Thursday, 30 April 2020
Michael Smith, writer and poet, worked with Andrew Weatherall in 2016. Weatherall had been offered the post of artist- in- residence at Faber & Faber. One of his projects was to provide an ambient soundtrack over which Smith read extracts from his novel Unreal City, his Hartlepool accent very striking over the soundscapes made by Andrew, Nina Walsh and guitarist Franck Alba. There was a limited edition book with Andrew's handwritten notes in the margins, a CD of the soundtrack (six long ambient pieces with Michael Smith speaking over the top) and a 10" record remixing one of the tracks, all released in one lovely package.
Michael Smith moved to St. Leonards, a down- at- heel seaside town near Hastings and with Maxy Bianco made three films about three seaside towns, liminal places where the land meets the sea, where the rules are slightly different, and the people that live there. Andrew and Nina again produced a soundtrack. This is the Hastings and St. Leonards one....
The other two films explored Whitby, North Yorkshire and Grays in Essex. You can watch them at the BFI's website.
Wednesday, 29 April 2020
Things are weird at the moment- it goes without saying really- but despite now having got into a routine during the lockdown period and the weekly events becoming ways to mark the passing of time (weekends free of virtual and online/video work, Tuesday putting the bins out, Thursday night clapping) there are moments when the sheer otherness and scale of what is happening hit home. The community that is being fostered, especially on streets like ours where people live close to each other and while the sun has been shining people have been socially distancing in their front gardens, talking to each other across walls and hedges, is a definite feature of 2020. But there are times when it's all a bit much. The silence outside. The absence of the people you'd expect to see every day. The strange atmosphere in supermarkets. The crossing the road to avoid people when out for a walk. The new normal seems normal and then something happens that makes you remember how un-normal this all is, how far from normal we are.
As I type this a hearse with a coffin in it and just two cars following has driven past my window.
I've seen several links to newspaper articles about people experiencing more vivid or more lucid dreams during the lockdown and I have found myself waking up suddenly, in a jolt, from some very vivid dreams. I don't think the dreams themselves are especially strange- often they seem to be work dreams- but they do seem to be very real.
In May 1991 Creation's dance act Hypnotone remixed The Lilac Time. Hypnotone remixed other Creation artists, memorably Primal Scream and Sheer Taft and had several great records at the time themselves. The remix of Dreaming is a lovely piece of dance pop, warm and open, ambient and bleepy, and the voice repeating 'all the people on this earth... I am talking to you'. A record totally in tune with the shift that had taken place at that time.
Dreaming (Hypnowah Mix)
Tuesday, 28 April 2020
Kelly Lee Owens was about to release her second album Inner Song, the follow up to her 2017 debut, but has pushed it back in light of the current situation. She put this up last week though saying...
'From me to you, here is a song from my album. It's called 'Night'. This wasn't really supposed to be a single but with everything that is happening right now I wanted to reach out x'
Night is a wonderfully emotive piece of electronic pop, a song with a softer edge than the techno of previous single Melt! and with a pulse that anchors it. It builds too, becoming quite explosive. Very nice indeed.
Monday, 27 April 2020
The new album by The Orb, Abolition of The Royal Familia, has been a bit of an opinion splitter. For some it's a return to the halcyon days of Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld and U.F.Orb, a sprawling four sides of vinyl, dub house odyssey. There are, for some people, some issues with the running order and the first few songs which seem very out of step with the rest of the album but on the whole it's been very well received. One thing is certain for me- the penultimate song, the twelve minute bliss of The Weekend It Rained Forever- Oseberg Buddha Mix (The Ravens Have Left The Tower)- is something that I cannot get enough of. It has some recurring echoes of and themes from the Blade Runner soundtrack and Roger Eno's piano playing is perfect. My only concern is that it will forever in my mind be associated with the lockdown and everything that goes with it.
Sunday, 26 April 2020
I posted the first two instalments in Richard Norris' Music For Healing series back when lockdown began and make no apology for returning to the latest ones. Richard has now put out five episodes of Music For Healing, twenty minute long ambient pieces, minimal deep listening, designed to calm the mind and slow the circulation. All work incredibly well as therapy but are equally good as pieces of music in their own right, a perfectly judged combination of repetition, ambience and minimalism, lit up by small, chiming melodies and soft drones, recorded live and in real time. This one, Music For Healing 5 is only £3 and Richard is donating the monies raised from the sales to the mental health charity MIND
Here's Music For Healing 4 where you can float away on some beautifully blissed out drones.
