Unauthorised item in the bagging area
Friday 31 January 2020
This was put up online yesterday, a new release from Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini. This is so far up my street, so hitting the sweet spot of where my listening habits are at the moment that when I clicked play I couldn't imagine how it could be any better, any more exactly right. A keyboard part, looped and with just enough reverb on it, altering slightly, a piano playing some bass notes, and some variation in the keyboard riff before it settles back where it began, over waves of static growing and fading in intensity. Four minutes seventeen of meditative, transporting ebb and flow.
There's an album in March also called Illusion Of Time. Alessandro Cortini was the synth player in Nine Inch Nails, not a band I've ever knowingly listened to.
Thursday 30 January 2020
Brexit is happening suddenly but quietly. It's largely disappeared as a news story, forced off the front pages/ top of the hour reports by Johnson's victory in December which has taken all the debate and opposition out of it and a flurry of other stories- the royal family and paedophilia, the royal family and racism, the royal family and the entirely sensible decision by two of its members to get out of it, the Coronavirus, Trump's impeachment and Iran to name but a few. Johnson promised to get it done. What he's done is get everyone to stop talking about it. In two days time Britain will leave the E.U. Admittedly we won't see any real changes until the end of the year. Freedom of movement will remain while the UK is in the transition period, we will still be bound by E.U. laws, and the European Court of Justice, worker's rights and trade will remain the same but without any representation in the European Parliament. As the press looks elsewhere the government will supposedly get on with the job of negotiating the terms of the real departure and the UK's future relationship with Europe, trade deals and all the rest. They've already passed legislation banning themselves from extending the transition period beyond the end of 2020 which means that we could conceivably slip out of the EU on December 31st without any deal. Something that a good number of these bastards have wanted all along.
Symbolically the moment when we leave is midnight on January 31st (Brussels time, nicely). That's the moment that this country takes the step to make itself poorer, worse off in all sorts of ways, to cut itself off from the largest single market in the world, the moment this country chooses to be an inward looking, mean spirited, small minded Little Englander nation. There will be some arseholes draped in Union flags having parties where they've 'banned' French wine, Dutch cheese and German sausage, Little Englanders to a man. They will be misty eyed dickheads standing staring at Big Ben, willing it to bong, and sharing pictures of the White Cliffs of Dover. These people will be gone one day, forgotten, swallowed up by the mess they created, the country they chose to reduce, the country they willingly have turned into a laughing stock around the world. I hope each one of them at some point has a moment where they see what they've done and silently admit to themselves that they made a massive fucking error.
Two late period Big Audio Dynamite songs, both showing in different ways that there was life in Mick Jones' band after they were seen to have passed their sell- by date. In 1991 Mick put together a new version following the departure of the original line up after Megatop Phoenix. Recruiting three younger players (Nick Hawkins, Gary Stonadge and Chris Kavanagh) and renaming the band Big Audio Dynamite II they released Kool Aid in 1990 and then The Globe in 1991. The Globe was in part a re-working of Kool Aid, kicking off with Rush and the cracking title track plus fan favourite Innocent Child and one or two others that still cut the mustard. The Globe was remixed by ambient house heroes The Orb, nine minutes of bliss starting out with the song, then going all dubby bubbly and ambient before bringing in Mick's most famous guitar riff to see us throgh the last few minutes.
The Globe (By The Orb)
By the mid 90s B.A.D. II had become Big Audio and then back to B.A.D. They were dropped by their major label and signed to Radioactive. In 1995 they released F- Punk, eleven songs created with the same line up Mick put together in 1990 but now with Andre Shapps on board on keyboards and co- production. Andre is the cousin of Grant Shapps, former chairman of the Conservative party and currently transport minister in Johnson's cabinet. We can't really hold this against Andre but it's a bizarre link. F- Punk contained one end period B.A.D. classic...
I Turned Out A Punk (U.S. Mix)
Counted in by Mick shouting '1- 2- 3- 4', a tinny two chord riff crashes in, backed by wheezy organ and then Mick's familiar reedy voice...
'Mummy was a hostess, daddy was a drunk
Cos the didn't love me then, I turned out a punk...
... Slowly started slipping round, til my ship was sunk
Going nowhere in my life, I turned out a punk...
... took my disabilities, packed them in a trunk
rock 'n' roll's alright with me, I turned out a punk'
Tremendous stuff, Mick still kicking against the pricks and writing from the heart. Fuck Brexit.
Wednesday 29 January 2020
Maybe we should have just gone and had a Weatherall theme week. This is the new digital only monthly service from the Woodleigh Research Facility, out to buy on Friday- the first fruits are an e.p. called Into the Cosmic Hole. Three tracks for your pleasure, Birthday Three, Phonox Special No. 1 (Outer Space) and the title track Into The Cosmic Hole. Birthday Three is a wheezy drum machine and keyboard homage to Stockholm Monsters, Burnage's finest. Phonox Special a haunted dancefloor number, with distorted voice, bleeps and a snare, sirens from Fad Gadget, a glide through the dark night. Into The Cosmic Hole is an expanse of pagan chanting, Nina Walsh's voice and echo and delay on everything else.
Tuesday 28 January 2020
Four Tet drip fed another new one onto his Bandcamp page last week, another taster for his upcoming album Sixteen Oceans. Baby is melodic, padding about softly until the thin kick drum comes in. The vocal comes from Ellie Goulding, cut up and looped, fading in and out. Birds tweet and water runs during the breakdown, over long synth chords and then the voice and the drums come back in. The effect is pretty magical, like everything Kieran Hebden touches at the moment.
Keiran keeps different identities for different aspects of his music. He began dropping his own edit of a Nelly Furtado track into his DJ sets which he released just under a year ago as KH, a full on house banger called Only Human, with a couple of lines of Nelly's vocal (from a 2006 song) sped up and repeated so that it sounds like a playground chant.
'You're so afraid of what people might say/ but that's OK 'cos you're only human'.
Meanwhile the rhythm tracks bangs away, four on the floor, in time with that strobe.
Monday 27 January 2020
I'm waiting for the comment from keepingitpeel in the box below, if I build it he will come... here for Monday, like dub powered busses turning up in threes, is yet another new release from our friend Andrew Weatherall. This is on top of the Unknown Plunderer 12" I posted last week, news of a monthly digital only release from Facility 4 (Weatherall and Nina Walsh), the first e.p. out on Friday (more on that later this week perhaps), the announcement of two remixes of a song by The Venetians and now this... The Moton 5.
Nearly eight minutes long, pumping bass, a nagging synth arpeggio, moody keyboards and forward motion. Soundtrack music.
Sunday 26 January 2020
Like yesterday's Gary Clail song, this song was inescapable in 1991 but is cut from superior cloth, a genuine contender for Best Song Of The Decade etc.
Describing the constituent parts of the song doesn't really do it justice or come anywhere near identifying what gives Unfinished Sympathy its power. The scratching at the outset, as soon as the needle hits the groove, some studio voices and the tsk tsk tsk of a hi- hat, locate the song in Massive Attack's roots as a 1980s hip hop collective, the programmed drums roll in, and then we're off, the strings rolling ominously, the 'hey hey hey' sample (John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra apparently), leading into Shara's 'I know that I've imagined love before...'. For the next few minutes the strings and Shara swell and soar, drama and emotion building, and little touches like the piano rundowns and more scratching keep the song firmly rooted. It sounded 'classic' the first time you heard it. It's never really sounded dated. It can still silence a room.
The stings were added afterwards by Will Malone. Massive Attack tried synth strings but they didn't cut it and so opted for a full orchestra, having to sell a car to pay for it ( a Mitsubishi Shogun fact fans).
Nellee Hooper's 12" mix is pretty smart, re-arranging it for the dance floor, opening with piano and pushing the piano and drums to the fore. Less dramatic and less deep than the album mix but when those extra vocals come in around three minutes it's all arms in the air and spines a- tingling. Plenty of scratching, some chanted backing vox, thumpier drums- its all good.
Unfinished Sympathy Nellee Hooper 12" Mix
The video is famous, filmed in a suburb of Los Angeles with Shara shot in one take as she struts through the streets, ignoring everyone around her. The group, 3D, Mushroom and Daddy G are all there briefly. Some of the other people in the video are extras and some real residents of the area who wouldn't get off the streets. The main reason they went to L.A. to film the video, 3D said, was for the light, a golden light you don't get anywhere else. It's a brilliant video, the perfect accompaniment to the song, and much copied. This map pinpoints Shara's walk should you find yourself chasing the golden light and in L.A. with the desire to recreate it.
Blue Lines was a stunning album, a record I don't think they've come close to matching in the years that followed. That's not really a criticism- nobody else has come close to it either. It was a genuine crossover record, growing through word of mouth, passed on from hand to hand by cassette through the spring and summer of 1991. From the opening paranoia of Safe From Harm to the slow- slow- quick- quick- slow rapping of 3D, Tricky and Daddy G, to the groove of Be Thankful For What You've Got, the zonked out calm of Daydreaming to the closing beauty of Hymn To The Big Wheel, whale song, liquid beats and Horace Andy's vocals.
Saturday 25 January 2020
A record purchase made on a whim and a coincidental sequence of posts on social media have sent me down a rabbit warren of On U Sound recently. The record purchase was On U Sound's Pay It All back Volume 7, a budget price double album of recent releases from Adrian Sherwood's dub stable. Not long after someone posted Human Nature, the 1991 single by Gary Clail, produced by Sherwood, a massive club and chart hit in 91 and inescapable for a while. Weirdly I do not own Human Nature in any format- vinyl, cassette, CD or mp3. I have plenty of On U Sound, several mp3s of Gary Clail tracks and Beef on 7" but no Human Nature. Here's the video...
Clail's impassioned vocal over the dub/ indie- dance rhythm track and that keyboard riff, the piano part and Lana Pellay's 'let the carnival begin...' chorus are all obvious highlights, much of the music being David Harrow's musical handiwork (the keyboard riff, as I'm sure you all know, was used on the titles Snub TV, the much loved BBC 2 music programme). This being 1991 there were remixes and the Steve Osbourne Perfecto mix is a banger.
Originally the song included a Reverend Billy Graham vocal sample which couldn't be cleared for release and Clail recorded the part it himself. Some promo copies of the single made it into record shops though. You can hear it here courtesy of blogging legend stx.
In 1989 Gary Clail released an album called End Of The Century Party produced by Sherwood and featuring an all star cast- members of Tackhead, David Harrow, Bim Sherman, Jah Wobble and Keith Levene. This one is a dubby affair with Bim on vox alongside Clail and is infectious like flu.
Two Thieves And A Liar
Friday 24 January 2020
I was sent a link to this earlier this week, a technicolour riot of samples, surf guitar, synths, repetitive beats and sounds from 1950 science fiction films (something of a theme this week). The source material is Miss Lonely Hearts by The Pink Diamond Revue, an electro- punk duo from Reading, guitars and drums with vocals piped in from samples and a mannequin centre stage when performing live. This remix is five minutes forty five seconds of fun from the hands of South London's Rude Audio who have graced these pages before. Out soon on 10" vinyl, the forgotten child of the vinyl revival.
Thursday 23 January 2020
At the risk of repeating myself, here's a new from Andrew Weatherall, a fired up, slo- mo dubbed out excursion. This is one from an e.p. out on Byrd Out next month along with another track called End Times Sound and a pair of remixes. Unknown Plunderer, the latest fruit from his writing and recording partnership with Nina Walsh, has Andy Bell laying down guitar lines over the top, clipped riffs ricocheting about over cavernous bass. Tasty stuff.
Wednesday 22 January 2020
Something altogether darker and less earthbound today, a remix from a forthcoming Dan Wainwright e.p. by John Paynter (who runs a night/site called A Space Age Freak Out). Percussive, chugging science fiction with a springy bass, theremin action and noises zooming in and out, sounds beamed in from space and bouncing around from the red planet to the Sea of Tranquillity, from Convair Aeronautics to mission control.
Tuesday 21 January 2020
This fits right in with the songs that I've been posting here since Sunday, an offering from 2016 from the Portuguese duo called Lisbon Kid, an optimistic, electronic song, decorated with touches of acoustic guitar and strings and the gentle pull of the sun. Laid back but with far too much going on to be ambient or background chill music.
Sunburst (Alternative Version)
Monday 20 January 2020
W.H. Lung are from Manchester and like Horsebeach yesterday show that there is plenty of good and interesting music emanating from round here, and that this city really shouldn't be constantly harking to what happened from circa 1978 through to circa 1993. W.H. Lung's debut album Incidental Music topped Piccadilly Records end of year review and with good reason- it is a hypnotic, groove- led, cosmiche delight. The group say James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem were a big influence on their teenage years and you can hear that as a starting point but they forge ahead with their own ideas, sounding pretty much unburdened by the past. Which is as it should be. This song was the first I heard and one I keep coming back to, ten minutes of questing, motorik joy.
If you bought the album from Piccadilly Records they threw in a CD of remixes for free. This one by Kid Machine is a keeper. Explosions of synths and drum pads and a juddering synthesised bassline.
