Big Block 454 | Bratislava

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UK - England - North West

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Rock: Kraut Rock Rock: Experimental Rock Moods: Mood: Weird
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Bratislava

by Big Block 454

Post-rock surrealism meets Krautrock meets downright Northern English stupidity, a fascinating and sometimes scary world where you wander through someone elses dreams and nightmares, funny and frightening in different places.
Genre: Rock: Kraut Rock
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Motor Cycle Au Pair Boy
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4:16 $0.49
2. Anglezarke
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3:43 $0.49
3. I Rue the Day I Went to Bratislava
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2:09 $0.49
4. Hi, Lax Old Medic!
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4:36 $0.49
5. I Was Arthur Brown's Health & Safety Advisor (On Power Lines)
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3:18 $0.49
6. Lush Ulan Bator
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4:21 $0.49
7. Foreign Aeroplanes Upset Sleeping Tirana
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3:46 $0.49
8. Three Sevens Clash
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2:15 $0.49
9. Melamine
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2:53 $0.49
10. Upside-down & Dirty
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3:40 $0.49
11. Ouspensky's Cellar
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2:49 $0.49
12. Packing Away
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4:28 $0.49
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Big Block 454 is a semi-amorphous post-modern / situationist neo-dada cross-platform compositional construct from Manchester, England (featuring people from Liverpool, Leeds and Lincolnshire).
Over the years, Big Block 454 have unleashed a series of albums and multi-media happenings upon an unsuspecting public, combining influences such as Faust, Can, Brian Eno, The Residents, the Bonzo Dog Band, King Crimson and the BBC Radiophonics Workshop - surrealism meets Krautrock meets downright Northern stupidity. We play whatever we bloody well like, alright?
Big Block 454 have worked on multi-media projects with famed dada artist Russell Mills, and have been championed by such people as the BBC\'s Stuart Maconie and Sunday Times writer/comedian Stewart Lee.
Big Block 454 have guested on Stuart Maconie\'s BBC 6 Music radio show The Freak Zone. Stuart said, after playing \"I name this child Acker Bilk\", \"we\'re all pretty much agreed here that that was genius... terrific stuff.\"
Reviewers have said :
\"this excellent album / outrageously funky / moments of real beauty / strange humour. \"
\"brilliant arrangements, well engineered... humbling, really, and very imaginative as well.\"
\"ethereal, stripped down beauty / sublime trippy ambient loveliness / owls quarrelling in a bicycle factory / the music sounds as if Fela Kuti has been taken hostage by a convention of table tennis enthusiasts / a great release and one you should hunt down without delay.\"
\"fascinating and sometimes scary world / wander through someone elses dreams and nightmares, funny and frightening ... uneasy listening, sub-genre fractured genius.\"
An American fan said:
\"I will treasure the experience of hearing Big Block 454 for a very long time. Actually, I\'m not quite sure the effects will ever wear off. What I felt was on the same level of intensity as my first read of Naked Lunch, my first view of Eraserhead or the time my music professor played Bartok on a Steinway baby in our classroom with tears in his eyes.\"


Reviews


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Big Block 454

Review on Manchester Music website
When the MM website first started up at the end of the 90’s, a bizarre collective based in Prestwich offered an album of their wild and frankly disturbing leftfield, progressive pop. I seem to remember there being a track about sausages – or something similar... Fast forward to now and this latest long player from Big Block 454 maintains this skewered intelligence and allows the low slung new wave strangeness to shine through on “Motorcycle Au Pair Boy” – can you get the flavour now ?

I for one think that the world has only just caught up and as BB454 also now take a more accessible route, this album is immensely relevant and ground breaking, given that many other (obscure and often American) bands have begun to explore similar territories. Whilst made and forged in northern England, this genre twisting affair combines the outlandish ideas of bands like The Cardiacs whilst sounding occasionally rustic, or twangy, or brittle. The superbly titled “I Was Arthur Brown’s Safety Advisor” - a fact that who knows, may well be true - provides unlikely connections between Beck and Joy Division, whilst “Lush Ulan Bator” is somewhere between Chas 'n Dave, Stereolab and Blur.

“Three Sevens Clash” is the kind of stuff John Peel would have loved – tumbling drums and sound structures that celebrate the Fall. A late 70’s splash of offset, sharp guitars create a kind of vomitting funk that allows the vocals to creep through on static breaching radio frequencies. “Upside-Down & Dirty” is the essence of Death In Vegas and the early Mute / Factory catalogue. Loads of reference points therefore, but really these are only necessary to (i) explain the competence and quality and (ii) provide the easiest way to describe the sheer diversity of this compelling group. There’s no reason why this band shouldn’t be more widely feted.


MMMM ½
By JA

Colin Robinson

Review on Progressive Ears website
Big Block 454; taking their name from a particular type of engines used in cars manufactured in the US in the past, is a UK band who's been at it for some time. According to their MySpace page they have 7 more releases under their belt - but with the tongue-in-cheek manner they present themselves, I can't vouch for the truthfulness of that fact though. Bratislava is their latest album, released in 2008.

And the dozen compositions on this CD are something special, that's for sure. Rather unique in approach, these songs are a mix of influences from all manners of music; at the least experimental they sound like a mix of Beatles, Madness and The Cramps; at their most experimental world like krautrock and avant-garde comes easily to mind.

These guys play around with sound, song structure and preconceived notions on what music should sound like. There's not much dissonance or disharmony here though, there's a focus on delivering melodies. It's all done in a very whimsical manner though; talking in the back of the song instead of regular vocals, male background choir underscoring said talking. Some regular vocals in songs that perhaps would have been best suited for talking voices, irregular song structures performed as normal tunes and vice versa.

Few facets of this release are as expected, and often they're very far from being so. This corny mix of beat, ska and kraut with punk attitudes randomly spiced with psychedelic and spacy effects in a low-fi sounding mix have two dimensions to it that really saves it from being an incomprehensible egoistical highbrow art release though, in case anyone should get this notion. Firstly these tunes are whimsical; these guys don't take themselves too seriously and whatever experiment they venture forth to perform is done with a highly tongue-in-cheek approach. They're having a lark, and want their listeners to do the same. Secondly, the overall sound here is very English. There's something extremely Wodehousean to the moods and atmospheres here without me managing to pinpointing exactly which elements responsible for this.

And frankly, I don't think this band wants their music to be analyzed too much either. This is whacky, whimsical and weird shit - but an entertaining one at that, with catchy melodies and more or less subtle details that will bring a smile to your face after a bad day at work or just a rough day in general.

If you enjoy experimental progressive rock, and appreciate a band that isn’t highbrow and deadly serious while playing it, this one should be give a shot.

My rating: 83/100

Reviewed by Windhawk

Colin Robinson

Progarchives.com - review of "Bratislava" (RIO/Avant-prog) by Torodd Fuglesteg
This is not an easy album to review...... or even listening to.

The attitude of this album is wacky British eccentrism. It is like Monty Python, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and other British humour sitcoms. Total wacky in other words.

How do I describe the music on this wacky eccentric album ? The songs is very varied from Beatles like pop to folk music, some light hearted singalong punk like Madness, rockabilly like Darts, ska, funk and avant-garde jazz. The vocals on the top of the music is wacky. The lyrics is very much down the British wackiness road. The instruments and the arrangements are very good and fitting for the tunes.

The quality is good throughout and this album is enjoyable. But there is no denying that this album is perhaps on the wacky side of wackiness. I have never heard anything like this album before in my life. But I still likes this album in all it's wackiness as much as I like Fawlty Towers and Monty Python. I am searching for words though to describe my opinion, but I cannot find them. I am therefore landing somewhere between three and four stars. But since this album is an excellent purchase for those who want to push their envelope to the maximum, I am landing on a four star just to trigger your consuming impulses.

4 stars

Reviewed by Torodd Fuglesteg.

Big Block 454

How are you finding us?
Good things come to those who make a BIG EFFORT. For some of you, this will involve crawling through mud in a debased way, or expending all your energy on hikes up impossible mountains. Why? Because Big Block 454 have secreted, like a mollusc. We have hidden copies of our album in locations throughout the UK for you to find. Or, if not you, then someone else. Once found, the album is yours to cherish. If you do find one, tell us and you will get a LOVELY SURPRISE. Really.

“But where on earth are these treasured artefacts hidden," we imagine you asking. We have clues for you. Visit our myspace page and turn your rheumy eyes to the blog section.

Oh, come on, we're not doing everything for you.

We are Big Block 454. You are a lesser creature.

Colin Robinson

Progression Magazine No.55 - review of "Bratislava"
Track 5 is entitled "I was Arthur Browns Health & Safety Advisor" The Cardiacs along with Frank Zappa, Gong, and the Residents are listed as influences. The warnings were there: Strap yourself in before playing.

Bratislava is one wild ride. Compositions are all over the place. To say the instrumentation is unorthodox would be a gross understatement. If you don't like a passage, wait a few seconds.

Dont be fooled by the opening numbers relatively straight yet humorous rock maneuvering... that just lures you in. The next tune sounds like a crossbred Sun city girls/Coyote Poets of the Universe. An Arabian acid trip would best describe track three. This is followed by an indescribable dub influenced piece with accordian and crazy mumbling.

The aforementioned "Arthur Brown" is strangely beautiful with acoustic guitar, electronics, and clattering percussion. The next cut sounds like it's lifted from one of Eno's early vocal albums! And thats just the halfway mark!

Each successive play reveals clever instrumentation and subtle background vocals. An original and enjoyable release, Bratislava is a gift that keeps on giving-- Warren Barker