Friday, February 18, 2011

Larry Heard - "Alien"

I always forget about Larry Heard.  I'll forget for ages, and then hit on one of his old records, put it on, and I'm always blown away by how good they are.  Flirting a bit with the 'proper' musicianship side of things (I like the dislocated emotion you get from stripped machines, alright?) - he still made just jaw-dropping soundscapes.  From a production point of view, his tracks were always flawless as well - the mixes are so good, and he always chose the perfect noise for every part.  Lush.

I came across Alien by him earlier this week, and knew immediately that this was the track for Friday.  I think it's one of his greatest tracks of all time - the easy warm bassline, the open spacey pads, the clicking drum pattern, a mix that feels like there's so much space you could walk in and between all the sounds inspecting them from every angle, and piano and lead sounds draped over the top like a satin sheet.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blowing Bubbles

From time to time, I've had some small share stuff going on.  Nothing that's going to buy me as much as a spare tube for my bike, which I seem to need on almost an every-two-days basis at the moment (thanks everyone breaking glass in and around Dublin!) - but as a result of having shares here and there, I preferred to have them through a company that knows what they are doing.

Anyway, said company (Edward D Jones fact fans) occasionally send out letters explaining the state of the world, the markets, etc.  They don't offer to make you rich, which is one of the attractions (most people offering to make you rich actually intend to take your money and make them rich).  But I digress.  I've been trying to dig out one of the letters from Edward D Jones for ages, and I finally found it.

For context... the dot-com bubble in all stock prices Internet-related was exploding from about 1995 until 2000.  The massive collapse of this bubble in prices occurred in spring of 2000, with the NASDAQ peaking on Friday March 10th.  In the following three business days - Monday 13th - Wednesday 15th March, 9% of this peak value was erased.

In April 1999, one year before the cataclysm, I received one of the occasional missives from EDJ.  It still stands today as a spectacular example of someone keeping their heads when everyone else was losing theirs.

Future lessons from the past...


Friday, February 11, 2011

Dawn Landes - "Young Folks"

© Alex Solmssen

I came across Dawn Landes in an article about music production..... in..... Tape Op.  The name may come as no relief to you, but I've spent the last *month* trying to remember after losing the magazine!  Anyway, I digress and I've hardly even started.  Landes has done a great deal of production and engineering herself, and really knows her stuff.

She's also got a great voice, writes great tunes, and radiates unaffected believable love of music.  Here in honour of her brilliantness, are three Dawn Landes tunes for Friday.  Well, actually two of them are the same tune, Young Folks.  One version sung with young folks, and the other version sang with old folks.  Pretty cool huh?  And in fact Young Folks isn't even her tune.

Alright already, here's 1 Dawn Landes tune for Friday, and 2 different versions of Dawn Landes singing someone else's tune for Friday.  Pedants.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Black Dub - "The Birth of Bellavista Nights"

I came across the Black Dub project following a feature in the latest Sound on Sound.  Black Dub is the latest project from Daniel Lanois, who produced The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby and a stack of other U2 and non-U2 stuff.

From Sound on Sound:
One very noticeable feature that unites both Le Noise and Black Dub is that they appear to be painted with fairly broad brush-strokes, using raw, free performances. In the past, Lanois has been responsible for his fair share of layered, very detailed, almost perfectionist records, works that seem to embody his one‑time adage that an image of beauty is greatly enhanced by the introduction of a piece of grit. On Le Noise and Black Dub Lanois appears to have reversed his maxim: they sound more like grit greatly enhanced by pieces of beauty.
“Thank you for noticing the qualities of grit and freedom in these new albums,” replies Lanois. “I like the broad brush-stroke analogy. It’s a very painterly way of looking at things, and I love for music to have pictures. That part of my work has never changed: I like things to be cinematic. I also think that the detail is always there in my work."

Lanois has always had interesting idea about music and art, and how to get there, and this is no different.  There was lots of talk in the interview, both from Lanois and from his co-producer Mark Howard about the importance of capturing the actual performance of the instrument, and how the technology was really secondary to the music that you were recording.  I hadn't heard of Black Dub before, but it was enough for me to go searching.

It's interesting stuff, and here's one great example - three and a half minutes of perfectly captured guitar nestled in those Lanois delays.  Just an amazingly perfect guitar sound, a great rolling riff, and a story all in one noise.  It's the sort of thing you want to have on vinyl, with an immensely expensive hifi to play it through.