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Thursday 31 October 2019

Full Moon

Moon Duo arrived on stage on Tuesday night at the Dancehouse, taking up their places inside the four-sided tent set up for them to perform inside, Ripley with guitar stage right in jeans, t-shirt and trucker cap and Sanae Yamada stage left behind a rack of keys and synths, in silver smock and black PVC trousers. Behind them drummer John Jeffrey, long haired and channelling the motorik beat of Klaus Dinger but faster and louder. At the back of the stage three projectors throw films, patterns, colours, shapes, roads, tower blocks, snowstorms and fractals onto the trio as they play, an intense and stunning lightshow. The strobe flashes away and at times the backlighting throws up Moon Duo in silhouette, on the screen at the front, giving the impression of two Moon Duos playing at once.

During the dozen or so songs they barely look at the audience, instead locked into each other and the groove. The synth chatters away between songs, the sounds of birdsong and crickets. John Jeffrey triggers the drum machine and then piles in on the live kit and they're off, Sanae filling the venue with drones and noise, synth bass and texture and the drums powering forward, glorious repetition. Over the top Ripley finds the space to glide over the top, his guitar playing alternately Stooges like riffs and dripping, molten solos. The twin vocals are smothered in reverb. Opener Flying kick starts the evening, a half paced shuffle with spacey, cosmic synths. Most of the rest of Stars Are The Light, released just a few weeks ago, is aired, the drones, melodies, phased vocals and the lightshow bouncing round the stage and the room. The dreamy Lost Heads is a psychedelic delight, The World And The Sun is way out, up into the rafters and into the sky. Centrepiece to the set is the epic White Rose, the ten minute highlight of 2017's Occult Architecture Vol 1, a synth driven, dark ride into the night, a menacing and ferocious slow burn. The main set closer Sevens is half Hendrix and half Neu! Ducking under the back wall of the tent the Moon Duo trio return for an encore finishing with their cover of Alan Vega's Jukebox Babe, a two note synth bump and grind, guitar lines fired off as Ripley croons the pared back lyrics. Sometimes the most memorable gigs take place at the weekend, everyone fired up by the freedom from work and lubricated, singing along. Sometimes though they can take place on a cold and sober Tuesday night, tucked away in small art deco theatres away from the bigger, brighter lights. Moon Duo are on fire at the moment, playing to small audiences and showing the possibilities of music that dates back decades but is still just up ahead. If they're playing anywhere near you, go see them.

White Rose

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Declaration Of Dub

The fourteen tracks that make up King Tubby's 1975 album Dub From The Roots came as some kind of epiphany to me back in the 90s. Spread across two sides of vinyl the album showcases Tubby's skills and prowess at the mixing desk. The whole album is swamped in reverb and delay, a wash of sound effects with the bass riding on top or underneath). Drums and percussion bounce around, flourishes of organ and guitar drop in and out. Rimshots ricochet between the speakers. Backing vocals get pushed up front briefly. Timeless, outer space music.

Declaration Of Dub

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Plastic Bag

Andy Bell, guitarist in Ride, is on a creative streak. Not only have Ride put out a new album this year and Andy released his dreamy, cosmic GLOK album but he's now put out a 7" single under his own name as well. Plastic Bag is four minutes of introspection and beauty- some ambient noise, Eno-esque piano, slowly drifting, delicate vocals and a guitar line carried in from over yonder. Sounds like it could play over the end credits of a film as the road and the hills recede into the distance and the screen fades to black. Magical.

The single is only available as part of a singles subscription club through Sonic Cathedral. £100 gets you a series of limited singles released between February and December this year. It's here. All depends on how flush you're feeling.

Monday 28 October 2019

Monday's Long Song

Monday morning, back to work and deep into the gloom now as the clocks went back on Saturday night and the sun goes down in the afternoon now. Here's something to ease the pain. This is Manifesto by Shape Of Space, a track that is a 'Balearic chugger of the highest order' to quote the duo that made it. Having bought this and listened to it multiple times over the last few days I can confirm they are correct.

Sunday 27 October 2019

The Big Sleep

There's a film channel on Freeview called TCM which shows a random selection of movies. Recently I noticed that they were scheduled to show The Bog Sleep and The Maltese Falcon so set the box to record both.  I was a big fan of film noir back in the 80s and early 90s, watched both these films and others, especially those with Humphrey Bogart in them. I read some of Raymond Chandler's novels. This week there was a night when everyone was out and I settled down to watch The Big Sleep.

Bogart plays a private detective Phillip Marlowe hired by General Sternwood to settle a problem with some gambling debts one of his daughters (Lauren Bacall) has accrued. Carmen (Bacall) wants to stop him. She suspects that what her father really wants is to find Sean Regan, who vanished in mysterious circumstances a month earlier. From there on in the plot thickens to involve a bookseller, some blackmail regarding indecent photos of the younger Sternwood daughter, a very flirtatious scene in the bookshop and implied sex, a casino belonging to Eddie Mars, several visits to a house where the body of the bookseller Joe Geiger is found, a beating for Bogart, some resolution of plot issues, Bogart and Bacall suddenly falling in love and the death of Eddie Mars, shot by his own men when Bogie tricks him into going outside. All good film noir stuff.

The film was made during the war- there are a few wartime moments such as a female taxi driver and poster of FDR- but its release was delayed until 1946 so the studios could rush release all the war films they'd made. It was criticised on release for being difficult to follow and confusing. Marlowe sometimes makes deductions that aren't shared with the audience. The death of chauffeur Owen Taylor is unexplained. It's not especially confusing but there is a lot of back and forth, people going to and from places rapidly. There's little character development, it is all plot. And it does look old- really old. But Bogart and Bacall are superb, the lighting is dramatic, there's a grittiness about it that appeals and script is witty and fresh. Everyone, Bogart especially, smokes constantly.

A couple of pop culture things leapt out. Firstly the line 'now wait a minute, you better talk to my mother', taken by Coldcut, who have been posted here several times this week now, and used in their 1987 remix of Eric B and Rakim's Paid In Full. Paid In Full (Seven Minutes of Madness Mix) was a pioneering example of the art of the remix, a record that gave Eric and Rakim a hit, spliced in vocals from a recent hit from Ofra Haza and introduced the world to the much used 'This is a journey into sound...' sample.

Paid In Full (Seven Minutes Of Madness Mix)

When Marlowe (Bogart) visits Eddie Mars' casino Vivian (Bacall) is singing (backed by The Williams Brothers including Andy). The song is And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine, a jazz song written by Stan Kenton. One of the lines she sings refers to a girl being 'a sad tomato'- the lines go 'she's a sad tomato/she's a busted valentine'.

In 1994 Michael Stipe would use the same line in R.E.M.'s Crush With Eyeliner, a line that has always jumped out at me as being such an odd expression. I've no idea if Stipe got it from The Big Sleep or from a different version of the song but it seems reasonable to assume he watched the film late night on tour in a hotel room. Stipe follows it with 'she's three miles of bad road'.

Finally, as this picture shows, the younger of the two Sternwood girls must have been one of the inspirations for the look Ridley Scott gave Sean Young in Blade Runner (Martha Vickers, second right).

That's your lot from The Big Sleep. Next stop for me is to watch The Maltese Falcon, a film and book that from memory are far more confusing and difficult to follow than The Big Sleep.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Blind Faith

I've posted this before, Sensurround's 1992 progressive house single Blind Faith, a record made by a group containing John Robb (then stepping outside the punkier environs of The Mekons). The 12" had a 7" mix and this one by Dean Thatcher, a dreamy, chunky, chuggy piece of early 90s progressive house.

Blind Faith (Aloof Mix)

When John Robb, Andy Piper and Patrick Simons originally recorded Blind Faith they constructed it around some rather well known samples- the rain and piano from Riders On the Storm, the mellotron from Strawberry Fields Forever, a blast of feedback from the intro to I Fee Fine- and for obvious reasons the samples were removed from the finished released record. But thankfully someone has uploaded the original version to Youtube so we can enjoy it in all its unofficial, 60s pilfering glory.

