Category Archives: Electronica

LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change (2010)

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On their 2010 album This Is Happening, LCD Soundsystem feature the slice of pure early-80s synthpop that is ‘I Can Change’. Think Soft Cell or Depeche Mode as you listen to the songwriters (band member Pat Mahoney and band frontman James Murphy) looking to save a relationship by becoming a completely different person. “I can change, I can change, I can change, if it helps you fall in love.” No trouble there then.

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The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (2000)

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I’ve featured some turntablist art this week, but ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ is the cherry on top. The track’s sampled sounds are from the most unusual and diverse set of easy listening artists and others, including Enoch Light, George Barnes, Harvey Mandel, Flip Wilson, Maurice Jarre, Dexter Wansel and Sesame Street’s Count von Count. One just wonders how Darren Seltmann, Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi found the time and inspiration. This hugely entertaining mastermix featured on the classic Since I Left You, the debut studio album by The Avalanches. Have a great weekend.

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Fatboy Slim – Sunset (Bird Of Prey) (2000)

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In the late 1990s, Norman Cook had a purple patch of nailing memorable samples. None better than his use of Jim Morrison’s spoken-word poetry from the The Doors’s posthumously released ‘Bird Of Prey’. Fatboy Slim’s big beat classic ‘Sunset (Bird of Prey)’ originally surfaced on his 2000 album Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars. It stands the test of time.

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Lambchop – So Modern And So Tight (2019)

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It feels as if Kurt Wagner is on the final leg of a protracted musical journey. ‘So Modern And So Tight’ is so far removed from the americana of 2000’s Nixon and 2002’s Is A Woman, that it would be unrecognisable as a Lambchop production was it not for Wagner’s voice (albeit via a vocoder). Their new digital work certainly tips its hat to Justin Vernon, but the bands’s honest alt country roots and unexpected tack make the sound more than just derivative.

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Tame Impala – It Might Be Time (2019)

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Hypnotic drums, stabbing keyboards, techno crashes, rave sirens, questions about purpose… in a week of returns, Kevin Parker and Tame Impala are back with ‘It Might Be Time’. Their new album The Slow Rush is expected to drop in February. Have a great weekend.

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Caribou – Home (2019)

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Ooops… the end of Daylight saving time has knocked out my own clockwork. I give you a mid-morning from Caribou’s Dan Snaith. His output has been a relatively regular feature on this blog. The mathematician (PhD from ICL) has come up with a new formula for 2019… one part Caribou, one part The Avalanches. It’s brief and it’s a blast. Have a good week.

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Vagabon ‎- Mal à L’aise (2017)

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Halfway through Vagabon’s 2017 debut Infinite Worlds, multi-instrumentalist Lætitia Tamko steps away from her brand of New York indie rock to feature the track ‘Mal à L’aise’. With its synth loops and reverb-heavy mutterings in English and French, the album’s detour is experimental and welcome.

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9 of the best – sounds of nineties

Good morning. It’s a little bit later than normal but hopefully worth the wait. I participated in Portsmouth’s Great South Run yesterday, which was was celebrating its 30th anniversary with a 1990s party. It was fun, but no semblance of the decade’s best songs involved. I give you my favourite nine sounds in chronological order. I have to say this is by far the toughest best-of list that I’ve published… just look at the quality of sound that I demoted to honourable footnotes.

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (1991)

R.E.M. – Nightswimming (1992)

Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye (1994)

The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979 (1995)

Oasis – The Masterplan (1995)

Sparklehorse – Cow (1995)

Radiohead – Let Down (1997)

Mercury Rev – Holes (1998)

Wilco – She’s A Jar (1999)

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Honourable mentions also go to: Cocteau Twins for ‘Cherry Coloured Funk‘ (1990); Pulp for ‘Babies‘ (1992); Pavement for ‘In The Mouth A Desert‘ (1992); Blur for ‘To The End‘ (1994) and ‘The Universal‘ (1995); Beastie Boys for ‘Sabotage‘ (1994); The Flaming Lips for ‘Placebo Headwound‘ (1995) and ‘Race For The Prize‘ (1999); Radiohead for ‘Fake Plastic Trees‘ (1995); Red House Painters for ‘Have You Forgotten‘ (1996); Spiritualized for ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space‘ (1997); and Röyksopp for ‘So Easy‘ (1999).

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9 of the best – sounds of 1990

Looking beyond the pervasive sounds of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and ‘World In Motion’, 1990 had so much more to offer. For the weekend, I give you my favourite sounds that year, in no particular order…

Primal Scream – Loaded

Beltram – Energy Flash

Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro

Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence

Cocteau Twins – Cherry Coloured Funk

Smallage – Together

The Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds

Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring

Adamski feat. Seal – Killer

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Honourable mentions also go to: Enigma for ‘Callas Went Away‘; Happy Mondays for ‘Step On‘; A Tribe Called Quest for ‘Can I Kick It?‘; Faith No More for ‘Falling To Pieces‘; The KLF for ‘Wichita Lineman Was A Song I Once Heard‘; Lush for ‘De-Luxe‘; The Charlatans ‎for ‘The Only One I Know‘; and LFO for ‘LFO

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Nils Frahm ‎- Says (2013)

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Like last month’s post of Martin Roth’s ‘An Analog Guy In A Digital World’, this sound from Nils Frahm is a serene interlude. ‘Says’ features on his 2013 album Spaces. He creates a pure, pulsating soundscape that is both contemporary and classical.

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Japan ‎- Quiet Life (1980)

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Formed in Catford in 1974, Japan comprised David Sylvian on vocals, his brother Steve Jansen on drums, Richard Barbieri on keyboards, Mick Karn on saxophone/bass and Rob Dean on guitar. These glam rockers were influenced by artists like T. Rex, Roxy Music, David Bowie and Lou Reed, all eminently unfashionable by the time the band hit their stride during the UK punk era. But their fortunes turned around with the emergence of the New Romantic movement. Suddenly their androgynous image and the addition of synthesisers made them cool. Success followed, and it, in turn, poisoned the relationship between Karn and Sylvian; Japan split in late 1982. The title track off their 1980 long player Quiet Life is where this change started.

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Martin Roth ‎- An Analog Guy In A Digital World (2016)

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… and now for something completely different. In 2016, German DJ and producer Martin Roth self released the single ‘An Analog Guy In A Digital World’. I think a lot of us can empathise.

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Depeche Mode ‎- Behind The Wheel (1987)

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In 1987, Depeche Mode created a larger sound, were about to embark on a mammoth world tour, would break through in America and document that success in the classic live album 101. I remember putting the needle on the vinyl and hearing the live versions of ‘Pimpf’ and ‘Behind The Wheel’ for the first time; that initial wall of sound would not be matched gain until ‘Airbag’ opened OK Computer nearly a decade later. ‘Behind The Wheel’ kicked off Side Two of the ambitiously named LP Music for the Masses.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1991

A compilation for my hangover. Also a compilation for what looks like its going to be one of the last sunny days in September. I was immersed in dance music in 1991, but R.E.M., Nirvana, Mercury Rev and Lenny Kravitz were able to break into a best-of list otherwise dominated by the sound of house music.

Orbital – Belfast

Mercury Rev – Frittering

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

Moby – Go (Woodtick Mix)

Future Sound of London – Papua New Guinea

R.E.M. – Losing My Religion

George Michael – Cowboys and Angels

Lenny Kravitz ‎- It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

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Honourable mentions also go to: Saint Etienne for ‘Nothing Can Stop Us Now‘; My Bloody Valentine for ‘Only Shallow‘; De La Soul for ‘A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays‘; Photon Inc. for ‘Generate Power (Wild Pitch Mix)‘; Crystal Waters for ‘Gypsy Woman‘; Altern 8 for ‘Infiltrate 202‘; Björk for ‘Hyperballad’; A Tribe Called Quest feat Leaders Of The New School for ‘Scenario‘; Slam for ‘Eterna‘; Frankie Knuckles for ‘The Whistle Song‘ and Last Rhythm and Silvie Carter for ‘Last Rhythm‘.

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The Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds (1990)

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The Orb is an electronic music group founded in 1988 by Alex Paterson and The KLF’s Jimmy Cauty.  By 1990, Paterson and Cauty had fallen out and the former was now working with old school friend and bassist of Killing Joke, Martin “Youth” Glover. Youth had come across a recording of an interview with Rickie Lee Jones, in which someone asked her: “So what were the skies like when you were young?”. The two of them sampled her answer and mixed with a whistling harmonica from Ennio Morricone, some drums from Harry Nilsson’s Jump into the Fire and some other stuff. This was ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’; this was ambient house.

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