SOME STUFFS: Andrew Poppy to release new album, followed by a three-night concert series in London

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.

SOME STUFFS: New Frankie Goes To Hollywood compilation on its way

The casual fan may look at this and go “wait a minute. These guys only had one hit, and this is not the first greatest hits album they’ve had.” That casual fan would be correct, but when it comes to anything that is Frankie Goes To Hollwyood and Zang Tuum Tumb-related, one song can lead to many variables. The group actually released a few singles, and Frankie Says features the well known tracks but in different mixes, including a few that make their long awaited digital debut.

1. Two Tribes (introduced via the piano of Anne Dudley)
2. The Power of Love
3. Relax (the last seven inches)
4. Two Tribes (we don’t want to die)
5. War!
6. Welcome to the Pleasuredome (a remade world)
7. Ferry Cross The Mersey (and here I’ll stay)
8. Rage Hard (Bob K remix)
9. Watching the Wildlife
10. Born to Run (live on The Tube)
11. Warriors of the Wasteland (attack) seven inch
12. Kill the Pain
13. Maximum Joy
14. Two Tribes (annihilation) twelve inch
15. Relax (New York) twelve inch
16. The Power of Love (…best listened to by lovers)

The cover photo of the band was shot by Anton Corbijn, taken during the cover shoot for different “Warriors Of The Wasteland” 12″ singles (this photo was seen, in part, on the “Attack” version of the single (I always liked the photos used for the “Turn Of The Knife” 12″.) Frankie Said is scheduled for release on October 30th.

SOME STUFFS: New Frankie Goes To Hollywood compilation to come…in August

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

For the casual fan, it might seem odd that there is yet another Frankie Goes To Hollywood compilation CD, or in this case a double CD. “Aren’t deluxe editions enough?” might be a question that comes up. Considering how many mixes were created for their songs, it seems the possibilities are almost endless, and fortunately for fans of FGTH and the Zang Tumb Tuum happy camp, there’s still a good amount of music left.

The subtitle of Sex Mix is Archive Tapes and Studio Adventures, Volume One, which if the title is any indication, there will be at least another set in store sometime in the future. For this new one, scheduled for release on the 6th of August, the focus is on mixes found on their cassingles and CD singles, which were different from those mixes found on vinyl. FGTH fans (like myself) sought after the cassingles (or what they call a “singlette”) because the programs on each one were different, it often had liner notes unique to the format, and it made for a completely different listening experience from what you’d buy on vinyl. Here is the official track listing:

Disc 1

Happy Hi! (All in the Body)
Welcome to the Pleasuredome (The Soundtrack from Bernard Rose’s Video)
Get It On (Long Version)
Welcome to the Pleasuredome (How to Remake the World)
Happy Hi! (All in the Mind)
Relax (International)
The Power of Love (Extended Singlette Version)
The World is My Oyster (Trapped)
Holier Than Thou (FGTH’s Christmas Message)
The World is My Oyster (Scrapped)
Holier Than Thou (further festive messaging)
The Power of Love (Instrumental Singlette Version)
The World is My Oyster (at its full length)
Don’t Lose What’s Left
Rage Hard + ++ *

Disc 2
Relax (Sex Mix)
Later On (from One September Monday)
Ferry Cross The Mersey (…and here I’ll stay)
Two Tribes (Keep the Peace – Intro)
One February Friday (Singlette Version Part 1)
Two Tribes (Carnage)
One February Friday (Singlette Version Part 2)
War (somewhere between Hiding and Hidden)
One February Friday (Singlette Version Part 3)
Two Tribes (Keep the Peace – Outro)
Warriors of the Wasteland (Compacted)
Do You Think I’m Sexy?
Watching the Wildlife (Voiceless)

After seeing this, what could a Volume 2 consist of? At this point, who knows. There are still a few mixes that have not been officially released by ZTT but can be found in bootleg form. No matter, Sex Mix is sure to satisfy the FGTH/ZTT fanatics out there who must have every variation of their favorite songs.

