Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dog v. Rabbit

Dog chases rabbit into pond. Rabbit then escapes on dog's back:

In my life there are no rules

I ate lunch in Govinda's today, and had paneer with mixed veg, rice and dahl.

In the evening I had some soup and a cheese and pickle sandwich.

So - dinner at lunchtime, lunch at dinnertime - I'm just mad.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Finnish booty

I notice these blog things seem to sort by date in ascending rather than descending order. I bought these CDs at the Subcurrents concerts I discuss below. Reading the discussion of the concert might assist you with analysis of the records.

Kemialliset Ystavat "Alkuharka": More striking on record than live, perhaps, but this might be because I'm usually less tired when I listen to it.

Avarus "Jattilaisrotta": Not unlike their live performance... no vocals bar strange primal yelps, and music that lopes along in a manner unconnected with classical songwriting.

Islaja "Meritie": A solo record by the yellow dress woman, whose own music seems to lean towards the world of nice but strange vocals with sparse acoustic accompaniment.

v/a "Sleep Tight, no. 2 Under A Blanket Of Psych": I made the beloved buy this, because it has a track by Fursaxa, whom I wuv, on it. It is a compilation of stuff from people who make that kind of music. Amusingly, the track by Ms Fursaxa seems to be the same one I heard her perform at ATP last year. Or maybe she only has one song.

Rauhan Orkesterj "Hyppi Tunti" 7" : Haven't listened to this yet. I mean, come on - I only bought it five months ago.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Extreme Music Not From Finland

The Saturday night of the Subcurrents bash featured no Finnish acts. First up were Decaer Pinga v. Smack Music. These are actually two separate bands with members of one married to someone in the other. And they feature siblings, for full on sauce action. They seemed to be Scottish, or so sounded the woman who asked for the stage lights to be turned down. The combined bands' music was very BBC Radiophonics Workshopy, and very loud. Like a lot of bands of that ilk it was not immediately obvious where the various sounds they made were coming from. That is of course only a problem if you are aspiring to reproduce their music at home. Anyway, I thought these guys were great.

Cul De Sac were from America, and were not so good. OK, they seemed like amiable fellows with an endearing line in between song patter, but their music wasn't much cop. They were at their best when rocking out in an uninspired manner, but more typically their music seemed to be a mess of uncoordinated elements, made all the more annoying by their obvious skills in musicianship. Their last song showed a bit more togetherness and promise, so maybe one day greatness will fall upon them.

The wonderfully named Double Leopards seem to also come from the America. They shared stylistic elements with Decaer Pinga & Smack Music, being multi-gendered and making strange tone-generated music in a mysterious manner. They had an engaging "WOAAAH!" stage quality and generally projected a manner of living to art-rock. Their music seemed to be based on heavily treated vocals, as they all seemed to spend all their time screaming into microphones, with the output never the less sounding completely ab-human. Some did however feel that they started well and then trailed off, but I think that is a reactionary position.

In between sets, Double Leopards DJed in the CCA bar, playing stuff like 'TV Eye' and 'I Heard Her Call My Name'. ROCK.

Tony Conrad is some famous 20th century classical music guy. Tonight he was playing a violin, with the sound of his playing treated and looped to create a hypnotic wall of sound. And he played backlit, with his shadow projected up onto a sheet separating him from most of the audience. It was all very mesmerising and conducive to falling into a trance state. I've always been a great man for the dozing at classical music events, feeling that this allows the music to be appreciated directly by the subconscious. Here I managed to go into a full-blown snooze. That might make it sound like I did not like the music or performance of Mr Conrad, but he might well actually have been the highlight of the weekend.

The final act were Wolf Eyes. There were three of these fellows, and they kind of sounded like I imagined ARE Weapons would sound when I read about them first. They play rocky electonicsy stuff, and feature a hairy beardy guy on guitar, a hairy guy on vocals, and a baldy guy on keyboards. They were very loud and very "DUDE!", and I was glad to have brought the earplugs. However, by now we were a bit *tired*, so waited a polite interval and then made our excuses and left.

The CCA is on the west end of Sauciehall Street, and when we came out of the CCA there were a load of people milling around the slapper clubs that feature so prominently in that part of town. Thus we found ourselves face to face with the other, non-arty Glasgow - a Glasgow of short skirts, short tops, & short heads. God bless them. A future goal for these kind of art-rock festivals would be to incorporate the other Sauciehall Street into the show as some kind of aesthetic spectacle.

