Geoff Stahl is a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Victoria University, where he lectures on popular music and urban culture. He is the editor of the collection, “Poor, But Sexy: Reflections on Berlin Scenes” (forthcoming 2013). He is also the host, in his guise as TV DiSKO, of “Music Without Subtitles,” heard Saturday nights, from 9-11 PM on Radioactive, where the only dictum is: all vinyl, all the time. You can find him online here (Tumblr) and here (Mixcloud). Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – Gudrun Gut, Wildlife: Founding member of German post-punk, new wave outfit Malaria!, Gut has been steadfastly releasing records, hers and others, on her label Monika Enterprise. This, Gut’s latest, is a moody but affecting mix of synth pulses, guitar flecks, and smears of dark dub, all nestling in to spare beats and blips. Includes deadpan cover of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best, which this album currently is for me.
2 – Tim Hecker, Dropped Pianos: (Post)modern classical paean to musique concrete and electro-acoustic composing, Montreal’s Hecker’s (ill) treated piano is nudged in and out of the acoustic frame by drones, glitches, loops, and backward masking, but all of them well-appointed and roomy. There is warmth here, in-between the glacial shards, reverberating and resolving into an echoing chiaroscuro. Makes for perfect work music.
3 –Various, Indonesian Pop Nostalgia: Pan-Indonesian Pop, Folk, Instrumentals and Children’s Songs, 1970s-1980s: I am a collector of all kinds of global disco (Indian, Turkish, Finnish, Thai, etc.). I’m also a fan of TV soundtracks, particularly from children’s shows, so this pricked up my ears in an instant. It effervescently flits from pithy ballad to saccharine pop to frenetic high-energy disco. Confectious.
4 – Various, Krypton Ten: Christchurch 1981-1987: Long before I arrived in New Zealand, I was a member of a small, but fervent, legion of North American fans devoted to this country’s lo-fi indie and noise output circa the mid-80s and early 90s. This German-based compilation brings together an eclectic, yet not so sonically disparate, set of dark sound collages, distortion-driven noise bursts and left-field pop in the form of near-miss masterpieces. Some of the usual suspects are here (Scorched Earth Policy, Alec Bathgate, Bill Direen, et al), but plenty of long-forgotten or rarely heard folks, too. A potent reminder of the great music that’s always limned the New Zealand mainstream.
5 – Ilaiyaraaja, Synth-Pop and Electro-Funk from Tamil Films 1985-1989: It’s like Spike Jones met up with Jean-Jacques Perrey and Bappi Lahiri at Diwali. Yes it’s that colourful, and as full of fireworks. From the brilliant mind of Tamil composer, Ilaiyraaja, this is ebullient, crisp pop that shoots off in countless directions, often in the same song. Vocoders, drum machines, sitars, guitars, rapping, his and her vocal sparring, stitched together with humour and sheer glee, this collection comes with a brio that’s undeniably catchy.