Greatest Hits – Covid Edition

I’m all too aware that there haven’t been a lot of new reviews around here lately – sorry for that. For now, with the lockdown firmly in place, let’s roll back to some of the reviews from the last couple of years that you might have missed!

Greatest Hits – Vol. 9

Every so often when things are quiet, I like to take a bit of a breather and highlight some of the reviews you might have missed in recent times. Here’s another selection:

  • The Avalanches – Since I Left You
  • Camouflage – Spice Crackers
  • Enigma – MCMXC a.D.
  • Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain
  • Gotan Project – Lunático
  • Kraftwerk – Autobahn
  • Pet Shop Boys – Please
  • Sparks – Hello Young Lovers
  • Yello – Baby
  • Various Artists – Metropolis

Read and enjoy!

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.

Music for the Masses 34 – 2 March 2005

For the second week running, the webcam was refusing to take pictures during this show. It did see a brief return of the Unsigned Act slot, with an entry from Subculture, and the many-talented William Orbit was the Artist of the Week.

Show 34: Wed 2 Mar 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: William Orbit.

  • Gotan Project – Época
  • Rob Dougan – Furious Angels
  • Depeche Mode – I Feel Loved
  • The Space Brothers – Forgiven
  • Energy 52 – Café del Mar
  • Apollo 440 – Astral America
  • William Orbit – Via Caliente
  • Peach – From This Moment On
  • Jean Michel Jarre – Je Me Souviens
  • Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls (DJ Hell Remix)
  • Subculture – Dead in the Day (Demo) [Unsigned Act]
  • Erlend Øye – Every Party Has a Winner and a Loser
  • William Orbit – Million Town
  • Kraftwerk – Expo 2000 (Kling Klang 2002 Mix)
  • Manu Chao – Bongo Bong
  • Erasure – Don’t Say You Love Me
  • LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk is Playing at My House
  • Wolfsheim – Wunderbar
  • Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme
  • William Orbit – Satie’s Ogive #1
  • Bent – The Waters Deep

Music for the Masses 28 – 29 November 2004

By late November 2004, Music for the Masses had settled into a comfortable rhythm – so much so, in fact, that I was largely forgetting to do silly things every time the webcam went off – the only highlight this week involved me waving my arms around a bit.

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Show 28: Mon 29 Nov 2004, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: The Future Sound of London.

  • Bent – An Ordinary Day
  • Dusted – Always Remember to Respect & Honour Your Mother (Part 1)
  • White Town – Panoptican
  • Massive Attack – Teardrop
  • Voodoo Child – Light is in Your Eyes
  • Gotan Project – Queremos Paz
  • The Future Sound of London – Papua New Guinea
  • Orbital – The Box
  • Asana – Signals
  • Grace – If I Could Fly
  • Lemon Jelly – Stay with You
  • The Future Sound of London – Cascade
  • Death in Vegas – Dirge
  • Client feat. Carl Barât – Pornography
  • Dario G – Sunchyme
  • Jam & Spoon feat. Rea – Be Angeled
  • Erasure – Breathe
  • Electronic – Freefall
  • Goldbug – Whole Lotta Love
  • Leftfield – Dusted
  • The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom

Archive Review – Gotan Project – La Revancha del Tango

At some point in late 2001, I happened to be sitting in the offices of the Aberystwyth student newspaper The Courier, and was asked to write a music review. The act whose album I heard was Gotan Project, and this was the first time I’d come across them.

I have no idea what a Gotan is. I have absolutely no idea what they are singing about (it’s in Spanish), and I have absolutely no idea why tango is taking revenge, let alone against whom. Whatever their reasoning, this is still completely different to anything you’ll hear on the radio in the UK. To generalise, this is a mixture of South American music and modern European dance. Think atmospheric chilled hip hop, think Argentian [sic] tango musicians exiled in France and think scary bandonion (it’s an accordian [sic], folks) and violin playing. Add these together, and you’ll have a rough idea what this is like. Listening to this is like listening to the soundtrack of a James Bond film with a room full of dub enthusiasts. It’s innovative, it’s beautiful, and if anyone knew who they were, it would be cool. 4/5

Reproduced from The Courier #53.1, October 2001.

Music for the Masses 22 – 17 October 2004

LSR FM, Leeds University’s student radio station, used to apply for an FM licence for a month once or twice a year, and this used to be extremely popular, as large numbers of wannabe DJs would apply to do shows. So it was that the returning Music for the Masses ended up in a graveyard slot, last thing at night on a Saturday night (or first thing on a Sunday, if you prefer to look at it that way, which nobody did, as they were all students). This had the nice effect that sometimes another presenter would forget to turn up, and your show could comfortably overrun by twenty minutes or so.

