Thursday, 26 March 2009

Hellhammer - Apocalyptic Raids 1990 A.D.

Noise International WK45499. 1990

Back in my tape trading days (yes kids, it wasn't all mp3 and download ratios back then - padded envelopes, postage stamps and a shit load of flyers falling out of packages), this was one of the most requested recordings. Well, the original '84 demo anyway.

In its fuzzy 15th-generation tape-to-tape copy form it had a certain mystique about it. It sounded evil, as if Satan himself had shat it onto the tape and smeared his ass up and down it like a dog with worms.

Fast forward a few years and we have a nice, clean copy, and some of the magic dies along with the stench of Beelzebub's turd and iron-oxide mixture.

It's badly recorded (probably not their fault really), weakly produced (the bass drum sounds like someone blinking slightly too hard), and they can't really play their instruments. That said, I'll always have a soft spot for this, especially the poptastic catchiness of Horus/Aggressor.

PJ Harvey - 4-Track Demos

Island IMCD 170/518 450-2. 1993

It's like a whole different album to Rid Of Me, though it's mostly the same songs. These raw takes show what a true talent she is.

I'm starting to kind of fancy her after all.

PJ Harvey - Rid Of Me

Island CID8002/514 696-2. 1993

Even better than the last.

PJH and Albini are a studio match made in heaven.

PJ Harvey - Dry

Too Pure CD010. 1992

I wish I was feeling a tad more verbose today, as this is outstandingly super. However, I'm not, so may come back to talk about it later.

I'll just say, she has one of the few female voices I really like. (She may also have other voices, but I don't know.)

Just buy it. It's a classic.

Never did fancy her though.

Peter Hammill - Fool's Mate

Charisma CASCD1037. 1971

Another NF introduction - cheers buddy.

He sounds a bit posh, but has a pleasant voice none the less. I heard this long before I'd heard any VdGG, so had no idea who he was.

It was the crazy drums at the start of Imperial Zeppelin that grabbed me from the off. Unfortunately, a lot of the rest of the album shifts into much more straight-forward singer-songwriter territory after the, frankly, crackers start.

I don't have a great deal to compare this to, as there's not much else on my shelves that sound quite like it.

The only real low-point is the dreadful Vikings. Cack.

"Aaaaah - it's so imperial!"

"And I don't feel quite like dying......"

Home - XIV

Arena ARE00012-2. 1999

All the best bits from good-era Flaming Lips, less-angular aspects of Pavement, a smattering of Mercury Rev pomp, and a Grandaddy chaser.

Excellent, and I'd kind of forgotten about it. I'll immediately get everything else I can by them.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Hurricane #1 - Step Into My World EP

Creation CRESCD276. 1997

Starts with a ghastly mix by Paul Oakenfold & Steve Osborne that we can just forget about, thank you very much.

The normal version of the title track comes over a bit Oasis-y if you ask me, but I don't know a great deal about mainstream, dull guitar-based indie.

So it goes for the rest of this ep. Neither nowt-nor-summat bland guitar-based indie nothingness that doesn't even annoy me - it would have to have some kind of impact on my senses to do that. In one ear, out the other, response-free.

I suppose I tried it at the time as I quite liked Ride.

Hecker - IT ISO161975

Mego 014. 1998

There's not enough going on here to comment, as I don't want to crank up the amp and potentially damage the speakers to get the full effect of the sub-bass rumblings. I'll give this another go with headphones, or play it at the office on my floorstanding tannoys.

Interesting technical note: this has a track before track 1, only accessible by playing track 1 and rewinding into the stuff before it. Very clever, though it means I've not heard a large chunk of this before now.

I met Peter Rehberg (main Mego man) in France a few years ago, and he was flashing his new iPod around (they'd just come out, and he'd bought one in either America or Japan, I can't remember. He predicted that in a few years from then, people like himself (laptop twiddlers) would carry their whole set-up on iPods and spec the relevant hardware on their technical rider. Not as daft as he looks eh? (No, he really does look daft, trying to look cool in photos with Stephen O'Malley). One of the few noise performers I've seen live (under the name Pita) that actually made any kind of sense though.

Not that any of that has anything to do with Hecker, but I've typed it now, so tough.

Herbie Hancock - Man-Child

Columbia CB741. 1975 (1992)

That's just too much funk for one album.

Starts off at a blistering pace with the crazy Hang Up Your Hangups, gets all slinky (and, eventually, a bit samey), then cracks on nicely again on the last track, Heartbeat.

I prefer this over Headhunters.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Herbie Hancock - Future Shock

Columbia CB741. 1983

Yet this does nothing for me. 80's twaddle.

I don't even like Rockit.


Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters

Columbia/Legacy CD6512. 1973 (1997)

That shit is the funk, right there.

Though the jazz-improv-freakout gets a bit much towards the end of track 3, Sly, there isn't much to complain about here.

Just look at the cover!

Laurel and Hardy - Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Hallmark 701272. 2002

Plenty of oldey-timey music on here, most of which is very canny, but it's the classics that stand out.

I could listen to Dance of the Cuckoos, Trail of the Lonesome Pine, and Honolulu Baby all day.

But the highlight is the eternally sublime At The Ball, That's All. Understated brilliance, even without the visual delight of watching the pair dancing to it.

House of Pain - Jump Around (single)

XLS43CD. 1993

Tip top hippity hop.

The Hives - Your New Favourite Band

Telstar Records MC5055CD. 2002

I'm currently enjoying a renewed enthusiasm for garagey rock type stuff, so this is timely.

And rawkously good fun. Might even stick it on the 'pod for gym listening.

Brings back memories of a splendid summer in my big new office, nicely settled in, doing bits and pieces of layout for Get Rhythm music magazine based upstairs.

Horizon 222 - The Three of Swans

Charrm CD18. 1994

Though the restraint issue had been addressed by now, this still shifts dramatically from light to dark, cheery to brooding.

The opener proper (after a minute of seagull samples mixed with the Birmingham Six on the steps of the Old Bailey upon release), Walking On The Air, could be top of the list for feel-good, summer barbeque soundtrack, with its jolly Lee Perry vocal sample and bouncing beats.

Most of the rest of this concentrates on atmosphere rather than bouncy niceness, and slips into frowny mode most of the time. Not that it isn't good, it just doesn't logically follow the opener. I'll mention The Orb again (second time today), as One Small Dot could sit on Ultraworld and not feel out of place. See David Holmes post regarding too much speechy sample stuff in between tunes.

I certain I had something to do with putting the sleeve artwork together. The CD itself looks very familiar. 'Tis entirely feasible, as I'm sure it was around this time I helped with some CD reissues of some :z*f: stuff, as well as Ingleton Falls (nice artwork, shite tunes) and the Off The Map compilation.

Overall, canny. Still never liked one of the Andys though.

Horizon 222 - Through The Round Window

DOVe CD222/39100252. 1992

Careful now, that's a friend of mine. Watch your mouth babe, you're outta line.

When I first forced my presence up the :zoviet*france: chaps all those years ago, probably my second or third visit to the large house in the West End of Newcastle, they were busy scrutinising the films of the artwork for this album. I remember it was only spot colour separations, and didn't include the photos, which were to be added later, somewhere, somehow.

Not all that interesting, I know, but true.

A lot of this stands the test of time quite nicely. Though overly-festooned with layer upon layer of sampled hooks in places, when the tunes are allowed to speak for themselves they're enjoyable and stand up to repeated listening. I remember being very taken with the slowly building, eventually intense rhythms of the epic opener, Touch, with its belching, baritone throat-singing samples and chirpy synth licks. Into mellow dub territory on Heart, then off into trance-ville on Spirit Level, possibly their stab (though I'm certain they'd deny it) at commercial success (and possibly the best use of the sound of the Tardis outside the Dr Who titles).

I only have two problems with this album. I can't think of an occasion when I'd want to listen to it in its entirity. There's so much variation in pace and mood from track to track that something isn't going to sit right, depending how you feel. And restraint, or lack of. In many places less could have been so much more.

And for the record, I never did like one of the Andys - can't remember which one now, but he was a twat.

David Holmes - This Films Crap Lets Slash The Seats

Go! Discs 828 631-2. 1995

To insistant to be background music, too dull to be listened to in its own right.

