Monday, October 19, 2015

Hypothetical mixtape: December 2014

Backdated monthly playlists: the nightmare continues ...

"Empire Mines", by Plankton Wat. Some months/years back I likened a piece of African music to The Laughing Clowns, so why, on that flimsy basis, shouldn't I spuriously claim that a song out of Canada reminds me of solo Ed Kuepper? Come on, tell me you don't hear it. The guitar playing, the chord structures, the, uh, vibe. This wouldn't be at all out of place on one of his three instrumental (as anything) albums from the 1990s.

"Holding", by Grouper. Imagine Harold Budd and Brian Eno's "The Pearl" with vocals. Not what I expected from Grouper, but stunning. (Also a fine companion piece to Colleen's fine album "Captain of None".)

"Nobody Knows", by Pastor TL Barrett & The Youth For Christ Choir. Seriously. Like Bob's "You Gotta Serve Somebody", you don't need to have religion in order to totally feel it.

"Acid Tracks", by Phuture. From the sublime to the, well, not exactly ridiculous, but not exactly not ridiculous. Twelve minutes of squiggles that may or may not have invented acid house. Working backwards from Aphex's mighty "Syro", this is one of the places you might end up.

"Hideous Racket (Thee Four Horsemen Mix)", by Allez-Allez. All I know for sure is that this is not the Belgian new wave band of the same name (sans hyphen) who were responsible for "African Queen". Aside from that, you're on your own.

(There appears to still be a working download link here.)

"Lovin' You Ain't Easy", by Pagliaro. Proto-power-pop of the highest order. From 1971. Pagliaro here is swimming in the well from which Matthew Sweet continues to slake his thirst. There is a certain Sports song that makes its way to the surface around the 35-second mark, too. See if you can spot it. (Bonus: album cover of the month.)

"Seasons (Waiting On You)", by Future Islands. At first, you think you are about to hear a cover of Underworld's "Born Slippy". But it quickly morphs into a kind of High Eighties homage, of the type that I have recently and unexpectedly been smitten by. (See also: The War On Drugs.) It's like being able to listen to the best of Bruce Springsteen without whatever it is about Bruce that I find off-putting.

"Asleep", by Makthaverskan. In which a contemporary Swedish pop band busts some seriously eighties moves, to enticing effect (even if the singer does perhaps sound a little too much like a shouty 12-year-old).

"The Chauffeur", by Duran Duran. You don't see much mention of Duran Duran in these pages. But I know people of taste and distinction who hold a very high opinion of them, so, y'know, "respect". This song, one in which they don't particularly try to go pop, is perhaps telling of a greater ambition. But by then the cocaine had left its mark. Allegedly.

"Breakdown", by Carol. First-rate, seemingly steam-powered electronic post-punk from 1981. Don't know anything about Carol, but the name puts me in mind of a joke told at an assembly at our boys' primary school by one of the younger children involving Christmas and some ladies' underwear (and some very nervous parents). (Punch line: "They're Carol's.")

"Giudecca (Gabe Gurnsey / Factory Floor Remix)", by Ghost Culture. This month's Factory Floor-related product: pop music that sounds like it was stranded on another planet in 1980 and keeps sending transmissions back to earth in the forlorn hope that someone will hear. Well, we're listening.

"Beautiful (Rustie Edit)", by A G Cook. Listening to too much PC Music in one go is a bit like overdosing on sugar and coffee simultaneously. (Hey, we've all been there.) This Rustie edit of one of their signature tunes manages to take enough of the edge off it that mere humans can survive exposure to it, while retaining enough of the hyperintense sweetness of the original that you would certainly know it if it hit you. Nevertheless, approach with caution.

"Telephone and Rubber Band", by Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Hypnotic, breathtakingly simple, and you may have heard it in the fine Australian film "Malcolm".

"Music Box", by Don Muro. Home-made musical gorgeousness from the 1970s. Enjoy.