Screw No.343 ~ Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott @ The Olympia

Paul Heaton is undoubtedly one of the great unsung talents of English pop. Despite his relative anonymity among the wider public, his songs will be known to anyone who paid even the slightest interest in pop music in the 1980s and 90s. His first band The Housemartins are now best remembered for being the launch pad for the career of superstar DJ Fatboy Slim (aka bassist Norman Cooke) as well as a handful of catchy indie pop singles including the almost Christmas No. 1, Caravan of Love. Their music was an infectious blend of 60s guitar pop, soul, indie and gospel. They burned brightly and briefly releasing two critically and commercially successful album before disbanding in the late 1980s. Despite being often overlooked today in favour of more sonically adventurous indie stalwarts such as The Smiths or Echo & The Bunnymen, their records have stood the test of time.

Heaton’s next (and most commercially successful) band The Beautiful South formed from the ashes of the Housemartins and released their first album in 1990. The Beautiful South was a more classic pop outfit with influences ranging from breezy light jazz, the Beatles to Cole Porter; all clad in a dense lyrical fog of northern English irony. The characters that populated Heaton’s songs lived humdrum lives in drab English towns immersed in mini kitchen sink dramas. It could be hard to tell when he was serious or joking. Behind the irony however, often lurked a more serious social and political side. Given the week that’s in it, check out these English leftists demolition of British nationalism on Have You Ever Been Away or their poignant lament to alcoholism and domestic violence, Woman in the Wall, both taken from their first (and best) album Welcome to the Beautiful South. The public loved it and their greatest hits Carry On Up the Charts released in November 1994 was one of the surprise hits of the decade, selling over 2 million copies. This was around the time Oasis and Blur were slogging it out and Fatboy Slim was starting to make a name for himself. The Beautiful South could never match those Britpop luminaries in the sexy stakes but continued to release hit records later in the decade eventually disbanding in 2003.

Paul Heaton and his able Beautiful South collaborator Jacqui Abbott will be playing the Olympia Theatre on Tuesday October 29th and at €30 a ticket represents great value for money. Their most recent album went straight to No. 3 in the British charts (not faring so well over here) proving they still have a loyal fanbase after all these years. Reviews of their live shows have been uniformly excellent. They play all the hits with full band in tow so check them out.

The Housemartins ~ Sheep

The Housemartins ~ Caravan of Love

The Beautiful South ~ Have You Ever Been Away

The Beautiful South ~ Woman in the Wall

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Screw No. 341 ~ Best of the week: Holly Herndon, LV+ Joshua Idehen, Run the Jewels

holly_herndon

Experimental electronic music artist Holly Herndon returns with an new track and video in which she has suffered from a sort of online infidelity, she told Dummy mag in relation to the new single and the NSA spying allegations “I entrusted so much in my device, to learn this intimacy had been compromised felt like a grand betrayal. Is everything done privately on my laptop to be considered a public performance? In Home, I address that invisible audience. It is a love song for prying eyes (an agent / a critic), and also a break up song with the devices with which I shared a naive relationship. There is something dramatic, teenage and vulnerable to this sensation – our relationships with these interconnected devices are still so young, so naive.” If you have seen her last video ‘Chorus’ then this will have come as no surprise to you as it continues her fascination with the theme of humans and their relationships with technology.

The music itself in both cases is tremulous and fragile yet in the case of ‘Home’ there is a purposeful fracturing of the sonic realm, shards of sound splinter, crunch and run, her trademark vocals seem disembodied almost, it’s uncanny stuff and thoroughly fascinating.

LV and Joshua Idehen return after the success of their debut album ‘Routes’ with a couple of tasters before the release of their new LP ‘Islands’. It’s a proper London ting and seems to sum up the vibrancy of the urban music scene here, both ‘Imminent’ and ‘Waiting for the Night’ nod to grime, Dancehall, UK funky, afrobeat, garage, dubstep and d’n’ B, it’s all in there.

Finally, Run the Jewels, the hip hop dream team (El-P, Killer Mike) released a second taster for their impending sophomore LP, what can you say about this duo, well they have attitude and they have the tunes to back this attitude up, ‘Oh my Darling Dont Cry’ is muscular self aggrandising agitprop at it’s very best.

