Thursday, January 31, 2013

great find by Our God Is Speed - a Tube special on Berlin from 1983

(he found it at Exile on Moan Street)

same city, a decade later, another doc -- tekno Berlin

which reminds me, you should read Tobias Rapp's great book on Berlin clubscene a decade after that -- ie. 2000s -- which is now out in English - Lost and Sound: Berlin, Techno and the Easyjet Set -

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Zorch - the UK's first all synthesiser band, apparently

so were Mother Mallard the US's first?

there was also these dudes, not quite a band

but talking of UK synth bands -- I can't find the really amazing prog-synth track by Wavemaker (Brian Hodgson ex-Radiophonic Workshop + pal) that's on New Atlantis and that flashes forward to Orbital's Chime"....  But this here is something else from the album preceding it, not nearly as good

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

further to Julian Bond's comment in the previous post -


The band that's never ever mentioned in Eighties nostalgia / New Pop discussions

I remember liking this when Peel and other night-time Radio One deejays played it, for the effect on the voice and the sidling synth-melody

Originally called Fàshiön Music !

From Birmingham, contemporaries of Duran Duran ... signed to IRS, did the album Product Perfect

Fashion then dropped all the accents and the "Music" at the end and they also de-Futurist-ised themselves, becoming sort of rockfunk outfit. Signed to Arista, made the album Fabrique

The music press took against them because they had a sleazoid image with songs that appeared to be celebrating drugs ("Whitestuff") at a time (1982) when that was very much frowned upon --  the group were deemed rockist reptile throwbacks with lemon-sucking cheekbones

Sonically quite appealing, the missing link between the less orchestral side of Lexicon of Love ("Date Stamp" say) and Clock DVA's Advantage, maybe. Perhaps that is to oversell it: there is also a fair bit of Wang Chung and the Fixx in there.

Produced by Zeus B Held

Reverting to the Fàshiön Music phase of their existence -- on this early song sounds like a bit of Specials/Beat influence has crept it -- New Romantic Ska! -- perhaps owing to Fashion being from the Midlands

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Richard Burgess, the man who apparently coined the term New Romantic and who  co-conceptualised  / co-designed that Eighties-phuture-now iconic synthetic drum pad Simmons SDSV, now works at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (as Director of Marketing and Sales). How weird is that...

as revealed in this interview which takes in his career as drummer in synth-jazz-funksters Landscape and as hot producer (Spandau Ballet's "Musclebound" and Diamonds, many others) and also as Fairlight programmer for Kate Bush and Visage...

And how about this - the Landscape albums had the word EDM printed on them -- standing for Electronic Dance  Music.

That's from the "experimental" and much-derided second side of Diamond -  and I have to concede it's a surprisingly attractive slice of faux-Orientalism

Good last quote from Burgess, at the time of the interview working on a huge box set of a century of jazz for Smithsonian:

"I do hear new stuff that I like. I think that one of the dangers is that when so much is possible - samples of all kinds of sounds are available online and software synths and keyboards can emulate anything - things can start to get samey. It usually takes someone to come along and work within economic, technological or self imposed limitations to create something that is really different and stimulating. There has always been a tendency for record labels to sign the epigones and overlook the innovators and the originators."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

the trouble with internet as archiving system is that it tends to offer the diachronic view (history, biography, chronology) but be not much use if you are trying to re-establish a synchronic view -- all the things happening at one moment -- a week, a month... even a year, it's not that easy to get the total-spectrum view, the simultaneity of parallel events and narrative strands intersecting and clashing

 i was reminded of this when hearing "Favorite Shirts" by Haircut 100 and remembering that there was a moment  - a season, a year or so -- when you had a lot of almost-funky records by British groups  - records often with patches of weak rapping in them - and where funk was understood as a sort of flustered take on Chic  + hand percussion + a certain kind of  rubbery, disco-walking bassline + maybe some horns

Funk was the big buzzword of that year (1981, i think) although there'd been murmurings obviously  before with Delta 5 and Gang of Four and Pop Group and "Death Disco"--  but i distinctly remember in late 81 as a freshman having a brief earnest conversation with a trendy-looking fellow student in which he said "bass is so important" and I replied "yeah, and percussion". Both parrotting talking points we'd absorbed from NME probably. Or The Face, in his case.

But, as executed by the bands above,it was already a lagging-behind-the-times idea of funk - black music had moved on - it was the time of the crunch-thwack snare and the beginnings of postdisco and boogie and electrofunk - horns were disappearing, and hand percussion, and Bernie  bass and Niles guitar were already fading out of black music (the Niles sound would drag on for years of course in non-black music: Let's Dance, The Power Station) in favor of synth bass and drum machines

the sharper Brits would keep up (the leap from "Sex" on Songs To Remember to the "Wood Beez" / "Absolute" / Cupid & ; or from "Poor Old Soul" to "Rip It Up")

but that led to some diabolical records too, also including crap-rap

Ah here's some thoughts i jotted down for the Rip it Up Esoteric Discography some years ago:

Sub-trend #1 within New Pop was “Funk”. Basslines, percussion, and horn sections suddenly began very crucial indeed. Dropping their synths for all three, Spandau Ballet produced the almost-great “Chant #1” (several minus points though for the “rap” mid-song about clubbing at New Romantic nightspots like Le Beat Route). Their ghastly second LP Diamond (Chrysalis, 1982) came packaged as four 45 rpm 12 inch singles (one better than Metal Box!), with five of the eight tracks remixed for dancefloor action.  Despite making a better go of dance music than Spandau, posh boys Funkapolitan got flak for not fitting the W/C soulboy template. Black Britfunkers Linx and Junior Giscombe  were ultrahip, but other mainstays of the real working class dance underground, such as Beggar & Co and Light of the World, never quite shook off the taint of jazz-funk. Fashion-world operator Perry Haines (style adviser to Duran Duran and Visage, co-editor of iD, etc) caught the moment with his single “What’s Funk?” (Fetish, 1982), featuring his own weedy attempt to chant James Brown style. You can find a version of it, “What’s What,” on Sex Sweat & Blood (Beggar’s Banquet, 1982), a very Zeitgeist-attuned comp (subtitle: “The New Danceability”) featuring everyone from punk-funkers Maximum Joy, Medium Medium, and 23 Skidoo to future Scritti member David Gamson to Zeitgeist-attuned New York band The Dance (of “In Lust” semi-fame) to Chicago’s very own New Romantics Ministry. Nothing by Stimulin, the band Haines managed, though. They were one of those classic UK music press phantom groups, virtually a figment of discourse. Trigger/pretext for yet another classic New Pop manifesto from Morley, Stimulin released nary a disc.

Sub-trend #2 within New Pop: “Salsa”, shorthand for Latin rhythms in general, in vogue off the back of Kid Creole & The Coconuts. Zoot suit troupe Blue Rondo A La Turk were the big hype, but it was Modern Romance (formerly punk jesters The Leighton Buzzards) who scored with heinous hits like “Everybody Salsa” and “Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey.”

Stimulin! You can actually find MP3s of their terrible Peel session online.

The singer was Alix Sharkey
wonder why Paul Hardcastle has zero cred -- and never ever gets mentioned in dance history accounts -- when what he did wasn't so very far from e.g. what M/A/R/R/S would do a couple of years later...

not saying the verdict is wrong exactly, indeed at the time "19" seemed tres naff to me, but i heard it on the radio just a little while ago and suddenly couldn't remember when it came out, it sounded like it was contemporary with e.g. 808 State or Bomb the Bass or S'Express or Stakker Humanoid  or Jack the Tab... but of course when i checked it's from 1985

What else did he do?

Before "19" there was "Rain Forest" - which is a bit Shakatak meets "IOU"-Freez

After "19" there were several more hits - like this (which became the TOTP theme tune)

Overall he seems to have slipped into the mire of smooth jazz...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Laurie Johnson, he's sort of the Isaac Hayes of Britcrime TV, right?

What does that make Francis Monkman?

Monday, January 7, 2013

heard the long version of this on the radio the other day -- the first 2 minutes 20 second are pretty abstract, with the girl laughs and the whooshes - -then the song kicks in and it's just pretty  -- finding a small, somewhat moist patch of  ground between UltravoxFlockofSeagullsVisageOMDNewMusikTearsforFearsModernEnglish to call its own

 a slightly longer version

apparently "Nowhere Girl" went Top 10 in some European countries

the song that actually got some play on the radio in the UK was "Remembrance Day"

 edging into Section 25 vicinity here

Saturday, January 5, 2013

saw this band play outdoors, during the day time, in the square at Covent Garden - must have been 86, 87?

eno apparently described them as the most interesting band in the world... or even, in some accounts, "the most important band in the world",  which i guess shows that he's not infallible in his judgements

they seem to be coming from a similar place to Landscape  - fusion bods grappling with the latest studio tech