Bunch Of Fives: John Michie Collective | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Morpeth based producer The John Michie Collective drops his latest album, Toward The Rainbow. This latest offering is filled with industrial, overdriven ambience, haunting and harmonious tones and a variety of texturising notes swirling around the mix. It’s a euphonic, yet thought provoking collection of synthy soundscapes with dystopian undertones that adds a bit of edge and keeps interests piqued.

Here, the artist himself tells us all about his top five most influential albums…

Grimes – Visions is in my top five simply because it is the record that got me into recording music. The musical landscapes, which I have heard described as “pop music for ambient fans”, and also her unusual manipulated falsetto vocals grabbed my attention as soon as I heard her song “Genesis”. The album was recorded and finished over a period of nine days and it is her sole accomplishment from the first note to the artwork. Finding out that she had recorded this record on Garageband opened my eyes to the fact that complex home recording was accessible and affordable. You did not need to get signed and also it ultimately didn’t matter if some of the musical products you created were essentially lo-fi in nature. She is what I call a true DIY indie artist hero in the sense that she has shown that if you stay true to your art and not do what you think is expected you can rise to the top and find an audience whilst maintaining control. She has also done this mainly through the power of the internet and not through the traditional format of lengthy gigs. I genuinely think she is the most impressive musical star of the post internet era. The high point of this album is Circumambient.

Talk Talk – Spirit Of Eden is an album that totally blew me away when I first heard it. The mixture of textures, tones, anticipation, jazz, minimalism and melancholy are well ahead of its time. Without this record the ground would not have been paved for acts like Blur when they released 13 many years later. Much like Visions by Grimes this album is another record that touches upon the genre of ambient music. The experimentation within this record is also breath-taking, and, like Sgt Peppers, can only be done by acts at the peak of their career. Over 11 months they allowed different musicians to improvise for hours different instruments only for in some cases a few seconds of the audio to be used in this patchwork of sound. The high point of this album is Inheritance.

Paul McCartney – Ram has to be one of the most underrated albums by one of the former Beatles. I am by nature a Lennon fan and often see McCartney as quite conceited. But in his creativity after the Beatles break up he made what can only be described as the first Britpop record. Excluding Uncle Albert, the granny pop has been left behind on this record. It has a brilliant homemade real-life charm that would later become prevalent with records like Parklife, Definitely Maybe and Different Class. The album is surrealist, whimsical but also has undercurrents of biting darkness. I would also argue that vocally it is one of McCartney’s best displays. The high point of this album is 3 Legs.

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds put simply for me is the first real symphonic album which sparked a whole sea change in music. An album was no longer a collection of songs as such but was now a piece of art from start to finish. Where every element was chosen to work with each other. Quite simply we would have had no Sgt Pepper by the Beatles without this narrative. It is hard not to get lost in the Phil Spectoresque cacophony of sounds that rise up from Brian Wilson’s imagination. I am someone who feels very drawn to Brian as a character. Someone who is at home in a recording studio and not on a stage. Someone who is more interested in making that studio sound like a musical instrument rather than a work space. This album drips with colour, hope and intense melancholy. In the true sense it is a masterpiece which few albums come close to. The high point of this album is Caroline No.

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of The Moon is probably the album that has had the most impact on me musically. It is a psychedelic masterpiece which deserves all of the album sales it has received. I vividly remember listening to this record as a six-year-old kid and wondering why there was this long period of silence on the cassette tape after The Great Gig in The Sky before side two kicked in. The simplicity of the Storm Thorgerson sleeve also caught my attention. There is also another period in my life whilst living in London where it was the only record I listened to for six months, getting lost in the detail. It is a record which I keep coming back to not only because of the hypnotic guitar work and drumming but also its lyrical thematics on modern life, madness and death. I also love the fact that Gilmour, Waters and the band didn’t have any inclination of the wave of success that would come from it. I love that the album isn’t 3-minute pop or rock songs for the beige radio presenters. The album isn’t over thought or pretentious and was written quickly over 6 or 7 weeks. The album helped fund Monty Python and Australian radio listeners also voted the album the best to have sex to in 1990 so what’s not to like? The high point of this album for me is Time.


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