Tag Archive: John Foxx and The Maths


March was a slightly disappointing month overall. For a start I’ve been unable to even hear more than a minute of the tracks on John Foxx and The Maths – ‘Interplay’, which I was looking forward to hearing and has received many good reviews. If I’m able to check this out later this year I will feature it in a future “2011: Through my biased eyes”.

The biggest disappointment that I did get to hear was Micachu and The Shapes live collaboration with the London Sinfonietta “Chopped and Screwed”. I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect from this combination but despite creating a dark and heavy atmosphere on many of tracks that helped glue the album together there was almost always something missing. There were moments that rose to the occasion, “Low Dogg” was the highlight with its massive stabby string riffs that pushed this great stomper of a track along. Having the best and clearest chorus/vocal melody of the album compliments it perfectly. It’s certainly an intriguing album and it may well grow on me. I found that by the third listen I was warming more to its Peter and The Wolf meets ramshackle percussion and skewed electronica vibe. If  this sounds up your street check it out, but I feel it may be  an acquired taste.

Another album that presented a novel concept was Cornershop and Bubbley Kaur’s (a previously unknown Punjabi folk singer from London) “The Double O Groove of”. The idea was simple: use Punjabi folk’s melodic and harmonic ideas combined with lo-fi hip-hop beats with the added twist that Punjabi folk is usually written by men about women but these songs are written from the female standpoint. This translates very well on 60% of the album ‘The Biro Pen’ with  its killer piano licks and Motown guitar and the infectious ‘Topknot’ are particular highlights. However, 40% (‘Don’t Shake It’, ‘Once There Was a Wintertime’, ‘Double Decker Eyelashes’, ‘9/11 Curry’) really lets the side down, the high’s are dizzying and the lows are in the doldrums – insipid and uninspiring.

This month’s salvation comes in the form of “Toomorrow” by Wagon Christ aka Luke Vibert. It would be easy to dismiss this album as a repetition of everything (quirky vocal samples, jazzy breaks, hip-hop beats, Rhodes piano, acid squelches – all thrown in Vibert’s psychedelic blender) that Vibert has done before as Wagon Christ and there is some truth to that. However, he has produced an eclectic album full of great tracks (there’s not a duffer to be found) that will please long term fans and those new to this long term dance music fixture. For fans of the most esoteric output by Ninja Tune, Warp and Planet Mu!!

You can read my Classic’s Critiqued of Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica” here and I will cover Dadawah’s ‘Peace and Love” at some point after I’ve bought it later this month. Until then I managed find a track from the album on Spotify and add it to the March playlist below.

Spotify playlist:

March playlist

Coming up this month on Sonic Fiction:

MP3 Mix Madness: A mix of song combinations that have occurred on my MP3 player when set to Shuffle in last 18 months.

Classic’s Critiqued – “Y” by The Pop Group – critics love it, but it’s rarely mentioned outside of reviews of reissues and almost never referenced as an influence by bands. I explore why and more…

April Recommendations

Moon Duo – “Mazes” (Souterrain Transmissions) 4th April

This is one of three April releases I’ve already heard (the others are Low’s “C’mon” and TV on the Radio’s “Nine Types of Light”) and I throughly recommend them all. I first stumbled on Moon Duo (Ripley Johnson of Wooden Shijps side project with his partner, Sanae Yamada -on keyboards) late last year and liked what I heard. On this their début album proper they take things up a couple of levels.They fashion a great combination of Motown, The Velvets, Neu!, garage rock and Spacemen 3 and yet even with all those retro references the album sounds fresh and exciting. Moon Duo revitalise rock music when it seemed (for the most part) to be beyond the pale.

Low – “C’mon” (Sub Pop) 11th April

A great album that demonstrates Low experimenting with poppier sounds on the first half of the album and ‘Something Turning Over’ while the reminder of the album revisits older sounds and influences but does so while providing some great songs. Some Low fans won’t (and don’t) like the poppier material but I think it can be seen as another string to their bow and not a conscious attempt to sell out. This is not a band producing Top Ten hits, but one dripping its toe into unknown waters and successful completing an experiment. The fact this album was recorded in a Duluth (Low’s home town) church gives the slow more open tracks and fantastic atmosphere and ambience and complaints some great songs.