Extreme Music From Finland

I am a bit of a jet-setter. Back in April my beloved & I popped over to Glasgow to see some bands performing as part of this Subcurrents festival thing in the Centre for Contemporary Arts. We had mainly come over for the Finnish bands who were playing on the Friday. An article in the Wire had piqued our curiosity about the underground scene in that country, and this combined with a personal connection to one of the bands was enough to have us booking our flights. While we were at it, we also booked tickets for the Saturday night, when bands and artists not from Finland would be playing.

The festival's MC was one Dave Keenan, who writes for "The Wire". I always had the idea that "Wire" journos would be serious, restrained, chin-strokery types, but Mr Keenan turned out to be an excitable Scottish fellow who kept going on about how "psyched" he was by whatever was coming up next. He almost sounded like he was going to have kittens when he revealed that Fursaxa would be appearing with Finnish outfit Es, but this was as nothing to the quivering wreck he became when he introduced Tony Conrad on the Saturday night.

Kiila were the first band of Friday. There is an Irish band of tradders called Kila, but these are the ones from Finland. You could imagine them having a hoe-down with the Irish band, as they are both a bit folky. Kiila are maybe the more ambitious outfit, playing original compositions with a multi-layered sound. They featured a number of different singers (men and a woman) but one fellow with a beard gave the impression of being Mr Kiila. He pulled entertaining rock god faces while plucking at a mandolin. As their set went on it became more and more mesmerising and immersive.

Es featured a bloke who had already appeared with Kiila, whom I understand to be Mr Fonal, two Finnish women (one of whom is an internet friend) and Ms Fursaxa, who had played on her own the previous night. They all sat on the floor and did overlapping vocal stuff, with Mr Fonal generally doing lead and playing guitar. I think electronics might have been fiddled with, and also people did this strange thing of threading beads over a speaker. The latter created an odd effect, striking in both its prettiness and its randomness. Ms Fursaxa is an interesting presence, gnomic, self-contained, and unknowable.

I had a brief conversation with this guy on the Finnish bands' merchandising stall, thinking that this behemoth in an Acid Mothers Temple t-shirt must be some kind of roadie. He turned out to be Mr Avarus. His was the only one of the Finnish bands who were due to be playing in Dublin's popular club Lazybird two nights later. I mentioned how Lazybird is very popular with the kind of informed audience who like that kind of thing, but revealed that I had never actually made it to the club because I'm always too *tired* on Sunday nights. "Well it is being the strange night for having the club" said Mr Avarus.

In terms of actual performance, Avarus were the most ROCK outfit thus far, featuring a large line-up that included Mr Avarus on actual drums. Various other instruments were also played, and the woman from Kiila was joined by another with a yellow dress (and possibly others) to play the funny electronics and do vocal stuff. If Post-Rock was no longer a dirty word you might lump Avarus into that genre, with their improvy, slow building music that made their set seem like one continuous piece. Avarus featured no language-based vocals, but Mr Avarus and some of the women did deal out the occasional animalistic yelping noise, sometimes seemingly when the spirit moved them. If this is improvised music, I want more of it.

I did think maybe that Avarus are a bit of the tease, in that their music spent a long time suggesting that it was going to break into AMT-style insano guitar riff action without ever doing so. Nevertheless, it did develop a full-on wall of sound by the end. The hypnotic quality of the music meshed well with my tired state.

Kemialliset Ystavet were the last Finnish band of the night. By now I was quite *tired* indeed, so my notes are less than adequate, but I can reveal that KY (as the Finns seem to call them) have musical elements in common with the other Finnish bands, as well as certain differences. They also shared personnel with the other bands, notably the beardy fellow from Kiila and the yellow dress woman from Avarus. Beyond that I can say little about them, except that they brought me enjoyment.

Perhaps some brief generalisations about the Finnish bands are in order. They all seemed to like combining electric, electronic, and acoustic instruments, lending them an air of folkish technophilia. If they had a defining musical instruments, it probably would be beads allowed to drop over microphones, creating a random and thus unpredictable sound. When they sang using words, they weren't in English. I liked that, as I feel lyrics sung in a foreign language allow you to focus not on the narrative but on the musical sound. My new theory is therefore that all bands should sing in Ugaritic, except when performing in Ugariticland. Finally, for all their adventurousness, I was somewhat struck by the musical gender roles in the bands - the blokes almost completely monopolised traditional rock instruments like guitars and drums, while the ladies took control of things like violins or funny instruments.


I have decided to start a blog. I will probably fill it with long, dull reprints of stuff I have written for Frank's APA, a zine.