Let's keep the film soundtracks for the films, eh?

"The Atom And You" threatens to be an early The Orb track for 3 minutes, then fails.

Ho Hum etc.

David Holmes - Lets Get Killed

Go! Beat 539 100-2. 1997

Nicely crafted funky shit. Still, when I put on some music I want to hear music, not a minute, possibly two, of someone talking before the tunes kick in. The street recordings etc on here do fit in nicely with the music at times, but there's just too much of it and it just isn't necessary. The guy can makes tunes.

David Holmes introducting the Free Association - Come Get It I Got It

13Amp AMP001CD. 2002

There's a reason most of the tracks on here are 'obscure'. They're 90% shite.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

David Holmes - Bow Down To The Exit Sign

Go Beat 543 713-2. 2000

I'm just not in the mood; this is getting on my nerves. Bobby Gillespie's tuneless warbling contributions are grating at my earwax, redeemed only by Martina (that bird on some Tricky records) getting all sultry on my ass, and the super-sweet tune 69 Police.

Enough for today, I think, otherwise I may start being unfair.

David Holmes - Don't Die Just Yet (single)

Go Beat GOLCD6. 1997

Entirely reasonable track, with those damn pointless remixes. And we all know what I think of pointless remixes.

Hüsker Dü - Candy Apple Grey

Warner Bros 7599-25385-2. 1986

Still shouty in places, which is nice. Suffers from that damn Mould/Hart 'we know best' production and that bloody shite snare.

Quite lovely poppy punkishness, with some real variation in the songs, whereas some of their stuff could dispense with the gaps between the tracks and just call it mush (see 'Warehouse'). We even get some acoustic and piano work. Think they must have had serious girlfriends by now.

No lowpoints!

Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade

SST CD027. 1984

Much better. They were still in hardcore mode when they recorded this, though it branches out into previously unexplored skies and keeps things a bit more interesting than another record of 2 minute, full speed thrash and yellers.

Highlights: great instrumental Dreams Reoccurring, Hare Krshna, Reoccurring Dreams (another great instrumental)

Hüsker Dü - Warehouse: Songs and Stories

Warner Bros 25544-2. 1987

Maybe they should have got a producer in. This is weak and, at times, annoying. The guitar sits on its own over there, the drums, with that ever-present bloody innapropriate snare reverb, yonder, and the bass flaps into the mix only briefly here and there.

It does have moments when everything comes together nicely, but for me it's only the combination of Mould and Harts vocals that keep me interested. Most of the songs seem rushed and throw-away.

Highlights (or the only bits worth skipping on to): Ice Cold Ice, Could You Be The One, She Floated Away

The Human League - Travelogue

Virgin CDV2160. 1988 (1980)

What a treat. One of the defining moments in pop-electronic history, and one which brings back many happy memories.

I was lucky enough to have slightly older cousins I spent a lot of time with as a youngster, and they were kind of into music, so I was exposed to some stuff a 10 year old may not normally have heard in 1980/81. So this was one of the coolest records I owned before I'd even started secondary school. I do remember having nightmares about being boiled alive.

The original album was utter perfection, but this CD release has extra tracks, some of which suck, and shows the direction they'd take once Ware and Marsh left and those two boilers came on board. Nice version of Rock 'n' Roll though.

Too many highlights to mention.

John Lee Hooker - The Best Of

Music Club MCCD020. 1991

Now I'm really sick. Not really his fault, but why have I got three 'best of's?

John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillum

Tring GRF023.

And 28 tracks on top of the previous 16, a lot of them the same, is just stupid.

John Lee Hooker - 16 Greatest Hits

Route 16 CD9004. 1988

I mean, it's alright and all, but it gets a bit samey.

Ok in small doses.

Mark Hollis - Mark Hollis

Polydor 537 688-2. 1998

[ choked silence ]


One of my favourite albums, from one of my favourite artists. Seven years after Talk Talk's magnificent swansong, Laughing Stock, Hollis continued into ever starker, fragmented, melacholic mode and created an album of stripped-down beautiful sadness that gets me every listen.

Being one of the most unique vocalists ever to grace my ears helps, but the guys ability to work with silence is astounding. The bits with sound are pretty good too.

Be kind, and play 'Colour Of Spring' at my funeral. Hopefully on some futursic space-laser-powered sound system, as it'll be 3012.

Hollyfaith - Bliss (single)

Creation crescd116. 1993

See below, only shorter.

Hollyfaith - Purrr

Creation crecd163. 1993

Unremarkable, but inoffensive, guitary pop-rock from some American chaps that didn't last very long and spent too much time analysing the My Bloody Valentine strumming while holding your trem bar technique and not quite pulling it off.

This must have been a quid somewhere, as there's no way I'd have paid real money for it.

Rolf Harris - Sun Arise (single)

EMI CDEM210. 1991.

No record of this on allmusic or discogs. Does what it says on the tin really, it's early Rolf.. Includes Two Little Boys, Six White Boomers, and I've Lost My Mummy, which makes me want to kill stuff.

Interesting-ish fact - there's a typo on the cover (of which there is no record on't interweb - I had to scan it) - "Iv'e lost my mummy". Idiots.

The Heads - The Time Is Now!

Man's Ruin MR097. 1998

Just goes to show you should take everything written at with a pinch of cynicism. Ed Rivadavia says of this 'it'll probably bore you to tears'. What a prick.

This collection of 7" and compilation tracks is absolutely outstanding, and a fine addition to the shelves of anyone even vaguely interested in stoner, psychedelic garage rock. It kicks mighty ass, and rather than apologise afterwards it'll fuck your girlfriend.

The Heads - Relaxing With...

1995. Headhunter UK huk001cd.

The best psychedelic garage in the world. Simple as.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

He Said Omala - Matching Crosses

World Domination Recordings WDM10095-2. 1998

Not nearly as good as I remember. Starts off a cross between Jimi Tenor and Barry Adamson, goes a bit mainstream and dull, peaks with the brilliant Troubled Mind (consisting mostly of a sample from Roy Orbison's Blue Bayou), ending with a couple of electronic drone tracks, the last of which is pretty damn good.

Not much more to say really, other than I forgot to type up the last couple of Heads albums.

And my head hurts from all the wine.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The Heads - Under Sided

Sweet Nothing SNCD011. 2002

Relentless psychedelic sonic onslaught from Bristol's finest underrated acid freaks. Heavy as a bad trip, sweet as a good one.

I don't know where they find the energy, though Simon Price doesn't expend too much with his spoken vocals. Lazy, but they fit nicely.

I'm worn out.

The Handsome Family - Through The Trees

Loose VJCD105. 1998

They're still midway between the country sound of later work and the backwoods alt-twang of the earlier stuff. This is pretty much the perfect balance, and for me their best album.

Weightless Again was the first HF track I heard, and you'll know why I dug out their other stuff when you hear it. 

"That's why people OD on pills, or jump from the Golden Gate bridge - anything to feel weightless again"

The Handsome Family - Milk and Scissors

Carrot Top SAKI011. 1996

See below. Earlier, not as country, but still tiptop.

"Sometimes I can't wait to come down with cancer, at least then I get to watch TV all day"

The Handsome Family - In The Air

There's nothing at all wrong with this. A brilliant slice of what would appear, on a casual listen, to be fairly straight-up country. A more intent ear reveals a twisted, dark humour throughout. Brett Sparks has an amazingly smooth baritone, and the pair of them (wife Rennie makes two) are pretty damn fine musicians. Buy this now.

"Darling can't you see? It's only human to want to kill a beautiful thing." 

"Listen to me, butterfly. There's only so much wine you can drink in one life, but it will never be enough to save you from the bottom of your glass."

(Sounds better in a baritone country twang than it looks on screen).

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Hafler Trio - A Thirsty Fish

The Grey Area KUT6. 1994

More of the good stuff.

I'm kind of glad this is the last THT disk on the shelf though. Some music would be nice.

The Hafler Trio and The Sons Of God - Resurrection

Touch TO:22. 1993

Might have been a bit more interesting to have been at the performance this was recorded at - 2 actors, 6 cookers, 6 baths. Where have all the Dada-ists gone?

After a slowish start it gets cracking and is a worthwhile listen, though don't bother to dust off the dancing pumps.

I saw Zbigniew Karkowski play in France a few years back, at a venue in Mulhouse. I'd been drinking wheat beer. The PA caught fire due to the extreme frequencies he was pumping through it at high volume. I'd not witnessed that before. Most amusing.

The Hafler Trio - All That Rises Must Converge

The Grey Area KUT5. 1994

At the more interesting end of THT spectrum. A reissue of 1986's The Sea Org and Brain Song eps. Familiar territory, with treated field recordings, cut-ups and drones, but this is the McKenzie I like. Lots of slowly building soundscapes, sudden loud bursts and flipping instantly between seemingly unrelated material which eventually makes some kind of sense.

Luverlee stuff.

Reptilicus and The Halfler Trio - Designer Time

Staalplaat STCD068. 1994

Utterly pointless.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Hafler Trio - Intoutof

Soleilmoon SOL14CD. 1998

More dark (even though the first half of it is clearly made with those whirly tube doofers) drone delight. Second half is harsh.

This is slower than the original vinyl, as they had to speed the tapes up to make it fit on each side of a record. Those crazy cats.

Lock the doors.

The Hafler Trio - Masturbatorium

Touch TONE1CD. 1991

The soundtrack to the Annie Sprinkle performance.

Eerie, and anything but erotic.

The Hafler Trio - Four Ways Of Saying Five

Soleilmoon KUT4. 1995

First track is a lengthy (48min) edit of lectures given in the Netherlands in the 80s, on the theories and writings of Robert Spridgeon. Though embelished with Hafler Trio drones and clickety-clacks, not exactly recreational listening. The subject matter is a bit too indepth to really grasp by listening, so I don't really see the point.

Second and final track is a montage of snippets of installation soundtracks and performances, and is easier (????) on the ear.


The Hafler Trio - Play The Hafler Trio

Staalplaat SPCD031. 1991

I've always had a lot of time for the work of Andrew McKenzie, though I'd stop short of the hero worship and labelling of 'genius' that some arseholes bestow all too lightly.

That was until he let myself and a colleague down badly by pulling out of a performance at the 11th hour, making us look shit and costing us a four-figure sum on non-refundable airfares, hotel bookings and publicity material. For no good reason. Twat.

This is THT in typical slow-building drone loop mode. No surprises, but very listenable.

Heligoland - Heligoland

Calcium Chloride CaCl003CD. 2000

My favourite band of all time was Talk Talk. Oh, what a sad day it was when they eventually split.

They couldn't have gone in much further directions than they did. While Mark Hollis stuck with the overall minimalistic, bleak feel of their last album, Laughing Stock, for his solo effort, Tim Friese-Green has picked up a guitar or two and some cheap keyboards, setting free his alt-rock alter-ego.

This is a beautiful record. Understated, seemingly effort-free. It sounds home-recorded, which it was, and has an honesty about it that would be hard to emulate in the studio. It sticks with the melancholia and general doom of Talk Talk's final foray ('We're all here to die. Put your head on the altar. Can you swear you've lived enough?'), but who needs happy-happy-joy-joy all the time?

Remind me a lot of The Auteurs, and his voice is often a bit John Lennon-ish - all good. There's a pointless version of Purple Haze hidden at the end which isn't worth waiting for. Other than that (and we probably can't count that since it isn't on the track list), 9 out of 10. Gold star.

Not to be mixed up with the Aussies who've nicked the name.

Holger Hiller - Demixed

Mute CDSTUMM102. 1992

All the greatness of the original tracks, shoved through a mangle and given a bit of a squeeze. I wouldn't say any of these are better than the starting material, but nothing comes across as too tragic, though track 8, XXX remixed by A.J. is a bit annoying and unnecessary.

I just noticed a sample from World Destruction by Timezone on this listen, which I've not made out before. There you go - I've achieved something today.

For fans of squeaky door samples.

Holger Hiller - As Is

Mute CDSTUMM60. 1991

Coming on like the bastard offspring of The Art of Noise and Coldcut. Twisted, but funny rather than bitter. Lots of interesting sample use and groovy throughout.