Track of the Day #11: Irma Vep - Executioner Blues

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The majority of the music that gets submitted to (but not necessarily played on) my show has all the threat and danger of one of Laura Ashley's more moderate fabrics. The wardens have taken over the asylum - and most of the beds are empty.

You might think that this is a good thing. It's not a particularly bad thing that nice sounds can get played on my show, then filter through to other shows on BBC Radio Wales, or 6 Music, or Radio 1, or Radio 2. But rock 'n' roll - and I'd still much rather call this thing rock 'n' roll than partition it off into 'alternative' or 'dance' or a welter of sub genres like the signs above aisles in a supermarket - should push the envelope.

In fact, it's the brave, devil may care people who are prepared to tear that envelope up that stops music from becoming as predictable and mundane as - well - an envelope.

Off kilter minds working at the periphery, corrupting mainstream music, is what has kept rock 'n' roll - all music - moving forwards and outwards. It just seems to me that most of the music-related media have lost their signal to those operating in witchspace.

We need to maintain contact with those brave, contrary, mad souls - we really do. They stretch the moribund, they're the storm that blows music out of the doldrums. They keep things exciting - because once rock 'n' roll loses its ability to surprise, shock or upset, it really is time to find it a plot of land and stick up a headstone.

Here Lies Rock 'N' Roll - 1955-2013.
Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory.
Rest In Peace.

We don't want peace, do we? I don't. Mileage may vary with my neighbours.

Llanfairfechan's Irma Vep isn't interested in getting a branded play on the radio. He won't be attending any workshops to learn how to buff his edges so that he fits the mould. He's about as ironic as a slow death. His songs sound like all of the bile from the bottom of the soul coughed up and spewed into your ear. It's beautiful, unsettling, opaque, poetic, a sound of darkness in a room delicately lit by energy saver bulbs in soft pastel hues.

His new single, Executioner Blues, echoes Robert Johnson - but in a way that's more honest and telling than, say, The White Stripes. It has more real, multidimensional reverberations of Joy Division than Savages' laminated version of the same. It'd lead you down a path towards the Birthday Party. It's the Marquis De Sade to EL James. But mostly - and most importantly - it is entirely the vision of its progenitor, Edwin Stevens.

And in a morning where I've already listened to 68 demo submissions: 18 of which *still* sound like Arctic Monkeys' leaky catheter; 19 of which are as convincing as an Adele wannabe's cheap, backcombed hair piece; 23 of which have Mumford-itis - stirring choruses, acoustic guitars, and not one single thing to say with any conviction or originality either lyrically or musically; 8 of which were made by people trying to make modern computers sound like DX7's frottaging 909's - well after all of that safety, this sounds like a rickety wooden rollercoaster - that hasn't been Health and Safety-certificated to thrill-less-ness - reaching the top of its ascent and plunging straight down into the depths of hell.

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