January 29th: a slight re-awakening….

by Simon


I’m not sure if it’s my mum dying or impending fatherhood that’s done it; but at some point in the last six months my creativity died a death. I’ve been a musician for over twenty years, but I haven’t played a note in months. And it’s weird, part of me wants to play but another part really isn’t fussed. I did pick up my guitar the other week, but there was nothing there.

Writing has suffered too. Look at the blog entries prior to the middle of August; loads of them, but afterwards I’ve been lucky if I manage one a week. I’m so used to being a participant in the things I’m interested in that this is all something new. Being a passive audience member was never really my thing.

There’s a certain amount of fear involved too. I’m not sure I want to write about some of the things in my head. It’s not that I’m bottling anything up, I’m not, but I’m not sure I want any kind of record of how I’ve been feeling; unless it’s the good stuff of course!

It’s kind of locked me into certain listening patterns where music is concerned. For the most part my default setting now is soul and reggae. Yes, I know, that’s been a constant since I’ve been posting, but there’s been other things in there too. Not so much anymore.

It’s odd. It’s kind of like waking up and finding that your face has changed. I don’t quite feel like me anymore. God knows what the next few months are going to do to me!

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Meanwhile the death of a computer and a new one with far more memory has led me to sit at the computer with piles of albums to load on. Which has led me to realise how many of the albums I bought in the 90s were dance albums. Underworld, Orbital, Basement Jaxx, Aphex Twin, the Chemical Brothers, Tricky, Sabres Of Paradise. I’ve had all of these on heavy rotation this week. I’d forgotten how much great music came out in the 90s. You see a lot of nostalgia for Brit-Pop and grunge and Take That. But far less for the dance scene. It really was an amazing scene, with so much talent and imagination. I was born too late for the 60s, was way too young for punk and was just a little too young to fully appreciate the early 80s scene. So when dance music took off in the late 80s I jumped on it and never really jumped off for most of the next decade.

The earlier tunes were a lot like 60s soul, perfect for compilations, not really great for whole albums. But the mid 90s left me with some of my favourite albums ever. Orbital’s Insides, Underworld’s Beaucoup Fish, The Chems‘ Dig Your Own Hole, Sabres Of Paradise Haunted Dancehall are absolutely fantastic albums, full of amazing tunes, lush layered textures. They sound amazing and hold so many memories that’s it’s frightening to believe how old some of them are…

Here’s the opening track from Underworld’s Beaucoup Fish, Cups. I love the opening string melody that seems to morph into something from Blade Runner. Then it’s shift down into a chunky minimal electric piano techno. It’s pretty damn laid back but throughout the first six minutes there’s an undercurrent of tension that builds up with some faster harder riffs getting louder in the mix until the breakdown, where those lovely big squelchy chords come in before the big percussion attack kicks in for the last couple of minutes.

Underworld – Cups

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