A quick run to Bestival, searching for sun, fun and puns, metaphors and maybe a little meaning. Is it really the best festival? Does it beat the restival? It’s not really a competition, so maybe that’s the wrong question. Has Bestival still got ‘it’, the indefinable quality that makes it special, individual, some kind of beautiful? That’s the right question. And the answer is a simple and easy – yes. Take these moments as examples. In front of the Village People on the main stage on Saturday afternoon, countless thousands of people doing the Y.M.C.A. hand gestures as some men in late middle age dressed as 70s gay clone icons do their routines on stage, it’s so post-ironic I don’t think anyone is sure if this is pure fun, ironic fun, just plain stupid or a brilliant comment on current attitudes to gay men in particular and work in general. Whatever, we’ve all grown up with these guys, like cartoon heroes, childhood friends, the construction worker, the indian, the soldier, the biker, the cowboy and the cop are buried deep in our psyche now. They are the perfectly good people we all aspire to be. They work hard, they dance, they sing in unison, they all make an important contribution to society and the economy. If they were a set of action figures I would love to own the set. We all have a deep, secret desire to Go West and live a better life as one of these men. Somewhere up in the Ballroom field, three humans on petrol fueled two wheelers hurtling vertically round and round the Wall Of Death, rubber on wood, waving and smiling, so close to oblivion. And us, transfixed, unable to take our eyes off the spectacle. Thinking, this is the end, the beautiful end, where we all go up in flames. In The Wishing Tree area on a friday night, now expanded from last year’s single stunted tree (complete with dwarf-run mini bar) into a forest of possibilities, including the second best joke of the weekend – wait for it – Canary Dwarf, a diminutive tower, a skyscraper of reduced stature, a bank HQ quantitatavely eased of some of it’s floors, set next to the tree, this year with upgraded soundsystem and a DJ booth in the roots. I am of course for one night only, a tree-jay, playing a set of what I consider to be proper club music which you can hear in the next episode of Melodica. Up in Pink Camping, a girl, in the morning, in the tent next door, on the phone, to mummy or daddy, checking in, comparing The Cure to Pendulum with the phrase – The Cure, they weren’t so jump up and downy. Perfect. Down in the valley, there’s the massive difference between good shouty and bad shouty. I have no idea why I take these things so seriously, why the sounds can make me so happy and so angry. The good: Crystal Castles, the timeless beauty of drums, moody hoody on distorted keyboards and shouting, jumping, crowd-surfing cute girl. It’s angry, energetic, fun and it always works for me. The big, bad and ugly combo epitomised but by no means exclusively played by, Mista Jam. It’s the sound of the markets, the fairground, bad drugs, too much testotsterone, attention span deficit, desperate capitalism shouting louder and louder – buy, buy, the culture of stupid, egoism run riot. I am Mista Jam, he screams, hello, over here, look at me, look at me, over a vicious, accelerating drum beat, like a blast of rounds from an AK47. When I say Mista, you say Jam. He screams as the bass drops. Mista (with seven exclamation marks). Jam (with nine). Mista (louder). Jam (again). Please love me he screams. I have no real friends. He shouts. My life has no meaning. He cries. I keep buying things and it never makes me happy. He bellows. I have all this energy and nowhere for it to go. He screams. Mista. Jam. Mista. Jam. In between squally showers, PJ Harvey taking the main stage, running her short, succinct bursts of poetry and music that make up Let England Shake. Here is someone who loves our embattled nation enough to rip her apart, to celebrate our weather beaten paths, our windswept past. With her band, she creates a sonic island of rare seriousness and beauty on the Isle of Wight, this little island that is in some ways a strange mirror image of it’s big neighbour’s past with it’s rolling hills and verdant fields, banged up against the future, kilometres of poly-tunnels producing kilos of tomatoes, picked by eastern Europeans because the locals don’t want to or won’t do the work because, according to our taxi driver, they are, unlike him, just too lazy. Like the tents shaking in the gusty wind in Pink Camping on the hilltop, our island nation continues to be shaken by the blasts of change brought our way by out of control capitalism and our extremist government, and somehow Harvey makes some sense of the nonsense with her performance. Though what she’s actually saying is perhaps nothing more than – I saw all this and I made something beautiful from it to share with you. The dressing up competition yields some beauties of another kind – a whole coffee-morning of Freddie Mercury’s complete with short skirts, moustaches and Hoovers; an academy of Devos and the