Aug 23, 2010

Flying Lotus: seventh EP synth action

Flying Lotus has been good to us in 2010. A difficult third album that moved his sound into a far frontier of experimentation, plus a collaboration with droop-eyed Radioheader Thom Yorke.

Ticking like a clockmaker's shop floating on Saturn's rings, his last track MmmHmm was a dreamy haze of spaced-out vocals, mechanical swoops and skewed time signatures. Try watching the remarkable video on mute with the Benny Hill theme tune on your stereo. Does it work? Nah, didn't think so.

And now FlyLo's winding in the craziness for a new EP, his seventh since he first started releasing on Warp Records in 2007.

Pattern+Grid World will be out in September and will be, suggests the label, a little less high concept and a little more synth action.

Plug your ears into one of the tracks here:

Flying Lotus - Camera Day (taken from Pattern+Grid World) by Warp Records

Aug 18, 2010


This is my 467th post on To mark this, um, momentous occasion, I thought I would waffle about my blogging process and, basically, why I am here.

I fell into blogging when I stumbled upon James And The Blue Cat using the 'Next Blog' button nestled away uninvitingly at the top of the screen. "Aha, a writer!" I declared, and promptly set up my own site.

The first post was in November 2004 (although I had run a separate website since the memorable date 02/02/02, which was later combined with the blog) and warned the reader to "expect blogs from me. Because this is a blog. And not a dry cleaners. I will not leave dry cleaning stains on your silk shirts, but I will leave blogs."

My blog used to be unfocussed, with thoughts on the Old Testament, wayward local youths and a large smattering of music musings. Back then, you can still see strains of my dark weirdness that regularly smears my blog these days:

- Chiquita safetyadvil law biology: spam as poetry

- Oh puppies, why do you live (my thoughts on the demise of Top Of The Pops)

- My paeon to Boards Of Canada, It's the snot that makes it seem so familiar.

I turned up the volume round here when I realised I needed to progress the blog or give it up. On New Year's Day 2009, I wrote a preview post that, in a way, was a manifesto of what this blog was about. I went on to post three times as much, a level I have kept up ever since.

But this blog will never be a definitive guide to electronic music. It will never be a go-to place for people looking for authority or news or mp3s of Warp, Rephlex and the like. The most common comment I get about it is "I don't understand your blog, but I like reading it because it's funny". Hardly Wikipedia, huh?

When this blog does become the "go to" place for electronica-heads, it's only by accident, such as the Autechre album that was leaked in a comments section and pounced upon by a couple of thousand salivating fans. Have I capitalised on that traffic rush? Have I heck.

Still, I often wake up an hour early to get some 'blog time', which could mean writing a whole piece, researching, or editing something I knocked together a few days ago. Some posts come easy, others are like pulling a Christmas tree out of a cat's backside.

I have this strange spontanaeity (Christmas tree?! Cat's backside?!) within me, this vivid imagination that eats away at my synapses and can cause me to be depressed if left unchecked. I think this is why I blog: I need to have that release valve.

It's probably why people see me as the quick wit in social situations. I don't see that necessarily as a positive attribute: it's more of a survival mechanism. Humour is sharp and blunt and is the quickest way for me to hammer out the strangeness within. I am, underneath it all, a quite deeply sad person: making people laugh is the best form of defence against and connection with the outer world.

Anton Vowl explains it well in his great piece about blogging:
"I see a blog entry as like those things they put in Chekhov's ear in Wrath of Khan. It's there, the idea in your head, growing in your brain, getting bigger and bigger, and all you want to do is just get it out before it drives you insane."
It's also, as Anton says, the immediacy of the process. At the age of 17, I became a journalist. I learned to need that instant gratification of perfect first drafts and quick publishing. It's why I'm also playing around with performance ideas and will probably, silently, without announcement, try stand-up comedy again. My non-existent novel can wait.

There are 32 drafts on my Blogger dashboard. Maybe three will become blog posts. I will ditch my 'acid August' idea (a look at acid music throughout the month) because it's too late. My films of 2010 post will come, but not for a few months. And there are loads of half-written reviews of people like Caribou, Actress and Squarepusher.

This post? Written in one go, deliberately unedited, and published.... NOW. *clicks*

Aug 12, 2010

This is not a brave new world: it's just another house group

I could cope with "skweee" and its stripped-down aquafunk that leaned heavy on the pitch wheel.

It was a stupid name for a genre, but then again so is "new rave" and, for that matter, "rock". Chairs rock. Weebles rock. Boats rock. The one thing long-haired leathered-up guitar gods do not do is "rock".

But now we're supposed to believe there's a new genre called "brave".

Axwell of top ten chart ticklers Swedish House Mafia said in a Newsbeat interview recently (and repeated again on the news today): "It's a new genre we made up, we're calling it 'brave'. It's not rave: it's a little bit more ballsy than that, so that's why it's called 'brave'."

More ballsy than rave? More ballsy than Altern8 and their chemical attack masks? More ballsy than the KLF firing machine gun blanks into a crowd (pictured)? More ballsy than the skipload of wrong-uns I used to trough down my neck at Tribal Gathering?

