Friday, 15 November 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #36

This week: new albums from Metamono, Black Hearted Brother and She Makes War, as well as new tracks from Mogwai, New War, Depeche Mode, Midlake, David Bowie, Horse Party and Roy Harper. As well as all that, there's news on SuedeMansun's Paul Draper, Cast and Gene. And no, you haven't gone to sleep and woke up in the 90's. Since I STILL haven't finished writing the final part of my 1995 memories, I have posted some links to my previous recollections instead...

Metamono create music using only old analogue instruments, and have completely abolished digital recording and production as a rule. In fact they work around an innovative manifesto, which can be seen HERE at their website. Made up of musician/producer Jono Podmore, electronic wizard Paul Conboy and fine artist Mark Hill, they ban things like sampling, overdubs and even microphones from their music making regime. Stripping away the last few decades of electro music and building a new alternative from scratch, when sources are restricted, a greater degree of imagination has to be applied. The debut album 'With The Compliments Of Nuclear Physics' is a fascinating and highly rewarding record that spans four sides of vinyl, reflecting four different sides to the sound of these visionary electronic musical scientists.

Much of it is like how we imagined the future would sound years ago, and ironically it's made by instruments from the past, most of them salvaged from the scrap heap. Contemporary ideas show that far from being Luddites or mere retroists, they're not looking to return to the past. Instead they're building something new out of old bits in order to make creative progress for the benefit of electronic music's future. This is why, despite never leaning on many of the less-skilled techniques used in electronic music these days, it never sounds dated and certainly never comes across like some sort of novelty. Part of their manifesto reads "Metamono will restrict and limit the sound sources and techniques available to us in order to liberate the imagination." Mission accomplished. Read my full album review HERE, where you can also listen to the LP in full.


A trio that features ex-Slowdive and Mojave 3 man Neil HalsteadSeefeel's Mark Van Hoen and Nick Holten (Holten's Opulent Oog), some would consider Black Hearted Brother something of a "supergroup". Traces of each musician's usual style can easily be heard across 'Stars Are Our Home', and their highly collaborative way of working has made for a sprawling, eclectic debut. Kicking off with the six and a half minute title track, its post-rock atmospheres are placed perfectly before the stratospheric blast of the stunning 'I Don't Mean To Wonder', where waves of powerful shoegaze guitar surge over reverb-drenched vocals and dusty drums. The downbeat resignation of 'Take Heart' is like some sort of cosmic ballad, melodic and probably also the most accessible thing here. It's one of the few moments here where the vocal feels like more of a leading feature rather than another instrument, like on the blissful highlight 'I'm Back' where the voice melts into soft waves of analogue synth. The lovely 'Look Out Here They Come' may come across as a rather lightweight closer at first, but doesn't take long to charm with its bright outlook and colourful, understated electronic charm.


It's a sprawling and often self indulgent piece of work, but bearing in mind that it was made with an "include everything we record" spirit, Black Hearted Brother appear to have done rather well. Maybe a bit of editing and a higher level of quality control on one or two tracks would have made for a stronger and more consistent album, but 'Stars Are Our Home' is what it is. At least you couldn't ever accuse them of not being diverse enough. Read my full review HERE.


Sometimes you can't fully understand an artist until you've seen them live. Not just a mere female singer songwriter, but a multi-instrumental, conceptual-minded, multiformat artist, She Makes War (aka Laura Kidd) is a real asset to the world of true independent music. This selection of superb recordings makes you realise what an exceptional talent LK is, also encouraging me to revisit and rediscover her fine 2012 long player 'Little Battles'. 


Backed by an excitingly loose backing band, the angsty crunch of 'Exit Strategy' captures a raw energy at odds with the beautifully melancholic 'Butterflies', a cautionary tale of heartbreak accompanied by electric harp and violin. This stunning instrumentation also features on the particularly moving 'Ghosts And Shadows' and adds colour to 'Disarm''s sweet dreamy ambience, while the elegant heartfelt beauty of 'Slow Puncture' shows another engaging side to this artist, and would be no doubt be a hit single in a fair, ideal non-manufactured music world. On the ghostly, addictive 'Delete', Kidd creates a fascinating piece of art made up completely of her looped live vocals, proving that a great imagination can make a good idea go a long way. A captivating vocal on the haunting 'Scared To Capsize', leads to a wonderful moment involving a crowd singalong, which really does contribute towards the performance brilliantly.

