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Never Mind The Mercury! It’s The Jovian Bow Shock Prize 2012
John Doran , September 12th, 2012 08:39

After literally four people complained about our alternative to the Mercury Prize not running last year we decided to revive it, and not a moment too soon, it seems…

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The Holland And Barrett Mercury Prize (formerly the Werthers Originals Mercury Prize and before that the Mmmm Danone Mercury Prize) was set up in 1992 as an alternative to the Brits, in the same way that myxomatosis was set up in the Australian outback in 1950 as an alternative to rabbits. It is an annual honour which is bestowed on the UK/Irish group with the best album and designed to stop them from ever having critical or commercial success ever again. The winner is selected from a dozen long players are in turn chosen to represent the health and vitality of the UK music industry.

And when they say the “best”, they mean the best! Past nominees include Sting, Take That, Spice Girls, Propellorheads, Stereophonics, Mumford & Sons, Richard Ashcroft, The Turin Breaks, The Thrills, Snow Patrol, Maximo Park, Hard-Fi, The View, Anaal Nathrakh, Crispy Ambulance and The Guillemots. So they know what they’re talking about.

So our very own Jovian Bow Shock Award – which wasn’t totally ripped off Drowned In Sound’s Neptune Award and is in no way similar to Line Of Best Fit’s Jupiter Award; Artrocker’s Van Allen Belt Award; the 405’s Ganymede Award or Rhythm Guitarist’s Attack Ships On Fire Off The Shoulder Of Orion Award – is a list of 12 albums which we feel are more suitable candidates to be considered the best of British. As in the past, we’ve basically made a list of good albums that came out during the same period (July 10, 2011 – September 10, 2012) except our list was drawn up in about 40 minutes while drinking a pot of tea.

Anyway here’s our dozen albums. The Jovian Bow Shock Award is sponsored by Rasa on Church Street, Stoke Newington and when we decide who has won we’re going to take them out for a meal there. Hopefully for a chilli rava dosa, tamarind rice, bagar baingan, kovakka olathiathu and thakalli curry, because that stuff is badass.

Please let us know what your shortlist would contain and who you would like to see win from ours.

Listed in alphabetical order

Actress – RIP
(Honest Jons)

Previous records by Darren Cunningham have apparently been fueled by quite stunning quantities of high grade weed smoke. With RIP he's gone straight to mainlining headstone marble, making his crystalline house/techno/static sculptures even more freakishly beautiful than before.

Read our review here

Amebix – Sonic Mass
(Amebix/Easy Action)

Sonic Mass is like Game Of Thrones with added Neurosis and Killing Joke, and is a go to example of why some reformations are really worth holding out for.

Read our review here

Beak - >>
(Invada)

Beak finally hit their stride as a group in their own right, with this immensely enjoyable platter that yet again has a title designed to destroy website content management systems.

Read our review here

Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland - Black Is Beautiful
(Hyperdub)

Hype Williams reverted to their (fake) real names for this Hyperdub LP. Lo-fi dub for alleyways, street corners and grubby old bars, complete with a pulsing beast of a centrepiece track that spills toxic vibrations outward from the speakers like chemical ooze.

Read our review here

Carter Tutti Void – Transverse
(Mute)

Half a year after release, this stunning live document still remains on constant rotation at tQ HQ, much to the distress of the hippies.

Read our review here

East India Youth – Total Strife Forever
(self release)

I hate making a rod for my own back... but we do listen to every single CD we're given and when a young man in a flamboyant shirt pressed his demo on us recently we knew it was something special, unsigned or not. More on EIY soon...


Eccentronic Research Council featuring Maxine Peake – 1612 Underture
(Bird)

When's the last time you were reminded that the execution of the Pendle Witches 400 years ago was, in actual fact, a gross miscarriage of justice? The Eccentronic Research Council (move on hauntologists, nothing to see here) go even further than that, and use the subject as fuel for one of the most marvelous, bizarre and indisputably British pop records we've heard this year.

Read our review here

Gravenhurst - The Ghost In Daylight
(Warp)

I suppose in some ways this makes me as bad as the fusty old bugger saying that it's not British folk unless it was an original song farted out of the arse of a farmhand onto proto-shellac in 1753, but to my mind the music of Gravenhurst is a form of indigenous music right in an earthy British tradition. The Ghost In Daylight is a meditative piece that uses sea fog vocals and lurking, then fast flowing brooks of guitars to paint an esoteric picture of these Isles, where doubt and modern certainties are fed by a sense of something ancient and intangible.

Read our review here

JK Flesh – Post Human
(3 by 3)

In which Justin 'Godflesh' Broadrick reanimates his electronic tendencies and pumps them full of of industrial-strength steroids, before laying into his audience with a cast-iron, dubstep-flavoured wrecking ball.

Read our review here

Richard Skelton – Verse Of Birds
(Æolian Editions)

Much waffle is currently being written about 'indie classical', with Nico Muhly and various Scandinavians feted for their combining of 'traditional' instruments and er, jumpers and plaid or something. Often ignored (or perhaps thankfully) in this spurious scene creation is Richard Skelton, who doesn't merely make music for broadsheet features, but takes the evocative power of strings on one hand, and high-end aesthetics in self-releasing, somewhere new. Verse Of Birds, its eddying drones, scraping violins and windswept atmospherics, is a magnificent hymn to the power of our landscape as a place in which to become lost, and pursue the essence of self.

Read our review here

Toy – Toy
(Heavenly)

Toy, like their pals the Horrors, are one of those bands who seem to upset a certain type of listener who, one suspects, haven't actually bothered to look beyond the haircuts. Their debut LP has pop songs leagues ahead of their indie peers still insisting on the 'woaoooooahh rinky dink dink bloop' aesthetic that has characterised the tight-jeaned genre in recent years. Recorded in just a ten days, it also doesn't yet feel like the band at the peak of their powers - future promise in a debut from a UK guitar group is a rare thing, these days.

