tween the ribs
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Hangedup - "Klang Klang". A band made up of viola + drums can go one of two ways. Either it's brainless stabbing at the same cardboard box, random and repetitive, or else it's as fierce as a rabid cat in a burlap sack, a house burning down with sparks spitting round the cornerstones. Up till now, I thought Hangedup were in that first category. With their new album, however, Clatter For Control, we have something altogether freakin' different. "Klang Klang" skates out on sharkteeth with wielded blades, it's rescuing damsels and teaching kids to shoot arrows at peoples' hearts. It clangs and it creaks, it moves faster than you can watch it, it's Constellation Records post-rock with a gypsy curse and a punk-rock haircut. It pushes me over and uses a steel-bristle broom to sweep me into the sea. It might well be one of the best records the label has ever released. [buy (you really ought to)]

The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers - "The Eventual Intimate of So Much Nostalgia". The first time I read the band name 'The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers', I swooned. I thought it was great. At this point, however, I'm not so sure. I think I'm starting to hate it. But that mustn't take away from the pleasure of this song, the track which opens TPATOADS' new record, The Mother of Love Emulates the Shapes of Cynthia. "The Eventual Intimate..." is a tricksy song; in its opening seconds it would have you take it for Cocorosie or The Robot Ate Me. It's brittle off-time acoustic guitar notes, a digital stutter, a dusty lyric - "polaroids that fade away / in time". Soon enough, though, there's the huffing stamp of drums and high-hat, the heavy clomp of electric guitar and bass. Some lunks march in from stage-left, sledge-hammers in hand. I imagine Phil Elvrum on the beach, surrounded by a gang, but the boys don't want any nicey-nicey. Play along, Phil, or there'll be trouble. And Phil plays along, he does, and finds that there's real merit in this nighttime business of crush and crash, that there's a lot to be said with some industrial rock noise, a short burst of thick sound. (He's still a wuss, mind.)

That's what I hear. Perry Wright, the guy who actually wrote the tune, says this:

" As the title suggests, the underlying metaphor for the opening track is the work of John Hutchison, a controversial maybe-scientist from Canada who uses the collision of high voltage and longitudinal waves to produce a series of phenomena that seem to contradict certain principles of physics. Of the odd phenomena, which include things like midair floatation of objects, reorganization of the crystalline structures of certain metals, and the inexplicable heating and melting of metals while surrounding objects remain unaffected, I wanted to specifically refer to the phenomenon of the unification of two unlike materials without the displacement of either as a compelling metaphor for a wedding."[buy]


Saw The Diskettes' two shows in Scotland this past weekend, and they were lovely. The Glasgow gig, especially - hot chai, good company, the sun setting in the background. They took requests and we met a Mr Lee in the audience. Dave of The Diskettes studied physics, Maggie's an astrophysicist, but their music isn't quite so burdened as The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers' is. Like I said before - catch them while they're in Europe! (They have a new tape, too, which is fantastic.)

Posted by Sean at May 30, 2005 5:49 PM

I think Prayers and Tears..... are a damn good band. It's nice to hear someone put something more into music these days. I can't wait until the reign of mediocre rock passes.

Posted by Nick Bahula at May 31, 2005 5:50 AM

I tried to put together a compilation of songs about theoretical physics and astrophysics. They have to be about physics: just having "stars" or "Sun" in the title doesn't count. I may have to relax this requirement, because I didn't get very far. Currently it stands at:

1. Dark Matter - Andrew Bird
2. Why Does the Sun Shine? ... - They Might Be Giants
3. We Are All Made of Stars - Moby

and I'm far from happy with Track 3[*]. Thanks for the rather oblique but welcome addition of TPATOADS. Any other suggestions from fellow StG readers are welcome. An addition from the physics and cheap guitar dream team that is the Diskettes would make my Gigayear.

[*] It's a strictly accurate description of galactic chemical evolution, although this is a clearly an accident, because Moby doesn't know what he's talking about. He claims it is "quantum mechanics for dummies", which is only true in the sense that Blackbird by the Beatles is fluid mechanics for dummies.

Posted by Michael Williams at May 31, 2005 10:16 AM

This prayer and tears song is great! At first i was writing it off but then with that electric guitar...

Posted by Willy Runs the Voodoo Down at May 31, 2005 12:59 PM

Gonna have to voice my dissent on the Hangedup track. Not bad, certainly some interesting things going on, just a little too monotonous for my taste buds. I think another instrument needed to be soaring over some of that, well, klanging. Is that heresy?

And it's probably a little too on the nose, but Constellation's best would have to be something from Godspeed or Do Make Say Think. Their latest is a good start.

Posted by chris at May 31, 2005 3:48 PM

That's a fair enough opinion, Chris. The whole Hangedup genre is quite interesting - closer to traditional (ie, folk) dance music, certainly, than it is rock and roll. I think I understand what you mean about wanting something "soaring over", but for me the narrative of the song is in your reaction. It's music to accompany action, life, living, motion, not for sitting stock-still and contemplating. Apples and oranges?

Constellation's been doing real well lately. I liked the last Anka etc EP, and the last ASMZ was pretty fantastic. My favourite DMST is "...Landlord...", not the most recent, and I'm not a big fan of GSYBE's albums (just individual songs), but I do think this Hangedup rekkid stands up with the best of them. (It is, however, yeah, different sort of stuff.)

Posted by Sean at May 31, 2005 3:55 PM

Good point. I can't think of another label out there quite as well associated with sitting still and contemplating than Constellation (perhaps kranky)--and bless their hearts for it. Hangedup is their orange.

Is it just me or is there some sort of viola renaissance going on? It sure seems to be popping up a lot lately.

Posted by chris at May 31, 2005 6:03 PM

Thanks for all the work you guys do here! I appreciate the early introduction to the Arcade Fire, watching them rise to inevitable success has been very inspiring~ Also I really dig Devin Davis, who one of you three introduced me to, as well. Please continue~!


Posted by Yoshi at May 31, 2005 7:03 PM

that hangedup is so incredible i think i might start smoking (cigarettes).

Posted by Dan at June 1, 2005 12:14 AM

Klang Klang is nucking futs.

Posted by Ian at June 1, 2005 8:38 AM

The first song is okay... I listened to if for a bit and liked it, and then it kind of got on my nerves.

TP&TOADS is great! I saw them opening for the Mountain Goats, and they were just so crazy and fantastic and different that is was impossible not to like them.

Posted by Kaitlyn at June 2, 2005 12:34 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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