Life Elsewhere Music Vol 255

Stand by, here we go with 60 minutes of super new releases, plus an obscure oldie from my archives. To begin, Rodney Cromwell who tells all about Memory Box. Writing and recording in his home studio in Catford, South London, Adam Cresswell goes by the moniker of Rodney Cromwell, Memory Box is the title track of his forthcoming. Adam says he came across Wormtongue from Tolkien while he was recovering from an illness and in his disorientated state of brain-fog, riverbanks, woods, castles, and a perfumed rose garden sent his writing off in a more heady and fantastical direction. We approve. Peter Bogolub out of NYC goes by the moniker, Loops & Loops and has been making music for the last 20 years ranging from shoegaze to indie to lofi. Doubts, Peter’s latest single sounds familiar yet decidedly original. Not sure if it’s the languid vocals or the production that’s more complex than it first sounds that won me over. Excellent work, we want to hear more from Loops & Loops. From Tokyo, Re:Lapse give us Little, Little from their self-titled EP. Beneath those layers of sound, the boy-girl vocals may appear vulnerable against the steady-marching drum pattern, yet together it all works to full effect. Our feature on Mammal Sounds with Jez Ryan (LEM Vol 253) prompted a lot of curiosity about the excellent parade of music hailing from down under. So, when Jez sent us more releases it’s only fair we should share In Vain by Cin with you. A seemingly low-key song, but Cin says “I didn’t really go into this song trying to write something sad, but I guess that this song probably takes inspiration from the general state of the planet. I feel like a lot of people are hurting, and that the last few years have been difficult for most.Sometimes you just need a loved one or a family member to tell you that things are going to be okay” A serious sentiment, well put. Creating a stage or band name can result in some interesting choices. For instance, the name Soren Bryce selected – Tummyache. The musician and producer recently relocated from the USA to London and says this about their song, Soak, “It was inspired by newfound neurotic and tedious habits that formed during the isolation of the pandemic, whilst adjusting to being in a new country. A new kind of forced domesticity caused me to avoid reality and I wasn’t able to fall back on my usual escapism methods. I learned a lot about myself.” The pandemic and isolation has affected a lot of artists, Soren Bryce’s words probably apply to so many people right now. Listen carefully to Tummyache’s Soak. We love the boisterous guitar break. Earlier this year I invited Alice Kat and Liam James Marsh who go by the name of fine. to join the show for a chat. (LEM Vol 230). Alice was so appreciative that we had fine. on the show and that I raved on about their music, she very kindly sent us a limited edition of her Alice Kat LP on vinyl and a cd of her Telephone Conversations LP, along with a truly charming message. In return, I’ve included Glitter All Around, a cut from Alice’s CD. A truly talented artist. Recently, I was rummaging around in my archives looking for something, what it was, I’ve forgotten, but luckily I came across a true gem from 1963, it’s Susan King with Morning. The 7” disc is on Toy Records, with a bright pink label depicting a toy poodle in silhouette. Such a wonderful recording. From 1993 we come up to date with (Eli)Zabeth Owens and Once In A While from their new album, Knock Knock. I was alerted to (Eli)Zabeth Owens by the always astute Nancy Kells of grimalkin Records. Originally from the UK, Owens is now based in Richmond, Virginia, and says this, “I’m a poet & producer constantly coming of age”. (Eli)Zabeth is also a creative videographer who made excellent videos to accompany each of the tracks on their album. Peter Hall is out of Nottingham in the UK, The Best Idea is from his forthcoming LP, Light The Stars. This is one of those songs I think you need to listen to a number of times, then it all falls into place. This carefully crafted song could be described as misleading if you only hear Peter’s almost fragile-sounding voice. Listen again and you’ll realize his arrangement uses far more colors than you first thought you heard. Sine is an electronic band created by singer and drummer, Rona Rougeheart out of Austin. For the track Desolate District the always-on-form, Chris Connelly contributes his splendid voice. We selected the NITE remix. The LP is titled, Desire, Denial and Paramania. Make sure you investigate. Although 39 years have passed since the Cocteau Twins debut release, Garlands, founding member, Robin Guthrie prefers you focus on his latest work. Mockingbird Love EP is the first new music from Robin Guthrie since the ‘Another Flower’ album with the late Harold Budd, released just days before Budd’s passing in December 2020. About his new work, Robin Guthrie says, “Of late I’ve been very focused on my instrumental music, which is increasingly an intense endeavor, all the more so as I don’t really share it with anyone. So here I am, finally, with some words about my next releases. ‘Mockingbird Love’, a four-track EP, is the first small collection of music that I have felt comfortable to release for a while. This is my October.” For this volume, we selected My Courtesan. A conversation with Robin Guthrie is in the works. Next up, an EP I have been fascinated by and playing repeatedly since it arrived just a few days ago. It’s Lilacjack and according to the credits, the music and lyrics are by Jackie, and so is the production, can we presume Jackie is Lilacjack? There are four tracks, you’ll hear Her Heartbeat Pressed Against My Feet, but seriously, you have to check Lilacjack’s EP out for yourself. Mammal Sounds out of Australia won our attention with a continual array of excellent releases, so label-boss Jez Ryan joined the show for a chat recently. One of the artists Jez has been raving on about is Lemonade Baby who happens to have a brand new single, Ex Best Friend. Brannon Hughes AKA Lemonade Baby says, Ex Best Friend is about loss and missing someone that has gone away. “I feel like everyone can grow distant from one another and experiencing distance makes me self-reflective. I start questioning myself like; Why didn’t I reply? or How come I haven’t heard from you in a while?” Understood. Pure pop music at its best. To take us up to the closing credits, London producer and DJ, Hylu with Zaf from the Latent Variables EP. This is an example of new electronica music we will build a whole show around for an upcoming volume. As you listen carefully to Zaf try and identify the sounds from nature in the mix. Till next time, be well, be safe and you know it costs nothing, be nice.