Friday 25 October 2019

Zobi La Mouche

This song came my way recently on social media, one I'd long forgotten about, and was surprised I'd never posted before- in fact I've not posted anything by the band before. Les Negresses Vertes were a Parisian group who formed in 1987, a bunch of friends fired up by punk and a musical stew of influences that used to be called World Music. Accordion and acoustic guitars, brass, percussion, various members singing vocals, an upbeat busking style, bags of energy and very much their own thing. In 1988 they released an album called Mlah which was well received and which I had a copy of on cassette. Later on, in 1993, a collection of remixes was released, which is where they crossed back into my life and record collection, an album including remixes by Massive Attack, Gang Starr and Norman Cook and this one by William Orbit. If truth be told, the William Orbit one doesn't quite do what I thought it might at the time, no liquid, skyscraping, electronic journey into the cosmos, but it has definite off kilter charm, some very persuasive rhythms, buckets of joie de vivre and is, dare I say it, quite Balearic.

Zobi La Mouche (William Orbit Remix)

Thursday 24 October 2019

Old Swan

The Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool is a worth a visit if you're in the North West of England, a really well put together collection of his work, from his early chalk on paper art to large pieces on tarpaulin and the huge, thirty foot long mural Matrix (a section of which is above). I was a big fan of his cartoon/graffiti/comic book art in the mid to late 80s and seeing it all close up was exciting. Liverpool has changed so much since I was a student there in the late 80s/early 90s, the city centre transformed (like so many other cities) but it also still feels like Liverpool, a city with a definite sense of place and its own culture.

Back in 2017 Mark Lanegan collected the remixes commissioned for his album Gargoyle. Among them were two remixes of Beehive by Andrew Weatherall, a version of Nocturne by Adrian Sherwood and this one by Pye Corner Audio. I must have overlooked this one at the time- when I pulled the record out recently I couldn't recall anything about it which was a mistake- this is dark, electro- noir with Lanegan's voice surrounded by a storm of drums and synths. Old Swan is an inner city part of Liverpool, a mainly streets of terraced houses. I don't know if it has anything to do with Mark Lanegan's Old Swan- coincidence probably.

Old Swan (Pye Corner Audio Remix)

Mark Lanegan has a new album out, Somebody's Knocking, which I haven't heard yet but the reviews are good. Anther one to add to the never ending list.

Wednesday 23 October 2019


Some lifestyle advice from the inside of a toilet door in one of Manchester's pubs, the promotion of mood altering substances along with some criticism of one of the city's best known sons.

Not related but here's some more Scandi-disco from Lindstrom. Blinded By The LEDs, a single from last year, starts out dark and spaced out. The disco drums power it forwards before it all goes a bit prog. The ending comes dramatically, the lights going out, leaving you wanting it all to start up again. Lindstrom is a master of this kind of thing, makes it all seem so easy and has a back catalogue littered with jewels. His new album, a four track, recorded live in one take, synth and drum machine banger, is out now too- On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever can be bought here.

Blinded By The LEDs

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Autumn Leaves

While digging around the hard drive looking for yesterday's Coldcut meets The Orb collaboration I found this.

Autumn Leaves (Irresistible Force Mix)

Coldcut released Autumn Leaves in 1993. Mixmaster Morris remixed it into Balearic ambient bliss- waves lapping on the beach, strings and slow motion bleeps and then a vocal floating in on the breeze, 'but I miss you most of all my darling/when autumn leaves start to fall'. Autumn Leaves was written in 1945 by Yves Montand and Irene Joachim, a jazz and pop standard recorded by a host of artists from Nat King Cole to The Everley Brothers, Doris Day to Bing Crosby.

Then I remembered the photo I took and used for a blogpost last year and thought it would be perfect for this song. Round here the leaves have started to fall this last week, covering the pavement with faded greens and browns, rusty yellows and golds before the rain and feet turn them all to mush.

Monday 21 October 2019

Monday's Long Song

October half term. A week off for me (or wee calf in the punchline to Drew's joke on Twitter last week). Monday's long song this week is less a song, more a mini- mix courtesy of Coldcut and The Orb, who spend fourteen minutes and twenty six seconds with each other's record collections, tracks and samples live on the air at Kiss FM, New Year's Eve 1991. Coldcut were just getting their Ninja Tune off the ground, The Orb were about to take off. 

There's all sorts going on in here, opera, cockerels crowing, thumping rhythm tracks, voices dropping in and out of the mix, Denise singing 'rama lama lama fa fa fi, I'm gonna get high til the day I die', Neil Armstrong's famous line as he steps down the ladder on to the moon, the vocal line from Roach Motel's Movin' On. Sampledelic fun for your Monday morning.

