Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Gut Feeling – Belly [#564]

R-4389581-1407133358-7875-1.jpegAnother bootleg, another band; You won’t find Gut Feeling in the shops, but you will find it during the music download free for all mid-noughties. Like I did.

It was then that I was  intent on finding as much as I could of Tanya Donelly’s works having heard a few songs on various sampler CDs and having recalled the popularity of Belly amongst my university friends in the nineties. So when I found out that they hadn’t actually made that many albums, I resorted to bootlegs and fan stuff.

Gut Feeling comprises of a compilation of recordings made at the band’s gig in Grant Park in Chicago and New Orleans LA in 1993. It’s nice because there are so few bootlegs out there for the band which is a shame because they are often overlooked these days.

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Greatest Hits – Gipsy Kings [#554]

Gipsy_Kings_-_Greatest_Hits_Cover_ArtSpanish guitar wanking with France’s own Gypsy Kings. Yeah I didn’t know they were French either.

Having heard their version of Hotel California on the Big Lebowski soundtrack and already being familiar with chart topping hit Bamboleo I thought I’d punt their Greatest Hits CD because, even if I didn’t like all of their songs, I’d have some nice background music for when I held paella evenings.

Of course, the paella evenings may have stopped but the music still gets the old toes tapping and you can’t help wanting some chorizo.

 

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Fairytales of Slavery – Miranda Sex Garden [#456]

Unknown-3We’ve met Miranda Sex Garden on the music project before; Medieval Baebes’ Katherine Blake’s other band and their weird mix of ethereal a cappella and dark wave. I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy listening to MSG. Often I approach them with a soupçon of trepidation but I always end up having a good old shoegazey shuffle.

Fairytales of Slavery is MSGs penultimate release from 1994. It is not as finely honed as Carnival of Souls and you can almost detect a bit of lethargy in the overall production but it still rewards the listener with an interesting sweep across the dark wave genre brought to you via Blake’s unusual showcase of talent.

Probably very popular with Whitby Goth Festival goers.

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Elyria – Faith and the Muse [#425]

FatM_-_ElyriaElyria is Faith and the Muse’s first album. You might remember Faith and the Muse from their previous appearance on the Music Project, Annwyn, Beneath the WavesInfluences of Dead Can Dance and Ordo Equituum Solis can be heard.

Had I been twenty years younger I’d have probably really enjoyed this album. It’s the kind of sound I was looking for when I was in my twenties and looking for something more etherial and mysterious to fill a spiritual hole in my life. Sadly, I’m not in my forties and listening to this album while sitting in a corner on a massive bean bag sniffing joss sticks is not entirely practical.

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Dummy – Portishead [#400]

Dummy - Portishead The nineties. A time of new beginnings. New Labour. New shoes. New hair. New protests. For some the nineties revolved around the hype over the potential “new age dawn” that the hairy bearded types, yogurt weavers, tofu knitters and floaty vagina types promised us would arise at midnight on the 1st January 2000, further fuelled by the likes of X Files and acceptance of associated “alternative” theories and television and other media’s thirst to provide Forteana via whatever programme concept they could think up over a copy of Fortean Times and a really strong joint.

The sound tracks to most of these programmes included songs from today’s album. You could almost guarantee it. More so, the band’s music began to appear in nineties dramas aimed at twenteenies such as This Life and the like. Indeed, if anything says nineties music to me, it’s Portishead.

But my introduction to their music came a long time before BBC documentaries about Parapsychology, UFOs or ghosties. It was a former acquaintance who introduced me to their music. Round about the same time as the same former acquaintance introduced me to Lara Croft. I was transfixed. Not just by Lara Croft’s figure, but by the weirdness that tracks such as Mysterons and Sour Times conveyed.  Later, that same album became to be even more influential and prominent in my life.

Listening to it again for the music project, it brought back all kinds of memories. Memories long unstirred. Fond memories. Memories of experimentation. Memories of people I haven’t seen or heard from in a very long time. Happy memories. Memories of a blossoming time for me and many of my contemporary peers.

Such is the power of music.

We’ll see Portishead five more times in this music project, again, all albums that were released at significant points in my life. So I’ll no doubt talk more about the band then. But for now, I’ll leave this entry with a song that should haunt you as much as it haunts me.

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The Division Bell – Pink Floyd [#378]

DIRTY+DANCINGThe Division Bell – Pink Floyd

Steelrattus here again, with the last of my guest posts in this seven day run. And a great album to finish on, coincidentally, for me at least.

The Division Bell is the second of the two albums that I actually know quite well, or at least I’ve listened to it a lot. It’s another album that dates back to my time at university, Surrey University to be specific. <Anecdote>Along with the aforementioned wonderful UniversityRichard™ who introduced me to lots of music, I had another friend called Simon Levy. I will admit I was a bit of a twat towards Simon, to begin with. I felt like Simon was trying to muscle in on the small clique I was a member of, and being of low self esteem I didn’t like it, and didn’t really know better. But despite the frosty start I did eventually warm to Simon. Much like Richard he was a “music pusher”, albeit on a much smaller scale. Simon only pushed me towards two artists, Pink Floyd and Roger Waters. I remember Richard being quite wary of Pink Floyd, specifically The Wall, for which he’d give me a there-be-dragons-here look when I mentioned it. Anyway, I consumed the tapes that Simon recorded for me, and enjoyed them. I graduated in 1995, and The Division Bell was released in 1994, so it just crept in prior to the end of my degree.</Anecdote> To this day I remain a definite Pink Floyd and Roger Waters fan, with a caveat. I’ve been lucky enough to see The Wall live, twice, and I now have a much better understanding of Richard’s there-be-dragons-here look; it’s a hard hitting album if you grapple with its story. I also have a debt of thanks to Simon for the introduction, but sadly along with being an idiot when I first met him I was also an idiot and lost touch with him post-university, and have never been able to find him since to at least say, “thanks… and sorry”.

The Division Bell comes from what I describe as third generation Pink Floyd – I’m not sure if these are official designations, but they work for me. I see first generation Floyd as their early 60s psychedelic stuff with Syd Barrett, and that’s where the caveat comes in because I don’t like this era at all. Second generation Floyd I identify with Barrett’s departure, although I don’t think they hit their stride until Dark Side of the Moon. Third generation Floyd follows the departure of Roger Waters in 1985. There have only been three albums post-Waters, of which this is one. The music from this phase can be very… nice, but the albums lack the bite that Waters added to varying degrees, and at times feels they feel positively anaemic.  I do enjoy both A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the first of the albums without Waters released in 1987, and The Division Bell, even though they’re both a mixed bag. I even have a karaoke version of Coming to Life, from The Division Bell, but it’s bloody hard to sing.

An interesting fact that I didn’t know is that the album name was suggested by Douglas Adams, apparently over dinner and in return for a donation to his favourite charity. It can’t have required much effort though as it was a lyric from one of the tracks on the album, High Hopes.

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The Crow – Original Soundtrack [#328]

The_Crow_soundtrack_album_coverI didn’t want to be seen as a scenester or hipster. I didn’t want to be seen as a trend seeker. So I came to the whole thing late. The Crow was always a film I liked though.

It tied in the mid nineties comic book superhero film gold rush which saw films featuring forgotten heroes such as Swamp Thing, Darkman and The Phantom being pushed out on meagre budgets and crappy scripts. But amidst the deluge The Crow took centre stage, mostly due to the tragic loss of the lead actor, the rumours of conspiracy, curses and such like. The dark, brooding pre-emo atmosphere making floppy goth vogue long before sparkly vampires.

The soundtrack featured a number of bands from the perimeters of good taste. The Cure – Because you know, it’s goth.  Pantera, for the angry shouting. Nine Inch Nails because it’s the nineties and they’re in every sound track from Toy Story  to Big Breasted BiBabes from Baltimore. They’re all there. But for me, it was the song It Can’t Rain All the Time performed by Jane Siberry that made the whole soundtrack endurable. That and the realisation, the entire soundtrack wasn’t really goth.

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Change We Must – Jon Anderson [#258]

CHANGES+IN+MINDChange We Must – Jon Anderson

Hello, me again!

Two bits of good news this time. I don’t have a lot of time to write about this album, and I’m not a great fan of it either. So you, the lucky reader, should have a lot less to read. I shall try and go for a more practical Stegzy type summary approach.

As background, I first heard Jon Anderson during my early 90s university years. Being a nerd I inevitably delved into prog rock, with a lot of musical introductions from my lovely university friend Richard. One of those groups was Yes, and if you didn’t know Jon Anderson is their lead singer. I also listened to a lot of Vangelis, and he has teamed up with Jon Anderson on several albums. I am probably a bigger fan of the Jon & Vangelis albums than I am Yes, although I don’t listen to either a great deal. I did listen to some of Anderson’s solo albums, including the very odd Olias of Sunhillow, but I haven’t gone back to any of it. Anderson’s solo stuff almost feels like Christian rock, although as far as I know he wasn’t into religion a great deal.

Those who’ve not heard Anderson before will be surprised by his voice, which is very high, and quite feminine. Apparently he’s a natural alto tenor, so both speaks and sings in a high range, and it’s not falsetto. This does give his music character and originality, of some form.

Change We Must is again that most accursed of albums, the best of (sort of). It’s doubly accursed because bizarrely these are rearrangements – of a mix of Yes, Jon & Vangelis, and solo tracks – which have an orchestral and choral backing. So they’ve been muzak’d, of a fashion. In all fairness to Mr. Anderson apparently some of the tracks on here are new, so it’s a right old dog’s dinner.

In all honesty I don’t recognise most of the tracks on here. The album opens with one of his most famous tracks, A State of Independence, which is a collaboration with Vangelis. The orchestral version jars though, versus the more spartan electronic sounds of the original. It’s a similar story throughout, to the final namesake of the album, Change We Must, which has both orchestra and choir, albeit the original was also fairly rich in tone.

Sorry Jon, your optimistic spiritual tunes mostly don’t do it for me. Doubly so when new versions of old tracks.

I hope Stegzy doesn’t mind me breaking with tradition slightly. Here’s an actual promo video for the album, featuring an interview with Jon.

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Annwyn, Beneath the Waves – Faith and the Muse [Album #76]

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 13.11.55Annwyn, Beneath the Waves – Faith and the Muse

Until the last decade I had shamefully only heard of Faith and the Muse in rumours and student bedroom wall posters. Faith and the Muse have a similar style to Ordo Equitum Solis. Much like OES, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, Faith and the Muse are popular amongst the dark clothe wearing goth fraternity. Dark in style with mediaeval tones, Faith and the Muse mix open atmospheric chords with wailing floaty dressed female vocals and, in some tracks, militaristic drumming.

I had only listened to Annwyn once before. I’m not sure I would choose them for a car mix tape or to accompany a dinner party. Unless I was trying to be some sort of hipster goth or impress some Twiglet (sic) obsessed teenagers on their first forays into the dark.

I don’t know why I find this kind of music enjoyable. Perhaps it is the mental images of  dark and wet rainy streets that it conjures. In all, if your folk is too cheery, this is what you want. In a room. With joss sticks and pentagrams.

 

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