On Rap Music: Top Doomtrumps

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On the way home from Minneapolis after our visit to P.O.S. there occurred a rum and uncanny series of events. I’d managed to drive all of a hundred metres when Geoff’s Rap Bus spluttered to a halt outside a local branch of Greggs. Luckily the Rap Bus runs on sausage rolls instead of petrol, so in I popped, to the latest British export to take the USA by storm, in search of fuel. On the interior, the Minneapolis branch of Greggs was almost identical to the Sheffield branch of Greggs, because they don’t have a Greggs in America and I’m making this up.

The woman behind the counter pointed at me and shouted “ERMAHGERD it’s that kid that got the vegetable pasty at Damnation Fest!” After signing autographs for her children, I was invited into the back of the shop to sample a prototype vegetable pasty—named the FREEDOM POCKET—soon to be launched in my honour. As I stepped onto the hallowed ground of ‘Behind The Counter At Greggs’ the door slammed behind me, and I was alone, the autograph hunting pasty purveyor having mysteriously disappeared in a mysterious manner that I found mysterious.

Mysteriously, the room was completely dark, apart from what could only be described as a vegetable pasty sat on a plinth in the centre of the room, emitting a mysterious glow. The pasty began to address me in whatever voice you’re using to represent the pasty in your head as you read this. In mine, it sounds like Patrick Stewart on a megaphone. “How are you going to do an article about P.O.S which mentions Doomtree in a rather casual manner, and then drive your Rap Bus directly out of Minneapolis without covering the best hip hop crew since Wu Tang?” intoned the supra-natural pastry snack.

“Well, I did think of that actually,” I said, “and I thought it might be a bit much to cover the whole crew in an interesting way in one article. Also I’ve kind of already done it on another website.”

BULLSHIT!” shouted the frightening Patrick Stewart-bevoiced talking vegetable pasty in the back room of a fictitious Greggs in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Here, take these Doomtree trading cards and put them on your stupid website that nobody reads.”

“But,” said I, “these trading cards only cover the rappers, there aren’t any for the producers, Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger.”

“That’s because I couldn’t come up with five categories for the producers to fit into this trading card template generator we found on the internet,” said the pasty. “Just tell your readers that Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger are reyt good at making beats, and embed some Youtube clips so people can hear for themselves.”

“Reyt good?”

“Yes. Shut up.”

And with that the pasty was gone (I ate the pasty), and I found myself once more at the wheel of the Rap Bus, speeding along the M1, past Meadowhall, where those cooling towers used to be, back to Sheffield. So once again I’d fallen asleep at the wheel on the motorway and dreamt about talking food. The Patrick Stewart pasty had been nothing more than a figment of my diseased and drink-addled unconscious.

But wait! What was this in my pocket? A special set of print-out-and-then-cut-out-and-keep commemorative trading cards? How fortuitous!

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P.O.S.Drumroll (prod. P.O.S.)

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SimsBurn It Down (prod. Lazerbeak)

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Cecil OtterBoxcar Diaries (prod. Cecil Otter)

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DessaCall Off Your Ghost (prod. Paper Tiger)

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Mike MictlanGame Over (prod. Paper Tiger, Turbo Nemesis)

Doomtree – Bolt Cutter (prod. Cecil Otter, Lazerbeak, P.O.S.)

“Oh! And one more thing,” came the pasty’s voice through the Rap Bus stereo, interrupting my Vengaboys cassette. “Make sure to end the thing by posting that video of the whole Doomtree crew performing Team The Best Team in a car park using the stereo in their tour van to play the beat because it’s one of the coolest things ever. Make it so. BYE!!!”

www.doomtree.net

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Damnation Festival – Part Three

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Editors’ Note: Astute readers will have noticed that we’re fond of breaking things into several serialised parts here at Demon Pigeon. That’s because more parts means more articles and therefore more output for less actual work. The problem with Damnation Festival is that it’s a compact, one-day affair. Spoilsports. Not even we are lazy enough to try and milk a triptych of articles out of a 12-hour festival. Until now, that is.

Rather than arbitrarily breaking the event into three or more chronological chapters as we normally would, we’ve instead decided to present to you the same review, written from three different and entertaining points of view from the assorted writing staff who took themselves off to Leeds for the day. It’s basically a bit like Rashomon, except with less Toshiro Mifune and more Carcass. The final episode comes to you courtesy of Will Downes, who filed this report on the inside of a Burger King carton.

This year, it seems all the pigeons came home to roost at Damnation Festival, hosted as ever at the University Of Leeds. I saw none of my fellow pigeoneers (apologies, it was very selfish of me) and with the exception of a few texts to berate those not attending I remained a lone, solitary figure, absolutely intent on remaining engrossed in the spectacle before me. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. However, as I had left buying tickets to this late I had little choice but to embrace technology and use Passbook on my phone. That means my ticket never actually existed, and my permission to enter the event existed only on some weird and ethereal metaphysical plane. I have no idea why I have never done this before. I decree that we are now officially in the future.

Being bloody starving, I pastied up, bought a beer and prepared for the day. ‘These are some lucky students,’ I mused; although in my day, beer was significantly cheaper. So take that young people.

Like a moth to the flame I made my way to the Eyesore stage which, from now on, we shall just refer to as the Demon Pigeon stage (it sounds much better anyway). It’s as if they went through all our respective playlists and decided to make a festival stage just for us. Which was nice of them. First up were Dirge. I had neither seen them previously nor heard any of their musics, and, to my delight, they were just so bloody heavy that I became worried I might over-exert myself too early and end up partied out, spewing into a small paper cup. No worries there reader, I survived. Not just a clever name either; they played a doomy, groovy dirge that had me hooked. Instantly added to my mental playlist.

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Pausing in thought, I had to make a decision as to which bands to prioritise, and it was quickly confirmed that the DP stage was going to be home. I just didn’t want to miss anyone playing that stage, and quite rightly so.

Tides From Nebula are a lovely Pink Floyd-esque instrumental post rock/prog band that I had my reservations about when I first caught sight of them. They all look so lovely and nice. Not very metal but it turned out that wasn’t what I was looking for. Who’d-a-thunk it. Really good guitarists too, if that’s your thing. Year Of No Light were delayed beyond belief and started roughly 20 minutes late. Frustrating for band and audience alike. This would screw up the timetable for the rest of the day, and any forays to other stages would be hampered. Even so, I’m not overly disappointed as what followed was pretty fucking fantastic.

Bravely, I abandoned my post, and went to search for the main stage, if only to see how quickly I could get from Cult Of Luna to Carcass later on. I had never heard of Shining (Nor) and had expected a black metal band. I think there is another band of the same moniker somewhere and I believe there is also one of those newfangled moving picture shows with that name. Anyway, I got to the stage to be confronted by Heavy Jazzcore. If that’s not a word, it is now, so there. These guys are total pros and must really practise a lot. I was suitably impressed by the lead singer flitting seamlessly from guitar to saxophone. These guys could be massive. In fact, they probably already are and I hadn’t noticed due to advancing old git syndrome, in which case apologies for my indiscretion.

So, knowing that the DP stage was delayed I stayed for the remainder of the set and headed back for a band I know I like. Rosetta were, as expected, fantastic. But if I were to be picky (and I am), they were a little rusty at first; boy, did they rein it in. By the end the performance was absolutely flawless. Mouths were left agape around the room, my own included. The void demanded to be filled with something, and beer and nicotine seemed as good an idea as any. Fortunately, the smoking area was right behind the DP stage: win-win. I could destroy both my lungs AND my hearing without unduly exerting myself.

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Now for a band I fully expected to dislike. The Ocean are one of these bands that everyone bleats on about, and because of my natural aversion to ‘the popular’ I have never listened to them and had only previously seen roughly five minutes of them at another Damnation a few years back, on that miniscule stage up the stairs. I liked them more than I expected to; not great by any means but they ain’t no slouches. Not sure why they had boobs in their visuals though.

Perhaps emboldened by the bosoms, I was now feeling braver than a very brave thing. I thought I would give the main stage another go and see Godseed. This was a silly error on my part because they were awful. The singer Gaahl (sic) was in a semi-famous band called Gorgoroth, who are also awful, as it turns out. Life lessons aside, there was not really much to take from this, although it freed up more precious time for fermented liquids and fags; lovely, lovely fags.

Back to the DP stage, then. Pigeons away!

Crippled Black Phoenix are a mish-mash of everything and then some. So different from anything on the bill, it was highly refreshing and they were not daunted in the slightest. Good set too, if not really my thing. Having obviously not learnt my lesson and with the noblest of intentions, I then went to see Katatonia. With a little spare time before their set, I had a bit of a sit-down because my back was absolutely killing me. Before long, I’m going to be that guy at festivals that sits on a fold-out chair, even for the bands I like. What happened to all those years?

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Goths were everywhere and this is not usually a good sign; but I have had a soft spot for Katatonia since I picked up Tonight’s Decision in a bargain bin when Andy’s Records went out of business. That was ten years ago now. It feels like yesterday. It’s been so long since I’ve given them a spin that I didn’t recognise anything they played, but then I never expected to. I stayed for as long as I dared, but still in agony I left early to make sure I had a good view for the best band in the world.

Cult Of Luna, along with releasing the record of the year are, I am reliably informed, amazing live. I have lived to regret choosing Immortal over them at Hellfest, and Paul Pigeon has taken every opportunity to mock me for it ever since. He’s a great friend like that.

No superlatives can do CoL justice. The vast majority of the set pulled moments from Vertikal and Eternal Kingdom; I was in heaven. Rarely do you get to see a band in this moment; when everything is going like clockwork and they are as one unit, in perfect harmony. I was unbelievably delighted, and genuinely almost in tears at points (bloke tears obviously). Just wow. Go see them while they’re hot or you will regret it forever. There was just one sour note: The fucking photographers were seriously annoying during this set. Coming and going with their stupid backpacks full of lenses, sticking their massive great whacking flashguns up in your view, as if the gig is a publicity photocall and you haven’t paid money to be there. It seems that owning and operating a camera gives you the right to barge through people and act generally cuntish. I get that they’re trying to do a job, but it wouldn’t be that difficult to show some respect for the punters who pay for the whole thing. I am genuinely surprised no-one lamped at least one of them.

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I would also like to issue an apology at this point because if it wasn’t for Carcass, a band I have loved since I was a wee boy and had never seen live, I would have gone to see Conan, the second-best band to come from Liverpool. The first-best band were starting on the main stage.

Carcass were as tight as a gnat’s sock. All the songs, every single one you ever wanted to hear, played flawlessly. They gave a lot of time to their new material and rightly so, as it’s the second-best album of the year. I was so pleased to see them finally, but as the set went on, my broken body made its protests felt. My back was so sore, I could barely headbang, and that was all I wanted to do. I can’t be disappointed though, as it was worth the 14-year wait. A nice touch at the end of the set had former drummer Ken Owen coming to the stage, and he obviously has the desire still there. There was rapturous applause for him and they followed with one of the few good songs off Swansong.

The day was over, and with what little energy that remained to me, I hurried off to the train station. No cool bin hangouts for me. Instead, the train was cancelled. Bus replacement service. Burger King. Best sleep ever.

The end.

www.damnationfestival.co.uk

Pigeon Playlists: Pearl Jam – 10×10

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By now you may have seen our stupendously over indulgent deification of Pearl Jam’s latest, Lightning Bolt. Not content with spewing over a thousand words of hyperbole over it, we thought we’d also celebrate with a Pigeon Playlist. Let’s get some mileage out of this sucker.