Saturday, 25 April 2020
A bit of a change again for this week's hour long isolation mix, this time a trip into more psychedelic and psyche areas, some guitars, a couple of cover versions, some remixes and a re-edit of an 80s alt- classic with an eye, a third eye maybe, on the cosmic and the blissed out. One of the segues is a little bit clumsy but I can live with it. I've had to move the host over to Mixcloud as I'd used up all my available space at Soundcloud without going to the paid for service.
The Durutti Column: Otis
Wixel: Expressway To Yr Skull (Long Champs Bonus Beats)
Moon Duo: Stars Are The Light
Curses: This Is The Day
Le Volume Courbe: Rusty
Sonic Boom/ Spectrum: True Love Will Find You In The End
Mogwai: Party In The Dark
The Liminanas: The Gift (Anton Mix)
Goldfrapp v Spiritualized: Monster Love
Julian Cope: Heed Of Penetration and the City Dweller Head Remix by Hugo Nicholson
Edit Service 8 by It’s A Fine Line: The Story Of The Blues (Talkin’ Blues)The Early Years: Complicity
Friday, 24 April 2020
Two remixes by artists of each other's work from the tail end of the 20th century for today. Two Lone Swordsmen remixed Kenny Hawkes, the Brighton based DJ and producer who kickstarted Girls FM, an important London pirate radio station, and who played at several London club nights including Space at Bar Rhumba. Sadly, Kenny died in 2011 following an illness.
Ashley's War opens with some amusing vocal samples at the start the TLS remix of Ashley's War settles into a laid back, languid groove with no particular end in sight, just some downtempo head nodding from late 1999.
Ashley's War (Two Lone Swordsmen Mix)
In return Kenny remixed a track from Two Lone Swordsmen's Stay Down album, their 1998 experimental, dub techno excursion into underwater minimalism. Kenny's remix appeared on a 12" single Two Lone Swordsmen Receive Tactical Support which coupled Kenny's remix with the C-Pij remix of Big Clapper (C-Pij being a Nina Walsh pseudonym) and Silicon Scally's remix of Black Commandments. Just another obscure and high quality release hidden away in the Andrew Weatherall back catalogue. Kenny's remix of Hope We Never Surface is propelled by a clattering drum beat and some dark synths along with the crackle and hiss of late 90s Two Lone Swordsmen.
Hope We Never Surface (Kenny Hawkes Remix)
Thursday, 23 April 2020
Bushpilot were an early/mid 90s Leeds- based band whose sound shows the influences that fire their tremendous racket- Krautrockers like Can, US punk and post rock groups such as Slint, the tough grooves of James Brown and Funkadelic. Trebly guitars, sharp riffs, punk funk bass and loud motorik drums, energy and spirit in abundance, and songs with titles like Big Quaalude Thunder Nothing and Jesus Loves That Rock N Roll. I'm not saying they should have been massive but there is plenty going on here and there are multitudes of bands circa.1994/5 who sold many more records with far less going on. Their recordings have recently been re-issued on vinyl and digitally by God Unknown Records.
Wednesday, 22 April 2020
Here's Joe Strummer, sometime in NYC, in a Bedrock City t- shirt. Joe had a thing about cities. His solo career has songs named after at least three (imaginary) cities. To Joe, cities seem to have existed as a state of mind or a condition. With The Clash he spent time in Clash City and Innoculated City.
Trash City came out in 1988, Joe backed by The Latino Rockabilly War. The song was one of five done for the soundtrack to Permanent Record and came out as a single too. Trash City is fantastic, one of those chugging railway guitar riffs and there's some terrific Joe imagery in the lyrics, American junk culture over a clattering rhythm. It sounds like it could have been written and recorded in five minutes and none the worse for it.
Forbidden City was on the first album Joe did with The Mescaleros, 1999's Rock Art And The X Ray Style, acoustic guitars and bongos, a song for the people of China and a 'dream of freedom'.
Bummed Out City is from his second album with The Mescaleros, 2001's Global A Go Go. Bummed Out City is where Joe resides following a bust up with his wife. 'It was me/drove off the off- ramp/ of the sweetheart highway' he sings at the star and then in chorus follows up with 'we're in bummed out city/ that signs says/ I plead your mercy and your pity'. A gentle apology over acoustic guitars and a fiddle.
Bummed Out City
Bedrock City was the home town of the Flintstones, 'the modern Stone Age family'. My 'research' shows that there were two Bedrock City theme parks, one in Arizona (which opened in 1972) and one in South Dakota (which opened in 1966). It looks like both are now closed. Whether Joe's t- shirt came from a trip to one of the two theme parks I don't know but it paints a nice image in my mind, Joe with leather jacket, quiff and family trawling round some Yabba Dabba Doo rides.
