Available at http://www.nerveecho.com/
Released in February, 2013, the debut studio LP by Tingle In The Netherlands has seen them steadily establish a rising loyalty from an extremely eclectic, worldwide web of an audience. Which is just as well, as theirs is a record that is unlikely to strike a chord with the mainstream. Even within the self-aggrandising “cool kids” who seek out alternative music with discerning taste, this is almost a record that dares to seek out it’s audience rather than the other way around.
This is intelligent, avant-electro-pop music that deliberately and wilfully challenges it’s audience in order to establish if they’re clever enough to understand what the mischievous Manchester duo are doing. Spoilers for this record came in 2010 in the form of their single “Prostitute’s Handbag” which was championed by Dandelion Radio’s Mark Whitby and made it into Dandelion’s Festive Fifty at number 11. With the couplet “Prostitute’s handbag, made in China, Prostitute’s handbag, bought with vagina”, it is perhaps surprising that they rarely actually contravene Offcom’s stringent rules, and testament to their clever use of language that they can be frequently potty-mouthed without using any “banned vocabulary”. But it probably shouldn’t surprise us, as the duo’s singer, Helen Tingle (nee Thomas) is a working, gigging poet (tricky work to get, by all accounts) and clearly relishes the use of words to steer a sometimes sordid, sometimes mundane, usually satirical, and always entertaining character portrait for the various protagonists of these songs. Owen Tingle (nee J) evidently shares Helen’s love of carefully chosen, barbed words, as is gleefully displayed in “Forest Of Cocks”, a spoken word delivery over a sparse electronic soundscape which sounds simultaneously retro and futuristic, and his delivery is reminiscent of a sordid Vivian Stanshall.
There are inevitable comparisons that will and, perhaps, should be made to various synth-pop pioneer acts from the (very) late seventies to the mid eighties, and there is evidently deliberate reference and respect for people such as Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, Vince Clarke, Soft Cell, etc, but that should not over-shadow the resultant implicit tone of post-punk. This is not kitsch, ironic music, even if the lyrics are dripping with irony. The music is seriously, and carefully crafted, and it raises the question of how humour fits into music. There seems to be three ways that music and humour work together. The first way is the comedy song. This is usually the marriage of humour and music that works the least effectively (eg, The Stonk Song by Hale & Pace). Then there is the serious song with humour in the lyrics (eg, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths). Then there is a song that is deliberately crafted to be great music and cleverly witty lyrics. An example of that might be found in Alien Sex Fiend’s “Doing Time In A Maximum Security Twilight Home”. This is quite similar to the tone achieved by Tingle In The Netherlands here. It is irreverent, satirical, post-punk music and the delivery of stark, spacious electronica with a deadpan vocal delivery similar to Dubstar helps evoke the industrial Manchester scenery, and Factory records history that created the context from which Tingle In The Netherlands was born, and convincingly continues the post-punk electronica and avoids simply paying homage.
Not everybody is going to like it. Not everybody will be able to understand what they have done. But for Helen and Owen, this is an LP they can feel proud of, and trust the audience they have and will establish to be intelligent to move, laugh, think, theorise, and politicise with them.
I realise that I have, of late, neglected my blog and to my readers this will have been a bone of contention. For this, I apologise to both of you. I have been keeping busy, as the automatic updates from various Soundcloud accounts will verify. They only give half the picture.
I released an electronic-ish LP in May, and it started out as a strange, extended exercise partly set to challenge my “craftsmanship” and partly on whimsy. On my LP previous, “Mister and Missis L. T. Wye, Esquire” (http://ianthistlethwaite.bandcamp.com/album/mister-and-missis-l-t-wye-esquire) I had included a track which had been largely comprised of “Dementio Loops”, which are a series of loops and samples that my friend, Paul Foster (known to IDM fans as “Dementio13”) has left up and available on Soundcloud for people to use as and when they wish. the result was a track entitled “Up In The Attic (Yeah, Yeah)” which is a startlingly honest account of how I keep cassettes in my attic (blimey, that was a mighty anti-climax of a sentence).
At the start of the new year, I decided that I would release an LP that was entirely comprised of songs that were initially started with the use/misuse of at least one dementio-loop. I chatted with Paul and asked if he’d mind me doing this. He said he didn’t mind but asked if I’d acknowledge the source of loops. I was, naturally, delighted and felt it was only fair. After all, by using his fancy techno sounds, I might sound like I had beter equipment than my usual rig of a fiddle, a wax-cylinder, and an etch-a-sketch. I intended to use the impetus of the loop to add on my usual folky fiddly diddly bits and had decided that the result would be a sort of “Radiophonic Folk Music”.
Between January and May, my vision had become a little more synthy than I’d anticipated, and I had started using actual computer software and everything courtesy of one of my guitar students (I’m not entirely convinced the software was obtained through the appropriate channels, ahem). The result was an LP called “Tote’s Amaze Balls” (http://ianthistlethwaite.bandcamp.com/album/totes-amaze-balls) and I’m ashamed to say that I failed to create what I imagined radiophonic folk would sound like. I also failed to use a dementio loop as often as I’d intended.
Almost immediately, I set to work on re-assessing what radiophonic folk was, which is a tricky dilemma centred around the fact that, like most tags and genres, it is clearly gibberish. However, I set to re-dress the aural balance and, by June, had managed to create a mini-LP of instrumentals, with the loose brief that they should each be suitable for the bit on BBC’s “Playschool” when they went through the round window and showed you footage of a crisp factory. The result was “Mocking Tudors, Not Turtles” (http://ianthistlethwaite.bandcamp.com/album/mocking-tudors-not-turtles).
Amidst all of this, I have a cover version of “Beyond All Reasonable Doubt” featuring on “Modular Pursuits”, a collection of Pulco songs covered by various artists in celebration of Ash Cooke’s 10th anniversary producing great music as the solo artist “Pulco” (http://pulco.bandcamp.com/track/beyond-all-reasonable-doubt-2).
I have also been working with Terry Bergin (aka FK:Dup) in the steady, but, at the moment, slow completion of our first band long-player as “Contranym”. It is going to be a shockingly good record when it gets finished, I promise!
Also, last week saw the release of the charity compilation of collaborations and/or cover versions of largely unknown musicians by a collective of the same unknown musicians, which I helped put together (I curated) in aid of Epilepsy Action. The result is this download, which is available as a free download but we’d ask you to consider a donation to Epilepsy Action by way of gratitude. They do fantastic work supporting people with epilepsy throughout the UK and educating people and funding research about this much misunderstood condition. http://rashrecords.co.uk/album/the-musicians-musician. It includes fantastic stuff, such as me doing a cover of Dementio13, Dementio13 doing a cover of me, me doing a cover of Picturebox, Picturebox doing a cover of Pulco, Pulco doing a cover of me. Actually, it sounds a little incestuous when I say it like that. But the music really is terrify and , if you scroll down, you’ll see the link to donate directly to Epilepsy Action. Should take you to http://www.epilepsy.org..uk/donate.
Before I stop, I’ll just let you know that I’m going to feature on James Crowther’s brilliant radio podcast on Friday 9th August (http://www.loveyourdoorstep.co.uk/love-your-doorstep-radio) and you can hear my music on Mark Whitby’s highly eclectic show all through August on Dandelion Radio, the radio station named after John Peel’s record label, that continues Peel’s ethos for promoting and highlighting new and interesting music (http://www.dandelionradio.com).
And that’s all the news. Now, where’s the bloody weatherman?