I can't tell you anything at all / And that's the biggest joke of all.
Posts tagged Chris Tenz
Fluid Radio - Convex Mancave… A Closer Study
We’ve been interviewed on the stellar Fluid Radio. I still can’t quite believe it.
“Before it is anything, music is the transmission of a signal. A spectrum comes into view, with no signal on one end, and random, rhythmless bits of indecipherable signal on the other. Dead silence and harsh, white noise. John Cage has already determined our limits in respect to the silence: four minutes, 33 seconds. The jury is still out on the other end of the spectrum, and you have to admire those who are doing the research, putting in the hours. Atomic Blonde In E is not exactly “raw, raging, directionless noise,” although it certainly has its moments. And where Big In Mogadishu is decidedly more melodic, it tests our boundaries all the same. We can only guess what comes next.”
Convex Mancave And The Ethereal Radio
Hugely tolerant review of Convex Mancave by the kind folks over at Ghost FM -
“A cosmo-centric doctrine of the world around us.”
Top 10 Albums of 2011 - 0, and some that didn’t make it
Here’s a self-indulgant recap of my top 10 for 2011.
10 - Talvihorros - Descent Into Delta
9 - Ringo Deathstarr - Colour Trip
8 - Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel
7 - The Raveonettes - Raven In The Grave
6 - Epic45 - Weathering
5 - I Break Horses - Hearts
4 - Chris Tenz - Frozen Arms
3 - The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Bag of Meat
2 - Rob St. John - Weald
1 - Esben And The Witch - Violet Cries
But, dear readers, there’s a twist in the tale…
0 - Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
I was halfway through the lazy process of writing up my top 10 when I heard 50 Words For Snow. I knew at that point I was fucked, really.
Maybe it was for the best. I don’t want to compare this album to anything else; it’s right and proper that it sits by itself, all alone. It’s the work of a total, total fucking genius - that most tired of tired epithets. It’s so haunting, so beautiful, that I don’t even know if I prefer it to Esben’s Violet Cries, or to Rob’s Weald, or to whatever. It just exists on it’s own terms, and that’s that.
No words can describe what this record sounds like. I think that is a large part of the point of the ethereal; it is imagined, and experienced, not described.
Some That Didn’t Make It
The Horrors - Skying
Thoroughly decent third album from a band who thrive on changing their aesthetic like rain; this Nuggets-esque swirl of Krautrock and psych is compelling, but not as downright fun as Strange House and not as overpowering as their Geoff Barrow-supervised shoegazeing opus Primary Colours. It’s still fucking great, mind.
Friendly Fires - Pala
Dancing shoes = on. A worthy follow up to a brilliant first record, Pala is more concerned with layers and smooth groove rather than raggedy, Liquid Liquid funk. It’s done so well that I really don’t care.
Jeniferever - Silesia
Jeni are getting better with every record, and Silesia has the most staying power of anything they’ve cranked out yet. It doesn’t contain anything to rival From Across The Sea, but then what does? Hearths is gorgeous, the opening title track striking, with all sorts of shades of violence and chilling atmosphere in between. This album was a brave move, and a brave assimilation of influences - the only way post-rock can even hope to remain interesting. Explosions In The Sky and all the rest of you tedious old wankers, take note.
Mirrors - Lights And Offerings
Impeccable pilfered 80s electro from some of the ex-Mumm-Ra crew. The standard influences (Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk) are so obvious that it’s almost not worth pointing them out, but when there are formidably well-written pop tunes like Ways To An End, Hide And Seek and Searching In The Wilderness, who cares? Joy is precious these days. Grasp it.
Alex Turner - Submarine
Suck it And See was mainly a festering piece of turd, so it was a relief to see Al Turner’s proper songwriting surface in some form, even if his band are now above and beyond the pale. This mini-EP drafted in Bill Ryder-Jones and Owen Pallett, but primarily existed to provide a soundtrack of quiet, maudlin heartbreak for one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s remarkably affecting and despite it’s brevity, it was teetering on the edge of the top 10.
The Kills - Blood Pressures
Every time The Kills release anything, I want to love it dearly, with all of my heart. Luckily, their last attempt at weirdo grime-hop, Midnight Boom, was my favourite record of 2008 and my favourite thing ever done by one of my favourite bands. Less luckily, Blood Pressures has incredible, signature tracks, but lacks the insane invention of its predecessor, and to my impatient ears, it’s just OK. As I did with the Dead Weather’s second release last year; criticise your idols more than anyone else. Be harsh, demand more. The Kills are capable of so much better than this. It’s clearly still a great album. It’s just a step downwards, and this saddens me beyond measure.
S.C.U.M. - Again Into Eyes
S.C.U.M.’s live performances are exhibitions of wondrous, withdrawn violence and enviably brilliant shoegaze tones; I dubbed them as potentially the new Bark Psychosis earlier in the year, and I can award no higher praise. Inevitably, the resultant album never stood a chance of recreating this aloof, sullen chaos, but it is still something to be savoured nonetheless. Whitechapel remains as brilliant as ever.
Convex Mancave and the Strange Case Of The Good Reviews
Top 10 Albums of 2011 - 4
4 - Chris Tenz - Frozen Arms
It takes a while, but I’ll be alone.
I love a nice discovery.
Chris Tenz’s debut album represents a curious cross between Calgary and Edinburgh; written in one and released in another. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was written by Stevenson as a metaphor for Edinburgh’s duality, of architectural layers and social discord, and the best music to ever come out of this city reflects these mismatches (Fire Engines, Scars, Rob St.John, Meursault, eagleowl), imparts a vague sense of understanding the surrounding physical confusion. Though Chris is a wandering guest in these ‘ere parts, it all fits together. It fits better than well; serendipity defined.
The particular contrast spilling out of Frozen Arms is between simple, beautifully written acoustic songs, and the atmospheres and textures that underpin them all. Are we talking cityscapes or flickering, sparse bursts of electricity in the countryside? Are we talking nostalgia or immediacy? Does old necessarily mean good and new necessarily mean bad, or is a vast urban sprawl enough of a hint for us to guess at a good answer? Tenz’s music asks questions. It’s the music of aimless late night neon wanderings. It’s the kind of music I wish I could make, but I don’t have the balls to strip things back to the glacial minimum that makes this album work.
It all reaches a pinnacle on Another Glass, a track where Chris blends deep, lasting shades of euphoria, sadness, bleakness and light. It’s really stupidly beautiful, lingering and fluctuating drones fighting lo-fi guitar that isn’t in a hurry to move on. Frozen Arms is a quiet, overlooked bit of brilliance out of both very specific circumstances and a defined sense of place, and out of nowhere. All at once, together.
… sees the long-awaited release of Convex Mancave’s seminal study in aural dissonance, Big In Mogadishu.
You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll scream! You must be there!