The final chapter was always going to be the hardest. One choice from every collection of music ever to have graced my ears.
In the end it was settled by trawling the heady highs and uncharted lows of my personal collection, with one piece standing head-and-shoulders above the rest.
David Bowie’s 1972 masterpiece, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’.
From start to finish each track rings with iconic familiarity. The guitars buzz with authenticity; the echo-laden vocals haunt each track; the piano chimes the highs; and all the while the bass and drums roll along with steadfast integrity.
Of the innumerable qualities this record can proudly boast, what stands out to me is how effortlessly the most separate pieces are bound together to create a singular piece of musical magic.
The fourth instalment in my odyssey for musical stimulus leads us back to the beginning of a career that may have gone somewhat wayward in recent years.
Weezer have since become a somewhat polished outfit - complete with ironic moustaches and stetsons to match - yet back in their infancy they were an act of understated image and immeasurable potential.
Almost two decades on and ‘The Blue Album’ still proves a fitting testament to the value of a strong melody. Furthermore, it shows that if you can fit five or six of these melodies into each song, you just might have an album that stays with people forever.
It would be impossible to collate any series of influences personal to myself without the mention of Brian Eno.
The diversity of the body of work he has lent his name to across the decades paints a daunting picture, though for myself and many others picking one from his many albums requires little thought at all.
Another Green World.
An uncharacteristically succinct album, with no track clocking in at any longer than 4 minutes, yet across the way it typifies everything a musician should strive for. Sparse loops and drones melt seamlessly into bright, tight structured pop songs, and just as quickly a soaring lift of ambience enters and once more there are no words, just whatever sound fits the space perfectly.
Today’s offering is a somewhat more discreet collection, coming from an album I recall buying in a fit of fervent excitement over a decade ago.
Beck’s 2002 offering ‘Sea Change’ was a far cry from its funk-infused predecessor ‘Midnite Vultures’, yet such an unexpected shift in genre was precisely what fans had come to expect.
Lead single ‘Lost Cause’ proves the highlight in an album of wonderful subtlety and contemplation.
The perfect album to emphasise the importance of the smallest detail.
This weekend will once more see us heading into the studio to begin our next record.
Right now the ideas are simply sketches of what we hope will become a masterpiece.
To get myself in the mood I’m searching out inspiration old and new this week, beginning with the new album from Factory Floor.
Imagine hearing Kraftwerk for the first time… that good.
For some of us the hum and thud of an insect trapped on the inside of a window might signal the onset of summer - though for many it provokes a more hostile response, ending most commonly with the death of a creature gone astray. What I would ask in future instances is that you unfurl yesterday’s newspaper and consider the consequences of your actions.
For almost a decade bee populations have been in rapid decline, with many losing up to 1/3 of their numbers each year. A famous quote (somewhat dubiously attributed to Albert Einstein of all people) suggests that if bees were to die out, then mankind would follow them within four years, such is the extent of their contribution towards many of the ecosystems we have come to rely upon. They pollinate our fields, gardens and farms, maintaining the world we love and providing us with the food we need to survive. Seeded fruits are reliant on frequent visits from bees and other winged insects alike to help them sweeten and ripen, plus the crops that feed our livestock are pollinated by bees. The world we know rests upon their tiny shoulders, so perhaps we should be doing more to ensure they remain a big part of it.
Bees are most active during the summer months, and if they expend too much energy then, just like us, they may need a rest. Many are mistakenly presumed dead, when in reality they may just have become too tired to continue about their daily toils.
I had the good fortune to find such an occurrence had taken place within my own home, and the bee was equally as fortunate that I had recently come across some sage advice on what to do in such an instance.
The above video is a condensed documentation of a morning spent observing the recuperative benefits of a simple mixture of sugar and water. The sweet elixir provides the bees with enough energy to continue their duties and return to the hive.
So I ask that if you find a bee in your home, aid it’s bid for freedom in whatever way you can - but be careful when doing so, however, for although bees cannot see red, they get as angry as anybody would if you stopped them from saving the world.
Friday June 7th marks a special day for us indeed!
We return to Sheffield for a headline show at Queens Social Club with a new record in tow.
The EP is titled Cloud, Castle, _____ and will be available to purchase at the show (and online too!)
To help us celebrate this momentous occasion we have invited a host of friends to join us, click their names to sample their delights…
Advance tickets cost £5 and are available by CLICKING HERE
See you there!!
If the big fat yellow thing in the sky was to burn out I would take you by the hand and float off into orbit (a song for Robert Wyatt)
B is for Berlin
Love + hat (a tattoo on the knuckle)
A marigold (Calendula officinalis)
The origin of communication holds as much mystery as the birth of the Universe itself. Both are at the mercy of speculation and theoretical suppositions, yet without a means to witness first-hand their inception, neither can be definitively explained. The trouble is that, despite both the concept of existence and widespread communication being theoretically improbable to the point of absurdity, both exist and therefore must be defined and elucidated within the boundaries of our accepted logical framework.
The Big Bang is one theory of how the Universe came to exist, and a similar concept was equally proposed as the catalyst for structured language, in that it was not gradually developed, but instead emerged rapidly. The line of reasoning behind this proposal is relatively simple - either a species is capable of complex cognitive thought, or it is not. The innate ability to quantify is an example of how the human mind sculpted its own demand for expressive language through necessity.
If N is any number, then N+1 is an infinite equation limited only by the means to express its product.
Logically this theory cannot be disputed, and it gives further credence to the notion that all language exists in a complex and ever-adaptive state. Though what it does not propose is how this potential evolved into a fully realised and widely acknowledged form of communication.
It is suggested in some disciplines that complex communication was developed through social interaction and learned behaviour, while others believe it to be a product of a genetic distortion spread through breeding which caused a portion of the species to advance dramatically.
Aside from the debate over how this advancement emerged, equally baffling is the notion of how it was perpetuated. As with any new tool or working practice, the benefit of using it over the existing model must deliver a measurable degree of reward. Observations of modern-day species which show the capability of basic communication reinforce this notion through their negative application of the rule. They will use standardly accepted expressions (eg. a cry of pain) outside of the appropriate context to trick other creatures into coming to their assistance, only to use the opportunity to raid their unguarded food-source. In doing this they curtail the potential for advanced communication by undermining the most vital ingredient - a belief in the accuracy of the delivered information. Be it a sound or a complex sentence, neither holds value if the recipient is untrusting of their own interpretation.
The benefit of deception is plain to see in the short-term, yet somehow this barrier had to be overcome for communication to have developed to the degree we see today. One theory is that an overwhelming wave of altruism must have run throughout the vast majority of exchanges, where the understanding of the delivered message became the overriding reward. Another suggests that it is our natural predisposition towards song as a species that enabled us to embrace the varied and expressive nature of vocal communication, with its value not playing a significant role until much later in the process of development.
Whatever the reason for it coming to be, what we can agree on definitively is that our world cannot function without communication.
Everything that we know to exist has a name, and anything new that comes into being must be given one so that we can effectively communicate this to other people. All existing words carry their own contextual implications, so that we can understand what it is we are presented with.
On April 6th 2013 our brief sojourn into the welcome warmth of studio life shall come to an end. Touring life beckons, and we shall answer with vigour.
With a new year comes new instruments, and with new instruments, new songs. In the not-too-distant future a new release will follow, but for now we welcome you to sample our fresh ideas in the flesh.
Wooden Shjips - down by the sea
Kimbra - Settle down (live SXSW - spotify session)
CAN - Vitamin C
Judy Henske and Jerry Yester - Snowblind
Factory Floor - lying
Link Wray - Fire and brimstone
Grateful Dead - Dark star
Clark - Ted
The Who - Baba o’riley
Four Tet - Ribbons
Philip Glass - The light
~ LK ~
Tunes floating my boat in the deluge
Scott Walker - epizootics
Kendrick Lamar - back seat freestyle
Nathan Fake - the sky was pink
Com Truise - sundriped
Frank Zappa - willy the pimp
Boards of Canada - everything you do is a balloon
Fiona Apple - every single night
Luke Vibert - I love acid
Hughes Aufray - la blanche caravelle
Earth is currently home to upwards of 7,000,000,000 people.
If we were to take this round figure as a template for the sake of simplified mathematics, then in my estimations, approximately 1/70,000th of 1% of the entire populace of the planet have actively purchased our music. We would have to sell somewhere in the region of 4,000 albums a day for 50 years to reach just 1% of the world.
Official statistics estimate that Michael Jackson’s Thriller (the highest selling album in history) has sold somewhere between 70 and 120 million copies, and counting. This would mean that only around 1.7% of the world legitimately own what would appear to be the most popular collection of music available for mass consumption.
With this in mind I would now like to formally answer the question ‘do we think we are popular enough to release an extended version of our album?’
No, I don’t.
And from the figures above I might even question Michael Jackson’s right to do so too - but this has never been about popularity. You would have to be dangerously insane to believe we think our album has done so well it deserves a re-release.
The extension of the record is our personal take on music piracy. We contemplated hosting a Metallica-esque press conference where we might endlessly list the reasons why stealing music is bad, but that sounded boring. Instead we saw that a Google search of our name returned as many torrent sites as it did live reviews, so we opted to release the album early.
The September release allowed the legitimate music buyers to hear the same record their peg-legged, parrot-toting neighbours had downloaded the week previous (yes, that is what you look like if you steal music).
But that still left us with an official November date to fill.
Despite some rather convincing arguments in favour of self-congratulatory back-slapping and thumb-twiddling, we opted to return to the studio and record some more adventurous versions of the tracks on the album.
Retaining only the initial melody, all parts were stripped and reassembled to make new songs with familiar words.
The re-packaging comes complete with lyric book, extended liner notes and individually wrapped tie-dye covers.
A typical adult human body contains 206 bones.
Aside from giving structure to our bodies, they also offer protection by encasing our vital organs. Just as the skeleton cannot remain intact without the soft tissue around it, our ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles are incapable of movement without the internal template of our bones to dictate their limits and offer a foundation.
There are no records of a single human being having definitively broken every bone in their body. It would be logical to presume the trauma of such an occurrence would make it impossible for the subject to live beyond this. To even conceive how you might break some of the smaller bones in a singular incident of significant force to break the larger ones too would almost certainly leave few remains that bore any resemblance to a human being.
Thankfully, the ladies and gentlemen whose osseous matter has been documented and collated for our latest release were not nearly so unfortunate. Nevertheless, these are indeed genuine X-Rays of the human body.
A limited run of 37 are available, then there will be no more.
Indulge your radiological fantasies by clicking here