This is the weekly installment where we recap what we’ve been spinning at The Synthesizer Book headquarters during the week. If it’s on this list, it got played more than once!
1.Duran Duran-All You Need Is Now
Look, everyone has hidden pleasures. Some people have Barry Manilow. My dad has the Bee Gees. I have Duran Duran. I tend to like my music dark and often leftfield and experimental. The pages within can show you that. Nonetheless, my introduction to electronic music started with Duran Duran. I remember picking up a book in one of those mall bookstores. The book had pictures of Nick Rhodes and all his synthesizers onstage. I think I own 3 of those models now! Had I not picked up that book, I don’t know what would’ve happened. The first single I ever purchased was a purple Capitol Records 7 inch with Rio on one side and Hold Back The Rain on the other. The arpeggiator would no doubt leave a lasting impression, although it would be a while before I realized what that even was.
I was a boy that liked girls a lot. So, my choices were either the Motley Crue crowd taking tokes out by the parking lot, or pursuing girls…the kind that came with good New Wave music to share. In retrospect, both sound appealing now, but that was then and this now. I’ve seen Duran Duran about a dozen times. They are great performers. I bumped (literally) into Simon Le Bon once, while leaving a restroom. I can tell you out of the dozens of stars I have seen, met or other, it was the only time in my life that I’ve been star struck. I remember there were some women waiting just outside, and they laughed as they witnessed this spectacle of a grown man(me) feeling like a little boy all over again. Good times!
2.The Threshold Houseboys Choir-The Hangman’s Ball
This track is from Amulet. It’s a rare recording produced and made available for fans at TTHC performances. Some were intended for Form Grows Rampant, and some for a rumored documentary. There is something quite emotive in all of these tracks.
The Hangmans Ball was requested by my son earlier this morning. I’m not lying! The kids like my music. About 6 minutes into the track, he says that it reminds him of a submarine fight. Not sure where he got that idea from, but I liked it. The track is over 10 minutes in length. It kept our attention for all 10 of those minutes a few times already. Find this.
3.Oliver – Up All Night (U-Tern & Oligee)
Some people just have a knack for good production. They use intuition and, most importantly, they have an ear for creating blissful melodies, memorable hooks, and delicious beats that will remind you just why it is you liked the dance clubs in the first place. With a wide open career ahead of him, U-Tern has already made an impact with his remixes. Always great to jam with too! He has remixed bands like Holy Ghost! and then there is the Mark Ronson remix, just to name a couple of recent ones.
Oliver, though, is a collaboration by U-Tern and Oligee. I’ll have to ask him more about this, but its a great track that demands your attention…
4.Cocteau Twins-Heaven or Las Vegas
Alright, don’t get me started!….It’s Cocteau Twins and this is another band entire books should be written about. A very prolific band that will forever hold a special place in my heart. This was just a random choice during a drive and it’s brilliant like most everything else in their vast collection of recordings. My roommate several years back thought I went crazy when I listened to Cocteau Twins for a month straight!
5.Throbbing Gristle-The Third Mind Movements
I waited a couple of weeks for this to arrive in the mail. I think there is something to be said about seeking out music you really want. Downloading music is just so damn easy. Don’t get me wrong, I love that too. But, when you get a new CD and open it up and you can “slip it” into your car’s CD player, it just adds to that whole tactile function people got used to. It makes for a direct visual, physical and aural connection.
This recording was made available after their shows on one of their US tours a couple of years back. You know, I never mention it, but I love the Cornet playing of Tutti very much on these recordings over the years. On this, Endless Not and even on the X-TG stuff, her playing is solid and the effects and processing she puts it through work flawlessly. Her playing has been on my mind this week.
This has been played at least a dozen times this week. It’s a great recording that should be in your collection. Did this come out on vinyl? Watch out.
6.Katherine Young-Further Secret Origins
I purchased this earlier in the year. It’s an experimental album by Brooklyn resident and Bassoonist, Katherine Young. Who needs drone synthesizers when you can use a Bassoon. Her overall work is far more diverse than this, but this is a great experimental album that I didn’t mind waiting for. I’ve never thought of the Bassoon as a focal instrument, but if I think the Oboe can be, then why not the Bassoon, right? The sound of reeds, the clicking of valves, the breathing, and even hints of something percussive make this an interesting listen.
7.Frank Sinatra-Christmas Dreaming
It’s almost Christmas. My wife and kids love this holiday. Apparently, there is even a radio station devoted to nothing but Christmas music 24/7 too. No, that’s not a bad thing, folks. If I have to listen to a lot of Christmas music, I prefer it if this album is in the mix. I play it every year. Frank Sinatra was also a huge inspiration for his style and panache. He was also a subject I studied at length during one of my phases in university.
8.A Place To Bury Strangers-Exploding Head
I’ve missed this band play live 2 times. They’ve opened for a couple of bands and each time I arrived just too late. Arggh! This is a “wall of sound” affair for all you shoe-gazy types. I’ll never forget the bartender saying that they were very “LOUD” when I asked him how they were. No doubt! They must, with all those juicy pedals they make at their Death By Audio workshop. This a great LP. In Your Heart is a definite standout. For now, I will have to stay content with watching their in-studio performance at KEXP. Check ’em out if you haven’t already. I think they are Europe bound soon too.