Welwala (break_fold)

break_fold is an electronic producer based in the North of England. He was a veteran of the 2000s touring circuit, but swopped bands, guitars and service station pasties for beats, delays and reberb in 2015. His self-titled third album was one of my favourite albums of 2020, and you can find it on Bandcamp and Spotify. Tim Hann (his real name) subsequently released two tracks in June 2021.

Welwala (his latest single/January 2022) is about seeing something from two different points of view. Structured around two contrasting synth lines with focus shifting between them, layered with an insistent drum track in a sequence that hints at narrative evolution. Source

It’s an excellent track (which I was fortunate to hear before its official release) and I’m also pleased to have Tim as a Facebook friend now.

Favourite Albums 2021

My listening to new albums has not been as comprehensive as I would have liked this year, but here are 24 great albums released in 2021 for your aural pleasure. I will write about the ones that are not linked to a post in the early months of 2022.

My standout favourite album of 2021 is Collapsed in Sunbeams (Arlo Parks).

All 24 of my favourite albums are listed below in alphabetical order of artist:

30 (Adele)

Collapsed in Sunbeams (Arlo Parks)

Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish)

Young Heart (Birdy)

Submerged (Cousin Silas)

The Lockdown Sessions (Elton John)

Flat White Moon (Field Music)

Medicine At Midnight (Foo Fighters)

Senjutsu (Iron Maiden)

Apocalypse: Lifting of the Veil (Jack Hertz)

Flock (Jane Weaver)

Pink Noise (Laura Mvula)

Californian Soil (London Grammar)

Cinema (Ludovico Einaudi)

As The Love Continues (Mogwai)

Idiot Prayer (Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace)

Graz (Nils Frahm)

Immigrants (Nitin Sawhney)

Who Am I? (Pale Waves)

First Farewell (Peggy Seeger)

Bright Magic (Public Service Broadcasting)

More Signals, More Dreams (Puppy Bordiga)

Raise The Roof (Robert Plant & Alison Krauss)

Great Spans of Muddy Time (William Doyle)

This post is a work in progress which will be updated in the early months of 2022.

Albums that missed out in 2021

You can see my favourite albums of 2021 here, these are the ones that just missed out for a variety of reasons. They’re all good, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

Lost (Cousin Silas)

Riding on the Tide of Love (Deacon Blue)

Fear of an Obtuse Earth (Home Brewed Universe)

Consequences (Joan Armatrading)

Home (Rhye)

= (Ed Sheeran)

Surrender of Silence (Steve Hackett)

Under a Mediterranean Sky (Steve Hackett)

The Future Bites (Steven Wilson)

I Don’t Live Here Anymore (The War on Drugs)

Mars Perseverance (Various Artists)

Blue Weekend (Wolf Alice)

This post is a work in progress which will be updated in the early months of 2022.

The National Anthem (Radiohead)

The National Anthem (Radiohead)

There are times when you need an uplifting song to raise your mood, at other times a sad song can emotionally connect with particular feelings and be more meaningful. Indeed, many people consider sad songs better and deeper than happy songs, as they speak profoundly to the human condition.

Just sometimes though, we need to rage and let our feelings out, as this can be very cathartic. Here’s a Radiohead song does just that, it’s a song of rage from their album Kid A released in 2000.

Everyone
Everyone around here
Everyone is so near
It’s holding on
It’s holding on

Everyone
Everyone is so near
Everyone has got the fear
It’s holding on
It’s holding on

It’s holding on
It’s holding on
It’s holding on

Thom Yorke sings short, ambiguous lyrics, using voice distortion and a feedback echo that creates a sense of isolation and fear. The looping heavy bass line that leads the song was composed by Yorke when he was 16 years old. The early electronic instrument called ondes Martenot, played by Jonny Greenwood, was inspired by Olivier Messiaen. The free jazz-style brass section was inspired by the work of Charles Mingus. Added to that are some interlaced sound effects and mysterious samples creating quite a unique track.

Tarkus (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)

This classic album by Emerson, Lake & Palmer was released on 14 June 1971, and I still don’t fully understand what it’s all about. But Tarkus is prog rock, and so it doesn’t really matter. Overblown, pretentious, and glorious. I probably drove my parents mad playing this vinyl LP.

The first side (yes, this is before CDs) comprises a long, seven part piece that is open to interpretation. Towards the end there’s a contrapuntal section, when the two parts are separated by the left and right channels so you can switch between the two using the balance control.

There’s a variety of tracks on the second side, including an obligatory church organ, de rigueur for any self-respecting prog rock keyboard player of the 70s.

The album ends with a wonderfully exuberant rock and roll tribute to engineer Eddy Offord, Are You Ready Eddy?

Are you ready, Eddy, to turn out rock-and-roll?
Are you ready, Eddy, ready to rock-and-roll?
Are you ready, Eddy, to give me some of your soul?

Are you ready, Eddy, to pull those faders down?
Are you ready, Eddy, to pull those faders down?
Are you ready, Eddy, to turn your scully round?

Not the greatest prog rock album ever, but worth a revisit nevertheless.

“Listen to the silence…”

Radio, live transmission
Radio, live transmission.

Listen to the silence, let it ring on
Eyes, dark grey lenses frightened of the sun
We would have a fine time living in the night
Left to blind destruction
Waiting for our sight

And we would go on as though nothing was wrong
And hide from these days we remained all alone
Staying in the same place, just staying out the time
Touching from a distance
Further all the time

Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio

Well I could call out when the going gets tough
The things that we’ve learnt are no longer enough
No language, just sound, that’s all we need know, to synchronise
love to the beat of the show

And we could dance

Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio.

Disorder (Ian Curtis)

Disorder is the opening track of the debut album Unknown Pleasures (1979) by Joy Division. The song sets the tone for this post-punk masterpiece, with perceptive and raw lyrics by singer Ian Curtis.

I’ve started reading the book So This is Permanence, an anthology of the intensely personal writings of one of the most enigmatic and influential songwriters and performers of the second half of the twentieth century.

The image is of his original notes for the opening song, with the lyrics below.

I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
These sensations barely interest me for another day
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away

It’s getting faster, moving faster now, it’s getting out of hand
On the tenth floor, down the back stairs, it’s a no man’s land
Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow

What means to you, what means to me, and we will meet again
I’m watching you, I’m watching her, I’ll take no pity from your friends
Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling
I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling.

Unknown Pleasures (Joy Division)

Joy Division‘s classic and influential album Unknown Pleasures (released in 1979) revealed a profoundly dark poet and a starkly grim realist in Ian Curtis, a very different voice in music at the time, one who added deep insight and intelligence to the post-punk movement. It’s one of my influential albums.

It’s a timeless debut album that was released to widespread acclaim, and its reputation has continued to grow over the years. Owing much to Martin Hannett’s landmark production, it’s a work of dark beauty and creative energy. Bass and drums feature prominently, with piercing guitar lines and a haunting delivery of lyrics that resonate with alienation and despair.

This is a very raw and visceral album, nothing like it had ever been heard before and it remains hugely influential.

See also: Remembering Ian Curtis

Holy Saturday 2021

Wait for it…it’s not Easter yet!

Today is Holy Saturday, not Easter Saturday. Easter starts with the resurrection of Jesus when darkness is turned to light. In stillness, earth awaits the resurrection.

For Holy Saturday this year, I simply share some of the German libretto with an English translation (as I did yesterday for Good Friday).

67 Recitative [Bass, Tenor, Alto, Soprano] and Chorus

Bass:
Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht.
Now is the Lord brought to peace.
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!
My Jesus, goodnight!

Evangelist:
Die MĂĽh ist aus, die unsre SĂĽnden ihm gemacht.
The trouble is over, which our sins caused for him.
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!
My Jesus, goodnight!

Alto:
O selige Gebeine,
O sacred bones,
Seht, wie ich euch mit BuĂź und Reu beweine,
See how I weep for you with penance and remorse,
Dass euch mein Fall in solche Not gebracht!
That my fall has brought you into such distress!
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!
My Jesus, goodnight!

Soprano:
Habt lebenslang,
As long as life lasts,
Vor euer Leiden tausend Dank,
Have a thousand thanks for your sufferings,
Dass ihr mein Seelenheil so wert geacht’.
For having valued so highly the salvation of my soul
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!
My Jesus, goodnight!

68 Chorus

Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder
We sit down with tears
Und rufen dir im Grabe zu:
And call to you in your tomb:
Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh!
Rest gently, gently rest!
Ruht, ihr ausgesognen Glieder!
Rest, you exhausted limbs!
Euer Grab und Leichenstein
Your grave and tombstone
Soll dem ängstlichen Gewissen
For our anguished conscience shall be
Ein bequemes Ruhekissen
A pillow that gives peace and comfort
Und der Seelen Ruhstatt sein.
And the place where our souls find rest.
Höchst vergnügt schlummern da die Augen ein.
With the greatest content there our eyes will close in sleep.