I Know The Place And I’m Going Home

Back at the start of lockdown in March, when the evenings were chilly and it was still going dark early and no one really knew what any of this was going to be like, I listened to an upload of an interview Nina Walsh did with an internet radio station (a Brighton based radio station I think). The interview was a couple of years old and some of what she discussed and played was put into stark light by the then recent passing of Andrew Weatherall. Some of what she played also struck a chord with me as I was finding bits and bobs of folk music were suiting the days and the times really well- Nick Drake for one which I wrote about here.

This song really grabbed me and I went and ordered a copy of the CD almost straight away. In 1992 Buffy Sainte- Marie, 60s folk and psychedelic pop singer and life long advocate of the rights of North America’s indigenous peoples, had entered artistic semi- retirement and spent much of the 1980s raising her son. Buffy was an early adopter of computers in home -recording and making art and her 1992 album was recorded at her home in 1990 and then sent to London for some further production and mixing via something called the internet, using something called a modum. The album- Coincidence And Likely Stories- her first for sixteen years, makes use of sequencers, programming and keyboards but is also an early 90s folk record, some traditional instruments, some New Age element and some early 90s sonics too. In places it is stunning, a moving and emotional comeback, with songs that deal with the plight of the Native Americans (Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee), politics, greed and big business. There’s nothing fey or timid about the album, Buffy’s songs are hard hitting, modernised folk music. Some of it sounds a bit too stuck in the early 90s now but this song made a deep impression, especially back in March when we were suddenly confronted with lockdown and everything it brought with it.

I’m Going Home

Gotta Get Out Now

Fresh from contributing to the soundtrack Killing Eve South London’s Fireflies released an e.p. at the start of the month called The Machine Stops. Recorded at Nina Walsh’s Facility 4 the e.p. is led by their spooked cover of Kip Tyler’s She’s My Witch. Tucked away at the end of the four songs is the fuzzed up, smouldering garage rock of Heidi, four minutes of snarl and menace, a song which blows my cobwebs away each time I play it, thumping drums, a vicious guitar solo and lyrics about escape.  The Machine Stops is at Bandcamp and there’s a video for Heidi here which isn’t available to embed at the moment.

Isolation Mix Eeleven

This week’s mix is made up entirely of songs released during lockdown, since mid- March 2020. Some of them have been written and recorded during this period. I could easily have doubled the length of this so maybe I’ll come back to this and do a part two. This one has the trippy psyche of Sonic Boom, dusty funk desert blues from Ess O Ess, some dubby jazz (or jazzy dub) courtesy of Jah Wobble, Number’s post- punk dance stance, yet more excellence from Weatherall and Walsh’s Woodleigh Research Facility, Justin Robertson and Sofia Hedblom’s blend of Nigerian rhythms and electronic dub, Dan Wainwright’s pagan chug and some Balearic bliss from Joe Morris, Rich Lane, The Long Champs and a cover by Rheinzand. There’s one segue which is a bit of a mess but it’ll have to do. Life has surface noise and all that.

Sonic Boom: Just Imagine
Ess O Ess and Saul Richards: Totem (Swamp Crawl)

Jah Wobble: Lockdown 5 (Forbearance)

Number: Red Flag

Woodleigh Research Facility: Karra Mesh

Formerlover: Correction Dub

Dan Wainwright: A Blessing

Joe Morris: The New Dawn Will Come

Rich Lane: Barry Island (The Long Champs Dub)

Rheinzand: All By Myself

Monday’s Long Song

Another Monday, another Weatherall remix. This one came out in 1995, a Sabres of Paradise remix of Fun>Da>Mental. At seven and a half minutes long it’s in no rush to get anywhere very quickly and has some very dusty and lazy sounds floating on top of the stoned groove. In fact, the title Mother In India (Sabres At Dusk Mix) is a pretty accurate description of what it sounds like.

Mother India (Sabres At Dusk Mix)

It was coupled with the eight minute Sabres At Dawn Mix, a similar but less sleepy version.

Mother India (Sabres At Dawn)

The sleeve listed inspirational mothers, sisters and daughters throughout history that Fun>Da>Mental wanted to pay tribute to, from Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto to Boudica, Marie Curie, Betty Shabazz, Joan of Arc, Miriam Makeba, Mahalia Jackson, Emily and Sylvia Pankhurst, Angela Davies, Harriet Tubman, Coretta Scott King and Alice Walker.

This remix was one of the last Sabres of Paradise ones and I’m sure I read somewhere recently that it was the first tie that Andrew and Keith Tenniswood really worked together one to one so in some ways the Two Lone Swordsmen were born here. In 1995 the Sabres studio was above a dry cleaners in Hounslow, on the Flightpath Estate and I can hear some of the sound of the first Two Lone Swordsmen album, 1996’s The 5th Mission (Return To The Flightpath Estate), in these two remixes.

To come bang up to date the fifth monthly Woodleigh Research Facility three track ep came out on Friday, a set of songs called Karra Mesh. Sonically and thematically the title track fits in very well with the two Fun>Da>Mental remixes above, the sounds he was exploring two and a half decades ago still circling.

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Isolation Mix 9- Weatherdub

It’s difficult to know where we are with isolation any more. Many people seem to be acting like it’s all over, parks are full of groups of people and social distancing is a thing of last month. The daily death toll doesn’t seem to be diminishing that much and in the north west we currently have the highest regional infection and death rate in the country. As the government brings about the end of lockdown in favour of the economy and to distract from the horrors of their mismanagement of the entire period, some people I’m sure will stay in and stay distanced. In our household we are shielding so our lives will carry on as before for the moment. God only knows where we go from here.

Isolation Mix 9 came partly from a comment I made at The Flightpath Estate, an Andrew Weatherall Facebook group where I promised a Weatherdub mix, and partly from Isolation Mix 6 three weeks ago, an hour of dub that had several of Lord Sabre’s fingerprints on it. There’s some crossover between that mix and this one but I chose the other Steve Mason remix and dropped the Sabres Of Paradise dub of Regret by New Order just for variety’s sake. This mix, an hour and a quarter of dub business from Andrew Weatherall as a solo artist, aided and abetted by Nina Walsh, as a remixer, as a Sabre Of Paradise and as an Asphodell, spans thirty years taking in songs from 1990 and 2020. There’s loads more that could have gone in but I thought I’d keep it compact.

Sabres Of Paradise: Ysaebud (From The Vaults)

Sabres Of Paradise: Return of Carter

Steve Mason: Boys Outside (Andrew Weatherall Dub 1)

Andrew Weatherall: Unknown Plunderer

Saint Etienne: Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Andrew Weatherall Mix)

Sabres Of Paradise: Edge 6

Andrew Weatherall: End Times Sound

Meatraffle: Meatraffle On The Moon (Andrew Weatherall Dub)

Richard Sen: Songs Of Pressure (The Asphodells Remix)

Andrew Weatherall: Kiyadub 45

Lark: Can I Colour In Your Hair? (Andrew Weatherall Version)

Planet 4 Folk Quartet: Message To Crommie

Stranger On The Shore

Michael Smith, writer and poet, worked with Andrew Weatherall in 2016. Weatherall had been offered the post of artist- in- residence at Faber & Faber. One of his projects was to provide an ambient soundtrack over which Smith read extracts from his novel Unreal City, his Hartlepool accent very striking over the soundscapes made by Andrew, Nina Walsh and guitarist Franck Alba. There was a limited edition book with Andrew’s handwritten notes in the margins, a CD of the soundtrack (six long ambient pieces with Michael Smith speaking over the top) and a 10″ record remixing one of the tracks, all released in one lovely package.

ONDON

Lost

Michael Smith moved to St. Leonards, a down- at- heel seaside town near Hastings and with Maxy Bianco made three films about three seaside towns, liminal places where the land meets the sea, where the rules are slightly different, and the people that live there. Andrew and Nina again produced a soundtrack. This is the Hastings and St. Leonards one….

The other two films explored Whitby, North Yorkshire and Grays in Essex. You can watch them at the BFI’s website.

Somnium

The monthly Woodleigh Research Facility e.p. releases keep coming even though Andrew has gone. Apparently the ones for April, May and June are already lined up. March’s three tracks appeared at the usual download sites on Friday along with a message-

‘We continue together in the here and now…’

The third of the three tracks is Somnium, a lilting, slightly melancholic thing with plucked notes, strings and a drum machine.

 

From Fort Beulah To Facility 4

Fort Beulah N.U. project was a secretive Andrew Weatherall project that started in 2017, a series of five one sided 12″ singles, with hand stamped centres and numbered and signed sleeves. Yes, I bought all five. Cottage industry dub, detours into ambient and semi- techno areas, weird meditative, tunes with strange vocal samples. I’m not sure exactly who the players and contributors are but the wonderful Nina Walsh was involved and various other people in the Woodleigh Research Facility orbit. I’m not usually one for copying and pasting press releases but in the absence of much else to go off will do so this time. This was issued prior to the release of 001 by Mr Weatherall:

”Fort Beulah N.U. is a collective of singers, players, sonic research operatives and Gnostic adventurers affiliated to the Woodleigh Research Facility. Fort Beulah N.U. would like to thank Heidi Barker for her vocals on F.B. 001…… Peace and unity is easier to achieve than those that profit from the lack of it would have you believe….”
Andrew Weatherall. June 2017.

