Steven Jones + Logan Sky : Rare Vol. 2 UK CASS 
- Deluxe Tourist
- The Now Crowd (fast shutter)
- The Language Of Intrigues
- This Space is Transforming
- Supply Pre:Order
- Black Clouds (dub mix)
- Paint & Porno (on tape)
- Rotating Angels (out of the box)
- Spider’s Kiss (extended)
- Lovers & Losers (early version)
- European Lovers (prologue)
- Blood Moon (apparition)
Last year, Steven Jones + Logan Sky began their V.I.P. subscription service and it’s already time for another subscriber perk. Another cassette of loose tracks, some vintage, most contemporary, and a couple so shiny they smell like a new car. On their last tape we only got the “Deluxe Tourist [prologue]” which certainly tantalized, but now it’s been fleshed out into a darkly sinister scenario which marked it as perhaps thematically linked to the fantastic “Corrupt State” material of a few years back. I love it when they get dystopian and political as it reflects the here and now!
“All your assets have been seized,
A nation down on its knees
I rule with an iron fist,
I’m a deluxe… tourist” – “Deluxe Tourist”
If this song arrived late to the “Corrupt State” party, then I’m glad it’s here for us now. The glitched out ending was laying it on a bit thick, thank goodness.
The next song was the earliest material here, as they had a remix of “The Now Crowd [fast shutter]” from their 2015 “Polaroids” EP. The warm tremolo of the Fender Rhodes played well with the string patches and bass synth. It was a lovely, poppy number as dedicated to the late Steve Strange. Depeche Mode was one of the touchstones 0f their early sound and this might have fit on “A Broken Frame.” But it served here to mark just how far their instrumental sound had matured in the ensuing four years.
Next, a pair of songs with Visage comrade Lauren Duvall guesting on duets with Jones manifested in the flow. “The Language Of Intrigues” was one of their smoldering specialties. Let it not be said that the duo don’t have a handle on their electro-perv side. This and “This Space Was Transforming” were some of the of the tunes that their email list got a few years back and they’re too beautiful to have been lost to the mists of the fast moving digital world. Their last tape had a different mix of “Transform This Space” but the less rubbery lead lines fit the song much better this time out. Another track that has mutated from the last tape was “Supply Pre:Order.” The last time, it was called “Supply Data [Russian Intervention]” and now it was an almost dub edit of the track, which concerned Cambridge Analytica, so yes, it’s still darkly relevant material that might have dated from the “Corrupt State” project. That album had a very different track called “Supply Chains” which this resembled nothing in the slightest.
The segue between that song and the next track, a dub mix of “Black Clouds” from the “Electric Eye” album on 2018, worked like a fiend as the range and sequencing of the material here fit together impressively well. As a longtime listener, one songs here I did not recognize the provenance of was the stellar “Paint + Porno [On Tape].” This one was a rare stab at a crepuscular space disco poised somewhere between Roland Romanelli and Cabaret Voltaire. Crazy, but true. With diaphanous femmevox backing this one up it had legs for days. Where did this come from?! I need more music like this, please. And bonus points for picking up the erotic/paint metaphor that I think has sat shamefully unused on the shelf since 1982’s “Paint Me Down.”
A pair of alternate versions of material from their last opus, “Rotating Angels,” brought the timeline of the tape almost up to date. This was material that showed how the band had successfully slotted Ebow guitar from Jan Linton into their sound for the next step forward. “Rotating Angles [out of the box]” had stripped that title track of its quirky rhythm loops to find a new and poised center between the methodical lead lines of Logan Sky juxtaposed against the keening Ebow of Linton. The ensuing changes gave the track even more gravitas. “Spider’s Kiss” had not been drastically changed in spite of now being almost twice as long, but with a dark, evil throbber like this one, that’s nothing inconsequential! Steven Jones’ delivery of the lyric remained devastating.
Next, the tape took a leap into the future with two tracks from the next Jones + Sky album, given here in trailer form. I was delighted to see that the inclusion of Linton last album was not a one-off as his textural support here allowed the band to flourish in new and sophisticated ways as their sound has moved out of the synthpop ghetto to become an emotive force of songwriting to be reckoned with. The tantalizing glimpse of “European Lovers [prologue]” featured rhythmic piano up front with the Polymoog taking a back seat to ascend to the same plateau that Numan had attained on his vastly underrated “Dance.” Jones + Sky have dramatically expanded the reach their work over the last five or so years as reflected in this tape. Best of all the latest material revealed a Great Leap Forward so vibrant as to make Mao jealous. If you are receptive to receiving this [and the future music of 2020] when it ships to subscribers in February, then maybe their subscription model is for you too? £20 a year nets the listener their full catalog, several new main projects, as well as subscriber-only compilations of material that was too good not to compile, like these songs.
– 30 –
I don’t follow either of the principles on this release, however, this retro trend of trying to breathe life into cassette tapes needs to be burned, MERCILESSLY, with a giant freaking flamethrower.
