Author Archives: Colourhorizon

Grotesque: Mark E Smith 1957-2018

A scraggy back street kid with a bad jumper. Teenage and fingers already yellowed from nicotine. A library dweller who reads Mailer, James, Dick and Lovecraft. An antagonist who wants to be a poet. An autodidactic storyteller. A man who gleefully puts his finger up Howard Devoto’s nose.

A cackling Alan Bennett for a world of Austin Maxi’s and terrace football. A surrealist story weaver telling spooky and bizarre tales of ham radio operators, container drivers, German athletes, time travellers, “self-satisfied, smug” (The Observer) writers, jawbones, suicidal bingo callers, the Northern Rising (not in 10,000 years), possessed rectors, a ghost in Bremen, a man followed around by a soap opera writer, a killer hiding out in a flat, the great god Pan, 63 Market Place, a death at Disneyland, fat Captain Beefheart imitators with zits, what flows from the mushy pen of a 3 legged black grey hog, hitmen in steak restaurants, the vet Cameron called out for birth of hideous replica, housewives on pills, elves and Cary Grant’s wedding.

A speed freak with a mouth and brain running too fast for his body. A man searching for the now, searching for the real thing, yeah. A correspondent from the rrrrrrrrrrriot torn streets of Manchesterrrrrr, England.

A paranoid man at the height of his powers. A man dissecting the media, package holidays, the nostalgia culture of the look back bores, bald-headed men, shift work, ‘Madchester’, business schools in Birmingham, handy men, Boston immigration, British people in hot weather and war in eastern Europe. He never did end up like U2 or Ian McShane. He never did find that song about speed he wrote conceptually, a la Bowie.

A man growing old disgracefully. Laughing through dentures at the notion of it being all over. Post reformation music better than ever. No time for reunion sell outs. No 80s reprobates. No Newsnight for you. More vital than ever when puncturing nostalgia displays for venues closing their doors. Then back to civilisation.

Barbiturates are kicking in. Fresh faced physician looks on. Whirlpools cascade. No grasp on monocard.

A gobshite without end.

A word-Smith without compare.

‘Rebellious Jukebox’

‘Flat Of Angles’

‘Impression Of J Temperance’

‘Jawbone And The Air-Rifle’

‘The Man Whose Head Expanded’

‘Tempo House’

‘US 80s-90s”

‘Free Range’

‘The League Of Bald-Headed Men’

‘A Past Gone Mad’

‘Reformation’

‘Blindness’

‘Weather Report 2’

‘Monocard’

And ‘Cary Grant’s Wedding’

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Hey Bulldog and Sextile live at The Castle 24.01.2018

Three men fate has made indestructible, their name; Hey Bulldog. It’s hard to write about Manchester’s best band without repeating the same observations. Quite simply, this is a power trio with the best musicians in town. There is nowhere to hide and each one plays like a superstar. They have a maestro on the guitar who slices and shoots every kind of rock, blues and glam riff you could ever want. They have a groove machine on the bass, making you remember why the bass is the best instrument in music. They have an octopus on drums.

They are indecently magnificent. Not for them garage-y woolliness or genial enthusiasm of youth. These guys are sublime musicians and play long, forceful songs that explore the boundaries of that particular song. Their powerhouse setlist consisted of recent and upcoming singles and best of all is the elegant, elegiac ‘No Future Part 2” which treads its toes into New Order territory.

The uncompromising body politic of Sextile hits like a hammer blow. This is a band whose music rests on dissonant, atonal electro and strutting guitar sirens. Squelchy, undulating mutant disco; definitely slabs of Devo live, but definitely not Devo in the studio. Hot, sweaty dance music for a hot, sweaty room. Pure punk, aggressive yet euphoric. If any band could claim to be a Stooges for the hot, sweaty 21st century, this is it.

In fact, front man Brady looks like Iggy; gaunt with elbows poking and shining white denim. He yelps and barks, tripping into automatic language. His vocals dwell neatly within each song and while you can’t grasp everything he’s singing you know everything he sings serves the song. He’s a performer who literally performs the entire song on which the vocals sit.

The beats, from the standy-up drummer are occasionally stomping and glam. The music is sporadically 80s but this isn’t music made from nostalgia, this sounds bitingly relevant and contemporary. This is a band shooting fast and hard.

