Wednesday, September 1, 2010
"My very first recollection of being familiar with any music at all was when I was three and still in Edinburgh. My sister and my visiting cousin would get up early in the morning and rather than stick on cartoons, we whipped out a gatefold copy of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds and scare ourselves silly. It sounds pretty cheesy to anyone I play it to now but I just remember the soaring synths, guitars, harpsichords and Richard Burton's voice commanding the imagery and storyline perfectly. It had such darkness and foreboding to it which explains a lot of the “depressing” stuff my sister says I listen to nowadays. It was the artwork that had almost as much of an effect as the music; a big square book that fit in the sleeve along with one of the discs, full of terrifying illustrations of major events in the story; huge Martian tripods destroying buildings, boats and people with the heat ray, the red weed creeping and engulfing the landscape and the final picture of ravens picking apart the Martian's innards. I love it to this day and still play the same copy I did when I was three.
I remember flicking through my parents vinyl collection to find Led Zeppelin II, Alison Moyet, Phil Collins and a Eurythmics greatest hits which had everything on there and must have been my first exposure to those iconic eighties synth sounds that are once again ubiquitous in pop music today. They also got the occasional 7” single, one of which was The Proclaimers' 'Letter from America' and something nobody seems to have heard of although I understand was popular at the time, the Brazilian flavoured 'Lambada' by Kaoma. Those were my final recollections of vinyl when the nineties brought with it audio cassette, then (a little late in my household) compact disc. In spite of vinyl's resurgence through the 2000's, I didn't take to it at the same time as everyone else. For me, it was actually completely by accident.
I asked my aunt one Christmas for the Millionaire album, 'Paradisiac.' Although to her I referred to it as their LP, by which I meant 'album' of course, on CD obviously, but being of her generation she thought LP meant gramophone record so went ahead and got me just that!
Initially disappointed, I had every opportunity to return it... but I didn't. I thought it was so cool; how big it was by comparison to a jewel cased CD which meant the artwork was extra detailed along with the big typeface for the track listing and credits. I retrieved a really nice 70's turntable from my parent's attic and after getting appropriate pre amps and connectors to bring it up to date, it worked perfectly. So I stuck on my new Millionaire LP. I was far more enthralled with the idea that I was playing vinyl than I was with the music that was on it! I loved it. Where there were once small plastic discs encased in larger square plastic containers there was now cardboard stained with ink and at least one big, black, glossy disc inside which had the music physically worked into grooves. And following years of ease, skipping songs on iTunes after you've heard a verse and chorus, playing vinyl is more of an event and there's incentive to listen to it end to end because otherwise you have to get off you're arse, lift the needle, flip the disc... but that's a good thing. And a vinyl record just feels like more of a 'possession' than a CD and especially more so than a download, of which there is nothing for you to leaf through or look at or even just hold in your hands.
Since then I've been getting on eBay for original scratchy copies of Queen's 'A Night at the Opera' and 'Low' by David Bowie along with a few others. However my favourite purchases have been anything I could get hold of by Boards of Canada; my favourite artist bar none. They are utterly penetrating and almost ethereal but in a way that no one else can come close to reproducing. Massive swelling landscapes of synths, beats and the sounds of anything ranging from giggling children, to audio extracts from ancient nature documentaries. BoC are big fans of composing with anything and everything analogue even by way of feeding loops and synths through an old cassette deck or reel to reel so that they wow and flutter. Hearing all of that on vinyl is just... profound. I managed to get hold of a copy of 'A Beautiful Place Out In the Country' EP (my desert island disc) which comes in sky blue vinyl. When the title track rolls on I can't possibly describe how good it sounds; you have to hear it for yourself.
Their vinyl albums are quite elusive under £50, but I live in hope of finding them cheaper!"
Find TAPE at Myspace the 'Let's Not And Say We Did' EP will be on Spotify, iTunes etc., and available for free download from Monday September 13th!
TAPE - Back Down (Mp3)
TAPE - iFear (Mp3)
Approved for download!
Posted by Jon at 8:38 AM