Nine Doors Review

Cool review here of LBO CD from the good folks at diskant

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Levenshulme Bicycle OrchestraLevenshulme Bicycle Orchestra. It’s so satisfying to say. It’s almost as satisfying to type out, time and again. Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra. The best thing about the name is that it’s wholly accurate: Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra are a troop of musicians  based in a certain district of Manchester who come together to make music from all kinds of instruments, including bicycles. They’ve been a going concern for a few years now, but this is their debut release; a full-length CD album (or download if you’re so inclined) capturing nine of their collective improvisations for posterity and general confusion.

“Marlon. Marlon Brando are you the famous film star?”

And he says, “yes I’m afraid I am.”

“Why aren’t you happy with your existence?”

“Well that’s the question isn’t it?”

Confusion? Yes. It’s not like they don’t warn you: open up the beautifully packaged CD, pull out the bonkers fold-out poster and look on the back; you’re confronted with what reads like the ramblings of an insane man and a small disclaimer: “All lyrics improvised at time of recording and sung by Zeke S Clough”. Pity the fool that volunteered to transcribe them.

Zeke S. Clough (voice, synthesizer, percussion), perhaps better known for his insane artwork for Skull Disco that also adorns this release,  is just one of the quartet of fearless improvisers that make up Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra. Huw T. Wahl (bicycle percussion, clarinet, piano, voice), David M. (for Magnus) Birchall (bass, small instruments, percussion, voice) and Josh J. Kopecek (synthesizer, piano, flugelhorn) are the other constituent parts that make up this glorious whole.

So what is the sound of confusion? The album opens up with some typically deranged moans from Zeke, before some clattering of bicycle percussion, fizzing pedals and rhythmic random percussion. This builds up to a point of tension before Zeke begins his first sermon, quickly accompanied by bass thrums and other assorted layers before it all collapses into the next song. “Starved Dog” features a piano accompanying what sounds like someone playing a bass guitar with a slide, a kazoo and god knows what else. “Oily Film” features what sounds like the ghost of crazed organist playing the soundtrack toChopper Chicks in Zombietown, accompanied by creaks, groans and moans and the odd whoop here and there. “Whale in a Duckpond” almost sounds like an actual, recognisable song at various points, with some welcome musicality as David plays the bass like an upright and Zeke croons in his best Geno Washington impersonation. Then it all goes wrong; maggots start crawling over the windows and hell gradually breaks loose. “Marlon Brando”? Well, you know how that one goes. Everything starts falling apart by the time we reach “Primate Engineer” and Huw’s clarinet starts wailing over the top of abstract piano phrases, phased bass rumbles and some beatboxing. Eventually it all comes to a crashing, triumphant halt with final track “Nine Doors”, which runs a full 20 minutes and encapsulates virtually everything that precedes it, mutating from broken-down church organ jam to skeletal percussion workout to bizarre melody hopscotch, all held together by another bizarre, nonsensical story. A glorious hymn to the power of collective free improvisation, it’s probably the finest moment on this fantastically cock-eyed album.

“Nine Doors” is the sound of what happens when you lock four like-minded musical voyagers in a room for 2 days and distill their inevitable improvisations down to something that approaches the coherent “music” your lazy brain desires. Live, Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra must sprawl all over the place as they take different paths towards collective enlightenment. On record, you’re served the mere highlights of their wanderings, jumbled-up and thrown together to create this mind-flaying assemblage of sounds, textures, noises, words and song. Running nicely over an hour, it might be too much to take in at one sitting, but keep listening and it’s the collective inspiration that frazzles your mind. Awesomely inspired and dazzlingly weird, simply nothing sounds like Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra

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LBO Album launch photos and Reviews!

Some splendid photos of the Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra album gig @ The Greenroom taken by Jonathan Purcell. Glad to say we all look demented in everyone. Full set here.

First load of  Nine Doors reviews have rolled in too:

“a Faust-like mixture of ritualised musical theatre and collective improvisation.. a scrapyard gamelan conjuring a post-industrial- even apocalyptic North of England… stumbling rhythms that echo some of the trash-kitsch of Swordfishtrombone-era Tom Waits.”

The Wire

“In essence, The LBO are about the very physical creation of music as an art concept, as opposed to being a couple of blokes chewing out a tune using a Mac and Pro-Tools.

As the name suggests you’ll typically find a sculptured bicycle being beaten and bowed alongside bits of sheet metal, bobbins, anything that goes ‘clack!’ and battered drums. Someone plays an actual instrument somewhere and at sometime. Let’s not forget the howling wails and poetic, yet menacing vocals. As the loops are purely organic, the rhythm can often get interrupted, but at times they make this whole thing sound as interesting as Eno / Byrnes “Bush Of Ghosts”, as if taken as a field recording on the Raleigh production line. Whilst 9 tracks are listed, I think the Orchestra live up to their name – this is one long piece culminating in a difficult but disturbingly mesmerising, inside out version of what sounds like The Doors.”

www.manchestermusic.co.uk

“Nine doors is an album that offers an insight into the bizarre, the nature of happiness, the profane, insanity and the downright weird all with a strange beauty and a sense of humour.”

www.blankmediacollective.org

“Their music reminds me of The Brave Little Toaster, but older and angrier and probably drunk. Whiling away his older years at the scrap yard. The reason for this is… LBO are no ordinary band. As you can guess from the title, they use bikes to make music with, amongst other ordinary household items. Their recently released album Nine Doors, is like Jazz on Prozac, played in an abandoned factory using instruments in the way that Blue Peter used fairy liquid bottles. On both occasions the result is unexpected, strangely enjoyable and definitely imaginative. It’s not the kind of thing you can play in the background and ignore whilst reading the latest Marian Keyes, but it will get you thinking about the nature of happiness, society, insanity and Marlon Brando. And for those who don’t give a shit about all that – you can enjoy it for the weirdness.”

www.futurelegendmusic.wordpress.com



Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra CD “nine doors” now out!

Out as of today 22nd of february! 9 tracks of splendor available from www.concretemoniker.co.uk for a bargain price of £6. Covers are handscreened on to heavy weight recycled cardpackaging, insert contains a super savage collage from Zeke and lyric sheet.

CD release show is this Thursday 25th February @ The Greenroom on Whitworth Street in Manchester. We’ll be performing with performance artist Ken Turner.

Also superpleased that we got Karl Marx back on prime time TV with our brief burst of fame on friday eve. Hopefully the footage will get digitised sooner or later, its currently trapped in the inbetween world of VHS. Ok so sure, Karl didn’t get everything right and people may have done bad stuff in his name but I’d rather see him back on TV than more post-modern brain grinding that degrades even further our slippery grasp of history, the past and what it means to be human and alive.