Each month one of Clan Analogue’s artists presents a Spotify playlist highlighting influences, inspirations, obscurities and anything else interesting in the world of electronic music.
This month legendary Australian electronic music figure Andy Rantzen presents a selection of tracks that have inspired him over the years.
Andy Rantzen is an ARIA Award-winning Sydney-based electronic music producer and writer with a long history in Australian electronic dance music. Since 1990, he has recorded and performed under his own name and in collaborations with Itch-E & Scratch-E, Pelican Daughters, Wrong Kind of Stone Age, Cherry2000, Sheriff Lindo, fc europa, Event Horizon and many others. He has remixed artists as diverse as The Wiggles and INXS and, along with his long-time music collaborator Paul Mac, has the best-selling Australian remix of all time.
Andy Rantzen’s latest track ‘Sonic Manipulator’, a collaboration with Ryan Spinoglio, is included on the forthcoming Clan Analogue release Intone: Voice Abstractions
Legendary Pink Dots – Princess Coldheart
This group have made many, many records since I first heard them on a cassette compilation in about 1983. They stood out, and still stand out, for the expressive voice and lyrics of Ed Ka-Spel. He has a way of marrying absurdist fantasy and genuine human tragedy in his lyrics, mainly through his characters, who live in various strange and often doomed fantasy worlds. Over-the-top, histrionic even, but also very warm and emotional.
Grace Jones – Walking in the Rain
A Vanda and Young composition, originally released under their studio band project name, Flash and the Pan. They were AC/DC’s producers, and former Easybeats core members. Jones’s disdainful voice is perfect for the detached viewpoint of the nightwalking, sexually ambiguous voyeur/protagonist in this song. Producers Sly and Robbie weave a beautifully snakey, raindrop-infused groove behind her. This is one of those rare instances of the cover being as good as the original.
Andy Rantzen – Rain in the Morning, Sun in the Afternoon
I made a dub album over ten years ago for a Sydney label but sadly the release never happened. Since then, the tracks on that album have slowly been coming out on various compilations. This one recently came out on Melbourne label, Tempest Recordings. They’re lovely guys.
Cambodian Space Project – Longing for the Light Rain
Let’s continue the rain theme for one more track. An Australian / Cambodian hybrid project which features 60’s Cambodian pop vocals and melodies backed by a straight up Tasmanian/Melbourne rock band. It’s a combination that works beautifully. This band is worth seeing live if you get the chance.
The Feminine Complex – Hide and Seek
This is a cultish recording from the 60’s. Apparently not much is known about the band – they are one of those 60’s psychedelic mysteries. There are some tantalising details about them on Wikipedia.This song compares the process of self-discovery to a game of hide and seek. Musically, vocally and lyrically, it conveys dread and sexual curiosity.
John Foxx – He’s a Liquid
This one could be Foxx’s coldest recording. It’s ostensibly about a man, observed by his wife. She observes that there is something very strange about him: for example, his watch hand glows and his clothes are sticky. She concludes he’s a liquid. As the narrative continues, you start to realise that she’s the strange one. I especially like the middle eight, which appears to mimic a deductive, defective reasoning process via a slowly ascending, fearful, transpositional figure.
Gary Numan – Metal
John Foxx leads naturally to Gary Numan and back again. This has everything that makes the latter’s best music so special: it’s minimal, convincingly alien, and it rocks. The drumming is bang on – no showing off. The film clip is excellent too, if you can find it on Youtube.
Mayhem – Dark Night of the Soul
Mayhem fans will argue about their best album til the light takes them. It’s also not clear which band is the true Mayhem, as they’ve had many traumatic lineup changes since the 80’s. Though not many Mayhem fans will agree, I personally like the formation with Maniac on lyrics vocals (he is an erudite misanthropist with a fine sense of theatre), Hellhammer on drums, Necrobutcher on bass, and Blasphemer, the principle musical composer and arranger, on guitar. The band are exceptional musicians. Together they generate an icy, haughty, derisive sound. This song swaggers in cocksure and terrifying like William Blake’s Beast. To me, they’re a cut above standard black metal because they’re always trying to push the form forward.
Itch-e & Scratch-E – King of the Moon
As some of you know, I’m one half of Itch-E & Scratch-E along with Paul Mac. Unusually for us, this track features an electro groove. My workstation, the Kurzweil K2500, is all over it with its crystalline, spacey sounds. I still use the Kurzweil K2000 series – it’s my instrument of choice. The scale is an interesting one – I think it might use the Scriabin’s Mystic scale, but Paul’s the one to ask about that.
Julian Cope – Sunspots
The second album I ever bought was by The Teardrop Explodes, and I’ve been following Julian Cope’s adventures ever since. He’s one of Britain’s many eccentric polymaths – a songwriter, a music fan, an amateur archaeologist and an fiction writer. I love his revolutionary spirit, his love of wild music, and his total, immersive commitment to creativity. This is Julian Cope in love, which equates, in musical form, to taking mile-high bouncy steps on another planet. Look up some pictures of him online – he’s a stylish cat. For further great listening, check out his track ‘S.P.A.C.E.R.O.C.K. With Me’, which unfortunately isn’t on Spotify.
Kate Bush – Sat in Your Lap
Speaking of operatic space beings… this is my favourite Kate Bush song. She really delivers occult vibes here, and that’s before you see the accompanying videoclip. Like all her best work, this one is both dramatically over-reaching and also tightly controlled – a hugely difficult feat to pull off. The protagonist is filled with the ambitions of her own youth, and senses she has extraordinary powers, but also feels like a fool who knows nothing. Kate Bush is a walking tarot pack.
Frank Ocean – Novacane
My 15 year old daughter have different musical tastes in many ways, but we agree on Frank Ocean. It’s a characteristic of lyricists passionately kissed by the muse that they’ll introduce two seemingly unrelated topics – in this case, the numbing sensation of dentist’s anaesthetic and the existential emptiness that realiably follows getting what you wanted – and then allow the listener to gradually infer the connections between the two as the song progresses. Typically for Frank Ocean, the meanings are all metaphorical but bound up in actual real-life details and scenarios. His delivery is almost conversational, as if he’s confiding in a close friend: “Met her at Coachella, I went to see Jigga, she went to see Z Trip – perfect”). He has a credible, natural but sweet voice which suits for his confessional style. Check out all his material, especially his mixtape ‘Nostalgia/Ultra’ and his last album ‘Channel Orange’.
The Lighthouse Keepers – Gargoyle
I don’t know much about this 80’s indie band from Sydney, although I did see them once. The singer was as cringingly shy on stage as you might expect from her delivery. I’m not totally sure what the lyric is about, but I sense that it’s a very private matter, charged with personal symbolism, and there’s a story of falling in love, or possibly falling into someone else’s dreamworld, or perhaps even the equivalence of the two. The guitar work, like the vocal, is haunting and passionate. It has a gently propulsive groove, which implies to me that there’s real adventure, colour and meaning in the inner world of each of the protagonists as they fall into each others’ worlds – or perhaps they fall under the spell of a third party? And anyway, who or what is the gargoyle of the title? There’s no sense of writing to an audience – it’s very inward. Listening to this is like reading a diary over someone’s shoulder. For a similar vibe from the same era, check out the superb ‘Fun Loving’ by The Dropbears, another Sydney indie band from the 80’s. That one’s on Spotify too, and is yang to Gargoyle’s yin.
Bessie Smith – Mean Old Bed Bug Blues
An early blues classic from one of the greatest. The muted, ghostly recording has a hallucinatory appeal, reinforced by the knowledge that everyone involved in this recording is now dead. Sonically, I’d almost want to put in the same veiled spirit world as the Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works II.
Andy Rantzen – No-one Plays Upon Your Mind
This one came out on the compilation 70 Years Of Sunshine (Monotype Records), and is also on my album ‘The Master Drummer’ (4-4-2 Music). It represents the beginning of a new musical adventure for me. That adventure continues.