singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
30 May 2022
listening through speakersAvid Acutus
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Klimax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A mk 2
TEAD Model One

I’m having a clear-out of The Collection. Starting at the end and working backwards alphabetically (T-Z is along the floor, so I can lie down), I’m going through each 14-inch wide block of twelves, and deciding whether I want to keep each record.

Lots of stuff, I don’t have to think about: I’m not getting rid of Queer or Washing Machine, but there’s a whole bunch of greyer stuff, not least the things which I’ve had for most of my life and never played. I suppose if I haven’t played it yet, I won’t miss it, but I can’t easily explain what a complicated business this whole venture is. Should I really get rid of anything? Why should having three thousand records instead of five thousand make my life any better? Why not get rid of the lot? Why not keep it all?

So everything here is in the balance. If I like it, it stays. If not, it goes. Either way, I won’t be happy.

12" single

One point straight away for the insert, which says

Please turn off your loudness switch. We don’t come to your house and put salt on your food, so don’t put any fuss on our record.

Obviously I don’t have a loudness switch. But I do have some dip switches which tune the input capacitance on the phono amp, and I made sure I left them alone. Ironically, one of the songs is called I Will Not Make Inconsiderate Requests. Some people really liked the loudness button you know.

I had a memory of Ui being more electronic, but this is all guitar/bass/drums with a little bit of bongo. Oh, and a ton of surface noise. In parts it reminded me of Tortoise, but I’ve got Tortoise on the brain today, after deliberating for too long on whether or not to clear out all those remix EPs I have.

Quite brainy, this music, but also reasonably funky. Gets you tapping your toe, but in unusual patterns. Might keep it. I think “not sure” means “stay put”, like giving the benefit of doubt to the batsman in cricket.

12" single

Following on from The Two-Sided EP is this one-sided EP. I’ve no idea why you’d put five songs on one 33rpm side of a twelve-inch record and leave the other side blank, but that’s what they did.

Was J.W. Kellogg the cornflakes bloke they made the film about where Bridget Fonda got undressed? I liked Bridget Fonda, back in the day. And obviously Peter Fonda. I don’t have a strong opinion on Jane. I think I’ve only seen her in Barbarella, and that’s massively over-rated if you ask me.

This came out in 1998. I bet that’s when I bought it, and I’m as certain as I can be that I’ve never played it before. That’s twenty-four years on a shelf. What’s the point? Really, what’s the point?

I suppose I enjoyed the acquisition of records. It was a small buzz to find one with some key attribute; to buy it; to catalogue it. There used to be a pride of ownership in The Collection, because it was full of stuff that you couldn’t really get. No one else in the world had access to the exact set of music in my living room, and I think I liked that. I had friends with collections, and they were all unique. We’d play each other things, be impressed or happy at something someone found, of perhaps secretly covetous of it. Now, anyone with a computer can get everything I built over thirty years of collecting, and I think that takes away the uniqueness that made it special. I probably fetishised the physical artefacts in the past, but I don’t any more; they feel like a millstone.

The key attribute that led to the acquisition of this was that Von Hemmling was the bass player from The Apples in Stereo, and I collected all of their “…And Related”s. You’ve got to do something with your life.

This is pretty rough. It’s hard to judge from a distance music that was trying to be different, because the world’s had, in this case, twenty-four years to catch up. Take Charlie Hustle, which distorts everything beautifully. It’s kind of like a soft analogue bitcrusher. It’d take two seconds in any DAW today, and sound cliched, but in 1998 it took some work, and some skill, and probably sounded pretty crazy. It’s still the highlight of the record. No need for the rude samples.

I think I’ll keep it, but I’m not sure why.

12" single

If memory serves, the Venera probes went to Venus. Venus is extreme and inhospitable, and so is this record. It’s toppy, abrasive noise with danceable drum-machine beats and a SHIT TON of reverb. I reckon if you went to Venus, it might sound a bit like this, but with less top and more bass. The between-tracks surface noise is so extreme it makes me wonder if it’s deliberate.

