Boards of Canada

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Subwayz Selectionz 2015 Cocteau Twins

 Cocteau Twins: Head Over Heels (4AD 1983)

  1. When Mama Was Moth
  2. Five Ten Fiftyfold
  3. Sugar Hiccup
  4. In Our Angelhood
  5. Glass Candle Grenades
  6. In The Gold Dust Rush
  7. The Tinderbox (Of A Heart)
  8. Multifoiled
  9. My Love Paramore
  10. Musette And Drums

One of the more exciting experiences of my life during the 1980's was in discovering new bands, and different genres of music. A lot of my nocturnal time was spent listening to BBC Radio 1, and in particular John Peel, whose radio show championed undiscovered artists, and gave them the airtime to showcase their music to a national audience. John Peel's show was like a voyage of sonic discovery for me. On one show it could be bands like The Fall, or Half Man Half Biscuit followed by hip hop or reggae. I never knew what music would be played, but I knew it would be diverse, interesting and all wrapped up in John Peel's down to earth presentation. Thirty-five years later, and John Peel's legacy lives on. A few of the artists who got the golden opportunity to share their music have gone on to define their era. Alternatively, there are the other bands who made it onto John Peel's show, who disappeared back into relative obscurity after their 15 odd minutes of fame. One of the bands who made it into the world of  '
The Peel Session' were the Cocteau Twins. They appeared quite a few times in session during the early 80's.

Cocteau Twins initially comprised of Robin Guthrie, Will Heggie and Elizabeth Fraser
 who came from Grangemouth, Scotland. The name 'Cocteau Twins' came from an early song by a fellow Scottish band called Johnny And The Self Abusers, who later became Simple Minds. My discovery of the Cocteau Twins was a convergence of two influences. The eclectic brilliance of John Peel in unearthing talent, and the allure of a new TV station called Channel 4, with a new live music show called The Tube. It was an amazing experience for me to watch the Cocteau Twins perform two songs, From The Flagstones, and Musette And Drums. I've always been fascinated by the connection of a tribal fashion identity that has surrounded fans of musical genres for many years. At that time I had never really attached myself to one particular genre of music. After watching the Cocteau Twins on The Tube, I thought they were a goth band, may be in the same vein as The Cure or Siouxsee And The Banshees. However, I later came to realise that Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser would define their own genre of music.

Cocteau Twins Performing Live on The Channel 4 TV Show The Tube in 1983

Of all the albums I have listened to during the 80's, Head Over Heels by Cocteau Twins has remained with me. During that time I was a fan of electronic music, so it's rather the exception to the rule that the Cocteau Twins appealed to me. I first got Head Over Heels and Sunburst And Snowblind, which was a combined album and EP, first released in 1983. Since then I've added a few more albums by Cocteau Twins to my collection, however Head Over Heels has remained a favourite album of mine.

Head Over Heels is a rare album that I can listen through from the first track to the last without the need to skip through tracks. I think that my appeal to this album is multifaceted. There's a diversity in songs that are featured throughout this album. Within Head Over Heels is a blend of Robin Guthrie's grating guitars, which is heightened by jarring basslines that accentuate and create a ominous atmosphere. Yet out of the moodiness Head Over Heels is given life and elevated by Elizabeth Fraser's uniquely ethereal vocalizations, which compliment and give the compositions an extra dimension of light. There's the foreboding of When Mama Was Moth, and the dark impending bass driven behemoth that is Five Ten Fiftyfold. The resplendent bliss of Sugar Hiccup, and the jarring guitars of In Our Angelhood. The frenetically delirious Glass Candle Grenades, contrasted with the acoustic guitar shimmering swirls of In The Gold Dust Rush. The brooding disquiet of Your Tinderbox (Of a Heart) counterpointed with the downtempo resonance of Multifoiled. The enigmatic My Love Paramore, and the power chorded duet of Musette And Drums.

My Videos
Cocteau Twins: Head Over Heels 

It's funny to read that Head Over Heels was ranked at no. 7 in the magazine Sounds end of the year list in 1983. Alternatively it was also later named as being one of the most eccentric albums of all time by Mojo Magazine in 2003. I like the fact that Head Over Heels is considered eccentric, because it's that eccentricity that makes Head Over Heels unique. Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser created something special. They had the strength of mind and fortitude to produce an album which would be a statement of intent for future Cocteau Twins albums to come.

Since 1983 I've bought Head Over Heels on vinyl and CD. In 2003 Head Over Heels was remastered by Robin Guthrie. So I downloaded the MP3 edition. In July of 2014 I downloaded a FLAC version of Head Over Heels. If I'm honest I found that the audio quality was good, however I wouldn't recommend any Cocteau Twins fan to especially download a FLAC file because in my opinion there's not that greater difference between the MP3 and FLAC formats.

The Cocteau Twins sadly split up in 1997. However they have left a formidable body of work in their wake, and there is a solid fan base that will ensure that the Cocteau Twins' legacy will continue to flourish. Head Over Heels has stayed close to me for well over thirty years now and will always remain a firm favourite of mine. Whether it being Robin Guthrie in an oversized jumper and big hair, nonchalantly playing his guitar with a reel to reel drum machine in the background. Or the demure Elizabeth Fraser singing songs with the tone of an angelic throng. I will always have fond memories of watching The Tube, and listening to John Peel's Radio 1 show whilst having my imagination caught by the extraordinary Cocteau Twins.

My Various Other Cocteau Twins Videos

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Subwayz Selectionz 2014 Reissues

My Top 5 Reissues of 2014

5. Donato Dozzy: K (Further Records)

  1. K1
  2. K2
  3. K3
  4. K4
  5. K5
  6. K6
  7. K7

K was originally released on cassette back in 2010 and was thankfully reissued in July of 2014 by Further Records. The tracklisting of K sums up the general feel of the album as all these tracks are mixed and blend in seamlessly, so in effect there's very little evidence of separation apart from the smooth edges of transition. There are sections in this album where it's chilled, but there's enough variation by contrast in tempo and melody throughout the album to make it interesting and diverse. The intricate streams of ambiance that wind and build through K are contrasted by the beat driven elements of pulsating ambivalent techno. K is a wonderfully creative body of work by Donato Dozzy that deserved to be reissued to a wider audience.

4. Suburban Base Records: The History Of Hardcore, Jungle, Drum & Bass: 1991-1997 (New State)


Side 1

1. Kromozone - The Rush (Sub Bass Mix)
2. Phuture Assassins - Shot Like Dis
3. Austin - I Get High (Munchies Mix)
4. M&M - I Feel This Way (feat Rachel Wallace - The Beefed Up Mix)
5. QBASS - Hardcore Will Never Die (Telepathic Mix)
6. Sons Of A Loop Da Loop Era - Far Out (original Scratchadelic Mix)
7. Run Tings - Fires Burning
8. Phuture Assassins - Future Sound
9. Phuture Assassins - Rydim Come Forward
10. Phuture Assassins - Future Sound (2 Bad Mice Remix)
11. Krome & Time - This Sound Is For The Underground
12. SmartE's - Sesame's Street (vocal Mix)
13. Rachel Wallace - Tell Me Why (M&M Full Vocal)
14. Run Tings - Back Again (Austin Remix)
15. D'Cruze - I Believe (92 Revamp)

Side 2
1. DJ Hype - Shot In The Dark (Gunshot Remix)
2. QBASS - Deepa
3. Phuture Assassins - Roots N Future (Make Dem Know Mix)
4. D'Cruze - Bass Go Boom (DJ SS & EQ Remix)
5. DJ Krome & Mr Time - The Slammer
6. DJ Hype - The Chopper
7. Boogie Times Tribe - The Dark Stranger (Origin Unknown Mix)
8. Johnny Jungle - Flammable
9. QBASS - Gun Connection (M Beat Remix)
10. DJ Rap & Aston - More Time
11. Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era - What The...Session One (Riots In Rayleigh)
12. DJ Rap & Aston - Get Rushed
13. DJ Dextrous & Rude Boy Keith - Wicked
14. DJ Hype - Dawn Of The Fever
15. DJ Hype - Dreams

Side 3
1. Run Tings - Ruff Revival
2. D 'Cruze - Lonely
3. Johnny Jungle - 94' Johnny (Dillinja Remix)
4. Marvellous Cain - Dub Plate Style
5. The Dream Team - Stamina
6. Remarc - RIP (DJ Hype Remix)
7. Run Tings & Liftin' Spirits - Come Easy
8. Johnny Jungle - Killa Sound (Krome & Time Remix)
9. Cutty Ranks - Limb By Limb (DJ SS Remix)
10. Basic Movements - Bubble & Wine
11. Mampi Swift - On The Beat
12. Remarc - In Da Hood
13. Remarc - Single Finga Killa
14. Ill Figure - Untouchable
15. D'Cruze - Land Speeder

How or where do you put the legacy of a record label like Suburban Base into it's proper perspective?

I started buying records by Suburban Base in the early nineties. The hardcore scene was in full swing and this record label produced quality music which also embraced an urban aesthetic. The hardcore scene eventually fractured into different sub-genres, and for a while Suburban Base was at the cutting edge of the fledgling jungle, and later drum n bass scene. The tracklisting of this Suburban Base compilation is a map how the music progressed and mutated within such a relatively small amount of time, and where Suburban Base was at the forefront of this movement. What I liked about Sub Base was that whenever I would get to see and hear their new releases there would be an original version, that was later accompanied by an excellent remix. The vinyl was packaged with a creative record sleeves designs that reflected the urban-graffiti hip hop origins of the label. There are some absolute classic tracks amongst the Suburban Base discography that has come to define the scene over a relatively small amount of time.

The jungle and drum n bass scene has continuously evolved, and eventually other record labels emerged that featured artists and deejays who developed their own ideas and took the scene into new directions. Dan Donnelly, the owner of Suburban Base rightly or wrongly decided to embrace the dark garage scene at the expense of drum n bass, and Sub Base itself went the way of many other labels that got left behind in the wake of an ever changing UK drum n bass scene.

There are some classic tracks in this compilation. If I had to pick a few of my own favourites, I'd choose Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era, with the evergreen breakbeat classic, Far Out. DJ Hype's dark tinged, A Shot in The Dark and The Chopper. The caustic breaks of Flammable by Johnny Jungle, and possibly one of the watershed tracks in the history of Suburban Base, the Origin Unknown remix of The Dark Stranger, originally by Boogie Times Tribe. But there are many more tunes in this compilation that highlight the contribution that Suburban Base has made to a uniquely British urban dance music scene.


3. Nasty Habits: Shadow Boxing (Thirty One Recordings)

  1. Om Unit Remix
  2. Re-Mastered Original Mix

Shadow Boxing by Nasty Habits was originally released in 1996 on Doc Scott's own label 31 Records. Whether it being under the names of Nasty Habits or Doc Scott, on labels like Absolute 2, Reinforced Records or on his own 31 Recordings imprint, Scott McIlroy has always been an innovator throughout the UK hardcore scene and drum n bass genre. When I first heard this track it was nothing like I had never heard before, and has always remained a firm favourite of mine. Over the years this track has been remixed a few times, however in 2014 Shadow Boxing was remixed by Om Unit and the original version was digitally remastered. The original mix still sounds as dark, menacing and epic as the first time I ever heard it, and will rightly remain a stand out tune in dance music history.

2. Model 500: The Passage (Apollo)

  1. The Passage
  2. Mind Changes
  3. Vessels In Distress

I first bought this EP back in 1992. Back in the day it was released on Network Records and was called 'The True Techno EP' which I took as a slight by Juan Atkins, the godfather of techno on all the pretenders using the name 'techno' as a brand to sell a mish mash of various contemporary music offerings. My favourite track was The Passage.

I've been waiting patiently for quite a few years for this track to be reissued. So imagine my delight when I discovered that The Passage was going to be remastered and reissued in all of it's sumptuous glory on Apollo in September of 2014.

1. Boards of Canada: Hi Scores EP (Skam Records)
  1. Hi Scores
  2. Turquoise Hexagon Sun
  3. Nlogax
  4. June 9th
  5. Seeya Later
  6. Everything You Do Is A Balloon

Back in 1998 the album, Music Has The Right To Children was released by Warp Records, in conjunction with Skam. What unsuspecting fans may not have know at the time was that Boards of Canada had a huge back catalogue of previous material. One such item was the Hi Scores EP, that was originally released in 1996 on Skam. It was announced in 2014 that the Hi Scores EP was going to be remastered and reissued in October, much to the delight of fans like myself. What I liked about Boards of Canada was their ability to create music with hip hop breaks and heavy basslines, but which were contrasted with electronic music that was subtle and melodic. Possibly the greatest example of Boards of Canada's design and execution is the seminal Everything You Do Is A Balloon, which is over 7 minutes worth of bass driven surreal bliss.