Follakzoid live at Soup Kitchen 18.05.2017

Follakzoid are the real deal.

Chile’s finest krautrock band rolled into Manchester as part of their tour and played a sold out Soup Kitchen last night.

The set starts with a simple repetitive bleeping of ants-in-your-pants electronics, to start the rhythm going in your head and cast aside the outside world. When the rhythm section finally kicks in you’re already nodding your head, you’re already in the zone. Follakzoid are slave to the groove. They have melded their motorik pulse beat to a dance ethos, and like, Radar Men From The Moon, have arrived at a point where psychedelic meets trance. This is the purest distillation of dance music. Noise distilled to its simplest essence, acquiring a raw brutality on the way. 10 minutes later and you’re drunk on the music, grinning inanely. You keep expecting the song to come to an end, for the fun to stop, but it keeps going, understanding that enjoyment should never be curtailed. When it does wind down you’re dumbstruck.

The drumming makes a massive difference. Most motoric drumming is clipped, subtle and smooth, ready for the autobahn. This is tribal and sweaty. Here is a drummer who powers through the song. He’s like the guy who would beat the rhythm in a Sunday afternoon movie when the hero has been sold into slavery and forced into the bottom of a galleon.

The bass is a huge rubbery twang, so visceral you can almost see the air moving in waves. It’s a lot like Peter Hook’s circa Closer.

This leaves space for the guitar, which adds decoration. Sometimes it’s the oddest reggae style scratches, other times impenetrable squalls of pedal abuse. Strange sharp noises resound.

Follakzoid played 3 songs in what could have been 50 minutes. It could have been a couple of days, maybe a week. Time became irrelevant. Who cares about time when you’re throwing shapes to the psychedelic equivalent of The Shamen?

Groove as pleasure.

Live – The Sundowners at Jimmy’s 29.04.2017

Here at colourhorizon we used to love the Roadhouse; Manchester’s famous dingey dive. So we were happy to go to Jimmy’s which is keeping the tradition alive. It’s a different venue but it’s in the same building; it’s underground, the floors are sticky and you can barely see the stage. It’s great.

We’re here to see The Sundowners, who sold out the venue amidst a buzz of anticipation. They whipped up a terrific set. Sure, they’re psych and they may initially sound a little similar to some of the other bands around but there are a few very important weapons in their arsenal which make them stand out from the competition.

Firstly, they’re tighter than battleship bulkheads, each member of the band contributing equal parts, but there’s no one swinging the lead here! Similarly, what is really commendable is that the songs are deliciously short. A dozen other band would happily crank out these songs for ten minutes a go. We mean this in the best way possible; but The Sundowners know when to stop! And make no mistake, these songs are hot and full of aggro; snapping little crocodiles. The rhythm section really purrs too, giving a forceful post-punk vibe to the sweaty dance-psych jams. All in all they’re somewhere between The Au Pairs and Lola Colt. Or not at all.

Then the final piece of the jigsaw is the double barrel attack of Niamh Rowe and Fiona Skelly’s vocals; warm and energising. Imagine Grace Slick and Patty Smith cruising the freeways. Plus they give The Sundowners a cheeky shot of The B-52s party-hard antics. You can keep your shoegaze mopers and your hipsters with their Noel Fielding wardrobes.

The Sundowners; they have a sack-load of what you want.

Your Bloodwork Came Back, It’s The Manimals

A good title goes a long way, especially when you’re cruising through the highways of same old-same old on bandcamp. Death metal bands with olde-English font text. Yeah yeah. Anything tagged ‘synthwave’ with a neon LA style cover. Yeah yeah. So when I saw a record called Your Bloodwork Came Back, It’s The Manimals, it made me smile enough to click.

Then I saw that band members had nicknames such as ‘The Bear’ and ‘The Dick’ and my enthusiasm waned again. Like when you were at school and some kid tried to introduce a new title for himself,  “yeah, whatever mate” you think, “tosser”.

So with mixed feeling I started playing the first track, ‘Cause Of Death’. I’m glad I did because it made me smile and made me roll my eyes in equal measure. They may tag themselves punk but they’re punky only in the same style as the kind of bands you’ll find on The Return Of The Living Dead soundtrack. They’re trashy and glammy and the guitar licks are probably accompanied by real licks down your neck. They remind us of The Cramps with the self-effacing wit of Wreckless Eric with a dash of classic 50s rock ‘n’ roll. As soon as Hayley Bowery starts singing you’re totally on board. Let’s make one thing clear, if the chorus below appeals to you, this band is for you:

You wanna be a superstar?
That cocaine heart won’t get you far
Another case of death by guitar
You gotta save your soul
It’s only rock ‘n’ roll
Woah-oh-oh, woah-oh-oh

By the end the entire band is singing along and everyone is having a boozy ol’ time.