It looks like Venera 4 are/were French, and in the spirit of entente cordiale I extend in friendship, the hand of the post-Brexit euro-exile British shoegaze fan to the French shoegaze community. I hope we can work out some sort of tariff-free shoegaze agreement, promoting a free exchange of shoegaze, and avoiding all the shoegaze being stuck on lorries at Calais, or in car parks in Kent.

12" single

Dropplike is the sound of an inadequately trained algorithm generating dub reggae, realising its failure, and gradually giving up. Liquid Leg is rattly loops. The remix of Dropplike makes more sense than the original. Nice sleeve, but it’s going to the second-hand shop. Someone else might enjoy it more.

12" single

“On bass, Sasha Frere-Jones. He wrote this”. Catastrophically, Ui devote the whole of one side to doing a free-form jazz exploration in front of a festival crowd. I didn’t make it to the end.

On the ‘b’ things don’t improve. Have a Good Time (all the time?) has a nice bass sound but it’s still a bit jazzy for my taste. One of my pet peeves in music is the “have a good time” record, where the lyric has been engineered to forever by played at weddings and suchlike. I’m thinking Celebrate by Chic. That Daft Punk one. That Black Eyed Peas one. That shut up and dance with me one. Most things by Take That, or Ed Sheeran. Have a Good Time does not fall into that category because it has no lyrics, and no one would want it played at their wedding.

Finally Skeletons (On Rice) explains that when we die we become skeletons. Do we? I guess, eventually you would, if you were buried, but who gets buried these days? There isn’t the room. Also, it’s skellINGtons, idiots.

12" single

You know that feeling, when you’re listening to Tortoise, and you think “this is good, but I wish it was a bit more wilfully difficult”? Or when you’re listening to Autechre and you think “This is good, but I wish it had a bit more jazz”?

Fortunately, here are Autechre, remixing Tortoise, bullseyeing the perineum twixt Post-Rock-Jazz and algorthmically-generated-ambient-electronica. And you know what? It’s pretty good! Adverse Camber is rhythmic and mechanical, but messed up and uneasy. To Day Retrieval is a skittering, drony soundscape to zone out to while you do a crossword.

12" single

Driven by a kick drum that belongs to another record, or at least another volume, this one is much more your standard remix. I guess it’s minimal, but there’s a fine line between minimal and boring. God that kick is so loud. I reckon if you played this in a club, it would cause mass organ failure. I don’t know what song is being remixed here, but I think I caught a bit of Djed about half way through.

On the ‘b’, the kick is somehow even louder. I’m tempted to keep this just in case anyone ever questions the bass response on my stereo, but I can’t imagine any other circumstance under which I’d want to play it. The samples could have been anything; it’s basically ten minutes of doof-doof-doof that puts me in mind of being in a club, and probably the best thing about being old is never having to contemplate going to a club ever again.

12" single

Records were cheap once, and I’d buy stuff for no real reason other than something to do, which I suppose is why I have a small cache of To Rococo Rot records. I think possibly I once liked a girl who liked them. They’re really boring, and all three tracks on here sound to some extent like a phone ringing. For several minutes. I also listened to the Paris 25 EP but I have nothing at all to say about that, not even some smart-arsed not-funny snark. The sounds aren’t interesting. The rhythms aren’t interesting.

You can say what you like about Paul McCartney, but Paul McCartney was smart enough to realise that if you repeat any old shit enough times it will stick in people’s heads. To Rococo Rot take this approach to its logical extreme, and are even more irritating. They are the thinking man’s Crazy Frog.

12" EP

I always felt like I ought to like The Wedding Present. Thing is though, they always sound exactly the same to me, and I find David Gedge’s singing annoyingly affected. They’ve done some good songs, of course, and three of them are here: Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, Shatner, and My Favourite Dress. But they all sound half-hearted and lethargic, lacking the noise and fury that made The Wedding Present work. The bum-tish bum-tish drumming is pretty weak too. A band’s only as good as its drummer, kids.

The fourth song is a cover of I Found that Essence Rare, which is probably the best (and definitely the loudest) thing here. But if you want to listen to that, I very strongly recommend the Band of Susans version. That’s a five.