The NBT Review 108

  The Man With Two Brains – Dirk Speksnijder ( Independent Release)

 There is always a place in this indie world for the English Eccentric, from Syd Barrett to Julian Cope, from Ray Davies to Robyn Hitchcock, there thankfully is a music that transcends the ageing process, and can provoke and excite the modern listener while seemingly twisting away in a time warp made up from fabric poached from the Incredible String Band and McCartney’s more fanciful daydreams.

This is PoP but not as we know it, Jim, this is Folk but from those strange Folk, those travellers and Pranksters, and this is joyful, funny and yet with a tinge of the melancholic twinkling darkly underneath the shiny shiny reflected surface, as the opening track’s lyrics go, ‘this is war, and we don’t know what we are fighting for’ all echo and multi tracked harmony.

The songs are linked quirky/mock sombre with orchestra and spoken word adding to the overall ‘otherness’ of the record, but also giving the concept a sly unity: within the mostly sparse arrangments there are a lot of giddy touches that make each track a new discovery every play, from the opening riff of ‘Hot Air Balloon’ which wouldnt be out of place on Alice Cooper’s Killer album to ‘Going Out’ which could be made in an alternate universe where Blur was a late sixties band.

Dont think for a moment that is is just mere novelty, take a listen to stand out track ‘Two O Eight’ which lifts itself off from Space Oddity via Paul Weller and becomes its very own entity. Listening to this album makes me really want to hear Dirk’s Alter Ego, Phil Knight’s next offering, whatever and whenever that maybe..

For now though, this gentle love letter to a certain type of wonderfully warped songwriting shall have a cherished place in the cd player and radio rotation for the many months to come

 hear more

http://www.myspace.com/dirkspeksnijder

 you can hear tracks from this album on the NBT Podcast going out on the 30th Jan 2011

 http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

 

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The NBt Review 106

Selected Music -Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt (Independent Releases)

This prolific creator of ambience and noise has so many works scattered across the web, that even three blogs would not do it justice, so for now I must be content to write about just a few and let you, the gentle curious reader explore deeper.

We start out extreme with Son Of Thunder’ (a Kitty On Fire Records release), setting us down upon a twisted playground from an alternate past, once there were jolly warm glowing lights and souls, now they have been allowed to fade into the grew howl, leaving only a trace of a winter market melody behind. The barricades constructed here shift spookily, allowing glimpses of lonely choirs lost, till all is the swarm. The pleasure here is the dream of comfort never quite achieved, the artist making sure that it is the journey that is important.

Now Blisters take us further into the grinning gasp of darkness, where the assurance of scratches and static hide the slomotion glide of rooms and old men and flickers of dancehall memories. Imagine yourself out on a cold winter’s night, looking up at complacent hunks of residential buildings, lives shining from behind curtains far up above you. Add a sense of humour and horror to the experience and you are close to this.

Onwards now, bravely to the manipulation of ‘The Accidental X Change’ where the artist proves that the fabric of our reality can be stretched thin, even to breaking point and then like an overtired child lost within a train journey we slip into something that perhaps is not there, cannot be explained to mother or father and will slip away soon enough, traces of it haunting us still into adulthood.

And finally (for this review at least; remember this is only a tiny taste of this artist’s work) we attempt to float up the TwoRivers, up because these soundscapes push high into space, subliminal spikes jutting out allowing our tender soul brief sanctuary, then spilling back into the murmur, the saddest blur ever felt.

http://www.vimeo.com/16657554

http://www.vimeo.com/16636235

http://www.myspace.com/seandcmarquardt

http://www.avachorda.de/

You will be able to hear a lot from Cooper Marquardt on
upcoming shows on all the NBT podcasts in the new year

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com

The NBT Review 102

Volume 2/Volume 3 – MaCu

Reflections – MaCu vs.Cezar (Independent Releases)

Outside all is dirty white mist, offering an unsettling stillness to the world. A world that seems to be waiting for a difficult soundtrack to lie upon it, lift it up, shift it from the ordinary into the serenely dangerous.

I have found that soundtrack.

This music captures the thoughts of ghosts drifting. The ghosts of machines throbbing, thrumming, forgetting what they are for moments in time then sighing back into sequence, the ghosts of children, girls women searching, finding, inviting. This is a waking dream, where the willing listener floats (standing upright) through the opening Wasteland.