REVIEW: Propaganda’s “Wishful Thinking” (Deluxe Edition)”

Photobucket Once upon a time there was a group called Propaganda

It might seem odd for people outside of the UK and Europe, but Propaganda had hits, and decent hits at that: “Dr. Mabuse”, and “Duel”, and “P-Machinery” were their first three. They may have been barely a footnote for most Americans when it comes to the discussion of 80’s music, but for fans of the Zang Tuum Tumb Empire and the productions of Trevor Horn and Steven Lipson, Propaganda were an important group whose music made an impact on those who chose to “dream within a dream”, and this album represented that. It is a remix album that also served as an alternative perspective to a greatest hits package, something that most artists at the time did not do, at least not until a few more years. The mixes here of their three hits were exclusive to this album, so if you want to hear “Dr. Mabuse”, you could listen to the two-part “Abuse”. If you want “P-Machinery”, you could check out the twists in “Machined”. Or if you liked the “Duel”/”Jewel” single, you could see how it would be blended with “Jewelled”. One of my favorite moments of this mix is in the last chorus where Claudia Brucken‘s screamed vocals of “Jewel” eventually joins and collides with the silkiness of her singing from “Duel” before it comes to an end.

Artists like Bobby Brown and Jody Watley would eventually have remix albums created in their honor, featuring dance mixes you could find on their respective 12″ singles/maxi-cassingles, but Wishful Thinking featured remixes made exclusively for that album. The great thing about synth/dance pop is that even if these mixes were not the single versions, one could enjoy them so you could take an excursion through these songs, remixed so you could hear elements not in the hit, album, remixes, or alternate mixes. It was an additional to the additional. Then as bonuses, you could hear isolated bits from different songs. These isolated segments would be perfect for the DJ’s who would play this material, and today for bedroom producers/remixers to create their own megamixes.

The original Wishful Thinking was just under 40 minutes, but this Deluxe Edition features different mixes and outtakes of songs from the early Propaganda era, including outtakes of “Strength To Dream” and “Dr. Mabuse”, along with celebrated remixes of “P-Machinery” (the respected Beta mix) and instrumentals. There’s now a total of 74 minutes of music here.

If one ever had the balls to ask “how in the hell can you create a greatest hits album from a group who only had/released three singles, Wishful Thinking would be a possible answer. Yes it’s a remix album that doubles as a greatest hits album. Not a mere EP, but a full album that can honestly be experienced as a full album. It may not have the same feel or context as A Secret Wish, but within the realm of Propaganda and ZTT, as a voice said in a remix of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s “Rage Hard”, “anything can happen”.

For those outside of Europe who may only know of Propaganda as a mere footnote, this is the perfect place to start to discover what they created. It’s music, it’s exploitation, it’s temptation, it’s tomfoolery, it’s powerful, it’s egotistical, it’s sensational, and it was something quite moving. They also made songs that still drive people crazy because of how emotional Brucken’s voice is, singing lyrics that are powerful now as they were when this was originally released.

REVIEW: “The Art Of The 12″, Volume Two”

Photobucket The Zang Tuum Tumb empire has dug through the virtual vaults to put together the second volume of The Art Of The 12″ compilation series (ZTT/Salvo).

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.

SOME STUFFS: ZTT Records to release second installment of “The Art Of The 12″” compilation series

The purveyors of the 12 inch, the extended remix? While there are many possible answers, somehow it all leads back to the Zed. That is ZTT, or Zee-T-T for us Americans, which of course stands for Zang Tuum Tumb, the mightiest of all almighty record labels. ZTT had released The Art Of The 12″ compilation last year, merely dipping in to touch some of the great remixers the labels had released in its history. They’re about to do it again with The Art Of The 12″, Volume Two, subtitled A Revelation of the Extended Remix and this one is looking even sweeter than the first.

