Life Elsewhere Music Vol 270

Do you believe in coincidences? I’m not so sure I do, yet I have to admit it’s a bit curious how a few years back I raved on about a talented artist with the last name, Parks. After my first interview with her, I was convinced this quietly-spoken, but seemingly self-assured young singer-songwriter was about to receive the attention I predicted. It may have been one of Arlo’s very first radio interviews and you can hear her star shine on through. So, now along comes another artist with the last name Parks, we haven’t scheduled an interview yet and I know she’s been around the music biz for a little while and, her single from her forthcoming album has been on repeat play at Life Elsewhere tower. See if you agree with me as we get to that cut in this mix. | We start with The Suncharms on Sunday Records out of Chicago, an indie label founded way back in 1990. The single mix of Distant Lights from the EP of the same name is a beautifully crafted production. The Suncharms have convinced me to try and see them live at some point. And, full marks for the intelligent graphics Sunday Records employs. Do make sure you investigate their catalog. | Nat Chippy writes all the songs and performs under the moniker, Japanese Heart Software. Beers and Skittles is from her LP. Soft and she says, “I’m a girl in Melbourne”. Little more to report other than this is a most enjoyable album and I could have chosen any of the 8 songs to introduce you to Japanese Heart Software. A quick word about the very cool photography and artwork, Nat Chippy is responsible. | Celebrating their 40 year anniversary on their own Fear of Music label, Permafrost is a post-punk band, originally from Molde in Norway, formed in 1982, they say their name comes from a Magazine song. Come Back To Surprise may have trainspotters arguing over the obvious influences. Althesame, Permafrost is competent at what they do. | Nicolas Pierre Wardel runs Shoredive Records out of Brighton on England’s south coast, he also takes care of vocals, bass, guitars, programming, keyboards with his Tears On-Demand project. The busy chap wrote, engineered, produced, and mastered Hel, Tears On Demand’s latest LP. It may take a Zoom call with Nico to get the low-down on The Best Way To Get Convicted. | I did try to search out a few details about Maud Anyways and her song Move Forward. What I do know is, Maude is French and the sleeve art suggests a reference to Lizzy Mercier Descloux. I do like the driving yet minimalist production with her slightly emotionless vocals wandering in and out of the mix. The video I located to accompany Move Forward gives little away, except Ms. Anyways appears to not give a toss about lip-syncing. | Jess, Balla, and Rach met at university and decided to be a three-piece indie-pop band with more hooks, charm, and depth than a dozen identikit indie-boy bores, according to their PR. I suppose that goes in some way to explain what they call themselves, Peaness. How I’m Feeling is from their forthcoming LP, World Full Of Worry. Totally enjoyable pop-rock. | Blood Estate is the name Brooklyn-based Julius Doogan goes by. His Floodgate album is a lovely collection of dream poppy, shoegaze songs.  There’s melancholy air permitting throughout, yet after listening to the whole album in one sitting I found I wanted to hear it again to see if I could learn more about Julius. Float (featuring Wulven) has to be my favorite cut. | “Initially the plan was to knock together a quick collection of spare tracks that were lying around on hard drives in the spring of 2020, hopefully releasing them in autumn 2020. a bloody great pandemic appeared, so that plan was scuppered pretty sharpish.” Says the deliberately anonymous person behind, The Nameless Book who continues, “So, what can you do when you’re clinically vulnerable and stuck working from home with all recording equipment inaccessible in a studio miles away? The answer was to work with what you have (a laptop), find as much free software as you can, and learn how to use it as soon as possible. Despite your employer trying to bury you beneath a pile of work, you developed a routine of recording at home and managed to start crafting music in between long long days arguing with a shoddy broadband connection. The result is Blank Page, so named as you had no idea what was going to happen when recording started back in spring 2020. The best plan seemed to be to start making sounds to escape from the feelings of captivity and worry about the final product later. Eventually, seven tracks coalesced into something palatable and were pushed towards completion”.  As you hear from Apnea the cut we chose from Blank Page, this is important music referencing so many influences, yet altogether alarmingly fresh and vital. | Our good friend, Alexander Leonard Donat uses his best Teutonic voice for Erdgeruch on a new double-sided single from his Vlimmer project. If you’ll accept that my German translation is moderately better than my German pronunciation, then Erdgeruch means Earth Smell and the lyrics go something like, “Coffee and Canadian fiddles, piss weather is displayed in the big room alone on a wide floor, when is that coming when does that ever happen? I don’t leave the house unless it pours me out or the walls will squeeze me out”. Alex, the man behind the wonderful Blackjack Illuminist label sounds intent in getting his point across on Erdgeruch, while on the flip-side, he almost croons the lyrics over a bold orchestral arrangement for Space Dementia. Always, first-class releases. | And now to a record, I could spend many pages waxing lyrical over. It’s by Toronto-born, London-based artist, Tess Parks who has been on my radar for some while. Yes, her music captured me on first listen and yes, I love her videos, especially the one for Right On with Tess wandering around familiar haunts in rainy London, dressed in a militaryesque jacket, reminiscent of my swinging 60s as she wafts along reimagining Blow Up-era  Jane Birkin or Françoise Hardy or maybe Patti Boyd. It’s a look many try, few can manage faithfully. And the same has to be said about Tess Parks’ music, trainspotters no doubt rush to point fingers but I prefer to let her talent speak for her. As it happens, Ms. Parks does a fine job of explaining her forthcoming album, And Those Who Were Seen Dancing, “In my mind, this album is like hopscotch”, Tess says: “These songs were pieced together over time in London, Toronto, and Los Angeles with friends and family between August 2019 and March 2021. So many other versions of these songs exist. The recording and final completion of this album took over two years and wow – the lesson I have learned the most is that words are spells. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now for sure. I only want to put good out into the universe.” Growing disillusionment with the state of the world paired with an injury that stopped Parks from being able to play guitar and piano for months meant the album was nearly shelved. “I really felt discouraged to complete this album”, she recalls: “I stopped listening to music for honestly about a year altogether and turned to painting instead. I really had to convince myself again that it’s important to just share whatever good we can – having faith in ourselves to know that our lights can shine on and on through other people and for other people. The thought of anyone not sharing their art or being shy of anything they create seems like a real tragedy to me. Even if it’s not perfect, you’re capturing a moment.” Listen to Happy Birthday Forever, then listen again and again. That voice, that piano, that vibrating guitar, those drums, the production. So good. I want at least a 10-minute remix complete with a blissful dub. A big tip of the hat for this one to everyone at Fuzz Club and Hand Drawn Dracula Records | Tomberlin is next with idkwntht (I don’t know who needs to hear this), with Felix Walworth on background vocals and Stuart Bogle on tenor saxophone. A lovely song with wonderful lyrics, “This song is simple but it ain’t easy to sing it like it is believe me”. Sarah Beth Tomberlin performs as Tomberlin, about this cut she says, “It’s about taking a moment for remembrance, clarity, and setting an intention for what is to come. Kind of like a song version of writing out your intentions on a full moon.” Tomberlin’s full album is due this year. | Over in south London| you’ll find, Yorkshire-born, Basil Anthony Harewood who chose to perform under the name Tone. Basil says having both Afro-Caribbean and Welsh heritage has informed the ways in which he sees things and the music he has been magnetized to, especially growing up in both a tiny village in the north of England in East Yorkshire as well as further afield in Europe. Time spent in St Kitts and Nevis as a child opened his eyes and ears to calypso, reggae, and dub, and while back home in the UK, he fell in love with ska, punk, and skinhead culture none of which he ever outgrew and to this day still informs his music practice. So I Can See You (Featuring Coby Sey) is from his album of the same name will be out in March. Tone shares these words about the title track, “I was in a writing session with my friend and collaborator Jeremy Jay after my daughter had just been born. I had already written all of this music with really emotional chords so we just turned the mic on and I freestyled the lyrics with her in mind. I think with everything going at the moment with lockdowns and restrictions it also reflects a current feeling of wanting to see loved ones and not being able to. You feel like you’d do anything to see them.” Definitely looking forward to hearing more from Tone. | “Through our darkwave music and words, we search for the question, the ambiguity, the multiform influence of a variety of demons. We feel the urgency of questioning ourselves, our fellow human beings, and the reality around us,” says Giulia Bottaro of Vonamor out of Rome, Italy. Giulia with her sister, Francesca along with Luca Guidobaldi, Francesco Bassoli, and Martino Cappelli formed Vonamor in 2016, initially focused on communicating images and composing scores for short films. You The People from their self-titled debut LP | To close Vol 270 Dub Of The Scarlet City from the EP, Le Sommeil Vertical. The first release of Séance Centre’s “Speculative Ethnography” is William Burroughs-inspired analog rhythm-scapes, conjured from the nocturnal Parisian imagination of Alan Briand AKA Shelter. Recorded directly to cassette 4-track late at night in Briand’s apartment in Paris with a gathering of temperamental vintage gear, Le Sommeil Vertical captures a somnambulant journey into vibrant analog nether-regions. The tracks are titled after Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night, and the book acts as a talisman for the album, setting sci-fi surrealism within expansive arid psychic landscapes. Enjoy! Thank you for listening.

Playlist

  1. The Suncharms – Distant Lights (single mix)
  2. Japanese Heart Software – Beers and Skittles
  3. Permafrost – Come Back To Surprise
  4. Tears On Demand – The Best Way To Get Convicted
  5. Maud Anyways – Move Forward
  6. Peaness – How I’m Feeling
  7. Blood Estate – Float (ft. Wulven)
  8. The Nameless Book – Apnea
  9. Vlimmer – Erdgeruch
  10. Tess Parks – Happy Birthday Forever
  11. Tomberlin – idkwntht
  12. Tone – So I can See You (Ft. Coby Sey)
  13. Vonamor – You The People
  14. Shelter – Dub Of The Scarlet City

Artwork by Norman B “Snow angel James” 2009 giclée print on archival paper 16” x 16” Courtesy of Norman B’s collection