Monday, August 31, 2009

Mungos HiFi/Phokus & Mr Boogie - Tweeky/The Infect 12"

Germany's dub imprint Police In Helicopter roll it out white vinyl style with a juicy riddim from Mungo's Hi-Fi backed with a darkside dubstep piece from Phokus and Mr Boogie.

Mungo's 'Tweeky' generates heat with clipped polyrhthms and turbo charged bass.

Phokus and Boogie come in hard and heavy on the flip with a rave track built from Acidbass turbulence and low-riding halfstep patterns.


Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps


Millie & Andrea - 3x12"

A sort of mutant 2-Step/Techno/Wonky mashup produced with all the sharpened low-end brilliance you'd rightfully expect from two producers at the very top of their game. Ok, so they're not really called Millie, or Andrea, but it really isn't any big secret who's behind this twelve and if you look closely enough, all the information's there!

The second salvo on the Daphne label sees Millie flying solo for two tracks of deep and barely managable bass flamboyance to mess with yo minds. As opposed to the more temperamental ruffage of Daphne001, this second salvo opens with a more woozy agenda in mind on "Sample Clearance", substituting menace with space for a squashed variation that keeps things deep and heavy in a Hessle Audio meets Chain Reaction sort of way. "Path To Hell" on the flipside revolves around percussive fragments with a hauntological agenda - ghostly, almost-there loops oozing out the auditory remnants of the entire ardkore continuum dissolving into a smoky, narcotic haze.

Third limited edition transmission from the Daphne label, once again finding covert operators Millie and Andrea nudging the controls further into the red with two squashed and deadly killers primed for the dance. Andrea takes charge of the A-side with a raved-up low-end wrecker complete with big f*ck-off sunset strings and a tumbling break that's one half junglist hardcore and one half peak-time dubside anthem. Millie, meanwhile, delivers a spacious woodblock destroyer on the flip, channelling Martyn and T++ with radiant blue chords and murderous stabs before a frenzied analogue bassline lets itself loose nudging towards the end.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Balanescu Quartet - Michael Nyman String Quartets 1-3

Long out of print recording of the Balenescu Quartet playing the first three of Nyman's string quartets.

The Balanescu Quartet album "Maria T" is one of the most requested things I have ever posted, so hopefully this will find a place in the hearts of some of you.

Typically intricate and beautiful Nyman pieces here get wonderfully interpreted by Balanescu and his group. All three quartets are terrific, but my personal favourite is the third, which is based upon the choral piece, "Out Of The Ruins" which Nyman wrote to aid the rebuilding following the 1988 earthquake in Armenia. Life and death are duly celebrated and mourned.

Emotionally intense but ultimately uplifting.

320 Kbps.


Richard X - Richard X Presents His X Factor Vol. 1

This isn’t music for the clubs, not really. This is music for the week after the night out. X Factor runs the full gamut of post-clubbing emotions. It’s all there - the joy, the disappointment, the comedown, the guilt, the hangover, the half-remembered or semi-recognisable snatches of music, and most importantly, that “YES!” moment when in the cold light of day you once again come across that awesome tune from 3am on a packed dancefloor and wonder what you ever did without it. And, of course, the bit when you get ready to go and do it all over again.

It’s a party album as well, of course, and a fantastic one at that. What else would you expect from an album containing two of the finest pop singles of the decade – The Sugababes “Freak Like Me” and Liberty X’s “Being Nobody”? Superficially bootlegs, both were significantly greater than the sum of their parts, a thrilling endorsement of the art of playing two records over one another, already timeless pop gems that belie the notion that the scene they emerged from was nothing but a passing fad.

There are a handful of tracks here that are even better. “Rock Jacket” is the floor-filler the Chemical Brothers have tried and ultimately failed to make on their last couple of records – colossal panning synths, old-school hip-hop samples, vocoders and a slice of Spandau Ballet’s ‘Chant No 1’. “You Used To,” meanwhile, ropes in Girls Aloud cast-off Javine for a sublime five minutes of slick, 80s, closely-harmonised electro-soul.

But the sadness, when it falls, is immediate. “Just Friends” features the voice of the mysterious Annie leaving a personal phone ad. God knows who’s likely to answer. “Are you single?” she asks. “I’m only looking for a friend, or friends right now. Maybe if we’ll get on, we’ll love,” but there’s little hope in her voice. She sounds broken, defeated. It’s the loneliness at the heart of “You Used To” magnified tenfold, but what really gets you is the production – it’s like everything that’s gone before turned in on itself, mournful synths intertwined with distant choirs and the sound of a thousand machines dying slowly in the background.

Such is the spell cast by the three and a half minute lull of “Just Friends” that “Lonely”, a disappointingly clunky collaboration with ex-Soul II Soul singer Caron Wheeler, feels like a rude awakening. It’s also a shame because twinned with “Just Friends,” X’s understated, deadpan cover of “Walk On By” would have formed a superbly chilly centrepiece. Ex-Flying Lizards vocalist Deborah Evans takes centre stage, but once again your ears can’t keep drifting off to the periphery - past the glockenspiels and synthetic string flourishes to where waves, seagulls, metallic clanking and distant bells drift in and out of the mix. It’s the sound of being stranded, hungover, sleep-deprived, heartbroken and miles from home with only the sound of daytime Radio 4 for company. But oddly beautiful with it.

Conceptual theorising aside, the main reason for this mid-album lull is that Richard X is canny enough not to blow his load too soon. If “Just Friends” and “Walk On By” represent an enjoyable, deliberate trough, its made all the better for knowing the peak is yet to come. And what a peak! It begins with “Lemon/Lime”, a likeable electro freakout that memorably rhymes ‘armageddon’ with ‘David Sneddon’, then careens straight into “Finest Dreams” on which Kelis does her irresistible disco thing over the ubiquitous Human League samples, then gatecrashes the party, takes over the dancefloor and watches its collective jaw drop.

But the album’s real ‘YES!’ track is “You Better Let Me Love You” – an awesome peak-of-the-DJ-set stormer featuring tremendous swaggering vocals from Tiga. “I’m the kind of guy”, he intones filthily, “who always gets what he wants… You’d better let me love you.” If you’re not at least nodding your head furiously by the time the chorus kicks in you’d better check your pulse. One day someone will get Tiga and Kelis on a track together, and watch the sparks fly when they do.

By the time Tiga makes way for the Sugababes, we’ve reached a plateau. “Freak Like Me” sounds as vital as it ever did, like the long-anticipated anthem at the end of Richard X’s triumphant homecoming gig, before Jarvis Cocker and “Into U” takes you gently back to earth again. It’s a gorgeous closer, Jarvis playing the suave lover with the disembodied voice of Hope Sandoval, sampled here from the chorus of “Fade Into You”. It sounds so natural it’s almost hard to believe they weren’t in the same room together. In fact, when listening to X-Factor its easy to forget that so much of it was put together from bits of old Human League and Gary Numan and Chaka Khan and Mazzy Star records – Richard X’s genius lies in fusing it all into one of the most satisfying, coherent and just plain enjoyable records ever.


Underworld - Pearl's Girl

One of the many versions of the "Pearl's Girl" single.

This is CD2 of the re-release and features the following tracks:

1. "Pearl's Girl (Tin There)" - 8:11
2. "Puppies" - 3:53
3. "Born Slippy" - 8:57

The "Tin There" version of the track was used on the "WipE'out 2097" soundtrack. "Born Slippy" is the original instrumental version.

