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I’m currently cruising at 558 miles per hour, at an altitude of 38,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, listening to techno on a nice pair of headphones. Life doesn’t get better than this. Back in the USSA in a few hours!

record war.

I see that Carl over at the Impostume has taken on my challenge to do the ultra-cheap-record-shopping thing, and we have a bit of a rivalry going on at the moment. He’s put up a valiant effort thus far, with some great one and two-quid finds. But I have to say I have the edge over Carl here because he’s in the UK and I’m in the US, and what with the pound-dollar exchange rate being so abysmal–one pound is almost two bucks right now–I’m almost guaranteed to win. Ha ha! Add in the fact that I’ve been living in California for the past month, which means weekly trips to the mighty Amoeba.

I bought 15 used techno 12″s yesterday and spent 60 dollars, which is a bit pricey by my standards–an average of four dollars per record!–but I found some fantastic stuff, particularly of the vintage Detroit persuasion, which I’ll scan up here soon.

Best blog of the moment? There are several contenders, but I’d have to say my current favorite is a chemistry blog called Tender Button, by Dylan Stiles, a former classmate of mine at MIT. If anything makes me miss working in labs, it’s this.

THREE DOLLAR RECORDS

In my world, three dollar records are a serious splurge. But I made an exception for these two exceptional pieces of late-period post-punk:

The Art of Noise – Close-Up [ZTT, 1984]

Someone who knows more about the history of this 12″ (paging Blissblog) would probably know how many different iterations there were. According to Discogs, there were at least seven different pressings of this record in 1984 on various labels, in true bonkers Art of Noise style. Some had different runout grooves; some had picture sleeves. To make matters more mind-melting, some pressings of Close-Up had different track listings from other pressings. Mine, in the “Incidental” series, has “Close-Up” on the A-side and “Close-Up (Hop)” on the B-side; another pressing on ZTT (with the exact same catalog number, same year, and same title) has “Closely Closely (Enough’s Enough)” on the A-side and “Close-Up (Hop)” and “A Time to Hear (Who’s Listening?)” on the B-side. In addition to the usual charmingly oblique Morley sleevenotes, the A-side of the vinyl is etched with the words “INTO TROUBLE,” and the B-side is etched with “AND OUT AGAIN.” I love that about records; you just don’t get the same bizarro secret-message effect with mp3 downloads (I suppose you could key in cryptic ID3 tags, but it’s just not the same…) I half-expected holograms and third eyes to appear when I set it on the decks. The much-vaunted new Art of Noise box set doesn’t seem to include “Close-Up,” but I could be wrong about this. Those bastards have fooled me before.

Orange Juice – What Presence?! [Polydor, 1984]

In which Edwyn Collins unleashes his inner Bryan Ferry/Velvet Fog. What a crooner. My copy is missing the free postcard advertised on the sleeve. Ripped off! I’m firing off an angry letter to Polydor. At least they still exist, unlike my irate letter to Neutron Records, who have still not responded to my effort on this blog last year to join the ABC Fan Club (circa 1983) as advertised on the “Tears are Not Enough” sleeve. As long as we’re on a tangent about ABC…check out this photo of Martin Fry, hair slicked back, in an iridescent mauve silk suit, sitting in a DeLorean, for chrissakes, with the doors flung open–what a mack!!

Where am I? I’m not really sure. All I know is that I’m heading to California. On Friday, I’ll be in a parking lot somewhere in San Jose, covering a rare appearance by the fearsome robot wrecking-crew Survival Research Laboratories.

In (slightly) related news, there’s an article by me in the Voice art section this week on the Miss Rockaway Armada.