Where Have You Been? The Cinema of Sound

Milk looking concerned
You want to hear it without reverb?!

I always feel like I'm being lazy, but whenever I write one of these I realize we are at least getting a few things done... I've been told I'm too impatient and should slow down but hell, why stop now?

leather coat and microphone

We've got two new goody bags and some news about future projects:

A brand new set of 9 songs - released July 2014: I Made You a Map - (the title track, released as a single via Pretty In Noise earlier this year - has been given a little update).

This one was good therapy. It's dark, with a hint of self-deprecating nostalgia. The spitefulness has been cleansed, and now we're back to business. Exotic electronics, tiny spirals of noise leading the way through the noise and swirl. The beats are still big but they hopefully massage your parts rather than sound like they are trying to split them into pieces: 
The Black Aspirin E.P. is now available via iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and others, thanks to Stray Recordings:

Another audiophonic journey... The Meks deliver us a new slab of post-punk-tinged-super-stylish-electronic-alt-rock, simply because... it's in their DNA.

From biting commentary to ocean-size dronefests, this release hails further broadening of the Meks sound - the massive beats, swirling noise guitars and beautiful production are there, as ever, but the lyrical content and atmosphere that some of these songs convey is heavier, and all the better for it. You are unwittingly being fed information whilst your body is busy involuntarily moving.

It seems effortless, the way the work is conveyed, but we all know it takes a lot of hard work, and the magic is in making all that work come across so naturally. Consistent, consistent, consistent.

Earlier this year I was asked to do come up with a guest post for The Devil Has The Best Tuna about my 'top picks' for 2014. Have a read if you're in need of some new noises - I know I am: http://besttuna.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/Tipsfor2014_11.html

Hop flask and cymbal
Prepared Hip-Flask

In other news, I've been putting the finishing touches to an E.P. by a new band: The Public Apophenia Council. I'm contributing some vocals and reverby baritone guitar. The PAC material has a more organic feel to it, featuring acoustic drums, percussion, melodica, fretless bass, harmonica and accordion. But with me doing production duties it's still going to have plenty of bass end, grit and reverb. 
There's an odd almost Morricone moment or two, and some spoken word tracks with some rough and ready grooves. So it's definitely something different to The Meks, but I think you'll be able to tell I'm in there routing around in the workings. Sample track: http://pareidolia.viinyl.com/

Arthur and some sort of analog synth?

I've also been working on some arrangements for a Liverpool based female singer with a really great soulful rock voice. It's been ages since I've worked with a great rock voice. The best rock voices are really soul voices. Machismo takes all the joy out of guitar music. Soul voices have ache, the great romantic, sexual ache. All the joy and sorrow.

I've been going for an electronic / Post-Punk vibe, with a couple of tracks featuring an entire brass section lending things a kind of SpyPunk / Magazine / John Barry kind of vibe. In my head at least.

A song is potential. It's a shame when musicians only view a song as an opportunity for cash or attention. The potential of sound is infinite. The potential to move air, limbs, hearts and minds.

Music moves us, takes us to places, triggers movements, emotions, memory.

You hear a good vocal performance sitting in the middle of a Painting By Numbers arrangement or production job: nailed to a genre. Guitars all sweaty, legs akimbo, trying too hard to sound like it's being played by an American, maudlin piano all frills no soul, a general fear of minor chords or a beat that isn't some kind of funkless stomp. Scrubbing all the dirt out of the mix. EQing all the life out of it.

I've been pushing myself to broaden my horizons, try things I would normally avoid (live drums for starters).

Ade MUTATE and me have also been working on a new Stray Dog City E.P. (Automatic Writing) with three or four juicy slabs of noise, bass and beats to sink your teeth into coming soon.

There may be a London gig coming up soon, but no solid plans for live things at the moment.

Hope you get yourselves a productive week!




So I haven't typed much lately. Been immersed in the process of putting together some new noises, and moving (yes, again).

I've been holding back on the next Mekano Set release, want to let it stew a while. I've always rushed out stuff in the past, without allowing songs to mature as they tend to once we've gigged them a few times. The latest batch of songs are more electronic - less guitar riffy - but also more gritty / grimy / swirly. And the guitars are there - more swirl and skattered / shattered noise. Yummy.

Saying that, we've accidentally knocked something up this week that is a full-on guitars / melody thing, complete with vaguely melodic vocals and near discernible lyrics

Pareidolia is a new song I recorded with Arthur Hasburg and Sam Bertram - the former rhythm section of Liverpool pop band The Jackobins. We have two exotically grooving songs and two spoken word / soundscapes mixed and ready for a debut E.P. http://pareidolia.viinyl.com/

Our rehearsal space in need of a tidy-up

It's been a challenge to work with a different sonic pallet, and the songs are generally a little bit more melodic than my usual stuff. We're aiming for an organic groove. As well as making use of my baritone guitar textures and location recordings, we've been using melodica and harmonica, various bit of percussion, stories, fretless bass and acoustic drums. And we plan to make use of accordion and trumpet!

Live @ Liverpool Lomax for Hope Fest 2014

Spoilt Child is a spoken word piece from the as-yet untitled E.P. : http://spoiltchild.viinyl.com/

I've been thinking about the state of the music / movie industries recently. If movie torrents die out, DVD / Blu Ray will face a further die back. The industry needs to fund a solid, worthy physical format. It can do that. It can invest millions in research and tests without fear. Those people just need to get over their own destructive greed.

A book lasts lifetimes. A DVD / CD barely survives a decade. 

Let's not forget that the people who run the corporations behind all of the serious labels don't even need to make a profit anymore. Their industry is dying because of their greed - not ours. Recent statistics have shown that people who file share are MORE likely to purchase music and films than people who DON'T file share.

