Tuesday, 3 May 2011

reviews: psychedlic horseshit, viva stereo, matana roberts

Psychedelic Horseshit - Laced

Psychedelic Horseshit - Laced (****)

When Matt Horseshit and Ryan Jewell of Psychedelic Horseshit labelled their abrasive-yet-melodic music ‘shitgaze’, they did themselves quite the disservice. While their tongue-in-cheek neologism indicates both compromised recording quality (‘shitness’, if you will) and the immersive dreaminess of shoegaze, it fails to capture the multifaceted dayglo wonder that is Laced, which is great, then horrible, then great again (and, actually, the horrible bits are pretty great too). Thus a new genre is born: tropical-drone treble-sore calypso-noise mystic-pop squishy-garage punk-gaze.

OK, so the name needs work but its catalysing album is fully formed and rather awesome. I Hate The Beach’s insouciant eight-minute ramble and the mesmerising title track stand-out from the dense haze, while Another Side suggests, fittingly, another side to the Ohio duo, its conventional structure and harmonica middle-eight emphasising that, for all their egregiously tuneless vocals (not to mention their family-unfriendly name), Psychedelic Horseshit are never far from pop’s shores.

Out 16th May

Viva Stereo - Endure the Dark to See the Stars

Viva Stereo - Endure the Dark to See the Stars (***)

Over ten years, three albums and numerous EPs, Viva Stereo have stacked hard electronics on a foundation of indie-rock, with previous releases kindred with Cooper Temple Clause or turn-of-the-millennium Primal Scream. Endure the Dark… suggests the Fence mainstays may be inadvertently following Gillespie’s crew rather too closely: if My Own Enemy and Roar Lion Roar were Viva Stereo’s Xtrmntr or Evil Heat, their fourth full-length would be their Riot City Blues (minus the Jagger boner), with the “electro noise beat confusion” of yore thoroughly tamed.

There’s comparably little electronics, it’s rarely noisy, and the only confusion is why they’ve chosen to play things so conventional. With this lengthy caveat out of the way, however, it’s worth celebrating the album’s multiple highs: the title track is especially accomplished, while the closing run from My Beating Heart to We Set Sail evoke, variously, Mogwai, Mazzy Star and My Latest Novel. Viva Viva Stereo, then.

Out 9th May

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter 1: Gens de Couleur Libre (****)

An avant-jazz concept album performed live, Coin Coin is an uncompromising listen. The intense noodling of opener Rise immediately intimidates, while the sub-title – ‘free people of colour’ – indicates the distressing subject matter. In Pov Potti, the narrator is sixteen, watching her parents die; by Kersalia, she’s aged beyond her twenty-five years.

The album’s centre-piece is a largely acapella slave auction, harrowing in its inhumanity (“she’d make a damn good breeder” Roberts leers, approximating the auctioneer, “don’t you mind them tears, that’s one of her tricks”). Penultimate track I Am provides hope: set free, the narrator saves so she can “buy back my children”, before closing with a dedication to Robert’s mother, and the poignant question: How Much Would You Cost? That slavery was a terrible trauma is no revelation, but the album undoubtedly is: inventive, sapient and engrossing, it’s not an easy listen, but it is an exceptional one.

Out 9th May

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