Two Hands Music is a new UK and Australian record label which will launch this week with the release of a Anomie or Swimming in a Black Sea, the sophomore record from Invisible Elephant, which is the solo project of a UK home-recording, multi-instrumentalist. The record takes in elements of shoe-gaze, post-rock and folk-rock and turns it into a wonderfully ambitious, cinematic record – a fact that is showcased in this hypnotic video, courtesy of New York based video artist Dully;
We caught up with Robert Blue, the man behind Two Hands Music and Invisible Elephant and asked him to tell us all about his Favourite Five, which he did in great detail and with bucket-loads of good taste. If you’re looking for some life-changing music, and you haven’t heard of any of the records he mentions below, then do yourself a favour and invest in them…
Favourite album of all time
My favourite album can change year by year of even season by season. If you’s asked me any other time I might have chosen Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”, Mogwai’s “CODY”, the Flaming Lips’ “The Soft Bulletin” but considering how I feel now and some of the other answers I’m going for Sparklehorse’s “Good Morning Spider”.
I love the way it’s a glorious mess. If you think of a song like “Chaos of the Galaxy/Happy Man” – in some ways it could be considered an almost straight ahead rock anthem… but the first line of the chorus is “I woke up in a horse’s stomach…” and the first two minutes of the song are drowned with de-tuned radio and static.
There are odd interludes and the tempo and mood changes from one song to the next. It’s the imperfection that make it perfect and it’s consistently, beautifully sad.
Favourite gig of all time
I’ve seen some great gigs in the past year by Sufjan Stevens and Sonic Youth but I’ll have to go for Spiritualized performing “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”in its entirety on 14/12/2009 in Manchester. I bought the album the day it came out in its prescription pack with CD as tablet. I think I was 15. I’d never heard anything like it before and I remember wallowing in “Broken Heart” later that year for reasons you’d expect and that being particularly cathartic.
The gig was perfect. There was the the string section, gospel choir etc. Hearing Jason Pierce with the choir at the start brought tears to my eyes straight away. It was heavy, emotional…stunning. The middle section had an extended “Electricity”. The force of the music at the end was almost unbearable – three guitars wailing and dramatic, intense strobe lights. You could physically feel the force of the music.
I was recording my first album around the time of the gig and couldn’t record anything for at least a month after. I just thought – what’s the point . I could never make anything that special – sonically or emotionally.
Favourite Saturday night album
There’s a few songs I have on hand for certain occasions. I must have played the Jackson 5’s “Stop the Love You Save” and the Clash’s “Train In Vain” an embarrassing number of times.
As for whole albums – I’ll go for Prince’s “Dirty Mind”. Prince was my first musical love as a child. His ’80s peak (which I still maintain is possibly the most untouchable achievement by any musician) was behind him but I love all the albums from 1980 to 1988.
Dirty Mind is an amazing album and there’s nothing like listening to a bit of incest to get you in the mood for a Saturday night out in Blackpool.
Favourite Sunday morning album
Grouper – AIA Alien Observer and AIA Dream Loss
These albums sound great late at night and first thing on a Sunday morning. Always on headphones and always in bed. I only heard about Grouper for the first time about a month ago so I’m a bit late to the party and I was too late to get the 1st edition of the vinyl releases but the records I have so far – these two and “Dragging a Dead Deer…” are prefect for escapism. They’re great to switch on and drop out of planet Earth and float around in Grouper’s world for a while.
Favourite songwriter of all time
If there was only one artist I was allowed to listen to in the future I would choose Elliott Smith. I could pick any one of his albums to listen to all the way through at any time. Often with an artist you love there’s a period in their catalogue where they weren’t as good or they had a period where they went for big arrangements in the studio to mask the weakness of the songs but Elliott’s whole catalogue is great from start to finish from the sparse first album to the bigger arrangements on “XO” and “Figure 8” and even “New Moon” which is mainly previously unreleased songs is better than anything most artist could ever dream of making.
I’ve read reviews where Elliott’s songs have been describes as simple which I don’t think is the case at all after trying to play some of them. They’re intricate and lyrically and musically stunning. I like Elliott Smith all the time but especially in the Autumn when the leaves are falling off the trees and the temperatures start to drop and you can wrap yourself in his songs like a warm blanket.
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Anomie or Swimming in a Black Sea is out now and is available in a limited edition hardback book edition, standard edition and digitally by clicking here.