12/30/11

Asleep on the podcast heap

For better or for worse here it is, my first podcast, thirty minutes of me sitting alone in my room awkwardly talking to a laptop screen. Topics covered include...

This guy doing this stuff


The same guy doing this stuff


This supremely hypnotic and borderline frigthening thing (eccojam)


This blog

And This blog

Advance warning - there is a certain amount of popping microphone sound which I will endeavour to remove from future podcats (by putting the mic on a stand). If you can identify things that might be problematic in the sound and have fixes for said things, please let me know.

This is all very much a work in progress for me. If I continue to maintain the podcast I intend to improve its structure by including regular features, listener response sections, and guest slots. Because it is all so embryonic at the moment I would greatly appreciate your input, even if that only means a one word comment on what you think; for example, what you like/don't like/would change/would improve.

It was fun making this.

The podcast episode is available as an rss on this devoted tumblr (I'd love if you followed).

And here is the podcast MP3.

MP3: Asleep on the Compost Heap Podcast-Episode 1
The podcast RSS


















Props to Karl and Sean (my inspiration).

Bonus MP3s

MP3: Chuck Person-Eccojam A2
MP3: Ford and Lopatin-Channel Pressure
MP3: Oneohtrix Point Never-Sleep Dealer

12/20/11

Watch the Drone - My Favourite Tracks of 2011 part 2

I'm going to lash into these (you'll hopefully excuse the brevity as I am working on the podcast). Without further ado...

Ho Ho Howaryis kids

#5 Grimes - Vanessa
Claire Boucher's voice is weird. Weird like something out of an 80's horror film on VHS - the bit where a possessed little old lady's eyes turn electric white and she sings in a child's voice as contrails of ectoplasm whip past her face and chairs levitate. On earlier albums her weirdness was concentrate weirdness without additives, but on Vanessa it is dissolved through some lovely pulsing pop and the result is stunning.

MP3: Grimes-Vanessa

#4 Danny Daze - Your Everything
Last year my tracks of the year featured Axel Boman's Purple Drank, a clinically obese house track with a dissociated male vocal. Dissociated male vocals were all the rage in dance again this year, slurring over beats with a torpid nonchalance suggestive of chemical signals from the brain gaining traction in spinal fluid thick with animal tranquillisers. Your Everything is syrupy, funky, a bit out of its head, and impossible to resist.


#3 tUnEyArDs - Bizness
tUnEyArDs is one of the few distinctive talents to emerge from the post-Animal Collective detritus of hip bands who clatter stuff. Bizness is exhilarating song of some subtlety in that it manages to sound so spontaneous in spite of being precision engineered within an inch of its life, and to sound celebratory in spite of having a visceral lyric that paints a picture of a dysfunctional and codependent relationship.  

MP3: tUnEyArDs-Bizness

#2 Scuba - Adrenalin
Scuba opened up his sound this year to incorporate elements of 90s trance, a once sniffed-at genre of music that is now providing base materials for optimistic sounding techno from the likes of him and other heads such as The Field and Joy Orbison. Adrenalin is unashamedly skyward looking. This is simple, brilliantly executed music for seas of arms and upturned faces, transient euphoria and secular communion. It was the most played techno track on my iPod this year.



#1 Destroyer - Kaputt
M83 released a double album this year in which he tried to create a 'world' of sorts, an extension of the 80s teen scene tropes that flit in an out of his earlier work. In my opinion the album is a disaster, humourless, lumbering, and it gasps under its heaped stuffing of re-appropriated music (and po-faced concepts) like a sumo wrestler dying from a stroke. He should have looked to Dan Bejar to see how to create a far more convincing world with lighter brush strokes. Kaputt is a gleaming dream of a song that follows a protagonist into a bleary coked-up fantasy world that the listener suspects is for all its charms, like Tennyson's island of the lotos eaters, a hollow paradise. But what a lush and dreamy paradise.

MP3: Destroyer-Kaputt

For tracks 10-5 click here yall.

12/19/11

Proper Chrimbo

I heard Mariah Carey's Christmas song on the radio today (pre Bieber version) and it made me feel very Christmassy, or at least Christmassy enough to open a packet of lebkuchen. But here's the funny thing - I clearly remember watching that song on telly when it came out in 1994 and thinking to myself "all the new Christmas songs are shit; there'll never be a good one again". All I want for Christmas struck me as trying far too hard with that super eight footage ski-chalet video clip and its gratuitous use of sleigh bells. Yet now, I almost well up listening to it, and it's not just Mariah who has this effect; the Darkness and believe it or not even this ultra-crapulous Bo Selecta effort can make me feel a little festive.

