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.

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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.