Could it be? A queasy hour of Lennon-McCartney (and Harrison) compositions featuring both idiosyncratic yet affectionate renditions of The Fab Four and irreverent efforts to dismantle their saintly loftiness? Some, such as The Residents 1977 collage ‘The Beatles Play The Residents and The Residents Play The Beatles’ (‘peppered’ throughout the mix in various interludes) do both.
There’s love in Daniel Johnston’s intimate home recording of ‘Got to Get You Into My Life’, martial deconstruction in Laibach’s rallying ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’, and an entire project of dripping sarcasm born from post-punk fatigue of the Quaalude generation in the form of the audaciously titled The Better Beatles. Luv ’em or loathe ’em, there’s plenty to revel in here!
It shouldn’t work. White hot, Raw Power punk urgency shouldn’t be able to be sustained across 25 years and seven albums, yet Providence noise duo Lightning Bolt’s latest album Sonic Citadel is another explosion of a record which delivers their signature thrash beat down but also shows new dimensions for the band behind the chaos.
Their reputation for guerrilla style spontaneity is channelled with visceral clarity throughout Brian Gibson’s heavy chug and the wild drumming of Brian Chippendale, the opening blast of ‘Blow to the Head’ transports you to the kind of gigs Hawkwind played during their Space Ritual era, frenzied, sweaty, and pupils very much dilated. ‘Hüsker Dön’t’s sharknado of Chrome warped vocals and furious riffing is an electric six minutes that swings you around the room, then just when you’re trying to figure out what hit ‘ya ‘Big Banger’ pummels with greater acid friend intensity.
Despite the aggression and the racket, there is a joyous affirmation of the power of wild abandon that bristles at the core. ‘Don Henley In The Park’ let’s sun soaked splashes of tripped out guitar picking allow for a moment of psychedelic respite, and the fuzzy strut of ‘All Insane’ shows the bands penchant for a good tune, latent in previous LP’s but now open with giddy enthusiasm.
The seventh strike of Lightning hits harder than ever, with greater primitive barbarity, but with new strung-out spaces of intrigue. Sonic Citadel is a glorious confirmation that the power of Lightning Bolt shows no sign of waning anytime soon.
Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf was an 18th-century industrialist, born in Germany but eventually becoming a naturalised citizen of France. His pioneering production of printed cotton won him the mayoralty of the Parisian commune Jouy-en-Josas, and his legacy is celebrated in the many commemorative place names within the capital’s 11th arrondissement, including the street Rue Oberkampf.
‘Franco-German industrialists’ is an apt tag for the Munich based, Parisian affectionate, cold-wave trio. Formed in 2016 and comprising former DJs Michael Maier, Damien De-Vir, and Julia de Jouy, Rue Oberkampf have confidently established themselves swiftly as one of minimal-synths signature acts, their punchy studio output and thrilling audio/visual live sets praised in equal measure. De Jouy’s cool French vocals atop icy jagged synths struck a chord of subtle menace on last years Waveclash EP, but their penchant for club aggression has been fully explored on debut LP Christophe-Philippe, out via Young & Cold Records.
While chilly analogue production is still present, there’s a greater techno-driven kineticism that aims for dancefloor sweat. Pumped EBM beats pound with chunky sequencer thuds on the primed ‘Glycine’, a propulsive electro-banger which swells to momentous heights with waves of expertly twisting arpeggios and bass lines. Furious club pummeling hits even harder on second track ‘La Course’ (meaning ‘The Race’ in English), an electric six minutes of unrelenting tempos, frosty synth washes and hi-hat claps so lightening charged you could almost mistake it for a Blanck Mass production.
Rue Oberkampf’s minimal-wave shards still cut with satisfaction, but the EBM bite that lurks round the corner lends the record a greater dimension and urgency. Christophe-Philippe is a confident and bold debut statement that stands as one of the best examples of the cold wave scene.
‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.’ C. S. Lewis
The terrible wrench of grief grips us all at some point in our lives, and if you’re lucky enough to have evaded its cold clasp it’s only a matter of time. In the throes of deep, profound loss, we desperately cling onto the fantasies whereby the bereavement that befell us had been averted, the gnawing pain of conversations never had finally granted in imaginary scenarios with the deceased. Humanity can get lost in its desperate need to wander in a world they want it to be, and this wounded escapism is understood all too well on the cover of Ghosteen, a picturesque yet artificial fairy tale landscape of white horses and a surrounding natural harmony of kitschy proportions. We know it’s a gaudy depiction, but maybe that’s what we want.
Casually announced last week in a response to a fan question, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 18th studio album Ghosteen (their second double album since 2004’s Abbatoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus) continues with the synth atmospheres first heard on 2013’s Push the Sky Away, but rids further of prominent melodies or rhythms to an even purer state of sonic reductionism. The first eight songs being ‘the children’ and the the final, lengthier three songs ‘the parents’, the abstract minimalism that swirls throughout is a softer, more gentle listen than it’s arguably discordant predecessor Skeleton Tree, erroneously considered to be his ‘grief’ album despite the songs written before the death of his son Arthur.
For a record consisting of mainly keys and strings, the Bad Seeds perform an astonishing act of imbuing each track with a subtle distinct flavour, from the enchanted mourn of ‘Bright Houses’ to the ethereal gospel of ‘Leviathan’, every song creates a winding, twisting traverse of the full spectrum of manifest grief. Its quiet moments are often it’s most rich, the eerie production that begins ‘Galleon Ship’ masters affecting simplicity as well as any of Nigel Godrich’s work on Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool. Cave stretches himself vocally too, reaching aching high notes on album opener ‘Spinning Song’, a far cry from the baritone he established on early Bad Seeds output.
Lyrically Cave is as strong as ever, but his poetry shines as well as pangs on the final act. The title track ‘Ghosteen”s devastating fourth verse utilises the childlike picture of ‘mama, papa, and baby bear’, mirroring the fantasy of the album’s artwork, an essential part of storytelling bonding between parent and child. What could have been cloying in a lesser songwriter’s hands, is an acutely painful consolidation of the joy observed in a child’s playing, to its sudden stinging absence. The wisdom displayed throughout the record and the insight into the universal psychology of grief is distilled on the final musing of ‘Fireflies’: ‘we are here, and you are where you are’.
Few artists of Nick Cave’s generation are in his league, proving time and again the consummate artist he is. On the Bad Seeds 18th album, they have truly delivered an indispensable entry in their towering body of work, a deeply moving and stirring statement that turns deep pain into something honest, knowing, and beautiful.
The usual minimal-synth vibes hit Bristol’s Noods Radio for the ninth time, including a little smattering of Irish bedroom experiments, a great Nena song which isn’t 99 Red Balloons, and some Soviet shoegaze to boot! 🎹 ❄️ 👌
David Loca is a busy man. With six albums and a plethora of EPs and collaborations behind him across ten years, it’s an astonishing feat that his seventh studio album under the Part Time moniker is as rich and brimming with sunny psych vigour as much as it does.
Modern History is a 19 track toy box of a record, a collage of lo-fi experiments all held together by silky enchanted production in the vein of Aerial Pink or Puro Instinct. Sharing similarities with Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star, there’s a wealth of material which deftly balances scope with a breezy buoyancy.
Expert, catchy-as-hell pop belies the troubled reflections on the glistening ‘Everyone’s Got a Gun’, a distillation of contemporary unease and anxiety that haunts American society with a hazy hue of radiant keys and jerky bass. An affection for childlike simplicity is present on the wistful ‘The Adventures of Sally the Sea Turtle, a gentle sing-a-long replete with whistles and the ocean shore which could easily have been one of Lennon’s more playful cuts off The White Album.
The various skits and instrumentals sprinkled throughout are equally as beguiling. The chunky pound of ‘Famously Lame’ swaggers confidently with electro-pomp, whereas the sprightly ‘Mints’ glows with dreamy synths and taut drum machines. Each jam is a little vignette, sketches both lush yet effortlessly captured.
With Part Time arguably being one of the progenitors of the new wave of West Coast psyche artists, Modern History is another ethereal and fantastic record from David Loca which enthrals with its expert bedroom psychedelia.
The 1990s was that special moment in video game soundtracks, that sweet spot between 16bit chiptunes and the modern demand of Hollywood scores, whereby the giant leap was made in musical possibilities yet were still able to sound like, well, videogames.
These are the tunes that are seared into the psyche of any millennial more than pop music ever could. The eerie throbs of Oddworld, knicker staining gothic hellscapes of Nightmare Creatures, MIDI prog rock of Final Fantasy VII, all soundtracks to hours and hours of time gloriously wasted.
Bristol’s 1020 Radio kindly let me curate the fourth entry in their residents Spotify playlist series!
There’s no theme, no agenda, just 25 tracks that were in my gut at the moment of collation. Old loves, new hits, and artists covered in recent HoS posts, ranging from femme punk, goth-pop, Kubrick soundtracks, and Germanic EBM!
The Spit ‘n’ Static! signal corrupted the 1020 Radio studio again next week, the usual sludge of synthpunk, avant-weird jams and eerie ‘appenings. Strange spectral activity haunts at 10000 Hz, so careful when you dunk yer head in! 👽 👌