Archive for September, 2010

Great piece on Rockfeedback by Errors. Click the link at the end to check out loads more great stuff on their website.

Bruce Haack- The Electric Lucifer (1970)                 

 When I was 17 I wrote a concept album based on a war between a society of ants and a race of robots influenced by the then recent events of September 11th. That pioneering electronic composer Bruce Haack had 33 years prior to this recorded a concept album based on a war between Heaven and Hell with a backdrop of the Vietnam war (and the USA’s > turbulent socio-economic climate at the time) has lead me to instantly feel a level of affinity towards the composer.

Haack began making music for children, composing records to teach kids dance movement and spatial awareness. Child-like qualities and nursery rhyme melodies can be detected throughout all his music despite the themes often being pretty dark. A good example of this is ‘Song of The Death Machine’ which has the vague melody of the nursery rhyme ‘Oh My Darlin’ Clementine’ but deals with the subject of machines conquering over man-kind, a reference to 2001′s HAL, who sings ‘Clementine’ as he begins to power down. There are definitely references to the BBC Radiophonic workshop, in particular Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills, with a proclivity for sci-fi “space” sounds which is also reminiscent of Joe Meek’s I Hear A New World from exactly a decade before.

Haack’s production is ad hoc with the set-up appearing pretty ramshackle- given that Haack created a lot of the analogue machines himself with no formal training, this is hardly surprising. The lo-fi nature of the recording certainly appeals to me. It also seems pretty relevant today with the current zeitgeist for homemade/lo-fi production and analogue sounds. There are elements of Wendy/ Walter Carlos’ Switched on Bach released 1 year prior to Electric Lucifer. Despite the derision with which Haack seems to view it, the influence is clearly present. The difference between the two records however is that rather than electronic instruments being used to describe/ revisit the past, Haack seems to be genuinely attempting to push things forwards, whilst also utilising the sounds of his age (acid rock and psychedelia) and discussing the pertinent issues of the time: war / persecution / religion / paranoia and examining the increasing involvement of machines in our everyday lives.

Amongst other things Electric Lucifer reminds me of the Mamas and the Papas/ (thematically) The Beach Boys/Scott Walker (vocally) and the West Coast Psychedelic Rock movement through the use of multi-layered vocals- heavy reverb and “hippy” themes. ‘Love is All’ is a good example of this as it is based of the concept of ‘powerlove’, a force so powerful that it will save mankind from the  forces of evil and even cheer up Lucifer himself. ‘National Anthem to the Moon’ could easily be a Doors track featuring all the hallmarks such as the repetitive blues-style bass/ guitar riff, it is perhaps the fact that Haack mixes the familiar with his other-worldly/unfamiliar sound that makes this music so unsettling and  effective. It is music that appears very familiar to us but presented to us in an unfamiliar way. Despite the influences of modern music, Electric Lucifer is not a pop album. The tracks are not structured like pop songs- bursts of interference interrupt songs halfway through, perhaps as a thematic technique or possibly the result of experimenting. A pop album would be unlikely to end with 5 minutes of contemplative silence – Electric Lucifer does (‘Being Silent’).

The influence from his previous work where he was employed to create jingles for TV advertisements is present throughout- some tunes being more like interludes with the short timeframe of TV adverts. Parallels with the work of pioneering electronic composer Raymond Scott can be drawn. Scott also worked in the same field- the two were later to collaborate in fact. Sadly none of the recordings from this collaboration have survived. Haack is interested in the soul of machine/ electronic based music and uses such instruments not to separate us from machines but in an attempt to unite us, hence Haack’s music never appears cold despite the instruments and techniques used. The front cover of Electric Lucifer contains the quote “I do a lot with touch, let electricity flow through our bodies and touch each other and the electricity becomes sound.” This is something he literally demonstrated on a TV show, turning a row of 12 people into a physical keyboard circuit with each person creating a note when touched by the player.

The religious concept pervades the album aesthetically as well as lyrically with the use of church organ sounds and gospel-style hyperbole (‘Incantation’) adding to this otherworldly feel of the music.  Haack built his own vocoder and was one of the first artists to make use of the piece of hardware. He named and credits the voice as “Farad” after the English physicist Michael Faraday who, similarly to Haack, had an experimental approach  to his work with his achievements resulting in the widespread availability of electricity and to whom Haack acknowledges as a personal hero. It is worth mentioning that Haack’s use of the vocoder predated Kraftwerk who weren’t to make use of until several years later.

