Saturday, 17 March 2018

Rafael Anton Irisarri - two albums: Midnight Colours; Sirimiri

Stream of Consciousness

This is music outside my comfort zone and yet providing me with the most comforting sense of ease, even when haunted, as I listen. It is ambient because that is how it is described, though I fundamentally intuit what that means in being applied to its expansive sound – you tend to ‘see’ it as much as hear, as ridiculous as that clearly sounds, but I do see landscapes because it sounds vast, and these are surprisingly plain [grey, probably] rather than colourful, as beautiful as the melancholic, harmonising sounds can be. It is also called drone [I’m just picking up the descriptions I have read] and I get this too, though for me that implies a monotone that isn’t really accurate, as regulated as the sound so often is – rather than variable in any dramatic sense. It is the repetitions of sound and the varying volume of those pulses of sound that are what it is, a slow ebb and flow of sound, in and out, sometimes in static, but very often peaking in the fullest reach of their wave of sound, again and again, having ebbed, and maybe each time it is just that bit more accentuated, as it just happens to be as I listen to Sonder from Sirimiri as I type. Both of these albums dominate as soundscapes which are obviously electronically generated but they have such a naturalistic aural sense to them because of their mesmerising slow loops and pulses, something that perhaps links to breathing in and out and whatever you can make of that idea that just doesn’t sound stupid because you can see/hear that I am trying to describe it as I listen and feel it. Even when the sounds are more caustic as with the static I have mentioned they develop an hypnotic sense of naturalness which can be calming, for want of a better word/sensation as you listen, the repetitions again drawing you into their world of rhythms so that you breathe to them at which point I am stopping this generally stream of consciousness account which may in itself be one of the more apt ways to describe the music itself as it encapsulates the meanings for which it is composed.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Kim Wilde - Here Come the Aliens, album review

Good Pop

I don't generally listen to pop music or like, though being honest I often use the term 'pop sensibilities' when being positive about such leanings in artists I do like. I also pretty much gave the 80s a wide berth - rightly or wrongly in terms of being generally expansive in my musical appreciation - and I only really know, like many/most, Kim Wilde's biggest hit Kids in America.

But this album is very listenable, and quite enjoyable, and certainly very well produced. There are great touches throughout: guitar in Kandy Krush, electronic production in Stereo Shot, and the bass line in Yours 'Til the End, as well as the vocal harmonies [the song being Duran Duran-ish, apparently - I hear a Paul Young track in that bass work, but couldn't say which]. As for Birthday I could...but won't.

I suspect it is highly targeted at a market, and produced to maximum appeal. Well, why wouldn't you?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Into the Distance Music 71

Collette Savard - Collette Savard and the Savants, album review


What a fine set of songs with great lead vocal from Savard, close vocal harmonies, and mellowed as well as funky playing – The Hardest Part a perfect exemplification of this perfection. It Shines follows this, the seventh track, and it uses its familiar rock riff well to lead up and into a sweet harmonised chorus, Megan Worthy pumping out the keyboards.

In Over My Head sets the scene with that fulsome lead voice and a tight harmonising along the melodic line, crisp lead guitar from Tim Posgate. Copper Moon is one of those funkier numbers, Savard’s up-and-down vocal sustained within its warm tone, and more of those controlled harmonies from Rebecca Campbell and Megan Worthy. I’m Counting on You Heart is a slowed gem, some interesting vocal and other percussive inserts in mimicry. John Switzer provides the walking jaunt in his bass line for The Hardest Part, already mentioned, and Megan’s dad [have to acknowledge] Martin Worthy lays down here and throughout the unobtrusive but neat beats.

Free download of In Over My Head here

Photo: Noir Kitty

Monday, 12 March 2018

Daevid Allen Weird Quartet - Elevenses, album review

Yummy Psychedelia

An album of some nerdish controversy – is it really his last [to be 'found' after his passing], is it really him, is it as good as others – and I don’t know the Gong and Soft Machine originator all that well, like calling him the ‘originator’ of those two which is less accurate than co-founder I’m sure, but the mention places him in his genre and time as much as the album’s inclusion of Weird does.

And it is weird in that psychedelic way it should be, a song like Kick that Habit Man and its repetitions with distorted vocal and little synth bursts exemplifying. Mainly instrumental, when Allen is singing in his distinctive vocal the songs come most to idiosyncratic light, though I do like the synth sounds on Secretary of Lore.

I think it is simply a lot of fun and certainly lively in its playfulness and weirdness, not that this latter is really all that so by the era of its recording in 2006, the album released in 2016.

Opener Transloopthismessage sets the scene well with its hisses, tinkling bells, and echoing vocal that leads into the next Imagicknation which says it all in the neologism, Allen in that spoken-sung vocal of his, the accent [Aussie/Anglo] sounding casual in its pop-sixtyish way. There is an accordion [Don Falcone] led ditty of delightfulness in God’s New Deal, another one where Allen sings, here a little like Dylan, but only a very little. Under the Yumyum Tree is when you can drop one, if you feel the extra need.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Chris Farlowe - Live At The BBC, album review

It Was the Best of Times...

This is a delightful collection, the interviews and announcements by almost exclusively Brian Matthew delivers the period feel, and Farlowe is a genuine, nonchalant interviewee – one of my favourites is when he is asked about his song My Way of Giving and who wrote it:

CF: Stevie Merriott of The Small Faces, he brought it along and he said ‘Would you like to listen to this?’, I heard it, it was very nice, I played it to Mick [Jagger, then producing some of Farlowe’s songs], he said it was ‘Very nice’, we all got together for the session, had a great time on the session, and that was it.

BM: Was Steve at the session as well?

CF: Yeah, they was all, all the Faces were there.

BM: And he was happy with the results?

CF: Yeah, very happy.

And thus great music and recordings got made with such ease! All the performances are great, Farlowe in his brilliant husky distinctiveness, so full of distinctive tone too, and many are with his band The Thunderbirds – and then there are full band and light orchestral with backing vocal renditions of songs like Paint it Black [there are 3 versions on the second disc] and Yesterday’s Papers.

There’s soulful covers of Mr Pitiful and It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, and then fulsome balladry with Burt Bacharach’s I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself to which Brian Matthew plainly concludes and very nice too, thank you Chris.

The best of times in so many ways.

Eye Music 22

David Munyon - Planetary Nights, album review

Munyon Meaningfulness

A new collection from the wonderful David Munyon, the grizzled singing of beautiful songs, lyrically affecting in their honesty and world-weary insights, from the politically ironic reflections of Make America Great Again to the tender memories of From Me to You.

These are everyman narratives mapping out our lives across mainly sweet, finger-picked guitar – go back to Make America Great Again and listen to the invocations of what really matters, the hopefulness in simple promises of attending church [believe or not, this cultural reality] and the search for approbation from Mom and Dad. It isn’t all plaintive, and the quick blues of Headin For The Temple, Runnin From… presents Munyon in fine voice.

Slow Night Train to Freedom addresses refugees/otherness, the souls and tears of living life in hope and fear: don’t it break your heart/don’t you give a damn/what if it was your daughter or son are heartfelt questions in the lyric. Las Vegas Money and Rain Woman Blues are further cool blues to vary the mood, reminding us that good Americana has a wide sweep. And this is good, very good.

The album closes on penultimate Inside the Wind which is poetically and musically gorgeous, and the final title track is similarly pretty and, again, honest – love grows old, shoes wear out, nights grow cold – where the me and you of the song still have hearts on fire in the planetary nights and cosmic truths of living. There is wit – Chevrolets are good, Mercedes are better: it all depends on the money you spend – and this is the summation of living, from the earthbound to the cosmic.

A great album. 

Read more of my reviews of his work here

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Into the Distance Music 70

No matter how far you look ahead, there is no end and this is the one that will keep on going...