Virus And Tantra

David Harrow, resident of Los Angeles and purveyor of fine dub since the days of On U Sound in the late 80s, has been unleashing weekly releases into the ether, digital dub with acres of wide open space and pressure. The latest one, PurpleCircle (Virus Dub 5), is a delight and is on Bandcamp here. The previous week was Maskup (Virus Dub 4), all smoke, echo, bass and melodica. Nod your head here. They’re a dollar each, roughly 98 pence for those of us in the UK.
Less laid back but just as transportative is David’s work in the mid- 90s as Technova (recording for Andrew Weatherall’s Sabres Of Paradise and Emissions Audio Output labels. Andrew and David began to work together after bumping into each other London’s clubs. When David said he had some music recorded Andrew said he’d put it out on Sabres without even hearing it). Tantra, a 1994 12″ single and album, is especially good. This is the full twenty one minutes of Tantra, a late night, post club dub techno excursion.
On the B-side Innersphere remix Tantra as Tantrum, ten minutes of trancey- techno workout. Nothing wrong with some techno for Tuesday is there? Certainly puts your head in a different place and shifts things up a gear.

One Dream Is Over Another One Begins

 

Simeon Coxe of Silver Apples has died aged 82. In the late 60s he pioneered a form of electronic music that has become massively influential. Using homemade synths, a salvaged 1940s oscillator and a visionary sense of what he could do Simeon made a new type of music, music we take for granted today, but which in the late 60s and early 70s was like a very quiet, hypnotic revolution. Just Simeon’s voice, some synth lines and keyboards, basslines triggered by his own controllers and foot  pedals (all cased in boxes bought from army surplus) and a drummer. The lyrics are like little lysergic haikus, transmissions from out there. Gently psychedelic, space age pop music and optimistic, open ended futurism. Try these two for size.

Oscillations

Seagreen Serenades

Without Silver Apples Spacemen 3, Spectrum, Broadcast, Stereolab and Portishead would all have sounded very different. Andrew Weatherall was a fan- in fact it may have been due to him playing them or mentioning them in an interview that I first heard them. In 2019 Weatherall remixed Edge Of Wonder, a song from the 2016 Clinging To A Dream album. Weatherall’s wheezy drum machine sets us off on a nine minute journey, melodies dancing about and a bumpity bassline carrying the song. Simeon sings a hymn to the oceans, a meditation on the waves, the lines chopped up and re- arranged

‘Waves
Neptune’s metronome
Relentless heartbeat of the sea
One dream is over
Another one begins
Lingering on the edge of wonder’

Edge Of Wonder (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

R.I.P. Simeon.

Lone Swordsman

Daniel Avery has a new record out in October, an intense and affecting techno/ ambient album produced in lockdown. Ahead of it he has just released this, a tribute to his friend and mentor Andrew Weatherall called Lone Swordsman…

Daniel said “I was in my studio the morning I heard about Andrew Weatherall’s passing. The track Lone Swordsman is what formed that day. Andrew was a hero, a friend and someone who regularly reminded us all how it should be done, not to mention the funniest fucker around. Proceeds from this record will be donated to Amnesty International in his memory. Thank you for everything.”

It is a moving and heartfelt piece of machine music, long waves of synth and a drumbeat with a rising and falling bleepy melody riding on top. The only drawback is that it is too short- it could happily be double the length.

Downhill

Out today from Woodleigh Research Facility, the latest monthly emission from Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh. As there have been every month since January, when Andrew was still very much with us, there are three songs here available from the usual digital outfitters.

Where Nobody Else is superb science fiction ambient techno, Nina’s disembodied voice over the top, like a strange tannoy announcement, ‘it’s time to go’, over and over.

Lottie’s Theme starts with a child’s voice and then drums, metallic sounds and industrial noise, seven minutes of insistent rhythms and sounds before the child, presumably Lottie, returns at the end.

Downhill was on a WRF mix a few years ago and it’s exciting that it’s finally getting a proper release. WRF pound out more of their spooked, throbbing sounds as a vehicle for voice and poetry of Joe Duggan. Over a marching beat and repeating bass wobble Joe describes the walk from his house to the pub ‘from where I live, it’s downhill all the way’. More rhythm, more space and more echo and Joe’s Derry tones, ‘Has anyone seen Joe? Where’d he go?’

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Dissident Again

Glok’s Dissident album was one of my favourites of last year. It has just been joined by a companion album, eleven remixes of songs from the original. One of them, the Leaf edit, came out last year but the rest are all new and of a very high standard. It occurred to me when the vinyl arrived that this will be one of the last times a new track is released bearing the words Andrew Weatherall Remix in brackets after it. Andrew’s remix of Cloud Cover is a slowed down, chilly, electronic groove, ghostly synths and deep bass and a rattling snare drum, the sound of high rises and underpasses.

There’s plenty else to get into across the double vinyl/ eleven digital songs. Andy Bell’s own fifteen minute remix of Pulsing is a joy, quarter of an hour of ambient/ shoegaze crossover. The Minotaur Shock Remix of Weaver and C.A.R. remix of the same song take the same source material and end up in very different places with it. Timothy Clerkin’s new version of Projected Sounds is a stunner, an intense acid crawl with trippy backing vocals and buzzsaw synths.

Richard Sen’s eight minute remix of the title track opens the album, a dark, heavy groove with guitars and spaced out sounds bouncing around, the wah wah riff dropping in and out, skyscraping solo notes and a juddering bass riff, a remix designed for soundsystems in the woods long after dark.

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)

Denise Johnson

It was genuinely shocking and so sad to read yesterday afternoon of the sudden death of Denise Johnson. Denise was a feature of the Manchester music scene for the last three decades and her voice is scattered through my record collection, from Hypnotone’s Dream Beam in 1990 to singing on Primal Scream’s Screamadelica album, especially Don’t Fight It, Feel It single, the wondrous Screamadelica song from the 1992 e.p. and the Give Out But Don’t Give Up lp (and the recently released original version The Memphis Recordings where her voice really shines), Electronic’s 1991 single Get The Message and then the many years she spent singing as a member of A Certain Ratio. Her voice is all over the ACR: MCR album and the Won’t Stop Loving You single and it’s remixes, all personal favourites. She sings on Ian Brown’s Unfinished Monkey Business (the first and best Ian Brown solo album). In 1994 she released a solo single Rays Of The Rising Sun, a song with Johnny Marr on guitars and with an epic thirteen minute remix by The Joy.

Rays Of The Rising Sun (The Joy Remix)

In the last few years I’ve seen Denise sing with ACR on several occasions, at Gorilla (above), in Blackburn, at the university and The Ritz (below). She was always an engaging stage presence, smiling and waving at people in the front row. What’s particularly cruel about her passing now is that ACR have a new album ready for release in the autumn and she had very recently announced the imminent release of her debut solo album, a collection of cover versions of songs, just her voice and acoustic guitar.

Her singing with Primal Scream, especially on this song, was a breakthrough for the group. No Bobby Gillespie, no guitars, just Denise’s voice and Andrew Weatherall and Hugo Nicolson’s production- that juddering rhythm, house pianos and those spacey noises and Denise singing ‘rama lama lama fa fa fi/ I’m gonna get high ’til the day I die’. The remix for the 12″ was even better and further out than the single mix, her voice chopped up, rejigged and sprinkled throughout the song.

Don’t Fight It, Feel It (Scat Mix)

At all their recent gigs A Certain Ratio have finished their set with Shack Up, their cover of Banbarra’s funk song, remade in early 80s Manchester as scratchy, punk- funk song. THis clip shows them back in 1990 on MTV, Denise centre stage…

Denise used to live round the corner from us and we were on smiling and saying hello terms but not much more than that. At ACR’s gig at The Band On The Wall in 2002 launching their Soul Jazz compilation, the moment when they really began to get recognition for their role and music, she clocked us from the stage and winked and smiled. She was an active and lovely presence on Twitter, always positive and giving her views on politics, football and music. She came across as a genuine, friendly and lovely person. Social media was awash with tributes to Denise yesterday and reactions to the awful news and from people who were close to her and who worked with her. She was spoken of with real warmth and it was clear what she meant to people. She will be hugely missed. I’m sure everyone will join in sending their condolences to her family, friends and bandmates. What a shitty year 2020 has been.

