|I don’t believe in fairy tales, I do believe in stories|
|Do people still make ‘chill out’ records? Do
clubs still have ‘chill out’ rooms? I am so out of touch, I have no idea.
If there were to be a chill out room, however, I would certainly be playing
this The Electricity In Your House Wants to Sing set by I Am Robot
and Proud on Darla. Made by 26 year old Toronto native Shaw-Han Liem, this
is an electronica set full of human heart; a record made from slivers of
glistening sound and mechanised processes that isn’t afraid to show the
torn edges and ragged threads of aural collage. It’s also a record that
understands the value of never outstaying your welcome, which is something
too many would be textural electronica artists miss. None of the tracks
here stretch themselves over the four and a half minute mark, and most
indeed come in around three or under, which believe me is crucial. For
it means that this is truly electronicapop; a record of sweet poise that
smiles beguilingly with melodies that are gently infectious and textures
that both soothe and intrigue in equal measure. The sound of Spring waking
and warming your heart.
Similarly beguiling is the new Lost, Picking Flowers In The Forest album by Black Moth Super Rainbow. Now I’ve long held the view that this bunch of madcap geniuses should be clutched to our collective hearts and given feature length spreads in the likes of Wire. That is hasn’t happened yet simply baffles me, for their sounds have long been the kind of marvellously engaging, experimental Pop music that magazine is so often lauding. This new set sees them pushing their glitches further and breaking up their beats into more fractured and fractious chunks, all the while retaining the squelchy sub-urban psych-funk and warped vocal treatments that have become something of their trademark. Black Moth Super Rainbow make surreal rural 21st Century Folk music for the g-mapped, satellite beaming generation, and you better believe it sounds sublime.
|Also sublime is the Hope Your Wounds Heal album
by Tells on Fire records. Now this came completely out of left field for
me. I have to admit to having no knowledge of the Delicate Awol band from
whose ashes this duo formed, but if this set is anything to go by then
I should certainly do some investigating. For this is an album of rare
beauty, casting its threads back towards the rarified roots of Young Marble
Giants or more precisely the Weekend of ‘Red Planes’ or ‘Nostalgia’. There
is also something of the off beat jazz infected charms of, say, that first
Tortoise album, or Ui, and is certainly a record every bit as rewarding
as anything those groups have made. And in Caroline Ross we have a voice
as sparsely, delicately beautiful and perfectly flawed as any you care
to mention. I can see this album becoming one of those mythical gems spoken
of in hushed tones; a record that will soundtrack numerous summer afternoons
spent lazing on the riverside or soaking up the heat of the city. It’s
already alongside the likes of Colleen’s Everyone Alive Wants Answers on
my shortlist of Must Play records for Summerdays on the lawn.
Stepping up a gear now with The Airfields’ Laneways EP on Humblebee recordings. All jangling, chiming guitars and trembling vocals, this reminds me somewhat of the thrilling brittle Pop charm of early McCarthy, notably on their ‘You’re Alive’, to which it seems to me The Airfields’ lovely ‘Lonely Halls’ cheekily nods. It’s probably one of those cases of other shared reference points and influences creeping in, though; a case of an aesthetic that flows through the ages to be picked up by different generations, each of them interpreting it in their own way, oblivious to the peculiar details of the forgotten histories behind them. Which is as it should be, of course.
Certainly it’s the case with Damn The Lion, who have made some of my most treasured songs of recent weeks in their 1994 EP. Capturing the marvellous charm of the likes of Stars of Heaven and East Village despite having no idea who those artists were, Damn The Lion make a truly infectious Country tinged downbeat minor chord rock full of chiming guitars and soaraway melodies. It’s never better than on the astonishing ‘You Cast No Shadow’ which is in my list of best songs of the year or ever, for this week at least. And you can’t ask for more than that. ‘I don’t believe in fairytales, I do believe in stories’ sings Martin Sörensson, adding that he also believes in happy endings. Well if the story of Damn The Lion were to go as it should, then that happy ending would be seeing Martin’s songs playing from rooftops the world over, their electric charges flowing love and beauty throughout networks of wild hearted outsiders. For now though I’ll make do with taking five of those gems and making the finest damn 3” CD EP you’ll hear this year. Oh, and he’s from Gothenburg and also plays in the similarly god like Shade Tree. Go figure.
Except that of course there are going to be several of the finest damn 3” CD EP’s you’ll hear all year coming out in the next few weeks, and if I can’t publicise that fact here, then where the hell can I? Not least of these will be a collection of sparkling gems from the dazzling Sarianna. You can blame the demon MySpace for this one, though I can’t quite remember how the connection came about. I’m glad it did though, because Sarianna’s songs are beautifully poised gems of urbane Pop that dwell in the same kind of rarefied environment that, in my world at least, includes the likes of Get Lost era Magnetic Fields. Now that’s some mighty, mighty magnificent neighbour to be close to, but one suspects that being close to the presence of inspired brilliance is not unusual; for Sarianna can boast of familial connections to the initial incarnation of the Manhattan Transfer and to one of the first woman lawyer in the USA. So the collision of gritty, earthy ego and creative inspiration seem to be in her genes. It’s certainly all over her songs.
It’s all over Sean Spada’s
songs too, and his Bengal Lights EP is equally delicious. Now, Sean
plays on some of the Sarianna tracks, and his solo efforts conjure thoughts
of an upbeat
Flare. This is bedroom-orchestrated Pop that dreams of huge vistas and hurls
kisses at the moon. Don’t miss it.
© 2006 Alistair Fitchett