Retrospect is a weird form of hindsight when it comes to music. What the fuck does that mean? In a classics context, the Velvet Underground are diistilled mammoths of “heard it all before mate, drop the mid range, cut the bass”. Not today, Friday 28th May at 16:18, time of writing
If I had to pick one tune for balls out attitude and opening up the valve on an absolute shagfest of low swung trance, dissonance and a return riding over plains of teenage speed-freak acne, it’s
If you’d asked what to cite in 1988, it would’ve been Venus in Furs or Shiny, distracted by Holland‘s mastery in Euro 88 and the Hacienda catching two smoking nights - Nude and Hot. Voodoo Ray, Promised Land and Blue Monday probably define a haze of draw devotion and blagging lifts to Manchester. The era is soaked in nostalgia and that isn’t my intended focus, the music is
Graham Park, Mike Pickering, Factory and Warp knights of the realm, masters of range and fun. 88 was the first year of Alfredo tapes (that Chris Rea tune is shit mind), a still booming currency of records and tapes by The Pop Group, The Residents and The Fall, c90 compendiums of the masses. Caned to death, even if it’s been a while old friend, have to include
Let’s talk drugs and the mind-manifesting and embodied properties they facilitate. Set and setting or binging on unfolding secrets of the universe/otherworld only to forget later. Society still seemed soaked in drink, valium, jellies and heroin in the late 80’s. Speed and acid could never top a heavy binge blitzkrieg of rare MDMA, the transition from mosh pit to Eleusis (never mind Arcadia), insert anecdotal cliche of spangled revelations in kitchens on Sundays mornings as posted previously
First real ripple from a bloke named Weatherall and Jr BO, the type of unfolding future Mr Fisher honed in on later with jungle in mind. Labels and so much quality hip hop it’s almost impossible to define the range of beats produced. As Eastern Europe and the USSR staggered, you’d balance everything on getting to Eastern Bloc. Tectonic and from the House thread lord have fucking mercy if this doesn’t weave a spell
Mrs Wash had 1st dibs over a run of late night viewing since Easter, in-between split-shifts and our current Covid hellscape. "I Claudius" recently concluded and the theme tune is a genuine bomb jingle for the purple, serving up Caesarian mischief as the depravity of Tiberius and Caligula is offset by Livia's continual scheming and murders. The musical theme intro, like the series itself, is as good as anything the BBC's produced. I was too young to see the program initially, but i recall my folks ushering us to bed early beforehand, whispers about cleavage and murder wafting up the wooden hill. I love it - Brian Blessed, Sian Phillips, George Baker, John Hurt, Patrick Stewart and Derek Jacobi - and it still rocks
Actors and plots aside, the intro theme's unsurpassed blast of ascending and descending scales adds a spiralling heft to the chaos of imperial pomp and bombast. The composition quickly gives way to softer flute harmonics (which i wish there was more of), as the serpent slithers over archaic mosaic portraiture. Unfortunately, an "official" YT version seems a bit smoother than the one broadcast. Where the original has a boiling scream for an entry and far more drama, YT's watery/toned down alternative is the only one available, hence including an audio rip to help articulate this consideration. Help yourself and indulge the series too if you can
To offset the genius of I Claudius, a series of aural prolapses from the BBC that garnished its sports coverage for aeons. Anyone who heard such monstrosities can guess what's coming... the sound of stranded rain-sodden, dead-end days and nights, all 3-channel choices clogged with soul-sapping crap. There must have been committees who met and pontificated over moods and selections, wtf were they thinking? The first is among the worst, both saggy and hoary. To me, it sounds like the faded, flared denim of Status Quo, with a tinge of Bay City Rollers. Behold the wankathon that is the game we call snooker
Appalling memories. To compound this sense of disgust, a more up-beat synth work out, the antithesis of the reality of watching competition darts. Listen for the triplet of thunk-thunk-thunks symbolising darts hitting an actual board. Genius imagination folks
Skiing. Who even did that? Coined up cunts from Nottingham High School, that's who. Strings (@Corpsey ) so infinitely terrible they signalled a slow death of exclusivity as some cunt called Franz Klammer slalomed through networks of poles. The crashes were pretty cool mind, but no-one really gave a fuck because something better would inevitably follow. As dramatic as a cum-soaked sock
Wimbledon. The Ra never bombed it which was shamefully negligent, ISIS too, primo "legitimate target" imho. Only thing i ever used a tennis racket for was swatting flies. Every year, this bizarre annual rite of white-clad heroes and heroines would vomit themselves all over peak-summer. I absolutely despised Wimbledon. The strawberries and cream, weird dress codes and nonce-in-chief Cliff Richard singing in the rain, all infused together into a whiter than white diarrhoea palette of Englishness. I don't hate England btw, just some of its coded peculiarities. A tune more suited to the 1950's, but Auntie Beeb stuck with it and EVERY summer you'd encounter its epic malevolence. So bad it defies language
Cricket has historically proven an unenviable past-time for those of us from north of the border and over the Irish Sea, but at least the broadcasts included a track by Booker T. Dropping that now would be a cop-out. Listen instead to what the BBC incorporated into Grandstand, its leading weekend round up of sports results, echoing the hollow sound of valium-&-cider soaked oblivion because you couldn't score any draw
Lastly, the original samba-heavy, chirpy brass theme to MOTD. This tune, perhaps more than any other, perfectly encapsulates the disconnect between British aspiration and the dull grey, rain-lashed crash of collective reality. It's had an upgrade in the last few years, but behold the perfect awfulness that besmirched our national game's broadcasting for decades. A genuine war crime
@WashYourHands The Ski Sunday theme brings back horrific memories of childhood Sunday evenings and the sinking realisation you had to return TO SCHOOL the next day. That and The Clothes Show (and Howards' Way). Only respite was when the luge team crashed and didn't move: the BBC cameras should have honed in on THAT.
