Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"... like retromingent quadropeds"

I've been looking at the several years old Masters thesis of my dear friend Ammonite (not her real name). It's all about how ancient Roman men saw women as foodstuffs and thus lived in permanent fear of being poisoned by them. Deadly stuff.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Unrealised ambitions

These are a big part of my life. Do you remember all my big talk about going to observe elections in funny Eurasian countries? Well I do, but subsequently I remembered that from September onwards I have to juggle spy school with a full-time job. Ho hum.

I was also struck today by how it's over a year since I was in Palestine. One of the things I had in mind for Inuit Bikini Scarlet Carwash was to do a big write up of my trip there, complete with the amazing pictures taken by me of walls and old streets and holy sites and stuff like that. Still haven't done that either. Ah well.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

CD: THE GREATEST IRISH MUSIC TUNES EVER RELEASED

This is actually a compilation of tunes by Irish artists which is meant to give a cross-section of the local music I have listened to over the last number of years. The tracklisting represents a couple of different things - artists I like or have liked, artists I deem representative of a certain current of Irish music, artists I reckon people might find interesting (but not necessarily like). Not all the selections do all of these things simultanaeously.

There are no tracks by U2 here, because everyone knows what they sound like already. And no tracks by undeniably rubbish acts of the 1980s (Cactus World News, Cry Before Dawn, Aslan, etc.), as they have no redeeming features and I have nothing by them. I have also left out any older Irish tunes by good bands like Horslips as they do not fit the model.

So anyway, enough of my yakkin'. Here are the tunes, the order being roughly chronological:

Toasted Heretic 'Sodom Tonight' (from Songs For Swinging Celibates)
Toasted Heretic were a very important act in my circle. I remember hearing this song for the first time in the radio and being awestruck by it. This was back around 1987 or so, when the idea of there being such a thing as an Irish band making this kind of music was dangerously novel. In rapid succession the discovery was made that i) they had other songs ii) they had an entire cassette of songs, and iii) they played concerts. I saw them live and became acquainted with the band (though not as well as others), but gradually Toasted Heretic's career trajectory became apparent - a failure to capitalise on early promise, and a failure to break out of the ghetto of Irish music despite more than no support in certain quarters of the UK music press. Such is the way of life.

Wormhole 'Unknown To Us' (from Chicks Dig Scars)
One of the many somewhat experimental guitar rock outfits found in Dublin during the early 1990s. These fellows may later have mutated or evolved into E+S=B, who played with yer man Damo Suzuki. I like the whiny vocals on this track.

Whipping Boy 'Valentine 69' (from Submarine)
The Whipping Boy originally were a kind of early post-My Bloody Valentine band - shoegazing before the genre had acquired the name, but maybe a bit more muscular. For whatever reason, success eluded them. Then they reformed in the mid-1990s, riding a wave of music industry hype, and success eluded them again.

Harvest Ministers 'Six O'Clock Is Rosary' (from the e.p. 'If It Kills Me And It Will')
The Harvest Ministers released a couple of singles and maybe an album on Sarah, and appear on the final Sarah compilation, which means that more than no people outside Ireland have heard their music.

Revelino 'Happiness Is Mine' (from the untitled first Revelino album)
These fellow mutated out of The Coltranes. I'm not saying they are necessarily that good in an objective sense, but when I saw them live in the early/mid 1990s I was struck by their star quality - they seemed like the kind of act who should be playing to legions of adoring fans rather than to the usual suspects who go to all gigs in Dublin. They may have thought so too, so it was amusing when their second, post non-success album, was called something like To The End, and had a wonderful cover featuring a photo of some Kamikaze pilots bowing before heading off on a mission.

Sultans of Ping fc 'Where's Me Jumper?' (from Casual Sex In The Cineplex)
I have met people who have never heard this song, so I included it on the CD. Some have suggested making this Ireland's national anthem.

Katell Keineg 'Smile' (from Jet)
Katell Keineg is not actually Irish but she lives here and is part of the local scene, so she might as well be. This is from what I think is her first album. I would have preferred to include 'The Gulf of Araby', but that is from a record I do not have. This is life.

Female Hercules 'Gwendolyn' (from the e.p. 'Gwendolyn')
Female Hercules are a hardy perennial on the Dublin live scene, three guys who live to rock 24-7 and play music with an obvious psychobilly influence. Mr Female Hercules is a recognisable Dublin character, and a personal hero of mine.

WARLORDS OF PEZ 'Padre Pio' (from the v/a compilation Kicking Against…)
WARLORDS OF PEZ are best experienced live, where they play in masks and include bizarre audio-visual features to their performances. Plus they have a naked man onstage hiding behind a flipboard giving the titles of the songs (and their lyrics, usually the same thing).

David Kitt 'You Know What I Want To Know' (from the v/a compilation Kicking Against...)
I'm not entirely convinced that David "Kittser" Kitt is necessarily that good, but he ran Dublin for a bit during the late 1990s or early 2000s. The mainstream media here got a bit over excited by his combining of programmed beats with singer-songwritery guitar and vocal stuff, while true scenesters actively hated him. Listening to this track again I am struck by how pleasantly understated his delivery is, and I remember enjoying any live performance of his I caught (when he was supporting someone I had paid money to see).

Nina Hynes 'Swallow' (from a v/a compilation given with Homage (or should that be Homg;e, given the magazine's lack of interest in spell-checking?))
Dublin suffers from a surfeit of lady singer-songwriters, and I am throwing Ms Hynes in here as a random sample.

Neosupervital 'Rachael' (from a v/a compilation given with Homage magazine)
Mr Neosupervital is this suave guy who plays a weird guitar synth thing while wearing a suit. There is a slightly support act air to him, but it's the kind of quality support that makes you wish you showed up early to more gigs. This song is rocking my world at the moment, making me wonder if I should check out more of his stuff.

The Jimmy Cake 'The Opposite of Addiction' (from Dublin Gone, Everybody Dead)
Popular local band whose members have colonised most other Dublin bands..

Estel 'My Raymond Is Contagious' (from A Guide In Time Of Great Danger)
Unpopular local band, at least with people I know. This is pre-split Estel, and is unrepresentative of their sound, in so far as it has a guest vocalist. Classic Estel were better live than on record. Post-split, one Estel faction kept the name (Continuity Estel), while Estel-General Command became Pas Cas Cap.

The Chalets 'David Boring' (from the 'Night Rocker' e.p.)
The title track of this e.p. is a complete corker, but I reckoned the comics fans among you might appreciate this track.

Jape 'Floating' (from a v/a compilation given with Small Hours magazine)
When I saw Mr Jape live I realised how much I liked this song. It's funny how one of my friends described Jape as indie-shmindie bullshit when (live, anyway) this song is like some kind of monster rave anthem.

Fred 'Four Chords And The Truth' (from Making Music So You Don't Have To)
The Cork sensations. Sadly, on record you do not get to see their crazed dancer.

WARLORDS OF PEZ 'Monster Voice' (from an album sampler given away at a recent concert)
WARLORDS OF PEZ songs are short, so there is always room for one more.

That's your lot. At some stage in the future you can expect a CD of World Pop - mainly psych tunes from East Germany and Cambodia, bet you can't wait.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Another Concert: Sonic Boom Crawdaddy


Mr Boom is well known as a former member of Spacemen 3. His solo career has been a bit erratic, or rather he has ploughed the kind of furrow that never troubled the charts in the way that his old band-mate Jason Pierce did with Spiritualised. But if you like droney music, his live shows are a must.

Tonight, after a support performance by a fellow calling himself Technical Difficulties (a band name surely up there with Plus Support and Gig Cancelled), Sonic started to do his stuff, wheeling a bank of analogue synthesisers to the front of the stage. He then twiddled with his apparatus while it produced complex droning noises. The first track combined this kind of thing with samples of people describing nightmares, which was apparently linked to synthetic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire.

This was great stuff. The only thing wrong with it really was that the venue was not seated, although if it had been they would have had to rouse us with buckets of water at the end of the night.

Sonic still does not look the healthiest, god bless him. I must salute his uncompromising adherence to the bohemian life.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Defend Our Culture!

