Friday, December 31, 2021

Wire ballot 2021 albums + tracks of year

 my ballot for best albums + tracks 2021 for The Wire magazine's annual round-up 

Dry Cleaning New Long Leg (4AD)

PinkPantheress “Break It Off” (Parlophone)

ToiToiToi Vaganten (Ghost Box)

Insides Soft Bonds (Further Distractions)

Foodman Yasuragi Land (Hyperdub)

Saint Etienne I’ve Been Trying To Tell You (Heavenly)

Oneohtrix Point Never featuring Elizabeth Fraser “Tales From The Trash Stratum” (Warp)

Proc Fiskal Siren Spine Sysex (Hyperdub)

Wet Leg “Chaise Longue” (Domino)

Dry Cleaning “Bug Eggs”/“Tony Speaks!” (4AD)

other contributors ballots can be found here 

they don't seem to have posted the ballots for archival releases as yet, but here's mine - with links to appropriate reviews or bloggige 

Ann Southam – The Reprieve, The Emerging Ground (Creel Pone)

Anton Bruhin – Speech Poems / Fruity Music (Black Truffle)

Suburban Lawns – Suburban Lawns (Superior Viaduct)

Acen – Trip to the Moon 2092

Seefeel – Rupt and Flex (1994-96) (Warp)

Janet Beat – Pioneering Knob Twiddler (Trunk Recordings)

The Stick Figures – Archeology  (Floating Mill Records)

Beatriz Ferreyra – Canto+ (Room40)

Van Der Graaf Generator – The Charisma Years 1970-1978 (Virgin)

Goldie – Timeless:   25 Year Anniversary (London)

Faust – 1971-1974  

Monday, December 27, 2021

blurbs for Spin's 90 Greatest Albums of the '90s

 full run-down here

7. Björk, Post (Elektra, 1995)

Björk’s career has been a series of test cases to determine just how much strangeness a song can contain and still work as pop. On Post, the Icelandic eccentric revelled in the possibilities opened up by the multiplatinum success of 1993’s Debut (her first solo album after quitting the Sugarcubes). Instead of playing it safe, Björk brought the weirdness—from jazz fusion’s edgy tonality to dance music’s rhythmic science. In retrospect, she’d felt that Debut had been too tame. “I had very safe pop songs…and I was sort of shy and humble toward the whole thing,” she said in 1995. “This time I felt more at ease.”

Shedding the boutiquey qualities that allowed some to dismiss her as a Sade for the ’90s, Björk hooked up with multiple collaborators to forge an eclectic tour de force that challenged the agility of her starburst voice. The orchestral grandeur of “Isobel,” the technoid seduction of “Possibly Maybe,” the industrial juggernaut of “Army of Me,” and the big-band retro romp of “It’s Oh So Quiet” each highlight a different facet of her fascinatingly mutable identity (magic-realist dreamer, cyber-diva, space-pixie, etc.). These personalities are further dramatized in a series of brilliantly inventive videos such as “Army of Me” and its Tank Girl tyke. A TV-friendly ambassador for all things avant, Björk offers electronica with a human face for those intrigued by new sounds but alienated by the genre’s anonymity.

Post helped popularize the modern idea of an album as a delicatessen,” says Björk collaborator Graham Massey of techno outfit 808 State. The two tracks co-written and co-produced by Massey—”Army of Me” and “The Modern Things”—actually date from the Debut sessions. Recorded in just one day in 1991 at a Manchester home studio, the demo versions were deemed too harsh for Debut‘s lush sound-world, but the songs were reactivated for Post. The lyrical concept of “Army of Me”—Björk in tough-love mode telling a self-pitying friend to shape up—was suggested by the implacable, monolithic groove, not vice versa. “Most vocalists just sit in the corner and get tortured over the lyrics,” Massey says. “But being a formidable musician as well as a singer, Björk develops melody before words—the lyrics all start out as this wordless mumbo jumbo. That approach works brilliantly with electronica, ’cause you’re forming the music as you go along.”

The album is also very much a product of the creative turmoil of 1994-95 London, where Björk had relocated from Iceland. Jungle was exploding out of the underground, and strange hybrids such as trip-hop were percolating. “If Björk had moved somewhere else, like New York, it would have been a totally different album,” Massey says. Yet Post was actually recorded and mixed in the Bahamas at Nassau’s famous Compass Point Studios. According to DJ/U2 collaborator Howie B., who engineered Post, “Despite being in this Caribbean vacation paradise, we only had one day off in three weeks. And because the studios have no windows, we might as well have been in London.” Björk did record some of her vocals with her feet in the ocean, though, thanks to a long microphone cord.

