Showing posts from July, 2016

Jherek Bischoff – Cistern (The Leaf Label)

I was a huge fan of Jherek Bischoff’s first album ( which featured a host of great vocal cameos from David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, Zac Pennington, Carla Bozulich and more. His second album is an instrumental affair but it packs tons of drama into the orchestral arrangements without use of words. Key thing to know – the album recordings were begun in a giant underground water tank (now empty) located at Fort Worden, an old army base in Washington state. Bischoff took himself and computer with a couple of friends down into the depths for some initial improvising and recording. The intriguing thing from this exercise is that the sounds produced informed or even directed the overall album. The length of the reverb decay in the “cistern” – 45 seconds supposedly – forced the arrangements to be slower, more measured. As he says, “I found it so interesting how much the space itself seemed to tel

The Fiction Aisle – Fuchsia days (The Chord Orchard)

A wonderful album of drifting orchestral pop from the former Electric Soft Parade man Thomas White of Brighton and friends. It is a collection of pieces unhindered by percussion or rhythm in the conventional sense. Instead each song drifts as if free of gravity and there is very much a sense of suspension above the earth in the bed of synth rumbles and drones. Opener ‘Dust’ has immediate shades of baroque in its vocal layers and meaty chords, although that feeling is soon overtaken by spacey bleeps and whines. The atmosphere of ‘Salt in the wound’ is akin to drifting in space, with echoes and whispers and asteroid trails, before a booming church organ launches behind the words “You don’t know what love is”. It’s as if White has embarked on the ultimate interplanetary journey to escape the pain and loss of earthly existence. ‘The dream’ has an unmistakeable Beach Boys flavour, a reaching chord-shifting quality similar to something like ‘A day in the life as a tree’ from

William Tyler – Modern country (Merge)

Sublime, wistful, stoic American folk and country instrumentals and no greater antidote could you find this weather to the oily pantomime of Trump. The album was informed by (back) road trips around the US over the last few years and there is a motorik pulse to be found in tunes like ‘I’m gonna live forever (If it kills me)’ and the synth drone of ‘Kingdom of Jones’. There’s a glorious ambient hum at work in tracks like ‘Gone clear’ and ‘The Great Unwind’. The tunes are maybe sombre but always hopeful, looking up, often uplifting and inspiring. Tyler’s mastery of the surge and drift of these wordless songs (instrumentals being no longer sufficient at this point) is a constant joy. There is a sense in them that familiar caricatures of the US are not to be trusted, a reminder that numerous nooks and crannies exist in Americana (as in America) that are beneath the radar of stereotype. Another absolute triumph for pop music and humanity. Modern Country by William Tyler

Lake Ruth – Actual entity (The Great Pop Supplement)

A lovely album of several appealing and different shades of baroque psych from the New York trio... ...from the heartlifting Byrdsian guitar flutter of ‘The only one who knows’; to the bass swagger of ‘The Greenfield industrialist’ reminiscient of JC Vannier; to the dreamy organ swirl of ‘Dr Snow and the Broad Street Pump’. There’s something about the vocal melodies of Allison Brice that brings to mind Morrissey, something in the swoop, the bend, the rapid descent – ‘Helium’ is a prime example. Look, it’s a new game show quiz Oh...let’s do what is sensible Or this intoxicating sequence from ‘Cabin fever’. And I know, and I know It’s not a shadow It’s something in the trees Lying in wait for me Her serene singing is placed over often frantic musical arrangements, featuring chiming tick tock guitars, restless organs, busy offbeat drum patterns. Even the pastoral ‘One night as I lay on my bed’ (a traditional folk tune not a million miles from ‘Scarborough Fai

Playlist 412 - July 26 2016

The last show before the summer recess was a round up of my favourite music of 2016 so far. Cate Le Bon feeling the joy of wonky Tortoise being a delicious groove beast The Fiction Aisle making gorgeous gloomy orchestral pop A Dyjecinski making lugubrious soulful and sexy Iggy Pop, Tarwater & Alva Noto taking Walt Whitman downtown for some treatment Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld creating the most beautiful brooding chamber atmospheres Whyte Horses in the embrace of bouncy Franco sych pop More on these pages and watch out also for a 2nd instalment of this mid year review, coming soon. The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy Playlist 412 Tues July 26 2016 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here

Elias Krantz – Patchwork (from the album Lifelines, Control Freak Kitten Records)

Entrancing beat-driven minimalist instrumental from the Swedish artist. Thrilling shades of dancefloor Tortoise, a hint of Battles, a brilliantly conducted extended jazz groove. There are saxophones, thudding drums, insinuating melodies, juicy interlocking analogue synth grooves. Yum yum. Track 3 in this playlist

Moon Bros – These stars (from the album These stars, Western Vinyl)

Sublime evocation of the wide open spaces of America courtesy of Matt Schneider of Chicago with some friends from that city’s notable musical underground... distinct from Nashville which might seem at first listen like a better home musically. A quixotic rising voice singing to itself and keeping its own tune, a creaky chair, a simple strum, a shimmering steel guitar. It’s all very low maintenance but still demands your full attention. A rough diamond. Maybe not so Nashville after all. It is totally captivating. These Stars by Moon Bros.

Playlist 411 - July 19 2016

The Moles have a new album out next month, which is great news, and even better it sounds really good. You'll find a song from it in this wk's show. Lawrence Arabia new album, more great sunshine pop with an edge. Stephen Steinbrink sits well with that, smooth AM sounds with an undercurrent of unease. Astronauts , another example of hushed but devastating songs. Elias Krantz makes lovely groovy minimalist instrumentals, jazz rock you might say. Marielle V Jakobsons makes wonderful long form drone sounds with violins and guitars. And Melt Yourself Down , space rock jams for the ages. More on these pages. The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy Playlist 411 Tues July 19 2016 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here

Playlist 410 - July 12 2016

Most welcome new music this week from North Sea Radio Orchestra , a unit built around songwriter/composer Craig Fortnam which makes great progressive folk music with elements of pastoral and minimalist classical music. The new song is just as wonderful as we've come to expect, hopefully more from them soon. Cate Le Bon being brilliant and wonky ("I want to make sense with you") and then producing Drag City compadre Tim Presley into somewhat similar shapes. Scott & Charlene's Wedding sounding like a more invigorated late VU (is the Maureen of the title Mo Tucker by any chance?). Bat For Lashes contemplating marriage in lovely dreamy unsettling tones. Some dancing interludes featuring Todd Terje & The Olsens covering Yellow Magic Orchestra , Holy Fuck getting dreamy and The Avalanches getting nice and beaty. And something old from The Chills getting a reissue on Flying Nun - jaunty and effortless and sublime heart on sleeve guitar pop. More o

Playlist 409 - July 5 2016

The Fiction Aisle is a band you'll be hearing plenty about round here over the next while. It's Thomas White , ex Electric Soft Parade , of Brighton and he makes gorgeous but intriguing and often unsettling orchestral pop music. On this week's show we had his cover of a Camera Obscura tune which finds some kind of ambient rush that the original cunningly hid. Straight after was Camera Obscura themselves, always good to be reminded of their broken pop genius. Vinyl Williams with some great magic carpet cosmic soul. Lawrence Arabia plying a lovely late Beatles fed through post punk sound. Lake Ruth , on the baroque end of psych pop, great stuff. And August Wells , currently on tour over here, compelling bruised soul. More on these pages. The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy Playlist 409 Tues July 5 2016