Category Archives: Way Through

20JFG podcast: Way Through

Featuring : Podcast + Way Through

WTP

 

There are days, in that period where English Autumn greets biting Winter, when the cold, the damp, the grey and the ochre come together like a synesthesic brew that intensifies our sensations and sharpens our memories, helping them cut through the psychic barriers of the everyday, and transforming our day into a ramble down grounds in spatial-temporal flux , swept by ghosts from the past and feelings that are part history, and part dream, ours and our forebears’.

In other words, these days do to us the same as Way Through’s wonderful music, and this mixtape that they kindly put together for us.  As usual, you can guess/identify the songs on the side if you are so inclined.

Way Through 20JFG Mixtape

You can get Clapper is Still here.

We also use this occasion to congratulate Chris and Clare (Way Through) for TEN years of Upset The Rhythm, living proof of the power of cool + positivity, vanquishers of the evil forces of irony that so often threaten London’s karma, and summoners of many a wonderful sound creature now hosted in 20JFG’s playlist, and also our hearts.

Thank you! Here’s to another 10, at the very least!

And a small warning

Our posting schedule in the run-up to Christmas will be somewhat erratic. Apologies. But don’t worry, there are reasons for this, all will be explained, and worth it for you.

Concrete folk

Featuring : Way Through

way through_denge

Way Through have recorded a travelogue of potent sites of England. It is called Clapper is Still, and it is itself a place of places we enter as the music colours the silence. It is garish and awesome and melancholy and rowdy, and it essentially differs from the provinces defined by its many companions in 20jazzfunkgreats ever-evolving mixtape, for its concreteness, which we define three-ways:

Concreteness as in the building material. By contrast to the ethereal, brooding, threatening and supernatural sounds that we often focus on, Clapper is Still seems to us built of the same stuff where people lived and live. Stone, brick, and why not, concrete.

Way Through are aptly described as ‘pastoral punk’, but their music isn’t oblivious to the shape of things today. It recalls the fields that once spread under the grey crust of a car parking in the English hinterland, but doesn’t avert its gaze from the present like you don’t avert your gaze from the lines in a face weathered with age. To do so would be to deny life, death and history.

Concreteness as in specificity, the strength to become grounded in its sources like a village and its people do with the environment whence they draw sustenance, to consider the past and the details of the lives it contains as something that is real rather than spectral, something that lives rather than haunts. It shares with our friends the Hauntologists its obsession with the old time traditions, folk dances and legends, but aims for the source of their feeling (and traces their lineage) with the eye of the historian rather than sweep of the mythologist.

This concreteness conveys emotion, as with the exploration of Imber and Tyneham, two villages commandeered by the Army for firing ranges and training early in the 20th century, their people expelled and their buildings bombed ‘to keep men free’.

There is a rage in the cycle of drums and guitar of this song, a stance of defiance instead of the admission of defeat implicit in a mood of eeriness or nostalgia. Also a bounce, like that in the step of the jolly ramblers who now roam these places which, excised from history, were also protected from farming and development, re-conquered by wildlife, living slices of land like many other songs in Clapper is Still.

Concreteness as in musique concrete, music unwritten but captured raw from the landscape whose truth it reveals epiphanically as it intermingles with the memories/reactions that landscape awakes in Chris and Claire. Melody and noise hold hands and dance, like community and entropy in the festivities ghosting their way through the downs and dales of this album/place.

Way Through – Imber and Tyneham

Clapper is Still will be released on the 11th of November. You can listen to another song from it, Roughtin Lynn, here.

Best of 2011, part IV: Is it 2012 yet?

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopaedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right. – Umberto Eco

The 20jfg bestof lists attempt no such feat of greatness. We are as confused by the infinity of stuff out there as any being. It’s fun to look back at our best of lists in retrospect, and i guess in this way they are cultural documents for ourselves, which we hope you also enjoy.

 

This is our final bestof lists for 2011 – we probably missed some of the things we loved, and you loved so let us know any in the comments box.

 

Mind Over Mirrors: I’m Willing to Stagger Bursting forth with a droning, lackadaisical klaxon rippling through the heavens, I’m Willing to Stagger twists and distorts its tape delayed harmonium into something completely off-worldly. Mind Over Mirrors has managed to recreate that lost La Monte Young soundtrack to the birth of the universe. A huge pounding piece of processional music that locks you into it’s footstep grove as hard as any percussive track can ever dream. If the temple at the end of the universe were designed by Gaudi, its aisles measured in kilometres and its entire focus, an exposed space above the alter where the final rip in space will occur – this would play, as millions of dignitaries assembled among the alcoves and observed the refolding of the universe’s expansive fabric.

Mind Over Mirrors – I’m willing to stagger – Part 1

Buy: as far as we can tell it’s sold out

 

Pechenga: Helt Borte Pechenga is Rune Lindbæk and Cato Farstad. The story goes that after recording this album in 2007 at Lindbæk’s grandmother’s house they self released the record in Norway where it sold 57 copies. Evidently one to found its way to Smalltown Supersound‘s Joakim Haugland because that label’s just re-released it. Thankfully. It’s an incredibly beautiful ambient work, full of a sense of infinite blank vistas and silent winter light. Where Thomas Köner traverses beneath the ice, here we often soar above, watching our perfect black shadow dance along the white sheets below.

Pechenga – My Frozen Spirit

Buy: Helt Borte

The Advisory Circle: As The Crow Flies The cracks in our memory have always been open to the sounds produced by Ghost Box and 2011 was no exception with As The Crow Flies providing those fleeting glances out the corner or your eye of something not being quite right. Pastoral electronica pushed by undercurrents of the other side.

The Advisory Circle – As The Crow Flies

Buy : As The Crow Flies

 

 

Peepholes: Tunnels Having lapped up their last EP on Upset the Rhythm and it’s epic closer Carnivore we feel suitably prepped for the increasingly wide pendulum swings by the band, out and away from short bursts of kinetic drum/keyboard frenzy. New mini-LP Caligula opens with another long builder, a Mayan temple of an incline up to a plateau of the breathtaking and bloody.

It’s 3rd track Tunnels that stands out. Synths are no longer ripped apart oscillation by oscillation as they struggle against voice and drums. Instead they’re allowed to form the stem of Tunnels with an honest to god drum machine as accompaniment. They drift over plains and open up blue/black vistas for Katia’s mesmeric sing/chanting to roam. There are minor traces of early Techno floating around but these could well be the shadows of Techno’s own progenitors: the electronic minimalism of your pick of Cold-Wave bands.

Peepholes – Tunnels

Buy: Caligula

Bubble Club: the Goddess A balearic hymn to an unnamed Goddess that masters the art of gentle euphoria so completely, combines cosmic-disco tropes with such loving care, that it becomes, by the end of its seven minutes, one of the most moving things we’ve heard in a long time. Synth stabs, co-opted African rhythms, cooing male vocals under waves of arpegiated bliss: Bubble Club’s The Goddess is one of the very reasons we write this blog and we can’t praise it higher than that.

Bubble Club – The Goddess

Buy: The Goddess

 

The Stepkids: The Stepkids So your kid brothers stole your Hall & Oates tape that had Sly & The Family Stone on the other side, and got confused as to which was the cool in ‘Mojo’ terms side, cos lets face it you didn’t really know either. Dam-Funk produced the entire resulting jam and stuck it out on Stone’s Throw records. Yeh – this is kinda what happend.

The Stepkids – Santos and Ken

Buy : The Stepkids

 

Mushy: Faded Heart Faded Heart is the field recording of a night of slo-mo psychic bloodshed at a crumbling coliseum, a debut of uncanny mystique and ghostly enigma accomplished beyond the glummest dreams of most drag apprentices. It drenches pages torn off Zola Jesus’ grimoire in the thick waters of the swamp where Christine Baxter drowned, deep in the woods of a death country shrouded in thick ambient mist, roamed by shapeless beasts of Lynchian provenance.

Mushy – Losing Days

Buy: Faded Heart

 

Cult of Youth: S/T If Songs:Ohia read All the Pretty Horses, then Cult of Youth are into Blood Meridian. They make Appalachian black magic, a satanic barn dance where the damned spin in dervish-like abandon over pagan symbols carved with Bowie knives. ou can almost see the bald and sweating dome of the Judge towering above the filthy scalp-hunters, an archetypical Dionysian troubadour which recurs through the ages – Flipper, Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, Country Teasers, GG Allin, now this – to enthral us with tales of beautiful massacre. They are doing it so that we don’t have to, and we owe them for that.

Cult of Youth – The Lamb

Buy: S/T

 

Drums Off Chaos and Jens Uwe Beyer: Magazine 3 In Magazine 3, Drums off Chaos (Jaki Liebezeit’s percussion ensemble) and Jens-Uwe Beyer channel the millennial wisdom of a shaman who stares into the sky and sees the future instead of the past, because the gods are up there, and through the rituals codified in this music, the tribe eventually becomes them. It evokes an alternative branching in the life-story of Gang Gang Dance, where, after God’s Money, they decided to kneel at the altar of DRUM with the Boredoms, instead of trotting down the shining path to become the best dance music band in the world.

