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Peace Flag (www.theemoths.co.uk)
By Bernhard Bessing • May 9th, 2011 • Category: long players
Let me just paste in the tags. “ambient blisstronica electronica hypnagogic pop laptop music”…
I guess this covers a few bases. Take opener ‘Open Hand’. Ambient it ain’t. It’s more like Gene Krupe teamed up with a 56K modem.
There are short snippets of tracks like ‘A Gentle WAV’, whose title is better than the tune (warning: may contain banjos) but these just serve as dividers to the longer and more substantial pieces – with the exception of ‘Chimes for the Lighthouse’, whose title kind of describes its sound and which is strangely mesmerising. ‘Palindrome’ manages to be, yes, ambient but towering at the same time, like there’s 10 Brian Enos trapped inside your hi-fi.
There’s a lot going on there, more than on ‘Hello New Likers’ which to start is kind of scratchy cut-ups rather than anything that could be called ‘music’ in the conventional sense. However, it soon descends into a circle of hell somewhere just south of Milton Keynes, its precise intention I’m sure. Speaking of which, it soon merges into ‘Opening’ which probably soundtracks John Carpenter’s nightmares – although he doesn’t know it yet.
The title track is weirdly disorienting, like the speakers have gone out of phase on what might have otherwise been a conventional guitar tune. But “conventional” round Thee Moths’ house is A Bad Word.
Just as it seems things couldn’t get any odder, ‘Bronze Lucifer’ breenges in with its kinda off-kilter krautrock and is the most conventional track on here – well, it would be if it didn’t eventually wrap round on itself before disappearing up its own well of noise. Which, in a sense, sums up the album and much of the output of Thee Moths – always interesting, always different, never quite what you expect.
From Is This Music?
Thee Moths- Peace Flag REVIEW
Thee Moths’ Peace Flag is avant-garde electronica at it’s most abstract. The pet project of Wolverhampton visual artist Alex Botten, Thee Moths is an audible powerhouse that surrounds the listener with subtle, chirpy electro-misdirection before inevitably cutting through the static with a synthetic pulse.
Working solo- and working pretty furiously from the sound of it, Botten has crafted an album as ultimately rewarding as it is alienating- with an intriguing balance of mystique and indirect rhythm. To effectively dwell within the experience, Peace Flag demands a solid set of earphones. Many of the tracks– especially in the first half- act as tantalizing suggestions for a more direct musical approach that refuses to form. Percussion and orchestral swells stomp into the room before either tiptoeing away or fragmenting completely. With the self-titled eighth track, the album shifts into its second half with acoustic distortion. By the time the album closes with “I Will Come Home” and the lullaby-esque melody “Evening Light”- Botten has fully entranced the listener in his bizarre soundscape. Reminiscent of both Nicolas Jaar’s Space Is Only Noise and The Knife’s Darwinian electro-opera, Tomorrow, In a Year- Thee Moths latest LP is not necessarily a pleasant or enjoyable album. But it’s immensely worthy of an auditory experience.
Standout tracks include:
Open Hand- Flag’s opening track throbs as an intense hybrid of bleeps and percussion. It’s what the Jumanji board game would sound like if dropped in a deep fryer. And I mean that in the best possible way.
Palindrome- An ambient orchestral swell- foreboding enough that it would sound right at home on Jonny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood score.
Hello New Likers- An arresting piece of sonic misdirection. If you have faith in your fellow artist, you’ll bite into this one deep and hard.
I Will Come Home- Just when you think Peace Flag has wandered off into oblivion, Botten’s distant vocals and strategic string arrangements remind us that there is something human here after all.
You can download the entire Peace Flag experience at http://bit.ly/mDXUwl
Or visit their site www.theemoths.co.uk
The album is also streaming at www.theemoths.bandcamp.com
From Fake Plastic Tunes
By Calum Craig • Oct 5th, 2010 • Category: long players
With one solitary ‘constant’ member in the band, this album sounds very much like a solo project. Said singer/songwriter/musician/producer, Alex Botten, has, therefore, the right to make what can only be described as an ‘uncompromising’ collection of tunes.
I say ‘tunes’, even that is an area that’s open for interpretation. The album opens with ‘My First Gig’ (Minus the Music)’ which appears to be, well, exactly that, a collection of banter and song intros from a noisy show somewhere (we assume) in the English midlands.
However, there’s much to recommend this album beyond all that. Of the 20 track here the majority are certainly sonic experiments, but when these adventures bear fruit, the results are very worthwhile. ‘Ver Version’ is a headnodding bit of indie drum’n’bass (possibly) while ‘Get Your Folk On’ is a looped bit of glitchcore banjo that (despite that description) somehow works; and ‘Many Hands’ sees a xylophone snake its way around a field of electrical noise.
Conversely, ‘Boiled Rice’ may be the sound of exactly that, one that competes with John Cage in the ‘minimalist’ stakes. ‘None Whatsoever’ is the longest track here, 3 minutes plus of eight-bit squaks and bleeps.
The collection is bookended by another 20 or so seconds of live chat in ‘My First Gig (Minus The Context)’ which again isn’t really a track you’d pay your 79 pence for.
However, as the album’s a download you can take the rough with the smooth, and listen to the whole thing. Whether you enjoy every second of it is another matter, but as I say, it’s unlikely that Mr Botten will be too bothered. A fair few people will I’m sure find much to enjoy here and that will be a bonus for its creator.
(Editor’s note: the album is, it seems, a limited edition of 10 (!) x 3″ CDRs now sold out… reviewed from the original promo download link. Repressing queries via theemoths.co.uk, I suppose ).
Calum Craig, Is This Music?
Reviews of 'Glytchvölk Musique Concrète'
Thee Moths "Glytchvolk Musique Concrete" are mainman Alex Botten and
friends. UNIVERSE PRAYER strummy simple rock, nice vocals, second loud
guitar then female vocals! A SMALL GLASS GHOST PT.4 crazy ass drum
machine with plaintive simple man pop vocal, plunky bass, yes quite
lovely! I can't figure out where Thee Moths are from, the UK somewhere,
I guess it doesn't matter!? TWILIGHT HANDS college pop, nerdy white
boy music, but pleasant and tastefully done! I think there's tons of
people who go gaga for this sort of thing!? TO NOT BE ASHAMED birds
and backwards things, yes, it's very intellectual, like coffee shops and
such! Freshmen in college, I hope!? THAMI SGITH more birds, I like
the female vocal more, weird blips and farts! THIS IS MY TIME water
sounds with strange effects, now the sensitive male vocal! Simpleman
music! Some pretty cool weird effects and sounds! TWENTY BEES A-SIDE
two wildly strummed acoustic guitars, one left, one right, pretty
freakin' cool! Sounds like two different songs being played together,
then the crazy ass dual guitars! This is a pretty great track, I take
back the college freshman stuff! Gets pretty funky intense and loud,
totally opposite from earlier tracks! Wow, this is like experimental or
something! Pretty impressive! THE WORST dork funk, more white boy
music! Some backwards stuff and now it's bad ass! These guys always
have a trick up their sleeves! STEREO BREATH more off kilter Moth
pop! ALEX VS. THE UNIVERSE seagulls and synth loop! Male vocal, I
think I'm starting to understand!! There's more to Thee Moths than I
thought! Weird vocals, chants and harmonies! Seagulls with people
talking on top of it, then silence! Pretty experimental! DUNDEE IS A
SMOTHERING DARKNESS raw noisy rock, then changes to percussion and
plunky guitar and female vocal, pretty cool transition.....FEEL WHEN
avant math rock, pretty damn cool, I take back all my earlier smartass
remarks! THE BRIGHT SUN insects, female vocal, very trippy
percussion! Very nice! These guys are on to something! Thumbs up!
Hip Hip Hooray! Music that is art!! THE SOUNDS ARE THERE very Syd
intro, truly psychedelic and lo-fi! Acoustic guitar and vocal, the demo
type! Very strange! Birds! This CD is really growing on me, something
totally different than first half of CD! Very strange and interesting!
CLOSE THE BUNDS driving slop punk, rockin', cool, with birds and
noises! Stops, then just bird noises with traffic noises! ARE YOUR
FEET TANGLED UP IN ROOTS weird cool percussion track, super cool vocals
with laid back tempo, slows down!!! BONUS TRACK strange plinky noises
with strums and skips, quite maddening! Yes! At around five minutes
goes into Moth pop rock, "don't try to undo these chains that shackle
you to me". The recording gets more and more distorted..
Rumbles, Ptolemiac Terrascope
as close as it gets to a crude insight into another man's mind. It
rolls along like one of those mirror-floored boards where you look down
and study the sea. Except it's not the sea, it's Alex Botten's brain.
And it's a curious place.
Lots of ideas, many of them unfulfilled. A certain darkness, exposed only temporarily. Consistent fragmentation, and a fascination with antagonising the listener. Check out the secret track with its purposefully disjointed violin track; put there to annoy or drive insane. This comes after marvelling at the ability to use a Neutral Milk Hotel-y fuzzbox to conjure morphed, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electronic pop paraphernalia - Glytchvolk. Much is straight from the Jeff Magnum book of 'Twisted Pop For The Curious Muso'. He could make a lot of money from something like that. Maybe
Tom Howard, Plan B Magazine
The world's filled to the brim with tender-hearted solo folkies, regularly driven to the brink of tears by the unbearable pain of it all whilst the tape recorder's rolling. There's no shortage of bedroom-bound electronica boffins either, intent on mugging the listener with brittle cacopho-beats that make the output of abstract likes of Autechre resemble the chirpy cooing of those inescapable summer smashes. Combining the substantial sensitivity of classic singer-songwriterdom with the innovative production zeal of beats professor on a budget, however, is a rarer feat, one that this 17-track trawl through the extended back catalogue of Thee Moths - aka the insanely productive Scottish one-man home-recording industry Alex Botten - executes in luxurious lo-fi surroundings with fresh, wildly unpredictable results.
Sure, we've been hereabouts before - early Beck also balanced harmonica-wheezing authenticity with cutting-edge electro noise-mongering. More recently, London's blackhearted bard Lupen Crook's stumbled near to the genre-bending territory Thee Moths occupy. Ditto Cardiff's minimalism whizz Drone. But whereas Beck's never far from an irony-dripping Prince parody, and Mr. Crook is hitched to his oddball mannerisms, Thee Moths broadcast straight from the heart, which the lyrics reveal to be permanently parked in the relationship meltdown zone. Not that Botten's that keen on us figuring out just how heartfelt much of this stuff is, what with his persistent poking at the anthill of skewered sonic elements suggesting he's almost embarrassed by what an accomplished songwriter he's turned out to be. But no amount of wilfully wonky techno-racket, haphazard symbal splashes and absurd arrangements that creak as if they were held together by willpower and some badly outdated glue alone, be it the malfunctioning drum machine disfiguring the melancholy swoon of A Small Glass Ghost Pt. 4, Universe Prayer's trainee busker rubber-band strumming or the subterranean murk that permeates Stereo Breath and the superbly sinister The Worst, can disguise just how strong these deceptively simple tunes are. The best bits - the sunset-hued ache of Do Not Be Ashamed, the Velvet Underground's Loaded performed by C-86-hooked robots vibes of Twilight Hands - border on pure, unadultered brilliance, and even the zaniest experiments - Twenty Bees A Side's extended freakbeat acrobatics could be the product of a cutprice Casio captured in the middle of nervous breakdown - are eminently listenable.
"This is my time",
Botten sighs on the delicate tune of the same name. A bit more
fine-tuning, and these might well turn out to be prophetic words.
Janne Oinonen, Kruger Magazine
A thorny one, this. Releasing a self-proclaimed album of ‘sonic experiments’ comes across as a poor idea to your reviewer, accustomed as he is to such prosaic anachronisms as melodies and choruses. When writing chopped-up folktronica, one has to be jolly careful not to get it wrong. It is very easy to get it wrong. If you get it wrong, your album will sound wanky.
Thee Moths, bless them, seem to have, for the greater part, avoided wanky. Instead, they have a lot of nice, gentle tunes. They do set these sweet little ditties onto some quite adventurous drum patterns, and it takes a while before the listener can understand how they mesh, but eventually they do. The songs still sound strange, but not unbearably so. If you want a point of comparission, listen to Four Tet. Four Tet is superior, but they share styles; convoluted drum loops and broken up melodies. Some of the songs, notably the really rather excellent opening number, feature some superior male-female duetting. These are especially peachy.
But no album is ever improved by having 17 tracks, especially when it is of a genre as niche as this, double especially when its second half is as torpidly experimental as this. The latter seven tracks are as unlistenably ghastly as Squarepusher at his most obtuse. They are quite obviously an after thought – the press release admits as much, though their lily is a little more gilded – and they have no place on what would other be a wholeheartedly recommendable album. Tell you what, do the new-fangled thing and download the first 10 songs (as well as number 15, actually). After that, all will be well.
Tom Mendelsohn, New Noise Net
There’s a joyous impatience in the music Thee Moths make. Whether it’s
on clipped, sweet acoustic jingles or powdery, brittle electronic cut
ups or general strung out oddness is infectious. The songs swim into
one another and the overall effect is slightly disorienting but highly
enjoyable. The playful nature of their sound suggests they’re unlikely
to be booking that slot on Later . . . with Jools Holland any time soon
but for that we must be thankful. Any record that makes you check to
see if the CD player is working right has got to be a good thing.
Mark Robertson, The List
The umpteenth release from the one-man embodiment of all the music in the world, ever, is 'All the hits and more' and in it's 18 tracks drags the listener from the joyous nouveau-folk opening track 'Universe Prayer' via a vast range of musical genres. Spanning as the album does some decidedly uneasy listening, it also touches on some areas that people who thought they hated experimental music will cock an ear to. Take 'A Small Glass Ghost', its infectious drum loops and multilayered choral vocal, which is, effectively, pop music. 'Twilight Hands' is another example of lo-fi and pop married by catchy quality songwriting, while 'Thi Mi Sgiuth' is a Gaelic tune that sounds like it was recorded in a field, and were this a vinyl release, would have you checking your stylus for fluff. Of course, as Jarvis Cocker never said, 'This is Glitchcore' and an example of Thee Moths uncompromising approach to what they call music. And that is the pattern for the span of these recordings - moments of genius, consistently inspired beautiful melodies, and determination to make whatever music they want no matter how poppy, pensive or painful it may be. The first 10 old tracks lead us to some new material including 'Dundee is a Smothering Darkness' (harsh on smothering darknesses I'd say) which is, actually an upbeat jangly sort of lo-fi tune - contrasting 'The Bright Sun', a claustrophobic slab of menacing glitchcore. Which, given Thee Moths track record is exactly what you'd expect.
From Is This Music?
