Given that the re-birth of TAPE's clubnight is just around the corner, I thought it's about time I start throwing my bantam weight around these pages again. Simple as that, so let's get on with it...Below, a chart consisting of twenty tunes that have stood the test of a long summer's listening and palpably improved my life along the way. Some are as yet unreleased, some are old, some are re-issues, some are dancefloor-oriented, some are not. All are fucking good. So, in no particular order...
JUNIOR BOYS - LAST EXIT // DOMINO Re-issue
So, having had our fill of Junior Boys Mk. 2 – So This is Goodbye being, at times, a little too emo for my tastes, but still home to some incredible songs – especially ‘In The Morning’ which, having already being remixed expertly by Alex Smoke at the beginning of the year (or was it last year?), was given a fresh lease of life by Hot Chip on The Dead Horse E.P. (the result being, like Carl Craig’s mix of ‘Like A Child’, one of the tracks of 2007) – a Domino re-issue gives people like myself who were unfamiliar with Junior Boys Mk. 1 a chance to catch up (did that gargantuan sentence make any sense? I doubt it). Last Exit is, for the most part, the work of Jeremy Greenspan and the now departed Johnny Dark. I don’t know how much credit I should assign to the latter, but Last Exit really is a fantastic album – the production, so much more so than that on So This Is Goodybe, tends towards a brilliantly gritty, techno-inflected 2-step blueprint, the hard electronics and skippy-but-bassy rhythms offsetting Greenspan’s syrupy navel-gazing perfectly. The CD re-issue includes remixes from Fennesz and Caribou, and deserves your dollar.
TANGERINE DREAM - LOVE ON A REAL TRAIN // VIRGIN
I’ve never known how to approach the ‘Dream’s massive oeuvre – an oeuvre riddled, I know, with inconsistencies, works of genius and total turkeys made and released within months of each other. I was pleased, then, when a colleague alerted me to Tangerine Dream’s involvement in the soundtrack to seminal 80s Tom Cruise vehicle Risky Business. Love on A Real Train, the last of (I think) five TD contributions to the score, is an incredibly romantic, evocative synthscape which sounds at once like a future that will probably never come and, er, the 1980s. That, my friends, is the sound of success.
CHAZ JANKEL - MY OCCUPATION // TIRK compilation
Chaz Jankel is another artist I was totally unaware of until recently. Or so I thought. I realize now, having lapped up this sparkling retrospective from Tirk, that I was familiar with at least two of the ex-Blockhead's songs – the prodigiously annoying ‘Number One’ and ‘Ai No Corrida’; but judging from this compilation, those two chart hits are some distance from his best work. Essentially Yazoo-esque high-fidelity disco with amazing synth work, pin-sharp production and afrobeat/punk-funk percussion, it’s party music and it’s gay as hell and all the better for it.
V/A - A KIND OF AWE AND REVERENCE AND WONDER // TWISTED NERVE compilation
I’m not sure why, but I’ve recently experienced a surge of interest in Andy Votel’s Manc-based imprint Twisted Nerve. Actually, I have a good idea why: this summer I recently returned to buying vinyl after a year’s, er, sabbatical (in truth, because I was a blog-raping student and needed more money for cigs, pints and assorted piffle – it shames me to recall it), and thus the aesthetic passion and attention to detail Twisted Nerve shows in its physical products stands out immediately from the racks. But the music titillates too: Toolshed (led by 808:State’s Graham Massey) provides the highlight to this compilation, not to mention Voice of the Seven Woods, who, on both his self-titled LP and the track he contributes to this compilation, does a nice line in acid-fried, instrumental folk that suits autumn’s fringe nicely. If you could avoid the faux-naïve indie-pop outings and self-reflexive krautscapes that continue to pepper Twisted Nerve’s catalogue (and therefore this compilation), you’d probably consider it one of the world’s finest musical stables.
STILL GOING - STILL GOING THEME // DFA/EMI
I’ve ranted about this tune so much over at FACT that I can’t really summon the energy to do it again here. Suffice to say, ‘Still Going Theme’ is the work of Eric Duncan (of Rub-N-Tug) and Olivier Spencer (R-N-T’s engineer and former member of dodgy electro-house trio Mr Negative); it also happens to be one of the best tracks DFA has put out not just this year, but ever. It’s dubby piano-house, with a clarity to its production and sound design that’s awe-inspiring, and it’s quietly momentous melody will stay with you a forever. There’s a snipped to be heard on James Murphy and Pat Mahoney’s brilliant, disco-only Fabriclive mix CD, but by the time that comes out I presume ‘Still Going Theme’ will be doing the rounds anyway. You’re strongly recommended to buy it.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE - PEACEBONE (PANTHA DU PRINCE REMIX) // DOMINO USA
It didn’t cause a massive stir at the time of release, but as 2007 has worn on, Pantha Du Prince’s This Bliss LP, and the track ‘Saturn Strobe’ in particular, have grown hugely in my, and probably your, estimation. Here, Henrik Weber (as he’s known to his ma) takes the last single by Baltimore’s Animal Collective and basically turns it into a Pantha Du Prince record. Seriously, listen to the original and then the remix in quick succession and their utter remoteness from each other will surely make you chuckle. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have another Pantha Du Prince record in your life; and what’s more, the original is actually in and of itself a great song by a hugely overrated band.
MODESELEKTOR - HAPPY BIRTHDAY! // BPITCH CONTROL
If there’s one thing that’s dogged the world of house and techno over the past year or so, no, over the past twenty years or so, it’s a terrible propensity for taking itself too seriously. The return of Modeselektor, then, is to be welcomed – the ape-fixated Berliners have once again turned out an LP that’s incredibly stupid and incredibly likeable. The Siriusmo-featuring track is my personal fave, but this is an album your ears can ride from start to finish without fear of boredom. I was also recently introduced to Modeselektor’s Boogybytes mix CD selection – which in turn introduced me to a wealth of bangers I’d not heard before, including Mu-ziq’s sci-fi breakcore wonder ‘Mu-ziq Theme’. Have a sniff.
BOOF - FIRST DATE // VALVE
This track is currently the one and only track in Maurice Fulton’s myspace player. And what a track. A piece of very 90s-sounding, jazzy downbeat, ‘First Date’ paints a bittersweet picture which suits its title perfectly, poignant strings and shuffling drums giving this track the depth and momentum of real love itself (excuse me, I'm a sentimental toad). Anyhow, this track is available on the album, A Soft Kiss By A Rose, which Maurice made as Boof; alas, it never received a vinyl release.
STUDIO - WEST COAST // INFORMATION
If you haven’t yet heard every Tom, Dick and Heinrich raving about this badboy then, well, for your own sake open some new lines of communication. Originally released in ’06 in a limited run, a timely re-press has seen this LP rightfully receive foaming-at-the-mouth levels of excitement and acclaim. I’ve listened to this record hundreds upon hundreds of times, and I’ve yet to get bored of it. Studio create widescreen, Balearic-referencing soundscapes of unbelievable beauty, melody and (please forgive me) funk. Any fan of Lindstrom, Fleetwood Mac, The Happy Mondays, Primal Scream or The Durutti Column, jesus, any fan of music, who hasn’t heard West Coast – stop reading this and buy your copy NOW. See also their remix of A Mountain of One's 'Brown Piano' - it's nice.
THE BUG - SKENG // HYPERDUB
Every time my interest in dubstep (or, excuse me, bass music) wanes a little, a record like this seems to come along and forcefully re-connect me with the joys of wanton woofer-bating. ‘Skeng’ is a vocal track, but the vocals come courtesy of two of grime’s finest MC’s: Killa P and Roll Deep’s Flow Dan. P and Dan do such a good job with their bleak, properly gangster baritone drawls, but as the ever-reliable Boomkat noted, this kind of MCing is often overbearing in the extreme - 'Skeng' works because their voices are submerged and overpowered by the sheer immensity of The Bug’s production. This is, as Solid Groove once said, sick.
CHLOE - THE WAITING ROOM // KILL THE DJ
Again, a record which I’ve spoken and written about so fondly and passionately over the past month or so that I struggle to do it again. All I can say is, this is a fantastically stylish and substantial record, one which effortlessly flits between techno function, traditional song and textural innovation and ends up being the best avant-minded pop album of ’07 so far (sorry Matthew, you almost had it). If even half the music-loving public was genuinely as open-minded as they claim to be, this would be a bestselling crossover hit. That’s unlikely to happen, but don’t let that stop you picking it up – trust me, you’ll still be playing it ten years from now.
MOODYMANN - I'D RATHER BE LONELY [KDJ]
Moodymann’s catalogue scares me, I won’t lie to you. A bit like Theo Parrish. I mean, where do you dip in? Well, I heard someone spinning ‘I’d Rather Be Lonely’, Kenny Dixon Jr’s latest one-sided 12”, and suddenly realized that a doorway had opened for me. What a track this is. I mean…Amp Fiddler’s vocals, the jazzy keys, the drums...Urban psychedelia of the highest order. Phenomenal. Phenomenal.
LAWRENCE - THE NIGHT WILL LAST FOREVER // MUTE/DIAL/LADOMAT
Another oldie, but I only really heard this record for the first time two months ago. I’ve acquired a copy since, and while it fails to trump the heaven-sent arrangements, melodies and production of its follow-up (The Absence of Blight), it’s intricate and expressive enough to shit on 90% of records ever made. Peter Kersten is a genius, of that there can be no doubt. His latest on Dial (‘Pond’) and Mule Electronic (‘Rabbit Tube’) are more abstract but finely textured works – check them out.
MARK E - R&B DRUNKIE // GOLF CHANNEL
It’s a party record, simple as that – one so simple and so potent that anyone who DJs in a public place should automatically own one, maybe two copies. ‘R&B Drunkie’’s basis is a Janet Jackson song (don’t ask me which), given a New York disco bump, spit and polish by Manchester’s Mark E. That’s all there is to it, really – no severe edits, no massive builds or breaks – just a heavy, 4x4 R&B track for dancing and life-affirmation.
L.PIERRE - DIP // MELODIC
Some records induce you such an exquisite, borderline-unbearable sense of place, are so evocative and visual, that you struggle to believe others can be as stimulated by the same record. This album, released earlier in 2007 to very little fanfare, is for me one such record – it puts me in mind of dreams, childhood memories and shards of half-remembered TV shows that are dizzying in their, er, vividity. Much of this is, I’m certain, down to Lucky Pierre himself – former Arab Strapper Aidan Moffat, with a small accompanying ensemble – who’s named the tracks on ‘Dip’ and designed its sleeve in such a way as to summon memories (or imagined memories) of a quintessentially British seaside bleakness/hopefulness. There’s even shameless tide sounds, actually. So not so personal at all. But still a brilliant album – the second track on Side A has the power put a rosy tint on near any distress or disappointment you could possibly suffer. The very fact that this LP has made me speak in as wanky fashion as I just have should make you seek out a copy even faster.
THE SOFT PINK TRUTH - DO YOU PARTY? // SOUNDSLIKE
This is one messy sounding record, for sure, and it’s been around for a couple of years, but…what an album. The Soft Pink Truth, like its parent project Matmos, manages to affect a tricky synthesis of humour, high-falutin’ concept and spot-on production that most electronic musicians would struggle to comprehend, let alone execute; unfortunately, the music, or at least the structuring and sequencing of that music, sometimes suffers. There are considerable shortcomings to Do You Party?, shortcomings it’s difficult to confidently track or verbalize, but shortcomings all the same. The simple fact of SPT’s existence, however, fills me with such scintillating fucking indie-kid joy that I’m happy to let him (Drew Daniel) get on with it. If you’re based in or near London, make sure you catch him live at The Rocket on Holloway Road next month as part of The Wire’s 25th anniversary celebrations.
SMITH & MUDD - VEGETABLE SQUARE // CLAREMONT 56
Carnage (among others) has been singing the praises of Mudd to me for over a year now (hell, we even feature an interview with the fella on this site); and though I didn’t doubt his testimony for a second (an mp3 of ‘54B’ was an indication of Mudd’s talents), it’s taken me this long to register fully quite the extent of those talents. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of his Claremont 56 LP in the post, but the latest 12” on his label of the same name has been satisfying me plenty in the meantime. The impossibly lush Idjut Boys remix is a particularly enchanting listen, and boy is it a long listen. Last Saturday I popped it on the turntable, then realized I was out of fags or teabags or some such and nipped out to the newsagent down the road. I came back fifteen minutes later, and the ‘Version Idjuts’ was still happily unfolding, so beautiful and beatific in its Balearic vision that for a minute London’s raw chicken-coloured sky took on an Ibizan glow. Serious. Oh, and after years of modest disco service, it’s been great to see the Idjuts step into the limelight a little this year – their remixes of this, that Kenneth Bager tune and Altz (on Death From Abroad) are all sterling and worthy of your attention.
FLYING LOTUS - RESET EP // WARP
When I think of Warp these days, it’s difficult not to think of Maximo Park and their twat-in-a-hat of a frontman. Of course, it goes without saying that Warp was once the home of incredible innovation in the electronic arts. It still is, to some extent, but each new Gravenhurst record seems to take it further away. Thank fuck, then, for the new EP from Flying Lotus, some Californian chap who’s name I can’t remember but is apparently Alice Coltrane’s nephew or something. His ‘Reset’ EP, out very soon on Warp, is a wonderful distillation of everything that was good about, er, trip-hop. Nice breaks, cleverly teased soul samples and other 90s staples make up these tracks’ mass, but the squelchy, distorted basslines and general sense of focus are more in keeping with today. Check the ‘Lotus’s myspace for his excellent remix of a Mr Oizo track; apparently the two of ‘em are working on tracks together at the moment n’all…
ARIL BRIKHA - EX MACHINA [PEACEFROG]
OK, so a lot of it sounds like Sasha. but if, like me, you have an enduring weakness for the genre which will, no matter what creative peaks it reaches, forever be known as "trendy trance", then you're in for a treat. A lack of vinyl release has prevented this album from becoming the word-of-mouth hit it almost certainly would have; consider this all the word-of-mouth you need, and consider buying the CD immediately.