Friday 30 September 2022

Alliyah Enyo

Without doubt one of the most jaw-dropping performances Not Unloved has witnessed this year was Alliyah Enyo's performance at The Green Door Studio's birthday party at The Old Hairdresser's (Glasgow). Seated on the floor with her equipment arrayed around her (including some actual physical tape loops stretched round mic stands), Enyo's set unfolded and enfolded with devotional intensity. It was genuinely captivating in a way that very few performances are genuinely captivating. A similarly smitten friend likened the impact of it to finally seeing 4AD's legendary Dead Can Dance at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall a few months earlier. There's some live footage from when she supported Erika de Casier (keeping the 4AD theme going) at Broadcast earlier in 2022 here. For once, however, I'd advise not watching any of the live footage before experiencing her brilliance at close quarters. Plans are afoot for a tape release of Enyo's music (early November 2022, I think) via the new Glasgow Somewhere Between Tapes imprint. Not Unloved, for one, is counting down the days but till then will continue to play "Ether" - her gently emotional collaboration with guitarist Gabriel Levine Brislin - on repeat. Such softness is much appreciated amidst the harshness of 2022, that's for sure.

Monday 19 September 2022

Lizzie No "Sweeter Than Strychnine"

Not Unloved spent a blissful couple of hours sifting through Portishead's videos and live performances the other day. Having never seen most of them in the 90s (and I thought I watched way too much tv!), it was a real treat. After that, Lizzie No's recent Ben Pirani-penned "Sweeter Than Strychnine" single (Colemine Records, 2022) sounded even better. Pairing twanging spy movie guitar with subtle strings is always gonna work and Lizzie's reverb-cloaked vocal is a study in elegance and restraint. Colemine, Big Crown etc. have released an avalanche of music over the last few years so Not Unloved has to pick and choose but with the gorgeous Temptations-like "Stop Bothering Me" on the flip, this 45 was a must-buy.

Transatlantic Bunnies "Surrender" (SFTRI, 2019)

It's easy to forget just how many excellent records Long Gone John's Sympathy For The Record Industry has released over the years. Recently, the YouTube algorithm dangled "Surrender" by Dutch group Transatlantic Bunnies under Not Unloved's nose and it's a BIG pop winner from the opening "Be My Baby" drum beat. Glockenspiels are always welcome and Angela Won-Yin Mak's ace vocals are more than up to the task of keeping pace with the sweeping musical swells. Thankfully, for us latecomers, a few copies of the 7" are still kicking around. "Surrender" is a timely reminder that I need to revisit Lisa Mychols's music, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Future Conditional feat. Bobby Wratten & Beth Arzy "Demolitions"

Unfashionable as it may be to some, Not Unloved still uses and endorses the Compact Disc format. A recent CD arrival that we're looking forward to digesting fully is Future Conditional's "Isotech" (Second Language Music, due on 30th September, 2022). Back in the mid-to-late 90s when labels such as Wurlitzer Jukebox, Earworm etc. served up 7" after 7" of prime post-rock, electronica and indiepop, each new Piano Magic release was an essential listen. Future Conditional is the latest project from that band's Glenn Johnson and Cédric Pin. On "Isotech" they're joined by some notable friends including Bobby Wratten and Beth Arzy of the wondrous Lightning In A Twilight Hour (whose "Overwintering" album from earlier in 2022 is a hot contender for NU's Album of the Year for 2022):

"Demolitions" is a beautifully sung but sobering tale of urban planning gone wrong set to an evocative electro-pop backing:

"They take the city and they break its heart
 They take the people and they do the same"

Majestic, thought-provoking music.

Daphne X "Transactions In Time"

It's not all 60s downer pop at Not Unloved! A constant spool over summer 2022 has been Daphne X's "Transactions In Time" (czazska (rec.), 2022) tape. The likelihood is that the title track will be our most listened-to piece of electronic music this year:

It starts out pretty in the same way that Robin Saville's work is pretty before the ever-present beat becomes desperate and loud as if terrified by the imminent sci-fi sounds that close out the piece. Love it!

Wayne Dailey "Pain and Sorrow"

1960s pop doesn't come much gloomier than Wayne Dailey's "Pain and Sorrow" (Moonglow, 1966). The woozy opening chords set the sombre tone before the most melancholy of jangles seals the deal. Wayne's restrained croon is the perfect vehicle for delivering the lyrics of pure teen misery:

"Gone are the swallows
Far across the sea
Gone is my loved one
So far from me" 

"Pain and Sorrow" is the b-side to the far more produced/histrionic "Wreck of a Man". Another case of the real riches being tucked away on the flip.

Plastic Mushroom "Baby I See"

"Baby, I See" (Ssexx, 1970) by Plastic Mushroom is one of the few genuinely great 70s jangly pop records to find its way into Not Unloved's singles box. There are hundreds (thousands?) of superb 60s janglers out there but nowhere near as many from the following decade. I guess hair had got longer and guitars louder so the rockier sounds dominated. "Baby I See" is noteworthy for its heavenly melody, some surprisingly groovy breakdowns and for its use of the cowbell's less heralded percussion cousin, the woodblock. More woodblock!