The NBTMusic Review 142

review 143

The Random Playlist Experiment

Older Reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

So I thought I would try something different, Take three very talented, very different artists, throw all their new songs into a folder and let my player spit out the music at will, and I will attempt to convey my emotional, my sensual, my heart’s response to what hits me, and for three tracks from each artist I shall discover what private movies are created, what memories are triggered. I shall leave the technical dissection for other worthy critics; they have my permission, to conduct strenuous autopsies upon the verse and chorus of each song.

The three albums I will listen to are:

Monsters by Dudley Saunders (Strange Troubadours)

Tokyo’s Fifth – Tokyo Rosenthal (Rock and Sock Records)

Long Way Home – Max Carmichael (Independent Release)

So as a famous pair of lips once said in a cult film one dark rainy night, ‘’let’s get to it boppers’’

The first track up is Rosenthal’s ‘’What Did I Used To be’’ a reflective dark start to the proceedings.  3AM fragile where sunrise seems a lifetime away, and the hope that kept the younger man going seems in short supply. What surprises is how gentle this is, perhaps this is how depression hits us not with blunt force, but cloaked in sweet melody.

Saunder’s ‘’ What Rats Are We’’ stays in that temperamental time zone,  part of the night where time slows to a crawl, but this is  jazz romantic, neon sign reflected in puddle moody, kinda hip as the ghosts of Marlon Brando and Miles Davis are evoked. These too are lost men, but watch for the proud tilt of the head, the small wicked smile.

And so we leave the street and enter a packed club, An impossibly cool band whose members all look like Max Carmichael are playing on a tiny cramped stage, the song is, ‘’ Yellow Mud’’, we think of the Beatles, but not in Hamburg, rather in CBGBs, Jonathan Richman looks on and takes notes, a yuppie in the corner is loudly demanding a coloured drink, perhaps because his girlfriend is paying too much attention to the band.

Speaking of the Beatles, Tokyo takes back control of their ‘’Helter Skelter’’ but with none of the affectation of U2. This is country fiddle joyful, recalling a glorious time in the mid 70s when the American charts were full of country rock boogie, sing along anthems devoid of guile, you know, like when the Doobie Brothers were NOT slick, NOT polished, and there wasn’t a genre called adult contemporary.

Carmichael’s ‘’Plateau’’ comes skipping in, keeping the party vibe going, Everly Brothers overdosed on Paul Simon sanctioned subliminal afro rhythms, the singer enjoying the insecurity of sunshine through clouds,  we feel we are on a roundabout ,things become a pleasant blur, tension and giggles in equal measure.

Dudley Saunders brings back the fear, but oh how tactile, stirring seductive he makes it, in ’’ The Man In The Game’’ we cuddle up nervous next to one of his curiously broken characters, find an understanding for the approaching horror, glory in the detachment, this is how nightmares should be written, not with screeches and bombast, but rather with a slightly dangerous empathy.

Rosenthal’s ‘’Waste Of A Heart’’ with its traditional Oprey feel, and shy lilting harmonies from Andrea Connolly, makes us wish that Leonard Cohen, had written more Country songs. Regret and acceptance he moves out towards the dawn at last

In ‘’Zero Out (In These Boxes) ‘’ by Dudley Saunders,  we discover how memories can trap the soul, how powerful inanimate objects can be, as if they are magic, that just by looking at them, taking them out of that box in the attic or the top of the cupboard, they bestow the not  completely welcome gift of time travel. This for me is the most personal track on this album and all the more beautiful for it.

And finally we head down into Max Carmichael’s ‘’Rifted Valley.’’ What amazes me here is suddenly we are no longer in the artist’s beloved New York post Punk Loft dreamscape, but somewhere deep in that intellectual alt Americana that folks like Andrew Bird inhabit. It is fitting that this is the last song of this random journey, because the music is epic, growing, dense and like all that we have heard today, full of ideas, but never disregarding the raw emotion of it all.

Find out more from these artists right here:

http://www.tokyorosenthal.com/tokyo_rosenthal/home.html

http://www.dudleysaunders.com/index.php

http://www.maxcarmichael.com/

And you can hear LOADS of tracks from these three albums on the NBTMusicRadio 24 hour stream

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The NBTMusic Review 141

Older Reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Child Of Ancestors – Sarah Jane Mary Hills (Sjambok Music)

Written by Jacobus Rossouw aka 88KOS

Every month, I read every music magazine and website and blog end to
end. It’s a search for albums that are personal, stripped of ego,
beautiful and honest. On my twitter account I ask questions, hoping
that the crowd will source these beautiful albums for me… And every
so often I’ll come across Warpaint or a rare perfection like Mountain
Man’s “Made the Harbour”, but more often than not I’m disappointed by
the anodyne starch that is served up as music so regularly.

