I took rather a lot of time arranging my albums in alphabetical order and, in some cases, I’ve got it wrong or made contrary decisions based on band names, first letter? First letter of last word or surname? It’s near enough at the moment but I’ll have to attend to it at some point as it is a bit irritating. The one area that was particularly easy was the Bjork cube, it took up a section on its own with a bit of room left over for anything new. Something new arrived, it is now pretty much full, see for yourself:
That doesn’t include The Sugarcubes, because they are S, but it could I suppose. This basically means that either Bjork is no longer allowed to release any more records or I will have to creep into the next cube along and do a bit of re-shuffling. Tough one, who knows how that will turn out.
The last thing to slip into the Bjork cube was last weeks release of the Blissing Me remixes.
I haven’t had an opportunity to play it yet, but it is a lovely artefact, including printing inside the cover, where it won’t even be seen, nice attention to detail that and something that she has done before.
Apparently this is one of the tracks, received a lot of negatives on youtube but I really haven’t listened at all.
Just that kiss
Was all there is
Every cell in my body
Lined up for you
Legs a little open
Awaken my senses
Arisen my senses! (Arisen my senses)
Just that kiss
Was all there is
My hands, my palms pulsating of
The things I want to do to you (the things)
(I want to do to you)
Just that kiss (just that kiss)
Is all there is (is all there is)
We’re weaving a mix-tape
With every crossfade
For him I heed (Is WWW)
Songs from the
Warmth, once again (I’ll send you some)
We’re weaving a mix-tape
Weaving a mix-tape (with every)
For who I am
For, for, with love
With love (and)
Awaken my senses
I’ll weave it
Just that kiss (awaken my senses)
Was all there is
Just that kiss (kiss, kiss) (arisen)
Was all there is (my senses, my senses)
Once again, just that kiss (arisen)
Was all there is (my senses)
For him I heed
Once again, I’m made to merge
For him I heed
We’re made to merge (it’s you)
For him I heed (I see)
For him I heed
For him I heed (am I keen or key or not too keen)
Too keen, to see, to be seen (am I keen or key or not too keen?)
With him I heed
He sees me for who I am (am I keen or not keen?)
For him I heed
To key, to see, to be seen (am I keen or not keen?)
With him, him (am I keen or not keen?)
He sees me for who I am (to key, to be?)
I have written several times before about the time I first heard The Sugarcubes in 1998. I remember well walking into Our Price in Leamington Spa on the day ‘Life’s Too good’ was released and hearing it play in the store. I asked the guy behind the counter what it was and bought it right away, never looked back and still love that album today, and Bjork. This is true, and is one of the reasons I find Debut to be such an extraordinary album, the transition to solo artist was seamless and brilliant. The track I heard playing was Motorcrash and by the time I’d finished buying the album Birthday was playing.
In case you didn’t know The Sugarcubes (Icelandic: Sykurmolarnir) were an Icelandic alternative rock band from Reykjavík formed in 1986 which lasted until 1992. They released 3 proper albums and a couple or three compilations during their lifespan.
The band was, mostly:
Björk (vocals, keyboards)
Einar Örn Benediktsson (vocals, trumpet)
Þór Eldon (guitar)
Bragi Ólafsson (bass)
Margrét “Magga” Örnólfsdóttir (keyboards)
Sigtryggur Baldursson (drums).
The entire band were made up of members of various bands from the Icelandic punk scene of the time, with all the members having been performing for quite some time. Bjork had been well known in Reykjavik since she was only 11 and was a member of the band Tappi Tikarass:
Drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson had been a member of Peyr (Contains Nazi stuff, presumably ironic):
Guitarist Einar Orn Bendictsson and bassist Braggi Olafsson had been in Purrker Pillnikk:
There was also a sort of Icelandic super group called Kukl, that I’d never really heard of but I gave them a listen today and it is really pretty good, I like them. Bjork and a couple of other future Sugarcubes members were part of the band and they had two album releases to their credit.
After Kukl, the members of newly formed Sugarcubes thought the band a bit of a joke and that it wouldn’t really last very long, even jokingly naming themselves after the nutrition they relied on to survive while out on tour.
