Saturday, 17 March 2012

Richard Norris Interview

Richard's illustrious career has brought to our ears a broad range of sounds from his co-production of the psychedelic acid album "Jack The Tab"  to old skool gems such as Intergalatica, Floatation, Face The Sun, Crystal Clear and the smash hit Swamp Thing as one half of the Grid. 

Add to this countless re-mixes and production inc Robbie Williams and Soft Cell. His more recent projects as one half of Beyond The Wizards Sleeve and his own Time & Space Machine fuse the past and the present with influences of psychedelic pop & rock and nu-balearica.

1)        Firstly thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to complete this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you started your musical career?

i started by howling down a Woolworths mic at the age of 13 in a band called the Innocent Vicars. I went on to make records as the Grid, and currently, occasionally, as Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve, and mainly the Time and Space Machine. It took years.

2)       It’s been a while since you released Balearic classics and chart smashes as one half of the Grid. Who or what were your influences for the more psychedelic 60’s and prog rock feel of the Wizards Sleeve and the Time and Space Machine?

Mainly any record that feels like a sensation, be it ESG or Liquid Liquid or Can or Neu! or Lee Scratch Perry or King Sunny Ade... sensation, plus the undeniable feeling of a rump, wiggling.

3)       Aside from the Time and Space Machine’s debut album “Set Phazers To Stun” other releases such as the volume series are only released on vinyl. Will they eventually be released on cd or digital for fans like me who haven’t brought any vinyl since 1999?

Yes there was a limited release CD called 'The Time and Space Machine Turns You On', which was out about a year ago, and collected tracks from all the vinyl releases. I'm sure it's still about if you want it. The next album proper, 'Taste The Lazer'.is out in a few weeks. I hope you like it.

4)       We’ve had a sneaky taste of the second Time and Space Machine album with the release of “Pill Party in India” how do you feel the album has progressed from “Set Phazers To Stun”?

About half way through the album I was persuaded by T+SM's beathead drummer Wildcat Will that we should turn the project into a live band. This really informed the album, and 8 minute wig outs like tracks such as 'Black Rainbow' are the result. It's moving towards the  psych-motorik-balearic band I have recurring dreams about. We have lift off!

5)       You’re taking your Time and Space Machine project on the road as a five man band. Where can people catch the show and are you willing to divulge the identity of the band members?

We are playing a few festivals, such as Standon Calling. Golden Down, Green Man, and the Strummerville festival Strummer Of Love. Mainly small festivals. We'll be bringing myself, Wildcat Will and a revolving bunch of pranksters, between five and nine, on to the stage. 

6)       As an established producer, musician, re-mixer and music journalist do you have any advice for young people entering the music industry?

I'd tell em the same thing that i am still constantly learning... do it yourself. There isn't any other way. I don't mean hand press your records and set up a vinyl stall, although that might also be fun. More like, do it for and by yourself, whichever way you do it. It's harder (and easier) than you think. 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Shuba Mudgal, Ursula Rucker & The Business Class Refugees - No Stranger Here Review

Artist: Shubha Mudgal, Ursula Rucker & The Business Class Refugees

Album: No Stranger Here

Label: Earthsync

Released: Feb 2012

A Stranger Here is the collaborative work of Shubha Mudgal, Ursula Rucker and The Business Class Refugees

A quick introduction to the contributors.

Shubha Mudgal is a well respected and award winning female Indian vocalist who draws her influences from the ancient and rare teachings of Muslim-Sufi and Hindustani traditions. As well as having her own gift of a voice Shubha has been trained by some of India's greatest vocalists to produce her unique tones, texture and range that are not easily matched.

Ursula Rucker is a Philadelphia born poet and performance artist whose inimitable style and passion has won her many accolades in the music community and seen her collaborate with a diverse range of artists such as 4Hero, Evil 9, URB, The Roots and many more. She is also a social activist and a campaigner for peace both of which inform her writing.

The Business Class Refugees consist of music producer Patrick Sebag and Yotam Agam (Kartick & Gotam) who together incorporate world music with their own brand of electronica to produce an emotive language of irresistible grooves.

The whole concept behind 'A Stranger Here' is to give voice to the poetry of Kabir a teacher of the Bakti movement (500-1700AD) Which spoke of the intrinsic search for peace, harmony, love and the deep longing we have to connect and be part of something greater than ourselves. This is given voice to full effect through the union of each contributor to create a sound that covers with ease ages and continents to create something timeless and vital.

The album opens with 'Seraphim Tones' a combination of Business Class Refugee's warm orchestral rising and falling strings inflected with eastern progressions, jazz like beats and breaks and a slowed funkin bassline.
Add to the mix Shubha's lifting, stirring voice and the two dance and meld with each other in perfect harmony.
The track drops off to sparse strings and then Ursula's distinctive voice speaks of what could be someone waiting for an earth bound lover or something more metaphysical. The whole track works beautifully as an opening and lets you know what awaits.

From here it moves onto the playful 'Drunk in Love' where BCR's strings and accompanying electronics lift Shubha's song that celebrates love into a light footed dance.

The track A Stranger Here is the crux of the album and it is here that Ursula's words speak the language of the soul and its need to belong to something more than just the physical. 

"Nomad,Vagabond,Bedouin am I...Seeking spiritual domain
No home for me in the mundane, trivial pursuits...
In search of higher ground..."

This with Business Class's cascading strings bring the track to a rising and soaring finale.Powerful stuff!

On the tracks where just Shubha sings you are able to hear the interplay between her voice and the orchestration of BCR and you can hear just how highly skilled and musically attuned Patrick Sebag and Yotam Agam are in complementing and bringing out the best in her voice.

The underpinning of Business Class Refugees orchestral strings (from Trad Indian to more contemporary Penguin Cafe Orchestra-esque to even at one point 70's cop show theme!) really bring out the warm emotive spirit of this album. Add to this Shuhba Mudgal's beautiful and stirring voice and Ursula's visionary lyrical soul (as affecting as Gibran and Rumi at times) and you have an album that is an accomplished tour de force of genre, continent and time defying beauty. 

Reviewed by CKA John