Playlist

  1. Rodney Cromwell – Memory Box
  2. Loops & Loops – Doubts
  3. Re:Lapse – Little, Little
  4. Cin – In Vain
  5. Tummyache – Soak
  6. Alice Kat – Glitter All Around
  7. Susan King – Morning
  8. (Eli)zabeth Owens – Once In A While
  9. Peter Hall – The Best Idea
  10. Sine – Desolate District (ft. Chris Connelly) (NITE Remix)
  11. Robin Guthrie – My Courtesan
  12. Lilacjack – Her Heartbeat Pressed Against My Feet
  13. Lemonade Baby – Ex Best Friend
  14. Hylu – Zaf

Artwork by Chuck Benbow 1956 – 2015 “Chicki #4″ 2009 Kodachrome print 24″ x 24”. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

Behind The Glitz, The Glamour, & The Factory

             
Laurence Leamer – Capote’s Women – A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for An Era 

“There are certain women,” Truman Capote wrote, “who, though perhaps not born rich, are born to be rich.” Barbara “Babe” Paley, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Slim Hayward, Pamela Churchill, C. Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy’s sister)—they were the toast of midcentury New York, each beautiful and distinguished in her own way. Capote befriended them, received their deepest confidences, and ingratiated himself into their lives. Then, in one fell swoop, he betrayed them in the most surprising and startling way possible. Following the acclaimed publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958 and In Cold Blood in 1966, when Capote struggled with a crippling case of writer’s block. While en­joying all the fruits of his success, he was struck with an idea for what he was sure would be his most celebrated novel…one based on the re­markable, racy lives of his very, very rich friends. For years, Capote attempted to write An­swered Prayers, what he believed would have been his magnum opus. But when he eventually published a few chapters in Esquire, the thinly fictionalized lives (and scandals) of his closest fe­male confidantes were laid bare for all to see, and he was banished from their high-society world forever. Laurence Leamer joins Norman B to talk about, Capote’s Women.