In 1986 Joe's ex- Clash mate Mick Jones put out Badrock City, an electro/ dub version of their rocking C'mon Every Beatbox single, seven minutes of cut and paste samples, sirens, drum machines and bassline. The single led BAD's second album, No. 10, Upping Street, a record which Joe produced and on which he co- wrote some of the songs with Mick.
BAD also provided a song for the soundtrack to the 1994 Flintstones movie, a song called Rock With The Caveman. It pens with roaring dinosaur sounds and Fred shouting 'Wilma, I'm home!!!' before heading into rock 'n' roll pastiche territory, covering a 1956 Tommy Steele song (actually the first British rock 'n' roll record to enter the UK top 20, a fact which apparently has pissed Cliff Richard off over the years). You'll probably only need to listen to this once.
Rock With The Caveman
Tuesday, 21 April 2020
Not far to the north of where we live lies the River Mersey. The riverbanks on both sides are walkable and when you cross by the footbridge up near Ashton- on- Mersey golf club there are a maze of paths that wind their way through floodplains and fields, either east to the water park and then Chorlton or west through to Urmston. Much of this land is known as an Ees- Stretford Ees, Chorlton Ees and Sale Ees. Ees is an archaic word meaning a piece of land liable to flood or water meadow. The footpaths cut their way through the Ees, surrounded by trees, hedges and meadows. The M60 and its link roads are all interwoven but are very quiet at the moment. Usually from our back garden you can hear the M60. At the moment you can hear the birds and the occasional rattle of the tramline, a mile in the other direction. Our daily bout of exercise sometimes takes us along the riverbank, especially in the evening when it's much quieter and social distancing is easier and less fraught, and through these lanes and pathways. As the sun dips out west beyond Irlam and Warrington you can sometimes get to witness a spectacular sunset. This is one of the positive things lockdown is giving us- finding local moments of beauty, even in our fairly unromantic and ordinary parts of south west Manchester, and this is now life in 2020- taking the time under these restrictions to appreciate what's on your doorstep.
Here is some dub splendour to match the sunset above from Dub Syndicate, a key part of the On U Sound stable. I was going to post the majestic, far out sounds of Ravi Shankar (Pt 1) but it turns out I've posted that before, back in 2017. Pounding System was the opening track on their 1982 album The Pounding System. The bass and drums/percussion are so precise but so loose in Sherwood's hands. The horns seem to rise up from the mixing desk, levitating. Skanking guitar parts pop in and out. Every element in it's own space and with room to breathe.
Monday, 20 April 2020
This song isn't particularly long, not by the standards of some songs in this series, but it feels long- and not in a bad way. In 2008 Goldfrapp released a second single, Happiness, from their Seventh Tree album. J Spaceman's remix/version came out on the CD #2 (back when record companies got you to buy two CD singles by spreading the remixes and B-sides out). There is a very good Beyond The Wizards Sleeve Re-Animation too, a very 60s European sounding re-working, boulevards and the Champs Elysee, but the Goldfrapp v Spiritualized song, Monster Love, is something else. Strings, drone, bells, a lazy tambourine, a wheezy organ and Jason's numbed out vocal just drifting, sighing 'everything comes around', repetition and seemingly endless. It's only five and a half minutes long but feels like an eternity.
Sunday, 19 April 2020
This is new from Rich Lane, Newcastle under Lyne's Balearic chug overlord, and it's a beauty. Laid back and easy going, slinky and filmic in scope, it hits the spot from the moment those synths fade in at the start and the windwood brings the melody.
A friend on Facebook said it sounds like driving down the Amalfi coast in a convertible, wind in the hair, sunglasses on, sun dipping in the sky, the tide coming in, the evening ahead of you. It's all those things. And even though all those things are imaginary at the moment the music makes them almost close enough to touch. There are two top class remixes, the Long Champs dub is lovely, an unwinding and stripped down take on the original while Duncan Gray Ambient Mix is gorgeous, opening with the sound of the tide coming in and some synth bleeps before the strings take over. Buy all three for £1.50.
Saturday, 18 April 2020
It's over halfway through April already. The weeks seem to be flying by even though some of the days seem very long. This is Isolation Mix Three. I thought I'd do something different from the ambient, blissed out, opiated sounds of the first two mixes and this mix is something that I first wrote about doing in a post here about three years ago. This is an hour and three minutes of spoken word and poetry and music. Andrew Weatherall features in various guises and with various poets, the Beat Generation and The Clash are represented, there's some reggae and the unmistakable voice of John Cooper Clarke.
