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Monday, 30 April 2018
Historically Tross were the camp followers of German mercenary regiments of the 16th century, mainly women, wives and children, who carried baggage, laboured, brought the supplies to the soldiers and performed various support roles. From Tross we get the word dross.
Tross is the name of a band signed to Gothenburg's Hoga Nord Rekords, home to many interesting artists and records. Tross's new album, The Overview Effect, is no exception. Album opener Synthesis sets the tone, an instrumental inspired by the West German groups of the 1970s. From there on in over the course of ten tracks they delve deeper, exploring dance rhythms and spaced out guitars, always light on their feet and looking forward.
Sunday, 29 April 2018
Another month, another run round the block with Mr Weatherall, with plenty in this month's episode to excite and enthrall. It sounds like some of these unreleased Woodleigh Research Facility tracks aren't going to stay unreleased for too long.
Here's the tracklist...
Saturday, 28 April 2018
Listening to and posting the rather excellent new song from Wooden Shjips, Staring At The Sun, made me go back to some of their other releases. I dug out their 2011 album West, a noisy, psychedelic San Franciscan monster, only seven songs long, but what a stretched out, trippy, echo laden seven songs they are- not just monotonous one chord grooves either but beautiful repetition coupled with melodies and riffs. Ripley's monotone, numb, half asleep vocals float over the top. Perfect driving music I've rediscovered. Black Smoke Rise was the album's opening song/vibe...
At this point it is worth spending some time being reminded of Andrew Weatherall's superb remix of Crossing (also from West), one of a series of remixes that showed that back at the star of the decade he was properly back in the game. His remix of Crossing has a kind of grimy grandeur feel to it, San Fran via East London.
Crossing (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
And as an bonus weekend extra, a couple of years ago Wooden Shjips released a limited edition two track 12" on white vinyl, one side being a suitably stoned cover of Serge Gainsbourg's Contact, eight minutes of fuzz and awe.
Friday, 27 April 2018
I've just realised this has been a week of posts made up entirely about new releases. It wasn't planned that way, it just happened, but we may as well finish ahead of the weekend with another one. The Tracers is the new single from Johnny Marr, blazing a trial ahead of his new album Call the Comet. Johnny has put out two solo albums in the last few years. The first, The Messenger, came out in 2013 and had some good songs on it, Upstarts especially. It was accompanied by some gigs- the one I attended at The Ritz sticks in the memory as he ploughed his way through his back catalogue (The Smiths and Electronic) as well as a cover of I Fought The Law. The second solo album didn't make the same impact, some of the songs were OK but a few were a little forgettable and but it didn't really achieve lift off.
The new one, thankfully, sounds like a step forward again- a rush of guitars, a driving bassline, some judiciously added 'woo hoo's' and a sense of urgency. Marr seems to have gone back to the music that preceded The Smiths, the post-punk groups of the early 80s. The video looks like it was filmed up on the moors above Manchester where Yorkshire and Lancashire meet, a bit bleak and deserted (and with plenty of pylons).
Thursday, 26 April 2018
The Orb have a new single out ahead of an album in June, titled Doughnuts Forever- which makes it seem a bit throwaway- and the track seemed a bit lightweight at first but repeated listens have revealed its charms. It works its magic slowly, bringing the bass in over piano chords, then heading into Avalanches territory.
The Orb are celebrating their 30th birthday this year, Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlman and whoever else they can get into the studio with them. For this album, No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds, Alex has brought together a stellar cast including Youth, Roger Eno, Hollie Cook and Jah Wobble all of which makes it look like it might be worth looking out for.
Personally I think doughnuts are overrated. Even Randy's.
Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Flash Atkins is here with some uplifting, locked groove, slinky, tech-house, and there's some lovely soulful vocals from Charlie Sinclair- waiting for that hit. Night time music.
The single comes with a remix by Hardway Bros, Sean Johnston bringing the buzzing bass to the fore, stretching it out and sending it into sci fi techno territory.
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
If you like modular synth sounds and repetitive grooves and techno- and I do- then you might find something to enjoy in this collaboration between Carl Craig and Klauss, an Argentinian electro-acoustic ensemble who have been making music in Buenos Aires since the 1980s. Two tracks have been released on Planet E, Carl Craig's legendary Detroit electronic label. Momentum runs to over 12 minutes, a looped synth part setting it going and staying there throughout as the tension builds, some oscillation and a big kick drum. Momentum was the result of an improvised jam and in some ways it sounds like it- but there's plenty to enjoy here, in the sounds and the loops and propulsion.
