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ROC – The Servant Jazz Quarters, London, 21st October 2014

ROC col print 02 37 300At this back street drinking den, The Servant Jazz Quarters, we make our way downstairs, Margarita in hand, we are just in time to see O’Connell & Love, brilliantly political country music venture between Larry Love and Brendon O’Connell.

ROC have just recently re-released their album ROC on Metal Postcard, the album first came to our attention in 1996, these post-modern, multi media, scientific sound designs and left field happenings, are headed up by Karen Sheridan (vocals), Patrick Nicholson (guitar, keys, sound-effects, backing tracks) and Fred Browning (guitar and vocals).

As we take a walk back to the 90s, expect whimsical dreams, musings, internalized thoughts externalized, laid back happenings, dreams, desired and past, future prayers open and vulnerable. It is like the cassette recording of a mind wandering, searching for existentialist recognition in these avant-garde style musings. Karen and Fred in equal parts take us through these moments of reflection, like a disorderly cassette tape, escaped and dis-embodied from the tape deck, effecting and reflecting everyday life issues, although quite coherently.

‘Cheryl’ is a pop comic book riot grrrll style, tank girl envisaged, thinking again, ‘you had me spinning’, drums crunching, whirring, backing tracks disrupt thoughts, ‘stop saying all the things you say, go go go goooooo’, words hurled into the meta-sphere, acid house beats and wah wah pedal compete for effects, in these sci-fi pop, explosions.

‘Sea of Storms’, crashes in with a more poetic style of lyrics, similar to Patti Smith or Nico, Karen’s vocals leap out of a screeching into this startling storm, ‘whatever life there is casts shadows on the walls tonight.’  In this electronic futuristic jazz sound, ‘I found a piece of you inside me,’ resonates, with those moments of someone you find inside your self, left behind years later, when you thought they were not you and you were not them long ago. Fred Browning’s vocals add a certain hush, as they sway atmospherically, whilst these scientists of sound create moments and sounds that wash around you, as if you were in a storm at sea, meditative and calm, whilst oceans leap all around creating textures in the night. Patrick, on backing track, disrupts, as recordings break through, film broadcasts and newsreels.

Their last song, possibly their most celebrated, ‘Hey You Chick’ focuses on more wistful meditations, as Karen Sheridan leads the set, the three musketeers surrounding her, hitting the riffs on guitar, providing the soundtrack to her thoughts, almost country and western style turned pop, twangy guitar, digital beatings, a certain swing in the step. Bjork style fluffy clouds pass by, as she continues, ‘hey you chick, hey you chick, hey hey hey’.  Karen’s voice, as musical instrument, among these futuristic sound designs. Like a shiny emollient blue 7 inch vinyl whirring around, ‘hey yooouuuu chick..’ providing the perfect soundtrack to the general discourse of your mind.

We are reminded of an idealistic time of 90s progressive zeal and soft radical anarchy, in juxtaposition to the political reflections of O’Connell and Love, or a more raging storm to come. These post-modern, futuristic offerings of ROC are something certainly worth checking out on the re-released album, ROC, and judging by the new track, ‘Chateau’, this new direction, where Roots Manuva meets The Bee Gees, the next EP is going to be a good one.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.