Re-Issues

There are a number of albums that I would really like, but they have long been out of print. I heard yesterday that two of these are about to be re-issued, which is wonderful news. Now I could still get the originals, but the prices are high and I’m quite happy with a re-issue to be honest, at least in the case of these two.

The first is one of four from Julian Cope, I have the other three. They are here if you wanted to take a look. The one I’m interested in is Jehovakill from 1992. The cheapest one available on Discogs is £70, and I’m never likely to pay that, so a re-issue including P & P at £30 seems much more my level.

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Jehovahkill is the eighth album by Julian Cope, released in 1992. Its original version was titled Julian H. Cope. The album cover depicts the Callanish Stones, a site with a cruciform layout that predates Christ by at least 2,000 years.

A good companion read is Cope’s book, The Modern Antiquarian, or the accompanying TV program, which is all about ancient sites and is fantastically interesting. Just in case I’ll include the TV program below, but if it’s not your sort of thing that’s fine. Anyway, Jehovahkill, Peggy Suicide and Autogeddon are the golden age of solo Cope in my opinion. Just the right side of weird and odd, before careering off the road into the land of I’m not interested in listening so much to this new stuff.  In fairness, I am prepared to give 20 Mothers another go, and Interpreter but anything after 1996? Doubt it. Ok, this though, brilliant album.

The original album was three sided but this one is four sided:

SIDE ONE

Soul Desert
No Hard Shoulder To Cry On
Akhenaten
The Mystery Trend

SIDE TWO

Up-Wards At 45º
Know (Cut My Friend Down)
Necropolis
Slow Rider

SIDE THREE

Gimme Back My Flag
Poet Is Priest….
Julian H. Cope
The Subtle Energies Commission

SIDE FOUR

Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fine
Fear Loves This Place
The Tower
Peggy Suicide Is Missing

The other album that is being re-issued is from The Future Sound Of London, and is one 81doqhfptkl-_sl1500_of only two albums of theirs that I really, really, really want (I have quite a lot already), the other being Dead Cities and this one being Lifeforms. It is re-released on January 26th on 180g vinyl. Lifeforms is considered to be a pioneering and influential classic electronic album – originally reaching No. 6 in the UK top 40 album chart. It is 24 years since this has been available on vinyl so it is about bloody time. I have the 12″ single, which is really a mini album and is brilliant with the contribution from Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins being sublime. There’s also the Cascade 12″, also wonderful.

I have never listened to the entire album, just what is on the 2 x 12″ I have, the reason being that I have been sort of saving it until I own it, which may seem a little silly, I could just stream it, but I don’t want to. I want to put it on the the turntable and listen to it.

I’m rather excited to receive it. I did actually find a copy of it at a record fair once, priced at £80 I think, again, I probably could have bought it but that is more than I want to spend on a single album. Getting it is easy now, it is available on pre-order from Amazon for £23.46.

Tracklisting

01 – Cascade (6:00)
02 – Ill Flower (3:25)
03 – Flak (4:53)
04 – Bird Wings (1:30)
05 – Dead Skin Cells (6:51)
06 – Lifeforms (5:18)
07 – Eggshell (6:46)
08 – Among Myselves (5:53)
09 – Domain (2:48)
10 – Spineless Jelly (4:42)
11 – Interstat (0:55)
12 – Vertical Pig (6:45)
13 – Cerebral (3:31)
14 – Life Form Ends (5:03)
15 – Vit (6:48)
16 – Omnipresence (6:39)
17 – Room 208 (6:13)
18 – Elaborate Burn (3:15)
19 – Little Brother (5:13)

Albums Of The Year – 2016

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.

1
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.”

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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.

2
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.

3
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).

4
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.

5
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.

6
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

7
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.

8
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.

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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.

11
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

13
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.

55
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.

1415
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.

16
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,

17
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.

20
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.

21
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.

23
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
It’s Radiohead, it’s brilliant, I love it.

25
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.

29
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.

30
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.

31
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.

33
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.
40
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:

Rank Points/Album / Artist
1 87 Blackstar by David Bowie
2 92 Lemonade by Beyoncé
3 87 Blonde by Frank Ocean
4 89 A Seat at the Table by Solange
5 88 A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
6 90 Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
7 95 Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
8 75 The Life of Pablo by Kanye West
9 89 We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest
10 87 My Woman by Angel Olsen
11 87 22, A Million by Bon Iver
85 Malibu by Anderson .Paak
13 83 Hopelessness by Anohni
86 Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
15 92 You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
16 87 Puberty 2 by Mitski
17 73 Anti by Rihanna
79 Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop
19 75 I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It by The 1975
20 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.

FSOL – Cambridge

Yesterday I was at the market in Cambridge where there were two stalls selling vinyl. I only managed a cursory glance at one but at the other I was there a little longer and r-97752-1179769362-jpegstumbled across a Future Sound Of London Double LP that I didn’t have. It was in the 12″ section and is called ‘Papua New Guinea Translations’. The album is essentially the same track repeated 8 times but evolving each time into something else. Track 1 is the closest to the original, which was a fairly big hit for FSOL when it was released, and each subsequent track moves further and further away from the original. Track 8 is very different indeed, even down to tempo.

