Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"I had good intentions"

So since 2013 we've been blogging about Disclosure. It's funny to see how massive these brothers have become - MASSIVE. They're part of the mainstream in America, which is really saying something I think, for a dance act from the UK. But it goes to show how much ground house music has broken here in Yankland in recent years...and yes even though house music has been American all along, being born in the gay black scenes of Chicago.

For the last week or so I've been listening to both of Disclosure's albums. Laugh at me for writing this way late, way past when these albums have been released - but I don't care. "Settle" from 2013 really seems to be just 24/7 house, while "Caracal" is more pop and r&b focused. I won't post up the links to the songs here, since they're so well-known and easy to find, but my favourites from "Caracal" are "Jaded" (even though I think it has too many lyrics), "Good Intentions" (I infuse some Sufism into it) and the closing track "Masterpiece", which is a real surprise.

Excerpt from a pitchfork interview (laugh, I don't care):
"The thing that got us into garage was dubstep. And once you’re into dubstep, you just start tracing it back. Because dubstep is obviously stemmed from grime, and grime is from garage, and garage from house. That’s the path we found.
In college, I had loads of friends who were into grime and I went to grime and dubstep raves. After a while, DJs just started playing old house and garage records again! We were going to watch Oneman, Jackmaster, and Ben UFO, back in 2009, and those guys were dropping old-school garage records—every third song would be an absolute classic. And we had no idea what some of those songs were. That’s when we decided to buy all that stuff and learn about it. Just because we were 10 years old the first time around doesn’t mean we can’t listen to it now; even though we got to it late, we still discovered it naturally, through buying records."

Man, 2009 both seems like yesterday and also a really long time ago. Time is elastic, I've thought for a while now.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gorgon City Rinse FM mix from February 2015

House music is THE BEST WORK MUSIC.


I love mixes and I've loved this one since it came out. God, it's 2 hours of PURE BLISS.


Thank you Gorgon City! Muah.
(I also have exciting news regarding music and me...ooh la la).

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Memories of the Future*

* RIP The Spaceape

Self-loathing a go go
I grew up in the 80's and 90's and one thing I'm still pretty nostalgic for from my youth are tapes, cassette tapes -- TDK D90s and the like.  They have an appeal to me that vinyl and CD's don't.  I was at home today and I stuck on an old tape just to have something to listen to, one I dug out from a box in my parents' basement on one of my Michigan trips.  Didn't look at the tracklist or anything, just put it on.  While listening I guessed it's from the late 90's as most of the tracks seem to have been taped from CD's I was reviewing for my old college station.  All electronic, including some euphoric trance!  A couple of the tracks made me look at the tape to figure out what they were though.  First up is 'Rae' by Autechre.  I was surprised when I saw it was them as in my mind Autechre are very angular and harsh, where as this is a very pretty tune:

The other track I looked at the cover for is by an artist I cannot remember at all anymore -- Chistoph De Babalon.  Here are some nice breakbeats:

While I'm at at, I'll put something by Genaside II up as well.  A very mysterious act I came across on a cover mounted free cassette with the long-defunct Select magazine.  This was basically pre-internet so I never really knew a whole about them, but they had some crazy imagery, I remember that.  I'll do some digging tonight.  This version of the track, a vocal version, is actually hard/impossible to find outside of that cassette -- so hard that I've just recorded it to wav from the original cassette and am putting it on soundcloud (actually that didn't happen, so I'm using another random site, god knows how long this'll stay up).  Appreciate!

Try this link if the player doesn't work

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Whoa! Hey!
I'm back! Whoever reads this! (Somehow each post gets hundred of views? Who are you all?? Tell us).

I now live in the very sunny city of Los Angeles. I can't remember the last time it rained here. Earlier this week for 3 days it was at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anyway, enough about the weather. As a resident of this city, like many I ended up getting a car and in said-car (I named her Mariana...and also one of my two protagonists in the next film I'm writing is also named Mariana...heh) I listen to the radio. The legendary KCRW plays some good stuff sometimes. Thursday night on my late drive home I realized that they play some electronic tunes and other cool things.

