Stuck In God’s Waiting Room

David Homes was back in his regular monthly slot in God’s Waiting Room at NTS Radio at the start of May, another two hours of perfectly chosen music from across the board- ambient, psychedelia, Velvets indebted rock from Belfast, cinematic weirdness, dub techno from Ability II in 1990, folk, experimental exotica, The Mekons in 1978, the whole gamut of leftfield music but always with a tune and a way in. You can find it at Mixcloud, two hours well spent. 

This would fit right in with the rest of David’s selections, a new song from The Liminanas with Laurent Garnier on board- thumping drums and electronic rhythms, a twangy riff, beatnik gang vibes and Lionel speaking in French (naturellement) over the top. 

Holding On

Back in 2018 Circle Sky, the sleek electronic/ sci fi techno vehicle for Richard Norris and Martin Dubka to explore their futuristic dreams, released a single called Ghost In The Machine. It was and is a favourite of mine, tinkling piano at the top end, synth stabs, subtle, pulsing drums, a spectral voice and lots of beautiful repetition- repetition of melodies, of rhythms and vocals. 

Circle Sky also released If I Let Go in the same year and in 2019 Love Hertz, both with some sumptuous remixes from the likes of Ulrich Schnauss, Crooked Man and Michael Mayer. 

Now, as part of Richard Norris’ seemingly endless productivity drive in 2020- 2021 and his Inner Mind subscription service we have a new Circle Sky release, Holding On. Similar building blocks, all those elements present- repetition, sweetly sung vocal loops, pitter- pattering drums, bright synth melodies and retro- futurist, happy/ sad, euphoric/ melancholic sheen. The album, titled Dream Colour (a title which sums Circle Sky up perfectly), is out in the summer. 

I Feel

Some uplifting feelgood musical biscuits for Friday courtesy of some veteran DJs and producers. First, an edit of a 70s folk rock song, refitted for 2021 by Justin Deighton and Leo Zero, out on 7″ and digitally at their own 7s Clash label (with a tie in bar at Two Tribes Campfire in King’s Cross, London). I Feel is a funky/ Balearic number, acoustic guitars, a chugger of a bassline and lots of chanting- I’m getting hippy parties in the Med in the mid 1970s, unspoilt beaches, kaftans, hash, sunsets, sandals, love beads. Find it here. The B-side is a Pete Herbert dub of the edit, a more laid back version but still with that chuggy rhythm. 

Balearic overlord Phil Mison records under the name Cantoma. This Pete Herbert remix of Cantoma’s Verbana from 2018 fits perfectly with the I Feel Edit above, more music for dancing, acoustic guitars, bubbly bassline, handclaps and a soaring synth part.

This one, another Cantoma/ Pete Herbert pairing, shows the Balearic revival (if it ever really went away) was well underway back in 2014. Very laid back magic. 

Just Landed (Pete Herbert Remix)

Sand And Acid

Releasing single songs or tracks semi- regularly onto the internet has become the new way of putting music out for many artists, especially those who occupy the long tail of the music industry- not a single as we’d recognise it from the glory days of the 7″ of the 70s and 80s or the CD single even of the 90s but a drip- drip- drip of new music in easily digestible chunks. Bandcamp seems to offer artists a much better deal than the big streaming services and they have a one Friday a month offer that gives even better cut for the artist. Two of my recent favourites both unleashed new tracks into the ether last Friday, a pair of superb pieces of 21st century electronic music, built on the dance music of the past but with a half closed eye squinting at the future. 

Duncan Gray has released umpteen tracks through his label Tici Taci, often the kind of chuggy, wonky monsters that made Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston’s A Love From Outer Space travelling disco such a good night out. His latest offering is a bouncier, housier affair- May Your Toes Kiss The Sand Again is a sentiment we can all empathise with and the track is a joy, a Larry Heard inspired piece of uptempo Chicago house via Slough (or uptempo Slough house via Chicago, either way). 

This is an older one, Deep Blue, a fuzz bass- led slice of dark acid disco from 2013. 

Pye Corner Audio has been dropping, as I believe the young people say, a series of one off tracks since lockdown last year, mesmerising wobbly acid and sci fi house with button pushing names like Quarry Rave, Rotational Squelch, Memory Of Rave, Somewhere There’s A Sunrise and Jupiter Orbit. The latest is Interplanetary Acid, five minutes of retro- futurism, synths and sequencers, that I can’t get enough of. Get it here at a name your own price deal.  

