Library music is the holy grail of record collectors. In nondescript covers often with barely any information about the musicians for hire playing the tunes within, they were designed as background for film, television and radio. The beauty is that notable composers often slummed for quick cash, using aliases to hide their shame. Whilst there were numerous examples of top 40 rip offs and smooth jazz, occasionally artists would be let off the leash to engage in all manner of avant garde experimentations. And that’s the gold. They’ve been sampled extensively by hip hop artists, and have become a source of inspiration for a small niche of artists attracted to the freedom, wilful experimentation and moment in time nature of the music.
One example is UK’s The Focus Group, who mine British psychedelia, Italian horror movies and eastern European animation for inspiration, creating an exotic collage of sound that lingers in the past – reminiscences of memories that were never truly were. They came to prominence via 2009’s compelling collaboration with Broadcast, Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age (Warp), though have continued to release tantalising collage music where exotic instrumentation, processed samples and fragments of electronics collide. It’s the work of Julian House, co founder of Ghost Box (a label that specialises in hauntology), who’s new album Stop-Motion Happening With The Focus Group (Ghost Box) offers woozy fragments of eccentric aged audio memorabilia that could have come from anywhere in the last five decades.