The Cherry Thing (Neneh Cherry and The Thing) – Dream Baby Dream


This was announced a little while ago, prompting much excitement from me- I am a very big fan of Norwegian Free Jazz trio The Thing (and the other work of their members, particularly saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, who has played and recorded with vast numbers of other notable musicians), so a new album from them is always good news! This one sounds particularly intriguing though, as here they are working with a singer (as far as I know for the first time), in the form of Neneh Cherry. And performing versions of tracks by Ornette Coleman, MF Doom, The Stooges, aaaaannd…. Suicide! Here is their take on ‘Dream Baby Dream’, which I have to say sounds fantastic to me- a good mix of free jazz energy with a traditional song form.

The album is out in June, and apparently “extensive European touring” is planned for July. Perhaps I may see The Thing at last! Enjoy!

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Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung!

I’m planning to do a hefty post on the 2011 activities of the Flaming Lips in a few days, but first, here is an earlier, particularly sublime song of theirs. Something special, no? The vocals, the bassline, the mass of sound swirling around… Enjoy it.

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About those Mercury Prize albums…

So it would seem that I’ve managed to do precisely none of the reviews of the albums on the Mercury Prize shortlist this year, as i said i would before. Sorry about that. I have listened to a few of them (didn’t think much of James Blake, but thought Ghostpoet sounded very good), but not got very far in writing any of them up.

Thing is I’ve been a busy man this summer, with festivals and holidays and Ellie-related times, as well as a lot of reading and a lot of other music. Its been a wonderful summer in terms of music listening, but doing a Mercury review always seemed a little too much of a chore- i would rather be listening to something else, and be reading something rather than writing. I don’t really regret the way its gone though- there isn’t much point blogging something if you don’t particularly want to. And theres been a lot of very good music i’ve come across recently – probably better than most of the Mercury selections…

Heres a little of what I listened to instead, both old and new (to me). So when the Mercury winner is announced, and you decide it isn’t any good, or start lamenting ‘the state of music’ or whatever, listen to a few of these instead of getting too worked up about it:

Moon Duo
Mark McGuire
Lift To Experience
John Coltrane (try ‘Ascension’ and ‘Interstellar Space’ for free jazz fun!)
The Flaming Lips
Lightning Bolt
The Flaming Lips collaboration with Lightning Bolt
Roy Harper
British Sea Power
Josh T Pearson
Bo Ningen
Galaxie 500
The Thing
David Thomas Broughton
Janelle Monae

And so much more- the music never stops! So go on, dig in. You know you want to.

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Do you like droning music? Of course you do! Be it the heavy and overwhelming wall of massive noise that Sunn0))), Boris or Earth provide, where the aim seems to be to obliterate your mind/ears/body/soul, or the beautiful ambient drones of Stars of the Lid and early Emeralds, drone is always a winner.*

There are of course many other kinds of music in which drones play a vital part: The Velvet Underground, Oneida and Fennesz all like to drone from time to time, and there is a lot of droning in the music of minimalist composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Arvo Pärt (all of which I should listen to more).

But I think the purest example of drone I have yet heard would have to be ‘Really Eternal Music / Your Bloated Hard Drive’, recently produced by Tim Hecker. Well I say it is by Tim Hecker; originally, I am told, it was produced by the American composer La Monte Young in 1969, under the name of ‘The Black Record.’** What Mr. Hecker has done is stretched out The Black Record to 13 TIMES its original length, so that it is now 10 HOURS long. A full ten hours! And that ten hours is filled entirely by slowly shifting tones (no particular instruments are discernable), droning on into infinity. It is pure sound, without melody or rhythm. It is, quite simply, drone.

You probably don’t want to spend 10 straight hours of your life listening to drone- indeed, neither do I (well not right now anyway). But it does sound very good, and it is good to know that i have a virtually infinite supply of pure droning sound on tap in case I fancy some. It might work well for essay writing too… I’ll have listened to it all at some point (40 minutes in so far!).

‘Really Eternal Music / Your Bloated Hard Drive’ (being over a gigabyte, its called that for a reason) is available here .

*Well, maybe it isn’t always a winner… But I do love the drone.

** The full title is: “1 VII 69 10:26 – 10:49 PM Munich from Map of 49’s Dream The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery; 23 VIII 64 2:50:45-3:11 AM the Volga Delta from Studies in The Bowed Disc”. Do you see why i didn’t write that in full?

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Field Day!

In a couple of weeks I’m off to Field Day (along with most of the people i know it seems), which is located in the very same park as LED Festival last year, for which you can read my review here:

Its got a very impressive looking line up for a festival priced at only about £45. Acts I’d particularly like to see include:

About Group
Factory Floor
Gruff Rhys
John Cale
Four Tet b2b James Holden
Konono No.1
Matthew Dear
Omar Souleyman
Pearson Sound
Oneohetrix Point Never
Sun Ra Arekestra
The Horrors
Wild Beasts

Not bad eh? Thats more than I’ll be able to see, even if none of them clash, which i’m sure some of them will. Plus plenty of unknown bands too, which may appeal to the ears throughout the day. So yeah, looks like great stuff!

I have heard bad things about the organisation of Field Day (long queues for toilets, bad sound and that sort of thing), but its been around a few years now, so hopefully should have sorted itself out by now. And even if not, all these bands and all these friends ought to make it a fine old day out. Come all ye, and dance to Souleyman!

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The Mercury Music Prize 2011

Well well, its now more or less the same time of year as it was when I started up this blog; it must be, because the Mercury Prize nominees from 2010 were what I started off writing about. (In fact, I took the Mercury albums and compared them to the albums from Drowned in Sound’s alternative ‘Neptune’ list, generally favouring the Neptune selections). It was an interesting process, as it led me to listen to quite a few ‘mainstream’ albums I probably wouldn’t have otherwise done. I seem to recall that I mostly didn’t think that much of them, but at least it enabled me to be informed in my criticism!

Drowned in Sound don’t appear to be doing their alternative list this year, which is a shame, so i instead intend to just do straight reviews of the Mercury albums. Its been said by many (as always) that the list looks uninspiring and is missing some of the best albums of the last 12 months, and there is a lot of truth in those statements. But to actually listen to the albums seems like a better response than just grumbling about the ones you do know and dismissing the ones you don’t, or how ‘relevant’ the whole concept is. Some of the shortlisted albums I know already, some I don’t. but I’ll try to listen to them all with an impartial ear.

Still expect half of them to turn out shite though… Here’s the list:

Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
Elbow – Build A Rocket, Boys
James Blake – James Blake
Katy B – On A Mission
Metronomy – The English Riviera
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Tinie Tempah – Discovery
Gwilym Simcock – Good Days At Schloss Elmau
Everything Everything – Man Alive
Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Adele – 21

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