Thursday, 24 December 2009

An excursion into Industrial and Drone music

Having been more or less housebound over the past few days because of the snow, and therefore working at home, I've been expanding my musical horizons by letting lastfm "do its thing" by finding music associated or similar to an artist I select. As usual I've found loads of new and exciting sounds.

I think I entered Cabaret Voltaire to start with, which not only brought up some great tracks from the band across their many years, but also re-introduced me to the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Rapoon, Clock DVA and Chris and Cosey.

I have always had a liking for industrial type music, although I know many of these bands dislike the categorisation, but it's not an area I'd really explored much outside of the Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle and Coil 'families'. I've been particularly impressed with the industrial-techno sounds produced by Chris Carter and Robin Storey, and whilst not something I would listen to on a daily basis has provided a pleasant, and sometimes challenging, listening experience.

My web site has a few pages dedicatd to my industrial and drone CDs and records for sale where you'll find Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Coil, Richard H Kirk, etc.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Heaven Up Here?

I once told someone a long, long time ago that Echo and the Bunnymen were my favourite group. I can't remember exactly why I said this as it's usually the sort of question that I avoid as my musical taste jumps all over the place on a daily basis. However, every time I hear one of their songs coming up on lastfm.com I can completely understand why I made that statement. Their fist four albums are all brillinat, with Porcupine probably being my favourite, but curiously though when I look through my top 10, and ever extending worthy contender, list of albums, they don't feature.

I only ever got to see them once, at Gloucester Leisure Centre back some time around 1985 or 1986. I don't remember them being drop-dead brilliant but I do recall a fantastic live cassette I had of their performance at Glastonbury. The whole set was brilliant but of particular note was the version of Do It Clean which jumped all over the place, slipping into Doors' songs amongst others. I'm not sure if I still have the tape but perhaps I'll have to have a look in the attic.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Krautrock and Kosmische

Once again I find myself in re-discovery mode. Today's musical re-discovery is Krautrock or Kosmische. I have a handful of albums by Can, Klaus Schulz, Neu!, Tangerine Dream, Faust, etc., but they generally get very little airtime. However since I discovered last.fm I have started to re-listen to these artists, and thanks to last.fm's ability to come up with similar artists I have now discovered a few bands of that genre who I'd never come across before. My current favourites are Harmonia who I have also discovered that Brian Eno proclaimed to be "the world’s most important rock group", and Cluster. Also getting regular plays have been Guru Guru, Neu!, Popol Vuh and Roedelius.

I must admit however, some of it is not completely to my likeing. Whilst I can normally appreciate a length piece of music that builds up into something spectatcular, I have heard a couple of tracks by the likes of Manuel Gottsching just go on for that bit too long and don't really go anywhere, but overall a pleasing genre and one which I'm hugely enjoying (re)discovering.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Public Image, I Got What I Wanted ... Eventually

I remember that having missed out on buying the Sex Pistols records as they were issued, I was determined to buy the first, and subsequent, records by Public Image Ltd. I rushed out to buy their first single, Public Image, complete with the limited edition newspaper. I then made the bold statement to my friends at school that I would buy everything they ever released. Well, needless to say this didn't happened and I was of course ridiculed. The reason I didn't buy any more was that their next two releases, Death Disco and Memories, were a massive departure from the jumpy punk sound that I was expecting.

So, I kind of wrote them off, perhaps briefly re-awakening for the Flowers of Romance single. So, it's with interest and curiosity that firstly I find them being played on lastfm.com as part of genres and similar to other artists that I like, and secondly that I really like all the tracks I have heard, including those I had an extreme dislike for at the time.

The tracks from their second album, Metal Box, are particularly good and I guess as my musical tastes have broadened over the years, and I'm no longer afraid to declare my love for something which isn't "cool", that I am more susceptible to them now.

I don't have any Public Image Ltd records for sale but I do have a wide range of similar records and CDs for sale.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Porcupine Tree - a real eye opener

I've just been listening to Porcupine Tree following a recommendation by a ex-work colleague. I'd been aware of Steve Wilson previously through his work with Bass Communion, but the Porcupine Tree music couldn't be more different. No sign of the drone, field-recording, type sounds which I'd expected to hear, but great songs and melodies. I'm embarassed to say that I thought it was Guided By Voices when I first heard it. So, not what I expected but I'm very pleased with my new find. I just need to add their recordings to my ever growing wants list - let's hope Santa's feeling generous this year, afterall I have been a very good boy.

Monday, 14 December 2009

All I want for Christmas is a bit more post-punk

December has continued with further exploration of the post-punk era. Tuxedomoon and their offshoots remain high up on my playlist. I've also rediscovered some bands on Factory Records, whose 7" singles I bought at the time, but had long forgotten. These include The Names, Stockholm Monsters, Section 25, and of course A Certain Ratio.

But probably the most enjoyable has been Cabaret Voltaire. I'm currently listening to Yashar and can't get enough of its hypnotic drum beat and chanting. I've kind of discovered Cabaret Voltaire in reverse, starting with Richard H.Kirk's solo material under his various pseudonyms, and then going back in time to his original band.

If anyone's interested I have a few Richard H Kirk and Cabaret Voltaire CDs for sale along with vinyl and CDs from all sorts of musical genre.

I've also "discovered" The Residents. Reading through their history I suspect I am the last person in the world to have come across them, but they are a curiously interesting outfit, worthy of further investigation ... I just need more hours in the day.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

A few morth "worthy contenders"

Just realised I never listed any Loop my "worthy contenders" section. Heaven's End by Loop was such a great record. I only ever had it on vinyl and haven't heard it for years. Lastfm seems to have a few Loop tracks but I may have to get the CD. I bought the vinyl way back in 1987 on the recommendation of a work colleague at the time. I had no idea what I was in for but remember being very impressed. I tracked down some of the early 12" vinyl releases as well ... Collision, Black Sun and 16 Dreams, but these are alas long gone. He also recommended Spacemen 3 which unfortunately I didn't listen to until much later but I would probably also add Sound of Confusion into the worthy contender list as well. Perhaps I'll get around to creating a top 100.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Just Give Me Indie Rock

I'm in rediscovery mode again this week. It started off by dipping back into Sonic Youth's back catalogue ... I forgot just how good some of those tracks from Daydream Nation, Goo and Dirty were. My biggest "problem" with Sonic Youth is however very similar to my problem with Sebadoh. I genuinely love all the tracks they have done, but what I find difficult is when the consecutive tracks on an album leap from one style to another. This can be ok sometimes but more often than not I prefer to listen to songs of a similar mood. Thank goodness for the iPod though where I can allocate their various songs into my own playlists.

I've also been re-exposed to a bit of Husker Du, Pond, Dinosaur Jnr and Pavement again recently. Listening to these guys reminds me of the time I discovered that there was actually some good, current music to listen to. Until that time I had pretty much regressed to the late 60's/early 70's, immersing myself in the UK and US hippy scenes.

On the subject of Husker Du, I have recently bought Bob Mould's Circle Line CD. It took me a while to get into it, and it certainly didn't have the immediate impact that New Dawn Rising and Copperblue did, but there are 3 or 4 outstanding tracks. Current favourites are probably Very Temporary and Stupid Now. Apparently Bob Mould and Sonic Youth are playing in the UK next month so I really should get of my butt and go and see them.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Post-punk radio

Well, of course, I knew this would happen. As soon as I had commited my top 10 albums to print, plus a handful of other worthy contenders, 10's of others came to mind. I have been listening to Obscure Post Punk Radio and John Peel radio on last.fm fairly heavily over the past few days and it's clear my list needs to be extended massively. I made no mention of Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nick Cave, A Certain Ratio, Tuxedomoon, Cocteau Twins, Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs, Julian Cope, and oh so many others.

I'm finding the last.fm web site a fantastic resource for bringing back old memories and also for discovering new music. It's a bit scary however to realise that some of my favourite songs are now over 30 years old !! Some have aged really well, others are not sounding so good, and some I didn't really like at the time sound great today.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

My Top 10 Albums of All Time (plus a few more)

Having bleated on various music sites words to the effect of "this is one of my top 10 albums of all time" I thought I should challenge myself and name them. Quite a mixed bag here, and nowhere as easy as I thought it would be. I'm sure I've missed out some real classics.

