Retro chart for stowaways – 31 March 2007

Due to a whole bundle of personal things coming up, I need a bit more space to get the charts posted, so here’s a retro chart from 12 years ago this week:

  1. Air – Once Upon a Time
  2. Onetwo – Cloud Nine
  3. Tracey Thorn – It’s All True
  4. Client – Drive
  5. Client – Zerox Machine
  6. LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum
  7. Faithless – Bombs
  8. Client – Lights Go Out
  9. Eric Prydz Vs. Floyd – Proper Education
  10. CSS – Off the Hook

Retro chart for stowaways – 3 February 2007

The top ten singles from nine years ago:

  1. Client – Lights Go Out
  2. Eric Prydz vs. Floyd – Proper Education
  3. Depeche Mode – Martyr
  4. Sohodolls – No Regrets
  5. Girls Aloud – I Think We’re Alone Now
  6. Schmoof – Chocolate Boyfriend
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Numb
  8. Bent – To Be Loved
  9. Tiga – (Far from) Home
  10. Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Oooh

Preview – Faithless

If you had failed to notice the appearance of Faithless‘s’s new remix compilation Faithless 2.0, then your cave-hiding skills are clearly to be applauded. Celebrating their twentieth year of making music, it features classics revisited by an odd assortment of names, including Armin van BuurenTiëstoAbove & BeyondEric Prydz, and loads of others, followed by a disc of originals which looks rather better than their previous compilation Forever Faithless.

This is Bombs 2.0, remixed by Claptone:

The Best Singles of 2003

I recently found this document in my archives, dated November 2003…

Conjure One “Sleep / Tears from the Moon” (Nettwerk; January; #41)

An amazing debut for Rhys Fulber’s solo project (he’s more commonly known as half of Delerium), which is taken to new heights by remixes from Tiësto and Ian van Dahl. This is how dance should sound in the twenty-first century.

Conjure One “Centre of the Sun” (Nettwerk; August; #83)

Although not quite as instantly catchy as its predecessor, this single boasts some fantastic electroclash and retro remixes from the likes of JXL and Pete Lorimer.

Dirty Vegas “Simple Things” (Parlophone; March; NCQ)

Another great track from the fantastic eponymous debut album, including live acoustic tracks and deep and dark remixes, showcasing all the different sides of the band.

Front Line Assembly “Maniacal” (SPV; October; no UK release)

I bought this because I’d heard a few tracks by the band (who are, rather confusingly, the same people behind Delerium) and knew their reputation, and was totally blown away by this release. Dark and powerful industrial electronica.

Dave Gahan “I Need You” (Mute; August; #27)

One of the best tracks from the Depeche Mode frontman’s debut solo album, including remixes from Ladytron and Gabriel & Dresden and exclusive tracks across the different formats.

Alex Gold feat. Phil Oakey “LA Today” (Xtravaganza; April; #68)

A slightly odd track that sounds something like a cross between the Human League and Dirty Vegas, but essential nonetheless.

Goldfrapp “Train” (Mute; April; #23)

Fantastic comeback from Goldfrapp including an exclusive track and remixes, and welcoming them into the electroclash arena.

Lemon Jelly “Nice Weather for Ducks” (XL; February; #16)

Huge airplay propelled this querky but endearing track towards the right end of the charts. Unfortunately the single is fairly sparse, but it’s worth getting for the main track if nothing else. And of course it’s got beautiful packaging.

Yoko Ono “Walking on Thin Ice” (Parlophone; April; #35)

Worth buying not for the track itself but for the fantastic Pet Shop Boys remixes on the second CD, which introduce beautiful rippling retro analogue synths and prove that the lads have still got it.

Erlend Øye “Sheltered Life” (Source; July; #93)

Fantastic remix for the second single from the debut solo album from half of Kings of Convenience that frankly ought to have been a huge hit.

Pet Shop Boys “Miracles” (Parlophone; November; #10)

A new Pet Shop Boys release is always a treat — this one is no exception, backed with new b-sides and remixes from the bonkers Lemon Jelly and someone called Eric Prydz.

Röyksopp “Sparks” (Wall of Sound; June; #41)

Another single from the essential album Melody A.M, this time with a daft remix by Roni Size but also an excellent new track and, on the second CD, the video to their best track yet, Remind Me.

Saint Etienne “Soft Like Me” (Mantra; January; #40)

A slight departure from their normal sound, but nonetheless one of the best tracks from their 2002 album Finisterre backed with remixes and dozens of exclusive b-sides.

Yello “Planet Dada / The Race 2003” (Motor; October; no UK release)

Sometimes bands slip in and out of fashion by moving ahead of the times. Yello, on the whole, have slipped out of the public eye by doing much the same thing (on the whole) for the last decade. Finally, the rest of the world has caught up with them, so their fantastic brand of electro is finally contemporary once again. There are even Tomcraft mixes of their biggest hit to boot.

Retro chart for stowaways – 3 March 2007

Early March 2007 saw us in the middle of a Client invasion, while they were still just about good. The top five singles:

  1. Client – Zerox Machine
  2. Client – Drive
  3. Faithless – Bombs
  4. Eric Prydz – Proper Education
  5. Client – Lights Go Out

… and the albums:

  1. Sarah Nixey – Sing, Memory
  2. Marsheaux – Peeka Boo
  3. Darkel – Darkel
  4. Faithless – To All New Arrivals
  5. Moby – Go: The Very Best of Moby

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.

Depeche Mode – Remixes 2: 81-11

However I tackle it, this review is going to be pretty epic. I’ve got three discs to plough through. But that makes it sound like a chore, which this definitely is not, and since Depeche Mode have a new album coming out next week, it makes sense to go back and look at their last release, their second album Remixes 2: 81-11. So strap yourself in, and let’s take a journey through another thirty years of remixes.

The formula is much the same as their first remix album, 2004’s The Remixes 81-04. You get two discs or so of goodies from the past, followed by a disc of new mixes. This time around, the title is a little deceptive, as the earliest track is actually from 1985, but we’ll forgive them that small oversight.

The first track is Bushwacka‘s brilliant take on 2001’s Dream On, turning it into a strangely chilled out house track which bobs along wonderfully for six minutes or so. M83‘s French electro version of Suffer Well (2006) follows, making for an excellent pair of opening tracks. There are also standout versions of In Chains by Tigerskin and Corrupt by Efdemin, but on balance I think the rest of the first disc is less exciting, and it probably is my least favourite of the three.

Until the final trio of tracks. Nestling seductively in between Spirit Feel‘s Anandamidic mix of Walking in My Shoes (2009) and Darren Price‘s brilliant version of 1997 b-side Slowblow is something rather extraordinary. A new version of one of their finest moments Personal Jesus, remixed by the incredible Stargate.

This was the lead single for the collection, and although not a massive hit, it really was rather special. Transforming the electro-blues-rock stylings of the original into a massive bouncy dance-pop radio-friendly track is nothing short of genius. And it’s every bit as exceptional as that sounds.

Disc 2 kicks off with more bounce in the shape of Trentemøller‘s excellent 2009 version of Wrong, which takes the dark power of the original and channels into something more club-friendly. Great moments follow from François Kevorkian (twice) among others, building up to Jacques Lu Cont‘s remix of A Pain That I’m Used to (2005). This and the moody Monolake mix of The Darkest Star (2006) which follows are the definite highlights of this CD for me. The latter throbs along gently for about six minutes, with the accompaniment of the “whisper” voice from Mac OS X, which always makes for a welcome addition.

The rest of the second disc is consistently strong, with great remixes from United (Barrel of a Gun), Dan the Automator (Only When I Lose Myself) and Ernest Saint Laurent with Sie Medway-Smith (Ghost). And then it’s onto the new stuff in earnest.

Disc three opens with and closes with another two great new mixes of Personal Jesus, the first of which is by Alex Metric, and Eric Prydz follows with his take on Never Let Me Down Again. It’s then time for the first of two spectacularly special moments, as Vince Clarke turns up for his quite excellent version of Behind the Wheel. As with much of his recent work, it’s a lot darker and more electro than you might expect, but it’s still rather brilliant.

The next moment of real fan excitement comes a couple of tracks later when Alan Wilder turns up to take on In Chains. Sounding not unlike Recoil‘s recent work, it does make you wonder slightly what might happen if they were to work together again in earnest.

Röyksopp‘s version of Puppets is every bit as excellent as you would expect, and in fact the vast majority of this final disc is extremely strong. Karlsson and Winnberg (from Miike Snow) are worthy of special mention for the breakdown in the last verse of Tora! Tora! Tora! which serves to underline Dave Gahan‘s wonderful pronunciation of “skellington”.

Joebot‘s version of A Question of Time is a fantastic surprise near the end, and Sie Medway-Smith‘s version of Personal Jesus which closes the collection is very good too. All in all, a great final disc to close an extremely strong remix collection – and I’m not even a huge fan of remixes on the whole.

There are bonus mixes available from various online retailers, although none of the ones I heard was anything particularly special. Stick to the main collection, and you’ve got another quite brilliant album from The Mode. And what more could you ask for?

You can enjoy the triple disc version of the album for a ridiculously bargain price from Amazon UK now.

Various Artists – Electrospective

The basic way this blog works is that when I’m reviewing an album, I listen to it in full, and while doing so write what I feel about what I’m hearing. How, then, do I tackle a two-and-a-half hour long compilation? I feel the skip button may be seeing some usage on this occasion.

