This week, Panda Bear & Sonic Boom release Reset In Dub – a dub version of their acclaimed 2022 album Reset by British dub producer Adrian Sherwood. To mark this auspicious occasion, here’s Sonic Boom’s My Life In Music from Uncut’s June 2020 issue [Take 277]…
Psychedelic spaceman Pete Kember – aka Sonic Boom – on the music that takes him there: “Any day I listen to Sam Cooke is a good day for me!”
This is just a really awesome record. There seemed to be a lot of cool records coming from Germany in this era, like Bowie and Iggy Pop and Kraftwerk, and they were sort of interconnected; I feel like they were all having some sort of conversation with each other on different levels. For me, this and Trans Europe Express are kind of a pair, they’re both just incredibly solid records. Kraftwerk set a bar which I’ve always tried to aspire to – they were so succinct and cleverly minimal in what they did. I really like that combination of the mechanical and the soulful. Their melodies and the overall vibe of what they did was really deep.
I’ve never come across the original Sam Cooke albums when I look to buy stuff online, but the compilations which cherry-pick all his hits and occasionally some other tracks are just so great. The vibe he put out and the feeling that he put into his songs… you totally buy into every word that comes out of his mouth, and I think that’s the greatest thing you can do as a singer or a musician. I can put on songs like “Sad Moods” or “Having A Party” and they instantly transport me. Any day I listen to Sam Cooke is a good day for me, it always makes me feel good.
WARNER BROS, 1982
I remember hearing “O Superman” on the radio and really not getting it: “What the fuck is this?” Then one day I took some psilocybin mushrooms with a friend, he put this album on, and when I heard the whole record and the song in context, I was just floored by it. I still feel it’s one of the greatest pieces of art that’s been put on a record, and [I love] the innovation, the humour in it… I still listen to it regularly, and I’m constantly amazed by what a tour de force, what genius it was. I have some live records of her doing it, and whatever country she was in she would do it in their language. That’s so deeply fantastic!
PIERRE HENRY & MICHEL COLOMBIER
MESSE POUR LE TEMPS PRESENT
The first side of this is a combination of a ’60s beat group and Pierre Henry doing his electronic amazingness on the top of it. Something about it just really works well, and it reminds me of some of the Delia Derbyshire stuff too, like the Dr Who theme. “Psyche Rock” is quite predictive, and presages Silver Apples and Suicide in some ways. Side Two is musique concrète stuff made with the sound of a door hinge opening and closing, so that’s a whole different universe! But Side One has been really influential on me – the tones of the electronics and the boldness with which he uses it.
ROAD RUNNER: THE CHESS MASTERS, 1959-1960
HIP-O SELECT, 2008
I know most people know him by name and recognise the Bo Diddley beat, but he’s incredibly underrated. He did so many beautiful rhythms on his songs, often using samba and tango beats, and mixing gospel, blues and South American rhythms. I think he rewrote the rulebook over and over again. He might be one of the people who could be credited with the roots of ’60s black soul music. What he did in the ’50s really created the form that everyone used, though I know a large part of that comes from gospel music. I’ve always loved the guy. I got to meet him once and jam with him on Jools Holland, which was pretty surreal!
The Sandpipers were a vocal-based group, and I fear they might have fallen into a middle-of-the-road rut. One of their songs that a lot of people might know is called “Inchworm”, and on this album they do a mixture of standards and covers. They do The Beatles’ “Things We Said Today” – but they’ve got beautiful voices and the whole record is really transcendental. When I moved to Portugal I had the privilege of being able to rediscover all my records again in a totally new environment; it’s really beautiful being able to listen to all this music in the mountains. Their vocals are something for me to aspire to, and I envy those who make it look so effortless, which The Sandpipers certainly do.
orchestral manoeuvres in the dark
ARCHITECTURE & MORALITY
Interestingly, they had two hits off this one, both called “Joan Of Arc”, both Top 5! Later on, I discovered that my mum’s childhood friend, Auntie Avril, used to get a teenage Andy McCluskey to babysit for her kids! I said to her, “I always really loved the first ‘Joan Of Arc’ song, I’d love to try a remix…” So she put us in touch, and Andy sent me both “Joan Of Arc” songs on 24-track, two-inch multitrack. I quickly realised when I got the tapes up that the first “Joan Of Arc” was actually a demo that had had bits added to it, and I couldn’t get it even close to sounding as awesome as the original!
TO BE A LOVER
BLACK SWAN, 1977
This is a Lee Perry-produced album, from what is probably his best period, around the same time as Junior Murvin’s Police And Thieves. They’re both perfect albums for me – beautiful songs, perfect production, and both subtly psychedelic, which Lee Perry is a genius at. I only found this about four years ago, and it wasn’t too easy to find, but it’s a fantastic record that I think has been overlooked. Someone asked me recently what music I would play on my birthday, and I feel like every time I listen to this record it genuinely feels as good as any birthday I ever had. I don’t know what more you could ask! I highly recommend this to anyone.