Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan and Toy join forces to tackle Persian psych-funk and Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence


SEXWITCH                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  London XOYO 29/09/15


It’s a full house tonight in this fashionably dingy basement venue, the crowd awaiting a show from the unique collaboration that is Bat For Lashes driving force, Natasha Khan, record label owner/producer Dan Carey and psych-musical polymaths Toy.  With only one live appearance to date as surprise guests at the Green Man Festival, it’s intriguing to hear what is essentially a carefully curated set of covers (albeit given an illuminating transfiguration in the studio environs) given the live treatment.

The band start with album opener ‘Ghoroobaa Ghashangan’ and the sense of dark forboding that underpins the recorded material is immediately present  – “Our love has passed away, too disentangled to exist…”. The slinkiness of the bass-centric groove works to provide a solid rhythmic platform for Khan to tune into the occasion.  The stage is bathed in a crepuscular blue, red and purple light and gives the impression that this is more of a gothic twilight ceremony than just a gig going on here.

‘Ha Howa Ha Howa’ takes the music further down the rabbit hole into a musical chasm of the band’s making.  A key factor in this being Dan Carey’s use of the Swarmathon, a strange wooden encased electronic instrument that Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) once described as “a spider web of cables, soldering and madness”.  It seems to be the backbone for most of their tunes with a trademark “dual notes interweaving” sound.  This alongside the band’s capability to supply a motoriklike drive, provides Khan with the perfect backdrop to let loose with her voice, often restrained within her more famous material.  Khan has described the process of recording vocals for the SEXWITCH project as “like a voodoo exorcism” and it certainly seems that some kind of possession of her body and soul has taken place.  In contrast, between songs, Khan is all smiles laughing to herself and telling the audience “I need to calm down!” 

‘Helelyos’ continues to entrance both singer and crowd; the stage lights  fusing with the performance and Khan’s evoking of the incantational aspects of the lyrics, transforming Zia’s original (as found on Finders Keepers’ Persian psych-funk compilation Pomegranates) into a journey through the heart of darkness, ambiguous and all the more unsettling for it. A cover of Skip Spence’s ‘War In Peace’ followed by an airing of the pre-album collaboration that started it all ‘Aroos Khanom’ (The Bride) and the vocals continue to become impassioned and tumultuous  – “Now my heart is beating in my chest, no one to confide in!” – the Swarmathon swells and the band keep their heads whilst the sonics continue to whirl through the night.

‘Kassidat El Hakka’ (roughly translated from the Moroccan source as ‘the Poem Of The Truth’) is central to the SEXWITCH sound and it’s no surprise that they finish the set with it. It’s a pulsing, relentless spine-chiller that leads Khan to shake and scream before appearing to be overpowered by the sledgehammer nature of the cacophony being created behind her. Overall, it’s an incredibly interesting diversion for all involved  – here’s hoping that there’s more to come.

Marc Le Breton

You can stream the album here


Goblin to perform Dawn Of The Dead


29TH OCTOBER 2015, 7:30PM


£20.00 + B/FEE

‘When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth…’ 


Lunar Festival and The Electric Cinema are teaming up on Thursday 29th October to present a very special cinematic event, as Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin arrive in Birmingham to perform a live soundtrack alongside a screening of George Romero’s original 1978 horror masterpiece Dawn Of The Dead. Read more Goblin to perform Dawn Of The Dead


The Hollies: The Twilight Years from Dylan to disco

BOBBY ELLIOTT recounts to IMOGEN HARRISON about how ’60s veterans found adapting to The Bay City Rollers, disco and heavy drinking managers a challenge.  



After 11 frustratingly tumultuous months in the studio, in December 1976, The Hollies released their fifteenth studio LP, Russian Roulette.

“It was a gamble” claimed lead singer Allan Clarke when reflecting on the inspiration behind the album’s utterly un-Hollies-like title. “[We were] experimenting with different sounds and different ways of writing songs’.” Unfortunately for Clarke and the rest of the group (at the time, consisting of originals Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott on lead guitar and drums, as well as fellow Mancunian bassist Bernie Calvert and Liverpudlian Terry Sylvester on rhythm guitar), it was a gamble that didn’t necessarily pay off; similarly to the group’s previous four studio efforts, the album received little promotion from the record label, and as a result, didn’t even scratch the lower echelons of the charts. With the exception of a surprisingly successful live LP in March ’77 (Hollies Live Hits, that climbed to number four in the UK charts and was named as “the greatest live album of the ‘60s and ‘70s”), this was a pattern that the group would see continue until after Clarke’s departure in ’99, as they released LP after LP, but to no mainstream avail. Read more The Hollies: The Twilight Years from Dylan to disco


Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz

You what? Miley in Shindig! Well, yes. The one time Hannah Montana has been getting very “off it” with The Flaming Lips and a host of fried guests including Ariel Pink. This is the result. 

Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz
Smily Miley Inc.



It’d be easy to write off Miley Cyrus. She’s a former child star known primarily for scandalous behavior. How could anyone possibly take her music seriously? Admittedly, I didn’t until Cyrus and a friend visited the shop where I work. I watched as they spent 45 minutes pouring over every record in the place. In the end, Miley walked away with an impressive stack of vinyl, including copies of White Light/White Heat, Unknown Pleasures and The Madcap Laughs. I wondered at the time, will these records rub off on her music? Now that I’ve heard Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz I’m certain they have. Actually, I believe Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips has probably had the biggest influence on Cyrus’ new music. His freaky presence is all over the new album.

The very idea of Miley and Wayne working together entices me. Both seem so adventurous and freaky, what could they possibly achieve together? I’m pleased to say, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz is a powerful declaration of personal independence and artistic ambition. At 23 years of age there hasn’t been enough time for Cyrus to grasp or assimilate much of rock’s rich tapestry, yet by aligning herself with Coyne she’s tapped directly into The Flaming Lips’ sense of limitless musical possibilities. On the album there’s a feeling the songs are being created spontaneously, yet once they sink in its obvious craft is involved. The lyrics often seem like random streams of thought, but they add up to something meaningful, or at least it feels that way, which is important. Stylistically, there are no boundaries, and of course, this makes it difficult to characterize the music. “Psychedelic” is the word that keeps coming to my mind, but I’m not sure some Shindiggers will hear it that way. For many of you (but not all) it won’t be possible to transcend the retrogressive aesthetic. That’s too bad, really, because Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz is definitely a trip worth taking.

Ric Menck

Stream the album here