Author Archives: Colourhorizon

Dead Sea Apes – Sixth Side Of The Pentagon

It’s as heavy and deep as it gets when the Stalybridge overlords of desolation Dead Sea Apes bring together their trademark space rock with the heavy dredd of dub.

The signs were there; on the previous album, Spectral Domain, Dead Sea Apes showed their hand with a new direction. It was called ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ and was a little bit like an existential version of Alternative TV’s ‘Love Lies Limp’. Just like ‘Fodderstomp’ on the original Public Image album, the last track on one album paves the way for the next album. Experimental becoming conventional. So now, the sixth side has sprouted tentacles (and ‘Tentacles’) and a life of its own. Here it is in full album form. The song ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ has now been fractured and runs like a fissure through the album The Sixth Side Of The Pentagon.

It’s rather pointless to talk about individual songs. This is a huge collage of dub echoes and shards amidst bleak space rock voids. It’s gloomy and oppressive but the thing with Dead Sea Apes is that the rhythm section of Nick and Chris is always right to the front so there’s always something to do. This isn’t background music, which is where many bands of this ilk can become unstuck. With Dead Sea Apes you can always nod your head. The gluey bass and the insistent drums always keep your head in the right space. But long-term DSA fans need not worry, there are still huge icebergs of guitar from Brett.

Actually I will mention one song, the simply incredible ‘Tentacles (The Machine Marches On)’ in which Dead Sea Apes team up with economist Adam Stone. The result is a noxious head spinning brew of words and music. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

Do you feel the system breathing for you?
The system is multi-tentacled,
Punctuated by profuse and drooling circular mouth-holes
And foul, ever-monitoring eyes.
Each writhing tendril fastens itself to the base of every willing human skull
And spreads pseudopods the length of every buckled spine.
The system is rapacious, self-destructive,
Feeding, gorging on death and violence.
The system is invisible to those who are drained by it,
Their vampire teeth glinting in the pale light of your smartphone.

Regardless of future extinction, the machine rolls on.

What is this sickness that seeks to infiltrate every corner
Of our waking and sleeping lives?
It is the madness of the system as it belches forth multi-variations on the commodity theme.
Desire for commodity equals behaviour modification,
Control masquerading as choice and freedom.

Sixth Side Of The Pentagon is a startling new direction for Dead Sea Apes but a triumphant success.

If you like dub buy it. If you like space rock buy it. If you like Dead Sea Apes buy it.

https://deadseaapes.bandcamp.com/album/sixth-side-of-the-pentagon

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Control Of The Going – She (single)

Ah, such twisted chicanery. Those curious chaps at Control Of The Going are causing commotions with their spanking new single ‘She’. It’s a hairpin affair full of sharp corners and breakneck manoeuvres.

Control are flowering and finding their own place. Melding their Brian Jonestown psych style with a Mancunian party-hard ethos they’re finding their feet and kicking up dust. This is a song with a shit ton of energy and made for the dance floor. It’s no wonder that Manc DJ icon, Inspiral Carpets brain-box and milk bottle aficionado Clint Boon has been rocking it in his club nights at South up North.

Let’s listen: straight from the starting pistol the song rips and roars. Waves of guitars snake and slide, wrapping riffs round each other. The drums are crisp and nervoid. The bass is pushing and straining. Then Liam’s vocals enter, using punchy repetition of certain words to reinforce the dance aspects of the music. Music and vocals appear to be racing against each other and the disconnect simply increases the excitement. As the song reaches fever pitch, we’re treated to Tom Verlaine-ish solos so you can air guitar if dancing ain’t your bag.

This is a song in control that wants to be out of control. This is a 4 minute ride to the peak of heady euphoria, starting breathless and ending hypoxic.

Control is going… Control Of The Going are going…

‘She’ is available to buy on vinyl or download here…

https://wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com/album/she-wild-flower-ltd-edition-double-a-sided-7-single

… and see them live with Ist Ist at Manchester’s Gorilla on October 14th!

Control Of The Going will return soon with their debut album, I Love You But It’s Going To Rain.

 

Hopper Propelled Electric – Be The Beast

Myself and Mrs Horizon were lucky enough to meet Robert Webb of Hopper Propelled Electric at the wedding of Ingy, singer of The Maitlands. What a showbiz world we inhabit. Anyway, Rob, chief rabble-rouser of the band was hitting the dance floor in a black zoot suit and white shoes.

When you bear this in mind, listening to HPE they makes a lot of sense. They are the band of someone who wears a black zoot suit and white shoes to a wedding in Scarborough. Their album, Be The Beast, is the sound of a man from Oldham living his sweaty r’n’r dreams. The sound may be derived from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion but it’s stained with a distinct North-West grottiness.  It is the sound of a by-gone style lived vicariously. Be The Beast reeks of too-strong aftershave and sliding over the bonnets of a Ford Cortina. Hopper Propelled Electric want to slug bourbon straight from the bottle, but what they have is a carrier bag full of lager from the offie.

The songs are adolescent spurts of stinging guitar. The opening song, ‘Barfight In Senegal’ says it all with the title alone, but the stomping riff brings the lights down on an album of bruising rockers. From there the pace never lets up, stirring it up with Stooges aggro. ‘The Bind’ has a ‘Blank Generation’ swagger, minus the existential doubt. ‘Machine Gun Mess’ is bass led with bleary bar room eyes and scratchy, back-of-the-throat guitar before it kicks back in with some hair-of-the-dog vigurrr.

‘Do The Chronic’ not only continues the great tradition of songs called ‘Do The..’ but offers a riff like a heavier version on Blondie’s ‘One Way Or The Other’. ‘Over You’ sounds like a man sneaking down an alley, the natural environment of Hopper Propelled Electric. ‘Meanwhile, back at the lab’ offers a quiet interlude, which not only does what it says on the tin but manages to be an album highlight.

Mark E Smith once sang “I still believe in r ‘n’ as primal scream”. I know another man who does too.

https://hopperpropelledelectric.bandcamp.com

The Lucid Dream – live at The Castle 27.08.2017

Witness the maelstrom: from underneath the Lucid Dream a tangled mass of sweaty flesh heaves, jostles and jumps, undulating and surging. Such a constricted, primordial mess of limbs hasn’t been seen since Michelangelo’s Battle Of Cascina. The wooden floors are creaking and groaning like a galleon in a tempest.

The Lucid Dream are at The Castle, in a special two-of-a-kind gig , acting as a thank you to those who helped their crowdfunding campaign following the theft of all their equipment in Paris. The campaign managed to help them get new equipment and get the band best in the country back on its feet.

The first song of the night is a new one so we’ll tackle that later. The second is ‘Bad Texan’ – that ritualistic call-to-arms. The crowd becomes deranged. The white-knuckle physicality of the music, plus the automatic language spat by Mark stiffens the sinews and encourages all to let-loose and untether themselves from such mortal concerns. Band and crowd achieve blast-off.

‘Unchained Dub’ mellows the room down a little; the luxurious, lugubrious bass reverberating around the room, up spines and out of pores. Heads are nodding, smiles are flashing, hugs are exchanged. It’s all peace and love when The Lucid Dream are in town.

’21st Century’ smashes the room back into action with its gut churning G-force.

‘Nadir’ and ‘Epitaph’ end the night with a monumental, unassailable wall of dance-noise. Strains of post-punk and motorik are cultivated and released into the environment. The crowd is long lost; swimming topsy-turvy in a dark dimension of excess. True exaltation is achieved as people whirl and careen themselves in one with the music.

The ‘encore’ is ‘Mona Lisa’. What else? This is the song that divorced them from the strait jackets of the psych scene and kicked the lad rock crowd into touch. This is the song that ensured Mike’s bass would be the weapon of choice. Operatic and magisterial, this king-groove hangs in the air while the crowd leap for it with sweaty palms.

The night ends, people try to recover.

The three new tracks tonight shine a light on the next album. They’re 90s dance inspired but fed through their intrinsic devotion to heavy groove and noise. These new songs are temples on which to shed your skin and become born anew. When you have the dazzling prospect of Luke’s drums versus a drum machine, the hypothetical notion of this battle alone will bring you out in sweats.

The key to their success is the fact that The Lucid Dream play a diamond midfield. At the front of the diamond is Mike; Peter Hook and Jah Wobble rolled into one. He stands at the front of the stage and enjoys a Lucid Dream gig as the much as the crowd do.

The most incredible thing about the Lucid Dream is that every time you see them they blow you away and you walk away convinced that the next time they couldn’t possible top what you’ve just seen. They do, every time. They keep forging ahead in new directions and each inroad into new territory yields results that music has been waiting for.

Compulsion Songs is available to buy right now.

THE LUCID DREAM WILL RETURN NEXT YEAR

* You won’t see Michelangelo’s Battle Of Cascina mentioned in Louder Than War…

Rhys Bloodjoy and The Jungfraus live 27.07.2017

We’re down in quinoa capital of the world, Chorlton. To be more precise we’re in upstairs of Dulcimer, to see a gig in a room the shape of a Tetris piece. To give you a clue, it’s not the square one.

Rhys Bloodjoy

We’ve talked about Rhys Bloodjoy many times before, but his latest performance cemented what most people on the Manchester psych scene suspect: that he is a true artist in the John Cale sense of the word.

For those uninitiated with his work, he is simply one man with a guitar. Twee indie pop? Not on your nelly, my old sunbeam. The music Bloodjoy plays is psych-western gone rogue and exiled from any notion of genre or cliché. He thumps a beat then loops it. He plays a bass line and loops it. He creates melodies and loops them. He sings and loops it. He blasts his way through sets like a performance artist.

One man does the work of six. He creates a sensory overload. This is psych music that is both stripped back and overwhelming. The simplicity equates to trance. The drum beat on ‘Aim High’ is so virulent, so possessing that when the song ends you are still locked within it, nodding your head and shuffling your feet to a beat resonating within your bones, in a temporarily silent room.

The beats are Apache war drums over the hills. The guitar shreds siren-shrieks like air raid warnings. This is music of drama and conflict. Dry and blood stained, his music is aggro released and squared. But starkly beautiful melodies reside inside. Bloodjoy is the musical equivalent of High Plains Drifter. Bloodjoy is existential as well as gut piercingly visceral. Bloodjoy is as cinematic as he is musical. He is wasted playing in bars. Bloodjoy is ahead of the game. Bloodjoy is another game entirely.

We call him The Desolation Cowboy. Some say Manchester is not big enough for him. We say the world is waiting for him.

https://bloodjoy.bandcamp.com/album/love-is-a-fucked-up-goddess-part-i-ltd-cassette-digital-download

The Jungfraus

Next up are the witty and verdant Jungfraus.

When I saw front man Mick Kenyon hunched at a table, poring over his set list, worn leather jacket wrapped around him he cut a distinctly Mark E Smith figure. A young, vital Mar E. Smith to be sure, not the old toothless Mark E Smith, releasing the same album for the sixth consecutive time.

On stage The Jungfraus look and play like a garage band. You’d be forgiven for expecting them to be another 60s throwback. Straight away though it shrieks you they’re actually closer to glam. Don’t worry, there’s no platform shoes or Noddy Holder mirror hats. The difference is that Mick is a wordspitter. The singer in a psych band is generally speaking, a mumbler. Mick has words to say. He is not afraid to use his voice and to have people listen to his lyrics*. The band is glam in the sense that Mick has an ego. This isn’t to disparage. The scene is overrun with psych bands with singers who mumble in the shoegaze style. Mick owes more to Ray Davies. Plus, he plays the only guitar in a stylish, expansive manner, cutting into solos and happy to stand front and centre on the stage. In this sense he’s from the Elvis Costello school. Maybe even the Johnny Thunders style of punkish guitar frontman.

The songs are bright and preppy; pop-wise, but unafraid to muscle down for an extended run out. Augmented by cutesy keys and powered by show-boating drumming, The Jungfraus are unafraid to mix strength and wit.

Energetic and refreshing, just like Irn Bru.

https://thejungfraus.bandcamp.com

*Other examples of bands with singers unafraid to sing are Total Victory and The Maitlands.

Lucky Dip – The Raft, Angie Riggan, Plike

We love bandcamp and it’s not just a home for some of our favourite bands such as Hey Bulldog, Three Dimensional Tanx, Jennie Vee etc etc, it’s a place where you can go surfing through an endless stream of music in search of something cool. Sure, a load of it will turn out shite, but when you hit a rich seam, you feel like Indiana Jones. With this in mind we thought we’d try out a new feature; Lucky Dip, in which we showcase some new finds!

First up, to use Match Of The Day parlance, is The Raft. Now if there’s one thing we enjoy here at colourhorizon, it’s a classic slice of scouse pop music. And with Phil Raft we have a classic scouse pop guy with some classic scouse pop music. He’s released an EP under the name The Raft and on it he manages to combine the summery jangle of The La’s with a wistful dreampop veneer.

‘So Glad I Know’ floats like a piece of Scottish post-punk, in a slightly fey Orange Juice / Altered Images manner. The middle is packed with an extended riptide of acoustic and electric guitars. ‘Coming Up For Air’ has a stately piano ambience which opens out into a distinctly epic number, worthy of what late era Roxy Music should have been.  ‘Anarchy In Our Guitars’ hits a sweetly nostalgic tang of the last episode of your favourite TV show’s montage showcasing the characters and best moments. ‘Regrets’ is simply lovely; resting on a chorus as joyous and heart-felt as a summer’s day on Albert Docks, eating an ice cream and with your girl on your arm.

The key word for The Raft is relaxed; Phil never breaks a sweat, even his most heartened pleas seem casual. This leads to a blissed out brand of pop, languid and perfect for a Sunday morning.

https://philtheraft.bandcamp.com/album/coming-up-for-air-e-p

One of the best tags to use in bandcamp is “bedroom”: it’ll throw up some really interesting acts featured on here before such as Nice Legs as Mary & The Small Omission. Angie Riggan is also tagged “bedroom” and her EP BTW spews out lo-fi guttural guitar spurts. Songs that may once have sounded cheery now sound disenfranchised, disingenuous and disheartened. Fast and fuzzy, offset by Angie’s sleepy morning vocals. 

‘Take The Price’ has a punchy chorus amidst its twisting chicanes. You can immediately feel Angie’s music wash over you. ‘Thrones’ combines a ‘Wild Thing’ riff with stinging drums and searingly scabby solos. “Don’t ask me why, I feel like living tonight”, sings Angie. ‘Colorado’ feels like life slowed down to a crawl, as a gloopy bass pulls you under. “I really got to get away”, sings Angie.

‘Everybody’ relieves the tension somewhat with its plaintive Durutti Column vibe and Morrissey-ish chorus. ‘Fingers’ then cranks up the claustrophobia again with minimalist backing and vocals that seem to emanate from somewhere over your shoulder. ‘Now I Know’ takes you by surprise as you’ll think it’s from another record: searing electro, concrete bass and ice cool vocals bring us right into tingling New Order territory. “You can’t dodge the bullet if you never even saw the gun” sings Angie.

Like a porcupine in an oil slick: dark, spiky and oily. 

https://angieriggan.bandcamp.com/album/btw

Meanwhile, Plike‘s clockwork realm of dark, cowbwebby trip-hop paints a dark, dank world, full of golem’s and scuttling beasties. Her precisely engineered EP Bending Spoons is immaculately produced, with dense layers of sounds, beats, vocals and intriguing background miscellany.

‘clocked’ starts us off, suitably, with fractured timekeeping in an eerie horror-scape. The second track ‘The Destruction Of Wonderland’ says it all – and within it the dreamlike and the childlike become sinister and entropic. ‘Black Swan’ s foundry electro meets an abundance of movie samples, giving birth to a neon-lit cinematic vista. It might be the best use of samples we’ve heard since Radar Men From The Moon‘s first album. ‘Scarecrow’ earth-churning motions meets blockbuster trailer time blocks of noise. 

It also, occasionally, reminds me of when I spent too much time on Playstation games such as Wipeout 2097 and Resident Evil, which is all to the good.

This song isn’t on the EP but never mind.

https://plike.bandcamp.com/album/bending-spoons

One of these EPs are available free of charge and the most expensive is £3, but why not give each artist the same money you’d pay for a burnt cappuccino? Or better still, a bit more than you’d pay for a burnt cappuccino!

Until next time, treasure hunters!

Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer live at Gullivers 17.07.2017

Chap Hop! Hoorah!

It’s been 10 years now that Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer has been traversing the world to gentify the world of rap and introduce a sense of decorum and, if nothing else, better grammar. He returned to Manchester to play Gullivers again. As he quipped to the crowd: “you only play Gullivers twice… once on the way up…”

He was here to stir up a hullabaloo about his new long player There’s A Rumpus Going On, as well as a snazzy range of handkerchiefs, and a slightly less snazzy range of “undershirts”.

He opens his summer soirée with ‘All Hail The Chap’ with not only pays an ode to his magazine of choice but lays out ground rules for attendees and prospective party members. From then on it’s his calling card, ‘Chap Hop History’. Over the last decade he must have played it a thousand times but he still keeps it fresh and never shows signs of wearying of it.

The show is a mix of the old and the new, There’s A Rumpus Going On is represented by ‘Still Can’t Play The Trombone’ and ‘We Need To Talk About Kanye’. The latter goes down a storm with a parody of the subject matter’s appearance at Glastonbury thrown in for good measure. Not played tonight but from the same album is…

There’s a rare outing of the ever green pop song ‘Curtesy For Me’ from The Tweed Album and we get a rousing Bavarian sing song too.

What with Mr B being in t’North he rolls out his classic medley of traditional folks songs from t’Mondays, t’Inspiral Carpets and t’James. He rounds it off with the chorus of ‘I Am The Resurrection’ before a few cheeky gags at a Mr Ian Brown’s incapacity to carry a tune in a bucket.

Prompted by the audience, but not by much we suspect, there is a healthy dose of songs from his frankly phenomenal debut album, Flattery Not Included. Ironically, a large section of the lyrics on that album are about unhealthy doses. These songs are still as bawdy and hilarious as they were when I first saw them live in 2010. ‘Timothy’ rips up a formerly well-known DJ, ‘Crack Song’ prefigures Amy Winehouse’s decline and then the song that always brings the house down, ‘Kissing In Porn’.

Which just leaves us with his usual ending: ‘Songs For Acid Edward’ and a hearty love song to the little pills that once made him feel rather queer. This being Manchester everyone had a nice little dance.

A short and sweet encore with a cutesy, heartfelt cover of Bowie’s ‘Starman’ then it’s off to mingle with the chumrades.

Raconteur par excellence, Mr B never disappoints, always entertains.

http://www.gentlemanrhymer.com

Can’t Stop Shan’t Stop review