inevitable hearse-load of Amys as well as four people dressed in white with lights on their heads and mum, dad, son and daughter tags on their tops. They are, ta da, The Lighthouse Family. Which brings us tangentially to the best joke of the weekend. Some fine men in tweed and beards, smoking beautifully curved pipes and carrying a banner with this message – Folk Me I’m Famous. Oh, so many levels of joke in that simple phrase. Let’s just say, it’s very punny. Meanwhile, deep in the Ambient Forest, I play some dub. The bass waves, drifting out across the lake attract A Flock Of Seagulls and a gaggle of stubbly chillout DJs. Then, in the depths of the night, as the weather rolls in, we hear Primal Scream say thank you and goodnight then dance, with another unironic twist to Andrew Weatherall, spectacularly bearded, playing acid house. And the knowledge that he and I and a few scattered others are the only people who remember when this music was made no longer scares me. I still love being off the grid, going wild in the country, having the Best(ival) of times. I still dream of a life out West, in the open air, or maybe a spell In The Navy, studying oceanography perhaps. But in my heart I know that I belong to this little island, this England, with all her follies and faults, her grey damp grumbling and salty sunrises, her ferries and diverted trains and crawling motorways and strip lit, tragic malls and seagull bombed landfills, her satellite towns and muddy streams and endless flights and fantastic festivals. In my heart I know that I belong to the music, in city basements, in windy fields, on sunny beaches, in back rooms and bars and even in the Wishing Tree and the Ambient Forest. Because sometimes, you know, when we come together, and have a party, and try to be good to each other, we really can make something momentarily beautiful.
More stuff about the music and stories on this weekâs Melodica. It’s gone all relaxed and Balearic this week, I think it’s something to do with the change in the weather, there’s a sense of nostalgia and the breath of autumn in the air. That’s reflected in the music. A new logo is unveiled this week. To coincide with the launch of the Melodica record label, this adapted logo, designed by renowned artist She One, puts the familar letters inside the label on a vinyl record. All the shows are archived on the Chris Coco page at Mixcloud. Melodica chart on Juno Download: here. THAT FUZZY FEELING: POOLSIDE – HARVEST MOON A no brainer, this one. New music from Poolside who brought us the wonderful Do You Believe earlier this year. I found this excellent new tune on their Soundcloud page. It’s a cover of a Neil Young song, turning it from a lilting country smooch into a typical Poolside daytime disco groove with a very deep bassline. They’re giving it away too, so go download. MORE POOLSIDE… This rather tasty re-edit of Sade’s When Am I Going To Make A Living is on the Poolside Soundcloud page too. MARIUS VARIED – TELEMARK An excellent new album of electronic, Balearic, slow disco instrumentals on Prins Thomas’s Full Pupp label. Marius is a super-busy producer from Norway. He describes his work as everything from Balearic disco to tropical jazz. This is simple, solid, listenable, quality electronic disco. LAGOS ALL ROUTES A fine compilation of music from what many consider the golden age of Nigerian music, the mid 60s to the early 80s, from the ever reliable Honest Jon’s record label. Here are a couple of quotes from a detailed and interesting description of the album on the Honest Jon’s website. “Symbolically, the challenge was for musicians not only to entertain, but to provide a uniquely African inflection of concepts such as the nation state, modernity, the city, and technology. Stylistically, the challenge was twofold â to modernize folk, classical and traditional genres on one hand, and to Africanize foreign genres on the other. Out of these two intertwined projects emerged African popular music.” “‘Lagos All Routes’ refers to the fact that while the music on these collection originates from various parts of Nigeria, it is inevitably filtered through the urban prism of Lagos, which literally exploded with music during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.” ANOTHER SUMMER WITH SEAHAWKS Thanks to my almost total conversion to digital downloads I have only just discovered Seahawks, who only release on vinyl and CD. But what a discovery. They make really fine, floaty Balearic music that is perfect for beaches or memories of beaches, and, of course, they package it very nicely. I did get a little consumerist flutter when their latest CD and 7″ single arrived from Phonica, and the music is very good, now I just need to get the record player out of the cupboard and plug it in… LET ‘EM IN There’s another track from Justus Kohncke’s covers album, Spiralen der Erinerung, on this week’s show. His cover of Wing’s 1976 hit Let ‘Em In is as dry as a slice of sandpaper. Real trainspotters will notice how Phil & Don from the original become Vielen Dank (thank you in German)in this version.
