Saturday, 4 April 2020

MUSIC REVIEW: New single by Scenius:Wild And Wooly


I recently reviewed the debut single from Scenius, namely “Glass Rain” – this single “Wild and Wooly” is the follow up. The band is essentially a collaboration between Steve Whitfield from Leeds and Fabrice Nau of Angers in France.

Their first single was quite a minimalistic track – some vintage synths with a modern mix and some really melancholy vocals from Nau. This single is quite different.

“Wild and Wooly” is much more complex, it retains that whole retro electronic feel which is clearly the bread and butter for these guys. It harps back to those days in the '80s where bands were producing this type of material week after week. I likened the last single to work from the Human League, here Nau’s vocal reminds me a lot of OMD’s Andy McCluskey which in my world is very high praise.

The track has many more layers than their first single but they have retained that element of likeable pop music that is required in this genre. “Wild and Wooly” has a distinctive melody that makes your mind drift into a different world – a world where you feel isolated but somehow in touch with your own emotions. It is very hard to describe that feeling but it makes you want to listen again and again – it is addictive.

A friend of mine asked me whether I enjoyed Scenius because I am a big fan of the electronic era of music. I thought long and hard before answering and there is an element of truth in that statement but there is more to this music than simply replicating that time in the '80s and the potential of where this can go is limitless.

If any of you read my review of “Glass Rain” then you will be aware that I loved it. The fact of the matter is that “Wild and Wooly” has moved Scenius to a new level already. I have heard that they are planning at least another single in the next few months and an album later this year. I can’t remember being this excited about a new band / project for many years and I urge everyone to check out Scenius as soon as they can – I sincerely hope that live dates follow when the world returns to normality and social gatherings are possible.

Reviewer - John Fish

NEWS: New single by Raines described as 'cinematic folk-infused pop'


Raynes is a transatlantic trio made up of two Americans and a Brit. Now based in Los Angeles, Mat Charley and Joe Berger, both born and raised in North Dakota, met UK native Mark Race through Instagram after an extensive search for the final piece of this project. The geographically unlikely three combine their unique and complementary strengths to form an artistically authentic band, integrating elements of modern pop with classically Americana instrumentation. Their ability to blend pianos and synths, pounding drums and sophisticated vocals, and string arrangements with acoustic guitars and mandolins results in an impactful, one-of-a-kind style.

Following the release of their debut single ‘Lemon Drop’ the trio are back with yet another banger. "Come My Way" is a simple and straightforward song narrating the desire and feelings you have towards a loved one. The band reveal, "There’s something of an 'us against the world' quality to it, naive and young and probably foolish, but motivated by nothing but love." Sonically, the song draws much of its inspiration from world music - taikos, toms and shakers blended with acoustic folk instruments. "We feel like the production and instrumentation is quintessentially us; from the mandolins and violins to the cinematic synths, harmonies and gang vocals, it basically has all our favorite sounds and sonic flavors packed into three minutes and eighteen seconds." admit the three-piece. 

Raynes' sound has been compared to the arena-filling choruses of Coldplay, the Americana instrumentation of Mumford and Sons and the harmonic complexity of the Beach Boys. Raynes call this inimitable fusion “expensive folk”––folk instrumentation which incorporates very obvious elements of pop production, ultimately creating a slicker and shinier sound than straight-down-the-middle folk. “Even with all of the more exotic or unusual components, it’s really just pop music at its core,” reveals the band. 

There are recurring lyrical motifs running through the music of Raynes––heads and hearts, blood and bones, sugar and salt, sun and rain, and wine and water, among many others. There are also a number of musical ideas and elements that repeat in many of their songs, such as atmospheric synth tones, violin and mandolin counterpoints, and world-inspired percussion. But there’s not really one thematic throughline other than “the human condition” and all that comes with it––longing, confusion, cowardice and despair, but also joy, hope, growth, and of course love. Some songs are inspired by Bible stories, Greek myths, or historical events, and some are more personal, direct, and intimate.

With a catalog of songs, ready to unveil one by one, Raynes continues to grace audiences with their robust folky foot-stompers, introspective ballads, and pure pop sugar.

