Ilpo Väisänen deviates from the Dub manifesto as written by Lee Perry and the gang to give us the bare bones of an already lean beast. Bleached out beats skitter around amid rarefied textures and percussive patterns fluctuate lending it all the air of a broken ideology.
Is it a repost to post-socialist despair in the Western world? Or just Ilpo experimenting with space? Maybe both. The bass that anchors trad Dub is absent, aside from sub-sub-woofer type punctuations, as are trademark drops, although much of it feels like one big drop down the elevator shaft into a bottomless black hole. Many have played fast and loose with Dub in mind across all electronic genres but Väisänen's Commie variation is grittier than most. Avoiding cookie cutter traps, these tracks are an idea of Dub that got lost somewhere along the way. That's no bad thing.
Father Sun Rudealis is more in the spirit of Black Ark science than the mode, if The Upsetter can be said to have had only one. Kolyma Stoned virtually disappears around the 3min mark, remaining as a ghost rhythm whilst jagged minimalist effects take over. Whilst there are echoes of his part in Pan Sonic, it lacks their disciplined approach. Ironically, it's the opposite of regimental Red theory in history; striking strange, awkward, unruly blows for freedom from regulation. Whether that's to its advantage I'll leave you to decide.
Dexys Midnight Runners were performing Geno when I felt compelled to check the date. 'Time is a trick of the mind' according to Rip Rig and Panic and in one sense, they're right; I'd been tricked into thinking that 35 years couldn't have passed. That's called denial, I suppose. It's a defence mechanism against the potentially crushing realisation that mortality is not an option.
Not that I mind Time disappearing. It would be hellish if it stayed around, locking you in a moment forever, unless that moment was an orgasm. Then again, even that would become tiresome after a while (that 'while' being immeasurable, of course) because, as they say, you can have too much of a good thing, even if that thing is a Charlie Parker solo, or Anna Karina in a Godard film. So the theory goes.
So Time went, all 35 years' worth, as I stood in front of the telly, remote in hand, trying to come to terms with this realisation. 1980...what was I doing? Working in a frozen food factory. Who was I dating? A girl with a haircut not dissimilar to the one worn by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, whose Talk Of The Town was also featured on that edition of Top of the Pops..mmm...so good. Time has done that no harm but tragically it was running out fast for two members of the band. James Honeyman-Scott would die in '82 and Pete Farndon a year later, both from drug-related incidents.
Well, Time past is measurable but how much remains for each of us is not so I won't keep you any longer.
'Yes! It's about time The Proms got with the times and what better way than to have a dance night hosted by the legend Pete Tong - whoo-eeee! Can't wait. Can you? I don't go normally, not to hear all that stuffy Classical shit 'cause it's, like, old and that. But this! This'll be a-ma-zing. No, it's not dumbing down. Why shouldn't Club Music be in with Classical? I think it's classic anyway - ha-ha! I heard some stuff by Mozart once; it was boring. Classical music is boring, isn't it? It goes on forever. No beats. I know, they didn't have beats in those days, but you know what I mean. I like stuff you can dance to. I like other stuff as well, like Lady Gaga and Kanye, who you can dance to, but...you know what I mean. Pete Tong's a god, isn't he? I'm going to get so-o-o out of it. Mummy says it's a stupid idea but what does she know? Your parents don't get it, do they? They go to The Proms every year. It would be funny if they came to this night by mistake! Imagine it! Excited.'
"We do now live in a world, thank God, where you can like all sorts of music, you don’t have to be rigidly siloed. When I was a kid you did have to choose what camp you were in ... I was passionate about Dusty Springfield when I was a kid but you sort of had to do that quietly," said the director of this year’s Proms, Edward Blakeman. This obviously reveals Blakeman's qualifications for ensuring that the Proms leaps into the 21st century with cutting edge music.
The concert that got John Cage noticed in New York, where he'd been a resident since late in 1942. For a few weeks he and his wife shacked up with Peggy Guggenheim and Max Ernst. Paul Bowles, writing for New York Herald Tribune, described it as 'good for the hearing...and ear massage'. The big deal as far as press coverage went was this piece in Life magazine. Among other things they played Cage's Construction In Metal, Amadeo Roldán's Rítmicas V & VI and Henry Cowell's Ostinato Pianissimo.
