Sunday, July 20, 2008

Public Image Ltd - flowers of romance (1981)

Public Image Ltd's fusion is one of the most huge in the post-punk canon.

We find African percussion/ Middle-Eastern litanies/ horror electronics ("Four Enclosed Walls"), atonal folk set on irregular rhythms and acid Eastern strings ("Track 8"), horror mantras/ exotic funereal percussion/ hallucinogenic atmosphere/ Arabic psalmody ("Phenagen"), subliminal fear/ voodoo drums/ Eastern invocations/ accordion cadence ("Flowers Of Romance"), African rituals/ tape manipulation/ oriental dance ("Under The House"), symphonic march ("Hymie's Him"), drone dance-punk ("Banging The Door"), catastrophic funk on amphetamines played by a free-jazz band ("Francis Massacre").

And all underlined by Lydon's lyrics, a sort of manifesto for post-industrial alienation. Essential.

EDIT: Dead link because of complaints to Rapidshare.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fra Lippo Lippi - in silence (1981)

Yet another facet of the dark-punk sound was exhibited by Norway's Fra Lippo Lippi. The usual characteristics are there: bass-prominence, cold atmospheres and tribal drums. But Fra Lippo Lippi's sound runs deeper than that. Their songs seem as if they come out of a catacomb, out of some alternate Middle-Ages dimension.

"In Silence" is built around a delicate melody carried by the bass and drums, while the guitar diffracts through mirror melodies of it's own, chanting vocals appear here and there in the background - as if to express the menace that plagues the medieval land, while the singer's ghostly baritone enhances the cursed surroundings.

"Recession" goes even deeper, 4 minutes of bass-heavy morbid monotony, slow besetting ritualistic drums and faint vocals, for an elegiac melody to finally appear through doom-laden synthesizers (as if a spectral presence is taking over), only for the song to end as it began with it's minimalistic cold-wave patterns.

"The Inside Veil" goes for a very effective slow/ fast dynamic and contrasting feel between the anaemic and the epic; "I Know" goes for a symphonic coda, and in "Quiet" a humble synth line underlines the singer's feeble cry.

Without a doubt, the album reaches it's apex with "Lost", that starts as a cosmic black hole, then tribal drums kick in and the dark priest chants his ritual, the medium vortex appears courtesy of the choral vox, sub-symphonic keyboards and ecstatic guitar, only for the ceremony to end without a logical conclusion, just everything fading quietly in the brooding horizon.

Get it here. Ta Nexd.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ugly Casanova - sharpen your teeth (2002)

This is a project by Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), Brian Deck and Tim Rutili (both from Califone), Paul Jenkins (Black Heart Procession) and John Orth (Holopaw). It feels like a post-modern study of American music by an autistic robot, and elegantly quotes from different genres and time-lines, as in the folk/ blues/ electronica "Barnacles", the post-industrial blues/ gospel "Spilled Milk Factory", the ghostly hallucination "Pacifico", the acid/ country/ folk/ electronica "Smoke Like Ribbons" etc.

In the meantime, the anthemic melody of "Parasites" has a childish feel to it (in contrast with the epic horns in the background), the restless manic funk/ blues "Ice on the Sheets" remembers Pere Ubu, "Beesting" recalls Syd Barrett, while "Hotcha Girls" is a tranquil folk lullaby. This is more than a series of experiments. The album never feels artificial, never loses it's sense of purpose. An amazing work.

Get it here.