Brian Harvey in happier days (aka before he ran over himself with his own car while his jacket potato dinner burned LOL)

I was thinking about all of this because there was a little piece in the Guardian today about the elements of a successful Christmas song, and the feature included talk of bells, modalities, singing in thirds, and such. But it seems to me that the major factor in a Christmas song's success is a simple rule from classical conditioning coupled with time. Pair a Christmas song (no matter how ropey it is) with enough good times over enough Christmases, and it will eventually work itself into a magical frosted memory bank, euphoric recollections rubbing off on it and imbuing it with charms far beyond those it has in isolation.

It's through this phenomenon that songs lacking any Christmas qualities whatsoever (such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'The Power of Love') have become yule classics that seem to exude the glittery essence of the season. One very specific and local example of this for me is Dexy's Midnight Runner's 'Come on Eileen'. This song is the eternal soundtrack to that strange tinselly dead-zone that was spent between Christmas Eve and New Years Day in the pubs around Kells down the years.

Every new Christmas song, then, will be a sad specimen at first, either underwhelming, or transparently kitted out with bells and choirs to cheaply invoke the season, or just plain shite. But theoretically none of these shortcomings can stop a Christmas song from succeeding. Provided it gets played intensely enough, and repeatedly enough, it will develop a life of its own, fattening itself on (and in) our memories until it becomes a standard like any other.

The Best (non) Christmas Song Ever

MP3: East 17-Stay Another Day

12/17/11

on year end lists

Music critics should be suspicious of consensus. When the same two or three indie-shmindie albums end up in year end top fives you can only wonder whether in fact these items objectively contain the best music of the year? Do writers who evangelise these albums really care that much about them or are they just following a trail of breadcrumbs dropped by noted tastemakers such as pitchfork?

That M83 album is as phoney as a nine bob note

How many music journalists and bloggers really care about music? How many even like music? I sometimes think music criticism is the broadest, shallowest ocean of meaningless hackery in all writing about the arts, full of the worst clichés, of the most half-baked opinions, of weasel words chosen with one eye on the general consensus; a motorway pile-up of tired adjectives followed by ratings close (but not too close) to Pitchfork's and others' scores.

We are all capable of forming original thoughts about objects offered up for our critical appraisal. They might not be blindingly insightful or in line with the status quo, but as long as they speak of one's individual reaction, then they are infinitely more useful to read than cowardly consensus. It's okay to experience intense dislike of an album that gets high scores all over the shop. In fact, a few honest words trying to figure out such dislike would make for an engaging critical read. It would go some way towards marking the writer out as an identifiable voice. And here's a thing about music journalism; there are countless writers, yet only a handful of voices.

MP3: Half Man Half Biscuit-Joy Division Oven Gloves

12/14/11

Game of Drones - My Favourite Tracks of 2011 part 1

Ah lookit, ye all came. So nice to see so many familiar faces; or it will be, as soon as our eyes adjust to the gloom. The smell? Oh that's only a common chemical reaction that happens when quicklime reacts with Justin Vernon's and Fleet Foxes' corpses.

Now, are we all sitting tight? I hope the cable-ties aren't too restrictive; I just can't have you all skipping off to Nialler 9's or Karl's sites. You see, what I share with you, my six or seven readers, is an exclusive relationship, and though I am a generous lover, I can get jealous. If that happens because ooh let's just say you mess around on other blogs, well that's when fingers start to disappear, and Christmas crackers are best pulled with a full set of fingers, amirite?

Now that we're all on the same page, let's begin. Here is the first part of a list of ten of my favourite songs from 2011. As usual, my techno tastes will be more evident throughout this list and my proclivity towards the experimental will show in the album list later in the week.

#10 Joe Goddard ft. Valentina - Gabriel


"This moomin this moomin this moomin oh woah stop"

For my money Joe Goddard's Gabriel single tops his work with Hot Chip (which can sometimes seem a bit sterile). It's a classically English sounding dance pop banger with a soulful vocal hook big enough to harpoon Moby Dick. I'm not sure how well it did in the charts (if they even count any more), but during the perfect summer this sort of shit would always be number one.

