by Jimmy Possession -- Robots and Electronic Brains (UK)
June 18, 2001

Every month or so, Jimmy Possession -- proprietor of the UK-based zine Robots and Electronic Brains -- brings us up to date on the music that's found its way through his mail slot. And you get to read it. You lucky people.

The Atlantic Manor, The Hate We Get Going/ When I Am A Viking (Do Too) both CD

If GBV were less in every respect -- less rehearsed, less prolific, less proficient, less fast, less snappy -- then they might sound like The Atlantic Manor. That's not meant as a slight on TAM, just a way of plotting their co-ordinates on the indie/rock radar Do Too claim to be flying below. New York White Face is the pick from The Hate. It buries the vocal beneath a wannabee wall of fuzz and a rudimentary beat made up on the spot. There's no tune to speak of and no real dynamics, but it rocks. On When I Am A Viking, it's Breaking You In, a 3-minute 4-track Grandaddy cut bathed in home-recorded ambience and stretched out long past its natural length. "DIY Forever" it says on the sleeve. I'll second that.
R. Sell, 5013 SW 154 PL, Miami FL 33185, USA

Big Block 454, That's A Nice Hat CDR
Thanks, I bought it from Boots for 50p after Christmas. There's not much call for sun hats in the middle of winter, but 50p did seem cheap, even if I do look like an extra from Spike Island: The Movie now. Opener, I Name This Child Acker Bilk, seems not only unnecessarily unkind but also an experiment in primitive rhyme ("Warm water, cold milk, I name this child Acker Bilk") and chance-driven structure. BB454 stop, start and fade at will, a jumble of post-Beefheart mishaps, they arrive at a conclusion somehow but along the way trip from odd jazz to overloaded guitar and shouting with uncommon ease. Cheap Kojak are kindred spirits as you'll find out if their EP on Pickled Egg ever materialises.

Various, Kilo Charlie 4 (Fu Man Chaw) CD
Lo-fi electronics are preferable to hi-fi for two reasons. First, the glitch element is upped by low technology. Second, the lesser the equipment, the greater the inventiveness required. Any fool can push the ZaiN-ee button on the latest auto-sequencer and churn out 28 varieties of drum'n'bass'u'like but when you're working the 4-track and the Atari VCS, you've got to box clever. The cleverest on this collection (which also includes a few disposable heroes of indie-cency) are Line 47 and their excellent hyperspace beats in the Mu-Ziq style, Whitetrash Shaolin and their Wisdom and Whiskey and Dharma where highly tentative, almost apologetic, rapping sits in ridiculously under-produced backing with a crew full of tailor's dummies shouting "ho" in the background, no doubt; rusuDen's splicing of a dozen electro records into one huge mash up and On Tap's drumming on table tops, railings and old saucepans at the Burundi-hip hop interface.

Gnac/Smooth Operator, split single (Octane Grammophon) 7"
Gnac's tunes usually swirl slowly, morph into new shapes, split and reabsorb like an oil on water projection. In The Bumpy Air is no different; easy listening for people with stylish loft apartments, a soft-focus deconstruction of the muses of Stereolab. Smooth Operator are as graceful and stylish as Gnac, but Alaska is less oil-on-water and more moods in a hot air balloon. Unusual, yes, but an intriguing and gentle drift punctuated by bursts of flame static, sunset after love-lost keyboards and more drift.
Torikatu 1 b 28, 53100, L-Ranta, Finland

Frankie Machine, 54th & 3rd (Artists Against Success) 7"
If you had suffered in the pursuit of amour, if your heart had been rent in two, if the very life had been sucked from your soul, if you had ever lain by the telephone into the early hours willing it to ring, if you have ever been so emotionally decrepit that you'd cried when Postman Pat found a stray kitten.. If. If so then you'd still be several floors up from the desperation basement where Francis Machine is strumming his guitar and struggling to get his half-whispered words out between choked-back sobs.

The Monsoon Bassoon/ Max Tundra, split (Weird Neighbourhood) 7"
The Bassoon cover Tundra's Life In A Lift Shaft like the Cardiacs after a year-long diet of Too Pure's early catalogue - a strange but highly digestible blend of lounge tunes and slash'n'crash weirdy guitar bits. Tundra covers The Bassoon's Commando by turning into a one-man cinematic recycler. Hammer Horror, Keystone Cops, Barbarella and more are forced into the sampler, mangled and spat out in a rapid-fire burst of chaotic noise. If you could dance to this you'd be a rubber octopus - with excellent taste.
PO Box 7279, London, E5 8XQ

Fish From Tahiti, Greendyke Viaduct (Sorted) 7"
7" vinyl is outdated, gramophone style 7"singles are outdated, gramophone style 7"singles in a faux-50s EMI style are very outdated, gramophone style 7"singles in a faux-50s EMI style featuring a beatbox last used in anger by The Age of Chance are HAPPENING AND NOW! On Planet Robots, anyway. Greendyke Viaduct and Industrial Floss are the furthest-out of Fish From Tahiti's recent singles - just a loop and a twisted burp (Floss) or the sound of a mouse being squashed (Viaduct) - but I'm mesmerised by that drum machine, it sounds like it might grow up one day and become Beat Dis.
PO Box 5922, Leicester, LE1 6YG

Khan, No Comprendo (Matador) CD
Fuck Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. Fuck Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Fuck Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Fuck The Travelling Wilburys and fuck any end-of-charity event rock millionaire singalong. For all sorts of reasons, but mostly because celebrity bunk-ups are as desirable as going down on a skunk with personal hygiene problems. Khan doesn't share this point of view, understand this and so ropes in Jon Spencer, Julee Cruise, Hanin Elias (of Atari Teenage Riot) and others to come up with words for his instrumental tracks. Spencer turns in a couple of electrobilly paranoia numbers, Julee Cruise settles somewhere between easy listening and torch song and Hanin Elias crawls out of the beatbox underground as a straight Peaches.

You can now listen to Jimmy's radio shows (archived) online!

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