It feels incredible to be writing here again. For those who don’t know, or didn’t notice, our domain went offline for almost an entire week. This, obviously, left Benjamin and I distraught and distressed for the down-time’s duration. It effected every area of our output, with it even coming close to causing a permanent cessation. Despite such devastating circumstances, we’ve been able to move past it confidently in readiness for our next phase. As a result of the issues with the domain, a backlog of tasks requiring completion has built up. An Office Chart is well overdue, though I did state in the previous one that it might be the last. I’ll restate that this time too, but I’ve deliberately tried to give this month’s a tone of retrospection absent from August’s.
Every track on this playlist has some affiliation to Secret Cave. Be it through a review, an interview or being the creation of our actual writers, each choice has a history here. It feels like a much more fitting finale to my arc of Office Charts, having a somewhat celebratory appeal for anyone who’s followed our zine. Sometime tomorrow, I’ll be releasing a short report on Tim Heidecker and Neil Hamburger‘s live performances at Manchester’s Gorilla. It was a remarkable show, and I even got the opportunity to meet them in a story well worth telling.
In addition, keep your eye on the site (now it’s finally back up) for an announcement concerning an extra gift we’ll be sending physical zine subscribers. We’ve been putting a lot of effort in to make this surprise as special as possible; I’m sure it’s something our fans are going to adore. To those who showed loyalty and patience across the blip of down-time, thank you. Much of it was out of our hands, but we hope to learn from the experience. Now we’re back, we intend to get right back to work on making our next phase the most exciting yet. With our physical zine just around the corner, we’re truly far from quelling our ever-lapping creative flames. All that said, let’s just get on with our final, slightly belated, Office Chart…
Where It All Begins – Majken
I thought this would be a nice opener, mostly because of its title. For a recent post, Georgia Stephenson (from Gigs and Freudian Slips) contributed a review of Majken’s debut album. She’s an interesting artist, who brings an oddly hollow sound to her almost whispered vocals. She presents a homemade aesthetic in her music, naturally eschewing the vacuous elements of pop with a constant respect for its overarching legacy. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she boasts a quiet and inherent confidence. Endearing in her direct songwriting, I’m very intrigued to watch the evolving trajectory of Majken’s career. You can also assume, from my approaching her to write for Secret Cave, that I consider Stephenson’s future of equal intrigue.
Personal Boy – Har Mar Superstar
I wrote at length about both Har Mar Superstar and his latest EP, Personal Boy, in the post preceding this. In my interview with him, he gave me some insights on its creation. The result of a whim, that’s something that would never come across from isolated listening. It’s a beautifully realised affair that spans close to eight minutes with immense grace. Sean Tillmann‘s material has been worthy of attention since his debut but, with each release, he proves himself more developed and capable of work far beyond irony. He’s already putting together two new albums for release, which is something I highly recommend you keep your eye out for.
Love Doesn’t Fill Your Pockets – Jack Lawtey
Whenever I hear Jack Lawtey’s music, I have to remind myself that he’s an old, and close, friend. The level of his craft is always impressive, from its arrangements to its melodic strength and heartfelt performance. Lawtey’s album, Spiralling, has entered strong rotation during my lengthy writing sessions. It’s a soothing, yet gripping, record that touches on truths rarely approached so masterfully. I’ll also take this opportunity to mention Lawtey’s formative, and wildly disparate, project, Bear Flag. On their LP, Everywhere, a multitude of musical shades are explored. It’s an utterly fascinating collage and, as some hint to impending announcements, you may just hear more from Bear Flag at Secret Cave soon…
Make Good Art – The Menagerie
On the day I compiled this playlist, Professor Elemental (as part of The Menagerie) released Odd Beast. Within minutes, I knew I loved it. In certain ways, Paul Alborough (the man behind Professor Elemental) has returned to an earlier, down to Earth, persona. A far cry from steampunk ditties about tea, it reflects comments Alborough made in my interview with him. Comedy and kitsch can only go so far where one’s creativity is concerned. On Odd Beast, along with his collaborators, Alborough raps with, mostly, straight-faced sincerity. It’s yet another step in his career asserting his underlying talents, and his fans should deeply appreciate it.
Pterodactyl – Professor Elemental, Sabira Jade
Since Make Good Art was added at the last minute, this was my original choice to represent Alborough on this Office Chart. Being a track from Professor Elemental’s concept album, Apequest, I decided it was different enough to leave on the list. How much I like it may have a part to play in its continued inclusion too. This is easily my most played piece from the record, which is fantastic from start to finish in its own right. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have two contributions from Alborough this month. After all, he’s been a vocal supporter of Secret Cave for some time now. In fact, like Lawtey’s Bear Flag, we have something in the pipeline with Alborough’s music. Watch this space.
These Are My Twisted Words – Radiohead
Radiohead are, without a doubt, my personal favourite band. I’ve written about them before here, and my history with them. They were also a regular subject of SCP1, our first series of podcasts. Though I try to reign in mention of them, it makes sense to me for this final Office Chart to feature their music. I thought I could, at least, try to put up something compelling in its relative obscurity. Unfortunately, These Are My Twisted Words is usually disregarded. It presents them at their most kraut-rock, though rhythmic repetition would prove a founding backbone to The King of Limbs in its wake. However, it shows all the hallmarks of Radiohead’s legendary strengths. It’s one of their better tracks that comes unaffiliated with any studio album; an LP from them more committed to this direction would not go amiss…
If I Could Reach You – BONZIE
BONZIE blew me away when I first heard her album, Zone on Nine. Originally, she was due to appear on SCP2 but, unfortunately, her busy schedule meant that it never came to fruition. Luckily, I was at least able to conduct an e-mail interview with her. I was very proud of the results, since BONZIE’s music and responses inspired me to write a detailed article around them. I’m still waiting for her to play live on British soil. When she does, I’ll be right there. This is a touching song that speaks of distanced passion and longing. Zone on Nine itself spans a variety of sounds, but BONZIE often seems at her most comfortable behind the soft pluck of an acoustic guitar and waves of hypnotic reverb.
Cherry Red Medicine – Nick Lutsko
Nick Lutsko was among the first guests on SCP2, remaining a friendly and forthcoming personality since we invited him onto the podcast. It’s not just how accommodating he is as a person; his music is wonderful, and something I’m always keen to spotlight. Though Lutsko’s biggest exposure has come through his hilarious work for Super Deluxe, his material otherwise is probably more impressive. I fell in love with his LP, Etc., when researching him for his appearance. Like Har Mar Superstar, Lutsko is also working on a new record. I’ve heard a track from it, and I can safely say that it’s just as magnificent as you’d expect. The energy in much of his composition is infectious, which he cleverly expands on in every area of his live shows.
Taxi – Goldie Lookin Chain
Goldie Lookin Chain were considered a favourite when I was fourteen. I tuned out of them after that, but that was a definite fault on my part. When John Rutledge, better known as the group’s principle member, Eggsy, spoke to me on SCP2, I thought it my duty to get myself fully re-acquainted with their whole catalogue. It’s a choice that came with great rewards, as I was pleased to discover that they’ve stayed as humorous and listenable as they always were. With GLC, and in common with Professor Elemental, the comedy is only an aspect. They take their productions seriously in tandem, with more truth to their working class witticisms than the surface projects. I’d like to talk to other members of the collective in time so, hopefully, my episode with Rutledge is just the beginning of my association with them.
Ninja – 7 Seconds of Love
Once, sites like Rather Good and b3ta ruled the internet. They were, in some circles, forefathers of the communities and memes that now dominate our collective online experience. It was an honour to speak to Joel Veitch, creator of Rather Good, for SCP2, in what turned out to be one of our longest episodes. It’s a conversation I’m particularly happy with, as Veitch is a man with reams of knowledge on seemingly any subject raised. Before I knew what the internet would end up being, and in those bubblegum years before puberty, Rather Good was a refreshing safe haven from the belaboured polish of syndicated television. Aside from his animation and humour, it featured a lot of Veitch’s other creative avenues. His band, 7 Seconds of Love, write catchy and funny ska tunes that still, after all these years, raise a smile.
Hanging by a Thread – Dion Lunadon
I’m ashamed to say that I’m not as smart to Dion Lunadon, or his work with The D4 and A Place to Bury Strangers, as I’d like to be. Yet, I did receive a pre-release of his self-titled solo album, which I greatly enjoyed. At the time, I was rather snowed under with podcast and other writing obligations, so I gave the task of a write-up to Julie Smitka. She came out with an astute interview with Lunadon, which did a far better job than I would of framing his release. This is a tad more restrained than other songs from the record, which might be why it’s ended up on the chart. Admittedly, I was nursing a migraine throughout compiling it this month. Don’t take that as some indication of Lunadon’s quality, though. His adept, fuzz-laden growl has an underlying air of primal seduction.
Rap Music – David Liebe Hart
David Liebe Hart‘s episode with me for SCP2 is the hardest listen by quite some distance. Yet, hidden in its impenetrable folds are some very telling indications of his polarising character; indeed, it raises many questions about the degree to which he’s a character at all. This brought me to write The Enduring Mystery of David Liebe Hart, which was my earnest attempt to record the encounter and my thoughts at its conclusion. I maintain that his oddities sit somewhere between craft and reality. This song, quite unique among his other music, would seem to support that assertion. While I’m sure that he believes what he’s saying to some degree, he’s too close to several top-level comedians to not recognise why people will laugh at it.
The Riddler – Rough Drafts
This is quite the relic. The connection this has to Secret Cave is far stronger than that of any others on the playlist. This is, in actuality, the work of both Benjamin and I. It’s the first thing we ever created together, and is close to seven years old. Back then, I knew Benjamin only through some mutual friends. I was attempting to kick-off a local, independent record label, and I brought him in to make some music. His demos were a source of some worry to me, as I met him under the assumption that he was a useless wannabe with little respect for the hip-hop he took cues from.
When I hit record on a backing track I created, based on one of his demos, with him stood meekly in front of a Shure C606 in my bathroom, I realised how wrong I was in seconds. Following that first session, Benjamin quickly became my most profound creative collaborator; and I’ve had a few. We eventually came out with an EP, and some other tracks, before the trappings of full-time work and Benjamin’s move to Latvia left our relationship silenced for years. By chance, and in a time of great turmoil for me, the two of us began talking again. It was in these rekindling conversations that Secret Cave slowly conceived, bringing us all the way to our current phase. In the very DNA of this post is the influence of The Riddler, and it’s a production I’ll never forget.
Here’s a picture (by Gary Stafford) from the time, where I look shocked and Benjamin looks hilarious:
Ass 2 Dad – DJ Douggpound, Freemium Earbud Jamal
I sometimes can’t believe that I had the opportunity to interview Doug Lussenhop for SCP2. His career is packed tight with all kinds of different expressions, each strangely relatable in their stream-of-consciousness madness. One area that’s always been overlooked when it comes to Lussenhop is his music. His latest release, DJ Douggpound: The Archives Volume 2, harks back to tracks he made long before crossing paths with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. It’s a shame that none of it’s on Spotify, as it represents Lussenhop’s straighter musical aspirations; where he takes influence from artists like Aphex Twin and Autechre. His other work as DJ Douggpound leans more towards comedy, but his care for the dope beats is always there. When I hear it, I can’t get Ass 2 Dad out of my brain for days. In honesty, I don’t necessarily mind.
Tommy the Cat – Primus
Although I wish I had interviewed members of Primus, that’s unlikely to become a reality without miraculous intervention. The significance of this track is academic. When Secret Cave was just a blog (urgh), I used to post up recommendations with lazy reviews; this was purely an exercise in stretching my fingers. I hope we’ve evolved past that, but all those old posts are still available (in the interest of posterity). A look at Tommy the Cat by Primus was the first post I made here in the “Music” category. In no way is it a piece I’m proud of, but I thought that linking back to it would be a good historical twinge to this Office Chart. As a bass player, it would be remiss of me to not champion the esoteric angles of Primus’ material. When I discovered them, at the age of fourteen, they changed the game.
Go to the Club Alone – Juiceboxxx
Juiceboxxx was on the edge of releasing Freaked Out American Loser when he joined me for an episode of SCP2. Then, I had no idea how the album would sound. His confidence in it, and everything he’d brought out before, got me ready for another strong and punchy LP. My anticipation was not insulted when it eventually dropped. It’s a feisty fuck of a record, confirming Juiceboxxx’s conviction in its electric brevity. Across its mere twenty-one minutes, Freaked Out American Loser displays the very best of his energy-drink fuelled philosophies and perspectives. It’s an accurate portrayal of his cathartic live performances too which, having witnessed one up close, I can attest to the power of.
Seeya Later – Boards of Canada
I had to include something from Boards of Canada, didn’t I? They’re the only artists who have appeared on every Office Chart, being richly synonymous with these monthly playlists. I followed a loose arc in my selections too, so it’s appropriate that I return to their first widespread release, Twoism, for a track on this final outing. How fitting that, arguably, the best choice from that EP has a title perfect to end on. Take it as a goodbye from the charts themselves, which will be closing up shop here. I may have a change of heart and bring them back someday but, until then, let one of Boards of Canada’s coolest bass-lines rock you into trance in what will be my last recommendation under the lens of an Office Chart.