Saturday 26 November 2022

Flying Visit

Domenico Gnoli - Unbottoned Button (1969)

Apologies for the big gaps once again, I've been busy and not really felt like writing too much. I've been keeping notes on tracks I do want to talk about though, so let's get stuck in. I've been revisiting HEALTH's Death Magic once again, it's a record I love a whole lot. There are a couple of tracks on it that break with how I remember the full thing though - when I think HEALTH, I picture their noise-infused sound with lyrics streaked with nihilism. LIFE however, feels much more lighter in execution.

The noise element is still there with that deliciously distorted opening hook, but the delivery and lyrical content here feels much more... indie, for want of a better term, The kind of track that would break onto the radio every now and then - the chorus of "I don't know what I want, but I know that I don't know what I want" being that kind of clever rhythmical wordplay that is catchy as all get out. It's a feel it shares with LA LOOKS, a track that actually did appear on some indie compilations of the time.

Next is a track I've talked at length about in the past, the closing track for The Chemical Brothers' Push The Button: Surface To Air. Coming back to this album has been a bit of a mixed bag, I loved it way back when a friend loaned the CD to me way back when but some of the tracks have fallen prey to overplaying. Tracks like The Big Jump and Galvanize for example. Now that isn't a knock on the album, hell, it's not even the Chem. Bros' fault - those tracks have just been licensed and soundtracked a million times since release.

But that's maybe why I've fallen in with tracks like Surface To Air. It's a masterclass in the way the Bros build up tracks - perfectly placed as the final track of the album, it really feels like a complete journey over the 7 minute runtime. It takes a little while to get going, but I can't help falling in love all over again come around the 1 minute mark. It doesn't leave you hanging for the entire runtime, it only takes until roundabout the halfway mark for the full effect to come into play. signposted with a lovely almost post-rock-esque crescendo. And even then it's not done, adding a lovely bass line not long after and continuing to evolve over the rest of the runtime! It's a fantastic piece, frustratingly only available on the premium Soundcloud legitimately so I'm including a YT player as well for the full thing.

And that'll be all for today, I am going to try and be a little more active soon as things are winding down, I have plenty to write about but it is finding time that is the issue! I may change tack and do some more of these smaller posts in future to mitigate that a bit, but it shouldn't be long before I can return to my usual ones. At any rate - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday 16 November 2022

Charting the Stars

Getting around to writing this, I was waiting until all my tech woes were sorted out. A little bit of a retrospective this time, after seeing that Justice's Planisphere is now available as a separate release, I thought it'd be good to take a closer look at it once more. It's an interesting curio of the duo's discography - originally a promo CD for a Dior show back in '08, it'd see another release on the digital version of Audio, Video, Disco in its entire long form version (that replaced other bonus track Presence from the other versions) as well. And here we are again with another standalone release, coinciding with Ed Banger's new Bandcamp push, complete with updated artwork to boot. Let's take a look.

And speaking of that artwork, it should tip you off to the kind of experience you're in store for here. On the four parts of Planisphere, the Justice boys wear their hearts on their sleeves - a 17 minute epic that encapsulates all their influences. Personally I think the whole saga works better in parts than as one continuous stream, but I suppose the full length version is more in line with the very clear prog rock influence on display, see the extended jams of say, Tangerine Dream for reference.

Part I sets the stage - channeling the cinematic opening of Genesis with some dramatic piano stabs... for about 45 seconds or so before we land both feet firmly in that Cross-era sound. If you rinsed that record as much as I did back then you'll immediately hear the similarities. Personally I find Part I to be a bit plodding in terms of pacing for the first half but then again it is supposed to be the soundtrack to a fashion show so we are missing an integral part of the experience. That all changes in the second half though, where things take a very Valentine turn around the 3 minute mark - and it is brilliant.

Part 2 leans heavily on the duo's penchant for slightly spooky soundtracks (as they did previously with the Goblin sample for Phantom) at the very beginning, before settling back into that Valentine-esque groove. At the 50 second mark we start to take off and we launch back into something that shares more in common with the heavier sides of their debut LP, very Waters Of Nazareth in execution. The shortest of the Tetralogy, it does feel very much like a bridge between the two parts, especially given the sudden change at the very end that ushers in part III.

III continues that trend, leading with that grinding, almost engine revving sound that underpinned the Justice sound of the time. I think it might be my least favourite of the bunch, but not for any particular reason - looking over my 'played' stats for them all it is the lowest of the four but that's not a great metric to measure that by as Part IV is heavily skewing those numbers, but we'll get to that in due time. Because in reality, as good as the rest of the parts are, IV really, really steals the show.

And it wastes no time making that clear from the get-go. Opening with a frankly decadent display of guitar shredding. It is between this and SebastiAn's bootleg of Killing In The Name Of I was able to get a few metal-heads into electronic back in my high school days. The crescendo of this extended jam is up there as one of the finest tracks the duo have ever made, an exclamation mark at the end of an already killer tracklist. All these years later, the build up and break at 1:10 still makes me a little excited, catapulting me back to my days of chasing the next electro banger of the week. I've said in the past I'm not the biggest fan of guitar noodling, especially in electronic music - but I'll be damned if it doesn't work wonders here. For the final 3 quarters it is a non-stop barrage of furious fretwork, an absolute tour de force.

I might not have kept up as much with Justice or the rest of the Ed Banger crew, but coming back to tracks like this never fail to bring me right back to that heyday. Planisphere has aged a little more gracefully than some other examples of the era, partly because it's not out there to be this week's hot thing for the dance floor, but even so I'm sure that it'd still get the floor filled as it is. While not as pervasive as their debut album Cross, Planisphere is widely held up as one of Justice's finest hours, and hopefully as you've heard, rightfully so. Predictably the Vinyl version sold out pretty rapidly, folks on Discogs have been begging for it for literal years if you go back and look. It might have been in stock if I'd have posted this when I originally intended to, but between tech issues and Life™ it's been delayed slightly.

Even so, I hope you've enjoyed this little look back, whether you're a Ed Banger Veteran or this is your first time. I still have to write that full breakdown of last month's bandcamp Friday, and if I don't hurry up I'll end up having to do two back to back! I'm gonna try write a couple quicker ones in the meantime too but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday 6 November 2022

November's Friday Result: Prelude

Just a quick post here before I dive into the full fat of my last Bandcamp Friday. It was a pretty big haul, more-so than usual and I'd like to take my time with a full writeup. But, I am also aware it's been a little while in my last post, so I figured why not cover all those bases (and the added bonus of troubleshootin' the old Hype Machine again) in one swoop with a little quick update? Let's go.
Sarah Morris - The Mirage (Las Vegas) (1999)

As I mentioned up top, a fairly big haul this time, a few records I've been eyeing up for a while, one of which I think may pan out into a Retro Review down the line. There were some last minute additions as well in the form of two more compilations from Touched Music, the charity label I've talked about before. I scooped their absolutely massive second entry Touched Two some months back and I've still yet to full digest the depths of it's 255 tracks. I've had a few more in my wish-list since then, including the Found Sound series, a much more 'IDM' focused set of compilations from what I'd read. The label mentioned via email that for a limited time the two of them would be 'pay what you want' as they also announced an upcoming third entry in the series too, so at the very last minute I gave both of them a spin and added them to my cart.

Much easier to get into than the big 255 tracker one, the two Found Sounds clock in at a much more readable 59 tracks. It's early doors yet so I don't have any absolute favourites to report back with as of yet, but there are plenty of contenders. From volume one I've chosen Fxmas mod DAISY CHAIN 25o [brkn rotary hesitant snr] which sounds like some of the names I give my project files. It's a playful little number that evokes that Aphex Twin vibe circa Richard D. James Album. It's been quite a while since I delved into the 'fun' side of the IDM world, my favourites tend to be a little more cold and technical feeling, so having this one come on was very refreshing indeed.

From the second entry we have something more in line with what I just mentioned, as the title Beta might give away. It's perhaps a little generic if you're fully immersed in the world of IDM, especially as the original release this track appeared on is from 1999, but it's a style of sound that I have a lot of love for. It's been quite a long time since I really sought out anything that sounds like this so I will admit some bias there as well! I just can't help but love that really specific brand of hi-tech sounds like this that was coming out around the late 90's to early 00's, which makes sense as my last real deep dive into this sound was a combination of releases on Toytronic and early net-label pioneers Monotonik. That's part of the appeal of the Touched releases for me actually, you get a whole heap of new names to check out if you dig their stuff.

One last track to round things off, I had the lone Reporter EP I talked about a while back come on - Seasonal Rhythms - which spurred me on to get some more. It's a very pretty release and I'd plain forgotten to wish-list some other Reporter releases so it served as a good reminder. I settled on the Guggenheim EP, originally released as a CDr in 2004. I must say the updated artwork is much nicer and very much suits the slick electronics contained. Each track named for a location, they really could all go here quite comfortably. I've chosen Vegas this time around - by far the darkest sounding of the bunch, it's much closer to that cold and artificial feeling I described really enjoying a few paragraphs back. Not sure it's my favourite of the lot, but you can certainly expect to see not only more of this EP, but more Reporter in general in the posts to come.

And that'll be all for today, I know I said up top I'd left it a little longer than I'd like between posts but that might not be as bad as I made out, this post felt really speedy to write! That might be due to the sheer amount of new music I got recently though come to think of it, but maybe an extra day or two isn't so bad. At any rate, I'll be back soon enough with more - a full writeup of the rest of my Friday scoops coming up next with some more from the releases mentioned here and some others that I haven't brought up as of yet. There's some public transport carnage in my neck of the woods this coming week so no doubt I'll find some time to sit and do a full writeup. Until then, as always: stay safe and enjoy the music.