Parliament – Osmium

Funk is summertime music, like you know the first waves of Spring are underway is when that initial trickle of sunny days appear, spells on greens dance with clouds for shadows leaving crazed hippies in daze, torn asunder as Bob, oh Bob Marley floats overhead on the breeze and sun in hand singing Kaya or Stir It Up or something something else of his. But when Funk’s about, and that dirty, booty, bass kicks in, and them wild shirts of colour punctuate the beach promenade skyline and palm trees hang ever lower with vibey grooves dripping into drinks of rum and joints with no tobacco, and sunbeams pour out of the sky and out of our faces, that’s when Funk’s about, it’s summertime man, you know?

This is Parliament’s debut LP Osmium, dropped way back when… 1970. Keep it alive. Taking care of business.

Jon Hopkins – Monsters OST

It’s natural for me to want to really dig down into what I recommend or post on here, to the point when I only bother to post something when it’s mindblowing, but in reality mindblowing isn’t round the corner everyday. It’s cool to show this variety of genres and times so lets keep that up. Really, rarely does a record get more than three listens, even if I like it, so why be so choosey about what I write about and enjoy things when they have their time in the sun.

This is a Jon Hopkins soundtrack for the film Monsters directed by Gareth Edwards, made in 2010. It’s a great film, and I watched it in the cinema twice – a rarity in itself considering I can barely pay their extortionate ticket prices. Light on story and dialogue, as in there’s not much of either, it behaves more like a silent monster film of yore. Romantic tensions between male and female, unable to be expressed fully, on a perilously long and difficult journey, suddenly encroached upon by a big slow moving monster, be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, that sort of thing… it has all the vital elements, but it’s modern. Infected zones, grubby urban backgrounds (sorry Mexico), all kinds of transport, little talk only body language, a very 21st century romance that. What made me make the return trip to the cinema was that I knew I wouldn’t get to see its cinematography again on such a large screen. Edwards’ use of POV through urban, jungle and post-apocalyptic sceneries is nightmarish in sequence, but the gradual lightening of the backgrounds hints to a new dawn for man. The Day of Dead festival scenes are dark with oranges of candles and red human faces. The jungle scenes are day and night, grey, green and black heavy, shots of rivers blurring by from boats, preluded a long night scene, and waking up to leave the green behind into the white and black husk of America, completing the stripping away of colours; no turning from their bleak, bleak future. The monsters? On a shoestring budget the CGI monsters are a marvel at how beautiful they are, in design and simply how they move. The soundtrack is minimal and complements what’s on screen well, building tension, keeping echoey soundscapes reflecting the wide open spaces, while shaving it down to claustrophobia for the jungle’s hyperventilation scenes. Jon Hopkins’ Immunity from 2013 is good too.

DJ Mehdi – Lucky Boy

One day in the future our technological capabilities will allow us to escape our consciousness. We could slumber in the ‘real’ world and live in simulations until we die. Once this plague of people wipes out the other species of this Earth concluding the ongoing mass extinctions we are continuing to inflict, I think many may experiment with living as their favourite animals. Our artificial intelligence is growing at a bacterial rate and will eventually exceed the human brain’s powers after we entertwine the internet with it, so we can do what..? Eventually, we will have designer babies, completing our aberration from nature into something distastefully unnatural. So why not say no to this life and jump into a simulation of your choosing?  I think we’d find the habits, routines and freedom of wild animals liberating. No money! Living off your own abilities. Part of a herd. Reproduce. Purpose. You wouldn’t even have to be wild, I suppose. Being a pet would be heaven (or hell, depends on your karma on the type of owner you get). Of course, there is the boredom we face that every conscious being feels which makes developing habits inevitable as we pass the time, so swapping chores is only fun for so long. The true awakening will be when we realise the artificial isn’t good enough, and yet we’ve whiped out the real thing. Future generations will know a world of pixels and nothing else. Shame.

This is a great house record, DJ Mehdi’s only LP Lucky Boy, released in 2011. Sad to report the main man died under a roof collapse of a hotel, not such a lucky boy it seems.

The Odious – Joint Ventures

Now here’s a skill music consumers finetune very quickly. It’s judging a book by its cover. You can just look at the record art and know what that music is like and that it’s not for you; uh uh, no way, look how generic that cover is, man, I’ve seen dozens of other records with the same cover man, and guess what they all sound the same!  Even though we’re in a time when cover art has been reduced to a couple inches in diameter, in the corner of your laptop, or in bumper sticker quality on the nowplaying screen of Spotify or whatever music player, the point is, if the art isn’t well-thought out, if it doesn’t stand out, if it fails to express the originality and quality of their recording, do you think the music will speak for itself? But maybe they’re not a visual band, maybe the ideas were pumped all into the music… and who cares, who can see it anyway? I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, serious music head, dropping band names like Pixies, Abbey Road, and we were swapping band names, exchanging quizzical looks, that sort of thing. Had I heard that name before? No idea, man. Then, in my mind’s eye an image appeared but I could not name it, but had to tell it! The riffs I knew, how long each song was, the guitar tone, the technicality, the singing! But not a name, only a red image, with arms, and eyes with trees. Blue babies. Wolf faces. Scarlet eyes.

This is The Odious’s debut LP Joint Ventures, dropped in 2012. Highly technical metal, probably one of the best of this decade to come. And it’s for free.

Material – Temporary Music

I’m reading Raymond Carver’s short story collection Elephant at the moment and he makes reality taste delicious. His is a great mimic of real life absurdity. But why do we like things that mimic real life, the reality we turned from? It’s the mix of how elegant the subtlety of the exaggeration used, for there is always a license present in storytelling, and how convincing its verisimilitude detail bares weight at reflecting the coincidental and surprising elements of everyday life. We like how real it seems and yet revel in its unreality. And there’s that narratorial pulling force that yanks or beguiles the reader through the story’s unfold which is so thrilling. People spend years floating adrift in their lives, facing head on the forgettable rinse of life. Having stories that capture what happens around us: stories that make the banal, menial, and everyday, into the unforgettable, to have the potential to turn into anything. What we as humans enjoy most is surprise. A universe unlike our own holds mystery and new laws. Anything is meant to be allowed to happen. In a universe like ours, known rules take effect, beliefs grasp hold, subversion transforms a known object or phenomena and we are left dazed in our waking dream of a reality we are wholly familiar with, and yet totally different.

This is the Temporary Music LP by the Bill Laswell project Material. Sooner or later I’ll start talking about the music but at the moment I have too many other things on my mind. 

The Masters Apprentice – Choice Cuts

A fog settled on Bath last night and I had to make the intrepid walk home alone at midnight. It’s strange what childhood stories affect you. An old nightmare of mine is there are people standing in the distance, hidden in the mist. They’re not following me, they’re already ahead of me, waiting. And it’s strange how convincing one’s mind can be.

A friend recounted to me recently of a dream where he was kicking a ball in the air and felt complete weightlessness. Float and kick, he said, float and kick. It’s amazing this conviction we have of our feelings in our dreams too, not just sensational, but emotional as well. I find our sensory palette is a lot sharper in dreams, it doesn’t have the noise of the concious mind  to hamper with too much query. We just want to float!

Many in their lifetimes will have at some point or another experienced lucid dreaming. To wake up mid-dream, and direct what happens next. Only limited by your imagination and life experiences submitted to your subconcsious as clay for dream manufaction, it’s like making glass sculptures out of the sand underneath your feet and in your ears. The wildly abstract and creative out of this supermundane of reality. Imagine if we could harness these lucid powers, induce ourselves at will… we are in agony when we leave these dreams, one more minute! If only.

Buddhism’s meditation techniques transport us from reality, true, but with such strigent self-examination we peel away selfhood to nothingness and forsakes the idea of us as creators. Nothingness imitates death. Born nameless, classless, colourless, moneyless, it’s the labels we’ve invented that we become. Maybe seeking understanding of our circumstances is justifiable. In Lucidity none of this matters, observing an environment we’ve created for ourselves requires no labels as we will innately already know what it is, for we put it there. There is an Internet of Things existant in our heads, and it is more satisfying than any artificial reality we can create with our hands.

This is the terrific Australian band The Masters Apprentices’s third LP Choice Cuts, dropped in 1971 after arriving in the UK, these ten tracks have an embarrassment of great riffs and is recommended to any purveyor of rock.

Miles Davies – Kind of Blue

I wouldn’t be listening to this tonight if the Spanish boyfriend of a Spanish housekeeper hadn’t of come into the bar today. He came in, and I could see he was taller than me, so I immediately stood up. Stood high, and leant an arm out on the bar; merely resting but really possessing. He then said Spanish names and I shook my head. No, this did not do. Then he said Bukowski, and Hemingway, and jazz and names flowed then like notes on an earthy sax because he said them slowly. The Spanish do that when they’re pronouncing English. Charlie Parker. Char Lee Parkur. Bill Evans, too. I shook his hand and didn’t meet him for a drink around eight at the Bell. I had homework to do.

This is Miles Davies with Bill Evans on piano on the big selling LP Kind of Blue. I first listened to Davies’ record Bitches Brew and found it akin to abstract painting. On first glance, impenetrable.