Recreational Trespass with N/SH

Arriving just in time to catch Swindon schoolteacher Garri Nash by weekday, ambient acoustic musician N/SH by gig-nights, at one of the early mini-festivals of The Crown at Bishop’s Cannings this summer, I’d missed local covers band Paradox play before him. It perhaps wasn’t the most appropriate follow, Paradox roused the audience with lively renowned covers, and N/SH is at best a niche market of downtempo original compositions.

Though it’s in the recording studio, or at a music venue geared towards original and acoustic artists where we see him shine. Recreational Trespass is out today, up on Bandcamp with pressings forthcoming from Genepool Records in Plymouth. It’s an album amidst a prolific discography, though Garri himself states he’s “still the ‘new boy on the block’ out there as far as music is concerned.”

And what he does is new, not least unique, if the track Afterstorm on this release gives you goosebumps about the intro to U2’s The Streets Have no Name, yes, it sounds similar, but stays with that intro’s mood, symbolically N/SH’s style, it doesn’t bang into the heavy rock riff, it rarely “goes off.” Neither is dub a component, with its wildly adjusting tenors and erratic tempo changes. This just softens, simple as electronica outfits such as Tangerine Dream, but with rock’s ingredients to boot.

They all glide mellowly, fragments of abstract thought, and also, unlike the ambient house of The Orb, or KLF, I find myself scrambling for comparisons with, neither do they linger too long. There’s no soundscape of winds blowing, or a dog barking in the distance for twenty minutes prior to a beat kicking in, they’re comparatively shorter, clips, often hazy and artistically composed; when one chain of thought expires, the song does too, occasionally abruptly, and it’s onto the next, like a rough book of juxtaposed ideas.

If I’m to make comparisons, you’d have to imagine Cat Stevens with modern tech. N/SH’s innermost mind must be a perpetual swirl of ideas, if he wrote comedy, it’d a sketch show rather than a sitcom. But comedy doesn’t come into play here, dunno why I mentioned it really! Solemn and dejected the themes wallow, often hinging on limb, lo-fi and distant, as if you’re only a passer-by in this reverie.

I tried to address where this inimitable style came from. Passing off my ambient house acquaintance, of student days of yore, Garri explained “for me, the ambient is more influenced by Sigur Ros, Fink, etc, which is more chilled. I know Ambient House has its own genre but I’m told mine is indie, alternative. BBC use this for my genre, and now some electronic.”

“Folktronic,” I said was a term penned by David Gray, and I like this tag, but N/SH felt it sounded too Americana to suit. “I’m definitely not that,” he expressed, “or folk, which I’ve been labelled with before but hey, it’s what people hear.” Though a lengthy conversation pursued around precise genre-labelling, we found common ground on the ethos of nah, mate, against pigeonholes, they’re for pigeons only; I’m just trying to pin it down for descriptive purposes here.

Yet I find myself troubled in pinning it, it’s acoustic with soundscape backing tracks, it’s artistic expression equally as much as music, and I’m a sucker for the alternative rulebreakers. For others, I guess it’s Marmite; that said, I blow their advertising slogan out of the window, because I can take it or leave it!

Engulfed in this album though, it takes a few listens, adjustments from the norm, and there’s a lot going on subject matter-wise, poetically dishevelled and sporadically misplaced, it makes for an interesting listen. Alone on a showery eve, it’ll make your cup of tea go cold, as you stare at raindrops descending down the window, consenting it to draw you into its melting portrayals.


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The Bakesys, Thursday Night on my Television

The Bakesys have a new album out this week, to get your flux capacitor firing on all cylinders……

Though Perry Como got the ball rolling for a possible “10 songs which stick in your head” nonsense article today, I’ve been pleasantly reminded of eighties German outfit, Trio. A kind of poor man’s Europop Ian Dury, their only UK hit ‘Da Da Da’ definitely fits the bill.

But in turn it reminded me I’ve an album review to prioritise, a track on which reeks of Trio, and not the popular chocolate biscuit of the era. With its upfront ZX Spectrum game backbeat ‘Six O’clock Already‘ is like techno never happened; you can virtually see Jet Set Willy entering the banyan tree.

If you need Google to comprehend that reference, Newbury’s The Bakesys’ ‘Thursday Night on my Television,‘  might skyrocket over your head. Inspired by late eighties third wave ska bands, The Bakesys formed in 1990, and frontman Kevin Flowerdew is now editor of the superlative ska-zine ‘Do The Dog.’
I fondly reviewed their last outpouring, Sentences I’d Like To Hear The End Of, in which a variety of sixties news headlines are given a fourth gen ska makeover to poignant and danceable effect. This latest album is a different ballpark.

Through retrospective compilation, Thursday Night on my Television, relies entirely on that post-punk pop era, where no subgenre in the clutter of youth cultures could avoid the onslaught of electronica. It was a do-or-die age of experimentation, free of the trend of sampling. And unlike the previous Bakesys’ album, there are no samples, just rich of culture references harking of the kind of sounds dripping from that era, and deliberately clunky.


Fun Boy Three’s Our Lips are Sealed gets a counter-reaction, Molly Ringwald gets a mention, in a song akin to Kirsty McColl’s guy down the chip shop, and the best ballad themes around the subject of Bunking Off School, Jumping on Buses, leaving no doubts The Bakesys are either Dr Who, or lived this time, and are reminiscing on both reality-driven romance and fantasising, of John Hughes characters.

With shards of Two-Tone, new wave and post-punk, no pre-electronica subgenre is left behind, as it merges into this experimental period, this album will have you recollecting all from The Damned and The Beat, to Blancmange and Sparks, if you don’t remember ‘Beat the Clock,’ your memory will be jogged by this retrospective outpouring, and in the words of Kenny Everett, “all in the best possible taste!”

For it might take a couple of listens to be fully immersed, for what was avantgarde might now be cliché, The Bakesys home in with such a degree you’re drawn into reliving rather than attributing, like your Harrington jacket, Doc Martins and Fred Perry polo shirt have been hanging in your wardrobe all this time, waiting for you to stop staring at that fading Kim Wilde poster on your wall, and nip to the arcade to play some Space Invaders until a fight breaks out….. which kinda makes it alright.

But, it took me by surprise, expecting ska, when even the most ska-ish track, Money all the Time, has the electronic plod of Depeche Mode. It’s a synth-pop marvel, with a notion to matured retrospection, rather than delinquent melancholy, and it works on a level above the archetypal 80s tribute, to the point I’ll be avoiding white dog shit on the street, and I can smell that bubble gum you used to get in trading cards!


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On The Road With Talk in Code!

You know that millennial movie, Almost Famous, set mid-seventies, where Rolling Stone Magazine mistake a nerdy teenager for a music journalist and send him on the road with an outrageous prog-rock band? It was nothing like that. Neither did it resemble 200 Motels, where a man dressed as a vacuum cleaner convinces you Ringo Starr is actually Frank Zappa in some freaky acid flashback. But I did have an awesome adventure yesterday, on the road with local premier indie-pop favs, Talk in Code.…..

There were no campervans with CND slogans painted on the side-door, no sign of Goldie Hawn’s daughter unfortunately, and though my bubbles of anachronistic pre-imaginings burst, it allowed me to chart the regular labour of a touring band, rather than my usual practise of slouching up halfway through a performance with lame excuse. For if I’m going to write on the subject, I need to comprehend the inner workings, and the thoughts of a band going to a gig; even though I’m far from teenage music journalist with an advance from Rolling Stone!

So, by dinnertime I’m lone with guitarist Alastair Sneddon at the steering wheel, hereafter referred to as “Snedds,” with an amp case knocking in the rear of his car, and distracted by my inane waffling, weaving between musical subjects, badly following his sat-nav to Portsmouth.

