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duminică, 23 ianuarie 2011

Royksopp - Back To Mine #25


Royksopp-Back-To-Mine.jpg

I'll be the first to admit. I like Röyksopp. I always have. I liked their last album, The Understanding, when nobody else did. Not just because it featured vocals by The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson, but because it was full of songs with texture and vibrancy and progressive dimensions.

Others didn't like it as much as they liked the first album, Melody A.M. That's okay. Wrong, but okay. They are both great albums.

And if you've ever seen Röyksopp live you'd have to agree that they rock pretty hard for a chilled out electronic duo from Norway. They can actually play instruments, not just laptops, and they have good voices. They sing most of their material, usually sung on album by guest vocalists, themselves.

But hey, I'm not here to make you a believer. I only mention this stuff because the internet is buzzing with how "unexpecatedly good" the new Röyksopp Back To Mine mix CD is.

And it is. Really good. The best thing about the Back To Mine series is how every one is a discovery about where an artist is coming from, either in a straight-forward fashion, or totally abstract. The Orb's comp was fairly normal, while MJ Cole gave us classical music blending into Hip-Hop. That one blew me away. Orbital surprised me with their love of PJ Harvey and old-style rocking pop. The worst of the bunch was Underworld's all-over-the-place mixtape. Just bad.

Röyksopp cleverly give us a mix of old and rare favorites (Harry Thumann, Kasso) some amazing disco (by none other than Edgar Winter!?!?) some proggy electronics (thank you Mike Oldfield) and even a little Funkadelic. With the astonishing effect of making me turn to the CD case over and over again to check who was playing.

In a note on the CD Royksopp apologize for editing some of the songs, and when I read that I just assumed that meant they'd done there own remixes or vocals (something they've done in the past with bands like Mekon and Annie, who's debut album they co-produced). But their edits are totally unobtrussive and their mixing is quite good.

I had never heard the Harry Thumann song Sphinx, from 1983, before and I was certain (read: absolutely, totally convinced) that they had added their own vocals to that track, it's just sooooo Röyksopp-ish. But they hadn't, they were just giving us some insight into the world they inhabit. Same with the fantastic Edgar Winter track, Above and Beyond, which is banged up next to and into Ray Mang & Nathan D'Troit's Off Side. Edgar gets some squelchy punch and Off Side gets a little disco boogie. It's really fantastic!

I don't want to give away all the surprises in the mix, but I will let you know there's a new, totally weird Röyksopp tune under the alias Emmanuel Spice. The vocals on that are tripped out to fucking space!

Look, all I'm saying is you don't have to be a believer, like me to enjoy this CD. But it just might change your mind, if you aren't part of their following already.

A couple of full length sample of both the Harry Thumann track and Edgar Winter (mixed by Tom Moulton for heavens sake!) can be found below. Enjoy!

Harry Thumann - Sphinx
Edgar Winter - Above And Beyond

The Harry Thumann track was originally hosted by the fantastic blog, As Restless As We Are. His blog is the shit so go visit it now!

This post can also be found at The Stranger's music only blog,

Argus - Wishbone Ash



This week I've been spending time in my hometown, Spokane, WA. It's totally distressing. I'm here to help out family members that are ill, but I've brought my son along, who's on summer break now. If you ever wonder why people leave small cities and head for larger metropoli, it could be:

A: The 12-year-olds at the skatepark I take my son to that talk like truckers and smoke like chimneys.

B: The meth addicts in the local mall parking lot that proceed to drag each-other out of a car and fight right in front of us.

C: The parents who bring a pellet gun to the local playground where my son is riding his bike through the trees, and proceed to target practice into the tree area, where said son is riding, while ignoring their two young children begging for pushes on swings.

Oh well, at least i was able to fill my tank for $2.95 a gallon!

It gets pretty depressing. The only thing that has saved me from utterly flattened feelings, is my reading of Homer's The Odyssey and listening to The Iliad on CD during the long drive here.

My son recently finished a childrens version of The Odyssey and got me thinking about how much of it was cut out to be palletable for kids. The childrens book actually did a remarkable job of relaying Odysseus' original Job-like travails, mostly just taking out sex and all out gore. But the originals of both are stunning, the language, the metaphores, the beautiful descriptions of battle.... Especially in times like these. Reading and hearing what war looks like and sounds like seems overly relevant in our media censored world.



So I am also reading this during what for many will be Gay Pride Week, and The other day I listened to a beautiful passage that described Achilles love for his cousin and friend Patroclus after Patroclus is killed in war. Insantly my "gaydar" started to ring, and I was almost moved to tears at how the god-like Achilles (after all he is the son of the immortal sea nymph Thetis) grieved for his beloved "friend". Tearing his hair out, pouring sand on his head, wallowing in ashes on the ground while crying and writhing in pain for his slain friend.

Before that, he had been angry at the other Acheans (Odysseus, Agamemnon, Menolaus, Ajax...) who had allowed Agamemnon to take a girl from Achilles spoils without proper payment. So he refused to fight the Trojans with the other Achean warriors. When his friend Patroclus begs him to fight, because the Acheans are being slaughtered, Achilles relents a little and lets his beloved Patroclus wear his "unbreakable" armour out into battle to help defeat the Trojans.

