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This is it!

I’m a little bit drunk, which, to be honest, I hope I would be after having undergone an entire month of being dry. It was a pleasant period of time, one where even the vaguest remnant of alcohol was banished from my very being. However, here I am, about to splurge uninhibited; the shackles have been cast and I have an overwhelming feeling to wax lyrical about the greatness of the following music which has recently come to my attention.

 

I’ve already shared this EP release numerous times on the book of face, but I must preach about its greatness once more. In particular, the track Equations For A Falling Body by Monobody. I can’t get this bloody track out of my head. It literally starts as if you’re falling down the stairs; not at the stage of even thinking about beginning to topple over whilst stood at the apex, no no no, but head over heels, bowled over but yet to hit the first step. Whilst your body is crumpling at the impact of your frightful staircase episode, take a moment to listen to the interplay of the instruments: the guitar’s cascading nature, the piano’s stabs, the phenomenal drumming. Everything about the first thirty seconds of this song makes me want to hyperventilate.

 

1.34, what’s the piano doing? Wait, it’s stopped (1.42); tell a lie, we carry on. A change of direction at 1.58, the bass drum accentuating the forceful rhythmic beat. Oh Christ, what’s going on from 2.43? Computer game antics at 2.52 to 2.54. It rises, and rises, and rises, and rises further. The drums roll, the delayed guitar kicks in; I begin to have tears in my eyes at 3.41, at which point ‘buh buh, buh buh, buh buh’ signifies the perfect crescendo (the guitar lovingly maintaining the same note whilst the piano/bass have other ideas). And…….BOOM! You’ve reached a perfect circle, the intro replays to close on a flourish. And that ladies and gentlemen, is why I love music so. Its construction can take you places that no other form of art really dares to. A controversial statement perhaps, but I’m a mere mortal so give me a break.

Well, I’ve exhausted myself on the above. Let’s carry on with the rest of the grand music to reach my lugs.

Bueno by Morphine. If there’s one out of many, many a reason to start watching The Sopranos, this could be a clincher (if you forget the supreme acting and masterful storytelling). But in all seriousness, this is a dirty track that deserves your attention, driven by the inescapable fact that a sliding blues riff coupled with an abrasive sax and low end crooning digs its claws deep into your consciousness. Who needs guitar anyway?

Moving swiftly on, we have the dreamy tones of Lonnie Liston Smith. I think I heard this in the delicious Piebury Corner.  It was a most welcome accompaniment to my jerk chicken and porter pie.

And finally, where would life be without some Bach? To close, the ever lovely, ever elegant counterpoint of Concerto For Two Violins in D Minor: Vivace.

I’m going to be hungover this morning……………enjoy!

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You hit it, I’ll stand by and admire.

Drumming. Is there anything more impressive than seeing someone play a ridiculous drum beat that leaves you gaping moronically and seething with jealousy? Guitar solos are obviously wondrous and arguably more expressive, but they are ten a penny. When a drum solo provoking absolute incredulity is witnessed (granted it is performed in small doses with instrumental breaks), a crowd reaction is usually much more exuberant. People will lose their shit at the sight of it; a person of supreme rhythmic abilities is usually a showstopper. I vividly remember, from the days in my teenage band, Beaver, how the Guernsey youth (and elders) would all marvel at our prodigal drummer, Spud, beautifully flailing his limbs as he soloed during a cover of Wipeout.

billy-cobhamSo, to the purpose of this blog:  I have the utmost admiration for drummers, keeping a group of musicians together with impeccable timing and inventive rhythms. Putting the party piece solos to one side, it is the seemingly endless variation of beats, the tonal quality captured on record or live, the ability to completely turn a chord sequence or melody on its head, the movement it provokes from your body. I put down my adulation down to two factors:

  1. I don’t have a natural affinity with numbers. Mathematics causes me stress; my brain fizzles out with a defeated whimper when presented with a numerical calculation of any sort. Transposed into musical abilities, it means that rhythmic dictation has always been a complete pain in the arse for me. It quite literally does not compute. And yes, I’m aware that it is essentially just counting, but I’d be grateful if you could stifle your sniggers more quietly please.
  2. I’ve tried playing drums and it’s bloody difficult. How often in your life do you perform a daily task which potentially requires the use of both arms and legs, moving at different times and speeds? Why is the control of one’s limbs so tough?

