Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stockhausen and Turner RIP

Just come back from ATP to find this double-whammy...

Karlheinz Stockhausen 1928-2007
I'm not going to pretend to be an authority on his work, but even I know that he was a legend. Stockhausen was one of the pioneers of electronic music and 20th century composition. Hugely influential in his use of primitive electronics and tape machines, his influence extends to Krautrock, techno, experimental rock, and modern composition. Maybe there would even have been no Can without Stockhausen? Suppose it's one of those "what if..." questions, but still...really wish I went to that gig he did in a fish market in East London a while ago now. Bet it was awesome.
Ike Turner 1931-2007
For this tune (clip below) with Madame Turner on vocals long before she was mates with Mick Jagger (the 80s did strange things to the careers of music legends). Goodnight London still has it on Tamla Motown 7", like the sad record collector nerd that I am. He looks the business in this clip. And this song still sound enormous on record (Phil Spector, I believe?).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Not long now...

...until ATP curated by Portishead. Things I am looking forward to:
- Silver Apples on at around 1:30am
- ditto for Jah Shaka Sound System, who sound terrifying and seriously bass-heavy
- ditto for Aphex Twin, hopefully sans sandpaper machine
- the Sunday triumphate of Earth, Boris and Sun O))), on one after the other, which could well send the bouncers into tears
- Fuck Buttons, whenever they are on. And A Hawk And A Hacksaw
- Glenn Branca playing twice (though one of his sets is fifteen minutes?!)
- whatever films Portishead choose to host on the ATP Portishead TV channel
- the sheer surreality of seeing GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan playing at Butlin's in Somerset
Things I'm possibly not looking forward to:
- getting soaked while walking to the venue from the chalet
- feeling hungover and soaked while watching said bands
- rubbish food in the venue
- queing to watch bands in the Centre Stage

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lady Jaye RIP

Some great events going on as part of the celebrations to herald twenty five years of The Wire's existence. Various happenings included a celebration of Finnish psych folk and drone at Bush Hall that was punctuated by a blistering set from guitar and drums duo Pymathon. Then there was also an all-dayer at Cargo beginning at 5pm which saw Jackie O-Motherfucker headline at something like 11:30pm on a Sunday night, reduced to a trio because of illness, and ended with an argument with a member of the audience. It was that kind of day. Still, Jackie-O weren't bad for what it's worth, and earlier on the venue saw the spectre of some wonderfully strange acts - Birds of Delay, Polly Shang Kuan Band (above), The Sound Of The Exquisite Corpse, Axolotl - all of which produced some seriously out-there drone and improvised music. Then again, I could have done without Talibam!, a 'zany' duo with a terrible name and even worse music, and the even more comedic Putting On The Ritz playing in the bar area. Shame the gig at Shoreditch Town Hall - a venue with some amazing endless passageways and catacombs in it's basement, as Goodnight London discovered recently - with the Boredoms and Michael Gira was sold out.
The screening of the documentary about Genesis P-Orridge and his partner Lady Jaye at the Roxy Bar & Screen was of particular interest, though, given Throbbing Gristle's recent resurrection - a band hugely influential in their own right. The scenes of Mr P-Orridge (Neil Megson by birth) with his partner are strangely touching, especially given the recent sad news of Lady Jaye's passing due to stomach cancer. Always one to espouse the visual, interactive, and participatory side of art, P-Orridge's discussions on camera about the 'project'-like nature of his part sex-change - which involved breast implants in order to somehow 'fuse' or 'become one' with his partner to create a 'pandrogynous' synthesis entitled Genesis Breyer P-Orridge - are among the most interesting in the documentary, particularly when much of the doc follows him on tour with Psychic TV or Thee Majesty or whoever it is he's playing with. Whether Ms Jaye participated in reciprocal body modification to appear more, well, manly, is unclear.
I have to admit I tittered a bit at the scene in which P-Orridge elaborated on how the human race must embrace pandrogyny in order to advance to the next stage of human evolution. Daring transgressive artists living in New York and attending galleries such as P-Orridge is one thing, but whether Dave from Telford is willing to ascribe to this next step is another. I suppose it depends on whether you subscribe to the belief that humans have reached the limit of our evolution, or whether evolution is a constant, modifying force in our life which we simply don't notice. In any case, pandrogyny is essentially artificial, i.e. created synthetically by doctors in the surgery clinic.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Third Recluse night this Thursday (29th November 2007)

...and it's free! And it's in a wicked venue!! And there's more posts to come on this blog soon!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

RIP Stylus magazine

A great website bites the dust...
and some new music writing by me here - an e-mail interview with Six Organs of Admittance on Pennyblackmusic.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The World is a Surreal Place indeed (part 2)

Anyone who went to the Shoreditch Festival in the summer, in which Mr Har Mar Superstar headlined - yes, him of the fat belly, moustache, redneck appearance, and inevitable desire to take his clothes off onstage while doing mediocre Prince impressions - may have saw an indie band further down the bill with an amusing name. No, I'm not referring to Selfish C*nt, but Bono Must Die, who were on the X-Box (?!)Stage. Now, I'm not one to condone random violence against celebrities, but most 'cult' bands are supposed to have stupid names. Personally, I think the existence of such outfits as Half Man Half Biscuit, Pissed Jeans and Fuck Buttons are necessary and important additions to modern humanity's existence, and give meaning to life.
Anyway, the real Bono, in unbelievably self-important fashion, has threatened the band with his lawyers. There's something inherently hilarious about the singer of one of the biggest bands of the world - if you don't count that American Express-sponsored, increasingly embarrassing outfit known as the Rolling Stones - threatening a law suit against a suitably trashy-looking minor Shoreditch band (well, they're Shoreditch in spirit anyway) that probably barely plays outside the area. Exactly how many records have BMD sold? Of course, it no doubt came about because of Bob Geldof - who else? - being less than impressed at his daughter's fondness for said outfit. And Geldof and Bono are mates, right? I can just see them in the pub, and the look on Bono's face when Geldof relays the news. Does Bono not have better things to do with him time? Like, discover irony or have a photo opportunity with the Pope, or something?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

hello everyone...been busy moving house and checking out the delights of Berlin. But watch this space for some posts this week!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Now this is something I wish I'd seen....

As urban guerrilla sounding in it's own way as Throbbing Gristle, drum 'n' bass or techno, Glenn Branca has always produced some awe-inspiring music. My particular favourites are 'Lesson No.1 for Electric Guitar' and 'The Ascension', in which you can hear the endless oscillating strands of sound that come from multiple guitars. Presumably an orchestra of one hundred guitars at once would produce endless micro-tonal possibilities? I actually think that the two tracks by him mentioned above sort of predate genres like shoegazing and post-rock that we've become used to. There's not a huge difference between the tracks and some of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's work, for example. Or Seefel's 'Quiqe'. Anyway, this gig is something I wish I'd went to, along with the Boredoms gig in New York, in a park with 77 drummers on the 7th July 2007, at 7pm, which would perfectly fit their frenzied drum incantations:

Sadly, though, I couldn't go to Branca, due to relocating this weekend to a new house near Walthamstow Dog Tracks of all places, where my famous neighbours will include Blazin' Squad, Daniella Westbrook (her of the nose sans septum), Teddy Sheringham, and - of course - Brian Harvey. Exactly how I've gone from Glenn Branca to Brian Harvey in one post I don't know. Still, Branca's playing two sets at the Portishead ATP in December (including one set with 'special guests' - no doubt Thurston Moore will be among them, as he's doing a solo set too), so will catch him then.

Following on from my post about the Spitz...

...we will also shortly see the end of King's Cross' dark, shadowy industrial wasteland as it makes way for luxury flats (which will doubtless be those new model flats that all seem to look exactly the bloody same in that bland way), and the extension to the Eurostar - and with it, the Canvas complex of nightclubs (though I believe The Egg club will stay). K-Punk's post here is a fitting eulogy / requiem to an area that I still have imprinted in my mind from when I used to go to raves there in the mid-90s in the open brick courtyard / warehouse area, at what was then called Bagley's (which really makes me feel my age). I revisited that area recently with the TDK Festival, and a wave of nostalgia came over me; I always used to wonder what went on in those endless rows of warehouses, if there were interesting bands or events happening there. Now, much of this landscape will all be gone soon, obliterated in the desire for more luxury flats and wine bars/bistros; it's inescapable. It will become just another trendy area of London.
Going to see Control this week...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Spitz RIP

So, despite the endless petition signatures, the leafleting, the articles in newspapers, and even the pleas by dear old Red Ken Livingstone, it wasn't enough for the Spitz to close, the latest victim of the area's corporatisation (though the venue has done stuff since at Rich Mix). I guess the sight of people making weird left-field experimental music at an interesting venue in a perfect location was just to much to bare for Ballymore Properties, who would prefer the an anodyne wine bar full of city yuppies. Although CBGB's had reportedly become a parody of its former self near the time it was shut down, you could almost draw parallels: the two areas around the Spitz and CBGB's are accelerating in the property market, and live music is always going to be the casualty (particularly once the new East London line is built). This is no place for nostalgia about what both venues have gave their respective cities in terms of culture or an arts scene. Obviously the Spitz was only one venue in London. But it was pretty much the best venue. Anyway, nostalgia doesn't count for anything when you have a prime location near the financial district. Who wants to listen to that unlistenable music when you can have an All Bar One? It's not like that area is lacking in investment bankers / lawyers etc to frequent the posh bars spouting up, of which the Spitz's replacement on that site will be one.
Another nail in the coffin for an independent scene in London, then (along with the Hammersmith Palais - another great venue). Still, there's always Starbucks across the road...
Anyway on a more serious note, the spirit of the Spitz lives on in part just down the road, at a great venue called the Gramaphone. And there's the Duke of Uke and the new Rough Trade East, to remind me why I still go to the area.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My third ATP in December...

...this time curated by Portishead, and Silver Apples have just been added to the bill! Along with four doom metal bands, Jah Shaka Soundsystem, Glenn Branca (playing twice!), the Aphex Twin, Julian Cope, and countless others, some of whom I've heard of (Oneida) and some I haven't (Crippled Black Phoenix? The Heads? Jo Volk?). Why aren't Movietone on the bill? Anyway, it confirms my theory that Portishead have always had more in common aesthetically with left-field guitar music than most electronica (and especially aberrations of the 'trip-hop' genre such as Zero 7 and Groove Armada - music for media people living in 'pads' in Notting Hill). They also take a nice swipe at another aberration of music, Mark Ronson, here. Exactly who is choosing to pay to go to Shepherd's Bush Empire and see this man do karaoke versions of the Kaiser Chiefs, among other acts, is mystifying; clearly someone is, as his gig there is sold out. Ronson is the prime example of music as background music; it can be played anywhere and, because it's not even his own compositions but rather pointless covers, it's easy to digest anywhere. You can play it on your iPod anywhere and not have to really think about the music. He's a prime example of music's superficiality in the digital age, when the sheer abundance of music negates it's importance: it's everywhere, from the clothes shop to the hairdresser. "Oh, but they're inventively done covers that add a twist to the original". So what, though? I guess I don't hang at the right parties at the Notting Hill Arts Club, so I wouldn't understand. This is Ronson's demographic. His music is seen as "cool" and "fresh" takes on old songs, which Kate Nash/Lilly Allen/Amy Winehouse types put on at parties.

