I'm trying to fend off the clocks going back with a photo from summer (the sea at Cleveleys, north of Blackpool) and some very laid back Balearic vibes from Cantoma. To The Sea is an accordion led four minute lilt that sounds like nothing really matters much at all. Buy it at Bandcamp.
I would very much like it if Cantoma and Eric Cantona joined forces for a song, a Cantoma/ Cantona face off. The Ibizan sounds of Phil Mison and Eric talking about something/ anything would be a joy.
I've been enjoying Dean Wareham's singles, three of them, leading up to the release of his second solo album a couple of weeks ago, the snappily titled I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of LA. Last year Dean and Britta put out a beautiful cover of Neon Lights, one of the standouts from their Quarantine Tapes (recordings the couple made from their home during lockdown). Galaxie 500 and Luna are never that far away from me so an album of Dean Wareham solo songs has come at exactly the right time. This song, Cashing In, is a wry, self deprecating and at times very funny take on where Dean sits in the musical landscape. 'I'm not selling out, I'm cashing in' he sings. In a lot of ways there's nothing here Dean hasn't been doing for over thirty years but he's carved out a space for himself and that's what he does. There's some Michael Rother style guitar leading the way on Cashing In among the familiar nods to Jonathan Richman and The Velvet Underground.
Back in 1989 Galaxie 500's second album, On Fire, was a minor sensation- reverb drenched, hushed, shimmering indie guitar pop that hooked me early on and has never let go. Their cover of New Order's Ceremony is legendary and has been posted here before. Previously, in 1988, there was a single called Tugboat. Tugboat is a gorgeous, frazzled, small hours love song (and tribute to Sterling Morrison who quit The Velvet Underground in 1971 to captain tugboats in Houston).
You know when you hear a burst of a song on the TV and then you have to go and play it in full? I was watching an episode of the PBS series The Vietnam War yesterday- it's half term, watching hour long episodes about the Vietnam War in the afternoon is what half terms are made for- and the episode in question was focusing on the first half on 1968 (in brief- the Tet Offensive, perceptions of who won and who lost the Tet Offensive, the execution of a VC suspect in the street by an ARVN general, problems piling up for Lyndon Johnson, the assassination of Martin Luther King, increasing anti- war rallies and protests, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy). At one point, as students fought with the police after occupying Colombia University in New York, this song played for maybe twenty seconds.
I'm Not Like Everybody Else was the B-side (the B- side!) to Sunny Afternoon, written by Ray Davies but sung by brother Dave, a snarly, defiant act of non- conformity, a celebration of outsider status. Dave's guitar sounds wonderful, crunchy and fuzzy, and the song is a superb three minutes twenty three seconds of 1966 bottled. The A- side isn't bad either...
Sunny Afternoon shows Ray's music hall roots, the descending piano part straight from the pre- rock 'n' roll era, the lyrics all superstar ennui and complaints about paying tax (Ray's writing in character but he himself is in there too I think).
I watched a documentary about The Kinks a while ago. Their singles from 1964- 1968, songs like You Really Got Me, All Day And All Of The Night, Tired Of Waiting For You, Set Me Free, See My Friends, Sunny Afternoon, Dead End Street, Waterloo Sunset and Days are as good as anybody else's from the period, if not better. In the documentary they spent a lot of time focussing on The Village Green Appreciation Society, released in 1969, an album I've not really ever clicked with. It's funny (funny peculiar) that even in the heat of the mid- to- late 60s with all that forward momentum that music was providing Ray Davies was pining for a world that for him vanished, lamenting the loss of the London of his childhood and writing nostalgic songs about village greens and steam trains.
Felt's ten singles and ten albums recorded in the 1980s are one of the independent scene's great treasure troves and their 1987 compilation album Gold Mine Trash is a brilliant introduction/ primer/ celebration rounding up their most sparkling songs- Primitive Painters, Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow and Penelope Tree are three of defining songs from that entire indie world.
On Vasco Da Gama guitarist Maurice Deebank shows why he was one of the most under- appreciated guitarists of the period, his extended playing spiralling round and on. Deebank is heavily influenced by Tom Verlaine I should think (and has definitely heard Marquee Moon) but in a scene that celebrated amateurism and shambolic bands- and rightly so, it was what it was all about- his playing stands out a mile. It's not a solo, there's nothing so 'rockist' about it, it's more at the Vini Reilly end of guitar heroics. Meanwhile Lawrence sings of villainy, despair, honesty, searches and blame.
Vasco Da Gama was a 15th century Portuguese explorer, the first European to reach India by sea. His actions and use of violence are widely documented and make for shocking reading all these centuries later. He opened the door for western colonialism in Asia and globally. That's quite a legacy.
Vasco Da Gama is also an area of Rio de Janeiro. The sporting club based there was founded by Portuguese immigrants and includes the legendary Vasco da Gama football team, who began in the 1920s as one that was racially diverse, cocking a snook to the elites in Brazilian football who didn't want black or mixed race players in their league. They refused to comply with a ban and led to the formation of a racially mixed league and became the first team to win the league with black players. That's quite a legacy too.
Rheinzand's new single appeared at the end of last week, the first taste of their second album. We'll Be Alright is a perfect slice of mellow, optimistic pop, drenched in their house/ disco/ dub production with a bubbly 60s bassline and a sitar solo- what else could you ask for? The first play left me a little unsure but it's a grower and repeated plays bring repeated rewards. Lovely sounds hitting all the right notes, We'll Be Alright is a dancefloor gem and has arrived at the exact point where autumn looks beautiful, the trees a riot of greens turning to oranges, bronzes and reds (just before we get plunged into the gloom of November).
This is one of the most euphoric, everything- and- the- kitchen- sink remixes Andrew Weatherall produced during the last decade (and I'm shocked to find out on checking it was from as long ago as 2013). Another Perfect Life is a stunning, soaring, ecstatic sounding eight and a half minutes, Weatherall reshaping Moby and Wayne Coyne into something new. And while the lyrics appear to be about a junkie and hence the perfect life is actually an opiated delusion, it's as good a tune as any for today.
Today is my wife's 50th birthday and obviously that's the kind of milestone you can't miss. We will be having a slightly scaled down Covid friendly birthday (due to Isaac's ongoing immune system and vulnerability issues) but there are a week of activities ahead and today we will do presents, cake, balloons, a night away and everybody loves you. Happy birthday.
Back when we first met in 1994 we spent a lot of time clubbing. Big Time Sensuality by Bjork was one of our tunes, a heady, euphoric ode to the weekend, to dancing, to joy and being alive- 'I don't know my future after this weekend/ And I don't want to!' The video, filmed on the back of a flatbed truck in New York is so of the time too and what Bjork's clothes always remind me of Lou then.
Of all the mixes and versions available I think this is the killer, Fluke absolutely getting everything exactly right.
An album called Post Mortal wended its way to me from Greenville, North Carolina recently, the work of The Broken Cradle (Eric McLean to his family and friends). Post Mortal is ambient/ neo classical music, ten instrumental tracks with drones, gentle noise, found sounds, static, some piano and those warm keening, drifting sounds. Eric's influences- Nils Frahm, Brian Eno, Alessandro Cortini, Philip Glass- will give you some idea what to expect and all those words we use to describe this kind of music- reflective, meditative, contemplative, textural- are accurate. It's not intended to be melancholic but will hit those spots if you're feeling that way. Post Mortal, inspired by impermanence and mortality, is actually about being here and now. Lovely stuff, done really well and very autumnal. Opener Eulogy sets the tone/ tones. The album isn't out until early December but you can pre- order and get some of it in advance here.
Chris Carter's remix of Daniel Avery's Lone Swordsman came out on 10" vinyl two weeks ago, a beautifully crafted slow mo reworking of the original with Daniel's melody line peaking through, set against a dreamy ambient/ techno murk. There's a distinctly otherworldly feel to it, a five minute taste of a future that never quite happened. Get it here.
Last year Justin Robertson and Sofia Hedblom released two songs as Formerlover, self styled 'sleaze dub enthusiasts'. The first Correction Dub came out on a compilation for Viscera- rattling percussion, dub bass, some phased guitar chords and Sofia in dominatrix mode on vocals, giving instructions and making threats and promises, 'tell me all about your inner feelings... write to me about your mama... tell me how you wanna sing my name... would you like to know me better? I said, would you like to know me better?... I'd like to lick your soul'
The follow up, Discomfort, came out last September. If anything Discomfort was even better than Correction, a perfect fusion of bass from Jamaica, rhythms from Nigeria, guitar from 60s surfers in California and slide guitar from the Deep South, all seemingly inspired by late evening strolls down Venice Beach. More psychodrama/ longing and unrequited sexual stuff from Sofia's subconscious spoken on top. Get Discomfort and the dub version at Bandcamp.
Justin Robertson has made a ton of music as Deadstock 33s, two albums and plenty of singles and remixes. Numerical Discord Swap came out in 2017, a limited 7" single with buckets of acid house energy, juddering bass and bleeps and loads of bounce.
This clip came up on the ever- excellent @Birmingham_ 81 Twitter account yesterday, a birthday post for Norman Blake. Teenage Fanclub, on the way up, performing Everything Flows live caught by Snub TV's cameras in December 1990. Just watch this...
I mean, wow! Mayhem. Noise. Songs. Guitars. Drums. Kids losing it. Out of key vocals. Gloriously sloppy. Absolutely life affirming stuff isn't it?
