Today you are lucky, or doomed, depending on how you look at it.
In the run-up to Halloween, we celebrated a series of rituals where we asked The Night for a heirloom to gift you faithful readers, on this un-holiest of occasions. A small number of small creatures were delicately shuffled off this mortal coil. Certain pestilent odours where generated. The bloody dawn crept past the horizon & over strange rocky configurations, towards the circle where we swirled and chanted.
Which is many things. The time it takes to uncoil, and the distant aeons from where it sends its cursed knowledge. The arrangements of notes it contains, and the dense conspiracy of serial murdering it reveals. Gibberish hurled into the stern sky by awful witches, and the inevitable reaction. A cloud which isn’t a cloud but a writhing sphere of black snakes, floating above the bonfire. A vector of madness corrupting the web, accompanied by the following message from its convenor, that Mad Scholar Xander Harris:
“I take my Halloween really seriously and I would have given this out to friends anyway so this was really fun to do. This is a weird mix, just so you know. It’s got electro but it has a lot of weird doom metal and black metal and other crazy shit. I basically picked a theme of a dysfuntional Halloween party. The beginning starts out slow and creepy to get everyone in the mood. Then people get drunker and start dancing and acting a little weird but not too weird. By the end, they’re all completely knackered re-enacting scenes of the Wicker Man.”
Which is the way we hope your night pans out. We have the tracklist for this mixtape but have decided against sharing it with you for now, as that would be a bit like giving away the ending (he comes back from the dead btw). Those with the dark lore, reveal it in the scroll on the side.
Witness the return of existential heroes, plunging forward into their complex worlds. The hero’s engagement with it eroded by the vast Socio-corporate forces assaulting them at every turn. The alternative to the quick death of engagement and the long madness of paranoia: to drive.
Xander Harris brings us the banging spectral harmonies and Night Drive wet dreams. An over-saturated and over-stimulated Theme from Blade Runner. Plunging through a Los Angles of 2019 raised not on the ashes of Noir but the the amphetamine death of Akira. Drums that only form a guide for the synths; a silk lattice for the superhighway of light that surges up and around and all over this track.
The Driver is part of a split with Dylan Ettinger out on Moon Glyph. Check it out here
The utterly irrepressible Mannequin have managed to drop another portal to an Italian synth-wave dystopia. Possibly our favourite kind of dystopia. Whilst being alive (and buying tapes) during the period that Janitor of Lunacy were active, we weren’t in Italy and so this is all wonderfully new.
We’re so completely indoctrinated in the ways of instant access to everything, it’s now a marvel to gaze at the edge of the excavations undertaken in the name of the nameless archive. Where once we’d have marvelled at the seers that rescued this stuff and bought it to new audiences; now we marvel that there is still stuff to find.
On the Dancefloor is the titular track from Janitor of Lunacy’s début tape release that Mannequin are putting out digitally and on vinyl. A JG Ballard ballad repleat with shufling drum programming and that all encompassing harmonic glide — the aural analogue of the pure ascent of a nuclear flash. Growing up terrified that we would be nuked at any moment (seriously why did I read this), synth-wave was the sound of my elders dancing, fatalistically, in the fallout. Mannequin are engaged in nightmare archeology but but we’re grateful, for it reveals things so irresistably, stubornly beautiful.
Whether your with Dunbar on music and dance evolving as mass social grooming, Darwin and his strutting peacock, or feel dancing and music is tickling the brain in ways nature cannot, dancing is a part of our humanity and has been for a very long time. 2011 was a good time for music you could dance too…
Lindstrøm : De Javu When you play a Lindstrom track in your dj set its always difficult to follow. It’s normally difficult to know what to play it after too becuase, lets face it, no one else makes records that sound like this. The new album Six Cups Of Rebel is out on Small Town Supersound in February.
James Fox: New Jack SwingJames Fox laces pristine mid-tempo dance with some silky new jack swing vibes, projecting us inside an utopia of white and honey which is to mainstream house music what romance is to porn.
