Dark Matter: Chloe Glover

In probably the oddest way, I’ve discovered Manchester folk-punker Chloe Glover, during a rather slow news week, in which I opted to watch Star Trek rather than write. So, I’ve got stuff to review building, just, you know, a Netflix, sofa-lounging savoury snack calling. Meanwhile on the other side of the country, Chloe joined the nation’s joggers and tweeted a finish-line “I feel fantastic,” photo which reminded me of the “no makeup selfie” passing trend, being she added, “even with no makeup and covered in sweat and rain…”

See, a thing I don’t get intrigues me. Chloe affirms insecurities, and states her love of running, despite “looking objectively quite gross,” when she clearly doesn’t, and mutual friend, Kieran from Sheer Music concurred she doesn’t in a comment. That’s the link, how I discovered her. Knowing Mr Moore, I clicked on Chloe’s account, a fair assumption she’s a musician. Such is da powers of da inter-web, before you could say Joan Jett, I’m rocking to this debut EP “Dark Matter,” released just under a year gone.

While the opening track, Fool, is edgy, despondent themed folk-rock, and immediately obvious Chole has commanding and emotive vocals, it’s only dipping a little toe in the EP’s range. Only four tracks long, things escalate quickly. Get Back Up follows, and it’s time to rearward past the cliché and sappy direction P!nk commercialised riot grrrl and contemplate the impact of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, or possibly, Skunk Anansie. Here’s a beguiling potential punk-pop anthem, with balls, big balls, and sweary words to boot.

Three tunes and it’s dumped you in the kick-ass mood, courteously. Hurricane is really showing a vocal range, it’s decidedly indie taking on punk-pop, and it rocks. By the finale, Silver Linings, I’ve gone way beyond my previous nineties’ comparisons, because essentially, we’re in proper punk country, and I’m thinking Suzi Quatro, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts; this level of definitive punk.    

Photo Credit: Suncan Stone

Life after The Slits, and the hackneyed chauvinism backlashed against them, there was a celebrative sense about feminist punk, just prior to Spice Girl’s “Girl Power.” An epoch grasped beyond the fanzine culture, of Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear. But if you tried my recommendation of the Smalltown Tigers recently, and thought wow, that blew up in my face kinda quickly, you should note while Chloe doesn’t muck about, there’s a tenderer, leisurelier build-up to the rage, via folk, but perhaps closer associated with modern day too. This layered accumulation holds one in uncertainty on just how far Chole will take you, so, when she plucks these emotive and sharp frenzies, it’s a nice surprise, abso-fucking-lutely sublime and executed with a celestial meticulousness.

It’s immediately amiable and addictive, projected to an effective live show too, with band or acoustically, which has seen Chloe support Frank Turner. Still, I don’t get the no makeup fear thing, that recent Facebook selfie trend, like a dare. I’m always left scratching my head as to the fuss; they look gorgeous to me. Makeup, yeah, can highlight best features, but it’s not the makeup which is beautiful, is it? Just sitting in on a shelf in Superdrug, a nonentity, no lure there.

I recall you’d never see my Nan, until she’d “put her face on,” as she put it. As a kid I’d imagine her behind her bedroom door as Darth Vader in the scene of the Empire Strikes Back, you know the one, when his helmet eases down? But, for crying out loud, if you choose to see it like this, as your war paint, your confidence is shot, and you’re overthinking it. Slap or no slap, doesn’t make hide nor hair. Fuck what L’Oréal want to convince you of, and what Estée Lauder say you need; you are girls, women, the female human form, and that makes you beautiful, as standard, all of you. It really is that simple, and bollocks to anyone who says otherwise.

For Chole, the power, essence and obvious devotion to her music garnishes this unique EP. Dejected themes conclude to optimistic premise, and to nail a concept, an inclusive narrative within four songs is sheer talent. If the punk element to it is a like a girl, full of makeup, or the stripped-back folk is the girl without, neither matter, it’s all beautifully crafted, kick-ass music.

 


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You’ve Been Mangoed; With Mango Thomas!

Vast developments in the later days of breakbeat house saw a split in the blossoming rave scene. Techno-heads being directed away from the newfound UK sound found solace in a subgenre dubbed “happy hardcore,” whereas the trialling occurred in the dawn of drum and bass, or “jungle” as it was known at the time. Yet it was still underground and reserved for the party. No one considered a concept album, myself included, until I heard A Guy Called Gerald’s Black Secret Technology. I bought it on a memory tip-off, I loved the late eighties acid house anthem Voodoo Ray. It was like splinters of drum n bass over an ambient soundscape, and wasn’t for everyone, but while I was still gulping about it, Goldie released Timeless and the rest is history.

Creative outpourings too radical or experimental for the time are commonplace, and perhaps our necessity to pigeonhole excludes Manchester’s Mango Thomas. He emailed with a list of rejections from specific music blogs and radio shows, being if one part did, the rest of his new EP “Goes De,” out today (22nd Nov) didn’t fit their restrictive agenda. There’s part of me which says I don’t blame them, this is a hard pill to swallow, juxtaposed randomly at breakneck speed, it’s a roller-coaster alright; you have no control where it’ll take you.

Mango Thomas throws every conceivable psychedelic genre of yore into a breakcore melting pot, and pours you a jug; if you take a sip you might as well down the whole thing, for it works fast, it’s a trip and you’re in it for the duration. You have to be, if only to wonder what’s coming next. And in that, it has to be one the most interesting things I’ll review here for a while. Yeah, it uses contemporary breakcore, but at times nods back to drum n bass of yore, but it funks too, it rocks, unexpectedly, and if you thought you could be shocked no more, it even mellowly bhangras at the finale, as if Ravi Shankar wandered in.

There are so many elements to contemplate in this hedonistic frenzy of chaos, yet with crashing hi-hats, stripped down rhythms, sonic belters, echoes and reverbs, it primarily relies on dub techniques absorbing industrial metal and hardcore. Imagine an alternative universe where the Mad Professor is remixing Bootsy Collins, but in this realm Bootsy actually fronts a thrash metal band, and Frank Zappa peers over the mixing board putting his tuppence in; something like that, but more bonkers.

Picking it apart, at times you’ll contemplate Mango Thomas’ location and hear shards of the Madchester scene, other points will wobble you over to the Butthole Surfers, for if it is industrial hardcore skater, it’s done tongue-in-cheek. But it doesn’t come over dejected, as such a genre archetypically does, rather showy and egotistical like a funkmaster general. The man himself explains the effect will leave you “mangoed,” I’ve a tendency to agree.

It’s four major tracks with reprises and clippits between, often Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band fashioned, bizarre, amusing or deliberately belligerent to the mainstream, in true counter culture fashion. Do I like it, though, that’s what you want to know, isn’t it? Damn you and your demands, fuck, I don’t know. It’s always going to be something you have to be in the mood for, certainly not drifting Sunday afternoon music to take a snooze to after a roastie. A younger me would lap it up, as it twists so unexpectedly. Any psychedelia gone before doesn’t touch it for cross-genre experimentation, and for that, in my artier moods, I give it full points. A sensible somebody as I’d prefer to strive for might suggest it’s too far out there. But it entertained me for sure, so it has its place.

Can I suggest you throw caution to the wind, listen and see how long you can bear to hold out for? If you like Tim Burton, Zappa or Lee Scratch Perry you’ll be partly prepared. Try though, as the finale is something quite astounding and as an erratic mishmash it mirrors A Guy Called Gerald’s Black Secret Technology for pushing new boundaries, but it mirrors Sgt Peppers, the Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse and Bitches Brew too.