Issue 83

ULTRA2012 NORTH - Amsterdam – Dansmakers - 12/03/2012

Covering yourself in a litre bottle of olive oil and standing stock still as this oil courses down your face and torso in front of your audience is not everyone’s way of celebrating a closure of a triumphant gig, but at the time it seemed wholly appropriate.

ULTRA2012 WEST - Rotterdam – Worm - 11/03/2012

The prism that is ULTRA issued another, as yet undiscovered shaft of colour forth from its complex form. Wild dancing ensued – the Roodkapje lot turned up in bridal wear and Incendiary, Subroutine and ULTRA deejays were told to stop making people so happy by playing tunes they wanted to dance to.

ULTRA2012 SOUTH - Eindhoven – TAC - 10/03/2012

Euphoria gripped the room – people young and old cut some rug, ran round in circles, talked incessantly about the meaning of art, stole posters and hugged and made up. An absolute triumph and TAC should be proud as punch they pulled this off, this was near legendary.

Adi Newton Presents - A Chronology of Dvation in the Melkweg Mediaroom

Indeed, what strikes you about a lot of the work on show is that, though known as an artist primarily concerned with exploring some of the most modernist aspects of making music (right through from The Future to today, by way of Human League, alliances with Throbbing Gristle and Clock DVA and TAG), his visual ideas are incredibly arcane, strikingly so.

ULTRA2012 EAST - Nijmegen – Extrapool and Onderbroek - 09/03/2012

Out of all the nights this was the one that felt closest in spirit to what went on - and this was probably due to the fact that the programmers were original ULTRAs themselves and demanded  high standards to do their movement justice.

Thomas White - Yalla!

a perfect accompaniment to any Sunday morning, whether you’re just getting in or just waking up

God Save the Queen – Centraal Museum Utrecht

But most of all it is the fact that – whatever the show’s flaws – this stuff is on show in one place and recognised as being worth showing as an alternative – or warning - to what’s happening now, culturally. And this is a good thing and a good thing that is lasting, I hope. 

Space Siren – Mr Wagner Please Give Us a Call

...this record creates an imaginary world of its own, conjuring up spells at will, hell-bent on a strange kind of enchantment. There are some great songs on here.

Smack Wizards, Space Siren and Zea – SUB 071, Leiden 23/2/12

This time around, blessed with an armoury of Gothicke, metallic pop and blessed with a real shit-kicker attitude – that swagger that only provincials have when they feel confident – the band delivered in spades.

Side one: Home Taping is Thrilling Music

I can still recall the first album I taped: Not the Nine O Clock News’ Hedgehog Sandwich. It was recorded tape-to-tape by placing two mono, low-end radio cassette players speaker-to-speaker and pressing play and record. There is very little to recommend using this approach, a point perfectly illustrated by the finished cassette in this instance, as halfway through my mum comes in to ask suspiciously what we’re up to.

Incendiary go for a drink with April and New YX

Bands seem to have a bit more lip in Holland, and not the sort of attitude that feels stereotyped or hyped, or false. They just seem more cheeky, bored of being told what a band “should” do by the apparatchiks in Hilversum, more up for having their own brand of having “a laugh and a say”.

The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know

Now and again there’s an attempt to rouse the troops, such with as Another Bed, or Kill It In The Morning. But even then the record seems to feel more comfortable to work out its existence in a minor key. It may be grim but it’s sustaining stuff.

Johnny 5th Wheel & the Cowards – Spike / Yes That’s Right We’re Stealing Your Soul

It kind of gives a kind of nod Lonnie Donnegan too. I think… Oh, and the whole experience is over in 5 minutes flat. As I said it’s fun stuff, nowt wrong with that.

White Hills – Frying On This Rock

It’s the simplicity which makes their music so brilliant, there’s absolutely no fat or indulgence anywhere – like a Liberty Ship, things are built on the most basic and hardened of elements

Cumbia Cumbia 1 and 2

Cumbia is essentially happy, party music and one that spans a great deal of variants from electric, pysch/psychedelic, big band, traditional music and traditional dance accompaniments. This is stuff you should be cutting some rug and getting pissed to, to be frank.

PsychicEyeClix - Serious Idiots

Mangled Limbs has the semblance of a tune – led by a sad female vocal – but it’s still crushed like a block of refill underneath the blurping beats and synth smears.

USRNM – Instant Message EP

There’s something incredibly weird about this EP, it’s as if the music can’t communicate fully, like it’s been deliberately stifled but that must be the policy…

The Secret Love Parade - Mary Looking Ready

It’s very girly stuff, lots of dreamy songs… falling in love on New Year’s Eve, songs called After School…  but the arrangements and sense of touch are tremendous; it’s difficult to listen to this and feel you’re being conned or having to excuse the band any failings or dishonesty

Luik – Owls

There’s a rich, confident atmosphere throughout, and frankly the track listing means sack-all in that it’s such a well-balanced record. You can dip in and enjoy it at any point.

Trogons – Life At The Planetarium

(That feeling of) whacky pastoralism may very well be totally in thrall to Henry Cow but sod it; it’s all enormously appealing music after a couple of spins.  Well worth five minutes of your time.  

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