Sunday, December 26, 2010

r.i.p. lady t

Friday, December 17, 2010

10 for 2010

Rangers, Suburban Tours

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Before Today

Gonjasufi, A Sufi and a Killer

Vampire Weekend, Contra

Oneohtrix Point Never, Returnal

Moon Wiring Club, A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding

Actress, Splazsh

Die Antwoord, $O$

D.D. Denham, Electronic Music in the Classroom

Faust, Faust Is Last

the next 10

Jim Ferraro, On Air

Sun Araw, On Patrol

Woebot, Moanad

Mordant Music, MisinforMation

Lonelady, Nerve Up

Salem, King Night

Emeralds, Does It Look Like I'm Here?

These New Puritans, Hidden

Raime, EP

Toro Y Moi, Causers of This

another 10 for 2010

Terror Danjah, Undeniable

Various/Ostgun Ton, Fünf

Dolphins Into the Future, The Music of Belief

Pantha Du Prince, Black Noise

Various, Riddim Box: Excursions in the UK Funky Underground

Demdike Stare, Voices of Dust

Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma

James Blake, Klavierwerke

Darkstar, North

High Places, High Places vs. Mankind

these also served

Mount Kimbie, Crooks + Lovers; Ramadanman, EP; Ekoplekz Volume 1; Ghost Box Study Series 01 to 04; Warpaint, The Fool; Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me; Sun Araw, Off Duty; James Ferraro, Feed Me; Forest Swords, Dagger Paths; Baths, Cerulean; Rene Hell, Porcelain Opera; How To Dress Well, Love Remains; Hype Williams, Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Gettin' Reel; Shackleton, "Man on A String Part one and Two"/"Bastard Spirit"; Mark McGuire, Living With Yourself; Kingdom, That Mystic EP; Dylan Ettinger, New Age Outlaws; Autre Ne Veut; Sleigh Bells, Treat; Svpreme Fiend, "Deluge VIP"...

Various Artists, Bangs and Works Vol 1: A Chicago Footwork Compilation (Planet Mu)

10 tracks for 2010
Die Antwoord, "Jou Ma Se Poes In 'n Fishpaste Jar"
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, "Round and Round"
Lil Wayne featuring Nicki Minaj, "Knockout"
Far East Family, "Like A G6"
Girl Unit, "Wut"
James Blake, "Limit To Your Love"
Darkstar, "Gold"
Vampire Weekend, "Diplomat's Son"
Ramadanman, "Don't Change For Me"
Oneohtrix Point Never, "Preyouandi"

9 reissues for 2010
Method Actors, This Is Still It
The Advisory Circle, Mind How You Go(Revised Edition)
Shades of Rhythm, Shades of Rhythm
Belbury Poly,Farmer's Angle (Revised Edition)
Next Stop Soweto Volume 1: Township Sounds from the Golden Age of Mbaqanga
UB40,Signing Off
Tristam Cary, It's Time For Tristam Cary: Works for Film, Television, Exhibition & Sculpture
Walter Gibbons, Jungle Music: mixed With Love: Essential & Unreleased Remixes, 1976-1986
Kris Needs presents... Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude


well i was going to write some comments, honest.. scrawled down a bunch of notes... but time conspired against me. maybe i'll manage it shortly after Xmas. for now the blog shuts down for the festive season. merrie christmass one and all... and a happier new year.

a giant is felled

rest in peace, Capn
some more end of year charts

sam macklin's at Bubblegumcage 3, going his own way as usual and good on him

Pontone going to town with best EPs and mini-LPs, honorable mention LPs, top 50 LPs part one, top 50 LPs part two, and the final top 15 still to come. Each stage of the Top 50 comes with a mixtape.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

a map of the post-dubstep/post-nuum congestion zone

("emostep"?!? in all honesty, i think blubstep is actually better)

the metaphor for post-dubstep omnidirectionalism i came up with--a milling, densely thronged railway station concourse--could have been extended, i realised later. what's really needed is for somebody to get on board a train and go somewhere else completely different and unfamiliar

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

list o' lists

It's that time of year when people make lists. I'll be making one soon enough. but for now here's some lists by others.


First up, one from Geeta Dayal, who notes that listmaking is something of a masculine activity. accordingly hers is a list-not-list, without numbers, and lacking that strained strenuous air of must-mention-everything. I particularly enjoyed the bit about extracting maximum pleasure potential from Ariel Pink's Before Today:

"I’ve listened to the album at a variety of different speeds — 33 rpm, 45 rpm, pitched down to a sludgy -8, pitched up to a peppy +4 — and I’ve been fascinated by it every single time. (I like it backwards, too.)"

Makes me think I really should get it on vinyl.

Also struck by her favourite record of the year, the DFA anthology of Peter Gordon and the Love of Life Orchestra. The original LoLO records are things I've passed by countless times in the second-hand bins (see also: David Van Tieghem) but now Geeta's got me thinking I've missed out.


I was impressed by NME's The Top 50 Albums of the 2010 issue (4th December). Well written; the selection showing a marked slant towards the oddball, prickly, and difficult; some good essays (one, in fact, on it being the year of the difficult album)... and capping it all, These New Puritans's Hidden as Album of the Year. Which is a bit like Melody Maker making the Young Gods's debut Album of the Year in 1987--critics doing what they should do, stepping out in advance of their readership, leading rather than following.

For my own part Hidden is something I admire more than adore. Actually the first time I heard it I was totally knocked out. But then--as if backlashing against my own opinion--the second listen was more underwhelmed; now I'm somewhere in between. In the tradition of Deceit and Hex, the pale grey vocals fall short of what's proposed by the music; they could do with a Franz Treichler, a more dramatic and imposing vocal presence. Still, you have to salute their ambition.


I've often thought that FACT is the magazine whose taste I'm most simpatico with, so it's always a surprise to look at their end-of-year LPs and tracks and find A/ so few of the things I loved this year in there and B/ so many things listed I've not heard. When I have a spare, um, six hours I'll go through that Top 100 Tracks of the Year list and methodically listen to the audio helpfully put next to the write-ups (100 X 4 minutes per track - a conservative estimate, a lot of it being dance music - = lotta listening). For now I'll just note that the write-up for their #2 track of the year, Ramadanman's "Glut", almost reads like faint praise:

"What still amazes us about ‘Glut’... is as you listen to it, you’re incredibly aware of every move it makes, and why it’s making them – there’s almost no surprises, because it all makes such perfect sense and it’s all so perfectly timed. Like all he’s doing is filling in the obvious gaps with the obvious colours."

Excellent tune actually, but I like "Tumble" (bit like So Solid "Dilemma" crossed with Lizzy Mercier Descloux's Mambo Nassau) and the jungle pastiche "Don't Change For Me" even more.

big up FACT for making Olde English Spelling Bee its Label of the Year, although again, slightly taken aback that they didn't even mention Rangers's Suburban Tours, easily my favourite of OESB's output this year, and a strong contender for favourite album.


Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks of the Year and Top 50 Albums of the Year (just started, with Honorable Mentions).

Anointing "Round and Round" as Track of the Year means that Pitchfork is in perfect concord with my four year old daughter, who loves the song and sings the chorus with gusto and real feeling (albeit slightly mangled, "I'm coming, I'm coming back to the barn"). (I'm rather concerned that I've interfered with the proper functioning of the hypnagogic pop process, created some kind of temporal feedback loop, a recursive short circuit. If a piece of hypnagogic pop becomes part of the memoradelic bedrock of Tasmin's psyche, rather than some actual real-deal 2010 pop music, isn't that a bit like the implanted memories in Blade Runner?)

Scanning the list it occurred to me that Pitchfork has developed a house style for these kind of lists (see also the book they did a few years ago, The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide To the Greatest Songs From Punk to the Present) which is cautious about reaching for significance and concentrates instead on a kind of inventory of pleasures, which in turn involves a breakdown of a track into its components and constituent sources, where the song/album/artist is positioned within the genrescape, etc. (A generational sensiblity perhaps, shaped by the internet, mixtapes and playlists, the disintegration of larger entities into the song as unit-of-pleasure). In the case of "Round and Round" that approach fits perfectly because as Mark Richardson notes in his write-up, the song is exactly the sum of its perfect parts ("an intro, a variation, a funny little break with a sound effect, a section that pauses just before the big refrain, and then that huge chorus"), assembled with an "astonishing level of craftsmanship" and succeeding "brilliantly for the same reason great Burt Bacharach songs work-- because every chord change and turnaround and melodic leap is in exactly the right place." You could substitute "Steve Miller" for "Burt Bacharach" in the sentence and everything would still apply--indeed 70s and 80s "radio rock" is more what Ariel's aiming for. As Mark noted in his original review of Before Today, those radio artisans "were pros who knew something about intros, codas, and middle-eights, how a certain kind of chord change can cause the turnaround to the chorus to hit a little harder... there's a real sense of musical delight on Before Today; the sections sound logical but never predictable, and there are wild bridges and short bits that emerge seemingly randomly but wind up taking the song somewhere unexpected."