Coldcut Meets The Orb 

Sunday 20 October 2019

I Guess I'll Crawl

In 1987 Dinosaur Jr released their second album, a definitive set of songs called You're Living All Over Me. Over at a website called Classic Album Sundays my friend Ian says 'If ever you encounter someone telling you that Dinosaur Jr’s best album is something other than 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me, be assured that they don’t know what they’re talking about. There was a blinding light and a parting of the clouds when this one arrived. It is one of the high watermarks of post-hardcore underground American indie rock.' 

You're Living All over Me is a definite step on from the punk of the early and mid 80s, taking rock's past (the 60s and 70s) and speeding it up, making it looser and messier and adding the assault of hardcore. The singing was something else too, a different approach, none of the certainty and bark of the punk singers- J Mascis drawled over the top of his group's perfect blend of noise and melody. Album opener Little Fury Things hits hard as soon as the needle finds the groove, a salvo of drums and then wah wah guitar riding over the sludgy noise, some screaming, and then suddenly everything snapping into clarity at thirty seconds.

Little Fury Things

At the end of the decade Dinosaur Jr signed to a major and released The Wagon (they'd already put it out with Sub Pop in 1990). The Wagon was the opener on Green Mind, their first without bassist Lou Barlow. The Wagon is a blast, a shockwave sent straight up your spine, pummelling guitar and drums and J sounding like he just got out of bad and stumbled to the mic. 

The Wagon

Saturday 19 October 2019

Chateau Comtal

New from Sean Johnston's Hardway Bros and the perfect way to pick yourself up on Saturday, Chateau Comtal is nine minutes of kickdrum, fuzzy bass, tom toms, feelgood chords, wiggy synths and driving electrical impulses. Impossible not to enjoy. Takes you away. Uplifting. New favourite track. And so on.

It's out on a compilation on Monday called Wonder Stories Compilation Wonder Buds Vol 2.

Friday 18 October 2019

Here Come The Warm Dreads

Coming out hot on the heels of his latest album Rainford, recorded with dub supremo Adrian Sherwood, Lee 'Scratch' Perry has now put out a dub version of that album, with some new Scratch- Sherwood tracks, titled Heavy Rain. If all that weren't enough the new album has a collaboration with Brian Eno, Here Come The Warm Dreads, a dubbed out Eno version of the track Makumba Rock. And that is your Friday soundtrack and earworm ordered and booked.

Thursday 17 October 2019

New Warm Skin

The early 80s back catalogue of Simple Minds continues to reveal new wonders to me. I've said before that my prejudices about Jim Kerr's band were formed in the mid to late 80s when their wind swept stadium rock did nothing for me. But in recent years I've had my head turned, first by Theme For Great Cities and then its parent albums Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. Over the last eighteen months I've picked up various Simple Minds records second hand, albums and singles. Then JC at the Vinyl Villain undertook a weekly trawl through the singles and B-sides of the group released between 1980 and 1984, a series of blogposts and comments that educated and entertained me while filling in umpteen gaps. This one has really struck a chord with me in recent days...

New Warm Skin

Riding in a fantastic backbeat and then covered in New Wave synths, the playing on this, the synth lines and jagged guitar fills, all sound weirdly contemporary to me. Jim Kerr's vocal stylings date it a little and it does sound in debt to 1977- not the '77 of the Sex Pistols but the '77 of Kraftwerk, Berlin, Iggy, Bowie, The Idiot and Low, Mittel Europa- but John Leckie's production keeps it really fresh, remarkably so for a record made in 1980. New Warm Skin was a B-side, the flip to single I, Travel. There was no room for it on the album Empires And Dance, a record I found in a stack in a second hand shop last week.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

You Make It All So Fine

In a record shop at the weekend they were playing Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. The long fade in, the electric organ chords and then the horns and strings sound-tracking the streaming tears of Broken Heart stopped me in my tracks.

Broken Heart

Cool Waves followed and sounded immense. When I came home I played this, which is cut from similar cloth and is almost weightless and achingly beautiful.

