Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hypothetical mixtape: November 2013

Back again for another month's worth of web trawling. As is the norm, almost 12 months out of date, but whatever. We're trying.

"Ochansensu-Su", by tricot. If Tortoise suddenly, and inexplicably, morphed into four Japanese (post) rock chicks, this is what they would sound like. Because Tortoise plus Japanese rock-chick vocals would be, like, hell yes.

"Far Away From You", by Sachiko Kanenobu. Also from Japan, this time from 1972, and, more precisely, the "sunshine pop" corner of the 1972 yard. Which possibly explains how it appeared as a reissue on Melbourne's own Chapter Records label, although even so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Produced by Harry Hosono, because what would one of these playlists be without at least one nod to YMO?

"I Like You", by Katy B. This song gets off to a slow start, such that you might not give it the time of day if you were a person of little patience. But stick with it: the chorus is an understated pop wonder. Well, I think so anyway.

"I Could Be Happy", by Altered Images. On the other hand, if you are going to hold someone like Katy B up against the might and majesty of Altered Images, she is going to be found wanting. That's just the way it is. This is the superior-in-every-way seven-inch version. It cuts to the chase.

"Running To The Sea", by Royksopp. Latest word on Royksopp is that they are packing it in. That's too bad: a couple of the songs on their recent collaboration EP with Robyn are right up there. In the meantime, this is one of a number of stray songs that they tossed into the atmosphere a while back. It sits on something of a goth tip, which, I have to say, suits them.

"Melody", by Blonde Redhead. There is a hint of the gothic, as well, in this mesmerising piece of mysterious pop from the always reliable Blonde Redhead, from a few years (and albums) ago. They happen to have a new album out, which was given the Pitchfork seal of harsh disapproval. But we all know, don't we, that a negative P4k review isn't always an accurate reflection of how things really are.

"How Long", by Lipps Inc. You probably know Lipps Inc for "Funky Town", but that is most likely the sum total of your knowledge. But -- surprise, surprise -- you also know this song. It was written by Paul Carrack, and was a hit for a band called Ace back in the mid-seventies. (I had thought, when I was hearing it on the radio back then, that, given the electric piano and the rich harmony vocals, I was listening to 10CC. Or maybe Little River Band.) It was covered, if memory serves, by an Australian group called Scandal, during the Countdown era (this is impossible to Google). Still, it was a surprise to me to learn that Lipps Inc did a version too, although upon hearing it I immediately recognised it as the backing track for an early Kompakt klassik, "Timecode", by Justus Kohncke. (Which, in turn, I learned about through hearing Marit Bergman singingthe Pet Shop Boys' "Rent" over the top of it. Layers. Upon layers. Upon layers.)

"Projektions (Gabe Gurney Factory Floor Remix)", by Girls Names. You could sneak this onto a compilation tape of Cabaret Voltaire songs circa "Just Fascination" and only the most attentive would ever notice the difference. A welcome nod to an underappreciated era of a significant band which also serves to underscore the continuing importance of Factory Floor. 

"Break My Love", by Nicolas Jaar. This is probably included here for the sake of completeness (there can never be enough Nicolas Jaar music in the world; this track snuck onto a compilation album put out by his label, but doesn't seem to be otherwise available). But I do love the way the track opens up after its first minute of hesitant synths. Is it my imagination or is this faster than most of Jaar's music?

"Black Savates", by DJ Steef. Otherwise known as "Planet Caravan", by Black Sabbath, given the re-edit treatment and turned into a lesson in beachside dance music bliss. (Like I would know.) DJ Steef is, apparently, a "mysterious Frenchman". As if there were any other kind. Note the distant echoes of the "Dirty Edit" of Sylvester's "I Dig You".

"Icct Hedral (Philip Glass Orchestration)", by Aphex Twin. "You are pulling my leg", I said. But you weren't. And it is. (It's pretty impressive, too. Maybe not the precise mid-point between "Koyaanisqatsi" and "Selected Ambient Works Volume II", but it sits somewhere along that line.)

"Song Of Bliss", by The Khalsa String Band. Trends in music can operate unfairly: some music that is created at a point in time when that style of music is out of fashion gets lost in the (bum's) rush. It is plausible that the only reason we don't all have this song on the mix tapes we have been making for our significant others over the past 40 years is because it can be easily dismissed as Hippie Music, and the world of 1973 had no place for such things. (If Marc Bolan had continued with Tyrannosaurus Rex beyond 1970, we may never have heard of him, either.) Whereas, detached from the world of 1973, this is quite simply a beautiful song, and there should always be room for one of those.

"You Can Do Magic", by America. We think of them as one hit wonders. (But what a hit.) If this is an example of what lies beneath "Horse With No Name", pass me a shovel: it's time to start digging.

"Lay Low Day", by Don Muro. It might be churlish to note that "More Than A Feeling" was a hit record the year before this song appeared. But you cannot help but recognise the former at both ends of "Lay Low Day". On the other hand, maybe that's what makes this such an appealing song. (And, to be fair, large parts of the rest of the song are from somewhere else entirely.) Credit, too, to Don Muro for, or so it would appear, playing all instruments in what sounds like a professional rock-band performance. Could one person really do all that? And, if so, why have we never heard of him?

"My Kind Of Woman", by Mac DeMarco. It's not from the 1970s, but doesn't at all feel out of place after a bunch of songs from that decade. The melody line is worth a thousand words.

"Clear The Air", by Jacco Gardner. Similarly, this cat is making the music of 20 years before he was born, and I'm darned if I can detect the seams. This is possibly the most gorgeous song of 2013. Or 1967.

"Black Roses", by Escondido. If you put Mazzy Star into a lead-lined box with Calexico and shook the bejeezus out of it, then inserted a small hole at one end, attaching a filter so that only the purest goodness could seep out, this is what you would find in the specimen jar. It's as close to magic as science will allow. (As recommended by known hipster David Lynch in Mojo some time back. Mojo may be a magazine largely populated by hacks and yesterday's rock writers, and it may be statute-bound to include The Rolling Stones, Dylan, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin on the cover at least once every two years, but it is still worth flicking through. You just never know.)