Categories
Electronic Music Industrial Punk Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): The Prodigy – Firestarter

Day 40. The connection between Close (To The Edit) & Firestarter is that Firestarter prominently uses a sample from The Art Of Noise’s tune. The female vocal “Hey!”

Firestarter was a huge commercial hit in the UK when it was released, topping the charts & fusing Dance music & Rock music in a way that was entirely original & fresh. Sampled, mangled guitars (from The Breeders), ultra-heavy drum breaks (Ten City) & the late, great Keith Flint’s John Lydon influenced Punk vocals combined to create something truly thrilling indeed.

I’m the trouble starter, punkin’ instigator
I’m the fear addicted, a danger illustrated

I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You’re a firestarter, twisted firestarter

I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter

I’m the bitch you hated, filth infatuated, yeah
I’m the pain you tasted, fell intoxicated

I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You’re the firestarter, twisted firestarter

I’m the self inflicted, mind detonator, yeah
I’m the one infected, twisted animator

I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You’re the firestarter, twisted firestarter

I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter starter

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Electronic Music Experimental Indie Rock Overlooked Classics

Overlooked Classics: Ian Brown – Unfinished Monkey Business

Overlooked Classics: Ian Brown – Unfinished Monkey Business

Music journalists writing about Ian Brown’s solo debut in ’98 made a huge deal about two points. First, they waxed lyrical about the acrimonious bitterness between Brown & Stone Roses guitarist John Squire. Many of the snarkier, angrier lyrics were assumed to be about him. One of the track titles, Ice Cold Cube, was said to be a nickname Stone Roses drummer Reni had for Squire. Secondly, all of the reviews mentioned the Lo-Fi production of the album. Recorded & produced by Brown with just a handful of collaborators, Brown recorded the majority of it at home, playing most of the instruments himself, learning to play each instrument as & when he needed to for the production.

The Lo-Fi production is, in my opinion, one of the albums key strengths, after the excellent songwriting. Placing Unfinished Monkey Business in context, we see that, around the time it was released, unconventional & experimental music was taking British subculture by storm. Radio One’s Breezeblock, hosted by Mary Anne Hobbes was promoting & breaking everything from the sampled smorgasbord of breakbeats & funk of the Lo Fidelity Allstars, the proto-Post Rock of early Mogwai & the frazzled alt-country of artists like Scott 4. In a year in which The Beta Band could release a song like Inner Meet Me, Unfinished Monkey Business fit in just fine.

The broken drum machine sound collage of the opening track Under The Paving Stones: The Beach, with its distorted toy noise & allusions to the Situationist International slogans, it was a perfect fit in the contemporary morass of underground experimental music. Its segue into the sampled sitar & Sci-Fi shenanigans of lead single My Star is truly thrilling. Psychedelic soundscapes fused with solid, low frequency rhythm section which owes as much to Dub as it does to Indie. Can’t See Me is a leftover Stone Roses tune (they played it live in their later shows) in the same vein as the funk-enthused singles like Fools Gold or One Love. Stone Roses rhythmists Reni & Mani guest on this, lending the album feeling of continuity with his precious band. Ice Cold Cube is Psychedelic, Sergeant Peppers stomp with snarky lyrics taking aim at John Squire. Sunshine is a kind of Psychedelic folk strum along, likened in the ’98 NME review to ‘60’s hippy troubadour Donovan. Lions, employing the vocal talents of Denise Johnson (of Screamadelica fame), is rough & raw Synth Pop with distorted noise bursts & jagged edges which a “professional” producer would have probably smoothed out.

Corpses In Their Mouths is slow burning Psychedelic Pop with guitars that morph between rhythmic & ambient, rock steady Dub rhythms & atmospheric harmonica blasts. Its title is another reference to Situationists International sloganeering. What Happened To Ya Part 1 is upbeat Folk Pop while Part 2 is the kind of Funk-infused, Psyche guitar jam that John Squire should have been making. Nah Nah is fuzzy Folk with handclaps, melodic lead guitars & echoing handclaps. One of the most memorable choruses of the ‘90’s too. Not sure why it wasn’t released as a single. They’d still be playing it on daytime radio today. Deep Pile Dreams is the most blatant of the anti-Squire tunes here. Its caustic lyrics attacking his alleged drug issues (“I only ever wanted the one with the flag/all you ever wanted was a $60 bag”) over a downtempo, Lo-Fi drum machine & synth soundscape. The closing track, Unfinished Money Business, is the deepest into Dub territory that the album dares to go. Bold, heavy drum machine patterns, subterranean bass lines & echoey analogue synths create a moody & atmospheric sonic terrain.

I found that these videos of Top Of The Pops appearances were charming & help to place the Unfinished Monkey Business into temporal context, so give them a watch. I especially like the guy “playing” eggs in the My Star performance.

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Categories
Electronic Music Experimental Folk Hauntology

Intermission – Ghost Box Recordings

Ghost Box is as much a parallel universe, or an alternative present, as it is a record label. It’s music, the achingly niche Hauntology, is a cross-dimensional transmission from a world where the postwar consensus of democratic socialism was never subjugated by the negating homogenisation effects of Neoliberalism. Instead, the warm, parental powers of a benevolent bureaucracy would have carried us forward into near-utopian levels of prosperity & comfort.

Hauntology, & Ghost Box particularly, is the sound of musicians & artists mourning the loss of that particular present. It’s a futuristic sound which hearkens backwards to the last time that futuristic sounds actually sounded ahead of us, chronologically. It is a sound which is equally steeped in warmth & stasis. A nostalgic cry for a better world in this age of stillness.

from O.E.D.

Intermission, the new compilation album consisting of new material from many of Ghost Box’s top tier artists – The Advisory Circle, Belbury Poly, Plone, Roj to name a few – comes during an intermission forced upon us by the global Pandemic, & as a result of it. It’s songs draw from both forthcoming Ghost Box releases & ones which were specially recorded/produced for this compilation.

The record starts with reverb soaked drums, a ’70’s style TV ident melody & the following reading by writer Justin Hopper over a shifting, warm soundscape:

What are the dimensions of a memory? What is its square footage? And where do its boundaries lie? We speak, sometimes, of gaps in our memories, as though our past exists only in what we can still see in our minds eye. But what if there are no gaps? What if they are, instead, memories themselves? Memories of a pause. Let’s experiment together. Let’s take a moment to forget all the actions and events of our lives, and gather up instead all of the gaps, string them together into one long memory of intermissions. And if we do, will it be silent? I don’t think so. I think it will sound of a hum. A hum that slowly builds until it begins to buzz, and eventually, quietly, to roar.

It’s both comforting & unsettling. The warmth of the soundscape is undercut with a sense of foreboding that it’s hard to place. It’s also pleasant to think of intermissions, pauses, as being important enough to form together into a buzz, a roar. It’s a welcome reminder that banal balance of pandemic lockdown is important. You might not be able to do what you want to do but you are still living your life, & time at rest in the age of Neoliberalism is a rarity we must treasure while we can.

Melancholic beauty abounds on Intermission. The Advisory Circle’s Airflow is downtempo analogue synth lines & Lo-Fi drum machine loops bubbling away deep beneath the comfort blanket of the nostalgic melodies.Woodbury Vale by The Hardy Tree is bucolic beauty & sugar sweet analogue synth tones. Beautify Junkyards (excellent name) is adventurous synth Folk, drenched in atmospheric reverb & whimsical, slow motion tropicalia percussion. Sharon Krauss’ Tell Me Why is gorgeous droning, folk, infused with recorder & melodic bell tones.

Justin Hopper delivers another spoken word on soundscape track in the middle of the album. An intermission in Intermission, I guess. A brief, relaxing walk through the Recreation Park. A macabre story of walking home from school after some momentous event involving an explosion.

The Animal Door by Roj (Stevens of Broadcast) is somewhere between a mangled tape experiment & warped ’60’s Psychedelia. Jangly guitars & winding organ melodies set against a backdrop of electronically manipulated drums, it’s as upbeat & relentlessly happy as it is druggy. ToiToiToi, with two songs, utilise simple, percussive melodies looping over library recording style found sound collages & Lo-Fi beats. It’s very lowkey & subtle.

Modern Reels, by Pye Corner Audio, is spectral, dubby, minimal techno while Photon Dust is the analogue sound palate of Hauntology applied to the downtempo heaviness of Hip Hop. If DJ Shadow had room full of analogue synths rather than a pile of Vinyl & an MPC. Plone’s Running And Jumping is manic depressive video game music which reminds me of the wonderful soundtrack to the fictional videogame Petscop.

The Focus Group, with Focustone 1 & Focustone 2 offers a couple of short but sweet electronic sketches. Belbury Poly’s They Left On A Morning Like This, the penultimate track, sees widescreen, cinematic synth strings juxtaposed against analogue arpeggios & lowkey drum machine patterns. The whole song is enveloped in a kind of slow, graceful melancholia which seems to encapsulate the tone of the whoel album.