Everything Flows is one of their best songs, a 1991 single and on the Fannies debut album A Catholic Education. It's got everything that made them sound so good- a group in love with the sound they're making, a yearning and slightly melancholic edge, loose harmonies, feedback. The recorded version is more controlled than the live one above but still seems to be at the edge of their capabilities (in the best way).
The Top Of The Pops repeats on BBC4 have recently been flying through September 1991, a run of episodes where if we ignore Bryan Adams and his Robin Hood song (more a war crime than a single), Prince's single entendre Cream (chorus 'cream... get on top') and The Scorpions and their fall of the Berlin wall 'tribute' Winds Of Change it was wall to wall dance music, the rave dream come true, the long tail of what started in 1987/ 88 forcing its way into the charts and selling in huge quantities. Some of these singles were pop music dressed in dance music's clothes but they were rave/ dance music nonetheless. In some ways the episodes reminded me of those classic 60s pop music programmes where you got hit after hit - Hermann's Hermits, Sonny and Cher, The Animals, The Stones doing Get Of My Cloud, The Equals and whoever else had a single out that week. In September 1991 there was Sabrina Johnston doing Peace,(American soul/ dance music) and Rozalla's Everybody's Free, a song which the holiday makers in the Med bought on returning home from their two weeks in the sun. The Prodigy were making their first appearance with Charly. Oceanic were from Wallasey and their song Insanity was enormous, rave/ dance music for the masses (and nothing wrong with that). Super upbeat, bouncing rave pop with huge key changes.
More credible and authentic maybe were Utah Saints, a Leeds duo who came up through the clubs, booking all the big late 80s/ early 90s names and who moved into making records, sampling left, right and centre. Bill Drummond reckoned they were the first true stadium house band. In 1991 What Can You Do For Me?, sampling Gwen Guthrie and Annie Lennox, went top ten . They understood that dance music needed to be presented live and armed with banks of TV screens, a dreadlocked bassist pushed front and centre, a drummer and bags of energy they pulled it off.
Bizarre Inc were from Stafford and in 1991 had a hit with the brilliant Playing With Knives. By September they were back in the big sellers and back on Top Of The Pops with Such A Good Feeling. More TV screens, dancers dancing on top of banks of TV screens, full on pilled up chart music, piano house and techno from the north Midlands, a place where the clubs were full every weekend.
I don't have What Can You Do For Me? in mp3 form, despite its speaker shaking brilliance, but here's Playing With Knives, rave hoover bass, kick drums and the instruction 'just dance and move your body'.
Less frenetic but just as much a child of the acid house revolution was Zoe's dreamy, optimistic, Balearic pop, Sunshine On A Rainy Day (the metal guitarist, all frilly shirt and long hair is well Balearic). It reached number four in the charts and sold enough to be the eighteenth best selling single of the year.
It's easy to sneer at Top Of The Pops and the charts but in the late 80s and early 90s it felt like change was taking place and the previously comfortable environs of the BBC, all 80s pop and megastars, were being invaded by a bunch of outsiders making music in their bedrooms and feeding it into the culture through the clubs and radio stations, blaring out of cars late at night and bedroom windows. Big selling music isn't necessarily better or worse than underground music but the charts of September 1991 looked like a complete shift, a sea change was taking place (and that's without even mentioning the guitar bands that had discovered the Funky Drummer and remixes at the same time). In some ways the 90s was born here.
It takes a special kind of genius to cover a song and completely reinterpret it and produce a version that is the equal of the original. In 1998 Luke Haines' post- Auteurs group Black Box Recorder achieved this with their cover of Althea and Donna's 1978 classic Uptown Top Ranking. Haines along with former Mary Chain and Expressway man John Moore and singer Sarah Nixey approached Uptown Top Ranking on their album England Made Me, the usual Haines mix of sardonic songs, shocking/ funny lines/ song titles and a take on modern life inspired by the 1970s. Songs on the album included Girl Singing In The Wreckage and Kidnapping An Heiress, typically Luke Haines song titles. Uptown Top Ranking was one of those one off hits of the 70s, a massive playground song as well as being genuine roots reggae from two Jamaican teenagers and a legendary producer (Joe Gibbs). Slipping a cover of it onto an album called England Made Me is as Luke Haines as it gets.
Haines and Moore created a mechanical, strictly non- reggae backing track, stripped of feeling and off beat rhythms, led by a horn blast and an occasional piano melody line. Over this they got Sarah Nixey to recite the words. According to Luke she didn't know the song and they wrote the words out in Jamaican patois, phonetically. To add to the performance Nixey had a hangover. The vocals are so detached and devoid of life, so completely glassy eyed that they almost become meaningless, the absolute opposite the total celebration of youth and being young in the original. But Sarah's deadpan delivery of the lines works, lines such as 'see me in me heels an' ting', 'see me in me 'alter back', 'love is all I bring in me khaki suit an' ting' and 'gimme little bass make me wine up me waist' transformed by a haughty English accent looking down her nose at you as she sings them.