A huge amount of what makes rock and pop enjoyable relates to this level of asignifying craft: aspects of the songwriting and recording process that are far more technical than they are expressive or communicative--how this bit fits with that bit, the way one song section transitions into this song section, bridgework and arrangement, contrasts of texture, hooks, ear-catching gimmicks (the flurry of handclaps in Miller's "Take the Money and Run") and their timing, the swerves that still surprise even when you know they're coming because it's your umpteenth listen. It's something that music criticism generally hasn't dealt with much in the past, because it's hard to do with any specificity, and also there's been all these other levels of significance, resonance, expression, intent, to work with and make a meal of. The emergence of a criticism that attends to this stuff and is "against interpretation" (or at least guarded about it) seems like an interesting and valuable direction. What it would need itself to guard against is lapsing into a kind of culinary conception of music (all about ingredients, the harmonious balance of flavours, etc). In practise, it tends to be a little too plaisir and not enough jouissance for my taste. But then I'm a captive of my own generational sensibility in this respect, no doubt.


The Wire's end-of-year issue is out now but only digitally/for subscribers, not on the stands yet. So I shouldn't divulge the results, except to say that the #1 Album is very cool (only a Honorable Mention at Pitchfork) and that Oneohtrix Point Never's Returnal achieves exactly the same (very high) placement as Rifts did last year--surely an unprecedented feat.

There's also, as you'd expect, some interesting surveys of broad currents within underground music in 2010. David Keenan supplies a curious conflicted essay in which he seems to want to both start the backlash against hypnagogic pop while continuing to champion and perpetuate it, or at least the key operators within it. I say "curious", but actually it's totally understandable, and indeed I've been there before myself. It's a perennial contradiction of undergroundism: rant and rail about the crucial music of our time being ignored but then when people stop ignoring it (there's a big swipe from DK at Altered Zones, Pitchfork's sister-site for H-pop and related micro-genres) and when a second-wave of operatives take up the ideas, botching them or watering them down.... you're aghast. You don't want to abandon the theory but at the same time it feels like the practice is starting to discredit the ideas: a real bind. Tough too for the artists, the originators: someone like James Ferraro invents the formula, then other people adopt it, causing his own work to seem formulaic.

Lisa Blanning has some on-the-money comments about the post-dubstep interzone noting that with operatives like Night Slugs et al there's been the emergence of "a real 'wot do you call it' sound... but part of the reason this sound doesn't have a name is because it doesn't have any defining characteristics. It's a mixture, instead of a synthesis, of so many existing club forms. While it doesn't lack energy, the pursuit of the next mutation is audibly uncertain, and it probably won't come from this quarter."

This chimed with the feeling I got reading Martin Clark's Pitchfork survey of the year in dubstep/grime/funky/dubbage/road rap... the sense of a congested space, a frenetic criss-crossing of DJs and producers akin to a crowded concourse at a railway junction... a bustling profusion of genres blurring into each other... Yet house and garage and funky and 2step aren't that far apart really, the distances between them aren't large enough for the movements to-and-fro across that space to register as a soundclash or transgressive passage through border control... Blackdown's survey forms a book-end to 2010 with his behold-the-plenty column from the start of the year... which was one of the things that first got me musing towards the concept of hyperstasis.

"Next to no dance music (been a bit boring really)" avers Matthew Ingram in his own short 'n' sweet list at Cybore (he also makes some acerbic points about critics being "bedded" within movements of artists... when the people you're reviewing are just a tweet away there's a strong disincentive to rock the boat). I wouldn't be so dismissive as Mr Woebot, but I do think that the quality, diversity and hyperactivity of the last year or two masks a deeper structural impasse. Just about the only dance thing in Matt's list is DJ Roc's The Crack Capone. From my particular vantage point, it seems revealing that the strangest dancefloor mutant of recent times has emerged from a subculture that is insular, functionalist to the extreme (the music only exists for dancing, to enable a specific form of dance), and lo-tech. This resemblance of juke to hardcore carries through to some of its surface features: the broken-yet-fluid beats, the split-level rhythms, the tempo-manipulated vocals.


"Next to no dance music" in The Quietus top-40-of-2010 either, actually. Unless Demdike Stare count. Which I don't think they do. They're in there for the same reason Salem are at #2, Swans at #3, and (to an extent) Liars at #1, and why doomy types like The Body ("this world, our culture, and perhaps our entire civilisation are seemingly doomed to utter failure... the idea of a bleak future, with or without people, is the predominant vision of our work") and Zola Jesus also place high. Nu-Goth vibes in the area. As signposted in the Top 40's title: Angst Music For Sex People.
Bruce Bowie points to another appearance of "when I was a youth i used to bun collie weed inna rizla" -- at the start of the remix of "Catch My Drift",on A.R. Kane's rem"i"xes miniLP

and here's the sublime original tune off i, featuring "guest appearance" from world famous opera singer (how did they get away with that sample?!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

two contenders for the "when i was a yout" source:

now that one has the melody alright, but this next one has "the when i was a yout i used to bun collie weed in a rizzla" bit (coming in quite late in the song, around the 3 minute 10 second mark)


cheers to john eden, ed torpey and craig allen for droppin knowledge

as for the jungalistic hardcore tune that sampled it, various contenders here --
Nu-Matic's "Hard Times", Prodigy's "Fire", A-Sides's "Burn Cali Weed", but I think this one, Order 2 Move, "Rizla Bass" on the Boogie Beat label is the one I'm thinking of, although in my memory it's more skanky 'n' rootical and less rushy (perhaps a different, later remix?)

thrilling report from the uk frontlines from k-punk
from retro-rave to jungle-nostalgia

tip courtesy Matos

now which roots reggae classic does that "when I was a yout'" bit come from? Something about "smoke collie weed inna" something or other. Lynval Thompson? And what was the early jungle tune based around a sample of it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

crikey, retro-rave

amazing attention to detail with the clothes, hair, dance moves etc

if only they'd done as good a timewarp job with the music eh!

i guess they are aiming for a Magnetic Man/"I Need Air" crossover

it's growing on me

(tip courtesy of Cybore aka Mr Woebot)

P.S. "uncensored version "at the band's own site, although I can't tell the difference myself

P.P.S. what i don't get though, is if Chase & Status are from London why are all the bods in their vid Mancunian? Why not an orbital rave or Labrynth-style East End warehouse party? As D&B-ers they should be a bit more regionally patriotic, I think, rather than go along with the 24 Hour Party People/Madchester-as-cradle-of-rave version of history.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

it doesn't get any better than this

look i know you are busy busy busy, so just scroll ahead to around 7 minutes and listen to this tune go out to Starsailor (LP and song) places

for your further pleasure, a chopped and screwed version

someone should Justin Bieber it

two things

1/ saw Zapp live. twice. two days in a row. a mistake, but the first night was the best show i'd seen at that point (which wasn't such a crowded field admittedly, this is 1986, but i'd still place it the All Time Top 10), so i went again.

2/ a year or two later, i interviewed Roger Troutman. He was as much a showman in front of a Walkman recorder as on the Hammersmith Odeon stage.

a big single in 1986

sampled in

another good single off Zapp IV

lyrics seem to be talking some leroi jones "changing same" business

or perhaps it's the black "It's Still Rock'n'Roll To Me"/Billy Joel...
"here comes the jungle"

eye-openingly protean 1992 set from Fabio & Grooverider --a 3 hour guest show on Kiss FM, their first appearance on the station--today (oh wonders of the web)hosted by 2 Bad Mice at their ardkival trove of a website

"one of those dark white labels coming out of London right now"

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

it's the launch of a new series!


in which we scrutinise the shortfall between rhetoric and reality

in the post-everything omnigenre at whose hub radiates the polytentacled Altered Zones

Case #1: Gatekeeper

Reads like... the disco Ghost Box!

