Before I hit the Random button and talk about the first five songs that come up (no cheating), a word on recent explorations into ambient IDM/downtempo/glitch.

Carbon Based Lifeforms (no ‘the’, please) are a duo from Sweden that makes music like glaciers — cool and verrry slow-moving. I’ve been checking out two of their albums: Hydroponic Garden and (the slightly better) World of Sleepers. Both guaranteed to transport you to BubbleWorld, and not to antagonise you or raise your blood pressure more than a few ticks. I’ve found that there’s a place for the Carbs, and if you try listening in the wrong place, it’s desperately boring. Get it right, and there’s nothing else quite like it. Hint: driving, bad; working or sleeping, good.

If you like CBL, there are lots of other things you might get excited about. You might try Pushing Air by Deru, still ambient but with beats and more of an edge. Somehow it feels more substantive and engaging. Nice to see that the Boards of Canada tradition of putting weird little experimental numbers between the songs is holding up.

And in other news, did you know Devo had a new song? We didn’t get the Dell ad over here, so you Americans please excuse us while we watch them work it.

Good to know they’re still out there.

And now on to the Random.

The Robots (Cha-Cha-Cha) by Señor Coconut
Album: El Baile Alemán
I’ve blogged about Señor Coconut’s work before. This track comes from his first album — Latin reworkings of Kraftwerk songs. It’s more than just concept; the songs really stand up to repeated listenings. Even newcomers to Kraftwerk would probably enjoy these. My only qualm is that El Señor doesn’t follow the chord progressions for the song exactly. I’m a purist that way. His second attempt, Yellow Fever (consisting of YMO covers), is even better. Part homage, part humour, and all Latin.

Love Street by The Doors
Album: The Best of the Doors
The Doors remind me of being a kid in Jeffrey’s house. Maybe his older brothers listened to them. For some reason, the music of the Doors is in a different place in my mind from other 60’s music, but I can’t say why. It seemed deeper somehow.

I never got the chance to hear this song until I saw the movie, which is why I associate it with Val Kilmer as Jim, slinking up to Meg Ryan’s house. Run, Meg!

Love is a Stranger (Stranger Days Mix) by Eurythmics
Album: Art of Compilation CD7
More Eurythmics this week. This time, a dance mix of this classic track.
Liberation by Pet Shop Boys
Album: Very
‘Liberation’ is a powerful choice of word — it’s tied up with struggle and emancipation. As a straight guy, our society constantly affirms my sexuality, including when my beloved and I are in public. It’s difficult for me to imagine what that situation would be like for two men in love. I’m guessing that this is the situation described in the song, which uses the word to describe the feeling of freedom and self-acceptance from being with a lover. I’ve always thought this a lovely song.

Dark Star (David Andrew Sitek Remix) by Beck
Album: The Information
I have a confession to make. I’m a bit obsessive about documenting my music-listening habits. It’s pretty easy, because iTunes keeps track of playcounts etc. for you. But if I hear a song on the radio and I have it on the computer, I have been known to notch up the playcount for it. Because it should count, dammit. So it means something if I say that the album version of “Dark Star” is currently number 15 on my list of most listened-to songs (out of 13,000).

This mix is faithful to the original, with slightly more tambourine. I thought the instrumental interlude a bit unnecessary.

Bonus sixth.

Circus Ring by Vitamin Z
Album: Rites of Passage
I always thought this album was a cut above the usual late-eighties good-looking synthpop. Probably Anne Dudley’s influence. Searching for copies of this album was always futile, and I came to hate the sight of Sharp Stone Rain in the bins under ‘V’. It never did see a US release; even fails to list the CD. Nowhere else but Japan, from which this recording comes.

This track has a majestic quality, but its intensity stays in control. One of their best songs.