Jittering drumbeats and haunting snippets of half-songs by Milo McLaughlin
Featuring ten tracks that have previously been released on a variety of low-key compilations, as well as an EP’s worth of new material, it's thanks to the vision of Pet Piranha Records that the original lo-fi versions have remained intact. They obviously realised that, as with The Lone Pigeon, it's intricacies such as the jittering drumbeats and haunting snippets of half-songs that make the music of Alex Botten and friends so repeatedly rewarding. Vocals that sound like they’re disappearing down the plug-hole are offset by a serenade of circling seagulls, and Gaelic folk song ‘Tha Mi Sgith’ flickers between Botten’s original melodies like a ghost amongst flames. Though they may not please their hometown’s tourist board with titles like ‘Dundee Is a Smothering Darkness’, Thee Moths should be considered a national treasure, and this album a treasure trove worth ransacking.
Alex Versus The Universe
This review is set high above Dundee, sitting on one of the benches beside The Law. Though I've read the graffiti before I'll read it again, and wonder if any of the copulating couples that climb up here last longer than the weekend. Though I've done it before I will look down over Dundee and dream soft dreams of endless triumphs and failures.
Thee Moths is a one man cottage industry. The logical step (stumble?) from early Spare Snare, Alex Botten is a mangler of guitars and the only living human capable of making a computer go off time. Both acts take some serious guts. After putting out his own records for many a year Alex, in a pique of disgust, left the city to its own devices. But from the bowels of the English Midlands he's created a record that perhaps defines Dundee.
From here I can see clearly the remaining Jute Mills in the city - decrepit and vandalised beyond recognition. If you break in you'll find a mass of wires and dust, if you punch the walls the waterlogged plaster shatters beneath the impact. You should try it.
Glytchvolk Musique Concrete is a gathering together of sporadic tracks released on various labels around the world. It is an overview of the various whims and lasting appetites of one bloke, with songs stumbling over one another so electronica meets acoustica, metal meets the whimsical and Dundee meets the world. So much is churned up on this chunk of music that it is difficult to catalogue. It would be trite and unfair to call this a diary, more of a grandly tuneful post-pub heart to heart with one of your mates. Even the sleevenotes are full of in-jokes and insults – hell, Alex even puts his mobile number on there (it works by the way).
So to finish we return to the Law, the city unwinding in front of me, Victorian street moving to shopping centre, red brick escaping into glassware. The yellow and green lights of endless possibilities are being lit up, one by one, and far down the road the lights go on and off within Thee Moths.
From Marchin' On
REVIEWS OF 'NATURE'
Like the old tapes of Lou Barlow, Bee Thousand-era Guided by Voices, or early Beck, Scotland's Alex Botten (who aside from tertiary friends, occasionally hanging out and pitching, is sole member of Thee Moths) sounds as if he's been recording every moment of his life and miraculously whittled the best parts into 50 minutes. On first impression, it's as though all the sounds making up the disc were tossed in the air and presented to us exactly how they fell on the ground. Not long into the album, however, it becomes apparent that editing is everything; there is a brain, hard at work, making decisions, and everything is in its correct place. Melodies radiate in the ambient noise that surrounds them and throw-away pieces are strategically placed to bring a living, breathing identity to the album. Its sum is greater than its parts, and in the end Nature makes the most sense as one large composition.
Unlike Barlow and Pollard, who can't help but pour out catchy hooks during most of their waking hours, Alex Botten is about as interested in songs as he is the sounds of birds in springtime. When they do occur, Botten's songs are beautifully simplistic tunes, played with the delicacy and self-awareness of The Microphones. But songs are just part of a day in the life of Thee Moths and are represented as such in the grand scheme of Nature's lo-fi sound collage. The rest of the time is spent capturing sounds of the outdoors, making glitchy noise experiments, and fucking with sampled drum beats. Even the sound of wind distorting in a microphone is not too mundane for Botten's palette, and the integrity that he treats these otherwise negligible noises with is remarkable. Nature's inconsequential and most impressive moments are on the same playing field, and mid-way through album, the two become indistinguishable.
Thee Moths seemingly use the same process and achieve the effect of a scrapbook. As opposed to diary entry, trying to solve a problem or spilling its guts out, scrapbooking takes a more subdued reflection of life. Just as cutting and pasting can give someone the feeling of individuality after being a corporate drone for 40 hours a week, Alex Botten takes the sounds from his life and turns them into a unique, understated sonic universe. Nature doesn't have an obvious narrative so much as it portrays fragments and nostalgia from the life of its owner. In an age of digitally pristine self-production, its Cinéma vérité style pacing of reality is a refreshing throwback to a time with less sensory stimuli.
From Tiny Mix Tapes
Thee Moths Portasound
for the No Longer Around EP (Craftmore Mill)
Thee Moths Nature (Banazan Records)
I could and perhaps should devote an entire reviews section to the releases of Alex Botten/a.k.a. Thee Moths such is the regularity with which he seems to produce consistently appealing and diverse records. This year there's already been new music from his DJ Wrong Homer, Explosions and Screaming, and Senor Citizen guises. But I've chosen to concentrate on these releases by his masthead project which I was first introduced to when I got my mits on The Need cassette which was released by Victory Garden a couple of years back.
The Portasound for the No Longer Around EP (with its cheeky lofi-referencing title) tells the story of a relationship breakdown over three songs: 1. Beginning, 2. Middle, and 3. End. The lyrics almost embarrassing to listen to due to their frank nature are similarly stripped to their bare essence. Softly spoken accusations backed up by simple beats and a 50p melodica dont help to shift the sensation that you're reading a highly personal letter that's addressed to someone else. Rewarding, if thoroughly uncomfortable listening.
Nature on the pretty smart US label Banazan sees an attempt to bring together the various different styles that Thee Moths has spanned over the last-however-many-years. Opening with the hushed Awake! Awake! with its "cast aside/your need to hide" refrain backed by recordings of yachts and birdsong, it's quickly chased by You Fucking Little Shits in which there does actually appear to be an acoustic lament going on only its buried by a clattering repetitive electronic sampled beat. Natures success is that it manages to fit songs like You Shitting Little Fucks (sic) intense, almost housey sounding rhythms alongside melancholic ditties like Do Not Be Ashamed (which has some gorgeous melodies), without the album sounding in-cohesive or patchy. On the contrary: the experimentation and the songs sound perfectly natural in this context. Field recordings of Brighton and cut up sounds roll perfectly along with the catchy chorus of This Is My Time. You Are a Great Wave sums up my favourite things about Thee Moths songs: beautifully uplifting but still vulnerable. These are songs that you know will be there for you.
From Feral Debris 'zine
Thee Moths Nature
Thee Moths has seen many incarnations over the years. On this outing, Alex Botten pretty much does things himself, enlisting help as he sees fit. The resulting cavalcade of sonic energy defies description (as before) but does come together when it matters most.
From Aiding and Abetting
Nature Banazan Records
Let me set the scene. Imagine you are sitting in a lightly wooded forest of deciduous trees swollen with summer leaves. The sun is at your left, slowly drifting behind a hill, always meshed in layers of verdant foliage. To your right, a gentle slope winding down to a large, warm lake. The blue sky blows a slight breeze. Is that music you hear? Or just bird song and rush-hour traffic?
Not only is this a good description of the grounds surrounding my palatial mansion, it also lends a little meat to my review of the new Thee Moths record.
This is the kind of-well, almost music-that lends itself to sitting around in the summer shade, though I wouldn't try to nap. When should one listen to Nature? Listen when you want to be pleasantly agitated by esoteric noise.
Basically, it comes down to succulent loop glitches, made with care for mysterious and tragic reasons. The emotion of a powerful pop song is retained, but the musical structure becomes totally unrecognizable. So much so, that the record begins to sound like it should be full of pop, but instead has been torn apart or perhaps captured before it can properly materialize.
This incomplete or perhaps deconstructed format comes off, for me, as charmingly adolescent, vulnerable, etcetera. Occasionally, the album's acoustic intrusions even create glowing musical warmth. Passionate vocals question paradoxical nature of the electronic music's mechanized romanticism. Oh now I get it, Nature.
These, "mind-forged manacles" of synthesizers sometimes combine with equally sinister repetitions of bizarrely transfigured bird calls. This can be fairly haunting.
A word of caution: this is not good driving music. Fans of ultra-slick pop songs and smooth dance beats should probably stay away. Otherwise, hunt down a copy and decide for yourself if this is music or just noise.
-Erik Stinson, The PhiLL(er)
Thee Moths 'Nature'
Alex Botten, who is Thee Moths, probably would agree with the proposition that music is just organized noise. Certainly, he spends much of his time during Thee Moths' album Nature trying to organize noise. The title is apt. Although at some point on about half the tracks Botten picks up an acoustic guitar or a cheap keyboard and plays a simple chord or two to accompany his murmured singing of folk-like songs, for the most part Nature is a sort of field recording in which the artist is more interested in capturing the sounds of birds, the atmosphere around his hometown of Dundee, Scotland, and various percussive elements. When he captures something with a beat, he is liable to loop that sound and repeat it for a while, then let it become irregular, or cut it up randomly. Even when he's just using the sounds of the outdoors, the recording sometimes seems to have been made with a microphone that had a faulty intermittent signal. The result is perhaps better described as a sonic art experiment than as a collection of musical tracks, even though Botten keeps reappearing with his little songs, only to disappear again in the din. It all may be taken it as a conceptual work, but be prepared when someone asks if there's something wrong with the CD player.
William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide
Thee Moths 'Nature' - Rating 78%
It's a bitch to review an album
like Nature. Laptoppers, they're difficult, what with
their rigorous economy of sounds, their atypical compositions,
their refusal of pop generalizations, etc. Avant-gardists, making
music out of dissonance or conceptual thematics, they're a
challenge. But Thee Moths are an unequivocal bitch to
These characters decided, it seems, to have a little pow-wow in which such conceivable sentiments may have been exchanged: "What if we go Microphones-style, but more, you know, abstract?" Or, "What if we took the 'pop' out of glitch pop?" Or "What if we make an album that fucks with people? You know, one of those albums where during a track like 'Untitled,' the poor listener stops to make sure the CD isn't scratched, becaues it's skipping, but actually, the skipping is part of the actual CD recording!" Sounds like a bunch of real ass-hats, right? The kind who probably find a great deal of humor in having one song title "You Fucking Little Shits" and another "You Shitting Little Fucks" on the same album, ha!
Nine times out of ten, yes. Seriously, in principle, I hate the guts out of artists like that. "Dying" should bounce along on its strummed chords and I-enjoy-nature-and-drugs vocals, but goddammit, they actually intentionally fuck it up so that the bit stutters and falls out, then back in, and then teases you into thinking, "haha, the joke is done." Except then it's not. But right as you're about to exact verbal and perhaps physical vengeance on this piece of unarguable turd, it dovetails right into "You are a Great Wave," which is pretty much the definition of catharsis - a (no wonder!) wave of glorious feedback noise engulfing a feeble background drum beat in layered throes, and then dissipating into a textbook case of Microphones (post-It Was Hot...) weird-pop acoustic guitar-based melody. The unarguable turd metamorphoses into an inexplicably ingenious and beautiful cocoon, out of which its following track so gorgeously blooms.
Nature becomes, after relived and similar experiences of the album, an oddly profound stream of musical collage that punctuates apparent offal with awfully tender and rending moments. Indeed, the titular theme of nature is an impressively developed one; preset compositions, fixed sequences, fluid recordings, are given the shaft in favor of a recording in which errors, skips, fractures, and downright abrupt mood shifts play and frolick. The naturalism of its found sounds, its self-defying anti-order, is intellectually interesting and sonically defamiliarizing. "Hey (excerpt)" doesn't mind detuning its guitar in the midst of an idyllic melody and then falling apart into broken-up beats. Somehow, the synthetic ethereal warbling, elongated vocal and harmonic swoons, and tinny drumming of "P-annne-oh" offsets the ritualistic chant of the words, a-hem, "the universe / would suck your dick to make you come." Yeah, I cleared my throat and raised an eyebrow, too.
Ear-candy? No. Fascinating? Well, you've gotta admit...
So Nature is a bitch to review because despite its substantial merits and moments of loveliness, I don't know who on earth I'd recommend it to. Probably Phil Elverum devotees would get the first tip, followed by misguided lovers of The Kallikak Family. But even then, the reasons for recommendation have more to do with the fact that these people actually enjoy obscurity and avant-gardism for its own sake (cheeks turning red, I must at least occasionally count myself among the crowd). How do you recommend an album on the caveat that it takes time to "figure out," and not much else? How do you know that the puzzle pieces are supposed to fit together at all?
You don't. You slap it with a rating that at least obliquely indicates the sublime enjoyment to be found in the skeletal melody (backgrounded by, cleverly, seagull squawks) of "Land Ho!" Yet you keep it low enough to make clear that those sublime moments are at best intermittent in an experimental patchwork that generally appears to have not a clue about what melody is - the paradox, of course: the melodic moments are all the more striking for their sudden emergence and tenderness. Finally, you say, "you know what, I don't know how else to describe this stuff, but by gum it will wallop you when you least expect it, and make a kind of organic sense." What do I mean by organic sense?
How's this for the cop out: listen to the highly compelling Nature and see if you can tell. Hey, at least I didn't use the phrase "sonic journey," somewhere in there.
April 27, 2006
From Coke Machine Glow
Moths — Nature
You know the old saying about butterfly wings, well why don’t they say that about moths? Clearly Thee Moths’ “Nature” will have a lasting effect on the world of ambient music. Spinning circles with manic drum beats and eerie soundscapes that include field recordings of natural sounds, Thee Moths reflect on life while in Dundee, Scotland as well as the more topical subjects of relationships, love, and long journeys. An intriguing listen, “Nature” is a new entry in the world of indie pop that most people won’t ever see coming.
From Smother zine
A one-man phenomenon, the fact that Nature has 19 tracks on it should come as no surprise, any more than A Small Glass Ghost, the previous release from this band, was in 6 parts spread over 4 12” vinyl sides. And anyone who’s heard the ‘Folk’ EP wont be taken aback either by the birdsong and rushing wind on ‘Awake! Awake!’ which opens this CD and precede some airy melodies and light, and indeed folkish tunes. OK, ‘You Fucking Little Shits’ does its job in kickstarting the album before ‘Do not be Ashamed’, a lilting little number which (run for cover) wouldn’t be out of place on a Reindeer Section album. This sets the pattern for this collection - pulsating wells of noise ebb and give way to trademark echoey multi-tracked vocals, the tunes sounding like they’ve been recorded alternately in the middle of a expansive windy field or within the claustrophobic confines of a mineshaft. And occasionally, a new element pops in - ‘You Shitting Little Fucks’ is a lot upbeat than its name suggests, where Chicago house meets Bristolian glitchcore. It’s difficult listening - at times - for a more immediate introduction see their ‘Glytchvolk Musique Concrete’ compilation on Pet Piranha - but for the Thee Moths die-hard, ‘Nature’ sees them in the raw. [AM]
From Is This Music? issue 21
I always get a sinister feeling when I think of little stream next to the lower fields. The sound of children playing on those lazy balmy nights nurtured a fear in me. Their fractured distant laughter created an empty sadness in the air. With nothing else to challenge the noise from their young lungs, the evening felt disarmingly potent.