At this point, I should just point I have an iPod myself and actually like it. But I also take the music on it seriously rather than treating it as background music. Which is one reason for the importance of All Tomorrow's Parties. Roll on December.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


After revealing the practice of 'Wyatting' in this post a few months ago, I am proud to say that I 'Wyatted' a pub in Aldgate recently for the first time, who just happened to have an 'infinite' internet jukebox - the first one that I've seen. Needless to say, they had an incredible library of music connected to the Internet, so a brace of 'Stabbed In The Face' by Wolf Eyes was in order, followed by the charming ditties of Anal C**t. Given that one track costed a pound, I decided not to broadcast to the pub the entire works of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Acid Mothers Temple or Swans 'Public Castration Is A Good Idea'. Maybe if I had, the police might have moved in. Sadly the staff decided to turn down the volume of Wolf Eyes' masterpiece of power electronics so that it was barely discernable, and most people didn't seem to notice anyway because of the rugby, but for one moment I revelled in childish glory...anyone know of other pubs in London that have those internet jukeboxes?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Recluse night at Flea Pit

After the first Recluse night, there now comes the second...Saturday 23rd September 2007 at the Flea Pit, Columbia Road, doors 7:30. Isnaj Dui, Alex Monk and Rowan Porteous live.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Daydream at the Roundhouse

So Sonic Youth performing Daydream Nation at the Roundhouse did have the twinge of nostalgia workout about it (see previous blog entry here). The whole experience of watching bands perform albums in their entirety (as part of the Don't Look Back festival) is still a weird experience - you know exactly what's coming next and in which order the songs are going to be. Viewed cynically, it's simply a band reciting their greatest work without expanding on it.
Yet the gig was still a fantastic experience that brought back so many memories. There's something about it's distinctive tidal wash of oceanic noise and open-ended guitar symphony, with melodies spilling off in all directions, that keeps me returning to it - particularly as it soundtracked years of my adolescent life. Like Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures (which I cover in this post), there was something mysterious and intense about the front cover when I first saw it, an image that's about as far removed from punk rock as you can get. At the gig, there was something apt about watching the godfathers of dissonance and noise performing an album that offered a whole new chapter in rock dynamics, and a whole new language with its innovative tunings, at the Roundhouse, where Zeppelin and Hendrix expanded the possibilities of what could be utilized with a rock set-up in the 60's.
Ahh, bliss...those opening chords...

Friday, August 31, 2007


yeh Gods, just watched some highlights of Reading/Leeds - with Razorfuckinglight in the headline slot, a band that makes even the Kaiser Chiefs sound positively innovative. For fuck's sake. Thankfully, a few other people feel the same.

Notting Brick Hill Lane

As someone from the east of London who rarely ventures to the west of the city, a visit to the Notting Hill Carnival at least allowed me to check out an area that once was the focal point so much for counterculture in the '70s and 80's. Walking through the area and through Ladbroke Grove, the iconography of the area flicked through my mind: Jagger and Richard Curtis' intense cat-and-mouse game in Performance, located in the context of the end of the 60's dream; the madness of Hawkwind surviving on drugs in burnt-out squats in the area; the Electric Underground Cinema; Rough Trade's flowering as a record shop/label/ethical base and loci for musicians, activists and general weirdos (which I stood outside of for the first time during the festival); the post-punk scene connected with RT (The Slits -(yes, they were on Island Records but were still linked to RT), The Raincoats, The Pop Group, some other bands that I can't remember off the top of my head...); and Ballard's vision in Crash of the Westway and Trellick Tower...and what of the area now, particularly when the average salary in the borough is £100,000? Can you really have an area with a huge subculture when said area also happens to be among the most expensive in Europe? I guess if you're an accountant or lawyer on some pretty decent money it's pretty swell. Or if you're a trustafarian, as the article at least admits. Hardly bohemian, though. The real question I guess I'm getting at is: what is the equivalent to Notting Hill in the 70's/80's now? The natural answer would be Shoreditch/Hoxton and now particularly Brick Lane (especially with the impressive new Rough Trade East having opened recently, imitating in a sort of fashion the original shop 30 years ago). However, if the true indicator of a 'bohemian' area full of artists and the such-like is cheap rents and plenty of warehouse space, then I can't see how much longer the whole Shoreditch/Brick Lane area can carry on with it's hipster image. Surely there can't be any squats left in the area, what with the price tag. On Redchurch Street, the galleries are impressive but you have to wonder just how long this can continue - unless there's some local philanthropist businessmen putting serious money in. I used to walk to and from work every day through that street, and couldn't help but notice that every six months a gallery would vacate, only to be replaced by a new one - the increasingly brutal reality of that area's economics. The finger, then, would logically point at 'up-and-coming' (a word I hate) Hackney, which I grew up in - but even here, in areas such as Dalston, it's hardly that cheap, and Stoke Newington is certainly not either. Which makes me wonder: is it just rich parents that makes most of the musicians afford to live in areas such as Shoreditch, or do a lot of them (the musicians I mean) actually have well-paid jobs? Without wishing to sound like some know-it-all, I sometimes think that the true spirit of Notting Hill in the 70's/80's lives on most likely in Berlin these days, a city perfectly suited to be an artist - or Montreal, though someone from the latter told me recently that the rents are shooting up there too, together with the omniscient appearance of Starbucks. Berlin's huge, sprawling nature, coupled with the city's money problems and discrepancy in population size ( "only" 4 million people but in a city nearly the geographic size of London) equals a lot of affordable warehouse and living space.
Perhaps the closure of The Spitz could be the nail in the coffin for the eventual decline of Shoreditch. This might sound a bit drastic, as anyone whose lived near there can testify, what with the endless galleries and things to do. It's still a hell of an interesting area. So is it just me being embittered because I can't really afford to live there any more? Maybe, but then go on this website, scroll to the bottom, and click on 'London Shoreditch', 'London Hoxton', and 'London Brick Lane'. And check out the rents.
Anyway, it looks as if K-Punk is on a similar state of mind with a typically brilliant post on the subject.

RIP Hilly Kristal

Sad news

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The joys of YouTube (part 3)

So it turns out that I'm not the only one bored of endless documentaries about George Martin producing The Beatles - transpottery 60s revisionism at it's most tedious...enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tony Wilson RIP

So sad to see about the below news, and now this - a hugely influential figure as the man behind Factory Records.

I can still remember the first time that I saw the image of the front cover of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. It was in an issue of the NME from 91 or earlier - some list of 'the best British albums of the 80s' or somesuch. I hate top 100 lists now but at that age they're a bit more, well, palatable and exciting. Now they just annoy me. But I digress. The front cover of UP was the first time I had a seen a record cover which was somehow other-worldly and different. It was totally mysterious and inscrutable, with no band/album title on the cover, never mind band members grimacing like goons at the camera. I was obsessed, especially as the short description mentioned that "it still sounds like nothing else on Earth". It seemed enormously secretive and austere, like some gateway to some parallel Universe. For ages I assumed that it was a photograph of a valley on the moon, with peaks on either side (subconsciously it reminded me of some of the pictures from the Tintin book when he goes to the moon). I only found out later that it was a radiograph of waves emanating from a pulsar.
The contents were just as inscrutable, with Martin Hannett's ghostly production incorporating industrial factory noises (lifts moving, glass breaking, etc.) among the methodically arranged music. Even now, it sounds so of it's time, where post-punk was slowly absorbing elements of synthesised music creeping in from Kraftwerk's equally exotic recording, musique concrète, and others.
And this isn't even mentioning the legacy of New Order, Happy Mondays, A Certain Ratio etc, which Wilson's vision helped bring about...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Apologies for the lack of posts...been moving. But I have been following the news - sad to see these three go.
Having only seen Fanny and Alexander, can't really comment on Bergman, but Antonioni's Blow-Up must surely go down as the authoritative Swinging London film - even if it's been parodied to death by Austin Powers. It still looks great today, even the groovy swinging cats in the hilarious club scene. It's sad to see most London-based films today lacking any near the style and excitement or cerebral humour, but then I guess Hugh Grant sells.
Some other great London films (James Bond films don't count, and certainly not anything by Guy Ritchie):
- Performance
- Scandal
- Mona Lisa
- The Long Good Friday
- Quadrophenia
Any other suggestions?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Apologies for the lack of posts - been sorting out moving house...will be back soon! In the meantime, check out my review of Isis live.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Check out what I've been getting down to on Last FM here.
Of course, while it's an addictive site it doesn't necessarily capture the fact that not everything you listen to you're gonna like. I have to say that the new Arcade Fire album is just too bombastic and Springsteen-sounding for my liking...surely there's others out there who preferred Funeral?
Some new pictures too up at Flickr.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The World is a surreal place indeed....

Snoop Doggy Dogg applies for Australian citizenship.

Well, Devon rained and rained. For proof of global warming look no further than Britain rather than Greenland, judging from the mental weather this summer. I thought parts of London can look depressing in the drizzle, but places like Tiverton look far worse - desolate town centres struck by the phenomenon of the out-of-town supermarket. Still, across the county border in Cornwall there's always the Eden Project, a surreal experience that makes you feel like you're on a colony on the surface of the Moon. It's straight out of an Isaac Asimov novel, particularly this charming robot assembled from pieces of old abandoned cars. To get poetic, the very detrius of our consumer society laid before our eyes. Or maybe it just reminds me of a few too many car ads:

Anyway, very Terminator-like, even if's nearer to St Ives than Los Angeles.
Wasn't Susan Cooper's fantastic children's fantasy series The Dark Is Rising Sequence set around these parts? I seem to remember in the last book, Silver On The Tree, a huge horse made only of bones. Which is why this in the reception area caught my eye:

Poor old Peter Gabriel's fans got soaked. At least he wasn't playing in Genesis. Then Him up there in the sky could have been really pissed off and made the downpour even worse than it was.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Me doing one of those 'classic album' articles.
Slightly syncophantic, I admit. But the point is, blimey that makes me feel pretty old. When that album came out many guys who are now in bands would have been about two years old. Me? I was around ten years old. Then again, Sonic Youth must be seriously pushing fifty now, so they at least make me feel young. I suppose it's the kind of thing punk rock set out to destroy, but nonetheless I'll be going to the Roundhouse to see them do the album track-by-track. Yes, I know this All Tomorrow's Parties Don't Look Back thing is pure nostalgia - Whitehouse member William Bennett certainly thinks so on this blog comment - but fuck it, I'm gonna go anyway. Maybe Whitehouse will play at Don't Look Back too? Would be interesting to hear charming classics such as "I'm Coming Up Your Ass" and "Just Like a Cunt" at Koko...but seriously, it's amazing to think that they've been going almost as long as SY, which would make them one of the first originators of the 'noise' genre along with The New Blockaders, Merzbow, etc. Incredible as it seems given the inherent uncommercial nature of the genre, noise music has now been going as long as goth (which I reckon started around '82 or so - any objections?). Of course, some smartarse could point out that something like 'Metal Machine Music' preceded noise bands by a couple of years, and before that you can cite modern experimental composers, but Lou Reed obviously wasn't a noise artist as such. Noise music must be one of the few genres where you geniunely don't need to play your instrument (even less so than punk), something that was brought home to me at a Wolf Eyes gig recently where the support act Putrifier ran around the venue with a strange guitar/drill hybrid attached to his chest. To bring this argument full circular,
SY themselves have dabbed in the genre of course - Sonic Death being a sort of neo-noise record of sorts.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

K-Punk again on The Apprentice.
I'd go further than this and say that while the program is an interesting for what it reveals about the class system in this country - as K-Punk pointed out - it's also a sort of repository for our catharsis when it comes to office politics: most of us will have met characters similar to this in work, and enjoy watching all of them (except for one, obviously) get their comeuppance. I guess Katie is the long in a line.
The whole program is founded on lies, of course: we must have all heard by now that Alan Sugar doesn't actually own that place, with it's pneumatic secretary, where he fires his wanna-be protégé one by one. The implication when you watch the program - even if it's not actually stated - is undoubtedly that this office is one of many of his 'acquisitions'. Furthermore, "Sir" Alan Sugar's (and what a fuckwittedly lame prefix that is) actual equivalent to Trump Towers - which, funnily enough, Donald Trump doesn't entirely own either - is in Brentwood and looks like this, which is less New York, more Skegness in spirit. As this comment on The Guardian's blog acknowledges, winning that program is double-edged sword - the money may be good, but the actual environment in which you'll be "Sir" Alan Sugar's right-hand man (or woman) is hardly glamorous - and what does Amstrad actually do these days anyway? Sugar's hardly the boss of Tesco. He's simply known as a caricature of himself whose made a few bob from property. Not that he's exactly poor (and he's probably made more money than I ever will), but it's the whole notion that he's some Richard Branson-like genius entrepreneur that's embarrassing. But then I suppose the whole program is essentially charlatan-like anyway.
Perhaps Katie's resignation was a stroke of genius: no-one should really want to actually win the program and work at Amstrad. As that blog points out, what have previous winners of the program gone on to do? In that sense, far from being some kind of gritty reality TV show, The Apprentice is actually as airbrushed as any '15 minutes of fame'-type program, where the exposure granted by getting to the last three contestants is the real goal.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A brilliant K-Punk article on The Apprentice and class psychology.

This looks like something that could have been bestowed on the world by Beezlebub himself. If you'll pardon the expression, John Lennon must be turning in his grave. The endless obsession with all thing 60's - along with the those dreadful 'Top 500 Albums Ever', as with this one - reaches its nadir with Oasis, Stereophonics, and the creative zenith that is Razorlight redoing the whole of Sgt Pepper, along with (yawn) Kaiser Chiefs, James Morrison...still awake?
Look, I'm sure they do love the album, and so did my granny, but that doesn't mean that I want to hear Kelly Jones warbling away at the title track. This is the kind of thing that punk was supposed to destroy. But then, I suppose it's part of the whole nostalgia trip bestowed on the 60's as the shining epochal decade where the young rocked out and saved the, except maybe they didn't, which is why this book, of which the image above is taken from, is such a great read - the author is old enough to have actually been there and pours scorn on the 'baby boomer' generation and it's bogus hippy credentials. Remember, these people are now running the world. Or at least they're running the big multinationals, something that's reflected in this article. Of course, you could Blair to that list, but that would be getting personal.
Admittedly, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't appreciate 60's guitar music - from the Stones and Floyd to the more wigged-out likes of Silver Apples, United States of America, Stooges (a mainly 70's band but they started in the 60's), the 13th Floor Elevators, etc. Moreover, a lot of the music I like owes it's debt to the 60's, not to mention the iconography of films like 2001 and stylish thrillers like Blow-Up, etc. So why do I hate smug 60's obsessives and their endless whistful obsession with that decade? Perhaps because the 60's has become an industry, and with it the consensus that we'll never see anything as good as it again - even though Simon Reynolds in the book Rip It Up and Start Again posits that the years 1978-84 were actually just as exciting and creative for music as anything in the 60's. Maybe it's just the way that the sixties have become like a sacred cow that you can't critize, and with it the inference that all subsequent generations are apathetic and apolitical (despite something like a million people - including me - going on that march in central London against the war in Iraq).
Anyway, Revolver was always a better album than Sgt Pepper. I mean, how can you top "Tomorrow Never Knows"??

Thursday, May 17, 2007

After the Spitz, another worthwhile cause to sign (though closed by the look of it). Bit harsh, maybe, but I have to say that what annoys me most about the sycophantic fawning over him is the way that he's compared to Baudelaire and Byron, or some other historical poet, as if writing some average indie tunes and being on drugs a lot instantly makes you the genius poet of our generation. Not that I've read Baudelaire or Byron, I might add. Then there's those cynical 'guerrilla gigs' in pubs, which has a strange parallel with Alex Higgins hustling in pool bars for £10 a go. Anyway, they're on Last FM too...speaking of which here's my own page, which is (ahem) rather still-in-progress...