Now I do love FSOL and this was a great surprise for me when I found it in the plastic crate and I bought it, of course, for the princely sum £4, which is an absolute bargain. I had a quick look on Discogs at what it sells for and it goes for between £14 and £35. Obviously this makes me happy.

Vocal samples on these tracks are taken from Dead Can Dance – The Host of Seraphim & Circuit – Shelter Me, the former of which I know but not the latter, so I’ll check that out at some point.

Though the video below contains trandom inages that are unrelated, you can listen to one of the tracks 9Track 2 on the album called “Translation 2: Papsico”, which is closest to the original, but still different enough.

Apart from the vinyl inside the sleeve, there was a piece of paper which asked for feedback on the tracks and ratings, so I guess this may be a promo copy, or pre-release or something like that. I’ll append it to the bottom of this post later for reference.

The Listening List

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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.

A video with talking and hands

I thought I’d do some videos about Vinyl Records, the first of which is below. I had a spare couple of hours so it gave me something to do at least.

 

Record Cleaning

Having bought a vinyl cleaning kit for under £10 I thought I’d give it a go on the Future Sound Of London 12″ that I bought at last weeks Record Fair. Here is the kit, which, for the price, is pretty good. The instructions aren’t though so I tried to figure it out myself.

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Below is a video where you can hear the difference before and after cleaning. It isn’t a good video as I made it without the benefit of a soundcard and having spent 2 hours figuring out how to get the video from my iphone to my PC, I was rather frustrated by then. It does, I think, show quite well the benefits of giving what was a pretty poor sounding vinyl a good clean.

Leamington Record Fair

I visited Leamington Spa’s Town Hall on Saturday to dig my way through heaps of vinyl at the record fair. There is plenty there if you are prepared to pay for it, but I’m generally not. I’m there to pick up bits and pieces as cheaply as possible. There are albums that I most certainly would like, but paying £25 or more for something that I may, not will, but may find cheaper elsewhere is not something I like to do. It will nag away at me and I will eventually find the same thing for half the price and then be annoyed at myself were I to have bought it, so the most I have ever payed for anything at a record fair is £8, and that was this Saturday. Here is what I bought (with the exception of Roots Manuva which was an RSD purchase), can you guess the £8 album?

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Isaac Hayes – Shaft is an original 1974 release, a double, and it plays very nicely, the cover is in good condition as well. I haven’t played either of the Art of Noise albums as yet but they look to be fine. The Cult – Electric is in very good condition and I have played it and it sounds really good. Soul II Soul I haven’t played yet, it appears to have the wrong inner sleeve though. Ooh Las Vegas by Deacon Blue looks like it has been well kept, it’s a double made up of B-Sides and suchlike. Black Sea by XTC is in good condition as is Slave to the Rhythm byu Grace Jones, which plays very well indeed. The only one that is not as good as I might hope is ‘My Kingdom’ by The Future Sound of London. It has a mark about the size of a thumbprint on side one and it really affects the playing quite badly. It is a 33 1/3, 12” single with an 11 minute track on side 1, which samples Ennio Moricone so it’s obviously good, Moricone makes everything better, but that mark really bothers me so I did a little research and ordered a record cleaning kit, to see if that can sort it out, it’s this one:

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It’s not expensive at £8.87 (an odd price) but hopefully it will go some way to reviving not just this 12” single, but several others I have that are showing their age. Here is the blurb on it:

“Vinyl Revival is the world’s safest and best vinyl record cleaning solution. Our alcohol free liquid has been designed by leading scientists to exact laboratory standards. Using lab grade ingredients and equipment, Vinyl Revival has been packaged in a dust free environment, ensuring the cleanest and safest solution for cleaning your vinyl record collection. Vinyl revival is the only 2 step product in the market – a necessity which none of the other ‘garage chemist’ suppliers of competing products are even aware of. Shockingly, other suppliers are openly admitting to using both distilled water AND alcohol in their products! Please avoid putting distilled water anywhere near your vinyl! Ask us, if you’d like to know why. There has been much debate over the years about which products are safe to use on vinyl records with many claiming that alcohol (or isopropyl alcohol) is perfectly safe to smear over your beloved vinyl record collection. We, and our research partners do not believe this to be the case. This is why Vinyl Revival is completely alcohol (or any alcohol substitute) FREE and is, ultimately, the only safe product to use on vinyl records. Also, many other products we’ve tried in the market will contain detergents or other soaping agents. These, again, should be avoided because they will leave behind microscopic deposits on your vinyl surface, which will affect sound quality, increase static and also, potentially, damage your stylus. Vinyl Revival is the product of choice for audio archiving specialists and DJs around the globe.”

I’ll post about the results after I’ve used it.

So which is the £8 album?