It happened again!
I like Nicolas Jaar, and I had never heard of Dave Harrington, though I was reasonably confident he wasn’t the Darts player from New Zealand. So I took a punt on double LP ‘Psychic’ by Darkside. I wasn’t disappointed. Everything I liked by Jaar is in there, and the collaboration with Harrington has produced a fuller sound, that allows it’s influences to show through without allowing them to dominate. The band name itself gives an idea of some of the textures that evolve on this record, and something by ‘Can’ was playing between takes in the studio, my guess is that ‘Tago Mago’ was on at some point. Not that this is an attempt at re-creating things that have gone before, it has a freshness, an inventiveness that invites you in and then messes with your head a bit.
The album was released on October 4, 2013 and recorded over the course of two years between Jaar’s home in New York City, Harrington’s family barn in Upstate New York and somewhere in Paris. As far as I know there will be no follow up as the collaboration was never intended to be a long running project, and, to be frank, they have a hell of a lot to live up to as ‘Psychic’ is an extraordinary piece of work, absolutely spoiled by the fact that it plays at 45RPM. Now I appreciate that this isn’t a problem for most people, especially those that aren’t listening on vinyl. But to play a 45 I have to take my turntable apart, move a belt and put it back together again, which is a pain. OK, it doesn’t ruin it, it just causes me a minor inconvenience which I’m sure wasn’t deliberate.
The opening track, ‘Golden Arrow’ was pre-released as a free download, and comes in at a hefty 11 minutes and 20 seconds. Spin gave the track a positive review, describing it as “11 minutes of instrumental excellence.” They were right, it is. Atmospheric, abstract and perhaps surprisingly, it has quite a groove going on as it evolves from noise, to down tempo disco to a Krautrock-ish finale.
I’ve listened to this album a dozen times now, and my appreciation of it grows at each listen. I doubt the album will be heard by as many people as it deserves to be heard by as the songs aren’t constructed in a way that hooks people like a pop chorus can, it is more of a slow burner, but it is worth the investment of time to get to know it, and get to love it. It is 45 minutes and 8 seconds of a little bit odd, but good odd, dark odd, and, occasionally, David Gilmour on guitar, surely using Dave Harrington as a pseudonym.
I think I shall start using a rating system, which will probably end up being a bit NUMBERWANG! And it will be out of 100, as 5 is too little, so is ten, and 59 makes it too difficult and unnecessary. So, for ‘Psychic’ by Darkside I am going for:
And here is a video of track 8: Metatron
When I bought a replacement turntable last year I didn’t really have anywhere sensible to put it, so I dragged an old shelf unit from the back of the garage, where it had been doing a great job of allowing various bits of crap that I should have thrown away to sit on it. I now think I should pay a visit to IKEA or somewhere to sort out the overflow problem I seem to be having, the problem is evident in the picture.
I know there all sorts of lovely bespoke units available, but I really don’t have that sort of money to throw around, utilitarian is what I need, something functional will do me just fine.
I did an IKEA search a few weeks ago and found the perfect unit, except it didn’t seem to be available in the UK, so I may have to go to my nearest store armed with a record and find something that it will fit into that also allows me to put my turntable and amp on the top.
Just as a point of interest, this photograph was taken while listening to ‘Breakfast In America’ by Supertramp. You can see the cover on the left.
I bought this today for £3.50 in Head Records in Leamington Spa, and it plays like new. I’ve always liked Grace Jones, who is another one who has had a bit of a bad response from many in the music press, perhaps since the time she hit Russell Harty on TV, although I thought all the guests on his chat show should probably have hit him. My favourite bit is when the audience applauds as she wades in (the guy who talks over it is a dick):
I took a crappy photo of it so here is the actual cover, in which my interest was re-ignited after I read an article on how it was created (by her then partner, Jean Paul Goude):
As you can see, she didn’t actually perform the pose, it is a composite. Despite this, it is still a great cover image.
Here is the entire album in video, with an extra one at the end, of her 2012 performance for the Jubilee where, at the age of 64, she hula-hoops whilst performing ‘Slave to the rythm’, extraordinary woman.
The album itself is a greatest hits of sorts so there aren’t any bad tracks on it and it is a fabulous introduction to her work.
Now I shall probably grab some more Grace on vinyl, as I had ‘Nightclubbing’ at some point in the distant past and feel the need to get it again.
I am an incompletist, this is clear to me, this is very similar to a completist, but without the need to get absolutely everything. What I have is the need to get a lot, but not all. This is evidenced but my previous desire to get a couple of Gary Numan/Tubeway Army albums on vinyl, namely ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and ‘Replicas’. What happened next is a manifestation of my incompletism, which may very well be an ilness. I went a bit obsessive. It’s calmed down a bit now, but it isn’t over. So this is what I ended up getting, remember, I started out wanting two:
Now, I’ve spoken before about how Numan somehow never manages to be cool and there has been ridicule over the years, however, he has put out some great albums over the last few years that, sadly, have been mostly ignored. Take ‘Pure’ as an example, it really is some of the best music he’s ever done (mine is a double in red vinyl, lovely thing) which goes back as far as 2000. Have a listen, it’s really very good:
Ok, maybe this will work better:
Gary Numan – Guitar, Keyboards, Programming, vocals
Richard Beasley – drums
Steve Harris – Guitar
Rob Holliday – Guitar, Keyboards
Monti – Drums, Keyboards, Programming
The album received mixed reviews, from rather scathing to warm, which is a shame, but there seem to have been sections of the media that have never taken to Numan. Jumping back a little further, there is ‘Exile’, which is worth having just for the track ‘Dead Heaven’, one of my favourites, but the whole album is good.
Gary Numan – vocals, producer, keyboards, guitar, engineer, mixing
Mike Smith – keyboards
Rob Harris – guitar
Here is Numan the one time I’ve seen him live back in 2011, two of the musicians didn’t turn up but they carried on regardless, was a good gig.
Chances are I’ll pick up a few more, bound to happen really.