Tag Archives: rock

Inga Liljeström – Black Crow Jane

June is the first, official month of winter in Australia, but it’s been damn cold at night for quite a number of weeks. While I’m not yet at the stage where I need to re-think my negative position on the Snuggie, hearing about the release of a new album by Inga Liljeström was welcome news indeed – I’ll take her smouldering ember-like voice to warm my nights over a blanket with sleeves any time.

I’m sure everyone has felt that mix of excitement and reserve when a favoured artist releases something new, particularly when – after three years of keeping record – one of their previous albums remains the most played out of my entire collection. Elk is a breathlessly good album, pretty much perfectly capturing in sound the fire and ice sensation of love, desire, intimacy and everything in between.

By comparison, it’s fair to say that Black Crow Jane is a little older, wiser and more incisive than any of its predecessors. It’s also more resolved, even if at times the subject matter is slightly less so, and perhaps surprisingly, it doesn’t have the slightest hint of becoming jaded in the process. Love is still sacred in this world; and if Elk was about moments that sear the heart, Black Crow Jane shows that those experiences can make if fierce, but don’t stop it from having the capacity to remain quietly and beautifully vulnerable at times.

Jazz and blues were always a noticable undercurrent to Inga’s unique, film noir blend of trip-hop, rock and folk; whereas before they highlighted moments of yearning, mourning and wonder, on this album it’s soulful, sultry and sharply seductive. The sheer and intimate nature of previous work made albums like Elk incredibly bold, despite their vulnerability. This album is no less intimate or bold, but there’s a definite shift in where and how such things are shown. This time around, sound-wise, the comparisons to both Björk and PJ Harvey (which is not uncommon when it comes to talking about any strong female artist, particularly if their work contains the slightest hint of electronica and/or rock) are not far off the mark; Black Crow Jane has elements akin to the brash, bluesy-rock honesty of Harvey, as well as the playful, curious and occasionally delicately blissful charm of Björk, but (of course) is unmistakably Inga Liljeström.

The entire album can be streamed online via SoundCloud, and purchased in Australia via Groovescooter. It’s also available from France’s Emergence Music, with Euro distribution.

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S4E


Jonathan Meiburg – Why I Love My Home

(Songs for Charles Burchfield)

This is a fairly appropriate post for today, as, in other news, I have (finally!) acquired a new home and will be going through the whole moving process again over the next week, which – as much as I hate moving – is more of a relief than I can possibly convey.

That aside, I spotted this release on Bandcamp last week, and considering the various other Meiburg-associated releases – Buteo Buteo, The Golden Archipelago (Shearwater) and the s/t Blue Water White Death albums from last year – were all amongst my favourite albums of 2010, I couldn’t resist the lure of these two tracks.

Charles Burchfield, just for those who haven’t heard the name before (myself included, but I’ve been doing a little research), was an American artist born in 1893 (d. 1967). I didn’t know that I was already familiar with a few of his pieces prior to looking them up recently, so I have to say I love that music can lead to these other discoveries because the work I recognised have been pieces I’ve happened upon over time and thought were just beautiful. There’s been many more, though, that I haven’t seen before at all, and I’m truly enamoured with quite a number of them. Here is just one example of the wonderful art Charles Burchfield produced:

The following is an excerpt of the words on Bandcamp by Jonathan Meiburg in regards to the songs on this release:

I was invited to perform at the opening of the Whitney Museum’s exhibit “Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield” last year. I’d never heard of Burchfield before, but loved the whimsy, darkness, and grandeur of his giant watercolors, and wrote this pair of songs as an attempt to evoke some of his paintings in sound, since Burchfield often tried to depict sounds in his paintings. 

Whimsy, darkness and grandeur are all things Jonathan Meiburg and co. seem to have a strong command on, and the result is something that actually feels a little at the mid-point of Shearwater and Blue Water White Death. The second track – The Moth and The Milky Way – reminding me occasionally of Song For The Greater Jihad, the lead single from Blue Water White Death. Each song is based on specific paintings, though, with the first track – Hymn To The Valences – based on Two Ravines and The Song of The Telegraph, while the second is based on The Sphinx and The Milky Way (pictured).

Meanwhile, Shearwater recently performed a 3-hour concert featuring tracks from The Island Arc (i.e. the albums Palo Santo, Rook and The Golden Archipelago). Now there’s a performance I would have done just about anything to attend, had it been within the realm of possibility. Ten tracks from that performance have been made available on Bandcamp as well, and while I haven’t grabbed them yet, I certainly will be soon.

Both releases are available via the same Bandcamp profile, but you can click here for Why I Love My Home, or click here for The Island Arc Live.

S4E


April’s Swag – Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

April's Swag - bite-sized, but very tempting (and even a bit delicious)

Once again, there’s been so much going on this month that I’ve spared little time to dig up the best bits from the nether regions of the internet. Lucky for us both, I don’t have to look very far to find something worth bringing to your attention – to recap those I already have:

After that, I suggest sinking your teeth into these:

Heinali and Matt Finney – Plainsong
Shoegaze/Drone/Ambient | 15MB – 320 kbps MP3
You may have caught the recent Conjoined review over at [sic], if not, this duo blend heavy shoegaze-drone a la The Angelic Process/Nadja, with spoken word vocals. These guys have got quite a few things in store for this year, with another album set for release later this spring on Paradigms Recordings titled Ain’t No Night – keep your eyes and ears out for more info soon, as there’s some seriously good stuff going on with that. Currently available for free download on Bandcamp right now is their take on The Cure’s Plainsong and Radiohead’s Creep. To top it off, from May 1st, Dreamcatcher – a half-hour soundtrack over two movements (Lucifer 1 and Panopticon), which recently accompanied a photo exhibit – will go up as a ‘name your price’ download, with all funds raised going towards financing another album later this year; some very absorbing work all-round.

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Wild Dogs In Winter – Homba*
Post Rock/Ambient | 120MB – 320 kbps MP3s
Released last year but only just recently brought to my attention, this nicely done 10-track album has more than enough weight to grab – and keep – the attention of Blueneck, I Like Trains, Our Ceasing Voice and Her Name Is Calla fans. Available on Bandcamp as a digital download (or purchase the CD).

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Sleepy Sun – Marina
Psych/Stoner Rock | 14MB – 320 kbps MP3
If you know me, you know I can’t get enough of these guys and their particularly sparkling blend of hazy psych/stoner rock. To celebrate their upcoming US tour, Sleepy Sun have made a live version of the single Marina available for free download, which you can grab here.

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Other Lives – For 12
Folk/Rock | 6MB 192 kbps MP3
It was nice to see this new track go up on RCRD LBL the other day, as I’m quite fond of Other Lives’ self-titled debut. (Not so nice to see RCRD LBL decide to go the same direction as Daytrotter and disallow direct downloads without registering for a user account – they better not introduce a poorly functioning, site-specific “download manager”). Slightly more old-school psych-folk in this track, but very nice indeed – grab it here.

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NeTE – Greatest Non-Hits 1 LP
Industrial/Gothic/Lo-Fi – 73MB 128 kbps MP3s
Some of you may remember my Australian music special from a while back, and briefly mentioning I couldn’t recall any Australian goth bands I was into during the 90’s. Well, while I was trying to jog my memory, I happened upon a site called Shame File Music – a label dedicated to experimental Australian music. Long story slightly shorter, I grabbed this collection of tracks, and while I can’t say I heard them back then, I can say there’s some stuff here worthy of a listen now. Grab them from Internet Archive.

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S4E

*These are available as ‘name your price’ downloads. For Bandcamp releases, you are able to enter any amount, including $0. For Mamaleek’s Kurdaitcha, voluntary donations (via PayPal) to support the artists can be made through the Enemies List download page linked above. As always, though I know times are tough, I encourage sparing a few bucks where and when you can to support the artists making the music you enjoy.


Holydrug Couple – Ancient Land

This was one of those chance discoveries – the kind you make when you don’t have anything better to do that look up a random music site and listen to the first thing that catches your eye. Lucky for me, I have a pretty good eye. Well, some of the time, anyway, which only makes discoveries like this all the more sweet.

