Monday, February 11, 2008

Editors - The Racing Rats (vinyl rip + art post)






I


Apologies if my posting a lot of vinyl releases is taking away too much of this blog's focus on, er, mid-90s hardcore and post-hardcore that I heard a decade too late. But I think my nostalgic and not-so-nostalgic purchases still kind of link up with that whole line of music.

I think it's good also to take some of the focus off American rock bands and show some stuff more related to what's happening over here. Which is, mostly, a continued explosion of sloppy post-pop-punk or, as Jeffen from music ruined my life explains it, "The British need to crank out a recycled guitar-bass-drums pop band every fifteen minutes to keep the boys in the press happy". I'm looking at you, Arctic Monkeys, Pigeon Detectives, et al - plenty of bands with plenty of good points, but all together way too, uh, plentiful. (That said, their pressure on the airwaves seems to have reduced somewhat recently, thanks to sloppy Irish post-pop-punk - way to go Ham Sandwich!). Anyway, there are a few notable bands with a bit of class, like these chaps, Editors.

(Apologies, also, if the pictures slow your browser - I try to keep the self-serving, pretentious scans to a minimum but at the same time, I do need to show the full set.)

But if you're still looking for something more punk, check out this (coincidentally British) guy's blog, The Poet You Never Were, for lots of "emo, screamo, d-beat, emo-violence, post-hardcore", mostly on vinyl - and also check out a new, again also UK, blog, See the sticks you've thrown.



II


the sounds



The Racing Rats


Part 1: (Limited Edition Numbered Red Vinyl) Kitchenware Records SKX97, 2007.

Part 2: Kitchenware Records SKX972, 2007.


A 01 - 'The Racing Rats' (Live)

B 02 - 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' (Live Demo)

A 03 - 'The Racing Rats' (Original Demo)

B 04 - 'A Thousand Pieces'


Download


'The Racing Rats' is the third single from the Editor's An End Has A Start and is quite similar to 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors': slow, heavy rhythm alternating with frantic, high-pitched guitar. It's a good song, very effective and even a little dancey in parts. And it's got that one line that sounds really profound even when you haven't worked out what it means yet, 'If a plane were to fall from the sky/How big a hole would it leave/In the surface of the earth?'

'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' works very well as a live recording, too. Here the crystalline guitar is heard less flawlessly than on the album or single recording, which even gives it more feeling. Obviously 'The Racing Rats' and 'Smoking Outside The Hospital Doors' make a good pairing. Both the live recordings are of very good quality and any differences only add to the feel of the songs.

Conversely, the sparse sound of the demo 'Racing Rats', consists mainly (but not, I think, entirely) the vocals and piano of lead singer Tom Smith. Somehow, hearing the song devoid of the trademark post-punk revival guitar sound of Editors heightens the intensity of the rhythm and the lyrics. Sparser, but barely less accomplished than the full track.

Finally, the b-side 'A Thousand Pieces' is a little post-punk gem, a kind of simpler song but no less emotive ('Imagine how a father feels/to witness his son in a fight/London hides her starry night/she covers them all up with light'). Same, but different, kind of guitar riff and this kind of sense of joyous, slightly bittersweet movement throughout the song. In it you can hear strong echoes of the Smiths or even the Clash, mixed with Editor's unsuppressable brand of soaring indie rock.



III


the art





A large part of my fascination with Editors has to do with their artwork, all of which surrounding the album An End Has A Start is done by one man, artist Idris Khan. The pictures above are to show that the quality extends beyond the vinyl releases: the CD of An End Has A Start comes in a stiff (non-standard size) booklet, with silvered lettering on the back and a suede-like material on the front (hence the finger smudges) and the disc itself in a separate wax-paper sleeve. I suppose overall it's a little pretentious, but hey, this is an art-school band after all and it's gratifying to see some thought going to rewarding the consumer's purchase of their physical product.


Regardless of what you may think of the music, I'd be interested to know how the Editors aesthetic comes across, because I know there are quite a few people who read the blog with a background in art and design:


1978 born Birmingham, lives and works in London

Khan creates multi-layered photographs, often of appropriated art and books, in a way that both augments the aura of the original and reveals the idiosyncratic trace of his own hand. Khan's work explores the history of photography and literature, the beauty of repetition and the anxieties of authorship. "it's obviously not about re-photographing the photographs to make exact copies, but to intervene and bring a spectrum of feelings - warmth, humour, anxiety - to what might otherwise be considered cool aloof image. You can see the illusion of my hand in the layering. It looks like a drawing. It's not systematic or uniform. The opacity of every layer is a different fallible, human decision".

(Idris Khan at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London)




every... Bernd & Hilla Becher Spherical Type Gasholder, 2004

(Lamda digital C print mounted on aluminium)

The architectural works are a common theme of Editors covers, and like I said before they reflect well the kind of music and especially the post-punk aesthetic: industrial, structural, yet quintessentially historic and British. This one is not on any Editors release that I know of, and indeed it looks slightly different - colder somehow, more painterly.



every... page of the Holy Koran, 2004

(Lamda digital C print mounted on aluminium)

Probably sacrilegious, but fascinating all the same and definitely introduces the ghostly aspect of these layered images, kind of like an X-ray with the stark whiteness and shaded blurs, each character multiplied hundreds (thousands?) of times.


every... William Turner postcard from Tate Britain, 2004

(Lamda digital C print mounted on aluminium)

Sheer Britishness again, and probable effrontery to an artistic institution. Turner's watercolours are themselves simultaneously vague and blurred and packed full of detail and layered meaning: interestingly, it seems to me that the piece as a whole is most evocative of his best known work, The Fighting Téméraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up.





Struggling to Hear....After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas, 2005

(Lamda digital C print mounted on aluminium)

Another textual piece, but appropriately musical. Each note layered until so obscured as to seem deliberately erased...


6 comments:

blend77 said...

Oh yeah, Editors. I havent listened to this one yet. But I somewhat enjoyed their last one. The good songs were great.

I strongly urge you to pick up Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol. It sounded like you may not have been familiar with it, other than a few songs... It's one of the best albums I've heard... along with a few hundred others. ^_^

gabbagabbahey said...

Are you talking about albums? I get what you're saying about the good songs being great. I know it's not the usual meaning of a 'singles band' but I'm not that used to picking up albums were I've heard the best songs many times already on the radio (until recently I tended not to buy much new music)... and the unfamiliar songs seem to pass me by.

Both The Back Room and An End Has A Start are good albums though; the first pretty much has an underdeveloped sound of the second.

I'll check out that Interpol album you mention. I very much like their sound too, so thanks for telling me where to start!

Anyway, I've got another version of 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' to put up - the b-side has choral singing. Choral singing!

josephlovesit said...

Did you spot this post on Sleevage? It's so similar to this one

gabbagabbahey said...

I just saw it now, thanks for telling me. Very interesting, I like the description of it as "zen type of image".

I sent them a mail just now, too. I came across Sleevage before, when I was looking for a picture of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Show Your Bones cover; still haven't photographed my LP version (with no text)

Anonymous said...

This is a comment on the artwork, I am in my last year of a photography degree and have researched the artist Idris Khan, I am a great admirer of his work and would just like say to any other arty peeps look up Bernd and Hilla Becher, Michael Wesely and Michael Najjar! Thanks for reading.

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