Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Another day working from home, and another day spent revisiting my extensive collection of CDs. Receiving AFX’s Chosen Lords made me want to give some old (classic) electronic albums an airing:

APHEX TWIN - …I Care Because You Do (Warp Records, 1995)
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The follow-up to Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 and definitely a departure from the isolationist formations of this mammoth release, …I Care Because You Do kind of set the tone for the direction Richard D. James was going to take later. The album still bears some of the dark atmospheres of SAW2, but there is something quite industrial in many of these tracks. Icct Hedral, which would later be reinterpreted by Philip Glass, Ventolin or Cow Cud Is A Twin are definitely amongst my favourite tracks of his.

MIKE & RICH - Expert Knob Twiddlers (Rephlex, 1996)
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I actually remember buying this in HMV Piccadily Circus during a London trip back then (I used to work with school groups during the summer) and having great expectations about it. Expectations were certainly more than fulfilled, and still are ten years on. Was there EVER an electronic album that sounded more fun than this? I very much doubt it. I read a couple of years ago that RDJ was saying that when you take drugs and piss about, you end up with Expert Knob Twiddlers. This sounded almost as if he regretted to have ever released it… It sure is totally fucked up, a total piss take, but done so cleverly that it is actually perfect. Oh, and this is possibly one of the best album covers I know.

SQUAREPUSHER - Music Has Rotted One Note (Warp Records, 1998)
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Tom Jenkinson’s live acoustic album, except that it’s not, really. Everything was played by him though, and he used a wide range or real instruments to come up with what is, in my humble opinion, his best album by a long shot. MHRON is Squarepusher’s free-jazz record. In turn incisive and gentle, experiemental and subtle, this is Tom Jenkinson at the top of his game.

SLAG BOOM VAN LOON - Slag Boom Van Loon (Planet Mu, 1998)
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Another fine Paradinas collaboration, this time with electro Dutchman Jochem Paap, AKA Speedy J. The album is more complex and introvert than Expert Knob Twiddlers, and in many ways a lot quieter than Speedy J’s monumental Public Energy No. 1 published the year before. This album is nevertheless very original. It was followed by a remix album, So Soon, three years later, with contributions from Board Of Canada, Leafcutter John, Four Tet, Matmos, Coil, Pole, Tipper, Horse Opera and µ-ziq.

WAGON CHRIST - Throbbing Pouch (Rising High, 1994)
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Follow up to Luke Vibert’s ambient debut, Throbbing Pouch was, according to the man, not what Rising High expected of him at all, but it introduced the real Wagon Christ sound, infused with hip-hop, jazz, soul, electro and about everything in between. This template has been adopted by many since, but Vibert is definitely one of a kind when it comes to electronic music. Although he has been mate with Richard D. James, Tom Jenkinson and Mike Paradinas for a long time, he never got as much credit as them until Warp released his acid album Yoseph two and a half years ago. Suddenly, everybody got interested in the man, and rightly so I think.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The fact that AFX’s Analord series was only made available on vinyl played a big part with me not bothering with this. Not that I have anything against vinyl, but I’ve grown to like the practicality of CDs over the years. My turntable is accessible, and I grew up listening to vinyls, yet the fact that I cannot carry it with me easily meant that spending a large amount of money to collect the 11 Analord EPs was a bit pointless.

Still, the press release for Chosen Lords mentions that each of the 11 vinyl EPs went on to sell well into five-figure quantities, which is a testament of AFX’s lasting appeal.

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Chosen Lords comes as a gold CD

So, the fact that part of it has been compiled into a digestible CD version is rather good news. Released on Rephlex on 10 April, Chosen Lords features ten tracks covering a wide range of styles, as would be expected with Richard D. James. I am personally glad he seems to have moved away from the drill malarkey of his Richard D. James Album area. As with anything AFX related, it is difficult to tell whether these tracks were new or taken from Jame’s alleged very impressive collection of unreleased material, and I obviously cannot compare this condensed version of Analord with the complete series, yet this album continues to restore my faith in the man following the recent release of Hangable Autobulb (Warp) on CD and the release, still on Warp, of a limited edition split vinyl with LFO. Still, it would be nice to see Aphex Twin properly revived with a new album, of new material, soon… One can dream!

