Singles – May 2012
Singles... Real vinyl singles... The kind you can hold in your hands and lick and slobber over (if that’s your bag!) or just enjoy in a good ol’ fashioned kind of way…
Purson – ‘Rocking Horse (Rise Above Records)
The first time I heard Garbage’s ‘Queer’ I was captivated by it. It was very different, almost ethereal, and very, very clever indeed. Hearing ‘Rocking Horse’ for the first time gave me the same chill. An English four-piece, Purson have pulled together a retro Seventies’ vibe and come across as the soundtrack to a kitchen sink drama with an oppressive atmosphere and a dark, dark premise. Highly unique and almost impossible to categorise Purson’s only point of reference to my mind was Grace Slick’s solo album ‘Dreams’; it was only later that I read the biog that said “the ignorant will compare them to Jefferson Airplane”. Founder member Rosalie Cunningham is a singer of great talent, and if Purson keep delivering material like this they have a great future ahead of them. Slow and moody, dark and broody, ‘Rocking Horse’ sucks you in to its well of despair with the lyrical promise of a hope it never intends to deliver on – a bit like a fairytale with no happy ending. Plus it scores extra points for being the only song I know of which features an etch-a-sketch in the lyrics. B-side ‘Two’s And One’s’ offers more of the same, but loses points for rogue apostrophes and then regains them for the cracking guitar solo that plays the song out. Possibly the most intriguing nine minutes of the year so far.
Vanderbuyst – ‘Early Assaults’ (Ván Records)
‘Early Assaults’ is a collector’s dream. A red, single-sided three-tracker with an embossed B-side, the 12” single features the Willem Verbuyst, Jochem Jonkman and Barry van Esbroek’s first and only demo pressed to vinyl for the first time. According to Willem, “I believe we got together in the spring of 2008, and this demo was recorded in September that year. We decided that we didn’t want this as a do-it-yourself demo, recorded in a friend’s garage between the potatoes and a barking dog. So we chose to record it in a decent studio. We were already convinced that we were on a mission and had no time to waste with half-baked products. Some of the material was written during my travels in South East Asia, shortly after the break-up of my previous band Powervice. I was totally fed up with this rock ’n’ roll bullshit and I claimed I would never play in a band again,” he laughs. “What was I thinking?”
The demo was produced by Willem’s Powervice bandmate Selim Lemouchi, who after the band split formed The Devil’s Blood. “When we started Vanderbuyst and began working on the songs I realised that I had no idea what I was doing,” continues Willem. “All these years I’d been making music without a clue. So we asked Selim to help us out, and it was one of the most important things that happened to the band; we really needed his help. We’re both guitarists, but in Powervice he also took care of the bigger part of the production. As a leech I sucked as much information out of this guy as I could. I had already made some demos at home but Selim was as blunt as a kick in the shins and said they were bad. And he was right. He wanted to do them again and I had to argue and defend every little choice concerning the songs. That was one of the best musical lessons I ever had in my life and although on paper he only produced the demo his influence is still there.”
Of the three songs on offer, ‘Devil’s Pie’ is a mid-paced rocker and the story of a rising and falling star; ‘Filthy Love’ is a more up-tempo, almost Jaguar-esque romp and ‘December’ is a lovely bass-driven, NWOBHM infused number and a regular in the band’s live set for some time. “I’m really happy that [label manager] Sven convinced us to re-release the demo,” says Willem, “and in a typical Ván Records way too. Sven always keeps in mind that some people already have the original demo CD and since he doesn’t want to disappoint them he made a special (limited) edition with coloured vinyl, an etched B-side and a special carton sleeve. The songs, well, they sound even better now; Hell, they were made for vinyl!”
Year Of The Goat – ‘This Will Be Mine’ (Ván Records)
Another gloriously blood-red vinyl offering, this seven-incher is a taster for Year Of The Goat’s forthcoming album. In a short space of time this Swedish band have developed a very distinct and instantly recognisable sound and image, so if you know the ‘Lucem Ferre’ EP within a few bars of the A-side you’ll know exactly who this is.
‘This Will Be Mine’ is gorgeously retro in a twenty-first century kind of way, and could groove away quite happily in a trippy-hippy peace-and-light vein if the inference behind it wasn’t so dark. It’s a beautifully crafted and perfectly executed composition, but things are never quite what they seem with Year Of The Goat and familiarity with the song comes to reveal an inherent malevolence. Lyrically, says vocalist/guitarist Thomas Eriksson, “the inspiration for ‘This Will Be Mine’ is taken from the classic theme of God casting out Lucifer from Heaven down to Earth, though I take it from there and continue my ‘own’ mythology of Lucifer’s journey on Earth. He rapidly builds his empire, gathering enough power and might to have God’s lambs building him a throne over-bridging God's kingdom. He's about to overthrow God's place in Heaven but needs to do one final journey to find the last, and ultimate, goal that will make him the Almighty. And it’s this last journey that will be dealt with in the title track of the upcoming album ‘Angel's Necropolis’.” The flip is something quite different, a threatening, almost evil, largely instrumental piece called ‘Missa Niger’, “literally translating as ‘Black Mass’ in Latin,” adds Thomas helpfully. “It’s an instrumental track containing a magic invocation to Lucem Ferre, or Lucifer. As a song it’s meant to grab hold of your soul emotionally and at the same time put you in the right mood for a black mass.”
Taken as a pairing, the two songs are quite dissimilar. “Musically,” agrees guitarist Per Broddesson, “yes, these tracks are very different to each other, but the concept is recognisable from the EP, where we also had an instrumental (‘Lucem Ferre’), and you can instantly tell that it's Year Of The Goat – if you've heard us before, that is!”
A great taster for what is surely to be one of the year’s most interesting albums.
© John Tucker May 2012