As a long-time fan of Oneohtrix Point Never, I was disheartened that his last album Garden Of Delete was so difficult to love. It was a bloody-minded record, daring us to enjoy a dense, arhythmical odyssey, all the while knowing that it was essentially impenetrable. Thankfully, the follow-up is almost a complete U-turn, rippling with beautiful broken vocoder pop, lush electronics and a starring role for the harpsichord. It’s as bold as it is unorthodox, a breath-taking revision of electronic music and modern composition. It proves that true originality and innovation need not repel, but can instead deliver a warm embrace, and reassure us that this Age Of… whatever is going to work out just fine.
On Thursday 24 May, I’ll be at Semi Permanent on the ‘Future Of Music’ panel. It’s part of the event’s ‘Future State’ series which cover “everything from realistic expectations to imaginative speculations, across three cultural pillars: Sport, Music and Food”.
I’m on the panel with musician Dan Stricker and Danielle Krettek, the Founder and Principal of Google’s Empathy Lab, which was established to “design more emotionally-attuned and human-kind experiences” (which sounds like a great concept).
Come and hear me make some semi-educated guesses about what the future holds. My money is on zero-gravity raves and inter-species thought transference.
Marks Of Provenance II is the second annual compilation from my label, Provenance, and features nine exclusive, unreleased tracks from Aphir, KAIAR, Medicine Voice, Arrom, Lortica, Kris Keogh, Shoeb Ahmad and Brute Canon.
It was originally released on Bandcamp at the tail end of 2017; but this week finds itself newly nestled in every other music service; the Spotifys and Apples of the world. Stream or download this cherry of a pie:
VARIOUS Marks Of Provenance II (PR014)
1 – Arrom ‘Now Won’
2 – Medicine Voice ‘January’
3 – Kris Keogh ‘Stolen’
4 – Brute Canon ‘Help Me Remember You’
5 – KAIAR ‘Mind Full’
6 – Aphir ‘Asymptote’
7 – Shoeb Ahmad ’Skating On The Way’
8 – Lortica ‘Home Blue’
9 – KAIAR ‘Praey’
This music recommendation is from close to home – the latest release from my Provenance label. It comes from Melbourne producer Arrom, and is a collection of reworks from her debut album Take My Lymphs. Each new variation draws on the experimental pop, ethereal choral vocals and dark, organic electronics of the original album, and moves it, with a great fluidity, into new spaces. It’s a miscellany of avant electronics – dark pop, abstract, minimal and even a momentary slice of breakcore.
Take My Lymphs Remixes also acts a love letter both to and from five contributors who were involved in the creation and release of the original album. Artist include Provenance label mates Aphir and KAIAR, along with co-writer Ahm, experimental house producer Hypersleep, and Yet Variant, who plays synth and percussion in Arrom’s live band. In addition, Arrom delivers her own re-work of the album’s opening track, Stardust.
To celebrate the release of her new EP, she has also curated the Provenance Spotify playlist this month, which features music from Bjork, Kiasmos, Andy Stott, Mazzy Star, Burial and more. It is a thing of great beauty, one that persists. Listen here.
I was at WOMADelaide last weekend, interviewing a few artists for upcoming episodes of Fat Planet. Over 500 different acts – featuring musicians from 30 countries – were represented at the festival, delivering sounds from disparate places such as Ghana, Syria, Cameroon, Iceland and China.
Photo: Jojo Abot at WOMADelaide
The wonderful Amanda Kaye had a wonderful idea to create a series of imaginary albums, culled from the creative wellspring of Blue Mountains writers and artists and exhibited at the exquisite Platform Gallery at Katoomba.
“These imaginary albums are the missed opportunities, the albums we wish existed. They are the uncanny cultural signifiers of our collective vinyl-addled fancies,” says Amanda. “Each imaginary album begins with the writer, who crafts the story of the work. Sometimes using a real artist and sometimes inventing musos from the ground up, the writer invents the tracks and the back-story, before passing the creative baton to the graphic designer or artist, who designs the cover art. The work you’ll see in the gallery will be the album covers and sleeve notes developed from this process”.
