singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
14 March 2021
listening with headphonesAvid Acutus
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Klimax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
Luxman P-1u
Sennheiser HD800

I nearly didn’t buy this, because I thought I already had it. Box Bedroom Rebels already released a Mandarinaduck record, you see, and they don’t release multiple records by the same artists. Except when they do, like this time. Fortunately I twigged it, and got a copy.

So here we are again. I’d assumed I had already written about the previous release, but apparently I didn’t. So I won’t have to repeat myself any more than I usually do. You know the score, same “jokes”, same “facts”.

Mandarinaduck, then, do guitar pop music. Bit low-fi, bit Sarah, bit noisy. In fact, noisy to the point of some lovely sonic cathedralism on the (standout) title track. It’s pop music of honesty and yearning and melancholy, of half-there melodies and minor chords. It’s great.

Packaging, naturally, is also terrific, and there’s a tale on an insert which gives you some idea of how much stress and aggravation (as well as, of course, love) goes into these things. The booklet is lovely, and worth the effort. I like the guitar player’s hair.

12" single

The great thing about Slint was the enigma. That they casually left Spiderland lying around, and melted away. Everything they’ve done since, the ATP, the tours, the reissues, the unreleased material, the box sets, the documentaries, takes away another piece of what made them special. Even those lovely remasters Bob Weston did: you could hear the words, and it took away more. I love mystery. I love not knowing. I love filling in the gaps myself.

I don’t blame anyone for wanting to make a living. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to revisit previous work. I don’t blame anyone going to a Slint gig who wasn’t born the last time around. I don’t blame anyone getting into “old” music now. I blame myself for taking away that mystery. No one’s making me go to the gigs, and no one’s making re-buy the records. No one except myself, anyway.

So here we are again, this time with “new” versions of two of the six best tracks on Spiderland packaged in a copy-of-the-master-tapes way that reminds me of 1000 Hurts.

Good Morning, Captain first. “Mix 1”, apparently. Basically, it sounds brighter than the original. The guitars are buzzier, the bass lacks weight, and the drums are forward and sibilant. It sounds like the daytime rather than the night.

But even in this imperfect rendering, even after thirty years of playing it, it’s an astonishing song. Form; structure; execution: I don’t really know anything like it. Truly lighting in a bottle.

Breadcrumb Trail is presented in its “original mix”. Again, for the final mix, they turned down the treble and dropped the vocals a bit. We’ve not learned much about the artistic process.

How to score this? They’re two phenomenal songs. It sounds great. But what’s the point of it? Why did I buy it? I sort of hate that I have it, and really hate that I had to have it. The music clearly gets top marks, but the superfluity of the item itself can’t be ignored. Let’s split the difference and call it a