Categories
Electronic Music Experimental

Shameless Self Promotion: Home Taper – The Breakmagos Collection Vol.1 – Sleeve notes

Sleeve notes:

The Breakmagos Collection Vol.1 comprises of two EP’s I originally released under the Breakmagos moniker in 2014 & 2016: The Lovecode EP (tracks 1-6) & The Brinkmanship EP (tracks 7-11). The tracks on the Lovecode EP were created between 2011-2013, the name came from the artwork (see below). The Brinkmanship EP was created from some some files I found of finished tracks from before my laptop died in 2015. The original files were all lost but I’d uploaded these tracks to Google Drive so that I could play them through a BlueTooth speaker. I named the EP Brinkmanship because I felt that the tracks had been rescued from the brink of being lost. Several songs were in fact lost during this laptop death, though I recently recovered more on an old iPod which eventually made it onto another release, Shit From An Old iPod.

The artwork for the collection is a photograph of a safety sticker on a Low Level Order Picker (LLOP) truck where I work which I have digitally manipulated in a piece of software called Hyperspektiv and layered in another piece of software called SnapSeed. I thought that there was a quasi-religious vibe to the image & therefore named it, before selecting it for the cover of this album, Worship False Idols.

This artwork was created by right clicking on a photo of the Beatles playing All You Need Is Love & opening it in TextEdit. I then took a screenshot of a random selection of code.
This is a photograph of a halloween themed dog toy which my dog, Titch, was playing with. It was inspired by the cover art of two Sonic Youth albums: Bad Moon Rising & Dirty.
  1. Take Up Thy Plasma Caster & Vape

The groundwork for this track was begun in 2011 when I was trying to wrap my head around sidechaining in Logic Pro. Its original title was SidechainExperiment. As such, it is built around rhythmic patterns created by sidechaining kick drums to fuzzy pad sounds. The title is a homage to two disparate influences: Fallout: New Vegas (which I was probably playing at the time) & Pink Floyd (specifically their song Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk). I don’t think I was aware of vaping as an alternative to smoking at this point & definitely didn’t use it as a verb. I use the word here as Sci-Fi slang for vaporising someone (usually with an energy weapon).

2. Synaptic Disintegrator

I don’t remember much about the production of this tune except for the fact that the main bass tone is created by running a sampled 808 boom through a VST distortion effect called CamelCrusher. The track is named after a weapon from the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000. Synaptic Disintegrators are the sniper rifle-type weapons wielded by Necron Deathmarks, a kind of sentient robot sniper to the uninitiated. Think Joe Pineapples from A.B.C. Warriors. I remember uploading this track to Soundcloud as a free download/Christmas gift on Christmas Eve 2012.

3. Cyber Analogue Steam Punk

This track begun life as part of a suite of tracks I composed as part of a community music project centred around the concept of journeys. The suite was based on the journey from Earth to Mars in the Alastair Reynolds novel Blue Remembered Earth. This track was originally entitled Martian Railroad & did not include the vocal sample. The vocal sample is taken from a news broadcast about American politicians debating cybersecurity. The snare sound is sampled from the clack of a steam trains runners in motion & the main textures are sampled from the noise of a cassette tape. At one point the working title was Steamtape, but after adding the vocal sample, it became Cyber Analogue Steam Punk to encompass the disparate elements.

4. Reanimation Protocols

Another one I remember very little about, except for playing around with tiny slivers of noises loaded into a drum machine VST. The title comes from a rule for Warhammer 40,000 Necrons which allows them to return to the field after being destroyed, a kind of advanced autorepair. I remember the synths are all made with a VST called Magical 8Bit by YMCK.

5. Space Powder

I believe this was just an attempt to recreate some of the futuristic Hip Hop tunes I was hearing by artists like Flying Lotus & Samiyam. The synth parts are semi-improvised & the beats are intentionally a bit wonky. The title came from a poem I wrote when I was about 17.

6. Guncrawl

Another one with little memory. The title comes from a table top boardgame/RPG which is a kind-of Sci-Fi version of classic dungeon crawlers like HeroQuest & Descent. I thought it was a great title so I stole it.

7. Cyber Swamp

Cyber Swamp is built around a swirling, evolving mess of sound which is created by a simple sine wave (generated by the aforementioned YMCK Magical 8Bit VST) played through a long, complex signal chain of filters & delays. I think I named it Cyber Swamp because it sounded like swarming cybernetic insects. I added a halftime beat and a squelchy bass synth because it just felt right.

8. Disconnect

This tune is a hamfisted first attempt at emulating the ‘phasing’ techniques pioneered by avant-garde composers like Steve Reich. The general concept is that you have multiple versions of the same part, usually a melody, playing on different tape players. The minute differences in speed between the different tapes would cause the parts to drift in and out of phase with each other creating interesting melodic & rhythmic variations. In this instance I created three instances of the same synth part & time stretched one to be a bar shorter than the original & one to be a bar longer. Despite not quite achieving what I set out to, I was still pleased with the result. Originally made for Week 8 of Weekly Beats 2014.

9. Polystyrene

This is another track which began life as part of Weekly Beats 2014. Week 35 this time. This was a last minute experiment where I, with a massive case of writers block, cut up the intro to an older song into small slices & loaded them up into a drum machine. I programmed rhythmic patterns with them & treated each slice independently with delay, distortion etc. It was a satisfying, if random, experiment & I enjoyed it a lot. I was more pleased with the result than I’d anticipated.

10. Enigmatic Hive Mind

This is yet another song from Weekly Beats 2014, Week 21. This is a slightly more successful experiment with the avant-garde phasing technique. In this instance I have multiple versions of the same drum track playing simultaneously with the tiniest variations in speed. The drum tracks drift in & out of time with each other causing some fairly chaotic rhythmic variations. One Weekly Beats user described the sound as like ‘hesitant sandpaper’. I was, & remain, exceedingly proud of this comment.

11. While My Synthesiser Gently Bleeps

This was another experiment with the same wall of randomised, swirling noise as Cyber Swamp. Recorded entirely in one take, this track was just a fun, experimental jam I performed & recorded one night. I never anticipated that it would be good enough to keep. I think you can all guess what I’m satirising with the title.

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Categories
Ambient Electronic Music Experimental Hauntology

d a r k w a v e – P R A X I S

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Electronic Music Experimental Hauntology Philosophy

Ruptures In The Fabric Of Everyday Life

So many dreams of collectivity have died in neoliberal London.

Now they are incarcerated in hospitals, or languishing in the gutter.

‘territories of commerce and control’.

Once those spaces are enclosed, practically all of the city’s energy is put into paying the mortgage or the rent. There’s no time to experiment, to journey without already knowing where you will end up. Your aims and objectives have to be stated up front. ‘Free time’ becomes convalescence. You turn to what reassures you, what will most refresh you for the working day: the old familiar tunes (or what sound like them). London becomes a city of pinched-face drones plugged into iPods.

No Pedestrian Access To Shopping Centre.

a bombed-out city, full of chasms, caverns, spaces that could be temporarily occupied and squatted.

The struggle here is not only over the (historical) direction of time but over different uses of time.

The whole city is forced into a gigantic simulation of activity, a fantacism of productivism in which nothing much is actually produced, an economy made out of hot air and bland delirium.

The eroticism here is not primarily to do with sexuality,

Fugitive time, lost afternoons, conversations that dilate and drift like smoke, walks that have no particular direction and go on for hours, free parties in old industrial spaces, still reverberating days later.

the city as a site for drift and daydreams, a labyrinth of side streets and spaces resistant to the process of gentrification and ‘development’ set to culminate in the miserable hyper-spectacle.

Cool Britannia. Old joke. ‘Space’ becomes the over arching commodity. Notting Hill. New Age cranks peddling expensive junk. Homeopathy and boutiques, angel cards and crystal healing.

ruptures in the fabric of everyday life.’

A new kind of human being was supposed to live here, but that all had to be cleared away so that the restoration could begin.

Haunting is about a staining of place with particularly intense moments of time,

trapped inside the drearily glossy spaces imagined by advertising and regeneration propaganda, sometimes free to drift.

Perhaps it is here that the space can be opened up to forge a collective resistance to this neo liberal expansion, to the endless proliferation of banalities and the homogenising effects of globalisation. Here in the burnt out shopping arcades, the boarded up precincts, the lost citadels of consumerism one might find the truth, new territories might be opened, there might be a rupturing of this collective amnesia.

Words by Mark Fisher &/or Laura Oldfield Ford

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Art Pop Experimental Pop Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers

Day 1.

After a brief hiatus (& my first week back at work following furlough) I have settled on a new format for Song of the Day for going forward. Basically, this is just a roll of the dice. The songs are going to be ones I hear or think of throughout the course of my day. Songs heard on the radio, mentioned in a book or magazine or even spontaneously popped into my head. I may explain in the post why I’ve chosen it, if it seems interesting or will draw attention to other blogs or writers I want to promote. If I miss the odd day please bear with me. I’m calling this series Chaotic Neutral, hope you enjoy.

Today I am choosing Peter Gabriels sinister Cold War hit Games Without Frontiers. I am currently reading K-Punk, a collection of blogposts & magazine articles by the late culture writer Mark Fisher. Today I read this review of cold war thriller The Americans, in which he mentions this paranoid Pop masterpiece due to its appearance during the finale of the shows first season.

Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières

Hans plays with Lotte, Lotte plays with Jane
Jane plays with Willi, Willi is happy again
Suki plays with Leo, Sacha plays with Britt
Adolf builds a bonfire, Enrico plays with it

Whistling tunes, we hide in the dunes by the seaside
Whistling tunes, we’re kissing baboons in the jungle
It’s a knockout

If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
Games without frontiers, war without tears

Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières

Andre has a red flag, Chiang Ching’s is blue
They all have hills to fly them on except for Lin Tai Yu
Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in treetops, shouting out rude names

Whistling tunes, we hide in the dunes by the seaside
Whistling tunes, we’re kissing baboons in the jungle
It’s a knockout

If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
Games without frontiers, war without tears

Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans

Looking for some great music? Roll the dice.

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Categories
Experimental Folk Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks): The Beta Band – Dry The Rain

Day 10. I’m not really sure how I feel about the movie adaptation of Nick Hornby’s The High Fidelity. I remember enjoying it somewhat, but the smug, salesman-like smarminess of the scene in which Dry The Rain by The Beta Band plays really grates on me. I guess it does highlight how amazing the song is, even if it does so in such an aloof & arrogant way. What did you folks make of this scene?

Dry The Rain was the lead track on The Beta Band’s 1997 debut EP Champion Versions (& later The Three E.P.’s). This acid-soaked, Psyche Folk melancholia was a blast of invigoratingly fresh air when it first emerged. It was millions of miles away from the late Britpop which was just about hanging on to relevance in 1997.

Late afterthought: While adding The Beta Band to the ‘tags’ on this post I was surprised to see I haven’t written anything about them before. Expect this to be addressed soon.

The scene

This is the definition of my life
Lying in bed in the sunlight
Choking on the vitamin tablet
The doctor gave in the hope of saving me
In the hope of saving me

Walked in the corner of the room
A junk yard fool with eyes of gloom
I asked him time again
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain the rain
The rain the rain the rain now

Dusty brown boots in the corner
By the ironing board
Spray on dust is the greatest thing
Sure is the greatest thing
Since the last since the last

Walked in the corner of the room
A junk yard fool with eyes of gloom
I asked him time again
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain the rain
The rain the rain the rain now

I asked him time again
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
The rain the rain the rain now

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

I Need Love, yeah
I Need Love

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

I need love
I need love

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks) Spotify playlist.