LISTEN TO 'COME MY WAY' THROUGH THIS LINK: https://open.spotify.com/track/1PWeAuhQgeNAjyvZFpIShs?si=jTcc1zM9S1yVkB45EfRJwQ

NEWS: New video released for Swedish alt pop singer JANOS for his single "Sicky/Sticky"


Swedish born artist JANOS spends his time between the streets and pubs of Oslo and London. Fusing beautiful pop melodies, soulful vocals and explosive energy, the pop-punk soul artist delivers listeners with a fresh, contemporary sound. From fragile, heartfelt ballads to funky upbeat anthems, JANOS tells a story relating to the highs and lows of our generation.

JANOS’ message is one of strength and self-empowerment. After years of performing with other bands, the Swedish artist finally took the leap to go it alone, setting him free to create the music that is true to who he is. With the desire to mix organic sounds with elements of R&B, pop and rock, JANOS was able to create an entirely unique sound. Inspired by the likes of Daft Punk, Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, JANOS has crafted an infectious and dance-worthy sound, rich with colour and oozing with euphoric surges.

The musician starts 2020 off with a new release, incorporating elements of JANOS’ new found love for jazz and soul. The infectious ‘Sicky/Sticky’ which has been a huge crowd pleaser at live performances for it’s uplifting feel good vibe, is the first track to be recorded with a horn section. The big, bold brass sound, along with soulful vocals and funky guitars, creates the ultimate groove-fuelled track. ‘Sicky/Sticky’ narrates trying to hide from your worries with drugs and alcohol, while still hoping it's not too late to reach your dreams.

JANOS has been applauded by fans and critics across the globe, receiving notoriety from prestigious publications and renowned radio stations including the BBC. 2020 is set to be an exciting year for this artist on the rise.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: https://youtu.be/PglEIiy2b8A

NEWS: Hit play 'Amsterdam' to be available to watch free online.



The Orange Tree Theatre announces the return of the play Amsterdam – free to watch online.

·        
          Maya Arad Yasur’s prize-winning play Amsterdam directed by Matthew Xia will be available for free from tonight (27 March) at 7.30pm for a limited time through OT on Screen. This co-production with Actors Touring Company and Theatre Royal Plymouth was filmed live at the OT last autumn and had just commenced a national tour, which has had to be cancelled. The capture was commissioned by The Space, supported by Arts Council England and produced by the Roundhouse. By relaunching the screening, the producers aim to reach the thousands of audiences across the country who have missed out on the live experience due to Covid-19.


·       Over the coming weeks, the best of our archive, with articles about past productions to read, interviews and insights to watch, and podcasts to listen to, will all be available on our website www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk and YouTube channel: .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zRfje16W7o&feature=youtu.be Additional content will be posted to the OT’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

·       We will also continue to be in regular contact with our community, including our Youth Theatre and Young Company and Over 60s groups who will be making work collaboratively online. The Orange Tree made the difficult but necessary decision to close for the foreseeable future on 16 March. The world has become an unpredictable place, yet we look to the future with the anticipation of welcoming audiences back to the theatre.

As an independent producing theatre, ticket income is crucial to the OT: in response to the crisis the theatre has launched a Survival Fund to secure its return. More information: www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk/support-us

In the week before closure, the OT was as busy as ever: Josh Azouz’s The Mikvah Project was playing on stage, our Shakespeare Up Close production of Romeo and Juliet was playing to thousands of secondary school students, Amsterdam was on tour, Bryony Lavery’s Last Easter in rehearsal, OT Young Company and five Youth Theatre groups were meeting to create and play, alongside the ever-lively discussion in the weekly Over 60s group, and much more. It was a typically prolific week for the independent producing powerhouse that is the Orange Tree Theatre.

Paul Miller said “Shutting the doors of our building to all the many artists and audiences that we bring together as the heart of our mission was devastating. That we have so much rich material from our archive to offer online is a source of enormous comfort. And to be able to make the marvellous and innovative Amsterdam available to all, including the many people prevented from seeing it on tour, is a joy. All at the OT have been profoundly moved by the love shown us by our audiences recently, especially those many who have volunteered to return previously booked tickets as a donation. By donating to our Survival Fund you too can help ensure our return. And return we will. Keep safe and well, and we will have some great theatre experiences ready for you in the unique theatre space you all love once we emerge from this temporary hibernation.”

WATCH AMSTERDAM BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zRfje16W7o&feature=youtu.be

Friday, 3 April 2020

NEWS: Greater Manchester Fringe postponed until the Autumn.


Greater Manchester Fringe is postponed until Autumn

                          We will return in October and November 2020

The 9th Greater Manchester Fringe that was scheduled to take place 1-31 July 2020 is being postponed until the autumn.

More than 200 shows were registered to take part in the grass roots arts festival at a wide variety of venues throughout the Greater Manchester area - and more than 70 shows were on sale.

GMFringe director Zena Barrie told acts: "Sorry for the delay in making a decision about this. There's been a lot of people and places and things to consider.

"The Fringe will NOT be taking place in July. Even if we are out of lockdown by then, I don't think people will be quite ready for sitting in busy sweaty rooms, so now you have some options to consider."

The Greater Manchester Fringe Redux will take place in October and November 2020 and some shows are already transferring to this festival.

The second option is for shows to postpone until Greater Manchester Fringe 1-31 July 2021, which will be a landmark GMFringe as it is the 10th birthday celebration.
Existing shows, and new shows, can register for both festivals via the Greater Manchester Fringe website and Eventotron.

Or shows that are already registered for 2020 can apply for a refund.

All tickets already bought for Greater Manchester Fringe shows in July 2020 are being refunded.
Greater Manchester Fringe is an open access festival that encourages both established and new writers, artists, performers and theatre companies to try out new ideas at a wide variety of venues throughout Greater Manchester. This includes standup comedy, sketch shows, drama, revivals, live music, musicals, magic, physical theatre, acrobatics, dance, clowns, children's shows, puppets, films, club nights, visual arts, photography, orchestras, choirs, talks, and even an interactive outdoors sleep installation. 
Past venues have included pubs, parks, libraries, cinemas, churches, arts centres, community theatres, night clubs, restaurants, converted mills, disused factories, the streets, an Air BnB flat, a campervan, a railway station, a tent, a thermos museum, the Pankhurst Centre and Stockport Hat Museum. 
Zena added: "We are always looking for new ideas and new venues. Greater Manchester Fringe will be back bigger and better than ever. But in the meantime stay home, protect the NHS, save lives, and bee creative! We are looking forward to seeing what you've made when we emerge from lockdown."
For more details visit www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk or contact Zena Barrie via gmfringe@gmail.com

THEATRE REVIEW: Gators by Philip Ridley - online live streaming


The world premiere production of a new Philip Ridley play, "The Beast Of Blue Yonder" was due to open at The Southwark Playhouse, but due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, this sadly has had to be, like all British theatre, put on hold for the time-being. However this did not deter Philip Ridley or the cast of the play; instead, they came upon a new idea, and a new World Premiere. The project is called "The  Beast Will Rise" and each Thursday evening a new monologue featuring one of the original cast will be live-streamed into our own living rooms. We are privvy to listening to and watching these delightful monologues in the comfort of our own homes.

This evening's broadcast sadly had to compete with the National Theatre's production of 'One Man, Two Guvnors', but I'll watch that tomorrow. Right now, I needed my fix of the bizarre and fantastic macabre world of Ridley's 'Gators', the first monologue in 'The Beast Will Rise' set.

This was the first time that Ridley has had any of his work premiered online, and indeed this is a completely new and original work, written only in the last weeks as a direct response to what is happening in our world currently.

Sitting on a sofa, drinking from a can, and looking directly at us, we were greeted with what has become an all-too-familiar sceanrio of these last couple of weeks... a Facetime / Skype / Zoom etc styled conversation with a friend or family member sitting in their home chatting to you as if we were in the same room together. She sits and starts to talk about the situation she and all of us find ourselves in... we are scared, staying in our own houses, because outside, out there, there are gators. In the old days, (her gran can remember), there were fields and flowers out there and people used to be able to walk around without fear. The gators stayed in the water and didn't bother us. But now, things are different. The gators are everywhere, and outside there are swamps and they don't just live in the swamps now but have taken over the human areas, and more devastatingly, have also started to "go sweet" on us humans too. If a gator goes sweet on you, then there is an unwritten protocol to follow.. rules.. which if broken, have untold consequences... and now the gators have grown huge, are outside the houses, and killing humans! It's the screenplay for a very bad horror B-movie, except it's not. This clever parallel to our own lives right now is clear, but it's also a fantasy and a captivating story too.

Sitting somewhere between Roald Dahl's Tales Of The Unexpected, Talking Heads and Jackanory, but taking the best of all three, the monologue lasted about 20 minutes, and was read and performed by Rachel Bright. Bright's lovely connection to the unseen audience was quite amazing, and her storytelling ability had made the hairs on the back of  my neck stand on end. Directed by Wiebke Green (the director of 'The Beast Of Blue Yonder') this monologue really took you into this young lady's 'everyday' world of scared citizens with ouzis killing gators and the gators taking revenge. It's bizarre and surreal, but it does serve as a very topical stark warning to our times, and is told by a talented actress with a chatty comfortable style, with a hint of menace perhaps, or even a hint of regret, but she most certainly draws you into her world and makes you feel rather uncomfortable (deliberately!). 

The next installment of 'The Beast Will Rise' will be live-streamed next Thursday at 7:30pm on the company's website... www.wearetramp.com.  I'll be there, and so should you!

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 2/3/20

MUSIC REVIEW: Soul Asylum: Hurry Up And Wait


Hurry Up & Wait (to be released on 17th April 2020 via Blue Elan records) is the twelfth album from US alt-rock band Soul Asylum and comes after a four-year gap following the release of their previous album Change Of Fortune in 2016. The band are best known for their Grammy Award-winning single ‘Runaway Train’ and its parent album, Grave Dancers Union from 1994. While the band may have commercially peaked during the grunge-era, their latest release proves that the band isn’t afraid to try and adapt their style to other forms of rock music.

The band, driven by sole original member Dave Pirner (rhythm guitar and vocals), have turned in a 13-track album filled with some solid rock songs. Album opener - the suitably named ‘The Beginning’ – boasts an uplifting chorus and some tight drumming from Michael Bland. The second track, ‘If I Told You,’ is the ‘focus single’ from the album and is an emotionally honest ballad which mines the similar emotional rock vein of ‘Runaway Train.’ The album really comes to life with its third song (and third single) ‘Got It Pretty Good’ which recalls a more ‘classic 1980's rock’ sound with its backing vocals and chugging guitar work. It’s the kind of song which fans of the band will latch on to and sounds like it could well become a live performance favourite.

‘Make Her Laugh’ follows the opening trio of songs and, perhaps more than ‘If I Told You’ recalls ‘Runaway Train’ with its jangling, Byrds-esque acoustic guitar before Priner’s vocals in the chorus combine with an electric guitar riff. ‘Busy Signals’ proves to be a more curious track – the vocal effect on the backing vocals during the chorus comes straight out of a nu-metal track from the early 2000’s while the verses and chorus build up sounds like it has time travelled straight from 1989. Bland’s drumming, once again, is on fine display on this song which is a nice bit of aural fun. Current single release ‘Social Butterfly’ is another soulful ballad which has some nice guitar work from Pirner and Ryan Smith on lead guitar.

‘Dead Letter’ is perhaps the best song on the album and certainly the most unusual of the thirteen songs. Chosen as the first single release, the song’s vocal and guitar melody is hugely reminiscent of the old British folk song ‘Scarborough Fair’ (best known in its most famous recording by Simon And Garfunkel). While the lyrics are melancholic and quite at odds at the lyrical content elsewhere on the album (such as the optimism of ‘The Beginning’), the tone is well matched by the musical content and the song leaves an impression long after the final chord has been played. The mood is swiftly uplifted by the next song, ‘Landmines.’ This track injects a feeling of ‘roll’ into the ‘rock’ of the band and has some great bass lines from bassist Winston Roye. ‘Here We Go’ is another soft rock ballad which serves as a palate cleanser before the more ‘hard rock’ orientated sound of ‘Freezer Burn’ which recalls Soul Asylum’s commercial peak. This could very well end up being a future single to promote the album after it is released.

‘Silent Treatment’ brings the tempo and mood of the album back down. It boasts a catchy soft rock chorus and will be another song which long-time fans of the band will connect with. ‘Hopped Up Feelin’’ is a fun blast of heavy guitar riffs from both Smith and Priner and is a very ‘out there’ almost trippy song for the band. Album closer, ‘Silly Things,’ returns the band back to what they are famous for – chiming acoustic guitars and soulful lyrics. It is a fine end to a strong album, although one can’t help but wonder whether ‘Dead Letter’ would have proven to be a more effective album closer (although it would end the album on a more sombre tone – while ‘Silly Things’ has an air of sadness and regret about it, the lyrics do have an optimistic tinge to them as Priner vows to come to terms with the ‘silly things’ he has done over the years).

