It’s always surreal, when a well-known figure passes away, reading what the media focus on as their major achievements, if only because it might illuminated the parochialism of your own understanding of a person’s work.
I was sad to hear that Andrew Weatherall passed away yesterday but I never really knew that much about him. I knew him as a DJ and had heard a bunch of his mixes over the years but never looked any further into his discography to discover, for example, that he worked with Primal Scream and produced Screamadelica.
That’s also probably because I never really liked Screamadelica… That’s an album the boys at school liked who were also into Oasis and The Stone Roses… Not my crowd…
I did, however, like The Sabres of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen — two projects I also only just discovered he worked on; two projects I only just discovered were related.
I remember back in 2011 I was trying to recommend The Caretaker’s new album to someone who was an old raver and when they asked what the music was like I said: “haunted dancehall”.
They were all over it in a flash and it was only later, when they came back disgruntled, that I later realised what I really meant to say was “haunted ballroom”…
But we ended up having a good record listening sesh at their house and they put on Sabres of Paradise and I liked it a lot.
I particularly liked it with no context and no background. I liked the mystery of it. It felt oddly like a library record. On listening to it, I had no desire to find out any more and ruin the mystery.
It was around that same time — probably within a few months of that botched recommendation — that I picked up Two Lone Swordsmen’s Tiny Reminders from a record shop in Cardiff, also without having any idea what it was about. I only knew I liked its playfulness and odd familiarity, like someone had just heard a bunch of grooves and gone back to their bedroom to have a go at recreating what they’d heard only passively. It’s close to something you know but it has a certain naivety to it that is really enchanting, like if Jandek made dance music or something… Like if the Autechre boys never grew up…
Anyway, RIP Andrew Weatherall. Thanks for the mysteries.