Given that their career is now ten albums deep, fulfilling the title of their first, we thought we’d put together an album of the best tracks from the band’s career, but limited to one track from each album. The result is a snapshot of their career to date, and proof, if proof be needed, that Pearl Jam put the lie to the law of diminishing returns.

Ten tracks from ten albums, from a band whose first album was called Ten. Let’s call it 10×10, shall we?

Disagree? Put your own track listing in the comments and we’ll all take turns laughing at you.

Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

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(Monkeywrench)

As you grow ever closer to whatever end you may find, you can notice yourself accumulating a lot of rituals. I have dozens of them. I have a ritual for making coffee in exactly the right way (stir as you pour in the water); a ritual for curating the music I have on my phone (you don’t want to know); a ritual for closing down the pop up ads on an illegal football match stream (less of a ritual and more a fraught exercise in malware avoidance) and most importantly, I have a ritual for new Pearl Jam albums.

I’ve mentioned before what a rabid Pearl Jam fanboy I am. You remember that, right? They were the be-all and end-all of my adolescence, and every two years I used to celebrate the release of a new album in the same way, when, like clockwork, they would arrive. The night before release I’d listen to all the albums back to back, to prepare myself for the inevitable wonderfulness of the newborn. It’s a bit like the nesting that pregnant women do, except nothing is actually achieved.

The first time I did this was with Vitalogy, so I only had two albums to listen to. Then, I got up bright and early on a Monday morning and headed to Our Price in Canterbury, queued up (there was only me there) and ran back to school as fast as my chubby little legs would carry me, in the hope I wouldn’t get beaten for my lateness by a scowling and decidedly un-grunge teacher, clutching the plastic bag carrying the excellently-packaged CD to my sweaty little breast the whole day. For No Code it was similar, but with the Our Price in the Lakeside Shopping Centre, and me giving considerably less of a shit if I made it to college on time. By the time Yield came around it was the Our Price in Sunderland and me not remotely caring if I had lectures that day.

These days a new Pearl Jam album has been out for weeks before I even realise it, encased as I am in the shroud of middle-aged alienation and befuddlement; but the ritual is still there, like a pair of warm slippers. Ten records into their career, however, it now takes a couple of days to get through all the re-recorded classic albums, the two-disc rarities albums, not to mention their 759 live albums, and then the albums proper, all before the main event.

Listening to the band’s entire back catalogue unlocks a flood of memories, feelings and other such mental detritus, like scanning the index pages of my entire life. I recall all the friendships that have revolved around this band over the years, from my best friend in college with whom I shared a radio show, whose jingle was crafted out of a song from Vitalogy. The same one who phoned me out of the blue years later when I was absolutely skint to tell me he’d bought me a ticket to go and see them at Wembley, so that I might finally witness my heroes in the flesh, all because four years earlier, he hadn’t been able to get me a ticket to see them on the No Code tour. I think that still ranks as the single nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

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I thought about my current friend who is about to enter fatherhood and how I know for a fact that his son will spend most of his first weeks listening to this new Pearl Jam album, possibly whilst being read the Morrissey autobiography, proving once and for all that being a Pearl Jam fan is no guarantee of taste. I also thought about how I’ll never fully forgive my mum for taping over the MTV Unplugged VHS I had with a random episode of Coronation Street. God damn you, Mum.

I remembered feeling completely lost and sad after the Roskilde tragedy, when nine fellow fans lost their lives during Pearl Jam’s set. I remember being at the front of the crowd six years later when the band played their first festival since the accident and how overwhelmed by emotion they were and we were, the band bringing a storming set to a close with a tear strewn Yellow Ledbetter that had band and crowd both weeping. Personally, I just had dust in my eye, obviously.

