Circuit Running- November 2016 – Coldcut, Soulwax, Aphex Twin
Welcome to the second in our regular roundup of all things electronica Circuit Running, After being graced by the arrival a new album by The Orb to kick of the column in proper style last month, there’s been a long awaited release from another equally if not even more important act in the history of the genre. Coldcut’s pedigree stretches back almost three decades, when they were instrumental in kicking off the cut and paste era of sampler music with seismic white labels like ‘Beats & Pieces’ and ‘Say Kids What Time Is It?’….
After that, and a series of chart topping hits, they went on to found and shape the hugely vital Ninja Tune label, giving birth to the careers from everyone from DJ Food and Funki Porcini to Mercury Music Prize winners Young Fathers and Speech Debelle.
Although they’ve been involved in a few film soundtracks and art projects in recent years, the ‘Only Heaven;’ EP – out last week – is their first conventional studio release for something like eight years. One of the advantages of founding a record label empire is, presumably, that you have a load of top talent on tap when it comes to releasing your own tunes. So two of the five tracks on the EP feature another of their much celebrated signings, one Roots Manuva, taking care of the vocal duties. The title track, especially, bears echoes of the Portishead/Tricky/Massive Attack axis, only with lyrical concerns that are total living in the post-Brexit world.
But all five tracks, including another topical tune called ‘Donald’s Wig’ voiced by Roses Gabor and driven by Luke Vibert-style drum and bass beats, are worth checking, as is the remix package featuring reworkings from Matthew Herbert and Special Request. In short, it’s been too long.
The sign of a true legend is constant reappraisal and reinvention, a quality which is equally applicable to Colin Newman of Wire fame as Coldcut. As well as being active with the post-punk pioneers – big plans are apparently in pipeline for 2017 – he’s also one half of the duo Immersion along with Malka Spigel, whose latest offering ‘Analogue Creatures’ places nine tracks across 10”s of vinyl. There’s something magical about their sound, which throbs and pulsates like the sounds of a big city heard in the distance or in the middle of the night. This is trance in the original sense of the word – nothing to do with dodgy chart hits or trustafarians in Goa – with a hypnotic, building atmosphere made from ambient electronics and minimally employed guitars. Check this video for ‘Always The Sea’ from the album, shot by Malka herself, for further evidence of their effortless sonic glide.
Very much in keeping with our returning legends theme this month, the mighty Soulwax, the Belgian four-piece who also occasionally rule the world of the clever mashup as 2ManyDjs, have just released their first new single for 11 years. With the catchy title of ‘Transient Progam For Drums & Machinery’, it’s a downbeat synthpop affair with nods to Kraftwerk and (very) early New Order. Worth checking out, certainly, but the thing you really mustn’t miss is their awesome 56-minute mix paying tribute to the magic of Japanese electro pop wizards Yellow Magic Orchestra. Every track is connected to the band in some way, with a few solo outings from Bowie collaborator Ryuichi Sakamoto proving among the highlights. No need for updating or remixing here, the YMo sounds was always light years ahead of the crowd, and remains gloriously shiny and futuristic here, just weaved together in an ingenious and sensitive fashion by the Soulwax chaps.
While electronica’s old guard may be on the rise this month, there’s obviously a whole host of newer artists doing the proverbial do too. Sage Caswell’s 10 track ‘Hoop Earring’ album arrives in the shops via San Francisco’s Spring Theory label this week, and its mixture of gritty ambient sounds and perky techno – the wonderfully named ‘Danny’s Telephone Voice’ being a great example of the latter –it’s one you’ll find yourself returning to over and over again.
Another act to watch is Camea, hailing from Seattle originally but now based in Berlin. Her new single ‘Signs’ drops this week on the Neverwhere label. It’s a beautiful, ultra-harmonic and mellow techno workout with echoes of Global Communication at their most optimistic and cheerful, and come backed with a truly irresistible cyber disco reworking from Ian Pooley as an added bonus.
The Micronaut, meanwhile, follows the recent issue of the fouth volume in his ‘Fenou Bouquet’ compilation series with a full length LP on December 9. ‘Forms’ is probably the most eclectic and ambitious album in the column this month, spanning everything from diced drum & bass beats on ‘Oval’ to vocal tracks, all re-imagined through his trademark of glitch production.
A new album is also in pipeline from chillout king Mixmaster Morris aka The Irresistible Force, according to the man himself’s social media, with Jah Wobble of Public Image Limited fame contributing to some tracks. Hats off to the Mixmaster, too, for two tips he’s put our way through Facebook posts in the past few days. A new track from Japanese producer Kaidi Tatham titled ‘Two Tens Madam’…
Which has a jaunty, jazzy feel that reminds us of Jimi Tenor or Patrick Pulsinger. as well as the latest upload from The Orb on Mixcloud. Having seen their main man Alex Paterson DJing over the massive Brixton Academy sound system before Killing Joke‘s show at the venue, we can’t get enough.
No news about a new Aphex Twin album, although he tends to bash them out when you’re least expecting. In any case, he is definitely busy preparing for the first in what looks like being a full season of festival appearances. He put together this amazing promo video for the first, at the Night and Day festival in Texas in December 17, which arrived a few days before the US election.
The Warp records site has since announced that he’ll be playing Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain on May 30 and Field Day in Hackney, London on June 2, and we suspect more with follow. If you can’t wait until then, you’ll have to satisfy yourselves with this demo video of the new Korg keyboard the Monologue, which actually features a number of special musical scales constructed for the company by Richard ‘Aphex’ James himself.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.