Album Reviews

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Album Reviews

LP Of The Issue:

Mayhem – “Live In Leipzig” (Peaceville)

Fuck Sid! Fuck Nancy! Fuck the Sex Pistols! Those guys were pussies compared to Mayhem. Give me a singer that slashes his wrists and then blows his brains out when he’s not dying quick enough! Give me a bass player that murders the guitarist instead of his junkie girlfriend . . .

The word legendary could well have been invented to prefix the words “Live In Leipzig”. To those who were there or thereabouts at the time, the line-up of Dead (vocals), Euronymous (guitar), Necrobutcher (bass) & Hellhammer (drums) represents what the faithful will always regard as The True Mayhem! “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” may well command opinion as Norwegian BM’s finest recorded moment, but in the authenticity stakes, “Live In Leipzig” is destined to remain the Unholy Grail for any serious aficionado of the discipline.

Recorded at the Eiskeller, Leipzig, East Germany, on the 26th of November 1990, “Live In Leipzig” captures Mayhem at their brutal best. Call it Death Metal. Call it Death on the cusp of Black. Call it filthy, dirty, blackened punk rock and roll. Call it whatever the fuck you want. This is feral: Euronymous’ guitar drips with the pure essence of death, Necrobutcher’s gargantuan bass nails your feet to the floor, Hellhammer’s relentless pummelling slaps you repeatedly round the face like a freshly caught Rainbow Trout. Over this pure fucking Armageddon, vocalist Dead sounds inhuman.

Not surprisingly, as a human being, Dead was described by his fellow band-mates as ‘barely alive’ at the best of times. He would bury clothing out in the woods for days, then dig it up & wear it onstage, complete with accessories: mud, twigs, insects, etc! He carried a dead crow around in a plastic bag! He’d inhale the vapours before hitting the stage! He liked his nostrils to be alive to the stench of death. He believed it aided his performance. He hung pig’s heads from his mic stand! To say the guy was obsessed with death is to miss the point: Dead was death . . . or at least a living incarnation of death! Check out Mayhem’s rehearsal performance of “The Freezing Moon” on You Tube for visual evidence:

Featuring 9-cuts & spanning 45-minutes, “Live In Leipzig” features both “Pure Fucking Armageddon” & “Deathcrush” – from the demo LPs of the same name - as well as 4-songs that would eventually form the nucleus of “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”: “Funeral Fog”, “The Freezing Moon”, “Buried By Time & Dust” & “Pagan Fears”.

The True Mayhem remain blackened metal’s ultimate outsider statement - & “Live In Leipzig” allows you to pretend you were there! Go & dig up that chicken-blood-splattered t-shirt you buried last week, stick a rotting pig’s head on the coffee table, light a few candles . . . & turn off the lights!

Pure Fucking Armageddon? Bring it on, motherfucker . . . bring it on!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Glorior Belli – “Manifesting The Raging Beast” (Southern Lord)

Second full-length outing from French blackened metalic horde, Glorior Belli. Formed in 2002, the group debuted with their demo recording, “Evil Archaic Order”, in the summer of 2004, before dropping their archaically evil debut LP, “O Laudate Dominus”, almost a year later, in May of 2005. “Manifesting The Raging Beast”, then, shatters the subsequent two-year deathly silence with a set of 8-chunkily-grimm excursions into the dark:

“From Darkness There Spring Light”
“Deadly Sparks”
“Sinister Resonance”
“Severed From the Self”
“Manifesting the Raging Beast”
“Said Lucifer in Twilight”
“Serpentine Admonition”
“Altered Verses”

In terms of inspiration & influence, Glorior Belli revel in traditional Norwegian wood flavoured blackened metal, marinated in death & preserved in aspic. Their low temperature aural vistas may not be the kvltest grimmoires on the block right now, but the epic tendencies of “Manifesting The Raging Beast” offer devastatingly effective brutality for those less hung up on being true! Vokillist & guitarist, Infestuus, growls, wheezes & hacks his way through these 8-mainstream worrying vignettes like a long distance runner with emphysema! His deep-frozen riffs hang low on the mix like icicles, his expressive solos provide the melodic detail buried (in a shallow grave?) just beneath the snow. Drummer, MA Fog, powers this incessant juggernaut with blasted beatitude & a blizzard of cymbals! Further below the cacophony rumbles the ever-present bass of Dispater, a leviathan beneath the murky waves of resonating guitar strings & guttural growls.

Highlights include “Said Lucifer In Twilight” & “Severed From The Self” . . . but, having said that, like most brutal misanthropy, the ultimate experience can only be fully appreciated as a whole. Alongside Blut Aus Nord, Antaeus & Arkhon Infaustus, Glorior Belli are proof that the current renaissance in French underground rock is continuing apace. When you factor in parallel operations in the alternative sector: Cheveu, Johnny Boy, This Is Pop, etc . . . then we’re left in no doubt whatsoever that France kicks considerable arse just now.

Vive La Revolution! Vive La France!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Turisas – “The Varangian Way” (Century Media Records)

Finland is to Folk/Viking Metal what Norway is to BM . . . & Turisas march in the sizeable footprints already left in the global consciousness by fellow Finns, Finntroll & Ensiferum . . . beyond the borders of their home territories . . . to bring their unique brand of Battle Metal to the ignorant, the uninitiated & the bored. To many, Viking Metal as a genre has already perished below the waves of relevance, drowned by a sea of ennui & a ton of falling Manowar LPs (note to trendsetters: a sticker on the display copy of Manowar’s latest epic, “Gods Of War”, in my ‘local’ record shop declares: Real Metal – Not For Poseurs!), but the fact that Turisas & others have re-floated it on the cultural stock exchange so successfully since the dawn of the new millennium suggests that war paint, animal skins & shields will dominate the catwalks of Paris, Rome & Croydon well into the next decade

“The Varangian Way” is Turisas’ second LP, following, as it undoubtedly does, their functional 2004 debut, “Battle Metal”. Blending traditional Finnish folk music, BM intensity & crushing power, this Battle Metal is as rousing as Mel Gibson warming up his extras on the set of Braveheart. Conceptually, the LP follows the epic journeys South along the Varangian Way regularly undertaken by brave Finnish warriors of old: in song . . . with choirs, with trumpets, with orchestral flourishes, with narratives!

Opener, “To Holmgard And Beyond”, sets the benchmark for next 43-minutes with precision. Four bars in, & I was scouring the Yellow Pages, letting my fingers do the walking . . . there must be a Viking Warrior’s Outfitters somewhere in the West Midlands, surely? Sadly, I had to restrict myself to a few flourishes with my trusty (& very, very, sharp . . . NB – Solihull Health & Safety) Bronze Age Replica Broadsword. Pah! The settee was no substitute for a ship’s prow, either! And I’d run out of mead!

If “Battle Metal” sounded like a tall story to you . . . “Varangian Way” is something more convincing altogether. Like a multi-storey car park full of Heralds, “Varangian Way” triumphs on every level: bigger, bolder, broader, stronger . . . better equipped for battle in every sense! Live, Turisas’ fiddler holds his audience agog with cries of: “fuck the guitar solos!” - before doing his impression of Hendrix on violin through a 1000-fuzzboxes.

Yeah, man! Fuck the guitar solos! Check out the horn section on that mother!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Earth – “Hibernaculum” (Southern Lord)

To many, Dylan Carlson is known simply as: ‘the guy who bought the shotgun for Kurdt’!

Around about the time the world & his wife were getting all geeked up about Nirvana, Sub-Pop Records & “Touch Me, I’m Sick”, considerably less paying customers were swapping their hard-earned spondulicks for a copy of Earth’s debut EP, "Extra Capsular Extraction"(1991). Un-phased by their lack of immediate recognition, Earth continued to spin regardless, & by the time they dropped “Earth 2” (1993) . . . they’d only gone & invented a genre all of their own: drone!

Named after a discarded nomenclature originally the intellectual property of a nascent Black Sabbath, the first incarnation of Earth eventually ground to a halt in 1996, shortly after releasing “Penastar: In The Style Of Demons”, the group’s most traditionally rock-shaped release thus far (and roughly 2-years after the death of Cobain). The commercial rape of the art that purported to answer to the name Grunge left a decidedly sour taste on the pallets of many of those involved, & our still to be canonised saints of the avant garde melted back into the underground that had spawned them like seasoned chameleons. Following a hiatus of nigh on 9-years, Earth returned to the fore in 2002, as a duo: Carlson & drummer, Adrienne Davies, with a new stripped down sound! Gone was the deeply textured, trance-inducing fuzz of earlier drones, replaced instead, with broad brushstrokes of seasoned Americana, retaining all the portent & implied heaviness of old, but bringing a little light to the shade for good measure.

Earth finally cast themselves adrift from their heritage with the release of "Hex; or Printing in the Infernal Method", on Southern Lord Records (the label run by self-styled ‘Earth Tribute Band’, sunn0))) . . .) in 2005! It was viewed as a strong return by students of the Sabbath/Melvins school of advanced doom, yet shunned by the more Neanderthal reaches of the populist metal front (“Are you the Popular People’s Front Of Metal Judea?” – “Fuck Off! We’re The People’s Populist Metal Judean Front!”).

"Hibernaculum", then, is a very special package indeed, featuring, as it does, a CD & a DVD.

Let’s deal with the audio material first:

Disc 1: Audio

“Ouroboros Is Broken”
“Coda Maestoso In F (Flat) Minor”
“Miami Morning Coming Down”
“A Plague Of Angels”

The first three songs are re-workings of earlier Earth tunes re-imagined in the “Hex” style – the fourth, “A Plague Of Angels”, was previously only available as a (by now) ultra-rare tour 12” split with sunn0))) – presumably available at a highly inflated price on Ebay, as the elevation of sunn0))) to the summit of collector’s holy mountain continues apace. To these ears, all four pieces extend, develop yet maintain the metaphors employed on “Hex” beyond the realms of soundtrack: this is a far more balanced record than it’s predecessor. Where “Hex” felt overcrowded & spatially compromised, Hibernaculum", feels natural . . . in tune & at one with the flora & fauna that decorate it’s sleeve.

Disc 2: DVD – “Within The Drone”

A documentary by Seldon Hunt, filmed on the group’s 2006 European tour: intimate & insightful in equal measure . . . this is the first time footage of the rejuvenated Earth has been released commercially. Carlson laconically drawls his way through several attempts of define the creative process behind Earth’s art, interspersed with grainy shots of assorted European motorways, live footage & a whole shed-load of mumbling. Beautifully packaged, both on vinyl & CD, “Hibernaculum" is another exemplary release from an already essential label, & further proof, if any were needed, that Earth are this planet’s primary avant-experimental innovators, par excellence!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

KTL – “KTL2” (Edtions Mego)

KTL were founded by Stephen O'Malley (SunnO)))) & Peter Rehberg (Pita) to create music for a theatre production entitled Kindertotenlieder (Gisele Vienne & Dennis Cooper). The production premiered in Brest, France, in March 2007, but by then KTL had already outgrown it’s soundtrack-side-project status, & had even scared the shit out of a few Isis fans too!

KTL’s self-titled debut was released to critical acclaim back in 2006. Featuring 6-pieces of brooding introspection, the overall feel was one of darkness: layers of blackened guitar chords interspersed with bleeps & scrapes. Recorded during the same sessions as “KTL” – a former abattoir in Angers & a 16th century manor house in the extreme West of France – “KTL2” promises “an upgrade both artistically & emotionally”.

Where “KTL” focused on the dark, “KTL2” deals with the half-light between light & dark, & is suitably musically ‘lighter’ as a consequence. There is beauty here too, albeit a fragile elegance elongated beyond recognition that could fracture into a thousand shards at any given moment. The psychedelic slideshow that is “Abattoir” dominates the record: a 27-minute ride on the devil’s own merry-go-round!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Lesbian – “Power Hor” (Holy Mountain)

Lesbian are so named because Venom, Motorhead & a whole bunch of other cool names had already been taken. Hailing from Seattle, Americashire, Lesbian are being hailed as the saviours of New American Psychedelic Metal: or so says the sticker on the cover! Who am I to disagree? Psychedelic? Schizophrenic? It’s all the same to me (though, to be fair, no one ever accused Mogwai of single-handedly saving New Scottish Psychedelic Metal with “Mr Beast”).

