WA Wa Punx: Football Chevrolet Colt 45

HRWZ025 Football Chevrolet Colt 45


Dylan Rippon: Rocks And Sands

HRWZ017 Rocks And Sands

In early 2003 Northern Sky Records released ‘Rocks And Sands’ as a limited edition 7″. There was an exclusive gig at the launch of the Carbon Music store in Soho with DJ sets from Sasha and Simian. The song was described as being “like the Beta Band at their best, but with an added intensity and classic rock foundations” (Indielondon). It entered Rough Trade’s list of “the top ten platters that matter” finally reaching no. 7 in the store’s single’s chart. The BBC went on to comment that the song was ‘upbeat and catchy in the Ed Harcourt frame of mind”, while The Guardian stated that Rippon is “a songwriter who is advertising nothing more than his own enthusiasm for peace in a world which appears to have gone entirely insane”. Some were quick to view the song as a knee-jerk protest against the Iraq invasion. There was a desire to define the song as ‘political’ with Rippon responding, ‘like most young people, I don’t care about politics – Rocks And Sands is anti-politics”. It was difficult explaining that the song had been written before the events of 9/11, inspired by a ‘smaller’ atrocity and that Rippon’s previous band Grand Union had already recorded the song in 2001 only to have the Twin Towers make its release impossible. We regard ‘Rocks And Sands’ with its unflinching gaze, visceral reality and visions of Baudrillard and McLuhan to be a very fine piece of pop music indeed. And it rocks! Suicide bombers, occupations, voyeurism, tourism, the medium is the message and withering criticism of the mainstream media (“and you’re just checking out the scenery”) was always going to be a tough sell to the mainstream media. As the Guardian signed off in its review the release of the single at the moment the Allied forces invaded Iraq was “like trying to flog scuba equipment in Chad, but it would be churlish not to wish him well”. Ten years after the initial release the sense that ‘Rocks And Sands’ captures the hypocrisy and distractions of our times has increased. The song’s relevance and stature continues to grow in a world of drones, censorship and mass surveillance, where the ‘War on Terror’ has achieved totality, we sit at home watching it all on ‘The News’, “and the jeeps roll on and on and on”.


Bears From Labrador: Paradise Lost

HRWZ023 Paradise Lost


Dylan Rippon: Jack Morrow Hills

HRWZ015 Jack Morrow Hills


Dylan Rippon: Tigershark

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Solar: Astrodome

HRWZ008 Astrodome

Solar’s debut album ‘Astrodome’. The album isn’t really a debut as if it had been released it would have arrived hard on the heels of the Six EPs. Recorded in Blue Mountain’s basement studio in 1999 and early 2000 the album saw the band continue to expand their sonic universe. James Bastard, the in-house engineer, had just returned from working with Salif Keita in Mali and introduced the band to African guitar players and rhythms. There’s a quest to go back to the very beginning of the blues, African blues, and, using sampling technology, bring those textures forward into the 21st century. Solar build on their early work of loops and found-sounds with more ‘live’ tracks and real percussion.


Grand Union: Spanish Dust Indian Rust

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Grand Union’s ‘Spanish Dust Indian Rust’ is a compilation of tracks from the band’s two EPs recorded in 2001. Grand Union were a band born of frustration and grounded in the live experience and these recordings place great value on happenstance and spontaneity. There are weird and wonderful samples, the searching for ‘sounds that may not even be possible’, but now you can hear the band. In some instances (‘Rocks And Sands’, ‘She Lies Down’) recordings of their rehearsals were deemed to have the right vibe and blown up in the studio even if ‘the take’ was captured by the single stereo microphone of a portable minidisc player. The LP opens with ‘Hercules’, a twisted farewell to the 20th Century. Howard Hughes, Elvis, Hendrix, Apollo, Big Oil, TV and The Radio – all the mythical beasts. Floating over the twisting dial a veteran A&R manager bemoans his group for ‘living in a fantasy world and looking for sounds that may not even be possible’. This is the mission statement. ‘The K-loop’ is a sickening riff on the end of a chemical relationship, lurching from some protean sampled form of stuttering Hip Hop into supercharged Rock ‘n’ Roll. And then there’s ‘Rocks And Sands’. The song was written in 2000 about the Luxor massacre of 1997. Rippon himself spent part of his childhood in the Middle East and experienced first hand the tensions and culture clashes – big oil, big heat and big religion. Written from the viewpoint of a suicide bomber the song is a perfect expression of the empty desert at the heart of all violence – ‘it’s all over the rocks, all over the sands’. And then there’s the withering blow to the Western media’s voyeurism, the 24-hour news cycle, embodied by the camera-wielding tourists who became Luxor’s victims. ‘Please Don’t Lie’ is the lonesome prayer of the information age – each of us trying to hold on to something in the face of a digital tsunami. ‘Tumbling Rains’ is a lament over Lucas’s beautiful acoustic guitar work – a different view, another window into the band.’This Is Where You Are’ explores the paranoid anxiety that exists just below the surface of life at the turn of the millennium. ‘She Lies Down’ mixes minidiscs and 80′s synths – all media, all formats blurred into one. ‘Santa Maria’ takes on blind faith in gods and miracles. The LP closes with ‘He’s A Good Man’ – a tender letter to an alcoholic father.


Dylan Rippon: Hail! Taikonauts

HRWZ016 Hail! Taikonauts

‘Hail! Taikonauts’ is Rippon’s second instrumental album. The various recordings were made over a three year period between 2004 and 2007. It is also a concept album. Inspired by an exhibition of Chinese Communist Poster Art and Lynn Pan’s book ‘Mao Memorabilia The Man And The Myth’, Rippon became intrigued by the power of nations to create their own narratives no matter how far-fetched or outlandish. ‘Hail! Taikonauts’ is an imagined silent movie, filmed in China and starring Chinese actors. The movie is created as a piece of beautiful propaganda with Rippon’s fantastical music set to each scene. The synopsis of ‘Hail! Taikonauts’ also serves as a cue sheet for each track and can be read in full here. This is certainly a far-out album in Rippon’s discography but there are many moments of true beauty. The blissed-out acoustic electronica of ‘Cedars’, the awe-inspiring claustrophobic soundscape of ‘Vallis’, the strange and wonderful ‘Aristarchus’. Picture the film in the epic proportions of Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ or Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’ and let the music transport you. In order to work the listener has to contribute their own visions, their own dreams. Rippon’s magic eye again demonstrates spooky foresight. The story was sketched in 2007 in all its bizarre hallucinatory glory. On December 1st 2013 the BBC reported that China’s first lunar rover mission had successfully launched. There is a Long March 3B Rocket on its way to the Moon as you read this. By 2019 all those dreams may be true.


Dylan Rippon: Needles On Strange Acoustics

HRWZ012 Needles On Strange Acoustics

With ‘Needles On Strange Acoustics’ there’s an uncompromising dedication to looseness. Opening track ‘Night Fire’ is a swamp-song instrumental right on the edge of town. There’s Brian Jones-style slide playing, kitchen sink percussion, the purity of the single take. Beck’s ‘One Foot In The Grave’ (1994), Stina Nordenstam’s ‘And She Closed Her Eyes’ (1994), Bill Callahan, J. Mascis and Ween are the big contemporary influences. There are also touches of The Stones (‘Rocket In My Soul’), Crosby Stills & Nash (‘Loose Ends’) and Dr. John (‘Night Fire’). In some of the songs Rippon can be heard exploring further afield with his e64 sampler, warping the sound of guitars and pianos into new forms. ‘All Alone Arcturus’ begins with a de-tuned and inverted guitar figure that owes as much in its creation to My Bloody Valentine as it does to Muddy Waters. The album is a collection of recordings made by Dylan Rippon between 1995 and 1997 and most of the Needles recordings were taped onto a Tascam 244 4-track cassette recorder and there’s a unique warmth and presence throughout. Lo-fi to the core – the songs are gloriously naive and juvenile in the best sense of the word.


Grand Union: All That Indian Rust

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