It Takes A Body&Soul Village

Body&Soul reveals programme for its legendary B&SVillage including full details of lineup. 

Heading into its 15th year as an integral part of the Electric Picnic festival, Body&Soul has unveiled the programme for its Body&Soul Village 2018 (see our playlist at the bottom of the page). Situated at the heart of the EP landscape, Body&Soul is a diverse creative hub where experimental art meets genre breaking music.

This year’s festival goers are in for rather a treat as on top of the cream of Irish rising stars, the Body&Soul stage has also attracted some of the best up and coming artists from abroad including Nashville-based trio The Brummies and Norwegian electro-experimenter Gundelach, whose music we’ve previously featured here on the blog.

Watch the video of his latest release feat. the gorgeous voice of fellow Norwegian artist ARY, who sadly won’t be accompanying Gundelach to Stradbally! Check out her music HERE.

Flying the flag for Ireland will be a host of bright young things including Fresh on the Net alumnus and Derry-native, pensive but perky-pink-popper ROE, whose music has also been featured by FOTN master-in-chief Tom Robinson on his BBC Introducing Mixtapes.

Hit play to check out this beyond-brilliant take on the evil that is Social Media trolling and online bullying here.

Other rising stars repping Ireland across the Body&Soul area will be turbo-charged Bitch Falcon, beyond eclectic Paddy Hanna, soulful poet David Keenan and synth-tastic Galwegian Laoise, whose electro-pop confections are honey to our musical palettes. Festival goers will also be treated to the evocative vocal of Little Wolf aka Lilla Vargen, indie-punk boss-gals Pillow Queens and the pensive electro-poetry of Ryan Vail.

In total, 100 acts will play across four stages – Body&Soul, EarthShip, Peace Pagoda and The Bandstand. Lucky EP ticketholders will also be able to enjoy the fine musical wines purveyed by the likes of dance-diva Soulé, mesmerising beat-makers Hvmmingbyrd, and dark-around-the-edges Sleep Thieves.

And if all that fails to satiate your appetite, punkitude is a dish best served by Fontaines DC, whose live video for Chequeless Reckless you can enjoy here.

We’ve ripped up a B&S playlist below … Get stuck in!

Here’s the full line up across all four stages located in the Body&Soul enclave:

Body & Soul Stage – Bad Bones / Barq / Bitch Falcon / Bon Voyage / Daithí / David Keenan / Fontaines D.C. / Gundelach / James Canty / Halo Maud / Hak Baker / Hvmmingbyrd / LAOISE / Lilla Vargen / O Emperor / Oscar Jerome / Orchid Collective / Paddy Hanna / Pillow Queens / ROE / R.S.A.G. / Ruby Empress / Ryan Vail / Sleep Thieves / Slow Place Like Home / Soulé / Super Extra Bonus Party / The Blue Notes / The Brummies / The Modern Strangers / Tracy Bruen / YOUNGR

Earthship Stage – 1000 Beasts / Baba / Beauty Sleep / Blackbird and Crow / Bobofunk / Bobby Basil / Dreaming of Jupiter / DJ Eamonn Barrett / Elaine Malone / Erica Cody / Fat Puppy / Happy Alone. / Jah Monk / Jazz Jam / Junior Brother / Kate Brennan Harding / Luka Palm / Mother DJs / Munky / Naughty Party / Parly B / Proper Micro NV / Rub a Dub Hi-Fi / Spice Bag / Soul Badger / Susie Q / SYLK / The Clockworks / Turf Softies / Will Softly / Worries Outernational

Peace Pagoda – AGorilla / Baz Hickey / Cáit / Davy Kehoe / Dream~Cycles / Melly / Maria Somerville / Neil Flynn / No Place Like Drone / Now You’re Swingin’ / R. Kitt / Rob Le Nan / Sarah Rossney / Soft Stone / Wastefellow / Zvuku

The Bandstand – Aine Duffy / As Humans / BIRDWOMAN / Cantina Bop / Cathy Flynn / Ciaran Moran / Club Comfort / Dreaming of Jupiter / Dublin Digital Radio / Generic People / H&G Creations / Jus Damien / Justyna Koss / Little One / Ophelia / Phraktal / PrYmary Colours / Reveller / Rosa Nutty / Supagreen Sound Machine / Tanjier / Trick Mist / VJ Jackson / Zapho

Our Body&Soul @ EP 18 playlist features tracks from a selection of the many great artists playing the B&S Village across the three days of EP18. Electric Picnic runs from 31st August to 2nd September in Stradbally, Co. Laois and is completely sold out.  To those of you with tickets, ENJOY!

It’s An All-Irish Go-Live for Forbidden Fruit

With a line up that features The War on Drugs, Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet, Warpaint, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Superorganism, the RHK-based Bulmer’s Forbidden Fruit Festival looks set to be one of the highlights of #summerfest2018. Scheduled to run across the full June Bank Holiday weekend, #FFF18 is a renowned hot-bed for both established and emerging ‘left-field’ music acts. Now, to add fuel to its already scorching fire, the Dublin-based music festival has just announced the return of its All-Irish Bulmers Live Stage featuring twenty Irish acts playing across the three day festival programme.

