Early Morning

Sunday morning vibes to kick off your day, slowly at first and then building- first a collaboration between Dan Wainwright and Rude Audio with a swirling, slow motion, Sabres Of Paradise influenced song, a dubbed out blur with some very reverbed vocals, FX stretched sounds. Early Morning unwinds itself in no particular hurry and very nicely indeed.

Second a series of remixes of Double Sided Mirror by Cold Beat. The original, a year old, sounds like a long lost 80s synthpop classic, capable of making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. 

The remix package brings some heavyweights out to play including bass heavy, analogue hypnosis from ex- Cabaret Voltaire man Stephen Mallinder and some gorgeous motorik euphoria from Sean Johnston’s Hardway Bros and Duncan Gray, billed together as Hardway Bros Meet Monkton Uptown. Sean’s remix output over the last year has been immense and difficult to keep tabs on and the standard is incredibly high but this is right up there (and reminiscent of his A Mountain Of Rimowa track from 2019, the spellbinding groove A Motorik Oscillation Retread). The Cold Beat remixes are available at Bandcamp, a phrase I am type regularly at the moment.

Unreal City

In 2013 Andrew Weatherall and author Michael Smith collaborated on a project called Unreal City. Smith, a Hartlepudlian, arrived in London in the mid 90s and drifted round parts of East London that had yet to be re- generated. In The Giro Playboy, a book published in 2006, and again in Unreal City he laments the loss of pubs and homes and communities to the forces of gentrification. In Unreal City the narrator, a broken down middle aged man living in a beach hut in Kent returns to London, walking the Thames estuary back to his old stomping grounds and sees everyone gone, the artists and painters and sculptors who used to live cheaply in rundown parts of the city. Smith’s narrator is a flaneur, a person who strolls about and wanders the streets observing people and life. In the novel Smith describes London as both an outsider, a Yorkshireman, and as someone who had lived there for years and his love of London, it’s streets and people, is evident- the novel rambles a bit, there is mood and texture rather than action and plot. Eventually the narrator heads to Paris and then back to London. It reads like listening to a stranger in a pub mid- afternoon, mid- week. 

Michael Smith is a regular performer, doing readings of his work. At some point Andrew Weatherall and Smith met and a collaboration was hatched, Andrew and cohorts providing a musical backing for Smith reading parts of Unreal City in his distinctive, lugubrious, East Yorkshire tones. The music, written by Weatherall with Nina Walsh (with some accompaniment from Franck Alba on viola and E- Bow) is a series ambient pieces, drones and drawn out sounds, acoustic guitar parts appearing and then being swallowed up, ringing noises, drips and droplets of water and acres of echo and reverb, in places achingly beautiful, the perfect musical illustration of Smith’s melancholy.

The paperback edition of Unreal City was published in 2013 and followed by a multi- media version- a loose leaf book with Andrew Weatherall’s scribblings in the margins and some great pen and ink line drawings, a six track CD and a 10″ single with a remix. It’s a beautiful artefact, the sort of thing that shows love and care and attention to detail. Unfortunately if you don’t own a copy, the ones at Discogs being offered for sale will set you back well over £100. The paperback can be found for under a fiver. 

I’ve put the seven tracks together as one continuous piece and uploaded at Mixcloud

  • Estuary Embers
  • The Bells Of Shoreditch
  • ONDON
  • Water Music
  • The Deep Hum At The Heart Of It All
  • Lost
  • The Deep Hum At The Heart Of It All (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

In The Dark

Another slice of modern techno today, a 2017 release from Curses, a one man Berlin based American in exile who makes electronic, disco/ post- punk flecked rock ‘n’ roll. This remix is by Russian DJ/ producer Inga Mauer, who makes it even darker than it started, a tension filled five minutes.

Together In The Dark (Inga Mauer Remix)

Then I remembered that Inga also remixed yesterday’s techno whizzkid Daniel Avery, a similarly intense and moody trip, with rim shots ricocheting around, clattering techno drums and a distant, disconnected voice. Fever Dream was originally released as part of the Slow Fade EP, four tracks of blurry ambient techno. 

Fever Dream (Inga Mauer Remix) 

Love And Illusions

Daniel Avery has recently added some new tracks to his already extensive back catalogue. I’m a big fan. Walking round in the dark recently, getting my government endorsed exercise, with last year’s Love + Light album in my headphones has given me a new appreciation of the album, it’s sounds and textures and all that cavernous reverb. 

There’s a Jas Shaw remix of Think About What You Love (from 2018’s Song For Alpha album) available for free at Bandcamp. Jas was one half of Simian Mobile Disco. He worked on the track, left it unfinished and unlabelled on his computer and found it a couple of years later and used it as the starting point for a new drum sound. Strange, dusty, minimal techno, bent out of shape. 

To go alongside this Daniel’s also made this available at Bandcamp, a Teodor Wolgers reworking of a song from his Illusion Of Time album from this time last year, an album he did with Alessandro Cortini, and which soundtracked the descent into the first lockdown for me. This remix is a beautiful, soothing blur of white noise and piano. 

Schmoo

In the early 90s Underworld’s remixes were as essential as their own material, the group producing a slew of long, tribal, dub techno remixes that were monumental trips in their own right. Between 1992 and 1995 their remixes of Bjork, William Orbit, The Drum Club, One Dove, Orbital, Saint Etienne, Leftfield, Front 242 and Shakespeare’s Sister are all superb work and as was standard at the time, they often produced two or three mixes, making what amounted to mini- albums and great value for money on 12″ or CD single. In 1993 they remixed Spooky, one of the era’s omnipresent progressive house outfits (and still at it today), turning in a nine minute thumper with dancing topline piano melodies, a pair of disembodied voices (one a female ‘ooh’ and ‘yeah’ and the other sounding like a foreign radio station or platform announcement), bleeps, a huge bassline and a crashing rhythm- what more do you want? Or need? 

Schmoo (Underworld Mix) 

Concord

Back in 2014 Underworld released a deluxe anniversary edition of 1994’s dubnobasswithmyheadman album, a double CD, the original album coupled with a disc of extras. dubnobass… was one of the 1990s greatest albums, possibly its greatest- a visionary, triumphant, darkly euphoric ride, dance music’s rhythms, space and production (and the DJ nous of recently arrived member Darren Emerson) hitched to what was left of Karl Hyde’s guitar playing and Karl’s cut up vocals. Melodic streamlined techno. The sleeve suggested what was within, words typed and repeated, overlaid, copied and pasted in layers of black and white, a computer having some kind of breakdown. 

The extras disc is a brilliant alternative eighty minutes to the album, a collection of earlier releases, standalone singles and off cuts from the album. It opens with the stellar Eclipse and includes Dirty (both from the Lemon Interrupt 12″), Rez, a standalone 12″ and maybe their single greatest moment (without doubt one of the weirdest moments of the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony was when it suddenly became clear that the athletes of the world were parading round the Olympic stadium to Rez), Spikee (a 1993 12″ single), the sinuous, epic Dark Train version of Dark And Long and three tracks that were recorded at the same time as dubnobass… but which didn’t make the final cut. Of these three extras- Concord, Can You Feel Me? and Birdstar- Concord sounds like one which could easily have sneaked on if running time had allowed. It opens with a distorted voice, unclear and smothered in echo, before a familiar thumping, heartbeat rhythm glides in and Karl’s spoken voice starts out with one of those stream of consciousness vocals, lines from notebooks and overheard conversations, ‘I’m delighted/ I’m higher than Concord’. A moment later then he seems to be switching through the news channels, ‘it’s an honour for the home team… rebel forces massing in Georgia… huge fat prices… here comes  Moscow… Mother Theresa’s ready… It’s an all time low… higher than Concord…’. On and on it goes, the thump of the drums, the warm fat bass and Karl flicking through the news and reporting back, beautifully disorienting. 

Concord

Monday’s Long Song

 Last week Underworld released a new remix of Cowgirl, one of the brain melting standouts from their 1994 dubnobasswithmyheadman album, one of those albums I can play, know every single moment of and still find fresh. Cowgirl Remix id2 A1804 is/was available as a free download (for five days only), as a limited edition 12″ single (sold out) and limited edition t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodie, tote bag and lithograph (all still available at the time of writing, here). The remix is seventeen minutes long, stretched out and wigged out building to buzzing climax around twelve minutes thirty before the squiggling acid part re- enters, and while it seems to be a fairly close relation of the Irish Pub In Kyoto Mix from 1994, it’s pretty exciting to hear it rejigged again for 2021.  

The five day free download has expired it seems. 
Cowgirl Remix id2 A1804

Blue And Green

Yesterday felt like the first day out of the winter, maybe not spring but a step towards it- sun shining, blue skies, wispy clouds, first shoots of flowers appearing. 

Brian Eno’s work has always been very linked to colours, from his album with his brother Roger last year (Mixing Colours) all the way back to the 70s. Deep Blue Day is beautiful piece of work, recorded for his 1983 Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks album and re- used in 1996 in Trainspotting in the scene where Renton dives into The Worst Toilet In Scotland in search of a suppository. Deep Blue Day (recorded with Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois) is gorgeous, an gently ecstatic drift of synths and pedal steel guitar.

Deep Blue Day

That gives me the excuse, if one were needed, to post this re-edit by Mojo Filter of Eno’s 1975 classic Another Green World, Eno’s semi- ambient, piano led original pushed into Balearic waters with a drumbeat and a truckload of samples, including a child saying ‘L- O- V- E, Love’. Play one, then the other- Sunday morning sorted. 

Another Green World (The Blue Realm)

Something About Love For Glory

Drifting through the Freeview channels a couple of weekends ago I found the old BBC2 programme Sounds Of The Sixties and in my slightly red wine affected haze a black and white performance by Tim Buckley, originally from Late Night Line Up in 1968.

Such a strange combination of instruments and sounds- Buckley’s folk guitar, the jazz chords and runs of the guitarist along with the rhythm section of double bass and congas. On top, Buckley’s voice with those detours he takes into yodelling. The TV says the song is called I’m Coming Home but the song as it appeared on his 1969 album was called Happy Time. I found it very odd but entrancing when it was on and as soon as it finished I rewound the TV and watched it again, unexpectedly drawn in by Tim Buckley’s psychedelic jazz- folk fusion.

This song, from 1967, is a bit less startling but still pretty hypnotic, a three and a half minute swirl, the words and the voice tumbling over the music (piano, acoustic guitar, drums), no chorus or hooks to speak of, just this acoustic psychedelic flow

Phantasmagoria In Two

Discomfort

One of my favourite songs of last year was Formerlover’s Correction Dub, a track released on a compilation called Galactic Service Broadcasting Vol. 1 last May. Justin Robertson and Sofia Hedblum combined dub space and bass with Nigerian rhythms and a vocal giving instructions and asking questions via a late night chat line. 

In September last year there was a second Formerlover release which to my shame I missed until this week. Bassline from Jamaica, percussion from Lagos, slide guitar from the Delta, echo from the 1960s, a surf guitar lick, a Miami beach vibe, another unmissable vocal- not only do these seemingly disparate influences work together really well but sound like they were made specifically for each other, like four different records playing at once. Buy it and a dub version at Bandcamp and put some shimmy into your Friday.