singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
13 September 2014
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove
TEAD Vibe 1.5 / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A
TEAD Model One

If you like weird and wanky music made by people who talk about “gates” and “oscillators”, then Delia Derbyshire is A Big Deal. For someone to be a Cambridge mathematician, a skilled technician in a brand-new field, and a pioneer of a new genre of music is pretty damned impressive in any era, but for a woman to do all that in the 1960s, in such a male environment as the BBC: well, you’re pushing on the “heroic” status for me.

Delia Derbyshire is best known, of course, for making the Doctor Who theme tune what it is. Don’t expect that here though: this is musique concrete, and almost certainly didn’t involve any conventional musical instruments at all. It’s pieced together, with signal generators and tapes. The end result is interesting and, if it catches you in the right mood, engaging. But, it’s probably worth more for its historical significance than its entertainment value.

Sleeve art is photos of the artist at work, which is exactly what you want.

3

Using the same sounds Cracklebox used on that lovely instrumental record from a few years ago, this mixes lush 60s vocals, strong melodies, clicky laptop electronics and a hint of folkiness into two almost too succinct pop nuggets. If you don’t like this, you’re an idiot. It’s that simple.

Top quality, as usual, on Great Pop Supplement, with the expected care taken over packaging and sleeve art. I haven’t enjoyed a GPS record quite so much as this in a while.

5

Second in the new Ghost Box 7” series, this shares the same retro sleeve art as the previous one, and has Listening Centre doing something which owes more than a small debt to Delia Derbyshire. It’s what’s becoming a Ghost Box standard: something that sounds quite like incidental music from a 1970s schools’ programme. It also has a touch of Jean-Michel Jarre about it too. Not bad, but not quite as good as I was hoping.

Oh, and I have a complaint about these records. The thick vinyl and tight-fit sleeves make it impossible to put the record in an antistatic sleeve and have it slide neatly in. These things matter Ghost Box.

3

Another GPS record, on no-middled orange vinyl. A proper toe-tapper, very English, nicely experimental, and absolutely in keeping with tonight’s theme.

In lots of my older reviews, I mention that I don’‘t know why I buy so many GPS records. Bollocks. I need to admit to myself that I collect them, and I want to own them all. Why? Because they are beautiful artefacts, put together by someone who deeply understands what makes records, particularly 7” singles, so special. They also, almost always, contain excellent, original music.

Beautifully packaged, with what looks like a two-register screen print, on good-stock card, and signed. Quite beautiful, and worthy of framing. First effing class.

5

Some years ago, I had my graduation ceremony in the Octagon. I also showed a couple of paintings there in The Great Sheffield Art Show, and saw a few bands in it along the way. I’m not sure I was ever betrayed there, though I might have been: I’m not the kind of person to bear a grudge.

This sounds a lot like the Delia Derbyshire record we started out with, but it was obviously far easier to make, and sounds “nicer”. That’s the advance of technology for you. Still, using impressively old gear, that very much sounds its age. With everyone falling over themselves to get analogue equipment, I think the early digital stuff, (particularly FM, though that’s not represented here) is due a revival.

3