The day had started badly, just like every other. Instead of attempting sleep to escape the guilty feeling of not being able to remember anything from the previous night, I resigned myself to defeat and got up. I badly needed a walk but always felt like a creep aimlessly strolling alone around the village streets, no longer did I have my dog as an excuse. Instead, I sat on the bench next to the garden pond and let the horror of my behaviour drain through my nervous veins. I listened to them take the bins away to be emptied and bitterly dreaded whatever was going to replace the sound of their hard work activity. Pointless reversing lorry alarm. The shubunkin goldfish looked healthy and bored beneath clear still surface of the pool. I wished I could join them.
As small children, we weren’t very good at catching fish from the little stream next to the lower fields, we were always runners up to the older boys. Without the presence of grown-ups, we’d laugh with delight, free to play by our own rules. Games of nonsense and mud fights. The older boys had outgrown all this though. They occupied their attentions with the fish they’d caught. Sometimes they’d fill the gills with sand and pebbles or behead them on their bicycle wheels. One boy liked to pick the eyes out with a stick. The more fiery of our group would protest against the torturing of the fish, but we were always ignored, we were too small and young to issue any real threat to the older boys. They would eventually get bored and cycle off somewhere else, leaving the remnant fish to lie blind or flip desperately on the streamside, all choking through grit-laden gills. We would then search for heavy rocks to end the distress of the fish that were still alive.
As an adult, being a victim of cruelty is my greatest fear. “Nature” by Thee Moths is an album that creates an atmosphere of despair deriving from victimhood. Sounds of birds, wind and water along with cars, malls and sticky compact discs create the audio canvas for Alex Botten’s ethereal soundscape. Making an unrecognisable distorted noise sound pretty or delicate is what Alex does well and on “Nature” this technique is used with great effect to take the listener rolling through an intimate forest of electro-acoustica. Included with the album is a track description sheet shedding light on when/where the songs were recorded which gives the record as a whole a flavour of survival and retrospection. I’m always left with a liberating feeling of hope after I listen to the Thee Moths, thanks to both the writing and recording techniques not obsessing over the predictable gimmicks of structure and production. If you’re going to own a Thee Moths album, make sure it’s this one (or a different one).
Oh, and track 11 “You Are A Great Wave” is the closest Alex Botten will get to writing a Smashing Pumpkins song.
From Rise and Shine
REVIEWS OF 'A SMALL GLASS GHOST'
THEE MOTHS A Small Glass Ghost LP/CD (Stolenwine)
This album consists of two long tracks, 'A Small Glass Ghost parts 1-6' and 'The Cooling of Lightbulbs parts 1-7'. Titles like this suggest arty experimentalism, and there is indeed some of that here. The first track begins with reverb-heavy, wordless vocals having an almost choral effect, and also coming across like a vocal version of the atmospheric guitar noise found in dreampop and spacerock. The second track begins with around half a minute of beaty noise, and later into this track there's more wordless atmospheric vocals, backed with the sound of speaking from a radio or TV programme. At the end you get an experimental sound collage. But Thee Moths aren't all about atmospherics and experimentation. They also do lofi/shambly/ramshackle pop, hushed melancholic bedroom pop, indiepop with chaotic DIY techno beats in a similar vein to Steward, psych-folk, and noisepop. A really good homemade album with plenty of variety.
Artist: Thee Moths
Title: A Small Glass Ghost LP, 2003
This is the sort of music I like, but very rarely get to hear because the live music scene is pretty much dominated by feeble post grunge guitar bands. Radios burble, floaty pre-raphaelite lasses sigh, guitars are connected to toasters and simply everyone is taking snuff.
That said, Thee Moths sometimes allow their trademark haphazardness to detract from a disciplined performance. What I'm trying to say is, the singing lurches from the ethereal and moving to the downright ropey.
There's some nice wavery string playing at about 12"30 on the 6-part track 'A Small Glass Ghost', and the breathy reverberation of the record's opening vocal harmonies prove that Thee Moths can produce the goods when they want to. Somewhere around 3"16 in 'The Cooling of Lightbulbs' sees more good bits of what is in effect lo-fi barbershop, but soon the vocal line fades athsmatically into a slough of fuzzed out electric bass, which makes the lyrics frustratingly hard pin down.
Perhaps Thee Moths are poetic geniuses; perhaps they've just reworked some Burt Bacharach numbers and are laughing at us down their sleeves. It's hard to say, but you'll probably have a fine time working it out. Recommended.
Miles Carter, Baby Tiger Zine
Thee Moths - (Stolenwine)
A Small Glass Ghost
The album is just two tracks, A Small Glass Ghost and The Cooling Lightbulbs. But each is built up of multiple parts, multiple songs, found sounds, droning ambience and tidy little arrangements. These parts work by themselves but hold onto some thread of the larger track structure. It's a funny experiment, played with fun in mind. That Thee Moths are a couple separated by 3,000 miles (Montreal to Dundee, Scotland) who recorded this gem via transatlantic tapes and flying visits, with just the most rudimentary equipment, makes it all the more impressive. A definite front-runner for art album of the year, but also a charming piece of lo-fi neo-folk ear candy.
Dylan Young, Hour.ca
Thee Moths 'A Small Glass Ghost' (Stolenwine)
Alex lives on one side of the Atlantic Ocean. Dominique lives on the other. Together, they're Thee Moths...except, of course, that they're not together. They'd like to be together, but for some undisclosed reason they're not, so they do what most couples separated by thousands of miles and a handful of time zones do: they write long, eccentric, wonderful songs together by swapping tapes back and forth across the Atlantic. (I imagine that they also engage in the occasional bout of phone sex, which is what most of you thought I was getting at in the previous sentence, but the press release makes no mention of it.)
The Small Glass Ghost EP consists of a pair of long songs, each divided into several segments or movements. These segments range from floaty ambient textures to trans-continental vocal harmonies, random beatbox experiments to rambling psych-rock doodles. The six-part "A Small Glass Ghost" crams a short acoustic pop tune, a low-rent (but harmonically gorgeous) excursion into Flaming Lips-style drill 'n' bass, and an extended, ramshackle E6-style jam characterized by off-key vocals, off-key strings and an extended spiraling end bit worthy of New Order. "The Cooling of Lightbulbs", a whopping seven-part epic, encompasses a cascading drum breakdown, a driving, fuzzed-out indie-pop barn-burner with a chorus torn from the Grunge Playbook, a pixilated faux-Bowie ballad, more drum-heavy indie-pop and a spectacular harmonium-charged finale that fades away into a recorded rain storm. "Lightbulbs" is ten seconds longer than "Ghost", but both tracks are predictably epic in scope; the EP comes in at an impressive 29 minutes, almost all of which can sustain repeated listens.
If you're a Microphones fan, or simply like plenty of grab-bag-style unpredictability in your music, A Small Glass Ghost should delight you. If you prefer a stronger, more assertive authorial presence, look elsewhere. Thee Moths' music is more of a relationship byproduct than a deliberate act, so we have to take what we're offered -- we're all basically voyeurs in this process.
You'll probably want to recommend A Small Glass Ghost to friends, but think twice before you burn or rip a copy -- Alex and Dominique undoubtedly have postage and long distance bills to pay, after all.
George Zahora, writing for Splendid Ezine
Thee Moths A Small Glass Ghost (Stolenwine) From the trans-Atlantic indie lab (Mtl, Dundee), two modular epics broken up by saccharine melody, tough digi-beats, smart rock and poetic droning.7.5 (LC)
Montréal Mirror, vol. 19 no. 33, Feb. 5-11 issue
Thee Moths -
'A Small Glass Ghost'
This album is brilliant. I love it.
Aberdeen-based readers will be familiar with Ian 'Beaker People' Simpson's style of putting computer generated beats and loops over folksy acoustic guitar....well, this is like that, but taken to the extreme.
Two tracks made up of various 'parts' stitched together in an organic manner. One of them lives in Canada, one lives in Dundee, and this is the music they produce: very artistic, well thoughtout, well produced, well sung, well played. I'm impressed. It's challenging in a nice way.
Check out the well designed webpage for more information, artwork and recordings. You might thank me.
Brian, Fudge Fanzine
A Small Glass Ghost
Second Album of Lo-fi Magic
Twenty-four-track studios? String sections? Producers? Thee Moths prove you don’t actually need any of them. You just need imagination.
Trading in experimental guitar-pop so lo-fi they seemingly couldn’t afford a four-track with Dolby noise reduction on it, Scottish-Canadian duo Alex Botten and Dominique Ferraton have produced an album rich in detail and character.
There’s plenty of people writing shy, folky indie tunes, but few create the intoxicating, womb-like atmosphere Thee Moths do, swaddling their songs in radio interference, backwards tapes, distorted drum machines, breathless angelic vocals, reedy violins and cheap muffled guitars. Think Belle and Sebastian, The Kingsbury Manx and Minotaur Shock, and a triumph of ingenuity over budget.
7/10 Tony Naylor NME
A Small Glass Ghost
By Scott Reid
December 10, 2003
Up until recently Thee Moths were a two-piece whose members (Alex Botton and Dominque Ferraton, who left after the recording of this, their second album) geographically spanned over three thousand miles (Quebec and Scotland respectively), creating their music primarily through Postal Service-style mail correspondence. Certainly it adds to the disjoined feel of these two constructions, both compiled into large suites that are arbitrary given “parts.” One could draw a direct parallel to the lo-fi indie rock of the Microphones, though an indirect line of reference could also be also made to the pastiche style of Atlanta’s cLOUDDEAD, as both of the album’s tracks break off into seemingly unrelated segments, complete with distorted drum loops and pastoral ambience. The opening section of “The Cooling of Light Bulbs” even borrows liberally from R.E.M.’s “Find the River” before gentle harmonising fades into a section that uses a radio dial as an instrument, its prominence in the mix covering the distorted pop smothered below it. At times undeniably strange, veering too far into lo-fi experimentation for the sake of itself, Thee Moths are also able to sporadically make their music sound perfectly calculated in the same way the Microphones have been able to make up for their monstrous excess with moments of brilliance. A Small Glass Ghost is a complete mess for sure, but it’s very unlikely music so originally crafted could work any other way.
Thee Moths - A Small
Glass Ghost (CD, Stolenwine)
Ik zou nu bijvoorbeeld ook naar Nederland-Schotland op tv kunnen kijken (3-0 is het nu), maar veel liever houd ik hier mijn eigen Nederland-Schotland, waarin ik als Nederlander het opneem tegen Thee Moths, een duo uit Schotland (nou ja, half uit Canada, maar voor de metafoor zien we dat even door de vingers). Deze wedstrijd kent twee helften van nog geen kwartier per stuk, die zelf wel weer uit losse nummers bestaan, maar als één track op de cd staan. Thee Moths speelt met haar lofi-popsongs subtiel rondspeelvoetbal, waarmee de bal soms rakelings langs de paal gaat, maar toch veel vaker wel in het doel belandt. Dan kan ik wel proberen tegen te scoren met mijn opmerking dat het soms best wel aan The Microphones doet denken, maar de scheidsrechter keurt dat af, want het is geen inhoudelijke kritiek en bovendien is het soms ook gewoon beter dan The Microphones. Een afgetekende overwinning voor Thee Moths dus (en 6-0 inmiddels – zie je wel dat dit veel leuker is).
roughly translates as -
While I could as well be watching Holland-Scotland on tv right now (3-0 at the moment), I'd rather have my own Holland-Scotland in which me the Dutchman play against Thee Moths, a duo from Scotland (well, half-Canadian, but ignore that for the metaphor). This game has two halfs of not even 15 minutes each, that consist of separate songs themselves, but are put as one track on the cd. Thee Moths plays a passing game with their lofi-popsongs, which sometimes makes the ball go past the goal, but even more go right into the goal. And I can try to make a goal by saying it sounds like the Microphones now and then, but the referee won't count it, as i doesn't hold as criticism and moreover, it's even better than The Microphones at times. A clear victory for Thee Moths (and 6-0 in the meantime, showing this is much nicer).
Martijn, Think Small
This is not one you encounter every day. Truly not. Jesus and Mary Chain toms thump while celestial choirs howl. BANGIN' drums BANG while something more cerebral is thrashed out. There's a Fall-like tinge, as side one's "Small Glass Ghost" clashes with the "Cooling of Lightbulbs" on side two. This is Sonic Boom's "Spectrum" meets A ZX Spectrum fed thru a distortion pedal. Fuck it. If you're a child of the early 80s, you'll remember a time when your computa game playing cut over Songs of Praise. It was "Since Yesterday", Philip Glass or listening to Sundays charts with gritted teeeth. (At least in my house.)And you loved the weekend and you HATED the fact it all ended tomorrow. And those years later when it meant fuck all, and it meant EVERYTHING. The fact this record's apparently on vinyl compounds it! It's a thing of rare (and fragile) beauty. And FUCK THIS RECORD IS TEMPERATURE DEPENDENT! Turn the heater on... And LUV!!!
5/5 Alan Burns, Indiedisco.com
<thee moths> <"a small glass ghost"> <stolenwine records>
Trying to describe Thee Moths is like trying to describe the smell of a frosty morning or the structure of love or, for a less flowery approximation, trying to catch a fart in your wallet. Their sound seems to duck and body swerve convention at so many turns that it becomes difficult to get a handle on its intentions and trying to keep hold of the slippery little beast and hold it down long enough to describe it for you good people becomes the journalistic equivalent of advanced mathematics. Despite the handicaps I'm going to stand up to the challenge and try my best and if I wildly misfire in my description then I'll probably blame the whole thing on Thee Moths for being obtuse.
The album is made up of two fourteen and a half minute tracks "A Small Glass Ghost Parts 1-6" and "The Cooling Of Lightbulbs Parts 1-7" each recorded by correspondence between Scot Alex Botten (formerly of much loved TINTV favourites Magnetic North Pole) and Canadian Dominique Ferraton. The tracks are sliced into digestible pieces running the full gamut of exploratory C86 experimentalism. The first track opens up with some wistful Julee Cruise harmonies that resonate beautifully before plopping you into a sea of randomly structured folk pop, tumble down lo-fi and off key Velvet Undergroundisms. "The Cooling of Lightbulbs Parts 1-7" however opens up a more garage like dynamism before teetering back into breathy, casually glancing harmonies, gentle atonalism and creaking music box death rattles.
