Top 10/Bottom 3: November 2012

Oct 31 2012 Published by under Hauntology, Internet/Media, Music, Personal, Top 10/Bottom 3

Pye Corner Audio Album Cover

Top 10 Reasons Sleep Games Is Awesome

Wire writer Nick Cain, in his review of Pye Corner Audio’s latest album Sleep Games (see November 2012 edition), said the music was “ephemeral and forgettable.”  I disagree.  Here’s my take.

  1. Bassline in “The Mirror Ball Cracked” is explosive.  If I could create basslines like that, I’d quit my job today.
  2. “A Door in the Dry Ice” — love the pairing of the giant bass and drums with the high-pitched glockenspiel sound.
  3. Granted, there’s a heavy horror film soundtrack feel to the album (especially the smaller “fragment” songs), but it’s missing those “cliches” that make horror soundtracks all sound pretty much the same (the stabs of synths, the swirl of organs, the creeping baselines).  It’s a soundtrack that doesn’t need to rely on a film or sound effects for its context.
  4. So the music might be a little scary, but it’s also really, really fun.  Take “Into the Maze”; that plodding kick is a bit ominous, but the ploppy bass is anything but.
  5. “The Black Mill Video Tape” — my wife says it’s a total Depeche Mode ripoff.  So what’s wrong with that?
  6. The earliest hauntology music used the sounds of the past to reveal an ominous present.  The past doesn’t exist in Pye Corner Audio’s music; the music seems to exist in limbo, outside time.  Perhaps that is what people mean when they call it “ominous.”
  7. I’ve listened to the album a dozen times or more and I hear something new every time.  Isn’t that the mark of good music?
  8. “Chlorine” is a great song to play on Halloween (and, yes, it’s still Halloween as I write this).
  9. First Pye Corner Audio on CD (so I can play it in my car)
  10. The cover IS fantastic, as are the liner notes and the great quotes from JG Ballard.

Bottom 3 Reasons Nick Cain Can Suck It

  1. He review dismisses Sleep Games but then, instead of explaining why the music deserves dismissal, he instead name drops Julian House and “Wire contributor Mark Fisher” and their part in the album cover.
  2. He talks about his “disenchantment” with Ghost Box music because their music has become stale and repetitive as justification for the lameness of Pye Corner Audio.  If you’re going to complain about Belbury Poly’s last album (which was pretty weak), then complain about Belbury Poly.
  3. He complains that Ghost Box music too-often alludes to “immediately recognisable signifiers” like radiophonics, horror films, and TV tunes.  Then he says that Pye Corner Audio adds “a couple of new ones,” like techno and Boards of Canada.  That’s like saying The Rolling Stones too-often alludes to the blues, but then they also add a few other things, like catchy hooks and sarcastic lyrics and awesomeness.  I mean, what’s the point of being an electronic band if you can’t include “tweaked Techno rhythms” in your songs?  Sheesh.

And one more for good measure: His review doesn’t mention anything about Pye Corner Audio’s earlier works, suggesting that he’d never heard them before Sleep Games.

Update (5 Dec): Sleep Games is #46 on The Wire’s Top 50 Albums of 2012 list.  So apparently many other people at the magazine do not share Mr. Cain’s opinion, which is a very good thing indeed.

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