Pilots of purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales

Featuring : Majeure + Rainbow Island

Today is all about things that move forward, and fast.

Rainbow Island come first. Their name, potentially inspired by the 1989 Amiga platform is apt. This drum and synth music definitely sounds like a good candidate to soundtrack the prances and jaunts of a Bubby and Bobby of Bubble Bobble fame, as they traverse a landscape so chromatically saturated it will make your eyes bleed, shooting wasps and caterpillars with their rainbow guns. They also make us think of Holy Fuck if they had been into Silver Apples instead of early noughts breakbeat, and even Add (n) to (x) if they regressed to some proto-human state like William Hurt in Altered States.

In Gigi Rally, Rainbow Island chart an alternative evolutionary path for video games soundtracks set in a counterfactual world where Babbage and Lovelace have made the analytical engine work, and graphics consist of the rapid movement of cardboard cutouts, like those pre-digital racing games writ large, or Balinese puppet robots on speed. Gigi Rally it this world’s Wipeout, and its physically, computationally and sonically pumping.

Rainbow Island – Gigi Rally

Get Crystal Smerluvio Riddims from Flying Kids or NO-FI recordings.

Then Majeure, whose latest release in Temporary Residence amps up the muscle ‘n’ throb to almost unbearable levels. Seeing him live at an excellent London show with Grails last week made us think of folk-hero John Henry’s legendary competition with the steel drill, if the machine was a Giger design, and the whole thing had been shot by John Carpenter in the style of the magic battle between Lo-Pan and Egg Shen at the end of Big Trouble in Little China.

Needless to say, the human wins this time, but instead of vanquishing the machine, becomes one with it, a cybernetic sprite surfing a virtual world of Silicon Graphics info-porn designed by a Mahavishnu Orchestra obsessed superintelligence.

Majeure – A Few More Pieces of Eight

Get Apex from Temporary Residence.

Last Night at the Britpop Proms

Das Capital: The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines is a curious beast. It’s a part-swan song to Haines’ 90s indie group, The Auteurs, a part-bridge to his new solo career, and a not-quite greatest hits. But most of all, it was a scam.

Hut Records, the Virgin subsidiary that Haines spent the 90s signed to, was being shut down. As a final fuck you to the Virgin overlords, Hut boss Dave Boyd exploited a loophole whereby he could siphon off a substantial chunk of money from what remained of the Hut coffers and give it to Haines under the guise of ‘back catalogue’. The catch is, Haines would have to re-record a selection of his old songs, maybe as an acoustic album.

Instead, Haines went wild with the budget, smothering re-recordings of tracks from the four Auteurs albums proper and his Baader Meinhof concept album – along with a handful of new tracks – in stately orchestration.

“The sessions went well and nearly every song that have been re-recorded are better than the originals,” Haines wrote in his second autobiography, Post-Everything, “though I know I’ll have a hard job convincing ‘the kids’ about that one.”

And certainly, others were not convinced. Pitchfork, for instance, commented:

“Das Capital: The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines and the Auteurs is a primo Situationist stunt. From the title on down, it concerns itself purely with the sound of money. Fat with winds, strings, chimes, echo chambers the size of Wembley stadium and, per liner notes, ‘the greatest sax solo in the history of popular culture,’ the album is meticulously designed to mimic fundraiser quickies like The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays the Music of Oasis. There’s even an overture, ingeniously hidden before the first track (you have to hit pause and rewind well into negative numbers to play it). The result, needless to say, is patently and intentionally ludicrous; it could be one of the greatest jokes ever played on a label by an artist.

I can’t help but applaud Das Capital’s meta-architecture, which incorporates everything from the cover art to the attendant interviews filled with bragging about the project’s cost (press manipulation has always been an integral part of Haines’s work– his solo debut came out the same week he called for a ‘pop strike’ from the op-ed page of The Guardian). One small quibble, however, remains: The album is unlistenable.”

In truth, the album isn’t bad. Probably not a lost classic, but better overall than similar efforts like Tori Amos’ Royal Albert Hall-debuted Gold Dust. The new songs – usually filler on these albums – end up being some of Haines’ best, and would have made a classic EP if on their own.

Although Haines’ solo work would tend towards concept albums, where the sound of the song and its theme are tightly meshed, The Auteurs albums were just Good Songs that happened to be performed by an indie band that featured an electric cellist rather than a lead guitarist. So recontextualising them as ‘last night at the Britpop Proms’ anthems doesn’t hurt them at all.