As a record it definitely has an effect, it seems to be the perfect accompaniment to nursing a Saturday night hangover or, paradoxically, for using as the sound track to lance your wrists with a big knife after that big romantic break up. Maybe it is just the obscenely early hour at which I am writing this or perhaps I'm on my way out but the whole album leaves a sweetly gnawing hole in your chest and leaves an unshakeable eeriness in floating around the room. Normally I'm a stickler for structure and aggression but, like an expert pickpocket, Thee Moths have my heart in their pocket before I even know it's missing.
Whether I like Thee Moths music seems almost an impotent issue as the very physicality of it has the power to move you in a richly disturbing way and as such should be applauded at every given opportunity.
<adam farrer>, This Is Not TV
:: Thee Moths
11 August 2003 / StolenWine / 2 Trk (combined multi 13 track) CD
Another release from the excellent and eclectic local label, STOLENWINE, is from Canadian / Caledonian duo, Thee Moths. Comprising of two CD tracks, there are actually 13 pieces split over two movements (“A Small Glass Ghost” and “The Cooling Of Lightbulbs). It’s a great idea and actually listening to the whole set is worthwhile and quite rewarding. The music is a curious mix of lo-fi guitars and clever mixing and sampling. The melodies are rich and mingle West Coast harmonies with decaying industrial, urban skittering Rhythms. There’s even a swinging acoustic number that has a rumbling bass line and weirdly restrained vocals, but its sound is extremely light, but the mood intensely dark.
“The Cooling Of Lightbulbs” has some multi-layered vocal arrangements to start things off, before there’s a twisting summer swing of acoustics and trashy drums. There’s also a great piece which has single bass notes accompanied by mad machine gun samples and crashing cymbals – the melody and overall mix are superbly balanced, invoking a messy but brilliantly infectious song.
An excellent, off-kilter concoction of the strange, awkward and beautiful summing up the very best of Brain Wilson vocal moves and scratching underground, urban soaked grating frequencies.
MMMMM (5/5) http://www.manchestermusic.co.uk/
Thee Moths 'A Small Glass Ghost'
When it comes to
guitar music, originality isn’t frequently a keyword used in
modern times. It isn’t going to be used today either –
however, that is no excuse for lack of creativity. Thankfully,
despite my poor set-up of negativity, Thee Moths are not found
guilty, as their new album A Small Glass Ghost contains a
collection of sincere, personal expressions, glued carefully
together using any tools available/which they could imagine.
My first listen to this album actually involved lying in a German field on a summer evening with my headphones jarring outwards, making me look pretty stupid. However, the trees were swaying above me in the breeze and the sun was lowering in the sky, whilst the pigeons were cooing loudly over the music, and the addition of nature seemed to fit the mood perfectly. Then a present/bomb smacked me heavily on the shoulder. Lesson learned: I shouldn’t attempt to re-orchestrate someone else’s songs with pigeons, and that even though I was having a nice time, Thee Moths isn’t for everyone.
The physical recordings of A Small Glass Ghost are presented as 2 tracks – ‘A Small Glass Ghost Pts. 1-6’ and ‘The Cooling of Light Bulbs Pts. 1-7’. Fair enough. The original version of this release is only available on 12” vinyl anyway, but the translation to CD means the voyage of vinyl is recreated as fully as possible without the intervention of a pesky ‘random’ or ‘skip’ button.
As well as that defiance against convention, the band is also going against the tradition of others who start as one or two friends playing music, and gradually fill out to four or five members to match preconceptions. Instead, this line-up has been reduced to a two-piece step-by-step, though they seem perfectly content with this, and their satisfaction can be heard in the songs. This means Alex Botten shares the majority of lead vocals throughout, whilst Canadian Dominique wraps female harmonies around and throughout the tracks. Both share the tasks of composing and instrumentation, creating results that are basic yet effective, and effective is the part to be proud of.
See, A Small Glass Ghost is as lo-fi as it comes. The drums are loose, there are vocal flaws, and the style jumps part by part. It just doesn’t seem to matter though because when it’s all combined you have almost thirty minutes of enjoyable music. Without the imperfections and quirks, the album would have been a lot less interesting and probably more forgettable. I’m not saying that every band could get away with 9dB of tape hiss on a song, but sometimes such a delivery helps to get the point across.
There’s an element of bravery too. On ‘The Cooling of Light Bulbs Pt. 6’, you have Alex singing over a fuzzy rock song which has the potential to be the catchiest moment of the album, yet they choose to bury it under dead air and passing snatches of radio broadcasts. Sparklehorse used a similar trick on ‘Chaos of the Galaxy/Happy Man’, but let the song out on parole early before it was completely reformed, whereas Thee Moths prove to be much stricter with their punishment. If you can handle such treatment as the listener then you are in for a fun listen. If not, you’ll probably hate it with a passion.
At times, the music is reminiscent of Lou Barlow when he’s messing around on his acoustic guitar and not trying to write “hits” or seek the sugary sympathy that makes the girls swoon. In other areas there are too many happy “oohs and aahs” to be Lou, but it’s all good. Of everything attempted, there is nothing offered that can’t be appreciated for its simple honesty, so if you are seeking something with a little creativity and away from the norm, A Small Glass Ghost is certainly worth a go.
stevenmc, Incendiary Magazine
Thee Moths -
A Small Glass Ghost (Stolenwine)
Absolutely beautiful follow up to the eclectic 'The Need', Thee Moths have produced my album of the year so far! Split in to two sections, 'A Small Glass Ghost Parts 1-6' and 'The Cooling Of Light Bulbs Parts 1-7', this album sees Thee Moths drifting through delicate acoustic lo fi tunes interspersed with collages of sound such as rain and the tuning in and out of the radio. At times the tunes seem barely there, as if they've been washed away while others are in your face with dirty, scuzzy guitars. Alex and Dominique have taken their vocals up a notch and we get some delicious harmonies between the two and passages of Alex's subdued lullaby voice that are rounded off by the sparkling, fragile vocals of Dominique. There's warmth exuded by Thee Moths that can only come from their recording techniques, shut your eyes and it's like they are in the room with you, singing to you alone. You can sense every breath being drawn in, every nervous lick of the lips, it really is quite remarkable and listening to this has made me realise just how sterile a lot of studio-recorded stuff really sounds. A truly stunning and beautiful creation. Available on vinyl that will just add to the fantastic listening pleasure.
Grebo. Vanity Project 'zine
Thee Moths : A Small Glass Ghost - Stolenwine
The second release on Stolenwine (located 'just outside Manchester') is this album from Calendonian-Canadian duo Thee Moths. Side one's "A Small Glass Ghost" is actually six interconnecting tracks, likewise the B-side "The Cooling Of Lightbulbs" comprises of seven conjoined songs. Sometimes lo-fi beatbox and acousitc experimentation, mostly pure bittersweet sugar-coated Belle & Sebastian pop, the sound of Thee Moths is an fairytale adventure for bored and cynical ears. Heralded by great reviews in Careless Talk... and other underground publications, this is well worth your time and effort.
Thee Moths 'A Small Glass Ghost'
Pts 1-6 yes, but actually one long track. Starts. Ahh. Ahhhh. Ahhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhh. It's a load of old ahhs. Where is this going? I'm wondering the same thing myself. Stops. Then. Blam. Urgency. A folk song at pop speed, stumbling and falling over itself, on the edge of falling apart, like something from Neutral Milk Hotel only just boy/girl and guitar. Stops. Silence. Buzz. Stops. Tick tick tick. A song from a from a Fifties film musical where the high-pitched hero starts to doubt himself, but his lady joins in at the end and all is well again. Oddly, there was only a beatbox and a large bass for accompaniment. No time to wonder why. Stops. Now acoustic guitar, double-tracked to haunting effect. The bloke sings faster then the girl. This is lovely. Now there are violins as well. Mmmmm. I hope it never stops. Stops.
Jimmy Possession, Careless Talk Costs Lives
Thee Moths -
A Small Glass Ghost
Where The Need was some incredible bedroom experimentation which via Heath Robinson trickery blended the catchy fuzzpop of previous act Magnetic North Pole with some almost C86 vocal and song stylings, this is, well, something else. Really something else. ‘ASGG’ - again recorded as a duo separated by the Atlantic - is an epic, a modern Ring Cycle or Tales From Topographic Oceans; a Zaireeka or Kid A for the 21st Century. Released as nicely retro 12" vinyl, side 1 is a six-part can’t-see-the-join epic, where elaborate mouth music bookends fuzzy pop and what sounds like a fight breaking out in a kitchen utensil factory provides the basis for eerily soulful harmonies. If that’s part 4 then it must be part 6 where a gloriously upbeat piece of boy/girl pop which - considering the singer is “cleaning out the blackness in the depths of my soul” - marries a feelgood bounciness with a tune David Gedge would be proud of. Flip the album over and it’s again one track, ‘The Cooling of Lightbulbs’ which is perhaps closer to The Need in feel - 7 more interwoven pieces but more defined, meaning simpler identification of what’s on display - some dark distorted guitar pop, more elaborate harmonies, and a closing piece which seems to set far-away vocals to Ivor Cutler’s harmonium. Despite that not a difficult listen by any means, and one which you should invest time - and a record deck - in.
Is This Music?
Thee Moths 'The Need'
This is slightly different fare. I'm sure they used to be folky but we're straight in at the deep end with a big-muffed-bass led song, followed by some bizarre pop you might expect to feature in an unsettling psychological horror movie as the 'happy' music with a slightly sinister edge.The next track appears to be a luminous instrumental with a fiddle taking the stage. The fourth song reminds me of an acoustic Janes Addiction. The thirteen tracks are stitched together haphazardly, and recorded on an 8 track demo by the sounds of it. Eclectic, weird, good.
Brian, Fudge Fanzine
Trees and Rain is the most magicalest of the magical moments on this album. Fumble. Click. Hum. The near-silence of a tape recorder recording someone arranging a guitar comfortably on their knee. The nothing doing while microphones are pointed. Then. Acoustic guitars picking out a Bagpuss melody while a folk song hovers above, fragile and wispily beautiful. Then the phone rings, and it all stops. "Hello? Yep. Just a second." Click. www.theemoths.co.uk
Robots and Electronic Brains 'zine.
From Dundee in deepest Scotland Thee Moths send me their life(s) work !? Current release, 'The Need' comes with lotsa acoustic guitars and and distortion pedals with male and female vocals. A rough bedroom indie epic with quiet atmospheric bits. Their soon to be released 'A Small Glass Ghost' will be on a Stolenwine 10", showing an even more experimental side - a mix of jangly folk to confused, near Digital Hardcore noise - all better recorded with some great ethereal voices.
Clive, Here Be Monsters 'zine
Thee Moths - The Need (Tinypop - Tinypop02)
Beautiful cdr album release from Thee Moths that comes in a hand printed and numbered sleeve. Recorded between Dundee and Québec by sending tapes and recording on a mono tape recorder before being mixed and sequenced. For your money you get 13 tracks of remarkable lo-fi tunes, ranging from subtle acoustic folky numbers to heavy fuzzed out indie pop complete with hisses, bumps and coughs that all add to the charm of this release. There really are a lot of gems hidden away on this and it is so refreshing to hear tunes that are not lost beneath a ton of polished production with all those lovely edges rounded off. I could list all the tracks individually and gush about each one, but space prevents me; if you are up for dipping you toes into the murky depths below the mainstream then this will not disappoint. Check out the website too for some great DIY recording tips and some interesting artwork.
Grebo. Vanity Project 'zine
MOTHS The Need (S.O.U.L.)
S.O.U.L., or Sides of Unequal Length, is a new tape label started by the people at Victory Garden Records. Great to know that there are still people interested enough in tape labels to start new ones!
Thee Moths are a rather good lo-fi duo consisting of Alex and Dominique. Snails is a mixture of minimalist pop and really loud guitar noise. Telephone Song has a chugging, powerpop type instrumental but the song itself is 80s style twee pop meets melancholic dark folk - coming across like a cross between Talulah Gosh and Mothburner. Nation of Shania is an instrumental with violin, banjo and rumbling bass. Trees and Rain is indie-folk-pop with shades of The Carousel, but much more lo-fi. Your Everywhere is powerpop. (a thing) is minimal pop meets powerpop meets mega-noisy stuff, with a really strong, memorable tune. Come Back To Me is atmospheric folk-tinged noisepop. Now String is indie-folk-pop with two lots of drumming, one lot played backwards.
In Shadow & Light is dark folk. Chains is minimal melancholic pop in the Frank Peck/Brighter vein, but with real drums instead of a drum machine. Then the song gets REALLY REALLY noisy, with huge feedbacking guitar of the sort you'd never hear in a Frank Peck or Brighter song. Don't Tempt the Tears is a noisy instrumental that follows on from the end of Chains. 3 Tone Drum Jumble is an experimental instrumental based on drum machine and pulses of noise. Not as irritating as that description sounds though. The Voice is melancholic indiepop meets folk with a few noisyish bits, like a noisier, folkier Frank Peck. Then there's a vocals only piece that's really effective, part of it has the feel of a medieval choral piece. The Need is experimental/post-rock with quiet, almost whispered vocals. Cote Des Neigs Subway actually is a recording of the sounds of that place.
Rather lo-fi but the songs themselves are really good - I'd like to hear more from this band. Band info from firstname.lastname@example.org Label info from email@example.com
From Bliss Aquamarine 'Zine
the band: Thee Moths
the label: Tiny Pop
Oh yah, this is lo-fi - the packaging I mean. CDR album with hand painted/stencilled 'n' stamped sleeve, hand numbered (mine is 78/100) with track-listing on a photocopied insert.
Thee Moths are a
male/female duo who have somehow managed to record this album
between Scotland and Quebec. Alex Moth is unfortunately more
well-known in Scottish music circles as being very opinionated on
Internet messageboards. That's likely to have already damaged the
reputation of his music but I'm confident that if his dismissers
listened to this CD and didn't realise it was him, they'd rather
'Snails' sets things up with a quiet acoustic intro before lurching into a big, fuzzy guitar sound and some of the best home-recorded drums I've ever heard. It sounds MASSIVE. 'Telephone Song' is one of the stand-out tracks - a brisk indiepop tune with Dominique's lovely vocals. 'Your Everywhere' is a similar fast fuzzpop song and I've always been a fan of this kinda stuff, like old Pastels and Shop Assistants (yeah, ask, like, your big brother or your dad or something).
