Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Album for After Midnight #002: Lali Puna - Our Inventions [2010; Morr Music]

Our second installment in the Albums for After Midnight series is the fourth release from German electronic dream-poppers, Lali Puna.  "Our Inventions" was released in 2010 on the Morr Music imprint.

The embedded playlist contains the entire album to enjoy at your will. Or else.x

A to A #001 — Dolly Parton to Dolly Parton in 21 links.

In the first (and inevitably last) of its kind, observe how Dolly Parton has had an indelible effect and influence upon the careers of some of the finest tune-conjurers of the last fifty years. Indeed, if I was a betting man — and I am — I'd probably be in the betting office right now, spending all of my hard-stole cash on horses and dogs bearing curiously "meaningful" allusions to time-travelling breast implant symbiosis.

Dolly Parton, 1994.

109 year-old Dolly Parton famously recorded 'Islands In The Stream' with country bumpkin Kenny Rogers, whose brother, producer Lelan Rogers, worked for Houston, Texas independent label International Artists during the late '60's, a label that housed psychedelic spartans The Red Crayola for years, a group fronted by the inimitable Mayo Thompson, who, in the hazy doldrums of the 1990s, met avant-garde musician David Grubbs (of Squirrel Bait, Gastr Del Sol and Bastro) before wisely following the latter's recommendation to reform the Red Crayola (as Red Krayola) and release new material on legendary Chicago label Drag City, whose first release was a 1990 single (DC1) by Royal Trux, a two-piece co-fronted by experimental bozo Neil Hagerty, who featured on Washington D.C. "funk-punk" band Weird War's 2002 self-titled record, an outfit ("outfit?!") that currently includes drummer Argentine Sebastian from (actual) post-rock three-piece Trans Am, who've been fortunate to release each of their nine studio albums through New York City's finest Thrill Jockey, a label tentatively established in the early nineties by Bettina Richards, a former A&R lackey for Atlantic Records, a major label that's worked closely with a number of independent labels such as Must Destroy, a UK-based imprint that had the nerve to discover (never) comedic (c)rap ensemble Goldie Lookin' Chain, who, of their eight "members" (including the visionary Eggsy and the notoriously unpredictable 2Hats) also features "34th Least Charismastic of the last 100 years" Maggot, who appeared on the fourth series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, finishing third place behind Michael "Get in the pool, awright?" Barrymore and — eventual winner/loser — Chantelle Houghton, who, if her fake breasts are anything to go by, has fake tits just like "biggest knockers in Nashville" Dolly Parton.

In other words, it's a small world! Now to the betting office ...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Breadcrumb Trail on Feile FM — artistes "played".

In case you can't sleep at night (besides the depression and the "worries" brought on from your new "career" in prostitution), here's a relatively symmetrical list of the the artists/bands/phoneys ("Hey mom, I've just finished reading Catcher In The Rye so, like, refuse to eat dinner today.") we played on the Breadcrumb Trail. Rest in Peace, Feile 103.2 FM (and by "peace", I mean "West Belfast").

Seriously, though, as Ned Ryerson wisely informs Phil in 'Groundhog Day':

"Watch out for that first step.
It's a doozie!"

Yeah, how's about the shutting the fuck up, Ned?

Labradford, Can, Quasi, Ametsub, Hidden Orchestra, Ulrich Schnauss, Taylor Deupree, Forest Swords, Pink & Brown, Don Caballero, Low, Of Montreal, Tindersticks, Yo La Tengo, The For Carnation, Fly Pan Am, Ojos De Brujo, Efterklang, Walls, Chet Atkins, Four Tet, Oriol, Earth, Bardo Pond, Mulatu Astatke, Department of Eagles, Baths, Funkadelic, Brokeback, Autechre, Captain Beefheart, Ebola, Dub Colossus,Youngblood Brass Band, Lusine, Shogun Kunitoki, Dakota/Dakota, Geskia, Roel Funcken, Múm, Nadja, Grails, Malajube, Gonjasufi, The Monochrome Set, Do Make Say Think, Aphex Twin, All Smiles, Beach House, Tonstartssbandht, Deerhunter, No Age, Burial, The Zombies, My Bloody Valentine, Graham Coxon, Stereolab, Grasscut, Eyehategod, Isotope 217, Mogwai, Lali Puna, Mission of Burma, Wire, Bark Psychosis, Squarepusher, Neu!, PVT, Ylid, Tuxedomoon, The Books, krill.minima, John Coltrane, Arvo Part, K.C Accidental, Tim Koch, Onra, Sleepy Town Manufacture, Shellac, Amorphous Androgynous, Growing, Sebadoh, Wildach Sonnerkraut, Hauschka, RJD2, Ed Harcourt, Soul Coughing, Marissa Nadler, Olof Arnalds, Kriipis Tulo, Radiohead, Efterklang, Laura Veirs, Eric Dolphy, Valgeir Sigurdsson, Myrakaru, Tortoise, Aereogramme, Silver Apples, Bundy K. Brown, The Slits, The Budos Band, The Spinto Band, Pixies, Husker Du, Yppah, Tim Hecker, Hammock, Shrinebuilder, Metro Manila Aide, Amon Tobin, Solar Bears, Blockhead, Mclusky, Television, The Soft Machine, Lemon Jelly, The Cows, Bullion, Pele, Tracer AMC, Herbie Hancock, Battles, James Blake, Dustin Wong, Beirut, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Ben Frost, Pedro The Lion, Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Exploding Star Orchestra, Wooden Shjips, CW Stoneking, King Crimson, Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti, Yoshihiro Hanno, Black Sheep, David Grubbs, VHS Head, Blue Daisy, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Skull Defekts, James Blackshaw, Jacaszek, Neil Young, Bygones, Jesus Lizard, Deerhoof, Barn Owl, Rory Gallagher, Bibio, Manual, Atlas Sound, EL-P, Acid King, John Carpenter, Ween, Boris, Flying Lotus, Eskmo, Lightning Bolt, Janelle Monae, Walter Carlos, AFX, Ghosts & Vodka, Toe, Red House Painters, Leadbelly, Bert Jansch, Easy Star All-Stars, The Melvins, Noveller, Dirty Three, The Fall, Stars Of The Lid, Jon Hopkins, Caribou, Gyratory System, Portishead, Kelpe, Vincent Gallo, Sebastien Tellier, Polvo, The Stooges, Bonobo, Om, Wolf Eyes, The Flaming Lips, Seams, Darkstar, Tera Melos, Hype Williams, Animal Collective, Piglet, Rustie, Boards Of Canada, Lorn, The Black Angels, Intelligence, Sonic Youth, Zach Hill, The Bad Plus, Grass Widow, Blue Aeroplanes, Wet Hair, Times New Viking, Fugazi, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Paul White, Grizzly Bear, Luke Vibert, BJ Cole, The Octopus Project, De Kift, Hanne Hukkelberg, Dirty Projectors, Tom Waits, Sebastien Tellier, Cex, Hella, Ron Sexsmith, Frank Zappa, Extra Golden, El Tel Eleven, Bell Orchestre, Six Finger Satellite, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, Menomena, FUXA, Built To Spill, Blonde Redhead, Frightened Rabbit, Souleance, The Doors, Pinback, Maps & Atlases, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Amon Duul, Candy Claws, Air, Regina, Zomby, Amiina, The Dead Texan, The Ansion, Bersarin Quartett, State River Widening, Tinariwen, Chickenhawk, Pontiak, K-X-P, Slint, Papa M, Murcof, June of 44, Beach House, Sleep, Grandaddy, Elliott Smith, Mice Parade, Philip Glass, John Lennon, The Walkmen, Acid Bath, TOKiMONSTA, Jaga Jazzist, Blur, Schneider TM, Dungen, The Tuss, Pere Ubu, Mission of Burma, Jeff Buckley, Down, Heatmiser, Mice Parade, Triosk, The Radio Dept, Disco Inferno, DJ Scotch Egg, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Led Zeppelin, Gonjasufi, Polmo Polpo, Cinematic Orchestra, Mars Volta, Spiritualized, Wisp, Mogwai, Sonora Pine, Elliott Smith, David Pajo, Yann Tiersen, Esmerine, Sleeping People, Grizzly Bear, Telefon Tel Aviv, Gogopod, Eels, Pocket Promise, The Smiths, John Lee Hooker, Van Der Graaf Generator, Dinosaur Jr, Electric Wizard, μ-Ziq, Big Black, Bong-Ra, Autechre, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Incredible String Band, Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, The Black Keys, Oliver Mtukudzi, The Roots, Paul White, Mount Kimbie, The Notwist, Zola Jesus, Marnie Stern, Wavves, Sparklehorse, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Pharcyde, Anti-Pop Consortium, A Tribe Called Quest, Lorn, Dimlite, Actress, Dorian Concept, Oneohtrix Point Never, Chihei Hatakeyama, Goblin, Kyuss, Stebmo, Trans Am, Comets On fire, The Velvet Underground, Kab Driver, Andreya Triana, Shlohmo, Ital Tek, Autopilot, Teebs, Shobaleader One, Tomahawk, Damien Jurado, Arms & Sleepers, Jackhigh, Funki Porcini, Eels, Cluster, Max Richter, Saskrotch, Mouse On Mars, Ceephax Acid Crew, Harry Nilsson, Spoonbill, Starlight Mints, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Pavement, Beta Band, Lone, Broadcast, Menomena, Dianogah, Broken Social Scene, Jim O'Rourke, Monster Zoku Onsomb!, Muddy Waters, DMX Crew, The Rentals, Kaki King, Memphis Slim, Bogdan Raczynski, Clark, Wesley Willis, Scott Joplin, Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, The Sea & Cake, Grandaddy, Karen O, Faraquet, Andy Hamilton, Free The Robots, The Dylan Group, Tied & Tickled Trio, Jaco Pastorius, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Fingathing, Spaceheater, Manitoba, Massive Attack, Comma, Brian Eno, sBach, Kettel, Shulman, A Hawk and A Hacksaw and the Hun Hangar Ensemble, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Cannibal Ox, Giraffes? Giraffes! . . .

Thursday, 16 June 2011

FESTIVALFEST #001: Glade Festival [10-12 June 2011]

Because you have to PLUG-IN (get it??) before you turn-on, tune-in, drop out ... journalistic reprobate and serial blogger, the mysterious Niko F tells us what the UK's foremost experimental electronic music festival, Glade was like this year.

Why is it that people use festivals as a place to live out their scatological fantasies?

Whatever the reason, and depending on who you talk to, after some reshuffling, evolution or regression, ‘The’ Glade is back, after a fallow year, at its new site: Houghton Hall in Norfolk. The contract is said to be for at least three years, but who knows? Maybe the juxtaposition between the neon-coloured cacophony of the UK’s premier experimental dance music festival and its idyllic new Brideshead Revisited backdrop (which neighbours on Prince Charles’ Sandringham estate) will prove to be too great. Glade seems to be passed around by venues like a bit of a smelly leper, presumably because they always make the mistake of giving the owners of the site a free ticket—I was told by one of the organisers that the current owner, David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquis of Cholmondeley, was staying in one of the boutique yurts. Heaven forbid that he should leave the relative safety of the yurt … though there was almost certainly a friendly reception for him.

Each year of the festival posthumously develops its own moniker, its specific characteristics and fingerprints. ‘The one where it rained’, for example, went down in meteorological history. What would this one be? Well, security was unprecedentedly tight on entry and every single person was sniffed by sniffy daags and searched for booze. Spirits and anything over 12 cans per person was confiscated, and although many people used technical and complicated pint to volume ratio maths to confuse the security, many more still had to leave many supplies in their transports, sitting in the carpark to get smashed all weekend, before stumbling back in to hear some music off louder systems than their car stereos.

Another characteristic conversation of the weekend was that of the topography of Norfolk: ‘My god it’s flat and windy’ says a giant penguin to a purple girl in a wheelbarrow. ‘Yes,’ she megaphones ‘It’s also very sandy, which is good for drainage.’ It wasn’t all physical and human geography though, Glade, as we have come to expect, means a great deal to its loyal followers and boasts more musical insanity than you could ever consume in one, now significantly reduced, lifespan. This was aided this year by the introduction of ‘Nanosystems’, smaller rigs showcasing yet more DJs and fun gimmicky concepts like ball pools, organised dance offs and interactive laser shows.

Although the psytrance-worshipping consciousness-expanders down in the ID Spiral may want to fly in the face of postmodernism and reassert a universal objectivity which all enlightened spirits can tap into once on the correct spiritual or chemical plane, I will try and review from a slightly more gonzo perspective, seeing as I only saw what I saw and heard what I heard (…I think). That, and I’m sure that Mr Thompson could’ve certainly found some of his own specific type of craic down at the Glade.

On the Friday, down that there Overkill stage, I saw Warlock play one of those quite dry dubstep sets which are all too common these days. Even more so since in other places, dubstep is really diversifying and finding its dancing feet in things like ‘Rave Bass’ and appealing to a wider audience than just the hoodied little soundheads who want to sexually assault the speakers. Fortunately, these vibes mutated into a joyous little evening’s epoch of the kind of evolved garage that pokes about these days. Droid vs. Squire of Gothos had the crowd bouncing to the piles of extra clicky snares they’ve managed to squeeze into garage beatz; but the real killer of the night was Kanji Kinetic vs. Rrritalin. I’d seen Rrritalin back in Winter 2010 following Scotch Egg in Bristol and knew to expect no lack of musical gusto.  Breaksy tempos abounded, but the ever-cascading basslines and phenomenal drops caught everyone by surprise.

