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Ballad of the Band

May 2011





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Jan. 26th, 2019

Ballad of the Band


Welcome to my journal, 'Anything But Silence.'

Most of the entries here are things I like that I've found on Youtube, etc.  I don't have much to say anymore. 

May. 18th, 2011

Ballad of the Band

Pink Industry - Bound By Silence

May. 2nd, 2011

Ballad of the Band


Apr. 27th, 2011

Ballad of the Band

AC Marias - Just Talk

Apr. 6th, 2011

Ballad of the Band

Tubular Bells by the Brooklyn Organ Synth Orchestra/SPOEK MATHAMBO - CONTROL

Thanks to Oliver Cherer (Dollboy) for bringing these delightful spectacles to my attention.

Apr. 5th, 2011

Ballad of the Band

'Inference' - Pacific (Creation, 1990)

I'm updating this entry, originally from 2008, since new information has come to light, courtesy of my friend, Scott Sinfield (aka Ringinglow). Back then, I couldn't find much at all about Pacific but Scott recently mailed me to say :

"Your mentioning of Pacific earlier led to me digging out their 12"s and having a look around the net again for info. I've discovered who they were and what they're up to now. It was primarily the work of a guy called Dennis Wheatley, "a posh kid from Brighton" who got together with sisters Vanessa and Rachel Norwood to form Pacific. After performing at Alan McGee's Living Room, they signed to Creation. Wheatley later went on to record drum 'n' bass under the name Atlas, before forming a Latin/lounge/jazz/electronica band called Shrift (appropriately enough) --- http://www.myspace.com/shriftspace

Pacific have also appeared on Bandcamp where there's more info about who played on the records: http://pacific.bandcamp.com/track/barnoon-hill"

Anyway, here's my original post with a couple of small edits in light of that :

At the end of the 80's, Creation Records was in pretty good shape. Between 1988 - 1990, they'd released splendid records by Biff Bang Pow!, House Of Love, The Weather Prophets, My Bloody Valentine, Felt, Ride, Primal Scream, greatly outweighing those by also-rans, Emily, Apple Boutique, Revolving Paint Dream, Tangerine, The Times, The Jazz Butcher, Counterfeit, Something Pretty Beautiful and The Telescopes. Even so, Pacific weren't a big cannon for Creation - I'd hazard that none of their records sold more than 1000 - hence, the near-impossibility of finding this record. It was likely forgotten before it was even deleted. It's a shame but a common story in that sales bracket. Even so, for those with a penchant for the output of Factory, Creation or even Sarah and El Records around that time, it's worth searching out.

'Inference' is not so much of an album as a compilation of almost the band's total output.
Side 1 consists of the 1988 EP, 'Shrift.' The title track was recorded and produced by John A Rivers at his Leamington Spa studio, Woodbine. Rivers was most notable for his production jobs on Felt and Dead Can Dance at this time and 'Shrift' sounds pretty good - a high bpm pop song sitting somewhere between Section 25 and Frazier Chorus; driving sequencers, violin, trumpet, drums and Trevor Horn-style MIDI-string "hits." All the songs on 'Inference' are credited solely to 'Denniss' so I assume the rather unusual lead vocal (tongue touching roof of mouth) is his.
'Barnoon Hill' on Side 2 carves a similar furrow - upbeat, poppy, melodic and marrying the crisp indie pop jangle of the time with new-classical frills. These bleating Spanish trumpets, xylophone, cello, cornet, violin, acoustic guitar help make 'Inference' one of Creation's more interesting production jobs of the time. In that respect, Pacific had peers in, say, Shelleyan Orphan and the aforementioned Frazier Chorus, in that they were an "indie band" reaching high out of the standard drums/guitars/bass/vocal restraint.
Elsewhere, there are contemplative instrumentals that evoke foreboding storms, choppy seas and cathedrals in Spain. A liberal sprinkling of samples adds narrative effect - Indian folk singing, snowy Japanese radio broadcasts, the shipping forecast, Parliamentary debate, rainfall. One of these narrative instrumentals, 'Mineral,' is a highlight for me, as it shifts through it's simple passages of soft keys, struck piano, debonair, pastoral strings.
Alan McGee may be remembered most for Oasis but the attention is in the details.

1. Shrift
2. Autumn Island
3. Mineral
4. Barnoon Hill
5. I Wonder
6. Henry Said
7. Jetstream

Pacific were: Dennis Wheatley, Vanessa Norwood, Nick Wilson, Simon Forest, Rachel Norwood.

Further :

Pacific shared a split, covermount, flexi single with My Bloody Valentine in The Catalogue magazine (1989). Their track, 'December, With The Day' is the only one not released elsewhere.

