Sunday, April 19, 2015

K is for… KLF

In the pages of Frank's APA we are running through the letters of the alphabet.

The lyrics'll flow, yo, hear the words I speak. Rap is cheap so I teach and I preach.

The KLF were two fellows, one called Bill Drummond, the other Jimmy Cauty. Mr Drummond was the one who did interviews, wrote books and was mouthy and opinionated, which always led me to suspect that it was Mr Cauty who did more of the actual making of music. They started life as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, taking their name from an organisation featured in the pages of the Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

Drummond and Cauty released records as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (and had their arses sued off for using unapproved Abba samples). As the Timelords they got to number one with 'Doctorin' the TARDIS', one of the world's great novelty singles. After this they published a book called The Manual, in which they explained how to have a number one hit. Then in 1990 and 1991 they had a run of monster hit singles, beginning with 'What Time Is Love?', an epic piece of pop-rave action.

I have read it suggested that the KLF wanted to pursue a more purist dance music direction, but to get their tracks played on the radio they had to add in vocals, especially the obligatory early 1990s lamer raps that show up on so many records of that era. I think their rappers were gentlemen named Bello B and Ricardo Da Force; I would love to know how they were recruited and what they went on to do afterwards. There might be an element of dance rockism to the idea that their tracks suffered by being popped up. The original versions have their own mesmerising qualities but it was the hit versions that have the ultimate power.

Aside from the fact that these singles were monster floor filling tunes, what was fun about the KLF was the way they created this ludicrous mythology around themselves. They weren't just some spods making faceless dance music, they were the Kopyright Liberation Front! And they were also the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, who had travelled from a lost continent or something to make pop-dance records. Their Top of the Pops appearances were Events, with capes and masks and armies of ransomers on stage, etc.

Along the way the KLF also released Chill Out, possibly inventing ambient house in the process. This odd record supposedly soundracks a night journey across some bit of the United States, with sounds wafting in from the ether like snatches of songs heard on radio stations as they come in and out of range. It is a very relaxing record, unlike the KLF's hit singles.

Eventually Cauty and Drummond grew tired of their success and decided to end it. There was a bizarre episode where they fired a machine gun loaded with blanks at the audience of the Brit Awards before dumping a dead sheep outside the venue. They followed this by withdrawing all their money from the KLF bank account (some one million pounds) and burned it, before deleting their entire back catalogue. I have heard it suggested that the money burning thing was not quite what it seems; nevertheless, in subsequent writings Drummond has alluded convincingly to the grief he received from his children once they grew up enough to register that their dad had burned that much money.

Sometimes I think the art happening stuff obscures the KLF's music a bit too much. Their singles were great floor filling tunes and listening to them again now has me wishing there was dance floor nearby where I could get down to them. At one point they were calling their music Stadium House, suggesting a certain bombastic quality alongside the programmed beats. The whole thing with chanted slogans and fist punched in the air goes with that, giving the whole enterprise a charge that much of the electronic music of their contemporaries lacks.

What to look for?

'Doctorin' the TARDIS' (released by The Timelords) - all the mixes of this are great, particularly the ones with Gary Glitter on vocals

'What Time Is Love' - the most epic of their epic singles. Try and find every single version of it and play them one after another.

'3AM Eternal' - also awesome. Again, you want every version of this ever recorded.

'Last Train to Trancentral' - third of the great trilogy.

Chill Out - spark the hooter and listen to this sonic journey across an imaginary US landscape

'It's Grim Up North' (released by the JAMMs) - a name-check of places in the north (of England), with the only other lyrics being the assertion that it is grim up north. Back in the day this record was cited as evidence by my then flatmate for the proposition that Chester is in the North of England. It is there at the 5.01 mark.

'America: What Time is Love' - more a reworking than a remix of 'What Time Is Love', with ludicrous intro about the JAMMs ancient journey across the ocean to discover America. Features guitars.

'Fuck the Millennium' (released by 2K in 1997) - kind of a greatest hits of the KLF in one song, with added swearing about the coming millennium; notable for guest appearances by the striking Liverpool dockers (on swearing) and the William Fairey Brass Band assisting with brass band versions of their great tunes

There is also 'Justified and Ancient (Stand by the JAMMs)', which is famous for the fact that it features Tammy Wynette on guest vocals, but I do not like it so much.

KLF image source (Fresh on the Net)

Pyramid blaster image source (Wikipedia)


(features some of the appearance of Bill Drummond & Jimmy Cauty on the Late Late Show discussing their burning of a million pounds)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

J is for… Joy Division

In the pages of Frank's APA we are running through the letters of the alphabet.I would not actually describe myself as the world's biggest fan of Joy Division, but they are a band I like. Their place in music history can easily be summarised. They start off as a Manchester punk/post-punk band. They develop in somewhat doomy directions, perhaps driven by the miserabilism of their lead singer, Ian Curtis. They are apparently on the brink of major success but then Curtis tops himself. And that is the end of that, except that the surviving members regroup, recruit the drummer's girlfriend on keyboards and continue under the new name of New Order.

Joy Division's career was short and they did not record that much, though I suppose two albums and a rake of singles in such a short time makes them remarkably productive. They have probably become more famous since the band's dissolution, with a cinematic documentary followed by a feature film telling the band's story; the Joy Division and Ian Curtis story was also an important part of that film 24 Hour Party People. They have been the subject of many articles by music journalists and several books.

So what do I have to add to this party? Probably not much. The big thing I have to say about Joy Division is that too much of the commentary on Joy Division focusses on Ian Curtis. I am not saying he is overrated as a frontman (though of course I never saw them live), as on record he is clearly a lead singer of power, possessed of a singular vision. What I am saying is that the emphasis on Curtis obscures the input of the band's other members and turns the whole enterprise inappropriately into Ian Curtis and his backing band. The fact that the surviving musicians were able to bounce back so effortlessly from the death of Curtis suggests to me that they were more than just his peons.

In listening to the music of Joy Division, it is apparent in so many of the tunes that the vocals are just part of the mix. The musicians' efforts create a claustrophobic and oppressive atmosphere as much as the singer's deep vocals and sinister lyrics. You only have to listen to the first two minutes or so of 'Dead Souls' to perceive the atmospheric qualities of the instrumental music on its own.

The other perhaps controversial thing I would say about Joy Division is that people sometimes over-emphasise the oppressive doominess of their music and miss the perky pop elements. 'Love Will Tear Us Apart Again' was released as a single after the death of Ian Curtis and will always be associated with his untimely passing. Yet despite the lyrics and their sad evocation of a dying relationship, the music is astonishingly joyous. From the triumphant intro to the surging rhythms that run through the tune, this is a song that calls feet irresistibly to the dance floor. I can imagine that in foreign countries where they do not know English local bands could cover this and sing it with cheery smiles on their faces. In days of yore I used to think it would be an ideal song for Steps to sing.

Joy Division's career was cut short but three of the band's members went on to form New Order, whose more dance floor friendly electronic music enjoyed considerable success. What is always a bit of a mystery is whether Joy Division would have progressed in similar directions to New Order in the event of Curtis remaining alive. It is a difficult question. In some ways early New Order and late Joy Division are not so very different to each other. Joy Division were becoming a bit more electronic and as noted above were not complete strangers to the lure of the dance floor. Early New Order meanwhile maintains a lot of the oppressiveness of Joy Division, as well as a lyrical miserabilism that they never definitively lost (though for tracks like 'World in Motion' it took a definite back seat). But there are other factors in play which may receive further discussion when I reach the letter N.

image source (Stereogum)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hunters Moon: from beyond the grave

The last few posts have turned into something of a Hunters Moon special. Although the Hunters Moon festival ostensibly shuffled off into that great Altamont Speedway in the sky two years ago, the Hunters Moon name still shows up now and then as a promoter of concert of events. Because I broadly approve of the Hunters Moon people I will basically go to anything they put on unless I am dying of bubonic plague or they are hosting an event in an inconvenient location. So it was that I found myself heading to a place called the Steambox Gallery with two of my associates.

Actually, as locations go the Steambox is pretty inconvenient. It is not too far from where I live but is in that part of town that has "Here Be Monsters" written on it in my mental map, by which I mean it is off Meath Street in the Liberties, a heart of the rowl Dublin location that soft types like me never go to and think of as being a bit terrifying. Walking there with my associates somewhat calmed my sense of terror, as they are both tough characters and I knew that in their company I would be safe from all but the roughest of Dublin gurriers. Also it turns out that one of my associates (let us call him Mr A) actually lives very near the venue, meaning that he is local to that part of town and someone likely to be treated with great respect. Even so it was with some trepidation that I walked through streets whose pavements have never before been touched by my feet.

The Steambox Gallery is some kind of hipster arts venue in what seems like a converted school or somesuch. It has a squatty ambience and felt like the kind of place where you would have to knock three times on the door and say the special password before you would be let in. In our case the door was open and there were no such formalities. The building is big inside and felt like it had been converted from some former purpose, with the concert being in some random bit of it, in this case what felt like it could have been a shed or a lean-to stuck on at the back.

There were a number of artists on the bill, all broadly of the avant garde art nonsense variety. God Hates Disco opened proceedings, combining funny electronic music with film and sound of people ranting about culty religious or psychedelic stuff. Then Three Eyed Makara hit things they had in piles on the floor. Fuzzy Hell worried Mr A by looking like they were going to be a solo woman singing and playing acoustic guitar (not that he is sexist as he would have been equally aghast if it had been a man doing the same thing) but she turned out to be doing electronic stuff as well as the guitarring. I thought it was more interesting than straightforward singer-songwritery material, but Mr A was not having any of it.

The last act was Head of Wantastiquet, who featured one Paul LaBrecque from well-known act Sunburned Hand of the Man. They turned out to be another act of which Mr A strongly disapproves so he left before they started, with the fact that his bed was just round the corner being a big draw for him (there was a another push factor of which I will speak later). I stayed for a bit longer, even though I was getting a bit puppy tired myself. I probably would have gone earlier if I had not found a nice comfy seat to plant myself on while watching Mr Wantastiquet do his thing. His thing turned out to be more droney electronic guitar stuff. I found the second of his long pieces quite engaging but I was getting really tired now so I made my way home.

The event had one feature which contributed to both Mr A and myself heading off early: smokers. As you know, in Ireland due to facism we have banned smoking from places of work or entertainment. In this place however the kids decided that they were going to stick it to the man by lighting up their death sticks. At first this lended the event a certain edginess, accentuating the squattiness of the venue and giving the sense that we were now operating outside the normal rules of bourgeois society. After a while though it all got a bit stinky and my eyes started to sting, reminding me of how rubbish things were before the smoking ban came in. So I scarpered.

Leaving was surprisingly difficult. I just about remembered how to travel through the large building to the entrance but the exit door was now closed and locked. Eventually I managed to work out how to open it but it was a close run thing and I was distinctly fearful that I would be dragged back into the smokatorium and forced to inhale the foul nicotine infused burning herbs until I became one with tobacco addicts.

Outside I was conscious that I no longer had either of my associates to protect me so I made my way out of the Forbidden Zone as quickly as I could. I did my best not to let the natives realise that I was not of their kind, trying to lurk as much as possible in the shadows without drawing attention to myself. The fact that you are reading these words should tell you that I succeeded in making my way home. Or that someone else did who has now assumed the identity that was once "mine".

Afterwards I was struck by one odd thing about the evening. There were quite a lot of people at the event, and it suddenly hit me that there were probably far more people at it than had ever paid to go to an actual Hunters Moon festival. Another odd fact that was pointed out to me on social media was that all the young stinky smokers who were delighting in the cigaretting were all probably too young to properly remember a time before the smoking ban. To them the idea of smoking indoors while music played may have been a genuinely exciting novelty.

image source (Heathen Harvest)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Joinery Halloween Spooktacular


It does sometimes seem like it is taking me longer to write about my life than to live it. This is an account of something I went to last Halloween in the Joinery, a local music and arts venue which has since closed down as part of a general erasure of things I like from the world. The event was organised by the Deserted Village record label, which is run by and releases records by people I think of as part of the Hunters Moon world. First up on the bill was Katie O'Neill, who had already started when I arrived. She played interesting textured guitar music.

The star act of the evening for me was a collaboration between Suzanne Walsh, Brian Conniffe and Diarmuid Mac Diarmada. If you were a hater you might describe this as artwank bollocks but I was in the zone and enjoyed it greatly. There were electronic elements to it as well as the playing of analogue instruments but the particularly amaze feature was the vocal performance of Suzanne Walsh. She was reading from the Grafton Paperback H.P. Lovecraft anthology The Haunter of the Dark, the one with the giant humanoid eating naked women on the cover, and singing Lovecraft's words to us. Or at least, that is what it looked like she was doing, except that I have read that book and number of times and the words did not sound familiar. Aside from Ms Walsh's wonderful presence, what made this performance was the strange and ritualistic nature of it, perfect for a concert on Halloween.

The last act were Tarracóir. I saw them once before, at Hunters Moon 2012, when they played unbelievably hard-rocking music in a tiny café. This time they had a different line-up because their brilliant drummer Bryan O'Connell was unable to make the event, so they replaced him for the night with one Tuula Voutilainen on crazy lady vocals. This was also bizarre and challenging and not the kind of thing that is ever going to trouble the charts but all forward thinking people enjoyed it.

And that was that. There were later concerts on in the Joinery, before it closed, notably a reformation of odd 1990s Irish band Wormhole, but I did not get to any of them. And now this great venue just a round the corner from my home is gone.


more pictures

The Haunter of the Dark (The Internet Speculative Fiction Database)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Horslips rock Sligo

Where was I on the last October Bank Holiday weekend, a full year after the last Hunters Moon festival? It would have been great if I had been in Carrick-on-Shannon, hanging out forlornly outside the Dock and wondering when when the festival was going to start, perhaps making my way to some of the coffee shops or the church looking to see if anything was going on there. But I was not, I was up in Sligo, a bit further along the same train line. As you know, Sligo is the town where my beloved is from and that weekend they were having a load of concerts and stuff on under the general rubric of Sligo Live or something like that. As well as local acts and artist well-known in Ireland if not outside they also had some actual big names (Sheryl Crowe!).

I was not in Sligo to see Sheryl Crowe, I was there to see Irish trad rockers Horslips with my beloved and her sisters. They were playing in the sports hall of the Sligo Institute of Technology. They were supported by Moxie, a local band who also combined trad and rock elements but did seem to come down more on the trad-folk-raggle-taggle side of the coin. They were at least half-decent and I would not object to seeing them again and they were clearly well-liked by the local crowd.

Horslips themselves… well they might be one of those bands who are much better known in Ireland than without. The strode the 1970s in Ireland like a colossus. If you see old photos of them they look amazing in their hairy hippy gear, quite a contrast to the by then tired look of the showbands who were still anachronistically active on the Irish scene. They were massively popular in Ireland, maybe not so much in the UK (correct me if I am wrong, readers), though they did apparently have top ten hits in traditionally hibernophile Germany. As previously noted, their music mixes rock and Irish traditional music elements, with lyrics also often calling to mind Celtic mythology. To be honest, I am not actually that familiar with their music but have liked what I have heard and have long been curious about them, so I leapt at this chance to see them live.

As far as I know Horslips are one of those bands who split up because their appeal had become more selective rather than because they all hated each other. So although they have all gone onto have successful non-musical careers there was no real barrier to them getting back together again and they have done so in recent years for high profile and doubtless fairly lucrative gigs. They had the complete 1970s line-up tonight for us, apart sadly from their original drummer, Eamon Carr, the only one of them I would have recognised. It was quipped that he was away getting ready for Halloween; if you have ever seen a picture of him you will know what she means.

Now, when you have a band made up of people who have all somewhat drifted away from music you would have to worry that maybe live they will be a bit rusty and rough around the edges. When they started off I did spend the first song or two wondering whether I had made a terrible mistake in coming to see them, as the songs seemed little above the level you would expect of an uninspired bar band. But a few songs in they started rocking out properly and also sneaking the trad elements into their tunes, reminding us of their unique selling point. And then they switched to the beautiful slow tune 'Furniture', a song I have heard described as the Irish 'Stairway to Heaven'. I think that might have been the moment that this concert tipped over from being quite good to being amazing. Normally I hate anything that might be characterised as a Lovely Song, but there is a poignancy to this tale of love gone wrong.

The set rolled on like a juggernaut, finishing with a pre-encore double whammy of 'Trouble with a Capital T' and 'Dearg Doom'. The latter is from a concept album based on the Irish hero saga of the Táin Bó Cúailgne, with the lyrics being the taunt of Cú Chulainn before he goes into combat. These are both monster tunes, particularly 'Dearg Doom', each with killer openings instantly recognisable to anyone in my country. They then encored with 'Shakin' All Over', a cover of a song by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates (yarrr), which seems to be their party piece.

I came away from this fired up with Horslips-love. I would definitely go and see them again and I encourage anyone reading this to seek out their music. The Book of Invasions or The Táin might be the records to go for, or maybe Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part being the one to listen to if you want something more contemplative.


image sources:

Horslips will knock the lugs right off you (Horslips official)

Horslips band photo (Horslips official)


Monday, March 23, 2015

Hunters Moon 2013: Part 2

Previously

On Sunday while other people went to daytime concerts in a local church I went to a circuit bending workshop run by one Rodger Boyle (who makes dark ambient music as Ruairi O'Baoighill). Circuit bending is when you get old toys that have electronic noise making stuff in them and then you dick around with them to make the electronics make different noises. It involves a lot of drilling holes in toys and ripping them open and then messing around with circuit tester things to bypass the circuit's normal functioning in the hope of finding a new noise. When you find something you like you solder the new link in place and then fit buttons and things to the toy to activate it.

I think I had this naive hope that a bit of dicking around with some old toy would mean that I would be leaving Hunters Moon with my own home-made Moog synthesiser. That was an unrealistic aspiration but the circuit bending was fun. At the start I was thinking, "this is just not going to work" but then there was a real moment of excitement the first time the thing makes an unexpected noise.

Apparently there are people in the world who are able to present concerts using their circuit-bent toys. I could also see how this was the kind of thing one could easily get a bit obsessive about and end up scouring charity shops for cast-off electronic toys to add to a collection of funny noise bits of junk. For all the fun I had with the workshop I have thankfully managed to avoid going down that terrible road.

But I could not spend all day wrecking old toys. Eventually I had to leave the workshop and head out to hear some more music. One notable act I saw was one Ivan Pawle. Mr Pawle used to be one of Dr Strangely Strange. Dr Strangely Strange are one of the first obscure cult acts I ever became aware of, as my friend William Whyte had a cassette of one of their then out-of-print albums. They played a kind of acoustic psych music and also had the winning feature of being Irish (though not so you would notice, as they did not have bodhran in their sound or lyrics about the praties).

Hunters Moon had Mr Pawle playing solo in the church venue. I was quite excited by this but it suffered from teething problems. Over the years it has been obvious that the acoustics in the church venue can be a bit difficult and they were initially being uncooperative, trying the patience both of Mr Pawle and I suspect also of Gavin Prior, who was on sound wrangling duties. My fear was that the concert was going to become one long soundtrack of annoyance but fortunately the acoustics were bludgeoned into some kind of submission. Then this became a magical exploration of the delicate music of Dr Strangely Strange.

The action moved back to the Dock. A face painter was available who must have found it amusing to be painting adults rather than five year olds. Cat Piss Brain Riot won the band name of the weekend competition. School Tour (who may or may overlap with Patrick Kelleher And His Cold Dead Hands) played electronic music while wearing a sticky looking cape that hid his features and made him look like underneath it he might be some kind of squamous monstrosity. Control Unit (from Italy or somewhere like that) were intriguingly goth. A particular highlight for me however were the band thrown together to fill a gap in the schedule caused by a foreign no-show, these being a Hunters Moon supergroup comprising the six or seven people who appear in 50% of the acts who play the festival. They seemed in particular to be drawing from the musical cupboard of popular Irish band Seadog (an act sometimes characterised as the post-rock Thin Lizzy), going down well with the home crowd.

Rhys Chatham closed off the festival. He is one of those names I am aware of though I would struggle to tell you too much about him… I think he is from the New York scene or something. He played a set which involved him playing a variety of instruments and sampling himself to create a textured sound etc.

By now word had filtered round the festival that Lou Reed had died. Chatham alluded to this in his set and the whole event got a bit emo. I know that Reed had become a bit of a comedy figure by the end of his life, characterised by his grumpiness and by a certain self-important distance from the rough music of his youth. Nevertheless, for most people present Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground would have been a gateway into the world of weirdo music. So festival attendees started writing Lou Reed lyrics or messages to him in chalk on the floor while listening to Chatham. Maybe looking at this from one remove that was a bit sad but at the time it had a genuine poignance.

And that was that. Two things I missed greatly from the last Hunters Moon were bands who had been stalwarts of the previous two years, Irish hard rockers Wizards of Firetop Mountain and British mentalists Gnod. But hey, they can't be everywhere.

I think it was on the October Bank Holiday weekend in 2014, fully a year after the above festival that it sunk in that Hunters Moon was over and there would be no more trips to Carrick on Shannon for great music. It does not surprise me that the organisers called it a day. For all that I loved the festival, it never seemed to attract that many other paying punters and it always felt like most of the people present were performers of one sort or another. I am not sure why that is. There is not much of an audience for weirdo music in Ireland but there is more than none, yet it seemed as though this audience was not willing to make the easy journey to Carrick on Shannon. Oh well, such is life, maybe it is for the best that Hunters Moon had three great years and then went away without outstaying its welcome and sliding into shite.


more rubbish pictures

Previously:

Hunters Moon 2011

Hunters Moon 2012

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hunters Moon 2013: Part 1


Yes, readers, I am now going to travel back in time to 2013 and have a crack at reviewing the last Hunters Moon festival I went to on the Halloween Bank Holiday weekend that year. I have been Not Getting Round to doing this ever since the festival ended, with wanting to do the festival justice by producing the Best Ever Write-Up for it. That is not going to happen so instead I am just going to dive in and write a lot of semi-random stuff about it without bothering to look back at my notes or anything like that.

Now of course, you might wonder why I am bothering. Hunters Moon tended to feature some pretty obscure artists and reading accounts of artists you've never heard of playing at a festival you weren't at can be a bit on the dull side. And of course there is the time-lag: this is me writing about a festival that happened a very long time ago. But I feel that as no one else seems to have reviewed this event anywhere it falls to me to do it, notwithstanding the passing of time. The heroic efforts of the organisers in putting on the festival deserve to be remembered.

To recap, Hunters Moon was a festival that took place in Carrick-on-Shannon (mostly but not entirely in the Dock Arts Centre) on the October Bank Holiday weekend for three years running. It featured musical artists from the worlds of strange folk, experimental electronic music and neo-psychedelia. It always struggled to attract an audience (because audiences are stupid) but anyone who ever went to it will agree that it was the best thing ever.

The 2013 festival began with a performance by Divil A Bit, a nom de guerre for the festival organisers and people associated with them. They played droney instruments in the foyer of the arts venue. There was ritualistic parading around. There may have been sporadic hitting of a drum. As with a lot of avant-garde music you could easily have dismissed this as tuneless nonsense, but if you were so inclined then you would probably have made a mistake coming to the festival.

I will not go through all the acts who played, largely because my drug addled brane cannot remember them all in detail. Instead I present a selection of moments.

One thing that was always fun at Hunters Moon were the concerts that took place away from the arts venue, in cafes around the town. We caught two great performances in the Cafe Lounge, a place serious in its love of coffee and one of the few places in these islands that serves coffee in cafetière. While buzzing on caffeinated goodness we were entertained by Devon MacGillivray, a fiddler playing tunes from the Cape Breton region of Canada. She was followed by Sam Burke of popular mediaevalist folkie group Nuada. He played a variety of strange instruments and sang songs, one of which required male audience members to stamp their feet in the manner of a rampant stallion. I did my best.

An act that caused many people to flee in terror was the Phil Collins Project. They did a variety of Phil Collins related things, from performing idiot-savant covers of his tunes to singing tunelessly over concert footage of the great man. I think the Haterz disliked two things about the Phil Collins Project (or the PCP as those in the know call them): firstly, any association with the terminally uncool former drummer of Genesis and secondly the tuneless art-wank nature of the performance. I must admit to a certain Phil Collins sneaking regard so I was more open to this lot than many. I also found the tuneless artwankery to be fun rather than annoying. So I liked the PCP. I am unashamed.

What was also funny was watching the crowd who remained to watch the PCP. When they played concert footage of 'Two Hearts Beat As One', barely singing tunelessly over it, quite a few people started bopping to the crazy Phil Collins sounds. They were trying to look ironic but it was hard not to think that really they would love if someone were to drop all the tuneless experimental nonsense and serve up a weekend of 1980s tat for them to dance to.

This maybe was the night for confrontational acts who divided the audience, for later on the festival presented us with Consumer Electronics. They were a duo, a woman making some kind of loud electronic noise and one of the blokes from controversial perv outfit Whitehouse shouting "Cunt Cunt Cunt" over and over again into a microphone. He also stripped off his top and invited people to come and suck on his bitch tits.

Whitehouse are one of those acts you hear of as being very controversial and confrontational, never afraid of getting in the audience's face. They reputedly like to use images of hardcore pornography to make the audience complicit in things or something. I do not know how similar Consumer Electronics is to Whitehouse, but it seemed like the same kind of thing: puerile confrontation and attention seeking through bad language and infantile transgression. And it wasn't even that edgy. They had images projected on screens while they played but it never went beyond anything you could happily show to your mother, while always appearing as though at any moment it was going to off the deep end.

Still, for all that I thought Consumer Electronics were not that good, I was glad to have seen them. They also provided one of the most memorable incidents of the weekend. At one point Mr Electronics threw a pint of beer into the audience (edgy!), drenching a woman who then charged off to bar and returned with a pint of slops that she then poured over him. He loved it.

An act I thought would be more controversial was this Belgian synthesiser lady who perfromed as Orphan Fairytale. The music was very likeable plinky atmospheric electronic music, so you might wonder why I thought it would prove controversial. Why? Well, I thought its very likeability would put some of my more forthright friends off it. While I was listening to Ms Fairytale's performance I was conscious of how much I was enjoying it but also fearful of the conversations that would ensue once it finished, for fear that one friend in particular would dismiss it all as "fucking tweetronica shite". But this did not happen and in fact said friend professed to love Orphan Fairytale. Maybe I am no longer able to predict what people like anymore.

Come back tomorrow for more Hunters Moon 2013 action!

Phil Collins image source (Miami Vice Wiki)

more rubbish pictures

Previously:

Hunters Moon 2011

Hunters Moon 2012

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why am I writing a live blog about the First World War?

People have asked me why I am doing my World War 1 live blog. One inquirer in particular wondered whether I have been caught up in the commemoration frenzy and found myself stuck with a desire to mark the "brave sacrifice" of the men who fell in battle.

The question is an interesting one. As is often the case with matters of human motivation, I have I have no ready answer to it. I think it was the neatness of the 100 year anniversary that seduced me. I have been deriving great enjoyment from @RealTimeWWII on Twitter (which tweets real time stuff from the Second World War) and that influenced my decision to try something similar (but not as good) for the First.

One of the big things I am trying to do with the First World War blog is counter the nationally specific nature of so much of the way the event is remembered. I live in Ireland and exposure to the British media means that it is easy to slip into a very narrow view of how and where the war was fought and who took part in it. Irish media largely reinforces that; the war was fought before my own country became independent, meaning that Irish soldiers fought in the British army. So it seems that for many the war was fought entirely by Britain and Germany at the Somme and in Flanders (apart from a jaunt off to Gallipoli featuring some Australian guest stars, while later Lawrence of Arabia does something in Arabia). I want to try and counter that and bring forth that the war was fought in many places and by people from many countries, some of which no longer exist.

I am enjoying learning more about the conflict as I prepare the posts on it. The discipline of keeping the posts coming is a useful one. Readership of the World War 1 blog is not what it could perhaps be, but I am finding the process sufficiently rewarding that I will continue with it for the foreseeable future.


images:

German soldiers advance into Belgium (1914) (Telegraph)

Senegalese soldiers (RTS Canada)

crosses (RTS Canada)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Trip to London Part 6: the British Museum


My account of this trip of last November to London ends rather anticlimactically with a brief account of a trip to the British Museum. I saw the following exhibits:

1. The one on Egyptian mummies that uses exciting new techniques to look inside mummies; it was interesting but having been to Egypt myself I feel like I have probably seen all the mummies I will ever need to in my life.

2. The one on the apogee of Ming Dynasty China. I particularly liked the picture of the chubby fun-loving emperor being carried on a palanquin by some over-worked servants.

3. The one on Germany through the ages that largely ignored the most famous bit of German history. I particularly liked the portraits of Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora; while I have seen these pictures before in reproduction, in the flesh they exhibited a carnality you do not normally expect from religious leaders.

4. An exhibition on depictions of witchcraft in printed materials in early modern Europe. This reinforced my sense that witch hunts were not a routine feature of the mediaeval past but rather something that flourished as society began to transform into something like our own.
Pandas