Monday, 23 April 2018
Yes, I know, wrong day. Today is Lundi.
Dimanche is on this year's Shadow People album by French duo The Liminanas. It's well worth getting hold of if you haven't already- ten tracks recorded at Anton Newcombe's studio, taking in Velvet's fuzz and rhythms, thumping drums, sunglasses and black leather and a guest spot for Peter Hook's bass. Dimanche, with guest vocals from Bertrand Belin, has been remixed by fellow Frenchman Laurent Garnier and it is very good indeed, Garnier adding some clubby dynamics, looping some parts, drawing out the ringing feedback and a sticking a massive kick drum and snare underneath. I think this came out on 12" for Record Store Day.
Sunday, 22 April 2018
I was channel surfing the other night and discovered the Sy Fy channel, somewhere I don't think I'd been before. I became distracted by Escape From New York, already about 45 minutes in, but the combination of John Carpenter's synth score and Snake Plissken's mission to find the President in Manhattan, a walled in maximum security prison in the year 1997, kept me from switching over for a while. Escape From New York is always a joy. It occurred to me that if real life had intervened Snake would have been rescuing Bill Clinton.
It put me in mind of this 2014 release by Maurice and Charles, a chunky, moody, acid funk track peppered with dialogue from the film along with some very Byrne-Eno guitar riffs and rhythms.
Saturday, 21 April 2018
This sudden burst of decent weather- sunshine, in April, uh?!- demands something sunny and suited to beer garden/cafe bar terrace/ghettoblaster in the park/beach at sundown. This 1983 track from Italian drummer/singer Tullio De Piscopo is ideal. It's a crossover record- Italian disco, a minor hit in the UK in 1987, a record played by Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles in Chicago house clubs, by Alfredo in Ibiza, at Shoom and Phuture, by Theo Parrish and at countless other broadminded establishments.
Friday, 20 April 2018
Celebrate the arrival of Friday and the weekend with this- a free download of an Aron Ya reworking of Moon Duo's Sleepwalk (if trancey, psychedelic, repetitive, acid drenched drone rock is your bag. And if it isn't, why isn't it?)
Thursday, 19 April 2018
More from Manchester's musical back pages (and not Morrissey who makes it worse every time he opens his mouth right now- just when you think he can't sink any further he does. Pretty soon it will be impossible to listen to The Smiths without visions of racist, far right fuckwittery). I overheard the opening to Why Can't I Touch It? coming through from the TV and stopped in my tracks to let it go on. Whatever programme it was didn't let it go on very long but it sounded superb, the reggae feel to the drums, the opening riff, all angular and jerky, followed by Pete Shelley's high pitched frustration and confusion (I've always assumed this song is about sexual frustration). The twin guitars stalk around each other while the bass and drums play a kind of Mancunian dub version of Can. Why Can't I Touch It? was released in 1979 and while it doesn't necessarily sound very modern or 2018 it also doesn't sound like it is nearly 40 years old.
Why Can't I Touch It?
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
I found myself humming this song to myself while at work earlier this week- not sure what that tells you. This Too Shall Pass Away was on World Of Twist's 1991 album Quality Street, the 3rd track in after the magnificent opening one-two punch of Lose My Way and Sons Of The Stage. Fading in on some studio chatter and tons of echo and a bubbling bassline, it is a gently sung, swirly piece of psychedelic pop, FX and atmospherics courtesy of producers The Grid. This Too Shall Pass Away is a cover, one of two covers on the album along with their terrific cover of The Stones' She's A Rainbow (and also Sly Stone's Life And Death on the cd version). It was originally by 60s pop combo The Honeycombs, who had a million selling number one with the Joe Meek produced Have I The Right?
This Too Shall Pass Away
Quality Street is often seen as a 'lost' album, a record that slightly missed the boat. The band lost momentum and broke up. Part of this was down to the failure of the album (and not having a massive hit single) which led to the band being dropped. The Manchester wave crested and broke. But it was partly down to the album itself (not that there is anything wrong with the songs or the production). It's the mastering of the volume. It's too quiet. Tony Ogden, who died in 2006, was interviewed about the record and said 'We wanted to make the greatest psychedelic dance rock album ever and there was a lot of coke and E in the studio. But the album came out at half normal volume. We'd spent £250,000 making an album with the smallest bollocks in pop history! The band just fell apart. We were smoking marijuana for breakfast and that led to communication problems. I didn't wanna sing, the guitarist didn't wanna play. When the company didn't get a hit they threw us in the bin. I was devastated - I spent four years on smack watching Third Reich movies because the good guys always win. I'm really sorry for letting our fans down. But I'd ask anyone to play that World of Twist album 20 times with every dial on full. If it doesn't rock, come and smash it over my head.'
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
There's a lot of new music out now or imminently. Hardway Bros will put out a new ep at the end of May, 4 new tracks led off by this one- Friedman Feedback Loop Revision- where Sean Johnston loops some magic over a hi-hat and some drums and then lays waste to your speakers.
Sean's ep releases over the last few years for New York label Throne Of Blood have been uniformly excellent, especially the Pleasure Cry 12" from 2016 (with Argonaut being among the best tracks of the year to Bagging Area ears). If you want to catch up with the back catalogue you can get it all digitally at Bandcamp.
Monday, 16 April 2018
I recently acquired a copy of a 1993 12" single by Ege Bam Yasi- thanks Ctel by the way- and have been coming back to it fairly frequently. Ege Bam Yasi was from Inverness, born James MacDonald, an early adopter of acid house and has been making records since 1986. He took his stage name from the famous Can album and in 1993 put out a cover of Can's only hit single I Want More, recorded with Edinburgh's Finiflex. There are 3 mixes on the 12", each one based to a greater or lesser extent around the Michael Karoli guitar riff, and clearly intended as much for the floor as for home listening. This one has a vocal sample, the instruction 'everybody listen', that choppy riff, some flute and a crunchy Finitribe/Finiflex rhythm. After one minute thirty-ish it becomes increasingly acid house.
I Want More (Malcolm Eggs Mixegg)
Sunday, 15 April 2018
A new two track release (digital and 12") from Toby Tobias, Second Stimulus and Syncro Surfer using up all the S alliteration. Second Stimulation is an eight minute journey through staccato synths and a machine pulse with intermittent bass. Syncro Surfer is a Detroit-esque rush of sirens and hi-hats, clattering percussion and bleepy pulses. This sort of thing is really pushing my buttons right now.
Saturday, 14 April 2018
Fireflies are Nina Walsh and Frank Alba and have recorded some weird, spooky folk music in the recent past. This song is something else though, a post punk bassline and some electronic atmospherics over which author Gareth E. Rees gives a compelling spoken word performance, a vision of Duncan Sharp, becoming increasingly intense over its seven minutes. The track was recorded live at Weird Shit in Hastings last year and is as good a way to disturb your Saturday morning as any.
Friday, 13 April 2018
I got in from work yesterday to an email from Bicep promoting the release of a new ep. The first two songs are Rain and an edit of Rain. Rain was on their their debut album from last year but it's always a treat to hear it- a few minutes of euphoria. Luke Wyatt has produced a new video for it, a mix of film footage, glitches and effects. It is very trippy and in places may/will freak you out.
The ep comes with a new track called Helix- a big kick drum, washes of warmth and modular synth bleeps. Listen on the Bandcamp player and then buy here.
Thursday, 12 April 2018
In which our guide and house dj Mr Weatherall plays some songs in a field at a festival somewhere outside Milan last summer. Over the course of this 50 minute film he makes it all look very effortless indeed and makes spinning a nine minute mid-80s psyche-rock epic from The Dream Syndicate followed by Moon Duo and then AMOR look like the best way, in fact the only way, to move a crowd of youthful and well-lit Italians. Avanti!
Wednesday, 11 April 2018
I was over in Liverpool last week, at the Tate Gallery. There's a show on currently curated by Ken Simons, the art handling manager at Tate Liverpool since it opened in 1988, who recently retired. In the gallery is this Mark Rothko painting, which was hanging in the Tate when I went to university there in September 1988, thirty years ago and which made a big impression on me. So things tied together quite nicely there.
I was scrolling through my downloads folder recently finding tons of music I'd forgotten about and some I wasn't sure I knew anything about. In there was this Richard Norris remix, a well Balearic take on an ode to the timespan between Friday evening and Sunday evening by Molly Wagger (from Edinburgh, moved to London, mixed up disco, indie and shoegaze). This came out back in 2010, followed by an album in 2011. Their Twitter and Facebook accounts don't seem to have been updated since 2016 so I'm guessing they've called it a day. This remix is very good, nicely suited to these lighter evenings we're getting and if it's a few days early, then maybe we should all try and be a bit more weekend on a Wednesday.
Weekend (Richard Norris Balearic Remix)
Tuesday, 10 April 2018
This is a piece of Turkish psychedelic folk, from Insanlar, the in-house band at Istanbul's club Minimuzihkol (led by Baris K and Cem Yildiz). Kime Ne originally came out in 2013 and was then re-released by Honest Jon's in 2015 but I only discovered it recently thanks to a recording of Weatherall and Johnston playing their A Love From Outer Space night at Zukunft back in January. This is seriously good, a proper 'woah, rewind that and play it again' track.
Monday, 9 April 2018
Back to work today after two weeks off. Not ideal. Two weeks is long enough to get out of the habit and really not want to get back into the routine.
I saw a day or two ago that Steven Bochco had died. He was the man behind loads of US TV series. The one that meant the most to me was Hill Street Blues which I got into around 1986 or 87, watching it on Channel 4 on a big box style TV, bought second hand, in my bedroom. Genuinely groundbreaking TV, with a big ensemble cast, a gritty realism to its story lines and a documentary feel in the way it was filmed, it weaved dozens of stories and narratives, nearly overloading the viewer. By the time I started watching it it was well into its run, having started in 1981, but I didn't get the feeling that it had mellowed or gone off the boil. I've never been a big fan of cop shows either but Hill Street made a massive impression.
Hill Street Blues also had a very good and very recognisable theme tune written by Mike Post, who was responsible for many TV theme tunes and had already written a classic with The Rockford Files. The opening piano chords are wonderful and then the dramatic descending part before the piano kicks in again (watch out for that guitar solo from Larry Carlton though in this full length version, it can be a bit too much for some tastes). I have this on 7" in a very battered sleeve. Now I need to watch Hill Street Blues again, starting right at the beginning I suppose.
Theme From Hill Street Blues
Sunday, 8 April 2018
This two hour set Sean Johnston did at his kitchen table for Diggers Directory at Stamp The Wax is a delight- a slow motion but building selection of cosmische, cosmic disco, New Beat and ALFOS styled chuggers, controls set for the heart of the, um, kitchen. Kitchen dancing is the best.
Saturday, 7 April 2018
In 1978 Brian Eno released Ambient 1: Music For Airports, an album designed to take away the anxiety of waiting to fly. Divided into four sections, each one layering tape loops of different lengths, it was one of the starting points for what became ambient music. The four tracks were meant to played in a loop and are all distinct from each other. In 1/1 a piano part is repeated and other instruments fade in and out, falling into and out of sync with each other, sounding very planned but no doubt full of happy accidents. Pleasingly, this week London City Airport has been playing the album in tribute to its fortieth birthday. Back in the late 70s Lester Bangs said the album had a 'crystalline, sunlight-through-windowpane quality' and I'm not going to do any better than that as a description.
Jez Kerr, bassist and singer of A Certain Ratio, posted this earlier this week, a very slowed down, time stretched version of the Music For Airports that lasts not for 48 minutes but for 6 hours. You will likely never play it through in its entirety but it is totally absorbing and demands your attention even though it is supposed to be background music.
Friday, 6 April 2018
Theresa Wayman is the latest member of Warpaint to make a break for it and release some solo stuff outside the band, under the name TT. This song came out a month ago, a long, dark and sinuous song that has bags of atmosphere but not at the expense of the tune. Album to follow.
Thursday, 5 April 2018
Dr Alex Paterson of The Orb has been doing a short dj tour recently, playing small venues, promising a smattering of Orb tunes in his set. I went to Night And Day last Thursday night to see him. There can't have been more than 40 or 50 people there, several of them middle aged men on their own (like me). It was good fun, Alex playing Perpetual Dawn (Ultrabass II), Little Fluffy Clouds and A Huge Evergrowing Brain...., dropping in all sorts of stuff and mixing parts of the songs in and out. Little Fluffy Clouds breaking down briefly into God Only Knows, that sort of thing. The dancefloor got busy fairly quickly and stayed that way until the end (an early curfew of 10.45). Good fun.
