Tag Archives: Manchester

Diving Station : June Damp, EP released 27 November 2020

A new EP from Manchester indie quartet Diving Station, evoking time, season and nature.

1.Joanna. The opening track is mysterious and claustrophobic, with the band inhabiting a recurring pattern of bass, subtle guitar and brushed drums with occasional extra layers from their distinctive Celtic harp (Clàrsach). As on the whole EP the instrumentation is restrained, untreated and perfectly complements the ambience of the songs. The lyric is intense and impressionistic as it portrays the title character ‘…..I dissociate and I put off, Joanna sings of silks and cloth…..she weaves a string, across the sheet, she sends my blood, back to my feet…’, as the words and music circle around in an atmosphere of relaxed dissonance.

2. Fruit Flies. A sensuous evocation of summer warmth and storms, it reads well as a poem but when delivered by the relaxed voice of singer Anna McLuckie the picture is fully painted. ‘….there’s an August shower, that’s unwinding foxtails in the grass……fruit flies on fruit….’.

As the time gently spirals there is plenty more imagery weaving through the track ‘…..air thick, cornflour, clouds swell with dew…..’ . Again the production leaves plenty of space in between the carefully placed notes, creating an optimistic, living and breathing song.

3. June Damp. There is an older alternative version of this track on YouTube, a tour de force performance played on solo harp accompanied by real birdsong, which has a haunting beauty of its own.

This full band recording takes the structure and adds subtly crafted embellishment that gives the track a pulsing heartbeat to drive it along. It is another warm, summery song that seems to follow a natural cycle with repetition and shifting variation, expressed in the lyric ‘……heatwaves on heatwaves……long days on long days….’ expertly blended with the pastoral yearning of the melody.

https://www.facebook.com/divingstationmusic

Diving Station : Honey Bees, single released October 2019

‘Honey Bees’ is the new single from indie-experimenters Diving Station and is the latest in a string of high-quality releases.

Earlier this year ‘Film’ was a soundscape of scenes and movements; drawn together by a repeating descending vocal figure underscored by a shifting texture of instrumentations, from loud fuzzy guitar to semi-classical acoustic and of course the signature sound of the Celtic harp (or ‘clarsach’).

Starting with a pulsing bass riff, ‘Honey Bees’ takes the sound of the Manchester four-piece in a different direction. On this excellent new track the percussion of electronic sounding handclaps sounds tense and trying to speed up, but the pace is reigned in by the interweaving bass.

The overall dissonant but dreamlike emotion of the song is mainly caused by the imagery of the lyrics, with the literal or metaphorical appearance of the ‘honey bees’ ‘… my grandma used to put them in a jar, those honey bees……they can smell your fear, those honey bees….’ Even the innocuous ‘…the sweetness at the bottom of the cup….’ sounds sinister in the context of these words.

The cryptic ‘….she was a rose, handled by those….’ is a recurring chorus interlude accompanied by harp mini-waves played by singer Anna McLuckie. Guitar effects float in and out and a synthetic(?) string section drifts on the air in this immaculately crafted single, every element contributing to the whole.

Remember, ‘…..you should warn your friends….about honey bees….’

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Diving Station : Feather Mouth, EP released December 2018

A new EP from Manchester four-piece Diving Station, an engrossing collection of acoustic and electric soundscapes.

1. You’re Not Listening As a guitar sound arrives from a distance singer Anna McLuckie immediately pins down the sense of the track with her jazzy vocal stylings. The distinctive harp appears after a minute or so, adding an unearthly texture to the constantly changing instrumentation. The other band members drift in and out with vocal and musical contributions to a song that never follows a predictable path.

2. Taking Tongues A beautiful combination of harp and acoustic guitar sets this gorgeous track on its way. Deceptively sailing along on a smooth tide of restrained acoustic folk the rest of the band suddenly crash in with an electric guitar and percussion outburst; even the harp gets aggressive. The calm after the storm is a glorious vocal coda.

3. When I Arrived It Was Raining With a title like the opening line of an inviting novel, this is another track to lose yourself in its many sections and moods. A lyrical evocation of homecoming and longing is at times accompanied by a sparse but always carefully judged instrumentation; impressively towards the end the harp and guitar harmonics create the sound of raindrops…

4. Tour Guide A dream-like and anthemic end to the EP, driven by a sustained and emotional vocal as the band create layers of sound patterns underneath, gradually leading to a gentle play-out as the finale to this fine collection of songs.

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Various Artists : ‘200’ A Compilation from German Shepherd Records

A compilation from the ever-questing independent Manchester record label to celebrate their 200th release, with proceeds going to the Coffee4Craig homelessness charity…

1. The Get – When The Oil Runs Out Veteran minimalist punksters sum up this burning issue (‘….will we get KFC?…will my solar panels power me?….’) They are a great live band too.

2. JD Meatyard – Ubu@Erics I saw him supporting Half Man Half Biscuit and he seems to have picked up on their surrealistic lyrics but added something of his own intensity. I saw (Pere)Ubu@Junction in Cambridge but it doesn’t scan quite so well.

3. The Screaming Love Collective – Come On A pleasant groove, a bit reminiscent of T.Rex ‘Get It On’ but that is no bad thing. All over too quickly.

4. M.T. Scott – The Auctioneer Piano dominated strange ballad, haunting and thoughtful. A neglected subject in popular music, I will never view Bargain Hunt in the same way again.

5. Issac Navaro – Swam Oceans To Drown In Concrete Ambient delights for 11 minutes. Good to hear the acoustic piano over the top of the electronics.

6. Moff Skellington – The Clegg Twins As well as drawing the artwork for this album(see below) Moff Skellington contributes characteristic fantastical prose over an uncomfortable backing. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the picture of two Nick Cleggs out of my mind but perhaps that was the strength of the track.

7. The Junta – MCR Bassy electronic instrumental, it needs to be loud.

8. Space Museum – Esoteric Another instrumental, drift off into the cosmos with this one.

9. House Mouse and Space Museum – Bigger Than The Beatles The title tells how it could have been; with spoken word over electronic backing, it is like a history of pop music from the last 40 years (‘…with more hits than Simply Red…make Bob Dylan eat his words…’)

10. Toska Wilde – The Death And Life Of A Dreamgirl Minimalist and graphic tale of woe, reminds me a bit of the late lamented Kevin Coyne, high praise indeed.

11. Keltrix – Alibi (Acoustic Version) A bit of timeless folk-rock from Cambridge stalwarts Keltrix, good to hear the violin and the colour-filled vocal.

12. Pearl Divers – Angel in New York Rocky waltz-time epic, the band claim they feature ‘…strong melodies anywhere from Happy Mondays style to Bond themes…’.. I happily listen to that combination…

13. Night Operations – When Night Fell Smooth ambience, the gentle beat underpins slight variations at each cycle, keep listening…

14. The Electric Cheese – 20 Years of Hate Probably the best band name on the album, sounding a bit like the Wave Pictures in their noisier moments, great as-live sound with reassuring up-front guitar.

15. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Without You (Scotch Bonnet Remix) Scarily different remix of one of my favourite Cambridge band’s best tracks, it has gone reggae instead of rocking out, but don’t be fooled.

16. PrunX – Devils Cookbook PrunX are from Berlin, describing themselves as ‘triple p rock, psychedelic – progressive – political’ It carves its way nicely through two of those three genres I think.

17. Dominic Carlton Jones – Cat’s Front Door A sort of acoustical Oasis anthem, DCJ sounds like he has really lived it – hold up the lighters and celebrate the end of a great compilation!

https://germanshepherdrecords.bandcamp.com/album/200