Ponytail – ‘Do Whatever You Want All The Time’ (We Are Free) 11th April

I don’t know a lot about Ponytail but listened to guitarist and founder Dustin Wong’s first solo album last year and was an interesting if not wholly satisfying work. However their new track “Easy Peasy” is very impressive as is the artwork by Eye from the Boredoms, so I’ll be checking this out.

TV on the Radio – ‘Nine Types of Light’ (Polydor) 11th April

Refreshed from their hiatus TV on the Radio return with what I believe is a mellow flipside to the intense but upbeat “Dear, Science”, the atmosphere is relaxed without being horizontal or turning into wallpaper music. The band hasn’t lost its personality, it’s just represent a different side of it. I was surprised that ‘Will Do’ was the first track they allowed people to listen to but now it makes a lot of sense within the albums context. Prince and “Speaking In Tongues” by Talking Heads seem good reference points, as does some modern R&B music. Highlights are the slow burning ‘Killer Crane’,‘New Cannonball Blues’ Prince style falsetto and quick, dirty funk guitar and superb opener ‘Second Song’.

tUnEyArDs – ‘w h o k i l l’ (4AD) 18th April

This is tUnEyArDs first step into the world of big studio production after her no-fi début album ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’. The single ‘Bizness’ was a first slice of upbeat ukulele driven pop. I’ve not heard anything else from the album but early reviews suggest vocals feed through modular synths and a strong World music influence across the album. An intriguing blend if even there was one.

Dennis Coffey – ‘Dennis Coffey’ (Strut) 25th April – Detroit funk legend returns with a guest filled new album that celebrates the music of the city. More info at Strut Records.

Prefuse 73 – ‘The Only She Chapters’ (Warp) 25th April

This album marks a significant development in Prefuse’s approach to music-making – this is very much a compositional, as opposed to loop-based, work. He also calls upon the vocal talents of several different female artists, most notably Broadcast’s late Trish Keenan and neo-goth torch singer Zola Jesus, but also Faidherbe, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Nico Turner and Niki Randa. As its title suggests, this is an album that foregrounds and explores the idea of the feminine, right down to the artwork, which comes courtesy of illustrator Yuko Michishita.

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February was another month divided in terms of the quality of music releases. I’ll start with the most disappointing releases and build to the best.

First is the self titled début album from Win Win, a trio comprising of XXXchange (Spank Rock), Chris Delvin (of Baltimore DJ duo Devlin and Darko) and visual artist Ghostdad. I’m afraid there’s very little to recommend about this album, outside of its excellent singles ‘RPM’ feat. Lizzi Bougatsos from Gang Gang Dance and ‘Interleave’ featuring Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and the dreamy yet creepy diversion of ‘Distorted Reality 3’. Everything else is insipid and uninspired house and electro by numbers. A real shame coming from XXXchange, a man whose productions on Spank Rock’s ‘YoYoYoYoYo’ marked him out as someone who could conjure up successful unexpected combinations. On a more positive note I stumbled across the self titled début album by Discodeine at the end of the month and wholeheartedly recommend it anyone looking a new dance music album.

Next up is Beans’ fifth album ‘End It All’ and though there is the odd track , the mournful almost foghorn-like synthetic backing laid over with more rapid fire rhythms of ‘Electric Bitch’, Tobacco delivers his usual analogue buzzsaw synths sound and electro beats on ‘Glass Coffins’ a good match for Beans & the thumping electro beats and grinding synth noises of ‘‘Blue Movie’, that is really great on this album the overall quality is quite low with Beans’ vocals feeling bolted on and often feeling a million miles away from the instrumental, which dominates  instead of complimenting them. I’ve never felt fully convinced of Beans’ ability to perform consistently over a whole album and this is evidence that this time round he can’t but can still produce moments of great chemistry.

A slight improvement again is Asian Dub Foundation’s ‘The History of Now’. This is an album pulling in two directions. On the one hand the band seems to be consolidating its established sound but other tracks promise or display alternatives to or twists on their formula. This could frustrate both newcomers and some long-term fans (I found it a bit frustrating).It is a formula the band have pursued, honed and adapted over the years and it may be starting to wear thin. The last time the band tried to step away from the formula wholesale they produced their only bad album the over-produced and lifeless ‘TANK’. Though ‘The History of Now’ doesn’t stoop to that low, it gets close on ‘Where’s All the Money Gone?’ and ‘This Land is Not For Sale’, it isn’t the band’s finest hour either. A good ADF album, but nothing to match ‘Rafi’s Revenge’, ‘Community Music’ or the underrated ‘Enemy of the Enemy’.

