singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
25 October 2020
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A mk 2
TEAD Model One

But starting off with a new one. Heinously expensive of course, but I like Lake Ruth, and it pushed me up into free postage, making it effectively half-price. So get off my case, OK?

Nice sleeve. Black-and-white, op-art, diagrammatic. Puts me in mind of something from the 1960s. As, to some degree, does the music. But good, avant-garde sixties, not the rubbish people actually listened to. Your obvious touchstone here is Pendulum era Broadcast, but with the distortion traded for a nice smooth analogue synth.

Includes a proper download code. By “proper” I mean “Bandcamp”, which means real FLACs. It galls me these days when your digital download is a zipful of low-to-medium bitrate MP3s.

4

Both sides of this go for the hypnotic rather than the melodic. They’re okay, with plenty of space and great sounds, but, today at least, I didn’t properly engage with them. They’re the kind of music for which the 7” single isn’t suited. You need an album of it, probably a CD, so you can just sit there and soak in it, zoning out.

Decent, but certainly not in the same league as the Wurlitzer Jukebox one we had the other night.

Includes as an insert a snippet of a Dulux colour chart. Is “Dulux Dog” an actual type of dog yet? Is there a “Dulux Dog” section at Crufts? If not, they’re missing out, because it would make their weird hyper-specialized world more accessible to people like me who are perfectly content to only know Alsatian, Labrador, Sheepdog, Handbag Dog, and Dulux Dog.

3

A four-way split on Simple Machines. The back cover presents two unsolvable maths problems. Someone’s made a decent stab at them, and I think the “see me” is harsh. You are asked to send in your own “creative” solutions. Sounds a lot like the maths exams I did at university.

In homage to the style of the “other releases” insert:

  • Tsunami: archaeologists unearth missing link between shoegaze and grunge.
  • Superchunk have a fuzzed up earworm of extreme crunchiness.
  • Rodan bring mathpunk so precision-tooled it will make you question your life decisions.
  • Unrest will make you pogo til the woman downstairs bangs on the ceiling and threatens to call the cops.

Sadly the insert tells us that as of 1993 they were no longer doing the thing where they would put the logo on second-hand clothes as merch. They couldn’t find enough big clothes, and all the golf jackets had gone. I don’t even know what a golf jacket is. It also tells us Roto Chipper Paint Remover had a tape out, and that is was destined to become our favourite cassette. What do you think about tapes coming back? Even with some distant soft-spot for tapes, I’m mildly irritated by the transparent hipster contrariness of it.

3

When I first heard this I took it literally, and thought it was about someone whose romantic partner others see as “beneath” them. Then I found out it was about Tony Blair and George Bush Jr. But it’s as perfect as a Necker cube in its ability to take on whichever perspective you choose. A terrific piece of writing, and an absolute pop banger to boot.

I’m With Stupid sounds somehow different to the album to me, but I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s on a picture disc and I’m sitting off-axis.

Girls Don’t Cry is brief and sad.

Nice pictures on the sleeve, apparently from the same shoot as the sleeve of Fundamental.

5

I imagine that on release this was all clear: clear vinyl in a clear inner, tracing paper sleeve in a clear bag. But the vinyl is that colourless-but-not-clear stuff, and age has yellowed the tracing paper, so now the whole thing has taken on a melancholy rheuminess.

It’s a 33rpm job (too many of those today: too much switching) so Magnétophone get the space to stretch their legs on the ‘a’. It’s generally hard clickiness over seasick see-sawing pads, with filter resonance that sounds almost like birdsong. Over time it gets rougher, gradually growing into a controlled cacophony.

The ‘b’ has two tracks. The first is called Who Would’nt Like You, which is either the most grievous abuse of the apostrophe or a typo. Shall we give them the benefit of the doubt? Musically, it’s a doodle. The final song is minimal synth chords.

I like the title and I like the packaging, but none of the music on here did a lot for me. It all sounds very cold, and that’s just how it left me.

2

I remember Joy Zipper as a cool, thin, distant dream-pop. But 1 is a chugging indiepop/indie-rock number (pun intended: I really am that desperate). It’s not entirely my thing, but it’s effective. Certainly a great tune.

The ‘b’ is more what I expected. female vocal, acoustic guitar, dream imagery.

They look a very handsome couple on the sleeve. I like his shirt.

4

I had never heard of this before, but it looks like it’s some True Stories/Little Creatures era song that was released to promote a Greatest Hits record.

There’s a sticker on the front saying “includes Road to Nowhere. It’s hard to think who might be in the market for a Talking Heads outtake but would lack a copy of that.

3

Roddy Frame is so clever at making up songs. They’re full of funny little tricks and smart turns and unexpected changes, which all fit together like a precision machine. That’s not to say they’re academic or heartless, because they’re anything but. I know he’s had a few hits, but you have to wonder why he’s never been massive. I also always wonder if he still has those Neil Young albums buried in his garden.

The ‘b’ is a cover of Jump, which is sadly topical at the moment. Though the keyboard riff, the guitar acrobatics and pretty much all of the ROCK have all been removed, and it’s still a great song. Though I can’t claim to be a fan, I did like to watch Eddie Van Halen play the guitar. Technical accomplishment aside, has anyone ever enjoyed anything more than he enjoyed that?

4

Another four-band split, this time on Ochre, from 1998.

Stylus have a Beaudelaire poem and an LFO.

The Freed Unit do A Baby is Crying in Outer Space; a title we could pull apart for so many reasons. They go as crazy with the panning as Stylus did with the LFO rate. There is, undeniably, something about some knobs that they just have to be turned. The Freed Unit were pretty good, and I think they’re the standout here.

Acrovar do that shimmering wah-wah-wah and whooshy filter sweep thing that all these type of bands did at some point. I’ve done it myself. The Azusa Plane pretty much made a career out of it. Not groundbreaking, but extremely pleasant. Tele:funken remixed it, by the look of things.

Brickwerk talk some science over a droning bagpipe type sound and under some random notes from some very crude tone generator, then play a glockenspiel badly. Less cliched than Avrocar’s song, but also less enjoyable. They appear to be “…and related” to Longstone, who we heard previously in this bundle of stuff.

The sleeve is very nice. Vermillion and yellow, with pseudo-scientific diagrams and a fixed-width font. The insert is lovely too, with discographies and postal contact details.

I don’t know if there were other volumes, but if there were, I think I’d like them.

3