As it is, & I mean this from the heart of my bottom, Lesbian have dropped two of the most entertaining sides of vinyl I’ve had the pleasure to ‘mullet’ over for some time. Incorporating most styles of metal: black, death, thrash, progressive, traditional – Lesbian are set to keep the international brigade of pigeon-holers up all night. Veering from heads-down-no-nonsense-heaviness to blissed-out-backwards-guitar-heaven in one foul swoop, keeps listener & musician alike permanently on their toes. One minute you could be listening to Tortoise stuffed with diced Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the next . . . the walls have caved in and raw evil is seeping in through the soil that is subsuming you!

There are those out there that say that Lesbian have bitten off more than they can chew with “Power Hor”, that indulgence is a sin, & that there are others out there doing this kind of schtick better. I’d just like to point out that I am not one of those arseholes . . . & that Lesbian duly rule. Erm, Dude!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Strange Death Of Liberal England – “Forward March!” (Fantastic Plastic)

Fantastic Plastic finally nail the group they’ve rightfully deserved on their roster all along to the flagpole of their burning ambition. The Strange Death Of Liberal England, you see, are the latest by-product of the eternal Atlantic Ping-Pong-Effect that has been shaping the hinterlands of our indigenous populist culture since America sold us Rock & Roll - & we sent them back Skiffle as an interim payment until our Beatles matured!

To a generation raised on Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Constellation Records & Broken Social Scene, The Strange Death Of Liberal England are going to make nothing but perfect, linear sense. Musically, a conglomerate of all-of-the-above, TSDOLE are also shot through with a heavy dosage of traditional folk values: songs veer from the giddy heights of contemporary instrumental sonic expression to gingerly picked or defiantly strummed slivers of a slightly more mature record collection nestling somewhere behind the Explosions In The Sky LPs. The ace up TSDOLE’s collective sleeve, however, is their vocal approach: a massed terrace-choir of mildly unruly, intrinsically middle-class, West Country flavoured, boy-shares-mic-with-girl-style yelps, complete with all the attendant subdued aggression/barely-concealed angst of a militant trainee-librarians team-building exercise in Exeter!

“Forward March!”, then, is TSDOLE’s debut 8-track affair . . . the kind of thing we used to call a mini-LP back in the days when the earth was still widely considered to be flat. Thankfully, all the songs have names, namely:

1. “Modern Folk Song”
2. “Oh Solitude”
3. “A Day Another Day”
4. “An Old Fashioned War”
5. “Mozart on 33”
6. “I Saw Evil”
7. “God Damn Broke and Broken Hearted
8. “Summer Gave us Sweets but Autumn Wrought Division”

. . . & are afforded a handy numerical reference that could be construed as the running order hinted at above! The observant amongst you may spot the inclusion of previous 45 “A Day Another Day” (fervently celebrated in tMx 29 by none other than Guy Debored himself) as well as the excellent current 45, “Oh Solitude”.

In the current climate of anonymity that passes for zeitgeist-07, TSDOLE effortlessly glide on the thermals circulating randomly above the hot air expelled by the Arcade Fireplace & their mainstream-worrying ilk. The Strange Death Of Liberal England offer a path of intellectual righteousness with a fervent streak of individualism rarely found amongst those so young.

Jean Encoule – tMx 30 – 07/07

Final Warning – “PDX” (Southern Lord)

Final Warning erupted out of Portland, Oregon, back in 1982. Influenced by the Germs, The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Discharge, GBH & Disorder, Final Warning attempted to weld West Coast Hardcore to UK Hardcore (Stoke Division). Whether you view this amalgamation of two distinctly similar sub-genres from two distinctly different continents with indifference, as I do, or consider it to be the greatest meeting of minds since Chomsky met Will Self, it doesn’t really matter, because Southern Lord have packaged it all beautifully, & started telling anyone who’ll listen that Final Warning are the genetic link between Punk & Metal. Glad they got that sorted out!

Featuring 5-studio cuts: 1-4 from the “Final Warning EP” – cut-5 from the Portland Punk Comp, “Drinking Is Great” (Fatal Erection Records) – plus 11-tracks recorded live at the Starry Night, Portland, in 1984 – “PDX” claims to be the only one-stop Final Warning LP you’re ever going to need! Me? I’m too bored to argue!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

Pawlowski/Trouve/Ward – “Pawlowski/Trouve/Ward” (Jesus Factory Records)

At one time or another over the last 15-odd-years, Mauro Pawlowski, Rudy Trouve & Craig Ward have all played guitar for Belgian alt.rock genii, dEUS! They collaborate here for the first time to deliver 21-cuts of eclectic experimentalism, incorporating acoustic melody, electronic interference & rampant creativity. The main prerequisite for the construction of this unique LP was that each contributor should submit 20-minutes of solo music from whatever planet they elected to mine their inspiration.

