Jan 30, 2006

'O' logo

Sanctus 1 plays effeminate host to the sitdownathon that is II at Cord bar, at which you may hear a spun Fat Roland disc or three. Here is a taster of Sanctus 1's new flyer. [link expired, but just imagine something circle-y]

It reminds me of Aero, frogspawn, Mickey Mouse, Mexicans in hats, blowing bubbles and Orbital.

I loved the way Orbital's repetitive beats encapsulated the circular nature of their artwork. Yes I know it was probably the other way round, the cover designs reflecting the feel of the music blah-de-blah art imitating art etc etc. Shut up. See what I mean by spotting the theme in Orbital's album designs...

The green album
The brown album
The Middle Of Nowhere.
The blue album
...and Rest / Play EP

Before you write in, the Middle Of Nowhere artwork doesn't work because it's a white circle on a white background. This is approximately as effective as tippexing snow, or persuading a flatulent bird to poo on Boris Johnson's head. White on white, very Sigur Ros.

There is something to be said for consistency of artwork, which is why Fat Roland stuff is often white on black and blobby to boot. I think the circular thing is a sprinkle of style that designer Louise Poole brings to Sanctus 1. It could of course mean Sanctus 1 is going round in circles like Orbital's layered beats. Or maybe Sanctus 1 is frogspawn waiting to leap from the pond in a burst of green slimy energy.

Personally, I'm working on a Mexicans in hats theory.

Jan 18, 2006

Logical regression

I am dribbling tobacco-stained drool down by tank top, creaking back and forth in my rocking chair. My pipe long since fell to the floor as a I regress further into my old, wrinkly mind, back to a time called...


This was a time when I discovered good dance music in the same way a careless sparrow discovers a Virgin Pendelino. I had my first listen of Orbital's brown album after being tempted by an NME review that promised extended farts and hypnotic beats. I bought into techno big time.

I have been regressing back to those times a lot recently. I am turning into one of those Vietnam vets, hopefully like John Goodman in The Big Lebowski, rambling on about the old days while my friend's ashes are blown into Jeff Bridges' face.

To help me with my reminiscing, Warp Records seem to be selling a lot of their chips for cheap. Among their newly-reduced merch are the following gems...

(This is like an electronica version of Uncle Albert and his war stories, but stay with me...)

>AFX : Hangable Auto Bulb

This is the Aphex Twin and sometimes I prefer his AFX guise even though there is probably little difference. It contains tracks called Hangable Auto Bulb and Wabby Legs; its frantic breaks should be five years before their time but AFX makes them ten years ahead.

> Autechre : Untitled

Seriously stunning and astonishly original, every sound tweaked until it bleeds perfection.

>Nightmares On Wax : Smokers Delight

The grown-up side of a lot of the stuff I was into in the 90s. I think they suffered from the whole "trip hop" thang and, hey, it was a lot cooler to be into the darker Ninja Tune joints out at the same time. Still, this album looks great in the cold light of today.

>Plaid : Trainer

A compilation of old Plaid tunes. Not as immediate as some of their densely catchy melodics of recent years, still, I can't believe they were producing music of this maturity so early in the 90s.

>Polygon Window : Surfing On Sine Waves

Aphex Twin again, but now we're back to 1992 which is a very long time age because it's before Oasis and Aqua but not before Jesus Jones. There was something really expansive about this album, and I know I can make grown electronica heads cry by playing If It Really Is Me.

> Sabres Of Paradise : Haunted Dancehall

No not Sean Paul dancehall, but a strange haunted house dancehall full of dubbed out electronic breaks. I recall buying the single Theme because it had a beautiful graf art cover.

There is more Aphex and plenty of Squarepusher, but this particular lot sent me into a land of sepia-tinted electro droolery not seen since Boards Of Canada took techno by the keyboards and sent it to analogue heaven with Music Has The Right To Children.

Now, is it best to clean up drool with a sponge, or will a my sock be absorbant enough?

Jan 4, 2006

Fat discs... ACBC, Muslimgauze and Bogdan Raczynski

Anti Clockwise Blink Comparator is a better name than Westlife and their minimal tone modulation and barmy buzzy bits either means they didn't record their music properly or it's beautiful 'found sound' electronica in the vein of Scanner.

Muslimgauze have George Bush-pleasing song titles like Mosque Radio and Taliban and Tamil Tiger SOS. They have just re-released their mid-90s Izlamaphobia disc, which is a highly rhythmic, scuzzy bleepy feast.