I don't know about you, but I like culture. And I like the world, so the Festival of World Cultures out in Dun Laoghaire this weekend is right up my alley. Sadly their website is a picture heavy abomination, but if you are thinking of heading out you could do worse than download their enormously large PDF programme of events.

I reckon I will be there for the soundclash between Trans-Global Underground and the Trio Bulgarka, which astonishingly is free. Although Trans-Global Underground went off the boil when they stopped wearing wooden masks, I retain a certain fondness for their global pillage sounds, while the Trio Bulgarka are perhaps best know to Whitey for singing on a Kate Bush album and an ad for cider.

I am also hoping to see those Algerian dudes who are playing on Saturday, and maybe (if I master bilocation) that guy who used to be in the Stone Roses or that weirdo Moroccan style trance music (that would be tri-location).

Whatever I see, though, I reckon none of it will be as good as the blackfaced Morris dancers and their travelling bull, who turned in a performance so exciting a couple of years back that Spiderman himself showed up.

My beloved is doing a thesis at the moment, and I have no friends, so if you see a guy wandering around on his own out in Dun Laoghaire this weekend, pop over and say hello - it might just be me.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Boredoms: Temple Bar Music Centre

This gig took place a while ago, and suffered from an excess of coolness. Indeed, it featured so much concentrated coolness that it collapsed in on itself, creating a super-dense event of such high powered cool that it started sucking in the coolness of all around it. I gather some of the people right at the front of venue had all their coolness permanently drained and now can only go to gigs by Phil Collins tribute acts. I was lucky to be just outside the event horizon.

Anyway, Boredoms (“The” is not cool) are from Japan. Three of them play drums. One of them plays keyboards and does vocals. It’s all about the way the drumming creates patterns inside itself and the way the players demonstrate a kind of telepathic link between each other. The vocals (featuring on very few of the pieces) are a bit rubbish, suggesting that this fellow might be Boredoms’ Andrew Ridgely, except that the keyboard parts remained of interest.

But yeah, deadly drumming.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mouse Rides Frog


I stumbled across the accompanying image in a scientific journal last thursday. Google reveals that it has proved a hit with cute animal enthusiasts, and that it orginally accompanied an article in National Geographic. It is still a bit mysterious - did the frog know there was a mouse on its back? Did it care? Did the mouse fall off as soon as the frog strarted hopping through the water, or was the frog gamely swimming to carry its friend to safety?

We may never know the answers to these questions.

Heavy Metal - Schwerpunkt of the Underground


The Guardian yesterday carried an interesting piece by Julian Cope on how Metal has become the driving force in the avant garde musical underground. This is hardly news to people who have been following acts like SUNN-O)))) and Acid Mothers Temple, but it is interesting to see the good news being brought to Guardian readers.

I must be really hip - I've seen all three of the bands in the picture that comes with the article.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

WARLORDS OF PEZ Crawdaddy 6/6/06

As you know, WARLORDS OF PEZ are devil rockers from outer space. At this gig, proceedings were enlivened by a surprise appearance by SATAN HIMSELF. Out father below turns out to be a rather rotund fellow with a surfeit of arms who played a lovely song on an acoustic guitar. Once again Christian lies are exposed. The WARLORDS OF PEZ played their songs and gave away a lovely CD of tunes from their forthcoming album. I bought a Warlords t-shirt, the hope being that one day I will be wearing it and some laydees will think I am in the band and make lewd propositions to me. The Warlords wear masks, see, making it easy for any chancer to pretend to be one of them. Watch the minge roll in, wheh wheh wheh.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Pinefox exercises his right to reply

You will recall my reporting of some opinions expressed by The Pinefox on some records I bought in London. Young Andrew was wondering whether The Pinefox was more horrified by Madonna or Sonic Youth, so I asked him about it. This is what he said:

"I do like 1980s Madonna - quite a bit! At her occasional best I think her terrific. But post-1980s Madonna is a different glass of babycham, to my ears; it doesn't do much for me.

"It's Sonic Youth I tend to have a problem with.

"I am not shocked or appalled by Mudhoney, though I would be a bit sceptical. I have hardly ever heard them. I suppose I would imagine they might be like, say, a less melodic Nirvana, which doesn't sound a great idea to me. But that is only an inexpensively educated guess.

"As you justly point out, I strongly approved of the Clangers. I like the way your web site tells the story background."

So now you know.

Monday, August 14, 2006

IRELAND'S UNTOUCHABLE CULT OF SATANISTS!

Indymedia is an internet media outlet characterised by the highest journalistic standards. Its writers are highly professional, and nothing is published there until the editorial staff have carefully checked it for the slightest inaccuracies. As a result, I feel we should take very seriously an article recently posted about a SATANIC CULT which is preying on children and teenagers in this very city.

"Some victims are killed with terrible methods.This terror induces the release of endorphins to the blood which is then consumed by Satanists to achieve a 'high'."

Jaysus.

CONGOTRONICS

People in Frank's APA have been going on about Congotronics, a record featuring music by the Congolese sensations Konono No. 1. They have also mentioned the other Congotronics record, which features other bands from the Kinshasa scene. My beloved and I have finally succumbed and bought the two of these. Christ, this is amazing stuff. Repeated listens to the Konono No. 1 album has me planning my holiday in the Congo. Those of you who take Frank's APA will recall that Konono No. 1 are essentially a dance band who play in Kinshasa nightclubs, using makeshift instruments and equipment in lieu of the flash stuff Whitey has at his disposal. So the percussion heavy music is often literally based on people banging bits of scrap metal together while the odd electronic sounds are made by playing home made thumb pianos through loudspeakers made from abandoned car parts. The record’s sleeve-notes talk about how through a process of parallel evolution the Kinshasa scene has arrived a sound akin to that embraced by the West’s experimentalists. There is something to that, but it misses one crucial thing about the Congotronic sound – it’s fun! This music would be deadly in a club full of E-ed up nutters, who doubtless would enjoy all the whistles.
The other thing I like about this record is how un-world musicy it is. You don’t listen to it feeling like you are listening to a product world of timeless tradition, untainted by outside influences. This is a mutant music of permanent revolution, produced by musicians who are embracing modernity (or post-modernity). Oh sure, there is a suggestion of some kind of origin in traditional music of some sort, but there is nothing precious or anti-developmentalist about it.

Weirdly, with its syncopated drumming and somewhat ramshackle sounds, this record strikes me as almost being like the Langley School Music Project meet Adam And The Ants (with different vocalists). There is definitely one track where the drumming sounds like ‘Ant Rap’. Who knows, because Konono No. 1 sing in foreign I can’t make out what they are saying, but maybe they are saying their names in a culturally relevant Marco-Merrick-Terry-Lee style.

LATER Thinking about it again, I must qualify that Langley Schools Music Project comparison. I do not mean by it that Konono No.1 are unskilled musicians or that they are operating at some kind of instinctive level, with their ideas on how to make music untainted by any intellectual ideas of technique or suchlike. Rather, It’s like they have the same kind of can-do attitude, and a willingness not to be held back by apparently major problems. In Konono No.1’s case, they have the lack of proper instruments & amplification equipment, which is overcome by making instruments out of scrap metal and building loudspeakers from magnets salvaged from car batteries. With the Langley Schools Music Project, there is the genuine lack of skill on the part of so many of the musicians; this is overcome by just making the goddamn record anyway.

Anyway, I understand that many people do not like the Langley Schools Music Project, but you would have to be some kind of fun hater to not dig the Congotronics.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lightless in Gaza

If you are interested in that kind of thing, Eoin Murray of Trócaire (Irish aid charity) is blogging about his trip to the Gaza Strip: Live from Gaza, Eoin Murray, Trócaire

Things in Gaza are pretty grim... the Israelis blew up the power station after their soldier was kidnapped, meaning that one million Palestinians now have very precarious access to drinkable water.

Earth 2

I have on a number of occasions mentioned imaginary supergroups that I would like to think exist on an alternate universe. My new favourite has the following stellar line-up:

On drums, they boast none other than Ped, formerly of Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

On guitar and synths, there’s John Oates, of Hall & Oates.

On lead vocals, solo sensation Matthew Wilder, and assisting on rapping, none other than our very own Devastatin’ Dave.

I have yet to think of a name for this band.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Three CDs

I bought these three little charmers in London, after my visit to All Tomorrows’ Parties.

Ciccone Youth The Whitey Album

As you and I know, this is basically Sonic Youth going experimental and electronic with a few guest musicians pulled in. I remember back in the 1980s hearing bad things about it, but this was from a source then hostile to the Sonic Youth project. More recently I had heard very good things indeed about the cover version of Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted To Love’ and eventually seen its video. It has Kim Gordon singing the tune over a montage of shots of soldiers from the Vietnam War doing stuff. On record, ‘Addicted To Love’ is a corker, with the Youth nailing the kind of classic pop sound towards which they have always had a tendency. The other tracks had been described to me as mere pissing about, but they are not unlike the kind of discordant soundscapes Sonic Youth themselves produced in the period, except that here the noise is made more with synths than guitars. Oddly, the record as a whole reminds me of the Byrne/Eno/Talking Heads axis that would have been roughly contemporary with this record (or a bit earlier? Chronology never my strong point).

The Clangers Original Television Music

In fairness, the title is misleading – I don’t think the Clangers themselves actually made this record. As you know, the Clangers live on another planet and talk in strange piping voices. There is a Soup Dragon who lives in a cave, and she serves them soup. Once this plant grew on their planet with musical notes for fruit. The soup dragon ate all the notes and music came out of her whenever she opened her mouth. This story is recounted in the opera The Iron Chicken and the Music Trees, act one of which is included on this disc.

Mudhoney March to Fuzz: Best of and Rarities

A double album, the first disc of which in particular supports the proposition that Mudhoney get a bit wearing in large doses. They still have their peaks though, with tracks like ‘You Got It’, ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’, ‘Hate the Police’ and ‘When Tomorrow Hits’ showing off why this band are worth taking seriously. That last song is particularly impressive, with its doomy comedown style lyrics and sound contrasting nicely with the WOAHHHHH! up-for-it-ness of the other tracks.

The second disc of rarities and b-sides is more enjoyable over all, featuring classics like ‘Drinking For Two’ and their awesome cover version of ‘Revolution’. The presence of all the covers and the theoretically throwaway nature of all the b-sides give this an enjoyably varied style while showing off the band’s muso talents well.

I showed all three of these records to my good friend The Pinefox, and he was shocked that I could like any of them, with the exception of the Clangers.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When iTunes attacks

I'm listening to iTunes on shuffle while I write. Something weird is happening with it... it seems to be playing two tracks at once - the main shuffle track, and some strange dark ambient tune (probably one of the quieter (((((SUNN-O)))). It sounds deadly, like an instant film soundtrack.

Does anyone know how I can make it do this again?

There is no thirteenth floor

Dude. Those Lazybird people are bringing The Telescopes to Dublin. As a man of the cloth, I have shunned the sabbath defiling events hosted by Lazybird, but maybe this time I will make an exception. The last time I saw The Telescopes was in the Camden Falcon, around 18 years ago. Sweat ran from the walls and we met a jolly American fellow called Daniel Touché. Given that the International Bar's upstairs venue is only marginally bigger we might be in for a re-run of those exciting events.

I understand that there are those who say that The Telescopes have gone all tuneless and avant garde, but the internet's own Masonic Boom suggests that they actually rock like motherfuckers (or are very good in some other way). Or maybe tuneless and avant garde is good. Anyway, whatever it is, I want it.

Trapped in the Chalet: Aftermath

Monday morning was strange. My chalet mates left early, so I had the weird experience of waking up and getting ready in an empty chalet. Doing the washing up was a surreal experience – why was I doing it? What was I gaining from doing it? Maybe virtue really is its own reward.

Eventually I left Pontin’s. Travelling alone, I resolved to walk to Rye, taking the public right of way that connects holiday camp with town. This was a pleasant way of journeying, bringing me beside fields from which sheep eyed me suspiciously, wondering whether I had come to kill their young. Not me. I also saw many rabbits. One section of the path took me by first a second world war gun emplacement (now disused and marked as dangerous) and then through a vast field full of sheep. Some of these looked like they were thinking of seeing if their molars could be turned to carnivorous use, but they eventually decided better of it.

Rye was as pretty as ever. I thought of stopping for a coffee and treat, but nowhere seemed just right. So I went to the train station and met DJ Krossphader and Claire, his delightful young ladyfriend. We travelled to London together, making jokes about Plato’s Republic on the way, and then ended up loafing around for much of the afternoon in that great city. I brought them to Selectadisc and we bought some records. Afterwards we went to that Italian sandwich place in Soho for a little something.

But anyway, overall, how was ATP weekend one this year? While much of what I saw was enjoyable enough, there was little that was revelatory – at no point did I see someone new and think “Jesus Christ, this is the best band ever, where I can I buy all their records”. Even if I had, they don’t really do the merchandising properly anymore. My feeling is that the merch place should work like a shop, and sell stuff from all the bands for all the weekend. Instead, the merchandise room sold only ATP’s own merchandise all the time, with the bands only selling their stuff after their shows. I reckon some of them, notably Comets On Fire, lost themselves money this way. Ho hum.

So, maybe in the end Paul Watts is right, and this truly was a below par ATP – though it can hardly have been as dull as the Autechre year.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Trapped In The Chalet: part three

Sunday was the day curated by Davendra Banhart. I had intended to make my way to the musical pub quiz scheduled for 2.00 pm. These plans foundered on the copious quantities of alcohol consumed the night before, and the deleterious effect of said consumption on my functioning. On eventually reaching a a stage where leaving the chalet was possible, I resolved to try an interesting experiment – to spend a day at All Tomorrow’s Parties abstaining from all mind altering chemicals, whether they be alcohol or adrenachrome cut with Japanese heroin. How differently would I discern the music without such things blurring my powers of observation?

First, though, I went for a walk along the beach, and ate a particularly vile repast of fish and chips that I wondered if shunning solid foods might in fact have been a better plan for the day.

As discussed, Devendra Banhart was curating today, meaning that there was a surfeit of folkies performing. The first act I saw were Espers. They were folkies. I seem to remember quite liking them, but nothing about them imprinted itself in my memory, suggesting that abstention from alcohol damages the memory. Vetiver are also folkies, and have a certain rep among Banhart-lovers for essentially being his backing band, even though they have a separate prior existence. They are a bit hairier than Espers, and I recall finding them fairly enjoyable.

Then I went downstairs to see Jandek. He wears a hat and is a bit more avant garde than the other acts on today. In general I liked him – this is good avant garde rather than bad avant garde – but I felt he could do without singing. He’s not very good at it, and the music seems to work instrumentally.

Bert Jansch is an old lad who sings and plays guitar. He is some kind of inspirational force to lovers of old-school folky music, and I was under orders to go and see him. He was playing upstairs, and was maybe a bit lost in the size of the venue, but yes indeed he was very impressive. I would like to see him in Whelans sometime, yes.

Folkie legend Vashti Bunyan played on the main stage too. Maybe you are aware of her story? She released an album back in the late 1969, it did not do that well, and she dropped out of the music business, moving to a remote location to concentrate on the bringing up of her children. Over the years that album (Just Another Diamond Day) began to be seen as a lost classic of another era. In the recent past it was re-released to considerable acclaim from the people who like that sort of thing, coaxing Vashti out of obscurity. She recorded and released a second album – Lookaftering – and now here she is playing a concert at All Tomorrow’s Parties.

I may affect a certain scoviness towards these folkie types, but Vashti Bunyan’s two albums are both very popular here in Carwash Mansions. So I was looking forward to her set, and was not disappointed. Her voice remains as beautiful and delicate as ever, and the songs all work perfectly as ever. Her stage demeanour is quite engaging, as she is both very comfortable in front of an audience while also coming across as being a bit *shy*. She also told us little stories about the processes that had led to the writing of individual songs – the unfortunate love life of her younger self seemed to be a recurring theme.

After that, I saw Ramblin’ Jack Elliott play the last song or two of his set. Oddly, it seemed very similar to that ‘The Plains of Kildare’ horse-racing one that Andy Irvine does, except it was about a different horse taking part in a race in the USA. Man, how many songs about horses are there?

I loafed around for a bit with yer man Ady from Vacuous Pop and his friend The Martian. Ady shouted “Jog on!” occasionally. The Martian was telling me about the importance of drinking lots of water. Hey man, I’m a former raver, no need to tell me. We also got talking to some guy who runs that Lazybird club.

And then Devendra Banhart. You know the old joke about what the Grateful Dead fan say when he runs out of drugs? I was a bit like that with Devendra Banhart. This is not music you can appreciate in an unaltered state, and as his set advanced I moved from a state of not liking it to actively loathing his performance with such an emphatic rage that it was a wonder I did not rush the stage and treat Mr Banhart to a stout pummelling. In and of itself the music was not so bad, except that it was the kind of sounds an uninspiring Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison tribute act might serve up. I could have endured if it had not been for Banhart’s tiresomely phoney in-between song banter. This was all “Hey cats, we’re gonna keep things mellow for a bit but then we’re gonna groove on out a bit”. And then there was his anti-war song, which was like something from A Mighty Wind. GRRRR! I am falling into one of my RAGING FURIES just thinking of it.

Still, you’d have to wonder if maybe I am the one at fault here. Lots of otherwise sensible people seem to like Mr Banhart, so maybe there is something to him that I am not noticing.

Or maybe I am hearing the sound of banjo strings tuning up.

Anyway, I was standing there having my nads ground by Devendra Banhart when I that the clock was nearing midnight, meaning that Genesis of the Daleks was due to start on the Bowlie TV. So I made my way back to the chalet to meet the young man you know as Braised By Wolves, where we watched the first couple of episodes. But then oh no! wor chalet mates returned from Devendra Banhart, and were all *tired* and needed to sleep and stuff, putting an end to our TV watching pranks. BBW went off looking for somewhere else to watch the dawn of the Daleks, while I went for walk and then crashed.

ATP runs for three days, so that's all there is to say about this year's, right? WRONG. Keep tuning in to Inuit Bikini Scarlet Carwash and you will soon get to discover what happened after the festival ended.

Monday, August 07, 2006

World of Twist


I was saddened to read in the Guardian that Tony Ogden died recently. The name may mean nothing to you. He was the lead singer and main guy in World of Twist, a lost band of the early 1990s. They were kind of the pop Hawkwind, but they failed to achieve the levels of commercial success that this would suggest. WoT split after one album, Quality Street. whose scratchy vinyl copy I must replace sometime. They had one awesomely good tune, their non-breakthrough single 'Sons of the Stage'. I still do not understand why that never became a monster hit, if only for discerning indie fans.

Sources suggest that Mr Ogden's relative lack of productivity post-WoT may have been related to his heroin addiction.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Trapped In The Chalet: part two

So now to Saturday - curated by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. On this day people got really into saying “yeah, yeah, yeah” at each other. It wasn’t even funny if you were there.

I spent much of the afternoon with some people from ILX. The theory was advanced that I Love Comics has the best rofflers, and I was fascinated by exposition of the recent nonsensical developments in the DC Universe. Superman punching through the barriers between separate parallel worlds was a particular favourite. There was something else about some guy who had this machine with giant hands with which he was going to separate the universe out into separate sub-universes and then push them back together in a slightly different way. Hearing all this I did find myself wondering why certain members of this APA are still wasting their time with us when clearly they have what it takes to become DC’s ideas person.

One of the fellows from ILX also regaled us with an account of a video game he had played in Japan. Called Booga Booga Rampage, it provides you with a giant arse that you spank with a special hand. Japanese letters then appeared on the screen, but he wasn’t sure what they meant. I’m trying to think of some way that Booga Booga Rampage could become the focus of the next DC Universe crossover. Maybe there could be… OK, let’s leave it there, shall we?

I did not spend all day with these good folk and eventually left The Camber Castle to go and see some music. My notes for this time are a bit thin, so you may find yourself doubting I was actually there at all. First up seem to have been Imaginary Folk. I think they were folky improvisers or something. My memory is a bit vague.

I do remember seeing Services. They were one of those he-sings-he-doesn’t synthesiser bands. I was fond of the guy a who played the keyboards – smartly dresses in a short-sleeved shirt and tie, sporting a nice moustache, and taking occasional sips from a mug of tea, he looked for all the world like a computer programmer in the 1970s. The music he made was pretty enjoyable too. Sadly, the other guy did not have a very good singing voice but nevertheless was so completely full of himself that in certain rough bars his type end up face down in a dustbin at the end of the night.

I think I left Services early and may well have nipped upstairs to see Hundred Eyes. My notes are unclear and nothing in the programme jogs my memory, so my attendance remains apocryphal. I did see Celebration. They were another somewhat arty New York band. The programme goes a bit overboard in describing them, but I reckoned they were trying to do a kind of knowing art-pop thing, with the Celebration lady presenting herself as some kind of full-on pop strumpet. I remember thinking they were pretty good but maybe took themselves a bit seriously.

At this point we broke for Dr Who and pizza. It was part one of the Cybermen episode. Work Hard Play Hard! I liked how sulky Mickey’s character has become at only being a comedic minor character, and it was nice generally to see the Cybermen being presented as scarily implacable (and not as rubbishly vulnerable as in the later period of old Dr Who).

Watching Dr Who meant that we missed some of the music, but we made it back in time to catch a bit of Oneida. As I arrived, the guy from Oneida announced “Thanks – we hope you enjoyed that song, which was written by Oneida. And now we are going to play another song – by Oneida”. This joke never stopped being funny, it’s the way he tells them. Oneida play a kind of wiggly stoner rock (featuring lots of songs by Oneida), with a nice line of deadpan in-between song patter. There was, fortunately, a lack of people standing around with their arms folded having a great time, but one guy did look at me funny when I shouted “Stooges!”.

After that I saw some of TV On The Radio. My notes suggest they were “boring”. So I went downstairs and caught the trail end of Liars, who were “shite”. Not just ordinary shite, mind, but the kind of tunelessly boring shite you get when talentless bimbos go avant garde.

No worries, there were still the amusements to loaf around in until it was time to catch the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They have proper star quality and the kind of tunes that sound right played out of a big sound system to the crowded upstairs room at Pontins. We had been expecting young Chocolate Socialist to explode during their set, yet he seemed surprisingly restrained. I may however have become rather excited.

I’ve been hearing certain anti-YYY comments recently, from people claiming not to really see the point of them or not understanding why anyone would see them as being that ground-breaking. Now, anyone can not see the point of a good band, and a long spell in a re-education camp is usually of some help here, but the latter point is more interesting. I’m not convinced that it is always the job of bands to always be breaking new ground and pushing back the sonic frontiers, and I would never criticise any musicians for failing to do so. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs may indeed not be exploring new continents of sound, but they do what they do exceptionally well, playing to their musical strengths in a manner worthy of great praise. Few other bands have so successfully married strikingly charismatic vocals to such suavely persuasive music. I contend that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs delivered one of the very greatest performances the festival has yet seen.

Anyway, while I am on the subject of these un-named people who go on about how important musical development is, it was interesting to note how taken they were by the kind of derivative retro nonsense served up the following night by Devendra Banhart (of whom, unfortunately, more later).

There was a lot of going from one chalet to another after the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Eventually we ended up in the one that Donal and Emma were sharing with their charming friends Rachel and Liz. We played frisbee for a bit, badly, joined by a couple of random punters including some dude who was actually good at it. Eventually we repaired to the chalet and danced to Scooter, which led to an attack by rave zombies. In an unusual turn-up for the books, I found myself back in the Queen Vic (horrible Camber Sands “pub”), dancing away to whatever tunes the DJ was playing to us. This eventually finished, leaving me loafing around the playground while the sun came up. Dude. So I went for a walk around the perimeter and followed a rabbit home, being menaced by large dog on the way. Back in the chalet, my chalet mates were all asleep.

Pictures from Chocolate Socialist's picture collection... the broadband fairy has still not reached Carwash Mansions.