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Sub Plot CD
At present, Brighton’s I’m Being Good are retreading the steps of the late, lamented American band Polvo, slinging deleriously woozy lead guitars over tightly wound, angular art-rock foundations. At a time when most British bands disport themselves in worthless second-hand signifiers, there are worse precedents to build on, and I’m Being Good are to be admired for attempting anything interesting amid a culture of Toploader NME cover stories. He Has Unborn Eyes on Long Tinsel Stalks is the highlight here, heavier than the most determined nu-metal band, yet evidencing an intelligent, focused intent.
Stewart Lee [the Sunday Times, 27.5.01]

a much darker, more tangled number that ‘poisonous life’. this CD contains 6 twisted, nervy adventures into mystery rock. possibly the only band still trying to use music as a form of expression rather than as some kind of detatched fucking genre-points scheme. i’m not saying they MEAN it, just that they FEEL it. and another thing: they ROCK.

Sub Plot CD
Here’s a tough one to review. Not because Sub Plot is anything less than a spark chasing, blister bursting slab of sonic subversion, but more because it’s easy to categorise on the one hand, and difficult to pin down on the other. Probe regulars might remember the review of I’m Being Good’s previous album, the nail peeling Poisonous Life. Sub Plot ‘s first track ‘Angels on our Shoulders’ starts in a more confident, and damn it, coherent vein. Guitars and production sound round and behaved, and it’s only after a couple of minutes in to the track that you get the first inklings that this might be a noisy album after all. Until things quieten down again. Six minutes in, and things return to hard and nasty. At which point you realise it’s been six
minutes; at least two more than is acceptable in the primordial principles of pop. And yet, it doesn’t seem that long. In a clever, confident move, I’m Being Good hold the interest long after it should have wilted away.
Things carry on in this beguiling way. ‘Kill him With War Savings’ is a riffier, brasher animal, which flops into old school hardcore, yet still sounding interesting throughout.
Some of the tuning is still odd—but not as odd as Poisonous Life—and the Truman’s Water desperate ranting has been toned down. ‘Joust’ and ‘He has Unborn Eyes on Long Tinsel Stalks’ play the loud/quiet dynamic until it has a fit and becomes something different altogether.
All in all, quite an album. It’s not a ‘YEH’ on the first few listens. It’s a real grower however; and as real growers go, it’s one of the best. On the strength of this album, I’m Being Good should be talked about in hushed tones. In upping the professionalism—a ‘drum technician’ was called in—and messing with loopy structures and odd bluish Muji/alienartwork, struggly indie art noise is given a new twist. ‘Solar System of Blood [for Ringo]’, the last song on the album, sums this up. It’s about four minutes before anything happens, and yet in all that ‘nothing happening’, there’s almost too much going on. Then there’s about another seven
and a half minutes, after a slight change, when nothing happens in a slightly different key and tempo. My guess is that Andrew Clare and his cronies will never be household names. Still, if you want weird with a sniff of fresh and scary, this is a wise purchase. Jazz, really, that’s assuredly and playfully revered and massacred in fine noise-nick tradition.
Only two questions remain. Is the reference to Ringo a swipe, and if so, can the argument as to whether he was great or rubbish be finally sorted in a deserted warehouse, please?—and did I’m Being Good’s “mattress suspension consultant” really add to their sound?
Andrew Kingston, [PROBEmagazine, may2001]

Looking at the CD contents of 11 songs and 65 minutes, my instincts tell me that we’re going to have some weird instrumental stuff popping up. Correct. I’m Being Good are fond of the slightly peculiar and track 2 (sorry I didn’t get a track listing) is a pure slice of avant-garde noise-rock. Compare this to track 3 - a sort of Pavement-meets-Grandaddy affair and you’re left feeling confused and unsure as to what to expect next. Despite this I’m still surprised by the 8.32 epic that follows. It traverses ambient twiddling to angry shouting in under 2 minutes before progressing in palm-muted chaos. And so the confusion continues. In my eyes at least I’m Being Good are showing potential with their melodic material. With their
more abstract work however they are just being plain weird. 5/10
Reviewed by David Coleman

I’m Being Good at the Spitz, London—01/06/02
Bands like Brighton’s I’m Being Good are the very reason that guitar tunings can be changed. A three-piece with a couple of cleverly modified guitar-cum-basses, IBG play math rock for people who can’t count; odd timings, random stops and dynamic whisper-shouting is order of the evening at a gloriously art-wank BigSmoke night.
Guitarist Jussi Brightmore comes across as Jamiroquai possessed by the soul of Krist Novoselic, leaping around and pulling fluid, effortless Rock poses. Mind you, Jay Kay says he doesn’t like to buy records, while these guys have clearly got a pretty wide collection. There’s probably quite a lot of Sebadoh in it; frontman Andrew Clare, himself a spit of Lou Barlow, may have even swallowed one of their earlier rekkids.
Indeed, long-jumper-music is so integral to their sound that drummer David Ewan Campbell even uses one to play his snare at one point. But whereas music this Lo-fi is usually such a mess because the band can’t be arsed with an inconvenience like learning to play their instruments, IBG are all exceptional musicians. Complex guitar/bass combo riffs tear the venue apart while Clare swings from quiet introspection to terrifying screams.
As the set draws to a close Campbell wanders around his kit, carefully lying pieces on the floor and banging out a quick rhythm before moving onto the next bit. Actually, the sight of the dismantled kit is the first indication in the whole set that a song is ending, what with all those delicious false stops. It’s music to make you think, sure, but it’s also music to make you wanna dance about a bit and go grrr.
Being good has never felt so, um, good.
Dee Arr [disorder online]

Trumans Water / IBG split 7”
It’s the I’M BEING GOOD side you’ll be wanting to hear, wherein Brighton’s finest grimacing /grunty noise band pretent they’re covering “Live And Let Die” and let rip with their punk rock chug style. It’s the sound of how bored you become when kids in the backyard keep aiming fireworks at your window panes and you have nothing better to do than let the window down. Nifty hand made luxury sleeve, too. And yes, the TRUMAN’S WATER side is neato hardcore
noise experimentation. Pavement? get the fuck outta my sight! Please.
Everett True [melody maker, 12.12.98]

Poisonous LifeCD
This must be the musical equivalent of Attention Defecit Disorder; it’s all twitches and jitters and guitars being played at spastic intervals. So much of what’s released these days seems calculated to impress the listener with the musician’s suave tastefulness, but I’m Being Good is thankfully free of such restraints. They revel in the intricate jumbles they can work drums and guitars into and don’t seem to be perturbed at the prospect of causing listeners some puzzlement, And while it might be a bit much to listen to all at once, Poisonous Life is such a personal recording and so outside the boundaries of prevailing taste that i just have to doff my chapeau in its direction. Whether each move is completely successful or not, the band have chosen to dig into a sound of their own (that doesn’t promise much fiscal or critical response, either) that bears notice. I won’t pull this out every day, but it’s a great musical palette cleanser, and that’s a necessity when so many records I hear seem to aim for the
blandly pleasant.
Bruce Adams [your flesh #43]

Poisonous LifeCD
I’m Being Good have been playing in various forms for nigh on six years now and their guitar oriented quasi-improv blather has reached absurdly great heights. Hearing a new CD or watching them play live has become one of the few genuine highlights of the ‘postrock’—or whatever it’s called this week—calendar. The eleven pieces presented here capture the band at a new high, as they roll tunes into spit balls and fire them across a shifting rhythmic structure with the casual abandon that only the truly talented can muster.
The fact that these guys aren’t world famous is a testament to the genuine clarity of their vision.
Jack Sargeant [fringecore magazine]

Poisonous LifeCD
I’m Being Good have the clear potential to take the ‘Squirrel Rock crown’ of spiked-out, supercharged awkward and deranged music. The term ‘Squirrel Rock’ derives from the strange ambivalence of the furry beasts of the same name. While most see them as adorable little fellas which play, collect nuts and hibernate, there’s forever a suspicion that different races of squirrels exist with the sole purpose of wiping each other out, make no pretence of taking the odd 40 winks, let alone hibernation and are actually bark-destroying vermin.
And then there’s ‘Squirrel Rock,’ which is the last great unrecorded sub-genre of popular music. In ‘Squirrel Rock,’ all the ‘classic’ components are there. Some degree of youth (usually), electricity, proper instruments. CDs et cetera. Only somewhere along the line blazed by luminaries like Beefheart in the early days to more recent purveyors like Trumans Water, the rock thing’s been blown apart. Imagine a car engine taken to pieces and put together all wrong. Then cranked up to the point of perpetual destruction. That’s the essence of ‘Squirrel Rock.’
I’m Being Good take essential squirrel components (irregular timings and ferocious, nervy energy) and do their absolute best to design eleven tracks which you’ll be totally floored trying to whistle along to later. In addition, there’s funny tunings, which take a little while to get used to and some Yankee style vocal deliveries. If you can live with these distractions, Poisonous Life is top drawer ‘Squirrel Rock,’ which will either have you grinning your teeth through your gums, or scratching your head because the CD’s cover art made you think you were going to some kind of Indie Trumpton. It’s kind of conventional guitar-heavy indie, shot
to pieces by the kind of surgical appliances hospitals won’t sterilise anymore and made screechy as an old bastard owl.
[...] The problem with listening to records like Poisonous Life, is that you can only guess what on earth’s going on in the minds of these crazies. After the second track a cheer of relief —presumably celebrating the successful completion of a song nearly gives the game away. There’s clearly an intensity to the music which doesn’t necessarily translate that well on record. If you like what’s going on you’re going to want to see I’m Being Good do a good live show; and you’re going to be thinking what great soundtrack music Small things could make if only they were given the chance...
[probe magazine]