Don't Go/Stay With Me

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Shaley Brow

Back in April I discovered one of the best albums of 2018, Mark Peter's instrumental tribute to north west England, an eight song record called Innerland, a journey through the landscape and place names of this part of the world. I've been coming back to it regularly ever since. It fits in really well with Richard Norris' pair of Abstractions albums, sundry Durutti Column records, Pye Corner Audio's last couple, the new one from GLOK and The Orb's early 90s ambient dub masterpieces. Mark has just released Innerland in a new form, stripping the drums and percussion off and leaving just the guitar parts, the synths and the keyboards. It's gorgeous, magical, transporting, very autumnal and somewhat haunting too. I wish I'd been on to it when it was released in a very limited 250 run on vinyl.

Monday 14 October 2019

Monday's Long Song

People coming away from Convenanza a few weeks ago were typing in feverish tones about the last song played on the Saturday night, eight minutes of intense, slowly building, euphoric, tranced out bliss from Belgium. This is it, Hellish Imp by Cabaret Nocturne, currently available form Bandcamp for the sum of €2. Hit the play button on the player below and you're away somewhere else entirely, somewhere far away from a dull Monday morning in Ocotber in Brexit Britain. 

Sunday 13 October 2019

End Times Sound

Yes, it's that time of the month again, the time when the temple of gnostic sonics opens its doors, the mid- month excursion into the record bag Andrew Weatherall has dragged along to Hackney. Music's Not For Everyone. The end times sound. This month's tracklist is here. Craig Leon, Sordid Sound System, Moon Duo, The Golden Filter, Big Youth, King Tubby, Bush Tetras, Duster and Jake Xerxes Fussell all feature.

A bonus feature for Sunday, a rockabilly, blues, garage, rock 'n' roll set Weatherall played at Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk back at the end of May.

Saturday 12 October 2019

The Hidden Library

A reader request today from someone called Boshed who found my Hidden Library post from 2012 and asked if the songs could be re- uploaded. First some background. Back in the early 21st century Andrew Weatherall had a short run of limited 7" single releases under the name Hidden Library. At the time there was a Rotters Golf Club website with a virtual club house you could explore and poke around in using your mouse and dial up internet connection. In the library there was a secret door which took you through to the hidden library from where a pair of singles could be ordered, limited to 500 copies. They were among the first things I ever bought off the internet and my ineptitude meant that I bought two copies of one of them and couldn't work out how to change my order. This was in the days when Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood were deep underground, making seriously purist electronic music. Breakbeats via turntables and laptops, abstract electro with a heavy whiff of skunk in the air.

The first single, Hidden Library 001, doesn't exist. Apparently it was mispressed and binned. Weatherall has said on the radio that he has a couple of OK copies that he'll sell on the internet when times are hard. The first release was Hidden Library 002. Both sides of the single are untitled but written and produced by Weatherall and Tenniswood.

Hidden Library 002 A

Hidden Library 002 B

Hidden Library 003 was a cover of Hawkwind man Robert Calvert's 1985 song Lord Of The Hornets. Both sides of the single are credited to Jnr. Poon. Eventually it came to light that Jnr. Poon, who made only these two songs, was Duncan Gray and Jim Wren. Duncan Gray has recently been releasing a slew of excellent, long chuggy monsters, some of which have been posted here and here.

Lord Of The Hornets is a buzzing, wired, electronic killer of a track, worth the price of admission alone.

Lord Of the Hornets

The B- side is scratchy and dusty with a stark drumbeat, sounds a bit like it was recorded in an underpass beneath a dual carriageway at night, and has Weatherall on distorted spoken word vocals. Unfortunately the use of the word 'retard' really hasn't aged well.

My Backward Cousin Mark

Friday 11 October 2019

Focus Your Attention On A Spot

Today's post accidentally fits in really well with David Byrne's ideas about finding vocals and using them in new musical places (see yesterday's My Life In the Bush Of Ghosts post). A while ago someone somewhere, sorry I can't remember who, posted two Orbital tracks both released in 1990, one the B-side to Chime and the other a remix of that B- side from the Omen 12". Deeper and 2 Deep take the voice from a relaxation tape, designed to help people who were unable to relax or get to sleep, calm down and chill the fuck out. A warm, calming voice appropriated by the Hartnoll brothers and laid over some techno. Knowing, ironic, a bit trippy. 'Close your eyes and relax...'

2 Deep

I put both versions onto a compilation CD along with other similar stuff and found that they sounded really good driving to and from work. Thankfully they didn't cause me to relax so much that I fell asleep at the wheel. That would not have been relaxing.

Also from 1990 and in the same ballpark is this from Ed Ball's Love Corporation- sparkling, inventive acid house with a vocal found on a New Age, meditation tape, remixed by the King of Shoom Danny Rampling. 'Close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly and deeply...'

Palatial (Danny Rampling Remix)

'Revel in this sleep and I will return in a minute'

Thursday 10 October 2019

Waiting For A Message Of Some Sort Or Another

In 1981 David Byrne and Brian Eno released an album which they'd been working on since 1979. It still sounds remarkably fresh today, even if some of its key features and devices have become pop culture cliche- ranting evangelical preachers and TV announcers. I remember buying My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts in the late 80s and finding it bewitching and startling then and on Side A as funky and rhythmic a record as any contemporary ones. Eno and Byrne relied on some happy accidents, syncing up found voices with tape loops, dropping in rhythm tracks recorded using boxes and plastic containers as drums, recording people off the radio, but they also had some serious, heavy duty rhythm sections at their disposal too, Chris Frantz, Prairie Prince, Bill Laswell and Busta Jones. The opener was/is this one, a song that explodes out of the traps, bursts of bass and guitar and loops, ominous and tense but definitely capable of causing some shapes to be thrown.

America Is Waiting

Byrne was into the idea of the songs having vocals but not having to write any lyrics. As a vocalist he found he was expected to express himself through the words to a song. What he says he often found was that the music and the lyric triggered the emotion in him rather than the other way around. Using sampled and recorded voices (and this was pre- sample clearing days, which held up the release of Bush of Ghosts), voices where the speaker was already expressing high emotion such as preachers, in a different context, dropping them into music they'd already recorded, took the original voice and vocal elsewhere. This became standard, the sampling of voices and using them in dance records, but it's pretty forward thinking here.

Side B is less voice focused and more moody, ambient and less based around rhythms to make the listener move. In 2008 a re issued CD version came with seven extra tracks. The running order and track selection of My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts changed several times during its conception and according to Byrne's liner notes any of the extras could have made the final release if they hadn't been constrained by the limitations of vinyl's running time. This one starts with a burst of noise, silence and then a fade in, percussion, a repeated bass riff, a distorted noise, chimes and what could be a cuckoo clock. Short but intriguing. I wonder if the title refers to the then balance of power within Talking Heads and their producer (Eno and Byrne versus Weymouth, Frantz and Harrison).

Two Against Three

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Things In The Shadows

More dark, acid tinged, electro goodness today in the form of synths and drum machines from Warriors Of The Dystotheque, music and voices bent out of shape by remixers Tronik Youth. You could stick it on a compilation CD/playlist with Sean Johnston's recent A.M.O.R. release, some Future Beat Alliance, Mythologen, Stiletto Ana, a couple of the long Duncan Gray tracks from recent times and the Shunt Voltage tracks I posted on Saturday for a intense and beat driven commute.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Down By The Sea

Last Monday Drew posted a cover of The Velvet Underground's Ocean, a version done by Sunray (played on and produced by Sonic Boom), thirteen minutes of drone rock bliss from 2007. It's here. Back in 2014 there was an extensive remastering job on a lot of The Velvet's material for the 45th anniversary of one of their albums. Ocean never saw the light of day when the band existed and eventually surfaced via Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the 1969 live album and 1985's VU record. Here it is, in all it's 1969 via 2014 glory.  Lou and Sterling's guitars on Ocean are such a treat and the build up to the ending with the crashing drums and organ is superb.


Monday 7 October 2019

Monday's Long Song

'What were the pies like when you were young?' someone asked on Twitter on Friday night to which the answer could only be what Rickie Lee Jones replied to a very similar question...

"They went on forever, they, when I w- we lived in Arizona, and the skies always had little fluffy clouds in 'em, and, uh... they were long... and clear and... there were lots of stars at night. And, uh, when it would rain, it would all turn - it- They were beautiful, the most beautiful skies as a matter of fact. Um, the sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire, and the clouds would catch the colours everywhere. That's uh, neat 'cause I used to look at them all the time, when I was little. You don't see that. You might still see them in the desert."

Skies mind not pies. 

Little Fluffy Clouds is getting on for thirty years old, is one of the cornerstones of ambient house and never sounds old. On this track The Orb (at this point Alex Paterson, Thrash and Youth) borrowed heavily from Steve Reich, Ennio Morricone, Harry Nilsson and Lee 'Scratch' Perry along with the vocal from Rickie and the snippet from John Waite at the start about 'the traditional sounds of the British summer'. These two mixes aren't too dissimilar despite their names and taken together give you almost a quarter of an hour of Little Fluffy Clouds to kick off your Monday. 

 Little Fluffy Clouds Ambient Mk.1

Little Fluffy Clouds Dance Mk. 2

Sunday 6 October 2019

Like A Ripple

Steve Mason started the year with a new album, About The Light, an album recorded with Stephen Street which brought all the Steve Mason songwriting chops together with gospel backing vox, Magic Bus guitars, soaring choruses, anger about Grenfell- an accessible, big sounding album. He's about to release a 12" single/ep called Coup d'etat, three new songs and a remix of America Is Your Boyfriend by Tim Goldsworthy. The first came out on the internet on Friday, Like A Ripple., built around a low slung bassline, fast, frenetic drums and growly vocals. There's some fat synth bass noise and a touch of New Order at around three minutes plus, backing vox and choppy guitars and everything powering onward. The lyrics of Like A Ripple start 'every time you talk about the same things every day/ I can't talk it', which taken along with the coup d'etat of the title of the ep may or may not be related to our current Prime Minister. We could do with some decent political pop.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Grey Border

Shunt Voltage are a Manchester based electronic outfit who make tough, industrial house music, littered with bits of dub and bobs of acid.

Link Up throbs and grinds, a vocal sample buried beneath layers of sound.

This one, Grey Border, is even better, more acidic with loops, an Eastern sounding noise and lots of synthy bleeps. Capable of turning your head inside out when played at volume.

Friday 4 October 2019

Your Life Will Surely Change

I wasn't sure about this the first time I heard it but its grown on me massively, a cover version of The The's This Is The Day, Matt Johnson's 1983 single that never strays far from my stereo. This cover is by Curses, a New Yorker resident in Berlin releasing songs on a label based in Athens (Greece not Georgia). The doomy bassline churns along playing off against loud synths and a huge kick drum. There are splinters of guitar, some piano and the vocals are smothered in reverb, some distance away. A 2019 version of the 1980s post- punk, death disco sound, EBM, Belgian New Beat, industrial- all the underground genres.

Curses cover version is from a compilation put out by Lagasta to celebrate their tenth anniversary, fifteen cover versions including takes on Cities In Dust, West End Girls and Human Fly. Get it here from Bandcamp (name your price so no risk).

Thursday 3 October 2019

We Are The Sons Of No One

In 1989 The Replacements released the album, Don't Tell A Soul, a record that was recorded in LA, buffed up in the mixing process and had the aim of making Sire a little money from a band a seemed to sabotage their career at every opportunity. Founding guitarist Bob Stinson (above right) had been replaced by Slim Dunlap. Chris Lord- Alge mixed it, adding some late 80s West Coast guitar band sheen and a big drum sound to give it in Lord- Alge's words 'a three dimensional, radio ready sound'. The songs contain some typical Paul Westerberg moments- Talent Show, We'll Inherit The Earth, Rock 'n' Roll Ghost, Achin' To Be- but it sounds (and always has) a bit flat and lifeless, songs for a teen TV show. Westerberg was trying a little too hard to write hits and then shrank away from the record when the released mix was aimed at giving him exactly that. I know there are people who love it and it must have been popular in the US where single I'll Be You made number fifty- one on the Billboard chart but it's my least favourite Replacements album. It sounds defeated, and not in a celebration of the underdog way. Having said that, I must have listened to it a fair amount because re-listening to it this week, I knew all the songs and what was coming next.

The album has now been re-released in a new form across four discs including a live show, outtakes and unreleased songs (with some from a late night drinking session with Tom Waits) and Don't Tell A Soul in a completely different mix by producer Matt Wallace, closer to what Westerberg intended at the time. It's definitely rawer and more immediate, bits of studio chatter intact, the band sound closer to the mic and less smothered by the late 80s. This one stands out, a song for drumming your fingers on the steering wheel to, heading off down the road with the stereo turned up loud, singing along to Westerberg's outsider words 'we'll inherit the earth/we don't want it/ it's been ours since birth/what you doing on it?'

We'll Inherit The Earth (Matt Wallace Mix)

But then go further back into the band's back catalogue and you'll find albums that need no re-polishing, no redux versions and no excuses made for them. 1984's Let It Be is wall to wall, mid 80s brilliance, their final album for indie label Twin/Tone. A year later they made their first for Sire (and last with Bob Stinson on guitar) a record called Tim, and within its grooves among other moments you'll find Kiss Me On The Bus, a genuinely great teen romance song, and this, a song that has underdog punk swagger and speaker rattling guitars to spare. 

Bastards Of Young

Wednesday 2 October 2019

All At Once

I passed up the opportunity recently to push my thumb on on a piece of clickbait I saw on my phone entitled 'are Oasis the best ever band from Manchester?' 'Don't be ridiculous' I thought, 'of course they aren't. In fact Oasis aren't even the best band Burnage'.

The honour 'best ever band from Burnage' lies with Stockholm Monsters, a little known band who formed in 1980, signed to Factory and released several wonderful records before splitting up in 1987. Their debut, 1981's Fairy Tales single, was produced by Martin Hannett. Wilson loved them for a while before the Happy Mondays replaced them in his affections. Peter Hook took them under his wing and produced their 1984 album Alma Mater. Their sound is very mid 80s indie- jagged, trebly guitars, cheap keyboards, the occasional trumpet and a non- singer on vocals (I mean this as a compliment. Non- singers on vocals are often my favourite singers).  In 1984 they put this single out (and in typical Factory/ 80s indie style the B-side called National Pastime is just as good- I posted it in January 2018).

All At Once

Later on they worked drum machines and New Order's Emulator into their sound and in the face of press and record buying public indifference bid farewell with a single called Partyline, a song that starts off wonky and unsure of itself, sparse bassline and swells of one fingered keyboards before it explodes into melody in the chorus. This performance on Granada TV is low key but entrancing, a glimpse of band who should be far better known than they are.

Partyline was their parting shot, a 1987 single on Factory (FAC 146 fact fans). It was produced by Hooky under the Be Music guise that members of New Order used for production work. There's plenty of reverb on the drums, too much probably heard now in 2019, and the instruments seem to be in competition with each other, overloaded and fighting for space, it's all very busy and singer Tony France is straining at the top of his register. But I love it, it's flawed but somehow perfect, and it's got a spark, a spirit and a heart that you can look for in any of the Oasis albums from [insert date here] onward and won't find.

Partyline (Partylive Mix)

Burnage, for those who don't know, is a suburb of south Manchester, bisected by a dual carriageway called Kingsway. I grew up in Withington, its neighbouring suburb a short walk west. As well as Stockholm Monsters and the Gallaghers Burnage was/is home to loads of people I went to school with, former Manchester United captain and Busby Babe Roger Byrne (who died in the muinich air disaster in 1958), actor David Threlfall and Dave Rowbotham, a former member of Durutti Column and The Invisible Girls (sadly murdered in 1991).

Tuesday 1 October 2019

I Just Want To See Your Face

Section 25, from Poulton- le- Fylde near Blackpool, formed in 1977, enthused by punk and its possibilities. In 1979 they shared a stage with Joy Division at Blackpool's Imperial Hotel and from there were invited by Rob Gretton to play at the Russell Club in Hulme and then on to signing to Factory. By 1983 an expanded line up were heading towards the future, away from post punk guitars and into electronic dance music. Their 1984 single Looking From A Hilltop, produced by Bernard Sumner and ACR's Donald Johnson under their Be Music name, is one of the best records Factory released, a proto- techno/electro masterpiece, dark synth- pop, Moroder on the Golden Mile, with whip crack backwards drums, low slung bass and an icy vocal from Jenny Ross.

The album From The Hip, has one of Peter Saville's most beautiful sleeves- the poles on the front cover use the same colour wheel code he'd used on the Power, Corruption And Lies and Blue Monday sleeves. The Megamix version of Looking From A Hilltop on the 12" made it's way to New York's clubs and to the early Chicago house scene. Along with Marcel King's Reach For Love and 52nd Street's Cool As Ice, Looking From A Hilltop proves that it wasn't all just about New Order at Palatine Road in 1984. The version I'm posting here is from a session Section 25 did for David Kid Jenson at the BBC, 10th May 1984.

Looking From A Hilltop (BBC session)