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» One Touch Football - Archive » Music » Your musical 'origins' (aka the 'Ghostbox' thread) (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Your musical 'origins' (aka the 'Ghostbox' thread)
evilC
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Where I think my love of electropop comes from.

The beauty, simplicity and... naivety of it - both parts - is just stunning. I dunno about you, but that brings a tear to my eye.

[ 06.09.2007, 14:32: Message edited by: evilC ]

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Gus Tomato
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I've always been more of a Roobarb and Custard man, myself.

The raunchy, devil-may-care FUCK YOU guitar distortion was truly groundbreaking stuff for children's TV and never fails to get my foot tapping.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=o1WPNgauMkk

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Taylor
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I'm not a folkie by any means, but I do love all that pastoral acoustic guitar shit. I do blame children's television in a way, stuff like the second part of that Camberwick Green theme for one. Fascination with melancholy music began, very definitely with this, which my nan used to watch - I can clearly remember hearing it as a very small child and being amazed that music could make you feel that sad (a melancholy magnified by the simultaneous thought of "oh shit, "Emmerdale Farm"'s on", I suppose). There's a bit of that very long Durutti Column track, the name of which I've forgotten, with Tony Wilson playing oboe on it or something, which sounds extremely similar to that version of the theme music. When I was little, anyway, it affected me like Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor.

Another thing I've always been a sucker for in music is weird sound textures, which is very definitely another taste forged in front of 1970s television. The Lasry-Baschet queasiness of this music was startling to say the least at a time when nothing on "Top Of The Pops" sounded like that, and there were all these terrifying Radiophonic things like this (although the terrifying bit at the end is from the corrupted file, not the original score) and especially this going around, which used to make me run out of the room screaming when I was 4, then became my favourite pieces of music in the world by the time I was 10.

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evilC
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Might I assume you like some of the artists on Ghostbox then, Taylor?

It's 3am - I'm going to bed.

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Amor de Cosmos
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No TV until I was 13 so school music classes, my parent's collection of 78s and the BBC Light programme were my musical universe, mostly the latter. Billy Cotton, Workers' Playtime, Listen with Mother, Housewife's Choice. Alma Cogan, Dickie Valentine, Ruby Murray and Eddie Calvert were big stars so we were told, and how could we know otherwise? However a child only needs to see or hear something remarkable once to have his entire world thrown sharply into focus. Very occasionally I heard something strange and wonderful, uncanny sounds from a long way away, totally unlike anything else that came from that big wooden box in the corner of the living room. Years later I learned one of those pieces of magic was a blues holler by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, no words, just howls and moans over harmonica and guitar. Like Heartbreak Hotel it was probably played as a novelty item, a humerous interlude. But, just as the tarot deck hides the truth in a trivial game, so the BBC, not for the first or last time, unknowingly subverted it's Reithian agenda.

[ 05.09.2007, 04:00: Message edited by: Amor de Cosmos ]

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Taylor
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quote:
Might I assume you like some of the artists on Ghostbox then, Taylor?

A great deal, yes, and for exactly the reasons this thread suggests.

Only thing that frustrates me is that all their acts are good at different things. Belbury Poly are the best melodically, and can really pull off that thing of sounding like half-remembered TV themes from your childhood playing in your head as you die; The Focus Group have the best ideas, the most ideas, and come up with the most striking *moments*, Mount Vernon Arts Lab sound the creepiest, etc. I appreciate they're all doing different things, but they all do *one* thing, and considering that they're essentially composite parts of one broad aesthetic, I often wish that Ghost Box was one genuinely mind-blowing multifaceted group rather than a collection of them making music that veers from truly astonishing to merely "interesting".

That's just being churlish though, all of those records are among my favourites of the century so far, and I wish I was still writing about music in a way, because I could start writing about those jokers and never stop. As many people who are still writing about music have discovered.

Good call though, this thread could virtually have been designed with those groups in mind.

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Robin Carmody
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There's a Focus Group track which lifts the hook of Adam Faith's "What Do You Want?" (just as Young Marble Giants once did with "Poor Me") and in a sense that squares the circle with Amor de Cosmos's past, takes the whole thing back to the first days of consumerism and the last days of steam.

