Legendary drinking establishment The Social, one of the finest-sounding bars in London in our view, suggest 10 tracks that will blow out the cobwebs and set you up nicely for 2016.
Underworld “I Exhale”
First new single in six years, first new music since they soundtracked the Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2012. Sounds like the Fall produced by the mad liquid robot from Terminator 2. Ludicrously life-affirming.
As heard spliced into the Chemical Brothers’ Christmas Day mix for 6 Music, this 1980 record by Switzerland’s finest export (Toblerone aside) sounds more and more like the future every year.
David Bowie “Warszawa”
This list could have been made up entirely of Bowie records – I imagine most people’s current playlists would be made up just like that. Low is pretty much a perfect record – anyone who skips the portentous, ambient second half really is missing the whole picture. Rewatching the phenomenal Five Years documentary – specifically the section on the Berlin years ’76-’77 – somehow manages to heighten the insane magic of Low and its sister records.
David Bowie “I Can’t Give Everything Away”
Blackstar is a hell of a record, no question. The final track though is something else. Sod the messages he was trying to pass on – it’s just a blissful piece of music; a 69 year-old musician stretching right out and letting go. God, we’re going to miss him.
If you can imagine Spiritualized soundtracking the inside workings of a beehive, you’re pretty close to this record. Which is basically a bunch of musicians associated with Spiritualized writing music to be played inside an award winning artwork (by Wolfgang Buttress) that recreated a giant beehive for people to walkthrough. Incredibly hypnotic – proper drone music.
The Magnetic North “Signs”
The Magnetic North are – loosely – a psychogeographical/autobiographical concept band. Their first album was a musical travelogue inspired by singer Erland Cooper’s home of Orkney. Their second takes guitarist Simon Tong’s upbringing in Skelmersdale as its starting point. Skem, as its known locally, was a failing new town that became the European home of Transcendental Meditation in the mid ’80s. This record is beautiful; it soars high above the town and observing the oil and water mix of locals and wide-eyed TM followers from above.
Floating Points “Peroration Six”
Although hovering dangerously close to the door marked ‘jazz’, the Floating Points record is a thing of wonder. The album – Elaenia – was inspired by Talk Talk’s peerless Laughing Stock. It’s an influence you can hear directing on this, the album’s final track – a full-on clattering skronk that builds to a demented crescendo then… nothing.
Stephen Wilkinson – aka Bibio – makes nature music. His best records sounds like they’re recorded under shooting stars, in fresh dew with plants budding all around. Petals is no different – deep, immersive, beautiful country music (i.e. music made in the countryside).
Pet Shop Boys “Inner Sanctum”
Arriving just in time to turn a miserable month on its head, the Pets slip out the kind of record that people a third of their age should be making (Neil Tennant is 61). Inner Sanctum is euphoric, elegiac, unrepentantly heavy techno. God only knows what the forthcoming album will sound like – hopefully something like an hour stuck in the bassbins at Berghain. Which would be amazing.
The The “Slow Emotion Replay”
Music world suffered another very sad loss this week, though it might have passed a lot of folks by. Andy Dog was the brilliant, visionary artist responsible for illustrations that graced the covers of most records by The The. As a child of the ’80s, I grew up poring of those strange, sometimes harrowing images, particularly those around the Infected album. I think I’d drifted away from the band a little by the time Dusk came out but it’s that record – and particularly this song – that I’ve found myself drawn since I heard about Andy’s death. Double points for pushing the unmistakable glow of Johnny Marr to the front and centre.