Friday, 25 February 2011

Music before work

I love listening to a bit of music over breakfast. This David Tagg piece is a beautiful one with which to start the day.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Interview - Kyle Bobby Dunn

Canadian musician Kyle Bobby Dunn has been an important figure on the electronic music scene for several years. But the release of his new album, A Young Person's Guide, seems to have thrust him into the spotlight more than anything that came before. In an interview with electronixxx, he spoke about why he makes music, his love of films and his decision to abandon a pop project with his brother in 2006.

Electronixxx: What are your thoughts on the reaction you've had to the new album? It's been well-received - but does it matter to you what others think?

Kyle Bobby Dunn: I suppose it's come as a bit of a shock. There was quite a rush of material from me in 2010 and it all seemed well-received. I'm not sure why. I think listeners are interpreting it and liking it for their own reasons and that's fine - my idea and theirs is probably completely off though.

Electronixxx: Is the record a continuation of your ouevre, or do you see it as a departure or extension in some way of your aesthetic?

Dunn: The material on it was recorded during other things that actually came out before it, but I felt everything included herein follows a more cohesive, general idea. Something like my Six Cognitive Works tried to do the same thing, but even those songs were recorded around the same time as Young Person's Guide, so I don't know. I'm often working on something or trying to digest how I feel about a work. Sometimes things wind up all over the fucking place and I apologize, sort of.

Electronixxx: Finishing the album must have been very rewarding. But while making a record, are there times when you wonder if you will ever get to the end of it?

Dunn: No, it didn't work like that. Young Person's Guide especially had no parameters in place. It started one frigid, miserable night in 2004 in Greensboro with the song 'Second Ponderosa' and it all came together as a realized whole in the late autumn of 2009 after discussing the recordings with Gareth Hardwick at Low Point. He suggested that the works arrive as a 2 CD set, including the digital release from earlier in the year, 'Fervency', which I had wished had more to it in the first place. I'm sorry again - that was sort of a stupid release.

Electronixxx: Are there any musical projects you've had to abandon because of that?

Dunn: Me and my brother were working on some pop songs in 2006 that never got completed. Me and my good friend Joshua Barsky have been trying to coordinate a record for several years. I am just a much better solo worker. I find it incredibly difficult trying to split a vision with someone else.

Electronixxx: If you were to offer guidance to a newcomer to your music, where would you encourage them to start in your back catalogue and why?

Dunn: I think it's obvious that Young Person's Guide (although it's not my first release) may be the most daunting but appropriate place to start with my work, and possibly end. Who knows if anyone wants to hear more from a guy named 'Kyle Bobby Dunn' after putting up with 2 hours of that?
The Sedimental release 'Fragments & Compositions' may be liked by someone who likes the cold-hearted, the bleak, or the damned.

Electronixxx: What do you listen to while you're in the middle of making a record? Some novelists, for instance, only read poetry while writing to avoid unconsciously incorporating other people's styles into their work.

Dunn: Yeah, that makes sense that writers do that. I love a lot of classical music. Everything from Bach, Part, Shostakovich, to Satie and film composers like Jerry Fielding and such. It doesn't really affect my musical ideas. I think about their music, but I'm not pressured by it.

Electronixxx: What writers / film-makers / artists are you interested in?

Dunn: Recently, really into weirdo films on VHS that have been out of print since the 80s or 90s. I've always loved Peckinpah, Tarkovsky, Melville, Malle, Malick, Bunuel - I could go on for hours. Film is probably my favourite art. I do a love a lot romantic and impressionist painters, and definitely appreciate what Mondrian did.

Electronixxx: Broader question: why do you make music?

Dunn: I recently told someone that it was a release of certain feelings or memories unto a musical canvas. One that can be revisited. But that makes little to no sense probably. I still think strongly about the things that lead me to write about them and then, with the recordings, there they are encapsulated in a way. So I am not really relieving myself of things so much as brooding on them and possibly conjuring up a frightening manifestation at times. I don't know why I make these sounds - it just seems like the only way for me to articulate or feel some kind of release with.
Exorcising the demonsm, I suppose.

Electronixxx: What words would you use to sum up your sound?

Dunn: I've often said haunting, dulling, numbing. Some have said glacial, beautiful, lulling. It's better when someone else can decipher it, as I often hate the terms usually applied.

Electronixxx: Would you still make music if no-one listened to it? Or is recognition central to the artistic act?

Dunn: Not at all. My work is ultra personal. To the point where I am pretty amazed that anyone likes it or people want to release it. I know I am pretty negative. But I have been a performer of this music for many years now and live in a city where you really have to put up with a lot of shit piles. I've met some great voices along the way though. My artistic act is probably a bit of a joke to some viewers. Performing still is the strangest part of being someone who makes music.

