Death is not so easily defeated…

web_Alasdair_Roberts_02_by_Kim_Ayres (1)I’ve had these recordings knocking around for a while but not got round to doing anything with them…

I think it’s fair to say you really have to be in the right mood to appreciate Alasdair Roberts’ piercing, disconsolate folk forms, which may well be the unconscious reason why I’ve not really explored these recordings until now. We saw him supporting Bill Callahan in the cavernous spaces of Bristol’s St George’s. Now, Callahan’s getting a certain amount of love at the moment, not least because he appears to have “cheered up” a bit. Reviews of Dream River frequently cite Callahan’s apparent contentment (somebody even referred to him being “lucky in love”). Well, if this is true, I’m not sure I really want to look too deeply into Alasdair Roberts’ particular well of loneliness…

Alasdair Roberts

Having said that, once you’ve taken the step, there’s something irresistible about the man’s earthy songs – they shimmer and flicker like something half-buried in someplace rather unpleasant. I referred to his charms as being “Presbyterian” in the Bill Callahan post, and that being the case you might have expected him to have shone a little more brightly in the transcendent surroundings of St George’s in all its austere glory. But actually, Roberts seemed uncomfortable and didn’t make much of a connection with the Callahan-hungry audience. The recordings I made are marred slightly by the sounds of uninterested punters wandering off to the bar.

The poor wretch’s musings continue to fascinate this particular punter, though, and for once I was happy to listen to a good half hour of one man and his guitar – no banjo, no Jews’ harp, no loop pedal, just one player unremitting, strident, charmed…

Fair Flower of Northumberland

Farewell Sorrow

Don’t you ever, ever forget it…

Witching-Waves-Pic-VPME-600x433Don’t seem to be getting much time for new stuff, these days. But these guys seem worthy of a mention…

Witching Waves

Probably time to get something crude and trashy going on these pages.

And Witching Waves, an abrasive, bored-sounding two piece currently gigging around London, fit the bill pretty well. Emma Wigham and Mark Jasper are a drums/guitar combo with no apparent use for the spineless subtleties of keyboard or bass (or, if the videos are representative, even cymbals) but they can certainly club out a tune with some guts.

There’s a formless attraction to hearing someone bashing a series of trebly, finger-shredding chords out of an electric guitar. And nine times out of ten, it still makes me stop what I’m doing and start that dumb head-nodding thing you do at gigs.

Not a lot of biog information around about Witching Waves (I’m OK with that too…), but they do have Tumblr, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp pages where you can listen to various demos and previous releases. They are also apparently in the process of releasing “Concrete / Chain of Command”, an ultra-rare, wilfully obscure 100-only cassette single (which you can also download, thankfully) on Scottish label Soft Power Records. Have a listen and tell me you didn’t drift off at some point and start nodding gormlessly with me…

Ayahuasca!

downloadBeen looking around for something modern I liked from Latin America. There’s a few western-sounding bands around, all sounding pretty good but not exactly Latin. Here’s something though…

Anarkia Tropikal

Anarchy Tropical are a Chilean band of ne’er-do-wells, who, if the YouTube clips are anything to go by, seem to be having an immoderate amount of fun arsing around with punk and Chicha rhythms. Wheedling farfisa sounds and impossibly brittle Chicha guitars, wind themselves around off-beats and loping Cumbia bass lines, wrapped in by the all-encompassing rhythms of what looks to me like a man playing a cheese-grater but which is of course the merengue staple rhythm instrument, the guiro (as any fule know…)

Listen to the crazed, high spirits of “Ayahuasca”, and you’ll get an idea of how exciting a mixture it is:

This track appears to be free to download from their SoundCloud page along with the whole of 2013’s “La Verganza de los Brujos”, an album chockfull of witches, wah-wah and Cumbia zombies. It must be a helluva experience seeing this lot on stage. I’ve seen them billed as “anarcho-cumbia” and once you’ve seen the clips, it’s hard to argue with that…

 

 

Oh go on! Here’s another – their tribute to the Mirlos: