OK, so pushing myself a little bit with tonight’s review. One of the most enjoyable elements to my recent writing for The Wire is that, while i have been lucky enough to write about a few things I have really enjoyed, I tend to be steered clear of anything I may be thought to be connected with somehow and so given a number of assignments writing about music that I wouldn’t have considered listening to and writing about for this blog. The experience has been a little enlightening, if also a bit difficult, and I have found myself writing as many negative or at least partly negative reviews for the magazine as I have positive. I usually avoid writing about things here at the blog that I can’t get to grips with in anything like a positive manner, but perhaps I shouldn’t, and maybe I will write more constructively worded criticism now. The problem is, I really dislike having to listen to, and then write about music I don’t enjoy, and seeing as this blog is designed to be a written journal of the joy I find in music every day then don’t expect all that many damning reviews, simply because they are no fun to write.
So, having decided a couple of days ago to try and do this, I went back deliberately to a CD that I had previously put to one side, as after one play through it left me cold, simply because it belongs to an area of music that doesn’t interest me all that much. The CD is a release on the Insubordinations label, available as a free download here or also as a very attractively packaged real CD. The album is named Lacrimosa and is by the trio of Johann Bourquenez, (piano) Raphael Ortis (bass) and Cyril Bondi (Drums) who perform under the name of Plaistow (the name coming from a Squarepusher track title apparently rather than directly from the rather unappealing London borough) regular readers here and visitors to the Insubordinations archive will recognise the Bondi’s name as one half of the Diatribes duo. In that group he works with a wide range of percussion in quite a textural manner, but in Plaistow he plays drums, and he really does play drums. To me, Plaistow’s music falls somewhere between Radian, The Necks and Dream Syndicate era Faust. It is centred entirely round rhythm, in the most straightforward manner. The three tracks each involve slowly thickening hypnotic pieces that each revolve around the piano or drums, the piano played fast and in circular, dizzily repeated patterns reminiscent of Charlemagne Palestine and the drums following suit. The end result then is a kaleidoscopic, revolving stream of pulse with the bass, which is often bowed, providing meat for the bones laid down by the other two thirds of the trio.
Now, as it happens, recently on the hour long drive home from work each night I have taken to listening curiously to a pirate radio station that has launched locally that plays a continual stream of either dubstep, breakbeat or more traditional drum’n bass music, often shouted over by a (usually utterly hilarious) radio MC. I listen mostly because it takes little effort and helps me wind down after a hard day, but also because, ironically, when turned up loud it has an energising effect that keeps me awake (though it also makes me want to drive too fast). I mention this because on the way home tonight I listened to said station, and then when I got a bit too fed up with the pillock shouting at me to “keep it locked” once too often I flicked over to this CD, and the two just seemed to flow together. As the piano and bass groove of the first and title track here took off, so I found myself tapping out a simplistic version of the Amen break on the steering wheel in accompaniment to the music. So, I sort of enjoyed listening to this music, but in an entirely physical, adrenalin fuelled manner. The way I listened couldn’t be further away from how I listen to Diatribes, or very much else of why I usually write about here. I found myself picking out rhythms when they were not explicit in the music, and filling in drum breaks at opportune moments. Once I got home though, made myself a pot of tea, and sat down in a quiet house, so letting the trials of a busy working day catch up with me a bit, I found this CD really hard to listen to again, perhaps in the same way that I could only ever listen to the pirate radio station when driving. This kind of pulse driven, hypnotic flow of music isn’t really my cup of tea, and this evening’s experiences make think that this is because it takes such a physical connection with the music to really make it do anything for me, rathe than anything particularly cerebral. I’m just not likely to ever be dancing across the living room with to anything at all any time soon. So, if The Necks, Radian and the like are your thing, you will possibly like this one very much. I’ll stick to this nice pot of genmaicha for now though.