School of Language is David Brewis of Field Music's solo project, and debut LP 'Sea From Shore' finds Brewis breaking away from the structurally perfect pop nuggets of his former day job, in order to further deconstruct the concept of 'popular' music. If that sounds rather dull and contrived, it's anything but. If you think of Field Music as Lego, where each brick fits snugly into the next, with School of Language, Brewis chucks some Meccano and Sticklebricks into the mix, building something altogether more playful and abstract, but without losing the wonderful melodies that made Field Music so special.
The highlight of the album for me is 'This Is No Fun', which demonstrates perfectly the differences between the two projects - sonically denser and lyrically darker, it sprawls and rocks out in a way Field Music never seemed able. In 'Rockist', divided into four parts that open and close the album, Brewis uses his own voice as a backing rhythm, a bit like Bobby McFerrin, or even Laurie Anderson. For ‘Disappointment ‘99’, Brewis reveals his inner-Timberlake, as rough, funky rhythms rub up against his glorious, hook-laden falsetto. When I first heard Field Music was being shelved for the foreseeable future, my initial thought was, 'Why?'. On hearing this fine debut, I completely understand. Fortune favours the brave, and away from the comforts of the band dynamics, Brewis is thriving.
'Sea From Shore' is released by Memphis Industries on Monday (4th February). Pre-order the CD from Norman Records - first 10 orders get a free T-shirt! School of Language at MySpace School of Language at Memphis Industries
Dave Grohl. Phil Collins. Don Henley. Karen Carpenter. Loz from Ride..? Yes indeed, you can add the name of Laurence Colbert to the list of singing drummers. Not that he ever sang when he was behind the kit, he was far too busy thumping the shit out of it, but occasionally, a bit like a prisoner on day release, Loz made it behind the microphone. Eventually, one of his compositions made it onto a Ride album; the lovely, jangly, Byrdsian ‘Natural Grace’, which slotted nicely onto the ‘Mark’ side of 1994’s ‘Carnival Of Light’ LP, but was beautifully sung by Mark, not Loz. By that time, though, Ride was a mess. Andy was, by his own admission, a “grade A loon” and rifts between Andy and Mark meant that by the time the band came to record their fourth and final album, ‘Tarantula’, Mark had all but given up on the band. It was the Andy Bell show and all the worse for it. Loz didn’t really get a look in, which is a shame, as you get the impression he had plenty to give…
But if we rewind back to 1992, and the release of ‘Going Blank Again’, Loz was a whisker away from making his song-writing debut on a Ride album. ‘Blue’ was written and sung by Loz, and was featured on the original tracklisting of the album. Creation, and the band’s US label, eventually ordered the band to shorten it, so ‘Blue’ was dropped, along with ‘Tongue Tied’ (which I wrote about here), and another Loz composition, ‘Everybody Knows’.
‘Blue’ is a great song, and fully deserving of a place on ‘Going Blank Again’. I take the record companies point – with these three extra tracks on the album, it would have been way too long, but I wonder if ‘Blue’ was dropped for being inferior, or because it was by Loz, and his standing in the band as a songwriter wasn’t as strong as Andy and Mark's. Rightly so, I guess, both Andy and Mark were exceptional talents, but it’s a shame nonetheless. ‘Blue’ is a lovely song, and Loz has a sweet, vulnerable delivery which suits the atmospheric, almost dubby qualities of ‘Blue’ perfectly. Funnily enough, it’s predominantly a drum-free track, with the percussion only coming in on the choruses, which feature swooping harmonies from the other two. This version of the song is taken from the ‘Firing Blanks’ CD, which was a collection of unreleased Ride material from the box set released in 2001. It ends with a couple of outtakes of some studio jams from the band – I was going to cut them off, but they’re a reminder that once upon a time, the band enjoyed playing together and had a laugh in the studio, resulting in some incredible music.
Post-Ride, Loz played drums in The Animalhouse, Mark’s new band, and is currently drumming in the reformed Jesus and Mary Chain, as well as playing solo acoustic gigs, performing his own material. You can hear some demos on his MySpace page, including the Kinks-y ‘Rainy Days On Sunday’.
Almost exactly a year ago, erstwhile White Noise contributor and all-round good egg It’s A Sin wrote a post about Flowered Up’s awesome baggy epic ‘Weekender’, perhaps one of the greatest songs of that whole damn era. In the comments that followed the post, I promised to dig out my copy of the Andrew Weatherall remixes. Well, a mere 12 months later and after much painstaking searching (you try finding a white label in a spineless black sleeve amongst three gajillion slabs of vinyl), I have finally managed to locate the bugger, and slapped up the even more epic 17-minute 'Weekender (Weatherall’s Audrey Is A Little Bit More Partial Mix)'.
Around this time (1992), you could never be quite sure what you were going to get from Weatherall. Already bored of his reputation as acid house producer du jour following the huge success of his work on ‘Screamadelica’, he had taken to turning up for DJ slots and spinning sets solely of dub reggae classics, much to the frustration of all the ravers turning up hoping for a night of hedonistic, hands-in-the-air, laser reaching excess.
Luckily for Heavenly and the boys from Flowered Up, Weatherall decided to play nicely, turning in a fabulous dancefloor friendly remix, taken straight from the (old) school of ‘Screamadelica’. Completely ignoring Liam Maher’s vocal and most of the other key components that made up the song, Weatherall, ably assisted as always by his Sabres cohorts Kooner and Burns, opted for an elongated intro, isolating the backing singers ‘We're gonna have a good time…” refrain, over cascading percussion and an incongruously serious piano riff. Midway through, the remix shifts gears into party territory as Weatherall drops in the cowbell from Run DMC's 'Peter Piper', and calls round Jazzie B's house to borrow a clubbed-up Soul II Soul-esque hip-hop beat, with call and response male/female vocal exchanges, and finally locates some of the original elements of the song in the mammoth guitar riff.
I haven't been to a festival for ages, but the remix title, 'Weatherall's Weekender', got me thinking that that was something I would definitely shell out some money to attend. A full weekend of live acts and DJs chosen solely by the man himself, plus he could DJ with all his various hats on. Promoters take note...
More music today to file under ‘wouldn’t exist without the internet’, as something that started out as an impenetrable in-joke between the members of a forum affiliated to a content-free Aphex Twin fan site resulted in an album of stunning electronic music.
The forum in question is part of the We Are The Music Makers website or WATMM, which started life as the only working facet of what is supposed to be a huge Aphex Twin resource, the only problem being there is, as yet, no content. Bizarrely, the forums have thrived, and even evolved, to now contain specialist artist forums covering Aphex, alongside his contemporaries, including Autechre and Boards of Canada. There are also sub-forums under the EKT (Electronic Knob Twiddlers) header, where members post their latest musical oeuvres, and face the ridicule or praise of the razor-witted and notoriously difficult to please fraternity. Basically, it’s your one stop shop for hot gossip, pointless speculation and extreme fanboy rumour mongering about your favourite electronic composers, tips for forthcoming releases and artists to watch out for, and latterly, incredible music from the forum members.
The ‘Deep Sea Creatures’ compilation that this post is about, was born when a forum member set up a bracketology contest to try and discover what the forum members deemed to be the most ‘IDM’ thing. In other words, what thing, aside from the music itself, best represented the electronic music known in the States as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), or electronica to those residing on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean. 32 things, including eventual winner beards, hot favourite cats, and others including space stations, lego, aliens, maths, were paired off and pitted against each other in head-to-head vote offs, with the winners going through to the next round. You can find the full results of the contest here, if you’re still with me. It was just a silly bit of fun to wile away 3 seconds on a Thursday morning, but somehow, the success of deep sea creatures, who triumphed over cats in the semi-finals before narrowly losing to beards in the final, captured the imagination of forum member Fred McGriff, who also started the contest. Fred stated his intentions in a separate thread: “I'm going to put out a full length limited deep sea creatures themed release, because deep sea creatures balled out of control in the "what is the most IDM thing" tournament. They may have lost to beards, but they won me over.”
And true to his word, he did. Initially, all forum members were invited to submit songs, which were to be judged on their relevance to deep sea creatures, quality and overall cohesiveness with other songs to make an album. I don’t know if you’ve ever Google searched ‘deep sea creatures’ or watched the fantastic ‘Blue Planet’ or the Discovery Channel lately, but there’s some crazy shit going on down there, and the music needed to be representative of this weird and wonderful world. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges on the project, so got to hear all the submissions and the quality was, in parts, unbelievable. People took it extremely seriously, as for many, it would be the first time their music would feature on a hard copy release. After much deliberation, 13 awesome tracks were selected, and finally sequenced into an album, which became the first release on the new Futonic imprint.
