Wednesday, December 28, 2005

a year

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Worn Copy
The Focus Group, hey let loose your love
Belbury Poly, The Willows
Hot Chip, Coming On Strong
Sa-Ra, Sa-Ra: the Woebot Selection
The Advisory Circle, Mind How You Go
Kononono #1, Congotronics
Kanye West, “Addiction”
Ruff Sqwad, “UR Love Feels”
Eric Zann, Ouroborindra
Infantjoy, Where the Night Goes
Duncan Powell, The Something’s Wrong EP
Three 6 Mafia, “Stay Fly”

Kano featuring D Double E and Demon, “Reload It”
Aftershock feat Bruza, Shizzle, Napper, Fumin,“Not Convinced”
SLK,“Hype Hype (DJ Wonder Refix)
Essentials, “State Your Name” aka “Headquarters”
Lady Sovereign, “Tango Man,” “Public Warning,” "Random"
IMP Batch, “Gype Riddim”
Flirta D, "Warpspeed"

cold rushes
Skream, “Midnight Request Line”
Vex’d, Degeneration
Lethal Bizzle, "Against All Oddz"

textures (a partial inventory)

gruffage (Bruza, anything)
gabbage (SLK/Wonder, "Hype! Hype!)
tremolovox (Ariel Pink, “Trepanated Earth”)
duck-kazoo (Ariel Pink, “Life in LA”)
cthono-bass glow-tone (Belbury Poly, “The Willows”)
violin-wolf (Essentials, “State Your Name”)
string-scree (Three 6 Mafia, “Stay Fly”)

texts (an even more partial inventory)

“I know I’ve got far/Is it too far to turn back?” (Kano, "Sometimes")

“this world is so strange” (Lethal Bizzle, "Against All Oddz")

“You’re going on a bit and/You’re boring me like a Sunday… I’m not convinced/Since you’ve been spitting/I haven’t believed one word/Not one inch/Not even a millimeter/To me you sound like a silly speaker/Silly features in your style/You spit silly/And you spit like how kids be.” (Bruza, "Not Convinced")

cherished mishearing (reluctuantly relinquished)

“you spit like Agnes B” (Bruza)

Kudu, live
M.A.N.D.Y. Body Language
DJ Koze
Animal Collective, Feels
Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock and Roll
Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, XIAO/Buck Dharma/The Flood
Analord series, intermittently
Kano, Home Sweet Home
Animal Collective/Vashti Bunyan
Jackson and His Computer Band

Ying Yang Twins, “Pull My Hair”
LCD Soundsystem, “Too Much Love”
My My, “Klatta”
Amerie,”1 Thing”
Daft Punk, "Make Love”
Franz Ferdinand, “Fade Together”
Avenged Sevenfold, “Bat Country”
Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley, “Jamrock”
Lil Wayne, “Fire Man”
Virus Syndicate, “Major List MCs”
Kanye West, “Crack Music”, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”
True Tiger/Doctor Bearman, L Man, Purple, "Let It Go"
Roll Deep, “Shake A Leg,” “When I’m Ere”


Robert Wyatt & Friends, Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974
Comus, Song To Comus
June Tabor, “The Four Loom Weaver”/“The Fair Maid of Wallington” / “Bonny May”/ “Young Johnstone”/“The Overgate” (from Always)
Van Der Graaf Generator reissues
the all-American car-radio experience (Cheap Trick, “The Dream Police”, "Surrender"/Rush, “Tom Sawyer”, "Spirit of Radio"/Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good”/Scorpions, “Rock Me Like A Hurricane”/Steve Miller Band, “Fly Like An Eagle” etc etc)
X Ray Spex
Bill Fay, Time Of The Last Persecution
Shocking Blue, “Love Buzz”
Fripp/Eno, “Swastika Girls”
Guy Pedersen, “Kermesse Non Heroique”
Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, “Maid That’s Deep In Love”
Steeleye Span, “The Blacksmith”
Doctor Who At the Radiophonic Workshop: Volume 1: The Early Years 1963-1969
David Essex, “Gonna Make You A Star”, “Good Ol’ Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Rolling Stone,” "Rock On"
Spooky Tooth, "In My Dream"/Quintessence, "Notting Hill Gate"
Scritti Politti, Early and "Knowledge and Interest"

Penguin By Design
The Music Library

K-punk’s London Under London Resonance FM audio-derive
Saint Etienne Presents Finisterre
Break, Blow, Burn : Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems
Lisa Crystal Carver, Drugs Are Nice: A Postpunk Memoir
Green Wing
I Am Not An Animal
the resurrection of Woebot


* Worn Copy. Suddenly struck me the other day: Ariel Pink’s my new AR Kane, a route back to bliss-out, to music that can only be “explained” or “justified” in terms of rapture. If anything deserves to be called dreampop, it’s Worn Copy and The Doldrums (which I might love even more than Copy; “The Ballad of Bobby Pyn” is close to my favourite track of the decade, all the more loveable for its slight resemblance to “Driving Away From Home” by It’s Immaterial). There’s definite parallels with Alex & Rudi: noise-pop collision; the fallible, occasionally offkey vocals attaining sublimity so much devastatingly than your obviously endowed singers; the aesthetic of defects, smears, deliberate marring; the penchant for gratuitous guitar-effects; an undertone of fragility and sadness behind the idyllic-kaleidoscopic-oneiric drift-and-gush. In approach if not specifics, Worn Copy is i (pop formalist exercises, stylistic pasticherie) meets Up Home (a headrush of halcyon chaos).