#9 Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Ffunny Ffrends

Have you any ffunny ffrends? I have three. Ffido the ffunny dog who always eats my mushrooms, Ffergus the ffuny ffrog who I sometimes lick ffor ffreaky ffrights, and Ffred the ffunny ffsychiatric nurse who looks after me. We all enjoy listening to this sick jam when watching cosmic cartoons on the hospital ceiling.

MP3: Unknown Mortal Orchestra-Ffunny Ffriends

#8 Nicolas Jaar - Space is Only Noise if You Can See

Nicolas Jaar's song might thumb its nose at the accepted model of physics, but strange goings on at CERN may yet shed light on the scientifically preposterous title and his exortation to 'wind your clock, baby wind your clock' (a lyric that makes a lot of practical sense on the last Sunday of March). In the meantime lets just appreciate the track for being one of the truly forward-looking pieces of music of 2011, its rippling cosmic soul pulsing towards a sophisticated new horizon in dance.


#7 The Last Days of 1984 - River's Edge

The Irish duo's first single is a stunner, a stirring swirl of Balearic euphoria with a strong vein of sadness running through it in the manner of so much great dance pop from the Pet Shop boys through New Order to all those great musicians on Sincerely Yours. Anyone who has danced in a space full of young people with the sun coming up will know that such moments are transient, and one of life's bittersweet truths is that as we age we spend exponentially more time looking back longingly on those moments than we spend experiencing them. This track communicates such truths.


#6 Lana Del Rey - Video Games

"Ooooh she's got fake lips" moaned half the internet. "Her Dad's in the music industry" bawled others. But why would you give a fuck? Seriously. If she was assembled from vulcanised rubber in an underground lab in North Korea would it still stop Video Games from shitting all over something like Fleet Foxes' crappy sophomore album from a height? No. No it would not.


Before I go, may I ask a little question; what would ye think of an asleep on the compost heap podcast? It wouldn't be anything groundbreaking, just me sharing some music and talking about about why it fascinates me. That would be to start with; I'm sure it would evolve if I maintained it. Let me know what ye think, yeah?

More tracks of the year will follow in a day or two.

12/13/11

Day 16 - your inspiration

I'm shunting the songs/albums of the year thingy back a day or two on account of becoming hypnotised by Skyrim on the Xbox (I'm a dual spell caster and after six hours of roaming around under the northern lights with two orbs of coloured energy crackling softly around my digitised hands, 'hypnotised' is frankly the only word that describes my torpid condition).

In the meantime here is something I wrote about the Arcade Fire for a magazine a while back. The mag was doing a piece on bands its reviewers don't 'get'.

For years now, I've tried to pin down what it is about this band that galls me so, but the answer always slips away, eel-like. It might be something to do with tortured lyrics about peeing the bed aged seven (which is what all Arcade Fire songs in are about in my head, okay?) that ring insincere when married to the monotonous exaggerated bombast of the band's music - a sort of Wagnerian indie march of the dead sung by a married duo who've obviously bonded deeply over their mutual need for a throat lozenge. 

Or maybe it is the onion-like layers of pretension that keep peeling away to reveal a dour, humourless, self-absorbed core. In fact, perhaps that's what really sticks in my craw, the humourlessness of the entire Arcade Fire endeavour - their scowling faux-Amish faces in every single photo-shoot they've ever done. To paraphrase '90s dance one hit wonder Snap, they are 'as serious as cancer', and listening to them, for me, is about as fun as getting diagnosed with it. The ginger bloke in the crash helmet seems alright though. He should join Architecture in Helsinki or something. Ah, getting that off the chest felt pretty good. Now, on to the National...

Some inspiration...

Ireland's oldest local paper dontcha know

An MP3

MP3: Andy Stott-Bad Wires

Andy Stott's two records of curdled demon-techno 'We Stay Together' and 'Passed Me By' are among the year's best, appearing to come from a similar Lovecraftian abyss to that which spawned his Modern Love labelmates Demdike Stare. I wonder if Modern Love owns some slime covered hole in the Yorkshire Moors from which these lads come crawling pallidly forth?

It's music that speaks to the part of my mind that sometimes wakes me up whispering dry chittering nonsense after dreams of dead spaces. The part of me that savours blackness and dread. 

Some bloke on Pitchfork described 'Bad Wires' as sounding like Surgeon played through a cubic metre of boiled wool. I'll go one step further and say it sounds like Shed played through a slow burning heap of blackened livestock corpses during a BSE scare.