Take the reversioning of lead track from The Auteurs’ Mercury-nominated debut:

Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Showgirl

Also, the tongue-in-cheek overture that opens the album is not only pretty funny, but kind of great, a medley of stand-out melodies from Haines’ premium-grade songbook thus far.

Buy the 2003 album Das Capital: The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines and The Auteurs from Discogs

Art: Der Orchideen Garten

Black Materia

Featuring : Michele Mercure


20JFG, forever on the pulse of popular music, today brings you a record from 1983, that was reissue at the start of February.  Aren’t we glad those breakneck blog-house years are behind us…

But our avant approach to release dates and responding to emails seems in keeping with today’s slice of early 80s synth-age.

In the Air begins like a suitably mystical moment on the Final Fantasy 7 OST, contemplative and peaceful (you just know someone’s about to die).  Before a far more towering series of synth chords interrupt the dancing, arpeggiated  shafts of light.  These moments recur: attempts to shape the formless; attempts to add urgency to an eternal crystalline structure.  But no amount of drumming and uplifting synth stabs can alter the pace of this essential, looping beauty.

Michele Mercure – In The Air

In the Air is taken from Michele Mecure’s phenomenal record, Eye Chant, which has been reissued by new label Freedom to Spend.  It’s out now and you can get it from RVNG right here or from all good internet and physical record stores.

Summerisle Rugby Union drinking songs

Featuring : Bert Jansch

Rosemary Lane is an English traditional that tells a story about the seduction of a domestic servant by a sailor.

The earliest appearance of Rosemary Lane in popular culture dates to 1904.

Folklorists Steve Roud and Julia Bishop, in their 2012 book on the origins of English folk songs, describe Rosemary Lane as:

“An extremely widespread song, in Britain and America. Its potential for bawdry means that it was popular in male-centred contexts such as rugby clubs, army barracks and particularly in the navy, where it can still be heard, but traditional versions were often collected from women as well as men.”

Bert Jansch recorded the tune for his 1971 classic LP of the same name.

Bert Jansch – Rosemary Lane

There are copies Rosemary Lane available from Discogs

gif from La Chenille de la carotte (1911), director unknown

Gestures for Balance

Featuring : Priscilla Ermel + Syrinx

Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music from Brazil (1978-1992) is an incredible collection of sonic experiments that mash-up genres with post-punk abandon, and could only have come from Brazil. It dazzles us, by turns, with cool ipanema pop, deep samba rumbling and Amazonian sounds and rhythms that capture the kinetic melody of colourful creatures we never knew existed, or will ever see. Amazing stuff.

Priscilla Ermel appears twice. She is an anthropologist, video artist and musician based at the Laboratório de Imagem e Som em Antropologia (LISA) in University of Sao Paulo.

In her ethno-musicological researches, she has studied the indigenous Tupi Mondé people of Brazil, as well as the Dogon in Mali- yes, the same Dogon who, as myth has hit, descended from the Sirians, and were soundtracked by Craig Leon in his Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music.

We were thrilled to discover this geo-cultural connection between Ermel and Leon’s work, because we had already sensed it intuitively when listening to her songs, epic drum odysseys that could have been produced by humans equipped with alien technologies, or vice versa. Either way, they activate hidden urges inside us, they make us long for strange frontiers, selvatic horizons traversed by Giacometti giants.

Today, we leave you with Gestos De Equilibrio, which is nothing short of extraordinary. Inside it, intricate oriental melodies swagger with a gaucho twang, and a spiral staircase of irresistible Basil Kirchin beauty descends into a basement full of tropicalia bangers, ammunition for DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing if it had happened in another place, in another time.

Priscilla Ermel – Gestos de equilibrio

Outro Tempo’s 2xLP edition is sold out. Find out more about Priscilla Ermel, and watch some of her video work, in Vimeo.

It has been too long since we posted any releases from our beloved RVNG International, so let us start addressing that omission with last year’s Tumblers from the Vault, by 1970s Toronto jazz-funk psychedeleans Syrinx.

As usual, you can read about their historical context and activities in RVNG’s excellently researched collateral. We will focus on the vibes, because the vibes are strong in this here place.

And what vibes are they?

