singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
4 December 2020
(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

A lovely little thing. Stiff tracing-paper sleeve with red print.

45RPM SHORT-PLAYING DISK HANDLE WITH GREAT CARE| CLEAN BEFORE PLAYING

As if I need telling. It claims to be from the “Polytechnic Youth Sound Effects Centre”. I don’t know if, or how, that makes it different from the normal roster.

Rook Takes Town is spoken word over bubbling mechanical synth. It put me in mind of those early 80s industrial things. You know: Cabaret Voltaire, The Normal.

The ‘b’ is a spoken word piece over a minimal throb. The same, relentless, eighth-note hit by an analog snare and a synth with a resonant filter. Then drone. It’s the sort of thing you might put on in your home-made fallout shelter in Sheffield while you waited out the four-minute warning. But it’s five minutes long, so you’d never hear the end. The 80s felt a bit like that.

3

In the same sleeve as the previous one, six little abstract snippets which I’ll try to summarise.

  • Offset Two: a post-apocalyptic robot tries to remember folk music.
  • Offset Ten: am I awake yet, and is anyone going to answer that phone?
  • Offset Nine: fending off a robotic cicada with a bullwhip.
  • Offset Seven: one-minute soundtrack to A Canticle for Leibowitz.
  • Offset Eleven: leaky CV gate drips onto a line printer.
  • Offset Three: analogue kick drum tries to fix a shortwave radio in an aviary.

Nice.

2

A third “on the spin”, as football people like to say, on Polytechnic Youth. This is more straightforward, and we’ve been here many times before. Sci-fi sample, swept-filter analogue lead, result. I’m a sucker for this stuff.

The ‘b’ swaps the catchy melody for a chase-scene arpeggiator. Still great. The sci-fi samples are in French, for extra exotica points.

3

Obviously this is genius, and it sounds like it took five minutes to think of, write, record, press, and distribute.

The ‘b’ is a Real Scary Halloween Story, in which Fred’s “panties” become possessed by an evil spirit, and fly around the room, “knocking knick-knacks off the mantle”.

I love Fred. I just love him so much.

Emphatically not on Polytechnic Youth.

5

Whilst fully accepting Meriel Barham is terrific, I prefer my Pale Saints to have Ian Masters in them. This is a collection filler I found for a decent price. It’s all lovely, but it lacks the delicacy and spikes of the earlier records. Meriel sure has a great voice though.

The Comforts of Madness gets all the love, but, good as it is, In Ribbons is easily their best record. People don’t seem to have twigged that yet.

3