Human-centred decisions

Tag: Experimental music

  • Kid A at 20

    Radiohead’s Kid A, released 20 years ago today, is my favourite album. There are two reasons why.

    Kid A album cover detail
  • Lovefingers — Silver Apples

    Silver Apples synth pioneer Simeon Coxe dies aged 82 It’s probably a bit inaccurate to describe Simeon Coxe as a synth pioneer. A pioneer he was, but his musical inventions predated the widespread use of synthesisers. They in fact involved a set-up known as the simeon machine, consisting of “more than a dozen” oscillators. When […]

    Silver Apples album cover
  • Ac Ae — 5 acoustic cover versions of Autechre tracks

    You may think many things when you hear a track by Autechre. But “I could make a cover version of this” is probably not among them.

    Ac Ae.
  • Autechre live in Glasgow, 15 April 2005

    Autechre have recently released long-anticipated official recordings from their 2016 and 2018 tours, which I am currently (slowly) working my way through. But on this day 15 years ago in Glasgow, Autechre performed perhaps their mightiest live set ever. I love this almost as much as any of their albums. A lot of IDM-heads celebrate […]

  • Treefingers (Extended Version) — Radiohead

    Radiohead there, just casually adding an extra minute to a legendary 20-year-old track. They may have declared that they are taking a “year away” from music, but they still manage to find ways of keeping fans going. The recent launch of the Radiohead Public Library generously provides free access to a vast amount of archive […]

    Treefingers (Extended Version) cover
  • Pricks — Gescom

    In 1998, Gescom released MiniDisc, said to be the first ever MiniDisc-only release. (I believe the CD artwork, shown here, is a photo of a Sony bigwig showing it off at an event.) A mere eight years later, MiniDisc was already obsolete, at least in the home. The music was given a CD release, and […]

    MiniDisc artwork (CD version)
  • Squarepusher — Vortrack [Fracture Remix]

    This tune has disturbed me. Since I heard it, a distressing sentence has floated around in my head: “This is the best Squarepusher track in 14 years.” 14 years. Count it up. I think I was 15 years old when I first discovered Squarepusher. To the young Squarepusher fan I was, it’s been almost a […]

    Vortrack cover
  • Love Without Sound — White Noise

    It’s Delia Derbyshire Day, which this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of An Electric Storm by White Noise. Delia Derbyshire may be best known for her part in the realisation of the Doctor Who theme tune — and her wider work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. But her involvement with the White Noise project saw […]

    An Electric Storm cover
  • French Disko — Stereolab

    For the past couple of years Stereolab have been reissuing most of their back catalogue. It’s been a great opportunity for me to fill the gaps in my collection (which, shamefully, was more gap than collection). My first exposure to this song was in 2005, when I was watching late night Channel 4 and saw […]

  • Ágætis byrjun — Sigur Rós

    Music was one of the jobs I was put in charge of for our wedding. Alex isn’t particularly interested in music. We don’t have any shared musical memories. We don’t have “our song”. So that made some aspects of the wedding planning tricky. For instance, there were no obvious candidates — or, indeed, any candidates […]

    Ágætis byrjun cover
  • Jarv Is… Yes yes yes yes

    Jarv Is… Yes yes yes yes

  • Rainbow — Battles

    Their single Atlas may have got the most attention, but for me it was Rainbow that was the centrepiece of Battles’ extraordinary 2007 album Mirrored. It mixed cartoonish melodies with prog rock hardness. I first came across Battles on the release of EP C/B EP, a compilation of their early EPs. Hearing SZ2 for the […]

    Mirrored cover
  • Vexations — Erik Satie

    Erik Satie’s Vexations is shrouded in mystery. It was not published during Satie’s lifetime. It’s thought it was composed in 1893. But it went undiscovered until 1963, when John Cage first performed it publicly. It is just three lines long, but is accompanied by this ambiguous instruction (translated from French): In order to play the […]

    Erik Satie portrait
  • I’m 49 — Prefab Sprout

    I’ve been aware of Paddy McAloon’s 2003 album I Trawl the Megahertz for a while. While I’d always meant to pick it up, I never got round to it. In a sense it’s just as well, as this year it was re-released, remastered, and repackaged as a Prefab Sprout album. Suffering with health problems, Paddy […]

    I Trawl The Megahertz cover
  • Scott Walker

    Every so often I hear a piece of music that turns my understanding of music upside down. Scott Walker made one of those tracks. I knew I had to investigate further.

