Posts from 1st April 2000

1
Apr 00

LAURENZ

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LAURENZ – Forever Comes (MP3)
This is a strange one. From Cologne, referencing Momus, Smog and Gastr del Sol. Deliberately tinny drum machine, slightly cheesy arrangement, vocals trying not to sound mainstream-romantic beneath a sensitive-indie facade. I quite like it, but there’s an edge of embarrassment around this song, the way that, with a different arrangement, presentation and vocal style, it could easily have fitted on BBC Radio 2 in 1982.

It’s almost an MOR song, really, disguised in the clothing of a kind of Sarah Records flashback (see Tom’s Heavenly piece below). Don’t know why I find it so perversely appealing – maybe I just like a German virtual singalong of something Dan Hill or Randy Edelman could have recorded on a good day.

SUPER HUMAN POWERS

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SUPER HUMAN POWERS – West Evil Rhymes (MP3)
This is just about the most brutalist pop extant. The beat hunches and thrusts forward, the squeals (like the Bomb Squad sampling the sound of tyres on ice) lurch around, the emceeing hits you, aggressive and threatening, but its ideas, setting and phraseology are unique, utterly unexpected and brilliantly incongrous.

Something of me has to admire the audacity of SHP’s concept, imagining the world as it was in 1320, a time of easy, casual human attacks and destruction, pushed into California. It’s exactly the mutation of Geography and Time that puts it several light years away from just about everything surrounding it. And extra points for the use of the word “skedaddle”.

LEWIS PARKER – “The Variations”

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LEWIS PARKER – “The Variations” (from the album “Word Lab”)
Is Lewis Parker the most interesting hip-hop artist ever brought forward in the UK? He’s certainly the least predictable and the least stereotypical in his reference points, having spent most of his childhood and adolescence moving around Britain, much of the time in Canterbury, so creating a semi-mystical style (don’t let his Star Wars fixation put you off) that comes close to one of the bizarre imaginary prog-rock fusions Momus advocates, and is free from the specifically “urban” reference points that often makes hip-hop (for me, at least) one of the most specifically “geographical” genres surviving, sometimes as much so as folk music. Parker’s breath of experience – from inner London to the area of Kent which once inspired Powell & Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale has given him a range of reference points beyond the knowledge of most of his contemporaries (it also brought forward an unbelievably patronising NME review, but I think he’d wear his wounds with pride).

“The Variations” is typically effective, Parker’s skills (and he’s an incredible emcee – his phrasing is almost uniquely subtle and expressive) showcased over a minimalistic piano sample that stirs and shimmers (rather than bludgeons or pushes) its way into your mind. It’s an effective climax to a compilation which reveals UK hip-hop the most self-confident and established with its own identity that it has ever been. The 14 tracks here can be anthemic, enjoyably parochial and deeply angry by turns, but we all need our consciously unnatural mystics.

MOLOKO – “The Time Is Now”

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MOLOKO – “The Time Is Now” (CD single)
You can sense something from the first 15 seconds. An arrangement of acoustic guitar which vaguely recalls Steve Harley’s “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)”, of all things, but it shimmers. The single, with its string section arranged with a flourish that most pop simply doesn’t understand, and an arrangement where absolutely everything is perfect, is one of the most emotionally affecting Top 10 hits for years. Roisin Murphy’s voice, with its old mock-scary quality under control, makes me feel almost as though I owe a contract to the feelings expressed (especially “Time is upon us, but the night is young” and “Flowers blossom in the wintertime”) and the chorus (“Let’s make this moment last”) makes me feel as though I should never let this excitement and this thrill go. Every chord change moves me, right up to the fade, a piano which seems as though it might stay on loop forever, and sounds cold, icy, middle-European and chilling where most chartpop evokes the endless sunshine of some ersatz America.

I could take or leave the over-exposed “Sing It Back”, and I remember Moloko when they were perceived as among the ultimate runts of the trip-hop litter. But this is one of those indisputably great singles by people who might never again reach such heights, disproving pop’s auteurist theory. Such incredible romance, which sucks you in and makes you feel as though you’ve experienced pop music as great as it can get, on your radio right now. Number 2 in the UK, things don’t get much better.