Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Into the Labyrinth – Dead Can Dance [#640]

Into_labyrinth_-_dead_can_danceThe sixth studio album from Dead Can Dance was the first to make me think that perhaps it was time to move on from this particular taste in weird music. A marked change from Dead Can Dance’s previous album Aion , Into the Labyrinth has a completely different, more world music feel to what came before.

It was my penultimate Dead Can Dance purchase before the long haitus and Anastatis and still I feel a little disappointed with it. Even after having not listened to it for some time before reasearching for today’s entry. I guess by this point Perry and Gerrard were busy doing their own thing and it was a contractual obligation that needed fulfilling. It sounds like it.

 

Available on Amazon and iTunes.  It might be on Spotify but I wouldn’t know.

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In Ear Park – Department of Eagles [#622]

In Ear Park by Department of Eagles

There has been some discussion of late about the longevity of albums in the music market and how, because of the likes of Spotify (a Facebook infected platform), Apple Music and Google Play, albums have only a few years left in them. This is a discussion that people have been having for some years now, indeed, there have been discussions about why modern artists are required to provide fans with a selection of their other works when, surely just by the hard work put into making one song alone, the fans should just be thankful and worship the artist just for that one pitiful track. Kids today eh?

And why not?

Well, this is an example of where I’ve downloaded bought an entire album purely because I liked one track. Really I should come up with a tag for this kind of thing as it seems to have happened regularly.

Sometime ago, the song No One Does It Like You kept coming up on random playlists and internet radios where the software decides what music you would like. So often did it surface, I had to find out what it was from.

From the sounds of the song, I thought it had been dredged up from some 1960’s hipster compilation I had but I was mistaken, it was, in fact from the 2008 album  In Ear Park by Department of Eagles.  I suspect that the reason it kept coming up was that I’m a big fan of the 4AD label and many of the artists on that label such as Tanya Donelly, Dead Can Dance and Kristin Hersh to name but a few.

Over the years, including the recent weeks before writing this article, I’ve tried to enjoy the other tracks on the album. I don’t know what it is, but something just doesn’t gel with me. Whether that be mood, time, situation or just the fact it’s a little unfamiliar and not catchy enough beyond No One Does It Like You. 

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Immortal Memory – Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy [#615]

Immortal_memory_-_gerrard_cassidy_-_front.jpgWhen she’s not wailing away hauntingly with Brendan Perry and the rest of Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard likes to loan her distinctive siren call to other atmospheric music makers like Irish composer Patrick Cassidy (Hannibal {2001} and Salem’s Lot {2004}).

This pretty much sounds no different to any other Lisa Gerrard work and will no doubt appear in cheaply produced tense, moody-broody television dramas and films set in rainy locations and involving despairing situations such as wearing raincoats in Washington DC or the protagonist not being able to tell people about something awful they’ve uncovered because “the man” won’t stand for it.

I think if I really want to feel depressed and out of luck, this is the album I’ll listen to.

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Dust Bunnies – Bettie Serveert [#403]

440px-Dust_Bunnies_(Bettie_Serveert_album_-_cover_art)The second of the three Bettie Serveert albums in the music project.

I’d not listened to this album entirely before writing this entry and before this project, I’d only really heard Bettie Serveert’s Totally Freaked Out track on the 4AD Presents compilation. After listening to the previous album I’d reviewed, I wasn’t too enamoured but then I wasn’t totally repulsed either so I approached Dust Bunnies in the same way.

Unfortunately, I think I must have listened to Attagirl on a day when I was feeling less critical because on second listen, I was wondering why I actually bothered saving the album from the recycling bin for. As a result, Attagirl eventually ended up a casualty of the first “purge” of unwanted previously featured music project albums.

Moreover, although first listen of Dust Bunnies wasn’t too offensive, it’s certainly not something I would probably listen to again. I think after nearly 10 years of ownership without listening, or identifying a track I’m keen on, is indicative that the music project’s second aim (#Deletion of unwanted music) is now starting to take effect and the decision making processes leading to the deletion of unwanted music (thus freeing up disk space) is now becoming easier.

Still, I’ll plough on…

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Death to the Pixies – The Pixies [#351]

Pixies-DeathToThePixiesCoverSometime in the 1990s I must have been living under a rock or something. It seems that, to everyone else, the greatest band that ever performed were around and releasing records. Of course, living under a rock meant that I was unaware of this. Probably in the same way as I was unaware of many other musical things. See, that’s what it was like in the pre-internet nineties; if you wanted to find out about the latest music you either had to know someone who worked at Our Price or read NME.

