singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
10 May 2015
(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

I’ve been planning to do this for a while: “before”, and “after” reviews. This will be what I expect, followed by what I got. Because I’m all about making myself look stupid these days.

BEFORE :: Everyone loves The Lovely Eggs, right? And they seem to be getting more and more popular now, which is obviously my cue to move on, and at most begrudgingly admit that “some of the really early stuff was okay”.

But seriously, as Phil Collins used to say, I was disappointed with the last album. (Lovely Eggs, not Phil Collins.) There’s nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. It seemed to be either too straight, or tried to hard to be endearingly weird, whereas most of the previous records were genuinely endearingly weird with no effort at all. Certainly there was nothing on there like Don’t Look at Me I Don’t Like It. (Yes, I have the scarf.)

Casey Raymond’s sleeve art falls into the same somewhat effortful trap. It’s good, in a Robert Crumb meets David Barnes kind of way, but the dream thing is not required. No one wants to hear about dreams, be they true or fictional. And vodka doesn’t make your breath stink: Errol Flynn used to drink it whilst filming for exactly that reason. Nice radially marbled white vinyl.

AFTER :: Ah yes, I remember this from the album. I quite like it, but that “he’s running rings around me” bit reminds me of something so much, and I can’t put my finger on it. I will though, and I’ll let you know. Great guitar sound when it happens. Not sure about the false ending, particularly given the band’s hardline (and admirable) stance on fake encores. I loved the unexpected acoustic take on the b-side, though the spelling bit’s not as good as the zero-zero-one-one-zero bit in Itsuko Got Married. And doesn’t David have a nice voice?

4

BEFORE :: Ah some of aforementioned “early stuff”. I missed this one, and Phil’s big-data Hadoop/Cassandra/Spark machine learning suggested I might be interested in it when I bought Magic Onion. Or perhaps it just suggests things by the same band. Either way, I bought it. The cover is excellent: a brilliantly unflattering photo of Holly and (particularly) David, about to get their laughing gear around sausage, mash, and marrowfat peas. Christ, I love tinned marrowfat peas, and I bet I haven’t had any in 15 years.

I’m more hopeful of this one than Magic Onion.

AFTER :: And it’s not as good as Magic Onion. Not particularly noteworthy for The Lovely Eggs, though I do like the line “I’d like to eat what’s eating you”.

2

BEFORE :: The whole Daphne and Celeste thing was weird enough the first time around. Two cool, smart people made a way stupid (i.e. great) pop record, did some funny interviews, played Reading and somehow became globally hated for being The Worst People in the World, according to idiots who like “proper” music.

Now, 15 or however many years later, here we are again. Of all the big names who’ve forgiven, forgotten, and cashed in lately, this reunion has to be one of the big ones. In fact, until Joey Barton gets the Smiths back together, this will have to do.

I’m not expecting Stick You here. I’m probably not even expecting U.G.L.Y, but I go into this one with a lot of good will, not least because it’s a collaboration with Max Tundra, who once released a cover of What Time is Love? done on an Amiga.

Oh, and I never knew Daphne was really called Karen. Cool.

AFTER :: Great. A classy minimal pop song with nice references, good performances, and an excellent sound. I thought the instrumental on the b-side would be a complete waste of time (like the instrumental record that comes with Elysium. Seriously?) but the arrangement and sonic palette make it a fully worthwhile exercise.

4

BEFORE :: One of many artists I have found through my OCD collecting of Great Pop Supplement records. Mr Deas plays guitar, not jamming good with anyone but his bad self. Sure can play, and I think he makes it up as he goes along, which is crazy. Ought to be good, and I hear it’s very well recorded.

“Could try it on the 12-string…”

AFTER :: Crazy shit. I’ve never heard anyone play a guitar like this. At times it’s beautiful, at others it sounds like he’s smashing the thing up with tools. If you haven’t heard this then I doubt you’ve heard anything like this. Experimental, confrontational, and the technique is staggering. Part of it brings to mind Michael Hedges, but it’s way further out there. Not the easiest listen, but engaging and stimulating.

3

BEFORE :: I’m mad for a bit of Steve Reich in the Afternoon. I dropped a ridiculous sum on the record shop day reissue of 18 Musicians, which is worth every one of those many hundreds of pennies. I love listening to this stuff late at night, on the HD800s, with a brandy. If you’re in the right mood it can have a significant psychological effect.

AFTER :: Four Organs is a bit heavy going. Repeated patterns which slide against each other, always changing, always staying the same, pinned together by a shaker. (Yeah, they don’t tell you that in the title do they?) I wasn’t particularly enamoured by the sound of the organs; I much prefer a big fat dirty B3 like Quintron has. And his organ looks like a car.

Pendulum Music is, I think, the sound of microphones attached to two pendulums of unequal length feeding back as they pass over a fixed speaker, then transcribed, and played on real instruments. I could be wrong about the last part, but as someone who is pretty au fait with feedback in general, it doesn’t sound to me like feedback. It sounds like bassoons. Nope. I read the sleeve notes, and it’s feedback. The Sonic Youth version is definitely feedback. I used to hate doing pendulum stuff when I studied dynamics. The pendulum attached to the pendulum attached to the bloody pendulum.

Phase Patterns is my favourite. It reminds me of when I first got a Triton, and I’d spend ages playing with the arpeggiators, holding single chords for minutes at a time with the sustain pedal, and tweaking knobs. Hypnotic.

3