Listed: Enon + Neil Campbell
Enon's "from the ashes of" preface lasted only about as long as one of their songs, as former Braniac John Schmersal brought brilliantly punchy noises to otherwise pristinely tuneful pop for the songs that made up their debut, Believo! (See-Thru Broadcasting). Their second album, High Society (Touch and Go) found Schmersal exploring new volumes, as well as new tones 'n' timbres, as Blonde Redhead's Toko Yasuda ably provided vocals. Enon's newest release, In This City (Touch and Go) is a collection of remixed songs from High Society, two brand new tracks, and a collection of three videos. Enon are on tour more often than not, the dates for which can always be found here.
2. The Pagans - Shit Street (Crypt) - Lesser known 70's punk from Cleveland. Too bad the record's called Shit Street. But I can relate man! My neighbors don't clean up after their little dogs and it really is a shit street.
3. Schneider TM - Zoomer (Mute) - I would normally distrust something called Zoomer but after playing some shows with these crazy German guys I was soon won over by their strange brand of programming meets songwriting that still allows a little room for tranced out noise bits.
2. Unwound - Leaves Turn Inside You (Kill Rock Stars) - It's dark and beautiful and so different from their other records.
3. The Cure - Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (Elektra) - It's a romantic and fun summer record, really, the last good Cure record.
2. Xenakis - One of the earliest electronic composers. He was also an architect. This is a compilation of pure electronic music that spans most of his composing career. His percussion music is awesome, too.
3. Rocksteady Requests - Compilation i got years ago. i didn't know who anyone was at first (no liner notes), but i fell in love with the rhythms, melodies and vocal style. My favorite era of jamaican music, rocksteady only lasted a couple of years, but it kills me. Check out some Ken Boothe and get your heart broken....
A former member of UK drone act The A Band, today Neil Campbell is best known as the "leader" of British psych-folk-drone ensemble Vibracathedral Orchestra. By calling on influences from all things free and psychedelic the Vibracathedral Orchestra has created a sound that is both the cumulation of decades of spatial repetition, as well as one that is clearly and entirely their own. While most of their recordings have only seen release as CD-Rs, last year's Dabbling With Gravity and Who You Are (VHF) helped to bring a new, widespread exposure to the collective, as well as critical attention that they had deserved since their 1998 inception.
I had an idea that I was going to write about the records that have meant most to me over the years, my favourites if you like, but then I remembered that I had so many that it would be an incomplete list anyway. So, instead I thought I'd write something about ten sets of music I've been listening a lot to recently. Some of the following are among my favourite things ever, whereas others might turn out to be a complete flash in the pan. No matter, here's what's closest to my stereo at this moment in time...
1. Donna Summer - "I Feel Love" - This record was released when I was 11 years old and I loved it then, but it's steadily grown in stature and mystery for me as the years have gone on. It sent a weird intangible shiver through me then, and that shiver's as intangible as ever to me now. I mean, play this back to back with any of the Sex Pistols singles from the same year and tell me it doesn't beat 'em hands down for invention and excitement. How Giorgio Moroder and Ms. Summer came up with this isn't one to meditate deep and long on - it must've been nothing less than divine intervention.
2. All - Alltag (Kompakt) - I could've picked any number of records made by Wolfgang Voigt, but this is one I return to again and again. Put simply, this is just a bunch of shifting loops, punctuated by the occasional beat, probably stuck together on some sort of sampling keyboard. But the fabulous warm human bang Voigt squeezes into such an unappealing-sounding formula takes me somewhere else completely. None of the soulless nonentities you find cluttering up the electronica sections of record shops deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Voigt. Other favourites from his vast discography include "Mikrophon" by M:i:5, "Pop" by Gas and "Fackeln im sturm" by Grungerman. On some days, he's my favourite musician alive on the planet today.
3. Black Dice - Beaches and Canyons (DFA) - I just saw these play live and they were a real revelation. They're one of the very few rock bands I've come across who are playing as if they're in the 21st century, as opposed to being involved in some heritage genre exercise. I can hear all sorts of influences in there (probably most of them imaginary - sometimes they're like a hyper-Faust to me), but they transcend all that effortlessly - they're completely out there on their own orbit. In fact, the records they have out don't really do justice to how they sound live these days, but I guess I'll just have to live with this and the 3" CD on Tigerbeat for now. That said, the records are terrific in their own right - mysterious organic electro-splatter colliding with drums drums drums, occasionally taking off and setting sail right for the sun. Can't wait to hear where they go from here.
4. Grateful Dead - Aoxomoxoa / Live Dead / Anthem of the Sun (Warner) - OK OK, that's three records, but I only really like maybe a third of each of them. I was always perplexed as to the charm of The Dead, having been brought up proper and decent on the Stooges and the Velvets, but it just hit me fairly recently. It's like when Miles Davis finally clicked with me. Some of it is the wonderful go-nowhere-fast boredom of it all, the minute to minute interplay (like on "Dark Star"). It's noodling, but done well. The other thing I pick up on is the ramshackle attitude to a good tune (like on "China Cat Sunflower"). Fabulous drumming, too. But I still need the CD program button.
5. Basic Channel - Radiance (Basic Channel) - Of all nine BC 12"s, "Octagon" is actually my favourite, but my copy's at my friend Adam's house right now, so this is the one I spin the most at the moment. It's BC at their most dubbed-out blissed-out, and it goes on forever. Perfect. I don't know if these guys ever listened to Cluster, but their stuff sometimes seems like an extrapolation of some of the things on Cluster II, despite being nominally "dance music".
6. Sunroof! - ROCK ACTION - Just got this CDR from my pal Matthew Bower, and I know I'm biased and all that, but who cares? It's 40 minutes of recordings based around the music he played with Mick from Vibracathedral on a couple of recent dates in Europe, and the title's completely apt. It's an idiot-stomp classic, with little of the tone float that I've loved on other Bower releases (my favourite one for years is the Boweryoungs Relayer CD). A couple of the pieces are based around AC/DC loops, and maybe some of the others are based around loops I made for Matthew from "Funhouse" a few years back (I can't remember how they sounded then, and I'm guessing they'd be wallpapered completely over anyway under the maelstrom). It's always a joy to get new recordings from Matthew, even if they are tiny edition elitist private press thing like this. Skullflower's Obsidian Shaking Codex really opened up my ears when it came out, and almost everything he's done since then has hit heavy rotation on my stereo.
7. Gaelic Psalms from Lewis (Tangent) - This has been a perennial favourite since the mid-80s, but every time I dig it out I get something new from it. It's basically an ethnomusical record from the fine fine Scottish Tradition series (other big hits with me from this series are Music from the Western Isles and Waulking songs from Barra), this one recording the distinctive religious singing from the Outer Hebrides. The first side of this record is great solo/duo singing by two sisters, but the real action happens on side two, where you get four slices of full congregation singing. I've never heard anything quite this joyous and freeform and downright alien in religious music anywhere else, which is interesting given the Free Church of Scotland's absolutely austere and uptight take on Protestantism. It's crazy, like the form has been timewarped right out of the Iron Age or something. Anyway, the "lead singer", or precentor, sings a line from the psalm slow and solo, then the congregation joins in with him, each in their own time, creating an incredible sea of voices, rising and falling and gloriously slurring the tune along the way. So each member of the congregation gets to sing their praises in their own way, which I guess isn't so crazy after all.
8. Killer Mike - "A.D.I.D.A.S." (Sony) - For the past few years, since I realised how good some modern hip-hop and r'n'b had become (I don't go for underground stuff here, just the cheesiest multi-million selling things), I almost always have a pop hit I like to spin in the mornings. This is this month's tune. I don't think it's anywhere near as great as some of the things I've had in its place in the past (like the Dr Dre singles from a couple of years back, or great great Timbalands like "Try Again"), but it makes me smile and keeps me going. I turn the radio up whenever it comes on.
9. Kraftwerk - Ralf and Florian (Warner) - I just read through a transcript of an interview I did a while back, where I talked a little about how much I love this record. I said something about Kraftwerk having invented a new form of music on this, or something equally crazy. Now, I was probably exaggerating a touch there, but not much. I really like pretty much all of Kraftwerk's music, but this one stands out by a long way for me - I'm sure a lot of the music I play is a subconscious half-arsed rip off of some of the sounds on this record, just like Eno ripped it off for Discreet Music. You could play "Tanzmusik" from this on a loop all day and I'd be hearing something different every time, grooving on all those out of synch handclaps and ghost voices.
10. Lou Harrison - Three Pieces for Gamelan With Soloists / String Quartet Set (Composers) - I picked this old vinyl up for 3 dollars from Reckless in Chicago a few years ago, and I couldn't believe my luck when I got it home. On paper, the first side sounds borderline cheesy - a western composer writing for a gamelan and adding solos on french horn and viola. But it's one of my most loved records, beautifully done. I can play it to almost anyone who comes to visit, and most remark on what a gorgeous sound it is. The other side is totally different, but still great - Kronos Quartet doing some of Harrison's pieces based around early music tunes. I have a few other Lou Harrison records and they're all good, but none of them can touch this one for me.
By Dusted Magazine