Tuesday, 31 May 2016
We got back from three days of very un-Lake District camping weather last night- the sun has shone and there hasn't been a drop of rain. There's a pile of washing to do that smells of bonfire and some sunburnt skin here and there. But all is good and I have the rest of the week off.
Here's a slice of late May lushness from John Grant and Gwenno. I don't think I've heard much by John Grant and I'm well aware he's highly rated by many people but I've just not got around to trying him out. His song Voodoo Doll has been remixed by Welsh psyche/cosmische Queen Gwenno and Peski Kid and it is a delight with a lovely ascending and descending vocal line over some light bubbling psychedelia.
Saturday, 28 May 2016
I went to pick one of the kids up the other night and was flicking through radio stations in the car, trying to find something- anything- half decent to listen to. Just as I was about to give up I tuned in to the second half of Glory Box by Portishead. Sometimes you have to hear a song unexpectedly, out of context, to really hear it again. It sounded really, really good.
There was a period in 1994 when it seemed like the only thing anyone was listening to was Portishead. I always really liked this alternate version from the 12" single.
It's half term and we are in the Lake District for the next couple of days, near Ulverston (which I can't think of without singing it to the tune of Glen Campbell's Galveston). See you in a few days.
Friday, 27 May 2016
Warpaint haven't released much recently. Last year saw No Way Out come out digitally, the redux version, a full on seven minute excusion and an extra song I'll Start Believing. No Way Out combines their signature sounds in one glorious package- the slightly stoned Californian multi-tracked vocals, the PiL bassline, the sparse, fluid guitars and the thumping drums. You'll want to buy the full length version if you haven't got it. As an added bonus they look alright too.
No Way Out (Redux)
Thursday, 26 May 2016
Death In Vegas have a new album called Transmission out very soon. DiV mainman Richard Fearless has moved back towards the backroom techno/acid area in the last couple of years. 2014's Gamma Ray single was an intense delight, 808s aloft. At the end of last year Fearless put out a song called Metal Dub which I think is going to be the opener on Transmission. It sounds like metal dub.
This remix by DJ Richard is a stripped back version with a kind of low key euphoria finishing with some lovely drones. Stunning.
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Strummerville, an annual mini-festival set up to commemorate Joe Strummer and his influence and enable a load of likeminded souls and bands to get together isn't happening this year. Instead there is A Tale Of Two Cities, a twin city event with a full line up at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester and another at Off the Cuff in Herne Hill, South London, all filled with the spirit of the man himself. Tickets are £15 and some are still available. Ray Gange (from the film Rude Boy) and Clash and Strummer collaborator Tymon Dogg both appear in London and I can personally vouch that the between act DJ in Manchester, El Gadge, will be spinning some great records because I've heard him before. So if you're free, and in either vicinity, get down there.
This song from Sandinista! was Paul Simonon's tribute to blues parties 'across the river in South London with a rocking bass and drum' and has a very cool walking dub bassline.
The Crooked Beat
Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Adrian Sherwood did a superb remix of Why Why Why by The Woodentops, dancefloor and dub friendly. It was on The Woodentops Imaginary Compilation Album series over at The Vinyl Villain at the start of April. Rolo McGinty's group usually get referred to as indie-dance pioneers and that seems to be true enough, although their indie-dance sound doesn't really sound anything like what the phrase 'indie dance' summons up. They crossed over to the Balearic scene in the mid-to-late 80s, the fast acoustic guitars and experimental nature of Why Why Why moving feet and minds. This Tony Johns and Dave Boreham version sounds really fresh.
Why Why Why (Balearic Re-edit)
Monday, 23 May 2016
I reckon you could post daily about Adrian Sherwood for a year and not run out of interesting songs. This mix of Acid Tabla by Suns Of Arqa came out in February this year, a dubbed out Sherwood version and will cost you £1 from Bandcamp. Suns Of Arqa have been the vehicle for the pioneering musical adventures of Michael Wadada since 1979, since when he's played with a couple of hundred musicians in the studio and live.
