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Tag Archives: Rolo Tomassi

Everything eventually moves south

As I approach the ripe old age of thirty years on this planet, tiny molecules of doubt have started to fester in my psyche. They jostle around, largely ignored, but slowly come to the fore with each day that passes; the fear that I have begun my descent into middle age-dom, my musical tastes irreversibly damaged.

I suspect most young people hold this fear, the unknown date of when your brain becomes chemically unbalanced and you decide that tucking your t-shirt into your jeans is not only better looking, but wholly practical. The day that you decide you should wear hiking boots for every social occasion, rather than just when climbing a mountain. The day when you’d rather listen to the Archers than Gilles Peterson. In my case, deciding that early Rolo Tomassi is just a little bit over the top (what was I thinking in my younger days, my word!) and wouldn’t I rather listen to some placating Joe Bonnamassa?

Two events have recently spiked my self awareness of decrepitude. First off, I had the enjoyable experience of seeing my friend’s band, Mt. Wolf, play a set of their highly polished, superlunary music at Oslo this week. It was very much a ‘cool’ event, having appeared in Time Out as one of the week’s must see gigs. Now, I’m not saying I even belonged there in the first place (though I can’t remember a time when my street credit was this unbelievably high), but it did make me wonder at what point would I no longer fit into the crowd of fashionable youths.

The second event was the purchase of Theo Croker’s latest album, Escape Velocity. Upon sampling the sounds of Croker’s new release, I instantly had the uneasy feeling of whether this was on the cusp of funky lounge jazz………even writing ‘funky lounge jazz’ has just sent an unpleasant shiver down my spine. The kind of music that you inoffensively tap your foot to, enjoying the sensation of nothing breaking any boundaries.

Having listened to the album for an entire week, I have come to the conclusion that this is the right side of generic; a happy mover with a subtle gritty production. It sits back in the groove with interesting and brain imprinting melodies, encompassing electronica and world music, not fading into flavourless mush that I imagine horrible jazz funk would.

Not every track is a winner (It’s Gonna Be Alright is irksome) and some insipid elements creep in, but tunes Transcend (0.32-1.04), This Could Be (1.04-1.35), In Orbit (1.35-2.05), The Right Time (2.35-3.11) and Love From The Sun (6.00-6.30) really are bloody excellent. Unfortunately, I could only source the above album sampler, but I would recommend with no hesitations buying this album for a proper play through.

Perhaps no one will agree with my view of this album and I really have descended into my forties far too early. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.

Enjoy!

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Twiddlydee and Tweedledum

Come the 18th of August, I will be watching a reunited Fall Of Troy supported by an evolving Rolo Tomassi. For the latter, they just haven’t been the same since the two Joesphs left, ……but that’s a different discussion point for another day.

Completing the bill, and first up on the night, is a wee Yankee outfit by the name of Chon. Now, this band have got me thinking, and I mean really thinking. Anyone who has the unfortunate pleasure of being acquainted with myself, or who might have ascertained from posts on this scruffy blog, will be aware that I am rather partial to a slice of mathy goodness. And when I say ‘partial’, I actually mean it’s in my veins. Have I said that before on here? Strangest sense of deja vu there.

chon

Anyhow, Chon fall into this category. They are four supremely talented musicians creating three minute expert chunks of wholesome music. It stops, it starts; intricate passages pass by with a flutter; incredibly focused drumming is accentuated by each carefully selected bass note. I should bloody love this! And I do…….to an extent. The problem is, taking into consideration my naturally pessimistic attitude and the quartet’s American sunshine vibe, is that it’s all a bit twee. And twiddly. The Twee Twiddlers if you will.

Fall, taken from the band’s first full length release Grow, is my favourite track: the production is excellent, each instrument resonating with ample room to breathe; the tone of the guitars is a magnificent blend of nasal cleanliness and softened, compressed overdrive. Get to 0.49 and it really kicks in. The end may tail off a little with some arbitrary synth, but who cares! This is it, keep it coming!

And so, the gentlemen oblige accordingly. Grow is completely laden with inspired fretwork, lightning fast legato and understated bass backed by metronomic beats. And in doing this, it all becomes a little formulaic. How is it that a group can produce music where you have no idea what to expect with every passing second, but it all sounds very familiar at the same time? Maybe this is an unfair criticism. I listen to this genre of music incessantly but, for some reason, I cannot help but feel I knew a twiddly guitar line was fast approaching with Chon in a predictable manner. This is not something I normally think.

My esteemed Colombian pal (and tub thumper in our band) has gone as far to say it reminds of him elevator music. This is quite harsh, so I’ll take his opinion with pinch of salt. Quite honestly, if I heard this music in a lift, my ears would be pricked. However, I can ever so slightly see what he means, in terms of muddling along with slightly nauseating melodies.

Right, enough. I feel like I’ve talked myself into a stupor, when really I should just enjoy it for the sheer fun of great musicians playing compositions like this, regardless of the mood. And if you heard the riff at 0.58 from Perfect Pillow in a lift or trying on your next pair of black slip-ons from Clarks, then you are a lucky person. Because it’s a goodun.

Enjoy!

Sorry, what was that?

Quick fire blogs, huzzah!

For some, a tune that you can’t remember after one listen isn’t worth its salt. If you can’t even hum something after five listens, it could send a minority of people into a full-blooded rage. There are songs that you can’t work out after even twenty listens………and I bloody love it when that is the case.

Coming to a living room near you soon.

Coming to a living room near you soon.

Two parts ex-Rolo Tomassi (an absolute favourite of mine in their original form; guitarist Joseph Nicholson, a mind bendingly brilliant musician, and the abundantly talented bassist Joseph Thorpe), one part ex-Antares (guitarist Calvin Rhodes) and completed by Ryan Bright on drums, Body Hound are not in the business to repeat anything. Each song must contain nigh on 1500 riffs. This may seem like a bad and overly pretentious ideal, but there is none of that here. It plays with your brain and ears, giving you absolutely no inclination as to where the hell the tune might take you next, working to great effect in building mini math prog epics that exude energy and heavy intricacies. And the drums somehow follow all this woven stringed madness note for note! How?!

Two tracks in particular stand out – Systems firstly, with its plectrum scrapes to high stabs at 0.30; the brilliant break down from 0.59 onwards; the tricky rhythm from 1.34; the lightning quick guitar run followed by cascading drums from 2.28; the chord work til the end. As you might have ascertained, I think rather highly of this tune. The second highlight, Perseus Arm, has thee very nicest intro I’ve heard for a math tune in a long time. I’ll leave it at that.

 

Cast aside all preconceptions and damning thoughts, have a go. The band’s EP is available for download on Bandcamp at whatever price you choose (be kind).

Enjoy!

Inducing spasmodic dancing

Now and again, music can turn you into a raving looney, especially when it is of the overdriven and thrashier variety. These songs hit that particular spot for me. I can’t be responsible for my actions.

Crazy-dance

We Versus The Shark open the proceedings with Hello Blood, a track of raw energy straight from the American garage, complemented by fantastic drumming.

The godfathers of math rock Don Caballero throw up the stupendously heavy instrumental Chief Sitting Duck, a song of breakdowns interspersed with blaring distortion, tricky riffs and punchy bass drums.

A tragic case of the ‘one decent album before fading into obscurity’ syndrome, Let’s Get Sandy (Big Problem) by Be Your Own Pet is a fifty-nine second punk romp from a fantastic album.

A band that will always split opinions but remain (in their original lineup) a love of my life, Rolo Tomassi have created in Beatrotter the perfect mix of genres, pandemonium and technique. The intro is absolutely bonkers, leading to a heavy breakdown that descends into a clever jazzy section with prominent synthesizer. Following this, a jarring tapped guitar riff plays call and response, joined by a huge sliding bass line and repeated snare hits. For me, this is close to perfection in terms of putting together a million ideas and creating one coherent song. It requires a good few listens to fathom what happened, but it is well worth anyone’s time.