Spirit of John Peel internet radio station Dandelion Radio marks 10 years online

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Spirit of John Peel online and alternative music specialists Dandelion Radio recently marked  ten years on air. This is worth a mention because this writer and lots of loyal others, appreciate the radio stations’s flawed homeliness; a place where the deadpan and– shock horror!– unexceptional voice cueing up that new Roy of the Ravers track isn’t about to talk over the intro, or patronisingly shout down the microphone about which celeb he or she is going down the pub with later that evening.

For something as independent as Dandelion Radio, an online fixture dependent on a hardcore of individuals, as well as a small but dedicated army of listeners, to have cemented its position, to be pushing on stronger than ever a decade on is an achievement that shouldn’t go unmarked.

Many independent and struggling acts have discovered Dandelion’s importance during these last ten years; a few of the lucky ones seeing it as a great help on their way to becoming something of a hit with a wider audience.

Dandelion has also always made sure it was important to keep alive the idea of getting acts in for sessions– another staple of the Peel show–, and it is now the official home of the Festive 50. (This is when listeners vote for their top 3 tracks of the year, that then get calculated for an end-of-year top 50. But you already knew that).

Here’s to another ten.

 

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State River Widening’s self-titled debut LP is a mostly introverted post-rock jam

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This writer remembers being surprised to learn that post-rock / slow-core trio State River Widening were from London. Everything, from the name to the open road rocky wilderness of their quite lovely music, had me almost sure they were from some southern U.S. state. As alluded to, the group’s musical attire usually consisted of long, lazy tracks of rootsy post-rockian Americana, and the occasional uptempo bit of jazzian-tinged math-rock that helped pave the way for the likes of Battles, DOSH, and possibly even Holy Fuck. Yep, so many genres found on ‘State River Widening’, but never in a too-clever-by-half manner. Far from it.

Their self-titled debut album on the Rocket Girl imprint (if you’re gonna have an album the same name as your group then it surely has to be the debut), adds some keyboard  addled slow funk grinding (the 12 minute long Interlaken), cool air, woodwind-inflected chill (the brief filler Charmfield), and tear-in-the-eye, slow dance introverted groove (Peach Republic). Final cut, the five-minute Untitled is arguably the most prettiest, and standout thing here, coming across not unlike the wonderful– and wonderfully influential– guitarist John Fahey after several cups of strong coffee.

State river Widening released two more full-lengths, each one on different labels before seemingly, appropriately, going quiet around the middle part of the noughties. Not so much breaking up in a sea of pretentious mass mourning, as drifting out into the introverted indie musical sunset. Nice music while it lasted though.

(My CD copy of ‘State River Widening’ is made from pretty cardboard packaging that appears to be recycled paper. I also notice a sticker inside marked ‘Dr Robert’, and includes the item’s catalogue no. (2139). Dr Robert was a brilliant independent record shop that opened in Church Lane, Belfast, just off High St., and remained there until it closed in 1999. This record came out in 1999, so it could well have been the very last purchase i made from that wonderful shop that housed CDs and (especially) vinyl in techno, drum & bass, electro, grunge, hardcore, reggae and much more. The two middle-aged blokes (it usually always is); one with long hair, and the other short hair (it usually always is) always stocked up on the latest alternative and specialist releases, and were usually easy-going and receptive to deal with).

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ALBUM REVIEW: Aphex Twin — ‘Cheetah’

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One gets the sense that it doesn’t take much effort for Richard D James to come up with the music he does, which makes it all the more surprising that he was inactive, on the release front at least, for about a decade. What we’ve found out since is that he’d loads of cracking tracks lying around that he has since put up as free downloads on the Soundcloud.

Latest mini album release ‘Cheetah’ gets its name from a err famously awkward synth from the eary ’90s that’s no longer available. The record follows on from last year’s ‘Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments’– another mini release– and 2014’s comeback record; the eclectic, fast-paced and acid-y concept ‘Syro’ full-length.

Meanwhile, as good as all the other, giveaway stuff was, I wondered was he in danger of diluting the appeal of any new music? The question we’re all afraid to ask is; if the awkward gait and wavy shuffle of CHEATAH2 [Ld spectrum], or the powder-box beats and rhythm that shimmy along on the future disco’d-up CIRKLON3 [kolkhoznaya mix] showed as one of these giveaway tracks, would we have spotted any difference?

The answer is possibly “no”, but any music by the ‘Twin, whether old or new, free or paid for, is still an enjoyable, if a touch oddly frustrating– head-scratchingly complex acidic drill ‘n bass–, listen.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Heurco S. — ‘For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)’

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Long, awkward title that’s a nuisance to type up (especially when the kettle’s just come to the boil) but this is where the frustration ends. ‘For Those of You Who Have Never…’ is curiously lovely; half awake-half dreaming ambient music that, despite its subtle, perfect repetition, it is impossible to skip any moments.

The music here captivates the imagination, freshens the soul. A Sea of Love is typical in the way it, over time, slowly reveals everything and nothing; blurred but beautiful pictures emerge like strange flashbacks to childhood, that seem fresh in the memory and yet impaired and impossible to grasp. Hear Me Out’s delicately weaving bells and softly hypnotizing, in-out melody is like the aural equivalent of a beautiful human from Victorian times with a secret to tell, standing at the bottom of your garden, hand out, vying for your attention. Softly gripping.

Oddly, a couple of tracks here end suddenly, but despite my initial confusion, it made sense when I realized that this was like being suddenly, unwantonly awoken from a dream. Not all modern ambient / idm albums are worthy of your attention (there are many well constructed but positively boring records out there) but ‘For Those of you Who Have Never…’ is certainly a semi masterpiece of strange and intriguing beauty that will never dull how many times you hear it

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Never seen in the same room together#1 Glen Hansard and Andre Schurrle

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Glen Hansard of Irish alt-rock group The Frames

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German and Dortmund winger Andre Schurrle

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With ‘Meat is Murder’ the Smiths broadened their shoulders and challenged the world

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Taking exactly a year to release the follow-up studio album to their much heralded, though most dated, self-titled debut LP, Manc indie heroes The Smiths were back on the scene with the in-yer-face titled ‘Meat Is Murder’. (In truth though they had never been away–, putting out several wonderful singles as well as the much-loved BBC radio sessions compilation ‘Hatful of Hallow’ at the tail-end of ’84).

‘MiM’ took the group defiantly and confidently up a gear, playing a heavier and confrontational brand of northern UK homespun and unique indie-rock, as well as lyrically brutal home truths. It’s still every bit as funny and sad, upbeat and bleak, sometimes all of these things during the same track. (I’m not sure the militant, equally genius as frustrating  Mozzer would agree, but even non vegans could appreciate this record).

‘MiM’ is like The Smiths but at the same time different. They’d matured, moved on, and with this demonstrated their Beatles-like greatness. Morrissey also broadened his shoulders here to become more of the sharp-witted and much-quotable lyricist than he was already. Less hiding behind the quiff while grasping a bunch of daffodils, more equally snarling and smirking in his new TV alt. celeb world.

Opener cut, the anti school punishment tune Headmaster Ritual err kicks in with the following powerful and clever, no-messin’-around line, “Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools/spineless swines/cemented minds”, while the other half of the crucial double act Johnny Marr plays along in typically tightly-wound and shimmering fashion.

(Though Morrissey was to the untrained eye an unmanly type of, let’s say, rock star, he was perhaps more outspoken and forthright than any other frontman around at the time, or even since; coming from similar angles, channelling not dissimilar positive frustrations, as the decade later riot grrrl movement. Kicking against the pricks, indeed).

Rusholme Ruffians brings along some rockabilly meets pure funk bass from that underrated Andy Rourke fella, while Morrissey, somewhat favourably, sings about the traditional Manchester fair’s penchant for violence. Elsewhere What She Said’s chord engine room is subtly heavy metal, and one can almost imagine it used as a motorbiker’s anthem. Single release, That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore– the one with the slow jam with the backwards guitar feedback swirl that sounds like it could’ve helped influenced My Bloody Valentine– is typical of much of the record’s downer tone (although even with the lyric “I just might die with a smile on my face after all”, one still senses Morrissey always had room for humour even in his darkest hour).

The beautiful grey suburban folk sounds of Well I Wonder still remains just about one of the genuinely saddest songs of unrequited love ever penned, and not helped by the fact Morrissey groans in pain towards the track’s runout. Barbarism Begins at Home was a live favourite and one can see why. It’s lyrically not one of Morrissey’s deeper numbers (although this seems the point, as it is just about the album’s most loose and upbeat tracks). The track is mostly all about Rourke’s cool and understated racing funk, as well as Marr’s crisp, hip shakin’ jangle-rock confidence. He’d become a really good guitarist by this stage, you know.

But it’s the final track where the joke really isn’t funny anymore. Slanted, sideways guitar– as if foreseeing the genre Americana– plays along as Morrissey half loses his voice with a mixture of utmost feeling, confusion and rage, all the while chilling sounds from an abattoir are present throughout. Powerful, not to everyone’s taste, and still a hard one to listen to let alone enjoy.

‘Meat Is Murder’ is an LP that still stands up just as impressively and fresh some thirty years on. The general opinion is that the record was surpassed a year later with the more mood shifting, humour forming– and altogether poppier– ‘The Queen id Dead’. But still, the record remains something of a turning point for the group, and one that a growing number are favouring over all the rest.

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“I wouldn’t consider us hardcore gamers but I’ve been paying attention…”: 65dos speak to Wired

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“The party was over long ago with the music industry and mostly it’s just about hanging on and surviving any way you can. Seeing this other world where things are actually on the up and there’s new things to be explored is great.” These the words of Sheffield math rockers 65dDaytsofstatic member Paul Wolinski, speaking  recently to Wired about his group’s new opus, ‘No Mans Sky: Music For An Infinite Universe’.

The interview delves into the background to the record, and how the group went about making it. Basically recorded as a soundtrack to the massive and futuristic scifi computer game built around a manifold universe, the album is out now on the Destruction of Small Ideas label. Read the interview here, and check out Blueprint For A Shadow Machine below

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