Nail – Cassiopeia
I’m very much enjoying this right now so thought I’d share, it’s been a while I know. From when trance was still good, this track comes from 1993’s Strictly 4 Groovers, an LP from rave favourites the legendary DiY soundsystem crew.
It’s a slow builder, starting off with some trancey arpeggiated synths, the lush bassline comes in after a minute or so, the spacey atmosphere grows with hints of cymbal until the beat finally arrives three minutes in. even then it’s another minute until the handclaps (my favourite) hit and we’re into full-on gorgeous ambient trance.
Try it, you just might like it.
And if you’re unfamiliar with DiY then there are worse places you could start than the seminal DiY Jack set from 1992’s Castlemoreton festival – check the link below to download the whole set.
Morrissey – Margaret On The Guillotine
I think it’s fair to say that few musicians are as polarising as ex-Smiths lead singer and long time soloist Morrissey. There seems to be relatively little middle ground – people either love the guy or think he is a piece of shit. This is from his first solo LP “Viva Hate”, released in 1988 when Margaret Thatcher was still Prime Minister, and really sums up what a substantial part of the British population felt at the time. And probably still do. It’s not a great song, but then I get the feeling it wasn’t meant to be.
- Interesting 25-year retrospective :: on "Viva Hate" at The Quietus
- Original vinyl release :: at Discogs - something disconcerting about the idea of Morrissey on CD...
Good strong heartfelt a cappella over Hudson Mohawke’s “Higher Ground”. What’s not to like?
Play loud and get angry as nothing they’re angry about has improved since they released it in 99.
Billy Bragg – Richard
Following recent electronic explorations it’s Back to Basics with perhaps the best songwriter of the 1980s. Billy Bragg appeared in 1983 with the extraordinarily titled mini-LP Life’s A Riot With Spy vs Spy on ex-Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner’s Utility records, repackaged with second album Brewing Up with Billy Bragg on the soon-to-be-ironically titled Back To Basics a couple of years later, in which form it remains available. Soon to be ironic because Bragg was – and is – partial to a left-wing song; whereas the phrase “Back To Basics” was taken up in the early 1990s by the UK’s Conservative Prime Minister John Major, with farcical results.
The first two Bragg albums feature just voice and electric guitar – with songs recorded just as he played them in his one-man live set of the time. With the sound stripped down that far, everything hinges on whether the songs are any good, and fortunately Billy had some of the best ones going: pretty much everything on the debut is a classic – “The Milkman Of Human Kindness”, “A New England” (covered soon after by Kirsty MacColl) and “The Man In the Iron Mask”. The next album went ever better IMHO with songs like “It Says Here” (an attack on the Murdoch-dominated right-wing UK press), “Love Gets Dangerous”, “From a Vauxhall Velox” and “This Guitar Says Sorry”.
So why “Richard”? Mainly because the skeleton found in a Leicester car park has been identified fairly conclusively as that of the infamous King Richard III of England, whose death brought to an end the Wars of the Roses and led to the formation of the Tudor dynasty. Richard was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, but outrageously, historians never realised before that the battle was fought in a car park. But now we know better.
- Buy "Life's A Riot With Spy vs Spy" :: excellently available in 2-CD remastered form from the Billy Bragg website
Altus- Winter Embrace II (excerpt)
The second in what looks like being a rather short series of winter-themed posts, given that the current cold snap has ended (at least where I am). That says, if February is a cold one, there could be many more instalments…
Altus is a guy called Mike Carss based on Ottawa, Canada, who has been making ambient albums for just over 10 years now. Mike has around 35 releases available for free download in either MP3 or lossless FLAC format from his website. This is extremely generous, given that the one album I’ve downloaded so far (this one) is very good indeed… I was put in mind of a more slowed-down, glacial version of Global Communications’ mid-90s effort 76:14, which is high praise indeed. The whole album is one 61-minute track, which I’ve made a 12 minute excerpt from, just to give you a taster. Mellow without being at all boring, and just the thing for those Winter Sunday evenings. I’m downloading some other Altus releases right now and I expect to be featuring more stuff from the increasingly popular free-to-download ‘netlabel’ phenomenon on Dilated Choonz as this year progresses.
- Download "Winter Embrace II" :: at the Altus website (free of charge, MP3 or FLAC!)
Pete Namlook – Season’s Greetings – Winter
I had an idea for a series of “theme” posts of music inspired by winter and coldness: but of course due to my usual slackness I didn’t manage to get the first post out the door until the present UK cold snap was almost over. However, better (almost) late than never, so here we are: another tribute to the recently deceased Pete Namlook, here is an excerpt from one of the four “Season’s Greetings” pieces he released as full-length CDs in 1994/95. The pieces were then edited down into extracts of 15-20 minutes each for a single “Four Seasons” CD a little while later.
The idea of a musical suite based around the seasons is, of course, as old as the hills: Vivaldi for example, and probably a lot of examples before that too. But Namlook makes the concept his own here. An icy sound and yet strangely comforting.
This is hosted externally because the file was too big to fit on the Dilated Choonz website so I don’t think you’ll be able to preview it – sorry about that.
- Buy "The Four Seasons" from iTunes ::
- Buy "The Four Seasons collection" :: The full length versions of all 4 pieces on high-bitrate MP3 - long since sold out but available 2nd hand at Discogs
David Bowie and the Lower Third – Can’t Help Thinking About Me
As a long-term David Bowie fan, the last few years have seen pretty lean pickings. Bowie had a hectic schedule in the early 2000s, with two pretty good albums in quick succession – Heathen and Reality, and a lot of touring. That era came to an end after he suffered a heart attack backstage after a gig in 2004, and since then he’s hardly been seen in public.
So it was a pleasant surprise, to say the least, when I heard that Bowie had released a new single, “Where Are We Now?” It’s a pleasant enough downtempo listen, very much in the mould of his 1999 LP “hours…”, but I wanted to take you back almost 50 years to Bowie’s first ever solo release under the Bowie moniker (previous to that he was recording under his real name David Jones but was suffering confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees). For this release, inexplicably, he’s backed by “The Lower Third” – what kind of a name for a backing group is that? Sounds like a school class.
“Can’t Help Thinking About Me” is probably the best 1960s single not to become a hit, although there is stiff competition from the High Numbers (aka The Who)’s debut single “I’m The Face”. Classic mid-60s pop and very economical with it, clocking in at under 2-and-a-half minutes. He even namechecks himself, ferchrissakes… “my girl calls my name… Hi Dave!” and also “Question Time” is mentioned, 13 years before the programme actually started on the BBC. This is a bloody time traveller record, and a stunning debut. Sadly Bowie abandoned the mid-60s pop-mod sound soon afterwards, although he continued to be informed by the mid-60s all through the 70s (most obviously on Pin Ups, although arguably the whole Ziggy Stardust thing was just mid-60s beat group rock with the guitars turned up well loud. But then all the best early 70s glamrockers were in that zone (Bolan, Slade, etc.)
Not sure if this is currently available on CD but it’s pretty easy to get 2nd hand or with a Spotify search. My copy came with one of those free CDs that you get with Mojo magazine – this one was called “Maximum ‘65” and was just about the best CD that Mojo has ever put out, worth several times the cover price of the mag in my book. Probably appearing at a charity shop near you as we speak.
More unusual Bowie gems and related stuff over the next few weeks. Dust off the pinstripe suits…
- 2nd hand at Discogs :: is your best bet for a hard copy of this - the "1966" compilation seems most reasonable, although "I Dig Everything - the 1966 Pye Singles" is another option
Paris – Religion
2012 saw far too many great musicians kick the bucket, and one of those was ex-Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Bob Welch. Welch
held Mac together between its two most commercial periods – the late-60s blues-rock phase with Peter Green and the late-70s mega-successful California phase with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. He was on 5 Mac LPs between 1971 and 1974 but then left because he felt the group wasn’t getting anywhere and he wanted to try something with a heavier sound – and promptly formed the hard-rock trio Paris with bassist Glenn Cornick (an early member of Jethro Tull) and drummer Thom Mooney.