A couple of discoveries I made so far, the new Burial tune - which Fahad says he blogged or WhatsApp'd about before, oops. Check it out, it's fantastique:

Another one is by a band I never heard of, apparently they are a Australian "psychedelic rock" band. Well upon reading that Wikipedia description of them I may not get around to hearing more of their stuff, but this tune is great. Here's the longer version, rather than the radio version, of "Let It Happen" by Tame Impala:

More soon. I must say, Shazam is extremely handy.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Summertime '83

I do feel like most things in pop have already been done.  Not exactly a profound thought, I know.  I heard this Style Council song for the first time today (go ahead, judge me) and I found it to be so 2010's -- more so after watching the quite astonishing video.  Very sexual?  Check.  Wonky R&B played by white people?  Check.  Drake-style dad dancing?  Check.  Retro (!) electronics?  Check.  It's got it all!

A couple of months ago I finished my second Mark Radcliffe book.  I quite like the bloke as a DJ but his writing is... surprising.  Actually what's surprising is that he's had so many books published.  Anyway, the one I read recounts tales from his life in music, and includes an account of his first interview with David Bowie.  At the time Bowie said that his favourite albums of his own were 'Diamond Dogs'and 'Lodger' so of course I checked those out from the library and yeah, not bad.  'Diamond Dogs' has that 70's sound that I'm not really into right now, the glam thing, but 'Lodger' was better than expected.  I was afraid of something sludgy but it's quite bright, which I suppose makes sense since it came out on the cusp of the 80's.

Incidentally, the cover to 'Lodger' wouldn't look out of place today -- it looks like a (good) fashion ad.

The artist formerly known as Throwing Shade is now trading under her own name of Nabihah Iqbal and is about to release a new album on Ninja Tune.  I heard the first single off of it online yesterday and on the radio today, and it's quite nice -- has a very 80's sound to it, and I can relate to it's lyrics about ennui upon waking up in the morning very well!  It's extra interesting to me because, having seen a video of her process, I feel like I can almost hear how the track was made.  That's not to belittle her achievement, or say it was easy -- there's still musical talent involved (and after all, she's studied ethnomusicology at SOAS!).  But check out her FACT video and maybe you'll be able to hear the components of the new single too.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I can't stand the

Sometimes I wonder if there's any point in posting, since a lot of my posts are basically "hey, I heard this and liked it".  But then I look back on a post, hear something great that I posted, and think this is worth it damn it!  Even if the posts are ultra simple, maybe it's something a reader hasn't come across... and if nothing else it's a useful archive for me/us.

So, on to what I've heard and liked recently, heh.  Vince Staples is a rapper out of Long Beach who's quite critically acclaimed -- in fact his latest album, Big Fish Theory, has been described as the second best rap album of 2017 so far (first being Damn by Kendrick Lamar, which is good, so good that when he pops up on Big Fish Theory I get quite happy).  I had to listen to it with praise like that, so got it out from the library.  I've found it a mixed bag -- overall good, but some of the production is a little overwhelming, at least as heard in my car.  There a couple of tracks I really like though, I only wish they were longer!  Almost every track on the album is around three minutes long, or less, which just doesn't seem like enough to me.  Interesting little thing I noticed -- at least three of the tracks mention rain; I wonder if the recent end of the drought in Southern California affected Staples' writing?

First track up is Crabs in a Bucket.  It's the opener for the album, and I was hoping it would set the tone for a UK funky type of direction, but it didn't -- the album is pretty electronic though.  This track actually reminds me a bit of Hyph Mngo by Joy Orbison -- see what you think:

It's definitely a track that I'd like to see a full 12 inch version of, with remixes, if things like that still happen -- could work well on the dancefloor.

Next is up is a track called Alyssa Interlude, but don't let the name fool you -- it's not much shorter than the other tracks on the album, and yeah, I wish it was a lot longer -- it feels like it's just getting started when it ends.  Features an interesting clip of Amy Winehouse talking at the beginning:

The album itself is only 12 tracks, so a quick listen and I would say worth checking out. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Joints

The library is demanding I return a few CD's I've had for a while so I thought I'd write a little about them first.  After all the hype around Sampha and his debut album, Process, I decided to check him out a bit, but I wanted to go back to the source -- I read about his guest appearances on albums by SBTRKT so started there.  To be honest, while I think Sampha has a unique voice with a very warm quality to it, he wasn't really doing it for me; I even saw him live recently, with the XX, and felt the same way; just not feeling it.  But I do like SBTRKT!  He has some really great sounds on his records; I particularly love the squelchy synth bass on this track, Wildfire:

Features Little Dragon -- keep coming across them recently.  Another good thing I've noticed about that track in particular is that it rewards repeated listening -- I keep hearing new sounds that I hadn't noticed before, like the warbles behind the singer's voice at certain points.

Second CD due back is 'Malibu' by Anderson Paak.  Now, this guy is hardly unheard of; in fact I decided to check the album out after getting round to listening to a best of 2016 podcast from NPR.  But there's so much music out there these days, including so much lauded good music, that even though he's on best of lists that doesn't mean you've come across him -- all I'd seen was the name, but hadn't heard anything.  Really glad I got the album out though, as it's really good.  I've been listening to the whole thing at a time as it all gels really well, though I can't say it's been sit-down in-depth listening -- mostly it's been on in the living room on a weekend morning.  But I'm cool with that -- music that I can just put on and enjoy is more than welcome.

Non-library and newer listening now.  I came across JLin thanks to NPR first listen.  The accompanying write up for her album Black Origami talks about one of her records being played by Aphex Twin recently, her album being on Planet Mu (a UK label), and how some footwork-y music has junglist elements to it.  All pretty interesting stuff and, to be honest, I even found the fact that she's a black woman releasing this type of music pretty cool and unusual in that I don't come across that often (maybe I'm looking in the wrong places). And she's from Gary, Indiana!  I stopped there, once, in a snowstorm, on the way to Chicago with my brother and cousin -- we wanted to check out what was then described as the most dangerous city in America; we didn't stay long. Anyway, the album's hyper-erratic beats don't necessarily do it for me, but I do like this next track, and can definitely hear sounds that would fit right into some jungle:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Time only moves one way

Just a few notes and jottings here.

This article on Monoloc and production is worth hanging on to.  Some good stuff about the use of space, background noise.  And the tunes aren't bad either.

Prolific rapper Oddisee's got a dancey track, Things, on his latest album, the Iceberg, that I didn't want to get overlooked.  As usual  you can hear the entire album at the bandcamp page.

Another boring technical thing here -- Four Tet talking about how he does his thing live:

I've read that he does everything in Ableton when it comes to making music, but it's interesting how he changes things up to play out live.  I've seen him live, actually playing out the album that you hear bits of here, so it's extra interesting to see how he did it.

Finally, I've got around to listening to the third XX album, I See You.  Haven't heard it all yet, and I know I'm late to this track, but really like it -- it's got me looking up how-to bits on dub rhythms and bass lines:

Two things really get me on this track -- the lovely nostalgic feeling has me looking back to college and all that emotional up and down; and I'm really impressed by the singing -- both singers really displaying that they've got great voices when the raise the volume a bit.  Looking forward to seeing them next month.  

Friday, April 7, 2017


One thing I've long admired about Brits is their focus on fun and having a good time.  It's one thing i really (and unexpectedly) found missing when I moved to America at the age of 16 . The radio had multiple country stations, and rock/alt rock stations, and rap/RnB stations, but most of what was on MTV and so on wasn't fun -- it was rock, it was angst, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana (still), hardly hedonistic good time stuff (as an aside, this is why I got into RnB and some hip hop for a while, and watched a lot of BET -- that was fun and forward sounding w/cool electronic production by the likes of Timbaland and the Neptunes, while a lot of alt-radio was still playing tracks off of 'Nevermind'.  I didn't come round straight away, but I got there and have stayed there, kind of).  As for dance music, basically nowhere to be found, which was really weird as I was living in a Detroit suburb!  Clubbing was not mainstream at all, there was no funkiness, no dancing, not that I could come across easily anyway, not compared to the mid-90's UK I'd left behind where the Prodigy were already on Top of the Pops and the second summer of love had happened when I was around 10.  The school bus was (pretty) girls with goth make up and dyed hair, or wannabe gangstas with the pants falling off their bums (all the way back in 1995) who insisted on putting Bone Thugs N Harmony on the cassette deck.  Once we got cable we'd tape shows like AMP and 120 minutes on MTV, later on waiting for the one or two good videos to come on, while forwarding through the rest.  I remember being in shock when I wore a Prodigy beanie to school (ordered via a UK cousin, through the post) and the kid who sat behind me in maths knew who they were (really regret not talking to him more about that, but my social goals back then were pretty bizarre).  There were kids who liked some of what we liked, some of the UK indie stuff, but sadly those kids were mostly weirdos with no friends, and I considered myself somewhat normal, perhaps even cool.  Sometime later I started listening to pop radio, and made the most of what I could I find on there, things like the Venga Boys for instance... (I should note that there was a brief period in the later 90's and early 00's when things did improve -- not to UK levels, but still a lot better; Detroit gained a proper club in Motor lounge, and 89x started broadcasting live sets from there on weekend nights).

