Music for Spaceports

For the last two weeks, I’ve been listening again and again to the latest two promo albums from M.Ward’s ‘Recovered & Remastered’ series and the new 10 CD ‘X-Series’.

The first specimen I ingested was the monumental 10th Anniversary Overhaul of 4ORBIDDEN MISSION.

Ten years ago, M.Ward’s remix project was privately circulated and limited to an estimated 22 copies. Bootlegs eventually surfaced and were exchanged for large sums of money, but the originals seldom changed hands and the music was lost for a decade.

This new 2CD edition is unmixed, vastly superior in sound quality, and a fantastic overhaul of the original 4OM recording. The tracks have all been lovingly tweaked, with any quality issues finally resolved, providing a gorgeous listening experience. There was also a 3rd disc with the original 4OM which included a 54-minute mix of ‘Huge Ever Growing…’ This mix was only ever meant for that set. There is a possibility that this mix will also get the 10th Anniversary Overhaul treatment and appear somewhere in the future?

05 4ORBIDDEN MISSION (10th Anniversary Overhaul) [Promo].JPG

The 40M Overhaul is brilliant, and if you’re a die-hard fan, you already know that you need this mix in your life.

But it was the second double-disc promo which intrigued me the most. The set arrived, like 4OM, in a modest cardboard 2CD sleeve, stamped with the title:

THIS IS NOT WHAT SPACE IS ABOUT
FULL-LENGTH UNMIXED 2CD
* PROMO USE ONLY *

As a tremendous fan of the original TINWSIA single CD promo, (cat# KLF MINUS-SIX), I couldn’t wait to survey this deluxe and expanded edition. I set aside some serious time for interstellar travel. No lights, minimal external stimuli, just me and my passive noise cancelling circumaural monitors.

03 This is Not What Space is About Full Length Unmixed 2CD Promo (Cardboard Sleeve).JPG

Listening to this expanded edition of Space was like settling in for a screening of 2001. Man has several rituals which must be performed to prepare himself for the journey which awaits him. Secure in my sleep chamber, I slowed my breathing and heart rate and engaged the auditory systems which initiated the listening sequence of Disc 1.

Looking back, my memory is foggy from that initial experience. There were so many sensations – moments of elation and of anticipation… but like all of the most gripping and affecting events of our lives, the exact moments blur into a vaporous and intangible haze. But it’s just as well – the incorporeal recollection is befitting of the ethereal magnificence of the recording, and enhances its metaphysical transportive effect.

2.jpg
The printed insert from the TINWSIA 2CD

Upon the conclusion of Disc 1, I opened my eyes, slowly, and reacquainted my body with the sensations and properties of the physical world. I needed a cerebral and sensory palate cleanser after the first leg of the voyage, so I shook off the space dust and had a little walk about the house.

Thirty minutes later, I felt stable and tranquil enough to complete the mission. I returned to my listening pod and initiated Disc sequence 2. This time, the musical events seemed more tangible and distinctly formed. Perhaps Disc 2 was more eventful than the sparse drone openness of the introduction. Or perhaps the human mind simply requires a certain duration of preliminary exposure to adapt to a sensory foray of this nature. Whatever the case, I had a heightened sense of awareness and elucidation concurrent with the events of the second recording and I enjoyed it all the more for this revelation.

To describe the particular events of the album would be unproductive, as the very thing which makes the experience so fantastic is that so much of what transpires will be the conjurings of each listener’s own imagination. The soundstage is filled with curious and distant sounds, as well as familiar fragments from the original source recording. And every bit of it is a thrill.

There have been numerous attempts to re-envision milestone recordings of ambient music as a contemporary response to the vision of the original composer. There have been countless trance and ambient tributes to The Dark Side of the Moon, alternative, remixed, and reimagined scores for classic films like Blade Runner and Nosferatu, and (perhaps most notably), The Black Dog’s Music For Real Airports served as a modern interpretation of Eno’s seminal ambient masterpiece.

jimmy-cauty-spaceThe original Space LP (1990)

To speak concretely and critically of this recording, I can say with great certainty that it rivals not only M Ward’s original This Is Not What Space Is About mix, but that it more compellingly captures the essence of interstellar travel than did Cauty, himself in 1990 with Space. Do not misunderstand me – J. Cauty’s record is, in and of itself, a milestone of both the KLF’s legacy and of the history of ambient music as a whole. For its time, it was the best and defining realization of its genre. But the Full Length Unmixed 2CD Promo of This Is Not What Space Is About is the most effective fulfilment of Cauty’s vision. Every ambient music listener should cash in their worker units and buy a ticket for this incredible cosmic journey.

It’s one hell of a ride.

