The Year 2020

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: 2020

I’ve had some pretty odd years in my 66 on this planet, but 2020 definitely ranks as the weirdest. Having already spent January in lockdown, self-imposed in order to write Alex Paterson’s biography, ‘Babble On An’ Ting’, all plans to burst back into the outside world when that was done vanished shortly after our event at London’s Troubadour to launch The Orb’s ‘Abolition Of The Royal Familia’ album.

Just as I was finishing the book, the news came through that Andrew Weatherall had passed away – suddenly and shockingly. Consequently, much of the ensuing weeks were spent playing his remarkable music, starting with that month’s release, his toupee-slicing, sci-fi dub single ‘Unknown Plunderer’/‘End Times Sound’, then reaching into the countless classics. I badly miss Andrew’s colossal presence railing against mundane normality. He leaves a black hole that will never be filled, but long-time creative partner Nina Walsh continues their Woodleigh Research Facility mission with her deeply moving ‘Interrobang’ EP on K7.

I then moved on to writing Simeon Coxe’s biography, ‘Oscillations: The Astonishing Story Of Simeon Coxe And Silver Apples’. All was going well and, thankfully, he liked the first draft. Just as I was hitting the home stretch, Simeon succumbed to the illness that hit him earlier this year. Now it will be his tribute.

It was good to see Sendelica’s Pete Bingham react positively to lockdown with four online volumes of ‘Sounds From The Isolation Zone’, created by electronic telegraph with Colin Consterdine as The Isolated Psychedelicists. This went paw in paw with The Lost Stoned Pandas, who I perch on a metaphysical bamboo shoot with as a satellite member. Debut album ‘Tune In, Turn On, Get Panda’d’ was one of the year’s highlights, compounded by the ‘Pandademic’ mini-album, led by an interstellar Orb remix of ‘The Great Lockdown Of 2020’. I was also honoured to write notes for ‘The Compleat Cromlech Chronicles’ boxset by the Sendelica mothership.

Elsewhere, 2020 has been enlivened considerably by albums from Alison Cotton and her Left Outsides partner Mark Nicholas, her record ‘Only Darkness Now’ and their album, ‘Are You Sure I Was There?’, conjuring a unique blend of pagan drone mystery and stained glass beauty.

Throw in Martin Rev’s Bureau B reissues of ‘See Me Ridin’’ and ‘Strangeworld’ (and other beguiling tackle on that esteemed label), The Cult Of Free Love’s panoramic ‘Visions’, Iggy collaborator Leron Thomas’ NYC mutant disco onslaught ‘More Elevator Music’, the Cabs’ ‘Shadow Of Fear’, Stanley/Wiggs curated ‘Cafe Exil: New Adventures In European Music 1972-1980’ and many more. It’s been a good year for music. Being here, soaking it in with Jack the dog beats a New York jail any day.

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