As far as live albums go, this one often involves your ears and senses in a way that makes you feel as if you're actually in the venue. It works brilliantly as a showcase for some of She Makes War's strongest songs, and as an introduction to this fine musician but if you're already a fan, then be sure to pick this up. Go HERE for my full album review.




It's been nearly a month now since I went to see the incredible Suede in Bristol, without a doubt one of the best nights of my life. Balancing out the inevitable nostalgia with the vitality of their new material, they turned in a set that summarised exactly where Suede are at this point: proud of their glorious past, enjoying the present, and positive about the future. But there was something particularly special about that night, which will live long in the memories of all present. Armed with a vast supply of awesome songs and on top form, this seminal band delivered a dazzling, mind blowing and hugely memorable experience. Read my full gig review (including videos and photos) HERE.

Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai return with a fantastic new track which provides us with a small taste of their upcoming 'Rave Tapes' album. Despite the title of the LP, 'Remurdered' doesn't exactly find them in acid house mode, however its hypnotic repetition and the vibe you get from those vintage synths does bring to mind the sort of thing you might have heard if you were at an old warehouse party.  'Rave Tapes' lands on January 20, and looks set to be the first exciting big release of 2014, something to look forward to indeed. It follows on from their fine 'Les Revenants' soundtrack album and 2011's 'Hardcore Will Never Die', one of their strongest works to date and high up my list of records from that year. The latter was produced by Paul Savage, who also worked with the band on the new LP, which is released on their own Rock Action Records. 



A fantastic and highly infectious single that I have been listening to for a few weeks now...New War are a four piece from Melbourne, Australia. Their self titled debut was released last year in their homeland, and is now set for a UK and European release through ATP Recordings on November 25th, in time for their ATP  ‘End of an Era’ festival appearances, and other UK shows. "Their songs are immediate, charged and memorable. 'Delphian', 'consuming' and 'compelling' are just a few of the adjectives used to describe their widescreen sound. The band rewards close attention with a primal but sophisticated pulse, and a wide acidic eye cast into the depths of this and the last century. However they don't lapse into hectoring or obscurantism; New War’s eyes are firmly on the prize..."



Back in March of this year, I reviewed Depeche Mode's 13th studio album 'Delta Machine', noting that "It doesn't imitate their imitators, in fact during its stronger moments it's more a case of the masters offering another lesson to their students. They may not be teaching them anything new, just giving them an updated example of what has been taught before..." But at the time I was a little bit let down by the fact that "like their other releases of the last decade it's bogged down by inconsistency", offering this particular track as an example... "'Should Be Higher''s slow industrial pulse and unsettling keys aren't matched by the rather average song itself...". Funny what a few plays can do, isn't it? After hearing a noticeably different version of this song on Mary Anne Hobbs' BBC 6Music breakfast show a few weekends ago, I got myself a copy of the single, which is backed by a variety of different remixes. This is the Little Vampire remix, which adds a bit more energy and bite while retaining that wonderful analogue cello-type synth sound used during the bridge...


After their previous three albums, Midlake's latest full length sees a notable line up change. In late 2012, lead vocalist and songwriter Tim Smith announced he was leaving the group to form a new project called Harp. Luckily, the band's quality didn't leave with him. Despite getting a kicking from the haven't-got-a-fucking-clue NME, 'Antiphon' is in fact a rather beautiful record. God Is In The TV's Sean BW Parker commented that "the title track, ‘The Old And The Young’ and ‘Provider’ in particular reflect a mature, musical, precise Band, steeped in the traditions of classic rock, but also a knowledge of how to soothe ragged nerves." Read that full review HERE. For today's TOTD, the most beautifully haunting moment from 'Antiphon', which hit the shops (and internet) last week (November 4)...


Roy Harper is an English folk/rock singer, songwriter and guitarist who has been a professional musician since 1964. He has released a large catalogue of albums (22 studio albums and 10 live albums). Here's the opening track from 'Man And Myth', his first batch of original songs in 13 years. In an interview with The Telegraph, Harper stated “I don’t want to give it up, it’s my place, it’s the place I really belong. I’m not looking to be a pop star, I’m looking to be accepted by my own peers, my own generation and succeeding generations for what I am.”


Horse Party's new single 'What Do You Need' was released earlier this week on November 11. Indie rock is twisted with garage, blues and a grungy scuzz that acts as a counter to the more melodic elements that arrest the ears effectively. The Bury St Edmunds trio formed in 2011 and are made up of drummer/vocalist Shannon Hope, guitarist/vocalist Seymour Quigley, and vocalist/guitarist Ellie Langley. Following on from the singles 'Clarion Call', 'Back To Mono' and the live 'Scarlet And Blue' EP, 'What Do You Need' may be up for inclusion on the group's debut album 'Cover Your Eyes' next year.