The album veers from the poppier tunes to the big fuzzy noise things like '(A Thing)' (like this one a lot). It would sound utter bollocks (probably) if it had been recorded in a 'proper' studio. This is good chillout music, just make sure you don't have it turned too loud if you do intend on fully chilling.
Rating: Three and a half out of Five
Person from a Shite Webzine.
Alex Botten left Peel favourites Magnetic North Pole a couple of years ago, and, disillusioned with their sound and playing in general, he decided to give up music for good. Fortunately this didn't last. While visiting Montreal to see long-time e-mail buddy (and now girlfriend) Dominique, they decided to form Thee Moths - a band who wouldn't let the small matter of the Atlantic Ocean get in the way of recording their debut LP.
Are you thinking this is sounding a bit Looper all over again? Well you'd be wrong, firstly because Alex and Dominique don't sing every song ad nauseam about writing a thousand letters a day and then finally sharing their home with a stray cat called Elvis, and secondly because Thee Moths are actually pretty damn good. "The Need", with Alex's parts recorded in Dundee and Dominique's in Montreal, is a lo-fi exploration of eclecticism - almost every track trying to introduce another influence or idea. I've frequently heard Eric's Trip and Sonic Youth mentioned in relation to Thee Moths, but I wasn't expecting it to make me think of so many different bands and so many different musical styles.
"The Need" does reference a lot of American bands, but not the American bands I expected. Tracks like the Dominique-sung "The Telephone Song" are fantastic blasts through three minutes of fuzz - imagine The Apples in Stereo have stood on all the pedals at the same time - careering through guitar noise and melodic vocals that somehow come together into great pop songs. Peppering the record are also gentler, folk-tinged tracks like "Trees and Rain" and "Now String" - some instrumental and some with vocals. These no doubt stem from their self-proclaimed love of Simon and Garfunkel, but also recall modern folk-touched indie from both sides of the Atlantic, including (surprisingly) Manchester's Alfie and the magnificent Bright Eyes, albeit without anything like Connor Oberst's demented singing.
For the most part Dominique's vocals work better than Alex's, but on the tracks where he allows his delivery to become fragile, desperate and, if you'll excuse the pun, needy, the results are stunning. "(A Thing)" and "Chains" are easily among the best tracks here, both containing all the fractured beauty of Galaxie 500, but with far more sophistication and variation. If he could capture this same feeling on the other songs he sings, Alex would be on to something consistently special.
I was a little nervous of this album before listening to it because it came with a lot of baggage of how lo-fi it is - I was half expecting 45 minutes of feedback with inaudible mumbling behind it. I'm glad that this wasn't the case at all. Certainly, the conditions under which it was recorded have left it a little rough around the edges in places, but on many of the songs this has actually added to their charm. Although most of the arrangements are simple, "The Need" never gets boring - you never find yourself thinking "this would be great with a lead guitar part" or "some piano in the chorus would really twist things up a bit". But then I guess that's the real trick - letting the songs speak for themselves and not overcrowding them.
You need to get a copy of "The Need".
[Jon], Stolenwine webzine
"The Need" by Thee Moths
It would be easy to listen to "The Need" once and write it off as badly recorded, self-indulgent, lo-fi pish. The album is littered with tape hiss, clicks, talking in between the songs, amp buzz etc and although this might make the record seem quirky to begin with, it does become irritating after 14 songs. The vocals are often barely audible and the feedback at the end of some songs seems almost endless.
However, after numerous spins, the appeal of "The Need" becomes more obvious. The quality of the song writing is usually of a very high standard. The male/female vocals add even greater diversity to what is already an eclectic collection of songs, which could sound disjointed and out of place together. The mood can change from distorted power pop (Telephone Song) to haunting acoustic folk (Trees & Rain) and songs which start quietly and build up to a fuzzy peak, before descending in a collage of feedback (Chains). The reason this album does not sound disjointed is largely due to the deliberate presence of the clicks and hiss, which bring cohesion to this collection of songs.
Sometimes however, Thee Moths go over the top, especially during the last four bleak and slightly disturbing tracks, which add nothing to the record for me except a feeling of anti-climax.
The beauty in these songs is usually buried deep underneath several layers of tape hiss and feedback. To begin with "The Need" can appear to be nearly impenetrable, but those who make the effort to listen beyond surface sounds are rewarded with a genuinely "tiny pop" experience.
La Realistica gives Thee Moths
Ross Thorburn from Perth band Debaser writing in La Realistica
Thee Moths - The
Need (Tiny Pop)
Lo-fi. A much overused phrase. So let's instead go for 'home-recorded' to define the sound Thee (not just any old) Moths make. Buried deep in a muffled mix are some genuine pop gems. Complex isn't always best - "Nation of Shania" is just violin and bass, but it's completely mesmerising. "Sand" is an old Magnetic North Pole song reworked [we think he means (A Thing) ] and aims for the epic. "a thing" is a weird psychedelic, er, thing, with no tune as such but it's an overpowering swell of sound [and this is probably talking about 3 Tone Drum Jumble]. "Chains" also could be described as an"epic", building as it does to a crescendo. If they ever take these songs into a a big studio with a big name producer... it probably wouldn't be half as good.
Stuart Mchugh, Jockrock
"I'm happy to
say Thee Moths album is absolutely amazing,.
I don't think I have ever heard a band that know how to use the colours of lo-fi sound as well as Alex and Dominique have done.
'Tiny pop' is right enough. Everything sounds so small - even the fuzzed-up guitars sound like they are playing through amps the size of sugarcubes. It sounds like music made by little munchkins that live between the grooves of records.
It deftly side-steps lo-fi/slowcore clichés with twee pop that isn't twee, Trumpton guitars, cavemen playing a toy drumkit, the odd medieval chant and a song that ends when a phone rings during the recording. Amazing stuff.
One of my albums of the year."
Paul McGazz, My Legendary Girlfriend
Live at SOUNDkitchen, 29th of July, 2011
Moths turn to take over VIVID came next. His gadgets comprised of wires
and synths all connected on one board, which exhumed improvised tribal
chants and spiritual journeys. The rustic lo-fi vibe from Thee Moths
home-made equipment oozed in Silver Apples-inspired oscillations."
Spirit of Gravity@ The Prince Albert, Brighton, Wednesday 31st March
THEE MOTHS (surely it should be singular for one man and a laptop?) started with a wonderfully self effacing introduction to the video he was showing of a younger version of himself as "an indie guitar god" while the now legendary loops of the Dundee yacht club cables clanking ticked away in the background. Then he knelt down over the laptop he had on the floor of the stage and got to work bringing up the volume of these clanks and distorting them, adding elements of other sounds whirling up into a pretty heady, noisy mix, at one point the video had him with guitar unslung, its head on the floor while he thrashed the strings meanwhile a curious digital analogy blasting out of the laptop, a synchronicity he seemed too engrossed to notice. He also had a bit of a mashup of a wonderful wah-wah guitar version of "America" that he tortured for a while, then we watched as cigarette butts danced in the ashtrays as he wound down to finish.
From Spirit Of Gravity
Else, Dundee 10-10-04:WILDHOUSE + Amy Hits The Atmosphere +
Thanksgiving + support
There are some concerts in life where the unexpected happens and the spark ignites - tonight was one of those moments.
On a rainy night in Dundee, to a small but supportive audience, 4 bands and artists provided what will be looked back on as one of the evenings of the year, by me, at least.
Kicking off was Small Glass Ghost (Thee Moths in 'secret gig' mode), a guy on nothing but a laptop computer. Hunched on the floor, he started with a loop of the yachts clanking in the wind recorded down on the docks. To this was soon added a jarring percussive rhythm and you thought hat what might ensue would be something extremely avant-garde. Far from it - over the next 20 minutes we were treated to a sonic attack from all manner of vari-speed percussive and electronic rhythms and beats, female vocals, powerful electronic backdrops and all manner of samples that, in a sort of structured improvisation manner, was quite an amazing sonic expeience, getting the evening off to a good start.
Then it was the turn of Thanksgiving. It was only after the set that I learnt that Thanksgiving is basically one guy and his guitar, a guy from Portland, Oregon, at that. But, tonight, he decided to use drums too - so he got the drummer from Amy Hits The Atmosphere on the kit, Sheila from Wildhouse on one of her big drums, the guy out of Small Glass Ghost on another drum and the bassist from Wildhouse on yet another drum. The result was nothing short of astounding. While Mr Thanksgiving knew the songs, the others were very much "winging it" but you'd never have guessed. With a sort of late seventies/early eighties style, almost decelerated Tom verlaine-style drawl, the lead vocal was a sort of male answer to vintage Patti Smith - one moment quite tender then sailing into seas of angst, only in a still kind of languid way, in the blink of an eye, the guitar work from strum to full-on attack, equally so. But the drummers provided that extra something that was quite breathtaking. With the others providing solid support, it was the guy on the kit and Sheila of Wildhouse leading the way - the interaction betweeen the two almost organic as one would take a lead role with the other following, the two still providing a multi-rhythmic backing that was, in its own right, prety amazing to hear, but then, almost imperceptibly, for the roles to change as this powerhouse of drumming delight just charged through the airwaves and held you captive. I thought it was the most amazing drumming I'd witnessed in years - but that was before Wildhouse came on!!! Credit to Thanksgiving though - the songs, delivery and guitar work were his - on a good day that would be enough to witness as it was with its post-punk sensibilities and delivery - but tonight he allowed something very special to be created, something that will probably never be repeated.
Next up was Amy Hits The Atmosphere, a local band new to me, but yet another talent lurking in the Dundee shadows. A trio of guitar/vocals, bass and drums, they launched into the first track with a sea of riffing and a good song ensued but it wasn't until the second song that I started really to warm to the band - at this point my thoughts wandered to shades of nu-metal UK, a band such as Fony perhaps, only with a more anthemic American feel to things, and the song strucure simpler with some strong playing thoughout.The third track I noted as "nu-metal country" - by that it was a somg that had real structure and feel but then became highly charged as the band created this searing sea of riffs and rhythms on top - powerful but not really metallic, but seriously good stuff. By the third track you realise that this guy's actually got a great voice and is delivering the songs superbly, not too upfront in the mix but easlily heard, the track having a slow start but then it's full steam ahead as a slice of molten riffing Americana is unleashed on the best original track in the set. The band ended on a rendition of Camper Van Beethoven's "Take The Skinheads Bowling" which just suited them to a tee, and that more than anything gives you some idea of the style, strength and power the band possesses - must check them out with a longer set sometime.
Finally, it was Wildhouse. As you'll know if you've read the previous review, they knocked me out first time round. By now I'd been introduced to the band to find it is actually Sheila on drums, Paul on electric guitar and Peter on second electric guitar - no bass, and I'd not even noticed! But would it be as good second time around - the band prepared the stage - two huge drums at the back, Sheila,the drummer, standing up, all in black wearing shades, Paul also in black and Peter stage left wearing something more vibrant. This time around the set opened with a sort of dark, close harmony song that had echoes of late sixties West Coast-meets-NYC to it and a languid sea of guitar backdrop before, almost as soon as it had started you felt, it ended - a signal from Sheila - and then - boom!!!!!!!!!! - that drumming began - and the shivers run up the back of your neck as the band launch into a set that only they can deliver. This is power and Krautrock and originality and early Velvets all rolled up into one amazing sonic experience
The guitars begin a sonic barrage with a sea of sound rather than lead or rhythm but so dense and yet so hypnotic, as Paul's lush vocal becomes both song and textural layer, actual lyrics but almost buried in the mix, yet so necessary as a song content. As the set progresses, Sheila's drumming gather pace and strength - as if it wasn't strong enough to start with - the booming rhythms she plays, making the likes of Dinger of Neu and Liebezeit of Can look like also-rans, as this immense polyrhythmic thunder blasts out, the spectacle of Sheila standing there blasting out the resounding, resonant rhythms on these two floor-standing drums, simply jaw-dropping. Over this, the two guitarists burn, swirl and howl, a huge barrage of guitar textures surrounding you in rapturous waves of sonic delight. At some point in the third track, Paul, from out of nowhere, unleashes a guitar lead that I can only liken to a hi-inetnsity Neil Young, as this scorching electric guitar work, notes and chords glowing red-hot, surges from the speakers on a positively jaw-dropping solo, all the time the immense drumming powering out while the guitar assault from the other side of the stage is wrapped in feedback and drowns you in a sea of sound.
A final track is an extended improv that takes you places no other band can lead - even for this band, they up the anti - Sheila's drumming accelerates, her head down and buried in this mass of long black hair like a manic Damo Suzuki of the early seventies, becomes ever more intense and breathtaking, so powerful that you think the floor's gonna open up any minute and suck you into the depths, or that she's simply going to explode. All around, the guitars blaze with hi-intensity soundscapes as Paul suddenly stops, lays down the guitar and delivers his languid vocal along with the tinkling of thi s meallic percussion that is suspended in front of him, the mix so good that, even with drums and second guitar on fire, you hear this incredible slice of subtlety on top of it all - simply amazing!! The drumming becomes ever more intense as Sheila positively erupts while Peter's guitar work turns almost organically into a massive howl of feedback-laden electric guitar storm for the final minutes of the set, as the band go nuclear - then, almost as suddenly as it began - it stops - and you actually want more - much more.!!!
The day after the concert and all I can think about is this band's performance - they are one of THE most fantastic live acts around today - if they'd been on again tonight, I'd have been there, and I could almost weep when I think I missed them on Friday night at the University. They surely MUST be destined for greater things - you owe it to yourself to check this band out - awesome doesn't even begin to do them justice!!
From Dead Earnest
I was really looking forward to
this gig, although it was always going to be different - 3
acoustic acts in a tea shop in the south side of Glasgow, one
from Coatbridge, one from Dundee and one from the USA! All three
were superb and below is a wee bit on each performace;
First up was Beerjacket. I've written loads about Peter and don't really have to add much more here (see below). A superb set as usual and the new stuff continue the winning formula. Check out the new stuff at http://www.beerjacket.co.uk
Next up was Thee Moths, which is currently made up with just Alex Botten. This was a band that I had wanted to see for some time and Alex short set was excellent and very well received by the small audience and I for one look forward to seeing them again soon. http://www.theemoths.co.uk It was also great to talk to Alex after the gig and the new cd single is heartely recommended.
The finale of the night was Adrian Orange, or Thanksgiving as he is know, all the way from Portland in the North West corner of the USA. His first few hours in the UK had been plagued with transport problems but luckily he arrived on time (after going a little too north on the train - Inverness!) and played a brilliant set. The end involved the audience humming the chorus and Adrian sitting at the front of the stage, simply stunning.
I left the gig 2 cds the better and with the realisation that desite the rubbish and nonsence crammed into the charts, small corners of the world can spring musical talent of an extremely high calibre.
