Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland
THE HUMANS- These boots are made for walking
The Humans are apparently very popular in Estonia. Perhaps its because they are a super-group of sorts. Featuring REMs drummer, Bill Rieflin, and funk fusion artist, Chris Wong, their frontwoman is none other than Toyah Wilcox, who, despite being better known recently for overseeing the freaky goings-on in Tellytubby land, has a musical career that has seen her release a hefty twenty albums. Of course, her reputation as a somewhat eccentric performer precedes her here and one might be concerned at what is on offer- and, with all due respect, what the legendary Nancy Sinatra track These boots are made for walking might sound like with that famous lisp. It was, therefore, with trepidation that I put the CD into the laptop. However, it appears that I am being ageist in my fear of a dated 80s inspired onslaught that doesnt come.
Roping in her husband, Robert Fripp (guitarist with 60s prog-rockers, King Crimson, and solo artist in his own right), it is his crunchy riffs that really stand out first of all on this single release, the simple arrangement giving credibility to the great songwriting; finger snaps lending a show-stopping cabaret ambience to Wilcoxs assured vocal, building up eventually to a subtle crescendo through layers of harmonies in a way that sounds like she- nay, all of them- should be shimmying around in corsets and fishnets. If thats a thought that pleases you, check out their album We are the humans, which is also out now. I dont know if this track showcases what you will find, as the press release states that they sound like The White Stripes and Kate Bush to name but two (they do not), but might be worth a shufty.
Released 21st September, 2009. Whoops! Think we need to empty the PO Box more regularly!
NORAH JONES- Stuck
The question is not if we know who multiple Grammy Award-winning Norah Jones is, but do we care? Her latest single Stuck- to be lifted from her critically acclaimed album The Fall- might just convince you, if need be, that she is actually more than industry hype and a gushing press release. Shes had a haircut. Shes grown up. That duet with Dave Grohl has had some effect on her as her new material features a blues/rock element, which, yes, has always been present in her music, but now there is more emphasis on the rock.
Thats not to say that this is a number to head bang to - of course it isnt. Stuck has the laidback feel that we are used to with Ms Jones but acoustic guitar and piano is replaced with subtly crunching riffs and pretty slide, a testament to the fact that she has teamed up with Ryan Adams to write some of her latest tracks, as well as featuring musicians who have worked with the likes of Al Green, Beck and Johnny Cash, this blend of soul and country apparent throughout. With a cool, wistful air, the track can be best likened to Sheryl Crow in her Globe Sessions heyday- Norahs voice effortless over some contemplative lyricry, distracting from the fact that the single is backed by two other versions of the title track. Still, the brainwashing may have worked. If you are already a fan, you will enjoy this no end. If not, perhaps Stuck will convince you otherwise. Either way, if youre interested, she is playing Manchester and London in June.
Released 8th March, 2010.
SHPONGLE- Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland
It seems apt that Shpongles fourth album should be released through indie label, Twisted Music. Nothing short of instrumental voyeurs, the internationally-acclaimed electronica project use sound as their playground to produce a collection of tracks to turn your world into a movie set, one that bends the senses like all good art should. Following two sell-out shows with an impressive 12-piece band in London last October, Simon Posford and Raja Ram- the two men responsible for these lengthy journeys through the far corners of the mind- return with Ineffable mysteries to prove that. though the word shpongle may not be listed in the dictionary, it can still be defined as a feeling of positive and euphoric emotions. If you like that kind of thing.
The story behind the music sheds some light on what you will find herein. Formed in 1996 after the pair viewed a solar eclipse in India- and then recreated the experience in a twenty minute long track- Shpongle create a backdrop to the biggest action blockbusters but with a hint of ancient ethnic influence to often produce something rhythmically sensual yet a wee bit dangerous, the small details adding a compelling quality to songs that might otherwise be rather dull if you only looked at how long they are.
Still, although they do follow a prog-rock approach to arrangements, their strength remains in their variety. Inspired by Salvador Dali and acid-drenched outdoor parties in the English countryside, Ineffable mysteries was always going to be psychedelic in a way that one can only wonder at. Weird sample sounds blend with Rams confident flute work before descending into broken beats Lamb would be proud of, eventually submerging itself in reggae beats and laidback smoking vibes, whilst a darker element is portrayed on I am you, proud owner of an uneasy Aphex Twin-inspired introduction about a ten-foot rabbit head, an interesting contrast to the mournful cello solo of Invisible Man In A Fluorescent Suit.
Released 1st February, 2010.
MY LUMINARIES- Parasol
East-London rockers, My Luminaries, have just won Qs
Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition. Well done them. Hardly a surprise
what with Edith Bowman voting for them to play at T in the Park last
year and their latest release being mastered by Greg Calbi (Springsteen/
Dylan). It has been a busy few years for the quintet, having changed
line-ups umpteen times and previously forged a shambolic relationship
with V2, a unity that only led to heartbreak when the label apparently
wanted another copycat indie band- a factor that ML were not prepared
to ditch their credibility for.
Released 22nd March, 2010.