Archive | February 2015

soundCHECK 288 – February 26th 2015

Insight. Intelligence. Humour. There are a lot of things soundCHECK lacks. But grim predictability is not among them. Week in, week out you can bet your mother’s molars that music of an electronic persuasion is sure to be roundly shunned by yours truly. Yep, it’s local bands and singer-songwriters that fill these column inches and that, dear reader, is very much that.

Except it’s not. Because what have we here? Why! It’s a plump little news-goose carrying a message for those who prefer beats and bleeps to strums and drums. Those who favour sub-bass and faders over converse and blazers. Go-all-nighters instead of hold-up-your-lighters.

To grab the semantic scalpel and cut to the chase, Krafty Kuts is coming to Barnstaple.

It’s fair to say Krafty Kuts – nom de guerre for Martin Reeves – is kind of a big deal: an internationally renowned breaks producer and DJ whose debut album was championed by Fatboy Slim and released by Ministry Of Sound offshoot FSUK. He has performed alongside The Prodigy, collaborated with Jurassic 5 and won a string of Best DJ awards (2004, 2005, 2006) courtesy of public voting platform Breakspoll.

The gig takes place at The Factory in Barnstaple on Saturday 14th March as part of the launch party for Komplex Events, a new North Devon promotions outfit. Komplex’s manifesto goes a little bit like this: 1) bring top DJs and producers in the electronic music scene down to North Devon; 2) showcase local DJs and producers from North Devon.

“Komplex was launched by a group of local guys with the aim of improving North Devon’s nightlife and musical entertainment,” enthuses Komplex founder Chris Dixon. “Throughout our teenage years we found ourselves constantly complaining that big acts never came down to our little shire – and that the local nightlife of just playing UK Top 40 on repeat at the clubs was not enough. Even though there is a strong DJ presence in the area offering different music styles, most of the big local clubs don’t want to know.”

Support on the night comes from a crop of regional DJs: WamJam, Julie-Anne, Carva T and Chrissy Funk (that’s Dixon’s stage name). At the time of writing, a few tickets are still available. Bag yours for a tenner from undergroundtickets.net or Beatsworkin’ in Barnstaple.

CONTACT: Got local music news? Come on then, I don’t bite: jharper[at]northdevonjournal.co.uk | @testforpulse

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soundCHECK 287 – February 19th 2015

Back in 2010, before the internet and cartoons, a band called Spectres said their goodbyes to Barnstaple and trundled up the M5 for their adopted city: capital of pirate farmers, Bristol. This weekend the four-piece reprise their formative days with a homecoming gig at Golden Lion Tap on Saturday (21st February).

“It’s five years to the day of our first ever show, also in Barnstaple. I hope we’ve improved a bit since that car crash.”

That’s Joe Hatt, doing those words: Spectres frontman and – for everyone born in the right decade – ex-Fen Tigers vocalist. He’s responsible for webbing Spectres’ howling guitars and thunderous rhythm section (Joy Division on amphetamines) with whisper-soft vocal melodies that are as eerie as your weird substitute teacher from primary school.

“It’s going to be nice and nostalgic. Barnstaple definitely helped shape us into what we are today so it will be great to relive some memories.”

That was Hatt again. You can tell by the speech marks.

It’s a moon-sized clichéd to say that things have changed for Spectres since they left. I’m saying it anyway, because it’s entirely justified. They have honed a sound where deft melody dukes it out with dissonant, discordant flashes of delay-soaked feedback – engineered at teeth-rattling volume. (Sounds terrible on paper, sounds thrilling in reality.) In an instant they can zip from gossamer-light guitar riff to the sound of a freight train grinding to a halt.

But the biggest change for Spectres? They’ve signed to a label renowned for spotting new talent: Sonic Cathedral.

“Nat [boss man of Sonic Cathedral] got a copy of our Hunger EP and asked us to tour support the Mexican psych band Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, which was super fun,” explains Joe on the social psychology of getting your band signed. “He came to a couple of the gigs and we started a slow simmering flirtation that resulted in him finally giving in.”

Spectres’ homecoming is part of a UK tour to promote debut album Dying, released on Monday (23rd February). BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne reckons “it’s not music for sissies” and national music press (NME, Q Magazine, Uncut et al) have heaped praise on the North Devoners.

“I think we almost laugh about it really as when we were recording the record we were thinking there is no way that anyone is going to want to listen to this, so the radio thing is especially weird. We’re proud that we’ve never used a PR company or anything to get us reviews etc too; it’s more rewarding when we get things on merit.”

Far be it from me to dictate your weekend plans – mine are mostly spent sat in my pants weeping into an empty Pot Noodle while listening to Enya – but I highly recommend you catch Spectres at Golden Lion Tap this Saturday (prep peeper and lughole at www.wearespectres.com). Support comes from musically mind-splattering Bristolians The Naturals (soundcloud.com/t-h-e-n-a-t-u-r-a-l-s) and local outfit TripToTori (soundcloud.com/triptotori-1) – the best line-up Barnstaple has seen in a long while. Doors 8:30pm, entry £4.

“It would be great to come back to a thriving music scene and friendly faces,” reckons Hatt. “I’d also be slightly disappointed if we weren’t heckled.”

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: jharper[at]northdevonjournal.co.uk | @testforpulse