Musicophilia

[One-Off] – Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two’ (Beyond Can, 1977-1984)

Posted in Mixes, Talking, Tracks by Soundslike on June 16, 2009

Folder

Following the mix of later-era Can from a few days ago, this new collection of post- and extra-Can tracks, ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two‘ should be perhaps an even bigger surprise for those who’ve bought the hype that Can was all downhill after ‘Future Days’.  Putting together this collection, it even surprised me just how great the boys of Can continued to be after the “split” in 1979–if anything, this period was even more fertile than ’74-’79.  They might not have been years ahead of their time as they were with ‘Tago Mago‘ or ‘Future Days,’ but they were very definitely right in the thick of the zeitgeist of the day, mixing up a glorious “post-punk”-ish blend of reggae, funk, electronics, musique concrete, post-Krautrock, Afrobeat, and dub, with occasional pop melodic flourishes.  This collection covers both “solo” projects by various members (which always included other members of Can) and collaborative efforts with luminaries and lesser-knowns of the post-punk and dance worlds.  Given the breadth of years and the number of releases (17) and the vast number of participants, there is a remarkable cohesiveness in the diversity, proving that even after a “breakup” Can continued in spirit for quite a while.  This set is especially illuminates the fact that whatever Can were in the early days–art-rock, proto-punk, prog rock, Krautrock–is very much part of a strong progression of music through the 70s (reaching out laterally to funk and even sound library music) directly to the very best of post-punk, the latter’s name notwithstanding.  If you find yourself thinking of Talking Heads, The Slits, Arthur Russell, The Pop Group, Pere Ubu, Public Image Limited, This Heat, Family Fodder, Flying Lizards, Antena, Trio, Raincoats and the Tom Tom Club–along with Lee Perry, KPM library records, Brian Eno, Nonesuch’s ‘Explorer Series,’ King Tubby, et al–it’s surely no accident.

The collection begins in the 70s reaching back to Neu!, with Jaki Liebezeit playing the role of Klaus Dinger with aplomb alongside the real Michael Rother and Conny Plank (the latter of whom, along with Inner Space Studios, remains ever present through this set).  Next Holger Czukay demonstrates both the “Turtles Have Short Legs” humor of Can, as well as his Stockhausen-trained musique concrete roots, all set to an easy disco groove provided by Liebezeit and frequent late-era Can collaborator Rebop Baah; it ends up sounding like a silly counterpart to Eno & Byrne‘s ‘Bush of Ghosts,’ a disco-era update of Bernard Parmegiani‘s “Pop’eclectic” or Francois Bayle‘s “Solitude”.  His second solo track here (also featured in the ‘1981‘ set)  proves balding Germans with goofy mustaches can be sexy.  In ’81 Czukay and Liebezeit helped launch Annie Lennox and Phew in style with fantastic bouncing rhythms and brass instrumentation; and Czukay also found time to Goth it up in a one-off with Conny Plank as Les Vampyrettes, who provide a horror-movie soundtrack to match the Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” or The Normal‘s “Warm Leatherette”.  Irmin Schmidt largely exited the pop music world, focusing on soundtrack and experimental work, which his track here with Bruno Spoerri captures well, reminiscent perhaps of Ryuichi Sakamoto.  His other appearance here is nearly a full Can reunion, with Liebezeit, Karoli and Rosko Gee, taking a Meters-like New Orleans-funk feeling into outer space.  Both Liebezeit and Damo Suzuki show up–from different years–with minimal Afro-funk German group Dunkelziffer.

Jaki Liebezeit is unsurprisingly the core of Can even after Can, appearing on nearly every track here.  His excellent Phantom Band is represented as it evolved over four years, starting as a polyrhythmic troupe that I think Hamilton Bohannon would’ve dug (with vocals from Rosko Gee, late-Can member).  By 1981 Phantom evolves into a trippier post-punk dub outfit, and finally by 1984 a pop group that calls to mind Talking Heads or the Urban Verbs.  Liebezeit also helped out with Gabi Delgado-Lopez‘s transition from S&M DNW industrialism with Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft into Mediterranean New Pop territory more befitting his native Spain.  Jah Wobble is here in multiple instances bringing the woozy low-end that Public Image Ltd. lost.  He joins up with Czukay for probably the most surprising moment here–a NYC-style no disco synth workout that would have fit right in on Larry Levan‘s decks, with guitar from The Edge (yes, of U2) and produced/programmed by proto-house legend Francois Kevorkian.  While he was apparently less prolific than others in his post-Can output, Michael Karoli rounds things out (with the aid of Liebezeit) on two beautiful tracks from ’84 that would fit in right beside the “Earthbeat” phase of The Slits or the Raincoats‘ underloved ‘Moving’ LP, with Polly Eltes (who sang on Eno‘s ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’).  I won’t claim all this music will be a guaranteed hit all at once (though if you read all this, odds are good); but there’s a goldmine in this music.  Sadly, much of it is currently long out-of-print; but I ask that you support the artists by buying what is available. Full tracklist and the download link (with individual mp3s and relevant cover art) is after the “more” link.

(more…)

[One-off] – Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book One’ (1975-1979)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on June 14, 2009

Folder

If you’re listening here at Musicophilia, odds are you’re a devotee of Can’s early records.  But the ‘received wisdom’ says that the later Can is vastly inferior, perhaps not even worth listening to, and so many people have never looked past the first few albums.  I know it took me years before I explored beyond ‘Soon Over Babaluma,’ and a little while further before it could hit me on its own terms. It’s true, the later albums are not what their early albums are, as so little is; when Can began, they were essentially inventing a whole new sound and aesthetic almost from scratch.  But if later-day Can were a separate band free to create its own legacy, I believe ‘Can II’ would be held in equal esteem alongside the “Krautrock” bands that rate just behind early Can, like Faust, Neu! and Cluster, certainly up there with Harmonia, early Kraftwerk, Agitation Free and La Dusseldorf.  And as much as post-punkers no doubt loved their copies of ‘Ege Bamyasi‘ and ‘Tago Mago,’ the truth is this music sounds more post-punk, as it’s tapping into the same diverse sounds–funk, dub, reggae, Afrobeat, sundry “world musics,” and surely not least disco–as the best post-punk would do a couple years later.  So give it a try–just please support the artists, do yourself the favor, and buy the albums you may have missed.  (And it almost  goes without saying, if you don’t know Can well already–run, don’t walk, and buy the first few albums as soon as possible.  Then come back to this music after your mind has exploded and you’ve put it back together as best you can.)  A second mix will follow shortly of extra- and post-Can tracks and collaborations by members of Can during the post-punk and new wave years.  Tracklist and download link after the break, for a limited time. I ask that if you enjoy the music found on this mix, you purchase the relevant albums, and remove the mix from your devices–please.

Can – “Aspectacle” (1979)

(more…)

[1981] – ‘Briefcase, Volume 2’ (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Tracks by Soundslike on May 18, 2009

1981_briefcase-small

As you hopefully know, the principle nine mixes from the ‘1981’ Box Set are all now available for download here at Musicophilia.  For those who just can’t get enough of the post-punk fecundity, the adventure continues roughly every weekend with tracks from the ‘Briefcase‘ disc (a catch-all mp3 disc that added another 250 tracks and artists/bands to the box set) at Musicophilia Daily.   Periodically, these tracks will be collected and presented here at Musicophilia in unsequenced, alphabetical order; this is the second such collection, featuring tracks #21-40.

Highlights from this 20-band collection include Bow Wow Wow, the Bunnydrums, the Cardboards, Cancer, Buzz, very early ChameleonsCCCP-TV, Ceramic Hello, Hyped2Death faves Chemicals Made From Dirt, Christian Death, The Clash in dance-remix mode, Bouncing Czechs, Colours Out of Time, and perhaps my faves of the bunch, Club Tango.  Tracks are in low VBR and include cover art; download link below the “more…” link.

(more…)

Tagged with: , ,

[1981] – ‘Briefcase, Volume 1’ (2005)

Posted in Talking, Tracks by Soundslike on April 6, 2009

1981_briefcase-small

So far, eight of the nine ‘1981‘ mixes from the box set released in 2004-2005 have been “reissued” here at Musicophilia, with over 3,000 downloads between them, hopefully helping many of you hear music that’s new to you.  But there was a whole other element to the box set where the carefully sequenced and themed mixes ended: the ‘Briefcase‘ disc, which was a catch-all grab-bag from the endless corners of what could be called “post-punk” in 1981.  It added another 250 tracks and artists/bands to the box set, and while not a mix in the usual sense (tracks were simply presented alphabetically), there was a lot of great stuff in there, and the ‘Briefcase’ is what makes the box set something closer to an historical record than simply a collection of mixes.  Every weekend, more tracks from the ‘Briefcase‘ are made available for streaming over at Musicophilia Daily; but due to their apparent popularity, I’ve decided to make the tracks available for download here at Musicophilia on a periodic basis.  Here’s the ‘1981 Briefcase, Volume 1‘, with the first 20 tracks; depending on whether anyone downloads this set, another 11 or so volumes will likely follow over the next year.

Among the highlights from the twenty artists in this collection: 1000 Ohm, Absolute Body Control, and Beranek (also featured in higher quality as part of the “1981 addendum” mix, ‘How To Say 1981 in German‘); early A Flock of Seagulls and ABC; Adam & The Ants; Alternative TV; 49 Americans side-group Avocados; pre-Bangles The Bangs; The Work-related Black Sheep; Blondie; and Cyndi Lauper’s first foray, Blue Angel, amongst others.  Tracks are in low VBR and include original cover art; download link below the “more…” link.  [My thanks to the true geeks who discovered this download last week via my little April Fools trick/self-satire/wishful thinking.]

(more…)

[1981] – ‘Fire’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 31, 2009

1981-fire

One element of post-punk that’s generally overlooked in the prevailing narratives (grey overcoats, “art school,” edgy guitars, politics) is that it directly countered the lockstep of punk by vastly expanding, if not exploding, the rhythmic possibilities of “rock” music.  Gone was the polka-like punk stomp, gone was the prog 20-piece-kit pomp; and in their place, a cultural pluralism of percussion, groove, shake, surf, shimmy, disco, jazz, skank, and free-form funk.  You might call it renewed cultural imperialism after 20 years or so of rock-whiteyfying; but perhaps Malcolm Mclaren-touched projects aside (think Bow Wow Wow), the sound to me is one of liberation, not domination; honor, not theft; it’s exploration, not usurpation, in earnest joy.  As evidence, here is the 8th mix from the 1981‘ Box Set: ‘Fire‘.  This is perhaps the most generally encapsulating mix of the broader zeitgeist of post-punk (at least as I see it) after the first mix posted six months ago, ‘Feet;’ and both share a prevailing danceability and buoyant pace, making this another good mix to share with your post-punk neophyte friends.

Loosening up the beats across 24 tracks and 80 minutes are plenty of well-known names: New Order (from their underrated debut, the gloom already beginning to lift); David Byrne going solo and mirroring his contemporaneous work with Brian Eno, along with Talking Heads and beside the Tom Tom Club; The B-52s; INXS (telling you something about just how vibrant 1981 was by being actually quite decent); Wire, in one of their last first-run releases; Prince, already stirring up controversy.  Then there’s queen Banshee Siouxsie in her fantastic polyrhythmic side project Creatures; David Thomas really going all out like a parade, from his first solo album, and sounding about as far from contemporaneous Pere Ubu as you could imagine; The (English) Beat; The Specials with their all-time great and post-Specials Fun Boy Three; Japan with Mick Karn’s singing bass; and A Certain Ratio demonstrating Factory’s shifting modus oparandi.  Rounding it out are Fad Gadget, the Raybeats‘ surf stylings, Loung Lizards‘ snake-skin jazz, The Suburbs, indefatigable Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, Bauhaus, The Raincoats marching to their own drummer (in this case This Heat’s Charles Hayward), and a barn-burner from my favorites, Family Fodder.  And that leaves one more to go–the counterpart to this mix, ‘Ice,’ so keep on the lookout soon.  Full tracklist and download link at the “more…” link.

(more…)

[1981] – ‘How To Say 1981 In German’ (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 19, 2009

how-to-say-1981-in-german

How to Say 1981 in German‘ is a Musicophilia’s first “addendum mix” to the ‘1981’ box set (and is based on a mix I put together partially from tracks in the ‘1981 Briefcase‘ in 2005).  It explores the tip of the iceberg of Deutsche Neue Welle and DNW-inflected music, and in terms of quality could well have been the 10th “main disc mix” in the box.  If DNW is new to you, this should serve as a reasonable introduction, despite being limited to just one year: ’81 was as peak for Germanic-speaking synthy, dark, reassuringly non-virtuosic  pop as it was for post-punk at large–though like Italo Disco, DNW seems to have carried on strong longer than non-New Wave/New Romantic post-punk in Britain and the U.S. did.  Within basic parameters described above, this compilation reveals the considerable breadth within the DNW umbrella: songs of tuneful joy; sultry saxed-up rockers; dubby or D.A.F.-lite dance-pop; playful squelchy synth-funk silliness; sentimental romanticism; minimal ambient horror-shows; odes to evil robot CIA/KGB; precient proto-house (if Pole tackled house instead of dub); “dance-punk” that you’d swear came from 2003; and of course a good dash of pre-apocalyptic rumination, as expected from the front-lines of the cold war, but offset by an equal measure neo-kosmiche optimism.

Few generally recognised names are found here (unless they’re better known in Germany): Neonbabies are sort of the German Bush Tetras; theres Absolute Body Control, Grauzone, Palais Schaumburg, Beranek, Geisterfahrer, Pyrolater (perhaps the best-known name here); Klopferbande, Sudenten Creche, Din a Testbild, Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons, Metro Pakt, Kosmonautentraum, Mythos, 1000 Ohm, Les Vampyrettes (actually Holger Czukay & Conny Plank, but which fits right in); and Deutsche Wertabeit, Matthais Schuster, Van Kaye & Ignit, Starter, Exkurs, and Weltklang.  Not a great deal of this stuff is readily available, though there are a few scattered “best ofs” and the occasional CD reissue of some of them; others are still waiting for their due.  As a couple of these tracks have been shared from the ‘1981 Briefcase‘ at Musicophilia Daily, I’ll stream them below as a preview of the mix.  Full tracklist and download below the “more…” link. [This mix is presented in its original form, as individual tracks, non-mixed.]

(more…)

[One-Off] – ‘Electromance’ (1969-2006)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 16, 2009

electromance1

Ah, the teenage rite of passage known as “the crush mix”.  Those doting collections of indie-pop/indie-folk love songs, usually given too early in a courtship, usually over-thought and overwrought with “meaning,” mostly the sort that says “I wanna be your lover” without daring say it (while inevitably including a track that has the word “love” in it but is actually about hookers or drugs or politics).  In truth, the whole mess was a lot of fun; but as I recall the results usually leave something to be desired musically–at least I’m pretty sure mine did, circa 1996.  So a couple of years ago, I put together a crush mix that honored the holy-cow-I’m-spinning awkwardness and intensity of youthful amore, but that eschewed the indie-centric blueprint for a broadly electronic orientation (while remaining accessible to the theoretical prospective girlfriend/boyfriend whose musical tastes remain mysterious).   So imagine this is a crush mix made by some precocious 17 year old who came up on bleeps and bloops instead of jangly guitars.  ‘Electromance’ is a little rougher than usual Musicophilia standard, as it wasn’t originally intended for a music-geek audience; and it has a little overlap with tracks featured on other mixes.  But I enjoyed it on rediscovery, and hopefully you will, too.  Record it to cassette and give it to your crush, and then sit around all week waiting to hear back, wondering if they’re getting all the careful subtext, and worrying about whether they’ll think the Depeche Mode track is sexy–or just kind of stalkerish.

Doing your wooing through ‘Electromance’ are: Silver Apples, Giorgio Moroder, Radiohead (a little indie, but a good track nevertheless), The Knife, Prefuse 73, Rachel’s, Herbert, Arthur Russell, Depeche Mode, Outkast, Burial, Prince, Vitalic, Suicide, Kraftwerk, Laurie Anderson, Scritti Politti, Rebecca Gates, Portishead, Brian Eno, and Bjork.  Full tracklist and download after the “more…” link.

(more…)

Tagged with: ,

[1981] – ‘Cassette’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on December 22, 2008

1981_individual-mixes_cassettesmall

‘Cassette’ is the sixth of nine mixes from the ‘1981’ box set to be posted here at Musicophilia (the first five can be found here, with detailed information about the project at the first mix, ‘Feet‘).  The mix began with a focus on the lo-fi and twee strains of post-punk in the box’s 1st edition.  By this, the 4th edition revision, the disc had mutated into something rather broader.  There’s still a commonality of unabashedly amateur means, a certain ramshackle sensibility, and a decided quirkiness that means you’ll mistake none of it for, say, Echo & The Bunnymen.  But stylistically and sonically, ‘Cassette’ became one of the most eclectic mixes in the set.  Partially this can be credited to its ‘Miniatures‘-like emphasis on brevity: 35 artists and tracks in its CD length means it never lingers any one place too long.  But in the odder, proto-home-recording edges of post-punk, limited means did not shape the aesthetic as much as with later, more voluntarily “lo-fi” music.  So here you’ll find cassette-trade-worthy takes on perfect pop, bristly punk, electropop, DNW, proto-Indie, Rock in Opposition, avant garde feminist art-rock, with an emphasis on the scruffier, scuzzier end of early synthpunk.

There are a few “known” names here (now, whether they were so much at the time): The Clean, Felt, Tall Dwarfs, Half Japanese, The Fall, Television Personalities, and the Violent Femmes.  But this disc almost certainly has the highest percentage of any ‘1981’ disc of unknowns-to-be-known-later and pretty-much-always-unknowns.  The artists you do know, but in early permutations or flying solo: Laughing Apples feature Andrew Innes later of Primal Scream; Ben Watts shows up here solo, best known as one half of Everything But the Girl with ex-Marine Girl Tracey Thorn; Biting Tongues included Graham Massey, later of 808 State; Plasticland is here in their earliest iteration (with Brian Ritchie of the Femmes), as are Aztec Camera.  There are Midwesterners (including many Hoosiers) like Social Climbers, Dow Jones & The Industrials, Dancing Cigarettes, Amoebas in Chaos, Philosophic Collage, and Human Switchboard; West Coasters The Beakers, Nervous Gender, Monitor, and Voice Farm; and excellent New Yorkers Thick Pigeon.  Not American are the 49 Americans, a well-connected London artist-amateur coalition that included David Toop; along with other Brits like Ludus (sometimes known for being Morrissey’s pals), The Fall-related Blue Orchids, recently-reissued Diagram Brothers, and Flux of Pink Indians; lovely French Young Marble Giants doppelgangers Fall of Saigon; and Germans Der Plan and the very reissue-worthy Neonbabies.  All this, on two sides of the elusive C80: the perfect sound for your new Walkman or Stowaway.  Full tracklist and download link after the “more…” link.

(more…)

Tagged with: , , , ,

[1981] – ‘Heart’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on December 15, 2008

00_1981-heart_1981_coversmall

‘Heart’ is the fifth compilation from the ‘1981′ box set, originally compiled and released 2004-2005 (the previous four can be found here, and more information about the project and as a whole and photos of the box are here).  Most of the time, “post-punk” has a spiky connotation, and an artsy reputation; words we would commonly associate with the period/movement/ethos are iconoclastic, political, contrarian, weird, Modernistic, futuristic, maybe even danceable and funky, in a wiry sort of way.  But one idea we might not think of very quickly is “emotional,” unless the brooding, gloomy sub-genre dominates our perception.  But even “gloomy” is almost more of an idea of an emotion than an emotion itself; a pose of sadness, a melodrama that does not particularly convey itself directly to any listener not already striking a similar pose.  This mix, then, was meant to shed a little light on the occurrence of more mature, fully-fledged emotion: the earnest, the hopeful, the broken, exultant, desperate, dreaming, nostalgic, regretful, passionate, uncertain, and sometimes viscerally angry heart of post-punk.

Most of the other discs in the set were compiled primarily around particular sonic criteria, so in some ways this is one of the more eclectic of the nine.  Musically there is a tendency toward simplicity, a degree of spareness, an un-punk sense of restraint; but other moments snarl or get a little anthemic, and others are unabashedly poppy.   Among the tracks here are some of my very favorite from 1981: The Cure‘s inimitable (would that none had tried) “All Cats Are Grey,” post-Young Marble Giants the Gist with “Love At First Sight,” Gang of Four‘s Achilles-like tale of “Paralysed,” OMD‘s bones-exposed “Romance of the Telescope” (one of the best b-sides of all time), Raincoats‘ “Only Loved at Night,” Talking Heads‘ biting-or-inspirational “Once In A Lifetime,” and perhaps most haunting, Japan‘s “Ghosts” (which, were it not for Laurie Andersons chart-penultimate ‘O Superman,’ would have to be one of the most unlikely singles of all time).   But the Passions, Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello, Durutti Column, Buzzcock Pete Shelley, The Sound, New Order, This Heat, Gary Numan, Psychedelic Furs, MX-80, Ultravox, and the other post-Young Marble Giants act featured here, The Weekend, are all represented here by some of their best work, too.  This would have to be the darkhorse contender for best disc in the set, so if you have hesitated to check them all out before, pick up again here and work your way back.  Full tracklist and download link after “more…”.  Four more ‘1981’ mixes remaining. . .

(more…)

Tagged with: , , , , ,

[One-off] – ‘Post Post-Punk’ (1983-1994)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on November 17, 2008

As I’ve said before, I find “post-punk” to be a term of minimal descriptive accuracy, in terms of the character of the music to which the label is attributed, nor even in terms of any meaningful timeline. The types of music we call “post-punk” have less to do with “punk” to my ears than with forms of music and art created in the 60s and early 70s. All that said, for convenience we usually talk of “post-punk” as peaking between 1978 and 1982, being supplanted (ostensibly) closely thereafter by the mainstream ascent of “New Pop,” “New Romantic,” “New Wave,” and soon enough outside of MTV, “indie-” or “college-rock”. And I’ll agree that between the quantitative peak of 1979-1981 to 1983, something does seem to have significantly changed. Plenty of the flag-bearers of post-punk adopted a more through- rather than against-the-system approach (some to great effect, like Scritti Politti or Depeche Mode; others less so, like Simple Minds). But the good thing about “post-punk” is that it was always more of an approach and a sensibility than a close-cropped aesthetic or production value, and it was less overtly based in the typical youth-oriented trappings of pop/rock music; so it never really died as a fount of new energy either for many of its premiere proponents (like David Byrne or David Thomas or Sonic Youth) and younger artists inspired by the freedom it expresses.

‘Post Post-Punk’ is a playful glance at the continuation of the ‘Spirit of ’78 to ’82’ (to put it awkwardly) through the mid-80s and a little of the 90s. Many of the artists featured are directly carrying on from the “peak” years—ESG; Liquid Liquid; Wire’s Colin Newman; Pop Group’s Mark Stewart; the Specials as Special AKA; or Siouxsie’s Creatures—who didn’t fit the slicker sounds gaining dominance. Other included here ‘predate’ the peak and never lost the tack, and simply kept going regardless of fashion, perhaps reinvigorated by their slightly younger peers, like David Thomas; Arthur Russell; or This Heat’s Charles Hayward, carrying on with Camberwell Now. Others were there in the day but became better known for later work, like post-Urinals 100 Flowers; Neon Judgment; Thick Pigeon; The Ex (perhaps the most successful long-time miners of the post-punk zeitgeist); Cybotron; the Blackouts; or Sonic Youth. Finally, a few represent the best of the generation more typically associated with indie-rock or Brit-pop, whose sensibilities had more in common with the ambitions of post-punk artists: Dog Faced Hermans, Biting Tongues (featuring Graham Massey, later of 808 State and Bjork renown), and Disco Inferno (who seem to me a bridge between post-punk, what was called post-rock, and the post-whatever good stuff being done today). Ultimately, though, the mix makes no attempt at any comprehensive argument or any sort of historical revision: it was just meant to be a mix of some of my faves who “carried on” the weirdness. Full tracklist and download after the “more…” link.

(more…)

%d bloggers like this: