Sunday, 23 September 2018
Sean Johnston was playing this last night at the Convenanza festival in Carcasonne and it is a beauty, a full on trippy modern house record, with the double threat of the powerful New York vocals of Amy Douglas and three superbly Balearic remixes, woozy, mechanical funk, from Crooked Man (Crooked Man is Richard Barratt, DJ and producer from Sheffield, city of bleep). The sort of record that sounds like the dark corners of nightclubs, smells of dry ice and feels like a shot of something strong coursing through your veins.
Saturday, 22 September 2018
Craig Bratley comes through with a four track e.p, just out, which has a contender for song title of the year... Take Me To Bedford Or Lose Me Forever. I like to think this was over heard in the street or a bar, someone hissing it into a phone or across a table. Thankfully the track lives up to its name, a slow motion, vaguely Eastern sounding chug, soundtracking a car ride through the streets of your town before dawn...
Elsewhere the lead track is a throbbing uptempo banger 99.9 which comes with an Andrew Weatherall remix- moody, science fiction, dub-tinged acid.
The other one is the self explanatory Italo Love. If we're having an Italo house revival, and I'm in favour of that, this song should be somewhere near the centre of it.
Friday, 21 September 2018
It's probably going to save time and some arguments at the end of the year if we can agree now that Roisin Murphy has made a very convincing stab at the best single of 2018 with All My Dreams released back in the early summer (and the follow up Plaything which was nearly its equal). The third part of her four pronged 2018 dancefloor assault is out today, another two track 12" single produced with Maurice Fulton. Jacuzzi Rollercoaster starts out with 80s synths and a wonky electronic bassline followed by a 4/4 disco beat and guest vocals from Ali Love. Funky, swish and seductive, the sound of a song coming out through the doors of a club that you can't get into (wrong shoes most likely) but sounding like the best place to be.
The B-side, Can't Hang On, is a squelchy, sultry, Moloko-like number with a very nice extended ending.
Thursday, 20 September 2018
In 2011 Turkish DJ and musician Baris K put out a series of records under the title Istanbul '70, a collection of songs from Turkey in the late 60s and early 70s, Turkish psyche, disco, funk and folk. In the wake of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones Turkish artists in the mid 60s began to fuse traditional Turkish music with rock, creating Anatolian Rock. The opening song on Volume 1 is a favourite of mine, a groovy, slightly psychedelic masterpeice. Carried by a smart acoustic guitar riff and a lead acid rock part with some intermittent drone from an organ over which Erkin Koray sings (and does his own reverb laden backing vox). It speeds up towards the end, percussion going into overdrive and the guitar solo flies the freak flag. Pretty trippy.
Erkin Koray is one of the pioneers of Anatolian Rock and is still recording. Cemalim came out in 1974 on an album titled Elektronik Turkuler (which translates as Electronic Ballads), Koray's first full length lp after making a series of 45s. The Istanbul '70 series covers loads more Turkish artists from the period, handpicked by the expert ears of Baris K.
Sometimes with songs sung in a foreign language it's actually a pleasure to not know or understand what the lyrics are about, to put your own version into the words based on the singer's voice. Curiosity got the better of me with Ceralim. Google led me to a post on Reddit where someone asked for a translation of the song. The song is from the eyes of a woman named Serife from Ürgüp. She married a wealthy man called Cemal who after a couple of years was killed in a treacherous attack. She was left alone with a young son.
A translation site offers this version (there are others with some lyrical differences but a similar gist).
'May you be merry, Ürgüp, your smoke doesn't fume
Cem's mansion doesn't hire my grizzly horse
Your son is too young, doesn't replace you
My Cemal, my Cemal, my weak Cemal
You've remained in red blood my Cemal
They saw me getting out of Ürgüp
They knew from my grizzly horse's leaping
They decided to kill me
My Cemal, my Cemal, my weak Cemal
You've remained in red blood my Cemal'
Wednesday, 19 September 2018
It was announced a couple of days ago that Rachid Taha had died aged 59. Rachid was an Algerian singer and activist, based in France, who blended punk and electronic music with North African forms rai and chaabi. Moving to Lyon aged 10 he started forming bands in his teens, djed at local Algerian clubs, and sang in both Arabic and English. In the early 80s he found The Clash and said that for a generation of French musicians 'they gave us the world'. He bumped into the band outside the Theatre Mogador in Paris during their residency there in 1981, passing them his band's demo tape, fusing rai with funk and punk. Months later he heard Rock The Casbah and liked to imagine his demo tape had at least partly inspired the song.
Like many people I first heard of Rachid when he covered Rock The Casbah on his 2004 album Tekitoi, sung it in Arabic and re-titled Rock el Casbah, a magnificent cover of the song. A year later at a Stop The War gig in London Mick Jones joined Rachid on stage (and did the same at the Barbican in 2007). Life goals eh?
Rock el Casbah
The video for the original release, a song largely written and recorded by Topper Headon, is a hoot, starring the group in their full on military fatigues gear, a grumpy Mick Jones, a heavy handed Arab-Israeli section and an armadillo. It's also a lesson in songs gaining a life or meaning not intended by the creators- Joe sat aghast watching his TV in 1991 as US troops used it to celebrate bombing Iraq.
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Something cosmic to kick Tuesday off, the return leg of the Daniel Avery-Jon Hopkins remix swap. Here Avery spins Hopkins into different spaces. The part at about 40 seconds where the reverb drenched synth comes in is heartstopping.
Avery put this out recently too, a beatless, ambient piece, fifty minutes, free download.
Monday, 17 September 2018
I've seen some really good gigs this year- Mogwai at the Albert Hall, MIchael Head at Gorilla and David Byrne at the Apollo all live long in the memory- but as a double bill Wooden Shjips supported by The Lucid Dream at Gorilla on Saturday night will be hard to beat. Gorilla is a small venue in a railway arch, holding about 500 people, an ideal place to see bands close up, with no barriers between audience and players. The Lucid Dream, four young men from Carlisle, are a band whose time has surely come. Drilled, inventive and loud they have made good on the promise a lot of bands in the early 90s made, to fuse psychedelic rock with dance music. Lined up across the stage they kick off with an electronic drumbeat from the pile of kit, pedals, drum machine, samplers and suchlike standing next to Mark Emmerson's microphone. The drummer joins in with the 'real' kit and then bass and guitars pile in as one, psyche-rock and acid house conjoined in a hugely impressive way. At times they sound a bit like the early Verve but then soar outwards from that point into psyche rather than mid-paced everyman ballads. The drum machine spits out crunching kick drum sounds, acid squiggles and siren noises, with Mike Denton's driving basslines riding over the top. The closing song builds to an extended wall-of-noise section, imagine I Am The Resurrection but if Squire had been into noise rather than melody, which having pummelled us for several minutes, they pull back from and back into the song in an instant. The Lucid Dream are probably too hard-edged, too experimental for a mainstream audience but should surely gain more fans and more exposure if they keep doing gigs like this.
Wooden Shjips have made one of this year's best albums and spend 90 minutes demonstrating how to make psychedelic krautrock for 2018, undeniably retro but fresh and human and involving. Drummer Omar uses a minimal kit, just a bass drum and snare with 3 cymbals, but on every song hits and holds a hypnotic groove that pushes and makes the front few rows move. Keyboard player Nash Whalen has the thousand yard stare of a man who dropped some acid an hour ago and is just beginning to feel the effects, adding layers of drone and texture and allowing main man Ripley Johnson to do his thing. Ripley's thing is playing ripples of golden guitar over everything else, perfectly placed in the mix, shades of Hendrix here and shades of Michael Rother there. His vocals float in from stage right, half sung and half whispered. Opener Eclipse hooks us in straight away, like waking from a dream. Ride On is slow and shuffly, Staring At The Sun glowers with the spirit of 1969. Wooden Shjips are the epitome of slow burn, of going at their own pace, of the importance of tone as much as tunes. They grow in intensity and pace as the evening goes on, sucking us in, locked into the groove, dripping sun-dappled melodies into the room over the beautiful drones, finishing with a blistering, extended version of Death's Not Your Friend.