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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The History Of All Truth


Stephen  Morris is about to put his view of life in Joy Division and New Order into the public domain to put alongside Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook's versions (for the record Barney's was pretty disappointing, his account of his younger life growing up in Salford was interesting but after that it became a boring read. He skipped most of the 1980s because he thought people would find him describing how they made their greatest records dull and then spent the last two chapters detailing the collapse of relations with Hooky. Hooky's books were scurrilous, entertaining and full of the sort of details that I did want to read but his frequent references to Bernard as Twatto show how big the distance between them is and put downs of Gillian were unnecessary).

Stephen Morris' drumming is a massive part of the sound of his two bands. His travails with Hannett while recording Unknown Pleasures are well documented but clearly paid off. His synth drums on She's Lost Control are wonderful and the drum sound and drumming on Transmission b-side Novelty are among the best I've ever heard. Early New Order singles and albums are full of brilliantly recorded drum parts, as much part of the NO sound as Hooky's bass, the homemade kit keyboards and Barney's vocals- all of which are perfectly demonstrated on this 12" single from April 1984, a high point for the band, the record label and the 1980s as a whole.

Thieves Like Us

As if giving their fans a magnificent standalone single wasn't enough they coupled it with a gem of a b-side too, opening with Hooky's brilliant bass and some spikey guitar playing from Barney and another of his fragile vocals. Then the wall of synths come in. Lonesome Tonight, with it's pisstake title, is a masterpiece.

Lonesome Tonight

The lyrics of Lonesome Tonight are classic early New Order, that mixture of written to rhyme with personal point of view suddenly switching into something portentous- check the change here in the first verse from 'you turned your back on me' to two lines later 'the history of all truth'

I walk along the street
I look into your eyes
I'm pleasant when we meet
I'm there when you go home
How many times before
Could you tell I didn't care?
When you turned your back on me
I knew we'd get nowhere
Do you believe in youth
The history of all truth
A heart that's left at home
Becomes a heart of stone


Stephen's take on events should be interesting. He often comes across as the most thoughtful and considered of the surviving members of Joy Division. He's doing a short book tour to promote it with a Q and A session conducted by Dave Haslam starting at the Dancehouse in Manchester next Thursday and then going to Liverpool, Hebden Bridge and Newcastle (which looks a bit like a New Order world tour itinerary from 1985). Tickets for the Manchester event are here if you fancy it. See you there.

Dave Haslam is a Manchester mainstay since arriving in the city in the early 80s- DJ at the Hacienda and the Boardwalk, gig promoter, journalist and author, record label boss (Play Hard) and cultural commentator. From 1980 onwards, if something was happening in the Manchester area, the chances are he was involved or present. His latest book Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor is out now in paperback. Well worth reading if you want to peek inside Manchester's music scene as seen and lived by Dave from 1980 to the present. Someone described it as 'the literary equivalent of a brilliant chat with your best mate' which is a good take on it and it's refreshingly ant-nostalgic too. 

Monday, 29 April 2019

Monday's Long Song


This came out back in 2013 and I posted it back then and again in 2014 but it was among the piles of records that I was sorting through when the big sort out/Kallax construction took place recently and I thought it would fit this series perfectly. Beachcombing is a fifteen minute collaboration between New York composer Peter Gordon, a man who worked with Arthur Russell and Laurie Anderson, and Nik Void and Gabe Gurnsey of Factory Floor. Beachcombing sounds a bit like a 45 rpm record slowed down to 33, the pitter-patter of a drum machine, slow and warped tones, woozy almost inaudible vocals from Nik and waves and surges of analogue, modular synths and sweet bursts of saxophone. It  builds and holds a trance-like state that is easy to get lost in and if it doesn't improve your Monday morning, I don't know what will.

Beachcombing

Sunday, 28 April 2019

April's Not For Everyone


It's that time of the month again when Weatherall rifles through his big box of songs...



