Category Archives: Reviews

Flange Circus – Abandoned Glow

Four hunched, crooked men in brown cloaks and hoods dwell in a cave deep under the post-apocalyptic ruins of Bu-Ri (some call it Bu-Ree). Be they sages? Be they magi? Be they muTANTS? No one knows for certain except they have strange powers that emanate from their bulging mind-sacks. What the inhabitants do know is that the four figures have read the ancient texts, listened to the decrepit parlophones. They know of the long dead visionaries. They stand in unison and their mind-sacks throb. They can make sounds which stream from their fingers in silvery viscous webs. They shape these sounds into music. The terrified survivors of Bu-Ri listen to the music in fear. Some dance, the brave ones at least. And so, from a hovel under Bu-Ri, comes Abandoned Glow. The four hunched, crooked figures respond as one to the name they have given to the gestalt that rises when their mind-sacks hum in harmony. They are Flange Circus.

Flange Circus’ music is the sound of long dead machinery, Kraftwerk’s dream debased. Their music is creepy spaces and scary realms. The Radiophonic Workshop’s dream realised. Yet they never forget that how dark the music is, the bass must travel forward, must explore and hit at the soul. Joy Division’s dream personified.

‘Great Division’, the single which opens their inaugural full length release, gorgeous striding lines of dance music. You can practically sniff the asphalt on this divine motorik groove.

 

Homunculus Gardens; radiation leaks on a bottom dwelling submarine.The found sounds and swipes of hot dank air take us into the realm of the experimental.*

‘In The Pestilent Folds Of Chub 909’ is the sound of Peter Davison’s Doctor Who at a 90s rave. The drums are 808 State but the keyboards are wibbly wobbly CSO.

Lord Of The Rings drums usher in ‘Moloch By The Sea’ and all sorts of RPG soundtrack fun. We’re by the sea, the village is tranquil, but the grand wizards approach! Grand, cacophonous and resplendent. Have you got your magic potions ready? We’re going all the way back to the SNES age!

‘Dehibernation’ is what Sisters Of Mercy sound like in my head, not on the CDs. Chunky lines of guitars throw big riffs while sneaky keyboards weave their magic.

‘Kwak’; Robert Mitchum stalks the dry scrub streets in Night Of The Hunter.

In the past I have commented that Flange Circus’ free wheeling approach to genres has hindered them by not leaving a distinct impression of who the band actually is. Here though, over the course of an album it actually works in their favour. Ten songs in the same vein would get monotonous, especially the gloomier ones, but flitting from style to style keeps the album fresh and the surprises coming. What holds Abandoned Glow together as an album is Flange Circus’ masterful knowledge, appreciation, reverence and capacity for the usage of sound. Very few bands master the art of knowing both how to soundtrack and how to groove. Flange Circus have that skill, and many more.

Abandoned Glow is available to buy right now and we highly advise you do so!

https://flangecircus.bandcamp.com

*The experimental is now the conventional and they are no chock stock things**

**This is a reference to a song by The Fall. This is essentially shit stirring as one member of Flange Circus loves The Fall and another hates them. Colourhorizon is the only review website that includes inter-band shit stirring.

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IX – 6EQUJ5

With a name like IX and album entitled 6EQUJ5 that clocks in at two hours this isn’t a band aiming at being on Jools Holland at any point.

Instead of wanting intrusive boogie-woogie splattered all over their work, IX, with evocative titles such as ‘Fennyman’s Point’ and ‘Sub Level 5’ are more interesting in taking the listeners to faraway places.

6EQUJ5 is a rainy neon lit world fed through the visions of The Radiophonic Workshop (‘Incubation (Phase 1)’ and Blade Runner (‘Monad Theme Reprise’). This isn’t just a place of dank synth atmospherics though; life emerges in heady sweaty nightclubs where thumping Chemical Brothers dance music, itchy drum n bass antics, Talking Heads style rhythm guitars and much more shepherd you to ecstasy.

The title track almost reaches the beauty of the soundtrack to Manhunter, while ‘Black Pyramid (Part 2)’ oscillates around a Tangerine Dream ambient soundscape of splitting atoms, then it’s deep ambient all the way into the ketamine sucking second half.  And is that a melodica on ‘Dome 1’?

The pitch was the album is the soundtrack to a movie. It’s not, at 2 hours it’s longer than most good movies. This is the soundtrack to a city, and not even the city in Blade Runner, this is more like Futurama, in which multitudes of people live colourful, diverse lives. IX have created a truly sprawling world. And whilst Bandcamp is awash in music of this type, very little of it is either as ambitious as IX, or as immaculately conceived, realised and presented.

Like taking a trip through the night life of G-Police.

https://ixband.bandcamp.com/album/6equj5

Hey Bulldog – Al Lupo single review

I think I’m hyperventilating here; Hey Bulldog, Manchester’s most exciting band have just dropped the most exciting music video the world has seen since the Beastie Boys perfected the art form. Such an intense rush of sound, colour and movement. I’m going to watch it 20 times over and then be sick all over the living room floor.

‘Al Lupo’ raises it’s head to the sky as a short form blast of everything that is glorious about this band, acting as a superb jumping on point for everyone who loves heavy guitar rampage. And my friend does this rock ‘n’ roll animal deliver. Powered on a hacksaw guitar riff that scrapes each of your vertebrae, this combines the raw simplicity of The Buzzcocks ‘Boredom’ with the forward momentum and amyl nitrate rush of Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’ and the shrieking hysteria of Grinderman’s ‘Honey Bee’, all squeezed though Hey Bulldog’s aesthetic of groove heavy psych rock. To cap it all you get a RAT powered bass solo.

The vocals: frenzied, a man dangling on the cliffs edge. Rob M, with his purest, most well recorded vocals yet sings like a man dancing on the razors edge, strung out on adrenaline and terror. When he finally hits the desperate refrain of ‘Into the mouth of the wolf’ the song is hitting with a barrage of throwing stars.

Buy it!! FOR GOD SAKE BUY IT!!!

https://heybulldog.bandcamp.com

 

Control Of The Going – I Love You But It’s Going To Rain

Manchester needs bands that provide the music for its’ collection of rainy back streets and long coated poets. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, we’re not saying that Control Of The Going are in the same league as The Smiths or Puressence, but they’re certainly cut from the same cloth where the lovelorn just want to sing a song.

After much ado and hype this young band have released their debut album, I Love You But It’s Going To Rain, let’s have a look!

Here at colourhorizon we first noticed way back with the single ‘She’ that Liam has a lyrical preoccupation with life cycles. Here he stretches it across the whole record, creating a lightly flavoured concept album about life and growth, and the importance of love within that cycle. The result is a surprisingly mature record by such a young band, and a record deeper than it’s psych trappings would have you think.

Take ‘Warcrime’ with it’s race car guitars, amidst which Liam sings “I was looking for a girl like you”; from the start he is playing the part of the lonely post punk raincoat wearer. It is only on subsequent listens that this line at the start of the album echoes through the rest of the songs as you realise that he constantly refers to the same girl. But for now, you’re happy with the rolling bass and crisp drums that glide over the middle distance. We’re off to a rollicking start!

The delicate intro to ‘Star’ may be the highlight of the album. Acoustic guitars and pleas made in quietude right up until “why don’t you be my star tonight…” at which point the songs kicks in full sensaround as the party gets started as love ignites life. ‘Be My Star’ may not be the most elaborate chorus you’ve ever heard but it’s punchy, you can sing it on the first time of hearing and it is an actual chorus, which puts it above the deluge of  cut-rate psych out there. Liam’s taken off the raincoat. He used to be believe everything he read, but now he’s stepping out. Life takes fresh turns.

‘Love Your More’ rides on a Chameleons groove and cut glass guitar. Once again, the chorus may be simple but it’s very effective and wraps itself award the riff to make a great sing along standard. Matt’s fizzing drums really add to the effervescence.

I was surprised to see ‘The Message’ not only resuscitated from earlier days but split into two parts at the heart of the album which, to be honest (we’re all friends, here) doesn’t help the pacing of the album, but it’s a great song nonetheless. Here it’s been shorn from the cowboy trappings of the earlier version and even more rendered more plaintiff and elegiac. It still has a silky smooth glide over a fibrous guitar traction. It winds down for an extended white out before flowering again for a new spring and the evergreen ‘The Message’ lives on.

From here we launch straight into the highly succesful single, ‘She’ that has bought them a new level of audience and fanbase, as well as getting them played by Clint Boon at his club night. It cuts a swathe through the album like a monorail cutting through an urban metropolis. Musically it’s unstoppable and has proved to be the same in life. That riff’ll be reverberating round the rainy streets for years.

The beefier ‘You’re Mine’ rests of the heavy repetition of the title to instil a rigorous, unnerving chorus. The riff pours from the speaker like neon lava.

It’s fitting that Clint Boon from Inspiral Carpets has fallen in love with Control Of The Going as ‘Save My Memories’ could easily fit onto the second half of The Beast Inside. It has that swirling, garbled snap — and then rides off into golden sunsets, the slightest hint of melancholy off setting the tranquility.

The rollicking, rabble rousing ‘Welcome To The Family’ kicks up dust with its ramshackle Happy Mondays all-in, pills ‘n’ thrills vibe. It’s just as exciting as being embraced by a family and made to feel welcome within it, as life reaches a new turn.

‘Fade Away’ ends the album; an exposed nerve and twice as painful. The cycle ends, as it must. It’s rather reminiscent of The Fall’s ‘Weather Report Part 2’, Mark E Smith’s last moment of genius. You don’t deserve rock ‘n’ roll.

There are some lessons to be learnt though: the production is guitar heavy to the point of squashing the bass and leaving the keys almost indiscernible. The vocals are and similarly hard to make out, making Liam’s plans at a concept album a bit thwarted by the mix. The best bits are those that show a greater degree of subtlety and more of these would have bought out all the shades in the music. The listener all to often has to squint to shape the detail through the buzz of guitars. This vid, with Mr Boon (play that tune) shows the delicacy of the songs, and the results are sensational…

But Echo & Bunnymen didn’t make Heaven Up Here at the first crack and, in fact, this is a good comparison, if we see Control Of The Going as Mac and his boys for the 21st century then this is certainly equates to Crocadiles.

Or whatever, this is a mighty fine debut album. Well done, boys!

http://shop.sister9.com/album/i-love-you-but-its-going-to-rain-2

https://www.facebook.com/COTG1/

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

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

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!