As we approach thee end of 2010, we open the gun locker, gaffer tape a flashlight to our pump action shotgun and slide into the vietcong tunnels of what went on this year. There be monsters there.
Being the all encompassing unstandardised weirdoes that we are, we make no attempt at ranking our choices, or to classify them by format. We just about manage to drop them into different buckets which aren’t quite genres, but a chromatic scale of the kirlian aura colours that they impressed upon us.
Let’s begin with black. Things that go slash in the night.
Chris Carter – The Space Between: Optimo music present to us a resurrected artefact from the dawn of our current philosophies. Instrumental sides to the freestyle battles of Gods.
Cold Waves and Minimal Electronics Vol. 1.: An urban survival guide for the modern existential hero. Can be read as a cyberpunk anthology, or as a collection of fashion tips for the cavalcade of the damned.
Florene – Homemade Extacy. Those blips you see breaking the speed limit in your radar, lt. Strumpf, as you swig on your hip flask behind a battered roadside advert in the scorching Texan night, they aren’t your average joy riders. No, they are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and they are looking for a rave.
Gatekeeper: Giza.Herr Mannheim, I think that upgrading the operating system of our robotic assembly line with a code sequence downloaded from an anonymous source located somewhere in the sidereal voids wasn’t such a hot idea.
Indian Jewelry: Totaled. Dorothy is bored in her house in the middle of the desert. A whirlwind takes her to a world of impossible colour . She jacks a pickup truck and storms down the yellow paths with her gang of metal men and talking beasts, under a black cloud of flying monkeys. Oz is toppled and anarchy ensues.
Liars: Sisterworld. This is the sort of pop music that fills the airwaves in those desolate places where prepubescent worshippers of a pagan cult slaughtered all the adults.
Married in Berdichev: Readying. Walking down the private collection of the Hunterian museum at night, where beauty stands still, preserved in aspic.
Model Man – Shouldn’t I be Dead by Now? Dry ice and airbrushed laser beams thunder over a brutal coastline as Tron’s less binary characters engage in fatalistic plans for their escape.
Mueran Humanos: S/T. The dead are not quiet in Mueran Humanos’ album. Within, walls continue upright, bricks meet, floors are firm, and doors are sensibly shut. Silence lies steadily against the wood and stone. And we who walk here… walk alone.
Psychic Ills- FRKWYS 4: Doomsday ragas kinaesthetically synchronised with the infra-red output of the Predator’s mask, while manhunting in the Arabian desert.
Puerto Rico Flowers: 4. Me and Bauhaus getting it on in the abandoned abattoir (a love story).
Salem – King Night: Filling 20JFG’s lungs with bewitching dreams since 2008, Salem deliver the album that brushes past any middling concerns of genre partisans. Exquisite beauty lurking beneath waves of delay and syrup.
Scorpion Violente: Uberschleiss. The Gabber Meinhof aren’t a wild bunch of decadent noisemongers hellbent on collapsing society by industrial means. No, they are the research & development department of the survivalist massive, prototyping sonic armaments to be deployed against the undead hordes crawling from an oversubscribed hell.
Teeth of the Sea: Your Mercury. Sexual transcendence you achieve while your flesh dissolves under the leathery wings of the bat people of The Beastmaster.
Xander Harris – Urban Gothic Synth drenched ode to Brian Keene. A mix tape of all our favourite horror scores ripped to shreds and assembled into terrifyingly catchy shapes.
We wrap up Gatekeeper week on day 5 with the video for Storm Column. The tracks arpegiated, gated, EBM dread gets the Outer Limits treatment in a video that begins with a suitably portentous track around the Statue of Liberty before quickly wrapping its stock footage into universe building spheres. Got that?
While we’re dwelling in the embedded video realm we thought we’d share with you a recording of current (and past, and future) 20JFG obsession Mueran Humanos. The Argentinian duo journeyed high above their current Berlin home to record some songs live to filmmaker Mariano Báez’s camera. The description that opens the video covers all the bases:
August 2009. Mueran Humanos go to the abandoned CIA Station at Teufeslberg (Devil’s Mountain) to use the fabulous acoustics of its higher dome. The dome was build to catch soviet radio frequences and therefore produces a natural amplification and huge reverb. Mueran Humanos use there a casiotone toy keyboard, a walkman with prepared tapes and a hammer as instruments. No amplification and no electricity were used and no effects were added afterwards. This is the real sound there direct to the camera. This is a small extract for their performance, filmed by Mariano Báez.
What follows is a minimal version of Monstruo, from their début album on Old Europa Cafe (who insightfully name-check Possession in their write up). Seemingly recorded at twilight the Berlin cityscape spreads, vertiginous, out behind them through a breach in the domes wall. The pale light brushing over their faces or, just as likely, casting them in silhouette depending on where Báez moves his restless camera.
The recording itself is breathtaking not just for the quality of the recording – something unusual straight to camera – but for the beauty the pair conjure up with a battery powered keyboard and their unamplified voices reverberating around the huge acoustically perfect space. For those paying attention, the tension – conjured first, by the inclusion of a hammer in the description and then by its threatening appearance in and out of frame – is finally released in the sparse appearance of percussion towards the song’s end.
Mueran Humanos’ album is out now and you can get it here. Which you should do. Because it’ll appear in our year end round-up-thing that may or may not take the form of some sort of list of music we liked. Which is the fashion these days, we understand.
Gatekeeper day 4 marks a return to the bloodbath most grizzly. This one is most definitely not suitable for work, small children, vampophobes or hemophiliacs. If you are from New Line Cinema and you are watching this, rest assured that the original footage was taken from a movie called ‘Sword’ starring Wallsey Snips as a teenage slayer ridding his high school of a Vampire conspiracy, led by Christopher Lee as the Demon Headmaster. Enjoy!
Whilst on the subject of untimely demise, we would like to pay our respects today to the brothers Troutman, via this lamentable jam taken from a forthcoming Mahjonng/Chandeliers split on Captcha records.
A cut from the lost Zapp album that was produced by Chris Carter, ‘Whip the Gift’ is ethereal, mournful robo-soul at its ghost-in-the-shell finest. A tragic tale of 2 brothers – one a flamboyant, sequined trouser wearing Talkbox virtuoso, the other a brooding power electronics-improv nerd, the fission of their creative differences impacted many fine works, until the day they fell out of balance and went into a Chernobylian meltdown. Recorded the day before the elder brother’s untimely demise caused by some suspiciously faulty wiring in his Korg VC-10, it is surely a beauteous thing indeed. But it is not all machine-grievance, the Chandeliers part of the EP also contains the guaranteed boogie-splice euphoria of ‘Sugarscoop’ – which is not leaving 20JFG’s bone encrusted DJ box for the forseeable future.
Upon the flipside, Mahjonng are also taking it there, maneuvering their Trans Am into a parking space once populated by Grabba Grabba Tape. We leave you today with the video for Running On Air. Mahjonng and Chandeliers ‘Roule’ EP is out on the 25th of next month on Captcha records.
Deep in the eye of the swirling bloodstorm, it’s day 3 of the Gatekeeper video unsheathing. ‘Mirage’ is ‘X-Mix 3 – Enter Digital Reality’ as re-shaped by the peyote-fueled visions of the cleric in a tribe of psychic desert beings. It’s soundtrack an environmental catastrophe where the Na’vi’s homeland is nuked by the remorseless machinery of the Nitzer Ebb alliance. In addition to Thunder Horse, this video was created in collaboration with the Lenox Brothers , a pair of brilliant twins from chicago who created many of the animations.
As you well know, 20JFG ain’t about no rabid hyperbolical statements. Hysterical maybe, but never rabid. And with that in mind, with the traditional hyperbole disclaimer in place, from the bottom of the chamber where our hearts should’ve been, we feel safe to tell you that Vision Air should be absolutely massive.
Massive in the sense of a celestial being, too large to be comprehended by mortal beings. Massive in the sense of our galaxy being one particle in a large hadron collider. Anyone who knocks around with 20JFG faves I am the Cosmos was likely to be worth several listens themselves, and we weren’t disappointed. Vision Air make the kind of high-grade electronic music that nineties Warp would sign, before they went missing in Maximo Park*.
We are sending in a search party cuz ‘Totem’ is an epic light-headed cruise across the upper registers of the emerald land, where we drift atop a gaseous carpet of microscopic sapphires into a cloud of static-electric bliss, and in our humble opinion it’s right up there with the Autechres and Clarks of this world.
Totem is taken from the Autumn EP which is available free from their soundcloud.
*cheap gag – we are of course loving the Rusties and Mohawkes of these days.
Also a casual reminder that some of 20JFG will appear in three dimensions in a Soju bar in Berlin for a few short hours this Thursday. Brought to you in association with Ree-A.L.T. Holograph devices and featuring the unrivaled musical knowledge of the Mo Probs.
Day 2 of the Gatekeeper video premier week brings the ‘Oracle’, and a terrifying depiction of what happens when a group of teenagers in Hackney try to order pizza using their weird Uncle’s ouija board. Press ‘Play’ and ye may pass through to the next day….
(A couple of weeks into the future)
The King mopes in the cyclopean boogie chamber of the Nastic Mothership, awaiting for the puny envoys from Mankind to offer something worth the survival of their civilisation. He is half a mile tall, and wears an outfit that looks like a Rammellzee extravaganza designed by Jack Kirby. He is impatient, rather keen on bombarding Earth with enough gamma rays to turn the end of year celebrations into a re-enactment of the finale of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The sergeants of the Nastic fleet stand ready by their planet-busting ordnances. The time of reckoning looms close, why should these hairless apes expect any better than the Betelgeusians or the Centaurians?
The King speaks in his vocoderised growl. The envoys tremble at the powerful vibrations.
-So what do you have to say, you 20jazzfunkgreats insects?
-Listen to us, master of all that wiggles in this sector of the galaxy, we know that our planet disgusts us, our leaders behave in petty and vindictive ways and have forgotten the ways of the funk. Our populace revel in the shallow cult of the Autotune. But don’t punish all for the sins of the few, we tell you, our planet has potential as a cultural contributor to the wider empire, we have brought proof with us.
-And what proof is this, scum?
The 20jazzfunkgreats envoys slide a couple of record sleeves from their pouch, and respectfully lay them at the feet of the sulking colossus.
-We have scoured the music temples of our planet for a worthy offering, mighty overlord, aware as we are of your enjoyment of the genuine synthetic sounds that most of our peoples’ abandoned with the arrival of the digital technologies. Take them to your turntableship at once and broadcast them across the fearless Nastic fleet, look into the eyes of your race and witness its joy. There are many more where these come from, goodness didn’t end with the 1980s. We don’t deserve to be purified quite yet, at least not all of us. We are happy to give you the coordinates of some of the most evil ones, for your magma drones to obliterate at once.
-Hrumph, you test my patience, you puny creatures. I should melt your whole species and recycle the remains into holy vinyl to be embossed with songs of tribute to the Booty gods, but who knows, maybe you are right and it is not yet time for your deliverance. Lackeys, take these musics to the Pastorius vessel, and beam the sounds up through the battle channel. This better be good, feeble midgets. Untold tortures await those who waste the time of the boogie master.
A tense wait ensues, then sound. 20jazzfunkgreats illustrate the sounds with inappropriate commentary.
Awesome image sourced through the very greatest Sci-fi-o-rama
Kristal Klear’s pristine synthetic boogie re-enactments have been provoking some waves amongst the ranks of the human resistance. Premier sites representing the coalition for the willing have already spoken about his output. This piece, by the name of ‘Persuaded Me’ sounds like Harold Faltenmeyer (who we know you dig) reading the newspaper in bed on a Sunday morning before going jogging across Beverly Hills, under a dawn sky whose perfect gradients are an imperfect approximation of your absolute wisdom. Or that moment of lazy reminiscence that never went into Daft Punk’s ‘Discover’, soothing pastel taking the place of strident glitter.
Kristal Klear’s Persuaded Me is included in a 12’’ record your hordes will surely be acquiring.
Gary War’s is perhaps a less obvious proposition, but one we are sure you will appreciate in your eternal omniscience.
In their most recent output, a 12’’ by the name of ‘Police Water’, released by the aptly named ‘Sacred Bones’ label they have grafted the synthetic flights of fancy of 1980s pop, as re-appropriated by a coterie of cold wave believers, into the bewildering charivari of echo and reverb that infects the opus of bedroom maestros such as Ariel Pink, John Maus or Paul Rosales. Layers of sound pile upon each other like Persian rugs of intricate design smoothing the metallic edges of the corridor of a spaceship jumping into weirdo hypersoul-space.
Did 20jazzfunkgreats convince the King of the Nastic? You will have to await until the New Year to find out. If the apocalypse didn’t happen, leave us a comment saying ‘thank you’. And for Christ sake, buy the records!
This week 20JFG is suitably honored to unveil to you five tales most chilling. Gatekeeper, those darkest overlords of surrealist EBM have conspired with Thunder Horse Video on a mind-bending video anthology, which accompanies their new EP ‘Giza’. Due to extreme gore content and dimensional rippage, the only place deemed suitable to unveil these dangerously awesome Ekphrasies, was on wretched underground snuff-film site ’20 Jazz Funk Greats’.
And so it is. Look in the mirror, say Gatekeeper 5 times. The only valid boarding pass on this voyage is your soul, so please have them open and ready. Now you are able to journey the chasm of fear that is the Gatekeeper Video Premier week on 20JFG. First stop on this advent calender of destruction is ‘Serpent’.
Serpent is a soundwave created by group of other-dimensional mystics, immaculately designed to paralyse unexplored areas of the human psyche with fear and delight. Upon launch from the wave playback device, it will burrow its way down to the spinal column, where it will take control of the human body by injecting the Front 242 serum directly into the nervous system. The subject will contort wildly in dancefloor context, whilst experiencing disturbing visions of scenes from large-boxed VHS horror films which were never made. This EP is literally a killer.