Here Come The Warm Dreads

Coming out hot on the heels of his latest album Rainford, recorded with dub supremo Adrian Sherwood, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry has now put out a dub version of that album, with some new Scratch- Sherwood tracks, titled Heavy Rain. If all that weren’t enough the new album has a collaboration with Brian Eno, Here Come The Warm Dreads, a dubbed out Eno version of the track Makumba Rock. And that is your Friday soundtrack and earworm ordered and booked.

Waiting For A Message Of Some Kind Or Another

In 1981 David Byrne and Brian Eno released an album which they’d been working on since 1979. It still sounds remarkably fresh today, even if some of its key features and devices have become pop culture cliche- ranting evangelical preachers and TV announcers. I remember buying My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts in the late 80s and finding it bewitching and startling then and on Side A as funky and rhythmic a record as any contemporary ones. Eno and Byrne relied on some happy accidents, syncing up found voices with tape loops, dropping in rhythm tracks recorded using boxes and plastic containers as drums, recording people off the radio, but they also had some serious, heavy duty rhythm sections at their disposal too, Chris Frantz, Prairie Prince, Bill Laswell and Busta Jones. The opener was/is this one, a song that explodes out of the traps, bursts of bass and guitar and loops, ominous and tense but definitely capable of causing some shapes to be thrown.

America Is Waiting

Byrne was into the idea of the songs having vocals but not having to write any lyrics. As a vocalist he found he was expected to express himself through the words to a song. What he says he often found was that the music and the lyric triggered the emotion in him rather than the other way around. Using sampled and recorded voices (and this was pre- sample clearing days, which held up the release of Bush of Ghosts), voices where the speaker was already expressing high emotion such as preachers, in a different context, dropping them into music they’d already recorded, took the original voice and vocal elsewhere. This became standard, the sampling of voices and using them in dance records, but it’s pretty forward thinking here.

Side B is less voice focused and more moody, ambient and less based around rhythms to make the listener move. In 2008 a re issued CD version came with seven extra tracks. The running order and track selection of My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts changed several times during its conception and according to Byrne’s liner notes any of the extras could have made the final release if they hadn’t been constrained by the limitations of vinyl’s running time. This one starts with a burst of noise, silence and then a fade in, percussion, a repeated bass riff, a distorted noise, chimes and what could be a cuckoo clock. Short but intriguing. I wonder if the title refers to the then balance of power within Talking Heads and their producer (Eno and Byrne versus Weymouth, Frantz and Harrison).

Two Against Three

The Eagle Has Landed

 

Green Milkshake

I thought it was interesting that the message the two major political parties took from the local elections three weeks ago was that ‘the British public want Brexit got on with- get us out of the EU’. That I suppose was one interpretation, despite both of the them losing seats nationwide (Tory losses admittedly outstripping Labour losses by some distance). Another take on the results was that the parties that gained the most at the local elections were those explicitly taking a stance against Brexit, who have opposing Brexit as policy. Today we have European elections, three years after voting to leave which is a small victory in itself, and it seems that this is an ideal opportunity for those of us still against leaving the EU, those of us who have seen and heard nothing to convince us that leaving is in the national interest, to send a loud and clear message. The only way to do this is to vote for parties who have remaining in the EU as their policy.

The Tories want to leave, it’s their baby, they started digging the hole and have kept on shovelling. Labour, despite Keir Starmer’s efforts, are a leave party- it is party policy and they have spent the last three years fudging it. The ongoing attempt to appeal to both leavers and remainers, for fear of ‘losing the north’, is misguided and unprincipled (which is odd in itself for a party led by people for whom principles are supposedly the key to their politics). Labour’s stance on Brexit is political, has nothing to do with principles, and is failing. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will undoubtedly mop up lots of votes, from disillusioned Tories and ex-UKIPers, from people who voted Leave in the referendum but rarely otherwise vote and from Labour too. I’ve been told repeatedly in the media recently that having voted Labour at the 2017 general election (as I have throughout my adult life) that I am one of the 81% of British people who voted for a party who want Brexit. I’ve seen Farage staring down the camera telling me this even though I voted Labour despite their Brexit policy not because of it. That won’t be happening again. These are European elections that matter (for once), where our votes may count more than usual and where the whole election is about the future of Europe and our relationship with it.

