Take Five: Rupert Lally

“I find lists like this extremely difficult,” says prolific Brighton-born, Switzerland-based electronic musician Rupert Lally. “Somehow the first couple of choices are always simple but then the last one or two, inevitably, end up being a compromise as to which albums make the cut and which don’t.” 

A year in the release schedule of Lally is an intense one. 2021 has been no different, his output culminating in the career high of Beyond The Night (SubExotic), a thrilling, noir journey into the shadows and fears of the night. Never one to rest on his laurels, Lally has no less than two albums scheduled for release on October 1, both imaginary soundtracks for Ray Bradbury novels – Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles – continuing an approach that has seen him produce scores for Frank Herbert’s Dune, J.G. Ballard’s High Rise and Lally’s own novella, Solid State Memories

rupertlally.bandcamp.com 

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters 

I spent three years learning classical guitar making almost no progress whatsoever, with a teacher who refused to teach us chords. A friend encouraged me to switch to playing bass guitar around the same time as my musical interest began to shift from hard rock towards jazz and funk. More by accident than design I ended up playing bass in my school’s newly formed jazz band. One of the tunes we would regularly play was ‘Chameleon’ by Herbie Hancock and I became so synonymous with playing the (synth) bassline at school concerts that when I began playing the bass again after many years absence, a lot of school friends asked if I could still play the piece – I can!  

At the time the album was hard to obtain on any other format than CD, so it became the first ever CD that I bought, before I even owned a CD player, so I made a tape copy at my step sister’s house, which I played over and over. 

It’s difficult to overstate the effect that hearing this had on me. Not just the music itself but also the arrangements, the analogue synth sounds, Harvey Mason’s drum grooves, the cornucopia of percussion sounds and instruments used by Bill Summers on the album – many of which I needed to look up to find out what they were, thereby igniting my interest in percussion at the same time. 

A friend that I played the album to described it as sounding like the soundtrack to the 70s animations in episodes of Sesame Street. He didn’t mean as a compliment, but it’s actually a very apt comparison. Many years later, I realised how much those wonderful psychedelic cartoons affected me as a small child and it’s another reason why I felt immediately at home with this album. 

Peter Gabriel – Passion 

Peter Gabriel’s music from his early work with Genesis to his early solo albums, with their pioneering use of the Fairlight CMI, had already had a huge impact on me as a teenager, and I’ve already mentioned my burgeoning interest in percussion from around that time, so in retrospect it’s surprising that I didn’t listen to this, Gabriel’s soundtrack to Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ, until I was in my first year at university.  

When I did, it blew my mind – the fusion of traditional rhythms and instrumentation from the Middle East with synths, samplers and David Rhodes’ understated guitar work was incredibly influential. For a while, I would listen to a cassette of this whilst I drifted off to sleep, with the music seeping into my dreams. 

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing…..

My introduction to DJ Shadow’s music was the inclusion of the track ‘Changeling’ on Bleeping With The NME, a free tape compilation given away with the NME in 1996. As fate would have it, another student in my university halls of residence was a massive Mo’ Wax fan and he kindly made me a tape of this album, plus Shadow’s early singles. I was completely hooked. Not just with the music itself but how it had been made using already outdated Akai samplers like the MPC-60 and S612 

A year or so later I would get hold of an old E-mu Emax sampler and discover first hand just how difficult it must have been to make tracks like these on old equipment with limited sampling time. Shadow’s drum programming continues to influence me today, not only how I program my own beats but also how I play drums live. 

Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children 

When I went to drama school after university, I had a lot friends, who were heavily into Warp Records stuff, so I’d already heard a lot of (and subsequently bought) quite a few Aphex Twin and Autechre records. Somehow, while I’d definitely heard both Boards Of Canada and Squarepusher’s music during that time, I didn’t start to listen to them properly until the publication of Rob Young’s book on the label in 2005.  

Boards Of Canada’s debut album, in particular, with its deliberate lo-fi sound quality that harked back to the public information films of my youth, struck a particular chord with me and would provide a massive amount of inspiration for my own solo work which I was then taking my first tentative steps towards. In many ways this album seemed to articulate a feeling that I had been groping towards for some time without really understanding what it was. I’d been using YouTube to research old TV shows and adverts that I remembered from childhood, to try to gain musical inspiration. 

A few months after I heard this album, The Wire magazine published an article about hauntology, mentioning Boards Of Canada. It was the first time I’d ever heard the term used. 

Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself 

I first heard Imogen Heap’s music in the film, The Holiday and immediately bought both this and the album she did with Guy Sigsworth as Frou Frou. There’s so much I love about this album: her voice, the lyrics which often remind me more of poems put to music and, of course, her amazing arrangements, programming and sound design. While she’s done lots of interesting stuff since, somehow nothing else has come close to this record for me. It’s the perfect example of intelligent pop electronica and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it. 

Interview: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

Take Five: Sad Man

sadman_kingofbeasts.jpg

Sad Man is the alias of Bournville-based Andrew Spackman. The last few years have seen Spackman deliver an incredibly prolific series of electronic albums that straddle the gulf between odd rhythmic gestures and jazz, the result being a suggestion that those two worlds aren’t necessarily so dissimilar or incompatible as they might first appear.

His latest album, The King Of Beasts, is due to be released on February 10 2020, and finds Spackman proffering a highly accessible, many-layered journey through the musical themes that have coloured his recent output, while placing a greater emphasis on traditional jazz reference points.

Further. spoke to Spackman about his formative musical influences, in the process no doubt distracting him from his work on what is probably another Sad Man album expected to land later this year. “It’s definitely not an exercise in being, or looking, cool!” he warns.

Geoff Love & His Orchestra – Big Western Movie Themes

My parents didn’t seem to have any particular interest in music. They were teenagers before the teenage revolution really got going, and so they still had quite an old-fashioned view of entertainment. My mum, however, was a big fan of musicals and westerns, and we had an old 1960s Radiogram that sat in the living room. It didn’t seem to get used much, but I was particularly fond of how you could stack the 7-inch records in such a way that once one finished the next would drop down on top of the previous record. That probably horrifies the purist vinyl collectors out there.

My parent owned a few records. Mostly they were compilation albums of movie music from the Music For Pleasure series on EMI. I particularly remember listening to this record, Big Western Movie Themes by Geoff Love & His Orchestra. Although the orchestration was probably very heavy-handed, it suited the bombastic scale of these western themes. When I listened I could see the barren landscapes of Spaghetti Westerns, the beating heat of rocky canyons, and sound of cowboy boots on the front step of the O.K. Corral. Beguiling stuff.

Mike Oldfield – Incantations

Up until the age of nine I shared a bedroom with my brother. He was much older than me and his taste in music would today be described as ‘Yacht Rock’, which is now rather cool, but back then, it was not. His stereo played host to a blur of Billy Joel, Christopher Cross, and Hall & Oates. In amongst this smothering smooth-fest sat a collection of Mike Oldfield albums: Incantations, Platinum, QE2

Even at the age of nine I preferred instrumental music. I liked listening and trying to understand how all the instruments wove together. Also, the idea that Mike Oldfield played all these instruments too fascinated me. I remembered watching him on Blue Peter and he had this extraordinary technique when playing the guitar and very long fingernails. The track that I particularly liked was the live version of a track called ‘Punkadiddle’, which has the most amazing guitar solo on it. I later learned that Mike Oldfield got that sound by playing his guitar through the tape heads of an old tape recorder to give that fantastic fuzz / distortion sound with seemingly endless sustain.

Incantations features the vocals of Maddy Prior on ‘Part 2 – Song of Hiawatha’ and strings arranged by David Bedford. Like many of his albums, it is a cocktail of styles and instrumentation, with no fixed genre reference point. I’m not sure if it completely lasts the rest of time, but putting it context, he pretty much did everything before any one else had even got out of bed.

The Albion Band – Lark Rise To Candleford

When I was about 15 years old my school staged the National Theatre’s adaption of Lark Rise To Candleford. The play featured music by the Albion Band, made up of Fairport Convention’s Ashley Hutchings, Shirley Collins, Martin Carthy and others. I had a very minor role in it, but it brought me into contact with folk rock music, played on this occasion by an excellent line up of local musicians. A few years later I went on the play for several folk rock bands too.

My love of folk music has continued, despite it seeming incongruous with my electronic music output as Sad Man. I love The Unthanks, This Is The Kit, Kate Rusby and Lau.

The The – Soul Mining

My first introduction to The The came when I was 19 and I had just bought a Triumph Spitfire. It was a beautiful green colour, and despite the constant smell of petrol, the ill-fitting doors and the extortionate insurance cost, I loved that car. It also had a very nice Pioneer stereo with speakers fitted into the doors, which, when you were in the driving seat, weren’t far off ear height.

I would often drive around the country roads with the top down late at night, to and from a pub where I worked in the evenings. On the stereo was The The. First was the Infected album (my first introduction to Neneh Cherry) but then later I discovered Soul Mining with its use of the Roland TR 606, pounding drums and chanting by Zeke Manyika. I think The The are the only band that I’ve ever had a fan thing for. I saw them play at the Albert Hall with Jonny Marr on Guitar. They were perfection.

David Toop – Ocean Of Sound Volume 3 – Booming On Pluto: Electro For Droids

When I moved to Bristol in 1997 my musical tastes had already travelled through rock music, folk rock, progressive rock, shoegaze, funk rock, grunge and indie music. Apart from the odd album from The Art of Noise, Tangerine Dream and some others, very little of what I listened to was electronic.

The Gloucester Road in Bristol had several second-hand record shops, and when I moved there and started making experimental and electronic music I also started buying CDs and records and expanding my repertoire: records by Scanner, Black Dog, Jack Dangers, anything on Warp records, Mu-Ziq , DJ Shadow, Jimi Tenor, Black Dog, Red Snapper, Labradford, Plaid…

I bought Booming On Pluto from the bargain bucket and loved its electro sound. Afrika Bambaataa, To Rococo Rot and A Guy Called Gerald all feature on this album and it’s a real classic. I guess once I’d heard this, the future of music for me was no longer guitars and distortion pedals, although I’m still very partial to a good distortion pedal (ProCo Rat, ZVE Fuzz Factory, Fuzz Face).

The King Of Beasts by Sad Man is released on February 10 2020.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.