A Hundred Days Off Revisited

This evening on a late night drive back to the city, I queued up one of my favorite Underworld albums that I hadn’t spun in some time. I wanted to share it with various music communities online but felt an obligatory responsibility to defend the album, as it received a lot of undeserved heat upon its release.

underworld-a-hundred-days-off

A Hundred Days Off (2002) was Underworld’s first full-length LP after the departure of Darren Emerson. Darren was a critical contributor to the trademark sound of Underworld Mk2, which spanned the album trilogy of Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Second Toughest in the Infants, and Beaucoup Fish. This chapter of the band concluded with the release of their live concert DVD, Everything Everything Live in 2000.

What followed with A Hundred Days Off and Rick and Karl’s subsequent LPs was a markedly more cerebral incarnation of the duo’s sound. AHDO traded in the floor-stomping anthems and “lager lager lager…” lyricism for more artful explorations of electronic music. Rejected by some of the clubbing community as weak or lifeless, these listeners were too quick to reject the ambient soundscapes, natural percussion, and polyrhythmic intricacies that make A Hundred Days Off such an enjoyable and enduring record.

Call it what you like – “album-oriented techno”, “progressive downtempo”, or “music for aging ravers”… just know that the best of the band’s recordings lie deep in the grooves beyond the club tracks of the late 1990s. And with The RiverRun Project, an array of web-only releases, and their music for both stage and screen, Underworld had an incredible wealth of music to offer after the dance floor had cleared at sunup.

The Innerspace Labs Top 100 Albums

Recently a vinyl community I frequent held a month-long event where members shared their Top 30 LPs. I had a wonderful time coming up with my list and writing small reviews for each title. Unfortunately, I had a terrible time limiting my list to just 30, and it quickly grew to a Top 100. (And even then, I’ve cheated here and there with multi-disc box sets and discographies.)

But it all seemed too good not to share here at Innerspace so please enjoy a gallery of 100 of my favorite albums. Mouse over any thumbnail for artist and title info and click any image to expand and view the full-resolution photograph. All albums are presented alphabetically by artist.

Have I made any glaring omissions? Any indisputable electronic classics? Let me know! Perhaps we’ll have to push it to 200…

Enjoy!

At It Again – New Works from Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde

Friday saw the debut of Brian Eno’s latest album – The Ship following the release of ts epic 21-minute self-titled single.

DSC06858.JPGThe Ship accompanied by an official postcard from Eno • Hyde

Like so many of Eno’s albums, this record serves more to inspire thoughtful consideration and reflection than it does casual enjoyment. Unlike Discreet Music or Airports, this is not sonic wallpaper or furniture music, though it resonates a similar ethereal sonic quality. The Ship has a somber and harrowing essence, serving as a dire reflection on the Titanic disaster and the horrors of WWI. But the record maintains a meditative and cerebral tone rewarding to any listener who’ll give the album their full attention.

The double LP includes more of Eno’s art prints. The works are semblant of the visualizations from his 77 Million Paintings generative software. Not particularly inspiring, they function better conceptually rather than visually.

Also this week, Eno’s recent collaborator Karl Hyde released a short art film of an installation he produced for Underworld’s latest album, Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future. I found the fervent and tactile quality of Hyde’s work more engaging than the static nature of Eno’s prints.

Hyde’s Tokyo Street Poem features Soundscape by Underworld’s other half, Rick Smith and was exhibited at Parco, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan in March 2016 as part of the Tomato 25th Anniversary Exhibition.

Underworld also recently premiered a choreographed dance film for the album’s track, “If Rah”, but once again, I believe the concept was better executed by other artists in years prior.

Amelia: A Film by Edouard Lock With La La La Human Steps (2002) features David Lang’s cover of “I’m Waiting For My Man” with choreographed dancers Mistaya Hemmingway and Jason Shipley-Holmes. The film is striking and visually captivating.

Sigur Ros produced an equally effective film piece for their valtari film experiment – a collection of 16 short films made for the valtari album. The 2012 film features Ekki múkk, Valtari, Rembihnútur and Varúð. It is a passionate and emotive work.

If you missed my feature on Underworld’s latest album, check it out!  And I’ll be back next Saturday with my latest culturally-inspired creative and research projects.

Stay tuned!

Barbara, Barbara We Face a Shining Future

underworld in studioUnderworld portrait © Perou / Courtesy of the artist

For thirty-seven years, Rick Smith and Karl Hyde have been creating their own unique flavor of music, ranging from New Wave (with their first effort, a one-off single sold from the boot of Karl’s car as the Screen Gemz), to synth pop as Freur and Underworld Mk1, to progressive house experimentalism with their breakthrough self-reinvention on the album, Dubnobasswithmyheadman.  From there Underworld’s sound grew infinitely richer and more adventurous, with everything from dancefloor anthems to ambient scores for film and the stage, to providing a soundtrack for the London 2012 Olympic Games.  

By the present day, their catalog boasts an impressive tally of 510 albums, EPs, live releases, collaborations, solo efforts, and singles.  At 56 and 58 years old, the duo have been producing music longer than many of their listeners have been alive.  Releasing a new LP, the band’s first new recordings in six years, would be a daunting task for any artist. But instead, as Ian Mathers notes in his review for PopMatters, “this might be the most relaxed, subtly confident record they’ve put out in Underworld Mk II’s history.”

True veterans of electronic music, Barbara is artful and inventive and easily the freshest-sounding album I’ve heard all year thus far.

Casual listeners hoping for an album of “Born Slippy”s be warned – this is instead an intimate and reflective album capturing the emotive spirit the band has past-exemplified in their more meditative and mid-tempo tracks and, as Mathers notes, is more of a slow burn, a ‘Banstyle/Sappys Curry’ instead of a ‘Pearl’s Girl’.”

Slant Magazine revealed thatthe album’s title came from the mouth of Smith’s dying father, being among the final words he uttered to his wife.” And Spin Magazine adds that the album’s “stirring background vocals over ever-turning arpeggiated synths are provided by Smith’s daughter, Esme, and Hyde’s daughter, Tyler, carrying the torch (almost literally) for future ravers.”  This is what four-decade veterans of electronic music sound like in their most intimate and thoughtful moments.

The theme of the record approaches the shimmery, reflective territory Karl explored with an early edit of “Always Loved a Film”, (then dubbed “Silver Boots”) broadcast only once – on May 19th 2006 from the band’s Lemonworld Studio.  The track has long been a stand-out favorite of mine with its danceclub anthemic four on the floor beats delicately balanced by more complex and thoughtful elements which reveal themselves over the eleven minutes of the track.  

And ever-present are Karl’s trademark vocals – stripped bare of effects and showcasing curious conversational fragments expertly-described by Jon Dennis (of the Guardian) as “affecting, fractured evocations of the disorientations of modern urban life.” Karl speaks, “Maggie’s a doll and I’m a big sister / She’s a little girl and I’m a little princess / These are the weeds that live in the cracks / and these are the rails at the edge of the world.”  The phrases are puzzling  and disconnected, but function beautifully in an abstract sort of elegance.  This is what Underworld does best – and precisely what they’ve achieved with their wonderful new record.

Philosophical Wax – Artistic Influence Comes Full-Circle

With the whole of my Saturday evening at my command I decided to delve deeper into the culture surrounding a yet-unread title on my bookshelf – The notorious Illuminatus! Trilogy.  Little did I know that the exploration would bring a number of my artistic and musical favorites full-circle in a sphere of related influence!

Discordia and Illuminati sm

Having read Malaclypse the Younger’s Principia Discordia, (a wonderful bit of counter-cultural madness), I already had a fundamental (mis)understanding of the lunacy that is Discordianism.  But in my readings, there were multiple references to its earlier incarnation – the social revolutionaries known as The Situationist International.

For those unfamiliar with the group, their philosophy is, for the most part, summarized thusly:

[Situationism] is derived primarily from anti-authoritarian Marxism and the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, particularly Dada and Surrealism.  Overall, situationist theory represented an attempt to synthesize this diverse field of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of mid-20th century advanced capitalism.

Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle, best-illustrated in Guy Debord’s 1967 book and found-footage film – each titled, La société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle).

The Spectacle is a criticism of advanced Capitalism, where real-life experiences are replaced with the commodified consumerist culture of living through one’s possessions.  The Situationists viewed this passive consumption as damaging to the quality of human life for both individuals and society.  Instead of living vicariously through one’s purchases and property, the Situationists sought to create situations – moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of life and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life.

