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AlgoRhythms #3 [0x17EB8A1]


We're back after a month off, and the reason for that month off was a lack of planning. I went on holiday, and totally neglected to arrange the July version in advance, and then that post-holiday slump results in a "DO IT NEXT MONTH!" attitude. Motivated by that jaunt around Scotland, and the fact I'll be (perhaps permanently) leaving it soon, this edition is full of Scottish bands. 

As always, this isn't 100% math-rock but there's certainly a tinge of that beloved genre in each of the six bands listed below. A special mention goes to The Darien Venture of course, but they were included before, so putting them on this list would be overkill. Some of these bands are alive and kicking now for you to check out and see, whilst other (oh Danana) are no longer with us. 

Without further ado, and there has been a lengthy ado, off-kilter Scottish rock music for your eyes and ears... 

Biffy of the Month: 'Tilted (Christine and The Queens Cover)'

From 'Take Me Out' to 'Love Sex Magic', Biffy Clyro's cover versions are usually fun and charming, and I can't stop listening to their version of 'Tilted'. (Thank you Live Lounge for providing us with a steady stream of material.) From the harmonies to Simon Neil's gruff French rapping this is pop magic, and a great service to the track which is pretty subdued in its original form. 

1. Mogwai - 'Party In The Dark'

The fathers of post-rock in Scotland and possibly beyond, Mogwai's influence is undeniable and so to miss them from this list of Scottish bands would be criminal. 'Party In The Dark' comes from their upcoming record Every Country's Sun out on Rock Action next week. It's dynamic, beautiful and captivating as we've come to expect from these sonic behemoths. Their show at The Hydro in Glasgow later this year is bound to be as deafening as it is memorable. 

2. Donnie Willow - 'Blessed Company'

I believe I saw these guys in a support slot once, but I can't remember exactly where or when, but I do remember their notable energy and venom. Switching between gentle indie rock and violently distorted guitars makes Donnie Willow a jarring listen. However, if you're holding back any emotions, the passion in 'Blessed Company' and the rest of their Exhibition EP will prove wonderfully cathartic. 

3. Dananananaykroyd - 'Some Dresses'

WHY ARE THEY GONE?! More "fight pop" than "math-rock" Dananananaykroyd have one of the best names ever, and their debut record Hey Everyone! is simply amazing. 'Some Dresses' is one of more coherent cuts alongside single 'Black Wax', treading a simpler musical path although it's not clear what the whole tailoring metaphor is about. Double drummers and double vocalists and double guitarists means maximum fun from this sadly defunct band. 

4. Vasa - 'Burst'

Back on the post-rock train and we have Vasa who ebb and flows, holding your thoughts all the while. Instrumental music at its purest and strongest is the flavour and it's thoroughly enjoyable throughout. Debut album Vasa was released in 2015 and there have been a few teasers since then. The release of 'Burst Open' (including this track) is a taste of things to come as we await the symphonies of record two. 

5. Cutty's Gym - 'Dudeman'

Having had the privilege of hosting these fine gents at a Love Music Hate Racism show in Glasgow, their music is powerful and at times simply unrelenting as a mere two men generate a wall of ferocious yet infectious sound that you can dance too. Royal Blood might have the Top Ten quota of duos covered, but when in flow there's no doubt that Cutty's Gym could win that rock-off. 

6. Skies Fell - 'Bear No Malice'

Another band I've watched in a support slot and some ambient rock music with fancy guitar lines to close things off. Skies Fell seem like a criminally underrated band as their dynamic and emotive music is enthralling both in the live and recorded setting, with drums and guitars and pianos and all the rest combining to create charming soundscapes. 'Bear No Malice' is a quick taste of this style, and their debut album Skies Fell is the delicious buffet. 

That's all for August, thank you for reading this month's Algohythms column and I hope you enjoyed the music therein. Barring any major issues, we'll be back next month with some more "quirky" music suggestions. The kind of music that I couldn't make friends over in high school, but there you go, that doesn't mean it isn't wonderful. As always, hit me up @kj_mccormick with any suggestions you may have. 


Musos’ Guide Chats With Monkoora

Some time ago I met up with Julie Crawford, better known in creative circles as Monkoora, for a chat about her life and her art. Sometime later, sorry, I’ve composed a feature piece from the conversation which you can find below, hopefully giving some insight to the Glaswegian’s captivating crafts. Anchored around the release of her Nuclear BB EP, a record which is out now on Hotgem, this should give you a taste of what to expect. As such, right now if you are so inclined, you can read our review of that very EP, download it from iTunes, and as mentioned learn something about its conception in the paragraphs below.


