Tuesday, August 31

RIP NC / something new.

Some possibly overdue news: after ten years of musical restlessness, the entity that is Neils Children has been terminated. Core members John Linger and Brandon Jacobs have clearly realised that it's time (as ever) to move on, and will be playing a final half-set at Offset Festival this weekend (Sunday, 5pm, ECC Tent), featuring choice picks from their unusually diverse back catalogue. It might be said that the group's failure ever to crack the mainstream was due to their constant refusal to settle into any musical niche for more than a few months, but one result is that they leave behind them a legacy ranging from garage rock to snotty psychedelic punk, from grooving new wave to juddering noise.

However, it's not the end for the individuals who made up the group: together with Linger's brother Paul and Bonnie Carr (of Electricity In Our Homes) and ska DJ Eli Deutsch (of Nowhere To Run Club) they've formed a soul quintet named The Drop Five. They'll be taking over for the second half of the Offset show to unveil some new Style Councilesque songs, apparently influenced by 'European Cafe culture, Hammond Organ and positive and uplifting Soulful sounds'. Neils Children is finished, but it doesn't look like their constantly changing musical journey is over yet.

Wednesday, August 11


The trick here: conjure up a cloud of psychedelic shoegazing guitar, and then nail it down with a precise and angular post-punk rhythm section. The towering, omnipresent guitar envelopes the mix throughout Masculin/Féminin, creating a strange and intriguing tension with the sharp, concrete bass and drum parts - guitar as female, bass and guitar as male? If any band is likely to pick such a conceptual title for a release, it's these three ostensibly cerebral young men.

In any case, this musical sleight-of-hand is pulled off here with style. Demontré have learned on this release how to channel their shimmering/solid sound effectively: they've stopped trying to write pop hooks and focussed on atmosphere. (It's no accident that previous single 'Brandenburg' is both the most melodic track here and the weakest, especially when the floating, numinous guitar dives right in to dance rigidly with the bass.) Vocal melodies float tantalisingly through Jonathan Mead's pedalboard ether without surrendering their secrets. Ambient samples weave in and out to fill the spaces between tracks. There's movement, there's rhythm - sometimes you can dance - but you won't find any instant pop gratification here. That's good.

What you will find instead is a seven-track helping of eerie death-disco beats, distant swirling vocals, and swooning six-string cartwheels. Standout track 'Lorenheim' is a grunge ballad lost in the fog, Smashing Pumpkins filtered through Slowdive, while 'Wholly Communion' brews up a sluggish psychedelic storm, gliding into the ear and insinuating itself into the cortex. The atmosphere and the tension builds and then slackens, from the catapulting segue of 'Vale of Health' to the low-key, piano-led, somewhat dubiously titled 'The Lion King'. With any luck you'll leave satisfied, because Demontré appear finally to have fulfilled their potential. What's next?