The tracklist can be found here. The picture comes from a series of photographs taken by Carolina Sandretto who set out to document the lost world of Cuba's cinemas. More here.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Way To The Show


Solange, Beyonce's younger sister, has an album out called When I Get Home, that is beginning to sink into my consciousness. It is definitely based in modern r'n'b but has some psychedelic soul and woozy, cosmic, jazz angles, a set of songs that are short and sketchy and which flow by in a dreamlike state, lines of vocal repeated, Moog riffs, choruses that sort of flutter about, Stevie Wonder-esque Fender Rhodes piano parts, songs about politics and identity and strange shifts in tone- but it all hangs together and despite looking like a long slog when viewed through the nineteen song track list, the album doesn't feel like it at all. Invigorating and inventive and requiring some attention but also likely to still be being played in months to come. This one keeps me clicking back to the start.

Friday, 26 April 2019

New Routes


It's only a matter of weeks, days really, since I discovered Mark Peters' Innerland album- a record that has barely left my turntable- and now it's been followed by a remixed version, released last Friday, titled New Routes Out Of Innerland. Which is good news for exploring more new music and hearing new versions of his ambient- comische- Northern- shoegaze but will likely be bad news for my bank balance. The eight guitar led instrumentals on Innerland have been reworked by a variety of people- Andi Otto, Olga Wojciechowska, Brian Case, Moon Gangs, Odd Nosdam, E Ruscha V and Jefre Canta-Ledesma- but the remix of choice right now is this one by Ulrich Schnauss.



All the remixers above are worth investigating further if you've the time (and the money). If you're fond of the works of Tangerine Dream and sci-fi soundtracks you'll probably enjoy this album by Moon Gangs (a pseudonym for pianist William Young).



Delving further I found this album by E Rushka V, bubbling synths and a melodic, sunny side up disposition, beamed in from Los Angeles.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Teenage Birdsong


A new track from Four Tet, a melodic, blissful and optimistic instrumental that harks back to his Rounds album but also shows that he rarely stands still, that he's always looking to move things forward. Short and sweet and springlike.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Khasha Macka


More from the magic fingers and ears of Lee 'Scratch' Perry. His Black Ark Studio had a four track tape recorder. Max Romeo said Scratch had another eight tracks running in his head. Black Board Jungle came out in 1973, recorded with The Upsetters, is a contender for first dub album, separating the instruments with drums and bass in the left channel and guitars and horns largely in the right. This song, Khasha Macka (a reworking of Prince Django's Hot Tip), is a wonderful trip. Check the splashy cymbals and the part at three minutes where he drops everything out to foreground the bass.

Khasha Macka 

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Rockin' In The Backyard


Back to work today after a fortnight off, so it's a deep breath, time to gird one's loins and get back into it. Reorganising my records recently led to me discovering various things I'd forgotten I had including a 7" of Lee 'Scratch' Perry's 1978 song Roast Fish And Cornbread, four minutes which on their own mark Scratch out as some kind of musical genius. The song opens with him singing 'clip clop, cloppity cloppity cloppity cloppity high' as the offbeat riddim rides in, a cow's mooing utilised as part of the rhythm and Scratch further singing to his own beat- 'dreadnought and peanut, roast fish and cornbread... skanking in the backyard'.

Roast Fish And Cornbread

Monday, 22 April 2019

Looking For The Boys Again


I've spent some of the week just gone addressing storage issues- records and CDs, but mainly records, spilling all over the room and a shortage of shelf space. An Ikea Kallax shelving unit has been purchased and assembled and the order has been restored. Several years worth of record buying has been filed away- some of the ones at the back of the oldest unfiled stack of records dated back to 2012. The situation has now been resolved with all parties happy.

In a box of CDs, mainly discs given away free with music magazines, I found a freebie the long departed Select magazine, dating from December 1999. The CD was a tie in with Xfm (when I hear Xfm Manchester in the barber's they seem to only have the songs of three artists and those artists are Oasis, U2 and Arctic Monkeys). Select did some really good CDs with remixes, B-sides and exclusives that were often worth hanging on to. This CD is not one those CDs so I couldn't work out at first why I'd bothered to save it and why I still had it two decades later.

All the songs are radio sessions and the list of bands is a mixture of late 90s mainstream indie (Travis, Stereophonics, Reef, Gomez, Catatonia), American indie survivors (Sebadoh, The Flaming Lips, Guided By Voices, Mercury Rev), Suede, Skunk Anansie and two bands that I don't know (Seafruit and Merz). None of which explains why this CD must have escaped several culls in the last twenty years. I can only assume it was this- Shack, live in the Xfm studio, playing Mick Head's description of desperately trawling through Kensington, Liverpool, looking for heroin.

Streets Of Kenny (Xfm Session)

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Bringing Me Back To Life


Here's an Easter treat for fans of A Man Called Adam, who've made their 1998 classic Easter Song available for free from their Bandcamp page- and seeing as we're currently basking in some sunshine and warmth this piece of Balearic summer fits perfectly. The special edition includes not just the radio edit of Easter Song but the Cafe del Mar version and some dubs and soundscapes, three lovely short instrumental versions to accompany it, seven tracks to celebrate the rolling away of a stone, Oestra, the hiding of chocolate eggs or just a long bank holiday weekend. It's all here.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Here She Comes Again


Primal Scream's 1986 B-side Velocity Girl is a perfect piece of guitar pop- bright, spindly, quickly strummed guitars rushing all over the place and Bobby Gillespie's tribute to the girl with 'vodka in her veins'. The song is short, just eighty eight seconds long, but has had a huge influence. It was a cornerstone of C86 and on hearing it John Squire went away and rethought how he played guitar and wrote songs (Made Of Stone being one obvious result).

Primal Scream are about to release another best of compilation and unlike 2003's Dirty Hits which took Loaded as the starting point the new singles album , called somewhat depressingly Maximum Rock & Roll, goes back to their roots with Velocity Girl, Gentle Tuesday, Imperial and Ivy Ivy Ivy all included this time around. Velocity Girl is to be put out as a 7" single too so if you missed out first time around, time to get down the record shop and pick a copy up. Douglas Hart has made a video for Velocity Girl, combining footage of Edie Sedgwick with Bobby miming to camera in 2019 (I think I would have been happy with more Edie and less Bobby or at least Edie and a 1986 Bobby). Velocity Girl, it goes without saying, is a fucking fantastic song.



In July 1986 Primal Scream did a session for Janice Long and recorded this version of Velocity Girl, a version which has an extra verse that just about takes it to the two minute mark.

Velocity Girl (Janice Long Session)

Friday, 19 April 2019

A Good Friday


Today is Good Friday. Many people will get today off work and Monday is a bank holiday so that means a four day weekend for most. I'm not back in work until Tuesday. I've got a ticket for Weatherall and Johnston's A Love From Outer Space night at The Refuge tonight. All good.

Here are two good songs, one from The Woodentops and their Hypno Beat Live album, recorded in Los Angeles in 1986 and released in 1987, and the other from Dinosaur Jr and their 2016 album Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not, J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph showing that re-unions can work.

Good Thing (Live)

Good To Know

Thursday, 18 April 2019

You Took My Time And You Took My Money


New Order in the summer of 1987. I was seventeen and was listening to the True Faith single repeatedly that summer, thirty two years ago (Substance, the singles compilation came out in August 1987 too). The band played True Faith on Top Of The Pops and it rose into the top five the week after. They played live, as this clip shows, broadcast recently on BBC4's re-runs of Top Of The Pops. The re-runs are deep into 1987- and it has to be said it was a year of largely terrible music on the nation's favourite chart run down show- most of the episodes can skipped through in minutes with your finger on the fast forward button on the remote control. The week New Order appeared they shared the BBC canteen and dressing rooms with Sinitta and Spagna. This version is, as you'd expect, less sleek and produced than the Stephen Hague single with Hooky's clanging bass more prominent (glorious as the single is) and has a truncated guitar break. I've posted this clip before but watching them the other night I thought it was worth doing again. True Faith is a song I don't get bored of.