‘Boys’ is waspy and as sharp as shark fins. Based around the gag of a girl rock ‘n’ roll singer singing “I wanna be the boy in a rock band” it’s the sound of a party you wanna be invited to.

‘Wild As You Wanna’ spews up with adrenaline guitars and riot inciting vocals. Then it all smears into one, like any good night out. Then, suitably, it all collapses, like falling into the bins and ending up under last nights pizza boxes.

Your bloodwork came back, it’s good news…

Heaven On Earth At The Halle 22.04.2017

Down at the Halle St Peters on Saturday, a deconsecrated church, afternoon mass was being held. Sermons with guitars and gospels with pedals. A congregation of spiritual brothers-in-arms in attendance and a selection of Manchester’s most heavenly bands. Colourhorizon is happy to produce the parish newsletter to report how a sunny days indoors offered enlightenment.

The first artist we saw was Hana (Hannah Nicholson), resplendent in pink. Putting the dream back in dreampop, backed by sporadic Vini Reilly-ish guitar, tender keys and even more sporadic drums, this is more of a showcase for ornate vocals. Most impressive is when she lets the high notes float and you know you’re watching a magnificent singer. One song was called ‘Jasmine’ which seems a perfect title for songs as delicate as this.

The Maitlands follow in the grand tradition of Mancunian pop that stretches back to the Buzzcocks and beyond. They’re bright, witty and fizzy. Playing an essentially best-of set list that showcased their recent Salford Democracy EP they rattled through their time with energy in abundance. It is easy to be won over by the simple charms of The Maitlands; their songs are uncomplicated and highlight the sheer thrill of a guitar riff, some smart words and enervating drumming. Moreover, frontman Carl always gets people laughing in-between the songs. Here he was musing about the heights of the previous band from the length of the mic cable and asking the thermostat to be turned down to 18 degrees. Due to some sound issues he was experimenting with two microphones, which won’t help the Mark E Smith comparisons, but in truth he’s closer to Alternative TV’s Mark Perry. The band later reported sound issues from stage but from the audience side is sounded sharp and crisp, with plenty of space for all the instruments. The cheeky cowbell number ‘A Few Choice Words’ continues to be a highlight.  It’s pretty impossible to dislike The Maitlands.

The Creature Comfort are full-bodied, full-blooded rock ‘n’ roll. It’s the kind of two guitar attack that is best associated with the pirate swagger of Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers but when frontman Ben takes to the stage the comparisons always veer towards Iggy Pop. Ben is a whirling maniac on stage; flailing and falling, crooning and careering, shrieking and shaking. He loves leaving the stage and at one point sits with down to sing to some children, thus influencing the next generation of stars. His band are tighter than two coats of paints and they ripped through a headshot of songs like controlled explosions. Creature Comfort need to be seen to be believed. Consider yourself cleansed on the altar of rock ‘n’ roll.

Headlining the afternoon mass were the mighty Hey Bulldog. I’ve seen the Hendrix fuelled Psych-Blues boogie outfit a few times now but here they were transcendent. A power trio for the new age, they tore through a breathtakingly fluid set, with sky-high guitar offset by a magnificently supple rhythm section. Playing a bigger room clearly suits Hey Bulldog well, with space for those dynamite riffs to ring. The highlight of the set was probably ‘Under My Spell’ in which guitar slinger Rob blasts a riff that is the equivalent of an 8 year olds’ drawing of a fire spewing drag racer.  With a set that seemed to pass by in seconds, the crowd was left stunned and begging for more.

You are all absolved. Another cucumber sandwich, vicar?

The Last Bee On Earth – Prologue EP

Mike Bee is a guitarist known for his firework displays with the Stratocaster, powering up such bands as The 66, The Phoenix Experiment and Purple Heart Parade. The time has come through for Mike to fly solo. Wearing the persona of The Last Bee On Earth, he finds a voice and matches it with a broad musical palette. He may be known for his guitar work but his debut solo EP runs an elegant gamut compassing psych, folk and electro. The songs are mellow and thoughtful, a little trippy, and distinctly shamanic.

