widg‧et /ˈwɪdʒɪt/ [wij-it] -noun: Pointless ramblings from the New Forest. Obviously complete & utter Rubbish. Why must I contibute to all this endless talk about me? My self-indulgent knees, spilling themselves all over the internet. Obviously i am Jon and his hair, I AM HIM!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dance to the Music (Part Six)

Welcome back to my shamelessly self-promotingly autobiographical trek through the unquestionably best music of the last few years. We've nearly reached the home straight.

2001Miss Kittin & the Hacker - The First Album
Bis - Music For a Stranger World
Ash - Free All Angels
Kate Rusby - Little Lights
Anu Malik - Aśoka OST
(The Shins - Oh Inverted World)

Miss Kittin & the Hacker are a Franco-Swiss potty mouthed twosome, who express themselves via bleepy synth squelches and naughty words. Simultaneously funny, filthy, sexy & strangely affecting, they declared Frank Sinatra to be dead when he wasn't, but he is now. They must be prophets.

I'd been a fan of Bis' exuberant pop stylings since their first 'unsigned' Top of the Pops appearance. I heard the lead track from this mini album on the John Peel show at work one night, along with the peerless, but unaccountably unknown, Cowcube. This is where they started getting interesting, less shouty more Human Leaguey.

I spent much of 2001 chasing Ash around the country after a half-sleepy chance viewing of the Big Breakfast informed me that an instore set in London coincided with a fortuitously pre-planned daytrip to the capital. Despite being impressed by their first two albums (less so by the third) I'd never seen Ash live until then. I must have seen them seven times during the year, counting festivals & the like, which may have been a little excessive considering their latest album turned out to be a bit pants. Anyway this record is a warm blast of summery wind & sea air to the ears, but less painful than that would actually be.

Here comes Kate Rusby with some good old Yorkshire folky fun, before she was soiled by Ronan sodding Keating. I have a soft spot for the plaintive, brass tinged final track (My Young Man), having a Leodensian mother and spending most of my youth playing euphonium in brass bands. A fine mix of the traditional and new, fiddles, flutes, guitars, the aforementioned brass and sung in a broad Sheffield accent.

Aśoka - I surprised myself by choosing this Bollywood soundtrack over any others. I've never been much of a fan of Anu Malik's songs, generally preferring the works of AR Rahman, Jatin-Lalit or Ismail Darbar, but most of their scores have one or two tracks that are a little dodgy or overly twee for my tastes. Here, not a duff track, considering the film is a period piece the music is oddly contemporary, but using mostly old, acoustic instruments it keeps one foot in the past. I remember going to see Aśoka at the Genesis on Whitechapel High Street and walking the wrong way up Mile End Road, after getting off the tube and becoming confused by the shop numbers. I eventually got there in time to annoy the other punters by singing along with the catchy tunes, altogether now, "San sanana nana, san sanana nan. Jaa jaa re jaa re jaa re, jaa re pawan..."

Honorary mention: The Shins.
I can't consign 2001 to the past without mentioning this album. I didn't get into it until fairly recently, after my mate Bo won me over by constantly playing the Garden State soundtrack (which contains a couple of tracks from this record) on endless repeat.

2002David Bowie - Heathen
Cornelius - Point
Angelique Kidjo - Black Ivory Soul
Sleater Kinney - One Beat
Beth Gibbons & Rustin' Man - Out of Season

I tried to get a non blog writing, David Bowie obsessed friend to compose a review of this album, but she declined, so you're stuck with my lowly observations. Though she did want me to point out that the best song is 'Cactus'. A strange choice, I feel, despite its greatness, as it's a Pixies cover and thus not penned by the veteran chameleon himself. This is a stunning return to form, not that his 90s albums were shabby by any means, but not on a par with his extraordinary run of 70s ones. It's an edgy, atmospheric listening experience, and he's wearing a snazzy suit on the cover, bonus.

More Japanese weirdness, courtesy of Cornelius, complete with the sound of dripping taps, coughs & splutters and named after a Planet of the Apes ape. I was privy to the Cornelius live experience at the Shepherd's Bush Empire (home of Wogan) in 2002. Mind bending images flashed across the back of the stage as strobing lights induced a kind of hypnotic trance and feet shuffled along to the jittery beat.

See, I told you we'd come back to Ms Kidjo, so here we are. The live performance of some of these tracks was my highlight of last year's Live8, from the Africa Calling concert, relegated to out-in-the-sticks Cornwall. The Eden Project was a much better setting than dingy old Hyde Park. A mixture of rhythms from Benin & Brazil, with lyrics in a combination of Fon (Fɔngbe) & French. It has a much more varied pallet of sounds than her previous records, with some excellent stomping music & tender ballads (not that I have a clue what she's on about without consulting the translations in the booklet).

Sleater-Kinney is the best band named after a road that my mate Hockey has driven down. Sadly now kaput, I managed to see them live last year on their 'The Woods' tour at Koko (formerly the Camden Palace) and was most impressed by their t-shirts. Even though their last album acquired rave reviews from a music press that largely ignored them in the past, I still prefer the upbeat shoutiness & catchy choruses of this one, oh oh oh!

Beth Gibbons, the lead vocalist of the not very prolific Portishead gets a chance to shine on this collection of dreamy, country-tinged ditties. Along with collaborator Rustin' Man (Paul Webb) she conjures a dark & brooding landscape of longing & regret. As autumn kicks down the door to give summer a damn good throttling, this is a perfect companion to have during those long, lonely winter nights.


Blogger Andy said...

The road as far as I remember was wider than the average English A Road but with a 25mph speed limit on it. I didn't realise until half-way along, so I though 50mph was a nice safe conservative speed. D'oh

9:43 am

Blogger AlphIANo said...

Ha! Hurray for endless repeat playings of CDs! And also for dead wrestlers x

2:05 pm

Blogger AlphIANo said...

ANF for getting drunk at Sleat-Kin and pissing off a load of toffs!

10:53 pm

Blogger Jenniedee said...

"San sanana nana, san sanana nan. Jaa jaa re jaa re jaa re, jaa re pawan...LAA LAA LAA, I still lURve you tHE gIRL fROM maaaaars!!!"

1:43 pm


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