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Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Screamadereka

Psychederek is an artist who is very local to me- he plays records at a bar just a mile up the road in Stretford called Head, the first Friday of every month, a night called Psychederek's Psycho which promises disco, Balearic, bass, indie dance and Afrobeat, which sounds right up by street (literally and metaphorically). The video for his latest release is also features some very local parts of south Manchester, not least one of the streets around Stretford Arndale and the footbridge over the M60 from Kickety Brook and the Mersey to Stretford Meadows (it all sounds very romantic but don't be fooled. Stretford Meadows is built on top of landfill and rubble dug out to construct the motorway. The tip/ dump/ household waste recycling centre is next door). It's been one of my lockdown walk routes so it's lovely to see it immortalised in song- and not just any old song but a song called Screamadereka...


Clearly you don't call yourself Psychederek and release a song called Screamadereka and then expect to be taken entirely seriously but there's no joking with the song- it's a beautifully pitched, slow motion, blissed out stroll with sonic explosions, looped voices and a vocal that sounds like the sun shining. Screamadereka is out on an EP called Space Arcade, released by Sprechen, the label owned by Chris Massey (also a Stretford resident) and you can get it at Bandcamp. Disappointingly I think I have missed out on the vinyl. 

There are two versions/ remixes on the EP by the combined talents of Sean Johnston (as Hardway Bros) and Duncan Gray (as Monkton), the deeply dubbed out cosmic trip of Screamadereka (Hardway Bros Meet Monkton Downtown) taking the original and separating it out even further, finding all the space between the sounds. It's a stunner. 

The Screamadereka (Hardway Bros Meets Monkton Disco Dub) does the reverse, pushing the tempo up and landing on the dance floor somewhere far, far away, powered by a very wigged out bassline. On and on it goes, round and round, looping itself out of the atmosphere and escaping. 

Monday, 30 August 2021

Lee 'Scratch' Perry

Word came out of Jamaica yesterday that Lee 'Scratch' Perry had died aged 85. He seemed to have been around for so long and seemed so ancient that the idea of him dying is faintly absurd- it looked like he would just carry on forever but (like Charlie Watts last week) it turns out he was mortal after all. Perry's recording career from the early 70s onward is the stuff of legend. His role in the development of reggae and especially dub, using the studio as an instrument, is unsurpassed. His productions from the mid- 70s, done at his own Black Ark Studio are mind-bending pieces of music- the use of space and echo, animal noises dropped in, FX bouncing around, panning from left to right and back again, his creation of acres of room in the tracks but with sounds crammed in and piled on top of each is sheer brilliance. The basslines and horns. The snippets of vocals- soul fire, roast fish, cornbread and collie weed- are like missives from another world. His razor sharp productions for Junior Murvin (Police And Thieves, almost certainly my entry point to his work via The Clash), the unbelievably, effortlessly cool Heart Of The Congos, Party Time by The Heptones, Max Romeo's War Ina Babylon, Prince Jazzbo's Croaking lizard set the standard for what reggae music should sound like. His work with Bob Marley and The Wailers was crucial in their story. His influence on the punks, not least The Clash (and his production on Complete Control, probably reeled in after the event to make it more palatable to their audience), was huge. His song with The Beastie Boys is a wonky joy. His album with Adrian Sherwood last year showed he was still cutting it. 

In 1996 a compilation called Voodooism came out, a stunning collection of dub works taking in his own tracks and productions and dubs of the likes of Zap Pow, Errol Walker, Earl Sixteen, Leo Graham, The Hombres and The Black Notes. Future Dub is a dubbed out flipside to Errol Walker's Better Future single from 1977. I bought it and palye dit 

Future Dub

Soul Fire, from 1978 and the Roast Fish Collie Weed And Corn Bread album is otherworldly- cows mooing, a skanking riddim, a sizzle and a vocal that sounds like the heat of the surface of the sun. 

Soul Fire

Dreadlocks In Moonlight is smoother and slower, a vocal roots reggae song from 1976, Scratch cutting the tempo and the heat. 

Dreadlocks In Moonlight

On and on into his back catalogue you can go, finding something to love at almost every turn. 

Lee Perry aka The Upsetter, RIP. 

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Ambient Sunday

Brian Eno's Ambient 4: On Land came out in 1982, an album combining synthesiser notes, found sounds including animals and rural recordings, recordings from other projects that finally found a home and the contributions of musicians such as Bill Laswell, Daniel Lanois and the recently deceased Jon Hassell. The tracks reference real places- Lizard Point, Lantern Marsh, Leeks Hills and on the final track Dunwich Beach, a Suffolk port which was the victim of coastal erosion and disappeared into the sea. The album is eerie and unsettling despite the beauty of the recordings and there's a sense of loss throughout it, suggesting the faded glamour of deserted British seaside towns out of season or the ghostly weirdness of the English countryside at dusk in autumn. 

Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Danza Oscuro

The Poncho Brothers are from Yukatan, Mexico and are the purveyors psyche/ no wave/ disco. In 2015 they released their sole single, a four track 12" single with this song on it,  Danza Oscuro (Dark Dance in English). It came out on Glasgow's Invisible, Inc label and you can buy it digitally here

Scuzzy bass at the fore, a wayward groove, wiggly synths, surf guitar- lovely stuff. 

I first heard it as part of this recording of Andrew Weatherall playing in a field in Italy at the Terraforma festival in 2017. Our DJ on stage with his belongings in a carrier bag, workwear, jeans with big turn- ups, braces and round sunglasses and proceeds to play a seamless mix of punk, indie, rock 'n' roll, post- punk, an anything goes approach to DJing as long as you can dance to it. Any set that contains The Poncho Brothers, Gerry And The Holograms, Fujiya and Miyagi, The Dream Syndicate, AMOR and Moon Duo (among others) is a winner. The man knew how to DJ. 

Friday, 27 August 2021

Alien Avery


Mandy, Indiana are based in Manchester apparently. Clearly my finger isn't on the local pulse because they're new to me but I haven't exactly been on the scene for some time now. Their song Alien 3 has been remixed by Daniel Avery and, well, to put it mildly, oooft... 

A huge sounding kick drum- bang bang bang bang- then a snare- tsk tsk tsk tsk- and then  at sixteen seconds a hi- hat which on my first listen had me laughing out loud and exhaling, not because it was funny but because it was just so... there and on it. The descending bass hoover at thirty seconds is a brain melter. Singer Valentine Caulfield's vocals, sung in her native French, are chopped up and dropped in, adding to the propulsion. Breakdown, slow siren noises, tension and release. Techno can have a real physicality about it, ribcage rattling stuff and this remix has that- even through crappy computer speakers. I can only imagine what it sounds like through a club or gig system.

Mandy, Indiana make raw, noisy, visceral post- punk. The original version of Alien 3 is pretty uncompromising and industrial and if I ever get to a point where I can attend indoor gigs again I will make a point of punishing my ears with some of this stuff. 

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Charlie Watts

On Tuesday night someone on Twitter said they'd always thought The Rolling Stones were immortal but the death of Charlie Watts aged 80 puts paid any notions of that. Charlie was the engine room, the provider of the backbeat, a cool and collected presence with a minimal, four piece drumkit who always seemed to treat being the drummer in The Rolling Stones as a job- a healthy attitude in that particular group maybe. Turn up, do your bit, go home. Simon Price commented, also on Twitter, that 'he had the jazz chops but he always kept it unfussy, just holding things down. And I always appreciated his quietly tolerant expression of ''These idiots...' '', which nails Charlie's onstage facial expression perfectly, sitting at the back keeping time while the others did the showing off at the front. Either that he was mentally making a list of what he needed to buy from the 24 hour garage on the way home...

This interview with Charlie backstage somewhere on the road in the USA during their 25th anniversary tour is priceless, Charlie deflecting any rock 'n' roll cliches with a remark about the reality of being in the band- 'work five years and twenty years hanging around...'

Back in 1989/ 1990 The Rolling Stones were both everywhere and dinosaurs. Sympathy For The Devil was heard all over the place, the congas and the rhythms part of the sound of the times, the woo- woo backing vocals slipping into indie- dance and acid house, the danger and glamour of the song seeping in alongside house music, De La Soul, Happy Mondays, 808 State, Soul II Soul and all the rest. On the other hand, they were old men (or seemed to be to us aged twenty), millionaire rock stars with no idea of what was really happening. When they announced the Steel Wheels/ Urban Jungle tour I remember debating with a friend about whether we should go. They had dates at Maine Road in July 1990 (it being Maine Road could have been a factor against it). We decided not to go, possibly fired up on the spirit and cheek of Ian Brown's comment- when asked whether his band would support The Stones he replied, 'The Rolling Who? They should be supporting us'. I recall thinking that paying over £20 to watch some old men play their hits in a football ground was ideologically unsound, especially with so many other younger bands to see and clubs to go to. There's a lot to unpack there in retrospect, not least the fact that in 1990 Mick, Keith and Charlie were in their mid- to- late 40s i.e. a little younger than I am now. 

A month ago The 1968 Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus was on TV. I switched over as it started and there it was. It was famously unreleased when it was recorded, Mick unhappy with the Stones performance. A few decades later, when watched again, they weren't as bad as he thought at the time and the CD and DVD box sets kept the cash registers ringing. The Stones went on in the early hours of the morning, playing in a big top after Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, a paint stripping performance by The Who and some gritty, dirty blues from an all star band put together by John Lennon, but there's nothing poor, tired or under par about this and while the camera is all about Mick, it's Charlie locked in with Keef who are doing the work and dredging up the voodoo (and playing through a PA smaller and less powerful than most modern pub tribute bands use).

The Stones with Charlie on drums made some superb mid- 60s pop singles, brittle, bright, amphetamine songs like 19th Nervous Breakdown and Get Off My Cloud and some wonderful trippy but spiky psychedelia (Citadel, She's A Rainbow, 2000 Light Years From Home). Citadel sounds like an 80s garage band, flanged guitar, feedback, three chord riffs and Charlie's drums, slightly behind where you think they should be- dislocating psychedelic rock. 

Citadel

Then there are the four albums the made between '68 and '72, are the stuff of legend- Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street, albums dripping with sticky, grungy, murky, sweaty, arrogant but ultimately life affirming rock 'n' roll, with some huge dollops of country and blues and pop stirred in. Street Fighting Man. No Expectations. Let It Bleed. Gimme Shelter. Live With Me. Monkey Man. You Can't Always Get What You Want. Wild Horses. Moonlight Mile. Dead Flowers. Rocks Off. Torn And Frayed. Happy. All Down The Line. Shine A Light. Charlie Watts was never just the drummer. He was the backbone and the backbeat. This song was an outtake from the Sticky Fingers sessions, unreleased until Allen Klein put it out a cheap cash in compilation several years later.

I'm Going Down

It sounds like Keith on guitar, sounds like him all day long, but the internet says it's Mick Taylor (who also wrote it and wasn't credited) and Stephen Stills. Charlie's gear changes at forty five seconds and one minute forty two drive the song and the band on, Bobby Keys' sax squawking away on top. And you think, 'this was one they decided to leave off the album...' 

This one too, a Stevie Wonder cover also from 1969 and apparently recorded the night news came through that Brian Jones had died. 

I Don't Know Why

I could go on but I think that's enough. Charlie Watts, gentleman, snappy dresser, drummer, Rolling Stone. RIP. 

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

45ft Tide

Steve Cobby's one man renaissance/ cottage industry continues with the release of another album- Shanty Bivouac- an eight track opus. It came out a few weeks ago but I've waited to listen to it properly and let it get under my skin before writing about it. The album divides in two, the first half more uptempo and driven by beats and the second more reflective and chilled out. Opener Saddlebags sets the scene with some Steve's trademark funk, clipped guitars and Fender Rhodes, summer fun and drinks at the bar. Ten Bob Lino ramps it up with some faster electronic beats, skittering drums and sweeping strings. Whip And Tongue is back on the funky drums and bassline, with several different synth and organ parts playing off against each other. Everyone Is A Salesman slows the pace a little, squelchy bass and bleepy melody line before some lovely organ sings over the top. The second half, side B in a vinyl world kicks in with more clattering drums, pots and pans percussion and a flute. The final three tracks are the album's highlights for me, a perfectly paced trio, the sounds pitching down to the sundown Balearic/ ambient end of things- Pick Flowers Brewmaster is a gorgeous down tempo ride, a melody tugging at the heartstrings. It's followed by 45ft Tide, an acoustic guitar and some delay, a drumbeat that sounds like it was tapped out on a work surface, the atmospherics gradually building while the guitar picks away- I keep clicking back to the start with this one, over and over. The final song, as if that wasn't enough, is three and a half minutes of piano and reverb, a happy/ sad, reflective way to finish. The song's title- Life And Consciousness And Mind And Memory And Thought and All Creation- tries to pull it all together but the piano is more than capable of doing all of that on its own. 

You can buy it digitally at Bandcamp here. There's a vinyl pledge page here, which has already passed the number needed to go into production, but if you want  a copy on black wax (and this sounds very much an album that needs to be heard physically) you can still pledge through to the end of this week. 



Tuesday, 24 August 2021

That's The Way The Thunder Rumbles

In 1985 Echo And The Bunnymen released Bring On The Dancing horses, a single designed to showcase the first fruits of the work with producer Laurie Latham, recorded for the film Pretty In Pink (with one eye on a US audience) and to draw in punters to their singles compilation Songs To Learn And Sing. It was the first release following 1984's Ocean Rain and split the opinion of fans, some seeing it as too lightweight, commercial and poppy. I love it- poppy and smothered in the sheen of big studios and name producers it may be, drenched in layers of synths and melodic it definitely is, but what a tune, Mac singing of Jimmy Brown and Charlie Clown and 'shaking while breaking your brittle heart'. The 12" featured an extended mix, stretching the song out for an extra minute or two. 

However it's not Bring On The Dancing Horses but the B-sides that I'm here to offer you today. For the B-sides the Bunnymen went to Strawberry Studios in Stockport and produced themselves. Flip the 12" over and you'll find a darker, grittier, looser Bunnymen. Bedbugs and Ballyhoo is first up, The song would be re-recorded for their 1987 'grey' album with Ray Manzarek from The Doors guesting on keyboards but the version on the 12" single is vastly superior. Pete on brushes, Les' bassline (the starting point for the entire song) and Will's understated guitar lines. Ian makes up the words on the spot- he later claimed the song was about imperialism (and hey, maybe it is) but I think they're just words he plucked out of the Stockport air and stitched together- bison, buffalo, cannonball, rifle, thunder, rumbles- and then the classic romanticism of the chorus, 'down on your knees again/ saying please again'. The loose, funky breakdown is a treat, Bunnymen at the jazz supper club. 

Bedbugs And Ballyhoo (Original Version)

Leave the 12" playing and the second B-side rips into view, a wall of noise with fuzz guitar, thumping drums and a lovely slide guitar part. Ian said in the Crystal Days box set booklet the song was intended as a riposte to the Mary Chain and the noise bands coming up behind. Ian's vocal veers between coolly disinterested/ half spoken and typically histrionic, 'never gonna change/ never disappear'. 

Over Your Shoulder

The album they began to record after this, the self titled Echo And The Bunnymen (known as the grey album), suffered from Laurie Latham's production (which stripped the life from some of the songs), from being forced to re- record it after the record company rejected the first mixes and a loss of interest from the band. They were split into two, maybe three, camps- Ian was isolated and planning his departure (listen to The Game to see where his head was at) and Will, Les and Pete were pissed off with Ian and the whole process. Pete, everyone said, was never the same after his return from his Sex Gods trip across America. But if they'd been allowed to produce themselves and holed up in Strawberry, things could have been different- or at least the album might have been. The Game, Lips Like Sugar and some of the other songs from the 1987 album done themselves in the vein of these two B-sides could have made for a very different record. Not that it would have kept the group together, I think they were too far gone for that. 

Monday, 23 August 2021

Monday's Long Song

In 1989 a Danish group called Dr. Baker, Kenneth Bager's first musical outfit, released a record called Let's Dream Together, what Bager called a paradise record, the opposite of rave. Heavily inspired by Italo- house and Manuel Gottsching's E2/ E4 (and also by Sueno Latino, built around a sample from E2/ E4), the record was pressed as a one sided 12" in a very small quantity. A year later Boy George picked up on it and offered to record a vocal for the track but nothing happened. Kenneth Bager's Music For Dreams label has re- issued it thirty years later following multiple requests from a number of labels to put it back out. The master tapes were retrieved and baked, some new stems discovered and added, a bit of tinkering and hey presto! The New Age Orchestra's slice of paradise dream house from 1989 is reborn. The original of Let's Dream Together goes for silly money on Discogs. The digital re- issue can be got here for 10 Danish Krona (approximately one pound). 

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Shine Like Stars

Last month Primal Scream announced the a thirtieth anniversary edition box set of Screamadelica, a box that will contain all the 12" singles from that album re- issued on vinyl (nine 12" singles) with a new and previously unreleased mix of Shine Like Stars as the tenth disc. The box retails at £120.99 and I'll just leave that figure hanging there. 

The new version of Shine Like Stars was played on BBC 6 on Friday and then was put online. It seems that they will be releasing this version separately from the box, probably for next year's Record Shop Day just in case you didn't feel that the box set was exclusive enough. Late stage capitalism/ the music industry is such a joy sometimes.

Shine Like Stars closes Screamadelica, an album that Primal Scream made with Andrew Weatherall producing and Hugo Nicolson close at hand. Initially Weatherall, a relative unknown as a remixer and producer but flushed with the summer of love, a great record collection and the enthusiasm and confidence of youth, remixed I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have into Loaded and then Come Together. Higher Than The Sun and Don't Fight It, Feel It followed and Alan McGee told Primal Scream they needed to turn this run of ground-breaking, hip shaking, boundary breaking singles into an album. Weatherall got the job in the big chair and the album followed. Shine Like Stars presented some problems for them, not quite falling into place and the sequencing of the album and how to finish it wasn't quite there either until Weatherall cracked Shine Like Stars. 

Shine Like Stars

It's a space- age lullaby, a twinkling musical box melody and a drone, some synths and a lazy pace. Bobby sings softly about someone sleeping. After the Stones- isms, acid house highs, crunching club beats, country ballads and blissed out dub trips of the previous eleven songs Shine Like Stars is a beautiful way to trail off, the accordion and waves lapping against the beach for the final seconds of the song and the album. 

The new/ previously unreleased mix is here

It's titled Andrew Weatherall Remix but to me sounds more like an earlier mix, the song in a development form before it was completed. There's some very 1991 piano and a different drum track and then a huge synth bassline, not a million miles from the one on Safe From Harm by Massive Attack (out the same year). The backing vocals at two minutes fifty are nice, an interesting part of the song that didn't make the final cut, and then Throb's guitar comes in, a grungy 70s Les Paul solo, that bassline and the twinkling melody playing off against each other. The final minute and a half has all these eventually unused elements piling up, the ooh oohs, the jagged bassline, Throb's guitar, Gillespie singing low in the mix. It's good to hear it, an interesting version of the song and an alternative take, definitely some distance from the cosmic dreaminess of the final mix. What Mr Weatherall would have said about it, we'll never know. Whether it's worth the £120.99 to have it as part of the box set along with the nine other singles, all previously released and owned by many of us, is a decision others will have to make according to their bank balance. I'm glad it's out there. 

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Back In The Day

Today would have been Joe Strummer's 69th birthday had he lived. We'll celebrate that with a song from his back catalogue, a favourite one of mine and one I've posted before. Generations was recorded for a CD compilation album called  Generations 1: A Punk Look At Human Rights. In the 90s Joe seemed to flit between living in Hampshire, London, Somerset and Los Angeles. While in L.A. Joe bumped into Rat Scabies of The Damned at a Ministry gig and went backstage where they met a very frail Timothy Leary and then went out on the lash with Al Jourgensen. In the morning Joe and Rat decided to form a new band with Segs from The Ruts on bass, called themselves Electric Doghouse and recorded one song- Generations

There's a live, one take feel about the song, the energy flowing between the three punk veterans. It's messy, the meters being overloaded and the needles in the red. The drums, bass and guitar all bleed into each other. Joe's voice has a ton of reverb on it and the words are pure Strummer-

'Back in the day/ Even circles were squares/  Radio waves/ Like pollen in the air/ When there ain't no water/ And there ain't no trees/ Just a dry wind singing/ Through the telegraph keys

And generations/ Leave resonations/ From demonstrations/ To all the destinations

Let's go burning down the road...'

Generations

Friday, 20 August 2021

Stars Planets Dust Me

I've posted some songs and remixes by A Mountain Of One before including a really sultry Richard Norris remix of Bones. Now they have returned with their first album in a decade, trailed by a 12" single with two songs, Custards Last Stand and Stars Planets Dust Me. They are a kind of sky- kissing, blissed out, ambient- folk, synth music for a future world. Listen to this, to the twinkling melody topline, the bubbling synth sounds, the padded drums and the whispered vocoder vox, the overall feeling of drifting high above the ground, surfing on warm currents, and tell me that for a few minutes life didn't feel infinitely better. 


Apparently there are dub reworks by Dennis Bovell to follow as well as some Richard Norris ambient remixes. Appetite fully whetted. 

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Waiting At The End Of My Ride

Today is my grandmother's funeral. She died on 4th August at the age of 101. Her hundredth birthday party, held at the start of March 2020, was the last social gathering we all attended together before lockdown. She lived independently almost until the end (and she lived alone since the death of my Grandfather in 1997) and it was only in the last year of her life that she became unable to cope on her own and moved into a nursing home. Visiting her and only being able to see her through the window due to Covid restrictions was difficult, especially as she refused to wear the hearing aids she really needed to, which made communication harder. My Mum and any of my family who visited would write messages and news on a pad and hold it up to the window. She'd read and nod and smile. Her life was both remarkable and ordinary for her generation- Nony was born on 4th March 1920 in the direct aftermath of the First World War, she grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, served during the Second World War driving a jeep even though she'd never passed a test (and then never drove after the war, typically contrary). Her brother Michael was in the RAF and killed on a flight over Germany in 1943. She talked about him often. She married her husband, Neville Ollerenshaw and often told us that the first time she saw him he was playing snooker, 'bending over the billiards table' she would say. They travelled widely in Europe and were enthusiastic visitors to Europe, driving to France, Germany and Switzerland from the 1950s onwards at a time when, she always said, if you saw another car with British number plates you honked the horn and waved. Their house was decorated with mementoes of foreign holidays- posters from France, paintings of French castles, a Swiss cuckoo clock, little wooden figurines of people in traditional Alpine clothing. They both became teachers. She taught hundreds of children to read and although retired since 1983 was still volunteering in a local school to listen to children read until quite recently. She was a mother, a granny (to eight) and a great- granny (to thirteen, the most recent born last month). 

I started to think about her age and the world she was born into. She was born in the same year as Yul Bryner and Montgomery Clift, two years before Jack Kerouac, Judy Garland and Doris Day (all born in 1922), three years older than Hank Williams, five years older than Malcolm X, six years older than Marilyn Monroe- to pick a handful of famous/ significant people. She outlived them all. It seems strange that these people and all those born in the years after the First World War were her contemporaries- it seems so long ago, another world. When she was born manned flight was only a decade old. Before she was 50  the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon. When I was born (1970) she was 50. When I turned 50, she was 100. She lived an incredibly long time, lived abstemiously, swam in the sea well into her nineties even/ especially when it was a bit too cold for most of us, refused to accept she was old and when she finally did accept it said that she 'never intended to live this long'. Towards the end, a couple of months ago, she'd definitely had enough and was ready to go. By any standards she lived a very long life and although obviously it's very sad she's gone this is genuinely one of those occasions where you do feel like you can celebrate a person and their life, a life well lived and a life less ordinary. We are having a family gathering today and then in September a memorial service in Suffolk where she'd lived since the 1980s. It will be the first time as a family we've all been together since Covid and since her hundredth birthday- we'll raise a glass or two and send her on her way. 

A song; I don't think she would have been a fan of much of the music I post here. Nony and Neville and my Mum were/ are all big fans of TV Westerns and cowboy films though so Frankie Laine singing the theme tune to Rawhide back in 1958 is as good a choice as any. 

Rawhide


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Money And Murk

Two tracks that both came out recently and that seem to work together very well for me for today and both sound like they could have been put together during an all night recording session in the 1940s pill box in the photo above. When we were down in the Wye Valley in July I stumbled across it, hidden in the undergrowth overlooking the river. How long any defenders would have lasted in it is open to question. Local youths have made more use of it in the years since 1945, for various activities. You can probably imagine. 

The first track is an Alessandro Cortini rework of a song from Mogwai's latest album, the amusingly titled Fuck Off Money. Cortini is formerly of Nine Inch Nails and more recently worked with Daniel Avery to produce an album of sweet, intense industrial ambient, released with some appropriateness of timing at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020. Alessandro's eight minute rework of Mogwai is intense, to put it mildly, and ends up like a slow motion ride through hyperspace. It's a heavy trip, in all the right ways. Buy it here.

Pye Corner Audio is a regular on these pages, his monthly tracks released during the last eighteen months acting as  a sonic journal. Martin Jenkins has moved towards a kind of dark, industrial modular rave sound on some of them, a sound he has perfected with his latest one, a seven minute ride titled Murk. It's as intense and darkly beautiful as the Cortini/ Mogwai one, two sides of the same synth. Get it here at a name your own price deal. 

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Lost In The Delta Of Venus

Some songs are like planets or moons, they orbit around you and once in a while come back into your life and repeat the impact they had when you first heard them. Just as planets have longer or shorter orbits depending on their distance from the sun, so do the songs- some come back more frequently and some less so, but either way they come back. Last week a friend posted a picture on Twitter of The Wild Swans. I went straight away to their 1982 single The Revolutionary Spirit and have been playing it often ever since. It has got under my skin again. I posted it once before back in 2014 and this is what I wrote about it then...

There's something about this song, The Revolutionary Spirit by The Wild Swans, that could somehow only have been made in Liverpool in 1982, something essentially early 80s scouse about it. The Wild Swans were the baby of Paul Simpson. Paul's led three different line ups of The Wild Swans over the years but there's something really special about the first line up. Isn't it often that way? The Revolutionary Spirit was paid for, produced (in mono) and drummed on by Bunnyman Pete de Freitas and is a yearning, heart felt, uplifting, post-punk masterpiece. It was also the last record released by legendary Liverpudlian independent label Zoo.

The lyrics are a mini-epic in themselves, starting with these opening lines... 'Lost in the delta of Venus, lost in a welter of shame'... and a chorus that takes it further still... 'All is quiet where angels fear, Oh my blood relations the revolutionary spirit is here'. William Blake eat your heart out.

Label owner Bill Drummond reckoned it was the best thing Zoo put out and he might be right. Bill Drummond often is.

I can't do any better than that now other than to add that what those early 80s Liverpool bands shared was their romanticism, hopeless romantics all (in contrast to the reality of the city in front of them, abandoned by Margaret Thatcher into 'managed decline'). 

Songs like this one are special, they hit hard, burrow their way inside you and don't let go. 

The Revolutionary Spirit

Paul Simpson lost the first version of The Wild Swans in 1982, with the other two members going off to become The Lotus Eaters. The second incarnation, between 1987 and 1990 also imploded. A third was active between 2009 and 2011. Simpson sees all three as part of the same thing, a continuum. He is also scathing about time wasted playing the game for major record labels- 'major record labels suck the poetry from your bones and fill the gaps with cement made from cocaine and crushed teenagers'. 


Monday, 16 August 2021

Monday's Long Song

Ripley Johnson is the man behind three bands which have been taking it in turns to hit the spot in different ways over the last decade. The four- piece psychedelic groove of Wooden Shjips and the two/ three person blissed out motorik of Moon Duo have been complemented by his cosmic country outfit Rose City Band, now three albums in. This years album- Earth Trip- is full of sublime moments, melancholic country rock with a psychedelic tint, inspired and written during lockdown as Ripley started living outdoors more- as we all have. Dawn Patrol is the album's nine minute long closing song- a gentle, radiant kiss goodbye.

Dawn Patrol

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Hands Of Drone

Hands Of Drone is the latest project from Leicester- based artist Harvey Sharman- Dunn, a five track release of instrumentals and drones, created using analogue and digital sounds, found sounds and synths with all sorts of delay and time stretching going on. The album's first track, Hands, is almost quarter of an hour long and ideal for Sunday morning reflection and contemplation, a long industrial/ metallic drone but oddly calming. Artifice_81 is much shorter and less earthbound. Perfect (with Ben Moore) is ten minutes of edge of space stuff, minute changes in tone and timbre seeming enormous. Brother is at first ethereal but then becoming more foreground, a guitar audible in the mix, some backwards sounds (piano and guitar I think) and a sense of motion. Eventually a slide or Hawaiian guitar topline comes to the front. Last track Flowers is ten minutes of ringing, swooping and whooshing sounds with a saw taking the lead. Treat yourself to some Hands Of Drone- you deserve it.

Buy it digitally or on Ye Olde Compacte Disc at Bandcamp

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Cicada Interlude

Chris Coco's Balearic/ ambient/ found sound/ folktronica label has just announced the release of a four track EP by Nick And Samantha called Summer Is Here, a release which leads with a cover of Barry White's You're My First, the Last, My Everything- but you can't hear that yet. Instead they've trailed it with a forty five second track called Cicada Interlude, which is pretty much just cicadas doing their thing and some echo/ FX. And who wouldn't enjoy that on a Saturday morning in the middle of August? I know I do. 

Get it here

Which reminds me of this 1995 samples and funky organ single by Beastie Boys' keyboard player and repair man Money Mark...

Insects Are All Around Us

Friday, 13 August 2021

Against The Black Blue Sky

One of the joys of Andrew Weatherall's remixes, especially the early 90s ones, was the sample spotting- Weatherall's samples were like breadcrumbs to follow that led you to his influences and then other records and artists. Last Saturday I posted a tribute to Jean 'Binta' Breeze, the Jamaican dub poet who died in earlier this month who Weatherall sampled for his dub remix of Saint Etienne's Only Love Can Break Your Heart. In 1991 Andrew met Dot Allison from One Dove and agreed to work on the trio's album. Fresh from a lost weekend in Rimini he arrived in Glasgow to add his magic to One Dove's songs. After much wrangling with the record label (who wanted to go with Stephen Hague's poppier, shinier mixes of some of the songs) the album Morning Dove White was released, a year later than it should have been, in 1993. The album is a genuine lost classic of the 90s, the flipside to Screamadelica, a multi- layered, dubby, down tempo, after hours record, magic and mystery woven into the grooves of the vinyl. It still sounds like that- in fact if anything, it sounds better now than it did then, infused with a timeless beauty. The album has never been re- issued which adds to its allure (apparently plans are afoot to re- release it with all it's singles and remixes plus rumours of never previously released Weatherall mixes of some of the songs). The album was also key in the formation of Sabres Of Paradise with Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner engineering the album. 

The single Breakdown came out in October 1993 in various versions and mixes across various formats. I still have a cassingle of Breakdown as well as my 12" copy and a CD single came out containing five versions. They included Stephen Hague's Radio Mix, a lovely chugging, spacey Hugo Nicolson remix (the Cellophane Boat Mix) and an eight minute, wonderfully fluid, sci fi William Orbit Stereo Odyssey Mix. But the most extraordinary remix was Weatherall's reworking, Squire Black Dove Rides Out, a ten minute tripped out dub excursion taking up all of side B of the 12" single. 

Breakdown (Squire Black Dove Rides Out)

Over the descending synth string chords a sonorous voice strikes up, 'against the black blue sky/ the shadow of the dove... an open mind's... excursion', and then 'can you remember?/ the shadow of the dove'. I've no idea where this voice comes from incidentally so if anyone knows, please write in to the usual address. The voice is swamped by some dubby percussion, all rimshots and echo, and a huge stuttering bassline starts up. The bassline is taken from Exorcist by Shades Of Rhythm, slowed right down. Exorcist is raw, breakbeat techno repurposed into a widescreen dubbed out adventure. 

Exorcist

An acoustic guitar comes in, slightly startling. It's from Breakdown and played by Andrew Innes from Primal Scream. There's a lovely dubby melodica,  from I don't know where (chances are it's from an Augustus Pablo or King Tubby record) and then there's Dot's vocal, chopped up and looped, 'na na na- na/ na na na- na na/ na na na- na/ na na na- na na'. Those sumptuous synth strings sweep back in and some distant kettle drums pound and just as it sounds like Squire Black Dove Rides Out is reaching a conclusion the dub comes back, everything sent around for a few more bars, and then the acoustic guitar is brought back, more and more round and round. There's another breakdown (ha!) at seven minutes with an excerpt of the bassline from They Come In Peace suddenly dropped in, a total change in the feel and the tempo before it all returns again to the drawn out dub business. 

They Came In Peace

They Came In Peace was a 12" single by Tranquility Bass, American spaced out ambient dance, also originally released in 1991. Blissful chill opening with crickets and a voice from US TV saying, 'they came in peace for all mankind' before the jazz bassline loops its way in. 

The transformation of Breakdown, a forlorn downtempo, pop song- Phil Spector meets the back room of early 90s clubland- into a dub odyssey shows the breadth of Weatherall's imagination and his ear for a sample, a snippet or loop from another record, taken straight out of his record box and refashioned in the studio in a new way. 

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Sketch For A Manchester Summer

This song is one of the hidden gems in Vini Reilly's back catalogue. You could argue that the entire Durutti Column back catalogue is one hidden gem after another but this one really is more hidden than most. It only appeared as far as I know on a limited edition, numbered CD called The Sporadic Recordings in December 1989 and then as a double CD called Return Of The Sporadic Recordings- both CDs now go for upwards of £20 or £30 second hand (which isn't much for vinyl but is a lot for a compact disc in the current market place). Most of the sellers are abroad as well so postage adds another £10 to the price- the only copy currently on Discogs from a UK seller is priced at £35.99, a lot of money for a CD. If ever a song needed reissuing as a 7" single, it's this one. 

Sketch For A Manchester Summer 1989 is just shy of three minutes, with what sounds like either a very FX treated guitar part or a keyboard or synth picking out a melody and then Vini recording the rain as it falls outside his back door, a typical Manchester summer's day. The rain and the bubbling electronic melody play accompany each other for a minute and then the rain stops leaving just the lead part and then Vini's guitar comes in and takes us through to the end, Vini picking and plucking with Roland space echo and chorus pedal adding the trademark tone. At times it seems to echo the first song on the first Durutti Column album, Sketch For Summer on Return Of The Durutti Column, but it's also a piece completely of its own. The final upwards guitar note rings out and then you pull the Youtube progress bar back to the start and play it again. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Chlorine Box

Two singles from 1990/ 1991 today, both of which I've posted before but neither of which I ever tire of hearing when they pop up on shuffle, in the sidebar on Youtube or when flicking through the 7" singles box. First from 1990 The High and their calling card Box Set Go...

Box Set Go

And then to follow Chlorine Dream from Spirea X...

Chlorine Dream (album version)

Both bands married 60s melodies, chiming Rickenbackers and a shuffly early 90s beat. Both were seen as offshoots of other bigger, more fashionable bands. Both could have been much bigger than they were but never got beyond the lower end of the charts and the lesser pages of the music press. These two songs alone justify their ongoing online existences in the pages of blogs like this one.

The High were from Manchester and signed to London Records in the mad dash to gobble up Manchester guitar bands. Guitarist Andy Couzens served his time in The Stone Roses before they began to gain any kind of acclaim outside south Manchester postcodes. He left following an argument with manager Gareth Evans and Ian Brown and John Squire about songwriting credits and royalties. The High recorded with Martin Hannett shortly before his death. Their 1990 debut album, Somewhere Soon, is well revisiting- Up And Down, Take Your Time, PWA and Dreams Of Dinesh all fizz and buzz in all the right places. Follow up single More... is also a lost classic. 

Spirea X were formed by Jim Beattie, a founder member of Primal Scream and 12 string guitar slinger. Chlorine Dream was their debut followed in May 1991 by Speed Reaction. They were very much a Brian Jones/ Love, speed cut with ecstasy type of band, who signed to 4AD so had the benefit of beautiful Vaughan Oliver sleeves to go with the songs. The album Fireblade Skies is a minor 1991 treat with an obligatory Arthur Lee cover (Signed D.C.) and some very 60s in the 90s song titles- Rollercoaster, Fire And Light, Confusion In My Soul, Nothing Happened Yesterday all spell fringes, love beads, Levi's cords and white denim jackets. 

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Yo, We've Landed

We were in Liverpool for a couple of days at the end of last week, a city I know well having been a student there between 1988 and 1991 and being a fairly regular visitor ever since. We spent some time wandering round, looking at streets and places almost unchanged in the last three decades and other parts of the city pretty much unrecognisable. Liverpool has an edge to it, a stubbornness, and I like the fact that no matter how much gentrification takes place and how much money gets thrown at various parts of the city centre, it refuses to play ball completely. 

On Rodney Street there is a graveyard next to St. Andrew's Church containing this pyramid tomb, supposedly the last resting place of William MacKenzie who died in 1851. McKenzie was a gambler and according to legend he left instructions that he be buried sitting at a card table, a winning hand clutched in his deceased paw. Further stories say that his body was interred, an attempt to cheat the devil out of attaining his soul that he forfeited in a game of cards. Naturally, or rather supernaturally, the rumours persisted that his ghost haunts the graveyard and wanders round Rodney Street late at night. More info here

Yo, We've Landed, a collaboration between The Secret Soul Society and Hardway Bros has been released digitally with a Hardway Bros redux remix, a chugging, dubby, disco- tinged adventure, layers of noise like strata in rock formations- its all quite psychedelic and (in a good way) messy, head spinning sounds with a foot on the floor. Buy here




Monday, 9 August 2021

Monday Mix

This is an hour's worth of songs and sounds I put together a week ago, got distracted from and went back to yesterday. I'm not sure it's quite right but I'm not unpicking the whole thing now so it's here for what looks like a wet and rainy Monday in August. Find it at Mixcloud

I did think about dropping found sounds from the BBC sound archive all the way though it- a future project perhaps. I'm not sure the Scritti Politti song works where it is either but there's some nice ambient sounds from Sebidus (The Orb's Alex Paterson and Andy Falconer), some Balearic loveliness from Coyote, solo Strummer, Will Sergeant and Les Pattinson as Poltergeist, Dean and Britta doing Kraftwerk, Sonic Boom droning out Sinner DC, some spaced out sounds from Oregon's Lore City, William Orbit at chill level 10 and Mono Life's stunner of a remix of Pearl's Cab Ride from a few years ago. 

  • BBC Sound Archive: Market Sounds
  • BBC Sound Archive: Clock
  • Sedibus: Afterlife Aftershave (edit)
  • Coyote: Café Con Leche
  • Joe Strummer: Mango Street
  • Poltergeist: The Book Of Pleasures
  • Dean and Britta: Neon Lights (Baxter Street Bounce Mix)
  • Sinner DC: The Horizon (Sonic Boom No Drums Version)
  • Lore City: And Tomorrow
  • Scritti Politti: Dr Abernathy
  • William Orbit: The Story Of Light
  • Pearl’s Cab Ride: Sunrise (Mono Life Extended Trip)


Sunday, 8 August 2021

Railton Ruckus

For my money one of the singles of the summer- if not the single of the summer- came out last Friday from Rude Audio, South London's finest post- Balearic/ acid house/ chug outfit. Railton Ruckus is a tribute to heady nights out in Brixton, a four track EP available at Bandcamp. The Original Mix kicks off with a dark, tempting melody line and timbales, a mesmerising groove to soundtrack your night out or night in, a very cool example of how to hit the spot. 

Rude Audio somehow managed to tempt Hugo Nicolson out of remix retirement. Hugo's remix is eight minutes of fun, sections of the original mix pulled out and re-arranged, a wordless vocal line pulled to the fore and a sense of the wide eyed joy and abandon he brought to those early 90s remixes done on his own or with Andrew Weatherall. The loops go round, at times dizzyingly so, circling ever higher/ deeper. Top fun. 


The Bedford Falls Players Remix, stripped down and minimal, builds a kind of languid tension into the track, the timbales bouncing back and forth, bassline chugging, the topline appearing in snatches, a voice echoing in the dark at four minutes, the drums coming in around five minutes and then a slow release through to the end. 


Fourth track in is the Kampong Glam Mix of They're In Our Head, a pulsing, chugging dub disco monster, perfectly pitched for shuffling around to in a basement or when you're cooking tea- and when you get to the end, you just go round to the start, hit play and go though them all again. Like I said, single of the summer. 




Saturday, 7 August 2021

Cool And Deadly

Jean 'Binta' Breeze, Jamaican dub poet and storyteller, died a couple of days ago aged sixty five. Jean's poetry took her around the world, her performances described as 'a one woman festival'. Her 1991 album Tracks was produced by Linton Kwesi Johnson and Dennis Bovell, a proper pair of UK dub/ poetry heavyweights, and opened with this- forty nine seconds of street smart, earthy, Jamaican poetry.


If you're anything like me the first time you'll have heard this poem (or two excerpts from it) will have been on this record also released in 1991 where Andrew Weatherall sampled Jean and sent Saint Etienne and Neil Young to dubbed out splendour. 


''The DJ eases a spliff from his lyrical lips and smilingly orders... 'cease' ''

RIP Jean 'Binta' Breeze


Friday, 6 August 2021

Blood On The Sand

In a discussion earlier this week elsewhere about an Andrew Weatherall radio show from October 2009, I saw the name of the band Ganglians among the tracklist- a list that also contained Science Fiction Dance Party, Magical Ring, Bongos Ikwue And The Groovies, The Britannia Coconut Dancers, Oscar The Punk and Turbo Fruits among more recognisable names such as Moon Duo, Lark, Fever Ray, Lindstrom, The Xx and Patrick Cowley. At the time the show went out on BBC 6 Mix I tried to recreate it by scouring the internet for mp3s. This was no easy feat as Andrew often had songs by artists more obscure than even the furthest corners of the internet but there were times when I could find up to 50% of one of his setlists, download and then burn to CD. 

On this occasion one of the bands he played was Ganglians, a post- punk three piece from Sacramento. Looking at Discogs they released three albums between 2009- and 2011 and nothing since so I'm guessing they've spilt up. Back in the 2009 I found a few mp3s on the net which I downloaded and have largely forgotten about ever since- rediscovering them yesterday was a real blast of the good stuff. The song Andrew played was Blood On The Sand, a vibrant slice of pulsing, garage- surf from California with 60s organ and guitar parts reminiscent of Will Sergeant in the Bunnymen's glory days.

Blood On The Sand

Blood On The Sand was a 7" single released in October 2009 so I suspect Andrew picked it up on a record shopping foray and put it straight into his bag before heading over to the 6 Mix studios. Ganglians debut album also came out in 2009, an album called Monster Head Room on Weird Forest Records. This one, 100 Years from Monster Head Room, has twangy guitars, buckets of reverb and ghostly vox before the band crank it up into grimy, solid gold garage rock. 

100 Years

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Closer

GLOK, the alter ego Andy Bell uses for his dance/ electronic output, have a new album out in October an album called Pattern Recognition. That's the Andy Bell out of Ride not the one out of Erasure (though surely it can only be a matter of time before they collaborate). Ahead of the album comes song number two, following Maintaining The Machine a few weeks ago, a lovely, long cosmic thing with Irish poet Sinead O'Brien on vocals. The new one is called Closer and is further away from his day job with for Ride than ever, pure late 80s acid house with the influence of people like Mr Fingers and A Guy Called Gerald all over it. This version is Closer (To The Edit), written and recorded using nothing but a Roland SH 101, is a shorter version than the one which will eventually come out on the album. Lovely stuff it is too.


Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Walking In The Sun

Two weeks ago I was sitting on the terrace of a pub near Lydney overlooking the River Severn, the sun scorching and the temperature around 30 degrees. This song would have been the perfect accompaniment, a collaboration between Brighton based duo Andres y Xavi and Woodentop Rolo McGinty (on guitars and vox). Walking In The Sun is Balearic AF (to use young people's lingo) and to up the Balearic quotient even further Coyote have remixed it, Coyote's Higher Vibration Mix


Xavi's dub breaks it down even further, all mood and texture with bass pushing gently, fragments of the song appearing and disappearing in the haze. The EP, complete with the original version, James Bright's remix and Xavi's Pianopella mix can be purchased at Bandcamp


Tuesday, 3 August 2021

It's Going To Be A Fine Day Tomorrow

This is a 1992 remix of Orbital's Halcyon, spliced with Opus III's It's A Fine Day by Michael Anderson, both songs I adore, standout songs from the early 90s when dance music seemed awash with possibilities and the promise of being the soundtrack to a new decade/ world. 


Orbital's Halcyon borrowed from Opus III, a backwards piece of vocal from singer Kirsty Hawkshaw (who also starred in the video as a housewife losing it). The song Halcyon was dedicated to the Hartnell brothers' mother who had been addicted to the tranquiliser Halcion for many years, so the video is at least partly her story. The full eleven minutes of Halcyon (On + On) are a peak in Orbital's back catalogue, a back catalogue not exactly short of peaks.  

Halcyon 

Opus III were Kirsty Hawkshaw plus three producers- Ian Munro, Kevin Dodds and Nigel Walton. All also members of Spiral Tribe so their rave/ outsider credentials were second to none. It's A Fine Day was a big hit in 1992, crunching drums, rave keyboards and Kirsty's lighter than air vocal proving irresistible to the record buying public- hypnotic, trancey, loved up but with a slightly off kilter edge. 

It's A Fine Day 

It's A Fine Day's slightly off kilter edge comes perhaps from its origins in early 80s Hulme, part of Manchester just south of the city centre, where the concrete housing development known as the Crescents had been abandoned by the residents and families it had been built for and taken over by a more bohemian set of people. The Crescents were described as 'Europe's worst housing stock' but in the 80s were the home to all sorts of people looking for an alternative place to live. Edward Barton, a Manchester based poet and musician, wrote It's A Fine Day while he lived in Hulme. The song's first recorded appearance was in 1982 on the mini- album Jane And Barton, the words sung by his friend Jane Lancaster- an unsettling piece of acapella. 

It's A Fine Day

Monday, 2 August 2021

Monday's Long Song


Down by the River Wye in Lower Lydbrook where we stayed the week before last you can drop down from the road and head down a side road. We were looking for a footbridge which a map told us crossed the river somewhere near where we were staying (an old railway bridge, a remnant of the area's industrial past). As we headed away from the road we passed this hole in the ground, its cover pulled away. It didn't look very deep but I wasn't keen to put a foot in and find out whether the leaves at the bottom were solid. Following the track to the left we found this, a disused and derelict cable works. Corrugated iron peeling back from the bolts, broken windows, boarded up windows, graffiti, all a bit overgrown.

Walking on past the undergrowth were some steps leading to a door which was swinging open- I'd say swinging invitingly open but I've seen enough films to know that people who go up those stairs and through open doors like that don't tend to come back. 

Walking past two evenings later the door was still open, everything exactly as it was previously. The urge to go up the stairs and at least look through the door was strong but I kept walking. Weirdly I dreamt about this derelict cables works and its door the night before last. Which leads me nicely to this...

This is from a new EP by French artist Margee, led by In My Sleep and Wrong Dream, a pair of sleek, low slung, dancefloor oriented tracks, layers of bass and synths and melodic toplines. Sean Johnston's Hardway Bros turn up on the remix of Wrong Dream, an eleven minute, heavy duty, dubby, glide- by job built around a massive, hypnotic groove, appropriately subtitled Cosmic Intervention

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Tales And Waiting Rooms


David Holmes put in another shift at NTS radio last week, two more hours of song selection in God's Waiting Room. This show doesn't have a tracklist to date and is full of minimal, woozy, small hours music- folk/ psyche- folk vibes, minimal synth, atmospheric ambient stuff. Very nice indeed. It's at Mixcloud here

Five years ago David put together a compilation for the Late Night Tales series, a nineteen song headtrip/ meditation on life and death and all in between, taking in music from Barry Woolnough, Alain Maclain, BP Fallon, The Children Of Sunshine, Hugo Nicolson, plenty of his own music and this 1971 song from David Crosby (from his debut solo album If Only I Could Remember My Name). There's an otherworldly feel to this song and to the whole compilation. Much of the music from the NTS show would fit perfectly on the Late Night Tales compilation. 

Orleans