There’s a difficult choice here.  Metamono are a group/collective partly consisting of ex-Shamen and Bomb the Bass personnel and they have a manifesto.  Before we go any further, it’s probably a good idea to have a look at it; it won’t take long.  You can see it here:  The difficult choice is whether to talk about the music or the manifesto; ok, manifesto it is.

The basic premise is that digital technology is making music flaccid and predictable and I’ve got a lot of sympathy with that; before sampling, you would have asked a musician to play something which fitted in with the piece you were creating but now you just sample something, timestretch it and slot it in.  So far, so good.  The Metamono response to this situation is to impose strict limitations on the way their music is created and use these restrictions to ensure that creativity becomes more important than technology; again, I have a bit less sympathy with that position but then we get to the details of the creative restrictions.The first restriction is a bit of a strange one; Metamono will not use microphones.  It’s strange because microphones aren’t digital technology and they predate the analogue synthesisers which Metamono feature by about a century.  Even the industry standard Shure SM58 was launched in1966, about 5 years before analogue synthesisers appeared on the commercial market.  Maybe I’m being a bit pedantic, but why is not using microphones a big deal, particularly when there aren’t any vocals?  And how did they record the voiceover for the manifesto?

On to the rest of the manifesto; no digital sound sources or sampling, no mechanical sound generation or digital processing, no overdubs or remixes and digital processing and editing will only be used when no alternative is available.  Composing and mixing will be done simultaneously and only previously-used or home-made instruments will be used.  There’s also a reference to not being afraid of mono.  Ok, that’s enough of the manifesto for now.  The first full-scale Metamono release, the “Tape EP”, is out on October 31 as a 10-inch single and download, so what’s it like?

There are 4 tracks; XeF4, H2NS, Metahaze and Emptygamezone and they all sound a bit like you would expect them to sound if you had read the manifesto.  There are strong suggestions of Kraftwerk and Sheffield in the ‘80s.  It’s very atmospheric; H2NS sounds like wandering through a disused warehouse in the dark with water leaking through the roof, while Metahaze has the feel of a car journey through a busy city at night with a dub reggae bass in the background.  The EP as a whole sounds something like a little-known 1990 Rough Trade EP “Journey Through the New York Underground” by Metro with a few more unvarnished edges and corners; it’s certainly worth a listen if you want something a bit out of the ordinary.

Which brings us back to the manifesto again.  I’m always a bit uncomfortable with any artistic work which is made in accordance with a strict set of rules, particularly when the manifesto isn’t particularly consistent.  In this case, the use of some digital technology and the refusal to use perfectly acceptable analogue technology seems a bit perverse.  Popular music has evolved by adapting new technologies such as multi-track recording, amplification and sampling and finding creative uses for them.  It’s inevitable that these technologies will have a honeymoon period where they are over-used (Autotune for example) before becoming just another tool in the musician or producer’s box.  At a time when digital technology is now producing results which are comparable to analogue, it seems a strange to restrict your music making to purely analogue techniques.

17 years since Love and Money broke up, apparently for good, they’re back. After reforming for a one-off show as part of Celtic Connections 2001 to play their albums “Strange Kind of Love” and “Dogs in the Traffic”, the band decided that it worked so well they should take the show out on tour. Which is why I’m at Shepherd’s Bush Empire with PlusOne to watch Love and Money in London.

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of Scots in the audience which is fiercely and vociferously partisan. The venue isn’t quite full, but the enthusiasm on display more than makes up for that; they’re all here to see the band triumph.

This is the classic Love and Money line-up with the addition of Ewen Vernal (ex-Deacon Blue among others on bass) and the wonderful Frazer Spiers on harmonica and backing vocals and they’re obviously up for a good show.

The musicianship is exceptional throughout as the band do their bit to showcase the well-crafted songs, James Grant’s baritone vocals and exceptional guitar work. James Grant is the perfect frontman; stick-thin, suited, in shades and able to entertain the audience between songs with stories about BB King, Tina Turner, Simply Red and his dad’s life in Glasgow.

