I’m not sure how it ended up this way, but this month’s is the most disparate offering I’ve curated yet. Still, there’s only one point in it that I think is uncomfortable and jarring. Be aware of the transition between Boards of Canada‘s Satellite Anthem Icarus and Modest Mouse‘s Ocean Breathes Salty; it’s a particularly nasty one. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late to do anything about and Ocean Breathes Salty is good enough to get past it. Beyond that, this month’s playlist skips from genre to genre without a moment’s rest. On the whole, it works quite well with a playful verve. However, there is a huge twenty minute swathe consisting of only two tracks that I’ve come to regret. Let’s concentrate on the positives; there are some wonderful tracks on here this month…
Old Cape Cod – Patti Page
Last month’s playlist featured the cheesy classic, At the River (by Groove Armada). I always wondered where that track’s vocal hook came from, as it’s clearly a well-utilised sample. Turns out it comes from this little gem, which I enjoyed enough in its own right to include this month. Page is a legendary American pop-singer, in that endearingly “traditional” style. She’s one of the most famous songstresses of all time, with an impressive career spanning over six decades. You can hear that pedigree in Old Cape Cod, one of those timeless hits with a class you simply can’t replicate today. Unfortunately though, love, I don’t like the taste of a lobster stew so you might as well shut the fuck up about it.
Sunday Roast – Elemental; Mr. Simmonds
It was back in May that Professor Elemental got a track up on an Office Chart. That was in anticipation of a podcast recording I had coming up with Paul Alborough, the man behind Professor Elemental. Having conducted that recording, and gone on to write an in-depth article on his craft, it seemed only fair to give some attention to his work as a straighter MC. As Elemental, and with no Professor in sight, Alborough performs a little closer to his heart. With an accent more reflective of his reality, but equally adept skills, Alborough is just as enjoyable outside the confines of his more popular character. There are numerous recordings available of Elemental, most with frequent collaborator, Mr. Simmonds, and I recommend them all.
O.P.E.N.E.R. – Flat Earth Society
Isms, a compilation put together by no less than Mike Patton, is one of the strangest recordings I’ve ever come across. It’s not just because the music within is a unique blend of big band brass, jazz, post-rock and fusion, but also the obscurity of its whole. This is one of those albums that I know very little about, and would like to keep that way. That said, I’ve attempted minimal research a couple of times, often leading to amazingly blind alleys. My brother found this CD at some forgotten festival somewhere, discarded and alluring. It became a favourite of ours for its singularity, quality and pure audacity. It’s a truly brilliant work, switching masterfully between vicious cacophony and a reserved melancholy.
Turns out that there are a surprising number of tracks on this month’s Office Chart that, in some way, reference previous offerings. However, i’m hoping that the strength of the songs – referential though they are – lets them stand on their own. After all, this Micronauts remix of Bruce Lee (which I’ve featured in the past) is actually a completely different track to the original. Just shy of ten minutes long, I can’t deny feeling uncomfortable including tracks of that length, but it’s too good not to throw on the pile. I’d not heard this before, and only checked it out when Wikipedia told me that a lot of people preferred it to Underworld’s initial version. To be honest, I can see why. Tightly produced and driving, it couldn’t be more of a polar opposite to the track following it…
Snowflake – Kate Bush
It was around this point, when putting this playlist together, that I realised strange transitions were probably going to rule to the roost. I’m not sure why this works so well after the energetic electronica preceding it; it just does. This is, itself, close to ten minutes in length. Instead of keeping that time alive with crisp beats and evolving rhythms, Kate Bush gives it an entirely different movement. This comes from one of her more recent albums, 50 Words for Snow. It’s the sound of Bush at her most intimate and stripped-back. Thanks to her talent and charisma, that’s a sound of intense beauty and poignancy. This song hypnotises me and was, actually, my first introduction to Bush; long before I heard classics like Babooshka, Wuthering Heights and Hounds of Love. The album this comes from is deeply daring. Make sure to check it out in full.
The Black Amnesias – Hope of the States
Here’s a fun bit of trivia for you: my very first proper musical outing (at the age of fourteen) was called The Black Amnesias, after this song. At that age, I was a vastly different person. I thought bands like Hope of the States, The Strokes and The Coral were the answer. Of course, Radiohead were still my favourite band; The Black Amnesias basically ripped them off wholesale (with some distinctly Pink Floyd twinges). As for Hope of the States themselves, for a long time I held them in unbelievably high regard. Their debut album, The Lost Riots, was my favourite for a whole year before I grew up and realised that it’s quite cringe-worthy. Harsh though that sounds, I still heavily applaud their melding of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and more common indie music. They were a clever little band, and this is them at their best.
