Hi folks, back again after a week or two away from the action but I have plenty of new shit to rave about after some time well spent rummaging in the music shelves of cyberspace. First up is Mohn's selt-titled record which I think is their debut - I know nothing about these dudes, they might not even be dudes and there might only be one of them for that matter, I don't know how many people need to be involved to make intense electronica like this. Judging by the fact that all the song titles are in German I'm going to imagine that Mohn are two brooding pale-faced types from Berlin with zero social skills and poor diet. Kinda like Steve Albini circa 'Atomizer'. Their record isn't any more light-hearted than 80s Big Black either, it's a stark exhibition piece of slow-build electronica, slightly intimidating but highly accessible all the same. I was surfing between new releases the other day and the excepts I played off this one literally stopped me in my tracks - this shit is SUPERINTENSE. Most tracks clock in around the six minute mark and use the time wisely, employing slow-release pulses and sparse effects to envelop the listener - imagine a thin sliver of dark grey smoke exiting the speakers gradually until you look around and realise the room's full of lurching electronic fog. 'Mohn' reminds me walking round the sub-corridors of Templehof airport looking for my mate's rehearsal room a few years back, although if it had been playing at the time I think I might have shit myself and run away. Last year's überbitchin' 'Looping State of Mind' LP by Sweden's The Field was constructed with a similar blueprint to this but where he was aiming at subtle paths to euphoria, Mohn want to slow-cook you over over cold electronic light and leave you numbed and amazed. I'm loving this, especially the transcendant 'Ebertplatz 2020' which is the closest they get to a floorfiller, although the spooky vocal samples on 'Schwarzer Schwan' remind me of that Salem record from a year or two ago. If you like the more devious end of Aphex Twin (à la 'Come to Daddy', the sort of stuff he seems to use to deliberately alienate crowds) then you'll probably love this. I'm still wondering why they chose that name - it's probably a reference to some dead philospher dude but it just makes me think of Scottish football fans egging on their chosen team in the vein of 'MOHN RAITH ROVERS! GIES A FUCKIN GOAL YA WEE BEAUTY!'. On balance I think I'm happier in my continued ignorance of the world of Mohn, but in any case this LP is a stellar introdution to their universe.
Monday, April 16, 2012
More happy music for you happy people out there. Javelin have been going for a couple of years already but I only just got into their stuff - they base their material around samples from music shop bargain bins and the results remind me of the Avalanches, Kid Koala and Freddy Fresh from back in the late 90s. Not that either of these sound dated mind you, 'No Màs' was their debut that landed in 2010 and the 'Canyon Candy' EP followed a year later. 'No Màs' is the stronger of the two, 15 tracks of bright and bubbly electro sunshine with plenty of variety in the mix. They wisely let the samples do the talking for the most part, although vocal interludes like the Chipmunks rap on 'Oh Centra' and the indie crossover gem 'Moscow 1980' show that they aren't just two blokes hiding behind the mixing console. The results are more than just a sum of their parts too - like fellow second hand enthusiasts Holy Fuck, Javelin combine their nerdy love for spare parts with a genuine talent for crafting catchy pop gems and not laying in on too thick - this is lightweight in the good sense, one to put on as you get ready to go out in the Sunday sunshine, totally fresh and full of life. The Wild West themed EP 'Canyon Candy' focuses more directly on samples from Western flicks and old Country & Western vinyl, producing similar results but with less of the range. It's cool to hear them warp the guitar sounds on those old records (again, this kinda reminds me of Kid Koala) but back to back with their debut this EP sounds like more of an experiment than a fully-evolved release. They chop some of the tracks a bit too short, sometimes cutting things off mid-flow which, whilst it might be a way of keeping pointless noodling at bay, stops the record from picking up any kind of a rhythm. It's good, but their debut is better. Thrift store cast-offs moulded into something dazzling, these are both good examples of why Javelin are well worth keeping your eye on to see what they come up with next.
Check out : I can't choose between the aforementioned 'Oh Centra' and 'Moscow 1980' so give them both a whirl. From 'Canyon Candy' try 'Estevez' complete with Young Guns tribute vid.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Another indie double-bill, this time with two offshoots from some of the cooler girlbands doing the rounds Stateside right now; Frankie Rose did stints with Crystal Stilts and Vivian/Dum Dum Girls and Mirroring is a side project of drone matriach Grouper plus some other chick I don't know. I'm assuming both of these releases are designed to allow the ladies chance to lay down some stuff that didn't click with their other projects, in any case they're both pretty cool albums. 'Interstellar' is Frankie going pure pop à la Cocteau Twins, free of any trace of garage scuzz - I didn't really see the point of this when I first listened to it but it's grown on me since then and now I can't stop playing it. Her secret is keeping things short - like last year's bitchin' 'Cats Eyes' album, 'Interstellar' clocks in at half an hour with ten catchy potential singles, only with Liz Fraser as a reference instead of Nancy Sinatra. It's direct enough to avoid sinking into a lake of twee and and the ethereal pop hooks are deftly delivered to sidestep any self indulgent wankery. One for the Sunday morning session I think, this is a great one to start your day to. 'Foreign Body' on the other hand is one to put on when the sun's gone down - if you missed out on Grouper's awesomely spooky 'Dragging a dead deer up a hill' in '08 then go bag that one as a priority but Mirroring are worth checking out in their own right. 'Foreign Body' retains the soft focus ghostliness of Grouper's other stuff but the additional vocals lift it more into Cowboy Junkies territory and give it a structure that might appeal to listeners put off by her more wacked-out freeform material. The vocals are a key part but they don't dominate proceedings, and the trippier moments here kinda remind me of the Aphex Twin's twisted lullaby electronica, like the soundtrack to the closing stages of a slightly unnverving dream. Overall this is a comfortable compromise between Grouper's free-floating tripadelica and the more accessible indie folk that dudes like this would listen to without losing the inherent charm of either. So there you have it - two slices of girly indie which will improve your life without either being entirely essential. 'Interstellar' will light up your morning and 'Foreign Body' will soften up the evening, so why not keep your options open and bag 'em both?