PRINT December 2007


Julian House

1 Daphne Oram, Oramics (Paradigm) Music created by one of the founders of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop—a spellbinding mixture of bright sci-fi television ads, ominous tape work for theater, and cobwebby electronic classical miniatures. I love the whir and clunk and sine whistle of these pieces. A backyard workshop vision of the future.

2 Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks) The Brian Wilson thing is only a small part of it for me; it’s the whole ecstatic childlike vision and dreamlike slip and slide of these songs as they collapse in on themselves.

3 Tom Recchion, Sweetly Doing Nothing (Schoolmap) This begins in the world of pulp exotica before cutting free and dragging the listener into dark, echoing space, snagging on faded memories of late-night films.

4 Now We Are Ten (Trunk Records) Jonny Trunk’s compilation of releases on his own label unearths some gems. Somehow, in Trunkworld, dreamy library music, diabolical Hammer Horror film scores, and 1970s English softcore porn make perfect sense together.

5 The Good, the Bad & the Queen, The Good, the Bad & the Queen (EMI) Simon Reynolds described this as “Waterloo Sunset in dub,” and it does make me think of the Kinks’ London sinking into the Thames, music-hall organs clogging up with mud. Brilliantly produced, each track seems to contain a premonition of the one that follows.

6 Saint Etienne and Paul Kelly, This Is Tomorrow A film and accompanying score commemorating the reopening of London’s Royal Festival Hall, recently refurbished according to the original specifications. The film captures the sprit of the project, while the music evokes a mixture of British jazz documentary music, ’70s library records, and ’80s synthpop, generating a mood of melancholic optimism.

7 Jean Painlevé, Science Is Fiction (BFI Video) A DVD reissue of the films of the underwater filmmaker and Surrealist hero. Hallucinogenic imagery and great music, including my favorite piece by Pierre Henry, his music and effects for The Love Life of the Octopus. Reverb-drenched electronics and concrete sounds evoke bubbles and suckers.

8 The Green Man Festival, Brecon, UK Highlights of this charming event were Gruff Rhys’s psychedelic-youth-theater-meets-local-TV live set and Voice of the Seven Woods’s eastern folk psych.

9 Olivier Libaux, Imbécile (Discograph) A “chanson francaise” opera featuring a cast of famous French pop performers. Deceptively simple songs that feel like they’ve been lodged at the back of my mind all my life.

10 Various vinyl A highlight of my of year was excavating vinyl oddities like a strange music-for-schools EP by Johnny Dankworth titled King Monkey, Electronia by Farran and Vetter, and Musique pour le futur by Nino Nardini—perfect for soundtracking drifting space capsules.

Julian House is a London-based designer/moving-image director. He is a cofounder of The Ghost Box Label and records under the name The Focus Group, whose new album, We Are All Pan’s People, was released this year.