Monday, January 23, 2006


A few CDs that have landed on my desk in the last few weeks and captured my imagination:

Sickoakes: Seawards (Type Recordings – rel: 20/03/2006)
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Another gem for the excellent Type Recordings, a label that’s been gaining some fantastic momentum in the last year. Sickoakes is a six-piece instrumental rock band from Stockholm, Sweden, and Seawards, their first album, follows the release of the track Wedding Rings & Bullets In The Same Golden Shrine on net label Pleasedosomething a while ago. Also perhaps not entirely original, the music featured on this album is rather beautiful and definitely worth a listen. The 22 minute epic Wedding Rings & Bullets In The Same Golden Shrine Pt. 2 is worth its weight in gold alone!

Glim: Aerial View Of Model (Karate Joe Records – out now)
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Glim is the project of Andreas Berger, and this, his second album, is a strong collection of beautiful and delicate pieces that are in a similar tone to Deaf Center’s recent Pale Ravine.

No Movement No Sound No Memories: Removed / Acetate (Lux Nigra – rel. 13/03/2006)
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Interesting collection of remixes of two tracks from No Movement No Sound No Memories. Removed / Acetate actually collects together two EPs, the band’s debut, Removed, originally released in 1999, with the track Edit, plus remixes by Arovane, No. 9, Multipara, Pole and Artificial Duck Flavour, and Acetate, the band’s recent EP, with remixes of the track by the likes of DJ Maxximus, Bill Youngman, James Din, Modeselektor and Claro Intelecto.

Toady was also an excellent day post-wise, with new CDs from AFX (Chosen Lord – Replex, rel: 10/04/2006), Keith Fullerton Whitman (Lisbon - Kranky, rel: 20/03/2006), Glissandro 70 (Self-titled – Constellation, rel: 20/03/2006), Expanding Electronic Diversity Compilation 2005 (EED, out now) and a few more. More about these as I listen to them…

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Some months ago landed a rather nicely packaged 12” from one mysterious Conrad Newholmes on my desk. The sender had gone through a lot of effort to get noticed. The package surely stood out from the stream of dull jiffy bags and appealed to my rather anally retentive personality so much that I still have it sitting on a shelf above my desk. So, the first hurdle (grabbing my attention) had been negotiated without problem, but a nice package doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a good record inside. In fact, to be honest, it is often the sign that the record is NOT the least interesting. Yet, in this occasion…

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THE original package with the new CD album

No need to say that the name was not familiar, but this self-titled debut EP proved to be a rather nice and clever piece of instrumental hip-hop which would have fitted quite well on a label such as Ninja Tune (here's my review of it, dated July 2005). At the time, Conrad (I don’t actually know his real name, although he’s previously released music under the name Smaze) mentioned that an album was in the making, and, on the basis of the EP, I was very keen to hear more.

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Conrad Newholmes Conrad Newholmes (Snakebird Records)

This morning in the post, there was a small package with a familiar handwriting on it, and Peppermint Styles (Couchblip!), the album, in it. And it is a cool little corker. Conrad originally mentioned that the album would feature a string of vocalists, but nothing turned out as planned and Peppermint Styles is largely instrumental, with a good dose of vocal samples scattered all over. The result is imo very impressive. The album builds on the EP but appears more focussed and laidback.

Another album that arrived today is the new(ish) Hope Blister (4AD). Hope Blister is a project led by former 4AD main man Ivo Watts-Russel, who was also responsible for three beautiful albums as This Mortal Coil between 1984 and 1991. The first Hope Blister album, ...Smile Is Ok (1998) was very laidback and acoustic, and made up entirely of covers (Slowdive, David Sylvian, Heidi Berry, Brian Eno...), and was followed by a very limited mail-order only remix album, Underarms. The album now finally benefits of a full release and comes bundled with Sideways, itself comprising 6 reworking created form Underams by Markus Guentner.

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The Hope Blister Underarms / Sideways - Doesn't this image make you want to go "aaaawwwwwww"?

I was expecting Underams to be in a similar vein to ...Smile Is Ok, but it is in fact very droney and numb, and Sideways is, from the first couple of tracks heard so far, similar.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Ah, the wonderful silliness and poetry of Animal Collective… While I’ve been immersing myself in the work of Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane and Miles Davis of late, Andrew came into work singing “Aaaah, the bees, the bees, the bees, rwaaa-rwaaaaa-rwaaaaaaa…” yesterday morning, complete with slo-mo vocals, giving me a) the giggles all morning, and b) an instant urge to play Feels yet again.

The wonderful Feels

Although I still consider Campfire Songs as my favourite, I must admit that I have possibly played Feels more than the rest of the AC albums together. This album is the best cheer-up pill I know. Grass especially appears to exercise some major endorphin-based reaction with me, although Did You See The Wortds, Banshee Beat, Turn Into Something or Bees all work wonders on me too.

