more boring stuff …..

I hate these updates, I just wish we could concentrate on the music, but life has a habit of getting in the way and not always for the best. Expect a slow trickle of reviews in the coming days, I’m sorry but what with the antibiotics and the sleeping for Britain fatigue which has descended over me these last few weeks, I’ve found it extremely difficult to hold anything approaching what may be termed focus. Following last weeks consultation it was agreed to refer my latest scans for a second opinion, the results of which weren’t good. It seems that the team are in agreement that the tumor has grown and there has been a strong recommendation to resume with treatment sooner rather than later which ordinarily involves another cycle of chemotherapy. Sorry folks I wish it was more positive but it is what it is.

And with that, three tunes that have kept me company through the day …….

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Justin Hopper & Sharron Kraus with The Belbury Poly

Typical of these things, we’ve lost the Jim Jupp email containing details of this release, indeed yes, a message from the Jupp one, fear not, wasn’t as though it was personalised or anything, automated I note, something quietly dropped, I’m very much suspecting, into the in box’s of most normal folk. And there was us thinking we were special, darn. Anyway, the message in question heralds the forthcoming arrival of GBX033 entitled ‘Chanctonbury Rings’, a folk mystic drawn forth and summoned from the fog of time during a séance performed by Justin Hopper & Sharron Kraus with the assistance of The Belbury Poly. Part spiritual and of the land, not to mention magical, this enchanted story telling is brushed with beguiling bouquets of pastoral florets all daubed in a becoming regency vintage, a merry dance of an olden England of a time long gone, beneath the beautified serene and spring hued charm a hitherto haunting lost to legend, gossip and bed time shivers, stirs and prowls, a ghostly ne’er do wellin’ shape shifter moving with stealth amid the forest shadows (see ‘breath’ and ‘the Devil and St Dunstan’).

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analogue electronic whatever

Assuming we don’t fall prey to anymore of what can only be described as, laptop malfunction monotony, now there’s a title that the late Mark E Smith would have no doubt conjured mirth, madness and melody to. Still fingers crossed and the blighter might even allow us to hear the track in question sometime this side of winter (we gave up the ghost yesterday evening, it is now morning), us sat here following three changes of clothes – from sleepwear to work wear to lounge wear waiting for this masterly slice of technological advancement to boot up, boot up a phrase more relating in the parlance of our school youth to meaning, to administer or receive thereof, a sizeable kick up the backside, which should this excuse for (incidentally laughingly called by its makers as) ‘state of the art technological convenience’(– please HP I’ll die laughing if that is the boredom of boot up doesn’t get me first) give anymore lip, we shall indeed be taken to with much gusto. Anyhow, grumbles aside, new incoming on the celebrated Polytechnic Youth, soon-ishly he says fearfully, given he missed the last proclamation, this be Analogue Electronic Whatever, much loved around these here parts, two more tracks taken from their adored cassette full length ‘since year dot’ being readied for limited lathe pressing with the frosted minimalism of ‘frozen milk 77’ heading up the charge. In short, a binary bopping tribute to the spirit of free expressionism brought to bear by the insurgent DIY ethic ignited by punk. This ‘un a mutant mirror-balling motork dinked with a delightfully kitschy undercut that has you imagining an impish meeting under the shadow of night where gather the pogoing monochrome of The Normal being sweetened with the screwball odd obscurest pop glazing of a strangely edgy Flying Lizards under the watchful eye of Plastic Bertrand, tis all wonderfully scratchy, monochrome-y and psychotronic.

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archiv: nanook of the north

archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003 …..

(Best Kept Secret)

Named after the famous landmark anthropological film made by Robert Flaherty in 1922, which captured the plight of Nanook an Inuit hunter trying to provide for his family amid the Artic extremes of the Hudson Bay. The plight of the Artic dwellers has never really featured greatly in pop music over the years, you’d have to trawl back to the Residents formidable album ‘Eskimos’ to perhaps have the final word. Mind you all that’s a matter of conjecture where Nanook of the North are concerned.

‘The Taby Tapes’ concerns itself in love, peace and solutions to the world’s ills, and it’s a gracious adventure captured across twelve tracks clocking in at a brief 30 odd minutes. Obscuring their melodies with a shy tenderness, Nanook of the North play exquisite variants of Celtic folk accompanied by the atmospheric additives of theremins, stylophones, moogs and brass arrangements. ‘Karin Boyes Grave’ strangely absorbs a mystical charm, so sweetly feint tiny spacey swirls waltz affectionately around the bitter sweet harmonies, it’s like the Carpenters meeting Donny and Maria head on at a love in. ‘Spare parts (Israel vs Palestine; a solution)’ temptingly courts with the Waterboys covering the Go Betweens back catalogue with traces of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’ chasing the prey. Best moment though is the elegantly pained ‘Nanook’s Ark’ which pinpoints the essence of classic Prefab Sprout at McAloon’s most brutally open, the romantic interplay of the male / female vocals caress the Christmas like symphonies happily fan-faring beneath. ‘Phonecall’ lifts elements of ‘Grocer Jack’ and works them into their delightful twee core to amazing effect.

‘Hey Fragile’ I could play all night, if only for the dreamy slide guitar which always works wonders here, airy dynamics pepper this tasty morsel which sometimes sounds like it was recorded underwater, did anyone say Deacon Blue, you could be right. ‘Where will you go?’ dips in for a spot of Eastern mysticism courtesy of the Beatles ‘Within you without you’ while incorporating a macabre like suspense themology that every now and again flitters to magically fluffy orchestrations that leave you breathless. Romantically tender, lovers of the Prefabs, Go Betweens, Deacon Blue and the Dream Academy will swoon.

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archiv: nick drake

archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003/4 ….


Those doubting the merits or unfamiliar with the work of Nick Drake would be best checking out ‘Magic’, for sheer touching simplicity you’d be hard pushed to hear anything as chillingly elegant or for that matter sophisticated as far as listening experiences go. It perhaps succinctly portrays the eternal grace that lingers of a touching legacy left in the wake of his untimely death.

Thirty years on Drake is regarded as one of the jewels of the English folk scene crown and rightly so, an inspired musician who across three albums enchanted a record buying public too slow to grasp his spectral charm, often cited as morose and melancholic, Drake has by and large been misunderstood by the many to impatient to sit and bask in the softening textures he so ably constructed, his music is warm, comforting and intoxicating; free and wild; captivating and most special of all, intimate, none more so than on the aforementioned cut, ‘Magic’.

‘Made to love magic’ collects 13 cuts from the Drake canon bringing together the original production / arrangement team of John Wood and Robert Kirkby, essentially a re-treatment of a selection of Drake’s scores attempting to re-evaluate a cleaner and more closer to the source appreciation, featuring two rare cuts from an impromptu bedroom recording session from 1968, the immensely naked sounding ‘River Man’ and the cheerfully up-tempo ‘Mayfair’ and several alternate takes taken from the last recording sessions.

To listen to Drake is to be taken to a place of purity, maybe sanctuary, far from the madden crowd and the hustle and bustle of life’s pressures, there’s a spiritual serenity that invades his muse that’s welcoming, blossoming with each repeated listen, the nimbly choreographed rustic chords playing out their beguiling spell while the rich vocals curtly charms. ‘Made to love magic’ keeps faithful to the balance, ‘No time of reply’ is restored to its full glory augmented deliciously by the gentle sweeps of string arrangements which culminate into a magical swirl of colourful spring like hue while ‘Magic’ is dutifully prepped by flutes. However ‘Thoughts of Mary Jane’ towers above the assembled crowd, mature, magnificent and lost in its own frailty. Wrapping up the set with the last ever cut committed to tape by Drake, ‘Tow the line’ belies the return of the muse after a period of relative despondency, four months later that rekindled sense of hope would cease to flicker and all that would be left would be three short but nevertheless, lasting full lengths. Thoroughly recommended.

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interlude …. mutant musik ….

Interlude ….. mutant musik …..

… today, we’ve been having something of a revisit to our younger former self, the deluxe version of the Generation X debut serving partly as a back dropping sound track along with variously spiky Peel selections from an assortment of cassettes and the reading of both a Ripped and Torn compendium and a tome called No Future …. both I should add, well worth seeking out. All that aside, we happened across an old Record Mirror chart, dated December 1980, the 13th if you what to precise, with a 20 track listing of Futurist sounds all of which seem a little more relevant these days ….. some of which feature below ……

Bardi Blaise …..

Silicon teens ….

Gina x ….

British standard unit ….

Kapital punischment ….

Visage ….

The human league ….

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Sometimes it’s the simplest of things which bring cheer to our day, little greetings in a message along the lines of ‘…. we reformed in 2018. Our first release since reforming will be incidental music for my debut novel, Undercliff, which is published on 30.5.19. The music will be released by a Spanish label in late June. The author in question – Mark Brend, the band in question – Farina, the album in question ‘Undercliff, 1973’ and finally, the label in question – the Hanky Panky imprint of Spain. Farina of course, will be forever remembered around these here parts, for their two full lengths for pickled egg earlier in the millennium, both of which hold a special place in our heart, so as you can imagine there’s been a degree of both, trepidation and cautious expectancy on approaching this teaser tasting moving picture which by the looks of things, has a certain Darren Hayman of Hefner (and beyond) fame) involved. Assumed of a haunted dream like state, ‘undercliff, 1973’ moves through the memories like the flicking of pages of a scrapbook. Dinked in sepia set rustics that hint of a faraway nostalgia, (think L’Augmentation and Oddfellows Casino in cahoots with Oliver Cherer as though tasked with collectively concocting something for Clay Pipe Music adoring), for here basks a hazy genteel and carefreeness impeccably date stamped to the era, the brassy braids, the chiming motifs and the hesitant riff drifts all conclude and cross weave to cast a haunted charming of a moment frozen and left waiting, more so, something unfinished and in need of resolve and resting.

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