Monday, February 28, 2011


Born in 1966, Max Richter trained in composition and piano at Edinburgh University, at the Royal Academy of Music, and with Luciano Berio in Florence. The Richter family moved to the UK from Germany when Max was a young child, leaving the wider part of his family distributed around Germany. This sense of a lack of roots had an effect on his musical formation.

On completing his studies, Richter co-founded the immensely successful contemporary classical ensemble Piano Circus, where he stayed for ten years, commissioning and performing works by Arvo Pärt, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe and Steve Reich. Richter was also pro-active in developing the group’s use of live sampling.

In 1996 he worked closely with The Future Sound of London on their release ‘Dead Cities’. Initially involved as a pianist, he ended up co-writing a track (which they subsequently titled ‘Max’). Following this, Richter collaborated with FSOL over a two-year period on the album ‘The Isness’, with his input ranging from programming or piano playing to arranging, mixing, co-producing and co-writing various tracks. Max’s orchestrations have also graced ‘In The Møde’ by drum’n’bass pioneer Roni Size.

In June 2002, Richter released his debut solo album, 'Memoryhouse' via the BBC classical label, Late Junction. A bleary, damp trawl through a broken, lost Europe. Heavy with melancholia; burdened; weighed down. Deeply affecting. Infinite sadness.

320 Kbps.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hardcore Synth Abuse - Part One

One half of spooky Pennsylvanian synth-rock duo Zombi – and 100% of disco celebrators Lovelock - Steve Moore offers up his second solo album for Static Caravan, the follow-up to debut outing "The Henge". Gathering more sinister yet succulent sci-fi titbits, "Primitive Neural Pathways" is a selection of modern mushroom sounds for folks that don’t need to trip any more. Sculpting eerie compositions which wouldn’t feel out of place soundtracking the modern equivalent of a giallo film, Moore corrals cascading synths and languid beats and clicks to craft evocative electronica which snakes unnervingly, plaintive but unsettling.

Think Edgar Froese played by Oneohtrix Point Never and you’ll get an idea of Moore’s playfully lyrical melodies which come tinged with hints of darkness and hip esoterica – the spacey opener "Orogenous Zones" bubbles away with swirling keys and cosmic whirrs. There’s a prog-soaked atmosphere to Moore’s vibrant, suspenseful electronica, and he dabbles in musical pulses that reference Roger Waters or Larry Fast as much as Goblin or Geddy Lee. The airy ambience of "Feel The Difference" gently floats by on simmering synths, gorgeously brooding and with creeping rhythms, utilising electronic instruments to create something which nevertheless sounds organic and richly textured. With its icy melody and stalagmite beats, "C-Beams" is insistent, turbo-charged synth-pop meets spidery nocturnalia, like a gothic horror-inspired video game soundtrack and pure analogue heaven. Meanwhile the title track is a slinky slice of earthshock electronica reminiscent of the sounds heard on Peter Davison-era Doctor Who, all ray guns and rampaging Cybermen or barren planets hiding unknown horrors lurking in the shadows. Harking back to the glories of the Radiophonic Workshop, you get the feeling Daphne, Delia and Dudley would be proud. The chilly landscapes of closing track "248 Years" come with hymnal flourishes and a haunting arrangement which sets spines to ‘tingle’ and implores neck hairs to stand to attention. You’ll want to don a pair of night vision goggles like the kind they wear on uniformly crap supernatural-themed TV shows.

Otherworldly and intoxicating, "Primitive Neural Pathways" is an intergalactic melange and how War of the Worlds would’ve sounded if it had been helmed by Jean Michel Jarre instead of Jeff Wayne. And the aliens had won. Limited to 400 copies on 12” wax.

Be quick.

Vinyl rip at 320Kbps.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Immaterial - A Gigantic Raft (In The Philippines) 12" - The Tempest Mix.

It's immaterial are one of my favourite bands from the 80s. Emerging from the ashes of post punk favourites, The Yachts, their work really stands up. Even from this distance it still seems like they were ploughing a furrow entirely of their own, which to this day nobody else has really taken up and explored further.

This incarnation of "A Gigantic Raft" is the third time it appeared. Knowing that they were on to a good thing and simply waiting for the rest of us to catch up, this song had previously appeared as early as 1981 on the Inevitable label. It was subsequently included on a label sampler and re-released again in this form in 1984. The thing that makes this version the best, however, is the extended 12" "The Tempest" mix. Indeed, a salty, sea shanty vibe pervades the whole thing to a large extent.

Their first album, the brilliantly titled "Life's Hard And Then You Die" is a fantastic record and the follow-up, simple entitled "Song" is deeper and less tuneful, but somehow even better. I seriously urge you to consider delving into the back catalogue of this brilliant band.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bandulu - Now 10"

Another pre-emptive strike from the under-appreciated Bandulu. Lovely minimal techno rattle and throb which really does anticipate the dubstep sound prematurely...

Vinyl rip from 10" vinyl.

320 Kbps.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - What's The Point 12"

So here's the final single from the first album which wasn't followed by the next single, "Internationa Rescue" until a full two years later. Listening back to this, I think that a reinvention was a necessity rather than an option, as the backup tracks are truly horrendous. For those that want them, however, here are the Fuzzbox versions of "Fever" and (god help us) "Bohemian Rhapsody". Even more excruciating is the spoken word "skit" "Fuzzy Ramblings". Fucking Hell.

The extended Version of "What's The Point" is great, however.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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I've also uploaded the Bostin' Steve Austin album in all its glory over at Spinster's Rock.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

And Now, Here Is The News

There's a few things I've been meaning to tell you about.

First off, Fritz von Runte and the rest of the team at Marshall Records are over-reaching once again with a jaw-dropping Bowie/Kubrick themed thing which is so adventurous and exciting that I can't find the words. Over to Fritz:

is out next week.

It’s our biggest project so far. Big in size, ambition and quality - modesty aside. It’s a compilation of brand new versions of classic Bowie tracks, in many different flavours - even reggae! It is also a mixpiece, with all these new versions and some other surprises mixed together, non-stop, creating an exquisite atmosphere. And finally, it’s a movie, a re-edited version of Kubrick’s 2001, that inspired those remixes, with the mixpiece synchronised to it.

It’s confusing I know, but you can preview the Mixpiece here.

Castles In Space readers can pre-order of the the whole thing for only 11£. I mean everything, the DVD, the CD (with exclusive bonus tracks) and the Mixpiece (the extended complete version, in high quality).

Pre-order Bowie2001

By buying BOWIE2001, besides getting the hottest limited edition release of the year before everybody else, you also support the websites, the free downloads and the Marshall Records mail list :)

With thanks
Fritz von Runte and the Marshall Records team.

Fritz is responsible for some of the most impressive web remix projects that have emerged over the last few years. Check out the Marshall Records website for more info. I've listened to the Bowie Mixpiece and ordered my copy. The amount of work that has gone into this is phenomenal and it deserves your support.

Another hotbed of activity lies just down the A14 from me in Cambridge. RobJn is an incredibly prolific polymath who includes record label boss, graphic artist, web designer, remixer and musician among his many talents. His output never fails to leave me astounded by the creativity he so effortlessly seems to conjure out of the ether. Rob has music available here which I urge you to check out.

He's so mercurial and prolific though, that the bast thing to do is to visit his website or follow his Twitter feed. You won't regret it.

And now, here's Tom with the weather.

Bandulu - Crisis A Gwan 12" Promo

I've posted some Bandulu in the past, but this dark and deep techno twelve dating from 1995 will put the shits up you like you won't believe. Crisis A Gwan indeed.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - Love Is The Slug 12"

The trajectory which propelled indie microstars We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It in 1985 to WEA international achievers in the late Eighties to glam popstrels who disbanded in 1990 is a cautionary tale, but yet contains all the ingredients which contribute to everything I love about pop music. Indie no-hopers to bona fide chart stars with major label support and mainstream pop success, on to the whole music biz control cliché and the subsequent musical differences. All within the space of two albums! How brilliant is that?

I've got a soft spot for Fuzzbox, and am in awe of their heroic lady balls for having the courage, nouse and ambition to get up on a stage when they reportedly really couldn't play their instruments. At all. I think I saw them on TV once. One of them was sawing away at a violin making a horrible noise. I was captivated. Anyway, they were fucking right, weren't they. They were the future. Capability didn't matter then and it matters much less now. Despite that, or maybe because of it, some of their records really, really stand up.

I'm going to post a few of these excellent records, but let's kick things off with this one, "Love Is The Slug", here featured in the 12" "Bargainous Longerer Mix", which equates to some more inept drumming at the start, basically. Brilliant. This also features their infamous cover of "Spirit In The Sky" which is good. And when I say "good", I mean "bad". And yet, when I say "bad", I mean "good". It's one of those.

They were from Birmingham.
Not the one in Alabama.
You can't see the stars from the A38 Aston Expressway.

Wikipedia Entry

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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The Portable Supersound

A lovely discofied label compilation dating from 2007 from Castles In Space favourites Smalltown Supersound. All of the usual suspects appear here, with a few left field surprises that make for an altogether pleasing experience. It works very well in the car, if you're that way inclined.

1. St Tropez - ARP
2. Come Out Come Down - 120 Days
3. Warning - Tussle
4. Half Under - Sunburned Hand Of The Man
5. Spooks - Mental Overdrive
6. Contemporary Fix - Lindstrom
7. Dinner That Never Happened - Diskjokke
8. Anarchy Way - Lift Boys
9. Hatten Passer - Bjorn Torske
10. Don't Be - Toy
11. Tics - Lars Horntveth

You would probably expect me to say this, but the ARP, Lindstrom and Diskjokke tracks are worth the price of admission on their own. Everything else is icing on the cake. But what delicious icing.

Smalltown Supersound


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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Soft Cell - Soul Inside 12"

Retrospectively traversing the career path of Soft Cell, it seems like the wildly successful mid-period pop triumphs were bookended by much darker material, although if the truth be told, they were always centered around an inner heart of darkness, even if it was sometimes cartoonishly obvious. Twisting back from the art school "Mutant Moments", through the lurid weirdness of "The Girl With The Patent Leather Face" as featured on the Some Bizarre album and then onwards, suddenly blazing a fascinating trail through the 80s pop firmament and almost single-handedly defining the synthesiser duo format that rapidly became such a cliché.

But then, post the initial chart-bound-sounds ultra successes, as the self destruction and the drugs kicked in; as the hangers on, well, hung on; as the magpie gleam tarnished and the barely submerged wilful perversity once again rose to the surface; as the slide downwards at the far end of the road started to gather speed, leading to the inevitable conclusion; well, that's when things got really interesting.

The musicianship was never a problem, as Ball seemed to emerge fully formed as the studio boffin of choice for all right thinking technoheads, but Almond suffered a barrage of thinly concealed homophobia disguised as criticism about his voice, his persona, his actions; HIM. It should be remembered that while Boy George was embraced as "one of Britain's stately homos", Almond was villified and hounded to an unbelievable degree. Not just by the tabloids, but by the music press as well.

And so the material got darker as the technology improved. The voice became "better" as the lyrics became a whirlpool of blackness, sinking down beneath the thudding drumboxes and Korg riffs. Jim Foetus appeared in the inner circle. There were mad fans. There were more drugs.

I've always thought the band should be given much more credit for recognising the potential of the 12' single and for utilising the format to the maximum extent, steeped as they were in the hedonistic disco clubs and the Northern soul sound emanating from the holy square demarcation boundaries of Manchester, Blackpool, Wigan and Leeds. Their stomping ground.

"Soul Inside" is a case in point. The seven inch edit nestles among a head-kicking extended eleven minute version which gives itself over to abandonment as soon as the needle hits the record. It's one of their most underrated songs, I think. The fact that they could still propel this stuff into the mainstream, released as it was as a preview from their final album, the wonderfully titled "This Last Night In Sodom" was a thing to be cherished then and now.

This lovely German edition on the spiral Vertigo label is enough to get the collector nerd in me especially excited. All artwork fully included, of course.

The B side features a couple of timely John Barry covers (quite by accident, as I ripped this last week). "You Only Live Twice" is a great version of a wonderful song, built around a classic Dave Ball arrangement. Also featured is their original, "Loving You, Hating Me", which in a nutshell, tells us everything we need to know about where Almond was at around this time.

I hope you're wearing something black.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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