Thursday, 24 September 2020

Strawberry Switchblade ‎– Strawberry Switchblade (1985)

Style: Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Korova, WEA Records

A1.   Since Yesterday
A2.   Deep Water
A3.   Another Day
A4.   Little River
A5.   10 James Orr Street
B1.   Let Her Go
B2.   Who Knows What Love Is?
B3.   Go Away
B4.   Secrets
B5.   Who Knows What Love Is? (Reprise)
B6.   Being Cold

Tippy Tappy Drums – Boris Williams
Keyboards – Alan Park, Phil Thornalley
Keyboards, Electronic Drums – David Motion
Lead Vocals, Guitar, Written-By – Rose McDowall
Percussion – Dave Morris
Sequenced By, Keyboards – Garry Hutchins
Trumpet – Bruce Nockles
Vocals, Guitar, Written-By – Jill Bryson
Strings And Woodwinds Arrangements – David Bedford
Producer, Arranged By – David Motion 

Whilst the alternative music scene now appears to be fragmented, lacking definition, detached from any robust ethos and not residing in any zeitgeist zone, music back in the 80s was an exciting and colourful place, saturated in youth culture. It was a post-punk explosion, a new wave of synth-pop, new romantics, gender bending and a distorted celebration, of dark wave goth noise-pop, lost in a world of dream-pop, whilst wistfully shoegazing at the stars.

In the midst of the dry-ice sugar-pop were a band which came out on the back end of the Punk scene, while embracing  the independent spirit of Glasgow. Whilst Glasgow gave us Postcard Records, it also gave us Strawberry Switchblade, whose blend of bittersweet, exotic and ethereal music was very much a hybrid of synth-pop and dark wave goth. Visually stunning, Strawberry Switchblade comprised of Rose McDowall on lead vocals and Jill Bryson on vocals and guitar, and whose bubble-gum giesha goth, polka dots, bows ribbons, flowers and Siren-esque appeal  mirrored their offbeat, idiosyncratic and colourful musical palette.

Harmonic Goddesses, both McDowall and Bryson collectively produced some amazing songs, which delved deep into the goth psyche and conveyed a sensitivity, which was delicate and  jubilant in equal measures. They were a band whose eponymous album, “Strawberry Switchblade”, was an intermix of dizzy, intricate and chaotic synths, which polga jumped and hopscotched  on rainbows, amongst the unicorns and fairies whilst quietly dancing in the rain.

Released in April 1985, the album contained the hit song “Since Yesterday”, which reached number 5 in the UK charts. Along with “Let Her Go” and “Who Knows What Love Is”, Strawberry  Switchblade’s appeal stretched out further afield, proving to be very popular in Japan. In view of this, Strawberry Switchblade released a Japanese edition of the album in 1997, containing B-sides, remixes and previously unreleased songs, which included “Trees and Flowers” and  a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”.

Błoto ‎– Kwiatostan (2020)

Genre: Jazz
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Astigmatic Records

           Kwiaty Rolne
A01.   Rumianek
A02.   Rzepień
A03.   Mak
A04.   Oset
A05.   Mlecz
           Kwiaty Ogrodowe
B06.   Kaczeńce
B07.   Chryzantema
B08.   Jaśmin
B09.   Chabry
B10.   Hortensja
B11.   Niezapominajka

Bass Guitar, Synthesizer – Wuja HZG
Drums, Percussion, Electronics – Cancer G
Piano, Synthesizer – Latarnik
Saxophones: Tenor, Alto, Sopranino; Electronic Wind Instrument, Percussion – Książę Saxonii

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak disrupting promotional and concert plans of the band Błoto, the three pressings of the debut album ‘Erozje’ have quickly sold out. Instead of leaving fans with old (recorded in 2018) material, the quartet decided to build the momentum and release the second album in 2020, entitled ‘Kwiatostan’ (‘Inflorescence’).

The streets of Warsaw in the first half of 2020 smelled of rain, disinfectant and electrical tension, caused by storms that broke out repeatedly. The black door of the elevator leading to the newly opening Jassmine club was reflected in the puddles. The faces of people passing by were covered with masks, and in street noise, one could hear the soft pulse of bass coming from somewhere below the ground... Two floors below, four musicians known from the EABS group met for the first time since the global pandemic began.

Based on the collective improvisation, they recorded their new material for three days. Despite their previous success, the team did not try to recreate proven patents from ‘Erozje’, but rather treated them as a starting point. We can still hear the influence of the golden era’s hip-hop, but this time the inspiration goes deeper to the connotations with club music (house, juke), and everything, as usual, is based on jazz music. Anthony Mills' unexpected cameo in his rap incarnation as Toni Sauna completes the album entitled ‘Kwiatostan’.

It cannot be ignored that the entire globe at the beginning of the 21st century stinks of smog, tear gas used to break up protests, and the sour sweat of politicians. The earth is eroding not only due to water, wind, sun or gravity, but mainly as a result of human activity. The Błoto quartet communicated these problems on their first album. It turned out that we operate in a world in which the cover of ‘Erosion' quickly turned out to be prophetic. Inflorescence grows on the ruins of a world devastated by erosion - a new system of branching shoots ending with flowers. In 2020, most of the petals, pistils and stamens are surprisingly pale as they are constantly suppressed by the system in which they thrive, preventing flowers their lush colours and right to diversity. Just like police states that keep an eye on society. ‘System’ is a keyword around which Błoto’s second album revolves.

Błoto’s new album - ‘Kwiatostan’ will be released on September 11, 2020, on Astigmatic Records in collaboration with the Jassmine club in Warsaw. The album will be available on a unique vinyl, limited to 600 copies, and on all streaming platforms.