Mildlife – groovy spacey jazz, funk and disco

Mildlife - PhasePhase is the debut album by Australian quartet, Mildlife released on 23rd February via Research Records.

Mildlife use elements of spacey jazz, funk, psych and disco to produce groovy sunkissed sounds.  Hard to define but easy to listen to, the album constantly expands and refines itself with each track. Space jazz, funk, disco. The songs work well together. The band cite a wide range of influences on their music, from Herbie Hancock to Can, and it shows.

The six track debut album kicks off with the wonderful masterpiece that is ‘The Magnificent Moon’.

Bassist Tom Shanahan comments: “The Magnificent Moon feels like the veteran journeyman to the rest of the album. I’m not sure if that’s because it was written first or because it seems to know what it wants and has a more considered direction. It never really second guesses itself except for maybe just before the outro when he realises he may have journeyed too far and his space suit has a hole in it. But then he just jams some gum in the hole and gets on with it anyway.”

 

Mildlife take the musical canvas, rip the lids off the paint tins, and throw vibrant splashes of colour into kaleidoscopic jams. Old friends, the Australian four-piece bonded over the desire to push musical boundaries, developing tight live shows bolstered by wild improvisation and a debut record that mines jazz, psych and disco for its irresistible groove. A melting pot of musical sensations, Mildlife combine progressive 70s sounds with electronic krautrock, backed by a mixture of rhythmic funk, house, and dream-pop, to create an addictive atmosphere that’s illustrated perfectly by their first single ‘The Magnificent Moon’, out November 3rd via Research Records. The single comes as an introduction to their highly anticipated debut LP ‘Phase’ due out early next year.

Taking cues from artistic pioneers such as Can and Herbie Hancock, creating a Mildlife song is a constant process of teasing and tugging, expanding and refining. But Mildlife are adamantly not a studio band. Between 2014 and 2015 they took a year off playing shows to figure out how they could produce as much of their music live as they possibly could without losing its complexity. “It makes the performance, the composition, more malleable,” says guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Adam Halliwell.

Bassist Tom Shanahan adds “It feels more authentic. The energy can be in the song rather than sitting on top of it. We wanted to leave a lot of room for improvisation.”

Phase is an exceptional debut album from Melbourne-based Mildlife.

Offerings by Typhoon – the first great album of 2018

Offerings by TyphoonIn these days of instant downloads, individual tracks and a call for shallow, instantly forgettable and meaningless pop songs, the first great album release of 2018 sits very uncomfortably among the previous statements.

Offerings is the fourth studio album from indie / alt rock band Typhoon from Portland, Oregon.

Typhoon fall somewhere between indie rock and alt folk, if I had to try and categorise their music. There are elements of Arcade Fire in their heaviest and more intense moment.  Folk acoustic and traditional rock instrumentation and arrangements, married with the beautiful duel vocals on songs like Empiricist are mesmerising and truly wonderful.

Offerings follows a central figure, allegedly a fictional man who is losing his memory, and in turn, his sense of self.  Singer / songwriter Kyle Morton may well be the latest in a long and distinguished line of tortured souls.

From the very first listen, I was drawn into the album.  This is not background music.  Offerings is deep and richly layered content.  Beautifully crafted, it is without doubt best enjoyed as a complete album.  Following the story from start to end; and in doing so, this is indeed a concept album.

“I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?”

In losing a certain level of control, Kyle Morton was motivated in part by his situation, as well as drawing inspiration from literature, art, and the films of David Lynch  and Christopher Nolan’s Memento, he was immersed in during the writing of this record.

Offerings is divided into four movements (Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning, and Afterparty) to represent the mental phases the main character goes through where he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to his dreadful fate.

Rorschach looks at the age of information and collapse of meaning. While on Empiricist, Morten explains:  there’s a regression to the womb where the character is back in his bed at home, talking about his range of motion shrinking. This first movement ends with ‘Algernon’ [taken from one of Morton’s favourite short stories, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes], where he’s constantly awakening and in an interrogation with a woman-who the listener should know is his wife, but he doesn’t.”

Offerings is a truly great album.

Typhoon UK Live Dates:

27/02 – THE LEXINGTON – LONDON, UK (2nd date added)
28/02 – THE DEAF INSTITUTE – MANCHESTER, UK
01/03 – BROADCAST – GLASGOW, UK
02/03 – THE LEXINGTON – LONDON, UK (SOLD OUT)

Offerings by Typhoon is released via Roll Call Records on 12th January on vinyl, CD and MP3 formats. The limited edition Blood-Red vinyl (1,000) have already sold out.

Buzzin Album of the Month

King Cobra - The Senior Service

King Cobra is the second album from the Medway instrumentalists, The Senior Service.

The opening track starts with a chugging guitar, reminiscent of The Stranglers’ Jean-Jacques Burnel bass sound. The techicolor is restored to the familiar surroundings of the debut album – The Girl in The Glass Case, when the Hammond organ enters the room. Though the added horn section gives a taste of things to come. ‘The Contender ‘ works as a passive entrance  to the second album, setting the mood like the opening scenes of a film.  In fact, there’s nothing to say as much.  But the album plays like a film soundtrack; as do some of the titles.

‘Sophia’ takes a slightly different path – somewhere between Pulp Fiction and Once Upon A Time in a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western trip.

The album has a distinct Latin-feel and spaghetti western vibe going on, most notably on ‘Cuban Eels’ and the ‘Night Of The Knives’, especially with Day’s guitar twang and the perfect accompaniment of the horns on the latter.

From The Girl in The Glass Case to King Cobra isn’t a giant step.  But with it, The Senior Service have strayed further afield from the path that leads directly to all things John Barry, onto something more akin to Ennio Morricone. Though this new path is kept on a tight leash.  ‘Good Morning Mr Phelps’ brings the album back once again to more of a sixties theme tune comfort zone – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The recent single ‘Slingshot’ picks up the tempo halfway through the album, and will have hips swinging, feet tapping; and do wonders for keeping the Medway Sound flag flying high. ‘Slingshot’ is pretty much perfect.

The Senior Service sound is defined by the interplay between Graham Day’s guitar and Jonathan Barker’s Hammond organ and how they work together and at times vie for attention.  There is tension in the guitar. Like a Rottweiler on a leash, wanting to turn up to 11 and rock out.  But being kept in check by the Hammond; and as with every great soundclash comes a tightly woven rhythm section, giving the sound a perfect foundation.

‘Slingshot’ perfectly demonstrates this, setting the scene as Day and Barker square off.  Poised, instruments in hand, staring each other down the neck of a Gretsch, as the on-looking crowd are struck with tension – Gunfight at the Medway Sound Corral!

With King Cobra, The Senior Service jump the sometimes ‘difficult’ second album hurdle in flying Panoramic CinemaScope Technicolor by producing, what I believe to be, an even stronger album than what was an exceptional debut.

For those who enjoyed  The Girl in The Glass Case, King Cobra will sound familiar but not only or simply ‘more of the same’.  King Cobra is more than a sequel. It works on the same level , but adds its own qualities and features stronger material, that takes the original idea onwards and upwards.  As far as sequels go, think The Godfather 2 rather than Fast & Furious 7.

King Cobra by The Senior Service will be offically released on 27th April on CD, LP and digital download on Damaged Goods Records.

The Senior Service – King Cobra Album Launch Gig 

The Senior Service will be performing live at The Billbong Club in Rochester, Medway on Friday 20th April.

https://www.facebook.com/events/207462116470567/