God of Tapes
God of Tapes # 4 Horse Brothers
Friday night punk rock! Mr Frederick cast back into time and memory watching members of Subway Sect and Adam and the Ants at a scuzzy fleabag pub venue the Fiddlers Elbow! Thoroughly enjoyed himself
a) because he wasn’t the oldest person there
b) because he saw Horse Brothers who aren’t old punk at all but a refreshing blend of Blues Explosion, Black Keys and Palace Brothers and feature (admittedly an old acquaintance) Dave Barbarossa who is a great, great drummer. Da
ve plays as if he isn’t even trying, and is the most musical of rock drummers, bring texture and swing to the drive. Neat. Check them out
, ask for a badge.
Made him think about re-treading the boards himself, easy for singers because there’s no load out. Watch this space.
Over the last year or so I have got to know and love “Tender Buttons”, the last “proper” studio LP by Broadcast, which I was surprised to find was released as long ago as 2005. I saw the band live at Kings College in about 1998 or so (supporting someone – was it Gorky’s ZM?) and I must admit I didn’t think much of it at the time, probably writing them off as Stereolab copyists. I also didn’t hear any of their records, and that I know now to be a shame. Hearing of Trish Keenan’s tragic death in Jan 2011 I put on Tender Buttons and discovered a record of much melodic and lyrical playfulness. Keenan’s pure, un-folked (as in un-oaked) voice nestles in creaky old keyboard sounds, guitars and vibes like she’s somewhere else far away and is singing back to us. Somehow, while there are killer melodies (“Michael A Grammer”, “I Found the F”), the momentum of the music never gets above the level of a prayer, a secular prayer, a female plainsong to the modern world. Like the Young Marble Giants whom they resemble in spirit, the graceful female vocals, completely un-mannered, allow the obscure, psychedelic lyrics to sparkle like new green leaves made wet by summer rain.
(In fact the album title is taken from Gertrude Stein’s poem series which emphasizes the sounds and rhythms rather than the sense of words to capture “moments of consciousness,” independent of time and memory, for example, the following excerpt form “Objects”:
A CARAFE, THAT IS A BLIND GLASS.
A kind in glass and a cousin, a spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt color and an arrangement in a system to pointing. All this and not ordinary, not unordered in not resembling. The difference is spreading.)
I remember we wanted to do drones in The Family Cat, and experimented that way a bit, though my overblown vocal style wasn’t helpful; and in JA we like diversity in our undertones and surprises, and I struggle to write convincing avant-garde lyrics, being a little too conventional, more Hugo Williams than ee cummings. But I always am a sucker for melody and a left-field spirit and “Tender Buttons” has both. Spirit is the power.
Gig of the year so far – on Monday night last – was Peter Brotzmann at the Cafe Oto, that strange but appropriate home of avant-jazz and experimental insularity in the heart of Dalston. Years ago an influentual wizard played me “Machine Gun” which I had to admit was a Hard Listen, rewarding possibly in an industrially male way. But last year’s shows at Oto with the Tentet took me by surprise – and Monday night was no different. Fred Lungberg-Holm and Paal Nilssen Love created sparse, rolling sounscapes (cello/guitar/violin), with PB winding melodic, passionate, angry melodies in and around. Adding Steve Noble as second drummer for the second set was inspired, the music reaching incredible climaxes and contrasting pastoral passaages, notable for FLH’s dramatic, detailed electric cello and distortion pedal work, SN’s breakneck rolls and chiming tiny cymbals, and PNL’s hardcore attack propelling us all towards the pinnacle. And Brotzman – the older he gets, the wiser and more fluent, more lyrical, he seems to become. Truly life- affirming, sweeping, universal music.
I was reminded of the first time I heard “Hobo Ho” by Charles Mingus, and one of my band mates said it sounded like “an Italian traffic jam”. That’s when I knew this music was for me. Cordoba and Ioften slip out to catch jazz shows – Nik Bartsch’s Ronin, Tord Gustavsen recently – and while we don’t play jazz in Jack Adaptor, I think our music is informed by that spirit of wanting to touch people, to inspire them (and ourselves) to a higher feeling for humanity. Kind of telling it like it is.
The highlight of the day – “Rev Up” by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the brilliant best of LP, at high volume, – put on to counteract some horrible quotidien 80′s guffage – featuring one of the greatest songs of all time, “I’d Rather Go To Jail” (“I’d rather go to jail without bail than to give you, give you, give you, up”). The pile-driving beat, the hip-shaking middle eight, Mitch Ryder’s heart-rending, pugnacious vocal delivery – reminded me of the time a few years ago when Nick Brown of Intoxica Records fame forced me (by making me feel totally uncool for not owning them) to buy three of his favourite LPs: Tim Rose’s first record on CBS , “Children of the Sun” by the Misunderstood; and “Rev Up”. All three blew my mind, and led me into further research into amazing, underestimated 60s rock. Eventually I put ”I’d Rather Go To Jail” on the first of my legendary “God Of Tapes” for Cordoba (in the days when we made compilations for each other) and that went a long way to us building the rapport we rely on in Jack Adaptor….