I thought as today is the actual third anniversary of this blog starting, I’d do something a little bit different to normal and write about a bunch of tunes I’ve particularly enjoyed since we got going. The first thing I discovered was that there have been a lot of tracks from the last three years. The second thing was making sense of it all was probably going to be a gateway to madness.
Regardless of whether or not I think the development of electronic music is beginning to slow down, the fact remains that the pace of it’s evolution remains stupefyingly brisk. No other form of music I can think of is so tied to changing tastes, advances in technology, or even simple bloody mindedness than electronica. It has always seemed on a mission to prove its previous incarnations wrong. It has always seemed determined to live in tomorrow. Making these choices, therefore, has been hard, and if I had to choose again tomorrow I expect every one would be different. Still, it is what it is and the only thing I’ve done is avoided those tracks I’ve previously selected as Tunes Of The Year. I’m also avoiding electro tracks for this one as I’m planning something along these line for that genre in the near future. Have at it.
Theo Parrish – 71st & Exchange Used To Be (Trilogy Tapes)
I often feel like a pariah when it comes to Theo Parrish. I’m happy enough to go along with the crowd when they talk about what a singular talent the man is, how captivating many of his productions are, and the way he seems to be one of the few people in the scene who comes across as a genuine musical force, but behind it all there has always been something about his productions I’ve never quite been in tune with, and have never really been able to fully see what everyone else does.
When it comes to this track though I’m more than happy to admit that I’m not always right. There is something special here, something that goes far beyond the electronica ghetto without ever losing sight of everything that led the tune to this point. it’s there in the vast sweep of orchestration which pitches it into a period of musical history that never really existed, and it’s there in all the unfolding drama and the way Parrish coaxes melodic energy from almost every single note and touch. Expansive yet tight. And although you fear a jazz flute solo might kick in somewhere near the middle to ruin everything, it remains utterly captivating.
Hauser/Quaid – Meli Gala (Rock And Roll Records)
Hauser/Quaid probably never made much of an impact anywhere, and this release on Rock And Roll Records, an outfit who themselves seem to have vanished into the aether, represents their sole release. What a shame. In truth the rest of the record never quite hit the same heights as this track; it’s blend of slightly techy-house grooves and more subtly dub moments already feels a little bit of-its-time, but nevertheless I enjoyed it. Meli Gala is different, and I still find myself listening to it a lot today. The first thing to say it that it’s cute, pushing past the more limited scope of the rest of the record to latch the succulent pout of the vocals to what I still think of as hypno-wonk. It ambles along, riding a distinctly wobbly and moody groove with no thought whatsoever for what you think about it, and occasionally getting a bit sulky in the process. It gets even better when it very quietly looses its shit about 5 minutes in and twists things into a weird-stepping, trip to inner space. One of those tracks which appears quite literally out of nowhere and leaves you looking over your shoulder for more. I wish there was.
John Heckle – Sun Of You (Mathematics)
Fact: John Heckle has become, very quietly, one of the most interesting and consistant producers in Britain today. His work, although heavily informed by an obvious love of classic house and techno (particularly Detroit), exists in a very different place from both the UK young team and the well-known techno veterans. Although he keeps the fiercer beats for his Head Front Panel side project, the music Heckle releases under his own name has long impressed in the way it unites head and body. Sun Of You always reminds me of Meat Beat Manifesto in their prime – an act who owed debts to hip hop, sampling culture and the whole mass of oddball sounds which grew in Britain after the acid house explosion. The difference here is that the track is far more focussed, even though it feels so loose that a dropping chunk of bass might shake it all to bits. I don’t know who the poet is rapping away over the top, but it ties the sunburst grooves of the music together with a thread of steal and meaning even as it recalls the mixing pot days of early 90s electronica. Harder and more insistent than it seems on first listening, its one of the truly special moments from the last few years of British music.
Special Request – Amnesia (XL Recordings)
For a disturbing amount of people, electronica’s recent and slightly suspicious desire to dig up its own past seems to stop and end with the huge mass of chunky and often dull disco tinged house records which have appeared all over the place. Disco is alright, but there are any other number of dormant genres which deserve as much attention. Paul Woolford’s usual sounds are about as far removed as you can get from the cult of the past, his trade mark being a form of house which has only a passing interest in the genre’s prehistory. With his Special Request project, however, Woolford brought us a triple pack of bangers which reached back through the dry ice of time to drag the ghosts of rave, hardcore and a peculiarly UK breed of house into the here and now before clothing them in far more modern togs and letting them loose on the unsuspecting public. There are many belters strewn across the Modern Warfare collection but I think Amnesia trumps the lot. I wish the full version was available on Youtube instead of this massively neutered Radio Edit, but it should still serve to whet appetites. Don’t let the headstrong, thumping breaks or the strident piano riff fool you, this is a tune of simple fragility which show how haunting the music can be even when things are flying. One of my go to favourites for a long while now. It thrills on every single listen.
Peverelist – Undulate (Livity Sound)
OK, it’s time for some controversy. I think the are have been more incredible records to come out of Bristol on a near weekly basis over the last couple of years than have come out of Chicago and Detroit combined. I mean it. Bristol, musically speaking, is a city which is going through a purple patch of such vividness we might need to invent a new colour to describe it. Pev can’t really be thought of as one of the city’s young team anymore. Along with Kowton he seems to have been around forever, having started off in the neighbourhood of dubstep before spreading his wings. Even now his music seems to encompass so many influences that there is little point in trying to tie it down to one particular genre. In that he shares much with many of his contemporaries, and seeing where the music will go next has become one of the real thrills in modern electronica. Undulate is simply a pallet cleanser, washing away the sour tastes of normal life and leaving you ready for more. The lazy vibes of the track energise in the same way that rain on a summer’s day does, evoking a sleepy melancholy and wistfulness that picks you up and deposits you far, far away. And when I read that sentence back I almost wonder why I always play it at plus 8. Serenity with a half-beat. Timeless.