Chris Watson – El Tren Fantasma
(Touch)

A founder member of Cabaret Voltaire, Chris Watson quit in order to study and work as a sound artist and sound recorder for the television. His functional work becomes music concrete on El Train Fantasma, an album made up of sound recorded for the Great Railway Journey series that was a highlight of Sunday nights in this writer's younger years. The clanks and rattles, roars and hiss were recorded on a line in Mexico that's now closed, lost to the rise of road and rail travel. This in part is what gives Watson's recording its poignancy. LT

Read our review here

Carpathian
Sep 12, 2012 1:04pm

Coming up with options for your list made me realise how few of my favourite albums of this year were actually British. You do, however, have the Carter Tutti Void release included so job done - may as well award it now.

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Sep 12, 2012 2:06pm

I love the Horrors, but Toy, really ? come on have you got a relative in the band or what?

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Rich-T
Sep 12, 2012 4:07pm

Ha! You wish Anaal Nathrakh was ever in the Mercurys...

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Kent Brockman
Sep 12, 2012 5:04pm

Toy are perhaps one of the most boring bands to tout Neu! as an influence. Also the most interesting they have to say is usually about their analogue synth in between slagging their previous band off.
They're The new Diet Horrors (previously a title held by Scum before they turned into Suede with delay pedal on Setraline. Bright White Shimmering Light is alright but i think the omitted that from the album. Haven't heard the LP but to be honest i don't really want to because their like watching an episode of Grange Hill after school cos nothing else is on.

The Hype Williams record isn't their best. I thought The Narcissist II mix tape was better.

As much as i like Beak it'd be a sorry state of affairs if that was the best album produced in Britain this year.

The Actress album is musical wallpaper full of half realised ideas.

The Carter Tutti Void album is really great but you've got to be in the mood for it.

Can't say i've heard the rest.

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Sep 12, 2012 7:18pm

In reply to Kent Brockman:

Cheer up Kent! At least you're not Surrey

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Andrew Parsons
Sep 13, 2012 2:51am

Good call on the Richard Skelton and Chris Watson albums, two outstanding albums. >> is excellent too. Toy on the other hand? Pants

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Stavros P. Leibowitz
Sep 13, 2012 6:07am

Toy? Come off it! They might be the Horrors-lite now but to me they'll always be the Jing Jang Jong. And that's just unforgivable.

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EarlGinger
Sep 13, 2012 6:07am

I concur with the above - Carter Tutti Void by several hundred leagues. I suspect Toy have blackmail material on TQ considering the amount of column inches they're given. C'mon just get it out in the open, then they'll have no power over you.
Quite enjoyed East India Youth, sounds like a Fuck Buttons side project.
Can i propose Shackletons Drawbar Organ Sessions for a runner-up? Or do ex-pats not count?

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Hairinthekeys
Sep 13, 2012 11:00am

In reply to EarlGinger:

Where's Shackletons 'Music for the quiet hour'. That is one of the most mind blowing pieces of music i've heard in a long time. Has the Quietus even heard it?

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Schmercury
Sep 13, 2012 10:05pm

Nice one for including Chris Watson and Carter Tutti Void, although I can't help thinking the latter would have made a bigger impact with a a studio album.

I would include this year's essentials:

Shackleton - Music for the Quiet Hour
Demdike Stare - Elemental 1-4
Jam City - Classical Curves

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Ezra Pound of Mince
Sep 15, 2012 9:30am

That Actress record is an amazing British record. The stuff he's been quietly smuggling into the world via his soundcloud is equally amazing and the mix he compiled earlier in the year for Dazed should have probably been put out on 12" (can someone do this?). The Carter Tutti Void release somehow managed to be better that the actual live performance which was cramped and meandering. Whoever said that 'Ebony' wasn't Dean & Inga's best is right. Draw Bar Organ was good. Looking forward to the new Andy Stott LP later in the year.

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Medieval.Barber
Sep 21, 2012 9:59am

Thanks

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Howard Drones
Oct 17, 2012 1:50pm

These five should all be there... the winner Bill Fay
Bill Fay 'life is people' (Dead Oceans)
Star Wheel Press 'Life cycle of a falling bird' (self-released)
Keston Cobblers' Club 'One, for words' (Beatnik Geek)
Richard Skelton 'Verse of birds' (Corbel Stone Press)
The Lovely Eggs 'Wildlife'

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Luke Turner
Nov 1, 2012 6:31pm

In reply to Howard Drones:

er... Verse Of Birds IS in there?!?

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Dig A Pony
Nov 1, 2012 7:03pm

In reply to Kent Brockman:

I wish you had closed that bracket.

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Dig A Pony
Nov 1, 2012 7:03pm

In reply to Kent Brockman:

I wish you had closed that bracket.

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Dig A Pony
Nov 1, 2012 7:03pm

In reply to Kent Brockman:

I wish you had closed that bracket.

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Luke
Nov 1, 2012 7:15pm

My vote is for Beak> please.

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Trachiotomy
Nov 3, 2012 9:39am

How much subterratechfearcreepoutrobodoom does one really need in one's record collection?

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grit bin
Nov 3, 2012 5:00pm

Would've liked to have seen Petar Dundov on here...

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Fatalist
Nov 4, 2012 8:27pm

I'd just like to say thank you Quietus people for introducing me to the Amebix album, which is still completely blowing me away. One of the most perfect albums I've heard in years.

Oh, and I've just gone and ordered the ERC album thanks to this piece, so cheers again!

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