Music Diary 2012 – Monday

I started off this morning reading about the eventual long overdue release of the My Bloody Valentine remasters. I pre-ordered the set from amazon a month back but decided to cancel my order at the last minute (too late it seems, they’ve now been shipped) and hold out for a vinyl release, though I’ll probably pick up the CD’s in the long run, such are the absurdities of petty fandom. Despite having ‘Loveless’ on my mind I kicked off the day listening to another touchstone of early 90’s shoegaze Slowdive – Just For A Day. Although my introduction to the band was their often favoured second album ‘Souvlaki’ and it was their third and final LP ‘Pygmalion’, with its proto-Post-Rock ambiance, sounding like a British take on Labradford, that made me mildly obsessed with them. Nonetheless it’s their debut and the visionary EP’s that frame it that I find myself returning to most often thse days. Avalyn in particular. 

Slowdive – Just For A Day (Spotify) – Headphones

Seeing their name next to Slowdive in the related artist section of Spotify resulted in me listening to a batch of my favourite songs from 4AD slowcore stalwarts the Red House Painters and their forever twinned sophomore releases Bridge and Rollercoaster. I’d guess I’ve spend the vast majority of my time listening to Red House Painters lying in bed and this morning was no different as I closed my eyes and ran through ‘Katy Song’, both versions of ‘New Jersey’ and ‘Mistress’, ‘I Am A Rock’ and ‘Helicopter’. As much as I love the rest of Red House Painters discography and Sun Kil Moon’s first releases it’s those two sepia toned pinnacles of gloom I love the best.

Red House Painters (Spotify) – Headphones

After going out to play badminton I came home and soaked my tired bones in the bath with the abstract experimental electronica of Actress’ latest album ‘R.I.P’ playing in the background. I picked it up on vinyl on Sunday on account of the all  positive press its had and after a couple of spins I’m still entirely unsure how I feel about it. I’m don’t know how much I actually like it but I do find it strangely compelling, similar to the way I felt about Oneohtrix Point Never’s last album. I enjoyed ‘R.I.P’ more after I turned it down a few notches on the volume dial, a la Eno’s Ambient 1 recommended levels. As the album blended in with the creaks of the boiler and the crows cawing outside it had a stronger effect. From that perspective ‘Shadows from Tartarus’ sounded like a car radio blasting out Dizzy Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ somewhere in the distance while I listened to Board of Canada real low.

Actress – R.I.P (lossless) – Sonos

I then had a wee nap and listed to Pan American – White Bird Release. A go-to drift album for me.

Pan American – White Bird Release (lossless) – Sonos

Moving through to the main listening system in the living room I finally listened to some My Bloody Valentine. First up the first half-dozen tracks from ‘Isn’t Anything’ (remember when the used to be a normal band?) then a few tracks from the EPs (‘You Made Me Realise’ I find both therapeutic and traumatic after seeing them roar out the middle section for a what-seemed-like-forever 20 minutes when I saw them live a few years ago) before listening to that eternal touchstone of bliss that is ‘Loveless’ in its entirety. I opted for disc 2, the analogue half speed remaster, and it sounded incredible. The sound stage is wider than the original CD and vinyl releases and I genuinely felt I heard parts that had been otherwise obscured on pretty much every song. Vocals seemed more defined and I actually think I caught a few words for the first time.

My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything (lossless) – Hi-Fi

My Bloody Valentine – EP’s 1988 – 1991 (lossless) – Hi-Fi

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (lossless) – Hi-Fi

A pleasant surprise this morning was the out-of-nowhere release of two new Animal Collective songs. Unfortunately seeing the band headline a night of the Primavera festival in Barcelona last year with a set comprised almost entirely of new material had left a bitter taste in my mouth about Animal Collective. Although the new stuff sounded good that night it managed to alienate the majority of the crowd, myself included, who had turned up expecting to hear at least a few more familiar songs. Whether  ‘Honeycomb’ and ‘Gotham’ were part of that set I don’t know but either way I’m willing to forgive and forget and re-ignite my love for the band in light of the potential of new material this year. ‘Honeycomb’ is a fairly typical Avery circus style and in being that it sounded a bit of a mess on first listen (as is often the case for me with Animal Collective). ‘Gotham’ with it’s moody down tempo vibe grabbed me more although I’ll have to listen to both tracks a few more times to get a grip on them.

Animal Collective – Honeycomb / Gotham (lossless) – Hi-Fi

I then listened to Beach House – Bloom for the third time through. I’ll restrain myself from saying too much now as I guarantee that this album will show up again this week but as of now it is fulfilling my expectations and more. It’s perhaps not as immediate as ‘Teen Dream’ and a bit samey on first play but it’s rewarding repeat listening immensely. It really takes off from the 6th track in and finishes strong. Can’t wait to see them live.

Beach House – Bloom (lossless) – Hi-Fi

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