Meltdown

Oh Big Chill how you’ve grown. It doesn’t seem like 10/15 years since I was lounging on a mattress in the Union Chapel surrounded by people in tie dye and the whiff of wacky backy at the early Big Chill club nights. Now there are bars, like the very swish Big Chill House in Kings Cross, and at the very moment this gig takes place a few thousand people are listening to three days worth of the musical descendants of trip hop at the hugely successful Big Chill Festival in the Malvern Hills.

Not only that but a visit to The Big Chill House is educational too. Tonight alone I learnt.

1. 30% of women find it difficult to master the technique involved in peeing standing up.

2. The world would be a better place if I owned more 1950’s records consisting entirely of single entendres comparing how much the singers lady likes his 10″…..record.

3. “Puddle City Racing Lights” by Windmill is one of the best LP’s I’ve heard this year.

I’ll return to some of that later, but this UK launch of “La Route Du Rock” (a French music festival) offers a chance to catch a low key solo performance by Matthew Dillon’s Windmill. His debut album “Puddle City Racing Lights” would be a shoe-in for the Mercury Music prize if the judges had any sense, but arriving at the Big Chill house things don’t look too promising. The bars almost empty, there’s a keyboard in the corner, but otherwise no sign or posters or anything that might suggest a band is on. Certainly no sign that its the UK launch of “La Route Du Rock“. The bar staff were equally non plussed… “I’m not sure, there was a band on earlier, and there might be a couple later. No idea what they’re called though sorry“!

Fortunately I vaguely recognised Dillon arriving with a few friends to boost the numbers present to almost double figures. What’s wrong with London when one of the most promising acts to come from these shores in years plays a free gig on a Sunday evening and the crowd consists of me, a few of his friends, the next act, and the two people running the raffle!

I fucking understand

Having missed the full band Windmill experience last month due to a slightly manic drive back from a Spanish music festival I was eager to find out how the songs would sound stripped down from the HUGE recorded sound to their bare bones. Members of The Earlies helped to produce the Windmill album, and in doing so repeated the breathtaking job they did on Micah P Hinson’s debut (which remains one of my all time favourites). If you’re a up and coming singer songwriter wanting to create a debut people will treasure for life, my advice is to beg, bribe or if necessary kidnap The Earlies.

Dillons high pitched American sounding wail is often given as the reason people don’t “get” Windmill, but my advice would be to listen to the record at least twice, before filing it away in the “like nails on a blackboard” bin. It’ll reward the effort ten fold.
With only Cellist Sara Rees as accompaniment tonight, those distinctive vocals stand out even more, especially as he speaks “normally” in between the songs. This comes as a shock comparable to hearing Pam St Clement’s talk for real, away from her Pat Butcher “I Luv you Frannnkk” character, and sounding the spit of the queens long lost sister.

Without their pomp, songs that were less obvious on record come to the fore. “Asthmatic“, blessed as it is with a keyboard riff pilfered from Meat Loaf while his back was turned is particularly fine. “Newsflash” “Tokyo Moon” and current single “Fit” are as good as you’d expect, while the broken hearted album closer “Replace Me” sounds closest to its recorded version, and is as affecting as ever. According to interviews Dillon has 2000 songs stored in his attic, and one such demo stood out as much as any of the released material. “Restaurant Tiles” is a bleak but beautiful song featuring Matthew’s vocals cracking as he pleads:

“Don’t put it past me to understand,
I fucking understand that it’s, Coming to an end” – Restaurant Tiles lyrics

Cheery stuff, but if there are more songs this good to come, the second Windmill LP could surpass even the debut. This pared down performance equally bodes well for the full Windmill show, especially with a bigger band capable of recreating the amazing sound of the album.

It was only once Windmill had left the stage that the “La Route Du Rock” organisers sprung into action, with posters, and a raffle (most of them had been watching Windmill). Meanwhile the DJ got my attention with some fabulous double entendre based Rhythm & Blues. “Big Ten Inch Record” is essentially a one joke record, based on Bull Moose Jackson proclaiming how much his woman likes his big ten inch (… cue comic pause…) record playing on the stereo. Its daft smut, but guaranteed to put a smile on the face, and with the horn section in full effect get people on the dance floor too.

Although I didn’t stop for the raffle I did get a free DVD with my ticket. “The Future for less” a film which it says here is a “idiosyncratic mythological parable where the rhetoric’s of subversion and homogeneity are equated as a cultic-reveloutionary B-movie farce based around Ikea and flat pack construction“. With a tag line like that I understandably rushed home immediately, pausing only to grab a free magazine for perusal on the tube.

I’m not sure if AMP minizine (Tagline “It’s The Tits”) is a feminist or lesbian magazine, but it kept me entertained with a odd feature on why women should pee standing up, and how best to do it. Apparently its all about strong kegal muscles! It may not have been entirely serious (although a paper funnel is available should you wish to have a go. Perfect for women in the military it claims :s).

Anyway returning swiftly to the music, Windmill, best new band of 2007, album of the year, and as I turn the pages ipod in ears, as good a soundtrack as any for reading about ladies pissing standing up.

Windmill

Myspace / Windmill demo’s / Windmill on the road Myspace

Listen:

Windmill – Asthmatic” (MP3)

Windmill – “Restaurant Tiles (Demo)Visit here for free download

Bull Moose Jackson – Big Ten Inch Record” (MP3)

Buy:

Debut album “Puddle City Racing Lights” – £8 P+P inc from Play

Watch:

Windmill TV Channel on YouTube

Windmill live on Channel M’s “City Centre Social – worth it for the host alone (cringes).

Windmill – “Fit” (YouTube)

Read:

Matthew Dillon talks about his musical notebooks.

Excellent interview with Lunapark6.