Rising stars such as Ailbhe Reddy, Lilla Vargen, Erica Cody, AE Mak, the Fontaines and Sylk will join the already stellar cast lined up to entertain the hordes set to take over the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham from 2nd to 4th June next. To celebrate all things emerging and Irish, we’ve whipped up a short Bulmers Live Stage Playlist to help you get both in the know and more importantly, in the mood for the first big Irish festival of Summer 2018. Listen to it below,

In what is has become an annual feature at FFF, the Bulmer’s Live Stage – 100% Irish Music Artists – is platform that plays host to a selection of emerging artists over the three days, promoting the best in new Irish music

Forbidden Fruit will play host to an array of innovative and off-mainstream acts during its three day festorama over the June bank holiday. With acts as diverse as Four Tet, The War on Drugs, Glass Animals, and Bonobo set to light up its many stages, #FFF18 once again looks set to be the ‘hard-shoulder’ of the Irish festival circuit. Amen to that!

Tickets for Bulmer’s Forbidden Fruit Vary in Package/Price

Monday Day (4th) €64.50

Two Day Weekend (Sat 2nd & Sun 3rd) – €119.00

Three Day (Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd, Mon 4th) – €162.50

All tickets available via Ticketmaster.ie

Listen to the DervSwerve #FFF18 Bulmers Live Stage Playlist here,

Soak It Up : Sløtface ‘Sponge State’ EP

Slotface Banner

Fancy some NRG with attitude?  Some riot that’s less grrrl and more ‘oUS‘.  Well get ye some of this … Norwegian rebels with many causes, Sløtface (formerly known as Slutface, in case you’ve been in splendid isolation somewhere in a world without wi-fi), have just unleashed their 4-track debut EP, ‘Sponge State, on the world, and like the ubiquitous frenzied fallen cable a-whip-crackin’ during a midnight storm, this release is one helluva crackling, spark-spitting firebrand.

Sponge state-digital

 

1. Get My Own
Possibly the song most set in the earthy subterranean punk roots of their orthodox defying predecessors.  Combative, formidable and assertive, the song pushes lead woman Shea to the forefront, unapologetic in her demands to be seen, heard and respected in equal measure.  ‘Get My Own’ is a direct challenge to obsolescent values and outdated gender-driven ways of thinking, and sees Shea take an unabashed stand again a backward, repressive discrimination that has for too long, kept women “in the dark”.
 
2. Kill ‘Em With Kindness
Every time I hear this song I can’t help but think of Flo’s ‘A Kiss With A Fist’.  Melodic, feisty pop meets “up yours” lyrics as the band go for the media jugular, tearing a lump out of a misogynistic ‘boys club’ press-corps who’ve spent years earning their living on the back of highly questionable, disparaging attacks on emerging female artists. Although dripping with sarcasm and shot through with a lot of instrumental shrapnel, this punchy numbers redoubtable melodia opened up the perfect opportunity for Sløtface to broaden their much loved pop horizons.

3. Sponge State

The title track and most recent single from these neo-punk poppers, this propulsive RS driven number is a full on ass-kickin anthem. It’s a call to action to their peers to ditch the ipads and the apathy, look up from their screens and SEE what’s going on around them, to them and to the world they live in. Riddled with apoplectic guitar bombs ignited by Shea’s explosive lyrics and on-fire vocals, this is the incendiary track on the EP.

With banner waving lyrics like, “Got these stitches in my lip and they’re keeping me shut tight, l put my headphones on, you see me putting off a fight, And all my encounters shoved in my face, Oh you can really tell it’s fall … A change of pace from a sponge state, a new approach, shaken out, we’re making it”, it’s pretty easy to decipher the message behind the song.

But in case you need a little more by way of enlightenment, check out the accompanying vid, which to my mind, clearly defines the boldly courageous, refreshingly defiant and forward thinking partisans of human, gender and environmental rights that are Sløtface.

4. Shave My Head
When Haley Shea wrote the lyrics to ‘Shave My Head’ she was to her mind, penning a song about women liberating themselves from the demoralising, dismissive and subjugating views of a certain breed of men.
“I was thinking a lot about why women are portrayed negatively as hysterical and emotional, whereas crazy men are portrayed as tortured geniuses. ‘Bitches be crazy’ and such. It’s also a lot about the way we view femininity and relationships and what we expect women to be and how they should behave.”
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To my mind, ‘Shave My Head’ makes the perfect anthem for the stand Sløtface took against the social media jackboot bureaucracy that so unjustly imposed upon their right to promote their music on certain Stateside media outlets.  Instead of kowtowing to the time-warped jobsworths, the band, who probably have a combined IQ of about 600 and are far removed from the gen z stereotype of spoilt brattish upstarts with nothing better to do, came up with a very clever ruse to get around the advertising embargo.
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Defying all odds, they managed to change yet keep their name, by employing a very simple yet highly effective technique.  They simply swapped the “u” for its Norwegian equivalent, “ø”, and used ‘not-changing their name’ to their best advantage by running an hugely successful media campaign to advertise the fact.  In other words, Sløtface weren’t shaving their head or their identity for anyone!
Smart, funny, open minded, brave, defiant, sassy, humane, entertaining and hugely talented.
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If ever there was a band in which you could trust the future of music and indeed, so many other things political, social and cultural, then Sløtface is it.  This isn’t just a band who bang out songs for the sake of it.  This is a band who care about the quality of their songs as much as they care about the quality of the air they breath and the quality of life experienced by those who breath it.  There are many who thought their name was just a gimmick for yet another gimmicky band…they couldn’t have been further from the truth.  No gimmicks here … these guys are the real deal.
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With their debut album due early 2017, Sløtface have a busy Summer ahead of them between writing, recording and ripping up the festival circuit – they start tomorrow at Spydeberg Rock Festival! However, you can expect to continue to be mentally challenged and sonically invigorated as a few more intermittent Sløtface releases are due before the end 2016.
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Sløtface is : Haley Shea (Vocals),  Lasse Lokøy (Bass),  Halvard Skeie Wiencke (Drums) and Tor-Arne Vikingstad (Guitar).
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Their debut EP is out now via Propeller Recordings.  If you’re into a bit of physical fondling : http://amzn.to/1TGKxUe   vs

