So forgetful these future-pop stars

Featuring : FKA Twigs + Tinashe

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Following up our recent dip into material that Arca forgot to put on his album, we look at some tracks that Tinashe and FKA Twigs forgot to put on theirs!

Tinashe’s album, Aquarius, produced in collaboration with a Test-Icicle, is widely considered to the be the R&B album of 2014 and featured what lots of people who claim to know about this stuff consider to be the out-and-out pop tune of the year, 2 On.

Vulnerable can’t be found on Aquarius – it was left relatively secret and safe on Tinashe’s 2013 mixtape Black Water:

Tinashe – Vulnerable (ft. Travi$ Scott)

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And as great as FKA Twigs’ LP1 was, it didn’t have Papi Pacify – an Arca-featuring diamond taken from her 2013 release EP2:

FKA Twigs – Papi Pacify

So forgetful these future-pop stars. Glad we fixed this for u.

Buy EP1


oil paintings by Marilyn Minter

On Edgar Froese and the Cosmic Jackpot

Featuring : tangerine dream

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We celebrate the disintegration of Edgar Froese with the high spirits that are warranted from the winners of the cosmic jackpot.

How come? Let us explain:

Quite probably the cosmos, as described by the bleak, vertigo-inducing drones of early Tangerine Dream, is indifferent to us.

But this does not mean that it doesn’t contain in its Spaces and Times moments of blinding beauty, moments of enhanced perception when our spirits become one with everything beyond, or moments of perfect placidity and happiness.

It simply means that, over infinite expanses of Space and Time, these moments are averaged into zero by the sheer cold horror of sensing a clockwork mechanism out to get us, by the alienation of banging our understanding against the steel bars of the uncertainty principle, by the sadness of knowing everything we are and we love will vanish into the void.

All of these feelings and emotions are contained in the ca. 19 minutes of “Birth of the Liquid Plejades”, with which Tangerine Dream begin their 1972 album Zeit.

This is music with the density of a black hole. It absorbs the totality of existence.

In the ominous undulations of its awful strings dwells Saturn, and his charnelhouse illuminated by the light of dead stars.

Encoded in the solemn pulse of its Terry Riley-esque organ arrives a message from the universal inception, which is the beginning of our birth.

We feel gratitude to exist in a universe where we can exist, and to exist in an area of the space/time distribution exposed to the vector of this music, an extension of that force once known as Edgar Froese.

Do you know what are the odds of this? The same as winning the cosmic jackpot. Hence our high spirits.

Tangerine Dream – Zeit

More info about Zeit here.

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Another explanation for our high spirits might be that we have been listening to some of Tangerine Dream’s soundtracks, and we feel like neon-eyed street fighters swinging full of feline nonchalance and existential ennui through streets of impossible cool

Tangerine Dream – Guido the Killer Pimp

Guido The Killer Pimp is included in the soundtrack for Risky Businesses. We heard it first in the legendary Bumrocks.

Let me be your art

Featuring : + Sia

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In a year (weehe last one) that saw seen a bold resurgence of art pop – St. Vincent, iamiamiwhoami, Dean Blunt, Owen Pallett, but mostly FKA Twigs – the mostly overtly “arty” and aggressively POP of them all was Sia.

Her backstory is riddled with death, addiction, phobias and Home & Away.

She has voided herself from public life, choosing to be represented by a blonde bob wig instead, most famously worn by a prodigiously cool 11-year-old dancer, Maddie Ziegler, in a video to a chart hit about alchoholism…

…and more recently in a grudge match against the asshat spawn of Indie, Shia LaBeouf, which courted the usual “It’s paedophilia! It’s violence against women, er, I mean, men, I mean Shia LaBeouf…?” sub-controversies in the newspaper and on the Tweeter.

Sia started out as the singer in an Australian acid jazz group in the early 90s. Her first solo effort (under the name Sia Furler) was a trip-hop album in 1997. Wikipedia fails to document whether or not she had a grunge phase.

