Friday, 19 January 2018

2017's Best Tunes


I forgot to post a favourite tunes of 2017 list. This list has been sitting in my drafts since mid December but it was only a top 5 or 6 anyway. I've added a handful of other tracks since the Christmas/New Year period. I didn't listen to the radio or watch any music video channels in 2017 but I did check out probably a couple of hundred singles/tracks on youtube. Not hearing them in a radio context doesn't allow for a tune to insidiously worm its way into your brain though. I thought pop's reign had halted and r&b, rap etc. were in poor shape. I still do.

I just couldn't hear any innovations in rap at all, at least not vocally. It all just seemed to be rehashing what Gucci Mane, Future and Young Thug had pioneered years earlier. In times like these sometimes that can be ok because often newer artists consolidate on what the pioneers have already blueprinted. However it just seems like every newcomer is rather pale by comparison to their forefathers. God, Young Thug & Future even did an album together which left not a trace in my memory, that was not a good sign. Jay-Z sounded tired. Geez Tyler, The Creator was even sounding fresh with his old school Neptunes/NERD shtick, it stood out because everyone else sounded the same. Too Much (Vocal) from v1984 was classic b-boys on E stuff plus I quite liked tracks from these new feisty rappers with potential Rico Nasty and Sheff G.

The beauty of hip hop a few years ago was the fact that somehow even in this post-geographical internet age a regional flavour still came through in a lot of leading artists material. So distinctive styles were developing throughout the different neighbourhoods of America. Now you get New Yorkers sounding like wannabe southern trappers, people from LA moving to Atlanta, Rappers from Brooklyn wishing they were from Chicago etc. Where are Rae Sremmunrd from? Cardi B? Vince Staples? Is Travis Scott from Atlanta?  Who knows anymore? It's probably a cyclical thing. I mean you did have g-funk coming out of all sorts of places in the 90s, not just LA.

I didn't think I'd heard any good pop/rock songs last year, not that I tried very hard or at all. However, I actually heard the infectious Imagine Dragons tune, Whatever It Takes, in Emma's car on Boxing Day which I thought was a state of the art soft-rock anthem for the FM airwaves of 2017. No apologies hipsters.

Indie rock is just plain embarrassing now. It's the trad jazz of the 2010s.

Most R&B and their inter-zones sounded staid but there were a couple of things that grabbed my attention. The obvious standout was Kelela's two singles and LP. Apparently there's a Steve Gurley dub of her Truth Or Dare floating around the internet too. Thundercat, SZA and NERD featuring Rihanna had their retro moments.

There were one or two disparate electronic things that caught my ear but they were mainly just little 90s nostalgia trips for me like Lanark Artefacts' Touch Absence, Bicep's Glue, Loft's Funemployed and a few others that have slipped my mind. Other track-y things like Your Kiss Is Sour by Parris and Ploy's Unruly had their charms while Object's Theme From Q was almost something new. Oh and I've only just realised Rudeboyz came back with an EP but I missed it.

So below is my belated best tunes of 2017 list.


BEST TUNES OF 2017
Frontline - Kelela
LMK - Kelela
Slippery - Migos feat. Gucci Mane
Blue Light - Kelela
Bodak Yellow - Cardi B (Zora Jones & Sinjin Hawke Bootleg)
Magnolia - Playboi Carti
Too Much (Vocal) - v1984
Goosebumps - Travis Scott feat. Kendrick Lamar
Dark Matter - Jlin & Zora Jones
Mask Off - Future
DNA - Kendrick Lamar
Lemon - NERD feat. Rihanna



Thursday, 18 January 2018

'ardcore Smokey Joe



Gotta love hearing some early 90s rave-y hardcore that has never crossed my eardrums before. Thanks to Simon via Energy Flash for alerting me to this Red Bull article on ridiculously overpriced rave records. Some of these tunes I'd not heard until today.
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I love me a bit of kitchen sink hardcore: Breaks, scratching, Italo piano riffs, more breaks, synth riffology, chipmunks, hoovers, cheesy 80s synth samples, pitch-shifted divas, squelches, references to rushes etc. Kiss My Neck has got the lot.



