Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is It The Next Song Yet?

Another Tuesday, another Viva show to deal with. In a moment of 'EUREKA!' style madness, I thought 'why choose twenty tunes when I can be lazy and just pick seven'? Seriously though, this week's show focuses on songs that show absolutely no respect for the traditions of song length (and no, there isn't anything from Ricardo 'vinyl just isn't big enough for me, man' Villalobos). First up we've got Tortoise (with David Pajo - woo!) with their pioneering kraut-tronic epic, 'Djed'. It's taken from their stunning 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die' LP which ranks up there as one of my favourite albums of all time, mainly because of this beauty that takes up the whole of the A-side. If you haven't heard this yet, then you're seriously missing out - get down to your local record shop and correct the error of your ways.

Then we go from 'kraut-tronic' to 'kralt-country' with the highlight from Wilco's 'A Ghost Is Born' LP (that said, 'Theologians' always makes me grin inanely like a mental patient on a cocktail of various uppers). I've threatened to play this in techno sets before and never got round to it - I'm not sure if that's a blessing in disguise, but surely that beefy classic rockin' riff will have people bouncing around like madmen if deployed at the right time, right?

Can are one of the masters of the long song (although they do short and sweet just as well), and it wouldn't really be fair to do a show like this without including one of their lengthier classics. I was watching their DVD round at Puffin's on Sunday, and I was frankly appalled to see bloody Noel Edmonds (to the uneducated, he's that impish bearded fool who unleashed the horror that was Mr Blobby on the world, and currrently presents Deal Or No Deal in his own inimitable 'I'm a smug git, me' fashion) introducing Can's 'I Want More' on some UK TV appearance. Truly bizarre. Anyway, I've chosen the last track from 'Future Days' - their final album with eccentric vocalist Damo Suzuki - a barmy balearic lilt at double speed that only Can are capable of.

Anyone that knows me fairly well will know how much I adore Talk Talk, especially their final three albums, and I very nearly chose the opening suite of their magical 'Spirit Of Eden' (yet another of my top albums of all time) to feature. Deciding against it due to the fact that it's actually three connecting songs, I plumped for the next best thing. 'New Grass' is taken from their final album, 'Laughing Stock', and showcases the band at the peak of their musical freedom and creativity. It always amazes me how they can make the saddest sounds suddenly flip into sparse motifs of melody that turn the whole piece into a defiant yet delicate heart-tugger that'll keep you coming back again and again to taste it's musical nectar.

Not surprisingly, good old GYBE! haven't been ignored, and the track featured is taken from their monolithic 'Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!' double album from 2000. It's a feat that spawned many a tawdry imitation, and one that even they had trouble bettering (check their disappointing, jam heavy, warzone soundtrack that was 'Yanqui U.X.O.' for reference). 'Sleep' is undoubtedly the highlight of the record, and as you'd expect, it's a multi-sectioned, pseudo-apocalyptic affair. Opening with a mad old man's rant about how the streets just aren't safe anymore, it develops out into a bleak, lazily strummed guitar section accompanied by their trademark delayed guitar squall. When the frankly huge plodding drums finally hit, you get that slight respite from the ever building tension before the percussion gets increasingly aggressive, compounding the eerieness that's gone before into a juggernaut of locomotive melancholy. And that's just the first half! You might be thinking that all this intensity doesn't make for a particularly enjoyable listen, but it really is a masterpiece that conjures up countless powerful and visceral emotions that are bound to engage and enthrall. By the time that the lazy breakbeat comes in at the 18 minute point, I promise that you'll be in aural bliss.

Do I even have to mention anything about DFA synth wizards Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom? The Carl Craig and DFA remixes (the less said about the forgettable Baby Ford one, the better) brought them to the dancefloor's attention, but I can't help feeling that their 'Days Of Mars' LP was one that recieved critical but not public acclaim. Lovely shimmering (almost) beatless workouts from start to finish; it should really spend a lot more time on your home platter than it probably does. 'Black Spring' is my choice pick from the album; pensive arpeggio heaven with a tactfully used bassline that's very close to what I imagine the 'brown note' to be.

Finishing things off we've got the band that will just never die, the legendary Sonic Youth. You've got to give props to any band that'll open their ranks to Jim O'Rourke, right? 'The Diamond Sea' closes their 1995 'Washing Machine' LP, and is a great example of the controlled havoc that they can produce when they're on top form. Yes, the last four minutes of feedback squall are a tad self indulgent, but I'll allow them that right after years of righteous rock'n'roll service. That said, their later material (Jim O'Rourke's debut LP with the band, 'Murray Street' in particular), focuses more on their exquisite grasp of melody and instrumental interplay and is well worth checking out if you're not into all that noisy bollocks. For list's sake (and you know how much we love our lists), here's my top five Sonic Youth LPs:

1) Daydream Nation
2) Murray Street
3) Sister
4) Goo
5) Washing Machine

Apologies about the hastily knocked off commentary this time around, but I promise that next time I'll be much lazier and won't even bother talking about the tracks at all! Here's the full tracklist and listening link:

TAPE Radio - Show #9: 'Is It The Next Song Yet?'
1) Tortoise - Djed // Thrill Jockey
2) Wilco - Spiders (Kidsmoke) // Nonesuch
3) Can - Bel Air // Spoon
4) Talk Talk - New Grass // Polydor
5) Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Sleep // Constellation
6) Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom - Black Spring // DFA
7) Sonic Youth - The Diamond Sea // Geffen

Listen:
TAPE Radio - Show #9: 'Is It The Next Song Yet?'

8 Comments:

Blogger modyfier said...

hey. i am only seeing shows 5-8 on viva when i click through your link...is this one up yet? and also, please don't promise to be lazy...keep rambling on.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Puffin Jack said...

Top 5 Sonic Youth albums:
1. Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star - Odd choice I know but there is something I really love about this album, can't put my finger on it though!
2. Daydream Nation - Seminal stuff indeed.
3. Dirty - Left of centre grunge pop brilliance, one of the first albums I bought.
4. Evol - Trippy 80's psyche.
5. The Whitey Album (Ciccone Youth) - Into The Groove(y), nuff said.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Richard Carnage said...

Modyfier - One of our two Tuesday shows has been replaced (I think due to more Viva contributors jumping on board), so it's now only the later one (UK time 3am... who the hell's up at 3am on a Wednesday morning?). I'd expect it up in the archives in the next 12 hours or so.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Richard Carnage said...

The show's now playing live, so by the time you read this it'll be in the archive that can be found here:

www.viva-radio.com/tape/

Enjoy!

2:48 AM  
Blogger Mr Soft said...

er, carnage, if you remember correctly, the three years i lived with you you were up pretty much every wednesday, not to mention mon, tue, thur, fri, sat, sun, at 3am. You used to wake up at fucking 6pm and go to bed at 11am. you sick bastard....

top 5 sonic youth albums (hardly rocking the boat):

1. daydream nation (obv)
2. dirty (as w/ puffin, one of the 1st albums i ever bought - sugar kane, 100%, chapel hill, theresa's sound world etc - this remains one of the most evocative lps i own)
3. evol (rrrrahh!)
4. murray st (viva o'rourke)
5.a thousand leaves (seriously underrated)

11:54 AM  
Blogger Puffin Jack said...

forgotten about a thousand leaves, top album. Think I better go back and check out Murray Street, I was being a bit militantly techno at the time it came out.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Richard Carnage said...

Has the Puffin finally got the internet at home? I'm expecting some top class blogging from you now - there's no excuse!

7:31 PM  
Blogger Puffin Jack said...

yeah finally!

7:39 PM  

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