Sunday, 16 November 2014

SubVersion Stop 233: Little Red + Stuart Clark + Gus Hewlett @ Old Fire Station, Oxford, November 14th 2014

Little Red + Stuart Clark + Gus Hewlett @ Old Fire Station, 14.11.2014

"I know Friday night at a folk club is not a normal place to go" posits Little Red songwriter and night promoter Ian Mitchell in the headlining of this All Will Be Well label launch gig. The aching lack of affluence towards intimacy in a hyper-accelerated city creates a cause for discomfort and movement. It's one thing feeling safe in a packed club but another feeling like you really belong, which is a quality Mitchell and co elucidate on my gig of 2014.

Speaking to Ian before the event, Gus Hewlett, a folk guitarist equal parts Bill Frisell and James Blackshaw is said to have drum'n'bass chops, a contrast that couldn't be anything more sonically different tonight. Through a generous 45 minute length Hewlett hacks at his strings in sophisticated fashion, adapting a Bob Dylan piece for his second tune and elsewhere trailblazing an arpeggio wedge to gently impose his semi-auteur ear for a melody. Worthwhile, in short.

Stuart Clark is a commanding presence mid evening, an arpeggio-heavy storyteller in the vein of "Lady Grinning Soul" Bowie with just guitar for company. Disappearance's rhetoric echoes on one of his later tracks, where stop-start rhythms fuse with a folly towards lonely abstraction. It's not all reverbed abandon though, as he swoops and swoons about subjects as broad as nature creating stopgaps between time and place. There is a definite sense of human body spotlighted. Pristine playing, gently crystallising voice over instrumental backbeat. The audience are generally at ease by a paradoxically uneasy set. One to watch.

Opening with drum-free, acoustic "Cures", the vocal interplay of frontman Ian Mitchell, producer Ben Gosling and the elusive female vocalist parries inflections from Finn and more contemporarily Fink, but is sweet-natured enough in lyricism, "names carved in a tree"-esque as they sing to engrave itself onto this reviewer's memory. It's a tale about where two lovers first met, and the usual bushy beard, folk-centric influence in context of there being woods that can lead either lover astray. This leads into "The Garden", the triplet acoustic, vocal assemblages making things "wrong to right" - here the sound carries further than the "face melting" joke Mitchell coyly nods to later in the performance, about the material not being wall of sound enough for the Friday night gurner massive. "What Say You?" resonates stronger, the lead track on "Sticks And Stones", what Mitchell dubs to me as an EP on the night, even though the 9 CD tracks are filled out naturally for full length status.

Little Red definitely sound like a very new band, but instead of amateurish triptych on behalf of the singers and instrument players, they form a cohesive whole not dissimilar to Duotone or XL's Blue Roses. They close post-"Chapters" (a track from their forthcoming record) with "The Boxer", where Ian sings "I'll still be coming back for more" after metaphors for being a broken man. Given the right studio treatment of the exciting live incarnation, Little red could have a rosy future, and close this night so finely.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

SubVersion Stop 232: [2005 Retrospective Muttley Mix Series] Kidzania - MixCloud Only

[2005 Retrospective Muttley Mix Series] Kidzania - MixCloud Only

A retrospective series of mixes by Muttley ( /, recorded in 2005, before the first Muttley mix was uploaded online (Feb 06 Selection, on dnbshare). All about the tunes here.

I'm getting a few of these uploaded in one go and I'd actually be more interested in talking to you about the tunes personally than I would having you try and root around Discogs when there is so much great jungle/dnb being ignored now.

As such, "Kidzania" (the title is taken from a type of nursery exercise for children) is intended as study for teens getting into the sound - I recorded this series in 2005, when I was 17. No-one was playing sounds like this all in the same set in Kent back then where I was. So, I resorted to reclusive mixing until I reached a possible audience level.

The vinyl (the only format I could get most of this material on - pre-digital inclusivity proper) was recorded onto CD-Rs and mixed with a Gemini twin CD deck.

Tracklist for Pt. 1 (timestamped on MixCloud when each track comes in)

01. Kemal & Black Sun Empire - Stranded V1.0 (oBSEssions, 2005)
02. Resound - Circular Structure (Counter Intelligence, 2004)
03. Beta 2 & Zero Tolerance - Front Door (Soundtrax)
04. Breakage - Rise (Bassbin, 2005)
05. ASC - Serenity (Strictly Digital sold download, 2003)
06. High Contrast - Savoire Faire (Hospital, 2002)
07. ASC - Chrysalis [Edit] (Strictly Digital sold download, 2003)
08. Klute - Don't Wanna Be Alone (Commercial Suicide, 2005)
09. Silent Witness - Amazon (DNAudio, 2005)
10. Phace - Polymers (Subtitles, 2005)
11. Silver - Angry & Bitter (?, 2005)
12. Tactile - Spaced Out (Timeless, 2004)
13. Counterstrike - Phantasm (Moving Shadow, 2004)
14. Skitty - Fall Down (Renegade Hardware, 2004)
15. Klute - Rosemary (Commercial Suicide, 2005)
16/17. Ewun vs Counterstrike - Face The Zulu Warrior (Barcode / Moving Shadow, 2004)

Any feedback much appreciated.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

SV Stop 231: Vinyl sales to top 1 million per year for the first time since 1996

dionysus links an article on SC from the Financial Times, which you can read by registering on the site with an email address (money is demanded for the news archive or newspaper, naturally).

Some thoughts on vinyl from Muttley

Since 2011, with talk speculating around digital media services like selling more and more wax, the vinyl format has seen a paradoxically eternal increase in interest, not guessable since its renaissance began.

Audio streaming, and media streaming for that matter, has always been the antithesis of ownership in the 21st Century. Is it any wonder, just as it takes effort to turn over a record played for a limited time, there is an unlimited service that transcends it? As ever, for every unlimited service, those who are possessive by character need the ownership over streaming a media, it feeds them.

As such, with the increase of services like Spotify re-administrating the boundary between 'sharing' and 'streaming', it's not surprising that many have fallen back on their laurels of traditional formats. It's easier for one: why flick through Spotify or YouTube ads, or indeed get stuck with an ad playing between a release, when you can put on a record or CD, a copy you can call your own?

The fetishisation of ownership has always been there in culture - just read some of Adorno's 20th century tirades on fetishism. Or you could not, as it's a bygone era that started with vinyl in the early 1900s. Plus most of his writing is more drawn out than mine, and that's a major achievement!

Personally I don't (literally and figuratively) buy in to the vinyl fetish resurgence. I'm not fashionable and I never will or want to be. If I really liked the format I would transcend fashion to keep playing it when I want, but as it is over-sized sleeves and disinterested artwork seems the choice of hipster dogmatism instead of a heartfelt inside-industry (meaning punters, producers, art directors etc) choice to re-energise the LP format with big, expansive covers. Covers as with benchmarks like Pink Floyd's LPs that told a story and were quintessential to the listening experience.

It becomes vitalising to say that without the interest in physicality, vinyl wouldn't be resurfacing as much. Usual story there: most copy or media goes digital, more people crave physical. It would still always be here - like tapes and jungle, vinyl has never gone away. The difference remains how great a market share it now has - as reported, over 1 million record sales this year so far. But so what? As given most of these sales are for fragmentary releases, the potency of the figure, without reading the FT article, doesn't indicate a major achievement. This is because a lot of the sales are for singles/EPs, as opposed to the 60s & 70s precursory musical hallmark, the long-player.

Still, it's a plus one for the music industry, and maybe an ushering-in of less disposable marketing methods. Picture vinyl in 5 years: it'll probably go through another dip, falling out of favour through tension/release, accept/reject schizoid-ness of the mass public opinion. We may see even more lame promo videos of fetishisation personified: it's all about the bling, about the bling, drug trippin'. It's no coincedence vinyl is referred to by some as "the black crack"; let's just hope its marketers don't disappear up their own arses just yet.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

SubVersion Stop 230: In this thread we post tips to decrease apathy

In this thread we post tips to decrease apathy

This has been on my mind recently, because I have direct experience with lots of it: apathy towards doing anything at all.

I'm not talking "I'm pissed off, so I'm just gonna go smoke a blunt" type apathy. I'm talking everything that centres around general depression.

I don't wish to get involved in much chat about my own problems anymore as I believe it does more harm than good, but I will say this has been happening daily ever since I was deemed unable to work and got signed off. In figures, since May 2008.

I've had good times and bad times all the same, like anyone who lives life. But I'd like to know: how do you help remedy apathy towards doing stuff?

I'll start ...I have become taut to the tendency of taking a nap in the middle of the day. I find this helps give me purpose and focus when planning things to do.


Sunday, 3 August 2014

SubVersion Stop 229: Mick Buckingham (Foci's Left) - "Tender Thoughts" poem / lyrics

Tender Thoughts ~ Mick Buckingham

Tenderness feels like a lion's grip
Time ticks like a roar muted sharpish
Rickety realism in the face of smashed ribs
An underbelly, carriage for the evermore.

But when it's up
We're cushioned like a rug
Yes when it's up for you and me
I can waver it off like herbal tea
An incense with little potency.

