Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Islands – Mike Oldfield [#643]

One lesson to learn when curating a large collection of music is to make regular backups. Last week I had to make an emergency restore of my Mac’s OS which meant having to resort to a backup from the iCloud. Unfortunately, this meant that only the files I’ve managed to upload via my very slow 21st Century rural broadband or those matched via iTunes are currently available for me to listen to. Indeed, today’s album, Islands, is not available on iTunes and my iCloud library does not have the files uploaded, which is a shame. Fortunately, I did manage to listen and pencil together a brief draft of observations for today’s entry but it means there may be a slight decline in posting regularity for the next couple of weeks. Please stay with me though!

Good old “x for £xx” deals. If it wasn’t for “x CDs for £xx” deals my music library would probably have been very sparse and I’d have a lot of money.  I first obtained Oldfield’s Islands on CD during a 3 for £20 deal at the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool (now Claus Ohlson) in the early nineties, I think I was still at school.

When Islands was released, computer graphics were, by today’s standards, a little bit shit. But that didn’t stop artists like Mike Oldfield from using visual media to add to their output. So when I came across the music video that accompanied this album, Wind Chimes, I was blown away. “WOW!” I would say, “Look at the detail on that vector graphic!” something I would struggle to recreate on my Commodore 64 even if I had the right programme to do something like that.

So a career in computer graphics passed me by because the technology I had to hand was insufficient to help tease me towards such an occupation. The self-realisation that already older people are often better at things than you is a big train not to miss.

The Wind Chimes is the long piece in this album and is riven with melodies, rhythms and motifs with a heavy eastern and international influences pretty much like most Avante Garde and artistic music of the time (see also the African influences in Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe). The other tracks are songs performed by the likes of Bonny “Total Eclipse” Tyler and Kevin “Nick Drake” Ayres. Also, curiously, Yes alumni Geoff Downes and Enigma’s Micheal Cretu also assisted with the production which just sends chills down my spine as trying to visualise the way my music tastes are connected is what inspired this whole project in the first place.

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From an Ancient Star – Belbury Poly [#620]

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Today I’m stepping back in time to add some of the albums I have bought since starting this project back in 2014. While I will continue to work through my album collection alphabetically, occasionally, once a month at least, I will post an album bought recently that  I may have missed alphabetically. One such example is todays offering from hauntology experts Belbury Poly.

From an Ancient Star is, in my mind at least, the soundtrack from a British 1970’s children’s TV programme from Ghost Box Studios. A young family, mother deceased, move into a spooky old manor house in rural Berkshire (because it always is); Two older children, brother and sister, their adopted younger sibling and scientist father.

Within the house they discover a “hidden door” which, it transpires, allows passage between a strange new world wherein the children have a most peculiar adventure. Freddie Jones or Patrick Troughton would be the old man living near the house with seemingly bizarre ideas, while rugged Patrick Allen would provide wise sensible fatherly words to his wild sounding children alight with strange tales, perhaps supported by his new girlfriend possibly played by someone like Caroline Munro.

Sadly, there isn’t really such a programme, but, upon listening, hauntological memories of Owl Service, Children of the Stones and Dramarama from the golden age of children’s TV are invoked. Its not hard to imagine the music being used in such programmes, yet the album is actually from 2009.

Belbury Poly have a really unique and imagination driving sound and I think of recent years, this has got to be my most favourite Belbury Poly album. From beginning to end, every time you listen, you get something new.

Or should that be reawakened memories from that parallel universe you slipped in from….

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In a Moment…Ghost Box – Various Artists [#619]

Unknown-1Ghost Box. The stable from where delights such as Belbury Poly, Broadcast and Focus Group hail. In a Moment…Ghost Box is a compilation of some of the most awesome hauntological music you’ll ever hear. If you’re looking to relive those summer holidays in Scarfolk or those school gatherings around the TV in a cabinet on stilted wheels, then this is what you want to listen to.

Invoking memories of a prenuclear holocaust society, crap video graphics and lots of nylon sweaters, the album is a showcase for many different bands that come under the Ghost Box label’s protective cloak. An excellent starting place for people wanting to explore music of its type.

This album is definitely a gateway album. Though probably to another dimension rather than hard drugs. I suppose that depends on your outlook on life. It is also one of the main reasons why there was a hiatus of the Music Project last year. Having obtained the compilation, I then discovered I had actually bought more albums since starting the project and they had been omitted because they didn’t show on my list. Frustrated by not having a completely alphabetical list of albums, I’ve now decided it doesn’t really matter and only a few OCD readers will be upset by the out of sequence post that will follow this but I’m sure you’ll forgive me when you hear how awesome From an Ancient Star is.

 

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Images – Jean Michelle Jarre [#612]

Images - Jean Michel Jarre

Not available in the UK

Having now swapped to the more hard drive friendly Apple Music, when writing entries for the music project, I often try to do research by listening via my iPhone through my car stereo while driving to and from work. This usually works well for the more mainstream bands in the collection but sometimes I’ll have difficulty locating the album on Apple Music because of “Licencing Laws” which I feel is a bit of a bugger because I have the CD!

Images is a “best of” compilation of Jarre’s work. It is the last CD I ever bought from the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool (now the awesome Clas Ohlson) during a 5 for £20 mega sale. Isn’t it a shame that streaming media providers like Apple Music and Amazon don’t do the good old “5 for £20” deals? Instead, they sting you for music you already own. Meh.

Jarre is one of those artists whose music screams 1970s hauntology. In fact, I’d probably hazard a guess at him being an influence on the likes of Belbury Poly, Focus Group and other Ghost Box stalwarts. To me, if it isn’t the expectation of hearing the hum from my father’s stereo’s badly earthed amplifier or the memory of the cassette tape with the picture of the weird skull/bleeding Earth picture on the front, the 1970s is this type of music. The tracks on this album are pretty similar to those on Essential and Aero, indeed, this is just simply a record label’s attempt to cash in on some hapless music nut wanting a bargain in a 5 for £20 deal.

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I Like to Score – Moby #602

Moby_I_Like_to_Score

I Like to Score – Moby

Coffee table hipster music nineties style from everyone’s favourite baldy hipster nineties musician Moby. This is the album that everyone bought after he released Play in an effort to seem more culturally independent amongst their fellow Saturday Guardian supplement reading proto-hipsters by showing ownership of his previously released albums.

 

Comprising of a selection of Moby’s music written for film, I Like To Score does feature some good tunes including First Cool Hive from Scream, Ah-Ah from Cool World and his take on the James Bond theme as used in Tomorrow Never Dies. 

As I’ve said before, even though I have a few Moby albums, I’m not a massive Moby fan. But it’s difficult to have been an adult in the nineties/noughties without having some Moby in your music collection. As I’ve also said, I’ve tried to like Moby, but I really do struggle.

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