The vibes are totally nuts, that’s what they are. Syrinx really sound like nothing else. They crash through Cartesian conceptions of the mind/body divide with a wild mix of crunchy fleshiness and spiritual grandiosity. There are enough weird noises here to make us think of Wolf Eyes if they were nice people, enough orchestral lushness to remember (and grieve for) David Axelrod, if he had been raised by gypsies, and enough syncopation to make us accelerate  like Squarepusher, if he stopped here and there to throw us off balance and make things feel even crazier. 

We’d be remiss if we made you believe that these tumblers are chaotic. Nay, there is a logic at work in these tumblers, even a narrative. We use some free association tricks to fathom it. The result is an impossible gestalt that brings together a hassidic Shaft, a symphony of urban complexity adapted from Jane Jacob’s theories, a musique concrete straight out of the pages of a Will Eisner comic, or Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual transplanted to American shores. 

It’s all about the multiplicity of layers, the fractal epic you will find in the tiniest of gestures, and a pan-psychism devoid of platitudes, a pan-psychism you can feel in your bones. These tumblers are a powerful psychic weapon arrived from the past to help us find our way to a future we want, a future we need.

Syrinx – Ibistix

Get it on vinyl from RVNG.

The Mythical Vulva

Featuring : Brice Catherin

This percussion piece is, Brice Catherin says, is “a tribute to an exceptional woman: baubo, the mythical vulva. former slave turned into a goddess of fertility in a time of matriarchy, baubo is our mother, our wife, our sister, our daughter. my piece is a pagan celebration that brings all of baubo’s children together: the composer, the performers and the members of the audience – who participate actively in the performance by playing small instruments. each performance uses three new texts offered to baubo: a poem, a paragraph from a novel, an article or even a recipe – whatever the performers feel makes sense.”

It rattles out like abstracted gamelan; poetry in tiny metallic hits.

Brice Catherin – 36000 years alongside baubo – ode to baubo from iakchos

Download Brice Catherin’s Best Hits – Recent Works for Percussion Ensemble for free from Pan Y Rosas

art is Caravaggio, Maria Maddalena in estasi (detail), ca. 1606

Om de Cologne

Featuring : Cologne Tape + Phew

Cologne Tape are an German experimental rock super-group involving people from Battles, The Field and Von Spar, as well as Jens Uwe Beyer and others. Although they are based in different German cities, their spiritual centroid (and the location where they congregated to create their latest record, Welt) is Cologne.

This is a significant fact. Can hailed from Cologne, and so do Kompakt records, and if these two things were to be somehow combined, you would obtain something along the lines of Cologne Tape, and Welt.

And what thing is this?

This is a very good thing indeed. Imagine Can’s wild trip into the heart of rhythm unfolding over a  tesseract whose granitic planes slide upon each other with minimal majestic force.

We know it’s hard to visualise. Try. Remember the kaleidoscopic capers in the Dr Strange film, and remove all the mystic clichés until a bare truth is revealed, a truth that comes from repetition, a truth that cannot be codified in words because it lives in the pattern of a drum, the swirl of a synth glyph, a piano melody refracted into infinity like shards of glass, like shards of Philip.

But why imagine when you can listen to Welt 3 (Magazine Edit)? A techno beat of beautiful brutality, synth lines unable to decide between religiosity and funk become both. A drop that projects white hyperspace lines through blackness, converging into the sweaty dance-floor a moment before things get messy.

God this is the kind of thing that really makes us wish we still ran a club.

Cologne Tape – Welt 3 Magazine Edit

Welt is coming out on the 31st of March in Magazine. Pre-order from Juno.

Today’s bonus is the self-titled 1981 debut by Japanese avant garde chanteuse Phew.

Its connection with the above, leaving aside pleasant visual symmetries in album artwork, is Can: Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit participated in Phew’s creation (and Conny Plank produced). The result is completely amazing, fresh as if Phew had travelled through a wormhole into the present, absorbed 30 years of post-punk-funk history, and gone back to the past to fuck with the minds of causality obsessed people like you and me. She has keys, and those keys open doors.

But then, Can always had Gibson’s touch: Anything they got involved with became modern, probably because they eliminated time with the primal power of their groove. Of all Phew, their presence is most clearly felt in Signal: in its cocodrillic guitar dirge, in the Fremen jazz drums and perhaps most tellingly, in a metronomic beep that keeps the whole thing from falling apart into another reality, and taking us with it never to return.

Phew – Signal

Inform yourself about Phew in Wikipedia and Discogs.