Album reviews: The Scaramanga Six, OK Pal, Dead Modern, Deutsche Elektronische Musik 2
The Scaramanga Six - Worthless Music
Having been mainstays of the Yorkshire music scene for more than 20 years, this Leeds-based quartet may have a familiar sound to them.
The band are driven by brothers Steven and Paul Morricone, the latter a filmmaker by trade and aptly, the cinematic feel of the band’s videos is carried across into their music.
Loud and shouty music may be in vogue in the shape of Idles et al and the Scaramangas have never been shy to turn up the volume, but so are complex, shifting rhythms (Black Midi etc), and the band have been covering all areas of the musical spectrum across their ten-album career.
Here their sound is more direct than previously - opener ‘Big Ideas’ driven along by chugging bass and Gareth Champion’s pounding beats before careering into one of their trademark soaring choruses.
Other highlights in the bumper 14 tracks include ‘An Error Occurred’, its full-on in-yer-face punk rock breaking down into what may well be a harpsichord solo, while ‘Kate and Cindy’ is similarly urgent with its stabs of organ and Julia Arne’s meandering guitar lines built for the alternative radio airwaves.
However, there’s no-one else making music quite like the epic mutant prog of ‘It Is The Face Wish How’ - but it’s surely just a matter of time before everyone else catches up.
Various OK Pal Artists - Prancing Queen Vol. 2.
It may be that previous lockdown projects have resulted in more home studio setups, so when cross-UK collective OK Pal set its team the task of recording a song in a weekend, a dozen acts put together a very impressive album.
Among the all-killer set are Storm The Palace – who wrote an entire opera for a previous release but instead provide 3 minutes of fuzzy, singalong indie pop, while Virgin of the Birds’ effort is a rather lovely, contemplative piece in the Leonard Cohen ballpark.
The usually downbeat Meursault somehow gets a full-on band together for a raucous workout that wouldn’t be out of place in 90s Seattle, while Faith Elliot’s closing ‘Sadie’ is a fragile, melodic track that perhaps best captures the home-made ethos. In all, an experiment that really pays off.
Various Artists - Deutsche Elektronische Musik 2
Kraftwerk are rightly regarded as the pioneers of German electronic music.
However, a host of unsung acts are now neatly credited in this sprawling collection.
There’s the odd familiar name – Can had a UK top 10 single in the mid-1970s, and ‘Halleluwah’ has an audibly funky beat, while honorary Berliner Brian Eno teams up with Harmonia (aka influential Berlin-formed duo Cluster) for some alien soundtracks.
Other names of note include Amon Düül II, who flit between classical and videogame, while Popul Vuh’s contribution is almost pastoral, contrasting with the almost post-punk DAF.
Neu! - whose Michael Rother was an early member of Kraftwerk - may typify most the genre’s motorik beats but it’s Faust – an act as at home with arc welders and concrete mixers as synthesizers – whose ‘Krautrock’ aptly concludes an entertaining, educational set.
Dead Modern - Still Cool EP
Self-confessed nostalgia buffs, this Glasgow band have plenty of experience to draw on for inspiration.
Formed from a variety of local acts including There Will Be Fireworks, they have enlisted Mogwai producer Andy Miller for this EP, which runs to around 20 minutes.
‘True North’ sees the band revisit old haunts – “same old blue jeans, same old pipe dreams” a poignant, trumpet-starred trip back in time.
While that opening track evokes the Blue Nile, ‘Still Cool’ revisits the same themes of nostalgia but a high-energy beat, as if the band had did indeed “pack our jobs in (and) move to Berlin”.
‘Feeling Fine’ seems to delve back even further, wonderful 80s synths and “taking the long walk home”. Who says nostalgia’s not what it used to be?