Mar 29, 2010

James from Hadouken! saved me from death by lawnmower

I have a habit of avoiding the Metro newspaper in the same way I have a habit of not smashing my face into the blades of a lawnmower before work every morning.

However, the stinky, freebie spawn of the Daily Mail got something right today. It recommended some good music. Or rather, James out of Hadouken! did in the newspaper's On My iPod feature.

The new-raver (oh come on, they are not in any way "grindie") implored Metro readers to pick up a copy of Hudson Mohawke's funk-infused Rising 5 and described it as "math-y, analogue space-funk with a sitar." I don't hear a sitar there, but I did discover this Boards Of Canada remix of the band sampled by HudMo for Rising 5.

Shuffling death track

James Hadouken! also recommended Flying Lotus' shuffling death track Time Vampires, reminding the dear Metro readers of a Lotus collaboration with the Gorillaz. Flying Lotus did drop a Gorillaz track on Gilles Peterson's radio show recently, and he's also been schmoozing with Thom Yorke - but no Gorillaz remix to report yet.

He went on to plug Inside Pikachu's Foo-Foo by Rustie, except you'd need to replace that euphamism for something a little stronger. It's a stupendous track - as is everything by Rustie at the moment. And he also bigged-up (I believe that is the modern parlance) Joker's Gully Brook Lane.

The Hadouken! chappie finished the Metro feature with Chase & Status' End Credits, a slab of drum and bass melancholia featuring the vocal talents of Plan B which worked brilliantly at the end of Harry Brown and provided Chase & Status with their UK chart breakthrough.

I sometimes get a bit evangelical about electronic music, so it's nice to see music I like amid the usual Metro bilge of kittens, health stories and knowing irony. For once, the lawnmower stayed safely in my garage: I just stapled my forehead instead.

Mar 27, 2010

A Team Doyobi bundle: £12.99 ... carrying a puppy under your ludicrously tanned arm: priceless

If has become known for anything for the past eight years, it's shopping.

There's nothing I like better than mincing down King Street, my beemer parked in a disabled space, to look disdainfully into shop windows full of clothes for retarded stick insects. Daddy's credit card, expensive shades, puppy under arm. That's how I shop.

Good job, then, the real world has Bleep, the online electronic music shop. Recently, they launched a 'bundles' sale, which is a brilliant way of getting rid of all the dross you can't shift otherwise.

I suspect all the fried gold has sold, but there's a decent set of silverware left. There's 808 State's Quadrastate, which had that saxophone tune, bundled with their Planet Mu Rephlex rarities album Prebuild.

There is a vinyl album bundle from the godfathers of chiptune Team Doyobi. I think their music is deeper than the lazy chiptune tag, but anyhoo it's worth a punt because they're key players on Manchester's Skam Records.

And if you prefer plastic, there's a CD pack featuring a brace of albums from London producer Kevin Martin: one under his King Midas Sound collaborative moniker, and one as the quite-frankly-brilliant The Bug. I still think The Bug's London Zoo is one of 2008's essential releases.

Along with a couple of slices of brutalism from Venetian Snares and a wee bit of vinyl from the Ant and Dec of techno Carl Craig and Kirk Degiorgio (note to editor - please delete the Ant and Dec bit: it makes no sense), the bundle sale is still worth a poke with your music-buying stick.

Visit the sale here or click on the links in this piece. And no, I'm not paid by Bleep: I just like 'em. Oh crap, they're towing my BMW - looks like this shopping trip is over. Later, dahlinks.

Mar 22, 2010

Ten bloody brilliant Autechre tracks

Sorry to keep on banging on about Autechre (and also for posting another list), but a while ago someone challenged me to name my ten favourite Autechre tracks. The offer was too droolsome to ignore.

I made a list but I haven't been able to post it until now. There is a good reason.

I wrote down the list in a red Silvine notebook, tore out the page, folded it into four, put it in the back of my fishing shorts, fell into a river, put the shorts through the wash, took them out of the washing machine, realised I'd left something in my pocket, thought it was money and panicked, dried the soggy paper on a radiator, realised it was my list, had a radiator leak, re-dried the list by breathing on it for four days, had an asthma attack, got home from hospital, unfolded the hardened remains of the piece of paper, used a magnifying glass to read the faded writing, caught a ray of sun in the magnifying glass, set fire to the list, burned down the house and not in a Talking Heads kind of way, trawled through the smoking remains (of the house that is not Talking Heads), found the strangely intact list next to a charred teddy bear, jumped on a neighbour's computer to type it before anything else went wrong, buried the list so nothing else could get at it, went fishing, forgot my shorts.

So that's why I haven't posted this list until now. Either that, or I'm lazier than a sloth with thirteen koala bear butlers.

Here are ten of my favourite Autechre tracks with YouTube links, in alphanumeric order with their parent albums in brackets. It pretty much shows which era of Autechre I'm into, although I deliberately haven't included anything from Oversteps because it's all too recent.

Full YouTube playlist of ten bloody brilliant Autechre tracks.

Individual links:

444 (Incunabula)

6IE.CR (Draft 7.30)

Altibzz (Quarastice)

Arch Carrier (LP5)

Bike (Incunabula)

Clipper (Tri Repetae)

Drane2 (LP5)

Gantz Graf (Confield)

Second Bad Vibel (Tri Repetae)

Theme Of Sudden Roundabout (Draft 7.30)

Mar 18, 2010

My greatest idea once more crumbles to dust like a great big crumbly bit of dust

Once in a mauve moon, I come up with an idea so eyeball-shatteringly amazing, I literally spend 24 hours patting myself on the back like some goggle-armed freak.

I include some of my radio ideas in that (such as inventing the name Fryer Tuck Shop and conniving with my radio co-presenter Lee to come up with a game based on it). I also include the Formula One Losers League in that (which I hope to resurrect next year).

So I was quite excited about my idea for a music comparison site that went beyond the pathetic attempts by Amazon and iTunes to hopelessly recommend Cascada to Aphex Twin fans*.

Music comparisons. How hard can they be? This is like falling off a blog. Dead easy. Like pissing on a duck. Let's test my big new idea with a basic comparison question:

If you like Orbital, what else do you buy?

Here is my list of bands that sound like Orbital, or at least, music you may want to listen to if you haven't the foggiest about electronic music but you happen to have bought an Orbital album or two. The list includes suggestions from other people given to me when I first started researching this 361 frickin' days ago.

Remember. This is the start of my Big New Idea. I am a genius, so this cannot possibly go wrong.

If you like Orbital, try...

- µ-Ziq. He has that melodic thing going on along with a crunchiness of rhythm that Orbital fans like.

- Boards of Canada and Bola. Both artists ooze with Orbital-style melancholy and are both fairly accessible.

- The Black Dog and Plaid. Experimentalism meats warm analogue techno goodness.

- Kruder and Dorfmeister. Maybe, although I'm not quite sure.

- Photek. Feel the darkness. The complexity in the rhythmic structure. No? Next!

- Crystal Castles, but only their track Untrust Us.

- Long Range. This is the guy from Orbital. This list is useless.

- Lemon Jelly. Oh now come on, that's taking the Michaelangelo.

- Mannheim Steamroller? Trans Siberian Orchestra? Nah. Pentatonik! Closer with that last one, although it's the old techno band not the more recent rock band.

- The theme tune to the Equalizer. Well, actually, now you come to think about it...

- Lowfish. And the second track from Wahn's Alt.binaries. Hello? Is anyone still reading?

Well, that was a pile of hairballs. It's my worst list since I listed Orbital's albums by colour.

Scrap that idea. I'm off to draw up blueprints for my next brilliant scheme, which will involve (in no particular order) the chair George Clooney made in Burn After Reading, the complete works of Dan Brown, a blowtorch and sixty-two gallons of bathtub gin.

*Actually, they're a lot better these days, but iTunes used to be shiiieeeeet.

Mar 15, 2010

Review: Autechre at Pure, Manchester, March 11th 2010

Autechre's show at Pure in Manchester last week was a mixture of the brilliant and the bloody stupid.


The hour-long set was grounded in hypnotic loops and much more beaty than new album Oversteps. We had rasping snares for the first five minutes, persistent knocking, and taps all over the place. The music sounded like it was literally tumbling out of the speakers.

The first half of the set was fractured, gloomy and, in true Autechre style, awkward. As the mid-point loomed, we began to get more melancholic chords.

