Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hypothetical Mixtape 2.02

Like the proverbial London bus (or Melbourne tram), you wait forever for one of these playlists and then a second one appears almost immediately. (Relatively speaking.)

"The Secret Field (Todd Terje Remix)", by Kaoru Inoue. A field day for the head-nodders.

"Friends", by Westerman. Imagine that the "World of Echo" iteration of Arthur Russell tackled The Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like An Eagle" while under a John Martyn narcotic haze. Hey, you don't have to. You're already there.

 "Can You Ever Really Know Somebody", by The Juan Maclean. New Juan Maclean for the win.

"Faith (DJ Koze's Grungerwomen Remix)", by Ada. Ada is the kind of gal who is perfectly capable of getting it done without anybody's help, thank you very much. (Witness her remarkable version of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps".) But if DJ Koze puts his hand up, it is never less than fascinating to see what might result. Here, it's like the track (which, I just discovered -- hey, I only work here -- is another cover; this time, of a Luscious Jackson song) has been channelled through a dense wall of fog, scattered about with shards of piercing light. Or something.

"Beat Bop", by Rammellzee vs K-Rob. What they call "a classic". Notable for bearing one of only two (as far as I know) purpose-designed record covers by Jean-Michel Basquiat (the other belonging to a downtown ska-punk band called The Offs, who at one stage also had Richard Edson (from Jim Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise") on trumpet). But we're here for "Beat Bop". It has its own story. (Which you can read here.)

"Paper Thin", by MC Lyte. Hip hop was not just for the fellas. There are days when I think music never improved on this. Also the video is priceless. And the sudden appearance of "Hit The Road, Jack" is about as likely as Neil Young singing "Oh Susanna" to the tune of "Venus".

"Sputnik", by Sidney Owens And North, South Connection. Being, as it was, the b-side of the only known record by this combo, circa 1976, "Sputnik" was understandably lost until resurrected by The Gaslamp Killer on a 2007 mix CD. And I'm so glad it was. The guitar on this is, as the title of the song might suggest, out of this world. The voice is not a million miles away from that of Lux Interior, who I'm sure would have warmly embraced this song. "People are running ... Where are they going?"

"Arabam Kaldi Yolda", by Edip Akbayram. Which translates, it says here, as "My Car Broke Down". I am guessing they don't make records like this any more. (Bonus: album cover of the month.)

"Staying Alive", by Machuca Cumbia. The Bee Gees as you've never heard them before.

"Hot Love (Gas Mix)", by Love Inc. This is a case of alias upon alias upon alias. To be precise": Love Inc is an alias of Mike Ink. Mike Ink is an alias of Wolfgang Voigt, prolific musician and co-owner of Cologne's venerable Kompakt record label. Gas is another of Wolfgang Voigt's aliases. And here, in the guise of a re-working of a T Rex song, is alias Gas doing a mix of a track by alias Mike Inc's alias Love Inc. Got that? Gas is a terribly important component, not just of Voigt's work but also of modern electronic music in general. He went on, in the latter part of the 1990s, to release four albums of strikingly defocused, well, something: not really ambient, not really techno, but also not really neither of those things. It is what it is, I guess. (I could be less helpful. Or not.) This particular track, one of the earliest appearances of the Gas name, is actually a lot more structured and clear cut than the later records. You can hear very clearly here its influence on Axel Wilner's work as The Field (whose "Cupid's Head" Gas remixed a couple of years back). Gas reappeared this year with a brand new album, "Narkopop", which sounded like all of the earlier albums but also, and I suspect not just because of the passage of time, entirely fresh.

"Blue And Moody Music", by Hiroshi Sato. So smooth and clean you could eat your dinner off it. You would have to be wearing a razor-sharp dinner jacket, tho. (Australian music alert: there is also a quite different version of this song featuring vocals by Wendy Matthews. I'm sure there's a story there but I don't know what it is.)

"Ocean", by The Phantom. And away we go, into the sunset, with the help of 12 minutes of transcontinental drift from Poland's own Bartosz Krukzynski. 

... And relax.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

This Goes With This: Waltz-Time Edition

So I bought the new Psychic Temple LP, "IV", on the day it came out. Buying music on the day it comes out is a good feeling. You should try it some time.

The opening song on the album, "Spanish Beach", starts with (isn't it always?) lonesome pedal steel guitar, immediately putting me in mind of Brian Eno's "Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks", from 1983, and in particular side two of same (ask your parents). This should have come as no surprise, given that the previous Psychic Temple release was a spirited large-ensemble take on Eno's "1/1", from "Music For Airports". So that's fine.

What I really didn't expect, though, was the turn that the song then immediately takes: a turn that takes me back to 1986, and specifically to "Beatrix", the third song on side one of "Treasure", by Cocteau Twins, one of the albums that got me through that year.

"Beatrix" goes like this:

(Actually, to stretch the comparisons in the direction of breaking point, "Spanish Beach" sounds kind of like "Beatrix" by Cocteau Twins as performed by The Blackeyed Susans. So that's two kinds of winning.)

Have a listen. Perhaps I'm imagining all of this. Perhaps you will like the song anyway, on it's own terms. I wouldn't rule that out. It even has a trumpet solo. How eighties can you get?