aspirational sensory seduction by streaming :  https://slotface.lnk.to/spongestateep

Reality is so much better than virtual!!

Noel Gallagher’s Birds Fly From Manchester to Mexico For Record Store Day

Noel Gallagher

Arriba, Arriba

On 16 April, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will release an exclusive, limited edition 12” picture disc for Record Store Day – El Mexicano (The Reflex ‘La Revolucion’ Remixes) – featuring previously unreleased remixes of The Mexican by The Reflex.

Noel Gallagher

The Reflex is a London-based French native Nicolas Laugier, who takes his cue from the first wave of disco remixers by using only the original sounds from the master tapes to breathe new life into soul, pop and disco classics. Fans of The Reflex include Nile Rodgers, Kid Creole, Disclosure, Jazzy Jeff, and Greg Wilson.

Noel is a supporter of Record Store Day and says “Record shops are as important as the records themselves”. 

The Mexican is taken from the number one album Chasing Yesterday, which was one of the highest selling albums in its first week on sale in 2015.

The band have a packed touring schedule this year, playing a sold out UK Arena tour in the Spring with special guests Super Furry Animals, followed by headline festival dates with more to be announced soon.

Live Dates and Track Listing below … meantime, to whet your appetite, here’s a vid of HFB live in concert … enjoy.

 

Live dates:

21/04/16   SSE Hydro, Glasgow

24/04/16   GE AECC, Aberdeen

25/04/16   Echo Arena, Liverpool

27/04/16   First Direct Arena, Leeds

29/04/16   Genting Arena, Birmingham

30/04/16   International Centre, Bournemouth

28-31/07/16   Kendall Calling, Kendall

30/07/16   Y Not Festival, Pikehall

04/08/16   Lytham Green, Nr Blackpool

28/08/16   Victorious Festival, Portsmouth

04/09/16   Festival Number 6, Portmerion

 

Track-listing for the limited edition Record Store Day 12”picture disc: 

  1. El Mexicano (The Reflex ‘La Revolucion’ Vocal Mix)
  2. El Mexicano (The Reflex ‘La Revolucion‘ Dub Mix)
  3. El Mexicano (The Reflex ‘La Revolucion‘ Instrumental)

Sometimes there are no words … Schola Cantorum

Still Frigge Fri
Still Frigge Fri

I’ve said this before, and I am saying it again now.  Sometimes you just have to let the music speak for itself.  You have to let it breathe.  And that is what I am doing with this masterpiece by Bjørn Morten Christophersens, performed by Schola Cantorum, entitled “Oak & Mayfly”, the video for which was directed by Frigge Fri.  The lyrics below, were based on a poem by the wonderful H. C. Andersen.

OAK AND MAYFLY
Growing, stretching, widening, craving
Towered past in a mighty crown

Flying, gliding, dancing, living
Thousands of moments in blissful play

Flying, gliding, dancing, living
– and die

Rustling leaves:
Good night, good night
Poor little mayfly, too short a life

Singing winds:
Good night, old oak, there falls a leaf
Stretch and fly!

Growing, widening
A wonderful dream
A moment forever in the Kingdom of God

Best of 2015 … Norway

Gaffa.no
Gaffa.no

2015 was a magnificent year for Norwegian music … here are what I consider to be the best ofs …

Norway          One to Watch                    Antler

Relatively new to the Norwegian music scene, electro-pop outfit Antler have already caused quite a stir with their debut tracks ‘Animal’ and ‘The Dip’ which were released in late 2015 via newbie Trondheim label, No Forevers.

Antler’s style shifts between electronic dance-pop and alt-pop jazz, with a heavy reliance on multiple layers of synth and electronica and their sound  is a sticky confection of quirky harmonies, come hither vocals, slinky synths and strong percussive beats. It is catchy, offbeat electronic pop that is as charmingly captivating as it is irresistible.

With an album already recorded and scheduled for release in March, 2016 will see Antler hit the live circuit taking in Phonofestivalen, Bergen, in January, and Trondheim Calling in early February.  The coming year should prove both interesting and exciting year for this young  band.  With luck, it’ll also prove to be hugely rewarding!

 

Norway          Breakthrough                    Slutface

Neo-punk come riot grrrl quartet, Slutface,  stormed their way into the Norwegian  music scene this year with their fresh, feisty and fun flavour of frenergetic noise.  Four articulate, intelligent students, Slutface have also effortlessly grabbed the attention of UK media, with their insightful, acerbic lyrics and raucous, catchy sounds.

The band dropped their debut single, ‘Shave my Head’ in November, to universal acclaim.   With its urgent, high energy guitar riffs and drum beats, and attitudinal vocal,  ‘Shave my Head’ is indie-pop-punk at its punchy, addictive best.

Currently working on material for their debut album, which will be released next year, Slutface, a 2015 Nordic meld of Sleater Kinney, No Doubt and Elastica, are on the cusp of becoming one of the biggest acts to emerge out of Norway for quite a long time.  Bring it on grrrl …

 

Norway          Best Solo                             Farao

Multi-instrumentalist, Kari Jahnsen, aka Farao, is like the Nordic embodiment of an Amazonian warrior-woman.  A vocal, musical and visual tour-de-force, Farao released her debut album, ‘Till It’s All Forgotten’ in September and to say it blew the critics away, is putting it mildly.

Resistant to classification, Farao’s music is as unique as it is memorable.  An intricate musical network of sonorus layers and varied textures, it is a complex sound that is quite unlike any other, unique to Farao, and to her alone.

Farao’s vocal goes slightly against the cool, clear, crystal Norwegian grain.  Not unlike Sundfor when she dips down from those iceberg sopranos, Farao’s voice has a warmer, darker, husky tone that whilst being undeniably lovely, gives her vocal ‘an edge’.  Quite apt really considering how defiant her neither indie, nor electronic, nor pop, nor rock sound is.

‘Till It’s All Forgotten’ is a triumphant showcase of Farao’s songwriting skills and instrumental talents.  What happens next, should be even more remarkable.

 

Norway          Best Group                        Dråpe

To be honest, there was a three way tie for this one – in the end what swung it in Dråpe’s favour was continuity and consistency.

2015 has seen this five-piece change lineup, release the single ‘Together We’re Pstereo’, hit the festival circuit, record and release an album plus three further singles, complete a looping tour of Norway and self-produce and release their first music video (more of which anon!).

Second album., ‘Relax/Relapse’, saw them change their recording MO, opting this time around to record on a 24-track tape recorder, which by confining their options, conversely gave them the freedom to be more selective with their choices of what stayed, over what was, “non requis”.  The end result was a more defined, mature and experimental sound, that highlighted the breadth of Dråpe’s abilities as musicians, as well as the depth of front-man, Ketil Myhre’s song writing skills.

February will see Dråpe kick start the new year as part of the Trondheim Calling line up, which will be this reviewers first glimpse of the band live.

One feels that Dråpe are within touching distance of something big.  Will 2016 be the year that sees them follow their ‘friend’ into the ‘stratosphere’?  One certainly hopes so!

 

Norway          Best Video                          Dråpe ‘Round and Around’

From the first clip of Dråpe’s 60’s vibing video, you just know you are in for a fun ride.  An hilarious take on stilted pysch videos a la Procol Harem, with a dash of farcical self-deprecation and some comic genius scripting, this is without doubt the most individual and entertaining video of the year.

No flashy gimmicks, no big budgets, this wittingly conceived of video for the brilliantly sardonic ‘Round and Around’, was scripted, filmed, directed and edited by in-house filmic gurus, Even Hafnor and Lars Boquist, with the help of Hafnor’s professional film-making partner, Lisa Brooke Hansen.

Shot on location around Oslo, the vintage style visual, with its washed out colour grading, bonkers building shots, priceless choreography and deadpan Dråpe expressions, is a stroke of pure visual genius.  Enjoy x

 

Norway          EP of the Year                    Frøkedal ‘I See You’

Anne Lise Frøkedal has thrown everything, probably including the kitchen sink, at 2015 and it’s worked!  This incredibly talented, inventive artist has released single after single, debuted EP ‘I See You’, and rounded off 2015 in style, with the release of hauntingly beautiful electronic-pop song ‘Kid’.  To put the cherry on top of the musical cake, she has also announced the 2016 release of her debut album, which she will promo with a lengthy tour that will include a slot at the “Norwegian Glastonbury”, Oya Festivalen alongside backing band Familien.

Frøkedal’s transition from simplistic folk melodies to dark electronica via a detour through quirky pop, has showcased not only her ability to change and diversify, but also exemplified her seemingly boundless song writing talents.

Without doubt a solo Anne Lise has had a standout 2015 – one wonders what myriad routes Frøkedal will take her sound down in 2016?

 

Norway          Album of the Year

Susanne Sundfor has had a jet propelled 2015.  Unleashing the magnificent opus, ‘Ten Love Songs’ upon the musicverse at the start of the year, she has toured extensively, been feted by the creme de la creme of radio hosts including those at the Beeb, headlined festivals, made stunning visuals, and even now, still shows no sign of letting up, with more dates pencilled into the diary for 2016, starting with PolarJazz.

‘Ten Love Songs’ is Sundfor’s musical diary of her relational experiences – the good, the bad and the bleak. It is a paradoxical menagerie of every feeling of bliss, every ounce of pain, every spasm of venom, and every wave of euphoria, that anyone who has ever loved, been loved, or been flailed by love, has experienced.

Part electronic adrenalin rush, part neo-classical sublimeness, always unique, ‘Ten Love Songs’ is as electic a range of songs as you could hope to find on album.  With Sundfor’s pitch perfect voice, as cool and clear as a Norwegian mountain stream, her adept keyboard skills and an exacting ear for a wonderful arrangement, this is the album that has brought her closest to the holy grail of all albums, the ‘magnum opus’.

As the song goes, “things can only get better”!  How much better, we will have to wait and see.

