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Crippled Black Phoenix – Justin Greaves Interview

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Bristol Feb 2009

Crippled Black Phoenix founder Justin Greaves shakes his head and takes 2 hand marked discs from his bag. He leans in and slides them across the table. ‘These were for one of the band at practise…but I think you really need to here this.’

The 2 discs in question are both the new albums from Crippled Black Phoenix, ‘The Resurrectionists’, and ‘Night Raider’. It has been a difficult, frustrating process to wrench the 19 songs that span the record from the peripatetic being that Crippled Black Phoenix has become. It’s a process that has driven Greaves to the edges of his patience and the limits of his sanity. ‘I’m not quite Axl Rose yet, though I believe I am… I’m a communist, christian version of Axl Rose singing onward christian soldiers in my head every night before I go onstage!’ He notes before cracking a broad grin and breaking into a full bodied laugh.
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Restlesslist – Brighton, July 2008

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This article was conducted for The Beat Happening magazine.

There’s something about island and coastal dwellers. Perhaps it’s an imbalance of sodium in the veins, maybe its the incessant threat of falling foul to some Hitchcockian seagull related demise or the muggy vapors of those lost at sea wandering the streets, eulogised on harbour wall plaques. Whatever the provenance the proximity of the sea seems to break down the normal restraints of human self control, creating a palpable frisson, an infectious theendisuponus spirit that fuels wanton creativity and overt depravity. It is apt then that scintillating Brightonian instrumentalists Restlesslist have produced an album perfectly encapsulating that essence of the modern British seaside town. ‘The Rise and Fall of the Curtain Club’ is aural schizophrenia, a cut up combination of the classic funfair facades and the punch drunk explorations of relentless house parties and 3am deckchair liaisons.

Conceived in the cradle of modern bandom, the converted bedroom studio, as a natural extension of the friendship between Benjamin Elliot (art, hearts and ink) and Mathew Thwaites (you know him from Electric Soft Parade) and fired by house party discussions and DJ slots the two quickly decided they wanted to fuse their creativity. As they noted what they were creating quickly demanded an audience outside those privy to their homestead and they begun the onerous task of assembling a full band. “It hasn’t really been a bedroom thing for a year maybe two,” offers Ben before Matthew adds, “we still write in their though, we’ve got a converted studio about the size of this.. (Small arm gestures)”. “We didn’t really think about it, it was just a hobby that we kind of kept to ourselves but then we got a gig and had to put a band together,” “couldn’t” notes Ben chuckling, “yeah couldn’t so got dropped from the gig, and then just carried on. A few people have come and gone but now it’s a band.” A band indeed and currently employing the very able talents of luminaries such as Brakes man Thomas White along with Matthew Davies and Max Erle. “It’s been good because of the way it’s gone”, continues Ben, “because we didn’t start with any idea of how we’d sound or how we’d look it’s bee a very natural progression. It all makes sense.”

Many of the bands compositions, such as ‘Dirty Pint’, for which they recently completed a gloriously compulsive video, and ‘Mint Sauce’, lilt menacingly between elegiac seaside organ evocations and complete sfrozando. They take imperialistic British seaside whimsy and subject it to a Burroughs tinged cut-up groove surgery, the resultant heady brew conjuring scenes of Billy Childish channelling the ghost of Ennio Morricone and the pair cruising the bars and boardwalks glassing organ players left and right before torching the whole damn mess. It’s a ragged edged soundtrack that will launch a million filmmakers amongst its listeners. Interestingly though many of the key signposts surfacing in their reviews, such as Morricone, are surprising the band themselves. “I actually got into Morricone through reading one of our reviews,” states Matt, “the name kept coming up so I looked into it.” Matthew does go on to reveal an insightful addiction to collecting Disney soundtracks proffering that The Little Mermaid may just be the pinnacle of modern fairy tale embellishment. Though a brief mini tour of their house reveals endless mountains of bizarre instruments and scattershot piles of vinyl turning up everything from scandinavian elf Bjork to BBC field recordings reflecting the eclecticism that translates to record.

For all their lo-fi bedroom roots Restlesslist have started 2008 in gloriously high profile form and have been garnering high praise from all quarters with BBC 6’s resident ex-Fall man Marc Riley declaring ‘Butlin Breaks’ the best record he has heard. Alongside Album Of The Week accolades from Huw Stephen’s, endless spins from Colin Murray and Steve Lemacq and triumphant live turns at the like of Truck festival and The Great Escape, Restlesslist are poised to make huge waves. Every life is better soundtracked, and Restlesslist are grand masters of the art.

Written by Jonathan

August 18, 2008 at 10:45 am


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This review originally appeared on

Mondegreens EP

Everything else suddenly ceases to register. Honeycomb guitar peaks dawn on the horizon, whipped sharply into screaming focus under deluge after deluge of driven bass and syncopated, feral drums. Every moment in every song building, building until finally delivered in a glorious maelstrom before serving you up, saturated, to a forgiving shoreline, woken by gentle melody lapping at your face.
To say Ctrlaltdelete are destined for great things seems redundant. The ‘Mondegreens’ EP passed somewhat under the radar, but it contained rough diamonds that should have graced any self-respecting music puublication.
Formed under the dawn of the new millennium, Ctrlaltdelete operate around the nucleus of Ben Maxwell and Laura Harrison. Though the Carlisle-based trio found themselves struggling through two previous drummers, founding member Chris Hewitt and, for the devotional ‘Mondegreens’ sessions, Simon Papaleo, the band have settled…
Scandinavian sticksman Robert Holmkvist to solidify them for the future, as they move towards the recording and release of their debut full length album. A future that has already found them making big waves in early 2006 picking up rave press and a kkkk review in Kerrang.
Ctrlaltdelete operate in that most unremitting of arenas, that of the instrumental band. Wringing emotive landscapes from their triumvirate limbs they can take you from morphine laced ethereal melody to fist to the face clarity in a heartbeat.
Songs such as ‘Patter, Chance And Menace’ and ‘Each Of These Innocents On The Streets Is Engulfed By A Terror Of Their Own Ordinariness’, both from the aforementioned EP, leapt forward from the debut ‘Epone’ cauterising the loose fibres and forging a cohesive whole that injects a collective pulse to every song.
The overriding factor in Ctrlaltdelete’s music is the passion that infects every moment, every note seems wrung from their instruments
as if their very lives depended on it. Taking experimental pointers from Sonic Youth through Scratch Acid and underpinning it with punk heart ballistics and timeless structure, they escape their surroundings and sidestep the consuming banality and self-inflicted melancholy of many similar bands.
In a genre where artists are easily sidelined to become outcast musical pariahs, Ctrlaltdelete make music to stand shoulder to shoulder with heavyweights such as Mogwai and Sigur Rós, truly earning a peerage amongst such names.
Signed to Motivesounds, whose ever-impressive roster keep churning out exquisite records, Ctrlaltdelete are making all the right noises with 2006’s debut full-length, this is the time to get on board with one of Britain’s most innovative, intense and exciting bands as they embark on an ascendance that with any justice will find them at the zenith of modern music. Quite simply, they are stunning.

Written by Jonathan

June 29, 2008 at 1:40 am

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