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Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Concord

Back in 2014 Underworld released a deluxe anniversary edition of 1994's dubnobasswithmyheadman album, a double CD, the original album coupled with a disc of extras. dubnobass... was one of the 1990s greatest albums, possibly its greatest- a visionary, triumphant, darkly euphoric ride, dance music's rhythms, space and production (and the DJ nous of recently arrived member Darren Emerson) hitched to what was left of Karl Hyde's guitar playing and Karl's cut up vocals. Melodic streamlined techno. The sleeve suggested what was within, words typed and repeated, overlaid, copied and pasted in layers of black and white, a computer having some kind of breakdown. 

The extras disc is a brilliant alternative eighty minutes to the album, a collection of earlier releases, standalone singles and off cuts from the album. It opens with the stellar Eclipse and includes Dirty (both from the Lemon Interrupt 12"), Rez, a standalone 12" and maybe their single greatest moment (without doubt one of the weirdest moments of the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony was when it suddenly became clear that the athletes of the world were parading round the Olympic stadium to Rez), Spikee (a 1993 12" single), the sinuous, epic Dark Train version of Dark And Long and three tracks that were recorded at the same time as dubnobass... but which didn't make the final cut. Of these three extras- Concord, Can You Feel Me? and Birdstar- Concord sounds like one which could easily have sneaked on if running time had allowed. It opens with a distorted voice, unclear and smothered in echo, before a familiar thumping, heartbeat rhythm glides in and Karl's spoken voice starts out with one of those stream of consciousness vocals, lines from notebooks and overheard conversations, 'I'm delighted/ I'm higher than Concord'. A moment later then he seems to be switching through the news channels, 'it's an honour for the home team... rebel forces massing in Georgia... huge fat prices... here comes  Moscow... Mother Theresa's ready... It's an all time low... higher than Concord...'. On and on it goes, the thump of the drums, the warm fat bass and Karl flicking through the news and reporting back, beautifully disorienting. 

Concord

Monday, 1 March 2021

Monday's Long Song

 Last week Underworld released a new remix of Cowgirl, one of the brain melting standouts from their 1994 dubnobasswithmyheadman album, one of those albums I can play, know every single moment of and still find fresh. Cowgirl Remix id2 A1804 is/was available as a free download (for five days only), as a limited edition 12" single (sold out) and limited edition t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodie, tote bag and lithograph (all still available at the time of writing, here). The remix is seventeen minutes long, stretched out and wigged out building to buzzing climax around twelve minutes thirty before the squiggling acid part re- enters, and while it seems to be a fairly close relation of the Irish Pub In Kyoto Mix from 1994, it's pretty exciting to hear it rejigged again for 2021.  


The five day free download has expired it seems. 

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Blue And Green

Yesterday felt like the first day out of the winter, maybe not spring but a step towards it- sun shining, blue skies, wispy clouds, first shoots of flowers appearing. 

Brian Eno's work has always been very linked to colours, from his album with his brother Roger last year (Mixing Colours) all the way back to the 70s. Deep Blue Day is beautiful piece of work, recorded for his 1983 Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks album and re- used in 1996 in Trainspotting in the scene where Renton dives into The Worst Toilet In Scotland in search of a suppository. Deep Blue Day (recorded with Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois) is gorgeous, an gently ecstatic drift of synths and pedal steel guitar.

Deep Blue Day

That gives me the excuse, if one were needed, to post this re-edit by Mojo Filter of Eno's 1975 classic Another Green World, Eno's semi- ambient, piano led original pushed into Balearic waters with a drumbeat and a truckload of samples, including a child saying 'L- O- V- E, Love'. Play one, then the other- Sunday morning sorted. 

Another Green World (The Blue Realm)

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Something About Love For Glory

Drifting through the Freeview channels a couple of weekends ago I found the old BBC2 programme Sounds Of The Sixties and in my slightly red wine affected haze a black and white performance by Tim Buckley, originally from Late Night Line Up in 1968.


Such a strange combination of instruments and sounds- Buckley's folk guitar, the jazz chords and runs of the guitarist along with the rhythm section of double bass and congas. On top, Buckley's voice with those detours he takes into yodelling. The TV says the song is called I'm Coming Home but the song as it appeared on his 1969 album was called Happy Time. I found it very odd but entrancing when it was on and as soon as it finished I rewound the TV and watched it again, unexpectedly drawn in by Tim Buckley's psychedelic jazz- folk fusion.

This song, from 1967, is a bit less startling but still pretty hypnotic, a three and a half minute swirl, the words and the voice tumbling over the music (piano, acoustic guitar, drums), no chorus or hooks to speak of, just this acoustic psychedelic flow

Phantasmagoria In Two


Friday, 26 February 2021

Discomfort

One of my favourite songs of last year was Formerlover's Correction Dub, a track released on a compilation called Galactic Service Broadcasting Vol. 1 last May. Justin Robertson and Sofia Hedblum combined dub space and bass with Nigerian rhythms and a vocal giving instructions and asking questions via a late night chat line. Video here


In September last year there was a second Formerlover release which to my shame I missed until this week. Bassline from Jamaica, percussion from Lagos, slide guitar from the Delta, echo from the 1960s, a surf guitar lick, a Miami beach vibe, another unmissable vocal- not only do these seemingly disparate influences work together really well but sound like they were made specifically for each other, like four different records playing at once. Buy it and a dub version at Bandcamp and put some shimmy into your Friday.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Acid Story

This photo was taken at dusk somewhere near the French/ Belgian border in July 2016- I remember the date but not the exact location. I'm going to say Belgium because that allows my tour of Europe through holiday photos to extend into another day and the excuse to post some Belgian New Beat. 

In 1987/ 1988 northern France and Belgian clubs played a style of music known as Electronic Body Music, a hard edged dance music made by groups like DAF, Front 242 and Die Krupps, a sort of tough punkish dance music. At the Ancienne Belgique nightclub in Brussels DJ Dikke Ronny accidentally played Flesh by A Split- Second at the wrong speed, 33 instead of 45rpm, but with the pitch control at +8 and the crowd's reaction sent him looking for other records to pitch down- repetitive beats, sequenced basslines, sirens, sampled voices slowed down issuing commands. 

Flash

Early house records fitted in with the sound as did records by 80s electronic artists such as Fad Gadget and the techno and acid coming out of Detroit and Chicago in the late 80s. The scene was short lived, eventually replaced by house, but the This Is New Beat compilation spread the sound beyond Belgium. This track, a collision of acid and New Beat was made by Italian Bruno Sanchioni under the name Dr. Phibes and released on Belgian label DiKI Records in 1988, sparse, hypnotic, underground music.  

Acid Story


Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Audio Trip


I don't know if posting photographs of beautiful places in Europe I've been to in the last decade is the best way to deal with lockdown in February but yesterday's picture of the Alps suggested I follow suit, so I'm heading heading south- east out of France and over the Alps to Italy. In July 2018 I spent a week there, a few days in Rome (top) and then a few in Sorento including a visit to Pompeii (bottom), on a school trip so I had a party of fifty- six teenagers with me. Returning to Italy is something I'd really like to do if/ when we can go abroad again (and maybe next time without responsibility for fifty- six teenagers). In the late 80s and early 90s Italy was home to some of the best house producers on the planet. This track is from Dreamatic, released in 1991, euphoric and dreamy Italo house with one of those sumptuous basslines you feel like you could ride on and floaty synths and a very apt title. 

Audio Trip