Outblinker – Pink/Blue, EP Review

Outblinker debut EP, Pink/Blue
Outblinker debut EP, Pink/Blue

Outblinker are doing something extraordinary with their debut EP, Pink/Blue. I can’t really think of many other bands doing at the moment, besides Fuck Buttons (who have connections to the band). They’ve created a sound that is truly mesmerising to listen to, and it will make you want to stand up and take notice.

EP Pink/Blue comprises of two eleven and twelve minute tracks packed full of pure instrumentation. The four-piece bring together sounds of electro, krautrock and new-wave to create their own unique blend experimental rock. And we cannot get enough of it.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2anb-1sTzFQ

‘Pink’ begins with a repetitive, mesmerising synth melody before some serious guitar distortion comes into the mix along with some pretty erratic drum beats. Together, these sounds create eleven minutes of organised mayhem that sounds good in all the right places. Second track ‘Blue’ comes across as the slightly less aggressive of the two, although it still manages to make its own mark, but with a more cinematic bent.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ajj2UBSil0

Whatever we say about this EP probably won’t do it justice, but we would urge you to go and check it out for yourself. If you’re a fan of Holy Fuck or Fuck Buttons then this is definitely going to be right up your street.

Outblinker – Pink/Blue EP Tracklisting:

1. Pink
2. Blue

Tangerine Dream Live London Date 2012

Tangerine Dream play London's Shepherd Bush Empire
Tangerine Dream play London's Shepherd Bush Empire

The New York Times call them ‘The Worlds’ Leading Synth Band’ and now seven times Grammy nominated Tangerine Dream return British shores for a unique one-off UK show as part of their Electric Mandarine Tour 2012 at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London on Sunday 24th June.

Edgar Froese says about the London Show: “Playing London is like being back home. Our fans make it possible for us to realise every musician’s dream: making a living out of what you love and do best, playing and composing music.  As a thank you we would like to share Tangerine Dream’s 45th anniversary (1967 – 2012) with our loyal British fan base.  It will be a great show with lots of songs and sounds that our fans grew up with.“

Tangerine Dream Live in London

Tangerine Dream
Shepherds Bush Empire
Sunday 24th June

Tangerine DreamTickets

Tickets are £45.00 (subject to booking fee) online bookings from www.gigsandtours.com – credit card bookings from 0844 811 0051.

A legendary instrumental prog rock band characterised by the use of high-end modern technology next to a strong rock‘n’roll identity and the pioneers of Krautrock, Tangerine Dream are hard to pigeonhole into any music category.

Many have unsuccessfully tried to emulate their trademark sound, but no one could quite nail the secret ingredient of their unique recipe; the way musical layers are structured and finely glued together results in an indescribable musical experience which has always kept them one step ahead of any fashionable trend.

Tangerine Dream have released over 150 albums to date, they have also written scores for several Award winning Hollywood Movies including the Tom Cruise classic, ‘Risky Business’; Katherine Bigelow’s ‘Near Dark’ and ‘Firestarter’ which debuts Drew Barrymore.

Edgar Froese founded Tangerine Dream in autumn 1967 – a prolific period for music worldwide – with a vision to discover new sounds and musical techniques. After more than 40 years and several line-up changes, Edgar is still provocative and challenging in his unique philosophical music universe.  A man of few words but with a wry sense of humour, he has shown that music can often reach where words don’t.

At a time when electronic instruments were widely misunderstood and an independent music industry was virtually non-existent, Tangerine Dream were the pioneers of a range of new sounds, effects and production techniques. Phaedra, their biggest album, was released in 1974 and went gold in 14 countries, it featured the MOOG modular system as the main sequencing module and is still considered a cornerstone for modern contemporary electronic sounds and sequences.    Tangerine Dream have earned themselves the title ‘The Pioneers of Modern Sound.’

Tangerine Dreams’ reputation, experience and professionalism, together with their record sales, has gained them the freedom to continue challenging traditional platforms and their live shows are unmissable.