Well, All Tomorrow's Parties was fun once again, and had the added bonus of sunshine rather than a torrential downpour soundtracking Hair Police or 16 Bitch Pile-Up or Ashtray Navigation's (as per the one last December). This time it was The Dirty 3 curating - such a great idea, to have a band curate a festival and choose all the bands. What makes ATP great above the music too is the attention to detail - the ATP TV/whoever's curating TV channel, compiling all their favourite films and general weird music videos. Again I missed the other delights on offer (crazy golf, go- karting, the all-night cinema, the swimming-pool, the rodeo nonsense, etc.) Once again ATP chose to put on a ridiculously OTT film on Sunday night on the TV after the bands, when you're generally in a less than coherent state; the December fest had an excruciating, explicit Catherine Brelliat film (her of Romance and A Ma Seur) documenting a confused French teenager; this time, it was an equally grim film (the title escapes me) about the Nazi's invading Belarus in WWII, with images of concentration camp victims, general death and destruction, and a young Belorussian boy venting his anger and so on. It's fair to say that laughs were thin on the ground. In fact, it made any of Ingmar Bergman's miesterworks come across like a rom-com in comparison. Perhaps they'll show The Passion of the Christ at the one this weekend, which will doubtless get the party in the Crazy Horse stage going.
A Silver Mount Zion's stunning set on Sunday was the highlight of the festival, a magnificent evocation of exactly how 'post-rock' - whatever that means these days - should be done, with it's seamless mix of violin drones, chamber rock and pummeling all-out attack, Efrim Munuck's strangled sigh trying to make sense of a post-9/11 world, framed against the unforgettable outline of birds flying over the tent. ASMZ's deeply profound and moving set, with it's subtle, mournful lyrics and incendiary, climatic music, was the perfect antidote to blandness and corporatization (ironic, given that they were surrounded by Pizza Hut and Burger King, though that's no bad reflection on ATP); shame that they were followed by the dull boogie-woogie of Cat Power.
Other highlights: the hosts The Dirty 3, Grinderman, Low, Spiritualized, Einsturzende Neubauten (on at 1:30 in the morning!), Felix Lajko, Smog, Joanna Newsom, Papa M. Sadly I missed Suicide's Alan Vega but apparently he was a treat - your crazy grandad running around the stage shouting insults at the audience to a half-genius/half-rubbish techno soundtrack.

I've had Ballymore than enough

First Smallfish Records nearby on Old Street, then Hammersmith Palais (no jokes about School Disco, please), now this...perhaps Ballymore Properties have decided that people making interesting, challenging music is just too daring and dangerous a concept - all this new-fangled arty-farty stuff. I mean, Vibacathedral Orchestra onstage doing a 20-minute drone or whatever is obviously seriously dangerous and must be curtailed for the good of society and all that is proper in society. So, come September, the best venue in London (fact!) will be no more, and instead we will have...a bistroteque. Because there's obviously not enough of those around, is there? After all, why not stop there and turn the whole of east London into one big fucking chain of Starbucks? Still, there's always Islington Academy...which reminds me of a certain post on this blog, ahem...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Some new writings of mine up on Pennyblackmusic - a review of All Tomorrow's Parties here, an interview with the mighty Bardo Pond here, live reviews here and here, and an interview with a band called The Early Years here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My joy at having my PC up and running again was short-tempered on Saturday. There I was, thinking that the song that comes up in a link in an entry posted below about the London Underground was harsh...and then I tried to get the Northern Line, en route to a planned meeting with people at London Bridge, from which I would get to the train to Pinewood and be in the audience for the television programme The I.T. Crowd.
Well, that was the plan, anyway.
Surely anyone who is sane, and who'se used the Northern Line - particularly in rush hour - will tell you that it is the depths of Hades. Perhaps it was what the devil came up when bored. Never mind that it is absolutely roasting; that it is perpetually packed; that is about as fast as a tortoise after a heavy dinner; or that it feels like it was designed in 1582. You also have to put up with the endless closures that seemingly bedevil the track. Exactly what those 1-6am nocturnal hours of the morning, when the Underground is closed, are for if not to repair the tube I don't know, but TFL seems to feel that they have to go the whole hog and close down a whole sector of the Northern Line instead - on a Saturday afternoon. All afternoon. When there are almost as many people as in rush hour. Because, strangely enough, that's what a lot of people do on Saturday: they want to go out and about after working all week.
Arriving at Bank, where I got off the Central Line and attempted to go on to the Northern Line, I found a sign saying the Northern Line wasn't running from this station. Trying vainly to find an alternative route to London Bridge, I opted for Tottenham Court Road, only to find that that whole stretch of the Northern Line was closed. Next to Euston; of course, it's closed for a fire hazard. Silly me for being so optimistic. Next to King's Cross, where I'm informed I have to go back on the only available part of the Northern Line, on the route I've just came, but now all the way to Waterloo too, and thence onto the Jubilee line to London Bridge.
In total I spent nearly an hour on a packed train next to four screaming kids, in the boiling heat, next to someone's armpit. In such circumstances, iPods are mankind's saviour.
So yeah, missed the train to Pinewood. Suddenly the thought of being in that legendary place seemed a long way off. Pissed off and dejected, at London Bridge I had to sheepishly get the bus home, the whole circular trip a pointless waste of time in the end.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

apologies for the lack of posts...unfortunately, my PC has been in a state of repair the last two weeks. Back up today and some new posts will follow this week. Watch this space!

Monday, March 12, 2007

K-Punk's very own tribute to the recently deceased Jean Baudrillard. Occasionally as inpenetrable as Baudriallard himself could be, but great stuff nonetheless.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pissed off with the London Underground? Feel that you are being ripped off with a barely functioning service that somehow is simultaneously among the priciest in the world? Angry that it's hotter in the summer than a cattle truck? Well, you're not alone, as this song attests.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another French philosopher bites the dust

First Jacques Derrida, now Jean Baudrillard, the man who declared that the Gulf War didn't exist (he meant it did, of course, but not in the way that we really thought it presented by the media). He coined the idea that LA is the ultimate post-modern City and that much modern day life is a simulacrum - or simulacra - of itself (does that include dying?.
When I saw that he'd snuffed it today I felt a mild sadness, as I did study the guy a lot at University (but obviously not a huge swell of emotion - steady on there). I seem to remember a website that automatically generated random Baudrillard quotes for any day-to-day situations, which is pretty hilarious if you're au fait with his difficult work. If you're not, erm, I suppose you would fail to see why that's so funny. He's the epitome - or at least was - of the existential French philosopher with a metaphysical comment about everything, delivered with the usual gravitas, even if it's as mundane as mowing the lawn.
Some of his (hilariously titled) books in that Guardian article have a striking resemblance to Michel Hollebecq - perhaps it is he, rather than some French academic, who will be the next globe-trotting Gallic thinker? Given how frequently hilarious his books are, I hope so. In any case, this blog entry, also in the Guardian, is a fitting comment on JB. I didn't know that he wore a silver lamé suit onstage at Las Vegas while reading his poetry. Respect to the man. Can you imagine Richard Dawkins doing the same? I mean, you have to hand it to French philosophers, they had panache.

I’ve been lucky enough to witness some amazing crossroads between art, music and performance recently in London.
The interactive performance of Faust at a warehouse in Wapping has to be one of the most extraordinary experiences that I’ve had recently. This re-enactment of the classic story of man's pact with the devil took place on four floors of a warehouse, wherein you adorned a mask on entering and were took into a lift. The lift operator then chucked out people on different floors one by one, after which you were left to explore the different floors, each themed after the play. 210 different rooms were styled after the play, including one styled as a laboratory with an actor as Faust the alchemist muttering to himself and wondering around with pots, vials of liquid, and papyrus everywhere; another with a 50’s themed American diner; another involving bedrooms and parlours; another one with leaves at your feet and bamboo hut walls; and a plush cinema. Meanwhile, maskless actors flitted about between the rooms acting out the roles, so that at times you would literally be standing right next to them as they recited the lines and acted out the parts of the play. Whoever set up the design and layout of the different rooms did so pretty meticulously, with a million things to explore. A pretty amazing experience all round, which included a floor with fauna and another with dark, winding, endless book cases, where you were literally walking around on your own in darkness.

The other two exhibitions that have came close recently are this one off Brick Lane, in which household appliances, used washing machines and general home appliance detritus took central stage in a huge factory. Walking around it felt like something from Tetsuo: The Iron Body Man, particularly when you could go inside a defunct freezer, which led down to a tunnel.

Finally, the performance of Ray Lee’s Sound Bites at Shunt, the huge, cavernous rail arches next to London Bridge station, in which revolving red lights mounted on plinths circled around at different speed. Walking around these plinths in darkness, all you could see was the lights, set to a swirl of freeform, ambient music, oscilltaing at speed like mini planets orbiting the Sun, with everything else blottled out. It’s now on Kinetica galleries too. Pretty amazing stuff.
Next up is Gilbert & George at the Tate Modern.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Just before their set at All Tomorrow's Parties in December, I caught the Sunburned Hand of the Man play at Cargo in London, performing a live soundtrack to Ira Cohen's 60's psychedelic freakout film The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda - a synapse-scorching experience that was like every acid trip combined. The Wire have put up excerpts of it here, which must truly rate as the most tripped-out of that period - check out those dancing hippies! There's also a shorter preview below...enjoy

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

woah, this program on BBC2 was pretty awesome, covering the labaratory-like environs of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, full of people with white overcoats producing music that at the time must have seemed totally alien-like. The bits about the origins of the Dr Who theme and Delia Derbyshire were obviously gonna feature heavily, but what was equally interesting is how the program linked what was going on in the Workshop to the primitive electronics stuff going on around that time too - The White Noise (featuring Derbyshire), Silver Apples, United States of America, and music concrete. Some hilarious appearances by Sonic Boom (looking stoned, or does he just look like that all the time?) and the Ghost Box people.
Inevitably, one of the remaining members of the Worshop pointed out comparisons in the size of equipment in relation to today. While the huge synthesisers and patch bays took up whole rooms when stacked together, a teenager can produce most of these sounds now in a laptop. I guess this also links to the age of the iPod, in which you can Shuffle songs, taking them totally out of context - something I can never get used to. I still like to listen to albums from start to end - and so do All Tomorrow's Parties, evidently - but with the Shuffle function, an album or collection of disparate songs can be played in any order at all. The other impact of the predominance of mp3s and downloading is that, as David Bowie said recently, music will become as common as running water - whereas just 20 years ago you had to go into a record shop and breathlessly buy your vinyl at the counter (or listen to John Peel on the radio). You can still do that, of course - apart from the bit about Peel, obviously - but I guess the novelty will wear off if you can easily download it for free, and with music in such cheap, plentiful supply...on the other hand, this democratisation of music is pretty DIY in a punk kinda way, if you think about it - it certainly pisses off the major labels. It's never been easier to make your own music.
I suppose labels will have to be more inventive with their packaging to lure customers, which is something Constellation Records have obviously picked up on - their albums are always amazingly designed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

This news about the state of the UK's yoof culture is pretty emphatically depressing. Just how did we get this low? It reminds me of a post K-Punk did here (scroll down to 'Reflexive Impotence' post) about the state of British youth, and especially chimes with this:

It is not an exaggeration to say that being a teenager in late capitalist Britain is now close to being reclassified as a sickness.

