Ghost Harmonic – Codex (Metamatic)
orphaned deejay selek 2006-2008 – AFX (Warp)
BEcoming – Stacy Barthe (Motown)
Celadon – MAJA S.K. RATKJE, JON WESSELTOFT, CAMILLE NORMENT, PER GISLE GALÅEN (Important Records)
Everybody’s A Fuckin Expert – Shit and Shine (Editions Mego)
Nozinja Lodge – Nozinja (Warp)
AirEffect – Fennesz/Ozmotic (Folk Wisdom)
Song – It’s Immaterial (Siren)
White Bird in a Blizzard – Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd (Lakeshore Records)
Carps Vol. 1 – Run Dust & Barry Brush (Tesla Tapes)
Reasons to Die II – Ghostface Killah (Linear Labs)
1983 – Kölsch (Kompakt)
Gode – André Bratten (Smalltown Supersound)
Animals – Pink Floyd (Harvest)
Damogen Furies – Squarepusher (Warp)
WE ARE NOT THE FIRST – Hieroglyphic Being (RVNG Intl.)
The Feeding of the 5,000 – Crass (Small Wonder)
Lagoon Blues – The Bathers (Marina)
Another Setting – The Durutti Column (LTM, 2015 reissue/Factory)
Universal Themes – Sun Kil Moon (Caldo Verde)
Ghost Harmonic – Codex (Metamatic)
And in London it doesn’t much matter where you are, you’re there. There is a Périphérique but it ain’t the fuckin M25. Shapes and shadows move in in and out. Your own. Nobody has a reality, only a perspective. Psychogeography is a ghost hunt, not a fact hunt. A sacrament. London is anarchy and chaos and „God Save the Queen. She ain’t no human being“ and you are dwarfed by skyscrapers and humbled by ordinariness. Total fucking ordinariness. There’s a light everywhere in the London city-state that doesn’t bright like this anywhere else on the island. You could be in Bayswater in the shadow of the Westway or praying to the grey clouds above Trafalgar Square. [They say if you stand in Trafalgar Square long enough, you will meet everyone you know. Unless they’re a pigeon. Traf Sq. is a fucking pigeon dispersal zone these days. Rest in peace Preep.] Or you could be on a Tube train to Elephant and Castle wondering why TFL ain’t changed the upholstery on the seats in so long. The moquette on those motherfuckers is shot to fuck. You wouldn’t see that on the Central Line. Or maybe you would. Who knows. Fuck knows. Paint flakes and places change. Maybe that train just has better iration norf of the river.
Coffee is a river. A river that can’t be held back.
Paris. Paris on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 at 9.24am.
And that stretch of the Boulevard de Rochechouart is one of the coolest places in the world. Pound shops, repair shops, news kiosks selling Les Inrockuptibles, total fucking ordinariness, and dreamlike.
„The city is asleep, we’re wide awake
Warm rain is gonna wash away
Our troubles and doubts
And all our dreams and fantasies
All the mystery is inside
Purple night is gonna fall
Is gonna take it out tonight
Leaving two weightless bodies
Two weightless bodies
And all our dreams and fantasies
The mystery’s inside“
2015 8 Nov
„Je me promène. Principalement, je me promène.“
„But then the monotony of the images we consume gets the upper hand, reflecting the monotony of the action which produces them, the slow rolling motion of finger and thumb that rotates the kaleidoscope.“
„We think we are living in the world, when in fact we are taking our place in a perspective. Not the simultaneous perspective of primitive painters: the point of reference is always somewhere else.“
„Noontime means luncheon for someone
Night time means sleep for the same
Daytime means brightness for someone
But to me they all mean the rain“
„I’ve got pocketsful of solutions to the problems of the world
I’ve got barbecues like footballs perched on green glass balconies where dereliction used to fester where the coffee bars spread like weeds and lights flicker eternal“
„I never cared so much about making perfect sense. I wanted to make perfect nonsense. I wanted to tell jokes, but I didn’t give a fuck about the punch line.“
2015 2 Nov
And it’s funny because your image of a city never really is anything like the reality of it. Having an opinion about a city you’ve never visited would be like having an opinion about a record you’ve never heard. But any city with an airport named for the footballer George Best has to be a cool place. Belfast, cool place. Belfast, beautiful city. The pubs in the Cathedral Quarter, Jesus, you could be on a film set. Great bars, great beer. Near those pubs, this mural:
My favourite church is St. Mary’s Epsicopal Cathedral in Edinburgh. I don’t know why, for the Sacré-Cœur it ain’t. Anyway this cathedral in Belfast is totally great. It is slightly austere despite the generosity of its architecture.
And the train to Dublin is a big expensive-looking bastard that is almost like the Eurostar (but only costs 16 Euro). And getting off the train at Dublin Connolly is a million miles better than arriving by taxi from the airport. Especially at dusk. And you have no mobile data and need another currency yet there is no passport control. No Google maps, no problem – getting lost in unfamiliar cities is one of life’s big fat joys. Time passes, streets and streets of life walk by. Familiar but unfamiliar. You give up trying to guess where you’re headed and ask someone for directions.
– Excuse me, I’m looking for Great Denmark Street
– Great Denmark Street, Great Denmark street. Yeah. You see that stupid big fuckin‘ thing over there?
– Ha, yeah. I didn’t know it existed until now*
– Fuckin‘ stupid big thing. Head there, turn left and it’s five minutes up the road
– Take it easy
*I looked it up. The locals call it „the stiletto in the ghetto“ as well as „that stupid big fuckin‘ thing“. I am reliably informed by a well-known search engine that its official and slightly grander title is the Monument of Light.
Digression one: The Marlboro packet in Ireland says „Déanann caitheamh tobac díobháil thromchúiseach duit agus do na daoine mórthimpeall ort“ and I’m like, ahh, fuck off. In Magyar you were all like “ A dohányzás blah blah blah“ you big ride ye.
Digression two: Slideshow, seaside town, Coca-Cola football radio radio radio radio radio…
And I love that bit of some cities where the river cuts ’em in two. A border/non-border. Düsseldorf and the Rhine, Glasgow and the Clyde, LDN and the Thames, Paris and the Insane, Buda Danube Pest. Liverpool and the Mersey. Dublin and the Liffey. Like most city rivers, the actual water looks mucky as fuck. But whoever or whatever made the cosmos made this, and that must be a good sign. Day and night.
And it was the cosmos that made this. Copyright, The Universe.
Digression 3. Megastructures in space.
And when there’s airports whose architecture is poetry, we’ll have music for fuckin‘ airports. No headphones required.
And then you’re back in Glasgow, suddenly, and you see this and you smile. (And And! And…)
Reference alphanumeric material:
James Joyce, Ulysses
Robert McLiam Wilson, Eureka Street
WB Yeats, Down By the Salley Gardens
Reference audio material:
Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster
U2 – Promenade, MLK, Shadows & Tall Trees
The Cassandra Complex – What Can You Say?
Pierce Turner – The Sky & The Ground
John McCormack – She Moved Through The Fair
Microdisney – Money For The Trams
Fatima Mansions – Only Losers Take The Bus
Van Morrison – Did Ye Get Healed?
Real life stories. Rules Love Space. RedLeninStalin. Ravelston, Leith, Stockbridge. Rockets Love Space. Rhine – Liffey – Songhua. RLS RLS RLS.
Edinburgh pub: Glaswegian heart, German head.
And there ain’t no temples of psychogeography without an impermanence that races past like horses over the hills.
Mike Scott „Edinburgh Castle“
Boards of Canada „Bocuma“
The Fall „Edinburgh Man“
Incredible String Band „Air“
Bert Jansch „Jack Orion“
The Nectarine No.9 „The Holes of Corpus Christi“
Paul Haig „Turn The Vision“
Young Fathers „White men are black men too“
2015 26 Sep
Fleshmarket Close is a temporal escalator miraculously aligning fast spinning neutron stars, whole decades and eras slide down your psychic windscreen red orange yellow green blue indigo violet tartan gloss
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless
And you can hardly move in Old Trafford because of the pyrotechnic detection dogs. The fuckers roam in large packs, chasing rockets right into the sky, higher than Orion. Boom.
And it’s August and it’s hot and muggy and the world seems sleepy with the heat, but it’s Xmas in Salford in August it’s Weihnachten Vibe in Salford in late summer. Happy Fuckin Xmas Already!
And the DLR at Shadwell is so fucking beautiful it makes my heart burst. Then onto Canary Wharf which in this light looks like tinfoil as if there’s a massive KitKat inside it.
Aphex Twin on Brick Lane. „Brick Lane’s too commercialised innit“ „Hackney’s not as cool as it was mate“. The magnetic pole of cool has moved. Where’s it gone? Bermondsey, Brixton, Brighton, Birmingham? Boom. It’s back. It’s living above a kebab shop in a side street some place between Stoke Newington and Dalston. It’s been time travelling and has temporal jetlag, sitting on the low sofa in the kitchen under a bare bulb, playing Wipeout on a PS1 on a box shaped portable television with stickers on the side and a plastic kebab carton above it. Then the future started happening, the caps of the temporal telomere began to break and suddenly it’s 2016 and the PS1 ended up in landfill in Essex, metres under a mound where, right this very second, a seagull is walking with that odd mix of poise and total violence, hoping to find a snack or two among the garbage.