Drums off Chaos and Jens-Uwe Beyer – Second Half

Buy: Magazine 3

 

Way Through: Arrow Shower Way Through capture the joy of the elusive English sun breaking through a sky which gives and takes away, to shine upon the communal procession by which the years are counted. It is rather fitting that it is Chris and Clare who are behind it, seeing as their wonderful London happenings bristle with the unfakable communitarian spirit of the true, archetypical festival.

Way Through – Salmon Patch

Buy: Arrow Shower

Prince Rama: Trust Now Trust Now is a prodigy of exo-transformation. Upon slipping into it, we witness the world around us shape-shift. Boarded up shops become desecrated temples, malls are replaced by golden Ziggurats. Where not a minute ago stood gaudy theatres peddling crass pantomime, we now see impossible coliseums premiering Alejandro Jodorowsky’s latest psyche-drama. Fractured glimpses of the alternative present that would have been if the high and beautiful wave had never broken.

Prince Rama – Portaling

Buy: Trust Now

 

Yacht : Shangri-La You don’t get many concept albums in these days of the mp3 download but Yatcht’s second album as a duo – Shangri-la – is a concept album in the very old school sense. Unlike Rick Wakeman’s The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table On Ice Yatcht’s Shangrila is less of an exercise in self indulgent wank, and more of an exploration of their record collection. No matter what you feel about The Gaia hypothesis it’s difficult not to feel a little more like we need some earthly care and fun while listening to Shangri-La.

Yacht – Dystopia (The Earth Is On Fire)

Buy : Shangri-La

 

Ga’an: Black Equus and S/T album Ga’an are a steel Hydra coiling and snapping from the undifferentiated sludge of contemporary music, an enigmatic troubadour staying for a night at the inn of this reality, regaling us with uncanny ballads about the chaos without so that we can writhe in gorgeous nightmares when we go to bed. They take off like Magma, into the heart of darkness like Goblin.

Ga’an – Arms Can Speak

Ga’an – Servant Eye

Buy: Black Equus; S/T

 

Gold Zebra: Love, French, Better Minimal synth throb passified the gap left by the italians for most of this year by feeding us somthing a little colder.

GOLD ZEBRA- Love, French, Better

Buy : Love, French, Better

 

The Haxan Cloak: S/T The Haxan Cloak suck us in into a vortex which is Edgar Allan Poe Northern Sea dirge and modern composition drone, also the dark cave where pre-human tribes developed their first myths, which in a barely evolved form haunt us to this day. Like the Cave of Forgotten Dreams, if directed by Lucio Fulci.

The Haxan Cloak – The Fall

Buy: S/T album

 

Pink Skull : Psychic Welfare Struggling to try and create minimalism, while having too many things you loved love to put into an album, made Pink Skull’s Psychic Welfare a grower in 2011.

Pink Skull – Mu

Buy:  Psychic Welfare


Made Do and Mend Finders Keepers consistently release fantastic records, no mater what year it is. This year, like many uk independents, they suffered badly after a fire in the distribution warehouse of PIAS. The make do and mend compilations were issued to alleviate this situation, and turned out to be one of our favorite compilations of 2011.

Jacky Chalard – Super Man, Super Cool

Buy : Make do and mend

 

Bad Passion: Liquid Fire This is music bought into at both ends. The wry smile of an angelic voice crooning “it’s really got me buggin’” is married to an elaborate sexual metaphor involving badminton — but at the same time the music does that transporting thing, like Low or Galaxy 500 (when you concentrated on the voice and let the guitars fade away). A transporting thing that makes you fall in love with the heartbreaking sound while simultaneously being entertained by the knowing sexual intent of the words.

Bad Passion – Liquid Fire

Buy: Doin’ it Slow

 

And finally…

A huge shout out to our prodigal son at Tri Angle. Righty cleaning up on the ‘best of…’ lists wherever they appear. Afraid of the spectre of nepotism we probably don’t cover the output of the label as much as we should but releases from Balam Acab and Water Borders would make anyone’s list. Interesting times in 2012 as Robin follows in the footsteps of Kode9, Gas and Dub Narcotic Sound System and starts putting out his own music. If its anything like the lineage above, we’re psyched.

Buy: All the things

 

So is it 2012 yet? Well, for 20jazzfunkgreats the answer is almost. Thanks for being with us in 2011, sub-normal service will resume some time in 2012.

 

For gifts of food, and beer and blood

On Plough Tuesday, a Straw Bear marches down the streets of Whittlesea and dances in front of its houses in exchange for gifts of money, food or beer, not that different from what many bands do these days, same as it ever was.

This is another of those millennial English folk traditions that the 20jazzfunkgreats endorse and cherish, echoing as they do the cycles of an ancient land spinning through the eternal rerun of the seasons at their own rhythm, connected to itself and the Earth, the Stars and the Secret World in ways that we nowadays attempt to recreate psychedelically, always falling short because the cognitive frame underpinning such link is lost.

