Monday, March 31, 2008

Secret Beaches Now Available for Pre-order
The connect-icut website has been updated. Eager shoppers can now pre-order a copy of They Showed Me the Secret Beaches for a bargain, never-to-be-repeated price. The LP's official release date is July 1st but I'll be shipping pre-orders as soon as the records are ready. If you're not ready to commit, you can simply listen to a song or download the press release.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Extremely Early connect_icut Review Spotted
Rather amazingly, Frans de Waard of Beequeen has already reviewed They Showed Me the Secret Beaches in his Vital Weekly newsletter. The review, which you can read here is only faintly complimentary. Confusingly, Frans prefers LA, which he regards to be the poppier of the two albums. Seems arse backwards to me but each to his own.


The really startling thing is how quickly this review appeared. Frankly, it's surprising that he's even received the test pressing I sent him. The fact that he's had time not only to listen to it but also to write a review of it frankly beggars belief. Does he listen all the promos he gets sent as soon as they arrive? Makes me tired just thinking about that.

So, has anyone heard the latest Beequeen album (pictured above)? I liked the last one a lot but I'm not sure the new one will be poppy enough for my liking (insert emoticon of your choice). Seriously though, great band, lovely guy, nice to get a mention. Buy the Bequeen CD now, then buy Secret Beaches when it comes out on July 1st.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mmmm... "Aaarrrggghhh!"
My 2008 New Year's resolution was to stick with a strict system that would keep my record buying under control. Things had started to get a little pathological in the 07 - I was acquiring more vinyl than I could reasonably listen to or even store!

So - long story short - I'm buying a lot less music this year. One of the many positive upshots of this is that I'm genuinely excited every time a new record comes into my hands. Another is that I tend to listen to everything I buy mutliple times, right away.

My most recent purchase was the new LP from Can't - aka sound artist and instrument builder Jessica Rylan. Private Time (Part Two) is a vinyl edition of 500 copies on Weird Forest records. Considering its limited nature, the disc looks surprisingly mass market, with its "proper" jacket and printed inner sleeve (which is reproduced at the top of this post).

The cover isn't just pro, though - it's also exquisitely designed. It might even be a clever pastiche of some classic album but - if so - I'm unable to place the reference. In any case, the portrait of a mild-mannered tea-sipping Rylan does little to betray the cathartic ferocity of the music (?) contained within.

Apparently, this album was recorded at Rylan's parental home, while Mom and Pop were sleeping. In light of that, one might reasonably expect a reprise of the excellent New Secret, on which Rylan seemed to be whispering diary entries into a homemade ring modulator (which is probably exactly what she was doing, come to think of it).

Instead, side one offers up a series of wild-eyed and heavily-processed screechin' an' yellin'. It's truly hair-raising stuff and yet Rylan somehow manages to dodge the numbing cliches of much dark-side harsh noise. The sound here is chillingly sparse and razor sharp, without ever becoming thin or tinny.

Side two comes closer to the New Secret sound but with greater compositional focus and sonic clarity. Furthermore, "Hey Puritan" - which opens proceedings after the intermission - is a complete departure, being a detuned bummer folk song in the style of Jandek.

Not for the faint of heart but fucking essential for the hardcore, Private Time (Part Two) is available through Keith Fullerton Whitman's ever-reliable Mimaroglu Music Sales. Get it while you can!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Single of the Year!
Take
that Portishead! I'm kidding! I'm kidding! Again. Still, you have to wonder about the fact that so many of the year's best releases have been singles. Must be something to do with MP3 culture plus the continued mainstreaming of 12"-centric genres like dubstep and minimal techno.

And let's not forget that the rather improbable Popol Vuh remix 12" on Mego really is thoroughly excellent. I've been anxiously awaiting this one since... well since mid January. It doesn't disappoint.

Mika Vainio of Pansonic turns in a surprisingly Fenneszesque remix of "Nachts: Schnee" from the 1987 Werner Herzog soundtrack
Cobra Verde. Blogglebum faves Haswell and Hecker, meanwhile, daub a track from the Aguirre soundtrack (another Herzog flick, of course, from '72) with their signature sonic scrawls.

Bracing stuff, all round and the most classically "Mego" sounding release in some time. Available from all well-stocked record stores (i.e. I got mine from Zulu) or from the Editions Mego website. Buy vinyl! Do it now!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Album of the Year!
Take that Portishead! Okay, I'm mostly kidding because I've only just downloaded it but the forthcoming Fall album Imperial Wax Solvent really does sound great. And this time I mean it! Seriously, it's much better than the last one and very much in the avant garage vein of Fall Heads Roll. Totally bonkers and bit more electronic than any Fall album in some time, Imperial Wax Solvent truly is a (cliche alert!) RETURN TO FORM.

