Andrew Hargreaves and Craig Tattersall aka The Boats have assembled a special limited edition archival reissue available in two different formats (one super expensive deluxe edition with loads of special extras, and one regular box set at a more affordable price), both contain their first four albums available on vinyl for the first time ever, plus a whole ruck of goodies. Anyone who knows them or their insane attention to detail (take, for example, their Cotton Goods label) will have an inkling of what to expect. As they explain…”We wanted to put this set together for years but It had to include all the things that we love (beautiful, handcrafted design, limited copies, screen-prints and personal touches).
These four albums, dating back to 2004’s “Songs By The Sea” have a special place in our hearts and we’re so pleased they are finally available on the format they were undoubtedly best suited to.
Here’s some thoughts on each album:
Songs By The Sea
Scrolling thru the mists of time to 2004, a very different world indeed, and The Boats formed as an outlet for Kraftwerk-addicted composer Andrew Hargreaves and his pal, Craig Tattersall, fresh from a decade spent with cult post-rock group Hood and as half of The Remote Viewer, to pursue the ideas of modern classical and lo-fi electronica along more intimate, personalised ginnels of folk and ambient music, with the cherry on their home-baked treats provided by vocals from another close friend, Elaine Reynolds.Songs By The Sea was their wistful and charmingly humble introduction to the world; ten tracks balancing exquisitely pop-wise songwriting with gently pulsing, elusive electronics and a patina of crackle that became a real signature of their sound long before everyone else. At the time, it received heavy rotation in our record shop, Pelicanneck, and was something of a shared secret between fans from Manchester to Japan via their home-town of Burnley, and still owns a certain section of our memory banks to this day that’s often triggered by the smell of coffee, waffles and toasted rye bread in the morning just as much as smudged Hulme sunsets in summertime. We don’t want to gush about it too much but, listening to it now, and on a format the album always quietly yearned for, it’s just chokingly nostalgic in its own, low-key and endearing style and leaves little doubt in our minds that Songs By The Sea is one of the finest ambient-pop records to emerge from this region.
We Made It For You
On their 2nd album Andrew and Craig coaxed out a purely instrumental suite, leaving Elaine to her own devices (she would return on Tomorrow Time) while they drifted off into the sweetest reveries knitting passages of frayed, breezy solo piano and electronics nodding to Harold Budd, William Basinski or The Caretaker with the kind of burbling, gently glitching rhythmic tributaries that you’d expect from Isan, SND or Jan Jelinek. All the tracks inside are named after their mates (hope they still are!), and effectively forms a sort of sketchbook of meditations on each character or group, like the rugged, melancholy Miles, Sean and Bodie is definitely nodding to them Demdikes and their soundbwoy, and you’ll just have to imagine the rest. Compared with other releases of that era, it’s dated remarkably well as a record and a sound, which is most likely due to their future-proofing patina of distressed crackle and the electro-acoustic sound sensitivity of their approach to the material, managing to convey a quiet, intimate beauty without ever overstating it.
Tomorrow Time  finds Andrew Hargreaves and Craig Tattersall embracing a host of collaborators on a fuzzy, downbeat blend of ambient and indie-pop themes, wrapping tactfully processed and fragile vocals from Elaine Reynolds and Chris Stewart (Need More Sources) to a patented framework of prepared piano, strings and elusive electronics in the wake of their instrumental duo session, We Made It For You . With the benefit of hindsight when considering the era of its release, Tomorrow Time takes on a curiously prescient nature; arriving a year prior to the biggest financial collapse for generations, at a time when the “authenticity” of folk music was fetishised by posh people as Wyrd Folk (or smth?) and the other main cultural points of reference were either retro-indie guitar bands, IDM or boisterous grime and dubstep. However, The Boats’ combination of lower case pop with rustling electro and acoustic textures quietly stuck out like a sore toe, and when combined the aggressive title tracks points towards a quiet but growing dissatisfaction with perceived excess in music, culture, or at least the same old same old. In that sense, the group’s roots in avant garde minimalism and myriad other non-commercial and pop styles really come thru on Tomorrow Time, but carefully distilled into an absorbing, subtly detailed sounds they can claim as their own, and quite unlike anything before or since - although many have tried to imitate it!
