Espers, Espers II (Wichita)
Enjoyed this quite a bit until I saw the press photo of the band in some woodland grove, arrayed around a tree’s roots and trunk and long low-hanging branches, looking suspiciously like the ISB Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter cover; so it's now obscurely marred for me (cf that wooden wand as john & Beverley/stormbringer cover), scented with the odor of anechronosis (please note new spelling).
Various, Serious Times (XL)
This year’s ‘Jamrock”
Squarepusher, Hello Everything (Warp)
Must be going a bit soft, cos I actually er rather enjoyed this; even the pure Amentalist jungle track seemed more a fond homage than a pisstake like like heinous "rinse out feat. MC Twin Tubs" or whatever it was called, the freneticism nicely offset with Aphex-y pensive chords. Not too much jazzbo double-bass and some good well-weird ones I won’t even attempt to describe. Still don’t understand why people go on about him as some mega-groundbreaking genius, though I read some piece where Andre from Outkast was gushing about the Pusher’s next-level-shit-itude, have these people never heard, I dunno, 4 Hero?!?!?!). (For some reason I got sent four copies of the pre-release.)
Kid 606, Pretty Girls Make Raves (Tigerbeat 6)
Surprised by this one 'n'all, the Kid is someone I’d completely… well not forgotten about cos records keep arriving regularly (he’s as prolific as ever) but definitely filed away in the “what were we thinking” folder (which fate has not befallen Blectum BTW, not at all), but this reminded me that he did/does have talent. Again as with that one particularly jungloid Squarepusher track, there’s an element of affectionate pastiche/trip down memorE’s lane to Miguel's revisitations of rave/classic house/vintage techno, except none of it is that blatant or that pegged to specific styles, it’s all jumbled and twisted, and the result is more than entertaining, it’s exhilarating.
The Midnight Circus, “So Divine (Ruff Dub)” (Damaged Goods)
A Paul Kennedy Turn-On. This is one half of Artful Dodger returning to the semi-underground (like he has a choice! well I suppose he could be producing some awful uk pop starlet, maybe thats what the other dodger's doing) and perhaps betokening/instigating/joining some kind of 2step resurgence, except it’s not quite classic 2step, this beat, it’s not slinky and skank-slow, it’s almost like a femme version of breakstep-- blokestep with the bloke-iness removed. Very nice but, c.f. nearly all R&G, it doesn’t have that this-will-go-all-the-way, this-will-conquer-pop, America-too-you-better-believe-it-oh-yeah vibe about it that 2step in its prime had -- erroneously of course, but thats the aura it gave off
Kode 9 and Spaceape, Memories of the Future (Tempa)
Mark Stewart, Learning to Cope with Cowardice (On U)
Various, On U Sound Crash: Slash & Mix by Adrian Sherwood
And I wasn’t especially an On U fan at the time but this mix, crushing something like 96 tunes into an hour, makes me toy with the thought that I might have missed something.
ESG, Come Away with ESG (Soul Jazz)
Desmond Leslie, Music of the Future (Trunk)
The Doors, Perception (the 40th anniversary collection)
Black Devil Disco Club, 28 After (Lo)
I guess this is the hipsterland equivalent of that Platinum Weird record, the fictitious "lost recording"? Or maybe the "it's Richard James and Luke Vibert really" thing is just more disinformation? At a loss to file it under "current releases" or "retro", it's in a category by itself. If I knew or cared more about italodisco I'd probably be able to tell by certain dead give-aways whether it was an archly affectionate homage or the real thing. But it's certainly more entertaining than any of the genuine articles I've so far heard.
Rob Young—Rough Trade (Black Dog Publishing Labels Unlimited series)
Roger Crimlis & Alwyn W. Turner—Cult Rock Posters: Ten Years of Classic Posters from the Glam, Punk and New Wave Era (Billboard Books)
Two lavishly illustrated tomes packed with eye-candy memorabilia, such that you could pore over them for hours and not read more than the captions, but if you did that then you’d miss the incisive text. The Crimlis & Turner one could be the Bible of K-punk, although extending the narrative arc into Goth would have made sense, following a crucial tangent from glam; there’s much more than billboard posters for tours and albums here, there’s advertising spreads from the music papers and tickets and concert programmes and rare pull-outs from popsploitation mags and album inserts and and and… Rob Young’s RT history has record sleeves galore plus badges and rare photos and even postcards from band members on tour; the account concentrates on the years when RT in its dowdy way also had a kind of “glamour”, intellectual/radical/this-is-the-nerve-centre-the-culture-power-spot glamour, ie. the postpunk years, but follows the label’s arc through its confused Eighties of trying to spar with the corporate big boys/break the Smiths as big as they deserved/Morrissey demanded, etc, through the calamitous crash and then the label’s unexpected resurrection this decade as the Strokes/Libertines/Fiery Furnaces/Arcade Fire-toting powerhouse it is. Plus Mercury nominee Scritti making a nice circle in time back to 4 A-Sides.
