s general enough in itself but there are definite strong influences on this garage rock outfit. Take a hint of the Libertines, a dash of The Strokes and a snifter of the New York Dolls and you’re some way toward discovering their sound. Not a bad mix and they wear it well.
Trashing guitars, Dynamic percussion and rasping vocals all contribute to the latter day punk sensibility of this debut effort. It’s a brief encounter but they get their style across well in a raft of songs that weigh under the four minute mark as all good pop tunes ought to. Nik Down’s spits out his lyrics and has a delivery and urgency that Julian Casablancas used to manage back in the day.
All comparisons aside this is first and foremost that rarest of things, a damn fine record. First track ‘City of Angels’ hurtles along in a paean to buying green in Compton, It’s a strong opener. The California theme continues with the Excellent ‘Holly Would’, 2 minutes and 32 seconds of balls to the wall rocking out. Things slow down a bit with ‘No Saviour’, it builds and glides with shimmering guitars and is reminiscent of U2 pre jumping the shark, so far so anthemic. ‘So sexy’ is all dirty guitars and comes off as a freewheeling slice of late seventies guitar goodness. And before you know it things close off with decidedly pleasant ‘The Shakedown’.
I really enjoyed this debut from the London based four piece. It’s a jaunty affair that is a straight up enjoyment of all things guitar. It manages to sound fresh without drifting into the play by numbers mediocrity all too prescient with so many rocking wannabe hipsters these days. All I can say is that The HaywireEP is definitely worth a listen.
To some the notion of electronic music can bring to mind repetitive synth and drum loops with very little to distinguish it from whatever else is rattling around in the electronic litter tray that month. Not so with this release from Ketsa, the latest incarnation of London based Musician, DJ and producerDominic Giam.
The literal translation of Al Kemet is from the Western interpretation of Egyptian magic… the phrase from which we draw the word ‘alchemy’ and there’s certainly elements of magic in this release. There are catchy beats aplenty and lots of overlaid piano and vocal samples used to great effect throughout. At times the mood is slow and ponderous but there’s joined up thinking throughout – this album flows as opposed to stopping and stuttering through its runtime.
There are fourteen tracks (plus a hidden number) on offer here and nearly every one of them is quality. Opener ‘Solution’ brings to mind the kind of music Thom Yorke is trying to make when he veers off kilter with his solo efforts. It’s a fantastically low-key opener with staggered piano loops over a catchy breakbeat. Other tracks of note include the trippy goodness of ‘Distillation’, its lightly dusted percussion working really well with a nicely underplayed brass sample. ‘Callination’ is a fantastic track, its slowly meandering percussion builds over squelchy electronic beeps and beats. ‘Purification’ works an eastern sounding vocal sample over an almost Muse-like piece of piano (trust me it works far better than that sounds). In fact, it’s the piano that stands out largely on this album for me. Ketsa tickles the ivories over worked electronica to create some excellent tuneage.
I’m genuinely struggling to come up with an artist to compare Ketsa with, at times on tracks like ‘Multiplication’ Kraftwerk might come to mind, then he turns it on his head with the next song. It’s certainly very different to anything I’ve been listening to lately and in places he produces a sound that is entirely his own. Being able to avoid being easily pigeonholed is generally no bad thing. East meets west is too lazy a generalisation to describe this album – it’s an assured and decidedly different release from someone with very much their own sound. Al Kemet marks Ketsa’s first release on the Invisible Agent label and there’s a confidence and crispness to the meshing of genres at play here that marks out the Londoner as a name to look out for. (The artwork by Cambodian artist Dina Chhan is equally impressive – Ed.)
*Note: Invisible Agent have also made their entire back catalogue free to download. Go here for details –http://www.invisibleagent.com/2012/08/14/entire-back-catalog-is-now-free/.
Really nice remix here from the ever talented Slowmagic.Gives the original a really dreamy trippy flavour.
Well worth a listen.
There’s a certain mindset that views Hooky’s touring of Joy Division numbers as almost sacrilegious. I don’t share that mindset; the man was there from the beginning, end of. Himself and Barney Sumner mightn’t be talking anymore but musicians falling out is nothing new, and this is as close as anyone of my generation is going to get to hearing the legendary Mancunian outfit live.
Anyways, musico-political minefields aside, there is always a certain degree of trepidation when approaching a gig like this. Are there going to be actual fans here or eventers out for the night? Will the famous bass man be able to deliver on the night? Thankfully the place was jam-packed with believers who were witness to Peter Hook and his band The Light delivering a rousing set.
Support on the night came from local boys Dead School who didn’t leave the side down and rocketed through a very pleasing set. They’ve had a very busy year and it must really put the crown on things to support an act like Peter Hook on their home turf. Nice work by the lads and it was good to see them in the crowd after, just as big fan boys as the rest of us.
Everything was here for the casual Joy Division afficionado. His voice mightn’t be the best but Hooky grabbed the crowd by the collective throat from the minute the bass strains of ‘Atmosphere’ kicked in. From here on in, we got to see a master at work. Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division’s seminal masterpiece was played in its entirety and he even managed to go for the elusive double encore, finishing off proceedings with ‘Transmission’ and the ever popular ‘Love will tear us apart’.
It was a decidedly pleasant night all round and showcased the venue on a balmy Saturday night. Listening to the soaring beat of ‘She’s lost control’ so near to the banks of the Lee isn’t a memory anyone who was there is likely to forget anytime soon.
Niall Healy | 27.08.12
The Cassini Projekt is a one-man band hailing from Dublin. The Projekt AKA Alex Mc Donnell lays down guitars, piano, keyboards, drums, bass, and vocals on this album. The scale of McDonnell’s ambitions are grand indeed with the blurb for this album proclaiming that the album is concerned with ‘world war, the psychology of imperialists, the apocalypse, alienation from the universe and political corruption’, I wasn’t exactly expecting light listening then. He’s given himself a wide base to work with incorporating styles associated with ‘doom metal, death metal and progressive rock’, Filler also draws upon rap, punk, electronica, dance rock, and grunge.
So has this wild ambition delivered or is such a mish mash of musical styles resulted in a gloopy musical stew? The truth is it’s not all bad. Mcdonnell hits the mark in several places. I’ll admit being a total stranger to metal and its many incarnations but McDonnell is more prog space opera in places than standard Sepeltura roaring. Whatever else you say about this record you certainly can’t fault McDonnell for lacking in ambition. ‘Infernalis’ channels Matt Bellamy’s noodly grandiosity and other track’s ‘The end of Everything’ sounds like a straight up Jimi Hendrix cover outfit. There’s some fantastic use of melody here in places. ‘Leviathan’ is an odd song that comes off a little Spinal Tap in places. ‘The Jackal’ sounded like straight up Metallica to me. There’s also plenty of OK Computer era Radiohead influence running through this album.
So in summary, McDonnell is an undoubtedly talented musician who has conjured up an impressively varied and diverse recording. If there’s one criticism I would level at the Projekt is that it’s pretty derivative at times, influences are meant to be just that. The mesh of styles is a little overstretched at times and doesn’t sit easy however its an interesting listening experience and one can only applaud the scale of what The Cassini Projekt has laid down here. Filler is a somewhat patchy but never dull affair.
Niall Healy | 24.08.12
My Lyrical mind is 21 year old Mancunian Matt Wood who has just released his second E.P. It’s not a radical departure stylistically from his first release but in terms of production this is a far crisper and more polished affair than Matt’s first release ‘Dreams break at dawn’. ‘A Quiet Hurricane’ is an accomplished release that shows an artist who is really starting to find his feet musically.
First single ‘Drop me a line’ is a real pleasure. It’s all understated longing and gentle guitar that really brings out Matt’s vocal. It’s a simple song that gets the job done with some lovely soft string arrangements perfectly complimenting the central melody. It’s a good statement of intent from the singer songwriter that shows a developing talent. The EP’s opener ‘I saw you fly away’ is a charming enough folksy number that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. Titular track ‘A quiet hurricane’ is a perfect little number, all jangling acoustic and longing, it’s good stuff. Then before you know it the EP draws to a close with the quiet/loud/quiet anthem ‘lock it away’.