The frigid climate of Iceland was the setting for two collaborations with Tricky—the sensuous “Headphones” and the shatteringly intense “Enjoy.” “They were like rough demos,” says Tricky, who later dated Björk. “I kept waiting for her to say, ‘Let’s take them to an expensive studio.’ But Björk had the courage to release the songs as they were, and that still shocks me. She ain’t scared of nothing.” Of their first meeting, Tricky says, “I thought she was mad cute but didn’t think anything would come of it—she was on a different planet than me, a superstar.”

But then, the cool thing about Björk is precisely the elegance with which she manages to straddle the murky underworld of marginal music and the overlit overground of MTV pop. Certified gold in the U.S., Post represents Björk’s balancing act at its high-wire pinnacle. 

14. Tricky, Maxinquaye (Island, 1996)  

Revealing former Massive Attack member Tricky as one of the most inventive producers and lyricists around, Maxinquaye also helped establish “trip-hop” as a genre (though Tricky himself fiercely rejected the term). The album was recorded almost entirely in London, but it has everything to do with Bristol, Tricky’s hometown. “In the ’80s, all the different ghettos were interbreeding,” says Tricky’s friend Mark Stewart, formerly of avant-funksters the Pop Group. “We’d all be checking out reggae ‘blues’ parties, industrial-punk events, and hip-hop jams.” You can hear this Bristol mix percolating in Maxinquaye‘s hybrid soundscapes that incorporate everything from Public Enemy’s righteous noise to garish art-rock weirdness and postpunk angst.

“Mark Stewart, he’s my chaos,” says Tricky of the mentor who acted as unofficial executive producer on the single “Aftermath,” Tricky’s first solo recording outside Massive Attack. It was Stewart who persuaded Tricky to scam funds from Massive’s management for studio time, and after blowing half the money on booze, the pair finally recorded a downtempo haze of “hip-hop blues.” Outside his house, Tricky met teenage student Martina Topley-Bird while she was waiting for a bus, and he invited her to sing. There may have been a fourth conspirator—Tricky believes the postapocalyptic lyrics were channeled from his mother, Maxine Quaye, who committed suicide when he was four.

Tricky offered “Aftermath” to Massive Attack but says Massive’s 3D told him, “It’s shit, you’ll never make it as a producer!” While “Aftermath” languished on cassette for three years, Tricky sank into depression, complete with marijuana-induced hallucinations of demons in his living room.

After a collaboration with engineer Howie B disintegrated because of management conflicts, Tricky and Topley-Bird went to work in a home studio. The massively acclaimed Maxinquaye works as both an autobiographical account of one man’s struggles and as a cryptic allegory. Capturing the orphaned drift of the mid-’90s, just as Sly Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On had crystallized the curdled idealism of the early ’70s, the album concerns the inability of Tricky’s generation to even imagine a utopia. “We’re all fucking lost!” Tricky declared in 1995. “I can’t see how things are gonna get better. I think we have to destroy everything and start again.” Yet despite its relentlessly bleak vision, Maxinquave‘s sheer aesthetic splendor makes it oddly life-affirming.

16. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (Sire, 1991)

Almost as famous for the reclusive silence that followed its release as its swoon-inducing reinvention of rock guitar, Loveless was itself a long-delayed sequel to a critically acclaimed predecessor (1998’s Isn’t Anything). “Loveless cost £270,000 [now $430,000], and nine years ago that was a fortune,” says Alan McGee, head of the band’s U.K. label, Creation. “MBV were in the studio relentlessly—all-night sessions virtually every day for two and a half years. I could see my label slipping away. I’d even mortgaged my house! In the end, I had to emotionally blackmail [Valentine leader] Kevin Shields to get him to finish.”

MBV were daunted by acclaim, according to McGee, and their emotional confusion was complicated by their immersion in London’s dance scene. “We all went to house clubs three times a week, getting shitfaced and having these intense spiritual experiences,” McGee recalls. All that psychedelic excess fed the group’s creative process, pushing MBV to breakthroughs such as the Ecstasy-addled rave ‘n’ roll of “Soon” and the blissful blur of their trademark “glide guitar,” which was copied by a legion of “dreampop” bands (Lush, Ride, Slowdive, etc.). Eventually, McGee repaired his friendship with Shields, and sometime last year, Loveless even recouped the money spent on it. 

24. Massive Attack, Blue Lines (Virgin, 1991)

Massive Attack’s debut is a ferment of arty bohemia, dancehall dub-culture, and imported B-boy street beats, born in the laid-back coastal city of Bristol, England. The album’s torpid BPM rate was a break from the hyperkinetic norm of the time and was influenced by artists ranging from Isaac Hayes to PiL. From the latter, Massive also derived the idea of operating as a collective: the inner core was 3D, Mushroom, and Daddy G, but they drew on a range of satellite talent—soul chanteuse Shara Nelson, roots-reggae nightingale Horace Andy, producer Jonny Dollar, and a rapper then known as Tricky Kid.

The orchestral soul epics “Unfinished Sympathy” and “Safe From Harm,” sung by Nelson, were U.K. chart hits. But Blue Lines‘ most inventive tunes are “One Love,” a skank-tempo jazz-fusion ballad crooned by Horace Andy, and “Daydreaming,” a showcase for the low-key, British rhyme style launched by Tricky and 3D. “We knew we couldn’t be Rakim or Slick Rick, so we drew on the reggae sound-system vibe and came up with our own thing,” Tricky says. This meditational style fit the stream-of-semi-consciousness lyrics like a glove. “People associate it with smoking weed, a sort of Bristol-style detachment from real life,” 3D says.

Blue Lines‘ merger of British art-rock and American soul basically defined trip-hop. “That album inspired me to start a label,” says UNKLE chief and Mo’ Wax founder James Lavelle. “UNKLE wouldn’t have happened without Massive’s idea that you could be a collective rather than a band. Blue Lines is my favorite album of all time.” 

45. Basement Jaxx, Remedy (Astralwerks, 1999)

Reflecting the rarely acknowledged diversity of late-’90s house music even as it pushes that genre’s envelope to the bursting point, Basement Jaxx’s debut, Remedy, stands among the most inventive dance albums of the decade. Based in South London, the Jaxx—Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton—call their wildly impurist style “punk garage.” “What we admire in deep house and American garage is the music’s untouchable sexiness, which U.K. house has always lacked,” says Ratcliffe. “At the same time, we like to rough up that polished sound with some English punk attitude.”

It results in killer tunes like “Same Old Show,” based around a surprisingly eerie vocal loop from “On My Radio” by British ska revivalists the Selecter, and “Jump N’ Shout,” with its raucous dancehall reggae vocal and menacing gangsta-strut bass line. Remedy‘s every-which-way creativity also encompasses the Timbaland-style stutter beats of “U Can’t Stop Me” and funk fantasia of “Rendez-Vu” and “Yo-Yo.” “When we started out, we were just trying to be house producers,” says Ratcliffe. “Now that we’ve achieved that, we’re trying not to be house producers.” 

56. Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (R&S, 1992), Selected Ambient Works Volume II (Warp/Sire, 1994)

In terms of sheer sonic beauty, Aphex Twin’s debut, Selected Ambient Works 85-92, is simply the best pure electronic album of the ’90s, offering the most emotionally and texturally rich synth-musik since prime Kraftwerk. But what made creator Richard James that rare thing, the techno icon, wasn’t just his genius for exquisite melody but the slyly fabricated Aphex mythology, i.e., James as rural child prodigy, constructing his own synthesizers from scratch and sleeping two hours a night.

Many in the Aphex cult were thrown for a loop by Selected Ambient Works Volume II, a triple album of eerie, ultraminimal tonescapes mostly devoid of melody or beat. James claimed many tracks were “based on sounds I first heard while dreaming. When I wake up, I go straight into the studio and try to create what I’ve heard.” Volume II is an awe-inspiring feat of avant-techno texturology and mood-sculpture, but Aphex aficionados remain divided. “The first album is a pop album,” reasons James’s friend Mike “u-ziq” Paradinas. “Volume II takes a long time to learn to like, but it’s probably more rewarding.” 

60. The Prodigy, Music for the Jilted Generation (XL/Mute, 1994)

After “Firestarter,” the notion of Prodigy as a futuristic rock band doesn’t seem startling. But in 1994, Music for the Jilted Generation was a shocking reinvention, rocketing the group out of Britain’s rave culture and winning them an audience of alt-rockers. The grungy guitar on “Their Law” and “Voodoo People” helped convert many. But the album’s concept also got them taken seriously as spokesmen for youth: The Prodigy’s Generation J was Generation X with a U.K. spin—alienated kids whose weekend rave nirvana was being threatened by repressive policies. “There was never trouble at the outdoor raves we used to play,” says Maxim Reality, Prodigy’s MC. “It was just serious government paranoia about youth massing together.”

