Reviews

Dawn Of The Replicants at The Camden Falcon

Judging by his progressively sagging eyelids, Paul Vickers hardly ever sees the world in full focus which might just explain why Dawn Of The Replicants are such an irregular and inexplicable blip in current musical happenings. On record, it's dark, fast-track dance with the odd shot of rock but live, it centres around the guitars and Vickers' quirky lyrical edge. Tonight, by his own confession, he is too pissed to speak and grins dozily at the microphone, spluttering out the odd line in between puffs of his cigarette. It is all completely nonsensical and, as they stumble into the first track of their latest EP, All That Cheynne Caboodle, we gaze on amused, yet unable to make up our minds. They certainly know how to make an audience smile at the expense of Dale Winton and cows. Judgement on musical aptitude, however, should perhaps be saved for a more sober date. (AL)

Pulp: Help The Aged (Island)

Jarvis the butt-naked crusader, the wry acrylic-clad Richard and Judy guest. But Jarvis the ‘bloke who’s a little worried about his getting on a bit’? “In the mean time we try to forget that nothing lasts forever” yelps a slightly less assured than normal Cocker, the big worry now being seen as a trendy parent. ‘Rest Home Piano’ is defined by the intro’s reflective plea before spiralling off into “Creep”-esque crescendos. A bit of self-irony then. Boom-boom. (NPW)

Laika: ‘Sounds Of The Satellites’ (Too Pure)

This is what ‘rock’, as we know it, is going to start doing more of next millennium. ‘Songs’ proper will slowly be eroded as people get used to not needing a chorus and verse differentiation. This will make remixes a lot easier and widespread (the downside) and should kill off Ocean Colour Scene (Whoopee-doo). Radiohead have begun the big noise’s move to the world of loops and tweeters. Oasis are set to follow on their next LP. Laika are, upon this supposition, streets ahead of their time. Lyrically, honey-voiced Margaret Fielder (the blandest name yet to appear on a record sleeve) haunts the world of Gibson’s ‘Idoru’, “Prairie Dog” wants to pull “the nerves from my skin” and the single “Almost Sleeping” spatters the coma of bedsit life all over its entrancing bass-line. But ‘Sounds...’ is not all sweetness and light.

From time to time the bongos, the forest noises and the sheer drone of it all are more BSB than Sky. They record at home and this hints at their propensity to allow too much scope in their range of influences. Too many cooks etc. So, to recap, moments of extreme promise and vision but undermined by the ‘background music’ vibe that seeps in like a warm bath. Named after the first dog in space, Laika should be out there, but for now are still burning up in the atmosphere. (NPW)

Hole: ‘My Body, The Hand Grenade’ (City Slang)

Her body is a hand grenade, her arms were pin cushions, and her head’s still a roomy parking space suited to 747s. Still, she’s an icon, right? Despite proving that acting is what she’s doubtless best at, Courtney Love is determined not to let the world forget she’s in a band too. This she thinks can be best achieved by freeing up a selection of ‘rarities’ (Sony-speak for ‘file under Dust’). Duped punters can expect a few early tracks, some hideously raucous and sloppy demos and (ten out of ten for originality here) some unplugged variations on old tunes. “Bargain at £14.99” I hear children cry from under their portrait ‘Kurt Cobain’ duvet covers. Such a staggering dearth of new material does little for Love’s credibility as a self-sufficient songwriter. If she is, understandably, still a little cut up then best to let heal behind the relatively closed doors of the film celebrity, and not drag the past out into the spotlight. The pin stays firmly in the ‘body’. Await the AOR release to follow: ‘My sanctuary, the lovehandle.’ (NPW)

Robbie Williams: ‘Life Through A Lens’ (Chrysalis)

Owing to the fact that Mr ‘Naughty But Nice’ Williams has more charisma in one of his bulging eyeballs than Gary et al together, nothing more than a faintly likeable record had be delivered to ensure his victory in the Fisher-Price Lennon vs MCartney stakes. “Lazy Days” is actually quite alarmingly accomplished, fuel to that ‘Mancunian in good solo record shock’ headline. Some frankly lucrative reference points emerge, numbering among them Liam ‘G’ (for the odd vocal snipe) and The Beatles. The lyrical focus of the LP revolves, like those little birds that symbolise concussion Disney style, around being pissed and charlied out of your bonce and then trying to stop. And girls, there’s the odd romance along the way. But of course, she’s not right for him, or he was too pissed to give her the attention her rosy complexion merited. Oh the trials of having to survive throughout your 20’s on nothing but a huge lump of capital! Drifting between the assuringly trite and the disturbingly proficient floats our Robbie, with but a bottle of Evian for company. ‘Life Through A Lens’ will not catapult Williams to critical esteem, but should shift enough units to ram a bundle of surplus £50 notes up Barlow’s hermetically sealed posterior. Which is after all the point right? (NPW)

Natural Born Chillers: Rock The Funky Beats (East West)

Last summer’s drum and bass anthem finally gets a major label release after being licensed from Mickey Finn and Aphrodite’s excellent Urban Take-over imprint (nice move East West). Coming with a double pack of intelligent remixes (the only let down being the inevitably brainless speed garage mix) it is in fact Mr Finn and Aphrodite’s own interpretation which achieves the almost impossible in improving on the original’s infectious driving sub-bass madness. The “Rolling With The Chillers” mix also does a fine job in giving the old version a kick up the backside whilst retaining the South London style of it all.

Tsunami 1: No. 43 With Steamed Rice Please (Fuel)

“And I’ll kill anyone who dares to go against me” booms the authoritative voice whilst jungle sub bass sweeps tear around in the background. Then it’s full scale apocalypse as the breaks drop and knock you into next week.

Phatter than a lard sandwich, this tune will well and truly shake your internal organs and get your ass moving. Adam Freeland pulls out a corker with this essential twelve inches of utter rudeness.

Only once in a while does a tune come along that makes me shiver and believe me my teeth are well and truly chattering. Listen to me: it’s good, so buy one. (DC)

Warp 69: Natural High (Fierce)

You want remixes? Well, with this re-release of the 1993 German gem, you’ve damn well got them. The much sought-after Global Communication’s ambient mix, which has become a bit of a backroom classic is definitely the pick of the considerable bunch. Stretching the original’s searing strings into a lazy downtempo groove and whacking on a load of jazzed-out nodding on the top was an inspired move, and probably explains why it got put on so many of those “Now That’s What I Call Chill Out Music 4” compilations. Elsewhere, newlywed Dave Angel manages to tear himself away from the wife to produce his stomping piano deep house burner which, along with two drum and bass versions by Global Communication’s Tom Middletown, makes for a double pack remixorama of epic proportions.

Thursday Club: Blowpipe (Thursday Club Recordings)

One of Friction’s resident spinners, Rennie Pilgrim, continues the breakbeat revolution apace with this latest twelve inch of outrageous bass bin stretching action. Cutting midway to the “I’m gonna take you to a place you ain’t never been before” sample (you better believe this) then dropping the jaw-rattling blowpipe bass line. This is certainly not one for the faint hearted. As well as this appropriately titled 747 mix on the flip there are another two interpretations one which veers into a similar path to the Aphex Twin’s classic “Digeredoo” and the other which fulfils the Friction agenda of Nu Skool breakbeat with future electro leanings. Not ‘arf.

The Southport Dance Music Weekender. Mixed by 'Masters at Work’.

This compilation has been released in tribute to ‘The Southport Dance Music Weekender’ which celebrated 10 years of quality events at the cutting edge of dance music on April 25th this year. Anyone who knows dance music will know the legend of the Southport Music Weekender, and who better to catch the magic of these events in the mix than the masters themselves - Lil’ Louis Vega and Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez?

Lil’ Louis takes to the decks for the 1st CD, blending a smooth mix of funky rhythms and popular house tunes including Ultra Nate’s Free, DJ Duke’s Never Let You Go and Nu Yorican Soul’s summer anthem Runaway. Personally, my favourite mix is Kenny Dope’s Hip-Hop trip on disc two in which he rolls soooo smoothly from phat-beat to phat-beat.

Dropping tracks such as KRS One’s Step into a World, Mobb Deep’s Night Time Vultures and A Tribe Called Quest’s Phony Rappers. Lil’ Louis didn’t quite do it for me on this particular compilation, but then, I’ve never been particularly keen on this particular genre of house. Kenny ‘Dope’ was definitely ringing my bells with his hip hop flavours, but that’s the beauty of the Southport Dance Music Weekenders there’s always been something for everyone.

Classy. (GW)

Laidback - International (Bolshi)

Another sharp release from London’s most cutting breakbeat label Bolshi. ‘International’ is the debut album of veteran beat-head Laidback aka Jason Cohen. Bolshi has been putting out some rough stuff lately and this album is no exception. The tracks ‘Coldrock’ and ‘B-Boy noise’ have already been blowing up the speakers everywhere as a double A-side and the majority of the tracks on this album are just as fresh. From the cerebral slicing of ‘Rock your World’ to the blunted - jazzy vibes of ‘Hip-Hop loves you’ this album is sure to be rockin’ da beatheads the length and breadth of the country although I’m not impressed by the dodgy ZZ Top style guitar riff that runs through ‘Launch the Raunch’ I still say this album’s as phat as ya Mama. (GW)

Green Jesus - Mr Natural (Critical Mass Recordings)

Those critical Mass boys have finally seemed to have got their heads screwed on as they prove that they can recognise a blinding tune when they hear one. In this case we have the skills of Mr Natural to thank as he conjures up an ensemble of mayhem in the same league as Norman Cook’s timeless classic “Everyone Loves a 303”. Previous releases on the label have been accused of lacking substance however if anyone says that about this tune they deserve a smack in the chops as its ram packed with chunky funky acid trickery. Simply add twelve inch to turn table and leave to boil for maximum dance floor flava. Bravo. (DC)

Nick Paton Walsh, Anita Liu, Will Mills, Danny Clark, Greg Wright

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