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni – After Andy – Adventures In Warhol Land  

She was the last person to be hired at Andy Warhol’s Factory and she has written a book about her experiences. Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni doesn’t mind divulging she had an affair with Mick Jagger when she was a seventeen-year-old school girl. Ms. Fraser-Cavassoni isn’t one to hold back, in her new book, After Andy – Adventures In Warhol Land, she tells all. It’s a glitzy, fast-paced, juicy, gossipy, name-dropping chronicle. She saw firsthand the end of an era and the establishment of a global phenomenon. From behind the scenes disagreements and the assessment of his estate, which included Interview magazine and his art inventory, to the record-breaking auction of his belongings and the publication of his diaries. Natasha examines the immediate aftermath of Warhol’s death and his ever-growing impact. Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni chats with Norman B about her riveting eyewitness memoir.

Robin Guthrie – Mockingbird Love EP

It is 39 years on from Cocteau Twins‘ revered debut release, Garlands, now Robin Guthrie gives us, Mockingbird Love EP. This is the first new music from Guthrie since the Another Flower album with the late Harold Budd, released just days before Budd’s passing in December 2020. About his new work, Robin Guthrie says, “Of late I’ve been very focused on my instrumental music, which is increasingly an intense endeavor, all the more so as I don’t really share it with anyone. So here I am, finally, with some words about my next releases. ‘Mockingbird Love’, a four-track EP, is the first small collection of music that I have felt comfortable to release for a while. This is my October.” 

(Eli)Zabeth Owens – Knock, Knock LP

The always astute Nancy Kells of Grimalkin Records alerted us to the music of (Eli)Zabeth Owens. Originally from the UK, the Richmond, Virginia-based artist says “They are a poet & producer constantly coming of age”. Owens not only makes extraordinary music (or sound-scapes), they also create exquisite videos to accompany each track on their album. 

 

 

A Conversation With Jez Ryan of Mammal Sounds. Josh Idehen’s Latest.

Located about 4 miles east of downtown Sydney, Australia you find the beautiful (and celebrated) Bondi Beach, where you’ll also find the home of Mammal Sounds and Jez Ryan the charming chap who runs the label. Mammal Sounds a self-proclaimed boutique label caught my attention because a number of their releases and artists have become frequent additions to the LEM playlists., including, Benji Lewis, Lemonade Baby, Golden Vessel, Hotel Decor, and George Gretton. Our ongoing series of chats with indie labels meant we had to learn more about Mammal Sounds and the indie scene in Australia. With the convoluted fourteen-hour-time difference in effect, a Zoom meeting with Jez was scheduled. At nine am, Sydney time, Mr. Ryan was bright and alert with the morning sun beaming through his window, while the night was settling in – the day before on the east coast of America, an engaging conversation began. You’ll hear Jez Ryan’s insights into the Australian music scene and his selections for the show from Lemonade Baby, Daste, Golden Vessel, and Slouch Online. Thank you, Jez and Mammal Sounds.

Our dear friend, the very talented Joshua Idehen sent us his latest release. “It’s a new side project”, says Josh, “with celebrated producer Daedelus and composer Miguel Atwood Ferguson it’s called Standing In My Own Way (Part One)”. Josh recently became a very proud father and he has taken to posting gorgeous photos of himself smothering his young child with love. And, I do believe, Standing In My Own Way (Part One) is in part a reflection on the knowledge Josh has garnered from people like me who have congratulated him on becoming a father but have also cautioned him to enjoy every teeny tiny precious moment of his new life as a parent. Much love, Josh.

 

LEM Vol 253

The Mysterious Mr. Thiel. Questions About The News. New Piano Music. 

What do you know about the billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Peter Thiel? He has been a behind-the-scenes operator, influencing countless aspects of our contemporary way of life, from the technologies we use every day to the delicate power balance between Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Washington. Yet despite Thiel’s power and ubiquity, no public figure is quite so mysterious – until now. In The Contrarian – Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power, the first major biography of Thiel, Max Chafkin traces the trajectory of the innovator’s singular life and worldview, from his upbringing as the child of immigrant parents and years at Stanford as a burgeoning conservative thought leader to his founding of PayPal and Palantir, early investment in Facebook and SpaceX, and relationships with fellow tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Eric Schmidt. The Contrarian illuminates the extent to which Thiel has sought to export his values to the corridors of power beyond Silicon Valley, including funding the lawsuit that destroyed the blog Gawker and strenuously backing far-right political candidates, notably Donald Trump for president in 2016. Max Chafkin joins Norman B to discuss The Contrarian.

When we have questions about the news headlines we call Dr. Binoy Kampmark for his scholarly insight.

1. What does the recent German election mean for the rest of the world?

2. Canada grants asylum to refugees who sheltered Edward Snowden?

3. UK’s gas crisis? Real or a test?

4. The new James Bond movie with Daniel Craig – are we desperate to relive a time that never really existed?

5. Russia threatens to ban Youtube after it shuts pro-Kremlin channels?

As always, Binoy unfalteringly tackles each question with expert knowledge and a soupçon of wit. Dr. Binoy Kampmark is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

Also in the show, new piano music from Brighton-based, Poppy Ackroyd. Pause is her fourth, full-length album. A collection of ten solo piano works written during the pandemic and shortly after the birth of her first child, the title refers to the feeling of normal life being temporarily put on hold. Poppy says, “For previous albums, almost as much of the creative process was spent editing and manipulating recordings as it was composing at the piano, however after having my son, I struggled to spend time sitting in front of a computer. The only thing I wanted to do while he was still small, if I wasn’t with him, was to play the piano. In fact, much of the album was written with him asleep on me in a sling as I used any quiet moment to compose. It made sense that this should be a solo piano album, it was important to me that every track on the album could be entirely performed with just two hands on the piano.”