The new collection will be a 2 CD collection, featuring tracks released by ZTT, previously-unreleased-but-highly-discussed mixes, along with items that have been items of desire for ZTT-afficionados for years. They include:

  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s “Two Tribes (keep the peace)” (15 minute mix)
  • Art Of Noise‘s “Moments In Love (Parts 1 & 2)” (remixed by 808 State‘s Graham Massey
  • Propaganda‘s “Dr Mabuse Der Spieler”
  • Paul McCartney‘s “Spies Like Us (12” remix by Art Of Noise) (press release states this one is previously released, so not sure if this means it’s a different version than the one on the “Spies Like Us” 12 single)
  • Godley & Creme‘s “Cry” (Trevor Horn‘s 12″ remix, previously unreleased on CD)
  • Scritti Politti‘s “Absolute” (a dub mix by Art of Noise’s Gary Langan)

    ZTT have been digging deep into their vaults for what seems like a wealth of riches, but in truth shows how much of today’s music they’ve influenced. As long as the goods are there, why not keep their history and legacy alive? The Art Of The 12″, Volume Two will be released on the 20th of February.

  • VIDEO: Red Bull Music Academy lecture: Trevor Horn (Madrid 2011)

    Lecture: Trevor Horn (Madrid 2011) – Part 1 from Red Bull Music Academy on Vimeo.

    Lecture: Trevor Horn (Madrid 2011) – Part 2 from Red Bull Music Academy on Vimeo.

    Someone discussed this in my Twitter timeline, and I had to share this with people. An incredible lecture with legendary producer Trevor Horn, getting deep about much of his work, including some talk about the work he and his production theam (a/k/a Art Of Noise) did for Malcolm McLaren‘s Duck Rock.

    RECORD CRACK: P.S. I Love You – Propaganda’s “Duel”

    As an avid fan of the Zang Tuum Tumb (ZTT) empire, I enjoyed obtaining anything and (almost) everything the label released from 1983 to about 1987. One of the primary groups of ZTT’s early days was Propaganda, and sadly they did not make a major or minor dent in the United States, despite the fact that they made some incredible music.

    “Duel” was the second single by the group, and the first single to be released in the U.S. on ZTT/Island. The painting was done by photographer Anton Corbijn, while the photo of vocalist Claudia Brücken was shot by David Levine. If you bought the 12″, it would feature vocalist Susanne Freytag in an equal photo of rage. Two sexy women getting angry? Awesome. As a Corbijn fan and a huge fan of how ZTT designed their covers, this just worked for me. Plus, when you bought the record, you could hear the calm synthpop of “Duel”, flip the record over and then year the much angrier take of the same song, but called “Jewel”.

    The group would go on to release a few more singles (including “P-Machinery”) but outside of “Dr. Mabuse” being used during the intro to the film Some Kind Of Wonderful and “Duel” being used in mid-1980’s promos, Propaganda’s impact in North America was close to non-existent. Brücken would move on with a number of other projects and do work under her own name, but for me, it goes back to the glory of “Duel”.

    SOME STUFFS/RECORD CRACK: Art Of Noise “Into Battle” gets deluxe treatment

    What started out as nothing more than borrowed bursts of other people’s sounds mixed in with a few classical touches turned into something its creators probably did not expect. Okay, maybe Paul Morley had a sense of the perfection, but other than that inner circle that was Morley, Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik, and Gary Langan, no one else could have predicted the after effects of the first release on a silly-sounding label called Zang Tuum Tumb. It was an EP called Into Battle, released under the name Art Of Noise. The group consisted of a producer, his 3-piece production “theme”, and a silent musician who didn’t actually play any of their music, but was the group’s “hype machine”. He played a very important role in not only how the “group” were perceived, but how they’d like to be heard. Their music was a huge influence on what I wanted to do as a producer, and as for that manipulated perceptions in text form, I loved it.

