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Utility Fog

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Sunday, 23rd of September, 2012

Playlist 23.09.12 (10:10 pm)

Huge amount of stuff came in this week, of which I managed to play perhaps 2/3. Which is fine, because more great stuff next week!
Huge special on Talk Talk, mind you, took up much of the second half — due to the release this week of the 2CD tribute compilation Spirit of Talk Talk.
LISTEN AGAIN as usual... stream online at FBi, subscribe to podcast, download below.

Opening track tonight comes courtesy of the lovely string duo Geese, who sent me their remix of trip-hoppy collective Rude Audio. Geese remixes are always pretty much amazing, and this is no exception — bouncing bows and driving rhythms, most excellent. No idea what the original sounds like, mind you :)

And then we dive into a pile of awesome tunes from Californian solo artist yyu. His new album's on the tape (and Bandcamp) label Beer on the Rug, but he has a bunch of stuff also on his own Bandcamp, and it's the kind of bewildering music I love, never settling on one particular genre, with strummy indiefolk tunes being interrupted by glitching edits in the middle, beats that would suit the Tri-Angle label and minimal glitchscapes. All with excellent musicianship and songwriting charmingly hidden by ramshackle production. Love it.

From Brisbane, the rather unsettling ambience and spoken samples of Guatemala seemed to flow on nicely. Reminiscent of the most mysterious of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol II, it's one of the two first releases on new Brisbane label Duskdarter, off to an excellent start.

Skipping now down to Melbourne, we join Children of the Wave for their second album. It pretty much carries on from where 2008's Carapace left off, which is awesome: odd song structures with ambient interludes (or prefaces), quasi-beats here and there, genuine songs floating out of weird world samples, and some very fine guest musicians. One of the Aussie album highlights of the year so far.

And then, because I've been a fan since the start, we had one track from the new Grizzly Bear album. It's certainly their most pop, one could say MOR, album yet, but still pretty great, and this song in particular has an ending that's just straight out of the Talk Talk songbook, as everything drops down to the basics, with muffled loping percussion, clarinet, piano and muted screeching strings. And the last 20 seconds are just gorgeous.

And thus we come to Talk Talk. A lot of people have problems with cover albums and remix albums. They feel they're superfluous, don't add anything to the originals, are just a lazy maybe? I'm not sure to be honest. But to deride covers is to deny music's millenia-long history. Any classical musician spends the majority of their time playing & interpreting other people's music, and most folk, jazz and world music involves the same.
That said, the last 2 1/2 Talk Talk albums are some of the most exquisitely poised, perfectly conceived and executed music ever recorded. There, I said it. Well, they are. So what can an artist covering these tunes hope to add? I suppose what this double CD set achieves, undoubtedly, is the status of a tribute. All the artists are extremely respectful of the music, and many turn in deeply honest, emotion-laden takes on some wonderful songs. Some of the entirely straight renditions like Lone Wolf's "Wealth" and S. Carey's "I Believe In You" are lovely to hear even if they can't be expected to surpass the originals, just because of this. Frequent collaborators Nils Frahm & Peter Broderick join with Goldfrapp/Coldplay string arranger and guitarist Davide Rossi for a version of one of my favourites, "It's Getting Late In The Evening", setting the synths (I think) of the instrumental as close-scored strings, but losing some of the edge of the original.
On the other hand, some stretch and bend the originals into something new, so Matthias Vogt Trio set "April 5th" as instrumental jazz piano quintet, with upright bass and piano taking turns with the melody. It's occasionally too pleasant, but a beautifully executed idea. And Depeche Mode's Alan Wilder, who helped curate the compilation, appears twice as Recoil. I played his take on "Inheritance", featuring spoken words from Linton Kwesi Johnson and sung vocals from Paul Marshall of Lone Wolf, in a kind of Mezzanine-era Massive Attack interpretation. It shouldn't work, but it really does.
A lot of the majesty of Talk Talk, which influenced so many bands that came later, is the uncanny restraint in these works. The least successful covers are lacking in this regard, or lack the jagged edge of the improv aspects found particularly on Laughing Stock and Mark Hollis' self-titled solo album. I played a few of the originals, too, just because, including the lo-fi rough & ready indie romanticism of Heligoland, the solo project of producer Tim Friese-Greene, who was so integral in their latter-day sound.

Rude Audio - Wise Blood (Geese remix) [direct from Geese]
yyu - when you said that [Beer on the Rug]
yyu - moo.1 [yyu Bandcamp]
yyu - SHOVELKITENOW [yyu Bandcamp]
yyu - BREAKFASTSANDWICH [yyu Bandcamp]
yyu - yyyy [Beer on the Rug]
Guatemala - A Dying Girl's Message [Duskdarter]
Guatemala - Parapet [Duskdarter]
Children of the Wave - Far Away Choirs [Sensory Projects]
Children of the Wave - Kora [Sensory Projects]
Children of the Wave - Dip Your Toe Into The Water [unreleased?]
Children of the Wave - Start Stop [Sensory Projects]
Grizzly Bear - What's Wrong? [Warp]
Matthias Vogt Trio - April 5th [Fierce Panda]
Nils Frahm/Peter Broderick/Davide Rossi - It's Getting Late In The Evening [Fierce Panda]
Talk Talk - The Rainbow [Parlophone]
Mark Hollis - The colour of spring [Polydor]
Recoil (feat. Linton Kwesi Johnson & Paul Marshall) - Inheritance [Fierce Panda]
Do Make Say Think - New Grass [Fierce Panda]
Talk Talk - Ascension Day [Parlophone]
Heligoland - Creosote & Tar [Calcium Chloride]

Listen again — ~ 102MB

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