Inspiration! Kid Machine Manctalo Rework
Kid Machine is also from Manchester. I found his No Such Human e.p. recently, four tracks awash with sci fi synths and chugging bass, electroid Italo House but from North West England rather than the sunnier climes of Rimini. Long songs everywhere you look today.
Sunday 19 January 2020
Horsebeach are a Manchester four piece who usually make guitar- led dreamy indie. On this track from 2015 they take a swerve into 80s Europop, slinky synth vibes and a slowed down funk bassline making it sound more like it was created near to the shores of the Mediterranean than the banks of the Irwell.
Midnight Part 2 Original Mix
Saturday 18 January 2020
I found this again recently, a very smart piece of digital dub from 2013. Group Rhoda is/was the solo electronic project for Oakland, California artist Mara Barenbaum. King was a track on Group Rhoda's 12th House album (the original version of King is available from Bandcamp here). It was remixed by The Asphodells. Weatherall and Fairplay set the controls for the heart of the bass frequencies, echo- drenched bleeps punctuate the synths and Mara's vocals ride over the top.
King (Asphodells Remix)
Group Rhoda returned the favour, the second leg of a remix exchange, by reworking Another Lonely City from The Asphodells only album Ruled By Passion, Destroyed By Love. There were a bunch of remixes of tracks from Ruled By Passion... from the likes of Phil Kieran, Justin Robertson, Ivan Smagghe, Hardway Bros, Daniel Avery, Richard Sen and Scott Fraser, all released as a companion album. Played back to back these pair of remixes complement each other really well (unsurprisingly) and give you ten minutes of digital dubbed out pleasure for Saturday.
Another Lonely City (Group Rhoda Remix)
Friday 17 January 2020
I've been reading Rob Young's book Electric Eden, a book that's been sitting and daring me to read it for quite a long time. I bought it cheap somewhere and then put it on the pile next to the bed. It is several inches thick and tells the story of British folk music- 'unearthing Britain's visionary music' says the tag line on the cover- and deals with many bands and artists who I am on musical nodding terms with, people like John Martyn, The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Pentangle, and some who I know a bit better (Bert Jansch). In the middle there's a lengthy section about Nick Drake. To my surprise in the ten years this blog has been going I've never posted any Nick Drake songs.
I remember first buying a Nick Drake album in 1987. I don't know exactly why because I wasn't really listening to anything like Nick Drake in 1987. I must have read a review somewhere, NME or Melody Maker most likely, and taken the plunge. I was quite open to trying things on the basis of a good review which could be costly and risky. 1987 saw the release of an album called Time Of No Reply, a collection of outtakes and alternative versions. The internet tells me there was a four disc box set released at the same time but I didn't buy box sets in the 80s. I bought Time Of No Reply on cassette and when I got home went to my room to listen to it (at this point I knew nothing about the man who made it other than the picture on the cover of him sitting cross legged under a tree and the fact that he died young, self inflicted, in 1974). The cassette hissed a bit and then these fourteen songs whirred by, finger picked acoustic guitars, sometimes played in odd time signatures, sung in a soft and very English voice with references to trees, dogs, sand, magic, wheels, sheds and Mary Jane. Some of the songs were suddenly decorated with sweeping strings. It sounded nothing like The Wedding Present, The Smiths, Billy Bragg, Talking Heads, PWEI, ACR, New Order, S' Express or anything else I was into in '87. I can't say I got it straight away, it took some time, but over the years that cassette dug its way in. In those days before CD re-issue culture finding albums by people from the recent or distant past was a hit or miss affair, a matter of rummaging in the second hand shops and rooting through bargain bins. I never found another Nick Drake album until the late 90s when I began to fill in the missing pieces on CD.
There's a richness and an intimacy about Nick Drake's songs and also a sense of the unknown about them, there's always something just out of reach. They're atmospheric, frequently beautiful and tragic too- he sold next to nothing during his lifetime and couldn't understand it, retreated into his shell, ever the outsider looking in. River Man was on that cassette I had in the late 80s and I finally replaced it in higher fidelity when the Time Of No Reply album was updated as Made To Love Magic in 2004 (with some songs that gained new strings and new mixes, stereo versions and so on). This version of River Man is from that CD, the Cambridge era dorm demo according to the inner sleeve.
In 2004 it was released as a 7" single (which I bought- Nick Drake seems a very un- 7" single sort of artist). This version, a video mix from a CD single I think, has a fuller sound, those strings appearing to make your guts suddenly plunge, and birdsong.
