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.