I woke up far too early so I thought I’d try and get through this growing pile of releases that I promised to review. As I’ve said I’m not a journalist so I won’t try to be this Harvey album has had the whole – what is it called??? nu-disco? balearic? – let’s settle for disco at this hour… Anyway, it’s had the whole disco crew with money in hand. The 12’s released to date have been ‘Gunship’/’Little Boots’, ‘Tan Sedan’/’Throwdown’ and ‘I Want It’/’Next To You’.

The CD has the following tracklisting according to the press release:

1. Gunship
2. Little Boots
3. Gunship (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
4. I Want It
5. Throwdown
6. Bloodbath
7. Tan Sedan
8. Next To You
9. I Want It (Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas Remix)
10. Throwdown (Harvey’s Dub)
11. Little Boots (An Emperor Machine Special Edit Version)

So in essence this is a collection of the 12’s with additional versions from the massively good Emperor Machine (their version of ‘Little Boots’ being the perfect track to go out on), Weatherall, Harvey himself, and a new track in the form of ‘Bloodbath’ which I don’t think has been out before. I have to hold my hands up here and say I might have that massively wrong as it’s early but I think I’m right. Anyway, ‘Bloodbath’ is good. It’s a slow burner with a dubbed out guitar riff and fat synths that rolls along. Think soundtrack to a good f&cked up psyche movie. One of my favourite versions on the album is Harvey’s own dub of ‘Throwdown’. He drops the vocal and twists it all up dubbing it out and playing with the drums. According to the press release there will also be a hand stamped, Harvey designed white label (how do you design a white label?) of the alternate vocal Weatherall Remix of ‘Thickums’ and ‘Bloodbath’.

What can I say, you all know what this is all about. He takes disco in its various forms, sends it sideways through the f&ck machine and brings it our the other side via an Echoplex. And it works. It’s a good album. And one I hope that will take this music as a sound out to a wider audience as it got legs. I could imagine it sitting happily on Ze if it was still going which is high praise.

DJ Harvey Presents Locussolus / Locussolus is released on 13th June on International Feel.

[Apiento]

Quick review of the new Revenge record which I said I’d review weeks ago (sorry Melissa!). I like the Revenge, also known as Graeme Clark, as he takes it out there in a bit more of a ‘Greg Wilson music for the masses’ kind of way. You know… There is no snobbery – just take it to the dancefloor and lets have some fun.

This is released on Dave Lee’s Z Records, someone I also massively admire for his ability to take it to the masses when deep down you know he’d rather be sat at home playing super rare disco records with his mates making bad jokes. Anyway, here’s the tracklisting as my review below won’t help you much with that and if you want an album that everyone can have fun too then get this.

Mid-Air: Ease Out (Revenge Edit)
Johnny Adams: Feel The Beat (Revenge Edit)
Sargeant & Malone: Love Message (Revenge Edit)
Velvet Hammer: Party Down (Revenge Edit)
The Joneses: Summer Groove (Revenge Edit)
Chapter Three: Smurk Trek (Revenge Edit)
Electric Smoke: Freak It Out (Revenge Edit)
Letta Mbulu: Kilimajiro (Revenge Edit)
Vance & Suzanne: I Can’t Get Along Without You (Revenge Edit)
Nel Oliver: Dream On (Revenge Edit)

Reekin’ Structions is in the shops now (I think).

[Apiento]

I love a good electronic album and ‘Space Is Only Noise’ is quite a grower. Alongside the recent Isolee album it hasn’t left the CD player and stands up to the ‘lets play it all the time at work and see if people love it or hate it’ test. It gets love and questions on what it is. So it’s slow, glitchy – well you can see from the scale below what it’s made up of.

I like it a lot and can see it being liked for a long time. If I rated things out of ten I’d give it a really good seven or an eight. It’s a great piece of work. I’d love to see what he was capable of if he sat on it for a bit and refined his output. Jaar is clearly a very very talented producer who isn’t afraid to bend the rules. Highly recommended.

I’m not sure when this is out as I lost the press release but it’s very soon if not in the shops as we speak.

[Apiento]

I have had this one for a few weeks now so apologies to the chaps at Wonderful Sound (the label) for not getting round to posting this until now. I am really really fond of this album. It has been a hectic few weeks (moving job etc) so when I finally got round to putting it on, well, it hasn’t been off. Stammers reminds me of a northern Nick Drake in style. A gentle voice and lovely acoustic guitars only added to with other instrumentation where need be. One of my favourite moments in the album comes late on with ‘Baby Dea’ as soft brushed drums push the track along. It sort of feels like some of Michael Head’s work with The Strands. It’s a lovely album for mellow Sundays and evenings with friends and fine wine. You can find out more and buy it here. It’s out now.

(Note: The original idea of the scale below was to give you a very quick idea of how the album sounds so please don’t read it as being scales or scores of 0 – 10 it’s just there to show you that there are no glitchy AFX noises etc. Word.)

[Apiento]

I like James Blake. I guess I’ve always been into a spread of music but when ‘CMYK’ came out R&S it sounded new and fresh. I know it’s a long way away from what we normally cover but hey it would be boring if we wrote about the same stuff all the time. So James Blake went from this twisted bass-heavy garage-business to appearing with a lovely slow beat based number called ‘Limit To Your Love’ with him showing his voice. It was a nice surprise. Anyway, I was at my mate Emma Warren’s house the other day (check her blog if you’ve not read it) and she had the new album.

Emma is a long-time journalist who wrote for Jockey Slut from the early days and then The Face and other influential types of things. Anyway, point is she got lost in a world of dubwise stuff a while back and hasn’t been out of it since. Oh and she’s got a show on NME radio that we mentioned before that runs form pure soul to the best in house with nigh on 100,000 listeners which is pretty tidy. So, she posted a review on her site which I’ve ripped wholesale here. Not to blow too much smoke, but she could write a review far better than I ever could so here you go.

My friend came round yesterday while I was playing James Blake’s debut album through the speakers in my front room. “It’s Erykah Badu with white noise,” he said, turning it up.

I’d been looking for the right R&B reference when I posted about this album yesterday but I couldn’t quite find the right one. It wasn’t quite D’Angelo and it wasn’t Curtis Mayfield, but there was definitely a specific R&B influence underneath the 11 songs on the self-titled release. And Badu’s the right reference: Blake’s voice sits over rim shots and slowed down snares on the opening track ‘Unluck’ in a way that reminds me of ‘Rimshot‘. It’s a powerful opening shot, and one that sets the scene beautifully for the rest of the record.

“Wilhelm’s Scream’ is the second single, and it’s more soulful and straightforward than ‘Limit To Your Love’, although straightforward, Blake-style, still means mournful organs hanging halfway on the horizon and submarine-depth bass implosions over circular lyrics that fall in and out of the music, which by the end of the track sounds almost like a gospel house record – albeit in about five million little pieces.

James Blake ‘James Blake’ is a properly good album. It’s strong, cohesive, and powerful. You still want more when you get to the end, and it stands up to repeated listening. I reckon that most of my music friends will like it (though there’ll always be people who either like to hate on whatever’s hot or who who find Blake’s style a touch too emo). But I think my other friends, who work normal jobs and hang out at home with their families, will like it too. But that’s because Blake has brought genuinely interesting, soulful material into his pop songs. Take ‘I Never Learnt To Share’ with it’s repeated lyric ‘My brother and my sister don’t talk to me/ But I don’t blame them’. It’s totally odd and definitely shouldn’t work (one lyric repeated ad infinitum, over restrained CMYK beats isn’t the usual recipe for a memorable pop song) but it does. And that’s one of the marks of actual genius as executed by the likes of Aphex Twin or OutKast; doing things that shouldn’t work… and making them sound brilliant.

The middle section of the album is the Bon Iver patch. I can imagine Justin Vernon listening to consecutive tracks Lindesfarne I and II and going ‘yes! that’s exactly what I meant!’. And it’s the range of this record that makes it so appealing. After riffing on Bon Iver’s themes, we get Blake and his piano, with a short, sweet folk song ‘Give Me My Month’ that Crosby, Stills and Nash would have been perfectly happy with. It sits next to ‘To Care (Like You)’ which you could easily imagine hearing at FWD>>, despite the fact that it’s gospel-tinged, falsetto R&B-goes-techno at minus eight. The album is packed with compressed silences, the kind of sonic drop-out that few people would attempt (there’s at least seven seconds of silence at one point in ‘Limit To Your Love’), and which I know makes radio engineers panic because that silence sounds a hell of a lot like dead air. John Cage would be extremely proud.

Any downsides? None that hit me straight away. It’s cool and clever, emotional not emo and packed full of sophisticated sideways soul and deconstructed songs that still feel bizarrely memorable. It’s not as in your face as ‘CMYK’ and it’s more substantial than the barely-there threads of ‘Klavierwerke’ EP. I guess the only downside is that you’ll eventually be sick of hearing it everywhere, but only in the way that Portishead or Massive Attack were momentarily diminished by being so heavily overplayed. And that’s hardly a bad thing. One lovely record.

Emma Warren’s blog can be found here and the radio shows here.

[Emma Warren/Apiento]

The early 90s seem to be making a bit of a return at the moment; Primal Scream are playing Screamadelica live again (and are on the Cornflakes ad (you always had the feeling Gillespie was fake)), some of that lovely deep house from then is sounding great, loafers are back, and The Orb and Youth are releasing ‘Impossible Oddities – The Story Of WAU! Mr Modo’. Alright that doesn’t join up quite as it should (excuse – I have flu), but the point is stuff from then is starting to sound and look good again. I guess it always happens across generations. Perhaps its nostalgia, perhaps the fact that some of it was flipping great.

Back then I was working for Guerilla Records. I lost a load of records one day when out and about so called Wau! Mr Modo to see if they could send me another copy of The Orb’s ‘A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain…’ as I couldn’t find the one I’d lost. The next day a whole box of 12’s turned up via courier full of white labels and versions I’d never seen before. Tons of records. That care and ‘being kind where you can’ attitude was something that I tried to take on as it was a great thing to be on the receiving end of. Point is, I liked WAU! Mr Modo for life. So buy this album. You need it.

Also on top of that, The Orb soundtracked our lives (or quite a large part of it) for sometime there. It was perfect to get stoned to and perfect for the car on the way home from the club. It was a soundtrack we could all agree on. Around the early 90s The Orb did a few all nighters at the Brixton Academy which coincided with our lot really getting into acid – a good fit. They had the sound wired all around so speeches would come from the back left, bass from the right and generally it all went down as you’d hope it would when feeling slightly out of it. In the next few years they did a benefit for the miners in Sheffield (where the label was based) with Primal Scream which we traveled to and popped in to say hello to Adam Modo (the other part of the label alongside Youth and Alex Patterson). All I remember through the haze is that he was a big bloke and the gig was great.

So the music itself… They always knew what they were doing as a label. It was always pretty out there, still is I guess, and even the pop moments like Zoe’s ‘Sunshine On A Rainy Day’ started off being pretty cool before going off to hit the charts. Then you had the early Orb releases which are getting better and better with age – a UK take on the German cosmic scene for the acid house generation. The compilation brings various releases together with the first track on the album being the demo of ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’. It sounds more like a 90s cut and paste record in this version. There’s lots of early mid-tempo house tracks (piano riff and weird noises) that sound good and Sun Electric’s underground sleeper ‘O’Locco’ appears. Shame there isn’t more actual Orb recordings but I guess Big Life own the rights to it and something happened along the way. To round-up, as a look at the eclecticism that was around before the likes of Mo’ Wax took it jazz this is a good place to start. Space is the place and all that…

‘The Orb and Youth Present Impossible Opportunities: from underground to overground: the story of WAU! Mr Modo’ is out soon on Year Zero. CD1 and 2 come unmixed with the the third being an Orb mix.

[Apiento]

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I am guessing if you are reading this you know who Coati Mundi, a.k.a Andy Hernandez, is. Not only the comedy sidekick to the great Kid Creole but also a Latin disco star in his own right with records of the calibre of his cult-classic ‘Que Pasa/Me No Pop I’ for ZE Records. For a man three decades into his career he’s done totally the right thing and hooked up with NYC’s Rong Music crew who knew how to have fun with him in the current setting.

The album has been produced by E-Love with additional bits and pieces by Lee Douglas (who has recently been creating some great music as well as the above sleeve) and ranges from slow rolling Latin grooves through to clean electronic disco beats all topped with Mundi’s tales of life on top. It’s an entertaining ride as an album and it sounds like it was a good time in the studio. It’s also good to see a real character within those disco grooves. Check it.

Dancing For The Cabana Code In The Land Of Boo-Hoo is released on Rong Music on October 14th

Coati Mundi At Rong Music Online

[Apiento]

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