The film, The Society of the Spectacle (1973) is available in its entirety, dubbed Fr subbed Eng here:

And only a few years later, the film Network (1976) would similarly address the societal dangers of mass media.

network

This philosophy was clearly an influence on the hippie art scene of the 1960 with their staging of nearly-spontaneous Happenings.  I was honored to attend the first Happening of the season in Buffalo for an impromptu performance of Terry Riley’s In C with participation from children in the audience.

Tracking the influence back even further (and then again, to the present) I learned of the French avant-garde movement, established in Paris in the mid-1940s by Romanian immigrant Isidore Isou known as Lettrisme (Lettrism) and his concept of Hypergraphics in 1954.

Here is an Orson Welles Interview featuring Isidore Isou and Lettrist poetry – rich with Dadaist influence.

In 1958, Columbia Records issued the very first recordings of Letterist poetry – Maurice Lemaître presente le lettrisme.

This poetry adds another level of historical context to the performance I attended by composer Ethan Hayden at the University at Buffalo this past January.  While there was likely a Situationist influence on his work, “…ce dangereux supplément…” (2015) for solo voice (with optional electronics & video), Hayden’s piece is phonetically and linguistically more refined (though equally absurd!) both in its content and his delivery.  While I absolutely recognize the importance of Isidore Isou’s philosophy and his primitivist poems, Hayden has a far-greater command of language (or perhaps of nonsense?) and I look forward to his future performances.

And in 2007 to celebrate the life of Isou, The End of the Age of Divinity was published in his honor.  The book is available for free below.

http://antisystemic.org/SW/TheEndOfTheAgeOfDivinity-Enkutatach409.pdf

Once again coming full-circle to more recent artistic movements, Lettrism brought me to aforementioned Lettrist hypergraphical art, pictured below.

GrammeS_-_Ultra_Lettrist_hypergraphics

While I am by no means a scholar of art history, the influence here is clear as day on the 1990s typographic art of David Carson (famed for his work in Raygun Magazine and for Nine Inch Nails) and on Karl Hyde and John Warwicker’s Tomato art collective, which created the deconstructivist typographical art for Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman.

The work of David Carson…

dfh_david_carsondfh_david_carson1

and of Tomato…

mmm...skyscraper-01

Art of this nature is rooted in the cut-up technique first employed by the Dadaists in the 1920 and again in the late 1950s and early 1960s by William S. Burroughs.  But it was the audio incarnation of cut-up that I first encountered in music culture, from the earliest (and quite literal) tape cut-ups of musique concrete, to the resurfacing of the method by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Eno, and others, to the explosion of sampledelica culture in 1980s and 90s hip-hop and turntablism.

And around the same time, the radical and subversive art of culture jamming was born.  The term, coined in 1984, refers to any form of guerilla communication, such as the vandalist works by The Billboard Liberation Front and the illegal-art sample-based music of Negativland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All of this brought me back, yet again full-circle to The KLF.  The documentary, On the Passage of a few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1956-1972 contains flashes of the phrase,

“The Time for Art is Over.”

This very notion was later reiterated by Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond of the KLF in the K Foundation’s cryptic adverts appearing in UK national newspapers in 1993.  The first ad proclaimed,

K_Foundation_-_Abandon_All_Art_Now_Print

The Situationist documentary is available on Youtube in 3 parts.

It is only now that I realize that John Higgs’ endlessly fascinating book, THE KLF: Chaos, Magic, and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds directly referenced the Situationists, the Discordians, Alan Moore and “Ideaspace”, and Robert Anton Wilson – all of the key figures I am now exploring.

klf_paperback_cover_phoenix

Incredible discoveries are waiting to be made every day, and quiet Saturday evenings, like yesterday’s, are gleaming with potential for magic just like this. I’ve now a week ahead of me and a century of exciting new art to explore.

A Bit of Eno

I’m so very excited – just a few days ago I was browsing Discogs and by a sheer stroke of luck happened upon the newly-released first-ever vinyl pressing of Fripp & Eno’s Equatorial Stars.

Recorded in 2004, the album marked a 30-year reunion for the two musicians, who last collaborated on the Evening Star LP in 1975. Evening Star was the follow-up to their premiere frippertronic album – the monumental classic, (No Pussyfooting).

My Eno LPs to date…

Eno Collection 1Eno Collection 2Eno Collection 3

Brian Eno is an incredible hero of mine. From his genre-defining masterpiece, Music for Airports to his 77 Million Paintings project, from his zen-like Oblique Strategies deck to The Long Now Foundation, I’ve been following his work for more than 15 years and loving each new discovery.

One of my favorite (and sadly lesser-known) works by Eno was his January 07003 / Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now which features chimes for a timepiece that operates with minimum human intervention for ten millennia.

I’m still missing a few of the albums from Eno’s primary discography on vinyl, such as Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, Music for Films 2 and 3, and Thursday Afternoon, but I do maintain a 64-album digital discographic archive for added accessibility.

Eno’s recent collaborative projects with my other hero, Karl Hyde were a dream come true. Both are highly-acclaimed visual artists as well as musicians and have been wonderful inspirations for my own creative ventures.

Their collaboration drew inspiration from the repetitive minimalism of my other favorite composers like Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, and from the polyrhythmic music of Fela Kuti and funk.  For those who missed my post from the album’s debut, check out the fractured groove of “DBF.”

At age 66, Eno has no intention of slowing down, and I look forward to his next innovative project.

__________________

Inspiration or Obsession? Underworld, Freur, Karl Hyde, and Tomato

A theme was introduced for the day’s posts in a vinyl community today which led me to take a few updated snapshots of my collection.

The theme was 90s Techno and Dance Music, and it seemed as good a time as any to share my ever-growing collection of the Underworld family of albums and singles.

As many of my readers know, Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman is perhaps my all-time most beloved LP.  For those not familiar with its significance in my life, it was the very first record I ever heard which wasn’t top 40 radio rock and it blew my mind.

The progressive-house rhythms of Rick Smith and stream-of-consciousness lyricism of front-man Karl Hyde were the catalyst for my exploration into the history of electronic sound and pursuit of the avant-garde. I would certainly not be who I am today without that record.

The stunning album art of Dubnobass was also the work of Hyde’s own graphic design company – Tomato, which counts among their many clientele Nike, Levi, Adidas and many other big names looking for fresh, exciting design in the 90s.  Tomato was the direct inspiration for me to pursue a degree in graphic design and visual communication – a decision which set me on a path to meet many of the most important people in my life. 

Below is my collection to-date.  This includes the albums and singles by their first band (not counting their brief one-off as Screen Gemz) – a synth pop group called Freur.  Freur was originally named with an unpronounceable squiggle depicted on the clear 7″ picture disc below.  Freur is best-known for the hit, “Doot Doot.”  Also featured below are Karl’s more-recent solo effort and collaborative project with Brian Eno.

Brilliant stuff!

Underworld 1of4

Underworld 2of4

Underworld 3of4

Underworld 4of4

Underworld has explored a wide-range of sonic styles from their early synth-pop days to the present.  Perhaps their best-known trademark sound is that of the hit single, “Born Slippy.Nuxx” – a b-side which gained significant exposure with its appearance on the Trainspotting soundtrack.

But the tracks which first-grabbed my attention were those from the Dubnobass years.  From the album’s opening stead-paced club track, “Dark and Long” to the high-energy pairing of “Rez/Cowgirl.”

Here is the anthem performed live on the Everything Everything tour.

And check out the strikingly-different ambient soundscape, “To Heal” from the Sunshine soundtrack.

And finally, if you fancy a more-worldly mesh of Fela Kuti and Steve Reich, here’s the latest single – an instrumental collaboration with Brian Eno.

I have some exciting original material in the month ahead that you won’t want to miss, so stay tuned!

Calling all aging ravers and bedroom rockers… listen up.

Fellow Dirts,
Riders of the sainted rhythms,
disappearing down the tube hole on Farringdon Street,
with Whiplash Willy the motor psycho.

I’m looking at YOU.

Underworld header
To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman has been meticulously remastered at Abbey Road for a deluxe reissue by Rick Smith. Revisiting the original MIDI files, Rick uncovered a wealth of previously unreleased material and rare alternate mixes that sit alongside the record”s original companion singles and remixes and offer a fascinating insight into the creation of the record. The resultant release is the definitive version of one of those rare records that truly deserves to be described as a classic.

Thunder thunder lightning ahead
To coincide with the re-release of Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld will play the album in full at a one-off show at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 11th October 2014. This show will offer fans a unique chance to see Underworld in one of the capital’s most iconic venues playing this classic album in its entirety for the first time. Tickets cost £35/£30 and are on general sale from 4th July.

