I guess if someone put a gun to my head, the third section of my book, Listening to the Wind, Encounters with 21st Century Independent Record Labels, contains some of my favourite music in there — or at least some of the longest-cherished tunes; right back to a first trip to Chicago in 1998. It’s getting slightly crazy, though, that this is the second 3-hour broadcast to accompany the huge loop south from Chicago to Atlanta and Durham/Chapel Hill then up to New York and north of Boston — and I haven’t even finished yet (there’s a final return leg to Chicago still to come). Hats off to Lance and April of Dust-to-Digital in Atlanta who, since featuring in the last broadcast, have released the superlative boxset The Harry Smith B-Sides, taking the trouble to omit the tracks featuring racist language. Also featured here are a few numbers from Unseen Worlds and Temporary Residence in New York, and Important records of Groveland, Massachusetts. It’ll be three years this summer since I conducted these interviews, but this music is for life . . .
I guess when Omnibus hit upon May this year to publish Listening to the Wind: Encounters with 21st Century Independent Record Labels they weren’t counting on a worldwide pandemic closing all bookstores across the planet — but there you have it. Regular listeners will know the book has been brewing for a while, so thanks very much if you get a chance to pick one up (in the UK from either Blackwell’s, The Flood Gallery or The Wire bookshop when that reopens; hopefully in all good bookstores worldwide from July). More good timing: just as we emerge from lockdown, here’s a three-hour set that takes in just part of part 3 of the book: the road trip from Chicago down through Cincinnati south to Atlanta and North Carolina, pulling together the likes of Jeff Parker, Angel Bat Dawid, Caroline No, Moses ‘Doorman’ Williams, Paul Bowles’ 1959 recordings from Morocco, Jake Xerxes Fussell and Terry Allen. Scott (International Anthem), Alex (Students of Decay), Lance and April (Dust-to-Digital) and Brendan (Paradise of Bachelors) were all fine and engaging hosts and interviewees. (As was everyone — New York, Massachusetts, Chicago again: next show.) So thanks again to them, and thanks for listening — peace & love in these times. Doug’s mightily expanded part 3 playlist on Spotify is here; the QWFWQ v Silentgroundsman soundclash is here. To paraphrase Ryley Walker — who once scrawled over a copy of one of his lps in a shop, ‘Put this back in the bin, buy Miles Davis Live-Evil instead’ — switch off and tune into these two.
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!
Top 10 Albums
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.