Friday, March 30, 2012

SCANIMATE! Codeks, Spectral Displays, Talking Drums & Wild Oscillations

It seems once a year, usually around a spring, I get a hankering to write about Will Powers and/or 80's New York video artist musical outings, and post some mp3s/mixes.  This spring, thanks to a fortuitous run-in with a folder titled downtempo (seriously!) on Soulseek, I came across some tracks I had been actively hunting for quite a while that fit squarely into that weird conceptual BETAcam mind-fuck genre.  I'm too old to have anything but disdain for the downtempo genre, but at its most tolerable and enjoyable, it seems to be full of the oddities that pop up on Late Night Tales/Back to Mine comedown comps.  If anyone wants to offer a more informed take on the downtempo genre or ethos, please, feel free...

So, here we go - the sort of neurotic dubby sounds that an AV tech working the graveyard shift at a middling TV station in might set his knob-twiddlings on a SCANIMATE console to.

I can't find much information about Talking Drums - one blog (now erased - even Trouser Press turns up nothing!) posits that they were an evangalical Christian project of some sort, led by Charlie Irvine and Dot Reid - two Glaswegians who would go onto form a group called Lies Damned Lies.  In light of that, I can almost see Courage as some sort of defiant updating of the Onward Christian Soldiers hymn of days and pews past, albeit with a dash of Siouxsie's vocal stylings with The Creatures, the bottom-heavy post-punk funk of the Slits, some serious Stranglers-esque keyboard leads, and New Musik-like ultra-bright acoustic guitar...  I usually credit my upbringing as a Pentecostal Christian with the ability to suss out based on production cues, but this is throwing me off.  The lyrics are quite a bit more explicitly Christian.

Studio project Spectral Display are familiar to some: It's Takes A Muscle To Fall In Love was sampled by MIA and they're on the soundtrack to Antonio Campos' upcoming film Simon Killer...  There's A Virus Going Round is a later album cut from their self-titled debut, where producer Michel Mulder takes a less dubby, but equally subdued, approach, featuring the anodyne, listless sweet nothings of Lisa Bolay.  The virus she sings of is probably mononucleosis.  (Appropriately enough for writing about music that makes me think of 80s video art, the group's called Spectral Display...)

Of all the songs posted here, Codek's Closer is the most kindred spirit to Will Power's Adventure in Success. The herky-jerky vocals, backing vocals, spirited arpeggios, occasional horn stabs.  I'm particularly keen on the bass guitar punctuating and accentuating like a tom drum.  A French producer by the name of Jean-Marie Salaun (John Marieux) appears to have been the driving force behind the Codek project, and the rest of the , that I strongly, emphatically implore you to seek it out in whatever manner possible.  Tim Toum, in particular, is an electrified faux-tribal freakout that has to be heard...  Salaun-as-Codek seemed to represent a stop-gap of sorts, halfway between his production duties for French punky new-wavers Artefact and Spions Inc and later work as a (from what I can tell) producer on autopilot for some fairly uninspiring crossover reggae/digital dancehall.

I was going to round out this post with two chart-friendly songs from Desireless and Vicious Pink, but after listening again, these 3 songs work perfectly with each other.  I'll save them for an upcoming post on the kitsch-leaden glory of the MAXI Single format and French music.  And not a Metal Urbain song in sight/onsite!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ghostly pill-poppers Blank Capsule!

Toronto's Vitaminsforyou and (super-nice guys) Jokers of the Scene came together as Blank Capsule, and just released their debut 7" on 416-based label Hi-Scores Recording Library.  I erroneously thought Compulsion was a cover of a Martin Gore song from the Depeche Mode songwriter's solo EP Counterfeit, but didn't realize the original was from Cherry Red's Joe Crow.  It does more than justice to the original and, in my mind, surpasses the Martin Gore version.  Stream above, and then go buy the damn thing!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Footprintz Release, Raid Over Moscow 7"

Follow the link for a new song from Montreal's Footprintz, coming out on Turbo as a 7" release for Record Store Day.

Bay Street Strut

In a world beset by climate change and at risk of overpopulation, it's almost highly irresponsible of me to release songs like this... Let's be glad there's birth control, no? Also, this isn't that highly trafficked of a blog. Thank heavens.

The brother and sister fronted group Juicy, named after the oft-sampled Mtume song Juicy Fruit, are probably best remembered to watchers of late-night television as having appeared on the Beat Street soundtrack. But, even acknowledging the heavily derivative nature of this song, 1986's Sugar Free is still a fabulous song.

The post-disco 808-saturated R&B of the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis-led S.O.S. Band is a treasure trove of many things, including Weekend Girl, the sample base for songs by a great many contemporary artists (Cam'ron, Amerie... Poetic Hustlaz - okay, the last one might be a lesser light in the urban music firmament).

There was Beat Street, and there was also Krush Groove, the 80's hip hop film which featured Prince Markie Dee as a member of the Fat Boys. He also had a career outside of the trio, which produced some diggable gems, including the debut #1 single Typical Reasons (Swing My Way) from his album, Free. The song features an effective disco bassline, a laidback groove and a touch of New Jack Swing, not too far from the ouevre of the recently departed big-guy Heavy D.

Mówię co widze, from Polish MC O.S.T.R. takes as its base Breakwater's You Know I Love You, a triumph of R&B vocal harmonizing. Like most non-Anglophone rappers, O.S.T.R. favours heavy enunciation.

If you're in Toronto for CMW, or for the weekend, or, hey, you happen to live here, why not stop by Sutra tomorrow evening? There's no cover, and I'll be DJing a lot of music that mixes quite well with the songs above.


Hi Toronto! I'm DJing on Friday, March 23rd at Sutra Bar (612 College Street). No cover! Click for the Facebook event!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sour Summer

After a certain age, I lost the ability to mount a defense of certain preferences, tastes, or just things I'm okay with... New wave vocal hysterics are one of them. In my early to mid 20s I could have spent a fair amount of energy trying to convince a friend of the appeal of the Associates, but now I realize that, yeah, the mannered pitch-jumping can be aggravating. So I won't be posting the Associates' cover of Diana Ross' Love Hangover as I had initially intended to. You will, however, get the listless doomy dronages of Karel Fialka and Coil, as they tackle The Doors and Gloria Jones, respectively... Fialka's version is far superior to Echo & The Bunnymen's, a contribution to the Lost Boys soundtrack.

Hey, it's Lene Lovich! God, I bet she was annoying to hang out with, but this is one muscular song - bass-driven, with some excellent percussion production.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Brood of Bo, Sons of Vega

"... I never heard anything avant-garde. To me it was just New York City Blues."

The legacy of Suicide has been well-documented, (beloved band loved and covered by Bruce Springsteen, blatantly ripped off by the humourless, attitude-merchants of A.R.E. Weapons, revered by Spacemen 3, that t-shirt in The Adventures of Sebastian Cole) but that of Alan Vega's drum-machine-driven rockabilly solo efforts? Not as much: a bit of love from Jarvis Cocker, occasional name-checks for the septuagenarian sculptor... If Suicide's first and second albums were homages to the bossa nova rhythm setting on a church hammond organ, Alan Vega's solo outings were paranoid hymns penned by a basement-bound, pock-marked loner with aspirations to become a leering leather-jacketed lout - betraying a fervent love of Bo Diddley. Alan Vega's solo work positively reeks of the fumes of model airplane glue: all slap-delay, finger snaps and meandering nervous vocals.

The solvent-abusing duo Royal Trux and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, would have been the ideal practitioners of Vega's brand of nervous rockabilly, be, unfortunately they were side-tracked by the more unseemly elements of 90s production, and presumably the kitsch-pit ethos of the Grand Royal magazine and label. (Royal Trux built upon the woozy swamp rock of the Rolling Stones' Ventilator Blues - so it's not a total loss.)

Lisbon, Portugal's The Legendary Tigerman (nee Paolo Furtado) mines the same territory as Alan Vega (the absurd turns of phrase, for example) although the production is a bit slicker, his croon more self-assured, so that he comes off more like a continental Chris Isaak.

Also a solo artist, Montreal's Bloodshot Bill boasts an anthropoidal warble that's a direct descendant of the hyperventilating howling of The Cramps' late Lux Interior.

Finally, and most enjoyably, Mac Demarco, known formerly as the fuzz-obsessed Makeout Videotape, is another addition to the children of Alan Vega... I'm A Man showcases a killer deep-registered voice, inventive guitar work and pleasantly lo-fi production. It's not a cover of the Bo Diddley song of the same name, but worthwhile anyways...

Friday, March 16, 2012


Sade By Your Side (Cottonbelly's Fola Mix Edit)
Rio Blanco Wild Doves


Sync Mode is a new project from Toronto duo The Makeover, alongside Butter the Butcher and DJ Nitin. Woozy, vocal-centric mid-tempo house.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012



Three continental instrumentals, economic but not sparse... Kornstad is a Norwegian saxophonist, who uses (what else?) live-looping to supplement and compliment his often improvisational sets. This track is from his Dwell Time album - well worth the kroner if you can track it down. C.W. Vrtacek is the pseudonym of Forever Einstein's Charles O'Meara, to flood the market with his avant-pop sketches.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Summer Jams

Given that Toronto's now hanging out in double digit weather, I'll jump the gun and offer up two summer jams. Classics! Pete Rock produced the ADOR track - great choice to sample the Gerald Wilson Orchestra's "California Soul." If memory serves me correctly, this frequently appeared in skateboard videos throughout the 90s. A year later, Souls of Mischief released "'93 Til Infinity" which would dominate boomboxes and Jeep soundsystems alike.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Der Weltraum Space Oddities

By my reckoning, no song in the kraut/kosmische rock genre has ever matched the sprawling jubilation of La Rheinita, an anthemic instrumental from 1978 propelled by the lumbering tom drum workout that would be lifted pretty much part & parcel by Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott and songwriter Midge Ure (who was in Visage and would wind up fronting Ultravox) for Yellow Pearl. Hats off to the man for his great taste. Could a nation whose development as an industrial powerhouse depended entirely on steel fail to produce a genre of music that sounded like this? At about the 3:08 mark, the song rockets way into the stratosphere . I never tire of this song...

From the vaults of the fecklessly fey Cherry Red Records: Morgan Fisher, a tickler of ivories (synthetic & not), took it upon himself to pay tribute to Mott the Hoople's top 10 hit with an abrasive and charming lo-fi cover. File this somewhere between Bruce Haack and Ariel Pink, and for comparison I leave you with a raga-like synth-workout from the late Mr. Haack, long-time mp3 blog favourite.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

DJ Overdose's MIAMI BASS HISTORY Mixtape Volume 1

A handy and educational selection of bass classics from some damn dusty crates courtesy of The Miami Bass History blog.

The 20th Century's Golden Voice

Ladies and gentlemen, another song from the most golden voice of the 20th century... Mr. David Ruffin, with a stirring, gospel-inflected of melancholy, yearning and celebration. Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Let's Jack!

Babe Rainbow Set Loose (Soft Riot's Manhunter Version)

Much digital ink has been spilled (deservedly so) on the works of Babe Rainbow (Cameron Reed), the bitingly funny and hyper-talented musician and producer (who, among other things, was involved in the creation of the terrific Shit Harper Did website), but less-so about the man at the helm of Soft Riot - also (at one time) a Vancouver resident and music scene fixture, Jack Duckworth.

Usually when one encounters writing about Jack and his projects, it's prefaced with some mention of his long-standing commitment to music, and specifically to mining a particular field of post-industrial, neu-wave sounds, in projects much loved by Goldkicks like Radio Berlin, A Luna Red, Primes, and Savage Furs. That's all well and good, but I think that makes it seem like there's some historical obligation to pay attention... That approach doesn't do justice to the actual pleasure and joy to be derived from this guy's actual body of work - the care with which he approaches his music and the time he puts into it.... A group like Trust(warning: Myspace link) has momentary momentum, but, let's be honest - that album is a fairly uneven stylistic hodgepodge (and it kind of sounds like Chris Martin is singing sometimes) that could have been re-worked and spread across a couple of EPs. A musician like Jack has the benefit of substantial experience and talent, and so it never feels like a stale re-hash of the industrial sounds of yesteryear, or a solitary catchy single surrounded by some patchy studio meanderings.

Now making his home in London, England, here's hoping that the release of the Another Drone In Your Head EP will find a larger audience.

Ankle Biters

Here are two mid-80s uptempo tracks from two double-Js. The Jermaine Jackson song is notable for featuring Idaho's most prominent proponents of the theory of human devolution. Jermaine's musicianship, production skills and general good nature are often obscured in relation to the accomplishments of Janet and Michael, or Latoya's trainwreck of a career (in her defense, she did record a couple of choice 80's R&B cuts that are worthy of attention), which is a shame.

Mr. Jarre, occupying as he does that fertile artistic space between Mike Oldfield and Yani, has not suffered in the shadow of anyone, particularly in the kitsch-heavy arena of world music. Zoolook finds him toying with the Fairlight CMI, working the same grooves and voice-effects that Yello Magic Orchestra were at the time, and in a much tamer style than the grandiose "performance for monuments" music that is his usual hallmark.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Gold That Rolls

Samples The Commodores' Oh Yeah.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Footprintz Fabric Promo Mix

In advance of their Saturday appearance at Fabric, I guess it's as decent a time as any to post this promo mix Footprintz did as well as one of their more recent tracks from Visionquest's FABRIC compilation (#61). The duo of Addy Weitzman and Maurice Knecht don't disappoint here with some great rarities and edits. (Yes, that is Annie Lennox singing on the 3rd track.) Take a look at the track list below, and please take special not of the ending song, it's from from another Montreal notable and swell-guy, SUITE - the project of one Patrick Andrew Boivin - and is one of my favourite songs of 2011.

  1. Til I Die - Beach Boys (Footprintz Remix)
  2. Touch Me - Suicide
  3. Darling Don't Leave Me - Robert Görl (Footprintz Edit)
  4. Thorns - Z-Factor
  5. Life With You - Expansives
  6. Lost Inside of You - Virgo Four
  7. U - Clarian
  8. Lies (Watch Your Lift) - LoSoul
  9. Let Your Body Talk - Ace & The Sandman
  10. Mysteries of The East - Jhalib
  11. It Shakes The Heart - Clarian
  12. The End of Love - Suite

Organ Mood

For the MAC's latest Nocturnes series in Montreal, the exceptionally talented duo synthesizer & lights duo Organ Mood will be performing tonight. I wish I could be there.