OK this one’s really special: technically Static Clings is the last ever record by The Boats; presenting material from their tour-only Typewriter  CD and the Sleepy Insect Music  compilation on vinyl for the first time, along with a great haul of unreleased outtakes and even a megamix of The Boats by Modern Love’s Miles Whittaker (Demdike Stare) and Gaz Howell (G.H.) in their lesser spotted Pendle Coven guise. It’s essentially all outtakes c. 2004-2006 from their early releases for Moteer plus the aforementioned rarities, clutching 13 cuts which have been left to mature over the last decade or so, and now provide a slightly more scattered but ever-enduring overview of Andrew Hargreaves (Tape Loop Orchestra, The Mistys) and Craig Tattersall’s (The Remote Viewer, Hood) cherished time together in this vessel. We absolutely have to highlight the sublime History Of Tape Hisses for what sounds like Instrumentals-era Arthur Russell jamming with Jan Jelinek, and likewise Why You Wanna Do This, and Shlom, Sonia and Conor, cos, well, awwwwwww, but also the ghostly vignette Danny Norbury, dedicated to the cellist and another key member of their fold, and also for the salty kiss of their distorted hymn May Our Enemies Never Find Happiness (Version), the wobbly oddity of You Didn’t Expect Me To Care, and lastly the perfectly opaque pop of Pendle Coven’s remix, which uncannily recalls Uwe Schmidt’s Pop Artificielle output as LB. Sad to say they might now have to decommission Craig’s crackle-box (actually an old B&H packet full of trapped woodlice, the evil b*stard) but it’s dead lovely to have this new slab of (old) material in our mitts and finally complete our full fleet of The Boats’ catalogue.
Ta ta! X
Hallelujah Anyhow is the new studio album from Hiss Golden Messenger. Its ten new songs, penned by HGM principal M.C. Taylor, were recorded with Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Josh Kaufman, Darren Jessee, Michael Lewis, and Evan Ringel. Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Tift Merritt, Skylar Gudasz, Tamisha Waden, Mac McCaughan, and John Paul White provided vocal harmonies.
From the desk of M.C. Taylor, July 18, 2017: "I’m from nowhere. That’s the way I feel about it now, right at this moment. Music took me and made me and gave me a purpose and I built my world with it, and now my geography is a musical one, forever. And when I break, when I think about running as far as I can, I remember that there is nothing that does me like music, and I might as well be a poor man in a world of my own device. Hallelujah anyhow. Rhythm? I learned it over twenty years in the back of rented vans, in attics and back rooms—hard places to get to, harder places to get out of. And now rhythm is my clock and I live by it.
We all do. But it’ll kill you if you’re not careful. It might kill you even if you are. Hallelujah anyhow. I see the dark clouds. I was designed to see them. They’re the same clouds of fear and destruction that have darkened the world since Revelations, just different actors. But this music is for hope. That’s the only thing I want to say about it. Love is the only way out. I’ve never been afraid of the darkness; it’s just a different kind of light. And if some days that belief comes harder than others, hallelujah anyhow."
Oustanding V-O-D set shining a light on Galen Herod’s revelatory catalogue of drily witty and hook riddled synth-pops from Phoenix, Arizona circa 1983-1988, pulling material from some four cassette releases onto vinyl for the first time. Together with the Recordings 1979-80 and Recordings 1980-82 collections it completes a comprehensive overview for one of the most brilliant - if under-regarded - synth pop song-writers and producers of his era.
As heard on his prior V-O-D salvos - both solo and in Tone Set with his KAET radio colleague Greg Horn - Galen Herod was a dead funny chap who laced his charmingly lean but bright machine animations with wickedly off-the-cuff observations about life in mid-west America in a droll way that should resonate with and raise a chuckle from anyone who’s experienced life beyond the big cultural centres. It’s a music that defies frustration and boredom with silly wisdom and instinct, and still sounds uncannily fresh today because of it.
Across the course of four tape albums included - plus a pre-Tone Set bonus The Compact Man which opens the set - we follow his development “from home-brew synth pop to a sort of Dinosaur Jr sound” as the wigged out and deadly funky strains of Looking for the Perfect Love and The Pig Story from his Glad To Be A Human  tape give way to subtly more layered and rounded sound in the electro-country twanger of Maybe I’m A Martian and the creamy boogie contours of Dumb Questions from the Food For The Mood  album, to some excellent Arthur Russell/Dinosaur Jr vibes in Everything Is Happy and Nice from the Bite The Wax Tadpole  tape, although the flowery jangles of Where the Heck is Mr. Fun  are passable.
Essentially it’s crammed with some of the nattiest ohrwurms you’ve (probably) never heard, and if lyrics likes “i hate the mid-west / there’s no culture / it’s like stale yogurt / there’s nothing but pickup trucks that don’t work / i hate corn / we didn’t get to see ET till the last week” tickle you like they do us, it’s really a no-brainer!
Tim Hecker exchanges bombast for intimacy on his follow-up to 'Ravedeath, 1972' and his 'Instrumental Tourist' with Daniel "OPN" Lopatin.
Using the gristly, naked grain and off-key, out-of-phase accents of woodwinds, piano and synthesizer played by an ensemble including Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurdsson, and heightened by his studio alchemy, Hecker highlights tense, almost fraught relationships between all involved with visceral, keening dissonance approaching a narcotic potency when experienced over the full duration of the album.
He makes allusions to the ascetic, theological aspiration of early minimalism yet pulls back from full blown prostration, instead preferring a more impressionistic approach focussed on capturing atmosphere, sensation and synaesthetic qualities and connotations. For us, the results are more richly satisfying and intimately romantic than being punched in the face with blooming harmonics that scream "bow down, hear how f**king beautful I am!". ..
Legit reissue of a proper Belgian new beat nugget!
With thanks and gratitude to Adelaide’s Isle Of Jura label, Twilight Ritual and A Split Second founder, Charisma Chayell’s sexy new beat ace, Beach is reissued at a reasonable price, considering that original copies rocketed in value after DJ Harvey played it on Boiler Room.
Although not our favourite Chayell joint - that’s definitely Don’t Even Think About It (1989) - this 12” is a prime example of new beat at its earliest, refined and syncretic; filtering 4th world electronic voices, electro-boogie grooves and industrial-pop arrangements with that ice-cool ‘80s Belgian sensuality that we’re deeply attracted to.
Both tracks are essentially ‘floor-readied versions of Drinking Sand off A Split Second’s seminal Ballistic Statues album, the same LP that generated Flesh - which was most often played at 33rpm instead of 45rpm, a pivotal moment in the birth of new beat - and like Flesh was a staple on influential Goan, Balearic and Belgian dancefloors at the time.
Speedos in the briefcase times. Big tip!!
Coinciding with the label’s 10th anniversary, Erased Tapes Collection VIII is a highly limited transparent 2-LP set
"On February 5th 2017 Erased Tapes opened the doors to their new East London home, marking the 10th anniversary by introducing their fans and the public to the new Erased Tapes Sound Gallery. The label will be celebrating with many festival showcases including End Of The Road and Sea Change Festival in the UK, Germany’s Haldern Pop, as well as curating 10th anniversary takeovers of Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, Colston Hall in Bristol, plus more to be announced.
Commencing these celebrations with a new compilation entitled Erased Tapes Collection VIII, they also welcome the iconic Penguin Cafe to the roster amongst tracks from new signing Daniel Brandt (of Brandt Brauer Frick) and Peter Broderick’s duo project Allred & Broderick. It also includes recent compositions by Rival Consoles, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Ben Lukas Boysen, Douglas Dare and Immix Ensemble & Vessel, as well as a previously unreleased Ryan Davis remix of Erased Tapes stalwarts Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm which was recently favoured by Aphex Twin and an exclusive edit of Woodkid & Nils Frahm’s score for JR’s Ellis, with spoken words by Robert De Niro."
Astral Industries salvage a sublime ambient side from the oceanic ‘90s canon with Kim Cascone’s enchanted Lunar Phase (1995) turn as Heavenly Music Corporation - now presented on vinyl for the first time, faithfully re-mastered by Noel Summerville to sound as immersive as ever.
Lunar Phase serves a timely reminder of Cascone's indelible influence over that lush, utopian phase of late 20th century ambient music, a time when his Silent label was a pivotal touchstone for that fluffy, contemplative, post-club sound, which was most likely consumed with copious amount of hash and residual gurns sliding off your jaw.
This (slightly trimmed down) reissue, licensed from Silent, clearly endures into whatever we call this decade (the shit one?) by way of its near ineffable sincerity and sense of naivety, offering crystal clear windows onto four heart-meltingly sweet and creamy spheres that probably do exist in a parallel dimension somewhere pineal, between the eyes.
It should comes as little surprise then, that Lunar Phase was composed and compiled with meditation in mind, and originally broadcast by St. Giga, Japan - a satellite broadcast radio station that transmits ambient music 24 hours a day, whose programming is based around current tidal movements.
With the exception of Seafloor Starlight, which would have pushed this set over 2LPs, you have the album pretty much as it was intended; first seducing us to his ethereal temporality with the waning synth washes and frothing acid pulses of Energy Portal, then exploring the subaquatic acid caves of St. Giga, and sailing across the B-side archipelago of Lunar Phase - warmly tipped to ambient Plastikman fiends - the new age suspension of Nautiluss and the arcing arpeggios of Cloudless Light, to the tranquil, curdling acid accumulation of Orgone.
A beautiful escape pod, there when you need it.