More Pye Corner Audio acid from earlier this year came in the shape of Thermionic Acid- darker, deeper and altogether squelchier, part of a four track release called Midnight Acid. There’s a theme developing here isn’t there?

Gorillaz In The North

New Order’s recent releases (and by recent I mean those since 2015’s Music Complete) haven’t always convinced me. It sounds like New Order but with all the edges sanded off and smoothed out, the tension and pioneering spirit of their greatest art lost after so long in the saddle. I suppose it’s to be expected- no one can keep their edge for that long, unreliable technology and stubborn independence gets traded in for gear that works and financial security. At some point in the process (I’m dating this to the recording of Republic in 1993 and Rob Gretton’s absence onwards) there was a power struggle that was won by Bernard. He took control of the creative process and song writing, the recording and production. Peter Hook’s departure is well documented and there’s no need to dig over that again but his bass was one of, if not the, key sounds of New Order- the bass guitar as lead instrument, the riffs and runs played through that chorus pedal and those amps. At some point Bernard decided he wanted a bass player who followed the guitarist and who just played the root notes. 

Thankfully Hooky pops up here and there from time to time, bassist for hire, his Viking bass sound immediately identifiable on two superb singles by The Liminanas (Garden Of Love and The Gift). Last year he slung the bass around on a single with Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz, part of their monthly 2020 digital release campaign. Aries, Hooky’s growl at the start and then the bass runs throughout, beamed in seemingly straight from New Order’s Cheetham Hill rehearsal studio in 1986, seem to contain the spirit of New Order as much, if not more, than anything on Music Complete. 

Aries

Ten years previously Damon, Jamie Hewlett and the four unreal members of Gorillaz released Plastic Beach, a guest star heavy concept album featuring turns from Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Gruff Rhys and another hero of the Manchester’s punk scene, the late Mark E Smith. 

Glitter Freeze

‘Where’s north from here?’

Cherry Coloured

At the end of last week JC at The Vinyl Villain posted three songs by Cocteau Twins, the epically beautiful Pearly Dewdrops Drop and the two songs from the 12″ single, The Spangle Maker and Pepper- Tree. By coincidence I’d recently pulled the band’s 1990 album Heaven Or Las Vegas off the shelf, intending to give it a listen. The opening song, Cherry- coloured Funk, is a spellbinding and breath taking three minutes, a liquid, melting guitar riff played over the simplest of drum machine beats, a swirl of FX lying just behind. Liz Fraser’s voice glides in on top, an otherworldly blur of words and then without warning a sudden soaring moment to a falsetto part that is . The guitar riff comes back again, round and round in its gently trippy, off kilter groove and Liz sings on- I’ve no idea what she’s singing about and it really doesn’t matter, the words are just part of the sound (I’m sure they meant something to Liz when she wrote them). The band was going through some churn at the time and there’s a slight unease about the album, hints at the darkness of their personal lives- you can hear it Cherry- coloured Funk- but there’s also an energy about the songs and the rush bands get when they’re on a creative roll and on fire. 

Cherry- coloured Funk

Monday Mix

I did another mix for Scotland’s Tak Tent Radio and it went out yesterday from their nerve centre. I put it together back in March when the days were shorter and I seemed to spend a lot of time walking round in the dark after work- seems a bit gloomy now that it’s May and the evenings are lighter much later. At first I intended it to be a fully ambient/ drone mix, partly because I was listening to a lot of ambient music in my headphones while walking and partly because I’d just begun reading Harry Sword’s book, Monolithic Undertow, a history and appreciation of the drone from Neolithic times to the present day (highly recommended if you haven’t read it) but I got twenty five minutes into the mix and thought we needed some drums (and a voice or two too). Tak Tent Radio is here, loads of great stuff to listen to. Bagging Area Tak Tent Three is at Mixcloud. Tracklist below. 

Tak Tent Three

  • Luke Schneider: Anteludium
  • Daniel Avery: Tremor
  • A Winged Victory For The Sullen: The Dead Outnumber The Living
  • Richard Norris: Hilma
  • Craven Faults: Cupola Smelt Mill
  • Pye Corner Audio: Quarry Rave
  • Herrmann Kristoferson: Gone Gold
  • Ruf Dug: Dominica (Kenneth Bager’s Sunset Ambient Mix)
  • Andrew Weatherall and Michael Smith: Estuary Embers
  • Art Of Noise: Moments In Love
  • Cheval Sombre: It’s Not Time
  • Vangelis/ Blade Runner: Pris Meets JF Sebastian 
  • Vangelis/ Blade Runner: Spinner Ascent

Return To Life

Coyote are Timm Sure and Richard Hampson, a duo who met at the legendary Nottingham nightclub Venus in the late 80s and went on to DJ there, and then make their own music together. Their latest release is a five track EP led by a slow paced, easy going Balearic dream called Return To Life

Californian Woolfy adds vocals to two of the songs (Save Me and very laid back grooves of Wonderful).  Closing track Cafe Con Leche drops spoken word samples- ‘when all this is over/ I plan to go north’, a female voice says, over acoustic guitars, washes of synth and some bongos. The whole thing is available to buy here


Their album Buzzard Country, a 2020 release I missed and only began playing a few weeks ago, has a similar palette, seven songs built around dubby basslines, shuffly rhythms, Spanish guitars, pianos and shimmering synths. Last song, Feedback Valley, is especially good, a languid glide around the coast on the edge of a desert, the heat of the day pouring upwards out of the tarmac. Get it here

It’s About Time The Sun Comes Up

It’s a month since I last posted anything by Andrew Weatherall and that’s too long a gap. Time for a remix, seven minutes of bliss and wide eyed abandon, the aural equivalent of sunrise after a night out that you don’t want to end. Brisbane’s Confidence Man, a male- female duo who make day glo, straight up, electro/ indie dance for nightclubs and festivals, released Out Of The Window in 2018, a poppy tribute to a night out that never ends and lyrics celebrating the joys of hedonism- ‘It’s about time the sun comes up/ We don’t wanna believe it/ Seven hours later I’m still up/ I can’t really see us sleeping’. 

Weatherall presses play on the steam powered drum machine, isolates and repeats extracts of the vocal, pulls in a gorgeous Hawaiian guitar lick, adds a pulsing synth topline and sends everything into ‘euphoric chugger’ mode, circling round a couple of key vocal phrases, one being the  ‘Slow down, carry me home/ Lights out, arms open wide/ Exhale, step inside’ part. When the beautiful, rising ecstatic/ melancholic chord sequence hits at five minutes thirty it’s almost too much to take but then the multi- tracked vocals take over to carry us home, ‘try to free my mind/ I only want a good time…’

Out Of The Window (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

I Know As Much As The Day I Was Born

This song has been posted at various blogs recently, many of them friends of this blog, but it seems tailor made for Bagging Area in many ways and it’s a feelgood, upbeat dance song for Friday- and we could all do with a bit of feelgood and upbeat for Friday. 

Hifi Sean (Sean Dickson) got hold of the master tapes of Fire Island’s 1998 cover version of Shout To The Top. Finding the original vocal part, sung by legend Loleatta Holloway, Sean re-wrote the track from the bottom up, in the end providing three different mixes- house, soul/ disco and orchestral horses for courses. Bassline, four on the floor, lovely late 80s pianos, strings, gospel backing vox and then Loleatta. Hands in the air. Hugging strangers. Lights come up. End of the night. Crowd spills out into the night.  

Hifi Sean was in a former musical life the frontman of The Soup Dragons, the original indie dance crossover band. His journey from there to here shouldn’t be too surprising given how enthusiastic he was about dance music back in 1989. The 1998 version of Shout To The Top isn’t too shabby either, the work of Fire Island aka Terry Farley and Pete Heller (both men the subject of various posts here in the last eleven years, Boy’s Own being one of the cornerstones of my record collection). Fire Island’s cover has a more NYC, Salsoul flavour. 

Shout To The Top (Fire Island Radio Edit)

Back in 1984 Shout To The Top was the seventh single released by The Style Council. By this point Paul Weller had put significant distance between his then current band and his previous one. Shout To The Top is a classic Style Council single, the equal of most things The Jam released- those staccato strings, the thumping pace, Weller’s vocal, the surge into the chorus. Shout To The Top, then and now, is hugely uplifting dance pop, a message of solidarity and determination and a refusal to beaten down in times of economic and political uncertainty- with a smile on its face. 

Shout To The Top