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

The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy, album review

The Membranes - Dark Matter / Dark Energy
The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy

With so many bands from the 1980s and 90s reforming these days, and who can blame them, it’s with trepidation that I decide to listen to any new material after such a long time away.  We’ve all grown much older, listening to new sounds and influence; got married and had kids; lived, loved, lost… and moved on.

Furthermore, for me anyway, I believe it’s more difficult for a band that in their youth were filled with spitting angst and aggression to be still frothing at the mouth and full of enthusiastic ‘we can all make a difference‘ and sloganeering about a ‘wasted youth‘, while celebrating their fifty-something birthday.  However good, there’s something not quite right, not quite so edgy when middle-aged men with extra pounds and greying hair attempt to relive their youth along with the odd yet ubiquitous original punk with a colourful mohican and studded leather jacket pogoing for a couple of minutes before retiring to the bar for a mineral water.

It’s 2015, and the UK music scene is awash with nostalgia, bands reforming in name alone without original members or dignity.  But then I am asked to review The Membranes new studio album, their first since 1989. In the 1980s, The Membranes were firm favourites  of the late John Peel and have since been cited as a big influence by bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Big Black and Mercury Rev. No better excuse to revisit The Membranes and see if they’ve managed to pull out all the stops or make a right pigs ear of a comeback by not leaving the reunion at a few paydays reciting old favs and classics.

The album starts with the meaty big, powerful and brilliantly titled ‘The Universe Explodes Into A Billion Photons Of Pure White Light‘. Dark Matter / Dark Energy opens like the big bang theory.

The album drives straight to the centre of an ever pulsing sun called Planet Prog Rock with a dark alt Kraut Rock underbelly.  As I settled in, for what appeared  to be a comfortably smooth ride, the album unleashes another side to The Membranes ‘sound’ as they explode into the abrasive rockabilly energy of ‘Do The Supernova‘; and with their familiar abrasive, hard-nosed and jagged noise on ‘21st Century Man‘… I’m hooked.

Dark Matter / Dark Energy is a great album that tightens its grip like a boa constrictor.   Three songs deep, and I’m knee-deep in The Membranes, as if they’ve never been away.

I’ll be honest and say, I enjoy 2015 more than 1980s Membranes. Each song stretches my appreciation as the album pulls me from pillar to post.  I feel slightly drained, like I’m trying every ride in a theme park, never quite sure if I’m ready for another ride, but enjoying myself nonetheless.  On  ‘In The Graveyard‘, The Membranes sound expands once more with a slab of mighty white post-punk dub. John Robb plays a throbbing bass line, the likes of Paul Simenon would be chuffed with,  while giving his very best Joe Strummer ‘Armagideon Time’ karaoke.

Dark Matter / Dark Energy is a record about life and death, the universe and space itself.  The album was inspired by a chance meeting between band frontman John Robb and the head of the CERN project who were working on the Higgs Boson project. The album also takes on Robb’s grieving for his father who died midway through the recording. The music weaves noise, Prog Rock drones, discord, dark dub, free punk, heavy rhythms and ultimately freedom into a unique whole of beauty.

John Peel was a big fan of The Membranes; and he’s never wrong.  Maybe I was.

The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy Tracklisting:

1.             The Universe Explodes Into A Billion Photons Of Pure White Light
2.             Do The Supernova
3.             21st Century Man
4.             Money Is Dust
5.             The Multiverse Suite
6.             Space Junk
7.             Dark Matter
8.             If You Enter The Arena, You Got To Deal With The Lions
9.             In The Graveyard
10.          Hail To The Lovers
11.          Magic Eye (To See The Sky)
12.          5776 (The Breathing Song)
13.          Dark Energy
14.          The Hum Of The Universe

The Membranes Dark Matter / Dark Energy is released on 20th June on Cherry Red Records.

Prog Rock Legends Yes Announce Triple-Album Europe 2014 Tour

Prog Rock Legends Yes Announce Triple-Album Europe 2014 Tour
Yes Announce Triple-Album Europe 2014 Tour

Grammy award-winning prog-rock luminaries, Yes, announce triple-album Europe 2014 tour. The band will perform three of rock’s most influential albums, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One, in their entirety.

