9th July 2014

The Hated Squeak of Seagulls


(art is by Michelle Lanter.)

Though this blog cut its disco teeth on the mean streets of Brighton, gosh, it actually has been a bit of a while since we actually gave you lot a heads up about any hometown sounds.

(My theory about this is that because of the way thinks work now, it actually takes a much more concerted effort to limit your output to one population, whether its a geographic, ethnic, or even subcultural population group. Sure, in 2004 we might have known who all the cool bands in Brighton were, but in 2014 we and everyone reading this blog are just as likely to know who the cool musicians from Bhutan are. Music disseminated via the virus of social media is like dark secrets looking for light.)

But Brighton – it’s been a while since national magazines were touting it as “the new Seattle”, largely off the back of Electrelane and Eighties Matchbox and British Sea Power relocating here.

The things that have happened since have been small, and few and far between. This is not a bad thing. Because the stuff seeping through now is genuine and musical and bravely unscene.

There is Collectress.

Collectress make super-special chamber pop. Consummately played, poetic, and perfectly-pitched – it’s not overly-decorative, twee or muso, which I think is sometimes what people assume when they see the phrase “chamber pop.” It’s just gorgeousness. Sometimes slightly ominous gorgeous. That cello a dark, circling undertow. Their songs are like little tone poems that map the psychogeography of Brighton – the violin even approximates the hated squeak of seagulls sometimes!

Collectress – Pumphouse

Collectress – Goodbye

Collectress’ members have played with Bat For Lashes and Mary Hampton, and bolstering the Brighton connections, their excellent debut album Mondegreen was recorded by Rob White of Demons Are Real records and Joe Watson formerly of Stereolab.

If you like them (and you will) then you will also like Timbre Hollow, the sole album by Threnody Ensemble, released in 2000.

Threnody Ensemble – The Machine

Buy Mondegreen from Peeler Records

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7th July 2014

The T-word


Paco Sala


Trip hop’s allure was its cryptic intimacy.

The feeling of intruding into someone’s psychic chambers, into their memories, obsessions and desires, there yet never fully articulated, shapes swirling in the shadows, breaking through the surface of consciousness like killer whales of emotion, muffled sighs and dark moods universal in their abstraction.

Of course, one can have too much of a good thing, and that’s what happened with Trip hop, turned coffeehouse and ad cliché by a myriad me-too-acts who turned its wasteland of feeling into a cookie-cutter ‘electronic music + lady (or dude, I’m looking at you JJ Johanson) singing’ formula.

It is a testament to the strength of that backlash that the T word is seldom mentioned (as if it would be an insult) when describing many contemporary acts whose music conveys the same mood of melancholy, abstracted alienation, return to the cocoon of the self in the face of a social + economic environment of multiplying complexity, and filmic aspirations.

Yet it is there, we see its imprint, and we don’t think it’s anything to be embarrassed about. Sonically, this new generation of pensive pathos-geographers draws on the millennial descendants of trip hop’s influences, dub (dubstep) and hop hop (via J Dilla, Boards of Canada’s drum OST for pseudo-scientific uncanny-land, and Juke’s voodoo spectre).

Some examples? Flying Lotus, Hyperdub’s forthcoming (and spectacular) 10.2 compilation and many of the artists therein contained, Laurel Halo. Also the protagonists of today’s post, our beloved Paco Sala.

In their new Digitalis release, ‘Put Your Hands on Me’, Paco’s Antony and Birch take us inside that psychic room, its stained-glass windows shuffling through potential use cases for this music – social media-mediated heartbreaks, Metal Gear Solid’s next theme tune, that gently suicidal night drive through conduits of neon, shot in Michael Mann-vision.

The melange of analogue flesh, cf. 1970s porn-classicist artwork, and digital layers, juke throb and multidimensional reverberations makes it timeless plus futuristic, dense plus dazzling, alien and weird plus strangely human.

Like exploring an emergent pan-human psyche brimming with strange colours, pillars of luminescence, a complex lattice of vectors describing the trajectory of holographic sirens caught in a strange loop, randomly exploding into flocks of bird-memories straight out of a William Gibson reverie.

Definitely T.

Paco Sala – Peace Keeper

You can get ‘Put Your Hands on Me’ digital/pre-order vinyl from Digitalis.

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1st July 2014

Aesthetics are Godlike


200 Years & 20jfg


(art is by Anna Oguienko)

As much as – for  while at least – communal listening experiences seemed to be dominated by the shuffle function (you’d be round someone’s house and there would forever be a mac or iPod on shuffle, plugged into speakers, rather than an ‘album’ proffering a soundtrack) – one thing digital music collections can never quite replace is the “ohmigod! I forgot I had this!” factor.

For some reason, shuffle isn’t quite as good at “hiding” music as physical things are. Even when they’re big physical things, like 12″ records? And then when you find it you’re like: AHA!!

That AHA!! moment never happens with Spotify. Not hatin, just sayin.

So it was this weekend, when I uncovered one of the LPs from my subscription to Grapefruit Records’ first year, lurking about in the squish and dust of my record collection and had one of those moments. The concept behind Grapefruit is simple – you pay a subscription and spread across the year you will receive four vinyl LPs from them, featuring exclusive new works by relatively known artists, that cannot be bought elsewhere.

The LPs are great. And the aesthetics are godlike. It’s fair to say Grapefruit had a slight influence on our own Blue Tapes.


The magenta record from that first year is by 200 Years – the duo of Ben Chasny and Elisa Ambrogio.

200 Years – Erred

It’s a piece of psych-folk mayhem that record shops would inevitably describe as “wonderfully out there.”

Looks like since I bought those records, Grapefruit have done three more years – though 2014 (the final year?) is just records by The Dead C.

2011 was 200 Years, Richard Youngs, Lambchop and L. Eugene Methe. I think that year had the best covers too.

Here’s a mixtape of some other music we were listening to around then:

XXJFG – 2011: A Drone Odyssey

 You can buy the Grapefruit releases here

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