Animal Collective masked...

I have unfortunately managed to get through the last three years or four years without seeing them live, which is, considering my claim of way back when that I hadn’t fallen for a band as I did with Animal Collective since I had heard the Cocteau Twins properly for the first time on a spring day of 1988 and felt the need to buy their entire discography within a few weeks, totally daft. Perhaps I could break the only new year’s resolution I have ever kept (not to make any new year’s resolutions) and make this a goal for this year.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The mighty fine Broadcast, by far one of the best and most interesting UK bands around, and certainly one of my favourite and most played acts according to my overall artist chart, have just released a second volume in their Microtornics series.

The ultra-limited 3” CD, which collects a further 10 instrumental incidental interludes, was originally sold on the band’s recent tour. This is perhaps something for fans as these tracks aren’t proper full songs, but this series provides an interesting insight into the soundscapes used by the band on their albums and EPs. Microtronics Vol. 2 is currently available to buy from Warpmart.

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Microtronics Vol. 1
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Microtronics Vol. 2

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Last night, I got on a mission to find my copy of Bruno E’s wonderful Lovely Arthur album that has been reported missing from my record collection for well over a year. This meant me moving a lot of dust and rampaging through boxes and boxes of CDs (well over a year on from moving house, my CDs are still in boxes waiting for us to get the office sorted). Yet, the CD still hasn’t materialised, despite me coming across a forgotten box, which contained a lot of weird stuff.

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The sorely missed Bruno E. album

Still, this wasn’t a complete waste of time as I have found some CDs that I had been looking for for a while, including that space jazz compilation I mentioned only a few days ago that Andrew did for me, and a promo copy of Miles Davis’s Panthalassa – The Remixes, which I have never really listened to properly until now… The joys of extensive record collections and cardboard boxes… you never know what you might come across!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


And the prize for nicest and most original Xmas card for 2005 goes to the good peeps at Wasted Media...

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Lovely package all the way from Tokyo in the post this morning containing a couple of finished versions of Coppé's latest opus, 9+10=10th Anniversary.

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Three albums that have been popping up in my playlist on a rather regular basis of late are Shuttle358's wonderful ambient Chessa (12K), Parallax Beat Brothers' Autek (Autek) and Opsvik&Jennings's Fløyel Files (NCM East). Three rather different records I have found getting back to over and over.

Shuttle358 is the long-running project of Los Angeles-based artist Dan Abrams who has released music for 12K and Mille Plateaux. This new album deals with beautiful spacious structures and textures, and is a rather facinating piece of work.


Parallax Beat Brothers is the project of drummer and percussionist Pete Lockett, who has worked with people as diverse as Bjork, Peter Gabriel, Nitin Swhney, The Verve, Craig Armstrong or Afro Celt Sound System, and sound artist Scanner, AKA Robin Rimbaud, who I interviewed last year for themilkfactory. This album finds its ground on Scanner's various experiemental incarnations, ranging from bleepey electronica to arid ambient.

Pete Lockett

Fløyel Files is the first album from Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik and Okhlahoma-based guitarist Aaron Jennings. Released on Brooklyn-based imprint NCM East, this album combines experimental jazz and electronic structures, and is rather interesting.


Friday, January 06, 2006


In the last couple of years, and partly thanks to Andrew, who is well up on that kind of things, I've developed an unhealthy obsession about Alice Coltrane, or at least, about her work.

Although Andrew is only partly to blame, as I first got connected to her thanks to a lengthy and very interesting interview published in issue 218 of The Wire (April 2002), he has since provide me with a mine of information regarding her work and that of John Coltrane. I'd managed to put my hands on the three Warner albums that were reissued about the time of the interview, Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana, Transcendence and Transfiguration, which I really liked, but I have since stocked up on some of her best albums, as recommended by him, including Ptah The El Daoud and Universal Conciousness, both recorded for Impulse!.

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The Wire issue 218 - April 2002

I recently got a voucher to use on Amazon, and thought I would now get Journey In Satchidananda.

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Alice Coltrane: Journey In Satchidananda.