The album is perfectly poised between the E-beat roller coaster of the group’s 1992 debut, Experience, and the cyberpunk postures of 1997’s rocktronica breakthrough, The Fat of the Land. Jilted‘s stand-out is “Poison”—the first time the Prodigy used “real” rather than sampled vocals and down-shifted into hip-hop boombastics. “Poison” was “the stepping-stone toward ‘Firestarter,'” says Reality, who supplied the track’s fierce vocals.

Jilted begins with a voice-over: “I’ve decided to take my work back underground, to stop it falling into the wrong hands.” Despite beatmaster Liam Howlett’s obsession with street cred, Jilted showed that the Prodigy’s irrepressible populism had them locked on an unstoppable course for global stardom. All that remained was for vocalist Keith Flint to change his hairstyle. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Pitchfork 2020 album of year / track of year blurbs

 Beatriz Ferreyra, “Echos”

Argentinian composer Beatriz Ferreyra is renowned for the disorienting spatiality and shapeshifting abstraction of her electronic and tape-based work.  Which is why the human scale and raw intimacy of “Echos” startles so. Recorded in 1978, but released for the first time this year via Lawrence English’s Room40 label, the piece is woven entirely from the voice of Ferreyra’s niece Mercedes Connu, who died in a car accident. Snippets from Latin American popular songs and non-verbal sounds like breathing and coughing are cloaked in reverb, multiplied into a choir-of-one, or juddered with manual shakes of the tape. In places, the young woman’s voice flickers and trembles with playful delight, sounding impossibly alive. At other points, the melted murmurs and shimmered syllables feel soothing and psalm-like – as though the girl’s ghost is mourning herself.  Listening to “Echos” is as poignant as stumbling upon a roadside shrine of flowers, candles and photos left by family and friends at the site of a collision. Ferreyra goes beyond creating a memorial to Mercedes, though: she defies Death itself and resurrects her lost dear one as an aural apparition. Heard at any time in the four decades since its making, “Echos” would be touching. But in a year like the one we’ve endured and that is not done with us yet, it breaks your heart. 

Burna Boy, Twice As Tall

Back in the 20th Century, we imagined the music of the next millennium as a harsh, mechanistic grind or an overdriven frenzy of twitchy glitches.  Afrobeats is a prime example of the future-pop that actually transpired, a hyper-digital sound far easier and oozier on the ear.  As befits an artist obsessed with being a superhero, Burna Boy’s music is thoroughly posthuman: much of its super-sweet succulence comes from the way the singer’s lilting cadences and sinuous melodies mesh with Auto-Tune to exquisitely tremulous and twinkly effect. Rhythmically, his Afro-fusion concept is outward-facing, connecting Lagos to Kingston, Atlanta, New York, and London.  The historical sweep of the music is equally broad, not simply focused on this-minute sounds but drawing across several decades for influences and collaborators, the latter ranging from ancestral icon Youssou N’Dour, through Nineties legends like Timbaland, Diddy, and Naughty By Nature, to more recent stars like Stormzy.  Lyrically, Burna muses on fame, destiny, striving, and, on “Monsters You Made”, the legacy of colonialism in Nigeria. But these Fela-like or Marley-esque moments tend to melt into the glide and glisten of the sound. “I no be politician / Me no like no politics”, Burna admits, and that rings true. Twice as Tall ultimately triumphs not so much for its substance as for its shimmering surface - a landslide victory for the politics of pleasure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

1995 dance music ballot for Orbit / Melody Maker


1/ Plug 1 -- Visible Crater Funk (Rising High)

2/ Asend -- Take Your Soul (Second Movement)

3/ Droppin' Science/Safari Sounds -- Vol 4: Long Time Comin'

   (droppin science)

4/ Alex Reece -- Pulp Fiction (Metalheadz)

5/ Droppin' Science -- Vol 5: Step Off

6/ MA2 -- Hearing Is Believing (Remix) (Formation)

7/ AFX -- Hangable Auto Bulb EP

8/ DJ Die & Roni Size -- 11-55 (Full Cycle/V Recordings)

9/ Tek 9 -- Slow Down (Nookie Remix) (off 'Enforcers 8',


10/ DJ Krust -- Set Speed/Poison (Full cycle/V)


1/ Omni Trio -- The Deepest Cut (Moving Shadow)

