It’s that slime again! The seventh dose of Spit ‘n’ Static! corrupted 1020 Radio again today, another hour of garbled synthpunk, juddering lo-fi experiments, and alien intrusions! 👽 👌
‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.’ C. S. Lewis
The terrible wrench of grief grips us all at some point in our lives, and if you’re lucky enough to have evaded its cold clasp it’s only a matter of time. In the throes of deep, profound loss, we desperately cling onto the fantasies whereby the bereavement that befell us had been averted, the gnawing pain of conversations never had finally granted in imaginary scenarios with the deceased. Humanity can get lost in its desperate need to wander in a world they want it to be, and this wounded escapism is understood all too well on the cover of Ghosteen, a picturesque yet artificial fairy tale landscape of white horses and a surrounding natural harmony of kitschy proportions. We know it’s a gaudy depiction, but maybe that’s what we want.
Casually announced last week in a response to a fan question, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 18th studio album Ghosteen (their second double album since 2004’s Abbatoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus) continues with the synth atmospheres first heard on 2013’s Push the Sky Away, but rids further of prominent melodies or rhythms to an even purer state of sonic reductionism. The first eight songs being ‘the children’ and the the final, lengthier three songs ‘the parents’, the abstract minimalism that swirls throughout is a softer, more gentle listen than it’s arguably discordant predecessor Skeleton Tree, erroneously considered to be his ‘grief’ album despite the songs written before the death of his son Arthur.
For a record consisting of mainly keys and strings, the Bad Seeds perform an astonishing act of imbuing each track with a subtle distinct flavour, from the enchanted mourn of ‘Bright Houses’ to the ethereal gospel of ‘Leviathan’, every song creates a winding, twisting traverse of the full spectrum of manifest grief. Its quiet moments are often it’s most rich, the eerie production that begins ‘Galleon Ship’ masters affecting simplicity as well as any of Nigel Godrich’s work on Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool. Cave stretches himself vocally too, reaching aching high notes on album opener ‘Spinning Song’, a far cry from the baritone he established on early Bad Seeds output.
Lyrically Cave is as strong as ever, but his poetry shines as well as pangs on the final act. The title track ‘Ghosteen”s devastating fourth verse utilises the childlike picture of ‘mama, papa, and baby bear’, mirroring the fantasy of the album’s artwork, an essential part of storytelling bonding between parent and child. What could have been cloying in a lesser songwriter’s hands, is an acutely painful consolidation of the joy observed in a child’s playing, to its sudden stinging absence. The wisdom displayed throughout the record and the insight into the universal psychology of grief is distilled on the final musing of ‘Fireflies’: ‘we are here, and you are where you are’.
Few artists of Nick Cave’s generation are in his league, proving time and again the consummate artist he is. On the Bad Seeds 18th album, they have truly delivered an indispensable entry in their towering body of work, a deeply moving and stirring statement that turns deep pain into something honest, knowing, and beautiful.
The usual minimal-synth vibes hit Bristol’s Noods Radio for the ninth time, including a little smattering of Irish bedroom experiments, a great Nena song which isn’t 99 Red Balloons, and some Soviet shoegaze to boot! 🎹 ❄️ 👌
David Loca is a busy man. With six albums and a plethora of EPs and collaborations behind him across ten years, it’s an astonishing feat that his seventh studio album under the Part Time moniker is as rich and brimming with sunny psych vigour as much as it does.
Modern History is a 19 track toy box of a record, a collage of lo-fi experiments all held together by silky enchanted production in the vein of Aerial Pink or Puro Instinct. Sharing similarities with Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star, there’s a wealth of material which deftly balances scope with a breezy buoyancy.
Expert, catchy-as-hell pop belies the troubled reflections on the glistening ‘Everyone’s Got a Gun’, a distillation of contemporary unease and anxiety that haunts American society with a hazy hue of radiant keys and jerky bass. An affection for childlike simplicity is present on the wistful ‘The Adventures of Sally the Sea Turtle, a gentle sing-a-long replete with whistles and the ocean shore which could easily have been one of Lennon’s more playful cuts off The White Album.
The various skits and instrumentals sprinkled throughout are equally as beguiling. The chunky pound of ‘Famously Lame’ swaggers confidently with electro-pomp, whereas the sprightly ‘Mints’ glows with dreamy synths and taut drum machines. Each jam is a little vignette, sketches both lush yet effortlessly captured.
With Part Time arguably being one of the progenitors of the new wave of West Coast psyche artists, Modern History is another ethereal and fantastic record from David Loca which enthrals with its expert bedroom psychedelia.
The 1990s was that special moment in video game soundtracks, that sweet spot between 16bit chiptunes and the modern demand of Hollywood scores, whereby the giant leap was made in musical possibilities yet were still able to sound like, well, videogames.
