Sunday, July 23, 2017

Electric Mountain

The description from Mixcloud:

(A sort of "Part 2 / companion piece" to the mix Electric Rainbow - while bearing similarities but quite different.)
Featuring Jane Weaver, Broadcast, Harmonia, Emerald Web, Alan Hawkshaw, Roedelius, Stereolab, Jean-Pierre Decerf, Peter Howell, Sven Grunberg, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Testbild!, and more.

The only reason I'd consider it a companion to Electric Rainbow is that they were made basically at the same time (or, this one was finished within 12 hours or so of the other one).  This one contains a lot of songs that might have worked on Rainbow, but I wanted one to be a bit more relaxed and largey beat-free, and one to be a more exciting companion.  One is a lot more relaxed and beautiful; the other more energetic, possibly a bit more experimental, though no less beautiful.  If one had two and a half hours to spare, I imagine they would work decently one after the other.  (Though probably in reverse order to how I released them.)

I like this one a lot.  Just as I've been obsessed with Virna Lindt lately (though she's not on either of these mixes), I've been a bit obsessed with Jane Weaver for a long time.  She does extremely consistent, amazing music, with a foot in 70s and 80s electronic / komische / Krautrock and bits of psychedelia, but without any real hint of retro "posturing" for lack of a better term, or without seeming obvious.  A quality that someone like David Bowie had; taking the trappings of a certain style but making them their own to an extent that you don't feel that awareness of "oh this is so-and-so doing such-and-such."  Even when Weaver is, as she does on the track that names this mix, taking a pretty complete sample of the Hawkwind song "Star Cannibal," the sample is so seamlessly made a part of Weaver's style that the first time I heard the track I, even being a big fan of Hawkwind (or I guess in the case of that sample, Church Of Hawkwind?), I thought "That a pretty great riff there; sounds familiar but I can't quite place it."  I actually have the LP that "Star Cannibal" is on.  And of course I figured it out quickly enough, but she has such a unique and established style and is so consistent in that unique individual style that it didn't jump out at me as a sample (and saying "consistent" is absolutely NOT damning with faint praise or to say the songs all sound the same - quite the opposite; Weaver manages to work with quite diverse and varied song styles across each album).

The Silver Globe is a prime example of that, as is her new album Modern Kosmology (both massive albums and highly recommended by me), as is The Fallen By Watchbird, etc., and she makes those diverse styles WORK.  I'd again compare Bowie, and that is about the highest comparison I could make - I always say, like with Doctor Who, the era of Bowie that grabbed a Bowie fan seems like it is the era most beloved to that fan.  I had Space Oddity, but because of my geographical location and lack of access and whatnot, I didn't know a lot about the later 70s work, so Bowie was a glam artist who then went new wave; I completely missed the greats like Station To Station and Low and Lodger etc. until I was a bit older.  But in 1994, as a 13 year old looking for what album I was going to use my allowance on that weekend, I decided to pick up Outside (or if you're a purist, 1.Outside).  I wasn't necessarily expecting much; "Bowie does industrial" wasn't a great selling point to me (I was a pretentious 13 year old who had already gone through my industrial phase, where industrial wasn't Nine Inch Nails or Ministry or KMFDM - though I'm not saying I didn't like some of that; I spent a very bizarre 1992 being pen pals with En Esch from KMFDM, who used to send me drawings he made on notebook paper that he obviously then tore out of a spiral notebook and put in the mail and sent to me, or he'd send postcards from exotic - to me anyway - locations where they were on tour, but I digress -- My industrial phase was Neubauten and Throbbing Gristle and early Skinny Puppy etc).  But I was completely blown away by Outside, and really I still am.  I don't listen to a ton of the music I listened to at age 13, but I revisit Outside fairly often, at least a few times a year.  And after that I bought and loved Earthling (and again, "Bowie does drum and bass" isn't necessarily on paper a huge selling point; but you can't deny a song like "Battle For Britain" or my personal favorite, "Seven Years In Tibet," which goes from Fleetwood Mac to Pop Will Eat Itself in a matter of seconds).  Outside was more twisted jazz and quirky, melancholic ambient electronics with tracks that may have been at home on a Warp Records release more than the wall of guitars, heavy metal with a drum machine stuff you'd expect on most popular "industrial" records of the time, and then other tracks that were just utterly unique to me, like "Thru These Architects Eyes" - I imagine fans of NIN and that sort of thing, who Bowie toured with at that time, picking up Outside and being disappointed; I was absolutely not disappointed and was in fact floored by it.  (Anyone remember Stabbing Westward?  Gravity Kills?  If you don't, God has truly blessed you.)  I was certainly floored by "A Small Plot Of Land," perhaps my favorite track on the album, when I first heard it.  I hadn't heard anything like it.  Now I can perhaps compare it to Scott Walker or some such, but it's just astonishing to me even now.  (I could write pages on the wonderful celestial orbits Bowie and Walker seemed to maintain with respect to each other; it's quite fascinating, and clear those two held each other in extremely high regard.  (Look up on YouTube the time Bowie got a birthday message from Scott Walker; Bowie apparently began to cry.)  They were two sides of a coin in so many ways, sometimes almost nearly literally.)  It's a beautiful bit of business, with a busy jazz piano to open with a killer, off kilter drum beat, which goes on for some time before gorgeous synth stings make their way in and Bowie's incredible voice comes through, with a truly impressive vocal performance, and the song twists its way through a few passages before it turns into a goddamn nightmare.  I hit repeat for a few hours sitting on the floor of my bedroom at age 13.

Some albums, especially for a kid who grew up in the bible belt with only a Walmart and a K-Mart to buy albums from, could truly transport me.  I was so unbelievably grateful when that happened.  And "late period Bowie" became my Bowie.  (And I consider Outside through The Next Day to be one Bowie era; Blackstar stands alone.)

I got off on a Bowie tangent, but I'm saying that Jane Weaver shares that rare quality with an artist like Bowie - not a musical similarity, but a way of making an album An Album, with a cohesiveness that I find frankly incredibly impressive, while exploring whatever style she damn well pleases, and never not hitting the mark.  There's not a boring moment or a bum note on the entirety of her last two albums.  I suppose if I was going to peg it into a genre, at this point I might say "space rock," but that's far too limiting.  I hear something new each time I listen to her, and her work is utterly transporting.  And that's the other piece to the puzzle of her work - she works in concepts, which could be completely annoying (and I will admit that I find that aspect of Outside to be that - I applaud the batshit crazy nerve it took for Bowie to turn that piece of work in).  All of Weaver's albums, beginning with The Fallen By Watchbird, are basically concept albums, with storylines and arcs.  (The Fallen By Watchbird even has a companion book, which I own, which tells the story of the album in basically fairy-tale fashion, and is quite beautiful, really.)  There's an interview out there where Jane goes track by track on The Silver Globe and very openly and refreshingly tells of what each song is about and the concept behind the album as a whole.  And it works.  You don't need to know it - there's no interstitials to listen to or storytelling passages.  The music absolutely stands alone.  But for someone like me, I love the fact that she's also working on a conceptual level, and her concepts are quite out there.  Maybe that helps her in some way when it comes to composition.  I know it does for me with my own stuff.  And certainly there's perhaps a tradition when it comes to some psychedelic and space rock albums of years past.  I could go on all day about how much I adore Jane Weaver.  And I neglected to write out a track list to this one (if anyone has a question about a track, I will be happy to figure out what it is and answer), but I broke a mixtape rule here, too: There's more than one Weaver track on this mix.

After two in two days, I'm going to probably take a rest for a little while as I move into the next stage in my own work. I may have some interesting news coming up, and I may have an interesting treat for fans of long lost psychedelia.  And bear with me - I'm told I should do more writing on the blog.  I'm not always terribly inclined to do that - I don't know if what I would write is interesting at all.  Maybe it isn't for me to judge.  For now, I hope you enjoy this mix, and if you should like a copy of it, or have any questions, or insults, or suggestions, including rude ones, feel free to get in touch.

No comments:

Post a Comment