No free MP3 downloads for you! The last thing I need is Mark E Smith on my tail. Still, you've got to love that whole file-sharing deal. As far as I know, there's still no release date for the vinyl of Imperial Wax Solvent but these free peer-to-peer MP3s will tide me over 'til I'm able to pay cash for the proper version (the proper proper version that is - I think the CD comes out the same day as Portishead).

Ah, yes, God bless file-sharing networks. I even managed to find the fabled "long" version of "Glider" by My Bloody Valentine (well it's eight minutes long, which is longer than either of the commercially available versions, I'm pretty sure). But where are the rest of the "lost" Glider tracks? Well, I also found a demo called "Explosive". Not sure when it's from but it ain't bad (though, hardly the Holy Grail). Maybe I'll even post it for you but not until next Valentine's day. And only if you're nice.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

That Modern Vernal Rite (In Part)
This is ripe! Someone already posted YouTube clips of the rundownsun showcase at the Cobalt last Wednesday.

The Bastion Mews (that's me rockin' the vintage 12" Powerbook)



flatgrey



Mental!
New connect_icut LP July 1st 2008
Here's the draft press release text for the forthcoming connect_icut LP. I've already sent out some test pressings with this draft attached. The actual records have arrived too and I'll start sending out full-art promos as soon as I get the artwork together (the image above is from the CDR promo I was giving out last year).

Mailing vinyl records is hideously expensive, so I'm going to have to limit the number of freebies I send out. I've already had quite a few requests for promos so anyone who wants to review the album should email me ASAP to ask for a copy. I'd also appreciate suggestions of how I can improve the press release text.

connect_icut They Showed Me the Secret Beaches
Released July 1st 2008
CSAF Records
CSAF102LP
33 1/3 RPM

Side A
1. Hot Logic
2. They Showed Me the Secret Beaches
3. Veronica Mars Season One
4. Fender Bells

Side B
1. Why We Cry
2. Drunk on Sophia
3. Two Greyhounds
4. Cantus in Memoriam Ian Forsyth

All songs written and performed by
Sam Macklin
© 2008 connect_icut. All rights reserved.

MANUFACTURED IN THE USA

Produced by connect_icut
Mastered by Joshua Stevenson

Nothing is wrong! All glitches are intentional!

PROMOTIONAL COPY:
NOT FOR RESALE

About the album
They Showed Me the Secret Beaches is the fourth album of experimental electronica from Anglo-Canadian artist Sam Macklin aka connect_icut.

It's by far the most melodic and structured connect_icut album to date – stand-out tracks “Hot Logic” and “Why We Cry” even approximate pop song structures.

But
Secret Beaches is still overloaded with connect_icut's signature audio chaos – indeed the title track and “Drunk on Sophia” reach new heights of shear sonic delirium.

Don't let the Dionysian frenzy fool you. This is an extremely precise recording, crafted over a period of two years using Cycling 74's Max/MSP programming interface.

As ever, connect_icut music aims to remove the distinctions between instinct and intellect, chaos and order, organic and synthetic, analogue and digital.

Hence the fact that this album of contemporary computer music is offered exclusively as a vinyl LP. (Note, though, that it is not being released in a limited edition.)

Anything but obvious,
Secret Beaches is destined to make you cast aside your prejudices about “laptop” music and submit to its irresistible tidal pull.

Recommended if you like
Oren Ambarchi, Ekkehard Ehlers, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, Oval, Rafael Toral.

Contact
interimlovers@yahoo.co.uk
www.connect-icut.com

Praise for connect_icut
“Macklin likes his computer and he likes pop music, taking pop sensibilities into the computer and vice versa... It would be too easy to say that connect_icut is a mere copy of those he admires as he surely knows how to add his own flavour to the mix.”
Frans de Waard, Bequeen

“Hesitant and tender glitchwork… pitched somewhere between Coil's
Musick to play in the Dark and Fennesz's modernist abstractions.”
Matt Ingram, woebot.com

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The Pale Saints on Snub TV, 1990
I used to love Snub TV, me. Looking at this footage now, it all seems hilariously naive - truly like something from another age. The interview section and the voice-over are genuinely laughable but the live footage is every bit as exciting to me now as it was when I first saw it at the age of (gulp) 16.

In fact, The Pale Saints' debut LP The Comforts of Madness still sounds quite extraordinarily assured and accomplished. It's one of three albums that are on heavy rotation in my household right now - the other two being Neil Young's Tonight's the Night and the new Portishead. Pretty impressive company for a minor shoegazing/proto-post-rock band to be keeping but much deserved. Respect is overdue.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Portishead - "Machine Gun"
Single of the year! Who's going to top this?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Bastion Mews at Fake Jazz
More information on this upcoming show....

"RUNDOWNSUN and FAKE JAZZ PRESENT:
A MODERN VERNAL RITE

rundownsun label showcase featuring:
IAN GREGORY JAMES
THE BASTION MEWS
FLATGREY
SICK BUILDINGS
and
TASKMASTER + THE RITA

With special surprise guests, the rundownsun sound system, give-aways!! and lots of tapes and vinyl for sale, including some label and non label rarities!!! Cheap entry, cheap beer, good times.

WED, MARCH 19th 2008. THE COBALT, 917 MAIN ST. VANCOUVER BC."

Not sure about times but I think the music at Fake Jazz usually lasts approximately from 10pm to 1AM.

What? 1AM?? On a school night???

I'm too old for this "punk rock" shit.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ubu Studies 101
When he goes for it he really goes for it. Not one but two extraordinary Carl Impostume posts about Pere Ubu. One day, these posts are going to be set texts for every American Studies degree. Shamefully, the only Ubu album I have is The Modern Dance (budget-line CD reissue, $11.98 at Zulu). Isn't that Matt Woebot's number one album of all time?

The only thing I'd really take issue with is Carl's explanation of/excuse for David Thomas' misogyny. I suppose there is some truth in the idea that the woman-hating aspects of classic/garage rock arose from the sexual repressiveness of post-war American society but I'm not sure that excuses Thomas calling an album Why I Hate Women.

Also the statement "there is no contradiction between aesthetic or formal radicalism and political conservatism" seems highly debatable. You can't just throw that out there and leave us hanging, Carl! Perhaps he should do a whole series of posts on Great Reactionaries of the 20th-Century Avant Garde.


I was reminded of another great Impostume moment by this post on Chris T-T's blog. Foolishly, I let the fact that Richard Dawkins sets my teeth on edge allow me to get in way over my head comments-wise. Just to clear things up: yes I do think that organized religion is a load of bollocks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two Home Videos
According to all the business-to-business marketing newsletters I read, "user generated content" and "online streaming video" are hot hot hot! So, let's get on with it then...



This one was taken On the Black Hill, as in the Bruce Chatwin book. It was shot when Krissie and I were in Herefordshire last summer. The Harsh Noise soundtrack was supplied by the wind blowing against the camera's built-in microphone. Take that Merzbow!

The part of the Black Hill where Krissie shot this is known as "The Cat's Back". My dad claims that he once did this walk accompanied by his outlandishly named mate Joe Cocker and said friend's pet cat.

The whole thing sounds pretty unlikely, I know, but the look on Dad's face when he described Cocker's cat pissing all over the back seat of his car really had the look of authenticity about it.

Talking of cats...





This one features The World's Most Spoiled Cat surveying her domain and enjoying her latest acquisition: The Fortress of Snoflitude! Kris hates it when I post videos of her baby-talking The Sneefler but how am I supposed to resist?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Third Heard
Saelan just beat me to this one and I must concur with everything he says. Nevertheless, Portishead's long-awaited Third album merits some additional attention. I won't be posting any MP3s from it though, for fear of the corporate retribution that would inevitably follow.

I don't normally file-share albums I'm interested in before they're released - preferring to wait for the vinyl, naturally - but the prospect of a new Portishead recording after all these years was just too intriguing to pass up.

So what's it like?

In theory, Third is actually a little predictable. Essentially, it updates Portishead's classic trip hop noir sound by tacking on elements from a bunch of musical styles that have come back into fashion during the band's decade-long hiatus (acid folk cooing, proggy synths, even a little stoner metal dronage).

In practice, Third is way, way more than the some of its parts. Even with the myriad hip influences on display, Portishead have never sounded less like anyone else and more like themselves.

Because of this, any attempts to describe the album are inevitably going to fall short. I mean, I can have a go at describing a couple of that stand-out tracks, if you want.

Ahem... well, "We Carry On" kind of sounds like Sonic Youth trying to play minimal techno. "Machine Gun" is something along the lines of Autechre fronted by Judy Dyble (nice obscure reference, I know, cheers.)

You'll see what little justice these descriptions do to the songs when you hear the album for yourself. Trust me, though, I'm not being lazy here - it really is very difficult to do Third justice with mere words.

Even calling it a triumphant return would be unfair because that's a platitude and Third deserves way more than platitudes. The first truly great album of 2008 has finally arrived. Well, it'll be arriving in about six weeks time, I guess.

Worth the wait, though.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Bastion Mews Live at Fake Jazz, March 19th
I'd completely forgotten about this! Here are the tentative details that I have so far.

flatgrey
The Bastion Mews
The Rita + Taskmaster
at Fake Jazz
The Cobalt, Vancouver
Wednesday, March 19th

Full, confirmed details nearer the time.

We'll be playing an extended version of a song from the forthcoming connect_icut download Let's Hear it for the Vague Blur. The song is called "The Left Hand of Darkness" and you can listen to it in the player below.