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Tim Buckley - Greetings From L.A.
Wire - Pink Flag
David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills and Nash
Eat Static - Abduction
Biosphere - Patashnik
Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy
Nick Drake - Bryter Later
Aphex Twin - Ambient Works, 95-98


Here's a link to my amazon.co.uk listmania list for them.


Other worthy contenders would be:

Joy Division - Closer
The Smiths - The Smiths
B12 - Electro-Soma
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
Polygon Window - Surfing on Sine Waves
Neil Young - Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Mannassas - Mannassas
The Damned - The Black Album
Wire - Chairs Missing
Brian Eno - Another Green World
Michael Dog - Summer Night Sessions
Dr Alex Patterson - Voyage into Paradise
Killing Joke - Killing Koke
Psychedelic Furs - Psychedelic Furs
Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street
The Beatles - Rubber Soul
Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets
The Clash - London Calling
The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
David Bowie - Low
Scott Walker - Scott 4
The Fall - Totale's Turns
Black Dog - Temple of Transparent Balls
Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground and Nico
Lou Reed - Transformer
Neil Young - Harvest
Graham Nash - Wild Tales
Peter Hammill - Fool's Mate

... I could go on but I guess that would be cheating.

Interested in my records and CDs for sale? Check out my web site where I'm selling off a lot of my old vinyl and CDs that I now have stored in digital format.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Everything Merges With The Night (a journey with Eno)

I'd love to be able to say that I got into Brian Eno when he was the keyboard/synth player with Roxy Music in the early 1970's, but alas it wasn't until some time in the early 1980's that I became aware of his existence. If I recall correctly it was hearing Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, on vinyl of course, that I borrowed from a school friend. I was pretty much hooked after that, and soon after picking up Before and After Science, Another Green World and Here Come The Warm Jets.

Having been half-aware that he had made some collaborative material with the likes of Robert Fripp, David Byrne, etc., I began to search out other recordings. The two collaborative albums he recorded with Robert Fripp, Evening Star and No Pussyfooting remain firm favourites to this day. The collaboration he did with David Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, has stood the test of time very well, and this came across particularly well when I saw David Byrne on his last tour, playing the songs he recored with Brian Eno. I was half-expecting the great man to join David on stage, but alas we had to make do with the music. I did see Brian Eno once, rather unexpectedly, at a concert by Daniel Lanois, where he joined him on stage.

The ten albums released on the Obscure label, including Eno's own Discreet Music hold for me not just a musical interest, but also the cover art. Reissued through the years, with covers changing and becoming obviously smaller on CD, they have since lost some of their appeal, but the original LP sleeves are a joy to behold - simple but effective.

Only fairly recently did I discover the music of Roger Eno. Initially I found a couple of his more classic albums, Voices and The Flatlands, both of which are excellent. More recently I have uncovered some of his collaborations with the likes of Lol Hammond and Plumbline.

As with all my music, it's now all stored electronically so I do have a few Brian Eno and related CDs for sale, along with loads of other music covering all sorts of genres.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

(Re)discovering new music

When I look back over the past year, my musical tastes have varied wildly. I've discovered bands and artists new to me, from all sorts of musical genres; a couple which spring to mind being Tuxedomoon and The Soft Boys. I have also rediscovered some artists that I hadn't listened to for years, David Sylvian and John Foxx to name but two.

New discoveries

For those bands who are new to me, I'm not quite sure how I managed to miss them first time around. Tuxedomoon in particular provide the experimental, post-punk sound that kept me going in the late 1970's and early 1980's but until recently I had not heard any of their material. Not only did I discover the band themselves, but also the brilliant solo and collaboration material from two of their founding members, Steven Brown and Blaine L.Reininger. Probably my favourite of the releases I've heard is Decade by Steven Brown, which gets regular airplay on the iPod on the train to work and at home.

Probably not a discovery in 2009, but certainly no earlier than 2008, was Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy). I came across him through Current 93 and couldn't resist when I found an album by him. I must admit it didn't resonate with me on the first listen but did grow on me soon afterwards. It wasn't too long before I'd tracked down another CD, and pretty soon was addicted. I think I've now got 10 or so under his various guises. I even managed to get to see him at the Festival Hall in London earlier this year.

Other new discoveries are thanks to lastfm.com and mostly within the folk genre. Artists of note include Fairport Convention, The Pentangle, Bert Jansch, and Jackson C.Frank.