RIP Denise.

Isolation Mix 15: Songs The Lord Sabre Taught Us Part Two

Two weeks ago I posted my fourteenth Isolation Mix, The Songs Lord Sabre Taught Us, an hour of music from Andrew Weatherall’s record box, as featured on his radio shows, playlists, interviews and mixes, mixed together seamlessly (vaguely). Today’s mix is a second edition, fifteen songs he played, raved about or sampled, most of them first heard via him (I was listening to Stockholm Monsters before I was a fan of Mr Weatherall, a long lost Factory band who made a bunch of good singles and a fine album called Alma Matter and also the best band to come out of Burnage). It’s a tribute to the man and his record collection that there are so many great records from his back pages to sift through and then sequence into some kind of pleasing order. Rockabilly, dub, Factory, post- punk, krautrock legends, Weller spinning out through the Kosmos…

Cowboys International: The ‘No’ Tune
Sparkle Moore: Skull And Crossbones

The Pistoleers: Bank Robber

The Johnny Burnette Trio: Honey Hush

Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze: Dubwise

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry: Disco Devil

African Head Charge: Dervish Chant

Big Youth: Hotter Fire

Colourbox: Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse

Stockholm Monsters: All At Once

Holger Czukay, Jah Wobble and Jaki Liebezeit: How Much Are They?

White Williams: Route To Palm

Paul Weller: Kosmos (Lynch Mob Bonus Beats)

A R Kane: A Love From Outer Space

Chris And Cosey: October (Love Song) ‘86

Do It Long Long

This has bubbling around on social media and some DJ mixes for a few weeks and has now been released digitally with a vinyl release to follow- Ewan Pearson’s remix of Hallelujah, the lead song from the Mondays breakthrough release at the tail end of the 80s, the Madchester Rave On e.p. Across three different mixes Ewan has taken parts from the 7″ version (the MacColl mix where Kirsty’s husband Steve Lillywhite pushed her backing vocals forwards a bit and smoothed out some of the sheer lunacy of the Mondays’ sound in ’89) and some of the Club Mix (where Paul Oakenfold and Andrew Weatherall sampled some chanting monks, added some Italo piano stabs and dusted it down for dance floors) and added a snippet of Tony Wilson talking about twenty- four track recording. Shaun sounds as dangerous and off it as he did thirty years ago over the enormous re- figured bassline and Mark Day’s guitar lines still sound unique. The past rebuilt for the present. Double double good.

Given that this song was produced in its original mix by Martin Hannett, sung on by Kirsty MacColl, released on Tony Wilson’s record label and remixed by Andrew Weatherall it’s also a tribute to four people who have gone before their time.

This five minute edit version is good, a five minute bug eyed dance but if you’re going to go full Bez you’re going to want the nine minute mix, available from all the usual places. There’s a nine minute dub mix too.

Just so you can compare and contrast, here’s the Oakenfold/ Weatherall remix from 1990, the Monday’s ramshackle Little Hulton funk streamlined and intensified, hypnotically.

Hallelujah (Club Mix)

An Audience With…

After last month’s Flightpath Estate Zoom meeting with Hugo Nicolson (Andrew Weatherall’s engineer and co-producer on Screamadelica, One Dove and a host of classic late 80s/ early 90s remixes) another Andrew Weatherall collaborator, David Harrow, offered to spend an evening talking to anyone who was interested in listening. On Wednesday night a group of us listened to David talk at length- he said at one point ‘I warned you I can talk’- about his life, from London in the 80s to LA now, a fascinating account of a life spent in music, at times living in a fairly hand- to- mouth kind of way, trying to make a living from what you love. He talked about the problems encountered when musicians have to decide whose work the music is, who contributed what and who gets credited, whose name goes on the front of the record and whose goes in small letters on the back and how this is a big deal when you’re young and hungry- and the problems those things can cause. He found his way in to music working with Anne Clark and then Jah Wobble. David spent a few years in the second half of the 1980s in West Berlin, asking for his tour pay and passport when a tour he was part of the band for ended in the divided city (an Anne Clark tour I think). He described his life as a ‘full on West Berlin goth’ and then his re- entry into London, first with Wobble, and then as acid house kicked off a visit to Shoom and The Clink and the subsequent change in outlook, mood and dress. In a matter of weeks he went from the long black hair and leather trousers of Berlin to brightly coloured cycling jerseys and caps, and the accompanying changes in drug of choice. David ended up not being invited to be part of Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart band and looking for something else began to work with Adrian Sherwood and On U Sound. He talked in depth about his role at On U Sound, what he learnt from watching Adrian Sherwood and working with him and the combustible mix of characters that made up the On U Sound groups- the On U Sound touring sound system, Dub Syndicate, African Head Charge, Tackhead, Gary Clail (and there was much about Gary and the situation that developed there). David’s role in the On U Sound world was pretty central, playing keyboards (and being shown how to do this ‘properly’ by one of the On U team at one point), songwriting, programming and co- producing.

David and Andrew Weatherall’s paths crossed in London in the early 90s and they worked together at various points. In 1990 David produced the London group Deep Joy, a three piece fired up by the acid house revolution and its possibilities. David’s produced their song Fall which was remixed by Weatherall, a chunky 1990 floor filler with saxophone, a choppy guitar riff, some Italo piano, an example of Weatherall’s expansive widescreen remix style in full effect.

Fall (Let There Be Drums)

Fall (Chunky Vocal)

Andrew said he’d release David’s own music on his label, putting out various Technova releases on Sabres Of Paradise, memorably the Tantra 12″ and Tantric album. They went on to develop the Blood Sugar sound, minimal, deep house/ techno, gritty but seductive music for nights in dark basements. David recalled Andrew telling him in the studio that they could only have four musical elements in a track at any one time and that if they wanted to bring another element in, something else had to be removed from the mix, the sort of detail that when you then go back and listen to Blood Sugar’s Levels double pack or the releases they made together as Deanne Day, illuminates the music and its creation.

There are many parts of the story I can only remember sketchily- I should have taken notes I suppose. David wrote Your Loving Arms for Billie Ray Martin (a worldwide hit thanks to its inclusion on multiple compilations), a song David described as financially ‘the best forty five minutes work I’ve ever done’. He talked about his decisions with humour and occasionally a rueful smile. He played keytar bass for Bjork but then turned down the position doing that on an eighteen month tour. He advised Tackhead singer Bernard Fowler not to take up the position of backing singer for The Rolling Stones (Bernard has sung back up for The Stones worldwide since the 90s and now lives among the super rich in LA). He found another musical life after hearing drum and bass and beginning to make music under the name James Hardway, a jazz/ drum and bass project that brought success around the world. He talked about his devastation at the death of Jamaican singer Bim Sherman in 2000 and his subsequent move to Los Angeles. This track has recently been finished, a song with the late Bim Sherman on vocals, remixed by The Orb, and it hits all the spots you’d expect it to.

David has continued to put music out. Sitting in his studio talking to us he laughed about the amount of technology available now compared to the kit available thirty years ago- a sampler, a drum machine, some records, a keyboard. David continues to make music as Oicho, and with Ghetto Priest, and has just put several dubs recorded during lockdown onto Bandcamp. This one, Main Earth Dub, has an elastic bassline, some distant percussion and then some of those rattling snares and kickdrums, dub techno sounds that aren’t a million miles from the Blood Sugar sound of the mid 90s.

101 Steps (Lockdown 2) is cut from similar cloth, a deep, dubby, experimental drive round a city at night, the echo and stop- start rhythms building the tension.

David talked to us for what ended up being three hours, taking questions and speaking honestly about his life making music since the early 80s. There’s loads more he talked about that I haven’t mentioned not least his time with Psychic TV (a big influence on Andrew Weatherall too), the gentrification of Los Angeles, the club Flying Lotus emerged from and Billie Eilish and her mum, and some I’ve left out, but it was an entertaining and fascinating way to spend a Wednesday night.