Spoopy season is here, spoop is almost gone. aya, Apartment Records, Sheer Zed, No Name, Emma-Kate Matthews, Eye Measure, GCOM, Anthony Naples, Zvrra and The Dubwitch Horror
I hope you managed to check the guest mix from LXV. It’s very good. More mixes to come in due time. It’s Halloween on Sunday and you know I love this time of year, so there are some seasonally appropriate inclusions. There are also some inclusions that are just generally very good. As always, I hope you find something you like, be it gnarled club sounds or not-quite-Britpop or raucous percussion or frenzied techno.
I don’t even know where to begin with this. I was going to make a comparison with John Cooper Clarke (the so-called bard of Salford) even though I know nothing about him, and then I read the blurb calling aya “folk singer, town cryer, bard and court jester”. So I wasn’t really far off? I duno. Her vocals here are somewhere between arch humour and juvenile rap, I mean there’s even a track called ‘dis yucky’, which sounds like something my three-year-old son might say. The music is rich and complex and at times quite banging, but also tender and emotive. It’s being called Album of The Year in some quarters, so much so that when I didn’t feature it this time last week I received the following message:
You know I laaahve you...where is aya, papa trance ?👁🔎
Dublin’s Apartment Records celebrates 10 years with a compilation that looks to the future. There’s glam techno (if that’s a thing), rolling modular ambience, driving house and lots more. Highlights (if I must) come from Belacqua, Americhord, Jo Johnson, Bea Brennan and newcomer Johno. Get into it.
This is a rather fascinating release. Not the kind of thing I’d usually listen to or indeed feature, but it was rather entrancing so I couldn’t say no. Sheer Zed is a bit of a polymath, making brilliantly weird music and also writing in places like the Rituals & Declarations zine. He sent me this release saying that it had been in the making for 26 years. Huh. It comes with a pdf and I read that before pressing play. It tells of his life in the mid-1990s, he was on the cusp of homelessness and fortuitously fell in with a bunch of wide-eyed squatters. He joined some of these in forming a band called The Martians, with Zed acting as lyricist and singer. He learned earlier this month that one of the founding members, Louis De Trébon, died by suicide. In dedication to his friend and erstwhile bandmate, as well as “all former Martians and members of the Intergalactic Rescue Team”, about whom you’ll have to read in the pdf. I can’t do it justice. The music is almost like what you might expect to hear in the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks, through a skewed British (or rather Martian) lens. It was recorded during the Britpop era and shares some sensibilities, but is a world away in terms of intent.
Here’s some seasonal spoop for you, thanks to Nick Boyd for bringing it to my attention. No Name was a duo made up of Mark Imperial and Shawn Shegog, and they released two 12”s on Imperial’s House Nation label. Jason’s Revenge was the label’s first release, and this version was acidic and almost industrial, whispered vocals giving a perfectly demonic feeling to the track. That said, it came with the following warning: “Contains Subliminal Suggestion That Will Jack The House.” It’s fun too.
One of a series of remixes, it’s a slow burn that edges towards chunky electronic percussion without fully giving way. It’s like a subtle version of that new Blawan track.
You may have heard of Tom Middleton and Global Communication. A potted history: Middleton and his collaborator Mark Pritchard helped to define the 90s ambient sound with their landmark 76:14 album (not to mention their Pentamerous Metamorphosis release and their dancier work as Reload/Link & E621 and Jedi Knights). In the past decade Pritchard has been on a constantly futuristic tip, with his work as part of Africa Hitech and under his own name. Despite his glorious Sound of The Cosmos mix in 2002, Middleton’s stuff hasn’t always been so well received. To be honest, it’s been a bit fluffy at times. With GCOM, he’s reviving the Global Communication moniker (in a way), although the music isn’t a direct link to what came before. Some of it is almost digital drum & bass with an ambient sheen, some of it is pure adrenalin at 180bpm. Some of the tracks are a bit overblown, almost leaning into that orchestral electronica sound, but when it’s right it’s right. Moments appear on tracks like ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘The Last Rains (V Mix)’ that show he’s still got it, and while ‘Beyond The Singularity’ and ‘Helix Nebula’ might not fit alongside ‘14:31’, they’re definitely in the same vein. It’s a hefty release, but there’s plenty inside to love.
A rare mix from Anthony Naples. No messing, just bangers.
I can’t remember when I first saw that Zvrra was going to be releasing on Avian, it feels like an eternity (so probably July or something). Bizarroland is finally here. It’s not quite techno? I mean it’s not all eight-minute thumpers with steady buildups, drops and conclusions. There are tracks that sound like sheet metal come to life, nightmarish waltzes, painful beatless electronics, discomfiting ambience. In short, worth the wait.
This is almost in line with the Sheer Zed release, inspired by a strange group of outsiders, but this is more occult than general mayhem. Well, I should say that the opening track mentions a small enclave of disparate souls, an allegedly ancient cult, but who knows if it’s legit or just fabricated. The music is cool though, and very seasonal. Spoopy af. Chunky and rattly and dank and over the top, a brilliant entry into the world of strange Bandcamp sounds. At one point it’s almost like Beck if he were a zombie. Why not. Happy Halloween!
To finish, here’s a radio show I put together for a Halloween special on Dublin Digital Radio last year. It aired on the day itself so I wasn’t able to share in advance, and it didn’t feel right to share once we hit November, bar a brief mention in the following week’s intro. It’s a wide-ranging mix that covers atmospheric music of all types, from musique concrète and early electronics to modern ambient sounds, music taken from and inspired by horror films, extracts from films and downright weird field recordings. Artists like Svarte Greiner, Daphne Oram, Rupert Lally, Gadget And The Cloud, Broadcast, Bridget Hayden, Andrew Liles, Carmen Villain, Bernard Hermann, Flora Yin-Wong, Paul Giovanni and Magnet, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Meemo Comma, Annea Lockwood, Memotone, Lighght and of course, Boards of Canada all feature, alongside a host of others. It was a true joy to assemble, and listening back to it this week I felt quite proud of it. So if you want two proper hours of spoop this weekend, look no further.