The original version with Joe Gibbs at the controls had Althea and Donna, seventeen and eighteen years old, ad- libbing Trinity's Three Piece Suit over a 1967 Alton Ellis song, I'm Still In Love. Although Gibbs saw it as a bit of a joke, there's no doubting the authenticity Althea and Donna bring to their vocals and performance. 'Nah pop no style, we strictly roots'.
More Glok- I make no apologies for revisiting Glok so quickly after a post less than a week ago. Andy Bell (as Glok) released Pattern Recognition digitally on Friday with the vinyl to follow in January. You've got to be feeling pretty confident and riding the crest of a wave to open your album with a twenty minute long, entirely instrumental track. Dirty Hugs, three seconds shy of twenty minutes, is a sublime piece of kosmische music, synths and drum machines locked in, a guitar line surfing on top, perfectly capturing a feeling of escape. It's all very blissed out and cosmic until at nine minutes in there's a pause and then a skronked out, overdriven Spacemen 3 guitar riff bursts in to take the reins for the second half of the song. The layered, driving, pulsing, distorted beauty of the next ten minutes is a trip in itself. Genuinely breathtaking and jaw dropping stuff. Buy Dirty Hugs and the rest of the album at Bandcamp.
I submitted another mix to Tak Tent Radio, an eclectic and broadminded internet radio station broadcasting out of Scotland. It went live yesterday. You can find it at Tak Tent and at Mixcloud. No irritating DJs talking over the intros, no cutting away for the travel news or adverts, no playlist songs you don't like but they have to play anyway, just an hour of songs from my record collection/ hard drive. I don't think there are many surprises in the tracklist, it's the usual sort of stuff I've been writing about here but collected into one hour long mix.
Tak Tent Four
Durutti Column: Sketch For Dawn I
Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood: The Crescent
David Holmes and Steve Jones: The Reiki Healer From County
Reinhard Vanbergen and Reinhard Roelandt: Amber Amplifier
Steve Cobby: 45ft Tide
Nick Drake: Rider On The Wheel
Saint Etienne: Little K
One Dove: Breakdown (Squire Black Dove Rides Out)
David Holmes: Theme/ I.M.C.
A Mountain Of One: Custards Last Stand
10:40 Kissed Again
Ry Cooder: Cancion Mixteca (Paris Texas Soundtrack)
The Lucid Dream had a new album out earlier this year, a customarily vibrant sonic attack, guitars and synths and drums all turned up loud. From Carlisle, they started out very much as a guitar based psyche- rock group and have shifted into dancier territory. The album, The Deep End, is well worth your time and attention, full on, experimental grooves with tunes attached. Lead single CHI- 03 begins with chanting crowds and hip hop drums before bringing the noise, riding along on a huge bassline.
Ten years ago they released Devil Rides Out, a song Richard Norris' Time And Space Machine remixed, one psychedelic pioneer twisting another. This is actually what the 60s garage bands and freakbeat groups would sound like if they were time warped from 1967 into 2011- insistent, snarling, juddering psychedelic adventures.
We watched The Graduate last weekend, the first time I've seen it for many years- it's still a brilliant film I think but it made for discomforting viewing in ways it didn't when I first watched it in the late 80s. Seen through 2021 eyes (and a fifty one year old eyes as well) the seducing of Ben by Mrs Robinson at a party to celebrate him graduating is less seduction and more grooming. Ben's post- college malaise, aimlessness and fear of adulthood was very familiar to me when I first saw the film but his behaviour becomes increasingly extreme as the film goes on and his treatment of Elaine, the Robinson's daughter seems much crueler now. His later and sudden obsession with her also seems much odder now than it did then- Ben's descent coming across more and more like a breakdown, mental health issues surfacing rather than the whims of a young man. At the centre of the film is the empty lie at the heart of the suburban American dream, the existential crisis of people who have it all but have nothing. Mrs Robinson is bored, listless, trapped by manners and society in a marriage she never wanted but ended up in because of a teenage pregnancy. Ben is adrift, literally for much of film, floating round his parents' pool on a lilo. The only place he seems content is at the bottom of the pool in the scuba diving gear, well away from his parents, their friends and an endless round of congratulatory parties. Mr Robinson plays golf and drinks. Ben and Mrs Robinson's relationship (if that's what it is, regular sex in a hotel filling the hole in both their lives) is destroyed when Ben says he wants to talk before they have sex. The conversation throws it wide open and leads to Ben telling Elaine and everything unravelling. When the action shifts to Berkeley and Ben pursues Elaine the film becomes increasingly dark. It's difficult to have much sympathy for Ben at this point- in 1989 I'm sure it was Ben I was supposed to identify with but it's not easy to sympathise or empathise with him very much now. Dustin Hoffman makes him become pretty unlikeable in ways I hadn't really noticed before. Mrs Robinson, crushed by the affair becoming common knowledge, becomes less sympathetic too. Elaine is the most sympathetic character, about to married to a college boyfriend solely to keep her away from Ben. The closing shot of them on the bus chased by Elaine's family is superb, the sinking realisation on both their faces that what they've just done might not be the answer to either of their problems.
The Graduate was released in 1967, the central year of the 60s, and is at least partly about a generation gap- Ben's behaviour and attitudes and those of his parents in stark contrast. Ben and Elaine question their parent's values -get married, get a good job, settle down, get a car and a house. Mrs Robinson is questioning those values too. Conformity and acquisition lead to deadening boredom. The youth feel confused and lost. These aren't specific to the 60s, they're universal (at least in the modern world). Ben's generation are now in their seventies, the Boomers, many of them comfortable and well off in their retirement. It's a clever and witty film, sly in places and seems to be about a rite of passage, but some of it's central themes came through quite differently watched in 2021.
It was well worth watching again. The cinematography is brilliant, suburban California captured in mid- 60s technicolour, the enormous houses and swimming pools, the blues really blue and the greens really green. The soundtrack is, it goes without saying, superb. It's a record that has been part of my life since childhood. My mum had a copy and its cover, Ben in the hotel room and Mrs Robinson's stockinged foot sticking out provocatively, was always near the front of her records. Simon and Garfunkel's songs are not just playing with the film, they are woven into it, as central to it as any of the cast. The Sound Of Silence is as bleak as any folk music made during the 60s, the harmonies and reverb unable to distract from the 1960s- the problems caused by lack of communication, the apathy generated by consumer society, neon gods and darkness. Strawberry Fair/ Canticle is another song that's always been there, not least because in the late 80s The Stone Roses turned into a song about getting rid of the Queen. And then there's Mrs Robinson...
Mrs Robinson was re- written for the film after Simon presented it to director Mike Nichols but began life as Mrs Roosevelt, a former First Lady who worked tirelessly for others and rarely did anything for herself. The famous Joe DiMaggio line appeared out of nowhere according to Paul Simon, a moment of inspiration.
The Lemonheads cover version from 1992 is an oddity, a minor hit that sounds like the band tossed it off in an afternoon, a punk- ish cover that the record company hoped would recoup some money/ smash the charts. Evan Dando reportedly hates it- so apparently does Paul Simon.
We were walking in Trafford Park last weekend (the world's first industrial park and still the largest in Europe fact fans!). On the side wall of an enormous grain refinery were these patches of green paint, a cover up job for some graffiti. The green on green (not matching in the slightest really), the drips running down the wall and random block shapes, plus the incorporation of brickwork and the fire hydrant sign really caught my eye- this is art isn't it? Accidental art or ambient art or industrial art maybe. I could see them being printed up as postcards or onto t- shirts, canvasses and tote bags.
We haven't had any Four Tet here for a while so here's a gorgeous piece of green ambient- turning- into- electronica to go with the photos, a track from last year's 16 Oceans album. Nature sounds, washes of found sounds and then one of those skittering melodies he's so good at, music that shimmers and dances about.
One of my friends I play football with has a son who's just left university and spent the summer doing what twenty one years old should- holidays, dossing about, going to festivals. He played football with us too, filling in when sundry middle aged men couldn't make it due to commitments or injury or old age. He came back from one festival Lost Village, a festival that looks like its run and organised as festivals should be- smallish, low key, leftfield artists, mix of ages, funny stages and tents hidden in forests and woods. I asked him who he'd seen and whether he'd caught Daniel Avery (who I knew was playing there). He had and also said he'd seen someone called Four Tet headlining in the tent- the clips he showed me on his phone looked amazing, a chilled but enthusiastic crowd and Kieron Hebden raising the roof. I've just discovered his set, all two hours of it is on Soundcloud here and Youtube here.
Jesse Fahnestock's 10:40 keeps up the high hit rate with Sleepwalker, a gently psychedelic, pulsing piece of music, slipping into a sweet spot where the trippier late 80s indie groups, Motorik rhythms and blissed out electronics overlap. Guitars are by UFO Club's Ben Lewis and beamed in vocals are from The Weather Band's David Rosenheim. The arrival of the throbbing, wobbly synthline at sixteen seconds and then a second a little later raises the pulse rate and then the guitars dapple their way in, like bright sunshine through thick tree cover, all light and shade. Lovely stuff. Six minutes long and it could go on longer without outstaying its welcome.
I used to sleepwalk a lot when I was a kid. On one occasion I ended up fully asleep but wedged in behind a wardrobe (I vaguely remember dreaming about being in a tunnel) and having to be rescued by my dad. Another time I got fully dressed in the early hours and was about to go out to do my paper round several hours too early and still fast asleep. Disconcerting. Thankfully I grew out out of it although talking in my sleep continued into adulthood. I noticed recently my wife has begun sleep swearing, occasionally muttering 'for fuck's sake' as she rolls over or switches sides. Make of that what you will.
The two other 10:40 songs on the EP are both worthy of your attention too. Neighbours (Dub) isn't a cover of the Australian soap theme tune, more's the pity, but a slinky instrumental and there's a very laid back Spacemen 3 edit, Let Me Down Gently- which does exactly that. Buy it at Bandcamp, a pay what you want deal.
On Sunday I posted David Holmes' set for Brother Joseph's Sonic Treasures, a radio station beaming delights out of Glasgow. October's show opened with a ninety minute mix from Glok (Andy Bell, guitarist and singer from Ride and more recently a solo artist responsible for some of the best songs of the last couple of years). Glok is a sleek, kosmische, synth based outlet for Andy's music. The first Glok album- Dissident- came out in 2019 and the follow up called Pattern Recognition is due this year (currently another victim of the crisis affecting vinyl pressing plants). Andy's mix for Sonic Treasures is a perfect way into the Glok world, gliding between several Glok tracks (Day Three, Invocation, Kolokol, Closer, Pulsing), Andy's Indica (remixed by Pye Corner Audio and then remixed by Glok- yes, Andy remixing a remix of himself), his Glok remix of Hermann Kristofersson from earlier this year, an unreleased Andy Bell song called Drone, some sublime ambient techno courtesy of The Primitive Painter, Freur's Doot- Doot (proto- Underworld from 1983), Roisin Murphy, Sensate Focus and Porter Ricks. It's a lovely trip, chilled and hypnotic. Find it at Soundcloud.
Glok's return with Pattern Recognition was led back in March with the release of That Time Of Night, a warm, throbbing synths and electronic shimmer, the voice of Shiarra celebrating the collective experience of losing yourself in the crowd and on the floor- 'in the heat and the light and the flashing/ Being a small part of the whole crowd of people'. The version below is an edit, the full length one is nine minutes long and together with a Darren Emerson remix can be gotten here.
The entire six hour broadcast of Brother Joseph's Sonic Treasures for October- Glok, Joseph, Stephen Haldane and David Holmes- can be found at Soundcloud, handily chunked into seven sections.
Dr Alex Paterson has been making music at a rate of knots in recent years and has more to come (an album as OSS is due in November). They all- The Orb, OSS, Sedibus OSS- have plenty in common sonically and quite a bit of overlap in terms of sounds and samples but each has its own identity too, a sense of distinctness. His album with Paul Conboy as Chocolate Hills (A Pail Of Air from 2019) resurfaced recently and soundtracked a commute or two last week. Opening track Rehip is nine minutes of ambient sounds, slide guitar, bubbling noises and some very English voices. It becomes less gentle and more unsettling in the second half, noise and vague menace taking over for a while before the warmer synths recur for the last two minutes.
Brother Joseph broadcasts a radio show out of Glasgow, Sonic Treasures, a feast of mixes from guests and a regular slot from Stephen Haldane (a man who knows his musical onions, spinning anything from far out psyche country to dizzying dub). In the past Sonic Treasures has hosted guest mixes from the likes of Jagz Kooner, Justin Robertson, Nina Walsh, David Harrow and Alex Knight and recently a beautiful, psyched out, shapeshifting mix from Sonic Boom. Last weekend Brother Joseph secured a sublime triple bill in the form of Andy Bell (in his Glok guise), Haldane's half hour and closing the six hour show David Holmes.
Holmes' mix is ninety minutes of headspinning, transporting delights- long, repetitive kosmische, slices of psychedelic abandon, weird and wonderful turns and several versions of Holmes' recent single Hope Is The Last Thing To Die (including remixes by Die Hexen and Daniel Avery) along with Love Is A Mystery, another song by David and singer Raven due out on Golden Lion Sounds whenever the vinyl pressing backlog clears. David's mix a total joy, an entrancing, hypnotic and forward thinking hour and a half, completely in the audio and spiritual area that used to be occupied by Andrew Weatherall- further proof if it were needed that Mr Holmes is one of our brightest talents (and has been since the early 90s). You can listen at Soundcloud.
This also gives me the perfect excuse to repost Hope Is The Last Thing To Die. I posted it recently but then the video hadn't been released, a video that makes abundantly clear the call for change in the song- personal change and political change. It's on you/ us.
David and Raven's single has been reverberating round my head and listening devices constantly over the last couple of weeks. Single of the year? Possibly.
The Glok/ Andy Bell section of Brother Joseph's Sonic Treasures is a thing of wonder in itself and thus deserves its own post. Rather than tack it on the end of this post and risk over-facing you I'm going to return to it in a few days time. David Holmes' sonic treasures are more than enough to be going on with.