The Orb are blessed/cursed with an array of bootlegs, demos and alternative versions and mixes. This track, dreamy ambient dub starting out at NASA mission control, came on The Best Of Volume- Wasted and is also on a bootleg album called The Visitor.
Reefer Spin In The Galaxy
Wednesday, 4 April 2018
While visiting Ikea last week I took this shot from the car park, looking west towards Manchester city centre through a kind of letterbox. It reminded me of the letterbox format that videos and dvds used to have, supposedly the connoisseur's choice for watching films.
And while looking for something else (A Man Called Adam's Easter Song, a boat I have missed, for this year at least) I found this- William Orbit's The Story of Light. From his 1993 Strange Cargo III album and the second volume of the Cafe Del Mar compilations, this is a rich, sumptuous piece of 1990s positivity. It might make your day a little better.
The Story Of Light
Tuesday, 3 April 2018
In a similar lyrical vein to Russ Litten's spoken word work with Steve Cobby (posted yesterday) come Leicester's Echolocation, back for another round, grappling with the truth. The vocals tackle (as Cobby and Litten did yesterday but more opaquely) life in Brexit Britain and the impact of Trump with songs like Post Truth and Alt-Facts but also offer a more surreal and impressionistic version of the 21st century (see Day Of The Dads and Death Threats). On previous albums the sound was more democratic with a variety of instruments and a widescreen, soundscape approach. On Obfuscation For The Nation the guitars are centre stage, riffs and distortion to the fore, riding on top of driving drums and bass, with synths and keys adding texture. They recently performed with Damo Suzuki as his band when he played Leicester- Suzuki uses local groups as 'sound carriers' when he plays live. 'Can you read between the lines?' Echolocation ask, 'Do you know your own mind? Can you make up your own mind? Stay on topic!' Worth considering I say. Buy it here.
Monday, 2 April 2018
On Easter Sunday I took the train over to Liverpool to an event in The Merchant advertised as An Afternoon With Andrew Weatherall. When we arrived Bernie Connor and a friend were playing a set of blues, ska and dub beforehand. Weatherall played a collection of tunes that redefine eclectic- rockabilly was the starting point but it went to all kinds of other musical and geographic places during the subsequent two hours, in a nice bar to an appreciative crowd. And as the picture shows, I had my photo taken with him. There are all sorts of things you think you might say in these circumstances, all sorts of comments that could be made, to a man whose musical journey I've been following since 1989. In the end I probably just came across as a bit of a bumbling idiot. When I approached him he said 'we've met before haven't we?', which I don't think we have apart from a time in Cream back in the mid 90s when I shook his hand after he'd finished raising the roof a little. So either he mistook me for someone else or he has a very good memory for faces.
At the end of last week Weatherall was back for his monthly show at NTS, Music's Not For Everyone, which apart from the usual broadminded record selection includes a new dub he's done for Django Django and a new one from the man himself with Nina Walsh and Andy Bell (from Ride).
Acid house dj encounters continued when we got back to Manchester. We got off the train at Oxford Road and headed into The Refuge, where Richard Norris was spinning a very danceable set of cosmic disco. So...
I have to report that leaving an hour or two later we didn't bump into any further acid house djs. I was kind of hoping David Holmes or Terry Farley might be spinning records/cds as we passed some local pubs and that I could get a triptych, but it was not to be. As a day out it was all kinds of fun. Happy Easter.
If you're at a loose end this Bank Holiday Monday and have 99 pence (or more) to spare you could do a lot worse than download the new album from Hull pairing Steve Cobby and Russ Litten. Spoken word and poetry from Litten, a state of Brexit Britain address and response to Trump et al, set against the electronic funk, house and soul of Cobby. Innovative, inspired and on the money.
Sunday, 1 April 2018
Portrait of Space, Lee Miller, 1937
Back in 2009 Andrew Weatherall remixed Can I Colour In Your Hair? by Lark and apart from appearing on Soundcloud it has been unreleased ever since. The remix is a rocking dub version, bouncing rhythms and echo, a wiry guitar part and repeated chants of 'fire!' It operates in the same space as the pair of remixes Weatherall did of Steve Mason's Boys Outside at around the same time. Top quality stuff. At some point in the next few months it will be released on 7" vinyl by Care In The Community Recordings and it is definitely a case of better late than never.