Silver Cloud

The heatwave continues and nothing you do to cool down works for very long. Music from West Germany in the 1970s might help. Silver Cloud was La Dusseldorf’s debut single, released in 1976, a slow paced, melodic eight minutes of joy from Klaus Dinger’s post- Neu! project. The crashing guitar chords, musical box synths and lightness of touch are all magical. That’s it- too hot to type anything else.

Silver Cloud

Love Comes In Waves

Something else new today, the latest in a seemingly endless flow of new music. Lovely, rippling, hazy psychedelic guitar music, ideal for the dog days of summer, arriving in the form of a solo album from Andy Bell (Ride and Glok Andy Bell not the Erasure Andy Bell). Love Comes In Waves is the sort of song that used to be delivered on a weekly basis in the late 80s and early 90s. Dreamy, driving, shimmering, indie- rock, all fringes, guitar pedals, love beads and suede jackets.

In contrast I wrote a post about Kylie (Minogue not Kardashian but I hope that goes without saying) for The Vinyl Villain, an addition to his long running ICA series. Ten songs plus four bonus tracks. It was posted yesterday. You can read it here.

Yo Yo Gi

I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned A Certain Ratio here recently but they seem to be popping up with a welcome regularity- the Sir Horatio v Chris Massey Music Control single from earlier this year, the recent ACR remix of Number both stand out (not to mention the still unbelievably sad death of Denise Johnson). The band are gearing up for the release of a new album in September, an ten track record called Loco, and last week put this out ahead of it…

It comes out of the speakers like an updated 2020 version of one of the highlights of 1990’s ACR: MCR, Spirit Dance specifically, bassline, acid squiggles, a ton of cowbell and some serious rhythms.

If you didn’t get the Sir Horatio single here’s a reminder, funky as you like and a video collage to push the buttons of your memory.

 

Monday’s Long Song

Tony Wilson, later on Anthony H. Wilson, died on this day in 2007. His gravestone in Southern Cemetery, Chorlton- cum- Hardy, as pictured above reads-

Broadcaster
Cultural Catalyst

1950- 2007

It was designed by Peter Saville and Ben Kelly (of course) and stands out among the ones around it, all in black, in the same way Wilson did when he was alive. In the film 24 Hour Party People Wilson, played by Steve Coogan, says he suffers from ‘an excess of civic pride’ and there’s no doubt Tony was utterly committed to improving Manchester and Salford, to changing things- a record label founded on revolutionary lines with equally revolutionary design principles, a nightclub, a long line of bands and artists who made art first and commerce second. All these things changed the city partly because he saw no reason to ‘fuck off down to London’, but to do it here, and partly because (eventually) the nightclub brought people to the city (as revellers, as students, as workers), who stayed and helped the city grow. The nightclub inspired the building of bars and flats and the regeneration of warehouses, new places for people, that have a look, a design aesthetic, a knowing modernism. And so on. Not all these things are solely due to Tony Wilson but they are at least partly due to him.

There’s been a tendency since he died to lionise him. While he was alive, especially in the 80s and early 90s, he was sometimes a divisive figure. That twat off the telly. Smug. Too clever for his own good. By all accounts he was capable of falling out with people, his friends, easily and without warning. Tony I’m sure would be amused by the ascension to sainthood he has achieved after death and I think he’d love it as well. ‘When you have to choose between the truth and the legend, print the legend’, he is supposed to have said. This quote comes from 24 Hour Party People as well. The legend becomes the truth. So it goes.

In 2015 this stunning record was released, Mike Garry’s poem about Tony, a figure he knew from growing up, from seeing him on the TV and from his works, set to music by Joe Duddell, based on New Order’s Your Silent Face, and then remixed by Andrew Weatherall. It remains one of the best records of the last decade, a nine minute tribute, moving and uplifting and elegiac.

St. Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H. Wilson (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Closer

This is the perfect summer tune, the sound of beach and sea and sunsets, and even if those things are all a long way off at the moment it might in some small way plug the gap while it plays. It came out at the end of July, Apiento’s remix of Cantoma with Luna Asteri on vox.

Actually, as well as being very holiday evocative it’s almost overwhelmingly melancholic too. Cantoma’s own tagline is ‘music for far away places’. Truth.

Though I Will Disappear

Something about the heat we’ve had in the twenty four hours put me in mind of this song by The Clash yesterday evening, one of my favourite Clash songs. The Street Parade is buried deep into Sandinista! at the end of side 5, song 30 out of 36, but it is a joy and a moment of light breaking through the clouds (Joe’s existential dread and the melancholy of the instrumentation notwithstanding). Placing it where they did, it comes at the listener like buried treasure, after the smokers backwards soundscape of Mensforth Hill, the murky rockabilly of Junkie Slip and the roots- rock- reggae of Kingston Advice, a reward for getting this far.