Thursday 16 January 2020
Another record pulled at random from my record collection during Boxing Day with the family was the 2001 album by Lali Puna, Scary World Theory, selected by my brother- in- law HSD. Lali Puna were/are based in Munich, still active I think, the blank but compelling vocals of Valerie Trebeljahr sitting on top of experimental electro- pop. The album, nearly twenty years old now, sounded really fresh. Nin- Com- Pop has laptop or sampled drums, organ, a few guitar licks, some hiss and lots of presence.
The album's title refers to the work of sociologist George Gerbner who researched and wrote about the long term effects of television. He usually called it Mean World Syndrome. According to Gerbner the longer a person spends living in the television world, the more likely they are to believe that social reality aligns with the reality portrayed on TV. Gerbner's conclusion was that television heavily influences people's perceptions of the real world, for instance people exposed to regular violence come to believe the world is a very violent place and suffer increased levels of anxiety, fear and pessimism as a result. Gerbner also said that traditional forms of cultural story telling that came from the home, school, church and communities were being replaced by the millionaire owners of the television companies who have 'few stories to tell but a lot to sell'.
Anyone watched any of the latest series of Love Island?
Nin- Com- Pop
Wednesday 15 January 2020
Not the Joy Division song but an instrumental by Bristolian Ryan Teague from back in 2011. Lovely soundscape style music with a backwards intro, woodblocks, whirring chiming noises, synth strings and a musical box. From an album called Field Drawings.
Tuesday 14 January 2020
There's a lot of war in the ether at the moment, both real and imagined. Obviously the Iran- USA situation but also Brexit looming and the lunatic fringe making their usual absurd comparisons. Leave.EU recently tweeted that 1st February should see all the church bells ring across the country to celebrate 'our independence'. The original tweet read-
'BELLS FOR VICTORY
Just as we did to mark the Allies' victory in Europe in 1945 we're calling all patriots to ring the bell at their local church... to celebrate Britain's new found independence! If the powers that be don't like it? We'll do it anyway!'
I'm sure we don't really need to unpack this swivel eyed insanity any further but this shows what we're dealing with and where the leave ultras heads are at- leaving the EU is for them on a par with defeating Nazi Germany. Mark Francois, comedy little right wing Tory bellend, repeated this call in the House of Commons, demanding Big Ben ring out to mark the occasion.
The right wing who have pursued this national idiocy have made these World War II comparisons all the way through. Brought up on Second World War films and comics like Commando and Victor, there is an enormous emasculating shadow that falls over them, the knowledge that their fathers and grandfathers served in the two big wars of the Twentieth Century and that they never would. They're obsessed with the Germans, Dunkirk, Churchill, Spitfires and D- Day, never missing an opportunity to hark back. This idealised Britain of their imagination, all white cliffs, Sten guns and Anderson shelters, is of course a Britain before immigration and before the liberalisation of the 1960s. In their version of World War II the Soviets are always inconsequential, despite losses of 20 million, and the USA always arrives late, 'after all the serious fighting's done'. Francois, Farage et al, a lifetime spent wishing the Second World War was on their CV, their little Dunkirk hard ons leading their politics.
Meanwhile in the USA the last two Republican Presidents both had the opportunity to serve in the jungles of South East Asia and both passed it up. Trump had five deferments from Vietnam. George W Bush had his Dad pull strings and served with the National Guard at home. Trump (especially) loves the hard man imagery of assassinating men in foreign countries by drone strike.
These things came together last week. And then I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 song Fortunate Son while looking for some footage of Vietnam for a lesson with my Year 11s.
Monday 13 January 2020
In 2015 Four Tet released a two track album called Morning/Evening, each side twenty minutes long. Morning Side especially is a unique, joyful and innovative piece of music. It began with a sample of the Hindi singer Lata Mangeshkar and took off inspired by her voice and the ragas from the collection of Indian music he inherited from his Grandfather as a child and more contemporary influences like Autechre. The drums are familiar Four Tet, skittering and busy but light and the synths and voice give the twenty minutes of Morning Side the quality of waking from a dream, the sunshine coming in through the blinds. It's a stunning piece of work that never feels like it's twenty minutes long.
Sunday 12 January 2020
Sunday always seems ideal for the long mix, the Sabbath lending itself to the extended DJ mix. Today's is from Richard Fearless and a mix titled Ballardian Dreams. In 1971 JG Ballard said 'Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century'. He also said 'civilised life is based on a huge number of illusions in which we collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us'. Both seem pertinent in some way.
For this mix Richard Fearless has mined the influences that went into his recent Deep Rave Memory album and seemlessly stitched together ninety minutes of electro, acid, techno, EBM and industrial musics, all glide by of synths, drones, robot voices, squelchy bass, machine drums and unmistakable superfast flicker of the strobe.
Saturday 11 January 2020
One of my Christmas presents was a copy of Flammende Herzen, a recent vinyl re-issue of Michael Rother's 1977 solo debut. My kids did really well I think you'll agree, West German progressive cosmische music being an area of knowledge for them both (with a little help from Santa Krautrock). I've written about Flammende Herzen before- five soaring, melodic instrumental songs recorded at Conny Plank's studio with Rother on guitars, bass, organ, synths and keyboards and Jaki Leibezeit on drums. It's a wonderful album, Rother playing fluid, free melodies, chiming guitars and toplines. I can't recommend it enough and the vinyl re-issue sounds really good too.
Since then I've bought his third solo album, 1979's Katzenmusik. On this one Rother, Leibezeit and Plank play fourteen instrumentals, all called Katzenmusik (and then numbered 1 to 14 and split into two suites one on each side of the record). Rother restricts himself to five note recurring melodies on the guitar, intricate and optimistic, self contained themes and tunes. Really lovely stuff. Annoyingly neither album came with a download code and I don't have a rip of any of Katzenmusik at the moment so I can only offer a Youtube clip.
Now I need to fill in the gap and get Rother's second solo album, 1978's Sterntaler. I'm also kicking myself for forgetting to go to see him play when he did a gig at Gorilla a few months ago. Dumbkopf!
Friday 10 January 2020
A Clash song and cover for Friday, a song from the tail end of the group's lifespan, when the days of squats in Davis Road must have seemed an eternity and a world away. By 1982 The Clash were playing stadiums (supporting The Who) and releasing an album which was partly made for mass appeal with singles that would get them on the radio and also an album that was very internationalist in its subject matter, about the Far East and New York rather than the Westway. Much of Combat Rock has a melancholic, weighty feel. Ghetto Defendant has a downbeat reggae groove with a particularly good bassline from Simonon, many memorable lines from Strummer about heroin addiction and Allen Ginsberg as 'the voice of God'. Jean Arthur Rimbaud, The Paris Commune, Marseilles, Guatemala, the Hundred Years War, Afghanistan...
Mick initially saw Combat Rock as another long album, fifteen or sixteen songs with extended dance mixes and lengthy intros and outros. He lost that argument as the album was remixed by Glyn Johns, trimmed back to forty six minutes and had several songs shelved. The Sound System box set included this original, longer Mick Jones version of the song, everything stretched out a bit further, more reggae groove, more bass, more Strummer and more Ginsberg.
Ghetto Defendant (Extended Version)
In 2017 New York's Megative put out a cover of Ghetto Defendant, an even more downbeat version than the original, slow and heavy but with enough groove to get you shuffling, slightly. Megative have their own apocalyptic take on the punky reggae party and on the basis of this cover plenty to bring.
Thursday 9 January 2020
This is 22 Davis Road, Shepherd's Bush, West London. In 1976 this was a squat occupied by Viv Albertine and Alan Drake, both studying art at the Hammersmith School of Art and Building, Lime Grove, Shepherd's Bush (later known as Chelsea Art College). Viv met a fellow art student Mick Jones who enrolled mainly because he thought art college was the best place to go to start a band. Mick began visiting the squat at Davis Road, along with Paul Simonon who he met through an audition for a band he tried to put together months earlier and had recently bumped into again- he couldn't sing or play but looked right and Mick began to teach him bass. Alan Drake's friend Keith Levene was another regular visitor to Davis Road. Paul moved in downstairs and rehearsals took place there, for an as yet unnamed band. Viv's friend Simon (Sid) moved in. Mick had met Bernie Rhodes who wanted to manage Mick's nascent group and began looking for a new rehearsal space, out of the squat. This would take them to Camden. Before that Jones, Simonon and Rhodes saw a pub rock band perform, The 101ers, and approached the lead singer/guitarist about leaving the old guard and jumping in with them, now called The Clash (a word that leapt out at Simonon while leafing through the local rag, the London Evening Standard). On June 1st 1976 Joe Strummer turned up at 22 Davis Road to tell them he was in. Future members of The Clash, Sex Pistols, PiL and The Slits all came from the squat at 22 Davis Road.
