Categories
Experimental Triphop

Song of the Day (The Chain): Massive Attack – Angel

Day 20. From Rufige Kru’s futuristic, darkside Jungle to Massive Attacks’ widescreen epic, Angel. The link in the chain is that Rufige Kru -aka Goldie- & Massive Attacks’ producer Robert Del Naja both came from Bristol based graffiti crews & knew each other.

Based on a song by -and featuring- Reggae artist Horace Andy, Angel is a druggy, dubby crawl. What separates it from other Triphop though is the huge wall of distorted guitars, which one journalist likened to early-Cure. Perhaps, in many ways, this marriage of Dub, Triphop & Post-Punk is the latter genre’s truest expression.

Casual music fans, unaware of Massive Attack, will probably recognise it as the song which plays in the Guy Ritchie movie Snatch, as Mickey’s (Brad Pitt) mum’s caravan goes up in glorious, slow motion flames.

You are my angel
Come from way above to bring me love
Her eyes, she’s on the dark side
Neutralize every man in sight

To love you, love you, love you

You are my angel
Come from way above

To love you, love you, love you

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

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
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.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Experimental Folk Hip Hop Indie Rock Overlooked Classics

Overlooked Classics: Beck – Mellow Gold

I’ve just found out that today is Beck’s 50th birthday. Happy Birthday to one of the greatest & most innovative musical artists of the last 30 years. By way of celebrating the great mans birthday, we’ll take a look at his debut studio album, the incredible Mellow Gold.

Mellow Gold is a glorious, ugly mess of Lo-Fi country, Hip-Hop, psychedelia & surrealistic lyrics. This visionary mash up of sounds, samples, textures & its schizoid sound palate are held together by great songwriting. This is a Pop album that you can play to Lo-Fi fans, a Hip-Hop album you can play to Country fans, an avant-garde noise experiment you can play to Hip-Hop heads. It’s incredibly ambitious, & even though it may not quite hit what it’s aiming for, it’s still one of my favourite albums of all time. A Discogs article describes it, dismissively, as sounding “like Beavis and Butt-Head cacophonously flipping through channels”. The tone of the whole piece is quite dismissive actually, also describing it as “a charred coda to “Loser,” leaving the innards of that song on the operating table for all to see”. As if thats a bad thing. Some of us actually love the eccentric, junkyard aesthetic.

The whole concept of Mellow Gold is that it’s like a satanic K-Tel record that’s been found in a trash dumpster. A few people have molested it and slept with it and half-swallowed it before spitting it out. Someone played poker with it, someone tried to smoke it. Then the record was taken to Morocco and covered with hummus and tabouli.

Beck on Mellow Gold, Rolling Stone, 1994

Nowhere else could you hear a song like Beck’s MTV takeover mega hit, Loser, but on Mellow Gold. A YouTube commenter described it as like Kurt Cobain if he’d been on LSD instead of Heroin. It’s based around a sampled drum break, a looped sample of Beck playing slide guitar & a live sitar track (played by producer Karl Stephenson). Into this, at the time, previously unheard of sonic architecture Beck performed some nonsensical rapping & a chorus which, he later explained, was referring to how terrible he was at rapping. “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me”. Despite this being a throwaway line, it somehow evolved into a kind of ethos for the music of the ’90’s. The anthemic “battlecry” of what became known as Slacker culture (I guess).

Elsewhere we have songs like Pay No Mind (Snoozer), a tape-hiss filled Lo-Fi folk song with bizarre lyrics about “shopping malls coming out of the walls” & “a giant dildo crushing the sun.” All over a Hip-Hop inspired drumloop. Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997 is a morose sound collage, mixing spoken word sections with harmonic “ahh ahh” vocals. Steal My Body Home & Blackhole add a touch of psychedelic ’60’s atmosphere to the morose Folk formula, utilising sitars (sampled or otherwise) to great effect. The former feels like a tie-died throw gently laid over a slow drum machine pattern.

There’s plenty of Loser-esque Slacker Hip-Hop here to keep the casual listeners happy too. Soul Suckin’ Jerk & Beercan being the most obvious fit into this formula. Truck Driving Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Street) sees darker, sinister overtones added to this formula. It’s opening sample a glorious call of “come on motherfucker, put your clothes on, c’mon.” Nitemare Hippy Girl is Syd Barrett-style Psyche Pop, but married to desolate, heartbroken melodies & mock horror movie lyrics. Mutherfucker is an incendiary blast of Grungey Noise Rock with pitch shifted vocals all over the register. It’s quite cathartic & a bit of a shame that Beck never really experimented with this style again (except, maybe, for the much less aggro Minus, on Odelay).

After the morbid opiated psychedelia of the aforementioned Blackhole, Beck dives head first into avant-garde noise territory with the short but oh-so-sweet Analogue Odyssey. A blast of delayed, decaying, pitch shifting synth noise. If you close your eyes, you can still see the image of Beck hunched over an analogue synth, generating terrifying walls of mangled noise, burned onto the back of your eyelids. After all my effort trying to describe Analogue Odyssey, the Beck fansite Whiskeyclone described it like this: “Whatever, it’s just some electronic whines and noises.”

Check out this hilariously clip of Beck being interviewed by Thurston Moore at around the time of Mellow Gold on MTV’s 120 minutes.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

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.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
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.