* Ghostbox. The philosophy-ethos-sensibility; the dense, endlessly-linking web of references and sources, touchstones and talismans; the integrated audio-visual design… it’s all fantastic, seductive, thought-catalysing, inspiring both in its specifics and the sheer amount of obsessiveness and curiosity involved… but none of that would matter a jot if they the music didn’t live up to and substantiate (insubstantial-ize?) the ideas, give them eerie unlife. Which it does, superabundantly.

*Infantjoy. Talking of concepts and music actually living up to them… this Satie-honoring venture from Mr. Morley and friend… surprised me. And I prefer their invocation of "Kate Bush" (from an alternate universe where she fronted Japan) to the actual real-world resurrection (Well, so far anyway--promise to try harder. How rockist, though: an album you have to work at, persevere past the tame surface to appreciate the depth!)

*Degenerate/”Request Line”. Recently struck me (during Vex’d excellent set at SubTonic): dubstep bears the same relation to the hardcore continuum that microhouse does to Eurotechnohaus. It’s a consolidation, not a giant step forward, its constituent parts taken from different points in a long-running tradition of darkness/ruffness/bass-presha. Dubstep producers reshuffle elements of bleep, bass, mentasm, breaks, leavened with hints of acid and electro and digidub; the resulting composites working both through their intrinsic and abiding sonic effects but also as signifiers, tokenings-back that address themselves to"those who know", who grew up in this tradition. Because it’s plugged into stuff I have deep history with, because its repertoire of sounds and effects is both hardwired neurologically into my sensorium and part of a chosen worldview/musical ideology, I get much more of a buzz from its recombinant aesthetic than Kompakt-and-co. At its best, it gives me a rush that’s ever so slightly leashed. There’s the same neurotic finesse as microhaus, an implosive aesthetic (the detonation, the brock-out, never really comes) slanted towards production quality/size-of-sound/precision-tooled details, and away from Big Riffs and the Anthemic. “Request Line,” I think, is as close as dubstep is likely to get to a “Shadowboxing”; most of it is far nearer prime Photek or Adam F’s “Metropolis”.

*Sa-Ra. Every bit as mindblowing and untaggable as the man said.

* Hot Chip. Like Young Marble Giants going G-funk; R&Bathos; hip hop, if it had spawned, not in the South Bronx, but in a cul de sac of maisonettes on the edge of Tring, and based itself around diffidence not ebullience. The crestfallen, crushed-in-the-mouth melodies are as delicate and piercingly lovely as Junior Boys’.

*“Addiction”. Strangely reviewers of Late Registration (bit disappointing in the end, eh? and eclipsed then and forever-ever by the Kanye Tells Truth to Power Moment) never mention the one track I found sublime--a tale of male weakness and shame, mutual degredation and pained ecstasy, lent unbearable poignancy by its exquisite arrangement: a glisten of Amnesiac guitar, filtered hi-hats, threaded by a sampled chanteuse’s “you make me smile with my heart” from “My Funny Valentine”.

*Duncan Powell/"Something’s Wrong"
The exact intersection of Todd Edwards and The Avalanches.

* “Stay Fly”. All I ever listen for, all I ever hear, even--those near-microtonally clashing and meshing strings-samples--that and maybe the beat, a bit (and the "stay fly" stutter-riff of course). Everything else gets out-dazzled by that tinglerush. (Can I just say en passant and apropros of almost nothing that the “next rap city” chase seems a wee bit fatigued at this point: slight variation on post-electro diaspora beats’n’bass + excessively self-confident chaps shouting more socially-regressive nonsense on stock set of themes (ego, ice, ass, rims, etc) = changeless same, ultimately.)

*Bill Fay. Took a while to acquire a taste for his voice, its sagging, beaten-cur quality grating somewhat. But the strength of everything else finally brought home its... aptness. He reminds me most of Tim Rose--not as.. the word is virile... for sure; none of the dignity-in-the-face-of-ruin of “Long Time Man”, but the same sour sting of heartburn in the voice, a rising howl held just in check.

* Wyatt and Friends. Still don’t know if I would call this the best record released in 2005, if only because by those lights it might have been the best of record of the year in nearly any year in recent memory. But this definitely registers as a portent, a sign.

* “Knowledge and Interest”. A true ghost.

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