There's also this hour long mix done for Carharrt Radio this month for your delectation, full of music from the back catalogues and unreleased goodies from the likes of Roots Manuva, Dub Syndicate, Congo Natty, Coldcut and Junior Delgado.
Ghetto Priest - Slave State (feat. Junior Delgado) [from forthcoming album "Slave State"]
Mark Stewart - Awidk [unreleased]
Nisennenmondai - 3 [from the newly released album "#N/A"]
Ital Horns with Dub Syndicate - Metropolis [from unreleased album "Blow The Man Down"]
Cha Cha - Dub No Frontiers (Excerpt) [unreleased]
Roots Manuva - Hit It (Alternative Version) [from current album "Bleeds"]
Dub Syndicate - Wadada (feat. Prince Far I) [from the 1991 album "Stoned Immaculate"]
Congo Natty - UK Allstars In Dub (Adrian Sherwood Remix) [from current album "Jungle Revolution In Dub"]
Coldcut/Adrian Sherwood feat. Junior Reid, Elan & Lee Perry [forthcoming project] - Divide And Rule
L.S.K. - Way Of The World [unreleased]
Denise Sherwood - Ghost Heart [unreleased]
Junior Delgado - None Shall Escape [unreleased classic version on "Masters of Deception" rhythm]
Missing Brazilians - Quicksand Beach Party [1981 original from the album "Warzone" reissue and also available on the Trevor Jackson compiled "Science Fiction Dancehall Classics"
Adrian Sherwood - Starship Bahia [from the album "Survival and Resistance"]
Sunday, 22 May 2016
The sparse, mechanical sounds of Steve Cobby and the spoken words of Russ Litten. Honest, a little raw, more than a little bit real. Russ is the writer in residence at a prison in the north of England and it sounds like his work may contribute to his words.
If I don't do something with the second part of my life... Tinder surprise, just slide left.
Saturday, 21 May 2016
Norman Cook remixes? On the whole in the past I could take 'em or leave 'em. Too often it was a case of stick a whacking great big beat underneath, drop it out two thirds of the way through and use that 'make it sound like you've thrown the drums in a tumble drier' effect, build up it up, climax. There are exceptions but not so many.
The Charlatans survived the Madchester boom, outlived Britpop, never split up and then cashed in by reforming. They had a few years where they gave their albums away for free on the net and no one seemed interested but quietly kept going to produce Modern Nature, one of last year's highlights and one of their best.
Norman remixed Trouble Understanding from Modern Nature and thankfully avoided the big beat tricks, turning it into a gorgeous Balearic come down tune with a hint of Massive Attack's Teardrop. It came out on RSD and only 1500 were available. Luckily you can hear it here...
Friday, 20 May 2016
Two items from The Orb for Friday, masters of long dub-ambient workouts. First is this far out re-working of Towers Of Dub from the U.F.Orb album back in 1992. This version originally appeared on the Orb In Dub 12" and after that the fifteenth anniversary re-issue, and then the U.F. Off compilation (plus the Ultra Rare Tracks bootleg which is where I've taken it from). It contains a sample of Hudson and Landry's comedy routine The Hippy and the Redneck.
Towers Of Dub (Ambient Mix)
Once you've digested that you can go here and grab The Orb Presents: Full Orbient, a nine track podcast mix from 2008, introduced by Alex Paterson and then full of treats, remixes and versions from The Dream. Well worth downloading, sitting back and letting it slide over you at the end of the working week.
Thursday, 19 May 2016
It's my birthday today so please allow me to indulge myself with an Andrew Weatherall mix from the Rainbow Disco Club, a sultry and slow burning mix that bumps and grinds for just over an hour and ends up going all cosmic. Plenty of vocal tracks in there too.
The Visitor 'Walk With Me'
DJ Kaos 'Hard To Earn'
The Revenge 'MDMF'
Rhythm Odyssey and Dr Dunks 'Fox'
Echo Echo 'Synths Of Jupiter'
Midlake 'Maribol Nor'
Mondowski 'Klub Psycho'
Guti and Fosky 'Shiva'
Anzano 'Manilla Gold'
Reading that tracklist I'm pretty much none-the-wiser.