We are believers in the possibility of a non-fucked up after-hours club where the tribes congregate to squeeze the last ounce of physical sweetness of the ephemeral night, rather than gurn their way into infinity. If that place exists, this is its theme tune.
SebastiAn: Love In Motion Feat. Mayer Hawthrone More Stones Throw related goodness by way of the loudest Banger on Ed’s roster pitching Patrick Cowley’s Lift Off Down to an unmistakably Purple Oneesqu slowed clap groove.
Machinedrum: Come1 Riding last year’s bubbling up of Juke and snapping it into a piano-house ghost-ballad workout. With an opening the hits right in the feet and then proceeds to gently let up over the next six minutes Come1 is the reverse of most dancefloor equations. Drawing you in with it’s hedonistic intensity from the off then taking you on a tour of its sorrow.
The whole album’s a near effortless reminder of how good dance albums can be. building upon a Footwerk foundation to deliver everything from a dancefloor Boards of Canada (Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real) to one of the most cathartically maudlin pieces of music this year in Lay Me Down (which has the audacity to not actually be the last track on the album).
Graphics: Adjectival EWell Rounded are quickly and efficiently becoming a treasure of the Brighton Vs. Hove demilitarised zone. Graphics is the second release on offshoot, Well Rounded Individuals and is a towering example of Fractured British Dance Music. A sliced vocal looped and buried under fabric-thin waves of synth washes haunts the intricate drum programming and sweeping siren-calls that interleave and enchant. Which is not to say it’s adverse to a break and a surging refrain, that’d be silly.
Den Haan: Gods From Outer Space Bandying “macho disco” around like leather, sweat, and guitar riffs were about to go out of fashion Gods From Outer Space is probably more fun that you can actually ever have in a club, but with this as your soundtrack it would be impossible not to try.
D/R/U/G/S: Connected Connected doesn’t waste much time bringing its snippets of Techno and House to bear on the floor. Far too much has been written about ghostly reconfigurations of former genre glories and the pillars that this stands upon are amply described by the track itself in the opening minute and a half. Exercising aCraig-ian approach to the build, the drop finally arrives and the euphoria is suitably unleashed. Not ones to paddle in the pool of anti-intellectual hedonism, 20JFG are satiated by the wiring machine ballet that seems to underpin the ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE HANDS IN THE AIR PIANO HOUSE that forms the back end of the track.
Magic Touch: I can Feel the Heat Imagine a unicorn leaping out of an original pre-hipster/Urban Outfitters post-everything appropriation 1980s t-shirt, into a rainbow pond of everything that’s awesome about disco music, and out again into the garden of eternal delights that lies beyond, where it dries itself with an almighty shake, droplets of joy splattering all over in a kaleidoscopic rain which is photographed with minimum exposure, the ensuing images (or their emotional equivalent) are then pressed on vinyl for the whole world to dance to.
Ital: Ital’s Theme Ital soundtracks the muscular leaving party for a space marine squadron. A glimpse out of battered portholes onto the uniquely specular beauty of crystalline asteroids, for a moment…before the pounding of the room draws their attention back to the dancefloor with a heaving, looping ecstatic roll of wave after wave of 23rd century Italo instrumentals.
Death in Vegas: Trans-Love Energies Richard Fearless returned with a 7+ minute track referencing the soundtrack to New York’s The Loft and the UK Acid House scene featuring the considerable vocal talents of Katie Stelmanis of Austra, and we couldn’t stop playing it. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a 30min extended remix. The rest of the album wasn’t bad either.
Hans Tanza: An Audience with Hans Tanza Nutjob consultant extraordinaire Hans Tanza convenes a board meetingto discuss the quarterly impacts of psy-trance flotations on the futures market of electro-acoustic academia circa 1976
Mi Ami: Dolphins EP Mi Ami’s vessel plunges through a forest of cyclopean futurist hulks, its distorting, tape-bent beats pounding off the walls. High above Gavin Russom watches from a former car insurance office (now sans walls) and smiles to himself in the knowledge that there are others. Glancing upwards for a moment he catches the forms of Derrick May and Carl Craig huddling around a fire, lit on an equally exposed floor of an old financial institution. Down below the vessel nears the source of the sound as light cascades from the rising sun. Hundreds of people throb around a fire giving thanks to those who came before, those who provided us with such riches. A badly painted cloth hangs from an old piece of corporate art and reads: ‘Things should be made anew before they are destroyed again.’
Virgo: Resurrection (reissue) To call this life-changing is no exaggeration. Imagine the most intimate moment of ‘It’s You’ by ESP’ time stretched across a 3 hour movie about Jamie Principle floating on the ethereal plane and perhaps you’re getting there.
Daphni: JIAOLONG001 While we found Caribou’s recent album to be not as up our street as the previous few we did very much enjoy the Daphni remix project which re-visited the gratuitous psychedelic elements we loved about Caribou’s sound.
Wheez-ie: All Werked Up EP Texan Juke desperado Wheez-ie’s veers between hardcore footwork punishment and futuristic heartbreak – ‘Leave her Alone’ hovers above the battlefield like the X-Men’s Storm, convening from the summer skies a purple hurricane of emotion at whose eye spins a silver music box delicate ballerina.
Xander Harris: I want more than Just Blood/Urban Gothic If you like your drum programming hand built from the Dopplereffekt textbook of absolute rigidity, and your synth lines played straight from the pained claws of The Phantom of Paradise, then Xander Harris is the pick for you.
Innergaze: Shadow Disco Innergaze take us in a strut through a parallel land where mirrors, glitter and dances are the holy sacraments of a mainstream religion whose father is Liquid Liquid (on a dubby bender), the son is Daniel Wang and the holy spirit Arthur Russell. On its journey it collects a thousand scuzz tropes and redistributes them across a skeletal groove so lazy, it makes E.S.G sound like a clinical minimal techno project devised by the appointed keepers of metronomic purity. Spectral hedonism, that’s our new calling.
Factory Floor: Various 12’’ Factory Floor strip dance music down to its bare components, and configure them with the grim nonchalance of a murder squad retained by the black ops soviet. Synth loops blast like machine language glyphs straight off Nitzer Ebb’s and Front 242 body music usage dictionary. The motorik beats read like input-output flows in a 5 year programme of industrial production that measures results in terms of sweat. The shards of distortion are cruelly designed to produce collateral damage, demoralization and mass surrender.
Zomby: Dedication Zomby buries us in a frozen dead ocean, where we float surrounded by a constellation of discrete music molecules floating in stasis. They recall the past (massively compressed Jarre, blocks of primary colour which are the slices of a Jan Hammer gradient) but aren’t it. Rather, evolved echoes, nano-designed DNA blueprints for a future fauna of Cupertino Panthers and fractal wing dragonflies.
Lumpen Nobleman: Grusha Lumpen Nobleman’s (no link, alas) is all about the deepness, the abyssal and the sub-dermal, ochre drones awesome like the ornate dome of a defiled Orthodox monastery breaking through the mist, grim commandoes in ghillie suits pulling their best Snake moves up the snowy hill, an inhuman metronome ticks away at the heart of the ruins, counting down the time left for the start of the paranormal firefight.
FWY: Ventura EP We continue our love affair with Edmund Xavier and his FWY’s trucker techno-gamelan escapades. Watch out for the title track’s superb melancholy drone, like Cormac McCarthy’s existential cowboy gazing into a neuromantic dead-channel sky, a moment before stepping past the borderline.
The Passenger: \_| The Passenger’s\_| combines Armando’s optimistic bass rumbling, Orbital’s playful chimes, Wendy Carlos binary fairy-telling and the sort of acid riffs that Plastikman would have come up with if he had been commissioned to update Maurice Sendak’s bibliography, in collaboration with Paper Rad.
Pye Corner Audio: Black Mill Tapes Vol.2. The first post witch house record? Made by someone who probably never heard of witch house? Slow techno and radiophonic electronic passed through a hauntology filter to create one hell of an immersive experience. Why this isn’t on everyone’s albums of the year list is mystifying.
