Friday, June 05, 2009

Dirty Black Psummer

We’ve talked about Chicago’s Cave here before and since they’ve released a heavy new album Psychic Psummer let’s speak of them again.

As befits the title Psychic Psummer is a lighter record than last years Hunt Like Devil, still monomaniacal in chasing a single chord down the rabbit hole but airier and less in thrall to a basement-dwelling caveman ughthetic. If the first albums jams suggested an aircraft in a holding pattern over a decaying industrial city at dusk, this time it’s over green and yellow fields of crops at dawn.

I still bet if you met the band in person they’d smell of sour bongwater and too many roll-up cigarettes though.

Cave – Requiem for John Sex [ysi]

Ugly MySpace Buy

I’m guessing this might be the guy they’re jamming about:

...Read more

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wires of Our Nerves

A lot of the new ugh-fi, bathed in reverb ‘shit-gaze’ bands fail for the same reasons that their predecessors did; the murk isn’t that murky and even when it is the hooks aren’t razor-sharp enough to cut through. And I realise that Crystal Stilts, Vivien Girls et al see some sort of correlation between Spector’s Wall of Sound and their own Wall of Shit but really, can we let the Ronettes drum-patterns and girl group sprecht-song drop? Face it: The Jesus and Mary Chain were always weak sauce.

All of which is a really tangential way of saying that I wish “Living Wage” by Richmond, Virginia’s Nerve City was recorded loud because under the boombox aesthetic it’s one of the catchiest, play-ten-times-in-a-row garage rock jams I’ve heard in years. The fact it bears a title that makes it sound like some lost Thatcher-era anarcho-punk track only makes it more endearing.

Nerve City – Living Wage [ysi]

MySpace Buy

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dyed with the Urine of Phil Collins and the Blood of Jerry Garcia

It always feels like a cheat calling out summer jams before I’ve even had a chance to determine what kind of summer it’s going to be, but since I was sweating like a rapist just walking out to get some onions to use in tonight’s stuffed courgettes I’m gonna plump for one. It’s from DFA, a record label one wouldn’t have tagged as a generator of tracks to listen to in the baking sunshine in their first few years of existence, but it’s from their 12” hook-up series with Rong records and they’re a little more daylight sometimes.

The original of DJ Kaos’s “Love the Night Away” skates by nicely like The Scorpions attempting a vocal cover of Simple Minds “Theme from Great Cities” but it’s the version by Sweden’s Tiedye (who have released a couple of one-sided 12”s on Italians Do It Better) that really hits that sweet spot. The vocal from the slightly stiff, Teutonic original is kept then dropped wetly on top of more Balearic and yacht rock sleight-of-hand than any song this side of Studio’s remix of Kylie. Bongoes, then popping bass, delicious cocktail piano runs, flighty synth arpeggios, echo vox and, best of all, twin lead guitar solos are all present and correct. It’s a track pumped up to the point of bursting, but only to force one to roll down the windows on the Mondeo and let the sound outside to the people where it belongs.

(And how did it take me so long to realise that Tiedye isn’t a Swedish word but something that you probably don’t want to do your t-shirts?)

DJ Kaos - Love the Night Away (Tiedye Mix) [ysi]

DJ Kaos MySpace Tiedye MySpace Buy

The Way You Go Hog Wild

Mainly because I had a jpeg that said Shanty Tramp but also because I wanted an excuse to listen to this song over and over again.

“Shanty Tramp” is ultra-addictive “TV Eye” mainlining garage-punk from Victoria, Australia and that’s all I need some days. This was released as a single back in 1990 and there was no more after that as a couple of them got killed in a car crash. This seven-inch makes a great tombstone though.

The Dirty Lovers – Shanty Tramp [ysi]


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Listening to the mix of dubstep low-end and mid-range isolationalist murk of Mount Kimbie’s “Maybes” sent me back to listen to its nearest junglist equivalent, Third Eye Foundation’s “Semtex” for the first time in years.

Matt Elliott’s Third Eye Foundation emerged from a nineties Bristol scene of lo-fi four-track post-shoegaze bands like Movietone, Crescent and most famously Flying Saucer Attack. Think dense clouds of guitar fog covering mumbled vocals. Like the contemporaneous Bristol trip-hop units, these groups made blunted torpor work for them as an aesthetic strategy. The first two albums by Third Eye Foundation were in this vein, if more hostile (sample seventeen-minute track title: “Way Out Like David Bowman”).

Then in 1996 on Domino Records short lived electronica sub-label Series 500 Elliott dropped “Semtex”, a ten minute sprawl of mezzuin calls, and the usual thick smear of noise but this time pierced by breakneck, hyperactive jungle drum clatter. Writing on drum & bass and on noise has often deployed oceanic and back-to-the-womb metaphors, but “Semtex” is like swimming in a dense slime filled with metal shards.

Here’s the shorter (by five minutes) but harder hitting version:

Third Eye Foundation – Semtex (Version) [ysi]

MySpace Buy

Cosmic, like Jack Kirby

Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom’s Days of Mars was an album that either came thirty years too late or a little too early. Not that it didn’t sound fantastic in 2005. It did, but would have found a larger, more attentive audience being released around the same time as Lindstrøm’s Where You Go I Go Too, Alex Moulton’s Exodus or Williams’ faithful cover of Tangerine Dream’s “Love on a Real Train”.

Of course, Delia & Gavin did blow up in 2006 via Carl Craig’s expansive remix of their “Relevee” (a track title that I have always read with a transposed L and V until typing this) and three years later Russom is back under the name Black Meteoric Star with a more abrasive, drum heavy take on their earlier modular analogue sound.

The six tracks that Black Meteoric Star will be releasing on three 12”s (and then a CD) over the course of 2009 take his cosmic music onto the dancefloor. This is overdriven techno with filtered white-noise cymbals and analogue bleep and blat arranged into hypnotically garish patterns like closely viewed benday dots on a 60s comic book page. The title of one track, “World Eater” even references the impossibly powerful Marvel Comics character Galactus. (Or possibly a Warhammer 40,000 game)

The track here, the repetitive and trancelike “Domination” is echoing without being dubby, and bold and distorted without causing the urge to struggle into a gold American Apparel tubetop. OK, let’s face it: “Domination” is the thickest, soupiest kind of acid house. It’s time for Mixmag to run their bi-annual Acid Is! Back! cover again.

Black Meteoric Star - Domination [ysi]

MySpace Buy

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Quote Kinda Dropped In (Like Pitchfork Pad Out Their News With)

One night Edge also overdubbed a cool guitar part, that was named "spirit of punk rock", which is a reference to "the spirit of jazz", a character in the Mighty Boosh TV show.
U2 producer Declan Gaffney on the genesis of "Get On Your Boots"


We’re late on it, but here’s a perceptive essay for Frieze magazine by DJ /rupture about the uses and meanings of Auto-Tune. The stuff about its uses in North African music is something Brian Eno should maybe think about next time he feels the need to spout his guff about how Africans can’t bear to sit still and work at computers.

Near the end of the article he writes about Champion DJ’s “Baako” which “is built around a baby crying through Auto-Tune. The software bends the baby’s anguish into eerie musicality. The ear likes it. The mind isn’t so sure. “Baako” is disturbing. The aestheticized cry no longer corresponds to any normal emotion.”

“Baako” sounds a bit like the mewling baby from the untouchable “Are You That Somebody” by Aaliyah did a Jordy and went solo. And a bit like the end of end of Donald Cammell’s 1977 computer-horror film Demon Seed when the part-human part-computer offspring of Julie Christie and a computerised house is born. Or maybe like the lil Lil Wayne from the front of “Tha Carter III” calling for a (literal) lollipop. Apparently the baby voice is taken from this.

DJ Champion - Baako [ysi]

Friday, May 22, 2009

People in Flames Don’t Eat Quiche

That someone would mix the top-end of redux shoegazing murk with dubstep rhythms was a given, what’s surprising is that instead of it being someone like School of Seven Bells stumbling over a new beat to use, it came from within dubstep. (And let’s not call it shoe-step). Released on Scuba’s longstanding Hotflush label, Mount Kimbie’s “Maybes” opens with repeated clangs of foghorn guitar that sound like they are being played from the top of a lighthouse and recorded from a damp beach a couple of miles away. This is the epic mountainside guitar of pomp-rock suddenly sodden and sorry for itself until the pops and sharp jerks of the drums force it into life.

Second side title “Taps” could describe the funeral march pace or the way that the rhythms sound like something constructed from the sound of a dripping tap as a Tomorrows World demonstration of the possibilities of sampling. At times static and sketchlike, Maybes is the perfect title for this EP; ideas in miniature begging for expansion.

Mount Kimbie - Maybes [ysi]

MySpace Buy

Thursday, May 21, 2009

External Scaffold of Pox

Just reissued under the rubric of being “Carl Craig’s favourite album” is Bernard Szajner’s Some Deaths Last Forever from 1980. It’s an album of naïve melodies, raw arpeggiator grot and the sort of clean and snaking guitar noodling that seems to be many post-prog musicians immediate response to the mechanisation of their craft (definitive example: Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4).

Szajner’s most famous album is Visions of Dune (recorded under the name ZED) which was inspired by the Frank Herbert’s SF book series and recorded with members of Magma. Analogue synthesis as landscape recurs here but interiorised, although the track “Ritual” is also not too far geographically from the urban wasteland of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, albeit mixed with an Eno-type melody.

Bernard Szajner - Ritual [ysi]

Bernard Szajner - The Memory [ysi]

Homepage Buy

Oh, and even if Szajner had never made any records he’d still go down in history as the inventor of the greatest instrument of the 20th century, the Laser Harp:

...Read more

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pop-Cap: Sonic Youth - The Eternal

Truth in advertising: it does seem to last forever, like death.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pop-Cap: Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship

Sounds like I imagine the one OK track might on all those minor Euro-prog obscurities that I download from sharity blogs and then eventually delete before even unzipping them.

“Insane Beauty”, Like One Says On Our Premises

Desire - Oxygene [ysi]

A couple of days ago my physical copy of the seven track version of Desire’s self-titled CD arrived. One of the tracks that never made it to the internet was “Oxygene” and I naturally figured that it would be a slowed down but dancefloor ready version of the Jean Michel Jarre track that that originally got me into electronic music in the first place (thanks to its use in a train based C64 computer game).

Instead, Desire singer Megan Louise is keeping it Quebcois; this “Oxygene” is a French language slow ballad with synths wavering like sob-racked lungs which is a cover of a song by Montreal singer Diane Dufresne who has been performing since the late 60s.

I couldn’t track down an MP3 of the Dufresne original, or even that much about her, but check out this amazing live YouTube for:
Dufresne’s nuts Devo-rutting-with-Klaus-Nomi costume
An audience that’s equal parts Last Night at the Proms and Boys from the Blackstuff
And, if you click through, the YouTube commentariat getting heated about whether Daphne or Celine is Canada’s queen bee

Oh, and fuck it, here is a disco version of Jarre’s Oxygene:

Mc Lane Explosion - Oxygene (Special Greg Wilson Re-Edit) [ysi]

Buy Desire

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pop-Cap: Hector & Bryant – Tension 12”

Unfair record review concepts number one in a series of seventeen:

“Tension” is the first 12” release from the label arm of London dance music store Phonica, a shop I’ve dropped a wad of cash to over the past few years. And often I’ve dropped that cash directly into the paw of Hector. So how does his 12” compare to his counter service?

Well, both take their time to accomplish their tasks, “Tension” brooding on fuzzy middle distance dubbed-out chords and bass clonk for over eight minutes, and Hector leisurely ambling down the counter to fetch whatever I’m after.

Otherwise they couldn’t be further apart; “Tension” is single minded and focussed, never deviating but getting more and more caught up in the web of its own echoes. It certainly doesn’t sound like if it scored a job in a busy record shop it would carry on a conversation with other members of staff despite the fact that someone was standing in front of it with a bunch of records or stop midway through ringing stuff up in order to have a five minute conversation with some other customer it knows.

(The only other ‘celeb’ I’ve bought records from is one of I Monster. He was pretty good so long as you were buying prog).


Saturday, May 09, 2009


One of the few good things to ever turn up in the Rocktimists inbox is this SirBilly edit of Dead or Alive’s 1982 UK Indie Chart hit “The Stranger”. Although Pete Burns was the singer, Dead or Alive’s main songwriter and guitarist at this point was Wayne Hussey, later of flour-covered goths The Mission, and it really shows in the original versions surfeit of chorused guitar arpeggios. In this edit SirBilly shears the guitar fluff and concentrates on chopping and dubbing the drum machine beat.

I’d never considered it before but Pete Burns pretty good tranny act and Wayne Hussy’s spag-bol gothic get-up do both obviously have their origin in the same Liverpool post-punk look (with Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch being the midway point between them).

Dead Or Alive - The Stranger (SirBilly Liverpool Edit) [ysi]

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pop-Cap: Burial / Four Tet – Moth / Wolf Cub

Burial. Four Tet. Aside from each attending the same school it seems an odd collaboration. Burial’s aesthetic is pared down to not just sifting through the refuse of a particular seam of UK garage but certain hours of the night, atmospheric conditions and London boroughs. Whereas Four Tet’s Keiren Hebden thrives on stylistic profligacy; taking inspiration from slews of post-rock, cosmic jazz, folk, post-J Dilla beat craft and, yes, garage. One a moth, one a wolf cub.

If the clanks like rusted windchimes under flickering strip lighting that open “Moth” could be either of them, then the swung hi-hats and ebb and flow that, despite the four to the floor four kick, is more lung motion than heartbeat of the rest of the track really does sound like a combination of their strengths—Burial moving from darkly cramped garage to unrenovated house. It’s a doer upper. Only the dislocated female vocals that are more gesture than sense sound imported wholesale from Burial’s usual palette.

Whilst “Moth” synthesises, “Wolf Cub” is scrappier. The never quite reconciling thumb piano loops and deep tubular chords sound like Four Tet, then when the scratchy, itchily swung beat enters two-and-a-half minutes in, well, there’s Burial. The two levels never quite meet, never converse, just warily circle like Japanese fighting fish.

(Track titles may be reversed!)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First Transmission

Shuffle the papers and stare at the screen. In your office. In his office. At his desk. Shuffle and stare. Again and again. They are outside. The bastards and bullshitters. The bastards and the bullshitters who got you here. Here, here in his fucking office. They loved him. They hate you. Not for what you do. They hate you for what you are. For who you are. For where you come from. They hate you and they want to destroy you. The men who hold the strings. You can’t sweet talk them. You can’t wine them and dine them. Not like he did. Not now. Not anymore. Maybe, you never could. Maybe, they did it for him. Indulged you. Indulged you for his benefit. And those bastards. The bastards and the bullshitters. Whispering in your ear. Telling you to go for it. Telling you he’s weak. With his crusades. His crusades and his lies. No one wants the job. Not now. No one here. Everybody knows it’s over. They can’t even mount a whispering campaign. There’s no one left. There’s no energy left.

Fuck them. Fuck them all. The bastards and the bullshitters. The bastards and the bullshitters, walking you to the chopping the block, walking you to the knackers yard. You’re still in charge though. Still running the ship. Leading the crew. The captain. The captain going down with the ship. So noble. So fucking noble. Captain of the HMS Titanic. Going down with his ship. The ship you built. The ship we built. Not them. Not the bastards and the bullshitters. Not them. Not them with their youtubes and their blogs. Fuck them. Bad advice, bad advice. But you listened. You listened to them. The bastards and the bullshitters. They said smile. Smile. Smile. Smile. And you did. You smiled. You smiled and shook hands. You believed them. Them with their youtubes and their blogs. You smiled. You smiled and the world laughed. Laughed at you. Mocked you. The bastards and the bullshitters. Their smears and their schemes. Their lies. Lies, lies, lies. His lies got you here. You used his lies. Turned them against him. Now what. You never lied. You accepted responsibility. You always did. You always will. Shuffle the papers and stare at the screen. Shuffle the papers and stare at the screen. Fuck them. Fuck them all. The bastards and the bullshitters. Fuck them.

You shuffle the papers for a final time. You stand up. Fuck them. Fuck them all. You will go down with this ship. You will take them with you. You never lied. You accepted responsibility. You. The captain of this ship. You will go down with your ship. You will take the responsibility. You will take his responsibility. You always did. You always will.

Warren Peas has written for magazines you have read. He came up with the name for this blog. It was as a joke so don’t hate him for it.

Italians Do It Cheaper

Here's two large scoops of Italians Do It Better related goodness:

Contradefacto On Blast have posted the six volumes of Chromatics tour CD-Rs, whilst Pukekos are offering what looks like the entire Glass Candy discography prior to their Italians... releases.

All this music is posted with the permission of the bands too.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Pop-Cap: Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications

The break-up of a marriage is slow, painful and demoralising but that doesn’t mean that a Jarvis Cocker solo album seemingly about the death of his should be too. Recorded quickly and cheaply with Steve Albini, Further Complications finds Jarvis trying to wear away the eternal good will afforded him by trying out multiple styles, all of which fit him as well as wifebeater and trucker cap would.

There’s asthmatic uhhs and yeahs on “Angela” and near-instrumental “Pilchard” as his band bluster through rocking out (well, it brought Nick Cave back right?). The dourly self-reflexive “I Never Said I Was Deep” rolls seemingly forever on instrumental vamps and weedy crooning that is more Phoenix Nights than Richard Hawley. There’s even a Batman theme knock-off about new super-antihero “Homewrecker” with, er, raunchy sax honks (by ex-Stoooge Steve MacKay) that seems designed to cash in on Jarv seeing a gaggle of women with fifties tattoos on Shoreditch High Street.

In place of wit or insight, weary puns abound (continuing the bad tabloid feel of his previous albums “Fat Children”). The only respite is on nine-minute closer “You’re in my Eyes (Discosong)” where Jarvis wheezes and his band jam over a loop from Glass Candy’s “Rolling Down the Hills” as warm backing coos gradually thaw the frost from his bones.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fisking Adam Thirlwell

Where to start? At the beginning. Or not quite: the first sentence just about holds up. 'In 1967, André Labarthe filmed a conversation between Jean-Luc Godard and Fritz Lang.' The second is trickier but passable. 'It was called The Dinosaur and the Baby.' Labarthe's film was called that, not the conversation. 'Godard, along with François Truffaut, was then at the head of the new tendency in French film, the Nouvelle Vague.' No. Eight years before Truffaut and Godard had part of what had been a new tendency. By 1967 it was all over.

This is pendantry, of course, but Thirlwell's style calls for that. His erudition, such as it is in these matters, seems to be lightly worn, and if occasionally he makes weird (kind of Martin Amis-y?) interjections -- 'But youth is elusive. Youth is complicated.' -- we can count them as stylistic flourishes, a form of phatic speech. Everything is transparent, everything clicks together. Except, as above, it doesn't.

The style, which he shows no sign of giving up on, is 'deceptively simple'. The more confidently and simply something is stated, the greater, or at least more annoying, the deception. 'The Nouvelle Vague put cinema into the street'; 'Bazin's two heroes were Robert Bresson and Roberto Rossellini'; the protests around the sacking of Langlois 'culminated in the May évènements' (someone's been watching The Dreamers); 'The essayistic tendency was patented by Godard'.

It's the last quotation that's perhaps most damaging, since the whole essay is based on the misconception that the nouvelle vague comprised only the filmmakers who started out at Cahiers. In that respect and others it's a very old-fashioned piece: in other quarters, 2009 seems to be the year the 'Left Bank Group', which included the real pioneers of the essay-film, finally gets its due. Thirlwell instead tells us the story about Godard not directing Bonnie and Clyde for the umpteenth time.

The simplicity is misleading in other ways too, simply because reality is elusive. Reality is complicated. So when Thirlwell says 'The Nouvelle Vague, so canonical, so assured of its own history, was really the joyful experiment of a few excitable friends,' we have to be prepared to be told later that it 'believed in a utopian politics, constantly trying to invent new means of cinematic production.' Neither assertion is true, though at least the second acknowledges that the nouvelle vague depended on harnessing the 'means of cinematic production' and that this was not always joyful. (I don't know what 'so canonical' is meant to signify here.)

For the Nouvelle Vague was truly young - the directors' experiments remain contemporary. They are still a shock. And their lesson is delight.

How 'young' are Rohmer's films, how 'delightful' Chabrol's? Nonsense. How, after all this memorialization and hero-worship, its mythology accreted over decades, is the nouvelle vague a shock to anyone?

Friday, April 24, 2009

RIP Big Man - Marilyn Chambers (Addendum)

Marilyn Chambers - Benihana [ysi]

What is it about porn stars and Disco? Most famously there's tracks from Dennis Parker ("Like an Eagle") and Andrea True ("More, More, More") but even Marilyn Chambers had a go with "Benihana" in 1977. It looks like she made a play for the mainstream that year, also appearing in Cronenberg's vampire-armpit flick Rabid.

In truth "Benihana" is nowhere near as good as the aforementioned songs but it has a nice intro, is breezy and plays the post-Donna Summer, post-hardcore moan card to endearingly stupid effect near the end. Unh yeah, unh yeah.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Neutral and Independent

Sir Richard Bishop - Ka'an Azzaman [ysi]

Omar Khorshid - Ka'an Azzaman [ysi]

Here's a simple compare and contrast between a track from ex-Sun City Girl Sir Richard Bishop's forthcoming album The Freak of Araby and the piece by Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid that it covers. Both are sumptious and spacey pieces of guitar and percussion and for once Bishop may have been out-freaked.

Bishop writes:
When I began my recording session back in December the first song I recorded was “Ka’an Azzaman” which is a cover song written by Elias Rahbani, born in 1938 and one of Lebanon’s finest song writers, arrangers and composers (I am half Lebanese just so you know). The version of this song that I was familiar with was an instrumental version by late Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid (1945-1981) who is one of my favorite guitar players of all time, and quite unknown to a lot of people.

Sex with the Headless Corpse of the Virgin Astronaut

Giuliano Sorgini - John Dalton Street [ysi]

“John Dalton Street”, the main theme from The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (or Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti in the original Italian) is rather gorgeous considering that it’s taken from a film that was classified a video nasty in the run up to the Video Recordings Act of 1984. But then, of the original list of 74 nasties, only eleven are now banned outright (mainly for showing Nazis molesting women), with Manchester Morgue passing uncut on reclassification in 1992.

In truth it’s not that gory, but it is tense and is one of the few proper zombie films set in Britain prior to 28 Days Later and Sean of the Dead, albeit a Britain shot partly in Italy by a Spanish Director and with an almost entirely Italian cast who seem to have been given only the direction; to look as much as possible like they have never visited the country. Even English sounding star Ray Lovelock was actually born and raised in Italy. More strangely there’s an inexplicably American police inspector played by Arthur Kennedy, an actor who pretty much appears as that-one-American-guy in Italian movies after roles at home dried up. In this film he is, as you’d want an American cop washing up an Anglo backwater to be, a supreme dick: “You’re all the same the lot of you with your long hair and faggot clothes, drugs, sex and every sort of filth. And you hate the police don’t you?” “You make it easy”, Lovelock reasonably replies.

Despite the title, the bulk of the film plays out in the ‘Lake District’ with only the most cinematically exciting part of the film—which is actually the title sequence—taking place in Manchester as Lovelock closes up his antique shop, wraps a scarf around his face then escapes on his motorbike from a Manchester shown to be almost more apocalyptic than the zombie filled countryside. Under acid skies he steers his bike through smoke-belching traffic jams, surgically masked passers-by, dead birds and a flasher, before passing through desolate industrial zones before reaching the calm of the countryside.

Giuliano Sorgini is mainly known as a library composer (though his imdb listing does include tantalising sounding soundtracks for Porno-Erotic Western and Naked Exorcism and the breakbeats, jaunty flute and mile-marker strings of “John Dalton Street” could pass for a library track called “Escape” or suchlike if it wasn’t for the almost subliminal atonal organ and the rattling percussion that stays a few moments too long for comfort.

The title sequence isn’t on YouTube, but here’s a video by the heavy-as-fuck Electric Wizard which incorporates some parts of it:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Womb on Legs

The Geraldine Fibbers - Fancy [ysi]

We’ve spoken before of our love for Bobbie Gentry’s 1969 Southern Gothic country hit “Fancy”, a glittering piece of solid-gold, greatest-of-all time gutter-to-penthouse braggadocio that makes everything on similar subject matter by, I dunno, Jay-Z sound like weak sauce. Anyone can make it selling drugs but how many have bragged that they’ve done it selling their arse? And who, after writing a song like that has then still been in the position where they can sing about getting put on the game by their mother on an early evening variety show? (See below for the YouTube clip of that).

“Fancy” is a great song before we even get to the ludicrously overstuffed embarrassment of riches that is the production; Muscle Shoals session whizzes cramming in funky drumming, ominous string swoops, jauntily mocking horn parts, sweetly cooing call and response parts and a breakdown that sounds like a hayseed Timbaland. The delicate overload of the original makes it a hard song to cover if, like the Geraldine Fibbers, you’re operating in the post-grunge-explosion shitstorm when major labels were signing anything that could be prefixed ‘alt-’ in the hope of someone turning a profit. The fake-indie (Virgin subsidiary Hut) self-titled mini-album that “Fancy” comes from has a (hidden) track where The Geraldine Fibbers team up with Beck but whilst he managed to turn his smarmy faux-irony into a lasting career, Geraldine Fibbers records were easier to find as ex-promos in the quid bins of second hand shops than new in the racks of the megastores even as they came out—they were too country for alt-rock kids and too alt- for alt-country bores..

After mystifyingly dropping some of the best lyrics in the song (“now in this world there's a lot of self-righteous hypocrites who call me bad and criticize mama for turning me out no matter how little we had”) the Geraldine Fibbers focus on the snare snaps of the original then swap that versions steely restraint for a constant build into fiddle scree and guitar squall that finally tips into a final section of an imagined reality where the Fibbers are car radio staples, all Rolling Stones ‘woo-woo’s.

There’s some great Youtube comments for this clip too:
wamij2 (1 day ago)
bobbies puss was first .... hot slut knew wen to exit.

kindofobvious (2 days ago)
youtube recommended this to me. This abstract shack. This womb on legs. ...
I like it.

whuju (1 month ago)
holy f&*king S%@t. I've been a hip hop head most of my life and I'm absolutely in love with this song. SO REAL!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mix Up

Now that he's no longer writing songs like "Pissfun", "Rapeday" and "Wriggle like a Fucking Eel" with ludicrous power-electronics group Whitehouse, William Bennet has reinvented himself as the italo-disco playing DJ Benetti. You can download a mix of his in the Bleep43 podcast series. And when I say Whitehouse were ludicrous it's meant in the best way, they were fucking hilarious the one time I saw them live.

Bleep43 also have a Messiaen podcast. Now that's a name that doesn't crop up in mixes too often.

Over at Lower End Spasm there's a recording of Crazy Cousinz playing some UK funky at the Night Slugs first birthday party.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We Once Hunted for Boars, We Now Hunt for Knowledge

Here's hot new web 2.0 site We Are Hunted schooling us all on what's popular out there. And apparently it's "Whispering Your Name" by Alison Moyet, from her 1994 number 24 album Essex. Remember, you heard it there first because We Are Hunted isn't just any online chart, it's the Online Music Chart. With capitals.

Did I Mention My Woman?

Chris Hodge – We’re On Our Way [ysi]

Like Bobby Gentry’s “Fancy”, “We’re On Our Way” is a work of compact maximalism that sometimes plays out like a list of how many of my favourite ingredients are crammed into it’s two minutes fifty seconds: choir, bongos, sitar, organ and a guitar figure a bit like the one on The Thirteenth Floor Elevators “Slip Inside This House” for starters. Plus enough oohs and aahs for a seventies German porno, and despite most of the lyrics being a goofy UFO fantasy Hodge still manages to inform the listener that his “woman’s a sexy lady, she makes love like a dream”.

Currently Hodge’s super-minimal homepage (resplendent with non-functioning buttons to buy from i-Tunes) is Google ranked below “Chris Hodge used trucks, commercial vehicles, lorries, vans, trailers and prime movers” but in 1972 Hodge must have thought he had it made after being signed to the Beatles Apple Records label. Instead he went nowhere with this sole release, possibly because his whole shtick seems so much more 60s than 70s, or possibly because he had the wrong backers at Apple—Ringo discovered him and, weirdly, Yoko’s ex-husband produced the track. Still, dope as fuck and there are cheap picture sleeve copies on e-Bay all the time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Engineers of Desire

Desire – Under Your Spell [ysi]

Another year, another project from disco king Johnny Jewel who really is taking the Italians Do It Better label name/bumper sticker to heart when it comes to fertility. I suppose that they do say of him that “he has no decision, he’s just trying to sell a vision”. As Desire (and there’s only fifteen other artists called that in Discogs) he has recruited Montreal based singer Megan Louise for more tracks that mine his characteristic pensive synth and echoed-guitar disco sound. Desire are breezier and poppier than the emotionally spaced-out Chromatics and lack the occasional Southern rap keyboards of Glass Candy. As with the Jewel produced Farah 12” the tracks are occasionally dual language but this time it’s the more pop-friendly French rather than Farsi. There is something very teenage about Desire, something gauche and about feelings being felt for the very first time. Synthetics strings keep things buoyant whilst Megan Louise sings with an easy melancholy glide that makes shopworn lyrics about being under a spell and “mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all” slip down easier than they possibly should.

There is another excellent Desire song for download from the Italians Do It Better blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


When Warren G first jacked Michael McDonald’s sublime “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” for his almost as good “Regulate” it seemed kind of, well, weird as fuck to me.  Mainly because I was a pretty deluded punk rock kid who, like a lot of my naïve contemporaries, viewed Public Enemy as the rap norm and anything which deviated from their heavy and righteous political programme as suspect. I certainly didn’t consider, y’know, AOR fluff to be a suitable basis for hip-hop. In retrospect it seems a fit as tight as two pieces of a jigsaw. McDonald’s adopted Los Angeles is twenty miles from G’s native Long Beach, and McDonald’s music—the early solo tracks and those with Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers—tells part of the tale of California in the mid-70s—early 80s just as much as g-funk tells the part of the tale of the early-to-mid-90s.

I’m less sure what to take from the unexpected appearance of McDonald on a dubstep track by the straight-outta-Leeds Pangaea. His voice is blanched out beyond meaning with extreme reverb Burial-style, possibly due to inner city alienation or because expressing emotion too directly is a bit icky innit or simply as a contrast with the itchy and bone dry layers of percussion. I gotta say though, dubstep crew should start repping for the UK with samples of obscure jams by homegrown talent like Hue and Cry or M People.

And just so no-one can say that at Rocktimists we’re not down with the dubstep sound of six months ago I’ve also been enjoying Skream’s “Galassia”, a twenty-seven minute entry into the Nike+ Original Run series. I’m never going to use this for its intended aerobic purpose but unlike LCD Soundsystem’s patchwork “45.33” it does seem possible. (I did pitch Nike a series of fifteen second run for the bus tracks by grindcore groups but no go). Really though, just as Burial suggests the sound of zone one to three London night buses, the sleek, ever accelerating variations on simple two-note bass swing and kick of “Galassia” suggest late-night driving at speed, like a 21st century response to Giorgio Moroder’s ”The Chase”. Or possibly the spiralling synth-swells and almost disco syn-drum sounds reference the galaxy that 'galassia' translates to from the Italian.

Pangaea - Router (Original Mix) [ysi]

Pangaea records for Hessle Audio and tracks are available from Boomkat.

Skream - Galassia (Radio Edit) [ysi]

RIP Big Man - Marilyn Chambers

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thai Funk ZudRangMa

One thing lost since high-speed internet became common, at least to me, is emerging from a record shop having slapped down cash for something never seen or heard of before entering. The ability to download stuff before it’s released has had an effect (although there’s still plenty that I can’t find that way), as has the related shrinking of shop inventories, but mainly it’s because I get mailouts for most shops I go to that mean I’ve scanned everything new before even leaving the house.

So it was a surprise when I last visited Soho’s excellent Sounds of the Universe and the Thai Funk ZudRangMa compilation CD jumped out at me as a weird unknown. The sleeve is brightly coloured handsewn Thai fabric stapled inside a plastic bag with a card tab giving minimal info. It turns out that it’s a compilation of Thai funk and disco tracks from the late-60s to the early-80s which is surely one of the few under-fished waters left (if Sublime Frequencies or someone have put out ten comps like this, then forgive me).

Even when the packaging is cracked open there’s nothing beyond band names and track titles to provide any orientation; it would be nice to know who these bands were and why this music was produced. Instead there’s some spiel about how “music has no nationality, no discrimination, no boarder” signed off by the ‘Deephouse Brotherhood’, but if it’s anything sophisticated or nuanced you’re after, then don’t listen here; this is raw and stupid music with absurdly hissing hi-hats and rip-offs aplenty. Pretty much all the disco tracks are covers. There are two versions of Boney M’s “Rasputin” with new lyrics which, brilliantly, follow each other on the CD, moving from lo-fi but relatively faithful to a droning one-chord variation. ‘King of the talking music’ Plearn Promdan tells jokes over a sublimely muzzy “Ma Baker”. The Hot Pepper’s beautifully titled “Get on Train, Go with Bus, Elephant Ride, Put Up Tent” incorporates “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Boogie Nights” for two of it’s four sections.

Whilst the Thai bands are able to replicate the four-to-the-floor of the disco tracks, on anything funky they flatten out the swung beats, much as British beat groups did to the blues songs they glommed. A cover of B.T. Express song “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” emerges fairly faithfully but elsewhere there’s a track that sounds like a pop version of “Orgone Accumulator” by Hawkwind, whilst “Nam Man Pang (Expensive Gasoline)” (Fela Kuti-esque title!) is straight clonking fuzztone psych-rock complete with dunderheadedly monomaniacal guitar solo.

Plearn Promdan - Sam Bai (Jolly) [ysi]

Sroeng Santi - Nam Man Pang (Expensive Gasoline) [ysi]

I bought this CD from Sounds of the Universe though they are currently out of stock. There are still copies available from the label that released it, ZRM Records, whose shop also has a second-hand copy of a Thai single by someone/thing called Man City Lion!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rocktimix 02 – On Swirl Vertigo

Yesterday I posted a first attempt at a prog mix, one which was rejected by the friend I made it for on the grounds that it boasted pretty much zero prog content. So here’s the second attempt which really is 100% pure progressive through and through. Except maybe Donovan and Kevin Ayers. And the Castle Rhythmic Electronic Music track which is from a sixties seven-inch of Radiophionic Workshop style jams. Google brings up zero hits for it so it must be pretty obscure.

Despite what the title says, not everything on the mix was released on the Vertigo label. It was called that so I could do really crappy hand drawn version of the Vertigo logo as the cover of the CDr.  I think this mix is from March 2004.
Quiet Sun – Sol Caliente
Led Zeppelin – The Wanton Song
May Blitz – In Part
Kevin Ayers – Song For Insane Times
Savoy Brown – Hellbound Train
Babe Ruth – The Mexican
Donovan – Get Thy Bearings
Colosseum – The Kettle
Castle Rhythmic Electronic Music – Automaton
Kraftwerk – Ruck Zuck
Black Sabbath – The Wizard
Zakarrias – The Unknown Years
Os Mutantes – Mao Refrigerador Nao Funciona
This Heat – Repeat
Thin Lizzy – The Rise and Dear Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes
Welfare State and White Noise – Silence is Requested in the Ultimate Abyss
Yes – Heart of the Sunrise
Rocktimix 02 – On Swirl Vertigo [ysi]

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rocktimix 01 – Death to the 20th Century

I’ve just moved house. The number one lesson I learned is that owning over two-and-a-half-thousand vinyl LPs and 12”s is abject idiocy. By the time I’d shifted them out of a basement into a van, then out of a van and upstairs in the new house I hated them more than I obviously must hate myself in order to end up with them in the first place. Possibly I should have learned this the previous three times I moved house.

One thing I did find was a stash of CD-Rs of mixes that I’d made in the past and because the one thing the internet lacks is blogs posting mixes (and because it still sounds good) here’s one of them. In fact it’s the first mix I ever did, on Valentine’s Day 2004. I’d like to brag that there was a hot chick waiting in my bed for me when I was done, but I’m pretty sure I retired to a lumpy futon alone.

The only reason I made it was because a friend of mine made an all-prog mix and after listening I drunkenly claimed I could make a make a mix that could stamp his into the dirt. Which I did. He may have had DJ skills, decks and a mixer but I had the nous not to mix in Hanna-Barbera themes after King Crimson. This first mix was actually rejected by him though, on the grounds that instead of very much recognisably prog it consists of radiophonica, psych-pop, Stereolabia (<-- the punchline to a funny Lætitia Sadier gag) and tracks that sample or are by Grand Funk Railroad. The actual all-prog mix will follow tomorrow.
Oneida – Turn It Up (Loud)
Japanese Noise Band – At Random
Ray Cathode – Time Beat
Guiliano Sorgini – John Dalton Street
Broadcast – Test Area
Bleekmen – Untitled (Side A)
Metabolist – Identify
DJ Shadow – Hardcore (Instrumental) Hip Hop
Goblin – Mad Puppet
Paul Lansky – Mild und Liese
Bob Seger – Dr Fine
Mouth – Catch a Cab
Avalanches – Yamaha Superstar
The Horizontalist – Sudden Death Overdrive
Stereolab – Dear Marge
Mainhorse – More Tea Vicar
Bleekmen – Untitled (Side B)
Clearspot – Moonman Bop
Atomic Rooster – The Rock
Grand Funk Railroad – Nothing is the same
Bob Seger- 2+2=
The Equals – Stand Up and Be Counted
Rocktimix 01 – Death to the 20th Century [ysi]

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Capsule Review #7: 'The Damned United'

I wouldn't say Michael Sheen is the most irritating sub-Bremner impressionist in the business. But he's in the top one.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Prefab Sprout – Bonny (Leo Zero Edit)

There’s a lot of past out there now, more than ever, but it still runs out sometimes. A little over a decade ago rap producers found themselves running out of breakbeats and stabs to sample and make tracks with and obsessive psych collectors found themselves having documented every small run freakbeat single and private press prog obscurity. Luckily for both this was the time when radio and TV stations were getting rid of their libraries of vinyl LPs which had been superseded by CD and DAT. This meant that second hand record shops and market stalls—shit, sometimes bins and skips—were suddenly overflowing with library records meant to be used as backing and theme music that were filled with heavy breaks, rough sitar, wah-wah jams and post-Radiophonic Workshop synth-spatter (well sometimes—more often they featured feeble pastoral flute instrumentals and the like). Records that went for pennies when people initially had no clue what these things were (I got a bunch of Jack Arel albums for 50p each) soon escalated in price as collector scum realised that there was a new frontier, more stuff that hadn’t been heard and assimilated.

The disco re-edit scene must be in a mined-out state similar to the psych scene by now. How many disco tracks are there left to fuck with? I’m basing this only on a hunch, but I’m pretty sure that the last three years must have seen more re-edit 12”s released than there had been in all human history up to that point. From the caveman on up. So let’s give props to Leo Zero for looking to one of the least celebrated areas of British music history for one of his recent edits. That is, Mondeo Pop. It might have been the last time white British pop would interact with soul music on its own terms without being retro or ironic, without being embarrassed or losing their nerve but any love for Mondeo Pop has been conspicuously lacking in the recent 80s revival. Lush, glossy arrangements and unashamedly clever lyrics being a little harder to knock out than yet more deadpan vox and cheap keyboard trifle.

Prefab Sprout - Bonny (Leo Zero Edit) [ysi]

The fledgling Facebook Mondeo Pop group is here.

Leo Zero also has a new blog with edits and artwork. The versions of “Moonage Daydream” there are highly recommended. And these are the available Leo Zero records at Phonica.

Here’s a couple of other edits in a similar vein too, although both of these tracks have had some recognition as ‘balearic classics’. I’m a particular fan of the 1981 geezer-ELO of “I’m Not Moving” which is actually even better without the Idjut Boys hawking thick gobs of echo across it.  Let's make it a summer anthem '09.

Phil Collins - I'm Not Moving (Idjut Boys Edit) [ysi]

Chris Rea - On the Beach (Tangoterje Edit) [ysi]

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Arthur Russell – The Sleeping Bag Sessions

Since 2004, when Soul Jazz released the World of Arthur Russell compilation and Audika began reissuing albums including World of Echo and Another Thought and excavating the music that makes up Springfield and last years beautiful Love is Overtaking Me Arthur Russell’s rep has constantly grown. But it has perhaps grown-up lopsided, with Arthur’s incredible dancefloor tracks being overlooked in favour of the music that fits the image of a shy troubadour, bowing his cello and singing softly to the floor in endless recording sessions.

Partially this is because that image is one that sells and is easy to write about, but it’s as much because Arthur’s disco tracks were issued on 12”s spread across a variety of labels, some of which have been notoriously flaky about licensing their music out. Until recently, one of these was Sleeping Bag, a label actually co-started by Arthur. Taken together with the 2007 reissue of Dinosaur L’s 24→24 Music the release of the The Sleeping Bag Sessions means that all Russell’s music for the label is now easily available digitally and on CD. It’s a pity the packaging is so shoddy, with weak artwork (even if it is based on the Arthur Russell mixed 12” by Bonzo Goes To Washington) and, unforgivably, sleevenotes of only a couple of paragraphs chopped out of context from a Faith magazine article which mainly concern 24→24 Music. I don’t really need to say more than point out the font used is a variation on comic sans.

Not that all the tracks are straight fire. The Bonzo Goes To Washington funk-by-the-yard collaboration between George Clinton and Talking Heads Jerry Harrison has aged about as well as any other early eighties track that makes a feature of playing sampled voices up and down a keyboard. Think of those 'singing' dogs.  As politically motivated cut-up records go it’s more Paul Hardcastle than Steinski. The vocal chop-ups on the Russell mix of electro-rappers (deep breath) Sounds of JHS 126 Brooklyn are more compelling.

That hardly matters though. Even if you consider all the music that isn’t written by Arthur as bonus tracks, or don’t consider them at all, then this compilation is still crucial for the music he did write. The decentred, lurching funk of the Felix tracks, the up-close and personal mantra of “School Bell/Tree House” and the rhythmic wooze of the Walter Gibbons mix of “Go Bang!” are all as beautiful as any music ever recorded.

Sounds of JHS 126 Brooklyn - Chill Pill (Underwater Mix) [ysi]

Since it probably won’t appear anywhere legit anytime soon, here’s the bewildering 7” mix of Loose Joints “Pop Your Funk” which came out on West End in 1980. It sounds closer to Black Dice or Boredoms than to Lipps Inc.

Mix Up

It’s shameful to do two posts like this in a row but there’s a shit-tonne of excellent mixes out there at the minute so here goes:

Italians Do It Better label boss Mike Simonetti kicks it with his African Connection mix of “mostly African disco LPs and 45's mixed with some Caribbean and Jamaican tunes in there for good measure”.

Over at the always reliable FACT ex-Crosstown Rebels label boss Matt Styles jams together a “a kind of a proto-house selection, '83 hottmixx style” of mainly early-80s records.

Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve own a lot of psych records with the word 'mind' (or sometimes 'mynd') in the title and they'd like to play them for you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mix Up

Sometimes it seems all we do at Rocktimists is rep for the raw and squirming Dissident label and whatever mix they’ve currently got up online, but that’s with good reason. Resident Advisor have got a mix from label boss Andy Blake to go with a pretty interesting label profile.

I quit following dancehall about ten minutes after I started paying attention to it in, I dunno, ’05 or so coz nI just haven't got time to go after everything.  Plus it seemed to become really weak about then too.  So now once a year or so I download something like this Heat Wave mix of “over an hour of the most rowdy and x-rated Jamaican bashment from last year mixed in quickfire juggling style” and consider myself an instant expert again.

It’s the same with funky-house, follow behind someone else—in this case Grievous Angel’s “compilation of superb UK funky radio rips”—and have them apply the filter for me.

Last but not least, why not celebrate the sun peeping from behind the clouds long enough to make it worth removing a layer of clothing for with a mix of some of the greatest Mannie Fresh produced Southern rap tracks from over at Crossfaded Bacon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Interview with Animal Collective's Brian Weitz (aka Geologist).

An edited version of this interview, which took place on Monday March 16th, originally appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post. This is the extended fanboy-friendly remix.

(Photo by Meg Rorison, reproduced under Creative Commons licensing terms.)

You’re in the middle of quite an extensive European tour. Is travel still broadening the mind, or does it all become a mind-numbing routine?

It’s a mind-numbing routine. We’ve done it more times than I can remember at this point. We settle into it pretty quickly. But there are always nice parts of the tour, for sure. I’d never been to Milan, so it was nice to play a concert and then have a day off there.

Your ninth album [Merriweather Post Pavillion] has just broken through commercially, so you must be riding the crest of a wave at the moment. Was that something you had factored in? Were you expecting it in any way?

We had a sense that people would like it, and we thought we’d made something special – but we certainly didn’t expect it to do as well as it has. I wouldn’t say it’s any more successful artistically than past ones, because all of our records are intentionally different from each other.

We’ve always been inspired by pop music and dance music, which are palatable styles to people. In the past, we’ve obscured those influences, and kind of hidden them – whereas on this one, before we even started writing it, we said it would be fun to try something new, and just to be a bit more direct.

Does this success increase the pressure of expectation upon you, or are you oblivious to that kind of thing?

We’ve been doing it for a while, so we’ve dealt with negative reviews and we’ve played shows to one person. We’ve been playing together since high school, so if any moments that might be considered failure were gonna have a negative impact on us, it would have happened by now.

There’s a certain pressure that you feel from the outside. Our record label [Domino] is in London, so we have this direct line to the pulse of the UK press, like NME and all this stuff. And we did before that, when we were on FatCat – we’ve always had record labels based in the UK. So whenever we show up in London, the phone starts ringing from the label and from our booking agent, and so that place seems to be where we feel the most pressure.

But at same time, it’s really easy to just to take a step back and say: we’ve been doing this for so long, this is just another show. We can just section ourselves off and let the rest of the people worry about how many photo passes need to be given out, and that kind of stuff. I mean, we have a tour manager now, and people that can help us isolate ourselves from those sorts of things.

With a lot of bands that start with an experimental approach, success can lead to a pressure to round off the sharp edges. Could anything threaten your freedom to do whatever you please with the next project?

I think we’re totally free. Domino never asks for anything specific from us. They never ask to come into the studio; they never ask to hear what we’re working on. There certainly wouldn’t be any pressure from anybody else besides ourselves.

Again, I think when you’ve got a group of guys who have been playing together for fifteen years, they generally know. For the majority of that time, we were not releasing records – or we were releasing records to a very small amount of people and not making any money off it – yet we continued to do it, and so I think the foundation is pretty strong for integrity and doing what we want to do. The next project is already pretty far along, and I have to say that the sharp edges are probably even more extreme on it that they have been for a lot of the past records.

Are you sticking to your technique of touring the new material now, and refining it on tour?

No, actually. We’re doing something completely new. The next project is going to be a DVD, or a film. It’s the four of us, and a director that we’re friends with, and we’ve been creating this sort of visual album – which is how we’re thinking of it.

We’ve been trying to create it simultaneously, where we shoot visual things and we compose original music. We’re trying to do it where we pass it back and forth between each other – so that the visuals influence that we write, and then what we end up writing influences how the visuals are edited together, and how they’re cut. We’re pretty far along in the process, and it takes a while.

It’s not gonna be on Domino or a record label like that; we’re working with a small music DVD production company. We had to fund it ourselves, so the process is slowed down a little bit.

But it’s a kind of thing that’s never gonna be performed live, so we really want the visuals and the music to stay locked together. I’m sure that with the technology today, people are gonna extract the audio and it’s gonna be online. It’s gonna be this thing that very few people actually go out to a film festival and see, or purchase the DVD. But I dunno, maybe nowadays DVDs and visual things are passed around freely on the Internet?

There was an extraordinary pre-release hysteria, centred around your fans’ attempts to get leaked copies of your current album. Didn’t somebody actually hack into your own personal e-mail account?

They created a fake e-mail. We looked into it a little bit. We’re not exactly sure what happened, but I guess it’s not that hard to create a fake e-mail address, or something that just happens to look like an original one. It wasn’t actually mine; it was the band’s e-mail account, but the letter was signed as if it was from me.

An extraordinary volume of words have been written about you recently, particularly on the Internet. It feels like you’re the band that launched a thousand blog posts, and it almost makes me feel like I need some sort of post-doctoral qualification in Animal Collective Studies, before I can even start to discuss the work. Do you keep tabs on all of that? Does it mystify you, or does it interest you?

It’s better not to look at it, whether it’s positive or negative. If you open yourself up to reading positive stuff about you on the Internet, and if you place a value on it, then you also have to place a value on the negative stuff – and for all you know, it’s an 11-year old kid sitting at his parents’ computer.

With the Internet, you have to remember that a lot of these people aren’t even really qualified to discuss us, in my opinion. Like when we get on stage and Dave, who’s Avey Tare, is singing 80% of the song – but people still refer to him as Panda Bear, because they think that Panda Bear is the lead singer, because he’s put out a solo record. It just reminds us that there’s so many intricate things about our band that people still don’t understand, because they’ve put together an idea of our band from these little snippets that they’ve read.

On the Internet, there’s never any fact checking. Nobody knows if anything’s correct, even on our Wikipedia page. There was a rumour going around that Noah [aka Panda Bear] had gone to school with Tupac; it was on Wikpedia.

There is a mysterious, open-ended quality to your music, which can lend itself to people looking for stuff that isn’t there. Is there a temptation for people to over-analyse your work, when they should just ride with it and feel it?

It’s up to them, but I think in general we would prefer people just to feel our music. We’ve never been into very cerebral music ourselves. When we got into experimental music, we responded to things that felt like they were made from some kind of visceral inspiration – or where we had more creative reactions, like imagining little films in our heads. Then we were delving more into experimental music, and finding that there was a huge academic, sort of university side to it. It really turned us off, because to us it was not fun to interact with music in a super-cerebral way.

So we definitely don’t intend for our music to be taken that way. And I know it does for some people, and that’s fine – but it’s not what we intend.

Some people like a song to tell a story, or they like to be able to grasp its precise meaning within the first two or three listens. Because that’s not really the way your music works, some people will see it as “difficult” music – which makes them feel they’ve got to put the work in, to get that kind of meaning out.

It is intentionally confusing a little bit, just because we like confusing music. We like listening to music ourselves that can be somewhat disorienting. But it’s not intended to be completely difficult, or completely obscure.

All those things that are in there – like mystery, or some kind of confusing nature – are there more for enjoyment, because we’re hoping that people will relate to music the way that we do. We’re not there to cause over-analysis. But again, it’s not a negative thing.

How much importance should we place on the word “collective” in your band’s name? Does it describe the way you work?

