Thursday, 18 July 2019
This week's pictures all come from a visit to Hack Green 'secret' nuclear bunker, a Cold War concrete box and bunker in Cheshire from where regional government would take place in the event of a nuclear war. The Cold War officially ended in 1989 following an agreement and announcement from Bush and Gorbachev. The USSR broke up in 1991, the USA won and everyone was happy. The bunker was already outdated at this point I suspect. The machinery and computer systems, dormitories, radio broadcast equipment and all the rest of the gear designed to administer the north west of England in a post- apocalyptic world look pre-1980s. The idea that much could happen from here to successfully help Britain survive an attack by the Soviet Union seems ridiculous (in the same way that the rockets and modules that took three men to the moon fifty years ago look like tin cans held together by the type of screws and nuts most of us have in our tool boxes- thankfully the moon equipment worked while the nuclear infrastructure never faced the test it was designed for).
The year before than the moon landings The Byrds switched from psychedelic rock to an older, gentler sound. The arrival of Gram Parsons in 1968 had pushed them in a solely country rock direction. Gram's appearance was the subject of some legal disputes and his lead vocals on several songs had to be re-recorded by Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. It's also been suggested that McGuinn was uncomfortable with giving over so many lead vocal slots to Parsons and wanted to re-establish the older Byrds as the key voices. Gram was still irate about this wiping of his voice and McGuinn's re-recordings in 1973 and who knows, if still alive today, he might still be unhappy about it- the Gram vocals have since been re-released on various box sets and extras. There aren't too many albums that can claim to have kick started an entire genre but Sweetheart Of The Rodeo is one- all country rock, alt- country and Americana can be traced back to the eleven songs contained within its grooves.
One Hundred Years From Now
Wednesday, 17 July 2019
This has just gone up at Test Pressing, your one stop shop for all things dubby and Balearic. Test Pressing asked Sean Johnston to put together a mix, specifically two hours of trippy and wigged out tunes from Sean's record box. You can find it here (and download for free) and you won't regret it. I can't get the player to embed.
A couple of years ago Sean put out an e.p. in his Hardway Bros guise, the Pleasure e.p. This song is stunningly effective piano house, guaranteed to spread joy.
Tuesday, 16 July 2019
Some of my favourite songs from the last year or two have been by The Liminanas, a French pysch -rock duo with a knack for writing killer songs. The Gift has Peter Hook on guest bass and he hasn't sounded better in recent years than on this song. They recorded much of their album Shadow People in Berlin at Anton Newcombe's studio. This is his mix of the song (from the B-sides and rarities compilation I've Got Trouble In Mind Vol. 2).
The Gift (Anton Mix)
Monday, 15 July 2019
Freshly arrived into the world, Crooked Man's remixes of Roisin Murphy's recent single Incapable are a pair of long, sexy, burning tracks,
Incapable Mix Pt. 2 starts with single piano notes and at about twenty seconds a bass-hoover sound so exciting it'll have you in knots. From there it's deep and taut and sultry, slowly building in intensity.
Just to prove that you can't have too much of a good thing the Pt. 3 Mix is sparser still, Crooked Man layering bass, fizzy bleeps and glitches around Roisin's voice for eight minutes and thirty seconds of magic.
Sunday, 14 July 2019
I've been meaning to post this for a while, especially since The Vinyl Villain did a Shamen piece a couple of weeks ago. On 1990's En-Tact The Shamen fully embraced club culture, their fusion of indie- rock and electronics complete. Paul Oakenfold, Steve Osborne and Graham Massey worked on some of the songs. Make It Mine and Move Any Mountain were genuine pop- rave monsters. They pushed the recently joined rapper Mr C to the fore. Hyperreal was released as a single in 1991 with this William Orbit remix on the 12".
Hyperreal (William Orbit 12" Remix)
Saturday, 13 July 2019
Plaid's new album Polymers is proving that experimental electronic music can be reflective of the early- to- mid 90s while also utterly modern, techno rhythms adorned with machine melodies- accessible, repetitious, hypnotic and at places liable to take your breath away. Orbital's remix of Maru proves that they haven't lost their touch either. A dancer.
Maru means circle in Japanese and is associated with goodness- a circle is used to mark correct answers on tests and exams (rather than a tick as we'd use). Maru is also a cat, a cat who lives in japan, and is apparently the most watched animal in the world with over 325 million views on Youtube. Here he is relaxing in a box.
Friday, 12 July 2019
The new album from Jane Weaver is turning out to be the unexpected treat of the summer so far. Loops In The Secret Society is a twenty two track reworking of songs from her previous two lps, The Silver Globe and Modern Kosmology. The songs have been stripped back, the lusher instrumentation replaced by clicks and whirrs and drones, Jane's folky vocals more distant and spooked, motorik drum loops and mechanical rhythms, everything put through a grainy, radiophonic filter. They've been joined by some new ambient tracks and more drones. Taken as a whole it could be the soundtrack to a lost British 1970s horror/sci fi TV series, people wandering off the path, David McCallum appearing out of the mist, unexplained events, wicker men, that sort of thing. It's an album in its own right, new textures and tones from the older source material and it sounds close to perfect right now.
This re-imagined take on 2017's single Slow Motion is as good a taster as any but really you need to hear the whole thing.