When we look back this way, we usually draw on legends of witches and pagan rituals, beautifully creepy animal masks, sacrifices and black-hoofed beasts trampling the fields, and the rest of it, tacitly shelving the Wicker Man in the horror section of the DVD store, rather than in the mythical ethnography where it actually belongs.

Salmon Patch, which closes Arrow Shower, Way Through’s (i.e. Upset the Rhythm’s Chris and Clare) excellent debut (pre-order here), captures that other rarely recalled side, the joy of the elusive English sun breaking through a sky which gives and takes away, to shine upon the communal procession by which the years are counted. Its awesome post-hardcore-folk jangle delves into a pond of static that is, in fact, a field recording that Chris and Clare took at the aforementioned festival, before splashing back with a triumphant chorale. It is rather fitting that it is Chris and Clare who are behind Salmon Patch, seeing as their wonderful London happenings bristle with the unfakable communitarian spirit of the true, archetypical festival.

Way Through – Salmon Patch

And as a footnote to what we just described, here you have the instrumental for Willow’s Theme, which in its vocal version soundtracked Britt Ekland’s bible-basher psyche busting sex spells at the Wicker Man’s Green Man Inn. Utterly breathtaking.

Paul Giovanni and Magnet – Willows Theme

As included in Finder Keeper’s Willows Songs compilation.

Horrid Red’s religion is of a different sort, for this is after all a band of Comanche raiders rather than sedentary gatherers. Their rituals and songs pay tribute to the gods of metronomic velocity, kaleidoscopic bloodshed and enlightenment through beautiful strife, and to the enemy, beloved because it helps resolve their violent algebra.

If you were to follow their trail of carnage across the vast steppe, reach their leather tent, slide inside and sit with them during a rare moment of calm spent sipping on stolen elixirs, and you asked them what is best in life, this song would be your answer. And Conan would be proud.

Horrid Red – Horrid Life (Burial)

Horrid Life is included in the Celestial Joy LP. Listen to the rest (and acquire) here. Coming out on tape in Brave Mysteries soon.

The Land is a Dangerous Place and the Sky Wants You Dead

its-dangerous-to-go-alone-take-this

Maxmillion Dunbar – Slave to the Vibe

After several hours of walking you find yourself at the edge of a clearing deep in an ancient wood.  This is the first time you’ve been able to see the sky, obscured as it has been by the tree’s smothering canopy.

Way Through – Imber Tyneham

The sky burns blue like fire.  A searing blue that begins to cut into your skin like an infinity of laser beams.  You wrench yourself from its line of fire and dart for the cover of the trees.

Your burning arm brushes against one of the many large flat leaves that sprout from the bark.  Instead of the bite expected of molten flesh against, well, pretty much any solid object; your brutalised nerves instead report a cool, calming sensation.

Thug Entrancer – Death After Life I

As you wrap your burns with the antiseptic leaves, you scan the tree line.  The same strange species stretches out forever.  The massive trunks holding up a shield of green, protecting all below from the sky.  The endless symmetry of the trees: a hymn to Mandelbrot played out across countless acres.  Easy then for your eyes to make out the rare exceptions.  The fleeting glimpse of colour, movement and shape that goes towards identifying the shy inhabitants of this land.

You move through the forest warily now.  Eyes keenly aware of the pools of light that signal death.  You approach these pools at oblique angles, using the gap in the trees to track your approach to the looming mountains.  The mountains that will block out the sky.

Moan – Summer Camp ’79

The incline is stepper now.  The trees still grasping the ground and sheltering you from the sky.  The uniformity of your view is starting to fray.  The grey slate of the hills beginning to pepper your peripheral vision.

Philip Glass Ensemble – Music in Twelve Parts (part 3)

As the trees thin further it is time to make a choice.

Above sits a monastery.  You climb the steep cliffs and wearily you push open its great doors.

Below lies a path that leads to a gorge; to lands hidden by the mountain’s many folds.  If you chose this route, go here.

or

Wearily you push open the door to the monastery, go here.

2013 References

We have spent a substantial part of 2013 in heaven i.e. Maxmillion Dunbar’s gorgeous Woo, and studying the tribal socio-geography of Way Through’s Clapper is Still. Thug Entrancer’s Death After Life is here. We never got time to write a review about Moan’s incredible Bookshelf Sanctuary, but we’ll do so in 2014 because we can travel in time, thanks partly to the super-powers we gained when we were exposed to the cosmic radiation of Philip Glass’ Music in Twelve Parts live at the Royal Festival Hall.