The NBT Review 113

  Alive (Book and CD/ Deluxe Edition) – Tallulah Rendall (Transducer)

 The music is only the start of things..The Songs are only the beginning of this creative journey, Plays, artworks, videos, performance and the documenting of these collaborations form the basis of the book that accompanies the set of tunes.

 And yet as a diligent reviewer, one who hopes to try to get at least a little into the soul of the work, one must for the moment put aside the book and approach just the music, then come back to the book and then the music together.

 If this all sounds like hard work, let me assure you it is not, it is an adventure, a game, an experience that I found I did not want to end, and indeed it did not have to end, because each collaboration added another dimension to an already dense and sparkling universe.

 So it is highly recommended that when you get this album, make very sure you get the book too.

 But now I must be brave, and plunge just into the music, give my own thoughts on what I think takes place. Because everything starts with the music and the music shines differently into each listener’s soul.. and a reviewer can only report, this is what I heard, felt, saw, and in that way (when positive) inspire others to start their own journey (or in the rare negative case) give warning that the trip may not be worth it.

 I am of course double cursed/blessed as I have already reviewed Alive the EP, so now I must shed the shackles of the Previous and dive in as if all is new, listen with innocent ears as it were.

 The title track, is a tumble-drift of awakening, a bare sketch morphing into a colourful living swirlThing, it is the shot of adrenalin needed to, ‘go bathe in the light’, all PJ Harvey guitar rumble, galloping into the intensifying maelstrom, along with Anna Calvi, Rendall seems to be heading this lovely trend of darkly yet empowering pop music coming our way in 2011.

 then a switch in mood, its magical ballroom dance, romantic harmonies, falling in love music,the instruments create a pleasant pressure, the equivalent of being lost in a fog and fascinated by it.

Playful even, the way the intro to ‘Nothing Is Over’ evokes an old time Western ballad which stretches wilful into something sultry and sly.

 Then back to the throb, stand out (should be) single, ‘Colourblind’ the kind of thing, that you sway to immediately, as you fill up on that top of the roller-coaster vibe.

 The Joy of this collection is its balance. You never feel the song suffers from the application of studio craft, it is destined for radio waves and cyberspace but that knowledge is second hand, not cynically manipulated for maximum effect. The ambition never gets in the way of the personal.

 And then again I listen, this time with book in hand. I learn of wondrous art being made. Of tasks taken up, challenges accepted and met, with gleeful daring and …

 hope.

 This whole ‘product’ is a testament to the belief that art is a shape shifting goddess with boundless gifts.

 I urge you to go and get this

http://www.tallulahrendall.com/category/music/

 Tallulah has several songs on the new nbtMusic 24 hr radio station

http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

 and is one of the featured artists on this weeks NBT Podcast

 http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

 

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The NBT Review 112

 Polar Dust is reviewed by Martin Smit

One Eyed Mule is reviewed by Cobus Rossouw

 Selected Demos – Polar Dust

 It is apt that I start with ‘Between The Lines’ as I swim through this selection. Because this music is all about space and weight, the dreaming, the waking, the thoughts in between those states of being.

This is music that seems both Heavy (not as in powerchords or metal but rather that tempting release of allowing ourselves to SINK) and Floating (not as in insubstantial but bravely floating, untethered to darker places)

 As these are demos there is a tiny bit of fear shooting through this reviewer, that when the songs are given ‘full’ life the band may be urged to ‘clean up’ the murk, the delectable dirt, the ‘otherness’ of these recordings. But it is not the shiny that entices here , rather like an ancient mirror, its the warped reflections, the fragmented visions that keep us captivated.

 We are asked to dive into the ‘Deep End’ while sparkly electronics do sonic battle with bass machine rumble, an industrial thing a pop thing, and then the vocals slip in, benign hallucinations.

 These manage float tween euphoric and lament, they are love songs that the enemy sings to you, lullabyes from suggestive strangers.

 They ask you to get lost In them, With Them and not care about the destination.

 I suggest you get tempted, it is well worth it.

 http://www.ilike.com/artist/Polar+Dust

 You can hear some of these Demos and more on the NBTDarkelectric Podcast going out on the 5th March

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com

 and the band is playlisted on the NBTMusic 24 hr streaming Radio

http://www.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio

 One-eyed Mule – Drifting To A Happy Place (Artiscope Music)

 Anyone hearing One-Eyed Mule for the first time would be forgiven for imagining the band originates from the American heartlands. Their music is standard Americana, so standard that it came as a substantial surprise to hear that they were formed in Denmark and recorded this latest offering in Sweden.

