Funky Alternatives / August 2020

Andrew Weatherall`s debut DJ slot at Shoom was secured as a result of him playing a track from the first of those original Illuminated Funky Alternative compilations**, so it`s only right that one of his last commissioned remixes should feature, and set the tone, here. The electro-beat boom of his remix of Glok`s Cloud Cover races, while a microchip marimba motif seems to tumble backwards. The rhythm throwing you with false stops and starts. A Hoover-like hum of sub-bass bellowing beneath these aural illusions. Snares shaking like machined tambourines as synth lines intertwine, interlocking individual melodies that icily align. Cold out in space, with the stars. 

There`s also music here from Andrew`s long-time studio partner, Nina Walsh, who releases monthly digital transmissions as The Woodleigh Research Facility. August’s installment isn’t available yet, but late July gave us a 3-track E.P. headed by the electro-porno of At Depth. A fornicating float in a beat-subtracted, black hole bass vacuum. Sex in zero gravity surrounded by increasingly hallucinatory heavy breathing. There`s also the LFO modulations, mutations, sirens, and dark laboratory lightning of Substation Glow, and the tribal Tongues – where the minimalism and shades of Suicide – Vega and Rev – are buzzed by King Wasp sting and sharp shards of guitar. The title possibly referring to the sleazy disembodied voice that’s also flying around. All of it punk rock electro funk perfect for pissing off purists. 

Andrew`s close friend and sometime collaborator, Richard Norris has released a teaser from his forthcoming long-player, Elements. For the last year or so Richard`s taken a breather from the psychedelic warrior-ing of his Time & Space Machine, and moved toward more serene soundscapes. His 12 hits of Music For Healing are longform ambient compositions recorded during lockdown – the proceeds from which go to the mental health charity MIND. Earth’s not really a funky alternative, but a quality closing tune, a supremely cleansing piece of pastoral kosmische. Its beatless sequences running in new age streams. Gently dancing patterns created in their counterpoint. Its vibrato voices singing you home. 

Richard Norris Elements

Andrew’s partner in the A Love From Outer Space shindigs, Sean Johnston has a hand in 4 new releases. Using his usual Hardway Bros nome de plume Sean sets about an “Amorphous” remix of Mass Density Human`s Dancing In Space, for Dutch label Night Noise. A tune of techno tribalism, industrial, break-driven dance in the vein of hits of yesteryear, such as Future Sound Of London’s Papua New Guinea and Holy Ghost Inc.`s Mad Monks On Zinc. It even utilizes the same Cheryl Lynn sample that was popularized by Meat Beat Manifesto`s Radio Babylon. Your narrator for the journey rambling, darkly, in tongues like an acolyte of Crowley and Thelema. Traveling the winding road of excess in search of enlightenment, wisdom and Kubla Khan`s pleasure dome. 

MD hastings

Under the alias of A Mountain Of Rimowa Sean has 5 tracks for Le Temps Perdu. I slotted Brothers & Sisters In The West into this month`s Looking For The Balearic Beat, while its counterpart, Brothers & Sisters In The East is a heavier mix of Italo sequences and acidic fractal frequencies that flies – at 125 BPM – between new beat and proto-prog. Decadance`s On & On, and Andy On The Eve. 

a mountain of rimowa le temps perdu

Teaming up with bassist and fellow producer Martyn Walsh, Sean takes the name ¡La Ruta! and fashions 4 further EBM updates for Days Of Being Wild.  

la ruta artwork copy

To tackle Fjordfunk`s It`s All Black, on Tici Taci, Sean meets Monkton, AKA Duncan Gray, Uptown. Producing a piece of punk funk dub that boasts a muscular b-line worthy of either (Paul) Simonon or (Jah) Wobble. Its guitars alternating between a tense and nervous Psycho Killer strum,  and axe hero arcs. The percussion tick-tocking in and out of earshot as if you were Hook pursued by the croc that swallowed a clock. All of it reverberating, sending out ever-expanding dub-wise ripples. Its echoed rimshots eventually escalating into an intense sabre rattle. Think Basement 5, or Weatherall`s wonderful re-fit of The Doves` Compulsion. 

Fjordfunk

Another close compadre and confidant of Mr. Weatherall, Richard Sen, escapes his Padded Cell to remix Stash Magnetic`s My Future, for Al Mackenzie and Chris Kentish`s Fields Of Dreams imprint. The original is a slice of electro gothic, dark cosmic pop, that features a fine blues guitar overload, and a vocal like Amy Douglas doing Siouxsie Sioux. Sen extends the track right out into a nearly 9 minute anthem.  The toll of a Hammer horror bell introducing its Mogodon`d, benzodiazepine beat, while that axe goes off – building walls of feedback and spinning shoegaze-y filigree in its pumped up shadows. The hypnotic lyric hovering, hissing, haunted by vampiric vapour trails. Oosh!`s Dan Wainwright goes for a more overly “balearic” groove and counters the sinister sounds of lunar / lunatic winds and mad scientist Tesla coil fizz with introspective piano. Al Mackenzie rocks up in his Retroforward guise and revs up the tempo, from the previous Batcave crawl, to around 110BPM. His atmospheric “kosmische Morricone” intro morphing into a midnight march while vocal snippets and synthesized cascades rain down. His Roland releasing a lysergic lullaby, casting a seductive, subliminal spell. 

