FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 1
 
 

DOWNTOWN BOYS - SELF-TITLED

I like noise with animation and if that activated racket dances on the cusp of nonsense but somehow manages to keep within the realms of rhythm it can make for a very exciting escapade.  Downtown Boys from Providence are a crew that dabble with danger and as per, sometimes create crude crapulence, sometimes shit with stinking success.  The excitement is blatant though and here, on a re-release, they expose their raving arses and let the sonica squirt out without thought of making an error - tis sometimes the only way to do it.  I strip naked, don a pair of extra thin latex gloves and plunge into the rectum that produces the rhythm and, after much huffing and puffing, come out with a review as thus.

'Callate' is wonderfully ramshackle mayhem screeched out with much ado about many things and has a certain gushing fervour that many long-term and stagnant bands are severely lacking in.  This is a perilous number built on nothing more than zeal, desire and over-popping hormones.  Crank the volume up high and smash your head against the wall over and over again.  The cruel and clatter-twatter approach is intriguing and I expect things to develop further and to bathe my slap-dash loving soul in waters of wicked extremes.  My expectations are met with the fuckin' deliciously exciting foam over slapped out under the banner of 'Slumlord Sal'.  This is a beauty, a number that scrambles beneath the skin like a horde of acoustic ants on whizz and scurries over the senses bringing something akin to a chaos-induced orgasm.  From the creamy brass tones that fracture and cling on to the rushing seizure that pleases my inner core where the whirling and twirling DIY elements await bombardments of noise that are not overly processed and maintain a danger that we must hold onto – this is high impact joy.  The song has guts exposed, it holds nothing back and that throat-shredding front roar is a blessing.  All components buzz my gonads, I never complain when I get that sensation. Hot damn mother knit me some more undies!

'Corra' begins with souped down bassism before vulgarly bubbling, she-bitching and untidily shit flinging this way and that way with little thought of orthodox routine.  The band have a seething intensity and are not afraid to cause hurt via the airwaves and leave you...wondering.  The spasms of brass, the sporadic oral explosions and the speedy time all copulate to win favour - oh aye.  'Work' closes, slops out and slings itself on your lap in a somewhat lazy style.  The ad hoc and slipping methodology that begins the flow is not the best style adopted so far but with patience a certain attraction is borne.  The band are keeping things on the leash here but they are still holding plenty of threat with the wired up banshee at the front spitting to good effect.  I am unsure of this one though as the controlled and the crazed make for strange bedfellows that leave me...a trifle confounded.  This may be no bad end result and it certainly creates room for further thought.

So there you have it, a 4 track dabbling for a band based on emotion and free-wheeling flamboyance.  I am mightily impressed by that second track and, if the truth be known, the CD as a whole.  A band of this ilk are obviously going to create sounds that grate, explosions that really miss the mark but when they get it right, for me at least, they really vibrate the sensors.

   

THE JOHNNIE SQUIZZERCROW EXPERIMENT - A BEAUTY PAGEANT FOR THE MORALLY UGLY

I have just done a JSE review - did you like it?  What did you think?  Or more to the point - did you even fuckin' read it?  I try, that is all I can do and here is another EP from the same stable, with the same politics and the same stretching vibrations.  I like 4 track releases, they are easier to zone in on and seem to keep the band fresher and with more options, plus it is a great way to keep the releases coming and make sure all are enthused.

The first of the four here goes under the name of 'Nothing To See Hear', a statement of the obvious telling us that what we see and hear may be not the truth - get way with ya, and here's me believing it all (add sarcasm).  Nothing new comes my way verbally but the music is a fine blessing with a  languid approach that slowly pupates and ultimately develops into a slow flapping flutterby of pseudo-reggae drifting. From those initial tones of exotic lands through the barely tiptoed landscapes bare of needless ornamentation to the brass blessed transmissions and switched out musical cogitations this is tepid gentleness with a point to take note of.  An execution well granted by a band in their own comfort zone.  

'Dictator' is a pertinent song in today's on-line world of political advisers and social commentators.  You know the ones, those who like to come across as holier than thou and who are self-appointed commanders of a hidden script scrawled by God-like hands.  A guitar flicker bends, a bass pootles with weight and the drums splash and bounce beneath the tranquil she-tones with a resolute belief built on nothing less than cultured gentleness.  We have a mockery of the mass manipulation that many claim to have avoided but in reality are grasped quite firmly by and who are duly kept under the cosh.  The only freedom you can hope for is your mental freedom but to believe you are mentally liberated is the ultimate state the controller's want - it sounds a paradox, but it isn't, think on.  This is a nice trickle of harvested escapism and the band play the texturised angle just right.  For me the song is outdone though by the gem that is 'Pink Knickers', an anti-fascist/right wing stab in the eye of the halfwits who bowl their balls of bullshit judgement and try to take down our wickets of decency with waywardly aimed arguments of idiocy.  The jaunty lift blended with the spite make this a sweet and sour combo to jig along to whilst taking pride in your anti-prejudice stance.  Dance, play louder with each spin...fuck the haters.

We close this 4 track tickle-tease with 'Hide 17', a loose funk-o-delic shuffle hustle that blends trifling components of that which has passed and filters through a meshwork of the most commercialising arrangement thus far.  Again only the barest application is donated by each component but what we get is a fairly complete sound that has a smooth, finalised liquidity that will not cause offence or irritate nervous souls. It is played mightily well and although I grade this as the limp nob in a pack of god trembling members it will meet the needs of the many. Tis just lacking a little colour for me, but there ya go, each to his, or her, own.

And again JSE prove their adeptness and ability to compose a darn good toon.  Thinking, thoughtful and thoroughly convincing this lot make a nice change from many cacophonic kerfuffles that come my way. 

   

THE DARTS - ME.OW

From 2016 these fruity arrers were chucked my way and after one review so far, that tickled my todge of tonality, I was expecting this latest release to perhaps get somewhere near a decent bulls-eye.  The style is underwashed, murked up with garage-based spillage and delivered in a cool cat manner that claws at the attention.  The release is via Dirty Water Records, which in itself signifies a certain degree of success.  I remain unaffected though and swing in...neutralised.

First up and the carousel creep B-movie with spirals aplenty known as 'The Cat's Me-Ow'.  This 'brush past the ankles' moment of acoustic darkness sends a shiver up the spine and raises many a goosebump of erotic pleasure with its caressing, prowling attitude and persistent gyroscopic elevation that really is nothing more than fairground simplicity.  I hop on, am sent reeling with the swirling under-produced mental miasma donated my way - it is a steady start filled with promise.  'Gonna Make You Love Me' is a gloopy follow-up that boa-constricts its own musical framework a little too repetitively and whinges from cavernous realms a little too suffocated.  With the toxic smog a rhythmic piece of work is striving for greater exposure but the cloying gases of hindering thickness make this a hard trial to get through.  The running time flows well over the 4 minute barrier which is hardly conducive to the favour of a spiked bastard.  Not bad, but not a classic methinks.

3rd up and 'Strange Days' induces visions of Magazined lilts that saw both sides shot.  The vixen at the helm here slinks and dinks atop a swampy serenade of foul detritus where horror tones blend with general deviant overspills from a cloying production room floor awash with second thoughts.  The band find the rhythmic road they want to take and ride along with invested decadency - it has a certain charm.  'Not My Baby' is more lullaby in effect and extends its overall lilt via a period of 3 minutes and 30 seconds during which we are groomed and baboomed via bass wank vibe attack and guitar twinge that is overcoated with yet more pseudo-sultry and terror-keyed mesmerism some may find a trifle too much. There is an unsettling affect to the leakage, a quag-clog disease running into the framework of the flow and this, in some respects, hinders the pleasure factor.  My least favoured moment thus far!

'Slay' is erotic slinking with a tight clad arse undulating with hypnotic affect.  The she-grooms that drip from strawberry red lips glisten with juices untold and the eyes of the song give insight into slow smoking souls obsessed with grinding the listener to their weakened knees before sliding in for the kill.  The sleaze and squeeze of this number both indulge in a copulating cycle that ensnares the basest instincts of man - prepare for an unholy seduction. 'Get Messy' is impish mischief played out by cheeky kittens in a noise factory of fun were they tear up the rules, shake their sassy asses and tempt us to plunge in and get all roughed up and dirty.  It is a joyous uplift and takes the CD down a new pathway - never a bad thing!   From here we spiral with steadiness with a song scratched down as 'Don't Freak Me Out'.  This is a number with two distinct modes of operation, one swirling with freedom and relying on a blatant pulse regulation whilst the other walks through fields of glue and hinders matters whilst striving to combine a contrast factor.  I juggle the two styles, one I like, the other I find to glutinous for its own good.  I come up with a verdict that sways on the line of indecision and, dependent on what mood I am in, will give you a fickle decision.  A solid grit grind next is slightly tempered by a key whine that interferes with the riff and roll hook that snags the senses.  The siren comes and provides slinky and teasing vocals with the guitar work getting further submerged.  I think the band have missed a trick here, a chance to go back to more basic operations and throw a small spanner in the works.  'The Generator' is still an alive and kicking tune, absorbs itself in the foaming excitement generated and takes on a good flamboyant strain of sonic wealth whilst saturating all areas with good vibromatic action - a definite grower and one to play with the volume nob at level 'max'.

Into the back 4, and for your untold pleasure I'll finish up with some hard, quick thrusts and ejaculate my final summing up in double quick time.  I plunge in and take 'I Made A Wish' up the sonic rear and ride the grinding bass trembles and enjoy the slow sex quiver emanated by a band who are increasingly sleazing things up.  This songs gets more revealing by the spin, I tag this as a grower, watch your genitals folks. 'Caught In The Devil's Game', is a murky mover, humps and pumps beneath heavy sheets of perspiration inducing density and only those willing to sweat things out will survive and make a fair opinion.  Keys cascade over attentive flesh, tremulations rise like orgasmic shockwaves whilst all the while the many muscles of melody move with incessant need and a perpetual overwhelming want.  It is a heavy session, if you are in a lightweight mood it will perhaps disgust, if you are feeling ready to rock it may stir some deep sensations - dip in and take your chances.   'You'll Bring Me Flowers' roams fish tank depths were plastercast Neptunes proudly sit (dirty bastards) and bottom feeders prowl in the hope of picking up some discordant dross.  The lazy, syrupy flow of this melodic mover is far from attractive and as a mere tadpole who is requested to assess many tunes I make sure honesty dictates.  As a result I am clearly stating that I don't like this one simply because it is too slow for such a late stage, crawls on bended knees a little too ponderously and although sultrified, it fails to generate any pecker based positivity - it is an occurrence I can't shy away from.  The closure is scuzz fuck bilge water played, it seems, in a ramshackle shithole and done on the cheapest recording equipment possible.  'Batteries' may be DIY and stunningly lo-fi but it is nothing more than a waste of good time and is a foul full-stop at the end of an interesting sonic statement - I do wonder sometimes.

The Darts have their style,  they slap it down with consistency and here maintain one under-stated drift that in parts catches the eye, in others tickles the gutterfucker senses and just now and again fails to hit the spot.  Overall I reckon this is a fair CD but work needs to be done on the next offering with a greater variation thrown in and a few odd moments that expose other facets to the bands ability.  As per though, it is the bands call on whatever they do and those happily drowning in the dirty world of psyched up garage will undoubtedly find something to love - any why the hell shouldn't they?

   

THE STRAYS - EXPLICIT CONTENT

An electro duo who have a very corrosive edge and acidic verbals running through their highly fused and digitally abused soundscape that I for one find quite intriguing.  Anything and everything that takes me away from the usual guitars, gob and sticks is welcome and if good or crud I go in and relish the opportunity to send the lugs AWOL.  I see the band are from the North-West of England, no wonder they have much irritation, good on em'.

The 7 track cough-up begins with 'Johnny Mnemonic', a greasy smooth lubed-up, wired-in account that instantly grabs the aural receptors and sets them to level 'interested'.  I play over and stick my fingers into the exposed cables of the song.  The electro-shocks that come shake my member, I spasm and spunk with sparked animation and those cold, pulsing regulations that are escorted with 'no airs and graces' verbals are spot on the mark and borne from the gutter where reality rules.  Pissing on the head of the capitalists and the coin chasing cunts who are bringing corruption to each and every level this acute cross-wired song is a fine delight and, as it buzzes along, so do I.  'Don't Mither Me', peeps in, finds a regulated rhythm and then opts for an odd spaced out angularity that comes along airwaves of bizarre bouncing from depths...unknown.  The machined approach has strains of anarchic liberation and the observations of life's shittery brought forth on tones of 21st century minimalism is quite eccentric and captivating.  I like this style and, as an opposing flavour in a multifarious mish-mash of melodies, it is a welcome inclusion. A detergent drenched ditty with a 'Larry Grayson' expulsion I may not be alone in misreading ha, ha.

'Immaculate' is a very polished and sub-80's drop-back to gilded musical lilts that flows on synthed rivulets and ornate overtones that were just too clean for some.  There is a juxtaposition of that which is old romantic and punk which, in itself, is a confounded mismatch to dwell upon.  The band know their style, I think they find the greatest success here and bring to the table that which was, which is and, which may well be.  Many layers in a seemingly naked noise fest, I reckon you will enjoy peeling this one.  'All Gone Wrong' has almost cathedral tones to its opening poppishness that continues throughout the ditty and brings a pleasure sensation that opposes the matter-of-fact wordery.  It is a uplifting song that combines two strains of sonic goodness that results in a quite individual sound.  This song, more than any other, has me asking the question - 'I wonder what these guys are like in the 'live' pit' -  I best get me bike out!

'Wind Your Neck In' is a necessary offering at this stage and brings a harder, more forthright edge to proceedings with a boldly vulgar repeat beat that commands you take stock and fuckin' calm down.  It is straightforward, informs the stupid to fuckin' accept the self-created shit and is of such a snagging style that it becomes almost a tuned catchphrase. There is nothing subtle in the song, it is a blatant throb command but it is done with such fluidity and conviction you can't help but be involved.  I think my punk streak helps here.  'TV Dinner' is a foot through the idiot box that drains life, that square box of magic that waggles its digital wand and mesmerises your entire being and fills it with utter propagandist crap.  A fritzing frazzle of mind-hammering raving is happening whilst the sedated spud on the sofa gets physically bigger and mentally smaller.  The band rattle along and move the lyrical content with perhaps the greatest liquidity to date.  The back buzz is persistent, the life comes  via the disgruntlement that appears fed up with the processed piss squirted every minute of every fuckin' day.  A strong inclusion and tempered, contradicted and thrown sideways by the modernist finale of 'Death In The Viper Room'.  A commercialised run through that smacks of chartist dilution and clean-cut operating to please the masses and, although not for me, it exposes the fact that, if need be, the band have many ways in which they can turn.  A very polished offering that upsets the flow in true awkward style - I may not appreciate the tune but I appreciate the sentiment - make of that what you will.

Very intriguing this CD is, an affair that is stripped down, rebuilt, computerised and of a generic style that is rarely encountered.  It has many choice and praisable aspects and, if I care to overlook the final offender (in my Fungalised opinion), then I must surely catch up with this lot and have a gander at their donations.  It may be completely shite, it may be, as I suspect, very rewarding, I shall make note and try and squeeze in an 'in the flesh encounter'.  The question is - have I enthused you enough to do the same?

   

COLIN'S GODSON - IN SILICON HEAVEN

Red alert, red alert - syntax error - Colin's Godson are back and here they throw away any semblance they may have had to anything routinely punk and rely on keyed and synthed sensations to produce another one of their highly listenable CD's that are gloriously thematic and keep one utterly enthralled throughout.  With all tones sugar-dipped, lightly grilled and flown on thermals of delicate radiation the crew who create certainly do so with lofted erudition and sharp discernment into what the end product should actually be.

A recap from where we were - a lovely head refresher that floats us back into the zone where we should ruddy well be pleased to be.  Alas the fact remains this is the last blast from this outfit and the digital state of play is a farewell, a shutdown, a sad adios to those that have be lucky enough to follow the journey thus far.  The 'Prologue' comes and goes and we enter the soothing serenade of '(Theme From) Colin's Godson in Silicone Heaven', a fact facing lyrical drift that puts across a disillusionment and achievement all wrapped in one fluffed and manipulated blanket of controlled honesty.  The request to let the music flow is heeded and as synths pulse and a shimmer factor arses we are plunged into sonic spheres of escaping delight.  The poignancy of the situation ascends through the melody, it is everyone's loss, what more can I say.  This sweet opening song re-programs itself on a pong assisted, 80's bumping bubble twitch and soon proclaims the innocent joys of that long lost pixelated news phenomena 'Teletext'.  What a great homage to what was a primitive and somewhat wank news service that many were mesmerised by.  This tune is a delight and done with such exactness whilst portraying a naive innocence and a feeling of being on the pulse that, all these years later, is quite comical.  The crew who are pressing the digitised buttons at the helm of the sonic ship offer up light and lucid vocals and a synthoid underscore relative to a certain not easily forgotten time - quite lovely.  The eye over the shoulder keeps looking backward with the mis-firing function of 'ZX81', a song that deals with a cheapo computer that warped minds and had such playability to keep long term dole-ites and mental idlers...immersed.  Jet Set Willy gets a mention, what a guy he was and so many rooms to discover and oh what fits he caused - I busted some joysticks because of that bastard.  I suppose the nostalgic strains of the song do help matters and anyone with a long term digitised streak will be taken.  From the weak pulsar blasts through the slow-wired trudge via the total delight remembered, I am bang in the groove with this and a hint of sadness pervades my framework as I look back at a time that was so unmolested and quite simply unaffected.  Escapism in its simplest form - magical.  'The Amstrad Champion' is more ironed out and brings back days when I played on the faithful Amstrad CPC464 and used to read the mag Amstrad Action.  Days were wasted with one memorable session taking 21 hours with a mate who became totally obsessed with 'Footballer of the Year'.  This quick jaunt is of a Del-Boy entrepreneur which I find rather sour rather than as sweet as the name suggests.  This is an easy jaunt though and continues the lovely thread set.  It is good to know other wasters are out there!

Next, and after a proclamation from the bald wrinkly of 'Altered Beast', we head into the choice dish of 'Laser Quest 200'.  Forgive another digression but if memory serves right, me and my mate, whilst on our way to Fruit Machine Heaven, used to call into a video arcade in the murky town of Ince near Wigan called 'Laser Quest' where we would indulged in some sci-fi action for the mere flip of a 10p coin.  We were 2 scruffy punks who used to walk everywhere just to save each coin for a game or a reel spin - stupid perhaps, good sense I thought.  The song here is fluffed up, pie-eyed nostalgia trip that captures what it sets out to do – a feeling when things were less complicated. The wishful thinking is accompanied by music that culminates in an inter-stellar finale when pulsar bursts, laser beams and a Pac-Man dissolve all fill the head with magic.  Nice!  'Johnny Dean's Britpop Sodastream Machine' flies over my head as does ''Nokia 3310', 2 elements of the past that made not the slightest difference to my lifestyle.  Britpop was a wank con, I still don't own a mobile phone, I am at a loss here. The tunes are as expected although the first is a weak fleeting runt that I don't take to at all but the second has an angle that even non-dialling defiants like myself can snigger at due to technology being so easily put in the bin of 'out of date/defunct'.  Is there any point in trying to keep up?  I like the sonic shadings of the second drift - the CG crew do this kind of shizzle so darn well.

'(Stuck In A World Of) Warcraft' is played by a minstrel immersed and is a medieval jaunt that relates a tale of real-time computer adventure games were reality is exchanged for fantasy and many lines are blurred.  One can see the narrator here (William Evans) sat at his computer desk waiting for the next level to load whilst pondering the seduction of the next Maid Marian and the killing a few Orcs.  I never indulged in this soul-sucking franchise but I can relate to the submersion in digital depths that take up every waking hour - 'Sensible Soccer' was such an obsession.  I like the in-scene drift here, the embracing tones of 'other world' realms and feel a trifle sympathetic to a goon gone AWOL (and good on him).  'SciFiHiFiWiFi' causes my arthritic fingers to be tied in knots whilst typing in the name  but gives the lugs a pleasure trip into a techno twats world of wire weaving and spark inducing madness.  The world is plugged in but tuned out, so much so-called progression leading to mental regression - I do despair.  The tuned in description of a cretin lost is neatly done in double quick time and on a pond of tonality that eases the weight of the updating pressure.  'Twitterbot' sees the band go through delightful motions with their easy gestures and synthoid nuances.  They glide on smooth elements and pulsate with massaging majesty and nowhere within the tune do we find ourselves ravaged - there is a lot to be said for computerised constructions that avoid the strict 4 member/string/sticks/gob structure of the general melodic mass we suck on.  Colin's Godson are always a welcome blessing.

We close on a sad moment, a pimple on the arse of time that signifies the end of an era many have never been aware of.  Tis par for the course in a mire that is saturated and passing all too quickly.  'Built In Obsolescence' comes forth, floats with languid acceptance and owns up to a state of play that may be hard to swallow but is indeed the way things are.  The finale is gracious and played with vocals flying high and backed by those that stay low and so create compliment that kind of sums up a thinking that is perhaps still totally undecided (he says hopefully).  From hopes and dreams reality comes but pride in the fact that one has done, done in one's own way and defied the flow is more meritous than being happy by taking part in a game that is a trifle bent.  I love and loathe this one, the latter sensation brought about because the full stop means no more CG pleasure for this enthused git - hey ho, let’s go against the flow.

There you are, have you missed the train and failed to enjoy one great voyage that has covered many realms in many, many ways - then I pity you.  Colin's Godson have been kind to ye olde Fungal one and allowed me to review 8 of their releases over several years.  What difference it makes is anyone's guess and as we all sink in the shittery I repeat my firm and resolute belief - do not do for popularity and do not do in the hope of winning favour but do because you believe, do in your own way and do with good faith - if that brings so-called success or what many deem failure then so what - the doing is the key, far better than taking, mimicking and parasitizing - which goes on way too much in every walk of life for my liking.  So, Colin's Godson I salute thee and thanks for the memories that I will rekindle over and over again - ta!

   

THE POP PIGS - ENGLISH SUMMER

The Pop Pigs aren't a punk band, they aren't a rock band, they aren't a commercialised affair ticking any generic boxes - well that is what I think anyway.  When I saw these last year they struck me as a bunch of musically cultured blokes knocking out a good erudite pub rock vibe laden with fine attention and many appealing tones that really zested my undercarriage and sent a tingle of interest rising from sonic sprouts that are always happy to have a jiggle.  I received this CD and then somehow mislaid it, much to my own disgruntlement.  Having relocated the disk I am now ready to roll a review, it goes like this.

'The Arms Of An Angel' is a 'Class A' quality start with cool wafts of wire work operating marvellously alongside a tumble roll of skin.  The subtle threat composed by these elements is gratifyingly laid over with vocals completely sangfroid and cucumber cool.  The tonality and purposefully understated score of sonic sweetness is dealt with a mix of professional accents and as the song progresses one is led by the hand into pastures of thermally embracing pleasure.  There is an intricate esprit running through the open capillaries of this effort with the veins strongly pumping and the arteries overflowing but in a non-too vulgar way - I am instantly taken.  'A Different Point Of View' finds its own bassed vibe at once, adds simple and spartan guitar strums and skip and scatter drums along with a careful and considerate oral touch that completes a verse of  tentative appeal.  A masterstroke of contrast comes with this hesitant kissed segment blessed over with a chorus of gentle and mightily effective relief, the melodic and emotive curve from one section to the next is absolutely spot on the mark.  A frictionless serenity is etched onto the sound surface with tidy and unshaking hands - I am carving my own verdict - smashing! Crystal water cascades come next amid a song that exposes heartfelt anguish, appeal and need.  The delicate opening is nibbled at by the careful tonal teeth of the opening verse that eventually leads into a digesting period that ponders a few of life's deflating moments.  The emphasis on lucidity and an assiduous placement of each and every tonal touch is impressive and I am flying a flag of hat-tricked success here as I consider this the third fine song in a row.  I hope for a quartet of gentle acoustic assassins and get granted my wish with the slow piercing dagger blade of 'Celebrate My Mistake' thrusting home into my attentive membrane and leaving a scar as good as those already received.  Again somewhat shy and stripped down chorus methods counter attack against the more imposed and musically clad chorus chunks that blow blessed zephyrs of pure, clean cut persuasion.  The opening sunshine twinkles could lead one astray and they do indeed cultivate hope in a song that is void of answers and floats along on a cloud of considering confusion.  The drift out of a carefree whistle is exacting of the mood and this is another caressing gem that invokes good inner vibrations.

'Paper Cut' is a serious mover with a cymbal assisted film-noir sinisterism that walks pondering back alleys of night-time threat and comes out into neon lit vistas with moments of sub-eureka incandescence.  The band move with an assured control at a pace that is steady, utterly reliable and easy to follow in the tracks of.  The atmosphere setting skill is somewhat sublime and as I hitch up my collar and stand in a sheltered doorway from the dampened sonics that escort the scene set I feel completely...convinced.  What a quite solid CD thus far and one that gets the job done without blowing doors off hinges, without ramming the content down your gullet and without being musically vulgar - it is a zephyr of fresh air!

I move on, I take hold of the next 3 and add a touch of quickening spice.

'Outside' is a carefree shuffle push of curious elements that sees the band easily wander through talented motions of natural creativity and precise note placement oiled through with the usual understated flair.  'Stand Fast' is a wondrous swirl of simmering intensity with a strong foundation of undeniable belief that will not be shaken loose.  The rising moments cement the stance, the firm flush of escaping wings that soar with sensational freedom towards the last is a counterbalance to be marvelled at and the players are certainly on a roll here and exposing the abundant gifts of another underdog band not getting a good crack of the whip.  Just get up here, ascend to the message, roll with the textures, enjoy the blessing of music played with erudite thought and skip to that inner delight that lifts the spirits no end.  'Deja Vu Blues' shimmers in, finds grit, rolls through mists and tightens its plucking and fucking fists and blossoms with an irritation deep rooted and a lilt mean suited.  The drive here is suggestive, hinting and insidiously darkened - a prowling number that just changes the tack of the CD oh so stylishly.  The fact is each and every song doesn't reach out and grab you but, if one perseveres and puts in the time, a growing grip is had and we are soon entrapped in musical muscles that squeeze out due respect - it feels good.

The last gasp is here, I breathe out with effort and prepare for 'After A Moment'.  Soft sanded footsteps of sound sidle down a corridor of adventure were one expects to meet...uplift.  The thermals never come and the band opt to maintain the stealth mode and operate beneath true solar layers and stick to shadowy recesses.  The odd glimpse of light is had, a smiling moment is captured, a solitary verdant patch in an oasis of desolation - a quite tepid song but done with a consistent belief that adds crucial weight. Not my favourite but not a grey slab of shit either - the band have a certain majesty even when crawling on bended knees.  We finish the CD with 'Falling Through', a slightly more animated number that relies on twilight guitar glistens, coffee-table strums, lightly smoked vocals and an underlying bass that remains throbbed.  I detect a subtle strangulation blended with something Banshee-esque but hey, my mind is too soaked through with noise so make of that what you will, I am sure some of you are on the same page.  The song ends like it began, we do indeed fall through...into silence.

I am requested to review a whole heap of CD's each and every year and the task in some ways gets easier but in many gets harder.  What is good, what is bad, what is different, what is more of fuckin' same are all areas that go under the spotlight and are mixed up with a good lashing of patience, honesty and I hope...accuracy.  This I rate as an 80% positive plus CD (if not more) and has many exhibiting moments that show a band who are adept in their art.  I am looking forward to catching this crew again and enjoying some very professional vibes - ooh me punk status, whatever will people think (silly cunts).

   

CASSELS - EPITHET

Yes Cassels, you heard me right and, if like me, you are wondering who the fuck are Cassels, then I hope you stick with this review and see if between us we can create something akin to enlightenment.  The band are a 2-piece, 2 brothers in fact and their noise is...ah well, that would be telling.  Allow me to reveal acoustic inch by acoustic inch and introduce you with considerate ease.  

We commence the noise-laden bastard known as 'Coup'.  Rain drop tympanics, hesitant guitars, ascension.  A murky movement comes and pervades the atmosphere with understated prowess.  Technically fidgety and cloying before clearing its own acoustic lungs and revving up into a section that is stripped bare, questioning and...contrasting.  Poetical thinking, ad hoc sprinkling - this is streetwise dustbin lid honesty played out with a naturalness that suggests a punked spirit, a leaning towards things pseudo-'w'rapped and a modern day take on matters somewhat overlooked in the main.  Not my bag but something tells me there is good creativity happening - this is never a bad thing.  'Let' stumbles in many confused ways, has a degree of angst and stops and starts like a troubled and thinking runt that never really finds its feet. Sketchy and scathing, tetchy and raving but...all the while lacking true grease in the grinding gears.  I can see the artistry and applaud the angularity but something here just doesn't nestle into my lap of pleasing noise - nowt new there then.

'War' is cucumber cool and timid at the same time, a paradox incarnate and throwing itself into sub-fits of fidgeted dissatisfaction with many slopes and slants of sonic awkwardness clobbered this way and that.  A confusion arises, a fucked maelstrom that tosses the senses before leaving one wondering what the fuck transpired.  Ad-libbery and jazz combine, is this Jibbery then, it surely is something!  'Where Baseball Was Invented' rolls in through shit-clogged speakers, has a reeking pseudo-rhythm with rescuing poetical lyrics that digit nails the fucks, the out of lucks and the downright irritating.  The patchwork put-down placement of words snatched is all very well and challenging but will many listeners have enough gears in their rears to shift to mode 'attention'.  Not in my sphere sir, and so, I do wonder where this will go down well and find heads ready to be turned.  Fuck knows!

'You Turn On Utopia', 'Sepia Good Times' and 'This Song Has A' are a ménage de trois of humping trouble that follows a pattern set but then steps outside that pattern  which really doesn't exist in the first place - if you follow my meaning (or not as the case may be).  Jangled ad-libbed poetry still comes, each statement snatched from a headbox of jumbled thoughts and suggestions that fall forth via acoustic earthquakes of unpredictable seismic accents.  From the sharp angled, to mellow switch outs, from pseudo-phone messages of sinister threat to escapism gone AWOL and all the while the crew keep the distinctive tones and alley-walking wiseness that will put them in good stead on many generic levels.  I carry on, this is no easy task.

'Motor Skills' is a troubled thought process played out over the lightest tonal touches and moves with a tight care taken and a self-doubt prevalent throughout those initial outpourings.  Jabs of certainty come via noisy thrusts with hollers of defeatism invading the hope and making for a slow-simmered melting pot of double-minded deliberation.  An odd one for sure this and into the last we go, an initially slow trudge flying under the limp winded flag known as 'Chewed Up Cheeks'.  This is a moment when more of the same cements that what has already been laid down and will undoubtedly please those with much time on their mitts and willing to decipher the cobwebbed and the interwoven interplay - good on em'.  I find this one a footstep too far into the out of bounds pastures of my patience and so, as a result, turn the thumb downward, perhaps cruelly so.

I am signing off, have I done my job, have I hit the right spot?  Sometimes one tackles tunery, remains honest and still has questions at the end.  I, as happens quite often, am outside the generic house looking through the window wondering what to make of it all.  If you have stuck with me so far - I thank you and let you decide whether having a further nosey is worth your while.

   

TV EYE - 1977 - 1978

Brummie dabblers TV Eye cough up a mix of hidden gems on a CD that is lo-fi, under-stated and, most frustratingly, under the fuckin' radar. This limited vinyl release of 300 comes out on Seventeen Records and hopes to bring the vibes to a wider audience and get due recognition. I have been ask for a review, I can only do my honest bit and not be swayed by suggestion and promotional literature - it is a friggin' hard task and one not for the faint of ticker.  I plunge in, as keen as ever and as transparent as possible.

The rotations begin and resonating through the speakers are the vibromatics shakings of 'Repartee', a very diluted and washed out old school vibe that appeals to bones long shook by such under-nourished noise.  If one elevated oneself to a dais of dictating, didactic ego education that proclaimed to have an advanced insight into musical intricacies then one could pompously point the finger and claim this to be a too basic offering to be of any value - but then one can easily be a cunt if one so chooses, cripes there are a lot of them about.  If one prefers to stay natural and go with the gut flow then one will easily recognise a product that contains the unflustered, unaffected bare balls of music many of us grew up on.  A very honesty, grubby and...appealing song, fuck you if you disagree, I can't help what is in the blood.  The follow up known as 'Steve’s Radio Station' is a sweet alteration and is, for me at least, a better song with a wonderful creep and peep start that ascends with care and grooms the listener into a sense of easy acceptance. The first oral utterances are multi-faceted with cross the pond/bridge generic overflows that gratify many aspects of the sonic soul.  There is a complete affable and approachable lilt to this second affair and with the cool and controlled spartan application the players so considerately donate I am finding this a real subtle classic.  Ruddy nice work.

Third in, 'Citizen', a ramshackle carriage of sound trundling along on a humpety-rumpety track that is liable to see the whole chassis of sound fall clear and leave the inner workings vulgarly exposed.  The bass is the adhesive that keeps the players within their sonic seats, suggestions of something 'Dog Slaughtered' is had and a certain pissed up countrification this way comes.  I class this as an odd one that has something to appeal, something to offend - a clutterbucket for sure.  'Dreaming Of Your Cars' has its head down, gear stick stuck in the right place (ooh me arse) and has a retro cruddiness we could certainly do with more of.  A simple formula souped up with diesel of desire and running along a rhythmic roadway littered to fuck and without any true direction.  The band have a slag garage style on show here, a dirty element is plumed from the exhaust pipe and as I cough and splutter in the wake of the melody I feel semi-thrilled. Again, this shit is ingrained in the marrow - apologies I have none.

'Let Me Win' drags on a little but this doesn't detract from a beautiful shoddiness and low-slung disaffection that shimmers from the crack of the arse of this slinky number.  It is a number loaded with desperation, it comes from a cavern of need and eventually the troubled mental framework spills over and becomes a screaming tantrumised exposure of a mind on the brink.  We have a mini musical interlude blown out under the name of 'Chainsmoking' before we are back into the same track, this time polluted through with a clubhouse feel where retro'ed parodoxed hippy punks swirl under colliding colours of liquid plasma.  A murky trawl dripping with character and completing a psychedelic inner slab of sound.

From the substrate of sound rise 'Roses', of rhythm, a bunch of sonic flavours erupting from a cloying compost heap of cacophonic arrangement that makes for a coloured end product that...stinks.  A combination dwellers of the shitheap will wallow in but a stench many will run away from and seek solace in more hygenic tunery - silly bastards.  This is a cruddy affair though and even I have to admit that only the most ardent hooters will sniff success here - you have been warned.  Next and 'Repartee (rehearsal version)' is as the first song only without any polish whatsoever - make of that what you will.  I skip on rather than offer repetition.  'When You're Gone' and 'Cry-Cry To You' are perhaps too slack for their own good and swim in a sonic pool without patterned waves and rising bubbles of buoyancy, thus allowing themselves to be sunk with barely a trace. Both tracks are guilty of  prolonging their dips in the discordant waters and swimming like tadpoles without a tail - no direction and in a haphazard fashion.  The chorus moments add shimmer and assistance but these are tough melodic muds to crawl through and I am splashing like a frenzied fish to try and salvage some positive uplift - I fail.

'Kites' crawls from all angles on blues'ed, substance abused accents that take some time to actually get going and when they indeed do they are kept murked over by a reckless studio production that fouls the air.  The band are detached, caught up in their own nasty weavings and reach a stage where even the self-indulgence becomes a little too much for this old git.  I can appreciate the true rock and roll absorption and even though I rate this one quite lowly I ain't giving up the ghost.  'Citizen (rehearsal version)' and 'Stevie's Radio Station (rehearsal version) are both roughshod doppelgangers of the previous songs and why they are included here is beyond me - padding perhaps or one for the perverted fan with an autistic streak to hear and collect all versions.  For me they mar good flavours encountered and my advice is to never lick a turd after eating a cream cake.

An interesting mix with many facets semi-polished and scratched to fuck.  Somewhere along the way we have lost this side to sonica and the punk scene especially has perhaps become too clean-cut for its own moral good.  There is a place for this mucky music and despite my criticisms within the assessment I feel blessed to have dabbled.  Look, you either get it or you don't - all I can do is my hard shitted bit, take it or fuckin' leave it!

 

RED MOUNTAINS - SLOW WANDER

The first of a serious batch of CD's that come from the nether-regions of who knows where and created by soundmasters I have very little familiarity with - I fuckin' love it that way.  Here we have some Norwegian stoners plying their heavy duty trade with the expected intensity and unforgiving noise laden sludgery that is of a very specific ilk some hopeless souls are fascinated by.  Hey man, each to their own and I hope with sincerity that I can tackle this with honesty, neutrality and something akin to accuracy.

Track the first and second, a brace of 5 minute testers known as 'Home' and 'Rat King', both efforts being slow machine-drill grinds that rotate in a deliberate fashion and stay at one flatline level without thought of offering contrast.  The cacophonic clouds blown our way are dense, overpowering and hold back any rhythmic rain I so desperately pang for.  Both escapades are drawn out threats, they stick to a tight regime and fail to rise from a self-made morass of soul sucking sonica that only the stoned in, toned out purist will adore.  From here I flick on and pray to the Heavens that needles will fall and a pace injection will follow.  To counterbalance my irritated critique both tracks are mixed mightily well and expose much production room insight - I can't be fairer than that!

'Oak' is a sub-dramatic swish of many soft-blown limbs that swing with a certain majesty and considered grace but which fail to sway hard enough so as to drop attracting leaves for the listener to fall back into.  The musical massage that occurs is highly thoughtful though and kneads muscular tension away with majestic professionalism that won't be rushed, will not be forced and is confident in its laboured pace.  I am still slightly knotted and want some speed play - oh darn it!  'Endless Oceans' is an unrushed stretch of ever-distancing waters that initially fights the tidal flow but soon submits and gets buoyed along on liquids of elaboration and indulgence.  I could opt for the same style and make my assessment long and overly-scrutinising - I won't, I'll simply say this one gets on me tits and is mere background music and nothing more.  Harsh but it is the feelings that arise.

'Stone', 'Fog', 'Cellar Door' and 'Acid Wedding' are all under the umbrella of creeping malevolence with a dragging and snagging affect refusing to let all tracks run off the leash.  The first is darn hard work and seemingly a languid, flagging fuck that examines the listener’s patience.  The second offering is more of the same and has deadened tonality that immobilizes any positivity in the reaction and drags one into doldrums of strife.  I scrape along and enter the third of the batch and am met by the same noise.  This is very throw-back rock, one for those partially Zepped methinks, it does bring thoughts of those retro times when long haired gits got their fix with big stage, big sound showcases - which in turn gets me thinking as to how this crew would go down in that kind of Hippy/Festival environment - very well I reckon. Last of this fleet-footed, quickly gutted four is strummed and sedate at first before adding pebble-dashed throat action and some exhibition string manipulation amid a staggering wallop of sound. Again the rocked up and raring to go will get this, the spiked and short attention spanned pogoers won't - I am merely wandering my own path.

We bring down the final veil with 'Returning', an inclusion that starts with authority, boa-constricts with assured regularity and this, although perhaps the most orthodox song a with the most regulated rhythm, is where Red Mountains find their most convincing feet.  It is a firm eruption and the inner tranquillity enhances the surrounding glow with tepid grace and I am finding this aspect, along with the straight-ahead flow and appealing clarity, make this a final full stop to enjoy - a nice surprise.

A hard task for me this one but, as ever, I have stuck at it.  I can't say I will be rushing out and watching this lot and I can't say I will ever be a fan but what I can say is the band are adept in their art, create a dense and saturated sound and are in a groove where many stalwarts of the genre survive.  I like to investigate all musical layers, it fascinates me as to what transpires on many levels and along the way it keeps the noggin...ticking.  Important that for all and sundry, so think on!

 

WELLS VALLEY - THE ORPHIC

From Lisbon, Portugal, Wells Valley procreate under skies of sludgy exploration and fuck themselves useless with poison tipped vibrators of avant-garde mockery and sludge-shit gloominess.  The band ply their trade with a leaning towards scorched-earth outflowings and an Armageddon style hardcore that blitzes hard and leaves one in no doubt as to the path which the three protagonists are taking.  Brutal, considerate and dealing with varied subject matter I go in as a virgin to the altar and await the first plunge of the acoustic dagger into my lily white, unblemished gut.

Nooooooooo!

'Annunciation' calls upon the Heavens to pour sable blessing on souls already lost and what transpires is tantamount to nothing short of a raping curse that fucks all and sundry who dare impede the flow of the death storm.  A very slow and deliberate penetration of the senses manifests itself from deep etched vistas that display aerial messages of doom.  The future does not look rosy, the melodic message is tattooed deep with sub-textual sinisterism that never truly reveals its underhand intent.  I re-spin, reinvest my cerebral matter and come up with a verdict of complete indifference.  This is music for the immersed, a soundtrack for the deeply indulgent who want time out to eavesdrop, to contemplate...to disappear.  Despite the artistry and the highly processed and knowledgeable composition of the track I cannot raise a decent enough erection of positivity - the hormones of honesty dictate as always.

'Ophanim' leaks in on feedback filth before spasm fucking into your personal space with quite vulgar intent.  The Viking roars that come are seemingly borne atop slate grey, verdant free mountains from which one can view a cacophonic chaos unfold.  The bloodshed forms glutinous rivers of reeking metallic nausea with the intensified soundtrack never letting up and adding vindictive thermal spite to an already volatile mix.  A mid-moment of pondering assessment is bass heavy, it feels like wading through treacled excrement, I am almost aching as I type with the strain hitting home - the crew are really bleeding from every orifice and hey, I may be out of sync but I can tip the titfer their way and tell them to keep in their zone and...enjoy the thermals.

'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun' drones in like a plague of vicious wasps hell-bent on mesmerising the mind before swooping for the inevitable kill.  It is a test of ones will as the bass tolls for thy soul and a sincere tension builds.  The mass eventually unfolds, a stealth laden care is had and thrown sideways by a screaming fit of passion that denies the previous sedate sonic aspect.  Rocked moments of big stage grandeur are ejaculated into the puzzling schizophrenic mix and even though this is yet another construction of epic length, all the while we are kept on the edge of our piss-soaked seats.  Is this such a bad thing?

Man, this is hefty stuff, not to be taken lightly and not to be critically kicked because it isn't one's personal bag.  The band are pouring in everything they have got and really kicking up a dust-storm of terrifying intent that must surely win respect from those inside, those outside and those living in fear.  If theatrical and dramatic hardcore horror epics are your thing then find a darkened room, crank up the volume whilst this CD is playing and...have fun in the bloodbath.

 
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