Then, out of the blue I see a post about Sarah Jane Mary Hills’ new
album, Child of Ancestors, on NBT’s Facebook feed. I loved the work
she did with Sunways and so it was an easy decision to buy the album
immediately from her bandcamp site. After listening to the opening 5
seconds I was hooked, and when NBT Music Radio asked me to do a review
I jumped at the chance.

This is a rare album, so deeply honest and personal that it’s an act
of courage (and perhaps catharsis) to release it to the public. The
arrangement is simple and the production sparse, and combines with
introspective lyrics to produce an intimacy that is arresting and
inspiring.

Though this is a solo album the collaboration with the Legendary
Warrick Sony in terms of the final product is worth mentioning. Hills
and Sony have worked together before with Hills contributing vocals to
two Kalahari Surfers albums – One Party State
(http://kalaharisurfer.bandcamp.com/album/one-party-state) and the
recent Agitprop (http://kalaharisurfer.bandcamp.com/). For this album,
Hills recorded the vocals and guitar before sending the songs to Sony
to add final musical touches after which he did the final mix and
mastering.

Sony’s genius is that his contribution is light and sensitive thereby
adding to the album’s haunting beauty. The layered vocals and the
simple guitar figures against a background of sweeping soundscape is a
trip into someone’s soul.

Hills’ writing is superb, never over the top and never straying from a
sound that suits the album’s themes. The subject matter is sometimes
emotionally tough but ultimately leaves this listener with hope and a
sense of peace. This may make it sound like a “difficult” album but it
is extremely accessible and you will find yourself humming the songs
long after listening.

This is not an album for anyone that is fond of aggresive posturing or
frivolous pap, but for those who appreciate simplicity and beauty it
is a rare find and I encourage you to make your way to Hills’ bandcamp
site with your credit card ready.
(http://sarahjanemaryhills.bandcamp.com/). Child of Ancestors is
another superb Sjambok Music release and while you’re in a buying mood
make sure to check out other albums released by one of SA’s finest
labels at http://www.sjambokmusic.com

Tracks from this cool album can be heard all over the 24 hour stream that is the NBTMusicRadio

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The NBTMusic Review 140

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Light in Cages – album launch Zack’s, Wilson’s Wharf 28 October.

By Helge Janssen

I first came across Rowan Stuart when he opened for a Jaspar Lepak gig @ St. Clements in Musgrave Road more than a year ago. He had already become well known via Cynosure a “quirky fun-pop-rock band” in the words of Rowan himself. At St. Clements, he had a way with creating guitar loops and backing beats that grew the sound beyond he and bassist Jared Collison’s stage presence. All the while Rowan’s eyes would dart around: audience to guitar, drum beat/loop to audience, microphone to foot pedals….as if he was looking for something unfathomable, seemingly out of reach. At the same time he was having fun experimenting before a highly appreciative audience. But quite clearly the glint in Rowan’s eye (a single eye peering through the curtain of his fringe) was searching for a greater challenge.

Light in Cages – Rowan’s solo project alias transmuting into a band for performances – literally burst onto the Durban rock scene @ Zack’s on a rainy Sunday night. Heading the line up was multitalented Rowan (lyricist, vocals, lead guitar, synth programming); Jared (bass); and Jude Kendrick (drums). I sensed immediately that there had been a shift in Rowan, a shedding, displaying a masterful command of his performance that was grounded, driving, inimitable. He has been hard at work, realigning his planets and taking stock of his life, allowing his lyrics and songs to speak for themselves. As such, this break-away venture bares all the courage of self-exploration within a context of philosophical portent. But I also sensed there is a lot more in dynamo Rowan – in perfect voice, a voice with a range of which great legends are made – that wants to kick ass. He certainly has rock star looks and style, wearing black shirt, black skinny-jeans and hipster black and white checked belt. Long time collaborator Jared was solid on bass, complimenting Rowan with confident ease. Newcomer Jude gave a vigorous and beat-perfect performance on drums.

There is certainly light – and darkness – with immense intelligence in the lyrics, which are most epic. The melodies are haunting and memorable. There is magnificence in the musical arrangements that are many-layered, which I see (given time) being performed with full orchestral accompaniment. Time will prove just how far ‘Light in Cages’ has raised the bar in this genre and as such this is indeed an exciting and much needed addition to South Africa’s rock scene.

