A new EP by Alberteen will be released this Monday on the Rhythm & Noir label. Dead Language features the title song plus three remixes of “Dead Language”, including two remixes done bt Andrew Poppy. Anyone who wants to hear the type of pop coming out of England as of late can begin here.
My love of the first phase of Zang Tuum Tumb Records is strong, so while it saddens me I will not be able to see and witness this in person, I hope this will be recorded in an audio and visual manner for future observances.
Art Of Noise’s 1983 Into Battle EP (which I honored a few weeks ago as part of my Dust It Off column) will be “stripped bare and transformed into a defiantly non-electronic orchestral suite”, which means every sound heard on the EP will be recreated live by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conduced by Richard Balcombe. That means every drum, every “doh doh duuuuuuuuuuh”, every “yenom”, every orchestral burst, every “tra la la”, every “BRIGHT…NOISE” will be done live. The presentation, called 19eighties, is being called a “one-off documentary soundtrack to the decade you either love, or love to hate, presented as part of The Rest Is Noise, the Southbank Centre’s year-long festival exploring the sound of the 20th century through talks, debates and films and concerts.” Scheduled to appear at the performance: Art Of Noise’s Paul Morley and Anne Dudley.
Also scheduled for this performance will be the BBC Concert Orchestra performing Andrew Poppy’s complex “32 Frames For Orchestra”, which should be incredible. It would be great if Poppy, and perhaps AoN’s Dudley, did “Cadenza” as an encore. If I were at this performance and they did this song, I think my mind would blow up.
“Special guests” are going to show up but who exactly are these guests are uncertain, or at least publicly uncertain. 19eighties is happening at the Southbank Centre on November 30th at 7:30pm. Click here for ticket information.
While Andrew Poppy has never been a dance artist, his close connection with the Zang Tuum Tumb empire in the 1980’s allowed him the kind of freedom that usually doesn’t come with artists who mix minimalism and classical influences. Shiny Floor Shiny Ceiling (Field Radio) is the latest effort from Poppy that is a continuation of the type of collaborations he has done over the years, showing hints of his ZTT past while creating sounds that drive him to create the music he makes today. Vocalist Claudia Brücken (Propaganda, Act) shines in her track “Dark Spell”, sounding better than she ever has before. This is the kind of track that would never be a hit in the U.S. but in the UK, it would surprise a lot of Americans if taken and embraced as a song worth celebrating in a grand manner.
The theme of the album is that we are hearing the words and sounds of “unconfirmed ghosts and pessoahs”, so is the listener to believe that these sounds are created by ghosts currently unseen, or that he has created fictitious characters as a means to give his works responsibility to someone other than himself? If so, are we also hearing the stories of these characters, and why they exist? The liberetto in the CD booklet tell the story, with various vocalists including Bernardo Devlin, Lula Pena, Guillermo Rozenthuler, Margaret Cameron, and James Gilchrist sharing their voices and “stories” into the story. Poppy himself holds things together as “The Wave”, the constant means of continuity that helps the listener realize who is saying what, but reaching the realization of who is the true voice of these compositions, the ultimate conclusion. While the general theme is serious in tone, there are hints of humor and sarcasm throughout, especially with the simple task that Poppy asks for in the final words heard on the album.
Shiny Floor Shiny Ceiling may make you wonder about the room one puts themselves in upon listening, and maybe it’s less about the room, and more about why we create it in the fashion that we do. It’s an interesting concept from Poppy that brings in different influences, in a way that would make this unparalleled in a mainstream manner. Then again, what the mainstream doesn’t know of or understand will come back one day. Some day. For those who do understand or are willing to take the risk, you will be rewarded.
The first time I heard of Andrew Poppy was in the mid-1980’s, when I was absorbing and collecting anything and everything that was Zang Tuum Tumb. Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise, Propaganda, das psych oh rangers, Anne Pigalle, all of it. Then came The Beating Of Wings (or The Cheating Of Things or The Seating Of Kings, depending on how you looked at the album cover equation). At the same time I was becoming more familiar with Frank Zappa’s works and that was the closest thing I had to classical music stepping out of the classical norm. This was adventurous and while I had no idea at the time what to call it, I found myself loving it. “32 Frames For Orchestra” seemed to be a piece that could go on and on, the mixture of 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures in “Listening In” was incredible, and “Cadenza” was brilliant as it seemed to be focused on a musical phrase that would slowly peel itself until it placed a focus on a singular note. Over time I found myself liking certain styles of music for different music, be it jazz, progressive rock, or hip-hop, and would later discover that the drones I admired and what some would call monotonous was called minimalism. When I started exploring the music of Terry Riley, I got into his composition “In C”, which lead to me discovering that Poppy’s “Cadenza” was in honor of Riley and “In C”. It made me appreciate The Beating Of Wings and his other works even more.