While Hurry Up & Wait isn’t going to cause a seismic shift in the world of rock music, it is still an enjoyable ride featuring some great songs (Got It Pretty Good, Dead Letter, and Freezer Burn) and, in several of the songs, some much-needed optimism in these increasingly fraught times we find ourselves in. The production from the band and frequent production collaborator John Fields is crisp and clear and credit must go to Emily Lazar’s skilful mastering of the album which allows the production to shine through. The album is a worthy addition to the band’s discography and shows Soul Asylum to be in rude creative health, nearly four decades from their initial beginnings.

Reviewer - Andrew Marsden

NEWS: New album, 'Word Of The Day' by Mark Allen-Piccolo to be released 1 May.


                                                Mark Allen-Piccolo
                                                Word of The Day


                                                                             Release date: Friday, May 1st 2020

                                                                             Airplay Date: Friday, May 1st 2020


Mark Allen-Piccolo strives to make every song an adventure. With each new idea, a sonic journey awaits; one where he’ll discover new sonorities, new dissonances along the way. He often doesn’t know where his writing will lead, but every song has promise as a romantic journey of luscious chords and melodies—songs that are lush, dark, and moody, while never collapsing from the weight of their own angst.

His second album, Word of The Day, which follows his 2016 debut Left From Here is minimalist in approach: dense musical layers have been stripped away leaving sparseness and space; the lushness of each arrangement is supported by its enveloping quietness.  During the writing and recording of his new album Mark had started studying electrical engineering in Davis, California.  Most of the music was written during his 2 hour commute to campus. As he drove, he put his demos on repeat and would write lyrics and sing guitar parts, drum parts, and keyboard parts shaping the music as his personal soundtrack for the drive.  This gave the songs a sense of patience and breath that is often lost in our hectic daily lives.

Mark’s quietness is perhaps his most natural voice. With this album, he intended to fully embrace that side of himself. Instead of arranging songs with a band, as he had done in previous albums, Mark played shows solo or with one or two additional musicians. In doing so, he was able to sculpt the songs into a representation of that quiet side.  By breaking away from his traditional band approach he became influenced by artists such as Frank Ocean, and Panda Bear, while drawing from his rich musical background of composers such as Debussy, Takemitsu, and of course the Beatles and Beethoven.
 
Mark has worked with many artists as a studio musician and recording engineer, including Francis and the Lights, Tune-yards, Naytronix and Ben Goldberg. This experience has given him a comfort and confidence in the studio. He understands the limits of the studio as a production tool. At the same time, Mark—with the help of co-producer Nate Brenner of BotCave Records—has pushed his boundaries, exploring grittier sonorities: modulated drum machines, spitty synthesizers, and pitched up/down vocal processing.

As musicians get older, we must learn how to devote ourselves to art while at the same time living. Indeed, Mark has gone through many changes this year, having a daughter being the most monumental. It becomes necessary therefore to produce art in small steps: one album a year, one song a month, one melody a week, one word a day.

NEWS: Manchester band Ist Ist reschedule Uk tour for Autumn.

ist ist
RESCHEDULE UK DATES FOR AUTUMN 2020
DEBUT ALBUM:ARCHITECTURE
-  OUT 1 MAY 2020, VIA KIND VIOLENCE -

In light of recent events, Manchester four piece - ist ist - are rescheduling their upcoming UK dates for later in 2020.



The dates originally planned for this May, will instead take place in the Autumn. The new fixtures are as follows: 

AUTUMN UK TOUR
Fri 02/10/20 Manchester Academy 2
Sat 17/10/20 Bristol Louisiana
Wed 21/10/20 London Camden Assembly
Thu 22/10/20 Sheffield Record Junkee
Wed 28/10/20 Birmingham Dead Wax
Thu 29/10/20 Nottingham Bodega
Wed 04/11/20 Glasgow Broadcast


All original tickets remain valid.
Remaining tickets available from: http://www.ististmusic.com



The shows follow the release of the band’s highly anticipated debut album, ‘Architecture’, which will be released as-planned on 1st May 2020

The announcement today, also follows Tom Robinson spinning the recent single ‘You’re Mine’ on his BBC 6 Music show over the weekend.

