Slightly in keeping with the themes held within the last post, here’s another slice of otherworldly visitations from a bygone era. But where Ed Harcourt’s ghostly parlour-seance dreamscapes come across as gentle harbingers of evil, Moon Wiring Club’s chronologically different offerings provide an altogether different aural and ethereal experience. But I get ahead of myself. Firstly, from a year where “Event!” releases were all the rage, this seemed to have been put out with the same short-term fanfare (I got an email saying it was on the way from the ever-polite Servant Roberts, I pre-ordered, it turned up very shortly afterwards) but without all the screamy fuss accompanying others. This was less of a rooftop-blasting “hype by no hype” thing and more of a sedate, genial “let’s see what this does” sort of affair. And now I’m rambling.
One of the joys of getting into a band some way into their recording career is that not only do you get to look forward to future endeavours, you get to trawl backwards as well to see where it all came from. Usually that brings forth the obvious musical pathways and the shoots of ideas that would flourish later on, but it’s the ones that occupy their own particular time and space that intrigue and interest the most. The Soulsavers’s debut album from ten years ago and re-released this weekend was one such record sought out and picked up after buying their subsequent release and, although it feels different musically on the surface, the link from one to the other is as strong as any, as the noirish exploration of pulp Americana found here isn’t far beneath the surface of its sequel.
So, after the best part of a decade waiting and a couple of months after the treasure hunt started, there’s a new Boards Of Canada album just around the corner, and the livestream of Tomorrow’s Harvest is upon us, which you can have a gander at by popping over to BoardsOfCanada.com. I have no idea how this is going to work this evening given that there’s only so much can be said for an album of presumably ambient instrumental overtones and there’s only so many adjectives, metaphors and similes that cover all that. There’s a very real chance this could wind up looking akin to a very weird wine-tasting blog if I’m not careful.
So, erm, yes. I am really looking forward to hearing what’s going to play over the course of the next however long the album is, I fully expect to not really take this very seriously, and ongoing comments would be welcome either at the bottom of this page, or via the Twitter feed at @6dft. Spelling/factual/most other kinds of mistakes, repetition, digression and increasing madness will no doubt ensue.
Ooh – and for those not wanting to have the record spoiled in any way, I’ll probably only be commenting on a few tracks specifically rather than picking at each one (because there’s only so fast I can type!) so hope to get the ‘spirit’ of the first listen. But if you’re determined to hang on another week until this record is in your well-manicured little hands, then good luck, and hope you pop back afterwards to have a peep below the line here and see if I’m wildly inaccurate in hindsight.
There are a couple of things that generally herald The Great British Summer. Mostly, it’s the phrase “Since Records Began”, although it’s generally a mixed bag as to which record is going to be broken during any given year. Early days yet as it’s only May, but “moodiest” seems to be an early contender. Not that any of this matters, as if there’s something us British types are good at, it’s plugging along regardless then moaning about it at a later date.
What some of us are also good at is creating our own sunshine out of whatever happens to be around. Silver Wilkinson, the latest album from Wolverhampton-based Bibio, follows in that fine tradition of parting the clouds and repainting the skies for the benefit of the rain-dampened masses.
The imagined village of Belbury is an idyllic location not too dissimilar to Trumptonshire. Jolly, eccentric and full of character, the Parish has become rather adept at producing a bunch of uniquely English-flavoured electronic psychedelia. Unlike Camberwick Green and its environs however, there is a sense of ‘otherness’ about Belbury that brings to mind church clocks chiming at funny times, Women’s Institute gatherings devoted to invoking all manner of friendly spirits and an off-licence dispensing many a curiously-coloured liquid for the discerning customer. Welcome to the strange and wonderfully parochial (in the nicest sense of the word) world of Ghost Box Recordings.
And quite frankly that’s the best intro I could come up with to set the scene for something that exists in its own little universe, obeying its own rules and wandering off in whatever direction it feels like, as they continue in marvellous form with this one from The Focus Group.
