Disc two of Worlds Of Possibility brings us a bit closer to the present. Well, 2003. Which in a lot of ways feels very new & recent for me.
We kick off with energetic Bluesy Garage Rock from The Blueskins with User Friendly. Sonically enhanced by liberal use of harmonica, User Friendly has a polished production feel & the “ooh-ohh” melodies make me think it may have been used in a TV advert at the time. I’m going to Google it now… Ah, right band, wrong song. It was a different song, Change My Mind, which was used in a 2006 Lynx advert. I remember seeing them at the now defunct Fibbers venue in York. They were on some kind of MTV2 tour, Futureheads were headlining & Zane Lowe was there as compere/DJ. I went to shake his hand & he grabbed me in a bearhug. Interesting times.
Ah, another excellent band I’ve seen play at the Fibbers venue. Franz Ferdinand were at the very start of their career here & Worlds Of Possibility includes their original demo recording of their Post-Punk athem, Darts Of Pleasure. It doesn’t sound a million miles away from the final album version, such is the high standard of the demo. Easy to see why Domino were so keen to sign them. Love the lyrics too. Especially the German language outro: “Ich heisse Superfantastisch!
Ich trinke Schampus mit Lachsfisch!” Seriously, the demo’s Franz Ferdinand recorded were so ridiculously good that nearly all of their early hype in the music press was based entirely on them.
Next up we have Us by Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks (yep, Malkmus is back, he appears on 3 songs across both discs of Worlds Of Possibility). Us was my Song of the Day for the letter U in the A-Z series. This isn’t a million miles away from his output with Pavement, sonically speaking, & to be honest, would you want it to be? It’s excellent off kilter Indie Pop.
The Kills drop the excellent Wait, a slowburning, Indie stomper built around lo-fi guitar patterns & masterfully programmed drum machine beats. There’s a distinctly bluesy atmosphere so it’s no surprise that vocalist Alison Mosshart would go on to form The Dead Weather with White Stripes vocalist Jack White.
Clearlake deliver some fairly decent Indie Pop with I Wonder If The Snow Will Settle. Pitched somewhere between The Smiths & the excellent ’90’s band Gene, this is decent stirring stuff.
Hood’s They Removed All Trace That Anything Had Ever Happened Here is Trip-Hop influenced, Folktronica. Skittering drum machines & reversed samples rub up against clean bass & organic strings to create a pretty soundscape with, and this is important for electronic music, a great title. The Rap-ish vocal that drops in just after the 3 minute mark is perhaps a little ill advised though.
Following this we stick with experimental electronica in the form of genre veterans, the legendary Four Tet. She Moves She is a gloriously hypnotic jam built around glitchy beats, digital noise & organic acoustic sounds.
St. Patrick by James Yorkston is downtempo folk melancholia with traditional vibes added by fiddles & accordions. The composition builds from a minimalist drone at the start to an almost Spectre-esque wall of sound toward the end.
Here She Comes by Archie Bronson outfit is fuzzy, Indie Garage with with harmonica & bluesy vibes. Seems to be a common theme of the early ’00’s. Jason Lowenstein continues this with Codes. More fuzzy Garage with soaring chorus & catchy leads. No harmonica this time though (I almost expected a harmonica solo to begin as soon as I’d finished typing that sentence).
We’re in extremely analogue synth territory with Hot Shit by Quasi. An Indie Rock two piece consisting of keyboards & drums. I can’t be sure but the keys on Hot Shit sound like an original Mellotron to me, complete with the warbling tape effect. There’s a psychedelic feel, reminiscent of madcap American Indie oddballs, The Flaming Lips. Vocalist, Sam Coomes, has more than a little Wayne Coyne about his vocal style.
U.N.P.O.C. drops some lo-fi Indie folk with Been A While Since I Went Away. There’s a cinematic, surfer quality which I find it hard to pin down. Maybe some of the chord progressions & vocal melodies seem to have a Beach Boys vibe to them. This is followed by more widescreen cinematic Pop music from, the aptly named, Movietone with the swooning lo-fi of Ocean Song. Sloppy percussion & choppy guitars almost seem to mimic the motion of the ocean waves. No doubt an intentional sonic choice.
Mangled vocals & electronic drum patterns are the order of the day in Max Tundra’s madcap electronica of lights. The pitch shifting on the vocals has a similar disconcerting effect to the ubiquitous autotune effect which permeates modern music. It’s slightly less grating (opinion alert) than modern autotune though.
Everything You Need by Adem is footstomping singer songwriter folk music with acoustic guitar unusually accompanied by dusty, bleepy synth noises & recorders all embedded in a lo-fi soundscape. It’s there’s a hint of melancholia but overall upbeat vibes carry the day. Reminds me a little of American Folk singer Willy Mason, who was also active around 2003, if memory serves. The Mason comparison is particularly noticeable on the soaring chorus. Perhaps a touch of Neutral Milk Hotel too?
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (the moniker Will Oldham was using in 2003) brings The Way, a hushed folk ballad. It’s pretty, melodic & slightly off-kilter. Slightly unrelated, but I’ve just remembered that Palace Music from disc one is another Will Oldham moniker. I can’t believe I forgot that yesterday.
Rock On, Lovers by To Rococo Rot is more oddball electronica. Solid, Hip-Hop influenced beats, wobbling analogue synth parts & synthetic strings. Another synth string part that I’m fairly sure is a Mellotron. This is minimal & melodic. More about listening than dancing. The strings lend it a cinematic, 1940’s Hollywood feel which is quite jarring with the ultramodern sound of the rest of the track.
To close out disc two, and Worlds Of Possibility , we have Matt Elliot’s The End. Appropriately titled I suppose. It’s dark instrumental Folk Music which begins minimal but builds in sonic intensity throughout. Most components of the soundscape are organic like guitar, accordion & piano, but there is a synthetic element right at the end when the plaintive warble of a theremin rises out of the reverby murk. You can almost picture end credits rolling as you’re listening to it.
There ends my celebration of Worlds Of Possibility. I’m really not sure about the availability of it now, in 2020, but if you can get your hands on it I would completely recommend it. It’s an extremely eclectic mix of genres & would be suitable in anyone’s record collection.
Additionally, since Worlds Of Possibility is a celebration of Domino Records, I cannot recommend their catalogue enough.
Support Indie Labels (even ones who’ve grown quite big these days)
Ich heisse Superfantastisch!
Ich trinke Schampus mit Lachsfisch!
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