And the moon over rooftops in the Scottish countryside is saying something but the encryption service is buggy and its message is out there but undefinable – cotton in a blizzard. I hope it is saying „Listen, the cosmos is alive, can’t you feel the electricity in your marrow?“
L. Pierre „Gullsong“
L. Pierre „Weir’s Way“
Babyshambles „Nothing Comes To Nothing“
Pink Floyd „Pigs on the Wing“
Led Zeppelin „Bron-Yr-Aur“
John Foxx w/ Harold Budd „Long Light“
2015 14 Sep
Like a dead bird in the dirt
Like a rusty can on the ground
I don’t believe in stardom
Machinery in action
Full of experts
Full of experts
Same old order
Same old order
Same old order
So sang Vini Reilly on the powerfully melancholic/weird/lovely/otherworldly Durutti Column album LC back in 1981. The record’s title was always a mystery to me. My (admittedly daft) guess was that LC stood for listening comprehension. But the initials stand for something far more interesting than that. I eventually read someplace that they stand for Lotta Continua – either graffiti on a wall in ancient Rome, or the name of a far-left organisation in Italy from around the same time that Paris was undergoing a short wave of prescient Banksyisation: „La beauté est dans la rue!“ „Sous les paves, la plage!“ „A bas le réalisme socialiste! Vive le surréalisme!“ etc.
I don’t know that there’s a beach under the flagstones. But beauty is definitely in the street. If you set your psychogeography filters before leaving the house, the city holds a limitless amount of interest. I believe this is why JG Ballard chose to live in Shepperton – it was far enough away from all the mental static to allow him to describe its effects.
Can artforms have experts? They can have practitioners and appreciators, I guess. The loftiest classical or pop critic at a broadsheet may be an expert in setting thoughts down on paper, and on the cultural specifics of the space-time that the art is projected onto. But the art itself? I don’t think so. Art is democratic* – just go back in time and ask your 3 year old self and the answer won’t be anything other than that art is democratic.
Everybody’s A Fuckin Expert by Shit and Shine is a good listen. The label (Editions Mego) uses the interesting phrase „inverted tranquility“ in the blurb. I like this phrase but I don’t know what it means. The record isn’t tranquil but it is controlled, and its sonic textures don’t have really the kind of ‚ardcore vibe the title suggests. I’d be reluctant to try and guess what this record is saying. Music For Real Airports by The Black Dog had a kind of „this is the way things are“ thing going on, which didn’t work for me. I don’t want to fetishize airports anymore than I want to fetishize their tedium. Everybody’s A Fuckin Expert seems (maybe) to be describing London in 2015 – but there’s no social realism here, and also no ghost of dubstep. The dark humour of the record is its principal weapon – biting cynicism’s like so 2012. This is the present.
*For the appreciator of art. The next time you bang your head against a brick wall, ask yourself who the bricklayer may have been and once the pay cheque was cashed how much he cared what happened to that wall – whether it was people banging their heads against it, or doing a spraypaint stencil of a rat on it, with dollar signs for eyes.
2015 10 Sep
Me? I didn’t initially like Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air. Being a Blue Nile fan I’d pre-ordered the deluxe CD edition, then when it finally got released in late spring/early summer 2012 I was like „yeah, it’s alright“. Fast forward to about two months ago and the record started making perfect sense. What seemed like Blue Nile -isms were in fact painstakingly crafted crytpic crossword clues. And like with all the best cryptic crosswords, the answers ain’t accessible immediately.
You might know „Public Face, Private Face“ by Quiet City. I didn’t when it was released sometime in 2002. It was only through a (now long gone) link to Quiet City’s (presumably also now long-gone) website on Wikipedia’s Blue Nile entry that led me to the record, about six years after its release. Even then, it took a bit of tracking down. It finally arrived through the letterbox, ages later. Mint condition CD but with a jewel case that had seen a fair bit of life. It had a Tower Records (Dublin) price ticket on it (an ‚on sale‘ one, no less, with the previous prices on stickers underneath, like a dendrochronology of ever-thinning market prices had been in action. But this album won in the end. It surfaces on Amazon Marketplace now and then for £100 a pop, and has a median sale price on Discogs of £59).
Paul Buchanan is obviously the draw here, the reason people will part with so much money for the record. And yes, PB’s contributions are worth the price of admission alone. „Due North“ is a killer track, and I’ve only just checked its running time which is almost nine minutes. That’s a lot of minutes for a pop song, and every second is gloriously accounted for: from the electrolyte atmosphere, maritime town railway station vibe opening and lyrics:
Is the seabird scared in the cold stone air
The flags, the light, beat out a fanfare
And the engines start to pound
Beneath our tired feet
Then we slowly inch away
And my heart begins to beat
… to its closing moments of elongated vocal whoops, sweeping ocean strings and seagull noises.
The rest of the record, it has to be said, is very unlike this. A lot of it sounds on the face of it like accessible jazz-influenced easy listening Radio 2 gear. Which I guess it kind of could be, except that it takes phenomenal skill – not populist intention – to construct stuff with this depth and sense of space and dimension. Not just the composition either – the arrangements, playing and production make you feel like you’re in a brand new car. Take the intro to track nine, „Goodnight, My Baby“. It’s all there. This record is a classic. And few come more lost than this one.