Haywired for sound, Nochexxx (Dave Henson) brings the FonkAciTechOuttaStep noise, thankfully, because I was just starting to think this was a rotten year filled with the overripe stinking fruits of already dead seeds sown by those who don't have a clue how to grow one interesting thing - yes, wit until I start making music, I'll show 'em (it's not easy, I'm sure, with the endless potential of technology...and if that's true, how come so many are producing the same kind of tired music, eh?).
Moan over. Reasons to be cheerful: 1) without bothering to try and be 'new' (avant) Nochexxx makes the most of past formulas by stamping them with his own hand, rather than the auto-bot ABC repeat pattern cliché mechanised ones), 2) Jungle Crash - DJ Hyper mode, like something (a Jungle break?) at +16, countered by a play on classic Tech Step darkwave formations, 3) Leading Bleeds - in the post-modern electronic Land Of Confusion (oh just do dark Ambient, then) a way forward, the momentum is unstoppable, brand new, it's not retro, the halfway rhythm hint then full pick-up around 2.38 is brilliant, then he adds another dimension.
3 reasons. There are more. Rusted Phoenix - throbbing gristle that cooks up yah brain. Stinson Fish - down the aqua worm hole we go...I'd love to share a track but couldn't find one streamed. Instead, imagine for now, or you're already enjoying it, or you will when you buy it. Promise.
Make room! make room! Clutter, it fills the years, you gain more years and clutter so you look in cupboards, behind cupboards, in draws, under desks to find stuff, useless stuff you once thought was useful but the years have proved you wrong - get rid of it! I want it gone.
Get out the black plastic bin liners and get busy with the delete button!
Scraps of paper, books, yes, those books you've been meaning to read and never have and never will, probably. Time has accumulated them and it will run out before most of them get read because it's the pile that never stops growing.
The flat is small. If we lived in a big house there would be even more clutter. So I thrill to the spaces appearing on the shelves and the decreasing length of the line that tells me how much space is left on the computer.
Clouds of dust rise up, scraps of paper fall to the carpet carrying phone numbers that are meaningless, names, business cards, the buttons in plastic bags that you get with some items of clothing but forget which ones they belong too, stuff you printed out, meant to read properly but never did and never will (maybe you will but 'maybe' is a bad word in this exercise and they catchword of all hoarders).
I have a friend who's flat is so filled with stuff that he never invites anyone 'round. I'd like to see him on that Hoarder Next Door programme and if you can suggest candidates, I will. Not that he'd thank me for it but I'd love to see him in a tug-of-war match with those strict clear-out women over duplicates of comics - ha-ha! And books. he sometimes uses me as a dump for his doubles, bless 'im. What I'd really like to do is go 'round and help him but I fear it might be the end of our relationship once I fill the skip with stuff whilst he weeps beside it, pleading.
As you know, once the decision is made to have a clear out you're forced to really evaluate what you have. I like this process; cultural dieting - lose all that excess culture now! Be a lean, mean, culture machine, an assassin of the superfluous. You won't miss it when it's gone, until you go to look for it and even then you'll shrug and say "So what?"
If books, magazines, records and music really matter to you, make sure that what you have means something.
Yours Sincerely, Clear-Out Guru
(Available for hire at reasonable prices, apply via message)
One of these figures is by Giacometti and the other is by my parents.
Our local...it's neo-brutal post-modern exterior reflects the prices within perfectly, reflecting as it does the sense of foreboding and despair when awaiting the price of your bill...
Now something positive, the Ornette Coleman box set Beauty Is A Rare Thing has been reissued (and repackaged), the only negative being that they couldn't come up with something different to celebrate his recent 85th birthday. I suppose, unlike Miles Davis, there's not a lot of unheard treasures buried in the vaults? I can't find it for sale yet but it may be cheaper than the original. Or not. In which case, that's a handsome thing to have sitting on your shelf. The music's not bad either.
One of the prints that was included in the magazine. Thanks to those of you who haven't bought it because I couldn't have made many more without going nuts at the printer. Those who did, thanks also. A few more are available. Only a few...
Beatriz Ferreyra - GRM Works & Michel Redolfi - Pacific Tubular Waves / Immersion (Recollection GRM)
Two fine new addictions to the Recollections GRM series; Beatriz Ferreyra's electroacoustics and Redolfi's Synclavier digital synthesizer pieces.
Ferreyra's GRM Works starts with Demeures aquatiques (1967) prowling 'round your brain as if stalking your senses from ear-to-ear. You know the tricksy stuff that Rock bands got up to when multi-channel studio desk mixology was born? It's better than any of that. Remember how they'd pan and scan to signify 'cosmic', or 'do drugs!', or something? Ferreyra's music isn't like that, though a few listeners have been 'on something' whilst listening over the years. I've taken a packet of Haribo Tangfastics washed down with caffeine - whooooeeee! - I'm buzzing! Beatriz' music is actually taking the edge off the trip, but in a good way, because it's meditative but stimulating and - OW! - Un fil invisible (2009) just shocked me...what's happening....brain scrabble! She hasn't lost it, not in 40-odd years, no, sir. 'Inspired by the various stages of Medieval Alchemy', that description could fit all this music, the process of transforming sounds and ideas into gold for us to enjoy its deep, rich, shiny (sometimes spiky) luxurious allure. Les Larmes de l’inconnu (2011) features what sound like F1 cars whizzing past, amongst many other sounds, of course. Sound makers like Ferreyra specialise in fluid constructions of many parts and they make replays endlessly worthwhile. The trip is the thing and it's not on any autobahn...it's a wobbly rail over hills and down dales, through long tunnels and high above the clouds...and you love it, don't you?
Michel Redolfi's Pacific Tubular Waves is inspired by 'the kinetics of the Pacific breakers', so you could call it Surf Music but, yes, you guessed, Dick Dale it ain't. These waves appear more like water dribbling onto the sand in the first movement, then the big ones crash to shore - like WHOOOSH! - a wonderful wake up call in case you were doing any California dreaming. The Pacific Motion section is especially good, as if there might be some Mutant Gillmen swimming in this ocean, on their way to Positron Island. In other words, a Drexciyan-techno connection springs to mind although this is beatless. As a solo instrumental work it differs from Ferreyra's music but the pure electronics offer simpler pleasures and, yes, it would be suitable for the beach. Immersion is Pacific Tubular Waves underwater, literally, having been dipped beneath the waves via a sonar loudspeaker and moved around by them. That's something, isn't it? The results were then treated in the studio and combined with sequences on the Synclavier. Welcome to Redolfi's 'ocean of sound'.
On the vinyl consumer kicksometer it's off the scale. This morning I read Bob Stanley's piece in The Guardian about the vinyl revival, came home and found this waiting for me...
...oooh, what could be inside, kids?
I'm the right age to be a '50-quid man', but not the type. I don't have the money they do for starters. Plus they've gone full circle from vinyl to CDs, MP3s and back again whilst I've always bought vinyl, intermittently, mostly old second-hand albums. This is a luxury purchase (I suppose it would be to most) because rather than being able to casually spend loads on vinyl I'm impulsive and, yes, the burn holes in all my trouser pockets tell the tale of what money does to them.
Well wrapped, isn't it?
Bubble wrap peep show...
...I splashed out for two good reasons; one being the fact that I haven't heard some of the material, the other being the focus I know vinyl brings as opposed to files which, due to their abundance and ease of play, frequently get played and not listened to properly.
Look...tasty photos on the sleeves...
...you handsome bastard!
Better unwrap the albums. I haven't been so excited since Chelsea won the Champion League. Perhaps I'll write it on the calendar...'Pierre Henry's Choix D'oeuvres: 1950 - 1985 arrived'. Nah, that would be stupid. Hold on, I'm distracted by Microphone Bien Tempéré...Dimanche Noir...are those church bells? What are those sounds? Yes, the beautiful mystery of musique concrète....now Bach's being wound fast-forward - brilliant! It's the early-50s and Pierre Henry is playing with the Classical tradition like a true iconoclast, like a crazy man, like someone enthralled with what new machines can do to old sounds.
So I'm unwrapping the first disc...
...shiny vinyl thrill...feel the resistance of vinyl against paper the first time it's liberated...
...the ceremonial placing of album on a turntable that it hasn't met before. "Turntable, this is Pierre Henry. Pierre, this is my turntable. I'm sure you'll get on fine."
My hand is shaking...perhaps it's my age, but I suspect it's excitement...it must be, I'm not that old...
...lift off! No, not lift off, touch down...
...doesn't it sound great coming out of this? Robby The Robot likes it, I can tell...the tape future concrète meets the electronic (Forbidden) planet of sound...
...I wonder if J.G.Ballard ever listened to Pierre Henry? Something about the way Henry and Schaeffer crashed sounds together might have appealed. Hold on, distracted by horse whinnying and dog barking on Astrologie (1953)...or Ballard's literary hero, William Burroughs...cut words, cut music...music as cut-up...
Running 'round the room in excitement? No, just an accidental snap...ha-ha.
Sound of needle lifting off the vinyl...though I'm not a purist that very sound seems right for this music...and yes I've enjoyed most Pierre Henry tracks on files up until now...but now, that sound, it makes an instant connection with the times the early pieces were made, reuniting them across time. Old technology as a medium for what were once new ways of composing, which sound totally alive today; impervious to the ageing process. In these pieces we hear not just predictions of things to come, but parallel events, as valid now as they ever were, proving their worth as contemporaries rather than ancient precedents. For all their efforts it feels as if modern music makers in awe of Pierre Henry are still only trying to catch up. I suspect they'll only ever be looking at his heels...
(to be read in a Brooklyn accent)
Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where them birdies is?
Why, the birds is on the wing.
But that's absurd
I thought the wing was on the bird.
Started watching All Night Long again last night, just because we got fed up trying to search Netflix for anything decent and started arguing about how to search for anything decent so to prevent that going on all night long we decided to watch it again...
...worth seeing if only for when Richard Attenborough opens the door to his swish warehouse mega-pad and it's Dave Brubeck! He just turned up to play at the party, you know? It starts as Dickie walks in and there's Charles Mingus, on his own, on the stage, with his bass. Casual. It's no big deal, having Mingus as an entertainer at your party. Imagine it. Brit players such as Tubby Hayes and Johnny Dankworth arrive later. As a film, it's not great, but as a fantasy Jazz party in London circa '62, hosted by a rich chap, it's very entertaining.
Waiting for this to arrive...
...poor postman. It should keep me occupied for a while. I might delay opening it and just stare at the box for an hour or so. Well, you have to treat yourself now and again, don't you? Besides, I'm doing a lot of overtime at the office and Work must be related to pleasure, surely? I'm lucky in that respect. I don't work just to pay the bills. We live under a hedge in Camden, so pay no rent, and live on what the local Sainsbury's throws out. Come to think of it, the box these records will arrive in will come in handy as shelter from the wind.
(what am I talking about?)
With the general election coming up here in the UK the country's gripped by democracy fever as we all await our chance to vote for the party we totally believe in rather than registering a protest for lunatics who don't stand a chance of gaining power never mind knowing what to do with it. Great, isn't it? I'm old enough to remember when you were Left or Right and so were the parties. The choice was clear. Today no-one knows what the hell they think, apart from 'I don't know and don't trust any of them'. People moan about there being little difference between Labour and the Tories, but if there were, i.e., one was really Right and the other Left in the old sense, they'd moan about that too, probably. Socialism scares the hell out of everyone except that minority still clinging to dreams they had in the 70s/80s. When New Labour sold Socialism down the Thames they helped convince people that...what? We're all middle-class now? Home-owning, sensible, moderate blah, blah. If Pierre Henry's name was on the card I'd put my cross beside it. I'm not sure what his economic policies are...perhaps like mine, they're a little reckless....