Quite a record, and my disc of the week. Several years ago I added a CD by Doctor Rockit to the NCP playlist at WZBC. It came out on the (now defunct) label Clear Records right around the same time as Clear put out the CD by Metamatics. Metamatics recently put out a second full length on the label Hydrogen Dukebox, and now it is Doctor Rockit's turn. Times are quite a bit different than when the last record came out. At that time 'electronica' was just a cult genre and phrase. In the last several years, after the explosion of Roni Size's Reprazent on the scene electonic and dance music have enjoyed more widespread success and respect than in any time in the past. This CD is something else again. I can't picture anyone with an open mind not liing this disc. It is in no way what you would thing of as an 'electonica' or 'dance' CD. It's even being playlisted in 'Rock' with a dual listing between 'Rock' and 'NCP'. Like Moloko last week, Doctor Rockit has defied classification. The difference is that he doesn't have a singer, though that's not to say that several of the songs don't have great female vocals sung by Dani Siciliano. Doctor Rockit is Matthew Herbert. He credits himself with "all samplers, keyboards, rhodes, accordions, guitars, basses, drums, and er...vocals", with the exception of the 4 songs sung by Dani. He says a couple of neat things in the digipak cover: "The heroes and villians of this album are in the music" and "Read some books: 'The Food We Eat' by Joanna Blythman, 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' by Harimu Murakami anf 'We Wish To Inform You' by Philip Gourevitch, support adbusters.org Get sanctions lifted from Iraq". If you sat with a remote in your hand and scanned through this CD you would barely believe it was one disc, but you would miss the true magic of this disc: making separate peices that don't appear to fit together speak volumes by the placement they are given within.
July 11, 2000
The first time ESG has appeared on a (legitimate) CD since they recorded these tracks in the early 80's. ESG were 4 sisters and a brother from the South Bronx that played in the clubs of NYC's lower east side as well as venues in their own neighborhood without blinking an eye. Just recently ESG wowed London audiences with a show where the Scoggins sisters enlisted two of Renee's daughters to play bass and guitar. ESG never did what you'd expect and have found themselves rock solid respect 20 years later as a result. With the crossover going on right now between the many schools and styles of music, ESG have been the recent subjects of lots of press for what they've done. Listening to the track 'Dance' you can still see why. Simple as could be imagined, yet entirely effective. Effortlessly cool. There are 16 tracks on this CD. Production on most is bare bones with heavy emphasis on the bass, but this is how they were and it stands up still today.
Out Hud came recommended to me by WHRB DJ Mike Train, who I ran into at Newbury Comics in Harvard Square while he was visiting his parents, back from NYC where he now lives. When I DJed at WHRB in 1991-93 I developed a large respect for many of my fellow members who spent enormous amounts of time and energy on the music they loved. I would never dismiss a recommendation of Mike Train's and I'm glad I didn't on this one. I would have missed this neat New Order-ish single from the Pacific Northwest, with 2 instrumentals that really have a cool Factory/Earcom sound. The big surprise is that the band has 2 girls (Phyllis and Molly) that were in 3 bands so unlike this one. They were in Raouul, the Yahmos, and the Tourettes. Quite a cool single, and one I would haven entirely passed by. I especially like the B-side: "4th Of July BBQ".
Monochrome Set 2000? Really that's what we have here. Scarlet's Well is Bid's new band. Bid was the writer/vocalist/guitarist for The Monochrome Set. The Monochrome Set were never an easy band to love (after their early 7"s which were immediate and wonderful). They put out many records on Cherry Red, Blanco y Negro and El Records. Each record saw less sales than the one before. In the early 90's Bid helped with the second Would Be Goods record for El. Last year the debut record by The Scarlet's Well came out, as well as the CD by The Barry Gemsco Experience, Bid's two new ventures which both recorded for the happening Siesta Records label in Madrid. I was surprised when this second Scarlet's Well disc came out. I thought it was a one-off or a studio project that would pass. Fact is, I like this second disc more than the first one, and it has a neat cohesiveness and immediacy the first one lacked. All the songs have a nautical theme, with lyrics that are literate and intelligent, like those of the Would Be Goods whome he played with. One song "Clop's Birthday" has a tune that is so close to Billy Joel's "This Is My Life" that you have to laugh at it, though it somehow works just fine. This record really does sound like what I would envision a Monochrome Set record in the year 2000 to sound like. Bid has a female vocalist that sings some of the songs, just as David Gedge does in his post-Wedding Present band Cinerama, with whom Scarlet's Well also share a few similarities.
On the label run by their drummer DJ Downfall, who also drums for Marine Research and records techno under his own name as well. If you ever meet DJ, don't ask him is he's reissueing the first Girlfrendo 7" - he is tired of that question. His label Wiaiwya (Where It's At Is Where You Are) put out the very first Girlfrendo 7" as its first release, and it quickly sold out to never be repressed again (not quite sure why). Anyway, as for this record, it has 2 versions of a song Sportique wrote to honor the football (soccer to us) championships which have been going on recently. The sound is quite different than other Sportique singles. The lead vocal is distorted like its sung through a megaphone, and the backing vocals are like football chants. Both versions of the song are pretty similiar to me. I might not be glowing about the merits of this single, but if you are a Sportique fan you will (of course) want this as the songs appear nowhere else and the single will be gone for good once it dissappears from the racks of your favorite shop.