2011 Easter Music Picture Quiz: winner and answers

There were over 300 page views of my 2011 Easter music picture quiz, but out of all those people only one could be bothered to enter – the ever-reliable and knowledgeable Maximilian Spiegel of Vienna, who scored 19 out of 20 and wins a small pile of CDs for his trouble. Given the almost total lack of interest shown, I won’t be running this quiz again.

The correct answers were:

1. Van der Graaf Generator
2. Cowboy Junkies
3. Fairport Convention
4. Tindersticks
5. The Hold Steady
6. Yes
7. Tortoise
8. Saint Etienne
9. The Thing
10. My Bloody Valentine
11. Throbbing Gristle
12. Naked Lunch
13. 10,000 Maniacs
14. Slowdive
15. AMM
16. The Albion Band
17. Cocteau Twins
18. King Crimson
19. Spacemen 3
20. Low

2011 Easter Music Picture Quiz

Once again I’m running a music picture quiz to keep your little minds ticking over during the Easter holidays. This year the theme is groups. Some of them are easy, some are hard and one or two of them I think are downright impossible. Identify the 20 groups below and send me your answers (using the form below) by the closing date of Easter Monday, 25 April. There might be a CD or two for the person who gets the most correct answers. Thank you and goodnight.

The competition is now closed, winner and answers here.









































Mats Gustafsson/Martin Siewert/dieb13, Vienna Rhiz, 4 April 2011; Frode Gjerstad Trio with Mats Gustafsson, Vienna Blue Tomato, 14 April 2011

In my review of a concert by Fire Room last year, I bemoaned the fact that there is hardly any crossover between the scenes at the Rhiz and the Blue Tomato, Vienna’s kindred temples to electronic music and free jazz. The observation is no less valid now than it was a year ago. Despite the genial management of Herbie and Günter respectively, and despite the many obvious similarities between these styles of music, it’s rare to see either artists or audience members from one place showing up at the other. So it was a great pleasure to see Mats Gustafsson, who along with people like Ken Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love is by now part of the furniture at the Tomato, turning up for what I believe was his first ever appearance at the Rhiz. The gig cemented an association with Austrian guitarist Martin Siewert that goes back to at least last summer, when Siewert’s Heaven And played the closing set at the Gustafsson-curated Konfrontationen festival, and was bolstered last December when the saxophonist joined Siewert for a frenzied blowout at Heaven And’s gig at the Künstlerhaus.

There’s clearly an affinity between the two, then, and it’s fascinating to hear how Gustafsson responds to the presence of another, very different-sounding, lead instrument as opposed to the rhythmic core of double bass and drums he lines up against in The Thing and other groups. On this occasion the duo were joined by turntable and electronics merchant Dieter Kovačič (dieb13), whose malevolent drone-based activity formed a disquieting accompaniment to the guitar and reeds. It was a short set, only 40 minutes or so, but there was still a vast amount going on here. Gustafsson spent most of the set on the deep, resonant baritone sax, switching occasionally to the rare slide sax. Throwing himself into the performance with his usual relish, Gustafsson made the Rhiz his own, challenged only by the endlessly vital and inventive guitar work of Siewert. The guitarist was, as ever, a joy to watch as he moved fluidly between acoustic, electric and tabletop modes; he peels off sheets of squally, thunderous attack with the deranged instinct of Robert Fripp, but trades Fripp’s frosty demeanour for a wholly persuasive openness and sense of fun.

Just over a week later, Gustafsson was the unannounced surprise guest at a gig at the Blue Tomato by the Frode Gjerstad Trio, an all-Norwegian unit consisting of the eponymous Gjerstad on reeds, Jon Rune Strom on double bass and the ubiquitous Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. The first set consisted of the trio only, and it was a pleasure for me to hear Gjerstad play for the first time. Less cerebral than Vandermark, less visceral than Gustafsson or Brötzmann, the saxophonist eschewed a barnstorming approach in favour of clear, ringing lines on alto and clarinet that allowed the bass and drums plenty of space to work their magic. Nilssen-Love’s complex polyrhythms were as brilliant as ever, while Strom was a constantly forceful presence on the low end.

After the interval Gustafsson took up his tenor and Gjerstad immediately deferred to the guest, who laid waste to the room with a long and devastating solo. Things never really let up from that point on. The two reedsmen’s techniques and registers complemented each other beautifully, with Gjerstad’s light and nimble colourations set off against Gustafsson’s fearsomely powerful mid-range assault. This was my last visit to the Tomato before their well-deserved summer break; I’m sure, though, that there will be plenty more such mesmerizing evenings before 2011 is out.

Naked Lunch, Vienna Stadtsaal, 11 April 2011

I was hoping this would be a proper Naked Lunch concert, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. What we got instead was a kind of showcase for their latest project, soundtracking a new theatrical adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel Amerika. The full production is currently underway in the group’s home town of Klagenfurt; I’m not sure what the deal there is exactly, but I assume they’re playing along to the action much as they did when they performed their live soundtrack to the film Universalove. Those of us in Vienna will have to make do for now with this curious hybrid, at which the group performed only the nine songs from the play, accompanied by a cast of walk-on guests and preceded by a lengthy reading from the novel.