More psychoactive sonics can be found on Alterleo`s Experience E.P., available to download from Higher Love Recordings. The title track being an ode to peyote. Its riffs conjuring Spanish Spaghetti Western deserts as its chug gets progressively more acidic. Sampled interview dialogue – I think, Carlos Castaneda talking about his The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge – in a swirl with stoned, shapeshifting Ray Manzarek moments. Slum is an increasingly barmy bit of bass and bleep, whose ambience of time-stretched gospel apparitions is interrupted by a fractured Apache break. The slower, percussive Manon loops kalimba, conga, chants and twisted, turning, cosmic keys. 

If its TB-303 action you’re after then you also need to check Akio Nagase`s Roots Magic E.P. on Darker Than Wax.

AkioNagase_Sleeve 1134x1134

The trippy vibes continue with Anatolian Weapons` Ela, which skillfully weaves past and future, winding snake-charmer synth sequences and a purring Kaa-like lyric around an ALFOS chug. Harnessing zither and traditional hand percussion to a head-nodding beat. Ela is actually an anomaly, the odd one out, found on an Italo-flavoured various artist E.P., coming care of Feel The Drive. The clue, I guess, is in the Doctor`s Cat reference. Where Ondata`s Kolossos is a slightly camp concoction of new beat and hi-energy, Furor Ex¢tica`s Fat Training is a “jacked” up pornographic aerobics / pole-dancing session, and Franz Scala`s Sabrina is BDSM gone pop. Its bright arrangement betrayed by glory-hole gasps and behmoth b-line. 

Feel The Drive Art Edit

Another anomaly is Roy Batty Jr.`s Treast, taken from his Dash Retention E.P. on Butter Sessions. The rest of the record is industrial electro, showers of relentless Red Planet techno patterns, reinforced by field recorded chainsaws, dogs, and broken glass. Gravel Screws seems possessed by spectres, while Elastic Scream is a tribal, arhythmic rampage, so Treast comes as a complete surprise. Its ancient woodwind blowing between souped up temple bells and gamelan gongs. Emitting a healing crystal aligning Buddhist / Shinto spiritual ache. Despite being born of darkness its purpose appears to be to summon light. 

Giuseppe Leonardi`s latest 12, MenteMente, for Second Circle is split between electro and a more balearic beat. The White Isle pieces are sophisticated art pop. Pairing idiophone intricacy with Georgian poetry. Street soul electro boogie with YMO – 1000 Knives – tones. Warm pads, steel pans, and keys that want to be the brass in a latin dance band. Synthetic Speak & Spell sambas and robotic calypsos, with bubbling bass synths and clipped highlife chords. But the remaining tracks are a tad darker. Vocoder-ed, Cybotron-esque, and minimal. Twitching, tumbling, booming 808 funk. 

While we’re on 808s, Gerd Jansen uses his to radically re-engineer LX72`s State of Resilience. Dubbing the track`s disembodied Pepe Braddock-like shouts into a Miami bass background of huge sub drops and ping-ponging rave bleeps. The techno meets jazz melody run backwards, crafting alien ambient allusions – despite its racing real-time nature. On the reverse, Philip Lauer turns Lunatic Dolphin into a summer pool-side party crowd-pleaser that should have been. Swapping the OG`s deep house for shameless bounce, arpeggiating everything and spinning you right round like a record, right round baby, right round. Setting off fireworks of Italian scream-up pianos on New Order`s Blue Monday beach. Racking it all up to 11. 

**The tune was of course Chris & Cosey`s October Love Song.

Track-list

Roy Batty Jr – Treast – Butter Sessions
Stash Magnetic – My Future (Richard Sen Remix) – Fields Of Dreams
Anatolian Weapons – Ela – Feel The Drive
Alterleo – Manon – Higher Love Recordings
Fjordfunk – Its All Black (Hardway Bros Meet Monkton Uptown) – Tici Taci
The Woodleigh Research Facility – Tongues – Rotters Golf Club
A Mountain Of Rimowa – His Brothers & Sisters In The East – Le Temps Perdu
Akio Nagase – Acid Teng Shing Hang – Darker Than Wax
Giuseppe Leonardi – Turn On Tune In – Second Circle
Mass Density Human – Dancing In Space (Hardway Bros Amorphous Remix)) – Night Noise
Glok – Cloud Cover (Andrew Weatherall Remix) – Glok
LX72 – State Of Resilience (Gerd Jansen 808 Remix) – Lexx Music
¡La Ruta! – Kibbo Kift – Days Of Being Wild
Richard Norris – Earth – Group Mind

Reference Links

Suicide, Vega & Rev
Papua New Guinea
Mad Monks On Zinc
Radio Babylon
Cheryl Lynn
Kubla Khan`s Pleasure Dome
Decadance
Andy On The Eve
Paul Simonon
Jah Wobble
Basement 5
Compulsion
Amy Douglas
Doctor`s Cat
1000 Knives
Cybotron
New Order`s Beach

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