Electronixxx: Is the internet destroying music or helping it burgeon in new ways?

Dunn: Don't know. Without it, now, we could maybe fall into a pit of shit because we take it very seriously, or actually do things that are more interesting again. Like the 90s kind of was.

Electronixxx: As a youngster, what first sparked your interest in music?

Dunn: I think the same qualities that draw me to it today. Something moving, haunting, gripping. It was often very quiet sounds and movie music that I remember having the hugest impression on me as a kid. Still does.

Electronixxx: What do family / friends make of your music?

Dunn: They say nice things, like they 'feel' they should. But I have no idea. Most my family has very bad taste in music.

Electronixxx: You're Canadian - do you feel this comes through in the music you make? If so, how?

Dunn: Maybe in its openness? Its sometimes largeness and emptiness. I think a lot about Canada and my memories and certain people from it when I am working on my music. So I hope it gives off something.

Electronixxx: You're in Brooklyn now - what's the music scene there like? And is it important to be in the middle of a vibrant scene if you're a musician?

Dunn: I came here for mixed reasons, but the music scene was certainly not one of them. I later found out about certain art spaces and places that offer new and different music, but some of it is barf-inducing and I feel both like a clown and an outcast among the music scene here. I've played some good spaces though. There's some great old Brooklyn cathedrals here that I think are a perfect space for playing live.

Electronixxx: "A Young Person's Guide" sounds like a Britten reference. Is it intended to be? If so, or if not, what was the thinking behind the album's name?

Dunn: Not a reference to his Young Person's Guide, or Niblock's or King Crimson's or anyone else. It's kind of a humourous title. I'm sure people even think its a bit smug or pretentious. But it means exactly what it sounds like. Music for a young or person who is unfamiliar with my work. I am sort of a detached person and can't help it.

The album is out now. Click here to buy it

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Ghostly International plan new compilation series

News arrives today of a new experimental music compilation series that the boys at Ghostly International are working on. The first one will feature tracks from the Caretaker, Peter Broderick, Kyle Bobby Dunn and others. SMM: Context is described by the label as the first release in their new yearly compilation series of evocative, exploratory music.

In 2004, Ghostly cooked up the meaningless acronym SMM in an effort to label the music hovering in the boundaries between classical minimalism, electronic and drone composition, film soundtracks, and fragile imaginary landscapes. The upcoming SMM: Context features a hand-picked selection of what they descirbe as some of the world’s finest musicians from Poland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, North America and the UK.

This is the tracklisting.

01. Goldmund – "Motion"
02. Leyland Kirby – "Polaroid"
03. Svarte Greiner – "Halves"
04. Christina Vantzou – "11 Generations Of My Fathers"
05. Jacaszek – "Elegia"
06. The Fun Years – "Cornelia Amygdaloid"
07. Manual – "Three Parts"
08. Aidan Baker – "Substantiated"
09. Rafael Anton Irisarri – "Moments Descend On My Windowpane"
10. Kyle Bobby Dunn – "Runge’s Last Stand"
11. Peter Broderick – "Pause"

The release date is March 1.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

New Ghost Box music on the way

Ghost Box HQ has issued some updates on how they are all getting on over there, and the news for us is good. There are re-issues of The Focus Group's Sketches and Spells and Belbury Poly's The Willows that are available right now if you click here
But new material is also on the way - including a new album from the Advisory Circle.

They say:

"Next releases on Ghost Box will be numbers 5 and 6 in our Study Series of 7" singles. One is by special Ghost Box guest Jonny Trunk and the other by a teaming of The Advisory Circle's Jon Brooks with Seeland's Tim Felton working under the name Hintermass. Both very exciting additions to the series, they should be available this March, like all the Study Series these are limited and will not be repressed so make sure you watch out for our next newsletter to pre-order yours.
"In May(-ish) we'll have the new album from The Advisory Circle - As The Crow Flies, we've heard Jon's final mixes and we really think its his most breathtakingly beautiful work to date. Then in late summer we'll be presenting the new album from Belbury Poly. You'll hear previews of these and other forthcoming Ghost Box releases on the monthly Radio Belbury stream show over at our sister site, The Belbury Parish Magazine.
"And finally some confusing news just in from The Moon Wiring Club. The first pressing of the vinyl and CD versions of A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding is sold out pretty much everywhere. There may still be a handful of copies in our shop by the time you read this, but the CD (not the vinyl alas) is being repressed right now. As you may know the LP was very different from the CD and this being the bewildering world of Gecophonic Records this second edition of the CD will have the same contents but a new cover (do try to keep up at the back there). So look out for this in our shop later this month."