Electrospective is the centrepiece of a recent record company campaign to get us buying mid-price synth-based albums of which I heartily approve. The compilation is a fascinating and wonderful journey, encompassing maybe ten tracks from each of the primary decades of electronic music. But its omissions are also fascinating. Perversely, almost, it contains none of the pioneering sound of Jean Michel Jarre or Kraftwerk. The early 1980s focus rightly on OMD and The Human League, but there’s no sign of Soft Cell or Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The late 1980s largely forego the “indie dance” and trip hop movements in favour of pop and soul. But then, if you were faced with the task of compiling a forty-track journey through the history of electronic music, how would you tackle it?

Electrospective opens, as all definitive electronic compilations should, with Delia Derbyshire‘s 1963 version of Ron Grainer‘s essential Doctor Who theme. Fifty years on, in an age where literally anybody can make music with their portable telecommunications devices, it’s difficult to picture the boffins of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop slaving away generating tape samples and cutting them into exactly the right length to sync and make quite astonishing music. In a sense it’s unsurprising that they didn’t really succeed with the syncing (Derbyshire also revisited the theme in 1967 to create a rather more orderly but definitely less charming version).

Some of the other early tracks are a little odder. Roxy Music‘s Virginia Plain is, I can only assume, here to show some of the early electronic experimentation in which popular acts of the early 1970s were indulging, and it has a few nice Moog sounds in it, but frankly it’s largely tolerable at best. Even Brian Eno, introducing this album to its first taste of ambience, fails to impress particularly with Here Come the Warm Jets (1974).

The 1970s start to look a lot stronger after this, with Tangerine Dream‘s Rubycon and Can‘s brilliant I Want More before launching into another unmissable moment with The Normal‘s Warm Leatherette. The final trio of Cabaret VoltaireTelex and Simple Minds round of 1979 in less compelling fashion, and you should be clear by now that electronics is firmly planted in the world of music.

We then enter the 1980s in typically variable fashion. OMD‘s excellent Messages carries into Ultravox‘s more questionable SleepwalkThe Human League‘s astonishing The Things That Dreams are Made Of is followed by rather more questionable choices from Duran Duran and Heaven 17, and then a distinctly dodgy choice of remix for Yazoo‘s Don’t Go.

The mid-1980s are, as you might expect, rather stronger. Together in Electric Dreams is perhaps a little unnecessary, coming as it does only five tracks after the previous Human League moment, but then West End Girls mixes into Who Needs Live (Like That), and you’re definitely reminded that the eighties weren’t nearly as bad as everyone seems to suggest.

All this is not to say that this album is without its surprises. Nitzer Ebb‘s Control I’m Here is an unexpected pleasure, as is Soul II Soul‘s Back to Life (However Do You Want Me), which ends the 1980s a couple of tracks into the second disc.

The 1990s are, of course, where electronic music comes of age. A whole slew of enormous, exceptional, and very well chosen hits follow from Depeche ModeMobyThe Future Sound of LondonDaft Punk and Adam FMassive Attack turn up, as indeed they should, but here they are represented by the slightly disappointing choice of Inertia Creeps, by no means bad, but a track which surely belongs in the middle of Mezzanine rather than here?

Air‘s wonderful Kelly Watch the Stars and St. Germain‘s Rose Rouge are here to represent the rest of the late 90s French invasion, which is inevitably followed by the experimental indie of Radiohead and The Chemical Brothers.

Finally, our potted history of electronic music has brought us into the 2000s, by which time “electronic” had definitely ceased to be a label for weird experimental noises or extravagant expressionism. It had, in every imaginable way, gone mainstream. In a good way.

Goldfrapp hammer this home beautifully with the essential Strict Machine, and then Dare by Gorillaz leads us through to a string of 21st century floor fillers. Eric Prydz‘s probably Bo Selecta-inspired Proper Education with its Pink Floyd elements leads us into some less interesting tracks from David GuettaDeadmau5, and finally a total abomination by Swedish House Mafia. Not a great ending, admittedly, but a fair assessment of the journey of electronic music over the past half century.

Make no mistake – in terms of meeting its remit of compiling a handful of tracks from every decade of electronic music, this is a great release. But it’s difficult to ignore the many omissions – you can’t help but feel that perhaps a themed or era-specific compilation might tick the boxes a lot more convincingly. In the end, all you get is fleeting glimpses of particular acts and eras. All told though, for all its failings it’s a great listen, and I can’t help but recommend it.

There’s also a companion remix album, which we’ll touch on in a future week. If you’re in the US you can find Electrospective here; if you’re in the UK try here; and if you’re anywhere else then you’ll have to fend for yourself.