Membranes – “What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away”

memb 19

Virgo season. Summer is coming to an end. Discarded knickers drifting away from the Central Blackpool Pier, just about to sink to the sea bottom…

Allora, where have proper seasons gone? Central European continental belt, where  Zagreb lies and belongs, obviously lost them. The varied beauty of temperate climate with distinct four seasons started to fade two decades ago. God damn the Sun. God damn the naked apes. What nature gives, nature takes away. And what about (The) Membranes? After having orbited in the cold black space for couple of years, old codgers fell from the dark skies & landed on Earth (North England, Blackpool). Unrelenting bassist & band leader John Robb knows no obstacles. „What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away“ is a double album comprised of dark side tunes with different emotional resonance (what was previously grief after the loss of father & contemplation on mortality and miraculous origin of life, now is concern for primordial mother). At the first look the songs may seem loosely connected in a conceptual manner reminiscent of prog-rock excesses. But the fundamental quality of the new record is closer to late ’70s British art-rock tradition. The prominent role of bass guitar, implementation of dub techniques in the studio & immersion in Gothic imagery come from post-punk past times. And the alchemy of all the elements is pure the 21st century Membranes: Nick Brown – guitar and keyboards, Peter Byrchemore (ex The Nightingales) – guitar & Rob Haynes (ex Gold Blade) – drums. The choir inclusion would be a real surprise if they hadn’t worked with them in concerts on different occasions in recent years. „What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away“ is certainly  their most grandiose recording up to date. Is this The Membranes’ crown achievement? Time will tell. They’ve kept their mature inspiration in enviable form, only the psychedelic dressing applied is earthier and in abundance. There are no songs that I’d recognize as “filler”. In overall the sequence works fine and keeps my attention from start to finish. The mournful guitar melodies (e.g. What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away, Deep In The Forest Where Memories Linger) are my current favorites. It’s important to mention that Membranes are great live band. I was lucky to have watched them in concert when they promoted “Dark Matter / Dark Energy”; as “a last minute” opening act they played before Gang of Four  in Zagreb. Keep your eye on their tour dates.

Spring: The City Is An Animal

Summer: Deep In The Forest Where Memories Linger

Autumn: Demon Seed / Demon Flower

Winter: Pandora’s Box

 

memb tour 19

Window shop: Louder Than War

Englishmen in Europe

Meninblack in Europe (revisited)

A bittersweet tribute to synth makeover and aural decline of The Stranglers. They couldn’t fall from grace anyhow.

Manifesto

Aural Sculpture Manifesto

Feline (1982-83)

It’s A Small World

All Roads Lead To Rome

Paradise

European Female

Savage Breast

Ships That Pass In The Night

Aural Sculpture (1983-85)

No Mercy

Here And There

Laughing

Let Me Down Easy

Souls

North Winds Blowing

Through the looking-glass, and what they found there…

Meninblack in USSR

Vladimir and Olga*

Vladimir and the Beast

Hot Club

Vladimir Goes to Havana

*The strange circumstances which lead to Vladimir and Olga requesting rehabilitation in a Siberian health resort as a result of stress in furthering The People’s Policies

stranglers-ljubljana-1978

Summer of ’78 – The Stranglers in Ljubljana & Zagreb

Remembrance of… Pop Music!

Last year Freaks R Us (The Pop Group themselves) re-issued “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” (1980/2016) which was far too long out of print. They didn’t stick to the song sequence of the original album: “One Out Of Many” track is out, “We Are All Prostitutes” single is now in. I won’t miss the former much – it would have worked better as B-side material even first time around (for example “Forces of Oppression” could have been A-side of never planned single). Freaks R Us really could have included both songs and added other time period related songs for the CD issue thou. CD format easily tolerates extra minutes of music. Anyway, in many cases I liked the record industry practice (or wish of the artists) in UK which kept strong (lead) single separate from the album, as had happened with fiery “She’s Beyond Good And Evil” single & “Y” LP the year before.

forhowlong

For the purpose of refreshed listening experience I’ve also re-imagined this album as 8-song mini LP (cut at 45 RPM!):

A1 Justice
A2 Blind Faith
A3 How Much Longer
A4 There Are No Spectators

B1 Forces Of Oppression
B2 Feed The Hungry
B3 Communicate
B4 Rob A Bank

front

A We Are All Prostitutes
B Amnesty International Report

Boys (still teenagers!) from Bristol didn’t like to be pigeonholed. They did hate word “rock” and what it had represented in their minds. With fucking passion! Were they good at it? Brilliant! Kudos. “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” (1980) album is as good as “Y” (1979) and as relevant today as it was almost four decades ago.

