Thursday 17 August 2023

A Short post about Shorts

Making my way through a big ol' pile of emails that have accrued over time, whittling through the many Bandcamp ones at the minute - part of the reason they pile up is that I never like to bin a 'new release from x' one without at least checking it out first.

I did a double take when I read the description for this one - a new release from Squarepusher x Adam Buxton? An oddity to be sure. A little context for those unaware, Adam Buxton is a comedian, best known for his array of musical earworms - every so often I catch the infectious Moby Song creeping into my skull. Suffice to say, not the first choice that comes to mind when thinking about a collaboration with Squarepusher (though saying that, the Moby Song does have the amen break in it, so maybe not a million miles removed!)

So what's on the menu when Buxton meets 'Pusher's brand of breaks? Well, we're treated to a mashed rework of My Red Hot Car for starters, which is one of my favourites from SP anyway. Here, it's been reformed into a short form sub 50-second number, in keeping with Adam's 'Jingle' format. Buxton's lyrical accompaniment is typically silly - making the whole thing closer to something 'Pusher's brother would make; some of the Ceephax tracks are definitely a bit of a piss-take. Truth be told it works pretty well, the rework of Red Hot Car is brilliant and Buxton's accompaniment retains that earworm-y nature of his other jingles, it's only been a couple of days and I can already tell that the shoutout of "Middle aged man legs!" is going to join the Moby Song in repeating on me randomly in the years to come.

It's not just an audio shitpost though, the reason behind this collab is laid clear on the tune's bandcamp page: "HotBox in Chelmsford, Essex is a welcoming venue for live entertainments and revelry which stands out a nautical mile. It's an essential lifeline for local culture, but like many smaller venues in the UK saddled with post-lockdown debt, it is finding it more and more difficult to stay in business. So please offer a donation and in return we offer this short piece as a token of appreciation. Let's help HotBox remain the local community's top spot!" It's not embeddable so you'll have to visit the page to get the legit player, but at £0.50, it's well worth adding to your own collection.

I've still got other stuff in the pipeline, it's looking like it might be a series of bandcamp-less players unfortunately, but in one case there might be another stream I can use, we'll see when the time comes. In the meantime, I hope you've liked this short look at Shorts - and until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the muisc.


Tuesday 8 August 2023

Birthdays Bonus

Joe Goode - Birthdays (2008)

First things first - apologies for taking such an extended break. Every Summer I give myself a list of things to sort out and then never end up actually doing it, but this year was different. Nothing exciting unfortunately, jut a lot of tedious file management that I'd been putting off for ages and catching up on some other things. The downside to that being I am now behind in other areas, this blog included - so it goes.

At any rate, I have a fair few things planned for this month to make up for it - starting with the annual tradition that is the anniversary post. By happy synchronicity both me and the site share a birthday, I like to mark the occasion with a slightly longer than usual post with some of my recent favourites, so let's get stuck right in.

Kicking off with Ceephax's Christmas gift to us in Baddow Moods. In the past I've characterised Ceephax's output as a bit tongue-in-cheek, which is true - you only have to look at the videos for his tracks to see he's having a right laugh embracing the cheese. Baddow Moods is pretty far from that, it's a gorgeous experience throughout, delving into more Deep House territory, sometimes even ambient at times but still with the eponymous Acid backing it up. Here's one of my favourites from the LP and the longest of the bunch in Ventlaris - to the surprise of no one reading it's this spacey number with flecks of acid as mentioned above and I could live in it's space forever. I may have to give the whole LP a write up one of these days.

There's going to be a theme for this month where I get to nerd out a little, and you're going to see a little bit of that here. Chikada Wasei, one of the men behind the tracks for the Cyberia scenes in Serial Experiements Lain has been making new additions to the series since 2018, with Layer 4 being the most recent one. Wasei is a talented producer, and importantly very flexible with the productions that make it onto these albums - while there are glimpses of the thudding Techno of the original OST, there's a variety in genres on show on the modern Cyberia-s. Really they deserve their own post (another one I'll have to get around to). For now, here's a choice bit from Layer 4

Case in point when it comes to variety, there's a companion album to Layer 03 titled After Hours which is predictably a lot more laid back than the main entries. A cool concept in general really, as Wasei turned to the community for contributions, the Lain community has a massive amount of fan-made music so it was nice to see it recognised. Not to say Wasei was totally hands off though, he too has a few contributions and collaborations throughout the track list, the introspective Last Present being a highlight.

A little bit of my last Bandcamp Friday pickups next, they were a little piecemeal this time around despite me having an extra month to prepare. Garoad dropped another single recently, they are infrequent but always a highlight (but also he seems to be busy with other soundtrack work so I can hardly complain!). Fight On Beat sees a return to form, if like me you just love the VA-11 HALL-A OST then you'll be right at home here. It wastes no time getting right down to it, opening with the exact sounds that put the VA-11 HALL-A tracks on my radar. Surprisingly not the only Fighting Game themed track I picked up on BC Friday either, but that's a tale for another day.

Some Rei Harakami next, and another from my recent BC Friday. I've been slowly drip feeding myself Harakami's works over the past few years in order to make the most of them - I adore Harakami's sound, so the longer I can hold onto having 'new' works to listen to the better. One of his tracks - Pone - is one of my favourites of all time, so it's only natural that I give a little shout out here too. Unrest is his debut, and as much as I like to say he perfects his formula on later albums, most of it is already here from the get go - that playful electric piano that underpins Harakami's sound is still there, it's just trimmed in Techno on this first LP. To the surprise of no one, the more downtempo bits are my favourites, starting with the short and sweet Wreck, an almost prototype of Pone mentioned above, simply gorgeous.

To make up for that one being a little short, one I've talked about before but is the first that comes to mind when thinking of this album - the lovely, dubby Bioscope. It sounds a little different from the usual E-Piano stuff I mentioned before, but the production sensibilities remain the same and shine through quite nicely. I will say if you've enjoyed either of these two, go right ahead and look up Harakami's discography and you won't be disappointed, as mentioned earlier [Lust] is my favourite of the bunch, but you can drop the needle pretty much anywhere and get some more goodness going on.

And finally, one last selection from one of my recent loves - Yagya's Faded Photographs is a wonderfully sedate experience, one that works best when listened to as one whole thing, though this makes it tricky to pick out individual pieces, especially as so many of the tracks flow together. The one-two punch of No Matter What and Melting In The Morning Sun have been my most repeated of the bunch. Here, the instrumentals almost take a backseat, which makes the vocal flourishes shine that much brighter. The album is quite accessible when compared to the Yagya output that I knew from the early 00's - the super stripped minimal where 6 minutes is the shortest runtime. The vocals are a welcome addition for me, they do wonders for the atmosphere and I think really complete that slight melancholy as shown on the album's cover. I've seen some say they aren't a fan, but also a fair few say the production is very similar to the albums before this (albeit minus the vocals) - if that's the case I'll have to pencil a few of them in to check out come Winter.

And that'll be about all for today, thanks for sticking with us for another year, and as I say every time - here's to many more. Stay tuned for more writings this month, some of it can't be on Bandcamp players so I'll have to try and arrange something else - apologies in advance. Shouldn't be too long mind you, until then - as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.