Saturday, 31 October 2015

Patrick Cowley - Muscle Up

I was very pleased to see this new release of old stuff. Patrick Cowley's 2013 archival record School Daze was terrific and this one is even better. This is more archival material from the 70s and early 80s. Some of these tunes were used in porn films. How lucky were these film makers who got to use Cowley's compositions in their pornos? I'm pretty sure if Cowley had lived beyond 1982 he would have become a renowned soundtrack composer. Cats Eye opens Muscle Up by setting a strange futuristic tribal atmosphere with haunting piano and very big and ominously slow drums. The Jungle Dream is an incredibly expansive and humid piece of ambience. It comes complete with jungle sounds and a faintly menacing vibe that something is occurring off in the distance. Conjuring thoughts of danger as there maybe some kind of sacrifice ritual taking place behind that next set of trees. Deep Inside You could be a Michael Rother/Neu outtake with its damn fine treated guitar and krautrock pulsations. Somebody To Love Tonight is neon lit night time synth dub for seedy city streets. Pigfoot is a glorious synth jam with classic funky guitar licks. 5th of Funk is some more mental synth funk/cosmic disco action. Don't Ask is a restrained cop show stakeout tune set in a future urban metropolis perhaps what Cowley imagined San Francisco might have been like in 2017, I mean he died over 30 years ago so... By the time we get to Uhura he's getting really out there into the cosmos. Timelink is Berlin School electronics with a didgeridoo which places the outback amongst the infinite stars, incredible stuff. Mockingbird Dream is a sprawling hallucinatory journey that slowly goofs off behind some unknown planet. Best archival release of 2015.

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Horror The Gloom The Doom

Halloween isn't really a thing here in Australia, despite many attempts by consumerist architects to make it so. I hate it when it gets referred to as an American custom as it quite clearly emanated from Celtic tradition and probably has Pagan roots. Anyway it's a good excuse to get out some frightening and gloomy tunes. I could have posted a hundred or more of these doomcore/gloomcore gems but here's just a handful. 

This one from Marc Acardipane is from 2002 but I only discovered yesterday. One World No Future came out after the 90s heyday of doomcore techno but it's damn fine. There's probably still a bunch of artists creating replicas of the genre and trying to keep the faith today, like there are still drum n bass people etc. 

Frozen is an alias for Miro. I think Frozen only did the one EP, Soul Saver, from 1997 where both of these tracks come from. Miro had a bunch of other pseudonyms Stickhead, Reign, Jack Lucifer, Evidence, Hypnotizer and the list goes on. He made many fine records and continues to this day doing minimal, sometimes quite dark, techno under his name Miro Pajic.

This is another 90s bewdy from Miro Pajic under the alias Evidence. This was on his 1999 compilation Hardcore Made In Frankfurt, probably released a few years earlier on 12".

Monday, 19 October 2015

On The Hi Fi - Recent Synth Soundtrax

Loving this. This is Steve Moore from Zombi, the synth-prog group who brought us the top faux electronic soundtrack albums Surface To Air and Spirit Animal in the 00s. If you know those records you'll know what you're getting here. This recording is an actual score to a film though. Cub is a retro-synth soundtrack that's so good it doesn't need to pretend it's anything new. This score is the sound of a man and his synthesiser creating fabulous minimal and spooky analogue sounds not unlike John Carpenter whereas Zombi were more like your full on horror prog rock group along the lines of Tangerine Dream or Goblin. Best soundtrack of 2015?

I missed this one when it came out so if you like your synth horror soundtracks, like the above, this is for you. I have come across two excellent Jeff Grace soundtracks previously 2011's The Innkeepers and The House Of The Devil from 2009. I knew this was more synthy than those aforementioned two scores which were a lot more symphonic but Cold In July while tipping its hat to John Carpenter moves beyond mere cloning of ones influences. Jeff Grace feels like a real contender for the electronic score crown. Cold In July is undeniably a post millennial classic synth soundtrack that makes the terrific and very enjoyable music of Umberto, Zombi, Salisbury & Barrow feel like mere fanboys playing at wanting to be their heroes Moroder, GoblinTangerine Dream etc. Grace was once an assistant to modern soundtrack legend Howard Shore, hinting at what you're getting here (Carpenter meets Shore meets some mysterious new ingredients) and that something more intellectual might be happening here. Grace has made a synthesiser soundtrack his own like no one has really done since the early 80s. Achieving that is no mean feat and should put into perspective his talent and potential. Somehow he puts new textures into the atmospheres of these tracks and adds a new level of sophistication to synth scoring. I hope Grace continues doing electronic soundtracks as I feel he is on the verge of something great within this field. Cold In July is up there with the best recent soundtracks and gives Mica Levi's brilliant Under The Skin from last year a run for its money. This is some serious synth biz and then some.

This slab of synth candy is from 2010 but wasn't released until 2014. Beyond The Black Rainbow is highly rated amongst synthesiser soundtrack aficionados and it doesn't disappoint. Caves is a member of the psych-prog rock group Black Mountain and apparently has another cosmic synth gem under his belt with 2002's The Enchanter Persuaded. Having quite enjoyed what I had heard of Black Mountain on the radio, many years ago, I didn't really know what to expect from this Caves soundtrack but geez it's a real delight. After Umberto released the fantastic Prophesy Of The Black Widow 5 years ago at the height of Not Not Fun's great run of releases, I thought there may not have been any life left in this kind of retro synth gear, how wrong I was. On Beyond The Black Rainbow Caves piles on the tension and cosmic grandiosity. VHS memoradelia and dread fuelled dark ambient are the order of the day here. Eerie intergalactic vistas are intertwined with sprawling cosmic prog workouts to great affect, rejuvenating the spooky sci-fi soundtrack genre. Another bewdy.

This one came out a few months back and passed me by so I'm glad to be catching up with it now. I'm not really sure who Maiovvi is but I know he released an album on Not Not Fun last year and recorded a soundtrack for the 2012 short film Yellow. I totally dig Umberto's four albums of faux horror/sci-fi soundtracks From The Grave, Prophesy Of The Black Widow, Night Has A Thousand Screams and Confrontations. It's been a couple of years since Confrontations so I've been wondering where the hell Umberto have been. Law Unit delves into much darker territory than Umberto's previous Goblin/Carpenter-esque synth confections. Some of it heads into industrial/EBM/dark ambient type zones making it a bit different from past Umberto releases. Still getting my head around this new, harsher direction for Umberto but I guess I have to start looking at it as a collaborative tangent rather than a wholly new look Umberto. Having said that, it's not bad though.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Fragments Of Time Part 2

In the comments box of that last post Simon Reynolds asks 'What do you think of gqom?'

Gqom is a genre originating from Durban, South Africa which is stripped down and rhythmic music designed for the dancefloor that's springy, minimal, raw and funky with elements of tribal house, kwaito, hip hop and broken beat. What I had heard of gqom (a Zulu word meaning drum or hit, I believe) up until today I thought was alright. Then I discovered Rudeboyz and they've got some great trax. In particular I love the below Get Down which is like a Basic Channel tune stuck in a pinball machine but trying to break free, I like a lot. The other great trak is Mitsubishi Song by Rudeboyz member Menchess (3rd tune below). This one's got fabulous tumbling rhythms that bounce around amongst the dark minimalism. The other two tracks are bloody good too. All of these tunes have their own mechanical internal logic that becomes mesmerising, v nice.

The Rudeboyz EP is released on a British label called Goon Club Allstars and is one of the first international releases of this regional style that has barely made it outside of Durban. So far gqom has been an mp3 game and here's a bunch of tunes that Rudeboyz have uploaded for your listening pleasure.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Fragments Of Time

I dunno if It's me or not but I have a stack of unfinished posts that I just can't be bothered returning to. Is 2015 too boring to write about? Is writing about music irrelevant? Am I taking myself way too seriously after receiving kind words, tweets and replies from people I admire and respect? Have I started second guessing myself? Had a loss of nerve? Or run out of things to say? Has medication levelled me out so much that I've become indifferent to anything or everything. I suppose rap is still where it's at in 2015, with only a few choice things emanating from other zones. I am waiting for something to come along and stop me in my tracks though. I reckon even the slow increments of innovation in hip-hop are coming to a halt and the rest of the music world has reached stasis point or entered a time-warp. Let's face it I'd be happy if something really retro came along as long as it was bloody awesome, you know like that last Daft Punk record, Urge Overkill circa Saturation or Soft Bulletin era Flaming Lips. If the concept of time's been flipped I don't see why we can't use that to our advantage, at least for cheap thrills. Hey cheap thrills are some of the best thrills. Perhaps I'm not as easily swayed or impressionable as I'm not young any more, then again Random Access Memories was only two years ago...I'd be happy with a new Bruno Mars album at this point. Maybe Retromania is no longer the thesis of our times. The law of diminishing returns has probably killed that party. Should someone write something about stasis? Stasis, I just did. I guess Ekoplekz and Beatking will probably have new records out soon but come on everyone else I can't keep relying on those two artists for my new music pleasures, they can only release two or three records a year.....oh I suppose I can if I have to.

Telly, movies and blogs all seem to be offering less. I used to love the blogoshere back in the day. The early to mid 00s were its heyday it seems. When the likes of Blissblog, K-Punk, Woebot, Gutterbreakz et al. were writing about stuff like Grime, Dubstep, electronic music of the time, old stuff and even rock, it was great. I wasn't even into any of the music really but their excitement was infectious. I don't even know what I was listening to then (ye olde afrobeat compilations, I think?). I mean Friday nights were all about gettin drunk and listening to The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top and AC/DC. I thought music was over for me but I liked the fact that innovation and progression were still happening, so I still kept an eye on it. I thought maybe something new would come along that I liked eventually. It did come slightly with Hauntology, Hypnogogia, Altered Zones type stuff and Ratchet. Now it's like Philip Sherburne is the only one attempting to document the new (see this Energy Flash post) but even he appears to be struggling to get blood out of the stone. Good on him though, at least, for trying. I think I came to this blog game too late. In my first couple of years of blogging there was still a shitload of great stuff being released but it has been petering out and in 2015 well geez.....

Sunday, 11 October 2015


Here's something that has sat in my i-tunes unplayed for a long while. My version doesn't sound quite this good though. So my mp3 might be a bootleg or a demo, I dunno. The Electro Maggot played a version of this track the other day. The actual physical item of this, which is a 10 minute cassette from Germany in 1981, is impossibly rare and fetches big $$$ on e-bay. CHBB only did 4 releases all of which were 10 minute tapes that I am led to believe were only issued in runs of 50. Anyone can find that fabulous Liaisons Dangereuses LP from 1981 in some form or another but these four tapes are sort of The Holy Grail of German Post-Punk. So CHBB are Chrislo Haas and Beate Bartel. Krishna Goineau joined these two later to make up Liaisons Dangereuses but obviously wasn't part of CHBB, so that above youtube title is slightly misleading. The 4 CHBB tapes have never been reissued and I'm not even sure they're anywhere on the web any more. They're just not some obscure collectable though, the music is excellent and right up there with the Liaisons Dangereuses album for innovation. One of CHBB's tunes showed up on that Metal Dance 2 compilation a couple of years back. Who knows if there will ever be a proper reissue of the nine tunes contained within these infamous four C-10s? 

It's pretty good, innit? Thanks for reminding me Electro Maggot.

This one's a mad killer tune from the first tape. I'm pretty sure if you stripped this down to the synth and drum machine it'd pretty much be techno in 81, wouldn't it?

This is gold from the 3rd tape

Classic post-punk tropes from the first tape.

And here's a little bit of a classic from Liaisons Dangereuses that was also on their one and only self titled LP.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Gerry & The Holograms

Holy shit this is the best old music discovery I've made in 10 years I reckon. I'd not even heard of them until 2 days ago. This is so damn good I can't believe my ears. All I know is they were from Manchester and this was released in 1979. New Order were surely fans as they nicked the melody for Blue Monday. Thanks to Finders Keepers Radio for the heads up on this, it featured on their synth spezial. You can download the entire Absurd catalogue, which consists of 10 or 15 singles or something, from Jonny Zchivago here. He also hints at Martin Hannett's involvement on these recordings. There is no mention of Absurd or Gerry & The Holograms in that biography on Hannett though. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Finders Keepers Radio

I was surfing the net in search of something musical to excite me the other day and I thought "Have Finders Keepers released any 'old stuff' this year that I might have missed?" I don't remember the answer to that now. I did however discover these Finders Keepers Radio Podcasts. The 10th anniversary show reminded me of where my head was at in the mid 00s. The only current stuff I was into then was Animal Collective and Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti give or take a Deerhoof or two. I didn't engage with Grime (except for a little bit of Dizzee & Lady Sovereign on the radio, call me commercial) or Dubstep at the time so I got into this weird old stuff that was being reissued by Finders Keepers and the likes of Trunk Records. This was also around the time Ghostbox started too, but that was new music and a whole other story. I definitely recommend listening to this podcast but it's a weird old game for sure. So you go back in time 10 years and hear stuff that was already old by like 30 years then. Talk about atemporal. Reminiscing about reminiscing about stuff that was unheard by you but reminiscable by others from around the globe. I just had a look at my cd collection and realised I had over 30 albums released by Finders Keepers!!! So obviously, I like what they do a lot, although now this stuff feels doubly old. I can't imagine head honcho Andy Votel listening to Young Thug, Kevin Gates, Future, Beatking etc. now, but in 30 years time they'll be able to go back and neatly pick out what was awesome, an anomaly or really strange about the state of current southern rap maybe that's a bad example....maybe they would discover a bizarre scene from Uzbekistan that was influenced by 2010s southern rap, that's more like it. What Finders Keepers are on about is hindsight, alternative histories, retro-eclecticism and diggin deep because most current music sucks.

Andy Votel's voice is incredibly close to that of another (in)famous Manc Jonny Vegas. I keep picturing him as Vegas. 808 state's Graeme Massey gets a second act on these podcasts as a possible cult comedian because he plays this character Tape Worm which is hilarious, I mean I assume it's him, it could be Votel, I dunno. The host Pete Mitchell puts me in mind of slightly hipper Alan Partridge.

Well Hung is a Finders Keepers compilation of funky Hungarian pop from the 70s. A few years after this was released I got talking to a woman who was perhaps 15 years my senior from Hungary. I showed her this on my I-pod during a uni lecture and to my surprise she sang along to every tune and then gave a run down of who they were, what they used to be and where they were now. She thought it was really weird that I was into this shit.