Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jesus has no place on the dancefloor.

Hi there,

I've not dropped in for a week or so, have I? I've had a bit of outside work on and that's taken up a fair chunk of my music criticism efforts, so I haven't really felt much like blogging to be honest. I was thinking the other day though that I haven't highlighted what's on the Yer Mam! stereo for quite some time (although you could probably guess my music listening activities from all those mixtapes I put up the other week), so I guess it's time to right that wrong.

Here then are a few things that I've been checking out and I think you should too.

Matthew Dear is a bit of a bugger to pin a label on. He makes brilliant techno music in his Audion, False and Jabberjaw guises, but it's the records he makes under his own name that intrigue me the most. The fact that he chooses not to hide behind a pseudonym would indicate that the music he records as Matthew Dear is his most personal. That would appear to be true as, while there are still some tech-y flourishes here and there, Matthew Dear records are more warm, immediate and organic affairs than the machine music he cooks up the rest of the time.

His latest run-out under his own name, Asa Breed, is, in my opinion, his best work regardless of moniker. A fully-formed, sumptuous tech-funk-soul album full of finely-crafted songs that are as addictive as they are strange and exotic. At times, Dear comes on like TV On The Radio making electronic music, his baritone recalling Kyp Malone. The vocals, as affecting as they often are, are probably the least interesting aspect of an album where the production is spotless, crisp and multi-textured. Lead-off single, 'Deserter' for example is held down by a reverbed-up drum machine pulse, while reversed string samples and plaintive bleeps cascade over the top, enveloping Dear's weary vocal in spacious sonic decoration. This song alone is a front-runner to be one of the year's best.

Elsewhere, Dear tries his hand at skippy pop-house ('Don And Sherri'), bends-inducing deep house ('Fleece On Brain') and even skewed afro-pop ('Elementary Lover'). Asa Breed is a confident, eclectic work of brilliance by a producer who's really starting to come into his own. Expect this one to figure there or thereabouts in many an end-of-year list.

Matthew Dear - Fleece On Brain (mp3)

Not surprising given my over-expressed for the original, but I'm becoming increasingly enamoured with John Cale's cover of LCD Soundsystem's 'All My Friends' (Franz Ferdinand's I can take or leave). Cale plays it pretty much straight down the line, but I think that's what I love about it. For someone as respected as he is to approach a contemporary song with such reverence and gravitas as he does here is astonishing.

Cale's rich croon lends the lyrics an added dimension of ennui and regret, but ultimately the original's sense of triumph still reigns supreme. Musically, it's a little more sparse than LCD's version, more Joy Division than New Order (actually, it reminds me more of Bowie's 'Heroes' for some reason), but this only accentuates what we knew all along; that 'All My Friends' is arguably James Murphy's finest moment yet. Giving it to an experimental rock godhead to interpret in his own manner has just elevated its growing modern classic stauts that little bit more.

John Cale - All My Friends (mp3)

Il y a quelque chose dans l'eau en France. And I'm not talking about Justice, Ed Banger, Uffie et al, those guys can all go jump in the seine. No, after Joakim's spooked out psych-rock adventure on Monsters And Silly Songs and My Sister Klaus' all-over-the-shop Chateau Rouge, comes the third album in some sort of unofficial 2007 trilogy of French psychedelia, Turzi's A.

Turzi are on Record Makers, Nicolas Godin and J-B Dunckel of Air's label and it appears that they've taken the aesthetic that they dallied with on 10.000 Hz. Legend (most notably on 'Don't Be Light') and ran with it. This is a record informed by horror film soundtracks and 70s prog and it isn't afraid to wear those influences on its sleeve. The hallmarks of Goblin and John Carpenter are all over this album, yet it sounds utterly contemporary. Oh, and it's a concept record on which every track starts with the letter A. This deserves as wide an audience as label mate, Sebastien Tellier gained with Politics.

Turzi - Afghanistan (mp3)

After two years of incessant hype on the beardo-disco scene, we can now ascertain for ourselves just whether Map Of Africa are worth getting worked up about. The work of scene pioneer DJ Harvey and Rub N Tugger, Thomas Bullock, Map Of Africa's three 12"s have been changing hands on the black market for astronomical values since their limited runs, but they've now finally got around to releasing a full album.

Well, it isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea and Harvey's notoriously scatalogical and perverse sense of humour is all too prevalent at times, but I think this is one of the most fun, unpretentious releases of the year thus far. A mixture of swamp rock, funk and Balearic grooves, it more than delivers on the promise of those early vinyls and features some of the darned funkiest tunes of the year so far. Look out for this when it's released on CD later in the year.

Map Of Africa - Wyatt Urp (mp3)

Also, due to popular demand and available for one week only...

Fleetwood Mac - You Make Lovin' Fun (Trail Mix)

In other news: read my reviews of albums from The Maccabees and Von Sudenfed over at High Voltage.

I meant to mention this last week, but if you're interested, I was on the last Blog Fresh Radio show, waxing lyrical about Devin The Dude.

Finally, I've been quoted in Carol McGiffin's Wikipedia entry! What are the chances?! Hopefully, the opinionated Loose Women presenter will link back to here from there and feel the full force of my invective. Bigoted fuck that she is.

More of these random musical musings later in the week.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, it's far too easy to hate on Franz. I have to admit that I like their version out of the three the best. There's just an inertia to their version that is irresistible.

4:51 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you love Joakim's album, you have to take a listen (and more) to the Poni Hoax's one. It's a lot more than the "Budapest" single. They're french, Joakim produced them and signed them to his Tigersushi label. It's dark, moody, new wavey, sometimes kitsh, disco infiltrated and always brilliant...
but it didn't sell last year.

Sorry for my english.


4:57 pm  
Blogger James said...

Yeah, I did check out Poni Hoax's album last year but, other than 'Budapest' it didn't leave all that much of an impression on me. I'll give it another whirl though on your anonymous recommendation.

For the record, I'm not a Franz hater, I like the band, but I just think their version of 'All My Friends' is a little pedestrian that's all.

6:18 pm  
Blogger Kabi said...

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12:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was on vacation and missed the Fleetwood Mac mix.. can someone Z(james) PLEASE post a link again.
I'd be honoured.

6:50 pm  
Blogger James said...

You can get it from Trailmix's website...


Just copy and paste, I'm feeling way too lazy to even do the HTML.

6:55 pm  

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