Mamuthones

Heads on Sticks end of decade 2010's playlist!!

”And some people say it’s just rock and roll,

Oh but it gets you right down to your soul

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, ‘Push the Sky Away’, 2013

Music has been my greatest companion. My favourtite drug, a rubber ring in emergency, a tool for surgical introspection. Anyone who loves their music will often struggle to summarise their decade without listing a string of albums or gigs before detailing actual events. The cathartic properties of music are forever intertwined with the narrative of our lives, from our deepest most private battles to the socio-political turmoil stared down by the nation. What this decade means to me is overwhelmingly represented in just 100 songs.

I entered the 2010’s in a fog of uncertainty, as did the country. The financial crisis seemed to coarsen people, the New Labour consensus lay dying, and an emerging appetite for punitive politics reared its head. For many young people, the student protests of 2010 were the seeds of their political awakening. Having had to endure the gleeful relish at further debt for simply wanting an education from pissheads at a bar I worked part-time at, I was well aware that my Media Practice and Film-Making degree would gather scant respect in a new climate of bitter division, and was sure that economic precarity was to follow due to the recession at the time of my graduation.

Right toward the end of my studies, I got hit by the ‘lightning bolt’. One of the greatest experiences is the hit of a fantastic tune when you discover an artist so brilliant it terrifies you that life could have carried on without their songs in your system. As a deep admirer of the original wave of synth artists (Cabaret Voltaire, Kraftwerk, early Human League etc.) I was dissatisfied with the way the synthesizer was being used as a mere indie-toy as opposed to the mysterious beast it was capable of. Stumbling around on YouTube late at night I was exposed to a song called ‘Vigils‘ by Xeno & Oaklander and it was exactly what I wanted to hear. Deep, cold, and analogue, it seized me with its glacial grip and before the song had finished I knew I had heard one of the best electronic acts there had ever been. They opened a door to a plethora of related acts I was totally oblivious to (Sixth June, Daybed, Automelodi) in addition to Veronica Vasicka’s excellent minimal-synth archival project/label Minimal Wave.

The dull, grey thud of intermittent unemployment and bullshit jobs plagued me and many of my friends from the summer of 2011. Despite the camaraderie which comes with living in a house full of struggling artists on the dole and not knowing what the fuck they were doing, anger and disillusionment were never too far from the skint revelry. Cccandy and Youth Code were on repeat during this period, perfectly matching the corrosive effects of austerity breakdown with their volatile and abrasive synth-punk pummel. When we finally got our shit together around 2013 and found some stability and money in our pockets the pop around us seemed brighter and effervescent. ‘s ‘Pilgrim’ and Arcade Fire‘s ‘Reflektor’ were my ‘songs of the summer’, whenever I hear them now I’m taken over with a sense of sunny renewal.

Each year brought more and more fantastic music, and little did I know that I was living in the city which was at the forefront of the ‘new’. Wych Elm, New Haunts, Avon Terror Corps, E B U, Orryx all knocked me sideways and enthused me so much that I finally plucked the courage to start Heads on Sticks. Any resulting success I’ve had I owe to the mosaic of artists, labels, promoters, and radio stations that make up the Bristol music monster invigorating me to want to get stuck in.

There’s an ocean of songs to sift through but I’ve settled for 100, ten per year. 100 good friends that have seen me through the tribulations of the tumultuous decade. No hierarchy, no objective ‘best of’, just simply the story of my 2010’s, and pretty much my twenties.

I approach the 2020’s with uncertainty once again. The devastating defeat of what felt like a once in a lifetime chance of national healing has left me fearing for the future of our country. I take great comfort in knowing that I enter the new decade in a total golden age of challenging, unique, exquisite and fiercely creative music and performing art.

Thanks for the music,

Tom (a fan)

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #6

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! 👽  👌

Heads on Sticks 2018

The amount of fantastic music that made 2018 makes creating a playlist an arduous task. Originally totaling 50+ songs, the painful, gut-wrenching process of elimination to just 25 songs demonstrated just how many tracks there were I loved. This is no objective best of, but a purely subjective collation of the songs that sound tracked my year.

Honourable mentions include the power pop indie of Flasher, MAGA frat boys eaten alive by Pleasure Venom, vomit in your turn ups and piss stinking tales of broken Britain by Hotel Lux, Jarada tearing your face off with their brand of blistering Israeli hardcore, the haunted candle lit flickers of dungeon synth mage Old Tower, and the great return of industrial juggernaut Ministry, with AmeriKKKant being their best record since Animositisomina.

Here’s to the heroes of 2018, and here’s the songs which wooed me, wowed me, moved me, and smashed me in the face like a sledgehammer. Merry Christmas! 🎄

Mamuthones ‘Fear on the Corner’

A slimy, eyeless alien bares its teeth in a ghoulish grimace, all sickly pink clashing against an electric blue background, colourful yet disturbing. Fear on the Corner is an acid trip that could go ‘bad’ at any moment. What’s not to like?

Mamuthones, named after the mysterious creatures featured in an obscure Sardinian festival, is a freaky Italian psychedelic project fronted by Alessio Gastaldello, former drummer for Sub Pop’s Jennifer Gentle. With line-up changes, an appearance at Liverpool’s Psych-Fest, and a split 12″ with masked Prestonians Evil Blizzard, the unholy spawn that is their debut LP has had a slow gestation.

Opener ‘Cars’ is a feverish ball of nervous energy, skittering drums and glockenspiels, reaching a manic collage of Remain in Light Eno synth boings and jitters. ‘Cars, people in the cars’ Gestaldello squeals, like an alien observer watching our bizarre routines in the silly little worlds we’ve made. ‘Show Me’ is a krautrock burner, steady motorik beats attacked by dissonant guitar jabs and static blasts before unnerving electronic Paul Lanksy keys ooze in, a cold unease fighting against the Nuggets freak-out. ‘The Wrong Side’ is a funky frenzy, boggy bass and scratchy guitar which takes over you, forcing you to dance in a sweaty possessed mania. The swaggering menace of  ‘Simone Choule’ changes pace toward the end, a strutting stomp behind Damo Suzuki whispers and murmurs interrupted by atonal synth noodles and soft piano drops. Things take a turn for the truly weird in finale ‘Here We Are’, a nightmarish soundscape of buzzing electronics wash over each other, building to a hellish brontide of impending peril. Primal and tribal percussion loop against the screaming vocals, bearing witness to some ritualistic conjuring of evil. It’s like Apocalypse Now in space, and you’re the caribou.

Mysterious and curious, yet utterly direct and accessible, Fear on the Corner is a fascinating and original marriage of the peripheries of imagination that psych music can take you to, with a determined urgency to make you move like you’ve never moved before.