I’m thrilled that Amanda asked me to contribute, and my imaginary album, “Three Phase Peace” by Yoko Ono, Delia Derbyshire and Else Marie Pade, has been wrenched into visual reality by painter Ben Tankard. See his stunning cover art (featured above) and my accompanying sleeve notes at the exhibition, which opens this Friday and runs until 9 April 2018. Find out more about the exhibition at imaginaryalbums.rocks
As one of the artists anointed by David Lynch to provide music for the recent #TwinPeaks series, Johnny Jewel wrote a number of works for the score and played with his band Chromatics in two episodes. He also runs the Italians Do It Better label, home to similar strains of cinematic electronics, slow-mo disco and records full of aching electro love songs. I think you can tell I’m a fan. Just as Twin Peaks S3 was described as ‘mainlining pure Lynch’, this record is 100% pure Johnny Jewel, bringing his full bag of tricks to bear on a pulsing electronic soundtrack to an imaginary film. Continue reading “NEW MUSIC. Johnny Jewel ‘Digital Rain’”
‘Nightclubbing’ is this week’s Classic Album on Double J and I’m using it as a jumping off point to play a couple of other Grace Jones tracks on this week’s Fat Planet. The album was one of three that Grace recorded between 1980 and 1982 with the studio band The Compass Point All Stars, led by Sly & Robbie. Between this record, ‘Warm Leatherette’ and ‘Living My Life’, Grace delivers exquisite takes on post-punk and electro pop songs of the era, including covers of Iggy Pop, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Smokey Robinson, Joy Division and Gary Numan. Continue reading “BACK CATALOGUE. Grace Jones ‘Nightclubbing’”
Jóhann Jóhannsson’s solo album ‘Orphee’ was one of my most played records last year; a beautiful suite of works that soundtracked quiet moments at home; contemplative moments staring out of train windows, and moments of much-needed respite on cross-city excursions. It’s heartbreaking to hear of his passing, as he was an artist with so much more to give; although actively making music for 15 years, he was clearly in the middle of an incredible creative stride. Continue reading “BACK CATALOGUE. Jóhann Jóhannsson ‘Orphee’”
I love the cover artwork on this reissued 1980 Japanese cosmic dub from producer and percussionist Pecker (aka Masahito Hashida) titled ‘Pecker Power’. The album features dub heavyweights Sly & Robbie and Augustus Pablo along with members of The Wailers and vocalist Minako Yoshida. Given the players, it’s a curious take on classic dub from the era, with two Japanese Bob Marley covers thrown into the mix. Continue reading “BACK CATALOGUE. Pecker ‘Pecker Power’”
Last April I started a new playlist on Spotify – ‘Degrees Of Provenance’’ – music that has inspired the artist on my record label, Provenance. Since then, the playlist has been constantly morphing, with a different member of the Provenance family curating the playlist each month (currently featuring selections by Medicine Voice). Continue reading “BACK CATALOGUE. Degrees Of Provenance Playlist”
Fat Planet is finishing 2017 in fine style this week, running through our Albums Of The Year. Getting them to fit in one program has been a herculean task, and the final contenders represent some of most innovative and original tracks being made around the world this year. Listen to tracks from each of these outstanding international albums on this week’s program and via the Spotify playlist below. See you in 2018!
FAT PLANET ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
(in alphabetical order…) Continue reading “NEW MUSIC. From Japan to Jamaica, India to Iceland – The Fat Planet Albums Of 2017”
Other than ‘Games Without Frontiers’, the only thing I knew about Peter Gabriel’s early work was that his album covers were weird and bizarre. The covers of his first four albums all seem to riff off 70s and 80s horror tropes – all disconnected, indistinct faces in one form or another. I’ve only recently started listening to these records, appreciating them for something other than the artwork. Continue reading “BACK CATALOGUE. Peter Gabriel ‘Melt’”
Björk’s latest album Utopia is a collaboration between the Icelandic artist and Venezuelan producer Alejandro Ghersi, also known as Arca. All of the 14 album tracks are credited solely to Björk and Ghersi, with one exception: the track ‘Features Creatures’ has a writing credit for Australian artist Sarah Hopkins.
