Saturday, February 10, 2007


One of the first gigs I ever saved up enough money to get out of Barrow-in-Furness to see was Band of Susans, Dinosaur Jr and Rapeman at Leeds Polytechnic back in about....oh, 1923 or something. The girl I was with cried during Dinosaur Jr at, like, the ragged beauty of it all. I really liked “You’re living all over me”, was less keen on “Bug”, heard “Freak scene” perhaps just two or three hundred times too many over the next several years worth of Indy discos and never really thought about Dinosaur Jr again, never followed their output, know nothing of any post Bug stuff, stuff with “the Fog” etc. They had in fact completely dropped off the Impostume’s musical radar, until today gentle reader.

But I positively have to say I’m currently experiencing much love for up-and-coming “Beyond.” The fact that Lou Barlow has recently rejoined his erstwhile band mates means diddly-squat to me….What, that bloke who was in Sebadoh.. err.. ok! And quite where “Beyond” stands in relation to recent Mascis output I have no idea.... I am then, as usual, supremely unqualified to make any kind of rigorous or thoroughgoing examination of the Dinosaur Jnr oeuvre. I shouldn’t go on, I’ll go on….

Obviously despite the nigh-on twenty year gap, it’s largely more of the same, if you can stand Mascis’s ragged drawl and cackhanded way with a tune (my tolerance is pretty high) and basically stick around for the guitar, (which is the whole point of the DJ’s right?) then you won’t be disappointed. In fact, to suggest that Mascis has more tone, texture and sheer colour to his guitar palate than anyone else out there is insurmountably obvious. Nobody manages to make the guitar sound as alive as Mascis does, like some dormant beast that suddenly springs to life in his hands and goes ripping through the rest of the song. Few guitarists manage to sound like they're playing “Iron man” and “Maggot brain" simultaneously. It’s not that the sounds are impossible to source, it all sounds like a guitar at the end of the day, but it’s a Dali guitar, multicoloured and melting. Mountains crumble, geysers spurt day-glo spumes, volcanoes erupt in waves of incandescent magma, the universe pinwheels and scintillates, oceans boil dry, and that’s just the first track. The truly gorgeous stand-out track, “ Pick me up” starts with Sabbath boogie, achieves a kind of super-string cats-cradle of cosmic slop for the nominal chorus whinge of “Hold on” that unravels into a long acid drenched solo and ends in a brittle, bright clockwork counterpoint. The final track is a flanged- to-infinity Kosmic dirge with the guitar phasing back and forth in the mix over what seems like several light year’s worth of studio space. It’s a huge, rollicking, rambunctious ride, Mascis is clearly some kind of idiot savant notoriously inarticulate in person his guitar seems to wring out all the vibrancy, drive and emotion you could want. It’s up there with ( Hyperbole Alert) “Up on the Sun.” Pretty amazing, man.

Faint praise.

I make no great claims for Soft Circle’s latest, except it partially helps to fulfil my claim about the eastern element coming through in 2007. Some geezer who used to be the drummer in Black Dice (wow! Eh?) decides to fuse Sitar drones and tabla with a bit of electronica and folktronic strummyness. Certain to strike many, not only those who spent thirty years from the age of two learning at the feet of Prandit Pran Nath, as an abominable exercise in insultingly tokenistic hipster Yank hubris (it has titles like “Stones and trees” and “Shimmer” (ahem)) and while not entirely successful, the bloke’s a bit too flat and nasal to really lift the soul into the cosmos, like, ( most of the time he sounds like he’s shouting down from his sickbed for another mug of Lemsip) then again, it has also got a certain something too. I don’t imagine John Hassell or Terry Riley are exactly bowled over by it’s grasp of the tradition, but the final track sounds a bit like Hassel’s “Cities” gone House to me. Worth lending an ear to at least.


You know I hate Scritti Poliiti, yeah?

No I don’t, I don’t, I don’t……………. “Cupid and Psyche” is fucking amazing.

“Absolute” is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever heard, especially that weird , breathy-synthetic vocal riff that surges in toward the end and oh.. the twinkling synths over that kind of bubbly drum pattern…..y’know.. all THAT stuff…

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly prostrate myself before Green who I know regularly scours this blog hoping to glean a few morsels of intellectual sustenance in an otherwise bereft universe….and say … you have made some VERY GOOD records!

No comments: