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Outsideleft Week in Music is in with the Trees We're hearing from... And Also The Trees, Penguins Go Pop, Molly Lewis, Peter Gabriel, Kleistwahr, Idles, Inturist, Roots Manuva, Taku Unami, Hafenmann, Adrienne Lenker, The Delines, Balthvs, Alicia Keys, Dorothy Carter, Bananarama, Cat Power & Iggy Pop, Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and Malin Petterson

Outsideleft Week in Music is in with the Trees

We're hearing from... And Also The Trees, Penguins Go Pop, Molly Lewis, Peter Gabriel, Kleistwahr, Idles, Inturist, Roots Manuva, Taku Unami, Hafenmann, Adrienne Lenker, The Delines, Balthvs, Alicia Keys, Dorothy Carter, Bananarama, Cat Power & Iggy Pop, Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and Malin Petterson

by OL House Writer,
first published: December, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

Formed during the 80s post-punk era in rural Worcestershire, And Also The Trees music has often explored the dark underbelly along with the beauty of the British countryside

The Week in Music as we see it. Prevails. Actually here's what I am thinking about. Dinner. Dressing. The Party. The Cuban Embassy. What it is like to not be required. It's kinda nice. Lots of great records to hear about this week.

SINGLES

INTURIST - No Swimming (Incompetence Records)
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by Ancient Champion

Inturist's No Swimming from their LP Off-Season has hidden depths for sure. The brainchild of idiosyncratic musician and media artist Evgeny Gorbunov, Inturist provides a blend of avant rock, post-Soviet psychedelia and off-kilter cosmic electronica. The Quietus loves them, so why wouldn't you? "Inturist mix the juiciest licks found in Aksak Maboul, Gong, Dome and Rip, Rig + Panic with the best in 80s Russian pop.” This is a kind of controlled freeform magik. So wonderful, I keep reaching for the volume controls to turn it up more while hoping that if no one has stolen my vibraslap from the bookshop, I'll be getting myself sampled for future Evgeny Gorbunov sessions. A challenging and charming delight worth all of your time in this world.


KAHIL EL'ZABAR'S ETHNIC HERITAGE ENSEMBLE - Compared To What? (Spiritmuse Records)
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by Paul Mortimer

I love this video of 'Compared To What!'  If you don't know the classic Montreux Jazz live rendition of this song on Les McCann & Eddie Harris' wonderful 'Swiss Movement' album, then that's your next stop - but this new acoustic version is very cool! An absorbing melange of baritone sax, trumpet, mbira (!), cello, violin and percussion, it's 8-1/2 minutes of pure spontaneous pleasure. Now I need to explore that Kahil El'Zabar album more fully!


IDLES - Grace (Partisan Records)
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by Alan Rider

I've never been the biggest fan of Idles, but they certainly have had their moments and are a stunning live act, if not the prettiest of bands to look at.  The bass on this is understated yet rumbles so deep it could risk the foundations of your house.  How do they do that?  The sixties tinged vocals are also a departure for them, and overall this is a very atypically quirky outing in comparison to others from the upcoming 'TANGK' album, so is an odd choice for a single really. Lets see what the rest of the album is like before passing final judgement.


BALTHVS - Anouk (Mixto)
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by Ancient Champion

Imagine lunchtime in a seafront St. Leonards hotel, if you push the reverb up enough by the time the swamped in it sounds get back, it's not going to upset the stomachs of the diners. I saw the polite little trick pulled thirsty years ago and here it is still. Has me really trying to figure out the purpose of the past 30 years. Nothing's changed. Like the little meeooww at the end. Listen for it.


MOLLY LEWIS - Lounge Lizard (Could be anything)
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by LamontPaul

It's kind of great right, easy listening; and on the back of having a track on the Barbie movie soundtrack, Molly Lewis has arrived as an easy listening doyenne. Molly believes in it. There's whistling a hauntological making whoopee melody and more, there's charming percussion. There's Spacey-ness mild jeopardy.  It's getting late at Outsideleft, I wonder if I will hear one record this week that will make me think any of this is a worthwhile endeavor? As ever, just because you can, should you? It's how I feel about every word I ever read here. every bar of music I listen to hear. Come to me original people. I need you now more than ever.


THE DELINES - Christmas in Atlantis (Domino)
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by Ancient Champion

With all of the fluid lanquidity of the season of course. You can feel yourself reaching for the logs to stack up on the fire. Whether you have a log burner or not. Here's a problematic cast, less histrionic than the Fairytale of New York crew, but no less and maybe far more discomfiting. In the UK I heard of families breaking down at Christimas along leave/remain lines, but here The Delines have gone way beyond the MAGA lines and gotten every ne'er do well distant cousin, disavowed uncle, reckless teen and recalcitrant neighbour showing up to the party. It's gonna take more than a bit of clean up after I'd say. That's just the blood. It's easy to feel that that The Delines Willy Vlautin, knows these guys all too well.


BANANARAMA - Robert De Niro's Waiting (The Reflex Revision) (London Records)
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by Alan Rider

Call me an old traditionalist, but I still just can't see Bananarama as a duo.  They fell out with Siobhan Fahey some time back, despite a 2018 reunion, so Bananarama are now just Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin and have been for a while, resulting in their clumsily editing her out of old video clips. Don't worry, I'm sure she will still get a share of the royalties from this pedestrian re-working of their 1984 hit 'Robert DeNiro's Waiting'.  Listening back to this, it reminded me of a time when having little or no talent or singing ability was no barrier to success if you were determined enough.  Hard though it is to imagine, these girls were hanging around on the early London punk scene with the likes of the Sex Pistols and the have-a-go punk ethic that saw the thin talents of the Slits blossom and be amply rewarded clearly rubbed off on them.  An inspiration for handbag dancers and hen party Karaoke singers everywhere, yet having produced some of the soundtrack singles of the 80s, there is, of course, the now predictable re-issue double album coming of every hit, blurble and fart they ever produced, re-mixes, in-store signings, merchandising tat, and headline tour of the sort that every 80's chart act large and small are doing to boost their pension pots. Everyone will of course claim to have always loved them, regardless of whether they did or not at the time. This track now sounds rather dated to me, but will still find its way into your Dad's Christmas stocking regardless I'm sure. Four hearts  awarded mainly for their well known determination to do things largely on their own terms, despite the baked-in misogyny of the music industry.


MALIN PETTERSON - Santa (Die With Your Boots On Records)
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by Ancient Champion

Malin Patterson could probably sing the phone book and it would still sound like this. For older, more mature way less spirited Christmas. Where Santa is only some dude wearing a suit. Not the real thing that my kid told me well she said you can tell an authentic Santa by how they say "Ho-ho-ho..." I'm not sure Malin's makes the cut.

incredible no vid that I can find so why exist?


ALICIA KEYS - You Don't Know My Name / Will You Ever Know It? (Probably Sony)
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by Ancient Champion

Bit of time for Alicia Keys I do have. Walked down the aisle of my Roosevelt Hotel wedding to her piano ballads. You Don't Know My Name in any iteration is such a great pop record. This is a rock steady, gospel-ly chorus version... Originally the video featured Mos Def back when he was really really cool instead of just very as is he now... The other night, I was watching and listening to  poet Liz Berry talk about her writing, about the moment, moments before a first kiss. And so, here, the spoken word phone call... "Hello can I speak to Michael, this is the waitress from the coffee shop on 39th and Lennox...You know the one with the braids, I see you all the time on Wednesdays when you come in." Making set for that moment. A dodgy connection. But when she says, "What day did you say? Thursday's perfect man..." Kitchen sink romance, I can't not love it.


CAT POWER & IGGY POP - Working Class Hero (Cat Power)
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by Lee Paul

Maybe one of Lennon's more redeeming memories was when he recalled that a working class hero was something to be. This is a single from the Marianne Faithfull tribute record. Marianne was great. Cat Power and Iggy together make a weird fist of that thought. Throbbing and moping as everyone seems to do at the very idea of it. 


PENGUINS GO POP - Borderline (King Penguin Records)
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by Alan Rider

Norwich's finest, Penguins Go Pop, are back after a thirty-something year hiatus with a new reissue of a 2018 album '20th Century Pop', originally compiled to mark their coming together again after drifting apart in the '90s. So they have been back for a little while then, but this folk rock pastiche 'Borderline' shows why they were missed so much around these here parts. Recounting the tale of a band member who moved from the flatlands of Norfolk to the rolling hills and soaring mountains of the Welsh borders (hills being somewhat of a rarity in Norfolk, let along mountains!) and concluding he made the right move, its a jolly ditty that is impossible not to like, reminiscent of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.  Accompanied by a clever video you must see, it reminded me that although music can be dark and serious, all sucked in cheeks and glum moody stares, it can also be fun, with puffed out cheeks and a smile. Penguins Go Pop are certainly that and also have a knack with words that most 'serious' acts would struggle with (for example, a band like Bauhaus may well get the critical plaudits, but they won't be winning any prizes for the cleverness of their lyrics).  With a new album in the works for 2024 I'd say this lot will be popping for a while yet.


ADRIENNE LENKER - Ruined (4AD)
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by Ancient Champion

Just Adrienne at the piano. It's still all Adrienne though. The want and the need. You come round, I'm ruined. Oh man, don't we all know that feeling.


HAFENMANN - Wundersame Welt (Backseat)
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by Ancient Champion

How wonderful is the World of Hafenmann? More wonderful than anyone has bothered to tell me on any previous occasion. I'm wholly immersed already after three minutes. Are Hafenmann the best German popticians since James Last? This is a damned near perfect piece of pop. It's got electric guitars and pop brass and it's all a bit careening to where I don't know. Like sitting in the backseat and asking Julian Cope take the controls of the spaceship. In Fatma Diaw there's a woman with a voice so charismatic c'mon, can sing you so close. Are they visiting Bearwood to perform at an Outsideleft Night Out anytime soon? 


AND ALSO THE TREES - This Path Through the Meadow (Cargo)
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by Alan Rider

Formed during the 80s post-punk era in rural Worcestershire, And Also The Trees music has often explored the dark underbelly along with the beauty of the British countryside, using their signature style mandolin-like electric guitar. There was a link with The Cure too, with AATT touring with them back at the start and Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst handling production duties on their early releases.  Since then, they have released another fifteen studio albums and toured Europe, North America and Japan, building up quite a cult following worldwide.  They have a big sound, reminiscent in some ways to In The Nursery, and is 'This path through the meadow' is taken from their filmic sounding upcoming album ‘Mother-of-pearl Moon’,  a series of guitar improvisations overlaid by voice, clarinet, piano, percussion, autoharp and Moog.  Its an exotic mix, a dark blues sound for a dark world, sombre, but beguiling.


LPs

PETER GABRIEL - i/o (Real World )
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by

Gabriel's first new material in twenty years. Jay wonders whether it was worth the wait. Link here.


TAKU UNAMI - Bot Box Boxes (Erstwhile Records)
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by Alan Rider

Here at Outsideleft we like to occasionally throw you a real curve ball, and this is it. Japanese artist Taku Unami recorded three long pieces over 16 hours, resulting in bot box boxes, a 3-CD set that is exactly what it says; one piece made with robots, another with a box, and the final with multiple boxes. Yes, that's right, two of the three CDs are just recordings of a man playing with a box, or even a few boxes.  So imagine hours of rustling sounds and other general box related sounds and you'd be there.  Yours to play over and over in the comfort of your own home. The world truly is a very odd place.  To get you in the mood here are instructions on how to make your very own box and robot related listening outfit to accompany this release.

Or you can listen here https://erstwhilerecords.bandcamp.com/album/bot-box-boxes


DOROTHY CARTER - Waillee Waillee (Palto Flats)
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by Tim London

It would be natural to presume that Dorothy Carter, who died in 2003, was a British singer and musician, as the sounds she makes evoke ancient human habitation that predated even the indigenous Americans. This New Yorker seems to link, via instruments that could only have been crafted in the past century or so and recording production that is firmly in debt to the psychedelic explorations of the American and British 1960/70s to an age when electricity was still stuck, making connections in brains and shimmering mysteriously around the sun.

Dorothy’s accent and delivery, as easy as the easiest listening, conjures an agrarian Broadway, and the dulcimer a horse drawn caravan with a solar panel. If there are moments when the performance of other musicians on the the title track, hints at sessioneers keeping it safe, Dorothy, like, Robert Wyatt often does, somehow transcends the wrapping.

If you fancy an alternative Xmas wrapping tune, try Celtic Melody, where the dulcimer rings with that cute, acute sadness we associate with this time of the year.

A meditative and joyously hard-to-box album from an artist who, I would suggest, would have found an audience today easier than back then.


KLEISTWAHR - For The Lives Once Lived (Fourth Dimension)
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by Alan Rider

There is a corner of music that sees beyond the simply 4/4 beat, jangly guitar, croony vocals and cheesy keyboards, to something that more closely represents solidified tones that are sliced like ham and reassembled into an ever evolving drone.  Kleistwahr and Fourth Dimension inhabit that corner, but I don't expect 99% of you to get it.  Its not easy listening, its not easy to listen to either, but it is immersive and something that can genuinely engender an altered state if played loud enough.  Who does get it?  Those who know, that's who.  Those who have open minds and ears.  Surprisingly, trendy publications like The Wire are also beginning to get it and giving positive reviews to music they would previously have dismissed out of hand.  The world is changing, usually not for the better, but in this case, its a change that is well overdue.  This may very well be the end of music.  Or the beginning.


Other Materials

ROOTS MANUVA - Witness (HD remastered) (some label for sure)
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by Ancient Champion

Roots, incredibly not universally popular at his old school at least. This is still amazing every single time.


Essential information
main image, screen grab from And Also The Trees

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