Tuesday, 28 October 2014

35 Inches of British Electric Foundation

After releasing the entirely instrumental Music for Stowaways / Music For Listening To album(s), the next step for the British Electric Foundation was an album of cover versions - Music of Quality and Distinction Volume 1. The album, which contained mostly-electronic interpretations of others' songs, featured a host of guest vocalists and also managed  to relaunch the career of Tina Turner (her version of Ball of Confusion here led to a further collaboration with Let's Stay Together).

Best of all - and the reason for me posting here - the album got a limited release as a 7" box set with each of the 10 tracks being split across five 7" singles, which makes it that tiny bit more enjoyable to listen to.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Well, this USED TO be clear vinyl...

Faust's debut album was released in 1971 on clear vinyl in a printed transparent sleeve; I bought it second hand at some point in the nineties for about £8. It was definitely clear then. In fact, the last time I listened to it (probably 4 or 5 years ago) it was still clear. So, when getting the record out a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to find it had transformed to this lovely brown marbled effect vinyl.

It seems as though the vinyl has reacted with the plastic sleeve causing this happen - can anyone give some sciencey type explanation for this? I'm not sure why it only happened after 40+ years and I'm sure some people would be distraught at the thought of a valuable record being 'ruined', but I think it looks great. Besides, I have plenty of other records that are clear vinyl (and yes, I've checked that they're all still OK).

Come to think of it, something similar happened with a Howard Jones picture disc I ownd back in 1985...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sacred Songs

This is the sort of album that people frequently flip past in record and charity shops, assuming that it's 'just' an album by that guy out of Hall and Oates. I've probably been guilty of that myself in the past until I learned of his collaborations with Robert Fripp (from hearing Fripp's Exposure album).

A lost classic - recorded in 1977, but shelved by the record label until they were persuaded to release it in 1980 - this album is allegedly the first proper use of the groundbreaking Frippertronics tape delay system that Robert Fripp pioneered. The best example being on the bonkers, and wonderfully jarring, Babs and Babs.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Friday, 22 August 2014

Records I Forgot I Owned

#2 Spinform - Bryter Tysnaden 
Nope, no recollection of buying this one at all - I gave a slightly baffled look when I came across it as to exactly what it was. It's from 2006 and was clearly bought new - was it a present or did I buy it myself? Then I put it on and memories came flooding back - it's very much in the spirit of early Four tet, with a health dose of found sounds, acoustic guitars and pianos amidst the clicks and cuts. It could've easily been released this year. Its much better than a lot of records I never forgot about.

Records I Forgot I Owned

#1Microdisney - Everybody is Fantastic
It's inevitable - you buy a lot of records and some fall to the back of your mind.
I can't recall when I bought this, the 1983 debut by Microdisney, but what I do know is that it offers the best advice on the back cover: "For optimum listening pleasure, please listen to this record at least four times". I'm glad I took note as I was distinctly underwhelmed with it at first, but by the 3rd or 4th listen the beauty of the songs began to shine through.
It's always a joy to hear someone singing in their own accent too.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Life Without Buildings

So good to see 'Any Other City', the sole album by Life Without Bulidings, get a re-release and reappraisal earlier this year.

For years I have found this album utterly enchanting and it frequently draws me back in for repeated listening. I still have no idea what vocalist (can I call her a singer? Is what she does classed as singing?) Sue Tomkins is on about, but that is an intrinsic part of the charm. The whole thing gives me an image of Bow Wow Wow's Annabella Lwin musing over backing tracks created by seminal post rock band Aerial M, with a health dose of post punk thrown in for good measure.

Friday, 11 April 2014

It's Album Review Time

Finally, the debut album by Todd Terje. It's very good. 
Starting off, as all albums should, by announcing that it is 'album time' he then eases into a vaguely Latino lounge groove, after which things steadily morph into Space Disco Prog heaven.

There's also the stunning cosmic electro pop ballad cover of Robert Palmer's Johnny and Mary that everyone (well, a couple of people) are banging on about.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Another Green World

"Tim, can I borrow your Eno record?"

"Can you Borrow it? You've still got it from last time. I've given up trying to steal it back."

No, not me, but a scene from Richard Lowenstein's cult classic 1986 movie, Dogs in Space. This was my first introduction to to Eno's Another Green World. Tim's copy of the album gets appropriated by one house mate as his music of choice whenever he brings a new girl back to the house – we then get to hear that sleazy electronic sounds of Skysay throbbing through the walls as he entices yet another victim into his lair, which becomes an ongoing theme throughout the film.

Is it my favourite Eno album? Well it was - and then it wasn't - but now it is again. I've started listening to it a lot over the last few months. The perfect halfway point between Rock and Ambient music - with both styles sitting comfortably alongside each other. The album stands up as arguably Eno's finest achievement and one of the great (sort of) rock albums.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Resource Centre - Low Fantasy EP

I've just been sent this wonderful new release, due out next week on The Geography Trip records - Low Fantasy by The Resource Centre.

Billed as an EP but, with 6 tracks clocking in at over 40 minutes, I'm happy to look on this as an album. I mean, you never viewed Script For A Jester's Tear as an EP did you? Not that I'm saying you should use Marillion as a benchmark for defining things as albums or EPs but it was the first thing that sprang to mind.  Maybe I should've thought about it a bit more and said something more credible like Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk. Yes, that's got 6 tracks too and is about 40 minutes long I think... Anyway, I digress, and this sounds like neither.
What we have is a set of beautiful and occasionally unnerving tunes, sometimes playing out like a stripped back electronic Philip Glass score. The perfect music to play in your child's nursery as they drift of into dreams of bubby rabbits and dark moving shadows.

The title track kicks things off as they mean to go on, floating on a sea of keyboard tranquility, which finally drifts away to be replaced by what sounds like a light breeze blowing against a microphone.

The Hour Angle (The Sun, It Rises Everywhere) opens with a looping melody backing a woman reading some poem about a cinnamon bird and three legged crow, before evolving into some form of pagan electronic folk. Then we have High Fantasy - the almost title track - which is possibly Low Fantasy slowed down and played backwards. Its certainly something backwards.

I also thought there were an overwhelming number of beautiful bird songs interweaving with the synths and harmonics throughout the final track, Slow Release Energy, but then I realised that, although there are some on the track, the rest was provided by a couple of blackbirds in a tree outside . It sounded awesome, so if you want a remix doing then give me a call and I'll stick a microphone out of the window.

Anyway, it's available as a download or limited vinyl 'with old tea cards of British birds' from the label's website.

I've just read the description on the label's website: "For fans of: ...Birdwatching...". Maybe those blackbirds were onto something.

This is Lone Justice - The Vaught Tapes

Remembered more for a number one song she didn't particularly like and a number one song she wrote but gave to someone else, there's a lot of hidden treasures in the career of Maria McKee. This new album of previously unreleased recordings by Lone Justice from 1983 being a case in point. A raw set of recordings that capture the energy of the band more than either of their albums did (much as I loved them). A great blend of rock'n'roll'n'country'n'whiskey.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Juicy Fruit

I can't say I'm a fan of the music - this is by far the worst Isaac Hayes album I've heard - but...oh my, what a sleeve! So bad it's good. Words can't do it justice.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Mouse on Mars - Autoditacker

It's hard to believe this album came out almost 17 years ago.
I've just given it the first listen in a year or so and it's staggering how fresh, innovative and mesmerising the music still sounds, as if I've once again heard it for the first time.
Chances are you could say that about most MoM albums...

Friday, 24 January 2014

Electronic Music To Blow Your Mind By!!!

A Pot Full of Psychedelic Pop!

The Love Machine's sole release was offered up in 1968 and could easily have been lost amidst a plethora of budget-priced cheesy listening albums rush released by record labels to exploit the first summer of love.

What saves it is that they had the good fortune to land just the right side of naff by immersing the music in some heavy reverb, allowing it to come across as a mysterious band of freaks armed with guitars, organs, a talent for great song titles ("The Shadows of Vibrate", Inner Ear Freakout") and a desire to create the ultimate 60s sci fi TV theme tune.