    Part of the cover of the Drift
  • Halogen — Kelly Moran

    I was introduced to Kelly Moran by her first album on Warp Records, Ultraviolet, released a few months ago. For some reason (OK, maybe the Warp thing) I had assumed it was electronic music. So I was astonished to learn from this video that it’s actually a live prepared piano. Stunning stuff. From that, I […]

    Ultraviolet cover
  • Aus – Ein — Jon Brooks

    Gary Hustwit’s new documentary Rams, about the designer Dieter Rams, is released digitally today. It’s bound to be good — not least because it features original music by Brian Eno. But perhaps it would have been more apt to include music from the Jon Brooks album Music for Dieter Rams. Every sound on this record, […]

    Music for Dieter Rams cover
  • Vitamin C — Can

    Somewhat required while I’ve been ill.

    Ege Bamyasi cover
  • Re-appraising Drukqs by Aphex Twin

    When it came out in 2001, Drukqs divided critics. But for me, it’s still the most important Aphex Twin album.

    Drukqs album cover detail
  • The Visitation — White Noise

    White Noise was formed by David Vorhaus, Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson. The latter two were pioneers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the facilities of which were covertly used for a couple of the tracks on their album An Electric Storm. (For the uninitiated, Delia Derbyshire is best known for the original realisation of the […]

    An Electric Storm cover
  • The Spell of a Vanishing Loveliness — Cornelius

    New Cornelius albums are few and far between. In fact, he has released just four albums in the past 21 years. But when one comes, it is always one of the highlights of the year. He is one of the most distinctive and innovative artists going. I have just listened to his latest album, Mellow […]

  • I used a day off work to listen to the new eight hour long Autechre album — NTS Sessions 1–4

    Autechre’s latest album is so long I had to take a day off work to listen to it. Autechre have ploughed the same sonic furrow in recent years. So was the new album worth the time off?

    Modified NTS Sessions artwork
  • Autechre on their epic NTS Sessions, David Lynch, and where code meets music

    Autechre on their epic NTS Sessions, David Lynch, and where code meets music A good interview with Autechre in which they reveal a little more about their techniques. It explains a fair bit about why their sound is so unique, and why other people can’t (or shouldn’t) emulate it. It gets a bit hazy in […]

  • Phylactery — John Callaghan

    This wonderful reinterpretation of Tilapia by Autechre appeared on Warp20, a box set celebrating the 20th anniversary of Warp Records. (Rather scarily, that occasion was itself almost 10 years ago.) There were two CDs of Warp artists covering classic Warp tracks, and a lot of them are really good. But John Callaghan’s effort towers above […]

  • The gardens where ideas grow

    The gardens where ideas grow We tend to think of musicians as architects, who fully control the sound they compose. But here, Austin Kleon outlines how it is in fact more like gardening. Top musicians like Prince, Ralf Hütter and Brian Eno appear to subscribe to this approach. Brian Eno says: One is carefully constructing […]

  • The guide to getting into Autechre

    The guide to getting into Autechre That question when someone is trying to get into a band — “Where should I start?” — is perhaps especially difficult to answer in the case of Autechre. Their music is unique and uncompromising. You almost need to learn to read Autechre, because it is sonic world lives by […]

  • NTS Residency — Autechre

    This appears to be two hours of new Autechre, streaming for free on a loop on the NTS website. Autechre’s residency continues on Thursdays 12, 19 and 26 April. Which presumably means there are six more hours to come. æ

  • OK — Micachu and the Shapes

    I have been shamefully late to discover Mica Levi, and Micachu and the Shapes. This is a track from the band’s 2012 album Never. It contains a lyric that made me laugh out loud, which doesn’t happen very often.

  • The time Aphex Twin opened for Björk

    Shuffle mode has just reminded me of the time Richard D James (best known as Aphex Twin), using the pseudonym DJ Smojphace, opened for Björk at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2003. From the YouTube video description: For almost 2 hours Richard played nothing but “noise and feedback” from the backstage, only appearing in stage to […]

  • Passionate late night radio for the freaks

    Excellent radio with a passion for the unusual: Steve Davis and Stewart Lee discussing their love of experimental music on the BBC, and the triumphant return of Iain Lee to late nights.

  • Ten good albums from 2013

    A look back at some albums from 2013 that I quite liked.

    Tomorrow's Harvest cover
  • Review: Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

    A long gestation period between albums can go either way. After the disappointiment of 2005’s The Campfire Headphase, Tomorrow’s Harvest surpasses expectations.

  • Music 2012: My top five albums

    A run-down of my favourite five albums of the year.

  • Music 2012: #10–#6

    The first part of my top ten albums of 2012.

  • Music 2012: Some of my highlights

    Some musical highlights of 2012 that I did not include in my top ten.