Then there's this, a stone cold 'ardcore classic! Boomzabang, which is less cluttered than Kiss My Neck, has got fabulous beat science, riffs built on rhythms, time-stretching and melodic beats then the hardcore hoovers move in at 3.40 and by 4.20 it's mentastic. Next the track delves into dark lulls with a sampled diva, closing out on a classic break that could go on forever. How I've not come across this before is astounding because this is superior 92 into 93 hardcore slipping into darkside.

Smokey Joe is bringing the joy to my fuckered back and this sweltering heatwave.

Ryo Kawasaki - Mercy Of The Dragon


God only knows how I got here. This is from a 1982 LP by Ryo Kawasaki confusingly titled Featuring Concierto De Aranjuez. The centrepiece of side 2 is Hawaiian Caravan along with Mercy of The Dragon (see below). All of side 2 is good 80s Japanese cosmic stuff. Mucho custom guitar synthesizer action.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Mnemonics III - Pauline Oliveros



Damn fine electronics from the 60s. I have heard this one before...er... maybe it's on a different record to this one though or a different cover. Muchas Gracias to the late Pauline Oliveros for these alien frequencies sent from her swirly transmitter. Joy. Ha...I've just realised she was another faculty member of Mills College. Quite a coincidence or is it not one at all? Perhaps my brain was subconsciously playing Alvin Curran and Oliveros deliberately. That does not explain the Xenakis played in-between however. Anyway...

The silver lining to your back going out is the psychedelic unison of the drugs and the music.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A Perspex Town



New music from Jon Brooks aka The Advisory Circle. Lovely stuff. This video and LP cover art are courtesy of Ian Hodgson from Moon Wiring Club. A Perspex Town is taken from Applied Music: Vol. 2 - Plastics Today. This is some kind of faux library music album which is released on Friday.


Monday, 15 January 2018

Canti Illuminati - Alvin Curran





Had not heard this until the today of now. Loving it. Rzewski's old pal/collaborator from MEVAlvin Curran makes amazing masterpiece released in 1982. This is desert Island stuff. Curran was also a Mills College Professor, they had quite the faculty didn't they? If someone hasn't done this already someone should, that is write a book about the great musical minds that were staff and students of Mills College, Oakland, California. Legends such as Morton Subotnick, Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, Robert Ashley and Luciano Berio were amongst the prestigious staff. Some of their distinguished students were Steve Reich, Laurie Anderson, Dave Brubeck, Kevin Blechdom, Joanna Newsom and their most recent star Holly Herndon.

I've done me back and cannot move, the painkillerz have kicked in big time and Canti Illuminati has arrived from nowhere to entrance me. Thanks interweb gods and not forgetting Alvin too. Wow! Muchas Gracias!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Best of 2017


LPS/TAPES
Tantalising Mews/Cateared Chocolatiers - Moon Wiring Club
Cassettera - Ekoplekz
Dust - Laurel Halo
Take Me Apart - Kelela
AZD - Actress
Mnestic Pressure - Lee Gamble
The Ghost Of Hope - The Residents
async - Ryuichi Sakamoto
Texas Rock Bottom - Rangers
The Saddle Of The Increate - Sun Araw
Reassemblage - Visible Cloaks
Dulce Compañia - DJ Python
Lack - Pan Daijing
Ambient Black Magic - Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement
Colón Man - Equiknoxx
Insert Genre Here/Epson's Bladder Salts - Ashtray Navigations
New Age Sewage - Robedoor
Dedicated To Bobby Jameson - Ariel Pink

I've been trying to put this list together for over three weeks now. This morning I just thought 'Bugger it I won't do a list.' Then later this afternoon I thought I'll just write a small paragraph about a handful of records I didn't mind but didn't necessarily love to death and leave it at that. Listening to Moon Wiring Club's latest epic 2CD & LP combo I thought 'Well...they need a place to go don't they because they're fucking outstanding as usual.' So now I've put this together but I'm still not a hundred percent convinced about it. I mean the Ariel Pink LP is a bit lightweight innit? Yet It's also pretty good but it's just not in the same league as The Doldrums, Worn Copy or Pom Pom is it? It was still my most played LP of the year though.