Crikes, that paragraph made me look old. In the Swedish House bloke's defence, he does add the comment: "We thought of that five minutes ago. We like it a lot."

But no, it's rubbish. Yeah, our pop band's sexy, so we're going mash sexy and pop to bring you "sop". Yeah, our rock band's crazy, it's crazy rock so we're going to call it "cock".

Swedish House Mafia, your argument fell down the moment you wedged your genre into your name. This is not a brave new world: it's just another house group, albeit with a neat single that sounds better without the annoying vocals.

Although I've still quite a fondness for randomNumber's self-proclaimed genre "Northern wrongbeat", anyone who invents their own genre is mostly a "toffist".

Oh, I'm sorry, did I not mention that? I've invented a new genre of idiot: "toss-faced egotist". Toffists of the world unite!

Aug 9, 2010

The big beaters are back: new Wagon Christ and Prefuse 73 albums ahoy

Wagon Christ is to wheel out new material in the autumn.

Ninja Tune are planning a 20th anniversary compilation called XX, and have been giving away free music on this site as a free bone for all the barking music bloggers.

When they gave away an old Wagon Christ mix (the label never released it because of uncleared samples), Ninja Tune revealed September's anniversary compilation will contain a new Wagon Christ track - and they promised a new long-player too.

Wagon Christ is the 17-year-old alter-ego for acid artist Luke Vibert. Christ helped define electronic music in the 1990s before getting caught up, to some extent, in the big beat revival and the cut-and-paste chic of Ninja Tune.

As far as I can remember, the Christ the wheeled wonder hasn't released a jot since his Sorry I Make You Lush LP in 2004.

Meanwhile, beat-splicer Prefuse 73 is working on a female-voiced album and has given a shout-out to TyBo on this blog post about the new project. His collaborators will include experimental rocker Zola Jesus, Angel from the Bjork-collaborating Dirty Projectors and Trish from Warp Record's dreamy Brummie band Broadcast.

The sharper-goggled readers among you will note none of this is terribly new news, but I have an awful lot of catching up to do - and anyway, I haven't finished drinking the bromide from my Manchester blogmeet write-up the other day.

Original photo: Stuart Holt

Aug 6, 2010

Tyondai 'TyBo' Braxton retreats from Battles

Tyondai Braxton left Battles today. Now, the math rockers are like Radiohead without their Thom, like Hot Chip without their Alexis, like... shudder... Five without their Abs.

Of course, Braxton was already a known solo artist, laying out his stall with album Central Market a while ago. But Battles' expected follow-up to 2007's Mirrored was their Second Coming moment, and chez Roland has been awash with salivation for some time.

Braxton, or TyBo as his solo moniker will no doubt become, said in a statement:
"Our model has always had a controlled shapelessness to it and I know John, Ian and Dave are looking forward sculpting an even better way forward. I look forward to be able to continue my music and am very excited at the prospect of being able to dig deeper in my own work."
Amid that clash of archaeological and artistic metaphors lies a musician who is determined to paint a solo legacy that will leave fossils of sonic goodness that last longer than the huge dinosaur imprint made by Battles.

What will the future hold? Because Battles cited Braxton's unwillingness to tour as part of their mutual decision to split, I'm hoping Tyondai becomes a crazy, bearded recluse that makes Syd Barrett look like a jazz-handed pap-seeking celeb.

As for Battles, they may be better off without TyBo's vocals. It clearly wasn't working for them, and it seems that without their frontman, they will get the album wrapped up in advance of a tour next year.

A friend of mine dislikes Battles because THAT big hit sounded like Gary Glitter. Meanwhile, this eager blogger awaits TyBo's new material with tongue a-loll.

Who will be better? The original band or the newly-free TyBo?

And will it result in a massive conflict between them? You know - that type of conflict that's not a full-scale war, but not just a few skirmishes either. A conflict that's somewhere inbetween the two. There's a word for it... I forget....

What do you think of today's news? Is this the day that music died? Are you too busy listening to country and western to notice? Leave your comment below and we can have a bit of a Battle prattle between ourselves.

Aug 3, 2010

Brian Eno will release his new album on Warp Records

So it's true. Brian Eno, king of the ambient and soundtrackist for many-an-airport, is to release a new album on Warp Records.

I reported this here on Friday, but I can't help feeling it seemed a little too good to be true. Warp's debt - particularly Aphex Twin's - to Eno seemed a little too obvious. It would be like The Wanted teaming up with the Backstreet Boys. Or Flo Rida doing a duet with the back end of a sheep.

If you want to be kept up-to-date with the new album's development, click here to go to Eno's website.

Meanwhile, my other bit of speculation came true - Magnetic Man did indeed score a top ten hit at the weekend. Maybe it's not such a compliment to be in this week's chart: as twitterer Tom Ewing pointed out, "the new UK number one is called All Time Low. Not even close lads, though for a first go it's a decent stab."

At least the Wanted have got to the top spot as a result of their singing talents and not in any way because of their... oh. I see.

(Picture: South Bank Centre)