Basically, TinnedFruit have hit their groove. Hard. Almost exactly a year ago, they demonstrated manifest potential with a set at the Studio Bar and later reinforced this with a stalwart contribution to the initial ‘Cornwall Calling’ compilation. The comparison of ‘Like It, Want It’ as it appears on the Easy Action collection, set against the version gracing the trio’s debut album, describes the paradigm shift from lava to butterfly.
This near vertical developmental curve is evident from the moment that opening track ‘Living Room’ blasts off from its orbit of the outer limits. A cold blue heat, it skates, bass-propelled, across a frigid sonic meniscus. The ice cracks to reveal crystalline refractions of frosted psych, before developing a glacial muscularity that meanders ahead of a triumphant re-entry. ‘Like It, Want It’ is another janus-faced schizoid that initiates a submarine mission of desire, fuelled by the raw energy of Howlin’ Wolf savagery. What distinguishes it from its germinal state as portrayed on ‘Cornwall Calling’ is that the depth and breadth of ideas has increased exponentially. Here it is a sonic laboratory, within which all is possible and nothing is forbidden.
The impetus pauses to allow ‘Good’ to conduct a shakedown for the soul. Feelin’ groovy, it circles the black hole of agreeable ennui, stretching to a point of eruption, then separating into its components before jack-knifing into a superdense home straight. In turn, the palace of excess is reached, as dwarf matter garage stormer ‘Yours Is Mine’ evokes a psychedelic chapel ultra mass; a totality in which all is one and we are all together.
A vertex is achieved; ‘All My Friends Are Packaged’ is a standout among an album of the outstanding. Bolan’s vocal swagger is evoked, underpinned by a tectonic trepanation, which assumes a perfect singularity as a glacial glam racket. Peak becomes plateau; ‘All’ sets out along the junction adjoining the two-lane blacktop to the motorik autobahn. A frictionless motion mantra, it progresses effortlessly through its gears, hitting escape velocity and accelerating past its vanishing point.
This acceleration reveals the Hadron velocity, postmodern collision, ‘Doctor’. All particles are grains of god, colliding and combining to produce mauve flashes of rock action plasma. Simultaneously, space opens up and becomes compressed, ‘Spitchoul’ coalesces as jagged shards of effects pierce a superconductive rock’n’roll resistor. A pocket dimension of primality forms; van der graaf generating the new. In the vacuum, sirens sing.
Touchdown. ‘Racecar’ reasserts the temporal. A death car cage roll, piloted by Peter Gunn on goofballs, it spreads dustclouds cross the highway as a heat haze shimmers in its wake. It moves beneath the radar at speed, a terminal ultraglide, leaving only the tail lights of ‘Michael Down Your Vincents’ – then it is gone.
After spending some time retrieving our socks from the distant point they had blown off to, trakMARX duly cornered Dan Ledley in an attempt to discover exactly what just happened:
Let’s start at the beginning: What’s the secret origin of TinnedFruit?
TinnedFruit began as a few guys getting together to be as loud as possible. We liked the fuzzy spirits that visited us and decided to do as much as we could with the music we were making. After a few gigs in some kitchens we felt solid in our shoes.
Did you set out with any kind of game plan?
We didn’t really have a game plan; other than play as much as we could. Direction-wise we had always had a love for DIY, sixties pop and independent garage rock, so we follow that musically and physically as much as we can.
How did your initial gigs go?
The first few were in the backs of pubs, they went alright but it was when we played our first super-fast, super-packed kitchen gig that we fell in love with more erratic vibes and that buzz of playing became full on and then we started playing more independent/DIY venues like the Studio Bar, which was great.
Did you get out and play pretty quickly after getting together?
Yeah, we played pretty quickly, we had a few rehearsals and some really early tracks, (most of which haven’t survived) and just went for it.
Were there any elements that crept into the sonic mix organically that surprised you?
We’ve more or less honed our sound and our understanding of it. We’ve got better at understanding the tones we had and aim to create. Our writing style’s pretty organic, it all grows from itself, but there’s certain sections and moments that have taken us by surprise and worked really well – Such as the more ‘Psyche-y’ parts.
Was the ‘Cornwall Calling’ track the first thing you recorded?
No, we’ve got a load of stuff backed up from before then, some old EP’s and singles that were either not released or around for a little while. The early days were such a learning curve with how we write and record That era of psych/garage has a had a big influence on the way we write, Really into the old ‘Nuggets’ compilations!
There’s a wealth of difference between the two versions of ‘Like It, Want It’…
The version recorded on the album is more mature in the way that we performed it as it was a lot more ‘played-in’ after gigging it vigorously. We have also gotten a lot better at recording and mixing.
How was the album recorded, did you do it all in one go, or spread over a period of time?
We got all the recording done within in the space of a few days. All the drums one day, where we all played together live, then overdubbing guitars and vocals the days after. The mixing took a good few weeks after a break, just to step away from it for a while and get some fresh ears.
Who handled the production?
Me and Danny, and then our friend Empire, Alive (Fred Bailey) helped us Master and tighten everything up.
Where there any aspects that you particularly wanted to enhance in the mix?
We just really wanted the sound of the record to convey us being ‘there’. When mixing, I wanted the actual sound world to be somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and T. Rex. ‘All My Friends Are Packaged’, ‘Good’, and ‘All’ are songs that stand out most to us as favourites.
What lyrical themes do you find surfacing most often?
A lot of songs are lyrically built around narratives, telling stories that are loosely tied to personal events. Lyrics usually come later on in the way we write, we really like obscure lyrics and trying to say a lot with a little. Also, interpretation is important; we want people to interpret meanings in their own way.
So what’s in the immediate future?
Play shows and write a bunch more stuff. Aiming for an album/EP by the summer.
“You will close your eyes, so as not to see, through the glass,
The evening shadows pulling faces.
Those snarling monsters, a population
Of black devils and black wolves” – Arthur Rimbaud
I have been growing my love of Yellow Eyes hydroponically under industrial strength halogen in the attic of my damaged mind ever since stumbling across their second full length, ‘Hammer Of Night’ (Sibir Records), back in the winter of 2013. These days, I can feel them in my molecules. Together with their cassette full length debut, ‘Silence Threads The Evening’s Cloth’ (2012), and a handful of splits and EPs, Yellow Eyes have assembled an impressive body of work by diligently nurturing their emotionally resonant brand of NABM with care and integrity. New album, ‘Sick With Bloom’ (Gilead Media), exhibits this exponential growth in a manner that is pretty damn close to perfection. There isn’t a note on this record that is wasted. Over the course of six pieces, with titles more interesting than many a band’s entire catalogues (‘Sick With Bloom'; ‘Streaming From the Undergrowth'; ‘What Filters Through the Copper Stain'; ‘The Mangrove, the Preserver'; ‘Fallen Snag'; ‘Ice in the Spring’), Yellow Eyes intersperse frenetic bursts of connective energy with interludes of trademark field recordings, captured during the album’s production in an isolated cabin in the northern woods of Connecticut. You can feel the surrounding wilderness seeping through into the music. This osmotic connection to the raw power of nature recalls the atmospheric import achieved by Portland, Oregon’s sonic explorers, Eternal Tapestry, on their 2015 triumph, ‘Wild Strawberries (Thrill Jockey). Along with core members, brothers Will and Sam Skarstad, ‘Sick With Bloom’ also features M. Rekevics (Fell Voices, Vanum, Vorde) on drums, and this is significant in the subtle but relevant honing of both technique and delivery. ‘Sick With Bloom’ is truly a staggering achievement.
Elsewhere under the darkened canopy of this perpetual January, Predatory Light and Vorde (Psychic Violence/Fallen Empire) unite for a split release of evocative NABM. Acosmic, ritualistic, atmospheric and fascinating, two tracks apiece from each band form a thirty eight minute journey to the core of the abyss, gnawing at the ambient depression engulfing the trakMARX bunker at the height of Mercury’s retrograde period. Within this murk and gloom resistance rumbles, renaissance stirs, reinvention reverberates, and rebirth occurs. This cyclical pattern of eternal repetition overcomes the darkness at its beating heart, as prograde ascends and resilience triumphs.
I first discovered Anicon back in the late spring of 2014 after scoring a copy of their split twelve with Belus (Dead Section). Although that release didn’t affect me that deeply, it did sow a seed that has since blossomed through repeated exposure to their most recent work, ‘Aphasia’. Originally self-released via Bandcamp, ‘Aphasia’ has now been granted a cassette release through Acteon Records. Featuring a trio of hymns – ‘Fall From Earth'; ‘To See Into The Night'; ‘I Wander In Drought’ – Anicon’s evolutionary NABM contains more than a trace of Northern European lineage. Devastating yet intricate, Anicon possess abrasion and beatific beauty in equal measure. Their music evokes images of rings of smoke through the trees, echoing the voices of those who stand looking.
And finally this month, all this stumbling around in candlelight has unsurprisingly triggered further exploration. My recent discovery of NYC-based cassette label, House Of First Light, shines out from the surrounding disturbance like a beacon of hope. Home to the aforementioned Vorde, House Of First Light also represent the recorded output of a milieu of similarly-minded New York denizens: Hand Of Glory, Imperial Trumpet, Mongrel, Vilkacis and Wulkrieg. Google searches and You Tube trawling reveal a host of wonderment resident within, and the operation to accumulate articles of faith has duly begun. I’m sure I will bore you all more with this as the feedback accrues and the data stacks up, until then, I offer up both sides of Imperial Trumpet’s 2014 ‘Rehearsal Demo 1′ as evidence of intent and hereby threaten to return to this theme as the year expands. You have been warned.
Gettin’ It Together, Man
It’s been a fair ol’ while since The Crooked EP welded itself to the trakMARX turntable, since then the Exeter combo have surfaced intermittently, honing their live chops via a series of tours and festival appearances and issuing a storming cover of Johnny Cash’s 1957 cut ‘Big River’ at the tail end of 2014. Much of the non-liner nature of the Crookeds progress can be ascribed to line up changes. Now with a new rhythm section nicely bedded in behind the creative fulcrum of Josh Bessant and Marcus Osborne, they’re making up for lost time.
Concrete evidence of such positive dynamism comes in the flat, circular shape of a new EP. Issued on vinyl by Easy Action, ‘Cats ‘n’ Rats’ is an exercise in urgency. A five fingered fist of fury, the disc is a paradigm of urgency and brevity; opener ‘I Don’t Wanna Go’ draws back the curtain, charging in with a furiously distorted napalm burst that kicks open the door for what is to follow. The band’s hallmarks remain in situ; coruscating guitar, pounding rhythms and adroit vocal interplay are all present and wholly correct. Similarly, the sense of being pitched into livewire revue in the sulphur pits of Hades remains – ‘Something To Say’ exemplifies this: Rock’n’roll, for all it’s worth.
Ninety seconds of angle grinder rock action, ‘Coolest (Copy) Cats In Town’ jackahmmers its way into the cerebellum, adorned by a series of deft drop outs. There’s no space to breathe; ‘Get It Together, Man’ thunders in and out, ratcheting up the momentum ahead of the grand finale, ‘Rats’. A fat free expansion, the track explodes as a boxcar ride to sweet oblivion, bumping and grinding itself red raw, reinforcing the maxim of always leaving ‘em wanting more.
Marinated in the sticky goo of garage exertion, we lurched toward the recovery room to find out what is from Sons’ guitar titan Marcus Osborne.
How did the EP come together? It’s kinda long-awaited…
It’s been a fucking nightmare – Don’t get me wrong; every part of the process has been fun but it’s been dragged out. Because we pay for everything we can’t afford the proper promotion we want to give it so we took the summer off to ‘save money’. The problem is that we can’t contain ourselves and collectively went to about forty festivals and spent all of our money. So we’ve had to basically restart the entire process as of September and we have just reached a point where we all have enough spare cash to fund it, I’m so excited to finally get it out there.
You’ve had your share of line up changes over the past couple of years, has that been problematic?
Not really, everyone we’ve had in the band has always been sound, always been mates and we’ve always kept in touch with everyone, so that makes everything so much easier for us. All it’s ever done has slowed us down, but we’ll never be stopped.
Would you say you’ve arrived at a definitive line up now?
I can never really say that, only because things can happen that are out of our control, people growing up basically. We have other responsibilities, Crooked will always be driven by its members because we only ever get people in the band who are one hundred percent passionate. But in saying this, our current line up is the strongest yet and morale is in at an all time high so it’ll be difficult to break us now.
Did the EP get recorded in stages, or all in the one hit?
Everything except for ‘Get It Together, Man’ was recorded in the space of two days, all live off the floor. The recording and mastering was the easy part, getting a label, records, press, agents, van insurance (holy fuck), tax, mot, service, my head blowing up in Penzance and all that boring expensive business stuff is what took so long!
How would you say the experience compared with recording the first EP?
Loved it. The first EP was everything I don’t like, but it was all so new and I had no idea what it meant to be in a band so I just went along. Live off the floor recording is just so much more natural, you can feel out every part of a song and perfect it. Also helps for live performances too.
You’re one of those rare bands that seems to embrace the idea of putting on a show – what drives that?
Boring bands really. Paying £100 for a ticket to go into a crammed stadium to see your favourite band and they come out and stand in one spot staring at their instruments all night. Might as well go to a nightclub with my headphones on and look at a photo of the band. We want people to have the recorded version of us, almost like a teaser, the live show is the main event and we adapt what they are familiar with, include them, get them their money’s worth (hopefully).
What range of reactions do you get from audiences?
Mostly positive, people love the energy and it’s just really fun for us, I think people know that and it helps them enjoy it more. We’ve had some badly booked shows in the past where the audience don’t appreciate a sweaty little man climbing over their dinner screaming about rock and roll but those are the fun shows. Some people think it’s pretentious and we totally get it, it is put on a bit, but that’s why we’re crooked. I’m going to get some abuse for that cheesy line.
Going back to the EP, what lyrical themes did you find yourselves representing?
Josh really writes about his personal life, but in a way that’s relatable I guess. We know all the secret juicy details behind the songs hidden meanings but most of them are just for us – on the surface the songs are just about normal shit.
You did that great cover of ‘Big River’ at the end of 2014, I was kinda surprised that didn’t make the EP. Was there a lot of good stuff left out?
Not really, ‘Big River’ was just a bit of fun and we wanted to release something at the time to keep our flow going, we’ve really had to keep ourselves from writing new songs as we don’t want to get bored of practicing them, totally selfish reasons of course.
It had a great video, too. Any plans for some more?
Of course, videos are always a laugh and we work with our mate Ant (Black Foxxes) and it’s always good fun.
What’s on the cards for 2016?
Everything we can get our hands on, we want to be out as much as possible to make up for lost time!
In a clearing, deep within the technological jungle, something stirs. Analogue and digital coalesce, divide and recombine in strange and alluringly disturbing ways. Such frisson can only herald the return of Night Motor, back from a period of regrouping with a new vocalist in the shape of Mat McIvor, and a mini-album that demonstrates that irrespective of what Isaac Newton may insist upon, it is quite possible to move in more than one direction simultaneously.
The disc opens with the subtle trepanation of its title track; live, it is a storming broth of dark desire, captured in the aspic of whatever passes for vinyl these days, it takes on new aspects, spiralling deep into the synapses to trigger stimuli that explore perverse pleasures, and in doing so provide a self-fulfilling metaphorical uroboros. ‘New York City’, evokes the mean streets of ‘Taxi Driver’, stepping over the twitching corpse of a Beatle, viewing history through a heat haze of Mawgan Lewis’ ravaged guitar, pounding sequenced rhythms and Steve Potter’s unsettling way with bass frequencies.
The haze dissipates, to reveal the set’s fulcrum – ‘Speak In Tongues’ is the virus in the machine; a techno/organic infection that shakes and judders, bringing forth involuntary transgressive spasms of liberating release. ‘Shoot Me Up’ provides no balm; fluids pour along discoloured tubes and filter into the Jonestown ritual Kool Aid, an anxious cortex throb of addiction denied.
The culminating triptych is ushered in via the slithering subdermal cybernetics of ‘You Make Me Shake’, before another live favourite; ‘Self Vivisection’ midis up a medieval madrigal to the overlit dystopia of THX 1138 causing subjective futures and pasts to conflate within a sonic wormhole. Finally, ‘Disappointed’ brings it all home via a semi-conductive twitch that echoes the future/primitivism of the preceding track, while establishing its identity by inducing a sense of digital paralysis. The final sound you will hear is the rushing of your own synapses, struggling to assimilate what they have been exposed to.
At the centre of the clearing, surrounded by knots of tubes and wires, sits Mawgan Lewis. He explains; “As with all Night Motor tracks, the process of recording is very much a messed up process, quickly sucking in ideas and rejecting them, it’s always in a state of sonic flux until each track is mastered, which stops me fucking about with them. I guess as a band, we’ve delved a bit deeper into
the experimental electronic pot; there’s a mix of nasty punk and spiteful wonky pop, on the whole the tracks have a curious reflection of Fad Gadget running through them, I’ve always liked the sense of the weird and sick running through a classic pop structure – I keep saying ‘pop’, but I don’t believe music genres exist anymore, everything for me is underpinned by a DIY ethos.”
And the new component?
“I’ve known Mat McIvor the new vocal man for a very long time; long before Night Motor existed I tried to get him involved in my old project Death By Science, so he’s always been on the peripheral of us possibly working together. We tried four vocalists out before Mat got around to working through the studio door, we went straight through ‘Ice Age Man’, and it was job done; he’s in the band. In the same rehearsal we had a crack at a brand new track, ‘Shoot Me Up’, which Mat brought an effortless change to the vocal melody – It was exciting to know we could smash on with Night Motor.”
What is the future?
“Next up, we are releasing a cover of Fad Gadget’s ‘Back To Nature’, out in February along with a video which we are in the process of pulling together, there’s also going to be a video released for New York City. We are also trying to get some dates together to go and play Wales, Bristol and Plymouth over a long weekend. After that, more naughtiness.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only” – Charles Dickens
2016, and all bets are off. Predictions are a thing of the past: no one knows what the rude boy knows. It would be foolish, née reckless, for an old man to peer into his crystal ball with anything approaching authority. Instead, dear trakMARXists, stroll with me through the wish-garden of blind hope, and together we can explore the pregnancy of possibility for this coming year.
We begin, down-under, in sun-parched Australia, a domain seemingly spinning, out of control, backwards in time, hurtling away in the rear view mirror, towards the epoch of Orstralia, and the ground-zero-days before the dawning of The Saints. In amongst the swathes of enlightened post-everything psychonauts; the elitist cabals of black metalist outsiders; the confused cliques of cold wave conformists; the stubborn lodges of hardcore punk remebersists: hidden in plain sight, lying on the pub floor, mewling and puking, wrestling each other in a pool of piss, covered in their own vomit, are the proto-punk revivalists. Clutching copies of Power‘s ‘Electric Glitter Boogie’ (Cool Death) to their denim-clad chests, these young men (and they are mostly men) will regale you with tales of Radio Birdman, Coloured Balls and The Scientists. They will argue with you about which came first: The Ramones or The Saints. They may want to discuss the merits of Handsome Dick Manitoba and the benefits of The Dictators. They will possibly be wearing a stained Razar t-shirt. They may well encourage you to join their task force, to help them stamp out disco.
Nathan (Gutter Gods/Dribble) plays guitar and wails, Isaac (Soma Coma/Leather Lickers) plays bass, and Penke (Krömosom), not unsurprisingly, plays drums. Together, they are Melbourne’s Power, and they make a sound that time forgot. The sound of muscles breaking out of bedrooms and hiring village halls to rehearse in. The sound of their big brother’s record collections being spewed out on to the pock-marked linoleum of the makeshift disco floor. ‘Electric Glitter Boogie’, baby, literally sounds like it was recorded in 1975, and abandoned in a reel-to-reel canister, in somebody’s shed, in the outback, for forty years, before being rediscovered and remastered, by some genre-historian: some kind of post-everything Harry Everett Smith. Recalling a time where rock’n’roll met punk in a dusty garage, and a fight broke out, ‘Electric Glitter Boogie’ manages to pull off the feat without recourse to cliche. Sure, there are a couple of moments where those listening in groups may look at each other wearily and raise an eyebrow or two to register partial ennui, but on the whole, this is regression dressed as the emperor’s new clothes. Personally, I’m down with this kind of thing: Sagittarius, and my name is Encoule, huh! And I like a guitar tone that loves everything and everybody. And you know what, trakMARXists? If you feel that this is you, then this is what I want you to do: ooh, yeah, take my hand. Let me take you to Power Land!
Meanwhile, far away, in another part of town, Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are driving around. The number one contender for the middleweight crown has no idea what kind of shit is about to go down: of late, I’ve been consuming a whole bunch of stuff out of the Midwest. Mostly North West Indiana and St Louis, Missouri, and their environs. Mostly through the axis of Lumpy Records/The Coneheads. Now, I’ve been an admirer of Lumpy And The Dumpers‘ post-Crazy Spirit swamp-goo for a couple of years now, but a wider appreciation of their Lumpy Records‘ roster, and their association with Mark Winter (The Coneheads/Big Zit/C.C.T.V/Ooze/Liquids/etc), has been somewhat of a revelation. In amongst the rubble, I’ve subsequently stumbled across bands/artists such as Q, Life Like, Rüz, Black Panties, Cal And The Calories, Trauma Harness, Erik Nervous, Fried Egg, Mystic Inane, Rik And The Pigs, The Warden . . . each of these bands are fiercely unique in their own way. Each breath new life and invigoration in to oft-tired sub-genres, to reinvent through rebirth. All share an unbridled enthusiasm for their art that leaves many other global micro-scenes posing like cardboard cutouts at an impressionists’ convention. Following in the grand traditions of Akron and Cleveland, the Midwest is sucking short-attention-spans away from the sewers of NYC, to liberate punk rock from the dressing-up cupboard of repetition: to possibly take it somewhere it never thought it could go. Like the Big Bang itself, punk rock continues to mutate as it expands. Quantum Theory dictates that energy cannot be destroyed.
And finally, a note of caution: as we enter the pantomime season of yet another anniversary, and the endless mainstream celebration of 1976 that will doubtless engulf us in 2016, it is worth remembering that those who vainly cling to the claim of forging punk in the smithy of invention have little idea of what it has become, and no understanding of the continued potential of outsider art to provide sanctuary in these times of cultural bankruptcy. There will be plenty of bollocks about how Johnny Rotten invented everything, and how the Sex Pistols encapsulated the filth and the fury of a generation. Punk rock has changed my life, granted, but with the benefit of hindsight, and the passage of time, it’s plain to see that the Pistols were nothing but a simmering boogie, musically. Much of the music accrued in my youth now seems quaintly tame in comparison to contemporary punk rock, in all it’s splintered glory.
Looking back: I will take Metal Urbain over The Clash; The Sods over The Ruts; The Kids over The Boys. Moving forwards: I will take all of the above over those buried beneath the pavement. Back at the start of all this revisionism, I remember interviewing Captain Sensible and Brian James of The Damned, in a boozer in Brighton, in the early noughties, asking them what they’d thought of ‘Anarchy In The UK’ the first time they’d heard it. They both laughed, said they couldn’t believe how leaden it sounded: “Like reheated pub rock”, cackled the Captain. Two-years later, he threatened to kill me with Algy Ward’s old hammer, but that’s another story.
Do not go gentle into that good night, trakMARXists, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Don’t touch that smile!
- trakMARX: ROCK AND ROLL, GARAGE PUNK, PSYCHE, HEAVY METAL, PROTO PUNK, KRAUTROCK, JAP ROCK, PUNK ROCK, POST PUNK, INDUSTRIAL, BLACK METAL, DOOM/DRONE, POST ROCK, NOISE, AVANT ET L'ART DE L'ETRANGER