It's not enough to offer better quality formats. People still love mp3, VHS and cassettes and they're not the best quality. Blu Ray has not replaced DVD - and it won't. It's too little too late - and it's packaged in such a lazy way (almost identical to DVDs). Blu Ray albums won't be enough either.

Vinyl survives because the physical form has weight and quality. CD did not because the form was weak + over-priced.

People want to purchase, we like shiny things. It's such a shame to see real record stores across the globe closing their doors for good.

Still, people are always coming up with new, quality, innovative physical formats. But the industry is increasingly artless and blinkered to the path of Most Cash Profit. The fat cats need to step up and consider the craft and the art otherwise just step aside, go back to marketing toothpaste, cigarettes and trainers.

Hafler Trio CD packaging

Soi Song hexagonal CD

The Mekano Set



Feeling pleasantly wobbly and wasted. Having a black aspirin and a gluten-free bagel.

Had a great weekend visiting the family out in the sticks and the smelly little Welsh dogs. Proper decent gig on Saturday night - Ted Wildbillbuttock done us proud on the mix (did a better job than I did last time) so we felt nice and relaxed on stage (so I was actually singing rather than shouting lyrics at the drunk black clad masses this time). Got a few old punks jumping around and offended a few macho Metal boys which is always nice. Ate far too much and didn't drink enough.

We played as a duo so the sound was a bit more stripped down and Shoegrimey. I managed to get my white-noise wah guitar sound back which was a pleasant surprise. And a splash of car-crash reverse-reverb baritone.

In other news, we have a new single out! I Made You a Map is out now via Pretty in Noise. 15 minutes worth of grainy baritone guitars, undulating sub bass and pounding beats. Flickering between disturbing and groovy.

I Made You a Map is a split single with fellow Liverpool / Euro centric sonic adventurers Onde Sphérique. It's a free download too!

Looking at some video footage and plotting out the week. 

"The Mekano Set's latest track sounds quasi religious. They've transformed their "nihilistic electro punk nonsense" into something beautiful. It sounds like a gang of tripped out Cistercian monks playing with electrical tools and gently beating a radiator with a rubber hammer. Trust me this is something you need in your life."




The Mekano Set



So 2013 is almost done an dusted. We are living in the future. It's a lot like the past except the TV's are thinner, and Britain now has a fascist government. Certainly didn't see that one coming. Never imagined the future would be quite so... backwards? We need an island. A new one.

"I need new shoes."

It's certainly been a busy year for us. Productive, in that we've released a hefty chunk of music, and played some fun gigs (some storming nights at Cowley Club, as well as getting to play some fantastic Alternative events: Dead and Buried in London, Dark Waters Festival in Nottingham, and back to The Dark Room in Wolverhampton). The year has also been a bit manic, in that I've managed to move house, four times.

"TV keeps you off the street."

We set out to try and not repeat ourselves this year. We've put out a number of EPs on CD, iTunes, amazon, Spotify etc. and that felt like a real achievement. But we're always looking to try something new.

No One Knows About Persian Cats...

In January, we put together a set of songs for a follow-up to the Hahaharem EP. Going Up was done and dusted really quickly, and looking back it's a great set of songs - totally what we were aiming for: a strong rhythm section and adventurous guitars. But we felt it wasn't enough. We also wanted to try something different:

Behind The Sins started out as a kind of tongue in cheek documentary. We had a lot of fun recording it, and it's got some really cool drones and location recordings - it's not just a joke: an audio collage of interviews, stories and previously unreleased material. Aired several times by Radio Reverb, the CD version boasted a cool gatefold design by Lee C which ran out pretty quickly. Sins gave us a great opportunity to clarify our views on everything from gender to the underground music scene, and also to mystify and experiment with some random cut / paste sound collage. 

We also tried a few different ways of playing live.

It took me six months to mix The Three Thieves EP, a collection of guitarscapes, skewed bass-riffs and heavyweight beats. Big, painful learning curve there. 

Then came The Black Aspirin single, which is actually a two part EP comprising 10 songs. naturally. A stomping, cynical protest song aimed at hipster bands ripping off Post-Punk acts. Yes that's inevitable, but that doesn't mean we have to accept it. So we channeled some energy into a totally overblown and more than a little offensive 'taking it back' anthem. Finished really quickly, thanks in part to what we learned from working on Three Thieves. Check the blog entry for the full story and a link to the cheeky .pdf manifesto.

Barry and Milk
It's a shit business.

As a final Christmessy treat we did a little DJ set of some of our favourite tunes. The Shoegrime Mixtape. is up now on mixcloud. Hopefully it provides some insight into where we're coming from, in that it illustrates that we're not entirely alone in what we do. So there's some 'classic' tracks from Curve, Cocteau Twins and Jesu, and some recent noises from the likes of Weekend Wolves, Blindness, Keluar and King Midas Sound. There's a few surprises, and a couple of our own songs including an extra-shimmery swirly mix of the Crashback song: http://crashbackchristmasmix.viinyl.com/

We're now carving out an extended piece - I Made You a Map - for a split EP with fellow Liverpool / Euro centric sonic adventurers Onde Sphérique for the Pretty in Noise label. This is a great opportunity to explore the groove over time, and we've lined up some great grainy baritone guitar tones to play with. https://facebook.com/pinmusik 

We also have about 8 new slices for the new project but we're holding back on them because we don't want to repeat ourselves. We're still exploring the shapes and spaces of the thing - cutting away chunks of fencing to explore the waste ground behind the song. These tracks are a little bit... phatter and slightly more exotic than our usual noises, but we still want to push them out a little further.

Hope you're having a good one.

More soon x

The Mekano Set