It was great, of course, but it was also a touch insubstantial, and I really hope that after this second successive audio-visual project Naked Lunch get back to being a rock band again. It’s been four years since their last masterpiece This Atom Heart of Ours, and a new album consisting of full band versions of the new songs Oliver Welter premiered at the Radiokulturhaus last year is sorely awaited around these parts. A brief word with Welter after the gig confirmed that such a thing is on its way later this year.

Anyway, tonight’s performance confirmed my long-held view that Naked Lunch are a highly creative outfit with a spiky and uncompromising approach to songcraft. The opening song of the piece, “Let Me Walk Upon The Water”, sets the melancholy tone, with Welter’s haunting and troubled voice framed by Stefan Deisenberger’s desolate keyboard melody. “Fight Club” sees the group hit an angry and convulsive seam, Welter’s vocal swelled by urgent choral backing.

It’s that razor-sharp interplay between voices and instruments that makes this music so compelling, and this was never truer tonight than on “The Tramp”, with its smart lyrical flourishes and impertinently perfect chorus. I have no idea if the English-speaking world will ever wake up to the brilliance of Naked Lunch. As I’ve said before, though, their loss is very much Austria’s gain.

Lloyd Cole, Vienna Casino Baumgarten, 5 April 2011

Lloyd Cole was one of those artists (Suzanne Vega being another; see here for that particular story) whose music accompanied me through my student years. This is no great surprise, of course, since Cole was one of the quintessential British student favourites of the 1980s. Along with groups like the Cocteau Twins, whom I also loved, and the Smiths, whom I greatly disliked, Cole’s three albums with the Commotions must have drifted from more cheap stereos, down more hall of residence corridors, than any other records from that era.

As always, I was playing catch-up. I didn’t cotton on to Cole until 1987’s Mainstream, doubling back later to Rattlesnakes and Easy Pieces. Mainstream seems to be the least regarded of the three, but it’s always been my favourite, being the one where Cole cast off much of his hipster jangle and turned towards a more mature, sombre form of songwriting. And in “From The Hip” and “29” Cole produced what I still think are his two greatest songs. Wistful, troubled and achingly tender, they flagged the direction in which his music would go in later years.

The 1990s was a decade of two halves for Cole (he would no doubt prefer a golfing metaphor to a footballing one, but I know little and care less about the sport). After putting out four fine albums in the first half of the decade, he then released no new material at all in the second half of it. Those four records, though, make up a body of work that for my money is even stronger than the Commotions records. The wit and sparkle were still there, but they were tempered by a certain melancholy and by a leaner, more organic sound that I found, and still find, immensely appealing.

I’ve never exactly got on with Lloyd Cole live, though. The first time I saw him would have been in 1990, when I took my then girlfriend to see him at the Dome in Brighton. I made the mistake of booking front row tickets at this seated venue and was expecting to be able to sit there and watch the gig in tranquillity, not bargaining on the entirely understandable and predictable behaviour of the majority of the audience to rush to the front. I remember thinking that while the performance itself was fine Cole suffered from a distinct lack of onstage charisma, something I’ve also felt every time I’ve seen him since.

The late 1990s must have been a lean time indeed for Cole, as I recall seeing him play a lacklustre solo set to a non-paying crowd of pissed-up expats in an Aussie bar in west London around that time. Thankfully, matters had improved by the next time I saw him on the Commotions reunion tour in 2004, when they played the whole of Rattlesnakes to a large and appreciative audience. Cole managed to elude me from that day until earlier this week, when he rolled up in Vienna with his Small Ensemble.

Once again I had no problems at all with the performance. Cole is a beautiful singer; his voice has this amber quality that, in the pinsharp acoustics of this space, was immediately and deeply affecting. His texts lift the songs away from the humdrum confessional sphere and towards profound emotional territory, while his guitar and those of his two bandmates (who occasionally turned to banjo or mandolin) sparkled like sunrays on calm water. Between songs, however, he was dutiful and perfunctory, only getting really animated when sharing some private joke with the other two. The old routine about having a new album out (“and it’s available just over there!”) was dusted off numerous times and quickly became tiresome, while other attempts at humour fell totally flat: “we could have brought someone on tour with us to tune our guitars, but then we’d have to sit down and eat with him every night” – yeah right, Lloyd, whatever.

At the end of the day, then, it’s a good thing that Lloyd Cole is a singer and not a stand-up comedian. His songs have that rare, precious quality of being beautifully crafted yet fizzing with warmth, energy and good humour. And with a total of 28 songs receiving an airing tonight (although nothing from Mainstream, sadly), no-one, least of all me, could complain of being short-changed.