Third Light Home new show, February 16

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.)

ps, both Josephine Foster and Joan Shelley are in the UK on tour this month.

The Antiswarm’s Top 10 Lists of 2015

So it’s been a slow year for the Antiswarm with only 2 shows posted, but in these days of sensory overload I feel quality not quantity needs to win the race. Having said that I promise to do better next year! So to try and redress the balance (a bit) here are my top 10 tracks and albums of 2015. Before I started my faulty memory told me  it had been a fairly quiet year compared to the last few music wise but I was pleasantly surprised by my trawl through Spotify and iTunes. And so, here are the fruits of me meticulously poring over this year’s musical landscape so you don’t have to. Any additions, corrections or just general chat are welcome at [email protected] and you can follow me at TheAntiswarm on Twitter. Perhaps I’ll get the hang of Instagram next year. Who knows eh?

 

Top 10 Tracks (in no particular order)

1. Boil Yer Blood – Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind

Last year Jim dissolved the Jim Jones Review saying that the Rock n’ roll thing had run it’s course. He’s now persuing a more mysterious vibe with the Righteous Mind and with a new album coming in 2016 Boil Yer Blood was the first taster for his ravenous fans. It did not disappoint!

2. Lung – Blanck Mass

3. The Great Confuso Pts I,II and III – Blanck Mass

Having given us the fantastic Big Dumb Flesh album in May,  Benjamin John Power in his Blanck Mass guise rounds the year off nicely with the Great Confuso EP. Part II is a little bit too crazy for me but is bookended by 2 of the best bits of music I’ve heard all year. Truly an artist maturing with every release.

4. Everything is in Colour – Cherushii

Joyously random find on Youtube. From Stockholm I think and the standout track from the ‘Memory of Water’ Album. Perfect 90s style ambience

5.  Silverlake – Eagles of Death Metal

My wife and I were at the London gig with these guys a week before all the insanity in Paris took place. The band and crew are such lovely people and our hearts go out to them and all the fans involved. We hope to see them back in the UK soon and that they will be remembered for the right reasons not just because of the shootings. This was the best track on their latest album ‘Zipper Down’.

6. Sticky Hulks – Thee Ohs Sees

This track just blows my mind constantly….on  a loop….constantly…..on a loop….seriously……listen to it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7. Hogre – Evight Morker

One of the many great tracks on the Prins Thomas triple mix pack ‘Paradise Goulash’ (awesome name). Very crisp electronica. Good in the morning I find.

8.  Daffodils (feat. Kevin Parker) – Mark Ronson

I’ve had a soft spot for Mark Ronson for a long time. I was gutted when the second single ‘Feel Right’ (way better than Uptown Funk in my opinion) was too filthy to play at home in front of my 9 year old but at the same time I like the fact that he didn’t clean it up. Daffodils is amazing and it features Kevin Parker from Tame Impala so I basically can’t lose. This opened up my DJ sets for most of the summer. Check out this live version with a cheeky Riders on the Storm bassline and some seriously eccentic lead guitar antics!

9. Gosh – Jamie XX

The end of this sounds so much like Belfast by Orbital that I was immediately transported to a rave in 1992. So much good old school house being produced at the moment. If you like this sort of stuff check out Tuff City Kids and Paul Woolford’s Special Request project.

10. It’s Just (House Of Dupree) – Leon Vynhall

Again just amazing house music with a really weird intro.

 

 

Top 10 Albums (in no particular order)

1. Sour Soul – Ghostface Killah and Badbadnotgood

For me Ghostface is one of the greatest rappers ever. He tells a story like no other and the marriage of his vocals and Jazz trio Badbadnotgood’s backing tracks is unique in my opinion. It’s like listening to Rakim spit over the Superfly soundtrack only better. It also features Antiswarm favourite Doom and has some incredible instrumental tracks as well. Killah!

2. Pattern of Excel – Lee Bannon

Not so much an album as a bunch of interesting soundscapes that morphs into something vaguely coherent. It’s a real grower so give it time and it will reward you.

3. El Reino Invisible – Leandro Fresco

I like listening to this in the morning as it’s very atmospheric and chilled. Kompakt released this and the quality of their output is always top notch. A close second on this label would be the Kolsch ‘1983’ album. The Germans stayed strong this year.

4. Undertow – Drenge

A bit of QOTSA, a bit of Ian Brown and something quite unique makes this a really enjoyable album plus they have a great drummer. I need to see them live!

5. Currents – Tame Impala

Undeniably good. Also a great video to boot.

6. Mutilator Defeated At Last – Thee Oh Sees

Took a while to grow on me but this is on par with the last 2 albums in terms of quality i.e. excellent. They straddle a sort of proggy, garage, indie style I’ve never heard anywhere else and live they are a demented gonzo affair with 2 drummers. Very, very good!

7. A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Pt 4 Wizards of Oz – Amorphous Androgynous

Long after the Antiswarm was knitting together the psychedelic strands twitching over the horizon from Australia, the Amorphous Androgynous give us an in depth look at the OZ scene both new and old. If you’ve never heard the Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble comps you are in for a treat and this edition doesn’t disappoint.

8. Contrepoint – Nicholas Godin

Ok so an album inspired by Bach played by an enigmatic Parisian dandy might sound pretentious. It is, but it’s also great and reminds me how much I miss Air in their heyday.

9. Kingsman OST – Henry Jackman

Childish but it makes me feel like I’m a spy on my way to work! Henry Jackson turns in a brilliant fusion of dark electronica and orchestral pieces in his score for a film that along side The Men from Uncle hopefully paves the way for more playful spy/adventure films. Hans Zimmer take note.

10. In Colour – Jamie XX

It’s weird for me to see other end of year lists and agree with them but Jamie XX and Tame Impala have made the sort of albums this year it would be churlish to deny. There’s one duff track in the middle. Delete it is my advice. Here’s the brilliant Special Request remix of ‘Loud Places’. Enjoy!

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 May 15 sleevenotes

A Wednesday lunchtime at Ronnie Scott’s.
The sun shining down on to dancefloor in the upstairs bar; a nice-looking drum kit tucked away at the back; an ice-cold beer, with some old friends, just after midday. Brilliant. It doesn’t get much better — and in conversation with Richard Williams was the critic Brian Case, ex-of the NME, Melody Maker and Time Out, and now happily retired, enjoying just listening to music or reading a book without having to strain for an adjective or a rush of adverbs.

Because of my line of work I’ve sat through a fair few literary readings or ‘in conversations’ in my time, mind wandering, trying to remember if I’d turned the oven off before I left, worrying about something ultimately irrelevant at work. But this was different: hugely engaging tales of a life in books and music, of picking Dexter Gordon up from Heathrow Airport in a battered old green van in the rain in 1971; of loving the simple speed of Johnny Griffin; of dealing with the razor-sharp wit of Ronnie (Scott) himself (and the bar’s staff during the venue’s heyday); of the ecstatic life-affirming nature of jazz, but also of ‘down’ writers like David Goodis.

The occasion was to mark the publication of On the Snap by Caught by the River books. The book itself is full of such yarns, the encounters around the pieces of journalism, rather than the journalism itself — hiding behind a breakfast counter of a Danish hotel to check out whether Tom Waits was a fake or not; celebrating the genius of Ian Dury’s rhyming slang; talking about great American writers with Norman Mailer. And on and on. It’s a slim volume, but with a huge canvas.
There are only a couple of jazz tracks in this show, but what beauties: Don Cherry live in Nantes in 1964 and, right at the end, Gerry Mulligan at the Newport Jazz festival in 1958. Serendipitously, it turns out Gerry Mulligan was one of the first jazzers caught live by a young, teenage Brian Case in Deptford.

Third Light Home, May 2015 by Seeks Music on Mixcloud

Antiswarm’s Top 10 Lists of 2014

Albums

  1. Vermont – Vermont
  2. Ty Segall – Manipulator
  3. Temples – Sun Restructured – Beyond The Wizards Sleeve Reanimations
  4. Matt Berry – Music For Insomniacs
  5. Royal Blood – Royal Blood
  6. Lone – Reality Test A
  7. King Grizzard and the Lizard Wizard – I’m in your Mind Fuzz
  8. Objekt – Flatlands
  9. John Steel Singers – Everything’s a Thread
  10. 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.

 

Singles

  1. Trash Talk – SOS
  2. Greys – Use Your Delusion
  3. John Steel Singers – Everythin’s a Thread – Live At The Plutonium
  4. Foxygen – How Can You Really
  5. Beck – Heaven’s Ladder
  6. Tweak Bird – A Sign of Badness
  7. Ital – Endgame
  8. Hookworms – On Leaving
  9. Hercules & Love Affair feat John Grant – I try to Talk to You (Seth Troxler Extended NYC Mix)
  10. 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!