Likely the eldest of this four-piece band, Snedds is a family man with a wealth of musical experience. He fondly recalls playing in cover bands, jazz and blues groups and our chat swifts across his past, musical influence brushing off on his children, current past gigs and local venues, to the importance, or insignificance of pop culture, the mainstream music industry and current trends of listening to music from streaming platforms to amplification to listening through phone speakers; we could’ve chatted all night on his passionate chosen subject, least it perceived to reduce the travel time.  

Before I knew it, we were awkwardly parked on a busy street in Southsea. Awash with cheesy club type pubs, restaurants, kebab houses and chippies, lies an equally misplaced theatre to our right, and a more traditional looking city tavern, The Lord John Russell, which will be our venue for the evening. Like a true roadie I felt a sense of haughtiness as I assisted lugging equipment through the already bustling pub; make way, yes, I’m with the band, ladies control yourselves!

But nothing felt ostentatious for the band as they amassed their kit in a corner, greeted each other and the promoter; here’s a tight working team despite the geographic distance between them. Talk in Code are part from Swindon, Reading and Devizes, but here they are with an excited air of anticipation brewing. There’s a trio of bands on tonight, Talk in Code are second on, while the first are already sound checking, locally based to Portsmouth, Southerlies are a seven-piece covers band, fusing Americana with punchy hooks into contemporary pop; they proficiently delivered their set with good male-female vocal harmonies, and being local I observe they attracted a fanbase.

Quite eclectic then, to switch to Talk in Code’s more electronica indie-pop, which as I discussed in the car with Snedds, perpetually seemed to fuse conventional nineties indie sound to a more inimitable eighties synth-pop style with every new tune. Yet tricker still was the notion the Talkers insist to play only their originals, which would be unknown to this rather heterogenous crowd. Besides, frontman Chris gets his fill of covers with the Britpop Boys.

Seems Friday live music nights are relatively new-fangled for the Lord John Russell, with a promoter keen to create the venture, the pub also adhered to cater for the pull on it’s street with screens showing sport and archetypical club music between acts. As much as market town pubs like Devizes’ Southgate work here, with a penchant for original live music and solely that, it wouldn’t work in this busy city location judging by the footfall. But a splendid, convivial and dynamic pub it was with a wide demographic.

One thing I was keen to gage from Talk in Code, the priorities and feelings towards playing a gig outside their usual stomping ground as opposed to returning to a venue like Swindon’s Victoria where a fanbase would be welcoming. They stressed the importance of both, and being their recent connection to Regent Street Records, there’s a keenness in the band to grab wider-appeal in anticipation of the forthcoming album. The release of which has been pushed back to accommodate this collaboration.

Still, all the band are united in praising recent local gigs, particularly Trowbridge Town Hall where they supported The Worried Men, and were keen to pick out the importance of the many locally-based festivals they’re booked at, from Minety to Live at Lydiard and IWild in Gloucestershire. And with appearances at places like Oxford’s HMV, things are really looking up for them post-lockdown.

And it’s easy to see why when they bounced on stage last night at the Lord John Russell, after their virtually nail-biting eagerness while the Southerlies launched into their final song, Chris already polishing his guitar and Snedds confessing the waiting game is a pet hate. A technical issue with leads to the backing tracks solved, the band applauded the previous and proficiently executed their thing, introducing themselves and delivering their songs with panache.

For me it was a blessing, being I’m aware of much of their discography, to finally get to witness them do it live, and had to stop to ponder their stage presence is as exhilarating as their recorded work. Yet, my view of the performance differed from the crowd as the band were likely new to them. Still, they got the place jumping, sprightlier, and louder than the previous band. They confessed a spirit of fair competition was unavoidable in them, yet affirmed their ethos to never do their set and bunk, in respect for other bands; Talk in Code come off as outgoing throughout and it was an honour to be welcomed into their web.

Also present, I spent time chatting connections, her background as music journalist and her fanzine making past, with manager Lyndsey. From Milton Keynes she avidly followed the group in their early years, falling in love with their sound it seemed only natural to mutually agree for her to manage. And part-time freelance photographer Helen, whose PolarPix Facebook page is dominated with Talk in Code shots. I put it to her she seems to have another band photographed then a Talk in Code one, then another Talk in Code one, then another random band. She acknowledged most of the other bands were on the same bill as TIC! A true “Talker,” as is their fanbase appellation.