Holly Herndon ~ Home

Holly Herndon ~ Chorus

LV + Joshua Idehen ~ Imminent

LV+Joshua Idehen ~ Waiting for the Night

LV + Joshu Idehen ~ Northern Line

Run the Jewels ~ Oh My Darling Don’t Cry

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Screw No.339 ~ Voyager : The Golden Record

The Voyager Golden Record

The Voyager Interstellar Record – Greetings From The Secretary General Of The UN Kurt Waldheim

On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space, making it the first spacecraft to exit our solar system. Attached to its outside (seen in image below) it carries the Golden Record, which contains ninety minutes of music from around the world. This music is currently more than 19 billion kilometers away from Earth. Voyager 1 will stop communicating with Earth in 2025, but the spacecraft has the potential, if it avoids a collision, to keep traveling another 40,000 years. At this point it will pass 1.6 light years off the star Gliese 445, the first it will encounter. Voyager 2, which is over 15 billion km away following a different trajectory, also contains the Golden Record. The information etched into the grooves of the Voyager record is expected to last at least one billion years.

Voyager 1

Adding the Golden Record, to what has become one of NASA’s most successful missions, was the brainchild of astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist, Carl Sagan. Sagan became fascinated by the idea of a time capsules when he witnessed in 1939, at the age of five, a time capsule being buried at the New York World’s Fair. He first introduced this idea to a NASA project when he was responsible for the golden plaque onboard the early 1970′s Pioneer spacecraft. The plaque contained an simple illustration of a man and a woman, and some basic coordinates as to the Earth’s position in the Milky Way. By 1977, Sagan believed that more than just scientific information should be sent with the two Voyager probes. He explains, “Our previous messages had contained information about what we perceive and how we think. But there is much more to human beings than perceiving and thinking…Music, it seemed to me, was at least a creditable attempt to convey human emotions. Perhaps a sufficiently advanced civilization would have made an inventory of the music of species on many planets, and by comparing our music with such a library, might be able to deduce a great deal about us.”

Voyager: The Golde Record

The Golden Record also contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, including 116 images, and a greeting in 55 spoken languages. On one side of the 12-inch gold-plated copper disk are the instructions on how to play the disk. A stylus is also included. A star map clearly showing the location of Earth completes the picture. Close to the record itself is positioned an ultra-pure sample of a uranium-23 isotope, which can be used by a technologically advanced species to calculate the time that Voyager has spent on its journey. The rotation speed indicated for the disk to be played is the time period associated with a fundamental transition of the hydrogen atom to within a decimal point of a billionth of a second.

But what music did they put on it I hear you ask. “I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach”, Sagan himself admitted at the time. He then qualified this with the immortal line, “but that would be boasting”. In the end Sagan enlisted the help of renowned 20th-century folk music field collector Alan Lomax among others. The final cut consisted of aboriginal and traditional music from a variety of cultures, such as Native Americans chants, Scottish bagpipes and African ritual music. It is also something of a “greatest hits” collection of classical music, featuring Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, and Stravinsky. The most contemporary songs are “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry and a jazz number by Louis Armstrong, called “Melancholy Blues”.

Musically speaking there is one big omission: The Beatles. Sagan explains’s “We wanted to send “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, and all four Beatles gave their approval. But the Beatles did not own the copyright, and the legal status of the piece seemed too murky to risk.” The final production battle came when RCA Records realised that there was only one of their artists included on the record. They withdrew their services and refused to press the master copy. Luckily, Colombia Records came to the rescue and offered their services knowing that there was no monetary value in the project.

After all this the Golden Record almost never made it off Earth, as Carl Sagan made an inscription in the inner ring of the original press, as is traditional at record labels (something he learnt from John Lennon). As the inscription was not in the original blueprint for the disk, it was touch-and-go as to whether the record would pass NASA’s strict engineering qualifications. In the end an agreement was made and the most extraordinary record ever made was attached to both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. An extraordinary record that embodies the best human qualities: positivity, optimism for a brighter future, and a willingness to reach out over billions of kilometers just to see what might be out there. As explorer George Mallory stated when asked why he wanted to climb the then un-climbed Mt Everest – “Because it is there”.

Then again it is hard to argue with Sagan’s assertion that the Golden Record need only contain the original works of J.S. Bach. I’ll let Julia Hamari take it from here:

Bach ~ Julia Hamari – Matthäus Passion – Erbarme dich

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Screw No.338 ~ Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue Perform Murder Ballad Epic for First Time in 15 Years

Kylie Minogue Nick Cave

Nick Cave recently performed his epic murder ballad “Where The Wild Roses Grow” live with Kylie Minogue for the first time in 15 years. Minogue was asked if she would be up for the performance while filming Cave’s semi fictional documentary 20,000 Days On Earth. Minogue jumped at the chance and the performance was filmed before devout fans at an old Victorian music hall in London. The scene was set for the Wild Rose to be murdered all over again. Enjoy.

Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue ~ Where The Wild Roses Grow (Live at KOKO London)

YouTube Credit: NickCaveVEVO

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