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Drew and I agreed on Twitter the other night that Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve's own re-animation of their recent single Diagram Girl is a thing of beauty, one of those records that sounds like summer should. Six and a half minutes of wobbly bass, washes of synth, blissed out vox and hazy modern dance-oriented psychedelia. Just wonderful stuff from Richard Norris and Erol Alkan with an album to follow.
If you like that you should go find Richard Norris' other current project, Circle Sky (a duo with Martin Dubka), and a 12" called Reveal/Interstellar, two massive sounding cuts recorded live using the Moog System 55 modular- analogue acid house achieving lift off for 2016. Annoyingly there don't seem to be any full length listens anywhere but these two preview clips give you enough to be going on with.
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
A creatures of the deep connection today- here's SFA's Gruff Rhys with Shark Ridden Waters, a lovely little piece of Welsh psychedelia from his 2011 solo album Hotel Shampoo. A song that sounds very simple but there's a lot more going on than you might think. Which reminds me- in all of last week's fuss Super Furry Animals released a new single and I haven't heard it yet.
Shark Ridden Waters
Monday, 16 May 2016
Since Thursday night this Fall song from a 1988 Peel Session has been referenced a lot on Twitter and elsewhere. Not sure why. I'm sure any similarity between it and other new songs are purely coincidental. Blistering stuff from my favourite line up of The Fall. I don't have an mp3 of it right now so it's a Youtube clip only.
Sunday, 15 May 2016
It's that time again, one of the most enjoyable two hours of each month, Andrew Weatherall and the contents of his record bag at NTS Radio. Music's Not For Everyone this time around has The Liminanas, Cavern Of Anti-Matter, Mad Professor, Danny McVey and loads of stuff you haven't heard before but will go searching for. And two Weatherall remixes, The Liminanas and Deadstock 33s. Just what you need.
Saturday, 14 May 2016
An extra post for Saturday. David Byrne is sixty four today. Sixty four! This performance by the expanded version of Talking Heads in Rome in 1980 is astonishing. 'Fuckin' nuts...next level shit!' as one Youtube commenter has it.
Ok, let's do this. The internet consensus is that the new Stone Roses single, All For One, is dreadful and that includes the opinions of people I know whose taste counts for something in my eyes. The problems, in no particular order, are a) the lyrics b) the tune c) the guitar playing d) the drumming and (lack of) bass and e) the written for the football stadium nature of it. It arrived like Roses things do with a sense of event, fanfare and expectation. It was the first time I've listened to Radio 1 for I don't know how long. They're on a hiding to nothing really, the weight of expectation, the gap, the silence since the re-union gigs, all mean that almost whatever they put out would be not enough.
But still, a) the lyrics- yes, dreadful, completely. The Dogtanian theme tune. If they're an attempt at an early 90s positivity, power-to-the-people style vibe, they've missed the mark. The buckets of reverb on Ian's multi-tracked vocals don't distract from the fact that these are unfinished, half thoughts that needed to be reworked. b) the tune- I don't mind it, it's sticks. There's something lurking in there. I've been trying to like it. c) Squire's guitar playing is the highlight for me, and pretty restrained by Second Coming standards. The comparisons to Beady Eye and The Seahorses are a tad unfair- the riff, breakdown and re-entry at two minutes thirty something and solo are pretty good to these ears. d) The drumming- it does seem to lack Reni's trademark fluidity, thumping away in a Ringo manner. The bass is submerged beneath everything else. e) It's undoubtedly been written with football stadia in mind, all together now, sun going down, 'in harmony, all one family' as Ian sings, beery blokes with shaggy haircuts hugging and spilling their lager. Which is a shame- if they've started writing for their perceived audience then they have got a problem. Because if you take the feedback fade in, the riff, the solo, the phased sections and remix them, pull the FX forward and drop the words further back, make it more experimental and psychedelic, rather than something to be bawled back at you by 75, 000 people, then you've got something that picks up where they left off at some point two and a half decades ago. Not a single maybe but a song. And this is the real issue with it- it does sound, as people have said, like a song from a mid-90s Britpop compilation rather than the headspinning, sweet rush of the psyche-pop Roses of Don't Stop or Elephant Stone or the fluid dance influenced Roses of Fool's Gold or Begging You or the lighter than air Roses of Waterfall or This Is The One. They've mistaken muscle for swagger, volume for presence.
