Sunday, December 27, 2009

Plone - For Beginner Piano

Plone were part of the same midlands "Retro Futurist" enclave that spawned Broadcast, Fridge and Pram at the tail end of the Nineties. Although it's difficult to tell at this distance how much of a scene there actually was, or whether as frequently happens, a bunch of different groups with different approaches but a broadly similar sound came to prominence at the same time and were lumped together by the music press. It always amuses me to note how much the bands in question hate it whenever this happens.

Anyway, whatever the truth, Plone were a bunch of guys who had moved away from more traditional guitar based approaches to more keyboard and sampler based sounds. An interview with them is online here and predictably enough, based upon the intricate and refined music they made, reveals them to be inward looking geeks and gear-heads. That isn't intended to be a criticism.

It's probably fair to say that this is one of my favourite electronic albums ever. Taking it's cues from John Barry-esqe spy movie themes and the now commonplace influences of the radiophonic workshop and assorted library music weirdos, this is music with a vision that was truly ahead of its time while being totally inspired by the past. It was, if you will, retro futurist.

There's a classic early cyber-punk short story by William Gibson called "The Gernsback Continuum" which left a massive impression on me and with which I have always associted this album. If I can quote from Wikipedia in order to illustrate:
"The Gernsback Continuum" is a short story by William Gibson about a photographer who has been given the assignment of photographing old, futuristic architecture. This architecture, although largely forgotten at the time of the story, embodied for the generation that built it their concept of the future.

During his assignment to photograph 1930s era futuristic architecture, Parker begins to realize a "continuum," an alternate reality containing the possible future of the world represented by the architecture he is photographing – a future that could have been, but was not, thereby contrasting modernism to postmodern reality. Parker's glimpses of this fantastical utopian future, characterised by massive multi-lane highways, giant zeppelins and Aryan inhabitants become increasingly frequent and disturbing until, on the advice of a friend, he immerses himself deliberately in the grittiest 'realities' of our world (such as pornography and news stories about crime and war) that are at odds with the idealised world of Gernsback and others. Slowly the images fade to insubstantiality and the story ends with Parker able to ignore the sight of a nearly transparent flying wing. Parker realizes that he would rather live in world characterized by pornography, crime and random events than that of Gernsback continuum.
While always fully understanding the reasons for seeking out a grittier reality, the appeal of this album and that of related works such as the early releases of Broadcast has always transported me to this weird parallel reality where airships cross the blue sky and assignations with heavily accented, silver-suited brunettes with blood red lips take place under the Gothic towers of an Eastern European railway station. Basically, this intricate, beautiful music conjures places and times that are probably better than those we are experiencing now. From the Sparky's Magic Piano-isms of "Plock" to the wondorous closing salvo of "On My Bus", this is a an album I return to again and again and is a real Jewel in the crown of the Warp story.

Billy Bainbridge from Plone now works with Tim Felton of Broadcast as Seeland and have recently produced one of the albums of the year which I urge you to seek out if you haven't already. I cannot wait to see what comes next from them. Combined with the "Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age" which also appeared this year, this seam continues to be a rich one indeed.

Beautiful, spooky and a hugely innovative precursor to the whole Hauntological movement that is characterised by the Ghost Box label.

Don't miss.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Manic Street Preachers (Et Al) - Cooking, Cleaning And Flower Arranging

There are apparently no plans to release this record other than on this vinyl edition which is strictly limited to 300 copies.
"Cooking, Cleaning and Flower Arranging" collects 14 remixes specially commissioned for Manic Street Preachers highly acclaimed ninth album, 'Journal For Plague Lovers'.

When hand picking a list of remixers, the band asked that each producer did what they wanted with the album tracks. One remixer for each track on the record, covering styles as diverse a range of musical styles as they could hope to achieve. The resultant album acts as an inspired companion piece and a stand alone work in its own right.
This features the first Underworld remix in over a decade, and this track is indeed one of the standouts. Some other fantastic stuff here as well though. Look out for the Optimo, Saint Etienne and Fuck Buttons tracks. It will also be no surprise that the Weatherall track is amazing, as is the British Sea Power take on "Me and Stephen Hawking".

Peeled Apples - Andrew Weatherall
Me And Stephen Hawking - British Sea Power
Pretension/Repulsion - Four Tet

This Joke Sport Severed - Patrick Wolf
She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach - The Pariahs
Journal For Plague Lovers - Optimo (Espacio)

Jackie Collins Existential Question Time - Saint Etienne
Marlon J.D. - New Young Pony Club
Facing Page: Top Left - Adem
All Is Vanity - Errors

Virginia State Epileptic Colony - Fuck Buttons
Bag Lady - Jonathan Krisp
Doors Closing Slowly - The Horrors
William's Last Words - Underworld

A Castles In Space Exclusive.

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Paul White - The Strange Dreams Of Paul White

Artistically, Paul White has had a fantastic 2009. Following up this full length debut with an EP and another mini album, he has been prolific and consistently great.

This album appeared in June 2009 and has definitely turned into one of my albums of the year. Featuring a plethora of weird beats, snatches of dialogue and enough psychedelic sampling to make your head explode, this is so great because it manages to avoid all of the macho posturing and lazy braggadocio that make most of hip-hop just about unlistenable to me these days.
Paul White has risen to claim status as one of the UK's finest beat breakers and psyched instro-hip-hop producers. White's idiosyncratic and rarified touch has lent his productions an intriguing personality. His day job as a library producer for Channel 4 and the BBC goes some way to explain the assortment of wonderfully disjointed samples and radiophonic ephemera that form much of the base material for the album, with a carefree and light fingered attitude towards plucking his sonic touchstones from their sources. This dilated scope and the hazy dream-like qualities of the results have lead to apt comparisons with both the RZA and Boards Of Canada, with a rugged beat driven aesthetic offset by rich sound designs and a psychedelically tipsy agenda.
I was lucky enough to get one of the 500 copies which were released in a hand sewn, quilted sleeve. And if you like this, I suggest you seek out his other stuff because it's all fantastic.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lindstrøm - Exclusive Mix Promo: Little Drummer Boy

One of my albums of the year has been the amazing "Where You Go, I Go Too" from ultra prolific Norwegian prog/psyche/kraut/disco Meister, Lindstrøm.

I was hugely excited a few weeks ago when another Lindstrøm album appeared, which features the vocal "talents" of his collaborator, Christabelle. Unfortunately, despite trying very, very hard and giving it my full and undivided attention, not much of this one is really sticking with me. I think the final nail in the coffin was when I realised that all the vocals were improvised. Or to put it another way, all of the vocals were unrehearsed. It sounds like it's been assembled from lots of tiny bits and at the moment, is irritating the hell out of me.

Thank the winter snow gods then, that my copy came with a promo 42 minute version of "Little Drummer Boy". Yes. THAT "Little Drummer Boy". Anyway you slice it, this is AMAZING in it's scope, cheek, musical artistry and awesome sonic invention. This is a future classic and no mistake. Probably best described as a "builder", once again, Lindstrøm finds the delicious sweet spot between motorik krautrock and super cooled cosmic disco. This is the shit.

Merry Christmas, Lindstrøm. Merry Christmas, everyone.

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Thank You, Thank You, Thank You and Some Free Stuff You May Have Missed


What can I say? I am once again genuinely touched by the response I got from my Countdown posts. Dunno what to say really other than you people are the best and thank you all so much. Each and every one of those comments was like (and I'm quoting Julian Cope here) "an amphetamine pessary up the psychic jacksie". You are all healers. Literally.

Here's an email from the Clinic Sister at my hospital following my last visit regarding the results of my final blood test till June 2010, when I find out if the treatment has actually worked. They are limited by what they can discuss over email due to privacy policies, but this is the email in it's entirety. I might get this printed up on a T-Shirt.
Subject: results
Date: 21 December 2009 15:52:32 GMT

All okay.


Good times.

It seems a common thread for many of us was the total shitness of 2009. Witness the shitness. Goodbye, Baby. Now you have given us your freezing cold Winter Solstice, you can go, walk out the door, just turn around now, cos you're not welcome anymore.

However, one of my things of the year has definitely been Twitter. I never touched MySpace and am a reluctant participant in Facebook, but Twitter is a different beast altogether. I love the fun and immediacy of it all and can see this thing growing in all sorts of unexpected directions. Get on board now if you haven't done so far. You won't regret it. It may take a few weeks to understand what the hell is going on, but right now, this feels like something I want to be involved in. Use it wisely.

It seems to be the time of year where lots of cool people are giving away free stuff, most of which I have become aware through Twitter, and it seems like a good idea to round up some of the best stuff here in case you missed it.

You have to sign up for several of these, but I promise you it's worth it. In no particular order, I can recommend the following:

New Ghost Box downloads from creator of one of the years strangest but best electronic albums, Roj.

Six brilliant tracks from the awesome Seed Records, including two Antoni Maiovvi things. This is all excellent though.

Twelve track compilation from the legendary 4AD.

The Black Dog's Krautrock Mix.

There were also three brilliant and unreleased Pet Shop Boys remixes and a post about the way EMI handled the campaign for another one of the albums of the year ("Yes") here, but unfortunately, it seems to have been removed. Ask him nicely and he might hook you up. Or you could just ask me.

Peace and literally, love.

Your pal,

Nolan Micron.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nite Jewel - Want You Back EP

I'm so stoked to see this obscure little nugget has appeared in a few of the trendiest end-of-year "best of" lists. I've been enjoying this since the Summer, and have been extolling it's myriad virtues to anyone who would listen, without gaining much traction it has to be said. There's something indefinably sweet and lovely about this. It's ultra lo-fi and naive, but so effortlessly cool that it just oozes class and raw artistry.

I'm finding it hard to classify, but I suppose it mostly reminds of me of those early totally electronic Disco/Brit-funk records that appeared in the early 80's. But instead of being all about "getting with you, girl", this is uber cool and feminine. She might get with you, but you'll probably just end up talking, but falling helplessly in love with her anyway. This is music smeared through an afternoon haze of Bacardi Breezers and sunshine. Imagine if your school band were clever and switched-on instead of four spotty herberts trying to regurgitate AC:DC riffs at you.
Dividing her time between two of the hippest labels around, Ramona Gonzalez releases her music through both No Pain In Pop and, most famously, Italians Do It Better (as is the case here). 'Want You Back' follows in a similar spirit to her 'What Did He Say' debut single, combining lo-fi dancefloor haze, psychedelic 'verbed-to-the-hilt vocals and most disarmingly, a killer bassline. After a more abstracted, vocal mix comes 'All Out Of Order', whose foggy disco-scapes are at least the A-side's equal. The song arrives in both English and Spanish language versions, but both renderings become a glorious blur of vocoded dancefloor ambience.
I can also give a massive recommendation for the album, "Good Evening" which also appeared this year and is more of the same raw, dreamy, lo-fi genius. The two main tracks on here are something else though.

I'm planning on dropping this in the set at around 11:45 on New Years Eve. I'm risking bemusement and even perhaps, hostility, but I'm betting that a few revelers are gonna be asking me what this is.

This is a digital download as the 12' was a tenner and had one less track. That being the case, I'm only keeping this up for a few days.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Countdown Ends: Twenty Thousand Pounds Worth Of Drugs.

I’d better start all of this off with a disclaimer.

I have no idea if what follows is of interest to anyone who reads this blog. This is some personal stuff I'm writing about because it feels important to me. I don’t really know who is interested in my opinions or the details surrounding my circumstances, or if people just come here for the music.

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve struggled in the past with judging the purpose and scope for Castles In Space. Is it solely about the music or does the writing make it a better blog?