Founded in 1968 by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, Grammy-award winning recording artists, Yes, have created some of the most important and influential music in rock history, such as iconic pieces “Roundabout,” “Close to the Edge,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and countless others. Having sold tens of millions of records over its four-decade career, Yes continues creating masterful music that inspires fans and musicians around the world.

The  2014 European tour starts on 29th April 2014 in Oxford, England and finishes on 22nd May 2014 in Tilburg, Netherlands. On this tour, fans can look forward to a unique Yes experience; the band will perform three of its most popular albums in their entirety, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One.

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

Performing three of rock and roll’s most revered albums, Yes members Chris Squire (bass), Steve Howe (guitar), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), and Jon Davison (vocals), will delight audiences with Yes staples from the last four decades. Fans will enjoy long-time favourites, including “Yours is No Disgrace,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Starship Trooper,” “Close to the Edge,” “And You And I,” “Going for the One,” “Wonderous Stories,” “Awaken,” and more. In addition, Yes will perform all tracks in the order they appear on their corresponding studio albums.

“We performed these three albums in their entirety on our North and South American tours, and the fans absolutely loved it,” says Yes guitarist, Steve Howe. “Fans did indeed love it,” states Yes co-founder and bassist, Chris Squire, “and so did we. Plus, we’ll be performing pieces we’ve rarely played live. In fact, I believe the one song we never performed in concert before our three-album tours is ‘A Venture’ from The Yes Album.”

Alan White goes on to say,

“As with our three-album North and South American tours, this is a great opportunity to share with our European fans the growth of Yes throughout different eras, and to revisit the great memories of those times, as well as create brand new ones. We’re looking forward to touring Europe, performing these albums, and most of all, meeting our wonderful fans. It’s great fun for us, and we think our fans throughout Europe will love the performance as well.”

The Yes Album (1971)
1. Yours Is No Disgrace
2. The Clap
3. Starship Trooper
a: Life Seeker
b: Dilusion
c: Wurm
4. I’ve Seen All Good People
a: Your Move
b: All Good People
5. A Venture
6. Perpetual Change

Close to the Edge (1972)
1. Close To The Edge
I.          The Solid Time of Change
II.         Total Mass Retain
III.        I Get Up, I Get Down
IV.        Seasons of Man
2. And You And I
1.    Cord of Life
2.    Eclipse
3.    The Preacher the Teacher
4.    Apocalypse
3. Siberian Khartu

Going for the One (1977)
1. Going for the One
2. Turn of the Century
3. Parallels
4. Wonderous Stories
5. Awaken

The Yes Europe 2014 tour dates

Tuesday 29 Apr
Oxford, England
New Theatre

Wednesday 30 Apr
Southend, England
Cliffs Pavilion

Friday 2 May
Glasgow, Scotland
Clyde Auditorium

Saturday 3 May
Newcastle, England
City Hall

Sunday 4 May
Birmingham, England
Symphony Hall

Tuesday 6 May
Leicester, England
De Montfort Hall

Wednesday 7 May
Sheffield, England
City Hall

Thursday 8 May
London, England
Royal Albert Hall

Saturday 10 May
Manchester, England
O2 Apollo

Sunday 11 May
Bristol, England
Hippodrome

Tuesday 13 May
Paris, France
Gran Rex

Wednesday 14 May
Zurich, Switzerland
Volkshaus

Friday 16 May
Monaco
Opera Garnier

Saturday 17 May
Padova, Italy
Palageox

Sunday 18 May
Milan, Italy
Teatro Della Luna

Tuesday 20 May
Luxembourg
Rockhall Box

Wednesday 21 May
Brussels, Belgium
A B

Thursday 22 May
Tilburg, Netherlands
0 1 3

For more information visit yesworld.com.

Bill Nelson – A Luminous Kind of Guy

“Luminous” by Bill Nelson is re-released by Cherry Red Records
“Luminous” by Bill Nelson

I just received a copy of “Luminous” by Bill Nelson, recently re-released by Cherry Red Records.   Wow!  What a fantastic piece of work.  It is so hard to only comment on the music as the business side of the equation spills into the story.

Luminous was released after a painful divorce, a lawsuit High Court Case regarding past business practices of Nelson’s management and the collapse of a record company.   It uses uses first takes and layers them into a collection of songs straight from the electronic heart of Bill Nelson.  In case you are wondering who he is, Bill Nelson was the leader of pop art group Be-Bop Deluxe, Red Noise, Orchestra Futura etc.  A major influence on artists like Julian Cope, David Sylvian, Kate Bush, The Darkness, The Foo Fighters and Big Country, Nelson has been a continuous musical innovator over 40 years.  Nelson shows his producing skill along side his song writing ability through the use of primitive equipment in his home studio.

Bill Nelson's Home Studio
Bill Nelson's Home Studio

Hey kids, try this at home: make up a song, record it using your computer, overdub the various instruments, sing, and produce it all in a spare bedroom.  But, without a computer or the software and you will then appreciate what this gentleman has done on this album and his entire career.   And to show that Bill Nelson is not a one trick pony, he does all the accompanying artwork as well.   He has produced in excess of 100 albums over 40 years.  Lou Reed once proclaimed on the cover to Metal Machine Music “My day beats your week”.  So it is with Bill Nelson’ tireless production schedule that rivals Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’

This record offers an insight into the true authentic soul of the artist, plus a set of diverse musical compositions to boot.  We’ll start with one of the ‘hits’:   “Burning down” – in just 3.35 Bill Nelson crafts a catchy pop song with superior subject matter and a guitar solo to die for.  I’ve always been impressed with Bill’s lyrical quality and this comes out strongly, even when it’s influenced by personal angst such as “Blood off the wall”.

She’s got me floating” is a beautiful alternative ballad and a perfect demonstration of the pentatonic scale.   As is “Her true perfect serpent” – simply beautiful and charming songs.  We also get some post-hippy mysticism with pieces like “Life in Reverse” and “Language of the birds”.   Again Nelson is a real innovator here working with loops long before this technology became widely available.

Luminous” was also a fascinating preview of the future of music, since it pioneered electronic rhythms that spawned things like hip hop, all done without the aid of an Apple Mac!  This is apparent in songs like “Is this alchemy” and “Wait for tomorrow” which mix pops, squeaks and crackles with traditional synths and guitars in a perfect synaesthesia.

Bill Nelson performs a rich diet of his back catalogue, from Be-Bop Deluxe and beyond, a full solo instrumental guitar set and something truly inspirational with his post-modern music twenty third century trio “Orchestra Futura”, featuring bass supremo Dave Sturt and hero of the wind Theo Travis.  Limited tickets available for Nelsonica a whole day event on 29th September.  Also available from Cherry Red, a box set covering 40 years of Bill’s career “The Practice of Everyday Life”.

Thanks to Quinault for some context on this CD’s place in the history of the future.

Bill Nelson – “Luminous” Tracklist:
1. A Luminous Kind of Guy (2:14)
2. Tiny Aeroplanes (2:56)
3. Bright Sparks (2:42)
4. Is This Alchemy? (2:34)
5. Language of the Birds (3:46)
6. All I Am Is You (2:09)
7. Life in Reverse (3:02)
8. Telepathic Cats (2:57)
9. Two Hearts Beating (3:34)
10. Blood Off the Wall (2:38)
11. She’s Got Me Floating (3:34)
12. It’s OK (2:28)
1.3 Burning Down (3:57)
14. Her True and Perfect Serpent (5:28)
15. Wait For Tomorrow (1:48)

Luminous by Bill Nelson is re-released by Cherry Red Records.

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Amplifier in the studio footage from The Octopus recordings

Following the release of their long awaited third album The Octopus at the end of January, Amplifier have revealed a behind the scenes video, showing how the album was put together.

Three years in the making, the band describe their epic concept double CD as “Probably the best thing we will ever do!”

The video takes a look at the band as they record the track ‘Interstellar’ at the Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IDpUXBDyC4

The album The Octopus by Amplifier is available now as double CD or 3x 12″ vinyl through their own label AmpCorp.

For further information visit Amplifier on MySpace

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