singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
16 October 2021
(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

More CD EPs which have possibly never been played. At least, when I look at them, I can’t recall what they are. Play ‘em, get rid of ‘em. Hello hello hello hello. Goodbye goodbye goodbye. That’s all there is.

Twenty minutes of analogue synthesizer noise that it’s generally easier and more fun to make than to listen to.

Actually though, not bad. It covers a fair bit of ground in its longer-than-it-feels runtime, from pure whooshing noise to the commercial sellout runs of clearly defined notes and, briefly, rhythm.

I wasn’t doing anything else when I played this, and I pretty much zoned out about halfway through: more in it and aware of it around me than actively listening to it. This, I think, is a good thing, and as much as music like this can hope to achieve.

4

I love synthesizers, but I’m not that mad on synthesizer music. I mean, Boards of Canada? Monumentally boring. Even compared to Autechre, which is saying something. You know people expected me to care when Daft Punk finally jacked it in? Pfft.

Don’t like much really, do I? But what I do like, I love Add N to (X). Here they are scraping the bottom of the same barrel in which the Rev Horton Heat found Liquor in the Front (Poker in the Rear), and giving it the usual MS20/Vocoder business.

This relic of the format wars is “CD2”. I don’t have CD1 by the look of it. We get the five-minute “extended” mix and a slightly shorter, slightly less good “bugger all mix”. Then, six minutes of “Wax Gravy”, which is another a horrible title. What’s a good title? Press Softly on the Brakes, Holly? Seamless Boogie-Woogie BBC2 10pm (Rpt)? Taste the Panda’s Ass?

The Poker Roll is pretty good, but no Take Me to Your Leader and certainly no King Wasp. Wax Gravy kind of sounds like Bongwater. I think it’s a sample of women talking about “intimate” cosmetic surgery. Do you know people bleach their bumholes now?

4

If you were to draw a line between The Carpenters and Sleigh Bells, Adventures in Stereo would be somewhere near the middle. Musical boy, nice-voiced girl; loops; kinda retro.

I loved the first three Adventures in Stereo singles (and the album on which they were compiled) but I never particularly got along with what came after. Oh, except International, that’s a 5 all day.

This single is from said later output. The songs, as ever, are short, and generally based around a looping motif. When this works you get a perfectly formed gem. An aperitif that leaves you sucking your metaphorical teeth and wanting more. When it doesn’t, the songs feel like unfinished sketches, or even doodles. But they at least don’t overstay their welcome. This whole four track EP is 8 minutes long, including gaps. It’s okay.

3

As I said, Adventures in Stereo only ever did short songs, so here’s Down in the City, clocking in at a snappy six minutes forty-two. It’s bookended by a pair of songs that only just pass two minutes between them, but never mind that, because I want to fit in with the modern world, and “take ownership” of being wrong. And apologise, obviously. For the inconvenience, and for the offence I caused. I understand now that what I said was wrong, and I’ve grown a lot as a person since then.

Here Adventures in Stereo move a little more towards the Sleigh Bells end of that line I mentioned earlier, with compressed-to-clipping guitars and some pretty heavy repetition. It’s really good.

4

Notice when I was listing boring electronic music earlier, I didn’t mention Aphex Twin? He’s alright, though I don’t have any idea what any of his music actually is. I don’t know what makes something IDM or EDM. I don’t know why Garage isn’t House. I don’t know if techno is a subset of hardcore, or vice-versa, or neither. I’ve never been to a rave. I’m too neurotic to take psychoactive drugs, or even to dance.

But a man as clueless as I can tell that this stuff is different to almost all other dance music. (Is that what you call it?) And it’s better. It’s subtler, more engaging, deeper. Like going from Steps to ABBA. The first track is mellow and smooth; the other three are noisy bangers. They’re all pretty good, though the last one drags a bit.

My mum sent over some old photos, and there’s one of me aged about 16, with my Frankenstein first synth rig, all driven by a MIDI-ed-up Spectrum, which crashed constantly. Reading about Richard James makes me I wish I’d pursued it. I could have a whole house full of soldered-together crap by now.

For the record, I also like North Pole by Submarine and Rave Signal 3, without knowing what either is.

3

Summer of ‘98. Let’s think. I was working at the Poly, and, I think, knocking about with someone whose real name I can’t remember now, but I do know I initially knew her as “Perl Girl”, because she was doing her dissertation or thesis or something with it. I drove about two and a half hours a day in a bottom-of-the-line, faded-red Astra. It had one speaker, and I had wired a Walkman into the dashboard. I used to tape radio programmes and play them on the way to and from work, so my soundtrack was whatever shit John Peel had got sent for nothing. Sometimes the wiring came undone and I had to listen to Radio 3. Eventually I got a proper cassette player, and I felt like a king. I still go through Radio 3 phases, but they never stick. I can’t get on with the opera.

This could be a big EP or a small LP. It’s got seven songs on it, but it only lasts about ten minutes. It’s pleasantly lumpy and catchy. You can tell how hard everyone is trying. Some of the songs are pretty good. They should have had the girl (they’re literally “All Girl”s, so don’t be calling me sexist) who sang Grass Skirt sing all the others.

All very agreeable whilst it’s happening, but there’s nothing here to stick in the memory. I bet they were all dead clever. I wonder what they do now?

3

Haven’t got a clue about this, but it’s on Duophonic. so it at least cleared some bar of quality. Romantika is beaty and vocodered, but also quite glossy, as if Add N to (X) had swapped the Wasp for a DX7. (And stopped being so mucky.) Has the DX7 had a renaissance yet? Surely it’s due one. Something needs to choke the analogue revival now we’re at the point where people want thirty grand for a Jupiter 8.

Macht Parat Den Apparat is very Add N to (X) but still less mucky. It’s excellent: driving and thrilling. Finally we revisit Romantika with what they call a “premix”, which is basically the first track with a crap drum machine.

Good sleeve: opens out into something more than you think it’s going to be. Looks like they were from Iceland. I think you’re supposed to be really into stuff from Iceland. Or you were at one point. It might be Korea now.

4

Whatever Britpop was, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t The Auteurs. Arch, cynical, literate, contrary, and exclusive. I can’t fit them, in any sense with rubbish like Sleeper and Pulp. I suppose they were loosely allied to Suede, but even that’s probably just because they toured together.

Anyway, here is “The Hitler of Britpop” and friends (though having read his books I’m not sure how friendly he was with any of them) delicately performing four songs of utter bleakness. Top stuff.

4

I don’t know if it’s just because it’s late, but lyrically I couldn’t pick anything out of any of the songs on here. You know where you are when they’re giving the photo to the psychic in Unsolved Child Murder, but why are all his books on loan since the Governmnent Bookstore closed? Oh hang on, I think he means they’ve closed the library, and he used to steal books from there. Even Hitler wouldn’t have done that. Or maybe he would. I don’t know. Seems to me the Nazis had a bit of a love-hate relationship with books. There are so many Nazi programmes on telly. Nazis on Drugs, The Nazi Titanic, Hitler’s Sex Life. All, I’m sure, scholarly works. You know that thing you don’t agree with? That’s how the Nazis started that is.

Libraries aren’t what they were, and largely, I think, because people aren’t what they were. The books on the shelves reflect the interests of the reader, and I can’t imagine Eliot or Larkin sitting at a green leather-topped table, in a pool of illumination from a brass lamp, poring over a Kerry Katona confessional, or the latest Hairy Bikers.

If I was on Buzzfeed or the BBC website I’d say Everything You Say Will Destroy You “predicted Twitter”, because you can always sketch a rough line between something someone once said, and something that happened later. But fortunately, I’m not.

4

Listening to The Rubettes is a wonder, that in any fair world would have been a hit. Maybe it was. I don’t know, and I’m not looking it up. I don’t care that much, and I don’t recommend you do either. Caring too much will kill you these days. Look at Luke Haines. Does he care too much, or does he care not at all? I don’t know. And I don’t suppose I care.

Sugar Baby Love was a three-minute reference to the past, and Listening to the Rubettes builds another layer on top, appropriating lazy nostalgia to stick two fingers up at lazy nostalgia. Beautifully.

If sarcasm could kill, the delivery of the line “Weren’t the nineties great?” would have seen me off. And people would have said “I think that’s how he would have wanted to go”, and they’d have been right.

I relate far too much to the whole of Get Wrecked at Home, even though I don’t get wrecked at home. Or anywhere else. Might do me good, once in a while.

5