The Playlist: Everything Everything

Stevie Mackenzie-Smith
Album cover for the band

Everything Everything curate our latest edition of The Playlist, our top five recommendations chosen by music taste-makers in the north.

Everything Everything’s upcoming residency at Manchester Central Library is just a month away. From 10-15 November, Chaos to Order brings together six days of artistic takeover, with live music, lunchtime literature readings, comedy, Alan Turing-inspired soundscapes and impromptu performances all in the mix. It’s all been curated by the Manchester-based band, who have asked various collaborators to fill the beautifully renovated reading spaces with a week of free and unusual activity. In addition to musician Kiran Leonard, writer Emma Jane Unsworth and innovative theatre company Quarantine, events with comedian Josie Long and BBC 6Music funnyman Shaun Keaveny will be announced later in the week. So, with Chaos to Order just around the corner, we asked the band to put together our latest installment of The Playlist. From The Walker Brothers to Kraftwerk, via free jazz and film scores, this is their Top 5.

Jonny Greenwood – Convergence

Convergence first came to my attention when it was featured in the film There Will Be Blood, which is a favourite of the band. Although it was originally written for a different film – Bodysong – its full percussion seems to mirror the cyclic, heavy, brutal sound of drilling for oil perfectly. The way the different parts incrementally shift from rhythmic order to chaos and back again was influenced by minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and, to me, hints at protagonist Daniel Plainview’s descent through the film from shrewd businessman to maniacal, murderous oilman.

The Walker Brothers – Nite Flights

Scott Walker brought the Walker Brothers back together in 1978 for the Nite Flights album, knowing that their label was winding down and they would be able to have more artistic freedom. There’s so much in this track that points towards what Walker would later go on to do as a solo artist, and it’s fascinating to observe his singular voice start to emerge, much like the tremolo strings on this track, which sit on top of the song like darkening clouds.

The next track on the album – ‘The Electrician’, which they released as a single that never charted – takes the strings further as they provide a disturbing, high-pitched pedal above what is a crooning song about torture (“kill me and kill me and kill me”). Walker’s unique career has seen him gradually reject the tropes and order of pop music with The Walker Brothers in favour of exploring the darkest corners of the human condition with unflinching honesty.

Ornette Coleman – What Reason Could I Give

Coleman is arguably the most important figure in free jazz, having coined the term in 1960. His early albums have proved hugely influential but although he didn’t make Science Fiction until 1971 it is probably my favourite of his. I was going to choose ‘Street Woman’ as it is perhaps more chaotic but when I listened to the album again I thought ‘What Reason Could I Give’ deserved a mention. It opens the album and features beautiful, desperate vocals from Asha Puthli. As with many of Coleman’s pieces, it sounds as though it is being slowing pulled apart, and the players are slipping away from one-another, only just clinging on like survivors swimming in a turbulent sea.

Kraftwerk – Metal On Metal

Appearing on their 1977 LP Trans-Europe Express and emerging from the title track with the howl of a Doppler’d high speed train, ‘Metal On Metal’ is Kraftwerk’s most explicitly industrial track. TEE was the last album Kraftwerk made before fully embracing the robotic precision of sequencing and drum machines, and this track bears many more human imperfections than they would now be associated with.

The entirely synthesised (but performed, not programmed) drum sounds are combined with the metallic crashes and clangs – the final example of any identifiably “organic” sounds in Kraftwerk’s music. These give way to a pulsing beep, floating over the beat like overhead power lines on a railway track, redolent of morse code and predicting modern minimalist techno.

The whole LP evokes a heady and distinctive combination of ideas and images; the frenzy of mass production in Kraftwerk’s native Dusseldorf, rapid rebuilding following the Second World War; the romantic scope of ever expanding global travel and mass communication in post-war Europe; and the grimness, monotony and malevolence of factory industry.

Kiran Leonard – Dear Lincoln

We’re extremely pleased to have Kiran involved in the Chaos To Order residency at Manchester Central Library. He’s a rare talent who brings the cerebral and visceral together in his own original, mercurial way. When he play live sets with a full band it fizzes with unpredictability, but the first song of his that I heard was a beautifully intricate solo acoustic guitar version of ‘Dear Lincoln’ on the radio. We have absolutely no idea what he’s going to come up with for us but we can’t wait to hear it.

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