Pre-order dubnobasswithmyheadman on underworldlive.com before 2nd July and get access to tickets to the Royal Festival Hall show 24 hours before they go on general sale. 
(Tickets are available to Southbank members on 2nd July, underworldlive.com pre-orders on 3rd July and general sale from 4th July)

When you pre-order you will also get the remastered version of Cowgirl straight into your inbox.

KarlNME
Formats include a limited Super Deluxe 5-CD Box Set with book containing memorabilia and newly created artwork by design collective tomato; a 2-CD Deluxe Edition; remastered single CD; 2LP on 180 GM vinyl; Blu-ray Audio and Digital Equivalents.

Dubnobasswithmyheadman is the first remastered work to be released, there are plans in place to remaster and reissue all of the Underworld’s studio albums in the next few years.

In all its glory

Here is the track listing for the Super Deluxe 5 CD boxset which also includes a 50 page book of memorabilia and new artwork by tomato;

CD1 Dubnobasswithmyheadman

1. Dark & Long
2. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You
3. Surfboy
4. Spoonman
5. Tongue
6. Dirty Epic
7. Cowgirl
8. River Of Bass
9.M.E

CD2 Singles 1991 – 1994

1. The Hump (Wild Beast)
2. Eclipse (Released As Lemon Interrupt)
3. Rez
4. Dirty (Released As Lemon Interrupt)
5. Dirtyguitar
6. Dark & Long (Hall’s Edit)
7. Dark & Long (Dark Train)
8. Spikee Cd3 Remixes 1992 – 1994
1. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Jam Scraper)
2. Cowgirl (Irish Pub In Kyoto Mix)
3. Dark & Long (Most ‘Ospitable Mix)
4. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Telegraph 16.11.92)
5. Dark & Long (Burts Mix)
6. Dogman Go Woof
7. Dark & Long (Thing In A Book Mix)

CD3 Remixes 1992 – 1994

1.Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Jam scraper)
2.Cowgirl (Irish Pub in Kyoto mix)
3.Dark & Long (Most ‘ospitable mix)
4. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Telegraph 16.11.92)
5. Dark & Long (Burts mix)
6.Dogman Go Woof
7. Dark & Long (Thing in a Book mix)

CD4 PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED RECORDINGS 1991 – 1993

1. Concord (3 Comp75 id9 A1771 Aug 93A)
2. Dark & Long(1struffid3A15512)
3. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (A1765 Sky Version id4. Harmone6 COMP43)
4. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (After sky id6 1551 2)
5. Can You Feel Me? (from A4796)
6. Birdstar (A1558 Nov 92B.1)
7. Dirty Epic (Dirty Ambi Piano A1764 Oct 91)
8. Spoonman (version1 A1559 Nov92)
9. Organ (Eclipse version from A4796)
10. Cowgirl(AltCowgirlC69MixfromA1564)

CD5 LIVE JAM KYME RD (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED LIVE REHEARSAL RECORDED IN THE BAND’S HOME STUDIO IN 1993)

1.Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You
2.Improv 1
3.Bigmouth
4.Improv 2
5.Big Meat Show
6.Improv 3
7.Spoonman

uwl-live-6
This release is a milestone for the Dirties.  We’ve all shared our copies of  “Thing in a Book,” “‘Ospitable,” the Dubno rehearsal cassette, and every one of the other glorious rarities that appear on the Super Deluxe set over these past 20 years.  These tracks circulated privately among the Dirty forum members for ages while other odds and ends appeared only briefly a decade ago on the retired Underworld website.  Dedicated fans from the corners of the web have compiled well over 2,600 tracks between studio outtakes, official and unofficial live releases, Karl’s web diaries and Tomato ANTI-ROM and other multimedia.  But this release will be the first time these recordings will be available (as raw .WAVs, no less) on an official release.

John Bush of Allmusic.com called it “music for aging-raver activities like driving cars, pushing swings, or jogging on treadmills.”

Regardless, Rick and Karl have been making incredible music for over thirty-five years, and the two latest collaborations with “senior citizen soundscape artist” Brian Eno are no exception.

Tomorrow High Life will arrive on my doorstep, and I look forward to perusing the new Tomato publication when it follows.

…and the light it blinds my eyes.

Further Adventures in Vinyl Heaven

INTERSTELLAR OVERDRIVE: The Shindig! Guide to Space Rock

It’s been a wonderful week of research and first-listens.  I’ve also been enjoying the special edition INTERSTELLAR OVERDRIVE: The Shindig! Guide to Space Rock.

I must apologize for my delay in featuring the much-anticipated collaborative release from Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde. It was a record which demanded careful reflection, and it took some time to form a conclusive perspective of their first commercial effort together.

Eno & Hyde Album Shot 1

Eno and Hyde have actually know each other and worked together for many years. Their last collaborative performances were the Pure Scenius concerts – three live improvised performances in Sydney featuring Eno, Australian improv trio The Necks, Hyde, Jon Hopkins and guitarist Leo Abrahams.

My first exposure to the new LP was the demo of track 1 – “The Satellites” which admittedly left me less than impressed. The track heavily features canned synth horns which seemed out of place for a recording from these two artistic pioneers. An album trailer soon followed on enoweb, which successfully re-invigorated my anticipation of what madness might be contained within the grooves of this mysterious new disc.

Two copies of the deluxe edition of Someday World arrived in the post – the first mangled within its flimsy overseas envelope, and the second two weeks later. These special edition pressings, limited to 750 copies worldwide, included a photo postcard and a glossy print reminiscent of the art Tomato was producing at the end of the millennium.

Eno & Hyde - Someday World Print

It was only after I had experienced the album in its entirety, along with a few television and radio performances and interviews that I truly appreciated the album as a whole.

Eno & Hyde performed the album’s clear A-side on Later with Jools Holland on BBC Two. This particular track, “Daddy’s Car” is one of the better implementations of the aforementioned synths blended with Eno’s trademarked polyrhythmic percussion and pop sensibility.

The energy is heightened in the album’s two longest cuts – “Mother of a Dog” and “When I Built This World,” the latter of which is perhaps the best example of Eno’s brand of avant-garde rock. The second half of the track is a slow build of multiple synth lines which crescendo to an apex at the finale – highly recommended for headphone listening in a darkened room.

But it was their 45 minute live music and interview set on BBC 6music that really secured my love of the record.   The interview was quite revealing and the enhanced perspective has left me with a greater understanding and appreciation of this strange new LP from my two greatest inspirations. Eno stated that many of the tracks were culled from fragments of “beginnings” he had collected over many years of composition. In hindsight, I detected many sounds as being sourced from past albums like Nerve Net, The Drop, Small Craft, Headcandy, Spinner and even from the Japanese 77 Million AV Installation CD compilation. There’s even a bit of noise-guitar-plus-spoken vocals a la “Blank Frank” if that’s what you’re looking for. And the lyric, “strip it down / make it simple / useless words” from “Strip It Down” might have been lifted right from a card in the Oblique Strategies deck.

Eno & Hyde - in the studio

In all, the album is a mix of strengths and weaknesses, but I perceive the record as more of a collaborative stepping stone than a milestone. On Someday World, Eno & Hyde are simply experimenting together. In the 6music interview, Eno commented that he had initially set out to make a dark electronic record, and was surprised by how “happy” it turned out.

To be absolutely honest I find it difficult to review this album objectively.  As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, Karl Hyde’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman was the very first record I heard which exposed me to a world outside of top 40 radio rock. His brilliant design work with John Warwicker in Tomato’s mmm…skyscraper: A Typographical Journal of New York directly inspired my career in the field of graphic design. And Eno’s Music for Airports seeded my lifelong love of all things ambient and drone. To witness these two men working together is a dream come true, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Eno & Hyde Album Shots 2

[UPDATE] Eno has now released an augmented reality app for Someday World!

On the subject of ambient music – I came to a stark realization yesterday. As much as I love ambient and early synth compositions, I had miraculously managed to live 32 years without listening to Vangelis’ film score to Blade Runner.

The most complete edition available is the unparalleled Esper ‘Retirement’ Edition – 25th Anniversary Culmination – a 5CD bootleg, but far more faithful to the actual score than any commercial release. (Think of it as the Dr. Ebbetts or the Purple Chick edition.) 8-minutes into my first listen I was searching for a copy on vinyl.

BRERE25AC - Blade Runner Esper Retirement Edition CD Case (Front)

As you likely know, the soundtrack had a rough history. It began with the New American Orchestra’s Orchestral Adaptation of the score, released in the UK and throughout Europe in 1982.