Next artist of note was the beautiful and voluptuous DJ Donna Summer, who is actually a bit of a fatty baldy yank. Luckily for him, his pounding breakcore was the best of the genre I caught all weekend, even though his naive little American appeals to the crowd to shout louder (‘I still can’t hear you’) were a little silly.

The disappointment of the night came in the form of Broken Note. I had high hopes after seeing ‘em pretty much rip a hole in the earth’s crust last year, this time however, with a live drummer, the whomp whomps fell on deaf ears. It’s really the kind of music which should be played in the pitch black while people attack each other with glowinthedark knives, but the emphasis on the tippy tappy dread-headed percussionist took away some of that necessary evil. Saying that, I did enjoy the AV display: a calculated montage of massive insensitivity, which showed brutal pictures of the Arab spring interspersed with George Osborne’s face and slogans to the effect of ‘ENEMIES’, ‘ATTACK’, and ‘KILL KILL KILL,’ in a feat of psychological programming similar to that scene from The Parallax View.

Seeing as Current Value’s genre is also affectionately known as ‘pots and pans type’ drum and bass, it was fitting that just before, I was treated to a display of spoons by an old dude in a wide-brimmed hat on his stag do. The tippy-tappy on his knee built up like any good rhythmic tune would before the complicated flipping around and back of the spoons to his other thigh. This was the perfect gentle warm up to the tech-stepper Current Value who presented us with a massive wall of noise and <<ping>> of hollow snare, from which we were supposed to hack off a chunk and have a rowdy little mash with. This all happened, and I lost my footing a couple of times. Well, I was wearing two left wellies and by then, my right hoof was starting to ache.

It was then daylight when the stages finished. Perhaps something to do with the festival’s timeslot being bumped to a month earlier...

Saturday’s Overkill warmed up with loads of style and chilled spacey dub noises. Anxst was new to me but could be my favourite discovery of the weekend. Plonky electronic with the odd bits of Flying Lotus off beats, but never too much to throw your bobbing head out of time. He also even managed to slip in a bit of ‘Everything in its right Place’ without it sounding cheesy, maybe there are some good Radiohead remixes out there after all, I had pretty much given up on them. Goth-Trad too warmed our desires for chilled steppiness and treated us to his own brand of spacestation elevator music with arpeggios, gameboy snares and sampled tablas.

We scranned on catfood style packs of pineapple provided by the Kindness Offensive and pottered on.

After some disappointingly mediocre sets from the likes of 2badmice and London Elektricity, things improve. Shitmat makes it all ok. ‘HIT ME WITH YOUR GABBA STICK,’ he screams from behind his mankini. No longer a laptop-spewing waster and every promoter’s worst nightmare, Henry Collins’s antics are now chaotically polished into a firm crowd favourite. If only all speedcore had this much high pitched and autotuned vocals, then we’d hear more of it sodcasted, and the world would be a much better place.

Warning: Shitmat is to be taken very, very seriously.

Sunday was somewhat of a Sabbath due to the massacres of the days before. The Nanosystems dutifully picked up the slack when the big stages closed early. Thank god for the lifting of Glade’s unspoken DnB embargo a few years ago. Enough people still had legs left over to bob about for Eskmo. Another refreshingly ungimmicky adherant of the live MPC-etc-bash-button-gizmos which he uses to make techy dubstep. He most stands out because of his live sampling: ripping pieces of paper to add to loops as reverse snares, jingling keys for highend fuzz. My favourite of his props was the glorious amplified *clunk-click-fizz* as he opened a can of coke into the mic. The amassed fans were orgasmically refreshed before he then structured a glitch break from it.

The main casualty of the weekend was the loss of a latex horse mask by our crew. She answers to the name of Whinnie. She was last seen hanging out in the toilets with the door unlocked, providing the service of scaring the tripe out of people. Even International Rescue’s attempts were in vain. Personally, I am racked with guilt - similar to the first scene of Antichrist - because on said festival Sabbath evening, while most people had given up and the dark clouds blew over, I could hear from the safety of my tent, a stirring rendition of ‘My Lovely Horse’. “Whinnie must be there,” I thought, “Galloping around, frolicking with the robot men and the pixie wenches, munching on sugarcubes.”