True Faith is a New Order tour de force, a single aimed at selling copies in large quantities- earworm keyboards and boom- bash metronomic drumming providing the rush, a song pitched in a sweet spot between pop, indie and dance. Hooky complains in his autobiography Substance that they'd left nowhere for his bass playing in the mix (but he found his way in) and that the only shot of him in the video is his left foot. Bernard was talked into changing a lyric to ensure radio play (altering 'now that we've grown up together/now they're taking drugs with me' to 'now that we've grown up together/ we're not afraid of what we see'). The song feels like a group effort whatever everyone's actual contributions were. I think I read somewhere that Deborah Curtis, Ian's widow, said she couldn't listen to New Order after Ceremony, it was too much following Ian's death, but with True Faith she could listen to them again and enjoy it- which tells you something about the way the song was received and something about the distance travelled from 1980 and Closer to 1987 and True Faith. I love it- partly because at seventeen years old you're so susceptible to these things and partly because it is in some way definitive New Order. It would make it onto any New Order compilation I'd put together.




Peter Saville created a beautiful sleeve, the falling leaf painted gold against the blue background, the leaf idea coming to him as he sat in his car and one fell onto his windscreen. The single was followed by a remix 12" with an alternative Saville sleeve, a remixed version of the song, a different mix of 1963 and also this Shep Pettibone dub.

True Dub

New Order toured in 1987 too, at home and through the USA (the US leg being the scene of much Hook and Sumner debauchery). The graphic on the tour t-shirt below is very 1987.



Last year Denise Johnson, backing singing extraordinaire, released her own, more emotional reading of the song, done acoustically.



Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Innerland


Posting Richard Norris' Group Mind mix on Sunday led to a suggestion from a friend that I might like this album from Mark Peters. Innerland came out in April last year, eight instrumentals named after landmarks in the north west of England. The music is often based around Mark's guitar, his playing echoing Vini Reilly in places, and the tracks build from there. Some of them are quiet and  ambient, emotional responses to moving home- opener Twenty Bridges layers ambient sounds and ringing tones before the guitar peels in. Some, May Mill for example, become more insistent and upfront, quite krautrock sounding with drums, keyboards and crashing guitar chords. As a whole lp it's lovely and thoroughly in tune with what I'm listening to to at the moment. Thanks to Chris for the tip.

Mark was in early 2000s shoegaze band Engineers and has collaborated with Ulrich Schnauss. His move home to Wigan led to Innerland. You can buy it at Bandcamp. It's out on Soic Cathedral who regularly put out good records and the artwork, done in ordnance survey map style is ace too.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Things Worth Fighting For


I thought I'd posted this Stereolab song fairly recently but it turns out it was back in 2014 and that is not very recent at all so I'm posting it again. It is a simple fact that Stereolab songs work really well, best maybe, on shuffle mode/playlists/CD compilations/mixtapes. They work well in relation to what comes before and after. French Disco is a prime example- stick it in the middle of a compilation and it sounds amazing.

French Disco

The song was first released as part of the 1993 e.p Jenny Ondioline but rapidly became the song from that record that got played on the radio. It was then re-recorded later on the same year and released as a limited edition 7". The original release on 10" is a great e.p., setting the Stereolab stall out and there's no messing about in French Disco- a brief vintage synth intro and then banging drums and a pummelling guitar riff before the organ and French accented vocals come in singing the verses. The lyrics reference Albert Camus and his philosophy of absurdism.

'Though this world's essentially an absurd place to be living in
It doesn't call for total withdrawal
I've been told it's a fact of life
Men have to kill one another
Well I say there are still things worth fighting for

La Resistance!

Though this world's essentially an absurd place to be living in
It doesn't call for (bubble withdrawal)
It said human existence is pointless
As acts of rebellious solidarity
Can bring sense in this world

La Resistance!'


Absurdism, as Camus expressed it, is the conflict between the need humans have to find meaning in existence and the concurrent inability to find any such meaning. Life is inherently absurd. Camus' response to this crisis was that in the face of an unfair world one must become so free that existence itself is an act of rebellion - la resistance! Anyway, I'm sure had Camus been around to appreciate Anglo- French indie guitar/synth bands he too would have stuck their songs in the middle of a mixtape, opened the windows onto his balcony and shared them with his neighbours. 

Monday, 15 April 2019

Monday's Long Songs


This Monday's long song is a remix and a Record Shop Day 2019 12" release. Despite all our misgivings about RSD- people who buy in bulk to then sell on ebay, the proliferation of re-issues no-one has asked for, the massively bumped up prices, the insistence that coloured vinyl is in some way better than black- this release showed that it was worth heading to a record shop for. New York's 1960s home-made synth enthusiasts Silver Apples remixed by Andrew Weatherall, a nine minute wonder with lighter than air melodies, steam powered drums and so many false endings that when it finally finishes you still expect it to start up again. Ace.



Weatherall has also recently remixed an Unloved song so while I'm here we may as well slip a second one in. Devils Angels is a very different animal, busier and built around a repeating bassline with ghostly echoed vocals and all manner of noises swirling around its eight minutes.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Group Mind


I've mentioned it a couple of times already this year but it bears repeating- Richard Norris' ambient album Abstractions Volume 1 is a wonderful record/download, the very embodiment of chill out. I know some of you agree- Drew and I discussed it when we met for a pint on Thursday night. Richard has done several mixes for his Group Mind project all in a similar vein to the album and this one, Group Mind Mix 004, is ace, over an hour of immersive warm sounds, experimental ambient, drone and piano pieces. Perfect for Sunday.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Crooked


One of last year's best singles was Amy Douglas' Never Saw It Coming which came with a very smart remix by Crooked Man. In a record shop the other week I found Crooked Man's album, Crooked House, which I missed last year. Crooked Man is Richard Barratt, a man who has been part of Sheffield's music scene since the early days of Cabaret Voltaire, playing house music in the early days and at the start of bleep 'n' bass and was a member of All Seeing Eye. He has recently returned to the fray and made an album.

The nine songs on Crooked House are all aimed at shaking the walls and sending dancers to the floor, nine songs with vocals and verses and choruses (and if that sounds trad the music definitely doesn't), big scuzzy basslines, songs that gather in intensity. It's out on DFA. Try this one for size, with a naggingly great vocal refrain and a bleep running though it, it's likely to get you up and moving- yes, even at our age.

Long Time Dead

Friday, 12 April 2019

Arcadia


Brexit Day 2 comes today and we're still in the European Union. We may leave on May 22nd or June 30th or October 31st or possibly the 32nd of never. I've had to back off from the news and the articles recently. I don't think it's been good for my health, the constant drip-drip-drip of idiocy, the voxpops that tell us nothing and the self-styled 'hard men of Brexit'.

I watched a film on BBC 4 recently, Arcadia by Paul Wright. Constructed entirely from archive footage from the BFI, local news reports and found footage, Arcadia is a deep dive into an older and weirder country, the strangeness of rural Britain in an hallucinatory collage, stitched together in a flood of images of folk (in both senses of the word folk), almost a remix of social history- 1920s nudists, postmen wading in streams, ravers, English Civil War re-enactors, Maypoles and Morris dancers, young men in tweed suits cavorting outside thatched pubs, a woman with her pet poodle which she has had stuffed, pagans, Stonehenge, foxhunting, men fighting in the village streets over a football, cheese rolling in Gloucestershire- all these and more, in a rush of the past. This clip gives a glimpse into it but really you need to see the whole thing. I'm not sure what, if anything, this has to do with Brexit but it's a good counterpoint to all the noise coming out of Westminster.



The soundtrack is incredible as well, starting out with the cut glass voice of folk singer Anne Briggs and then working through analogue synth sounds, strings, glam rock's stomp, punk's fuzz guitars, some snatches of acid house and ending with a synth version of Jerusalem, courtesy of Will Gregory of Goldfrapp and Adrian Utley of Portishead. Buy it here.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Rip City


Something undeniably retro but also undeniably lovely today, a brand new slice of cosmic Americana from Rose City Band, residents of Portland, Oregon. This song comes ahead of a seven track album out in May and is produced by Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips (and you can definitely hear him in the guitar tone and the vocals which makes me think he may be more involved in this than just producing). Rip City drifts through country and psychedelia in equal measures, finding comfort in melancholy and ends up feeling better for it for wallowing in it for a while.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Everything


There's been some chatter over at The Flightpath Estate (an Andrew Weatherall Facebook page) in the recent past about the remixes Sabres Of Paradise did for Stereo MCs. In 1992 Stereo MCs were on the up. They'd already paid some dues by being a credible British hip hop outfit, straight outta Nottingham, and got the support slot on a Happy Mondays tour just at the point that the Mondays' star was waning (in the music press for sure)- drugs, a disappointing album called Yes Please, some ill-advised comments in an NME interview. Suddenly the Mondays were fading and each night they were blown off the stage by their support act, fronted by the goatee beard and massive baggy jeans of rapper Rob Birch. The Connected album went overground and ended up advertising mobile phones. Connected, Ground Level and Step It Up all hit the top twenty in late 92/early 93 and were played almost everywhere. Among the many remixes done of these songs were some by Andrew Weatherall and his Sabres Of Paradise and amazingly I've never posted any of them before here. In fact I've never posted anything by Stereo MCs either so today is the day to rectify all of that, four remixes of Everything from the Sabres Of Paradise trio.

The Sabres Of Paradise remixes came out in drips and drabs, one of them as the B-side on the Ground Level 12". Everything Grooves Part 1 opens with organ and then a twinkling piano riff, setting out the stall that this trip will take for the next ten minutes. The drums don't come in until well into the second minute. Half way through a distorted guitar takes the lead, distorted so much it sounds like a distorted trumpet in places. Then the bass joins in. Extended on and on and very good indeed.

Everything (Everything Grooves Part 1)

At this point Weatherall and co always turned in several versions of remixes. Two of them didn't see a proper release, only coming out on a DJ promo only double vinyl in January 1993 which came trailed with the tagline 'features exclusive dubs by Andrew Weatherall'. Everything Grooves Part 2 has a live hip hop feel in the drums and the piano riff once again leading through this funky ten minute odyssey.

Everything (Everything Grooves Part 2)

Sabres On Main Street has the backing vocals present from the start and then Rob's rap. The Main Street mix is more respectful to the original song, lengthening it and putting the bassline in the foreground. The distorted guitar/trumpet comes back at the end. The word at The Flightpath Estate is that Stereo MCs dithered on the Sabres remixes, and this one especially, mainly because they were superior to their own and they didn't want to release a vocal version that was better than their own single/album mix. There's also a claim made at The Flightpath Estate that the guitar was played by the guitarist out of Right Said Fred which I really hope is true.

Everything (Sabres On Main Street)

This one has never been officially released and comes from a radio show back in 93 when Weatherall had a residency on Kiss FM. Everything's Gone Quiet is the furthest from the original material, a drawn out smoker's delight that builds on a descending keyboard riff and some very Sabres style percussion. This one draws everything out for ages, adding elements (piano, bass, organ) before that guitar/trumpet sneaks back at the end, as if Hendrix or Miles Davis were wandering by, picked up a spare instrument and then wandered out again.

Everything (Everything's Gone Quiet Remix) 

Ten years later Weatherall in his Two Lone Swordsmen days would remix Stereo MCs again (they had a gap of a decade in between albums) but that is probably best saved for another day. In the meantime, put these four on a CD or playlist and unwind.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Häxan


Prins Thomas, Norwegian producer and DJ, has been on these pages twice since last Friday, remixing A Man Called Adam and Doves. In 2017 he released an album titled Häxan which comprised a series of recordings he'd made while completely reconstructing an album made by Swedish psych-rock band Dungen. They had recorded the songs originally to accompany a 1926 film called The Adventures Of Prince Achmed. Thomas took the analogue tapes an d rebuilt them from the bottom up, sometimes keeping little of the original track, largely removing the heavier guitar parts, adding his own instruments and loops, building something new out of something else (in his own words the album was 'Recorded, Remixed, Rearranged, Chopped, Screwed, Glued And Partially Reproduced With Love By Prins Thomas'). Over the ten songs on Häxan (Swedish for witch apparently) Prins Thomas conjures up extended proggy cosmic instrumentals, space rock heading outwards. Try this one.