20JFG ain’t Justin Lee Collins, but do you remember that episode of Knight Rider where KIT changed his name to Regard Daggermath, becomes a sociopath and goes on a killing spree. No? The one where he suffocates David Hasslehof with a slightly too tight seatbelt, before decapitating several passers with his scalding LED display, spilling crimson tragedy all over his grey leatherette interior. Don’t remember that one? Well this was pounding on the stereo throughout.
20JFG cohort and leaver of nice comments Xander Harris’Urban Gothic is already out there doing a killing spree. Find a copy if you dare. Hot on the heels will be coming his forthcoming 12 on 100% Silk which is Not Not a subsiduary of Not Not Fun, them what put out Urban Gothic. Contained therin is this cunning dismemberment of album track ‘I Want More Than Just Blood’. If you like your drum programming hand built from the Dopplereffekt textbook of absolut rigidity, and your synth lines played straight from the pained claws of The Phantom of Paradise, then ‘I want More…’ is the pick for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ah, and now it’s time for the Halloween post. Should it visit once again the extraterrestrial fear of Arkham, the rural dread of MR James’s Suffolk or the crimson dreams of Lord Argento. Well, that would be not unlike every day in the ash grey world of 20JFG. For the brutal truth is that Halloween has, in the cellars that we dwell, lost all meaning. We live in a perpetual horror state, the stabbing synths of our late nights now integrated into our purgatorial hours among the chain stores playing Goblin. No longer a place to retreat to for the viscerally fantastical but a background to the endless parade of quasi-counter-cultural readings of banal zombi epics*.
We ask not for commercial mythologies, gore, violence and greed. Our heroes constructed worlds for the sheer joy of it not waterproof canonisation. Let the blood be let in unreal ways and let us never be troubled by affected realism. But most of all, let fear be felt in the bone, not the gut.
The more we love the more we hate.
The appropriately named Xander Harris manages to embody our nascent ideals of 20JFG-certified-horror in just under 4 minutes. A monstrous snippet of dialogue threatening some form of human sacrifice to an unknown ‘beast’ – unknown is good! – gorgeous synth melodies not unlike equally appropriately named antipodean gods Severed Heads and a second sample referencing, in a rather distant manner, new-age vampiric sex. It’s really groovy!
This track’s taken from the, frankly incredible, album Urban Gothic which you can buy digitally direct at Xander Harris‘s Bandcamp here. If anyone wants to do the right thing and stick this out on vinyl it would make all our Halloween dreams come true.
* as much as 20JFG is enjoying Undead Nightmare, please, no more zombies. When there’s no more room on our screens maybe the dead will go back to hell.
Xander Harris kindly sent us a track from his (Brian Keene referencing) new album Urban Gothic. The pragmatically named Opening Credits doesn’t dally for long with the tough bubbling synths before dropping a huge 4/4 drum sequence over the top. The drum sequence doesn’t get its own way for long before Chris Carter sends over an ethereal drone line to drape its sticky crystalline beauty over the whole affair. While the aforementioned ethereal drones work their magic the slightest hint of Codek’s Tim Toum’s influence in the left channel. Which is a good place to be.
Akhluts, the new project from one ex-Teen Sheikh and one DJ Murlo, is a strange beast. Opening on a bed of post-prog arpegiated synths and analogue drones their first track Wintermount slowly reveals itself. Channeling the love of the epic that seems to have fully infiltrated UK Bass music this year: from Skream’s gloriously overwrought Listenin’ to the Records on my Wall to Hyetal’s ’12” of the year’ contender Pheonix – the first flourish of drums seem to contain the track within the bounds of Goblin inspired soundtrack-ery until, after a minute and a half this agile beast unleashes a two-step rhythm that leaves preconceptions about horror-soundtrack revivalism rather…redundant. Those two step rhythms drag us forward now, to Wendy Carlos’s Tron – vast lines of light enmeshing the fantastic landscapes sketched out by the analogue drones. Onwards to the epic chiptunes of Martin Galway, the ambition and imagination of 8-bit game-worlds now bent to serve the dubbed out crescendos constructed here. To the conclusion: a solitary drum, a cold black synth, the repeat button.
Wintermount is a demo so be kind. We dearly hope this will be out soon.