Prince Blanco was born Mark Atrill on the Isle of Wight in 1965. By the mid 90s was playing in ska and reggae bands. He became involved with various reggae producers and musicians including Dubmatix, who in 2009 made an album of dub versions of Clash songs called Shatter The Hotel, a tribute to Strummer and a benefit for the Strummerville charity (the album also involved Don Letts and Dan Donovan). There's something about Clash songs that lend themselves to covers, dubs, versions, re-edits, remixes and refits. There are some groups whose songs should be left alone but I'm always open to reworkings of Clash tunes. Prince Blanco's track here isn't a Clash cover as such, it's a dub track with Mick Jones' guitar from B.A.D.'s The Bottom Line dropped in and a vocal from an interview with Joe Strummer.
Davis Road Blues
Wednesday 8 January 2020
Very much in the vein of what I'm listening to at the moment comes Nils Frahm, Berlin musician and producer who combines piano pieces with classical and electronic music. Sometimes it can be a bit too polite and more background music than ambient (and there's a difference I think) but sometimes he really hits the mark. This one is from his album Spaces, released in 2013, and was made up of collages of him playing the piano, field recordings and reel- to- reel tapes. Over There It's Raining is piano, rain and tape noise. Pensive and atmospheric. Very January.
Over There It's Raining
Tuesday 7 January 2020
Last Thursday The Vinyl Villain posted a review of Bjork's Debut from the NME in 1993. Debut is one of the musical high points of the 90s, a record that is giddily in love with music and possibilities of sound. Producer Nellee Hooper constructed the perfect sonic palette for Bjork's ideas. Songs like There's More To Life Than This, Big Time Sensuality and Violently Happy reflected the club culutre of the times, nights Bjork had spent with 808 State soaking up the music and the spirit of the times. On One Day they produced a real gem, a song that starts out with a little synth part and a giggling child, a beautiful bassline and then a heartbeat kick drum before Ms. Gudmundsdottir swoops in. The part at one minute nine seconds where the song shifts gear is heart-stopping and there are some beautiful little sonic touches- a bent guitar note, some backwards wobbles, a whistle. Bjork meanwhile sings her heart out 'one day/ it will happen/ one day/ it will all make sense' and 'I can feel it'
Andrew Weatherall and the Sabres Of Paradise boys produced three remixes of One Day. On the Endorphin mix they keep Bjork's vocal but slow things down to a glacial pace with a booming kettle drum underpinnng it.
One Day (Endorphin Mix)
Monday 6 January 2020
Something gentle and reflective to ease us into the bluest of Mondays- not that the album it comes from doesn't have moments capable of being haunting or unsettling. This is another record from the end of last year unknown to me until I read about it in the Piccadilly Records end of year review booklet and even then I didn't get around to listening to it until last week. A Winged Victory For The Sullen are a duo from Brussels and make neo- classical, ambient music and based on what I've heard so far are very good too. Plus, among all the powerful, dark beauty of this album there is a track called Aqualung, Motherfucker.
Sunday 5 January 2020
The first Music's Not For Everyone of 2020 and of the new decade went out from the NTS radio shack in Hackney on Thursday, Weatherall back at the controls. There's an ambient and psychedelic haze about this one, a lovely, floating, freeform way to enter the new year and as good a way to spend the last day before going back to work as any. Tracklist.
Saturday 4 January 2020
The internet tells me that this song came out in 2011. I thought it was more recent than that. It doesn't really matter as it sounds like it could have come out in 1968. Sons Of Stone is the title track from the debut album by Michigan band The People's Temple, a fried piece of acid rock/60s pysche, twin guitars coiling around each other, amps feeding back and an upper register vocal that surfaces above the Nuggets maelstrom to ask 'would you care if I died?'
Sons Of Stone
Friday 3 January 2020
The days have lost all sense of normality recently with every day seeming to be either Saturday or Sunday. Today apparently is Friday. In 1988 Croydon's finest noise/drone/space rock band Loop released their second album, Fade Out, eight slices of psychedelic, overdriven, fuzzed out rock, somewhere between The Stooges and Neu! Loop tended to get a little overlooked at the time- the marketplace for this kind of music was pretty crowded and Spacemen 3 got a lot of the attention. I think Sonic Boom felt that Loop were ripping his band off. Fade Out is a minor masterpiece though and worth going back to, the sound a murky heavy cloud with bass and guitar lines occasionally cutting through, the vocals sunken into the music. This song opens the album- the guitar riffs grind away ferociously and distortion and repetition are everything.
Kate Moss is also from Croydon.
Thursday 2 January 2020
Every year without fail I find something right at the end of the year that is clearly one of the best tracks of that year. I found this one on 30th December. Here's the latest 'should have been in my 2019 end of year list' contender...
A combination of thumping kick drum, pulsing disco sequencer line, a piano part that's straight out of 1991 and a chanted vocal line 'don't make me wait' that is pure house. This sounds like it could have been made at any point in the last thirty years and also somehow very 2019. Transporting, uplifting and with energy to spare. You can buy it from Bandcamp here. The man who is Llewellyn is Martin Enke from Leipzig (who also makes music as Lake People, Amrint Keen and Trickform) .
Wednesday 1 January 2020
Ten years ago today Bagging Area was born, a new born music blog blinking in the half light of the new year, an infant in the blog world, picked up by its feet and tapped sharply on its back to get it breathing properly. The first few blogposts were pretty hit and miss- I struggled to get the links to work, file- host Mediafire was the most complicated thing I'd ever seen and there were a huge amount of well written and well read music blogs already in existence. I had been a regular visitor to The Vinyl Villain, Acid Ted and Across The Kitchen Table for a couple of years (all still going strong) and there were other blogs that I loved and visited often, blogs that have fallen by the wayside and are now defunct, among them audio.out, Ripped In Glasgow and Spoilt Victorian Child, all early inspirations. At first I thought I'd give it a year and like Roy Batty go out in a timestamped blaze of glory. Now here I am a decade later.
The blogging landscape has shifted a lot since 2010. The micro blogging advantages of Twitter and Instagram have overtaken the more long form blogs in a lot of ways, direct, instant and to the point. Younger people compile their own Spotify playlists and can add to each others, sharing songs without any of the extra stuff that we do at blogs. I started out visiting music blogs looking for music, music that was largely dead and gone (90s dance music, 80s indie, 60s psyche) but had gained some kind of afterlife online as people began to digitise their record collections and share them with like- minded souls. The writing seemed important too, more important maybe than the music. You can post music on Twitter or Facebook very quickly and without too much thought but blogging requires thoughts and words and the words and the context then become primary- why you like that song, where you first heard it, the effect it had on you, the girl/boy you were with when you heard it, the band you saw live that took the top of your head off, how you re-discovered that song or this band, even just the youthful enthusiasm of 'I just heard this and I love it'. And then the comments begin to trickle in, slowly and intermittently but over the years you build up online links and friendships (which sometimes become real life friendships too). You all know who you are. The music and the words lead to the connections with other people and then that becomes the reason why we do it. So, New Year's Day 2020, cheers to us and thank you to all of you out there who read this blog, those who read and comment, those who read and don't, those who used to read it and drifted away, those who still write their own blogs and those who don't, those still here and those who have gone (RIP Tim Badger). Happy New Year. I intend to keep blogging away and seeing how much more I can wring out of the dishcloth of my inspiration.
There are quite a few songs on my hard drive with Ten in the title including songs by Bull Moose Jackson (Big Ten Inch), The Stone Roses (Ten Storey Love Song), Shara Nelson (One Goodbye In Ten), The Flaming Stars (Ten Feet Tall), ? And The Mysterions (Ten O' Clock) and The Monochrome Set (Ten Don'ts For Honeymooners). I've gone for these four for new year's day and Bagging Area's tenth birthday.
Curve were the new thing in 1991, a dreamlike blend of noisy layered MBV guitars and tough drum machine rhythms with singer Toni Halliday's icy vocals on top. This was the lead song off their debut e.p. Blindfold, rapper JC- 001 joining in and it still sounds tremendous.
Ten Little Girls
In 1987 the world of indie guitars sounded more like this, The Soup Dragons and a gloriously ramshackle, lo fi, shoutalong blast of fun.
Sabres Of Paradise released their debut album in 1993, four sides of vinyl taking in techno, ambient, dub, massive basslines and the wonder that is Smokebelch. One of the more in- your- face, hard edged tracks was this one, one that can still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and one that in its grooves carries the unmistakable smell of dry ice.
Inter Lergen Ten Ko
Cut from similar cloth but in 2018 rather than the early 90s is this one from Future Beat Alliance, Cloud Ten, dark and sleek acidic business with more than a tinge of Detroit in it.