I can't really talk about Ghost Box: it does too much for me, sends me in too many directions. Mordant Music, as well, in their harsher way (that *really* long track on 'Dead Air' whose title now escapes me is the "Revolution No. 9" of its time). Especially because, for me (a 1980 birth), it's a past *that isn't my own*, however much I want it to be. For Simon Reynolds, I think it squared his own circle, fulfilled the themes he'd been working out since 'Shambling Chic' and his Smiths obituary. And I think it's the only coherent response to what the Blair era has done to rock music, i.e. turn it and its specific form of anti-socialist libertarianism, finally, into the absolute establishment culture, and leave only one form of rebellion left: retreat into collectivism, regulation, benign order.

Can it really be true that someone who spoke like Sir Patrick Mayhew was still in a senior government position at the time of Oasismania? I don't hate myself for asserting the Presley lineage then: it still made some sort of sense. Now, little other than Ghost Box makes any.

[ 06.09.2007, 02:40: Message edited by: Robin Carmody ]

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Amor de Cosmos
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This is fascinating and a serious zero in my life. I've never heard of Ghost Box or The Focus Group before. What Robin describes sounds vaguely (and I'm out on a limb here) like what I tenuously understand of Jacques Derrida's writings on the spectre of history: something we're condemned to return to (or does it return to us, I'm not sure) but can never grasp. Is that what these groups are built around?
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Robin Carmody
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Something like that, yes: they are definitely about something we cannot describe. Though more specifically I think they're built around Britain's *forbidden subconscious*, what rock culture has hidden, what Thatcherism has also hidden (I would love to say always for different reasons, but often their reasons seem - to me at least - disconcertingly similar).
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Ibex Trounce
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The Ghostbox CDs generally only seem to be available via mail order, which is regrettable (the Smallfish shop is much missed and I am astonished that Rough Trade haven't done a deal with the Ghostbox people; the latter really need to get their act together) but understandable; improv labels like Incus worked in exactly the same way in their early days (if you want this music, you'll have to find us/talk to us/communicate with us) and there appear to quite be a lot of parallels in terms of "forbidden subconscious" and so forth (if not in musical approaches, but then again Derek Bailey is a lifetime's study in himself in this regard in terms of haunted dancehalls etc.). Sort of a semi-connected umbilical cord between Eric Coates and DB, really.

From what I've heard of their work online, I have to say that personally I prefer the more mischievous and colourful benign collectivism of Broken Social Scene and all their various Toronto offshoots, but the Ghostbox records are a serious gap in my collection and I need to fill it.

Of course King of Woolworth's was doing this sort of stuff six years ago when nobody wanted to know or write about it except me and RC...

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evilC
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Hmmm... I suppose he was, although I was never that taken with his stuff - perhaps because I was into Solvent, Pilote, etc and they were doing similar stuff, but with stronger 'electropop' tunes that I could latch onto.
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Ibex Trounce
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Another very strong and seldom acknowledged influence on the whole movement: Plone's For Beginner Piano album on Warp (1999/2000?). Not easy to find now but it hits all the right spellbinding buttons (weren't they a Broadcast spinoff?).

[ 06.09.2007, 09:00: Message edited by: Ibex Trounce ]

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Toxteth O'Grady
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Also, aside from the mostly excellent music, the packaging of the Ghost Box CDs really makes you want to own them (as opposed to downloading). I like how there's no back cover or spine. And the mini CDs are great too. I love my little 3" Advisory Circle disc.
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evilC
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Robin (and others) - you might be interested to know that one of the 'lead items' on this week's Boomkat mailshot is an MP3 Mordant Music sampler, costing 1:99. I expect it'll be freely downloadable elsewhere very soon, though.

[ 06.09.2007, 16:04: Message edited by: evilC ]

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Disney Girl
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IF-0XNKlhk&mode=related&search=

Now that intrigued me a lot back in the 70's. What the hell was that noise I wondered.

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