Fading in on a Caribbean rhythm and some echo, Topper effortlessly finding the beat, Joe’s vocal comes in as if from his bed, a man drained, ‘when I was waiting for your phone call/ the one that never came/ like a man about to burst/ I was dying of thirst’. Horn stabs add to the tropical feeling and then a beautiful, circling, haunting Mick Jones guitar riff, offbeat and out of time. Joe builds on his theme of being lost and of wanting ‘to disappear/ into the street parade’. Youth culture/ pop culture and punk often takes the Prisoner approach, of demanding to be a free man not a number, of being an individual and not one of the crowd, but Joe wants to slip into the parade and be lost among the mass of people, hiding himself. Maybe this is why they enjoyed New York so much during 1980, they had an anonymity there that suited them and that freed them. The horns and marimba build while Topper’s martial, marching beat powers the song on, Mick’s guitar riff echoing round and round. Joe continues ‘I was in this place/ by the first church of the city/ I saw tears on the face/ the face of a visionary’, before coming back to his main theme of disappearing and fading into the street parade. There’s a lot going on here, not least one of their very best melodies, and it’s all done inside three and a half minutes.

The Street Parade

Love Is Just A State Of Mind

Happiness by The Beloved is yet another album that has turned thirty years old this year and is about to be re- issued on double vinyl. Happiness and its singles sound like a big part of 1990 when I hear them now, a record perfectly in tune with the times. Reduced to a duo, Jon Marsh and Steve Waddington wanted to leave the indie guitar scene behind, fired up by the new music they were hearing. Marsh had been to Shoom and Spectrum in 1988 and has spoken of the experiences as being life- changing. With a few new pieces of equipment they set about making an album fusing dance music and pop and the songs they created succeeded massively. Up, Up And Away is 1990 positivity and optimism bottled- ‘up, up and away/ hello new day… just look around you/ well it ain’t no lie/ H A P P Y’. Your Love Takes Me Higher is the same but for hedonism and love. Don’t You Worry, Wake Up Soon, Time After Time… these are the songs of and for people with wide eyes and big smiles and living in the moment. Album closer Found was 1990’s most New Order sounding song.

The Sun Rising was their breakthrough single in ’89, an ambient house classic with the goosebump bassline kicking in from the off, backwards guitar, an instantly recognisable madrigal sample, and Jon’s whispered vocal, a song describing the end of the night, the walk home at dawn, spent but euphoric.

The Sun Rising

The songs on Happiness encapsulate the period as much as many others do, and are probably heard best on a car cassette player or your late teens/ early 20s bedroom stereo, an album reflecting what was going on in clubs and the wider culture. A year later The Beloved released Blissed Out, an album of remixes of songs from Happiness plus a new single It’s Alright Now, different versions and tracklists across different formats of lp, cassette and CD. I’ve posted this clip before, The Beloved promoting It’s Alright Now on BBC 2’s Dance Energy programme. It’s Alright Now is a perfectly judged piece of dance- pop. Why it wasn’t a bigger hit is a mystery to me.

 

Om Nama Sivaya And My Future

Some brand new chuggy electronic psychedelic goodies today, heavy grooves and trippy sounds as standard, courtesy of Dan Wainwright, Rude Audio and Stash Magnetic. Dan’s new e.p. Om Nama Shivaya is out on Oddball Records. If you order it at QRates you can help crowdfund the vinyl release. Rude Audio’s remix of the title track is a dubby, slow motion, psyched out beast, acidic squiggles, chanting and sitars. Very nice indeed.

 

Dan has remixed My Future by Stash Magnetic, an experimental Darkwave/ electro/ art rock duo based in London. Dan’s dub remix is one of four on the new release, out on Field Of Dreams and also including an excellent remix by Richard Sen. The remix is a very slowed down take, lurching along with voices whooshing around in the mix, a crashing drumbeat, cavernous space and a spine tingling piano/vocal breakdown. The digital e.p. is at Bandcamp.

 

My Planet Sweet On A Silver Salver

In a list of things happening that when you’re young only happened to old people celebrating your silver wedding anniversary would feature near the top end. One day you’re in your mid- twenties, gadding about, the next you’re in your fifties and it’s twenty five years to the day since you got married. I’m never too sure you should read a huge amount into Ian McCulloch’s lyrics, they seem to be full of imagery that could be there just to sound good or to dress something up in poetic language, but Silver seems to be a song full of romance, joy and facing the world square on so it seems relevant in some ways today…

‘The sky is blue/ My hands untied
A world that’s true/ Through our clean eyes
Just look at you/ With burning lips
You’re living proof/ At my fingertips

Walked on a tidal wave
Laughed in the face of a brand new day
Food for survival thought
Mapped out the place where I planned to stay’

Silver (Tidal Wave)

Something More

Back from our isolated mini- break in south west Scotland yesterday, three days in remote places- Cairn Holy (a pair of Neolithic chambered burial chambers), Caerlaverock Castle, a walk in a forest near Gatehouse Of Fleet, some quiet beaches at Southerness, Rockliffe and Kippford, fish and chips at Kirkcudbright (this was the most interaction we had with people, ordering food while wearing face masks, gloves and standing behind a line taped out on the floor, which when you think about it makes you realise what a bizarre world we are living in this year)- and a caravan site.

Roisin Murphy is having a peak couple of years. Following her run of 12″ singles two years ago she’s now been leading into an album coming out in September. In 2019 she put out Incapable, an monstrously deep and funky piece of machine house and the dazzling disco of Narcissus. Now she has sent this out into the world, written by New York songwriter and  force of nature Amy Douglas and once again recorded with Sheffield’s Richard Parrot Barratt aka Crooked Man. Something More is eight minutes of slowed down, slow burning, spacious groove with a sense of what we have lost in 2020 and the fact that we all currently feel the need for something more.