With all of this in mind, I will now highlight a few songs where the drums sing to me for different reasons.

If you aren’t already acquainted with the genuinely insane abilities of our man in the picture above, Mr. Billy Cobham, then now is the time to break that duck (lord knows how you’ve been all trying). Ever since I was a young’un, I have never truly gotten my head around the intro to the great Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Vital Transformation; it’s where my terrible counting skills fully come to light. Anyhow, The Inner Mounting Flame is a masterclass in drumming; an astonishing tour de force of musical reverie.

A band I religiously listened to in my university days, RX Bandits boast a top notch drummer. And with Tainted Wheat, found on their album …And The Battle Begun, we find a man at the top of his game. Swerving between high energy technicality (the entire intro essentially, with particular attention to the bass drum work between 0.12-0.15), a juicy hip hop-esque beat (0.23 onward) and rolling snippets (1.05-1.06 of the chorus), the recording of his kit on this album is, for want of a better word, fat. The cheesiness of the American vocals may be grating at times, but look past it if necessary for the excellent thumping.

First and foremost, Dave Grohl is a drummer. And with his contribution to Queens Of The Stone Age’s deservedly vaunted album Songs For The Deaf, he gave, in my humble opinion, one of the finest drumming performances ever for a studio recording. I’m getting excited just writing this! This album sounds MASSIVE, largely in part to how extraordinarily well the drums have been captured. And when you’ve found the secret formula to bringing down monumental structures with your recording techniques, you should probably bring in a drummer with awesome talent to bash the absolute crap out of the kit. I don’t need too tell you how great this album is, nor is it a surprise as to which track Monsieur Grohl shines like a blinding ball of fire, but if you’ve been living in a windowless room with no contact with the outside world for the past twenty years, then absorb the beauty of this spectacle immediately. Duh duh de duh duh duh at 3.45; at 5.31, you may orgasm.

Don’t forget the excellent live version from the 2002 Glastonbury Festival, which my friend Jack unfathomably slept through while laying on the grass.

For some reason, this beat always sticks in my mind. And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

I devoted an entire post to this Chicago group way back when, but it would be criminal for me not to mention Maps & Atlases when it comes to drummers. Just listen to 1.24-1.51 of Ted Zancha and hopefully you’ll see why I couldn’t leave this out.

To sign off, I’m going to super controversially leave you with music that most of the general population would abhor, but what do they know? Dan Foord, drummer of SikTH, does not operate on the same plateau as most mere mortals. His limbs know no bounds, his mind unlimited in what beats he can conjure, his double bass drum skills particularly phenomenal. For those that cannot stand to sit through this normally, I ask that you simply hone in on the astounding drumming.

Firstly, 2.51 until 3.30 of the Let The Transmitting Begin version of Hold My Finger.  The slowing of the snare and kick drum, followed by a subtle cymbal hit at 3.05-3.08; the return to a driving beat at 3.12; the lightning quick double bass blast at 3.16-17; the spine tingling roll of the kit between 3.20 and 3.22. It instills a sense of joy in me which I can’t fully define.

Secondly, Scent of The Obscene. Check the intro (up until 1.19) and then the glorious ending (3.57 onward). For a slower pacing, the middle section (1.51 to 3.25) demonstrates the breadth of talent on show here. Pretty sweet production too I might add.

Enjoy!

As a bonus passing note: A band frequently cited throughout my previous blogs, Battles have amongst their ranks a drummer who is almost certainly a human metronome. John Stanier’s playing is completely on point and devilishly accomplished, therefore I would always heartily suggest wrapping one’s ears around first album Mirrored for drumming bliss and the punchiest of bass drums. To my untrained ears, the beats seem so perfectly knitted to the other instruments that they could be programmed in for complete matching. Watching this man perform on a stage is one of life’s small pleasures.

 

 

 

 

Windy mcbindy

Ah Chicago, you have thrown up something great yet again. Aside from Maps & Atlases, and Billy O’Neal, we now have Monobody.

monobody

It’s nimble, tricksy, and bloody infectious. Peppered with little funk melodies, jazz interludes, and what could be Jazz From Hell outtakes; we have a winner.

Enjoy!