"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Thursday, 28 February 2008

"You'd shoot yourself"

The current version (Beetroot something?) of Cabaret Voltaire's tech-funk Sensoria - from Micro-phonies, a landmark of CV's industrial pop 1980s reincarnation - reminds me that the original is best (better than the pounding original 'Tokes' remix, though that probably has the superior samples). It does suffer from a fairly dubious keyboard half-way in, however...


Friday, 22 February 2008

Marconi microsound

Although it's gone a bit quiet lately, there's an exceptional set of dense, subtle microsound mixes by or involving the fine
Marconi Union (MySpace/Wikipedia) & fellow dubby ambientronica Dotca label mates like b:dum b:dum.

One of the best of these is the most recent (though hardly super-fresh, since it dates from last May), Prospector's
7.0 [NB: file is 31MB].

Includes such LMYE favourites as
Pan-American, Stars of the Lid & Frank Bretschneider, plus Eno (with Robert Fripp). Also MU themselves & Cliff Martinez (minor drummer legend reinvented as a film composer, responsible for the mesmerising soundtrack to the 2002 remake of Solaris).

[NB: Boomkat
claim that Eno asked MU to supervise the remastering of something of his, which is quite a compliment if true... There's certainly some connection since All Saints released the second MU album, Distance.]

7.0 is here for your convenience. 3.0 & 4.0 are also both outstanding. All the Dotca mixes are downloadable
here; some tracklistings are given too.

Here's some full-length versions from artists/tracks in 7.0.

Pan American - Wing (from Quiet City)

Stars of the Lid (MySpace) - Broken Harbors, Part 1 (from The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid)

Frank Bretschneider & Taylor Deupree - Interlock (from Balance)

Fripp & Eno (Fripp MySpace) - Meissa (from The Equatorial Stars)

Cliff Martinez (MySpace) - Don't Blow It (from Solaris S/T).

MU -
The Contact (from Under Wires and Searchlights)

More Martinez in this wonderful Solaris clip:

Monday, 18 February 2008

Value of defiance

Hard to capture now the almost shocking impact of the NME's C81 compilation tape back there in 1981 (well, on one deeply reverential teenage NME reader, at least, & quite possibly a few more...). Simon Reynolds has called it "post-punk's swan song", apparently, but that doesn't quite get the shift to a more diverse &, crucially, poppier aesthetic that this little £1.50 (& two coupons) tape encapsulated.

Which would, in turn & in time, lead to the whole mutant disco/punk-funk genre - particularly once house & Ecstasy had allowed a critical mass of earnest British white boys to loosen up & even deign to get on to the occasional dancefloor. New Order's career is a neat summary of this arc, as many people have pointed out.

Anyway, the C81's best track - & one that exemplifies the shift to a new pop sensibility at the start of the 1980s - is its first, Scritti Politti's The "Sweetest Girl".

Readers born into the digital era's luxury will have no conception of how insanely difficult it was then to hear non-chart music, even with two hours of John Peel a night. Often you had to guess what it might sound like on the basis of NME reviews. But by reputation Scritti were deeply unlistenable - tunes not really being the point for crusty Marxist squat-punks (though in fact Green had his falsetto going even back at the time of Skank Bloc Bologna's one-riff guitars & thrashed cymbal...).

So dishing up one of the most perfect pop songs of all time was fairly unexpected. For a raincoated gloomster, it made moods other than anguished Joy Division-ish melancholia possible for music & opened the door to other C81 delights, such as D.A.F, Josef K & even James Blood Ulmer & Linx.

Girl's effortlessness & lightness owe a lot to its delicate little drum machine track, dubby echoes & piano vamp (by Robert Wyatt, allegedly). Note how it smuggles in semiotics & self-referential meta-criticism ("The sickest group in all the world - how could they do this to me?") under the cover of its gorgeous vocal.

AMG call it "peerless block of lovers rock-inspired synth pop". Certainly, nothing in Green's long & - after a bit of a mad hiatus - ongoing career was ever as good.

You can get it on the Early compilation or on Songs to Remember.

C81s aren't easily come by, but try eBay.

Bonus track: the harder but also pretty sublime Lions After Slumber.

Check out the Scritti obsessives site bibbly-o-tek.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Stuttering, wriggling, angelic masterpiece

Aphex Twin yesterday brings us today to the endlessly fertile & fascinating Nobukazu Takemura, via AT's casual geniusTM version of Let My Fish Loose (from 26 Mixes For Cash).

Highlights of Takemura's own remixing include his cool take on Tortoise's TNT (from A Lazarus Taxon) &, especially, his stuttering, wriggling, angelic masterpiece around Steve Reich's Proverb (from Reich Remixed - subject of a previous post here).

His own Kepler (from Scope on Thrill Jockey) is also a tasty treat...

Background here.

Here's some Takemura video action (including a Japanese language interview - English translation here):

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