Thursday, December 30, 2010

G.K. Chesterson – The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)

"We deny the snobbish English assumption that the uneducated are the dangerous criminals. We remember the Roman Emperors. We remember the great poisoning princes of the Renaissance. We say that the most dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We say that the most dangerous criminal is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral people, and my heart goes out to them."

There are more than a few ways we might read G.K. Chesterson’s The Man Who Was Thursday. It’s at once a fantastical adventure story, a hard-boiled detective narrative of virtue gone down the rabbit hole, a didactic treatise on the nature of governmental philosophy and a more-than-disconcerting meditation on the terrifying power of the uncanny. Moreover, it’s a novel about unreality, about dreams and visions and politics and rogue hot air balloons. It’s about class, and God, and Europe, and our unknowable human future. It’s about the Devil, and deception, and storytelling, and the death of reason, and it’s about 100 pages long.

If this sounds hyperbolic, that’s because hyperbole is the only sufficient way to discuss a book that’s 20 feet tall. I mean it: this thing shoots fireballs from its twin cannon arms whilst performing stunning pirouettes against the icy moons of Jupiter. It’s deafening, a very gorgeous sort of racket. It’s your beloved, rosy-cheeked Grandpa tucking you in with a Bible story before crushing your windpipe with his bare hands.

More, still: it reads like Lewis Carroll dropping bunk acid with Jorge Luis Borges at church. It’s like a robot that’s a little too lifelike. The Man Who Was Thursday is like an episode of Dragnet where Joe Friday investigates a crime at the jaws of Hell only to realize he’s been at a carnival the entire time. This strange little book – more than the sum of its parts, more than a detective novel or an exercise in philosophical navel-gazing – is a celebration of the nonsensical, and an illumination of the all-too-real. Read it immediately.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Grace Jones - Nightclubbing (1981)

Although mainly considered androgynous, Grace Jones has more machismo than I do or most of my male friends, and maintains an air of unshakable confidence, which is as the forefront of her music and vocal delivery. The queen of underground funk followed up her well-received 4th album, Warm Leatherette, with this post-disco new wave classic in 1981. There’s no cloying sentimentality, just synthy grooves oozing with pop/reggae/afro-beat rhythms. The album is predominately like this aside from the sedated final track, “I’ve Done it Again” which is a nice, soothing closer. Two particular covers, “I’ve Seen That Face Before,” which carries a nice French feel with an accordion (bandoneon perhaps?) accompaniment, and her rendition of Iggy Pop and David Bowie’s Nightclubbing, were some of the more successful hits outside of my favorite track, the vintage futuristic funk jam, “Pull up to the bumper.” Nightclubbing was way ahead of its time and has aged well, still fresh today 30 years later.

Rating: 9/10

Link removed by "request"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Live for the future, long for the past

I’ve watched this movie twice in the past three days since discovering it. It was one of the only Wong Kar Wai films I hadn’t seen. Both times it has put me in an incredibly wistful mood. It’s a story of unrequited love, which tends to pull at my heart strings. Its hypnotic. It has a certain style. Its wonderfully acted. The cinematography is beautiful ( as expected with Wong Kar Wai). The soundtrack is gorgeous. It may even fall into my top 10 film list, but it takes time to to decide these things. Either way, its one of the most engrossing and engaging films I’ve seen in a while. I highly, highly recommend you watch this movie, especially if you are in a lovelorn mood. It will evoke feelings of lovers come and gone; remind you of things long buried deep within your subconscious. They say they don’t make films like they used to. But occasionally, that misconception is broken, and sometimes contemporary films surpass the classics. This is one such case. 10/10

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Mondays - Pills 'N' Thrills, and Bellyaches (1990)

Although forming in 1980, they didn’t really pick up momentum until ’85 with their freshman 12” forty five EP. John Peel was thoroughly impressed and invited them to do a session and from there on the sky was the limit. The sextet released their first album, Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) (phew) in 1987, to some fairly critical acclaim and reached number 4 on the UK indie charts. The band eventually played a major part in the Madchester scene of the early 90s with their groovy, sexy, debauching moiety of pop and rock and acid house, funk, and northern soul. Produced by trance guru Paul Oakenfold, the classic Pills 'N' Thrills, and Bellyaches is their most well known album and was released in 1990 at the height of their success (going platinum in the UK). Singles “Step On” and “Kinky Afro” were the two biggest singles from this album, but you could have easily chosen from a handful of hits to replace them. Their stay was hardly meteoric, however, as they followed up this with Yes, Please which also was fairly successful and their precursor, Bummed sold decently as well.

All in all, Happy Mondays make for good party music. It has just enough rock to not fall into raver kitsch, and has just enough electronic influences to make them stand out among their peers. I’m sure there’s better music out there to pop a tab of MDMA to (The KLF’s White Room comes immediately to mind), but there’s little doubt that this album was intended for consuming drugs and indulging in mindless youthful perversions - which - is a good thing.

Rating: 9/10


Monday, December 6, 2010

Yoshitaka Amano - Various works

Today I present to you some truly captivating work from my all time favorite artist, Yoshitaka Amano. The outcome of his influences (Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha come to mind, as well as traditional Asian art) produce fey and numinous results. Never failing to fill the canvas or paper with labyrinthine details, his works contain a saturnalia of imagery; kaleidoscopic colors often juxtaposed with nacreous gold pigment to create wondrous, lambent masterpieces. His sometimes nebulous backgrounds propel the ornate characters to the forefront of the page and he was a master of contrast, often applying chiaroscuro to his works. Amano is no stranger to working with different mediums and experimenting with a myriad of different styles, as shown by the voracity of his creative canon. For this, he has become known for his diversity and scenic avant-garde compositions. Without a doubt, he is one of the most prominent and influential contemporary artists alive today.