The History of Modern Ambient Music: Part 1 – 1973-1993

Hello friends!  My second video is now up on The Innerspace Connection’s Youtube channel – this is the first of a 2-part series showcasing milestone recordings of modern ambient music.

Here are the highlights of albums recorded between 1973 and 1993, presented in the order of their release.

Or click here for the HD version.

Modern BBC Docu-Rock and Ambient Space Treasures

Friends, I have some very special records in store for you, and many more in the post on their way.

Recently I was exploring related-artist lists for long-standing favorites Sundae Club and Lemon Jelly on a number of music services.  One result had quite an intriguing name, so I gave them a listen.

Public Service Broadcasting is a project of J. Willgoose and Wrigglesworth from London.  The association with Jellyheads and fans of Sundae Club is instantly apparent – their music is electronic, but with a uniquely organic (and perhaps an emotive) element that separates it from the countless electro-pop artists of the day.

PSB uses samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material, which fits well in a playlist of Found Sound Orchestra and Future Loop Foundation recordings.

The result, when paired with their minimalist geometric album packaging, is a krautrock-flavored mechanical sort of BBC documentary music, if you can imagine such a thing.

I enjoyed their INFORM • EDUCATE • ENTERTAIN LP, but was most impressed by THE WAR ROOM EP.  Just one look at the album jacket and anyone who follows my blog with any frequency will instantly understand why I just had to acquire this glorious disc.

 

Here is your new desktop wallpaper.  You're welcome.

Here is your new desktop wallpaper. You’re welcome.

See if you can detect traces of the metronomic percussion of Neu!’s “Hallo Gallo” in PSB’s music, or a touch of Kraftwerk inspiration in the packaging of INFORM • EDUCATE • ENTERTAIN.

Public Service Broadcasting - Inform-Educate-Entertain

On to other treasures, I had perused the Record Store Day list for April 2014 but no items particularly grabbed me so I sat the holiday out and saved my cash for the seasonal record show that followed.

In the days after the holiday, I stumbled upon a redditor who ran an independent record store in the States offering limited edition RSD items at store-price to those who couldn’t make it that day.  He listed an album that had entirely escaped my radar – a condensed and remastered 50-minute distillation of the epic 24-hour “7 Skies H3” by Flaming Lips.

Available exclusively for RSD, this was most fans’ only opportunity to own a piece of the notorious track, of which 13 copies were produced and sold on a hard drive encapsulated in a real human skull.

Flaming Lips - 24hrskull - 7 Skies H3
The offer was extended to fellow redditors at 11am on the morning of Easter Sunday, and I didn’t hesitate for a single second.  To make the situation even more exciting, I discovered that I had just sold a record I had received for free for the exact price of the Flaming Lips album, which chalks up to getting it for free!

Flaming Lips 7 Skies H3 and KLF MINUS SIX

I should caution fans who acquire this record, however – The album ships with a download code from Warner Music, but the file is not what it appears to be.  There are no options for MP3 quality (or for a FLAC download) – the album automatically downloads a set of files marked as 256 CBR.  I was a tad suspicious of Warner Music so I tested the file and it appears to be only a paltry 128kbps MP3.

If anyone can verify this I would love to hear from you, but I was extremely disappointed that this rare recording was essentially presented in the sonic equivalent of a Napster file from 1999.

"I'm telling you... realplayer is going to be HUGE."

“I’m telling you… RealPlayer is going to be HUGE.”

Regardless, best to focus on the positive – like that mysterious KLF item from the Lips’ photo above!

I cannot express the level of my excitement in finally hearing this special recording.  You may well recall my featuring of Disc 6 and of The KLF Remix Project Part III in earlier entries.

This new disc was to be the ninth in the series of unofficial reworkings of the KLF’s catalog – masterfully engineered and easily one of the finest ambient recordings of the year. Sadly, due to issues beyond the producer’s control, the disc will not be released to the public.

The disc contains a 2014 72-minute epic rework of the original Space LP created 24 years ago, originally as a collaboration between Dr. Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty – the original line-up of The Orb.

For those who aren’t familiar with the outstanding KLF: Recovered & Remastered unofficial releases from my past entries, let me bring you up to speed.

1987. British acid house. Drummond. Cauty. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. The Timelords. The JAMs. One World Orchestra. 2K. The Stadium House Trilogy. Doctorin’ the Tardis. Anarchism.   The White Room. The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Top of the Pops. America: What Time is Love? The Manual. A lost road movie. The K Foundation. Extreme Noise Terror. Why Sheep? Waiting. The Rites of Mu. Chill Out. The birth of Ambient House. Burning a million quid on the Isle of Jura. Abandon all art now. And Space.

There. That about sums it up.

20 years into the silence that followed the K Foundation’s exit from celebrity a man surfaced who set himself to the task of recovering and remastering the KLF’s catalog to fill the void left in Cauty and Drummond’s absence.

The first six releases, catalog #KLF 001 RE – KLF 006 RE were brilliant, and the sixth release, Live From The Lost Continent 2012 presented listeners with a 77-minute stadium-packed concert that never was.

Following this triumph, two more released emerged – KLF MINUS-ONE and KLF MINUS-FOUR, each better than the EP before.

But our hero had one last stupendous project up his sleeve. And in April of 2014, it was complete.

A message from its creator revealed that MINUS-SIX was to be:

“…a 72 minute remodel of the classic SPACE release, sounding like a cross between ‘Silence’ (from Pete Namlook’s legendary Fax +49-69/450464 label), SPACE, and classic ambient drone releases. It’s almost like Trainspotting for KLF fans.”

The original Space LP (1990)

The original Space LP (1990)

The final piece is a monumental achievement – a new Music for Airports, or perhaps a new Selected Ambient Works Vol II.  It effectively unites sparse white-noise drones with all of the familiar elements of the original Space record which made it so memorable.  It is brilliantly subtle, while simultaneously making the sounds of simulated space flight an exciting and dramatic experience.

Then came the crushing news – the MINUS SIX project had suddenly been halted, and there were to be no more releases in the series.

I make no exaggeration when I state that, with this loss, the ambient music audience is experiencing its own Nick Drake, or more accurately – its own SugarMan.

searching-for-sugar-man-poster

At least this dude got his own movie.

Worse yet – because Rodriguez had a nation celebrating his work for generations an ocean away from his quiet daily life, and at least Nick Drake experienced posthumous success – becoming a household name in the years which followed his untimely demise.

But production of MINUS-6 has been cancelled. Quite sadly, the millennium’s ambient and drone audience and the millions of listeners who grew up with the KLF may never hear this record.

Its legend is shroud in mystery. Will KLF fans ever know the engineer’s name?  Why the sudden cease just before unveiling his holy grail?

But perhaps it is the legend and the mystery that adds a touch of vitality to the series.

And I still have hope. The K Foundation announced a 23-year moratorium on all projects beginning November 1995. Perhaps, in honor of the 2018 reformation of the KLF, our mysterious friend will emerge.

My sincerest hope is that the man behind these nine fantastic EPs one day receives the recognition (and listenership) that he deserves.

If you’re out there – Bring the beat back.

The+KLF

 

The Birthday Vinyl is in!

Hello again!

While I am still anxiously awaiting my limited run reissue of Cinematic Orchestra’s Motion (ordered back in early March!) I can at least report that some special favorites turned up for my birthday and have arrived safely at my new apartment.

I had a beacon out for a copy of the Orb’s legendary Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld in case a copy ever turned up in the United States.  This 1991 ambient house-concept debut album marked the official transition from works by The KLF (and Jimmy Cauty’s ambient project under the moniker “Space”) into what became The Orb.

If you ever track down this milestone album for yourself, you’ll want the original UK pressing, as the first US pressing was edited down from the double-disc 109:41 minute UK release down to a one disc 70:41 minutes – a crime against the world of ambient music.

Orb - Orb's Adventures Ultraworld
The album is best-known for the track, “Little Fluffy Clouds,” but should truly be enjoyed in its double disc glory.

It was an absolute joy to finally own this LP, but what I stumbled upon next really floored me.

I had been itching for the most memorable ethereal post-rock records of the late 90s and early 2000s.  I put together a list of my favorites – albums which immediately come to mind years after I first heard them.  Then I poured over my favorite web sources for hard-to-find wax.  On my second day of searching, I was delighted to find one seller on a particular site who had three of the six records I was looking for!  Better still, they were in the USA, and would ship any number of LPs for a total of $5!

Then I realized what seller I was dealing with – it was The Lakeshore Record Exchange in my old home town of Rochester, NY.

I immediately grabbed my phone and called the owner of the shop.  He had just sold one of the discs but said that he’d already re-ordered a store copy and would ship all three as soon as it came in.

What a treat it was, 5 days later to receive three elusive albums from my first years in college all from the shop where I spent some of my earliest vinyl-purchasing days!  (This, by the way, was the shop where a very beautiful record clerk played me Lemon Jelly for the first time and lead me on a 100-album binge for their complete recordings!)  Thank you, Marta.

