Label Focus: Merok Records

As squat beardy shouty man, Adam Buxton would proclaim, LDN’s Merok Label is ”SO HOT RIGHT NOW!”. Owned by advert bothering, Milo Cordell (one half of The Big Pink), it’s no wonder much of the output sounds like low fi under-produced counterparts of TBP. Just like the Big Pink themselves these artist’s seem to all have one thing in common, aesthetic, creating lush layered soundscapes, designed for thinking just as much as they are dancing. Merok has a track record for success with some of their past signing’s including Crystal Castles and Klaxons (now you know who to blame for all that over hyped megadrive muzac…) going on to achieve mainstream as well as critical success. As we approach 2010, with both the neu rave boys, and the leather clad electro tramps nowhere in sight, it seems Merok is gearing up a second wave of noise punk stars to unleash into your lug holes…

Teengirl Fantasy
My personal favourite of the flagship of new Merok bands emerging, is Teengirl Fantasy. Encapsulating everything from doo wop electroclash, to hypnotic undewater synth samples in a way that relaxes and motivates at the same time, making it the perfect music for narcoleptics with a penchant for raves…’Azz Klapz Customize IT’ is unnervingly catchy, with it’s child spoken sample ‘Hey let me do it…oooh you so nasty”, circling over 90’s B-boy beats. However it’s on latest single ‘Portifino’ that TF come into their element, it’s the sort of music you get high, or come down to, with its combination of emotional synths and early 90’s house drums. Equilibrium in music form if you will. Bust some moves/chillax above

The Big Apples SALEM sound like Crystal Castles, if they were caressing you into a nightmarish sleep, instead stabbing you with used needles and shouting ”LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!”. ‘Water’s ghostly fuzz bellows and echoes, as distorted yelps cry in pain piercing through the mesh of distortion, synchronising with the conrcete/industrial beats and handclaps. Epic soundscapes of euphoric confusion, depression and contemplation are found on all tracks, but none more so than on ‘frost’, with its whistling wind syths and distant feminine vocals, blending together to form the intense sound of a low.

On a less, I-don’t-know-whether-to-dance-or-die note, comes the saccharin infused colourful spectrum of pop that is Rainbow Arabia. RA take african, and carnivale beats made popular by such bands as Vampire Weekend and Friendly Fires, implement traditional rhythms and riffs from their influences, before shoving the whole thing through a synthesizer and drum machine, winding up with something that sounds like The Jungle Book, had it been made in a hipsters bedroom. Not exactly something you could get passionate about, but interesting (if not a little sickly…) nevertheless.

The Big Pink’s little sister, Akiko Matusuura’s ”other” band Comanechi, employ the tried and tested ”boy girl” line up, seen in bands such as Blood Red Shoes, The Kills and most famously The White Stripes. That isn’t to say the bands minimalist approach hinders their sound in any way. Just as the famous duo’s that have come before them, Comanechi somehow manage to channel the spirit of a band angrier, ferocious and at least twice their size. Filling the same role as she does in TBP, Akiko takes to the drums in a less hip hop-esque approach and more a ”I’m going to smash the shit out of these drums” manor, she’s like Meg White, only under her endearingly sweet exterior lies a feral wildcat, waiting to maul your face off. Accompanied by guitarist Simon Comanechi, their combination creates a noise punk wall of sound not seen since the 90’s era of grunge, distortion and plaid shirts. Dirty, sexy, visceral and basically very very good Comanechi are undoubtedly one of Merok’s best exports.

What with Klaxon’s holed up in the studio, restricted by their new record company from unleashing their prog rock epic upon the public, and Crystal Castles completely off the radar, it is to be seen whether one of Merok’s growing army of noise punk popstrels can fill the void…I for one certainly hope so

Joe Thresh