The iconic David Bowie spent the best part of a decade as a recluse, presumed to have retired from music. Earlier this year he launched a surprise comeback, with no interviews, live shows or public appearances to mark the release of 'The Next Day'. And less than a year later, he's starring in an advert for Louis Vuitton, serenading 25-year-old model Arizona Muse. How very contradictive. But that unpredictable spark is one of the things that makes Bowie who he is. I have to say that I'm not terribly impressed with the new Deluxe Edition of 'The Next Day'... as well as the same bonus tracks which appeared on the original special edition, it includes another four extra songs which it has to be said, aren't much cop at all. Easy to see why none of them even made it as bonus tracks first time round. Also included on 'The Next Day Extra' is a remix of 'Love Is Lost' by LCD Soundsystem man James Murphy. It's very good indeed, and is being lined up as the next single, but it still isn't a patch on the brilliant album version...


A couple of weeks ago, I told you all about a petition that was launched by fans of ex Mansun frontman Paul Draper to encourage the cult hero to release some new music. The band split in 2004, and despite promising solo material a number of years ago, nothing hasn't been heard since. Following a live guest appearance with The Joy Formidable back in 2010, and one with Leeds-based supergroup Menace Beach for Marc Riley's excellent evening show on BBC 6Music, fans sent emails declaring their love for his music and their hopes for his return. If you would like to hear more music from Paul Draper (and I know I certainly would), then HERE is the place to make yourselves useful... And it looks like our plan may be working, since the legend has rejoined Twitter and announced his involvement with a new project called The Anchoress. Draper has just completed recording their debut album at his London studio 'The Kitchen'. The record is the first full album he's produced since 1998's classic 'Six'. Paul has also co-written half of the tracks on the album and contributes by playing guitar and providing backing vocals. As well as that, he's spent much of the past week making his followers wet themselves with laughter as he interacts with an LA based gangsta rapper who also goes by the unusual name of Mansun... You can follow Paul HERE.

Merseyside four piece Cast are the latest group to have their albums released as deluxe editions. On 27th January 2014, long running catalogue label Edsel Records are pleased to present deluxe and remastered, 2CD editions of the first three Cast albums, with their 4th 'Beetroot' being released as a CD/DVD. Undoubtedly the definitive editions of the band’s catalogue, each release will come with all the B sides from the singles, original artwork, high-quality new packaging, exclusive bonus audio, extra tracks plus new sleevenotes. These superb packages will also include new interviews with frontman John Power. Labelled "The Who of the 90’s", Noel Gallagher once described watching Cast play live as “a religious experience.” For more info go HERE.

Another classic Britpop era band are getting the same treatment, on exactly the same release day too! One of the most underrated bands of the 1990's, London-based foursome Gene are one such group who probably won't be reforming any time soon. Since there won't be any new Gene material coming our way, the next best thing would be to hear some unreleased and rare stuff from the now defunct group... and our prayers have been answered... On January 27th, 2014 Edsel Records presents deluxe 2CD editions of the much loved Gene catalogue, including ‘Olympian’, ‘To See The Lights’ ‘Revelations’, ‘Drawn To The Deep End’ and ‘Libertine’. Presented in 2CD casebound editions, and featuring a host of bonus tracks, rarities, and contributions from the band, these are the definitive re-issues of the bands much loved catalogue. Their final album 'Libertine' will be getting a vinyl release for the first time. More info is HERE.

Legendary American duo Sparks are returning to the UK in a few weeks time for a set of very special shows. In October of 2012 the Mael brothers took their 'Two Hands, One Mouth' tour to Europe, receiving an ecstatic reaction from audiences and critics as Russell and Ron played favourites from their epic back catalogue without the aid of computers or a live band. After bringing the show to the States earlier this year, Sparks return to these shores in November and December for 'The Revenge Of Two Hands, One Mouth' tour, where performances will include hits, rarities and material not played in recent times. Go HERE for more information...

The 'Rewind' part of the column is where I write about my musical memories, and currently I am finishing the concluding part of my 1995 recollections. Until it's finished, have a look at some of my previous memories, which can now all be seen in one place. My early years (1984 to 1993) are documented HERE, while the story of my musical life in 1994 is HERE

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