And then, after some 4:4 rave masculinity (you don't get much thump-thump-thump normally), the beats seemed to kick in more. Or maybe I was just into the groove by then. They certainly saved their heaviest sounds for the second half.


It was a desolate performance, the darkness deepened by the band's usual insistence that the flashy lights be turned off (see photo!), and it ended in a mass of wailing noise and, at the very climax, a mess of percussion.

It's the Autechre I've known and loved a long time, and for about 20 minutes, I was totally immersed in every intricacy.

I can't produce a track list. There was some Oversteps in there, but I get the impression they were going with the flow. Anyone waiting for a record-perfect rendition of Arch Carrier would be disappointed, but then again anyone wanting that has probably never seen Autechre before.


The support was superb too. Didjit diddled around with hip hop before extreme noise experimentalist Russell Haswell threw 15 minutes of painful circuit bending at the crowd.

As a gig performance, Haswell's screeching, white noise and frequency murder only served to annoy. I did hear a friend claim this was music from the future, only to get a reply from a random punter, "yeah, only after everyone was dead and buried, then someone shat on a keyboard".

But as a performance of sound sculpture, it delighted the geeky bit of me that has spent many hours building noises from sine waves.

Meanwhile, Gescom collaborator Rob Hall's DJ set was the most straightforward thing of the evening. Proper, solid techno with a 1990s focus and ending with a stupendous remix of LFO's Freak.


So that's the brilliance taken care of. This brings me to the other element of the night: the bloody stupid bit. This can be summed up with one four-letter word: Pure.

Who chose Pure as a venue? Come on. Own up. The airport style scanners were bad enough: they insisted on beeping for everybody, so we all got some lecherous thug giving us the pat-down.

Then you had to exchange your ticket stub for a paper ticket which was then exchanged for an ink stamp, all within the space of about four yards. It was, quite simply, silly.

The moaning of the venue staff was nearly enough to dampen the atmosphere (you can guess Pure's level of awfulness by the number of Basshunter posters advertising a 'meet-and-greet' for £15), but then you had to cope with finding an exact sweet spot to listen to the finer bleeps of Autechre's music.

Anyone outside that zone, which must have been most of the venue, would only have heard a muffled fog of meh.


There are rough recordings of the gig here and somewhere in here. They're great if you like listening to your favourite band and someone else's conversation at the same time.

Meanwhile, do read this guide to enjoying a concert performed by Autechre by a reluctant fan, which contains the joyful line: "Listening to their music takes a lot of mental energy and can be slightly agitating."

Mar 13, 2010

Buyer beware: this man's an idiot

When I tell people the first ever single I bought was S'Express, I tend to take on a Ready Brek glow of musical authority. Theme From S'Express is considered to be one of the greatest acid house songs.

On seven inch single too. How switched on am I?

Except, one thing you need to understand about my early record-buying habits is this: I consistently waddled into the record shop, drooled over the cool bands... and walked out with the wrong single.

The S'Express single I own is Hey Music Lover, a track that no-one gives a flying sausage about.

I make the mistake with Madonna too. I should own Holiday or Material Girl, but alas a solitary copy of Like A Prayer sits on the edges of my music collection like a religious freak trying to wheedle her way into the cool kids group.

Adam Ant? Yeah, I own an Adam Ant single. In fact, I'm adamant that I am. What I refuse to tell you is that it was Room At The Top, which was released exactly seven hundred years, nine months and three days after he was respectable.

Feast your eyes on my Bananarama 7". Don't look too hard at the cover though, because it's their horrific collaboration with LaNaNeeNeeNooNoo.

And so it goes on. The Wonder Stuff? Dizzy. Band Aid? The second one in 1989. Soul II Soul? The one that wasn't Back To Life.

I hope you're not making the same errors and cluttering your mp3 collection with the likes of Boom Boom Pow, something other than Windowlicker, or anything by Basshunter that's not Now You're Gone.

I'm only telling you all this to save you from yourself, you know.

Mar 10, 2010

House music and really big eskimo hoods: some recent singles

Pantha Du Prince's dreamlike house haze on his spanking new album Black Noise has got me in the mood for some four-to-the-floor action. Never mind all that cut-and-paste broken beat crap. This week, I want my beats fixed up and looking sharp. Here are some recent house singles.