From my perspective, Castles in Space is a more fulfilling experience when I get to sound off and people engage and discuss this stuff with me, otherwise, here I am just tossing off into the great cyber-yawn. I've had an ongoing dichotomy about whether to include personal stuff up on here or just keep it about the sounds. The fact is that the personal stuff occasionally bleeds into the blog whether I want it to or not, and it’s at those times that the writing feels more satisfying to me.

Anyway, this whole area of personal life intruding on the blog was brought into sharp relief earlier this year when I shut down Castles In Space without much explanation. I know this left some of you feeling frustrated and disappointed, but to your enormous credit the response from the vast majority of you was supportive and understanding and for that I am truly grateful. It meant a lot to me then and it still does now.

However, I think I wanted to explain what was going on around that time and to talk a little bit about my year. I think mainly for the reasons that I’m hoping that writing about this might help me put things into some perspective and also I think (at least hope) that a few of you might find this illuminating into the causes of my brief disappearance earlier in the year.

Everyone else go straight to the last paragraph of this piece. See you over at Spinster’s Rock.

Still with me? OK. Well, to place the story of my 2009 into context, you probably need a few pertinent background historical details. In 1982, aged 17, I was involved in a serious car accident. One weekday Autumn lunchtime, out of the blue, in the middle of a country lane, I very nearly lost my life. I needed a lot of extra blood while they put me back together and in 1982, blood in the UK was not screened for several viruses that are routinely tested for these days. Some of the blood I received during the blood transfusion was infected with the Hepatitis C virus.

Hep C is a chronic liver disease which is often very serious in some patients, but the effects and impact can vary massively from person to person. I was lucky enough to be virtually asymptomatic for years and tested positive for the virus completely unexpectedly while I was being routinely tested for something else. From then until now, I have been in regular contact with the hospital, probably the finest in the country in this field, who have monitored progress and impact of the disease over the years. In July 2008, following my fourth liver biopsy, the decision was taken that because the disease was starting to cause some damage to my liver which was showing up in the biopsied tissue, the time was right to undergo the only current treatment which is available for the virus. In my case, this meant a 48 week course of weekly, self administered Interferon injections and 1200mg of Ribavarin, daily. Over the course of 48 weeks, that's a lot of drugs.

In January this year, I commenced treatment.

In common with the different ways in which different people are affected by the virus, it's equally true that patients respond in different ways to the treatment. However, these are serious drugs. One doctor told me that taking this "combination therapy" was similar to the effects that would be felt from a long term, low level course of chemotherapy. That being the case, no one gets through this without feeling the impact of some fairly full-on side effects.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about how the drugs have affected me over the course of this year, but suffice to say, I have felt the full brunt of the typical effects that I was warned about, and it's been hard work. There is much information available on the internet for those who wish to seek out more, but I don't want to dwell on that here. For one thing, I still find it immensely depressing even thinking about what this year has been like. I'm steadfastly and resolutely looking forward.

Around June, almost six months into the treatment, I was feeling the full pressure of a severe dip in my health when I decided that I could literally no longer manage to keep the blog going. It was a bad time. I just couldn't keep the plates spinning any more and felt I had no options other than to reduce commitments and external pressures. In retrospect, I was probably right to do this, but I could have handled it a lot better. Sincere apologies for that, and warm thanks to those who have stuck with me.

Despite the dreadfulness of my 2009, I have learned a few interesting things about myself, and about illness itself, none of which are particularly pleasant, I'm afraid.

First, through all of this, I have managed to keep working, despite suffering from extreme exhaustion and feeling the full effects of a symptom known charmingly as "brain fog". Yes folks, I have had a taste of the future, a kind of Alzheimer's Lite, and I'm here to tell you that it isn't nice. I simply never knew that I cared so much about working, and wonder if this is solely to do with having kids, or to use the proper term, which I truly understand for the first time in my life, "dependents".

I'm not sure I would have dragged my miserable arse to the office and back every day if it were not for them. Is that love? Or duty? I need more time to understand what has been going on here, because I'm still not able to put this stuff into any sort of perspective. Give me a few months and a bit of emotional distance and I might be able to make more sense of it. Oh, and sorry employers. You will get better value from me next year, I promise.

