Sunday, October 16, 2011

GO Mag: ganso y marrano

One of the joys of living in Spain is the monthly GO! Mag. Not only  intelligent, respectful and challenging the magazine also manages to cover broad territory ranging from music, festival roundups, cinema, books, comics and fashion. More than that its free unless you also want the monthly CD which could be a Berghain mix, Sonar preview or label showcase like the recent Raster Noton, Morr Music or Arctic Rodeo Recordings sets.

This month’s issue featured M83 on the cover who has been doing the rounds of the main media outlets recently. I must say I was expecting something a little less mainstream from “Hurry up, we’re dreaming” for such a heralded album.

I can see the lead single “Midnight City” being a hit in the indie discos, but it still doesn’t do much for me. Too brash and too neatly slotting into the New Wave/Synth Pop ethos alongside John Maus, Games (Joel Ford and Daniel Lopatin) and Holy Ghost! etc. And what is that alien creature doing on the cover of the single (and video)? It somehow reminds me of that 80s TV show ALF and nobody wants to be reminded of that.

I personally prefer the clunkier, rougher sounding stuff like Neon Indian, some of the Kompakt pop acts, while even Laurel Halo is somewhere in there/out there.

There was plenty of joy in the reviews section this month, in particular with the genre titles that usually proceed each review. As well as the usual suspects, there were some particularly funny ones this month that I would love to see brandied about.


Not a terribly original or weird name, but it does go nicely to describe Nurses whose dirty retro sound segues nicely with the “synth wave revival” section above. Besides, sometimes genres need to be piled up together just to show how far from the mark they can hit sometimes.

Hair Techno:

Probably the best of the lot to introduce Justice’s new album “Audio, video, disco”. Anyone who has ever seen them live or in particular one of their alleged fake concerts will recognise the hairy guy, Gaspard Augé, doing next to nothing  (see video and above link).

So to call their music “hair techno” adds a whole new meaning by invoking images of him smoking behind the console. But reviewer Vidal Romero means more. In Spanish he writes:

“…la inspiración de Gaspard Augé y Xavier de Rosnay reside ahora mismo en el hair rock de los ochenta, ese jevi de peluquería que llenaba las radiofórmulas y las carpetas de las colegialas en la época, y que [aquí] estalla con toda su (ejem) gloria …”

“the inspiration of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay now resides in the hair rock of the eighties, that heavily hairdressed style that filled the commercial airwaves and the folders of schoolgirls at the time, and bursting with all its (ahem) glory here”

“Brianvision” is apparently inspired by Queen guitarist Brian May, but apart from the quasi guitar solo in the middle, I don’t hear too much heavy rocking on the album. Nevertheless, Hair Techno is for me the perfect summation of the Justice sound: unkempt, manly and rough.

Bass Gamberra

In Spanish a gamberro/a is an anti-social person, a vandal or a hooligan perhaps, making “bass gamberra” something like “hooligan bass” or better in Australian English, “Yobbo Bass”. A wonderful term to describe Modeselektor’s new album “Monkeytown” and begging to be a new genre in its own right. Several tracks like “Grillwalker” and the startling “German Clap” in particular, acknowledge UK bass music, but in coining the phrase “yobbo bass” reviewer Alberto Vidal is referring to another track, “Evil Twin”

“Un hit pegadizo, ganso y marrano marca de la casa (ahhh, esos bajos asesinos). Lo han vuelto a hacer, los muy gamberros.”

“A catchy, nonsensical and swinish hit, trade mark of the house (ahhh, that assassin bass). They've done it again, those mugs.”

So here is that fantastic and beautifully malleable word “gamberro” which gives the genre its name and indeed, the rough and menacing sledge of bass in “Evil Twin” does sound like a mugging, so the name works for me. “Ganso” by the way is a goose and a “marrano” is a swine, so I am taking a liberal translation meaning, especially as “ganso” might also mean big or clumsy, which doesn’t necessary stick to Modeselektor’s well chiselled sound, even if they leave plenty of rough edges remaining.

De todo un poco

Björk’s new album “Biophilia” was described as “unclassifiable” which is perhaps fair enough, without having heard it, but The Real Tuesday Weld’s new album “Songs for the Last Werewolf”  is described as “De todo un poco” (a bit of everything) which makes me curious as to the difference and how it sounds. As it turns out, cabaret could be a good reference point, whereas “Theatre Pop” might also be adequate, though lead man Stephen Coates describes it as “Antique beat”. Combining dreams of past days and vaudeville style with pop is a dangerous premise without a story to tell and thankfully  “Songs for the Last Werewolf” has one. The album is based on the novel “The Last Werewolf”  by Glen Duncan, a blood thirsty, sexually charged novel that “explores the dark side of eternal life”, apparently.

And here introduced as the concept for the album:

The video to the first single “Tear us apart” is brilliantly made, but the musical sentiment is a little twee for me, though the arrangements and production are excellent. Coates’ vocals sound surprisingly similar to Graham Sutton of Bark Psychosis at times, except in the sweeping chorus calls. Some of the simpler theatrical pieces are the most effective.

Wasted days pop

Now this is a genre I could do more with. Here used for New Jersey three piece Real Estate who have just released their third album “Days” on Domino. My wasted day might be a bit more hazy than their bright, shimmering sound which is almost early REM gone shoegaze, or smoking but not inhaling. But it lifts the spirits and colours the shadows while always invoking the eternal vibe of Brian Wilson and his brothers.

Finally, “Middle aged rock” was scornfully plastered on Wilco’s “The Whole Love” full length, not a good indictment.


There is a regular section in GO Mag called “Jander”. I have no idea what it means in Spanish, if anything, but their remit is usually a cultural/critical review of contemporary home listening music and more ambient works, such as Experimedia , Type, 12K, Room 40, Touch and so on. This month Vidal Romero highlights the recent double CD release “Audible approaches for a better place”  released on Glitterbug’s c.sides label. The set was compiled from studio recordings of artists who were asked to compose a piece of music “to make a humble contribution toward making this world a better, more just and beautiful place”. The mission statement may seem sweeping and somehow vague, but the artist list hides a subtle subtext to the meaning. As well as several German artists, including Glitterbug (aka Till Rohmann) himself, there are several Arabic and Israeli musicians, most notably Israeli-Palestinian Arabic Soprano opera singer Enas Massalha who appears on several tracks. The pieces were all performed at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin in the middle of May alongside specially commissioned video pieces.

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