All The Colours Under The Sun

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A Column 

Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau . . .

Mats Gustafsson and the expanded Fire! trio return once again as Fire! Orchestra, with their third full length: ‘Ritual’ (Rune Grammofon). Contracted slightly on this outing to a 21-piece ensemble, conducted by Gustafsson, and inspired by texts written by Erik Lindgren, ‘Ritual’ is a double white-wax edifice, performed in five suites of semi-improvisational spontaneity. Gustafsson had hinted at the wanderlust of ‘Ritual’ when we’d spoken briefly at Cafe Oto in March, and I can duly confirm that my subsequent anticipation has been worth the agonising wait. Recorded and produced in a mere two days of studio time, this fact alone is testament to both the alchemical skills of the players assembled here, as well as the demands placed upon their own individual schedules by external projects. Thematically, ‘Ritual’ focusses on mystery: the rituals of music, the rituals of life. The majestic twin vocals of Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg; the oscillating electronics of Andreas Berthling; the propulsive drumming of Andreas Werliin and Mads Forsby; the massed saxophones of Anna Högberg, Mette Rasmussen, Lotte Anker, Jonas Kullhammar and Gustafson himself; the squaling guitars of Julien Deprez and Finn Lobo, all conspire as one gargantuan slab of free jazz-led, Sun Ra-tinged, psychedelic collapse, that thrills from beginning to end. Shuddering from climax to climax, ‘Ritual’ rises and falls in bi-polar fashion. Good cop/bad cop, light and shade. There is so much going on here that even a few weeks into exposure, there is promise aplenty buried within.

http://earthwindand.com/wp/

Icepick, a trio comprised of Nate Wooley (trumpet), Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (double bass) & Chris Corsano (drums), follow-up their lo-fi live cassette-only debut, ‘Hexane’ (Astral Spirits), with this fidelity-conscious twelve: ‘Amaranth’ (Astral Spirits). Recorded in a single day in Austin, Texas, by Ian Rundell (Ghetto Ghouls), ‘Amaranth’ builds upon the foundations laid by said debut cassette, to free-sculpt three impressive compositions from the stone of free jazz improvisation. The ghost of Texan-expat Ornette Coleman haunts these grooves, but this is still far from traditionalist faire. Ominous passages klank and klang; melodies are ripped from the sonic darkness to lighten the palette; the bottom end rumbles and rolls, as Corsano darts in and out of the gaps on the park, filling the ambience with menace. ‘Amaranth’ announces Icepick as a force to be reckoned with, and Astral Spirits as a label of bravery and invention. In these conformist times, we surely need all the variation we can get.

http://monofonuspress.com/store/icepick-3

Welsh double bassist and composer, Huw V Williams, has dropped one of the finest albums of the year thus far with ‘Hon’ (Self-Released). Complimented by trumpeter Laura Jurd, pianist Elliot Galvin, tenor saxophonist Alam Nathoo and drummer Pete Ibbetson, ‘Hon’ spreads pastes of Coleman and Ayler across nine slices from an electic musical timeline. Raised on a diet of indie landfill in his formative years growing up in Wales, his mind blown by the possibility of free jazz on his eventual escape to the big city, Williams’ compositions reflect this juxtaposition to forge a unique perspective that captivates from the first listen. ‘Hon’ is an incredibly warm record that embraces the twin-worlds of Williams’ influences so proportionally that the results prove to be as alluring as they are generationally representative.

https://huwvwilliams1.bandcamp.com

Sloth Racket, a quintet featuring Cath Roberts (baritone saxophone), Sam Andreae (tenor saxophone), Anton Hunter (guitar), Seth Bennett (bass) and Johnny Hunter (drums), are not particularly slothful, it must be said. They do, however, make once glorious heck of a racket. The three pieces that comprise their debut CDR, ‘Triptych’ (Self-Released), explore freedom and structure, utilising compositions by Roberts that are as psychedelic as they are free jazz; as garage as they are concert hall. These improvisational upstarts are being hailed as the heirs to the throne of skronk, and it’s easy to see why. This is a hair-raising debut, extemporising algebraic approaches to molten form in an accessible yet angular fashion.

