Monday 4 May 2020

Above and Before

It's been a long time since I've put one of these together, here's a cross section of things I've been listening to recently loosely tied together sound wise, a sort of sequel to the old Shuffle posts I used to make. Some are new, some are old but either way I hope you find something to pique your interest. Let's go.

Ivan Aivazovsky - Clouds above a sea calm (1899)

Starting with something new; finally got around to picking up the expanded edition of Everything But The Girl's Walking Wounded, which comes with a whole host of demos, remixes and live recordings. As 'deluxe editions' go it's a solid package, the album alone is great never mind with all the extras.

Of that second disc there are some real highlights, the live recordings are lush for starters but what we're here to talk about today is this demo that I've been unable to get out of my head. Presumably a demo version of what would become opening track 'Before Today' based on the lyrical content, it's practically a completely different song minus the shared lyrics. Tracey Thron's vocals are incredible as always but something I've really come to like on recent listens is the slightly lo-fi edge to this one: Walking Wounded as an album is crisp, clean and high tech, so hearing these rough around the edges breaks here makes for a very different listening experience and compliments Thorn's vocal delivery incredibly well. It maintains that melancholy feel that makes up parts of the album with an added layer of intensity.

Something about this one just hits me in the gut with a massive nostalgia wave. Which is odd because I didn't pick this one up with most of the stuff that hits me with that same wave (Though they are similarly related, bands like Röyksopp for example). Anyway, to actually introduce the track; it's not my favourite piece from Erlend Øye's debut, and depending on the day I can feel like it's really long in the tooth at 7 minutes, but recently it's been a mainstay. Øye's vocals remain his strong suit, and he gives the slightly nonsensical lyrics a real palpable feeling, and it's a shame they disappear for the latter half of the song. The sound of the album is fairly simple but works oh so well, I could sit and listen to that stripped, lo-fi DIY electronic in combination with Øye's voice all day.

The reason for that DIY sound is explained by the process behind the album which is a neat story too. its just Øye travelling around Europe and collaborating with various producers along the way. The end result is a lovely listen and still sounds surprisingly contemporary for something released in 2003. I'd love for another album in this vein, or with this type of sound.

Swinging to Röyksopp after that brief mention above, an older tune of theirs that is more readily available thanks to their 'Lost Tapes' series, a bunch of rarities and B-sides occasionally dropped onto Spotify. I've got a lot of them already from my collecting days, but it's nice to have them in an accessible location finally, as you all know I'm a bit mad when it comes to archiving stuff. Anyway, here's their cover of Depeche Mode's Ice Machine featuring Susanne Sundfør. It was originally made for their entry into the 'Late Night Tales series of compilations, tradition is every artist who does one includes a cover on it. It's pre-The Inevitable End, but there is definitely more than a few signposts of the direction they'd be taking on that album here, even down to Sundfør's guest appearance.

Rounding things off with something old, I mentioned a few posts ago that I remember writing the review for Shobaleader One: d'Demonstrator when it came out. That's coming up on 10 years ago now and to this day I adore the opening track Plug Me In, it i style distilled essence of the sound Squarepusher was going for on this album; a sort of electro meets spacey jazz. I personally still like the album, even if it is a little short. I can see it disappointing some folk expecting more Drill & Bass, but that's part of the reason Squarpusher made this album with the idea of Shobaleader One being a separate band, shame that wouldn't become clear until they made the follow up in 2017.

And that wraps us up for another post, next one will be an old re-post but I hope to maintain a one-old-one-new pattern going forward. I appreciate your readership during this time and I hope my music musings have given you something to pass the time with, as always stay safe and enjoy the music.

-Claude Van Foxbat

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