4/21: Marathon Monday, Pierre Henry, Coil, Biosphere, Christina Carter

This post will be somewhat brief – I am exhausted after a long weekend and a day of walking through the city of Boston during the Boston Marathon. Today was the first day that Boston felt pleasant to me. This city is no doubt beautiful and there’s plenty to enjoy here, from the music to the art and food, but it’s always radiated a kind of rude or isolated attitude that’s kept me from falling in love with it. Leave it to a sports event to change all of that; it was truly refreshing to hear all the cheering and energy from the crowd, today. If only Boston could always be like this.

Down to the music: one of my favorite moments was right at the start of the show. My friend, Patrick, alerted me to Henry’s “Psyché Rock” and from the moment I heard the flute and brass accompaniments, I was in love. It’s a maximal recording, utilizing wind instruments, bizarre electronic oddities, a massive, almost jazzy bell melody, and a cutting rhythm that see-saws between funk and simple rock heaviness. That it was recorded in 1967 makes it all the more impressive and demonstrates just how ahead of his time Mr. Henry was; plenty of bands have attempted to recreate this sound, but to my ears they sound either too cheesy or too preoccupied with writing something that will appeal to the ever hungry “indie” crowd. A great video for this song has been posted on Youtube and everything about it matches the song perfectly; it blends the cold, barking quality of Henry’s synthesizers with the warmth of the underlying melodies and rhythms by arranging mechanical imagery and sperm-like/fuse-like figures into an awkward and almost human dance. The song has been remixed numerous times since it was recorded, most famously by Fatboy Slim (it doesn’t sound much different than the original, except towards the end). A video for that remix is also available. If you search Youtube enough you’ll find several variations on the song and the video.

I received a call about the Coil track I played and would like to clarify that the version of “A Cold Cell” featured on the show is from a compilation called A Guide for Beginners: A Silver Voice. This is the first part of a two-part compilation assembled for Coil fans in Russia and released to celebrate Coil’s performance in Moscow in 2001. The two-CD set is something like an introduction to Coil, one disc being dedicated to less abrasive music and the other to the more rhythmic, heavy material. Each disc featured one new track, both of which were eventually released in a different form on Ape of Naples. A live video of Coil performing “A Cold Cell” can be found right here, where Jhonn Balance makes Stockhausen an honorary member of Coil and dedicates the song to “all the prisoners of the world, especially prisoners of conscience.” This version has slowly become one of my favorite Coil songs and deserves a wider audience than it has received. That other anthology-exclusive song, “A.Y.O.R.,” can be be viewed at this location.

Apparently MTV has featured or, in some countries, still features a show called Chillout Zone. Much to my surprise they’ve played Biosphere and I was able to find this video for your viewing pleasure. I’m in the process of familiarizing myself with Biosphere, but I can’t recall enjoy ambient music of this style so much since the first time I heard The Orb. His direct relation to the early pioneers of electronic music makes his sound all the more attractive to me and you’re likely to hear more of his music on Laughter in the future, especially considering how well he blends synth-heavy ambience with field-recording samples and danceable rhythms.

As for Christina Carter and Charalambides, well I’ll let her performance and Tom Carter’s interview do the talking. Brainwashed has interviewed Tom Carter of Charalambides and has made that interview plus some live material available for easy viewing. Charalambides have released an almost innumerable amount of records over the last 17 years and continue to change and experiment with their sound. They morph between guitar freak-out noise, surreal folk meditations, quiet and melodic songs, and unusual jazz-touched improv. Christina’s performance on these videos is particularly stunning; make sure to take the time to view this.

I have a couple of Current 93 reviews forthcoming and a mix still in the works, so keep checking back for updates.

Thanks for listening!

download – Laughter 4/21/2008, Hour 1 – .mp3
download – Laughter 4/21/2008, Hour 2 – .mp3

01. Pierre Henry & Michel Colombier “Psyché Rock” from Psyché Rock (1997) on Polydor — originally released in 1967

02. The Legendary Pink Dots “A Distant Summer” from The Whispering Wall (2004) on ROIR

03. Benoit Pioulard “Palimend” from Precis (2006) on Kranky

04. Arthur Russell “Make 1, 2” from Calling Out of Context (2004) on Audica

05. Foetus “Miracle” from Love (2005) on Birdman

06. Soft Cell “Memorabilia” from Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing (1982) on Some Bizzare

07. Matmos “The Struggle Against Unreality Begins” from The Civil War (2003) on Matador

08. Autechre “Thepic” from Quaristice (2008) on Warp

09. Pseudocode “Holzwege” from Europa (1982) on Insane Music

10. Kammerflimmer Kollektief “Implodiert” from Maander (2001) on Payola

11. Meat Beat Manifesto “Acid Again” from Actual Sounds and Voices (1998) on Nothing

12. Death in June “This is Paradise I” from Free Tibet (2006) on DIJ.com — ft. David Tibet

13. Biosphere “Antennaria” from Substrata (1997) on All Saints

14. Coil “A Cold Cell” from A Guide for Beginners (2001) on Feelee

15. Fovea Hex “While You’re Away” from Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent: Two (2006) on Die Stadt

16. Andreas Martin and Christoph Heemann “Die Nachbarn” from Lebenserinnerungen Eines Lepidopterologen (2004) on Robot Records — composed in 1991

17. Battles “Tras” from Tras (2004) on Cold Sweat

18. Christina Carter “Moving Intercepted” from Electrice (2006) on Kranky

19. Vertonen “Failure (Graywater Terminal)” from Orchid Collider (2005) on CIP

20. Panacea & Hanayo “You Hungry Man” from Hanayo in Panacea (1998) on Mille Plateaux

21. Tim Hecker “Arctic Lover’s Rock, Part 1 (Excerpt)” from Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again (2001) on Substractif

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