Thursday, 23 February 2012

Melocotón Ahumado

I may have mentioned how partial I am to a good cocktail once or twice in the past, and when it comes to such alcoholic delights, I tend to favour rum or gin based concoctions. But I recently tried and fell in love with a cocktail based on two things I'd never normally let near a cocktail, one of which I'd normally refuse to drink just on principle. The two drinks in question are single malt whisky, and a heavily peated one at that (a drink which, under normal circumstances, should only be mixed with very pure water*) and vanilla cognac. Yes, I did say vanilla cognac. I know, it sounds fucking horrible**, and it is, on its own anyway. But mixed with the right whisky and one more ingredient some form of alcoholic alchemy occurs and you end up with something that's both deliciously smoky-sweet and has a boozy kick that would make Bruce Lee piss himself with fear.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, may I present the recipe for the most unexpectedly, uncannily delicious drink you've never tasted: The Smoky Peach.

2 parts vanilla cognac***
1 part peaty as all hell single malt§ (if over 50%abv use a little less)
Dash of peach bitters

Mix the cognac and whisky. Add bitters. Stir. Add ice. That's it. Fucking wonderful, like a honeyed alcoholic barbecue. And remember, on no account drink the vanilla cognac on it's own, no matter how drunk you already are.

Oh, and one more thing, easy on the bitters or you will fuck it up.

*Some people seem to think putting water into whisky dilutes the taste. When it's a 65% cask-strength bastard it enables you to actually taste the fucker properly.

**That's the polite version. It's actually much worse than you think. Like collecting Satan's arsecrack sweat and distilling it before mixing it with saccharine. Actually worse than that fucking "cherry-infused" abomination Jim Beam make. I can't remember what it's called, it's just too traumatic.

***Make sure it's real vanilla in there.

§Some form of Ardbeg or the peated Penderyn§§ or... I could go on for hours.

§§The only Welsh whiskey. Fucking awesome stuff. Particularly the madeira cask version. Try it as soon as you see it.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Los Frutos Secos

This record, Muzika Electronic, is the fucking nuts, no two ways about it. A veritable compendium of squelchy, bleepy, clonking loveliness which presses so many of my buttons I feel like a drum machine. Frak, for it is they, have created the finest slab of electro-goo I've heard for ages, and Digitalis are to be congratulated not only for releasing it, but pressing it on the most lurid bright green vinyl I've ever clocked eyes on. I'm not even listening to it at the moment, but I'm almost bouncing in my seat just thinking about it. So what does this bugger sound like then?

Fucking brilliant is what. It's practically everything I love about dance music all rolled up into one exceedingly toothsome cake of fun. Take some proper acid house, stir in a big lump of Detroit techno and a soupçon of new beat, add a dash of Blue Monday/Video 586 style New Order, whizz in a blender with some euro minimal synth stylings and some Krautrocky playfulness, and garnish liberally with Radiophonic sprinkles. And, this is one of the most perfectly cut, beautiful sounding records I've heard in a fucking long time. And it's very, very green indeed. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a copy if you've got a dancing bone in yr body, I guarantee you'll fucking love it. I'd write more but I need to listen to it again. And probably dance like a tit.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


The new Terry Riley album is fucking shit. It's an absolute, unmitigated ballbag of a record, and the only reason for releasing it that I can see is that Terry Riley's name on the cover might make a few bob for the label (Tzadik). It's being cynically touted as a triumphant return to his 60s/70s methods, all modal riffs and looong looping delays, shifting patterns of phrase and phase, and while it's methodology is superficially similar, the result is not. Ladies and gentlemen, this is most definitely not the mixture of In C and Persian Surgery Dervishes that the hype seems to promise, but what feels like a pitiful attempt to cash in on the popularity of 60s/70s minimalism by going back to a compositional style TR abandoned over 20 years ago and whacking out almost two fucking hours of parping toss utterly lacking in conception, conviction or purpose, and is possibly the most pointless fucking piece of music I've endured in many years. It's certainly the most boring.

It ultimately falls flat on it's face in two main areas; sonically and musically. Musically this adds nothing to his body of work, coming across as a cynical, slapdash rehashing of old tropes, especially in the light of where other artists have taken these ideas in the previous forty-odd years, twisting the Riley methodology into unexpected new shapes and making it as much if not more a part of popular music practice as the avant-garde milieu which spawned it. Riley's influence is everywhere these days, has been for a long time now, and that's what I find so puzzling about this record; is it just an exercise in nostalgia, the sound of an old stoner having some fun, or an attempt to reclaim, to reassert ownership or provenance of a process for making music?

I can't imagine it's the latter. Terry Riley just isn't that sort of über tight-assed academic composer, he's way too much of a hippy and he's always been way too inclusive in his worldview and musical outlook to suddenly get all uppity about getting ripped off forty-odd years down the line. So, if not a fit of artistic control-freakery then what about the other angles? Nostalgia? Fuck I hope not, 'cos there's no worse reason to make a record than to relive past glories as that's either the subconscious passive-agressive equivalent of the above or wanking in the mirror. So, discounting those unedifying propositions, we're left with the old stoner hypothesis, which is fine in and of itself, I mean, that's how I (and an awful lot of other musicians) practice at home, but it doesn't necessarily lead to music anyone else would need or want to hear...

And now we get to the even bigger problem with Aleph. It sounds like crap. Not lo-fi, just crap. Sterile and digital and cold in all the wrong ways*. And it sounds this way for two reasons: 1. the horrible fucking preset synth sounds which sound exactly like a shit cheapo 80s rack module but apparently derive from a synth which cost 5 grand when new** which Mr Riley has tuned to a particularly inappropriate form of just intonation*** using some of the most unconvincing simulations of real instruments I've ever experienced (and this isn't from a modern perspective, the technology was in place and easily cheap enough to achieve infinitely superior results years before this was recorded), which in tandem with the circumstances of recording results in a thin, shrill, genuinely unpleasant acoustic completely at odds with the deep, detailed sonic environment music of this type deserves.

And what were those circumstances? Turns out this record was recorded as an mp3. A format so completely inappropriate to music so heavily dependent on tuning and harmonic relationships because in compressing the file from it's raw form the data that's lost cannot but be essential to the correct presentation of the music, every sliver of 1s and 0s sliced away thinning the frequency soup still further until all y're left with is this unsatisfying, unwholesome gruel. You can master and remaster all you like, and believe me they've tried, but you can't replace what was never there in the first place, and I don't want to listen to a sketch or a storyboard, I want the whole fucking thing.

The real shame? If this had been recorded using better instruments, on a medium more suited to the music, it would probably have been fucking brilliant. But it wasn't, and it isn't.

*I should point out here that I'm not the analogue fetishist that many think I am, what I insist on is the appropriateness of the gear to the sound that is sought. The only question that should be asked of a mix is does it sound right?

**Korg Triton Studio 88. Very powerful, very shit.

***Can't be arsed to go into the maths at the mo'. I finished writing several thousand hard-fought words on non-standard analysis last week and would like a couple of mathematically minimal weeks to decompress.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Bestias Acuática Excelente Uno Y Dos: El Cerdos Del Mar

I think it's fair to say that aquatic bacon is not going to catch on.

And if anyone still doubts that more fucked-up shit lives in the sea than in the most fevered imagination, check out this Lovecraftian monstrosity...

Sea Pigs!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Play this loud. Really fucking loud. Because this is how happy I am right now. I'll tell you why in a bit. Right now my brain feels like John Fogerty's throat. In a really, really good way.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

La Lucha Del Funky Brujos

Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh, Köhntarkösz and Üdü Ẁüdü. Three albums which prove that my theory that the brilliance of any Magma LP is in direct proportion to the number of umlauts and whatnot in their given titles. But, towering citadels of idiot genius those LPs may be, sometimes you need funky, moogy Magma. Specifically, you need Attahk, the most foolish of the 70s albums, and within its Giger on a spliff-break cover art* you will find this beauty, probably the only piece of cyberdiscoprog about wizards battling a demon sung in an invented language**...

*Which, disappointingly, is the only 70s Magma album not to feature their distinctive logo, which shares its font with two of the other most 70s things ever, The Goodies and Spangles.

**Details here

Sunday, 5 February 2012

El Tejedor

This is fucking brilliant. I can't overstate how much of an influence John Martyn has had on my guitar playing. This may surprise some people, but bear with me, this will make sense when you've seen this fucking fantastic version of Skip James' I'd Rather Be The Devil, from 1973.

Bastard. That's just so fucking good. It doesn't matter how many times I hear that song, I'll never, ever tire of that echoplex guitar. And I'll happily and shamelessly rip it off wholesale when I'm in the mood, because unlike so many echo/loop pedal fiends who (consciously or otherwise) use the Göttsching/Hillage/Fripp/Pinhas style of looping and layering, John Martyn never wasn't much of a looper, preferring to use the percussive nature of the dying echoes along with what is possibly the greatest left hand of any guitarist I've ever seen to create a shifting, pulsing forward motion that has more in common with a conga player than the usual billowing tonefloat associated with heavy delay abusers. And that, in a nutshell, is why I love his guitar so much, he took the same tools as so many other contemporary musicians, went completely his own way with them, and in the process created a whole new perspective with them, one which was decidedly not ambient and slowly evolving, but simultaneously driving and fluid, so you don't hear the tapestry, you hear the shuttling of the loom, and trust me, that's way fucking harder to do.