Friday 15 February 2019

So There's These Records - Summer Edition

On Twitter I often mention records I'm currently listening to and enjoying but I almost never follow that up on my blog. So here's some LPs I've been digging in 2019. This first one is a compilation released on the fabulous Strut Records which I totally missed last year. I discovered it on bandcamp a week ago and tweeted about it that day. The grooves on Disque Debs International Volume 1. An Island Story: Biguine, Afro Latin & Musique Antillaise 1960-1972 are soo infectious. These tunes are very well suited to the absurd heatwave we've been having here in the Antipodes. If you liked that Soundway Records compilation from a few years back,'s 10 years, Tumbélé: Biguine, Afro & Latin Sounds Of The French Caribbean 1963-74 you are gonna dig these sweet tropical vibes.

The fantastic record label Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued this in 2016. In need of some healing loose soulful grooves the other day in the immense Australian summer heat I pulled out Wede Harer Gazo and claimed it to be just about the best album ever recorded. I stand by that statement. Wede Harer Gazo is a 1978 recording from Hailu Mergia & The Dahlak Band. This is hypnotic jazz funk in a state of delirious torpor with a blurry organ giving it a frayed psych vibe. The LP comes from the golden age era of Ethiopian music so if you like your Mulatu Astatke or Éthiopiques compilations you are bound to appreciate this beautiful languorous music.

Hailu Mergia also played on this brilliant obscure tape from 1975 Asnakech by Asnakech Worku also featuring Temare Haregu, which was reissued last year by Awesome Tapes From Africa. I think it's a bit odd to give something that was originally a hissy 70s tape the deluxe vinyl treatment. Suffice to say I only bought the digital version but they did reissue it on tape as well. This album was included in my best reissues of 2018 list but Asnakech is still in high rotation around these parts. Like the aforementioned French Caribbean music, golden age Ethiopian music suits summer perfectly. Worku, a 20th century icon, was a famous actor, dancer, singer and master of the krar. The krar is an ancient Ethiopian harp that has 6 strings and sounds a bit like a brittle rusty banjo. Asnakech Worku will have you mesmerised with her off kilter free krar playing intermingled with Mergia's blurry organ swirls. Strange and enchanting. Also check out Éthiopiques 16 (2003).

I know I'd heard Juana Molina on the radio before but I just filed her away in the back of my mind as someone to investigate one day. Something on youtube prompted me to finally check her out properly and what a fool I've been for the last 15 years. Son from 2008 is a modern experimental psych folk masterpiece. Musically it's somewhere between Linda Perhacs, the Canterbury Scene, miscellaneous experimental vocal scientists and a whole lot of Molina's idiosyncratic vision. There are a handful of other Juana Molina LPs either side of this one that are highly rated so I can't wait to track those down.

Kamikaze 1989 is the soundtrack to Fassbinder's 1982 film. How the hell did this even pass me by? Anyway I've found it now and it's a bewdy. I rate Edgar Froese's other six LPs recorded between 1974 and 1983. Froese's last classic solo LP Pinnacles was released in 1983 so I am absolutely flummoxed as to how I didn't know this existed until the other day. Kamikaze 1989 is classic early 80s synth soundtrack action from the Kosmiche maestro of Tangerine Dream fame. This puts to shame all of the 2010's synth-wave pretenders. Splendid stuff.

Moon Wiring Club's 2016 LP Exit Pantomime Control is one of their best. I guess it got a little overlooked*, by me at least, as it was released at the same time as their massive triple cd of archival material When A New Trick Comes Along I Do An Old One. Anyway I've been listening to this constantly for the past three months and it just doesn't get old. Their catalogue is full of treasure and I would place Exit Pantomime Control somewhere in the top 5 of all time Moon Wiring Club releases which is high praise indeed.

*Surely they, well Moon Wiring Club are a one man band that is Ian Hodgson, are one of the most overlooked musical entities of the past 12 years. Due to Mr Hodgson's release schedule of always issuing his new product in early December, as a Yuletide treat, has put him in a peculiar critical position. By the beginning of December most music websites and magazines have usually compiled their albums of the year lists. He really is on the outside of things. I'm not fully aware of how often he is reviewed. I've occasionally seen him reviewed in The Wire and @FACT but a quick search @Pitchfork reveals "No Results'. So I'm guessing he doesn't get a hell of a lot of media attention outside of the dwindling music blogosphere (paid music writers, eh?).

