Category Archives: discovery

Elephant Micah Plays…KLF

ElephantMicah1High

Elephant Micah aka Joe O’Connell is an artist I was hugely excited to discover.  The multi-instrumentalist from Indiana writes and sings proper songs, the type that make you catch your breath, cry or smile wryly to yourself. Considerately and poetically penned and – although experimental in parts – they possess an old fashioned gravity.

As a musical entity Elephant Micah spans over a decade, from the debut LP Low Energy Dance Music in 2002 to the latest endeavour Globe Rush Progressions. Here Joe talks about an intriguing influence, notorious acid house pioneers The KLF and their classic album Chill Out, recorded live in 1989.

Elephant Micah

Elephant Micah Plays…KLF ‘Chill Out’

I was doing some free-form internet searching on “ambient music.”  I wanted to know what albums people consider to be part of the “ambient” canon.  A citation of the KLF caught my attention.  Is this the same 1990s pop group that set fire to a million pounds sterling?  My focus shifted entirely to the KLF—their ideas, their antics, and their music.  The group’s story continues to hold my attention.

Chill Out belongs to a tradition of club music for relaxation and repose, styled in contrast with dance music itself.  The KLF designates the sheep as Chill Out totem animal.  Sheep occupy the album cover, resting at pasture, and the early moments of the album audio, bleating in a call-and-response with their human shepherd.  In addition to appreciating this album as a work of sound collage (mixed live from mostly pre-recorded sources), I take interest in it as a kind of “techno pastoral”—an idealization of the countryside by electronic musicians.

Check it out the album here:

You can listen to Joe’s most recent Elephant Micah release ‘Globe Rush Progressions’ below, ‘Marie’s Hair’, ‘Ever Greener’ and the jingle bell tinkling ‘Jesus Christ’ are my personal highlights.

I’m also a huge fan of this collaboration with Hiss Golden Messenger

…and this track from 2012 release Louder Than Thou. If that’s not enough to make you buy the entire backcatalogue more fool you.

Quickbeam play…AC Acoustics

Glasgow quartet Quickbeam are a band I’ve followed for over a year now, after first seeing them play some stunning music – the dreamy ‘Seven Hundred Birds’ springs to mind – at a gig near Inverness. Describing themselves atmospheric/cinematic, their music is immersive, delicate and beautiful. They are on the cusp of releasing a beauty of a debut album, more on that below.

Guitarist and singer Andrew Thomson shares a musical treasure of his own, Scottish indie rock band AC Acoustics, for the Play a Song For Me archives.

Ac Acoustics

Quickbeam Play AC Acoustics – She Kills For Kicks 

There are many things that appeal to me about this track. I’m a sucker for its relentless simplicity and its unforgiving repetition of the vocal, string and drum phrases. There is also an overriding dark, almost ghostly atmospheric that is so apparent in a lot of their work. Its a track that I always feel should have been massive. AC Acoustics always had a reputation of being this incredibly unlucky band when it came to the music industry. Maybe so, but ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is a triumph as far as I’m concerned. It’s an anthem, albeit a dark one, but one that I often put on and never tire of. This is a band that I don’t want to be forgotten.

 I always admired Paul Campions lyrical style. It’s incredibly poetic, very often obscure and always flows beautifully. Equally it has a steam roller like unrelenting, unstoppable force that holds your ear and doesn’t let you turn away. ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is a great example of this. It just doesn’t stop, it wont allow it. Each verse joins with the previous through repetition of the last line which works perfectly.

 

For me, ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is the highlight of a wonderfully diverse and undoubtedly accomplished album. I always come back to this album and in particular this track. Although it is now around thirteen years old, and the band are long since split up, it still sounds so current. As does the whole album. Please come back AC Acoustics, for one last encore.

Quickbeam’s self titled album comes out on June 3rd, through Scottish label Comets and Cartwheels. Check out a sampler, new single ‘Immersed’ and  track I mentioned up there, ‘Seven Hundred Birds’.

