I WON’T bore you with the sordid details. Suffice to say – once more, with feeling – it is a brilliant and fantastic thing that I can get to hear beautiful and amazing new music for free, because if I had to pay for it I’d be up shit creek.
So let’s hear it for illegal file-sharing.
I am joking, of course. The only illegal downloading I’ve done this month is a long-deleted single by an old hippie punk band from Somerset by the name of Null & Void, your honour. I will immediately grass up those dirty squatters at Kill Your Pet Puppy for putting me on to that one, God bless ‘em.
The fact is, I’ve not heard Stay for about 25 years and listening to a rip of the original scratchy vinyl again made me very happy. And yes, now that I’ve got a decent enough quality download, I probably won’t bother buying it again.
Is that killing the music industry? No, I don’t think so either. I’ll try to make more of an effort in the future, promise.
I couldn’t begin to speculate how big a fan of the music biz RQM is, but his grand tour of Europe’s underground cultural hotspots seems to be producing results regardless. His new release the Colours Fade EP reveals a seemingly bleaker, darker and more twisted outlook than previously – although maybe that’s something to do with his relocation from warm, sultry Barcelona to chilly, austere Berlin. Or maybe not. Either way, sleazy does it.
Among a clutch of excellent remixes of the ketamine-comedown title track by the likes of Chris de Luca and Glue Kids, it’s slow-burn intensity and the woozy low-end throb of JF’s version that does it for me. Truth be told, I’m not feeling the EP’s other track to quite the same extent but the Siriusmo mix of Atomic Fusion is definitely worth a listen.
Ben Davis used to be part of the Paperecordings ‘empire’ and in fact is currently “taking the label forward” into the digital age with Pete Jenkinson. Ben is also developing his Flash Atkins alter-ego (pictured), which allows him to disguise an uncanny resemblance to celebrated Big Brother snide ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman with the aid of a red and yellow mask and superhero costume.
This down-at-heel superhero, who once saved the world through his ability to manipulate sound, now spends much of his time staring into the bottom of a pint glass in Hebden Bridge, thinking about what might have been. His latest electro-tinged Eighties-style groover Sweetshop (you can see the very clever video here) is a good deal poppier than the stuff that Paper used to put out – it’s got a vocal and everything – but I prefer Magick Johnson’s more dancefloor-orientated effort myself.
I might even save some of my pocket money and buy it.
Although some of this stuff – like RQM and Flash Atkins – is the product of a very 21st century kind of cottage industry, other bits of it wouldn’t be available to me without the help of what remains of the mainstream music industry, so maybe I shouldn’t wish too much ill will to it.
Then again, could you call the label that brought us the Uncarved Block, Birthday and Pro-Gen mainstream? I dunno. Either way, One Little Indian have just signed Wild Palms, London-based purveyors of agreeably taut and angular punk-funk that will strike a chord with fans of bands like Wire, the Fall, Gang of Four and Talking Heads.
Their debut single Over Time from last year (above) was a beautifully tense little slice of spiky, cock-sure artiness and the label have sent me an mp3 of the b-side of their forthcoming single Deep Dive, a neat reinterpretation of Bjork’s Human Behaviour. Not to put too fine a point on it, I think Wild Palms are fucking great.
I might have found my new favourite band on the strength of just two songs. Seriously. And they’re playing some kind of warehouse party in Manchester next week. More news as I get it.
The only other new act that have made any kind of impression lately are the crazed turbo hip-hop ravers die Antwoord. If you’ve not come across them yet, imagine what the Gorillaz would look like if they were real people, but poor, white, South African, with weird haircuts and seemingly covered in prison tattoos, and you’ll begin to get a sense of the look rocked by die Antwoord. There’s a school of thought that they are in fact, an elaborate parody. To what end, no one knows.
Incidentally, the few die Antwoord songs I’ve heard are about a billion times more interesting than the tediously self-indulgent Plastic Beach (there’s an Italo homage that’s kind of okay, but the bleepy MES track is a wasted opportunity and other than that – forget it), which I’ve heard in its entirety.
This Afrikaans answer to the Blackout Crew are already absolutely mainstream in the online world, with like a zillion hits on MySpace and You Tube, but it’ll be interesting to see how far they get before they’re co-opted by the mainstream music biz, if it happens at all. I kinda hope it doesn’t.
Ideally, die Antwoord would remain poor, desperate and angry, producing the kind of unhinged, uncompromising sonic mayhem that only people with very few options can make.
It’d be better for them in the long term. LA would eat them alive. Keep it fokken zef, as they say in Cape Town.
Roisin Murphy, once again ensconced on the archetypal mainstream music biz label EMI (although one which now almost seems like an independent among all the multi-national entertainment conglomerates which have swallowed up its competitors) continues to make sexy, smart electronic soul music that can be poppy, accessible and downright odd all at the same time. And that voice, one of the sweetest and most distinctive we have in the UK, just gets better and better.
Heavyfeet have posted their take on Momma’s House, the first release from her new album, here, which was dropped from the remix package for some reason. I recommend you grab it while you can. Roisin’s ravetastic collaboration with Crookers is also well worth tracking down, by fair means or foul.
I am also contractually obliged to tell you that Vice TV has come up with some of its usual high-quality content recently, specifically a refreshingly honest take on the smack scene in Swansea, a revealing portrait of Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze spending a mad Saturday in Londontown with MIA. Nothing to do with my Vice ‘paymasters’ but you might also be interested in the thoughts of 72 musicians.
Until next time.
[The top die Antwoord cartoon is courtesy of the Bassbin Twins. Cheers!]