Friday, 27 July 2012

What does music look like?

So, I ran the...err...classic Aphex Twin tune that goes by the name of
∆Mᵢ⁻¹=−α ∑ Dᵢ[η][ ∑ Fjᵢ[η−1]+Fextᵢ [η⁻¹]]
              η=1            j∈C{ᵢ}
through a spectrograph to see what it "looks" like. I read about this around the time that the track was originally released, but only now have I decided to test it out for myself.

Anyway, approximately 5:27 into the track (i.e. near the end), the visualisation of the track looks like this....
...which isn't scary at all is it?

And here's a link to the sound that makes this image... A bit of Aphex Twin's [Formula]

Friday, 13 July 2012

2012 - Half time

When did 6-monthly music reviews become acceptable? What was wrong with end of year charts? Everyone seems to be publishing a "best of the year...so far" list at the moment - damn the internet, blogging and people's obsession with having an opinion.

Anyway, I WILL NOT MISS OUT ON THIS, so I've made a non-definitive rundown of some good to great albums of the last 6 months, based on what I've heard and what mood I'm in right now.

I feel sorry for the July-December albums - when do they get a chart of their own?


Where have you been?
Dexys - One Day I'm Going to Soar
To come back with possibly the best album of the year (so far) and of your career after 27 years is some feat.
Ultravox - Brilliant
This would make a great 9 track album. It's 12 tracks long. It may be patchy, but when it's good, it's very very VERY good.

Music that brings a smile to my face...
The 2 Bears - Be Strong
This has really given Hot Chip something to think about. It's just waiting for a summer to soundtrack
Orbital - Wonky
Especially for the 'arms in the air' final track. Reassuringly Orbitalesque.

So old it's new...
Can - The Lost Tapes
"but this is all old music, so it doesn't really count". It's old music that hasn't been released before, so it DOES count. It's my list.

New kids on the block...
Okay, so they're not technically new bands, but this is the first music I've heard by them. But well done to you if you heard of them before me.
Dead Mellotron - Glitter
I've only just bought this, so I may revise my opinion if I'm bored of it in 6 months time, but this post-shoegaze music sounds pretty good so far. It's released on Sonic Cathedral records and comes on clearish vinyl in a lovely glitter sleeve.
Pond - Beard, Wives, Denim
As a great DJ recently said: coming from the Flaming Lips school of Psychedelic Rock.
Not an album, but an EP that is so good I couldn't leave it out. See my earlier blog and the rest of the internet for more details.

More ideas than most bands manage in a lifetime...
Field Music - Plumb
Along with Dexys, a contender for best album of the year. It really has to be listened to in one sitting - not in a pretentious "ooh there's a concept to this album" way, more because some of the tracks sound like three songs in one, so it's hard to tell when a new song really does begin. Also, special mention for their Actually, Nearly 7" of Pet Shop Boys Covers.

Ouch....my brain hurts...
The Flaming Lips - Heady Fwends
Reigning in the sonic experimentation of Embryonic for this round up of collaborative recordings they've made over the last year. When I say "reigning in", this is the Flaming Lips and it's all relative.

Like an old friend, someone you can rely on...
Julian Cope - Psychedelic Revolution
This would be an even better album if he didn't swear so much so I could listen to it when my daughter is about.
Barry Adamson - I Will Set You Free 
Gone are the days of making soundtracks for imaginary films (he makes his own films now and then soundtracks them). Here is an album of 21st Century Soul.
Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Exactly what you would expect from Spiritualized - i.e. like the Velvet Underground in space.

If only they were signed to Warp Records...
Mouse on Mars - Parastrophies
...then they'd get the credit and reverence that they deserve. Another astonisingly unique album from MOM.

Someone who is signed to Warp Records...
Squarepusher - Infabulum
Do you know Squarepusher? If so, you'll like this.

The "It surprised me too" album...
The Maccabees - Given To The Wild
Apparently they were "Landfill Indie" a few years ago, now they are sounding like Arcade Fire jamming with Foals. Brian Eno should produce them.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The lost blog... 2011 - 21 albums

I found this unfinished and neglected blog post saved as a draft. In the spirit of bands releasing warts'n'all archive recordings of previously unreleased material, here is the blog as I found it - no remastering, editing or remixing has taken place...