The CD cover is a direct link to this projects name: a man in a state of ecstatic abandonment with light emanating from his chest cavity, and who is surrounded by a bleak landscape swathed in darkness. The immediate impact is of a soul trapped in a human body yet forever free. It is of note too, that while the rib cage is an ‘entrapment’ it is also a flexible protection.

The CD has been expertly produced and recorded by Rowan with Brent Quintin mixing and mastering. The talents of Sidney Rash were used on drums, with Rowan completing the range of backup musical instruments: bass, guitars, programming.

I have at least two best best favourite tracks: “Symphony” and “The Labyrinth”.

Here are the lyrics courtesy of Rowan:

SYMPHONY

They say that we were once beasts
Who rose from the ground
We were bound and displeased

They say our thirst never died
As we grew in our numbers
So we grew in our pride

I say that beasts we may be
But blessed with the ability to better are we

So come on, come on baby please
Won’t you close your box of vanities
Cause there’s a symphony
It’s called Humanity
And every note, every beat
Is an angel reborn

If we choose to live and let live
To create and to wonder
And take less than we give

We can break from these cages of skin
Becoming humane and not merely human

So come on, come on baby please
Won’t you close your box of vanities
Cause there’s a symphony
It’s called Humanity
And every note, every beatIs an angel reborn
Is an angel reborn

There’s a symphony
Called humanity
And every note, every beat
Every note, every beat
Every note, every beat
Is an angel reborn

————————-

THE LABYRINTH

Curse of birth or gift of the divine
Sworn to walk this trying maze of mine

I’d just watch the sky to stay strong
And dreaming between the stars
I’d forge on

Cause I could never stop this search, it is my fate
To walk the labyrinth

And every time you tear me down I’ll recreate
Myself inside of it
The labyrinth
It’s in my veins now

Whispers and stirring bones
Of those before
So few find the prize
We die for

But I could never stop this search, it is my fate
To walk the labyrinth

And every time you tear me down I’ll recreate
Myself inside of it
The labyrinth
It’s in my veins now

This is rock music at its fledging best!

If Rowan were a fine artist, I would call this the world’s first rock instillation art piece!

It is going to be interesting to see if Rowan will succeed in enticing people to buy into his music rather than into his name or image, or whether there is a calling of which he himself is as yet unaware. After all rock music is very much about lifestyle and performance that marries and drives home its liberating message.

On its own, the CD is an astounding achievement. Get your copy now!

Visit Light in Cages web site at: http://www.lightincages.com/fr_music and get a free download of a track.

You can also visit the Facebook page at:
https://www.facebook.com/LightInCages?ref=ts&fref=ts

Tracks from this album can be heard all over the NBTMusicRadio 24 stream, specially though, during the hour of 7 PM Berlin time (that’s 6 PM UK,  1 PM New york)

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The NBTMusicReview 139

Older Reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Tracks from Asleep In Transit’s EP can also be heard on the NBTMusicRadio during the 6 PM (Berlin Time) slot

Wide-awake in a starry sky: Asleep in Transit – Jackie Horner Pub, Helen Joseph Road, Glenwood, Durban. 08 September 2012

review: Helge Janssen

This five member band, formed as a duo almost two years ago, presented the Jackie Horner pub with an acoustic set as a threesome: singer/percussion Irena Buzdugan, acoustic guitarist Allister Christie, and bassist Joshua Woolf. Vlad Buzdugan (synthesizer) and Chris McNabb (drums) were otherwise engaged.

Like the proverbial live-wire, Irina Buzdugan’s beautiful voice weaves its way around the acoustic and bass guitars, slithers through the notes sparking their intention, explores range and depth, tempo and space, stretches, evolves – holds time itself -with an ease of expression that belies its depth of persuasion. As such, Irina locates  the melody outside of and between the driving rhythms with intuitive jazzy-verve. This creates space for melodic invention that is the casting point of strength of this band. With charisma to match, her exotic beauty is alluring and mesmerising, while the two guitarists wouldn’t be out of place in a vogue photographic shoot either! Allister has a natural alto voice that entwines Irina’s in an harmonic, shamanic echo-chorus – and at other times he leads – that is as pleasing as it is surprising. With his acoustic guitar, at times banjo-like, sometimes upbeat in a blue-grass kind of way, Allister forms and informs the essential fulcrum through which the performers anchor their focus while allowing space for each musician to explore their potential unhindered.

