Saturday, 13 October 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue Five: The End

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So, this is it. One year and a bit, and with a boatload of posts behind me, It's finally time to close the door on Warped. Can't think of a better tribute to a label that's a legendary icon in the electronic world than that. There's still a bunch of stuff I haven't covered (Like Squarepusher's 1998 Jazz record Music Is Rotted One Note) so feel free to check the depths of Warp's back catalogue for yourselves! But before I go, I thought I'd give out one last smattering of tracks, just for old times sake.

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A couple more from the Warp20 (Unheard) Compilation now, starting with Boards Of Canada's stellar contribution: Seven Forty Seven. That absolutely sublime opening is just unreal, and not long after I got my hands on this comp I found out that that same opening had been used previously by the Boards on a rare compilation tape floating around the the internet. It's simply titled Audiotrack 6A, and is vital listening, both as a compliment to the finished Seven Forty Seven and just to see how far Boards Of Canada have evolved in time.



Imagine my surprise when I look up the tracklist for (Unheard) and find a Broadcast track that had slipped under my radar. I had heard demo tapes from their last LP put out by James Cargill not long after vocalist Trish Keenan's death, but this would be the first new material I had heard from them since. The chance to hear something new from one of my favourite voices in music was just amazing. It comes in the form of a cover of Nico's Sixty Forty, judging by the sound it's from the Tender Buttons era, with Keenan on top form as usual. There's a couple hisses on her vocal track like the pop filter was missing from the mic when they recorded, normally that would put me off slightly, but in this case I actually think it really compliments the track. A fitting finale for the band.



Long before Clark became my de facto supplier of melodic noise, he was already releasing LPs with warp under his full name, Chris Clark. His debut from 2001 has some real gems on it,including one of mine and fellow writer Here's favourites; Lord Of The Dance. I just love every little thing about this track: the beats, the melodies, and even that flute that just drops into the mix about a minute in. It shouldn't fit with the sounds there, but it just settles on down and makes it work.



There's a much earlier highlight for me on the LP, and it's the unassumingly titled Bricks. Like Lord Of The Dance before it, it wastes no time cutting to the meat of the track. there's no intro, no steadily paced bulidup with eventual payoff, it's just there. It helps that the track itself is pretty great throughout, showing off plenty of that unique style that Clark is known for. That is to say, pure abrasive sounding noise waves that have a melodic streak in them, lovely stuff throughout.




Another LP I missed was Squarepusher's Hard Normal Daddy which he dedicated to the Chelmsford rave scene, simply 'cos by the time I'd got it, we'd long since passed it in the dates for Warped. It gets a lot of mixed reactions, I'll admit there are a few track I don't necessarily care for, a lot that are really long (6-8 mins mostly). Regardless there is still quality on here, as demonstrated by the opening two tracks, Pusher's Jazzy vibes are much more pronounced on these two compared to his previous releases, starting off with Coopers World.



Rounding off the LP is the one track from it that is in constant rotation by me, Beep Street. The album may have it's less than amazing moments, parts of it may be too long, but what it did give us in Beep Street is quite possibly one of the finest Squarepusher tracks ever made. The track serves as a nice introduction to new listeners as it introduces all the things that make that iconic 'pusher sound.



Drawing things to a close for the final time now, I thought I'd end it with a track I've had sat around for a while, also from the Warp20 series, Leila's sublime and beautiful cover of Aphex Twin's Vorhosbn. True to the style of Drukqs, Leila has recreated the main melody lines from Vordhosbn, a typically AFX experiment in drum programming, on a piano. It's amazing how simply taking the bats away and slowing the tempo slightly can have such a massive effect on the track's feel. Leila more than did justice to the original here, and I can think of no better note or track to end on than this one. So, for the last time, Enjoy.



Warp ∞,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue: Part Four

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The end isn't too far away now, but I couldn't just let these last couple of AFX releases go unmentioned. Join me now as we take a slight step back to 1995 in this penultimate edition of Warped, and look at the work of the Aphex Twin towards the end of his first analogue period, before going fully digital for 1996's Richard D. James Album.


Heading the attack have an EP released under RDJ's often used AFX moniker; originally released as a two part vinyl release in 1995, it was given a lovely CD re-issue by the folks at Warp. It sounds entirely unlike the stuff he was making under Aphex Twin at the time, and in fact I think it's closer to Richard D. James Album than ...I Care Because You Do in terms of sounds.



This next one I loved for a long time, it has a lot of sweet melodies in it alongside the now expected beat butchery we know the Twin for. It caps off this EP in impressive fashion with another anagram-ed title no less; my absolute favourite moments being the peak in sound round about halfway through where it sounds like the synths are being pushed to their limits and might just explode at any minute.




Unfortunately I didn't pick up Donkey Rhubarb in time for the first round of Warped, my reasoning being that it was a short EP. In hindsight though, I do recommended you check it out, the Phillip Glass remix/orchestration of Icct Hedral is something a bit out of leftfield but is most definitely worth your time. Amway, onto the stark raving mental title track: the opening is like condensed happiness, and then the acid style beats and bass roll in and it's a whole 'nother track.



Of course, it wouldn't be an Aphex Twin EP without the token downtempo number. This is Donkey Rhubarb's (which is also another animal + food combo), and it's among my favourites. It has a real lo-fi sound to it that I don't think is present on any other AFX tracks from around this time, normally I'd hate that kind of thing being all about quality an all, but it really does work in this tracks favour.




Finally, we end with the Ventolin Remixes EP. And true to AFX's signature way of taking the piss, all but one of the tracks sound absolutely nothing like the original, abrasive monster that is Ventolin. These practically original tracks are actually quite good, an early favourite of mine being the 'remix' by Cylob: a nice number with a lot of contrast between the rolling beat and the light sounding synth that is introduced later.



Playing us out is the Probus mix, which isn't actually the name of the remixer (there's no credit for it, I'd assume it was RDJ himself), a slice similar to the more downtempo bits on ...I Care Because You Do. It plays out similar to Cylob's mix, albeit with a more distinct AFX touch to it throughout.



Right, bloody hell that was a fairly long one wasn't it? Only fitting considering there's only one or two more posts to go before I'm done with Warped forever. It's been a long time coming, but join me next time where we may close the book!

Armadillo Risotto,
-Claude Van Foxbat