Farao ‘Til It’s All Forgotten’

Gold Celeste ‘The Glow’

Susanne Sundfor ‘Ten Love Songs’

 

Norway          Song of the Year

Once heard, never forgotten!

Beautiful, wonderful, awesome, amazing, stunning, superb, classy…the amount of adjectives I have both seen and heard describing this song, could fill several pages.  ‘The Wonder of Love’ by Gold Celeste, yet another act that defy classification, is the hands down, standout Norwegian song of 2015.  And, that’s not just my opinion.

Everyone to whom I have sent the link, shared the video, directed towards Spotify, have all said the same thing – just using different words.

This honeyed, soulful stunner, is musical elegance personified.  In a league of it’s own, it is a disarming wonder of musical loveliness conjured up by three exceptionally gifted musicians.

Having seen Gold Celeste play live, I can attest to their superb musicianship – these guys know no musical boundaries, there are no sonic hills they cannot climb.  Brilliantly creative, lyrically insightful, vocally sublime and instrumentally unparalleled, musical magicians Gold Celeste have, what I can only hope is, a truly wonderful future ahead of them.

Genius deserves to be rewarded … and Gold Celeste are instrumental Einsteins!

Maribel ‘And Back In’

Susanne Sundfor ‘Fade Away’

Gold Celeste ‘The Wonder of Love’

Three years on, there’s “Still Life” in We Came as Strangers

WE CAME AS STRANGERS – Still Life

We came as strangers  Still Life

“We came as strangers” is not just a band-name, it is also the backstory to how this foursome came to be. In late 2012, four strangers came together to record music, and, in less than three years, have managed to release three albums, (all written and recorded within two-week timeframes) of “deep rooted grooves, … and whimsical melodies”.

Works for me AND very obviously works for them!

The opening sounds of “Still Life” remind me of the chimes of a grandfather clock, and, this rhythmic chime intermittently loops in and out, weaving together both halves of the song.

There are some utterly gorgeous, intriguing guitar sequences set alongside dreamy synth sounds. And ooh that schleppy scratching shoe scraping* percussive sound is just infectious. (*I’m sure there is a technical term for it – open to being educated).

This is a track on which the musicianship is truly highly skilled.

Vocalist Ellem has great reach, and a lovely, clear quality to her voice, similar to a young Andrea Corr back in the “Runaway” heyday of 90s. She takes a relaxed approach to her “Still Life” vocal, keeping it gorgeously chilled, whilst having the nous to modulate the inflection, thereby adding more emotional umpah during the sonically powerful chorus.

“We came as strangers” obviously became friends, and, are now a firmly established collaborative co-op. Theirs is a fine blend of genius creativity, fantastic imagination, and skilful craftsmanship. Their new album “Eyedom” is out on 31st August.

You can find out more about We Came As Strangers on their website – http://wecameasstrangers.com

Follow them on Twitter  – https://twitter.com/WeCameAsStrangehttps

Subscribe to their YouTube account – https://www.youtube.com/user/wecameasstrangers

Hey Mr Mirror Man, “Does Caroline Know?”

B&W2

“Maybe when the heat’s away you’re fine
To put another drink away is out of line, out of line”

When Talk Talk went into studio to record their second album, they did so in the knowledge that they would inevitably garner the same damning feedback which they so stoically received for their first affair, “The Party’s Over”. 

“On pain of being a member of Talk Talk!  The starched shirts, the meaningful expressions, the dry ice, the anguish, the adenoids, not to mention the snide reviews!” [Smash Hits, 17th March, 1983]

Originally given the title “The Chameleon Hour”, “It’s my Life”, recorded over the course of 1983, and, released by EMI in 1984, benefitted from several changes:- in personnel, instrumentation and musical direction.  Keyboard player Simon Brenner was despatched, duties being transferred to the now legendary Phil Ramacon (songwriter//producer); guitars & acoustic piano were in, and so was funk ‘n jazz.

“We’re introducing a lot of different things … (we) put on a bit of guitar today … although it’s only feedback.  The first album was 90% synth, but now we’re covering a lot of new ground – lots of acoustic piano, fretless bass, using the jazz side of more openly.  In a lot of ways it’s as simple as the early stuff was, but there’s just a bit more variation happening, you can hear what all the instruments are trying to do, instead of having a wall of sound”. “What we are doing on the new album is not to use chords to block things, but instead give everything a lot more room to develop”.[Mark Hollis]

1984

“So easy with a thief to blame, for breaking every pledge I’ve made
Does it matter if I can’t say, Caroline knows”

Track 8 on “It’s my Life” EMI 1984, is the song “Does Caroline Know”.

Fluid, slick and sophisticated, it is a far remove from their “post-punk” sound of 1982.  More resonant of Otis Redding, a huge Hollis musical influence, the soulful dynamic is clearly evident between the sad overtones of Hollis voice and Webb’s  multifaceted, exquisite basslines. It is the percussion driven rhythm section that is fundamental to this song’s success. Intricate, clever percussion underpins the sound, which is overlaid with sweeping, twisting, melodic synth of Tim Friese-Greene, a new addition to the Talk Talk studio line up, who was to become Hollis’ song-writing collaborator and a significant contributor to the future development of the band’s musical style.

Sample 1 – “Does Caroline Know”Taken from Talk Talk Live in Montreux, July 1984.

“Out in the street today
We’re parading around
We’re the height of the fashion
And she laughs ‘cos we look the same
And follow all of the rule”

The above sample opened with this  snippet from another Talk Talk song – “Mirror Man”, which leads us nicely into this review by the Record Mirror, written by someone purporting to be a music journalist.

Record Mirror: 25th February 1984 (Unaccredited)

“Talk Talk are probably really nice geezers. Like a drink, good to their mums, maybe even go to football. Good blokes. EMI like ‘em too. Because they can play their instruments and they comb their hair and they write songs with a smattering of tune and they write words that say precisely nothing. EMI must like ‘em – look, they’ve let ‘em make another record. Another record to go with the Private Lives records and the Re-Flex records that EMI seems to bloody adept at excreting on Mr Pop Punter.

But that’s not to say Talk Talk are rubbish. Talk Talk aren’t rubbish. Talk Talk are just crushingly, excruciatingly average. There is absolutely nothing to distinguish them. No edge. No identity. Talk Talk are Duran without the lust for success, Roxy without the sloe-eyed style, Tears for Fears without the suicidal touch. But gloomy they are! ‘It’s my Life’ is just one long negative river of regret, a gluttony of guilt, a tribute to torpor. When Mark Hollis gets emphatic, as on the title track or broody in ‘Such as Shame’ or kooky in ‘Call in the Night Boy’ the reaction is always the same. Shuddup bore! I’ll never listen to It’s my Life again.”

Its my life

The difficulty I have with the above review is that the reviewer (who was reviewing the full album) is clearly incorrectly comparing Talk Talk with bands with whom they have absolutely nothing in common.  Too often have they been inaccurately considered in the same breath as Duran Duran – different sound, different image, different MO, and, likened to Roxy – all down to Hollis’ similar posturing on stage (there are a raft of other comparisons including Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Soft Cell, Fergal Sharkey, the list is endless!).

Alluring alliteration I think not.  Cynically smug, morelike.  The reviewer misses the point of “Such a Shame”, the excellence of “Tomorrow Started” and chooses to completely ignore the shift in musical gear which the album takes, and the move towards musical maturity of which it is indicative.

Sample 2- “Does Caroline Know”Taken from Rotterdam Live September 1984.

“Every little accident takes time
Forget about mistakes I’ve made they’re left behind, left behind”

The live performances of “Does Caroline Know” have these long piano driven, orchestral-like, instrumental sections, which the studio version doesn’t have (the original is 4.31, the live performances are averaging over 8 minutes).

In fact, the studio version doesn’t contain any acoustic piano – it’s all whining synth playing over a light-touch percussive backbeat and funked up,looping bassline.  It is a much simpler, less melodramatic affair than it’s live counterparts; much more electronic in sound than the elaborate, high level arrangements of the lives.  Doffing of hat to Ian Curnow for conceiving of an amazing synth produced ‘electric guitar’ solo.  “Rockin'” .  Who said Talk Talk didn’t have an edge?

It is with the studio version, that this musical journey comes to an end.   Lyrics below, as always.

And as for Caroline, who is she and what does she know?  Well, you’re going to have to ask the elusive Mr Hollis that one  Good luck with that then!!

“So easy with a thief to blame, for breaking every pledge I’ve made
Does it matter if I can’t say, Caroline knows, Caroline knows”

TALK TALK – “DOES CAROLINE KNOW”  1984  (from the album “It’s my Life”, not released as a single).

Maybe when the heat’s away you’re fine
To put another drink away is out of line, out of line

So easy with a thief to blame, for breaking every pledge I’ve made
Does it matter if I can’t say, Caroline knows

Every little accident takes time
Forget about mistakes I’ve made they’re left behind, left behind

So easy with a thief to blame, for breaking every pledge I’ve made
Does it matter if I can’t say, Caroline knows, Caroline knows

So easy with a thief to blame, for breaking every pledge I’ve made
Does it matter if I can’t say, does it matter if I can’t say, Caroline knows

Songwriters
HOLLIS, MARK DAVID

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

“IT’S MY LIFE” ARTWORK BY JAMES MARSH.

“All you do to me is Talk Talk”, but it’s a moot point.

1982 Zig Zag

Retrospectively speaking …

If often amazes me when I read reviews of bands/artists/musicians from back in the day.  I read the content and wonder if the review has been mistitled?  Am I actually reading about this and that band/singer??  Well, yes.  More often than not, the title is correct, and the anti-sentiments ARE indeed directed at the artist(s) in question.  I use the term “anti-sentiment” predominantly because I feel that a lot of these subjective commentaries are made as a result of some gagging, heaving reflex that some journalists have when a new talent comes on the scene, especially those who appear to be the apple of the record labels eye – something which befell Talk Talk after they signed to EMI and were heavily promoted as being the next big thing.

It was unfortunate for the group that they were stable mates of New Romantic royalty Duran Duran; it was even more regrettable that lead singer, Mark Hollis, had adopted a closed-eyed, head shaking stage persona, whose mannerisms were hugely resonant of Bryan Ferry, something for which he was continuously ridiculed (but who is parodying the parody?).

Spewing out casual under par verbal vitriol seemed to be par for course.  It’s a lot easier to make a sweeping criticism than actually take the time to pen a musically intelligent review – maybe that was part of the problem, maybe some of these folks were lacking in musical intelligence.   Or maybe, it was more hip to be a bit “outré”, a bit anti-establishment; man and his weapon of mass destruction – a manual Remington.

