The Future Sound of London – Cascade

In March 1992, something very important happened to the UK charts. After a couple of years of pricey American imports appearing in the shops, with their astonishing playing times and immense numbers of remixes, it was decided that similar releases should be allowed in the UK as well. A rule was devised stating that a single could last up to 40 minutes if it only contained versions of a single track. It only lasted for six years before new regressive chart rules killed the CD single for good, but for a short time, the remix was king.

But not just that – innovative and inventive artists such as The Future Sound of London were able to use this new rule to release what were, in effect, mini-albums – and so it was that twenty years ago this week the brilliant Cascade was unleashed.

After their 1991 debut Accelerator, containing the seminal Papua New Guinea, they seemed to have settled on the pseudonym Amorphous Androgynous for the more ambient exploratory sounds they were creating, and what resulted was their second full album Tales of Ephidrina in mid 1993. A matter of months later, they were back in the charts with Cascade, the first single since Papua New Guinea, and a single which was quite unlike anything else on the charts at that time.

The single contains six tracks, opening with Cascade (Part 1), seven and a half minutes of pure, laid back, electronic heaven. Part 1 is the long version of what would become the album version the following year, and it is no overstatement to describe it as truly beautiful.

Part 1 segues perfectly into Part 2, as it should – these are, after all, parts of the same piece of music. This part is longer and deeper, with a bit of a tribal beat, a bit more electronic chirruping and some extra synth washes.

Part 3 is rather different, but will be very familiar if you have listened to the subsequent double album Lifeforms or the From the Archives series which documents this period. An occasional pounding bass and tremulous drums build a vivid soundscape, which is built on further by the more rhythmic Part 4.

The contrast really comes with Part 5, which begins with the sounds of what appears to be a very urban environment, before returning very much to the jungle soundscape of before, but with a much denser, more beat-driven, rhythmic sound. Punctuated by synth bubbles and sweeps, it’s completely different again to any of the parts which came before it. As an extended piece of music exploring the themes of Cascade, the whole piece is really incredibly beautiful.

By the end of the single, it would be easy to have forgotten what Cascade, the track you heard on the radio, might have sounded like, so it’s with some relief that the radio version, Cascade (ShortForm) turns up right at the end. It’s also hard to imagine it getting radio play, and yet this single reached the top 30, so Bruno Brookes would have spun it on the official UK top 40 show in its day. The short version only begins to hint of what you might hear on the full single, but it’s a great little track too.

This template, of the just-under-40-minute exploratory single, was one to which The Future Sound of London would return several times, with LifeformsMy Kingdom, and We Have Explosive. It’s an unusual format, but makes for a very special single, which can truly be enjoyed in the way that an album might.

You can find the entire Cascade single on Amazon at a bargain price.

Q Awards 2013

Hopefully you enjoyed our countdown to this year’s Q Awards, and perhaps also the ceremony itself, with its nods to… well, let’s not reveal that quite yet. The ceremony took place last night, and as always held a few surprises.

Al Murray was on hand to present this year’s winners at Grosvenor House:

Q Best New Act presented by Mahiki

Nominees:

  • Jake Bugg
  • Disclosure
  • Valerie June
  • Jaguar Ma
  • Laura Mvula
  • Tom Odell
  • TOY
  • Palma Violets

Winner: Jake Bugg

Q Best Track

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
  • David Bowie – Where Are We Now?
  • Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky
  • Ellie Goulding – Burn
  • Robin Thicke feat. TI and Pharrell – Blurred Lines

Winner: Arctic Monkeys

Q Poet Laureate

Winner: John Cooper Clarke

Q Spirit of Independence

Winner: Belle and Sebastian

Q Best Event

Nominees:

  • David Bowie (V&A)
  • The Killers (Wembley Stadium / The Garage)
  • Kraftwerk (Tate Modern)
  • The Rolling Stones (Hyde Park)
  • Glastonbury Festival
  • Latitude Festival

Winner: Glastonbury Festival

Q Best Video powered by Alcatel

  • Beady Eye – Shine a Light
  • David Bowie – The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
  • Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky
  • Manic Street Preachers – Show Me the Wonder
  • Vampire Weekend – Diane Young