Each song feels not only like the finished article, but wholly intractable. This is a band that already feels like the finished article. A rough, damaged finished article maybe, but a band convinced of its own genius, which is the essential ingredient of every great band.

https://sextile.bandcamp.com

https://heybulldog.bandcamp.com

 

Psychic Lemon – Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay

Psychic Lemon’s eponymous debut album was something of a triptych between Goat, the Happy Mondays and a Jah Wobble solo album. it’s all change though as their new album Frequency, Rhythm, Distortion, Delay casts the band somewhere between Radar Men From The Moon, BRMC and the better bits of an overlong Hacienda compilation. Traces are there to show this is the same band, such as the denseness of the drum beats and the allusions to the halcyon days of Manchester dance, but this is a band now going all out, all in and over the edge. A band that once favoured musicality and careful exploration is now a freewheeling force of nature. The album title makes it clear: the simply ingredients of music itself are key here. Psychic Lemon are stripping it to the bone.

Jungle telegraph drums and hi-tension line guitars start the album off with ‘Exit To The Death Lane’. The music churns and rumbles like battle stations on a nuclear sub. This is a tune that shrieks and revels its way into the dance sphere – you can walk the Manchester monkey walk to this like a right twat.

‘Hey Droog’ is like a blue print for constructing a Joy Division song with rivets and caterpillar tracks. Wild bursts of guitar spray like welding sparks.

‘You’re No Good’ continues with a hijacked, cannibalised and retrofitted Talking Heads groove welded to Radar Men From The Moon’s brand of psych-trance-rave and some Hawkwind riff addiction. The pace is furious and head-spinning, the song is pure forward motion. Twangs of guitar scrape at your subconscious while the bass pummels you under. When the chorus kicks back in at the dying embers you can see the tangled mass of bodies down front. Music as relentless, broad and fun as this should be filling big, big rooms.

The single ‘Interstellar Fuzz Star’ is denser, with its close lines of guitar (hitting Sonic Youth’s sugar kane perhaps?) atop fretful drums and the bass groove is pure New Order to get your head nodding.

‘Sartori Disko’ is the early morning wake up tune on a Cyberman mothership. Partly recalling the future-glow motorik of Eat Lights; Become Lights and the shrieking “hippy” blowout of the Stooges ‘LA Blues’ this combines bliss and aggro to bring the album to a sweet ‘n’ savoury end. The morning after the night before?

Psychic Lemon have gone for the jugular, shedding the dense funk rhythms in favour of an all out dance assault. It’s bad form to compare albums but it’s hard not to as their two albums are so wildly different. Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay feels very current, very much part of the current psych, very 2018. Psychic Lemon felt out of time and apart. As such you should really make sure to buy both albums, I suppose.

https://psychiclemon.bandcamp.com

Purple Heart Parade and The Goa Express live Aatma 21.12.2017

The Goa Express are a band with white trainers but don’t let that put you off, they’re actually very impressive. This is a bunch of young lads that are tight enough to swap instruments. But more importantly, this is a band eager to swap genres.

They’re punk if you define punk as teenage lust set to guitar music. So there’s a hint of The Buzzcocks, or Stiff Little Fingers at a stretch. But there’s also the attention to ornate riffs of Television, the urgency of a Supergrass pop song and the lads in trackies vibe of the Mondays. Their music flows, you can dance to it and it all smacks of youthful exuberance.

For the main event we dive headlong into the inky black depths of Purple Heart Parade. Smoky realms of guitar rise and bubble, conjuring plumes as if a wizard is entering from side stage. From which emerges expansive drumming and a new-found boldness with keyboards that add even greater depth to this sound. Steve’s bass sound is silky and serpentine, luxury bass for the psych age. Through all this Pete’s vocals slink, a hammerhead shark in the reefs.

Purple Heart Parade’s continuing mirky descent makes their songs increasingly cryptic and vague. Sure, there’s Ride all other their sound but, believe it or not, there’s a growing taste of Roxy Music from For Your Pleasure, where arch artistry meshes the experimental with an opulent party ethos. Or,  perhaps, the dolorous wastelands of the Bunnymen’s Heaven Up Here.

The set comes increasingly agitated though as ‘The Room’ expands and contracts, dilating like a pupil in the light. Always majestic but here spun on cobwebs made by beasties. While many of their songs are not exactly anthems, they end with their signature battle cry, ‘Starfucker Blues’, which continues to shine as their calling card. It’s a huge, wonderful riff and momentous sing along chorus. It is one of the best songs to come out of Manchester this century. May it never leave their set list.

FOTIES

The Goa Express


Purple Heart Parade

 

 

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

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