Thanks for all the hints, inspiration, quotes, music and points of view to Mark Stewart who sadly passed away. Many words have been written about The Pop Group, The Maffia and his collaborative works with others. His influence can hardly be understated from Bristol to the rest of the world. From Nick Cave to Gary Clail, Massive Attack to Nun Gun, Adrian Sherwood to Daniel Miller. He never stopped exploring, experiencing and questioning the status quo.
Find some of his musical legacy via Mute, On-U Sound or via Mark Stewarts own page and associates.
Incredible 23 years have passed without an regular Keith LeBlanc solo album now, hard to believe as he’s been all over the place all of the time but except some reissues on his / Blanc bandcamp lately there was hardly any solo activity besides 2008’s Chess Moves – Future Blues Project not many seemed to know what to make of as it was a strange hybrid of original recordings with added Instrumentation by Keith, Doug (Wimbish) and Skip (McDonald) – maybe best described as found on dc “Re-production and partial re-instrumentation of old blues tracks using the original tapes”. Then there where regrouping activities as Tack>>Head live and even culminating into the “For The Love Of Money” cover versions album in 2014 which didn’t exactly overmatch it’s expectations. I’m not even sure if the title was meant ironically.
Anyway; 12 Movements Of Boom does.
Of course it might be there where no expectations to see another KLB album which was really regrettable as his incredible mix of electro, hip hop, funk, jazz and whatever style comes to his mind held together by his rhythmic brilliance somehow managed to build up to amazing heights, especially on Time Traveller (Blanc Records 1992) and Stranger Than Fiction (Enigma / Nettwerk 1989) two albums I regularly return to. The selected cast of guest musicians old and new support this all-in vision.
His long time allies Doug & Skip ‘Little Axe’ and a shelved but not forgotten tape with recordings of vocals and poetry from the late Andy Fairley given to him in the 90’s build the solid core of Boom. He dives more into mellower jazz ambience and hip hop here than in the 1990’s without loosing himself and his trademark edgy beats. A very welcome highlight.
A week later, October 25th he released the companion album – Boom Instrumentals & Bonus Tracks.
Due to the global pandemic slowdown 2020 was musicwize a great year for unexpected archive releases and supporting artists with no other income via digital purchases.
Concerts I’ve missed where I already had tickets for (Heaven 17 and Drew McDowall). Other tours and events, like the James Bond Movie f.e. and the cabaret shows I had in mind just disappeared
but at least no one I live along was seriously ill and suffered which allows me to keep some hope left for the better.
Like so many I’ve spent unexpectedly much time at home which brought the bonus of listening to more longform pieces and much more music in general. One of the artists I discovered and listened a lot to was OhmikRon, a Musician and DJ from Hungary with many mixes online at soundcloud and a batch of releases spread over various platforms and labels. I already featured one of his extraordinary dubtech tracks here month ago but as the according album was issued in early February I won’t miss the chance to include it here.
Another early bird of 2020 when we still thought Donald Trump and his likeminded fans where one of the greatest global Problems was the 2nd Album from the US Ska / Pop act Heavensbee. Different line-up and new singers but lyrically and musically a great pleasure to listen to, especially when it get’s a little more sunny outside. I kept this one always on my phone;
In March thing looked more grim already and an emotional snapshot of mixed feelings, effects of isolation, unforeseeable future developments, danger through social habits reached me via Marco Milanesio’s new label hum_an. Italy was by then more haunted than Germany as I recall and it was hard to believe the news.
A collaboration of DsorDNE with Onda Lunga, the resulting 20+ Minutes left an lasting impression on me.
May brought a new 10″ single by an artist I’ve been following through the years, since I discovered the first Bourbonese Qualk album in a 2nd Hand store and discovered a pretty unique approach
leading to many styles and releases I enjoyed a lot. Since the end of BoQu he released two brilliant albums as solo artist, the second more electronically based and more easily to obtain appeared in 2018 and this was the first new release I found issued in dubplate form on a small french label with a version on the flip. Digitally not fully available online but really worth tracking down.
Also in May ŽEN from Croatia issued this free / pay what you want Remix Album to celebrate their 10th Anniversary I stumbled upon while looking up whatever happened to Borghesia, a pretty underrated ex-yugoslavian band I’ve been listening a lot to somewhen in the last century. While their regular Albums are recommended on their own too this more electronically / experimental approach collected here works surprisingly well and I’m sure their lyrics are full of passion and sense too.
June brought the next fruits of the Cousin Silas / Glove Of Bones colloboration, actually the 4th already and this one connects even more wildly than it’s predecessor Afrodubism with a fictious Africa, Voodoo and Experimental Dub. It can be reminiscent of African Head Charge at their heights while adding the spiritual freedom of The Grateful Dead and after repeated listening it get’s addictive. Great Stuff, you’re warned. And it was releases on Cassette too. Who could have believed we’ll return to buying tapes casually in 2020?
Always a pleasure is a new release by Little Annie Anxiety, while never sure if it will be more Torch, Experimental or Blues orientated her lyrics and incredible smokey voice classified her years ago as the diva of our generation. Her history is as interesting as her whole ouvre – working with Crass, On-U Sound, Coil, painting, writing and during the last years being involved with Italian group Larsen a lot she returned with a new album which bears one of the very best suitable titles for 2020 imho; ‘A Bar Too Far’. Contrary to her last one this leans more into the blue hours, recorded with Paul Wallfisch on the Piano once more after a break of 10 years and also featuring Kid Congo Powers on several tracks. Since July only available digital with full cd graphics enclosed on a ‘pay what you want/can’ base, all proceeds are donated to a good cause in her local community at Miami, Florida.
Shriekback where one of the artists who took their chances to empty their archives this year in full. Nearly no month without a release passed by and I still did not manage to catch up with it. Besides rare live and session material, collaborations and solo stuff now nearly their complete catalouge is now available digitally too but only via their homepage.
No other way supports the artist more directly, so check it out, also a wealth of free downloads can be found there to wet your tastes. Stic Basin was an project started by Barry Andrews years ago and besides my chance to get the first release finally he also found time to get this 30 Minute something Album out in October, even physically as limited DIY CD in hand stamped and personalized digipak too. The only fault I could find was – it is too short.
Coincidentally another 17 years came to fruition for Denise Sherwood, the eldest of Adrian (ON-U Sound) Sherwood’s daughters. ‘This Road’ as she frankly admits in interviews was devoloped, rethought, re-recorded in parts nearly endlessly. Still it sounds like a ‘Fairy Tale’ and fulfils all the promises her contribution to 2019’s excellent ‘Pay It All Back, Vol. 7’ compilation ‘Ghost Heart’ made. This is charming, groovy and – dare I say – soulful at once.
Of course it helps if you have Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Skip McDonald, Doug Wimbish, George Oban, Keith LeBlanc, Carlton Oglive, Mark Stewart and equally talented guests at hand and a great producer and engineer as father. I just wished she could have gotten her mother – Kishi – to do one of the classy ON-U sleeves for this, while I understand that the japanese styled aquarell of flowers in a broken vase in mellow colors might be for her the perfect fitting artwork. Available in all formats, a real gem.
Released in late Autumn, End of October came Drew McDowall’s 4th solo album, his closest to Ritual Music and to his time with Coil yet. A differentiated and very delictate but minimimal and ambient work. Coupled with utterly bizarre artwork by NY artist Caroline Schub who sees her work as public record of chronic illness and published by Dais Records in a variety of formats including limited beautiful grey smoke Vinyl, green transparent and unlimited black Vinyl. Digital it comes along with it and two extra tracks. I did not expect too much from this to be honest but working on Coil reissues he was involved in and the Time Machines live project it seems he found his way now more focused again. ‘Agalma’ is a sublime pleasure, where musicanship, vision and well crafted mastering and production meet.
Beginning of December a 19 track fundraiser compilation supported and initated by local artists with all donations going to Our Kitchen on The Isle Of Thanet (1hr away from London on the coast of Kent) was published via bandcamp digital only. While for me the unknown and exclusive tracks of artists I knew – Adrian Sherwood Mixes, Mark Stewart Vs. NoHumanEye, Youth and one of the last mixes done by Andrew Weatherall for Meatraffle – did not let me think very long about the 5 P.St. asked for it. Especially after using the chance listening to it as a whole I was impressed with many of the tracks by artists I’ve hardly ever heard of. This is an outstanding compilation and worth every Penny.
Of course this listing can only be a glimpse, there have been several more outstanding and remarkable releases throughout the year and most likely even more I simply missed and find about in years to come.
‘Pull up! This is the new style.
Flip the script.
This one’s for the inmates.
The process, the process, the process church of the final judgement.
Like my life these tunes are crunked, chopped & screwed.
A deep listening reflection on this processed world we live in.
No sleep till Bristol.
As Prince Jazzbo said ‘one step forward, two step backward.’
Let the drums of defiance ring across this land.’
Not brand new but nonetheless worth listening. For tracklist and dl see secret thirteen, always worth a visit.
So with a deep look back in time (36 years now) here is an exciting Reissue I’ve been looking forward to since I read about it. Not just another Collection of b-sides and new mixes but a whole Compilation of unreleased outtakes is included now with the Maffia debut album before the classic Wimbish / McDonald / LeBlanc trio aided Mark Stewart.
See a newly made Video for “Liberty City” here.
The regularly over-used term ‘groundbreaking’ is finally used for once justified on this album which was/is a mutant melting of dub, industrial, anarcho free-style attitude with a singer who could sing but choose not to and lyrics which where not pretentious but worthy to chew upon years after years.
The original version of “The Paranoia Of Power”:
(from “The Lost Tapes” Compilation)
>> Mark Stewart himself perceives The Lost Tapes as a document that now possesses a storied significance: “It was a real adventure discovering this forbidden history, a twisted tale of Muswell hillbillies, French pirates and a Dutch schizophrenic doctor doing psychic archaeology.” Whilst Adrian Sherwood describes these works as characteristic of a distinct primitivism: “[The Lost Tapes represent] the early childhood of the songs before Mark and me conducted frenzied, scorched earth, slash-and-burn, twenty-hour mental, manic editing sessions at Crass’ studios that led to birthing the finished album.” <<
Info from Mute.com
There is also an Vinyl 2LP Edition, in black or clear with DL Code available directly via mutebank . Digitally the lost tapes are also available on it’s own via iTunes or Amazon.