For those of you who prefer to buy products from digital download stores, we now have an agreement with digital distributor Zimbalam:
Mystery Slang's Gallery
(hover cursor over images for captions)
The new line up for Mystery Slang is:
Latif Gardez - vocals and lead guitar Johnny Orme - rhythm guitar (of Gee Baby I Love You, Don't Feed the Ambulance) Jon Loder - bass guitar (ex Gee Baby I Love You, Don't Feed the Ambulance) "Chicago" Mike Wiedrich - drums (ex Eddie Martin Band, Gwyn Ashton)
The Mystery Slang line-up of 2011 is significantly different to the original band save for Gardez himself, yet the band still retains that unique Mystery Slang sound in the Gardez-penned numbers. Mystery Slang will be touring the UK later in 2011 to promote the re-issue of "Venus Grove", as well as playing material from the follow-up album "River Towns" (to be re-released later in 2011) and the work-in-progress third album.
Here are some some shots of the album launch that took place on Saturday 4th June at The King's Arms, Blackboy Hill, Bristol (hover cursor over images for captions)...
And for video footage:
Mystery Slang's Biography
An introduction by Digitdoc Records
"I was driving the car one day on a tedious motorway journey when my colleague slipped a CD into the player and sat back with a knowing grin on his face. The car was immediately filled with a tasty riff and a baritone growl. I heard hints of many things - The Doors, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Juicy Lucy, Leonard Cohen even; I heard a delicious understatement of music with enough space to drive a truck through; I heard poetry. I heard Mystery Slang." MH, Director, Digitdoc Records
The creative force behind Mystery Slang is one Latif Gardez.
Picking up a guitar aged 15, greatly influenced by Rory Gallagher, Gardez wanted to be in a band. He realised his ambition in the late seventies, releasing a few singles and an album as the Bristol-based band Gardez Darkx.
Gardez made good use of his spare time by devouring books, learning to play a variety of musical instruments and generally catching up on a lost education. The words of Rimbaud, Samuel R Delaney, Baudelaire, Bukowski and T S Eliot; the films of Orson Welles, Wim Wenders and Alan Parker; the "blue period" music of Scott Walker, Miles Davis and Sinatra; all these, combined with his people-watching in bars through the bottom of a whisky glass, will give you an inkling of the influences and inspiration behind his creative talents of poetry, prose and song-writing.
With his minds eye focused on a major record deal, Gardez relocated to London where he stepped into the recently-vacated role of vocalist in King Trigger. However, where Gardez leaned towards darkness and intensity, the pre-Gardez King Trigger leaned more towards pop. They were not comfortable bedfellows.
Following the inevitable break-up, Gardez personal life took a turn for the worse, until finally he found himself living at the Venus Hotel in Westbourne Grove with some rather malodorous fellow hostellers. The six months he stayed there were to become the main source of inspiration for his first Mystery Slang album "Venus Grove" - as dark blue as the one suit he wore, day in, day out, the lyrics were intense and soaked with extremes and excesses, documenting some of those wild times.
His talents were rewarded by a contract with Virgin Records, and the album was published in 1991, successfully charting in several European territories. Gardez was fortunate enough to complete the follow-up album "River Towns" the subsequent year just before falling victim to the axe wielded by EMI in the course of their turbulent Virgin Records take-over.
There followed a number of years in the hinterland of the music scene during which time Gardez, far from resting on his laurels, merely channelled his creative talents into other artistic endeavours - paintings, a novel, a play, poems...
...but with so much of his music still to be heard, Gardez has turned his attention back to Mystery Slang, releasing re-mastered versions of "Venus Grove" and "River Towns" through Digitdoc Records while assembling a new line-up for his forthcoming third album.
The epitome of the true artist - a renaissance man - a man of many talents and a master of most - Gardez continues his nomadic journey...
Mystery Slang's Press
Oscar : Ouest France
(On Les Transmusicales in Rennes) Rough translation:
"Three hours on, the last act of the program, and the diehards need wait no longer to discover the first big bang of Les Trans this year: Latif Gardez and his band Mystery Slang. Resembling a cross between Johnny Depp and Mark Curry, Latif fixes the room with a stare before breaking into a single rhythm and blues set.
Admirer of American writers, he snarls out his strong lyrics in the manner of Captain Beefheart and with as much charisma. The guitar riffs are charged with electricity but are sensual nevertheless. No frills, just rock of the highest quality."
Mystery Slang's Album Reviews
Andy Ballard : Bridgetown Mailbag (Western Australia)
(on Venus Grove *****)
Pure down and out music by Latif Gardez with a groove all of its own. The band's called Mystery Slang, newly formed, which maybe calls out for his need for anonymity. Darker than Springsteen and a damn' sight taller, Latif has been around the block. Signed by Virgin, axed by EMI and now thankfully snapped up by Digitdoc Records with an album release due on the 4th June, we can see a great talent reborn. Deep, down and dirty, this man resurrects his career with the best album you've heard for years. Listen to it at your peril, because you'll get hooked. Let's hope there's much more to come from this man.
Paul Henderson : Q Magazine
(on Venus Grove ****)
Sifting through the threadbare Raymond Chandler-style biography for clues, the most - if anything at all - that can be unearthed about Mystery Slang is that the guy holding all the cards goes by the name of Latif Gardez, a whisky-drinking itinerant Scot of Arab/Italian parentage. Listening to Venus Grove sheds more light on things, revealing someone with one ear tuned in to Tom Waits electric blues, the other to The Doors and dayglo rock. The strength of this debut is the uncluttered spaciousness of the arrangements, giving the spoken narrative lyrics ample room to swirl around a repetitive riff and loose, jazzy chords, or to ride a swelling Hammond wave over a crisp, bluesy guitar. Its a collection of instantly appealing and powerfully compelling songs. If Mystery Slangs intention really is to keep to the shadows, putting out an album as good as this is mistake number one.
Ralph Traitor : Sounds
(on Venus Grove ****)
Weirdness sells - on a good day - and this year it will be courtesy of Mystery Slang, or Latif Gardez for it is he. Apparently the progeny of some cross-Continental mismatch, Gardez is the proverbial comer from nowhere, a man with a vision hatched in a booze bottle and given flight in a lot of bad dreams. Meaning what? Meaning this debut album will shift units and, quite possibly, your perspective. Comprising a number of narratives set in Gardez West London stomping grounds, it begins with "Im Mad At You", a head-on collision between Robbie Robertson and Iggy Pop, but the overview demands a comparison to Nick Cave, whose Birthday Party Gardez invites himself to in a big, greedy way. "Blind Joe" in particular recalls Cave, from title to staccato beat to the vocal scraped off the underside of an old car. Yes, Gardez is funny, but not ha-ha funny; his streams of consciousness articulate but muddied and suitable for strong swimmers only - "They All Ran Like Numbers", a languid Portobello travelogue, is genuinely spooky and, in essence, some sort of animated novella. Of course the slow, sleazy atmosphere Gardez crafts is not to everybodys taste, but thats not because its too dark to laugh at or with, merely a case of very personal writing stretched tight with a white blues skin that could make you jump out of yours. Like it? You might. An ideal gift it aint.
Mystery Slang's Links
You might like to explore some of the other sites featuring Mystery Slang/Latif Gardez
A website run by some dedicated fans of Mystery Slang over in The Netherlands ...