Where is all this leading?  Well, it's leading to Jamiroquai and a recent nostalgia-fuelled video binge I had.  I like Jamiroquai, always have, ever since seeing them perform 'Too Young to Die' on TOTP when it first came out.  I like that they're funky, fun, dance-orientated.  Some people seem to think they're uncool, or like them in some sort of ironic way, but I don't care.  The hats are dumb (but show an admirable lack of self-regard), the didgeridoo stuff doesn't do it for me (see previous bracketed note), but the rest is great!  So many great songs, such great sounds!  Jamiroquai exemplify that fun loving Britishness to me.  They represent to me the British desire to dance, and to explore danceable music in all it's forms.  Part of the history of British pop seems to be hearing cool danceable music, exploring it, and then putting it back out into the world -- from the Beatles to acid house, and yes, to acid jazz too.  I do wonder how all the modern PC types feel about that in the age of cultural appropriation and all that, but I don't wonder too much.  Jay Kay and the band are back with a new album now, and a tour, and I'm happy to report they're getting good reviews for both, with an appreciation of their past too -- writers have noted that the Jamiroquai sound can be traced to the latest Daft Punk stuff, as well to what people like Pharrell are doing.  Really, the acid jazz label needs to be dropped and replaced with something far more credible and honest -- Jamiroquai, Britain's greatest disco outfit.

Aah, good times.  Peak, peak TOTP, when live preformance was emphasised.

Fun.  Smooth.  Lovely.

Another thing to love -- great dance moves.  That man is 47 and he still hops around like that.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alive 2017

Sorry it's been so long.  I've thought about the neglect I've been showing this blog but kept thinking I hadn't really heard anything so there was nothing to write about.  Thought about it again yesterday and realised I've been wrong -- I've heard quite a lot that I've never blogged on, and all quite recently -- Skepta, SBTRKT, the new Depeche Mode, the new Tribe Called Quest, and more besides.  So plenty of stuff to cover.  I've also started to mess around a bit with making music myself.  I won't bore you with the details, but it's meant that I've been listening much more deeply to the music I hear now, which has been really good; it's been a while since I enjoyed music so much in that way.  I'll take it slowly though.  I'll start here with Roisin Murphy, as I have some time at the moment.

I first came across Ms Murphy back when she was in Moloko.  I heard "Sing It Back" while visiting the UK one summer and loved it.  But that and "The Time is Now" were all I really heard by them.  I'm in the US and Moloko weren't terribly big over here; I wasn't able to follow them or Roisin at all as she never came on my radar.

(Just heard that for the first time in years -- Wow.  The lyrics are great!)

 Then, years later, "Hairless Toys" came out and I made a Petridis-review based decision, one I've not regretted.  It's a lovely album, full of electronic music that's weird enough to be interesting but still very funky and danceable.  In fact I really should get it out and listen to it some more.

 That was in 2015; then Roisin came back up on my radar again at the end of last year, I forget why now.  I started looking her and her back catalogue up and bought "Overpowered" due to more good reviews.  There are some great tracks on there, and reading more about Roisin had me regretting that I wasn't following her all along.  Luckily she's still around and still doing great work so hopefully I'll get to see her live soon.   A stand out track from "Overpowered" is "Primitive", which I'll post below.  I love the sounds, the skittery beats, and Roisin's singing.

That's it for now.  The plan is for more soon.  But you know what they say about plans.