I like that at some point my friends accepted that pointing my iphone at them on a regular basis is just something that occurs.
November: featuring a lot of work, a bit more running, and a lot more fun than those two stanzas suggest. And finally, perhaps an end to the reign of Miley Cyrus-related paraphernalia as Helena, my housemate’s, great birthday party of 2013 came to a close.
October was filled with great things. It made me really happy. Logically enough this 60 second snapshot does too.
Featuring: Ransom notes. Risk document rage. Too much Miley Cyrus. And a tell-tale that we’re getting old: discussing Hollandaise sauce on a Friday night.
Oh it’s dark and the weather is bad. And I am yet to work out how to cycle in a raincoat without endlessly overheating. Such is Autumn.
Here are 13 things I’ve been listening to a lot this month. All are good. Let’s start with something joyous.
I had my head under some sort of rock when this stuff came out. Let’s make up for lost time.
African basement bar beats with a clean Parisian vibe, says the internet. Fun malarkey for grey weather, I say. Jolly cover art makes me happy.
Tasseomancy’s new single is full of more steel pan sounds than ever. The sisters that make up Tasseomancy are the backup singers for Austra, who I continue to be exited about. The combination of these two facts is lovely.
This song is delicious.
The cover of Rainer‘s new single is a picture of an ass. Jonathan is very pleased with how his new 7″ sounds and has been instagramming it. “Yeah, and you read playboy for the articles” someone said. In this case, I think it might be a bit of both.
Girls is the single with the ass cover. Satin is a separate single I’m really liking at the moment. They’re doing a couple of small, lovely sounding London gigs at the moment. Go see them in some sexy tiny venues.
4. Paper Tiger
Sunny clappy stuff. Just right for the best of central London’s grey weather. I’m writing this at 7:30pm. It’s dark. Let’s all listen to Paper Tiger and bop.
5. Erik Enocksson
I have a playlist called floating on lakes. Admittedly in my average day, very little of this takes place. Nevertheless, it is built for moments in which lying in a rowing boat, floating around on a large mass of water seems appealing. This is usually done in the bath and involves a great deal of pretending.
These songs take me back to a lake in the woods opposite the house I grew up in. There are always some ducks waddling around the lake. And in the middle there is a tiny island with absurdly tall trees shooting up from it. It is prime wellington boot wading territory and feels miles from anywhere. Woods should be mandatory everywhere.
This track tops this wankily-titled playlist at the moment. It’s made by a Swedish chap with a penchant for recording albums live in woods and making songs that sound this good with so little to them.
6. Virginia Wing
In my head I have been referring to this as Virginia Wang for ages, whilst gives me no end of childish delight. It’s not though.
I’ve been listening to Offshore recently. It is sad to find out about great work only after a musician’s died and realise that what you’re listening to is locked in the past. It’s also a reminder of how being able to leave music as a legacy is amazing.
For someone that writes on the internet for a living, I could sure spend a lot of time talking about the importance of making ‘real’ things. One day my work, deep in the folds of the web won’t exist. But with things like say, music, books or architecture, all of them let you feel like you’re walking around someone’s head a little. And you’ll always be able to do that.
Pacer, the first single from the EP, is so very good. Such a long, super track that just builds perfectly. “Part of his talent was to make difficult things look easy,” say the not particularly critical critics.
Braids are reminiscent of Blue Hawaii. Principally because their singer, Raph, is also the vocal half of Blue Hawaii. But there are enough similarities between the two groups’ style to draw the easy comparison without knowing this. The same gentle, ethereal vocals just make it quicker to make the connection.
Luckily, the two bands are different enough that you’re never left listening to one album feeling it’s simply a B-Side of the other. The “tropical-pop with love ache melodies and experimental club rhythms” of Blue Hawaii this is not. Braids are little calmer, cooler, more restrained. They play XOYO in December.
Had an interesting month with this suspiciously talented sound man recently. I now understand why people cherish The Room with such odd excitement and have never had so much fun throwing plastic spoons at a cinema screen.
An album he brought out a couple of years ago is easily worth a listen.
11. Oneohtrix Point Never
This month’s serving of poorly classified and suspiciously upbeat ‘ambient drone’ is Oneohtrix point never. Find the new album, R Plus Seven, up on Spotify. I love Americans. It’s like diving into an Amazonian rainforest made of vintage synths.
Pitchfork delights in telling us that the jungle, rain-esque sounds bring to mind “a then-exotic turn-of-the-80s sound of the Fairlight synthesizer, an early sampling device.” I don’t know what this is, but if I’m ever asked I will lie through my teeth and shout that R Plus Seven is indeed perfect maths too, like a confused Orwellian character on a mission to impress their more musically inclined friends.
12. Us Baby Bear Bones
My friend Bob takes photos. Of living in Brighton, one of the things I miss is going to gigs with him. Not just because he has a splendid name or because he takes lovely photos, even whilst adamantly cursing the ceiling for a venue’s choice in red lighting.
Brighton has a bunch of awesome little venues and lots of splendid artists have played in them at the start of their careers before graduating to larger and grander locations. I have nice memories of Beth Jeans Houghton, Thomas Truax and Toro Y Moi playing in the city. And of course, Mr Scruff, who somehow seemed to never not be playing. It’s left me with a fondness for the intimacy of Brighton bands.
And so, this month’s slew of electronic dreamy pop stuff comes from Brighton’s Us Baby Bear Bones, from my friend Bob.
13. Ghost Loft
Kitsune Maison released their 15th complication with assorted trendy songs on it last week. As part of their word of mouth media #buzz shindig, they asked a few of the bands that graced this year’s list to put together a playlist each. Chela put together a wonderful playlist that I’ve been listening to today. Whilst a lot of the selections shot me back to days during university listening to Radiohead and Pixies, it also put me onto this song by Ghost Loft, which sounds nothing like either of those two.
“I’m just very, very arrogant and very stubborn,”
says the Olympic athlete casually.
Nike are doing a bunch of cool stuff at their futuristic East London sneaker house 1948 this week. Last night, I went down to a talk with Olympic 800m runner Andrew Osagie.
The guy runs 800m in 1:43. I don’t know what I expected, but I spent half the talk staring at his calves thinking “mine look sweet f-all like that,” whilst wearing the face of some sort of excited GP. All of the lean. All of the intense runner muscles.
There was a lot of chat about barefoot running. It was Feel London, all in aid of the skinniest soled shoe Nike now make (so there’s your connection). I asked one wholly unrelated question about head games and running.
If a run is 60% mental and 40% about your body, I asked, what got his head ready to run? – whether he had any pre-race head games or traditions.
“Not really. I’ve always been stubborn. I’d hate losing, even as a kid. That mental makeup has always been there. The training is what I can work on but my mental side has always been there. Saying that, around the hotel I walk around just in socks because I like feeling comfortable like I’m in my own house.”
Which I rather liked. And because the idea of athletes plodding round a hotel in socks when they’re away from home is just rather sweet.
One month. In video. In 60 seconds.
In which a trip to Amsterdam warrants lots of Nike shoes, birthdays occur, Ross returns from Bolivia, and Husam defines crunking.
There are twelve of these. But they’re all amazing and worth the time of your ears.
1. Summer Camp
My dreamygirlpop playlist* has exploded in the last month. As Summer Camp launched their second album and the Guardian’s comments section exploded with furious Peruvian wooly-jumper-wearing trendy types debating how their sound had changed, I suddenly got into Summer Camp’s first album more than ever. In related news, my housemate has just returned from Bolivia with an alpaca jumper for me at the weekend. 2013 will be the year of dancing around in layers of knitwear, steaming.
Khushi is the lead singer from Strong Asian Mothers, who I’ve previously been excited about. He plays something very special and different to the band’s solo sound. He has an amazing voice and these songs are just great. He’s playing a single launch very soon. Go if you can. I’m fast reconsidering Hoxton Bar’s merits as a venue.
I really love this. I don’t really know much about Austra beyond the fact they had an album out last year and this one is new. Great facts. Either way, a couple of listens was enough to get me buying tickets to their November gig.
4. Mariam the Believer
Anika in London is one of my favourite folky music bloggers.
She makes things with love. She’s run gigs with For Folk’s Sake with homemade sets, hand-drawn posters and cakes for sale at the side (Darwin Deez was a very fun gig). When Bandstand Busking took over a couple of London’s bandstands to hold some seriously intimate gigs, the vibe was beautiful and revered (even via recordings). And her hand-drawn bits and bobs are just special (e.g. her music video which introduced me to the very splendid Tristram).
It’s all totally unpretentious and is put together in such caring, homemade and enthusiastic way. Reading her blog or going to a gig takes you to the centre of a really enthusiastic music community. Things as they should be. She’s now, unsurprisingly, snagged what’s pretty much her dream job at Bella Union.
Mariam the Believer is one perfect example of a beautiful recommendation.
Landshapes are super. Choosing between Mariam and Landshapes’, who inconveniently both have gigs in London on the same day, is tough. (I voted Landshapes, only because I saw their gig first.)
Hey Love. Sheer poppy awesomeness. Strangely endearing video.
7. Tim Hecker
Not one to get into based on a single song listen, but Tim Hecker is special. Forced to miss a super-sounding night he played in a pitch black church in Hackney last week, I consoled myself by pretending that playing it at home in the dark through nice speakers was just as good. Don’t tell me otherwise. Here’s my short ode to Mr Hecker, and below is his full album.
8. Emiliana Torrini
This is one of my friend Laura’s suggestions.
Her recommendations always make me realise how little of late 80s and early 90s music I know. A world of sound I have totally missed, still waiting to be discovered. Full of deep, hazy reverb guitars and almost grungy noise, her playlists remind me that I’m missing a bunch of music 101s that I wonder if I’ll ever truly love in the same way that so many do. For starters: Sonic Youth. Perhaps one day, that’ll click into place.
Emiliana Torrini really caught me though. This song reminds me, for beats rather than voice, a little of Kate Bush. The entire album ‘Toucan’ is super.
9. First Aid Kit
My friend Jamie, who I have always appreciated for excellent music taste, is responsible for showing me there’s something good in pretty much every genre.