320 Kbps.


Erol Alkan & Boy's Noize - Waves/Death Suite 12"

"Absolutely massive 12" here as Erol Alkan finally makes his recording debut alongside Boys Noize, and could you really get a bigger pair-up? Sure we've had a fair few remixes in the past from Erol, but nothing with his name at the front until now, and considering how fantastic those remixes and re-edits have been, it's definitely something that's long, long overdue. First of all "Waves" is a H.U.G.E. Acid-banger with some trancey overtones at the beginning (in the best possible way) and a Rush-tastic peak before it comes on even stronger, with some Smith n Hack style Acid editing. This is motorways ahead of your standard Electro-House fare and has classic written all over it. On the flip "Death Suite" is THE sweaty Rave beast right now, vibing like Mr. Oizo remixing Phuture, the Acid is matched this time with constantly switching drums and constantly Huger basslines, snippets of Vocals and the best ADD editing since the days of Osymyso (5 points if you remember him). In the current dearth of forward thinking AND seriously banging club music these tracks stand out head shoulders, torso and legs above everything else right now, totally essential stuff."


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Alan Bennett - Hymn

Alan Bennett is a long-time hero of mine, a dubious honour that he shares with his ex Beyond The Fringe partner, Peter Cook. Unlike Cook though, Bennett was/is prolific, having by now amassed a body of work that is uniformly excellent. A wide ranging writer and performer effortlessly straddling the stage, screen and literature, it's his autobiographical volumes that I find the most affecting.

"To mark their 30th anniversary, the Medici Quartet asked composer George Fenton and Bennett to collaborate on a piece for performance at the Harrogate International Festival. The result was "Hymn", a meditative piece, by turns funny and melancholy, in which Bennett looks at the part which music played in his childhood, at his father's doomed attempts to teach him the violin, and at what hymns mean to him now.

"The illustrative suite for strings draws on a range of musical references including Elgar, Delius and several well-known hymns.

"Recorded in front of an audience at the BBC Radio Theatre, Hymn is prefaced by an introduction from the author."

I'd not listened to this for a long time, but dug it out to listen to while on holiday this week. It's a typically beautiful and moving piece by Bennett, thrown into relief by some lovely music from Fenton.

As ever with Bennett, there's a lump in my throat and something in my eye. I wouldn't have it any other way.

320 Kbps.


Apple - Mr. Bean 12"

Absolutely great skeletal and furious UK Funky 12". Tough stepping beats topped off with a pair of stoopid/deadly riffs - subtly different on each of the two mixes.

I can't get enough of this UK Funky stuff at the moment and this twelve in particular has been getting some serious punishment over the last few months. I'm finding the current UK dubstep/grime/funky scene endlessly fascinating, with not only several key players releasing a stream of innovative and attention grabbing records, but loads of more obscure producers like this that are really doing it for me.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

Mr. Bean (Rapidshare)


Friday, August 28, 2009

On Holiday. Back Soon.

I'm experimenting with mobile blogging while I'm away!

Back soon though, so expect some posts over the next few days.

It's good to be back. Thanks to all who have left words of encouragement.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ivor Slaney - Terror/Prey: The Original Unreleased Soundtracks

Original scores to Norman J. Warren's '78 and '79 low budget horror flicks 'Terror' and 'Prey' composed by Ivor Slaney.

One of the first things to strike you is that this is a quintessentially English horror soundtrack, with a slightly more reserved brand of menacing drama that you generally wouldn't find in the brilliant but often garish Goblin scores to the films of Dario Argento, which directly inspired 'Terror'.

The first half of the disc devoted to 'Terror' displays an unusually lo-fi and minimal electronic sound from Slaney who is better known for his full blown orchestral scores, but manages to refine his craft for a lean and tense accompaniment to the film. 'Prey' follows this with a spectacularly uneasy and sinister score, full of minimal minor key synth moods interspersed with dramatic funk, arcane pianos and one nugget of folk soul featuring Genesis backing singer Val McKenna.


New Musik - Living By Numbers 7"

Wikipedia: New Musik [were] a synthpop band that performed from 1979 to 1982. Following their debut hit single "Straight Lines" in 1979, the band had three UK Top 40 hits in 1980 (and a #1 hit in France), releasing three albums: From A To B (1980), Anywhere (1981) and Warp (1982). The group also released a compilation album for the United States in 1981 known as Sanctuary which consisted of tracks from the first two albums. After the demise of GTO Records, New Musik quietly disbanded (although never officially). Their early works helped define the archetypal sound of the 80s.

"Living By Numbers" is an heroically silly slice of 80's technopop, that owes a large debt to The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star".

More on Tony Mansfield, the brains behind New Musik, here and here.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Juno Reactor - Luciana

Inter-Modo was an ambient imprint which was set up and briefly headed by Alex Paterson of The Orb in 1994. There are only three releases proper on the label of which this is the second. The first is the Robert Fripp collaboration, "FFWD" and the third is "Mettle" by Autocreation.

This is the best of the three, I reckon. In fact, I'd rate this up there as one of the finest immersive ambient works I've ever heard and it's still sounding fantastic today - unlike so many of the ambient albums from the mid 90's boom period, which now sound horribly dull and dated in comparison. Perhaps the secret of this one is the distinctly dark shadows it casts as it unfurls over the course of its 60 minutes.

Initially Juno Reactor consisted of Ben Watkins and Stefan Holwick who collaborated to produce an intense experimental ambient soundtrack to go along with performance and sculpture artist Norma Fletcher's "The Missile Project". Their debut album, "Transmissions" was a more beats driven affair, but this second album was a much braver and interesting release, comprised of the reworked tracks created for "The Missile Project".

320 Kbps.


Atheus/Relapxych.00 - Shapes/Phases 12"

Pleasing dub techno and deep ambient split 12" from straight outta... er... Sweden.

I'm afraid I can't give you much detail about this one other than to point you in the direction of the Discogs page.

I've taken to falling to sleep to this over the last few weeks, so that should give you an indication of what to expect. It is lovely though.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Elton John - Are You Ready For Love 12"

In one of those grinding gear changes that I hope (if anything) this place was/is known for, following some underground noise, how about a bit of classic Elton.

7 Minutes 42 Seconds of pure, sweet bliss. The fact that he was capable of throwing this stuff out to an uninterested public at the height of the cocaine years stands testament to his genius. Or is proof positive that all the best music is made by horrible people under the influence of drugs. I'm not sure which.

The Freeform Five Remix on the flip makes a decent stab of stirring in some contemporaneous flavours, but really, what's the point? How can you improve on perfection?

And obviously I'm making no attempt to defend the portly little stately homo that he has become these days, but back in the day, Jesus, the dude scaled the heights for sure.

I am ready for love, Elton. Yes I am.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.


Sunn O))) & Pansonic/Alan Vega/Stephen Burroughs - Limited Blast First 10"

The hooded ones touch branch wands with the unsmiling Finlanders for six epic minutes. Joe Preston intones the incantation as inscribed by the seer, Vega. Sky's crack, lightning bolts rend the sky, Valkyries ride the storm.

Flip the disc, 13 Crosses, 16 Blazin' Skulls. Sci-Fi electronic metal machine music. A live in hell 2008 version of a song first heard on Vega's cruelly ignored 2007 album "Station". Lost soulman of the Black Country, Stephen Burroughs, sometime head of "Head of David". Gira-esque acoustic moves are the result.

White vinyl 10".

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.


The Time and Space Machine - Children Of The Sun 7"

New 7" two tracker from Richard Norris' Time and Space Machine outfit. Expect cracking, driving psyche/dance hybrids with glorious Sixties vocals.

As ever, good vibes are the order of the day. And there ain't nothin' wrong with that.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


I know. I know.

I'm still not capable of coming back full time just yet, but I'll be tweeting some stuff for a few weeks to see how it goes. To be honest I don't know where the fuck I'm going with this stuff at the moment.

While I'm here, and if anyone is still talking to me, is there someone who could offer some assistance with a redesign for the blog?

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