Tender thoughts trip us up
They rest on lifeless momentum
The chaining of conservatism
A force sometimes too much to mention.
Until it's time to smash the horse's cart
Tender thoughts break us apart
A wino's marriage with his bottle
Mottled until the very last drop.

Care too little, tender thoughts are brittle
Care too great - time's shiny like nickel
Counterbalance the truth of soul with the social
And you're usually safe while the milkmen go docile

So tender thoughts may be cherished
But they also cause a lot of grief
The time's when we voice, act, or cling to addiction
An indication of what lies beneath.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

SubVersion Stop 228: Holykindof - Stay / Sea (Eilean Rec, 2014)

Holykindof – Stay / Sea (Eilean Rec, 2014)

A musical love letter from BJ Nilsen to Gavin Bryars, Holykindof's "Stay / Sea" touches base with music concrete – several whooshing reversed vinyl noises pervade the atmosphere; lo-fi drone – the entire three pieces encumber around a type of linear erosion; and mood aligned with lysergic pensiveness. Running to 40 minutes, the pace never feels laboured or forced toward a gear-shift. Yes, the atmosphere is rickety, thanks to the noisy-scratchy nature of the sound sourcing, but in general it's in third lever and never breaks a sweat, and doesn't cause you to perspirate.

The scratching is to an un-attuned ear disconcerting over time, whereby you need to have listened to enough other musics before listening to bypass its irregularity. It subsumes the languid cello playing stylishly and gives a welcome change to the landscape of otherwise 'regular' sound. In an age of wanton experimentation, where musicians continually gambit for a break from the ordinary, "Stay / Sea" is not oxymoronic of its title, being strong and steadfast like the waves of an estuary. It is rooted in traditional orthodoxy of instrumentation, yet contains an alien edge. This is due to its potent fixation quality of repeating chords. It is needed, in compositions that rely on the wealth of sublimative, subconscious mind-shaping harvest that pulsates from thought to action.

The shorter the track in this release, the less effective the results. The crop is always worthwhile, a melancholic cloaking device for the emotions. That dial alters in resonance every time you hear it. Like Bryars' "The Sinking Of The Titanic", "Nocturne In S Major" is ruthless in its intention and paints a sullen, purposeful backdrop to much-a-do-about-nothing periods. "Stay / Sea" turns in the covers of sleep like a coastguard watching the blue grass crash. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

SubVersion Stop 227: InfiniteSloth is: "Looking for repetitive drone-like compositions"

This thread was posted in the first week of June 2014 on Subvert Central - here's the link:

"Maybe sparse, but mostly a repetition of the same note or chord" Nic TVG, aka InfiniteSloth begins. It's an interesting subject this - there is an awful lot of drone about, but the trend in the last 5 years - 2009-2014,  has been to fragment structures of ambience into more abstract, yet paradoxically song-based compositions. Just look at how "And Their Refinement Of The Decline" from 2007, posted by me, by landmark artists Stars Of The Lid (Adam Wiltzie & Brian Mcbride) has become "a start" for this topic. As an expert in the ambient field I was humble enough to avoid including my own compositions, and also because they're not entirely drone-based. Yet artists all over have lost the holy grail of minimalism over time - just the other week for instance I was suggested to be "stretching ideas too thin" - I was changing stuff around quickly, not letting it time to ferment and develop potency. This pattern has scatter-gunned throughout the ambient, drone and contemporary classical mecca, and no one no longer stands for a specfic style of drone.

Drone being what constitutes ambience in all music, it's all in the feedback for starters. So I thought: "you want ultra minimal? Try some Paul Bradley then". Here's the link to one of the best minimal drone LPs out there, as recommended by Dave at Low Light Mixes:

Nic said he wanted stuff like this, so hopefully more contributions from far and wide will follow. :)

"If the first 50 seconds of Greg Haines - Snow Airport were looped for several minutes, but played by a human and not synthetically looped. That's what I'm on the hunt for."

Statto references lauded composers Eliane Radigue and Pauline Oliveros. "Naphta posted a video of Eliane Radigue on June 2nd (on Facebook), which was the first I had heard of her.

Eliane Radigue - French
Pauline Oliveros - American
Daphne Oram - British

...and all composing from the 50s on." states Nic. 

The post by cube references long-time industrialists Coil (Peter Christopherson passed away in 2010) with a video for the LP "Time Machines". I haven't heard this yet but I loved "Musik 2 Play In The Dark". He also posts one of his own tracks as ennui (I have a download of his "Mindstate Disposition").

The newest post just before publishing this leads the reader into finding out Nic's Another Timbre interest has yielded some repetitive drone fruits. Stay tuned (or dissonantly tuned) for more.