Thursday, 17 July 2014

Xander Duell - Earth On It's Axis - single review

There are plenty of things that can be said to grab ahold of your attention.

When discussing music,the obvious touchstones of comparisons are usually first and foremost... if you like blah blah you will like so and so, and so on.

But when you have already been alerted to the fact that one line of a song is as follows...

“Then in a drunken haze, stabbed her in the parking lot of a TGI Friday’s”


The shock value certainly worker for me.  I load up the soundcloud link and press play.

Thankfully the song works beyond the initial worm on a hook, regardless of the bizarrely violent imagery 'Earth On It's Axis' oozes well-worn and slightly rag-tag pop, it is utterly dreamy in the most jarring way possible.  A beautiful nightmare.

And it turns out Xander Duell has past form.  His debut solo album, entitled 'Experimental Tape No.2, Vol.1', was apparently a misunderstood masterpiece of musical brilliance filtered through a gritty reality that played out in a New York apartment, where Garage Band captured two years worth of drug damaged confessionals.

The lead single from what promises to be a more approachable sophomore effort smacks of so many fragmented musical geniuses that it is frankly quite embarrassing just reeling off the relevant 'sounds-like's yet there really is no greater praise when trying to put into words why you should spare a little of your time to listen to it if you haven't been convinced already.

It is a transposed 'Life On Mars', infused with a Beach Boys lushness, touches of Mercury Rev and even Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear The Reaper', entwined with the cracked-pop brilliance of Beck and Eels.  All in one harshly enthralling, brazenly awkward and sublimely offensive song.

It appears that we may have just stumbled upon the Chuck Palahnuik of pop.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

dissecting Body of Songs

Readers of a certain age will have particular memories upon hearing the phrase 'How My Body Works'.  

For me it brings to mind the complete set of educational books, published fortnightly, lined up across my shelf, it makes me think of the pretty rubbish scale model of the human body that came piece by piece with the volumes and included a number of fiddly organs that were liable to fall out from the plastic rib cage that was supposedly holding everything in place.

It also makes me think of the cartoon characters that accompanied the book series, cribbed from the nano-sized bodily based adventures of Once Upon a Time... Life.  Providing an introduction to the battles of the white and red blood cells against nasty viruses that rages inside each and every one of us.

Does Gemma Cairney share these same memories? I'd like to think perhaps it was the introductory priced first volume that inspired her to curate a similarly themed musical project with a part-by-part schedule of releases that will explore the human body, focusing on one organ at a time.

Collaborating with composer Llywelyn Ap Myrrdin and Professor Hugh Montgomery, Director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance, the trio have drafted in artists to contribute a track each to what will eventually form a ten track album due for release in 2015.

Taking inspiration from internal organs was taken several steps further than expected however, meeting with medical experts including pathologists, neurologists, stem cell scientists, patients at varying stages of illness and even facing the organs themselves, the chosen artists formed an intimate understanding of why an organ works and fails and from these experiences ten songs were formed.

Of the collection so far, two tracks have been revealed, with drum and bass stalwart Goldie producing a synapse firing electronic beast of a track inspired by the brain, perfectly encapsulating the chemical rushes of a wired mind, and deep thinker Ghostpoet forgoes his usual style to closer inspect the liver, creating a dark and brooding dub-inflected woozy beat that shuns laid back rap in favour of snatches of sampled medical discussions.