ghost signal #6: the altar of innovation
electronica | jazz | psych | ambient | drone | modern classical
gnod – desire (00:00)
teeth of the sea – black strategy (06:42)
anenon – once (13:59)
follakzoid – earth (18:20)
earth – the dire and ever circling wolves (28:01)
marielle v jakobsons – the beginning is the end (35:42)
high plains – blood that ran the rapids (41:24)
secret pyramid – a dream on third (44:15)
ben lukas boysen – golden times 2 (50:33)
Some traditions have been with us so long that it seems blasphemous to even consider not to follow them – if such a consideration should even occur. The Christmas period is rife with them, a minefield of time honoured rituals that simply must be followed. And so, much like turkey for xmas dinner or arguing whether Die Hard qualifies as an xmas film, we must distill our years music listening into list form and parade it in front of other list makers who can barely hide their boredom at reading Yet Another List.
Episode two – in which our hero contends with the realisation that Bad Guys frontman Stuart is his partially long haired doppleganger, and that perhaps he’s not the glistening adononis he imagines himself to be:
Y’know I still can’t quite get my head around the idea of music videos existing without actual music channels to play them. I know there are still technically such channels around, all with names like 90s teen girl magazines that play the same 3 videos in rotation (so far as I can tell there are only 3 videos shared by all the latest pop hits). But it’s not like it was Back In The Day when MTV stood for music television and if you sat and watched patiently for several hours you might see a decent video, is it? Those were the days. Or what about the heyday of MTV 2 where if you waited until 2am and were willing to watch 8 or 9 videos of identikit glitchy electronica you could see a few videos by semi-decent indie bands, eh? Good times. Now in this god forsaken age you can just type in what you want into an internet searchamajig and there it is. Blam: Bad Guys are singing about prostitutes right into your eyeballs. It all still seems like voodoo to me. But then I didn’t have access to the internet until I was 20 – I had to go round my mates and run up his phone bill on dial up waiting 2 hours to download the new Offspring single on Napster.
And they call this progress.
Ok, so maybe it’s not quite the stories of hardship my old man tells me about his tough Northern upbringing in the 60s. Yet I still get the feeling that when I try to explain this to my kids one day they’ll look at me the same way I did him when he told tales about hiking 7 miles in the snow to school.
Anyhow, in the absence of any kind of curated content (I’m ignoring the million or so curators on youtube; who would trust the kind of myopic psychopath who spends his time compiling internet videos?) I tend to careen sideways into music vids every now and again and go, “ooh, that’s quite good, isn’t it?” And then I put together this, the latest installment of the seemingly annual series Wanton Miscellany, in which I present some of these videos that I’ve stumbled over like a drunk idiot struggling to navigate the living room in the dark at 2am falling onto an upturned plug and screaming like he’s taken a hot knife to the liver.
That was a rough night.
Part 10 of a 13 song recap of my 2013 in no particular order
This one may be cheating slightly – I believe it originally got released on Chaudelande Vol. 1 back in 2011, but 2013 saw the whole of Chaudelande available for the first time on CD. And, more importantly for a poor boy like me, it was the first time it appeared on spotify. It was the first time I’d ever really listened to Gnod on their own (I liked the record they did with White Hills back in 2011, but it’s hard to tell who is who on that). So 2013 was the first time I got properly equated with the willfully mysterious entity that calls itself Gnod.
As every music lover knows some songs become inexorably tied with moments, with people, with events. It doesn’t matter whether you want them to or not – sometimes the context in which you hear something for the first or fiftieth time becomes your abiding memory of it, the thing that causes you to keep coming back to a song years after you’ve got tired of it’s style of music or the thing that makes listening to it too hard to bear because of the memories it conjures. Similarly some songs become attached to a particular journey, whether a one off or a repeated commute. For me pretty much the entirety of Mono and Explosions in the Sky’s respective back catalogues bring back memories of the train journey between Barnsley and Huddesfield that I used to take every day whilst at university. I can’t listen to the crescendo at the end of EITS’ Memorial without having flashbacks of sitting on the train home one winter’s evening when the power went out temporarily leaving us careening over the Penistone viaduct in pitch darkness. The journey Tron has become tied up with in my memory is a little more prosaic than that: for me it will forever be associated with the memory of walking from the train station post work commute to the neurological rehabilitation hospital in Barnsley to visit my mother.
It was the height of summer. Places like Barnsley really don’t need a summer – the daylight only emphasises how ugly those twisted gray streets can be. I’d take a shortcut by the vehicle entrance to the market, a grim corridor full of puddles of drunk piss and bad graffiti shaded by the ramp to the car park above. It wasn’t the nicest or most picturesque walk a man can take, neither for the surroundings nor the destination. But sometimes when the sun beats down and the right song travels through your ears down to your heels any song can make you feel so vital and alive that no amount of vomit and leftover kebab can possibly dampen the mood.
On that walk the bookend tracks from Gnod’s Chaudelande did exactly that. Of the two Tron is my choice for the list partly due to comparative brevity – despite being made up of around 10 minutes of relentless psych rock guitar strafing it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome at all, whereas album ender Genocider perhaps doesn’t need the full nigh on 20 minutes it takes up. The other reason is that whilst Tron’s rolling drums may not sound martial they were certainly made for marching – it’s carried along by an incessant pounding groove that imbues every step with purpose. The vocals are typical reverb/delay heavy psych nonsense, but nothing else would really do amidst the maelstrom. There’s no point trying to be profound or poetic amidst this chaos – better to let the vocals swirl with the guitars. And then there’s that riff. It’s one of those simple little guitar lines wrapped up in more fuzz than an old English sheepdog and repeated until it’s bored it’s way into your skull to be forever lodged in your mind. And that’s pretty much it – there are no huge solos, no real psych wig outs to speak of. Every now and again there’s a crazed alternate riff that could be considered a ‘chorus’ of sorts, but apart from that it’s just that endless, driving riff. It carried me from train station to hospital on a number of days I’d much rather have just laid down on the pavement and waited for the street sweepers to take me away, and for that it’ll always have a special place in my heart.