It’s ok though. Shitmat makes it all ok. Although I might have shed a tear wishing Whinnie had spent more time with us, you cannot keep a good horse mask tied down. I suppose that however much we loved Whinnie, and however much she was our friend, the beautiful country estate of the Glade’s new home, full of safe people and mind-smashing music, is a perfect place for Whinnie, and her kind, to roam.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Klassik Album #002: Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me [1987; SST]

When a grey and somewhat ageing Dinosaur Jr. announced a fully-fledged reunion in 2005, including new material from the original line-up for the first time since 1988's Bug, the reception was far from overwhelmingly positive. In many ways, as has become something of a tradition with most "legendary" reunions (i.e.Pixies, Pavement, Slint) the initial reaction was a strange — though by no means unexpected — combination of suspicion and raw anticipation. 

In other words, the fans appeared equally split — divided into those fearing a tainted legacy and those who could barely contain almost bedwettable excitement. And still, the good intentions of both stemmed from an identical source: the tail-ends of the 1980s, when J Mascis's alt-rock trio irrevocably changed the face of guitar music forever. It was in one of these years, 1987, that their most brilliant statement was forged. 

Flanked by years candidly epitomised by their landmark recordings — The Queen Is Dead and Daydream Nation — You're Living All Over Me was not only the missing link between hardcore punk, grunge and beyond, it also stood as a much-needed distraction in a universe slowly coming to terms with Madonna, Thatcher securing a third term and BBC weatherman Michael Fish's retrospectively amusing manslaughter. While Moz and Co. were just about single-handedly penetrating the zeitgeist of Thatcherite Britain, Stateside, Dinosaur Jr. were in the process of giving birth to the next. 

And so it goes: whilst their 1985 debut album merely hinted at future brilliance, YLAOM remains Dinosaur Jr.'s track-by-track masterclass in noise punk indie pop, a wholly interchangeable non-term that only the Pixies (who else?) could lay claim to. By merging a carefully considered balance of levelling riffs, starry-eyed, nonchalant subject matter ("I'll be grazing by your window, please come pat me on the head / Just want to find out why you're nice to me for") ripping solos and pure — unashamedly pop — chord progressions, it simply sounded like nothing else out there. It defied comparison in almost every way: never before had a record distilled so many opposing genres without even remotely hinting at pastiche or clumsy imitation. 

In reality, the alchemical formula went much further: Mascis's slightly flat, incomparably lazy vocal delivery, Lou Barlow's artlessly hostile bass-playing and Murph's frankly powerhouse drumming coalesced to create a virtually unbeatable set-up from the fore. So much so, for an album that bolts forth courtesy of the spine-tinglingly effervescent 'Little Fury Things' and climaxes with a thoroughly mesmerising cover of The Cure's 'Just Like Heaven', you would be well placed to find a single dud amongst the likes of 'Raisans' and the pleasantly bizarre 'In A Jar'. 

In a perfect world, 'Sludgefeast', too, would be considered — along with 'Lady In Red'  — something of a musical litmus-test to determine a person's taste, sense and/or sanity. It is that mind-bogglingly accomplished. And just as vitally, Barlow's overtly experimental 'Poledo' stands its own ground and then some; the ukulele-wielding bassist bolding intersecting "found sounds" with an intentionally shoddy, lo-fi recording; a no-frills approach that he would continue with greater success with Sebadoh et al. following his acrimonious expulsion from Dinosaur Jr. circa '89.

More than anything else, You're Living All Over Me captures a three-piece at the peak of their powers, commanding their very own style (after all, what other band could you headbang, sway and twiddle your thumbs to all in the same gig?) And it's for that precise reason Dinosaur Jr. were, along with the inimitable R.E.M., one of the most representative baton carriers for several simmering scenes in the U.S. towards a brand new era of quintessential college rock.  

While the likes of Public Enemy were properly sticking it to the man, Mascis, Barlow and Murph just wanted to let off steam: with lyrics that made Buddy Holly sound like Maynard James Keenan, four-chord anthems guided by a bona fide guitar hero and some of the finest melodies ever committed to tape, it was a record that reeked — and reeks still — of endless summer, ripped jeans and beat-up Stratocasters. Better still, along with say, the Ramones' 1976 self-titled and innumerable Buddy Holly and The Crickets compilations, it remains one the most affecting collections of songs about triviality ever assembled.