This is the imagination of the young factory worker, romanticised slowed down, manipulated. It is also the sound of a dead disco long after the night’s seduction, the souls trapped there still burning hedonistically, equal measures of despair and longing.

In Hollow (which is nothing like that title, or shallow, or momentary) the ghosts become industrial whales crying through the ether.

Yes this music is all about desire. It is a diary of the search for identity, the search by a fragmented soul, for that elusive whole.

There can be no detachment here from the characters created, the scenes that unfold, we are part of every breath, every stutter, and every step towards another doorway into another unknown.  The song titles often contradict; play with our senses, our expectations. Nothing is obvious but almost every damn thing is rather beautiful.

Even when co creating with others, the composer never loses her unique sense of the intimate making this become a halcyonian view of the disturbance just out of sight. Her music is not about words or actions, but what goes on BETWEEN those words, those actions.

A startling, major musical find.

Explore for yourself:

http://macu1.wordpress.com/

Tracks from these releases will be played on the NBT darkelectric this week

http://www.nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

Oh and NBT has finally joined Facebook, do go ‘like’ the page if you would be so kind

http://www.facebook.com/NBTmusicproject

The NBT Review 87

Genau Jetzt – Schutzschall

Bühne – Schutzschall (Independent Releases)

With so much in the German Alternative pop scene geared to something rather safe and bland, where too many groups bow down to the Söhne Mannheims template of soft rock for the cheese and wine week-enders, it is thrilling to find a band that releases both acoustic and electric tunes that have a tension, darkness, a danger to them.

They build up over a steady roar of tidal wave percussion, (within both sets) the words tumble over the storm frenzy, each creation threatening to explode further apart, each held back with binding of melody and atmosphere.

At its heart there is something rebellious about this, there is poignancy, a beating honesty that invites the listener in for the emotional ride. This is music to go slightly crazy to.

These are songs that ultimately sing of escape, escape from carefully built alienation, from the cloying walls of complacency, from the fear of the ‘Alone’, take a risk, jump Out and join those who buzz brightly far from the surface of things.

This is a tonic for the weary bored musical mind, a pleasant jolt, an antidote to apathy.

Take the ride no matter what country you come from or what language you speak

http://schutzschall.bandcamp.com/

You can hear tracks from both albums on the NBT podcast going out on the 24th August 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

The NBT Review 77

Heavy Water Experiments – Heavy Water Experiments (Intrepid Sound Recordings)

Sometimes the elements connect in just the right way and surround the listener with the right mood, environment, in which better to discover new music. Today as I explore this collection, the heat wave pulses, the road works outside shake and shout, in fact the whole damn day positively VIBRATES as I press play.

Welcome to the disturbance, it’s going to be a fine ride indeed.

This is the sound of a mirage, gentle shimmer of unreality, then that heat (now here in the speakers) explodes outwards, the dream figures melt, the colours collide, mesh frantic, the drums tiptoe up top the flames, and the song settles into an agitating lullaby. The vocals shift into focus, the harmonies subtle, and within all this fine magic, pop melodies strain against the ‘difference’.

Like a storm sneaking into the glare of a summer’s day, this band thrives on the ambiguity of it all, glorious messy mix of the chaos in the Jam and the structure of the song craft.

They let the instruments roar, and sing as people used to flying, finding the swoops and danger above somehow calming. There is a scent of the Psychedelic madness here, a tension grown from the soon to be freedom of the willfully frantic.

It is a place where the ghost of a traffic jam is filtered over the serenity of a deep forest, where the grit and grandeur of a festival edging into sunset along the howls of guitars is superimposed over forgotten photos of homes long lost by destructive lovers.

Never clumsy enough to be mistaken for simple hard rock, never bland enough to please those that seek the new age as a refuge from the difficult, it is an invitation to let go, to ride the hallucination bare back, to get fierce, to go crazy.

A LOT to discover here.

http://www.heavywaterexperiments.com/

Catch Tunes from the Album on the NBt podcast going out on the 8th July 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 74

Laptop Campfire Speed – Marco Mahler (Independent Release)

Imagine sitting, as passenger, behind your beloved as they hurtle down the highway on their seemingly ancient motorbike. You have a worn hand held camera and you are making movies of all that slides past.

This is the soundtrack to that surreal blur.

Here the strange things, the dark even disturbing things, are camouflaged by the twinkled reflection of shiny minimalist pop, the hushed voice comforts, seduces, distracts, and  the weird is natural now, the abstract makes sense.

This music is as honest as architecture made for function and as a gift; it has that throb about it only found in CDs like this and airports at 3 am in the morning. It is a little girl turning cartwheels for her mother (the giddy chaos of her perceptions stretched, slowed down, made melodic) and the thoughts of that lover holding on tight and capturing the journey as you ride.  

Sometimes, the structure closes into the conventional, although of course that’s a Lou Reed late Saturday night conventional, that ambiguous drift from detached observer to a wry empathy, so that if you are working (for example typing frantic as I am now) and listening, suddenly the song stops being background, kinda demands you stop what you are doing, and focus on what you are hearing instead.

The composer trusts in the coziness of repetition , these are modern blues songs for the TV channel surfer ,as I flipped through endless variations of BBC One,( Ireland, Whales, London and so on) the staggered peculiar slide of the narrative reminded me stronglyof the Mahler song ‘I’ll Just Find A Million Other Things To Do.’’

Yes, this is yet another collection to treasure and to live with.

http://www.marcomahler.com/

You can hear Songs from this album on the NBT Podcast going out on the 30th June 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 69

Starlit Apocalypse

Air

Endless – SNMT (Black Flower Music)

Plus Brand new Tracks from an upcoming release

I decide to listen to this music in the basement of my postwar (forever tween modern and ancient) German small town flat. I have this feeling that the ambience of the musty dark room full of wounded and dead appliances will suit these tunes. That as the sounds drift over the discarded machines of fun and comfort, and cardboard boxes packed to overflowing with no longer loved or listened to vinyl and comics begging for a future generation to love them, the rust and the glitter, the oil and the blood contained within the ragged rhythms will reveal themselves.

I have Three sets to go through plus new songs yet to find a home, and as a tense grey storm brews out there on the street I press random, then press play, lean back against the hard concrete and let the musicians have their chaotic way with me.

So if you expect some sort of order, the stability of one collection then the next, you are in the wrong place. This is for the senses, for the emotions provoked.

Oh I love the slow crawl into AWAKE that the first tune offers, airspace full of the crackle and shock of the moody electric. On this Floating Bridge, one must tread carefully, because it shudders and this is no silent vacuum of stars, here the squeaks shoot out sharp, always tempting the delicate balance to betray itself.

In this Graveyard, the ghosts are bloated, stumbling raw, they puff outward abrasive, yet believe (to the very core or their distressed hearts), that they can hug you, wrap around your soul, blanket like. So they chatter picking fraught phrases from the static. They are lost and there is something beautiful about that.

Now it’s time to fly once more, into a drift that is both unsafe and gentle, a shy startled seductive trip somewhere Between Space. The calm is deceptive though and The Turbo Lolita burns, as she drags us into her, this is Ragnarok , but no Gods on this level, these are men women, demons swimming in the heat, the confusion of yesterday’s failed flirting and tomorrows heavy rampage. They throw out the thoughts in waves that, to LoveYou is to fall, is to surrender to this fine noise, to perhaps find the melody where you may and ride it deeper (not AWAY) but inwards.

Then abruptly the Charm of an orchestra full of the scared and the hesitant brave, take a seat in the empty auditorium watch the blur on stage, the colours shifting as the music finds ways to heal itself. the Deep White entices, you want to dream here, though the unease shifts, sighs in its sleep abandoned baby birds, (clockwork or digital or just projection?) nag at us, to not relax too much, don’t let the REM movement take over

With this music

You may never come out.

Find out for yourself how one band makes so much chaos and beauty. Download from a vast selection of great albums here

http://blackflowermusic.com

You can hear tracks from all these sets on the next NBT Dark Electric podcast going out on the 17th June

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

And Black Flower Music will be the featured label in July on the http://nbtmusic.de website.

                              If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of SNMT’s Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

                           (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)