The album ends on another Justin Hopper reading, this time with sounds from The Focus Group. Intermission Conclusion has more than a hint of The Twilight Zone about it.

Memory isn’t boundless, and it isn’t perfect. We all know that. But is it even on our side? Maybe it’s closest to right when we remember the unmemorious. The gaps, the ice glare, the sheet wind, the circuits and ash. Maybe the gaps are where memory comes into its own, when its partisans join us in the struggle, in those in-between hours. Maybe it’s at its most accurate when it joins us, here, in the intermission.

Intermission is out now on Ghost Box.

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Drum And Bass Electronic Music Experimental Jungle Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): Rufige Kru – Ghosts Of My Life

Day 19. From the early ’80’s Art Pop of Japan’s Ghosts to the early ’90’s darkside Jungle of Rufige Kru (an early alias of legendary Jungle/D&B producer/personality Goldie) & Ghosts Of My Life. The link, obviously, is that the Rufige Kru track samples (heavily) the Japan track.

I’m loving how this “theme” for Song of the Day is taking me in all sorts of unexpected, & welcome, directions. it’s incredible to think that we started with Sonic Youth & we’ve arrived at darkside Jungle.

Obviously, there’s no lyrics to speak of in Ghosts Of My Life, so this section is looking a little bare. As a placeholder, where lyrics would be, here’s a paragraph of Mark Fisher taking about how he feels about this tune, from the book which is named after it.

I bought any Rufige Kru record that I came upon, but ‘Ghosts Of My Life’ brought a special tingle of intrigue because of its title, with its suggestion of Japan’s 1981 art pop masterpiece, ‘Ghosts’. When I played the ‘Ghosts Of My Life’ 12″, I quickly realised with a shiver of exhilaration that the pitched down voice repeating the title phrase did indeed belong to Japan’s David Sylvian. But this wasn’t the only trace of ‘Ghosts’. After some atonal washes and twitchy breakbeats, the track lurched to a sudden halt, and – in a moment that still takes my breath away when I listen to it now – a brief snatch of the spidery, abstract electronics instantly recognizable from the Japan record leapt into the chasm, before being immediately consumed by viscous bass ooze and the synthetic screeches that were the sonic signatures of darkside Jungle.

Mark Fisher, Ghosts Of My Life: Writings On Depression, Hauntology And Lost Futures

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Electronic Music Pop Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): Air – Sexy Boy

Day 17. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s album released previously to IRM was produced by another influential & genre shifting artist, the French band, Air. It also seems that Beck is actually following me during this series of Song of the Day as I have just discovered, after selecting this tune, that there is a Beck remix of it too. I’ll stick that at the bottom of this post for completions’ sake.

Sexy Boy was a landmark record in French dance music. A catchy, bouncy mashup of sampled drums, shimmering synths & live guitar. It broke through into the mainstream in a big way & paved the way for other French electronica artists (like Daft Punk, for example) to also achieve commercial success in the UK & US.

Sexy boy
Sexy boy

Sexy boy
Sexy boy

Où sont tes héros
Au corps d’athlète?
Où sont tes idoles
Mal rasés, bien habillés?

Sexy boy
Sexy boy

Dans leurs yeux des dollars
Dans leurs sourires des diamants
Moi aussi, un jour
Je serai beau comme un Dieu

Sexy boy
Sexy boy

Apollon 2000
Zéro défauts, vingt-et-un ans
C’est l’homme idéal
Charme au masculin

Sexy boy
Sexy boy
Sexy boy
Sexy boy
Sexy boy
Sexy boy
Sexy boy
Sexy boy

That Beck remix, you need to check the credits to find Becks name. I guess he maybe wanted to remain anonymous? I’m not sure.

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Electronic Music Experimental

Shameless Self Promotion: Home Taper – Satellites EP

In addition to the compilation of old material I released earlier in the week, I’ve just released this new EP of material produced between 2017-2019.

Check it out on your digital distribution or streaming platform of choice or Bandcamp. Cheers.

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Electronic Music Experimental

Naomi Perera/Adam Langley – Strata

Naomi Perera & Adam Langley are ordinarily a gigging, live performance based outfit. Naomi plays imaginative, improvised flute over Adam’s evolving soundscapes of bubbling, swelling electronics.

Strata is the sound of these two musicians, who would normally work together in person, isolated apart by the current pandemic. This is a science of file swapping & overdubbing, one improvising along to what the other has produced. The results are an excellent EP of experimental drone textures.

There are moments in the tracks on Strata when the breathy flute melodies seem to morph into bubbling arpeggios of synth noise & you’re left uncertain whether what you’re hearing is a synthesised sound or the flute. These moments are incredibly effective, in my opinion, the textures overlapping in transcendent swells of noise.

Embedded in the soundscapes are all manner of day-to-day sounds such as birdsong & the mumbled conversations of neighbours heard through the walls. These sounds add to sense of isolation experienced during the lockdown & strikingly emphasise that we are actually at home & not in a recording studio.

The combination of these warm tones (bassy synth swells & flute) with harsh, buzzing, digital sounds gives several of the tracks a sense of underlying, building menace. This reflects for me the way the Coronavirus pandemic slowly built in seriousness throughout the month of March before the full blown bleakness of lockdown. There’s an almost hauntological aspect to these sonic textures that I can’t quite put my finger on but, nevertheless, I’m utterly captivated by.

Categories
Electronic Music

Shameless Self Promotion: Home Taper – The Breakmagos Collection Vol. 2

Here’s some more shameless self promotion from me. I’ve just released this compilation of old unreleased or rare tunes I produced under the moniker Breakmagos.

Some of these tracks were intended for releases, some were produced as part of the Weekly Beats 2014 challenge & some of them were created as exclusive pieces of music to include in live sets. Watering Can Ban is the only anomaly here, as it was released on the Toys & Games EP in 2013, my oldest release.

I hope you enjoy it. It’s available on Bandcamp & all good digital music services.

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Electronic Music Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Radiohead – Idioteque

Day 9 (I) & we’ve finally hit a vein of pure Radiohead. After the success of OK Computer in the late ’90’s, the music industry had high hopes & expectations for Radiohead’s follow up. Radiohead however, made one of (if not the) most dramatic left turns in music history. During the touring & aftermath of OK Computer, Thom Yorke & the boys had been listening to a lot of the electronic music which was starting to really gain momentum at that point. We’re talking Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards of Canada & Squarepusher to name a few.

Thom Yorke & Johnny Greenwood twiddling knobs & patching parameters, 2014

Radiohead took these new influences on board wholeheartedly, and emerged from the studio with Kid A, an album of experimental electronic music incorporating all of these influences. Despite the “moral panic” & hate from so-called “hardcore fans” over this change of direction, Kid A isn’t quite the departure it seems at first listen. Scratch the surface and you still find all the elements which made Radiohead great in the first place.

Idioteque, despite initial indifference, has in later years taken it’s place in the Radiohead catalogue as a firm favourite for me. This BBC performance (which serves as the “official” video) gives an excellent insight into how Radiohead would play these experimental songs live to the same high standard as their more rock-based material.

Who’s in a bunker?
Who’s in a bunker?
Women and children first
And the children first
And the children

I’ll laugh until my head comes off
I’ll swallow till I burst
Until I burst
Until I

Who’s in a bunker?
Who’s in a bunker?
I have seen too much
I haven’t seen enough
You haven’t seen it

I’ll laugh until my head comes off
Women and children first
And children first
And children

Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time
Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time

Ice age coming
Ice age coming
Let me hear both sides
Let me hear both sides
Let me hear both

Ice age coming
Ice age coming
Throw it in the fire
Throw it in the fire
Throw it on the

We’re not scaremongering
This is really happening
Happening
We’re not scaremongering
This is really happening
Happening

Mobiles squerking
Mobiles chirping
Take the money run
Take the money run
Take the money

Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time
Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time

Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time
Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time

The first of the children [Repeat until fade]

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Categories
Electronic Music Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z) – Death In Vegas – Dirt

Day 4 (D). Crunchy breakbeats, heavy guitar riffs and unusual vocal samples are the order of the day on Death In Vegas’ 1996 single Dirt. I remember first hearing it on a CD which came free with Vox Magazine and absolutely loving it.

As well as the official video, I also present to you an excellent fan made video I found while looking for it. Enjoy.

This is one thing that I was gonna wait a while before we talked about. Maybe we’ll talk about it now so you can think about it. Because you all, we all have to make some kind of plans for ourselves. It’s a free concert from now on…

But the one major thing you have to remember tonight when you back up to the woods to go to sleep or if you stay here, is that the man next to you is your brother and you damn well better treat each other that way, cause if you don’t, then we blow the whole thing, but we’ve got it right there.

What’s that spell!
“fuck!”
What’s that spell!
“fuck!”
What’s that spell!
“fuck!”
What’s that spell!
“fuck!”
What’s that spell!
“fuck!”

“Gimme an “F”
“F”
“Gimme a “U”
“U”
“Gimme a “C”
“C”
Gimme a “K”
“K”
What’s that spell!…?

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