I also thought about how predictable reviewers and other music hacks are when they talk about Pearl Jam’s flagging powers and their lack of decent albums since whichever was the last one they actually bothered listening to. Seriously, they’ve had a purple patch eight albums long, with every new record being well above the standard set by the rest of the American ‘AOR’ market, even the slightly lacklustre last one. Beat that, U2.

Lastly, I looked at my kids and hoped that they too might find something in their teenage years that will last as long for them; that when they inevitably find themselves facing moments of darkness and strife, they have something that will pull them back from the brink, like the song Footsteps did for me.

This isn’t a band to me anymore, it’s a mythos, a thread that has existed as part of my life for so long that I can’t separate it from the rest of what is me. They’ve been part of me for 22 of my 34 years. I’m not sure there’s anything else that can make that claim, besides my actual meat and bones. All of which is to say that if you’re expecting an impartial review from Demon Pigeon dot com then as usual, you are shit out of luck.

So, with back catalogue inhaled and one-thousand-word preamble written (which will likely prevent anyone from making it as far as the actual review), here we go:

It’s great. Best thing they’ve done in ages. Gone is the awkwardness of Backspacer, which now feels like a band trying desperately to get an album out in time for their 20th anniversary. Where that album was filled with passable but forgettable pop tunes, Lightning Bolt is crammed from start to finish with the kind of masterful songwriting that Pearl Jam do so well. If you enjoy hooks, then this is like walking into a giant out-of-town fishing emporium that’s having a BOGOF and a January sale, simultaneously. Five listens in, I am very impressed; the likes of Sirens, Infallible, Mind Your Manners, Yellow Moon and Future Days are all easy contenders for a ranking alongside the greats of their back catalogue. They’ve gone balls-out epic (that’s a noun, not an adjective, kids) for this album, and there’s easily six or seven of the 13 tracks assembled that could fling them back to the top of the singles charts, given the right confluence of events. It’s brilliant, quite frankly.

But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

All the points out of all the points.

pearljam.com

Guest Blog: Blood, Set & Fears Part Three

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Editor’s Note: 

Once again, we welcome back Miles Watts and his cohorts, of Zomblogalypse fame. We like it when Miles writes for us, because not only does the reflected glamour of his filmmaking adventures make us feel far more dynamic and accomplished than we actually are, he’s also really nice.

Some months have passed since his last chronicle from the infection zone, in which more unwitting dupes were turned by the Zomblogalypse plague. Join Miles as he charts, especially for us, the exponential spread of his unique bioengineered virus.

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A lot can happen in four months: Climate change. A full and manly beard. Nearly half a baby. For us at MilesTone Films, a lot has happened and a lot is promising to happen. Winter is coming, and that usually involves taking stock, sitting back in leather armchairs next to fires with our fingers steepled together and deliberating on the year’s successes and frustrations. For us filmmakers, November/December is typically a time for winding down and preparing for semi-hibernation (and a time when no-one answers their email) as next year’s plans largely remain a vague to-do list.

Except this year hasn’t been typical. Not in the slightest.

Our last two blogs detailed our trip to Cannes to shake things up and come back with a deal or two for our zombie web series Zomblogalypse. One sales agent and a few Top Secret (by necessity—sorry, fans of secrets) irons in the fire later, Zomblog: The Movie is on a steady course into production. Scriptwriting sessions galore, meetings, monster designs; it’s been all-zombies-go.

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Post-Cannes, we haven’t rested on our laurels, and in a slick, not-at-all groan-worthy segue, laurels were what it was all about for Whoops!, our ‘gory family comedy’ that premiered at the wonderful Raindance Film Festival in September. About 4% of feature films submitted get chosen for the festival, a statistic that did not go unnoticed (by us, because we kept telling people) as we watched the film with an appreciative audience, before heading to a very loud London pub to sleepily toast our victory.

A week later, producer and directors gathered to discuss what to do with the film, after (and during) the festival circuit. Our last movie, CrimeFighters, had a cinema and festival run and then… well, we decided to put that one up on YouTube for all to enjoy for free. Thankfully, the film acted as a calling card and started up a great relationship with a producer called Steve Piper who was looking for a new creative team.

Which brings us to now, and the possibilities that next year is currently shining in our faces.What we’d like to do is see Whoops! in cinemas and in people’s homes in 2014. We’re starting work on writing the follow-up movie with our other producer, Sam Robinson, as soon as the New Year hangovers fade. Zomblogalypse continues apace, and we have a glut of other movies we’d like to make and release over the next few years, with a group of filmmakers who share the same vision as we do: To blow things up in fields, torture actors and tell stories. Because that’s what it’s all about (mostly the middle one). Oh, and also to develop the York filmmaking scene and all that stuff.

Happy hibernating, and don’t forget to ignore your email!

Damnation Festival – Part Two

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Editors’ Note: Astute readers will have noticed that we’re fond of breaking things into several serialised parts here at Demon Pigeon. That’s because more parts means more articles and therefore more output for less actual work. The problem with Damnation Festival is that it’s a compact, one-day affair. Spoilsports. Not even we are lazy enough to try and milk a triptych of articles out of a 12-hour festival. Until now, that is.

Rather than arbitrarily breaking the event into three or more chronological chapters as we normally would, we’ve instead decided to present to you the same review, written from three different and entertaining points of view from the assorted writing staff who took themselves off to Leeds for the day. It’s basically a bit like Rashomon, except with less Toshiro Mifune and more Carcass. This next episode has been prepared by Alex Dewie, as his Demon Pigeon debut.

Having just joined the prestigious ranks of Demon Pigeon I decided I needed some proper journalistic training before I embarked on my first assignment. I figured the best way to start would be to get myself to a university open day and see what was on offer. Venturing north to the beautiful and incredibly cold city of Leeds, I attended a special event being held across their student union complex. The alcohol was cheap and plentiful which helped to ease my way around the various rooms, each of which offered a range of talks on a variety of subjects.
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First up, Biology: a group of gentlemen known as The Ocean presented an audiovisual piece primarily about the ocean itself. Accompanied by two guitarists, a bassist, keyboardist and two drummists, the main speaker barked his views on undersea environments whilst footage of a naked woman being strangled by an octopus was projected behind him. All manner of arthropods and crustacea floated by majestically on the screen and several launched jets of aquatic spunk in perfect time with the beat of the drumming men.
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Overcome with the reception of the prospective students in the hall, the lecturer climbed onto the balcony and dived into the crowd and then—I don’t know how best to describe this— was actually passed along, literally on a ‘sea’ of hands. One could almost say he was ‘surfing the crowd’, to coin a phrase.
[NOTE TO EDITOR – PLEASE INSERT OCEAN PIC HERE]
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All that footage of water splashing about made me very thirsty and, having rendered it temporarily quenched with a can of Tetley’s, I went to see a theology don host an event entitled God Seed. As seemed to be the theme for this open day, he had musical accompaniment too (same sort of abrasive guitars, loud drumming behaviour etc). With his face painted a ghostly white, accentuated with grey streaks he appeared quite cadaverous—one could almost say he was ‘painted like a corpse’, to coin a phrase.
The presentation itself was rather ritualistic and focused heavily on paganism and satanism and was conducted in a mixture of Norwegian and English, which was nice. At one point someone yelled “Play Gorgoroth!“. This is not a character I am familiar with, but then I don’t read a lot of Shakespeare. In any event, this man was not about to perform a play of any description as he bellowed in rage and then wailed in despair. Perhaps not the best way to get students to enroll on the course, but the audience seemed keen enough.

As the day wore on it was clear the event was proving extremely popular with the attendees, many of whom were very vocal during the presentations and one even showed her breasts, such was her enthusiasm for the Vallenfyre session in the Terrorizer hall. It wasn’t exactly clear to me what their course subject was, but from the look of them I assumed it was bricklaying or badger culling.