Scandimericana then, easy on the ear, beautifully recorded and always interesting. It’s not an album that sets new benchmarks in music and it’s not avante garde or challenging, but it is wonderful. You see, for me it’s enough if music imparts a mood, evokes an emotion. I don’t always need to think, sometimes I just want to feel, and my word this album did it for me.

Starting off with a happy melancholy, a “September Sigh”, imagery of bleakness and yet hope, something warm, either in the past or the future. Rasmus Dall’s voice could feature in any band, its strength is its ability to express beyond the words, to drag you into the heart of the songs. By the time you reach the second track – “Rain keeps falling on you” he’s dragged you into the album and you will be hooked.

After a crazy week I left the office last week and as I hit the open road the track “Drifting to a happy place” and I wish I could make you all feel how it lifted me. Everything was suddenly ok and the weekend had been set up for joy. And this is why this album is so good. It touches all the nerves, it arouses the happiness junkie in me, it doesn’t so much “keep me going” as “makes me go”.

Now, before you start thinking that this is a simple album with little intellect let me caution you, this band knows its music and the album shows off all the chops without ever being self indulgent. Each song expanding in instrumentation, with banjo, cello, sitar and even jew’s harp. And nowhere is there a trace of overeager ego. In its place is perfect sensibility, which is rare.

It’s even difficult to pick a favorite track, although if I was forced to it would “All your love is gone”. I can’t hear it without singing along, and there’s a Velvet Underground feel to it that I have to love.

So in short – not a single note out of place, never boring, happy without being sentimental, melancholy without being maudlin and a range of pfectly constructed songs – ladies and gents, what One-eyed Mule have given us is a perfect album, perfect in every way.

 http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Eyed-Mule/176292165300

 you can hear tracks from this album on the NBT Podcasts going out on the 4th March and last weeks show as well.

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

and One-Eyed-Mule is playlisted on the NBTMusic Radio

http://www.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio

The NBT Review 93

Delicate Dangerous Cool Part Two

Alive – Tallulah Rendall (independent release)

On a day that I am woken by an elegant storm that seems to fade in from a dream and lives here forever, I find that I am incapable of dissecting these creations, going in heavy with a technical post-mortem for the casually curious. Rather due to the beauty and presence of this album, I wish to simply freefall into the words and music and send back to you my impressions, some may be in bold sharp focus, and some may be as blurred as a soft sigh, but all will, hopefully give you, gentle reader an idea of what it was like to travel here.

Caught in the ripple, caught in the pulse, a good time to jump, the song builds outwards, navigates into the chaos, the singer surfs the turmoil and you hold on tight, but she wouldn’t lie for you, wouldn’t die for you, so this, is what it means to be alive, the drop is there to be savored, the tension seductive breathless and sweet. Is she cruel or a savior of detached kindness, does it really matter, giving up is not really an option.

Listen to her delight in the giddy theatrical, the lure of the exotic and untouchable, the way she watches those who need and those who create that need, a haughty mix of the progressive folk that Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane practiced and the ambiguous vulnerable of a PJ Harvey.

Here the stage lights concoct colours that merge into the walls, so that the shadows can hide if they wish or scare if they want. Remember how Ms. Bush flirted musically with Mr. Gilmore and you get a small idea of her control over melody and mood, never allowing the drama to overflow into something too gaudy, her trick is to keep us tricked, entranced, willfully hypnotized.

There is something distinctly old fashioned at play here, yet the decades of inspiration shift past so alluringly you find you are never left out of the modern pop room either. This is her strange cool party and you are very much invited.

Fly there and find out for yourself

http://www.tallulahrendall.com

You can hear tracks from this album, this week on the NBT Dark Electric Podcast

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

And next week on the NBT Flagship Podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

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 82

Music As Weaponry – Post Death Soundtrack (Overthrow)

Sit down, push the CD into the computer, and press play. The magic begins. A swagger slow swing transforms a city building into a night flight, essence of exotic eastern, subtle perilous. The words sing soft for the destruction of lie, and in the melody the aggression builds but tightens within itself. In this tension the power stays.

These are revolution songs, fierce and intelligent, a battle against the bland the blind the soft focus, indeed as the tune screams, ‘taking back the radio’ the noise is refined, made razor sharp to cut into the nothingness of the normal.

Music as battlefield, the camera swoops into the thick of the fighting, the overlaid blur of social politics, and hedonistic rock frantic, even if the price paid is sometimes a’ life gone solitary’ (this miniature piece is both full of dread and quite beautiful)

Wake up and listen, this is a world where the vampires are the ones who preach and rule us from the televisions and parliaments, and this band make it easy to listen, to wake up. They cloak their truth within a euphonious shape-shifting structure. No rhythm is forced, no instrument overplayed, the mix is perfect, strong and provocative.

