Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Festive Fifty Number Ones: An Illustrated Memoir by Lee Thacker.

In the words of Hubert J. Farnsworth, "Good news, everyone". Remember this?

Of course you do. Over to Lee again:

Well, after the nightmare of receiving 50 books from the printer with all the covers on BACK TO FRONT (!!!!) I finally have two big boxes of books in my living room that I'm about to sign and number. Most of them have been sold already (including a few comp copies) and I'll be posting them out on Wednesday (23rd June).

This means I'll need to order another batch for any future sales (he said hopefully) and I'm really worried the same error might occur again. Let's hope not.

Anyway, the signed and numbered edition of the book can be purchased directly from me for £12 (including p&p). Contact me at for further details.

Alternatively, you can also get the signed edition on ebay. where you can also purchase the (very) limited edition portfolio.

You can also purchase the unsigned edition direct from my printers.

I've also got a book on Lulu with the lyrics of Robert Lloyd (Prefects, Nightingales) that he's currently selling on the short Nightingales European tour.

Also, you will get the opportunity to win a copy if you vote in this year's Dandelion Radio Festive Fifty

I think that's it. Buy my book. Buy one for a friend. If it does well, I might make another one....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Electronic - Forbidden City

Adapted from Wikipedia:

"Forbidden City" is a song by English band Electronic, comprising Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr, with guesting co-writer Karl Bartos of Kraftwerk, released as the lead single from their second album Raise the Pressure, and their first new release in almost exactly four years, the last being the stand-alone single "Disappointed".

[The single contains] two non-album B-sides: "Imitation of Life" (an edited version of which would appear on Get the Message - The Best of Electronic ten years later) and "A New Religion", which featured Denise Johnson providing backing vocals. All three songs were written with Karl Bartos.

This is a great track and Marr's guitar solo is a bit special too.

320 Kbps

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cocteau Twins - Otherness

Such a beautiful EP, this one. The last EP they released and a wonderful remix set from Seefeel's Mark Clifford. I must dig out the Seefeel albums, as they are totally beautiful and quite hard to come by these days.

I've said before that I think I started to take this stuff for granted, but revisiting these late period Cocteau twins releases has been somewhat of a revelation. Dysfunction and borderline mental illness has a weird track record of creating great art does it not?

In reverse order then, "Cherry Coloured Funk" sounds like the the music that will be played in the lift on the way up to Heaven. We know that everything is going to be alright, forever. Beautiful angel sigh on a bed of the softest feathery sweetness. It's funereal and life affirming at the same time. Liz has never sounded sweeter or more bonkers. Can there ever have been another track with the word "funk" in the title that was less funky?

This version of "Violane" does have a slightly loopy, trancey feel to it though. There's some sub-bass action happening and a multi-tracked Liz calls us to the dance with her seductive siren call.

"Seekers Who Are Lovers" propels us forwards like a bass driven jam on the Trans Europe Express. Once you hear Liz's "Hey yeah ah hey ah" riff, it might just stay with you forever. And then she does that choirboy thing that makes you wish you could just hear this on a loop until the end of forever. It's a fairly stripped down thing at this point, but it still works in the most spectacular fashion.

Lead track, "Feet-Like Fins" is suitably oceanic and images of mermaids and shagging fishwomen on spooky beaches are conjured seemingly from the watery ether. Although that might be just my fantasies bubbling to the surface. Whatever, it's lovely and pretty and a little bit magical.

I miss them terribly.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Throbbing Gristle - Mutant

Possibly a unique artefact in that the Wetherall mix is shit, but look beyond that and there's some pretty good stuff here. The more electro inclined stuff emerges from the sausage machine slightly shinier and there are a couple of great remixes of "Hot On The Heels Of Love".

"Looking at the names involved, I have to admit that my first feeling was a sinking stomach, as I imagined flaccid house beats laid over songs that had originally been on the cutting edge of sound. Thankfully, and surprisingly, that turns out not to be the case. For the most part, these remixes allow the souls of the originals to show through while at the same time turning them in new directions. The Motor remix of "Persuasion" keeps the song slow and stripped-down, with a rhythm built of clicks and snare, while Hedonastik's "What a Day" strews mechanical-sounding metallics across a funkified version of the song's original beat.

"Carl Craig takes two shots here. His version of "Hot on the Heels of Love" maintains the original's feel, though the rhythm is more consistent and somewhat less interesting; the feeling of sound under pressure remains, though. His reworking of "Still Walking" is better, a dark, dank and echoey version that shows Throbbing Gristle to have been hip to trip-hop long before the genre existed.

"TG members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti get their own licks in twice. First with a skeletal, slow "Hamburger Lady" that's eerie, like sound leaking in from another dimension; and then "HotHeelsUnited," which cleverly combines two songs into one, backed with an insistent pulsing bass beat.

Not all of the remixes work as well. Two Lone Swordsmen dissect "United" into a pulsing rhythm that keeps the vocals but loses some of the original's dark feeling of threat. And Simon Ratcliffe (of Basement Jaxx) turns the original of "Hot on the Heels of Love" into a sweetness-and-light club tune devoid of personality."

