Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Puma Blue
Swum Baby E.P.
(Inner City Float)
Take the softness of Elliot Smith’s sincerity and sadness, the warmness of Jeff Buckley’s longing; add a pinch of Chet Baker’s pitch perfect pipes and stir lightly with Mac Demarco and Tommy Guerrero’s stoner grooves and you will pretty much have Puma Blue, a.k.a. Jacob Allen presented before you.
Swum Baby is five tracks of sparse, D.I.Y. soundscapes, jam-packed with emotion, bliss and beauty.
The E.P. starts and ends with my personal favourite tracks: (She’s) Just a Phase, a gentle, floating musical feather that tickles your ears, while the singer tries to convince himself and us that the “creature of my desire” is “easy to replace”. The words trickle out mournfully and passionately, though I suspect, if my interpretation of Puma Blue’s pining is true, he may need to take the subject matter back to his therapist to get proper closure.
Want Me is wonderfully dreamy yet haunting. The brush strokes meander around the soft and frilly, catchy chorus like a slow trickling stream; making for a perfect end to an unfeigned and heart-felt extended player. 

By Richard Bamford

                                Don’t Exist by Richard Bamford 

       I just want to go to sleep,  
      To disappear into the sheets.  
      To quiet the noise inside my skull,  
      and make it numb and make it dull.  
      It’s easier to not resist, the feeling I should not exist.  

      Self-loathing scratches at my face,  
      I want to dissolve without a trace.  
      The seething hate, the tears within,  
      Nobody can judge when my light is dimmed.  
      It’s easier to not resist, the feeling I should not exist.  

      The anger that I have suppressed,  
      Is fighting back and crushed my chest.  
      Just close my eyes and drift away,  
      Unless I can release this rage.  
      I can accept and clear this mist,  
      I can choose to embrace that I exist.  


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A poem about Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

I Scare Myself.

by Richard Bamford

A litre of water seeps from my face,
My stomach ties knots,
My heart quickens its pace.
Intestines clenched and bladder squeezed,
My mouth is dry like a dying tree.
But what is the cause of this behavioural mess,
With thoughts and feelings in distress?
I scare myself and regress to child,
Replaying emotions, I once had filed.

I feel on edge; my body on parole.
What will it take to gain control?
This story playing in my mind,
To the present moment I am blind.
My hearing’s heightened like a fleeing fawn,
I’m running from these images I’ve drawn.  
I scare myself I know that now,
My breathing’s shallow – I wipe my brow.

I close my eyes and inhale a breeze,
A sigh of clarity as the paranoia leaves.
I have returned; I’m here; I’m now,
My heartrate’s calming, I don’t know how,
I feel my feet upon the ground,
No longer attuned to every sound.  
I scare myself, that’s what I do,
But I don’t have to and nor do you.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Heliocentrics - A World of Masks

A World of Masks
The Heliocentrics
Soundway Records
By Richard Bamford

Sometimes a record really surprises you and surpasses your expectations. I’ve been digging Malcom Catto and The Heliocentrics for a few years now but their new album, A World of Masks, really blows my goose-pimples’ socks off. I stick the platter on the turntable and let the stylus gently kiss the groove. Subtle sounds seep from my speakers and bounce off my walls. But wait, this isn’t the psych jazz funk rock I was expecting; this is different. The Helio’s, it seems, have picked up a vocalist: Barbora Patkova. Babs’ Slovakian song soaks up the improv’ grooves with a porous embrace. Could this be The Heliocentrics missing link? My initial pull to this band were the masterful and manic drums. I can say this because I’m a drummer: Malcolm Catto is a fucking brilliant drummer. I’ve seen him live and I’ve listened to his work on a multitude of projects. The man can play them tubs. With The Heliocentrics debut, Out There, Malcolm’s rhythms were almost exhausting to keep up with, and bafflingly impossible to copy, but, on A World of Masks he’s no less tight, snappy and crisp, he’s subtle and set back, slightly. The man’s a human metronome and still guides each song as they’re neatly and sweetly interconnected with precision, but this gentler approach works to the band’s credit and enhances Babs’ soothing chants to an end that steers this away from an improv’ style to a more succinct body of work. A World of Masks isn’t just a classy jazz piece, it’s a multifaceted, multi-cultural masterpiece that whisks you around the globe and back again, picking up influences from Turkey, Morocco and Slovakia along the way. A World of Masks is released on Soundway Records on the 26th May.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The MOBOs: 20/08/06

Words by: Too Critical Cynics (The Hobbit & Great Scott)

Kanya King and her Music of Black Origin awards have returned once again. As in the past, the MOBOs attempted to walk the diamond encrusted tightrope between bringing lesser-known hopefuls to commercial attention and decorating the award ceremony with various international megastars. The latter was obviously in the forefront of the organizers mind when they decided to let a seemingly inebriated Coolio join comedy star Gina Yashere in the autocue reading. When the crazy-haired one staggered to the platform, the unmistakable sounds of bejeweled grills hitting the floor and plush folding seats smashing into their upright positions filled the ¾ capacity Royal Albert Hall. A night that was lacking direction and star power more than made up the difference with shock and awe. The stunned faces, regardless of ethnic origin, expressed the same wide-eyed stare following several key announcements, not the least of which included a ban on drinks being brought into the auditorium. It’s astonishing how slowly an un-lubricated pen drizzles unkindly across a page - oh well, at least the One Drop sound of reggae seems to’ve erased all the homophobia paranoia as per the previous years.

The performances were a reasonably balanced recipe of British and American commercial successes; Corinne Bailey Rae and Lemar serving as the two veg to accompany Rihanna and Le Toya’s meat [ahem] de jour. The main bugbear of the ceremony has to be the nominations and their lack of clarity. They were, predictably, as sketchy as a courtroom artists portfolio. How a man [Jay Z] who is allegedly in retirement gets nominated and subsequently wins Best International Male could only be topped by soul artist Anthony Hamilton being nominated for the Best Reggae accolade – only to be beaten by Sean Paul. Could the organizers really not think of any great reggae releases this year? I shouldn’t think Baby Cham or Tony Mattahorn cried themselves to sleep over this obvious lack of awareness. Akala’s surprise victory as Best Hip-Hop was acknowledged with muted applause as well as eye-rolling. Not denying Ms Dynamite’s baby bro’s talent, but in easily the most hotly contested category including Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, Kano and Sway, the decision seemed to be based on locality rather than quality. Fortunately, the evening wasn’t a total loss and highlights have to include soul legend Sam Moore’s performance, the Jazz musicians musical protest outside the venue - due to the MOBOs not recognizing Jazz as being a music of black origin, Rihanna’s shimmying and the punters - complete with raided accoutrement from Kanye, Pharrell, Kool Moe Dee and Liberace with varying degrees of failure.
As ever, it seems that Ms King’s idea of a perfect balance needs to be re-weighed. Wouldn’t a tally of perhaps an unknown American against an unknown Brit sit better on the stomach? At the moment, however, it’s still like an overdose of Andrews – lots of fizz, a few bubbles and pockets of air, followed by watery occurrences and a limp feeling of emptiness. The MOBO Independent Academy of judges seem as though they need a good clear-out.