Saturday, April 30, 2016

Song of the day

"Kodama", by Kikagaku Moyo.

Kikagaku Moyo came to me in a dream. Not true. They came to me via a review of their forthcoming fourth record in this month's "Uncut" magazine, followed by some extensive Apple Music revision. I like what I hear. Yes, they have released a split record with Moon Duo, and one can certainly hear the connection. But this song makes me think of Can jamming with Stereolab in relaxed mode. As they say in the classics, what's not to like?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sometimes It Snows In April

This may be a somewhat heretical statement, but Prince, whom we lost this week, in what is turning out to be a train-wreck of a year, was not my Bowie. I have made several attempts, starting in the late eighties, to absorb the work that lies beyond the hits, but each time I have found myself starting to gaze absentmindedly out the window. I kept telling myself I would come back to it. I still can, but it's not quite the same when the artist (or in this case, "The Artist ...") is no longer with us.

Thus, and this is highly unusual for me, my favourite Prince album is the fairly ubiquitous "The Very Best Of Prince". As greatest-hits albums go, it is a humdinger. Because, let's face it, when Prince was good, he was very, very, very, very, very good. The best, perhaps, that ever there was. Think "Raspberry Beret". Think "Kiss". More recently, at a time when I think you had to be quite tenacious to continue to give Prince your everlasting support, think "Black Sweat" (you can imagine him just tossing that one off in an idle moment, like Picasso whipping up some sketch on a restaurant napkin and making a better sketch than anyone else would ever be able to do no matter how hard they tried).

What I have found very interesting, over the past few days, is the strength of the emotional outpouring from America. Was Prince America's Bowie? I didn't see that coming. Heck, even the New Yorker has a Prince-themed cover this week. (I didn't see that coming, either.) I don't know. It's just a thought. (There are clear similarities between Prince and Bowie. You don't need me to list them. Suffice to say, they both, numerous times, pushed the listening public in directions the listening public wouldn't otherwise have gone in, and in so doing pushed music into new places; places that music didn't know it needed to go and wouldn't necessarily otherwise have gone.)

Another thing Prince could do better than just about anybody was play the guitar. The following video has been doing the rounds quite a bit this week, and with good reason. If you are going to show off (because, in a sense, this is what Prince is doing here), you had better be good if you choose to do it in a room full of seriously good musicians while they are tackling one of The Beatles' finest moments. Keep your eye on the little guy with the red hat.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hypothetical mixtape: June 2015

Pretty happy with the music this month. It may not hang together thematically or musically or in fact in any way at all, but there's no need to pretend that's a problem. I mean, you don't actually listen to any of this, do you?

"Puls", by Gunter Schickert. So why don't we start off, then, with 15 minutes of semi-abstract German noodling from 1979. No, I hadn't previously heard of this, notwithstanding that my ears usually prick up at the mention of the Sky Records label, home of some of my favourite late-seventies semi-abstract German noodling.

"Disco Computer", by Transvolta. Like the ad says, "I can't believe it's not Moroder." Actually, the person behind this song was also largely responsible for Telex, a band that could only do one thing, but did it so damn well, and it was manifestly such a great thing, that nobody would be so churlish as to raise it as a point of criticism.

"Lies (Theo Parrish re-edit)", by GQ. One of the many, many things that Theo Parrish can do is take a seemingly workaday disco number, distil the salient parts, and extend it out for so many minutes that at some point you stop wondering when it is going to end and start wishing that it never would.

"Poppy Seed (Boards of Canada Remix)", by Slag Boom Van Loon. There was a Van Loon who went to my high school. I don't think his first name was Slag Boom. That might have been fun! (Side note: this remix stands with the best of Boards of Canada, if you ask me. Always check what remixes your favourite artist has done. You never know.)

"Y.M.D. (Young Michael Douglas)", by Maya Vik. Classic pop song of the month. Produced by Lindstrom, whose hands, in the best possible way, are clearly all over it. Who else does ascending chords like this?

"Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)", by Ikonika. Vocals by Jessy Lanza. I could easily have missed this. Don't you make the same mistake.

"A Beautiful Woman", by Deradoorian. Yet another slice of classic pop, this time bearing the mark of sixties psychedelia as also purveyed by the likes of The Time And Space Machine and Jane Weaver. In other words, get hip to this, all you groovy cats and chicks.

"Strassen Kaempfert", by Visit Venus. If people were listening to the music of the sixties in the 2015s, they were also listening in the mid-nineties. But the sixties those nineties dudes were listening to wasn't the drug-infested morass of the end of the decade, but the clean-living, high-production-values sixties of your Bert Kaempferts and the like. Visit Venus capture the vibe pretty well, and with high production values of their own. Couldn't find a version on the world wide web, so here, as long as nobody minds, is a copy on the dropbox.

"Hangdog", by Small Wigs. In honour of Record Store Day, an actual, honest to god, seven-inch vinyl single, in a garage-rock / Gun Club vein. My scepticism about the whole vinyl revival is hereby temporarily suspended.

"Running Away (Long Version)", by Roy Ayers Ubiquity. By the mid-seventies, blacksploitation-soundtrack funk had to some degree morphed into a kind of funk-disco hybrid. At least, that's a plausible narrative to wrap around this song, given Roy Ayers' previous guise (or one of them) as blacksploitation-soundtrack auteur (e.g. "Coffy"). This sets up an undeniably smooth groove and runs (away) with it.

"Man Of Means", by Alan Hawkshaw. In which the famed British library-music composer catches (albeit somewhat late) the wave that Roy Ayers was surfing on the "Coffy" soundtrack, to surprisingly non-"cod" effect. Featuring bonus harpsichord (or synthetic equivalent). Bet you didn't see that coming.

"Music For Chameleons", by Gigi Masin. Masin's name has been coming up around here a bit lately, so I thought I would dig a bit deeper, but to little avail. It seems he is an Italian composer, who has been doing his thing since the late eighties. This track (nothing to do with Gary Numan's song of the same name) is taken from a seemingly wide-ranging double-disc compilation (available for a good price on Bandcamp). It carries with it definite resonances of David Sylvian's mid-eighties work; I am probably thinking of the second disc of "Gone To Earth", but then I always am.

"Usha (Daphni Edit)", by Usha Uthup vs Alex Israel. We finish off with a couple of one-off tracks by Dan Snaith's other alias, Daphni. Daphni tracks tend to be a slightly more rough-and-ready version of the work he does with Caribou. This first one Snaith claims to be a mash-up. Maybe, but heck, it sure bears the sonic palette of the Daphni album.

"Vikram", by Daphni. This is coming from a similar place, but with added beats. Can you have too much of a good thing? I think not.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Song of the day

"Gimme Chocolate!!", by Babymetal.

Why would anybody have thought that combining J-pop and metal could possibly be a good idea?

Whoever they were, they deserve to be awarded the Nobel Prize. (Which one? Take your pick: Physics! Economics! Peace! Quantum Mindwarpery!)

I was sceptical for, maybe, two and a half seconds.

It seems too good to be true. It is too good to be true. Pinch me!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

YouTube of the day

"Earth", by Follakzoid.

In which Chile's pre-eminent [apologies if this is not true] kraut-psych-drone-noise-space-kerblam combo go long. What's not to like?

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Song of the day

"No Fantasy Required", by Tiga.

It would have been more accurate to call this post "Sound of the day", because what specifically nails me to the wall in this song is the "New Gold Dream" synth wash that comes from out of nowhere at the 1:55 mark, and the way it stamps a rather emphatic minor-key vibe onto what you didn't expect to be a minor-key song. We haven't had an album from Tiga, Canada's number one disco imp, for some time. It is a good one.