Rediscoveries

John Foxx is a curious rediscovery. I was aware of his material at the time as one of my school friends was a big fan, but I remember only being slightly interested. However, having picked up second-hand copy of The Golden Section recently, my mind has been firmly changed and I am now a renewed fan, rapidly building up the back catalogue.

I can't classify the Fall as a rediscovery as I've always had a love-hate relationship with them. I have however picked up expanded versions of a couple of their early albums that I have always liked, Totale's Turns and Slates, which have been on regular rotation since. Grotesque, Dragnet and Witch Trials should be added to the collection soon.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

An Introduction to my Music Collection

I suppose I cut my record collecting teeth in the late 1970s where, as an impressionable teenager, thanks to the John Peel radio show and the Melody Maker, I developed a liking for the UK punk and new wave sound. Initially it was about the music, snapping up 7" singles by the Clash, the Jam, the Damned, Generation X, the Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, Wire, XTC, the Skids, etc., and then later Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, A Certain Ratio, etc. As these became more collectable as the years went by, I started to hanker after the limited editions, picture sleeves, coloured vinyl, etc. I did always however only buy records that I liked, as opposed to anything that was rare regardless of whether or not I liked it. I also found myself exploring the various solo efforts, collaborations and spin-offs from the bands. I recall that Wire in particular spawned several groups, e.g. Dome, He Said, Duet Emmo, and of course the solo offerings from Colin Newman, Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis.

I never outgrew the punk and new wave sound and do still listen to it today, but of course my musical tastes expanded over the years, although it did take some doing. I remember the dilemma when I bought my first Neil Young record, as how could I, a punk, possibly like it. Assisted by the fact that John Peel played Neil Young records, I persuaded myself to buy "Harvest", closely followed by "After The Goldrush", and then pretty much all of his back catalogue, even venturing into Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and all their various spin-offs. I discovered some real classics along the way. In particular "If I Could Only Remember My Name" by David Crosby, "Wild Tales" by Graham Nash and the Mannassas (Stephen Stills) debut double LP to name but a few. I did however somehow manage to end up with a New Riders of the Purple Sage album which I absolutely hated, so became a little more choosey about which avenues I explored (this was of course before the time where you could pre-listen on the internet).

I had a similar dilemma when I bought my first 'dance' record, which was either Transglobal Underground or Eat Static, but needless to say I overcame this hurdle as well and now have more ambient, dance, electronic, house and techno music than I can shake a stick at. I did spend a period in the 1990s trying to complete my collection of all the CDs released on Pete Namlook's Fax label. I got within 4 but then lost interest as the quality of new releases had seemed to dip (good news is though that from the dialogue on the fax discussion list, the newer material now seems to be good again).

I liked nothing better than to spend hours ferreting around in the damp basements of London's second-hand record shops, looking for bargains. Sadly many of these shops have gone now but there are a few around still in Notting Hill Gate and Soho. It was ages before I moved from vinyl to CD. I still prefer the look and feel of a record, but storage quickly became an issue. As for downloading music, well I do it but still prefer to have something I treasure in my hand rather than as a file on my computer. My kids on the other hand simply don't get why I don't like it.

Having said that however, I do think one of the best inventions of all time is the iPod. I bought my first one, a 40Gb classic, in San Francisco back in 1984, which I filled up very quickly. I now have to remove songs every time I buy or download a new CD which is a pain. It's also now refusing to sync with my PC meaning I can't add new stuff at all. Hopefully I'll treat myself to an 80Gb one over the next few weeks so I can have all my music wherever I go ... only problem is I may need to get a new PC or bigger hard drive as well.

My current musical tastes include what's loosely referred to as "industrial" covering artists like Nurse With Wound and Current 93. I've also developed a liking for what's often called "drone" or "field recordings" by the likes of Paul Bradley, Colin Potter, Andrew Liles, Murmer, Darren Tate ... all of which the rest of my family really don't like at all. Going back in time a bit, I've rediscovered Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Robert Fripp, David Toop, Peter Hammill, Scott Walker, Nick Drake and Tim Buckley.

Naturally over the years I have built up a surplus of music that I no longer want, and of course with the invention of iTunes and the iPod, that I no longer need in physical format. A list of what I'm selling off can be found at records and CDs for sale.