But I am most excited about Bogdan Raczynski's newest release on Rephlex. He has remixed Bjork's Who Is It (from her Medulla album last year). Well, it's not quite new, but it's the first time I've come across it so shut up. I love Bogdan (pictured above) because he has brightened up my record collection with his lovely pink vinyl, and believe me it's difficult to type that without prematurely splurging out some cheap innuendo. Boggers' music is warm yet very electronic indeed and Bjork is some kinda Goddess in the house of Fats, so this is a civil partnership made in heaven.

Search for all of this at the Piccadilly Records website.

Jan 1, 2006

Autechre sell tinny frog-puke enducing cancer machines

>Autechre in the ads

I have just heard an Autechre track used in a mobile phone advert. Autechre
, the ultimate underground electronica outfit. Mobile phones, the ultimate tinny frog-puke enducing cancer machines. Who, how, why and whatfor?

Electronica works for ads. Rick Lyon of Lyon Music makes music for adverts. He says "more than 80% of music made for commercials has no vocals...

"Everything else about commercials, from the way they're cut, to the way they're shot, to the way they're written and directed, looks to the future. But the music is way behind."

So the genre's futuristic sound works, and I would certainly prefer to hear Squarepusher in commercials than have the Crazy Frog waving his little green annoyance in my face.

>Muller rice

Back to the music I just heard. Autechre, Manchester's finest electronic genius since Alan Turing, have a track called Reniform Puls licensed to sell LG U3880 mobile phones (
listen to Reniform Puls here [link now broken]).

This is nothing new. In recent years, we have celebrated 30 years of the VW Golf with
LFO and the Aphex Twin's Simon From Sydney. Boards Of Canada were used to sell BMWs, which I can understand since I once recommended the band for background music to a Songs Of Praise producer. BoC really can be that mainstream. I'm not too sure about using Orbital to sell Muller Rice, but it really did happen when The Saint was licensed for this purpose a few years ago. Or how about two more Aphex Twin tracks? The fantastic Windowlicker was used to shift Mercs in 2003, while Compaq used Aphex's Donkey Rhubarb.

>Feel-good factor

Music has sold product on the airwaves since the swingin' 20s, only then it was wireless and orchestras instead of telly and techno. For this, we have to be thankful to the brim of our boots. Imagine a Minority Report world where adverts hard-sell us the latest teeth-rotting, purse-burning logo fodder. At least music mellows the message and reminds Mr Wile E Advertiser that us Roadrunners need feel-good advertising that isn't going to rub us up the wrong way. More car adverts and less Cillit Bang, please!

The downside is that with the decline of the record industry, musicians know they can make a lot more manna strutting their stuff squashed between Fred Elliot, I say, Fred Elliot and Bette's hotpot, than on a dusty CD rack stuck between Madness and Madonna in Music Zone.

>The case of Moby

I remember the original release of
Moby's Go which boasted an anti-car logo on its cover. Well, it wasn't so much a logo as a car crossed by a 'no smoking' red slash. When his Play came out many moons later, Moby's music probably sold a billion cars. Play shot the bedroom producer to fame and fast jets; it was the first time an album had every single one of its tracks used in either a feature film, television programme or an advert. The ads even had Tiger Woods playing golf to Find My Baby. Big names, big commercials, big cheques for Richard 'Moby' Hall.

Does this make me feel uncomfortable? I'm not sure, but Moby seems happy with it. He explains: "My feeling when I license music is that if I make a record and I'm proud of it, I want people to hear it - so I have to avail myself to sort of untraditional means to get people to hear my music."

>Ring Of Fire

Strangely enough, the advertising industry supports his assertion. Says Rick Lyons: "People want to hear good music and people are receptive to good music when it's in [an advertising] spot." It did cheer me today when I heard
The Fall being featured in a commercial. The track is Touch Sensitive and it's the Vauxhall Corsa ad that goes "hey hey hey hey". Yeah, that one.

But advertising isn't, as Moby calls it, "untraditional means". It is as old as the hills, like prostitution, smoking and haemorroids.That reminds me of the best music/ad story ever. There was a plan afoot to use
Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire to sell haemorrhoid ointment. The ad muppets thought the words "it burns burns burns, that ring of fire, that ring of fire" would work just fine. The Cash family kaiboshed the idea: in the words of Johnny's daughter Rosanne, "we would never allow the song to be demeaned like that."

>The future is harsh

Music and advertising could still be a good thing. By having Autechre used as background slush, electronica could be reduced to muzak, forcing producers to explore more underground, more harsh forms of electronic music. Which puts the future of electronic music out of the hands of Moby and into the hands of
Venetian Snares and Shitmat. This can only be a good thing... it just worries me that, like ringtones, the art is being cheapened in the meantime.

Have fun matching adverts to music... click here for
Commercial Breaks & Beats [link now broken] .