2/  Oval -- 94 Diskont (Mille Plateaux)

3/  Mouse On Mars -- Iahora Tahiti (Too Pure)

4/ A Guy Called Gerald -- Black Secret Technology (Juice Box)

5/ Various Artists -- Macro Dub Infection (Virgin)

6/ Wagon Christ -- Throbbing Pouch (Rising High)

7/  Various Artists -- Routes From the Jungle: Escape Velocity (Virgin)

8/ Aphex Twin -- I Care Because You Do (Warp)

9/ Techno-Animal -- Re-Entry (Virgin)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Top 5 Glam + glitter faves

 (written on a train, in a hurry, into my phone - for some promotional purpose or other, I forgot - in other words, not a definitive list  - but on the other hand, as a ultra-condensed core canon, not a bad place to start either)

T. Rex - Get It On, 1971

The ultimate Bolan boogie, slinky and so sexy - the blues shuffle made ethereal and elfin.

Alice Cooper - Elected, 1972

Hilarious political satire as Cooper pretends to run for President but sounds genuinely grandiose and megalomaniacal - while the music is punk rock four years ahead of schedule.

Roxy Music - Beauty Queen, 1972

Shimmering ethereal ballad from the most arty and experimental of the glam groups, featuring Bryan Ferry's lyrical evocation of a female glamour ideal who makes his "starry eyes shiver".

The Sweet - Teenage Rampage, 1974

Hysterical fantasy of youth taking over the government and rewriting the laws, propelled by tough riff action that anticipates the Sex Pistols.

David Bowie - Fame , 1975

Blistering, scorching funk meets Bowie's frigid hollow-souled anguish at the paranoia and disorientation of stardom.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Desert Island Discs

 (cannot remember who or under what circumstances someone quizzed me on this topic)

Desert Island Discs

List 1: Absolute faves

John's children midsummer night scene

Sex Pistols No Fun

Roxy music beauty queen

Slits, cut

Michael Jackson, rock with you

Smiths, there is a light that never goes out

My bloody valentine, slow

Orbital, chime

Omni trio, renegade snares (foul play VIP remix)

Aphex Twin, we are the music makers

Aaliyah, one in a million versus Groove Chronicles 'stone cold' ( second song samples the first)

Future, fuck up some Commas

LIST 2 - therapeutic comfort listening to make desert island bearable

Beethoven, pastoral symphony

Byrds, younger than yesterday

Love, forever changes

Miles Davis, in a silent way

Al Green, 20 greatest hits

John Martyn, solid air

Robert Wyatt, rock bottom

Joni Mitchell - hissing of summer lawns

Brian eno, another green world

King tubby's special (disc two)

Smiths Hatful of Hollow

Aphex twin, selected ambient works 1985- 92

Sunday, August 15, 2021

how the 21st Century so far looked to me... in 2017

Who's the Best Artist Since 2000....

no overall single figures springs to mind, i'd have to divide it up into categories and with multiple contenders jostling for the top spot

* Pop Star as Public Figure -  Kanye West versus Ke$ha (with Gaga not far behind on sheer zeitgeist points and with the proviso I've little appetite for the audio bar "Bad Romance". i suppose you would also have to honestly mention Drake somewhere here)

* Performer / Vocal Presence-  Future versus  Ke$ha versus Dizzee

* Beat-maker  - Terror Danjah versus Metro Boomin versus Mustard (aka Dijon McFarlane - no really that is his actual  name).

* Pop Group in the Bygone and Obsolete Sense - Vampire Weekend versus Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.

* Endless personal pleasure tinged with awareness of marginality in the scheme of things - Ghost Box versus Moon Wiring Club versus Ariel Pink

* A Compelling Case to Be Made although somehow I don't quite feel it fully myself - Burial versus Radiohead versus Daft Punk

I feel I''m forgetting things from the first half of the 2000s but it all feels quite long ago and hazy...

[this derived from this blogpost, which was in reference to this Dissensus Thread]

A blogpost that led indirectly to this -  a thread (among many others) that led to this

Saturday, July 17, 2021

grime 2005

Blackdown (aka Martin Clark) asks me and a bunch of grime-covering journalists about our favorite tunes of the year. 

Here's what I supplied (not sure why some US rap tunes have slipped into my selection):

Kano Featuring D Double E & Demon, "Reload It"

Lethal Bizzle "Against All Oddz"

Kano "Sometimes"

Bruza "Not Convinced"

Three 6-Mafia "Stay Fly"

Vex'd “Degenerate” (Planet Mu)

Skream "Midnight Request Line"

Doctor, Bearman, L Man and Purple "Let It Go" From Eye Of The Tiger Vol 1

Virus Syndicate "Major List MCs" From The Work Related Illness

Roll Deep "Shake A Leg" and "When I'm Ere"

Lowdeep "Str8 Flush"

Crazy Titch "Sing Along"

SLK "Hype! Hype!" (DJ Wonder refix)

Lady Sovereign "Tango" from Bitchin EP

Ying Yang Twins "Pull My Hair" and "Wait (The Whisper Song)"

Kano "Remember Me"

Wiley "Morgue"

Kanye West  - "Addicted," "Crack Music", "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" (From Late Registration)

I also slung Martin this little appreciation of "Reload It" (strangely not admired by others in the grime punditocracy, don't know why) which I had penned for Grime Primer I did for the Wire earlier that year (aka the 7th essay in the Hardcore Continuum series)

Kano Featuring D Double E & Demon, "Reload It"

“Circling back to "Bound 4 The Reload" (arguably the first grime track, no seriously, think about it: electro-bass plus MCing) this track celebrates the pirate and rave tradition of the DJ rewind, when the crowd hollers (or home-listening audience text-messages) its demand for the selector to wheel and come again.”

“Up until grime, the trigger for rewinds would be a killer sampled vocal lick, thrilling bass-drop, or even just a mad breakbeat. Nowadays, the MC being king, the crowd clamors to hear their favourite rhymes. ‘This is what it means when DJs reload it/That sixteen was mean and he knows it,’ explains Kano, before listing the other top dog MCs who get nuff rewinds (two of them, Double and Demon, guest on the track). ‘I get a reload purely for the flow,’ Kano preens, and you can see why as he glides with lethal panache between quick-time rapping and a leisurely, drawn-out gait that seems to drag on the beat to slow it down.”

“The track itself, co-produced by Kano and Diplo, is all shimmery excitement, pivoting around a spangly filtered riff that ascends and descends the same four notes, driven by a funky rampage of live-sounding drums, and punctuated by horn samples, Beni G's scratching, and orgasmic girl-moans. The old skool breakbeat-like energy suggests an attempt to sell the notion of Grime as British hip hop, yet if Trans-Atlantic crossover is the intent, that's subverted by the lyric, its theme being as localized and Grime-reflexive as imaginable. "Reload It" encapsulates the conflicted impulses that fuel this scene: undergroundist insularity versus an extrovert hunger to engage with, and conquer, the whole wide world.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The A to Z of the Eighties - A Definitive Guide to the Decade (SR contributions only) - Melody Maker December 23-30 1989

This was great fun to do but arduous - as a staff writer, you had to do your Herculean bit for these big package features -  there's about 40 or so micro-essays from me here, super-distilled little takes on phenomena, figures, fads of the '80s - some of my favoritest scenes and sounds, and some of my least favoritest scenes and sounds. 

I'm not sure if any research as such was done - where could you go to do it in those days? There was no internet, there might have been some old magazines lying round the house, but no reference works on the '80s as such. So it mostly was all pulled from my memory, sharper then, and dealing with quite recent stuff - but still,  no doubt some errors crept in there on the factual front.  

Talking of errors - as they're non-bylined, and this is over thirty years ago, I'm like 97% certain these are all by me, but apologies if I've accidentally trawled in something by Stubbsy or the Studs. 

Of course other writers got to do things I would have liked to cover, so it's not a total Zeitgeist-scan according to Moi, but .... not that far off, actually.  

It's how I saw things precisely then - the winter of '89 - and  not always necessarily how I see them today, or indeed how I saw them within a year or two of writing.


Friday, June 11, 2021

faves of the 2010s - tracks

These were my votes for best tracks of the second decade of the 21st Century in the Pitchfork poll of critics

Placement wise, there was some strategic voting going on here - and at the bottom I've added rather a lot of things I thought of later that I either should have included but forgot, things that rose in my estimation in the last year or so, and some that I didn't actually hear until after the decade ended.   

Unlike with albums, there's vastly less of the "critic head" here - tracks are about a pure hit of pleasure, rather than metrics like artistic ambition or approving of what the group is aiming for or other non-hedonic criteria. This is the stuff where I turn up the volume when it comes on the radio.

