Nail – Cassiopeia
I’m very much enjoying this right now so thought I’d share, it’s been a while I know. From when trance was still good, this track comes from 1993’s Strictly 4 Groovers, an LP from rave favourites the legendary DiY soundsystem crew.
It’s a slow builder, starting off with some trancey arpeggiated synths, the lush bassline comes in after a minute or so, the spacey atmosphere grows with hints of cymbal until the beat finally arrives three minutes in. even then it’s another minute until the handclaps (my favourite) hit and we’re into full-on gorgeous ambient trance.
Try it, you just might like it.
And if you’re unfamiliar with DiY then there are worse places you could start than the seminal DiY Jack set from 1992’s Castlemoreton festival – check the link below to download the whole set.
Download MP3 (9:46min / 16MB)
Morrissey – Margaret On The Guillotine
I think it’s fair to say that few musicians are as polarising as ex-Smiths lead singer and long time soloist Morrissey. There seems to be relatively little middle ground – people either love the guy or think he is a piece of shit. This is from his first solo LP “Viva Hate”, released in 1988 when Margaret Thatcher was still Prime Minister, and really sums up what a substantial part of the British population felt at the time. And probably still do. It’s not a great song, but then I get the feeling it wasn’t meant to be.
Download MP3 (3:40min / 5MB)
Good strong heartfelt a cappella over Hudson Mohawke’s “Higher Ground”. What’s not to like?
Play loud and get angry as nothing they’re angry about has improved since they released it in 99.
Download MP3 (3:10min / 6MB)
Billy Bragg – Richard
Following recent electronic explorations it’s Back to Basics with perhaps the best songwriter of the 1980s. Billy Bragg appeared in 1983 with the extraordinarily titled mini-LP Life’s A Riot With Spy vs Spy on ex-Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner’s Utility records, repackaged with second album Brewing Up with Billy Bragg on the soon-to-be-ironically titled Back To Basics a couple of years later, in which form it remains available. Soon to be ironic because Bragg was – and is – partial to a left-wing song; whereas the phrase “Back To Basics” was taken up in the early 1990s by the UK’s Conservative Prime Minister John Major, with farcical results.
The first two Bragg albums feature just voice and electric guitar – with songs recorded just as he played them in his one-man live set of the time. With the sound stripped down that far, everything hinges on whether the songs are any good, and fortunately Billy had some of the best ones going: pretty much everything on the debut is a classic – “The Milkman Of Human Kindness”, “A New England” (covered soon after by Kirsty MacColl) and “The Man In the Iron Mask”. The next album went ever better IMHO with songs like “It Says Here” (an attack on the Murdoch-dominated right-wing UK press), “Love Gets Dangerous”, “From a Vauxhall Velox” and “This Guitar Says Sorry”.
So why “Richard”? Mainly because the skeleton found in a Leicester car park has been identified fairly conclusively as that of the infamous King Richard III of England, whose death brought to an end the Wars of the Roses and led to the formation of the Tudor dynasty. Richard was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, but outrageously, historians never realised before that the battle was fought in a car park. But now we know better.
Download MP3 (2:50min / 4MB)
Altus- Winter Embrace II (excerpt)
The second in what looks like being a rather short series of winter-themed posts, given that the current cold snap has ended (at least where I am). That says, if February is a cold one, there could be many more instalments…
Altus is a guy called Mike Carss based on Ottawa, Canada, who has been making ambient albums for just over 10 years now. Mike has around 35 releases available for free download in either MP3 or lossless FLAC format from his website. This is extremely generous, given that the one album I’ve downloaded so far (this one) is very good indeed… I was put in mind of a more slowed-down, glacial version of Global Communications’ mid-90s effort 76:14, which is high praise indeed. The whole album is one 61-minute track, which I’ve made a 12 minute excerpt from, just to give you a taster. Mellow without being at all boring, and just the thing for those Winter Sunday evenings. I’m downloading some other Altus releases right now and I expect to be featuring more stuff from the increasingly popular free-to-download ‘netlabel’ phenomenon on Dilated Choonz as this year progresses.
Download MP3 (12:24min / 23MB)
Pete Namlook – Season’s Greetings – Winter
I had an idea for a series of “theme” posts of music inspired by winter and coldness: but of course due to my usual slackness I didn’t manage to get the first post out the door until the present UK cold snap was almost over. However, better (almost) late than never, so here we are: another tribute to the recently deceased Pete Namlook, here is an excerpt from one of the four “Season’s Greetings” pieces he released as full-length CDs in 1994/95. The pieces were then edited down into extracts of 15-20 minutes each for a single “Four Seasons” CD a little while later.
The idea of a musical suite based around the seasons is, of course, as old as the hills: Vivaldi for example, and probably a lot of examples before that too. But Namlook makes the concept his own here. An icy sound and yet strangely comforting.
This is hosted externally because the file was too big to fit on the Dilated Choonz website so I don’t think you’ll be able to preview it – sorry about that.
Download Media (0:00min / 0MB)
David Bowie and the Lower Third – Can’t Help Thinking About Me
As a long-term David Bowie fan, the last few years have seen pretty lean pickings. Bowie had a hectic schedule in the early 2000s, with two pretty good albums in quick succession – Heathen and Reality, and a lot of touring. That era came to an end after he suffered a heart attack backstage after a gig in 2004, and since then he’s hardly been seen in public.
