The Caves – The Sevateem

It’s a bit of a strange concept – an album of songs based on a single episode of the tv series Doctor Who, and not even the modern wildly successful show, but the old one from the 1980s.  But hey, I love 20th century Doctor Who, so I’m not seriously complaining on that score. The story it’s based on – The Caves of Androzani – is a bit of an acknowledged classic, famous in equal parts for marking the death of one incarnation of the Doctor and for one scheming characters asides direct to camera.  In Doctor Who terms it’s both pretty grim and pretty layered and even poetic. so there’s plenty of scope for The Sevateem (another Doctor Who reference) to stretch themeselves creatively. That they don’t really do so isn’t entirely their fault, though.  Part of the problem is that they very literally try to tell the story from television – and while a ballet dancer in a black and white face mask is a striking visual image, it loses something when you have to actually say the description out loud. Maybe the album is  a bit too ambitious for its own good, in fact.  It starts very strongly with ‘Anywhere in the Universe’ which, vocally and musically at least, is reminsiscent of something damn good by Ladytron, but the fact that the band employ a variety of different vocalists means that this height is only occasionally matched elsewhere.  Styles too change a bit too often so that three tracks in we get the slightly lumpen school disco beat of ‘You Work for Me’ where more tracks along the same lines as the opener would have been far more welcome.  Sometimes ‘just like the last one’ is a legitimate approach. The album’s like that throughout, in fact  – a series of highs and lows, often in close proximity to one another: ‘Pay for this’, a just about adequate stab at Pet Shop Boys style 80s pop, is followed by the far superior ‘Is it Wrong?’ and so on.  Basically if (I assume) Janey Winterbauer is singing, then it’s one of the better tracks. To be clear thugh, there’s nothing awful and much which is excellent – and proceeds go to ‘Doctors without Frontiers’, and there’s enough good stuff on here to make it more than worth a fiver of anyone’s money. If you only listen to one track, listen to this: Available as a digital download:  
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What would this record have sounded like if John Cale had had some setback and Cinzia La Fauci and Alberto Scotti had taken his place? – Various

Bandcamp is positively littered with this kind of thing; huge, sprawling collections of themed cover versions by bands you’ve largely never heard of.  The themes range from the tentative (single band efforts which are effectively just ‘stuff the band can actually play’ – though this set by Bournemouth based band Chuter is really good) to the pretty damn ambitious (there’s a great 45 track collection of Pearls Before Swine covers out there with not a single duplicate – or bad – track). 

This Stooges covers collection falls somewhere in between those two stools.  Crucially, though, the quality is great, and the approaches taken pleasingly varied (odd that more than a fifth of the running order is taken up by versions of ‘Ann’ though – it’s not exactly the most obvious Stooges cover).  There are relatively straight-forward garage/noise covers, of course – including, predictably but enjoyably enough, ‘1969’ and ‘I Wanna be Your Dog’ – but also experimental soundscapes (‘We Will Fall’) complete with what sounds like someone taking a hacksaw to a violin. Nouvelle Vague-tinged euro electronica (‘No Fun’), and all sorts of heavy, bone weary twists on the Stooges tale.

Oh, and most importantly, the fabulous Frank Chickens do a cover of ‘Not Right’, so – frankly – there’s no reason not to own this, right now.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this

(Digital and compact disc)

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Time Shifts – 62 Miles From Space

Obviously (says me, a middle aged man with a huge record collection), physical artifacts are generally to be preferred to streaming and downloads, but in the case of ‘Time Shifts’, I’ll make an exception.

Not, I hasten to add, because their four track debut EP is rubbish (far from it, it’s great), but because the download from the always reliable Mega Dodo Records contains two extra tracks in addition to the four dream-like slices of keyboard magic on the vinyl, and every bit of 62 Miles from Space’s output is worth savouring.

Combining late 60s synth sounds with carefully positioned vocals on some tracks (check out the title track below), and Kraftwerk-infused electronica on others, the oddly named 62 Miles from Space (a ‘virtual’ band created by two talented Moscow-based guys who collaborate entirely via the internet) have created a short collection of songs which deserves to be more widely heard.

If you only listen to one track, listen to this:

(digital and vinyl editions)

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Selections for Fort Evil Fruit – Taming Power

It’s all one track, so it’s easy to become unsure which track you’re actually listening to at any point, but it doesn’t really matter.  The music on offer here splits and reforms like some sort of giant electronic current, with guitars tripping over themselves and colliding with deep pulsing beats and pleasingly lo-fi abstract sounds (there’s even a point at which it comes over all 1970s Radiophonic Workshop).

It’s a mix, of course, as the title suggests, but whether the artist (one Askild Haugland of Norway, apparently) conjures up the heaviest of drones or the most intricate of guitar harmonies, it’s all good. (cassette and digital).

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