Letter #33

Good morning / afternoon / evening everyone,

I hope you’ve had a lovely week. This week’s letter has got some serious punch to it. So much so it made me want a drink. Welcome to the weekend 🔥 .


–  🎼 –
TL:DR section…

Stuff to click: read the perfect Mark E. Smith obituary, listen to Tim Garcia’s Pharaoh Sanders mix, watch Boiler Room interview with Optimo.

Music from: Led Zeppelin, The Fall, The Juan McLean, Isley Brothers, Carl Craig, Bowie, LCD Soundsystem, Underworld, Justin Timberlake (for real), Photek, Shabaka Hutchings, Vashti Bunyan. It’s a belter. 

– ✏️ –

When I was 21, I spent a few months trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I’d graduated, and quite literally couldn’t have picked a worse time to try and find a job; it was 2007. So, I did what any English Lit. graduate would do; I had a faux-existential crisis. It was faux, because I don’t think I really questioned my purpose or meaning, but rather because I liked the idea of having an existential crisis. So for pretty much every day for four months, I’d spent the morning searching for and applying for any jobs I could find, and then I’d spend the afternoon drinking excessive amounts of coffee, and writing  pretty dreadful fiction. The soundtrack was pretty regimented – Kraftwerk, followed by The Fall. The news this week that Mark E. Smith had passed away took me right back to being sat in a garden in Nottingham, writing awful prose, totally wired, listening to Totally Wired. Of everything I’ve read in the last few days, this obituary felt like it nailed Smith as he was in my head. 

I was putting an article together at work this week and remembered something I wanted to reference, but couldn’t find the link – I could only remember putting it in one of these letters. So I trawled back through them to find it, and in the process realised that in the early days I used to write much more about why I’d chosen specific songs. Recently I think I’ve become a bit more cryptic, so this week I thought I’d go back to the old ways. 

Alongside looking over old letters, I’ve also spent time this week going through loads of old playlists on Spotify. Albums I’d saved, discographies, mixtapes, compilations – I must’ve gone through close to 200. What I found weird is how you can listen to a song and at one point in life not be that fussed about it, but equally listen to it at a different point in life and it makes sense. I’ve been reading Anatomy of a Song this week, which is a collection of articles from theWall Street Journal that take a song and interview some of the people involved with making the song and ask them about the process. There’s some absolutely fascinating stories (one of my favourites being that Reach Out, by the Four Tops was Berry Gordy trying to get the Four Tops to imitate Dylan’s style of singing!). One of the chapters is on Light My Fire by The Doors. I like The Doors, but I’ve never really been too bothered about Light My Fire, until I heard the band put it into another context. I’ve always listened to it as I thought was; early psychedelic rock. Then the band described what they were trying to do on the song, and how they were doing it (replacing bass with Rhodes, channeling Coltrane), and all of a sudden I heard different parts of the song. 

I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on a film about culture – and it inevitably had a reference to Bowie in it, which reminded me of the excellent James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) remix of Love Is Lost. That in turn reminded me of the phenomenal Theo Parrish remix of LCD Soundsystem’s Nike project 45:33.

I was also reminded of a story from friend this week, who told me about the first time she met Erol Alkan (hi Liz), which reminded me of Trash, and subsequently I disappeared into a YouTube rabbit hole. This is where the brilliant DJ Koze remix of Underworld comes from, it’s also where I remembered the Vashti Bunyan track from too, which in turn reminded me of my dad (he’s a fan of 70s classic Just Another Diamond Day). That then reminded me of Zeppelin, and finding out that Mancuso used to play Trampled Under Foot at the Loft. So that went in too. 

I’ve read a few really good things this week, including the latest instalment of the RA series The Art of DJing, on Roman Flugel. The whole series is excellent, and really insightful into the minds of people who are proper selectors. 

I’ve recently started a new job and I’m working in Clerkenwell (all new to me), and a friend at work told me about MagCulture, which is just around the corner from the office. A dangerous place for someone like me. On a similar note, there was also a great article in The New York Times on the Hyman Archive, which is an archive in London dedicated to preserving magazines – from the most obscure (drunk Japanese men falling asleep in public), to those that are mirrors to culture (i-D back in the day). 

On the culture note, this feature on academic cultural trailblazer Stuart Hall is worth a read if you like what I usually ramble on about – it’s nice to know that my view on culture (that it gives a sense of belonging), what it means (transformation and meaning), and how it works is as old as time. Finding this article (and learning more about Hall) is a lovely validation that I’m not alwayswrong 😄  .

NPR published a long piece from James Toth on understanding his constant desire to listen to more music – to the point of obsession. Definitely worth a read(and stick with it, it gets a bit unnecessarily hipster in places, but it’s worth pushing on). 

Finally, after last week’s glowing review of All My Friends, RA has gone and published a review of the original party Lucky Cloud Sound System, which is much more eloquent than mine, and does a better job of conveying why those parties are so special.

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.

– 📄 –
  1. The Doors – Light My Fire
  2. Damon – Poor Poor Genie
  3. Led Zeppelin – Trampled Under Foot
  4. The Fall – Lost in Music
  5. Gramme – Like U
  6. The Juan McLean – Running Back to You
  7. !!! – Pardon my Freedom (Maurice Fulton instrumental)
  8. Cerrone – Hooked on You (Reflex revision)
  9. The Isley Brothers – Live It Up, Pts. 1&2
  10. B.T. Express – Peace Pipe 
  11. Phreek – I’ma Big Freak [R*U*1*2]
  12. Ceoe – 1981
  13. Leon Vynehall – Butterflies
  14. Carl Craig – Goodbye World
  15. David Bowie – Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy)
  16. LCD Soundsystem – 45:33 (Theo Parrish’s Space Cadet remix)
  17. James Pants – We’re Through
  18. Underworld – I Exhale (DJ Koze remix)
  19. Justin Timberlake – Filthy 
  20. Pye Corner Audio – Northern Safety Route 
  21. Roman Flügel – Wilkie 
  22. Son Dexter – Sonrise Dance
  23. Fiium Shaarrk – Conundrums
  24. Photek – The Hidden Camera 
  25. Melanie De Biasio – Let Me Love You
  26. Shabaka Hutchings – Black Skin, Black Masks
  27. Vibration Black Finger – Goodbye NYC
  28. EABS – Neikochana 
  29. Laurence Pike – Life Hacks
  30. Vashti Bunyan – Train Song 

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

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