Saturday 3 April 2021

The Scoops

Ralph Goings - Chocolate Lean (2010)

That time of the month where I share what I got on Bandcamp Friday. Not too much this time, but some overdue additions and some new stuff too. Originally I was wanting this to be a retro rundown with Luke Vibert's UK Garave Vol. 1 leading it but that didn't quite pan out. Still managed to get a bit of retro vibe in it though thanks to another release from ThorHighHeels.

Positive Yellow is a little like UK Garave Vol. 1 in that it's very much a tribute to a very specific kind of sound, though as you might expect if you follow Thor's video work - this time it's a love letter to the soundtracks of games when they started to take advantage of CD Audio. Each of the tracks is fairly bite size, but they all do a great job of nailing that sound - plus as a bonus there's plenty of samples to spot: from classic drum & bass breaks to the beat from this one which I think is taken from the Todd Terry Remix of Everything But The Girl's Wrong. About once a year I get a little nostalgic for the kind of house and general 'dance' that was on the radio when I was younger, in fact I just spent the last couple of weeks putting together and curating playlist with a friend on exactly that theme, that might sound like a statement out of left-field at first, but I bring it up because Summer's Edge is exactly the kind of sound that I mean - it's that special kind of House that typifies that vibe for me.

Freezepop next - a band I've had multiple brief flings with. This release has long been overdue to add to my collection - it's got one of my favourites from them on in Here Comes A Special Boy, a tune that I have had in my collection for coming up on 15 years now(!) - though as a crap 96kbps version that I got from some p2p network. A better quality version never surfaced after all those years, and if I remember right this EP's physical release was a super limited one as well so I kind of gave up on it. When I found this on my Bandcamp travels a year or so ago, I knew I owed it to them to actually buy it one day (and so I could get my mitts on a better quality version!).

And so here we are, sentimentality aside, this EP hails from the early days of Freezepop's output - they're another band that kind of got lumped in with the 'Electroclash' scene but their work is definitely more straight up Synthpop. There's a certain playfulness and irreverence they have throughout that you can hear most obviously on tracks like Here Comes A Special Boy that can turn some people away, and that's something I totally understand, coming back to some of these tracks has more than a few times brought up some long repressed memories of my teenage years.

But if you're willing to dig a little deeper, you're rewarded. The live version(s) of Outer Space and Plastic Stars included on this EP are really beautiful. It's a little strange to have them both be one big monster track at 10+ mins long but they blend together pretty seamlessly - the way the dreamy repetition of Outer Space fades into the much more poppy Plastic Stars is great. You can kind of hear where those electroclash labels come from there too: there's plenty of fairly stoic delivery that's evocative of the genre here (but as we all know, Electroclash lifted that from Kraftwerk anyway!). It's perhaps a little bit dated but I can't help but smile a bit at these tracks, part of me will always love this kind of skeletal, homemade sounding electronic.

And finally, another track from Ceephax's Byron's Ballads EP. I'll admit I'm not super well versed in the ways of Ceephax - but this EP is fast becoming what I'd recommend to a first time listener, even if it is quite a bit different from his usual output. As mentioned before, when I think of Ceephax, my mind comes up with images of deliberately naff visuals and slightly satirical acid tracks - a little like DMX Krew in that regard. But on Byron's Ballads there's not really any of that (save for maybe the visuals and title), each and every one of these tracks would absolutely be at home on the dancefloor just fine. From the remarkably accessible acid tinged house of Sneaker to the driving yet subdued 303 of The Hague, each tune on here has something unique to offer while keeping things distinctly Ceephax.

I've picked the opening track Citylink this time, purely because it's a fantastic opening track that lets you know exactly what you're in for as the housey opening soon gives way to some lovely squelchy 303. Perhaps the least acidic track on here by quite a ways, it also has a little bit of that retro vibe to it (though, most all of Ceephax's work does having said that). Super accessible, this isn't the kind of Acid that's going to melt your speakers or anything which makes it a great starting point if you're looking to get into it as a whole, or if you're like me and only occasionally swim out to that side of the pool and don't want anything too intense.

And that'll do it for this month's instalment. I hope you find something you like here, and maybe it'll even set you off on a retro kick like me. I might even have to post that playlist I mentioned in a little while, I like to think we did a pretty thorough rundown of the whole 90's for it: from the cheese of the big hits to my secret ingredients there's plenty of variety, perhaps some eye rollers but that's all part of the fun isn't it? Anyway, I'll wrap up here, hope you're all keeping well and as always - Stay safe and enjoy the music.


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