What constitutes an actual definition of an EP nowadays is clouded in mystery. It’s probably written down somewhere, hidden away from the rest of humanity and guarded constantly by successive generations of big men with no eyebrows. It all used to be so much easier back in the day when it used to be defined by the simple epithet of ‘7″ at 33 & 1/3, 12″ at 45rpm’, and when this record was announced this week (this Thursday just gone, at 5pm to be exact), it was mentioned that the Head Technician had gone a bit more dancefloor-orientated with this EP. And when it arrived without a prescribed speed on the label or sleeve, I assumed that this 4-track offering was a 45. Initially, I went along with this quite happily with only a passing thought of “well, it’s a bit Disco, isn’t it?” before realisation dawned, I changed gear and enjoyed it properly.
Before I begin, I should take this opportunity to make an apology. I may well have claimed in a previous post that my possession of Canada-based facts was limited to my knowing that their currency had a picture of a duck on it. I now know this to be wrong, and what I thought was a duck is actually a loon – a majestic creature which looks a bit like a duck, but which isn’t. I apologise to Canada, I apologise to loons, and I also apologise to ducks as I am unsure who is more offended by this faux pas, although I suspect it may be the former as a present I sent to a friend of mine (also in Vancouver. Is the rest of Canada deserted?) arrived with something missing out of the package. Bah.
Right, good. This is the latest offering from Coastie (if that’s the wrong term for Vancouvery types, blame the Internet) prOphecy sun‘s eclectic body of work, here as half of Spell alongside fellow artist Kristen Roos to come up with an EP of five gently spooky songs.
There’s a 7 Seconds song called The Music, The Message from their 1995 album of the same name that, like a lot of their stuff in my younger days, struck a permanent chord. Music, kind of whether we like it or not, guides us and soundtracks us and can occasionally give us the opportunity to do some good. Or, at the very least, do something that allows someone better qualified and generally better at it to do some good on our behalf.
Audioscope is one such organisation that creates things so that we humble punters can do little things in order so that they can do incredible things for people who really need those incredible things to happen, so in that respect everybody wins. Supporting homelessness charity Shelter since 2001, they have put on fundraising events featuring a host of musical acts, followed by an album in 2010 featuring experimental artists from past and present all contributing their time and efforts for this common cause. Next month sees the release of the second of these albums, expanding the selection from the original’s 11 artists to a veritable Legion of 40. Or, if you want to get all technical and “accurate” about it, half a Centuria.
Yesterday was a good day. Not only did this silly little corner of the internet appear in the national media again (huge thanks again to The Guardian! And you can/should have a go at their Six Songs Of Me project, the memories at my own choices coming as quite a surprise if I’m honest), but I’ve also finally got my Fantasy Football team sorted out for the new season. I have high hopes for Half Man Half Busquets this season, even if the fact that I’ve spent all day at work explaining this name exquisitely defines the cultural vacuum that I am gainfully employed in.
Anyway. As I’ve mentioned before, this time of year is always a bit dull for new things – too late for the “best of the first half of the year” fad and too early for the “best of the second half of the year” thing in anticipation of the goldfish-like attention span of the average list-botherer, August is a bit moribund for the more loudly-trumpeted albums of the year, but that just means that it’s time to look that little bit deeper to find something that little bit different to widen the horizons a little bit. So with metaphors well and truly mixed, it’s time to dip again into a genre I know next to nothing about.
An early memory of mine as a child was coming home from a holiday with my Mum & Dad. My sister stayed at home that week (think my brother was at Polytechnic at this time – unimportant, but I’m following a train of thought here) and as expected, she’d had friends over while we were away. One of her friends had left a box behind, and it was something that set me off on a whole new path as it was full of 2000AD comics.
At this point (I must have been about 8), my only experience of reading comics was Whizzer & Chips, so this stuff absolutely blew my mind. After I had read through the entire pile (which took a couple of days of literally just sitting there silently going through one after another like a chainsmoker), me and my sister convinced Dad to have it delivered every week. This is such a happy memory me not just because of the comics themselves, but as far as I can remember this is the only thing that me and my sister truly shared whilst growing up.
Anyway, central to all of this lavishly illustrated and wonderfully written malarkey was one Judge Joe Dredd, who ran the rule of law over a post-apocalyptic Mega City One with an inhuman zeal and absolutely no sense of humour. Yeah, there were other great characters in 2000AD but Dredd – and the world he occupied – was probably the first pastime that became an obsession for much of my youth. Even if the Dark Judges gave me nightmares (especially Judge Fear). So it’s brilliant to hear that someone’s finally done a proper soundtrack to those heady, inky days.