Orange Juice - Blue Boy

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gary Wilson - "Mary Had Brown Hair" (2005)

According to internet lore, a young Gary Wilson once received the following advice from John Cage: “If you aren’t irritating people, then you’re doing something wrong.” Gary apparently took these words to heart and, having since occupied his rightful throne as the dark prince of creep-funk anxiety, has accrued a reputation among those in the know of being one of the strangest and most rewarding players in the obtuse arena of outsider art.

Given that Wilson’s father, an IBM technician by trade, spent nights playing stand-up bass in a local lounge band, and that Gary himself was a proficient multi-instrumentalist by the time he entered primary school, the “outsider” label might seem a bit of a stretch; but a cursory listen to 2005’s Mary Had Brown Hair, Gary’s return from self-imposed obscurity and his first record in over 25 years – a deeply strange, obsessive and oftentimes troubling album filled with nasty hooks and pitched-up schizoid robot voices – reveals that there isn’t much about Gary Wilson’s paranoid brand of basement electro-funk that you might call “traditional.”

This album tends to garner the kind of criticism often hurled at similar weirdo bastions of the avant-garde: it’s alienating, obnoxious, and occasionally unlistenable. I’ll concede that this album isn’t for everybody, but supporting the record’s veneer of abstraction and repulsion is a bedrock of unstoppable groovescapes and sticky pop perfection. In the face of these foiled impulses, Mary Had Brown Hair prompts listeners to ask a very basic question of themselves: “Am I the kind of person this album is meant for?”

And the deduction process is surprisingly simple: If you’ve ever had the desire to move into your mom’s basement, make a dedicated commitment to spurn the daylight and its constant threat of humiliation, pour a bag of flour over your head and aggressively stalk an unresponsive lover while making everyone with whom you come in contact intensely uncomfortable – and, really, who hasn’t? – then, congratulations, this weird shit might just be meant for you.

Rating: 10/10


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

R. Stevie Moore - Suspicion

Felt - Ballad of the Band EP (1986)

Isn't this cover photo of Lawrence in his vintage fedora just splendid? I liked it so much I made a Felt-inspired painting based on the image. This “12 EP released in 1986 has a distinct dichotomy between its first two A-side and last two B-side songs and is probably my favorite Felt EP. The first two tracks are classic Felt, indie pop at its finest. “I Didn’t mean to Hurt You” carries a motif of apologetic acknowledgment of malfeasance, while “Ballad of the Band” is about the hardships of maintaining a band on the cusp of commercial success, but never attaining it and presumably about Maurice Deebank’s departure, considering this was released in late ’86 after Deebank had already left (my guess is Lawrence is referring to him in the early in the song “Where you been / haven’t seen you for weeks / you’ve been hanging out with / those Jesus freaks”) The marrow on the record, however, are the gorgeous Satie-esque piano pieces, scintillating with beauty and sadness, and subtly suggestive. They bring to mind lost memories, people and places long eaten by time and were, musically, another horizon tackled by the ever-eclectic band. I’m not sure if Lawrence himself is actually doing the piano work on these, but as Trains Above the City showed (which he didn’t have anything to with outside of titling the songs), its possible it was someone else who did the composing and arrangements. Whichever the case, this is a beautiful record with immense contrast, but which shines with equal measure on both sides.

Rating: 10/10


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Zazen Boys - I Don't Wanna Be With You

England's Glory - Legendary Lost Album (1973)

England’s Glory were the precursor to Peter Perrett’s The Only Ones. Although not widely recognized at the time, the unreleased Legendary Lost Album was recorded in 1973 and had a 1994 CD reissue long after The Only Ones achieved quasi-fame with their hit “Another Girl, Another Planet.” The two bands are not surprisingly quite alike, aside from the production, as the former was a tad bit looser and more lo-fi sounding. The inherent theme of girls and dope are still prominent in Perrett’s early material. If you’re a fan of the Velvet Underground, chances are you’ll dig England’s Glory. The guitar playing is almost identical and Perrett’s voice sounds uncannily similar to Lou Reed’s. NME’s Nick Kent was almost fooled into believing that England’s Glory’s demos were actually bootlegs of Velvet Underground B-sides and outtakes. If you didn’t know better, you might be duped as well.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Orange Juice - Rip it Up (1982)

Rip It Up is Orange Juice’s iconic and seminal sophomore LP. Released almost 30 years ago it has since influenced more bands than you can count on a handful of hands. The titular track was their biggest success as a group, rising to number 8 on the UK singles chart and is seriously one of the catchiest, funkiest, and jammin’est jams ever written. For those not familiar, their sound was a mix of post punk, new wave, funk, and disco behind Edwyn Collins ironic lyrics and low and deep tessitura. From start to finish, the album is a pretty eclectic record; from the super synthesized opening hit to the seamlessly blended African influences on “Hokoyo” to the almost country twang of the closing track, “Tenterhook.” In summary, a classic record from a classic group.

Rating: 9/10


Friday, November 12, 2010

Swans - White Light from the Mouth of Infinity (1991)

"There is no birth of consciousness without pain." - Carl Jung.

The cardinal rule with the Swans is that if you're in a good mood, they'll put you in bad mood, and if you're in a bad mood they'll put you in a good mood. In celebration of their first new material in almost 15 years, I'd like to share with you my favorite Swans album, White Light From the Mouth of Infinity. I'd forgotten how good this album was until it started raining today and I decided to bust it out. It's filled to the brim with ornate, obsidian gems that sound like black angels heralding songs from some banished, forsaken land after having just been exiled from heaven. The level of intensity, especially early on in the album is just through the fucking roof. Throughout their lengthy and caliginous career, Michael Gira and Jarboe made a name for themselves by hammering out dark and noisy post punk and later on more acoustic and experimental material with varying instrumentation. This record is unlike their harsher more abrasive early recordings, - its dramatic, dense, intense, and pluvious - definitely not an easy listening record. There are crescendos galore that will make you feel your blood pumping through your veins. It's fatalistic, epochal and almost comforting and cathartic in a nebulous way, despite its melancholy and violent nature. You can definitely tell that this was a transitional phase for the band's sound, as much of the album is polarized between this loudness and lushness and fantastic combinations of the two. I don't have enough good things to say about this album, besides that you should download it if you don't already have a copy.

