Generous of lyric, Jehovah’s Witness

Nearly October, and doesn’t Summer seem a long time ago?

(After some thought, I’ve decided to break with tradition completely – in fact I’m establishing a whole new tradition. No more starting posts with abject apologies about how long it’s been since I last posted. It’s dull, right? And I was always taught not to apologise if you don’t mean it. So from now on, I’m going to start each post with some sort of trite platitude, quite possibly about the weather, or with a commonplace but penetrating observation about the absurdity of modern life. It’ll be fine…)

So, doesn’t Summer seem a while ago?

Last time I posted, I was licking my metaphorical lips about the prospect of the first festival for a while. Well, Sea Change came and went and was rather jolly. Saw some bands, enjoyed some good company, drunk some beer and made some recordings. Pretty much what the doctor ordered and all very nice.

Drinking and chatting aside, the main draw for the weekend was the chance to see a genuine legend.

Damo Suzuki, Sea Change

You’ll of course know that Damo Suzuki was the exceptional and idiosyncratic vocalist of great (and getting greater) German band, Can, singing in English, German, Japanese and at times an indeterminate other tongue. Leaving the band after Future Days, he spent ten years doing, erm, other stuff before returning to music ten years later. Similar to the (scarcely believable) time Arthur Lee turned up at Gloucester Guild Hall, another fairy-tale figure gracing a West Country stage was something I wouldn’t want to have missed.

Sea Change was rather fine – a couple of lovely little venues and one larger one, a crowded but friendly Totnes and a series of charming sets that made for a lovely warm and companionable weekend.

Actually, the whole “gracing a West Country stage” thing started somewhat less than auspiciously. This apparently was the first year that Sea Change had brought in an out-of-town stage, “a short bus ride” away in Dartmouth, I would imagine in order to put on one or two slightly larger acts. In the event, the large marquee tent that was promised failed to materialise (burnt down, I was told) and the stage stood shivering and alone in a field as the predictable festival rain set in. To a soft-as-shite middle aged chump, it felt like all the Green Mans I’d ever been to.

Fortunately, a large wine tent was available for shelter, and by the time Damo came on, I felt sufficiently fortified to venture out and see what the old eccentric had to offer. And it was quite eccentric…

Coming on stage without addressing a fair crowd of robust, wine-soaked punters, he started less than promisingly with a series of gruff inarticulate noises that sounded a bit like Louis Armstrong doing that Tibetan throat singing.

Looks were exchanged…

Fortunately, his band, redoubtable Japanese noise artists Bo Ningen, started to come in at about the 3 or 4 minute mark and as a discernible jig began to unfold, the whole performance began to take shape and make a little more sense. I frankly didn’t know what to make of Damo but as Bo Ningen started to strike up the whole thing began to sparkle. By the end, the whole spectacle had become thrillingly hypnotic.

If Damo Suzuki is a bit of a one, Bo Ningen were also a pretty thorny bunch. They provided Damo with sheets and pulses of impermeable sound, behind and beneath him, but at the same time brought enough of a Can-ish groove to the performance for one or two adventurous souls to start moving at the front of the stage. They were an enthralling and shaggy bunch to watch as well, with bassist Taigen Kawabe particularly hard to tear your eyes from, both spidery and weirdly erotic at the same time.

(It wasn’t until I was back in the winey fug of the beer tent that another punter referred to these weird, genderless creatures in the masculine. I’d kind of thought they were all women. To be fair, this… This is certainly the Twenty First Century…)

After one forty minute song, an exhausted Damo brought the performance to an end, saying that there’d be an intermission but they they’d be back soon. The second number was pretty much the same as the first and, the spell having been broken, we wondered happily back off to the car. Damo had been fun, but Bo Ningen had been astonishing and as I clambered back into a friend’s Beetle, I left feeling more than a little Bo-curious… (I thang you…)

This is a family Blog, so I’ll spare you the whole performance, but I think you might manage 13 minutes or so, no?

Damo Suzuki & Bo Ningen, Sea Change

Corre el río al mar

Ah.

That thing’s happened again.

That thing where I scuttle around, earn a few pennies and generally take care of business and, bugger me, after a bit I find that the thing I like doing most, and do actually take some pride in, I’ve not actually been doing. The annoying thing is, I’ve genuinely got some good things to write about. Saw some fine stuff at Sea Change and had a generally swell time, brought a load of great records recently and overall have listened to a lot of top music (Oh, and rediscovered a shoe-in for my still nebulous All-Time Top Ten… Rock Bottom, as you’re asking… what a gorgeously unconventional and languid affair it is…)

So anyway, something else.

Tsunamis

Tsunamis are a band from Santiago, Chile that I’d not heard of until very recently, who’ve just released their fifth record, Trans Express Sudamericane, the first coming out in the early 2000s. By your fifth record, universally established conventions require you to have mellowed a little and found your groove somewhat. This appears not to have been accepted in the more psyche-y barrios of Santiago (or maybe they were positively feral back in the day…) as this is a pretty noisy affair, all trashy guitars, X-Ray-Spex saxophones and over-eager tub-thumping.

Actually, I know they were pretty out-there, back in the day… (I think this is the same band, although, I gather there have been some changes – I can’t see the blond-haired guy in the second clip…)

 

And all in Spanish too! I’m totally there…

Well, sort of…

I’ve stumbled through this review of TES in Sonidos Ocultos, over-reaching my uncomplicated Spanish somewhat, and to be honest I’m not a whole lot wiser – feels a bit like picking your way through a Paul Morley NME piece circa 1980 in moon language (or indeed English) – but I have gleaned a couple of things from it.

  1. Goli Gaete, singer and guitarist, reckons Chile has taken over from Argentina as the vanguard of popular and underground music (cue a Scooby Doo-style “uh?” at this point)
  2. Sonidos Ocultos reckon Tsunamis are “Nuevo-nuevo-nuevo canción” – for those of us with only the passing-est of acquaintances with the original Nueva Canción, I’m guessing this is the equivalent of post-postpunk (or maybe they’re just really, really, really new songs…)
  3. And this might do it for you, Tsunamis are on BYM records, the home of the only other Chilean band you’ve heard of – the colossal Follakzoid. It’s a stand-up reference.

Best songs on the record are the loopy “Patina en Agua” and the sweaty garage punk of “Corre El Río”, a performance of which I’ll finish off with here…