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K-X-P debut album of experimental krautrock & beyond

K-X-P is released on 21st March 2011 on the Norwegian label, Smalltown Supersound
K-X-P

K-X-P are an experimental krautrock trio from Finland.  Their debut self-titled album is reminiscent of post-industrial punksters Add N to X and a very listenable retro analogue version of 1970s krautrock such as Neu! and the synth punk of Suicide.

Born from the ashes of seminal Finnish groups Op:l Bastards and And The Lefthanded, K-X-P first came to the attention of the Smalltown Supersound record label when they heard demos from a series of loosely organised studio sessions organised by former ‘Bastards’ and ‘Lefthanded’ man Timo Kaukolampi.

When asked how Finland and imparticular Helsinki have influenced K-X-P’s sound Timo Kaukolampi answered “Finland and Helsinki were fashionable 10 years ago, as was the notion of Finnish ‘weirdness’ Finland is not weird. The internet is weird. We are Finns. Draw your own conclusions.”

The music is a wonderful concoction of experimental electronics, kraut, noise, punk, rock and pop all wrapped in an hypnotic and minimalist electric blanket.

The eight track album opens with Elephant Man. Distorted analogue synths set the tone, reminiscent to a lo-fi 1970’s low budget sci-fi b-movie soundtrack.  Rhythmic pounding tribal drums accompanies a mesmeric riff that builds in intensity at the same time as making me feel rooted to the spot.

K-X-P is deep and intense but very accessible and non-exclusive to bearded long-hairs who prefer to talk to humans, if at all, through a keyboard; and while every track displays a love for 1970’s krautrock K-X-P have taken certain ingredients from other electronic music genres and sounds from both the more commercial 1980’s and dance infected 1990’s to deliver a great debut album.

Pockets is the closest the album gets to synth pop though the track is too dark to have appeared on Top Of The Pops alongside the likes of Depeche Mode and Soft Cell.  While New World could easily pass off as a track from New Order’s debut album Movement.  But for me, the best track but no way a stand-out track, is 18 Hours (Of Love) which starts with an electronic sounding diggeree doo before a sequencer reminiscent to Goldfrapp’s Ooh La La picks the track up. Both tracks include a vocal from Timo Kaukolampi who is also credited with “electronics”.  Other main members are bass player Tuomo Puranen and percussionist Anssi Nykänen.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9xlL3PHlBg&feature=related

For the past month K-X-P hasn’t travelled far from my CD player and I know it’s only February but is by far the best album I’ve heard this year;  and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t appear on several best albums of 2011 lists come December.

Folllowing a short UK tour including an absorbing performance at the Lexington in London, the self-titled debut album from K-X-P is released on 21st March 2011 on the Norwegian label, Smalltown Supersound.

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K-X-P @ The Lexington, London, live review

K-X-P @ The Lexington, London
K-X-P @ The Lexington, London

K-X-P come from Finland, the land of snow, reindeer, very attractive friendly people and Father Christmas.  They are led on and off stage by the enigmatic Timo Kaukolampi.  As a focal point he holds a microphone in one hand and plays synthesizers and twiddles a bank of knobs with the other.  Occasionally he stuffs the microphone down the front of his sleeveless t-shirt to stab at his instruments with more jagged vigour while rocking to and fro almost in an insane way to the mesmerising rhythms.  Timo controls the stage with his wayward, flopping fringe and occasional yelps drowned in echo while Tuomo Puranen stands motionless picking at his bass guitar giving every track a throbbing underbelly; and the drummer Anssi Nykänen dressed tonight as a druid or the grim reaper blends his tribal floor tom heavy beats with digital sequenced rhythms.

It reminds me of Add N to X, early Kraftwerk before they had dispensed of their instruments, and also Neu!, Zombie Zombie, and a less frantic and more enjoyable Suicide.

Together K-X-P make deep and intense live music embodying the ingredients of all things krautrock but with a sprinkling of lighter sounds reminiscent of analogue-driven synth pop and a more contemporary sound that has been touched by 25 years of electronic dance music and particularly IDM.

Timo Kaukolampi of K-X-P
Timo Kaukolampi of K-X-P

The most commercial sounding track on the album was a live favourite with the mainly male audience. Pockets is structured more like a traditional pop song with Timo Kaukolampi’s singing verse, chorus, verse, chorus.  I could see people around me dancing away while singing along… “what’s in my pocket!” While the effervescent darker mood was replaced with a lighter, uplifting beat, Pockets even includes a middle eight!

But for me it was the darker, more intense moments that made the live show one to remember.  A personal favourite is the wonderful 18 Hours Of Love which starts with a throbbing sequencer reminiscent to a slower burning Fanfare For The Common Man by Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Goldfrapp’s catchy Ooh La La.  But 18 Hours Of Love drives on like a diesel truck ploughing its way through a dark, dense night.

In good rock n roll tradition K-X-P made their audience wait for the show to begin.  But when it did those that had gathered on this cold January evening in north London were treated to a great show, and one that will stick in my memory for some time to come.  If krautrock is going to make a comeback in 2011 I have no doubt K-X-P will be at its spearhead.

K-X-P UK & Ireland Tour Dates:

20 Jan DUBLIN, Button Factory
21 Jan KILKENNY, Cleere’s Theatre
22 Jan CORK, Pine Lodge
23 Jan CORK, Crane Lane Theatre
24 Jan GLASGOW, Captains Rest
26 Jan LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club

K-X-P’s debut album is to be released in the UK on 21st March on the excellent Norway-based, Smalltown Supersound label.

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The Method Actors New Album

The Method Actors photo: Curtis Knapp
The Method Actors photo: Curtis Knapp

This is Still It by The Method Actors will be released on 22 March on Acute Records.

The next time an Oscar-loving luddite regales you with tales of deprivation and loss; all suffered in the name of art and a gold-tinged Kinder Egg toy, pop on This is Still It and relive a time when method actors didn’t pretend. Varney and Gamble may sound like a couple of second-rate chancers but together they raised a strobe-lit, spasmodic riot, with just guitars, drums and vocal chords; deprived of more band members than most and fuelled by the post-teen volcanoes of unrequited loss.

This is Still It showcases the duo’s early recordings, from 1980-1981. If you’re already a fan then this release is, by all accounts, a must; containing early ep material as well as a chunk of their debut long-player Little Figures.

If, like me, you’re new to The Method Actors, then you’ll need some gristle to add to your anti-Oscar bones.

CBGBs may be the classic, new wave, celluloid snap-shot but the breakers quickly hit further south, in Athens, Georgia. The Method Actors emerged alongside The B52s in a scene that eventually spawned REM. Throughout this compilation there are echoes of love-shacked yelps and howls, and the scratched, discordant guitar-tones of the B52s’ Ricky Wilson. But the opening track on This is Still It takes the red carpet all the way back to CBGBs. Do the Method froths and spits with the same head-rush drive and excitement of Television’s See No Evil. And on Commotion Varney’s vocals veer towards the controlled panic usually voiced by David Byrne.

The roll call of potential bastard cousins from across the Atlantic is also impressive. Bleeding is infused with the sparse, sonic suffocation of Joy Division and the whole album trembles with a knock-kneed funk that would make the Gang of Four seek anti-Blyton back-up. Yet somewhere lurks the pop aesthetic that underpinned many a buzzcocked classic. It goes back further.

It could be argued that The Method Actors have studied Beefheart and visited both the playful (Rang-A-Tang) and exotic, discordant landscapes (Pigeons) imagined by Can. There are even hints of the exasperated, angry shouts of Eugene McDaniels.

The key, however, to not pretending is an element of madness and The Method Actors have the periodic table covered. Like Pavement’s Spiral Stairs, Varney is two notes short of a conventional solo, operating – on voice and guitar – in a scale and fluxuating register that would render most musicians unrecordable.

And the hulk of David Gamble is a Dr Bruce Banner-man on drums, who has finally learnt to channel his aggression into a perpetual driving cavalcade of percussion; snare and toms snap and bellow as cymbals crash with measured abandon. For times when the emotions are frayed and all that will do is a dose of nervous tension…well, this
is still it.

For more information visit www.myspace.com/methodactors

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr4TuOMhHXU