I also learned, that despite the love and support of friends and family, essentially, you have to do illness entirely on your own. When the only answer to the question "How are you?" is "I'm fucking terrible, thanks", then it's really best not to answer. I have never, ever felt so alone. I think I learned that I hate to show vulnerability as well, so again, just best not to answer. Stoicism bacame my watchword as I internalised virtually everything. I don't want to burden you and you don't want to hear. So, no answer was forthcoming.

So, you just keep going. One foot in front of the other. Three more pills, finish the bottle. Next bottle. Three in the morning, three at night. Take with food. If it's Saturday, it must be injection number 2, 8, 23, 37, 41. Keep going. One month, three months, six months, ten months... Not long now.

The countdown. My entire year has been one long countdown. And I'm almost at the end. I take the last of my tablets this Saturday morning. And I cannot wait. I'm really, really bored with not feeling well. It's rubbish, honestly. I want to be able to have the energy to do stuff. Stuff with the kids. To write and play. To feel better. To simply not to have to take anymore drugs.

I also want to say, that I'm well aware that that there are those who are far worse off than I. Those who will never be able to stop taking their drugs. Those for whom there are no drugs. I think I've learned a little bit about that as well; mortality and the fragile nature of our existence. I have met some wonderful people through this blog, at least one of whom has been through great personal tragedy, and I think that he has done what I had to do - keep going. You just keep going, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. Just keep going until it ends. Countdown the days. Until it stops.

Looking forward, some long time readers will know that I regularly used to get out to remote places and visit beloved neolithic/iron age/bronze age sites in the UK and France. I have been unable to do any of that this year and I am hungry to get back out there. My kids might tell you they've enjoyed the year off though.

I have also not touched a drop of alcohol since New Year's Day 2009. I'm not planning on going mad, but I'm really looking forward to having a glass (or two) of something delicious and intoxicating over the next few weeks.

To celebrate reaching the end of this longest of years, I've spent the last few weeks setting up a blog in Wordpress, which I have used to temporarily bring my first blog, Spinster's Rock back to life. To stretch the metaphor beyond the bounds of decency, yes, I have symbolically resurrected something. Back to life.

You can visit this site here for some quality post punk and other assorted selections from among my favorites. Some of you will have seen this stuff before, but there may be a few of you who will enjoy having a root around in here and may even find something rare and unexpected to enjoy. It should be noted that some of these files are slightly unpolished, as I was largely learning the way when some of this stuff was first posted, but for the large part I have left things intentionally unchanged for the purposes of getting more stuff on the site. Everything is still 320 and there is usually full artwork.

I've also been enjoying finding my way around Wordpress and might move everything over there permanently at some point in a few months when the brain fog has properly lifted and a few visits to the Marlborough Downs have blown away the cobwebs. I'm also planning on utilising some of that much missed booze to fire my writing glands. Let me know what you think. I'll continue to add some stuff to Spinster's Rock for a few weeks, but the current plan is that come 2010, all of the current posts over there will once again be removed. Meanwhile, I'll be posting a few selections over here from my chosen favourites of the year.

So the countdown is almost at an end. The clouds are lifting.

Thanks to everyone who has played along by trying to guess what the fuck I have been alluding to these last five weeks. I look forward to joining you all back in the real world, people.

Thanks for listening.

Your pal,

Nolan Micron.

Visit Spinster's Rock Here.

Almost There...

Bear with me just a little while longer.

Almost there...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Julian Cope - Repossessed

Long time visitors to Castles in Space and my previous blog, Spinster's Rock will know that I am a massive Cope head.

While going through some old photos earlier this week, I found a set of pictures I had taken at a Cope book signing/spoken word gig in support of the second volume of his autobiography, "Repossessed". I'm placing this around Winter 1999.

It was a fantastic occasion with Cope sporting his Odin makeup and espousing his Odinist/Shaman/Rock'n'Roller hypothesis (complicated, but basically, he's all three).

The space was small, being the basement of a Charing Cross Road bookstore in central London. There was a tiny crowd and so I was able to get within stalking distance of the great man. I also got him to sign a couple of copies of the book afterwards, natch. One of them to my daughter, who was a toddler at the time and will one day treasure this historic artifact. Probably.

Click the thumbnail below to see all the pictures.

Julian Cope - Repossessed

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Durutti Column - Valuable Passages

This is one of those beautiful boxed cassette releases that Factory Records produced in the 80's. "Valuable Passages" is a compilation of a few lesser known and rare Durutti tracks as well as some key album selections. Ripped from the original cassette, so you might be able to get these in higher fidelity these days, but as a package, this is just about unbeatable.

Sketch for Summer
Sketch for Winter
Lips That Would Kiss
For Belgian Friends
Piece of Out of Tune Grand Piano
Never Known
The Missing Boy
Spent Time
Without Mercy (Stanzas 4 to 7)
Without Mercy (Stanzas 10 to 12)
The Room
Blind Elevator Girl
L.F.O. M.O.D.

I never get tired of hearing this wonderful music.

Cassette rip at 320 Kbps.
Full artwork included. Because it's important.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lee "Scratch" Perry - Arkology

"It was only four tracks on the machine, but I was picking up twenty from the extra terrestrial squad." - Lee Perry.

Arkology is an anthology of Black Ark treasures collected and annotated by Perry experts Steve Barrow and David Katz, a magnificent four hour set of music that is an absolutely essential collection for any discerning dub adventurer.

Black Ark. For reggae and/or dub aficionados, those two words conjure up myths of magical sounds, supernatural forces, and a brilliantly mad producer at the center of it all. Black Ark was the name of famed Jamaican producer Lee Perry's studio, which he built in his backyard back in 1973. It was in this studio that Perry created his legend—a legend that puts his name second only to Bob Marley's in the pantheon of Jamaican music. Between the years 1973 and 1978, Perry collaborated with dozens of artists (including the Wailers, Augustus Pablo, The Congos, Junior Murvin, and even Paul McCartney), crafting some of the best music ever heard out of Jamaica. Island's 1997, 3-disk compilation, Arkology, highlights much of the music the Black Ark period, and it is, without question, the essential Lee Perry release.

Before the arrival of modern computers, effects processors, and digital mixing boards, Perry found a way to take the sounds rattling around in his mind and transform them into music. He showed that even the sparsest studio could be used to realize his most oddball musical visions. In this, Perry's work has influenced all studio and computer-based music, especially electronic music, which is centered on the notion that music is a process and sound itself a fluid entity, always changeable, always being reinvented. Arkology is a testament to Perry's legacy: each track is brilliantly chosen to highlight Perry's amazing creative and technical wizardry.

Lee Perry & The Upsetters - Dub Revolution (Part 1)
Max Romeo - One Step Forward
The Upsetters - One Step Dub
Devon Irons - Vampire
The Upsetters - Vampire Dub
The Heptones - Sufferer's Time
The Upsetters - Sufferer's Dub
Junior Dread - Sufferer's Heights
The Congos - Don't Blame On I
The Meditations - Much Smarter
The Upsetters - Much Smarter Dub
The Meditations - Life Is Not Easy
The Upsetters - Life Is Not Easy Dub
Junior Murvin - Tedious
Max Romeo - War In A Babylon
The Upsetters - Revelation Dub
The Heptones & Jah Lion - Mr. President
Max Romeo - Chase The Devil

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Lee Perry - Dreadlocks In Moonlight
Mikey Dread - Dread At The Mantrols
Errol Walker - In These Times
The Upsetters - In These Times Dub
Max Romeo & Jah Lion - Norman (Extended Domino Mix)
Junior Murvin - Police And Thieves
Glen Dacosta - Magic Touch
Jah Lion - Soldier & Police War
The Upsetters - Grumblin' Dub
Junior Murvin - Bad Weed
Errol Walker - John Public
Enos Barnes & Errol Walker - John Public Version
Junior Murvin & Dillinger - Roots Train
The Meditations - No Peace
The Upsetters - No Peace Dub
Raphael Green & Dr. Alimantado - Rasta Train
The Upsetters - Party Time (Part 2)

