The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'trembling blue stars'
Bobby Wratten, of The Field Mice/Trembling Blue Stars fame, has posted an interview he did with a Spanish publication named Supernova Pop in July, in which he dismisses The Field Mice as being "like baby pictures", and asserts that only some songs on the first two of Wibbling Blue Stars' albums were about his breakup with Anne Mari (or is it Annemari?).
I also, think of The Field Mice as being like baby pictures; we were learning and it's not something I really want to look back on.I'd never want to listen to a Field Mice record whereas although I'd rather not I could stand to listen to a TBS record if I had to! If I were to be judged on anything I'd want it to be TBS. I think the songs are better and the records are better produced and more adventurous.Then again, in my opinion, The Field Mice had something that's missing in Trembling Blue Stars; a sense of passion perhaps? And from a technical point of view, they can be hardly called shambolic; even their early 3-chord guitar-and-drum-machine songs (Emma's House, for one) are skilfully put together, and other tracks (Missing The Moon and Indian Ocean, to name two) show a technical polish far removed from what one could classify as juvenilia. Unless one means that they don't show an excess of enthusiasm.
I like all kinds of music, a lot of which has no direct influence on the music I make myself. But,there are four people who I'd say have directly influenced me(in TBS) and have inspired me more than any others; Jeff Tweedy, Robert Smith, Mark Hollis and Brian Eno.
There is a MP3 of Trembling Blue Stars doing an acoustic version of The Field Mice's Missing The Moon on their MySpace page. Stripped down from its synthpop baroqueness to one guitar and vocals, the song gains a new immediacy and poignancy. Go and download.
A brief review of a few of the CDs I picked up in the UK (well, the ones I've had a chance to at least partially digest), in alphabetical order by artist:
- Ballboy, Club Anthems 2001: File alongside The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian. The spoken-word track about space travel isn't bad, and Sex Is Boring, which bags house music and club culture, also has its charms.
- Below The Sea, the loss of our winter: Credible guitar-driven post-rock instrumentals from France. tropic of cancer is probably my favourite track so far. Unfortunately, my copy seems to have a defect which results in a fluttering noise when played; though one could argue that it's not as noticeable as it would be in other musical genres.
- Bis, The End Starts Today: some remixes from their most recent album, along with their speech synth-driven cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart, which is probably the highlight.
- Clan of Xymox, Medusa: A combination of reverb-heavy 80s studio rock, minor-key synthpop and goth-club floor-filler material, with the distinct touch of 4AD about it; a sort of Frankie Goes Eurogoth. Check out the heavily-processed guitars, rapid-fire drum machine patterns and po-faced Brendan Perry-meets-Andrew Eldritch vocals, as imitated by every other dodgy Cleopatra band from the US Midwest since, though this is a notch above all that.
- Colourbox, Colourbox: Another 80s 4AD outfit, this time doing electronic dub instrumentals. They went on to form M/A/R/R/S, you know.
- Cure, The, Collectors Curiosities Vol. 2: With Carnage Visors and numerous B-sides and no reference to the band on the disc itself (presumably to evade copyright audits at the pressing plant), this is another one of those London market specials. The "bonus tracks performed live in a recording studio 1984" certainly adds to the air of suspiciousness of the entire package.
- Curve, Come Clean: Curve-by-numbers; crunchy overcompressed beats and overdriven guitar whines and Toni's distorted vocals and textures of analogue synth warbles and bleeps. I suppose that's the nice thing about Curve records; you know what to expect, and you're not disappointed. All much of a muchness, though Beyond Reach is nice.
- High Llamas, Buzzle Bee and Snowbug; somewhat twee, post-Beach Boys/Bacharach melodies. Sort of like Stereolab without the difficult bits. (Indeed, Tim and Lætitia appear on the latter disc, as does producer John McEntire.) Good background music, though not the most compelling records ever made.
- James, Laid: I picked this up for the title track, and because it was cheap. For some reason, they sound more Australian than British to me; not sure why. Perhaps they sound a bit like the Go-Betweens or the Triffids or someone, or otherwise give a sense of wide spaces and harsh sunlight in their music?
- Miss Kittin & The Hacker, The First Album: minor-key neo-80s synthpop with disjointed, emotionless Euro-accented vocals, and KOMPRESSOR-style songwriting.
- Primal Scream, Autobahn 66 promotional single: just the 3-minute version of the track. Blah.
- Spearmint, Songs for the Colour Yellow: their early works, with 1960s power-pop touches; not as baggy as A Week Away or as bowlie as A Different Lifetime. Interesting to hear that they recycled the melody of the title track for one of their subsequent songs.
- Trembling Blue Stars, She Just Couldn't Stay CD single: No, he's still not over her. Though isn't that the whole point of Trembling Blue Stars? Compelling, but in the way car accidents are.
- Will To Power, Journey Home: early-90s LA studio outfit, best known for their cover of 10CC's I'm Not In Love; I remembered them for Koyaanisqatsi, their spoken-word rant over a slickly-produced electronic background, going on about corporate domination, animal research and damage to the environment from a gun-toting anarchist perspective (think early Moby meets an arts-degreed Eric S. Raymond). That and the Nietzchean sleeve notes add a touch of eccentricity to the rather overproduced, vaguely Madonna/Lewis Martinee-esque bulk of this CD. I wonder what Bob Rosenberg ended up doing after this; producing commercial dance music, or retreating to a cabin in Montana? Either sounds equally likely.
Anyway, I picked this up for something like 50p at the cheapo branch of Music & Video Exchange, and am quite pleased with that. If I end up doing DJ sets, you can probably expect Koyaanisqatsi to end up in them, next to other curiosities.
A package from Twee Kitten arrived today; in it were two Northern Picture Library CDs today (their album Alaska and the Still Life compilation of EP tracks). They're very good, containing lots of lush, layered, skilfully crafted tracks, ranging from pop to ambient soundscapes to electronica. There's a real sense of progression there from the fey pop of the Field Mice, and an increased sophistication and maturity. (As opposed to the later Trembling Blue Stars material, which is mostly boring and weak.) Also, Annemari's voice really shines in this material, more so than in the earlier material. (Hmmm; I may well have to revise my list of favourite female vocalists.)
I also got a copy of Fosca's On Earth To Make The Numbers Up, but am not as yet overly impressed. It's mostly 80s-retro synthpop production (with extra cheese!) and too-clever-by-half, vaguely self-deprecating lyrics; a bit like Baxendale, only somewhat flatter and less varied, and it starts to grate after a while. Maybe if they made their chord progressions and sequences a bit more varied, or just made their songs shorter...
I spent part of today listening to some Northern Picture Library MP3s I found on AudioGalaxy. I must say they were good; somewhat more sparse and experimental in places than the Field Mice's output, and going to some interesting places (from the ambient trance of The Way That Stars Die to Love Song For The Dead Che, an excursion into Dubstar/Single Gun Theory territory, to the various exercises in Humblebee-style noise), along with some very nice soundscapes (Catholic Easter Colours comes to mind). There's a real sense of evolution there; it's interesting to imagine what may have happened had the crash not put paid to it.
But of course, it didn't go on like that. She left him and he put out four (and counting) Prozac-bland albums about it, never again approaching the aesthetic level or heartfelt sincerity of earlier projects.
I wonder whether any of the Northern Picture Library material is still, by any chance, in print...
Today I picked up two CDs: the most recent one from Trembling Blue Stars (which is getting better than his previous ones, with nods to The Cure and The Smiths in evidence and some interesting electronic textures (though his drum loops still sound a bit Phil Collins in places); however, it's not quite up to the Field Mice's standard IMHO), and the new Silver Mt. Zion (which comes with a rant about the state of the world, and isn't quite as overbearingly morose as the first one; not that that's a bad thing).
Listening the Far and Wide on 3RRR now; they just played a song from a new/upcoming Trembling Blue Stars album. Not bad; I may have to reassess my view of Bob Wratten's post-Field Mice solo career as mind-numbingly dull. At least it wasn't a weepy guitar-strumming come-back-to-me-I-still-love-you number like most of their first album.
Oh yes, and the Dot Allison song they played sounds interesting... I'll have to track that down; that and a CD copy of that King of Woolworths EP.
Oh, and I didn't get a copy of Björk's Vespertine, which they were giving away, despite having programmed 3RRR's number into the autodialer here.
Today, I went down to Collectors' Corner and found a copy of Trembling Blue Stars' Her Handwriting (they were a solo project of one of the Field Mice). I found it a bit underwhelming; it's relationship-breakup angst, but done in a relatively ordinary way. Anyway, I've posted a review of it to Records Ad Nauseam. (I also managed to pick up Single Gun Theory's Flow, River of My Soul, which has apparently been deleted for ages.)
Apropos of nothing: the 3RRR Radiothon is on now, so those Melburnians in the audience who listen to said station should think of subscribing and helping to keep them on air.