Paris’s eponymous 1975 debut LP owes a huge debt chucks out the soft-rock stylings that Welch had spent 4 years cultivating with the Mac and instead presents a studio-slick approximation of the Led Zeppelin sound, although with less raucous vocals. It’s an all-time classic, which was not well received by the Rolling Stone Record Guide (1979 edition):
“Paris was raucous, monotonous heavy metal… self-righteous songs and noisy playing.”
But remember that this was the same publication that gave the first 4 AC/DC albums zero out of 5 stars and you’ll realise just how wildly off-beam these guys were.
Paris sadly only lasted 2 albums (and their 2nd LP, the bizarrely titled Big Towne, 2061 was a lot less heavy than the debut, although still good) but at their best they were up there with Zeppelin, Sabbath, The Groundhogs and UFO as fine practitioners of 70s metal. Pass the Flying V! And RIP Bob Welch – a sadly missed rocker.
- Brilliantly available :: on 24-bit digital remaster for the first time, as befits an album of this quality
- Nice tribute article ::
Pete Namlook and David Moufang – Polar Melt
On the continuing Space: 1999 here is a nice ambient track with some samples from the show (the episode “Earthbound”, if I’m not mistaken) which also serves as a fitting tribute to ambient music maestro Pete Namlook, who died last November. A lot of people know Namlook’s v early work – Silence, Air, the Dreamfish collaboration with Mixmaster Morris and From Within with Ritchie Hawtin – but often don’t realise that after those 1993-4 high points, Namlook carried out making good stuff for another twenty years! This track is from 2010 and was on the 19th of 23 collaboration albums between Namlook and David Moufang (who produced LPs under the name Deep Space Network in the 1990s). Including solo and collaborative projects I would be surprised if Namlook produced less than three hundred LPs in his career and it may be substantially more than that. Anyway, very sad to see one of the true greats leaving us at only 52 years of age.
- Available from Namlook's Fax records site :: as digital download or double pack DTS 5.1 surround DVD and stereo CD
- Nice tribute :: from Control Voltage blog
Hal Berstram – Spaced: 1998
From a fictional 1999 to the real 1998 (at least I think it was 1998…) I’ve been playing all my old cassettes into the computer and came across this piece which I made and then promptly forgot about. The equipment list was (I think) a Yamaha DX7 and a Zoom effects unit, multitracked using Cakewalk on my old PC. It’s a bit formless but illustrates some of the sounds that the DX7 was capable of quite well I think – a real travesty that this synth became known for electric piano and marimba imitations in the mid-1980s. I’m particularly pleased with the strange burbly sound that comes along at about 8:13 – sounding very similar to the Synthi AKS loop on Fripp and Eno’s “Swastika Girls”. I had no idea the DX7 was capable of such a weird sound, and still can’t quite work out how I did it, 15 years later. Oh well…
Barry Gray – Ring Around the Moon: The Captives of Triton/Moonwalk
Greetings to any aliens who have stumbled onto this site thinking it’s the 2013 equivalent of the test card: on this first day of the year I bring you a tribute to the great TV programme-maker Gerry Anderson, who died on Boxing Day last year. Anderson was probably best known for his 1960s puppet-based sci-fi shows such as Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5 and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. All were commercial and critical successes, but for me Anderson’s best work came in the 1970s with UFO and Space: 1999.