From routine guitar lessons to self-taught piano as a teenager, the inclination to be an artist has always been with Julie Crawford, who now plies her eclectic and mind-bending trade under the moniker of Monkoora. Unable to find anyone with a similar musical mindset at high school with whom to form that dream garage band, she instead withdrew to creating music from a library of loops featuring vocals, pianos, distorted effects and whatever else seemed fitting. With the internet yet to be populated with a wealth of how to guides on the subject it was very much a DIY affair at the outset, an approach which permeates Crawford’s music to date. Skipping forward in time from those practice rooms, we find another musical accompaniment to education in the soundtrack that was generated for a degree show entitled WORSHIP. A concept imagined and realised in full by one person, it tells in stop motion the tale of an alternative dimension laced with powerful forbidden fruits, with a musical side that strikes the appropriate tone for this otherworldly saga. Fitting this under the Monkoora umbrella, these tracks and the other “initial” cuts which can be found on Bandcamp highlight a broken yet melodic nature to the overall aesthetic and sonic identity of the project.

This could certainly be a natural evolution from those grassroots beginnings, as layers of knowledge and experience are added like loops on a track to flesh out the enthralling final product. In terms of the basis of the overall audio-visual artefact of WORSHIP, this too was constructed as the sum of abstract parts to make a coherent yet warped whole. Inspired in part by a frequent and picturesque commute, dreams are also a pivotal part of Crawford’s art, once again flagging up the notion of incremental composition as tracks are originally formed based on experience rather than necessarily growing from the ground up on a defined path. This intrinsic inconsistency leads to a varied output which consequently fuels a longing for that “All your songs sound the same!” criticism, or some tangible common thread at the very least. Inverting the talk of dreams, there is no naivety here about attaining that self-sustaining employment position in the creative sector. Whilst she’s content to focus on her art, both Monkoora and beyond, for a time the treacherous and difficult path required has been mapped, but there's confidence in the rewards to be achieved, both in terms of money and indulging your passion.

Having both evolved and devolved several times as a composer, Crawford’s writing style has departed from layered loops through knowledge and experience as mentioned previous. With access to more equipment and information, the scope of possibility has expanded, but the tendency for inconsistent outcomes remains true. Now under the name of Monkoora, taken as an accidental misspell (more on that later) of the title of an exotica track called ‘Moon of Manakoora’ from the 1950s, which you can listen to on YouTube should the fancy it. With the notion of the exotica genre aligning with her own penchant for fantasy and escapism the name seemed particularly fitting, and more original with some rearranged letters. Following the independent releases you can find on the Bandcamp above, contact was eventually made with Clair Crawford of Glasgow-based management agency and record label Hotgem, which resulted initially in 2016’s Pale Slopes EP and now this year’s follow-up release Nuclear BB. Both releases are based in electronic sounds and consist of equal parts excitement and a haunting dread. However, it’s not just the music and amplified voice that this connection has brought, it’s experience and opportunity, with perhaps the most notable example being an inclusion at Anna Meredith’s graphene-related residency at the Manchester Science Museum, which is quite special as far as second live performances go.

Apart from “real world” Influences, two bands have a particularly significant hand in moulding the approach and sound of Monkoora, The Birthday Massacre and Mindless Self Indulgence, two conflicting artists held dear from teenage rebellion until now. From dreamy progressions to bombastic beats you can experience tinges of each on Nuclear BB. The title stems from Crawford’s proximity to the Faslane naval base and is a play on the idea of the nuclear family when the parents of that family are employed at that base. Enthused by the colours of the peace camp the aesthetic is suitably psychedelic and the music is as diverse as expected, it’s also imbued with a political edge which people are taking all too literally. Both ‘Bocx Wurld’ and ‘Straddlin’ The Fence’ (that’s not ‘Straddalin’, a mystery spelling mistake which we’re promised was not the artist’s fault) featured explicitly vocalised opinions, which certainly come across as such. However, the intention was almost the opposite, as the true purpose of those segments was to highlight a discontentment with the state of things and a desire to disengage, not to preach from a pedestal. This is not to say she’s devoid of opinion or prone to shying away from important topics, it’s just not what Nuclear BB is meant to convey. In this case and others it seems that Monkoora is an enjoyable outlet for the creative storm inside Julie Crawford, whilst remaining firmly rooted in reality despite its many fantastical elements. Garnering recognition and spreading the music is the next step, and with a Scottish Alternative Music Awards nomination under her belt already, the path onwards is surely vivid. 

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