Al, Indie Matinee
Chris T-T may be the scariest-looking man in pop. Forget Marilyn Manson, with his girly makeup and humpy expression, this guy peers out at you from under a mop of curly hair, a fiercely intent look on his face, and a desire to Make You Aware Of The Issues At Hand. Yes, that's right, it's political agit-pop at Baby Tiger. Or at least it would be if the incompetent sound engineer could get the vocal level up to 'understandable'. As it is, you're just gonna have to assume that he's setting the world to rights. The music itself is tight, sweeping, a little bit folky but urgent and extremely catchy. And the drummer plays harder than anyone in the whole world ever, ending up a very sweaty man indeed. Excellent stuff.
The Supergun sound like they should be a normal, bog-standard rock band who lost their way somewhere (er, that's a compliment, actually). It all goes wonky between the guitars and the vocals, and therein lies the charm. In the great tradition of Pavement and the Pixies, singer Jim combines passion with woozy off-kilter tonality to create something unique. The song structures are ambitious also – 3-part movements and lots of orchestral swells, difficult to pull off with only guitar, bass and drums but they acquit themselves well.
Sacred Heart Losers sound like the Velvet Underground, right down to the slightly out-of-time drummer and insane shouting at the end of the set. They even do a cover of Heroin, for God's sake. There are some original ideas in there, but not enough right to for them to be taken entirely seriously. Is it a joke? Or are they just post-modern? Who knows, frankly. They've got a decent amount of energy live, and their songs are very enjoyable, but they need to find their own voice.
Alex from Thee Moths started the night with a tuneful solo set, probably one of the more accessible we've heard from the man. The songs were short and punchy, and the set wasn't even ruined by a cover of Cameo's Word Up, a risky venture most of the time. Respect.
The Painfully Alone / Thee Moths
Dundee Art Bar, Monday 28th July
Okay, confession time - I never intended to be at this gig. I was here to speak to a man about a dog, so to speak, but I missed my bus and hung around. For this I was treated to a rare performance by Thee Moths of selections from their current A Small Glass Ghost LP and a forthcoming EP (But sadly no Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince covers). Dominique's fragile vocals add another dimension to Alex's folky strums, hinting at a parallel universe Cinerama had David Gedge veered off down the path marked Simon & Garfunkel. At one point guitars are abandoned completely for rudimentary percussion with surprising success. Luckily, Thee Moths have enough of a way with a tune (see "Universe Prayer") to compensate for any self-indulgence.
For the uninitiated, Casiotone For The Painfully alone are in fact (in true lo-fi fashion) just one man and his songs. Much gruffer than on record, Owen Ashworth's songs bring to mind Tom Waits covering Eels with only an array of old keyboards and a tape player for company. Casiotone trade in succinct ruminations on love and heartbreak, mice and bridge tolls. By turns amusing and touching, Owen strikes gold with "Tonight Was A Disaster" and "We Have Mice". In a sea of bedroom troubadours, Owen keeps his head above water by ditching de rigueur acoustic guitar strums for something different, if not groundbreaking. Not a disaster at all then.
Michael Lambert, Is This Music? magazine
Thee Moths, Starka Bar, Motherwell
A live debut for this transcontinental duo (augmented by Mercury Tilt Switch's drummer [actually it was their guitarist Ant playing drums for us]) - and having recorded their debut album via an exchange of cassettes between Dundee and Montréal it's unsurprising that they're only been able to rehearse a handful of songs. Or, indeed, that Dominique is rather nervous, being more used to performing to a tape recorder. However, the fragility and the intensity of the album comes across surprisingly well live - 'Snails', with its colossal drumbeat and buried vocals sends the unsuspecting punters scattering while 'Telephone Song', by complete contrast, is very C86. That's the bands biggest selling point, the switch from slightly twee pop to big rock monsters like 'Chains'. They even do lo-fi live, kind of - the closing 'Come Back To Me', via a simple mike and delay pedals, is transformed into a swirling mess of sound with the phrase repeating for what seems like for ever. We await the full band's world stadium tour with interest.
Stuart McHugh, Is This Music? magazine
"Thee Moths, 13th Note Club, Glasgow, 9th December 2001
A Moth, in fact, plus hired hands. and initially a change indeed from the semi-legendary Dundonian fuzzmeisters thanks to The Other Moth residing in Canada. Featuring solely acoustic guitar, the fractured beauty of '..Céline Remembrance' will stay with the audience for some time. Whereas the feedback-drenched closing epic ''Chains' showed that the full band will (eventually) be a force to be reckoned with.."
Stuart McHugh, Jockrock
review from the same show....
Some lovely ambient guitarwork here from Thee Moths with a surprisingly soft melodic vocal from big Alex who was the only real member of the band onstage as the rest of the band were out of the country at the time so members of the other bands gave a hand. Fantastic screeching distorted guitar solos filled the air. Lovely!
G. Grant, Scot-Buzz
Comments about a solo show Alex played....
alex opened the night with his set of lo-fi pop tunes including my fave magnetic north pole song. he played from behind a pale green sheet as a light shone through it which was raised slightly behind him. all the audience could see was his silhouette throughout and it looked amazing. everyone was talking about it afterwards and it certainly was one of the most original things i've seen at a gig for ages.
Andy McGarry, Mercury Tilt Switch
Dundee, Westport Bar Sat 12-10-02 The last time I saw Alex Botten live, it was with his previous band Magnetic North Pole. The change in approach since then couldn't be more stark. Mixing old MNP material with recent Thee Moths songs with just voice and guitar, Alex proved that he actually has a lot lovelier and clearer singing voice than his records imply. Sadly I think his playing behind a sheet was lost on much of the audience, who *may* just have paid a little more attention had Alex been visible.
Mikee Lambert, The Gentle Art
Thee Moths Folk
My first encounter with Thee Moths mainman Alex Botton was years ago in Dundee when sidca shared a bill with one of his previous outfits Maps of Jupiter, I was enthused by the gig, probably less by the bands music and more by the fact that they spoke a musical language I could understand and that he played a Jazz Master and had about a hundred different fx pedals all wired up on stage. Anyhow, this is a ZIP download ep that’s available through the Thee Moths homepage. This works more like a document or field recording rather than traditional pop record, it’s atmospheric and brimming with ambient sounds, but as such it works and is well worth tracking down and dumping on your hard drive. That said I prefer it when Alex tackles the warping of more straightforward songs, the like of which are on Thee Moths soundclick page, but this is great for just getting lost in.
From Insect Rock
Thee Moths – Ppep EP
A Scottish underground legend, Alex Botten came to my attention on the Jockrock message board by berating various ladrockers for their petty bitchiness and small minded attitudes. The fact these morons would sniff at his “music” (their inverted commas, not mine) only made me want to investigate further. The recent Folk EP was his most experimental yet, mixing folk songs with field recordings and laptop noise. This EP incorporates those elements into Botten’s melodic lo-fi fuzzpop with charming results. Having recently relocated to Sussex, Botten begins the EP by raising two fingers to his hometown in Dundee Is A Smothering Darkness where a pretty acoustic song emerges from the lo-fi murk. Is he invoking his escape to the bright lights of Brighton? Who knows? It’s damn good all the same. The Bright Sun ruptures wispy female vocals with digital flatulence while The Sounds Are There is a simple acoustic ditty put through a heavy rinse cycle. Gregorian hums and bird song flutter into the mix as it segues into the catchy Sebadoh pop of Close The Blinds. Yet even that song is sabotaged by some mischievous pitch bending. In the closing Are Your Feet Tangled Up In Roots? the machines take over completely, submerging voices and loping beats in a swamp of glitch and interference. Another great wee EP from Thee Moths.
Moths/The Faeries split 7" (Banazan)
Merrily keeping vinyl alive, Banazan has a couple of recent 7" releases, the first being a split between Scotland's Thee Moths and the Faeries (Miss Banazan, herself!). I sometimes have a problem with Thee Moths' more psychedelic side that they frequently show on their full lengths; however, on their more focused songs found on singles (like this one, for example), I think they're just terrific. True to Thee Moths form, this song sits on a fine line in between the Microphones and Elevator, simultaneously dark and upbeat. On the flip, the Faeries remind me a lot of Mirah or maybe a slower song by the Melons. Consisting of just drum machine, guitar and multi-tracked vocals, this song (about Ruby's cat) could've been about a minute shorter, but is still nice nonetheless. MTQ=2/2
Thee Moths 'Folk' (www.petpiranha.com)
An hard listen as the now-relocated Dundonian experimentalist attacks seven traditional tunes. Recorded in situ, the wind batters the mic, obliterating a muttered 'Bonnie Dundee' while 'Scotland The Brave' is deconstructed in a wave of glitchcore. But for the lovely floatiness of 'Tha Mi Sgith' alone - with the light gaelic tones of Kaye Brewster (Electroluvs/Giardini di Miro) - this is worth checking out
Stuart McHugh, Is This Music?
sand in our pockets • total gaylord records • 2004
I don't know if the late John Peel ever played Thee Moths, but they seem like the kind of thing he would have liked; there's a primitive immediacy to their folky, lo-fi recordings that I think Peelie would have responded favorably to. This disc is a 4-song E.P. from the duo of Alex Botten and Dominique Ferraton, recorded at Botten's home in Scotland.
The opening track "Universe Prayer" has a thumping drum beat, and fuzzed-out bass and guitar. "Stereo Breath" makes the most of spare ingredients, consisting mostly of percussion and a simple keyboard line. "The Stream" is quiet and acoustic until a sudden interruption from Iron Man at the end. These three tracks feature whispery, recorded-under-the-blankets lead vocals from Botten, and the final track, "Air Pressure", puts the spotlight on Ferraton.
Beyond their self-professed Eric's Trip influence, which I can definitely hear, there's also something in the hushed, minimalist quality that reminds me of Movietone. This is a modest release, but I hear something special here and am looking forward to what comes next from them.
Thee Moths –
"Sand in Our Pockets"
Score: (some random greek letters)
Thee Moths’ "Sand in Our Pockets" was, according to its liner notes, "recorded by Dominique and Alex at home during June and July 2003." Judging from the album’s hushed sound, the group must have recorded it in their bedroom closet. Rickety acoustic guitars and drum loops give this nine-minute EP a considerable sense of privacy, while the lyrics pursue the quixotic philosophical strategy of attempting, through introspection alone, to understand all things (e.g. "Universe Prayer," the first song on the EP). After Kant’s ill-fated bid to conquer metaphysics without once leaving Konigsburg, you’d think that young pensive types would recognize the limits of introspection.
THEE MOTHS - Sand in our pockets (Total Gaylord Records)
However much I musically digress
into drone rock, fractured guitar noise, improvised folk or
anything else which tickles my fancy, I can still never get
enough of good ol' sweet-natured indie-pop. To me there's
something magical about pure, non-cynical, non-ironic melodic pop
music, and I'm glad that people still continue to stay 'true to
Thee Moths I know next to nothing about, so I'm pleased to say that the four tracks on this CD line up in my mind alongside a legacy of records which I own - anything from early 80s Cherry Red acts like Tracey Thorn or Felt, through the tweer side of Sarah Records' output, on to (often American) modern indie pop. At the beginning of the first track, 'Universe Prayer', there are Robert Wyatt-esque vocals humming gently over gentle, folky-sounding melodies which remind me of the quieter moments Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. And so it continues through the rest of the CD - plaintive, simplistic guitar lines and almost whispered female vocals adding to a feeling of warm introspection. This music has a nicely ramshackle feel to it, but backs it up with simple, but accomplished songwriting.
Simon Minter, Diskant
Thee Moths Sand in Our Pockets (Total Gaylord)
With one foot in Dundee and one in Montreal, Thee Moths' darling boy and girl vocalists mingle over four tracks of lo-fi, folky, foggy indie rock
8/10 Montreal Mirror.
Sand In Our Pockets
deep. Let the clean fresh sound fill your lungs. Breathe
out and let your troubles leave your body as you take
comfort in the tranquillity of the music which mirrors
the natural beauty of the universe.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to “Thee Moths”, who although they seem to have a line-up which changes more often than the weather they are primarily a Scottish-Canadian duo of Alex Botten and Dominique Ferraton.
Their new E.P. “Sand in our Pockets” is a simple and sweet lo-fi recording that weaves gentle guitars and endearing vocal harmonies. It begins with “Universe Prayer” which trips through a whimsical conversation between a lost soul and the universe.
“the path is there beneath your feet, walk far and free.”
By contrast the “The Stream”, the third song on the E.P. tells the story of a man very much at one with his surroundings. The splendour of the surroundings are described in vivid detail to a backdrop of an understated yet dramatic drumbeat.
Sand in our pockets is proof that life doesn’t need to be complicated and hi-tech. In fact it is proof that it is better when it is not.
Thee Moths - "Sand In Our Pockets" cdep (Total Gaylord)
Split between Scotland and Montreal, Thee Moths is the work of Alex & Dominique (though Alex does the lion's share of the writing and recording). They have a few releases under their belt already, but this is the first one released on an American label. The duo's love of the Microphones and Rick's songs in Eric's Trip & Elevator To Hell (which, incidentally, influenced most of the Microphones' material as well) is very obvious on this disc, from the style, songwriting and recording methods all the way to the artwork. The songs are generally lo-fi on the surface, but if you look into them, you hear quite a lot going on (not to mention that this is very much a "headphones" record). Clocking in at nine minutes, this EP is fairly brief, but it makes very good use of its short time.
Thee Moths Sand In Our Pockets (CD-EP Total Gaylord)
De ‘r’ zit weer in de maand dus we zullen wel allemaal verkouden gaan worden. Maar als alles meisjes dan net zo hees gaan zingen als zangeres Dominique van het Schotse duo Thee Moths dan hoeft het van mij nooit meer mei te worden. Alleen al om opener Universe Prayer, waar dit het duidelijkst tot uiting komt, is deze ep zijn geld dubbel waard: een mooie tweestemmige jongen-en-meisje lofi-popsong, zoals The Microphones die soms lijken te gaan maken en zoals Eric's Trip die tien jaar geleden regelmatig echt maakte. En waar zelfs een paar afraffelnummers de ep niet meer slecht hadden kunnen maken, komt Thee Moths met nog drie ingetogen zelfde-laken-een-pak songs. Mooi mooi mooi.
From Think Small
(Freetranslation.com comes up with this....
The ‘r’ stretch defense in the month thus we will well all cold will become. Only as everything girls then neat so hoarse will never sing as a singer Dominique of the Scottish duo Tea Moths then needs the of me more May to become. Only already more open Universe Prayer, where this clearest till expression comes, is this ep its money double landlord: a beautiful two sober boy-and-girl lofi-popsong, as The Microphones that sometimes appear to go make and as Erics Trip that ten years ago regular marriage made. And where even a few afraffelnummers the ep no longer badly had can make, comes Tea Moths with yet three modestly same-reprehend-a-package songs. Well well well.
