Monday, November 22, 2010

So looking forward to another ATP – my sixth one, I believe - this time curated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, whom I saw live roughly ten years ago at the Scala and voted one of their albums on as the last decade’s best ever.
This ATP looks especially interesting, given the curators and some truly unconventional selections. The presence of Throbbing Gristle should be interesting, except that the pandrogynous Genesis P-Orridge (or Genesis P-Breyer Orridge, or Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, or whatever he/she/it is calling themselves these days) has decided not to continue with the latter. Therefore the remaining Throbbing Gristle members will be playing under the name X-TG, which remains a baffling prospect.
It’s easy to take ATP as a regular occurrence these days, conveniently forgetting that there was not a huge amount of alternative festivals beforehand (except in the back pages of The Wire). The idea of getting a curator – usually a band or bands, but they’ve had some eclectic choices before (Vincent Gallo, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Matt Groening) – who chooses the whole line-up has become commonplace now, but was less so before ATP began. Much less still was the idea of a festival at Butlins (or Pontins, where it was when it started, and which has not gone into administration) that featured experimental line-ups that melded avant rock, jazz and electronics, not to mention bands with names such as Berg Sans Nipple, Pissed Jeans, Jackie O-Motherfucker, Fuck Buttons and 16 Bitch Pile-Up. Looking at the Godspeed ATP line-up, there’s only a handful of other festivals in an intimate setting – Supersonic is one – which can mix such an eclectic line-up that includes ambient drone (Tim Hecker), full-on free jazz (Borbetomagus), Eastern European idioms (Boban I Markovic Orchestra), metal (Wolves In The Throne Room), modern composition (Charlemagne Palestine), and, well, “Weird Al” Yankovic to name just a few, as well as all manner of strange sounding movies hosted by various Montreal film collectives in the Butlins cinema programme.

But anyway, in honour of ten years of ATP, my favourite moments of the festival from memory:
  • buying food at the stall next to the Reds stage while Prurient was unleashing his maelstrom of noise, and seeing the tortured face of the person behind the counter
  • passing people playing crazy golf and go-carting while the sound of 16 Bitch Pile-Up raged in the distance (admittedly you had to be there for this one)
  • David Yow of The Jesus Lizard crowdsurfing through practically their entire set
  • the procession of people playing pots and pans, dressed in white sheets, at 5am in the morning
  • hearing about the member of bar staff who was in tears and had to be comforted after a whole day of Boris, Earth, Sun O))), and other assorted heavy noise
  • the look of pain on the security guard’s face as Sunburned Hand of the Man played a three hour jazz-freakout rock set, filling the stage with assorted weirdos including one member dressed in a pink wig, sunglasses and a Victorian suit, who proceeded to blow bubbles at the audience
  • Glenn Branca’s mini guitar-orchestra and the look, once again, on the security guard’s face
  • Julian Cope’s rant about stage times, ‘the X in Exmoor’, and ‘rodgering’ his wife
  • the look of bafflement by security guards during the performance of Stockhausen’s Kontakte, with various space noises bubbling for half an hour
  • stoned, throwing chairs around the room, while My Cat Is An Alien performed a two-hour austere drone in the background
  • Lydia Lunch’s profanity-strewn reading from her book ‘Will Work For Drugs’ and the looks on the bar staff’s face
  • Electric Wizard’s audience smelling to high hell
  • Jah Shaka Sound System’s bass system, which practically took off the roof
  • getting freaked out by the creepy accappella grunts of Blood Stereo
  • the combined masses of The New Blockaders and The Haters (or was it the Skaters?) dressed in radiation outfits revving up power drills. At 2pm in the afternoon
  • watching terrifying footage of Hair Police live on ATP TV…who were due to play live that day
  • watching a double-bill of Ichi The Killer and Tarkovsky's Solaris on the ATP TV channel, then watching equally weird bands
  • drinking vodka in our chalet and then watching Einsturzende Neubauten at 2am, with Blixa Bargelt onstage even more drunk than we were
  • the party in our next-door chalet, which apparently was The Damned playing (Captain Sensible of said band took down his pants onstage, but I wouldn't call that a highlight)
  • the contrast between watching a band called Porn (you can probably guess their sound from that moniker) one minute and Os Mutantes the next
  • and finally...this person. Need I say more?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Truly surreal and possibly piss-taking interview posted on Brian Eno's website here, hosted by the implausibly-named Dick Flash from Pork magazine (whatever that is), who looks, frankly, creepy as hell.

Eno must be one of the few people to have gone from the dissonance of No New York - still a brilliant distillation of NY No Wave - to minimalism, to Bowie's Berlin Trilogy, to Nico and Devo, and on to incredibly moving ambient works such as An Ending (Ascent). Indeed, his work with Talking Heads and David Byrne (particularly My Life In The Bush of Ghosts) even prefigures Western obsessions with 'world music' - a terrible term in itself - and what Vampire Weekend are doing today. At the same time, on the other hand he's also worked with U2 and Coldplay (whether you enjoyed the fruits of such labour depends on your point of view). Despite that fact, I would argue that his influence on modern music is equal to The Beatles. No other musician/producer has manage to transcend low and high culture with such ease.

Yet who does the British establishment choose to knight? Alan Fucking Sugar, that's who.