So it was a pleasant surprise, to say the least, when I heard that Bowie had released a new single, “Where Are We Now?” It’s a pleasant enough downtempo listen, very much in the mould of his 1999 LP “hours…”, but I wanted to take you back almost 50 years to Bowie’s first ever solo release under the Bowie moniker (previous to that he was recording under his real name David Jones but was suffering confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees). For this release, inexplicably, he’s backed by “The Lower Third” – what kind of a name for a backing group is that? Sounds like a school class.
“Can’t Help Thinking About Me” is probably the best 1960s single not to become a hit, although there is stiff competition from the High Numbers (aka The Who)’s debut single “I’m The Face”. Classic mid-60s pop and very economical with it, clocking in at under 2-and-a-half minutes. He even namechecks himself, ferchrissakes… “my girl calls my name… Hi Dave!” and also “Question Time” is mentioned, 13 years before the programme actually started on the BBC. This is a bloody time traveller record, and a stunning debut. Sadly Bowie abandoned the mid-60s pop-mod sound soon afterwards, although he continued to be informed by the mid-60s all through the 70s (most obviously on Pin Ups, although arguably the whole Ziggy Stardust thing was just mid-60s beat group rock with the guitars turned up well loud. But then all the best early 70s glamrockers were in that zone (Bolan, Slade, etc.)
Not sure if this is currently available on CD but it’s pretty easy to get 2nd hand or with a Spotify search. My copy came with one of those free CDs that you get with Mojo magazine – this one was called “Maximum ‘65” and was just about the best CD that Mojo has ever put out, worth several times the cover price of the mag in my book. Probably appearing at a charity shop near you as we speak.
More unusual Bowie gems and related stuff over the next few weeks. Dust off the pinstripe suits…
Download MP3 (2:26min / 5MB)
Paris – Religion
2012 saw far too many great musicians kick the bucket, and one of those was ex-Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Bob Welch. Welch
held Mac together between its two most commercial periods – the late-60s blues-rock phase with Peter Green and the late-70s mega-successful California phase with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. He was on 5 Mac LPs between 1971 and 1974 but then left because he felt the group wasn’t getting anywhere and he wanted to try something with a heavier sound – and promptly formed the hard-rock trio Paris with bassist Glenn Cornick (an early member of Jethro Tull) and drummer Thom Mooney.
Paris’s eponymous 1975 debut LP owes a huge debt chucks out the soft-rock stylings that Welch had spent 4 years cultivating with the Mac and instead presents a studio-slick approximation of the Led Zeppelin sound, although with less raucous vocals. It’s an all-time classic, which was not well received by the Rolling Stone Record Guide (1979 edition):
“Paris was raucous, monotonous heavy metal… self-righteous songs and noisy playing.”
But remember that this was the same publication that gave the first 4 AC/DC albums zero out of 5 stars and you’ll realise just how wildly off-beam these guys were.
Paris sadly only lasted 2 albums (and their 2nd LP, the bizarrely titled Big Towne, 2061 was a lot less heavy than the debut, although still good) but at their best they were up there with Zeppelin, Sabbath, The Groundhogs and UFO as fine practitioners of 70s metal. Pass the Flying V! And RIP Bob Welch – a sadly missed rocker.
Download MP3 (5:20min / 7MB)
Pete Namlook and David Moufang – Polar Melt
On the continuing Space: 1999 here is a nice ambient track with some samples from the show (the episode “Earthbound”, if I’m not mistaken) which also serves as a fitting tribute to ambient music maestro Pete Namlook, who died last November. A lot of people know Namlook’s v early work – Silence, Air, the Dreamfish collaboration with Mixmaster Morris and From Within with Ritchie Hawtin – but often don’t realise that after those 1993-4 high points, Namlook carried out making good stuff for another twenty years! This track is from 2010 and was on the 19th of 23 collaboration albums between Namlook and David Moufang (who produced LPs under the name Deep Space Network in the 1990s). Including solo and collaborative projects I would be surprised if Namlook produced less than three hundred LPs in his career and it may be substantially more than that. Anyway, very sad to see one of the true greats leaving us at only 52 years of age.
Download MP3 (10:38min / 17MB)
Hal Berstram – Spaced: 1998
From a fictional 1999 to the real 1998 (at least I think it was 1998…) I’ve been playing all my old cassettes into the computer and came across this piece which I made and then promptly forgot about. The equipment list was (I think) a Yamaha DX7 and a Zoom effects unit, multitracked using Cakewalk on my old PC. It’s a bit formless but illustrates some of the sounds that the DX7 was capable of quite well I think – a real travesty that this synth became known for electric piano and marimba imitations in the mid-1980s. I’m particularly pleased with the strange burbly sound that comes along at about 8:13 – sounding very similar to the Synthi AKS loop on Fripp and Eno’s “Swastika Girls”. I had no idea the DX7 was capable of such a weird sound, and still can’t quite work out how I did it, 15 years later. Oh well…
Download MP3 (9:59min / 18MB)
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