Screw No. 410 ~ Wife

Wife (James Kelly) is thoroughly contemporary pop music, occupying that liminal space between multiple genres that the best pop music occupies. Influences are clear in particular when it comes to rhythm and bass; Dubstep, UKG, while there are grimey reflections of the Industrial scene in here also – London duo Raime come to mind – mainly in the distortions and manipulation of the sonic textures yet tempered and softened by iterative guitar lines. Associations with label mate (he’s signed to Tri Angle for his debut LP) Holy Other in the vocal stylistics along with the Thom Yorke in some of the cadences suggest themselves, yet none of the above detract from the sense that this is new music that can be engaged with on it’s own terms.

WIFE – Shards

WIFE – Circles

WIFE ~ Trials

Raime ~ This Foundry

Holy Other ~ Yr Love

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Screw No.408 ~ µ-Ziq: XT

µ-Ziq is Mike Paradinas’ primary alias amongst a myriad of others over the years; in a music career that has been at the very heart of, what is for me, everything that is good and wholesome about modern electronic music. His Planet Mu record label has helped promote artists who have come to be synonymous with whole sub-genres of music e.g. Burial, Venetian Snares and DJ Rashad. His label has also been a home to many of Ireland’s finest electronic exports such as Solar Bears, Boxcutter, and Ambulance.

By coincidence, I recently dug out and have been listening to Paradinas’ µ-Ziq – Royal Astronomy album from 1999. So, it was a nice surprise today to find out that he will be releasing his first album since 2007. “XL” is the first offering from the album, XLP, which is a combination of two vinyl only EP releases in 2013 and 2014. The track opens with a piano and moog melody leading into some cheese funk over a gorgeous sonic layer, which all told wouldn’t feel out of place on a 70’s pop song. Or for that matter, as the opener to a mini mix with a few tracks from the aforementioned, and apparently Björk inspired Royal Astronomy album. Enjoy.

µ-Ziq ~ XT
µ-Ziq ~ Scaling
µ-Ziq ~ The Hwicci Song
µ-Ziq ~ The Fear

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Screw No. 407 ~ New Discoveries: Magic Fades et al


Some new musical discoveries this week off the back of this interesting article on the ‘Health Goth’ scene/aesthetic by the always interesting Adam Harper (aka Rouge’s Foam).
What is Health Goth
Coming across like a soundtrack to an 80’s teen romance flick montage sequence, LLLL’s ‘You’ is all shimmering and twinkling in it’s reaching emotionalism, while Magic Fades and Soul Ipsum’s ‘Zirconia Reign’ plays with new age and vaporwave tropes nothwithstanding it’s title – Zirconia being a commonly used Diamond substitute.

Total Freedom’s remix of Dat Oven’s Icy Lake feels like it could soundtrack some sort of paranoid doc on singularity, hints of label Raster-Noton’s machine aesthetic jump to mind while Drippin’s ‘Silver Cloak’ echoes the more technoid edges of UK Grime.

Finally Karmelloz’s ‘Recursive’ occupies liminal space between coffee table chill and purposefully on the nose romance.

Good stuff.

LLLL ~ You

Magic Fades and Ipsum Sphere ~ Zirconia Reign

Dat Oven ~ Icy Lake (Total Freedom remix)

Drippin ~ Silver Cloak

Karmelloz ~ Recursive

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Screw No.406 ~ A Rock ‘n’ Roll Holiday In Cambodia

Khmer Rock

In the mid-1960’s, while Ireland was playing cultural catch up to the global youth revolution, there was a part of South East Asia that was moulding this new spirit of the age and giving it some undeniably Asian textures. Cambodia’s vibrant music scene of that time was a unique blend of straight up Western rock ‘n’ roll mixed with traditional Cambodian vocal styles and arrangements. With a small cohort of nationally renowned artists, such as female singers Ros Sereysothea and Pen Ron who lead garage, surf, and even acid rock bands, in a cacophony of organs, brass, pounding beats and distorted guitars.

Ros Sereysothea ~ Chnam oun Dop-Pram Muy (I’m 16)

Ros Sereysothea ~ Jam 10 Kai Theit

This golden age of modern Cambodian culture was ushered in by the nation’s King, Sihanouk. A Parisian educated monarch who helped lead his country to independence from Cambodia’s then colonial masters, France. In 1955, Sihanouk abdicated his throne and became Prime Minister. Under his leadership Cambodia thrived economically and its capital Phnom Penh flourished and became known as, ‘The Pearl of South East Asia’. Sihanouk was a keen film maker who directed over thirty films; crass high society drivel by all accounts. But he also composed songs and used rock ‘n’ roll as the driver for his, tame by modern standards, but sexually risqué films if judged by the general mind-set of the times in that part of the World. While Mick Jagger was singing that he couldn’t get no satisfaction, young female vocalist Pen Ron was singing lyrics about being explicitly “Unsatisfied”, in a mostly conservative and male dominated culture.

