Tom Ravenscroft's music blog

After a holiday, I'm ready to fall in love with music again. Listen here to what I've found.

I've just come back from a hugely undeserved holiday, in which I spent most of the week listening to absolutely no music at all -- except the odd bit of 1920s jazz over cocktails, of course. This rest on the ears has resulted in me returning with a sort of fresh palette, or rejuvenated tympanic membrane, with everything I hear sounding suspiciously brilliant.

I don't know whether to trust my ears, they seem a bit too easy to please. Since yesterday, they have fallen in love with the new Woods single "Pushing Onlys". Woods are essentially a bit hippie and very suited to the outbreak of summer. This is a teaser track from the album Sun and Shade which is out in June:

"Pushing Onlys" - Woods by forcefieldpr  

My ears have also become a little smitten with the entire works of a Brooklyn band called La Big Vic, who make music best suited for space:

Musica by La Big Vic  

There's more by them here.

Then there's an album by a serious-looking chap called Sven Kacirek from Hamburg, Germany. Sven has made an album called The Kenya Sessions, a part of something called the Project Tracing Dance, in which he combines his own noises with field recordings and live tracks collected whilst in Nairobi.

The video below is a little odd but the music is without question a treat -- and the featured voice of 80-year-old Ogoya Nengo is enough to make me never question my ears again.


Tom Ravenscroft's radio show is on BBC 6 Music at 9pm every Friday. He writes a monthly music column for the New Statesman print edition.

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Leader: Brexit and the future of the UK

The UK is worth preserving, yet it must be reconfigured if its constituent nations are to be better served.

The economic consequences of the Leave vote are becoming ever more severe. Rising prices, deferred investment and reduced vacancies all threaten prosperity and growth. The Conservative government’s signal that the United Kingdom may leave the single market has had the chilling effect that many warned of.

England and Wales can at least reflect that they voted for Brexit, but Scotland and Northern Ireland did not. By 62-38 and 56-44 respectively, both nations voted to remain in the EU. Now they face the prospect of a long, painful withdrawal. After the narrow vote against independence two years ago, Holyrood is understandably assessing its options. At the Scottish National Party’s conference in Glasgow, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to publish a draft bill for a second referendum on independence. “Hear this: if you think for one single second that I’m not serious about doing what it takes to protect Scotland’s interests, then think again,” she declared.

When a majority of Scots voted to remain in the UK, David Cameron had already promised to hold a referendum on UK membership of the EU. Yet he made this pledge in the belief that the vote would be won. The ensuing result and the UK’s likely withdrawal from the single market entitle the SNP to hold a second referendum. Should Britain leave the EU without having secured a new trade agreement with its former partners, Scotland’s economy would inevitably suffer.

Senior SNP figures are considering a pre-Brexit referendum in the hope that they would inherit the UK’s vacated seat in the bloc. That might be wishful thinking. “Twenty-seven [member states] would become 28 again,” said Mike Russell, the SNP’s Europe minister. A vote could be staged in the two years between the government invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the UK’s anticipated withdrawal.

As well as the Scottish Question, there is the Irish Question to consider. The risks posed to Northern Ireland and the republic by Brexit are greater than those facing Scotland. The UK is one of the republic’s largest export markets, with €1.5bn of transactions each week. However, it is the political fallout on the island of Ireland, rather than the economic consequences, that should trouble us most.

Although the prime ministers of both countries have ruled out the return of a hard border between the north and south, the Leave vote has undermined the peace settlement. The principle that no change should be made to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without the consent of its people has also been imperilled. In Northern Ireland as in Scotland, the problem remains a UK that exaggerates the power of an overmighty England.

For Theresa May, the disunities within the kingdom are a threat and an opportunity. We have long argued that the UK, the most centralised state in Europe, should fully embrace federalism, with far greater powers devolved from Westminster. The UK, perhaps the most successful multinational state in modern history, is worth preserving. Yet it must be reconfigured if its constituent nations are to be better served. Brexit makes this task not merely desirable, but essential. 

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood