Sunday, 20 April 2003

New Order's cover of Vietnam

You can hear streaming New Order's cover of Jimmy Cliff's Vietnam, included on the forthcoming benefit album Hope of the War Child series, and other tracks of the compilation on the site dedicated to the release: .

Tuesday, 8 April 2003

Gabrielles Wish - Portal

A review written in April 2003, six months before doing the first fan site dedicated to GabriellesWish which will evolve into their new official site.

This band has been circulating for, like, ten years or something. The first time I became aware of them was at New Order's comeback concert at the Apollo in Manchester in 1998. The support bands were Doves (formerly known as alternative dance act Sub Sub), at their debut as an indie rock band with that name, and Gabrielle's Wish.
New Order's bassist Peter Hook told me before the concert they were bands from their manager Rob Gretton's label, Manchester Records (formerly known as Robsercords, home also of A Certain Ratio in the 90s). And it was Rob who made New Order speak to each other again after five years. One year later he died of a hear attack. We won't ever be grateful enough to his memory for what he did just before reaching Ian Curtis and Martin Hannett. It's not weird this album is dedicated to him on the back cover.
When Gabrielle's Wish opened the gig I was instantly blown away by their impact. They were amazing, an explosive mix of Joy Division, The Fall, Section 25 and Nine Inch Nails, attacking the audience with emotive, violent and powerful music. Music which was the very essence of Manchester to me, the perfect soundtrack to the Apollo Theatre's spooky surroundings, big empty buildings, shut down shops which still had their final sale banners on the window after years and years, a ghost suburb.
The day after I immediately run into the record shop to buy their EPs on Manchester Records, two releases of the year before which put together could as well be their first album, with eleven tracks (plus a hidden one). They wanted to satisfy the customers including many extra tracks and ended making a debut album almost without noticing it. And what an album... everything I expected from the gig and more...
Then I knew nothing about them, I just wondered what happened after Rob died (was he still alive, I think he'd have found the way to make people aware of this criminally underrated band) and found their website. The uncompromising kids had been releasing 10" vinyl only singles or something (some tracks had luckily been uploaded as MP3s to their site), alright, it seems they don't want Top Of The Pops, but I strongly believe this would have been a very important band at the height of Factory days... it just seems natural: Joy Division - New Order, Section 25, Crispy Ambulance, The Wake and Gabrielle's Wish. The fact they're just an obscure contemporary band doesn't make them less brilliantly essential. They're just that good, a timeless new wave band refreshed with quite some modern sound.
And so comes their first proper album, Portal. With the current new wave revival (Interpol, Radio 4 etc.) you'd expect the indie labels to fight for this band which doesn't just do revival, but instead is just the incarnation of Manchester new wave in the 21st century, a band that could conquer loads of fans of a certain target, because they do the real thing with their extreme intensity. Instead they release this self financed CD with admirable Do It Yourself punk ethic, and they'll stay music's best kept secret, the most precious hidden jewel for few lucky fans, and I'm proud to be one of them.
Portal is simply one of the best records ever released in the last ten years, an absolute masterpiece. Just look at The Vines, Datsuns and other useless simplistic stuff on the cover of NME. Then hear this and remember how music can be devastatingly powerful. The album is opened by what curiously sounds like a jam between early Echo And The Bunnymen and Campag Velocet (another of the few good bands making their debut in the recent years, although disappearing shortly thereafter). You can hear a sample of Blue Skies on the site of Piccadilly Records, the Manchester shop where I bought the album from. They do a great job and accept International Money Orders, so also people outside England can get this album without a credit card.
The following Scream is one of their best songs, with its deep bass and touching guitar. This track and the wildly angular Stag just show us Gabrielles Wish (now without the apostrophe) have an obvious new wave influence, but can do the thing in their own unique way. After the glorious madness of Vinegar Milk comes what's probably their best track of Portal, Midnight Itch, where they seriously come close to the intensity of Joy Division, Interpol just do lightweight pleasant efforts but this is the real thing and that's why this band should have been on Factory, the last band at this level was early Section 25 at their very best.
The violence of Dateless Wonder and Glash Ashtray (the song which definitely confirms the band's abilty to create a sound of their own) and the darkness of All Day Long and Orange Light (with the wonderfully melancholic guitar in the finishing part) complete this masterpiece with two instrumentals, a short interlude (Panphobia) and most of all a touching atmospheric ambient keyboard (Human Arms) which makes a peaceful final after such extreme emotions.
Do you want to stay out there with all the others ignoring such a great band or do you want to come inside and discover how music can still be so powerful and emotional? Welcome in the lucky few.

Rating: 10/10