The armour was only unbreakable to mortals, and Apollo, who was on the side of the Trojans, was not happy at Patroclus' luck in fighting against him, so he broke the armor, opening him up to a fatal blow from the Trojan leader Hector that killed Patroclus.

Says Achilles:

But what delight to me in all of this,
When now Patroclus, my own dearest friend,
Hath perish'd? Him - him whom of all my host
I honour'd most, loved as I love myself -
I have lost him!


Incidentally I've also been listening to this album by Wishbone Ash lately. Argus is a masterwork of the early '70's. The amazing thing to me is how "Indie" it sounds, while predating "Indie" music by decades. It's slightly unpolished, yet highly listenable sound is what distinguishes it from it's contemporaries. Well, that and the unique duo-guitar sound of the band.

Wishobone Ash had two lead guitarists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner, who used dual guitar lines to weave really beautifully intricate lead solos that are elvated by the interwoven melodies. The vocals, mostly by Ted and bassist Martin Turner are very young sounding, kind of reminding me a little of Built To Spill. They weren't the overdrenched blues-y vocals that were so popular back in the '70's. They're a little more sunny and naive sounding. All of this gives the album a really light feel, even though some of the themes are pretty heavy.

Why does this all seem to be affecting me this week? Well there's the theme of second comings and renewals in The King Will Come, which even though it's a more about biblical themes, leaves me feeling a little less overwhelmed at the amount of emotional work that is called for when helping sick family members.

And Warrior, which aptly conveys how I felt crowing up in this small town hell hole. Whether you are fighting for justice, peace, ar just to keep your head above water, growing up gay in a small town, the lyrics:

I’m leaving to search for something new,
Leaving everything I ever knew.
A hundred years in the sunshine
Hasn’t taught me all there is to know.

Time will pass away,
Time will guard our secret.
I’ll return again
To fight another day.

I’d have to be a warrior -
A slave I couldn’t be -
A soldier and a conqueror,
Fighting to be free.


And the final song on the album, with the amazing guitar solo at the end, Throw Down The Sword.

Throw down the sword,
The fight is done and over,
Neither lost, neither won.
To cast away the fury of the battle
And turn my weary eyes for home.


It aptly sums up the War in Iraq, the political/moral fight for the conscience of the U.S., the fight for my own feelings of independence, both from home and from oppression of growing up different in Spokane.

Anyways, can you see why someone with all this swirling through his mind can attach themselves to an album like this?

Happy Pride. End the War in Iraq. Below are samples.

Wishbone Ash - The King Will Come
Wishbone Ash - Warrior
Wishbone Ash - Throw Down Your Swords

Ps. Incidentally, the cover for Argus has the greek soldier looking over a field, and in the distance you can barely make out a flying saucer in the golden air. The cover, by Hipgnosis is pretty famous. So why on the Remastered CD version I have do they leave off the U.F.O.? Is it a mistake? On purpose? Seriously, that seems like a major fuck up in the CD's design!

Rockets - On The Road Again

 

Last Week one of my favorite blogs, Best Foot Forward, offered Space Rock by Rockets for everyone to download. But they didn't offer much more info about the group, so here's a brief history.

In 1972 producer Claude Lemoine produced a single called Future Woman for a band called Crystal. With the single's poularity the band decided to change it's name and look, so in 1974 they became The Rocket Men (or Rocketters in France). They shaved their heads, wore matching "space age" outfits and painted themselves with silver make-up. They didn't quite have the formula right though, unitl 1976 when they changed their name to Rockets. They did a dancier, spacier remake of thier hit Future Woman which brought them, once again, popularity throughout Europe. It didn't hurt that their live shows were full of lasers, smoke, exploding cannons of fire and a tripped out light show.


In 1976 they released their self titled album which brought them to the attention of America's premier disco label, Salsoul. Salsoul signed them onto their offshoot label Tom 'n' Jerry Records for Rockets only american album, On The Road Again.

The first side of this album is amazing! The Canned Heat cover, On The Road Again, lays down the blues/funk in a propulsive chugging mix by Tom Moulton. Vocoder lyrics and talk box guitar riffs accentuate the feel of aliens out on a road trip. Surreal and special. Then there's the instrumental break down in the b-side hit Space Rock. Also mixed by Tom Moulton, this tripped out guitar inflected synth song never fails to get an ass or two shaking. Imagine Gino Soccio mixed with ZZ Top. Interstellar Rock!


The band consisted of Zeus B. Held on Vocoder, Christian Le Bartz on Vocals, "Little" G. L'Her on Bass, Alain Maratrat on Guitars and Synths, Fabrice Quagliotti on Syths and Alain Groetzinger on Drums.

Zeus B. Held would eventually go on to record a couple of sick solo albums then become Europe's uber-producer of the '80's, producing the likes of Gina X and Nina Hagen.

Producer Claude Lemoine would go on to produce on of the early '90's biggest throw-away dance hits, Jordy's Durr Durr D'etre Baby! with Rockets band member Maratrat.

Fabrice Quagliotti would join New Wave band Sal Solo in the '80's.


The second side of On The Road Again, is a kinda space-y new age-ish effort, which doesn't have as much spark or soul as the first side, so I'll just ignore it.

But you should definately grab this little piece of French Disco/Rock history by the samples below!