Poppy will be releasing an album on the 27th of November called Shiny Floor Shiny Ceiling (Field Radio), and for this he has collaborated with Claudia Brücken, James Gilchrist, Guillermo Rozenthuler, Margaret Cameron, Lula Pena and Bernardo Devlin, which means the album is a mixture of music and voices, and before the album is released, Poppy will be doing a three-night stand at the Jackson Lane Theatre in London from November 8-10th, highlighting the new release.
A review of Shiny Floor Shiny Ceiling is forthcoming.
There are many, including myself, who feel that what the ZTT collective of producers and artists did was to show listeners and fans the possibilities of “the strange world of the 12 inch”, or what one can do with an extended version of the song within the context of the ingredients in the soup called a song. If you made any attempt in collecting some level of output from ZTT, you know how thorough and costly it was to simply listen to everything. You had the 7″, the 12″, the cassingle, the alternate 12″, maybe a third alternate, then you heard there was a white label promo, and that there were two different white label promos, and when the compact disc single came to light, you had to add to that. Then when ZTT released compilations describing their process, it almost feels like there were infinite mixes, remixes, and alternate takes of almost everything. Thus, that’s what makes The Art Of The 12″ a fun listen.
What you’ll hear on Volume Two is a mixture of the known and the unknown. For me, my focus has always been Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise and Propaganda, and they are represented well here. The “keep the peace” mix of “Two Tribes” is basically a compilation mix/edit piece of various remixes of the song, including Carnard, Annihilation, and Hibakusha. This “keep the peace” mix found itself on the cassingle for “Two Tribes”, but makes a nice digital presence here. If you were a fan of their cover of Edwin Starr‘s “War”, you’ll get to hear the song here, but now present as a previously-unreleased “coming out of hiding” mix. Also previously unreleased is the “Man As A Sense For The Discovery Of Beauty, Part I” mix of “Relax”. Yes, yet another mix of the almighty “Relax”, and this one begins with an element you could originally find on the cassingle of “The Power Of Love”, before hearing the Ronald Reagan impersonator from mixes of “War” revealing dialogue that in itself is previously unreleased. In a way, it becomes a hybrid of “Relax” to “Two Tribes” to “War”, and the struggle one perhaps creates as they make their way to a pleasure dome.
Propaganda are represented here with two mixes of “Dr. Mabuse” and a 12″ mix of “Sorry For Laughing”, a song that, along with the liner notes from Ian Peel, I felt should have been released as a proper single.
Art Of Noise fans are treated well here, and it shows that even with compilations and a mighty box set to their name, there’s still some music that was left unheard. While it is known that Art Of Noise had done a remix for Paul McCartney‘s “Spies Like Us”, the released 12″ version (called “(Alternative Mix-Known To His Friends As ‘Tom'”) was decent but is put to dust with the proper “Art Of Noise Remix”. In this mix, you’ll hear elements from the “Alternative Mix” but this is the one that should’ve been released. It’s more funky, more out there, and the AoN sense of continuity is here when you hear various sampled elements of what you may have heard in Malcolm McLaren songs. Also here are the much rumored, much discussed 808 State remixes of “Moments In Love”, and they appear here in two different mixes. You also have the “Close Up” mix of “Close (To The Edit)” along with my favorite, “Close Up (Hop)”, complete with samples of the pu’ili.
Also on the album are mixes of songs by Anne Pigalle, Instinct, Nasty Rox Inc., and Mint Juleps, and together they show the kind of creativity, courage, power, strength, and lengths these artists, producers, and remix engineers did in order to stretch the limits of the limited perceptions of music. People weren’t just buying ZTT records for the phenomenon, people were listening to questions, answers, solutions, and new journeys.
Peel’s liner notes reveal the kind of information that will hopefully turn up a Volume Three someday, or at least the release of certain mixes of songs that I was not aware existed. Yes, there was art in creating mixes for 12″ singles, and in every 12″ single there was art. This can be considered excavation of sound rubble, and only those who know and understand the hazards of the excavation will bother going in. It’s a lesson for anyone who loves the art of the remix. It certainly wasn’t Diddy who invented it, and to their credit it wasn’t ZTT Records who came up with it either, but with the information on how to recreate from what was created, it was a chance (or a dance) to see what could be produced from the already-produced. It’s a bit like looking at a plant and realize you are able to grow more plants. It seems like an endless journey, but I hope this journey will continue for awhile. The music hear sounds as youthful as it did when they were recorded, and hopefully will provide zest to a new generation of music creators who will learn vastly from the lessons on these two discs.