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Augustus Pablo meets The Upsetter - Vibrate On
The Upsetters - Vibrator
The Upsetters - Bird In Hand
The Congos - Congoman
The Upsetters & Full Experience - Dyon Anasawa
The Upsetters & Dillinger - Rastaman Shuffle
The Heptones & Lee Perry - Why Must I Version
The Heptones - Make Up Your Mind
Upsetter Revue Featuring Junior Murvin - Closer Together
Keith Rowe - Groovy Situation
The Upsetters - Groovy Dub
George Faith - To Be A Lover
Lee Perry - Soul Fire
Lee Perry - Curly Locks
The Congos - Feast Of The Passover
Lee Perry - Roast Fish And Cornbread
The Upsetters - Corn Fish Dub

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One Week Left...

Well, the five week countdown is approaching its conclusion. There is but one week to go. Everything is going to plan and whilst the swan is gliding effortlessly across the still water, its legs are paddling furiously underneath the surface. Things are happening and things are going to stop happening. I'm really excited. Sometimes life is unkind and one can do nothing but grit one's teeth and plough on. Often with varying degrees of success. There is one week to go.

German Synth Pastoralists

This collaboration between Brian Eno and German synth pastoralists Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius (aka Cluster) is another recent reissue of Eno's work from around this time (see also the previous post of the Eno/Harmonia album).

The recording of this album was referenced in the recent BBC Krautrock documentary and the record has justifiably attained a semi-legendary status during the intervening years. I can really hear the seperate personalities of both Cluster and Eno, so it makes for a massive interesting listen as the two schools both clash and intertwine with delicious results.

As Moebius stated in the documenatry, "Eno came to learn from us, we did not go to learn from him". Well, quite. And in turn, Eno would teach Bowie these same moves for his next (and best) two albums.


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Global Communication - 76:14 Expanded Remastered Edition

I've recently had this one back on heavy rotation following a Twitter exchange.

As one of the most significant ambient releases probably ever, 76:14 places itself alongside benchmark electronic releases from the likes of Brian Eno, the Orb, and any others you would care to mention.

Good ambient is a devilishly delicate balance between beautiful and boring, fascinating and frustrating, exciting and excruciating. 76:14 manages to deliver in spades. Breathtaking atmospheric wanderings which suggest the usual inner and outer space exploration, but enough texture and beatitude to keep things grounded and to prevent the listener from becoming lost in the void. Vocal samples from nine languages also remind us of the international and diplomatic intentions of this magnificent album.

I was initially disappointed by the singles and bonus tracks collected on the second disc of this remastered edition. And while it's true that they do suffer slightly in comparison to the uniform perfection of the first disc, there is some great stuff here too. Ignore the smooth funk abomination that is "The Groove", but pretty much everything else is cut from the same beautiful cloth as the original album.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Slint - Spiderland

It's been heavily electronic around here lately hasn't it.

To redress the balance back towards the guitars, have a go on this timeless, genre defining classic. I hadn't played this for a long time and was suddenly overcome by a huge desire to hear it again one day last week. Unfortunately, it's taken me this long to find it among my CDs, but there can be no doubt that it was worth the wait.

There's a Wikipedia page which has all the information you could possibly need about the background, context and influence of this album.
Spiderland has become a landmark indie rock album and is considered, along with Talk Talk's Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock, to have been the primary catalyst of the post-rock and math rock genres. David Peschek said that the album is "the ur-text for what became known as post-rock, a fractured, almost geometric reimagining of rock music stripped of its dionysiac impulse." Rachel Devine of The List called Spiderland "arguably the most disproportionately influential [album] in music history".
This is sounding fantastic to me, although there is the argument that the bands they went on to influence were much better than Slint in the long run. I'm really digging this, though.

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