The advice I’ve read is that if you want to vote for remain/oppose Brexit you should do the following depending on where you live- vote SNP if you live in Scotland, Plaid Cymru in Wales and either Lib Dem or Green if you live in England. I can understand why some people on the left will have a problem with voting Lib Dem, memories of the coalition lingering, but going off the local elections there are increasing numbers of people able to vote for them. There are plenty of good arguments for voting Green and their stance on Brexit is one of them- I voted Green at the local elections three weeks. Putting my X in a different box really wasn’t that difficult under the circumstances.

This is Brian Eno’s lovely piano remixed beautifully by Mojo Filter.

Another Green World (The Blue Realm)

While we’re in the political arena the rise of the milkshake as the weapon of choice against fascists and rabble rousers has been a real highlight of 2019. I know some people have said it adds little to public discourse, that reasoned debate and discussion should always be the way to win arguments, and that the throwing of milkshakes is the thin end of the wedge but these people – Farage and Tommy ‘Robinson’- have been spreading the seeds of hatred, xenophobia and racism in the public realm for years now and it’s no surprise that when faced with that some people will use more direct action. For two men who like to pose as outsider tough guys, they also go scuttling off quickly crying ‘foul’ when small quantities of dairy products are used against them. Violent language will always breed similar responses and you reap what you sow. Plus, it is very funny and maybe humiliating these people is the best way to deal with them. This article by Aditya Chakrabortty is a much better articulated piece about the milkshake spring. All of this can only be soundtracked by Kelis.

Milkshake

Green World Blue Realm

Back at the start of the decade I downloaded this song from a music blog (Davy H’s now defunct The Ghost Of Electricity).

Another Green World (The Blue Realm Remix)

Mojo Filter takes Brian Eno’s Another Green World, the Arena theme tune for those of a certain age, and gets it all loved up. The voice in the song says ‘L-O-V-E love’ and that’s largely what it sounds like. This is a piece of music so glorious, so uplifting, so beautifully out there, it should  be posted on an annual basis. As it is, I haven’t posted it since May 2012, for which I can only apologise. May 2012 seems like another world entirely doesn’t it? Six short years ago but a world away in many ways. You don’t need me to spell it.

Back in the mid 80s Alan Moore took Swamp Thing, a minor DC comics character and wrote a series of stories that redefined what comics could tackle. Illustrated by Steve Bissette and John Totleben it was a weird trip into all sorts of places comics didn’t really go including inter-species sexual relationships. In the edition from April 1984 Swamp Thing had to come to terms with the realisation that he wasn’t human, that he had lost his humanity and lived in the Green. Moore peppered his writing with pop culture references- this issue’s title was Another Green World. There’s a full account of the story of Swamp Thing #23 here. When I finally sold all of my comics Swamp Thing was one of a handful that I hung on to.

Today also happens to be my Dad’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Dad.

Music For Airports

In 1978 Brian Eno released Ambient 1: Music For Airports, an album designed to take away the anxiety of waiting to fly. Divided into four sections, each one layering tape loops of different lengths, it was one of the starting points for what became ambient music. The four tracks were meant to played in a loop and are all distinct from each other. In 1/1 a piano part is repeated and other instruments fade in and out, falling into and out of sync with each other, sounding very planned but no doubt full of happy accidents. Pleasingly, this week London City Airport has been playing the album in tribute to its fortieth birthday. Back in the late 70s Lester Bangs said the album had a ‘crystalline, sunlight-through-windowpane quality’ and I’m not going to do any better than that as a description.

Jez Kerr, bassist and singer of A Certain Ratio, posted this earlier this week, a very slowed down, time stretched version of the Music For Airports that lasts not for 48 minutes but for 6 hours. You will likely never play it through in its entirety but it is totally absorbing and demands your attention even though it is supposed to be background music.

Sister

Tracey Thorn’s new single Sister,  described by TT herself as ‘an eight minute feminist groove anthem’ with vocals from Corinne Bailey Rae and drums and bass from Stella and Jenny Lee from Warpaint, is out now. As the player below shows there are also two remixes from Andrew Weatherall, both long and spacey. The dub mix is particularly intense.

While we’re here Tracey’s vocal for Massive Attack’s Protection is right up there. All the mixes and versions are among the best things Tracey and Massive Attack ever did. This version, the Eno mix, from the 12″ single is nine minutes of ambience, warmth and protection.

Protection (The Eno Mix)