Tuesday, September 16

Horrors recording finished.

The Horrors have finished recording their second album, with enough tracks laid down to make for an 11- or 12-track LP and some singles, and are due to release it around March. The first single - and therefore the first sample of what has been rumoured to be a new sound - is due to be let loose before Christmas (although it should be remembered that the same was said around this time last year), with more to follow before the album. Presumably we can be expecting promotional live dates before too long as well. Good news all round for those who were doubting that the band would resurface any time soon.

Monday, September 15

ddd: drown. FREE DOWNLOAD

We're pleased to offer ddd's 'Drown', the standout track on their recent self-titled EP, as a free audio download.
Click here to download 'Drown'.

We described the track as a 'mechanical guitar squall', saying that 'a persistently simple riff lays the foundations for an extended introduction of synthesised beats and noises, before Woollaston’s laconically malignant vocals slice defiant words into the mixture'.

Download it now, and visit the ddd page at myspace.com/onehundredrecords to listen to more. The EP is available in a number of good record stores.

Thursday, September 4

OFFSET FESTIVAL. review, pt. 2;


Two thirds of An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump returned to the stage early on Sunday afternoon to open the day again, this time in their guise of Eve Black/Eve White. As with their other group, the duo can’t be described as an exciting live act in the traditional sense, but their deep vocal stylings and haunting electronics sent a shiver down the spine and once again spread an instant atmosphere around the tent, not least with a superb cover of Otis Blackwell’s Fever.

The next act, Maria and the Mirrors, had more in common than An Experiment... than the Eves, with their drums and bass guitar set-up, but also shared a distinctive hypnotising tribal wail with Effi Briest. As far as the two ladies literally mirroring each other on the drums and pumping out these soulful evocations went, they were a fascinating live act, with elements of New York punk-funk groups ESG and Liquid Liquid; but the fly in the ointment was their bassist, who lurked at the back of the stage between the two. The framing effect and the drums and costumes made the whole performance look a bit like a pagan sacrifice, and the imposing central figure exerted an extreme influence, jabbering horribly into the microphone and actually halting the drummers with his hand several times. The distorted bass gave the sound a thrilling edge in contrast to the drums and chanting, but the overall impression was simply one of ego. If that’s reined in, though, Maria and the Mirrors will prove a promising addition to the shriekbeat canon.

Occupying the next slot were O Children. The stage was an intriguing sight before they came on with its central microphone at least a foot higher than its partners on either side, but when the four-piece arrived they got straight down to a riveting set of no-nonsense post-punk. The immense presence of vocalist Tobias seemed to lend the whole band a sense of unity, and they tore through a brief set of songs ranging from creepily downbeat (Ace Breasts and Dead Disco Dancer) to creepily triumphant (Radio Waves). Their obsessive lyrics tie the disparate sounds together, and a set of melodies which are both substantial and instantly memorable make O Children an excellent package, and one which is sure to garner more attention. Listen now.

The Ruling Class swagger onto the stage and launch into their psychedelic Madchester sound as though they’re playing Brixton Academy. While the music they play is by no means original, it’s both unusual in modern indie rock, and possessed of an enticing vibrancy. Jonathan Sutcliffe on vocals bears a slight and highly appropriate resemblance to Ian Brown, and the riffs and harmonies on Flowers and Umbrella Folds scream Waterfall, but it’s difficult to criticise the energy the five-piece show, and far easier just to sit back and enjoy Tomas Kubowicz’s intricate guitar lines and Alfie Tammaro’s baggy backbeat. A couple of high-profile support slots in the near future should establish this band as firm ‘ones to watch’, and it seems likely that they’ll get the popular status that they so clearly crave. Whether their current material will hold up to radio scrutiny is a separate matter.