The five Fort Beulah tracks are sequenced in order below by a kindly Mixcloud uploader and are a fine way to spend forty minutes.

Back in September 2017 this short video came out to promote 002 which seems to have been called Alain.

Another piece of the jigsaw (maybe)… Fort Beulah is a place in Vermont, the town at the centre of Sinclair Lewis’ 1936 novel It Can’t Happen Here, a satirical account of a demagogic politician taking the Presidency by storm in the 1930s with promises of American values, patriotism and a return to traditional values (written against a  backdrop of actual fascist dictators being in power in Europe). Whether this shadowy musical collective is named after the Fort Beulah of Sinclair Lewis’ novel and is therefore a sideways comment on Trump I don’t know. But it seems plausible.

Today is the day of Andrew’s funeral. In the words he’d use to sign off some of his messages and missives Jah bless to all, his family and friends and all those attending. Rest in peace Lord Sabre.

 

Uptown Approach

Some more Andrew Weatherall for your delectation. First is a reader request…

Uptown (Long After The Disco Is Over)

In 2008 Primal Scream released an album called Beautiful Future, an album I bought but have hardly played. I seem to remember Bobby Gillespie saying this was an album which had ‘sugar coated melodies’ or something similar. It came after Riot City Blues which was where I drifted away from the Scream- Country Girl was a pastiche of  pastiche and the rest of the album bar a couple of songs didn’t sink in. Having said that Beautiful Future’s follow up, More Light, five years later was the best Scream album since Evil Heat for me. Looking at the tracklisting for Beautiful Future now I can’t recall much about any of it, there are several collaborations (Josh Homme, Linda Thompson, Lovefoxx), but the bonus/ freebie cover of Urban Guerrilla and the instrumental Time Of The Assassin were both ok. Where Beautiful Future achieves its status is as the source material for one of Andrew Weatherall’s greatest remixes and in 2008 a sign that after a few quieter years he was back in the game. Uptown on the album is a Bobby Gillespie Saturday Night Fever tribute song. In Weatherall’s hands it becomes 21st century gold, a alchemist’s calling card. Opening with dub FX, echoes bouncing around and then Bobby cooing ‘you feel so good you never wanted to leave’, Uptown becomes a disco odyssey, clipped guitar, a sweet melodica line, four on the floor drums and a bassline from the centre of the club. Weatherall builds it over the ensuing nine minutes, layering sound, the riffs and melodies circling, noises ricocheting left and right, Bobby occasionally whispering ‘uptown’ and those melancholic, sweeping strings. At the heart of this disco is the eternal sadness of the hedonist, the realisation that the lights have to come on, the night will be over, the morning will come- the knowledge that chasing the magical moments on the floor cannot last forever but that while they last, they are bliss. Short lived bliss. It’s all in there.

Before his tragic passing just over a week ago Andrew and Nina Walsh had already lined up the second of the monthly Woodleigh Research Facility digital only e.p.s following January’s Into the Cosmic Hole. The second one is called Facility 4: Approach and brings us three more tunes from the end times soundsystem- Fume Homage, The Approach and Servant. The e.p. comes out tomorrow at all the usual digital places. The ghostly noises, the cavernous echo, the steam powered drum machine rhythms, the deep sea bass, the long synth sounds and little arpeggios, the sense of slight dislocation, all lingering on in his absence.

Facility 4

Maybe we should have just gone and had a Weatherall theme week. This is the new digital only monthly service from the Woodleigh Research Facility, out to buy on Friday- the first fruits are an e.p. called Into the Cosmic Hole. Three tracks for your pleasure, Birthday Three, Phonox Special No. 1 (Outer Space) and the title track Into The Cosmic Hole. Birthday Three is a wheezy drum machine and keyboard homage to Stockholm Monsters, Burnage’s finest. Phonox Special a haunted dancefloor number, with distorted voice, bleeps and a snare, sirens from Fad Gadget, a glide through the dark night. Into The Cosmic Hole is an expanse of pagan chanting, Nina Walsh’s voice and echo and delay on everything else.