By Kenny McMurtrie
Barcelona’s BCore finished off 2011 with too few releases to warrant writing them up but having begun 2012 with a more exciting set of albums now seems a good time to collect them together and pass comment.
Starting off then we’ll begin with Suzy & Los Quattro. Sadly the best thing about their Hank album is the band’s jokey name. Style-wise the quartet occupy sub-Blondie territory (Marina & The Diamonds are likely a fair current UK comparison). Mid-paced songs with no real edge, all rather safe and controlled. Next for your delectation comes Eh! with La Fase Del Sueño Intratable, one of those instrumental albums regularly described as soundtracks for unwritten films. Translating as something close to “intractable sleep phase” this collaboration between 11 members of various other Spanish groups sounds for the most part like Mogwai turning the distortion down and drafting in a string quartet and some brass to come up with the bastard child of Ennio Morricone and John Zorn. On reflection this is a lot better than remembered from listening to it pre-Xmas.
Changing the pace a tad October saw the release of possibly the best metal album I heard last year (and ok I heard very few) in the shape of Moksha’s Sang de Roure. Ten tracks sung in Catalan (which matters not a jot as it could be anything) they occupy the same musical territory that Max Cavalera generally prowls around – short, sharp and enjoyably brutal. The band’s name is apparently Sanskrit for liberation and there’s certainly enjoyment to be had in letting yourself get carried away to this album. At the other end of the spectrum Barcelona’s Oso released Sealand back in January. Now a quintet this English-sung album is a decent bet if you’re into the likes of Bon Iver or Sufjan Stevens. Personally I found it a bit of a wimpy drag of a record for the most part but the song ‘Barbazul’ is quite fun and ‘Mountains’ isn’t too bad with it’s Red Indian/martial drumming and slide guitar.
March 2012 saw a veritable flood of releases with three coming out around the middle of the month. Cuzo’s Alquimia Para Principiantes (Alchemy for Beginners), the group’s third album, is a pleasing blend of stoner rock, Krautrock and psychedelia in the vein of Goblin or Can. The title track is a solid six minutes of riff-based freakout but there are plenty of calmer, spacier parts throughout the other seven tunes to allow for moments of reflection. Post-punk gets a look-in next with Betunizer’s Boogalizer. Less hardcore than the trio’s debut album from a couple of years ago, this collection benefits from a looser though no less exuberant sound and the inclusion of a bit of funk in their expanded palate. Fugazi at their most urgent is a good touchstone, particulary on track three ‘Imagina que matas a Jota’ (Imagine killing Jack). Calming things down to the basics of a bloke and an acoustic guitar (give or take the odd tom tom etc.) Joan Colomo, a veteran of 20 or so years in the game, rounded off the month’s releases with the whimsical and summery Producto interior bruto Vol.2. The likes of Beck and Syd Barrett come to mind on the quirkier songs in this batch of 14 whilst in the bigger sound of ‘De luz y de color’ things lean more towards the likes of Edwyn Collins and on the effervescent ‘Ebri’ you can’t help but think of The Cardiacs.
Finally we round things off in April of this year with the debut album from Fanny Roz – Prend Son Souffle Et Saute!! Whilst not maybe a name that will escape jests in the UK, these 11 songs, billed as a trip through her life story to date, float between jazz and chanson in a pleasant enough manner and one can imagine her setting up shop in Edinburgh of an August to battle it out against the likes of Camille and others doing the burlesque/cocktail lounge/Weimar thing. At least her tunes are all her own.