Woodenspoon-Souff Souff ep

August 27, 2008

Woodenspoon

Souff Souff 12′ (Warp 1996)

http://www.mediafire.com/?l0emjfz3mvi

If you’ve read this blog since its beginning, you may know that i am somewhat obsessed with Seefeel and all of its related side projects. Well, scratch the last few Scala records from that statement and then it will be true. I chickened out of buying this ep when it came out in the hopes that there would be an eventual album, but it never came to be.

Woodenspoon was one of Marc Clifford’s projects after the dissolution of Seefeel. He also released an ep and Lp for Warp as Disjecta. Disjecta wasn’t too far removed from the direction Seefeel took on their last two albums, but Woodenspoon provided Clifford an outlet to explore drill and bass, dub and occasionally something approximating dancehall shoegaze. Now, I don’t expect Capleton or the many Ranks to come knocking on his door, but this ep definitely tries something new. It doesn’t always work, but it is interesting to hear him shake loose from his influences. In this day and age, I have lost all interest in any of the drill and bass of the late 90s and its masturbatory usage of rhythm. Just because you can pack so many beats into a minute doesn’t make it it more enjoyable. However, Clifford does incorporate some ethereal drones straight out of Quique to accompany the spasms of beats and it works here. It doesn’t make me want to reevaluate that era, but it is a nice twist on the dub/shoegaze/electronic tomfoolery he perfected with Seefeel.

Overall, it isn’t going to floor you, but any fan of Seefeel should check this ep out since it is interesting to hear their musical inspirations translated into a different arena. Good, but not great.

Disjecta

Looking For Snags (Warp 1996)

http://www.mediafire.com/?dunbuni9mdi

After Seefeel’s demise, the rest went off to capitalize on the electronica train under the guises of Scala and Locust. Both of these offshoots had many worthwhile moments, but they lacked the cohesive vision and dedication to repetition that drove Seefeel’s marriage of shoegaze, dub and drone. Although Daren Seymour influenced their sound, Mark Clifford was in the drivers seat for much of Seefeel’s work. This is readily apparent in his work as Disjecta. After Seefeel’s demise, he remained with the Warp label and recorded a couple eps as well as this full length effort. All of them seem like the logical extension of their swansong Succour as the soothing sounds of Quique continue to be replaced by more beat-driven material. By no means is Disjecta danceable, but Clifford assimilates the sounds of hip-hop, Autechre and the unfortunately named IDM movement into his psychedelic drones. Actually, I prefer this to Succour and I love that album quite a bit. He recently resurfaced to release an ep that is pretty damn great. It eliminates the beats and explores a Cluster vibe heretofore unseen in his work. Personally, I wish every member of this band could regain their footing, but years have passed and the rest have not delivered anything of note in years.

Disco Inferno

D.I. Go Pop (1994 Rough Trade)

http://www.divshare.com/download/4814230-e35

If I had to compile a list of my favorite albums of the 90s, D.I. Go Pop would be near the top. Their earlier eps and the Open Doors, Closed Windows lp were full of bleak, gothic post-punk that owed much to Joy Division, New Order’s Movement and the 4ad roster. It was derivative to be sure, but they experimented and expanded upon the work of their influences to create something entirely their own. However, none of this prepared me for the fucked up, sad and brilliant direction they took on D.I Go Pop.

D.I. Go Pop was released a year after Seefeel’s Quique and both share some parallels. Where Seefeel used My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and shoegaze as a launching pad for their love of electronics and dub, Disco Inferno’s discovery of the MIDI sampler enabled them to create a wholly unique and groundbreaking sound. Quique was a throbbing, sexual drone that is warm and inviting while D.I. Go Pop is a dark, alienating album that approximates the depression and loneliness of Ian Curtis’ suicidal worldview. The difference between the two bands is that Disco Inferno blew apart their love of Factory and 4ad into a million pieces and reassembled them in a way that still sounds new today.

Their usage of the MIDI sampler pervades the record and guitarist/vocalist Ian Crause even hooked up each individual string to its own sampler. This triggers a kaleidoscope of effects that are downright disorienting at times, but they complement Crause’s bitter songs of estrangement and loss. If you removed these electronic effects, D.I. Go Pop is just like the rest of their output. The fan in me wants to know what music, person or life event influenced them to incorporate electronics into their music because it made the difference between a good album and a classic. Anyway you slice it, D.I. Go Pop still sounds as alien as it did fourteen years ago.

Seefeel – Succour

June 18, 2008

Seefeel

Succour (Warp 1995)

http://www.divshare.com/download/4018764-2c6

Man, talk about a progression from light to dark. Seefeel’s Succour is their grand finale and it is so different from the 4ad/electronic/shoegaze puppy pile of the earliest eps and the hypnotic roundabout of Quique. However, the Starethrough ep posted here last week hints at the dark, pounding lonesome soundscapes they explore here. It is no surprise that later solo efforts and side projects were released on the Touch label since this is a heavy slice of brooding drones with sad robotic loops to keep it company.

In some ways, this is my least favorite Seefeel album, but there is an argument to be made that it is a misunderstood album. I believe my disappointments were rooted in their refusal to provide a swirling soundtrack for the next bong hit. I loved their earlier albums and I felt somewhat let down by the grim, depressing music they released as a farewell. Even Sarah Peacock’s coos and sighs are manipulated to sound like cries from a well instead of a sensual mantra. In fact, much of this could have been released on an early 80s industrial/electronic comp and no one would blink an eye.

I am still conflicted about Succour, but two tracks stand as some of the most sublime moments the band ever recorded. “Rupt” may be one of my favorite songs ever released on Warp as it improves on the formula of the Starethrough ep with dubby bass, endless looping of Peacock’s nonsensical chants and a slow-motion, rumbling drone that rumbles upwards and downwards. “Ruby-Ha” somehow predicts the genius of Boards of Canada’s debut as it lays a foundation of chimes and puttering beats that really embodies all I loved about this band.

Seefeel

Starethrough Ep

http://www.mediafire.com/?xxzvo92v9xy

It isn;t hard to find someone who believes that My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless was one of the most forward-thinking, seminal releases of the 90s. However, I believe Seefeel belongs in that same conversation because they sort of took it to the next level that Keven Shields always promised, but hid away behind a supply of Twinkies. Seefeel spliced dub, shoegaze, psych, dub and idm into a hypnotic swirl that no one has really nailed since. Yes, Quique is a perfect album and the one most fans point to as the pinnacle of their short lifespan, but the Starethrough ep may be their most focused statement. It represents a way station between their focus of treated guitars and a shoegazing exterior to the altogether different, but inferior idm/dub excursions that marred Succour, their finale on Rephlex.

They keep in relative simple here. Sarah Peacock’s cooing is sampled and used as a mind-numbing mantra that oozes a cold sexuality as the simple loops of chiming keys, strings and beats echo over and over again. It delivers on the ethereal promises that 4ad failed to deliver during these years and pointed a finger towards the endless musical possibilities that rock could offer when merged with newfangled technology.

It still sounds fresh today and will blow your boo-boo loose under the right circumstances.