Third Light Home, December 2016, Sleevenotes

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.

Marisa Anderson / Into the Light from JODI DARBY on Vimeo.

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.

 

Third Light Home, October 15

October sleevenotes: I first heard ‘Blue Monday’ on a waltzer at Goose Fair in Nottingham, blaring out of the speakers. It blew my head off; it sounded fantastic. That would have been in October 1983; I’d’ve just started sixth-form college. I can’t feel quite so ecstatic about the new New Order lp, but it’s certainly very listenable, and, I dunno, but watching their 6 Music session from Maida Vale on late-night TV the other night there seemed something very dignified, almost humble, about their comeback ‒ something in the way they carried themselves. Peter Hook would possibly beg to differ; but I love the 1983-sounding guitar line in the track, ‘Nothing But A Fool’, included here. The past weighs a bit heavy on this show: I’ve pulled out a few reissued classics from twenty years ago ‒ Oval’s Systemisch; David Kaufmann and Eric Caboor’s Songs from Suicide Bridge (not that I knew that lp back then) ‒ and from forty years back some new/old Lee Perry and Upsetters’ tracks. Light in the Attic, Paradise of Bachelors, Pressure Sounds, Hot Milk, Fire records . . . old news to some of you, I’m sure, but these days I find myself eagerly checking out the new release schedules of these labels and (many) more. There’s a nice mix of old stuff, and new. I never really understand why more people don’t seem to follow labels rather than bands or solo acts. As the type across the bottom of the sleeve of my battered 12” of A Guy Called Gerald’s ‘Finley’s Rainbow’ says, ‘Remember, you’ll never know where it’s at until you learn where it’s from.’ True dat, even if they did spell ‘until’ wrong ‒ and there’s no credit to the original (Bob Marley’s ?)‘Sun is Shining’. The ‘previously unreleased dubplate mix’ from the Mr Perry, I Presume, the new Lee Perry lp on Pressure Sounds, is a bit spooky, but a beauty. All this provides a good excuse to dig out a drum & bass gem from back in the day; and this video made me laugh. (Especially the comment in the comments along the lines of, ‘This dancing, what is that?’)

We went to Goose Fair this year. The waltzer had a brake pedal and a taut wire, allowing you to really work up some stomach-churning revolutions. The cakewalk was bonkers; my daughter Edie won the Kentucky Derby; there was mushy peas and mint sauce (heaven) and beautiful autumn sunshine. There was just one person missing. RIP, Dad. I hope they’re playing Lonnie Donegan, Acker Bilk and Louis Armstrong up there.

 

Third Light Home, October 14

It’s not really a proper holiday unless I drag everyone miles out of town to an obscure or sought-after record shop. Before the kids were born – well, Ange was heavily pregnant – we managed to alight at the wrong stop on Michigan Avenue, Chicago. ‘It’s only a few blocks further up,’ I cheerily proclaimed. Two hours and several miles on, in the blazing noon-day heat, we arrived at the Quaker Goes Deaf only to find the shop closed because of a flood. ‘But we’ve come all the way from London,’ I whimpered, hopelessly, to the distracted owner. ‘Sorry, man. Next time.’ (There wasn’t a next time – it closed in 2005.)

There was the fantastic electronic/avant-garde retailer in the crumbling old town of Lisbon, which had Wire magazines stapled to the ceiling and in which I spent a fortune – largely on Portuguese improv and electronica and ambient records from Cologne. That was in 1997, when you could still come across goats wandering about the streets; seven years later I think we must have plied our daughter with three or four Heroic World ice-cream tubs to shut her up while I spent an afternoon scouring every street corner, climbing up cobbled passageways and down back alleys. No goats, and no record shop. (It’s not here either, though I wonder if it wasn’t the first incarnation of this, Preterito Perfeito?)Then there was the journey through the outer suburbs of Budapest in search of the city’s finest jazz emporium. Engineering works on the tram perhaps added a couple of hours to that trip. Eventually we made it, on a sweltering Friday afternoon, and haltingly translated the sign in the window: ‘Closed for August’. In more recent times I wish I’d taken greater advantage of the jazz retailers of Helsinki; and I’m still paying off a splurge in New York from a couple of years ago (once the guy St Mark’s bookshop had pointed me in the correct direction for the relocated Kim’s Underground).

It all started in Berlin, though, back in 1996, in what I’m pretty sure was the original Hard Wax shop. Ange translated the sign above the turntables for me: ‘only 20 records at one time, please’. That was unbelievable – at that time, if you wanted to hear something before purchasing it in London, you had to tough it out with the surly staff, then stand there while the whole shop listened to and passed judgement on what you were thinking of buying . . .

At the new Hard Wax this summer I found a handful of reggae 7”s I’d had in my notebook for a while, there still seemed to be about 15 turntables for use, and the shop was busy, even on a Monday afternoon. Life doesn’t get much better. It also added a spring in my step to see that Mr Free and Mrs Dead is still going strong in Nollendorfplatz. Two decades ago I picked up a cd of early Smog recordings there; this time I went for a Bonnie Prince Billy 7”, which didn’t quite make the cut this month – next show, maybe . . . (The photo this month is taken from a flea market in East Berlin. Sadly I didn’t quite have the wherewithal, resources or strength to tackle Easy Jet with this beauty.)

The Antiswarm’s Top 10 Tracks of 2013

1 – Through Me – Tom Rolands

A track so awesomely jackin from the taller half of the Chemical Brothers that it begs only one question: In the studio what the hell does Ed do?

2 – Stumbling Room – Dawn Hunger

Sadly now defunct but this track is testament to the power that  Andrew Hung and Claire Inglis had as a duo. A stuttering apocalyptic rhythm frames the wailing vocal and builds to a stunning ending. Like nothing else you’d have heard all year

3 – Big Room Tech House DJ Tool Tip! – Joy-O

I realised the genius of this tune at about 4am in a tent at the Eastern Electric festival. Got to be the best bassline of the year. Annoyingly only released on Vinyl

4 – Big Love – Matthew E White

This tune makes me wish I played bass better. Also it has a chorus of back-up singers swearing their heads off. Makes of the rest of his album seem really bland

5 – GoGo Bop (A Trip To The Bodega) – Cheeba Starks presents The Toupe Committee

A breakbeat techno masterpiece with a genuinely un-nerving sample. A small girl asks over and over ‘About the date we’re having. Come to my house, bring a lot of money’. Unsettling in all the right ways

6 – Clear the Air – Jacco Gradner

From the amazing Cabinet of Curiosities album this track wrong-foots you with a  discordant chorus that runs against the happy flower power verse. Good like Pop Levi’s ‘Blue Honey’ and recommended for fans of Foxygen

7 – Gallows – Dogstate

The only band to make it into both my album and track chart. This tune makes me want to drive very very fast and shoot guns and do badasssss shit. This is the type of music Josh Homme should be making if he still had balls

8 – Inter – Function

A beautifully sparse ambient techno track that has stopped everyone I played it to in their tracks. vaguely like the Orb at the height of their powers. It has other stuff going on behind it that you can’t make out. Intriguing

9 – Cheap Beer – FIDLAR

This LA skate punk band school you about their drinking habits in this 2.25sec rabble-rousing song. Good enough to open an Antiswarm show then it’s more than good enough for this list

10 – Headache – Metz

Another show opener, these guys remind me of the never talked about Nirvana ‘Bleach’ album only better. Very powerful live. The album all sounds the same – in a good way

The Antiswarm’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

1 – Foxygen – We Are the 21st Centuary Ambassadors of Peace and Magic.

Just a fantastic journey from start to finish that has just the right measures of nostalgia and innovation. If you have the Winter blues then this is the album for you. Also a European tour cancelled for ‘Creative health’ reasons heightens the mystique

2 – Jagwa Ma – Howlin

A great mix of ‘baggy’ tripped out early acid and beach boy vibes. I prefer the tunes that favour the former but it’s a very listenable album that got played in the garden a lot this year. Try the 12 minute Pachanga Boys remix of ‘Come and Save Me’ for the ultimate blissed out version

3 – Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare

For fans of 80s pink Floyd CSN and post Beatles solo projects this album, like it’s predecessor is an embarrassment of riches. I found it required a few listens but the songwriting just gets you. Try Dear Friend as a taster.

4 – DaftSide – Darkside Daft Punk Remix album

This came out about 3 weeks after the original, is totally unauthorised and shows that there is a decent album somewhere in the original. If you think you wouldn’t like a acid reggae mix of ‘Get Lucky’ – Think again!

5 – Holydrug Couple – Noctary

Just really good. If you like Tame Impala you’ll like this. Also they are from Chile. Track 3 is a killer – “Follow Your Way

6 – Valient Thorr – Our Own Masters

Any year with a Valient Thorr album is a good one. Probably their most commercial single ‘Torn Apart‘ blazed the trail showing that as well as their punk metal sensibility these boys can carry a tune too. I always describe their sound as somewhere between Thin Lizzy and Gallows. Probably the most enthusiastic band live at the moment

7 – Pond – Hobo Rocket

Billed as the band ‘Tame Impala aren’t brave enough to be’, this 5th offering from the Perth Aussies certainly pushes some boundaries. It lurches from blissed-out psych ambience to Sabbath style riffs at the drop of a hat. More of this please!

8 – Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

I was never that fussed by these guys but after a sojourn as Roky Erickson’s backing band they’ve come back much more interesting. Like a mix of early Floyd, the Doors and any good stoner band you can think of.. Great live as well. Try this single “Don’t Play with Guns”

9 – Dogstate – Let It Loose

These guys described their sound as ‘Stripper Music’ to me followed up by a big dirty laugh. I think they’re selling themselves short as fans of Danzig, The Cult, Led Zep and Soundgarden will find things to like in here. Josh Homme would cut off his right arm for a riff like “Gallows” right now

10 – Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us is a Killer

Like Valient Thorr, a new DEP album is a blessing, all-be-it a very dark and aggressive one. I’ve come to think of them as the math rock equivalent of the Ink Spots in that a lot of their tunes start off the same. But it’s the detail and intensity that follows that sets them apart from all other bands at the moment. Probably my gig of the year at Kokos in October