He introduced me to:
Led Zeppelin. Wu Tang. Hendrix. Björk. Amon Tobin. The Polyphonic Spree. Portishead. The Mars Volta. Cat Stevens. Anthony & the Johnsons. Aphex Twin. Pink Floyd. Mogwai. Early Faithless. Spank Rock. Mr Bungle.
And so, when he mentioned that First Aid Kit was one of the only bands of the entire year that had caught his ear, I chose to ignore him.
It’s no surprise that I finally returned to First Aid Kit after a proper listen and came away really impressed.
“Never be ashamed of music” said a wise man. Well, a man. And so with that, on to Drake.
In his latest album Drake imagines a world in which he’s “Rich enough that I don’t have to tell them that I’m rich.” Given that some of his best lines concern some subtle mentions of an arm full of Blancpains and his 25 million stash, I like to imagine a future fourth album will be filled with philosophical ponderings, musings about animal welfare, and some details on how to boil jam correctly.
It also notably marks a soiree into acting as Drake takes on the role of mean 80s gangster in his latest video. Sublime performance.
Saw these guys supporting Cayacus last month. They’re lovely, light, and potentially a bit forgettable (though I don’t enjoy writing that). They’re really enjoyable nonetheless.
12. Pure Bathing Culture.
I’d just finished this list when I stumbled across Pure Bathing Culture. This track had me greedily devouring them with the magic impatience of hearing a brilliant new track for the first time.
* Alas, Dreamygirlpop playlist is a real thing.
Tim Hecker took the stage last week in a tiny church in Hackney. Pitch black, he turned off the lights and played a special set.
Let’s quickly talk about Tim Hecker.
“‘Ambient’ is a lazy term, but serves as a tool of recognition.”
There is controversy and smuggery around the web when describing Mr Hecker. Especially when it comes to his much-heralded Ravedeath 1972 album.
For a reference to what’s playing in the above track: Hecker set up temporary one-day studio in a church in Reykjavik, Iceland, and recorded a groaning pipe organ to make up the basis on the album’s sound. There’s a lot layered on top, but the echoing, empty feeling of vastness never leaves.
Ravedeath 1972, in being quite so unusual, forces music journalists to enjoy outdoing each other linguistically, and either: A) become incredibly careful about how they talk about Hecker’s sounds, become perfectionists, utilising the best of their skills. Or B) alternatively, enter into some serious word-wankery.
Hecker pits noises against one another in such a way that creates a constant push and pull between discord and beauty. It’s a bit like William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops, but instead of music aging over time, this is far more combative– like these songs are being attacked from the inside out.” – Pitchfork
I find that music being attacked from the inside-out is fast becoming one of my favourite genres. It is also said that “his music is not easy to get into.”
I’m not going to do a hack job of describing music and why a light-less church filled with Ravedeath 1972 is so perfect. True, Hecker is not pretty nor is it tranquil. It’s consuming; often less music and more just an overwhelm of sound. Partly, I think if everyone had a pitch black church at their disposal to pop into and have a listen to him from, then he would be incredibly easy to get into.
This brings me to two points.
1. I had tickets to this gig last week and couldn’t make it. I was a bit sad.
2. Let’s segue smoothly to talking about a really awesome sound + light installation happening in the next four days.
There is a little church in East London that sits “trapped” in the centre of a dual carriage way. It’s been weathered, ravaged, and bombed during its 700 year life. It now lives surrounded by cars whizzing past outside it. It’s a noisy mess on the outside and a different, silent empty world on the inside.
Parallel Relay take weird spaces in London and put weird sound and light installations in them. This month, the church is one.
The team are putting on Sequence, which sounds akin to the overwhelming, beautiful and totally odd vibe of Hecker’s Hackney church. And not just because they’ve both got crosses on the top:
Sound artist Esther Ainsworth and light artist Kirsty Dixon considered the conflict between the overwhelming noise and stress of the outside road and the serenity and contemplative atmosphere from within the safe walls of the church. Taking light and sound from the location, they manipulated and relayed them within the building. [Think] evolving, immersive, live loops of church organs, and improvised performances. – le cool London
Everyone should go immediately. It lasts for four days. You’ve got from September 26-29. Read it on le cool. Go go go.
“Snapchat had its hype. I went through that snapchat phase.”
Jamal Edwards, SBTV YouTube prodigy, came in today to declare the death of Snapchat, amongst other things. The 2013 DrawSomething comes to the end of its life. I don’t know how to explain this to my housemate who’s just upgraded from a Blackberry. Or to the many people enjoying featuring the topic in misleading blog headlines.
August was full of lots of good things. Including an unsatisfactory cactus, investigations in the wilderness, repetitions of Frank Zappa, and a number of strange noises.
These guys played at a little place in Finsbury Park a week or two ago. I’ve been playing them on and off, and reminiscing about some lovely moments of super good stage presence. Give me animated singers waving drumsticks around and disappearing into their music and I’m an easy fan. Lovely stuff live.
I have missed super small gigs quite a lot. It brought up lots of find memories of little Brighton gigs. More of these, I think.