Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spinning astronauts! Lonely women! Shlomo! The Birmingham weekender review

Working on weekends can be a mixed blessing, the upside is that if something cool is happening in Birmingham (there always is), you're always around to check it out. The downside is that you will always be too tired to see everything. On Saturday I happened to pass by a performance art show called Urban Astronaut. The show consisted of a handful of individuals, all in overalls, and one in a space suit. After showing off their athletic prowess, the spaceman was strapped to a movable crane,  from which the rest of them pushed him well up into the sky,  so that he could spin around and engage with the rapidly growing audience.  Many of course were asking what it was all about, and some just didn't get it at all. The story that was being told through this interpretive performance was  that  in the future, an environmental disaster has ruined our planets air. The astronaut is searching for a solution to this. The story was told by a recorded voice over on a speaker on the frames. It was the man spinning around that people had come to watch though, and while impressive, it didn't hold my full attention for that long.
Today there was a bit of Bhanga* dancing, but i didn't hang around as I wanted to check out 'Requiem to let'. A tribute to all the shops that have closed down in Britain over the last few years. This is a subject that is very close to my heart, made more apparent that Waterstones has now closed it's flagship Birmingham store. Half of the fun was tracking down the abandoned shop that this was held in. A worn out, but tastefully old fashioned shop in Birmingham's Great western arcade. The show consisted of an elegantly dressed woman standing in the corner. Singing by herself but accompanied by a speaker which provided backing recordings of her own voice. The performance consisted of her and the voices singing 'I'm so lonely' over and over and over again. For about 5 minutes it was captivating, but after about 15, very boring and incredibly pretentious. This could have been fantastic, but it just wasn't as good as I wanted it to be.
The highlight and closing act of the festival was Shlomo. A world renowned beatboxer, and master storyteller. Using a vast array of pedals and mixers, which has been named 'Dave Skills' by an audience member. He used sampling to create songs, and to involve the audience in the show. His show included his take on 'Seven nation army', 'Just be good to me', several garage classics, and drum 'n bass interludes. The show was the story told of how he went from being Simon Khan to Shlomo. Starting with his childhood, teenage years, and the chance encounters with Foreign Beggars and Bjork that made his name. The whole show was hugely entertaining, and I got to show him my own beatbox skillz while he signed my CD.

As well as Claustrophobia, one of my main fears is FOMO, (Fear Of Missing Out). When so much stuff can happen in one place in two days, it's a pretty rational fear.

*Did you know that Birmingham produces 80% of the worlds Bhangra music? neither did I.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Swim Deep, Fueiho Boogie (Review + vid)

I've tried not to do many reviews of the Swim Deep tracks that are being leaked towards the release date of 'Mothers' as I've wanted to wait until I can do a full album release, But this one's just too good to  not write about. Ultimately it's been a strange ride for me being a Swim Deep fan, First falling in love with them, falling out of love with them, and being swept off my feet again  by what is a totally new band. 'To my brother' confused me, 'Grand Affection' and 'Namaste' impressed me, and 'One great song'  is the one that really made me love them again.  Yet while all of these are pretty great pop songs, they are still pretty lightweight as Psychedelic songs. This all changes with Fueiho Boogie, which the band say was "truly heavenly to record" and is inspired by their "trip to japan and finding out about the Fueiho law making it illegal to dance in clubs". The law has now been lifted, which the band seem to be taking credit for. Dreamtrak is the producer of this 'Sonic Spaghetti Junction' and from the moment you press play it sounds like 3 songs playing at once, but it works better than that did on 'To my brother'. It' starts all a bit dark and menacing with synths blaring like sirens and an almost Nine Inch Nails style ambience behind it. Aussie is clearly revelling in the irony of the song's title. Singing about being in the 'house of  fun'. His singing switches from deep and moody to a high pitched whine in the trippier parts, yet he's not buried in the mix or taking centre stage.
Amazingly the whole song is 8 minutes long yet it the time flies by and it never outstays it's welcome.  In parts it's almost shoegazy, not far from what The Horrors have been doing lately, especially during the keyboard solo at 3:45, but it's obvious that rave, techno and acid house are some of the main influences here. The vibe is pure 80's-90's pill popping, wide eyed, high energy, Dance-trance-indie. and when the amen breaks kick in, the beats seem to have been lifted straight from The Prodigy's classic 'Music For the Jilted Generation LP'. Yet for all the references to the past I've dropped, this is clearly a song for 2015, It's by far the best thing Swim Deep have done yet. I'm really looking forward to my signed 'Mothers' CD arriving on 2/10, though no album  is good enough to justify a bundle with an £8(!) pair of socks included. Also I should probably mention that Mothers is the name of the iconic, but short lived venue which was in Birmingham until the early 70's. Many psych legends played there, so big up to Swim Deep for doing their history homework.