Friday, 30 August 2013

Mother of Pearl

My favourite Roxy Music tune - sonically and lyrically a masterpiece, proving that Eno and Roxy Music were perhaps both better off for going their separate ways.

Listening to this on headphones I could lose myself forever, endlessly dissecting all that is going on in this tune.

Turn the lights dow
(Way down low)
Turn up the music
(Hi as Fi can go)
All the gang's here
(Everyone you know)
It's a crazy scene
(Hey there just look over your shoulder)
Get the picture?
(No no no no) Yes
Walk a tightrope
(Your life-sign-line)
Such a bright hope
(Right place, right time)
What's your number?
(Never you mind)
Take a powder
(But hang on a minute, what's coming round the corner?)
Have you a future?
(No no no no)  Yes

Well, I've been up all night again
Party time wasting is too much fun
Then I step back thinking
Of life's inner meaning and my latest fling

It's the same old story
All love and glory, it's a pantomime
If you're looking for love
In a looking glass world
It's pretty hard to find

Oh, mother of pearl
I wouldn't trade you
For another girl

Divine intervention
Always my intention
So I take my time
I've been looking for something
I've always wanted but was never mine
But now I've seen that something
Just out of reach glowing very Holy grail

Oh, mother of pearl
Lustrous lady of a sacred world

Thus even Zarathustra
Another time loser
Could believe in you
With every Goddess a let down
Every idol a bring down, it gets you down
But the search for perfection
Your own predilection
Goes on and on and on and on

Canadian Club love
A place in the Country
Everyone's ideal
But you are my Favorita
And a place in your heart, dear
Makes me feel more real

Oh, Mother of Pearl
I wouldn't change you
For the whole world

You're highbrow, holy
With lots of soul
Melancholy shimmering
Serpentine sleekness
Was always my weakness
Like a simple tune
But no dilettante, filigree fancy
Beats the plastic you

Career girl cover
Exposed and another
Slips right into view
Oh, looking for love
In a looking glass world
Is pretty hard for you

Few throwaway kisses
The boomerang misses
Spin round and round
Fall on featherbed quilted
Faced with silk
Softly stuffed eider down
Take refuge in pleasure
Just give me your future
We'll forget your past

Oh, Mother of Pearl
Submarine lover
In a shrinking world

Oh, lonely dreamer
Your choker provokes
A picture cameo

Oh, Mother of Pearl
So so semi precious
In your detached world

Oh, Mother of Pearl
I wouldn't trade you
For another girl

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Warm Digits - Interchange

Given that the Warm Digits' debut album contained the Kraftwerk ode Trans-Pennine Express, is only right that they get their own transportation system to soundtrack, namely the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Interchange is, according to the band's website, 'an album and experimental film inspired by images drawn from the Tyne and Wear Archives, of the 1970s’ biggest civil engineering project on Tyneside – the construction of Metro.'

The film (which can be seen as a set of videos for each of the album's tracks) is excellent, but the music stands alone as an exceptional album - there's nothing particularly new going on here, but what you do get is 6 tracks of fantastic analogue synths and some fairly funky, head nodding krautrock.

Anyway, it's now available as an 'art edition', which means 180g vinyl, DVD, lovely artwork and screen prints.

Set along to a tinny drum machine, Cut and Cover sends us straight into that familiar Neu/Harmonia riff until the three minute mark, at which point the drums, bass and fuzzed guitar kick in with a new melody, shortly followed by what sounds like half their synths breaking down.

Following this is Working For A Better Future, which has an altogether more frantic disco/ Punk Funk feel that wouldn't sound out of place on Simple Minds' classic Empires and Dance album, before kosmische keyboards and piano take us to the blissed out world of The Connected Coast.

At times the album reminds me of post rockers Trans Am or Holy Fuck with thunderous rhythms and overloaded guitar/keyboard workouts. You can imagine the conversations in the recording studio:
"I think this track is almost done - what else does it need?"
"More? More what?"
"More everything"

The album comes to a climax with the percussive Terminus, where a variety of instruments carry the main refrain until, just as you wonder where it's all going, an almighty life affirming melody comes crashing in to close the show. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Endless Heaven 17

I was never a big fan of cassettes - I probably never had a good enough cassette player to do them justice, so all I experienced was relatively low quality sound, which either had too much hiss or was muffled (courtesy of the Dolby button).

Oh, and there was no getting away from the fact that SOME TAPE PLAYERS PLAYED AT DIFFERENT SPEEDS - I got a shock when I first heard Sgt Pepper at the correct speed after a decade of hearing it being played slightly too fast.

Having said that, I still owned a few.

But there are probably only three albums that I have fond memories of on cassette - The Cure's Standing on a Beach (the singles on one side and their b-sides filling up 45 minutes on side 2), New Order's Substance (a whole extra tape of b-sides!) and this from 1986, Endless by Heaven 17.

Housed in a Factory Records style box, this 'best of' album didn't follow the traditional format of including the 7" version of the singles. H17 have always had one eye on the dancefloor ('special fortified dance mixes' and 'remixed to enhance its danceability' their 12”s proclaimed) and so it was  only right that they instead sequenced together an almost continuous mix of the 12" versions of their singles (plus the occasional b-side).  Containing an extra 4 tracks than the CD version - Play To Win, At The Height Of The Fighting, I'm Your Money and Song With No Name - this was the format to get.

The only downside, presumably because it was too slow, was the omission of Come Live With Me.

This was also, allegedly, the first non-vinyl album to chart in the UK, although I can't find any evidence to back this up - just summat I read somewhere.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Archiv 1: A Transparent CD

Sorting through some of my CDs, I stumbled upon this. Is it the first ever transparent CD? Come to think of it, how many other transparent CDs are there?

"Archiv 1" was compiled for, and came free with issue 238 (December 2003) of, The Wire Magazine, it's a collection of  beautiful minimalist glitch music (reminding me of the wonderful series of Clicks and Cuts albums released on the Mille Plateaux label) compiled by the German label Raster Noton - often sounding like slightly malfunctioning electronics ("what is that clicking noise?") and with high frequencies that are likely to upset your pets.

Reading through the list of artists featured on the CD isn't so much a who's who of electronic music, more a "who?!", with Robert Lippok being arguably the most famous artist on the album. 

It comes in a nice transparent bag with a transparent plastic sheet containing the track listing.