Now to move on the albums that did shine last month. First up: Mogwai’s ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’. This a great mixed bag from Mogwai (a band that has been criticised in the past for producing overly samey music across an album) featuring both the familiar epic post-rock tracks that made them an internationally known force and new directions for the band including using a vocoder and development of Neu! and New Order style rhythms and grooves on ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ and ‘George Square Thatcher Death Party’. I’ve read a lot of negative things about the use of the vocoder and more vocal tracks on this album and can’t say I agree with these opinions. The vocoder is employed subtly and sparingly and Stuart Braithwaite’s vocals have always been a good addition to Mogwai’s music and suit the song he sings on here. Overall I think this is Mogwai’s best album since ‘Happy Music for Happy People’ (2003) and comes highly recommended.

Half American half French quartet Paris Suit Yourself produced a stunning début album in ‘My Main Shitstain’. I honestly can’t think of anything to add to last month’s recommendation of this album, you read can that here. Its one of those that you need to buy!!

Finally there was Toro Y Moi’s new album ‘Underneath the Pine’ which from its chiming and droning intro track right through to the last rhythmic charge of ‘Elise’, it does no wrong. A fantastic concoction of ’80s style funk rhythms and grooves matched with emotive soundtrack backing and the glorious rush of good pop music, a leap forward from his impressive début ‘Causers of This’. The best album I’ve heard so far this year.

Spotify Playlist:

February 2011 playlist

Coming up on Sonic Fiction in March:

  • The third and last part of Vier’s Three Decades of Techno.

  • A new quarterly column Skipped, Flipped and Missed which will explore the career of an artist who is either underrated or overrated and the reasons why that is. This month’s discusses electronic music pioneers Cabaret Voltaire.

  • Primal Scream’s – ‘Screamadelica’ is in this month Classics Critiqued.

March Recommendations:

Cornershop – ‘and the Double O Groove of…’ (Ample Play) 14th March

Cornershop return with an album that has been six years in the making and is a collaboration with previously unknown female vocalist Bubbley Kaur and fuses Punjabi folk with lo-fi hip-hop. As well as their usual blend of traditional Indian sounds and Western styles, this album adds a further twist as Punjabi folk is usually written by men about women but these songs are written from the female standpoint.

Primal Scream – ‘Screamadelica: 20th Anniversary Edition’ (Sony) 14th March

Primal Scream re-release their Mercury Prize winning classic album to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The album comes in both Limited Collectors and Deluxe Editions.

Wagon Christ – ‘Toomorrow’ (Ninja Tune) 14th March

Luke Vibert returns to his Wagon Christ moniker for his latest album of ‘stoned exotica, ridiculous vocal samples, toothsome puns, swinging rhythm and the psychedelic groove’. There’s not a dull moment on this 15 track strong album, preview and buy it a week early here.

Dadawah – ‘Peace and Love’ (Dug Out) 21st March

This was reissued last summer but I failed to get around to mentioning this exceptional dub-reggae album. At the time I could only find tracks on Youtube to listen to it may be different for this re-pressing.

John Foxx and The Maths (Metamatic) 21st March

The return of electro legend John Foxx in collaboration with Benge (aka The Maths). I’ll be honest I’ve only heard the lead single ‘Shatterproof’ but it was an incredible impressive showcase for these two master of the analogue synth world.

Micachu & The Shapes with the London Sinfonietta – ‘Chopped & Screwed’ (Rough Trade) 21st March

This album is a recording of a one-off live performance between these two unique artists. Micachu and The Shapes début album ‘Jewellery’ impressed critics back in 2009 and their scrap heap percussion and awkward yet infectious melodies found a perfect home on last year Congotronics compilation. This record could be a very different kettle of fish, recorded live last year with an orchestra most famous for reinterpretations of classic Aphex Twin and Squarepusher tracks.

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