There’s no Communist manifesto. We don’t all live together and take turns cooking breakfast and stuff like that. Some people think that there’s a reference to some sort of hippie commune thing, and that we believe in some idealist form of collective living. It really has nothing to do with it.

We didn’t even really want to use that word, back in the day. We were not going to have a band name. We would just write which of the four of us played on the record, or something like that.

We came up with Animal Collective when it was the four of us, because it was just too many names to write down. Like when we were going on tour: you can’t tell a club to write this on a chalkboard or a poster. So we said, we’ll just call it Animal Collective because the “collective” implies that it’s a rotating line-up of four people.

FatCat asked that we use that on all of our records, so that there could be an umbrella name for people to find us in record stores. And we were like: well, we’ve already used this on once on a tour when it was all four of us, so let’s just take what we did that time. Now we use it as an umbrella name for whatever combination of us play on a record, and I suppose that still means something. With this record there’s only three of us, whereas the past few records have been all four of us – and now the next thing will be all four of us again.

So Josh, the fourth member, is going to come back on board?

Yeah – like I say, we’re already pretty far along into the process of the next thing. The seeds of it started before we even recorded Strawberry Jam.

Does the Animal Collective creative process only start when you are physically in the room together, or do you work separately and pool your ideas?

None of us live together. Noah lives in Lisbon, I live in DC, Dave lives in New York, and Josh lives in Baltimore. So we have to schedule time to get to work on music – and that time is usually limited, because we’ll have some things going on in our personal lives that are equally, if not more, important than the music. So everybody usually has to do a lot of individual work at home. We have to talk a lot over the phone, or e-mail when we’re gonna get together and actually write and work on stuff.

Is that an egalitarian process? Do you have to consciously sublimate your egos, or are you fighting like hell to get your personal ideas accepted?

No, we’re all pretty good at keeping our egos in check. You always have to make more than you think you’ll need, in terms of ideas, because not every single thing you come up with will be in sync with somebody else’s ideas.

We’ve also gotten into the habit of sending little demos; recording stuff at home, and then using the Internet to send it to people. For Merriweather and for this visual project, that’s been a huge part of the creative process. Then if people don’t like it, the idea can die a really quick death – so your ego doesn’t even have time to get attached to it.

Having played together for such a length of time, you must have developed an instinctive, unspoken rapport – so that when you’re going off in a spontaneous direction on stage, you instinctively know where you’re all going.

Yes, we’re pretty good. We work pretty quick and pretty intuitively with each other at this point. Merriweather was kind of the same, when Josh decided he didn’t want to go on tour after we finished Strawberry Jam.

We weren’t even sure we were ready; we wanted to write new material, but we weren’t sure exactly how the process would start. Then Josh said: I don’t want to go on this next tour, and then we only had a month from finishing Strawberry Jam to the tour starting, and Dave and Noah and I were like: we’ve got to get together for a couple of weeks.

So everybody worked really hard at home for a couple of weeks, and then we’d get together for a couple of weeks. Then we wrote something like eight or nine of the songs for the record, just within those two weeks, before going on tour with them live. That was probably the fastest we’ve ever worked, but it just came together really intuitively. A lot of serendipity was involved, in terms of everybody being on the same page without being in the same room.

Are the songs are still evolving and going off in different directions on stage, or are you more scored and scripted these days?

There definitely is a script to the songs, for sure. We’re performing them in the same manner that they are on the records. There are open-ended moments in the set – like how we get into a song can change from night to night.

The middle of Guys Eyes has a pretty open-ended middle passage, where there’s no set length of time, and what people do in there is not really scripted so much. The beginning of Brother Sport is different, and we go in a different direction with it than we do on the record. So things are changing a bit, but we’ve always liked things to be different between the studio and the live show anyway.

I’ve spent a long time staring at the front cover of your album, so can you tell me what’s on that purple image that lies behind the green beans?

I don’t know, actually! Dave [Portner, aka Avey Tare] and our friend Rob who helps us with our graphic design did it, and they showed it to Noah and me. And we said: that looks cool. But I’ve never actually asked what they put behind it.

I heard Noah ask Dave once, and he said: oh, it was just a picture. So you’ll have to ask Dave if you see him, and I don’t know where he is at the moment.

It’s good you retain the sense of mystery, even within the band members…

Dave does a lot of the visual artwork, and we usually never ask him where he found something, or what he did to it to get it to look like that. The same also goes with Noah’s lyrics. We don’t really ask each other what people are singing about.

Mike Atkinson.
I do more of this sort of thing here.
...Read more

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tommy James and the Shondells – Cellophane Symphony

Ah, the internet. There’s always someone marking out every piece of territory before you even set off. How can we big up unmoored one-off “Cellophane Symphony” by Tommy James and the Shondells more incisively than this description:
As a joke, Tommy begins his proto-prog bloater with a few notes of an actual symphony. Har har. For a second, I thought I wasn't listening to shit. The title track is staggeringly bad drone, refusing all resolution and wielding a Moog like its own justification.
That would sell it to me, stat.

I’ve no clue why “Cellophane Symphony” exists. A ten-minute long instrumental opening title-track to an LP is a, uh, lateral move for the bubblegum poppers behind “Hanky Panky”, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, “Mony Mony” and early vocoder jam “Crimson & Clover”. If “Cellophane Symphony” is an attempt at psychedelia it’s remarkably free of histrionics and heavy artillery—there’s none of the bloooze-bore authenticity via guitar jerk that clogged Woodstock here. Instead it’s light and airy, floating on a bass riff that’s like a Black Sabbath that took helium instead of valium and brown ale. The drums are reined in and content to mark time with constant slow-mo fills whilst the organ and guitar circle each other warily. The aforementioned Moog does what it does best, throwing out little galaxies of spacedust across everything else.

Tommy James and the Shondells – Cellophane Symphony [ysi]

The Blue Wang Report

When Sick Mouthy wrote a piece on Watchmen that mentioned Billy ‘Big Boy’ Crudup’s digital blue wang I was unprepared for the amount of random Googler action that those simple words would bring. There are a lot of people out there searching for this guy's dick using a word that only a twelve-year-old or cretin would:
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Just imagine the hits Rocktimists might have got if Mouthy hadn’t missed the opportunity to work Billy Crudup’s blue penis, Billy Crudup’s blue dick, Billy Crudup’s blue cock, Billy Crudup’s blue balls or Billy Crudup’s blue pussy in there.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Book Review #1: Luke Haines - Bad Vibes

A degree less intelligent and cutting than it thinks it is—the consistency with the rest of Haines oeuvre is a victory for the auteur theory.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Capsule Review #6: 'The Class'

This film certainly 'makes the grade'. Coaxing some 'grade-a' performances from his cast, Laurent Cantet confirms that he is in the 'top stream' of filmmakers working today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mix Up

Currently rocking to:

Rocktimist fave Ali Renault (as part of his Heartbreak duo) has a mix up at Allez-Allez that spans from the League Unlimited Orchestra version of “Things That Dreams Are Made Of” to murdering black metal dimwits Burzum. Burzum have a songtitle that translates as “The Lonesome Mourning of Frigg”. It probably sounds better in the original Norwegian.

Urb have a mix from kosmische-trance dude Alex Moulton whose Exodus was my third fave album of 2008.

Roman “Alter Ego” Flügel has a sorta deep house mix that tries to capture “an entire night in a 50min mix” over at House is a Feeling.

Lastly, the latest mystery mix at the ever reliable DJ History is Afacan Sound System unleashing a load of ultra-obscure Turkish psych and disco tracks. This is the cheeky direct download link.