Having dropped vocalist Thomas Warmerdam only three weeks before their Offset performance, Electricity In Our Homes have become a jerky power trio with all three remaining members contributing vocals. These weren’t perhaps as strong as they could have been, and Warmerdam’s distinctive voice is still missed, but promising touches on a set of all-new material including an excellent cover of the Beach Boys’ Little Honda show a development already underway. This was after all their first gig as a three-piece, and in time the new format should offer more freedom to experiment for one of London’s most innovative bands.

As ever, The Violets gave a performance which is technically flawless and delivered with extreme competence: Alexis Mary is a perfect frontwoman, slinking across the stage to deliver everything from a croon to a shriek and even improvising to fill in for a missing melodica, and Joe Daniel’s guitar work gathers unsettling flickering and storms of noise in one masterful stroke, almost making the band’s rhythm section obsolete of his own accord (though they too are highly professional). There is something about them, though, which is slightly unsatisfying; I would say they lacked soul were it not for the emotional depths of their songs, but it' probably just that they’re too polished and competent, especially when following the DIY charms of Electricity In Our Homes. Their set is highly enjoyable and very energetic, but slips past quickly without leaving much lasting impact. That’s hardly a complaint however, and I would hate to give the impression that they aren’t a great live band. See and enjoy them; they play rarely enough.

They’re followed by a much-anticipated set by Neils Children, who have been working in seclusion on their LP X.Enc. for the past few months. Some album tracks surface, including the revived Communiqué and Sometimes It’s Hard To Let Go, and recent single Reflective/Surface gets an enthusiastic reception, but more surprising is the presence in the set of older songs such as Stand Up and the closing attack of ancient-but-great single Come Down. Could it be that John Linger, ever the progressive, is finally embracing his band’s past? An interesting diversion is provided by the SKIPTheatre company, who perform a piece of PiL-soundtracked physical theatre before Neils Children take the stage, as well as skipping with hoops and scattering black feathers during An Exchange in an echo of the collaboration on the band’s latest video for I’m Ill.

The final performance of the evening, aside from a slightly dubiously-placed late set from electronic act Prinzhorn Dance School, were Ipso Facto, who proved the persistence of their current rise by filling the tent for the first time. The band have taken leaps and bounds since their early concerts, and their skill as musicians is now beyond question; Victoria Smith in particular has turned into a sharp and skilful drummer. Theirs isn’t exactly music to fight to, but they certainly created an eerily beautiful atmosphere in the packed tent with their sombre and serene psychedelia, before finishing with a triumphant new song in - controversially - a major key, which spread the smile from their faces throughout the audience. As happy, bob-haired aficionadoes spilled grinning out of the tent, it was obvious that Ipso Facto had taken another step on their ascendant road, and provided the perfect way to close the Experimental Circle Club tent for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 3

OFFSET FESTIVAL. review, pt. 1;


The epicentre of the more interesting side of the weekend was the Experimental Circle Club stage. Erroneously but somewhat appropriately named ‘The Experimental Circus’ by one particular member of Offset staff, the tent provided high-quality sounds throughout the festival: the diversity of the music on offer was clear from a glance at the line-up, which progressed from the crazed electronoise of Cementimental opening the Saturday afternoon to a refined but joyful psychedelic set from Ipso Facto on Sunday evening.

The first song-based act to take the ECC stage was An Experiment on a Bird Pump, who drew a fair crowd thanks to growing media attention (as well as the backing of The Horrors’ Faris Badwan). Despite delays which lasted throughout the weekend putting their set back by an hour, the Birds didn’t disappoint, and their soulful vocals and grunge instrumentation provided a good warmup for what is still to come. They’re by no means a band given to vulgar displays of power and speed, but a taut energy ran through their set and their restrained pace and musical minimalism perfectly suited their afternoon slot.