Achmed Flyger (Version 1)

Monday, 8 April 2019

Monday's Long Song


Richard Norris' ambient album Abstractions Volume 1 has been on heavy rotation round Bagging Area Towers since it came out in February. It is a stunner, four beautiful and completely absorbing meditations, what Richard tags 'deep listening'- nothing much happens but it doesn't matter, nothing happens really nicely . It draws you in, fixes you and as I said somewhere else recently works really well as a kind of aural Valium. And God knows we all need some of that from time to time, in these chaotic and depressing days especially so.

The vinyl edition has four tracks- the download comes with Confluence 2 as an additional one, a twenty minute journey to nowhere/here.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Grow The Revolution


This graffiti appeared on a footbridge that crosses the M61 a little while ago. The photograph was taken by someone I follow on Twitter, Paul Wright. I drive underneath it every day on the way to and from work but haven't been able to photograph it due to my hands being needed to drive and it being dangerous and all that, so I'm glad Paul got a shot of it (and I hope he doesn't mind me using it here). On the other side of the bridge, heading away from Manchester, there is another piece of graffiti by the same writer that reads 'burn fuel don't care we all breathe the same air', something I think about often as my car goes underneath it.

Wilmslow's favourite sons Doves are back and are playing some festivals this summer. They're playing Heaton Park in June but going to see them there would mean shelling out for a Noel Gallagher gig, something which I'm reluctant to do. After that they're in Glasgow and at Bearded Theory Festival, Tramlines in Sheffield, Kendal Calling and Somerset House in London (all during term time). A smaller gig somewhere in Manchester would be nice (I'd settle for Castlefield Bowl if need be).

Doves have been well served by remixes in the past.  The original version of Black And White Town from 2005 is an uptempo northern soul inspired stomper. David Holmes slows it right down, puts the descending bassline at the centre with some organ, with the vocals in the distance occasionally, echoing in.

Black And White Town (David Holmes Remix)

Their last album was Kingdom Of Rust in 2009 with various remixes surrounding it across various single releases including this monster from Andrew Weatherall, a bass heavy version, kicking off with shouts and reverb, and then a crunchy drumbeat, a remix that crackles with electricity and ideas. This remix was a sign that Weatherall was finding his groove again, the start of a purple patch that has lasted a decade now.

Compulsion (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

There was also this eight minute gem, a Diskomiks of the title track by Prins Thomas, a 12" promo of which I found in a local charity shop yesterday for £1.99 and which sounded really good in the early April sunshine.




Saturday, 6 April 2019

Days From Now


Daniel Avery's ambient techno masterpiece album Song For Alpha from last year was joined this week by a sister album Song for Alpha 2 compiling B-sides from the various 12" releases and fourteen remixes. The remixes by Jon Hopkins, Four Tet and Inga Mauer have already graced the pages of this blog- here's another to join them from Death In Vegas head honcho Richard Fearless, an intense white light ride, nuanced acid techno. The whole package is available here.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Lose Yourself


A Man Called Adam's new album Farmarama is proving to be a popular one round here, four sides of joy and fun, both reflecting their late 80s Balearic origins and sounding pretty current too- laptop beats, BBC Radiophonic Workshop melodies and Sally's impressionistic lyrics. The closing song is this one, Paul Valery At The Disco, the one I keep skipping the needle back to the start of...



Paul Valery was a French poet, writer and philosopher- 'poems are never finished, just abandoned' is his most famous quote (see also: 'poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking'). The track Sally and Steve have married his name to is a trippy disco tinged thumper which Sally said was inspired by the death of David Mancuso, his New York club The Loft and his party philosophy, Paul Valery dropped in for good measure. A song that extols the virtues of dancing, living and losing yourself on the dancefloor.

There's a remix 12" coming out for Record Shop Day including a Prins Thomas version of this which means I may have to venture into the vinyl scrum in Piccadilly Records after all.




Thursday, 4 April 2019

Shoes With No Socks In Cold Weather


In their fortieth year A Certain Ratio have gone all out and are set to release an anniversary box set in May, twenty eight tracks making up the singles and B-sides that weren't included on any of their albums and sixteen previously unreleased songs. You can read about it here. Ahead of this they have just put this out, the semi-legendary results of the time in 1980 that ACR, Martin Hannett and Grace Jones assembled in Stockport's Strawberry Studios to record a cover version of Talking Heads' Houses In Motion. In the end Grace never completed her vocal for the track so Jez Kerr's guide vocals are used instead (from a period when Jez wasn't even ACR's singer yet). How this has managed to lie unreleased for nearly four decades is something of a mystery but now it's here and, as they say, better late than never, the Eno- produced New York funk of Talking Heads transplanted across the Atlantic to a side street in northern England at the start of the 80s. Taut bass, monotone vocal, congas and some stunning distorted, choppy guitar playing from Martin Moscrop before those wonderful, off key horns.



The video is completely new but fits the general vibe perfectly. The song is the from the vaults find of the year so far. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Silver Train


East Village were a late 80s indie band, 60s inspired with three singers/frontmen. Drew introduced me to them five years ago and they recently popped up at the Manchester Rave On blog (link down there to the right) which prompted me to give them a spin again. They split up in 1991 and subsequently Heavenly put out an album called Drop Out, a compilation of their various singles that opens with this song...

Silver Train

... and a very nice piece of indie guitar pop it is too, adding value to your Wednesday morning. Drop Out is well worth picking up if you see it anywhere at a reasonable price. Their vinyl goes for silly money second hand and the CD re-issue of Drop Out is now expensive too- cult status does that to a band.

All three men have been involved in Heavenly Records in some way since the group split, Paul Kelly touring as part of St Etienne's band in the 90s and then as a film maker (Finisterre, Lawrence of Belgravia, Dexys: Nowhere Is Home) and brother Martin in Heavenly's publishing company and films. Spencer Smith worked for the label too.


Tuesday, 2 April 2019

In Heaven



This London based outfit put out a single through Bandcamp in December and are the possessors of my current favourite band name- Passarella Death Squad. I am assuming the Passarella in their name is the Argentine captain from the late 70s and early 80s Daniel Passarella, a no nonsense centre back who led them to victory in the 1978 finals, lifting the trophy on 25th June in Buenos Aires. But it might be completely coincidental. Either way, great name. 

In Heaven is a glacial, haunting song with thumping drums and a killer vocal that sends shivers up and down the spine. Passarella Death Squad's Bandcamp site has plenty more where that came from.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Monday's Long Song


In the late 1960s in New York Steve Reich, inspired by the work of Californian composer Terry Riley, started experimenting with tape loops and noticed the effect of two or more identical recordings slipping out of time with each other. His first phased recording, It's Gonna Rain, was an accident, the result of mucking about with two tape loops of a NY street preacher saying 'it's gonna rain'.  Reich then transferred the effect of phasing into composition and began to write simple melodies based around 12 note figures, changing slightly while repeating, music that was concerned with process and that was deliberately non-linear, there was no climax. I'm sure there are people much more informed about all of this than me but when you listen to Reich and put him in context you start to spot his influence all over the place- tape loops, phasing, repetition, rhythms made without using drums, overlapping parts, the meditative and trance like state that this music creates and so on.

Four Organs is a fifteen minute piece for four electronic organs and a maraca, originally written and performed in 1970. This version was recorded by Bang On A Can in the 1990s and mixed by Reich.

Four Organs