Deadman – Cerebral Frontier; Human Elephant – Owner Without a Dog

Artist: Deadman
Title: Cerebral Frontier
Label: Umor Rex, Mexico
Details: DL. 6 tracks, 27 minutes. Free download from www.umor-rex.org

One of the things I love about the Creative Commons scene is how all notions of national and cultural boundaries are rendered meaningless. So a lad from Belfast called Jason Mills aka Deadman can pop up on a Mexican netlabel and nobody considers it remotely unusual. Actually Lysergic Lasso, a heartfelt tribute to Ennio Morricone’s spag western soundtracks kinda fits with the image of deserts, cactuses and big-brimmed hats. OK, I’m not being serious before I get accused of lazy and insulting stereotyping.

One thing that Mills can’t be accused of is finding a sound and sticking to it. What the tracks do all have in common is that there is an acoustic guitar somewhere in the forefront (although on closer Murmuration I think it’s a mandolin), but it’s just one of a jumble of a number of instruments. Comparisons could be drawn with Beck, Calexico and even his fellow countryman David Holmes (for stylistic wanderlust). There’s also a sense that any of these tracks would be perfectly at home on a movie soundtrack.

Two songs have vocals. Mills’ slightly flat Ulster baritone isn’t his best attribute, although it’s perfectly serviceable. All in all, though, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Great trippy cover, too, with echoes of Bridget Riley. Deadman at MySpace: www.myspace.com/deadman_music

Artist: Human Elephant
Title: Owner Without a Dog
Label: Umor Rex, Mexico
Details: DL. 4 tracks, 25 minutes. Free download from
www.umor-rex.org

I don’t know much about Human Elephant except that there’s a guy called John Edward Donald involved. The label isn’t that helpful in that respect. I like his voice though – a sort of cross between Ian Curtis and Stephin Merritt with an appealing wobble to it. Musically, this is bass-heavy, sludgy rock. A bit lighter in texture than the Melvins but in that general ballpark. It’s as loose as fuck, but has a lot of charm. Remember a band called Slovenly who used to be on SST in the late eighties? That’s quite a good comparison.

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