• Strap The Button

    "Strap The Button are a seriously talented and certainly innovative young group. They seem to be influenced by a scene that was around decades before they were born, yet have a perfect understanding of its structures, textures and spirit. Going To Jib Choons... doesn't strike immediately, for a start there is too much going on to absorb in one sitting. This is, by far, one of the most ambitious, progressive and craziest releases to come out of these shores in some time and is made all the more remarkable by the band’s youth."

    - Sonic Frontiers on Going to Jib Choons (Choons for Going to Jib to Like Innit).


    "A fully realised and richly imaginative disc, full of hypnotic instrumentals, squalls of noise and cut-up vocals, reminding me of The Serpents and containing a track called “243 seconds of elvis followed by a scream” which suggest the whole album could be viewed as a collection of sound effects for a bizarre amateur production of a movie about Tom Parker, but probably isn’t. Either way this is a gem of an album well worth the trouble of tracking down." 

    - Terrascope on Going to Jib Choons (Choons for Going to Jib to Like Innit).


    "With grooves based on prog rock, a little bit of Kraut sound collage, and some folk and post-rock, “Going to Jib..” swirls with so many rich images, musically that it sounds like it was made by a band that has been around for years and is ready for their big risk. This is fun and cinematic, like an instrumental soundtrack to a film you are never sure you are supposed to be scared or exhilarated while listening. Here, you can do both...Ambitious is the only word to describe these kids. They think in epic terms, have handy the whole history of experimental music at their fingertips, and, given their age, have so many years to expand on what is already a compelling sound. 9/10."

    - Foxy Digitalis on Going to Jib Choons (Choons for Going to Jib to Like Innit).


    "Opening track 'GNFaR Cd001' leads us in gently. A quiet organ slowly melts in as the rumble of sound edges ever closer. The guitars are subtle with a quiet bass line 'sulking in' reminding me a little of Pink Floyd around 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. It's either hit or miss with post rock, boring & bland or expansive & mind expanding. Seems Strap The Button play the latter hand. Second track 'Machines' is a collage of sound, bringing the scraping of un-oiled hinges with the chugging of engines. Think the suspense of a Submarine film thriller. 'Casualty' is not a reworking of the TV series theme tune, it's rather a jazzy little number that takes the Sonic Youth sound al la Jim O'Rourke mixing it with Xylophones & building drums. Guitars pluck out a moody soundtrack, very cinematic. Strap The Button take their music & skew it into a film world. Each track has immense detail, leaving the listener captivated or at least bemused to the point of wanting to fully understand their music. Songs like 'Paperclipbeard The Pirate' show a sort of Steve Malkmus style workout, but before it can be too much a musical narrative it takes a trip through Syd Barrett's psychedelic world. Strap The Button go from Jazzy to avant-garde within the space of a song. Their song lengths are sensible & nothing is overblown or pompously arranged. They are one with their music & make challenging music for listeners who think outside the box. Recommended."

    - The Plastic Ashtray on Going to Jib Choons (Choons for Going to Jib to Like Innit).


    "Dripping with many disparate and seemingly incompatible influences, Going To Jib Choons…. was always going to be pretentious and scrappy. But art-school pratting about aside, there is much here to suggest that Strap The Button ought definitely to carry on with their sonic experimentation. Playful and serious in equal measure, the band possesses a seemingly boundless ambition, and the moments where that ambition is successfully channelled demonstrate huge potential. Going To Jib Choons…swings wildly between the experimental and the derivative - a sizeable section of the album draws a little too heavily upon the work of Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch. Yet Strap The Button are one of those bands who threaten to release a great record any minute now, and, given their tender ages, they’ve plenty of time to be getting on with it."

    - Tasty Fanzine on Going to Jib Choons (Choons for Going to Jib to Like Innit).


    "Strange vibrations from this Welsh group who combine elements of Zappa-esque sound montage, kraut rock and the surrealistic humor of The Residents. For the most part, Strap the Button is truly unclassifiable, though some common points of reference, in addition to those just mentioned, might include Faust, Neu, Etron Fou and Captain Beefheart. Both of these CDs are wildly eclectic, perhaps because Strap the Button fuses musical genres in such an arbitrary way that it's difficult to get an accurate fix on just where the group's allegiance lies. The group uses a myriad of samples and loops in combination with synthesizers, various keyboards, guitar, bass and drums in order to produce a rather unorthodox aural experience, though the sonic cacophony of both Faust and The Residents comes about as close to an accurate analogy as you'll get when trying to describe Strap the Button.