Pan Ron ~ Sva Rom Monkey (Monkey Dance Monkey)

Sihanouk had opened up the country to Western influences for the first time, but it was the arrival of hundreds of thousands US G.I.s in neighbouring South Vietnam that really gave the music its edge. American Forces Radio drifted over the border and with it all the new exciting music that the young soldiers favoured such as The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and The Stones etc. The Khmer rock bands lapped up these influences and immediately fused these exciting new sounds into their music. John Pirozzi, the maker of the documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock And Roll, explains how the music evolved into the 1970’s, “In the ’70s, the civil war was happening and the coup happened; there were tensions over here, the music got edgier,” adding that musicians began injecting more sarcasm and innuendos into their lyrics.

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll ~ Official Documentary Trailer

While the two great powers of USA and China used Vietnam as their Cold War battlefield; Sihanouk, now titled as prince, was throwing lavish jazz parties for the Phnom Penh elite. As was true throughout his leadership, corruption and gross inequality were rife in the country. Be under no doubt, the music scene was not based on cultural rebellion but rather as decadent entertainment for the ruling and middle classes. Think Cliff Richard in his white chinos, or an Elvis movie featuring upper class Americans and you’ll get the picture.

In a futile effort to keep his country safe from harm, Sihanouk allowed North Vietnamese troops to cross Cambodia’s Eastern border where they were resupplied by Maoist China. The North Vietnamese ranks were swelled by Cambodian communist fighters, The Khmer Rouge. The US reacted with the infamous carpet bombing of the Eastern part of the country. The bombing campaign was largely ineffective and resulted in an emboldened Khmer Rouge, who swelled their ranks with thousands of Cambodian peasants. The Khmer Rouge under the leadership of Pol Pot took their chance and overran the country, and on 17 April 1975, they captured the capital Phnom Penh. All perceived enemies of the new regime were eradicated. The musicians and artists were easily identifiable and were among the first to die, along with the doctors, teachers, and professionals. Eyeglasses were as deadly as the yellow Star of David, as they were seen as a sign of intellectualism. The cities were completely emptied and the era of ‘The Killing Fields’ began. It is estimated that nine out of ten of all the countries artists were killed, in a purge that wiped out an estimated 1.5 to 2 million Cambodians (a third of the population) over the course of the four years of Pol Pot’s Maoist nightmare. Of all the Khmer rock artists, there is only circumstantial evidence for the murder of Ros Sereysothea (two songs featured above), who was witnessed being put on a truck and driven into a forest and never to be seen again.

In 1993, Norodom Sihanouk was restored as King of Cambodia. It was thanks in part to his vast collection of vinyl, films and literature, which were hidden from the Khmer Rouge, which saved this wonderful artistic heritage for the present day people of Cambodia. The music from this golden age can be heard on radio, in bars, shops and all over present day Cambodian. Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia states that the preservation of the music is a means to deeper understanding of the country, “Music is the best answer to helping people understand the complexity of Cambodia’s history”.

There is a longstanding Cambodian phrase which states that, “Music is the soul of a Nation”. With the huge resurgence of 60’s and 70’s rock in Cambodia, and among expats around the world, one could almost say that Khmer rock is now the beating heart of the country.

Ros Sererysothea

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Screw No.405 ~ Dadaist’s Sound World


School of Seven Bells came to my attention today due to the fact that Jon Hopkins has included his remix of their song “Connjur” on the latest instalment of the ever intriguing Late Night Tales mix series. I went back and had a gander at the original track and as is usually the case I found it better than the remix. School of Seven Bells hail from New York and unfortunately disbanded following guitarist Benjamin Curtis’ death in 2013, after he was diagnosed with the rare T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. “Connjur” is from their 2008 debut album Alpinisms. With identical twin sisters, Claudia and Alejandra Deheza, providing harmonised lead vocals over shoegazed inspired dream pop, their three albums are definitely worth exploring.

School Of Seven Bells ~ Connjur

It has been three years since the release of Grimes’ career defining album Visions, an album that in all that time I just can’t seem to stop playing. Characterised as a ‘Boss’ by her obsessive teen fans due to her commanding solo stage performances, Grimes has been more about online spats with other celebs than fast-tracking her next album. All fights aside, she has to be admired for sticking to her principles in an industry that has become more corporate than ever: “I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living. I don’t want my words to be taken out of context. I don’t want to be infantilized because I refuse to be sexualized. I don’t want to be molested at shows or on the street by people who perceive me as an object that exists for their personal satisfaction”. “REALiTi” is a previously unheard track from her scrapped follow-up to Visions. She confessed that she lost the Ableton file for it, so it is not mixed or mastered. Hopefully the track is just a tease before the globally anticipated release of her next album.

Grimes ~ REALiTi

If there is a better producer out there doing remixes than Machinedrum, well, I haven’t come across them yet. When London-based Planet Mu songster Tropics asked Machinedrum to remix the first single off his new album, he probably had his more down-tempo ambient touches in mind. Tropics’ original version of the track is a slow burning nu soul crawler. Machinedrum had other things in mind for the track. He ups the tempo and at around one minute in he drops his customary fast paced, reverb-heavy, rolling drums. The genius of Machinedrum is that he can do all this without overtly distracting from the original hyper-chilled out soul feel of Tropics’ original. It has to be noted that this Tropics lad isn’t half bad either and will be going straight onto my phone.

Tropics ~ Blame (Machinedrum Remix)

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