Saturday, March 31, 2012

When Cats Fall

Great interest was excited by Sugar, the Boston cat who survived a 19 storey fall from her home. The BBC has looked into the question of how she managed to survive this great fall and whether cats generally are resilient to drops from great heights. This appears to be a matter to which scientists have applied some attention. Unfortunately, moral squeamishness and possible public relations issues have prevented this important matter from being investigated by throwing a series of cats from ever higher windows. Instead they have had to rely on statistical evidence from emergency vet surgeries in cities with high windows from which cats can fall.

What is striking is how high it is possible for cats to fall without suffering fatal injury. Sugar seems not to be the record holder in this regard – while she fell 19 storeys onto grass and mulch, another cat fell a staggering 32 storeys onto concrete but survived with only a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung. The statistics from the vets revealed that 90% of falling cats survived, with only 37% needing emergency treatment to save their lives.

The reason for the cats' survival is simple enough. The animals evolved to live in trees, where the occasional fall is going to be a fact of life. Their bodies are designed to slow their rate of descent and then to cushion them on impact with the ground. So a fall that would definitely kill you or me leaves them with a good chance of survival.

But before you start sending your own cat out on a skyscraper ledge, perhaps to start hanging onto the hands of a clock or suchlike, beware. Scientists report that cats like Sugar are very lucky to survive such a fall and that many suffer terrible injuries from their unplanned descents. Even those statistics of a 90% survival rate are not as good as they look – they do not include the cats who were immediately killed on impact, and they may not include those cats who were injured so badly that they were taken to a vet to be euthanased. And the figure for "survival" may mask cats who lived on after their fall but who suffered horrendous life-changing injuries. As Dr Jake Socha is quoted as saying at the end of the article: "The lessons learned: screens, please, on the windows".

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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Murder Castle

Rick Geary
The Beast of Chicago (2003)

This is not a record, it is a book. And it is a book with pictures in it – a comic book, from a series entitled A Treasury of Victorian Murder. And it is about H. H. Holmes, an American mass murderer who may have killed as many as 200 people in one year. Maybe I should stop talking about it now so that people do not think I am the kind of weirdo who goes on about serial killers.

image source

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

jihad

Muslimgauze
Mussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gass (1999)

The Gauze ought to be the greatest band ever, with their mix of electronic stuff, vaguely Arab traditional instrumentation, and radical Islamist sloganeering, but they end up sounding rather dull and unexciting. Fortunately Mr Gauze is no longer with us, so I will not have to fear his retribution for saying this, though armies of jihadis are no doubt already plotting my doom.

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Pandagauze

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cor blimey mate, get a butchers at those curtains!

I was in London recently, where everyone talks like that. I did surprisingly little of a musical nature. Well, I met some friends in a café and had the recurring conversation about how I really ought to engage with the music of Steely Dan sometime. I visited some record shops but nothing caught my fancy and I was conscious of having a mountain of new music to try and absorb, so buying anything else was a bit less than appealing.

But I did follow an old friend and quaffing partner to a concert event in Islington. I resolved to follow him to this event, which was taking place in the upstairs room of a swanky enough pub similar enough to that Lexington place where we saw Oneida. When I arrived, Kat Flint was just starting. She was something of a folkie and played an endearing version of modern folkie music, with other musicians. If you like that kind of thing she would be worth investigating.

Then we saw The Unrecorded. They were interestingly experimental but not in a way that stopped them being immediately appealing. They included bass playing (with impressively threatening lines) as well as a variety of synthy keyboards and stuff. And drums. And they had a woman doing vocals who was doing that sampling herself and singing over it thing. It felt a bit like Fursaxa fronting an experimental rock band, which would obviously be the best thing ever. The self-sampling made for an endearingly avant-garde quality, while having a load of musicans there as well stopped things falling into that predictable self-sampling pattern of doing a succession of songs that simply build and build in complexity.

As well as their own songs, The Unrecorded did a couple of covers – some folkie tune called 'In the bleak midwinter', a song called 'the deep blue sea' (or maybe it was by a band called the Deep Blue Sea, I am so out of touch with today's hip sounds) and a Radiohead cover (wait, come back!). But the overall effect was very impressive and I recommend them to anyone who likes interesting music.

They have a website.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lucky Cat Survives 19 Storey Fall

Silly cat Sugar managed to fall out of a window on the 19th storey of a Boston, Massachusetts building, tumbling somewhere between 45 and 60 metres to the ground. And she survived with no broken bones or cuts from the fall, with some bruising being her only injuries. The Animal Rescue League treated Sugar after her fall, reporting that cats spread out their limbs like flying squirrels when they fall, which can turn them into a feline parachute and slow down their descent. Even so, Sugar's survival is something of a miracle and her owner has installed a screen on the window from which the cat fell.

More

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Alone in the Dark Wood

Fursaxa
Alone In The Dark Wood (2007)

Ms Fursaxa is an interesting purveyor of strange music that manages to surf on the borders of psych, folk, avant-garde improv, and much much more. I saw her once at ATP and thought she was amazing, for all that I only caught her last song. It was one of those things where the artist builds a song by doing something, sampling it, then playing over the sample, sampling that, and so on. She seemed to do this far more impressively than the various chancers I have seen replicate the trick since then. This record is enjoyable enough, but I think she is maybe best appreciated live. She has a certain presence that lends a ritualised quality to the creation of her music, like she is some kind of hierophant working spells before us. But I will still listen to and enjoy this record. It too has its magic to work.

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Beaver Trap Plans Abandoned

Beavers became extinct in these islands some time ago but are now living wild in Scotland once more. There was a limited official programme to reintroduce them but many more have escaped from private collections – with speculation suggesting that some people may have deliberately released the dam building rodents without authorisation. This has predictably led to moaning from the kind of landowners who moan about things, and the Scottish government began to draw up plans to round up the rogue beavers. This programme has now been abandoned – the beavers would have been very difficult to round up and a programme to exterminate them would not have played well with the public.

There are now apparently some 300 feral beavers in Scotland. They are expected to spread over the southern and western Highlands, possibly making incursions into northern England. Beavers are understood to have positive impacts on the environments in which they live, though they may compete with anglers over fish stocks.

The unauthorised reintroduction of vanished animals to these islands seems to be a bit of a thing at the moment. As well as the beavers, wild boar populations have returned to Ireland and England. Now there is also talk of reintroducing the lynx and the wolf to Scotland, something that will strike fear into some and excite the imaginations of others.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bears Discover Tools

Bears are well known for being large, fierce animals. It seems now that they might also be surprisingly intelligent. A brown bear in Alaska was seen recently picking up a stone and scratching itself with it, revealing that rudimentary tool use is possible for these animals. In some respects this is not completely surprising, as bears have quite large brains for their body size. However, they are relatively solitary and it had been thought that it was only social animals (like chimps, humans, or New Caledonian crows) who would have their intelligence boosted such that they would start messing about with tools.

At the moment it is not known whether this particular bear is the first ever to use a tool, or if it is merely engaging in behaviour that is not uncommon but not previously observed. Reports that the bear in question is training other bears and building a wooden town with human-sized cages have been hurriedly denied by members of the scientific community.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Little Blue Penguins – Very Small But Very Fierce

The Little Blue Penguins of New Zealand may be small, and they may look like cute little fellows, but it turns out the males are all very fierce. The territorial birds are forever laying into each other and inflicting terrible injuries in an effort to gain status and impress the lady penguins.

Here a male Little Blue Penguin shows off to his mate after winning a fight.

The Little Blues also learn which of their fellows are the most fierce and are careful not to try fighting a penguin who could peck the shite out of them.

More on this important story

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2011: My favourite new tunes

Why look! It is a listing of my favourite new tunes from 2011. New-to-me, that is.

Black Mountain Transmitter Black Goat of the Woods [start]
From Black Goat of the Woods (2009)

The beginning of this mysterious Irish record.

Nico Ari's Song
From The Marble Index (1969)

A track from Nico's first properly spooky solo album.

Bo Hansson The Old Forest and Tom Bombadil
From The Lord of the Rings (1970)

A rare reference to Tom Bombadil in something adapted from the Tolkien classic.

Leonard Cohen The Partisan
From Greatest Hits (1975)

Laughing Len covers a Second World War resistance tune.

Richard Thompson Bonnie St. Johnstone
From 1000 Years of Popular Music [live version] (2006)

Richard Thompson has described this as a "Bad mother" tune, perhaps missing the point that it is not wickedness but desperation that makes a woman act like this; to me the song is more akin to 'The Well Below The Valley' by Planxty.
St. Johnstone is another name for Stirling or Edinburgh or somewhere else in Scotland.

The Dewara Family Folk Song
From Seb Bassleer's recordings of Rajasthani street music (2008)

Robert Wyatt Sea Song
From Rock Bottom (1974), Wyatt's first solo album.

Beny Moré Yiriyirbon
From The Essential Beny Moré (a 2006 compilation released decades after the Cuban sensation's death).

Blue Öyster Cult Career of Evil
From Secret Treaties (1974)

Tom Tom Club On, On, On, On…
From the first album by the Tom Tom Club (1982)

Dean & Britta I'll Keep It With Mine
From 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol Screen Tests (2010), an album of music to accompany Andy Warhol screen tests. This was for Nico's.

Luke Haines Inside the Restless Mind of Rollerball Rocco
From 9½ Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and Early '80s (2011)

This almost did not make it onto the disc, but now I think it is one of the best things here.

Ween The Stallion Part 2
Ween Your Party
Both from Thom's Ween TOAD (2011). 'The Stallion' is originally from All Request Live in 2003, while 'Your Party' appeared first on La Cucaracha (2008)

I was thinking of including 'Piss Up A Rope', but there is an outside chance my niece might end up hearing this.

Richard Thompson Oops… I Did It Again
From 1000 Years of Popular Music [live version] (2006)

The crowd are approaching this as a piece of novelty cover version fluff, but Thompson sings it like it is one of his own dark love songs.

Jane Weaver Turning In Circles
Jane Weaver Hud A Llefrith

Both from The Fallen By Watch Bird (2010). These are by no means the only two good songs on this sensational album, and they may not even be the best ones.

Mount Vernon Arts Lab The Black Drop
From The Séance at Hobs Lane (2007)

Featuring Isobel Campbell on cello.

Broadcast & The Focus Group We Are After All Here
From Broadcast & The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (2009)

Magnet Festival / Mirie It Is / Summer is A-comen In
From The Wicker Man (1973)

Warning, features invocation of a deity.

Black Mountain Transmitter Black Goat of the Woods [end]
Another except of the 2009 album.


As always, I will make a copy of this CD-R for anyone that wants it, and I promise to take less time to send it out than I did with my 2010 discs.


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Are these yours, sir?

More record reviews. Brace yourselves.

Belbury Poly
From an Ancient Star (2009)
The Focus Group
Sketches and Spells (2005)

And what have we here? Why, it is a veritable Ghost Box corner. For these are two records released on that popular label, acquired by as part of the insane festival of rampant consumerism that occurs in the run up to Christmas. For those of you who are not as cool as me, Ghost Box are that label who do music that has acquired that "hauntology" genre name from those people who like to invent genres.

