múm ‎– Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy

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I like múm a lot but their records aren’t readily available new and the used market it expensive. All I have is one album and a 12″ EP. Still, they are both good. Before we go any further, and just in case you have never heard them, here is a track from this album:

Ok, I accept this is not for everybody. The video has 3.8k likes and 1.1k dislikes on youtube, which is a pretty bad ratio for a music video, but it is all rather left field and, frankly, who cares, it isn’t as bad as this:

bieber

Completely irrelevant comparison, you’re welcome.

So, Múm are Icelandic, it’s pronounced Moom in case you wondered, and were formed in 1997 by Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, who were joined by twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir. According to Kristín, the band’s name was not intended to mean anything. Gyða left the band to return to her studies after the release of Finally We Are No One. In early 2006, Kristín also left the band, although it was not officially announced until 23 November of that year. With only Tynes and Smárason remaining in the group, a large group of new musicians were brought on board: guitarist/vocalist/violinist Ólöf Arnalds, trumpet/keyboard player Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson, vocalist/cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir, percussionist Samuli Kosminen, and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mr. Silla.  The new collective of musicians recorded their fourth album during 2006; This one, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy which released on 24 September 2007. Yes, always up to date me, just 11 years since its release.

There is only one official video related to this album but a couple of people made their own, which are below for your listening and viewing pleasure.

One of múm’s principal attractions for me is their approach to orchestration. No instrument seems to be off the table, from a parping accordion, a soft piano, a razor sharp violin harmonic. These can all appear in the same track but despite the potential pitfall of unlistenable cacophony, there always seems to be room in the soundscape they are creating for what they include. It is not often that one can suggest that music ‘Sparkles’, but with múm is seems an appropriate description, particularly on this album as they take acoustic instruments and electronic and merge them seamlessly together as wood growing into metal and becoming indistinct from each other.

 

Inside the gatefold cover there is a little pouch in which a 7″ single has been slipped containing the tracks ‘Guilty Rocks’ and ‘Winter (What We Never Were After All)’ which are two tracks that ar eon the CD version, so I assume they didn’t want to stretch everything out over a double album and went for this method instead, it works, the 7″ feels like a bonus. 

Tracklist

LP-A1 Blessed Brambles
LP-A2 A Little Bit Sometimes
LP-A3 They Made Frogs Smoke ‘Til They Exploded
LP-A4 Those Eyes Are Berries
LP-B1 Moon Pulls
LP-B2 Marmelade Fires
LP-B3 Rhuubarbidoo
LP-B4 Dancing Behind My Eyelids
LP-B5 School Song Misfortune
LP-B6 I Was Her Horse
7″-C Guilty Rocks
7″-D Winter (What We Never Were After All)

Rating: 8.8

Death and Vanilla – From Above 45

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I have almost certainly mentioned my love for Death and Vanilla  so I won’t go on about it again now. I just wanted to quickly mention a 7″ single that arrived the other day. I really like the graphic design of their covers and I’m also a sucker for coloured vinyl, so I had to have this really, there it is on my record player, on the left there.

I have a renewed interest in 7″ singles of late and they can be found quite cheaply if your prepared to dig through them at used record stores, usually at the £0.50 each sort of level or a bit more if they are considered popular or rare, but most people still don’t bother that much with them. Before I go any further, here is the A Side from this single, give it a spin:

Back to 7″ singles, I was digging through a rack of them a couple of weeks ago and picked up the following:

Beats International – Burundi Beats
Carmel – It’s all in the game
The Style Council – Speak Like A Child, Walls Come Tumbling Down, Shout to the Top
Soul II Soul – Get a Life
Black Uhuru – The Great Train Robbery~
Public Image – Rise
Bomb The Bass – Say a Little Prayer

Nine singles, £5, bargain really and they aren’t just to go on a shelf and be forgotten about, every couple of weeks I have a little 45’s session, it’s a break from whole albums, like your own mix tape in vinyl form.

So don’t ignore those rows of used 45’s in the record store, have a flick through, you will probably find something interesting.

Here is the B-Side of the Death and Vanilla single, Lux:

 

 

 

SJ Records – Stratford Upon Avon

I was in Stratford Upon Avon today and found myself with a spare couple of hours so I did a quick search on my phone and found SJ Records, which is upstairs in an antique centre opposite Shakespeare’s birthplace. The chap there, who is originally from California, was great. We chatted about records as I flicked through the crates and built a little pile of records that I wanted on a chair. At one point he went off to get a pepsi and offered me one as well, which was very friendly I must say. Here is a quick 30 second look around, although this video I took does make me a little giddy:

There’s very much something for most tastes there and a few things I had, like a really nice copy of Mr.Beast by Mogwai, which I would have bought if I didn’t already have it. There’s some quite pricey records but the vast majority are between £4 and £8. Roughly in line with what one might expect to pay on Ebay but, of course, without the postage cost and the very good company whilst browsing.

So what did I buy? Quite a few 12″ singles, some were a little bit impulse, which is not necessarily a bad thing as I rarely regret impulse buys of vinyl. There were a load of 12″ by The Cult, who I have a soft spot for ever since I first heard ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ so I picked those up, even though I have the albums they are taken from. How could I resist this though?

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In fact, here it is on video (I sound old fashioned saying that I know but what else am I supposed to say?), TURN UP THE VOLUME!

Ok, so I just had to listen to that three times before carrying on, it’s one of my faviourites of theirs. Then there was Lil’ Devil, classic rock lyrics!:

Livin’ in a shack in a one-horse town
Trying to get to heaven ‘fore the sun goin’ down
Lizard in a bottle, yeah

Dizzy in a haze for 40 days
Hey there, little devil

Come on little devil
Be my little angel
Come on little devil
Be my, yeah, angel, ow

Oh, she came on with an alligator smile
Dynamite lover, scorpion child
Trying to get to heaven ‘fore the sun goes down, yeah

She came on with a cyclone kiss
Hey there baby, you don’t never miss
Lizard in a bottle, oh yeah

The third 12″ single I picked up was from the same album, ‘Electric’ (which is a great album, get yourself a copy), ‘Wildflower’:

The fourth, ‘Rain’, was a mistake. It’s from their second album, ‘Love’ and I like it a lot, but I already have the 12″, so now I have 2, it was £3 so not the end of the world, but I actually picked the wrong one up and left the one I wanted there. Oh well, it might still be there next time I go back and it’s an excuse to put it down below:

These guys are still going, still writing and releasing new music and I’m going to be picking up their latest album at some point. I’ve seen it on the racks but there’s always been something that I wanted that little bit more.

I bought another 4 12″ singles and a couple of albums and as I was about to pay I was given an £8 Tangerine Dream album (Phaedra) that I’d been looking at as a thanks for buying the other records, which was just wonderful, it made my day. So if you ever happen to be in Stratford Upon Avon then pop in, you never know, you might just have a pleasant time and find a record you’ve been looking for.

Matmos – Ultimate Care II

There are two things that made me buy this record, the first were the words ‘ Limited Edition’ and ‘Coloured Vinyl’, the second was that I’d heard quite a few Matmos tracks in the past that I liked, maybe that’s three things, anyway, it’s quite clear that I am easily seduced by the first two and this was no exception. It wasn’t until after I’d left the record store that I released what the picture on the record sleeve was, I had thought it was a sort of abstract mushroom:

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Even though it’s quite clear that it is a washing machine with chunks taken out of it. I just can’t have been paying attention. The album, ‘Ultimate Care II’ is named after that very washing machine and is made up entirely of samples of the sounds the washing machine makes.

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This is a problem. I bloody hate the sounds a washing machine makes, well, mine at least, when it starts its spin cycle it is so loud that it drowns out all other noise and it’s damn annoying. So I really didn’t have high hopes for this album when I realised exactly what it was I’d bought.

I’ve given the album about three full listens through and there is no doubt that it is technically adept, well constructed and is, despite it being a washing machine, highly musical but as one might expect, it has a lot of percussive elements.

The liner notes on the inner sleeve explain exactly what it is you are listening to:

WARNING
All sounds on this recording were originally
generated by a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II
washing machine in the basement of our
home in Baltimore.
These sounds were then manipulated with
samplers, software and outboard processing
gear.
No synthesizers or drum machines were used.

It is 9 tracks, or excerpts as they are listed, although I believe the CD version is one long track designed to echo the washing machine cycle. The vinyl has a ‘Wash’ side and a ‘Rinse’ side. Have a listen to a track below to judge for yourself.

There are knobs being turned, lids being slammed shut, water gurgling, all manner of bangs and electronically beepy sounds that must have been treated, and it does alternate between highly listenable and not.

As an artifact it is something that I rather like owning and I can appreciate the skill it must have taken to create these tracks from a single sound source, but I can’t see myself playing it too often. I’ve said that about other albums before of course and ended up liking them a lot more that I thought I would, so who knows, maybe it’s a grower.

 

That Special Record – September

Another month goes by and another surprise arrives in the post. This month the album I received from ‘That Special Record‘ was ‘Verdaillon’ by ‘Saåad’. Why not press play below now before you read any further so you can hear exactly what I’m talking about.

 

Listening? Good, then I’ll begin.

This current incarnation of Saåad consists of Romain Barbot and Gregory Buffier, who were once part of the Toulousian post-hardcore scene and have produced about a dozen albums so far. I did not know any of this before the album arrived this morning, frankly, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as post-hardcore scene anywhere, which is one of the great pleasures of allowing somebody else to choose an album for you. As I am quite a few months in now I feel that I can trust Miguel at ‘That Special Record‘ not to send me anything bad as there isn’t a single release I’ve received that I haven’t liked, to varying degrees admittedly, but I’ve never not played an album multiple times and enjoyed the listen.

I find the back story of this album really rather interesting, and I’ll quote it from the official release: ‘ Upon invitation of the local Les Orgues festival, giving them access to the Puget organ located in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade, they composed an original creation that In Paradisum is proud to publish under the form of the album Verdaillon.’
My only frame of reference  for the music is the above paragraph and the sleeve of the album:
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The front cover (above) depicts building works on a Monastery in Boulogne taken in 1954 by Henri Barbot and the back cover (below) depicts the 1926 collapse of a steeple on Eglise Notre Dame de la Dalbade taken on April 11th 1926.

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As a result, 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.

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Puget pipe organ in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade
If you did press play a few hundred words back then hopefully you will, by now, hear exactly what I’m getting at. This is music that would sit comfortably as the score to a Gothic film thanks to it’s mood but although categorised as Dark Ambient, Drone and others, it doesn’t seem typical of those genres to me. It has a fullness about it, textures, layers and, with the field recordings, seems to be set very much in a place, in a way of life, that is fading still.
It isn’t for everybody but, to my surprise perhaps, it is for me. It’s been on repeat all day and each cycle presents something new for me to savour.I am not religious, and this is not religious music, but it is both spiritual and secular, simultaneously of yesteryear and of tomorrow.
Tracks:
1. Egregore – 2:26
2. Marsyas (Ad Lib) – 1:32
3. The Harvest – 7:07
4. Incarnat I (Subèrn) – 3:31
5. Opaque Mirror – 5:24
6. Incarnat II (1888) – 2:05
7. Eternal Grow – 6:01
8. Incarnat III (The Invisible Steeple) – 4:46
9 .Vorde – 7:50
Credits:music by Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier .
Romain Barbot : grand orgue, aulos, vocals, grand orgue samples, field recordings.
Grégory Buffler : grand orgue, aulos, guitar, acoustic laptop, field recordings.
additional aulos on The Harvest by Patrick Faubert.
Grand orgue recorded by Patrick Faubert on 18th & 19th June, 2014 (Toulouse, France), additional recordings by Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier (2014-2015).
mixed by Aurélien Prévost at BillyPan studio (2015)
mastered by James Plotkin (2016)

Angelo Badalamenti – Soundtrack from Twin Peaks

Did you love Twin Peaks? I did, it was so odd and somehow compelling, with the show creatingtp1 a feeling that everybody there had something to hide, whether it related to the death of Laura Palmer or not. The strange, slightly uncomfortable viewing was enhanced greatly by the music of Angelo Badalamenti, who seemed to have created a perfect musical accompaniment.

I pre-ordered a re-issue, re-master of the soundtrack a while ago and it arrived last week, it’s a lovely thing. It has a die cut outer sleeve and an inner gatefold housing a coloured vinyl, what colour? Damn fine coffee coloured apparently. tp2

I went to the location where the series was filmed in Washington state back in 1999 (With friends Dirk and Allison pointing things out) and it was quite weird to be there. What you see on the TV screen is, of course, not what is there in reality, however, seeing the actual place made the whole show seem somehow more real and, in many ways, rather more frightening as the protection of the TV screen was removed. I watched it again after visiting and, even though I knew what happened, it still put me rather on edge a lot of the time.

Who could forget this:

Genius! Also crazy, but genius all the same.

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all week and I do now plan to watch the entire series again, for a third time, because, well, why not?

You can, should you wish, remind yourself of just how good this soundtrack is by playing the video below.

Cheikh Lô – Balbalou

On Saturday I popped into the local record store and was having a dig around the discounted section where i found a brand new album for £4.00. When there are 7″ singles priced at £11.00 this comes as quite a surprise. I knew nothing about the artist at all but it was classified as ‘World’ music and looked worth a listen, so I decided to buy it.

The artist is Cheikh Lô, and I found the following biography at this site:

http://leopardmannen.no/cheikh-lo/ born to Senegalese parents in the town of Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, West Africa. His father ran a jewelry business and the home was always packed with people. Cheikh Lo himself says that this is perhaps the reason why he is so open as a person, something that is reflected in his music.The young Lo developed an interest in music at an early age, playing drums and singing. His father was accepting of this, but his mother disliked it. The other sons in the family had all studied, and his mother was not happy at the thought of Cheikh Lo becoming a musician and playing in all sorts of sleazy clubs. Yet he continued to practice (obviously) and became a member of the Orchestre Volta Jazz, that played Cuban and Congolese hits plus pop versions of traditional songs from Burkina Faso. In 1978 Lo moved to Senegal and performed with several mbalax bands. In 1985 he bought his first guitar and began composing his own songs.

At that time he was working with musicians from the Ivory Coast and France, and they went to Paris to record a disk in 1987. Eventually the band split up but Lo sayed on for two years and worked as a studio musician. He came in contact with, among others, Papa Wemba. In 1990 he recorded his first cassette in Dakar. The music caught on and this marked the beginning of his career.

A year later he made another cassette but didn’t release it because he was displeased with the sound quality. But Cheikh Lo’s music began to take shape: a gentle form of mbalax that uses impulses from reggae and soukous. The opportunity to record an album came in 1995 when Youssou N’Dour expressed a willingness to produce what was the debut album, “Ne La Thiass”. Cheikh Lo’s first performance in Europe was as the warm-up band for Youssou N’Dour.

Cheikh Lo is a Muslim and member of the Baye Fall brotherhood, a part of the larger brotherhood Mouride. The founder of Mouride, Cheikh Amadou Bamba, had as his maxim: “Pray to God as if you should die tomorrow, work as if you would never die.” The Mourides are now responsible for up to 80% of business life of Senegal. Members of the Baye Fall brotherhood sport rasta hair, and Cheikh Lo is often perceived as a Rastafarian, something he is not. The Muslim Baye Fall tradition predates Rasta tradition in Jamaica.

So know you know as least as much as I do.

I am not really a collector of World music and am somewhat confused by the term to be honest. In Senegal is Lady Gaga classed as ‘World’ music for them? It’s such a wide ranging classification and seems, to me, to have too much lumped into it. Indigenous Folk music doesn’t really work either as much of what was once just called folk music has a whole host of influences that move it away from traditional folk music of any specific region or location. Perhaps it’s too complicated, but if it is to be categorized I think I’d like it to be where it originates and then what it is, using the normal categorizations that we use for western music. For example:

Sengalese/Traditional Folk
S.African/Folk Blues

Or some idea along those lines. Lumping everything as ‘World’ seems somehow dismissive. Below is the categorisation for Tiniwaren that pops up on the right of a google search:

Origin: Tessalit, Mali (1979)
Genres: Tichumaren, World music, Blues, Folk music, Rock music

There is no categorisation for  Cheikh Lô.

Back to the album, actually, I’ve said little about the album so I really should start. I think it is mostly sung in French or at least some of it is. I understand almost none of the lyrics, which is fine, the voice is an instrument and words are not always necessary (growing up listening to the Cocteau Twins is a good primer for not worrying about lyrics).

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The Guardian: The album was recorded in Sweden and Paris, it’s packed with sleek mbalax grooves, mixing funk horns and talking drums, and fronted by Lô’s sweet, dancing vocals, at times falsetto, at others husky. There’s a lovely cross-Atlantic fusion on Degg Gui, with Brazilian chanteuse Flavia Coelho, a duet with Mali’s Oumou Sangaré, and a sultry title track threaded with the Miles-like trumpet of Ibrahim Maalouf. A follower of Baye Fall, a mystic Islamic sect, Lô is a peace warrior on a mission, the light to Boko Haram’s darkness, as Baissons les Armes suggests.

Tracklist

Bamba 3:48
Degg Gui (Album Version) 4:03
Doyal Naniou 5:55
Gemou Ma Ko 5:13
Suzanah 2:51
Balbalou 4:40
Lutax 4:25
Baissons Les Armes 4:03
Leer Gui Fall 6:10
Kouma Magni 2:11

I’ve listened to the album about 10 times now and love it, it is quite possibly the best £4.00 I’ve ever spent on vinyl. Press play on the video above and have a listen to the track, it’s worth it.

Ennio Morricone – Escalation

I spent yesterday in London touring Universities but managed to slip away long enough to nip to Berwick street and have a root through the basement of Sister Ray. I could, had I had the money, spent £1000 and still left there feeling there were just a couple more albums I could have picked up, but I don’t have that sort of money so I had to be picky. My first choice, from what was quite a large Morricone section, was the soundtrack to the 1968 film Escalation. It’s a re-release from Dagored and this one is one of the yellow clear vinyl versions limited to 500 copies. As you can see in the picture below:

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Dagored have this to say:

In 1968 the Maestro Morricone was at the height of his career scoring Sergio Leone’s classic “Once Upon a Time in the West”. For the soundtrack of Roberto Faenza’s cult debut movie ESCALATION, set in swinging London, 1968, Morricone teams up with fellow composer Bruno Nicolai and the vocalizations of Alessandro Alessandroni’s “Cantori Moderni”, making this one of his least minimal soundtracks.

Containing the legendary tune DIES IRAE PSICHEDELICO , this is one of the most essential Morricone soundtracks of all- time.

It’s certainly a beautiful object and though I haven’t seen the film, but will, I expect it to be really rather odd based on the soundtrack, which is equally beautiful and bonkers.

Here, courtesy of youtube, are a few of the tracks from it:

Album Tracklist:

Escalation
Dies Irae Psichedelico
Collage N. 1
Luca’s Sound
Senza Respiro
Luca
Casa Londra
Matrimonio
Collage N. 2
Carillon Erotico
Primo Rito
Secondo Rito
Funerale Nero

The soundtrack has all of the classic Moriccone traits, from harpsichord to wordless vocals (and some with words, shouty mad words, in Italian, probabaly), and they  work brilliantly.  With films this old it’s often possible to stream them for free online but I haven’t found anything yet, not even a clip, so I may have to try and find a dvd of it from somewhere.

I also nipped across the road to Reckless Records, which is, for the most part, used vinyl, but after a brief flick through the racks I didn’t see anything that I really fancied. There may have been a few things but it was organised in such a way that I couldn’t easily go to the sections I wanted.

Next time i’m in the area I’ll have to give it a little more time.

That Special Record – Unearth Noise LP & Maizena Boys 12″

It was great to receive another 12″ with my ‘That Special Record’ subscription, because it was a great 12″from Danish label ‘No Hands’. I guess it is a sampler of sorts as it has 4 different artists on it but they sit side by side really well and the listening experience is very consistent. By this I mean that the the chosen tracks flow from one to the other without noticeably effecting the listener, breaking one out of a mood so to speak, it flows.

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While I would like to present a rather more glamorous view of myself, I listened to this 12″ nice and loud while washing the dishes, which gives me an idea for a suite of music similar to ‘Music for Airports’ by Brian Eno. ‘Music for Washing Dishes’ doesn’t sound quite as intriguing though.

I can’t recommend the Maizena Boys 12″ highly enough. It’s a corker

Tracklist

A1 DJ Sports Emotional Endeavour 6:02
A2 Manmade DeeJay & Palta Improvise In Order 8:55
Fake Picasso Side
B1 C.K Log On 5:22
B2 Patla Fingerdansen 8:19

This months album is ‘Prayer and Resonance’ by ‘Unearth Noise’ which is an odd one. It’s a double LP with a wonderful cover, which makes me feel slightly odd if I stare at it for too long. Here it is:

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I haven’t had a lot of time to give this album a proper listen but I can tell you that on first listen I frowned a lot, either from concentrating or wondering what I was actually listening to. Then I took closer note of the album title and track names and things began to make a little more sense. ‘A place where prayers are heard’, for example is, musically, a perfect embodiment of the title. To provide some reference point, if you have watched the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ (which is a great series) and know the part where they are walking through the woods in the upside down world, then this track would slot in there quite nicely. It is both creepy and joyous, depending on how you choose to think about it. Have a listen and make your own mind up (but I am coming around to the idea that I like this track a lot):

Juno Records website had this to say:

In March, Izabel Caligiore decided to launch a label named after her superb Lullabies For Insomniacs show on Redlight Radio, with its debut release coming from the excellent Sugai Ken. Lullabies For Insomniacs now returns, proffering a debut LP from the impeccably obscure Unearth Noise. Full of clandestine mood pieces, droning textures, unsettling pitched-down IDM rhythms, mutant wind chimes and deep space explorations, Prayer & Resonance does a fine job balancing dark and maudlin material, with tracks that feel more gently positive. At 17 tracks deep, it takes a little time to fully take root in your consciousness, but the musical rewards are more than worth the effort.

They say it better than me. I feel like this is a grower, and it’s not all weirdness, ‘Sacred Souls’ for example, is a much more instantly accessible track, well, to my ears it is at least.

There’s still something unsettling about it though.

Tracklist

A1 Soul Surgery
A2 Ayahuasca
A3 Divining Rod
A4 Decoding the past
A5 A Place Where Prayers are Heard
B1 Message from the Dead
B2 Redemption
B3 Sacred Soul
B4 The Sound Is God

Violin – Gautam Karnik

C1 Eulogy
C2 The Mist

Violin – Gautam Karnik

C3 Sceptres
D1 I Have a Dream
D2 I Surrender
D3 Like Meeting God

Words By – Tanisha Jackson

D4 Another Dimension

Credits

  • Artwork By – Mario Martinez
  • Composed By – Roger Berkowitz
  • Design – Steele Bonus
  • Mastered By – Wouter Branderburg

There a soundcloud preview and a nice write up here:

Soundcloud

Overall I think I’m going to enjoy getting to know this album, it has some nice textures and odd dissonance which are a couple of the things that really appeal to me in music, even if that music has the ability to make me a little uncomfortable.

Another thumbs up to ‘That Special Record‘ from me.

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Eluvium – False Readings On

False Readings On is the new album from renowned experimental composer, Eluvium. Its creation was originally inspired by themes of cognitive dissonance in modern society. By its conclusion it had become a mirror rather than a magnifying glass, evolving into an hour-long meditation on self-doubt, anxiety, and separation from one’s self. There is an emotional lucidity and melodic ingenuity to Eluvium‘s music that has made him increasingly stand out from the sea of ambient artists that his earlier albums no doubt helped inspire. Sounding like an orchestra ceaselessly performing even as it sinks beneath an ocean of distortions and tape noise – with the occasional operatic voice piercing the surface – False Readings On is assuredly the most daring, dynamic, and distinct album of his luminous career.

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TRACK LISTING

1. Strangeworks
2. Fugue State
3. Drowning Tone
4. Regenerative Being
5. Washer Logistics
6. Movie Night Revisited
7. Beyond The Moon For Someone In Reverse
8. False Readings On
9. Rorschach Pavan
10. Individuation
11. Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse

is it ‘assuredly the most daring, dynamic, and distinct album of his luminous career.’? Well, yes, it probably is because it’s brilliant.

I was in town yesterday and it was the first thing I saw when I walked in, well, the first vinyl album anyway, I had to stroll nonchalantly and with a slight superiority complex past the CD’s first. I’m not proud of it, it just sort of happens. So there it was, I picked it up, I bought it. Not a particularly exciting story but that’s what happened. There are 500 grey vinyl copies but I don’t have one of those, it would have been nice, but I’m happy with what I have.

In order to convey not only how this music sounds, but how it feels, it is necessary to use words such as, Majestic, Sweeping & Vistas, perhaps all together, majestic sweeping vistas, yes, that works. I was happily listening, being carried away on undulating ocean waves, when, during ‘Regenerative Being’ a voice broke through, and it moved me close to tears such was the beauty of it. Even after it is gone it seems to echo there still. It’s a rare moment in music when something resonates with the listener quite as much as this did with me. We have that voice, contemplative piano, stirring strings and it becomes an ocean upon which we are adrift. These components are not unique, but the manner in which they are structured and combined makes them so.

And here it is, do have a listen if you have the time, it’s a wonderful piece of music:

There is still more to come, as the album builds to the final track, the 17-minute epic “Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse.” It builds and builds, barely noticeable at first but moving forward as though drifting towards a massive waterfall.

For those who like ambient or instrumental music, ‘False Readings On’ really is a triumph.

Tom Waits – The Heart Of Saturday Night

I was just browsing in the record store while I had some time to kill, I browsed for just under an hour and picked up lots of things before putting them back having changed my mind, then I saw ‘The Heart Of Saturday Night’ by Tom Waits and it was the one. I had played the CD to death and a vinyl copy was a must really.

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This is the Rhino Re-Issue of the 1974 album, his second release, which they appear to have done a good job of. I played it as soon as I got home, it’s a brilliant album which I make no excuses or justifications for. I’ve read previously that it’s a late night album, the sort of thing you’d play at a poker night when he lights are low and the cigars are out. Not true. Play it whenever the hell you feel like it because the songwriting is damn near perfect.  Yes, the title itself suggests that it’s a night time album and the laid back feel of it makes me almost smell that cigar smoke, but it’s 2 pm on a Wednesday and I’m listening to it now , so don’t save it for the night. I do rather fancy a bourbon right now though.

Tracklist

A1 New Coat Of Paint
A2 San Diego Serenade
A3 Semi Suite
A4 Shiver Me Timbers
A5 Diamonds On My Windshield
A6 (Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night
B1 Fumblin’ With The Blues
B2 Please Call Me, Baby
B3 Depot, Depot
B4 Drunk On The Moon
B5 The Ghosts Of Saturday Night (After Hours At Napoleone’s Pizza House)

When I listen to this album it evokes a very real sense to me of what Charles Bukowski would have sounded like if he had been a singer/songwriter rather than a writer/poet/hell raiser. Perhaps also some Jack Kerouac in there as well, particularly around ‘Diamonds on My Windshield’:

Well these diamonds on my windshield
And these tears from heaven
Well I’m pulling into town on the Interstate
I got a steel train in the rain
And the wind bites my cheek through the wing
And it’s these late nights and this freeway flying
It always makes me sing

 

If you don’t have it I’d recommend getting it, vinyl, CD, Digital, it doesn’t matter, give it a listen.

