Friday, 25 May 2012

Headspace - I Am Anonymous review

Headspace - I Am Anonymous
It would be difficult to consider “I Am Anonymous” by Headspace without taking into consideration the line up. The band consist of Damian Wilson on vocals, Pete Rinaldi on guitar, Richard Brook on drums, Lee Pomeroy on bass and on keyboards Adam Wakeman, son of Rick. With names such as these on the sleeve it would be hard to analyse the album as a piece of work in its own right, but it would appear churlish to take the album out of this context. The press release for the album cites influences from Rush, Yes, Genesis and Dream Theater, and these can be heard to permeate each piece on this release. Described loosely a concept album dealing with how the listener relates to humanity and the battles fought inside the mind, preconceptions are mounting.

“Stalled Armageddon” sets the pace well, with heavily guitar laden passages, dream like vocals, and keyboard lines that are never obtrusive. There are the characteristic changes in tempo, time signature and mood, but these seem to flow seamlessly without appearing awkward or contrived. According to Wakeman, due to commitments to other projects (including his contribution to Ozzy Osbourne’s band) the album has taken almost four years to complete, and as a result may be considered fractured. Close scrutiny of these tracks does not give the listener this impression in the least however, rather, a carefully considered, cohesive concept.

“Fall of America” opens with grandiose guitar riffs riding on the back of towering keyboard lines, which punctuate delicate vocal passages, prior to the majestic closing. The delicate “Soldier” forms an ideal interlude, with chiming bells and uncomplicated keyboard phrases, whilst “Die with a Bullet” is exhilarating and authoritative. The almost cathedral like opening to “In Hell’s Name” gives way to further flamboyant musicianship, which is broken up with subtle acoustic sections. Subtlety and poignancy introduce the longest track on the album “Daddy Fucking Loves You” (?) which gently give way to epic guitar riffs, science fiction keyboard lines and King Crimson-like time signatures. Every element of the bands influences shine through on this piece, with sections that are reminiscent of classic Yes and Rush....

Headspace – I Am Anonymous

Sunday, 20 May 2012

OverWorlds & UnderWorlds images May 19th & 20th 2012

The Quay Brothers flood the streets with the strange and spectacular; live performances of dance, film and music in Briggate, the County Arcade, Dark Arches and surrounding streets....

OverWorlds and UnderWorlds site

May 18th Guardian film - 'Getting lost is essential': The Quay brothers on their city-wide Leeds art project – video

Pope - Pope on a Rope review

Pope - Pope On A Rope

Simon Burgess (Simon Somatic), producing under the moniker “Pope”, has left in his wake the raw, angular sound of previous projects and come up with a collection of disparate eccentricity for the twenty first century. “Pope on a Rope” is an aural gallery of stories encased in tightly produced tunes which are the future whilst simultaneously being the past. “The Drag of Sloth” is lyrically deadpan, and features organ which appears to be from an altogether different piece of music. The angular guitar breaks appear, at first listen, totally incongruent, but as the piece unfolds, the listener’s ears become accustomed, and the joyfulness begins.

“Still Life”, again interlaced with those pokerfaced lyrics, is driven along with rapid polyphonic digital bleeps that are somehow reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s Synclavier work on “Jazz from Hell”. The straight ahead acoustic guitar based “Bunker Bill” is playful by comparison, before the impolite “Dummy’s Boy” slaps the listener in the face with an onslaught of 1980’s video game electronics, elaborate drum patterns, lager and tongue in cheek lyricism.

Instrumentals such as “Jazz Pile”, and to some extent from the mind of a tree on “Holy Summer”, go some way to show how Pope are capable, compositionally, of creating the equivalent of the contemporary jazz curiosity and push the boundaries of what this can mean to most people. The real surprise to “Pope on a Rope” is the Yoko Ono-baiting “Just Imagine” which is clearly a reworking of John Lennon’s household “Imagine”, with a taste of the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale”. Warning the indolent listener who may have their “head in the arse of a daydream”, about the perils of daydreaming, the hippy ideology is turned on its head and presented to a twenty first century audience as an ironic word of caution. An unaltered version of this tune is available to hear on Burgess’s website . This collection of curios is completed with a trouble-free “Room 4”, candid and lugubrious; the listener is released from the journey, and free to return to their regular lives...