    The extended tracks on What Kind of Rat Bastard Psychotic…? show the group at their most experimental, while Going to Jib Choons… (and, no, I have no idea what a Jib or a Choon is) features, comparatively speaking, shorter and more "song-oriented" material, some of which could almost be described as quasi-pop, though with a decidedly punky edge at times. "Machines," for instance, from Going to Jib Choons… sounds like an impromptu meeting of Kraftwerk and Throbbing Gristle at a Dusseldorf oil refinery. On the other hand, "Stay Still, I'll Get the Camera" (also from Going to Jib Choons…) could've been a track on Wire's Chairs Missing or Pink Flag. Several of the longer pieces on What Kind of Rat-Bastard Psychotic…? are collages of sound and noise and seem to be the true métier of this group. "The Fully Grown Giant Otter Cannot Be Killed," one of the disc's stand out tracks, merges electronics and frenetic guitar into what might aptly be called ambient punk. The same can be said for several of the other songs on What Kind of Rat-Bastard Psycotic…? Neither CD is particularly easy to digest, but both have surprises and rewards for the patient listener who's willing to hear with an open ear."

    - Aural Innovations on What Kind of Rat-Bastard Psychotic Would Play That Song Right Now at This Moment? and Going to Jib Choons (Choons for Going to Jib to Like Innit).


    "A cornucopia of tribal drone, dustbins hurled through windows/flashes of sunlight on water/torch song/ burning tyres/ lounge madness, which will keep you guessing from start to finish, and to these ears contains the playful spirit of Kevin Ayers’ early albums."

    - Terrascope on What Kind of Rat-Bastard Psychotic Would Play That Song Right Now at This Moment? 


    "These "songs" are basically mini-epic art projects. STB can connect with a few minutes' worth of vocals in a Black Heart Procession manner, and then, zoom, they're gone - off on a journey to Cygnus B or somewhere, in kosmische musik regalia. On "The Fully Green Giant Cannot Be Killed," a 9 minute exploration of metronomic rhythms and starship bleeps and blips, STB seem to be laying down an epic tale about... something."

    - Culture Bunker on What Kind of Rat-Bastard Psychotic Would Play That Song Right Now at This Moment? 


    "Sounds like a journey to the center of a 4- or at most 8-track...“Weener Has Sailed to Sea” begins this CD-R with a creeping, droning dirge, while “Gusset Bastard Grip” is comparatively spry. Bonky percussion gives way to glittery-sounding guitar and Bryan-Ferry-style crooning that gets progressively more unhinged as the song goes on. “The Fully Grown Giant Otter Cannot Be Killed” gets back inside outer space, as an extended, repeated guitar figure lays down for a proggy keyboard-led break which itself is overwhelmed by noise, only to be replaced by a propulsive riff freakout. This isn’t seeking to crush me or swarm me as some psych freakout noise is; there’s a progression in mind here. “Mwynder” is more a concept noise piece based on 2001: A Space Odyssey until about halfway through, when a rubbery bass line begins chasing its tail, egging on the suddenly aggro, un-Karoli-like guitars. “One Point Six Eight” is part of the same whirl, with some downshifts to medium intensity before flaming out. Strap the Button is on to something in its exploration of less typical psych/Kraut currents, in much the same way that, say, Donkey was a few years ago. Here’s to more then."

    - Foxy Digitalis on What Kind of Rat-Bastard Psychotic Would Play That Song Right Now at This Moment? 

  • Sweet Potato

    "Bristolian twenty-somethings Sweet Potato release Mash - a perverted rock album of note. Lolloping, strangely propulsive rhythms underpin impressively enormous riffs and the operatic vocals of Stephen Baker, creating a record that has its fair share of headbanging moments, but retains a jazz sensibility throughout. Although decidely less pastoral, Mash brings to mind the Canterbury Scene in the way it toys effortlessly with generic conventions, yet manages to produce something considerably greater than the sum of its already impressive parts. ‘We’ll Think’ starts out all Twin Peaks paranoia before erupting into a bizarre, deconstructed Beefheartian take on metal (complete with squelchy synths); ‘Slow Priest Turns the Mummers On’ combines handclaps with duelling sax and clarinet improvisations whilst Poor Old Abe’ takes off where Black Sabbath finished with ‘Fairies Wear Boots’. Yet despite this variety, the record is highly successful in defining an instantly recognisable sound. For fans of Gentle Giant, Faith no More, Captain Beefheart, Lords, Soft Machine and Egg."

