Hands

I sometimes think I enjoy Four Tet’s remixes (like yesterday’s one of Bicep) much more than his own work but listening to 2003’s Rounds again recently I was struck by what a good album it is and how well it has aged. It does not sound sixteen years old- much of it could have been made yesterday. Rounds was built almost entirely out of a sample library built up over years but sounds organic as well as electronic and processed. The tracks on Rounds are non-linear (the clue’s in the title I guess), often built on little circling parts and loops that build and repeat, stopping and starting, shifting slightly, dropping out of phase and then in again. Intricate and focused music based partly on hip hop, jazz and folk but sounding nothing like any of those styles. I could post any of the ten songs that make up Rounds- here’s the opener (if you don’t know it go and listen to the closing song Slow Jamtoo).

Hands

Opal Shadow Glitter

This time last year two records were released, one of which I missed out from my end of 2018 list which shocks and appals me as it is a stunning piece of work. It is this one, Four Tet’s remix of Bicep’s Opal, an eight minute beauty built around a stuttering riff, bells and happy-sad synths. There wasn’t much that came out last year that topped this.

I also re-found this, a track from Daniel Avery’s Projector e.p., also out in March last year following his Song For Alpha album. There’s a new album out in April, Song For Alpha 2, that pulls together all the remixes and e.p. tracks plus nine new ones (from the hundred or so he recorded that he then created the original album from). The one which grabbed me again recently is Shadow Mountain, a slow moving late night thing with waves, reverb and a snare but which turns towards the strobe part way through and becomes seriously intense.

One of the remixes included in Song For Alpha 2 is Jon Hopkins rework of Glitter. This is a monster, centred on a massive rattling, brooding kick drum and tension that builds in waves around it. At about three minutes Hopkins starts to drip some repeating melodies in that dance around like moths circling a naked flame. Everything drops away five minutes twenty, the kick resurfaces, and then after a few seconds explodes in a burst of light and colour. Magic.

Monday’s Long Song

Ambient house from October 1992 at it’s most drawn out and extended, a masterpiece from The Orb. Released as a standalone single (following the even longer and more extended Blue Room single). This mix, The Chocolate Hills Of Bohol Mix, was on CD2, from the days when multiple mixes and versions spread across a 7″ single, one or two 12″ releases plus possibly a white label, a cassingle and a couple of CD singles was considered an acceptable way to persuade your fans to part with their money. Assassin remains pretty absorbing even though nothing very much happens- this mix becomes a bit more intense and insistent around the ten minute mark.

Assassin (Chocolate Hills Of Bohol Mix)

Assassin marked the end of a phase of Orb activity. They left Big Life the following year and signed to Island, releasing Pomme Fritz in 1994. Thrash (Kris Weston) left shortly afterwards as well, after some disagreements with Alex Paterson about work rate, control  and direction. Clearly things rankled with Kris for some time. In 2016 he wrote a lengthy blogpost ‘setting the record straight’ which you can read here if you’re so inclined.

Ain’t It Peculiar

A couple of years ago I got into the habit of posting songs by The Velvet Underground on a Sunday and having put last year’s ‘lost’ but recreated 1969 album on the turntable yesterday morning it seems like a wise thing to reprise. Also this picture of Sterling Morrison has been sitting on my hard drive waiting for an opportunity to be used. I can’t think of anything that would make this picture any better.

One Of These Days sounds like Buddy Holly after a night on amphetamines and booze, frazzled and fragile but still sharp enough to play. It first saw the light of day in 1985 on the VU compilation, a record that probably influenced most indie guitar bands in the subsequent few years more than any other. This 2014 mix tweaked the twangy guitars a little and added the extra 20 seconds at the end, a freakadelic collision of guitars.

One Of These Days (2014 Mix)

I’ve realised in the past decade that despite my love for John Cale during the early years of the Velvets, my favourite Velvets songs and period are the Doug Yule years. The much maligned Doug Yule who in 1972 Lou Reed wished dead. His contributions to the songs they recorded between 1968 and 1970, on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, are as much part of the sound of the group as anybody else- and Lou Reed never sounded as good again.

Let Freedom Ring

Saturday- and the start of a week off work for me. To celebrate here’s Andrew Weatherall playing live at Bodyhammer, The Pickle Factory in Bethnal Green back in November. Weatherall played a three hour set, all vinyl according to the blurb on Soundcloud. House music to lose yourself to in the small hours.

Love Hertz

Out yesterday, the latest from Circle Sky (Richard Norris and Martin Dubka). The two singles they released last year- If I Let Go and Ghost In The Machine- were among my favourites of 2018. This new one looks set to join them and an album is due this year too. Love Hertz is hypnotic, waves of gentle, pitch bending synths, a pulsebeat and synthetic, mildly euphoric vocals from Iris.

Love

February 14th, Valentine’s Day. St Valentine, a 3rd century saint, has been associated with the traditions of courtly love since the Middle Ages. As a priest in the Roman Empire who ministered to Christians during the period of their persecution he was caught and killed, martyred on 14th February 269 AD. According to a version of his death  when he was arrested the Prefect of Rome ordered that he be either beaten to death with clubs or beheaded. But if you think he had it bad, consider this- I’m in charge of a Year 7 Valentine’s disco tonight.

Love is the number one topic as the subject for songs and writers. As Joe Strummer said ‘subject covered, case closed, don’t you think?’ A cursory search of my hard drive throws up hundreds with love in the title. Here’s two for Valentine’s Day, both ace in different ways.

Veteran disco remix King Tom Moulton took Diana’ Ross’ 1976 hit Love Hangover and extended it for seventeen sumptuous minutes, all strings and breathy vocals until a shift in tempo at around six minutes. A song in a version that just has to be surrendered to.

Love Hangover (Unreleased Tom Moulton Mix)

In June 1977 Iggy Pop was recording Lust For Life with Bowie in West Berlin. To change things around a bit the players all swapped roles, guitarist Ricky Gardiner sitting in on the drums, drummer Hunt Sales took brother Tony’s bass and and Tony took the guitar. Carlos Alomar joined in with Bowie on organ. Iggy improvised a vocal, a song to the girl. It’s got a weird groove and is a wonderful way to close the album.

Fall In Love With Me