Show 22: Sun 17 Oct 2004, from 4:00am-6:20am

Broadcast on LSR FM, on FM and online. Artist of the week: Jean Michel Jarre.

  • Lemon Jelly – Space Walk
  • William Orbit (with Beth Orton) – Water from a Vine Leaf
  • Gotan Project – Época
  • Jean Michel Jarre – Équinoxe (Part III)
  • Ladytron – Light and Magic
  • Elektric Music – TV
  • Duran Duran – Come Undone
  • Andy Pickford – Oblivion
  • Jean Michel Jarre – Tout est Bleu
  • Massive Attack – Protection
  • Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
  • Kings of Convenience – Know-How
  • Bomb the Bass – Darkheart
  • Dirty Vegas – Walk Into the Sun
  • The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  • Jean Michel Jarre – Aero
  • Robert Miles – Maresias
  • Komputer – The World of Tomorrow
  • Client – Radio (Extended)
  • Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
  • Baxendale – Your Body Needs My Sugar
  • Paul van Dyk – Time of Our Lives
  • Moby – Porcelain
  • Manu Chao – Bongo Bong

This show was recorded, and for the most part still exists. It will be posted as a Playlist for stowaways soon.

Chart for stowaways – 30 August 2014

Let’s jump forward a couple of weeks, so we can gradually work our way towards the present day. I was away in August, so the charts went a bit odd, but here are the singles from the final week of the month…

  1. Röyksopp & Robyn – Do it Again

  2. Shit Robot – Teenage Bass

  3. New Order – Confusion Remixes 02

  4. Jean Michel Jarre – La Cage

  5. Saint Etienne – Pocket Call

  6. Soulsavers – Longest Day

  7. Erasure – I Love Saturday

  8. Röyksopp & Robyn – Every Little Thing

  9. Gotan Project – El Mensajero

  10. The Irrepressibles – In This Shirt

Beginner’s guide to Gotan Project

Gotan Project are most certainly one of the more intriguing acts to turn up in recent years – a French/Argentinian mix who are in the middle bringing tango music into the twenty-first century with a bump. They’re eclectic, strange, and entirely fantastic.

Key moments

Well, they haven’t actually had any hits yet. The best description I can come up with is a modern tango fusion, so if you’re a tango purist you may want to stay clear. When I saw them live one of them walked on wearing a top and tails and starting playing a grand piano, and then a second walked on, also exquisitely dressed, and took to the decks.

Where to start

Start at the beginning with the glorious La Revancha del Tango, and you’ll soon know whether you’re ready for more.

What to buy

Work through the albums in order, with Lunático and Tango 3.0. Then step sideways to the lovely Inspiración Espiración.

Don’t bother with

Any of the singles. The remixes are good, but there are plenty of deluxe versions of the albums available if those are what you’re after. I don’t own any of the live albums, although they are incredible live, so they might well be worth having.

Hidden treasure

The side-steps into hip hop are always entertaining, particularly Mi Confesión on the second album. It’s worth having La Cruz del Sur if you can find a copy too.

For stowaways

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The oldies chart

Here’s a chart of the most listened to albums on my playlists in the last five years, which were released prior to 2003. Too complicated? OK, these are the top 20 oldies for stowaways:

  1. Kraftwerk – The Mix (1991)
  2. The Beloved – X (1996)
  3. Espiritu – Another Life (1997)
  4. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
  5. Röyksopp – Melody AM (2001)
  6. Manu Chao – Próxima Estación… Esperanza (2001)
  7. Everything But the Girl – Walking Wounded (1996)
  8. Massive Attack – Blue Lines (1991)
  9. Saint Etienne – Tiger Bay (1994)
  10. Alabama 3 – Exile on Coldharbour Lane (1997)
  11. Delerium – Karma (1997)
  12. 1 Giant Leap – 1 Giant Leap (2001)
  13. Delerium – Poem (2000)
  14. Alpinestars – Basic (2000)
  15. Kraftwerk – Trans Europa Express (1977)
  16. Kraftwerk – Die Mensch-Maschine (1978)
  17. Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993)
  18. Gotan Project – La Revancha del Tango (2001)
  19. Zoot Woman – Living in a Magazine (2001)
  20. Apollo 440 – Electro Glide in Blue (1997)