Raffertie (pictured) is Planet Mu's top drawer dance guru, beloved of grungy club types as well as the glossy hacks of Mixmag magazine. Recently, he's been getting some big-time snogs from Huw Stephens, Rob Da Bank and Dame Mary Anne Hobbs. Which is nice.

7th Dimension is Raffertie's newest single, and while the title is not as classic as last year's Wobble Horror!, there is ample to restrain your thumbs from twiddling. It's a whooping high-energy flare of rave house, convulsing from snare stab attacks and swirling, persistent vocals.

The b-side, String Theory, sounds like a melancholic Way Out West experimenting with a wobble-board for a bassline. 7th Dimension is the better cut, and reminds me a little of Hospital Records' more zealous moments - without the junglism.

Floating Points

His bubbly 2-stepper J+W Beat enjoyed more than a play or three on my phone last year, so unfurl the bunting because electronic polymath* Floating Points has dropped a brand new track called People's Potential.

He's not just torn a leaf from Luke Vibert's book: he's photocopied way beyond the legal limit to produce a thumping, nagging acid work-out with wailing synths and both hush puppies planted solidly on the dance floor.

Track it down if you can, but I warn you, it's a limited edition one-sided white label. And they're harder to find than Lil Wayne's self-respect.

The XX

I've saved the best for last: a superb cacophony of remixes of one of the best indie bands of the past 12 months. There are several remixes of The XX track, Islands. And they're all fab.

Untold culled the coldness of The XX, secreted it in an igloo somewhere north of Alaska, hurled it into Heston Blumenthal's deep freezer, and fashioned a dubstep remix so startlingly chilly, your ears will ice over at the mere notion of listening to it. Pardon? Exactly. It's tribal, like Zulu, but in eskimo hoods, really big eskimo hoods.

The Blue Nile's version of Islands shimmers and ripples, simple piano and electric guitar adding a nagging theme to the sparse vocals, while Nosaj Thing interprets the track as astral ambience. Delorean flings us back to the warm world of 90s intelligent techno, and, finally, Falty DL makes it sound like Tricky's record player's broken.

Okay, I veered away from house music at the end, there, but I don't like my beats too neat: if it ain't unfixed, I'm gonna broke it. You can quote me on that. (Please don't.)

* I only call him this because he can play the piano too.

Mar 7, 2010

If I was voting for the 2010 Oscars which I'm not, which quite frankly was a bit of an oversight

Edit: My predictions weren't bad. Look at the list of winners on the Oscar site. is sticking around on Blogger for the time being, so before I hit my drunken stride again with my usual wafflings about music that goes whoomp in the night, here are my tips for the Oscars.

Well. It would be a shame to let my Cineworld card go to waste.

Best Picture

Hurt Locker. There's no real competition. Precious is an immersing experience, as blogged about here, and looking at Oscar's newly beefed-up list, several of 'em turned up in my Best Movies of 2009.

But Locker has that perfect storm feel, like the third Bourne film or United 93. The other nominees are all worthy though, with two flies in the ointment: An Education, which I haven't seen, and Avatar, which is an awesome triumph of style over any kind of substance whatsoever.

Actor In A Leading Role

Jeff Bridges was the grizzled dad you wish you'd had in Crazy Heart. I still have a lot of Dude love for the guy: even now, my heart skips a beat when he's drinking in a bowling alley at the start of Heart. The gong should go to Colin Firth, though, for his portrayal of grief in A Single Man, if only for this phone call scene.

Actor In A Supporting Role

The opening scene of Inglorious Basterds is so simple, so beautiful and sets up the conflict with the minimum of fuss. The rest of the film was a disappointment, with the chilling exception of the crazy-ass Christoph "That's A Bingo!" Waltz as the Nazi officer.

Actress In A Supporting Role

Two nominations for Up In The Air? Really. It was a good film, but I can't help feeling a slot has been pilfered here. And I don't think Penélope Cruz should get the proverbial nod over Judi Dench, who was a all-singing revelation. So then. Mo'Nique should easily bag this as a brutally possessive mother and the best film villain since Anton Chigurh, albeit with real hurts rather than a two-headed coin.

Animated Feature Film

What no Avatar? I don't see how that is any less an animation than the hand-scrawled works of Hayao Miyazaki. As for the nominations, I was disappointed with Fantastic Mr Fox, thrilled by Coraline, but would give an Oscar to the wonderful Up.