Should it just be a top 3, a top 6 or maybe a top 8 list?....

Anyway many of my usual favorites did not make the list. I didn't hate the records by The Focus Group, Gas or Omar Souleyman but I didn't love them (like I usually do or wanted to) either. Toi Toi Toi and Migos just missed out, Chino Amobi was (oh so) interesting, Tyler The Creator, SZA & Thundercat were alright, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith was way overrated and that Zomby record just did my head in. Then there was my usual hip-hop entrants (Future, Young Thug, RJ, Beatking) whose LPs just didn't leave lasting impressions on my mind. I'd have been happy to make a top fifty list if there were fifty excellent albums released this year. I listened to a lot of stuff including black metal, even shoegaze and drum'n'bass plus a whole lot more rap but it just wasn't innovative, exceptional or consummate enough for me to write about.


REISSUES/ARCHIVES/COMPILATIONS
Selected Classics/Frontal Sickness/Final Sickness  - The Mover
Voyage Cerebral - Didier Boquet
Afternooners - Patrick Cowley
Miracle Steps: Music From The 4th World 1983-2017 - Various
Fetus/Pollution/Sulle Corde Di Aries - Franco Battiato
Pop Makossa: The Invasive Dance Beat Of Cameroon 1976-1984 - Various
Cryptik Stepperz - Ekoplekz (I know it was released 2/11/16 but I missed it!)


TELLY
The Deuce
Sure The Deuce isn't as good as The Wire but it's fine entertainment.
The Crown
Sure The Crown isn't anywhere near as cool as The Deuce but season two was ten dramatic mini-movie masterpieces in a row. I can't explain it, just watch it. Who would have thought twenty hours (two seasons) of television about the bloody Queen could have been this amazing?
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Sure they didn't really need to do another season but it still had me laughing out loud a lot.
Twin Peaks - Episode 8
Sure I kinda preferred it when BOB was just a mystery. When BOB just was. Anyway this is a pretty cool episode that was all about early, experimental & avant-garde cinema and much more. Exquisite. The other 17 episodes weren't a patch on this.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Best 80s Albums

Yesterday on twitter somebody asked what was the best LP released between 1980 & 1989. I thought I won't do my obvious pick. So I did a little year by year list that didn't include Talking Heads, The Fall, The Birthday Party, Prince, The Church, The Triffids, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine or The Pixies.

My pick in the end was My Houdini from Tactics but it could have been any of these or like a hundred others. Ever since I started this blog I've been meaning to write an article in praise of My Houdini. Maybe the time has come to finally put pen to paper about this undervalued post-punk/new wave classic.


1980- Out Of The Tunnel - MX-80 Sound
1981- My Houdini - Tactics
1982- Ice Cream For Crow - Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
1983- Head Over Heels - Cocteau Twins
1984- Let It Be - The Replacements
1985- At Home With You - X (The Australian band not the inferior one)
1986- Three Virgins - Axemen
1987- Children Of God - Swans
1988- Sixty Nine - AR Kane
1989- Max Q - Max Q


This is another one I was going to write about in the beginning...er...maybe I did. I'll have to check that.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Problem Child - ACDC



Rick Rubin summed up AC/DC here. Amongst other things he wrote:

A great band like Metallica could play an AC/DC song note for note, and they still wouldn't capture the tension and release that drive the music. There's nothing like it.

The essence of Malcolm Young.