13 Albums: The Quietus' 5th Birthday Baker's Dozen
It was a great privilege to have been involved in the inception of theQuietus (there's a little bit about my/DiS' involvement in this Guardian feature). It was like finding out that you had a long lost older brother and using tricks as-seen-in-Weird-Science you could help him become more than a figment of your imagination...
The Quietus have just released their first ebook anthology to mark the site's fifth birthday (get yours here!), and considering that all the money they raise is going toward essential site repairs (something I can really related to), I thought asking them to contribute something to DiS to highlight some of the music they love, might introduce a few of you to the site if you're not already a regular and for the rest of you, perhaps you'll find a few more must hear records to add to your 'to buy/revisit' list.
The Quietus have just turned five. To celebrate, joint owners and editors, John Doran and Luke Turner have joined forces to bring you a selection of the 13 best albums to play on the home stereo at 4am when in either a state of psychological or moral dishevelment.
Fireside Favourites (Mute) 1980
Luke Turner: Since we started the Quietus, one of John and my favourite nocturnal activities has been to go back to whichever 'protected by occupation' derelict building our good friend David Moats is living in for music, conversation, and carousing. Now, Moats is, like most Americans, blessed with a mixing of genes from around the world - he is handsome, urbane, and incredibly smart, and is currently studying for a PhD of quite baffling complexity. His flats, though, are terrifying places all seemingly previously inhabited by drug addicts, satanists, prostitutes, or all of the above. Moats is basically there to stop Fat White Family moving in. It's all asbestos, crime, and pen-scrawled wall art that you really don't want to attempt to interpret at 5am when the crust around your soul is starting to flake away. This is of course all no bad thing - I met my girlfriend at one of Moats' parties three and a half years ago - but you do require the right music to make it work, as John well explains here. On Friday, after the Quietus Five Years party, a group of us once more found ourselves back at Moats' and, as he often seems to do, he put on this, the debut album by the late, great, criminally unsung Fad Gadget. Frank Tovey understood, perhaps better than any artist before or since, that the English are a repressed race seemingly terrified of allowing their fecund sexuality to break forth - Fireside Favourites is full of songs of fucking and awkward dissection of the oozes, smells and intriguing hollows of the human body and what we decide to put in or alongside each other. If this EBM disco isn't on your 4am playlist, then we suspect your tassled loafers rest under a record shelf that features both Foxygen and Tallulah Gosh.
Stars Of The Lid
The Ballasted Orchestra (Kranky) 1997
John Doran says: In many ways 4am is the sexiest time of night, which is why I never stay up that late any more. It’s simply not appropriate for a man of my age. At 4am the most interesting bit of the night is just beginning. You’ve crawled in from whatever Hellish nightclub it was you went to by mistake and now that you are back in your domicile the demons from overspace have stopped their infernal chattering and it’s time to have some inner fun. Time to reach for a Stars Of The Lid album and slowly start rebuilding your shattered psyche. I remember when this came out I was listening to it with some friends in Hull after taking these gnarly purple pills shaped like smints which turned out to be LSD rather than ecstasy. The last thing I can recall with any great clarity was Rich spending ages trying to call Asian Kitchen for a takeaway using the TV remote instead of a phone and when John picked up his mobile a big ordinance survey map unfolded out of the back of it. I was about to say something but he gave me the stern look which signified: when you see something strange or distressing while on hallucinogens, the gentlemanly thing to do is to not mention it.
The Ape Of Naples (Threshold House) 2005
Luke Turner: All Back To Mine CDs are possibly the biggest lie in music, allowing as they do a bunch of musicians to pretend that rather than whacking on a load of YouTubes when they get in after being deep at the nose bag somewhere vile, they carefully flick between mint condition genre-crossing 12" on their £1000 record deck calibrated on the naked back of a prostate virgin. If anyone puts on one of these when you get back to theirs, you should react as you would if someone you've drunkenly clashed teeth with reaches for What's Going On? the minute you walk through the door. The notable exception to this comes from the Optimo DJs, whose Sleepwalk nocturnal CD was originally called Why Nobody Comes Back To Mine. So good was Sleepwalk that we'd be tempted to take that working title as a passive invitation next time we're wandering the streets at 4AM, and get on the first train to Glasgow. Anyway, one of the finest tracks on that compilation was Coil's 'A Cold Cell', which Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson remixed especially for them. 'A Cold Cell' is one of my favourite tracks of all time, made just from simple bass notes, a quivering synth line, and Jhon Balance's clear, choral voice that hovers just on the right side of plaintive. This strange, secular prayer is merely one sublime moment on an album that remains oddly ignored in Coil's history.
SunnO))) & Nurse With Wound
The Iron Soul Of Nothing (Daymare) 2007/(Ideologic Organ) 2011
John Doran says: SunnO))) and Nurse With Wound are both very versatile acts across the diurnal range but there is some kind of twin peak effect, with the first majestic ascent into the heavens at around 4am. For this I would recommend the SunnO))) remixed by NWW album The Iron Soul Of Nothing originally released as bonus material on the Japanese edition of ØØVOID. If you are still standing at 10amyou may try to scale the second peak, up, up, up, to where the air is fine and crisp and the sun burns yours eyes. If you make it to the top, I would advise you listen to Monoliths & Dimensions because you have won. (But then you should go to bed.)
In Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Luke Turner: Classic FM is basically a sort PsyOps music torture organised by Terry Wogan and the Daily Mail. They're always telling you that there's about to 'Soothing Classics' or 'Relaxation Music', only to follow it up with half an hour of bland, trilling canonical pieces or Hollywood film scores, like a sort of perverted inverse of Radio One at its most Autotuned and banal. You do get some Arvo Part on the station now and then, but I can't help wishing there was more from this wonderful Estonian composer. The chime that opens this elegy to Britten is one of the most beautiful notes of music that I've ever heard (and actually follows on perfectly from a session listening to Coil) before the exploration of simple descending A minor strings. Best memory of this is crossing London Bridge as the sun came up, shortly after the Shard had been completed. It was early spring, at slack tide in the Thames, and fog swirled around the skyscraper's base in a perfect mirrors of the grey water below.