A collection of Haack’s most well known tracks has just been made available which will hopefully help to heighten awareness of a person who genuinely deserves the genius label. For anyone keen to delve into the mysterious world of Bruce Haack properly, Electric Lucifer is definitely the best place to start.


A lovely video session with one of our favourites Woodpigeon. Here they are playing ‘…And as the ship went down’ in what looks like a disused reservoir/dam. It looks a bit like the one used in one of The Terminator films but it probably isn’t.

Regardless, Woodpigeon bring their own evocative power, with the ever-beautiful interplay of the male and female vocals. The session was filmed for Le Cargo in Paris. It seems like Paris is a real hotbed for these interesting live performances, and between Le Blogoteque and Le Cargo they seemed to have it nailed.

(Woodpigeon // 4th October // XOYO)

We’ve just seen some pictures from the European Blonde Redhead dates and the production is looking great. The band have been playing some bigger venues across Europe, touring their excellent new album, and throwing in favourites from their always seminal backcatalog.

The bigger production in these venues has let the band loose into their own magical world of huge photo-shades and lightbulbs across the stage. It looks spectacular and we can’t wait to see it up-close tonight.

We still have some tickets for tonight if you want to see what promises to be one of 2010′s best shows.

(Blonde Redhead // 29th September // Shepherd’s Bush)

Tomorrow night (29/09) we are so so excited to host Feted New York trio BLONDE REDHEAD plus Londoner Mauro Remiddi aka PORCELAIN RAFT.

Taking in nine countries (with more still to be added), the Blonde Redhead tour coincides with the worldwide release of Penny Sparkle, their first album in over three years and eighth in an already illustrious career. The record marks another sonic twist for the band wth Van Rivers and The Subliminal Kid (Fever Ray, Glasser) enlisted to co-produce and Alan Moulder (Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) recalled to mix it. The album is a stunning listen and is sure to be earning many plaudits from critics in the months to come.

Porecelain raft makes hushed, dreamy bedroom pop with the help of some synths and effects pedals. Remiddi creates a world of looped rhythms and lustrous melodies with complicated layers of reverb and effects, transporting you to another world of hazy soundscapes. Check them out over at the Guardian band of the day here.



Tuesday 28th: Amiina at XOYO

Tickets available here.

Wednesday 29th: Blonde Redhead + Porcelain Raft at Shepherds Bush Empire

Tickets available here.

Thursday 30th: The Kissaway Trail at Cargo

Tickets available here.

Thursday 30th: Four Tet Live at Oxfam

Full info here.

Friday 1st: Born in London with Ghost Poet + Radiant Dragon + There’s More of Us than there are of you at The Rich Mix

Full info here.

Errors and The Twilight Sad have recorded a special podcast for Rock Action. It’s chock full with amusing banter and amazing music. Perfect for a Friday Afternoon!

Something nice, informative and light for you for Friday. Here is a nice little making-of video for Of Montreal’s latest video. Some great homemade weapons, and the guy lying facedown on the beach looks colder than the rain in London. So it has that bonus of making you feel warmer.

Can’t wait for the show in October now!

(Of Montreal // 6th October // KOKO)

We are getting excited about Junip in a couple of weeks supported by the brilliant Woodpigeon. This live video was shot at a recent Junip show in Stockholm. They play tightly, and Jose Gonzales definitely sounds in his element with this expanded sound. The album is great and well worth checking out too!

You can listen to the entire show HERE and get yourself prepped for October 4th.

And check out this nice pitchfork review of the new album HERE

(Junip // October 4th // XOYO)

The new Blonde Redhead video debuted this week. It’s sultry and dark with the band playing in a big spotlight. The simplicity works as it relies on the bands chemistry – which is pretty abundant here, and highlights just what a good live band these guys are. Plus there are some projections of Horses. Pretty much all you need.

We expect the light show will be something similarly special next week, and we’re looking forward to it!

(Blonde Redhead // 29th September // O2 Shepherds Bush)

MDBC Abstraction from Ghostly International on Vimeo.

As you should know by now, the new Matthew Dear album is incredible. One of the best of the year with its ear melting bass and pitched vocals. Stand out track ‘Little People (Black City)’ has been given the Mark E treatment and his remix is rude with hugeness, embracing the vocals with all manner of good sounds.

Check out this little teaser clip with its equally pleasing Alex Mac body-dissolves.