Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Dalis Car 'The Waking Hour' (1984)

^A painting by Max Parrish, whose 'Daybreak' is the album's cover-art

A deeply unusual and beguiling one-off here (not me, the album). The delectable Peter Murphy of Bauhaus and multi-instrumentalist Mick Karn (ex-Japan) came together for this totally unique celebration of Middle Eastern modes and Paganistic themes; conjured almost entirely by complex, interwoven fretless bass and synth lines. With a number of exceptions, the fretless bass' sound can seem dated as it instantly recalls an era. But similar to the iconic and fluid basstones featured on Kate Bush albums from the period, it just feeds into the strangeness and in the case of Dalis Car, sets the scene.

Murphy was surely one of the classic post-Bowie New Wave singers, bold and brazen. Karn brings the dark, synth-based ruminations of Japan to the project. The programmed drums are barely noticeable and rendered almost superfluous beneath the album's mirage. This is far from simply Bauhaus meets Japan - it carves out a mystical exoticism, at a time when many artists of renown (Byrne, Gabriel, Eno etc) had recently succeeded in bringing the alien rhythms of various 'world'/ethnic musics into synthetic Western pop.

Dalis Car is pretty left of field however, being unsettlingly hypnotic and instrumentally upside-down. The minimalist approach to the compositions is fleshed out by excellent production and timely touches of distant guitar and woodwind. If you're a fan of the cold sounds of Talking Heads' Fear of Music, Bowie's Lodger, or the gothic New Age-isms of Dead Can Dance in general you can't afford to miss out on this.
BEWARE 'Cornwall Stone'.

the judgement is the mirror
1985 interview with Karn and Murphy

Themed Mix - Bellydancing-ish's been quite awhile since I last posted something to Substix. Or made a mix of any sort for that matter, so today I bring you Bellydancing-ish, which is a mix with the objective of bringing together tracks which could potentially be suitable for the purpose of bellydancing - many could be said to be 'arabesque' or Indian-tinged, while there are also tracks which simply have a somewhat avant-garde rhythm and beat which coincide with the theme. Dead Can Dance and Siouxsie are often considered staples for "gothic belly dance", while Ofra Haza is probably the closest to legit bellydance music - everything else I was going on my own intuition and possibly practice. Onwards!

Cover art is taken from Josefina - Nico Nelson on Flickr (a Creative Commons image).

Various Artists - Bellydancing-ish

1. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Follow the Sun"
2. Shocking Blue - "Love Buzz"
3. Nine Inch Nails - "14 Ghosts II"
4. Damon Albarn - "Reedz"
5. Danielle Dax - "Timber Tongue"
6. Beastie Boys - "Eugene's Lament"
7. Ratatat - "Mumtaz Khan"
8. David Bowie - "Yassassin"
9. The Who - "Disguises"
10. The Fall - "Theme From Error-Orror!"
11. Koji Kondo - "Marina Research Laboratory"
12. Danielle Dax - "Ostrich"
13. Ananda Shankar - "Dance Indra"
14. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Silly Thing"
15. Ofra Haza - "Im Nin Alu"
16. Dead Can Dance - "Indus"
17. Nico - "Into the Arena"
18. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Lunar Camel"
19. Koji Kondo - "Lethal Lava Land"
20. Dead Can Dance - "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove"

Sunday, 24 January 2010

V/A - The Beginner's Guide to Thrash Metal

Presented here for your pleasure is a sterling and succinct introduction to the original thrash metal movement, by one of my favourite music fans on the web and stalwart/sugar daddy/patriarch of the Musicbanter forum. Thrash was initially a California-centric scene but was quickly indebted to the East Coast and Western Europe in particular; with bands surfacing worldwide like Brazil's influential Sepultura. This compilation not only covers the greatest bands of thrash that are perhaps lesser-known to casual listeners (i.e. not the Big Four), but it carries great import as the root of just about all the metal that would come in the ensuing decades.
Here's a thorough documentary-retrospective of the whole thing (stream works as of 24/01/10).

