Mayflower Madame – Observed in a Dream

MayflowerMadame_RingMasterReview

When looking back at the end of the year, we suspect that April will be noted as one of the most fruitful months for stunning albums, with a great many of them striking debuts. To a list running into double figures we can add the outstanding first full-length from Norwegian band Mayflower Madame. The band’s sound is a captivating weave of post punk, shoegaze, and psych rock textures but given its own distinct character by the imagination of the Oslo quartet, and Observed in a Dream a release which commands attention with a presence slightly nostalgic but as fresh as the dew on a spring morning, and as radiant.

Formed in 2011, Mayflower Madame has already drawn potent attention and praise with the Into the Haze EP in 2013 and last year their single Lovesick. Comparisons to bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Bauhaus, Spacemen 3, and The Jesus & Mary Chain have readily been offered, and understandably with the band’s provocative dark and sensuous sound. Live they have earned a strong reputation too, sharing stages with the likes of Crystal Stilts, Night Beats, La Femme, Disappears, Crocodiles, and Moon Duo along the way and making successful appearances at Norway’s largest festivals, Oya and Norwegian Wood. Now released on their own Night Cult Records and Custom Made Music in North America, Observed in a Dream is ready to wake up the biggest and most attentive spotlights upon the band.

As soon as opener Confusion Hill envelops ears it is a success easy to imagine, and then be sure of as each track seduces imagination and appetite. The first song emerges from a haunted atmosphere with already slightly portentous shadows to its air. Its approaching tempest though is quickly turned into a strolling seduction upon arrival, psych and surf rock flavours shining, almost sighing, over the infectious darkly hued prowl of Petter Gudim Marberg’s bass and Ola Jørgen Kyrkjeeide’s crisp beats. The guitars of Rune Øverby and Trond Fagernes swiftly spin a bed of evocative colour and suggestiveness too as the latter’s also quickly impressing vocals lay emotively upon the strands of sound. It is easy to see where those Bauhaus and Jesus & Mary Chain references come from, though the bigger and bolder the song becomes it reminds more of Gene Loves Jezebel, echoes and resonance on voice and melodies a delicious shimmer.

art_RingMasterReviewAn outstanding start is still eclipsed by its successor Lovesick, a song which plays second fiddle to no one. From its beguiling dark rock ‘n’ roll strum, the song canters along with a devilish swing led by another highly flavoursome throaty bassline and catchy riffery matched by flirtatious beats. Think The Birthday Party meets Helldorado and Tones on Tails as a clue to the track’s virulent alchemy; a song with as much fascinating drama as it has addictive infectiousness.  Its exceptional incitement is as good as matched by that of Self-Seer; another track rolling along on an enslaving rhythmic tenacity and ingenuity. It explores a mellower climate of sound yet still has an energy and sonic clang to physically stir the spirit. If looking for another hint, Echo and The Bunnymen would be a suggestion for the otherwise unique rock ‘n’ roll of the mouth-watering proposal.

A sixties instrumental twang adds to the seduction of Upside Down (The Death Loop), guitars a sultry lure with again a surf rock like tone to their imagination whilst within their searing elegance a cinematic drama infests rhythms and hooks. As much as there is variety to the sound within Observed In A Dream, so too the vocals craft similar diversity, here harmonies glowing with a hazy beauty around the matching delivery of Fagernes.

Latest single Weightless rumbles in next, carrying a far heavier tone and intent in its creative espionage and welcome trespass. A Play Dead/ Sisters Of Mercy like breath soaks the song, its heavy shadows and provocative textures as invasive as they are seductive. Personally, it is not the song we would choose to lead into the release of Observed in a Dream with other more irresistible options, yet the song in its brief moment is a thrilling and rousing protagonist only making the appetite for album and sound greedier.

The calmer landscape and presence of Into The Haze (Redux) hugs ears next, the song a gentle but again lively adventure into noir lit pastures with more cinematic lures whilst the album’s title track, which follows, from a similar template casts its own tantalising and riveting psyche embedding web of sound and emotion which at times is like The Shadows in collusion with House Of Love and Flesh For Lulu.

The album closes with the psychedelically atmospheric Forever//The End Of Everything, a track which equally expresses post punk discord and causticity within its pulsating and bewitching theatre of sound and emotion. It is a powerful end to a tremendous first introduction to most of us to Mayflower Madame. They and Observed In A Dream grab attention, grip tighter with every pleasure giving twist and turn, and emerge as a reason why Mayflower Madame is one of the most exciting bands to make their mark on 2016 so far.

Observed In A Dream is out now via Night Cult Records in Europe and Custom Made Music in North America as an Ltd Ed vinyl, CD, and Download. All options available @ http://mayflowermadame.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mayflowermadame   https://www.instagram.com/mayflowermadame/

Pete RingMaster 29/04/2016

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Naked Lunch – Beyond Planets

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    The return of Naked Lunch, one of the UK’s first electronic rock bands, has been an increasingly impressive and thrilling proposition with a clutch of single showing that this is not just an aesthetic return of an eighties band as with so many others. Reinventing their sound and early songs with a craft and invention which sees them an easy fit in the modern premise of electronic world as well as casting new and invigoratingly inciting encounters to bask in, the band has made a striking statement with their debut album Beyond Planets. Anticipation was high because of the previous singles but the album exceeded all assumptions and hopes with its refreshing and magnetic slices of electro rock/pop.

    Originally formed in 1979 by vocalist Tony Mayo and guitarist Gary Shepherd, under the name Sons of Perdition at first with Naked Lunch becoming the moniker after their debut gig, the band built a strong and feverishly followed presence through shows with the likes of DAF, Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget, B Movie, and Clock DVA, as well as their own gigs and tours, and first single Rabies. The band also made a major contribution in helping Stevo find bands for the ground-breaking Some Bizarre compilation album which was released via the Daniel Miller (The Normal) owned Mute Records and to which the band itself contributed the track La Femme. That first single followed to acclaim and good support though was banned from day-time radio play because of its title; but subsequently line-up changes and differences led to the band ending in 1981, though there was a short lived live presence through Mayo until 1985.

   2010 saw Mayo reunite with early member Paul Davies with the pair writing new material before original line-up members Mick Clark and Cliff Chapman joined a year later. The band was expanded by Mark Irvine in 2012 and Jet Noir last year. First single Alone sparked the attention and bred an appetite in a great many for the band’s return, which the following Slipping Again, Again and Glow only reinforced and accelerated. Now with their excellent debut album, Naked Lunch position themselves back to the fore of British electronic music with a mature craft and imaginative invention which time has obviously bred in their creativity.

     Opening track We Are, the new video single from the band, opens on an electronic dazzling of sound and sonic light, a space bred beckoning enticing the imagination into play. From the celestial ambience magnetic beats soon register an eager coaxing before stretching the bait with firmer rhythmic temptation. The song soon settles into a restrained stroll with vibrant electro colour courting the somber and pressing dark vocals. It is an enthralling mix with a subdued funk swagger, the track playing like a mix of Fad Gadget and Yello as the narrative sets the scene and premise of the release, humanity in all its oppressive shadows. The song takes longer to fully convince than subsequent tracks it is fair to say but ultimately succeeds to set the album off on a potent and engaging start.

    Slipping Again, Again comes next, the song a reworking of the B-side Slipping Again of that very first single. The song has a dark bordering on sinister essence to vocals and ambience which adds a delicious noir breath to the tantalising mix of melodic enterprise and rhythmic revelry. The dust clad tones of Mayo only accentuate the heavy intrigue and shadow of the song whilst the synth teasing and guitar sculpted flames provide riveting adventure and mystery to the contagious and menacing croon of the song. It is an enthralling new chapter to the original song and easily ignites the senses before being straight away matched by next up Rabies. A new album version of the band’s first success, the track emerges on a skittish shuffle of percussive bait soon joined by pumping electro vibrancy and caustic guitar scratching. The band has taken the heart and essential power of the original but polished up its sides and intent to sculpt an even greater contemporary synth pop dance. It is a mouthwatering piece of enterprise which alone shows how the band has evolved and grown its sound without losing the  striking glory of its first entrance.

     The album continues to raise its plateau as the next trio of songs starting with Emotional Turmoil, toy with, entrance, and manipulate the passions. The track is a bouncy infection drenched romp of electro pop with scuzz kissed guitar and seductive sonic beckoning all framed by a rhythmic toxicity which is equally irresistible. A tonic for any down trodden day, the track is an energy fuelling, emotion regenerating dance of creative endeavour and irrepressible mischief. It is immediately followed by a new version of Le Femme, the song receiving its originally intended spelling but one changed by Miller for the Some Bizarre release. Like Rabies, the track is bursting with fresh updated invention but without losing any of its original strengths, and like the other thoroughly enjoyable. Alone steps in next with its shadowed brew of evocative elegance within an almost oppressive web of emotional drama, its premise that of individuals in a disconnection to the world the voice within an immersive atmosphere. It is a gentler embrace than the previous tracks but no less resourceful and thrilling.

The album’s best track, Weekend Behaviour struts in next with an instantly addictive electro seduction, a tempting soon aided by less intensive vocals and a wash of melodic radiance. It is slightly deceitful though as from within the warm stomp returning intimidation coated vocals join the affray alongside a snarling graze of guitar aligned to raucous energy. The song is a scintillating brew of electro rock with old school punk rock essences taunting and firing up the passions.

     A new version for the album of that previously mentioned single B-side, Slipping Again treats the ear next with similar success to the other re-workings on Beyond Planets whilst its successor Glow, a song which like all the recent singles gets an album make-over, provides a Landscape like expanse of exploratory imagination from the keys and guitar within a smouldering and pulsating electronic soundscape. With a delicious groove around and spicy twang to its central narrative, the track is a lofty pinnacle in a climate of peaks.

     Completed by the excellent Fade Away with its absorbing oscillating radiance and electro majesty, Beyond Planets is an outstanding exploit in a vibrantly expressive journey. Rich in nostalgia but only to the extent of re-kindling old flames to unite with greater new and potent excitements, the album easily declares Naked Lunch the real deal to give all the young electro bucks a run for their creative money.

www.nakedlunch.org.uk

9/10

RingMaster 11/02/2014

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Naked Lunch – Slipping Again, Again

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Following their return with the single Alone earlier this year, UK electric rock band Naked Lunch back up its intrigue and success with new release Slipping Again, Again. Building on its predecessor’s potent temptation the new single ups the ante with its magnetic and enthralling shadow clad electronic enterprise and electro punk seduction.

Consisting of band founder vocalist Tony Mayo with original members Mick Clark and Cliff Chapman alongside Paul Davies who was in one of the band’s earlier line-ups, and newest members Mark Irvine and Jet Noir, Naked Lunch has shown that time has enriched their snarl and imaginative depths, and they were never short on those facets when they emerged in 1979. A key influence and driving force in much of the eighties electronic movement, in sound and behind the scenes including the coming together of the important Some Bizarre album via Mute Records, the band had a difficult time with line-up instability and the like, though it did release the single Rabies and contribute the track La Femme to the aforementioned album, two iconic tracks to emerge form that period, before disbanding. Their return in 2012 at the BAS II and the haunting dark caress of comeback single Alone brought the band back to the attention and appetites of fans old and new; a hunger which the new release will only increase you suspect.

