I was asked to provide music for a work thing next week relating to Black History Month. Essentially a 3 hour (ish) playlist that can be put on shuffle while people mill about not knowing what is going on. While creating this playlist I stumbled accross the original version of ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ by the group ‘Baby Charles’. I didn’t know it was a cover version and had always assumed it was an original song by the Artic Monkeys. I was talking to Dave about it last night and he was quite suprised too. I should point out at this juncture that as a white middle aged male I was the perfect choice to create a Black History Month playlist.
Some of you may have issues with the above paragraph as, having looked it up this morning, it turns out that I was talking complete bollocks and the Baby Charles track is a cover of the Artic Monkeys and the song was written by Alex Turner. Oh well, I’m right more than 95% of the time so I’m OK with that. I left the track in the playlist because I quite liked it. Here is that playlist just in case you were curious.
Somebody bought this album back around 2015 and wasn’t very pleased with it as I found it in a used records bin still in its shrink wrap for £7.00. As it was released by Warp records and I was sure I’d heard some of their tracks somewhere in the past and don’t remember hating them, I bought it. Pretty glad I did as I really do like it. I’m very fond of spoken word interludes in music, the sort of thing Public Service Broadcasting do for instance, and this has an element of that although more between tracks rather than as an integral part of them, they have a proper sense of not being scripted though, which matters. There’s also some words from former British PM David Cameron, the man so self absobed in his own belief of his invincibility that he never considered that the referendum could possibly not go the way he expected, and when it did, he ran away and left everybody else to deal with it.
Darkstar are James Young and Aiden Whalley (there was a third member at one point, James Buttery) who began making music together in London around 2007 and originally self released their records. ‘Foam Island is their third studio album which was released on 25 September (UK) and 2 October (ROW) via Warp Records. The album’s main themes were informed by social change in the UK and in particular how this is affecting the youth of today post UK Conservative Party re-election. Much of the spoken word included on the album is as a result of the duo travelling to Huddersfield in order to talk to and capture the thoughts and aspirations of the Northern youth of England.
Tracklist A1 Basic Things A2 Inherent In The Fibre A3 Stoke The Fire A4 Cuts A5 Go Natural A6 A Different Kind Of Struggle A7 Pin Secure B1 Through The Motions B2 Tilly’s Theme B3 Foam Island B4 Javan’s Call B5 Days Burn Blue
For me it was a good find as it is another of those bands that I’ve seen or heard a small amount of but never really investigated, now there are a few more albums out there that I can discover and if there’s one thing I really like, it’s finding new things to listen to. There’s an interesting summation to the album review in Crack magazine, which I think is probabaly true:
Foam Island is not the zeitgeist-defining masterpiece that something as ambitious and politically engaged as this could have been. There are moments when it seems to lose focus; minutes that pass without note. But Darkstar sound comfortable with themselves, and their uneasy equilibrium. You won’t hear another album like it this year, and that alone is a reason to grimly raise a glass and be thankful for a band with a disdain for smiling sweetly, and who remain on the outside looking in.
It’s probabaly fair enough, but sometimes it is just a question of whether you like something or not, and I like it.