Unauthorised item in the bagging area
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
The monthly Woodleigh Research Facility e.p. releases keep coming even though Andrew has gone. Apparently the ones for April, May and June are already lined up. March's three tracks appeared at the usual download sites on Friday along with a message from Nina-
'We continue together in the here and now...'
The third of the three tracks is Somnium, a lilting, slightly melancholic thing with plucked notes, strings and a drum machine.
Monday, 30 March 2020
One thing Andrew Weatherall did from the earliest days of his own remixes and productions was scatter clues for you to follow. He worked with One Dove producing their debut album Morning Dove White, a much delayed album and one which was mucked about with by the record company who wanted a pop hit. Fallen came out in 1992, ahead of the album which didn't appear until autumn 1993, and the eight minute version on the A- Side was this-
Fallen (The Nancy And Lee Mix)
The chugging intro and those huge timbales are heavenly even before the first appearance of Dot's breathing. After a minute Dot's speaks, her voice very close up, and says 'I don't know why I'm telling you any of this, one thing is don't ever told anyone I told you this, don't save me, just forgive me' and then we have lift off into blissed out ambient- tinged dance music.
After Andrew's death in February One Dove member Ian Carmichael posted his memories of the making of the album on Facebook-
'The day Andy Weatherall came to Glasgow to work in my studio, I slept in.
When I arrived, breathless and sweaty and terrified, I was thinking I've kept this VIP DJ waiting outside on the doorstep for 20 minutes; he's going to be so pissed off and I'm the biggest jerk in the world.
He was sitting reading NME. Smiling. Smiling BIG. The reviews of Screamadelica had just come out that day. The NME saved my life.
As friendly and happy as he was, I was still intimidated by him, and his way of working was so unconventional I felt that I was playing catch-up the whole day. His first instruction on the remix was to change the time signature of the track - EVERYTHING had to be reprogrammed. I was a nervous wreck.
And then we started to commit to tape the tracks as he wanted them played - starting with just the rhythmic breaths - and he would add elements in and we'd just record it to tape and build the track up bit by bit. Back then that meant editing a 1/4" reel to reel.
I had bits of tape all of the floor, around my neck, across the mixing desk - I couldn't remember what any of them were. I had razor cuts on my fingers and my hands were sweating so much I couldn't hold the tape. I wouldn't even get halfway through an edit before Andy would be giving out instructions on the next part of the track. All I could see in front of me were the red LEDs on the tape machine screaming OVERLOAD! I wanted to die.
It was one of the worst days of my life.
And one of the best.'
The Nancy And Lee Mix was named after Sinatra and Hazlewood. I wasn't particularly familiar with Lee Hazlewood's work in any depth at that point although I knew his name at least in part from a Thin White Rope e.p. I'd bought in 1988 where the Paisley Underground/ desert blues group covered Some Velvet Morning. My Mum had been a Nancy Sinatra fan and there were some of her records at home- Nancy In London and Boots were both around (I'm sure they still are, she doesn't throw much away).
Some Velvet Morning is a strange, dark, psychedelic pop song with strings, rattling snares and shifting time signatures, sugar spiked with LSD. Nancy and Lee duet, Nancy as Phaedra playing off against Lee's baritone. The lyrics suggest an acid trip- 'some velvet morning when I'm straight/I'm gonna open up your gate'- but Lee said later on he didn't know what the words meant. He said they were inspired by Greek mythology and that Phaedra had 'a sad middle, a sad end and by the time she was 17 she was gone. She was a sad- assed broad, the saddest of all the Greek goddesses, so bless her heart, she deserves some notoriety, I'll put her in a song'. Nancy, recently one of Trump's biggest and most frequent online critics, said in the 1990s 'I've been singing this song for over 20 years and I still don't know what the darned thing means'.
Some Velvet Morning
But the clues and references are dropped for you to follow so the names in brackets on a remix send you off on a quest down the rabbit hole to fill in the gaps. Second hand records from the 1960s were easy to get hold of in the early 90s, second hand record shops and charity shops filled with dumped collections and I found a copy of Nancy And Lee without too much much trouble. Nancy's Greatest Hits as well (with the gatefold sleeve).
Andrew Weatherall would return to Some Velvet Morning in 2003 when Primal Scream recorded a version of it for their Evil Heat album, Kate Moss duetting with Bobby. The 12" single had a Two Lone Swordsmen remix, Andrew and Keith weirding it out in disco dub style.
Some Velvet Morning Disco Heater Dub
Sunday, 29 March 2020
The International Space Station has been passing overhead recently, clearly visible in the clear night sky. There's something very serene and quite moving about seeing it the last few nights, 408 kilometres up above the earth, circling the planet every ninety two minutes, round and round, unaffected by what's going on down here at the moment. I tried and failed to get a decent picture f the ISS passing overhead but last night, sticking my head out of our attic window, I got this shot of the moon and Venus which turned out alright.
This came my way a couple of days ago and fits the stargazing vibe perfectly. The original track is by Aimes and is called A Star... In The Sky. The Hardway Brothers remix is more than a little bit spine tingling, adorned with squelchy bass, moody synths and sci fi vibes. It soundtracks the non- stop revolutions of the I.S.S. very well indeed.
Aimes' rework of his own track throws in a massive acidic bass part via Detroit and pushes the track further towards a black hole, somewhere out in deep space.
Saturday, 28 March 2020
The blossom has suddenly appeared on the trees round here, a sign that some things are going ahead as they should be even if everything else is completely upside down. Long ambient mixes are the order of the day round Bagging Area much of the time at the moment- they seem to have a positive effect and provide a welcome distraction from the news. This one by Youth dates from five years ago, an hour and fifty minutes of ambient with several detours into psychedelia and global sounds from the likes of Cliff Martinez, Popul Vuh, Orchid Star and Suns Of Arqa. Highly recommended.
JD Twitch, Glasgow's Optimo supremo, put together the first in a series of Tranquillity mixes last weekend aimed specifically at calming the nerves during the coming months. Perfect for headphones while social distancing. There's a download button too if you want to keep it.
Takashi Kokubo - A Dream Sails Out To Sea part 1
Mkwaju Ensemble - Lemore
Hiroshi Yoshimura - 小川にそって
Yumiko Morioko - Rainbow Gate
Haruomi Hosono - Fujitsubo
Inoyoama Land - Glass Chaim
Inoyama Land - Pokala (remix)
Popol Vuh - Ah!
Justus Köhncke and Fred Heimermann - Albatros
Nuno Canavarro - Blu Terra
Erik Satie - Gnossienne No. 1
World Standard - Rozo, Du Pecoj
Testpattern - Souvenir Glacé
The second Tranquillity Mix went up on Wednesday, similarly ambient and calming but with some beats appearing towards the end.
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (piano version)
Bill Evans Trio - Peace Piece
Eden Ahbez - The Wanderer
Popol Vuh - We Know About The Need
Gaelic Psalms From The Hebrides Of Scotland - Psalm 62
Geinoh Yamashirogumi - 合唱刈干切唄
David Cunningham - Blue River
Inoyama Land - Anatano Yushoku No Tameni
Raymond Scott - Sleepy Time
Sheila Chandra - Quiet 1
Sheila Chandra - Quiet 6
Resili - Corrie Caves
Dettinger - Oasis A3
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Friday, 27 March 2020
Manchester DJ and producer Chris Massey remixed A Certain Ratio's Dirty Boy single last year, a delirious blend of biting acid house, northern funk and the voices of Tony Wilson and Barry Adamson. Now comes this, Chris Massey with a one off single with Sir Horatio (I'm sure you can figure out who that is) plus some remixes from Sink Ya Teeth and See Thru Hands, three hundred vinyl copies available through Piccadilly Records (out today assuming mail order is still a going concern- it was yesterday).
The song, Music Control, is an intoxicating dance floor monster, acid bassline and growly vox, ACR:MCR updated for 2020. The video is spliced together footage of dancers, TV show titles, drugs, Manchester, robots and marchers, technology and rave graphics, models and nightclubs, a social history of the last three decades in four minutes forty. I'm hitting replay quite frequently.
Thursday, 26 March 2020
This is Manchester viewed from Werneth Low near Stockport. A low is a hill, confusingly, for those of you who don't live in northern England. From the top of the Werneth Low you can see right across the bowl Manchester sits in, the Pennines to the south and east and Winter Hill and Rivington Pike near Bolton to the north. We drove up there the other day. Isaac, our eldest is in twelve weeks isolation- shielding the vulnerable from Covid 19- and the things he likes to do such as going out to cafes and shops or meeting people are now strictly prohibited. We didn't get out of the car. We parked up, ate our sandwiches and drank our flask of tea and then drove home again.
This is some swampy, rock meets dance grooves courtesy of Ess O Ess and Saul Richards and remixed by Hardway Bros. Crashing piano chords play off against throbbing bass and guitars. The original and Swamp Crawl versions are tasty too, Swamp Crawl especially, a dusty trek across the mid- west. Heavy tunes for heavy times.
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
Coronavirus has taken Manu Dibango, Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphonist, aged 86. Manu was a giant of Afro- jazz whose 1972 hit Soul Makossa was a massive influence on pop music, a track originally written for the African Cup Of Nations football tournament of the same year. His Cameroonian upbringing and family, schooling in Paris, time in Brussels, periods spent in Congo and Cameroon, life in Paris, touring Europe with Africa Jazz, show a life lived well. This is a very laid back piece of music and hopefully might make day two of lockdown more tolerable. RIP Manu.
Bessoka (Version Courte)
Tuesday, 24 March 2020
Originally released on Andrew Weatherall's 12" vinyl only label Bird Scarer Black Merlin's Brunswick Drive, from 2012, is twelve minutes of electronic sound, an interzone where ambient meets industrial. There's something of the dystopian sci- fi soundtrack about Brunswick Drive so entirely fitting to our present situation. Lockdown, Britain, 2020. Stay in. Let's hope for all our sake's, it works. I can't help but feel it's happened too late, we've all seen what's been going on in Italy for the last two weeks.
Brunswick Drive is available at Bandcamp for just £1.20 so you can download it and keep it forever.
Monday, 23 March 2020
David Sylvian's name has popped up in a few places recently, largely unconnected I think (although these things usually end up being connected somehow). I read about his solo albums in Rob Young's Electric Eden book, a long meandering trawl through British folk music and how in the 80s various people- Sylvian, Talk Talk, Cope- reconnected with visionary folk music in one way or another. Then, having moved on and semi- forgot about it he came back via social media and then came up in conversation with a friend who's a big Bowie fan when talking about Fripp. I dug a little into Youtube but didn't buy anything and again moved on. Then last week digging around Richard Norris' Soundcloud page, a proper treasure trove of tracks, remixes and versions, I found his 1993 remix of Sylvian and Fripp. Richard took the original track, Darshan (The Road To Graceland), a seventeen minute epic and remixed it, shaving a minute off in the process. An ambient opening section followed by a long, funky, experimental art- pop journey with a '93 house beat.
Sylvian and Fripp the turned up a few days ago at Echorich's place (linked on yesterday's post) with the dreamy two and half minutes of Endgame, ambient opening and then acoustic guitar and voice, which has sent me scurrying down a rabbithole. The Richard Norris remix of Darshan came out on a CD mini- album, only three songs long but well over forty minutes long in total. Richard Norris's remix, the original version and this ten minute ambient psychedelic swirl re-construction from the Future Sound Of London. Float on. Ambient special as i-D noted in '93.
Sunday, 22 March 2020
Midnight Cowboy is one of those films that I first saw late at night on BBC2, the cult movie slot. Channel 4 took up the baton too and there was Alex Cox's Moviedrome series. Logan's Run, The Wicker Man, Get Carter, Barbarella, Repo Man, Performance, Eraserhead, Apocalypse Now!, The Last Picture Show, various Spaghetti Westerns, The Man Who Fell To Earth- all those sorts of films. Recently I overheard John Barry's theme from Midnight Cowboy and that twisting harmonica line, the off kilter rhythm and then those melancholy strings sent me straight back to my late 80s bedroom, tuning in late at night, a big box TV with clunky push button channel knobs and a portable aerial that would need rotating from time to time.
Theme From Midnight Cowboy
Saturday, 21 March 2020
During the last couple of days I've been wondering whether music blogging in the current circumstances is a bit inadequate, an inconsequential thing in the face of the both the virus and the shutdown of everyday life. Yesterday our Year 11 students, who on Wednesday were still preparing for exams in May and June, left school. This should have been the end point of a process that involved the closure and release they would have got from sitting and completing all their exams, preparing for leaving school, getting ready for their prom and all those things which were some months away. Instead it was dropped on them with a day's notice. This was absolutely necessary- we have to close down the social contact we are having with each other- but it still came as a massive shock to them. Year 13 are in the same boat, suddenly set adrift without finishing the courses and sitting the exams that would take them to work or university. I was suddenly in charge of giving Year 11 a final leavers assembly, rummaging through digital files for photographs of them when they first arrived with us five years ago and pictures of them taken during their time at school, working out how to give them the send off that they deserved. There were tears (mine and other staffs as well as the kids- and let me tell you, until you've welled up and shed tears in front of a hall of nearly two hundred sixteen year olds, you haven't lived). Now we are where we- a society shut down. Our eldest, Isaac, is officially a vulnerable person. We have been recommended to place ourselves in self- isolation for twelve weeks. So every now and then in the last forty eight hours it felt like writing about pop songs daily and sharing them with you seemed like it was becoming a pointless activity. On Thursday night I went to Echorich's blog and his most recent post, a post called A New Reality- Songs For This Moment In Time... , containing among others the urgency of Killing Joke's Requiem, Joy Division's beautiful and bleak Isolation, the sheer heft of Protection by Massive Attack and The The's always wondrous This Is The Day and it convinced me that music blogging still has a place. The next day he left a comment on my post, The Third Sound's shoegaze psychedelia of For A While, saying 'That was a nice escape!'. Which it is. Then Richard Norris posted a new twenty minute long ambient track from his Group Mind project called Music For Healing 1. To go with the music Richard wrote this...
'Music For Healing 1 is the first a series of long form tracks to aid stress and anxiety relief in these challenging times. All profits go to mental health charity MIND. Please help donate to this cause if you can.
I first started writing ambient tracks on a weekly basis about two years ago, as a personal aid to stress and anxiety relief. People mentioned these tracks, the Abstractions series, had helped their mental health issues. The Music For Healing series is being written in response to these challenging times, and hopefully will have a similar anxiety relieving effect. This is the first of regular 20 minute tracks in this series. Use them as background ambience, as immersive deep listening, in combination with meditation or any other practice. Music For Healing tracks are crafted and recorded in real time with no Artificial Intelligence involved'.
So I have come to the conclusion that the sharing of songs still has a place and that while it may seem a little inadequate in the face of the gravity of the situation outside it might make someone's day a little better for a few minutes. Just as Richard and Echorich did mine.
Look after yourselves and each other.
Friday, 20 March 2020
This is the delicious shoegaze, psychedelic swirl of The Third Sound, an Icelandic band resident in Berlin. For A While came out back in 2013 on their second album, the catchily titled The Third Sound Of Destruction And Creation, and sounds like the darkness falling but in a way that's going to make everything alright.
The album is available at their Bandcamp page.
Thursday, 19 March 2020
Events are moving very fast at the moment- the government is reactive, constantly running to catch up with the virus. The announcement about schools yesterday means we'll all be at home from after school tomorrow. I don't feel any elation about this, there's no real joy in having time out of work under these circumstances. I feel some relief- it's been difficult coping at school this week as staffing numbers have fallen and those of us in school have been more and more stretched. Staff and children feeling anxious with an impact on the behaviour of some. Not an easy situation to manage.
Record Shop Day 2020 has been put back from April to June, another casualty of the Coronavirus. One of the announcements I was interested in from the initial lists was this single from Jennylee, Warpaint's bassist- a cover of Fugazi's 1999 song, a piano ballad from a band who played hardcore US punk. 'I'm so tired the sheep are counting me' Ian MacKaye sings before checking out with a bleak final line. Jennylee doubles the length of the song, picking out the melody on the bass and the two voices, hers and another, entwine around each other.
Back in January Warpaint sneaked a new song out on the soundtrack to a film called The Turning. The Brakes seems to be evidence that Warpaint are still a going concern and harks back to the sound of their early records, sparse and brittle but with that liquid, rolling groove and slightly stoned vocals they do so well.
Jennylee sang on a song on Trentemoller's album last year, a very mid- 80s synth pop homage, Depeche Mode and New Order via Copenhagen and L.A. in the 21st century. I hadn't heard this until I heard the RSD cover (or the soundtrack song) so I got three new Warpaint related songs in one go. Which is nice, as that man on The Fast Show used to say.
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
I found this track somewhere on the internet recently, I can't remember where, but I keep coming back to it. The creators of the original track are an Italian ensemble called 291out, a group who roam around the wide open spaces of jazz, funk, Italian prog and soundtracks- and fusions of all of those- rejecting logic, limits and reason. For this release which came out this time last year, a 12" vinyl only four track e.p., they are remixed by Italian Balearic veterans Leo Mas and Fabrice who turn in a suitably laid back but at the same time quite intense remix- rubbery bassline, head nodding rhythms and a splendidly 70s guitar solo. Dreaming of the summer.
Tuesday, 17 March 2020
This coming Saturday we were supposed to be going to see The Jesus And Mary Chain perform Darklands at Manchester's Albert Hall. Darklands is/was their 1987 album, a record that saw them replace the departed Bobby Gillespie with a drum machine and abandon the feedback drenched treble- fest of Psychocandy with an album that split opinions. Some Mary Chain fans saw it as an exciting next step, an album where you could hear the songs, and audibly make out the guitars not just the overloaded amps, an album with a stripped back, dark sheen but undoubtedly a poppier sound. Some saw it as a sell out. I've got a lot of time for Darklands- the hit single, too pissed on Top Of The Pops to stand up straight buzz of April Skies, the William sung title track and gloom of Nine Million Rainy Days and On The Wall, the sweet sting of Cherry Came Too, the buzzsaw pop of Happy When It Rains and this one...
Deep One Perfect Morning
The gig and tour has been postponed, a response to Coronavirus and the restrictions placed on gatherings of crowds in many European cities. It seems most un- Mary Chain like to be laid low by a virus. The Reid brothers of 1987 would have slagged it off in the music press, sneered at it, compared it to Bono or John Lydon and then got pissed and fallen over. While playing the full twenty five minutes of the gig.
The whole Coronavirus situation is becoming increasingly scary. I was in a meeting after work last night where we planned for the possibility of having to close the school and how we'd deal with and prepare for years and classes preparing for exams. The exam season starts on Monday 11th May, what scientists are saying could be the peak of the epidemic. If we have to close there will be classes who won't have enough time to complete GCSE or A level courses. The tone of the government's briefing last night was very different from the one on Friday and I'm guessing that school closures are moving into when not if territory although the government's advice is contradictory- avoid pubs and restaurants but feed hundreds of children in school canteens, avoid social gatherings but put thousands of children into the same building every day. In the meantime we have both children and staff in self isolation and expect numbers to increase as the week goes on. On top of this our eldest child Isaac is in the vulnerable group and so now moves into a situation where he is to be in self isolation for twelve weeks. We are in very strange times and they're getting stranger.
Monday, 16 March 2020
Genesis P. Orridge died on Saturday aged seventy sending further ripples through social media,tributes to another important figure from the fringes of popular culture gone. Genesis leaves a complex legacy. The work left behind is important, it changed the way many people saw the world and inspired them to do things themselves. Genesis as the founder of COUM Transmissions in Hull in the early 1970s making radical, confrontational and subversive art. Throbbing Gristle's back catalogue and their influence on post- punk, industrial, acid house and beyond is widely acknowledged. They were castigated as 'wreckers of civilisation'. The four-piece group- Genesis, Cosey, Sleazy and Chris Carter- made pioneering music, using synths, homemade devices, FX, noise, samples, found sounds, spoken word, all aspects that became commonplace. Psychic TV were an group who wanted to unite music and video art, leftfield pop and psychedelia and in Godstar, Genesis' tribute to Brian Jones, made one of those records that was always floating round the ether in the second half of the 80s.
Genesis played a key role alongside Richard Norris in making Jack The Tab, an album that is often seen as the first British acid house record. Andrew Weatherall said that the arrival of house and techno didn't surprise him at all because he'd already heard Throbbing Gristle, he knew from their records what the future sounded like.
This track is a live performance from San Francisco in 1981, their final show before their initial break up and released on an album called Mission Of Dead Souls.
This one, a just over a minute of distortion and noise, was from their debut album in 1977, The Second Annual Report.
In her autobiography Cosey Fanni Tutti makes several accusations about Genesis's abusive behaviour, accusations he denied. She says he threw a concrete block off a balcony at her while she was sunbathing, again something he denied. At the very least he doesn't come across as a very nice person, moody, controlling and manipulative. Cosey and others have questioned his business practices, which often left them out of pocket to his benefited. Maybe this isn't the time to go through all of this. The deaths of people who are flawed and complex can be difficult to get a handle on. RIP Genesis.
Sunday, 15 March 2020
This is two hours of records being spun by David Holmes a week ago, under the guise of his regular God's Waiting Room night but this time with a sub-title The Songs Andrew Weatherall Taught Us. Spanning Peter Perrett, The Handsome Family, Chris and Cosey, Neu!, Crocodiles, Edwyn Collins, Wire, Gin Gilette and loads more, this is guaranteed Sunday gold while you sit in your bunker and wait for the coming apocalypse. Tracklist.
Saturday, 14 March 2020
Back in the early 90s this was how Andrew Weatherall appeared in an article in The Face, his long Screamadelica- era hair cut short and a sort of punk /rockabilly/techno look that seemed to be more where things were going. A bit tougher and with an edge. The Sabres Of Paradise released their Sabresonic album in 1993, a record taking in lengthy ambient tracks that took up an entire side of vinyl (Clock Factory) and Still Fighting, an extension of Primal Scream's Don't Fight It, Feel It that the Scream passed on as being too techno but which opened Sabresonic with intent, the thud of the kick drum setting out their stall. There was sublime dub techno (RSD, Red Stripe Dub) and two takes on fairly abstract club music (Ano Electro Andante and Ano Electro Allegro). There was also Smokebelch I, a pacey leftfield tune with a synth intro and reverb laden sounds bouncing around. The rattling hi- hat and then later on the strings set the heart racing and take me straight back to then.
Darren Price, DJ and friend of Weatherall put this tribute on the internet yesterday, a re-working of Smokebelch II, The Belching Smoke Salute, a version that finds new beauty in old grooves and lasts for a perfect eight minutes and eight seconds.
From 1993 to 2019 and a pair of new- to- the- internet Andrew Weatherall mixes, a pair in two halves, an hour each and sent to Mr John Minney by Lord Sabre himself in June 2019. Perfectly paced, throbbing, chuggy delights, Arabic influences and ALFOS style disco- house, percussion breakdowns, robotic voices and sections of swooshing, uplifting dance music. The DJ sets and Sabres sounds of 1993 are present here and there, echoing drum sounds, rattling snares, acidic squiggles and pumping basslines, the forward momentum although the tempos are definitely pitched down. Plenty to enjoy in both of these, especially the space age, cosmische stuff that's going on.
And part two...
Friday, 13 March 2020
I thought this piece of music might be good to bring things home this week and round off a week of excursions into a largely ambient, instrumental world. Penguin Cafe Orchestra's Music For A Found Harmonium was recorded in 1984, the work of PCO founder Simon Jeffes who found a harmonium on a pile of rubbish and bits of wood in Kyoto, Japan while on tour there with his avant- pop- folk ensemble. He took the instrument to a friend's home and wrote the music. It came to wider attention when it was featured on 1994's Cafe del Mar compilation, a double vinyl record with tracks chosen by legendary Ibizan DJ Jose Padilla. The harmonium and the repetitive tune sounded perfect next to the ambient house and down tempo dance music of the first half of the 90s. This song is one of the sounds that immediately reminds me of the flat I lived in for a couple of years near Altrincham c.1994.
Music For A Found Harmonium
The Orb remixed it and their version, with found sounds, tabla and a dubby ambient haze, appeared on a Penguin Cafe Orchestra primer called Preludes, Airs and Yodels in 1996 and an Orb remix compilation (Auntie Aubrey's Excursions Beyond the Call Of Duty Volume 2). The original music is so simple and so strong I think it could probably be reworked and remixed in all sorts of ways and guises without suffering.
Thursday, 12 March 2020
Fort Beulah N.U. project was a secretive Andrew Weatherall project that started in 2017, a series of five one sided 12" singles, with hand stamped centres and numbered and signed sleeves. Yes, I bought all five. Cottage industry dub, detours into ambient and semi- techno areas, weird meditative tunes with strange vocal samples. I'm not sure exactly who the players and contributors are but the wonderful Nina Walsh was involved and various other people in the Woodleigh Research Facility orbit. I'm not usually one for copying and pasting press releases but in the absence of much else to go off will do so this time. This was issued prior to the release of 001 by Mr Weatherall:
''Fort Beulah N.U. is a collective of singers, players, sonic research operatives and Gnostic adventurers affiliated to the Woodleigh Research Facility. Fort Beulah N.U. would like to thank Heidi Barker for her vocals on F.B. 001…… Peace and unity is easier to achieve than those that profit from the lack of it would have you believe….”
Andrew Weatherall. June 2017.
The five Fort Beulah tracks are sequenced in order below by a kindly Mixcloud uploader and are a fine way to spend forty minutes.
Back in September 2017 this short video came out to promote 002 which seems to have been called Alain.
Another piece of the jigsaw (maybe)... Fort Beulah is a place in Vermont, the town at the centre of Sinclair Lewis' 1936 novel It Can't Happen Here, a satirical account of a demagogic politician taking the Presidency by storm in the 1930s with promises of American values, patriotism and a return to traditional values (written against a backdrop of actual fascist dictators being in power in Europe). Whether this shadowy musical collective is named after the Fort Beulah of Sinclair Lewis' novel and is therefore a sideways comment on Trump I don't know. But it seems plausible.
Today is the day of Andrew's funeral. In the words he'd use to sign off some of his messages and missives Jah bless to all his family and friends and all those attending. Rest in peace Lord Sabre.
Wednesday, 11 March 2020
Hull's finest outfit Fila Brazillia, formed in 1990 by Steve Cobby and David McSherry, have a new e.p. out, five new songs recorded and released after a sixteen year hiatus. As chance would have it (and I'm blogging very much on the fly this week) the second track fits in very nicely with Monday's and Tuesday's tracks (Monday- Manika Kaur dubbed out by Youth. Tuesday- Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini). It's a sort of making a blogtape. This is Midnight Friends, a haze of shimmering chords, echo- laden piano or organ, repeating melodies and riffs, building and falling away for a good seven and a half minutes, some ambient sounds and bass part coming and going, tickling the nape of your neck.
The other four songs on Fila's MMXX are worth splashing out for too, there's some jazzy future funk and the spacey electronic dance of The Silver Scale is a wonderful piece of music.
Tuesday, 10 March 2020
Picking up where yesterday's Youth remix of Manika Kaur left off and heading into a world of drones comes the second trailer from the forthcoming Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini album Illusion Of Time. Spectral noises, ambient buzz, dischord, layers of sound with some feedback on top, both unsettling and rather beautiful. I suspect played loud on a proper system this is going to sound huge.
Monday, 9 March 2020
Not long after writing Friday's post which featured Jah Wobble and Youth a further Youth excursion appeared on my internet. This is a long dub remix of an Australian singer and songwriter, Manika Kaur, whose Punjabi Sikh heritage has led her into making devotional music. Her 2015 album was produced by Talvin Singh and she's worked with Scottish folkie James Yorkston. On this one Youth extends the original track into a 2020 ambient dub tour de force, a journey in which, to quote Martin 'Youth' Glover himself, 'to build invisible bridges between ancient tradition and the modern world'. Eternal bliss indeed.
Sunday, 8 March 2020
We're in one of those periods where there's a flurry of new releases and news about upcoming releases and there seems to be a wealth of good new music in the air. Norwich's Sink Ya Teeth are a two woman duo who make eminently funky post- punk dark- disco. They've been on tour with A Certain Ratio. They sound like there should have been boxes of their singles wrapped in beautiful and enigmatic Peter Saville sleeves at 86 Palatine Road. This is the second single, Somewhere Else, ahead of their second album, Two. It's a banger.
Saturday, 7 March 2020
Some top quality dub disco from 1983 via Jah Wobble and his Invaders Of The Heart and a track named after the band or vice versa. Wobble's bass is the bedrock around which everything else revolves. Lots of eastern influences to the fore in this the 3rd mix off the 12"- eastern scales, instrumentation and vocals, and a tune that unfolds entirely at its own pace. The trombone solo is a joy.
Invaders Of The Heart (Exotic Decadent Disco Mix)
Wobble has a new out imminently with Youth, an album called Acid Punk Dub Apocalypse, with Hollie Cook and Alex Paterson on board. Wobble and Youth have got previous not least the rather excellent Dub Trees project from 2016- this one, a dubbed out mix of their own work, came from Youth's garden studio in South London.
King Of The Faeries (Avengers Outer Space Chug Dub)
Youth is someone whose work is woven through my record collection, from his beginnings as bass player in Killing Joke through his long standing work with The Orb, in the 90s as Blue Pearl, his various works as producer and his more recent collaboration with Woodleigh Research Facility. The recordings with Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh were done around the same as the Dub Trees e.p. this version is from, possibly all stewed in the same pot.
Friday, 6 March 2020
Brand new and retro- futuristic, Kris Baha's Barely Alive remixed by Timothy J. Fairplay, a chilly, detached crawl through the early 1980s with 808 and ARP synth- this probably needs a new tag in classic Fairplay style, 2020 chill wave or nu D.D.R. synthpop. Ghostly and physical at the same time. The original mix is pretty smart too.
Thursday, 5 March 2020
Just imagine, just what the doctor ordered, just in time. Sonic Boom returns with a song ahead of an album in June (All Things Being Equal), waves of sound, layers of dreamlike warmth, multi- tracked vocals and the faintest hope that actually everything might be alright after all.
Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Last week there was a minor internet kerfuffle surrounding a Facebook page that I'm one of the admins of- The Flightpath Estate. It was set up several years ago as a place to share appreciation of the work of Andrew Weatherall and news about releases, DJ nights and so on. It trundled along quietly with a few hundred members. One of my co- admins Martin set up a resource called the Weatherdrive, an online dump for recordings of DJ sets, radio shows and mixes, over 700 hours worth of listening in total. In the aftermath of Andrew' untimely death MixMag, the dance music magazine, picked up on the Weatherdrive and published a short article about it (which included a link to this blog). The article broke the Weatherdrive as it was deluged with people wanting to download mixes and the Flightpath Estate has since more than doubled its membership. MixMag then got back in touch to see if we wanted to write an article pointing readers in the direction of the ten best Andrew Weatherall mixes on the Weatherdrive. With some hugely appreciated support from Martin and Mark I wrote that article (stretching the definition of ten to twelve and reviving McGuire, the fictional figure from Weatherall's sleevenotes to Haunted Dancehall, something I hope he wouldn't mind). The article was published on MixMag's website yesterday. You can read it here. It takes in twelve mixes/ sets recorded between 1991 and 2019 and on their own contain a huge wealth and variety of music. Hours of fun plus some words written by me.
To celebrate here are two dub obscurities from Andrew Weatherall's back catalogue, both from the mid 1990s and neither currently available digitally as far as I can see. The first is a Sabres Of Paradise dub track. Ysaebud is a monstrous piece of dubbed out splendour, a unholy shotgun marriage of side six of Sandinista! and King Tubby. It came out as a one sided 7" single with an etched B-side and was released in 1997, a couple of years after Sabres split, and was credited to S.O.P (From The Vault). According to Curley, who worked in the Sabres office, the track was rescued from a safe in the office on Dean Street and the single was mastered directly from cassette.
Two years earlier the War Child Help! compilation was released, a record largely populated by Britpop aristocrats plus Johnny Depp and Kate Moss and some people from the dance music world (Portishead, Massive Attack, Orbital, Stereo MCs, The KLF under a pseudonym). Help! was intended to provide aid for the young inhabitants of war torn Bosnia and Herzegovina and ended up raising over £1.5 million. The idea was that everyone would record their contributions in a day, mix them the following day and then the album would come out a week later. Tucked away fairly anonymously towards the end was a track by the Planet 4 Folk Quartet, their one and only recording. Planet 4 Folk Quartet were Andrew Weatherall and David Harrow. Message To Crommie is a gorgeous piece of piano- led dub, ticking percussion and a softly padding bassline, pausing for a beautiful melodica breakdown, before the bass takes over again.
Message To Crommie
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
A song from 2004 that lives on through music blogs, popping up every now and then. Johnny Boy were a male/female duo from Liverpool. Their 7" single You Are The Generation Who Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve comes in like a 21st century Phil Spector, a shimmer of piano, guitars, bells and sound effects over those crashing, overloaded drums, The Ronettes had they come from Bootle rather than NYC, and singer Lolly's vocals. James Dean Bradfield is on production duties- the other half of Johnny Boy was Davo who was the Manic's guitar tech.
You Are The Generation Who Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve
A critique of consumerism, drug abuse and entitlism as far as I can see.
'Burberry Beamer beakheads
Leaving Adidas sleek mystique reversed
Without a dream or scream between 'em
Believing time does reimburse
So for all we are receiving
There's an evens key to turn
You was the generation that bought more shoes and you get what you deserve'
Monday, 2 March 2020
Kelly Lee Owens remixed by Prins Thomas in 2018, a seventeen minute Diskomiks that stretches her song Bird out into new places and new shapes. Six minutes in the kick drum takes over as everything else falls away. There's a wobbly bass note and then some ace bongo/congas work and then it all starts to build again. The last minute or so has some moody, reflective strings to round the journey off. Long and worth investing in. If you're short of time or attention span there's an eight minute edit version, which is still pretty long.
Kelly has a new album out in May, Inner Life, and trailed it last week with the whip-crack smart techno of Melt! Her debut album in 2017 was one of my favourites of that year. I played it recently to see if it still was (and it is). Modern, moving, intense electronic music. Promises to be a good 'un.
Sunday, 1 March 2020
On U Sound have a long tradition of budget priced label samplers, a series called Pay It All Back, dating back to 1984. In March 2019 they released Volume 7, eighteen tracks from recent years with Adrian Sherwood at the controls including some previously unreleased tracks and some alternate mixes. It's a fantastic record with heavy dub, roots and reggae vibes from Lee Perry, Roots Manuva, Horace Andy, Denise Sherwood, Mark Stewart, LSK, Congo Natty, African Head Charge, Little Axe and loads more. This one is the one that caught my ear when I was playing it recently.
A'- Live In Dub
Fast, heavy rhythm, crashing noises, strings being stretched and bent, distortion, cymbals echoing and bouncing round, rim shots- five minutes of exhilarating, motorik, dubwise chaos. The group is Nisennenmondai which meant nothing to me at first. On digging a little deeper I discovered they are a Japanese trio, three women, formed in Tokyo in 1999 and named after the Japanese word for Y2K millennium bug.