Winner: Manic Street Preachers

Q Classic Album

Winner: Happy Mondays – Bummed

Q Idol

Winner: Robbie Williams

Q Best Live Act

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Foals
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Muse
  • The Stone Roses

Winner: Foals

Q Best Album presented by Bose

Nominees:

  • David Bowie – The Next Day
  • Biffy Clyro – Opposites
  • Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  • Foals – Holy Fire
  • Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Winner: Biffy Clyro

Q Icon

Winner: Suede

Q Best Solo presented by Citroen

Presented by Tinie Tempah. Nominees:

  • David Bowie
  • Jake Bugg
  • Ellie Goulding
  • John Grant
  • Laura Marling

Winner: Ellie Goulding

Q Best Act in the World Today presented by Planet Rock

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • David Bowie
  • Biffy Clyro
  • Foals
  • Vampire Weekend

Winner: Vampire Weekend

Q Classic Songwriter

Winner: Chrissie Hynde

Outstanding Contribution to Music

Winner: Pet Shop Boys

Vevo’s coverage has lots of bad jokes about “queuing.”

That’s right! Another enormous win for PSB at the Q Awards, just ten years after winning the Q Inspiration award. David Bowie made the headlines for apparently being “snubbed,” (BBC News and some rather obsessed coverage from Buzzfeed) just because everyone else thinks he should win stuff this year (he won Q Inspiration in 1995).

Q’s own coverage, with audio snippets, is here.

Chart for stowaways – 21 September 2013

The singles and albums are both fun this week, so let’s do both. Here are the singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Love is a Bourgeois Construct
  2. Röyksopp – Ice Machine
  3. Goldfrapp – Drew
  4. Annie – A&R EP
  5. Depeche Mode – Should Be Higher

And the albums:

  1. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us
  2. Various Artists – Late Night Tales: Röyksopp
  3. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – English Electric
  4. Bent – From the Vaults: 1998-2006
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Electric

That’s a new entry at number 1 for Goldfrapp, who have also invaded the lower reaches of the singles chart this week.

Mercury Music Prize 2004-2006

By 2006, speculation seemed to be mounting that somehow winning the prize was a curse, meaning you would never do anything meaningful again. Which, if you look back through the list of winners, may not be a million miles away from the truth. But then, how many artists release more than one exceptional album?

Nationwide Mercury Prize 2004

The 2004 ceremony took place on 7th September.

Nominees:

  • Basement Jaxx – Kish Kash
  • Belle and Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress
  • Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
  • Jamelia – Thank You
  • Keane – Hopes and Fears
  • Snow Patrol – Final Straw
  • Joss Stone – The Soul Sessions
  • The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come for Free
  • Ty – Upwards
  • Amy Winehouse – Frank
  • Robert Wyatt – Cuckooland
  • The Zutons – Who Killed… The Zutons?

Winner: Franz Ferdinand

Nationwide Mercury Prize 2005

The first week in September always saw the Mercury Prize ceremony during this period, and this year’s was on 6th September 2005

Nominees:

  • Antony and the Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now
  • Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
  • Coldplay – X&Y
  • Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV
  • Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
  • KT Tunstall – Eye to the Telescope
  • M.I.A. – Arular
  • Maxïmo Park – A Certain Trigger
  • Polar Bear – Held on the Tips of Fingers
  • Seth Lakeman – Kitty Jay
  • The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike
  • The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers

Winner: Antony and the Johnsons

Nationwide Mercury Prize 2006

The award ceremony took place on 5th September 2006

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
  • Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Ballad of the Broken Seas
  • Editors – The Back Room
  • Guillemots – Through the Windowpane
  • Richard Hawley – Coles Corner
  • Hot Chip – The Warning
  • Muse – Black Holes and Revelations
  • Zoë Rahman – Melting Pot
  • Lou Rhodes – Beloved One
  • Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Beer
  • Sway – This is My Demo
  • Thom Yorke – Eraser

Winner: Arctic Monkeys

Further information