Iran-The Moon Boys

August 25, 2009

Iran

The Moon Boys(Tumult 2003)

http://www.mediafire.com/?xfzgntxay4m

I was sorely disappointed by Iran’s latest album, Dissolver, because it stripped away all of the scuzz and feedback that mated so perfectly with their wayward way with a simple melody. Yeah, its “progression” probably had a lot to do with the addition of TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone to the band, but their newfound clarity always aims for the bullseye where Aaron Aite used to revel in mistakes and missteps. By no means is Dissolver a bad album, but count me in the minority who find Aites’ embrace of chaos more appealing than his attempts at an orderly pop song. Then again, six years have passed since The Moon Boys was released and god knows that time has a funny way of adjusting the way you view the world. Therefore, let us take a few moments to pay tribute to an album that may be one of the best albums Siltbreeze, Xpressway, Shrimper or Catsup Plate never released. Yes, these are obscure benchmarks, but it was rare that any of these labels released a perfect marriage of noise to pop even though I wanted so hard to believe that it was so. Yes, the Dead C, V-3, Yips, Amps for Christ and other disparate souls have come damn close to this holy union, but I always reach for this album over anything in their discographies.

The synthesis of noise and pop is hardly an underground concept. God knows that the Jesus & Mary Chain made some moolah with their own jigsaw of Phil Spector and white noise and the whole shoegaze scene was based upon sensual coos and a lusher brand of feedback and squall, but The Moon Boys stands out because there is a sprawl to their compositions that seems epic comparison to the aforementioned bands’ succinct slices of sweet and sour. Sonic Youth’s “Hyperstation” from their Daydream Nation seems like the most accurate touchstone for Iran’s music circa The Moon Boys. I remember listening to “Hyperstation” at 3am as a teenager and imagining if there was another band that could conjure the same loose, late-night vibe where a psych-pop song sounds as if it was heard via a faraway AM station many states away from your destination. This album does that for me throughout its entirety. Then again, I am a former insomniac who used to listen to the scratchiest transmissions instead of counting sleep or drinking warm milk, so my bias is evident.

The imperfections are what make The Moon Boys so gripping. Don’t be fooled that melodies worthy of Brian Wilson lurk beneath the muck because these tunes tend to stretch out in sometimes difficult directions. What does stick out is Aaron Aites’ guitar work as he somehow straddles the line between outright sabotage and grubby melody. No song really even stands out here as the overall effect of it as an album is what gets me every single time. I approach it as a long rambling epic where slow, atonal riffs last for days only to be replaced by some of the most simple and sweet notes that shake all of the pieces back into proper balance. Iran always stride close to the edge only to reconfigure themselves as something so sentimental and tender that you almost forget you were listening to a staccato riff seconds before. The Moon Boys is admittedly a bit of a mess, but I hear something new each time I try to reassemble the pieces.

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.

Moose-Sonny and Sam

August 27, 2008

Moose

Sonny and Sam(Virgin 1992)

http://www.mediafire.com/?nizl3ybht94

During my teenage years, I became obsessed with shoegaze and faithfully trekked to Philadelphia’s 3rd St. jazz and Rock to pick up any ep or cd remotely associated with this poorly named genre. I’m not trying to come off as some precocious wisenheimer since I also purchased albums by 24-7 Spyz, Hoodoo Gurus and 3rd Bass. However, I heard a track from My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything on WKDU and spent by bicycle messenger salary on every NME, Sounds and Melody Maker to search out similar sounds. Through these delightful and sometimes ridiculous rags, I fell in love with Slowdive, Swervedriver, Lush and other bands that adopted MBV as an influence and spun it in their own kaleidoscope of feedback and buried melodies. These three acts among others achieved relative success and are still fondly remembered by fans today. However, there were many worthwhile bands that fell through the cracks or lost their bearings after a brilliant single or ep. England’s Moose definitely fell into the latter category even though they released a few albums afterwards.

