29 November 2015

The Black Dog - Spanners

I'm not interested particularly in adding to the canon - everyone loves Spanners don't they? - but in the spirit of revisiting it recently...

It is striking thing. It's a thinking thing. I remembered hearing it for the first time all over again & thinking that these guys were properly aligned with the avant-garde in a way that most of this era (every era) techno / IDM just weren't. I loved Aphex Twin and Autechre and Reload but The Black Dog were entirely odder & clearly unwilling to make commercial leans even in the vaguest of senses. The disco and techno bits of this album show they could easily be assimilated into (what would become) background music for Masterchef / Football Results / Home Improvement shows but the other bits were just so bowel-churningly creepy & psychedelically awkward that you can imagine advertising execs & music placers not being able to... place it.

There's bits on Spanners that make it exist in the world of Coil or The Residents rather than Hip Hop (or Kraftwerk, or Tomita, or Eno), bits that prevent a lay person wandering through the Warp catalogue keeping going....

Bytes was good but Bytes did attempt a theme of sorts; you had a clue as to what was coming next. With Spanners, the chimera / Cerberus is much more evident; this was the multi-headed techno beast in all it's directions, all at once...

I'm going back in. Bits of it our soundtracking our regular live action Angry Birds simulation (you hurl a 5 year old boy towards stuffed toys and pillow constructions) and it works perfectly: scary, silly, serious, soft. The 5 year old says some of it sounds like 'the pigs have gone crazy' and he's right; they really have.

23 November 2015

For Paris (Woebot)

Woebot in various iterations has been hugely influential on this blog and on IX Tab (and on my relationship with unicorns / small horses) and on the www's relationship to music in general and this is his mix for Paris:

For Paris by Woebot on Mixcloud

Plus, I have a Woebot t-shirt that I was wearing yesterday when I went to visit my Mum. So, fate.

22 November 2015


Fell into this via some wormhole or other. It's maybe not meant for me but I've been playing it a lot.

Actually, I'm not sure what is for me.

Not sure I really believe music is for anyone.

These days, I'm always awake, it seems.

21 November 2015

Oneirogen - Cinerum

Yeah, I think so.

19 November 2015

Hello Darkness My Old Sample

Some good stuff here about Voodoo Ray from Woebot on hardcore vocal samples. I didn't know it was Peter Cook but it seems perfect that it was. The best thing about those early acid / hardcore tracks was the entirely odd choices of sample material and the dullest thing about what came later was the insistence on 'obscure' horror samples or bits of Blade Runner - Tricky is the exception there, since the Blade Runner sample sounds like it couldn't have been absent... and in fact Tricky's use of Japan's Ghosts was one of the more interesting things about his first album; that kind of non-more-white(skinned) Newpop framework wrapped itself around Tricky in an almost sinister, post-colonial way... I like most of his stuff but none of the later albums seemed willing to disengage from the musical frames that Tricky ought to have been in (Specials, Ganja boys, Grandmaster Flash, Jungle)and so failed to sound.

And when we're talking about vocal samples, I guess this ought to be mentioned because I vaguely remember the moment I first heard this and started giggling uncontrollably for reason I mow really question:

In fact, Woebot's point about the odd nature of vocal samples very much affected my choices of vocal samples on the IX Tab albums - bearing in mind that most of the reviews of both albums focus on the avant-garde / occult nature of the music, the vocal samples are generally utterly prosaic (I can't mention all the sources, for reasons) seem many of them are utterly, and very deliberately prosaic: Dangerous Liasons, Hollywood after Oscar parties, Children's TV, TSW News, Gus Honeybun, Hal from 2001 (yawn!), ITV Drama Specials... It's a kind of occult banality that interests me. that feels truly occult because it's truly personal; it's the detritus of everyday lives that make it occult. I mean, I love all that Crowley / OTO / Hellraiser guff but using it as it is a resource seems totally beside the point.

Simon and Garfunkel, half-heard on my parents stereo on a Sunday is Bay-B-Kane and is darkness incarnate.

11 November 2015

Not Ekoplekz

Well, if there's any kind of avant - scene that I'm aware of (maybe even a little part of), Nick's the kind of Kingpin: playing on LP, on big boy's labels; undisputedly popular and critically acclaimed where most of us are (at best) critically acclaimed and resoundingly unpopular. He's been quiet recently but he's almost back. You'll love this as much as you loved the other ones. I'm never sure if there's a change in methodology / sound that goes along with a change in name when Nick Edwards / Ekoplekz is concerned but the Eko sound is very much here, give or take some IDM techno lashings, here and there.

He's probably not even using the Eko, anymore but the sound is a thing-in-itself now, has it's own logic.

Saisonscape: Decay

This is happening in Bristol at the weekend and it features Kemper Norton, who is always a delight to meet and watch and hear. I'm going despite the fact that I'm normally deeply suspicious of musical events that cross over into art. I love Art, love music but don't think anything about soundpoems or soundart (both deeply flawed concepts, as far as I can see). I loved it when Throbbing Gristle shifted out of the Art scene and into Pop (sort of) and didn't much care for anything they got up to when, in recent times, they got sucked back in. Coum seemed interesting, as Art, TG were much more interesting as music - and so it goes...

We should watch out for Art, creeping into our musical scenes.

We should resist.

The rules of engagement are different over there.

17 October 2015

Shape Worship - A City Remembrancer

Man, this is good.

Really good.

I've been offline / limits / thick with flu & driving lesson woes for what seems to be ages but I've finally got around to listening properly to this Shape Worship album (another in the ever-predictable - in that every release is going to be great - line of outsider-chic that is Front And Follow) and it's a little bit immense. This is what I thought Burial was going to sound like when I'd read about them but not yet heard anything. I like Burial, but this is better; this feels less mannered, lighter but paradoxically more intense, less rooted in the (rather obvious) slow-car-garage trails.

This isn't just a car drive. This is a slice of collective consciousness. The cranes are flying.

It is extraordinarily confident in its approach, taking on Burial's shuffling gun-cock / ratchet drums (hopefully without the mythology that they were just created in Audacity) and sending them into new territories, deep in the heart of Britain. It's not all like this (it's better than that), of course but still... each cymbal hisses like a winter yawn. This is Britain not submerged but hanging on a thread; socio-political agitations, key council estate worries, local government politics.

I've not read much about this release because I wanted it to wash over me without contamination (of perhaps the terrible truth) but it's clear that every squeak and every whistle and every hummingly slurred vocal (although many of the samples are clear as day) has a very definite purpose and a place: when the light breaks out at the end of Heygate Palimpsest, for instance, it feels like we've been waiting a long time... like when they finally do put in that zebra crossing that everyone's been asking for... other bits sound like the tiniest snatches of vocal behind and within some of The Shamen's best techno squiggles, pre-C. That sense of delirium can certainly be found in tracks like Zoned (Hecate) which has a tinkling, endless, post-acid comedown vibe to it that is just perfect.

And then the voices come in and make the world real again. Some of them hum with static, with echo but other times they are naked and alone

Although this is some kind of master work and is clearly (I hope, I think) following a concept, it also seems small scale and intimate - cocktail synths, even, at the start of the gently stirring An Exemplar. And the scale works perfectly for the kind of psychogeographical details attended to here. This is a boiling down of issues and virtues; it has a sense of place that has often been neglected in music (replaced with sense of feeling or atmosphere) but not in the sense of windswept moors or smoked bracken (ha!) or goat-noises; instead Ed's attempted to approximate the place as a political satellite, as microcosm.

Easily one of the best things I've heard all year...

30 September 2015

Dennis Smalley - Pneuma

I like the way this sucks and wheezes. It reminds me of my future. One day, I'll be at a bus stop and this will be the last sound I make. I'm looking forward to it.

28 September 2015

Roots of Goa trance (2)

This was something that fascinated me a while ago. Still fascinates me. Uchronie never really took off, though.

I need some people.

The thing is, the essay I linked to in the above post has a related sub/sur-Acid mix and that mix is now here. It's currently sound-tracking some marking of essays related to the Cognitive Approach and seems fairly apposite.


12 September 2015

3 Candidates & a Broken20 Robot

To coincide:

From the good people at Broken20 who we've been championing at the bit since the early days of this blog. This about nails it, I think. It would be nice to see the companion track (if it exists), Corbyn bathed in warm light, Boards of Canada smoothness, gentle Ghost Box hues, a lulling McKenna voice, telling us what we need to hear & maybe, perhaps perhaps perhaps even believing it.

CBK ROBOTS from Broken Twenty on Vimeo.