Hailing from Santiago, Chile, Holydrug Couple have chosen an apt name for themselves, because this 3-track release is rather addictive, and I spent almost an hour on google the other day trying to find anything else they may have released (to little avail, I’ll just add, though demo versions of the first two tracks, recorded in 2009, are available to download on Homemade Lo-Fi Psychedelic). The following quote comes from the same post on HLFP, where the duo (Ives Sepulveda and Manuel Parra) speak about their influences:

…sixties garage rock, progressive rock, the sixties counterculture in general (hippies, Vietnam war…), psychedelic bands, Acid rock, krautrock too, and LSD and psylocibine of course, ahhh, and some Chilean psychedelic bands form the sixties like Los Jaivas, Los Blops or Los Vidrios Quebrados, they’re very important.”

Personally, I’m completely clueless about everything after krautrock, but those I am familiar with are detectable in one form or another, giving Holydrug Couple the potential to fill any gaps you might find in between your favourite psych artists – or, indeed, create new space entirely.

The title track, Ancient Land, is a 10-minute number that is clearly intended to be something of a journey, taken in three distinct stages. It starts in some fairly familiar territory, at least to those (like me) who are fans of the dazey psych stylings of Sleepy Sun and Brightblack Morning Light, then suitably drifts into an instrumental section that seems designed for just relaxing in with the sound itself, which reminded me in some ways of Spirtualized. The track winds down for the last three minutes in ambient drone territory with some ‘spooky hollow‘ twilight  forest sounds.

The second track, Now, is a more straightforward psych jam which has a slightly glazed feel to it, and I’d lean more towards a laid-back The Black Angels for a comparison (Young Men Dead sprang to mind). Rounding out the EP is Mountaintop. It leans a little more toward dream pop and shoegaze with a definite 60’s flavour to it.

References aside, Holydrug Couple – for the main part – take a slightly more pop and blues direction with their psych, and give it an overall trance-like aesthetic without actually laying it on too thickly – the songs are generally energised but retain a sedative quality.

The Ancient Land EP is currently available in both standard and limited vinyl editions via Sacred Bones Records. You can also purchase it digitally at a variety of outlets, including iTunes, Amazon and Other Music. Once again, I was only able to use Boomkat

 

S4E

 

1. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Boomkat for Win7 users if other options are available, primarily because of who knows what they do when they compress  files, once unzipped they’re not fully compatible with Windows 7. They do play fine, but they don’t have any data in the ID tags other than filename, and the tags can’t be edited. At all. They don’t even have track durations, all of which drives me up the wall. I must have correct data! So, each time I’ve purchased an album via Boomkat, I’ve had to convert the MP3s to… MP3s. 😐 Not only that, but I have to lower the bitrate from 320 kbps to 224 so that the converted MP3s don’t continually click when played. It’s actually quite lame.


Interview: Helena Thompson from Purest Spiritual Pigs

Recently, I introduced S4E readers to Purest Spiritual Pigs, a collective of artists involved in a number of audio / visual projects and spearheaded by Helena Thompson. While I previously concentrated on the music side of things with the darkly seething album Body Misses, with such a vast array of contributing artists and projects to its credit, I definitely thought it was worth investigating a little further into the world of PSP.

Helena was kind enough to grant S4E the following  interview so that I could learn more about how the project came about, where it’s going and everything in between.

Helena Thompson : Photo by Jaime Carrera

S4E: Can you tell us a bit about your background, when you first started playing music and what (or who) inspired you to become involved in music?

Helena: I began really listening to music as early as the age of 5. It would take me to another place and, at times, would help me to fully feel where I was. I’d find a song that I really liked and play the record over and over, singing and sometimes acting it out. It was something I did alone. The school I went to as a kid didn’t have music classes and nobody in my family played an instrument, so it took a long time for me to realize that I could actually make music myself. I started to see it as a possibility around the age of 14. I bumbled my way around trying to understand music and different instruments. I started out thinking I’d play guitar, but became more interested in drumming. I didn’t really start performing until I was about 20. I was doing a solo thing called One Human. I’d play all these different instruments and sing. I used visuals too (projections, props etc.).

