Discrete Machines

Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones, the duo that were/are Balearic heroes A Man Called Adam, have been recording more recently as Discrete Machines using iPads and mini-controllers and an improvisational approach. A mini-album came out in 2015 and opened with this wonderful seven minute tribute to the ladies of electronica (Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and Pauline Oliveros) set to an Afrobeat. There’s something about this which is totally entrancing. The rest of the album is equally good, inventive and fresh, minimal and loungey, a bit of krautrock, some poetry- definitely from over there, outside the mainstream. It includes a song called Stockhausen’s Cardigan which is reason enough to give it a go. You can buy it here.

The Apple

I got back into A Man Called Adam’s debut album a few weeks ago and some of its songs are really sticking with me. I’m not sure it’s a full lost classic and it did seem a bit underwhelming when it came out back in 1991 but I think it’s got a lot going for it- maybe it’s just where my musical head is at right now. Barefoot In The head is an undeniable Balearic classic and Chrono Psionic Interface is a trippy treat too (plus those outstanding Weatherall mixes). The whole album is a brave attempt to pull all those hippy-acid house Ibizan vibes together. Bread, Love And Dreams calls for some kind of revolution as the sun goes down at the Cafe del Mar. Midieval has a lovely groove and Righteous Life is a beauty too, the Roland 909 thumping away as Sally sings her heart out. Opener and title track The Apple is my current one to go to- starting out with street and traffic soundsand the bass drum, the synths join in and then the vocals start with ‘pick up the pieces of your day’. Stabs of synth strings add some drama and arms are raised aloft as it builds, full of early 90s optimism, positivity and warmth. The vinyl ended with Barefoot but the cd release added the chart aiming single I Want To Know. You might have a copy filed away unplayed for two decades. If not you can pick up  a copy second hand pretty cheaply. It’s probably at the download store of your choice too. Worth revisiting I think.

The Apple

Bay Watch

It’s still the Easter holidays here and while I’m back to school on Monday my kids have another week off. I’m dragging the holiday feel out while I can before commuting and targets and suit and tie take over again. The picture shows Cayton Bay, a beautiful beach just south of Scarborough. We popped down at sunset a couple of nights ago. There was even someone surfing. And an abandoned pill box, ready to repel Nazi invaders from across the North Sea in the 1940s, redecorated recently by local youth.

So beaches, tides coming in, Eastertime, my recent posts of early-to-mid 90s dance music… all lead to A Man Called Adam. I’ve posted some of their stuff before- Barefoot In the Head, CPI, Estelle- and this is another one to add to their list of top moments.

Easter Song

Godiva

A Man Called Adam’s sunset hour Balearic house-inflected songs, their best stuff at any rate, are a treat at any time of year. Here in northern England we currently have cold, with some snow, sleet and all sorts of wintry stuff. Mr Andrew Weatherall, mentioned once or twice in these parts, did several remixes of A Man Called Adam’s Chrono Psionic Interface. The Godiva and Dodivor remixes are both very good, long and lush and spacey. Embarrassingly I bought a five track 12″ vinyl ep in Chorlton’s King Bee records a few months ago and got home to find I had all the mixes on one or another 12″ singles already. Now I’ve got them with a slightly different cover, which isn’t a bad thing I suppose.

CPI (Godiva Mix)

Lady Godiva performed a naked protest against regressive taxation of the workers. Today this would wind you up in prison rather than celebrated in a pre-Raphaelite painting.

This afternoon and tonight we are at a family party, twenty seven of us in total, ranging in age from a few months old up to ninety five. The chances are someone will fall out with somebody.

Folky

A few years ago I had an idea that doing house music songs, especially vocal sample led ones, on an acoustic guitar could work well (if done well obviously. It could be really horrible in some peoples’ hands)- Pump Up The Volume, Theme From S’Express, Cowgirl, those kind of songs.

This came my way on Monday via the social media platform of regular reader/internet friend Paul Bob Horrocks and it’s really nicely done- a version of A Man Called Adam’s Barefoot In The Head by The Balearic Folk Orchestra, using voice, acoustic guitar and strings. Reflective and just right for these days.

My Mind’s Wide Open Baby

This is another song I’ve posted before, back in 2011 which is practically neolithic in blogging terms. I’ve long been partial to the Balearic dance-pop of A Man Called Adam. Barefoot In The Head is a staple of chill out compilations but that shouldn’t prejudice you against the song- it is a beautiful record. Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones made up A Man Called Adam but Paul Daley worked on this too, before leaving for Leftfield.

Barefoot In The Head (12″ Mix)

Sally Rodgers wrote the lyrics by cribbing pagan translations of the poetry of Robert Graves (or so it says at both the Museum of British Pop Culture and wiki). It also turns out that…

‘Rodgers is conducting doctoral research in modern poetics at the University of St Andrews and Jones recently gained an MSc in sound design from the University of Edinburgh. Together they continue to work as sound designers on museum, film and theatrical commissions, notably the BME – a museum charting the history of British music from the end of World War II, and The British Museum’s major new exhibition Journey to the afterlife: The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Their music continues to be licensed all over the world for film, television and release.’


You don’t get that from ex-members of Oasis. 

Estelle

I don’t know what this pair of beauties from the 1920s are doing but I kind of like it. Arty photo shoots with whatever props happened to be found in the room are clearly not a late 20th century invention.

Mrs Swiss is off on a hen do this weekend, in Leeds (‘2 Es and LSD’ the Leeds clubbing t-shirts used to read, back in the early 90s). So I’m on my own with the kids, trawling the record shops and idling watching people go by from cafe windows, trying to occupy two children with very different ideas about what we should be doing.

There’s snow forecast for the north before the end of November. It’s a bit early to be mentioning snow. This is my favourite tune by A Man Called Adam, the sound of Saturdays, terrace bars and sunshine.

Estelle