The night is split into 2 halves. The first half is the whole of the 1991 album “Dogs in the Traffic”, which the band obviously feel is slightly less popular, followed, after the interval, by all of “Strange Kind of Love”. Whatever the band might think, there are plenty of highlights in the first half including “Whisky Dream” and the anthemic “Looking for Angeline”. “Pappa Death” shines out from the set as a song which was made for live performance; the album version seems insipid in comparison with version delivered tonight.

The “Strange Kind of Love” half of the performance features all the tracks except one from the album. The squeaky-clean, shimmering Gary Katz production of the album is impossible to recreate live, so the songs are much more raw, but no worse for that, relying on great playing rather than studio expertise. It’s difficult to pick out highlights because the performances are all great but the audience are all shouting for the big single “Jocelyn Square” and it’s a huge moment when the guitar intro finally kicks in and the band launch into a powerful version of a great song about lost love and innocence.

The song from the album which doesn’t feature in the set is saved for the encore; “Walk the Last Mile” is dedicated to the late Bobby Paterson, former bass player with band who died in 2006. It’s a touching tribute to a great musician, who is obviously still missed by the rest of the band. Throughout the evening James Grant makes references to Love and Money working together again and confirms this towards the end of the set, announcing a new album and full UK tour next year. The band go out on “Candybar Express”, which James Grant describes as “the most moronic song I ever wrote” and it’s all over.

Love and Money are back, they’re as good as they ever were and they’re recording new material. If you like songs that are well written and well performed with a nice line in Glasgow patter between songs, then you really should get out to see these guys next year.

How many times have you read an interview with a musician that started with the words “I caught up with…”?  Are musicians so elusive, or is the interviewer admitting to stalking their subject over a period of years and finally running them to ground backstage at Shepherds Bush Empire or Rock City?  It sounds like it’s really difficult to get an interview with a musician but anyone promoting a new album will offer body parts on Ebay to get a bit of publicity for their masterwork.  If a journalist opened a piece by saying that they’d caught up with Usain Bolt or Mo Farah, I’d be impressed, but a chain-smoking, nocturnal  guitarist isn’t quite in the same league.

So it’s journalistic shorthand, isn’t it? Or maybe journalistic laziness, but you wouldn’t find it in the quality music press, would you?  Just have a look at any recent copy of NME or Q.  How about the phrase “long-awaited”? You see it all the time, but what does it really mean?  It means that the minders finally got all of the band members together at the same time, relatively clean and sober, and persuaded them to knock off a dozen songs to cobble together a follow-up to their critically-acclaimed first album released 3 years ago.  Long-awaited by a multinational media company desperate to recoup their initial investment before the talent dries up or dies.  After waiting nearly 3 years for the follow-up to “Hotel California”, Asylum Records sent the Eagles a rhyming dictionary to help them with the album that became “The Long Run”.  What a waste of 15 dollars.

“Long-awaited” also has 2 illegitimate siblings, “comeback” and “return to form”.  A comeback is the last-chance saloon before doing the package tour nostalgia circuit and shouldn’t be confused with the contractual obligation greatest hits album and tour which is designed to wring out every last bit of revenue before the fanbase grows up or moves on to the next phenomenon.  A return to form means that the artist is out of rehab/a psychiatric institution/prison/the clutches of an anorexic junkie supermodel or any combination of the above and has managed to wring out a couple of songs which are vaguely listenable.

Another pair of journalistic siblings are “-indebted” and “-influenced”, as in Beatles-indebted or Smiths-influenced.  This is really simple; the songwriter has absolutely no original ideas and shamelessly rips off riffs and lyrics which have already been successful for other bands.  The second Duffy album might or might not be an example of this kind of opportunism, I couldn’t comment.

And what about those old favourites,” idiosyncratic” and “experimental”?  These words are journalistic code for the unlistenable output of artists investing all of their royalties in recreational substances or the latest musical version of the Emperor’s new clothes.  You’ll probably see “challenging” make an appearance as well, as the journalist implies that only an insider with outstanding musical taste can fully understand the genius of the artist being dissected.

And what about tributes when someone dies?  Why is it we always get a flood of tributes?  Shouldn’t it be a gush?