Departure Lounge – Jetlag Dreams

For Record Store Day 2016, the record label Bella Union released a clear vinyl version of the album ‘Jetlg Dreams’ by Departure lounge. The group have been together since early 1998 when singer – guitarist Tim Keegan, then a recovering singer – songwriter, asked his friends Jake Kyle (bass, double bass, trumpet), Chris Anderson (guitar, various keyboards, saxophone, oboe) and Lindsay Jamieson (drums, keyboards, flute) to join him on some new recordings.

It was originally released in 2001 I think and I wasn’t really looking for it but stumbled across it in the leftover RSD box  at Seismic records. The only reason I wasn’t looking of it was because I didn’t know it existed.

Sometime around the turn of this century, Simon Raymonde conceived and curated the Series Seven experiment on Bella Union.

He commissioned seven artists to each create an album comprising seven instrumental pieces, to be written and recorded, from conception to completion, in seven days.

Departure Lounge rose to the challenge and ‘Jetlag Dreams’ came very naturally into being under these terms, against the backdrop of emotional and geographical upheavals in the lives of its creators.

The process unfolded as if in a slow-motion dream over the last working days of a studio called Hum Depot, an old converted wooden house in Nashville, on the site of a Civil War burial ground, filled with dusty old pianos and reputedly haunted by the ghost of a Confederate soldier.

So there isn’t much information bout this Series 7, but I’ve found a couple of others that appear to be part of the series:

Pelican by Bonnevill
In The Pulse Of An Artery by Rothko
Gwei Lo
Variaciones Espectrales by Jack Dangers

and that’s 5, maybe, of the 7. Information is sketchy, though I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

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Side 1

1. “Equestrian Skydiving” (5:33)
2. “Runway Doubts” (5:50)
3. “Too Late To Die Young” (5:45)
4. “A Strange Descent” (6:18)

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Side 2

1. “Purple Fluffy Haze” (3:10)
2. “Beyond The Beltway” (4:36)
3. “Charles De Gaulle To Belleville” (8:49)

Rapture – Record Store- Witney, Oxfordshire.

There are 2 record stores within around 20 minutes drive of where I work. This is the first of them that I’ve visited, in Witney, Oxfordshire. It’s in a sort of shopping arcade and the vinyl is all upstairs, which is a bigger square footage than the downstairs. I spent about 30 minutes there but still managed to dig through a lot of albums.

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I am all for stores selling vinyl, which should be obvious by now, but was disappointed. I found 5 albums in all this lot that I thought about buying. One was a re-issue of Phallus Dei by Amon Düül for £8.00, but the cover was absolutely knackered. The other 4 were jazz albums, in a section marked ‘Un-priced Jazz – Ask at the counter for details’. I almost did, but based on the prices of some of the priced Jazz albums in another section I decided against it as I really didn’t think they were going to be at a price I was prepared to pay, which wasn’t much at all. Perhaps I should have inquired, but I didn’t want them enough to bother.

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The feeling I had as I rooted through the albums was that most of the stock was made up of the parts of peoples collections that they were quite prepared to sell as they weren’t very good, or that a load of job lots had been bought up and there was nothing in them of much interest. I don’t want to sound overly negative, because conceptually it’s a nice shop, with a coffee bar, a seating area and a stage for in store performances, which is in the picture above, but for me, they don’t have the stock as yet. There was some to be fair, but the prices were too high for my blood, I can’t spend £40 on an Aphex Twin 12″ single, even if I want it, nor can I spend £18 on a Radiohead 12″ single when I know it’s available on line at £10. At the weekend I was talking to the owner of Seismic Records in Leamington Spa, one of my two local stores, about my willingness to pay a couple of £’s more than an online price as, when you take in to account P & P, it works out about the same, you are supporting a local business, and digging through piles of albums is fun! But £8 more is just too big a gap.

There was a small new vinyl section, but most of it was just a couple of £’s more than I would normally have to pay at my local store near home, so I left it, I would have been buying something just for the sake of buying something.

I did have a quick look through the 7″ singles, and there I found a lot that I would definitely have bought if the prices were lower. £8 for a single that is selling for £2.99 on Discogs, even with P & P is, again, too much of a gap.

I left with nothing, but I do wish them the very best of luck with it and, to be fair, if I’d had a bit more time maybe I would have found something I was prepared to pay an bit more for.

Replacing a CD with Vinyl

It was quite normal a few years ago to replace vinyl with CD’s and to sell off the vinyl, after all, who needed them anymore when you had a swanky indestructible CD instead. I did a lot of that, but last friday I was in Bristol at Rise, a record store I had never visited before (and found through the vinyl district app), when I saw a vinyl repress of a CD I bought in Newbury Comics, Boston, the American one. The album was by ‘Comets On Fire’ and called ‘Blue Cathedral’ which just happens to have beeb re-issued by Sub-Pop as a ‘Losers’ version on blue vinyl. Yes please, and thank you.

It may well be called ‘Rise’ because it’s above a cafe, as you can see here:

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They had a really good vinyl section, probably as large, if not larger than the CD section and I found a lot of things I could have bought, but didn’t, I was being sensible.

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Every album had a sticker on it with a little description, some pertinent information, that sort of thing, which was a nice touch. The albums section turns right at the bottom and spreads across another wall and there are some smaller areas all with vinyl. There are also crates underneath and a small used section to dig through, I spent about an hour in there before leaving with my spoils.

Back to ‘Comets on Fire’ though. I had been looking to replace the CD for a while and had seen copies on the internet, but there’s something a little more special about buying an album from a record shop than from the internet, even if it is a couple of pounds more. If there’s postage to be paid that’s covered anyway. So here is my copy of the brilliant ‘Blue Cathedral’ on my turntable.

