Archive | September 2011

soundCHECK 118 – September 29th 2011

By the time you read this, the revelry of this year’s fair and carnival will be a fading memory, a soggy mental memoir stored in a faraway engram of your brain, a stale fug that lingers in the Seven Brethren air. It will have been packed up in a mental box as ingenious as any of those engineering marvels activated by them cheery fairground folk that do all the clearing up. “Scream if you wanna put a ride in a box!”

Alas, all is not lost.

I’m not normally one for sentimentality. But the spirit surrounding Barnstaple Carnival rarely fails to engender in me a rousing sense of community. It’s like a hug for the heart. Sure, it’s no Notting Hill. But that’s not the point. It’s a beautiful thing to see local people coming out and showing support for a local event. And while the shocking weather might have threatened to flood the streets, it did nothing to dampen the spirits.

My enthusiasm for the carnival has never really waivered, even when faced with the sternest tests of endurance. One time, I went as a little boy and my excitableness moved one sweet girl to tears. I say excitableness, her salty cheeks were more the product of the two pence piece I had supportively thrown at the float she was parading on. It hit her right in the face. (I still feel bad about that.) Back in those days, taking part in the carnival was as much like running some twisted penny-hurling gauntlet as it was a celebration of local arts and culture.

Still, those days are over. I haven’t thrown money at girls and made them cry in years.

Yet while the streets may have cleared for another year, the festival spirit lives on – at least musically. Local indie film maker and blogger of the cultural underground Ryan Martin has released a compilation of some local music that was collected especially for this year’s carnival. And you can download it for free. For free!

The compilation has been handed the imaginative, if brow-furrowing, title ‘What A Planker’. Featured artists include some of the region’s best: Bundle Of Id, The Breaks Collective, Benji One Lung, Eaten By Sharks and Ill-Iteracy. There’s loads more too. It’s a sound reminder of the musical variety that resides in North Devon’s bedrooms, garages and rehearsal rooms. Go grab a copy at http://bit.ly/ofBeYv.

Are you the guardian of some salacious music news or gig gossip that you’d like to share? I’ll read anything. Hit me up at jharper@northdevonjournal.co.uk.

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soundCHECK 117 – September 22nd 2011

It would be nice to think that soundCHECK has become an open-minded, liberal-thinking kind of a music column. It’s certainly not about to take umbrage at Katy Perry’s sexual preferences. She kissed a girl. She liked it. It’s all good, Katy!

But the manner in which she sings about her pouty-lipped girl-on-girl action in her infectiously catchy dance floor smasher raises doubts as to her initial confidence. Listen to the words. There seems to be at least a modicum of uncertainty with which she approached her osculatory hi-jinks.

The same cannot be said for the gusto with which SevereZero’s Luke Bond has remixed the song, despite it being a similarly eyebrow-raising departure from the norm. Indeed, none of the hallmarks of SevereZero’s sound are present at all. It’s an electro-dubstep remix. And a romping, filthy belter of an electro-dubstep remix at that. Seriously.

Luke goes by the alias of SuperKaleider. And his remixing skills go way, way beyond the stock treatment of the amateur remixer: slap big drums and bass over everything. Oh no. This is much more refined. Luke has chopped up the vocals, added some beautifully crafted synth lines and cranked the wow dial right up to 11.

I was going to say that it’s of the ilk that would have pinchbeck, gap-toothed fairground DJs begging for a copy to blast out through their wonky PAs to help lure little children onto their rides. ‘Scream if you wanna go faster!’ But that would be to do SuperKaleider a gross disservice. It’s too good for that. Hell, this is primed for the sweaty dance floors of Ibiza!

I’m not joking. It’s supremely underrated and underlistened stuff. Fill your lugholes with his beats on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb9XsWKl1jM. If you like that, there’s a bunch of other stuff at listn.to/superkaleider. Turns out he’s been messing around with electronic music for years, the dark horse. What a dark horse! A dark horse with hands instead of hooves that are awesome at doing remixes.

Luke, as you will well know, is joined in SevereZero by a man on bass called Joe Brewer – who I swear must have his own private helium tank hook-up on stage judging by the vocal pitches he effortlessly soars to. Joe Brewer has a brother called Ben Brewer, and he does music too. And there’s proof because he’s just released a brand new EP with songs on it. Ben plays behind the moniker Benji One Lung and the new EP is called ‘Ben Dies At The End’. You can stream/download it at benjionelung.com.

Finally, and speaking of EP releases, a reminder that Spectres’ EP ‘Family’ is released on Monday (26th). You can read some of the deserved plaudits the former North Devonians have been attracting at www.wearespectres.tumblr.com, where you’ll be directed to words like “My Bloody Valentine ethic to their shoe gaze [sic]” and “Spectres are a band you should start collecting now!”, the latter a curious turn of phrase for encouraging the growth of new music.

No matter. Spectres are as sweet as the taste of cherry chapstick.