Joshua is reinventing the bass guitar: at times driving the songs rhythm, at others leading with an electric guitar-like riff, or happy to simply accentuate and prolong the dramatic use of a deep and warm bass reverb in sudden contrast to the dancing higher notes, he is always inventive. And yet, these bass guitar melodies do exactly what a bass guitar is meant to do: heighten the countering rhythm, and add depth to instrument structure.

Of particular note too is the arrangement of the songs. These have well thought out deceptively simple layers of melodies that dance around the primary rhythms sustaining aural intrigue progressively adding depth and range to the dramatic context. These performers are not afraid to play with time, have an equable performance style which belies the poignancy in their message. The songs are thought provoking, memorable and accessible. I had a strong sense of lateral thinking infusing their creative processes. This allows for maximum individual input within an infrastructure of mutual respect. Listen to “Brother, Sister” or “What a mess we must appear” which are both melancholic AND upbeat and will have you smiling!

What a Mess We Must Appear:

“Why’d you burn all the buildings?

I just don’t get it.

Why can’t you tell your smoke from fire?

I heard I’m dying tonight
and I think I just found out why..”

This rich tapestry with its counter-point surprises forms the essential drive and interest that becomes the expansive whole of ‘Asleep in Transit’. As such they have produced a unique alternative Durban sound. From this showing this band could neatly slot into the international circuit and they definitely have what it takes to rise to the top.

They might be ‘asleep in transit’ but they are very much wide-awake in transmission!

WHAT a boon! You can download their debut album FREE here: http://soundcloud.com/asleep-in-transit/sets/asleep-in-transit-ep

web site: http://www.asleepintransit.com

Durban is exploding with musical talent!

The NBT MusicReview 138

Older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet – Piano Magic (Saint Marie Records)

dismissed in some circles for not being ‘indie’ or minimal or pure enough (depending on the ”intellectual” creds of the writer/blog) the latest release from Piano Magic, is a slow burn alternative universe collection, exuding  a shimmering calm that only comes before or after some kind of exquisite tension.

This is the gentlest bitter, a restrained anger, no overblown dramatics, rather a sensual hypnotic even devious journey into the soul. There are words of warning here for the dishonest, the reckless, and the self satisfied, whispered with a smile rather than shouted in futility.

The band has not given up on that (previous label) 4 AD mystery, but now adds a bit of soul, a touch of world, a lot of restlessness to the mix. Imagine if you will a midnight wedding tween a New Order pop song and a David Sylvian willful experiment with just a hint of the more masculine side of Dead Can Dance and then dream on, listen on, from there and let the surprises take you at will.

The title track give a clear indication of what the writer and the band hope to convey, achieve, charting that ambiguous dangerous time, where self doubt and hopelessness can push one to the very edge, and yet somehow you pick yourself up and keep going, keep creating keep trying to express yourself.

This new album is full of such intimate ideas expertly told and wonderfully played.

Trax from This Album will be featured on the NBTMusicRadio during the following hours:

2 PM 6 PM Berlin Time (1 PM/5 PM UK and 8 AM/ 12 Midday New York)

And Both Midnight Madness Hours (midnight Berlin Time (11 PM UK) and also midnight New York Time)

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The NBT Review 127

older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Native Sons (deluxe reissue) – The Long Ryders

by Cobus Rossouw AKA 88KOS

Reviewing a reissue of an important and influential album from 1984 is a very challenging prospect for someone who has never heard the original. Some of the greatest albums ever made cannot stand outside of the context of their time and so it’s worth pausing to reflect on the history surrounding The Long Ryders’ “Native Sons”

By 1984 the genre of country-rock had been reduced to a pale shadow of its potential. While bands such as the Eagles had produced memorable songs and had advanced the style in terms of popularity, lyrical content had suffered and so this music had become associated with an anodyne middle-of-the-road sensibility.

Bear in mind that by this time The Sex Pistols had been and gone and the charts were filled with Culture Club, Keny Loggins and Lionel Richie. By the end of 1984 a day-glo Wham would plead with us to wake them up before they went.

The Long Ryders’ Native Sons entered into this market perception with a set of songs that, musically, embraced every riff, bassline and phrasing in the country-rock canon albeit with far more lyrical meaning than their immediate genre predecessors. The impact of the album was such that it peaked at number 2 on the NME Indie Charts in 1985, only kept out of the number 1 spot by Meat is Murder.

Look no further than “Ivory Tower” for this content. In two verses the Ryders sum up today’s slacktivist culture as if they had been privy to some prophecy.

