Elaenia (Luaka Bop)
Manchester lad Sam Shepherd, with this marvelous set of compositions, has created an almost unclassifiable new sound in modern music. Exaggeration aside, “Elaenia” with its impressive sonic palette and mood intensifying flights, is the kind of music that tickles synapse and hip alike. Shepherd uses mostly vintage synthesizers like the Buchia series, Oberheim and ARP Odyssey, but before you can say “hipster on a tear” the music has infected you. Opening track “Nespole” sets the mood and releasing other distractions from your environment and by focusing on its entry-level heartbeat it will transport you quickly into Shepherd’s dominion. Comparisons to Brian Eno’s early forays into ambient music structures may be partly accurate but as you enter the ten-plus minute realm of “Silhouettes (I, II & III)” you begin to get additional jazz inflections introduced. Additional players (violins, viola, bass, drums and indistinct voices) effervesce up under just enough to nudge the momentum sideways. The freedom and joyfulness the players exhibit is tangible yet doesn’t resort to any kind of cliché. The elegiac title track is a flawless wonderment while “Argente” is closer to classic electronic music than anything else here. Undoubtedly “Elaenia” will winnow its way to Top Ten lists this year and for those that need a subtly mesmerizing aside to their hectic daily grind this is the rest stop of choice. (7 tracks) BUY HERE!
The Lords Of The New Church
Los Diablos (Easy Action)
This rather hefty collection (CD+DVD) brings to life the glam-punkers The Lords of The New Church in all their feather-haired, pseudo-dark glory ranting and roiling to a rapt audience of Spaniards circa 1983/84 for the short-lived alternative culture television programme La Edad De Oro. The colorful liner notes and booklet explain the connection this band made with Spanish audiences in general and their performances on the CD here, while sonically flat and only a short step up from standard bootleg quality, deliver a convincing argument for their popularity at the time. The LOTNC were always a betwixt/between operation. Too glamorous in their back-combed hair and man make-up for the punks that followed them from their Dead Boys (Stiv Bators)/Damned (Brian James)/Dave Tregunna (Sham 69) roots and too raw and punky for the upscale moving, Glam-rock contingent. The band was just slightly ahead of their time. The DVD captures them in full riot in July 1983 and January 1984. The camera angles are less distracting than was the norm and linger on fret boards and faces long enough at a stretch to make you feel like you are at least close to the action. Brian James in particular stands out here as a man possessed, moving from chords to quick solos without batting a black eyelash. Bators, as was his style, never stops crawling, bouncing, jumping or mewling for effect. As an historical document this is a necessary complement to any fan but if you haven’t slipped into the Lords Of The New Church dungeon this is the perfect skeleton key to entry. (CD: 11 tracks, DVD (region free): 23 tracks) BUY HERE!