Month: February 2019

Bob Vylan ‘Dread’

‘Kill the kid that stole your neighbourhood, not the kid that stole your bike’ is stamped on the cover of last years single and EP teaser We Don’t Care (It Ain’t Safe), avoiding any ambiguity to the target of their attack. To the leeches of gentrification and the agents of community erosion: Bob Vylan sees you.

Bob Vylan have been busy since 2017s Vylanplaying Brixton Academy as part of Afropunk London 2018, releasing a plethora of material on their Soundcloud, and being banned by Soho’s The Crobar, the punk-grime hydra shows no sign of mercy. New EP Dread is eight nail bombs of blistering vitriol, furthering their hatred of bland conformity and the idle complicity of oppression.

Us boppers are introduced to the duo by what sounds like the laconic endorsement from the omniscient DJ in The Warriors, before an exorcism of gnawing demons take place on the trenchant thrasher ‘Down’. Bobby’s expert MC skills are on display in the toxic trip ‘Join Us’, foggy keys sting against gelid beats detailing the alienation that festers when chasing the expectations of a society which has rejected you. ‘What the fuck is going on!?’ Bobby screams on interlude ‘Storm In’, articulating a sentiment of half the western world in the age of MAGA, FLA and right-wing ascendancy, backed by percussive ferocity from drummer and partner in crime Bobb13 Vylan. Punk sludge oozes against Ministry vocals on the toxic ‘Run Up’, then metastasises into ‘Grime Made Me Do It’, a curse against the desperation that grows from the austerity Petri dish. Desperation turns to violence in the bleak ‘Die Slow’, then the final primal scream against the beige, slow, death creep of gentrification in the aforementioned ‘We Don’t Care (It Ain’t Safe)’, a savage and cutting diatribe of middle class vermin and its craft beer/coffee house necrosis.

The fire in Bob Vylan burns unabated, and is captured once again in an EP of searing volatility and socio-political bite. If Vylan was the aiming of the cross hairs, Dread is the pull of the trigger.

Spellling ‘Mazy Fly’

Something wicked this way comes. Album opener ‘Red’ is the sound of the carnival coming to town, distant revelry creeping up on you like a sudden, strange spell. The closer the funfair gets, the more dreamlike its lights, candy floss, and harlequin performers intoxicate you. Things aren’t all it seems, and you know surely you owe Mr. Dark something for this kaleidoscopic escape…

Spellling, being the brainchild of experimental artist and part-time teacher Tia Cabral, has become a leading force in the queer/femme/brown psychedelic scene of the Bay Area, replete with extravagant costumes and Parliament/Funkadelic theatrics, and culminating with 2017s critically acclaimed debut Pantheon of Me. Initially toying with the idea of a disco side project, she instead poured her creative intuitions into her sophomore effort Mazy Fly, a haunted record that wears her love of Off the Wall, her Juno-106 synthesizer, and the supernatural on it’s sleeve.

Cabral’s disco inclinations shine on ‘Under the Sun’. Klein & MBO italo-pop bounces with 808 beats and violins, while a stirring synth hovers above, like a melody from another song. What can at first appear disjointed soon become intriguing and part of Spellling’s unique sound, going from Giorgio Moroder to astral ascendancy, floating beyond the ether to the wish of the planet receiving the warmth of the sun. Her silky smooth vocals cast a spell on the electrifying ‘Golden Numbers’, a gorgeous soul piece with vocal harmonies in perfect arrangement, lifted into strange new heights with hollow electronics glitching and wriggling in the sonic sparsity.

Coldwave, Metamatic minimalism chills on the eerie ‘Haunted Water’, Gothic synths pulse like early Legendary Pink Dots, examining the spectral residue of slave ship trauma, and it’s parallels with the perilous journey faced by refugees crossing the waters. ‘Real Fun’ is a prog-opera, spindly wah guitar whispers of aliens looking for music, before exploding into a full on organ pomp and Wurlitzer solo. The Wurlitzer returns on the soaring ‘Afterlife’, a saxophone trickles into the track like syrup against Cabral’s R&B vocals, then swells into a celestial voyage, beaming you up aboard the dazzling mother-ship and whisking you away from your every day mundanity.

Was it all a dream? As album closer ‘Falling Asleep’ eases you back into reality, its drums crash like the rumbles of a locomotive, the carnival’s packed up and off to the next town. Mazy Fly is a thrilling and ethereal mirage of a record, gloriously heady and endlessly fascinating.

Rangers ‘Europe on TV’

In 1981s Heavy Metal, two alien space truckers too stoned to fly their space craft efficiently, extend their elongated noses and snort ridiculous amounts of space cocaine, becoming so blitzed they fly straight into some mad, electric stargate. Along their trip, you can imagine the ships antenna would pick up Europe on TV, a garbled signal of static ridden jingles, formerly sent out like the Voyager Golden Record.

Fusing together his two EP’s originally via As Above So Below Records , the titular 2009 cassette and Volvo Jungle Mist, Rangers man Joe Knight has presented a near two hour lo-fi, psychedelic behemoth. A dense collage of fuzzy guitar licks, unintelligible vocals, sci-fi whooshes and analogue scree, as daunting as Sandinista!, but taking no time to suck you in to its warped sonics.

Listening to each tracks contours and cosmic delineations over their respective near half hours are akin to a fucked up radio perpetually tuned in between channels, Dick Dale interfering with number stations before glam punk clashes with audio of dying Cosmonauts. These sketches and fragments of songs melt together in a bubbling goo, mangled teases of a disco tune or Italo-funk number amid the concrète.

Never for a moment does Knight’s abstractions meander. Underneath the psychedelic film is a keen ear for intoxicating rhythms, and pop sensibilities shine through the aural sludge. At the 9 minute mark on the title track, a gloriously proggy cut kicks in, mean bass and Moroder synths drive like a weird 80s cop show theme. 22 mins in a shiny euphoric keyboard strides anthemically, whereas 23 mins into ‘Volvo Jungle Mist’ treats us to a indie-jangle slacker tune, like a cut from the weirder end of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Each excursion into Knight’s respective genre explorations always tease with its sound understanding and competency, but flee before out staying it’s welcome.

Europe on TV is a shape-shifting, amorphous blob of a record, utterly alien yet strangely familiar. This compilation still sounds like a wormhole to the edges of the universe as it did in 2009, and will continue to do so in the next thousand years, picked up by aliens along their hedonistic travels.