These are the tunes that are seared into the psyche of any millennial more than pop music ever could. The eerie throbs of Oddworld, knicker staining gothic hellscapes of Nightmare Creatures, MIDI prog rock of Final Fantasy VII, all soundtracks to hours and hours of time gloriously wasted.
Plugin ‘n’ play! 🎮 👌
Bristol’s 1020 Radio kindly let me curate the fourth entry in their residents Spotify playlist series!
There’s no theme, no agenda, just 25 tracks that were in my gut at the moment of collation. Old loves, new hits, and artists covered in recent HoS posts, ranging from femme punk, goth-pop, Kubrick soundtracks, and Germanic EBM!
Sink yer teeth in! 👌
The Spit ‘n’ Static! signal corrupted the 1020 Radio studio again next week, the usual sludge of synthpunk, avant-weird jams and eerie ‘appenings. Strange spectral activity haunts at 10000 Hz, so careful when you dunk yer head in! 👽 👌
‘Originating and penetrating, advantageous and firm’ is the first line to Zhōu Yì, the central core of the ancient Chinese text I Ching. Meaning to be open and upon receipt of divinity and further enlightenment, Qián 乾 and the 63 other units which comprise the archaic manual has profoundly influenced Eastern thought and provided the western world with spiritual guidance on art, literature, religion, and science.
Tao of I Volume 2 is the second entry in a planned eight-volume series of works which explore each of the 64 hexagons in it’s correct, King Wen order. Inspired by Jon Hassell’s ‘Fourth World’ theory, Glaswegian artist Iona Fortune fused her sound understanding of traditional Chinese instrumentation with deep synth washes to conjure the heady and brilliant 2017 debut Tao of I, winning her a support slot on Shellac’s U.K. tour of that year.
Expanding her palette of sounds with the addition of indigenous instruments such as the Zhong and Yanquin, Fortune avoids her sophomore effort feeling like a retread of her debut, but instead provides new hues and flavours to illustrate a sense of journey, or ‘Tao’. The thick rumbles of the EMS Synthi AKS cut and bristle once again, but you stumble into new territory on the nervy woodwind of closer ‘Yù 豫’, the flute-like Bawu creating skittish and troubled energy.
The zen balance of the synthetic and organic courses throughout, the meditative percussion and echoing strings on ‘Xiǎo chù 小畜’ recall Eduard Artemyev’s haunting score for the cerebral sci-fi classic Stalker, as well as Coil’s ambient explorations. The utterly exquisite ‘Tài 泰’ reaches extraordinary depths of arcane mysticism, beautiful singing Erhu strings glide and soar to sensual serenity, doing its hexagram meaning of ‘Peace’ or ‘greatness’ justice.
The world is busy, stifling, and choking itself. Spiritual nourishment has no value in the rapacious demands of the neoliberal age, and we’re sicker and alienated for it. Tao of I Volume 2 reminds you there was a world before it, a universe of curiosity you’re probably neglecting, and sincerely transports you to the ether.
䷈ ䷉ ䷊ ䷋ ䷌ ䷍ ䷎ ䷏
Here’s another slice of Glaciers via the Noods Radio gang, an eighth helping of chilly sine waves and frosty frequencies! Tune in next month! ❄️ 🎹 👌
The psych cauldron currently bubbling away in the West Coast with acts like Goon and Spellling has belched forth another offering. Enter good boy, the second album of noise outfit Kamikaze Palm Tree, a sophomore effort which plays out like a jumbled ‘n’ jangled old jack-in-a-box, skewed pop and upside-down melodies turn the crank before the occasional jolt of frenzied drone rock and Avant-weird experiments.
Duo Dylan Hadley and Cole Berliner know how to fuse disparate, seemingly mutually exclusive arrangements and styles into a disjointed yet fascinating mess. The mangled ‘Sharpie Smile’ is a crooked house of cartoonish glockenspiels fighting with laser synths, punk thrash and eerie serenity congealed into a disquieting frenzy. No Wave incongruity scrapes and thuds on ‘Wants More’, intercut with brittle guitar textures that lift Hadley’s commanding, Nico like vocals.
Like The Velvet Underground, a sweet song is never far from the dissonance. The title track ‘Good Boy’ shows the bands penchant for sunny psych-meanders, a seemingly innocent and child-like meander of gentle acoustic strums and toybox percussion, before the twee deteriorates into an unsettling slew of atonal guitar, like flies caught in it’s cloying. Their psych inclinations and affection for unorthodox arrangements creep on the hazy dream of ‘You Talk’, surf guitar and Radiophonic Workshop effects mix to a languid fog surrounding Hadley’s sluggish delivery, and reach even headier heights on the various ‘Bongo’ interludes peppered throughout (replacing the ‘Clown’ from previous record The Ocean is the Solution).
Irregular, inside-out, and thoroughly unpredictable, good boy is an intriguing contortionist of a record, bending into impossible shapes and twisting itself into strange and brilliant forms.