We Love Homelands
Naturally I'm over the moon because Autechre are back and the good news is that their latest, eighth album for Warp,
, is actually fun to listen to. Their last one, that hefty mechanical beast
, was impressive but hard to connect with on, like, an emotional level and now sits in my collection, daring me to give it a spin, which I do every so often only to take it off because listening to it is too much like hard work and on the whole I prefer music that gives me instant gratification. I suppose I'm pretty shallow, which would explain why I like
's sleeve more than anything, with its pleasing peach and green and mauve colour scheme (designed by Alex Rutterford, the animation whiz who programmed that dazzling promo to "Gantz Graf"), and why, even though it's now ten years old, I still adore their majestic
album. In Iceland a few years ago, having bathed in the Blue Lagoon, a few of us drove back to Reykjavik at sunset with
playing on the stereo. The combination of this staggering lunar landscape, Autechre's alien symphonies and the tingling after-effects of the lagoon's sulphuric goodness made it one of the most incredible journeys I've ever taken. I think liquid acid could've been involved, too, but I can't be sure.
Anyway, even though you steel yourself in anticipation of god-knows-what,
doesn't bamboozle like their last two albums, nor is it as ostentatious: it's the pair's back-to-basics LP, a rugged and thoroughly mutant 70-minute electro-funk work-out that just sounds
in all the right ways. Some enterprising DJs should slide R&B a cappellas over the top to create insane bootlegs. What's more, Autechre play live this month for the first time in four years, so if you're in any of these cities, it's your duty to attend: London SE1 (April 14), Glasgow Arts School (15), Manchester Zoo (16) and Nottingham Stealth (17).
In Berlin at the end of January there was this really friendly American guy named Jay Haze who we kept bumping into all over the place. He had a goatee and wore a baseball cap and always went out of his way to give us directions or recommend cool parties or whatever. Turns out he's a shit-hot producer who has an excellent album called
Love For A Strange World
released this month on Kitty-Yo. He often collaborates with fellow minimalists like Ricardo Villalobos and Robag Wruhme but, because he loves to perform and sing in a raw, soulful croon, he has more in common with someone like Jamie Lidell. Compared to the dog's dinner of his debut, Lidell's new album,
, which is out in June, is a real surprise that's not a million miles away from Jamiroquai (but in a good way, okay?). Both he and Haze are on a similar freak-funk trip and their albums complement each other.
Love For A Strange World
is definitely a heavy record: the guy's lived a crazy life. He grew up in one of Pennsylvania's most polluted areas and suffered from a severe respiratory disease which means he has to take medication all the time. Then he moved to San Francisco and lived on the streets until things got so bad with drugs and friends dying that he pulled himself together and upped sticks to Amsterdam. But then he got kicked out of Holland and headed for Berlin, where he now feels totally at home. He's absorbed that city's sound, mixed it up with whatever's running through his mind, and poured everything into
Love For A Strange World
Um, Berlin…oh yeah, International Deejay Gigolos just moved their offices there from Munich. It's been interesting observing Gigolo turn into a parody of itself since electroclash. Now the label's become exactly what Hell always wanted it to be—a boring, super-fashionable model magnet—and one that seems to sweep up any old shit in the hope that a couple of pearls'll surface amongst the swine. They're about to release their best 12" in ages, Experimental Products' "Glowing In The Dark"; trouble is, this was made in Philadelphia in 1980, and Hell included it on the last
CD 18 months ago. He's compiled
now and there are a few diverting tracks by Umu, XLOVER and Mount Sims but you wonder why on earth Hell didn't include the song he's done with Grace Jones (maybe she hates it?). Then everyone would buy it.
Trash man Erol Alkan's first major DJ mix album,
A Bugged Out Mix
, is great as well. The first disc is all perky party electro-house from Steve Bug and Alter Ego and that track by New Fast Automatic Daffodils he's been going on about for three years. Disc two is his hippy ambient indie-pop session with cats like M83, The Concretes and Spacemen 3. The whole thing works nicely and I hope the result is that lots of people get turned on to all this great music.
Have you noticed how summer's on the way? That means the festival season is upon us and
particularly likes the look of Homelands, which takes place on Saturday, May 28, at The Bowl, Matterley Estate, Nr. Winchester, Hampshire, between 1pm-6am. I mean, Homelands used to be strictly dance but you can't do that these days. So they've changed with the times and now present their most eclectic line-up yet featuring The Streets, The Human League, The Bravery, Roots Manuva and Mylo. The best part is you can walk around the site and pop into any arena to hear the world's top DJs like Richie Hawtin, Miss Kittin, Tiefschwarz, Grandmaster Flash, Roni Size, 2 Many DJs and Felix Da Housecat. Seriously, there's literally something for everyone. Tickets cost £56.50 in advance (plus booking fee). For all the information you could possibly want, visit www.welovehomelands.com