Jack Kerouac/Joe Strummer: MacDougal Street Blues
John Cooper Clarke: Twat
Misty In Roots: Introduction to Live At The Counter Eurovision
Linton Kwesi Johnson: Inglan Is A Bitch
The Clash (and Allen Ginsberg): Ghetto Defendant (Extended Version)
Allen Ginsberg/ Tom Waits: Closing Time/America
Andrew Weatherall and Michael Smith: The Deep Hum (At The Heart Of It All)
Joe Gideon and The Shark: Civilisation
Woodleigh Research Facility and Joe Duggan: Downhill
Fireflies and Joe Duggan: Leonard Cohen Knows
BP Fallon and David Holmes: Henry McCullough (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
Mike Garry and Joe Duddell: St Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H Wilson (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
Allen Ginsberg: I Am A Victim Of Telephone
Friday, 17 April 2020
Rich Thair and Ali Friend have spent the best part of three decades as the co- founders and rhythm section of Red Snapper. In their downtime recently they've formed Number, a group built around themselves as the core with a floating cast of vocalists and pushing a tough funky post- punk energy, the wired dance floor sound of ACR, Talking Heads, New York's No Wave. The album, Binary, is a nightclub riot of percussion, disco bass, scratchy guitars, some electro, a generous helping of dub and some lovely, wonky horns. It is out at the end of the month. In the meantime here's Titan Shuff, a science fiction intro, silky, dubbed out vox and a tremendous mutant groove.
Thursday, 16 April 2020
Sinead O'Connor's Mandinka arrived in my head at the start of the week, going round and round. It was a very welcome blast from 1987, Sinead's voice up against those beefed up indie- rock guitars and crashing drums. She was going against the grain from the start, signed to a major label and shaving her head when they suggested she wear miniskirts and grow her hair long.
The follow up to 1987's The Lion And The Cobra took her into the mainstream courtesy of the Prince cover that went to number one in every country it was released in and that video. There's lots to love on I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got aside from Nothing Compares 2 U, an album that has contributions from ex- Ant Marco Pironi on guitars, Andy Rourke, Jah Wobble, Kurt Wallinger and Nellee Hooper. The culture clash of I Am Stretched On Your Grave, a 17th century Irish poem over the Funky Drummer. The anger and confession of The Emperor's New Clothes, and what could be her mission statement in the summer of 1990, 'I will live by my own policies/ I will sleep with a clear conscience'. The video for this one is memorable too...
At Glastonbury in 1990 Sinead played on the Saturday afternoon, either just before or just after De La Soul if memory serves, clad in leather biker jacket and a Viz Fat Slags t- shirt and the darkest sunglasses. The Emperor's New Clothes was the one that caught fire that afternoon, crashing guitar chords, the rousing chorus and Marco Pironi's windmilling.
'Margaret Thatcher on TV'
Before delivering the sucker punch...
'England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It's the home of police who kill black boys on mopeds'
And this one too....
'These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave'
This appearance on The Late Show, BBC 2's late night arts and culture show is stunning. Viva Sinead.
Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Jah Wobble is using his time in lockdown in Stockport usefully and has recorded and released a meandering jazz dub tune for your enjoyment.
The pressure to use lockdown purposefully is something I don't think any of us need. There are all sorts of lifestyle gurus and influencers saying we should be making the most of the time, learning a new language or developing cookery skills but for a lot of people, three weeks in and counting and with no end in sight, the ability to get from one day to the next while keeping children or teenagers occupied and on an even keel is more than enough. There's so much time at our disposal but for many of us being able to concentrate for extended periods just isn't happening, we're just skimming and scrolling, browsing, distracting ourselves and taking our minds off things. Maybe that's as much as we can expect. At the front line, in hospitals and care homes, people are dying and the staff are putting themselves in harm's way every day. Avoiding the non- stop news cycle seems to be good for our mental health- the constantly increasing body count and the evasive, slippery rubbish coming out of government, make us anxious and feel out of control. Turning it off is self- defence. I keep seeing the suggestion and the hope that things will change fundamentally in various ways once this is over. I hope so.
Tuesday, 14 April 2020
Avril 14th is a beautiful piano piece by Aphex Twin. It was originally released on his 2001 Drukqs album, a double album only released after Aphex left an mp3 player on a plane and was worried that they'd be discovered and bootlegged. There are several other versions of Avril 14th, some of which surfaced at a Soundcloud page belonging to user18081971 (a pseudonym for Ahex Twin/ Richard D James). This one is gorgeous, the use of reverb and delay creating a completely self contained world.
Avril 14th (altdelay)
User18081971 uploaded some new songs last week including two slow, haunting synth pieces. The post was dedicated to his father who had recently passed away along with this, a piece of music called qu 1.
This one too, s8v1 [brooklyn] Both are still available to download. The rest of user18081971's free track archive is here.
Monday, 13 April 2020
Andrew Weatherall's back catalogue (his productions, own material, remixes and collaborations) is so vast that I keep re- discovering things I'd forgotten about. In 2017 he remixed an Australian duo called Heart People, Rachel Rutt and Ryan Grieve. The internet doesn't give much away about them- an interview with i-D Magazine in 2015 and a handful of releases in 2017. Weatherall's remix is a fast moving, sci- fi affair, lots of rattling snare drums and acid squiggles and bleeps with Rachel's vocals layered over the top. Weatherall remixed fellow Australians Confidence Man at the same time (twice in fact, Bubblegum in 2017 and ecstatic Out The Window a year later). He took an annual DJing jaunt to Oz around that time so I'm guessing the Heart People connection came via one of those trips. The remix has bags of energy and should kick start your morning if you're looking for something to plug you back in.
Voices (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
In 2014 while still during his Asphodells project with Timothy J. Fairplay they remixed She Lies, a Berlin post- punk disco band- the internet again offering up little more in the way of information or background. This sounds very like a version of Berlin in the early 80s but with Weatherall and Fairplay's trademark drum machine rhythms and some lovely wobbly synth sounds and pulsing bassline. Waves of hypnotic sound and chilly, detached vocals. Sehr gut.
Needed You (Asphodells Remix)
Sunday, 12 April 2020
I posted this last Easter and I'm doing the same again today, perfect music for playing while sitting in your garden/ on your balcony/ sticking your head out of the window, to catch some of the sunshine we've been getting. A Man Called Adam's Easter Song came out in 1998, a beautiful, gently unwinding piece of late 20th century balm, Sally singing 'you're bringing me back to life' as the synths and drums pad away underneath.
The special edition at Bandcamp is a digital version of the original late 90s vinyl release and adds various downtempo, found sound and dubby versions- the North Star Dub, The Gospel Oaks FX, African Flute And Beats version, the Hi Tech and Speaking in Tongues mixes and the original Cafe del Mar eight minute version. Taken together as a package they make a mini- album that you should give to yourself as an Easter gift this year while staying in.
Saturday, 11 April 2020
A second Bagging Area mix for lockdown, an hour of tunes starting out ambient, taking a turn toward the Balearics and some fizzing electronics before the jetstream sends it back into more ambient, melancholic lands with waves and seagulls. Having the time and space to think about putting these together is one of the upsides of social distancing and isolation.
Private Mountain: Coming Back Home v Eric Cantona ‘When the seagulls follow the trawler…
Nils Frahm: Over There, It’s Raining
Steven Leggett: Bathhouse
Seahawks: Rainbow Sun
Peaking Lights: Beautiful Dub
Circle Sky: Ghost In The Machine
The Neil Cowley Trio: Echo Nebula (Vessels Remix)
Fila Brazillia: Midnight Friends
Mark Peters: Jacob’s Ladder (Ambient Innerlands Version)
Jan van den Broeke: Memories
A Man Called Adam: Easter Song (Gospel Oak FX)Bjorn Torske: First Movement
Friday, 10 April 2020
As our lives are restricted the simple pleasures become more important and everyday task that previously were automatic and functional become more significant and central to our lives, the part of our days we can look forward to and get excited about. Cooking a meal suddenly takes on a new centrality twice a day. People have been praising the benefits of slow living for some time- slow food, slow TV and so on- and now it's enforced we can all see the benefits.
Dan Wainwright's How To Have A Bath (Parts 1- 4) is a bit of downtempo, Balearic fun. I shouldn't think he intended it to coincide with life in lockdown Britain when he wrote it but it seems to fit with the new pace of our lives. Dan's put quite a few tracks and e.p.s out in the last few weeks and much of it is available at 'name your own price' at his Bandcamp page at Oddball records.
Thursday, 9 April 2020
Shari Denson, friend of mine I've never met but know on Facebook, is a photographer and has taken loads of great pictures of bands playing in and around Manchester. Last year she put on a one- off exhibition in a slate park under the Mancunian Way which I missed but looked really good. A week ago on Facebook she posted this picture, a shot taken at Cotton Clouds festival a couple of years ago. Shari asked 'does anyone recognise either of these gorgeous folk?'
It is a stunning photograph, a moment in time caught. I don't know which band the couple are watching, it looks like daytime so presumably a band lower down the bill. They're a good looking couple, photogenic and sexy and they embody that freedom you have when you're young. He is caught up in the performance happening to the left of the picture, she has noticed the camera and glanced at the shutter, looking straight at us. Both are in the moment, together but with a different focus. Some of Shari's friends said the woman looks a bit like Madonna and the man like Jeff Buckley. Another suggested it could be from an 80s film, this one maybe...
