Thursday, 18 October 2018

Masana Temples

From the melodic end of the contemporary psychedelia spectrum, Kikagaku Moyo return with their 4th full length album 'Masana Temples'. As I mentioned at the time (here), the Japanese five piece were initially brought to my attention via a passing comment over at TheRobster's place in 2016 and their brilliant 'House in the Tall Grass' LP quickly ended up among my favourites of that year. From the Stereolab-like vibes of 'Majupose' to the melancholic freak-out that is 'Dripping Sun', I've a strong hunch that 'Masana Temples' will occupy a similarly lofty position in my affections come December.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Monday Long Song

'Jean' was assembled for an Alan Lomax tribute event in 2015 by Steven Collins, working as The Owl Service. The Jean in question is Jean Ritchie, an American folk music singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player, who was recorded extensively by Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1949 and 1950. It's her sampled voice that you'll hear entering proceedings at the three minute mark, singing a simple phrase that loops, ebbs and flows to great effect for the remainder of the piece. It's a thing of beauty.

The Owl Service - Jean

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Disappear Into the Compost

By the time Siouxsie & the Banshees' 'Join Hands' tour rolled into Ipswich on October 9th 1979 (39 years ago today), two of their number, Kenny Morris and John McKay, had already jumped ship, walking out on the band in Scotland a couple of weeks previously. Budgie from The Slits was quickly drafted in to fill the drum stool while The Cure's Robert Smith suddenly found himself doing a double shift every evening, first fronting support band The Cure, then handling guitar duties for the Banshees. Unsurprisingly, given the volatile circumstances, the band were on explosive form in Ipswich, so much so that two nights later I took myself off to Chelmsford to witness it all over again. Emotions in the Banshees camp were obviously still running high the following month, when they taped a couple of blistering performances for the BBCTV programme Something Else.

In March 1980 Siouxsie & the Banshees released their first post-Morris & McKay single, 'Happy House', for which Budgie retained his position behind the kit and the band welcomed the remarkably talented John McGeoch on guitar. Tucked away on the b-side of the 45, 'Drop Dead/Celebration' opened with the line 'I Hate You I Hate You I Hate You I Hate You...' The bile and viciousness didn't stop there. '...I'm so ashamed to be connected with your name, you're so lame...' and ' should be pushed down, down into the ground amongst the worms, and other spineless things...' Who could the song possibly have been aimed at?

Siouxsie & the Banshees - Drop Dead/Celebration

Monday, 8 October 2018

Monday Long Song - Zugspitze

Swedish five piece Zugspitze formed in 2014, playing regularly, recording sporadically and finally, in May of this year, releasing their debut album 'Kalejdofoni'. The LP is in a hand-numbered limited edition of 300. On the actual day of release, the band played a launch concert for 'Kalejdofoni' in their home town of Växjö - immediately after which they split up. More detailed information on Zugspitze is tricky to come by, a situation not helped by the fact that the group share their name with the highest mountain in Germany, which kinda dominates the Google hits. Their record label's website doesn't help, containing no mention of the band whatsoever. So, for the moment at least, all we have is the music.

Zugspitze - Not the Bakerloo Line

Monday, 1 October 2018

Monday Long Song

A couple of ongoing family issues have been occupying my mind of late, leaving me with little head-space or enthusiasm for online matters. During one of my brief dips into the blogosphere however, I was pleased to note Drew's return to active service and look forward to properly catching up with his (and everyone else's) posts one of these days. I was particularly interested to see that he's kicked off a new series, Monday's Long Song, and that I may have inadvertently played a small part in planting the seed of the idea for it. This week Swiss Adam has joined in the fun. Given that my own last post (nearly two weeks back) contained a 24 minute epic, you could be forgiven for thinking that I unknowingly jumped the gun, but, in reality, over the last few days there has been only one long song on my mind and turntable.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

In Another Life

Do you have a spare 24-odd minutes to listen to a new song? No, I wasn't sure that I had either. Sandro Perri's latest album 'In Another Life' popped into my field of view just over a week ago (and was released last Friday). The name rang bells. Mrs S and I picked up a couple of his albums somewhere around 2007, one of which, 'Tiny Mirrors', became a particular favourite in the house for a while. As is the way of these things, Sandro took quite a while to follow up 'Tiny Mirrors' and he fell off my radar, so when I happened to read about the new album I was curious to find out what he's up to these days. It was with some surprise that I noted the extreme length of the title track and intended to check just a few minutes of it, before flicking on through the rest of the LP. 24 minutes later I was still there, absorbed.

Nothing dramatic happens in 'In Another Life'. Sandro delivers verse after verse over a gently noodling guitar and tinkling electronic backdrop and even as it finally crumbles and fades, I still feel good to go for another 20 minutes. One reviewer likened the song to '...a zen blues...' A good description.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Joey Ramone - A New York Moment

Over at The (New) Vinyl Villan, the Imaginary Compilation Album series continues to go from strength to strength. A couple of days ago, our mutual friend Dirk kept the bar way up high with a terrific Ramones ICA. Dirk concluded his ICA with the entertaining tale of how he narrowly missed meeting Joey Ramone in 1991. Nine years later I had my own near miss with the great man.

On the afternoon of April 15th 2000, the last day of my 39th year, walking alone through the East Village in Manhattan, I crossed 3rd Avenue on 9th Street and noticed a small kerfuffle in a doorway to my right. There, towering above a throng of a dozen chattering fans, was Joey Ramone, signing autographs, talking to everyone at once, but clearly trying to edge inside the building. I fumbled in my backpack for some paper and a pen and waited patiently at the edge of the group. Joey remained unstintingly polite, in spite of the barrage of questions and bits of paper being thrust at him to sign, but gradually, and before it came to my turn, he eased himself into the foyer of the building and, with a wave through the glass door, he was gone.

So I didn't quite get to meet Joey that day, but it was a memorable New York Moment for me all the same. A moment that came spinning back 12 months later, when I opened a newspaper on the morning of my 41st birthday to find that Joey had passed away the previous afternoon, exactly one year after my close encounter with him. The extent of his illness hadn't been widely publicised, his death was a terrible shock and, 17 years on, we miss him still.

The Ramones - Swallow My Pride

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