Filed under:Music,Soft Rocks — posted by I J Wilson on August 26, 2010 @ 12:41 pm
Over the last five years, Brighton group Soft Rocks have been unable to put a foot wrong. After releasing a number of 12 inches - the Disco Powerplay and Chocolate Love series - and last year remixing MGMT‘s Of Moons, Birds and Monsters, the news is that they are currently working on a full album, this time entirely comprised of original sounds.
They have also just started doing a regular radio show “Live From the Bowels of Brighton” on Deep Frequency.
Below is the stunning Leave Your Earth Behind from the second Milky Disco compilation, which also came out as a 12″ and digital download on the Redux label. With synths in the style of Japanese group Kitaro, a tightly structured framework of rhythms and early-rave/deep-house repetitive dischords, Leave Your Earth Behind is a heavily-layered and complex track with a real driving-through-the-backstreets-at-night feel.
Filed under:COS/MES,Music — posted by I J Wilson on July 29, 2009 @ 12:36 pm
From Private Image photo series c. 2007 Poser Graphics
Although the full length album “Sadistic Skatepark” by Japanese group COS/MES was released mid-2007, it never quite made it into Western countries and received the exposure it deserved.
It was released as part of an exhibition in Japan featuring the work of designers and artists closely aligned with the Japanese skating scene. The Sadistic Skatepark was a full-size ramp, installed in a clothing store in Tokyo, made from iron, and covered in dangerously protruding bolts (the ‘sadistic’ element of the ramp).
Many of the tracks on the album are interspersed with the sound of skateboards rolling on the iron ramp, and refer in name to features of the exhibition.
For example, the first track — which uses a forward slash for its name — is the Iron Stick symbol of the exhibition. Every Sadistic Skatepark CD was issued with a small iron bar inserted into the empty spine of the plastic casing. These bars were meticulously hand-made, and tie into the iron ramp and iron skateboard imagery.
Forging the Iron Stick: Members of COS/MES at Work
The majority of the tracks on the album are laid-back, jazz-infused grooves — the sort of music that goes well playing in the background of an exhibition — but there are a couple of stunners, like Fanfare Maniac, which has a mid-seventies Tangerine Dream style arpeggio, with timpani rolls and a strong melody. It’s epic journey music with a slightly manic edge; and Iron Deck, a deep house track, with a nodding 303 bass line, and deeply delayed clattering metal, giving it a soundtrack quality. A stuttering vox line comes in mid-track that paves the way for a fantastic melodic flourish.
There is an amazingly diverse range of sounds on this album; I’m not sure whether they are sampled or created from scratch, but they really fill out into an interesting album to listen to. The raucous Slam is another good track, as well as Ramp, an upbeat rock number with an eighties feel.
The name COS/MES might be a play on the German word ‘kosmichë’ — as many of the sounds on this album have there origin in this vein of electronic music. The two artists behind the work are DJ Flatic and 5ive. Flatic regularly DJ’s in Japan, and has released a number of mixes on the Sound More label.
COS/MES are also part of a group in Japan known as iseneehihinee, which includes graffiti artist MUSTONE, design duo Haroshi and clothing line Friendick, VJ and video-artist Heartbomb, and a number of others, including Mixrooffice, which has staged events in Japan bringing out artists like Daniel Wang and Derrick May.
Build the Band and Fanfare Maniac were released last year on a 7” vinyl by Swedish label High Feelings, with the cover artwork featuring photos of the Sadistic Skatepark ramp. The track Build the Band is also on the Prins Thomas ‘Live at Robert Johnson’ mix CD, which was released in May this year. COS/MES also have a new track — Natural Lifespan — on the Mule Musiq/Endless Flight various artists compilation, ‘I’m Starting to Feel Okay’ Vol.3.
COS/MES are a really interesting group, with great sounds and wide musical tastes. ‘Sadistic Skatepark’ — as well as any of their future releases — are worth getting a hold of.
03. slide show
04. 088 skate
05. poser, poser
06. he is rain man
08. fanfare maniac
09. iron deck
10. like a virgin point
11. ramp / cos/mes
12. sadistic skatepark / cos/mes
Sadistic Skatepark is out on Sound Wave Construction (Japan)
Filed under:Inverto,Music — posted by I J Wilson on December 6, 2008 @ 5:16 pm
September was an auspicious time for Melbourne group Inverto. Norman Whitfield, a Motown producer whose songs Inverto have championed over the past year, passed away; while the band’s first own vinyl release, Time to Jack, materialised on music websites around Europe.
Technically a “cover band”, Inverto are unique in that they cover songs of very specific genres, in a very different way. Dressed up as hospital employees – four doctors and a nurse – they conceal themselves behind a white screen on the stage. Then film-clips by Motown artists, such as The Jackson 5 and The Temptations, are projected onto the screen, and are rebuilt live by the band through a combination of rhythm and bass guitar, drums and keyboard. The vocal parts of the clip are then scratch-mixed in sync with the music by the band’s DJ (DJ Ransom).
Guitarist Marty Moose explains the origins of Inverto. “Ransom (who helped with setting up the Toff in Town, a Melbourne club) laid down the styles of music that would be the identity of the place. Round the same time, J-Red was demoing the prototype DVJ (a video-mixing unit) … Ransom called me up one day with a kind of ‘you’ll thank me for this’ tone and explained the idea of syncing Motown acapellas with live footage and having a band play the tracks while the footage was cut in over it.”
This led to a four-month residency at the Toff in Town earlier this year. The idea of the screen and visuals was so effective that some people, according to Inverto’s keyboardist Nurse Hanna, did not even realise there was a band behind it.
Inverto also bring their own originality to the tracks, editing them down, and introducing new sounds into the mix. Their versions of Mammagamma and I, Robot by The Alan Parsons Project are transformed by the fact that they are creating these sounds with organic instruments, as well as synths.
The uniqueness of this performance garnered enthusiastic feedback from their audience, fans long-interested in these eras of music, but excited by the new light in which they had experienced them.
But Inverto’s selection is anything but nostalgic – a good percentage of what they play has not been heard by a mainstream audience. People know the sound of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but are less familiar with Alan Parsons (of The Alan Parsons Project) who helped to engineer that sound.
The Writing's on the Wall: Street poster for July Gig with In Flagranti
Inverto show that there is a whole world of music out there – Cosmic Disco, EBM, Chicago House, Krautrock – all to be discovered. In a sense, they are “recovering” musical elements of the past for a modern audience. According to Marty Moose, “there’s no one anywhere representing this repertoire.” – which is probably why they have been getting such good feedback from other artists. NYC’s Metro Area was impressed by Inverto’s cover of their track Miura, and Prins Thomas, known for his work with fellow-Norwegian Lindstrom, has also had a few kind words to say about their music.
Of their individual origins as musos, Nurse Hanna says, “We do indeed have very different musical backgrounds. Marty comes from a .. .well … he’s played lots of different styles. Rock, krautrock, jazz, funk, soul, grooves. His band Crackpot has their second album on the way. I myself come from a classical piano background, started piano at age 3 and finished up at VCA a few years ago.”
Part of Nurse Hanna’s “cosmic” calling came when she accidentally discovered the Korg MS2000 synth while on holidays in Hong Kong. This has not only contributed greatly to the Inverto sound, but also to her other two bands, R! (as in “aarr, aha me hearties!”) and the psychedelic-synth rock of Big Fat Kill.
The rhythm section of the band – Luke Hodgeson on bass, and Hadyn Meggit on drums (and occasionally Graeme Pogson) – have played with Marty before, as well as in many other bands. As the driving force of Inverto, they have their work cut out for them. They blend samples of backmasked cymbals and midi-triggered handclaps with a live drum-kit, as well as having the challenge of transferring electronic basslines of the original music into the real thing.
“The biggest technical challenge,” says Nurse Hanna, “is [for] our drummer trying to play along with the MS2000 sequencer. There’s something weird about it, like the last step is a millisecond too short. So we have the foldback turned up really loud, and then its fine because Hadyn and Graeme are awesome drummers.”
Their musical selection also skirts across the world of horror, with their reworkings of songs by Goblin, an Italian progressive-rock band from the seventies who became synonomous with the work of horror director Dario Argento. Inverto’s cover of the title-track to Argento’s 1982 slasher-thriller Tenebre is amazing, and gives Nurse Hanna a chance (in the words of Marty Moose) to unleash her “horrific robotic utterances” through the vocoder feature of her synthesizer.
Inverto’s first recorded release is a 12″ on Melbourne’s own M-Division label, a cover of Chip E’s Time to Jack. The majority of the track was recorded as a jam session with DJ Ransom tweaking it in the studio. Paired up with this is an original composition, Lean To, a slow-tempo “balearic” track with a strong melodic focus.
“Pretty much Marty and Phil Ransom sat down and did that one together,” says Nurse Hanna. There is also a couple of remixes on the B-side by New York producer, Brennan Green.
One of the strange things about Inverto is that while many bands these days are covering guitar-based songs and making them sound more electronic – Inverto are doing just the opposite. And ironically, for a cover band, they are one of the most original musical acts you’ll see for a long time.