Show 443

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 252

In this volume a wonderful array of new releases for your listening pleasure, including a new single from LEM favorites, King Hannah and we’ll pay respects to the passing of an important contributor to the beginnings of industrial music, Richard H Kirk of the legendary Cabaret Voltaire. First, we get things underway with Sophia Can’t Walk from Obey Cobra’s Oblong LP. The Cardiff based-band says they are, experimental, ethereal psychedelia, post-punk with electronic and heavy flourishes. I say that Kate Wood, Steve O Jones, Rory Coughlan-Allen, Gareth Day, Ian Coote, and Rosemary Swan have made one splendid recording. This is a band to keep an eye on. Golden Vessel & Rei Soi La are out of Brisbane, the two artists were working independently until they released Jersey City as a collaborative single c/o the very fine Mammal imprint. The guys say the song was written almost two years ago when Maxwell (aka Golden Vessel) had just spent some time in Jersey City and was catching the train over to Manhattan each day to explore. Even though Kalem (aka Rei Soi La) had never actually been to Jersey City he really enjoyed living in this brief moment in time that Maxwell was bringing out in the song’s lyrics. Sticky With No Glue is a title I will admit to being tempted to wander off with into salacious territory. Instead, I’ll let Isma & Varnrable explain. Isma is a music producer and DJ from Paris, while Varnrable, is a Norway-raised, Copenhagen-based artist with Ethiopian roots. Their record is on Cascade records out of Paris. The music of Laila Sakini caught my attention and I decided you should hear two in a row from Laila’s What I Got EP, first the title cut followed by Tech Message (dub). Written, recorded, performed, produced, and mixed by Laila Sakini in London, although I believe she is originally out of Melbourne. Listen carefully to her music. So good. In the last volume of LEM we focused on the Toronto-based label, Hand Drawn Dracula, and chatted with label founder, James Mejia, who selected excellent releases from his imprint, including, Vallens. We took a deeper listen to their In Era and picked Sin So Vain for this volume. This rewarding album is complete with a carefully designed sleeve by James Mejia. The first time I played Cabaret Voltaire on the air in America was to my knowledge the very first occasion the proto-industrial trio from Sheffield had radio exposure in the US. A few days before, I’d just returned from a trip to London where I had stopped into the fledgling Rough Trade Records. Geoff Travis had loaded me up with a box of brand new releases for airplay on my radio show in the colonies. One of those platters was the Extended Play EP by Cabaret Voltaire. It was a Thursday night, I had a show on KAOS at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  As I back announced Do The Mussolini (Headkick) by Cabaret Voltaire, self-admitted music nerd, Bruce Pavitt bounded into the studio and demanded, “What the fuck was that?” This was 1978, a few years later Pavitt went on to found Sub Pop, (that’s another story). At that time, the sound Richard H Kirk, Stephen Mallendar, and Chris Watson made was so different it triggered an instant reaction from anyone who was listening. And, Cabaret Voltaire was almost unknown in the UK, let alone in the Pacific North West. Over the years the band went on to make numerous recordings, became instrumental in a new genre of music, and reached legendary status by the time the ’80s came to a close. Richard H Kirk remained the sole member continuing on with the original name, (although he used numerous intriguing monikers for various projects, over the years). Late last year (2020), we featured Richard H Kirk’s recent LP, Shadow Of Fear on the show, giving me the opportunity to say, “Kirk is the sole remaining member, this is Cabaret Voltaire’s first studio album in 26 years. Kirk has released many acclaimed solo albums and is credited with creating bleep techno. He formed this new album from a series of pulverizing live shows. There is something timely about this release even if I do get a little nostalgic about playing Nag Nag Nag in a dance club, all those years ago. The influence of Cabaret Voltaire cannot be underestimated”. Richard H Kirk, age 65, passed away on September 21, 2021. Rest in peace.

Whenever I spot a new release on the White Peach label I know it’s going to be good and it deserves to be included on the show. From the Solstice EP, you’ll hear, Impetus by Lofty. I think we can safely say that dubstep, grime, and many more electro genres have their roots in part with Industrial music and Cabaret Voltaire in particular. South London artist, Wu-Lu came to my attention via James Mejia, from his Time EP we go to flip side to hear, Being Me. Miles Romans-Hopcraft is Wu-Lu who writes and produces his own work. Check him out. Black Country, New Road begins Track X with, “You’ve got great hips – I’m still shaking”. Now that should get anyone to listen carefully. Their LP, For The First Time is full of gorgeous music, let me know what you think of this band from London. Over in Dublin creative talent seems to bubble over recently, Cat Dowling being a good example. On the enterprising FIFA label, Cat Dowling gives us Animals and a persuasive reason to explore more of her work. Top marks for the production. At last, it appears some of the popular indie stations around the country are finally catching up with my raving on about King Hannah. The Liverpool duo, Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle are back with a new single, A Well-Made Woman. They have a video to go along with the cut, you need to see. They say their debut LP should be on the way soon. And, do make sure you listen to my conversation with these very lovely people.

Playlist

  1. Obey Cobra – Sophia Can’t Walk
  2. Golden Vessel & Rei Soi La – Jersey City
  3. Isma & Varnrable – Sticky With No Glue
  4. Laila Sakini – What I Got
  5. Laila Sakini – Tech Message (dub)
  6. Vallens – Sin So Vain
  7. Cabaret Voltaire – Do The Mussolini (Headkick)
  8. Lofty – Impetus
  9. Wu-Lu – Being Me
  10. Black Country, New Road – Track X
  11. Cat Dowling – Animals
  12. King Hannah – A Well-Made Woman

Artwork by Sylvie Archendes 1950 – 2003 “Then again” 1987 12″ x 15″ mixed media, blackberry juice on treated sugar paper. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

Show LEM 252

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