Sonny and Sam collected tracks from their first two eps and added a couple odds and ends in the hopes of attracting an American audience. It’s a pretty concise summation of what made them stick out from their peers. Moose’s music adhered to the shoegaze blueprint, but there was something tender and habitually heartbroken about their music that set them apart as the sad sacks of the scene. That’s why I loved them since their romantic odes to butterfly collectors and a lover’s morning gaze appealed to the maudlin side of me. Plus, they knew when to turn off the spigots of feedback and toss in a minimal ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on Sarah or Creation records. They had some diversity and their music wasn’t constantly drugged and distant. Moose wanted to be loved and wallow in noise as well as their alienation and woe. Now, their later albums focused more on the alienation and woe instead of noise and that made them less interesting. Sonny and Sam captures a moment when they didn’t know whether they wanted to be a brit-pop band or something more ragged and intriguing.

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.

M83-Don’t Save Us From the Flames (Superpitcher remix)

http://www.divshare.com/download/3121712-2c1

Well, this is the other fine example of Kompakt shoegazing discussed in the earlier post. This one may actually best the M83 remix below. Maybe it is because it lasts for 12 minutes. Just look at the man. If that doesn’t look like a man who is ready to pounce on your bones, then I’m a eunuch. To quote a certain belligerent canine puppet, “I kid, I kid.” This one has it all: repetitive, throbbing beats, ethereal crescendos, fey vocals and a slinky vibe that I could listen to all day. It’s only one track, but what a doozie it is!

M83

Run Into Flowers(Remixed by Jackson and his Computer Band)

http://www.divshare.com/download/3121627-cc6

It is uncommon to find a track that oozes sensuality. I don’t mean sleaze or cheap thrills, but the pulsating, fuzzy kind of sensuality where each drugged beat pulsates and recreates the awkward moments before a first kiss. This track somehow takes the Kompakt label’s narcotic beats and melds it to the amniotic sac of the best shoegaze and ambient circa early 90s and the result is a track which I have listened to incessantly. This songs cries out for a genre that hasn’t yet been fully explored and I hope some warped soul starts specializing in shoegaze via Kompakt by was of Basic Channel.

A.R. Kane – 69

June 10, 2008

AR Kane

69

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

Totally out of step with anything else in the late 80s, England’s A.R. Kane consisted of a duo, Alex Ayuli and Rudi Tambala. The duo got their start with the One Little Indian and 4ad labels that released two visionary eps, When You’re Sad and Lolita, that laid out a blueprint for the shoegaze movement that followed a few years later. These eps were influenced by ethereal vibes of the 4ad roster, but the sound was also influenced by dub and hinted at the queasy, almost oceanic sound which followed on 69.

In a somewhat unlikely twist they were the A and R in M/A/R/R/S which released the now familiar “Pump Up the Volume” dance track which became a big hit in England and the United States. Instead of cozying up to accessibility, the duo signed to Rough Trade and recorded one of the darkest, idiosyncratic albums for that seminal label. There aren’t many rays of light on this claustrophobic effort as their music echoes the most depressing sounds of the Cure’s Pornography, Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom as well as an appreciation of Krautrock’s most kosmiche moments. In addition, the bass playing on this album is akin to dub after a spoonful of codeine. This music shimmers and each woozy song sort of stumbles into the next. This all makes it sound inaccessible and strange, but somehow it is addictive and catchy in a bizarre way. The lyrics complement the hallucinogenic sounds with lyrics like:

here in my LSdream
things are always what they seem
here in my LSdream, in my LSdreaming

and all the shifting shapes
all changing to grapes
never making mistakes
in my LSdream

and all the peoples, and all the fingers
and all the peoples, and all the fingers
in my LSdream

and circles buzzing with life
tip toe, tip toe, tip toe, tip toe

Now that reads like a bunch of gobbledygook, but when all the elements collide, it is musical manna from the heavens. Enough already, I’m starting to sound like a big hippie.

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.