heard on the wire

Don’t feel guilty, don’t go crazy

SPC eCurveO

The recent launch of Apple Music has got me thinking about the nature of music discovery. Just a few weeks ago I’d have said that the days of human curation, of finding music via primarily the radio, were numbered. The digital age had brought digital curation, machines telling us what we might like, algorithms interpreting our collective buying habits to suggest our next purchase.

Apple has decided that’s not enough. Human DJs are back, which is fine if those DJs are in tune with you. For me that hasn’t been the case since, first, the immense John Peel died, 11 years ago now, and his spiritual successor in many ways, Rob da Bank, was ghettoised by Radio One’s emphasis on genre programming. It’s not going to change with the names on Apple’s Beats payroll.

Only Mark Riley on 6music flies a flame for the kind of delightful obscurity this blog likes, which is what we should expect from a former Fall bass player. But he’s a lone voice trapped in corporate playlist land, obliged to wallow in the past as much as he’s allowed to champion the new. And he’s played Queen!

Twitter works to some extent, though following interesting bands seldom leads to interesting music recommendations; likewise, in my experience, Soundcloud.

Where discovery with a human face really works is Bandcamp. Simply by following other users you are opened up to a wealth of music of all kinds. The only obstacle to discovering music lurking in the deepest, darkest corners of the web is time — and patience, since you necessarily have to wade through a lot of ordinariness to get there.

It was via one of the many people I follow on Bandcamp that I came across SPC ECO, a prolific, London-based duo blending electronics and guitars, with KFC and pies, according to their autobiographies.

They’ve been pushing out an LP each year since their 2010 debut and this track comes from their fifth, 2014’s The Art of Pop.

SPC ECO // One for the Little One

This track was going to have been part of a post exclusively featuring artists I’d found through Bandcamp. That was until I noticed that one half of SPC ECO, Dean Garcia, was previously one half of Curve and that Curve’s entire back catalogue is available on Bandcamp.

We’re I a proper music journalist I’d probably write that Curve skilfully blended the two prevailing currents in indie music at the time: the guitar fuzz shoe gaze of My Bloody Valentine et al and the dance beats of “Manchester”.

For a while, and perhaps in no small part because they had a photogenic female singer, they were the darlings of the NME (which in those days meant something), but that never translated into huge commercial success. This was alternative music in the days when that meant something.

This track gave its name to the band’s 1991 debut EP.

Curve // Blindfold

Curve’s Bandcamp catalogue includes a collection of rare and unreleased recordings, called Rare and Unreleased, though it strikes me that by definition any such collection is no longer rare nor unreleased. Nor exactly true in this case, since some of the tracks appeared on a previous retrospective This track was one of those, but it originally appeared on a 1992 NME compilation that marked the music paper’s fortieth birthday. The three-CD set comprised 40 covers of number one singles*. Curve’s contribution was this excellent version of Donna Summer’s groundbreaking and hugely influential chart topper.

Curve // I Feel Love

Surprise has in the last been expressed at my affection for those giants of 90s electronica, Leftfield. Their debut, Leftism, is unquestionably one of the best LPs of 1995, if not the best, and certainly in the decade’s top 10, while its less-celebrated successor, Rhythm and Stealth, is not far behind.

Of the LP’s guest vocalists John Lydon is certainly best known, breathing life and fire into the closing track, Open Up.

But it’s an LP chock full of highlights, not least this track, featuring the aforementioned photogenic singer, Toni Halliday.

Leftfield // Original

*There was one exception to the number-ones rule, but what an exception. There really is nothing to compare to this version of Ultravox’s 1980 number two. Oh Vienna indeed!

Vic Reeves // Vienna

Audio MP3
 

Tagged: , , ,

One Response

  1. John says:

    Curve were great, but the media, critics and public never really knew what to do with them.

    Both Dean Garcia and Toni Halliday had played with the Eurythmics which made lots of people suspicious that they were manufactured. The fact that they were produced by Alan Moulder and had a gorgeous lead-singer didn’t help.

    The press loved them because they could put Toni Halliday on the cover of the NME and Melody Maker and sell copies hand over fist.

    The public might have been more interested if the gorgeous lead-singer had been plastered all over the bands records, but they had deliberately abstract cover-art.

    However, all this missed the rather obvious point that the band were actually really good. The mixture of Halliday’s breathy vocals with industrial-lite/dance stylings, hip hop raps and the heavyweight wall-of-noise guitars that were popular at the time was a stroke of genius(and something that Garbage did to much greater commercial success a year or two later)

    Moulder’s polished production means that tunes like Ten Little Girls, Fait Accompli, Horrorhead, Ice that Melts The Tips and Missing Link still sound fresh today, while a lot of their contemporaries sound dated.

    I LOVE Curve, and not just because I was 15 when I discovered them and fell madly in love with Toni Halliday (although that helped). I even managed to be the first paying customer through the door of their first official headline gig at the Camden Underworld!

    Anyway, enough fanboy ranting…

archive

about

heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.

subscribe

Hear it on the wire, by receiving email notifications of new posts.

copyright

All the music on this site is posted to encourage listeners to enjoy it and then rush out and buy as many songs by the artist as they possibly can. Any artist, record label boss, publisher or other rightsholder who doesn't want their works featured here only needs to get in touch and the offending file(s) will be removed at the earliest opportunity.