Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Every year the month of December sees many of us struggle to survive the gift-buying frenzy and glut of ‚hearty‘ parties thrown our way. That’s why it can be important to take a break every once in a while and treat the most important person in your life: you. And, what better way to do this than by checking out some of the stunning new music sitting fresh and eager on the nation’s record stores‘ shelves? By JOHN BITTLES
This week I will be reviewing some great new records which are certain to raise more Christmas cheer than buying your father yet another pair of novelty socks. We have a fab new live album from New Order, a stellar collection of post-punk tunes from Cherry Red, the club destroying grooves of DJ Pierre and DVS1, the glacial electro throb of Aleksi Perälä, a sublime new mixtape from Sampa The Great, and tons more.
So, put on your winter woollies, get yourself a glass of glühwein, and let us begin…
While most people think of disco, punk or the glitter ridden extravagance of glam rock when they reminisce about the 1970s, the end of the decade also saw the refinement of a series of musical movements which later came to be labelled ‚post punk‘. This month the good people at Cherry Red Records release a five disc compendium of some of the best music released during this time. To The Outside Of Everything – A Story Of UK Post-Punk 1977-1982 is out now and contains tracks by alternative heavyweights such as Joy Division, PiL, Wire, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Fall, Throbbing Gristle and more. Named after a lyric from Magazine’s Shot By Both Sides, To The Outside Of Everything is at its best when unearthing little-known gems. For instance China’s Eternal by The Tights is a perfect marriage of new wave romanticism and punk rock snarl, The Raincoat’s Fairytale In The Supermarket is a loose rebel rouser, The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 1 by Human League is a fantastic slice of early electronica, and The Slits‚ Typical Girls skilfully pairs reggae riffs with urban bite. Go buy! 9/10.
Two years ago the album Music Complete saw Manchester band New Order triumphantly return to peak form. Full of catchy dance floor grooves, surging melodies and vocalist Bernard Sumner in fine voice throughout, it was the group’s most enjoyable full-length in a mighty long time. The accompanying tour showcased a band revitalised, giving each show a celebratory tone. NOMC15 was recorded during the second of their sold out Brixton Academy gigs, and bucks the trend of recent live albums by being pretty great. After a slow build up, the album kicks off properly with the driving pulse of Singularity and an ecstatic sounding Ceremony. From here, the set features classics such as Bizarre Love Triangle, True Faith, Blue Monday and Love Will Tear Us Apart mixed with new tracks such as Tutti Frutti, People On The High Line and Restless. While it is the classics that will have you raising your hands into the air wishing you were with a couple of thousand other sweaty bodies, the newer songs stand up remarkably well. All of which makes NOMC15 a must for any pop music fan. 8.5/10.
A collection of new tracks, classics and remixes, DJ Pierre’s Wild Pitch: The Story is an excellent snapshot of one of the stand out producers of our time. For those who don’t know, the Chicago native practically invented acid house when messing around with a Roland TR-303 drum machine back in the mid 80s. While Wild Pitch doesn’t feature Acid Trax, or his other work with seminal band Phuture, the goodies do come thick and fast. DJ Pierre’s take on House For All by Blunted Dummies opens the album with warm house tones and a slightly trippy air. This vibe is continued by the lush mid-paced groove of MuSiQ, while the gospel house vocals and preacher samples help make Meet Hate With Love a joyous slice of classic house. Of the big hitters, the excellent Generate Power is given an unnecessary update, yet still manages to sound fab, House Music, a collaboration with Marshall Jefferson, is a deep heady jam, while the 1979 Disco Club Mix of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love is one of the best edits you will hear all year. Although Wild Pitch isn’t a record you will find yourself repeatedly playing from beginning to end, there are more than enough gems here to make any clubber’s day. 8/10.
Over the last few years, Finnish artist Aleksi Perälä has successfully crafted some of the most accomplished electronic music ever committed to wax. His Colundi Sequence series, the best of which were recently rounded up on two stunning volumes by Clone, features a glorious mixture of heady electronica, spacey techno and jerky electro. This month he returns to our stereos via Nina Kraviz’s Trip label for the dense, sonic assault of his new double EP. Composed of ten tracks, Paradox is out on the 15th of December and will make the perfect Christmas present for anyone who likes their music cerebral and deep. More dance floor focused than his recent Simulation LP, Paradox merges the futuristic sounds of electro pioneers like UR or Drexciya with 90s IDM and more to create a musical landscape resembling no one else around. As usual, tracks are given perfunctory titles such as GBLFT1740065, and, while some are no more than club tools, Paradox is an album which will delight fans of Convextion or E.R.P. 8/10.