They were followed almost immediately by I Am The Arm, reduced to a three-piece after the recent departure of bassist Kane Martindale and who give performance of great intensity but one which showed the strain of the reduction. It’s particularly clear when vocalist Cyan Assiter-Clark is forced to switch from bass to guitar, and then to synthesiser, in the space of only three or four songs that, having only recently replaced their drummer, the Arm clearly need a new bassist as well. But they’re still making strides in songwriting and technical competence and the future looks bright, particularly with rumours of a release with DiscError floating about. Only time will tell.

Although ddd were set to follow, Paul Simmons (the guitarist for Ulterior, making a guest appearance in place of the absent John Kontos) had left his guitar pedals in Hackney and, rather than accept the alternatives offered, had gone to fetch them and left a hole in the programme which was filled by Futurism Vs. Passeism. Unfortunately, the phrase ‘plagued by technical problems’ has never been more appropriate: with the drum pads and microphone both playing up and the band becoming visibly frustrated, relief was sought in the New Bands tent as they struggled through their set. The technical failures would have been disappointing to any band at any time, and must be a constant danger for Futurism’s extensive electronics, but for a group playing a return show with new members and material they proved doubly crushing. Hopefully a future demonstration of the band’s developments hasn’t been ruled out.

ddd, arriving on stage a short while later after Simmons’ return, proved a blistering contrast to Fvs.P’s mystical electronic meltdown. A sharp and noisy sound attack is always guaranteed with Darryl Woollaston’s project, but Simmons’ contributions lent it, if possible, even more anger - his frantic slashing at the high end of the guitar strings were a perfect background to Woollaston’s robotically rhythmic guitar and vocals. A triumphant collaboration.

After a weird and not entirely wonderful set from No Bra, whose cult appeal I fail to understand, there was a noticeable crowding of the tent in anticipation of a performance from S.C.U.M, the band of the moment. The group arrived from an earlier performance in Norwich only shortly before taking the stage, and there had been some ill-feeling over their requests for a later slot (which were not entirely unjustified when the rest of the day’s bill was considered). Although slightly robbed of their atmosphere by being performed in full daylight, Thomas Cohen’s echoing vocals and the group’s tribal drums and menacing synth lines fetched a fair response from a crowd whose lack of movement apparently belied their appreciation, based on the positive words that could be heard in the tent after Rauridh Connellan had destroyed his drum kit and lurched over the front barrier before disappearing behind the stage. Cohen is developing into an iconic Nick Cave-style frontman, and their forthcoming single Visions Arise should cement S.C.U.M’s status as the Next Big Thing; whether they can sustain the bubble is a matter for the future, and at the moment they are a band living very much in the present.

Night had fallen by the time Factory Floor took the stage, and an audience which grew steadily throughout their set showed that their artistic draw is a great deal more powerful than their media presence. Latest single Bipolar has been absent from their live performances almost since its release, and most of their set consisted of new material, although Francis Francis (their next release) got an enthusiastic reception with its screaming guitar line. Factory Floor are moving away from their obvious influences into territory which is entirely their own, and although they aren’t a band that court the spotlight, they must sooner or later be thrust inevitably into it.

Of all the lineup changes in evidence on Saturday, perhaps the most drastic was from Micron 63, who have doubled in size in the past few months to a live four-piece. Their place on the bill was a little unusual for a group who have received little media attention and who are yet to release their first single. A more obvious move would have been to give a popular group with more stage presence such as Ulterior this peak slot, and to move Micron 63 to later in the night when their pounding bass synth and flickering vocals could have made for an excellent dance set. They were a little lost on an early crowd who are still gearing up for the night, but still put in a decent show which pointed to a great deal of potential.

When Ulterior did take the stage it was towards midnight and most of those who weren’t camping had left. Their performance closed the night acrimoniously with heckling from the back of the tent, and a tense set showed the growing influence of stadium rock on the group: they seem to be taking their love of the Manic Street Preachers to new extremes with a more tuneful sound.

Pt. 2 EXP. CIRC. SUNDAY to be posted tomorrow.; both parts and more to be published soon in an Offset edition of The New Thing fanzine.; watch.this.space.