Swimming Not Skimming

I pulled out Two Lone Swordsmen’s 1996 double album Swimming Not Skimming at the weekend, a record I haven’t played for a long time. SNS was a mixture of new tracks from Weatherall and Tenniswood and some remixes. The vinyl always confused me- the tracklist and disc labelling was unclear and I wasn’t sure what the different tracks were called until I became acquainted with the cd version and then later the internet could confirm which track was which. Additionally the cd had 10 tracks to the vinyl version’s 7. Both formats have the same couple of remixes of stand-up bass tour de force Rico’s Helly, almost worth the price of admission on their own. I was half tempted to post the whole thing but it is still available to buy digitally so decided against it. Here’s a couple of tasters, one from the vinyl/cd and one from the cd alone.

This is the one that grabbed me most at the weekend. Blu Jack And Florence is extremely high quality machine funk, riding in on a mechanical rhythm. The bass hits at fifteen seconds and then the keyboards play around over the top. Wait for the synth strings come in at around 3.30. Hair-raising. The drums doubles up and it powers forward unrelenting.

Blu Jack And Florence

In The Nursery Visit Glenn Street was only on the cd (along with the lovely ambient opener Azzolini Ad the Branch Brothers Meet Being), a remix by In The Nursery (who had previously done a lovely, slightly spooky remix of Haunted Dancehall). Klive and Nigel Humberstone pull out the bassline and some ambient bubbling and add sweeping strings, a cinematic and celestial track to counter Blu Jack And Florence’s more earthbound, booty shaking appeal.

In The Nursery Visit Glenn Street

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Paisley

I don’t know if this is an idea that could run or not but…

This song off Prince’s 1985 album Around The World In A Day came up recently and knocked me sideways a little- genuine lightfooted brilliance, a mid-80s funked version of 60s pop-psychedelia about the joys of childhood.

Paisley Park

‘Admission is easy, just say you
Believe and come to this
Place in your heart
Paisley Park is in your heart’

In 1996 the first full length Two Lone Swordsmen album, The Fifth Mission (Return To the Flightpath Estate), contained this track as its closing statement, a loopy, stoned trip through the aforementioned flightpath estate at dawn. The synth chord sequence just after two minutes, and then recurring throughout the eight minutes plus, is rather wonderful.

Paisley Dark

Swordsmen On The Road

Back in the middle of the last decade Two Lone Swordsmen mutated into a live garage rock ‘n’ roll band with Andrew Weatherall on vocals, Keith Tenniswood on guitar and a bunch of friends helping out including Chris Mackin (Chris Rotter) on guitar and Nick Burton on drums. I saw them play at Sankey’s but have no photographs. Who took pictures at gigs in 2007? Not me. These two live songs from when they played Brighton have come my way recently and thought some of you might be interested. First up is their speedy cover of the Gun Club’s Sex Beat, which in studio version was on The Double Gone Chapel album.

Sex Beat (Live in Brighton)

Feast was on the Big Silver Shining Motor Of Sin ep, a four track vinyl release in 2004, a scuzzy, amped up tale of handing over cash to the doctor, over a building wall of sheet metal guitar noise. ‘Ein, zwei, drei, vier…’

Feast (Live in Brighton)

Lino Squares

Shall we do something really obscure from the back catalogue of Andrew Weatherall? In 1997 Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood moonlighted from their day job as Two Lone Swordsmen to put out a double vinyl, six track e.p. as Lino Squares. The record came out on Humboldt County Records and had various spelling/punning titles- the e.p.’s title was The Role Of Linoleum and included tracks called Neuphrique, Phrique Out and Blue Pole Dancer. Musically we get deep house, minimal electro and minimal deep house electro. This one, Tidy Unit, has a smart breakbeat, crashing percussion and some whooshey noises. Rather fine I think.

Tidy Unit

Blue Pole Dancer has pots and pans style drums, a nice one fingered keyboard part and a disembodied female vocal. A bit moody.

Blue Pole Dancer

Dub Tuesday

Tuesday calls for dub, dunno why, it just does. This is a recording of Radioactive Man’s dub dj set supporting Pitch Black in London in July. Over the course of an hour and a half it goes deep into dub and echo, rimshot and strange smelling smoke, including Sly and Robbie, Grace Jones, Lee Perry, Ini Kamoze, Adrian Sherwood, Colourbox, Aswad, Toots and The Maytals, Johnny Osbourne, Peaking Lights and Dub Syndicate. Highly recommended.

Swordplay

I’ve got two fairly obscure remixes from the minimal techno/electro days of Two Lone Swordsmen for you today, both rediscovered in the last couple of weeks. The first is typical of Weatherall and Tenniswood’s sound in 1997, a remix of Kingston by 4AM (released on a Glasgow Underground sampler). Nine minutes long, the beat is stiff and unchanging but over the top all kinds of sounds are allowed to come in and out, some of the sub-aquatic and ambient Swordsmen sounds, some Detroit influenced stuff and also what sounds like a flute. Back in 97 I was a bit non-fussed by this one but right now I like this machine funk headnodder a lot.

Kingston (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix) 

Also from 1997 is this remix of Clarisse C, a track by The Money Penny Project (as far as I can tell the recording name for French dj and producer Benoit Bellini). This is a funkier affair, all twelve minutes of it, twisting and turning, constantly led forward by that drum machine. Takes you out and then brings you back in again.

Clarisse C (Two Lone Swordsmen Double Mutator Mix)

1973

Beth Orton is back and has put away the acoustic guitar and replaced it with synths and programmed drums. One half of Fuck Buttons, Andrew Hung, is on production if you need another reference to convince you to give it a listen. 1973 is a sumptuous piece of electronica, with an 80s groove and Beth’s sweet vocals. Her first album Trailer Park had production by Weatherall and William Orbit and this song revisits those and updates them in fine style. Album Kidsticks is out at the end of the month. The video is seductive too, all warm and hazy Californian sun drenched colours…

And this one from 2002 fits right in with it too, Anywhere, remixed beautifully and minimally by Two Lone Swordsmen.

Anywhere (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix)