Saturday, 2 March 2019

Log #127 - Things Just Got A Lot Weirder

Eddy continues his bid to name-check every band under the sun this week with 4 brand new artists and 2 making only a second appearance.

Nucleus Plastic Rock
Nils Frahm All Melody
Edgar Froese Epsilon In Malaysian Pale
Burial Untrue
Soft Hair Soft Hair
Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate Out Of Mind

Firstly the 2: Edgar Froese's sumptuous Epsilon In Malaysian Pale easily slots into the Tangerine Dream early to mid 70s canon of classic Berlin school albums somewhere in between Phaedra and Rubycon. Eddy went all green and moist over Epsilon in a recent review.

There was also a degree of moistness with the Nucleus album which Eddy discovered in log #125, Plastic Rock easily claiming the "record of the week" spot in his Roger Dean retrospective.

For those that like their jazz fusion just a little bit more easy listening than Bitches Brew.

On to green pastures anew: Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate appear a curious proposition. For a start what's that name all about? It's not even the album title name. It's actually the band name. Are they actually a band even? It seems like Hats Off / HOGIA are perhaps just two people, in which case their complex prog rock sound is remarkable. They are either a couple of amazing multi-instrumentalists or computer geniuses or both.

HOGIA throw the full prog gambit at Out Of Mind which takes us on a whirlwind tour through Marillion and Genesis infused music containing a myriad of instruments, time signatures, involved lyrics, dynamics and tempos, not only across songs but within them too. It's a lot to take in but fans of those two bands (particularly the Marillion on the vocal tracks, and the Genesis on the instrumental passages) will lap it up.

With it's gurgling keyboard Defiance is like one of the instrumentals littered throughout The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. But it's the guitar sound I love most. The latter half of the album in particular exhibits some gorgeous slow drawn out guitar glissando with pleasing chord changes that strike you right in the gut; reminiscent of Neil Young on Zuma or Alex Lifeson at his best on La Villa Strangiato or By-Tor And The Snow Dog, but with the Steve Hackett (a fan apparently) sound (and a hint of Mark Knopfler too). Take Maze for example with its gentle guitar arpeggio, the spacey If I Miss The Stars, or If You Think This World Is Bad, an impressively efficient bass pulse driven 3 minute instrumental break amongst a sea of 6 and 7 minute epics. Favourite track and most gorgeous of all is Losing Myself (and indeed I do in that guitar figure).

No entry at the music map as yet but I've made a nomination.

The disturbing cover at the head of this log belongs to the Soft Hair album. It actually fits the album of sleazy funk disco really well. I like the band's unusual sound which is a dark mash-up of Michael Jackson, Prince, and Sly and the Family Stone (you can't get more sleazy than a Jackson-Prince-Stone menage-a-trois), and as if produced by Boards of Canada too. It came out as recently as 2016 although was many years in it's conception by co-collaborators Connan Mockasin (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Sam Dust (LA Priest and Late Of The Pier). The Gainsbourg connection perhaps being significant as despite never hearing her father's classic sleaze disco album Histoire de Melody Nelson all the way through, I am confident this record is from that lineage.

I like to watch you run
But I'll never touch your bum

Check out this track which pretty much summarises this peculiar album (be warned the parental advisory sticker should apply to their videos as well as the music):

Who are Burial? Well, in fact, Burial is electronic music producer William Bevan from South London. The reclusive Bevan remained anonymous for a while leading to speculation that Burial was in fact another pseudonym for Richard James (Aphex Twin) or Keiran Hebden (Four Tet). His cover was blown in 2008 when his second album Untrue was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

This acclaimed album draws upon breakbeat, dubstep, rave, and drum and bass, but also there is a lot of ambient glitch, vinyl crackle, distortion and decay.  Think of the aural innovation of Portishead when they first came out, and factor it up by ten.

It could be a dog's breakfast with all those influences but is actually a coherent whole and oddly the distorted vocal fragments in particular make Untrue quite an interesting companion (or counterpoint?) piece to the Soft Hair (maybe that Boards Of Canada aesthetic being the common touchpoint?).

Who is Nils Frahm? I've heard the name and had my expectations. This album by the Berlin composer surpasses them. Why? Unsure. I think, again (and how often do I say this?), it wasn't what I was expecting. There is beautiful treated solo piano which is minimalist with space to breath. But there is pulse and beats too. The title track has a gorgeously hypnotic gated synth which is right up my Tangerine Dream / Jean Michel Jarre strabe / rue (and get the Daft Punk influences too). Here is Frahm performing title track All Melody live:

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