Moving Away From The Pulsebeat
Colleenís Everyone Alive Wants Answers was not just the best record of last year. Itís one of the best records ever. There is something so incredibly romantic and unsettling about it. It has that certain something that seems so essentially French, and would be the perfect soundtrack to that imaginary film that plays endlessly in your head. The one thatís even more moving than Amelie or Breathless. And Colleen proves that electronica is very much alive and on occasions still stretching for something new and special.

Sheís not alone. One of my favourite radio shows is Nick Luscombeís 'Flow Motion' on xfm each Sunday night. Itís full of whatís happening in the broad world of electronic music, and is a great way to end or start the week. There are occasions it sends you to sleep (not necessarily a bad thing!) and times when he plays something that makes you spill your bedtime herbal potion (mineís echinacea these days).

Recent drink dropping moments have come from the Junior Boys and Fat Jon. The latter, the ample soul physician, is an intriguing character. Being as behind the times as I am, I only came across him via Poleís unhailed set from last year, which Fat Jon contributed words freely to. Tracking back I came across a Humanoid Erotica set he did as Maurice Galactica for Counterflow/Groove Attack a few years ago. Itís quite lovely too, in an instrumental hip hop collage/imaginary soundtrack downbeat kind of way. By coincidence I also stumbled across a Venus Malone set on Groove Attack (as part of our exploration of the soul underground) which features a nice Fat Jon remix.

And thereís the future I think. An unchartered world where adventuresome electronica and beats become entangled with ríníb, hip hop, jazz, dancehall and dub, and everything becomes blurred, which is a mouth watering proposition.

In the meantime, there are treats out there to tempt those hungry for electronica. Interestingly Colleen lists among her favourite sounds Felt, and in some ways it is not that far from Feltís amplified heartbeat to what I call the pulsebeat of some of the best sounds around. Last yearís Mira Calix set on Warp was probably the best example of this urbane gamelan sound, where the music sometimes seems to be hardly there. It is I guess very much rooted in some Steve Reich or Terry Riley modern composition tradition, but to me itís pop and soothes the soul. Another perfect example is the Formations set by Mileece which is gorgeous and as minimal as it is surely possible to be, but so perfect for some sort of escape from the madness and demands of life as it seems to be just now. On the other hand I do feel like whacking that ace new Metal Urbain compilation on and confronting the craziness full on.

For those who feel that there was a golden age of electronica in the early/mid Ď90s there is a perfect reminder in the form of Peacefrogís Stasisí Past Movements compilation. This is an absolute classic, and collects together lost and unissued recordings by Steve Picton as Stasis, Phenomyna and Paul W Teebrooke. I have argued strongly Picton is one of the lost masters from that period. And for my money his recordings as Stasis for MoíWaxís Excursions series, and the From The Old To The New (Stasis) and Connections (Paul W Teebrooke) sets are up there with the best ever. This compilation is an absolute must, and should be garnering front page coverage everywhere possible in the same way that the Arthur Russell salvage operations rightfully are.

One thing I have (belatedly I confess!) discovered via the 'Flow Motion' show is the Murcof set called Martes (on Leaf ≠ the same label as Colleen!), which is a bit more vigorous than Mileece or Mira, but as equally entrancing. I was watching Gas, Food, Lodging again, and it seems it would have made a so much better soundtrack than J Mascisí, but there you go. Lifeís not perfect, but when youíre listening to something as exquisite as Murcof or Colleen you just believe it might not be such a bad old world after all.

© 2004 John Carney