Skiing was one of those aspirational wet dreams back in the '80s, wasn't it - hanging out at some wine bar in Gstaad in your onesie with a bunch of tanned chicks. There was a short-lived Luton teen death cult who used to wear fluorescent ski clobber and kick the shit out of anyone who wore black, but nobody seems to remember them (I found one on FB who mildly tolerated me, and he hasn't changed). Does skiing have socialite clout anymore? Probably all Bitcoin conference hot tub parties now.
The snooker theme is like the game itself - pathetic. Incidentally, The Chain is about Stevie Nicks' house move falling through.
The Weekend World theme was OK. Would have been cool to blare that out last year, with footage of mounted cops hitting traffic lights, 5G towers on fire, etc.
Luge crash! Or the opposite, if you went to mass on a Sunday evening and as you waited to go in a sullen, crumpled heap of defeat on the sofa, some Swiss cunt would ski jump like a flying squirrel down an exotic part of the Alps
If you ever caught it on jellies and cider it'd go all woodcarver Steiner
Tv soundscapes of the collective subconscious give torque to life's shifting gears as the Berlin Wall came down. You'd get a comparable sense of the power of that specific event if Covid ever ends, the release and immeasurable positivity. A circuit break from decades long existential dread about nuclear horror and Dr Strangelove's prescience. Landscaping the terrain of awfulness that accumulated in the mid/late 80's, its calcified soul and fag-stained wallpaper, contrasts with the rare alignment window when House smashed this country's back doors in.
House and altered states were foundational experiences. The Hacienda, Venus and Rhythm Collision molten bedlam, Tonka and DiY sound systems slaying dancefloors. "Expect the unexpected". Hacienda was a tough door, experienced a 3-headed goddess sitting on a speaker once and two foot high fish moving round everwhere like an aquarium. Never go with short erses or peckers, land of the lost and found. Venus rotations with Flying/Weatherall, DiY and Nottingham was bewitched. Anarchy doesn't do it justice. Long hair in full effect, discover the Zap through Tonka, Berkshire goes time-crystallised technicolour Balearic. Sounds paradoxically weird and smooth, the cream constantly rediscovering itself
DiY, again, walked the walk and broke so many records. They could play mesmeric, paradoxical, outrageous sets. Even football, the ultimately riotous, collectively transcendent experience of jouissance, couldn't match the humanitas of where consciousness can manoeuvre and operate at. You test the Hacienda on microdots, clear-caps and doves. Microdots, tiny eviscerating pin-heads of entire faith systems and world-views. Light years pass holding on, their memory makes me shudder even now. Untold tripper regrets fallen too deep into a microdot singularity
What can't be recast from memory palaces are the power punches of sound systems that dosed your ears and soul with bottom end and spot on separation, rigs that punched your chest cavity in and no tinnitus after. If the volume went to 0-zero it was black-noise quiet. And fear not, House loathers, there'll be enough differences in music in between stfu and play the tunes you pretentious cunt
White dove monster, platinum cicada synth wobble into vocal church
Snare-rim ripple, dare you not to bounce and bass for miles, you think yeah, so, but then the chords and vocals ooze in and you're like a fiery meteor, careful now
Possibly one of my favourite records, it achieves lift off and shout out to the lost it on the speakers crew
Alleviated. You know it's going to be on bossing it
Which leads to the spew-bag moniker that saturates the term deepness. Time is the litmus test for these records - they were otherworldly then and remain enigmatic, harmony-rich blends that still punch now. Primo examples are Larry Joseph's Move and Groove (the vocal mix) and Master C/Liz Torres' In the City (club mix). Spacious, insane compression on kick drums and above all joyous. You can crack the cynic with joy and i worship at the alter of these 2
Too many. 1988 threw up this gem too, one for the ladies and a Hacienda behemoth. The first time the name Kevin Hedges cropped up of Blaze infamy. Stir well with white doves and a sweat-pit of a venue, stand back and witness the blast zone
Tape-massive relic lost to time. Rediscovered later and always fresh, Shamany Enfluence by Zoviet France was part of a 10am comedown, pickled to delirium tape compilation, unmixed and played to death. All hiss and rumble. Copied, multi-generational, “Wreked“ scribbled on a c90 missing in action. A porthole into music that has stayed with me ever since
I don’t know how you define Zoviet France or if it even helps trying. They exist as authentic visionaries in the field of electronic music, with a Newcastle backdrop and the North Sea leering. Their music has so many fluid flow-states, it’s difficult not to make influence inferences. Sweeping, vast harmonic topographies. Texture as structure. Without Zoviet France you wouldn’t have acts like Mirror. You could add Colin Potter’s network too