Following a string of singles, including Birthday which was championed by John Peel, and signing to label One Little Indian in the UK, their debut studio album, Life’s Too Good, was released in April 1988 to, I think it is fair to say, unexpected international success. As debut albums go it was an absolute stunner. Like nothing that had really gone before it and I believe it to have been hugely influential on indie music at the time, particularly in Iceland.
Listening to it again this evening, and using the language of the young ‘uns of today, it is full of bangers. Odd songs with strange lyrics and a shouty man jumping in all over the place, it was different and interesting. The lyrics of the very first track playing in the record shop (which is a now defunct chain) really gripped me, it was such unusual subject matter with a similarly unusual delivery:
[Verse 1: Björk] Riding on my bicycle I saw a motorcrash A proper motorcrash and lots of spectators I rushed to the centre saw the injured parents Cuts on the children an awful motorcrash
[Verse 2: Björk] Took the mother sneaked with her secretly All the way to my home and nursed her gently Put on her bandages, gave her milk and biscuits She sighed pleasantly after this awful motorcrash
[Interlude: Einar] That girl on that bicycle showed great interest in all the motorcrashes In the neighbourhood, she looked quite innocent
[Bridge: Björk] Then we disguised ourselves took a taxi to her home When her husband answered the door She introduced herself, he said “Where have you been all this time?” Oh, oh, oh
[Outro: Einar] But believe you meI know what innocence looks like And it wasn’t thereAfter she got that bicycle
It starts off all bit quirky and, with Einar’s commentary, becomes all a bit creepy really, in a Stephen King’s Misery sort of way (as a point of interest the book was released in 1987 and the song was probably written a little while before that, so it is doubtful they are in any way connected, but you never know)
Birthday on the other hand is a rather beautiful and odd poem put to music, reading the lyrics without listening to the song, it is undoubtedly peculiar, having done that and then listened to the actual song, it is doubly so:
She lives in this house over there, has her world outside it. Grapples with the earth with her fingers and her mouth, she’s five years old. Thread worms on a string, keeps spiders in her pocket, collects fly-wings in A jar scrubs horse flies and pinches them on a line. she’s got one friend He lives next door, they listen to the weather, he knows how many freckles she’s got, She scratches his beard. she’s painting huge books, glues them together, They saw a big raven; it glided down the sky, she touched it. Today’s a birthday, they’re smoking cigars, he got a chain of flowers, Sows a bird in her knickers, they’re smoking cigars, lie in the bathtub, chain of flowers.
I made a playlist below of most of the tracks and they genuinely fill me with joy, particularly the live versions included, it’s quite extraordinary:
1 Traitor 3:10
2 Motorcrash 2:23
3 Birthday 3:59
4 Delicious Demon 2:42
5 Mama 2:56
6 Coldsweat 3:17
7 Blue Eyed Pop 2:37
8 Deus 4:08
9 Sick For Toys 3:14
10 F***ing In Rhythm & Sorrow 3:22
11 Untitled 1:29
Non Album Tracks (B-Sides and extra tracks)
Birthday (Original Demo Version)
Luftgitar (12″ Version)
F***ing In Rhythm & Sorrow (Live)
Birthday – Christmas EveRemix – The Jesus And Mary Chain
Birthday – Christmas DayRemix – The Jesus And Mary Chain
Birthday – Christmas PresentRemix – The Jesus And Mary Chain
Coldsweat (Meat Mix)
Blue Eyed Pop (2nd Mix)
There may be more but these are the ones I have from the 12-11 12″ Single box set.
The second album, Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! I originally bought on cassette, back when I still used a Walkman, or a cheaper version of one at least. This resulted in an interesting listening dynamic as it was not particularly feasible to carry loads of cassette tapes around so I would put one in to the player in the morning for the walk to work and that was it, I’d listen at lunch and again on the way home, sometimes the same cassette would be in there for weeks. This is how I heard this album, almost immersing myself in it and shutting out the rest of the world for the duration.
After the Cassette I did pick up a CD version and it was only last year I finally bought a vinyl version, which is 3 tracks short.
The album was released in 1989 and it featured a much larger share of the vocals for Einar Örn, which received rather a lot of criticism at the time. I don’t believe the criticism was warranted, although I do understand it, I probably would have wanted more Bjork and less Einar at the time and there a couple of tracks where I think Einar’s vocal was somewhat superfluous, however, The Sugarcubes weren’t Bjork, they were a band and that’s how they were set up. I guess the test would be to listen to the songs, which were written for two vocals, without Einar, they probably wouldn’t make sense and would have seemingly unnecessary instrumental bits. Without Einar, who knows, maybe Bjork would not have been able to rise to where she is today, we should all probably be thanking him.
Lyrically there’s a deilightfull quirkiness which may have evolved from many of the songs having been written in Icelandic and translated into English, such as from the opening track Tidal Wave:
There’s danger, danger!
A tide with an undertow, the sea is swelling Impatience makes me foam A wave inside me forces out big words They splash and sprinkle An angry torrent breaking loose, a flush or rushing joy
And again in Shoot Him:
There were four of us One of us was the landlord There were, we were on a drinking spree I had eaten my take-away I washed my landlord, he was covered in gravy The others were amazed how dirty he was How I was, but I said, He never took a bath, He never takes a bath, So why, why don’t we just shoot him?
Interestingly these were Einar’s vocal with Bjork joining in on the last line, although I could easily imagine her singing those words.
As before, below are most of the songs from the album, many live, some in Icelandic. Is the album underrated? Yes, I’d say it was by many, all ratings at the end of the post.
Tidal Wave – 2:56
Regina – 4:05
Speed Is The Key – 3:18
Dream TV – 3:12
Nail – 3:18
Pump – 4:25
Eat The Menu – 3:44
Bee – 2:26
Dear Plastic – 3:23
Shoot Him – 2:10
Water – 3:01
A Day Called Zero – 2:38
Planet – 3:23
Bonus tracks on the cassette
Hey – 3:22
Dark Disco 1 – 3:01
Hot Meat – 3:16 (Re-working of Coldsweat)
Then came Stick Around For Joy, which is their third and final proper album, released in 1992, just a year before Bjork’s first solo album, Debut, was released.
9th January 1992, The Sugarcubes perform Hit on Top Of The Pops (The date is wrong on the video below) . I was 25 by this time and just sat and gawped at the screen, it was just perfect. I remember watching, and watching and then, yes, they aren’t lip syncing, this is a live vocal. By the time it was over I really did think what the hell are TOTP going to do now having opened with that.
My memory fails me but I looked up that episode (chart positions in brackets):
(27) The Sugarcubes – Hit
(17) Isotonik – Different Strokes
(5) Kym Sims – Too Blind To See It (video)
(14) Carter – The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Rubbish
(26) Blue Pearl – (Can You) Feel The Passion
(18) Senseless Things – Easy To Smile
(1) Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (video)
Well it was all downhill from The Sugarcubes in my opinion. Just in case anybody is thinking about that Queen number 1? Well it was just after Freddy Mercury died, so it is understandable, but the song was 17 years old at this point and I really would rather listen to Hit.
There were 4 singles released from the album, Hit being the only one to chart, peaking at number 17, the others being Walkabout, which has the following delightful lyric:
Delicious boy, With animal eyes, Beautiful buttocks, Haunting movements. But the thing that makes me love you Is the unforgettable smell of your skin.
Vitamin & Leash Called Lovewere the other two singles and they all, in my opinion deserved to do better than they did.
A3 Leash Called Love
A4 Lucky Night
A5 Happy Nurse
B6 I’m Hungry
B8 Hetero Scum
Stick Around For Joy was probably as far as the band could go with then Bjork/Einar combination. The album is filled with really good songs, as were all three, but it was time for change after this one. There were a couple of other albums, It’s-It released in 1992 which was a remix album and it is pretty good, and The Great Crossover Potential which was a greatest hits/best of that was released in 1998. There is also 12:11, a box set released in 1998 of 11 12″ singles which is well worth picking up.
The Sugarcubes were great while they lasted, and I would have loved to have caught them live (maybe one day there will be another re-union, there was one gig in 2006, in Reykjavík but the chances of getting to that were 0) but I do think stopping at 3 albums was a wise decision although while Bjork continued here rise it would have been nice to see the rest of the band continuing as it isn’t all about Bjork, the whole package was brilliant.
There it is, up there. The album is now titled ‘Utopia’ and will be released on November 24 via One Little Indian. Co-produced by Arca and with artwork has been designed by Jesse Kanda. I pre-ordered mine ages ago so should have it on the day of release hopefully.
Here is the actual announcement, I think from Twitter:
i am so overwhelmingly humble while announcing my album utopia is coming out end of nov . i can´t wait for you to hear it . this is the cover made by the warm extraordinary talented @truekanda and was assisted by me , @james.t.merry and @isshehungry . thank you for telepathically getting me !! over the moon and jupiter gratitudes to magical @arca1000000 for making the music of this album with me : what a profound and nourishing trip this has been !!! thousandfold appreciation and headbowing . hope you like it , warmth , björk
I received an e-mail a few days ago telling me that the new Bjork single, The Gate, had been released a couple of days early with a download code, i went to apple music instead and there it was. And there it is below:
I was hoping for something more accessible than recent releases and I think that’s what this is. It is a beautiful song, spread out over 7 minutes with really interesting layering of vocals and use of instrumentation.
I’ve probably listened to it 30 or 40 times now and love it, which bodes well for the new album that is ‘coming soon’ though exactly when that is remains a bit of a mystery.
A very limited run of Björk’s new single ‘the gate’ will be released on single-sided 12” vinyl via one little indian records 22nd September 2017.
‘the gate is essentially a love song, but i say ‘love’ in a more transcendent way. vulnicura was about a very personal loss, and i think this new album is about a love that’s even greater. it’s about rediscovering love – but in a spiritual way, for lack of a better word.’ – Björk
I now have the new album and this single on pre-order, although I didn’t realise that I will receive both at the same time, so I will have to wait until the later album release to get the single. Never mind, I will have heard the track by then anyway.
Really interested to see where she is going stylistically with these new songs as recent releases have not been very accessible. This is not a criticism, they just haven’t been. I’d like to see them be more accessible but not too accessible, there’s a halfway point between Vulnicura and, let’s say, Homogenic that would be a really nice area to have her music exist.
I also ordered this:
Biophilia – Matthew Herberts remixes.
Sixth in an eight-part series of remixes of tracks from björk’s biophilia. comes with mp3 download coupon.
500 limited edition 12” sleeves printed over micro-textured coloured cards with metallic foils and embossing.
There are eight of these in total I think, I have 6 now. Here are some of the tracks from this remix series.
A new album by Bjork was announced on my newsfeed with a link to pre-order, so I thought I’d do the as I have all her others and all of the Sugarcubes, I am a bit of a fan boy without doubt. There is absolutely no information on the Bjork site, The vinyl is £23.99 plus postage and this is the image:
I’d actually rather like it if it was completely white with no writing whatsoever, but I doubt it will be.
You can pre-order here if you would like your own copy.
Apparently Bjork has referred to this as her ‘Tinder’ album, with ‘Vulnicurna’ having been her break up album and the video director who looks to be working on Images for the new album, Andrew Thomas Huang, has said “This album is gonna be really future facing, I a hopeful way that I think is needed right now.”
There is no release date for the album, to teaser tracks, images, nothing, just the more above. In many ways it matters not, it’s a new Bjork album and I would buy it regardless as, having seen her live, almost 30 years after I first heard her as I walked into a record shop in 1988, I am as captivated as ever.
I have almost 4 months to catch up on! Although I haven’t been able to listen to very many albums due to the arrival of Orwell, our new dog. Still, I have managed to get some in but nowhere near the amount I was listening to, so anyway, here goes with the catch up, the ones I remember at least.
Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
Arca – Arca
Short Movie – Laura Marling
Filigree & Shadow – This Mortal Coil
It’ll End In Tears – This Mortal Coil
Lizard – King Crimson
Monster Movie – The Can
In The Court Of The Crimson King – King Crimson
Icky Thump – The White Stripes
White Blood Cells – The White Stripes
The White Stripes – The White Stripes
Heathen – David Bowie
EP1 – FKA Twigs
Ooops (Remix) – 808 State Featuring Bjork
Elephant – The White Stripes
Get Behind Me Satan – The White Stripes
I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect For You) – Grace Jones
They Fall, But You Don’t – Mondkopf
The Spoils -Massive Attack
Stop Your Crying – Spiritualized
CHECK OUT – hornschaft
Serf Rash – Run Dust
No Strength of Sun – Isorinne
Los Dinosaurios – Personal Mythologies
One Day – Akira Kosemura
Reverse – Richard Pinhas
Sakura – Susumu Yokota
Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 (EP) – Aphex Twin
Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works – Max Richter
On The Nature of Daylight – Max Richter
Elwan – Tinariwen
Restless Shapes – Gajek
Auto Music – Brian Reitzell
Tour De France – Kraftwerk
Christiansands – Tricky
Lifeforms – FSOL
ISDN – FSOL
The Boy And The Tree – Susumu Yokota
Grinning Cat – Susumu Yokota
Reflection – Brian Eno
Migration – Bonobo
Exit – Tangerine Dream
Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia – Ryuichi Sakamoto
The Unforgettable Fire – U2
Disappointed – Public Image Ltd
Warrior – Public Image Ltd
Songs From The Other Side Of Emptiness – Life Garden
Hyperballad (T. Tei / Howie B. Mixes) – Björk
Hyperballad (Morales / T. Terry Mixes) – Björk
A Shadow In Time – William Basinski
The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne – Georges Delerue
P.I.L – Live In Tokyo
Craig Armstrong – It’s Nearly Tomorrow Adelbert Von Deyen – Atmosphere
Glitterbug – Dust
Max Richter – Sleep Remixes
Can – Ege Bamyasi
Deacon Blue – Fellow Hoodlums
Funkstörung – Funkstörung
To Rococo Rot – The Amateur View
Milan W. – Intact
The Cult – Sonic Temple Björk – The Music From Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things Volume 1
Four Tet – Pause
Gala Drop – II
I really never do this sort of thing, at least not that I remember, but I thought I would for once. The list is only based on what I’ve heard so there are quite probably some amazing albums out there but as I haven’t listened to them I can’t include them. I’d be quite happy to be pointed towards anything that is a ‘Must Listen’ from this year though. Oh, and there may be some debate around which year some of these were actually released, but they are near enough.
I really can’t rank them so they are alphabetical by artist.
Arca – Mutant
Writing for Exclaim!, Daryl Keating said Mutant“is an album that is eventually rewarding, but only to those who are determined to follow its scattered pathway to the satisfying, aggregate end.”
Be – One
ONE is the soundtrack to artist Wolfgang Buttress’ multiple award winning UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo – an installation that highlighted the plight of the honeybee, focusing on the importance of pollination. The music on the record is a constantly changing and evolving symphony – the sound of a dialogue between bee and human.
Björk – Vulnicura Live
A live version of Björk’s highly-acclaimed, Grammy nominated, eighth studio album, ‘Vulnicura‘. I was unsure of it at first, but grew to love it, the original, and the Strings version.
Carl Matthews – Mirage – Tape – Years
Sent to me as part of my subscription to ‘That Special Record’, information was sparse, to the point that I had to create the Discogs entry for it myself. As I wrote after first listening to it : I played the album as soon as I arrived home with it, and my expectations were entirely wrong, it is absolutely brilliant and having listened twice now I cannot fathom why this isn’t massive, I like it that much. Imagine for a moment that Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream were asked to get together and produce a soundtrack to a movie of a Philip K. Dick novel whose main theme is how our increasing reliance on technology is eroding our humanity. That, to me, is this album. It has the sweeping vistas of Tangerine Dream but also the intricacies of Kraftwerk and the repetitiveness of both (Note to reader: I love repetitiveness).
David Bowie – ★ (Blackstar)
My first press vinyl copy is mint, still in the wrapper, I can’t bring myself to open it, though I have listened to it on other formats a lot this year. Losing Bowie was a shock, but the songs on this album somehow help to deal with that loss. I have found myself liking his later work much more than the earlier albums perhaps because they are not as familiar, but since ‘Earthling’ I really loved what he was doing.
De LA Soul – And The Anonymous Nobody I had the chance to see them, I did, at the Assembly in Leamington Spa, a small venue, but I couldn’t go on that day, then this came out and by god I regret not going. In my head it was going to be all ‘Me, Myself & I’ but this is another thing altogether. Why it isn’t appearing in everybodys 2016 list is a mystery to me.
Eluvium – False Readings On A worj of stunning beauty. Do you ever not play albums too much because you don’t want to get so familiar with it that it stops making you feel the way you did when you first heard it? I do, with this album. I’ve heard it a dozen times since I bought it but could easily have listened to it much more than that, but I ration it, because it makes me e
Explosions In The Sky – The Wilderness ‘The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place’ is one of my faviourite albums, and I’ve liked almost all the output of Explosions In The Sky, which makes me somewhat biased as I know this album did not get rave reviews from all quarters, though it duid get an 80 at Metacritic, which is pretty good. I have the Deluxe edition, red vinyl, transparent vinyl with one side etched, fold out cover and poster, it’s a lovely thing and the music is brilliant.