Killers About – Benga
I have very little to say about this track, so I might as well outline how it came to appear on this Office Chart. My brother, who often gets mentions in these write-ups for bringing music to my attention, is a dedicated fan of dubstep. Personally, beyond some key artists and tracks, I can take it or leave it. Frankly, I consider it to be a repetitive, derivative and uninspired genre with far too much chaff to separate from the wheat. Every once in a while, when hearing some new playlist my brother’s cooked up, a track will stick out to me. When out for a drive in his new car, this came on. Within two minutes I asked for its title so I could include it this month. I hope you enjoy its relentless bass and intelligent rhythms as much as I do. Play loud.
Old to Begin – Pavement
It shocked me to discover that I haven’t yet included Pavement on any of my Office Charts. I’m still so surprised by the fact, as I type this, that i’m second guessing myself. Either way, they’re here this month. Suffice to say, Pavement are one of my absolute favourite bands. As such, it was rather difficult to choose one particular tune. In the end, I think I chose Old to Begin as a way of holding back a little. It’s an album track, which has seen itself a little underrated over the years, but there’s no denying that there’s better songs in their catalogue. I don’t mean that as any kind of insult to this track, which is actually one of my favourites from Brighten the Corners. I simply wanted to give it a few more playlists before I stick on one of their truly top-tier releases.
Satellite Anthem Icarus – Boards of Canada
For those who haven’t noticed, my monthly Boards of Canada selections are now working their way through their official albums. Last month we had something from Geogaddi, meaning that it’s The Campfire Headphase‘s turn this time around. While the album is often misunderstood, and discarded for perceived weaknesses, the material within is actually extremely gorgeous and lightly seductive. This is a fine example of that otherworldly nostalgia that they’re so well-known for tapping into. There’s evidence to suggest that some of this album actually has roots in their earliest, unreleased and unheard, music. It’s certainly unusual to hear so much unprocessed guitar in their mixes, but it’s something that suits them beautifully. Still, it seems to be, largely, a singular gimmick for the brothers. After all, not a single acoustic guitar jangle is to be heard on its follow up, Tomorrow’s Harvest.
Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse
I bought the album this is from (Good News for People Who Love Bad News) on the same day I bought The Lost Riots, Hope of the States’ first LP. While I loved The Lost Riots instantly, it took a lot longer for Modest Mouse to seep in. Yet, over time, Modest Mouse proved themselves to be a band with far more longevity than the short-lived Hope of the States. This is one of their poppier songs, but that’s by no means a bad thing; maybe to snobby fans of Modest Mouse’s earlier material but, for me, this proves how well they can arrange a great guitar-pop song. No wonder Johnny Marr joined them for recording sessions of We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. As a bass player myself I tend to point out things like that over other instruments; the bass playing in this song is excellent.
Idle Chatter – Busdriver
I debated for ages about which Busdriver track to put on. There are loads of contenders and, if you’ve never heard Busdriver before, you really owe it to yourself to go and listen to more. You may only know him from Imaginary Places; if so, you’ll soon discover that he doesn’t need to rely on remixed classical melodies to get by. So proficient is his wordplay, and unique delivery, that he’s beyond comparisons to anyone else. That’s not to say he’s the best of all time or anything, just that you have to appreciate his level of singularity and expression. Also, I’ve never heard a hip-hop backing track that sounds this… kosher (except, of course, in the output of Matisyahu).
Ripple – J. Roosevelt
I have no idea who this is or what this is. Let me peddle back a little, to explain. Recently, there’s been a popular playlist for lo-fi hip-hop and “chill beats” streaming on YouTube. My brother has often had it on for smoky evenings, to my delight and tedium in equal measure. There’s one particular track on it, Eternal Youth by RUDE, which I was incredibly keen to include on this month’s Office Chart. Unfortunately, obscure as it is, it’s unavailable on Spotify. In its stead, I trawled the aforementioned playlist’s Spotify, where I happened upon this. I must have listened to around three-hundred lo-fi hip-hop tunes on that day, and this one really stuck out from the bunch. It’s a genre you have to be in the mood for, but this is just too smooth to irritate. Oh, and here’s Eternal Youth; it really is an eternal tune:
Man of War – Radiohead
I wrote an extensive article in May about OKNOTOK, Radiohead’s re-issue of their magnum opus, OK Computer. The most noteworthy thing about the re-issue is its inclusion of three previously unreleased tracks. When I wrote that article, I hadn’t heard them. I can safely say now, and in brief, that they’re all perfectly up to snuff, if you ask me. Of the three, Man of War is easily the most historically significant. Personally, I also think it’s the most viscerally enjoyable. It sounds like an evolution on their Bends sound, while in quite a different tone to the timbres of OK Computer to come. It has an astounding music video too, and I’ve not truly loved a music video in years:
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