Boys Next Door (the Birthday Party), the Reactionaries (Minutemen) & perhaps Šarlo akrobata and Trobecove krušne peći from around these parts, among many other bands and music fans all around the world were in total awe!

Remind yourself of The Pop Group greatness and support the recent re-issue from Freaks R Us. Every record shop in town should have The Pop Group in stock for the sake of mental health of the dwindling new generations interested in groundbreaking and mind-blowing music. “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” is a cultural treasure in pop (!?) music. The tags and genre classifications are arbitrary here anyhow.

The last album “Honeymoon On Mars” (2016) ended up a victim of the studio approach in pop song-craft with too many unnecessary layers of electronic sounds, overdubs and banal samples. A step back from unexpected and decent (but symptomatically slicked) return with “Citizen Zombie”. Symbolic opposition and defiant stance would work better in live context (in studio controlled environment) in my humble opinion. I definitely like a poke of straight forward electronic tracks (e.g. “Zipperface”) but the album as a whole may be experienced as continuation of Mark Stewart’s solo albums rather than The Pop Group album. Listening to “Honeymoon On Mars” is like waiting in vain for the vital electricity of simple guitar/bass/drums setup (with a touch of electronica) to surface and rip up overbearing and predictable digital everything of everyday existence. No sweat and other body fluids on the bed sheets in the end. I wish that the sound aesthetic of this particular recording were in total opposite to the intentionally repulsive and frightening cover art. Nice effort thou. What I want I could get in concert, I guess.

For how much longer do we tolerate mass murder?

Until the bitter end. It seems.

“History doesn’t repeat itself, man always does.” – Voltaire

(via David Peace)

Saturnalia (Blood Money)

Well, obviously Unsane cannot be killed easily. They are like the city pest they summoned for the previous album “Wreck” (2012). Impossible to shake them off and get rid of them. And there’s no reason for that because Unsane excelled on “Sterilize”. Alongside self-titled debut (1991) and “Scattered, Smothered & Covered” (1995) this would be my favorite Unsane album.

Electric Wizard surprised me as well. I was bored with sprawling tedium of “Time to Die” (2014) and almost wrote them off. I was wrong. “Wizard Bloody Wizard” is brief and lean appearance for Electric Wizard standards, and indifferently evil as always. In the meantime I’ve also realized that I like Electric Wizard more than Sleep. I am especially fond of the second line-up with Lady Buckingham as additional guitarist.

(lately I’ve been reading the Red Riding 1974-1977-1980-1983 Quartet by David Peace, and although the background soundtrack for “1980” is comprised of Throbbing Gristle, Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, The Pop Group, Cabaret Voltaire, Whitehouse etc., these two recent bloody albums have similar impact on my twitching nerves)

We are fucked. See you in Hell.

 

APR ’17: Gnod – Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine

gnod 2017

Sve češće se spominju Gnod – free form rock kolektiv iz Manchestera (Salford). Ne, ne sviđa mi se baš cover art, ali je privukao pažnju. Gnod muzika se pak u potpunosti uklapa u soundtrack ove blog kolumne. Gnod – triple repetition psych noiseniks on fire. Comfort food (for thought). “Stick in the Wheel” ~ the Ex w / David Byrne kanalizirani kroz mentalne smetnje i  rhythm & (white) noise.

Ne Ne Ne,  sve što uvek volim reći jeste Ne Ne Ne!!!

(Disciplina kičme)

Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Das Leben ist nicht bunt / Geballt gehen wir zugrunde / Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Doppelnein / Drei mal Nein / Aber Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Sag Nein / Negativ Nein / Asyl-Exil / Hier nicht und da nicht / Frag mich nicht ich weiss es auch nicht / Aber Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Aber Nein / Hauptsache negativ Nein / Negativ Nein / Mit einem Schrei geht es zugrunde / Mit meinem Schrei / Sag Nein / Sag negativ Nein.

(Einstürzende Neubauten)