You think me an old fart, I know, and that's OK because I think you're old-fashioned for insisting on listening to The New whilst only bagging The Past as a matter of duty, perhaps, or retro indulgence when, in fact, as I said last, The Old is The New - but - to prove (as if I have to) my ability to Keep Up, I'm keeping to current releases, at least for a few paragraphs.
New recordings amount to DJ tools for me, since I like to blend all sorts of styles for the eager and attentive audience down at Bartok. They clamour for classics such as Terry's In C and Tangerine Dream's Movements Of A Visionary, of course, but I like to drop in the up-to-date too. 'DJ tool' is a derogatory term for something that only works on the 'floor, of course, but being the original visionary that I am, what other DJs would consider too 'weird' is what I reserve for public entertainment. Besides, 'The Invisible Dog', track 1 of Electrelane's debut album, Rock It To The Moon, follows on quite nicely from some Tangerine Dream. It starts with their beloved Farfisa organ in an ambient mood before moving up into a Rock-tastic mode.
The four girls from Brighton are the babes of the media today, but let's face it, without the Farfisa thing going on, they'd sound pretty average. Pretty, and average, but in an early-80s New Wave way which, in the stagnant world of Indie, is more than enough to get them noticed - hey, it's the return of Grrrl Power! I've got to watch what I say about all that because I was once chastised by an EGO-reading grrl for daring to make a joke out of all that. I think I may have lost a reader over that, which only left the other one.
My girl, Jane, said "This sounds old" as soon as the album debuted in the flat. And it does, but you'd have to know a lot more about the old New Wave than me to name the influences, exactly. 'Long Dark' hits a Cramps-type swamp boogie before 'Gabriel' gets into another rockin' riff. 'Film Music', which I have been caning (as us DJs say) at Bartok for most of the year, still sounds like possibly their crowning moment so far. The first half of 'Blue Straggler' is in a similar vein, but halfway through trails into something more restrained, which I like because it displays a tendency towards Prog pomposity.
'Many Peaks' would be much better if they had resisted the compulsive urge to 'rock' since it starts all pastoral, with clarinet, sax and strings, even. I do hope they're not just wannabe Rock Chicks masquerading as thoughtful types with names like Rachel and Emma. What can a girl do in this sordid business? If they create 'gentle' music they're being typically feminine, and if they 'rock' they're trying to be like the boys - huh! Well, I guess little Indie boys will love 'em (in the absence of Justine, they need a new pin-up), and grrls too, so maybe they win after all. By the time 'Le Song' gets going, though, it's obvious that they only know one 'riff', and it gets terribly tedious, so that's that.
Grinning Cat is Susumu Yokota's third album for Leaf, and aside from being perfect Bartok material in that it includes influences ranging from ambient to Steve Reich and modernist beats, I recommend it as home listening if, like me, you won't be playing most of it every week.
© Robin Tomens