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Experimental Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks): Beck – Deadweight

Day 2. I’ve decided to go with another song from the same movie as yesterdays choice, A Life Less Ordinary, this time Beck’s Deadweight. This was probably Beck’s first release following his magnum opus Odelay & as such seems to come from the same place sonically. It’s certainly a mile away from Psych-Folk madness of the full-length follow-up, Mutations.

On a highway unpaved, goin’ my way
You’re so alone today
Like a ghost town I’ve found
There’s no relief, no soul, no mercy

Is it true what they say
You can’t behave
You gamble your soul away

Measuring a jinx of this life seems
Like the gristle of loneliness

Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’
Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’

Like an ice age, nice days on your way
Sipping the golden days on a riptide
Freak’s ride, sleep inside
A parasite’s appetite

Oh, say can’t you see the chemistry
The parasites that clean up for me?
Death never hails, recycled cans
Get well cards to the hostage vans

Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’
Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’

You’re a deadweight, right straight
On your way, sunk in the midnight shade
Skies burn, eyes turn
Learning to counterfeit their disease

In this town where we roam
We bluff our souls
On canteen patio
Drink the latest draft

The music drags
The music drags
The music drags

Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’
Don’t let the sun catch you cryin

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Ambient Art Pop Electronic Music Experimental

‘Wrong Way Up’ – Brian Eno/John Cale and ‘Spinner’ – Brian Eno/Jah Wobble (Reissues)

Check out my review of the two new Brian Eno reissues over on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem.

‘Wrong Way Up’ In an expression of purest irony, the collaborative efforts of two of the most experimental musicians of the 20th century has led to …

‘Wrong Way Up’ – Brian Eno/John Cale and ‘Spinner’ – Brian Eno/Jah Wobble (Reissues)
Categories
Art Pop Experimental Indie Rock Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (Covers): The Flaming Lips – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

Day 3. The Flaming Lips cover of Kylie Minogue’s Dance Pop mega-hit is about as different to the original track as possible. They turn the polished Pop into cinematic Psychedelia. String synths & unusual slow building percussion bring to mind the sound of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western soundtracks while Wayne Coynes gentle strumming & falsetto vocals anchor the track firmly in The Flaming Lips particular brand of Psychedelic Pop/Rock.

I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy your loving is all I think about
I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy it’s more than I dare to think about

I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy your loving is all I think about
I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy it’s more than I dare to think about

Every night, every day
Just to be there in your arms

Won’t you stay
Won’t you lay
Stay forever and ever
And ever and ever

I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy your loving is all I think about
I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy it’s more than I dare to think about

There’s a dark secret in me
Don’t leave me locked in your heart

Set me free
Feel the need in me
Set me free
Stay forever and ever
And ever and ever

I just can’t get you out of my head
I just can’t get you out of my head
I just can’t get you out of my head

Fancy some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Covers) Spotify playlist.

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Art Pop Experimental Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (The Chain): The Art Of Noise – Close (To The Edit)

Day 39. Sticking with Buffalo Gals & Video Killed The Radio Star composer Trevor Horn for todays entry. The Art Of Noise were/are an Avant Garde/Synth Pop/Sampled Sound Collage group formed in the early ’80’s. Named after a book on Italian Futurism, their Spotify artist bio describes them as “futurists in the sense that they were interested in the future, in making the future a better place, in the technology of the future, in turning up in the future, in sounding like they belonged in the future.”

Close (To The Edit) is a chaotic sound collage of funky, synthetic breakbeats. It’s video depicts the band & a young girl destroying a Piano in an industrial looking location. This says more about the track & its intent than words ever could.

Hey! Yeah!

Dum! Dum!

Tra la la

Clo-clo-clo-close
To to to to the edge
To to to to the edge

To be in England
In the summertime
With my love
Close to the edge

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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