San Pedro's 80s punk heroes Minutemen burst back into my musical life last night, their song The Anchor suddenly appearing in my mind in response to a post at New Amusements. Then suddenly I was down a Youtube wormhole of Minutemen songs, D. Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley delivering short sharp bursts of politics and life over an urgent, super taut punk and post- punk musical bedrock. The Anchor, Little Man With A Gun In His Hand, History Lesson Pt. 2 and I Felt Like A Gringo all flew by in a matter of minutes. I was going to post any or all of those but on checking I've posted all those songs before so instead went for this...
From their 1984 opus Double Nickels On The Dime, The Glory Of Man is trebly, funky guitars, rock solid bass playing, rattling drums and lyrics apparently inspired by James Joyce and Ulysses. Mike Watt sets out his stall with a startling first few lines- 'Starting with the affirmation of man/ I work my self backwards using cynicism/ The time monitor the space measurer...'
Two years earlier in July 1982 they recorded their second album in one evening, What Makes A Man Start Fires. It opens with this song...
Blisteringly fast and over in a minute and a half, Watt works out that writing political songs is fine, even if they veer towards sloganeering, because Bob Dylan wrote propaganda songs so why shouldn't he? They just took the thoughts that occurred to them or came up in conversation and then turned them into songs.
Watt and Boon had played together since school and worked out not just a way to play together musically but a philosophically too. Boon believed that the guitar shouldn't 'bogart the bass', that the guitarist should stay away from the lower frequencies and that each player should have his own realm. Watt's baas playing pushes so many of their songs along, the signature and the foundation of their songs. D. Boon plays fast and trebly, spindly and dynamic, the two instruments locking into each other and dancing around each other. Both men wrote and sang. They toured endlessly using their touring philosophy 'we jam econo'. Play as many gigs as you can when on the road ('if you're not playing you're paying' was another Minutemen buzz phrase), load and unload your own gear, sleep on other bands' floors, build a network of like minded souls in disparate towns. An inspirational band from a time when these things really mattered.
Pat Fish, the singer/ songwriter/ musician/ gentleman died suddenly this week aged sixty- four. He was best known as The Jazz Butcher and in the eighties and early nineties recorded seven albums for Creation records, which is where I first heard him. I think my first Jazz Butcher song might have been Lot 49 which was included on the legendary budget Creation compilation Doing It For The Kids. Lot 49 is breakneck, literate indie pop, guitars played at amphetamine pace, with the only pause coming for the line 'you make me want to carry on'.
In 1990, fired up by the times and the technology and recording as J.B.C. Pat recorded an acid house cover version of The Rolling Stones '67 single We Love You. It's one of my favourite singles of that time, a huge sounding record with crunchy drums, acid squiggles firing on all cylinders, synths and samplers and a vocal line pinched from a Tears For Fears song that skewers the period instantly- 'DJs the man you love most'.
There were many tributes to Pat in certain corners of the internet yesterday. He comes across as one of life's good guys, a genuine person, good friend to many and loved by those who knew him as well as a fine writer and musician.
There are plenty of longform mixes to be listened to at the moment. This one is a previously uncirculated seventy minutes of Andrew Weatherall on a dub tip in Japan. In October 2000 Andrew was in Osaka along with Adrian Sherwood and Dry And Heavy. The set takes in Spectres by Gentleman Theif (see below), the skanking horns, bass and heavy whiff of smoke of Haile Unlikely by Steel leg & The Electric Dread, A Certain Ratio, Jah Warrior, a brain frying remix of a Jah Wobble and The Invaders Of The Heart, Holger Czukay's How Much Are They and Looks Like We're Shy One Horse by Colourbox (both fixtures in Andrew's record box), Jack Ruby All Stars and Butch Cassidy Sound System.
Heavy hitting dub sounds, echo bouncing around, drop outs dropping out, horns floating in and out again, masses of bass and propulsive rhythms, this is very much a case of dub is where you find it- Andrew's ability to play a set, to select the records and make work them together, to construct the ebb and flow of a set and to make it seem effortless (when in fact it was the result of many hours of work and practice), was second to none. Find it at Mixcloud (courtesy of Rude Audio's Mark Ratcliff).
This is the opening track from Osaka Dub, Spectres by Gentleman Thief, a long and driving, almost gothic dub, exhilarating stuff with all sorts of echo and noises laid over the top of the rhythm- ideal for driving long distances to late at night.
If you subscribe to Richard Norris' monthly Bandcamp deal you'll have received a CD through the post recently, a limited edition five track EP release from The Time And Space Machine, a solo project that sounds like a band from the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Good Morning is slow motion, late 60s, sunrise psychedelia with sitars, shakers, a 3 string cigar box guitar and Richard singing 'Good morning/ Time to face the day...'.
As well as Good Morning, the EP has remixes from Leftside Wobble, Saint Etienne and Coyote, all dating from 2012 or thereabouts. Coyote aim for a Balearic sunrise, less San Francisco in '69 more Ibiza in '91. Leftside Wobble go for a beat driven remix, propelled by an enormous bassline and ecstatic synths. For their remix Saint Etienne add a clubby rhythm track and loops, a piano line and what sounds like Sarah Cracknell adding a vocal part, sounding like she's just woken up. Time to face the day.
Back to November 1984 today and a slice of glistening indie- pop from The Cocteau Twins. All those words and phrases the press used to describe their music- ethereal, dreampop, sonic cathedrals, angelic voices, diaphanous- are all cliches but also all very close to the mark. Shards of crystalline, heavily delayed guitar, a massively reverbed drum machine and Liz's stellar vocals are all present, front and centre.
Lorelei was on Treasure, an album that the press raved about and was bought in large quantities- at the time it was 4AD's best selling record. The band hated it, Robin Guthrie calling it a product of an 'arty farty pre- Raphaelite' period he felt they got pushed into and Simon Raymonde their 'worst album by a mile'. But what do bands know? Listening to Treasure now and Lorelei specifically it sounds pretty wondrous. Like many of their 80s records it's a romantic and impressionistic, three people conjuring up something distinct and unique.
The existential dread of Monday morning is a difficult thing to beat. Sunday evenings are overcast by it. Waking up to the alarm in the dark with that crushing sense of inevitability. Makes me long for the days of July and sitting on holiday in the Wye Valley overlooking the river. David Harrow, dub and experimental sounds as standard after service spent in the On U Sound band, recently dragged his modular synth set up down to Ocean View Park in Santa Monica and played on a blanket on the grass.
Modular synths will always sound like the soundtrack to 1970s sci fi, late night horror, the Radiophonic Workshop and weird post- punk singles. The music David makes in the September Californian sunshine refashions those sounds into something else, a different soundtrack in a different context. You can buy Ocean View Park, all twenty four minutes of it, at his Bandcamp page for one US dollar.
Don Letts has compiled an album for the Late Night Tales series, a twenty one track dub excursion that pulls together all sorts of strands, strains and offshoots of dub, punk and post punk. Among the highlights are a bunch of cover versions. Capitol 1212 and Earl Sixteen cover Love Will Tear Us Apart, a dubbed out version of the song with a cool vocal and buckets of echo.
Wrongtown Meets The Rockers deconstruct The Clash's Lost In The Supermarket, bassline and FX, a snatch of melodica carrying the topline. The Easy Star All Stars break out the sitars for a very stoned version of Within You Without You. Gaudi and The Rebel Dread tackle Big Audio Dynamite's E=MC2, samples from Performance and a mangled, cut up vocal while the bassline prods and pushes Don's old band's song along.
Black Box Recorder's cover of Uptown Top Ranking, a Prince Fatty cover of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit (becoming Black Rabbit), Zoe Devlin Love's lovers rock take of The Beach Boys Caroline No and Yasushi Ide's version of Ain't No Sunshine further blur the boundaries, drawing wobbly lines between then and now. Matumbi and Dennis Bovell, Ghetto Priest, John Holt and Mad Professor all show up. None of this feels like a novelty or a joke, it's all part of a much greater whole, a celebration of the culture that has seeped from radios and Dansettes in the 60s and 70s to whatever device or platform you're using to listen to music at the tail end of 2021.
Bandcamp Friday happened again yesterday, a Friday once a month where Bandcamp waive their fees and the artist gets more of the money. As a result the consumer/ music lover gets bombarded with emails from artists they've previously bought music from, all offering new material. In the case of Pye Corner Audio (Martin Jenkins to his mum) a one man music making machine delving deeper and deeper into some crossover between hauntology, rave and industrial, tapping into energy streams located in the British nether lands. His monthly releases last year were uniformly excellent and always interesting. His latest offering is in two parts, drum machines and synths and sequencers combining to construct off kilter rhythms and queasy melodies and unexpected moments. And who could resist music titled Fictional Drilling? Not me. Get Fictional Drilling Part One and Part Two here. Name your own price.
Here is Pye Corner Audio captured performing live, forty eight minutes of the dark stuff.
I took this photo outside the front of work on Tuesday night, late September skies in north west England. It took me by surprise a little- it had bene a wet, grey day and suddenly this light show was going on in front of us. It also made me think of how people in the Middle Ages must have been convinced of the existence of a god who resided in the clouds when huge streaks of heavenly light burst through the clouds like this.
Back in 2000, twenty one years ago, singer/ cellist Isobel Campbell branched out from Belle And Sebastian and recorded as The Gentle Waves. This song came on a four track EP called Falling From Grace, a single to support her album Swansong For You. October's Sky is a bit under three minutes long and comes in quickly with a descending piano part and a cacophonous brass/ woodwind riff that jars at first but soon becomes hypnotic. Isobel sings softly on top- all very left of centre 60s pop/ exotica territory and none the worse for it.