This is a mystical piece highlighting The Last Bee’s ecological and spiritual concerns; a Prologue detailing the beginnings of The Last Bee’s journeys. A full album is expected later in the year, leading to the question of a whether it will resemble a full-blown Ziggy Stardust style concept album.

The cover sums up the conceit: a man halfway between the stars and the earth. A mind looking up, a body pulling down. Seeking escape and enlightenment with no safety net except a decaying world concealed by pastel clouds.

‘Mossed In Space’ is a psychedelic chill out piece, perfect for hazy festival afternoons. This a pellet down the gullet; stripping away our realities like melting plasticine so we can see the world as The Bee sees. ‘Mossed In Space’ is a palette cleanser, freeing us and leaving us susceptible, ready and primed. From a distortion storm a shining guitar emerges, grasping dramatic traction . A sky peaking melody dazzles. Then the whole thing settles into a Bunnymen-ish groove with a wordless chorus straight from Bowie’s Low. As a mood setter it’s far too short.

‘5AM’ is a rinky-dink segue of ambient sparkles and in itself a fine example of sun-rise synth.

The real star of Prologue is ‘World On Fire’, a sweeping ballad for a world consuming itself. The Last Bee knows that squabbling on an island is pointless when the planet is going under, and maps out an epic, lush song to catalogue the destruction. A song stamped with pure quality that marks the emergence of a high-grade solo artist. Mixing up a piano march, crisp drums, a crooning, cracked vocal performance and the strings…. the strings…

In ‘The Concept Of Alan Watts (432hz)’ The Last Bee has sampled one of the philosopher’s lecturers and supplied a musical garnish for the nourishing brain food.

Without meaning to render this review redundant, you’d best just listen to it:

The Last Bee is here. Heed his words.

Links & Biz

Stockport Shaken by Earthquake

The denizens of Stockport were left shaken on Friday night following a freak earthquake in the town. The tremor was described as a “bass heavy rumble” that shook window panes in their frames and dislodged chimneys.

Professor Tim Flangerhanger from The Institute Of Shaky Ground stated in a press release:

“The quake was recorded on the evening of the 23rd March 2017 in the vicinity of The Seven Miles Out venue. We’re not entirely sure what caused this bizarre phenomena but it sounded heavy and full of dread, man”

As to the source of the incident, rumours are now circulating about the presence of space-rock leviathans Dead Sea Apes, who were reportedly active in the area. This band, known for their bleak soundscapes that you can nod your head to, are a prolific band with a new album entitled The Sixth Side Of The Pentagon, featuring guest vocal performances from artist and writer Adam Stone. The new album sees Dead Sea Apes focusing on a new dub orientated angle. Also, the climax of the earthquake reportedly resembled fan favourite ‘Wolf Of The Bees’.

Jim, a Schnauzer, owned by a Mr Savage of Dead Sea Apes confirmed that he was not taken for walkies on Friday night and his owner was seen leaving the house with “all his pedals”.

It would appear that the mystery may be solved…

Radar Men From The Moon – Subversive II: Splendour Of The Wicked

If you like your space rock to sound like a smelting press then Radar Men From The Moon are for you. This Dutch instrumental outfit make music so hard and unmovable it takes you all the way past dance music into sheer fucking endless repetition.

Subversive II starts innocuously enough, and innocently enough, with ambient swaths coursing through ‘You filled the house with merciless sand’ that test the listeners’ patience. Fortunately this turns out to be a palate cleanser for the sheer rhythmic blitzkrieg that Radar Men From The Moon are about to unleash… When the groove hits at 3 minutes 24 seconds you’d better batten down the hatches…

‘Splendour Of The Wicked’ is brutal in its monotonous hammering. After a while the instruments don’t even sound like instruments; the drums an underground clamour, the bass a tick-tock metronome of plant machinery. It’s wearying, but in a way which becomes fascinating. You start off dancing to it then after a while you can’t remember how or why you started, it feels like you’ve clocked on for a shift. This is surely the purest form of trance music, you have no idea how long ago this song started and no idea when it will end.

The tracks around it don’t offer much relief, ‘Masked Disobedience’ has synths running amok, while an ogre repeatedly bangs it’s fucking head against the pipeworks.

‘Rapture’ matches morse code rhythm to funky drums and mysterious keys. Yet again you’ll find yourself attempting to redefine dance music. Lou Reed threatened metal machine music. Radar Men From The Moon nailed it.

‘Translucent Concrete’ ends the album with a helicopter going to a rave. <No more description needed>

Radar Men From The Moon just reinvented dance music.