The Island Come True Melodic (2013)
John Doran says: The last ever night I took drugs, I had a brief moment of clarity that I was perhaps using a lot of different things to balance each other out which had gone beyond simple hedonism. So for example I went to watch a hardcore rave DJ and took some ecstasy. That kind of wiped me out so I had some speed. This in turn made me anxious so I smoked some grass. This made me psychotic so I smoked some opium. And so on and so on. Not really any of it was very pleasant, apart from the last bit when I was lying in bed listening to this album on my headphones watching the sun come up through a gap in the curtains. It looked like the sky was on fire. Now that’s the bit that I’ll miss.
Jerusalem/Dopesmoker (Tee Pee Records) 1999 / 2003
Luke Turner: Trade descriptions! Trade descriptions! Sleep? Pah! I remember when they played these pieces at ATP I was cream crackered and had gone back to some dispiriting chalet party or other where everyone was playing Pavement. I fled back to the venue, where these doom titans were just getting into their stride. With nothing but the scrag end of the ATP ale stand for fortification, I was commanded to dance by the magnificently stern riffs which (and YouTube research confirms this) acquire a brilliant, tight funk - perhaps it's the excellent posture of guitarist Matt Pike that gives it such ooomph. This is late night gesticulation rock of the highest order.
Dub Syndicate & Lee Scratch Perry
Time Boom X De Devil Dead (Syncopate) 1987
John Doran: This isn’t the best dub album in the world but it’s certainly one that I have a lot of affection for. ‘Jungle’ from this album used to be the anthem at Boom Room, the dub night I used to go to at the Welly in Hull in about 1992. I was sat in front of the wall of bass bins one night just feeling my ribcage come apart with the vibrations when a local Rastafarian called Football Nick ran into the room holding a knackered trumpet. He stopped in front of me, shouted: “Freestyle!” and played a really terrible free improv solo. Then a load of angry bouncers poured into the room shouting at him and he just laughed and burst through the fire escape with them in pursuit. I never found out what they wanted him for. This is Perry’s last superb album and one worthy of an early morning spin.
In Greenwich Village (Impulse!) 1967
It sounds a bit lame to say that this album makes me not want to kill myself but when I’m in times of despair… say a long dark night of the soul… this music is a life saver.
The Marble Index (Elektra) 1969
Luke Turner: Another ATP-related one this. I was getting into Nico about the time that Thurston Moore curated his December ATP... I'm not exactly a tune enthusiast, but I did find the parade of atonal sounds of spod pretty wearisome, resulting in many trips back to the chalet to blast out Pet Shop Boys and Erasure in desperate need of a more balanced diet. Being at the chalet all the time at ATP always seems to result in becoming more discombobulated than if one is in the venues, and by the wee hours a terrifying cabin fever was setting in, the sort where all the cheap furniture and shouting starts to become offensive. I snuck out and went for a bit of a stroll along past the Festival site to the marshland between the Bristol Channel and the railway line. An early morning sea fog (fog seems to be a bit of a pattern with my choices here) descended, which meant that all of a sudden I couldn't see much more than a few metres around me. I just sat down on a tuft of grass listening to this on repeat, waiting for the morning to burn away the grey swirls. Occasionally gulls would potter into my circle of vision, look at me, squawk, and move on. There is no better song for your personal 7am apocalypse than 'Evening Of Light'.
Hills Of Katmandu (JDC Records) 1979
Luke Turner says: I think when John and I get invited by people younger than ourselves to go back to their houses, at the height of our enthusiasm we have in mind that what's in store is a night of bacchanal unseen since the heady days of New York in the 1970s... basically that John and I will be the two dudes we always post when writing about Los Campesinos!, so deeply into disco's dark and sensual heart that we won't notice the naked and oiled forms of both gender writhing around us, proffering grapes, coital gymnastics, fine wine (for me) and eccles cakes (for John... ah shit, he's had to give them up too... er... a fresh omelette). Of course it never actually turns out like that, but m'colleague driving the Traktor usually manages to rescue things for a moment with some Tantra, and especially this genius two track LP that features what is the greatest track ever written that isn't Aphrodite's Child's The Four Horsemen. Now where did I put my arseless chaps?
Cottonwoodhill (Bellaphon) 1971
John Doran says: It’s amazing how a lot of psych just sounds a bit fuzzy rather than anything that has any bearing on the actual psychedelic experience. But this is actually a lot more like it. Brainticket are pure 4am… if you’re planning on staying up at the coal face for another day or so. Just remember that this is what taking LSD makes normal music sound like. Actually listening to Cottonwoodhill when you’re on acid is pretty terrifying if we’re being truthful about it. Observe the advice on the inner sleeve of the album: “After listening to this album your friends won’t know you anymore.” And then heed the warning: “Only listen once a day to this record. Your brain might be destroyed.” I mean, just look at the poor girl on the cover art.
Architecture & Morality (Virgin) 1981
John Doran says: When all’s said and done you can’t go wrong with this one can you Luke? What a triumph…
Luke Turner: That you cannot. Humanity is, after all, at it's best when writing songs about telescopes, Joan Of Arc (two on this album) and sea fort principalities conveyed by synthesisers and rhythms that look toward a fragile horizon where a mushroom cloud might rise gracefully toward the heaves at any moment. It occurs to me that in an odd way John and I are a bit like OMD, though we're certainly better dancers.
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