These two records are a bit different. The Belbury Poly chap is mostly synthy music, sounding like they are trying to recreate the instrumental interludes on a late 1970s schools and colleges programme, only obviously with pieces that go on for more than 30 seconds. As has of course been noted elsewhere, Mr Poly is recreating the sound of analogue synthesisers on a digital computer programme – oh the irony. One slight disappointment with this is that despite the cover (atmospheric shot of a star shining through a stone circle, Children of the Stones style) and the title, the record is not particularly spooky. People call this music hauntological (don't they?), and while it is haunted by the past, the haunting is not very threatening.

The Focus Group record, meanwhile, would in broad outline not surprise anyone who has heard the record they did with Broadcast, excepting of course that it does not feature Trish Keenan vocals. For the rest of you I can reveal that it features lots of fragmentary music that sounds strangely evocative of the lost world of the past, sometimes drifting off into vaguely Wicker Man territory and so on.

Both of these records are enjoyable and I can see myself getting much pleasure from listening to them again, but I think maybe my affair with this record label is coming to an end. Fascinating as these records are, I reckon I get the idea with both of these artists now and would derive very limited marginal utility from additional records by them. So that might be it for me and Ghost Box.

Panda Poly

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Martha Marcy May Marlene"

This interesting film concerns a woman called Martha who has just left a weirdo hippy cult where she went by the name Marcy May and where she had to give the name Marlene when answering the phone. It begins with her leaving the cult's communal home out in the American countryside somewhere, then following her as she moves in with the sister she has not seen in years (and the sister's husband, who is increasingly annoyed by this fruitloop sister-in-law he has never previously met). Martha acts very strangely with her sister, clearly traumatised by her past; in flashback we see what was so traumatic about her life in the cult. As is the way of these kind of sinister cults, it boasts a charismatic leader (well played by John Hawkes, previously seen in Winder's Bone) who predates sexually on the group's women members, with Martha both being one of his victims and, later, complicit in facilitating his predation.

This is an impressive film, driven by strong performances not just by Katherine Olsen (in the demanding role of Martha) but by all the actors. It is technically well made and looks very appealing. And it uses music very well, both ominous incidental music and a charming yet worrying piece sung by the cult-leader to Martha.

But the film does have problems. For one thing, Martha seemed a bit more affected by her time in the cult than would seem to me realistic. It is established that she went into it as an adult and has only spent two years there, but in that two years she seems to have completely forgotten the kind of normal socialisation that we go through in the course of our upbringing. I know cults, particularly fictional cults, are great at the brainwashing, but this seemed a bit extreme. I also found the ending a bit abrupt – so abrupt that I was not sure if I had blinked and missed something really important.

cult panda

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Otter Invades Restaurant

Otters are well known for their fondness for fish. They usually hunt for fish in rivers and occasionally coastal sea water, but young female otter Linnhe caused astonishment when she arrived in a seafood restaurant in Fort William. It is not known whether the gourmande otter had developed a taste for fine dining.

Atypical otter behaviour seems to be increasingly common in that part of Scotland. A few days before Linnhe's trip to the restaurant another young otter, this time a male named Roy, was found in a post office in the nearby town of Caol, where he was trying to buy some stamps.

They are both now being cared for in the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife until they can be released back into the wild.

More

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Nightmare Before Christmas 2011 – Slight Return

I realise now that in my previous post I forgot to mention a few things about the Nightmare Before Christmas thing I went to (before Christmas). And OK, maybe the things I forgot were not actually worth remembering, but they are back in my mind now so I had better put them in yours. So let me tell you about two more bands.
Bitch Magnet play somewhat rocktastic movement, but the name is rather offset by their looking like they work for Google (my beloved came up with this quip, I think, unless you find it offensive in which case I suppose I had better take responsibility for it). So they end up being a bit comedic. Wild Flag, meanwhile, are the band Carrie Brownstein formed after she left Sleater-Kinney. I gather they include a load of people from various other bands. Wild Flag maybe do not break the most amazing new ground, but they do their indie punk rock thing well. And Brownstein is always entertaining as a rock animal guitarist – and as someone who is not intimidated by strong women rocking out I feel obliged to lend this band a degree of support.

We also saw Gary Numan who was surprisingly entertaining. He seems now to be playing up the Goth side of his persona. He seems very comfortable on stage and was able to bathe us in sinister electronic and guitar sound. Those of us who perhaps expected some sad washed-up has-been were pleasantly surprised. He also was able to do that non-tarty older artist thing of playing his big hit ('Are "friends" electric?', obv.) but in a radically different way to its original recorded appearance. So top marks to Gary Numan.

The most fun thing I saw on TV and forgot to mention last time was a documentary about Chuck Berry. The film-makers largely ignored the various perv allegations that have been levelled against Mr Berry, but we didn't – we basically took it for granted when watching that whenever we could not see him below the waist he was "having a sandwich", there and then, as it were. This was hilarious, in a you-had-to-be-there kind of way.

Panda Magnet

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Luke Haines live again

As part of my general love for all things Luke Haines, I went to see him again in January. This time round he was playing on his own in Whelans. I went on my own – my usual friends were too busy sitting in a pub talking about books. However, I unexpectedly met another friend there, who had wandered along with someone else to check out Mr Hate. The concert format this time was that Haines was on his own on a bare stage with none of the fancy costumes or projected images we had at the North Sea Scrolls event. Haines instead played songs and read from his books.

I would have to say that I did not really enjoy this as much as the North Sea Scrolls event (or indeed the concert at which I first saw Old Haines a couple of years back, also in Whelans). Partly it was a bit short – and to me the shortness seemed a bit needless, for this was a Sunday night and the venue was not trying to hurry events along so that they could start up an indie disco. And the event was not badly attended, so it's not like a demoralised Haines cut the gig short so he could slink off and cry into his pint.

The other not great thing about it all was the reading from the books. Now, in theory this should have been great – Haines is an amusing raconteur and the stories he has in his books are fascinating, but at the end of the day it is easy enough to just go and read the bloody books (or to acquire the audiobooks, read by one Mr Luke Haines). When I saw him first he treated us to anecdotes about the songs he was playing, and in a concert performance that is more what you want than accounts of the time Metallica came to his flat.

What music there was was however excellent. The wrestling tunes took on a new lease of life and seemed to work far better in the stripped-down live format than on record. Everything else was great too, with 'Bad Reputation' (his nasty song about Gary Glitter) packing a considerable bite. What was particularly fascinating was the tune that got the biggest recognition applause – 'Lenny Valentino', from the second Auteurs album. In retrospect, was that the Auteurs hit?

When the concert was over, I made my way home past the hellhole that is the Palace on Camden Street. A DJ was playing 'Rock and Roll Part 2', the Gary Glitter classic. I imagined Luke Haines, the creator of the song 'Bad Reputation', smiling away to himself.

That's enough Luke Haines for now, but I can once again remind readers that I have ready compiled a CD-R introduction to the man's music (for which there is no commercially available compilation or introduction). If anyone wants a copy, drop me a line. If you are the holder of copyright in the music of Luke Haines then I beg to inform you that this paragraph is entirely fanciful.

Panda Valentino

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Palestine's A Country

The Unthanks
The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons, Live from the Union Chapel (Diversions Vol. 1) (2011)

This is more or less the same set as when we saw the Unthanks before Christmas. So maybe just read my review of that. One problem with this kind of live album is that you get a sense of how the band tell the same anecdotes every time they play a particular song, revealing the artifice of the performance process. Listening to this again, I still prefer the Wyatt tunes to those by Mr Antony. I am not sure if this is racism on my part or just an ear for superior songwriting.

Ruth is stranger than Panda

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

And Now I Post About An Album About Wrestling

Luke Haines
9½ Psychedelic Meditation on British Wrestling of the 1970s and early '80s (2011)

Yes, Luke Haines has released a concept album about British wrestling. I think I would get more out of this if I was more familiar with the subject. I am old enough to remember the people these songs are about, but I had very little interest in the subject so it's all a bit mysterious to me. For the benefit of younger or American readers, British wrestling is a bit less comedic than American wrestling, but my impression is that the games were equally scripted. Whenever I saw wrestling on the TV it would feature a load of chubby blokes laying into each other while an audience of grannies bayed for them to tear each other apart.

The subject does make for the kind of bizarro 70s Britain subject matter that Haines loves, but I am far less interested in this than in, say, 1970s West German terrorism. I therefore find this record a bit hard to get to grips with. I also suspect that maybe, just maybe, the songs here are not as good as on other recent Haines records. The production might also be a bit unexciting.

image source (includes further reviews of interesting stuff, including a record by Matt Berry)

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Monday, March 05, 2012

That "lady" is my mother!

Record reviews – they are a bit boring, aren't they?* But if I throw out a load of reviews of records I have semi-listened to it is a great way of generating Inuit Panda posts for the next number of days. So let's go.

Robert Wyatt
Rock Bottom (1974)

Tower are doing these nice limited edition reissues of Robert Wyatt albums on vinyl that come with a little CD version of the thing – ideal for people like me who are plagued by format indecision. This is my first album by the former Soft Machine star, and it was also his first solo album, recorded not too long after the accident that made him wheelchair bound. There is a lovely quality to Wyatt's voice – a kind of weedy yet strong character – that goes well with his odd songwriting. Some of this sounds very strange indeed, but the opener ('Sea Song') is a charmingly affecting love song that might well actually be about Wyatt's lovely wife.

Rock Panda

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*Reader's Voice: "The way you write them, yes".

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Nightmare Before Christmas 2011

And I went to Christmas ATP – or the Nightmare Before Christmas, as they like to call it. This was the one curated by Battles, Les Savy Fav, and Caribou. I was staying in a chalet full of anarchists. And my beloved. And the ladyfriend of one of the anarchists.

As always there was some great TV on. One programme we liked was Garth Marenghi's Dark Place. This is a 1980s hospital drama written by and starring the well-known horror writer Garth Marenghi. He plays a doctor in a hospital, which then starts being taken over by all kinds of occult phenomena. I would not recommend it to the easily terrified.

More suitable for a general audience was a documentary we caught on Donk, the popular musical phenomenon in the north of England. This featured a floppy fringed southern softie going up north to explore the world of Donk, meeting such people as the chaps who created the 'Put A Donk On It' tune. This kind of thing writes itself, really.

The last few minutes of Zardozlooked completely bananas. But I started wondering whether it might just be that this film is bananas in a good way. It was also filmed in the Wicklow mountains, so it all looked oddly familiar. Men running around in mankinis – it is not unusual up there. Future investigation (of the film) may be required.

The best thing I saw was in the ATP cinema, the film Deutschland in Herbst*. This was made after the so-called German Autumn of 1977, which saw a leading German industrialist abducted and murdered by the RAF, the highjacking of a Lufthansa jet to Mogadishu and the rescuing of the hostages by German commandos, and the suicide of the original core of the RAF in Stammheim prison**. A number of different directors worked on it and the film features a combination of reused news footage and newly filmed scenes relevant to the subject at hand. One of the more entertaining of the new sequences was by famous crazy director Rainer Maria Fassbinder, which largely featured him and his fancyman Armin. Fassbinder determined to disprove the generalisation that homosexuals all have great dress sense and know how to look after themselves. He spent a lot of time arguing with Armin, also not the world's most handsome man, so much so that I wondered why they stayed together. Then we had some scenes of them wandering around in the nip, and it became very clear what exactly Armin was bringing to the table.

There was a lot more to the film – stuff about Germany at an odd point of its history – but that kind of stuck in my mind.

Oh yeah, music. There was some of that. The big star for us was the Syrian dabke sensation Omar Souleyman. Everyone went completely mental for him and so we had one of the best ATP times ever. He is a fascinating showman – adept at working a crowd yet lacking in the kind of fist in the air histrionics that western rockers would go with. If anything, he is surprisingly static, working the crowd with the slightest of gestures.

DJ Katoman
Nisennenmondai were an interesting Japanese three piece. All women, I think, but they had a man called DJ Catoman with them to sell merchandise and then to DJ later in Crazy Horse. He was playing early 1980s cheese and I was enjoying it so much that my beloved had to almost drag me away to see Urban Resistance, who were surprisingly funky and entertaining with their occasional Kraftwerk nods.

Of the headliners I sadly managed to miss Les Savy Fav through being tired (not *tired*). But I did see the early afternoon performances from Battles (chunka chunka chunka) and Caribou. Both were great. Battles are like what happens when hipsters get it right, while Caribou are still an intriguing mix of styles best appreciated live, especially given the visual spectacle provided by their two drummers.

Sunday at ATP turned into Jazz Sunday, which was nice. On the bill we had The Ex playing with Ethiopian sensation Getatchew Mekuria, with some other brass players assisting the Negus in bringing us the jazz. The young lad the Ex have as their new lead singer seems to have really grown into the role, finding his feet and coming out from the shadow of the old guy he replaced. He jumps around the stage like a little tot moppet and then plays brass on the songs that do not require vocals. The new bass player with the Ex is also delightful, having the kind of face that suggests a man who has lived life.

We also liked old jazzer Pharaoh Sanders (sadly not joined by anyone playing on their organ, or someone running their fingers over a pink oboe, etc. etc. God I am so mature), but the real jazz action for me was with the Sun Ra Arkestra. I had somewhat forgotten how great they are and drifted along to them with a slight sense of "yeah whatever", only to blown away by their space jazz action. I like it.
Sun Ra Arkestra
I cannot remember anything else I saw and time constraints mean that I am unable to tell you about the CD-R swap or the fascinating literary periodicals being sold at the event.

*Germany in Autumn, for those less attuned to the ways of our fiscally prudent overlords.

** But was it suicide? blah blah etc

see also

Darkplace image source

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Friday, March 02, 2012

This is so LA

L.A. Vampires (feat. Matrix Metals*)
So Unreal (2010)

LA Vampires feature the one of Pocahaunted that did not go on to be in Best Coast, together with Mr Her Husband. Because I am ineffectually obsessed by Pocahaunted, I picked this up when I recently visited Mono in Glasgow. But it does not sound like the kind of weirdo semi-tribal music that one associates with Pocahaunted** – rather it is like an avant garde version of shit 1980s music, only not so avant garde that it does not still sound shit.

[On subsequent listens I am maybe starting to get this record, but I am still pleased with that previous dismissal of it. Some of the tracks have a strangely languid quality, for all the lamer 80s synth sounds, and the vocals sound unusually hypnotic. But whatever.]

*I have no idea who or what Matrix Metals are. Should I?

**Is there something a bit racist/orientalist/something-ist about a band of middle class people from Los Angeles making music described as "tribal"?

image source

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Are You Amphibious?

Drexciya
The Quest (1990s)

From a friend comes a burn of this collection of stuff by the popular Underground Resistance act. To fill in readers who did not read the recent Wire article, Drexciya make (or made) Detroit techno and posit a kind of mystical occult history about Africans who escaped slavery in the USA by jumping overboard from slave ships and learning how to swim and evolving gills and stuff like that. It is important to have an angle, after all, and I have always been a sucker for bands who base their stuff around made-up mythology.

The music is quite funky. For some reason I had the idea that UR music was all chin-strokey and a bit sterile, but you could really imagine dancing away to this if you were off your nuts. Which is a good thing, obviously.

A different Wire article about Drexciya to the one mentioned above

Panda Resistance

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