The fascination continues. Over the last few weeks our Picks series has documented all sorts of musical constellations; its sources in marginalised queer communities, its emotional resances, the minds it melts and the journeys it facilitates. But today we go right back to the source, the moment when sound gets tasty and we get curious. Our host is Mancunian Loose Lips writer Martin Guttridge-Hewitt, whose Record Store Days interview/feature series has explored some of the sites of this match-striking (see his most recent Chicago exploration here). As always all Spotifyable tracks are here, take it away...
There’s no telling when it will happen, but you can usually write-off anything else that day or week when it does. Depending on how deep the rabbit hole goes.
This playlist has been inspired by those moments when a single track catalyses extended digging missions into the deepest corners of stuff you should have already heard. Some are certified bangers, others heartbreaking acoustic ditties. Most are a little trippy, and each has acted as a gateway to new genres, labels and artists at some point in the last 36 years (well, more like 25).
Digressions aside, and without further ado, here they are in no discernible order…
After Big Star disbanded Alex Chilton spent 40 years jamming, session-ing, and collaborating with tons of people, earning a reputation for guitar excellence and building this massive archive of bits and bobs, while never gaining the level of recognition he clearly deserved but didn’t seem to want. This ode to the loneliness of rock ’n’ roll, recorded at an intimate New York gig, is among his quietest and most beautifully tragic.
The whole idea behind Back To Mine compilations is gateway drug music — a broad and personal selection that introduces people to tracks they may not have otherwise found. Dr. John’s opiate grizzle has featured on a few. The New Orleans maestro mixes traditional sticky heat with sleazy surrealism, which isn’t surprising given his voodoo influences, and the fact he ‘borrowed’ his stage name from a Senegalese spiritual healer.
Fresh voice, productions that speak to genre nostalgists. Yugen Blakrok’s love for political and spiritual hip hop, combined with effortless flow and a penchant for hypnotic, dark, spatial instrumentals are what stands out. But like any good MC she’s surrounded by a crew of affiliates and collaborators who give an insight into just how fertile this end of South Africa’s scene is.
Yorkshire-born, Manchester-based producer and MC, Iceboy Violet is difficult to describe, and this deeply textured, experimental grime is just one part of the puzzle. As are recurrent themes like gender, capitalist structures and mental health. And there’s plenty more to think about, not least a host of stunning ambient productions and the whole Mutualism imprint they co-founded.
Silver Apples are hypnotic and hallucinatory, to put it mildly. Most geekily, though, they are also widely credited with pioneering electronic music techniques outside of academic study, with this track made in 1968. One half of the original duo, drummer Danny Taylor, passed away in 2005, but Simeon Oliver Coxe III would tour solo with handmade synth for another 11 years. He died in September 2020, aged 82.
One of the most important conversations in dance music this year was about whitewashing and the racist systems running the show. Despite this, the world’s eye remains largely focused on the US-European theatre, so Todh Teri’s rising status is refreshing to see. Apparently raised in the Himalayan foothills and inspired by Indian cinema as much as disco, when you’re done with this his Deep In India series is a must.
Elektro Guzzi are well worth catching live, if we ever get to a gig again. They make actual instrumentation sound machine-made-tight, occupying this crazy space between jazz, techno and dubstep that’s as captivating as it is complex. If this even remotely appeals look into drummer Bernhard Breuer, whose Discogs page alone lists membership of a further seven groups, all worth a look.
A chance stomp-off to technoist MIIIA at a small festival stage isn’t the only evidence her Shanghai base is exploding with boundary-pushing noises far removed from the highly visible Chinese EDM juggernaut. It would have been more appropriate to use a full set, but as this was released by a Berlin-based ‘performance arts humanist community’, Kepler 452b, you get a more vivid picture of the circles she moves in.
Torino’s Opilec Music makes a habit of re-editing gems because the boss loves an obscure track or artist, so it can be a great label for discovering what you normally might miss. As was the case with 1970s San Francisco synth punks The Units. The imprint released so many new versions of the band’s near-unknown work it covered three CDs and a further 15 downloadable tracks in the first release, this beast among them.
After heavy metal and hip hop, hardcore was the earliest music love, and the first mixtape that really made an impact was Slipmatt from Galactic in 1996 — recorded at Pawlett Manor; basically an old pub in Somerset. Blow Out Pt. II was an absolute gem then and is even more treasured today. Euphoria, melancholy and energy with maximum emotional impact, cue chasing the same high for the next 25 years.