I didn’t know anyone that worked at Our Price. I knew someone that had a music shop, but they sold instruments and rented videos on the side. I also didn’t read NME. Paul Sanderson read NME. Mike Reagan read NME. Most other people I knew thought NME was something to do with miners or something.

Then the late nineties came and I was more musically astute. There I am listening to Uncut magazines 4AD compilation upon which is a track called Debaser. Only to me they’re singing about a steam basin. Lyrics have never been my strong point. My then pre-first-wife says to me that this song is by the Pixies and that I should like them.

At some other point in that time, there I am in work, whistling absent mindedly along to Debaser while doing a stock take in the stationery cupboard. Along comes my chum Nick.  “I didn’t know you liked the Pixies” he says to me from under his beret and soul patched face. “I don’t” I replied. “Well you should like them“.

It seemed that if I wanted to be accepted in the world, I had to relinquish my grasp of seventies prog and, at that stage, eighties goth and embrace the modern musical age welcomingly by liking The Pixies. So I went to the Virgin Megastore (HMV was and is shit for music like this) and picked myself a copy of the Pixies’ greatest hits.

And this is said album. I know I should like them. But I don’t. I like two songs on their greatest hits, Debaser and Monkey Gone to Heaven. I should like more of their work. I don’t. I am a failure when it comes to being a hipster it seems.

 

 

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Crooked – Kristin Hersh [#326]

Crooked - Kristin HershYou might know Hersh as either half-sister to Tanya Donnelly or lead singer of Throwing Muses. However, Kristin Hersh came into my life through the Uncut: 4AD compilation album and her song Your Ghost. I was later to hear her first solo album Hips and Makers from which the song came but was not too impressed.

Years passed but I still enjoyed Your Ghost. Then along came Learn to Sing Like a Star. Wow what a difference! Like a fine wine or a port or single malt whisky, Hersh had matured. So when I saw Crooked I had to get it.

Crooked is Hersh’s eighth studio album and she plays and sings with a rich style and many of the songs on this album can be heard on the previously project featured live album Cats and MiceWorth a listen.

 

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Creatures – Clan of Xymox [#320]

Creatures - Clan of XymoxI’ve always been the kind of person that really digs a peculiar name.

When Clan of Xymox appeared on the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.goth newsgroup back in the noughties I couldn’t resist. Peculiar name. Bound to be excellent.

While such a tactic is destined to end with megabytes of dirge, it turned out not to be the case with this album. Firstly it turned out that Clan of Xymox were originally signed to 4AD. Secondly, Creatures was the band’s 8th studio album and it appeared that they had many many more. Guess what I did? Yep, I downloaded their entire catalogue.

Fortunately, I now only have three Xymox albums. This is the first and probably my most favourite of all Xymox albums. Goth/Darkwave in tone with lots of that guitar sound I really like.

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Blood – This Mortal Coil – (#200)

Blood - This Mortal CoilBlood – This Mortal Coil 

Back to the 4AD stable and this time with Ivo Watt’s This Mortal Coil (TMC) project.  This album appeared on many coffee tables in the 1990s until it was buried under more mature offerings by similar bands, kebab wrappers and copies of X-Files magazines. To be forgotten about until discovered once more and consigned to the “Oxfam” box.

Blood is TMCs difficult second album. There are a few good tracks where the original lineups sound demonstrated in It’ll End in Tears  is almost replicated but I think by the time you get to track 15 it’s getting a bit tiresome.

TMC take some obscure masterpieces from forgotten artists and albums like Spirit, Ray Harper and Chris Bell and give it the ethereal gothy shoegazer treatment. Crafting an album so full of mournfulness that even the person on the album cover feels sorry.

Don’t get me wrong though, this is not a bad album and it is still better than the third TMC attempt,  Filigree and Shadow. But unless you’ve come to TMC as a fanboy, hipster or wanting to feel a bit morose, then Blood is probably not your cup of bitter tears.

 

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Black Sessions – Cocteau Twins (#195)

Black Sessions - Cocteau Twins Black Sessions – Cocteau Twins 

More haunting ethereal songs, this time from the Scottish masters of the genre – Cocteau Twins.

During the height of the ethereal genre and 4AD’s dominance of new wave music, the Cocteau Twins were the band that was synonymous with the genre. Liz Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie seeded the 1990s with their unique sound and, quite often, featured on television and film soundtracks.

Of course I wasn’t much of a fan. I’m still not. But having heard them not only on the Uncut: 4AD compilation  and the soundtrack for the film Lost Highway I was intregued to find out more. So I did my usual thing of downloading all their back catalogue. Over time I’ve deleted many of the albums I had, purely because their works are too similar. Those that remain feature only the songs that I like. Black Sessions is a live recording of the band when the were featured on the French radio station France Inter. I kept this in hope that I might become more enamoured with the band. I didn’t.

So for that reason, I can never be a hipster.

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#134 – Beautiful Creature & Juliana’s Pony: Total System Failure – Juliana Hatfield

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 12.37.42Beautiful Creature & Juliana’s Pony: Total System Failure – Juliana Hatfield

I have always been fascinated by how the bands and artists I like are all interconnected somehow, even though the apparent connections may not be immediately apparent to me.

The Tubes and Chris Isaak or Yes, Vangelis and Mike Oldfield or  Juliana Hatfield, Tanya Donelly and Kristin Hersh for example.

All interconnected either by artistic merit or close personal links to each other. And yet each of these bands and artists I have discovered for myself independently of their connections.

I became aware of Juliana Hatfield when she was part of Ivo Watt’s This Mortal Coil project in the 1990s. Though not really paying attention to who was who, it transpired that my favourite song from the 4AD showcase album Uncut: 4AD (to be featured much later in this project), You & Your Sister, was a duet with Tanya “Belly” Donelly and  Juliana Hatfield. Wow! Especially as I already really liked Tanya Donelly.

Anyway, Beautiful Creature appears here as a joint album with Juliana’s Pony: Total System Failure. No idea why. It just is that way in my collection. Two separate albums combined and presented as one. It has a distinct Belly-esque sound. Angry women with guitars. The stuff Avril Lavigne turned into sickly sweet teen angst more successfully than slightly miffed Generation Xers.

 

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Attagirl – Bettie Serveert [#105]

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 16.30.25Attagirl by Bettie Serveert

Back in the dark days of the 1990s I was introduced to the 4AD record label by way of a free CD on the cover of a magazine. Over time on the back of this, I developed a taste for all things 4AD. One of the many artists signed to 4AD was Bettie Serveert.

This is the first in three Serveert albums I have. To be honest, I’m not a massive fan, it’s just nice music to have. One of those musicians that don’t seem to have a large fan base in the UK. However, just think Suzanne Vega with a croakier voice and you’ll get the idea.

 

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Music Project – Album #6: 4AD Presents…

4AD Presents the 13 Year Itch by Various Artists

This is the first of many compilation albums and the first of several sampler albums that I’ve collected over the years.

I’ve been a huge fan of Ivo Watt’s 4AD label since the early nineties. Watt’s distinctive production reverberates throughout all the artists borne from the 4AD stable. Throwing Muses, Belly, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Department of Eagles…they’re all 4AD bands. What is unusual is that I was unaware at the time that the vast majority of them were 4AD artists. Indeed, at the time I was buying CDs and it was only in about 1991 that I actually started to pay attention to the studio and record label. So when the download frenzy of the last decade began I eagerly sucked every album I could from the 4AD label.

It was interesting at the time because I found it difficult to get most of the stuff I wanted legally due to licensing and limited editions. I would look full of whist at the catalogues and try to imagine what the songs sounded like. When I gained super fast broadband I was able to source the actual tracks and, no, I wasn’t disappointed.

13 year Itch  is a compilation sampler of the bands that were available in 1993. It starts with a rousing dose of shoe gazing with Lush’s Desire Lines, passing by The Breeders brooding about the Invisible Man and heading briefly into shady Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) territory (Perry performs a cover of Tim Buckley’s Happy Time) before nose diving into the This Is the Way, Part 2 climax with Ultra Vivid Scene. The zeitgeist of the 90s lives on through these artists and the 4AD label . If I was to relive my youth, I would want this to be the soundtrack. I would want to be a little older and better off than I was. I would also want to be hanging round with moody gothesque shoe gazers, talking about the impending doom of the approaching millennium, whilst sitting in bed sitting rooms that stink of Patchouli, joss sticks and couscous.

Wait…

I did.

I just described my early 20’s.

Sadly this album wasn’t playing.

If I was to do it again. I would expect it to be playing on my Sony Walkman or at least on my Sony CD player.

If you’re interested in 4AD this is the second best compilation sampler to get hold of. The first is the Uncut freeby, which I will probably review sometime in the next year.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/4ad-presents-the-13-year-itch-mw0001811485

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