Chart for stowaways – 3 February 2018

These are the week’s top albums:

  1. Sparks – Hippopotamus
  2. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  3. Above & Beyond – Common Ground
  4. Calexico – The Thread That Keeps Us
  5. David Bowie – Legacy
  6. Liza Minnelli – Results
  7. Nightmares On Wax – Shape The Future
  8. Fever Ray – Plunge
  9. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
  10. Propaganda – A Secret Wish

Gotan Project – Lunático

Having already revived tango music with La Revancha del Tango five years earlier, Gotan Project returned with their difficult second album Lunático in 2006, first appearing exactly ten years ago this week.

It opens with a collaboration with Calexico, Amor Porteño, which is entirely nice, but it’s hard to get too excited about it, as it plods along in its curious dub-latin jazz style. Where the first album immediately appeared in your face with Queremos Paz, this one is much more subdued.

Over the first few songs, you feel as though you’re sitting in a bar in Buenos Aires – it’s all nice, but it’s background music, and there’s probably something much more interesting going on at the next table. Notas, a collaboration with Juan Carlos Cáceres, starts very promisingly but ultimately doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. Diferente, too, is entirely worthy, but just not too noteworthy.

If you hadn’t heard Gotan Project before, there’s plenty to enjoy here, but alongside La Revancha del Tango – and later Tango 3.0 as well – it really pales into insignificance. With Celos and title track Lunático we’re definitely firmly back in that bar. An old couple are performing a very slow tango in the middle of the room, as the younger people drink at tables around the edges. Or something.

So what comes next is, undeniably, a bit of a surprise. Right from the opening notes of Mi Confesión you can hear that something’s different. After a minute or so, someone called Koxmoz turns up to deliver a rap over the rhythmic tango backing track, and it’s really rather magical. All those young people who were lounging around the edges of the bar must have jumped out of their skins so they could dance, tangoing with whoever their nearest neighbour might be and simultaneously waving one arm in the air as though they’re listening to the latest hip hop hit.

You can blame the music for whatever happened there, but after that, there definitely seems to be a lot more energy in the air. Tango Canción and La Vigüela are both far above the standard of the earlier pieces – the former is slower again, but the melody and dub rhythm are much closer to the first album, and the latter is a charming, largely instrumental piece.

Other moments see the bar standing around looking a little confused – Criminal is less exciting, although lively enough that some of the more drunk patrons still find something to do. Arrabal sees them regroup again, and the last two tracks Domingo and Paris, Texas see most of the bar slowly disappearing into the night, probably finding moonlit fountains to chat under. Or something. As you can probably tell, I’ve never actually been lucky enough to travel to Argentina.

So Lunático is a bit of a mixed bag – a worthy second album, but probably not as good as the debut. But if you’re looking for something a little different and a fusion between tango, dance, and dub influences sounds interesting, this is probably worth checking out. Just be aware that you might find yourself imagining you’re in an Argentinian bar.

You can find Lunático at all major retailers, such as here.

Live – Best of the Festivals 2013

This month, with summer coming in the northern hemisphere, we take a look at the best of the summer festivals in 2013, with a focus on the sort of music that we like to listen to on this blog. Here are five choices, in chronological order:

Electric Daisy, Las Vegas, 21-23 June

If you can bear a week in the desert at 40°C and near enough 0% humidity, here are some of the artists performing this week in Las Vegas:

  • Booka Shade
  • Empire of the Sun
  • Eric Prydz
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Ferry Corsten
  • Jacques Lu Cont
  • La Roux
  • Sasha
  • Tiësto
  • Tiga

More here.

Latitude, Suffolk, 18-21 July

Highlights in Southwold this year include:

  • Calexico
  • Chvrches
  • Hot Chip
  • Junip
  • Kraftwerk
  • Beth Orton

More here.

Lovebox, London, 19-21 July

A bit of crossover with the one above, but you might be able to sneak into both and see:

  • AlunaGeorge
  • Andrew Weatherall
  • Frankie Knuckles
  • Goldfrapp
  • Hurts
  • Jon Hopkins

More here.

Rewind, Perth, 26-28 July and Henley, 16-18 August

The 80s festival, about thirty years late, includes the likes of:

  • ABC
  • The B-52s
  • Go West
  • Chesney Hawkes
  • Heaven 17
  • Nik Kershaw
  • Sonia

More info on the Scottish event here, and the London one here.

Berlin Festival, 6-7 September

At the brilliant former Tempelhof Airport:

  • Björk
  • Blur
  • Boys Noize
  • Delphic
  • DJ Shadow
  • Miss Kittin
  • Pet Shop Boys

Plus DJ sets from Justice and Röyksopp.

More here.