It is this restraint, this coiled madness that elevates this band, they embrace the chaos when needed, the love the fury when set free, but they know that darkness loves the frazzled intimacy, and they swoop down to whisper these confidences directly into our willing ears.

This entire album intrigues and captivates but for me the closing horror movie crash of a lullaby is the stand out. With this song,’I’ll Meet You At The End’ the possibility of this band taking back the radio is now very real.

Find at more and join in the revolution

http://www.postdeathsoundtrack.com/

Hear trax from this set and brand new songs too on the NBT Dark Electric Podcast going out on the 3rd August 2010

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.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 81

Waste The Right

Build It Down

Dr Night

Last Planet

Nu Dead Pretty – Mach Fox (all Independent Releases)

Set the controls for mirror ball and strobe light, where the dancers are mysterious and the shadows skitter shatter, conceal and deceptively reveal. This is nightclub music with a dark pulsing heart, and a pop grin, it is alien rock Guitar shot out at girls with fizzy drinks and sly sweet smiles. It is post new romantic, nostalgic new wave twisted modern.

Waste The Right combines that ‘dance with sadness’ thrill, and incorporates the militaristic almost nihilistic grooves of Nitzer Ebb (a cover of Hear Me Say) though adding an ironic funk to the proceedings.

Build It Down (released the same year as WTR) now has a detached sensuality to it, the guitar is slinkyFluid, it sneaks and crawls all over the melodies, and Miss K adds a chilled eroticism to the mix, making the songs of fright and fear and longing ambiguously seductive. Their cover of the Kinks ‘All Day and All Of The Night’ skews the sentiment in much the same sardonic way Wall Of Voodoo once did when they covered Ring Of Fire.

Dr Night is the artist virtually alone, and in Dying To Save he delivers his first warped epic, skittish samples drift over a trancelike journey, the tense guitar and sleepy vocals recall both travel and sleep merged into a beautiful blur.

This song is re-imagined on the next EP, Last Planet, and there is now a power to the artist’s writing and production, he is comfortable there in his strange space and it shows, the ghost of Frank Tovey still haunts and pursues the songs souls, but these now are Mach Fox creations, set in the here and now, speeding calmly forward into the Night’s adventures.

Nu Dead Pretty is exuberant, electro warrior cool, wicked, the balance of raw and dirty balanced just right with the machine cruel, we have listened to the star being born slowly, delightful, with screams and shudders and glorious shrieks, with the composer adding his own remote narration, keeping us dancing, enticing us to think and perhaps even surrender.

These EPs are only the tip of the building that Mach Fox has built, is STILL building, go here

Follow the links and download these collections for your self

 Or even better buy them (you make the price) http://machfox.bandcamp.com/

Hear trax from Mach Fox on the NBT Dark Electric Podcast going out on the 3rd August 2010

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.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/

Let’s get some Electro on the charts ok!

The NBT Review 75

On Concrete – Pollyanna (Songs&Whispers)

In this rainy day world, kitchens are not for comfort, the sugar, the glow of Christmas treats cannot quietly heal a broken love. But, no! this is no doom and gloom thing at all, when we first hear this band, Her words lay out the facts with a wry acceptance, and his minimal harmonies give her strength.

This acceptance takes on an ambiguity in the next song, A Landscape,  her affair here destructive perhaps even fatal, and as she sings ‘..it doesn’t matter if it hurts..’ is that because its worth every bit of pain, or is it that she has, just, given up?  The swirls of Electric Guitar here are wonderful because they are simply implied rather than showy or overbearing.

The players switch easily from tender to torrid,(the instrumentation echoes this) sometimes within the same song, their vision of beauty is often spiked, even cruel, and then they switch focus on us and allow shafts of the darkly romantic to blur into the melodies, they make each song seem crowded with possibility.

Songs are allowed to build, to breathe, and to whisper through, notes follow on hesitant notes and the haunting takes place. The uneasy desire is stretched, the wanting tightens internally and like a Hitchcock film of the soul we long for the release the singer craves but cannot quite dare find.

When the traditional ballad ‘Railroad Boy’ slips into place, we the entranced, now haunted listeners are not surprised, these are all in their way death ballads, not always the death of the body though, sometimes the past, the cities, even how nature fades, but again I must stress, these are NO angsty things, rather tales of regret sung to clear the way forward to a different day.

There is nothing wispy about this modern Folk music. The more I listen the more I feel the vitality  of these intricate constructions.

It’s an easy album to fall for.

http://www.pollyanna.org/

Hear tracks from this album coming up on the NBT Podcast going out on the 8th July 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/