Here at Unorthodox Paradox HQ we constantly strive very hard to find unusual and jaw-dropping artists to fill your visit with surprises, excitement, and maybe even a touch of enlightenment. Of course you may not know many (or any) of these bands, but we believe that is part of the fun…a voyage of discovery, if you will. Click on the band names to go to their website to find out more about them, or check out their tunes using the Unorthodox Jukebox on the right – you can also find the full playlist of tracks on the UP2016 Soundcloud page here – open that in a new tab or page if you want to check out the tunes whilst you continue browsing the site.
As always, musical ear-candy will be provided between each and every band by The Unorthodox Disco Deviants, a motley selection of DJs soiled by time and experiences beyond your ken. If you buy them a drink, they might let you pet their pony (but beware – it’s not really a pony).
So here, in no particular order (and with more to come) are just some of the delights we have in store for you…
We’ve been trying to persuade Brian Duffy and his ever-changing orchestra to come and entertain us at Unorthodox Paradox for a few years now – and are beyond excited to have finally pinned him down (not using actual pins obviously, that would be cruel). Modified Toy Orchestra performances are rare and precious jewels, and their sense of musical adventure and unfailing devotion to presenting immaculately conceived concepts is a lesson that many bands would do well to learn. They will be showcasing an interpretation of their forthcoming album ‘Silfurberg’ (although by August hopefully it will already be here). I’ve heard it, it’s astounding, prepare for a voyage through cosmic landscapes unimagined…
A very welcome return to Unorthodox Paradox for this cheeky foursome who have a motto of ‘When we play, we slay’ – having had the privilege of seeing them perform several times I can verify that they’re not lying. With a slightly ‘old school’ approach of having stunning songs and playing them really, really well, there’s simply no need for journalistic bluster or hyperbole – come expecting them to be brilliant, and they will exceed your expectations. Their latest album ‘The Terrifying Dream’ – which smashed a Pledge Music campaign last year, reaching its target within 16 hours of being launched – is chock full of dramatic pop hooks and unnerving tales played with a visceral energy. Essential.
With a background in electronic and experimental music that is second to none, Tim Wright is nevertheless probably best known for his bass-heavy dancefloor material under his own name, and the Tube Jerk alias. Marrying the funk and swing of house music with the weight of techno and seriously hefty bass and electro-acoustic compositional sensibilities, his sound is immediately recognisable and devastatingly effective. See you down the front!
Bristol-based Japanese experimental singer-songwriter, instrument-maker and performance artist ICHI will surely delight with his curious ditties. Hailing from Nagoya’s underground scene, ICHI moved to the UK and Bristol after meeting English singer-songwriter Rachael Dadd, now his wife, at a small DIY festival in his hometown. He takes inspiration for his art from far and wide – a melting-pot of punk, reggae and dub, Henri Salvador, tribal music and old scratchy 78s. With his trusty sampler never far away ICHI spends hours poised, ready to capture the perfect water droplet or page flick, a process which he describes as being “like catching an animal”. ICHI’s performance sees these wonderful creations come to life using a bizarre selection of homemade instruments (stilt-bass, kalilaphone, hatbox-pedal-drum, skip-xylophone and tapumpet) and vocals depicting colourful characters.
A new project featuring Joel Harries (who you’ll spot elsewhere on the lineup) and Josh Ryan (one of 7shades resident guitar-botherers), Lucky also has the benefit of the considerable vocal talents of Aoife Foley, not to mention Joel’s dad Tim Harries (who can namedrop artists such as Brian Eno, Bill Bruford, David Holmes & Katie Melua amongst those he has worked with). So, a super-group of sorts, although the low-key beauty of their songs outshines any of their undoubted individual credentials.
A powerhouse duo from Cardiff comprised of drums & guitar (which they both play), and a loopstation, in just a short time these guys have notched up some serious gigs, supporting the likes of Future of the Left and The Physics House Band. Their recent eponymous album shows a band brimming with ideas and energy, and a cursory hunt through Youtube indicates they have no problem translating those things into a live environment.
Chris Anderson is one of a particularly British strain of songwriter who manages to infuse his wonderfully crafted tales with a sense of nostalgia and melancholy without them ever descending into mere mawkishness, but instead ascending into a glorious celestial and hallucinogenic territory that few are able to attain through music. Frequently surrounded by a lineup of musicians that most would kill for, whether he is on his own at a piano, or guiding a full band, there is an emotional resonance to a Crayola Lectern performance that is potent and undeniable.
I’m rarely at a loss for words when it comes to describing music, but in this case my vocabulary is found seriously lacking. Closest I can think (and it’s not very close) is John Zorn-era Mr Bungle. Which would be enough for me, but as I like to try and paint a fuller picture, here’s what some other people have said:
“…like Downton Abbey run by anarchists…” – Matthew Wright, Jazzwise – February 2015
“…some mad scheme…absent-mindedly applying jump leads to an unsuspecting squirrel while listening to Keith Emerson” – Stephen Graham, marlbank.net – May 2013
“….painfully danceable, cacofonically eclectic…go into the musical high [and] stay begging for mercy.” – Monika Okroj, Jazz Forum (Poland) – July 2013
“…aren’t simply challenging the definition of jazz – they’re chasing it down a side street, wrestling it to the ground and calling for back-up” – Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times (Ireland) – June 2013
Michael Valentine West is the exotic and slightly fictitious sounding name of the only living member of Twiggy and the K-Mesons as well as many other aliases (Suck Susan, The Anal Teens, Lower Third, Mikimo Sosumi…etc). He is a multi instrumentalist, singer and producer and sometime model. Previous lives have included such diversions as being a member of Modified Toy Orchestra and receiving “runner up single of the week” in the NME for “We Are The Boredom” (Twiggy And The K-Mesons). Working with acoustic elements and occasional glitch-electronica, part future-funk and part porno-pop, his music has been revised and sharpened to an intellectually refined point which is then ever so gently plunged deep into the brain of the listener and wiggled about. This is broken music for people with working minds and beneath the cold aggressive abstractions a warm human heart beats. A rare opportunity to see him perform in such an unusual location.
Described as “majestically insane” and “barely contained chaos”, 7shades were originally formed in 2013 to pay tribute to the music of Tim Smith and Cardiacs, by playing all original material that aims to capture some of their unique (and much-missed) spirit. Psychedelic, punk, prog & pop in roughly equal measures, and taking in a wealth of other influences along the way, the end result is a devastatingly energetic live show that should appeal to anyone with a love for unusual music played with conviction by people who really should know better!
Too often with improvisational music the reality falls short of the fantasy – usually because it’s being made by people who are happy to sound mediocre – but ZOFFF have managed to circumvent this potential pitfall by gathering together musicians with a pedigree in experimental and psychedelic music that is second to none, and with inter-band communication that borders on the telepathic (if not the clinically insane). Mind-melting guaranteed.
One of our favourite performers from early Paradoxes where he played a spine-tingling solo set, we’ve been trying to get Joel back for a couple of years, but such is his talent he’s very in demand – so we’re chuffed that he’s able to make it this year, and double-chuffed that he will have a new band alongside him to help present his beautiful songs in their full glory. Not to be missed.
Recent 6Music appearances are starting to give Clowwns the traction they deserve in this fickle and cut-throat business we call music, but they’re not letting it go to their heads, instead focussing on continuing to be one of the best live bands out there. “They are manic, visceral, sexy post-punk-art-glam rock with probably the most intelligent, literate singer since Howard Devoto. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you, CLOWWNS. They come to save us from dull indie, heritage rock and low IQ Pop. The last great post-punk band” – Louder Than War
It’s not often I book a band that is so new that not only do they not have ANY kind of internet presence for me to point you at, but also I haven’t even got a picture so I’ve had to cobble one together from some images I found on Google. But when I tell you that this band is comprised of Bic Hayes (Cardiacs, Dark Star, Levitation, Mikrokosmos) and Jo Spratley (Spratley’s Japs) then you might forgive me for a degree of lenience in pressuring them for anything to prove their ‘worth’…their previous collaborative projects speak for themselves. There is however a video linked to from their name above, taken at one of the few live performances they have done so far as MUMMY. Stripped back but angular psychedelia with expansive tendencies. Yummy.
Some of you will have seen Mr Scott Rimington slicing brains clean open with his band Mother at the last Unorthodox Paradox. The Gathering Doubt, however, were how I first came to hear his work, and I was blown away from the start. His unique angular guitar style and scything tone combine with a knack for penning deceptively catchy tunes to demand your attention!
Stereoscope shape subtle gradations between tenement doom psychedelia and mechanoid soul extroversion, trimmed with skimming electro-textures. Ironically positive vocal drawl-raps meet up with a lurking analogue synth pessimism and crash-stepping drums. Stereoscope offer layered electro-bullishness driven by insistent snare-lashes, panting, scaly oscillations, barely governed by dance-floor-inviting syncopations.
Another welcome return to Unorthodox Paradox, Leicestershire’s Colossloth makes psychogeographic maladies and invocations to warm the heart of the discerning and intrepid psychonaut. Phonic seeds planted in blackened soil fertilised by visceral imagination. A fugitive ambience for those seeking solace in the unexpected. From supporting the likes of Tim Hecker and Wrangler, Colossloth’s music alternates between the brooding and abrasive to the transcendental and enchanted. With nods to a multitude of genres – from industrial and ethnic tribalism to caustic electronica, it’s spirit can be found crucified in between the anode and cathode of occult circuitry, transmitting across modern England whispered messages from the lips of the old gods of Albion.
In danger of becoming Unorthodox Paradox’s ‘house band’ (although whether the danger lies with them or you, you’ll have to be the judge), Night Trips are a delirious journey into a world where Mark E Smith is funny and won’t hit you. Occasionally bringing to mind Stereolab, other times Stranglers, elsewhere Joy Division – but more usually nothing you can quite put your finger on. What a doss.
Perhaps best known as the leader, conductor and principal composer of the North Sea Radio Orchestra, in Arch Garrison Craig Fortnam allows himself the opportunity to investigate a modern vision of English folk music – steeped in tradition, but presented with a style that could only exist in this century. A formidable guitarist, Arch Garrison prove that less can be more, and that our limitations are often the very things that set us free.
They say – “Bellyeyesmile create a carnivalesque sense of uneasy Prog, Punk and Psychedelic euphoria that subverts and liberates the assumptions of the dominant, through that unique blend of joy and chaos. The live shows having been likened to a band playing their way through a maelstrom, as they rely on sheer optimism and self-assurance to reach the end.”
I say – “Which would all count for little if they didn’t have THE TUNES. But they do, oh yes.” Can’t wait to see them, I think a blistering live performance is a given…
Sproatly Smith play psychedelic tinged, bucolic folk music, inspired by folklore and their Herefordshire landscape and traditions, incorporating modern and exotic instrumentation. Live, they utilise double bass, drum kit and percussion, plus varied strange instruments to compliment alluring female singing.
With and eye and ear for the surreal and psychedelic, Emily has previously graced the stage at Unorthodox Paradox both on her own and with frequent collaborator Angeline Morrison. We welcome her back this year to present her own fragile yet rich musings on the peculiarities, absurdities and dark beauty of this planet that surrounds us.
We were lucky enough to catch this amazing Worcester duo supporting Three Trapped Tigers a couple of months back, and were so impressed that we spoke to them straight away about playing at Paradox. A hefty combination of drums and baritone guitar, these guys make a noise much bigger than you’d expect, yet their chops are pin sharp. Moving deftly and confidently from intricate unison riffing to balls out rock roar this isn’t music for chinstrokers, rather appealing to those that enjoy a visceral edge to get their teeth into…
Mutated pop songs courtesy of David Sheridon & Debz ‘Love’ Lewis (The Spencers), I suggested that they sound how Abba might have done if they had discovered distortion & drugs. They seemed happy enough with that, and I certainly am.
Mank is the ambient electronic project of Ben Powell, based in North Wales. Ben has been recording as Mank since 1998 releasing “homemade” CD’s on his Mankymusic label. Influenced by nature and maths the music is computer based, combining field recordings with real and virtual instruments. Ben works as a ship based technician for Bangor University so ends up using some exclusive recording locations – several releases were recorded whist on board polar research ships at the North Pole, most of the music was written at sea. Appropriately glacial music, that is however surprisingly warm, these are tunes to envelope yourself in…