I like Burnham bot best. The real Andy Burnham.

03 August 2015

You Have The Power

Or maybe you don't.

31 July 2015

Laura Cannell - Beneath Swooping Talons

Well, I don't know anything about musical theory. Not really. I know some of the words associated with musical theory, enough to know what i like, what to look out for, but I don't pretend to understand the meaning of those words, or even how they make a difference. Music for me is a distraction and an emotional entanglement; it might develop some fascinating psychological / philosophical theme but it's rarely a theme in itself. It's much better felt than understood and this is how I approach this little bit of magical (un)realism; the sawbones and drones and the Tudor piping might be a sonic portal, she might have an eye on the sky or the ground or the flesh and bones of nature but, for me, this is the music of dinosaurs dancing.

I'd better explain.

An awful lot of my listening takes place in two ways: the commute to work; and playing with my four-year old kid. Yeah, I occasionally get out to gigs or take strolls alone in the woods (yeah, right) but, mostly, if I'm listening at home it's not alone at night, it's in the early morning and it's soundtracking some terrible multi-car pile up, some awful lego cybercrime, a recreation of the bovine spongiform crisis or, as in this case, a re-enactment of the (entirely imagined) plotline of Jurassic World. You know, the bits where the dinosaurs get a bit crazy because the owner of Jurassic World has the wrong shoes on and start to dance like it's the festival of St Vitus and then everything goes dark and the baby triceratops gets its face eaten off and the spinosaurus goes on a rampage because a food van has wandered into the prehistoric jungle...

Laura Cannell should soundtrack the next Jurassic film, no question. Her music is a beautifully judged Rorschach, a Projective Test and you can imagine it working with anything. It glues itself around the scene without enveloping it, it blends in with the environment despite not being at all ambient (I think Abis Bliss mentions visceral in her review in The Wire and there is viscera here but it doesn't slap its entrails across your face... it's red and wet but it doesn't try to impose itself on you, doesn't try to be all-encompassing. It's stately and heartfelt but it doesn't seem to need to keep reminding you).

There's probably theory yelling out at some people, Laura has been playing with some heavyweight beacons (plus eternal lightweights like Hacker Farm and Ekoplekz and Kemper Norton) and clearly has a plan for her music but the fantastic thing about this release is that she wears her excellence incredibly lightly and this lets all kinds of people in. You put images in front of her music and there's going to be movement between the parties. Her music gives as much as it takes. There may well be meticulous reconstructions of Hildegard Von Bingen here but here Hilde is on a lovely bender and she may have lost all her friends when she forgot to meet them at the Cider Bus and she may have taken all the wrong spiritual supplements but she's having a wonderful time anyway. Of course she is.

And it's very... dancey.

The woodwinds especially. She's playing two at a time here, a la Roland Rahsaan Kirk (ok, I'm cribbing this from the press release) and the effect is very... moving. Dinosaurs jig and they can jig in time to this. There's a mutability to this which separates it from stuff that sounds superficially similar - the drones are spiritual in the sense of bliss and twirling, the recorders are playing a slow jaunt; couples are circling, dinosaurs are yelling out in abstracted vowel sounds, the sunlight is pouring in through the windows, the volcanoes are bubbling. Over there, someone has fallen into the lava, not far away an adventurer is trying to buy a hotdog from a fast-moving food truck, pursued by s whole herd of stegosauruses...

This is timeless stuff and we're playing it again tomorrow, no matter what we end up doing. You can trust in this music.

Buy it here.

09 July 2015

Xpylon is soon to be

It's a long storm / story, one that has seen IX Tab and many others rocked and rolled but... in amongst the sturm and drang, a little ship on massive waves...

Lots of friends and inter-relations here and lots of exceptional music and all entirely for a good cause. It would be daft as a bucket not to salve your conscience by buying into this little fellah. It even features a brand new / utterly DNA-altered IX Tab track which could well be the best thing I've ever done...

It's the price of a coffee and a couple of dodgy Es.

Or four large pieces of liver.

Or enough Armenian ammunition to kill a herd of deer.

Or a pack and a half of fags.


As Alan Partridge says: Join Us.

01 May 2015

Drone Vandalism

It's coming. It's not in the trees.

The first drone vandalism appears and will be followed. Will accelerate. Drone everything. Music. Art. Drama.

The Age Of The Drone has been on us for a while now. This doesn't change everything but it does change something.

A Stockhausen Drone Symphony. Get him back from wherever he is now.

23 April 2015

Paul McCartney's Temporary Secretary

For one thing, it isn't proto techno, drum n bass or anything like that. People keep telling me it is (those people, always telling) and I keep listening to hear whatever it is they're hearing but... no. Just a regular, pretty weak, McCartney song with bleeps and bloops over it... smeared, making dogs of us all. There's nothing technological, nothing experimental here. You're not thinking it through. McCartney as true innovator of The Beatles is a well-worn narrative - yes but Stockhausen! yes but Delia Derbyshire! yes but hitting a piano with a mallet! - but 1) it's really boring and 2) so is almost everything about The Beatles. I can't even be bothered to hate them.

But this attempt to make Macca a part of something he's not is just... intolerable... go back to the sing-a-long-a-ding-dong ditties Sir Paul, go back to the Olympics, the Queen... just, er, Get Back

And the actual lyrics of this monstrosity: Jesus. I mean, you may not care if she's a belly dancer or whatever Sir Paul but she could be, you know, a, er, he that you're employing on what we can only assume is a proto-zero hours contract.

So maybe he is an innovator, after all.

06 April 2015

Paper Dollhouse - Helios

Little bit done with dark electronica at the moment (I'll probably be back to it) but this seems to work in ways lots of other stuff only thinks it works... Gently massive, windswept and propulsive. You feel this isn't music that is attempting to jump on some Haxan Cloak Cloacal / Coat t(r)ail (itself a very long train of well-trodden chords of dooooooom); but that exists because it just happens to be the sounds that swim around their heads... the only kind of music worth listening to, the only kind that really is music...

28 March 2015

Spindle & The Bregnut Tree

I really can't see that anyone much would be interested (it sold a fair few for this kind of thing, I thought) but the first IX Tab album is now available to download via Bandcamp... i'm not convinced at this model, seems a little wrong in someway I can't quite finger but it's a way of getting it out there to anyone who missed out the first time round and I've made it pretty cheap, i think... thinking of maybe putting some other misplaced odds and ends up there, as well...

we'll see...

here's the link


This has something to do with Kek, who's always up to something... you ought to watch him... there's something meta-fictional perhaps, or a slight/sleight of hand... Hacker Farm may have imploded a little (my fave label, now my fave band... it's been an odd year) but they live on...

I hear Farmer Glitch is up to stuff too at the Colston Hall... more info on that soon...

23 March 2015

Palmbomen II

Like Opera posters, album intros are creeping into life as a culture in themselves, somehow distinct from the performance they're referring to. My head feels like a bucket of cumin right now so I can't even begin to think of the triple entendre of meaning that streams from this - Gold Blend advert as soap between soaps etc etc - and add in every media theory from the 40s onwards but... it seems that the slow democratization of PR is now in full force. The means of (post) production are not yet in the hands of the proletariat (consider: Youtube, Vimeo, Spotify etc) but at least...

Oh I dunno. I thought this was cute and scary and it made me want to go and check out the album

There's more posted over at 20 Jazz Funk Greats

13 March 2015

A Sprinkling Of Clouds (RIP Daevid Allen)

Okay, this is perhaps a Gong record which better exemplifies the Steve Hillage element but it's my favourite Gong thing and the track I play most now and the Gong track that has stayed with me for the 25+ (Crikey!) years since I heard it... without this, lots of the music of my youth would have been impossible to hear... Must have seen Gong ten times or more over the years (often accidentally) and they suffuse the area(s) where I spent most of my time as a kid. Gong are in the air...

Plus, the first time I met Kemper Norton and heard his actual name I thought he was a reincarnation of some kind (I was a little wasted) and... I wasn't wrong, really.


10 March 2015

Me in Psychick TV 3 or 4 or...

I have no recollection of this. Or that hair. Actually, I do kind of remember that hair. The only time I met Genesis P Orridge he didn't look anything like this and he tried to get me and a mate thrown out of a gig because we'd accidentally snuck in through the changing rooms.

20 February 2015


Been digging this guy's stuff.

It's like some other things, I guess... But better. Feels very heartfelt. There's no irony. Like it... Aesthetics properly felt, as Hume might say.*

*Hume wouldn't say that.

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