336. big science

“It’s 1982 and Laurie Anderson, who no one I know has ever heard of, has suddenly painted a picture of the future, equal parts strange and beautiful, yet already haunted. The whole album‘s a gem but the title track deserves special mention for the way it delivers this future — all shopping malls, drive-in banks and every man for himself. And yodeling, hallelujah to that, and to the big science that makes it all possible — those cooling towers off the edge of town, higher than any church steeple ever towered, hissing and droning, liable to melt down and explode at any second.” (Philip Random)

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373. the murder mystery

“The raw, reductive simplicity of the Velvet Underground is one of the foundation blocks of everything that has mattered since 1965, musically or otherwise. But their story is not remotely complete without a chapter or seven devoted to their more avant concerns, which Murder Mystery illustrates rather nicely, coming across like premeditated murder of all conventions, expectations, intentions. John Cale was gone by 1969, but you can’t help but feel that when he heard it, he thought, man, I wish I’d had a piece of that. Deadly and mysterious and not entirely unmusical.” (Philip Random)

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398. terror couple kill colonel

An early single provides strong evidence that Bauhaus were far more than just a goth outfit (the term didn’t even exist until after they’d split up). What they were was smart, innovative, never remotely boring, with Terror Couple Kill Colonel working all manner of studio exploration to get seductively under the skin, into the blood.

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403. what a day

“The first time I even heard the name Throbbing Gristle, it forced a reaction. Like a strong (not necessarily bad) smell had suddenly filled the room that you couldn’t not notice. Which is rather how What A Day sounds. Go ahead and dismiss it as noise, but good luck ignoring it. I like to think of it as a top 40 single from an alternate reality where lying is illegal, punishable by death. So if someone’s stupid enough to ask you how your day went and it truly sucked, you’d be compelled to unleash.” (Philip Random)

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405. ad nauseum

Fad Gadget’s Ad Nauseum is 1984 in a nutshell. A bitter gagging bile finally coalescing as full-on meltdown into noise … and yet it’s fun and artful, musical even. And it will forever remind me of old friend Carl who never failed to be in ownership of a rusting boat of a car (always GM product), which he’d recklessly plow through traffic, the music cranked loud, his hatred of all other drivers voiced even louder. Yet he never hit anything … until that one time he side-swiped a fire truck, and he was drunk. That didn’t go over well. In fact, I’m guessing it all sounded like the end of Ad Nauseum.”

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536. the need

Mysterious live performance from somewhere in Europe, 1983. Chris + Cosey (late of Throbbing Gristle) exploring strange sonic regions via the nebulously labelled CTI – European Rendezvous album. This was the kind of thing you’d record off the radio back in the day, late night weirdness, the DJ never telling you who it was. Maybe a decade later, you’d finally figure it out.

Chris+Cosey-1983

824. Triassic Jurassic Cretaeceous

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic had a simple enough formula. Turn on a drum machine and then get serious with various keyboards, horns, other devices. And man, did it work on their debut EP! Five genuinely deep and wild yet coherent improvisations that were exactly what the world seemed to need at the moment. My world anyway, particularly when driving crosstown so late it was getting early, trying to get home before rush hour hit.” (Philip Random)

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880. hope for the heartbeat

Bill Nelson first got some notice via the ill-fated glam-art-prog-whatever outfit Be-Bop Deluxe for whom he sang and unleashed gobsmacking guitar wizardry. But come 1982’s The Love That Whirls (diary of a thinking heart), his fifth solo release, he’d ditched the guitar, gone all-in with keyboards, drum machines, tape loops, the future in general. And hopeful it was in an artful sort of way.

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