What this track exemplifies are the mood synths and arrangement hues ZF had in spades. The lp isn’t as good as others overall. What it does have in its Zardoz-esque sleeve is the magical first 2/3rds of
Kids back in school, so do it or don’t. The only way I know how to do this is through a microcosm of sound system belters. The totality of 88-96 is impossible to attempt to surmise or grasp compounded by too much good music. There are countless threads here on House, hardcore, NY rave-orientated releases, Todd Terry, jungle’s zenith, the transition from hardcore, the nuum, Todd Edwards and multiple/singular interpretations thereof. All I can do is show a way through a slightly different lens, more northerly and free party based. Add the surrealist politics of the Berlin Wall coming down, 89’s expanse into uncharted drug combination realms, never ending record digging, Poll tax riots rows through to Chipping Sodbury ‘91 and Castlemorton ‘92
The first is ever so slightly cheesy. Draw your E buzz up with the funk manifesto of Knight Action (pitched up to +4), pulling your mind out through saucered, spiralling eyes that would be mirrored everywhere you looked. Add a bass line that could be an Essex synth contorting on too many microdots = epiphany
Wreckhead massive, driving to and from the Hacienda annihilated on acid and doves. or piled into a car lost in the Pennines on the way home. There is no romance here, only total commitment to a community of chaos
The north’s answer to the rest of the world in one track?
One of the most caned records ever, it reappeared on rotation during a recent mushroom excursion. Off-world-esque and the spoken intro line might be one of my favourite ever moments in electronic music. It hints at a breathy seduction but instead you enter a dubby acid-groove psychosphere typical of sets by Eddie Richards and early Harvey tapes
Peaking, too fucked to even answer a question, so jack
Plateau. Trax takes you down its unique acid hole
Cultural Vibe - Power. Power beats, power trance, power harmonies, power pianos, but every second is deftly handled
Coming down, take more drugs, you’d have to be a chair or table not to strut your legs around (in a random kitchen in Salford at sunrise) to
Dozens and dozens and these are mostly 80’s tunes. The Zap in Brighton overturned by Tonka had a sublime run coinciding with Venus hitting its straps, so I’ll try and boil each down to a few tracks next (self-note remember Burrell fool)
Last Hacienda classics and retro-active, Glossop signalling the beginning of a porthole into space. Add frying neural networks in Hulme Crescents all weekend. Hulme was like a Soviet disaster in concrete and an ideal place to score. Nearly all the records on this page rang out through its labyrinthine structures before it was levelled. Pfantasy Club smashes it as Mancunian sweat-pit stomp.
First tune i nailed mixing double copies of, the drop into the segue is so much better than the initial irksome minutes = extend the bits you love for 3 days
Mike Pickering salvo. Don't get me wrong, M-People were a war crime but for a few years alongside G Park the pair fuckin bossed it. Timeless transportation tools such as DIU/Deep in Underground
A pinnacle in the art of creating a groove through sheer simplicity. For me the organ keys will never age. It defines the late 80's - melancholic but look you in the eye levels of openness. Only to be dusted off every 5 years. While you may want to clear out the past to make way for the future by demolition, some tracks still have transcendental agency in spades. Middlebrow? Cup my balls
As the Hacienda slid to shit, Saturday night/Sunday morning Nottingham got the biggest wake up call of its existence. Under the noses of every cunt, a small group of miscreants started a collective with the aim of running a sound system to counter the circus of orbital promotions. Enter DiY. Time is a cruel scatterer when it comes to community, safe to say the city has never known anything like it before or since.
Avoiding money as much as possible and choosing a wide variety of sites to host a weekend created confluences of hugely diverse arrays of people. Human zoos with a genuine quest for soul flight communion, altogether different than the attached Arcadian/pastoral tag baggage might suggest. It could never last, we all get wise to reality's inevitable comedown, yet for a wee while the city itself levitated
Fuck it, one more to contrast before bed. Nitzer Ebb smashed it with this record. The instrumental is the ace. NE's vocals never worked the way S Mallinder's Cabs bark did. Instead, with the vocal removed all of its bass weight cuts through like a saw. Of the various NE records bought, this is the only one kept and still played