1 Future: Fuck Up Some Commas  

2 Ke$ha: We R Who We R  

3 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: "Round and Round" 

4 Migos: T-Shirt  

5 Sage the Gemini: Gas Pedal  

6 Travis Scott: Goosebumps  

7 Migos: Slippery  

8 Haim: Honey and I  

9 Young Thug: "Constantly Hating" [ft. Birdman]  

10 Rae Sremmurd: Black Beatles  

11 Gotye: Somebody That I Used to Know [feat Kimbra]  

12 Tinashe: "2 On" [ft. Schoolboy Q]  

13 eMMplekz: Gloomy Leper Techno  

14 Migos: Top Down on Da NAWF  

15 Vampire Weekend: Diplomat's Son  

16 Future: All Right  

17 The Weeknd : Low Life [ft. Future]  

18 Migos: MotorSport  

19 Metronomy: The Look  

20 Maria Minerva: A Little Lonely  

21 Rae Sremmurd feat. Nicki Minaj: Throw Sum Mo  

22 Kanye West: Black Skinhead  

23 Schoolboy Q: Studio  

24 Jeremih: "Oui"  

25 Lorde: "Royals"  

26 Kendrick Lamar: "Swimming Pools (Drank)" 

27 Loski x Russ x Taze : Olympic Chinging  

28 Migos: Bosses Don't Speak  

29 Dev: In the Dark  

30 Chief Keef: On the Corner  

31 Bruno Mars: Locked Out of Heaven  

32 Tyga: Rack City  

33 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: White Freckles  

34 Migos: "Bad and Boujee"  

35 Travis Scott: Antidote  

36 One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful  

37 21 Pilots: Stressed Out  

38 Future: I'm So Groovy  

39 Schoolboy Q: Collard Greens  

40 Carns Hill: Waps (Remix) (feat. Monkey, Dimzy, R6 & Youngs Teflon)  

41 Drake: One Dance (feat. Wizkid and Kyla)  

42 Rae Sremmurd: No Type  

43 Lil Wayne: Knockout (feat. Nicki Minaj)  

44 Desiigner: Panda  

45 Ty Dolla $ign: Paranoid [ft. Joe Moses] 

46 Zomby: Mercury's Rainbow  

47 Tame Impala: Elephant  

48 Eartheater: Inclined  

49 J Hus: "Did You See"  

50 Die Antwoord: Jou Ma Se Poes In 'n Fishpaste Jar  

What's missing: 

Sophie - "Faceshopping"

Billie Eilish - "Bad Guy"

Geneva Jacuzzi - Love Caboose

Mark Van Hoen - "Holy Me"

Big Sean - "Dance (A$$)"

Big Sean - Beware

Big Sean - Bounce Back

A dozen more Migos tunes frankly 

Icona Pop  "I Love It"

Kendrick Lamar - ‘bitch don’t kill my vibe’

Lorde - Teams

Post Malone, "Rockstar"

Lil Wayne - How to Love

regrettably some Chris Brown tunes ('Loyal' etc)

Ty Dolla Sign - "Paranoid" 

Daft Punk - Fragments of Time, Contact, the one with Panda Bear on

more Ariel Pink - Menopause Man, "Stevepink Javascript feat. R. Stevie Moore", the Ethiopian tune he done ripped off on Before Today,  etc

Pharrell - Happy

Several more Travis Scott tunes

Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines

Actress, 'Supreme cunnilingus'

Giggs - Lock Doh feat. Donae'o

Giggs and Mr Eazi – London Town

Giggs and Donaeo – Linguo 

Giggs - Monsta Man

La Roux - In for the Kill

La Roux - Bullet Proof 

Etta James featuring Flo Rida, “Good Feeling”

Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass”, "Beez in the Trap"

Maria Minerva, “Hagasuxzzavol” 

D'Angelo - Prayer

lots more DJ Mustard bits

Kesha - Blow, 

Kesh - Backstabbers (technically 2009 I think, fuck it)

Rihanna - Cheers

Aphex Twin - Original Chaos Riff (technically a reissue or archival first-issue, fuck it)

Bon Iver and James Blake - Creek Fall Boys Choir

More Young Thug

More Chief Keef

More UK drill

Far East Family, "Like A G6

Oneohtrix Point Never - Preyouandi

Lana Del Ray, "Video Games"

YG – Big Bank

YG - Why ya always hatin'

MGMT - several, obvious things, but particularly "When You Die"

James Blake - If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead 

Daphne & Celeste - You and I Alone

The Inhuman League - You Were Working as a Waitress in A Cocktail Bar

Naomi Elizabeth - the Topic is Ass

Holly Herndon  - Fear, Uncertainty Doubt 

Ariel Pink - Another Weekend  

Jeremih - Royalty

Y.G., "Toot It and Boot It"

Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kids"

Gesaffelstein, "Piece of Future"

John Foxx & the Belbury Circle, "Almost There"

Nightshift, “Made You Look (Hugo Massien Remix)”

Ariel Pink, “Put Your Number In My Phone”

Theo Nasa, “Area 51”

Area 8, “On My Level” 

The Weeknd, "The Hills" 

Let’s Eat Grandma, “Eat Shiitake Mushrooms”

David Bowie, "Blackstar"

---- "Where Are We Now"

Mike Posner, “Pill in Ibiza”

Fat Joe/Remy Ma/French Montana / Infrared, "All the Way Up"

Yo Gotti, “Down in the DM”

Lil Uzi Vert, "XO Tour Llif3"

Rich the Kid, "Plug Walk"

Gucci Mane featuring Migos, "I Get the Bag"

 Miguel featuring Travis Scott, "Sky Walker"

Laibach, "The Lonely Goatherd"

Sunday, June 6, 2021

faves of the 2010s - albums

These were my votes for best albums of the second decade of the 21st Century in the Pitchfork poll of critics

Placement-wise, there was some strategic voting going on here - and at the bottom I've added some things I thought of later that I either should have included but forgot, or got into after the decade ended.   

A lot of these albums, when I look them, especially as we get further down beyond the Top 30 - they're really there for one, or maybe two, tracks that are so immense in my mind that they bring the rest of the record along with them. And although I do my best to fight against it (occupational hazard of the professional critic this), a few have managed to creep in there that are admirations, rather than things  that induce voluptuous delight and are actively listened to repeatedly. 

1 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Before Today

2 Migos: Culture

3 Haim: Days Are Gone 

4 Future: Dirty Sprite 2 

5 Metronomy : The English Riviera

6 eMMplekz: Rook To TN34

7 Various: Bangs and Works Vol 1: A Chicago Footwork Compilation

8 Travis Scott: Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight

9 Rangers: Suburban Tours

10 Migos : Culture II

11 Vampire Weekend: Contra 

12 Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal 

13 Maria Minerva: Tallinn At Dawn

14 Gonjasufi: A Sufi and a Killer

15 Ariel Pink: Pom Pom 

16 Moon Wiring Club: When A New Trick Comes Out, I Do An Old One

17 Rae Sremmurd: SremmLife 

18 Rustie: Glass Swords 

19 Kanye West: Yeezus 

20 Let's Eat Grandma: I, Gemini

21 Assembled Minds: Creaking Haze and Other Rave Ghosts

22 Moon Wiring Club: A Fondness For Fancy Hats ~ Soft Confusion

23 Hybrid Palms: Pacific Image

24 D.D. Denham: Electronic Music in the Classroom

25 Traxman: Da Mind of Traxman

26 Young Thug: Barter 6 

27 Future: Purple Reign

28 eMMplekz Your Crate Has Changed: Your Crate Has Changed

29 Future: Future

30 Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d city

31 Ekoplekz: Four Track Mind

32 Moon Wiring Club: Cateared Chocalatiers

33 Amnesia Scanner: Another Life

34 eMMplekz: You Might Also Like

35 Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Kid

36 D'Angelo / The Vanguard: Black Messiah

37 Proc Fiskal: Insula

38 Mica Levi: Under the Skin OST

39 Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica 

40 David Bowie: Blackstar

41 Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes

42 Moon Wiring Club: Today Bread, Tomorrow Secrets

43 Actress: Splazsh

44 The Knife: Shaking the Habitual

45 Moon Wiring Club: Playclothes from Faraway Places

46 Future: Evol

47 Baron Mordant: Mark of the Mould

48 Young Echo: Nexus

49 Jlin: Black Origami

50 Die Antwoord: $O$

Should have added; 

Eartheater – Isiris 

Lo Five - Geography of the Abyss 

The Caretaker end of time epic

Ekoplekz, Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1

KWJAZ, s/t

Kang Ding Ray, Or

Jon Brooks, Music for Thomas Carnacki

More Moon Wiring Club!

More Ekoplekz!

Any eMMplekz records I didn't include above!

Oneohtrix Point Never -   R Plus 7

Arca - Xen (impressively mutated and unpleasant!)

some Lee Gamble - the jungle-revenant one certainly

Chino Amobi - Paradiso

David Bowie, The Next Day (mostly for the first single off it really)