Read the full review at This Is Not A Scene

Pope – Pope On A Rope

Friday, 11 May 2012

Dean Friedman - Submarine Races review

Dean Friedman – Submarine Races

It would be very difficult to begin a review of Dean Friedman’s seventh studio album, “Submarine Races” without considering his previous output and the songs that have made him a name synonymous with the perfectly crafted pop tune.

In 1977 he entered the consciousness with the infectious ‘Ariel’ and singles over the years such as ‘Lydia’, ‘Rocking Chair’ and ‘Lucky Stars’ have cemented Dean Friedman into the singer/songwriter hall of fame, whether or not the listener likes it or not. His foray into the soundtrack composing arena has been no less distinguishing with his contribution to the underground “I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle”. His prior recorded releases aside, it may be considered sensible to consider the content of “Submarine Races” in isolation.

The title track ‘Submarine Races’ is a lilting jamboree of gently floating guitar and careful narrative vocal that sets the bar particularly high. The country flavoured ‘I’m a Luck Guy’ and ‘Under the Weather’ excrete class and song writing finesse, under heartening and comforting vocals which could not fail to bring cheer to the face of the most wretchedly cynical old detractor.

‘You’re a Criminal Darling’ reminds the listener of how perfectly right on target Friedman is when composing and performing heartfelt love songs. In some sense, the naive vocal style lends these tunes a passion and an innocence which is unusually disarming, and utterly charming. ‘Luddite’s Lament’ uses tender jazz phrases as the basis to deliver a sharp appraisal of technology, Facebook, Twitter, Kindle and Google....

Read the full review at This Is Not A Scene

Dean Friedman – Submarine Races

JK Flesh - Posthuman review

JK Flesh - Posthuman

The latest release from purveyors of “post-dubstep” (however that may be described) and industrial landscapes, 3by3 records, is sure to be demanding, and for that reason, ultimately rewarding to ears that are willing to experiment and discover new sounds. From the depths of rural North Wales, given life in the home studio of Justin K Broadrick, JK Flesh will be manna from heaven for devotees of the crushing guitar riffs and tortured vocal of Godflesh. Not to say that this new project is simply a rehashing of the Godflesh template, as “Posthuman” explores how industrial landscapes and inner city anxiety can be explored alongside a re-reading of how dubstep could mature over the next few years.

“Knuckledragger”, which opens with a disconcerting array of dissonant sounds, soon falls into a steady stride of desolate beats, unsettling riffs and heavily twisted vocals. If there was any listener who felt fretful before playing the album, they would be well advised to try again at a later date. “Idle Hands” carries on the theme with a gruelling guitar riff and bleak vocal, whilst “Punchdrunk” makes excellent use of cacophonous electronic sound coming tangentially out of the mix. By this stage, the listener is gripped by how much the guitar, and particularly the industrial guitar riffs, are very much a characteristic of “Posthuman”. Having said that, “Devoured” has all the elements of mutant hip hop, but with that vocal which has been drawn from the psyche of its creator, whilst the title track “Posthuman” seems to rage in the face of the listener from the milieu of industrialised Birmingham.

Deranged cacophony that merely hints at vocals and a pumping bassline feature heavily in “Earthmover” whilst further into the voyage “Dogmatic” continues to explore how far the confines of misshapen hip hop can be pressed, with the familiar sound of urban decay being assaulted with heavily twisted voice samples. “Underfoot”, although slower in tempo, is drenched in a similar feeling of angst that was so apparent on many of the Jesu releases, but with beats that keep a sinister momentum. Closing the album, “Walk Away” has less of the desolation, but more of the cacophony and layering of instrumentation that has been hinted at throughout the album....

Read the full review at This Is Not A Scene

JK Flesh – Posthuman