FP-Oner – 6
Another from ‘That Special Record’, one that I really wasn’t sure about at first but over time I have certainly grown to love it and not that much time either. I often wonder how profesional critics can make a judgement so quickly on some records, as there are many that a couple of plays is not enough to make an accurate judgement. In case you are wondering the genre is Deep House, though I don’t really know what that is.
Future Sound Of London – Environments Six & 6.5
Technically two albums, but released at the same time and I have the rest of the series that are availablae on vinyl (annoyingly, one of them isn’t). I have loved FSOL since Elizabeth Frasier sanf on the Lifeforms 12″, they create music that always interests me in some way. It’s full of textures and odditiues and it just somehow works, it so often fits right in with what I want to listen to.
Ian William Craig – Centres Pitchfork said: Ian William Craig’s Centres is a swirling and alchemical blend of drone, keyboards, and manipulated vocals. The more time you spend with it, the further you will want to get lost in it. – I agree
Ital Tek — Hollowed There’s a cohesiveness here hard to miss, an emotionally-charged aura and elegantly precise feel that runs from Hollowed’s surging opening notes to its final, poignant fade. – Somebody else wrote that, but I agree. I’ve only recently been listening to this but even so, its good enough to go straight into my albums of the year.
Jherek Bischoff – Cistern
This is Neo-Classical, again, no idea exactly what that means but I saw it in store and picked it up without having heard a single note. Well, limited edition of 500 on Gold Vinyl with a die cut inner sleeve is quite the bait for me. I looked it up – Neoclassicism in music was a twentieth-century trend, particularly current in the period between the two World Wars, in which composers sought to return to aesthetic precepts associated with the broadly defined concept of “classicism”, namely order, balance, clarity, economy, and emotional restraint. I don’t think it matters to be honest, I like it, that’s what matters.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things – Volume One & Two I don’t think I’ve made any secret of my love for ‘Stranger Things’ and it was an easy step to move from watching the TV series to picking up the soundtracks, which are so evocative of the time the show is set, recalling Tangerine Dream in particular but alos John Carpenter and others.
Mark Pritchard – Under the Sun
I don’t have this album on vinyl, I do have the 12″ that Thom Yorke sings on though and I’ve streamed this album a lot. The music is deeply atmospheric and richly impressionistic. It includes vocal performances from the aforementioned Thom Yorke as well as Linda Perhacs, Bibio,
Mogwai – Atomic This is technically a soundtrack, made up of reworked music from contributions to the BBC 4 documentary Storyville – Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise, which was a chronological history of nuclear disaster from Hiroshima onward. it is music of life and death, hope and fear, war and peace, atomic and organic. Stand out track for me is the opener, Ether, but I do love Mogwai and there’s little of theirs, if anything, that I dislike.
Nicolas Jaar – Sirens Housed in a ridiculous scratch card cover, complete with 5 cent piece, this is the seond of Jaars albums I’ve really liked (The other being ‘Space Is Only Noise’). I say ridiculous only becasue it is almost guaranteed to be ruined, which is how I look t it, just by the coin moving about inside the plastic sleeve, perhaps that’s the point.The music is electronic, both odd and familiar at the same time, and has a political message running through it.
Poliça – United Crushers
This is not considered to be their best effort by many reviewers, and it is overtly political, but I liked it a lot. It has tunes, catchy ones despite the sometimes awkward/difficult subject matter, and plenty of hooks. Sometimes I just want to listen to songs and this gives me that.
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool It’s Radiohead, it’s brilliant, I love it.
Roger Goula – Overview Effect
The ‘overview effect\ of the album title is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface, referring to the experience of seeing the reality of the Earth in space. There before them is this tiny planet, filled with life that is only protected by a fragile and thin atmosphere. When viewed from space there are no national boundaries, no politics, no conflicts, there is just this “pale blue dot” that gives us life and we must do everything we can to protect it. This album is a beautiful creation.
Saåad – Verdaillon Another from ‘That Special Record’, upon listening to this I wrote the following: through my own imagination or by design, I am transported to catacombs, to a room in the back of a church where there is water being scooped from a font, to the end of a service where a full house lays their bibles down on the pews in unison. Workmen repair something broken in an out of the way apse, monks, hoods up with faces hidden in shadow chant as an old but magnificent church organ sustains long chord changes. And then there is the ambience. It sounds almost ridiculous to me as I write it but much of this music is constructed around a church organ, an instrument I never thought would dominate any album I would ever own, but the sound of it, in it’s original setting with giant reverberations make it a powerful, dark, brooding thing at times, but at others it invokes all those memories of church services attended as a boy where everything was so very serious, and mysterious, to the child dressed up in his Sunday best and not knowing what was going on, only that it must be very important. At other times the organ is uplifting, spiritual even, bringing light to the dull lives of the listening congregation.
SKEPTA – Konnichiwa An album that takes no prisoners. In his own words: “They tried to steal my vision/This ain’t a culture/This is my religion”. ‘Shutdown’ is brilliant, in fact the whole thing is. I don’t know much abut grime, but I know when I hear something exceptional.
Swans – The Glowing Man This is supposed to be the final album for this iteration of Swans and it is both delicate and diamond hard in equal measure. Swans have in their time drawn from no wave, art-rock, industrial, sludge, drone, folk, and many more while disregarding genre boundaries. It’s a glorious piece of work spread over six sides of vinyl.
Tricky Featuring Dj Milo* & Luke Harris – Skilled Mechanics Here we are with Tricky, who I find it difficult to be objective about having pretty much been into everything he’s ever released, even those albums that were somewhat panned by critics, like Vulnerable which includes covers of The Cure’s “Love Cats” and XTC’s “Dear God.” Both of which I liked. Everything he does is always compared to Maxinquaye, which really was a masterpiece, but we have to look beyond that and this is an album of great tracks.
Xiu Xiu – Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks
The Angelo Badalamenti score for Twin Peaks is pretty much perfect and this years re-release in damned fine coffee coloured vinyl was a wonderful thing, so this album that covers the whole score by Californian band Xiu Xiu had a lot to live up to, and it does a great job, It’s a different perspective and already well known pieces that, while not exactly breathing new life into the music, offers a different perspective on it. It was released for Record Store Day, and then re-released afterwards, presumably because it sold well.
Thee majority of albums that appear in all the Best Of 2016 lists that are popping up all over the place about now aren’t here. Metacritic collects most of these lists and combines them into one big list, this is what they have:
Points/Album / Artist
87 Blackstar by David Bowie
92 Lemonade by Beyoncé
87 Blonde by Frank Ocean
89 A Seat at the Table by Solange
88 A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
90 Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
95 Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
75 The Life of Pablo by Kanye West
89 We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest
87 My Woman by Angel Olsen
87 22, A Million by Bon Iver
85 Malibu by Anderson .Paak
83 Hopelessness by Anohni
86 Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
92 You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
87 Puberty 2 by Mitski
73 Anti by Rihanna
79 Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop
75 I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It by The 1975
73 Hardwired… To Self-Destruct by Metallica
Hero by Maren Morris
I only have two from the above list, wich i see as a good thing actually. Of those there I’ve listened to ‘Puberty 2’ by Mitsky, didn’t like it much, “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” by A Tribe Called Quest which I did like but I haven’t listened to it enough, and that’s it. Over the chrismas period I’ll try and listen to the others to see what, if anything, all the fuss is about.
Max Richter – Songs From Before
Future Sound Of London – Environments 6.5
Bjork – Bastards
Mike Oldfield – Platimnum
Vangelis – Spiral
Bob Marley – Exodus
Isaac Hayes – Joy
Isaac Hayes – Shaft
Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul
Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle
Can – Tago Mago
Vangelis – Invisible Connections
Vangelis – Albedo 0.39 Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things Vol. 1
Brian Eno – The Ship
Tape – Luminarium
Future Sound Of London – Far-Out Son Of Lung And The Ramblings Of A Madman
Björk – Vulnicura Strings
Georg Holm, Orri Páll Dýrason, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, Kjartan Holm – Circe
I did a bit of work on the laptop, cooked our food, washed dishes and then sat down for a bit while listening to these yesterday.
