singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
19 January 2018
(listening with headphones)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
Luxman P-1u
Sennheiser HD800

Back when it was current I was well into Kranky. Selectadisc on Berwick Street used to have everything, and their releases were fairly cheap, and always good. Kranky was at its zenith when vinyl was at its nadir, so most of their stuff was CD only. Fond as I was of Kranky, I didn’t have a CD player for most of the ’90s, so I had to get my droney electronic post-rock crossover from the likes of Enraptured and Burnt Hair, who showed more loyalty to the black stuff. (Though it was rarely black.)

Still, I did manage to find this, and another that we’ll look at in a bit, almost certainly in Selectadisc. They both have the look of never having been played. There’s a lot of paper crumbs on each record, the kind that comes from cardboard sleeves, and they needed a damn good clean. Fortunately the Loricraft is back from injury, and working its way up to match fitness. With a few minutes’ TLC they look as good as new. Which, in a sense, they are. I’m as sure as I can be that we have unploughed microgrooves here.

Both records have no inners, and plain metallic textured sleeves in that greeny-silver-gold colour you see on the cover of the mighty Beat. All the songs here are from that album, remixed.

I’ve not been a fan of the remix since it changed in the late ’80s. I’m still angry about those Cocteau Twins ones the bloke from Seefeel did, and I don’t want to listen to 12 minutes of a drum loop with a fragment of vocal repeated for the middle five minutes. I want something that’s recognizably the original, but turned into something new and, ideally, good.

Let’s (post) rock.

First is the “Immersion Mix” of Coming Down, and it’s not a world away from the original. It sounds, for sure, like a Bowery Electric track, and you’d probably get away with sneaking it on to the original record. So, nothing wrong with that, even if it seems a little pointless.

Empty Words is my favourite track off Beat. The woozy, strobing, up and down roller-coaster riff, if you can call it that, survives in the “Twisted Science” mix, but sounds distant and eerie rather than enveloping and intoxicating. The drums start off like dripping taps and gradually, without you ever being aware of a change, become an all consuming, clipped, squall of noise. The riff is still there, or maybe it’s not. Maybe your brain fills it in. Then everything changes: backwards vocals over ambient noise, and what’s still recognisable as the aural assault of the original becomes a lilting, gentle bliss-out. Remix done right. Very satisfactory.

Flip to the ‘b’ for, allegedly, two versions of Black Light. The shorter is a kind of stripped-down version of the original, playing up the ambient angle. The second sounds like a seance making contact with a diarrhoeic Minimoog.

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Side ‘a’ is a long one. Without Stopping is the one with the kind of hunting horn sound, and the massive almost subsonic boom, boom, boom, thing. The bass riff in the original is buried in the mix, but Witchman, whatever that is, brings it to the fore. The middle part reminds me, oddly, of the music from Get Carter, which I doubt it’s supposed to. After Get Carter, the drums go fast. I don’t know enough about electronic music to give you a reference point.

Back when my friend had a record shop, she had a chap who worked for her a day a week, sorting and pricing all the dance stuff. He taught us the differences between genres, and would test us. “What’s this then?” “Happy house.” “No, listen to the hi-hats”. “Oh! It’s hardbag!”. That kind of thing. But whilst all this phased, panning drum craziness happens, that languid bass riff is doing its slow and steady tortoise thing, and of course, it wins. Always bet on bass.

Side ‘b’ starts with the “Chasm Mix” of Fear of Flying. It’s a different take on the original, but recognizable. You can almost imagine that the band might have done it like this in the first place, and it’s great.

The “Disjecta Mix” of Beat doesn’t sound a lot like Beat, sacrificing that huge drone for a synth riff and a looped snippet of vocal. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact thing I described as what I don’t want from a remix at the top of the page. Pfft!

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