    - Records on Ribs on Mash


    "The first track of this album can be misleading as it starts like a Nu Metal track, impression that's caused mainly by Steven Baker's voice that sounds similar to Serj Tankian. I have to confess that I like SOAD and Tankian solo works, so this is not an issue at all for me. "Leaky Margin" is a good song, only the rest of the album is of a different kind. "Poor Old Abe" starts with good bass chords. The song develops smoothly. It reminds me to the Math band "From Monument To Masses", but I hear a little touch of jazz, mainly in the guitar. This track is hypnotic and the bass in evidence contributes a lot with its rhythmic. There's an exciting crescendo from minute 3 to minute 5, then the bass recovers its role for an instrumental sequence with mute singing. Excellent track. Two minutes before the end a drum solo appears and introduces a totally different thing with the bass still as main instrument supporting a screaming voice through a megaphone. "Mediocracy" is opened by a dissonant guitar chord and two clarinets more dissonant than the guitar. Very dark and atmospheric. It makes me think to Art Zoid. "Hidden Variables" has a Canterbury feeling. To describe this track I can mention the early Soft Machine. This is another excellent track on which also the vocalist and his background vocals perform very well. The signature is strange and unusual. I can't decide if it's just a 5/4. Apparently it's something more complex. Also this track grows in an exciting chaotic crescendo. "We'll think" has a free jazz start driven by clarinet and bass. Odd signature, guitar and vocals plus the choir of the other band members make swing and the chorus makes a nice contrast with distorted guitar and screamed vocals. At about minute 4 the other instruments add a bit of chaos over the jazz base hold by drums and bass. In the final the song changes drastically. The jazz is replaced by a very hard section which leads to the sudden final. "Slow Priest Turns The Mummers On" makes me think to Area and Stormy Six. The clarinet plays like it's a jazz standard while the other instruments make something different and very dark. Five minutes of jazz madness closed by claps. Less than one minute is the duration of "Mashed" which is written so to remind the TV serie. (M*A*S*H*E*D*). It seems just a quick shot taken during studio rehearsals. "Die Hard 5" sees again bass and vocals in foreground for another song which reminds again to SOAD but with a sort of chorus that's totally progressive. Various signature changes (almost all of them odd) play a repetitive theme that's like a mantra which stops suddenly after 4 minutes. An interlude and a new bass base arrives., then the track is developed to a chaotic free jazz excercise in the vein of Area, corroborated by an excellent drums riff and a short coda which reprises the initial theme. "Four Pollocks Into a Bop" is un-describable with words, but it's pure jazz. It reminds me to Cecil Taylor and to concrete music. Baker's singing, with the necessary distinctions, has something of Demetrio Stratos, especially in the low pitches. What started like Nu Metal reveals to be a free-jazz adventure. Not an easy album but it can surely appeal JR/F and RIO fans. Excellent album."

    - Prog Archives on Mash.

  • Mascot Moth

    "Hailing from Wales and having a connection to Strap the Button, a rather fine band I reviewed way back in time, Mascot Moth have created two rather excellent EP's that stand broadly in the Psychedelic corner but also manage to stray into various other camps at the same time. Opening salvo, “A Moth of Cloth” is a rambling tune glued together with a groovy bass line over which various other instruments do their thing, skronking, weaving melody and generally turning the tune into a delightful trip acfross your mind, the Dead meeting Gorky's somewhere sleazy. Even better, “Tell Them What You Like (They Will Never Believe You)” comes across like a woozy Hatfield and the North, some great sax noises, and rhythmic changes adding to the groove, it's all over too quickly as “Space Moth” kicks the Motorik beat back in, another sweet journey for the mind, never too cluttered or complicated for it's own good. 

    Spacier and nicely lysergic, “Dusty Wings” continues the Hatfield/Canterbury comparisons, Guitar and Bass weaving together over the drums revealing a strange yet lovable track that slowly builds in tension and dynamics reminding me of Kevin Ayers, someone I also mentioned when I reviewed Strap the Button. Continuing the ambience, “Ellis Vulgaris” has touches of Gong to be found, letting its freak flag fly with glee whilst final track “Ellis Tremendum” condenses all that has gone before into seven fabulous minutes taking us back to 1973, slightly stoned and listening intently.

    Even better, perhaps, is the title track from “Mind Maze” containing all the elements from the previous EP yet adding some vocals, echoed flute, and a thicker sound, the track an absolute standout from the band that will definitely make you smile. Short and Sweet, “Jyst Like Britni” has a pop groove and humorous intent, the kind of curveball that Gorky's sometimes throw at you, must be something in that Welsh water think I better nip across the border and find out. After that light pop moment things get stranger again with the abstract noises that herald the arrival of “I Want to be 1,2,3.”, a nicely spaced tune, that floats around your head before drifting of into the starry night sky,Reminds me a bit of Man, which is no bad thing at all. Finally, “Dark Secrets” rumbles and crackles out of the speakers, complete with the sound of flies, before a cosmic drone fills the room all spaced out and echo-laden, bass and drums adding a warm pulse to the track whilst rolling chords add texture, that is until it all gets turned on its head and sounds like early Floyd or Soft Machine rounding off two EP's that are both mighty fine and worth your time."

    - Terrascope on A Moth of the Cloth EP and Mind Maze.