In light of their success (and let’s face it, Talk Talk were successful enough to allow Hollis to effectively retire in 1998 at the age of 43),  I’m fascinated to know if the opinions of these wunderkinds of music media have changed over the years?

How did these music journalists feel when their words proved wholly inaccurate, when their predictions fell flatter than the tone in which they were written?  Hmmm….

Let’s mix up some commentaries made about Talk Talk over the years and see how they panned out!  Fancy some music, while you’re mulling over these words of wisdom?  Sure thing 🙂

Examples A

Anonymous from the “Record Mirror” 17th April, 1982.

“Watery reflections of Duran Duran and Simple Minds, a contrived looking image of pretty boys all in white – gee, is virginity making a comeback? – and that’s about the size of it. The next big what? Don’t make me laugh”.

All in White

Mike Nicholls “Record Mirror” 17th July, 1982. 

“Nothing to Say”   Talk Talk :”The Party’s Over”

“The Party’s what!!??? Hang on, I can see their point. Meticulously packaged as EMI’s brightest new pop-age futurists yet with two non-hits behind them, Talk Talk must be wondering if they haven t already shot their gleaming poisoned arrow.  Except there’s no poison, just the bland leading the bland down a foggy thoroughfare of synthesized nothingness. Okay, so they’re young and singer-songwriter Mark Hollis should get over his Ferry fixation and adolescent lyrics.

Rather than regarding themselves as pretty boys – which is just as well – Talk Talk adopt the pose of serious artists but just end up making complete bozos of themselves … if they are to get any farther these guys should seriously contemplate their roles in the universe as we know it.”

Jim Reid “Record Mirror” 13th November, 1982.

I say…I say

Loquacious Talk Talk meet garrulous Jim Reid.

“Mark Hollis is very earnest about his music.  Though his band have often been written off as shallow and plastic, there is a seriousness and honesty about Talk Talk’s approach that will help them to outlast their more lauded rivals.  Simply, Talk Talk put their music first and worry about the trimming later.  Mark stands in contrast to the other, younger, members of the band, having a more restrained, reflective attitude to life.”

Stand up that man, Jim Reid – the only one of three (out of several) writers for “Record Mirror” to get it!  And let’s face it, Mike Nicholls was just plain rude.  There was no relevant context to the piece – it was just a negative rant about nothing.  And as for anonymous, well, the anonymity says it all really.  I totally dig the fact the JR gets that it was all about the music, and moreso that he “got” where Hollis was coming from.  Back in 1982, all shiny and new Rom electronic noise, “restrained, reflective” weren’t really done!  So respect for getting that and the 10/10 for the prediction: “Talk Talk’s approach that will help them to outlast their more lauded rivals”

Fast forward –

Photo 3

And here we go again……….Would you like some more noise?  Course ya would!

Examples B

Anonymous from the “Melody Maker” 11th January, 1986.

Talk Talk’s “Life’s What You Make It”

“Talk Talk (to the best of my recollection) used to be a poxy synth band with grandiose ambitions and though this, their first record for ages, is choked in a stranglehold of production intricacy, the underlying song seems better than their burbling twaddle of old.

Sophisticated but not too clever-dick, the song doesn’t boast a great deal of personality, but it’s one of those that insinuates its way onto the airwaves and makes if perpetrators very rich indeed.

Probably worth keeping an eye on.”

Gavin Martin, “NME”, 22nd February, 1986.

“Hark! First Cuckoo” Talk Talk: The Colour of Spring (EMI)

NME: 22nd February 1986

Talk Talk music moves so warily, so slow, sombre, and stilted that they seem to actively decry any drive or warmth. Bestriding the huge empty husk of progressive rock they attempt to piece together a sparkling, meaningful sound picture, but are trapped by the dreary Hollis poetry (all there on the sleeve in scrawny schoolboyish handwriting) and the way they make everything sound like a long, gruelling journey through Hades.

Still, they have the straining despair and moribund conventional approach that passes for rigorous intellect and challenging pop in some quarters. A sad reflection on the dumb, dull mega-market but Talk Talk could become this year’s Tears For Fears.

Anonymous from the “Melody Maker” 10th May, 1986.

Talk Talk’s “Give it Up”

“Secretly, I’ve spent many a quiet hour with the ravishing Talk Talk album, one of those really great records that sneaks up on you unawares to become a family favourite. This band are so clever and so understated, full and rich with textural style that is never loud or jarring but relies on intricacy and sensuality to convey its delicate flavours. It’s my humble opinion that Talk Talk are a pocket of unsung genius in this often uninspired realm of pop. Let the single swirl around you as a taster of their infinite variety.”

Dissection:-

Anonymous 1 is hedging his bets. He is staying with the negative grain ( he reminds me of a resentful Communist – oh those Capitalists making money, oh poor me!) whilst admitting in a rather oblique way that the song has potential.

#Understatement.

Gavin Martin – really? Is this the best you can come up with?? “scrawny schoolboyish handwriting” – how childish are you?? Is this a music review or playground nah-na-nahs!

And oh – “A sad reflection on the dumb, dull mega-market” – who are you insulting there dude?? The sad market that bought the NME and now no longer does, methinks and wonders why!