Oh, and what a great sleeve.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Mogwai - Rave Tapes

The title and artwork hint at a Saturday night party album, but things couldn't be further from the truth. What we have here is arguably - soundtracks aside - Mogwai's most elegant and restrained album to date.

Opening track, Heard About You Last Night, sets out their stall. Picking up from where the Les Revenants soundtrack left us, the hauntingly beautiful track is underpinned by a tranquil keyboard.

The band have always embraced technology and electronics to complement their music, but this is their most overtly electronic album, with synths having equal footing  alongside the guitars and occasionally being given centre stage. Take Remurdered - the track that they previewed online last year - brooding and teasing, the keyboards support the guitar until midway through, where the guitars are usurped by an uplifiting, exquisite synth riff. Simon Ferocious emphasises the electronic side of the band even more but takes us into much darker territory whilst distorted guitars cry out for attention in the background.

It's not all synths though - Hexon Blogon does exactly what you'd expect from a Mogwai track, whilst Repelish updates the formula with the recording of someone discussing Stairway To Heaven and satanic messages in music, coming across as a less abrasive relative of Slint's seminal Spiderland album.

And that just a review of side one...

Fans hoping for a Like Herod or Glasgow Mega-Snake are going to be disappointed, but there's plenty for the rest of us to feast on. Still very Mogwai, yet pushing their own boundaries - frequently a very mellow, enjoyable experience whilst still retaining their edge and finding beauty in the darkness. This is something you're more likely to listen to in the small hours after a rave rather than at one.

Oh, and there's a  lovely free 7" single,  featuring the track Tell Everybody That I Love Them, if you buy the album from an independent record shop. 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Bad Lyrics

I'm sure fans will rush to the defence of many of these lyrics with an excuse - "they mean blasting gelatin", "it's northern dialect"...but I'm not convinced. These are some of my favourite lyrical cock ups*...some great and not so great tunes.

Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
"Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town". How exciting. Where in this town could it be? The jail perhaps?

Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues
"I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die". Then why are you stuck in Folsom Prison (in California) when Reno is in Nevada?

Busted - Year 3,000
"and your great, great, great granddaughter is pretty fine". 5 generations spanning a millennium? Actually, given the advances in science, it's quite possible this could happen and either people will live to be 200 or one of these descendents will be cryogenically frozen. Maybe the song is much deeper than I gave them credit for.

Queen - Killer Queen
"Gunpowder, gelatine, dynamite with a laser beam". All pretty dangerous 'killer' items. Except for gelatine, which you use to make Turkish Delight. Gelignite would have been a more effective weapon.

Wah! - The Story of the Blues (Talkin' Blues)
"I remember something Sal Paradise said, he said 'the city intellectuals of the world are divided from the folk body blood of the land and are just ruthless fools' ". Wonderful, if slighty pretentious, literary reference by Pete Wylie to Jack Kerouac's On The Road. However, the quote was actually from another Kerouac character - Jack Duluoz from Vanity of Duluoz.

Labrinth and Emeli Sandé - Beneath Your Beautiful
Just the title... Beneath Your Beautiful what? Oh, do you mean you're? According to Labrinth this was done on purpose to annoy 'grammar Nazis'. Of course it was Labrinth, of course it was. He also apparently got the name Labrinth when looking through a dictionary - presumably one that doesn't include the letter y.

The Chemical Brothers & Noel Gallagher - Let Forever Be
"How does it feel like to let forever be?". Or does he mean what does if feel like?

Alanis Morissette - Ironic
The biggest irony is that she clearly doesn't understand what irony is.

*I'm certainly no great lyricist, I don't claim to be a master of the English language - I was going to include Instinction by Spandau Ballet, but I understand it is actually a proper word, used by those for whom just saying instinct isn't enough - and I haven't read Vanity of Duluoz, but if you can't laugh at something as ridiculous as music, what can you laugh at?