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Straight Outta Bell Labs

Featuring : Novoline

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Novoline is the project of Nat Flower.  A project that involves the impressive tech resurrection seen in the image of his studio above.

No wonder then that the opening moments of Movement 1 seem straight outta Bell Labs.  It’s a sound so beautifully synthetic and fragile.  A sound that feels as if it’s going to slip its clock at any point and end up in a pile of unspooled tape on the floor.  A sound that has the miracle of mid 20th Century electronic music coursing through it.

And then the drums.  Drums we know.  Drums are a thing, a thing with a very tangible real world analogue.  Yet they too, with their remorselessly uniform hit, come with the feel of the artificial.  The history of modern dance music has conditioned us to that feel.  Indeed i’d argue it’s entirely possible that anyone born after, say, 1980 has heard more drum machines than drummers.

And so we dance; the melody, like a heartbeat amongst the drums.  Always on the edge of slipping out of sync, the ancient MIDI controllers called out of retirement for one last job.  But the heart holds and the body moves.

Novoline – The Movement 1 (Pythagoras 4)

The Movement 1 (Pythagoras 4) is taken from Novoline’s second album, Movements.  That’s out on Ecstatic Recordings and you can get it now right here.elp024_cover

Bonus video:

We’re back(ish)

Featuring : How to Dress Well

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Apologies from the land of 20JFG for our barren September.  Some of us have been plunging our flesh into the warm waters of the Aegean and others, traversing the New World.  Neither of which presented ready access to WordPress and email.  Alas.

But we’ll be back next week with more new music.  Promise.

For now though it’s another 20JFVids in the form of How to Dress Well’s Lost Youth / Lost You video.  It’s even SFW (because we couldn’t get the NSFW one to embed from Vevo), sorry — although if you’ve come here for women’s nipples can I suggest checking the-rest-of-the-internet.  Men’s nipples, we’ve got you covered.

Here at 20JFG we’ve been kinda’ obsessed with this track in all it’s utterly ernest glory.  Not only is it a whisper-in-your-ear torch song, not only does include the beautifully naive chorus “I think I know what love is now, I think I’ve got it figured out”, but it has an extended, wailing guitar breakdown about halfway through.  Indeed, the only disappointment in the above video is that it doesn’t include Tom Krell actually wailing on said guitar and potentially some doves flying in slow motion.  That’d be glorious.

Seaside saudade

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Fast, fast, run before the summer ends and we can’t post any more neo-balearic (or para-balearic) music!

Today we continue in the same mood as last Monday: languorous, lazy and happy, with a sun-kissed soul and a kirlian aura of perfect honey, perhaps with a drop of magenta sadness that some family and friends can’t be here with us, and that some of them, we will never see again.

A state of stasis is suitable to contemplate their and our mortality, the ultimate transition. In a moment like this, basking under the nuclear conflagration of the sun, we embrace the invasion of melancholy and temper it with a consoling thought, like the protagonist at the end of the Third  Policeman: our discrete identities and bodies are a fiction that hides constant exchange and death, renewal too. Under this fierce sun, in this melting heat, we surrender to our inner hippie.

So let us begin with Diego Herrera, better known as Suzanne Kraft, who produced last year’s wonderful Talk from Home.

The vibe is similar to Gaussian Curve’s Clouds (which we posted last week): clop-clopping beats, humanistic synthesisers and butterfly guitars like Ry Cooder after dining the best fish ever, in a terrace above the Mediterranean sunset. The result is one of easy nonchalance, a machine that makes immersive dioramas through which you can flash back to the most placid, jewel-like glittering moment of your best (physical, psychic) holiday.

Suzanne Kraft – Flatiron

Get Talk from Home from Melody As Truth.

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Hiroshi Yoshimura is one of the 1980s Japanese artists we discovered during our algorithmic ambient exploration a few weeks ago. We have struggled to find out much about him personally: he was an environmental musician and a visual poet, he taught industrial and sound design, he sadly died of cancer in 2003.

He also made stunning ambient music where every instant is like the step of a turing machine computing programs of beauty and truth.

Today we celebrate Yoshimura and his Pier and Loft, a nautically themed 1983 C-64 we stumbled upon in Holy Warbles YouTube channel.

Tokyo Bay Area is one of the most amazing things we have heard this year: a piano melody that drones in Badalamenti-esque wonder, if you translated (bizarre-Japanese advert style) Twin Peaks to a 1980s Tokyo marina, this would be the tune enveloping each of Agent Cooper’s moves.

Hiroshi Yoshimura – Tokyo Bay Area

The Sea in My Palm closes Pier and Loft, as well as today’s post, in an uncharacteristic (for Yoshimura) upbeat mode, like a Trans-European express for container ship lanes in Porco Rosso’s pastel sea, it sails past us with muffled electroid beats and wistful, aquatic melodies, its destination some amazing space between Drexciya and Sven Libaek that we didn’t know existed.  

Hiroshi Yoshimura – The Sea In My Palm

Small levels of info about Pier and Loft in Discogs.

The Great Queue

Featuring : Bamboo

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There seems to be an inversely proportional relationship between our accelerated demand for content and the rate at which individual content producing units (aka musicians) are actually putting out…content.  While the Talking Heads could drop LP after LP in the late 70s we’re now conditioned to expect years between releases. 

Quite possibly, the sheer diffusion of culture over the internets has meant that the queue to grab a slice of the consumer conscious has grown long and weary.  A great winding thing of bodies and instruments snaking towards the hills.  Hey, there’s Drake trying to usurp Coldplay’s next ‘launch window’, oh and over there, Taylor Swift’s playing some boyfriend meta-game to keep herself amused in the interminable line.

So it feels strangely uncanny to welcome Bamboo back to these pages so soon.  After stunning us by airdropping a last minute ‘album of the year’ in 2015, Bamboo are (relatively) quickly back with more.

Bamboo – Always Running

If Grace Jones, on a (purely hypothetical) trip to Japan in the early 80s, where she had been hired to do a Young Marble Giant covers set, had drafted in the Yellow Magic Orchestra as a back up band…it might sound something like Always Running.  And if some enterprising youth had thought to record it to tape, that tape would have barely been able to contain the vast ebbs and flows of five minutes and 45 seconds that Always Running occupies.  For the delicacy of the first minute is barely recognised in the euphoria of the penultimate and in between huge crashing waves of synths constantly destroy and renew.

MASSIVE, as they say.

Always Running is taken from Bamboo’s new album, The Dragon Flies Away, on Crumb Cabin.  Limited to 50 tapes you can pre-order it here.  It’s out of Sept 12th.  Bamboo’s previous album — you know, the one I gushed about up the top there — that’s getting a CD release via UTR on the 23rd and it’ll come with a live album ‘Live at Cafe OTO’.  So that’s three album releases in a month. #content

Terminus Beach

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Each time we perform a web search, we draw a network to navigate, looking for patterns and trends. A couple of weeks ago we went on a YouTube wild goose hunt whose starting point was Midori Takada and 1980s Japanese ambient. This seed grew into a tree with branches of synthpop, progressive minimalism and our focus today, the neo-balearic revival (we’ll talk about those other things in future weeks).

Neo-balearic revival. Is this a thing?

It’s hard to know in these days of total spatio-temporal convergence, when all possible trends exist contemporaneously. We declare it so, making it exist, and even give you an explanation for it: the neo-balearic revival is a rebellion against the tyranny of the digital media which pervade our lives, including times of holiday under the sun which are transformed into yet another opportunity to create content, share, perform in front of an audience. The neo-balearic revival reclaims the beach as a space for repose and contemplation of the sea whence our ancestors came, as it spins in its neverending drone.

It is also a rebellion against the neo-Victorian obsession with progress, using time productively, and personal self-improvement. To the contrary, says the neo-balearic revival, the best way you can spend your time is blissfully unaware of its passage, purring under the Mediterranean sun, watching the arms of the clock melt into a pool of beautiful colours, transformations in the gradient of a perfect sky. This strategy makes time infinite, and you rich, and therefore free.

When time stretches into infinity, anything can happen, so here you have the neo-balearic revival, celebrate its arrival before the Summer is totally gone from our shores.

We begin with Joan Bibiloni, a man arrived from Balearic ground zero: Mallorca. After spending his youth in folk and prog bands, Bibiloni started a label called Blau, to release his own work, and the work of other musicians in the region. This year, many of these songs have been compiled in ‘El Sur’, a release by Dutch crate-digging label Music From Memory.

The whole thing is a complete delight. Listening to it for the first time on a September morning will make you wish that you had had it at hand on the best day of this Summer. Relax, there will always be other opportunities. Our favourite song is ‘Una Vida Llarga y Tranquila’ (A long and calm life), which in its spiral progression from jaunty guitar and flutes to transcendental lounge, serene meditation and a coda which returns to the beginning, perfectly summarises the mellow, good-natured challenge to progress we have described: the end as the beginning of a journey full of beauty, no conscience of opportunity costs, no regrets.

Joan Bibiloni – Una Vida Llarga I Tranquila I

Obtain El Sur from Music from Memory. Read an interview with him here.

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Somehow, Gaussian Curve passed us by last year, when they released their excellent Clouds album in, yet again, Music from Memory (No matter, as we already said, the Internet destroys space and time, and the neo-balearic revival resuscitates it making it transcendent, infinite.)

Gaussian Curve are a trio formed by an Italian ambient veteran, Gigi Masin (who also had his music compiled by Music From Memory a couple of years ago, we’ll tell you about it some other day), Jonny Nash (who you might remember from Sombrero Galaxy) and Marko Sterk.

Today we are having a day where everything fits, and the same is true for their name: the Gaussian (or normal) curve represents a distribution of probabilities where large and small events happen rarely, most of the activity is around the average. The avatars of progress might condemn the normal curve as an embrace of mediocrity, but today we push back, and defend it as a representation of tranquility, equanimity and equality. All of these feelings pervade Clouds, whose jams are effortlessly cool, suave, somewhat nostalgic.

They make us think of Peaking Lights teaming-up with Jan Hammer in a soundtrack for an alternative version of Miami Vice where no-one ever dies, or the top tunes in a stash of forgotten 1980s cassettes in the utopian cyber-constructed island where Neuromancer tries to trap Case towards the end of that novel.

Gaussian Curve – Impossible Island

Get Clouds from Music from Memory. Nice interview here.

Saturday mixtape : The Beach II

Featuring : Podcast

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Screaming was a mistake. The creature homed in on the sound and entered through my open mouth forcing my jaw open and pushing deeper into my throat as i began to uncontrollably gag.

By the time i could close my mouth i knew the being the gatherers referred to as ‘Her’ was deep inside me, and her secretions began to take effect.

I could feel many of her offspring nestling in the sweat on the back of my neck. I yearned to prove my love, taking each in turn into my willing mouth as deeply as i could.

‘Her’ effects moistened my mouth and as each of her offspring approached i willingly enjoyed ritualistically opening my mouth and sucking every one of them as deeply inside my throat as i could.

Once my lust was sated, exhausted, i fell into unconsciousness with no knowledge of what fate had become of Hannah.

When i awoke she was next to me.

Placing her hand upon me enlarged tummy and looking deeply into my eyes she kissed me. The kiss was as cold and lifeless as her eyes.

20JFG mixtape – The Beach (II)

‘We must go find Her’ – she said, and he realised the Hannah he knew was lost forever.

Once the sun began to set we went down to the beach.

Idiot Signal Noise

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On Thursday, we went to see Factory Floor playing at the ICA and it was great. They sounded like the drum breakdown in LFO’s Freak – one of our favouritest musical moments ever – stretched into infinity, smashing your face forever. They sounded like Hi NRG music for brutalistic architecture perverts. We loved it so much we almost melted.

Although Factory Floor are clearly unique, their music is nevertheless connected to many other obsessions of ours by the universal thread of a monomaniac focus on converging with the perfect rhythm, and a morbid fascination with the effects of ridiculous noises in the human brain.

In that sense, they are brethren to Yuriko Keino and Junko Ozawa, the creators of the soundtrack for arcade shooter Super Xevious. This is not music, this is a project where the mutant hamster equivalent of Aphex Twin is hired to to do a Manchurian candidate vs. aliens number on your head. Just watch this video.

And listen to this in repeat:

Super Xevious (1984) – 37,640 High Score – Barry Bloso

YMO ex-member Haruomi Hosono produced some synthy remixes of the soundtrack that sound like Yello doing children’s TV music. They are less likely to make you go insane, but they are still pretty good.

Haruomi Hosono – Super Xevious

More info in discogs.