Mar. 11th, 2011

Ballad of the Band

Dean Wareham plays 'Galaxie 500,' The Garage, London, 8th Dec 2010

Dean Wareham plays 'Galaxie 500'
The Garage, London
8th Dec 2010

As Dean Wareham's recent memoir, 'Black Postcards' testifies, life as the figurehead of late 80's/early 90's masters of minimalist dreamcore trio, Galaxie 500, wasn't always a bag of laughs. His severance from drummer/bass couple Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang after 1991's 'This Is Our Music' was well-documented at the time in acrid tit-for-tat interviews, both parties blaming the other for the sudden curtain fall on what many considered to be one of the most unique and brilliant exports of American alternative rock.
20 years on from the split, Wareham's decision to take his old band's catalogue on tour with a new line-up that includes his wife (and Luna bassist) Britta Philips, therefore comes as something of a blue thunderbolt to old G500 fans like me. Surely these songs are coated in a thick dust of malevolence? Perhaps this is some kind of exorcism? Wareham's attempt to somehow reclaim the songs which Krukowski and Yang have owned since buying the masters at auction when their label, Rough Trade, went bankrupt in 1991?
Yet it's pretty clear within the first few bars of 'Pictures' that Wareham isn't going to give us a Galaxie 500 show. The skeleton of these songs may remain but there's new flesh on the bones. The four-piece band dispenses with the original trio's precious, youthful timidity. The once-glacial pace has been notched up a gear or two and the dreamy, empyrean sacrosanctity was never unpacked from the flightcase. It's incredible therefore that this packed house, plenty of them too young to have "known" Galaxie 500 back in the day, is so plainly bedazzled tonight.
In a stiff-starched pink shirt, Wareham cuts a handsome, though somewhat twitchy figure, seldom audience-facing, shut-eyed, his once-tremulous falsetto now deeply cemented in place. But it's his guitar playing that really steals the applause; fluid, squalling, pentatonic riffs favoured by the likes of the Velvet Underground and Jonathan Richman (both piously covered by G500).
Tonight's rendition of Richman's 'Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste' is wonderfully noisy, messy even but Wareham's voice again betrays his apparent nonchalance. He loves these songs and he's bringing them home. Not that he'll need extra luggage allowance. The beauty of G500 songs was their simplicity. 3 chords would often suffice. The words were never going to change your life ("I wrote a poem on a dog biscuit but your dog refused to look at it") but there was always this unexplainable halo of blue melancholy surrounding G500 like being awoken by the sound of falling snow. And this early morning winter blueness is still embedded in Wareham, whether he likes it or not.

(Originally written for Art & Music magazine)

Mar. 8th, 2011

Ballad of the Band


The show sold out weeks ago and we were the last band ever to play this particular club before it closed down. During the soundcheck, the delay pedal stalled again. When I played a note, the sound came out of the amp a second later. There was no dry signal. I rearranged the pedals and things seemed to be ok.....until I took to the stage for the show. The delay fucked up again and as I was tuning, a machine head came away from the guitar - not the first time it'd happened either. In fact, that particular machine head was held on by several elastic bands. What kind of musician goes onstage with a temperamental 20 year old delay pedal and a guitar held together by elastic bands? This was my wake-up call. The gig went really bad.

My love affair with this pedal, the Vestax MDX, started in the late 80's. I was working 6 days a week in a record store so I couldn't get out to buy new gear. Therefore, I sent my bandmate, Will, along to the local music shop to pick up a delay pedal for me. He came back with the Vestax Digital Delay & Modulation. I was delighted, not least when later I learn that it was exactly the model favoured by Ian Crause from one of my favourite bands of the time, Disco Inferno.

The MDX served me well over the next few years. In fact, it lasted me right up until a gig at the Benicassim Festival in Spain in 2001 where it was stolen backstage, despite heavy security. I was mortified. I scoured the internet for a good two years before I found a replacement, in the meantime utilising a succession of not-quite-right pedals. The MDX was my sound, see? It was me.

When the MDX gave up the ghost last night, I was less distraught than angry. It had let me down. Yes, it was old but I thought we had a pact to support each other no matter what. I'm pretty sure the future doesn't hold another MDX - I simply can't trust such an ancient tool - but this is my little tribute.

From what I can gather from the net, the MDX isn't digital at all. It's analogue. Vestax just thought they could cash in on the mid-80's enthusiasm for all things digital and marketed it as such. This would explain the supreme warmth of the reverb and delay - something I've not found this side of a Roland Space Echo.
Vestax, a Japanese company, started out in the late 70's as an electric guitar manufacturer but diversified into portastudios, signal processors, DJ Mixers, professional turntables and Compact Disc players. The MDX therefore, is something of an experiment as far as I can gather along with the DDX (basically, the same model without the modulation).
In 1982, Vestax changed its name to Shiino Vesta Fire Corporation (SVFC) and in 1985 established Vesta Fire USA for entry into the musical electronics and new markets. In 1987, the company changed its name again to Vestax Corporation. My MDX is from around 1987-89 though there is a Vesta Fire version, which I assume pre-dates it, which is essentially the same model but for this cool black finish.

As I mentioned before, the Essex Joy Division-influenced group, Disco Inferno used the MDX on their earlier recordings - I have this straight from the horse's mouth. So I'm assuming the likes of the tracks (one of which my own band covered) below feature the pedal.

Feb. 9th, 2011

Ballad of the Band

Robert Fripp - Frippertronics

Feb. 7th, 2011

Ballad of the Band

Arvo Part - My Heart is in the Highlands

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