    Into Battle ended up being called “the blackest white music ever made” to “one of the most influential records of the 1980’s”, even though there were only two proper songs on there, the solid “Beat Box” and the anthemic romance of “Moments In Love”. Nonetheless, “Beat Box” would become an underground sensation without getting any mainstream airplay, to where it reached as high as #2 on a dance music chart in Seattle. As the legend goes, Kool DJ Red Alert played it on his radio show and while people had no idea what the sounds were, it would become a track that would impact what breakdancers and poppers would be doing on pieces of cardboard. Keep in mind that in 1983, rap music still sounded like its soul and disco predecessors, with little of the abrasiveness it would become known for from 1985 on. With a surprise embrace of “Beat Box” by a young hip-hop community, and how “Moments In Love” would become a surprise love jam for a generation, Art Of Noise found itself reaching places that were not expected, not bad for a group who were doing this while waiting for the guys in Yes to get their shit together. Or so the story goes.

    28 years after the release of Into Battle, ZTT will be releasing a deluxe edition version of the EP with the previously unreleased album Worship, which is said to be a musical link between Into Battle and what would become 1984’s (Who’s Afraid Of) The Art Of Noise). If you picked up the Art Of Noise box set And What Have You Done With My Body God, you’ll know that the group kept a constant archive of everything they recorded, even if what was left was a few rough drafts and sketches. Now fans will be able to hear an album that never materialized to the general public.

    The new deluxe edition, completely remastered from the original master tapes, has been released as a 2CD set and in time for this year’s Record Store Day, a double LP on blue vinyl. While UK and US vinyl pressings of the original 1983 can easily be found these days, this new blue vinyl pressing is sure to be quickly snatched up, so if you find it, buy it.

    REVIEW: Propaganda’s “A Secret Wish (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)”

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic In the 80’s, when I wanted a Zang Tuum Tumb tattoo, drew ZTT logos all over my portfolios and wished to be in England in the summertime with my love (HEY!), I became a huge fan of the German group Propaganda. I’m not sure if it had to do with them being German, but I loved Kraftwerk and Accept so maybe it wasn’t much of an issue. However, their music seemed to be a bit more dark and melancholy than some of the British pop going on at the time. But looking back, I think much of what I was hearing from England in the 80’s came from MTV, back when the former-music network was showing a ride range of sounds. While Propaganda didn’t get a lot of airtime in the U.S., it was the idea of them being “something that should be more popular” that kept me listening. A Secret Wish was an album that seemed a bit more sophisticated compared to the random-yet-carefully-selected sounds of Art Of Noise and the deliberate sexual overtones of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. As a teen, maybe that made an impression on me, that something so dark and melancholy could also be sensual. Maybe that’s me.

    25 years later, ZTT/Salvo have reissued the album as a special 2CD Deluxe Edition, and if you were ever someone that made attempts to collect ZTT’s vast discography, you’re going to enjoy what’s on here. Not only do you get the original A Secret Wish album in full, but you also have a number of remixes and “revisions”, some unreleased remixes, and even the original program that was on the “Duel”/”Jewel” cassingle. At least for me in the U.S., the cassingles were hard to come buy after their initial release, so hearing the 20 minute “Do Well” (which utilizes “The First Cut”, “Duel”, “Jewel (Cut Rough)”, Wonder”, and “Bejeweled” is a trip.

    Not surprisingly, all of these songs hold up incredibly well 25 years later, especially “p-Machinery” with its massive wall of synths and the underrated “Sorry For Laughing”, and to hear Claudia Brucken speak in “Dream Within A Dream” and “The Last Word (Strength To Dream)” brings me back to a time when I was dreaming for bigger and better, and to find a way to live out my dreams.

    The booklet will be a treat for liner note junkies, designed in typical ZTT fashion with loads of classic photos used throughout the years on album and 12″ single covers, and with that Anton Corbijn eye for things that I came to know and love. It would be nice if some of these songs were covered by today’s artists, and maybe it will come around again in another 25 years. In that time, that could be 25 years of Propaganda appreciation, which would not be a bad thing at all. This deluxe edition has me on my knees, but years later, I now need assistance to get me back on my feet.