Saturday, 26 May 2012

Monday, 21 May 2012

Squarepusher - Ufabulum

The new Squarepusher album sounds a lot like, umm, err, Squarepusher.

Well, what did you expect?

Okay, to be more explicit - gone (or toned down at least) is the fusion sound of Just a Souvenir and the Daft-Punk-Go-R'n'B of the Shobaleader One album, and for those who often felt that some Squarepusher tracks were "a bit much", you'll be reassured to know that the kitchen sink approach (see the brilliantly bonkers "The Modern Bass Guitar" from 2006's Hello Everything) has been toned down...a bit. Even his bass guitar has taken a back seat for now.

What you get instead is the sound of classic Squarepusher - rich but complex rhythms and melodies, and frequent use of highly synth-etic orchestral sounds that he loves so much. It's also remarkably accessible (for him). There's not much point in me doing a track by track review, but I will say that right now I'm listening to Dark Steering, which manages to be funky, heavy as hell and playful at the same time.

The artwork and packaging is another Warp records masterpiece. Two discs in individual sleeves, a CD EP and a 12" booklet of photos, which are all finished off with a nice high gloss - you know, the type that immediately shows up ALL your fingerprints when you touch it.

Best of all the box that holds it all together, which printed phosphorescent ink so it goes from looking like this during the day...
To something like this at night...
If I had a better camera / grasp of Photoshop, then this would look even more impressive, but you'll just have to go out and buy the album instead...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

From "Tonight" to "This Is What She's Like"

Two songs I've just played on Chorlton FM got me thinking about their lyrics and how they are head and shoulders above so much that is out there...

Iggy Pop - Tonight
"I saw my baby, she was turning blue".

Not the happiest of starts to a song I admit, but the sentiment at the heart of the song really is quite beautiful. It's rumoured to be about someone dying of a heroin overdose but it still conveys more emotion and says more than a thousand power ballads ever could.

It's arguably the song most likely to make me cry (not really cry obviously, but...err...nearly cry) - essentially Iggy is singing words of reassurance to a loved one who is on their death bed. The last verse is the one that really gets you, where Iggy stops singing to her and starts singing about her, at which point you know here life IS through.

Actually the only song more likely to make me cry is David Bowie and Tina Turner's cover version, where they ripped the soul out of the song and left it for dead in the gutter.

Dexy's Midnight Runners - This is What She's Like
This has to be the noblest attempt to describe someone and express how you feel about them ever. Anyone can sing "I love you" without really meaning it, so often it sounds like some trite half baked lyric, but few are able to try and express how they feel and sound so sincere as in this song.

What starts out as an awkward conversation between Kevin Rowland and Billy Adams turns into, over the course of 12 minutes, Kevin trying his best to explain how he feels about the girl in his life. But he can't - all he can do is list the kind of people he hates and everything that she most definitely isn't -  you know, the usual things such as the upper classes, people who put creases in their jeans and those who use words like "super" and fabulous" all the time.

"What's she like?" Billy keeps asking.
"In time, in time" is all Kevin can reply.

In the end he resorts to a singing a wordless melody to describe her. "oh, I see - she must be something" goes Billy. "I don't speak Italian myself....but I knew a man who did" Kevin summarises. Err...quite.

It's hilarious, stunning and bang on the mark. Looking forward to more of the same on their forthcoming album.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Check Your Head

I was thinking of this album earlier today and wanted to get home to listen to it. A friend had just posted an adapted version of the album cover online (renaming the album 'check your shoes', relating to his inability to leave the house with matching footwear) and I had So What'cha Want running through my mind.. .

Then, a couple of hours later the tragic news came through that MCA had died. Now, normally when someone dies I see a handful of comments amongst my friends online paying their respects and not much else. However, in this instance my news feed was immediately flooded with friends expressing their sadness at his passing - I've never seen so many people comment on someone in such a short space of time. It shows what a huge impact the Beastie Boys had - putting out a run of hugely entertaining, eclectic and innovative albums right up to last year's Hot Sauce Committee pt 2 - that moved so many of us.

Check Your Head just shades it for me as being their finest work, where they sound for the first time like a real band - or should I say like a dozen bands, such is the range of styles and genres they mesh together. It's one of my favourite albums from the last 20 years. Pass The Mic...