Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Niagara ‎– Apologia (2018)

Genre: Electronic
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Príncipediscos

01.   França
02.   6:30
03.   Momento Braga
04.   40
05.   Senhora Do Cabo
06.   2042
07.   Damasco
08.   Siena
09.   Graffiti
10.   Via Garibaldi *CD bonus track*
11.   Matriz *CD bonus track*
12.   Cabo Verde *CD bonus track*
13.   O Astro *CD bonus track*

Written and Produced by Niagara
Mastered by Tó Pinheiro Da Silva

They’ve made something undeniably imprinted with their voice and their humbled boogie shines in a new light.

I love Principe records. Every release is an odd, beautiful nugget of metallic Afro-Portuguese joy. This one's no exception. Niagara ploughs their own electronic furrow on their debut album after 5 years of 12”s & EPs.

Cobbled together out of ethnographic recordings, distant shortwave signals, and idiosyncratic synths, Apologia sets its sights on an elusive state of transcendence. Consider it an escape vehicle to spirit listeners away from the failures of what more efficient, more expensive methods of music-making have wrought.  
PITCHFORK album review
The Donald Duck voice during "França" seems to be adapting to this new world of Niagara. But once you go through the portal, it's all sunshine and ocean surf. 
"Apologia" is the first full-length by the trio of Alberto, António and Sara, expanding their organic machine music into hazy, fresh territories. Most tracks in here are concise, around the 3-minute mark, and they appear to us as openings to a fertile underground stream, ever moving. We are shown glimpses of some other world that simultaneously looks ancient and a patchwork of today's moods of exotica. Throw in some sparse synth work reminiscent of Blade Runner 's skyline and you can hardly tell if this sounds like the future or some distant past.  
Longer tracks "6:30" and "Siena" help you settle along this pan-tastic journey, acting as centerpieces to the album. "Siena" displays the loveliest flute vibes and gentle synthetic stabs adding to the groove. Fourth World PLUS.  

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Tender Prey (1988)

Style: Alternative Rock, New Wave
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mute, Enigma Records, Virgin

01.   The Mercy Seat
02.   Up Jumped The Devil
03.   Deanna
04.   Watching Alice
05.   Mercy
06.   City Of Refuge
07    Slowly Goes The Night
08.   Sunday's Slave
09.   Sugar Sugar Sugar
10.   New Morning
11.   The Mercy Seat (Video Mix)

Acoustic Guitar – Mick Harvey
Backing Vocals – Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey
Bass – Mick Harvey
Drums – Mick Harvey, Thomas Wydler
Guitar – Blixa Bargeld, Kid Congo Powers
Harmonica – Nick Cave
Organ (Hammond) – Nick Cave
Piano – Nick Cave, Roland Wolf
Vocals – Nick Cave
Producer – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Sometimes an opener strikes its audience with such force that it immediately defines the act in question, casting such a shadow that all that follows is obscured. And sometimes an opener sounds like The Mercy Seat, leaving the listener broken, guts upturned, shattered despite being rooted to the spot for seven minutes. 
Tender Prey, The Bad Seeds’ fifth album, was released in 1988 to a chorus of critical acclaim, much of which was a product of its curtain-raising, righteously rollicking lead track. The Mercy Seat has had much written about it in the years between its original release and this reissue – which features the album in 5.1 surround for those with the right equipment, as well as video content – and little needs adding here. Know, simply, that once heard it’s a song you won’t forget in a hurry. 
Tender Prey isn’t without its share of further genuine catalogue highlights, such as Deanna and City of Refuge, finding as it does Cave on scintillating lyrical form and the players – Kid Congo Powers, of The Cramps and The Gun Club, makes his Bad Seeds debut here – operating at a level unprecedented. It represented a high water mark for the band, a belated successor to the malevolence and majesty of 1984’s debut, From Her to Eternity.  
Ultimately, neither of its simultaneously reissued follow-up releases – 1990’s The Good Son and 1992’s Henry’s Dream – is quite as striking, but such a statement is borne of pure subjectivity. And it’s not like the two – 5.1 again, plus videos for delights such as Straight to You and The Ship Song (timeless, both) – are poor albums. They’re anything but: the former saw Roland Wolf leave the Bad Seeds fold, but the instrumentation loses little of its potency, and religious imagery remains prominent in Cave’s wordplay. Henry’s Dream kicks off with another song that’s become a bona-fide must-have for those with the slightest of interest in the group, the tremendous Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry. It, like The Mercy Seat two albums before it, is a knee-trembling, blood-boiling show-stopper. 
The Bad Seeds don’t really do substandard albums, and this trio represents a very important chapter in the band’s career, where raw aggression was tempered and a little heart emerged through their laid-on-thick expanse of darkness. Let Love In, which followed Henry’s Dream, is probably the pick of the period, but its triumph is by the thinnest of margins. 
Mike Diver / BBC Review

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Kicking Against The Pricks (1986)

Style: Alternative Rock, New Wave
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mute, Homestead Records, Liberation Records

01.   Muddy Water
02.   I'm Gonna Kill That Woman
03.   Sleeping Annaleah
04.   Long Black Veil
05.   Hey Joe
06.   The Singer
07.   Black Betty
08.   Running Scared
09.   All Tomorrow's Parties
10.   By The Time I Get To Phoenix
11.   The Hammer Song
12.   Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart
13.   Jesus Met The Woman At The Well
14.   The Carnival Is Over

Performer – Barry Adamson, Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey, Thomas Wydler
Producer – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Besides being noteworthy as an astonishingly good all-covers album, Kicking Against the Pricks is notable for the arrival of a new key member for the Seeds, drummer Thomas Wydler. Besides being a fine percussionist, able to perform at both the explosive and restrained levels Cave requires, Wydler also allowed Harvey to concentrate on adding guitar and keyboards live as well as in the studio, a notable bonus. Race reappears briefly to add some guitar while former Birthday Party cohorts Rowland Howard and Tracy Pew guest as well, the latter on some of his last tracks before his untimely death. The selection of songs is quite impressive, ranging from old standards like "Long Black Veil" to everything from John Lee Hooker's "I'm Gonna Kill That Woman" and Gene Pitney's pop aria "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart." Matching the range of material, the Seeds are well on their way to becoming the rock/cabaret/blues showband of Cave's dreams, able to conjure up haunting, winsome atmospheres ("Sleeping Annaleah") as much as higher-volume takes (Roy Orbison's "Running Scared," the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties"). The version of Leadbelly's "Black Betty" is particularly grand, Harvey's drumming driving the track with ominous power. This said, often holding everything back is the key, as the creepout build of "Hey Joe" demonstrates. Even more striking is how Cave's own vocals rebut the charges that all he ever does is overdramatize everything he sings -- consider the husky, purring delivery on Johnny Cash's "The Singer." Other winners include a masterful version of Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and the stately, album-closing "The Carnival Is Over," originally a mid-'60s hit for the Seekers. 
Ned Raggett / AllMusic

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Your Funeral ... My Trial (1986)

Style: Alternative Rock, New Wave
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label, Mute, Paradoxx Music, Liberation Records

1.   Sad Waters
2.   The Carny
3.   Your Funeral My Trial
4.   Stranger Than Kindness
5.   Jack's Shadow
6.   Hard On For Love
7.   She Fell Away
8.   Long Time Man
9.   Scum

Backing Vocals – Mick Harvey
Bass – Barry Adamson, Mick Harvey
Drums – Mick Harvey, Thomas Wydler
Glockenspiel – Thomas Wydler
Guitar – Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey
Harmonica – Nick Cave
Organ – Mick Harvey
Organ (Hammond) – Nick Cave
Piano – Mick Harvey, Nick Cave
Rhythm Guitar – Mick Harvey
Snare – Mick Harvey
Vocals – Nick Cave
Voice – Blixa Bargeld
Xylophone – Mick Harvey, Thomas Wydler
Lyrics By – Anita Lane, Nick Cave
Music By – Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey, Nick Cave
Co-producer – Flood, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tony Cohen

Was there ever a bleaker title than Your Funeral… My Trial? Even by Nick Cave's dark-hearted standards, it's a weighty moniker to millstone a collection with.  
Recorded quickly in Berlin's Hansa Studios – the same studio that birthed David Bowie's masterpiece, 'Heroes' - across two summer months of 1986, it is every bit as dark and desolate as that title suggests.  
Yet it is also one of Nick Cave's most accessible and varied works. Released hot on the heels of the difficult yet deadly covers album Kicking Against The Pricks – a mere three months separates them – it is filled with the sultry and salacious, the sanguine and staggering.  
Indeed, it's an introduction to every voice, from murder balladeer to furious bluesman, that the maturing and increasingly marvellous songsmith would use beyond it.  
Top billing goes to the thrilling cabaret of The Carny, a song so ocular, it is hard to listen to it without swirling off into rain-streaked monochrome visions of the gnarled troop huddled against the weather.  
Alongside it rages a charming myriad of subtle tumult. There's the aching thrill of Sad Waters, the taut dramatic hopelessness of the title track, the electrifying chaos of Jack's Shadow, the dirty roar of Hard On For Love - and then there's Stranger Than Kindness.  
Built around a skin-shivering guitar coil, Stranger Than Kindness is the opening salvo of one of Cave's greatest talents – the twisted love song. At once both beautiful and startling, it is a song that sounds like a held breath, never letting slip the power that swells within it.  
Your Funeral… My Trial is a lesson in delicious restraint and revelation, a showcase of just what grandeur can be achieved by a speedy yet dedicated work ethic, and as fine an opus as Cave has ever produced. 
Chris Long / BBC Review