Anonymous 2 – well, thank you.  You listened to the music and you appreciated it.  And beyond that, you actually commented on it! Not on the look, the attitude, the record company, the facial expression, the sales or otherwise.  Just about the music.

Like Talk Talk always were….about the music.

Where are you now?  And what do you feel/think/opine…..answers on a postcard to Anonymous@wordpress !!!

Uber Cool Colour of Spring Photo

I’ll leave you with this piece of musical wondrousness……only you can make up your own mind whether these dudes of the day, were wrong or right.  I know where I stand.

Mark Hollis – On Music 1998 ( A Transcript)

“Some Important Lessons On Music”, by Mark Hollis – taken from an interview with Danish TV, 22nd February 1998.

Mark during interview

When Mark Hollis brought out his only solo album (to-date), he gave this interview with a Danish TV station.  It was interspersed with Talk Talk//Hollis songs, which were subsequently removed, to reduce the viewing time of the “actual” interview.  I have transcribed the text of the interview here.  I’ve followed this with the abridged interview itself.  And finally, I’ve included video/audio for the tracks that were originally included in the TV programme.

My suggestion is that you listen to the tracks in between the various silos of the interview – musical ad breaks as it were!

1. Playing the Right Note.

“Before you play two notes, learn how to play one note, y’know. And that, it’s as simple as that really.  And don’t play one note unless you’ve got a reason to play it.”

2. Love of Music.

“The reason you’re doing it is for the love of music.  It’s not, to like, try and get some kind of commerciality.”

3. On “Spirit of Eden”.

” “Spirit of Eden”, I kind of think that was very much like, in a way where all those earlier albums were trying to get to.  And then having got there, I then think the important thing is that, y’know, you either, you either just stop making records at that point because you’ve kind of reached what you were trying to get, or from that point, you seriously redress, y’know, these other areas that you, that you go for.”

4. The Magic of the First Take.

“When you improvise, and you play something for the first time, you kind of play it at it’s peak.  And if you kind of like play something and then you think “oh I like that” and then you replay it, you never quite get it.  It’s like the thing of demoing, y’know if you demo a track, no matter how badly you try to demo it, there will always be a quality within it that you  subsequently would try to recreate, which you shouldn’t do.”

5. The Voice is an Instrument.

“The thing with the vocal is just y’know to, like you’re saying, treat it like an instrument.  It’s not there to dominate.  It’s just there to sit in the kind of landscape along with everything else, y’know, and it’s kind of like, start from a melodic point of view,  then, think about the kind of y’know, the kind of inflections that it should have soundwise, and similar if you’re looking at a clarinet, at certain notes, there might be a certain kind of way you want to hear that note, that note, y’know sound, so that when you write the lyric you have that as an actual, y’know, block that you must write to.  You must write this lyric phonetically in order for it to sing, with a certain way.  And then you must write the lyric in a way that, when you sing it, you’re going to have belief in it.”

6. On “Laughing Stock”.

“You take like the first track on that album, ah, “Myrrhman”, and it was kind of like “Ok, Let’s, let’s write a track here where no part of it ever gets repeated”.  Y’know, it’s just totally a movement like this (points hands moving forward in a straight line), rather than any recognisable song form.  And then you move into like, “Ascension Day”, and it would be like, ok on this one, across these three verses, verse one will be a ten bar verse, verse two will be a nine bar verse, verse three will be an eight bar, and, but, that what you do as this thing is shortening up on you, vocally you’ve still got to hold it, but that what you do is you turn the on-beat onto the off-beat, and you have one person understanding the down-beat as being in this place in the bar and the person playing next to him not even realising that’s the down-beat at all but seeing it as the up-beat.  So that was, that was the main premise to that album and again we continued with this free improvised form to it.”

7. Using Film.

“The one thing that I did wonder about doing for this album was to get together with ah, y’know somebody and make a film for this album. And that, that would interest me, but I don’t think, it would be much more a film along the kind of lines of, y’know, if you were sitting in a room and you were sort of like, just looking at an open fire, and you just have like this area of movement.  I quite like things, y’know like, I like water as a form of movement.  I think water’s got great shape and motion to.”

Water Image

8. Make it Timeless.

“The ideal is that the album won’t be recognisable as having come from any time, having been recorded in any particular year.  And the fact you’re working with acoustics, helps, means, you can’t date.”

9. Listening.

“Ideally, the way to listen to it is alone, extremely quietly.  I don’t think you should ever push the volume level beyond the natural volume that the instruments would have been in the room.”

10. Silence.

“I like silence.  I get on great with silence, you know. I don’t have a problem with it.  It’s just silent, y’know.  So it’s kind of like well if you’re going to break into it, just try and have a reason for doing it.”

11. Performing.

“I can’t imagine not playing music, but I don’t feel any need to perform music and, I don’t feel any need to record music.  I’m really quite happy just to play one note, and just to hit it at different volume levels.  And just, y’know, see how long it will resonate for, before it stops.”

Tracks featured during the Interview:

1. Such a Shame – from the album “It’s my Life” 1984

2. Dum Dum Girl – from the album “It’s My Life” 1984

3. Life’s What You Make It – from the album “Colour of Spring” 1986

4. I Believe in You – from the album “Spirit of Eden” 1988

5. Myrrhman – from the album “Laughing Stock” 1991

5. Inside Looking Out – from the album “Mark Hollis” 1998