singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
26 November 2014
(listening with headphones)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove
TEAD Vibe 1.5 / Pulse 2
Lehmann Black Cube Linear
Sennheiser HD800

More GPS stuff. I’d say I’d been spending way too much money on records lately were it not for the fact most of them are so good.

I missed this back in the day, possibly because it has no identifying marks on it at all. The front cover is a print of a Spirograph drawing, a motif repeated on the label of side 1, and in real Spirograph drawings on the hand-made insert. The back cover has a beautiful concentric-circle print, also repeated on the back side of the label. The vinyl continues this game-of-two-halves theme by being half white and half clear/colourless.

The music is repetitive Kraut (I’ve already been through whether or not it’s still okay to say that) -ish analogue fayre. The b-side (or possibly a-side, who knows?) has cultish wailing and chanting over its electronic tablas and portamento sweeps

A nice record, but one which perhaps has more merit as an object than as a piece of music.

3

There’s a song on here called EFF.R, which rings a distant bell with me somehow. I don’t know why.

I loved this record before it was out of the jacket because it has sleeve notes. Proper, long sleeve notes. Disregard the fact that it refers to the record as “a circular piece of black plastic” when it’s actually white, or that it says “thousands of people” own identical copies, when GPS pretty much never press more than 500 of anything. I love that those sleeve notes describe Nottingham by a list of Nottinghamshire’s greatest cricketers (even though the more functional Clive Rice probably gave the club more than any of the people listed here. And whence KP?) I love that the people responsible for the first class sleeve design (Jon Matthews and Martin Goddard) are credited. I love that they tell you what bloody tape they used to record it. I love that it has a stroboscope insert, (Not least because I was playing with the Acutus and messed up the 45rpm setting.) I love Elijah Wood (yes, that Elijah Wood, from out of off of that Apples in Stereo video) does talky vocals on the b-side. I love everything about this. The music is phenomenal. I love it because it sounds old (it’s not) and it sounds like there are loads of people making it (there aren’t). I love it because it has a seven-and-a-half-minute b-side which is an “edit”, and is not anywhere near long enough. I’m not going to draw lazy comparisons, but think perhaps of a very forward looking group of 1960s boffins who’ve opened a time portal to early ’70s NYC and heard badly distorted funk through it.

This, people, is everything a record should be.

5

Stepping briefly away from the GPS (don’t worry, we’ll be back) to some New Big Thing. Presumably there was already a band called “Cherry Glazer” which necessitated the extra “r”, and presumably the title came from a lolcat, back in the day.

A-side is pretty good. I like the guitar playing, and the melody is good. Put a big fat dirty fuzz bass on this and it’d be a killer. What do you know, b-side has a big fat dirty fuzz bass (I swear I did not know that when I wrote the previous sentence) and I like it more.

A couple of good catchy, hooky songs just smart and sassy enough to stay the right side of indie rock.

4

Back to the GPS (42, to be precise) with more white vinyl and a lovely die-cut sleeve. If, like me, you play the a-side at 45 rpm, it starts off sounding quite like the theme tune from Tales of the Unexpected. (Speaking of which, if you haven’t already, read The Fly Paper by Elizabeth Taylor.)

There’s a beautiful simple, revolving, nursery-rhyme catchiness about the title track which perfectly matches the op-art sleeve. (Take it out of the plastic jacket to get the full effect) and you should know by now how much I love that sympathy. B-side is stripped down and at first made me think of an unsettling 1970s children’s TV programme based on American folk music, but then turned into a beautifully sweet music-box lament. Another beauty. There’s also a lovely card insert of a print of a small girl and a big bird. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything else by this (two-man) band, but if I ever do, I will buy it.

5

More GPS, more white vinyl (they must have had a job lot of it to get through.) ‘a’ is a squelchy number which somehow makes me think of Sleigh Bells, perhaps because of the “looped” nature of the music and the almost chanted vocals. ‘b’ is more folky, more GPS, with some nicely messy electronics. Think Wicker Man OST crossed with Flat Beat. I like the singer’s voice.

3

I almost stopped buying GPS records around GPS60-70 because they were getting very chin-stroking and folky, and that’s not really my bag. This is GPS74, with a scary woodland sleeve, plonky Chinese sounds, and hypnotic folkiness. There’s also a properly creepy story printed on the inside. One of my many plans for the band I never had was to get a short story and print it across the sleeves of, say, four singles, then release those singles in tiny numbers in different corners of the world. In the days before Discogs and eBay, no one would ever have got all four and read the story. Eerily, given the nature of said story, I feel I’ve read it before… Perhaps something wrong with time itself, perhaps I’ve just bought the same record twice.

The story, and its connection with my own ideas is illustrative of why I love GPS so much. I see an art and a craft in releasing records: turning a functional item into something so much greater. GPS does that, and it’s why I want to own them all.

3

Way back to GPS25 now, to the days before their records had middles. Neko, of course, is Japanese for cat, and it appears this is a Japanese band

Here we get a round sleeve (I’ve made my usual round anti-stat jacket) with two inserts. One is a reproduction woodcut of an owl of such tidy execution that it makes me wonder whether it’s a woodcut at all.

The HD800s are so good that when the woodblock kicked in it made me jump because I thought the noise was coming from inside the room. Perhaps Bending the Rule of Time has shit me up a bit. Also, it’s very late.

Side ‘a’ is a huge ever-circling wall of sitars, like Phil Spector going chicken-oriental in the Mohul while seagulls try to snatch his naan bread. Side ‘b’ wheels out the funky whok and chunky wah, but also comes off a bit like something off side two of Low.

3

I’m fast approaching a dilemma with The See See. You see, I can already see (see what I did there?) that the last GPS record for me to get will be their Late Morning Light album. I’m not a big fan of the band, and copies are already changing hands for >£60. That much sausage just to tick off a number in a collection? I’m not sure I want to be that person

Actually, this record’s not bad at all. The ‘a’ is their usual west-coast psych-pop act; the ‘b’ is an Eat Lights Become Lights remix, which just sounds like Eat Lights Become Lights and is therefore excellent. Maybe I should give The See See another chance.

4

The clue is in the band name. Well folky, with banjos and wailing, it’s the stuff I mentioned earlier which, if it didn’t exactly put me off GPS, made me go a little cooler on it. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but not my bag.

Turns out I already had this. Bought it in 2008. Got two now. I’m an idiot. Anyone want a copy?

2