Tuesday 16 February 2021

This Means Warp

Horace Pippin - The Warped Table (1940)

Seem to have hit a bit of a dry spell, though that may be me being spoiled by the massive influx of new stuff I was discovering in the final few months of last year - I've been spending a lot more time with Warp Records as of late, not only because of that recent nostalgia kick of mine but also thanks to their appearance on Bandcamp.

Truth be told, a lot of the stuff I've got lined up isn't really 'new' so much as it is things I've been meaning to get to for a while, with the possible exception of this one! I posted around the time it came out, the 25th anniversiary edition of Smokers Delight, one of my favourite albums of all time (and one I was supposed to see performed live and in full before the virus) comes with a bunch of bonus tracks. And for my money, the best one is the first, Aquaself. I'm pretty sure these are new tracks NOW made in the spirit of the album and not forgotten B-sides - at any rate it demonstrates NOW's ability to make a killer groove, full of gorgeous floruishes in sound and steel pan harkeneing back to the original LP, it effortlessly sails through it's 6 minute runtime.

B12 next, there isn't much of their work on the Warp Bandcamp (but then again I don't think they released much on Warp at all) but what is there is sweet as. Time Tourist, while not my favourite album of theirs has the aesthetic of the futuristic Warp techno of the time down to a fine art. With it's cover envisioning a retro-futuristic take on London and track titles like The Silicon Garden, it really brings back the wide-eyed tech-optimist in me. This one in particular sounds a little like some of the stuff Oneohtrix Point Never was making in the R Plus Seven era, albeit much less experimental - it's gorgeous hi-tech ambient electronic to get absolutely lost in. A real hidden gem in the Warp catalogue, definitely look up B12 if you love this sound as much as I.

And finally, speaking of hidden gems - Broadcast. My favourite example of one from Warp. I just adore everything that Broadcast put out, I'd admired them from a distance for a long time but shortly after I decided to explore in earnest the band was cut short with the untimely death of Trish Keenan. Keenan was and is up there on my list of all time favourite vocalists and Broadcast showed tremendous versatility over their fairly short release history - going from 60's revival psychedelia on The Noise Made By People to the stripped and skeletal DIY electronics of Tender Buttons. Still Feels Like Tears is originally from the Pendulum EP: a track from the Haha Sound era, but you can hear precursors of Tender Buttons in those backing synths. Keenan is also on point from the get go - establishing that hazy, dreamy retro vibe from the very beginning. The real highlight is her main vocal here though, I love everything about her tone on the choruses, excellently enhanced by the slightly off-kilter instrumentation.

Slightly shorter post this time, trying to break things up a bit. I started another Retro Review today but that too looks like it will be very lengthy to say the least. So to buy me some time and break up the text a bit I thought I'd put this one up first! I hope you enjoy and as always: Stay safe and enjoy the music.


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