What follows is the comp as it was presented on the forum in June '09.

This is more of an introduction to a genre and hopefully some of the younger members might like it and see where the multitudes of metal sub genres came from initially. Thrash was a massive shot in the arm for metal as the NWOBHM was burning out along came Thrash with it's Metal roots influenced by Punk and Hardcore. All the tracks on here are pre 1990 and I have purposely excluded the big 4 here ( Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer,Anthrax). I have also seen 7 of the bands live although that is just me showing off! enjoy please!

1. Death Angel-Evil Priest
Recorded in '86 and released in '87 this bay area band are one of the most influential bands in the Thrash scene and not bad for a drummer who was only 14 at the time! lyrically this is bloody awful cliched crap but that bass line in the middle and the subsequent accelerating guitar riff is nothing short of stellar.
2. Vio-lence-Phobophobia
If you are wondering it's fear of fear! Vio-lence never really got the attention that they deserved probably due to Sean Killians vocal style which many found ill fitting amidst their razor sharp riffs. This track has plenty of riffs jostling for attention yet it is still streamlined and tight as! Guitarist
robb flynn went on to front a little band called Machine Head!
3. Testament-Burnt Offerings
Outside of the big 4, Testament were always the fans favourite and it could be argued that theirs is the quintessential Thrash sound. Again lyrically terrible, it makes up for that in the twin guitar muscular riffs and it remains a Thrash classic.
4. Sepultura-To The Wall
For many the band never recaptured the raw power of their second album Schizophrenia from which this track is taken and this awesome track backs that up. Brilliant raw production
and the stupendous drum work of Igor Cavalera make this another absolute classic and not nearly heralded enough amidst the bands later success's.
5.Kreator-Stream Of Consciousness
Always one of the rawer bands in the Thrash fraternity and a band that's live power has never been captured well on vinyl at all which was a shame as the efficient riffing and vocal power of Mille Petrozza has always given Kreator a unique sound. Love the openeing riff that bounces off the bass
drum pattern.
6.Sabbat-The Best Of Enemies
How I love that intro with the bass guitar and double bass drum punctuated with that guitar riff. Sabbat where always a band not quite of their time and if they were around in the 70's i swear that they would have been a Prog band! Musically they were very different from the usual sound and employed lots of time changes and unusual vocal techniques. Dreamweaver is another album that needs reappraising.
7.Mortal Sin-Mayhemic Destruction
Mortal Sin were unusual due to the fact that they were from Australia (hardly a mecca for Thrash) and the fact that they were unashamedly old school thrash. The same titled debut album suffered from bad production and the band fell into many cliches on the album. However this track showed their potential and really cements it's place here with it's change of pace and awesome riff that kicks in at 2:50. It remains one of my favourite Thrash riffs ever.
8.Dark Angel-No One Answers
The main stop start riff on this track is still absolutely fucking mental and still sounds heavy as hell even today. Dark Angel began life as a cliched speed/Thrash band dabbling in the usual Satanic/morbid lyrics but they changed tack with this album. Lyrically very powerful. It dealt with child abuse and it's devastaing effects on the young. It's a shame about the faster parts as the production cannot quite keep up with the band and it sounds a little murky. That riff is still worth it. Amazing.
9.Meliah Rage-Impending Doom
A bit of a cheat here as Meliah Rage were essentially a power metal band that jumped on the Thrash bandwagon and occasionally on their debut (from which this is taken) reached some great heights. The track is built around a number of excellent riffs and changes in pace that wa
rrant it's inclusion.
10.Nuclear Assault-Brain Death
Epic.Epic.Epic. Although Nuclear Assault took their influences from Punk and Hardcore, the first 3 albums are beloved in Thrash scene and the bands ability to keep that raw edge coupled with Dan Lilkers ridiculously fast bass work made them a live favourite ( I managed to catch the band twice in 4 days in different cities and I managed to hang with them on the later date). This track is worth it for the brilliant middle section that begins at the 3:40 mark and is a perfect send off for my intro to ya all!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Megadeth 'Rust In Peace' (1990)

Well, this has been a long time coming. You can find this on a thousand blogs with the click of the mouse, but if I'm to share my favourites then it would be dishonest to omit Rust In Peace.

