Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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On Oldfield

April 15, 2014

After all this time, someone let Mike Oldfield write songs with actual lyrics.

On the bright side, this track is the best thing I’ve heard him do in years.

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Greetings

March 13, 2014

I’ve noticed an increase in traffic to this blog. Hello! I’m assuming this is in part due to my participation in Freaky Trigger’s wonderful Pop World Cup, where I am managing Cote D’Ivoire.

This blog is a scratch-pad about music in an attempt to keep my hand in the process of writing. It’s made up of short jottings thrown down in those moments small children allow. I used to regularly review music for small publications and ‘zines, and have produced and presented music programs on three different radio stations in Australia. None of my work has been for the big names or the notable, but I enjoyed it and wish to return in due course once family duties and day job allow.

Most of the entries on these blogs are jotting around a loose concept. The first was my selection of 100 tracks from the Noughties, and I’m currently halfway through the Nineties – the decade which takes me neatly from the start of high school to my first post-University job. The list isn’t groundbreaking, but it does allow me to explore the head space I was in when I first heard these tracks.

I am very interested in the serendipitous way people’s music tastes evolve: snatches of radio, half-heard tracks in a shop which nag the ear, recommendations from friends and mixtapes. I was never a strict adherent of the charts after the late 80s, though I heard as much pop as anyone. However my main interests were in music were wide. I grew up in a small country town, pre-internet, with one commercial radio station and three government stations liable to play (unexpectedly but with little wider context) a Klaus Schulze, Pat Metheny or a concerto for bagpipes and jazz orchestra as much as Sting and Dire Straits. Thus my lists are an attempt to rationalise the way I stumbled across music as chance encounters, rather than mechanically ticking off a discography or adhering to a chart.

So welcome to my little project. I apologise for any grammatical mistakes; as I said these are just jottings between screams and story books. You may also like to have a look at some archival writings from my better writing days.

And remember to vote for Cote D’Ivoire in the Pop World Cup!

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XTC – The Disappointed (90s – 51)

December 31, 2013

Nineties’ XTC was dominated by… nothing. Silence. For most of the decade they were in conflict with Virgin Records. Otherwise the decade is merely topped and tailed by two records: 1992’s Nonsuch and 1999’s Apple Venus.

It was the failure of Virgin to release Wrapped in Grey from the former record which created the conflict – effectively a strike against their contract until it ceased. This is a pity as Nonsuch was as finer a sculptured as and XTC created in the last half of the Eighties.

The most known track off Nonsuch is the wonderful Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead, a typical Andy Partridge’s third person protagonist. But Patridge is often at his best when he wears the narrator’s cloak. Thus it is on the classically pop The Disappointed.

Classic too is Partridge’s trick of blurring a concept or emotion with a character or mob: Scarecrow People, Snowman, Toys. Like all such anthropomorphism it is to prove a point.

The mind eye can see the grey Disappointed shuffling, empty, vacant-eyed, a Tom Waits marching band announcing their jerky procession down the street. The narrator, once disbelieving has had his mask removed and discovers he is not merely one of their number but their king and spokesman. Has be been placed their by the misery masses, finally understanding their pain or is there a hint he still conceited, believing his is the heart-break against all must be judged?

Either way this is another variation on the idea no matter how you feel there are always others just like you.

And all this against a subtly nagging guitar line, not quite mournful, but never dominating. This is arguably XTC’s last great pop song.

Oh, and doesn’t Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory suit their medieval get-ups.

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A Project Cancelled – a cancelled @oneweekoneband pitch about @realjahwobble

October 29, 2013

This article constitutes an admission of failure in my attempt to pre-write a week of articles for .

The topic of my articles was Jah Wobble. The articles would have detailed my serendipitous introduction into his music: catching a song here by chance on the radio; finding a mis-shelved CD in an obscure coastal town, being sent an album out of the blue by a record distributer.

Coincidentally, and wonderfully from a writing point of view, the songs and albums I first stumbled across and featured neatly demonstrated the many facets of his music: the original Invaders of the Heart, collaborations, drone works, single-genre World music albums and electric jazz. Thus the articles served as a potted primer of Wobble’s music.

At the same time the articles were as much about how the music we like, despite millions of words written, official best-of lists and the supposed importance of certain artists, ultimate comes down to a one-to-one relationship between listener and artist, and the order we hear the music.

The listener’s reaction to music is mostly influenced by personal listening experience. So, for instance, Joshua Tree may be considered one of the U2’s greatest albums, but a listener coming to it late having first heard Pop will have a different perception of the band from a listener who was there from the start.

I don’t like Pop, but this listener might find it the greatest U2 album of all times. This is a perfectly valid position. But the point remains our musical tastes are greatly influenced by the order we stumbled onto the music we hear.

It was this sense of serendipity I was trying to capture in these articles. I first heard Jah Wobble on the radio in my last year of school, but not again until four years later when I stumbled onto Eno and Wobble’s Spinner mistakenly filed in the heavy metal section of the Macksville record store.

This and subsequent discoveries neatly demonstrated into the playlists of my radio program where I featured each of these albums as I found them. These playlists formed the archival material which helped me remember what I thought of these albums at the time and how I related them to the other music I had already known. These playlists document the very order I was discovering music and how they influenced what I heard next.

At least this was the idea, but despite almost ten thousand words writer’s block and a rare inability to sculpt what I have already scribbled (usually my strong point) means I have decided to draw a line under this project. It wasn’t to be.

With this in mind the next post will be one of the rediscoveries of my research, which I was to post as part of the final submission. In 2003 I wrote an essay on Passage to Hades – the collaboration between Jah Wobble and Evan Parker. It was published in Neucleus (sic) the student newspaper of the University of New England, where I was no longer a student but still infesting their radio station.

What I’ll post is the version I submitted to the then editor Andy Marks (yes the drummer from Crow). Andy was a strong editor who often used a very light touch to improve the final print version but as I only hold a print copy of the edition I don’t have time to compare and contrast the submitted and published versions. Thus I’ve left my submission untouched except where I felt a sentence was completely incomprehensible due to a silly grammar or spelling mistake. If anything this shows a chapter in the evolution of my writing if nothing else.

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S.E.T.I. – Mare Crisium (90s – 80)

July 5, 2013

More spoken vocal samples – in their more usual ambient job of prefacing a track – before the ecclesiastical singing floats through and the tracks slowly unfolds.

S.E.T.I’s Mare Crisium is a more standard 90s ambient affair with floating textures gently unfurling before some scattered beats takes the track out – but I love it. I first heard this on University Radio Bath’s Digital Dream many a year a go, and bought the album on the strength of it.

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Biosphere – Hyperborea (90s – 81)

July 5, 2013

There are any number of 90s ambient records which rely on spoken work samples – just think of all those records which plundered the Apollo recordings. More specifically visions, predictions, hypnoses, remembrances and portents fleck the work of the Orb, the Grid, David Toop and many others. But not many are as effective on this track from Biosphere’s Substrata album.

Now I’m no Twin Peaks fan. I’ve never seen it and until a few minutes ago I didn’t even know this was the origin of the sample. So I came to this piece without that context and still found it the most disquieting bit on what is a most disquieting album. Substrata isn’t ambient in the likes of Global Communication or Future Sound of London – this isn’t synth line heavy – but it is more veering towards Eno territory of suggesting place without fully creating place. It’s a staggering album though not necessarily an easily listening one. Recommended.

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Squarepusher

May 1, 2012

At Bedraggled/Musicality HQ we are battening down the hatches for imminent doubling of infant fun, which has been taking up much life of late.

But in my muddled mind a new track has actually penetrated – in fact there are not too many situations where one can simply ignore the music of Squarepusher. I saw him at the first Splendour in the Grass at Byron Bay. I made my first and only trip to the doof tent that afternoon. A few moments later confused doofers were vacating in┬ánumbers leaving a few of us to savour the moment.

And now a new track, and a good one at that: