Sleevenotes: It’s been a while, the world hasn’t really got any better, but there are still records. Regular listeners — if anyone can remember that far back – will know I have a nerdish obsession with independent record labels: this broadcast is part one of a multiple-part road trip/odyssey through the world of coloured vinyl, limited cassettes, screen-printed and tip-on Stoughton jackets and all things related to the black stuff. Well, for now, I’m just playing the records from a featured bunch of labels I worked my way down the west coast of America talking to this summer. The book should be out in early 2019, published by Omnibus press. As I get closer to publication I’ll start adding some more salient detail to do with the actual book into the broadcasts – once I’ve, er, written it – but for now, it’s mainly just the music put out by the good folk at Mississippi, Sahel Sounds, Constellation Tatsu, Gnome Life, Superior Viaduct, Recital, Vin du Select Qualitite and Light in the Attic records (and one or two other bits and pieces early on). (And, in an attempt to keep the spirit of John Peel alive, when I say ‘Virginia Trance’ by Henry Flynt, I actually mean ‘Congo’ by Henry Flynt. Though, in truth, I meant to play the former.) The journey starts out in Portland with Mississippi Records.
Part two, back in London, hopefully will follow shortly. Thanks for listening: in the words of John Coltrane, ‘May there be peace and love and perfection throughout all creation.’
So here’s the Antiswarm’s take on 2016′s futuristic electronic and more psychedelic moments. When I look back, despite what’s hapened elseware, it’s been a great year musically so the tracks were easy to do (I had loads left over), the albums a little harder. Clear winners in both departments were Badbadnotgood who’s fourth effort is by far their best. In line with that, things have got significantly jazzier (see also the superb A Tribe Called Quest album) in my headphones this year which is also great. More traditionally for the Antiswarm there’s lots of spacey techno and modern psych in here as well. So have a listen, drift off and enjoy!
It’s hardly an original thought to note 2016 has been something of a dog of a year. Brexit, May, Farage, and now Trump. Where do these people come from? There’s always the music, though, and in 2016 that current has run as strong as ever under the bullshit of daily life. After my European ‘special’ here comes another melancholic post to reflect world events. I say ‘melancholic’, but the music of Americans Jeff Parker, Makaya McCraven, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, and even put upon old bluesman James Davis, seems full of joy. And here’s a fine video of America from another age, to accompany the track from Marisa Anderson’s new lp, Into the Light.
And here’s something perhaps a little more gloomy from Brooklyn resident Billy Gomberg.
There’s another track from Gomberg’s excellent lp, Slight at That Contact, featured in the show.
Still, it’s not all laughs and party tunes. Jason Molina’s cover version of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘I’ll Be Here in the Morning’ almost never fails to make my eyes water (there’s an unbelievable 37 copies of this ‘limited’ 7″ single for sale on Discogs – don’t buy it, stick it to the Record Store Day profiteers and just listen to it here); and F.J. McMahon’s 1969 track ‘The Spirit of the Golden Juice’ (culled from the fine Numero Uno compilation of lost recordings, Cosmic American Music) was recorded in the shadow of the Vietnam War. Ah well, thanks for listening and happy Christmas.
I’ve got no wish to add to the hundreds of thousands of words written about the EU referendum. We’ve heard more than enough about the self-serving politicians who got us into this mess. I just thought I’d let the music do the talking and produce an entirely European-based show for Little Englanders everywhere. Hopefully Brexit voters can listen to it on repeat while stuck in a six-hour traffic jam on the M20 outside Dover. For enlightened Seeks Music listeners the world over: please don’t think we’ve all got St George’s flags attached to the fishing rods of our garden gnomes. Fantastic record labels like Rune Grammofon, Clean Feed and Sonic Pieces (from Oslo, Lisbon and Berlin respectively) will forever be a feature of this show. I love egg and chips, the tea and the rain, a good curry, the seaside and fourth division football grounds as much as I love Tubby Hayes, the Tindersticks, Disco Inferno and Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou . . . I just hate small-mindedness and right-wing zealots. One Love, Third Light Home, east London.
There’s a paragraph early on in David Stubbs’ fine tome, Future Days, Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany, where he points out that Krautrock isn’t about strong vocal performances. Seventies German music was far more about ‘texture than text,’ he writes. ’The inadequacies of Ralph Hutter’s vocals are not an inadequacy of Kraftwerk, but one of the group’s key defining factors. Had Tangerine Dream featured a Jon Anderson-type vocalist, it would have undermined one of the strong implications of their early work — that the cosmos is awesome and that, for all the ego and subjectivity of humans, it is indifferent to us. It’s not all about us.’ He goes on to point out that Germany (and the world) had already had enough of one impassioned vocal performance, one set of ‘fanatical dreams and loathsome prejudices’ imposed upon everyone. In terms of music, it’s why I’ve always struggled with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson and the rest — it’s just too much, I can’t breathe in here. Far better, as Alice Coltrane once pointed out, to remember we’re all nothing but grains of sands on the infinite beach of the universe — give me the aerated motorik pulse of Neu!, the windmilling drums of Cul de Sac, the simple understated beauty of Joan Shelley and Josephine Foster any day. You can hear the rumbling enormity of the cosmos (as well as the horrors of the twentieth century) in the tape work of Else Marie Pade; and I’m sure even David Bowie, who seemed to age with great dignity, came round to such a humble point of view in the end. (All are featured in the programme.)
But enough of that heaviness. Here’s Vic Mars’ video for a track from his new lp, The Land and the Garden
I was also pleased to read in Future Days that Neu! were apparently good footballers. I saw an excellent Michael Rother gig (thanks, Kevin & Rudi), appropriately enough, in a kind of nightclub/gig venue underneath Stamford Bridge this month. Roman Abramovich’s millions have at least been put to some good use in installing an excellent soundsystem (in a club that feels like a smaller, spruced up version of Rock City in Nottingham). It felt like seeing Neu! live, and I imagine Rother was a skilful, diminutive but tough attacking midfielder, sort of Luka Modric and Alan Ball rolled into one. With the exceptions of New Order, Pat Nevin and John Peel, the intertwined history of football and music is not generally a happy one . . . but then there was Half Man, Half Biscuit, and, in recent times, Derek Hammond of Yeah Yeah No has produced a fine series of books detailing lost aspects of football culture . . . and now, in flagrant contradiction of the sentiment in the opening paragraph above, please indulge us in a second of internet self-promotion, and don’t delay in placing your orders with all good newsagents and booksellers (or here) for The Heyday of the Football Annual, myself and Doug Cheeseman’s humble offering in the overcrowded retro-football marketplace. Features folk troubadour, Bert Jansch fan and Birmingham City midfielder Trevor Hockey, Honor Blackman’s thoughts on life at Craven Cottage, Liverpool’s Billy Liddell playing electric guitar, Glasgow Rangers’ squad ‘swinging the Clyde blues’, and much more. (Original hardback, annual-size printing, disappearing fast.)