Arguably one of the most uncompromising and idiosyncratic acts around, Manchester’s post-punk quartet ist ist have been carving their own niche since their inception just over six years ago. Refusing to bay to industry influence of any kind, the band have managed to forge a reputation for being driven and dogmatic, and in doing so have garnered a loyal cult following. Since 2014, the band have released a number of impressive singles and EPs completely independently and witnessed an unprecedented escalation through the ranks almost exclusively by word of mouth, selling out shows across the nation and playing capacious venues such as The O2 Ritz in Manchester.

In the run up to their debut album release, ist ist have been releasing a succession of singles and videos, with a difference... Breaking from convention to do things their way, the band will be releasing all 10 tracks set to feature on ‘Architecture’ as a means of episodically unfurling its singular narrative. Each track will be equipped with its own individual artwork and aesthetically stunning visuals. Fans can tune into the videos for ‘Wolves’, ‘You’re Mine’, ‘Black’, ‘Discipline’, plus the most recent addition ‘A New Love Song’ now. As the release of ‘Architecture’ dawns on 1st May 2020, followers of ist ist will find themselves rewarded with 10 tracks, 10 videos, 10 artworks, and 10 prints, each of which will provide a pillar of their remarkable debut album. Opening up about their single succession and the upcoming tour dates, ist ist’s Andy Keating says:

“We believe in the strength of every song on the record and wanted them all to have their time in the spotlight instead of following the tried and tested method of releasing a handful of singles then dropping the album. You only get your debut album once so we wanted to do something innovative. We can't wait for everyone to hear it and all being well, get out to tour it in October and November."


ist ist’s highly anticipated debut: ‘Architecture’ is the blueprint of what they have been working towards for so long, fully realised and meticulously constructed to towering effect. With lyrics shot-through with stark and striking imagery, underpinned by frontman Adam Houghton’s obsidian baritone, ‘Architecture’ invites the listener into a dystopian world of their designing. Drawing on themes of emotional turmoil, anxiousness and redemption, together the 10 songs of ‘Architecture’ map out the fragile construct that is the human mind. Thriving on a clash of loping basslines, hairpin-tight guitar riffs, and elegiac synthesisers, ‘Architecture’ sees ist ist deliver a work of artfully monochromatic and clinically executed post-punk. One of the year’s most anticipated debuts, it’s a fittingly breathtaking listen that promises to chill, evoke and enrapture in equal measure.

With a timely statement about the upcoming release of ‘Architecture’, bassist Andy Keating says: 

"We're really excited to release our debut album, even in such uncertain and testing times. It has been the culmination of five year’s hard work and we hope it can bring some light to the people who listen to it whilst the world is a strange place to be. The title 'Architecture' refers to the architecture of the mind and whilst it isn't a concept album, the lyrics explore emotional turmoil, anxiousness and redemption. It seems an appropriate topic in 2020 when the importance of mental health and mental well-being have never been more prevalent.”


ist ist will release ‘Architecture’ on 1st May 2020, via their own self-funded record label Kind Violence.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

MUSIC REVIEW: Scenius - Glass Rain



Scenius is a new project that involves Steve Whitfield from the band Klammer. I had the good fortune to review one of their singles last year and saw them live as a support act for Glen Matlock in Manchester. When I heard of Steve’s new project I could have been forgiven for thinking that it was a project along the same lines as Klammer, notably a post-punk sound with a modern twist. Nothing could actually be further from the truth, Scenius has a full on electronic sound with a touch of pop thrown in.

The band consists of Steve Whitfield based in Leeds and Fabrice Nau based in Angers in France – this collaboration is unexpected but it absolutely works based on this, their debut single, {their second single Wild And Woolly is due to be released tomorrow [Friday 3 April]} – “Glass Rain”.

The intro to the new track is interesting, I am going to describe it as catchy because that’s what it is but it has way more depth than that. It is definitely retro sounding, it harps back to work from Human League, New Order and Depeche Mode. The way it has been mixed makes it much more modern sounding than simply playing an old track from one of those bands – it lasts for just over 3.5 minutes and is compelling the whole way through. I played it on repeat whilst writing this review and found myself singing along and swaying after just a couple of plays which is a real compliment.

I suspect the target audience for this is probably someone of my age who can remember the electro revolution first time around but I could easily imagine this playing at a student party or club night and it would not feel out of place.

The vocal from Fabrice is superb, something that can get lost in this genre of music. However, he delivers this with just the right amount of emotion which in this case means that less is more. The vocal needs to sound almost robotic but human enough to deliver and Fabrice does this perfectly.

If this is the standard of what we can expect from Scenius then their popularity is going to grow significantly over the next few years. It is a brilliant start and I hope their next releases will live up to this one, but for now I suggest we all simply enjoy “Glass Rain” for what it is – a brilliantly catchy piece of electro pop that instantly makes you want to hit the repeat button again and again.

Reviewer - John Fish

MUSIC REVIEW: Seven Spies - Chameleon.


This might be an uncertain time for the Arts industry, but lots of creative things are happening in the background as we’re all staying safe at home. I have no doubt the industry will bounce back. Today, I’ve listened to Seven Spies’ debut single “Chameleon” – they are a band based in London. Comprised of three members who are childhood friends, Seven Spies aim to infiltrate the ears of the world.

Before the unprecedented times we’re in now, the band played gigs around London and on the UK music scene and I wish them every success going forward. David Blomiley sings vocals, plays the guitar and keyboard. Hitting the drums is Olly Brown. Playing the sonorous bass guitar is Sam Weston.

There is a lot riding on a debut track. You want to make it clear to the listener who you are as a band, what genre and style you play, and what lyrically do you write about. I think this song packed a punch. Within the familiar structure parts of verse, bridge, and chorus, there were other musical elements which they made their own. You could hear influences of Indie Rock, crossing into Electronic which drew on harsh, raucous, and provocative sounds. The musical texturing was noisy, busy, and thick for the most part. When the texture was thin or the composition became silent it was an effective momentary contrast before the music kicked back in again.

When you reflected on the lyrics, you could understand why the music sounded like it did. Lyrically, the song was about the pressures of life affecting a person. There was an all-encompassing theme of self-doubt and reference to the heterogeneous self. Which version of yourself do you present to the world; what mask do you wear in social situations? What inner demons do you try to hide? However, musically, I felt overall it was positive and liberating: sending the important message it is okay to let your guard down and show vulnerability. Consequently, I don’t think I got to experience those darker aspects to the song as much.

Blomiley’s singing voice is impressively unusual. His stratospheric vocals in the song showed off his range, colourful tone, and falsetto with added reverb. His harmonies like in the motif, “Oh, oh, oh” were nicely subtle. In complete contrast to the bold and distorted guitar sound effect creating this auditory shaking through my headphones. I picked up on a suaveness and underlying punk attitude to the track too.

In conclusion, this is a solid debut single from Seven Spies. It was dynamic, colourful, and multi-layered; as music leaped through your lug hole. No wonder they called it “Chameleon”. I’m sure this band aren’t afraid to show off their true colours.

Reviewer - Sam Lowe

NEWS: Lost In Translation Circus launch new interactive online circus skills classes for all.


Lost in Translation Circus launch Live and interactive circus classes for all    

While we are forced to spend almost all our time indoors in order to help us stay safe and healthy, many people are using the time to learn new skills. Now the trailblazing Oak Circus Centre along with internationally renowned Lost in Translation Circus are offering interactive online courses in circus skills that anyone can join in with.    

The live, interactive classes will be delivered by skilled professional teachers and performers from all over the world who are all members of Lost in Translation Circus Company. Participants can learn handstands and flexibility from an artist in Australia, flexibility and circus fitness from one in Ireland, juggling and manipulation from Canada or hula-hoop from Italy, as well as being taught by artists and tutors now resident in the UK. There are circus skills classes for children from 6 years old, young people and over 16s.    . 

They can almost all be undertaken without specialist equipment, just a clear carpeted or grassy area and some cushions. Fruit and wooden spoons are ideal for juggling as are rolled up socks. The only exception is hula-hoop but Oak bosses are looking into launching a lending library to provide participants who do not have access to a hoop with a sanitised one from The Oak. In the near future they plan to run equipment-making classes so anyone can learn how to make circus equipment to use at home.

All classes will be delivered via the Zoom platform. This allows for all participants to see each other and interact between themselves and the tutors, who will be able to give instructions and advice live and adapt classes to suit individual needs, unlike video tutorials. All will begin with full body warm up and conditioning exercises to aid with flexibility and alignment. 

Everything is designed to be self-contained and safe to do in your living room or garden (although juggling is best practised away from breakable objects!). Parents are given instructions and guidance in relation to the classes aimed at children.

The Oak and Lost in Translation co-director Massimilliano Rossetti said ‘We arrived back in the UK just after the lockdown was introduced, so the country seemed a very different to when we left for Australia in December after our Norwich Playhouse Christmas Shows. We had a whole programme of courses arranged at our base in Oak Street that obviously had to be postponed, so we came up with the idea of these online methods’.

Massimilliano’s co-director Annabel Carberry added ‘We want to share our joy of circus and generally try to help with fitness and health during this period of restricted physical exercises. By being online based hopefully we can reach people who may not have physically walked into The Oak. There will be provision in the classes for both beginners who are totally new to circus arts and those who wish to hone and extend existing skills.’ 

The Oak is run by the internationally renowned Lost in Translation Circus company who have just returned from a hugely successful run of their show Hotel Paradiso at Australia’s Adelaide fringe where they received standing ovations and 5 star reviews – but almost didn’t get back home! ‘We were literally on the second last flight back to the UK from Adelaide’ explained Massimilliano ‘Our original flight was cancelled and for a couple of days it was touch and go whether we would be able to get a flight at all due to the pandemic’.



The classes, which are currently scheduled to the end of April, can be booked via www.theoakcircuscentre.org and cost just £5 each on an individual basis so people can try them out with minimal commitment. Longer course discounts will be offered from the third week. When a booking is made participants will be sent a code and a link to Zoom (with a simple one-time registration for those who don’t have an existing account) and a code to join the class.

NEWS: Imitating The Dog to stream acclaimed production of 'Night Of The Living Dead' online

imitating the dog to stream online acclaimed production of Night of The Living Dead™ - Remix and selection of work from the last 20 years.

In response to the COVID -19 restrictions, imitating the dog, one of the UK’s most original and innovative theatre companies have announced that they will be providing online through their website to a selection of their work from the last 20 years. The series will start on Friday 3 April and will include the acclaimed Night of The Living Dead™ - Remix, a shot-for-shot stage recreation of George A. Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie, made in co-production with Leeds Playhouse – on Friday 17 April.

Every fortnight on Fridays for the foreseeable future the company will release the next in a selection from their theatre performances and sited work. Besides the aforementioned Night of the Living Dead™ - Remix (17 April), the works will include projection project Oh, The Night! (3 April), a strange and fantastical bedtime story; Arrivals and Departures (1 May), a Hull 2017 commission which looked at the city’s legacy of migration, the company’s theatre production 6 Degrees Below the Horizon (15 May) which is a macabre and playful tale involving sailors, pimps, barflies, chorus girls and nightclub singers; and Yorkshire Electric (29 May), a projection project using clips from the Yorkshire Film archive. Further productions will be announced through social media in the coming weeks.

Each production will remain on the website and can be viewed on a Pay-What-You-Like basis. The income from this will go into a development fund, for the company to support freelance artists and practitioners to create new work.

Simon Wainwright, Co-Artistic Director of imitating the dog said:
With the end of our own Night of The Living Dead™ - Remix  tour cancelled and so, so many events and performances now postponed we thought we'd make some of our past shows available for people to watch online. We're in a lucky position to have some fantastic recordings of past work, mostly filmed by our friends Shot by Sodium. It's obviously no substitute for the real thing but in these isolated days, and until we can get together in a room again, we hope these videos will provide joy, thinking and entertainment in equal measure.” 

imitating the dog have been making ground-breaking work for theatres and other spaces for more than 20 years. Their work, which fuses live performance with digital technology, has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in venues, outdoor festivals and events across the world. Past productions have included Hotel MethuselahA Farewell to ArmsHeart of Darkness and most recently Night of the Living Dead™️ - RemixTheir sited work has included commissions for Hull City of Culture 2017 and light festivals across the UK.

For more information and to watch productions from Friday 3 April visit http://www.imitatingthedog.co.uk/watch/