https://slothracket.bandcamp.com/album/triptych

Cluster‘s legacy remains potent, decades beyond their halcyon era. The German core-duo of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius have their 1971-1981 output collected magnificently here with ‘Boxset’ (Bureau B). Representing the first decade of Cluster, this collection of eight original albums adds one bonus record documenting the live performances of the duo: ‘Cluster 71′ (Philips, 1971); ‘Cluster II’ (Brain, 1972); ‘Zuckerzeit’ (Brain, 1972); ‘Sowiesoso’ (Sky, 1976); ‘Cluster And Eno’ (Sky, 1977); ‘Eno, Moebius, Roedelius – After The Heat’ (Sky, 1978); ‘Grosses Wasser’ (Sky, 1979); Curiosum (Sky, 1981) and ‘Konzerte 1972/1977 (Previously Unreleased). The record’s sleeves have been designed after the colors of the legendary first album (Cluster 71). The original typo has been used, blue is the dominant colour, and the single LP sleeves use the variety of light yellow to dark red/brown which can be seen on the Cluster 71 cover art. The set includes a 12″ by 12″ booklet with essays on each release, along with the original album’s artwork. The albums have all been remastered by Willem Makkee, using a variety of original master tapes (from 1/4 to beta). Alongside previous collections from both Harmonia and Neu! in recent years, this beautiful boxset places Cluster firmly at the heart of an era in German music that still resonates to this day. The influence of Krautrock reverberates at the core of post-modern avante garde electronica, circa now, and the investment represented by this set is testament to its longevity.

https://shop.tapeterecords.com/new/cluster-1979-1981-9-album-boxset.html

Mythic Sunship, a quartet hailing from Copenhagen, eschew the Sun Ra meets Coltrane implications of their moniker for some heads-down, no-nonsense Wümme boogie. Coming on like a Münich-based Eternal Tapestry, Mythic Sunship drill their groove to the floor with cavernous basement foundations, and ride their trip all the way to the further reaches on the universe. Featuring  Frederick Denning, of F.E. Denning/Descension Orchestra infamy, alongside a trio of fellow courtesans of the Posh Isolation/Mayhem scene, Mythic Sunship couldn’t be more unrepresentative of said milieu. ‘Ouroboros’, their debut album, excuses itself while it kisses the sky, recalling Amon Düül II’s defiant dedication to sonic expansion.

http://www.elparaisorecords.com/releases/mythic-sunship-ouroboros-lp

Neukölln, Berlin, based Cosmic Black Metal trio Sun Worship project enduring desolate images of frozen Scandinavian forests onto white walls of fresh snow through the medium of their sophomore vinyl full length, ‘Pale Dawn’ (Golden Antenna Records). Following in the footsteps in the tundra of their 2014 triumph, ‘Elder Giants’ (Dead Section), ‘Pale Dawn’ is duly executed without recourse to pretence or theatrical overtones. The riffs are razor sharp, anthemic, retaining the minor key somnambulant grace and splendour of the best of the genre. Pressed on 180g wax, in a heavy duty tip-on style jacket with foil stamping and full size insert, ‘Pale Dawn’ looks and feel as good as it sounds.

https://sunworship.bandcamp.com

Finally this month, Greensleeves Records reissue six titles from Scientist‘s early 80s dub series. Ingeniously packaged as double vinyl sets, matching the remastered dubs with their previously estranged vocal progenitors, producers Linval Thompson and Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes deliver crucial selections of classic Roots Radics propelled rhythms recorded at Channel One and mixed by Scientist at King Tubby’s, restored to full majesty over six double wax sets: Junjo Presents ‘Heavyweight Dub Champion’, ‘Big Showdown’, ‘The Evil Curse Of The Vampires’ and ‘Wins The World Cup’, whilst Linval Presents ‘Meets The Space Invaders’ and ‘Encounters Pac Man’. Featuring a host of iconic vocal performances by the likes of Barrington Levy, Ranking Joe, Jah Thomas, Clint Eastwood, Michael Prophet, Johnny Osborne, Wailing Souls, Sammy Dread, The Viceroys, Toyan, Eek-A-Mouse and The Meditations, amongst a shining host of others, these reissues are proving to be a revelation here in the trakMARX bunker. Imagine this approach catching on for other dub classics, such as the African Dub Almighty series, the Cry Tuff Dub Encounter series, or King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown. Food for thought, mobsters!

http://greensleeves.tmstor.es

Jean Encoule - May 14th, 2016

Expressway Through My Skull

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A Column

If a saxophone falls and there’s no woman there to abuse a pedal steel guitar, is it still jazz? That’s a question I found myself pondering last week in Salford, as I witnessed free-jazz legend Peter Brötzmann misuse reeds alongside unorthodox pedal steel sorceress, Heather Leigh. Promoting the duo’s remarkable debut release, ‘Ears Are Filled With Wonder’ (Not Two Records), this unlikely pair enraptured a packed Islington Mill with their stunning concoctions of improvisational beauty, expanded from 2015’s ‘On The Road’ material. As Leigh veered from clean to distorted plucking, Brötzmann blew tenor, bass, and B-flat clarinet. Leigh’s pedal steel made like Rhodri Davies‘ harp circa ‘An Air Swept Clean Of All Distance’ at the front of the set, morphing towards ‘Wound Response’ by the close. Mesmerising throughout, this was a performance of majesty from masters/mistresses of their respective arts. Brötzmann is enjoying yet another renaissance: idolised in the mid-90s by the likes of Thurston Moore, seemingly seduced by Hamid Drake’s ear-shattering backbeat; later by the 3rd generation NY/Chicago avant garde (Vandermark, O’Rourke, etc); and later still by his old euro-mates, veterans from the glory days of free musics, the man has made more comebacks than Billy Childish! It was both a pleasure and a privilege to meet a true evolutionary hero of the counterculture, keeping it real into his 70s! Old is the new young, whippersnappers.

http://www.nottwo.com/#!mw940/klg52

Having been glued to my television set for weeks throughout the early months of this year, enthralled by Icelandic noire gem, ‘Trapped’, I was beguiled enough by the program’s soundtrack to engage with it’s creators: Jóhann Jóhannsson and  Hildur Guðnadóttir. Jóhannsson, an Icelandic composer, works in minimalist, neo-classical, drone and electronic disciplines, and has scored a host of impressive movie soundtracks, most notably for ‘Theory Of Everything’ and ‘Sicario’. Guðnadóttir, on the other hand, is a fellow Icelandic cello player and singer who emerged from the forefront of the experimental pop underground, originally as a member of Icelandic envelope-stretchers, múm. Her solo work draws a broad spectrum of sounds from her cello, ranging from intimate simplicity to huge Icelandic soundscapes, augmented by her unique vocals, and subtle shades of electronica. I’ve been immersed in Guðnadóttir’s fourth solo long player, ‘Saman’ (Touch, 2014), as a consequence of all this, and I find myself trapped in a vortex of resonance.

https://hildurgudnadottir.bandcamp.com/album/saman

Both artists will be appearing at the Conway Hall, London, on 16/04/16, for a performance of Jóhannsson’s ’12 Conversations with Thilo Heinzmann’ by a quartet comprising: Thomas Gould (violin) Sara Wolstenhome (violin) Ruth Gibson (viola) and Peter Gregson (cello); and ‘Prepared Listening’, a solo contemplation composed and performed by Guðnadóttir.

http://johannjohannsson.com

http://www.hildurness.com

http://conwayhall.org.uk

Meanwhile, in another conceptual universe, alchemically created by welding Guðnadóttir’s ‘Saman’ to Áine O’Dwyer‘s ‘Music For Church Cleaners: Vol. I and II’ (MIE), Vanessa Amara, the duo of Birk Gjerlufsen and Victor Kjellerup, follow-up their 2014 vinyl debut, ‘Both of Us/King Machine’ (Posh Isolation), with ‘You’re Welcome Here’ (Posh Isolation), a work that exponentially exploits the already massive potential of their previous efforts to forge a veritable galaxy of wanderlust. Gainfully employing church organ, a string quartet, tape hiss, and a bank of justified but ancient synthesizers, ‘You’re Welcome Here’ is a suite of seven compositions that break new ground for contemporary chamber music. If much of Posh Isolation’s output has been dubbed ‘bubblegum industrial’, then this is ’emotional drone': immediate; arresting; intimidating; engaging; emotive; overwhelming; intense and affecting. This would already appear to be sold out direct from Posh Isolation, so do yourself a favour, and grab a copy from Boomkat, before it’s too late:

https://boomkat.com/products/you-re-welcome-here

Finally, April is a month pregnant with expectation for this soldier, as I avidly await the arrival of the third long player from Fire! Orchestra: ‘Ritual’ (Rune Grammofon). When I met Mats Gustafsson briefly following the recent Fire! performance at Cafe Oto, he was positively gushing with excitement at its impending release. Earlier on stage that night, his self-depreciating sense of humour had lumped both the trio and the orchestra’s work into one homogenous basket, but that’s blatantly a massive over-simplification. According to Gustafson: “this one is the bomb!”. According to Rune Grammofon: “Fire! Orchestra have outdone themselves, and produced a beast of beauty and power: extremely well executed; beautifully recorded; and produced from only two days in the studio! Free improvisations, spontaneous horns, keyboard frenzy, abstract electronics, guitar mayhem and not to forgetting those glorious twin voices of Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg. It´s about mysteries and rituals; in music and in life”.

http://www.runegrammofon.com/artists/fire_/rcd2182-fire-orchestra-ritual-2lp-cd/

Jean Encoule - April 7th, 2016

Fire! – Cafe Oto – 26/03/16

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Fire! And Water!

Fire! and water. Opposites. Attract. Sunshine. Friday. Stormy. Saturday. Two seasons in two days. The planet warming. Someone’s lying. Rain lashes. Across the central reservation. Small orange Toyata. Speeds south. Relentless. Eating the M40. Like tarmac spaghetti. Digesting miles. Cranking Miles. ‘Bitches Brew’. Spills from the speakers. Clipping the edges of distortion. The hangover kid slumbers. Somewhere in our molecules. The anticipation. Of something. Of something special. Something radical. Something radically special. Crawling. Past Euston. Past Marylebone. Onwards King’s Cross. Station to station. Heading due East. To the land of beards. To the land of cereals. Acres of tweed. And plaid. Fields of golden nuggets. Somewhere near Capital Radio. We cross the Tottenham Court Road. Rapid burst of what sounds like automatic gunfire? The hangover kid. At once alert! Shock! Awe! Two hearts. Skip beats. As one. Browning M2? An engine? A pneumatic drill? A Kango? Nothing on the radio. Silence is the code. Static strafes the airwaves. We. Will. Never. Know. Tension mounts. The traffic. The fucking traffic. Even at 8pm at night. Does this need to be somewhere sooner rather than later never end? Through Highbury and Islington. Further East. Past the Macdonald’s where the drunken lady pretended to be sober. Deep into Dalston. Up the junction. Last few hundred metres. On foot. Satnav locked onto Cafe Oto. Twenty yards. Ten yards. In the yard. In the door: 8.30pm. Digging through the crates. I could drop a pony. Easy. Coke in bottle. The hangover kid smokes. Out on the veranda. Two hundred sharp dressed shadows flit across the backlit brick walls. Mingling. Expectantly. 9pm: stage time. Polite house introduction. Ladies and gentleman: Fire! And then they are here. Mats Gustafsson (saxophone and electronics), Johan Berthling (electric bass guitar), and Andreas Werliin (drums). Attack! Attack! Werliin drops a beat. Berthling assaults his bass. Switching from pick to thumb. Dexterity personified. Gustafasson skronks. He howls. He barks. He huffs. He puffs. He blows the house down. From time to time. Squiggles. Bleeps. Sonic punctuation. Squall. Recognition. Jams lifted from ‘You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago'; much from ‘(Without Noticing)'; a soupçon of ‘She Sleeps, She Sleeps'; a cover vershun. A homage.  A tribute. A first. Apparently. ‘Would I Whip’ antagonises the audience. To sway. Perchance to groove. Caps doff. Hats at an ever-jauntier angle. Sweat drips. Heads nod. Chins be-stroked. Eyes closed in wonder. Imaginations fired. As the notes run. Wild. Fire! And skill. Placing much of what has come before on this soldier’s journey firmly in the shade. Hold on. Hold on! No more rock’n’roll. What a con. Silly little leopard skins on. Les Paul singy-song-song. Nah. Up and beyond. Over the wall. Gonna break out of this city. Another world. Another planet. The time has come. There will be no more looking over the shoulder from here on in. The future lies ahead down the highway. The past is another county. Fire! is here. Fire! is now.

http://earthwindand.com/wp/

http://matsgus.com

http://matsgus.com/discaholic_corner/

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Jean Encoule - March 27th, 2016

Not Bored!

RSG6-piger

 

 

A column

We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!

Fire! are a Nordic psych-jazz power-trio, comprised of Mats Gustafsson (saxophones and Fender Rhodes), Johan Berthling (bass, electric guitar and Hammond organ), and Andreas Werliin (drums). Together, they weld free-jazz to post-rock with molten noise, soldering psychedelic flirtation to improvisational menace with freeform abandon.

Formed in 2009 in Stockholm, Fire! debuted on wax later that same year, with the five-track album, ‘You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago’ (Rune Grammofon). In 2010, Fire! collaborated with Jim O’Rourke, birthing ‘Fire! With Jim O’Rourke – Unreleased?’ (Rune Grammofon), twelve months later in 2011. 2012 saw further collaboration, this time with Australian multi-instrumentalist, Oren Ambarchi, resulting in the album ‘Fire! With Oren Ambarchi – In The Mouth – A Hand’ (Rune Grammofon). 2013 subsequently delivered ‘(Without Noticing)’ (Rune Grammofon), my current favourite Fire! LP, recorded and mixed at Summa, Stockholm, in the winter of 2012/2013, inspired by Bill Callahan‘s letters to Emma Bowlcut.

In 2013, Fire! were augmented by a further 28-mucicians from the Scandinavian jazz, improvisational, and avant-rock scenes, supplementing their core sound with vocals, trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, bass sax, baritone sax clarinet, bass clarinet, guimbri, guitar, synthesizer, harmonium, piano, organ, keyboards, electronics, electric bass, acoustic bass, and drums . . . Fire! Orchestra was born. This expansion has so far born two long-players, ‘Exit!’ (Rune Grammofon, 2013) and ‘Enter!’ (Rune Grammofon, 2014), with a third, ‘Ritual’, due on Rune Grammofon on 29/04/16.

My own entry came recently, via Fire!’s 2016 album, ‘She Sleeps, She Sleeps’ (Rune Grammofon), a four-theme excursion on the flexibility of free-jazz parameters, re-imagined as drone-core. Their sparsest work to date, ‘She Sleeps, She Sleeps’ is an intoxicating abstraction, one that acts as the perfect introduction to this criminally underrated outfit.

Further digging around in the metaphorical crates led me in turn to The Thing, Gustafsson’s main squeeze, and another power-trio, this time with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). Blatantly, I jumped straight in, immediately tracking down The Thing’s most recent two-disc set, ‘Shake’ (The Thing Records/TROST). Recorded in June 2015 by Jørgen Træen at Duper studios in Bergen, Norway, and mixed by Gustafsson’s Fire! compadres, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werlin, ‘Shake’ is The Thing’s most expansive and varied album to date: a veritable smorgasbord of experimental jazz toppings.

http://matsgus.com

http://matsgus.com/discaholic_corner/

https://thingjazz.bandcamp.com

http://thethingrecords.com

http://www.runegrammofon.com

http://earthwindand.com/wp/

Further immersion in all things free-jazz finds me washed up on the northern shores of Swedish label, Omlott, home of NeutralAnna Högberg AttackPeeter UuskylaKonstruktSpjärnsvallet, Peter Brötzmann (he of ‘Machine Gun’ infamy) and Dog Life. My research into their roster is still in it’s infancy, admittedly, but I have already fallen for Anna Högberg Attack, whose s/t debut album is described by Mats Gustafsson thus:

“Attacking the now. The instant. The music. Attacking your image of what. Is. Music. Attacking the past. The history. What is now. Attack is all. Don’t hold back. Ever. Curiousness and initiative is all. And attack. The attack mode. 6-Swedes attacking it all, with a front of 3-sax players, not holding back. Attacking the mystery of it all. 6-defined personalities and creative voices with feet and minds in jazz, improvised music and related experimental matters. Togetherness. A real unit of creativity. Of poetic beauty. Anna Högberg as a modern free jazz standard bearer keeping it all together – her rich alto sax leading the ensemble into layers of high octane outbursts and sensational melodic variations. Her tone being able to cut landscapes open, to melt your brain as we know it. Check the two tenor sax axes out! Elin Forkelid Larsson and Malin Wättring knows how to attack matters – how to structure solos and ensemble work with intense warmth and melodic beauty. Seldom have I heard such warm and rich sounding tenors in Scandinavia. The time is here. The attack attack! Drummer Anna Lund punctuating the flow… attacking it all. Laying fundaments of possibilities for the others. The attack attack! Pianist Lisa Ullén adding her thorny, but detailed phrases to the picture. The picture of the attack attack.
And last but not least. The attack attack of deep sounding bass maestro Elsa Bergman. With an unusaul imagination of how to position her own language and bass lines into a collective
of attacking free jazz. Freeing the jazz. Attacking the jazz. The attack attack!”

http://www.omlott.se

Elsewhere, I’ve been banging away at Kamasi Washington‘s suitably titled ‘The Epic’ (Brainfeeder), the three-hour, triple-vinyl colossus I’ve been dipping in and out of ever since it dropped, back in May of 2015. Washington’s involvement with superstar MC Kendrick Lamar‘s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ unsurprisingly intensified the shower of ‘End-Of Year’ plaudits that rained down on ‘The Epic’ come close of play 2015, and it’s taken me the best part of 9-months to fully digest the depth and breadth of this monster of post-modern big band jazz. Encapsulating elements of the Coltranes (John and Alice), Miles Davis, and Pharaoh Sanders, ‘The Epic’ embraces choral embellishment, sweet soul music and R&B suss, at roughly the point in time where jazz first fucked funk, as it touches every base on the way to classicism.

http://www.kamasiwashington.com

Finally, I’m being released into the community again soon to witness Fire! live at Cafe Oto on 26/03/16. Maybe I’ll see you there. Maybe I won’t.

https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/events/fire-march-2016/

Jean Encoule - March 14th, 2016

Heavy Souls

What Can’t You See?

HS cover

 

Eighteen months ago, power duo Heavy Souls unleashed a raw, sprawling debut album that established their credentials as fat free, no-frills blues rock exponents of some merit. A testament to their creative fecundity, the sixteen track set crackled with enthusiasm and ideas. A year and a half down the line, those ideas have had time to mutate under the lambent glow of Guy Harandon (Guitar/Vocals) and Phillip Dolbear (Drums/Voodoo)’s dustbowl radiation.

A half dozen screaming mandrakes have taken root; the disc’s eponymous opener roars in like a barroom brawl between Blue Cheer and the Seeds, this kinesis producing a powerhouse garage rocker that snakes across the space between speaker and ear. Dark light flashes of dirty rock’n’roll are further illuminated by Guy’s eyeball-rotating vocal as the track slithers toward its climatic boiling lava instrumental break. ‘Addiction’ is equally serpentine, insinuating itself into the consciousness and creating a sense of encroaching claustrophobia by compressing space and time through a series of assured tempo changes. Any sense of restraint is abandoned as the track’s sonic attack lead break detonates ahead of the home straight.

By contrast, ‘Three Dog Night’ is an exercise in subtle shading. Supported on a propulsive bed of rhythmic mortar charges, the number uncoils as a loose-limbed boogeyman boogie that reaches periodic peaks of pulsar grade mass and impetus. Standout track ‘Haunted’ begins at the church of Dr Phibes, the organ giving way to a reflective groove, before the gas hits the flame and globs of white striped ectoplasm are ejected by the ghost in the drum/guitar machine.

Less of a blues, more of a sultry bump’n’grind, ‘Tuesday Blues’ is a voodoo rhythm shakedown that thunders, skitters, rocks and rolls its way toward a towering climax. Billed as a bonus cut, ‘Fun Loving Girl’ stands proud on its own merit. A sawdust floor twister that kicks up a dust storm of savage desire, the track pays testament to Phil’s witchcraft rhythms. The dust settles on our sweaty bodies…

Engorged by such sex beats, trakMARX cornered Phil and Guy at the crossroads to find out more:

For the uninitiated, tell us about the Secret Origin of Heavy Souls…

Phil: Like most modern romances we met online. We were both looking to start an original project but our influences and what we’re into are a bit odd for our age range. It’s tough to find a bunch of relatively young people that are into old school rhythm and blues. Went for a pint, had a jam, and recorded 26 tracks about a month and a half later. It was all weirdly easy.

That first album was something of an epic, how do you perceive it now?

Phil: We recorded the whole thing in two and a half days. It was a great experience but didn’t really reflect our sound at the time. Guy was playing through a monster bass cab called ‘Bertha’ and my kit was a lot more complicated than it is now. There was monstrous bottom end but it just didn’t come through on the recording. We were both still finding our sound. That’s something we’ve both worked really hard on. Listening back to it now it doesn’t really sound like us. We’ve moved on. Guy’s vocals have changed tremendously.

Have you kept much of that material in the set?

Phil: Our set is pretty much a lottery every time. We try to play the new stuff and the odd older song like ‘Tea’ or ‘No.7’, but often jam out something new on the spot or play something only one of us knows. It meeps us both on our toes. We do have printed set lists – but we don’t read them. Fun Loving Girl is kind of a staple though. It’s a good warm up.

HS2

 

How do you feel you’re developing in terms of the live show?

Phil: Anything can happen on the night really. We don’t think through what we’re going to do: who takes a solo and when etc. It just sort of happens. We should probably start considering pyrotechnics and dancers though. Possibly more orange as well.

Do you feel that the gigs have contributed to the development from the album to the new EP, or has that primarily been achieved through rehearsals?

Phil: We gigged tons last year though so we’re really comfortable live. It’s the whole point really. We only record what we can do live. Not big fans of overproduced stuff.

Guy: Especially with vocals. Live I would say; practicing live – trial-by-fire style.

How did the recording process for the EP play out?

Guy: Literally, we turned up at John Cornfields place, set up and started playing. Everything on the EP as you hear it was recorded live in one day. It was awesome, John’s a legend, although we got lost trying to find his place.

Phil: John was able to do everything we wanted with almost zero prompting. Nice and raw. No effects or overdubs. Just a quality live recording.

The new EP seems to have more garage influences, was this a conscious thing?

Phil: I was just having fun hitting stuff, though the new EP is much more reflective of the pace we play at live. We tend to go flat out a lot of the time. Sometimes it gets hazardous.

Guy: I don’t know if it was a conscious thing or not. With me, when it comes to writing I have no genre in mind, it just flows – as arrogant as that sounds.

What kind of reactions to the EP have you been getting?

Phil: EP reactions have been universally good. I’m waiting for the savage mauling. We just need as much feedback as possible. It’s good to get peer review and comments to work with. People love the cat. We should definitely have a greater cat focus.

Guy: The reactions are uplifting, to say the least. I had a dream the other night that we had to change the artwork so we just changed it to a portrait of my cat.

What’s up next?

Phil: I’m trying to arrange a mini tour of the Midlands via Bristol. It’s a way off yet though. We’ve kind of missed the festival boat this year. Our talents aren’t in sales and promotion unfortunately. We need a Patrick Bateman to do that stuff for us.

Heavy Souls on Facebook 

Heavy Souls on Soundcloud

Dick Porter - March 3rd, 2016