Hopkins is a Queensland-based composer-performer, most well known for her work Past Life Melodies.
Björk’s voluminous catalogue contains thousands of curios for playlist fanatics. I am one those fanatics, an obsessive Bjork collector, endlessly shuffling my thirty-year compendium of Bjork-related tracks into various combinations, or stacking my complete collection of physical releases into increasingly idiosyncratic order.
In doing so, I know only too well that her discography can be sequenced in such a way to make any argument whatsoever about her work as a composer and producer. Bjork as studio genius, classical composer, dancefloor junkie, folk singer, remix devotee.
To celebrate the release of Utopia, I’ve created a unique Björk playlist, one that takes an intentionally subjective slice though her career.
When the good people at Double J asked me if I was interested in interviewing Björk, I thought they were having a laugh. The dismissive flick I gave them soon turned into a week of abject anxiety when it turned out they were for real. Last Friday, I got on the phone to Björk in Reykjavik and spoke to her for 30 minutes about Utopia, love and slapstick comedy. And you can hear that interview this Wednesday, 29 November, on Double J from 8pm AEST. Continue reading “INTERVIEW. On the phone with Björk: talking Utopia, Tinder and slapstick comedy”
With a bevy of great festival announcements in the past week from Woodford, MOFO and Womadelaide, it can be hard to wade through all the names to find the hidden gems – but I’ve got you covered.
From a Japanese loop pedal ninja to the Tunisian Björk, there’s a wealth of global music talent on this summer’s festival lineups. Continue reading “NEW MUSIC. Fat Planet’s guide to the summer festival announcements”
In this episode of Fat Planet, I talk to violinist, vocalist and producer Sudan Archives about the journey of discovery that led to her unique blend of African classical sounds, cutting-edge R&B and freewheeling electronics. We also hear an unreleased live recording of her Kendrick Lamar cover, ‘Queen Kunta’. Her debut self-titled EP is out now via Stones Throw. Continue reading “INTERVIEW. A chat with Sudan Archives, merging African classical with cutting-edge production”
Earlier this month, it was reported that there were no Australian artists in the local top 20 singles chart. In the same week, 70 percent of the US Billboard Chart was populated by American artists.
Now, compare that to Japan, the second biggest music market in the world, where 98 percent of all singles, and 76 percent of all albums, are sold are by Japanese artists. In an environment where physical sales are dwindling, Japan still has more record stores than any other country in the world, three times as many as the US.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all about J-Pop, you only need to look listen to those in easy reach to understand there’s something special going on. We’re lucky that Cornelius, Shonen Knife and DJ Krush all managed to extend their reach across the waters, along with their predecessors like Acid Mothers Temple, Boredoms and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Continue reading “NEW MUSIC. Japan is the second biggest music market in the world, it’s time we took notice”
This week on the Double J website, I spin through a few recent standouts from the Fat Planet program, from punk junk out of the Congo to retro sci-fi from Mumbai. Discover music from Kokoko (Democratic Republic of Congo), Combo Chimbita (Colombia / U.S.), Sid Vashi (India), The Heliocentrics (England / Slovakia) and Diron Animal (Angola).
‘O Superman’ seemed to come at the right time in my life. As a kid, I had just started to understand that music needn’t be guitar, bass, drums and was excitably tuned in to anything with an otherworldly flavour. It was the time of Star Wars and Doctor Who’s golden age, so perhaps that’s no surprise.
‘Big Science’ is Laurie’s debut proper with this wonderful cover shot of an artist caught in the headlights. The photo was taken during one of her performance pieces by video producer Greg Shifrin. It wasn’t intended for an album cover, it was apparently taken by happenstance, grainy and out of focus.