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Chimp / Collector / Frock / Maritime / Things in Herds | Demos, June 2001 / Never Had A Yesterday EP / Exile Musics / Keep Believing EP / I Can Dancing And Walking
As time ticks by, I have increasing issues with dance culture. The pillage of the past continues unabated in the name of originality, even though there are actually no records left to sample, and such historically embellished wax sells by the dredger-load. It's a while since I've heard a dance record that truly excites; 'Trancescript' by Hardfloor may well the last. More besides, the DJ as star reality is really grating. From 'mixed by,' we now have 'by' on the avalanche of dance compilations, week in, week out. This really bugs, but then that's middle age for you. And selling vinyl for a living as I do, I witness daily the manner in which this form of entertainer handles the shiny black beauties. It's like watching a gormless fisherman beat a trout to death on a rock. My teeth grind, my hackles rise. So, when I notice the likes of Lambchop and Damon Gough popping up on chill-out collections, those post-large night comedown soundtracks, I start to feel very precious and snobbish. Discovering that Kings of Convenience are the current chill-out monarchs came as no surprise, but I felt like running amok, imagining their precious little packages mauled and assaulted; regarded as disposable as the trance tune that the hook of Failure will inevitably be lifted for. But then for the Pistols there was Gregory Isaacs, and at least they are reaching an audience. I live and work for music in Brighton, a recognised bastion of hedonistic club culture, relative tolerance and creativity. As the clubs of Brighton get louder and messier, those of a gentler disposition can seek solace in the anticipated Nu-Acoustica scene that is making a big noise in the city right now. Sanctuary can be found in Chimp, for example. References here would be Gorky's, Belle and Sebastian and that man Goughie again. A disparate looking mob, Chimp's acoustic whimsy is bolstered by violin and cello, beautifully illustrated on recent single Waiting For The Ice To Melt and flip So Joe. Live, as Marinescape and Ageing Taxi Driver are on my CDR, Chimp have a crystalline and woozy sound that evokes idle, snug days listening to Low in winter. For further simian soothing, contact chimpweb@cwcom.net Dave Slimings and Justin Starck are Collector, a duo who I know from personal experience are simply obsessed (perhaps possessed) by music. They are folk who really have to make music as a matter of fact. This debut gathers three pretty songs, recorded live in Dave's lounge in June; they are simple, pure, raw and melodic, exactly as they intend. Late Night Drive sets the stall with breathy vocal and lazy strumming; Room 15 is a cheeky country-folk observation on the thrills of hotel shagging with an old friend or lover; "forget the past and act like we just met," it suggests, and Buried In Ice concerns itself with the emotional numbness at this particular love's bitter end. Dave and Justin have work to do - a little light percussion may suit future recordings - but there is promise. Collect further info from daveslimings@hotmail.com Handsome Swede Fredrik Kinbom, a.k.a Frock is a traveller who has settled in Brighton, as travellers have often been known to do. But as a result, debut EP 'Exile Musics' was recorded in his homeland, Rio de Janeiro and, fantastically, Hove. Stylistically, it hangs together, despite obvious Latin flourishes enlivening songs reminiscent of the work of Elliott Smith, The Auteurs, East River Pipe and Brave Captain. With his Brazilian and Swedish cohorts' loose backing, Kinbom's voice, with hints of Tram's Paul Anderson, tells of love, the trivialities of life and on standout The Refugee, thoughts on two radically differing planes of existence. 'Exile Musics' is available at www.peoplesound.com/artist/frock Maritime, meanwhile; deliver a more optimistic acoustic strum, from the times when Fred Neil, Scott Walker and John Barry ruled the world. It may seem to some to demean when comparing such fare with (particularly the solo material of) NickHeyward, but Maritime's songs have that innocence and grasp of summery melody that the underrated grinning one often achieved, virtually ignored. Shack-on-a-shoestring, if you will, the four tracks on this second EP are the creation of Belfast-born, Brighton-based Brian Bell (try saying that after a few sherberts), and Stewart Babbs, ably backed by some mates. The undoubted highlight is the gently funky It Will Pass, possessor of one of the hooks of the year. Bell has been within sight of a cult hit in the quirky and irresistible eco-folk-hop of The Holy Show's This Planet Hurts, released on Arista in the late 20th Century. Bell can write, and I feel a Maritime masterpiece is imminent. To get those sea legs, contact lfn74@hotmail.com But for all the loveliness emanating from these acts and more, there is none more lovely than Things In Herds. The core of this gloriously gentle, acoustic lo-fi outfit are those known simply as Pete and Miss Ping, supported live, it seems, by whoever may be around at the time. Pete is blessed with a voice that drops neatly between Nick Drake and Lou Barlow; soft and emotive, and on this second TIH album (following '99's 'Pardon?,' from which Like Me, bizarrely, featured in the soundtrack to Ron Judkins' 'The Hi-Line') he proves himself to be a new writer of some skill. There are some breathtaking songs here: New Ending boasts harmonies that wrap around you like the Big Bro' orange blankets, and features a sublime extended outro; Sad Song 1 - precisely that - is a swoonsome effort where you can actually feel the pin drop; Come In, Nothing Much and exquisite, tearful closer I Don't Need A Thing just wrench at the gut, as insecurities and the joy and pain of love are laid bare amid fragile arrangements, decorated with sympathetic synth twitterings. If you need a handy reference point, the gentler moments of The Reindeer Section album are spot on, but TIH definitely got there first. There are only two bliss-blips, in the shape of the Elastica-ted scrape of the mercifully brief Now We Slide, and the slightly more palatable The People Trap - pure Folk Implosion - which chugs along nicely enough before descending into unnecessary bleeping silliness. These aside, I Can Dancing And Walking is one of the albums of the year from, sigh, one of the probable post-club darlings of tomorrow. Until then, discover more of their sad and awkward world at www.thingsinherds.co.uk So, gathered here is just a sample of the antithesis of the hard-house, drill 'n' bass and glitch-core so beloved of my fellow Brightonians, and a welcome oasis it is. All being well, Brighton may soon be noted for more than Lord Fatboy and, ahem, rock.

Tom Sheriff
November 2001

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