Craig Ward bookends the LP with two drone based pieces – “All Is Mask” & “Attus Ksam Si Lla” – the former a mish mash of sunnO))) shaped bottom end, quarrelling instruments & random muttering, the latter a Coltrane infected high intensity skronk!

Rudy Trouve takes the path of least resistance for his 10-contributions, employing a ‘field recording’ approach that is pregnant with warmth, infused with a folk sensibility & informed by a suitably sympathetic appreciation of world music. Highlights include the perfectly formed “Sometimes I Hear Voices”, the gorgeously plaintive “Dreams” & the crankily grubby “Logical Order”.

Completing this eccentric triumvirate, Mauro Pawlowski elects for an electronic approach, mashing up Suicide-al tendencies & filth for his 10-slab contribution, like a one-man-electronic-MC5-for-the-noughties! “Laughing Version”, “Nudity”, “Death, A Physical Disaster” . . . the hits just don’t stop! Sonically, the most compelling section of the record as a whole, Pawlowski’s wicked way with buried melody & fractured structure is compelling, to say the least.

Jean Encoule – tMx 30 – 07/07

Piana – “Eternal Castle” (Noble Records)

“Eternal Castle” is unequivocally, unquestionably gorgeous! If you prefer your female vocalists to reference artists of the calibre & expressive ability of Stina Nordenstam, Kate Bush or Bjork, then you will doubtless fall head over heels in love with “Eternal Castle” on first listen.

“Eternal Castle”, Piana’s third full-length outing since her career began in 2000, is her first for Noble Records: 8-sparkling, gemstone-like compositions of exceptional maturity, “Eternal Castle” inspires hope in a world of pessimism. Piana’s fragile songs ring out like peels of bells, resonating in the mind long after the listening experience has ended. There is a soporific quality to “Eternal Castle” that washes your senses like morphine washes pain.

Regardless of the confines of language, “Eternal Castle” speaks to us all in the universal language of joy. It concerns itself with satisfaction from the simple things in life, satiation of a less complexed nature, there is a uncluttered populist core than runs through “Eternal Castle” as if it were a stick of rock, a seam of gold in a mountain range of solid rock. Instrumentally, cellos, violins, guitars, pianos & organs all vie for our attention, competing, as they inevitably always must, with Piana’s simply stunning vocal range!

“Eternal Castle” is the kind of aural triumph rarely heard in these hollow & vapid times. Embrace it like it were your own offspring . . . & clutch it tightly to your broken hearts. Love has the power to heal . . . & “Eternal Castle” is most definitely a labour of love!

Jean Encoule – tMx 30 – 07/07

Ufomammut/LentO – “Supernaturals – Record One” (Supernatural Cat)

Italy’s Ufomammut & Lento collaborate for the opening assault in their planned series of Supernatural recordings. Comprising 6-tracks & spanning 40-minutes, “Supernaturals – Record One” was recorded at Locomotore Studios in Rome over the course of one day in March 2007. Thrown down in a fiercely improvisational manner, these recordings capture two markedly different outfits at the top of their respective games, indulging in aural sparring of the most pugilistic nature: Like Oliver Reed & Alan Bates rollicking around in front of the fire in Ken Russell’s “Women In Love” (1969), these two heavyweights of conceptual Italian deep noise pull no punches in pursuit of their ultimate goal. Hypnotic, telluric & atmospheric: four guitars, a bass, a drum kit, a bank of synths & a microphone, compete continually for the listener’s attention. Powerfully demanding passages are broken by melodic interludes, fragile intros & demonic breakdowns, as tension simmers all around. As a postscript to Ufomammut’s “Lucifer Songs” as well as prelude to LentO’s debut LP, “Earthen”, “Supernaturals – Record One” is a triumph from beginning to end! Monolithic!

Johnny Truant – tMx 30 – 07/07

Empty Vessels – “TBC” (Promo)

“Sex Disco”
“The Monkey”
“Exploitation Movie”
“Old Clem”
“If It Came Down To It”
“Into The Well”
“You Know”
“(It’s No) Guilty Pleasure”

We’ve been keeping an eye on London’s enigmatic Empty Vessels for some time now. The fact that we’ve been keeping the other eye on recent developments on the Iraqi Death Metal Scene would doubtless explain our extraordinary field of vision! This ‘factor’ more than likely explains Empty Vessels decision to chose trakMARX as the sole beneficiary of the very advanced promotional copy of their soon to be released debut LP (as yet, ‘untitled’, advanced information fans!)!

Empty Vessels’ MO, meanwhile, has always stood them in good isolationist stead. Right from the get-go, it was obvious that they weren’t going to fit in to anyone else’s idea of conformity! Their very sound is born out of their total refusal to play the game. Mmmm, smells like Punk Rock spirit!

Sonically & compositionally, Empty Vessels mine seams of 80s post-punk-miserablism: Joy Division, PiL, The Fall . . . all the usual suspects . . . but that doesn’t condem them to the past! On the contrary, it’s SO at the other end of the spectrum it almost meets itself coming back! Vocally, singer/guitarist Matt wobbles somewhere between Mark E Smith & a baritone Pete Doherty. Big on ennui, bored stiff with tunes: Contempt drips from his every other word. He sounds like he means it, maaaan! Currently in very fine fettle indeed, Empty Vessels have recently taken a new bassist on board, as well as an express delivery of oomph, according to Matt . . .

This 11-track ‘yet-to-be-titled’ opus is the summation of 2-years hard work for the group. Some of the material you’ll have heard before in demo form, a couple of tracks stem from the Parlor 9 sessions, but there’s enough of a blend of old, new, borrowed & blue here to please fans & neophytes in equal measure - & quell any accusations of ‘rip-off’. The majority of the LP was recorded at Antenna Studios, Crystal Palace, in 6-hours for a grand total of £600.00. It was easy, it was cheap, go & do it?

A Desperate Bicycles for a new millennium? That’s a question I’m not remotely qualified to answer!

“Sorry, I played that like a complete fucking amateur . . .”, exclaims Matt at the end of “Old Clem”.

You have the right not to be professional. 
You have the right not to conform. 
You have the right to question everything.
These are you rights.
Know Your Rights!

Jean Encoule – tMx 30 – 07/07

Rocket Uppercut – “This Beautiful Tragedy” (Filthy Little Angels)

Bavaria’s Rocket Uppercut are Kevin (gtr/vox), Melanie (Drums), Bianca (Vox) & Max (bass/vox), & together they make a truly scrumptious racket. “This Beautiful Tragedy” is their debut long player: 12-cuts of impossibly catchy, appropriately bottom-heavy, jewel-encrusted, garage punk rock. A quick shufty in Rocket Uppercut’s influence cupboard cites: Sonic Youth, The Beatles, Dinosaur Jr, Franz Ferdinand, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Blondie, Pavement, Oasis, The White Stripes, The Caesars, Mando Diao, Ben Kweller, The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, The Hives, The Velvet Underground . . . don’t take our word for it . . . that list was submitted by Rocket Uppercut their very selves . . . & to make it even easier for you, they’ve summed it up personally thus: Beatles vs Sonic Youth or Blondie vs Hives!

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

Tenebrous Liar – “Tenebrous Liar” (Fire Records)

Tenebrous Liar is Steve Gullick, photographer, Everett True collaborator & self-styled man-about-scene. Bearded, be suited & looking away from the camera on the cover (possibly checking for a new scene kicking off outside in the car park as the shutter snaps), Gullick is a man who’s excellent choices are commonly regarded as legion.

Tenebrous, as I’m sure you’ll all doubtless be aware, is Scottish for ‘gloomy’. Liar, on the other hand, is Latin for ‘Prime Minister’. Tenebrous Liar, then, could be taken as a critical deconstruction of the dissemination of truth, the devolution of monetary accessibility to voters of no fixed abode, a critique of current US expansionist practices or the passing of power from Tony Bliar to Gordon Brown (what, you think I’m reading too much into it?). Let’s assess.

The first thing to note is the quality of the photography! They didn’t get these shots processed at Jessops! Printed on crushed, processed & reconstituted baby seal skin (for that high-quality-art-house-sheen), using oh-so-yesterday Courier font (wonder where we got that from?), penciled-in-apendages & some fuzzy images of moody skyline (well, they are trying to get the concept of ‘gloomy’ across successfully), the art work is as sumptuous as you’d expect from a bunch of wannabe art students.

The second thing to note is: just because you’ve managed to survive in the ‘industry’ for so fucking long, it don’t mean that we’ve been waiting for your definitive aural statement like the residents of Hull have been waiting for their insurance assessors! Like a BBC cameraman who’s just realised his ambition to shoot his own low budget feature length: Go show it to the Canadians! We don’t give a fuck. Cannes isn’t the only film festival in the world!

For gritty, lo-fi, inexorable, genre-defying . . . read lazy, hi-fi, pretentious, yawn-inducing. It don’t matter how eclectic your musical palate claims to be, jumping aboard 17-bandwagons at once whilst pretending to be studiously above-it-all don’t cut the mustard in these dangerous times.

“Like having your womb scraped out . . .”, claims the press release.

Weddings, parties, anything . . . at least he’ll never go short of work!

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07

Fabienne Delsol – “Between You & Me” (Damaged Goods)

Bonjours, mes amis, et maintenant . . . Fabienne Delsol!

Who? . . . I hear you mumble!

You know, Fabienne Delsol, Liam Watson’s Mrs?

You know, Liam Watson, the guy who single-handedly captured the mono-tastic, analogue dexterity of The Great Garage Scare Of 2001?

You know, Toerag Studios?

That’s right, trendspotters, Fabienne Delsol used to front London based garage rockers, The Bristols, & “Between You & Me” is the ‘3-years-in-the-making’ follow-up to her 2004 debut.

Now, if you’re a big fan of 60s music, you’re going to absolutely love “Between You & Me”. It sounds like it was recorded in the 60s (which is no massive surprise to anyone who’s ever read an equipment spec for Toerag Studios, granted), which, for aficionados of this kind of thing, must most definitely be the point, exactly! The LP cover has even been distressed to make it look old (ironically, the same thing has happened to my face!)!

So, congratulations, Fabienne. Nice one, Liam! Hats off to Larry. If you love 60s kitsch, come on down, the water’s lovely. If, on the other hand (like me), you can’t see the point, avoid this at all costs.

Guy Debored – tMx 30 – 07/07

O’Death – “Head Home” (City Slang)

It’s been raining, you know? Raining banjos, fiddles, gas chains, broken cymbals & hairshirts. Like a death at Tom Waits’ birthday party, O’Death are going to ruin all the fun: Weathered vocals, junkyard hooks, sing-a-long children’s melodies for adults . . . welcome to life after O’Death. Formed in NYC sometime back in 2003, O’Death mash up Pixies, The Pogues, Doc Boggs, The Band, Violent Femmes, the aforementioned Tom Waits & Old Uncle Tom Cobley & all, to fashion their particularly heady brew of neo-Appalachian-Punk-Folkery (in itself, not a million miles away from that other bunch of irreverent loft-dwellers, The Boggs). “Head Home”, then, is O’Death’s second long player in 3-years: 15-cuts of weird old Americana deftly executed by a bunch of weird old Americans. In terms of Americana: what more can we ask for?

Jean Encoule – tMx 30 – 07/07

The Singing Loins – “The Drowned Man Resuscitation” (Damaged Goods)

Aaaah, the growing punk/folk movement, I know it well. Or do I? These days movements all look the same to me. Etc. Is it just me, or are movements all looking younger these days? Etc. You wait 25-years for a movement to come along, then 35-turn up at once! Etc.

I know I should be nice to the Singing Loins . . . They have hung out in the downstairs toilet with Billy Childish & his revox-mono-echo-machine in the past . . . & I did like that one about drinking & falling off the back of a precariously balanced chair (on some LP or other they did once upon a time)! Sadly, the punk/folk movement won’t be welcome round my house for tea. As admirable as it may be for soon-to-be-senior citizens to selflessly re-invest their valuable time shoehorning the erstwhile anger of their youth into ever expansive vistas of neo-folkery . . . it still sounds like The Levellers to me.

I hate The Levellers. Can we leave it at that?

Terry Ennui – tMx 30 – 07/07