The Bassturd feat. The Fantastic Plastics – What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?

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When is it appropriate to stop listening to Christmas songs in the twilight period between December 25 and New Year? In our house, it’s only about now that we start going back to our old playlists, still slipping in the odd cheeky spin of a few festive Christmas classics if it feels like the seasonal spirit might be in danger of slipping away from us.

This is a long way of justifying why I’m only just getting around to writing about ‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’, a collaboration between The Fantastic Plastics and The Bassturd which forms part of the latter’s dizzyingly ambitious project 2019: The Year Of The Turd, which saw the secretive and industrious musician releasing a new track every single day in 2019. This track was number 337. Details on the full project can be reached through the Bandcamp stream below.

I didn’t do a rundown of my favourite albums of 2019, but if I had, The Fantastic Plastic’s sublime Malfunction from October would have been right up there near the top. I’ve followed this band since they first got in touch with me hawking their debut album Devolver in 2015 and their mix of high-energy pop, jagged guitars, retro synths and punky vocals has been a staple part of my listening diet ever since. As for The Bassturd, according to the bio, “The Bassturd was born, and now occasionally plays music. He does not care for deep house or cucumbers. Influences include alcohol, cigarettes, psilocybin and cats.” So there you go: not one for cucumber fans.

‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’ consists of brilliant, effortlessly evocative one-note synth melodies, obligatory jingle bells, an unexpected banjo conclusion and a chunky beat, all infused with a certain lo-fi charm. Topping that is the kind of infectious, wry and adept observational lyrics that Tyson and Miranda from The Fantastic Plastics have made their own, the lyrics covering everything from the disappointment at never getting kissed under the mistletoe to the perpetually-overheard statement that people seem to start putting their decorations up ever earlier with each passing year. At its heart, the song is a deft commentary on the over-commercialism of the modern Christmas, dressed, as The Fantastic Plastics know best, as a smart electronic pop song.

Listen to ‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’ at Bandcamp below.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

YOVA – Moondog

YOVA are a five-piece group centred around the hypnotic vocal of Jova Radevska, whose near-whispered delivery is inflected with an effortless, mesmerising post-R&B soulfulness.

On their debut track ‘Moondog’, Radevska’s haunting voice is offset by a shimmering, sparse accompaniment from Alex Thomas (drums), Grumbling Fur’s Daniel O’Sullivan (bass, Mellotron and programming), Martin McDougall (kalimba) and PJ Harvey acoloyte Rob Ellis on Ondes Martenot. The result is something rooted in earthly concerns of forgiveness and emotional upheaval yet positioned with a grandeur that is entirely astral in its breadth.

Presaging a remix EP in November and a full album in 2020, YOVA today revealed the hauntingly noir Christian Barnett-directed video for ‘Moondog’, draped in vintage monochrome texture and jerky motion reminiscent of the earliest silent movies. Watch the video below.

Words: Mat Smith

Further. : Quarterly Report Q1 2019 & Playlist

Further. launched in January 2019. Its objective was to create a place where I could review things that caught my attention but which didn’t ‘fit’ Documentary Evidence, or where I didn’t get to cover that particular release for Electronic Sound.

During the first quarter of the year I reviewed 15 albums or singles, published one interview, and included a guest review written by Erasure’s Vince Clarke. It was a modest start to the blog, a testing of the water if you will. I will try harder during the second quarter.

Below is the full list of content published during the first quarter. There’s also an accompanying Spotify playlist including tracks from each record (where available on that platform), along with ‘Gallery’ by Californian electronic pop artist Dresage which completely passed me by at the time.

Reviews

Kaada – ZombieLars (Soundtrack) (Mirakel Recordings)
Kamaal Williams – New Heights / Snitches Brew (Black Focus Records)
The Silver Field – Rooms (O Genesis)
TOTM – Bliss / Blurred (Flickering Lights)
Karolina Rose – Invicta (Violet Sunset Records)
Neu Gestalt – Controlled Substances (Alex Tronic Records)
Lucy Mason – Flashback Romance (self-released)
Hugh Marsh – Violinvocations (Western Vinyl)
Bayonne – Drastic Measures (City Slang)
Modular Project – 1981 (hfn music)
Evelyn Glennie/ Roly Porter – One Day Band 17 (Trestle Records)
Maja S. K. Ratkje – Sult (Rune Grammofon)
d’Voxx- Télégraphe (DiN) – reviewed by Vince Clarke
Kilchhofer / Anklin – Moto Perpetuo (Marionette)
Jonteknik – Electricity (The People’s Electric)

Interview
The Silver Field

Playlist
Spotify

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Jonteknik – Electricity

To mark the fortieth anniversary of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Jonteknik (Jon Russell) has recorded a tribute in the form of a cover version of the band’s first single, ‘Electricity’, which was originally released by Factory in May 1979.

Russell is no stranger to the work of OMD, having worked with the band’s Paul Humphreys, remixing their 2013 ‘Metroland’ single and covering ‘Of All The Things We’ve Made’ on last year’s Alternative Arrangements LP. In Jokteknik’s hands, the track’s distinctive melody is slowed down a notch, shimmering its path across a bed of rich and detailed electronics instead of the original’s post-punk framework.

Andy McCluskey from OMD has often recounted a story that OMD nabbed the idea (and melody) for ‘Electricity’ from Kraftwerk’s ‘Radioactivity’, and in Russell’s new arrangement at its more languid pace you can hear that umbilical link between the two tracks, deploying vocodered vocals and the vocal chord loops that both bands used to different degrees as hallmarks of their sound. That Russell has also worked with Kraftwerk’s Wolfgang Flür in the past is no surprise.

‘Electricity’ by Jonteknik will be released on March 26 2019 by The People’s Electric. The track will be exclusively available here.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Kamaal Williams – New Heights / Snitches Brew

Last years’s debut Kamaal Williams album, The Return, showcased the jazz wizardry of keyboardist Henry Wu, recently of dissolved group Yussef Kamaal. That LP operated on the funkiest fringes of the new jazz renaissance, and this new 12-inch takes that approach two steps further.

The A-side cut ‘New Heights (Visions Of Aisha Malik)’, co-produced by Darkhouse Family, is a serene, laidback deep cut dominated by wandering piano clusters and a robust rhythm section, through which unexpected sounds are threaded – little percussion gestures, meditative synth strings – but never in a way that takes a focus away from the core trio sound. It at once sounds faithful to classic jazz but in a manner that nods firmly in the direction of hip-hop.

On the flip, the cheekily-named ‘Snitches Brew’ with guitarist Mansur Brown is a dexterous headlong rush into a psychedelic wilderness, echoing the Miles Davis experiments that yielded the track its title. ‘Snitches Brew’ is dominated by an unfaltering electronic bassline and restless, shuffling drum pattern from Dexter Hercules over which Brown’s liquefied guitar patterns wheel freely. As a counterpoint to the relative calm of ‘New Heights’, it couldn’t be more different – but that’s what makes Wu’s Kamaal Williams so refreshing.

New Heights / Snitches Brew is released today by Black Focus Records

Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.