I have been freshly tagged in a meme by Chris. It’s a seven songs meme. Here are the instructions:
“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.“
First of all, I need to get this pedantry out of the way. If it doesn’t have words, it isn’t a song. Now on to my seven songs and / or other pieces of music.
I’ve placed this ‘below the fold’ because I’ve embedded YouTube videos and Bleep audio. Remember with the Bleep audio you need to press play again after it fades out every 30 seconds.
Portishead — The Rip
As with Chris, Portishead’s Third is, for me, the album of the year so far. Eleven years on from their last album, it was all set up to be a massive disappointment. But Third has turned out to be a real treat. It is a solid progression on the Portishead sound (without all the now-clichéd-sounding scratching) with a darker, more electronic feel in general.
My favourite track is ‘The Rip’. When I first heard it I thought, this sounds like a Radiohead song. It sounds particularly like ‘Arpeggi/Weird Fishes’ from Radiohead’s last album, with those guitar-based arpeggios. Sure enough, they have covered it. Anyway, ‘The Rip’ is just a beautiful song that builds up really nicely and is my favourite song from the album.
The Focus Group — Hey Let Loose Your Love
The Ghost Box record label has been my discovery of the summer. In fact, I am kicking myself for overlooking it in the first place, because I was well aware of its existence but I just never investigated it. But a recent edition of Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone podcast contained a Ghost Box showcase and I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.
The label has a strong identity — both visual and audio — that is a slightly off take on nostalgia. The genre of electronic music is known as ‘hauntology‘ or ‘memoradelia’ (I think I prefer the latter, although the former seems to be more common). Think about the skewed, hazy nostalgia of Boards of Canada — deteriorated cassettes, faded photographs and so on — or Look Around You without the comedy and you will be getting there.
The Focus Group is a project of Julian House, famous for doing the artwork for Broadcast and Stereolab (he also co-runs and does all of the artwork for the Ghost Box label). His music has the same 1960s-influenced collage feel to it. This track is the title track and centrepiece of the Hey Let Loose Your Love mini-album. It’s the only release of The Focus Group that I have got my hands on so far, but I know I need to get more.
The Advisory Circle — Frozen Ponds PIF
The other Ghost Box artist I’ve checked out so far is The Advisory Circle (who may be better known for his releases as King of Woolworths on Lo Recordings). The world of The Advisory Circle is a journey into a past dystopia where everyone is told what to do by the government through media such as public information films. The music also tinkers with ideas to do with television idents (a subject close to my heart as long-time readers will know) and suchlike.
I really like the idea of making music inspired by public information films. PIFs are strange things that have to perform two conflicting roles — telling you about the dangers in the world while simultaneously assuring you that everything is safe because the government is looking after you. It fits in neatly with the Ghost Box aesthetic of dark, uneasy nostalgia.
‘Frozen Ponds PIF’ is not necessarily representative of The Advisory Circle’s output. It’s the only track that really fully recreates a PIF as it might sound in real life (although even this track is not entirely faithful, coming with cartoony electronic ‘danger’ sound in the middle). But it is perhaps for that reason that I like this track so much. That voice perfect recreates that paternal PIF narrator sound.
This track is ‘Frozen Ponds PIF’, although it’s been incorrectly labelled by Bleep as ‘Erosion Of Time’. Remember, mind how you go.
Venetian Snares — Banana Seat Girl
I have no idea why, but this track is stuck in my head all the time just now. It took me a while — years, infact — to get into Venetian Snares, but now I am a hardened convert. Here is a madcap piece of cartoony, jazzy breakcore.
Scott Walker — Angels of Ashes
I got into Scott Walker when The Drift came out a couple of years ago. I thought it was a fascinating album, so I have been working my way backwards through his important albums. Tilt is excellent, one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. Climate of Hunter, it turns out, is not very good.
Most recently I have bought Scott 4. It is a quite exquisite album. There are lots of great songs, but ‘Angels of Ashes’ stands out a bit more than the others for me.
Delia Derbyshire — Blue Veils & Golden Sands
I’ve also recently bought the first two volumes of the series of CDs entitled Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. I have very little interest in Doctor Who, but I have a great deal of interest in electronic music and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Delia Derbyshire is rightly regarded as one of the pioneers of electronic music, having created one of the most famous pieces of electronic music in the world, the theme tune to Doctor Who. Apart from the theme tune, she didn’t do much music for the series though.
But included in volume 2 is ‘Blue Veils & Golden Sands’. I already had this track on an earlier purchase, Music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, but its inclusion on the Doctor Who CD has reminded me of its eerie charms. A gentle gong-type sound begins this journey to an intriguing and exotic soundscape. A captivating piece of ambient music.
Sia — Breathe Me (Four Tet remix)
Another (belated) recent purchase was Four Tet’s Remixes album. At first my favourite track on the album was the Beth Orton remix, but this remix of Sia has grown on me a lot. I have no idea who Sia even is, but this I like Four Tet’s interpretation whatever.
I’m not even sure I’ll come up with seven people to tag. Here goes. Gordon, Laura, Calum, Mat, Pinksy, Ponzonha (I’ll crack open the old Google Translator specially to read it since my Spanish isn’t up to much 😉 ) and Clairwil.
By the way, I hate the number seven.