New Music of the Day : LXXIII – Dada For Spring Radio – Zita Swoon Group

189593_133769943361644_3544254_nA band who take creative inspiration from performances at Cabaret Voltaire (the venue not the band) nearly a hundred years ago are obviously the sort of band who are going to regard the equally wonderfully weird and mercurial Jezus Factory Records as the perfect outlet for their music. So a band who mix surrealism from another era with the creative explosion of 70’s new wave and particularly bands such as Talking Heads, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno is just another day in the office for the London based label.

Taken from their latest full length release Nothing That Is Everything, here the bands love of the avant-garde and multi-discipling approach blends costume and music, rhythm and poetry, mischief and confusion into a wonderful array that to assault the senses. And I mean assault in a good way,obviously.

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Run Back To The Safety of Town – Benny Zen and the Syphilis Madmen

140107462I always look forward to the little packages of CD’s that I am sent from Jezus Factory Records, they tend to be amongst the most challenging things I get to write about. Their admirable mission seems to be to bring Belgium experimental bands to wider exposure; lets face it, dEUS aside how many can you name? The current challenge before me is to discuss the relative musical merits of the wonderfully named Benny Zen and The Syphilis Madmen and even on first listen I realise that it is going to be a pleasant task.
Run Back To the Safety of the Town, is the second album from Peter Houben and his skewed folk-pop collective and it is filled with slightly left of centre, snappy and memorable tunes, short of length and long of title. It manages to pull together many diverse elements; the tongue in check accessibility of They Might Be Giants, the free thinking approach of David Byrne, glorious slices of 60’s pop and an often deadpan folk vocal style, but even that gives you only a vague starting point.

 
To balance the beautiful, simple lines and gorgeously retro Maybe The Time Has Come To Speak Louder songs like Isabel wander into a strange upbeat, kraut-pop territory, and the tumbling claustrophobic acoustic guitar thrusts of Lift Your Load are neatly balanced by the slow burning build of Become a Free Thinker Today. And as odd as these songs sound when I try and fall short of capturing adequately their essence in words, they manage to retain a wonderful easy, pop sensibility that will have you humming along by the second chorus and then pop back into your head in unguarded moments hours later. It is the mixture of slight madness…well eccentricity at the very least and accessibility that makes Run Back to The Safety of the Town a sure fire winner. They maybe not quite as boundary pushing as some of the other bands that they are associated with but they are far happier to go for memorable tunes over cult status. They may not be breaking down barriers but they have certainly left a few nasty dents in them.
Still, enough of my Belgian waffle, do yourself a favour and check them out today.

Drunkaleidoscope – Sukilove (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

 

product-8923940Like pretty much all of the music that emanates from the Jezus Factory roster, Sukilove are a band that defy easy labeling. You might try putting them into the pop pigeon hole but would then have to qualify it by saying that they are pop in the same way that Talking Heads were pop, warped, experimental and a million miles away from the usual 3 minute chart botherers that seem to rule the roost today. You could talk about the dance infused backbeats but then have to point out that if you try to dance to the likes of Lost you will just look like you are on Ketamin or an extra from a zombie movie. You might also mention the experimental nature of their sounds, flitting between styles and ideas not just between songs but within them, not in an overblown proggy sort of way but more in a wholesome Wilco sort of way.

The album wanders around in a drowsy, stoned, dream pop daze, sometimes hypnotic and repetitive and at other times beautifully and willfully unfocused. Thankfully I come from the Everett True school of not describing the music except in the vaguest terms and this album plays into my hands as each track would be an essay in it’s own right, the multi-layering of sound textures, the range of ideas that form it’s skewed template, the light and shade that infuses every moment of every song and the string of generic references that it picks up, remoulds and discards, seemingly at a whim. Like most good music if you want it described to you….listen to the damn record, that is what it is there for. All I will say is that you won’t have heard anything quite this simultaneously charming and challenging, chilled yet inspired for a long time, if you have you can bet that it was also from a Jezus Factory related band.

Rubies and Ruffians – Strumpets (Jezus Factory)

1234411_10151817974089035_769992593_nConsidering the musical endeavors the various members of Strumpets have on their musical CV (The Parallels, iH8 Camera and close connections to the heart of the Antwerp experimental cutting edge) Rubies and Ruffians is probably not what you expect it to be, unless of course you bought their 2010 debut in which case it is probably everything you expect it to be. If you are expecting free jazz art-noise or the sonic terrorism associated with the above acts then you will have to look elsewhere, Strumpets is a much dreamier affair. It wanders between psychedelic grooves and warped art school intelligence, surfs  Wilson-esque dream pop waves and lyrics that move between honest thoughts, allegory and impenetrable backs of literature.

Like most of the music released by Jezus Factory it is challenging and demanding of your repeated attention, but the time invested pays dividends as the initial hazy washes and dynamic shifts that make up the soundscape slowly coalesce into ever more interesting shapes the closer and more familiar you become with the album.

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