Originally written December 2011:

A non-definitive list of recommended albums from 2011. I've deliberately omitted PJ Harvey from the list because you're probably sick of everyone telling you how good the album is.

Anyway, here it is, in alphabetical order as usual. Maybe you'll like some of them...

Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
AM go "pop"? Their best album yet? A return to form? (answers: "not quite", "possibly" and "no, they never lost it - Humbug was a great album"). Whatever the critics might have said, this is certainly more accessible than previous efforts and the influence of Richard Hawley and the 60s is apparent on a number of these tracks.

Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part 2
or "Hot Sauce Committee with a slightly amended tracklisting". This covers pretty much all bases for the Beastie Boys, from the punk-hop of "Lee Majors Comes Again" to the classic BB sound of "Make Some Noise", via the smoker's delight that is "Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament".

Bibio – Mind Bokeh
Bibio makes "lovely" music don't you think? Even when he's doing his best Phil Lynott impression on "Take Off Your Shirt". Get the limited edition packaging, get your cameras out and make your own Bokeh. Eh?

James Blake – James Blake
Seen as a disappointment by those who thought it was uncool for James Blake to be good looking and to start singing on his records. The rest of it thought it was a beautiful, bold, sparse effort. And as for the bass when I saw him live at the Green Man Festival....

Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Adding a couple of layers of keyboards and effects to his sound was a brave move, but it works - I guess that's what happens when you hang out with Kanye West for too long. "Beth/Rest" in particular is stunning, sounding like the sort of tune you'd listen late on a summers evening.

Euros Childs – Ends
The seventh solo album in 6 years from Euros was a stripped back affair, featuring just vocals and piano on the majority of tracks. He's reigned in his "messing about as if no one is going to hear the results" approach to songwriting to put together his second fully coherent set of tunes of the year.

Julian Cope – The JEHOVAHCOAT Demos
A set of (previously) unreleased material from the Autogeddon era. Mostly instrumental, this could have easily fallen into his classic "Rite" series of albums - sounding like a threeway fight between Funkadelic, Can and Hawkwind.

Destroyer – Kaputt
Those lazy comparisons with Sade from some corners of the music press didn't really do anyone any favours did they? I can't imagine many Sade fans liking this album. Yeah, it's got saxophones on it and it sounds "a bit 80s", but it's probably got more in common with Leonard Cohen's classic "I'm Your Man" than Diamond Life. Here's what I said about it earlier this year: Destroyer - Kaputt

Baxter Dury – Happy Soup
Sounding more and more like his dad, this is a collection of three minute new wave pop nuggets.

The Field - Looping State of Mind
Is this as good as 2009's "Yesterday and Today"? I've not listened to it enough yet, but the early signs are promising...

Ford and Lopatin – Channel Pressure
I remember being laughed at for buying the first Zoot Woman album in 2001 - it (and me) being seen as taking irony a step too far with that whole 80s sound. But that album now seems so ahead of it's time with 80's sound. Anyway, this album doesn't really sound like Zoot Woman other than the dreamy vocals

Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
Didn't really have a lot to say about this at the time, other than I liked it. This review seems to sum it up... Holy Ghost

Jonny – Jonny
Euros Childs (Gorky's Zygotic Mynci) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub). Sadly their ode to Gloria Estefan didn't make it onto the album

Junior Boys – It’s All True

Low – C’Mon

Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
The great forgotton album of 2011? I don't think I've seen this in any "best of the year" lists yet, which is a massive oversight because this is one of Mogwai's finest yet. "limited" copies included the stunningly beautiful 23-minute "Music for a forgotten future".

Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica
What he said: Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica

Peaking Lights – 936
The aural equivalent of a half forgotten memory of a summer spent listing to a radio station playing dub, post punk and Saint Etienne.

Gruff Rhys – Hotel Shampoo
Sounds just as you would expect from Gruff Rhys.

Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk – Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk
After the disappointing (to me) "Goodbye" album, it was nice to find Mr Schnauss returning to his classic Slowdive vs OMD sound.

Soft Metals - Soft Metals
I wish this had been the new Human League album, rather than the it-has-it's-moments-but-note-enough-of-them album they did release.

Suuns – Zeroes QC

Wilco – The Whole Love
Containing some of their poppiest tunes since "Summerteeth" and most out there moments since "A Ghost Is Born"

Wooden Shjips - West
More of the same, but different. There's a grand total of two chords on this album - both of 'em good uns.