Record Store Day 2013

There’s something rather exciting about Record Store Day – loads of your favourite bands start throwing out obscure releases on bizarre formats. Not downloads, but real, tangible formats.

There’s also something rather disappointing about the whole thing. Of all of the releases I’ve heard about and wanted on Record Store Day, I’ve never actually seen a single one of them. Partly because I’ve always been out of the country every year so far, but partly also because I have a sneaking suspicion that what happens is that it’s actually a day for private dealers and too-keen collectors to swamp record shops and buy all the good stuff out. Anything worth having will be up on eBay within the day. Which seems to slightly defeat the object to me.

In fact, the only release from previous years that I remember having seen is the cassette version of Goldfrapp‘s last album Head First – which is a brilliant idea, but the knowledge that I’d never actually listen to it was what stopped me from buying it at that point.

Anyway, this year’s Record Store Day is this Saturday, and I’m actually going to be in the UK this time, so we’ll see if I can keep hold of my wallet while it happens. Here are some of the highlights of the releases that I spotted:

  • Bent – From the Vaults 1998-2007 (unknown format, 500 copies)
  • Booka Shade – Black Out: White Noise EP (12″)
  • David Bowie – Drive-In Saturday Night (7″ picture disc, 3000 copies), The Stars Are Out Tonight (7″ white vinyl, 5000 copies) and 1965 (7″)
  • Calexico – Spiritoso (LP, 2200 copies)
  • CaribouStart Breaking My Heart (LP), Up in Flames (LP) and The Milk of Human Kindness (LP)
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Animal X (7″ picture disc, 2500 copies)
  • Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love (12″, 4000 copies)
  • Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know? (7″)
  • Brian EnoNicholas Jaar x Grizzly Bear (10″, 2000 copies)
  • Frankie Goes to HollywoodThe Eye Has It (7″ shaped picture disc)
  • Garbage – Because the Night (10″, 5000 copies)
  • The Human League – Don’t You Want Me (12″)
  • Inspiral Carpets – Fix Your Smile (7″)
  • Junior Boys – Even Truer Remix EP (12″, 400 copies, “regional”)
  • MGMT – Alien Days (cassette single, 2000 copies)
  • Moby feat. Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night (7″)
  • Mike Oldfield – Theme from Tubular Bells (7″)
  • Pink Floyd – See Emily Play (7″, 5000 copies)
  • Röyksopp – Ice Machine (10″)
  • Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (12″, 982 copies, “regional”) and Hvarf / Heim (double LP)
  • The XX – Jamie XX Edits (12″, 1600 copies)
  • Various Artists – Astralwerks 20/20 (seven 7″ box set, including rare and unreleased tracks by KraftwerkAirThe Chemical Brothers and others, 100 copies, “regional”)
  • Various Artists – Factory Records – Communications 1978-1992 (10″ or 12″ including tracks by Joy DivisionNew OrderDurutti Column and Happy Mondays, 1000 copies)
  • Various Artists – Music from the Motion Picture Drive (LP picture disc of the excellent album with tracks by Kavinsky and Cliff Martinez, 1000 copies, US only)

Which should be more than enough to keep you busy. I’ve no idea what “regional” means. Thanks to the New Vinyl blog for helping with information about the releases. The full list is here for the USA and here for the UK.

John Peel’s Record Collection

Browsing through someone else’s record collection is always very rewarding. You learn so much about the owner!

Although I’m sure none of us really needed to learn much about John Peel‘s beautifully eclectic tastes. If there’s anyone who didn’t worship him as a living God when he was around, then I’d be fascinated to know why. And if there’s a music fan out there who doesn’t know where they were then they found out he’d sadly died, then I’d be very surprised.

If you are the one person on the planet who wasn’t aware, then he was probably the finest DJ in British radio history. After some time in the world of piracy in the mid 1960s, he joined fledgeling BBC pop station Radio 1 when it started in 1967 and stayed there right up until his death in 2004. He was responsible for starting the careers of so many big name bands that it’s not even worth considering listing them, and his Peel Sessions remain a household name worldwide.

And this year, 45 years after he joined Radio 1, his estate have been working on a wonderful project to digitise his record collection, and they finally reach the end of the alphabet this week. Starting initially with the first hundred records from each letter, the archive of a few thousand records is quite compelling. Check it out here.

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty, but here are a few of the things which have caught my eye in his collection on my quick browse. Obviously I’m a lot less open minded than he is, but then neither was I going to list all 2,600 entries here! I’ve copied their links where appropriate, but I’d strongly recommend that you go and browse them for yourself!

In particular, the brilliantly bizarre industrial Slovenes Laibach get a full interview in the L is for Laibach feature here, which is well worth watching.