Mental Problems

A little thing about the ongoing porosity of German Electronic Music in Hip Hop and Electronica's fragile relationship with head-nodding beats and vocal samples. Featuring and partially inspired by acts from yesterdays woe-begotten promotional thrust.

Monoton - Ein Wort
Young Thug - Constantly Hatin’
Kraftwerk - Neon Lights
Spontaneous Overthrow - All About Money
Dilla - B.B.E.
The Fearless Four - Rockin’ It
Asmus Tietchens - Litia
Ekoplekz - The Glorian Mode
Danny Brown - Detroit 187
Raymond Scott - Lightworks (Instrumental)
A$AP Rocky - Love live A$AP
Zomby - The Lie
Xylitol - Anomie<->Bonhomie
Future - Rotation
IX Tab - The Ministry of Ontological Security
Carl Craig - Elements


Strength in numbers

With my own recording career, the lightweight I am, I bailed out just as it began to get depressing relying on people to rep for me. In their own hilariously ham-fisted PR missives each of this lot started by admitting how much they detest the process. In every case their correspondence was laughably incompetent - they forgot to attach download links, artwork wasn't included, no indication was given as to where people can buy the product. Love 'em.

I can assure the reader that there are no "riders" made available for me in supporting these gloriously useless bastards and their misadventures in modern music. In the afterlife, however, I will be given a gold-plated SONY Walkman DD-9.

Xylitol/Gloria Gloucestershire - Split tape

First up has to be the split mixtape between Xylitol - aka Catherine Backhouse and Gloria Gloucestershire - aka Nick Ekoplekz. Another extremely strong outing for these two. I could almost not believe my luck at the pairing - a match made in heaven - two of my favourite artists on one C60 - messieurs wiv zees magnetic ribbons you are really spoiling us.

On the upside Xylitol sets his Korg to the heart of the galaxy Spangle. The tape stomps all over Backhouse's backyard - Cold Wave, Bleep'n'Bass, NDW - literally the whole range of recorded music. Always iced with those delightful confectionary melodies these drum machines race at a pulse-quickening speed; weaving around like Scalextrics. My personal highlight has to be the kick-drum throb of "Anomie<->Bonhomie". Dazzling.

Leave the glitterball and chattering partygoers behind and in the adjoining bedroom, on the downside, lurks Ekoplekz. Someone has slipped DMT into your lemonade. People sprawl around on deflated bean-bags. Light is provided by a single anglepoise. The carpet is caked with a fibrous layer of dust.

On Ekoplekz's last split with Farmer Glitch he followed FG into abstraction - now he has reigned in his avant impulses and treated us to a "through a glass darkly" vision of Xylitol's music. Here are those same stiff drum machines and, albeit wilted, harmonies. Occasionally reminiscent of Zomby's pseudo dubstep, on standout "The Glorian Mode" Nick finds a sweet spot in a particularly comely lopsided loop and simply won't pull the plugs. Stunning.

If the world was a fairer place literally both artists should have been signed to WARP about 16 years ago. Sighs.

Ship Canal - The Housing Estate Sings (Amoebic Industries)

Of all the incompetent useless bastards working in the field of music Daniel Baker, aka Ship Canal, would have to be the most incompetent and useless. If you can imagine the least professional musician in the world - perhaps one of the aka pygmies - then magically make them ten times less professional - then, reader, you have Daniel Baker.

Famously, legendarily, working on a stolen and broken twenty-year old laptop with cracked software; Ship Canal make the most resolutely uncommercial music it is possible to. This has been proved by experts. Great sludgy slabs of soft-synth dirge layered with what sounds like deliberately badly-recorded drunken wails and yelps slathered over with cheap reverb like a Bisto gravy. The LP's youtube video, the featured visuals for "The Housing Estate Sings", is a full-length documentary about the history of Manchester's docks - possibly the most unremittingly depressing video I have ever seen. I've now watched it three times.

You can only imagine the chaos and traffic jams that would beset Central London if by freak accident even one of these tracks were played on Capital Radio in the morning. People would be ashen-face, weeping, prostrate over their Toyotas. 

And yet, and yet, lurking in the cracked non-grooves like those on my favouritely monikered "Rich Folk Came and Took My Cheap Alcohol" there is a singular humanity which is at once uplifting, self-deprecating and funny and an acutely sensitive musical intelligence to boot. There is a beauty here which has no name.

IX Tab/Hoofus - The Blow Volume 1 (Front & Follow)

Another split mixtape - proving conclusively that there is strength in numbers. Released on Front & Follow, a seemingly proper label who carry other loosely Woebot-endorsed music like Kemper Norton and Shape Worship, but then who made the near fatal mistake of allowing IX Tab himself, Saxon Roach deal with PR...(shakes head slowly)...

IX Tab, who take the downside of the cassette, have cautiously refined their intramolecular drift but here are the same liminal drones which first enchanted me with "Spindle and the Bregnut Tree". The same rural imagery haunts this music, specifically the dusk. Woods and clifftops embalmed in crepuscular, haze-filtered light. Voices here, like on "The Ministry of Ontological Insecurity" telling us : "I don't believe in her" and "I don't believe in you" seem to usher from the back of one's mind, projecting as though an afterimage of sounds long-ago burnt into the cochlea.


More thoughts on Vinyl

Here are two articles that explore similar terrain to my thoughts on vinyl.

Firstly Stephen Thomas Erlewine who, along with Richie Unterburger, Thom Jurek, Andy Kelman and Ned Raggett I often find myself reading at the useful database of Allmusic. I always think that the grandly-monikered Erlewine sounds like he must be a Southern gentleman. He writes excellently at Pitchfork on the death of the greatest hits compilation and the reissue at Pitchfork. Really what he is bemoaning, like me, is the death of the curated compilation because, as he points out, there is no shortage of "straight" remastered reissues of famous old titles. I do think that this energy has relocated to places like Mixcloud or Spotify playlists - but that's rather like saying that quality music journalism migrated to the blogs. By avoiding the hurdle that came with proper publishing: the underlying demand for properly-researched journalism and the need to deal with irritating editors - blogging weakened the form. Likewise it's easy to cobble together a bunch of tracks but there is none of the requirements of proper compiling. No respect towards original artwork; studio, recording and label information is nonexistent; and, woops, no-one gets paid.

Secondly Tim Jonze at The Guardian who sells all his CDs just as I'm starting to buy them. Lol. The fascinating thing about this column though is the excellent comments in its wake. Many people demurring. It seems, in the first case, that once people are well and truly on the hook, that Spotify and the other streaming services will start to crank up the prices. Think - you might not even be able to download mp3s in the near future - or at least not cheaply. Many people, like me it seems, are disenchanted by the vibes and the listening experience afforded by streaming. Many people pointing to the cycle that affected vinyl in the 90s when everyone was offloading it as cheaply as they could. Saying that that will also affect the CD - which in due course, like vinyl, will become valued. Many people pointing out that it has never been cheaper to get a bunch of great music on CD for very little money. Rip it to FLAC some of them say.


Tropical Virtual

Observers - Rich And Poor Dub
Earons - Land of Hunger
Parliament - The Placebo Syndrome
Kid Creole and the Coconuts - Mr Softee
Dennis Brown - impossible
Terry Reid - Dean
Smokey Robinson - And I Don't Love You
Jimmy Cliff - Treat the Youths Right
Fetty Wap - Trap Queen
Cristina - You Rented A Space
Kanye West - Heartless
The Drifters - Saturday Night At The Movies
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Riot in Lagos
Konono No1 - Yambadi Mama
Ginger Johnson - Jool Omo
The Congoes and Sun Araw - Jungle

Mix here.