Saturday, March 26, 2005

not done one of these for a while, got quite a backlog:


Annie, Anniemal

Four Tet, Everything Ecstatic

DJ Sergio Mama & DJ Flavinho, Caldeirao Do Funk

Gang Gang Dance, God’s Money (The Social Registry)

Dizzee Rascal, “Off 2 Work”

Various, Risky Roadz: Tha Roadz Is Real

Really Feeling

Ying Yang Twins, “the Whisper Song”

0 = 0, Punctuality (Planet Mu, forthcoming)
Fantastic retro-tinged-but-still-fresh-feeling junglizm from a guy called Jason in Toronto, not modeled so much on raggAmen rinse but Omni Trio-style exploding-divas bliss-blitz. Extra place in my heart for the track that samples Tasmin Archer’s “Sleeping Satellite”, a crypto-homage to earlier Archer-sampling ardkore 1992 track by DJ Smooth and Energy on the NutE label

Bizzy B, The Science EPs Vols 3 & 4 (Planet Mu)
The lord of darkcore.

Virus Syndicate, The Work-Related Illness (Planet Mu)
It’s grime oop north (sorry)

Animal Collective featuring Vashti Bunyan, Prospect Hummer (FatCat)

Jane, Berserker (Paw Tracks)

Mu, Out of Breach (Manchester’s Revenge)

SLK/Wonder, “Hype! Hype” (DJ Wonder Refix)

Crazy Titch/Imp Batch, “Singalong/Gype Riddim”

Bruza, “Not Convinced” (Aftershock)

Kano, “Reload It” (679 album sampler/debut album, TBA)

Konono No1/The Dead C, Split Series 18 (FatCat)

Boredoms, Seadrum/House of Sun (Vice)

Belbury Poly, Farmer’s Angle
Belbury Poly, The Willows
The Focus Group, Sketches and Spells
The Focus Group, Hey Let Loose Your Love
(all Ghost Box)

While not really sounding much like Position Normal, the first batch of stuff from Ghost Box--the label started by Julian House and his mate Jim Jupp--has a very similar effect on me: this is serious audio-madeleine bizniz, flashing back to a bygone England that was at once shabbier and seedier than the present one, but also more glamorous and strange. House = The Focus Group, Jupp = Belbury Poly; their music, different but informed by a shared sensibility and influences, at various points resembles the missing links between el records and Boards of Canada, between Vic Reeves and Selected Ambient Works Vol II (which I guess would be Chris Morris' Blue Jam come to think of it), between the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the Jerry Dammers of “Stereotype”/“International Jet Set”/"Ghost Town"/"The Boiler", between Michael Bracewell’s England Is Mine and Wagon Christ’s Throbbing Pouch. House is a scholar of library music, film soundtracks (especially Italian), early electronic music, the sort of arcana Trunk exhumes for our delectation, and so forth. The imprint of these sources is discernible in Ghost Box, but there’s something uncanny and oneiric that comes through that takes it well beyond mere esoterrorism and "record collection pop"; this is a genuinely spectral sampladelia. As you’d expect from a record cover designer (House's clients include Broadcast), the whole look of the releases is fully integrated with the sonic ambience--these are seriously attractive things to have and hold (especially the 3 inch CD that is Belbury Poly’s “Farmer’s Angle”). Several of the releases look like Open University textbooks. According to Julian, the idea is that the releases “form a set - like course-books in a way”, with a unified design inspired by “Schools for Colleges, old school textbooks and old Penguin paperbacks,” and which they plan to extend to “downloadable short films, stories, pictures.” For a taste of it, check out the Ghostbox site.

Really REALLY Feeling

Ariel Pink, Worn Copy (Paw Tracks)
Talking of things uncanny, oneiric, spectral... but also ecstatic, transcendent...

Oldstuff (reissued) Feeling

Scritti Politti, Early (no surprises there) (but do check this is you haven't already)

Orange Juice, The Glasgow School (Domino)

June Tabor, Always box set (Topic)
Well, bits of it--the early stuff, mainly, just that witchy voice + a few acoustic instruments.

Oldstuff (not reissued) Feeling

Steeleye Span, “The Blacksmith”

Matching Mole, “Instant Pussy,” “Instant Kitten,” “O Caroline” etc

Various Artists, 1981
“366 bands. 411 Songs. 21 Hours. 10 Discs. 1 Year” it says on the back. Put together by a young man who’d prefer to remain nameless, perhaps wisely so, and whom I’m not even sure was born in 1981, this is a colossal labour of love: a very attractively minimalist-designed 10 CD box (the tenth being mp3s and therefore as vast as the other 9 cds put together) of music--postpunk, new pop, new wave, proto-indie, “punk’s not dead" punk, anarcho-punk, hardcore, proto-Goth, synthpop, etc--from, you guessed it, 1981. Which might have been an even better year than 1979 in some ways, given that postpunk was still fairly vital yet New Pop was ascending. I’ve only got half way through it (and not even touched the MP3-laden disc), but it’s alarming--given that I’ve just written a heavily researched tome on this era--the extent to which A/ there’s lots of groups I’ve not heard and B/ there’s fair number I’ve never even heard of. But this is no obscurer-than-thou fest, the spectrum runs from mainstream acts like the Stranglers, The Undertones, Japan, and The Pretenders to Crash Course in Science, Scapa Flow, and Goat That Went Om, via Dif Juz, Klaus Nomi, Wim Mertens, Rudimentary Peni, Tall Dwarfs, Art Bears, New Age Steppers, Felt, Wipers, etc etc etc. The selection and sequencing are ace (each disc is thematic and identified with intriguing glyphs), and if it wasn’t such a wanky word, I’d say this was a first class feat of “curating”. Here’s hoping the young man does equivalent jobs for 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1982. If you want to get on the waiting list, email and put "1981, via Reynolds" in the subject line.
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