Tape was a garbage medium decades ago and nothing is going to fix it.
Maybe they can try to revive 78’s or wax cylinders next.
Tim – It’s crazy, the resurgence of tape, but it’s worth pointing out that the subscription comes with uncompressed WAV files of everything as the Bandcamp platform is all things to all people. If making a tape [cheaper than vinyl to make, yet still analog] given them an edge, so be it. Given that Logan Sky is assiduously analog in his sound design [though he mixes in a DAW] that makes a kind of sense. Especially for a younger guy like him who may have missed the heyday of the compact cassette, unlike us.
I have bought three cassettes in the 21st century. Almost as many as I purchased in the 20th century. Two of them came with DL files, tellingly. The Prince “Versace” cassette of last year’s RSD offered a cance to hear music costing thousands of dollars [if you could have laid hands on one] at “normal” prices, so yes, I bit. Only to see that the same calendar year, the material was available on CD format!
Now that’s what I can’t respect. Save your ire for things that are distributed on really restrictive lo-fi formats, like lathe-cut singles, and music only on picture disc!
Nope boss, my true ire is for things like the FGTH uberdeluxe box which compounded the sin of including a cassette with being only available for sale in two countries.
What a business plan.
Home taping isn’t killing music but cruddy distribution isn’t helping.
Tim – Oooooooh…! Forgot all about that hateful object! Good thing I don’t “collect” FGTH.
It’s amazing what these guys have done given the old sound with the new and Logan always like the analogue sounds and uses them really well ,,, it’s got a raw sound of elegance on tape ,, they have inspired many with their flamboyant sounds of new romantism ,,, pure genius material ,,, thanks post monk for a lovely review ,,, I support these guys always much love ricky jeorgensen ,,,
Richard Jones – Welcome to the comments! After VIsage ended, I was glad I thought to see what Logan Sky had gotten up to. One look at the Vox-centric artwork for the “Desire Lines” EP and I thought to myself, “…ooooooooh… this could be good!” Their music has become not just something I enjoy personally, but often give as gifts.
I’m with Tim on this. Cassettes were a terrible format then and still are.
But hey, if people want to throw away good money on a format that sounds bad, and will fall apart after a few listens then have at it.
The format I want to see make a comeback is the CD. Maybe it doesn’t have the hipster vibe of vinyl but it is more durable that either vinyl of cassette, yet it is on death watch while the crapy cassette returns? Somebody, please explain this to me.
I’m just tired of having to go on a big hunt to find a new release on CD. I really don’t have the space for the old vinyl I’ve had for years that sits in boxes in a closet, let alone for new vinyl (which is very pricey) so it simply is not an option.
Nortley – You’re preaching to the choir. I’ve seen my all-time favorite format, CDs, dry up in all of the stores in town excdpt for two. One of the stores downtown just had a tiny flip rack with about 20 disc in it last year! Beyond insulting! And the “hip” store has been hacking away at the floor space given to the discs with a fervor that make sme less inclined to visit. I was just talking to Mr. Ware yesterday and we are wondering…where are the CDs going? Are they just being buried in dumps??!
For me it is Amazon, at least for new CDs. There just aren’t really much in the way of other options. I’ll stick with the format as long as it is available. Vinyl isn’t practical for me and cassettes are a nonstarter. The only upside to the CD’s decline is that they are a lot cheaper, especially in the used bins.
Another gripe: I can remember when CDs were taking over vinyl (and I was a vinyl holdout in the day) and the labels would put bonus tracks on CDs in their drive to kill off vinyl. Today it is the opposite. Vinyl gets the special treatment with bonus tracks, CDs no.
And oh yeah, a couple of years ago the Barnes and Noble near me got rid of almost all of their CD section (it still sells some select new titles) and replaced it with vinyl. Just out of curiosity I took a quick look to see what vinyl they had and was stunned. Toto? Hall and Oates? REO Speedwagon? Supertramp? Is there really THAT much demand for vinyl that? Who in the 21st century is waking up in the morning and thinking “what I need to do today is go buy and REO Speedwagon on vinyl for $34.99?
As for where the CDs are all going, I don’t know. Thrift stores often have a lot as do any store that still sells used ones. For know I’ll do my part to keep some out of the landfill.
Nortley – Well, yeah. Used CDs are cheap, if you can track them down. But its hard in my town. Your B+N tale rings true from the last time I was in one, 1-2 years back looking for a calendar – yes I’m THAT old. A huge vinyl collection of awful things that used to fill dollar bins in real record stores.
It can vary from B&N to B&N stores. Another one in town has a bigger selection of CDs both current and back catalogue titles, although it has shrunk a bit in favor of seemingly random back catalog of vinyl titles.
Probably 85% of the new CDs I buy are from Amazon. I miss getting lost in music stores.
Nortley – I can’t say I get too much enjoyment from record stores these days. Any product I want to buy is just not there any more.