Thursday, 27 March 2014

Harbour at Amp Awards O2 Academy Leeds 24th March 2014

On 24th March 2014 my daughter played with her band Harbour at the O2 Academy in Leeds as part of the Amp Awards. Proud father face not shown.....

Amp Awards website

Thursday, 20 March 2014

If anyone were in any doubt as to why I have no friends.....

This is what I call easy listening......

Mats Gustafsson and Thurston Moore

Follow the Sound - 40th Anniversary 1973-2013

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Rich O’Brien Project – “Horizons” album review

The latest release from Bristol born bassist Richard O’Brien appears to have been perfectly timed to coincide with the change in weather that has occurred throughout the United Kingdom in March 2014. As the cold, gloomy winter nights gradually give way to spring, and the reappearance of light and colour lift the nations collective mood, an album such as “Horizons” is perfectly placed to provide the soundtrack to this reawakening.
 The influences that have shaped Richard musically are worn proudly on his sleeve, as can be heard on the opening piece “Co-Incidence”. Instantly memorable bass and brass lines provide a rock solid foundation for muscular soloing. Poignant keyboards tease their way through the mix giving the piece a mid 70’s soulful edge, which provides the perfect introduction and sets the stall out for the rest of this release. Not letting the joyful mood slip once, “Strawberry Kisses” bounces forward on deep and dirty bass lines which provides a firm foundation for some upliftingly sweltering guitar soloing. By the third track in the sun is beating down into your back garden and thoughts of cleaning down the barbecue are beginning to become a reality. As the first glass of wine is poured, “Juvenile” gives you no inclination that there is any reason to go back indoors. Tight arrangements again support fluid soloing, which sustain the momentum and keep the album optimistic and inspiring.

The vocal appearances on ”Promiscuous” and “Stay”, rather than disrupt the mood, add an additional weapon to the Richard O’Brien Arsenal of Soul, principally with the introduction of ‘seductiveness’ to the array of adjectives that could be applied to the music on “Horizons”. Slowing the pace down temporarily, “Ricardinho” could not be any more furtive and contented if it actively tried, and is complemented by some sumptuous keyboard and guitar playing that would not be out of place on a mid 70’s Miles Davis release. “Horizons Interlude” and “Nostalgia” provide tender fleeting vignettes compared to the cheerful agendas that make up the rest of this release, but are valuable additions that illustrate the flexibility of arrangement and playing. Tremendous music for the approaching summer months that will also help sustain the mood into subsequent years.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Ashley Reaks – Compassion Fatigue (1-8) album review

The premise for “Compassion Fatigue”, the latest release from multi-instrumentalist Ashley Reaks, is that the first song on the album will be one minute long, in the key of A, the second song two minutes long in the key of B, the third song three minutes long in the key of C and so on. On first realising this, one of the obvious knee jerk reactions may be that this is an abysmal gimmick, which totally overshadows the music within. Writing music within such strict guidelines may seem oppressive and mechanical. So, forget everything you have just read about the creation of the music and instead concentrate on the actual content. What we have here is a collection of tunes that so gloriously defy categorisation that they virtually stick two esoteric fingers up at any form of scene and go about their own business by their own rules. “Compassion Fatigue” as you would expect from being the first track, is one minute long and in the key of A, but forget I mentioned that, remember.
Sixty seconds of caustic lyrics superimposed over an almost progressive rock chord progression is the perfect introduction to this collection. The listener is hooked into the lyrical content in the same way that I can remember being drawn into the lyrics of Devo, there is something mischievous about the content, but it is dressed up in technically proficient and complex musical arrangements. Similarly, on “The World the Dead Have Made For Us” (two minutes long in B, sorry), the vocals and lyrics appear cheerful and family friendly, but hide a subtle message. “Cold Body Pussycat” illustrates how repetition in the vocal and instrumentation can accumulate layer upon layer to create mesmerising yet oddly sensitive music. In many ways that could be considered the theme to “Compassion Fatigue”, there is always a sense of “uneasy listening”. This can be illustrated again on “Wrong ‘Un”, as the music disguises the scathing nature of the vocal content. Contender for the best song title of the year so far must go to “Cot Death Grandmother”, and as the songs themselves become longer and therefore have available space to develop, the repetition and vocal wizardry take on a new level of sophistication. There is now even time for a saxophone solo and gently undulating vocal harmonies.
A dense, almost Philip Glass/Steve Reich-like element underpins “Street Cleaning” which really opens up the arrangements allowing for extended, almost baroque passages of saxophone, and progressive rock keyboard. It is now that the compositional proficiencies begin to shine through. The lyrics are no more family friendly for all this however, as the message is conveyed with a comical yet uncompromising edge.