Rating: 10/10


Cocteau Twins - Bluebeard

Monday, November 8, 2010

MIX: Sex Appeal


01) The Gist – Love at First Sight
02) Momus – Closer to You
03) Fanuelle – Dirty Loverstuff
04) Go-Kart Mozart – Summer is Here
05) The Freshies – Let’s Go Space City
06) Michel Polnareff – Hey You Woman
07) Chuck Edwards – Ooh La La
08) FX – Les Choces Ne Sont Pas Ce Quelles Semblant
09) Gary Wilson – As I Walk into the Night
10) Mtume – Juicy Fruit
11) Relaxed Muscle – Let it Ride
12) Way of the West – Cars Collide
13) Happy Mondays – Kuff Dam
14) The The – The Mercy Beat
15) Electronic – The Patience of a Saint
16) Sparks – More Than a Sex Machine
17) Paris Angels – Give Me More…Scope
18) The Lightning Seeds – Love Explosion


MIX: Baisers Cosmiques

I advertised this on my facebook as being “the best mix I’ve made in years” and potentially “music to get high and make out to,” however, its not the best mix I’ve made in years (I've made better) and aside from a few tracks which suited my initial intention, turned out to be “music to take a nap to.” So, sorry if I let anyone down. It's still decent and you can still get high and make out to this if you want, it’s just a little low key and slow paced. The title translates to "Cosmic Kisses" Hope you all enjoy.


01) Spectrum - Then I Just Drifted Away
02) Lansing-Dreiden - A Silent Agreement
03) Slowdive - Souvlaki Space Station
04) Michel Polnareff - Computer's Dream
05) Kate Bush - Egypt
06) R. Stevie Moore - I Go Into Your Mind
07) Felt - Spectral Morning
08) Maurice Deebank - So Serene
09) Nick Nicely - The Other Side
10) Ryuichi Sakamoto - Cesaria Evora
11) Simon Fisher Turner - Violet Crumble
12) Cocteau Twins and Harold Budd - Sea, Swallow Me
13) The KLF - Neptune


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Philip Roth - Portnoy's Complaint (1969)

"Come, someone, anyone, find me out and condemn me - I did the most terrible thing you can think of.: I took what I am not supposed to have! Chose pleasure for myself over duty to my loved ones! Please, catch me, incarcerate me, before God forbid I get away with it completely - and go out and do again something I actually like!"

The Fall (2006)

As you can see from the trailer below, this movie is visually astonishing. However, eye candy aside, it's quite captivating and powerful as well, not to mention terribly underrated (61% at Rotten Tomatoes). The plot revolves around Roy, a paralyzed stunt man who meets a mischievous young girl, Alexandria, who is staying at the same hospital as he is. Roy begins to tell her an ostensibly innocuous, yet epic saga in exchange for her getting him morphine so he can kill himself. Despite his ulterior motive, he develops a genuine affection for Alexandria, and she to him as well. The story is presented as Alexandria vividly imagines it, but eventually, fact and fantasy begin to blur and Roy's tale begins to intertwine with his own situation. Alexandria cleverly catches on and tries to save him and his story before its too late. It's a genuinely beautiful and haunting film, brilliantly directed by Tarsem (the mystic emerging from the fiery tree, the Balinese chant/dance, the whirling dervishes, oh my god), and featuring the best acting from a kid I've seen in a long time. "Tarsem's commentary indicates the film was made over a period of four years and incorporates footage shot in over 20 countries, including India, Indonesia (Bali), Italy, France, Spain, Namibia, China (PRC), and numerous others"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Chills - Kaleidoscope World (1986)

It’s hard to not be hyperbolic when talking about The Chills. In my mind, they’re a superior pop band than the Beatles, and Kaleidoscope World is one of the best compilation albums ever put out. But then again I have to confess that I’m avid Beatles hater, so maybe I’m a little biased. Heavenly Pop Hits is another great (and aptly titled) compilation of theirs, but I think Kaleidoscope World has a bit more range and personality. From hearty pop to punk, from vivid, sunny choruses (“Kaleidoscope World,” “Doledrums,” “I Love My Leather Jacket”) to darker, more stygian sounds (“Whole Weird World,” “Dream by Dream,” “The Great Escape”), this collection of early singles captures the subtly of Martin Phillips’ and crew’s diverse and unique ferocity. Sometimes lead by jangly guitar playing, other times with organ melodies at their songwriting forefront. The album goes all over, but you always get the feeling that you’re listening distinctly to the Chills mainly because of Phillips’ subdued vocals, engaging lyrics, and catchy arrangements. If you’re new to The Chills, or if you’re only slightly familiar, this compilation is a must have for all; highly recommended stuff.

Rating: 9.5/10


Updates, or lack of

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. It's been midterms week for me, so I've been swamped with studying and schoolwork and all that fun (read: tedious) academic stuff. Also, my internet connection is still pretty shoddy. I'm working on getting that fixed, but for the time being bear with me on the uploads - I'll get it 'em up as soon as I can.

The good news, however, is that Bigger Splashes has a new team member, good friend, seasoned blogger, and man of exquisite taste, Jezy Gray. We have some plans for the future, involving podcasts and eventually (nerdy, awkward) live broadcasts, but more to come as that develops. Until then, keep reading and listening; we'll keep posting.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

– Ira Glass

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms (1980)

I came across Crazy Rhythms in a coughing fit of serendipity during my Junior year of college. I was sifting through the university’s music library in a fruitless pursuit of some material by The Freshies, when I happened across a charming sky blue album cover with four goofy-looking white guys smirking knowingly back at me. I knew nothing of the critical fawnery this album had inspired over 30 years ago; I was going off little more than a dumb gut reaction to some interesting artwork and a vague familiarity with the name. And that title, Crazy Rhythms – how could I not be a little curious?

It turns out that happenchance wins out again, because this is the kind of album that inspires genuine thanks for your luckily-aligned musical stars. The Feelies’ 1980 debut is at once maniacally restless and unfailingly well-mannered. The constant momentum of the band’s frenzied rhythm section, composed of two full drum kits and an exhaustive arsenal of auxiliary percussion, lays the framework for a viscerally exciting record filled with equal measures of patient slow-burners and momentous ruckuses.

That said, Crazy Rhythms doesn’t play hard to get. Each song, from the jittery in-and-out pop gem “Fa Cé-La,” to the nearly instrumental and all-around ass kicker “Raised Eyebrows,” are all instantly likeable. Somehow the record’s competing dynamics never seem engaged in a shouting match with each other; they sound impossibly cohesive, always operating in conjunction rather than competing for space, even as Glenn Mercer mumble-croons about “The Boy with Perpetual Nervousness” over a seasoned layer of busy – nay, crazy – rhythms and bright, jangle-buzzed guitars.

You could say that these nine muscular pop songs sound like The Modern Lovers trying to break out of an afro-beat drum circle, or that they’re an early nod to the rash of nice-guy alt-rock that populated much of the early-to-mid-90’s. But the safest thing to say about this album is that it is consistently forward-looking. It’s brainy, but not egg headed; accessible, but far from pedestrian. And now seems a better time than any to throw some well-deserved bloglight at Crazy Rhythms, considering last week’s press release announcing that Bar/None will be the proud home of the newly-reunited Feelies’ first album in nearly 20 years. This will be the band’s first release featuring the full original line-up since 1980. Get excited and keep your ear to the grindstone.

Rating: 9/10


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Stranglers - The Collection 1977-1982

This fantastic and definitive compilation of The Stranglers covers their essential jams from 1977-1982 (before they turned into a cheesy new wave group), and is rock 'n roll at its finest. They always had a modicum of eccentricity to their otherwise stringent approach to punk rock, always branching out to new horizons of sound, never sitting on one singular genre for too long. This compendium always manages to get my adrenaline pumping; its exorbitant and compelling in the best of ways. The addition of the prominent keyboard in their work adds greatly to the mighty draconian guitar ensemble of Hugh Cornwell, Hans Wärmling, and Jean-Jacques Burnel (on bass) as well as the tight drumming by Jet Black. It's essentially pop music with a rock attitude; its a furiously unique blend. Their cover of "Walk on By" is a million times better than the original, and breaks your heart and has you rocking out simultaneously, which can't be said for many songs. "Waltzin' Black" sounds like Halloween music from outer space, which leads into two of my favorites on The Collection, "Something Better Change" and then "Nice 'N Sleazy." The latter few tracks from La Folie are slower and more melodic, but memorable and a great way to close this wonderful anthology. "Never a frown, with golden brown." Classic.

Rating: 10/10


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ernest Becker - The Denial of Death (1973)

This is my bible. It's also probably the most all-encompassing book on psychology, philosophy and anthropology ever written. To quote an Upright Citizens Brigade episode, its like staring into "a bucket of unmitigated, unadulterated, immutable truth"

"What are we to make of a creation in which the routine activity is for organisms to be tearing others apart with teeth of all types - biting, grinding flesh, plant stalks, bones between molars, pushing the pulp greedily down the gullet with delight, incorporating its essence into one's own organization, and then excreting with foul stench and gasses the residue. Everyone reaching out to incorporate others who are edible to him. The mosquitoes bloating themselves on blood, the maggots, the killer-bees attacking with a fury and a demonism, sharks continuing to tear and swallow while their own innards are being torn out - not to mention the daily dismemberment and slaughter in "natural" accidents of all types: an earthquake buries alive 70 thousand bodies in Peru, automobiles makes a pyramid heap of over 50 thousand a year in the U.S. alone, a tidal wave washes over a quarter of a million in the Indian Ocean. Creation is a nightmare spectacular taking place on a planet that has been soaked for hundreds of years in the blood of all its creatures. The soberest conclusion that we could make about what has actually been taking place on the planet for about three billion years is that it is being turned into a vast pit of fertilizer. But the sun distracts our attention, always baking the blood dry, making things grow over it, and with its warmth giving the hope that comes with the organism's comfort and expansiveness. 'Questo sol m'arde, e questo m'innamore,' [The sun burns me, and this enchants me] as Michelangelo put it."

Pulp - Separations (1992)

Separations is Jarvis’ triumphant return after a 6 year recording hiatus. Since his last album, Freaks (which is veritably the worst Pulp LP), he returned with more theatrical sensibilities and began to play around with the disco inspired sounds which would later develop and lead him to Brit-pop stardom. In my opinion, this is one of his most intense and sexually charged albums. Songs such opening track “Love is Blind,” “My Legendary Girlfriend,” and “Death II” have Jarvis howling over the building rising action and bursting into bellowing climaxes.

This celebratory entry into the Pulp canon lies somewhere between melancholic and lascivious, and definitely makes up for the mediocre Freaks, while paving the way for his classics to come.

Rating: 9/10


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

McCarthy - Banking, Violence And The Inner Life Today (1990)

20 years later and their messages are still just as relevant and inspirational as they were when this album was first released in 1990, if not more so. Sadly, not much has changed in the capitalist regime that’s been in control of the world for several decades now. If anything, we lie in the midst of an abysmal nadir with a large majority of the world in a distressing economic crisis and on the verge of financial collapse, despite what our western world facade might insist.

McCarthy was characterized by their politically driven pop, and they’re the only band that I’ve heard to fuse the two so rigorously and with such effect. With song titles like “And Tomorrow the Stock Exchange Will be the Human Race,” Use a Bank, I’d Rather Die,” and “Get a Knife Between Your Teeth” there’s little ambiguity as to what their political stance was. Coupling an equipoise of rhapsodic harmonies with adroit political agendas, McCarthy was out to prove that the guitar is indeed mightier than the sword. Unfortunately, they never achieved wide-spread success, so their message fell short, despite being a passionate and virtuous one.

Rating: 8/10


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fred Frith - Cheap at Half the Price (1983)

When I was down in Austin for South by Southwest a few years back, my friend Lance lost his wallet at End of an Ear records. While he was inquiring about the possible location of his wallet, I struck up a conversation one of the dudes at End of an Ear, and we ended up trading CDs. I gave him a copy of Flaming Tunes, and he gave me a compilation he had made called “demon pop.” The guy was borderline obsessed with Fred Frith and even had a custom made Fred Frith sweater and told me about his band who was inspired by Frith. He just ranted to me about Frith for like 30 minutes about how he was one of the most innovative musicians of the century, and so on. Anyways, the cd the guy gave me had a bunch of Fred Frith stuff from his solo work to Art Bears to Henry Cow and was aptly titled. It was a weird one to say the least.

Aberrant and abstract, Cheap at Half the Price is a cornucopia of pandemonium, a saturnalia of strange sounds, but all within the pop proximity. It’s still very avant-garde, but easily his most accessible record with more traditional song structures than his usual improvisational and noisy oddball stuff. There are some really swell tracks on Cheap at Half the Price, such as “Some Clouds Do,” “Walking Song,” and “Absent Friends” among others. This album is definitely not for everybody, but his dark and exotic approach to avant-pop is interesting and goes nicely if you’re in the right mindstate.

Rating: 7/10


One of the more schizophrenic tracks on the record, from the Fred Frith documentary, Step Across the Border:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Blue Orchids - The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) (1982)

The Blue Orchids were a British band who arrived on the scene in 1980 and caught the attention of many prominent musicians and critics alike, including the great John Peel and punk poet John Cooper Clark who christened their name. The band was formed by Martin Bramah and Una Baines of The Fall alongside guitarist Rick Goldstraw, bassist Steve Toyne and drummer Ian Rogers and signed to Rough Trade. They released a couple of 7"s and an EP before Phillip Toby Toman, an ex-member of The Durutti Column replaced Rogers on the drums and recorded with them on their debut, The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain). Their sound was very similar to New Zealand acts such as The Clean and to a lesser extent early Chills and they had a vivacious espirit noted by a combination of post punk and pop that was fluent and progressive. The highlight track here is "Bad Education" with its organ driven melodies and clever lyrics. Overall, the album is an interesting foray into the realm of pop, which at the time was rather stale in the UK outside of what was happening with Cherry Red and a few other independent labels. Una Baines left the group after they split in '82 to form The Fates, who recorded a single rather folky, psychedelic gem, Furia.

Rating: 8.5/10


The moody, polished song in this video sounds nothing like what's on The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain), but its still pretty solid so I figured I'd post it anyways.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

For Against - Autocrat

Even As We Speak Discography

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, this classic Sarah Records band formed in 1986 and consisted of Matthew Love (guitar, banjo, vocals), Mary Wyer (vocals, guitar) and Rob Irwin (bass) joined later by Anita Raynor (drums, mandolin), Paul Clarke (guitar, vocals) and Julian Knowles (keyboards, production, guitar). Love did most of the song writing and man, could this guy write some joyous, supple pop songs. Lyrically, it was also presumably Love at the helm, and the band always had an astute and keen outlook, giving them a sophisticated quality. Their music was quite diversely influenced for a pop band, gallivanting between 70s inspired folk, funky electronica, to your standard Sarah Records twee sound. Their early Sarah singles and their humble beginnings found on A Three Minute Song is One Minute too Long are a little rough around the edges (especially vocally), but they all contain mirthful, merry melodies which enrich the songs nicely. The Feral Pop Frenzy LP is much more cohesive and with smoother production, opening with an unlikely intense prelude before hitting you hard with the power chords that keep on coming. Even As We Speak call to mind suburban days of sunshine and clear skies, birds chirping, squirrels frolicking and all the little things that encompass a perfect day. I would designate them as an intelligent "nice day" kind of band if I was forced to designate them as something. Collection includes all of their Sarah singles as well as one full length and a recently released compilation:

Sarah 37 - Nothing Ever Happens (1990)
Sarah 49 - One Step Forward (1991)
Sarah 59 - Beautiful Day (1991)
Sarah 79 - Blue Eyes Deceiving Me (1993)
Feral Pop Frenzy (1993)
A Three Minute Song is One Minute too Long (2007)


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Way of the West singles collection

Way of the West put out some damn great singles featuring up-tempo rhythms, funky bass lines, dancey hooks, and catchy lyrics that will make you want to bob, jog, jerk and jiggle your ass off. If you like dancing, just stop reading here and proceed straight to the link at the bottom. It's safe to say you'll enjoy it. Although, they never released any EPs or full lengths, they were pretty prosperous in the NYC club scene during the early 80s and released 6 singles, 4 of which are compiled here. "Don't Say it's Just for White Boys" was an underground hit of sorts, and has a nice and lean, but rather groovin' b-side. "Feel the Steel" has a brisk feel to it and some programmed echoing percussion that backs the track nicely. If you listen to these chronologically, you can kind of just close your eyes and pretend its an album. The songs sort of flow together, and would have made for a nice proper release. Collection includes:

Don't Say That It's Just for White Boys 12" (1980)
Drum (It's Just a March in Time) 7" (1981)
See You Shake 7" (1981)
Feel the Steel 12" (1984)

DOWNLOAD (re-upped)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Go-Kart Mozart Discography

Lawrence Hayward, one of the greatest and most under-appreciated musicians since the dawn of pop music. His history is an almost ironic one, as he should have achieved commercial success countless times, but fatefully never managed to take Felt above ground (which was probably for the best, as his fantastic and eccentric post-Felt career trajectory most likely wouldn't have happened otherwise). Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of Denim, and similar to the sounds found on Novelty Rock and Denim on Ice, came Lawrence's techno pastiche "hyper pop" outfit, clad in an array of layered synthesizers. Bordering on self parody, Go-Kart Mozart's wry and satirical lyrics touch on a broad range of random, goofy, self-aware topics. The songs themselves are short and spastic, are almost entirely electronic, unlike early Denim, which had a more guitar oriented sound. Both of these albums are indeed "novelty techno" as I've heard them dubbed, but they are really special records in my book. Tearing Up the Album Charts is probably the better of the two, but much like choosing your favorite child, its too difficult to say for sure. Fans of Felt and Denim - I speak of these albums in glowing tones - don't miss out on this.


Instant Wigwam and Igloo Mixture (1999)
Tearing Up The Album Charts (2005)


Wolfgang Press

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Orbital - Halcyon and On and On

There are hundreds of songs that make me nostalgic, and bring to mind a simpler, happier time, however, this particular song will forever encapsulate my childhood. I first heard it on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack, which I had on tape and I remember distinctly, around the age of 9 or 10, getting this strange, beautiful feeling that I couldn't figure out at the time, and still can't describe. I think the title of the track is the best description for the feeling that the song evokes, and for me my halcyon days existed during my early youth. I'd have miniature battles with cicada exoskeletons under my neighbors giant oak tree as sunlight filtered through the branches providing a tenebrism of luminaires for my little dramas. I'd also often climb that particular oak tree, each time attempting to ascend higher than before, and then seeing how high I could jump from. It's a miracle I didn't break a leg or an ankle. There was also a labyrinth of routes of fences in my cul de sac which I had memorized and allowed me to get to any of my friends' houses in the neighborhood in a matter of minutes by hopping a fence or two. Swimming in my pool, playing in the park, riding bikes, jumping on friends' trampolines, building lego sets in my room, playing sports out in the street; the days were interminably blissful. I recall being utterly fascinated with everything. My imagination soared at the slightest whim. I collected everything there was for a boy to collect and prided myself on my extensiveness of these collections. If there was ever a heaven, it existed during my childhood years. I dedicate this song to that period.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Psychedelic Afternoon

Monday, October 11, 2010

Boat Club - Caught the Breeze EP (2007)

Boat Club are a Balearic pop duo from Sweden. A quick peek at their band name, album title or EP's cover art, which is a photo of a seemingly endless seascape and dusky sky blending together on the horizon, gives you an idea of what their music sounds like. Their only release so far, Caught the Breeze, is like a tropical tinged version of The Wake's Here Comes Everybody - which in theory (and execution) is amazing. Although it's the same intelligent electronic yacht rock that has become somewhat of a trend as of late, and similar to what fellow genre mates The Tough Alliance, Air France, and The Embassy are doing, the only difference is that Andreas and Magnus are a step above their peers. It's not only the best in the genre, but I'd go as far as to say that its arguably the best and most enjoyable EP of the last decade. Bold statement, but once you listen, you may just agree. Their combination of breezy, easy going synths drift along with their uptempo beats and will make your ears happy. Andreas' vocals sound like he's kicked back on a reclining seat on a beach somewhere and someone stuck a microphone up to him while he's sipping a mimosa. Boat Club embody a general philosophy which I can get behind: beatitude - all the time, no less. Its a shame they've only released one six song EP, and haven't put out anything new in a while, as I'd love to hear a full album from these gents. Get on it, guys!

Rating: 10/10


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mr. Wright - Metropolitan (2004)

Mr. Wright is a fashionable gentleman, a "Fancy Man" in his own words. That's not to say he's conceited. He's no stranger to loneliness, self-doubt, broken hearts, regrets, rejections, disappointments, and unrequited love stories to name a few. In short, he's a savant of immense depth and he portrays life and love and pain brilliantly and poetically through his songs. Metropolitan is equal parts melancholic and hopeful, his songwriting undulates dramatically from tristful, saturnine umbras to uplifting ballads, soft and poppy. His lyrical skill is remarkable and his words lie at the core of the songs themselves, simple enough, yet written on par with the lyrics of a great poet. "Anna Karina" especially, breaks my heart into a million pieces, every time. This is a truly earnest and endearing album that should be heard by all. Once again, I fully endorse this man and you should support him and buy his stuff on Itunes.

Note: Unfortunately, before I zipped this, I didn't add the track numbers to the song titles so the album is out of order. I can't stress enough how important it is to listen to this as it was originally intended. Here's the correct track listing:

1. North West Six
2. Crossing Shoot Up Hill
3. Cats Eyes
4. Anna Karina
5. Goodbye Baby
6. Hello World
7. Metropolitan
8. Autumn Sun
9. Over Your Rainbow
10. Future Love City
11. Underground

Rating: 9.5/10


Denis Johnson - Jesus' Son (1992)

"I’d been staying at the Holiday Inn with my girlfriend, honestly the most beautiful woman I’d even known, for three days under a phony name, shooting heroin. We made love in the bed, ate steaks at the restaurant, shot up in the john, puked, cried, accused one another, begged of one another, forgave, promised, and carried one another to heaven."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tracey Emin - You Should Have Loved Me

VIDEO ART - Oliver Laric - Touch My Body

"For this work, Laric edited out all the visual information from Mariah Carey's video Touch My Body (Green Screen Version) except the singer's image, and added in a green screen background, allowing anyone to manipulate the video as they wish."

Really interesting stuff. Here are just a few results:

I'm back! (...kind of)

To begin with, I have internet again, finally! Shoddy, undependable, leeched internet, but still, internet nevertheless. I can't really upload just yet until I get a more stable connection, however I'll still be posting stuff regularly. I've also just started my first semester at school so I may not be posting as frequently, but I will do my best to keep the wheels spinnin'

Now. First thing I want to do is laud an outstanding mix by the guys over at Sqwelsch. This is seriously one of the most bangin' mixes I've ever come across. Which is a bold statement but it really is that good. Its flawlessly fluid and orbits around a seemingly singular beat. It's just really well done and I've had it on repeat for the past couple weeks and it has yet to show any signs of wear. You can download it here. It's well worth your time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the road again....but I'll be back

I'm moving to my new place tomorrow so I'll be without internet for a while and thus Bigger Splashes will be on a temporary hiatus until I get service hooked up there. In the meantime, check out my friends over at Hamhock's International Time Machine. They update frequently with plenty of auspicious and funky jams for y'all to vibe with. See you lads and lasses soon.

Simon Fisher Turner - The Many Moods of Simon Turner (1993)

Simon Turner, although not widely known, has lent his talents to many great film scores and lies in the upper echelon when it comes to crafting atmospheric filmic ambience. His work with Derek Jarman's final film, Blue, is just astonishing and the way his notes linger and resonate captures the poignant inflection of Jarman's death bed sentiments strikingly and flawlessly. The "moods" on this particular compilation are redolent and elicit foreign but strangely familiar emotions from deep within the psyche, specifically on more ambient tracks such as "Isles of Spice," "Exotic Hats," and "Sloane Square" oscillating from one colorful timbre to the next. The beginning of "Colours of my Life" suggests a vast cold room of starch white, with nothing but walls and silence; a chapel for contemplation. As the song progresses, echoing percussion enters like pillars rising forth adding weight to the empty space. Soon, with another subtle metamorphosis, the percussion gives way to sparse shimmering piano notes and flowery vines entwine the pillars giving color and life to the blankness before a wave of sound erases the sonic canvas and the recurring lyric "silence" is spoken one final time before "Violet Crumble" begins its melodic closing. It's a very powerful album from start to finish, and one of my favorites to relax and paint to.

Rating: 10/10


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Sea Urchins - Stardust (1992)

There two kinds of pop in the world: Sarah Records pop... and everything else. Perhaps that's a ridiculous over- simplification, but it's how I see things. Maybe the reason for this is that Sarah's sound has always been so insular, so compact. Sarah bands had a distinct style and always existed parallel to the label itself and The Sea Urchins, much like their fellow label mates The Orchids, are a perfect example of this. Their highly sought after single, Pristine Christine was the first ever Sarah release and encompassed the Sarah sound, which was essentially just C86-esque indie pop with sunny melodies and lovelorn lyrics. I almost feel as if I'm posting this album several months too late in the year as its a perfect summer record. However, songs like "Cling Film," "Summershine," and "Everglades" are just radiating sunlight themselves, so they can accommodate and bring a little warmth to any time of the year.

Rating: 8.5/10


Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita (1955)

"I have reserved for the conclusion of my "Annabel" phase the account of our unsuccessful first tryst. One night, she managed to deceive the vicious vigilance of her family. In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks of sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards-presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us, between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs, her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half pleasure, half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I, and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft, drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist, and slackened again and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails, I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion."

The Other Two - The Other Two and You (1993)

The Other Two consisted of Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order. Their name, which was a play on their part in their previous band (after the other members went on to pursue solo projects), saw minor success in the dance scene of the early 90s due to their two singles, "Tasty Fish," and "Selfish." They not surprisingly fashioned a sound not too dissimilar from fellow New Order compatriot Bernard Sumner's band, Electronic, although more in the vein of the dreamy synth pop of Strawberry Switchblade and early Saint Etienne. The aft portion of the album dabbles with more progressive sounds and occasionally consists of a fusion between jungle techno and house (or something like that...I'm not an expert on electronic sub-genres), and is entirely unlike the "hit" material featured on the first half. They weren't breaking any new ground, but the album is solid and the download is worth it for the singles alone (videos featured below). More good music to feel good to.

Rating: 7.5/10


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dr. Osamu Kitajima - FM Shrine

Peter Perrett in The One - Woke Up Sticky (1996)

Peter Perrett has never been a man of moderation. However, despite being a notorious roue and reprobate, despite his knack for indulgence, he has always been one of the more cultivated and endearing junkie rock stars of his generation. I think his music has always shown this even back in the early days with England's Glory; he's always had an eccentric, albeit self-centered persona. Known for his tendency to disappear, much like fellow rock icon (and fellow heroin/crack addict) Dan Treacy, Perrett would go into reclusive phases and vanish for years at at time, "spending most of the 80's in a bedroom he rarely left, heroin his only companion, physically deteriorating into a scuzzy, unkempt mess, sinking so low that (Johnny) Thunders himself felt obligated to give him a pep talk (imagine!)" No matter how high on the charts his one hit wonder ("Another Girl, Another Planet") rose, he always seemed on the fringe, doing his own thing. This was a rare quality for his kind who usually end up corralled and pushed around by record execs, wilting at the end of the road with a career gone sour (although fate and self-destructive decisions would eventually find him in such a position regardless).

Woke Up Sticky was Peter's harrowingly confessional reemergence, the gathering of his shit together; his heart on sleeve, woes exposed, and his guitar playing and song-writing at its finest. Lyrically Perrett is intellectual and sincere, while maintaining a level of rock 'n roll simplicity. The production is super clean throughout and doesn't sound the least bit sloppy like The Only Ones occasionally would. His cover of The Kink's "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" is so convincing and passionate if you didn't know better you'd think it was an original song. Standout songs like the title track, "The Shame of Being You," and "Shivers" are all parts of a staggeringly vivacious and heartfelt whole, a beautiful medley of anger and love, a testimony to life itself. Welcome the return of that shivery feeling.

Rating: 9.5/10

DOWNLOAD (Includes both the EP and the LP of the same name)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Momus - The Sensation of Orgasm

...and speaking of Momus...

Pulp - I Spy

The best ode to infidelity since Momus' "Hairstyle of the Devil."

Michel Polnareff - Fame à la Mode (1975)

The story of Michel Polnareff is a tempestuous one lined with tragedy, troubles, and tribulations, but with a triumphant and inspirational ending. He was a French singer-songwriter who at one point was the most popular, exalted musician in France, however a series of stochastic misfortunes intervened causing his career and life to suffer a massive downfall. His salacious image which consisted of his muscular build, bushy hair, signature large white sunglasses, and flamboyant clothing contributed to both to his success and partially his eventual exile. His attitude which was rooted in his music was virile and passionate, and added to his controversy at the time.

In 1970, after he had put out 2 records already, his close friend Lucien Morisse committed suicide. This upset him gravely and his depression sequestered him in Paris for many months. After a while his morale improved, but he began to have vision problems and was forced to wear his thick, dark sunglasses almost all the time. In 1972, his problems escalated further. A promotional ad showed his naked rear, causing a scandal and resulting in censorship and lawsuits. Finally in the midst of a world tour, his manager, Bernard Seneau, ran off with all of his money. The combination of this, the death of his mother and the inability to pay his debts caused him to leave France where he began an anonymous life in the States. Things seemed hopeless and bleak for Polnareff at that particular juncture.

However, after a brief period of inactivity he began recording again and produced one of his best, most ardent and personal albums, Fame à la Mode. The sincerity of songs like "Wandering Man" and "So Long Beauty" are heartbreaking and obviously influenced by his own calamities. The beautiful thing about these songs is that instead of whinging about his adversities, he transforms them into beautiful poetical ballads. Later in 1976 he composed the soundtrack for the film Lipstick and in 1978 he released another album, Coucou me Revoilou. However, it wasn't until 1981 with the release of Bulles, that he recaptured the hearts of the French public, selling 800,000 copies and getting generous playtime on French radio. In 1989 he moved back to France and continued recording albums all to great success. This sense of triumph is prevalent throughout all of Polnareff's music. Its a powerful testament to the human soul and its willingness to push on, to overcome obstacles, and the refusal to succumb even through the darkest times.

Rating: 8.5/10


Sunday, September 19, 2010


More here

Paris Angels complete discography

Paris Angels were a 7-piece who briefly illuminated the Madchester scene in the early 90s and are tied with the Happy Mondays as my favorite Madchester band. Rhapsodic and groovy electronic, combining pop and dance, accentuated with that distinguishable late 80s, early 90s indie guitar sound, their style is fetching and chic, even by today's standards (or rather especially by today's standards, considering how tame, sterile and contrived most pop music has been recently). This collection which I nabbed from the blokes over at The Power of Independent Trucking, has all of their singles (with some great extended / instrumental remixes) and their only LP which features a few songs from the singles as well as a handful of new recordings. So bust out your euphoric empathogens, get your disco ball spinning, and get ready to groove.

Collection features:

Home (compilation, 1989)
Perfume (single, 1990)
Scope (single, 1990)
Oh Yes (single, 1991)
Perfume (single, virgin issue, 1991)
Sundew (LP, 1991)
Fade (single, 1991)


Friday, September 17, 2010

Bloodless Pharaohs - Brian Setzer and the Bloodless Pharaohs (1996)

It was once sung, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." Unfortunately for the world (or at least for those of us with decent taste), Brian Setzer did neither of these as far as his musical career was concerned. Instead he trudged on and began to make lamer and lamer music as the years passed. Sometimes it's boggling how someone gets from point A to point B, or to be more precise from the '78-'79 Bloodless Pharaohs recordings to the rockabilly bullshit of The Stray Cats (OR to point C, which in this case would be the the joke that was The Brian Setzer Orchestra). Perhaps its a matter of poor influences. Perhaps Dave Edmunds is to blame. Whichever the case, Setzer fell off rather early in his career - once he started putting eyeliner on it was all downhill as far as good taste is concerned. Anyways, enough with the smack talkin', let's talk about why this particular band of his rocked.

The Bloodless Pharaohs were an ephemeral, but seminal band in the underground New York rock scene in the late 70s. A major part of the awesomeness of the band had something to do with a man named Ken Kinnally, whose organ, Wurlitzer electric piano and cavernous vocals made him a key component of the group and complemented Setzer's more than adequate guitar playing quite well.

Because of a similar setup and the intense vocals, they often sounded like a stripped down version of The Stranglers. Their sound alternated between deranged, almost tyrannical circus rock (a la Social Climbers, which I talked about a few posts back), to dark, hypnotic new wave with a raw, unrelenting punk attitude. It's all very aggressive, although, much like the Stranglers, not as loud as you might expect. The high point of the album for me is the 11 minute opus,"The Cells" which gets pretty crazy midway through, then proceeds to climb and climb until exploding into a fountain of cinders at the finale. Other songs worth noting are "Industrial Nancy," "Nowhere Fast," "Stella by Strobelight," "Boys Having Babies," and "Bloodless Pharaoh." - all fantastic tracks. Yeah, the songs sound like like were recorded in someone's garage party, and yeah even as a comp, its no masterpiece, but it sure as hell will rock your face off, and sometimes that's all that matters.

Rating: 8.5/10