One of the albums that has spent most time in my CD player these past few months is the terrific Triptych, compiled by Fred Deakin, one half of Lemon Jelly. Nothing to do with the Scottish festival of the same name, Fred's 3 CD opus is the best mix-tape you'll ever hear, and as it blithely mashes 90 tracks up against each other with a blatant disregard for genre, it gets the Irk The Purists seal of approval. Within its four hours you'll hear Mike Nesmith rubbing shoulders with Roni Size, the Durutti Column mixed into Grand Puba, George Michael getting it on with the Jesus and Mary Chain...Pentangle, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, The Selecter, Bernard Cribbins, even a house track by Michel Houellebecq, ferchrissakes. All is grist to Deakin's mill. He seems to take particular delight in confounding expectations, and while some have complained that the track listing is too random and doesn't flow, 90% of what he mixes is pure gold, regardless of provenance, and if Deakin likes it, that's usually good enough for me. He introduces some artists you've (I've) never come across, and digs up the less obvious tracks from those that you have. It's a cliche de nos jours that DJ's "take you on a journey", but in this case it's true, even if that journey is from Tim Hardin to James Last via Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys.
As it's a mixtape-type affair, with each track bleeding in to the next, I've refrained from putting up individual tracks; instead I'm presenting for your listening pleasure a short sequence from the second CD, courtesy of the technological marvel that is Audacity. (Incidentally, CDs like this point up the failings of MP3 players; try ripping it to listen to on your I-Pod and you end up with those annoying gaps between tracks. Grrr. Apparently there are ways around this, but what a bloody faff it is.)
In this little excerpt, Todd Rundgren's plaintive Torch Song gives way to XTC's obscure A Dictionary of Modern Marriage, which a bit of Googling tells me was a dub version of Battery Brides from their Go 2 album of 1979. This is overlaid with a capella vocals from Das EFX's Real Hip Hop, then we're straight into a nice bit of Love Rears Its Ugly Head by Living Colour. The band were always a bit too earnest to really love, but this (and I quote) "Soul Power Hip Hop Mix" really hits the spot. Finally, to calm things down, we hear a little snippet of Dudley Moore's Amalgam. If you like this, you won't be disappointed by the other 85 tracks on the CD, and for around a tenner you can't say fairer than that. Fred's notes on each track are worth a tenner on their own.
Incidentally, when he's not producing mind-expanding mix CDs, Fred seems to spend large parts of his time doing graphic design for Airside, the company he co-founded. I'm particularly well disposed towards Airside as they once made my two small children very happy. It was at the V&A's summer garden fete a few years back; these are peculiar events, village fairs transplanted into Kensington, with the great and good of the London design industry letting their hair down. Michael Marriott runs the tombola, Graphic Thought Facility do a "beat the goalie" stall, etc. I seem to remember that the winning entry in the children's dressing up competition (judged by Ron Arad and Matthew Hilton, natch) was a four year old dressed up as a Sony Walkman, and not any old generic walkman, but the very first Sony Walkman, the TPS-L2. It was exact in every detail. I'm pretty sure that the four year old played no part in its construction. Anyway, Airside were running a stall where you had to race some miniature remote controlled cars (which they'd brought back from Japan, natch) around a cardboard track. They'd also clearly overbought on the prizes, and even though my two ankle-biters could barely keep the cars on the tabletop, they both walked away with armfuls of gifts. So, thank you to Airside for their generosity. And thanks to Fred for the CDs.
Download an excerpt from CD2 of Fred Deakin's Triptych (deleted May 2008)
Buy Triptych here
Bitter & Sealed
14 hours ago