In their version of Mel Tillis’ “Sweet Mental Revenge” I hear tribute to the vocal style of David Byrne, in “Tell it to the Judge on Sunday” there are moments when the voice of John Lydon calls out instructions and “Wreck of the 809” could have been included on “Sandinista”. The music on this pays homage but stands on its own feet, stands tall.

It’s a fascinating album, always surprising and filled with meaning. This is a band that could play anything, in any style. From the bass on “Wreck” to the banjo on “Never got to meet the mom” every instrument is appropriate and perfectly played. This combines with a vocal capability that manages to reference (as far as I’m concerned) every significant vocal contribution in the preceding 30 years. On top of that they do this without ever sounding like a gimmick, everything blisters with intensity, the Long Ryders mean every word.

I should have listened to “I had a Dream” in 1984.

you can tracks from this album all over the 24 hour stream of indie music that is The NBTMusicRadio and you can loads of cool 88KOS songs too!

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The NBT Review 125

older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Reader’s Wives reviewed by Martin Smit

Quiet Rebellion reviewed by Beth Wimmer

Rachel’s Apartment – Reader’s Wives (Independent Release)

 Bam Pow
lets get this angry funny party started, with some rolling stone swagger, slightly treated vocals to add the just right spoonful of
bitter, of cool detachment. Speeding down the 100word per 30 second highway, NameDropping,RockRolling PoP Driven. Your dancing before you know it.

 Imagine now, if Morrissey had a fetish for the kinda anthem Green Day churnout, but twisted it into something fragile and internal while strutting across the floor to enter stage dive heaven, these disaffected are burdened and blessed with fierce intellect, so no
pandering to the stupid, rather grinning wicked with the clever.

 Flirting with indie disco even, (I bet the remix boys hover ) these are brittle beautiful shocks of the modern pop, ready to be waved
festival flags at, but not sacrificing the spark of the watcher, the loner, the kid with the notebook mind and camera memory.

 Fatima Mansions’ Cathal Coughlan adds the fear to ‘ Isadora Duncan’ but this is no one outsider and backing band collection. The band, the instruments, the voice function as a complete weapon of mass seduction, they are, like we love them, isolated,almost untouchable, yet speaking to only us, Saturday night, just before the pubs open,singing with us in the nightclub crush, dreaming with us on the long journey home.

 https://www.facebook.com/rachelsapartment

 

Still Talking Scribble – Quiet Rebellion (Independent release)

Quiet Rebellion is a perfect name for Shaun T Hunter’s project. The songs on this album, “Still Talking Scribble” are filled with deep, important, and often unsettling questions for the single soul and for humanity itself.

Hunter plays every instrument on this lush and gorgeous collection of songs for humanity. Beautiful vocal tapestries are woven into colorful, rich beds, and the words sung to us haunt with messages on being a healthy human in this uncertain world. The mystical melodies deliver poignant observations and strong statements on living in the moment, being accepting of others, and growing to reach full potential as a people.

The first track, ‘Soon’, lulls us in from the start, echoing our dream state minds back to us, reminding us that “soon, you will realize the treasure lays in the questions not the answers…”

In ‘Beneath The Wings Of A Dragon’, the feathery and uplifting guitar is complemented with Hunter’s sweet, firm and clear voice… “…narrrow-minded vision don’t deserve this wide expansive space… still attached to the outcome when only the journey should count.”

With sweet passion and delightful melody in ‘The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend’, Hunter sings “shoot me down, shoot me down, i cannot fix you, cannot mend… for the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” and “don’t you know that the easiest person in the world to fool is yourself…” A surprising and fresh take on being accepting of yourself and others. The songs winds down with haunting yet uplifting vocals reaching toward the heavens.

The interplay of lilting, hypnotic guitars and vocals are an inviting and calming way to hear Quiet Rebellion’s messages of love and acceptance. With his simple yet worldly tinged production I am calmed, made comfortable, and centered by listening to “Still Talking Scribble”– all 15, beautiful songs.

The song ‘Substitute Silence For Noise’ addresses our tendencies to not stay in the moment – our tendencies to be distracted and to sadly, all too often, forget the sacred things like silence, peace, or even secrets. “…another minor distraction from a major decision…” “…secrets are something we tell everybody to tell no one…”

Quiet Rebellion’s new release “Still Talking Scribble” should not be a secret from anyone! “Still Talking Scribble” is a beautiful, spirit-moving album that stirs the soul, invites introspection, and inspires the mind!

http://quietrebellion.get-ctrl.com

you can hear lots of tracks from both these releases on the NBTMusicRadio
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