Category Archives: Music

Favourite Music of 2011

Not necessarily new releases, just the stuff I liked this year. I’ll group them together, some of the groups are pretty natural, some a little more forced. No particular order except the first 2 are definitely in front – Leyland Kirby and Moon Wiring Club were my top favourites for the year.

Leyland Kirby / The Caretaker

  • Leyland Kirby – Intrigue & Stuff Vol 1 12″ (History Always Favors the Winners)
  • Leyland Kirby – Intrigue & Stuff Vol 2 12″ (History Always Favors the Winners)
  • Leyland Kirby – Intrigue & Stuff Vol 3 12″ (History Always Favors the Winners)
  • Leyland Kirby – Eager to Tear Apart the Stars LP (History Always Favors the Winners)
  • The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World LP (History Always Favors the Winners)
  • The Caretaker – Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia 6cd (V/Vm Test Records)

Incredibly all except the 6cd set were new releases this year. He’s always been regularly active but really seems to have hit a rich seam of creativity this year. The I&S 12″s were the particular highlights for me, quite different to the Caretaker stuff, more electronic and fitting well with a lot the other hauntological synth stuff around at the moment. The first one had some strong rhythmic material and as the series progressed the tracks stretched out into hazy soundscapes approaching the Eager  LP’s sound which was much closer to the familiar sound of the Caretaker. The Empty Bliss LP was a continuation of the explorations of memory through the looping of crackly old ballroom records on his previous Persistent Repetition of Phrases LP. The 6cd set from a few years ago (now out of print) is much darker, more in the abstract noise category, though different in sound it is similar in it’s epic scope (and as a marathon listening experience) to his other box set of recent years Sadly the Future is No Longer What It Was. I keenly look forward to what he has in stall for next year.

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Moon Wiring Club

  • A Spare Tabby At The Cat’s Wedding cd (Gecophonic)
  • A Spare Tabby At The Cat’s Wedding LP (Gecophonic)
  • Somewhere a Fox is Getting Married LP (Gecophonic)
  • Striped Paint For the Last Post cd (Gecophonic)
  • Shoes Off and Chairs Away cd (Gecophonic)

I’d been hearing about MWC for quite a while but hadn’t come across anything, probably because the albums aren’t available from many places (mostly just from the artist direct I think). After getting his debut album late last year I soon followed up by getting my hands on everything else that was available. In particular the newest stuff (two versions of Spare Tabby + the Fox LP) is brilliant and comes with a bizarre backstory. Not only is the music excellent but with MWC you get a whole fictional world based around the village of Clinkskell, lots of info is available at the excellent Blank Workshop. There’s a new MWC recording just out as well, still on the way in the post.

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Demdike Stare

  • Voices of Dust LP (Modern Love)
  • Liberation Through Hearing LP (Modern Love)
  • Forest of Evil LP (Modern Love)

These three LPs were rereleased in a nice package all bundled up together (also known as Tryptych). Pitchfork’s Mike Powell summed it up with ” I tried playing it while I slept a few times, and woke up in the middle of the night with a real oh god, what’s going on and how can I make it stop feeling, which in this context is an absolute plus.” Go and read the rest of the review. They also have something new just out, very limited though. Boomkat are already out of stock still have it (sorry, got it mixed up with a much older limited release which is out of stock). Aquarius still have some but not for long (it’s something else I’ve got on the way in the post).

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Flying Nun

  • Chills/Sneaky Feelings/Stones/Verlaines Dunedin Double 2EP
  • The VerlainesHallelujah All The Way Home LP
  • The VerlainesBird-Dog cd
  • The VerlainesSome Disenchanted Evening cd
  • The VerlainesYou’re Just Too Obscure For Me cd
  • Sneaky Feelings Positively George Street cd
  • The Bats Compilately cd
  • The ChillsKaleidoscope World cd
  • The Subliminals United State cd
  • The 3DsThe Venus Trail cd

With November being the 30th Anniversary of Flying Nun Records I got a bit carried away as evidenced by my 6 hour Flying Nun DJ Set and by going to Auckland to see The Clean & The Subliminals (though I was actually already going to NZ anyway). The anniversary prompted me to get hold of a bunch of FN stuff that I didn’t already have (including quite a bit brought back from the NZ trip), the list above are the highlights. As will be obvious I was particularly impressed by the Verlaines.

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Ghost Box

  • The Advisory Circle As the Crow Flies cd
  • Belbury PolyFrom An Ancient Star cd
  • The Focus Group Sketches & Spells cd
  • Pye Corner Audio with The Advisory Circle Study Series 07: Autumnal Activities 7″

I seriously caught up with the Ghost Box label this year, above are a few highlights but I got pretty much their whole back catalogue and it is all excellent.

