Archive for October, 2010
Bubblegum Cage III sincerely hopes that you enjoyed Post-Rocktoberfest 2010. If you haven’t been keeping up with the action, be sure to at least read our overviews of the work of Kevin Martin and The Third Eye Foundation. You might also be interested to learn that all six volumes of the UK Post-Rock compilation series are now permanently available for download via this here link. Maybe there will be another volume available this time next year. But who knows?
Disco Inferno – “Next Year”
Volume Five in the UK Post-Rock compilation series (available again as the bonus feature for this very post) presented a pretty thorough overview of the genre’s key acts, most of which had already been featured on previous volumes. Consequently, the original idea for Volume Six, was to compile tracks by bands that hadn’t featured on any of the previous volumes.
In reality, there may have been a little cheating on that front and some of the (even) more obscure British bands from the period may have been left out, as have some of the more recent descendants of the original scene. Oh well, maybe Volume Seven will explore those murky corners a bit more thoroughly. For now, you might consider this volume to be the bonus disc to Volume Five – the “DVD extras”, if you like.
Having said that, the first half of this compilation is pretty tightly packed with hits. Tracks one-through-eight probably represent the poppiest sequence of tunes to appear in this series so far. Things get distinctly darker and more abstract in the second half.
3. Ian Crause – “Head Over Heals”
Solo single from the Disco Inferno main-man. Hardly as revolutionary as the classic DI material but a stirring tune, nevertheless.
4. Broadcast – “America’s Boy”
Hard to pick a favourite track from Broadcast’s Tender Buttons album but this is probably as good as any. The sound of a band coming into its own.
5. Bows – “Uniroyal”
It’s the bloke from Long Fin Killie, innit? Nice mix of drum & bass and dreampop. A bit dated but still lovely.
6. Screeper – “Can Fever”
Very, very obscure band from Portsmouth. Recalls that brief moment when shoegaze decided to “go dance”. Only good. Great, actually.
7. Echoboy – “Canada”
Led by some bloke who was briefly the bass player in Oasis! Surely the only example of a UKPR/Britpop crossover?
8. Electrelane – “To the East”
This band could be a bit samey but when it got outside the comfort zone (which usually meant including some vocals), things could get pretty interesting.
9. Bovine Over Sussex NE – “Rock and Chock”
This is where things start to get weird. Massively obscure lo-fi act, with an annoying habit of slightly changing its name between releases.
10. Rothko – “For Danny”
What was it with post-rock bands and having multiple bass players? Usually worked out okay, though. Lovely, atmospheric stuff.
11. Juicy Eureka – “Air”
Much better than the band name suggests. A solo project of Neil McKay of Loop and The Hair & Skin Trading Company.
12. Experimental Audio Research – “California Nocturne”
Sonic Boom and friends. Main to Spacemen 3’s Loop, if you catch the drift. The (essential) album this is from (Mesmerised) was recently re-issued. Go get it!
13. L i ght – “Tale of White Passage”
One of the lesser known bands from the Bristol scene. Associated with Flying Saucer Attack. Lovely rural space-rock.
14. Crescent – “Star”
Another lesser-known Bristol band. Associated with The Third Eye Foundation and appropriately gloomy in tone. This track would seem to be the basis of…
15. The Third Eye Foundation – “Crescent, Superconstellation”
Okay, so The Third Eye Foundation has already appeared on more than one of these compilations but as previously discussed, this remix is astonishing.
UK Post-Rock Vol. 4.
1. Bark Psychosis – “The Black Meat”
2. Disco Inferno – “Keep it Together”
3. Hood – “You Show No Emotion at All”
4. Amp – “Get Here”
5. Moonshake – “Gravity”
6. Flying Saucer Attack – “The Drowners”
7. The Hair & Skin Trading Company – “Kinetic”
8. Long Fin Killie – “(A) Man Ray”
9. Papa Sprain – “U Swell”
10. Butterfly Child – “Juice”
11. Piano Magic – “The Fun of the Century”
12. Spoonfed Hybrid – “The Sun Always Changes My Mind”
13. Earwig – “Every Day Shines”
Today’s bonus feature is this here blog’s recent “shoegaze” (and “proto-shoegaze”) compilation Dream Rock & Noise Pop 1985-93 (Vol. 1). This mix specifically doesn’t feature any actual UK post-rock but it does act as a handy guide to some immediate precursors and related innovations.
Click here to download part one of Dream Rock & Noise Pop 1985-93 (Vol. 1) and click here to download part two.
Please note that these are the original temporary links, so they will expire at some point. Hopefully, they’ll be replaced by permanent links, before too very long. (The links are now permanent.)
Dream Rock & Noise Pop 1985-93 (Vol. 1)
1. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “You Trip Me Up”
2. Cocteau Twins – “Aikea-Guinea”
3. My Bloody Valentine – “Slow”
4. A.R. Kane – “Baby Milk Snatcher”
5. Loop – “Arc-Lite”
6. Spacemen 3 – “Revolution”
7. The House of Love – “Destroy the Heart”
8. Ride – “Chelsea Girl”
9. My Bloody Valentine – “Loomer”
10. Slowdive – “Catch the Breeze”
11. Pale Saints – “Throwing Back the Apple”
12. Lush – “For Love”
13. Medicine – “A Short Happy Life”
14. Black Tambourine – “Throw Aggi Off the Bridge”
15. Swirlies – “Pancake”
16. Secret Shine – “Temporal”
17. The Boo Radleys – “Upon 9th and Fairchild”
18. Lovesliescrushing – “youreyesimmaculate”
Promises to be the highlight of this year’s New Music Festival.
Post-Rocktoberfest continues tomorrow.
Sidelong by Ui.
It didn’t quite squeeze into last-year’s US Post-Rock Top Five but it was pretty darn close. Ui was (and possibly still is) a New York-based band led by Sasha Frere-Jones, who is currently employed as the New Yorker’s pop music critic. The New York-ness of all this is highly significant as Sidelong, the band’s 1995 debut album, was (and most certainly still is) very much in the tradition of Big Apple post-punk and mutant disco.
With a line-up consisting of two bass players and a drummer, the version of Ui showcased on Sidelong made a sparse, funky, mostly instrumental sound – very similar to the one produced by NY legends like Liquid Liquid and ESG. All this, you should note, years before the post-punk revival kicked in. Perhaps Sidelong‘s sheer prescience explains why it has stood the test of time so well. Fifteen years on, it still sounds fresh.
Having said that, the stripped-down, bass-focused sound can get a bit wearing over the length of an entire album and the band’s white funk workouts do tend to lumber occasionally. Oh and sometimes, it really just sounds like something’s missing. Which might be why Sidelong‘s most successful tracks are those that add an additional element or two – vocals and synth on “Sexy Photograph” (a not-too-distant relation of Can’s “You Do Right”) or vocal and banjo on “Golden Child”.
Given the quality of this material, you can’t help wishing Frere-Jones would stop wasting his time writing books about Michael Jackson (or whatever it is he’s up to at the moment) and just pick up the ol’ bass guitar again.
UK Post-Rock Vol. 3
1. Disco Inferno – “The Last Dance”
2. Transformer – “Outdoor Miner”
3. Adventures in Stereo – “There Was a Time”
4. Stereolab – “Fluorescences”
5. Snowpony – “Golden Carriage”
6. Moonshake – “Second Hand Clothes”
7. Scala – “Remember How to Breathe”
8. The Third Eye Foundation – “Universal Cooler”
9. Movietone – “We Rode On”
10. Papa Sprain – “Flying to Vegas”
11. Bark Psychosis – “I Know”
12. Scorn – “White Irises Blind”
13. Terminal Cheesecake – “Oily Hot Knife”
14. Main – “There is Only Light”
15. The Hair & Skin Trading Company – “*”
Today’s bonus feature is Papa Sprain’s Live at the Marquee 91 bootleg, which sees history’s most tragically under-appreciated avant rock band on absolutely storming form and surpasses anything the band ever actually released. Click here to download Live at the Marquee 91.
Papa Sprain – Live at the Marquee 91
3. “Flying to Vegas”
4. “You Are Ten Million Needles Pierce”
5. “I Got Stop”
Matt Elliott was one of the prime movers in Bristol’s early post-rock scene. He was a sometime member of scene cornerstone Flying Saucer Attack, as well being involved with lesser-known acts like AMP and Movietone. But Elliott is most recognizable as the fellow behind The Third Eye Foundation, one of those acts (see also Scorn and Main) that typified the artistic trajectory of UK post-rock, by starting off rock and ending up post- (“post-” usually being a broad euphemism for “electronic”). In Third Eye’s case, the catalyst responsible for this transformation was the then-revolutionary sound of drum & bass/jungle.
The first Third Eye Foundation album was called Semtex (also, confusingly, the title of a 12″ Elliott released around the same time). Aptly named indeed, Semtex certainly was explosive. The album’s opening track, “Sleep”, was what brought Third Eye to the attention of many listeners – a combination of massive, churning guitar riffs and stuttering faux-drum & bass beats. It sets an air of menace that Elliott manages to sustain very effectively for the rest of the album.
Semtex was followed by In Version, basically a remix album, with Elliott going to town on songs by a handful of other Bristol post-rock luminaries – Amp, Crescent and Flying Saucer Attack – plus Hood from Leeds. In Version is often overlooked when the Third Eye story is being told, which is a crying shame because its best moments are truly excellent – especially “Amp, Short Wave Dub” and the monumental “Crescent, Superconstellation”.
The next album proper was Ghost. The remixes on In Version suggested that Elliott was taking an increasingly electronic approach – and Ghost confirmed that impression. Essentially a collaboration with Debbie Parsons (aka Foehn), Ghost twists found-sound samples (creaking doors and chairs feature heavily) into nightmarish webs of minor-key melody. The still-rather-ham-fisted drum & bass rhythm tracks, meanwhile, sound like they’re trying to beat a hasty retreat. Overall, the aesthetic of tracks like “The Out Sound from Way In” is suggestive of My Bloody Valentine’s “Touched” getting kicked to death by hooligans then eaten by zombies.
If things in Third Eye’s world seemed to be getting darker and darker, goofy titles like “The Out Sound…” and “I’ve Seen the Light and It’s Dark”, showed that there was at least some gallows humour leavening the gloom. This element – and indeed all the elements – came into clearer focus with the release of You Guys Kill Me. Featuring cleaner production values and noticeably improved drum programming, this album did a great deal to expand Elliott’s worldwide audience.
You Guys… is still pretty unrelenting but the overall effect is energizing rather the enervating, as it could occasionally be on his previous albums. The opening “A Galaxy of Scars” is one of those tracks that makes you feel strangely compelled to break into a spontaneous round of applause. Impressive.
All of the good work Elliott had been doing up to this point was effectively consolidated with the 200o release of Little Lost Soul. On this album, samples are woven into Gothic tapestries, much as they are on Ghost but with greater sonic clarity and musical sophistication. The drum programming, meanwhile, makes another quantum leap, with Elliott building and releasing tension brilliantly (almost like a proper jungle producer) on the absolutely storming single “What is it with You?”
Unfortunately, by this point in time, jungle/drum & bass was running out of steam and UK post-rock had been pretty much consigned to the dustbin of history. Little Lost Soul was to be the last proper Third Eye album, for the time being. The following year’s I Poo Poo on Your Juju offered a ragbag of collaborations and remixes (including a bonkers head-to-head with Christopher Morris, an excellent Blonde Redhead remix and an absolutely gorgeous cover of Jonathan Richman’s “When I Dance”).
Matt Elliott has continued to release albums under his own name. These have documented a surprising return to the more song-based approach he seemed to have abandoned after Semtex. His first solo album, The Mess We Made, is a fairly effective collection of sample-based sea shanties, psychedelic Gypsy folk dirges, and Kid A-style avant rock anthems. By 2004’s Drinking Songs, though, the samples had given way to a fully organic, fairly conventional folk sound and many listeners simply lost interest.
Still, the work Matt Elliott did throughout the ’90s stands as some of the most truly individual, passionate, funny and often downright scary music of the era. Don’t doubt that he’s got another great album in him yet. And in fact, there’s a new Third Eye Foundation album – titled The Dark – scheduled for release next month. Can’t wait!