Mixed live in one continuous take using only three decks and a Xone 92 mixer, the latest in London institution Fabric’s long-running series boasts American producer and DJ DSV1 furiously blending a total of 29 tracks in his own inimitable style. Fabric 96 is out now and is formed of completely new material from techno/house bastions such as Steffi, Neel, Planetary Assault Systems and Jeff Mills. With the majority of tracks drawn from Zak Khutoresky’s own Mistress and HUSH imprints there is a degree of subtlety and musicality to be found here which makes Fabric 96 stand out from the slew of tough techno mixes you can find on Soundcloud or any number of mix hosting sites. And, while Fabric 96 isn’t an album you will find yourself playing to help seduce the person of your dreams, it does capture the energy, passion and excitement of going clubbing in 2017 better than a bottle of Buckfast and a bucket full of pills. 8/10.
A special mention must also go to: Birds And The BEE9 by Sampa The Great – Funky, musical and exhilaratingly fresh sounding, Sampa Tembo’s debut release on Big Dada is a glorious melding of hip hop and soul, 9/10, Drownscapes by Locust Toybox – Out now on Brainfeeder, these lonely, melancholy ambient excursions will make the perfect soundtrack to long winter nights, 8/10, GL Outtakes by Martyn – A collection of darkly funky tracks originally composed in 2008/2009, a time when dubstep rhythms seemed unimaginably exciting and new, 8/10, Reflection Of Youth by Eera – London based Anna Lena Bruland’s debut LP is a heartfelt panorama of huge rock riffs, soulful dirges and confessional lyrics. In other words, it’s great, 8.5/10, The Best Of Get Physical 2017 by V/A – With a total of 50 tracks by artists such as M.A.N.D.Y., DJ Pierre, Few Nolder, DJ T, and Jazzuelle, it sounds like German label Get Physical had a pretty great year, 8/10, Heaven Inside Your Frequencies by Simone Gatto – Hazy electronica and shadowy Balearica combine to form a record which does strange things to the mind, 7.5/10, Hypnagogia by Austen/Scott – Danse Club Records celebrate their 50th release with the debut LP from label heads Austen and Scott Smart. Tough, yet melodic, these eleven tracks hit that sweet spot where house and techno meet, 8/10 and Tour De Traum XIV by V/A – Surely there is no better way to spend Christmas Day than curling up with your loved ones to the sound of Traum label head Riley Reinhold blending a soundtrack of ambient, electronica, techno and melody rich house, 8.5/10.
And let’s not forget: Pop Ambient 2018 by V/A – The latest instalment of Kompakt’s annual celebration of all that is tranquil and sedate features acts including Kaito, Mikkel Metal, The Orb and T. Raumschmiere who give us twelve tracks of aural gold, 8.5/10, Don’t Believe In Happiness by Jori Hulkkonen – Anyone with fond memories of 80s synth pop will find much to enjoy in this excellent LP, 8.5/10, Barricades by Franck Vigroux – A gloriously dense album of ambient atmospherics and brutal electronics, 8/10, Cryosleep by Null + Void – Kurt Uenala’s debut album sees guests such as Dave Gahan, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Big Pink create a goth-tinged pop gem, 8/10, Aspirations For Young Xol by Santiago Salazar – The Underground Resistance artist arrives on Radio Slave’s Rekids imprint with a groove laden record of deep techno jams, 8/10, In Case You Don’t Know What To Play by Damiano Von Erckert – An album of playful house and techno which will bring a smile to the face as it pulls at your feet, 7.5/10, Amsterdam To Broadway by Brian Johnson – Solid album of big room house moments, perfect for those times when you just have to raise your arms in the air, 7/10, Principles Of Newspeak by Nicolas Bougaïeff – Dense, cerebral techno with a winning 4/4 thump, 7/10, and Permanent Vacation X by V/A – Munich label Permanent Vacation celebrate ten years in the game with a four record set which will make the perfect Xmas present for anyone in love with house, 9/10.