My mortal coil…

I am, of course, much too Notorious to own an iPod. I’ve got one of these instead, and it’s the business – trade in some looks and a decent navigation system, get in return 35 hour battery life, FM radio, recording, OGG, WAV and FLAC support, allegedly superior sound (although I’ve never tested this out), and possibly more that I’ve not even figured out yet.

I can still do the shuffle thing, though.

(Opening caveat – while it’s representative of something, the music on my computer/mp3 is probably not representative of my music collection as a whole: for reasons of space, I operate a strict ‘if you have the CD, it comes off the harddrive’ policy. So what’s on the computer isn’t necessarily what I want to listen to all the time; it’s rather the repository for one particular format. While there’s some great music on here, it does make things tricky when, as during a recent weekend away with friends, the suggestion is made to play music from my laptop in the background of a game of poker. I did introduce a lot of people to Wim Mertens this way, however.)

1. Clear Pools – A Produce / Ruben Garcia (from Early Sessions, 1991–1993). I’ve been on an non-classical/ambientish tip for a year or so now; this album’s from an early sweep around eMusic looking for anything Cold Blue related. Probably not the best track on the album, but very nice nonetheless; the whole record is recommended for fans of early 90s synth pads with Harold Budd-ist improvised piano over the top.

2. Lila Engel – Neu! (from Neu! 2) Do Neu! need any introduction? Probably not, but to my shame it wasn’t until earlier this year (another hat-tip to eMusic) that I finally got round to listening to them properly, and sure enough they met all my expectations and exceeded several on top. Neu! 2 is often regarded as the band’s real masterwork, but while I appreciate the massive significance it has for the history of the remix – for one thing – musically I find all the wrong speed tape stuff a bit tedious when heard end to end. And I don’t Lila Engel is one of their best moments either.

3. Iambic 9 Poetry – Squarepusher (from Ultravisitor). One of the more puzzling albums of recent years. In amongst the breakcore and drill’n’bassisms, you get a whole load of live (or live-sounding) noodly soft jazz. More than once it sounds embarrassing. Iambic 9 Poetry starts off on a Smooth FM tip, but morphs into something much more interesting as the electronics slowly engulf the live instruments.

4. Good Moanin’ – Dead Meadow (from Shivering King and Others). Can’t say I know much about this, or recall how it got onto my computer. I suspect it’s a random mp3 blog download from a while ago (naughty!). This is one of the problems I’ve found with filling your iTunes with too many bits and bobs from sources like mp3 blogs – you lose track of what everything is and, more importantly, why it’s there. I find it quite disorientating to be unable to recall, at least to guess, why something’s in your collection. Maybe Nick Hornby was onto something with his whole biographically arranged record collection thing. Good Moanin’ is a psychedelic/shoegaze number, and rather good in a brash, rolling-riff sort of way.

5. Keysound Radio: 4Bristol – Blackdown. As a writer and general booster, Martin Clarke is one of Dubstep’s most valuable assets; as a DJ the occasional sets posted to his Blackdown Soundboy blog are among the most convincing testaments to dubstep’s emotional range. The original Keysound Radio mix is the one to treasure, but this one, posted as an apology to Bristol for being forced to miss a show through flu, is a worthy accompaniment.

6. Revolution – Spacemen 3. Oh yes! Close observers will have noted my predilection for sound applied in big washes, and they don’t come much bigger than this classic piece of British space-rock. He may divide opinions these days over his more recent Spiritualized albums, but Spacemen’s Jason Pierce is, I reckon, the most interesting guy in British rock and I’d pay good money to listen to anything with his name on.

7. memory fifty nine – The Caretaker (from Theoretically pure anterograde amnesia). This comes from a 6-disc set of 72 tracks, so one of them was likely to come up. TPAA is available to download for free (or to buy) through Brainwashed; it’s a mix of dark ambience and crackly recollections, and if ‘hauntology’ means much in music at all I guess it applies to this. On their own, individual tracks don’t make much sense – they’re largely anonymous sweeps of static over deeply buried suggestions of melody – but as a set they draw a huge power from the apparently endless variations on the basic template.

8. July 2, 1997 – Kenneth Kirschner. One of a number of dated-but-untitled tracks available on the composer’s website. This one uses layers of wooden percussion sounds to create an uneven, knobbly weave.

9. Moment of Clarity – Danger Mouse (from The Grey Album). I revisited The Grey Album recently and concluded that it was better than I first gave it credit for. At the time I thought, sure, it’s a great idea and a major event in the relationship between sound and the law, but it’s a pity it doesn’t musically rise to the moment. Well, I’ve revised that view: it’s still not quite the bomb that Grey Tuesday deserved, but it does still sound good three years later, which lifts it well clear of any gimmick tags.

10. Back with a big f*** you – Frenchbloke. Another mix – my music folder is full of such things, a niche in which the internet excels. This one’s by the remarkable Frenchbloke, likely the world’s only DJ with the balls to play Stockhausen next to Kelis and the skills to pull it off. OK, there’s not a great deal of postwar modernism on this one – it’s more a giant high energy pop/electro/techno mash-up extravaganza – but I am ridiculously smitten with it. From the opening Tom Baker outtake (“Oh, come on, I can’t do that, they’re not halfwits. Yes, I know you’re selling aspirations, but you want me to sound like a f***ing disc jockey … this sounds like every other kind of sh*t, as opposed to magic, and dreams”) this is 90 minutes of grinning lunatic fun, and probably one of the most listened-to DJ sets in my collection.

Bubbling under: 11. Hot Like We – Ce’Cile, 12. Mouseketier Praxis: Private and Consensual Activity II – Mark Applebaum, 13. Nocturne – Leif Segerstam. Look! Real life modern music! I’m not a complete fraud, etc.

3 thoughts on “My mortal coil…

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