Drowner – E.P. (shoegaze/ dream pop)

Listen hard, listen through the surface textures of Drowner’s debut release, and you will find a lot of the music is punchy and kinetic: that’s not how it presents itself, however, because they are punching through a big fluffy pillow of sonic goose down. This is music that is as much about its textures as anything else, and its textures are big, soft, spacious and enveloping. At times there are potentially harsh distortions, but they pass through abrasion into white noise, to flow over and through you like the sea.

Simon Little – The Knowledge Of Things To Come (solo bass/ ambient)

Simon Little’s EP Rejectamenta, ostensibly composed of material rejected for inclusion on this album, was an interesting recording in its own right, and implied certain promises about the creative direction in which Little might be moving. I’m glad to say, he’s as good as his word. Before I even start to address the compositional and artistic aspects of The Knowledge Of Things To Come, it’s very pleasing to hear an audible development in Simon Little the bass player. There is a sense of maturity about his melodic improvisation…

Galapagos Now! – The Beards Of London (garage/ roots rock)

Lyrics slam meanings across one another in collisions of imagery that are sometimes poetic and profound, but always imbued with acid sarcasm and sour humour. Galapagos Now! are not all about the words however: the arrangements of their songs take on the shapes of their meanings, borrowing vocabulary from garage rock, jazz, folk and other sources. There is an unhinged quality to proceedings, and an anarchic unpredictability that constantly rewards the attentive listener (while probably confusing the hell out of the inattentive).

Monday Musings: Technique and Creativity

There are some really skilled musicians around with very little to say: there are also some players with a very rudimentary technique who are able to stretch it into work of huge creative ambition. There are many more whose artistic strategies are too dependent on their technical aptitude to permit them to range very widely, or to produce much variety throughout their career, and on the other hand, there are those whose artistic vision outstrips their technical capacity to realise it.

Heavy Ethics – Rhubarb (jazz/ fusion/ prog)

It says prog up there at the top, and that’s both a nod to the band’s self-identifications, and because this music is decidedly progressive, although, to be honest, if you’re looking for something that sounds like archetypal prog-rock this will probably sound like jazz to you. It has dissonances aplenty, and frequently hazy tonality, although it is never quite atonal, but for all Heavy Ethics’ avant-garde tendencies, these elements are contextualised by the vocabulary, and tend to read (to my ear at least) in the same way as the dense chromaticism of…

Tiny Dragons – You Need To Relax (funk/ rock)

I’m just going to make a list. Imaginative arrangements, sonically creative production, intelligent songwriting, tight, propulsive playing, and a powerful, expressive, cleverly phrased vocal delivery. Rocking out and bringing the funk in equal measure, Tiny Dragons use a vocabulary that is very long established (an equivalent would be Jimi Hendrix borrowing the phraseology of early Duke Ellington), but they imbue it with a fresh-faced exuberance. They make these stylistic devices sound new, possibly because they are pretty new to them.