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I remember when I first played the CD that I wasn’t really into it and it went on the shelf for several months before it was played again, and, as sometimes happens, I loved it. Andy, who was in Newbury Comics with me when I bought the CD, thought it a good album, he turned out to be right.

The pitchfork review opens with:

Sub Pop debut from these chaotic Santa Cruz psych-feeders beefs up their production values to touch down as their hardest-hitting record to date. Drawing influence from Zeppelin, Hendrix, and Hawkwind, Blue Cathedral scales back the wanton experimentation of their previous albums to fire off post-Vietnam rounds of knotted feedback, monolithic riffs and outer-space jams. And perhaps its most impressive feat? At 53 minutes, it almost feels short.

And gives it an 8.5. I can’t really disagree, although I may have pushed the mark up to nearer 9. I’m a generous marker usually though.

Here’s some music from it:

Track List 
“The Bee and the Cracking Egg” – 7:45
“Pussy Foot the Duke” – 5:07
“Whiskey River” – 7:54
“Organs” – 1:45
“The Antlers of the Midnight Sun” – 4:06
“Brotherhood of the Harvest” – 4:39
“Wild Whiskey” – 3:00
“Blue Tomb” – 10:06

After ‘Rise’ I met up with the family (who tend to abandon me as soon as I come within close proximity of a record shop) at Wahaca for a bit to eat, it’s a few doors down from Rise. I don’t normally write about food but the meal was great, really fresh and vibrant, the waitress was knowledgeable and helpful and it was very reasonably priced, I’d recommend it if ever you are in the vicinity. I didn’t realise at first that it was a Thomasina Miers restaurant, who I remember rooting for to win Masterchef back in the day.

Post Scriptum – 01

Sometimes I like to take a chance on an album. To know absolutely nothing about it, to not know what it sounds like, what genre even, but to judge the book entirely by its cover, or the record in this case. My local store had a box of sale items at 25% off, which is an immediate draw for me, and in the box the album that stood out for me was £15.99, which would work out at £11.99 after the discount, and it looked like this:

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As a design I quite liked it and the title at the top left reminded my of stationary for some reason, and I love stationary. What really made me buy it were the track titles on the back:

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Just in case that’s a bit small, they are:

Tracklist

A1 Decades To Millenia
A2 Even The Nearest
B1 Interstellar Medium
B2 Gliese 581
C1 Decelerate At The Destination
C2 Proton To Proton Fusion
D1 The Extreme Distance
D2 Constant Acceleration Drive

A new double LP, for £11.99 with those track titles? Of course it had to be mine.

Label:  Infrastructure New York ‎– INF-CD001
Format: Double Vinyl Gatefold Sleeve
Released: 25 Jun 2015
Genre: Electronic
Style: Industrial, Techno

Post Scriptum 01 is the debut full-length album from anonymous producer Post Scriptum. That’s about as much as I know.

Gliese 581 is a star of spectral type M3V about 20 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra. Its estimated mass is about a third of that of the Sun, and it is the 89th closest known star to the Sun.

The proton–proton chain reaction (Proton to Proton Fusion) is one of the two (known) sets of fusion reactions by which stars convert hydrogen to helium.

Constant acceleration (Constant Acceleration Drive) is a proposed aspect of most future forms of space travel. It entails that the propulsion system of whatever kind operates continuously with a steady acceleration, rather than the brief impulsive thrusts used by chemical rockets — for the first half of the journey it constantly pushes the spacecraft towards its destination, and for the last half of the journey it constantly uses back thrust, so that the spaceship arrives at the destination at a standstill. which also fits in with Decelerate At The Destination.

But is it any good. Well yes it is, I really like it rather a lot having listened to it 15 or 20 times.There are no official videos to accompany any of the tracks for the album but here is one where you can have a listen to get an idea of what sort of music it is:

As a completely blind purchase this couldn’t have worked out better for me (and it doesn’t always, I have bought some crap in the past) so I’m delighted.

Playing Pokemon Go with vinyl

I’ve never added anything to the Discogs Database before, it’s pretty easy to do really, as I found out when I added the Carl Matthews album I talked about recently. This is the Discogs entry here:

https://www.discogs.com/Carl-Matthews-Mirage-Tape-Years/release/8837919

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It looks a lot like the image above, more than a lot, exactly, because that’s it.

It irked me that I wasn’t able to add it to my Discogs collection, which I have recently come to realise is my own version of Pokemon Go, except it’s for vinyl records, sort of, when I do catch them I have to add them to my VinylDex (rather than Pokedex) and records stores are PokeStops, Record Fairs are PokeGyms where I do battle with the vendors.

There’s even an app for it, ‘The Vinyl District‘, as you move around different record shops pop up for you to nip into and catch a record.

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(not my picture, from here: http://pictigar.com/hashtag/Vinyladdict)

That Special Record – July

This month the album I received from ‘That Special Record‘ subscription service was ‘Mirage Tape Recordings 1979-83’ by Carl Matthews. Now what can I tell you about Carl Matthews that you don’t already know? Well, he was an American character actor and stuntman of the 1930s through 1950s. Born on February 19, 1903 in Oklahoma, his first film role would be in Rough Riding Ranger in 1935. Over the next 33 years, Mathews would appear in over 200 films, shorts, and television shows, either as a performer or a stuntman.

I feel Wikipedia has let me down there. The thing is, I know very little about Carl Matthews, finding just limited information on Discogs I went on a bit of a hunt and found a soundcloud page (it wasn’t really a hunt, there was a link on Discogs but I’m trying to add some drama), where he describes himself as ‘An old guy who likes making sounds for Library/Production companies.’

Then I found this ‘Carl Matthews, a synthesist who started out in the late ’70’s producing
Cosmic (Space) Music in the style of the early composers of the German electronic scene.
Cassette tapes were produced and distributed by Mirage, Electronical Dreams
and the ICR label.’ Here, probably, is a picture of the mystery man himself:

A-317237-1277157189.jpegI cannot vouch for the authenticity of this picture.

So, essentially, the album I received is by somebody I’ve never heard of and can find only sketchy information about. That, I’m sure you’d agree, did not bode well for the LP I was about to put on my turntable. Here, as evidence, is said album on said turntable:

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I played the album this evening when I arrived home, 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).

I have to make some assumptions but it would appear from the track information, pictured below, that these are reproduced from tapes recorded in the early 80’s and that they are very much influenced by kosmische musik (you can call it Krautrock if you really want to).

IMG_2578I just read the card that came with the album, I should probably done that first. The tracks were recorded on a Reel-To-Reel recorder using a Korg Polyphonic Ensemble, Korg M20 Synthesiser and a Korg SQ10 sequencer. I’m sure there are people out there who know this musician, but it is entirely new to me and, almost certainly, would be undiscovered had I not been sent it by Miguel at That Special Record, which is exactly why I have a subscription in the first place, this one is just perfect for me.

I’d like to put some here for you to listen to but I can’t find anything, so go buy a copy, although it appears to be a limited numbered edition of 444 copies.

Wait, there’s more, a Freund Der Familie 12″ single, ‘FDF Alpha Remixes #3’ that has been IMG_2579included as a surprise, and it certainly was. It’s a red marbled limited edition of 150 and, quite frankly, coloured vinyl is the way to my heart. It looks almost black on the turntable, but if you hold it up to the light it is quite a lovely oh, nice bit of artwork that you can see there that was tucked inside the sleeve as well.

Again, I’d never listened to anything by them but it’s a doubly nice surprise as I really like it, and really appreciate it’s inclusion. Below is a track from soundcloud so you can have a listen to one of their tracks should you fancy it, and there are loads more if you go here: https://soundcloud.com/freundderfamilie

And here it is held up to the light to show off that lovely red colour:

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All in all I’m delighted with what I’ve received this month and am already looking forward to what is going to arrive next.

QUITE THE W/E FOR VINYL BUYING 10

aaaaaaaaaaand finally, something  a little bit different. A 7″ single, or E.P. really, that came out on Record Store Day this year but was still in the store and, as I am a bit of a sucker for Soundtracks, I really had to pick it up and take it home.

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Record Store Day celebrates German cinematic culture this year with this special edition silver colored vinyl 7″ single of ‘Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror) from the 1922 German Expressionist horror film. The original score composed by Hans Erdmann has been lost, and what remains is a reconstitution of the score as it was played in 1922. James Bernard, composer of the soundtracks of many Hammer horror films in the late 1950s and 1960s, has written a score for a reissue. This particular 7” version contains audio performed in 1997 by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine. Limited to 3000 numbered copies.

Side A
Omens of Nosferatu
The Pursuit of Knock

Side B
The Ship of Doom

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It’s a wonderful thing and, although it was £7.00 I feel it was worth it and, of course, it wasn’t my money paying for it!

Below is a video that somebody made of it playing on their turntable.

Final Total: £51.00

 

QUITE THE W/E FOR VINYL BUYING 9

This is the only full price album I bought at £17.00 but it’s brilliant so I really had little choice.

Kraftwerk ‎– Techno Pop

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Label: Kling Klang ‎– 50999 9 66050 1 1, Mute ‎– STUMM 308
Series: Kling Klang Digital Master –
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Remastered
Country: UK & Europe
Released: 16 Nov 2009
Genre: Electronic
Style: Electro, Synth-pop

Tracklist

A1 Boing Boom Tschak 2:58
A2 Techno Pop

Words By – Schult*

7:42
A3 Musique Non Stop 5:44
B1 The Telephone Call 3:50
B2 House Phone 4:56
B3 Sex Object 6:51
B4 Electric Cafe

Words By – Schmitt*

4:17

I adore Kraftwerk and have done since I saw them on TV back in the 70’s on the TV programme ‘Tomorrows World’, at least I think it was. They were so odd, and so unlike anything I’d ever seen or heard, although I hadn’t actually seen or heard all that much at that point. I do seem to be working my way towards owning everything of theirs on vinyl, which is still possible as I think all of it received a vinyl release and much has been re-released.

Running Total: £44.00

(only one more to go)

QUITE THE W/E FOR VINYL BUYING 8

Will it never end? Well, yes it will, just not yet.

Young Dreams – Between Places

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Label: K. Dahl Eftf. ‎– 5053105-5001-1-6
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP
CD, Album
Country: Norway
Released: 2013

Genre: Rock, Pop

Tracklist

LP-A1 Footprints
LP-A2 Wounded Hearts Forever
LP-A3 Fog Of War
LP-B1 First Days Of Something
LP-B2 When Kisses Are Salty
LP-B3 Dream Alone, Wake Together
LP-C1 The Girl That Taught Me To Drink And Fight
LP-D1 Through The Turnstiles
LP-D2 Young Dreams

I really like this album, and as it was new and sealed and only £3 I like it even more. Young Dreams is a Norwegian band from Bergen , consisting of Matias Tellez, Pablo Tellez, Rune Vandaskog, Njål Paul Berg, Marius Erster Bergesen, Chris Holm and Fredrik Vågsborg. That’s all I know, other than they sort of sound like a modern version of the Beach Boys.

What I also know is that I really enjoyed the album and am surprised to find it so cheap.

Running Total: £27.00