.....I think that it says something along the lines of being worth twice the money and the reviewer likens it to what the Microphones are doing now and what Eric's Trip did 10 years ago
UPDATE! Martijn sent me this clearer version today....
basically it says that as the colder season has started (we say "the r is
in the month's name") people are getting a cold and that affects their
voice - referring to the female singer. This is meant as a positive thing
- as I like this kind of voices - and it comes out best in the first song,
without the others being bad. The songs remind me of what The Microphones
did sometimes and Eric's Trip did a lot some ten years ago. Nice nice ep.
An english language review of Sand In Our Pockets!!
Thee Moths Sand In Our Pockets (Total Gaylord)
Four crackling, idiosyncratic guitar pop songs. Lots of little bits crackle and shine, but the real star is the songwriting, which is incisive and yet loose enough to be quite inviting. Not quite folk or rock or well, anything else. And that's cool with me.
Two Italian reviews of the Sand In Our Pockets EP.....
Nati dalle ceneri dei Magnetic
North Pole, i Thee Moths si sono gradualmente ridotti alla
persona del solo Alex Botten, la cui ispirazione in perenne
equilibrio fra sospiri folk e tentazioni fuzz non pare conoscere
flessioni. I quattro pezzi di questo EP vanno dal quieto feedback
frusciante di "Universe Prayer" al puro twee-folk a due
voci di "The Stream" passando per le Microphonate di
"Stereo Breath", nascosta sotto uno strato di battimani
e sospiri. Pop sotto chiave, introverso a dispetto del munifico
brulicar di idee che lo caratterizza. Il <i>wyrd
folk</i> della conclusiva "Air Pressure", oltre a
suggerire attenti studi d'epoca, è magnifico anche quanto a
fattura ed esecuzione, una perla da tramonto che ammicca alla
Incredible String Band dal fitto dei boschi. Impossibile dire
come Botten (accompagnato in metà dei pezzi dalla voce della
<i>fiancée</i> Dominique Ferraton) riesca a fare
tutto così bene, ma sappiate che non è nemmeno la prima volta.
Un EP - e una band - da lento ma inesorabile innamoramento, il
cui unico difetto è l'eccessiva brevità.
(Babelfish comes up with this translation -
Been born from ashes of the Magnetic North Pole, the Thee Moths gradually has been reduced to the person of the single Alex Botten, whose inspiration in perennial equilibrium between sighs folk and temptations fuzz does not seem to know bendings. Four pieces of this EP go from the quiet ustling feedback of "Universe Prayer" to the pure one twee-folk to two voices of "The Stream" passing for the Microphonate of "Stereo Breath", hidden under one layer of battimani and sighs. POP under key, introvert to dispetto of the munificent one brulicar of ideas that characterize it. The wyrd folk of conclusive "Air the Pressure", beyond suggesting attention studies d'epoca, it is magnificent also as far as invoice and execution, a pearl from sunset that winks to the Incredible String Band from the driven in one of the forests. Impossible to say as Botten (accompanied in half of pieces from the voice of the fiancée Dominique Ferraton) it succeeds to do good all therefore, but you know that it is not not even before the time. A EP - and a band - from slow but inexorable innamoramento, whose only defect is l'eccessiva brevity.)
I Thee Moths ora sono il progetto di Alex Botten, da Dundee, Scozia. Attorno ad Alex ruotano di volta in volta diversi collaboratori: ad accompagnarlo in queste quattro canzoni di delicatissimo pop c'è la voce, la chitarra, il violino, il battimani e un po' di fremiti della ex fidanzata Dominique Ferraton, che sta a Montréal, in Canada.
(se volete saperla tutta, al momento Alex si è messo con Milly, hanno pure un gruppo, si chiamano Thee Infinite Golden Universe e suonano dub).
"Sand in our pocket" si apre con una incalzante Universe prayer che suona come una specie di REM filtrati da una coinvolgente bassa fedeltà, tratto che ritorna anche nello scarno folk di The Stream.
Questa cosa della bassa fedeltà e del do it yourself, poi, Alex, l'ha studiata a fondo e vi consiglio di leggere i suoi illuminanti consigli sul "Perché registrare in casa".
Però è Stereo Breath, la seconda traccia, a rimanermi in testa come un interrogativo, come qualcosa che pur sforzandomi non riesco a ricordare. In Stereo Breath, tutto sbatte, rimbomba, lontano, si avvicina, continua altrove, senza di noi. La voce è sommersa dal disordine scandito con passo marziale. Un attimo prima della fine, quando credi che quel nervosismo non si possa risolvere in nulla, le due voci si alzano, si uniscono, è poco più di un sospiro. Passa in fretta ma tutto per un attimo resta sospeso. Bello.
Di questo è fatta la sabbia che ci si ritrova nelle tasche (un verso che ricorre anche in Bob Corn, buffo) alla fine del disco, tra le pieghe del vestito, ali di falene, ricordi trasparenti.
(can't read Italian? Neither can Babelfish apparently! -
The Thee Moths hour is the plan of Alex Botten, from Dundee, Scozia. Round to ruotano Alex of time in time various collaborating: to accompany it in these four songs of most delicate POP c'è the voice, the guitar, violino, the battimani and a po' of fremiti of the former fiancèe Dominique Ferraton, that it is to Montréal, in Canada. (if you want to know it all, at the Alex moment it has been put with Milly, also have a group, they call Thee Infinite Golden Universe and they play dub). "Sand in our pocket" it is opened with a chasing Universe prayer that sound as a species of REM leaks to you from being involved a low fidelity, feature that returns also in the scarno folk of The Stream. This thing of the low fidelity and of I give it yourself, then, Alex, l'ha studied to bottom and council to read to its illuminant councils to you on the "Perché to record in casa". But it is Stereo Breath, the second trace, to remain to me in head like a question mark, like that also straining to me I do not succeed to remember. In Breath Stereo, all it blinks, rimbomba, far away, it is approached, it continued elsewhere, without of we. The voice is submergeeed from the disorder scandito with martial step. A moment before the aim, when creeds that that nervousness cannot be resolved in null, the two voices are raised, join, is little more than a sigh. It passes in a hurry but all for a moment it remains suspended. Beautiful. Of this it is made the sand that us a back that resorts also in Bob Corn, funny is found again in the pockets () to the end of the disc, between the folds of the dressed one, wings of falene, transparent memories.)
EP Club #3 (CD)
... and the Asaurus machine rolls onward! This is #3 in their EP Club series which I should mention again is a pretty good deal if you want to find out about newish indie bands. Always works of art, this particular package was nicely wrapped in beautifully printed transparent tracing paper and red construction paper. I still maintain that we as Peoples (or shmats, if that's the case with you) are still a very visually oriented species, and that music can't exist in a vacuum wholly on its own. It needs prodding and presentation to get into the limelight. You can say all you want about the "music" being the only thing that matters but it doesn't hurt to put yourself ahead of the game by making it look interesting.
Anyhow, the 4 bands this month are: Sinkcharmer, Solvents, Patterns In Paris, and Thee Moths. I've heard of Thee Moths on Indiepages, so I was curious about them from the get-go. The style ranges from nice, interesting pop to downright bizarre. "As Fletcher Makes Straight His Arrow" starts off like a straightforward song but ends with a really nice chorus of gentle wispy humming. "Seahound" kinda reminded me of Neutral Milk Hotel, while "The Singing from Operation London" consists wholly of weird moth, er.. mouth noises ala Bobby Mcferrin.
The other band on the CD that I'd heard of before are Solvents. "Psychic Birds Don't Crash" is a nicely strummed acoustic number as are most of the songs, although this one reminded me ever so slightly of that Kansas song "Dust in the Wind". "Convince Me" and "Just Like Living Alone" are also acoustic but substitute hand claps (his hands must have sure gotten sore) for drums to keep the rhythm through the entire songs. Singer Jarrod reminds me of James Mercer of The Shins crossed with Mark Kozelek. I like the melodies on these songs a lot.
Massachusetts based Sinkcharmer create wiggly little tunes, sometimes driven by banjo and other times by twitchy keyboards and drum machine beats. One thing I like is that switching of lead vocal between male and female voices like on the song "1904". That really works, in the way that Elk City can pull it off really well. Jen Godfrey has a great voice, a bit like Mia Doi Todd. Compositionally, they remind me slightly of a band I've been into lately, Slomo Rabbit Kick, though they aren't as goofy. Or maybe they are, as evidenced by the skronks, beeps and firecracker drums of "She Was the President" which is about a van that died??? Fun stuff.
Patterns in Paris are one part Mates of State, one part Pixies and five parts very interesting emotive power pop. Man these indiekids are pretty young.. their ages range from 18-20? Sorry, I forget I'm an old, old rabbit, like twice the age of everyone here. Anyhow, I liked the electroparanoia of "Lights Off" and the frequent mood and dynamic changeups in "Ten Minutes More" was great. The snappy discoish beat of "The World Is Smaller Than You Think" makes a great contrast to the more subtle guitar and keys, and ends up being almost anthemic near the end. This band is really good, they end up sounding emotional without being too self-absorbed. Well, as usual so much good music, so little time. It's back to the burrow for me.
- review by RABBIT on Schmat.com
Thee Moths - 'Hey Hey Hey' b/w 'In The Dawn They Call The Rising Sun And It Comes' (quietmagickillswitch)
If it's not vinyl double albums or handmade booklets then it's cassette singles and the lead track is classic Thee Moths, whispered vocals over a clattering backing. 'In The Dawn They Call The Rising Sun And It Comes' is the "b-side" and despite a title almost longer than the track it's a chirpy acoustic tune in the vein of alt.folkie James Yorkston.
SMcH, Is This Music?
All their broken hearts - a Paperheart tribute to Julie Doiron
Tiny indie label Paper Heart (co-run in Hamilton and Nivelles, Belgium), debuts its first proper CD issue with this tribute to singer-songwriter Julie Doiron. Doiron rocked out as a bassist in Eric’s Trip and on her own has performed quiet, slow, introspective songs. and it’s these two aspects that are highlighted on 24 covers here. The best known artists are in fact Doiron associates: Eric’s Trip band-mate Chris Thompson puts forth some pysched-out acid rock on his Moon Socket version of “The Best Thing For Me.” East Coast contemporaries Orange Glass put banjo and beats to the task for their subtle “Five,” while collaborator Snailhouse does “Again, Again” up with his distinct voice. For the most part, complete unknowns populate the rest of the CD, and appropriately, low key is the order of the day, as on the male/female vocals of Thee Moths (“Soon, Coming Closer”). Others burst out, indie rock style, like Evie on “Laugh With Me” or Lousy with “About You.” The DIY aspects, from band selection to production and packaging, are actually quite appealing, an appropriate nod to the mid-‘90s scenes from which Doiron herself emerged.
From Canadian music monthly Exclaim!
V/A - "I'm A Wee Monster"
Autant l’autre compilation de Paperheart Records, ‘hi-fi songs for lo-fi hearts’ m’avait enthousiasmé, autant celle-ci me laisse sceptique, pas tant que les morceaux présents soient ici de mauvaise qualité, non, mais toute une série de pensées, liées directement à cette compilation ou périphériques viennent m’en miner l’écoute.
La compilation est sortie en février 2002, c’est à dire il y a un an et les morceaux datent donc de 2001 c’est à dire d’il y a quasi deux ans. Avec le temps les situations et les gens évoluent et pour les musiciens que je connais déjà sur cette compile l’écoute parfois la redécouverte de ces chansons n’est pas joyeuse, avec le recul la lucidité pouvant se faire plus forte. En outre, les inconnus présents ici peinent à m’enthousiasmer, pour diverses raisons. Mais entrons dans le vif du sujet :
+ La première plage, ‘Taste Like Blue’ est attribuée au groupe belge André, or ceci constitue une erreur car elle est issue de la démo enregistrée avant la formation d’André sous le nom de Iloveplane, duo provisoire qui avait réuni les têtes pensantes de Jupitter_k et Belmondo. Il s’agit d’une petite perle bien prometteuse mais qui au regard de 2003 n’aura débouché sur rien car le trio André a été déclaré en état mort clinique. Trois minutes vingt superbes, dans la lignée de Pinback avec une touche emo pop dès plus réussies qui laissaient déjà espérer de grandes choses. Amertume.
+ Whycore est un trio canadien, ‘Those Physics’ est un très bon morceau qui rappelle assez Eric’s Trip avec une touche un peu plus slowcore. Le groupe semble n’avoir sorti jusqu’ici qu’une officieuse démo en 2001. On en voudrait bien plus.
+ Vient alors le ‘Secretly Canadian’ de A Photograph. Ca reste probablement la meilleure chanson de A Photograph en fait, quoiqu’elle soit plus poignante en version live qu’ici. Toujours ce chant folk et ses lyrics, de grande qualité, contrebalancés par une guitare des plus simple, pauvre et minimaliste. Facile de rêver à quoi pourraient ressembler ses chansons avec les arrangements qu’elles méritent.
Difficile de trouver des infos sur Google avec une chanson intitulée ‘The Search’ par un groupe s’appelant sPrinG. Heureusement, cette chanson pataude ne mérite aucun effort ni regret.
+ Par contre des regrets ça on en a à l’écoute du ‘3 Tears’ de Breezr, duo féminin belge réunissant Tine Boerjan (1m54) et Lobke D’hespeel (Mote, Gush, Belmondo). Une ambiance qui sidère comme d’habitude, des halos de brumes au petit matin, un résultat qui se rapproche d’un croisement entre les Supreme Dicks et Meredith Monk. Hélas, encore une fois ici aucune sortie prévue à l’horizon, seulement des chansons isolées, éparpillées à droite et à gauche sur des compilations, toutes autant précieuses.
+ Aucune info sur November 1959 et leur ‘A Solar Catastrophy?’, morceau atmosphérique dans son intro qui se révèle ensuite post-rock assez sombre et dépressif. Très intrigant au total, ça donne envie d’en écouter bien plus. Mais qui sont ces gens ?
+ La pochette indique alors l’inédit ‘Burying Centuries’ de Juppiter Goes Quattrocento alors qu’il s’agit au contraire de ‘Galapagos’ extrait de son dernier ep chroniqué en ces pages et qui date déjà d’il y a plus de deux ans.
+ Très lo-fi le ‘Warm Smile’ de Stereo Moon dans son enregistrement, plaisant mais difficile d’en profiter vraiment, ce genre de groupes s’appréciant plutôt sur la longueur d’un album. Pas de sorties depuis ce morceau mais des choses prévues apparemment (http://www.geocities.com/mrya7575/tripolina.html).