New American Orchestra - Blade Runner Soundtrack LP 1982

The actual original soundtrack release was delayed for over a decade, until 1994. The 1989 compilation Themes included some tracks from the film, but it was not until two years after the 1992 Director’s Cut premiered that the proper score saw an official release.

The first official Vangelis soundtrack was a CD released on Atlantic/BMG in 1994. An LP was issued in Brazil that year but I cannot verify whether or not it was a legitimate release. Similarly, a vinyl bootleg surfaced in 2003 but is not of consequence.

This 2013 Audio Fidelity remastered 180g virgin vinyl translucent red pressing is the first-ever official worldwide release of Vangelis’ soundtrack on vinyl and was limited to 5000 copies. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to add this to my library.

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Front)

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Gatefold)

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Disc A)

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Disc B)
I was surprised by the album’s packaging – it has one hell of a UV gloss coat and the gatefold sleeve is beautifully heavy.  I really appreciate quality packaging when I see it.

As I was on a bit of a roll I decided it was time that I owned a copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico in its original format.  (It’s just one of those LPs that everyone on the planet should have.)  After a brief search through discogs I thought it would be fun to pick up the banana-yellow vinyl edition from 2000. Though only 500 copies were pressed it is surprisingly affordable and surfaces regularly on discogs.com. I ordered two copies so that my lady-friend can enjoy it as well.

Velvet Underground & Nico - Banana yellow vinyl pressing

And finally – I acquired one more classic-collaboration this week. Cluster & Eno was released in 1977 – the same year as Before and After Science. Music For Airports would follow the next year, but Cluster & Eno stands strongly on its own as an essential milestone in Eno’s ambient family of albums.

Cluster & Eno - Cluster & Eno LP

The cover photograph has grabbed my attention every time the record surfaced but I was never quite “ready” for the album.  Now that I’ve properly-digested hundreds of classic krautrock albums, I feel daft for not having picked it up sooner.

I suppose this fantastic haul makes up for my leaving the spring record show empty-handed.

And I’m already hard at work on next week’s post – a special in-depth exploration of how to manage large digital music libraries.  When I reached 77,000 recordings, I quickly realized that it was time to re-evaluate my music management system, and I’m happy to share my strategies with the listening community.

Stay tuned!

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing to you in a state of pure euphoria.  I am awestruck by the explosion of recent musical events.  So much, in fact, that I must present the latest news to you in three parts.

These three posts will come once every five days as I do my best two maneuver about the chaos that is relocating my audio lab.  In just four days, I will take command of a new home with a dedicated audio engineering and listening space, in the company of my beloved lady and fellow music critic.  These are exciting times, but all my own excitement pales before the news that greeted me upon returning home from work this evening.

ENO & HYDE 2014

The words stared back at me from my monitor, and it took several self-checks to ensure that I had, in fact correctly deciphered and interpreted the Roman glyphs before me.  The article which followed confirmed the headline, and I found myself slipping into a Zen-like ancient ancestral hunter-gatherer trance.  In a few swift motions I seized my credit card, connected to UnderworldLive, converted GBP to USD and locked in my pre-order.

The day has finally come.

After Karl Hyde collaborating with Brian Eno for This is Pure Scenius in 2010, producing acoustic-ambient-art-rock for the masses, and after the release of Hyde’s first solo record, Brian and Karl teamed up again in late 2013 and have just publicly announced the pending release of their first collaborative record – Someday World.

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The 2LP is scheduled for release May 5th, 2014, but those who reserve their copies in advance will receive downloads of 2 pre-release tracks, the first of which will post March 4th.  The gatefold double-LP is sure to be a milestone of music history, perhaps the first of its kind since Byrne and Eno released My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.  In fact, an article on the official UnderworldLive website described Eno and Hyde discovering a mutual love of afrobeat… so there may be a hint of Ghosts detectable in the DNA of the new release.

Shipping included from the UK, Stateside buyers will secure a pre-order for just over $49 USD – a small price to pay for such a piece of history.

And UnderworldLive has kindly offered a high-res promotional wallpaper shot of the gents for you to gaze upon while you count the seconds until your copy arrives.

I honestly cannot express my excitement at learning this news – Hyde was the first piece of music I heard in my life which was not from a top 40 radio playlist, and Eno is responsible for initiating me into the world of cerebral, contemplative sound art.  And now, they’ve cut a record together.

See you in 5.

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