Exactly why Britain has got so bad is a moot point. It's likely a combination of lots of things: the entrenched class system, the long-hours work culture (I'm thinking of France's 35 working hours a week law - then again, they haven't been hugely successful in the table either), lack of decent public services, and a transport and education system that is still crumbling and inequal (especially the latter, as this testifies). But, as K-Punk taps into in that article, there's also a feeling of impotent helplesness in Britian too, in contrast to France where youth go on protests that inspire the government to change drafted employment laws.
What the list does confirm is that, despite Holland being at the top, Scandinavia is pretty much the best place to live in the world, with all four nations in the top (does Iceland count? Anyway, it's not included at all). The fact that they've hit such a right balance in most forms of life while Britain is lumbering behind is depressing indeed. It's 10 years since Blair got into power - hopefully this report will be the straw that broke the camel's back this year.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Recluse club night

Been well busy sorting out a new night that I'm putting on with Archslider. We'll be playing at it too. It's on March 2nd....should be awesome, and my brother's playing as well.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Also going to the next ATP, with the Dirty 3 curating. Well, the line-ups allright - first time I'll see Einsturzende Neubauten, Papa M / Pajo (or whatever he's calling himself these days) and Alan Vega (sadly not playing with Suicide, but only on his own). And there's others I've seen already but are happy to see again - Dirty 3 (obviously they're playing), Nick Cave, A Silver Mount Zion, Low, Spiritiualized ('acoustic mainlines'?), Joanna Newsom (that'll bring in the Observer readers). I have to say, though, there does look to be a bit too much acoustic singer-songwritery going on...some of that stuff's allright, but a lot can be just dreaful hackneyed shit - lyrics about shooting stars and people doing histronic sets at the Kashmir club - "can we have a little bit of Kashmir hush, please!" Still, should be great, and ATP is always a blast. Hopefully the crazy golf and go-carting will actually be on this time.

RIP Alice Coltrane - admittely I haven't really heard her stuff, but y'know, hugely influential and pioneering. Respect and alll that.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Great post here by K-Punk about Celebrity Big Brother. I would add that The Sun's campaign during this whole episode stinks of hypocrisy: they'll happily castigate the French ("we wouldn't want that on our worst enemy!" - after an Englishwoman went into a coma, woke up, and believed that she was French) and the Germans, or migrants from Romania, or anything Brussels-related (insert 'bureaucrat' here), in their 'Comment' section, and it's quite allright to do that, with millions of readers chortling along. Yet anyone else in the world and all of a sudden The Sun is the most self-righteous paper in the world. Not that this is an excuse for Goody's stupidity, of course...and has anyone on Big Brother ever had an IQ that goes into double figures anyway??

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bobby Gillespie undercovered as not actually that rock n roll shock.
I was obsessed with Screamadelica when it came out. Even the boogie-woogie of that following album wasn't too bad (and the largely forgotten Dixie Narco EP was amazing). I thought Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR were their last great albums; then came Kate Moss and calling an album 'Riot City Blues'. Now Primal Scream are a ham-fisted pub rock act. Still, rock 'n' roll, eh?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sovereign donuts, er...?

this has to be one of the best stories I've heard all year. You couldn't make it up. Why can't indie bands be this entertaining....the myspace blog link is hilarious

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Some pictures of ATP I took up here (click on the 'All Tomorrow's Parties' set on the right of the screen). We really did feel that hungover when on/near the beach...and following on from my previous posts about noise/industrial music, it's interesting to see that William Bennett from Whitehouse has laid equally into ATP (scroll down to the post entitled 'All Yesterday's Teenage Bedroom Walls') and The Wire ('Propagation of the Faith 2' post) on his blog here, which made me laugh. I thought that Wire article about the noise genre - of which Whitehouse remain a huge influence (they were doing 'Shitfun' back in '81?) - was pretty good, especially when it contrasts how popular a band like Wolf Eyes have become and then compare it with just how underground the scene was in the pre-internet age.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Those posts about All Tomorrow's Parties made me think about just how weird the noise scene can be - a genre that's always had its fair share of freaks and weirdos. As The Wire recently pointed out, the democratisation or recording, and the ease of releasing material, has meant that many bands that orbit the freakout/noise scene are so prolific now that their myriad releases can also be seen as a sort of constant diary or journal, if you like. Not that this endless productivity seems to have affected Wolf Eyes, mind, whose recent Human Animal album was there best yet.
Those kind of scenes have always had a fascination with the unconventional, of course, and this extends to the packaging of records - after all, who can forget the story about one of Japanese noise-meister Merzbow's many albums coming in a car? So it meant that you had to had to actually buy the car to get the album. Strangely enough, the album didn't sell many records. In fact, it sold very little. Probably about two, I would imagine (I think Rough Trade have got one).

Anyway, in tribute to a genre which has its fair share of stupid band names, here is a list of classics. All these bands are genuine (though not all are noise bands, I should add).

Jackie-O Motherfucker

Ashtray Navigations

16 Bitch Pile-Up

The Small Faeces

MV / EE + The Bummer Road

To Live and Shave in LA

Smell & Quim

The Atomic Bitchwax

Ten Minutes With My Dad

Somebody Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness


Hair Police

Fuck Buttons

Harry Pussy

Starving Weirdos

Duran Duran Duran

Kylie Minoise

The Fucking Champs

Shit-Spangled Banner (now Sunburned Hand of the Man)

Birds of Delay

Half Man Half Biscuit

Gays In The Military

Anal Beard

My Cat Is An Alien

The Holy Fuck