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Jan. 22nd, 2019

cyberinsekt

Jean C. Roché - Gran Sabana

Jean-Claude Roché is a French ornithologist whose field recordings force us to re-evaluate what might otherwise think of as the most familiar of sounds. When we hear birdsong, we hear it as a distant thing. It may be plaintive, it may be raucous, but it is almost always attenuated. Roché's recordings are anything but. He used parabolic reflector mics to get absolutely up close and personal with his subjects, and the sounds are a revelation.

Gran Sabana comes from what is often considered his classic, the 1973 release Birds of Venezuela. Much of the song here is piercing and oversaturated, full of harmonic overtones, and sounding like the early experiments in electronic music that came out places like Philips in the 1950s. That raw primal sound would be shocking enough on its own, but then comes an electroacoustic gale as the wind catches his dish. Amazing sounds.

Jean C. Roché - Gran Sabana
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Jan. 21st, 2019

cyberinsekt

48 Chairs - Psycle Sluts

Psycle Sluts was the b-side of John Cooper Clarke's first single. It's a spectacularly incorrect number in which Clarke speaks with... admiration for women bikers, set to an eccentric electropunk backing. The music definitely takes a back seat to Clarke's poetry though, and frankly suffers for it. John Scott, the composer, certainly seemed to think so, because when it came time for him and his band to make the b-side to their own first single, they re-recorded an instrumental version of Psycle Sluts.

And it's amazing. Much more upfront than the original, it's fast and tight with echoing atonal saxophone caterwauling and horrorshow madman wordless vocalising. It manages to be super intense while obviously not taking itself in the slightest bit seriously. The a-side was one of Frank Zappa's favourite singles; while its mutant pop/punk/prog intricacy has its charms Psycle Sluts will always be Doklands choice.

48 Chairs - Psycle Sluts
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Jan. 20th, 2019

cyberinsekt

The Mummies - Test Drive

I've never written these words before, but now's the time: don't you wish you could live in San Bruno, California? That's the home of The Mummies, a band who travel in a vintage ambulance, wrap bandages around themselves from head to toe, and then go on stage to play garage punk. You can't tell me that's not a great night out. Test Drive is an EP track from 1990 that was later found on their 2003 compilation Death By Unga Bunga. In a more honest world it would be heralded as an instrumental surf classic. The Mummies: not just for Hallowe'en.

The Mummies - Test Drive
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Jan. 19th, 2019

cyberinsekt

The Farmingdale Sound Machine - Sampling is Satanic

A rummage down near the bottom of my music collection finds us Sampling is Satanic by The Farmingdale Sound Machine. Looks like it was downloaded from mp3.com 20 years ago, and unsurprisingly there's absolutely no reference to it anywhere that I can find. If you like bizarro Residents/Negativland style nerdtronics, why not download and listen. Even if you don't, help keep it alive in the name of digital archeology.

The Farmingdale Sound Machine - Sampling is Satanic
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Jan. 18th, 2019

cyberinsekt

NBGI - Katamari On The Swing (Sexy-Synthesizer All About Namco Mix)

The best commercial videogame soundtrack of all time belongs to Space Channel 5. It was released for the Dreamcast in 1999 and is based around the track Mexican Flyer, a stupendous library music burner by Ken Goodman and his Piccadilly Brass. A close second though?: Katamari Damacy.

Have you ever played one of those games where you're a small fish, and you get to eat even smaller fish, growing with every bite until you can chow down on sharks and the like? In essence, that's the Katamari series of games except that in them you're playing in the first person perspective of Prince of All The Cosmos, and instead of eating fish you're rolling up ever larger elements into your sticky ball. You start with drawing pins and finish with galaxies, and an air of sinister whimsy is present throughout.

A lot of that comes from the music. The game's main theme is hopelessly uncool and effortlessly memorable, and occurs throughout the series under many guises. Not enough though, as the 2009 album Katamari Takeshi added over 2 1/2 hours of further reworkings. A lot of them are... not good. In fact, in almost every case where someone from outside the original creative team attempts to reinterpret the music, there's a huge stylistic failure. The best material comes from NBGI, Namco's in house team, and the best of those is the astounding Katamari On The Swing (Sexy-Synthesizer All About Namco Mix).

It places Katamari Damacy squarely in the lineage of video game music. It's filled with the sort of instantly familiar bleeps and bloops that only an officially licensed product can get away with. It's a hallucinatory mashup of Pac-Man and the original samba, and it's completely fucking nuts. Absolute perfection, I am in awe.

NBGI - Katamari On The Swing (Sexy-Synthesizer All About Namco Mix)
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Jan. 17th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Ben LaMar Gay - Music for 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals

I've been listening to a lot of Ben LaMar Gay's 2018 album Grapes of late, and I don't really get it. I can admire its maximalist avant-r&b, but no matter how satisfying it is to dig deep for the rhythms it's never really going to be my thing. But his tribute to Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians? Count me in.

Music for 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals is a compelling lo-fi elastic buzz, that rattles, clatters and honks in absolutely perfect time. It's a brilliant take on the mathematical rigour of Reich's original, and if it gets you interested comparing that to modern takes on traditional braiding patterns then even better.

Ben LaMar Gay - Music for 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals
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Jan. 16th, 2019

cyberinsekt

DJ Khalab - Yaka Muziek

DJ Khalab is Raffaele Costantino, an Afro-Italian producer and visionary. I'm late to his 2018 album Black Noise 2084, and it's something quite extraordinary. It mixes African musical forms and sources with uncompromisingly modern electronics. On Yaka Muziek that means some familiar balafon patterns rub shoulders with dense, fizzing production that leaves rhythmic elements on the margins of hearing. It's a hallucinatory and trancelike synthesis of old and new. All too often this is a genre that can be accused of musical tourism, but this is the real deal.

DJ Khalab - Yaka Muziek
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Jan. 15th, 2019

cyberinsekt

D&V - Step Inside

D&V were teenage punks from Sheffield who released their debut on Crass Records. The Nearest Door (1983) was a 7 track EP that ran less than 10 minutes, and every track consisted solely of (D)rums and (V)ocals. There's no point in pretending that it was great art, and at times it does leave the listener rolling their eyes at the youthworker worthiness of the lyrics. That said, you've got to give credit to a band that left its performers absolutely nowhere to hide. Here's the sparse and spiky Step Inside, it's pretty much anarcho-punk distilled into its purest form.

D&V - Step Inside
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Jan. 14th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Kamasi Washington - Street Fighter Mas

Can't say I'm often in the mood for Big Jazz with lush choral arrangements and all that. Don't suppose you are much either. But that doesn't mean you should dismiss Kamasi Washington entirely; however focussed on the mainstream he might be he can still pen tight vamps like Street Fighter Mas. It is, of course, from his mammoth 2018 release Heaven and Earth .

Kamasi Washington - Street Fighter Mas
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Jan. 13th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Meatraffle - Aurora

There are not many bands who want to pull down music and start again. There are not many bands who show such little interest in the standard rock musical palette. There are not many bands like Meatraffle. The South London quartet might loosely be described as psychedelic post-punks, but breaking down the elements of their music doesn't tell the story. You can isolate the dub basslines, the drifting trumpet, the detuned instrumentation, the disassociated vocals but none of those will tell you what listening to Meatraffle is like. Aurora is from their 2015 debut, HiFi Classics, and it's at once shambolic and hypnotic. There's no getting away from the despair, and nor should there. It's what binds everything and everyone together, and the music is only weird because of the absurdity of the world.

Meatraffle - Aurora
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Jan. 12th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Max Richter - Sarajevo

Max Richter was one of the co-founders of Piano Circus, the 6-piece piano ensemble created to play (amongst other things) Steve Reich's Six Pianos. I have a memory of seeing them play it live, but honestly could not swear to it. Since then Richter's gone on to far more acclaim as a composer. Sarajevo is one of his earlier works from the 2002 release Memoryhouse. The soprano Sarah Leonard sings wordlessly over the BBC Philharmomic. It's sad and quiet and the thunder is distant but worryingly omnipresent; absolutely the psychic soundtrack to the late 1990s.

Max Richter - Sarajevo
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Jan. 11th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Gitkin - Canción del Rey

If you believe the story, Brian Gitkin's uncle was a travelling guitar salesman. He would travel the world selling fake Gibson guitars to immigrants to the US so that when they got there they'd be able to make a living playing music. Somehow the spirit of those guitars has been combined in the the nephew, who now makes music that's equal parts surf, cumbia and Ethiopian jazz.

We're not even going to pretend to believe any of that. Instead here's Canción del Rey, which allegedly has a strong Peruvian influence, and sounds for all the world like a drunken marching interpretation of It Don't Mean A Thing. It's from the 2018 album 5 Star Motel.

Gitkin - Canción del Rey
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Jan. 10th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Quasi - Fat Fanny Land

Maybe we've seen the last of Quasi. I hope not, but this year will be the sixth since their last album, the 2013 release Mole City, and few bands make it back from that sort of hiatus. I always loved the mad intensity of their two-piece alt-noise take on oldschool blues rock. Here's one of the great track from that release, Fat Fanny Land. It starts with one of Janet Weiss' killer drum beats that must surely have been sampled by now, but that quickly gets overwhelmed by a Sam Coomes boogie woogie piano part that is just peerlessly overdriven and distorted. The sweetest, most painful discord around, and unbearably wonderful.

Quasi - Fat Fanny Land
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Jan. 9th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Antonio Sanchez - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Want to hear a truly peculiar jazz cover of Sgt. Pepper? This is that. Sanchez is a truly vigorous drummer who can bring together the most disparate of sounds, and that's just as well because without him this would be all over the place. I mean, even with him it's still decidedly eccentric. Think of it as a vivid paint splash paying sonic tribute to the pop art roots of the original. A truly unusual piece from the compilation A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper.

Antonio Sanchez - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
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Jan. 8th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Margo Guryan - 16 Words

Margo Guryan only ever released one album, Take A Picture (1968). It was a record of psyche-tinged sunshine pop flavoured with left bank recalcitrance. She hated the business of music though, made a swift exit. Here's the sole release she made since then, an anti-GW Bush protest song from 2007. It sets 16 words from his 2003 State of the Union address ("The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein has recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa") to a pompous military beat, and generally has fun with the lying son of a bitch. It's such an unlikely thing that I thought you all would want to hear it. We were never able to bring those vile fuckers to answer for their crimes, so this is pretty much as good as it ever got.

Margo Guryan - 16 Words
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Jan. 7th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Ngozi Family - Hi Babe

Hi Babe comes at us from Zambia via Belfast. Ngozi Family were one of the great Zamrock acts of the 1970s and '80s, and today's track has their heavy psychedelia showing some major Van Morrison influence. Originally from the 1976 album Day of Judgement this starts off sounding like a disjointed take on Gloria but soon gets taken over by Paul Ngozi's ridiculously expressive wasp guitar.

Ngozi Family - Hi Babe
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Jan. 6th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Bas Jan - Wilderness

Bas Jan is the band formed by Serafina Steer a few years ago. Along with the harp she's also largely dropped her folk-influenced style for something rather more post-punk, and much of the band's 2018 release Yes I Jan has a definite 70s/80s experimental vibe, full of that era's razed earth atonality. Wilderness however is a rather more confident piece; her bass is like a lover's touch seems to say that broken people can still make warm and compelling music.

Bas Jan - Wilderness
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Jan. 5th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Dead Can Dance - Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book

The esoteric medievalism of Dead Can Dance seems to have found the band in favour once more. Well, it's bloody taken long enough. Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard have been ploughing a deeply unfashionable furrow for decades now: their music has variously been called gothic, folk, classical or industrial. Either way it's always been entirely distinctive and it's about time that we gave them the respect they deserve. For my money they were seldom better than on this cut from their 1990 release Aion. Perry takes over vocal duties for Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book, with lyrics taken from the works of the 16th century Spanish poet Luis de Góngora y Argote. It's a dispassionate tale of the inhumanity of fate: a preposterous concept brilliantly realised.

Dead Can Dance - Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book
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Jan. 4th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Haroon Mirza - 50 Locked Grooves

Back from the immensely exciting Haroon Mirza exhibition at the Ikon in Birmingham. Some installations crammed into its galleries. One is The National Apavilion of Then and Now a totally dark triangular anechoic chamber from which a ring of LEDs hovering above head height lights up, bringing with it a primal electric buzz that grows louder as the lights brighten; both cut out at once in one of the most viscerally shocking artistic experiences I've ever had. Another standout is the Chamber for Horwitz, a room in which 8 LED blocks with audio outputs change colour and tone in a sequence that has the feel of fractally generated music. Had me grinning like an idiot and drinking in the sound and lights at maximum proximity. Really worth going out of your way to visit if you can get to Birmingham before 24th Feb.

Here's one of his audio projects, a set of 50 locked grooves released on 2 identical 12" 33s. I guess the theory is that it's set up for a pair of turntables to explore the thousands of permutations available. This is just the base audio though, if you fancy importing it into your favourite audio editor it should be easy enough to extract the individual component loops; if not just drink in the dirty industrial techno sounds like said grinning idiot.

Haroon Mirza - 50 Locked Grooves
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Jan. 3rd, 2019

cyberinsekt

Shakti - Mind Ecology

Shakti were the all-star Anglo-Indian jazz fusion band that featured John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain and L. Shankar. If that sounds bland or new agey to you then you should surely think again, because they recorded some of the most dazzling and brilliant music of their era. Mind Ecology is taken from their third album, the 1977 release Natural Elements, and it's certainly not the sound of a band who are coasting. They launch into the tune at furious speed and never let up for a moment. McLaughlin's guitar is like a sewing machine stitching every single second of the track together. I've heard countless Zakir Hussain recordings over the years, but this youthful performance is, if nothing else, among his fastest. But the absolute star here is L. Shankar on violin, who uses the velocity of the rest of the band as rocket fuel for his exhilarating soloing. Tremendously exciting music.

Shakti - Mind Ecology
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