Shari said that if she were her, she'd want the picture printed and on the wall, ready to show her grand-kids in several decades time. This generation have so many photographs of themselves, they document themselves and their lives constantly almost without thinking about it. I've got very few photos from my teens or twenties. We only really started taking photographs regularly when we had children. Selfies weren't really a thing until phones and cameras became brought together in one object.
Since the original thread a week ago I think the man has been identified but on the night she posted it another friend Karen said that in some ways she hoped they wouldn't be found, that she liked their anonymity, she didn't want to know who they were- 'Mystery is everything sometimes, right?' In some ways I agree- without names they are a kind of every couple, young and unfettered.
Karen said that when the couple who were in the famous photo in Times Square at the end of World War II were named and their stories known it ruined the photo for her. Both lived into their nineties. The woman, Greta Friedman, said that the sailor, George Mendonsa, didn't ask to kiss her, he just grabbed her. According to Greta it wasn't romantic, more a drunken celebration, and today that strikes a very different tone.
More happily, the couple from the sleeve of the Woodstock album were found forty years later and happily were still together.
I'm assuming that Cotton Clouds was named after the line in Elephant Stone, a song that is one of The Stone Roses finest moments. I'd take Elephant Stone over the entire Second Coming album, it's unaffected, weightless and heady-
'Burst into heaven
Kissing the cotton clouds
Arctic sheets and fields of wheat
I can't stop coming down'
Elepahnt Stone is a technicolour burst of northern psychedelic, the words and guitars in a rush to unfold and Reni's drums driving everything on, the sound surfacing only for a breather with the 'seems like there's a hole/in my dreams' before diving back in again.
Elephant Stone 12" Mix
Wednesday, 8 April 2020
Today (Wednesday I think but who can be sure?) I have three songs from Danish producer Kenneth Bager that make up a new e.p (priced at thirty kroner, about £3). The first, Stones And Steel, is a dreamy song with vocals from Findlay Brown, that starts out like a Balearic ballad but picks up the beat. Cocktails at sundown on the terrace. Crickets chirruping.
Stones And Steel is followed by JLP Smoked A Doobie, a slowed down, chilled out affair with a violin and woodblocks. Dusk has now fallen, the stars are coming out.
Last up is Bager's tribute to Andrew Weatherall and an emotional ten minute dancer called Late Night Symphony with that A Love From Outer Space chug and a huge bass wobble. Shake that blanket off and hit the floor- it's either your living room or kitchen floor admittedly but it's still a floor.
Tuesday, 7 April 2020
Killing Joke's calling card from 1979 was Turn To Red, their debut e.p. and its title track, a piece of monumental dub/post punk. Youth's heavy bass playing over the top of the locked groove is the bedrock. Over this Geordie Walker plays scratchy, delay- laden guitar. Sounds bounce around and fire off the walls of the recording. Jaz's vocal is covered in echo and the lyrics tell of dread, the coming apocalypse and everyday horrors-
'Chaos for breakfast
There's something in the air
Everybody can feel it
Red sky in the morning
Turn to red'
Turn To Red
Monday, 6 April 2020
It would have been Andrew Weatherall's 57th birthday today. Around the internet there are artists offering tracks they recorded with Andrew or that were remixed by him as freebies and, natch, there are plenty of long songs to get your teeth into while raising a glass to the man's birthday tonight.
Being is/was the name adopted by Edinburgh based Dave Paton. He has an extensive back catalogue. In the 90s Being found himself in Weatherall's orbit, releasing music on the Emissions Audio Output label. Emissions replaced Sabres Of Paradise as Weatherall's own label and was split into several sub- labels- Emissions Echoic, Emissions Lo- Fi, Emissions Static, Special Emissions and New Emissions- all to put out slightly different takes on the sound from 'dark, stripped down, derelict house music' to 'experimental and ambient dance music'. A full breakdown of the different sub- labels and their releases can be found at Discogs. The logos were nicely minimal and looked good on the generic Emissions sleeves and t- shirts.
Being's records came out on Special Emissions in 1995 and 1996, minimal scratchy, ambient electronic dub records with weird noises, echoes, hiss and lots of s p a c e. In 1996 the Two Lone Swordsmen and A Being record came out, three tracks long- Craterplay, Pallor and Thruxton Circuits. The release was only on white label, limited edition and came in a resealable plastic bag with a photocopied A4 insert. Rare and now very collectable. The 12" single plus the remix he did of Two Lone Swordsmen's 1996 tracks Azzolini and The Branch Brothers (both originally part of the first two Lone Swordsmen record, The Third Mission, out on Emissions Echoic in April 1996) are available from Being's Bandcamp as a free download. Probably not everyone's cup of tea but sharing these emissions from the margins is part of what blogging is all about. Let's leave no stone unturned.
More recently, 2018, Andrew remixed Marius Circus' I Feel Space track. I Feel Space is Marius' take on the track that kicked off the whole Scandi disco scene back in 2005- Lindstrom's tribute to I Feel Love, an warm, uplifting, dreamy Italo- house synth record. Marius' cover and the two Weatherall remixes are both available for free, if you haven't got them already. Both remixes are spaced out, cosmic disco chuggers with plenty of those long, keening sounds that are littered throughout his work from the last decade. The unreleased dub is, er, dubbier and probably the pick of the pair to these ears.
Sunday, 5 April 2020
In 1987 Spacemen 3 released their second album, The Perfect Prescription, an album where the sequence of the songs and the music the group recorded attempt to recreate a trip, highs and lows and inception to comedown. It paid homage to Lou Reed's Street Hassle and covered the Red Krayola's Transparent Radiation. The album is, like all of Spacemen 3's records, both a manifesto and the inner worlds of Sonic Boom and J Spaceman expressed on tape. Later on in 2003 an alternate version of The Perfect Prescription was released, a double CD called Forged Prescription. This was the original tracks as recorded by the group in Rugby in 1987 plus some demo versions. Pete and Jason had streamlined the songs for the album's 1987 release, removing a lot of the guitars and stripping them back, because there was no way to replicate them live and it seemed to make sense to put out an album that they could play live. Some S3 fans will tell you the more elaborate versions on Forged Prescriptions are superior to the Perfect Prescription ones. Some prefer the '87 songs and the '87 running order. I'm not sure it matters that much, they're all great, just variations of each other. One thing both the Forged Prescription album and the various re-issues of The Perfect Prescription have in common are the B-sides to the Take Me To The Other Side single, including this one...
A combination of mid- 60s Rolling Stones, psychedelic guitar parts, bent strings, horns (sax and trumpet) and the beatific mindset of Spacemen 3 playing in a a recording studio box with no windows in an industrial estate in Rugby during the summer of 1987. Gorgeous. This song, the opener on The Perfect Prescription and the beginning of the trip, appears on Forged Prescriptions in demo form and shows the twin guitars of Sonic/Pete Kember and Jason preparing for blast off.
Take Me To The Other Side (Forged Prescriptions demo)
Forged Prescriptions and all the re-issues in recent years of Spacemen 3's albums on vinyl, plus various albums of demos, early recordings and live albums, have appeared on Space Age Recordings, a label owned by their former manager Gerald Palmer. The former members of the band, Pete, Jason and original bassist Pete Bassman have all said in public that Palmer has been ripping them off for years, releasing records without their input, paying little or no royalties, stealing their copyrights (logos etc) and asked fans not to buy the re- issues. Palmer (obviously) denies it all. One of those situations that leaves fans with moral dilemmas. I suppose for physical product on Space Age buy it second hand if you can. Forged Prescriptions is an album that I'm sure you can find digitally for free if you look around some of the corners of the internet for a few minutes.
Saturday, 4 April 2020
'Don't create congestion in commonly used space', a poster from the Soviet Union, 1950s.
I thought I'd do something new today and maybe make it a regular feature. Everyone and their dog is transmitting DJ sets at the moment. One thing we've all got lots of is time. So in the moments between phoning in to long video conferences, teaching online lessons, wiling away hours absentmindedly surfing the internet and social media, spending time with my family and getting my state sanctioned daily exercise allowance I've also put together the first Bagging Area mix, fifty four minutes of music called Isolation Mix 1.
It's actually Isolation Mix 1.1, the first one wasn't quite right and I removed a couple of tracks and replaced them with some other ones. It's a mix of old and new, largely ambient and instrumental, a bit of dub and dub techno in there and appearances from Rutger Hauer and a retired French footballer.
Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini: Illusion of Time v Eric Cantona 'As Flies To Wanton Boys...'
Four Tet: Teenage Birdsong
Durutti Column: The Second Aspect Of The Same Thing
Richard Norris: Shorelines
Sabres Of Paradise: Jacob Street 7am
A Winged Victory For The Sullen: Keep It Dark, Deutschland
Vangelis: Tears In Rain
The Orb: The Weekend It Rained Forever (Oseberg Buddha Mix (The Ravens Have Left The Tower))
Dub Trees: King Of The Faeries (Avengers Outer Space Chug Dub)
Two Lone Swordsmen: As Worldly Pleasures Waves Goodbye...
Friday, 3 April 2020
A couple of weeks ago, just as social distancing began to be a thing we were in Stockport on a Sunday afternoon. Up the hill from the town centre is Stockport Civic Centre, a concrete modernist complex with buildings, landscaping, forecourts, steps and this structure, a sort of concrete bunker but above ground, hiding something. There wasn't a soul around. Wandering round and taking some photos it felt like the world had already shut down.
This should provide some cheer. In 2017 Fujiya and Miyagi, the Brighton based band electronic, kraut, indie- disco pioneers, released an new album. At its heart is this magnificent song, titled wittily Extended Dance Mix, the musings of a middle aged man in a band who may have peaked in popularity and questioning whether there's any point in continuing, the state of the music scene and the ironic navel gazing of a man dealing with the onset of arthritis, acid reflux, dermatitis and middle age spread. All of this, the band's career trajectory and relevance and his own health, is compared to 'pumping an electric current through the leg of a dead frog'.
Highlights of the lyrics include vocalist David Best worrying about his joints-
'My ankles sometimes involuntarily click
Do you think that’s normal or potentially arthritic?'
And the band's then- current marketplace position and the groups coming through-
'On social media platforms, the general consensus is
Our popularity has declined since 2006
Now playlists are full of privately educated kids
Singing in falsetto about the over privileged lives that they live'
In some ways this is very much a wry, very British take on LCD Soundsystem's Losing My Edge-
'Pumping an electric current through the leg of a dead frog
Just to see the muscle kick sort of reminded me of
The last ten years and what that's consisted of''
More physical ailments set to the pumping, sparse rhythm-
'As the kick drum flexes its metaphorical muscles
My acid reflux flares up through my oesophagus then bubbles
It's the last piece of my aching bodies puzzle
As our dreams collide with reality and then quickly buckle'
Mid- life lifestyle gets a kicking too, no more tours and clubs but daytime TV and weight gain (very spring 2020) -
'I’ve put on weight and that’s down to a sedentary lifestyle
Well, that and consuming more calories than I burn whilst enjoying Columbo or Magnum P.I.'
Before finishing with the reality of having to face the camera and the continuing existence of the band
'Sucking in our guts...
Are they still going? Are Fujiya and Miyagi still going? …why?'
Thursday, 2 April 2020
Bicep have returned with a new single, Atlas, an attempt to sum up the euphoria of their live shows from the last few years in one single nugget. Bicep deal with a very specific kind of euphoria, synths rising and falling, lights strafing the crowd, peaks and troughs, communal experiences, arms raised together. For the moment we'll all have to experience those things remotely. At first I thought Atlas was in danger of retreading old ground but it's sunk deep in now and daily plays are an isolation necessity.
Wednesday, 1 April 2020
It's April 1st today but I don't think anyone needs any April Fools jokes at the moment. Instead I offer you a third Andrew Weatherall post of the week, a one- two- three of old and new. In 1992 Weatherall linked up with Talkin' Loud outfit Galliano to remix their song Skunk Funk. The resulting 12" single brought forth three remixes, the pick of which is the ten minute rumpus that is the Cabin Fever mix.
Skunk Funk (Cabin Fever)
The vocal intro, looped male/female voices appear as if coming through a fug. FX and rimshots join in and build slowly. Some drums kick in, a didgeridoo is deployed and eventually the bassline hits. At two minutes fifteen the drums and bass lock together and the mayhem ensues, a rolling, irresistible groove stopping and starting, rising and falling, a wiggy delight. There's a long fiddly guitar solo and an overall feeling of losing yourself to the rhythms, of not taking yourself too seriously and the heady sense of late night action.
I don't think there's any need to make any comment about it being titled the Cabin Fever mix but it seemed particularly relevant to our current situation.
Galliano were a bit of an acquired taste. They were beatnik, jazz loving, love bead and sandal wearing, spoken- word poetry enthusiasts with Mick Talbot on keyboards. I liked them, they seemed genuine about their interests and enthusiasms and their album of the same year, A Joyful Noise Unto the Creator, had some good tunes and was great fun. Around this time I saw them play live at the Hacienda, a fairly sparsely attended show, where they encored with a version of Kris Kros' Jump. Manchester on the whole didn't really go for acid jazz and Talkin' Loud, it seemed to be very much a London thing.
I once defused an imminent pub fight by using a line from one of their songs- 'with a pushing and a shoving you're killing all the loving'. I didn't plan to use the line, it came out of my mouth spontaneously, but it worked. The about- to- fight participant laughed and stepped down. Peace restored.