Here are the three albums which arrived last night –

The first is múm’s first release on FatCat Records from 2001, Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today is OK.

mum - Yesterday was Dramatic

The next disc was another essential FatCat LP from Iceland –  Sigur Rós’ Ágætis Byrjun. Recorded in 1999, this is the 2013 UK DMM Remaster from Abbey Road on 180gm vinyl.

Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun Ltd Ed RSD 2013 (stickered version)

And the third record was the wonderful collaboration between Adam Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid) and Dustin O’Halloran (who released his Lumiere LP on FatCat in 2011).

A Winged Victory For The Sullen was released on Kranky Records that same year.

A Winged Victory - A Winged Victory

The remaining three albums from my Contemporary Ambient list are Telefon Tel Aviv’s Fahrenheit Fair Enough, The Album Leaf’s In a Safe Place, and Pantha Du Prince’s This Bliss from Germany.

Hopefully I’ll pick them up by Christmas time.

Thanks for listening and THANK YOU, Lakeshore!

Most Satisfying Find of the Season

I picked up a near mint 1964 stereo pressing of Kind of Blue from a local antique shop last Sunday. It had been in the seller’s personal collection for over thirty years and he decided to sell it only after tracking down the original 1959 mono pressing which he called his desert island holy grail.

Image

What could I possibly say about this monumental recording that hasn’t been said in the last 50 years?

I am just getting started started with jazz. Davis’ Carnegie Hall LP and Bitches Brew were my first.

I really love the modal theme of the album, and as a lover of ambient music the smooth, cool feel is just my style. I welcome any other recommendations of similar records so that I can further explore jazz.

UPDATE: A few days later I spotted a new issue of Davis’ In A Silent Way at a local shop.  I went home and gave it a listen online.  It’s essentially two ~20 minute tracks, and apparently it divided the jazz community due to it’s usage of electronic instruments.  Herbie Hancock joins in on keys and both tracks journey deep into space-jazz territory.  What more could an ambient aficionado ask for?  I’ll be picking up an original issue of In A Silent Way just as soon as I can.

Published in: on March 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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KLF Rairities from Santa – the Albums That Spawned a Genre!

I got two more rarities for my KLF collection this Christmas, and an amazing story behind it!

KLF - Space and Chill Out 12-25-11
Copies of the legendary Chill Out LP are impossible to come by in the states, so my girlfriend’s mother ordered me a copy from Belgium for Christmas.  She later received the email in the above picture stating that the disc was destroyed at customs!  But the Christmas spirit was with this generous seller – he remedied the situation and made my holiday by shipping his own personal copy (in DEAD MINT condition) at no additional charge.  THANK YOU Sebastien!

About the albums –

These two recordings, released in 1990 are the first ever examples of ambient house.

Space was recorded by Jimi Cauty and Alex Paterson just after the release of The Orb’s single, “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld.”  It was intended to be The Orb’s debut album, but the duo split and Cauty released it under the name “Space.”  A large percentage of the copies that surface are bootlegs, but I was fortunate enough to pick up an original pressing.  Cauty simply describes Space as, “a record for 14 year old space cadets to go and take acid to for the first time.”

Chill Out is a milestone in the history of ambient music – the sound of a post-rave late night road trip from Texas to Louisiana recorded in one live take at Trancentral.  Like Space, it was in part a collaboration between the KLF and Alex Paterson, and was recorded in February of the same year.

Check out my favorite track from Chill Out – “Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul.”

Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul

As a massive fan of ambient music, there are few classic albums that stand out above all others.  Brian Eno’s seminal masterpiece, Music For Airports will forever hold my number one position, both for jump starting the genre of contemporary ambient music and for initiating me into ambient culture many years ago.  Harold Budd’s collaborations with Eno – The Pearl and The Plateaux of Mirror are also both highly recommended.

This evening I was going through my library looking for ambient house albums I hadn’t listened to since college.  I was re-exploring the KLF discography when I came upon Chill Out and Space.

KLF - Chill OutThe KLF – Chill Out

Chill Out is essentially a post-rave ride home from Texas into Louisiana.

The Orb’s hit single, “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld,” and the KLF albums Chill Out and Space are actually quite closely related.  Each of the three contain material recorded from Trancentral, (the KLF basement studio), and from the monthly “Land Of Oz” nights at Heaven, the London nightclub.  These sessions were a collaboration with Alex Paterson of The Orb.  “Ultraworld,” Space, and Chill Out were the result of those sessions.

KLF - SpaceThe KLF – Space

If you’re a fan of these albums, there is an incredible amount of information available from the Chill Out Facebook fanpage.

Chill Out and Space will be my next ambient vinyl purchases.

Brian Eno – Music For Airports – 1-1

Eno and Budd – The Pearl

KLF – Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul, 3 AM