Archive for August, 2009

Beyond a Shadow of a doubt

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Beer makes you do funny things.  In this case it was swearing my life that Moonlight Shadow was by Sally Oldfield.  Well of course I knew that Mike Oldfield wrote it, but I thought Sally was the vocalist.  In fact, I didn’t think, I was sure.  My photographic memory consistently recalled an old EMI compilation called Knuckle Sandwich from my youth, whereupon Sally crooned away about being unable to shove through something or other.

It was a loud and animated argument in the Soho pub, and so you can imagine my chagrin when I later found I was sober, and wrong.


Melthebells seems to be the only person on the Internet with any available info on this clearly very popular compo.  From slightly silly ska from Darts and Rocky Sharpe and the Replays to some execrable Black Lace (which I really didn’t miss), it’s an interesting excursion.  The angelic Sally does feature as my memory maintained, but unfortunately singing her only hit single, Mirrors, rather than Moonlight Shadow as my fuzzy adolescent brain had stored.  (Some Scottish vocalist I’ve never heard of sang Moonlight instead.)

So, I’m now committed to buying an extra round at the pub and have remembered a 1977 song I’d long-forgotten.  A curious sniff around Youtube reminded me why:

Bring back Fiddler’s Dram.  All is forgiven.

HCLD010 : Sensational

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

HCLD010It’s been a hot day in the city and so it was on the balmy walk home that a promo copy of HCLD010 shuffled itself into my ears. It’s their latest EP from T92, and while intriguingly described as “more mellow than our usual releases” it’s easy to see why they’ve put it out – it’s one of their best yet, and I’m struggling not to say that it’s the best thing I’ve heard from their label full stop.

I always had a soft spot for Ben Venom’s The Dirty Mind way back on Hardcore Energy 2, and in some ways this EP – Sensation in particular – is similar.  Out are the big-room tunes of Weeky and 13Teen, and likewise absent are the mega-basslines of Autimate which I waffled about some time ago.  In their place is an evocative sense of atmosphere that places these tunes squarely in 1994, somewhere in a set by Ratty in a dusty tape pack in an attic miles and miles away.

When Sensation came on, the streets of Shepherd’s Bush melted away and for ten minutes I was at a friend’s garage, on the bus, or in my bedroom sorting through my brand new Dreamscape 6-packs. It’s a distinctive, progressive combination of bassline, subtle pads and chilled breaks that I hadn’t heard for a long, long time – the Hardcore Breaks scene tends to veer towards a general toughening up of the older style, which made this all the more a pleasant surprise.  If it was slightly more drum ‘n’ bass than breaks, it’d be in Kruder & Dorfmeister’s box, and nudging LTJ Bukem in the ribs.  Superb.

Breakdown! doesn’t, really.  Instead, it builds itself around an acoustic sample which if I’m honest can be a bit hard on the ears.  Far more dancefloor than Sensation‘s sofa, bass and synths return with a vengeance but never with the ferocity of T92’s previous singles.  It’s in all a more considered approach, somewhere between Chilly March and Richie K’s Sinister from the label’s previous EP.  Half the length of the flip-side, it’s a shorter excursion into a middle-ground we haven’t heard much of from this artist before.

Don’t just take this old raver’s word for it, though – try it yourself with the sampler below.

Hardcore Lives Digital 010 is available from Hardcore Lives Records.

Disclosure: I make sleeve artwork for Hardcore Lives Records.

Top of the list

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

I was just sauntering through my Winamp’s Most Played list, and was astonished to see this at the top.  I didn’t think I listened to it that much.  Still, it’s ace.

Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

Walking in Fields of Gold

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

fielddayThat title isn’t a wry attempt to skewer the catering people who were charging £6 for a burger.  Oh no.

Off we trotted to Victoria Park on Saturday, mindful of the Met Office’s “barbecue summer” and thus loaded down with kagouls and umbrellas.  A full day out ahead of listening to people that I’ve mostly never heard of – excellent.

First stop was the BuggedOut! tent.  Last time I saw anyone at a BuggedOut it was a slightly limp evening of Tom Middleton, so I was pleased to see it filling up for Fake Blood and his loud, square basslines.  Some old and new remixes didn’t disappoint, and queuing  in the rain at the heaving bar or just bouncing around outside for half the advertised set didn’t seem to matter as an unexpected half-hour seemed to be squeezed on the end.  Somewhere around a disappointingly breakdown-free edit of Mars something odd seemed to happen with the sound, leaving the last half hour more akin to standing in a very busy bar rather than a huge tent. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I gazed skyward in wonder at the enormous canopy above my head, and a flying banana skin missed my face by millimetres.

A final burst of what may well have been the Prins Thomas mix of Outlander’s Vamp led us into Little Boots, whose band had finally set up and whizzed through a power half-hour or so of electro-pop hits.  The aforementioned sound-wobble didn’t seem to have been fixed, leaving us in the centre of the arena at least struggling to hear the lyrics with any definition.  That didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for yelling along to final song Stuck On Repeat, mind you.

The heavens opened once more and our crew fashioned a complex multi-storey structure of umbrellas and kagouls under which to wait for Santigold to not appear on stage due to technical problems.  After half an hour trying to direct the remaining rivulets of water down other people’s backs, food called.  Just as we’d found some burgers – nice, but exceptionally low value – the band finally took the stage to provide a smooth, personal soundtrack to our synchronized munching.

Four Tet were up next courtesy of Adventures In The Beetroot Field, by which time I’d opted for some sitting under nearby trees rather than tent-huddling due to old war wounds and bunions.  You know the like.  The banging noises were getting quite exciting, although my eventual curious entrance was greeted by things calming down somewhat, the remainder of the set spent listening to fireside electronica plus gentle rumbling while some flexible ladies twirled glittering hoops in the darkness. The feeling washed over me that I wasn’t wearing enough tweed, and had mislaid my pipe.  Very pleasant, all the same.

Virtual beard well and truly stroked, Toumani Diabate was the final stop of the day in the Village Mentality tent.  I was pleasantly surprised to find some excellent world music, considered I’d heard part of the Grease soundtrack emanating as I walked past earlier.  As the tent bounced and sang along like an enthusiastic football chorus, I ventured out into the tranquil darkness for some water to find Moguai lumbering on in the distance on the main stage, shrouded in a dry ice mist like some will o’ the wisp.  All the acts gradually finished and piled into our world music jamboree on the way to the exit, which finished last in a huge burst of crowd singing, hay and cider.  Now there was only the prospect of the long tube home.

Kudos to T for the initial idea and organising tickets, N for her administrative acumen and valuable transportation advice, L for the musical recommendations and B for locating cups of tea just as the sun went down.  Next year we should take a camera.

Playing The Field

Saturday, August 1st, 2009


So then, I’m off to Field Day today.  It’s a grey day in London, but hopefully the rain will be held off by my faithful electrono-brolly.  I’m quite looking forward to stroking my imaginary beard very hard to Fake Blood, Erol Alkan and Little Boots among others.  If I survive, there’ll be a full report later.