Saturday, November 24, 2007
Shuffle Your Feet
A year ago, I took part in Swiss Toni's Shuffleathon. The deal was simple. You make a CD for a randomly selected blogger, while you receive another to review from another blogger. Back then, I made a CD of some of my favourite tracks for Sarah, and received another full of delights from Mark. You can see what happened last year here.
A year has passed, and our Tone decided to do it again. Which is great news! I drew Maximum Bob who was very patient while I spent ages doing my CD, and has written a most generous review here.
And who ended up with the unenviable task of making me a CD? Why, only my good friend Steve! Yes, he of Edinburgh via Bristol and Newcastle, who has had a number of namechecks on here. He sent me a CD ages ago, and thanks to the unique wonders of the British postal system, I never got it. So he got all 21st Cenutry on my arse, and sent me the album as a collection of Mp3s. And as much as it pains me to say it, what a collection it is. Great. I mean, really great. Which is annoying, as I'd have had loads of fun slagging it off if it'd been shit. Oh well. Here we go, tune by tune...
1. Four Tet - 'Glasshead' (11:16)
Astrology. It's cobblers isn't it? But, like so much with that touch of the mystical, it all sounds so gorgeously seductive. And so we start with an astrologicial reading over Four Tet's unique sound. Kicking off with an eleven minute, primarily instrumental track is a pretty brave choice. But it works. And it's one of those endless funky electronically induced jazzy jams that feels spontaneous, despite no doubt being tweaked to perfection for hours in ProTools. The breakdown drops out and then it bleeps and squelches and burbles to the conclusion. It's a good start...
2. Malcolm Middleton - 'Fight Like The Night' (3:35)
I know Steve's been trying to turn me onto to Mr Middleton for a while. And without completely succumbing, I've always enjoyed what I've heard. This is sublime, and gets better and better with every listen. Sweet female vocals contrasting with Malcolm's Scottish burr. The call and response verses lead to a magical chorus. I really like this song! Was the title choice a deliberate pun on my name, I wonder? Let's get him to Christmas number one people!
3. Do Make Say Think - 'The Universe!' (4:58)
Rocking instrumental noise! Kind of like Mogwai. With more brass. Which is something you don't get to say every day. Hard to expand beyond that with an instrumental, but it's intense and frantic in an exciting way that's hard to pin down.
4. Caribou - 'Melody Day' (4:39)
A complete change of pace after being slapped around the chops by Do Make Say Think. This is delicious, delicate and melodic. Funnily enough. For some reason it reminds me of Minnie Ripperton, but more the backing on 'I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun' than her actual vocals. This is a good thing, have no doubt.
5. The Octopus Project - 'Truck' (2:06)
And we're back into top gear again. Frantic bleep rock goodness. I wonder if they're called Octopus project because there's four of them with eight arms between them? Wikipedia says there are four members. Ace.
6. Emma Pollock - 'Adrenaline' (4:53)
This is gorgeous. But I'd expect nothing less from Emma out of The Delgados. A great piano line leads this, and it progresses with a delicate middle eight and superpowered chorus. Probably my favourite so far. A genuine classic in the making.
7. Fujiya & Miyagi - 'Photocopier' (4:07)
I like that I can't quite figure this one out. I initially thought the vocal had gallic leanings, but they're English. It's almost a bit 3D from Massive Attack, but the music in background is completely different. Upbeat, electronic funk, and it descends into a delightfully layered breakdown that whisks you away.
8. Buck 65 - 'The Outskirts' (2:58)
Time for some hip hop. But this is Steve, so instead of bitches 'n' bling, we get Buck 65 getting all introspective over a Spanish guitar sample of a tune that I can't place. (Which will drive me nuts til I find out what it is. Was it the music over the Jet Set Willy Start Screen on the Spectrum? Wikipedia says...no. Arse.) It's dark and moody. The muted brass and echoing voices over the end ramp up the mood, "trying not to cry, so pretty and so sad..."
9. The Album Leaf - 'Shine' (5:37)
A name that's completely new to me. But it's pure Steve. A post rock instrumental, with endless intricate riffing on a theme. The sound is reminiscent of Sigur Ros, but less ethereal and otherworldly, it has more of a natural earthy feel, with a few electronic bleeps rising above the waves to chime with the xylophones. Then it all fades away to reveal gorgeous strings that were there all along. Lush, in the original meaning of the word.
10. McLusky - 'To Hell With Good Intentions' (2:26)
Ah, an old favourite! Raw dischordant guitars! Pounding bass! "My love is bigger than your love!" we sing. A genius tongue in cheek lesson in oneupmanship, that still rocks. "We're all going straight to hell!" Yup.
11. Architecture In Helsinki - 'Heart It Races' (3:06)
It starts like MIA's 'Sunshowers', and just gets better from there. I manage to get the main lyric wrong as "Heard it rascist". Despite the fact that it's obviously "Heart it races". Because that's what the song's called. Nice one Del. Then it goes all dreamy, with aahs and synths. Before coming back again. Manages to fit more ideas into 3 minutes than some bands manage in entire careers.
12. Dans le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - 'Letter from God' (4:01)
Radiohead - Just a band. And what better way to demonstrate this than by ripping up 'Planet Telex' and using it as the backing for God's message to his people. "Religion became a tool for the weak to control the strong..." As manifestos go, it makes 'Thou Shalt Always Kill' sound small fry. Hey, you can't deny their ambition. It's got enough tongue in cheek humour to stop it sounding earnest. And at the end it's got Radiohead. "Everything is broken" smashed to bits. You'll never hear me complaining about a bit of sample terrorism, especially when used to such devastating effect.
13. Efterklang - 'Cutting Ice To Snow' (4:13)
Another new name to me. And another inevitable lazy comparison to Sigur Ros, I'm afraid! But I do not make such references lightly. This starts with slow orchestration and sustained vocals, before lifting halfway through with piano and guitar and what sounds like a penny whistle. It's beautiful in a wonderful unselfconcious way. And once the drums kick in, it soars. A perfect way to close.
So in summary, a really great compilation. Steve has been a reliable source of great new music for me for many years now. I often fail to keep up with his recommendations, and this CD only confirms this fact. There's lots here that he's raved about to me, but I've not had a chance to investigate. So I'm grateful for this opportunity to put away my own indulgences and spend time with some of his favourite artists. There's lots to follow up on here. Cheers Steve!
And thanks to Swiss Toni, and Yoko who came up with the original concept. Already looking forward to next year...
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