25.5.09

THE MOODISTS : Engine Shudder (1983)

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The Moodists are another of those too unassuming for their own good bands who got lost in Simon Reynolds' subjective post-punk reshuffle & who, woefully under-represented on CD, have since slipped into total obscurity. Tragic really because, for a while back there, it looked like they might achieve something like bona fide popularity on the back (reluctantly) of fellow Aussies The Birthday Party's dark reign back at the foot of the 80s. I could drone on through another clumsily composed career precis at this point, but Moodists' frontman Dave Graney (aka El Supremo King Of Pop, et al) was actually there of course, & has a much better way with words than me, so read this instead. He looks better in leather keks than me too, the suave bastard.

Engine Shudder compiles most (but not quite all) of their initial 7"s. Sadly their uber-scarce "Where The Trees Walk Downhill"/"I Should Have Been There" debut isn't included &, 25 years on, I've still yet to see a copy let alone hear it*. Despite plenty of press, some of it positive, the presence of Victor Van Vugt at the controls (he'd produce virtually all of their subsequent records) & Bleddyn Butcher's striking eye for a cover image, their one album proper, 1984's Thirsty's Calling, never really found an audience & thereafter the band seemed to lose heart somewhat - disillusioned, no doubt, by the lack of label support & the poverty-stricken living conditions they'd succumbed to. The following year's Double Life, another EP length round-up of singles, etc was the final release by this incarnation of the band, though a re-jigged, Orange Juice-powered Moodists did return to release a string of horn laden 12"s (including one for Creation Records, bizarrely enough) in the mid-to-late 80s. They recorded a fantastic, final Peel session around this time too - once I can find the link again I'll post it here. Splitting before the decade's end, Graney & Moore have since gone onto forge a long & by all accounts rather successful successful career as The Coral Snakes, The David Graney Show & (currently) Lurid Yellow Mist. Graney has also managed to sneak in a couple of appearances on Neighbours, though I've somehow managed to miss those...

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*This just in.

N.B. Apologies, etc: That Striped Sunlight Sound.

Kept Spectre

FOUR TET : Dialogue

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When Trevor Jackson unexpectedly wound up his Output imprint a couple of years back, citing a creeping disillusionment with the music industry (& with certain acts he'd previously a big leg-up to, that's you J____ M______), it became immediately apparent how many great records he'd been a catalyst in releasing & how much we'd all been taking his label for granted. Think about it: LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Black Strobe, Volga Select, Mu, Gramme, Colder, Luke Abbot, Circlesquare, Icarus, Kate Wax, DK7, Sonovac, 7 Hurtz, Dead Combo, Fridge & Four Tet all came to prominance as a direct result of Jackson's terrific talent-scouting skills & bloody minded intent on promoting quality electronica. As well as being musically idiosyncratic, Output's releases were all gorgeously packaged as well, down to Jackson's sophisticated, forward-looking graphic design skills. He's been very quiet since Output's demise, I hope he hasn't retreated to a cave somewhere to misanthropically bang rocks together & bemoan the state of the music industry?
Keiran
Output's connection with the fledgling Keiran Hebden was certainly one of it's most creatively fruitful relationships. Initially recording as part of the Tortoise-inspired Fridge - a sporadically succesful experiment in minimalist electronic rock - it was the release of his first solo LP, Four Tet's Dialogue in 1999 (alongside a series of interesting experimental singles), that things really started sounding interesting. Signing to Domino on the back of this promising debut, he's since become one of the U.K.'s most highly regarded (& prolific) leftfield musicians, spanning the gulf between online 'zine & Sunday supplement without exerting too much obvious effort. Dialogue has been out of print for some time now &, with Jackson apparently having no interest in re-releasing any of Output's back catalogue, the chances of finding a copy for less than an Adam Smith nowadays'd appear pretty slim (surprising considering Domino's often opportunistic reissue schedule). Attentive listeners will notice a none-too-subtle Roxy Music cameo on "3.3 Degrees From The Pole", which leads me to me wonder how many other, less obvious samples I might've failed to recognise...

Dialogue.

Thanks to From Russia With Love for the link (pw = "maxiJazzzz").
www.fourtet.net
www.outputrecordings.com
www.trevor-jackson.com

23.5.09

BROADCAST : Black Session 2000

Lenoir
You can never have too much Broadcast, particularly when it's as spectacular as this.

Bernard Lenoir is the closest French radio has ever come to a John Peel figure. He's been broadcasting on France Inter & Europe 1 since the early 1970s, initially via his Feedback programme (notable for originally airing Joy Division's pivotal & much bootlegged La Bains Douches show in December 1980) &, more recently, Les Inrockuptibles (inspiring the magazine of the same name) & C'est Lenoir. His (ongoing) Black Sessions are a mindboggling who's-who of contemporary alternative music & superior to pretty much anything on British national radio (anybody & everybody half decent has appeared on it). Broadcast's show was recorded at La Maison De La Radio, Paris back on 4th May 2000 during "The Noise Made By People" tour & captures them at their (possible) finest - Billy Bainbridge's dazzling noise constructs are still fully in evidence (previously of Plone, he's since departed to form Seeland with another ex-Broadcastee, Tim Felton) & the band, no doubt confident from weeks of performing, are happy to let the songs drift off much further into semi-abstraction than on record. I saw them myself at this point & can testify that the combination of strange filmloops, uncanny electronic sound & Trish's lovely vocals really was quite an experience. The only downside is that Lenoir, like our own Peel, has a tendency to start babbling at precisely the wrong moment but, in all fairness, his accent manages to make even "Birmingham" sound relatively sexy so give him a break, eh?
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21.5.09

THE RESIDENTS & RENALDO & THE LOAF : Title In Limbo (1983)

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Title In Limbo was recorded over four days in 1981, when The Residents were visited by their English counterparts (sort of) Renaldo and The Loaf while the latter were on vacation in San Francisco. Unable to finish the album before the duo returned home, it was quietly put to one side & essentially forgotten about until 1983 when, in the midst of a minor financial crisis at Ralph Records, the half-finished album was revived as a potential financial lifeline, The Residents conspired to fill out these gentle, playful tunes with additional vocals (courtesy of Nessie Lessons) & guitars (the ever-present Snakefinger) & to ready the album for release. Brian "Renaldo Malpractice" Poole made a flying visit to sing & participate in the instrumental overdubs also, while Dave "Ted The Loaf" Janssen, unable to get time off from work, contributed tapeloops.

Less self-consciously whacky than Renaldo & The Loaf, yet more approachable & (dare I say it?) poppy than The Residents, Title In Limbo (aka Turtle In Lima) is one of the last Residents LP that I can actually sit down & listen to throughout without wondering "What if?" (i.e. "What if they hadn't embraced horrible digital technology so totally at the expense of their ingenuity?") - only The Mole Trilogy & low-res soundtrack works like The Census Taker (c.1985) come between them & underwhelming, stack 'em high, digitised commodification from hereon. Despite an "experimental edition" of 1,000 numbered Ralph CDs that oozed out on the late 90s, Title In Limbo has yet to be properly reissued anywhere. A handful of songs have appeared as bonus residue on assorted Residents' CDs here & there, but the majority of this divine collaboration is sadly still locked away in the Ralph archives awaiting future divulgence. Nifty Pore Know graphics as always. Blorp.

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You can find out what Renaldo & The Loaf are up to nowadays here, but this is worth a look too. The Residents, of course, virtually own the internet. Oh, & many thanks to Filthy Sick for rehabilitating this much neglected beauty.

Horizontal Logic

CAN : Prehistoric Future

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Can were formed in Cologne in mid 1968 & recorded this inugeral jam at Schloss Norvenich (a castle!) in June of that year. Vocalist Malcolm Mooney didn't beam down until Autumn, so these initial recordings are made even more droolworthy by the presence of David Johnson (on flute & tapes) & Manni Lohe (flute & vocals), whose fleeting membership is generally overlooked or conveniently ignored. Alongside Carioli, Liebezeit, Czukay & Schmidt they summon up a loutish, barbaric racket that brings to mind the James Brown Band boorishly stumbling through a spontaneous cover of "Sister Ray". It's raw as fuck, defiantly shambolic & definitely pre-Kosmische. Even the flute sounds uncouth (it probably stank of patchouli too).

Originally released on C30 cassette in 1984 by Pascal Bussey's ace Tago Mago label (also responsible for a very scarce This Heat / Albert Marcoeur tape which you can find here), these recordings apparently pre-date the sessions for their still-unreleased debut LP, Prepared To Meet Thy Pnoom (portions of which turned up on Delay:68) &, primitive or not, still hold their own alongside contemporary wannabes like Wooden Shjips...
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Bless yers: Earcraft & Mutant Sounds.

9.5.09

THE COOLEST MAN IN THE WORLD (STILL)

Just in case you haven't already seen it...

...it's a Henry Mancini song, the love theme from an 1970 Italian film called I Girasolo (aka Sunflower). The footage is from a shortlived British TV show called 2Gs & The Pop People (broadcast on the commercial channel) - dunno about the rest of the show but this clip is just great innit? You can find "Loss Of Love" on his 1972 LP The Moviegoer btw.

8.5.09

DAPHNE ORAM : Oramics

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Like many folk of my age, the eerie sound of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop permeated my childhood via their haunting theme & incidentals for Dr.Who & (sporadically) The Tomorrow People, plus numerous television & radio documentaries & jingles. Though Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson & John Baker have all psothumously received generous good press, it seems like Daphne Oram - who actually co-founded the Workshop with Desmond Briscoe in 1958 - has been relegated to the sidelines somewhat. I have to admit that I only first heard about her a couple of years ago c/o a brief article in The Wire magazine related to the release of Paradigm Record's stunning Oramics anthology. Both her commercial utilisation of make-do electronica & musique concrete theory, & the compositional system of Oramics itself that she spent her lifetime developing, verge on outright genius. I'd make an idiot of myself if I tried to explain the above in my own, over-enthusiastic babble, so do yourself a favour & check out daphneoram.org & her Wikiedpia entry for a more balanced explanation - they're both essential reading.
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Tragically, the exemplary Oramics CD is already OOP. Mute's recent, long anticipated reissue programme of the Workshop's back catalogue, though to be applauded, only fleetingly touches on Daphne's outstanding & progressive experiments in electronic sound, so I'm linking to this great post Bruitage Et Mon Cri Dans L'Escalier blog & hoping that they won't mind too much. You lot, meanwhile, should prepare to be amazed...

Disc 1 / Disc 2

So, did she accidently invent techno? I'm not sure about that, but she did apparently help devise early on-board music software for the personal computer & her influence on pioneers such as Eno & Kraftwerk is undeniable.

7.5.09

SUDDENLY, WE ARE EATING SANDWICHES...

A couple of flat out stormers from the Punk Not Profit blog, a new 'un to me though I have an inkling that they've been up & running for some time. Definitely make time to root through their archives when you get chance 'cos they're stuffed to burst with choice posts:

So then, I was under the impression that there were only three songs on the original, pre-Virgin, Magazine demo but, nope, there are actually twice that. One of 'em, the fantastically titled "Suddenly We Are Eating Sandwiches", turns out to be a very embryonic thrash through "My Mind Ain't So Open" with totally different lyrics & a winebar sax solo. Though the rest of the songs here don't differ too much from their "official" counterparts, it's surprising to hear how wiry & tentative they are - particularly "The Light Pours Out Of Me" which is way more reticent & melancholy than the later, commanding Real Life take. The whole thing's so good that it almost makes up for the semi-awful night I had back in February when I travelled up to Manchester to see the reformed Magazine play their first hometown show in 25+ years - a great performance on the whole (not nearly enough Secondhand Daylight though) but soured somewhat by an audience of 75% agressive, domineering meatheads determined to relive their badass pogo heyday en masse at the expense of anybody who happened to get in their way (guess who?). Barry Adamson had a nice hat on though.
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Even more exciting a discovery - from where I'm sitting anyway - is Eno's solitary John Peel session, recorded at the height of his post-Roxy glam phase circa Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, & employing proto-pub rockers The Winkies as his backing band. The BBC's Keeping It Peel reckons it was recorded on 26th February 1974 by Tony Wilson ("another one", Peel'd often append) & I'm pleased to report that it's an absolute stormer. Though less sonically adventurous than his records, these versions are way more agigtated, amped-up & r.o.c.k.-friendly than the ones you're (probably) familiar with. The Winkie-fied Eno rips through "Baby's On Fire" & "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch", slams the notch violently to the right on "Totalled" (actually an electrfied "I'll Come Running" it transpires) & departs with a slightly ill-advised swagger through "Fever" (yeah, that one) - marvellous stuff & camp as fuck! Eno only toured this line-up the once as far as I'm aware, a shame as this session is so outstanding, but a year later he'd already packed the feather boa off to Oxfam & gotten himself a serious haircut in preparation for Another Green World. No more "idiot energy", as he was wont to refer to it...

P.S. Many thanks again to Punk Not Profit.

3.5.09

RIP RIG + PANIC : Bob Hope Takes Risks 12" (1981)

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Most people'll tell you that Rip Rig + Panic were a noisier version of Pigbabg. Not that "most people" have the slightest inkling who Pigbag actually were of course, let alone Rip Rig + Panic. RR+P stumbled stinking, blinking, scratching their heads & (I imagine) hitching up their britches, out of the mangled wreckage of The Pop Group sometime in 1981. Initially a loose knit experimental musical collective fronted by The Group's avant garde jazzbo Gareth Sager (with drummer Bruce Smith in tow), they released a succession of irreverent singles & albums on Virgin Records that seemed commercially unorthodox at the time &, even with 20-odd years hindsight, still sound singularly radical & anarchic. Quite how or why Branson & co. sanctioned sessions in expensive recording studios for this provocatively "out there" music, let alone shelled out for full page adverts in the music press to promote it, beggars belief in the current, uber-conservative music industry climate. Simpler & more broadminded times I guess? RR+P's name was, I'm sure you're aware, swiped from a Roland Kirk album, & this grounding in jazz forms the backbone of their music - a squalling, clattering freeform chaos that's somehow been manhandled into semi-recognisable horn-led "song"-type shapes. Lyrically they doggedly persued a garbled line in surreal & slightly self-conscious socio-politcal sub-hipster scat-cum-esperanto, dutifully spouting this jivetalk in interviews at the time. I'm guessing a fair amount of drugs might've been involved but couldn't possibly say for certain. Though not particularly illuminating (& I'm guessing that might've been the point?), it did make for some mindboggling songtitles: "She Gets So Hungry At Night She Eats Her Jewellery", "Blip This Jig It's Shamanic", "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Brrod","What Are The Toads Doing So Far From The Swamp" & "Another Tampon Up The Arse Of Humanity" are remain particularly salient I think?
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As per the majority of RR+P's singles, "Bob Hope Takes Risks" (their second 45) didn't turn up on any of their albums. Though Neneh Cherry (yep, that one) was already upfront on vocals, the band would have to wait sometime before achieving it's 2 major collaborative & promotional coups: (i) recording with both noted trumpeter Don Cherry (Nehneh's dad) & Nico (the latter on a 9/81 Peel, anybody got it?), & (ii) appearing as the house band on TV's The Young Ones, storming through their almost-hit "You're My Kinda Climate" (you'll find it on Youtube). Frustratingly ill-served on CD, with neither their God nor I Am Cold LPs ever having been reissued & only a long deleted compilation (the scattershot Knee Deep In Hits) ever seeing the light of day, RR+P are one of those few bands whose records must be purchased on sight, if only because the likelihood of you seeing them twice is so stupendously slim. Dig in & dig 'em...

Chemically Wet

2.5.09

BECK : Don't Get Bent Out Of Shape

Beck Bent
Some thoughtful oik sent me an MP3 of Beck's Record Store Day 7" this week & it ain't 'alf bad - a disconsolate, forbidding acoustic retelling of "Green Light", one of my favourite Sonic Youth songs (unfortunately their version of Beck's "Pay No Mind" on the flip is fucking horrific). Typically, this once again set me off on a 'net-based fact-finding sweep for some of those little missing pieces (& there are many) of the Beck jigsaw puzzle that remain remote & uncharted: the MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack 7" for example (if anybody knows where I can find that can you p-l-e-a-s-e let me know?). Sadly, this ain't that. Instead, it's a spiffin' 19-song demo tape from 1992 - the same period documented on Stereopathetic Soulmanure, not long prior to the pre-eminence of "Loser" & the sudden, dramatic hike in his profile that (briefly) made him the posterboy of grunge-weary stoners everywhere. Don't Get Bent Out Of Shape has much in common with the One Foot In The Grave LP - released on K in the immediate aftermath of Mellow Gold in 1994 & still many folks' favourite Beck record. Intended to be a low-key side project, it's since gone on to sell around 170,000 copies in the States alone & recently received the "deluxe" reissue treatment c/o Beck's own Iliad label with an entire additional disc of outtakes 'n' chattels. Though not without it's fair share of messing about (as have all of his early releases), Don't Get Bent... is the best set of indie-Beck that I've heard to date & listening to it now it's hard to comprehend that a couple of years later the gent responsible for these apocalyptic dustbowl elegies ("When Will The Water Take Back The Land", et al) would be trading funk samples with The Dust Brothers on Odelay. If you don't like him already it's doubtful that this demo'll initiate any kind of epiphany but, archivally at least, it's indispensable for any convert. There's a ton of Dylan apparent herein which, conveniently, brings me full circle to this daft cover of "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" Beck donated to War Child's Heroes compilation earlier this year...
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Compliments to the chef: Brunnski Beats.
www.beck.com

THROBBING GRISTLE : Pastimes / Industrial Muzac (Industrial Records C60, 1979).

Pastimes
I'm sure, like myself, you frequently awaken to find yourself in that peculiar frame of mind that finds nothing out-of-the-ordinary in shattering the idle tranquility of one's breakfast time with howling cassette-borne gales of ferocious condenser-mic tumult (strictly '70s vintage obvs.) whilst poring over that morning's copy of The Independent & stuffing hot buttery crumpets into one's gob? This morning is, indeed, one such occasion. And amen to that.

Throbbing Gristle's Pastimes / Industrial Musac cassette (IRC 23) was originally released by Industrial Records in 1979, though it's been frequently bootlegged since. Neither titled nor dated, the formative - formless - frenzied - fearsome racket herein sounds like nothing if not a grief-stricken, Ketamine-soaked Tangerine Dream - Zeit on a Happy Shopper budget. Crucially, none of Pasttimes' contents has ever been officially re-released, as none of Industrial's studio tapes were included in Mute's TG24 or TG+ box-sets.

Essential listening, but don't blame me if it gives you glue-ear.

See Sixty