Juana Molina, Son (Domino)
An Impostume Turn On. Indeed he gives a much better description of it than I can muster here.Oddly yet aptly–given Impostume’s infamous coinage– it’s got quite a Wyatt-y feel in places, at times reminding me of the more woogly-vocalled stuff on the Matching Mole albums – in particular ‘un beso llega’ reminds me of ‘instant kitten’ or do I mean ‘instant pussy’, not sure, either way, they’re both gorgeous melted-and-oozy scat-vocalese
excursions, and there’s something of that gaseous quality to the way Molina’s voice drifts and settles, winding itself around the equally perfumed-foggy banks of synth and otherwise unsource-able instrumental textures. And then I think of Young Marble Giants, Thomas Leer’s 4 Movements, Stereolab’s Music for the Amorphous Body Study Center … and while it doesn’t really sound that much like these there’s something there: a languid self-contained sensuality, updated for a post-glitch world. Segundo and Tres Cosas, also very very nice.
Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City)
Swooned for this instantly, which was odd as I didn’t care for Milk-Eyed Mender much, seemed a bit mannered, but this time around the voice… alloy of Appalachian Bjork with
Kristin Hersh with a trace of Bushy flutter... totally intoxicates. Blissfully ignorant of the Van Dyke Parks, Jim O’Rourke et al involvement until already thoroughly hooked (if i'd been more a fan i'd probably have read the press release or cd credits, and BTW they sent this out bizarrely earlier: full finished cd with packaging, apparently not wanting the Artist's Vision marred by appearing as a cruddy advance with a ‘this is a license’ warning stickered over it and reviewers name printed on the disc) . Which is just as well as the high-falutin collaborator aura would probably have put me off.
Jarvis, Jarvis (Rough Trade)
An odd one: the first half is pretty much rubbish; the second half gets better and better until, with the last two or three tracks it’s up there with the best bits of We Love Life
Mordant Music, “Dark Side of the Autobahn” (Mordant Music)
Actually from 2003 but haven’t you heard, pop temporality has been abolished… This 7 inch single is basically a mash-up i suppose but far superior than the norm, a genuinely haunting hallucination of what-might-have-been, merging the sinister whooshing-down-the-underpass bridge from that particular K-werk—you know, the dark-pulsing
chug-a-thonic bit with phased syn-drums I think—to elements of Pink Floyd’s “On the Run”, the resulting composite something like Hawkwind-meets-Neu! (a United Artists mind-meld). On the flip, two extra mixes, one of which runs totally backwards, psychedelia-style, and the one is slathered in lustrous guitar and sounds a bit like if Michael Rother rejoined Hutter & Co after Neu 2. Groovy picture disc vinyl featuring the MM mascot magpie makes this a covetable artifact.
Belbury Poly, The Owl’s Map (Ghost Box)
Highlights: the musky 'n' mysterious “Rattler’s Hey”, a Morris dance scored by Delia Darbyshire. “Music, Movement & Meaning,” despite the title's promise of jaunty and fragrantly trilling airs on the piano suitable for a primary school “expressive movement" class, is more Eric Zann oneiric-Gothick. “Wetland": ancient folk vocal + jaunty-mellow Anglican-skank vibe = redolent of Ultramarine’s United Kingdoms's "Kingdom" and "Happy Land," Robert Wyatt singing old folk songs about the rotten ruling class. “The People” : inititally, Cider with Rosemary’s Baby, then a beautiful hammered dulcimer-like melody takes over--probably my favourite on the album. “Pan’s Garden”: initially summons images of between-the-wars fads for “Greek” dancing, dowagers toga-clad doing eurhythmics in English country gardens, then goes eerie. “Scarlet Ceremony”: like rock music made out of oak... this instantly made the words “Uriah Heep” pop into my head (which is odd as I’ve only heard one or two things by the Heep and they didn’t sound much like this).
The Focus Group, We Are All Pan’s People (Ghostbox)
A preview of this, due in November/December, in unfinished form, suggests it will be another classic. Highlights: “The Falling Leaf Beat”, especially its third section—billowing palimpsests and veils-upon-veils, the overlapping echo-space building to a dense and prolonged afterglow of pure reverberance; “Backyard Rituals and Spare Times,” spiffing musique concrete; “Albion Festival Report” has a saturated treble frequencies dazzle-your-ears, dizzy-your-head thing going on that reminds me oddly of the Avalanches (whatever happened to them, then?); “The Green Station Haunt” goes through distinct phases—flying saucers landing on the Village Green while a blissfully unaware harmonica player trills and wheezes out of some far distant open window... heads out into Dudley Moore Trio/Dudley Moore Bedazzled-score territory... goes a bit Ege Bamyasi/Finnish prog-pagan;... finally turns into a stirring vaguely martial O/S/T theme. “Leaving Through”: so Douglas Lilburn/Dutch Popular Electronics-y it’s not true. Some of the coolest pieces are no more than micro-tracks, cellules of sound, scattered as interstitial blurts of abstract texture throughout the record. The concept is that they are audio-logos or station idents from regional TV franchises-- Oakston Associated Broadcasts, Willowedge Vision, etc.