Sounds like... Front Line Assembly (with a pinch of Hoodlum Priest chucked in for good measure)

(indebted to this Synergy track so they say)

(see also this Gatekeeper tune that really had me flashing on one-page features by the Stud Brothers circa 1989)

Case #2: Cos/Mes

Reads like... something utterly amazing ("Cos/Mes's 'Gozmez Land' is a lush, tropical paradise where an advanced balearic civilisation resides in a state of permanent hypnotic enchantment. A land where exquisite Steve Reich peaks and Gamelan creatures fly through a Roger Dean rendering of the Paradise Garage, mesmerising as they intertwine with one another and the mathematically detailed foliage"--20 Jazz Funk Greats/Altered Zones)

Sounds like... Shpongle meets Gotan Project

Sounds like ... Pixar looks

it gets much much better than this

Birds of Britain continued (Modern Division)

's bit like she's crossed Radiohead circa "Creep" with Radiohead circa Kid A and then sluiced it through post-Dido AOR

i like the chorus, which is un-choruslike, just this curl of melody, an origami-like fold ("still-a-weird-ooooo")

talking of post-Dido AOR, you can't not have a soft spot for this

here is a great old piece by K-punk on Dido's life for rent
(with equally great debate in the comments)(hard not to feel a bit "those were the days" eh?)

that post made me go buy the ceedee (well i found it going cheap at Kieran's school's rummage sale but still...) ... it didn't quite click with me though

going back to KT Tee, i would never have heard "Still A Weirdo" at all I don't think if I hadn't gone on the first of my two "grief vacations" to England this year, the first one involving a trip to Dorset for a couple of days (on Dancing Ledge we said goodbye), which meant long car journeys which meant listening to UK radio... and one thing I found, contrasting markedly with what radio is like in Los Angeles, is that:

A/ on the british radioscape there's hardly any old music at all (it was entirely current or recent, at least during daylight hours, with hardly any "oldies" played, let alone whole segments of nostalgia pop)


B/ you could hardly hear anything resembling rock. In about six hours total of in-car radio listening, I think I heard maybe one or two guitar riffs. I don't remember hearing much guitar at all and if it was present in records it was that mushy, pro-Tooled indistinct guitar-as-Polyfilla-in-the-wall-of-sound type, c.f. the kind of "rock" bands that you get on a VH1 Top 20 videos of the week count-down.

It's completely the opposite in America, or where we live at any rate: old music (classic rock, 80s-oriented segments, etc) outweighs current stuff by a considerable margin. And you get can rocked and riffed to your heart's content*. (Even when it comes to current pop there's quite a bit more of pseudo-rock guitar-texture-mush to be heard).

Britain seems to be post rock, in lots of ways.

* that--listening to radio in the car--is the principal reason I've been "it doesn't get much better than this"-ing actually--just keep hearing great old tunes I'd forgotten or in quite a few cases never even heard before.

Monday, November 29, 2010

... and this blog goes quiet for a week as I head off to Istanbul to give a talk as part of the Art & Desire Seminar. It takes place at Sanat Limanı at 3PM Friday December 3rd and the title is "The Desire Called Underground"...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

it doesn't get much better than this

another black British female singer who doesn't belong in the Urban category

lovely song, all the more touching for its sweetly earnest worry that Humanity really did perhaps ascend prematurely beyond Our Proper Sphere, before We were ready

i was living in America when it hit UK #1, and first heard it via a pirate tape, sampled in a hardcore track* that detourned the lyrics so that song-shards like "in the rush", "did we peak too soon", "blame you for the dream that died", "greatest adventure", "did we fly to the moon too soon", were now talking about a different We, who tried to rise above the mundane through the reckless pursuit of collective peak experiences, only to crash back down to Earth, wrecked...

it was only when MTV put "Sleeping Satellite" into light rotation that I realised where the samples came from and what a big hit it had been back home... wonder why it struck such a chord with the U.K. general public, beyond its prettiness and yearningfulness?

* and no, it's not Wishdokta's "Rush Hour", which samples "Sleeping Satellite" and is fine as far as it goes. It might be this tune--DJ Smooth & DJ Energy's "Did We Fly To The Moon Too Soon?" a/k/a "Flying High"--although in my memory the track uses a couple of extra lines from the song and is done slightly more artfully, to more poignant effect.

in all cases probably a case of simply joining the dots between "Sleeping Satellite" and this:

it doesn't get much better than this

Joan Armatrading is a bit like a British female Bill Withers

Which is to say, a singer-songwriter (played guitar, only sang her own songs, has never done a cover version) who went in this sort of AOR-soul direction.

Record companies didn't know what to do with either of them.

Don't know if she was pushed in a New Wave direction or went of her own volition, but I rather like this era of Armatrading

New Wave's austerity really suited her dry folky voice-texture and aloof persona (Joan Armourplating, the music papers unkindly nicknamed her, on account of being guarded in interviews, I guess)

(Was "Me Myself & I" a phrase in common parlance that she picked up on, or her coinage? And did De La Soul get it from her?)

This one is also nice.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

r.i.p. sleazy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

it gets a lot better than this

but while we're doing doing Pop Birds of Great Britain (Late Seventies)

i would have (internally) scorned this at the time (being a Slits/Delta 5 fan) but also had a secret soft spot for this pretty AOR ballad, despite the cheesy "i'll show you a sunset/if you stay with me till dawn" chorus and the overall tone of abject romantic submissiveness. (But... we've all been there, right?)

notable features: that odd progressive-ish cello interlude in the middle

also the way the drummer, when he finally comes in, really tries to give it some welly, or at least indicate the capacity to give it some welly, while hopelessly restrained by the ballad form

"Stay With Me Til Dawn" was sampled by Ultramarine for "Honey" on Every Man and Woman Is A Star, gorgeously so, using the "need you tonight" bit -- but when the remastered version came out on Darla back in 2002 it sounded like they'd removed the sample and got some female singer to re-voice it as closely as possible to Tzuke's original

what else can we say of Judie Tzuke?

the name is Polish

she has a cute overbite

and a daughter named Tallula Muggleton-Tzuke

and blimey she certainly did persevere in defiance of one-hit-wonderdom... has done sixteen albums and is still going... recently capped thirty years in the biz with a celebratory double-album titled Moon On a Mirrorball featuring over thirty songs from her back catalogue, rerecorded...
new Spectral Cassettes mix from the ever excelling Pontone
Guardian piece by me on Moon Wiring Club and the Cafe Kaput label's debut release Electronic Music in the Classroom, featuring interviews with Ian Hodgson, Jon Brooks, and D.D. Denham.

And here's Hodgson talking to Warren Ellis about his favourite weirdtronica of 2010.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

tomorrow he would have turned 45

excellent Resident Advisor article by Michaelangelo Matos on "permaretro" as the condition of contemporary dance music

it's a glass half-full view

the syndrome's been building for quite a while--remember Faze Action, or the nouveau-electro action of i/F, Ectomorph, Dopplereffekt, or Metro Area, or...

but it's definitely escalated in the last few years

it's like there's this omnidirectional recursive thing going on... the unexpected, seemingly out-of-schedule returns of figures like Zed Bias and Horsepower Productions and even Terror Danjah feed into it too...
it doesn't get much better than this

at least in terms of my personal "memoradelic" archive

for years i carried around a faint-yet-vivid memory of this song as sublime.. in 1978, on Top of the Pops, it had really made an impression on me... probably the first time I got a sense that pop music could be a glimpse of something Beyond... in the memory it grew to have an almost Velvet Undergound-like quality, blurry transcendence... i wish YouTube still had the TOTP footage, cos the bluey celestial backdrop (intended to suggest aurora borealis probably) behind the band really added to that effect

when finally at some point in the nineties i tracked the song down on vinyl, i heard the frou-frou aspect I'd forgotten, or more likely never noticed.... (on the back cover of the album one of the guys wears a Prokofiev Rocks T-Shirt!)

still despite the frilly bits it is a lovely song

i guess this was Renaissance's attempt to do a folk-prog Abba maybe

it worked - #10 in the summer of '78

the search for "Northern Lights" also trawled up Renaissance's earlier full-force prog LPs (a lot of copies loitering in the second-hand stores, going cheap... Renaissance actually had some success in the States, Joy remembers hearing one of their concerts broadcast on the radio)... on which LPs you'll find lots of overblown legend-laden song suites, but nothing to compare with the song that Renaissance's proper fans scowl at as a sell-out

Monday, November 22, 2010

The ultimate hauntology artifact?

Central Office of Information films from 1970-1986 --a documentary on new towns, Illusions: A Film on Solvent Abuse, Looking At Prehistoric Sites, Peter Greenaway's Inkjet Printer, and so forth--re-edited or reduced to a brief snippet, then daubed with Mordant Music emissions, sometimes industrial and sometimes ethereal-celestial, but always oozy, gauzy, heard-as-from-afar...

From the DVD booklet, Baron Mordant explains:

The cordial gentlemen of the BFI led me blindfolded onto the roof at the BFI HQ Stephen Street and left me propped against an obsolete Steenbeck with instructions to sniff my way to the nearest nitrate room, ruMMage through the VHS mountain and not leave until I'd misinformed at least one reel of usable DVD in earnest ... in the midst of ruptured telecine transfers and squealing reels a selection of COI films, redolent to my youth, unearthed me and I duly smeared them with my detritus ... I imagined sounds & characters leaving one film & cropping up in another and that's the way it eventually spooled ... a narrative manifested itself and 'a return to the sea' would appear to be the iMMediate answer for future spores...

Incredible stuff and a major contribution to hauntology's "strong finish" (see also: Moon Wiring Club's Spare Tabby and the launch of Jon Brooks's Cafe Kaput label with Electronic Music In the Classroom) after an otherwise subdued year

Out on December 6th via BFI filmstore

Sunday, November 21, 2010

blubstep, pt 2

blimey, he really can sing

kind of wipes the floor with Darkstar, really

just a bit

it's like if Burial turned out to have the pipes of a Steve Winwood or Gary Brooker

Blake's doing that ends-of-words and middles-of-words crumble 'n' fray, indistinct diction thing -- Glottal Stop Soul -- and i was racking my brain about which recent-ish pop singer it recalled -- Chris Martin?--and then realised it was this pale young man

So - what is going on with your postdubsteppers and the New Emotionality? Darkstar recruiting a new member specifically to sing, James Blake vocalling a tune or two, Subeena ditto...

Friday, November 19, 2010

it doesn't get much better than this

dis one going out to Man Like Robin

i was starting to get pop-aware when this was a hit (a massive hit, #3 in the summer of 1978) but I have absolutely no recollection of it from the time

would never have even heard of it I don't think (one of those massive pop hits that just drops into a chasm in popular memory) unless Carmody hadn't had gone on about it on his website back--way back--in the day (check the August 29th 2000 comments, and passim)

what I like about it is mainly the verses

the chorus is a bit happy-sappy

but the verses have this English-accented clarity and a hushed poise that's almost stately

it comes right out of British folk...

you could almost hear this as the sister record to Richard and Linda Thompson's "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight"

and "Dancing in the City" was actually on Harvest

what I also like.... the synth-drummy element, which caught the ear of New Order-to-be (so Steven Morris told me)and was one of the things that got them interested in electronic rhythm ... but is here done in this elegant English AOR way that's a world apart from e.g. "Ring My Bell"... meshing beautifully with the sweet bass line (reggae-ish, played by Kit Hain presumably) and those restrained keyboard chords

what I also like, in the videos --especially the one above, the official promo presumably... Kit Hain has a certain je ne sais quoi that brings to mind "fancying your best friend's older sister who's left school, is away at college/working up in London, seems really sophisticated (but with the benefit of hindsight, wasn't really... still very much had the aura of gymkhana and lacrosse about her)"....

it's a 1978 thing, you wouldn't understand

Thursday, November 18, 2010

i can feel a class action suit a-brewing...

UK Music Journos versus Books LLC

Jon Dale pointed out




and Andrew Necci directed me to this expose by John Scalzi

Did I just write "UK Music Journos versus Books LLC"?

It's more like All Writers Everywhere Ever versus Books LLC


you know what, it's coming back to me now... there was this bloke... emailed me, a couple of years back... asked "can my publishing company reprint some of your pieces?"... I responded reasonably courteously ... said "well you know I'm with Faber, we just did a collection, Bring the Noise, probably not a good idea to flood the market old bean". Bloke was persistent, though. Came back with "anything you can spare, old live reviews, anything". At this point I got suspicious, checked out the publisher, whose name escapes. And it looked well fishy. Some of the comments from punters were mighty pissed off, "i paid 18 quid for this art book, wasn't expecting a stapled collation of black-and-white photocopies", that kind of thing.

i wonder, is this the same perp? M.O. looks to be similar.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

it doesn't get much better than this

the whole feel of the record is like the way the name "Noosha" sounds and reads

love the way every little bit of this small miracle of a pop song sparkles--the crisp guitars, the succulent keyboards...that talk-box solo...

as for Noosha's voice...

the prototype for Clare Grogan, it's often said

but more intriguing is the way that this minor group in pop history seem--with this single, a #4 UK hit in the spring of 1976--to have the jump on Chic

i've scoured YouTube for anything by Fox in anything like the same champagne-in-your-membrane vein but (and they've a most t'peculiar singles-ography it has to be said) but to no avail

perhaps someone who's sifted through the albums can let me know if they are worth bothering with

oh yeah, the sly saucy lyric to "S-S-S-Single Bed"... always assumed "ain't no room for your sweet head" meant "you're not in luck tonight" . Then it occurred to me it might be more a case of "now i've had my way with you, sod off, you ain't sleeping over". Total tease or booty call?
rockcrit bits 'n' bobs

* i read somewhere that there was a second edition of Nik Cohn's Awopbopalooboplopbamboom that came out in the early Seventies in updated form. I'm curious if anyone's got it and if it has any substantive comment on early 70s music, like what did he make of Bolan Bowie Alice Cooper etc say?

The edition I have is the paperback that came out on Paladin in 1970 (see above), now this has an extremely brief update (less than one and a half pages) tacked on called "Afterthoughts" that deals cursorily with the "so many changes" that had occurred in the eighteen months since the Weidenfeld and Nicholson hardback came out in '69. The "so many changes" don't appear to be that plentiful in truth: the return-to-greatness of Elvis and the Stones, the enfeeblement of pretty much every other major Sixties figure, and the emergence of "just three good groups": Bonnie & Delaney & Friends, The Band, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Which is odd, because short of including the Allmann Bros, that little list couldn't have been further from Cohn's vision of Superpop as expressed in Awopbop (which vision I tend to think of as the absolute polar opposite of Last Waltz/Stranded, even though there's a lot of overlap in terms of the pantheon that the two visions/ideologies are built on...

* what do you know, Greil Marcus has the same birthday as me. And who knew that Mystery Train was only his second book, preceded by the co-authored Double Feature: Movies & Politics, which - if wiki can be trusted--preceded it by three years.

I actually have the first thing with his name on the spine, the collection Rock and Roll Will Stand (1969), which he edited. I first perused this in the rare books section of the New York Public Library -- you didn't have to wear white gloves to touch it but you were definitely in an inner sanctum type area, with an eye being kept on you. Later chanced upon it for 10 bucks used and snapped it up. Like other early rock books (Paul Williams's Outlaw Blues also from 1969, The Age of Rock ed. Jonathan Eisen, Carl Belz's The Story of Rock) it's a curious snapshot of a moment: everything's very much in flux, the way things were going to go not at all clear, the signficance of recent events not yet settled. (C.f. this Woebot, sorry Cybore, post). Actually, Marcus's essay "Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp De-Bomp De-Bomp" not only has a title that parallels Awopbop but it contains a Cohn-like celebration of rock and roll in terms of repetition, immediacy, and energy. I guess this must have been written in 1968, before rock's Historical Turn: Creedence and The Band writing songs about Dixie's defeat and Mississipi paddle steamers and debt-laden 1890s farmers... when the weightiness of history (rock's own, America's) had yet to encumber the music and make its very sinews creak with craft and worthiness... before Ry Cooder and Randy Newman and post-Astral Van became a critical generation's definition of the righteous path...

* what the fuck?

who is this Books LLC anyway? check this, this, this and this... also this and this and this... and about hundreds of other examples of what would appear to be unsanctioned, photocopied reprints bound in identikit covers....
tweetronica mix

by continuo

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There's been some requests. Some it's-been-a-while reminders. Indeed it has been a while. You'll have to excuse me (I have excuses--moving a family from one side of a continent to another, bereavement, bringing to fruition a long-term project). Commentary is beyond me at the moment (maybe later) but here for now is a mute testimonial to what made an impression these last six months or so, in roughly ascending order of how impressed I was and am.