Tag Archives: MIE

HEY COLOSSUS: Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo (LP, MIE 018, ?)

Hey Colossus - Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo

I’ve got a lot of records by Hey Colossus, they tweak my musical nodes in several ways: they’re noisy, strange, experimental, riff-heavy, repetitive and melodic. That’s a win-win-win-win-win-win combination as far as I’m concerned. They successfully pull off that trick of seeming like a mysterious, shadowy collective, that must surely exist in some kind of Satanic, drug-battered netherworld, rising above ground purely to record and to play live.

On previous records they’ve pushed things in several ways – going all-out noise, or all-out freeform weirdness, for example. Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo is, though, a majestic pinnacle of their music, nailing the sonic combination described above with clarity, power and invention. Plus, it sounds like a great lost Circle record, which is another ‘win’ to add to that list. Tim Cedar, of outstanding noise-rock behemoths Part Chimp, plays drums on this album, and channels that band’s pummelling energy into graceful slabs of rhythmic hypnotism.

A couple of recollections of seeing Hey Colossus play live:

  1. They played at the Audioscope festival, which I help to run, in 2008. Even having met them at the event, I have no recollection of who they were and what they looked like. Hence the ‘shadowy collective’ referred to above.
  2. They played at the Supersonic festival, which I do not help to run, in 2012. Despite being musically fantastic, they left a slightly sour taste in my mouth as they played some pretty unpleasant, pretty misogynistic films throughout their set.  I found it best to look at something else…

Although there is no release date mentioned on the record (liner notes are very scant, except for track titles and a few credits included on the rear sleeve’s artwork), but I’m pretty sure that it was released in 2013. The artwork is superb, showing a hookah-smoking cuckoo kitted out in Victorian smoking garb; I’ve read that the artwork is ‘by the band’. It’s a fine illustration that’s extended onto a red and yellow printed inner sleeve. A black and white outer sleeve birthing its colourful inner as the record is unsleeved is a joy to behold.

Links: Hey Colossus / MIE

DESERT HEAT: Cat Mask At Huggie Temple (12″, MIE 020, ?)

Desert Heat - Cat Mask At Huggie Temple

MIE is a UK record label with a pretty impressive back catalogue of releases. Their early releases tended toward exquisite packaging, with no end of hand-stitched, screenprinted and hand-assembled artwork being on offer. More recently they’ve toned down the (labour-intensive) hand-finished stuff, but retain an eye for a good-looking sleeve.

This record is a 12″ in the classic sense – it plays at 45 rpm and has a track on each side. No 33 rpm is-it-really-so-long-that-I-should-call-it-an-album-even-though-it-only-has-a-couple-of-tracks worry, but also no wasted space: the tracks are good and long. The aptly-named Desert Heat recall the almost freeform, improvisational, psychedelic guitar work of (often Californian) bands from the very late 1960s and early 1970s; the music here is almost like two (vocal-free) slices of infinite groovy soloing, with an overall sense of wasted, sun-baked, heavy-lidded reflective joy. The band are actually from Dublin, but they pull this stuff off better than you might think for residents of an often rainy country. As a description on the MIE website has it: “Semi-improvised yet impossibly tight, Desert Heat can only embody the flickering mirage on the open road under the fading heat of the evening sun.”

The slightly textured card of the record sleeve is apt for the dusty music, but there’s pleasure to be had in the fact that the inside of the sleeve is smooth – it makes it easier to slide the inner sleeve, also printed on good heavy stock – in and out. Thumbs up. The photographs on the sleeves, and handwritten lettering on the record’s back, inner sleeve and labels, are credited to band member Cian Nugent (no relation to Ted Nugent, I presume); the credits also thank non-band member Richard Proffitt for ‘objects’ – meaning, I think, the odd sculptural collection of found objects pictured on the rear sleeve. Overall layout is credited to Conor Lumsden, a Dublin-based graphic designer and musician, according to Twitter. There’s no release date mentioned on the record, but I think that this came out in 2013.

Links: MIE

(And, for fun, here are the Desert Heat that did not make this record – but, instead, “one of Country’s hottest acts. Catchy melodies, passionate vocals, wailing guitars, a driving back-beat…”)

Update 23/01/14: A snippet of info via Twitter from Henry, the kind fellow behind MIE: “[the record] was released mid-13 and the band are 1/3 Irish and 2/3 US!”