Sounds like: "Young kids in a red pick-up truck driving along a beach, then heading to a smoke-filled jazz club in the evening."
Most people know Tom Furse as the dude who holds down bass and keyboard duties in The Horrors, but he recently announced a project of his own. In conjunction with Universal Publishing Production Music (UPPM) and Lo Recordings, Furse has spent some time digging through the vast archive of the Southern Library of Recorded Music to curate a compilation of music that pays homage his love of the exotica genre.
The Southern Library of Recorded Music is a specialist production music label owned by UPPM, and—following in the footsteps of well-curated compilations from Luke Vibert and Barry 7—Furse's compilation cherry picks tracks from both popular and relatively unknown composers. Most have never been commercially available and almost all have been forgotten by the sands of time.
With a straight forward title, Tom Furse Digs, this latest library music LP is an exercise in finding the diamonds amongst the rough, or, as Furse previously described in a statement, the "shining and unique oddities, the bastard sounds of pop fancy."
Listen to the compilation (which also includes the following tracks not on the stream: "For Joan To Dance To" by Eugene Cines, "Riga Road" and "Moonstone" by Reinhard Egin and Mike Run, and "Homing In" by Larry Kraman) and read our chat with Tom about the project below.
Noisey: So all these tracks were picked from the Southern Library of Recorded Music. Can you explain more about what that is?
Tom: So Universal Publishing Production Music's Southern Library of Recorded Music is a production music label that would supply music to TV shows, adverts, or films that needed music but couldn’t afford to commission their own. Whether you needed a sitar workout or a smokey jazz groove, Southern would be able to cover your needs, and they employed some brilliant composers to write the music. There were and are lots of different labels all over the world producing music for this purpose, and although a lot of it is distinctly average and unexciting there are some really wonderful albums out there.
What was the selection process for the record? What were you looking for?
Well, at first I listened to every Southern album that Universal had in their archive, which is more or less a tiny office in Fulham. That’s probably about 35 albums, so I scanned through them quickly. I realised a deeper listen was in order and recorded every track that I thought sounded cool into my computer. There’s such a variety of sounds it was hard to know what direction to take the album. I’ve had a long standing interest in exotica, surf and jazz so I think the selection was really shaped by that. There was also a visual aspect to it as well, certain tracks conjured certain images in my head and I started thinking of it like a film that I was soundtracking. Young kids in a red pick-up truck driving along a beach, then heading to a smoke-filled jazz club in the evening, that kind of thing.
Do you think you found stuff that hasn’t be widely heard in a long time?
I don’t think much of this music, if any, has ever been commercially available. It’s a rare privilege to get to do that, sharing music is such a big part of the experience of enjoying it so to get to go dig through bunch of records and share what I’ve found is a joy. It’s the same with DJing, you get to blow peoples minds with that first listen.
You’ve been into exotica and that kind of music for a while, but what really surprised you of the tracks on this record?
I suppose one thing that really impressed me was the range of styles and sounds that the composers were exploring. These guys could write classical pieces or do freaked-out electronic jazz, and do both with style. Or they could totally abandon style all together and do something so completely ridiculous no self-respecting musician would go anywhere near. In many ways I suppose some of the most surprising stuff isn’t on the compilation. I wanted this to be a good listen, so chose tracks I felt were satisfying as musical experiences. But there are some pretty crazy electronic experiments on Southern that aren’t really that successful as pieces of music but quite astounding in terms of their experimental nature.
And is there one track you felt a particular connection to?
It’s very hard to choose but I suppose "Tarzan Talk" by Johnny Scott was always a personal favorite. Such a great tune, so much energy and melody. "Everglades" is an interesting one as well, it’s very late on in the Southern canon so has a bit of a different sound. To be honest it’s meant to be a listening experience, to be heard from start to finish. That’s when it makes the most sense, that’s what I feel a connection with, the atmosphere that they create as a whole.
Tom Furse Digs will be available on limited edition vinyl in the UK from 8.7 and UPPM will release the album for licensing here. As a sister release to the compilation, Tom will be releasing his debut solo EP Child Of A Shooting Star, which was inspired by it.