This is the CD rip, but there's a vinyl version at the ever-brilliant Ripped In Glasgow here.

320 Kbps

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Culture - Two Sevens Clash

Probably universally recognised as one of the best authentic reggae albums ever, Culture's debut strikes a lovely balance between the sweetness and light of the Jamaican sound and the righteous warnings of the Rastafarian faith. Lest there be any cultural imbalance here, I'm retaining my right to state that all religion is horeseshit, especially this brand of foreboding apocalyptic pessimism, but as with the early Christian music of the middle ages onwards, anything with a sense of spiritual certainty is undoubtedly powerful and often hot-wires our consciousness into a level of spirituality that even though we might not subscribe to that view, accesses our deepest wells of inner god in such a way that we can immediately appreciate the sincerity and passion - artifice though we feel it may be. If this isn't making any sense, unbelievers should go and have a look at Westminster Abbey or the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris (or countless others, I'm sure. I've never seen Rome, although any little Norman village church seems fairly awesome to me on an architectural level). There's a good reason that those building are designed to inspire passion, fear and a sense of smallness in the face of a huge universe.

Also coming into play here is the multi-layered historical background of black struggle and the railing against Babylon which makes this pretty much irresistible to all forward thinking revolutionaries, be they black, white, poor or rich. There's something wonderfully rebellious in this stuff which just works on a primal as well as intellectual level.

Despite all that, this is also musically a massive achievement. A pinnacle distillation of the Seventies Jamaican reggae sound with a stellar cast of peak period musicians (including Sly and Robbie) and produced by the mighty Joe Gibbs.

This version is the 1978 UK reissue on Lightning records, which despite being funded by WEA always operated as an indie and had a weird catalogue of retro fifties rock 'n' roll and cutting edge Jamaican reggae. It was on Lightning that Althea and Donna had their wonderful number one hit, "Uptown Top Ranking" although it was the Johnny Rotten fronted Virgin Front Line that released their album in the UK.

In summary, this Peel favourite is the shit. As far as I know hasn't been released on CD in the UK, which is fucking criminal.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Hashimoto - Symphony No. 1 / Symphonic Suite

One of the leading Japanese composers in the first half of the twentieth century, Qunihico Hashimoto studied with Egon Wellesz in Vienna and associated with Alois Hába and Ernst Křenek, before meeting Schoenberg in Los Angeles when he was returning to Japan. His music reflects elements of late romanticism, expressionism and impressionism, as well as of the traditional music of Japan. His Symphony No.1 was written in celebration of the 2600th anniversary of the foundation of Japan, with a first movement depicting the long history of the country, a second making insistent use of a folk-melody, and a third consisting of variations and a fugue on material derived from a Gagaku-like ceremonial song. The ballet music Heavenly Maiden and Fisherman is based on material from a Noh play.

320 Kbps

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cocteau Twins - Twinlights

Apologies it's been a few weeks since we've had some proper updates here at Castles in Space. A punishing new job and a few family related trips to Cumbria and Southampton over the last few weekends haven't left much time for blog action.

I hope this lovely EP from Cocteau Twins goes some small distance to making up for my absence though. "Twinlights" seemed a ever so slightly anti climactic to me at the time of its release, but the intervening years and perhaps my current state of general exhaustion have conspired to make this wonderfully low key little thing sound towering and majestic in a way that has surprised me enormously. Perhaps its also the fact that after a run of fantastic Cocteaus's releases, it was easy to take them for granted. There is nothing I would like better than to hear some new stuff from them RIGHT NOW, however. Although this seems like the unlikeliest thing since the rumoured Smiths reunion. Oh well. At least we'll always have this wonderful, fragile little thing.

Adapted from Wikipedia:
"Twinlights is the 1995 EP by the Cocteau Twins. It was released along with the EP "Otherness" as a teaser for the album Milk and Kisses. Allmusic referred to it as "being as close to an "unplugged" effort as the Twins ever got." The EP was originally released on CD as well as a double vinyl 7".

"The EP has four tracks, two of which were re-imagined for Milk and Kisses ("Rilkean Heart" and "Half-Gifts"). "Pink Orange Red", which was released on the 1985 ep "Tiny Dynamine", is a stripped down version of the original with a piano playing the melody and opening. "Golden-Vein" is the only track on the EP not to appear on any other release.

Elizabeth Fraser describes this EP as being about a man she fell in love with during the 1994 Four-Calendar Cafe tour. The mystery man has been speculated to be Jeff Buckley by Fraser's biographer but she has never confirmed or denied this, although the song "Rilkean Heart" seems likely to be a homage to Jeff Buckley who was a lifelong lover of Rainer Maria Rilke's work.

"Otherness" will appear here soon.

320 Kbps with full artwork.

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Updates Imminent...

Sorry it's been a while. Updates on the way...

Meanwhile, can I remind you that this is still up and will become the default site in the event of of any interference, intervention or incontinence.

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