The other bits no-one cares too much about

I haven't seen enough to make a judgement on Actress In A Leading Role and a lot of the other categories are best left to the experts.

I can tell you that Avatar looked great, the costumes in Nine were fabulous, A Prophet should have been in for best film, never mind best foreign language film - oh and the music shone in Crazy Heart, A Single Man and, above all, Moon. Does Moon count towards this year? Anyways...

A final thought. If Serious Man and In The Loop don't get screenplay awards, if they don't start moving up the screenplay awards up the order of priorities, and if Kathryn Bigelow doesn't leave the Oscars beknighted as Queen Of The Universe, I'll eat my Cineworld card.

Mar 4, 2010

Not very good: a slight blog blip

Please be patient, my sweet readers, while I migrate this blog to something other than Blogger.

I have been with Blogger since 2004, but their new rules on FTP publishing (I have no idea what any of it means) doesn't seem to be supported by my domain name people, Freeparking. So I'm having to jump ship.

Which means instead of writing, I'm having to wrestle with technical stuff that I'm not very good at.

Please be patient, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, and wait by my blog for further instructions.

In the meantime, you could listen to a preview of Superfast Jellyfish by Gorillaz, sift through an excellent new writing site called Profwriting, look at these utterly uncharismatic photos of Four Tet DJing in Chicago, or grap this Martyn podcast featuring the likes of Joy Orbison, J Dilla, Drexciya and, er, Prince.

Mar 1, 2010

Best movies of 2010 (Jan / Feb)

In alphabetical order and not ranking, here are the five best films of the first two months of 2010. According to me, of course. Not that I know much, but if you've seen any other films, I'll tazer you.

A Prophet

Following one character scene-by-scene in a two and half hour French prison drama ought to feel like more work than it was, but this startling mash-up of Shawshank meets the Godfather races by.

The first third is the best as we reach an Act One climax involving a brutal sex act which, believe me, is not what you've been led to expect. Tahar Rahim (pictured on the right, above) negotiates a tense tightrope of loyalty, racism and ruminant mammal dreams.

A Single Man

And you thought The Road was depressing? Of course Colin Firth deserves the Oscar. Since I saw the film, I've watched the phone call, in which he is informed of his lover's death, again and again.

His performance in A Single Man is minutely studied, as layer upon layer of this collage professor is economically stripped until one little smile near the end of the film tells you everything you need to know about his journey. Contains serious levels of man totty.


Another Oscar tip, this time for Mo Nique as the sadistic parent of put-upon Harlem teenager Precious. I didn't think a film produced by Oprah starring Mariah Carey would be this good.

This is a drama that wears its intentions a little bit too much on its sleeve (hey, we need to create character empathy, let's bully her to hell and back) but it is still a rivetting and immersing experience where the cold streets of Harlem will have you in tears.

Sherlock Holmes

Not my kind of film, so why is it here? Four words. Robert Flippin' Downey Junior. He performs the opium-toking sleuth as Johnny Depp played Captain Jack Sparrow: just the right side of unhinged throughout the whole film and a reeling contrast of colour and sparks to Jude Law's stuffy Watson.

It's a shame then that the downside is its director, who mistakes story for fight scenes. Still, what amazing fight scenes (the double-scenes are a revelation). It's Ritchie's best since Lock Stock and that includes Snatch.

Up In The Air

Clooney does his Tom Hanks, deadpanning it as a man who spends his life in airports. There are no fireworks in his performance, no hair gel obsession, no teeth paranoia, just a bloke who is slowly having his barriers kicked down by a delightful Anna Kendrick (playing out-of-her-depth to perfection).

It lacks substance, despite Clooney going through some massive rejections. Could have done without the talking heads.


Hey, Fats, you missed The Road. Yeah, I took a wrong turning because the McCarthy adaptation bypassed a rollercoaster of emotion in favour of something akin to a trip to the shops. You're right, though, it was otherwise brilliant.

Youth In Revolt was Michael Cera giving us more Michael Cera, but that's a good thing because he lights up the screen throughout - and there's a lot of him this time.

Meanwhile, Daniel Day-Lewis is predictably an eye-popping, heart-pumping master of the craft as a washed-out Italian film director in Nine. It's just a shame most of the songs are tedious and the story seems to miss the mark.