Space: 1999 was a programme about a group of scientists living on the moon, which has become a nuclear waste dump. On September 9, 1999 a huge explosion of nuclear waste sends the moon hurtling out of Earth’s orbit into interstellar space. If you can look past the scientific prepostrousness of the premise you’ll find probably the best non-BBC TV sci-fi series of the 1970s. OK, that sounds like damning with faint praise, but it’s a good ‘un.
This track is from the soundtrack to series 1 of Space: 1999 and was scored by TV music veteran Barry Gray. It’s not a bad piece but is immeasurably better when accompanied with the visuals from the TV episode (see here): the main organ and wah-guitar theme is accompanied by possibly the most ludicrous TV “moonwalk” sequence of all time. It has me in hysterics every time I watch it! Space: 1999 is often ludicrous (and even more so in Season 2, which is a different furry monster entirely) but never did they get it as right as this again.
This is blast-off for me in 2013 as I attempt to counter the inactivity of the blog by posting a track every day for 365 days. Insanity or just blind ambition? You decide…
- Space: 1999 Season 1 soundtrack :: on CD at Discogs (several years out of print - can get pricey)
- Space: 1999 Season 1 Blu-ray ::
Michelle Amador – Because Of You (Yoruba Soul Mix)
This is a track that has cropped up for me a couple of times recently – I first heard it about 3 weeks ago on the radio (probably on Flex FM I think) and then again yesterday when I was pointed to an old Rahaan Mix.
Both times it completely grabbed my attention, it’s got a really sleazy, hypnotic groove and this amazing vocal, reminiscent of Nicolette’s voice but with a quality all of it’s own.
So I tried Googling parts of the lyrics to find out what the record is – this works for most songs these days (well at least the ones I’ve wanted to find out about), but there’s not a single hit for this. Next I tried the good old-fashioned way of asking someone who might know – our own Kevvy K – but he didn’t. He did, however, suggest trying Shazam (just call 2580 from your mobile phone, pop pickers) which I’ve not done before. At 50p a go it seems pretty expensive to my innate frugality, but what the hell I gave it a whirl and second time lucky it came up with the goods (it failed the first time but told me to turn it up very loud and try again!).
Turns out it’s from way back in 2007 so sorry if it’s old news to you, it still sounds completely fresh to me, I’ve had it on four times this morning already!
It’s pretty scrappy here and there, but I finally got the mixer fixed- and uploaded a 2 hour set to soundcloud
Blawan – “Getting Me Down”
###THE GRAND FINALE!!!###
This track is easily the stand-out floor-killer from 2011. I first heard it on Blawan’s mix on FACT magazine- which is a superb and often absurdly deep acid/house workout, linked below- and when this track drops at 26’55” it completely blows up!
Love everything about this track- the grinding muted bass growl, the plucky percussion, and the completely mutated mashing of the original Brandy vocal- even that it was only available as a limited pressing single sided 12” (and I’ve got one!)
Like any self-respecting Yorkshireman Blawan is no one trick pony and isnt tied down to any one style- his releases on Hessle Audio and good old R&S records mark Jamie Roberts out as a man to watch (or listen to, anyway).
Awesome stuff, and no other tune came close to topping it in 2011.
and just for jolly, here’s the original track:
dBridge – “Inner Disbelief”
I know the suspense must be killing our listeners (both of them), so time I brought this pitifully late list of ten tunes that only have anything to do with 2011 because of my own out of whack listening habits, to a close.
At number 2, a sublime piece of drum n bass from prolific and multi-talented producer- and exit records officianado Darren White aka dBridge. A long time producer, dBridge was one of the three original members of Bad Company back in the mid/late nineties, and before that, part of the production crew on Lennie De Ice’s we are ie. So he goes waaaay back.
This track- which was released on Exit Records in Dec 2009- features dBridge on all aspects of the track- including lyrics and vocals. It’s built for the floor, but it’s got a broad streak of the blues running through it. As you’d expect from a track called inner disbelief. As Mr White says:
“The thing about my lyrics is that they do generally start off quite bleak, but I try to resolve them in some ways. As much as I do write about how much of a prick I am, I do want things to be better; there is hope.”
