Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Anyone who ends up on the mailing lists for umpteen labels and promo companies will tell you that for the dozens of tracks you get sent every week, only a small percentage of them turn out to be worth more than a cursory listen. This makes it all the more special when something drops into your inbox that turns out to be very special. The last few weeks seen an uncharacteristic influx of these. Notable among these is the new Smagghe & Cross album 'Timothy Dalton' from Laurent Richard aka DJ Sundae's Idle Press imprint.
The label released one of my favourite tracks of 2016 with a reissue of Pitch's post-punk/no wave anthem 'What Am I Gonna Do For Fun' complete with a stunning retouch from Tolouse Low Tracks. Laurent and close friend Julien Dechery also compiled the peerless Sky Girl album last year. A magnificent compilation (released on Efficient Space, the label run by the guys behind the 'Noise In My Head' blog) of minimal wave, post pop, Balearic folk, or whatever you want to call it, is without doubt one of the most essential, as well as one of my very favourite, albums of recent times. With this pedigree in mind I was expecting big things of their next release!
Timothy Dalton is the second full-length record from the experimentally inclined pairing of Ivan Smagghe and Rupert Cross. The collaboration has had a prolific year, releasing a well received album on Vladimir Ivkovic's 'Offen' label and no less than three seperate EPs, Mmmmmmm, Talking To Katz and Jazz, already in 2017.
Described by the duo as 'neither pop, nor psychedelic, nor ambient, nor house, nor techno, nor post punk nor even new wave' the record recalls the sound of 'the beardies from Tangerine Dream being kidnapped by Soft Cell, C86 and 1988, the Silver Apples composing a space opera with the help of an electro cardiogram monitor. Or the Wizard of OZ reviewed and reworked by Psychic TV.'
From the wobbly bass stabs and clattering percussion of the titular opener all the way to the shimmering shards of what sound like Tibetan bells and an unabashedly sweet melodica with its graceful melodic interplay on closer 'Time To Remember' you are in no doubt at any point that this most definitely isn't just a collection of session tracks that have been laying around the cutting room floor and jammed together.
'Klang' and 'Ostend' most strongly recall Smagghe's 'It's A Fine Line' project with their supremely odd dancefloor sensibilities and 'Door Ajar' sounds like it could have easily been transposed from the duo's 'MA' album, but saying that the range of the sound is still never less than striking.
They've drafted in a few extra's on this one to help out, too. Tim Felton from Broadcast's guitar can be heard prominently as can vocals from Andrea Balency, and Roman Turtev fleshes out the drums somewhat. The result is some of the albums standout tracks. 'Circle Around Rings', 'Interlude' and 'Janine'.
Overall, Smagghe and Cross have created a sleek listening experience. They're careful not to steamroller their individual voices either. Their respective signatures adding a striking shine and infectious spirit to proceedings.
Lets just hope that 'Pierce Brosnan' lives up to expectations!
Timothy Dalton by Smagghe & Cross is released on the 25th of September.
Find Idle Press on Facebook, here.
Find Idle Press on Soundcloud, here.
Follow Smagghe & Cross on Facebook, here.
Rupert Cross' website can be found, here.
Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X
Tuesday, 12 September 2017
Don’t lie to yourself. You want to be rich. We all do. Staggeringly rich. We all want to be so rich we can march into our boss’s office and tell him we bought the company, he’s fired, the company has been renamed Dave Poncenbry Is A Cunt Recruitment Solutions. Dave Poncenbry was my old boss’s name. Except it isn’t, the legal advisor to this publication made me change it as I couldn’t prove Dave was a cunt to her legal department’s satisfaction. But this isn’t about what my old boss is or isn’t called, it’s about me telling you how you can get rich.
If you’re anything like me you aren’t dedicated or smart enough to get rich in a conventional, legal way, like inventing an app that tells people if they should grow sideburns. Nor do you possess the ruthlessness and amorality required to get rich from a big time criminal career. You won’t make a fortune trafficking drugs across the border via geese flock. At best you’ll be in an entry-level position, trying to stuff drug bags into a goose and getting pecked, hard, for your trouble. Take it from me, there’s only one reliable way for someone like you to get rich and that’s illegal, underground poker.
When I say poker I’m not talking about Texas Hold ‘Em, a game played by dimwitted public school boys named Oscar who used to sit next to me at work and complain to Dave that was writing articles about underground poker instead of doing my actual job. No. I’m talking about a form of the game so frowned on by respectable members of society that it was outlawed by the government even before they’d made it illegal to trample nine MP's to death with a horse, which is what an outraged poker baron did right after they signed the anti-poker law. The type of poker I’m talking about is called One-Card Stud.
It is extraordinarily easy to win money playing One-Card Stud. It’s so easy a camel could do it, if that camel had opposable thumbs and a rudimentary understanding of probability. And if it could talk. There’s a lot of talking involved. Forget it, a camel couldn’t win. But you can.
You might think the best place to play this highly illegal form of poker is in an underground casino run by a slick Mafia boss with a name like Luciano Gambarelli. You’d be right, but Luciano Gambarelli told me that if I wrote an article about him I’d wind up with “even less thumbs than a camel”. He meant “even fewer” but I didn’t correct him as, well, the thumb thing, innit.
So where can you play this game that I can write about and still keep my thumbs? There’s only one place. It’s a bar run by outlaw bikers. The bar is called The Pickle & Unicycle. Don’t tell them this is a stupid name for a bar. The last person who told them that suffered what you might call an 'unexplained disappearance'. You might call it that except it’s easily explained, he was murdered by some outlaw bikers.
Now here’s what you do to get in on this hot poker action. You go to The Pickle & Unicycle and you tell the barman the secret code. The code is “I’d like a delicious roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings”. If you went to the wrong bar by mistake you’ll be served a delicious chicken dinner. If you’re at the right bar you’ll be ushered into a poker room out the back but still wish you’d got to eat that chicken. I should’ve told you to eat before going to the bar, sorry.
In the dimly-lit back room you’ll see other players. There’s two types of people who play One-Card Stud. The first is grizzled Iraq war types called “Cobra”. The second type is people who look suspiciously like you, who are there because they too read an article about getting rich playing illegal poker.
When all the players are seated the dealer will produce a single card. The card bears mysterious symbols and the number twelve. What could it mean? Twelve is a number with heavy numerological significance. The ancient Romans used it to signify the twelfth day of the month. Modern calendar manufacturers use it for a similar purpose.
It’s almost time for the game to start. The dealer will tell you there’s a 5000 pound cash buy-in. Sorry, this is another thing I forgot to mention earlier. The other players, who read better articles about illegal poker than this one, all produce the cash. You don’t have the money so you leave, just as broke as when you went in. Later you learn that every other player in that game is now fantastically rich. So you pull together the 5000 quid and return to the bar. Except it isn’t a bar any more, it’s a shop that sells those giant pants you see in the 'before' shots in diet ads. The only sign of the store’s biker history is the muffled screaming coming from the back room.
You’re dejected. Your shot at riches is gone. You curse me and my terrible article. You start to plot your revenge against me. But it’s too late. That screaming from the back room? That was me. It seems that outlaw bikers don’t like articles being written about their illegal poker games either. Tough break for both of us, but no one ever said it would be extraordinarily easy to get rich playing underground poker. No one except me, and as you’ve learned I’m almost as bad at giving advice as I am at not getting tortured to death in a pants store run by outlaw bikers.
Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X