Today is Piano Day. I am in favour of this. The piano is the best instrument. 🎹
The clip above is of every recording of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie № 1, put together by an artist called Hey Exit. Each recording is timestretched to the length of the longest one, and they are placed on top of each other. It’s a brilliant idea, with a truly ethereal sound.
Music for Airports is not even Eno’s first ambient album, despite its Ambient 1 moniker. But it certainly is the most important.
Music for Airports is both experimental and timeless. Bold yet gentle. You can consciously listen to it. But it may also affect your mood without you consciously being aware of it. Or in the words of Eno, “it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”
It was a genuinely new idea. It introduced the notion of designing music for a specific purpose, yet was still packaged as a pop album. A stunning concept.
But how would we feel if music like this was played in an airport? Would it be a calming influence? Or would it grate like Muzak?
I have been shamefully late to discover Mica Levi, and Micachu and the Shapes. This is a track from the band’s 2012 album Never. It contains a lyric that made me laugh out loud, which doesn’t happen very often.
What happened when one person started up his iPod for the first time in 15 years.
…I also came across music and artists which made me wonder what on earth I was thinking of when I loaded their tracks into iTunes. If I could talk to my 2002 self, I would sit him down and explain that Limp Bizkit’s album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water is an abomination and not at all funny (my London music buddies and I thought it was hilarious at the time)…
…looking back through the playlists on my first and oldest iPod I was struck by the fact that some of the music from 2001 and 2002 seemed far more dated than some of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.
I certainly have a memory of music from 2001/2002. In fact, because of my age, it is precisely when a lot of my favourite music was released. But I do wonder what I would discover if I found my iTunes library from that period, warts and all?
This is the opening track from the 2001 album Claro by Brothomstates. That was a special purchase for me, because it was the first IDM album I bought. I already knew I liked this sort of music because I was exploring what I could with whatever clips of tracks I could find online. But Claro was the first full album of this genre that I had heard. This was opening up a new world of sonic possibility to me, and I never looked back.
Wintry weather brings this album to mind. I have vivid memories of walking around my home town of Kirkcaldy in icy weather while listening to Claro on a Discman.
In particular, this opening track, In, epitomises the chilly vibe. The piercing synthesised staccato whistles may as well be icicles falling from the sky.
When thinking of what jam to feature this week, as the Beast from the East descended on the UK, I could make no other choice.
The Lightning Seeds were one of the first bands I really liked. They don’t seem to have as much indie-cred as I think they deserve. Maybe that’s what happens when your biggest hit is a football anthem.
Sense is a little bit before my time, but I still think it’s one of their finest songs.
A lot of bands I liked wilted somewhat after Radiohead released Kid A. Not Massive Attack. 100th Window may not be their most admired album. But I thought it was one of the few that successfully met the Kid A challenge.
Gone were the trademark trip-hop beats that made them so successful in the 90s. In came a more clinical, experimental electronica sound. It switched some people off, but I think elements of this album are superb. It was an impressive reinvention, but it was also still unmistakably Massive Attack.
There may be no real science behind the concept of Blue Monday. But there is definitely something strange about mornings in January.
I always go back to work as soon as possible after the new year. On my morning walk to work, the streets are dark unlike any other time of year, and eerily quiet.
It’s now a new year tradition of mine to spend my first morning walk of each week listening to Blue Jam. Chris Morris’s peerless radio programme of the late 1990s mixed dark comedy with downtempo music. It was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in the small hours of the morning, maximising its unsettling vibe.
That vibe seems to suit these weird, dark Mondays in January.
I used to think I got my proggy tendencies from my dad. However, he was recently dismayed to learn that I like Yes, who he says are too noodly. I guess I developed an excellent taste in music all by myself.
I took the opportunity to see Radiohead when they played at Glasgow Green this summer as part of the Trnsmt festival. Even though they have been one of my favourite bands for over 15 years, I had never actually gone to see them before. Read full article
Pleased to have got my hands on the new Autechre EP (for charidee). For some reason my Autechre release detection radar was switched off, and by the time I discovered it, it had sold out. I eventually tracked down some copies on Juno Records. One of 1,000 copies.
Excellent radio with a passion for the unusual: Steve Davis and Stewart Lee discussing their love of experimental music on the BBC, and the triumphant return of Iain Lee to late nights. Read full article
In a sense, Freaks is Pulp’s most interesting album — probably because it is also the band’s worst album. The original suffered from a rushed production. So could a remastered edition cast a new light on the recordings? Read full article
I made the trek through to Edinburgh on a school night for the rare opportunity to see Adam Buxton's Bug show in Scotland. Although I was feeling the effects today, it was well worth it. Read full article
I was delighted to receive Uncommon by Owen Hatherley from a friend at Christmas. I am a huge Pulp fan, but this book had slipped under my radar. Pulp are a great subject for a book, but this analysis ultimately disappoints. Read full article