The Krautrock Sensation EP (CRUSTACEAN 07) by Vibravoid is in fact a 7″ vinyl item, although my promo CD just contains two tracks from its generous contents. Vibravoid are a Düsseldorf band who turn in an enthused and near-perfect copy of Can’s ‘Mother Sky’ on one side, and a raucous rocked-up version of ‘Eye Shaking King’ by Amon Düül II on the other. In fine, they are pretty much a Krautrock tribute band along the lines of The Cosmic Charlies (a UK band who play a superb Grateful Dead set) and are snugly at home on the Fruits De Mer label which offers a range of colourful singles by like-minded cover bands playing versions drawn from the high-spots of music’s psychedelic history. The item by Cranium Pie, with covers of Dantalian’s Chariot and late Beatles, seems highly intriguing. Vibravoid have a righteous, full-on sound and don’t skimp on the guitars, and even though they can’t escape the crunched and compacted sound of modern digital processing, they make a damned good effort. The cover art seems odd, and perhaps more suited to a set of Serge Gainsbourg covers, but in some ways it comes close to emulating the final scene from Deep End, the 1970 movie by Skolimowksi in which ‘Mother Sky’ appears as source music.
Got a couple of songs by the Goteborg duo Trapped In A Loop on another promo item. The first one ‘Echo’ is quite delicious, an odd combination of a basic drum-machine beat, jangly 1986-shambling rock styled guitars, heavenly stacked female vocals, and a trombone. For over six minutes the team wisely decide stay in the same place and offer little variation on this thrummingly upbeat and narcotic oddity, apart from the loopy scat vocals fed through a telephone receiver which appear in the middle of the song. That same distortion device appears on the second song ‘Joinus’, where the singer transmits odd details from her private snow-bound world with much more grace and charm than I’ve ever heard on a Bjork record. Here, the layered trombones are just magnificent – a strange mix of triumphant brass-band parping with doodly, improvised scrabbling. It’s a real charmer. Go to their site to see footage of the female half of the act blowing her notes and watch the cover come to life – what with the brass instruments and the cows in a field, it’s all but an update on the Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother LP. These two toons appear as a 10″ record (TRAPPED IN A LOOP MUSIC 001) which may be available from Surplus Recordings.
From Norway, Meiningslaust Oppgulp (RUNE GRAMMOFON RACD106) is an irresistible compilation of rare singles, 10-inchers and lathe cuts by MoHa!, the lovely noise-rock team of Anders Hana and Morten Olsen. This CD mostly flings out short 3-4 minute splurges of instrumental brutality where the duo use a drumkit as though it were a demolition ball and wield live electronics like flamethrowers. Twenty minutes in the company of this beast and you’ll be rubbing your sweaty forehead looking for the six inch copper nails driven into your brain. Aside from the “poppy” short noise gazingas, there is the 11-minute ‘Eg Blei Sogen Av Ein Atterganger’ of which the opening salvoes see them vaguely collaborating with Idan Hayosh and And Vahtra for about two minutes, then settling into an aggressive stop-start punchup thereafter. This is like a bout with a vicious bottle of vodka which keeps on kicking in when you least expect it, between cautious sips. Also there is the uncharacteristically experimental ‘Untitled (8 Tommer B)’, which uses odd cut-up methods and baffling tracts of silence, before ending in a robust avant-rock mode. Good to see our old friend Jeff Carey of Zeromoon mentioned in dispatches here too – prescient as ever, he released a single for them in 2008. A scorcher of a package which given the relative rarity of the originals is most welcome. Only Kim Hiorthøy’s uncertain and arty sleeve work disappoints.
Peter Rehberg and Marcus Schmickler toured the USA performing as R/S in 2009. Chicago and New York were two towns to bear the full brunt of their electronic music assault, and as forensic evidence we now have the weighty LP USA (PAN 18) from Bill Kouligas’s Pan label. Extremely exciting, dense and eventful work from these two players, building up a near-relentless wall of frequencies that is as vast and impenetrable as a six-foot tall block of solid platinum. Plenty of brooding darkness, implied violence, and many other unhealthy emotions to be mined from these earthy chunks of abstract noise. The strong cover design is especially compelling; it uses the / character of R/S as a means of cancelling out the Statue of Liberty, while around her two cybernetic patterns float in the yellow sky in rather menacing manner. These two European supremos of electronicism are doing all they can to cast doubts on traditional American values, unfurling a pallor of ambiguous digital gloom wherever they go. As such, this LP makes a perfect soundtrack to the current mood of economic unease and USA-European tensions about Italy, Greece and the proposed bank bailout.
Hobocombo are an ad-hoc trio of Italians, including the drummer Andrea Belfi who has sent us one or two records in the past. On Now That It’s The Opposite, It’s Twice Upon A Time (TROVAROBATO PARADE TRB P 04) they perform seven cover versions of compositions and songs by the great Moondog, using stripped-down instrumentation – the double bass of Francesca Baccolini, the guitars and Korg synth of Rocco Marchi, and Belfi’s percussion; all three of them sing, making a decent fist of the round-songs like ‘Be A Hobo’ and ‘All Is Loneliness’. I was prepared to greet this with the stern purist frown of disapproval, but in fact it’s a delicate, charming and very engaging set of pieces, played with real compassion, gentleness, and attention to detail. ‘Stamping Ground’ for example is transformed from the slightly strident and awkward piece of marching-band jazz that appeared on the 1969 Columbia LP, into a version that truly swings in a way that Louis Hardin would surely have approved of, and without any fuss or ado it quietly emphasises the Bach-inspired qualities of the main melody. To this song Hobocombo add restrained flourishes of electronic music, a vocal refrain to state the theme, and even recite one of Moondog’s famous street-riddles such as you would have heard on his 1950s Prestige LPs. On ‘Be A Hobo’, Belfi uses his percussion to perfectly emulate the sound of the trimba, and the forlorn distant singing voices of the trio here really do inculcate the sort of wanderlust that the song reaches for. The electric guitar really comes into its own on their version of the ‘Witch Of Endor’ ballet piece, played in a suitably astringent and minimalist style, and their ambition in tackling this complex (though short) piece is admirable. Plus, they even cover ‘Enough About Human Rights’, my favourite song from the 1978 H’art Songs LP. If you’re a fan of Moondog, I recommend immediate investigation.