Not a lot of people know…
Darren’s brother is Steve White aka Steve Spacek, of Spacek Sound System fame.
We interrupt my top 10 of 2011, to bring you this video of spunky young chap Baard Kolstad, who has dragged his entire drum kit on the back of his go kart to busk his crazy stuff in front of a small crowd and some unbelievably oblivious-looking passers by- come on! The guy is like a one man samba band!
“the best drummer in Norway”- and as far as I know, the entire Nordic region
Ghost Poet – “Survive it”
Just a beautiful track this, from South London (Tooting Bec!) lad Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Ghost Poet.
If you havent got his LP peanut butter blues and melancholy jam, then you’re missing out- like Ghost Poet missed out on the Mercury Prize in 2011. Shoulda been his…
Cool video too:
Scottie B – “I’m Ill”
This is from 2008, but Scottie B is from waaaay back. This track is a BMore version on Lil Wayne’s a milli, from Scottie’s Mr International EP and it’s proper lairy.
There’s a great interview on auralstates about how they started out coming up with the BMore club sound, and how they were influenced by the UK hip house and rave scene in the early 90’s. They both worked in record stores in Baltimore and would get UK stuff on import:
SB- Anyway the records from the UK were coming. They were hip house, and we were playing the instrumentals. Eventually we started making records just like the instrumentals. Those were the tablets for what we ended up doing. We mostly used different samples, but they used the Lynn Collins too. They relied on sampling notes from famous records, and we sampled words from hip-hop records. Instead of making the track a minute long and then crazy, which is what they started doing, we made the whole three or four minutes work for what we needed.
SC- It’s exactly the same way hip hop started, when you take into consideration we were playing the breaks of these imported records. It was only hot for about 20 seconds, but that drum pattern in that particular break is what started the whole thing. It was all about the drums. These UK records would start with drums, and that would be hot to us. Then is would get into the rave part, which was the shit that didn’t work for us. All those hoover synths.
SB- In fact, we used to take Hoovers and Spray Cans and only play the drums in the beginning.
So that’s the beats sorted…
As for the rhymes, apart from the big bass thump, Miami Bass influenced downbeat thing, I don’t really get the whole dirty south thing. But then I found out about Sizzurp (or “that Purple Drank”) and it kind of made a bit more sense:
Sizzurp original formula:
Promethazine w/Codeine syrup
Any fruit flavored soda
A jolly rancher
Put it all in a styrofoam cup and enjoy
Reckon that would you drawl and want to listen to some slowed-down bass-heavy shit!
- sizzurp recipes... ::
- great interview with Scottie and Shawn from Unruly records ::
- get mr international at juno ::
Active Minds – Hobsons Choice (Boys Mix)
This one definitely not from 2011- but thanks to the present day interest in bass music, UK Garage has enjoyed a bit of a revival of late.
I was reminded of this belter from 1998 (holy moly- that’s 14 years ago!) by 4tet’s very fine Fabric mix, where it features and stands proud among present day output.
Recorded by west London boy (quite liderally- he was a mere 17 at the time) Jess Jackson and put out on a limited edition 500 copy white label. Proper bit of 2-step/reese bass toughness.
He’s now in Los Angeles and looks to be working with Peter Andre. How the world turns…
Addison Groove – footcrab
Ok- so back to 2010 (even late 2009) for this release, but being as I dont get out too often these days, it didnt reach me until 2011.
Tony Williams- aka Headhunter and Addison Groove- making a massive contribution to the “post-dubstep” ouevre by taking on the influence of Chicago Juke to create this massive snapping killer tune about crabs that like to nip your toes, and make you dance like this:
Beautiful 808 drums, chic samples and layering make this tune simultaneously a deep, soulful groove and a hyped, pounding, jump-up hype anthem.
My second slab of vinyl of the year…