On descend encore un niveau dans la lo-fi avec le ‘Something I Saw But You Didn't’ de Cat Eyes. Un peu trop bas pour moi. Le son du ‘Love Someone’ de Shutter-Bug, alias Krissy, fondatrice de Paperheart Music n’est guère mieux mais la chanson réussit cependant à toucher de justesse grâce à son minimalisme et son économie de moyens.
Le ‘Days, Shorter’ de Northern Lights est également une importante déception. La première partie du morceau et magnifique, mélancolique, slowcore et poignante, comme un croisement entre Appendix Out et Low, la seconde rappelle la grâce de Hood, mais au fur et à mesure tout se détériore et le chanteur se met à hurler de façon très désagréable… Drôle de leader et de groupe – en hiatus désormais – ayant toujours composé des chansons magnifiques mais qu’il n’arrivait pas à interpréter convenablement.
Le ‘Stereo Feelings’ de Pillow, un des projets de François Milet, moitié européenne de Paperheart est trop brouillon pour plaire, la mélodie trop enterrée sous de la distorsion, la batterie pas assez dynamique. On peut zapper vite fait l’anecdotique ‘Been Away’ des Thee Moths qui me fait un peu penser à A Boy Named Thor. Le ‘Paris, Texas’ de Mote ne ressemble pas à grand chose entre psychédélisme vocal et krautrock instrumental.
Flexa Lyndo termine alors la compilation avec un ‘Fat Ass’ qui sonne comme du vieux Pavement ayant toujours 1993 au calendrier. Intéressant mais pas enthousiasmant du tout, cette efficacité de routine manque de subtilité et d’âme.
Une compilation en demi-teintes donc, pas très réjouissante pour moi du moins et qui manque quelque peu de cohérence.
V/A - "Hi-fi Songs For Lo-fi Hearts"
23-band international pop compilation from this international label (Paperheart is co-located in Belgium and Canada), with lots of great bands from all over the US, Canada, Belgium, France, Sweden & Scotland, most of them unknown. The sound of the bands on this cd range from acoustic based lo-fi-ish stuff to some more rock sounds (My Orchard could almost be called emo, and then there's Purple Knight...), but most of it is pretty much home-recorded indie rock. Some of the highlights of this cd include Wio, Evie, Lousy (who I've always quite liked and thought to be greatly underrated, though I think they're broken up now), Pillow (not the Swedish Pillow, but a Belgian one), Belmondo (again, not the Pam Berry band, but a French fellow), the Paperbacks, Autopilot, Thee Moths, Brad Senne, Flexa Lyndo, Carissa's Wierd, and more. There are a few songs that go on a bit long; the Calc tune would've been great, if they snipped off the last two minutes, and then there's Purple Knight... But on this packed cd (73 minutes!), there's lots of other better stuff to choose from.
V/A - "Hi-fi Songs For Lo-fi Hearts"
Comme le dit simplement et justement le site de Paperheart, on a droit ici à une ‘Excellent compilation of indie pop songs. Sometimes punchy and intense, sometimes rather calm and acoustic, this cd should delight all people who like indie music. This project has been possible thanks to bands from all over the world: from Belgium to Canada, from Scotland to Sweden, from France to the USA…’. On ne saurait mieux dire.
On se contentera d’expliquer que Paperheart est un label avec un pied à Nivelles (en Belgique) et un autre à Hamilton (au Canada). A l’origine une passion commune pour Eric’s Trip et descendance, reliant François Milet et Krissy Tower, qui se transforma peu à peu en relation et projet de label au nom parfait et évocateur : Paperheart.
Label lo-fi, de par sa pauvreté de moyens, mais pas de cœur, Paperheart s’est limité jusqu’ici d’abord au format cassette avec ‘The Eric's Trip show cassette (Fév. 2000 - Paper Heart #001)’, une compilation de reprises des mythiques Eric’s Trip, puis est passé à l’éternel CDR avec des sorties de groupes intimement reliés au label comme Nude, Alisse ou Pillow et une autre compilation dont on reparlera. Ces dernier temps Paperheart s’est un peu plus ouvert, accueillant le second album solo de Gregory Limpens sous le nom de A Photograph, en prévoyant la réédition d’albums CDR de Benjamin Franklin (Kraak) et Sexytiger (pré-Belmondo), et surtout en préparant sa vraie première sortie CD, une compilation de reprises de la belle Julie Doiron avec quelques noms illustres du bateau.
‘Hi-fi songs for lo-fi hearts’ car si le format est CDR, le contenu est loin d’être volontairement lo-fi et ne s’y complait certainement pas, l’énorme majorité des groupes ici présents montrant une réelle capacité et volonté d’être hi-fi et ambitieux à travers leur indie-pop. 80 minutes, 23 chansons et pas une à rejeter, enfin si, une, mais ils l’ont bien cherchée : les imbuvables Purple Knight qui terminent bruyamment le disque avec une sorte de mix atroce entre Sebadoh et Deep Purple, mais ce n’est qu’un détail en somme.
On sent à travers cet album une cohérence d’ensemble et une vision musicale à la quelle on ne peut qu’adhérer. Il y a une façon positive et vivifiante de considérer l’indie pop rock, un souci du détail et de la mélodie pop qui font de ce disque au total une grande compilation. Il distille bien-être et joie, un certain sens de l’authenticité et de l’artisanat également. Aucun groupe présent ici ne fait second couteau, tous mériteraient qu’on s’y intéresse plus.
Le travail de défrichage, d’amitiés et de sélections qui se cache derrière cette compilation est énorme. Meilleure compilation de l’année ? Plus que certainement. A un tel point que du système de croix que j’utilise pour mettre en évidence les morceaux les plus intéressants d’une compilation je dois passer à celui d’une simple ou double croix !
+ Les Suédois de My Orchard ouvrent le bal avec un ‘Something New’ à mi-chemin de Weezer et des Last Days of April. Grands instants de distorsion mélodique. Impeccable, direct et jouissif. Hit. + Sur ‘I am the riverside’, les Belges de Flexa Lyndo font preuve d’une concision, d’une intelligence et d’un minimalisme pop qui étaient devenu un peu rares sur leur second album. On s’en réjouit. Chanson pop pour dodeliner de la tête sans soucis. Jolie madeleine à la Pavement / Pixies dont on voudrait un camion plein.
+ Le ‘Au risque de te plaire’ des Belges de Melon Galia donne envie de se replonger dans leur album, musique superbe, un peu néo-folk à la Lullaby For The Working Class, un peu post-rock à la Movietone, mais on aimerait bien les voir se lâcher un peu aussi et appuyer ces mélodies vocales parfois un peu trop légères et volatiles, à la présence un peu trop tenue. + Vient alors le ‘A letter to Jean-Michel Jarre’ du belge Belmondo, en fait le morceau que j’apprécie le moins de son album CDR mais les avis divergent sur ce point.
+ + Première merveille, le ‘baby, baby, please’ de Wio, pris sur son angle le plus chaleureux et mélodique, celui le moins mis en évidence sur son premier album CD mais qui brille de mille feux en général sur les formats courts, dans ses concerts solos et participations à des compilations. Merveilleuse mélodie aussi touchante qu’accrocheuse, intime qu’addictive, avec sa guitare acoustique, sa rythmique électronique et son chant frais et aérien. Waouw !
+ Alisse est un des groupes de François Milet et ‘One Night Girl’ est étonnamment mélodique pour un groupe décrit souvent comme d’influence 80’s new wave, le clavier leur donne un petit côté The Anniversary.
+ + Seconde merveille de la compilation, le let us all act psychotic’ de Softeye qui est en fait le projet parallèle plus ou moins solo de Johan Sigerud, par ailleurs leader de My Orchard. Ca me fait un peu penser à du Hayden, la façon dont les percussions interagissent avec la slide guitar et la façon dont la voix se pose en couchers de soleil. Grandiose et terriblement émouvant. We want more !!!
+ + On ne nous laisse que peu de répit, Evie frappe aussi fort émotionnellement avec ‘Happy Somewhere’. On pense à Julie Doiron, époque ‘Loneliest in the morning’ ou plutôt aux morceaux les plus acoustiques et nocturnes du ‘Love Tara’ d’Eric’s Trip. Sacrée pépite, c’est juré, on lancera l’enquête sur Evie.
Shutterbug est le projet solo de Krissy Towers, initiatrice de Paperheart. ‘Go fish’ est plutôt intéressant mais souffre d’un son très lo-fi et d’un nuage de souffle sous lequel s’enterre une mélodie un peu âpre. Le ‘Quaterback’ de Lousy a un petit côté Lemonheads / Posies mais le son est un peu sourd et l’ensemble manque d’un grain de chaleur pour atteindre ses idoles, mais on n’est pas loin et l’inconditionnel du genre n’y verra que du feu.
+ Pillow est l’autre groupe maison de François Milet, cette fois ci dans la tranche Smudge, Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr, Eric’s Trip. C’est vraiment très bien, leur ‘everyday I lose my hair’ nous trottine en tête. + Le ‘Skinny sidewalks’ des Canadiens de The Paperbacks nous ramènent à l’indie-pop des années nonante tel que défendu par des labels comme Teenbeat, Slumberland ou SpinArt, on y plonge les yeux fermés.
+ + On jurerait le ‘snowman’ de Yessa De Paso échappé d’un des deux premiers albums de Aden ou de chez Galaxie 500. Superbe ! Qui sont ces gens ? Des Ecossais, à la discographie malheureusement inexistante.
Le morceau des Ecossais slacker de Nikita, ‘honest and earnest’ charme également, mais face à la concurrence présente ici, manque peut-être d’un peu de clarté mélodique pour nettement ressortir. + Le ‘Between here and sleep’ de Whycore est plutôt bien, mais c’est le morceau classique qui empêche de se faire une idée cohérente sur le groupe. Entre bien et exceptionnel, sorte de version masculine de Julie Doiron.
+ Plutôt pas mal et honorable le morceau des Français de Calc, ‘Cracks in the wall’, classique dans leur songwriting avec le xylophone de coutume et de jolis passages de batterie bien doux. + ‘So much more’, un des meilleurs morceaux de l’album de Brad Senne qu’on avait déjà croisé dans ces pages. Punk rock indie song ultra classique pour Deadenstereo avec ‘Their Idol’. Pas mieux pour The CockerSpaniels avec ‘my blessing’ dans un rayon un peu plus pop mais qui manque de ressort.
+ A l’écoute du ‘Evil Exist’, racé, équilibré et entraînant, on se demande quand donc les Belges de Autopilot vont se décider à sortir leur premier album, encore et toujours annoncé puis repoussé sur Studio Muscle. Bien plus confus et lo-fi par contre le ‘Théorie De Distance’ des Thee Moths, mais intrigant quand même.
+ + On ne peut que s’incliner face au ‘Bathtile Green’ de Carissa’s Wierd, extrait de leur premier album réédité sous peu et dont on a déjà parlé en long en large et en diagonale ici même. Et puis il y a Purple Knight, le seul morceau indigne de la compilation.
Magnifique compilation au total, ‘hi-fi songs for lo-fi hearts’ réussit ce que peu ont réussi jusqu’ici, c’est à dire prouver par A + B, la justesse, la cohérence et l’existence d’une scène et d’une vision musicale. Adhérez et écoutez attentivement!
Some words about the Littlest Album
One minute each for twelve Scottish bands at 33 on a 7" album. By definition, moments of beauty are fleeting but intense, and come from Bozilla (big buzz bass, sounds like a bootleg of Flat Eric with a vocal track you’ve never hear that fits perfectly), My Legendary Girlfriend (a blast of their usual), Salvation By Stories (spoken intro, rough riff, pinging fade out, feels like an epic), Thee Moths (recorded badly, a midget gem of boy/girl pop) and, saving the best til last, The Hector Collectors (also recorded badly, but described beautifully as "BMX Bandits meet Half Man Half Biscuit.") firstname.lastname@example.org www.littlestalbum.co.uk
From Robots And Electronic Brains 'zine
"It is Thee
Moths, opening the second side, who give us the most rounded
minute-long track. "The Garden of Celine Remembrance" sounds like it
has been delivered by short-wave radio - coming from far away but with endearing
warmth, picking a pop tune out of the fuzz as it goes."
From Stolenwine webzine
"Thee Moths -
Taking lo-fi to a new extreme, this sounds like it was
recorded through a telephone. Of course, this doesn't affect the quality of the
song, which is good, but not great. Nice harmonies and lyrics, but not really a
The folks at Stereo Solution Recordings might be disappointed to learn that compilations of minute-long songs are not a new idea, but few mini-song collections accomplish their aims with the charm of this little seven-inch EP. The Littlest Album presents twelve Scottish pop groups, each of whom offers a sixty-second ditty for your approval. The results, while inevitably a bit gimmicky, are generally quite pleasing.
Nibushi Shang Hong's "Leading To Little Street" opens the album in high style with a boisterous, rollicking burst of garage-rock; given the time restrictions, it's surprisingly well-formed, and never seems rushed. My Legendary Girlfriend's "A Drink and a Chat", though lower-key and dronier, follows a similar route, while Pentothal's contribution is in keeping with the band's name. Bozilla's "And For Bedheads In Scotland..." bubbles with agit-disco vibe, but is marred by its fast-fade ending, while Slowloris' Cocteau Twins-y "Stem The Rise", a highlight, is appropriately brooding and doomladen, though it sounds like it was recorded in a burlap sack. Salvation By Stories' "Ideal", which ends side one, is that rarest of all beasts, a minute-long psychedelic tune that works.
On the flip, Thee Moths' ancient-sounding "The Garden of Céline Rememberance" makes good use of its primitive recording (despite its hopefully ironic "Hi-Fi Version" tag); the tune's scratchiness keeps the boy/girl pop song from lapsing into tweeness. Kasino, by contrast, has in "See You Fall" (LA Version) one of the album's richest-sounding pop tunes, a pleasing swirl of Crowded-House melody and intricate vocal harmonies that ends a little too abruptly. Squander Pilots' unique "I Was Wrong" sounds like a four-track collaboration by the Stereo MCs and My Bloody Valentine, and Drugstore Cowboys' "Black Powder: White Vinyl" is straightforward if perfunctory jangle-pop. Purple Munkie's "Two Brass Camels" is a minute of death metal marred by vinyl problems (this track alone was so skippy, it sent the tonearm skittering across the record face), and The Hector Collectors' "Georges Braque" ends the album in vintage Television Personalities style, all fragile four-track pop and off-key but earnest vocals.
While the best of The Littlest Album's songs are frustrating by design, bringing premature closure to promising tunes, as an overall listening experience it's quite pleasurable. I can safely say that I'd like to hear more from all of these bands -- although "more" in this context could be anywhere from another two minutes to a full-length album.
George Zahora, writing for Splendid Ezine