Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Geisha - 'Thre' EP (Splatterkore Records, Free Download)

If you take pleasure in extremity, look no further. Geisha used to be one of the UK’s angriest, most intense noise-rock bands. Then their drummer quit and chief conspirator Anton (who I interviewed here) moved to Berlin – a situation that should probably have buried them. Well, nobody expected Geisha to come back with a set of wistful long-distance relationship songs, but ‘Thre’ is the sickest quartet of tunes they’ve ever produced. While the FX-stacked guitars and live drums have been replaced by gabba kicks and red hot synths, there’s no mistaking these punishing breakdowns and tortured off-mic screams for anyone else. They’ve simply found a brand new way of unleashing their beautiful brutality.

Blood Red Sounds rating 8/10

This review originally appeared in Venue.

Grab the EP here. Free download!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Various Artists: Worth The Weight - Bristol Dubstep Classics (Punch Drunk Records)

Like every bass loving resident of Bristol (is there any other kind?), I was gutted to hear that the city's best vinyl shop, Rooted Records, is about to close. It'll be a huge loss to the local scene. Luckily, Rooted's Tom 'Peverelist' Ford is going from strength to strength, and as the head of the fantastic Punch Drunk label he's just released the definitive document of Bristol's bass music scene in the dubstep years. Here's a short review of it I wrote for Venue, and if you ever need to get nostalgic, here's a download link to the great Bristol dubstep documentary 'Living Inside The Speaker', which includes scenes filmed at the shop.

These are vintage years for Bristol bass music, and you won’t find a better overview than 'Worth The Weight'. CD1 mines the thoughtful dubstep we’re known for worldwide, unearthing speakerbox-troubling gems from Appleblim, Headhunter, Jakes and Forsaken. CD2 gives a broader context, drawing a line from the soundsystem skank of Smith & Mighty’s (recently re-issued) classic ‘B-Line Fi Blow’ to the glitchy future garage of Hyetal and Shortstuff.

There’s no filler, but the highlights are Pinch’s scene-defining ‘Qawwali’, Peverelist’s exquisitely poised ‘Roll With The Punches’, and the dizzying MIDI symphonics of Joker’s ‘Stuck In The System’ and Guido’s ‘Orchestral Lab’. For the bass-curious, this is a one-stop education with sleevenotes to match. For committed steppers, it’s a timely recap of a breathlessly evolving scene. It's 100% essential, either way.

Blood Red Sounds rating 9/10

This review originally appeared in Venue.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Godspeed You! Black Emperor & Dead Rat Orchestra, Sunday 12th December @ Anson Rooms, Bristol )

It’s the night of ‘The X-Factor’ final, and a group of lads are yelling “Vote for One Direction!” as they drive past the Anson Rooms. Do they realise we’re waiting for the second coming of the Anti-Cowell? For tonight sees the return of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the world’s most passionately uncommercial rock band.

Inside, Colchester’s Dead Rat Orchestra get things started with a set of folky improv. One bloke plays violin solos, while his two associates fiddle with an oddball collection of whistles, bells, and what appears to be a meat cleaver being sharpened on a length of four-by-two. They’re an eccentric but charming bunch, and the sounds they make are varied enough to keep things interesting.

And so it comes to pass that the venue fills with disciples, and Godspeed return to reign for what, at times, feels like a thousand years. The projected backdrop reads “hope”, although the accompanying din – a black drone overlaid with grey noise – suggests despair. Ten minutes of that, and another ten of chugging space-rock, lead eventually to a money shot in which the band hijack an arabesque melody and – gorgeously – ride it into orbit. That they follow it with a part that sounds like a pompous film soundtrack, and a couple of gratuitous false endings, is a source of no little frustration. Half an hour in, is it unreasonable to suggest the first song might have gone on slightly too long?

It sets a pattern for the rest of the show. Sections of blistering intensity lead nowhere, and exquisite melodies give way to long, treacherous quests for the fourth chord. Sometimes they’re tight as hell. Sometimes they struggle to stay in time. They’re like an eight-piece human aerial, tuning in and out of greatness.

This review originally appeared in Venue.