The exuberance of Youth
Long-standing producer Martin Glover, aka Youth, is about to host the upcoming Puretone Resonate Festival at his El Mirador studio.
We caught up with the former Killing Joke bassist to ask him what it feels like to be opening the doors of his beloved studio complex - dubbed Space Mountain - and to dig through the playlist of his life.
Tell us about El Mirador - it looks stunning. What was the inspiration behind the whole project, and what was the most important thing you were trying to achieve with the design?
“El Mirador, AKA Space Mountain, was inspired by the Together Alone album I did with Crowded House in New Zealand in ‘93. We hired a beautiful modernist, minimal house. It was a brutalist, concrete bunker, but the doors opened out to this huge vista over a valley down to black sand beaches.
“I loved the experience of recording in wild nature like that and was determined to one day build a space that could facilitate that for myself. 10 years later I found the perfect location, Andalusia. I bought the land and began planning and building my dream studio.
“15 years later and I have no regrets. The design and orientation have been strictly overseen to cosmic principles and the energy there flows like a crystal stream. The main priority in the criteria was environment; I found a beautifully fierce one here, next to the high sierras. It has lots of light and epic skyscapes to counterpoint 20 years of dark, dingy basement studios.”
How does Puretone Resonate fit around your setup there? How do you feel about opening your doors in this way, and what's the overall ethos of the festival?
“I’m very happy to open up Space Mountain for other people to enjoy and be inspired by. Music is invisible architecture, so many of the principles and ratios of tone (pure tone frequency) relate to architectural principles of ratio and proportion, too. Spacial dimensions apply - what you leave out is more important than what you put in, for example.”
Finally, do you have anything in the pipeline you'd like to tell us about?
“At the moment I'm working on a few projects: album production for Holly Cook; I’m half way through a Lee Scratch Perry album; a new Orb album with Roger Eno for Kompact Records; and a David Tibet solo collaboration on House of Mythology, both imminent.”
1. Steve Hillage & Miquette Giraudy - Rainbow Dome Music
“Sublime ambient masterpiece featuring Miquette Giraudy (Steve told me this album was mainly Miquette). Very much in the Kosmische vibe of Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh. An utterly sublime piece of music - Steve's signatory glissando guitars technique is like liquid mercury down the spine.
“When I signed Steve and Miquette to my label Butterfly in the early ‘90s as System 7 (for the first three albums), I was forever banging on about them doing a follow up to this, but always they would say it was impossible.
“However, just a few days ago, Steve mentioned to me they were going do it live at Boom festival. To close the festival but only after the promoters had guaranteed that the main sound system was shut down beforehand so there would be no bleed. Now that is something I'd love to see.”
2. Marianne Faithfull - Broken English
“Such a great, honest album which really reminds me of John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. Recorded as punk was breaking in the late ‘70s, you can hear the edgy influence through the synths, guitars and the raw emotional vocals and lyrics.
“Possibly one of the only pieces of music I've played in the car that has offended my kids (‘why'dya do what you do’)! Quite an achievement, considering their generation has grown up with Eminem and rap.”
3. Popol Vuh - In Den Garten of Pharaohs
“In my 50s they are the band I listen to most. Florian Fricke's spiritual vision is apparent throughout the album - its slow and serpentine curves deduce into a state of transcendence. It's out of this world music… magical.
“This and many more of their albums contain this high velocity, emotional ambient journeying through cinematic soundscapes (all their albums are soundtracks to various movies by Werner Herzog).
“This album defies classification and genre. It bleeds into classical, folk and spiritual music. I meditate to this in the mornings. Listen with your heart, it's all there.”
4. Don Cherry and Latif Khan - Music/Sangam
“Don is a huge influence. An early pioneer of genre crossing world music and strange, found-music with jazz. Even before Can were experimenting, Don was way ahead of the pack.
“Here, he's unleashing the untamed and noisy, yet there are so many subtle moments of peace and calm, too. Check out the incredible tabla on this song by Latif Khan.”
5. Sun Ra - The Heliocentric World Of Sun Ra
“Sun Ra and his Arkestra revolutionised jazz and contemporary music with his eclectic cosmic visions and strange juxtaposed musical themes and sound collages and free improvisation. A complete deconstruction of what you thought you knew about what music is, as well as being aesthetically pleasing to listen too.
“I love big bands. Sun Ra now is very hip. He is the antidote to generic, facile pop and young people seem to get it - His last compilation went top 10.”
6. Neu! - Neu!
“Michael Rother is one of the few geniuses to have been an instrumental architect of at least two or three other genres of music. Kosmische or Krautrock being one of them: the pulsing synth and otherworldly guitars layered like waterfalls are hugely influential, but it's the ‘Motorik’ beat that has the enduring appeal.
“He has a strict Autobahn philosophy of traveling without moving by electronic sound - the sound of otherworldly liquid atmospheres.
7. War - The World Is A Ghetto
“Hugely influential when I was 16. I used to have a record player that I would repeat play the album on. I’d go to sleep to this and then wake up to it in the morning.
“The arrangements are unusual - Four Cornered Room is epic, almost nine minutes, with phased vocals and flanged drums. A psychedelic masterpiece for a bedsit teenager at the time. And the title track summed up the reality of the times. Deep soul music.”
8. Laraaji - Ambient 3: Day of Radiance
“This is one of the not so familiar in Brian Eno’s Ambient series. It features Hammered Dulcimer by Laraaji (AKA Edward Larry Gordon) and is produced by Eno himself.
“Very hypnotic, relentless and beguiling, and good for meditation, too. I love the story that Eno put his phone number in Gordon’s hat while he was busking in NYC. Strangely, his friends had recommended he check Eno’s albums out the day before - sweet serendipity working throughout.
“The space of the sound and subtle synth enhancement is sublime. Next to the Velvets, it's the perfect Sunday morning chill.”
9. Betty Blue Soundtrack
“Betty Blue the movie is amazing, directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix and starring the incredibly beautiful Béatrice Dalle. It made a huge impression on me in my early ‘20s, as did the Diva movie and soundtrack.
“My first foray into European cinema and European sound aesthetics. Like a lot of French art, it's a tragedy. It’s very ‘80s and it's got the French melancholy that I love.”
10. Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson
“An album my dad used to play a lot in the ‘70s when I was a young teenager. This and Isaac Hayes were firm favourites when he had girlfriends over. Great songs, great vibes - a great Sunday afternoon coming down album.
“It’s authentic and informed songwriting with lots of Beatles influences - laid back but tight, experimental and innovative. Intimate, yet with huge production at times, such as the strings on Without You and the detuned bass on Jump Through The Fire.
“LCD Soundsystem did a great cover of this one, and some of these beats have found their way onto Orb recordings of the past as samples.”