The resulting ‘Deep Sea Creatures’ compilation is a triumph, and one of the best collections of electronic music I have heard in a long time. It’s the ultimate concept album, and one that fully evokes the subject matter it is conceptualising. This album should be sent to the BBC and Discovery for use on any forthcoming programmes featuring journeys to the dark depths of our oceans. Opening with Zephyr Nova’s brilliantly inventive, ‘We Are The Crab People’, which conjures images of hoards of weird beasties roaming the ocean floor in search of rotting flesh, and is more than worthy of a place alongside the work of established composers already mentioned in this piece, the compilation takes in old school Aphexisms (the tuneful ‘Alvin Submersible’ by Newmans), thoughtfully twinkling and softly strummed post rock (Adjective’s ‘Don Walsh & Jacques Piccard’), early Autechre-style mental rhythmic fuckery (‘Balling Somewhat In Control’ by Braintree), lushly mellow, nostalgic BoC melodies (‘Benthophelagic Waltz’ by Lol Alzado), pulsing, minimal techno a la Two Lone Swordsmen (Transient’s ‘Fear of the Dark Depths), brooding dark ambience (Agent Nerve’s ‘Anchor In The Dark’) and even what sounds like the soundtrack to an undersea soft porn movie (Beneboi’s sultry, jazzy ‘Hagfish’). Some of the songs defy categorisation – Lucid Rhythms’ ‘Aquazone’ is a sprawling psychedelic masterpiece, and Beak’s ‘Sea Pen Meets Angler Fish’ combines a melody straight from a 1970s children’s TV show, with clanking percussion and a sweetly plucked acoustic guitar. None of the featured artists are well known, with the exception of one or two who have released music on net labels in the past, but on the strength of this release, there are some who deserve wider recognition than a CD limited to only 100 copies will grant them.
Bonus! Exclusive video (new edit) for Lucid Rhythms’ ‘Aquazone 5’ by Lol Alzado -
If you would like to get your hands on a copy of the ‘Deep Sea Creatures’ compilation, you can either buy one from the Futonic Records website, but get your skates on as there’s only a handful left. Or, for those of you who have read or simply scrolled this far down, I’m giving away a copy of the CD to the first person who sends me an email with the answer to this simple question - complete the title of the Wes Anderson film - The Life Aquatic With ???? Remember to include your name and full postal address. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. COMPETITION CLOSED_WINNER: OWEN DAVIES/LICHFIELD/UK.
Visit the We Are The Music Makers forums Deep Sea Creatures at MySpace - listen to the genius that is 'Deep Sea Cowbell' which inexplicably missed the final cut... More Zephyr Nova music at MySpace More Beak music at MySpace
Just a quickie today to bring your attention to the brilliant collaboration between TWNR faves Feedle and the Harvey Girls. The artists started a mutual appreciation society after being virtually introduced when they both released albums on SVC Records. Realising they had more in common than just a shared label and not letting the fact they were separated by the Atlantic Ocean stand in the way of making sweet music together, the boy from Sheffield and the boy/girl duo from Portland, Oregon began swapping ideas over the internet. Thence, Holland Buffalo was born. The four-track EP is released on the Terciopelo Handmade label and available to download from Amie Street for such a paltry sum it’s hardly worth mentioning (but I will – it’s 82 cents or 42p!). Fans of Feedle and the Harvey Girls will be thrilled by the audio fruits of the union – skewed, brilliant, original pop music; equal parts shimmering electronic melodies to harmonious country-blues on ‘Electricity’ and ‘Optimistic’ (which puts me in mind of electronic cowpunks Scott 4, who recorded for Satellite in the late 1990s). These songs are both available to download with this post, but it’s more than worth your while heading to Amie Street to gobble up the whole EP in superior quality, including the other two songs that make up the EP – ‘And Again’, which recalls ‘Murmur’-era REM, as neatly plucked mandolins and Hiram’s world-weary vocal combine with one of those distorted, twinkling smudges of melody Feedle does so well, and the wonderful ‘Spring’, reminiscent of Feedle’s finest moments, with an eerie, disembodied vocal set over a waltz-time drums and a sumptuous, shimmering refrain. 2008 should see a brand, spanking new LP from Feedle in some shape or form, and the prolific Harvey Girls are finishing various album projects.
Before Daft Punk made robots sexy and redefined dance music, placing Paris at the centre of the house music scene, a collaboration between fellow Parisian's Philippe Zdar and Etienne de Crécy would help to lay the foundations for one of the most fertile periods in French music history. Both Zdar and de Crécy would go onto create seminal albums as individuals; de Crécy under the Super Discount moniker, and Zdar enjoying commercial success with Cassius, alongside Hubert 'Boom Bass' Blanc-Francard. Boom Bass and Zdar also recorded as La Funk Mob for Mo Wax.
As Motorbass, the duo released two EP’s on their own label in 1993, ‘1st EP’ and ‘Transphunk EP’, showcasing a sound that combined old school hip hop and funk influences with heavy basslines and the traditional thud of 4/4 Chicago house. A fine example of their nascent sound was ‘Stereogramm Gelato’, which sampled the bassline from the Fatback Band’s ‘Wicky Wacky’, adding a solid house beat and various bleeps and tranced-out effects for a funky and unique take on house music. Another side to the Motorbass sound could be found on ‘La Doctoresse’ from the ‘Transphunk EP’, mellower in its construction, with a jazzy, trip hop vibe shared by F Comm’s brilliant, laidback jazzster St Germain. The duo signed for PIAS dance offshoot Different in 1996, releasing a second EP, ‘Ezio / Les Ondes’, before delivering the indescribably awesome ‘Pansoul’ LP, which is where I came in.
‘Pansoul’ is one of those albums that I have never grown tired of. It is an absolute classic, and would probably get far more recognition if it hadn’t been for the staggering global success of Daft Punk. It is far less commercial, but hugely innovative and massively influential. When listening to last year’s universally acclaimed Burial LP ‘Untrue’, I kept trying to work out what it reminded me of and finally I realised it was ‘Pansoul’. Check out ‘Les Ondes’ and ‘Neptune’, and the way the minimal snatches of vocal weave in and out of stark, dubby, atmospheric beats. 'Pansoul' is nowhere near as dark as 'Untrue' and injected with funk rather than paranoia, but in the same way that ‘Untrue’ was hailed as the sound of urban London by night, ‘Pansoul’ is an evocative soundtrack for a night on the tiles in underground Paris.
Tracks like ‘Flying Fingers’, with its sampled hip hop beats, scratching and twanging bass, add a head-nodding suss to the proceedings, and you won’t hear a better demonstration of funky, filtered French house than ‘Wan Dence’ – not even on a Daft Punk album. ‘Pansoul’ has everything – it is specific to a certain era in music, but manages to remain timeless; it defines a sound, a time, a place, and creates a mood that appeals both to the mind and feet. It’s one of those albums I only ever want to listen to from start to finish, where each track follows perfectly on from the one before. Sure, download the tracks I’ve posted and you’ll get a rough idea of how good this album is, but you really need to buy it, roll yerself a fat one, stick on the headphones and lose yourself in the wonder of ‘Pansoul’. I own three copies – vinyl, CD and the 2003 reissue 2CD on Astralwerks, which contains the first two EPs as a bonus disc.
Search eBay for Motorbass - it's all out of print at the moment but you can pick up the CD and LP on eBay Motorbass discography Etienne de Crécy MySpace Phillipe Zdar MySpace
1. Purple Haze 2. Man Without Qualities II 3. Jaggerbog 4. Big II (Instrumental) 5. Get Better 6. Part Four 7. Man Without Qualities One
To kick off 2008 I'm going to revisit one of the most popular posts of last year. Back in April 2007 I wrote a piece reappraising the incredible 'Pigeonhole' LP by the New Fast Automatic Daffodils and it seemed to strike a chord with many of you. I wasn't alone in believing the band was massively underrated as a series of comments in response to the post testified. I've always said that one of the best things about doing this blog is being able to write about and share the music of bands that have seemingly been forgotten in the wider world. It was great to get such a positive response, and allow people to share their experiences of the New FADS. You can find the original post and read all the comments here.
Above you'll find the two Peel sessions the New FADS recorded, zipped up into one folder. They're brilliant sessions, managing to capture some of the fierce intensity of the band live. Tracks 1 - 4 were recorded on 19th December 1989; tracks 5 - 7 11th November 1990. From a frenzied thrash through Jimi Hendix's 'Purple Haze', an instrumental version of the seminal 'Big', both parts of 'Man Without Qualities' ('One' is one of the best things they ever did) and the blistering, funked up 'Jaggerbog', this is quality stuff. I'm still waiting for a wise label to remaster and reissue 'Pigeonhole' and kick off a well deserved period of New FADS adulation. As I mentioned in the original post, it is more than worthy of the treatment, and it is now pretty evident that many others share this view.
So, Happy New Year to you all. My life changed forever with the birth of my daughter on Christmas Day, but I'm still hoping to be able to keep this place up, between all the nappies and sleepless nights! Have a good one yerselves!
The tracks posted here are either available with the permission of the record label and/or artist, or from deleted or commercially unavailable releases. Failing this, if you are the copyright holder and want the track to be taken down, you only have to ask and I will oblige. Most downloads will be available for about a week, after which they will be deleted from the server.