Sia’s been in the game more than 20 years, but has only recently gone supernova – initially off the back of tunes she’d penned for other mostly female megastars, some of which are in this Spotify thing I made out of curiosity [WARNING MAY CONTAIN TRACE ELEMENTS OF CELINE DION]:

Let Me Be Your Art: Sia’s diva pop

Her own stuff is a lot better, though. As Chandelier proves, Sia has a belting voice. And not an ‘Odetta and The Blues’ belter of a voice, it’s a 6pm Saturday primetime on The Voice belter of a voice. This might raise red flags for a lot of people.

Sia’s most recent album – 1000 Forms of Fear – is pretty good gothic piano power ballad pop. BIG CHORUSES. Sad feelings.

You wouldn’t expect pop so reliant on gale force emoting to survive instrumentally. But eh, guess what… this Chandelier instrumental isn’t bad at all!

Sia – Chandelier (instrumental)

You can always do your own power ballad howling over the top of it, but it kind’ve works as an imaginary anime theme or Gustavo Santaolalla-type video game soundtrack.

Following up on our recent PC Music post, this was some proper good pop that we dug in that 2014.

You might like it. And if you don’t, here’s some Mø, also from 2014:

Mø – Slow Love

EVERYONE likes Mø.

More actual-pop next Wednesday!

Buy 1000 Forms of Fear
Buy Mø’s No Mythologies to Follow


 

gif from http://charlottefree.tumblr.com

Industrial music for the Cthulhu generation

Featuring : Stromboli

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If the Twin Peaks title sequence was set at night (and was actually the opening to Eraserhead) it would need a theme.

Stromboli – Waving

We hear:
Peels of thunder, ripped straight from the collective consciousness’s memory of mid-century b/w horror (or alternatively as a reference to the greatest video game opening cinematic).  A deep pulsing bass: both radar pings in the abyss and the prelude to soul grasping techno.  Guitars that sound like the rusty haunting of train tracks, hidden amidst thick smoke from an indeterminate source.  That sort of guitar sound that Michael Mann would make the cornerstone of a western (dear god the thought of that).

It’s the post-industrial sound of industry limping on.  Deserted by the zeitgeist — which is more concerned with the esoterica of financial and digital worlds — this industry falls under an occult spell.

Y’know, the good stuff.

Waving is taken from the self titled album by Stromboli (on Maple Death Records), which you can order right here.

Visiting shamanic spirit beast, do you mind if I eat you?

Featuring : Virtual Forest

factoryfifteen(Image from the Xavier Project by Factory Fifteen)

Although we enjoyed William Gibson’s The Peripheral and its brilliant premise, its moments of blinding material insight and kinetic set-pieces, we would have liked him to revel more on the weirdness.

The weirdness of that vacant London covered in an array of blinking Shards, like the real now of The Matrix made by better – if not more human – designers.

The weirdness that the Breaking Bad with 3d Printers near-future protagonists should have felt when confronting the technological wonders of the people of their future.

The weirdness that the body-shedding creative class of the future should have felt facing those primitives from a diverging past.

The weirdness. There was some, we wanted more.

Like at the beginning of the book, when mega-gaga skin-flayed conceptual artist Daedra West visits a tribe of neo-primitivist post-humans hanging out in the “incremental sculpture” of their city, organically assembled from recovered polymers somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. She arrives in a media Zeppelin, accompanied by an ensemble of white-china battle/PA droids.

That’s more like it.

Weirdness that could have perfectly been sound-tracked by Virtual Forest (Marco Bernacchia, aka Above the Tree), whose “Unconscious Cognition is the Processing of Perception” cassette in Yerevan Tapes documents a journey where physical extremism generates a trance state in which the real and the unreal melt into each other, exactly as it happens in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch visited by Daedra West.

Squirrelly sprites swirl above the pounding drone of the monster-factories. The sun rises, bouncing of the semi-conductive grids that tattoos the leaves of a forest assembled from post-apocalyptic leftovers. We blend into the patcher collective conscience, hallucinate in synch with a forest of code, invoke shamanic spirit beasts we proceed to devour to close the cycle of the island, of the trance-state, of the weirdness.

Virtual Forest – Spiritual Communications

Go and get the tape from Yerevan Tapes here.

Roadside Picnic

Featuring : Peter Kris

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The engine is off before we even begin.

In a small patch of grass between a swampy wilderness and the relentless drumming of the motorik highways, deep into a warm indistinct evening, our hero Peter Kris sits propped against a convenient tree.  He gazes out across the wilderness and from one of the more convoluted routes between his iris and brain, comes the sound of a guitar.  A guitar that sounds like a rumination.  You can hear the strings pondering the setting sun and the onset of the stars; the bright yellow eyes in the dark and the darting of wildlife in the gloom.  You can hear that this is all that there is and all that there will be.

Peter Kris – Few

Peter Kris is member of German Army, Final Cop, and Q///Q.  He’ll be releasing some of his solo stuff on tape soon.

WARNING: OBLIGATORY PC MUSIC POST

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20jazzfunkgreats loves the darkness. We’re named after a Throbbing Gristle album that was the last word in confrontational pop. We love Ike Yard, Blackest Ever Black, Black Rain and black holes.

But sometimes we need to scrub our soul free of all that soul-grime, pour Ubik-strength bleach into our insides, retire to our pink and blue pop citadel in the sky and just… disintegrate.

Which is why, probably right at the point where everyone is sick to the back stomach of the words ‘PC Music’ you find us musing hard over the problematic pop offered up by Hannah Diamond and AG Cook.

Hannah Diamond – Attachment

We were late to the hate-party on this one. Only stumbled across PC Music’s Soundcloud when our m8 Katie in LA sent us an email that included a link to Attachment and one word in the subject line: ‘why?’

It was a ‘Why?’ that said:

  • What the crap are you doing over there?
  • Why do you British people hate music so much?
  • Just… just fuck off.

But in less words. And, yeah, on first listen it was all a bit

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I tweeted it, I bullied it.

But… for every embarrassed squirmy feeling as I listened to the various PC Music avatars perform slightly incorrect versions of what in another world might have been chart hits, there was a mad fizzy dopamine rush – the kind that you might have got from eating too many sweets, taking too many drugs or just looking at too many bright colours and spinning round in an office chair until you vom.

What IS this.

Hannah Diamond – Pink and Blue

That ‘What IS this’ factor is what all music nerds secretly crave, because we’re so burnt out and bored of everything that is identifiable as pertaining to genre. PC Music, on the hand, was deliriously difficult to rationalise. Ah yes delicious sound drugs of strange origin… how I have missed you.

“I listened to it twice at 5 in the morning while high and drunk and still felt nothing,” Katie elaborated.

The songs of PC Music are steeped in the minutiae of modern love. Hannah Diamond moon-junes harder than anyone this side of Barney Sumner when she sings about imprisoning lost loves as pictures in her phone. The music is the cold, cosmetic, perfectly-vacuformed plastic of pop.

Hannah Dimaond for Dazed and Confused Magazine September 2014

But not just any pop. A recent Wire thinkpiece nailed it, not linking PC Music erroneously to vaporwave – as other pundits have – but to 90s chart pop. But not good 90s chart pop.  No, not the big budget hip-hop and nu-jack swing-inflected American productions like early Destinys Child, but the cheap, lurid British stuff.

Even more specifically, to me, PC Music sound like an updated megamix of the British dance pop smeared across that decade’s Now compilations. Defiantly anti-canonical, you’d be hard pressed to name a single one of these artists, who mostly knocked out just one or two hits before submerging back into whatever weird semi-corporate production line sludge spawned them. Your false memories will tell you the 90s were all about Cool Britannia, union jack guitars, ‘The Battle of Britpop’ – these are Total Recall implants. That stuff existed – unfortunately – sure, but in mainstream culture it was backgrounded by all this nameless pop noise. This stuff was inescapable at the time, and none of us can remember it now.

The Roots of PC Music (Spotify playlist)

It was deeply uncool. There’s little nostalgia to be mined of it. But there’s something fascinating about that – this shadowy anonymous brainwashing pop that cloaked our childhoods. In a sense, PC Music is the most singularly “British” music since grime.

PC Music clearly find it fascinating, too, though their reading of the era is a miasma of misremembering and necessary irreverence. If they’ve taken anything from that music they’ve embraced wholeheartedly its lack of cynicism, its simplicity, its heart-on-sleeve big dumb teenage sighs and the glassy-eyed major-key machinery of its production.

They’ve embraced that so much in fact, that it wouldn’t be inappropriate to suspect them of the sly piss-taking of faux-naivety. Are PC Music for real? Who knows, but sometimes there’s something so heartbroken and pure and bluntly unselfconscious about their clunky outsider pop that at times all it reminds me of is Xiu Xiu.

Wire compare PC Music to noise, and that isn’t inappropriate either. Certainly AG Cook and associates brew up a sound that’s more divisive, antagonistic and, yes, annoying than any of the complacent, expected oscillator shrieks of the now-conservative noise scene.

AG Cook feat. Hannah Diamond – Keri Baby

(If you need proof of this, we attended one of the Broken Flag anniversary alldayers a few years ago and there was something quaint and sadly humorous about seeing an age-withered Consumer Electronics man flop his bare belly out onstage, rub his nipple and shout SHIT and FUCK through a microphone – YEAH YOU TELL EM GRANDAD, MAGGIE THATCHER WOULD TOTALLY THINK THIS TRANSGRESSIVE NIPPLE DISPLAY WAS A THREAT TO SOCIETY OK NOW TIME FOR A LITTLE NAP it was sort of like a noise version of the Bad Manners-headlined seaside punk shows for old Oi! boys. However, when our hardened noise buddy Louis – who we attended that show with – went to a recent PC Music night in London he practically ran screaming for the exit.)

It’s noise that noise dudes find unlistenable – and what could be more perfectly offensive than that?

Sometimes what seem like deliberate wind-ups decay into what are actually quite sweet little tunes, though. And that makes me think of Saint Etienne.

Saint Etienne – Like The Swallow

Saint Etienne were another pop concept that flickered between arch referential geekdom and giddy heartfelt twee with an unashamed aggression. But listen to Like The Swallow from Foxbase Alpha and you’re reminded that, at heart, Saint Etienne were/are pop nostalgics/academics/historians besotted with their record collections, most of which came from lists of best records ever.

By contrast, there’s almost something nasty about the sounds PC Music draw from. They could hate this music as much as they might claim to love it. It’s beyond irony.

It’s a headfuck of a thing. Our advice is not to think about it, and if anyone asks you what you think about PC Music, just tell them: I think if Zoella was a pop star, this is what her songs would probably sound like.

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Facts we found out about the Now series while writing this post:

  • ‘Now That’s What I Call Music! 43′ (released 19 July 1999) was the first in the series to be released on MiniDisc. The last Now on MD was Now 48, released 9 April 2001
  • Now That’s What I Call Music! represented for cassette all the way up until 14 April 2003 and Now 54 (featuring, for context, t.A.T.u., Richard X vs Liberty X, Junior Senior and, perhaps strangely, a track off 100th Window by Massive Attack)
  • Vinyl did less well. The Now masterminds threw in the circular plastic towel after Now 35 (featuring both Pearl’s Girl by Underworld and Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something)  in November 1996
  • The weirdest song we could find on a 90s Now compilation was Paranoid Android. Though in 1997, to be fair, Radio One rinsed that song every bit as hard as MMMBop
  • (MMMBop was better.)

 

photograph is “tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles” by anthony samaniego