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.)
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.
Arge invites you back into his world of Cinematronica. An eclectic mix of electronica, jazz, beats and film score, liberally spread with some spoken word.
This months show features Paul Hartnoll, John Carpenter, Jonny Greenwood, Giorgio Moroder, Ghostpoet, Edwyn Collins, Max Cooper, Penguin Cafe, Public Service Broadcasting, Grasscut some Dub Pink Floyd and Leonard Nimoy.
- Vermont – Vermont
- Ty Segall – Manipulator
- Temples – Sun Restructured – Beyond The Wizards Sleeve Reanimations
- Matt Berry – Music For Insomniacs
- Royal Blood – Royal Blood
- Lone – Reality Test A
- King Grizzard and the Lizard Wizard – I’m in your Mind Fuzz
- Objekt – Flatlands
- John Steel Singers – Everything’s a Thread
- Cheatahs – Cheatahs
As a format the album’s relevance is rightly questioned these days but I still seem to be listening to a hell of lot of them. So if you enjoy an album too and you can be arsed to listen to any of the above you’ll hear there’s quite a lot ambient stuff in there especially Vermont, The Temples remix album (both masterpieces in my opinion) and special mention has to go to Matt Berry who turned in a soundscape album with head nods to Pink Floyd’s spacier moments and KLF’s Chill Out. There are only 2 tracks on it, both 23 minutes long so what with his Toast of London series the man is a god in the Antiswarm’s household right now. Continuing the good work done by Tame Impala, Jagwar Ma and Pond, fellow Aussies King Grizzard release their 5th album and it’s killer, chocked full of weird detunings and probably the most adrenalin fuelled tunes of all year. The first 3 tracks all run together and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Also from that neck of the woods, The John Steel Singers (terrible name, ignore it) produced an african tinged, melodic Krautrock masterpiece. Something in the water over there on the groovier end of the spectrum right now I think.
- Trash Talk – SOS
- Greys – Use Your Delusion
- John Steel Singers – Everythin’s a Thread – Live At The Plutonium
- Foxygen – How Can You Really
- Beck – Heaven’s Ladder
- Tweak Bird – A Sign of Badness
- Ital – Endgame
- Hookworms – On Leaving
- Hercules & Love Affair feat John Grant – I try to Talk to You (Seth Troxler Extended NYC Mix)
- Action Bronson – Easy Rider
Singles wise it’s not been the greatest year for the angrier end of music with some significant ball dropping by Fucked Up, Cerebral Ballzy and The Datsuns to name a few. So I thought I’d include a few adrenalin soaked tunes here to try a redress the balance. Shouts then to Trash Talk for delivering a classic in the shape off SOS that shows a different, more atmospheric take on their normal straightforward hardcore (it probably just sounds like shouting to you but give it a go eh?). Greys pick up the baton where Metz left off and Everett True, the featured voice of the John Steel track delivers a harrowing time travelling story of mental anguish with tongue firmly in cheek (I hope!) Elseware, Foxygen’s marvellous ‘How Can You Really’ gets included despite delivering the most disappointing album of the year in the shape of ” …And Star Power”. After last years amazing effort this seemed like someone had let the praise go to their heads and then forgotten to put any effort in. A big mess and not in a good way. C Minus! Beck hogs his sheet music album’s best track and to great effect in Heaven’s Ladder. Despite being lyrically a bit clunky it’s as close as he’s ever come to the Beatles. Great tune. Finally the massively under rated Tweak Bird turned in a slow burner of an album in the form of ‘Any Ol’ Way’. A sign of Badness was the most immediate tune that jumped out with it’s restrained tempo full of malice like the best Bonham beat. The rest of the album is not so shabby either. Check it out.
A great year as ever if you dig hard enough. Roll on 2015!