Although I was tired and somewhat inebriated, it was clear there was palpable excitement for the final session of the day—pathology. A Liverpudlian professor held forth on all manner of forensic dissections, autopsical procedures, post-mortem degradation by bacteria, and occasionally threw cans of beer at the audience. With a banner behind him proclaiming Carcass, it was obvious this was to be a gory 90 minutes. The lecture used detailed photographic images to highlight ailments such as twisted diseased genitals and fallen-out-of-a-man’s-head eyeballs, although no theory on cure or treatment was ever proffered.

The pictures (along with the customary musical backing) did, however, inspire several swarthy young men to remove their tops and have a bit of a sweaty wrestle at the front of the hall. Eventually a rather enormous bearded man (presumably the victor) was held aloft and passed towards the stage to be presented with his prize (a cuddle from a security guard). The music itself had a jarring, grating sound—almost metallic—and the subject matter was exclusively morbid. One could perhaps describe it as ‘metallic death’, to coin a phrase.

So. Overall, I learned that lecturers today are much louder and more aggressive than I remember from when I was a student, yet university alcohol is still incredibly cheap and above all I am excellent at coining phrases.

Pelagial – A film by Craig Murray – score by The Ocean Collective:

Monkey3 – The 5th Sun

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(Napalm Records)

I’ve chewed through so many of these sprawling epics of instrumental psychedelia by now, I often find myself struggling to tell them apart—so I know how you, O reader of many album reviews, must be feeling. You might well wonder just how many permutations of loud, bass-rich, slow-jamming dadrock the universe, in all its infinite complexity, can feasibly contain; I know I am.

The trick to true stone rock mastery is in identifying the subtle different flavours of heavy instro-jamming that can be found. To take some recent examples: Earthless like to create a raucous aggressive pony of a riff, smack it gently on the rump with a shotgun blast and then try to ride it around without spilling their bongwater. On the other extreme, a band like Causa Sui prefers to take us on long, breathless runs through sun-dappled meadows where all our clothes fall off, and then off we go for a nice relaxing cognac in a gîte. Switzerland’s Monkey3, meanwhile, are somewhere high above us all, drifting around the universe in a gleaming intercosmic craft woven from strands of space metal and ambient lounge-jazz, beaming back the sounds of what they see. It’s all pretty cool, really.

There’s a machine-like quality to Monkey3’s sound; the loping, lazy turns of its rhythm possess precision, like an enormous, eternally meshing internal clockwork; the squealing guitar leads and grinding organs that outgas in vivid curlicues, like coronal mass ejections; and a shimmering halo of reverb that blankets the work in a furious, wincing light, even when it goes dark—like staring at your warped reflection in the glowing hull of something completely alien.

And then you’ve got the other side of the equation; almost every song on The 5th Sun reduces itself to bare components at some stage, before then rebuilding into a stirring post-rock crescendo, all the way to its original pitch and beyond. Some songs do it more than once. On the way, Monkey3 take for stepping stones unusual, amorphous ambiences that owe a debt to Brian Eno, or the slick orbital funk of Air, encrusted with snappy thrusts of Rhodes piano and zero-G clouds of synthesiser. Circles and Suns are the obvious examples, and both present a compelling blend of atmospheres.

Though it’s nearly an hour long, most of the songs on The 5th Sun manage to resist the plodding post-rock trap of interminable compositional length. This is something Monkey3 have always been good at; doing a lot with a little. Even the relatively slimline five-minutes-or-fewer tunes like Birth of Venus, Pintao and The Ship manage to find the momentum to visit some unexpected corners in their short spans. Icarus and Once We Were… are given more space to stretch, and coincidentally, both find themselves bouyed up by roaring choirs by their ends.

I didn’t even know what I was going to write when I started this, and would you look at that. I’ve done a whole thing. About a record. Crazy times we’re living in.

Buy this album, it’s good.

www.monkeythree.com