July 24, 2016
Today's Hotness: Ski Saigon, Urusei Yatsura, Mincer Ray
>> One of the more mysterious and evocative projects we've followed here at Clicky Clicky in recent years has been Mooncreatures. Although the music and premise of its final long-player was exciting, we were disappointed when the London band and the LP's fictive narrative intersected in reality, and Mooncreatures announced (sort of?) it was no more. Anyway, band mastermind Rhys Griffiths has returned with the even higher-concept project Ski Saigon, whose debut release Brings The Storm Cloud is due toward the end of the summer. The six-song set is inspired by '60s Cambodian pop music and concerns a fictional historical (wait, what?) narrative about French soldiers tiring of the tropical climate of Cambodia in the mid-20th century and setting about creating indoor snow skiing facilities in Saigon and Phnom Penh. Really, you just read that. Brings The Storm Cloud opens with a short, shimmering audio approximation of those blurry scene transitions in film and TV that suggests the commencement of a flashback. As soon as listeners have oriented themselves to the tune, "Wintergarden," it vanishes, and then the EP begins in earnest with the ensuing, fully realized "Sweet Dreams In The Botanics." The mid-tempo swayer rides a steady canned beat, above which sustained synth and simple guitar chords and a pleasantly lazy lead guitar obscure hushed lyrics. The tune's escapist fantasia is amplified by a 45-second coda wherein the aforementioned synth chords give way to an insectoid drone and -- curiously -- the sound of water (although we expect it is easier to present the sound of water than snow). Art Is Hard Records issues Brings The Storm Cloud Aug. 26 in a limited edition of 100 32-page book/CD bundles, as well as a digital download. Pre-order the book here, and click through the embed below to acquire the digital files. The demise of Mooncreatures felt very premature, and we're quite excited by the possibilities presented by Ski Saigon, either as an ongoing project or at least as a sign that Mr. Griffiths has no intention of quitting music any time. Stream the aforementioned "Wintergarden" and "Sweet Dreams In The Botanics" via the Bandcamp embed below.
>> We've been holding out hope for a good six years that the mighty Glaswegian indie rock combo Projekt A-Ko would return to us. Imagine our surprise when we received word in our inbox earlier this spring that not Projeckt A-Ko, but the trio's notable, '90s-spawned (and we suppose better-known) precursor Urusei Yatsura, would beat the three to the new release bin in September. Well, technically, it's old music, but it is nonetheless exciting. On Sept. 2, the choicest cuts from Urusei Yatsura's highly regarded BBC recordings (which included, among others, five sessions for John Peel and three for Steve Lamacq) will be released as an LP via London's Rocketgirl. The press materials accompanying the announcement speak, with the benefit of distance and hindsight, of Urusei Yatsura's music shining particularly bright when recorded under the constraints radio sessions necessarily present. And it is hard to argue with the results. Fans can hear a particularly fizzing iteration of the rocking 1996 A-side "Phasers On Stun" below. Rocketgirl will release You Are My Urusei Yatsura on 12" vinyl, CD and as a digital download Sept. 2. The LPs are pressed to snappy neon pink media and available in a very limited edition of 300 pieces, so you had better get to pre-ordering if you want this. To be fair to Urusei Yatsura/Projekt A-ko's Fergus Lawrie, he has produced new music over the last seven years, including some engaging "haloed guitar" guitar noise pieces with his project Angel of Everyone Murder. But given the blinding excellence of Projekt A-Ko's sole LP, 2009's Yoyodyne [hypertext!], we remain hopeful that that...erm... project will also be resuscitated. In the meantime, we've the Urusei Yatsura collection to look forward to: stream the aforementioned "Phasers On Stun," recorded for the BBC Evening Session May 8, 1996, via the Soundcloud embed below. Speaking of, fans should pay VERY close attention to the UY Soundcloud, as it features a trove of material, including some cuts found too late to be considered for inclusion on You Are My Urusei Yatsura, like this magical acoustic take on "Burriko Girl."
>> The charm of lo-fi, and particularly '90s lo-fi, is that it characteristically sounds thrown together, but still sometimes fumbles its way to transcendence. Sometimes that's just the sound (the example we think of it this Perfect Pussy interview that describes recording clean basic tracks and then layering noise), and sometimes things are actually, you know, thrown together (see every live thing Crazy Horse did with Neil Young). Although we've previously deemed the act mid-fi, Mincer Ray's delightful, be-flanneled recent digital EP Early Morning Am Moritz firmly falls within the latter category. A brief note at the Berlin-based act's Soundcloud reports the short stack of songs was "[c]onceived & recorded to cassette in 3 hours & 47 minutes (more or less)." The collection commences strongly with the yearning, mid-tempo, and alt.-countrified strummer "Everything Is Green," a should-be hit whose straightforward presentation can't hold down the sweeping melody of the big, lovelorn verse. With almost no warning the verse become its chorus, which points to an anthemic, ripping guitar solo that aspires towards David Pajo's amazing face-melter from Palace Brothers' epic "Horses." The balance of Early Morning Am Moritz isn't quite as memorable, although the concise basher "Ned Norris" is bracing to the point of infectious and the loose and gritty "Dine" wouldn't feel entirely out of place on Viva Last Blues. Mincer Ray's EP hit the Internerds in late June, and you can stream the entire thing via the Soundcloud embed below (click through to download all five numbers as .wav files). The set is also now available on cassette via the Chicago and Berlin-based Shaky Tooth Tapes. We last wrote about Mincer Ray right here in 2014.