S4E: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote – what was it about and do you ever still play it?

Helena: I was 15 when I wrote it. It was a bit new wave, and about not getting what I wanted out of a relationship, so saying, well piss off then. Believe, me you wouldn’t really want to hear it now.

S4E: How have your experiences with other projects (such as Her Majesty The Baby*) affected the way you work now?

Helena: Spending several years in different bands helped me to understand different ways of composing and helped me hone my skills as a drummer. Now, when I begin writing a new song for Purest Spiritual Pigs, more often than not, I start from the drums up, then add melody. I think writing that way has an influence on the outcome of the sound.

S4E: On Body Misses, you take on a variety of roles, including vocals and percussion, do you favor any one in particular, and are there any other instruments you’d like to learn / master?

Helena: Drums are my obsession and I’ll always work at furthering my skills as a drummer. Singing is very satisfying to me. It’s very cathartic. I’m still discovering what I can do with my voice. I don’t feel like I have a single voice. I feel more like the song content manifests it’s own voice. As far as my guitar and bass playing, it’s more of a tool for me to write. I don’t consider myself a bassist or guitarist by any means, and often use effects on them to turn them into something different. On Blood-let, I put the bass on my lap and played it with a stick. I’ll continue to mess around with them, but when it comes to playing them with any depth, I’d rather leave it to the other “pigs” that have more to offer. As far as wanting to learn or master any other instruments, there’s always an intrigue, but I’ve had to ignore it, because I’ve learned that spreading myself too thin makes it hard to complete any one thing.

S4E: I’m intrigued by the concept of different voices. Do you find that each voice is unique and distinct from song to song, or are there certain voices that you recognise reappearing for other songs?

Helena: In the beginning stages of writing the vocals melodies, it’s more stream of conciousness. Once I really start to structure the song, then I may fine tune the vocals. To answer your question, I do think there are ways that I express myself vocally that will reappear from song to song, but it does feel pretty unconcious. It usually begins with a melody in my head, either triggered by a thought, if I’m out roaming around, or triggered by something I’m musically working on in the studio. I’ll start singing it out loud, and that’s when the tones and inflections appear. As that forms, the character of voice will manifest. At one point, when I was practicing the vocal part to record DAMN, I felt like I was a singer in a gospel choir.  I had no idea where it came from.  That’s not in my background.  I even questioned if I should go with it or not, but then, I thought “screw it“, that’s what’s coming out, let it go. Looking back, it made sense that the vocal turned out like that. I began writing DAMN while riding alone on my bicycle across the US, through the Cascade mountains in washington. It’s about being overwhelmed by the natural beauty there.

S4E: Where did the name for Purest Spiritual Pigs come from?

Helena: About 15 years ago I was having a conversation with Dorothy (Wang). She was talking about someone and said, “they think they’re the purest spiritual beings”. Initially, I thought she said purest spiritual pigs. I filed that one away. I decided to use it for this project because it has no specific meaning. It vaguely lends itself to many interpretations. It makes me think of a few different things: one being the hypocrisy that exsists in religion, another, the idea that a pig could actually be more evolved than a human.

S4E: PSP encompasses a variety of artistic disciplines, can you tell us a bit about the other projects PSP has been involved with?

Helena: In addition to music, I’m very interested in visual, performing and conceptual art. I started Purest Spiritual Pigs as a means to explore all of them. Back in 2007, we worked on a performance titled SHREDS, In Shreds, I gave one to two minute pieces of music, to a group of choreographers. The music came from remnants of PSP songs. Just the same as a tailor has bits and pieces of fabric left over when making a suit, I had remnants of music. The choreographers then created work to the “shreds” of music and performed them in a theater. I’m also working on a sound intervention titled FOR PEOPLE NOT ON PHONES. The first installation of it took place in Providence, RI.  The process is to record the sounds of a public environment, take them back to the studio, turn them into soundtracks and discreetly place the soundtracks back into their original locations (via a playback device). The volume is set very low, and audible only to those who are present in their environment and not distracted by their gadgets. It’s my response to the oblivion created by the use of portable technology, i.e. cell phones etc. The plan is to do this in multiple cities around the country and eventually in other countries.

S4E: What does a full-blown PSP show involve?

Helena: The show we’re working on right now involves some of the different genres that PSP works in. It will bring in: live performance of the songs from Body Misses (performed by me and Natasha Hassett), the second installment of SHREDS (which in addition to choreography will involve video as well), improvised soundtrack to video, and some performance art.

S4E: Do you have any pre-show rituals to prepare yourself for going on stage?

Helena: It depends, usually some drum rudiments and vocal exercises. I like to do something that’s physically exhausting too, if I can, like run around the block, or do a bunch of pull-ups. That helps take the edge off the adrenaline.

Photo by Jaime Carrera

S4E: Does the visual side of PSP play an important role in the music, and / or do they inspire one another?

Helena: It really depends on the piece.  Sometimes the visual aspect can be more of a textual backdrop. Other times it can be an improvisational tool, like the piece that Dorothy, Anita (Bowen) and I did in San Francisco at Black and Blue Tattoo. I took Anita’s photos, blended them with some of my video, and Dorothy and I played a live improvised soundtrack to the video. I’ve also started working with Sarah (Gordon) to work some choreography into my own performance. In this case, the visual of my movement would be used to fuse the audience with the content of the song.

S4E: The bio mentions that ultimately, the goal is to amass many artists with which to collaborate, how did that idea develop?

Helena: I wanted to have a project that I could work on all the time, no matter what. This project enables me to collaborate with other artists and work alone. I love both, and this makes it possible.

S4E: What would you say are the main benefits as well as drawbacks (if any) for working with different artists on different songs?

Helena: I love the new energy that comes with working with multiple artists. You never run out of fuel to feed the fire.  There are lots of great artists that for different reasons, usually financial, don’t have the means to get a lot of their work out there. I love being able to expose that. I also learn a lot working with different people. As far as drawbacks, In terms of music, the only thing that could potentially be a drawback is the songs all sounding like different bands. I’ve tried to counter that by inviting artists who have some common threads. I also think that vocals are the first thing that most people recognize, so I’ve made it a point to be the main vocalist. On Shenti (Body Misses) N.G. (Yrizarry) does a back up vocal in the intro and from the last chorus on. I love what he does and wanted to have him even more present on the song, but I think at least at this point, I need to keep that consistency. I’ve also done that with the drums. I do all the drumming on the CDs.

S4E: Do the ideas – for songs or otherwise – develop first, or do you find someone to collaborate with and let things evolve from there?

Helena: On Body Misses, Lenny (Gonzalez) and I wrote UNSTEADY and YOU INSPIRE ME. I’d sent him a drum file, he’d mash it up into a sample, or work up some magic on his guitar, I’d stamp it with some vocals and send it back, he’d chew it up a bit, spit it back, I’d mess with the structure, he’d mess with the structure and eventually we had two songs. That was the first time I wrote any of this material with anyone else. It was great. I love working with Lenny. He’s a brilliant artist. I know I can always trust what he’s going to do. With the other material on Body Misses, I had already written the songs.  Dorothy, Natasha (Hassett), N.G., and Cody (Bourdot) added their parts later. The next album will have more collaborative song writing. I’ve written with both Dorothy and N.G. in former bands and have been working with Natasha on live stuff.  They’re all strongly creative, so I’m looking forward to writing with them too.

S4E: Is there anyone in particular you would really like to work with given the chance, and / or do you have a concept (musical or otherwise) you’d like to bring to fruition if you found the right artist?

Helena: Why, do you have an in? If so, the list is going to get very long. Any members of: Neubauten, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Legendary Pink Dots, Skinny Puppy, Swans, Patti Smith, Type O Negative, Marianne Faithfull, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Echo And The Bunnymen, Psychic TV. That’s just a few and doesn’t even include the visual performing and conceptual artists.

S4E: Do you have a favourite cover song to play live?

Helena: As of yet, PSP hasn’t done any covers. I’ve been thinking about it though.

