Big Cash Prizes - Big Cash Prizes

Chris Helsby 03/08/2005

Rating: 4/5

The downloads section of this band's site is huge, considering that they are as yet unsigned. This is home-made, put together on a budget. They have surrounded themselves with the right people and opened themselves up to new ideas, testing the boundaries of what it is a band can do online. There are two original tunes here, both mainstays of their live set, but the unusual stuff comes out in the batch of remixes and the videos that they have made to accompany their own music.

The first tune, Z-Carz, stamps its feet hard enough to make the ground shake while bellowing out a “There is another way!” refrain as if the Chemical Brothers had played a Sham 69 tune through their machines and turned all the knobs up to eleven.

Shock of the New is built around a funk bass line that NWA would have sampled. The guitars crash over it like the Edge is fighting it out with Bernard Sumner and the singer screeches a falsetto note that sounds like it might rip his throat out.

First up of the remixes is the cut-up, shattered Mr Disconnected version of the tune they end their gigs with, Thrive Under Pressure. It sounds like he's picked the remains up off the stage and hammered them back together with electro-bolts on a chassis built from the drumbeat of a Joy Division tune, the synths not so much whispering an invitation as hissing a demand.

The Arcade 2600 remix of Walk On is a synth-storm, like Daft Punk or Mylo, a groovy, circular disco riff with the singer's lonely vocals and lyrics sounding like something lifted from 1984. Then the Digital Punkz remix of Thrive Under Pressure; a drum and bass groove that sounds like the soundtrack to a ram raid. You can hear the glass breaking and imagine the grainy Crimewatch footage of someone in a balaclava grabbing a bagful of expensive consumer goods.

Re-writing the rules of what DIY and lo-fi mean the videos show that in this age you can record the things on DV film and have them up on a website for everyone to see at no expense at all. Between grainy, rehearsal-room footage laid-over with after effects to set-pieces made up of head-twisting reverse-film and epileptic freeze-frame cuts they fit together to tell a story of where it is the band come from and where it is they're going. Imagine Blade Runner if it had been set in Stoke On Trent.

To tail it off there is a video-flyer for one of their gigs. A ten-second film clip of abstract, urban shots that was sent round on MSN Messenger. Makes a change from picking up a beer-soaked photocopy in a student-union bar. Where so many band sites now feature those irritating, thirty-second clips of their tunes, the sort where the sound quality is so low that it sounds like the bass player is twanging an elastic band, Big Cash Prizes have filled their webspace up with stuff that is more than just an advert for a forthcoming EP. The two original tunes on here are great, but it's the extras, the videos and remixes, that colour-in the bands identity. If you've just had your head blown off at one of their gigs, this stuff gives you an even bigger impression of what it is they are about without leaving you feeling that it's only up here until they can get it released on CD so the generous public will go out and pay for it.