Friday 8 February 2019

We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves - John Maus

This LP was the first to get dissed on my blog, I think on the second post ever. Here's what I said:
Who cares?
John Maus (he is Chapterhouse to Ariel Pink’s MBV)

Anyway since deciding to listen to Screen Memories by John Maus out of the blue last year I've had a change of heart. Dismissing him as a z-grade Ariel Pink back in 2011 wasn't really fair was it? I mean he was Pink's band mate, collaborator and friend. It was a bit like saying Hugo Race was a bit Bad Seeds-y, hell yeah he was because he was part of the fucking original band. So I had to buy We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves again this year and well I love it. It's now giving Rustie and Adele a run for their money as quite possibly my favourite record of 2011. Been diggin last year's Addendum and 2017's Screen Memories too. Now there's some more catching up to do.

Does this also mean a reappraisal of Chapterhouse is in order?

How about this below anthem? Believer gives me the pure pop goose bumps. It's amazing that I could disregard an LP that has now had such an emotional impact on me.

Friday 1 February 2019


Darqwan - Said The Spider
What is this? Apart from being a wobbly racket, I guess it's proto-dubstep. Is it even garage anymore? More like a drum n bass//bleep/hardcore hybrid. In 2002 this sounded pretty unhinged. Now that the bro-step era has gone by perhaps a tune like this might get a reappraisal or maybe not quite yet. I couldn't find Darqwan's more garage-y tune Pipe Dreams anywhere.

Active Minds - Hobsons Choice
Another terrible project name. Maybe that's why some white labels just say Hobsons Choice. We're back to pure speed garage gold here.

The Dub Monsters - Waiting
Waiting is the flip of Scott Garcia's bona fide speed garage classic A London ThingDub Monsters were a project for Garcia and another bloke. Waiting's all about the sugar rush of the vocal science. This was an odd little double A 12" of the best variety! 

That Month in Movies

I've been a bit off films in January. Maybe watching too many shit ones has made me reluctant to invest my time. It has also been way too fucking hot to enjoy or concentrate on anything. Thirteen days of January were over 40 degrees Celsius, that's 104 Fahrenheit. Or to put it another way for Americans and other Fahrenheit people 18 days this month have been over 100 degrees. Then there's also been way too many migraines in my head. Recent great, and I mean great, British telly ie. Detectorists and Inside No 9 has had my eyeball's attention...oh and not forgetting watching a lot of Muppet Babies with my niece during the school holidays. Perhaps I'll get back into the swing of all things movies next month.

Single White Female (1992)
Alright 90s thriller directed by Barbet Shroeder. Is it a slasher in disguise though? Very stylishly crafted with good performances from Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Stephen Tobolowsky. Allie (Fonda) gets a new flatmate (Leigh) who gradually becomes obsessed with her. 'What ever happened to the very likeable Bridget Fonda?' You ask. She quit the acting game in 2002 apparently.

Game Night (2018)
Fucking stupid crime comedy. It's kinda like a comic version of David Fincher's The Game (1997). You would think these actors have never been in a comedy before as they just keep missing the beats. About five of the jokes in the entire film work. Don't waste your time on this bollocks. Game Night has totally put me off so called comedy movies for the next couple of years at least. Let's face it comedy is better suited to short bursts on TV anyway.

The Orchard End Murder (1981)
This is a real curio from 80s Britain. The Orchard End Murder was made as part of a double bill to be screened with the much more well known and admired Dead & Buried (1981). It's a mini feature (50 minutes) of unsettling rural horror. In 1966 a young lady goes missing after attending a game of cricket in the countryside with a male acquaintance. Sure it's not a masterpiece but it's strange, intriguing and well worth a look.

Notorious (1946)
Hitchcock noir classic starring Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant and Claude Raines. Alicia (Bergman) becomes entangled with espionage and romance in post WWII Rio De Janeiro where Nazis in need of spying on have settled.

The Haunting (1963)
Highly rated Robert Wise haunted house flick that was totally disappointing. The Haunting had some really cool camera angles, direction, sound design, that freaky pounding door moment and a stunning set. Not even a young Russ Tamblyn (That's Doctor Jacoby from Twin Peaks) couldn't save this movie for me though. Perhaps I was expecting too much from this mostly non-haunting film.

Ghost Stories (2017)
I was very excited at the prospect of finally getting to watch this film as it had been rated by some people I respect. It starts out very gripping but turns out a bit disappointing. Is Ghost Stories a depiction of a crazy nightmare or is it supposed to make some sort of actual sense? Film makers trying to blow my mind with convoluted twists or being 'oh so meta' is fucking tedious, just make a good movie. Great performances from Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse however. Maybe a second look is in order.