Their recorded legacy (such as it is and they're in danger of pissing it away) rests on the eleven songs on the debut lp, the Elephant Stone and Sally Cinnamon singles, a clutch of B-sides from the album sessions (Standing Here, Going Down, Mersey Paradise, Where Angels Play) and the shimmering, mutant funk of Fool's Gold. What they had in '89 was a sound that managed to be progressive- it was 60s influenced but it was moving forward. Those songs weren't written and recorded to be played in stadia- they were just written and recorded. They've become a stadium band since then- even in 1995 they were playing halls like the Apollo not arenas. If All For One was written in a shared flat in Chorlton and performed at a polytechnic student union building with a low stage and ceiling it would be a totally different song. The massiveness of those gigs three years ago and the groups growing reputation with the now grown up children of the original fans has totally altered their approach- on the basis of this song. There's a chance that the album may be better, more nuanced and varied. The other problem here is that the music All For One harks back to is a debased currency- mid 90s, Dadrock. No one wants that- except I suppose a large proportion of the 150, 000 people who bought tickets for the shows this summer. I think they need to show that they've moved on, that the progressive nature that led them from Sally Cinnamon to Fool's Gold is still there and that the lightness of touch they had that characterises their best songs is not lost. Instead they're aiming for back row, half a mile form the stage
For the record then, and I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I feel like it- I don't think All For One is dreadful. But it's not great either. It's alright- I can almost quite like it. But if it wasn't them, I wouldn't listen to it more than once. Yet here we are, loads of us, talking about it.
Two further things- in the summer of 1990 we waited ages for the new Roses single. It was delayed, the cover art had to be redone, the release date kept changing. Then it came out, One Love, the follow up to Fool's Gold, a band at the peak of their powers and the height of their notoriety, and .... it was a bit of a let down. A decent tune, a shuffly drumbeat, early 90s positivity and power-to-the-people lyrics, but falling short. That was the moment their forward momentum stalled. John Squire said later he didn't like the song, that it felt like they were selling something for someone. Sound familiar?
I've written about The Second Coming before, a flawed, overcooked, guitar rock album with a handful of genuine thrills. I've long thought that if you could get hold of the mastertapes and had the technical skills, you could make a really interesting version- a long, drawn out twenty or twenty-five minute single track, an Orb style excursion, an Amorphous Androgynous psychedelic mix. Take the ambient, club influenced intro to Breaking Into Heaven and it's burst into menace, the shimmering shards of Ten Storey Love Song, fade into and out of the campfire acoustic guitars of Tightrope and the wide eyed Your Star Will Shine, drop the vox in and out dub stylee, break down into Mani's bass and Reni's drums from Daybreak or Straight To The Man and then build up into Begging You. That, in my head, is where Don't Stop, Waterfall, Shoot You Down, the backwards tapes experiments of some of those early B-sides, Fool's Gold and Something's Burning were heading. A headtrip. And that's what All For One and whatever comes next should be.
How on earth have I got this much text out of three minutes thirty seven seconds of disappointment? Come on chaps, dig a little deeper and give us a little bit of something else.
And as a final thing, a few weeks back I saw this and it makes me smile...
Go Home Productions - Begging Kylie from BorisB High Def on Vimeo.
Friday, 13 May 2016
Techno wunderkid Daniel Avery put out an e.p. in 2012 that had this grimy song as its closing track- techno in tone maybe but post-punk in sound, a grinding bassline dredged up from Joy Division or Killing Joke's subconscious and a female voice intoning a single line about memory loss.
Thursday, 12 May 2016
Just to prove this isn't solely a dance music blog here's one of Big Audio Dynamite's clubbiest songs. Hmm, maybe this has become a dance music blog. The Bottom Line is arguably the highest highpoint of the debut album and the 12" mix, all eight minutes forty seconds of it, shows exactly how far Mick and B.A.D. were moving on from the wreckage of The Clash. It's worth bearing in mind that Joe's Clash Mk II put out Cut The Crap at the same time. On the 7" and album versions the song fades out with Mick singing 'Let me take you to, let me take you to, Part Two'. The 12" mix follows through with the second half. At just past the five minute mark the beats toughen up at bit, Mick raps about Romeo and the whole thing continues with that juddering bassline and a joie de vivre that make it irresistible. The lyrics in the first half are great, full of catchy one liners, 'dancing to the tune of economic decline' and that brilliant use of the 'the horses are on the track' sample. There were multiple versions of the single, including a U.S. one with a Rick Rubin Def Jam mix. But this is the one. Taken from the UK 12" release, it has never been re-issued or released digitally or on cd as far as I'm aware, which is baffling, because it's the version of this song that you really need.
The Bottom Line (UK 12" Mix)
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
I've got two fairly obscure remixes from the minimal techno/electro days of Two Lone Swordsmen for you today, both rediscovered in the last couple of weeks. The first is typical of Weatherall and Tenniswood's sound in 1997, a remix of Kingston by 4AM (released on a Glasgow Underground sampler). Nine minutes long, the beat is stiff and unchanging but over the top all kinds of sounds are allowed to come in and out, some of the sub-aquatic and ambient Swordsmen sounds, some Detroit influenced stuff and also what sounds like a flute. Back in 97 I was a bit non-fussed by this one but right now I like this machine funk headnodder a lot.
Kingston (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix)
Also from 1997 is this remix of Clarisse C, a track by The Money Penny Project (as far as I can tell the recording name for French dj and producer Benoit Bellini). This is a funkier affair, all twelve minutes of it, twisting and turning, constantly led forward by that drum machine. Takes you out and then brings you back in again.
Clarisse C (Two Lone Swordsmen Double Mutator Mix)
Tuesday, 10 May 2016
I got back into A Man Called Adam's debut album a few weeks ago and some of its songs are really sticking with me. I'm not sure it's a full lost classic and it did seem a bit underwhelming when it came out back in 1991 but I think it's got a lot going for it- maybe it's just where my musical head is at right now. Barefoot In The head is an undeniable Balearic classic and Chrono Psionic Interface is a trippy treat too (plus those outstanding Weatherall mixes). The whole album is a brave attempt to pull all those hippy-acid house Ibizan vibes together. Bread, Love And Dreams calls for some kind of revolution as the sun goes down at the Cafe del Mar. Midieval has a lovely groove and Righteous Life is a beauty too, the Roland 909 thumping away as Sally sings her heart out. Opener and title track The Apple is my current one to go to- starting out with street and traffic soundsand the bass drum, the synths join in and then the vocals start with 'pick up the pieces of your day'. Stabs of synth strings add some drama and arms are raised aloft as it builds, full of early 90s optimism, positivity and warmth. The vinyl ended with Barefoot but the cd release added the chart aiming single I Want To Know. You might have a copy filed away unplayed for two decades. If not you can pick up a copy second hand pretty cheaply. It's probably at the download store of your choice too. Worth revisiting I think.
Monday, 9 May 2016
I found this again recently, Orbital's The Naked And The Dead, the B-side to their monumental 1992 Halcyon single. The Naked And The Dead samples Scott Walker doing Jacques Brel and borrows the title of Norman Mailer's 1948 World War II novel. It is just shy of seven minutes of pounding, heady, forward thinking techno.
The Naked And The Dead
Sunday, 8 May 2016
Fluke made a good progressive house sound, pumping bass with whooshing synths and were in demand as remixers- they worked some magic on Bjork and New Order to name but two. This 1993 single Slid came out in a variety of formats and mixes, all designed for playing at loud volume in bars and clubs and the chances are if you were out clubbing at this time you'd have danced to this. It stays just the right side of handbag with that insistent percussion and groove.
Saturday, 7 May 2016
Friday, 6 May 2016
I like this from The Long Champs, remixed by Rich Lane, Y Llwynog (Welsh for the fox, also a poem by R. Williams Parry). A fox walked down the road with me the other night, when I was coming home from seeing Gwenno (Welsh synchronicity), no more than a few feet from me but never still enough that I could get a picture- and credit where it's due, the one above was captured by a talented wildlife photographer named Sam Hobson. Anyway, the track is a splendid piece of 2016 chuggy house with weird noises.
Thursday, 5 May 2016
After Beth Orton looking back at 1973 today has Edwyn Collins looking back at 1977 via The Clash's Year Zero statement and that line they'd be measured against by music journalists for ever; 'No Beatles, Elvis or the Rolling Stones in 1977'. Edwyn tackles it with acoustic guitar, plenty of oomph and obvious love for the song.
Wednesday, 4 May 2016
Beth Orton is back and has put away the acoustic guitar and replaced it with synths and programmed drums. One half of Fuck Buttons, Andrew Hung, is on production if you need another reference to convince you to give it a listen. 1973 is a sumptuous piece of electronica, with an 80s groove and Beth's sweet vocals. Her first album Trailer Park had production by Weatherall and William Orbit and this song revisits those and updates them in fine style. Album Kidsticks is out at the end of the month. The video is seductive too, all warm and hazy Californian sun drenched colours...
And this one from 2002 fits right in with it too, Anywhere, remixed beautifully and minimally by Two Lone Swordsmen.
Anywhere (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix)
Tuesday, 3 May 2016
The Sounds Of The Other City is a one day festival at a variety of venues in and around Islington Mill in Salford, a low key rival to Manchester's more famous one. As a result most of the names are pretty well unknown. Salford's Chapel Street is not a place you'de expect to find people milling around between gig venues, tents and gazebos- until recently it was very much the wrong side of the Irwell. Gwenno was performing at St Philip's Church on Sunday night and with one of my brothers I found myself not just watching Gwenno but drinking a beer with her beforehand as crowd and performers milled about the church. The vicar of St Philip's served beers from a trestle table. Without the opportunity to soundcheck properly the group launched into a six song set, Gwenno on vocals, keyboards and iPad with Rhys on bass, drummer Cliff and the natural reverb of the church. Gwenno's songs are attention grabbing live, a combination of noise and melody and that motorik groove, not so floaty or dreamy as on the album, with Gwenno's Welsh language vocals low in the mix. The threepiece built up a head of steam through to last year's single Chwlydro and set closer Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki, which threatened to go all techno, beats from the iPad and the drummer crashing against each other, as the bright blue spotlights and the stained glass worked their magic.
Monday, 2 May 2016
Whatever its official start date to me the May day bank holiday is the real signal of the start of British summertime. Appropriately today's forecast is for rain with occasional sunny spell and a temperature around ten degrees, to follow the snow, ice and sleet we had last week. Unbelievably we were camping this weekend last year. But an extra day off is an extra day off whatever the weather.
Ultramarine's Every Man And Woman Is A Star album from 1991 is well worth getting hold of if you don't have a copy, a very English kind of post-acid house record that brings in a folky ambience and a dash of dub. The phrase pastoral techno gets bandied about which seems silly but hits the spot.
I transferred a load of photos from an old memory card over to the new computer recently and found a load from a day I clearly went a little nuts at Jodrell Bank Observatory, shot after shot of the Lovell telescope. There are enough to accompany blogposts until July.
Sunday, 1 May 2016
Here's a 1991 tune from yesterday's remixers The Grid to welcome in May. Boom is a rolling uptempo, Italo piano led seven minutes worth of music to lift the spirits and expand the mind, messages and bleeps bouncing back to us from a very long way away.
Boom (Deep Space Mix)