12/11/11

Day 15 - Family picture

When Storkboy and I were very young we had corkscrew curls and looked like identical miniature Leo Sayers in matching dungarees - novelty children by any measure (and well used to stares). The curls disappeared by our fourth birthday because, according to our mother anyway, we stopped eating vegetables. The rest of our childhoods and teenage years were spent in an open revolt against the identity-crushing tyranny of matching outfits. 

Now that we're 30 and don't give a fiddler's about such things, our outfits have not only begun to match again, but look like the sort of shit we wore aged four (chinos and patterned jumpers). The circle of regression completes itself.

which is which?

MP3: Orbital-You Lot

I watched Terrence Malick's Tree of Life on DVD earlier today and found it very moving if a bit bobbins in places. Anyhow, when it got to the epic pan-out of stars forming, rotating galaxies, and the crinkly little dinosaur fetus, this cheeky Orbital track bubbled into my head. Instead of the momentous choral music, I imagined its druggy Manc-inflected commentary about DNA cut over the scene and had a little laugh to myself.

"Cheeky Bastids".

12/9/11

Day 14 - A fairytale

Rumpelstiltskin "in his rage drove his right foot so far into the ground that it sank in up to his waist; then in a passion he seized the left foot with both hands and tore himself in two".

The Brothers Grimm delivering the goods as usual.

After that day, Joanna Newsom never made another album

MP3: Darkside (Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington) - A1

Nicolas Jaar just frosted his 2011 cake with the slinky Darkside EP, a collaborative effort with the guitarist Dave Harrington. It's rather a gleaming object, this EP, a multifaceted hunk of slow funk that's reminiscent of Prins Thomas and Lindstrom. One might happily get through a lot of cocaine and durex with it playing on the stereo, if one were that way inclined.

In other news, business will return to the 'heap as usual from Monday with a yearly countdown of its favourite albums of 2k11. And in the off-chance that anyone enjoyed the interlude of scribbles, they will continue every other day or so until the meme has run its course. Also, if you want to see them in a larger format just click on them.

Thanks for all the comments you left in my absence you guys. It's good to be back.

12/8/11

day 13-a comic

Before pumpkin man was admitted to a psychiatric hospital covered in fecal matter, bleeding from both ears, and smelling of decomposed squash vegetable, he was an ordinary teenage boy. This is his origin story.

the long hours I spent on this storyboard will hopefully pay dividends as soon as I hear back from Pixar

MP3: Danny Brown-Die Like a Rockstar

It's a good rule of thumb that drug stories are as boring in the retelling as dreams, and people who always want to talk about the krazy shit they did when they were last high tend to be crashing bores anyway. Danny Brown gets away with it though. On his XXX album, he spends pretty much the bulk of it rapping about all the various forms of chemical crud he monsters like some kind of human Dyson, and never sounds anything less than riveting. Extraordinarily weird shit altogether. 

12/7/11

Day 12-a recent achievement

A recent achievement? Oh drawing challenge, your subtle mockery cuts sly and deep.

final fantasy III is genuinely shit hard on the Nintendo DS, okay? No really, it is.

MP3: Cosmin TRG-Amor Y Otros

This sequence of drawings is missing something, namely a banging techno donk. Amor Y Otros is the first track on Cosmin TRG's excellent Simulat album, a stop starty dub-techno thing with a huge dark pulse that needs, nay demands to be played at the sort of volume that attracts the guards to your front door.

12/4/11

Day 11-a turning point in your life

This one's a Freudian turning point in every child's life...

and for the rest of that day at 'Paul's House' not a single fuck was given

MP3: Chad VanGaalen-Sara

Chad VanGaalen's album from which the gorgeous song above is taken is called Diaper Island. I remember hearing the word diaper for the first time when I was small and finding out that it was the American for nappy. I thought it was the most gloriously stupid sounding word I ever heard and if I ever wanted to send myself into paroxysms of laughter I'd just say the words 'poopy diaper' out loud in a drawn out American accent. Oh fuck, I'm in paroxysms of laughter right now just thinking about it. Go on, say it. I know you want to. Just say it. 

Poopy diaper.

12/2/11

Day 10-Your Favourite Sweets

Bertie Bassett didn't always have a smiling friendly face you know. Before his modern incarnation, Bertie was this strange faceless thing...

it lives behind a mysterious door in the old sweet shop. it knows where the missing children are

MP3: Annie-Chewing Gum

How come Annie never made it huge? I'll tell you why. Because there's obviously something seriously fucking wrong with the world, is why.