Latest release NICE005(again)

 



Label scribe VH Monks gives a breakdown on the latest label release Chris Riley's expanded re-issue of his debut EP.

Cloudwalking in the Concrete World (again) (NICE005(again))

This EP was already described as perhaps the first NMR re-release when it

appeared under catalogue number NICE005 in 2019, being Riley’s first EP originally

recorded and released in 2004.

And here we are (again), as the repackaged is repackaged to welcome NICE005

(again), with Chris’ recent prolific endeavours under various guises this past couple

of years, stuck under the microscope of introspection to find from whence things not

only came, but also developed, with the addition to this compilation of demos, and

other songs that came about from one band or another in his everchanging musical

cycle since.

(excluding earlier metal up your ass thrashing period, granted)

The original EP covers the first half, 7 tracks starting with the almost epic Something Wonderful. An

acoustic rhythmic rollercoaster, which at a minute and a half kicks in

with these bright shiny kit beats that fall away to a hypnotising bass line drive, thanks

to the brothers Sinclair. Chris’ voice is plaintive and soulful. And then the flute from

Sarah Williams, this two-tone lifting and lighting. Melancholia in the sunshine.

Cabbage White is finger pickin’ good. Genuinely lovely, taking the bones of a

relationship and holding it up to the light. There’s no accompaniment, but it is scene

setting and dives deep. Despite the wintry lyrical surrounds, there is warmth from the

memory and rarity to the moments recalled.

The Fox is an effective number that runs with its hero, the chase amongst the chords

and jazzy bass funk pounding steadily, with groovy electric breakouts and explicit

vocal percussion, and gentle sighing da-da-do-dums bridging to the denouement.

After the chase, the rest. (breather) is a thing of absolute beauty, Nick Drake resting

on a cloud, nature’s behest. A tender interlude, an instrumental haven that slows

your heart and sharpens your mind. The flute brings flashes of brighter rays through

autumn trees in the second half, washing in tandem with Chris’ magical guitar flurry

of falling leaves.

The essence of pagan mystery stirs in The Moon Tune, lines lifted from the Book of

Ruth. Another number with the full rhythm section behind him, and it’s pretty vibrant

with a lot working through its short running time – musical countdown trend as guitar

and bass ring; lilting, longing vocals; shuffling kit percussion; elegiac solo bursting

sprightly; medieval close…

This was originally conceived for his earlier band Mock Fish, a version included as an

extra on this reissue, recorded about a year before. Production maybe sounds

warmer, but the EP version seems more fully realised (as well as carrying an extra

The).

Chris has penned a few modern lullabies, Monday's Song perhaps the first, unfurling

like the day itself. This gentle plucked refrain opens as frets sigh, a reluctant

contentment, his voice joining in a reflective vein, perfectly fitting the solitude, of this

paradoxical coupling. The mouth organ slides from this soulful rebirth, spotlighting

empirically the songman, alone on stage, rested in the comfort of his music as mate

and sinner.


Summer Sun has buoyancy in the strings and a cracking turn of lyrical phrase (“an

overcoat and it’s made out of laughter”). This EP closer shuffles with the blues from

the shadows, sings of hope and learning, comes with bongo percussion that sits

entirely right, proving the instrumental breakaways well composed and thoroughly

joyous.

These final couple of tracks have their demos included on this expanded edition,

which prove beyond any further shadows that even without the polish and pace of a

studio, the songs meld beautifully in voice and melodies and music; feelings and

chords chime sublime to a sweet perfection.

The other demo featuring here is Precious Touch, equally more playful and sombre

than the Cloudwalking material. It eventually appeared on Riley’s 2009 EP Moments

Stolen Back, a bluesy torch paper wake up song, certainly nudging you to check out

NICE001.

Of the 3 other ‘new’ songs creating the backbone to These Riley Musical Adventures:

The Mandalas were a 2005 outfit featuring Chris, Peter Dinsdale (bass, now with The

False Poets), Iain Davidson (guitar) and Marty Wilkinson (drums). Ode to Bill is a

Neil Youngesque kicker, remembering Hicks. It’s both a heartfelt lament and

ferocious lambast, which very much could have been written today.

Waiting on a Smile is a smoother, more charmed piece, sent on the Captain’s

Moonbeams, exploring the versatility and ideas and range of Riley. It’s sweet,

gentle, elegiac, with a Pearl Jam solo salute.

When Iain left the three became Justroy, and included here is a shaken up Show Me The Way, recorded

later in 2005. A short, punchy sing-a-long, the sparky

rejuvenating lead revolts against this lethargic senseless quagmire we endure. One

of the earliest written in 1997, just after those metal days.

First and foremost, it’s a record about relationships really – with people, with nature,

with yourself – and communicating with each other and inbetween. Which isn’t a bad

place to start.

VH Monks – October 2021

NICE022 WhiteVanPeril - Kings Meadow

 



Nice Mind Records are proud to release the psychogeographic soundscape from WhiteVan Peril, Kings Meadow.

Label scribe VH Monks assesses the label's latest release below:

whitevanperil
Kings Meadow (Nice Mind Records, NICE022)

The spiritual follow-up to The Black Middens, which started a series of soundscapes and
organic recordings telling the stories of historic geographical black holes in the North
East. wvp welcomes you to Dunstan in the 19th century with a 2-hour experimentalist
odyssey sound balm. 2 tracks, 2 sides. An action, a consequence. 25 years. 30 acres of
grassland. An island, a landmass in the Tyne. An interruption for the Industrial
Devolution.

The Dredging of Kings Meadow brings the sound of the machines, the monotony of
destruction, taken from the live recordings of the industrial factories sounds
surrounding the area from whence Kings Meadow rose. There are chimes, pitched to an
eternal grind. And then glacial choirs glean from the blades, a somewhat heavenly
dissolution. Through the mist you can feel it pushing away, a single synthesised chord
hardened and cheapened by the progress of capitalism. Are you in the river? Can you
feel it? Are those voices? A call of last orders from The Countess? Be gone. Believe.
Between. Betrayed. This aural magnitude is not confused, it’s distilled and focused,
audible history transcribed and brought back to life, to matter. It’s a happy swoon of
dissident prayer. It’s a heaving calm decimation. There are sighs where there were
screams. The slurry of water lapping against the buzz of treachery and disappointment.
There was heartache in their contentment. No platitude of serenity in the bog, the
degradation and rapid erosion of community. Burying into time, digging tunnels of
doom into the past, the sludge through dark eternity. Styx for Tyne. An orderly
bombardment of excavational tutorage. Inhuman escape from an infinity of ghostly
entanglement. Can you see those arms reaching out? To hold you? To grab you? To
reason with you? To ask you why? It is a cruel indictment of progress that while the
future looks to send people away from the Earth, into space, away from lives that need
us, burrowing into the heart of our past leads us to the centre of the Earth, to the
darkness of turning our backs. The bells of distress ring out in fractious rhyme to the
bedevilment of ineptitude. The sounds are a siphon to excruciating exorcistic creative
chaos, crescendos of explicit clarifications to insanity, the embalmment of an island, the
entrapment of a crushing and tireless monster. Man. Pushing, pushing. Marginalised
as ground disappears, as territory degrades, as the pathos dims and humanity is poked
to a residual slurry. Sinking, thinking. A grinding mirage cocoons and loops, forcing
back nature until it squeals at its slaughter. No barricades, just a trundling, evocation of
distress and vulgar destruction. By the final quarter of the opening hour’s foray, it’s like
a million rats are devouring, scurrying; bats nibbling and entwined in hair. The screech
of feedback and worry claws back through years and exacerbates an infection to
malignancy. It starts hypnotic, it ends repellent. The causeway malnutrition and the
mind in turmoil. Then the pressure drops. The floor falls away, freefall, water rushing
around you, filling your ears, stinging your eyes. Is it over? Is it gone? Is it safe? The
spirits haven’t left. But they have shown you. You have heard. The dredging. An
expedition of omission. And so another crate and another you keep moving keep
coming. A belligerent manifestation of a Northumberland cascade, its sheer aural cliffs,
in culmination a jagged clash of discordant chords and sequences and squall molasses,
congealing in retrospect to a mass of hypnotic steel sound walls. The last is a twisting,
atrophied triage of carnage, looming over and within. Taking over the space created,
punishing and rejecting like an asylum of reverberating panic, the looped echo to a fuzz
fade of consequence……

Then a delicate delusion, a continuing tone dropped and hanging, tinkling spattering
diamonds falling to the uplift, cowbells haunting. Organic notes spilt and spreading,
lighter and spatial, clean air, clean notes, holding gently until the next overlay. There is a
magical intensity to the ambient decay, an unexpected relaxation drone dome. The
rotting lament previously endured rests, Echoes Flowing is the aura-physical
aftermath. The stars are bright and clear above an expanse of freely moving water, the
land now lost, not recoverable, non-existent, a shining shimmer of gold, of never was.
The stars reflect on a space it has never seen before, 15 football pitches of moving ennui.
You could float here, you can hear the cattle, in the calm and susceptible motion.
Crystals grow on the banks, glowing ember hues in a tremulous reaction to the days of
the heartless barges. It is a cheerless heart-warming lament. The layers of story in
industrial monochrome that went, now replaced by the sedent marches of fireflies and
steamboats. Missed are the cannons and regatta, the church bells and horses.
Stretching and stretched the release from the daggers and island’s culling, in its own
relief. The notes that hold, flex and wave, and magnetic conditioning, a buoyant
hollowed out tenure. It’s the River Tone. There are lilting messages sent downstream,
flowing intrusions that radiate from stalactites with glitter foundations, a poignant
reprieve to the disquiet displaced. The pith, the essence, the hauntings, arriving in the
closing 10. Desolate banshees squeal in the distance, spiralling from the depths beneath
the waves, calling up to those reflections on the surface of those stars that exploded so
many years ago. Two senses colliding over elements that no longer exist. Those bats
nibbling at the toes of extinction. To the depths. Into space. Forever harrying mankind,
livelihoods, communities, with self-inflicted wounds.

This isn’t ABBA’s voyage. But it is a journey. You discover. You itch. You scratch. Your
ears bleed. You learn.

VH Monks – September 2021

WhiteVanPeril talks with NARC Magazine on the inspiration behind Kings Meadow here.

NICE021 The False Poets - Strange Season Out July 2nd 2021


The next label release is NICE021 The False Poets second album Strange Season. 13 original tracks from the band. The album is available to download and stream from nicemindrecords.bandcamp.com where you will also be able to purchase a limited edition CD from. 

The album is available from Apple Music here.

Read a review by The Rocking Magpie here!

And here is our very own label scribe VH Monks with his write-up of the album:

An album from lockdown, a socially distanced musical jigsaw, partly recorded during moments of eased restrictions, or simply from wherever the band members (Riley – vocals & guitars & other noises, Caroll – drums, Dinsdale – bass) found themselves disbursed.  Strands while stranded, pieced and joined.

 The album’s title is drawn from the Alfred Austin poem A Winter Rose, although that song was written before it was found.  Despite Poet Laureate status, whilst most of the poem doesn’t lend much outside of twee and a p(r)etty loneliness, the phrase ‘Strange Season’ seemed apt and fit to tell.

 We jump straight into a land of runaway riffs with Read the Sky, and like so many of the tracks there is a jangly, upbeat immediacy snapping hold of your senses, its rolling in the sun verse-chorus combo never letting up.  The bounce of tremolo embodies the relief of music, the solace of melody, the peace of song, which the track espouses.  Lead single Glissando too gives good rhythm, rugged and pulsing and primed throughout, the sparkling sliding scale of Riley’s guitar a shimmering reflection over a broken mirage.

Previously an exclusive ‘backed with’ track, elevated to album status, Drama Queen is a sub 120 second romp of skip smooth garage n blues, screaming fun through every one of those seconds. Stupid Thing too, its loose boogaloo starting as a crawling living unfurling ball of suspense, with Carroll’s lead weight beats somehow flying skywards, ratcheting into a rock n rhythm tribute riven with nonsense nursery rhyme and retribution to critics and enticement to live.  Full of fun and then slinking away. Bo Diddly is a Poet makes a trio of this sense of mischief and musical amusement, a blues strum pastiche led by – what else? – the rolling rhythm of Bo’s Beat, as thigh slapping and chest beating as when Holly and Eddy and Otis paid homage.  A throwback indeed, but something wonderful that such musical history can still repay, refuel and rejoice… imagine a more modern technical refrain nowadays, usually impotent before it enters whatever passes for a chart.

There is a certain brightness on much the record, songs which have stared at the sun too long, and provide regeneration from the band’s own history .  How Many Days sees Poets’ writer Riley ransacking his solo cannon for an inspirational revamp, a lovely contrast to its origination, a happy, countrified, electrified take on lost love.  Still managing not to make this a sticky sweet dive into a pot of honey, while heartfelt and lonely, musically it comes together like a group of friends, recollecting in tribute, a dance, a hop, a groove, a bop.  Sunburst too, a slingback western tinged with joy, shiny and shivery fills as lines end, and kit rolls which delight like butterflies dancing on helium.  The verses shimmy on melting ice but the solos keep things warm and lively.

Moonstruck offers a chiming tone, downbeat and surly, burning a sombre hole and twirling spiral to the centre of the record.  A story of hesitancy, of perhaps the state we’ve been living in lately, paranoia and fear and isolation.  Dinsdale’s bass line is a calm gloom, bringing the perfect sense of something looming that could be evil or… a quest for liberty in a modern medieval twisted tale? A Winter Rose is the other to bring a slower scaled, twist and turn key changing reverie, again of a time that feels a little unsure of itself.  Half a yearning and never coming to terms tale, the other a morose instrumental of soft drama and lachrymose… 

Another plight comes in Tillie’s Blues, where everything dances from the elastic band strum jerks to limerick like wrapped vocals, the solo tight to the fret and the only restrained part of this slack and illogically breathless trip.  It reels out with an hypersonic door closing, lending a spacey out of place departure from Tillie’s world.

Much of the album spends time looking over its shoulder – in love, in fear, at people, places and times.  But not (despite its title) one of the album highlights, From the Past, which hurtles from the imaginary gates of the illusory vinyl’s second side very much facing forwards, an attempt to disentangle in jangles the wiry circus of emotions we drag around everyday. The opening chords slam over a motivational guitar riff of encouragement, the last remnants of memory and doubt trying to hold the shake off back, before the traps are opened.  It’s a rush, a disbelieving lunge towards a changing future.  The vibrating and hanging, dislocated mirage close offers the choice, not the conclusion.

A jagged, ragged, tearaway, dirty nosed and bloody fisted invitation to freedom comes with In the Air, unfurling triggers to step into the light, to celebrate a moment rather than the anchoring and cumulative nature of time’s drag and disposition, an atmosphere caught earlier with Glissando too.

Dead Man Shoes closes the album’s door, with big rafts of mood and attitude tethered.  With the lowest word:time ratio, it’s a veritable epic band jam of acoustic mementos, bass mood lines team tagging electric slick licks and slacker picks and sullen tricks.  The first segment warms the hungover cowboy and throws him on his horse in the burning high noon sun, the latter seeing him slicker, on point, six shooter straight to target.  Live, this could spiral into a sprawling mesmeric blast of free form magic, and you’re left ever hopeful for when bands can take to the stage again, in the hot crowded environs of hazy blistering musical entrancement.

Across the album, every space is filled with a riff or solo or flurry of notes, but far from not allowing the songs to breathe, this packed like sardines levity brings a never-ending romp through a boundaryless musical maze.  Find your way through or get lost for a while, either way this is a creative, earworm wending blast to finally hear.

VH Monks – June 2021


The album is available on CD, download and streaming at nicemindrecords.bampcamp.com

For Spotify users, the band's profile is here

NICE019 The False Poets - Glissando

 New release 05/02/2021

The single from The False Poets' forthcoming album Strange Season, it's Glissando.


Available from nicemindrecords.bandcamp.com Glissando is backed with another original False Poets song from the Strange Season sessions, Drama Queen, as well as a coruscating mix of the A-side by nebulous label-mates The Support Band.



Label scribe VH Monks writes:

"This first cut from the second album by The False Poets is a slice of western bagadashio. Slouch with a greased fret, it moves with gentle thrusts at an early 90s indie disco, pre-empting Tim Burgess’ falsetto by a few years while sliding down a Noelesque firepole when he was vibrant and relevant.


This isn’t to say The False Poets are burying themselves 30 years in the past (their natural garage golden nuggets reflex tendencies precede that by a further 30 years usually, so if anything they are comparatively bang up to date). Glissando is a fresh listen, searing into an ear worm of shrugging chorus (“put on a different face”) and looped hummable guitar line ingratiated with melody and swagger.


It stings from the off, that bounce and sling repeat settling into a casual louche rhythmic cool, standing tall in a glistening ball of betrayal turned to energy.  There is a literal titular reflection in the music, this dramatic surge pitching one note to another, and lyrically the rub of extravagance and decadence distending to any reprieve of lofty heights being the fall.


“You try to drag me down” prevails Chris Riley, frontman and sole guitarist this time round, pushing back until a crashed out fade is left to tumble and drift…


Shuffle and sling, Drama Queen comes in, an exclusive non album bonus, with its roots in the rhythm section pomp and pump to drive it, Peter Dinsdale and Ian Carroll on 4 strings and stool respectively.  A sub 2 minute dance floor filler, with persistent blues licks jumping around frets throughout, behind vocals to solos and back, it carries inverted nursery rhyme logic and classic hard done by heartbreak.


From baggy to R&B, The False Poets return with sounds of two era defining musical legacies remembered, revived and revigorated.  And the promise of more to come…"


NICE019 The False Poets - Glissando. Out Now on Nice Mind Records