Chris Coco’s weekly radio broadcast. An eclectic selection of brilliant new music starting with house and moving on to electronica, downtempo, acoustic and all sorts of other styles loosely connected to dance and electronic music. Let tastemaker Chris Coco guide you through his selection of the week’s best new music. In this episode, a fine selection of end of summer songs, slightly melancholic, slightly nostalgic, with a warm, deep orange glow. [setlist] 1 Seahawks – Winter Deep Summer High – Cap 2 The Project Club – Field Of Dreams (Lexx Remix) – Digital File 3 Marius Vareid – Telemark – Full Pupp THAT FUZZY FEELING (TUNE OF THE WEEK) 4 Poolside – Harvest Moon – Digital File 5 Sade – When Am I Going To Make A Living (Poolside’s Tons Of Drums Edit) – Digital File 6 Jose Padilla & Kirsty Keatch – Dragonflies (Coyote Mix) – Warner Music Spain STRINGS, WOOD AND A BOX OF AIR 8 Sir Victor Uwaifo – Joromi – Honest Jon’s 9 Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – No One Is (As I Are Be) – Domino 10 The Rapture – It Takes Time To Be A Man – DFA 11 Justus Kohncke – Let ‘Em In – August Day 12 Flight Facilities – Foreign Language (Rocco Raimundo Re-Interpretation) – Future Classic Australia 13 Dean Sunshine Smith – You’ll Never Know 2011 – Let’s Get Lost
Melodica: It’s all here and it’s all beautiful or The radio show that turned into a record label. Melodica started life as an idea for a radio show by Chris Coco. The idea is simple, to present the best new music that Chris has found in a given week, music that reflects his broad, eclectic taste – beautiful music that can loosely be termed Balearic, which means it can’t be categorised, it just has something special about it. Music that is informed by but not limited too the development of electronica and computer based sounds, music that knows all about house music and club culture but doesn’t always need to jump up and down. Music that likes to dance sometimes and just be sometimes. So that means post – dubstep electronica but it also means dub and reggae, acoustic songs, slo mo disco, proper house, and the odd quirky left field classic. The first radio station to take the show was Ibiza Sonica, so there’s a link there, but it’s not all Ibiza music, Chris lives in London and soaks up all the influences of that most cosmopolitan of cities. The show has been running for two years now and Chris has built a dedicated following for his intimate style of delivery and his passion for new, varied sounds. Check the archive at: Melodica the record label is a natural progression from Melodica, the radio show. it will reflect Chris’s taste, present a broad range of sounds with an emotional depth and raw beauty. The releases won’t fit easily into one musical genre, but after a few releases some sort of thread will emerge, there will be a sound, we’re just not quite sure what it’s going to be yet. There’s an adapted logo too, specially designed by renowned artist She One. The logo is a digital dubplate, it looks like a record because we like the feel of old vinyl. The Rules Because it’s a record label there have to be a few rules to make sense of all this creative chaos. So here they are. Singles, whether they are digital or physical, will be singles, imaginary 7s if you will, with a definite a-side and a definite b-side. The a-side will be the song or the hooky thing that you want to play again and again, the b-side will be something more experimental, maybe something the artist loves, maybe a tune you will end up loving forever once the impact of the a-side has worn off. Albums will be albums, a creative statement, about 12 track long, and less than an hour in length. That way the listeners won’t get bored and the artists will have do some real thinking about what to put on and what to leave off. And they will look good with specially commissioned artwork from cool visual people, and the artists will be encouraged to write sleeve notes and lyric sheets, so there’s something to flick through (physically or virtually) while you’re listening to the music. Of course there will be remixes and re-versions too, they are part of who we are now, they have been part of electronic music culture since the invention of the 12″ single, and they are an opportunity for more cross-genre experimentation and entertainment. And the final rule is, of course, that the rules can be broken but only in extraordinary circumstances to make something really cool. Melodica – Good music. Good people. Good times.
[setlist] 10.09 – Bestival, Isle Of Wight 16.09 – Concrete, London 23.09 – Mixcloud 2nd Birthday Party, Big Chill House, London 27.09 – Space, Ibiza 06.10 – The Player, London 08.10 – Big Chill Bar, Bristol 22.10 – Oxjam, London 27.10 – The Player, London [/setlist]