RIP is considered to be the album where Dave Mustaine truly got his revenge on ex-bandmates Metallica, by producing an album that was faster, more complex and more political than anything they could ever manage. It is also inarguably the apex of thrash metal (a California-born meeting of punk rock and heavy metal of the early 80s) and contender for the greatest metal album of all time, in any subgenre.
To the uninitiated - i.e. those who have no interest in 'The Metal' - this may well just be the same old noise, but I defy you to test it and not appreciate the musicianship and compositional skill involved.
I've never been a metalhead per se, but I find extreme metal subgenres therapeutic, thrash metal in particular has the speed and density, and is the primary language of the headbanger. In the 80s this was the perfect antithesis to dumb/hedonistic, poodle-haired AM metal... although as you can see above, painful trousers and effeminate coiffures remained.
Neither have I ever been one for instrumental virtuosity and guitar histrionics for the sake of it, which makes my appreciation of this album all the more special.
The thick-and-fast solos of dual guitarists Marty Friedman and songwriter/frontman Mustaine on Rust are never tedious; it's as if they agonised over every note. It's incredibly progressive, with time and key changes that leave you reeling - for a classic example see what happens around 2:48 on 'Hangar 18'. 'Holy Wars' is a breakneck suite and two-pronged reflection on religious fanaticism and crusades - the sort of track that may have happened had old prog guard been born in time for the hardcore punk movement and the First Gulf War!

... And I will hold up my hands and admit that some of the lyrics here are f*cking awesome. There are the occasional, obligatory/corny ones about wizards or Satanism; but this is thrash metal so the main points of order are grinning fascists, government wars, obliteration, conspiracy, social control, religion - nothing that far removed from reality, really.
I always thought the intentions of the 'Big Four' bands of thrash (Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer) were sound; taking a firm anti-war stance and calling out hypocrisy and corruption - albeit in a ham-fisted manner - and often extending this into the realms of farce for our tongue-in-cheek enjoyment.

Classic interview

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Death 'For The Whole World To See' (1975)

Recorded by the three brothers Hackney in 1975 but bafflingly left unreleased until last year, Death (not to be confused with the equally trailblazing death/technical metal pioneers of the 80s) left us a mere 7 songs, but what epic and prescient statements they were!

They started as an R'n'B outfit before changing tack - embracing hard rock and the proto-punk of other Motor City originals like the Stooges and MC5 - whilst, to my ears at least, retaining the soul and social conscience of early 70s African-American music.
The result resembles a sound at once like Bad Brains and hardcore punk five years before the fact, with an unmistakable Detroit groove barely contained in a strait jacket of outrage: that of social outcasts trying to comprehend the senseless prejudice and apathy of the world around them. If this all sounds a bit too angsty and sincere to you then you'd do well to remember that this is rock music and getthehelloffamypage.
Now, the Bad Brains comparison isn't just some handy euphimism for all-black (so-called Afro-punk) groups of the 1970s, but one for the political approach and wide range of moods that both bands evoked over the majority of their peers within a raw punk framework. The album begins like any other Detroit garage group, presaging the Dirtbombs et al. Track 2 is spookily H.R, or even the 'black New York Dolls' Pure Hell. However the songs hereafter become lengthier, incorporating time changes and introspective lyrics; there are echoes of Curtis Mayfield's funk, the soul and rhythmic gospel seemingly compulsory for Detroit and even the jaded 1970s psychedelic hangover.

Ahead-of-their-time cuts like 'Let the World Turn', 'You're a Prisoner' and 'Politicians In My Eyes' ought to have reached the nascent punk subculture and become bonafide classics, but they didn't. Death self-released one 7'' single - these recordings having been funded by Columbia Records - and were swiftly dropped after refusing to compromise with a friendlier band name. Now is your chance to hear what a generation missed out on.

Afro-punk doque