S4E: PSP is descibed as being on the dark side of rock, and lyrically Body Misses takes a look at some dark subject matter, is it a conscious decision to highlight those sort of things?

Helena: It’s more that those are things that make me want to write. To a large degree it’s a therapeutic outlet. I tend to write about things that really move me emotionally.

S4E: Do you think women in rock have anything left to prove?

Helena: I definitely think that women have proven to be just as competent in this arena. I think the numbers are imbalanced, but I see that as a societal problem, not a matter of there not being able women. The mainsteam media doesn’t like to see pretty women spilling their guts and thrashing about stage. They want them to pose like models and sex kittens. The media has a lot of impact on what boys and girls grow up like. As an 11 year old, I was lucky enough to have caught one of the few moments in mainstream media where they portrayed a woman as something other than a toy. I happened to see Patti Smith on Saturday Night Live doing songs from Horses. I know that had a huge effect on the way I was able to eventually perceive myself.

S4E: You mentioned Patti Smith, who is noted for poetry and visual art as well as music, as someone you’d like to work with; would that be in any particular capacity?

Helena: Any capacity, I’m more familiar with her literature and music. Thus far, I’ve done all of the lyrical writing in PSP, but I’d love to see what would come out of me singing words that she wrote. Or doubling up on vocals on a song. I guess I could break my own rule about being the main voice if she wanted to sing with me.

S4E: Can you tell us anything about what the future might hold for PSP?

Helena: To be the largest band ever! But seriously…  Ideally I’d like to work with a record company and or distributor.  I’ve been doing all aspects of releasing this CD and the last EP.  Although it’s an interesting process, I’d much rather leave that to the professionals, so I can focus on new material. In addition, now that Natasha and I are starting to play songs live, that will open the doors for touring.  European’s seem to be responding well to this project, so I’d like to bring it there as well.

S4E: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know, about yourself, PSP or otherwise?

Helena: Because of the scope of Purest Spiritual Pigs and all the people involved, sometimes it’s difficult to give a thorough idea of every artist’s contribution. I’d like to be clear that although I direct the thrust of this project, that it is the way it is, because of every collaborator. I’ve asked them to work in this project because I love what they do and I know that what they will contribute will make this a better thing. You can find detailed information about the other “pigs” on the Purest Spiritual Pigs web site and on the liner notes of the CDs.

On that note, S4E extends particular kudos to the following artists who contributed to the album Body Misses, linked to respective websites where available. Find out more about all artists involved in various aspects of PSP here. You can also check out a number of performance videos here.

Lenny Gonzalez • Umberto Crenca • Dorothy Wang • Natasha Hassett
Cody BourdotN.G. Yrizarry • Susan Clausen

I’d also like to thank Helena Thompson for granting this interview and taking the time to give such extensive insight to her work with PSP and beyond.

The album Body Misses can be purchased on CD or in digital format at:

CDBaby
iTunes

S4E

All images are used by kind permission and are subject to ©

*Her Majesty The Baby were a popular San Francisco rock band in the 90’s. They worked with producer Lenny Kaye (former guitarist of The Patti Smith Group), played SXSW, SF Battle OF The Bands and opened for several major acts such as PJ Harvey, Fugazi, The Pixies, and Throwing Muses.


Purest Spiritual Pigs – Body Misses

 

Allow me a moment to put you in a different place of the world…

In one of the darker corners in the heart of this little city I call home,  there used to be a nifty little club. To get there, you generally had to run the gauntlet down a street well known for being the centre of bubbling nightlife. Lined with myriad clubs thumping generic beats and  guarded by bouncers who, if they lowered themselves enough to look at you twice, it was only so that they could look away again. You’d have to make it past the ‘gentlemen’ who felt a wolf whistle and a slurred “oy! come-o’er-ere” was a charming enough pick-up line and became indignant when informed it wasn’t; break through the walls of girls locked in arms, trying to hold up drunken friends with one elbow and down their skirts with the other so that they could stagger to the next club and – presumably – maintain an air of dignity about the proceedings. Finally, you’d have to hurdle the odd character that wouldn’t so much mind about their public image and simply flash you a polite smile before diving into the bin next to you to look for discarded cigarette butts to smoke. A quick exit stage left and you would arrive at The Proscenium – sanctuary!

That’s a bit of a history lesson; here’s a little etymology.

The proscenium is the arch that separates the stage from the auditorium (thus, also commonly known as the proscenium arch). The word itself has Latin / Greek origins, and in simplest terms referred to an entrance. The Proscenium that was the club couldn’t have been more aptly named. It was indeed something of a line, an encompassing arc and a threshold for a variety of sub-cultures. It was a dark, smoky place with velvet lounges in one corner, steel columns punctuating the dancefloor and a variety of gadgetry, gizmos and toys peppered elsewhere. In the dividing line between performer and audience, few social lines existed and the goths, ravers, punks and forbears of modern hipster culture all danced to the same music – music just like Purset Spiritual Pigs create.

I’ll start with the basics… PSP is a music project that encompasses a variety of artistic disciplines. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to concentrate on the musical side of things here and now; more specifically, the album Body Misses. The album itself is partly collaborative – six of the album’s eleven tracks feature the talents of a variety of contributors, while the remaining five are the solo work of Minneapolis resident Helena Thompson.

Having a variety of resources, insight and creativity to draw from,  Body Misses dabbles in a similarly vast array of ideas and styles, from punk to post-punk, rock, industrial, grunge and new wave. Occasionally infused with subtle touches of other influences, like the tribal percussion heard on Blood-Let, you might think it all sounds like a bit of a haphazard mixed bag. Rather than being a case of “too many cooks”, though, what’s on offer is a cohesive body of work that by no means misses its mark. PSP very much bring danceable rock to the arena, with a dark, gothic and industrial edge. For an immediate visual and musical reference, think The Crow having a little tryst with Run Lola Run.

At the forefront and tying it all together is the somewhat diffident and occasionally deadpan delivery of the vocals by Helena Thompson. Oh, and I don’t mean the shy version of diffidence, either. While musically exploring a variety of genres and concepts, the perspective is consummately maintained lyrically and vocally. There is a an air of reserved disenchantment within the world view of Purest Spiritual Pigs, one seeming to be well-earned and perhaps the end-result of a few battle wounds.

At the start, I mentioned a “different” place, but that city street is the kind of place that exists in prominence the world over. I always thought it was strange that the place I liked – my world – was the subset to that, it was the darker place, a swept-away secret on the fringes of society. I get the impression PSP knows both of these worlds quite well. If not, they certainly are fluent in their respective languages, with subject matter on Body Misses delving into the corners of them both. There are a number of dark stories here from behind the curtains; stories that speak of the kind of stagnancy that exists in these worlds and the frustrations that result. There is also an underlying awareness and implication that it isn’t all there is, that these windows will have their blinds pulled at any moment – which might not necessarily be up, either.  Purest Spiritual Pigs seem well aware that sometimes the darker corners are the ones you need to move out from, other times they’re hiding the better alternatives.

You can look, listen to and learn more about Purest Spritual Pigs in the following places:

PSP Website
MySpace

You can also buy Body Misses in CD or digital format:
CD Universe
CD Baby

 S4E


Cavalier Rose

Along with a few other recent updates, I thought it was about time I made a more consistent effort to post recommendations. So I’ve implemented a new music category to suit the purpose – I’ve certainly no shortage of artists I think the world should know about already.

First cab off the ranks is a band I’ve been meaning to mention for a while –

Cavalier Rose


I first heard these guys back in January, after Daytrotter posted this session, which was some pretty damn good, straight up blues rock. Somewhat similar to bands like The Dead Weather, but whereas – to me – TDW, (and despite some of their subject matter) feel a little to cleanly produced and bland, Cavalier Rose have got the edge with a slightly dirtier, pub rock undertone; which sounds authentic even with the recorded demos and Primary Colours EP. Great voice, great sound – quality stuff more than worth the effort to click a few links to check out. 😉

As well as the Daytrotter session, all their music is currently available to download for free via the band’s website (note, however, the Donate button – show your support for independent artists and send some bucks so they can keep making awesome music).

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