Some time ago I signed up to the Bjork email list so that I could receive updates about new releases and suchlike, but also to know when she would be performing in the UK again. I was desperate to go to the Wilderness Festival last year but couldn’t find anybody to go with. I don’t have a problem going to gigs on my own but a festival alone seems a really rather sad thing, so I didn’t do that, maybe it’s the opposite though, it could be wonderful. Yesterday the mailing list email popped into my inbox to tell me that Bjork would be playing at the Royal Albert Hall in September and provided me with a pre-sale link for tickets. Well that made me feel special, for a while, until I actually tried to buy them.
They went on sale this morning at 09:00 and I was there, logged in and ready to go. 09:04 and the site was claiming to be down. I’m already frustrated at this point. 09:05 and I’m in and there are drop downs where I can select the number of tickets I would like. I select, I
press buy tickets, the same screen comes up again, so I select the number of tickets I would like, I press buy tickets, the same screen comes up again. I was in this loop for 20 minutes, becoming increasingly annoyed and frustrated at the web site seemingly mocking me, repeatedly raising my hopes and then smashing them into tiny little pieces. So I gave up.
I went and made a coffee and, having had this little break, I thought I’d have one last try. I select the number of tickets I would like, I press buy tickets and I’m in! I didn’t believe it of course and was fully expecting to crash out at any moment but actually made it all the way through and I have tickets. I’m so very pleased.
They aren’t the best tickets but I care not, as this is the only UK 2016 gig I’m just happy to have been there at all, also, I believe that at the Royal Albert Hall you are never that far away from the stage. To confirm this I went to their web site and found the following picture which is taken from very close to where I will be. Happy with that.
There is also ‘Bjork Digital’ at Somerset house, details of which can be found here:
Label: One Little Indian – tplp1328 Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album Country: UK, Europe & US Released: 15 Jul 2016 Genre: Electronic, Pop Style: Experimental
I am a sucker for all things Björk, and I think she knows this as she keeps releasing things and making me buy them. I bought ‘Vulnicura’, I bought ‘Vulnicura Strings’ and now I have bought ‘Vulnicura Live’. This is quite an odd situation and I am very much beginning to feel over Vulnicurad. I’ve said before that sometimes it can take me a long time to get to really like a Bjork album and this album, in all it’s variations, is another example. I find some of the tracks really lacking a much needed structure, they are angular, full of corners and edges, which may be entirely intentional as it is supposedly Bjorks ‘Break-Up Album’ but there are tracks which seem to have absolutely no melody whatsoever and the words are sung prose rather than lyrics. This can work, and it does more often than not, and the words themselves are at times powerful and heartbreaking, particularity in respect to the break up of the family unit:
Is there a place Where I can pay respects For the death of my family Show some respect Between the three of us There is the mother and the child Then there is the father and the child But no man and a woman No triangle of love
What is lacking, as far as my listening experience is concerned at least, is something to cling on to, a little hook, a snippet that I can hang my hat on and say to myself, I get this, I understand this, I like this. ‘Family’ is an example of this, musically it feels at times like a soundtrack from a 1960’s thriller, vocally it is Bjork singing (quite beautifuly) what she speaks, and the two don’t sit side by side as comfortably as they should.
Here is ‘Lionsong’ from the Vulnicura tour, it’s pretty damn good actualy:
More time is required for the Vulnicura tracks on my part again, I have little doubt of that, but I very much hope that my patience is not let down, though it never has been by her before.
The tracks that weren’t from Vulnicura are in bold below, with the album from which they are taken, These are really very good versions, perhaps because they are more familiar.
The packaging is nice, with another die cut front cover and a gate fold sleeve. I did think about waiting for the deluxe version of this, but decided against it, I don’t really need a mask (some would disagree!).
I’m not disappointed with my purchase of this album, far from it, it’s just taking me so long to like the whole album that it is a bit frustrating at times, which may say more about me than Bjork.
A1 Stonemilker 7:24
A2 Lionsong 6:35
A3 History Of Touches 3:19
B1 Black Lake 10:44
B2 Family 7:50
C1 Notget 5:09
C2 Come To Me (Debut) 5:16
C3 Undo(Vespertine) 6:10
C4 I See Who You Are (Volta) 3:52
D1 Quicksand 4:04
D2 Wanderlust (Volta) 6:18
D3 Mutual Core(Biophilia) 4:58
D4 Mouth Mantra 6:28