Percival Elliott

A pleasant change from trudging the local circuit, as the finale was a euphoric rock band named Percival Elliott, who, with barefoot frontman on keys, executed a sublime set, the like you’d want Coldplay to achieve. In many ways here was a band apt for our own fond venues such as aforementioned Southgate and Trowbridge Town Hall. Without boast, coming highly recommended by yours truly occasionally has some clout, though there was part of me who, if in control of this triple-bill, would’ve put Talk in Code as the final band, being more upbeat popish.

We give no more review of The Lord John Russell for the sake of it being outside our boundaries, but if you’re Pompy bound this would be an ideal pub to consider, offering a variety of free live music dates on Fridays. Now I’m home, unpacked my Peppa Pig bucket and spade, but while I unfortunately didn’t see the seaside, or Kate Hudson, I was in good company with a band which goes from strength-to-strength.  


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Crossed Wires with a Timid Deer

OMG, and coming from someone who refuses to use OMG on principle, rather than its blasphemous connotations, that old dogs, new tricks, I don’t usually conform to trending words or abbreviations. I just don’t get the irony. I mean, kids use the word sick to mean something that’s good. Why can’t they just use wicked like we used to do?

Anyway, it’s my third music review of the day, and while I may be knocking them out, tangents tend to creep in without apologies. But here’s my new favourite discovery while washing the dishes, Salisbury’s Timid Deer, a band I’ve seen listed here and there, supporting our Lost Trades, a track I loved on Screamlite’s New Hero Sounds NHS fundraising compilation, et all, but had yet to delve fully into. And the result is the reason I used OMG despite all I said about it.

Ah yeah, at the Lost Trades launch at the Pump!

All I will say is, if our mission is to seek out new local music, new bands and boldly go where no blog has blogged before, Captain Kirk needs a crew therefore so do I. Mind you, my own daughter suggests I look more like Suru on Discovery, which I beg to differ; the guy walks like the back end of a donkey while I’ve got the more Charlie Chaplin swagger, and I excuse another tangent. Why didn’t someone least hint, oi, Worrow, I reckon you’d like Timid Deer, reckon its right up your street?

Before I’d even put the fairy liquid in the sink, I’m warmed to these mellow electronic and soulful vibes. Akin to Portishead and Morcheeba, without the need to be locked in the nineties trip hop era, Timid Deer is a blessing in the indie-fuse of euphoric keys by Tim, with Tom on double bass, guitarist Matt, drummer Chris, and the mind-blowingly gifted vocals of Naomi, who has the vocal strength of Mayyadda, but with the childlike uniqueness of Bjork.

The name-your-price single Crossed Wires came out end of last month, unbeknown to me. An uplifting piano three-minute masterwork, engulfing your soul and building layers with smooth electronic beats. Evocative as Enya without the orchestrated strings, as expressive as Clannad without the folk roots, and closer to Yazoo via electronica, rather than the aforementioned influences of Portishead and Morcheeba. Ticks all my boxes.

There are two gorgeous previous albums, Mountains stretches back as far as 2012 and Melodies for Nocturnal from 2019, and there you go, see, I’m nocturnal, why didn’t someone nudge me further towards this great band? I dunno, if a jobs worth doing…..


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Trowbridge DJ and Producer, Neonian Releases Debut EP

A figure appears through the labyrinth of florescent drapes, strobing with ultra-violet lights. She’s void of expression, hypnotised in her individual realm she perpetually gyrates, wearing a black figure-hugging bodysuit, highly decorated in costume jewellery constructed from glowsticks. It’s not the image families would conceive of when thinking of Longleat, rather a cheeky posse of rhesus macaque monkeys ripping the rubber insulation off their Volvo.

Yet the Wiltshire raver of yore will note, and reminisce, to trek to Swindon’s Brunel Rooms would be to face happy hardcore, jungle or house, whereas there was a tribal movement of tranced techno-heads, a conglomerate of Wilts and Somerset rural ravers in the basement of the Warminster manor, and it took on a wildlife of its own; the UFO Club at the Berkley Suite. Memories of it flood what’s left of my neurons, I’m halfway into Trowbridge DJ and Producer, Neonian’s debut EP Vaxxor, released this coming Friday (5th March.)

Not before the opening title track, that is, which detonates a more breakbeat house prose at you, something for the peaky middle of a set by Plump DJs in a glasshouse club off Brighton beach in the latter nineties. There’s a lot going on here, for a four track EP, and it’s having all subgenres large.

Released through Weatnu Records, there’s parts of Vaxxor where I thought a more conventional and contemporary danceable beat might rear its head, but it doesn’t, it solidly rides a wave of classic electronic dance music with a penchant for the techno-trance feel, hence my memories of the UFO Club. That said, Vaxxor, as a tune contains definite traces of punky chemical beats, akin the Prodigy or Chemical Brothers, yet rather than a gimmicky vocal or sample element for possible mass-appeal, Neonian seems aware pop has detracted from this trend of recent, ergo its concentration is on perusing a consistent beat and sonic hi-hats.

This leaves you semi-prepared for the more trance-techno sound of the following tune, Glow. For this it is thumbs up as the most poignantly danceable, in the four-by-four psytrance fashion akin to Goa trance. Hypnotic Jerk takes elements of this, and slides into a downbeat “hypnotic cocoon teetering on the edge of normality.” Imagine Nightmares on Wax if triphop hadn’t been invented.  We’re in the chillout tent, Eat Static are playing a Sunday morning set, that’s where it is; yeah, I’m with you, mate, got a flyer I can roach?!

All these four tracks were recorded during the lockdowns, and together are a glorious testament to the psych-subgenres of the UK underground dance scene. But if you’ve any misgivings to the variety of the melting pot, I’ll confirm Neonian blends and crafts it with distinct precision. To affirm he’s clearly nodding to his influences, the testament comes to a finale like a returning migratory bird to its nest. Proof to the Tower finishes this short journey off with something, though layered with aforementioned influences, strips the sound back the subgenres’ combined roots.

Proof to the Tower drips with elegant attributes of post-punk electronica, aligning New Order, Depeche Mode and even the stiffer originators, Kraftwerk and The Art of Noise. The EP is getting radio plays from BBC Radio Wiltshire, Kinetic7Radio (Bleeps & Beats show), Radio TFSC and Radio Wigwam, and I’m far from surprised.

Neonian is the work of Ian Sawyer, who has previously released a few singles, a mini LP ‘Treasure’ and provided remixes for Frannie B, NNYz?, Sergeant Thunderhoof and James Harriman. “I make music, for myself,” Ian explains, “I can’t really describe it but it’s mainly made with synthesisers, loops and samples. Influences include New Order, Boards Of Canada, Coil, Pye Corner Audio, Factory Floor, and Russ Abbot.” Unsure about citing that last one, though Vaxxor certainly has an atmosphere!

Nonetheless these tributes to the pioneers of electronica and nineties trance, techno and breakbeats are often viewed as rather soulless, this does what it says on the tin while retaining something fresh to boot. Clearly, four tracks with Neonian aren’t enough, I’d like to hear a fully-mixed electronic concept album, perhaps, to be fully sucked into its deep and hypnotic grooves.

Excuse me for being so fussy, but some uplifting sections, with gimmicky elements such as female vocals would be advantageous. Not solely for my own palate, rather in hope it’ll attract the attention of a wider audience. As, like William Orbit did when he got the phone call from Madonna, I think while Vaxxor is damn cool with florescent socks on, Neonian, I feel has yet to achieve his magnum opus, but when he does, judging by this EP, you’ll want to standing in the middle of it, making boxes and reaching for the stars.

Available on all Digital Platforms March 5th 2021; ‘Vaxxor’ is now available to Pre-Order on Bandcamp via the following link.  You get to download the track ‘Glow’ now and the rest of the EP when it is released on March 5th.


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