Poisonous LifeCD
The new i’m being good (no caps) CD reminds me of Smash Your Headera Sebadoh playing Revengeera Flying Luttenbachers but such critical comparisons are trite and reductive. There’s a certain dynamism and chaos (respective to the two bands) in these songs that, if they have to be genrefied, would probabl y be best described as “circus violence.” Man, this is turning out to be a really shitty review (for me, not them, I really like the CD, but I can’t
really describe it without recourse to stupid record review conventions). The music is difficult yet friendly and there’s plenty of (what someone would call) improvisation or experimentation interlaced within (slightly) more approachable song structures. Clare and his compatriots have worked on the 13 Ghosts (with Thurston Moore + Derek Bailey) project (also released on Infinite Chug) and it, like this and the artwork of the label, tempers sketchiness and abstraction with all sorts of stuff you can grab onto and really enjoy without an initiation or pretensions.
Sam Leimer [WHPK website]

Poisonous LifeCD
2 am. College radio station. Lonely DJ, glass of lemonade. Zebra mussels PSA cued up. Just played Sarah Records-heavy set, finishing off with some band with members of Look Blue Go Purple. Sigh. Needs something noisy. Has never been crazy about the “noise” angle. Once, two years ago, bought and returned copy of Sonic Youth’s “Sonic Death.”
2 am. Hipster home. Lonely hipster, smelly t-shirt. Flips on radio. Thinks “Is this Look Blue Go Purple?” “Zebra mussels create a rough, smelly mess...”
2:05 am. College DJ puts on I’m Being Good’s “Poisonous Life,” track 11. Title: “Finger to Other Bands.” Hopes there are no audible curse words.
2:07 am. Hipster listener notices something noisy is on. Very noisy. Thinks it sounds like college radio wallpaper. Wonders about treating him/herself to tasty treat. Maybe Swiss Cake roll.
2:14 am. College DJ is now waiting for next DJ. Next DJ is not arriving. 1st DJ decides to let the record start over from the beginning. Notices that what heretofore seemed like just noise is actually the common blend of dissonant plinked guitars, all out ugly noise, distorted vocals, and punk and heavy metal rhythms, with some prog-rock moments thrown in. Finds startling change from minimal, Slint-y opening intro to sax-y skronker “What is Phonewolf” to be delectable.
2:15 am. Hipster listener looks up from cake snack and local free weekly. Wonders why this song is still on. Is this still the same song? Decides no. No, on careful listen, this is clearly a different song. Is this the same band? Doesn’t care. Finds Swiss Cake Roll to be delectable.
2:30 am. College DJ is visibly pleased. Feels his/her horizons have broadened considerably since 2 years ago. College DJ may marry the record. No longer waiting for next DJ. Now enjoying vaguely “Kashmir”-ish, circus-y “Country Boy on the Sniff,” with its little boy-singalong interruptions. Finds music to be rather like one-time labelmates Truman’s Water.
2:32 am. Hipster thinks to him/herself, “Is this Truman’s Water?” before drifting off to napland.
2:56 am. College DJ pots up the microphone. “Okay, that was, uh, I’m Being Good, from, um, Brighton, uh, England. Um...” “Irish Musical Revival” DJ walks in, nearly an hour late, slaps on the Bay City Rollers and gives 1st DJ the heave-ho.
Todd Paley [rocketfuel online magazine]