Thursday, 10 June 2010



Back in 1998 Thurston Moore created a project entitled “Root” whereby he composed a piece of music and then fished it out to a number of friends and musicians for them to do with what they wanted, all in the name of creation and art.  Naturally the results were mixed but the whole process was inventive and unpredictable.

Following up in much the same tradition the ever creative good good people at Front And Follow have put out a whooping four songs into the world for anybody up to the job to molest and manipulate all the name of pushing things forward.  Here in this four disc boxset (this work of physical art) are the fruits of the fourteen versions sprung by so many up and coming artists.  This is free range.

The fourteen artists involved range from tried and tested electronica artists through one man wrecking machines to happy and gifted amateurs with an idea in their head, passion in their heart, hunger in their belly and a PC at their disposal.

The collection opens with the original four pieces from HELEN WATSON that are slow and subtle string arrangements suffering from some kind of Mouse On Mars-esqe bleep fever.  MRS WATSON is one half of the Watson Marriage Experiment, the brains behind the Front And Follow record label that engineered this project.

Having suitably impressed the people at The Wire magazine with his debut album Curious Memories, SONE INSTITUTE chips in with Version 2 and his trademark kaleidoscope interpretation of the truth.  These tracks play home to the collision of classic jazz sounds, of bands so big and grooves so deep they could serve as a foundation for your soul.

Up third is the first contribution from American, Washington D.C. to be exact.  The motions of BLK w/BEAR are heavy and disturbing; slow moving like an electronic version of Earth or Godspeed You Black Emperor.  This is a dark proposition that sonically stretches the four tracks to the point of despair.  A perfect soundtrack to black images.

In contrast to the previous version, when CATS AGAINST THE BOMB offer Version 4 it does so in a very playful manner that springs to mind the lighter side of science fiction.  If the previous effort was the soundtrack to Alien, then this is what’s required for Battle Beyond The Stars.  The cinematic touch is enhanced by the elements of early sonic chirps that feel like Hitchcock.  An amazing picnic.

Version 5 echoes the choices of the first collection as ISNAJ DUI takes a studied and modern composition approach to proceedings employing enhanced classical tools.  This is a hazy and disorientating take on the project that keeps things mild and amusing while concealing another element behind its back.

For the next set of remixes LDWR looks towards Australia as UK born composer BARNABY OLIVER cooks up a drifting and suffocating set of associations that suggest the cruel hand of nature and the danger that comes with.  By the end the version is gyrating causing the listener static strain and an unearthly discomfort.

I have to concede my favourite set of the collection is the four reworkings by KEN PEEL for Version 7.  To the project his brings a “lounge electronica” approach that, of all things, reminds me of the Denison Kimball Trio.  These are tracks upholstered in velvet with swing piano and chilled jazz drum beats which create a smooth texture to go all noir to.  It’s a cause for comfort.

The second half of the experiment opens with the pummelling emissions of Colchester’s own THE ABOMINABLE MR TINKLER.  Version 8 proves one of the most broken contributions to the programme.  It is also one of the most nail biting as a heavy dose of suspense leads up to an inevitably messy conclusion to the tracks,

Version 9 sees LDWR return to Australia for its manipulation via the duo of VOLUME = COLOUR.  A longstanding multimedia collaboration, for their remixes they have employed a series of outsourced individuals to each bring their own touches to the new works.  The results are stubborn and erratic as numerous punishing blows are dealt out in the name of frenzy.

Also from Australia, SUSAN HAWKINS provides the next EP bringing in daggers of destiny via classic orchestration and modern manipulation.  There is something very natural and organic in these interpretations, not least with the sonic howls it exudes.  Then it becomes pleasant, reassuring and cradling.

From Leeds, THE TRUTH ABOUT FRANK deals out a blunt series of groaning machinations that provide a gnarly industrial drone for the eleventh version.  With this ghostly distortion and heinous feedback skim over proceedings before an eventual intervention occurs.

With this SPOOL ENSEMBLE deliver Version 12 from North Carolina.  Extracted from a laboratory workbench the results are scatological as seemingly arcade machine bleeps clash with more generic electronic sounds to muddy the canvass and bend the original tracks to illustrate man made errors.  Bobbins.

The penultimate contribution arrives from TAGCLOUD who also originate from Washington D.C.  This is one of the quietest versions, a subtle reflection on the process that caused people in my presence to ask whether I “was in mourning” for listening to such music.  There is certainly something ethereal about it.

The project comes to a close with the vast recollections of LEYLAND KIRBY.  Very much in keeping with his recent work as The Caretaker and in his own name, his versions of distant journeys with delicate piano pacing and a general air of menace and beauty to that found in Badalamenti’s work on Twin Peaks.  There’s no hurry here, just a lot of sensuality.

And with that fifty six solid tracks pass through my consciousness leaving their brain on my mark.  It is incredible to think of the number of people that were involved in this project and how so many made something out of nothing.  This is the future model for independent music.

Thesaurus moment: legacy.

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