singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
1 October 2019
(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

First cab off the rank is a Wurlitzer Jukebox single from “y2k” as some people called it. That was a bit annoying, but less so than “y2038k” or “y2.038k” or all the other stupid names people are trying to make stick to the 32-bit Unix epoch time overflow. Everything has to have a stupid name now doesn’t it? Everything’s got to be a big deal. Time was, the weather forecast would say “expect wind and rain in Sheffield”, now it’s a ‘bong’ on the news and “…as the north of England braces for the impact of Storm Dakota…”. And it’s windy, and rains.

Quitter is lovely, one chord, two singers, peaceful. “People think I’m a quitter, but I’m not”. I can’t tell a word of the ‘b’, which is called ADA, but hopefully it’s about the safety-oriented programming language. Musically it’s a perfect balance of delicate strumming, heavy sludge, and analogue drone.

According to the sleeve (done by Megan from off of out of the band), the record was recorded at Jet Propulsion Lab in Portland. Presumably that’s different from the one in California. I love to see hand-lettering, and even though it’s not very well done here, who cares? It’s still a million times better than more crap off a boring old computer. The cover has some kind of ghostly window which is, of course, a transparent thing. Doubly transparent I suppose, given that ghosts are also, presumably, transparent. (Or would be if they existed.)

The insert says “Colin Bell better than Best”. This makes me think of all those Manchester City fans who ring the football phone ins and before they state their opinion, must explain that they’ve supported City for over two thousand years, and have never missed an away game, especially that season they were in division ten, so they’re definitely not one of those people who automatically supports whoever’s best.

Really a lovely, excellent record.

4

At least, I think that’s what it’s called, but I don’t have a sleeve. Just a clear record and a cardboard insert. The insert is so good I’ll quote a chunk of it verbatim. All spelling mistakes theirs.

we feel we should at least let you know that side 00 is mastered at 45 RPM and side 01 at 33 RPM. This is further complicated by the fact that no one seems to be able to read the lables and discern sides 00 from 01. We encourage liberal experimentation with various sides and speeds to arrive at a combination that fits your own unique listening needs. Also, because side 01 is so long, there is a slight loss of sound quality about 3/4 of the way through–sorry. If you want you can write or call and we’ll send you a tape with a more pure sound. But it is a 7” record for crying out loud, you’re supposed to hear the process.

There’s so much to love there, but I think my favourite thing is “side 00” because collections should start at zero. (Unless you’re using Lua, of course.)

I tried both sides at both speeds and the suggested ones are the best, though 00 is also decent at 33.

Both sides supply the standard Labradford sound. Drone, talking, 8bpm, slightly scary/eerie/beautiful.

4

When I walk the streets near my home, I always imagine how lovely they would be without cars. And I’ll probably wonder, if we could remove all private cars at a stroke, whether society would readjust itself and cope. I imagine how we’d all walk everywhere, local shops would come back, children would walk in friendly crocodiles to the nearest school, cycling would be safe, businesses would open local branches and satellite offices and we’d walk to work. You’d still have buses and trains, (and I suppose you’d have to have goods lorries), but the buses wouldn’t be snarled up in traffic. Maybe it would work, or maybe society would collapse. I think the former.

So that’s “Cars”. How about “4K”? Frankly, I don’t get the fuss. DVD is still plenty good enough for me, on my ancient telly. And the downloads are bloody massive.

On their first song, Stasola strum some nice chords and some damped strings, and they do some funny space noises. It’s right enough without being anything special. Better than cars, and roughly as relevant as 4K. Their second song is just plain annoying. It’s the worst thing I’ve heard since that chump phoned in and asked for Westlife on All Request Friday a couple of weeks ago.

Electroscope were a good turn. On their opener they are joined by Stevie Wonder on harmonica, and some sort of awful honking thing. What could easily have been a lovely laid-back bliss-out gets tortured into something of an ordeal, but in a good, deliberate way, rather than the inadvertent way in which, say, Paul McCartney’s solo output is an ordeal. Their second song, Turbine, pairs Rolf Harris’s most menacing wobbleboard playing to date with tense violin abuse, to similar effect.

Nice sleeve art, with most of the details put onto an olde-fashyonde record player. But on the whole, a not very listenable 15 minutes.

2

On V/Vm Test, which should be a clear sign that this isn’t going to go smoothly.

Kid 606 “does” (in the broadest possible sense of the word) Straight Outta Compton. It’s something like the usual V/Vm drill: a whole record sampled, and mutilated with ring oscillators, time stretchers and heavy distortion. But it comes out somehow fantastically listenable.

The back sleeve is also brilliant: chockablock with effing and jeffing. Straight Outta Compton, for instance, was done on “nuthin but a akai mpmothaf–kinc60 and an emu-sp12mothaf–kin00”. Classic gear for a classic cut.

Tigerboy (are both these acts actually V/Vm?) does something similar with some punk type thing I can’t identify. His is totally unlistenable, but he WINS because he did his “at home on an amiga”.

Copyright “wigga please! productions”. And that gets it a

5

Yeah, you didn’t see that coming did you?

In which Doug Rocket and Annie Lennox cover the uncoverable, removing the two best things from the original (Dusty Springfield and That Cymbal), do the music in a plodding, pedestrian fashion, and still somehow come out with something totally brilliant. The video is good too: Annie Lennox looks awesome, and Dave Stewart looks stupid.

People always think Dave Stewart from out of off of that cover of “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” is also Dave Stewart from out of off of The Tourists and The Eurythmics don’t they? People are thick. That’s a great record as well though, and I’d have bought it as well, if they’d had it. The video is good too: Barbara Gaskin looks awesome, and Dave Stewart looks stupid. Thomas Dolby’s in it. People seem to often think Thomas Dolby is out of off of Dolby noise reduction, but they’re wrong about that too. People are thick.

God knows what the ‘b’ is. Sounds like a totally different band and I didn’t like it.

4

Clear vinyl, clear sleeve, clear insert. Couldn’t be clearer.

On Static Caravan. On one side tiny, toe-tapping beats meet smoove ambient chords and everyone wins. On the other, the music from when you die on a particularly cerebral Amiga game. Nice.

Also includes a little plastic transparency of, I think, Ingrid Bergman. Again, nice.

4

Yellow6 or Yellow 6? I’m going to say it “doesn’t matter, because syntactic whitespace is wrong and leave it there”. Yellow vinyl, yellow sleeve, yellow inserts. I’m not the biggest fan of yellow.

Bearos had Freeserve e-mail and website addresses. I built the clusters that ran Freeserve’s portal. Sun Cluster 2.1, I think. That was a rubbish product: just a bunch of shell scripts, really. Version 3 was good though.

Hold Up is more structured and concrete than a lot of Yellow6’s stuff. It has a full band sound, with nice drum programming, loopy/echoey riffage and swoopy keyboard 7ths spinning round without ever landing. Eventually it calms for a long, single chord coda. Its seven minutes pass very quickly.

On the ‘b’ is Series2 (again, no whitespace), which shares traits with something off one of those Ministry of Sound chill-out compilations. But That’s Not My Ministry of Sound Chill-Out Track. Its sounds are too harsh. Its drums are too earnest. Its tones are too dissonant. As time passes, it briefly switches personalities and indulges in a little chorused riffage, before slipping back into its I’d-like-to-relax-but-I-can’t mode. As people like to say these days: “lovely stuff”.

3

Beautiful burgundy vinyl (Grenadine, if my memory serves is a lighter, brighter red, though my days of mixological experimentation are far behind me and it’s a while since I poured any), and for the first time since Annie Lennox (for whom we have nothing but total respect) we have a singer. Two, in fact! Instrumentation is a guitar. Singing is lovely. Not a lot more to say.

Sleeve lovely also. Kind of Japanesey, in the way it’s folded, and in that it has a sort of obi-strip around it. I hate obi strips on records and CDs. What are you supposed to do with them? I’m not leaving the shrink-wrap on, so I’m left with a bit of folded paper that doesn’t even fit properly inside the sleeve, but which I can’t throw away. Those download cards do my swede as well. It’s nice to get the downloads, but I’ll probably never play them, and the damn card will fall out on the damn floor every time I take the damn record out of the damn sleeve for the rest of my damn life.

But we’re way before the download code card here: something like 2000 I reckon. Further Japaneseyness comes from the rubber stamped sleeve. They love a rubber stamp in Japan. There’s a shop near our old office, and rubber stamps are all it sells. I bought a couple. Good ones aren’t cheap.

Includes a double-fold-out Teenbeat catalogue, offering wares from Scaley Andrew, Sexual Milkshake, and Vomit Launch. (I have records by all of those.)

Also includes (as it’s one of those double-label things) a fold-out newsletter from Simple Machines, whose roster at the time included the likes of Leaky Chipmunk, Teriyaki Asthma, and Circus Lupus. As well as the usual records and $3.50 mixtapes of “bands who split up”, you could get Simple Machines apparel. You told them what you wanted, “sweatshirt, golf jacket, short-sleeved work shirt” and your size “really big, sorta big, medium, small”, then Jenny and Kristin would find something suitable in a local charity shop and silkscreen the logo on. “Guaranteed 100% pre-worn”. Their italics. Punk. Effing. Rock.

2

Nice textured sleeve – probably wallpaper. A grid of raised squares, one coloured – badly – with green felt-tip. White vinyl

#7 Goes East has a weird jungle vibe to it, and some proper classic drum machine sounds. I don’t know what the heck it is. It’s all over the place, but in a great way. Imagine some awful zero-budget ’70s film where some pith-helmeted explorers are in a big pot about to be eaten by cannibals with bones through their noses. This could soundtrack it. I’ve undersold this. I know I have.

Vig Charm, on the double ‘a’ mashes acoustic guitar picking with that excellent drum machine, underwater keyboards and some crunchy SID-type noises.

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