A Quiet Hurricane marks an artist who is developing on the job. There’s an awful lot to like in these four tracks. The grasp of form and songsmithery is steadily emerging and there are some moments of genuine quality here. All in all two thumbs up for a very accomplished sophomore effort from a genuinely promising artist.
Unknown Pleasures from start to finish, yes thanking you very much. Top gig.
Nick Hornby described the making of a mixtape as like writing a letter — “there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do”. Infuriatingly Dublin producing talent KaraKara (A.K.A Kieran Dold) makes it sound easy with the 16 track Bully. The 22 year old has woven together 16 tracks that makes its constituent parts meld together in a whizz of electronic beats and digital goodness.
Opener ‘Press Start’ drifts in like a NES era platformer building in complexity and showing an ear for detail that gives the listener a really pleasant introduction. Its parts of the Drive soundtrack mashed up with Mario. As daft as this comparison might sound, it works a treat. There’s a marriage of electro synths and hip hop beats on tracks like ‘ET remix’ that leave you wondering what just happened there, thankfully not in a bad way. Other highlights include ‘Occupy a sofa and calm the fuck down’ & ‘The boy is fine’. At times I’m reminded of the sound of Slow Magic or a pared back Daft Punk. Whatever way you want to throw out the musical comparisons there’s talent at work here.
There’s an inventiveness and playfulness here that I really enjoyed. Bully was put together in the one sitting and manages to fit in everything from Michael Jackson samples to Katy Perry remixes. In the wrong hands it could have been a total mess. I’m not going to spend the whole review gushing, I could have done without a Seal remix and there are parts of the production that jar, but on the whole it’s a success. This particular Bully leaves you aurally battered and walks away with your lunch money. The worst thing is you enjoy the experience.
KaraKara has undoubtedly delivered a confident and at times excellent release
Cyprus Avenue 10/08/12.
An exciting night of electronic thrills, spills and all else besides was promised and to be fair the line-up didn’t disappoint. Things were a tad delayed kicking off but like all good things if you wait they will arrive. The boys from Alliance Promotions and Noize culture got four acts under the one roof and it was a real treat from start to finish.
REID used to play with Zombie computer and it’s good to see his solo career off to a good start with a decidedly pleasant showing. There was also an excellent set from Sad Soul Circus A.K.A Finn Yowell who managed to house up everything from Sinatra to Kid A, no mean feat says I.
Admittedly electronic music wouldn’t normally be my kind of thing but there was enough on show here even for the most casual of listeners to be impressed. Zombie computer have been off the radar for seven months and they only made their return to gigging at Indiependence. They could have perhaps been forgiven for being a little off the pace live but there were no signs of ring rustiness from the local electronica duo who showed their worth by delivering a rousing new set on the night. It can be sometimes daunting when playing new material but they carried it off with gusto. Their brooding sound works well in a venue like Cyprus Avenue. They are fast garnering a solid reputation and on the back of this it’s easy to see why.
Slow Magic had top billing (on the poster at least) and the masked man delivered with a performance of incredible energy and dynamism. He took to the floor two or three times during his set and boy can the lad get a drum going. Highlights were the fantastic single Corvette Cassette and a foot stomping showing of Sorry Safari. Sometimes a live act can surprise the life out of you with what they deliver and this was one of those nights. The man in the multi-coloured mask and eyes aglow stole the show with a high tempo performance that really got people moving. He made a great connection with his audience and marked himself out as an act to be on the lookout for the next time he’s Ireland bound.
So there you have it, he bangs the drums was the story of the night with a tremendous showing from Zombie computer and a tasty two sets from Reid and Sad Soul Circus. Plenty of bang for your buck and this punter departed into the night safe in the knowledge that Cork’s electronic scene is in exceptionally rude health.