Dart #44: XTC – Ballet For a Rainy Day

XTC – Ballet For a Rainy Day

I’ve almost finished this record trying to pick the right dart but everything is just so strikingly weird. I decided to go with ‘Ballet for a Rainy Day’. Not because it’s the best, but because it might be.
‘Skylarking’ has this deeply British vaudevillian sensibility to it. Every character and event is highly romanticised, recalling the coy prostrations of the Kinks or, as it were, the soppy stage new wave with which it coincided.

But, most importantly, every song is an absolute fucking banger, amalgamating pure, child-like imagination with classic pop songwriting. It’s like listening to Kate Bush, Steely Dan or, to a lesser extent, Queen. Who dreamt this shit up? Definitely couldn’t pass for music these days, and what a crying shame it is. What a wonderfully immersive world ’Skylarking’ is, and what a ballsy move for a half-fashionable post-punk band to release this of all things.

Dart #43: Tin Man – Highway

Tin Man – Highway
Global A Records
It’s weird to think that this tune was released almost ten years ago given it’s a shoe-in for our current appetite for cold wave, minimal wave and the Berlin school. Ordinarily an acid techno head proper, Tin Man lends a subdued but climactic vocal to a miasma of space age atmospherics. If you squint he could almost pass for Michael Gira if, as a young lad, he had a penchant for pingers instead of LSD. And that suits me just fine.

Dart #42: Tricky – Suffocated Love

Tricky – Suffocated Love
4th & B’way
Tricky could gain 20 kgs and start wearing crocs n socks and I’d still be putty in his hands. ‘Suffocated Love’ sees the Massive Attack alumni at his most effervescently sultry, depicting a game of cat and mouse between two seasoned lovers as the male attempts to reconcile his desire with his pride – all brought home by a swooning ‘Wicked Game’ guitar line.
Is this a rumination on the unique circumstances, barriers and rituals that make every relationship different from the last? Or does Tricky bemoan a life held hostage and love superseded by sex? I couldn’t say. But like all of Maxinquaye, the beauty is in the mystery and the intoxicating emotional bipartisanship of Tricky’s world.

Dart #41: Equiknoxx – A Rabbit Spoke To Me When I Woke Up

Equiknoxx – A Rabbit Spoke To Me When I Woke Up
“Bird Sound Power”

A choice cut from one of the most exciting releases of 2016. Equiknoxx have staked their claim in the modern dub landscape with deceptively simple ear worms like these. The Kingston duo never over play their hand, using restraint to put the dance floor on tenterhooks. “Bird sound power” says it all: bouncy, playful, and full of personality. The woodblock has never sounded so good.

Dart #40: Can – Future Days

Can – Future Days
“Future Days”
United Artists Records

The original dart factory Can have been mined pretty close to the core so here’s one a little shy of the beaten track. Can could always groove fleetly, but this is the band at their cruisiest. And that’s not to call ‘Future Days’ light either: this is one of the boldest production exercises I’ve encountered, impossibly busy yet always keeping its head above water. This is killer songwriting half dreamt in the halcyon morning with nothing but a tasty salsa groove to make sense of it all. For Jaki.

Dart #39: Bruno Pronsato – Open Your Eyes

Bruno Pronsato – Open Your Eyes
“Open Your Eyes/E As In Ella”

Ah Bruno. Practically all of Pronsato’s releases are solid darts out of tens. Indeed, The Daily Dart was originally going to be exclusively BP tunes every day until I realised you don’t really need a middle man to listen to someone’s discography.
‘Open Your Eyes’ is one of Pronsato’s more dance friendly cuts. With a tense groove that make all the sharp transients really crack, the tune sits on a even plateau tension that threatens to break at any moment and never does. As usual, Pronsato makes inspired use of unorthodox samples – guitar feedback, a shifter – to craft a lush, colourful Shangri-la for the ears.

Dart #38: Phil Kieran – Snakes Crawl (East Village Remix) [feat. Bush Tetras]

Phil Kieran – Snakes Crawl (East Village Remix) [feat. Bush Tetras]
“Snakes Crawl”
Phil Kieran Recordings

Aforementioned remix as promised. Here, Belfast Producer/DJ crafts ‘ding-a-ling’ into a mighty vocal hook while foregrounding the funk potential of the original. Splashes of disembodied guitar also keep things suitably unhinged. A fine dance punk anthem to fire up your jacking house set.

Dart #37: Bush Tetras – Snakes Crawl

Bush Tetras – Snakes Crawl
“Too Many Creeps”
99 Records

I always found it weird that it was the darker side of post-punk that really captured the public’s imagination and not this funky shit. Yeah you had Gang of Four and the Pop Group, but they always passed for oddities in the shadow of the superior bleakness of Joy Division, Siouxsee and the Banshees and Bauhaus. Maybe it’s the uncanny valley of tunes like ‘Snakes Crawl’, a funk groove in every sense but melodic rationality, that kept anything north of cult fandom at arms length. But finally, with bands like Exek, a rejuvenated cassette culture and what seems to be every new compilation spanning a 4-year zeitgeist, this era of demented pop punk is finally having it’s day in the sun.
This tune fucking rules and there’s a tasty remix too I’ll be posting tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Dart #36: Jay Glass Dubs – Compound Dub

Jay Glass Dubs – Compound Dub
“New Teeth For an Old Country”
Bokeh Versions

Like all of the world’s greatest recording artists, JGD summarised his own unique take on a genre with a song title and ‘Glacial Dancehall’ says it better than I could. But where Jay’s earlier excursions into dub were more explicitly just that, ’Compound dub’ cements the producer as a unique voice in the fertile bass-worshipping scene of South London. The grime resurgence has set its own blueprints – the weightless of Mumdance and Logos, the industrial dub of The Bug, the arcane tremors of Andy Stott – but Jay’s is a fresh take on a modern obsession. In a time when everyone is citing the significance of dub to bass music, ’Compound dub’ highlights the brighter side of the genre. And it’s still trippy as fuck.

Dart #35: Midori Takada – Mr. Henri Rousseau’s Dream

Midori Takada – Mr. Henri Rousseau’s Dream
“Through the Looking Glass”
RCA Records

The richness of Takada’s percussion work shares the undeniable impact of Alice Coltrane and Steve Reich on modern composition: slow linear undulations of melody over a lush sentient ambience composed of percussion, trebly staccato strings and bells. On “Through the Looking Glass” the symbiosis of acoustic and electronic instruments carries an air of distinction that would make a collective revisitation of the record inevitable. Fast forward thirty years and Jaar/Hecker/Tet are frothed with impunity.