For more visit the band here

Gareth Dickson Plays…Ned Collette

Let’s regale you with a tale music fans! I caught singer-songwriter Gareth Dickson at a recent Edinburgh house concert and was bowled over by the intricate, wistful worlds he conjured with his deft fingertips. An artist who demonstrates incredible skill, his songs have strikingly original compositions and are filled with intricate, mesmerising guitar work.

Here Gareth fills us in on an influence and friend, Australian singer-songwriter Ned Collette.

Gareth High Res

Gareth Dickson Plays…Ned Collette

I have chosen an Australian singer/songwriter called Ned Collette; you can start anywhere with him but if I had to pick a couple of tracks they would be Boulder and The Country With A Smile.

I met Ned in Australia when I was playing there in Vashti Bunyan‘s band. He and his girlfriend came up to me after the gig and we got talking. He told me he was a musician and was planning to come to Europe soon and we swapped email addresses.

For me it’s just great pop music, sometimes he reminds me a little of David Bowie, other times Leonard Cohen, but essentially he has his own voice. It’s usually catchy and melodic but there is always a depth to it as well.

True to his word he came to Europe and actually spent some time living in Glasgow. We met up a few times for a drink and he and his Ozzie pals are among the only people I’ve met who like beer more than Weegies do. I remember one of them in the kitchen at a party completely wasted with his mobile phone in an empty pint glass to act as a kind of bass boost for some awful techno he was dancing too. Hi-tech stuff. They have great phrases too, as anyone else who wasted a good part of their youth watching Neighbours and Home And Away already knows.

Find out more about Ned Collette here and check out a selection of Gareth’s music below! His live set is memorable, catch it if you can.

Crushing On: Dark Dark Dark

Dark Dark Dark

Like most music fans I listen to a lot of new things. Some of it’s understated, some of it’s try hard, some of it sounds like that band you loved ten years ago, some of it’s great, memorable or beautiful and of course ends up here.

Rarely does it happen that I love something new instantly. Yesterday I heard a song by Dark Dark Dark on the radio and it torpedoed right into me, demanding to be listened to. I’ve discovered they are from Minneapolis, have a massive following (oops, late to the party) and are also described as a ‘folk band’. For me the music goes much deeper, it quivers with an orchestral intensity that you don’t tend to encounter in the genre and proves the accordion is an excellent instrument. In terms of lyrics they clicked with me, I get the songs and the songs get me.

I’ve now listened to their entire back catalogue, which feels like journeying through a black and white gypsy circus. Check out album Who Needs Who below, hope you enjoy.

I like a lot of music but I love this.

Belgian Fog Plays…David Wise

Today is a day for discovering. More specifically new music from Seattle based Robert Dale, who recently started making music under the title of Belgian Fog.  His shimmering first track caught my attention and lead to a conversation about submitting something  and the lovingly fashioned picture below! Check it out…

Belgian Fog

Belgian Fog Plays…David Wise

This track, by David Wise, has become something of a cult ‘go-to’ song for nostalgic gamers. The medium these writers had to work with, in the early 90s, was constricting to say the least; composers trying desperately, often to comedic effect, to re-create orchestral instruments synthetically while adding an electronic element to it. But like many works of art, the limitations are often what help it become so emotionally endearing. Growing up playing the Donkey Kong Country games, even more than the visual element, the music brought me to another location emotionally with instrumentation that I’d never experienced.

It’s these types of things that creep into the social subconscious; a generation of SNES players who are now at the age where they are determining the popular and credible music of their era. I could see this track fitting easily onto any number of night-bus playlists of the current day – provided a low-octave pitch-shifted R&B vocal loop was added.

 

Being about as far from a gamer as possible there are elements of this that I really like; the dream like loops and chords and how it  pulls at the threads of memories, most likely from the ninenties.

Dale used to play in bands before seeking to use the instrumentation he found personally gratifying, thus solo project Belgian Fog was born.  In the rhythmic loops and samples of first track ‘Wait For Help’ you can hear parallels with Wise’s work, fused with a well worn drum beat, guitar with his mysterious vocal. An artist to keep an eye on.

For now listen to ‘Wait for Help’ right here.