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Editions Mego/Spectrum Spools

  • Oneohtrix Point NeverReplica cd (Editions Mego)
  • EmeraldsDoes It Look Like I’m Here? cd (Editions Mego)
  • Forma Forma LP (Spectrum Spools)
  • MistHouse 2LP (Spectrum Spools)
  • Bee MaskElegy For Beach Friday 2LP (Spectrum Spools)

The Mego label, known in the 90’s for European electronica from the likes of Fennesz, General Magic and Farmer’s Manual, has had a real resurgence of late based around Americans Oneohtrix Point Never and Emeralds (one of whom is responsible for the sub-label Spectrum Spools). The latest from OPN in particular is his best yet.

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Other New Electronic Music

  • BurialStreet Halo 12″ (Hyperdub)
  • VHS HeadMidnight Section EP (Skam)
  • PeverelistDance Til the Police Come 12″ (Hessle Audio)
  • ShackletonFireworks 2×12″ (Honest Jon’s)
  • ShackletonDeadman 12″ (Honest Jon’s)
  • ShackletonFabric55 cd (Fabric)
  • Ricardo Villalobos & Max LoderbauerRe:ECM 2cd (ECM)

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Free Explorations

  • Sun Araw – On Patrol 2LP (Sun Ark)
  • Sun Araw – Off Duty + Boat Trip EP + cd (Woodsist)
  • Fire! with Jim O’RourkeUnreleased? cd (Rune Grammofon)
  • Otomo Yoshihide’s New Jazz OrchestraOut to Lunch cd (Doubtmusic)
  • Borbetomagus Live in Allentown cd (Agaric)
  • George Steeltoe EnsembleChurch of Yuh LP (Heat Retention)
  • MV/EE Medicine ShowUranian Ray LP (Spirit of Orr)
  • Jandek Camber Sands Sunday cd (Corwood Industries)

Bit of a mixture of stuff, ranging from the psychedelic explorations of Sun Araw to the all out free jazz assault of Borbetomagus, the freak folk of MV/EE and Jandek is of course a genre of his own – but it all seems to share some sort of spirit in common. Mostly older releases which I only just caught up with except the Fire! one which was a new release in 2011.

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Warp Classics

  • Warp 10+3 Classics 2cd
  • LFOAdvance cd
  • Jackson & His Computer BandSmash cd
  • John CallaghanI’m Not Comfortable in My Mind dl

In the wake of the Warp Records 20th Anniversary I caught up with some of their back catalogue that I’d missed previously.

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Dark & Heavy

  • EarthAngels of Darkness, Demons of Light I cd (Southern Lord)
  • KhanateClean Hands Go Foul cd (Hydra Head)
  • JesuAscension cd (Caldo Verde)
  • Current 93Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain cd (Coptic Cat)

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  • Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz cd (Asthmatic Kitty)
  • DeerhoofDeerhoof vs Evil cd (Polyvinyl)
  • Times New VikingDancer Equired cd (Matador)
  • Akron/FamilyS/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT cd (Dead Oceans)

All people I got to see live for the first time this year except for Deerhoof who I’ll see very soon.

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  • BatriderPile of Lies cd (Two Bright Lakes)
  • CollarbonesIconography cd (Two Bright Lakes)
  • Avant GardernersMine Errant Vangarden LP
  • Rites WildRites Wild EP mc
  • Terrible Truthss/t 7″
  • Cheer Advisory CouncilDistance cd

Batrider aren’t Adelaide any more but were for part of the year at least, Collarbones qualify as being half Adelaide.

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Other Australian

  • Paradise MotelI Can Still Hear Your Voice At Night cd (Left Over Life to Kill)
  • Jack Ladder & The DreamlandersHurtsville cd (Spunk)
  • Ghoul – Dunks cd (Speak N Spell)
  • Rat Vs PossumDaughter of Sunshine cd (Sensory Projects)

All ones I got on the basis of gigs (in case of PM it was in Brisbane in late 2010). RvP has newer one out which I haven’t had a chance to listen to as much. JL I was into ages ago but then lost track of until a live performance this year renewed my interest.

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Flying Nun 30th Anniversary in November

The great New Zealand record label Flying Nun will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this November. I’ve previously featured an excellent documentary about them which can still be viewed.

To celebrate the anniversary I’m going to do an all Flying Nun set at the Metro, details in the poster below. Also a number of Flying Nun bands are touring NZ in November as part of the celebrations, though before that The Bats will be playing some Australian shows (east coast only).

Lots of great music below the fold

Continue reading →

R.E.M. videos

The announcement this week that REM are breaking up prompted me to dig out a few favourites on youtube

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Artificial Intelligence II

Some classic ambient electronica … just for the sake of it. B12, Seefeel and Link all from Warp’s Artificial Intelligence II compilation from 1994.

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Favourite New Music: Demdike Stare, Leyland Kirby, Shackleton

Good exchange rate = affordable vinyl.

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from Voices of Dust LP, just reissued in a limited edition together with two other vinyl releases from last year, Forest of Evil and Liberation Through Hearing.

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From brilliant new EP, Intrigue & Stuff Vol 1 (first of 4 apparently), very different to the previous material released under this name.

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One of two recent vinyl releases on Honest Jon’s – this one is Fireworks, the other is Deadman (which collectively include great remixes from The Bug, T++ and Mordant Music). Also still fairly new is Shackleton’s mix for Fabric which consists entirely of his own music from old Skull Disco stuff right through to new unreleased material.


The Blank Workshop

There’s not going to be much blogging for a while, I’ve moved house and am having trouble getting internet connected. In the meantime you can keep yourself busy by exploring the weird and wonderful world of The Blank Workshop. I recommend Scrumptytons Sweets, A Literary Expedition, the Clinkskell Tourist Board and A Spare Tabby at the Cat’s Wedding. Also I can heartily recommend anything they are selling in the online giftshop.

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Womadelaide Highlights: Monday

Monday didn’t really have 1 or 2 standouts for me like previous days, but there was plenty of stuff I liked throughout the day. When I got up on Monday morning I was feeling a bit exhausted from 3 days of Womad and wasn’t really sure I needed more but once I got there I found it to be really enjoyable, and like last year, had no regrets at all about going for the extra day.

The act that really got the day going for me was DakhaBrakha from Ukraine. I was on my way to see Asa again but heard these guys as I was passing and stopped to check it out, and ended up staying for the rest of their set. They were obviously popular since their cds sold out fairly early on. They are a trio with accordian, drums and cello, and all doing vocals. The droning cello work was probably what drew me in the most (would love to hear them play Venus in Furs!).

From then on the standard was high for the rest of the day, starting with Horace Andy on the adjacent stage right after they finished. Somehow in the leadup to the festival I’d sort of forgotten that he was playing with all the excitement of Omar Souleyman and Joanna Newsom being on the bill, and I missed his first set because of a clash. The first song didn’t really work for me, but from there on it was brilliant. Great singer, great songs, great band. Skylarking was a particular highlight. I’m a huge fan of the old Studio One stuff and loved the chance to see one of the stars of that era (reminded me of seeing Ernest Ranglin at my very first Womad).

The All Star Gala was run by Nitin Sawhney and was enjoyable with some genuine collaboration between various artists (including welcome reappearances by Horace Andy and Asa).

Then I was waiting around for The Necks, didn’t expect Juan De Marcos Afro-Cuban All Stars to be my sort of thing but was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it.

The Necks were once again brilliant, very nice laying back under the stars listening to them.

After they finished it felt a bit like everything was over, stalls were closing, people were leaving and I was getting sleepy, but resisted the urge to leave and stayed for Faiz Ali Faiz which turned out to be a great decision, as they brought the festival to a close with a brilliant display of qawwali.

Womadelaide Highlights: Sunday

Quick update before heading back over to Botanic Park.

Sunday highlights are no great surprise with a couple of my favourite artists performing.

One was Joanna Newsom (aka Joanna Newsom vs the Apocalypse as she had to contend with a plague of locusts/crickets/something similar invading the stage), great set with songs from all three albums – from memory the setlist was Easy, Have One On Me, Inflammatory Writ, Monkey & Bear, Soft As Chalk, Book of Right On, Good Intentions Paving Co.

Only problem at the start was they managed to stuff up by indicating it was seated in the printed program, but not seated in the online one. Apparently there were similar problems with Martha Wainright the day before as well, they really need to sort this out! To make it worse the text colour/shading to indicate either one off shows or seated shows followed opposite conventions in the two places.

Second highlight was the Necks who played a superb late night show. I’ll be back for more tonight, especially worth seeing them more than once since every set is spontaneously created so it’ll never be the same.

Also enjoyed Os Mutantes, and repeat performances from Tanya Tagaq and Natalie Natiembé

Womadelaide HIghlights – Saturday

Wow, Tanya Tagaq! No idea there was going to be something so out there at Womad, definitely the highlight of the day and one of the most distinctive performances I’ve seen anywhere.

Here she is with Rebecca Foon (A Silver Mt Zion)

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For Womad she’s doing a continuous (presumably improvised or at least largely so) performance accompanied by violin and electronics. She plays again tonight and does a workshop on Monday. It’s much more like something I’d expect at an experimental music festival rather than Womad – well done to them for being so adventurous.

Yesterday I also enjoyed the Workshop with Omar Souleyman and Rizan, the harp playing of Marshall McGuire, the entertaining French/Nigerian singer Asa and a repeat performance from Wildbirds & Peacedrums.