Slipping Again, Again is a reworking of the B-side Slipping Again from the 1981 single Rabies. It is a darker, more sinister and intense presence than the original but an encounter which does not lose the essence and heart of the song, instead giving it a fresher breath and stronger intrigue. The opening electronic breeze is soon grasping the spiralling bass fuelled throat of the dark magnetism immediately at work within the song. Guitars scar the air with acidic endeavour whilst the vocals of Mayo, showing age and maturity which is strikingly noticeable when playing both versions of the song side by side, bring further menace and confrontation to the track, his dark croon a provocative incitement within the contagious call of the song. With a delicious rhythmic dance ensnaring the senses and emotions further, the song is an irresistible lure which as good as the original was presents a scintillating new presence.

Hinted at on Alone, there is a stronger undeniable Frank Tovey breath to certainly the darkest edges and depths of Slipping Again, Again, a spice which only increases the temptation of the song. It all adds to a single which leaves full satisfaction and pleasure at large, and as much as the want for new material from Naked Lunch is an open wish, Slipping Again, Again fills the gap with impressive enticement and thrilling suasion.

www.nakedlunch.org.uk

8.5/10

RingMaster 14/10/2013

 

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Naked Lunch – Alone

Alone

Receiving the promo for the new single from Naked Lunch instantly raised a tingle as thoughts shot back to our first discovery of them through their appearance of the Some Bizarre compilation album from Mute Records way back in 1981 with the excellent Rabies single coming soon after. Returning after a 30 year break the band shows that maturity and time has not diminished their unique sense of and adventure within electronic music one iota. Alone is an evocative slice of haunting and provoking imagination drenched in the presence fans of the band remember and brought with a fresh and potent, almost destructive dark breath.

Formed in 1979 by vocalist Tony Mayo and guitarist Gary Shepherd as Sons of Perdition, though this name was changed to Naked Lunch after their debut gig, the band underwent a few changes in personnel as well as working out and delivering their sounds live. To condense their story, from a show alongside the likes of DAF, Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget, B Movie, and Clock DVA organised by the band and Stevo, who Tony had DJ’ed with previously, the band undertook the Naked Lunch’s Electronic Indoctrination Tour in 1980 which included a show at Leeds Futurama, which was filmed and eventually broadcast on BBC2. Naked Lunch then set about helping Stevo find artists and recordings to make up the Some Bizarre album, to which the band itself contributed La Femme (a song originally called Le Femme but Phonogram who the Daniel Miller (The Normal) owned Mute released the album through, changed it to grammatically correct French, missing the point of the androgyny of the electronic music scene and that the song was about that). After a parting with Stevo, Naked Lunch became managed by Ramkup with the single Rabies backed by Slipping Again being released, though it suffered from a ban on day time radio play due to the title but did receive good play and support from the likes of John Peel and Nicky Horne on their night time shows. Line-up changes continued t before the band split in 1981 with Mayo retaining the name Naked Lunch, which he registered with Companies House in May 1981. A second version of the band emerged as a live thing until 1985 and though Mayo continued with Naked Lunch projects the band as such was a quiet presence.

2010 saw Mayo link up again with early member Paul Davies and writing new material, with Mick Clark and Cliff Chapman joining in 2011, both in the original line-up. Their first gig for over 30 years came at BAS II with the addition of Mark Irvine coming in early 2012 and Jet Noir linking up in June of this year.

Themed by “Isolation, Loss and Feeling Disconnected from Society”, Alone immediately unleashes a rich beckoning atmosphere upon the ear to dramatically mark the return of the band, its lingering caresses and expansive breath an evocative cloak around the vocals of Mayo, his tones understandably feeling older and authoritative. Keys and guitars bring suggestive hues to the air and thoughts whilst the excellent backing whispered vocal kisses of Black simultaneously chill and seduce the touch of the track. With a more than slight Fad Gadget essence and the vibrant light spots and melodic teasing holding a sense of Yello to their temptation, the song is a mesmeric blend of frosty intent and warm electronic persuasion.

The single is an absorbing pleasure which raises real appetite for future sounds and endeavours of the band. Naked Lunch is as strong and as impacting as ever and electronic music will only benefit from their return.

www.nakedlunch.org.uk

8/10

RingMaster 22/08/2013

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