Returning to Vince Watson’s 2018 Via album this set of remixes carves out fresh interpretations featuring luminaries of the calibre of Joe Clausell, Osunlade, Steve Bug & Langenberg plus Manoo. For me it’s the latter’s sting in the tail as repeating synth lines, accompanied by an assortment of rousing strings and piano, capture that rare essence. Likewise is the Bug and Langenberg version which sequences a funky shimmer into the climax of building, stabbing keys assisted by the gentle soar of atmospheric pads.
Two words this time, intoxicating alongside beauty. Though let’s deposit ethereal into the mix of heavenly treated voices too. I grew up (sort of) in the 1980’s so an obvious touchstone for me is Liz Fraser but only in the way Lapis’ vocal dances around the quiet shuffle of drums and yearning keys crafted by Dr. Pudding. All in all this proves almost perfect leaving you with a breathless sensation which you only want to return to. Nuage then compliments the original telling with the fuel of breakbeats and darker bass while not disturbing either the feeling or intention.
The funky shuffle which ignites Elun is soon joined by the warm rush of keys producing a choir of heavenly experience which touches upon being sublime. Thoughtful yet provocative the arrangement chimes with a sense of ambience that pulls on the heartstrings. The heavier The Eternal Sunshine follows in similar vein again feeling serene and is likewise an enticing production of ideas, imagination and purpose.
Vertigo KO isn’t really about words, although of course they are helpful in describing the experience. They also feature heavily, though are not always coherent. Consequently Phew’s latest album is magnificent just as it is unsettling, defiant leaving little to the imagination as a series of sonic manifestations present themselves to you. It can be weird, it can be exhilarating. But never, never boring or uninteresting. Connecting the breath of sound together with grainy electrical interference each piece conjures up an illusion of another time and place. Sometimes mournful, sometimes reaching for joy. Try throwing convention out of the window and draw a line between the electronic experiments of the past to now. I guess you could perhaps say meditative or contemplative but that choice it down to you…
Seek out the warm embrace of The Very Ears Of Dusk, along with the haunting Hearts And Flowers to highlight the continuing expectation of contrasting moods and colours. Try it all.
Music like this doesn’t always work for me. But this certainly does. It’s the brutal, uncompromising drums and bass yet warm musical reflection of its keys which serve RND009 so well. Followed by the equally brisk RND007 (Dub Mix) complete with super-hot snares, then ending via a twist of funkier organ plus accompanying beats on RND004 which create dots connecting past and present.
This bears the name of Charles Webster so I want to hear it. And while the release comprises three notable originals it’s the two Webster remixes that really do it for me. It’s partly because you don’t quite know what to expect as the shuffling percussion and chiming melodies playfully gather pace, but mainly it is the sheer depth of soulful emotion as waves of unfolding bliss reveal themselves on the rather sublime title track.
1978 felt like the year dot for me. Imagine hearing The Stranglers intoxicating 5 Minutes, The Outcasts crystalline You’re A Disease, Magazine’s Touch And Go or even The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet for the first time. And that’s only from cd one. Previously I got excited by Sweet, Sparks then Alex Harvey and an assortment of bubble-gum probably best forgotten. But the cross-section which this year signified saw the excitement of music evolve in differing directions from Sham 69’s Borstal Breakout to the slow introduction of synthesizers, creating the feeling that something else was about to happen. It was a good thing the Sex Pistols exited that year, they said all they had to by that stage.
The next cd opens with Poly Styrene’s X-Ray Spex epic The Day The World Day-Glo which christens this compilation, and that’s one of things I remember most that year was the searing colour of everything from the clothes to the music and words. And yes that was even in Belfast too. Kung Fu International resolutely spat out by John Cooper Clarke is here, the crazy beauty of Ultravox’s Slow Motion as well. UK Subs – Live In A Car plays like a fiery rock n roll flipside to it all, there to remind you about the energetic nihilism still fizzing away.
Disc three begins with what the defining musical moment from that year Public Image Limited’s – Public Image which said so much in a precise three minutes it left you stunned, while proceeding to transform the landscape into what happened next. Then comes Stiff Little Fingers, Alternative Ulster and Scritti Politti 28/8/78 both stretching out politically charged guitars into the ether. One of the most beautiful songs ever written, You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory by Johnny Thunders follows. The Fall contrasts almost everything else, while The Jam’s In The Crowd feels unexpectedly twee in comparison now. 10.15 Saturday Night by The Cure is another forward pointer which meant everything to me that year, though it was the following year I got to see them live at the Ulster hall supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees. Not all of the music may be wonderful but that is also down to personal taste, however what still shines remains excellent. This being Cherry Red you also get fantastic sleeve notes highlighting all that vigorous fun plus the detail of insight this time from the hand of David Wells.
Appearing on Manual Music’s MNL this production blurs the distinction between light and shade care of a carefully crafted imagination. It’s down to the excitable array of fizzy synthesizers plus the crisp, accompanying drums which sets it all alight. The excellent RIGOONI remix then takes those elements and washes them in a cool expanse of thoughtful guitar like structures, amid a suggestive arrangement of pads and the breath of heavenly voice.
Expanding the art of what’s possible Tencion returns to his beloved Lowendcommunity for this new release. Found inside is endless potential exercised between alternating smoky and introspective numbers which do so much more than merely present themselves. There is a living, breathing element to all of this which Tencion has pinpointed and then expanded across the breadth of stereo. In one sense this is about the memory of things, it is equally about documenting the here and now. The reference points are numerous as are the styles touched upon from the pulse of deep Techno on Lamb I – you may well recognise the lost voice at the end – to the heady Drum and Bass of No One Ever Really Dies. From there to the tripped-out yet delicate ambience of Point In Time, and onto the irresistible, low-slung funk of Echo Chamber. Then there is the evocative, cinematic analogue of Litetimes to contend with too. All in all this plays out like an emotionally rich soundtrack to accompany aspects of thought and action. But in the meantime back to Subculture which begins it all by generating a captivating whir while inviting you to hold that very thought for the remainder of the journey…
Hit play. Experience the rush of warmth. This an outstanding EP for a number of reasons. The aforementioned, Stand Here simulates waves of jazz and funkiness with abundant connotations, brushing you via horns, soothing voices plus chopped-out guitar lines. The title tracks itself features a beautiful twist of bass guitar which soon gives way to breathy, heavenly melodies which I had almost forgotten still exist in modern times. In much the same ways as the proceeding Resonate does. Zero 7 Nine is all about the expanse of ambience, leaving the concluding Citrus Sun to end on tough drums, bass plus fizzy twang of Acid providing a neat contrast to all the previous bliss.