I am also very keen on getting A Monastic Trio (which I have as MP3s), and would love to put my hands on Huntington Ashram Monastery, but I think this one's not available on CD. I also need to get some more John Coltrane, and start investigating Pharoah Sanders too. Andrew actually did a wonderful CD of what he called "space jazz" for me a while ago. Here's the tracklisting:

2. MARCUS BELGRAVE Space Odyssey
4. PHAROAH SANDERS Astral Travelling
5. LARRY YOUNG Khalid Of Space Pt. 2 - Welcome
6. ALICE COLTRANE Journey In Satchidananda / Galaxy In Satchidananda
8. SUN RA There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You)



In the post this morning, package from the good people at Warp with the new Prefuse 73 mini album, Security Screenings, and the first Warp release for the Battles, EP C / B EP.

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Prefuse 73: Security Screenings

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Battles: EP C / B EP

Security Screenings is the follow-up to Scott's brilliant Surrounded By Silence and Prefuse 73 Reads The Books EP recorded with... er... The Books. This new mini album, which features the much talked about collab with Four Tet's Kieran Hebden, was apparently inspired by 'the disillusioning experiences encountered in travelling while promoting [Scott's] last smash'. Although, as the press release continues, Security Screenings 'channeled [Scott's] frustration and anger into something quite spectacular', it sounds somehow rather more peaceful in part than previous Prefuse stuff, not quite so mashed up as his early stuff. Instead, this seems to sit somewhere between Prefuse and Savath & Savalas. First impression is rather good.

There is quite a bit of hype around the Battles. The band, who have until now only released a couple of EPs, have only released a couple of EPs which are compiled on the double EP EP C / B EP. 'As Battles explain, their sound is "somewhere between electronic and rock"'. Too full on to be labelled post-rock, thank God for that!

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Rather productive day working from home today, due to repair man coming to fix both tyres on my scooter, the front losing air like nobody's business and the back being completely and utterly flat. The guy finally turned up at 6.10pm! Diagnostic: corrosion on the front rim, and a small nail in the back. £55 later, it's all fixed. He's actually been very kind and has put tubes in both tyres so it would work and be reasonably cheap.

Working from home gives me the chance to listen to music I love on speakers asopposedd to headphones, and today was a rather good day for that... Here's the playlist in pictures:

Kraftwerk: Minimum Maximum (Box set version)

One I was prompted to dig out after finding the label's main guy on MySpace: Supersprite: Colourmixing

The legendary Black Dog with their superb Silenced from last year

The rather chaotic and unpredictable mash-up folk of The Books Lost And Safe

This is something of a rare gem: Slowdive 5 EP and 5 EP (In Mind Remixes) which features two remixes of the main track, one by Bandulu and the other by Reload

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Beautiful as ever.... Biosphere: Dropsonde (CD version)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Very little post between Christmas and NY, but this was to be expected. Waiting for me on my desk this morning though was the CD version of Biosphere's superb Dropsonde (Touch, rel. 27/02/2006). The album was originally released a few months ago as a six-track LP. The CD features eleven tracks, five of which were on the LP (In The Shape Of A Flute, which closed the vinyl version, is not featured here)

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Different cover for a different album

While the LP shown Geir Jenssen in a more upbeat mood, the CD version features some more traditional Biosphere organic ambient tones, making this a rather different listening experience.

Track listing as follow:

Dissolving Clouds
Birds Fly By Flapping Their Wings
Warmed By The Drift
In Triple Time
From A Solid To A Liquid
Fall In, Fall Out
Daphnis 26
People Are Friends

Monday, January 02, 2006


Less than 360 days till Christmas! Woooopey!...

The last couple of weeks have been positively great and fun, with highlights including the wedding (not mine), Paddy and Lesley taking a dip in Jersey for the traditional Christmas swim in the sea (water: 10 degrees C, air: far less!), and spending New Year's Eve in Blackpool with friends. Blackpool certainly is not my destination of choice, but since Jason and Kevin have chosen to move up there and open a guest house three years ago (already!), we have been doing the 4 hour plus journey a number of times.

Let's face it, Blackpool is a dire place if ever there was one, but spending some quality time with very good and dear friends certainly makes up for it. NYE itself was spent in one of the function rooms at the Pleasure Beach for a black tie dinner, and we had a lot of fun. After a few hours sleep, some of us decided to make the most of the rather splendid New Year's day weather and went walking the dogs for two hours. I took loads of pictures, including these...

Friends, dogs and long shadows

Sea breaking against the sea wall near North Pier

Tram tracks and the unavoidable tower

Looking south... Note the seagulls caught in flight

Sunset on North Shore beach

People walking on the beach with North Pier and the tower in the background

Sunset on North Shore beach 2

Steps down to the beach

Beautiful lines in the sand

Steps to nowhere