Tuesday, July 31, 2018


As far as record buying is concerned, I’m going through a fallow period. While still keeping an ear to the ground and remaining very much aware of what’s going on, I’m not parting with much cash. I don’t think I’ve bought anything for a couple of months, but I have a permacart in Juno with a crock of stuff just waiting to go. Something is holding me back though. I suppose it’s a combination of a lack of money, priorities and space.  Vinyl is becoming too expensive as well. There’s still nothing like receiving a fresh shipment of sounds and playing them all for the first time. However, it’s really important to be choosier than in the past. It’s also a good idea not to be too attached to vinyl. I realize that label owners are trying to make as much as they can and so put out limited editions more and more often. This is their prerogative and I’m fine with it. What frustrates me though is not that these releases often don’t get a repress, but that they aren’t issued digitally. I stopped worrying about vinyl exclusivity a long time ago.  If a digital release accompanies the vinyl one it doesn’t devalue it in any way. Also, more music should be exclusively digital in an effort to negate the stereotype of boutique vinyl labels being of implicit higher quality. This is inevitable, as the rise in vinyl sales is a myth and, compered to sales in the past, nothing to write home about. What everybody knows is that this so-called rise owes nothing to the genres which have kept it in business over the last ten or so years. It’s most visible manifestation being the odious record store day, a gentrified pile of steaming shit, whose main purpose is to put the brakes on pressing plants at the expense of house, techno and other relative niche genres.

I’m going to see how long it takes for all the records I have in my cart to go before I cough up the cash. It’s a sure thing that they’ll stay put for a lot longer than they would have a few years ago. In spite of what people may think, record sales are not rising, not as far as house and techno are concerned anyway. There has been a shift towards Discogs and more specialist purchases. I also feel that for the first time quality is dropping, hence the shift. As mentioned on these pages before, the cult of the digger is more pervasive, but this is illusory. It also gives life to forgotten tracks, some of which bring nothing to the table at all, save that they have been played by certain DJs. Technique or timing? That is the question.

I’m reading ‘Love Saves The Day’ at the moment; a book about the rise of disco and the DJ in New York throughout the 1970s. It may move onto pastures new, but I’m around 40% through it (Kindle version), and I don’t know which corners are going to be turned. It sort of takes David Mancuso and The Loft as a focal point, but branches out all over and goes into nerdishly exhaustive detail as far as playlists,  the DJ lifestyle and certain proclivities are concerned. I’m enjoying it very much and, while I’m not that old, it fills me with nostalgia for my eclectic Liverpool hunting grounds throughout the 1980s. Of course there’s very little real comparison to be made, save for the hedonism of discovering and dancing to new music at a certain age, and the escape that such temporary autonomous zones provide. I guess I’ll finish it over the next couple of weeks while I’m on holiday in the south of France. I was reading Simon Reynolds’ ‘Shock And Awe: Glam Rock And Its Legacy’ at the same time last year.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Odessa Calling EP - Swayzak (Rekids)

Title: Odessa Calling EP
Artist: Swayzak 
Label: Rekids
Cat Number: REKIDS123
Genre: Techno

A1: Odessa Calling
B1: Numbers Station

Swayzak releases have always had an epic scope and this double header is no exception. Using all available production tricks, both of these tracks seem to be playing well within themselves while emanating a confidence borne from a lack of urgency. Both ‘Odessa Calling’ and ‘Numbers Station’ saunter along, but take giant steps as they go. There is a lot going on between the lines as well; ‘Numbers Station’ is particularly characterized by emotive strips of sound which rise and fall before crashing into each other. It’s electronic ork battle music, mate. ‘Odessa Calling’ is a little bit more dubbed out and scales similar heights, but is less dramatic. It makes up for this however, by its progressive shape shifting as it evolves.

Flight 770 - Thee J Johanz (Ballyhoo Records)

Title: Flight 770 
Artist: - Thee J Johanz 
Label: Ballyhoo Records
Cat Number: BALL108
Genre: House

1: Flight 770
2: Night Of The Invisible
3: Thunder Over Tbilisi
4: Look At All Those Stars

I first came into contact with Thee J Johanz after buying ‘Move Your Butty’,  having first heard Nick Hoppner mixing it out of and into something else. It’s understated insistence struck a chord so I got curious. I know nothing about the man himself, but it comes as no surprise to learn that he has a rich heritage, having recorded on the legendery Irdial Discs back in the mid nineties. This release echoes of ‘Move Your Butty’; there is a similar adherence to spatial detail with the various sonic components having plenty of room to breath. Johanz Westerman knows how to get the juices flowing, and on the basis of this EP is a master of the sparse acid overlay, the 303 being omnipresent, (except in ‘Night of the Invisable’), but never overplayed throughout this release. Lovely stuff.

Monday, July 02, 2018

I See You In The Shrubs - Eyes Of Others (Paradise Palms)

Title: I See You In The Shrubs  
Artist: Eyes Of Others
Label: Paradise Palms
Cat Number: PP009

1: I See You In The Shrubs (12” Mix)
2: I See You In The Shrubs (Andrew Weatherall’s A Shrub From Outer Space)
3: I See You In The Shrubs (Donald Dust’s Other Thumper)

It’s easy to understand why this gets a remix from Andrew Weatherall; low slung groover meets stoner waffle which is on he one hand slightly whimsical, the other sonic attack. I suppose a lot of attention will be focused on AW’s remix, which is nice, but losing the original’s incantatory vocal riddim means losing a lot of charm. The voice does stay, however, but in isolated statements of intent. I’m feeling ‘Donald Dust’s Other Thumper’ more myself, which hollows things out and adds emphasis to the subtle layers of sharpened, dubbed kaleidoscopic effects. It’s a subtle pimping of the original in which the base elements coalesce perfectly.