James Blake and Luther Vandross

I've given the James Blake record a few spins now since it came out and two things spring to mind. Firstly, there is an awful lot of vocoder on it. I can't really understand why, because he does have a good voice. You can see the influences still - Antony Hegarty at times, Nina Simone and Tracy Chapman at others, with the odd dash of Bon Iver.
But, and this is my second point, I'm sure I also detect a touch of Luther Vandross - which is very odd. If you don't believe me, listen again to these two records below. The way Blake intones "my love" in the first minute or so of The Wilhelm Scream is prime Vandross. Follow it up by listening to "Endless Love" and watch out for the way Vandross enunciates "my endless love" at the very end of that slushy dirge.
The thread is lost after a while in the Wilhelm track as the electronics wash out the mix, but I'm sure I can hear Luther in there.

Have a listen:

here for Blake's Wilhelm Scream


here for the Luther vibes

The big question for me now is: does this mean Luther Vandross is underground?

Monday, 7 February 2011

Theo Parrish and the new Wire magazine

Just got the latest Wire in the post today. Theo Parrish is, as you can see, the cover man. Odd in a way, given the review his new record, Sketches, was given last month. In it, Peter Shapiro says: "Inevitably, Sketches is comprised of just that - sketches, Parrish doodling in the margins of his notebook during Professor Carl Craig's jazz history lectures. These are unfinished songs that were lying around Parrish's hard drive and touched up to justify the sticker price."

Ouch. Luckily Derek Walmsley was the one assigned for the interview. Surprisingly, he makes no mention of the album's lack of merit.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Music for a Sunday morning

Maybe it's the power of advertising, but when I think of Sunday mornings, I think of the languid, lazy Commodores song, "Easy". And this Halifax advert from the mid-80s is the reason.
Sunday seems to lend itself to such leisurely interpretations. And why not - Sundays are a day of rest, after all. But isn't Sunday also the day that creepingly reminds us we have to go back to work and grind it out for another week? Where is this sense in the Commodores track? If anything, Sunday's should be more like this:

But, if we're being a little more upbeat, perhaps Alan Partridge got it right with his dim-witted interpretation of the U2 song, Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Mike Paradinas and the hunt for DJ Nate

Planet Mu boss Mike Paradinas has spoken to the highly regarded student newspaper at York University about his attempts to track down DJ Nate when he first heard his music. The interview - which you can see here - offers a brief but fascinating glimpse into the work of an independent label head trying to chase after artists he wants on his roster. He says in the interview that he made several fruitless attempts to contact Nate via myspace, before bizarrely hearing from a high school teacher who was running the DJ's website.

Paradinas said: "First of all I tried his, numerous, Myspaces but he never read the messages and we received no replies. So we gave up for a bit, and started the Terror Danjah Gremlinz project to fill that release slot. Then the next year after another potential release fell through, I tried contacting him again, but to no reply. After a while Thomas (at the label) found a “Bakasworld” website and we emailed him there and we received a reply from Mbiganyi Lashani, a high school teacher, who built Nate’s website and was acting as his manager at the time. Eventually we got hold of Nate, and got some tracks off him."

Reading between the lines, was Nate not interested in working with Planet Mu, or is he just a very hard man to track down?

Since then, Paradinas has been bombarded with footworkers interested in having their music put out - much of which he has had to decline. The Planet Mu man says a 2nd volume of Bangs and Works is on the way next year, but it seems 2011 will be spent doing detective work in the search for the next DJ Nate.

The music your parents listen to

Like most people, much of my early interest in music came from what my parents played. Often, it was only heard while we were driving around. I can remember thinking there was something dark and compelling about Blue Monday when I first heard it on a Now compilation as a young kid in an old Vauxhall. That was a false dawn though, because most of my childhood was spent singing along to things like Lionel Richie and the Eagles. Not to mention Phil Collins.
We did get to hear some slightly hipper records now and again, such as a Fleetwood Mac mixtape and the albums of Michael Jackson, but - who am I kidding - most of the time I was happy to sing along to the INXS tape my Mum liked.
Years later, my Dad's obsession with Pink Floyd's Meddle was at first scorned, before I listened to it and saw what he was talking about. Unfortunately, I didn't share his interest in Supertramp.
My Dad has always taken music more seriously, but my memories as a child in North Wales are of my Mum's tapes played against a backdrop of the weak sunshine and white houses of Trearddur Bay. And I wonder whether it was her endless pile of Now compilations that eventually led something to click, led me towards what is now almost a pathological obsession with music.
It took years to get over my interest in naff, clunky pop. I suspect that as a teenager at boarding school, I couldn't always tell the difference between a good record and a bad one. I would listen to Atlantic 252 every day - often for hours a day - but don't recall in retrospect losing my affection for the dreadful records of Shaggy until I was about 14. I remember as a teenager thinking for a few weeks that Jon Secada's Just Another Day was in some way a fairly profound lament. Maybe it is still now and I won't admit it, or maybe in those formative years, my brain still working itself out, I didn't know what I was on about.
Things changed after my Mum bought me a rave compilation for Christmas. Much of that now seems gauche, but at the time it felt revolutionary. When you're used to listening to Charles and Eddie on the radio, The Orb's Assassin does rather stand out.
I still have some tapes from my parents' collections - ones that I snatched on trips back home. They never listened to them anyway. And so old, chewed up cassettes from people like Joan Baez, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen do still get airplay in the house once in a while.
I might as a teenager have scoffed at their taste, but they were right more often than I realised.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Low have new album on the way

Low have a new album out - and that must be a good thing. Low are one of those bands who have just rumbled along for years without ever really doing anything wrong. They're like a very solid defensive midfielder who no-one really notices - but without whom our lives would be a mess.
The band's latest LP, C’mon, will be out on April 11 on Sub Pop.

The group's UK press people say C’mon was recorded in an old church in Duluth and mixed in Hollywood with producer Matt Beckley working alongside the band. Singer Alan Sparhawk describes C’mon simply as "Warm, pretty, large - like Nashville without the country. Mim and I are talking to each other in the lyrics, sometimes it's not pretty, but it's as honest as love."


In addition to that, the band are off on tour from the middle of March. Here are some of the dates:

Wednesday, March 16 – St. David’s Sanctuary (the SXSW festival) - Austin, TX
Monday, May 16 - Queens Social Club - Sheffield
Tuesday, May 17 - Classic Grand - Glasgow
Wednesday, May 18 -The Sage Gateshead - Gateshead
Thursday, May 19 - Club Academy - Manchester
Friday, May 20 - Trinity - Bristol
Friday, June 3 - Barbican - London

Click here for full more dates

PR bosses say the "lead" track is Try To Sleep. You can hear it by clicking here

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

What's on the stereo at electronixxx

I've been listening to a vast amount of music recently - hours and hours every day. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm listening to now. I just let it flow over me. I'm normally insanely uptight about things like that, so the new year has seen a change of some sort. Which is nice. These are some of the things that have been getting a lot of airplay recently:

1. Shackleton Vs. Kasai Allstars - Mukuba Special
2. Lovesliescrushing: CRWTH LP
3. Kisses: People Can Do The Most Amazing Things
4. Destroyer: Kaputt
5. Com Truise: Cyanide Sisters EP
6. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma: The Garden of Forking Paths LP
7. John Coltrane: Giant Steps LP
8. Tangerine Dream: Dream Sequence LP
9. Ikonika: Ingredients
10. Mozart: Don Giovanni
11. Sugarcubes: Birthday
12. Ariel Pink: Before Today LP
13. James Blake : Limit To Your Love
14. Nicholas Szczepanik - The Silhouettes of a Winter Sunset
15. Nest - Far From Lands

Bryan Ferry and the green suit

Somebody bring back this look.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

4Hero's Dego involved in a new record

Not sure what Dego from 4Hero does with his days now, but he's helping out a singer I've never heard of with a new record. Sarinah Leah is putting together some new music with the Dego man. This is what she has to say about it (complete with exclamation marks):

"Heyyyyyyoooo!!! My friends.. i was gonner put this on facebook but then i thought wait a minute!!..... My blog is the place to inform you of my music adventures too soooo....i wanted to let you know (Most High Willing) i plan tomorrow to record my vocals for a track for an incredible producer from 4 hero called Dego..

4hero are an electronic music band from Dollis Hill, northwest London, usa comprising producers Mark "Marc Mac" Clair & Dennis "Dego" McFarlane. While the band is often cited as "4 Hero" or "4-Hero", the name is presented as "4hero" on their own albums and websites."

Love the way she talks about 4Hero as if no-one will ever have heard of them.
Anyway, click here for more

New Jonny Greenwood soundtrack

Just seen this on the obscure mama miriama band website. Jonny Greenwood has a new soundtrack on the way, this time for the film Norwegian Wood. Isn't it good?
This link is as much fun to go through for its use of pronouns as anything else. Check here