Switchflicker, 2000. SWALF1
This is a rather mysterious 7″. Mark E Smith is of course the man behind The Fall, so not mysterious at all, but that seems to be all that’s straightforward about this release. Mild Man Jan appears on several V/VM albums, and is, I suspect, one of V/VM’s founder James Leyland Kirby’s aliases. According to Wikipedia he lives in Stockport, so there’s a distinct possibility they know each other.
The music is downtempo electronica, not the assault on the eardrums Kirby usually produces. Fistful Of Credits has, as expected MES on vocals, but the B side, Skin Deep which is credited to “My Mate Mark” isn’t, as you’d expect, MES again, but a woman who sounds very much like Martina Topley-Bird who sang on Tricky’s Black Steel, but it seems unlikely it really is her.
I can’t tell you much else. It’s on pink vinyl and is really very good, but that’s about it.
Postscript: Well, the knowledgeable people over at The Fall Online have filled me in on some of the background to this. It turns out Mild Man Jan is a guy called Spencer Marsden, and that the A side of this single is available on the Fall compilation A Past Gone Mad.
1998 Lo Recordings, LCD11x
An interesting project from Sonic Youth guitarist, Thurston Moore. He created 25 one minute improvised guitar pieces and sent them to 100 artists (in hoover bags). They were instructed to remix them or create an accompanying artwork. The outcomes of the project were this CD and an exhibition which included work from the likes of David Bowie and Gavin Turk. Always a sucker for this sort of thing, I bought the limited edition version in a hoover bag.
A good idea isn’t enough though; this sort of thing sinks or swims on the quality of the results, and here the quality is consistently excellent, with some surprisingly big names (Blur for example) delivering some pretty off-the-wall remixes. The rest is an impressive list of the credible end of independent music making in the late 90s; Moore’s address book is impeccable.
My favourite is the first track, remixed by the late, great guitar improv meistro Derek Bailey – a glorious cacophany of sound accompanied by a stylised technical description of harmonics. I have no idea who “Cheap Glue” are, but their effort is really excellent, based on a looped voice sample of a guy describing getting attacked in a pub, which develops into a surprisingly funky track. Add N to (X) and Stereolab are both predictable but in a good way. Really though, the album is very consistent, providing you can tolerate the odd ear bleed moments from the likes of V/VM and Merzbow.
As for further listening, where do you start with Thurston Moore? My favourite Sonic Youth albums are Evol and Sister, although you might prefer Daydream Nation if you’d rather listen to something more conventionally rock ‘n’ roll. He has a new band, Chelsea Light Moving. If the free downloads are anything to go by, the new album should be interesting.
1 “Untitled” w/ Derek Bailey – (1:07)
2 “Keep Trying the Old Number” w/ Alec Empire – (4:58)
3 “Untitled” w/ Mogwai – (1:12)
4 “Moore Shit” w/ Luke Vibert – (4:50)
5 “Untitled” w/ Donald Christie & The Underdog – (1:38)
6 “101%” w/ Blur – (5:54)
7 “Untitled” w/ Mark Webber – (2:28)
8 “Untitled” w/ Stereolab – (3:42)
9 “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” w/ Cheap Glue – (2:11)
10 “Untitled” w/ Add N to (X) – (2:55)
11 “Untitled” w/ Spring Heel Jack – (5:16)
12 “Hard as Fuck ’97” w/ The Hypnotist – (0:37)
13 “Your Love” w/ The Mellowtrons – (2:01)
14 “Roots” w/ Warren Defever – (4:01)
15 “Untitled” w/ V/Vm – (2:34)
16 “Untitled” w/ The Third Eye Foundation – (4:09)
17 “No. 11” w/ David Cunningham – (1:57)
18 “Needled” w/ Echo Park – (3:33)
19 “National Enhancer” w/ Merzbow – (3:44)
20 “Super” w/ Richard Thomas – (5:48)
21 “Untitled” w/ Stock, Hausen and Walkman – (4:10)
22 “Kleen” w/ Twisted Science vs Burzootie – (2:40)
23 “Scion” w/ Bruce Gilbert – (3:15)
24 “Untitled” w/ Arashi vs The Red King (2:37)
25 “Chew on This” w/ Russell Haswell -(1:02)
I bought this on a whim for a couple of quid in the Notting Hill Music Exchange. Rarely has such a small amount of money given me so much pleasure. It’s The Caretaker’s second album and it came out in 2001
The Caretaker project was inspired by the ballroom scene in The Shining. It uses samples from forgotten ballroom music of the 30s and 40s to create a really powerful sense of place. The samples are very prominent in the mix and are gently manipulated to make them sound as though they’re leaking through from another dimension. The sense of wandering around an abandoned and decaying ballroom is very real and very spooky.
Rich though this seam of ideas is, The Caretaker eventually moved on to other territory – there’s only so much you can do with ballrooms!
Have a look at VVM’s bandcamp site for more, and the odd free download.