Friday, October 31, 2008

The Final Countdown, Part 4: Some Product

I have been talking about the emotional last ever meetup of the Bowlie Forum. Previous episode

They were giving away a record to all Final Countdown attendees, a 10' featuring two tracks each by Wintergreen and the Gresham Flyers, with each band contributing one original song and one cover. I liked the covers here more, partly for their bold audacity. The Gresham Flyers' cover starts off sounding like a Kinks album track, but then turns into 'Are "Friends" Electric?', with Sharon on robotic Gary Numan vocals. This storms. Wintergreen, meanwhile, play some 'Somewhere In The Night' (some tune by Smog), only with the track retuned so that it becomes an electropop anthem. Apparently this is the only recorded track from a proposed concept album of electropop covers of songs from some doomy Smog album. That said, 'Somewhere In The Night' still sounds like the doomy miserable end of electropop.

I also picked up a copy of the Gresham Flyers album, Sex With Strangers. It is quite a strong collection, with tracks that have really wormed their way into my consciousness, 'Shiftwork' in particular. I like the use of several different vocalists on the tunes, being a sucker for that kind of thing.

Remind me again, are the Gresham Flyers named after a breed of chickens? Or is that just the Buff Medways?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

No turning back

So yeah, I have registered for that write a novel in a month thing, so there's no turning back. My novel will be something of a cross between the Illuminatus! trilogy and A Confederacy of Dunces

The Final Countdown, Part 3: More Bands

I am writing about bands I saw at The Final Countdown, the last ever meetup of the Bowlie Forum. Last episode here

Back in July, I met one of the event organisers, and he was talking about the bands who were going to be playing.

"We've got The Deirdres playing," he said. "They don't really have any link to the Bowlie Forum, but I reckon people will like them. They are basically a load of teenage girls who jump around and shout a lot".

"Something for the dads", I thought.

As it happened, the Deirdres had a few blokes in their line-up, but the girls are a bit more noticeable. They were very much the kind of band who jump around and shout. They also like to stop playing and have somewhat staged arguments on (er) stage. And they do formation dancing and stuff. So yeah, a lot of fun, from the ker-aazzzy let's-put-the-show-on-right-here end of indie. Good live, maybe not worth bothering with on record. Also, I am still unclear whether they are The Deirdres or the Deidres.

The last act was The Hermit Crabs. Despite their superstar line-up, they didn't really do it for me, maybe because I was getting a bit *tired*, though I liked the songs that had that Spaghetti Western sound.

I stayed for a bit of the DJing, but got tired fairly quickly (having flown in from Addis Ababa the day before) and was suffering from having eaten the world's worst falafel as dinner. So we went back to our hotel, but not before hearing Thom Gresham Flyer play 'Live is Life' by Opus. I was struck by how similar the intro is to LAIBACH's 'Opus Dei' (as in, I reckon one samples the other). It is strange, though, that this is the second Bowlie meetup I've been to where someone has played that Opus track. I'm not sure what has made it so popular.

Next episode: stuff about the totally awesome records I picked up at this event

I would like to have a link from here off to what I have written about my time in Ethiopia, but I haven't written anything yet. Oh well.

Image source

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Final Countdown, Part 2: Bands

I am discussing the last ever meetup of the Bowlie Forum, back in August. Awesome. See part 1 here

The first band was The Gresham Flyers. It was something of a relief that they weren't rubbish, as their bassist Thom is one of my Frank's APA pals, and interaction could otherwise have become a bit difficult. So yes, they were better than bad – they were good! If I were going to play the genre classification game then I reckon I would call their music motorik indie. In fact, yes, the idea of their playing on the same bill as Hawkwind (as apparently once almost happened) would not be completely ridiculous.
there was also DJing between the bands

Wintergreen are almost like the official house band of the Bowlie Forum, featuring so many Bowlies in their line-up that it is a wonder that I have never joined them on glass finger guitar. They are nevertheless a bit less indie and a bit more muso-y than a great many of the Bowlie forum members. Such is life in the vanguard. I thought maybe that tonight they did not really deliver on their ambition, but then, as they admitted, this was their first live outing of the year. Their last track was a stormer though, one of those everything happening at once tunes. I wish I knew what it was called, so that I could try and find it on a record. Obviously, I could just ask some of the people in the band, given that several of them are my Facefriends, but that would be cheating.

Next up was Pete Green. He is this amiable fellow who plays acoustic guitar with two other guys on bass and drums, playing music that hovers on the cusp of indie and singer-songwritery stuff. He is often compared to M.J. Hibbett. I can see where this comes from, but Pete Green is a likeable fellow and not in the least a smartarse. For all that, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this guy's performance. It seems very much like the kind of music I don't like, except that on this occasion I ended up having to say – I like it! In fact, I reckon Pete Green was the find of the evening, with his quirky tunes boasting actual humour and endearing self-deprecation. See him now before fame goes to his head.

More Final Countdown action tomorrow (or at some other point in the future), with the next post featuring GIRLS

image source

Another Unachievable Goal?

I was going to sign up for NaNoWriMo, this thing where you have to write a novel of something like 50,000 words in a month, that month being November. Piece of piss, I thought. All I would need to do is write 1,000 words every week day, and 3,000 words each day of the weekend (I may not have the sums right here, but you get the idea). No problem.

With the start of November only a few days a way, I am getting a bit more wary of this. Maybe I should spend an evening sketching out some plot points first. Or not bother.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A vital question

Seriously guys, what is the point of that Kindle thing and all those other stupid book reading tech gadgets? What's wrong with just, you know, reading a book?

Comics Roundup 26/10/2008

Criminal #6, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

This crime title has become one of my favourites lately, with its consistently excellent writing and atmospheric art. This issue, though, represents a new peak, and feels like one of the greatest comics issues I have ever read. This is the third part of a story focussing on this cartoonist and ex-forger who has found himself mixed up with the kind of shady lady anyone with sense would run a mile from. They have a body on their hands that needs to be disposed of, they get rid of it, everything seems grand. And then the main character is hit by not one but my two whammies.

The sequential form of the floppy suits well this kind of title. The story unfolds gradually, leaving the reader on tenterhooks till the next issue. A month-long wait heightens the suspense, know what I mean?

Unknown Soldier #1, by Joshua Dysart & Alberto Ponticelli

This is a revival of some old DC character I've never heard of, but I think they've given him a new set of clothes, and the story seems to work even if the character is a complete novelty. The title is, at least for this issue, set in northern Uganda, and it gains a lot by being set in a real part of a real country, rather than in some fictional African makey-uppey place. One of the worst things about the way the media and culture deal with Africa is the tendency to merge the entire continent into one amorphous hell-hole, missing the fact that African countries are very different from each other. The title must also be praised for not having a reader-identification whitey hero, with the main character instead being a Ugandan-American character.

The actual story seems to be about this doctor bloke working in a camp for people displaced by the insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army (one of the world's great scary organisations). He finds, though, that he has some weird stuff going on in his subconscious, like as if he instinctively knows how to kill (with his bare hands, or anything that comes handy) in a way uncommon among graduates of the Harvard Medical School.

I'm not quite sure where this is going to go – I have fears it could turn into a one-man-takes-on-the-scum, Deathwish-in-Africa piece of nonsense, but for the moment there seems like interesting stuff going on here, so I will be back. I should mention the art too, as I like it a lot. It is very expressive, and has a kinetic quality that works well in the action sequences.

One final thing about this is the way it is written by someone who isn't actually from Uganda. It's almost like he went on a holiday to this fascinating country and then decided that he had to write about it. Maybe there should be more of this kind of thing.

The Age of THE SENTRY #1

So I went back in time to buy the first issue of this thrill-powered title. This is appropriate, as in one of the two stories here, Scout, Lindy Lee, and Watchdog travel back in time to when The Sentry gained his powers (in a complicated attempt to revitalise him after Cranio (the man with the tri-level mind) had used Gorax to deprive him of his powers). The second story also sees The Sentry rendered powerless, as The Mad Thinker and The Tinkererer drain his abilities away under cover of making him record public information films. It would only be fair to say that this issue is not as good as the second issue, but it's nice to see a title on an upward curve, and there is still plenty of thrill power here.

Freak Show: a One Shot Special, by Rob Curley & Bob Byrne
Freak Show is an ongoing title written by Rob Curley and drawn by various other people. |t tends to have striking covers usually referencing some aspect of 1950s Americana, often with a Hollywood tinge. I've never read any of it before. I picked this up in Tower as a taster, as they were giving it away as part of some Free Comics Day event. The set up seems to be that the characters are these slightly outsider-ish people in 1950s Los Angeles who investigate weird stuff. I don't know what the normal issues of it are like, but this was a bit slight. I wasn't really that convinced by the ironic Scooby Doo pastiche set up of this either. So I don't know, maybe the normal issues would be worth looking at, or maybe they would not. What do you think, readers?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sodom Tonight

The other day I went to see Gomorra - you know, that film about the Neapolitan Mafia ("mess with our ice cream? Then you die") based on the book by that guy who has had to flee Italy. I won't say too much about here at this juncture, apart from recommending it to people who like films. While not a tricksy visual film, it does have some stunning visual images in it, and does make running around on beaches in your kecks firing machine guns look like a valid life-style choice.

It does maybe suffer from the fundamental problem with films about gangsters - because its subjects are mostly so loathsome it is a bit difficult to have any empathy for them. On the other hand, most of them die by the end of the film (or will be dead in a couple of years time), so it is somewhat uplifting.

Oh yeah, don't do image searches for "Gomorra" while at work.

image source

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hamsters are dangerous

The Guardian's Emine Saner reports that keeping cats and dogs has many health benefits. They apparently lower your stress levels, may detect whether or not you have cancerous growths inside you, boost your immune system, and assist those otherwise prone to depression. Hamsters, though, are dangerous, but in a manner that the Guardian chooses to leave unexplained. Be very careful around hamsters.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Do You Want Total War?

I mentioned previously that Britain's red squirrels seem to be developing immunity to the plague with which grey squirrels have been infecting them. Now grey squirrels are facing another danger. The Observer reports the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership, a human paramilitary group, has declared uncompromising war on the greys, initiating a campaign of total extermination against them. As the name of this organisation suggests, the RSPP are declared allies of the red squirrels.

Grey squirrels are not taking this threat lying down. "We have tried peaceful coexistence with humans", said a grey squirrel commander (pictured). "That failed. They have also rejected our proposals for negotiation and continue to target our nut stocks. Very well. If humans want war, they can have it".

The squirrel commander refused to be drawn on what response the grey squirrels are planning to the new human threat.

Pictures from Guardian/Observer front page.

Comics Roundup 17/10/2008

Air #3, by G. Willow Wilson & M.K. Perker

I was saying last time that this seemed to maybe have become a bit less interesting than the first issue suggested. I think they recovered well with this one, which features such exciting things as psychic travel and making countries disappear through the power of thought. I continue to like the angularity of the art.

The Age of THE SENTRY #2

Normally I give as authors of a comic whoever gets their name on the cover. There are no names here (apart from a guy who has signed half of the cover illustration), while the interior stories have different writer-artist teams on each. So it is all a bit complicated.

Anyway, I bought this comic because on the cover it has a Very Fierce Bear running rampage. He turns out to be Ursus the Ultra Bear. This title is one of those ones like 1963 or The New Frontier, where people write a comic in the olde style of the early 1960s. This Marvel title has guest appearances by various Marvel Universe characters, drawn in an appealing Kirby/Ditko pastiche style. The main character, though, is the new (to me) hero, The Sentry.

The stories themselves are total genius – in one, a bear (Ursus the Ultra Bear, as noted) is given superpowers by the evil Cranio (the man with the tri-level mind). The Sentry is initially unable to defeat Ursus, and so is mocked in print by Truman Capote. In the next, The Sentry is all sad because the other superheroes seem to be avoiding him, leaving him with only Watchdog (the hound of courage) for company. Why are they avoiding him, and what is the secret of Area B? All is revealed.

This is easily the greatest comic issue I have read this year. I am a sucker for that kind of retro comic action, but when it comes with a dog character as well realised as Watchdog I simply cannot resist. This comic also implies that all is not quite what it seems, with the 1960s setting masking… something, so I reckon this could appeal to people who like meta-fiction as well as more straightforwardly up-and-at-'em titles.

Comics Roundup 10/10/2008

100 Bullets # 96, by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso

One character is driving in the car, with another character in the boot, talking on the phone to another character who is annoyed at what he has been doing. More exciting action, in a title fast heading to its conclusion.

Madame Xanadu #2, by Matt Wagner & Amy Reeder Hadley

I have been enjoying the more recent issues of this, so when I saw this back issue I snapped it up. In this one the enchantress Nimue (main character of the story blah blah etc.) has not yet moved to the court of Kublai Khan, but instead is knocking around a Camelot that has fallen to Mordred and Morgana. Merlin is also in this, as something of a bad ass.

While bits and pieces in this were quite enjoyable, I didn't like this as much as the more recent issues set in Mongolia; its narrative seemed to have too many sub-elements and lack overall coherence.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Comics Roundup 3/10/2008

House of Mystery #6, by Matthew Sturges, Tony Rossi, Luca Akins

So I was skimming this in a shop, and I thought "Wow, pirates", and then I thought "hey, some of the pirates are Furries", so I decided that I had better buy it. I've never seen this title before, it seems partly to be some people stuck in a mysterious house somewhere, with other parts of the story being flashback. It seems a bit like the kind of wooo, spooky stuff you expect from Vertigo, making me wonder if it is some kind of Sandman spin-off. Whatever, I found it entertaining enough and intend to give the next issue a go.

It comes with a preview of a new title, Unknown Soldier, which seems to be some revival of a "classic" DC character. I found the preview interesting, because it is set in a part of Africa where bad things are happening. Unlike that dreadfully emo Superman story from a while back, this is set in very specific location (northern Uganda), and I reckon the title will gain strength from that engagement with actual real-world issues, as opposed to focussing on a nebulous and eternally fucked up "Africa".

Batman # 680, by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel, and Sandu Florea

This odd story continues, with a Batman going off the deep end big-time finding himself up against The Joker – oh noes! As is the way of these things, The Joker seems to be trying to make the Batman go mental, while various shady characters look on in fascination. As is also the way of things, there is a great OMG WTF twist ending to this, so I can't wait for the next issue.

Four Eyes #1, by Joe Kelly, Max Fiumara, and Nestor Pereya

This is a new title from Image, set during the Great Depression, with resonances for how we will all be living in the near future. However, something is a bit different to how the historical record portrays the 1930s – in Four Eyes, as people queue at New York soup kitchens, dragons fly overhead. For as yet unexplained reasons, dragons have reappeared in the world, and though large and terrifying these strange creatures largely leave people alone. People, however, have taken to trapping dragons and training them to fight each other to provide a cruel spectacle for a desperate public. The main character is the young son of a guy who steals baby dragons for the dragon fights.

This is an odd book, playing its outlandish central premise entirely straight, giving the reader a very evocative portrait of Depression-era America. The art is striking too, reminding me a bit of Sam Keith's work, though it still has its own originality. I look forward to seeing how this oddity develops.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Forged in conflict: a new master race of squirrels

Red squirrels in Britain and Ireland have been suffering for some time, thanks to competition from grey squirrel interlopers. The grey squirrels carry a virus, to which they are immune. However, the red squirrels die within weeks if the virus is transmited to them. This biological warfare has proved disastrous for the reds, and their numbers across these islands have plummeted.

Now, though, hope is at hand. Scientists have discovered red squirrels who seem to be immune to the virus. The little fellows are displaying antibodies for it, meaning that it has infected them in the past, but they remain hale and healthy. With the viral threat increasingly under control, red squirrel sources report that the time has come to go back onto the offensive.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Final Countdown, Part 1: Pictures & Background

You may or may not have heard of the Bowlie Forum. It was one of those Internet forum things, having its origin as the forum for Jeepster, then the record label of popular band Belle & Sebastian. After a while Bowlie cut loose from Jeepster (which in any case went into an undead state), but it retained its roots in B&S and indie fandom. It was an entertaining place to hang out and chitter chatter about stuff, but then the guy who ran it decided that he had enough, and he announced that it was going to end in August this year. Meetups had been a Bowlie thing, and The Final Countdown was to be the final Bowlie get-together, taking place about two weeks before the end. I must confess to having coined the name for this last meet-up, which explains why it was named after a song by LAIBACH. Apart from that I had nothing to do with the event's organisation.

The meetup took place in this pub-club in Brixton, at which Bowlie related bands got to play and other people played records between their sets. We couldn't get B&S themselves, as they are money-grubbing sell-out breadheads (and they have some kind of mysterious best-not-go-there feud with the guy who ran the Bowlie forum); instead we got bands that either had a forum member or two in the line-up or else were judged by the programmer to be the kind of thing we would like.

I will tiresomely go through the bands in future posts, but first I must salute the genius of whichever of the event organisers decided to project every image file ever uploaded to Bowlie onto a screen for a few seconds each. OK, so this led to me seeing many pictures of cats, but it also led to many oh-the-nostalgia moments.

Come back next time for unmissable discussion of the bands who played at this exciting event!

more awesome pictures

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Liam Ó Maonlaí v. The Musicians of Mali

So I went to this free concert thing in Meeting House Square over the summer. It was free, but you had to get tickets for it. Someone else arranged this, such things are beneath me. When we arrived, Liam Ó Maonlaí was on stage with some tradders, largely being ignored. I think this is the curse of free concerts, people just show up and don't pay attention. Or maybe it is the curse of Liam Ó Maonlaí.

Next up were Afel Bocoum. Or next up was Afel Bocoum. I am not entirely clear on whether this is the name of a person or a band. I think a person. He is this fellow from Mali, and he plays with a load of other local musicians. The instrumentation and musical style comes across as very traditional, but I think the songs are often new, with Afel Bocoum singing about important concerns in his country – the problems of AIDS, deforestation of the Niger river banks (leading to desertification), and the country's semi-presidential constitution. Or so I have heard – he sings in foreign, so I cannot really tell.

Tinariwen are a Tuareg band from Mali. They presented an interesting contrast with Afel Bocoum, in that they seem much more to have achieved a synthesis between traditional and Western models of music. There is a very rock element to their sound, with their main guy playing lead electric guitar and plainly being a man of considerable talent with that instrument. Other rock instruments also feature in the line-up, but the band retain what look like more traditional instruments, as well as backing singers whose style seems distinctly non-western. The compositional style seemed a bit unusual too. I was really impressed by this lot, they seemed almost like a new direction in music, with the melange of elements taking things to a whole new level. Even Liam Ó Maonlaí joining them for an encore couldn't spoil things (in fairness to Mr Ó Maonlaí, I left this concert feeling almost well-disposed towards him, and it was interesting how comfortable the Malian musicians seemed to be with him).

One great thing about Tinariwen is their visual look- they play wearing Taureg robes, with the faces of most of the men obscured by the veils worn for protection against sun and sand. So you get a load of guys in long robes and covered faces playing guitars – deadly. There is maybe a gimmicky element to this, but it is a great gimmick.

I picked up albums by each of Tinariwen & Afel Bocoum, Amassakoul & Niger respectively. They are both excellent and very different from each other.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

That's it...

I fear that I must stay away from the Internet for a while, as I really need to get to work on my own Ethiopian travelogue. There are a few shitey Frank's APA reprints queued up over the next few days, so you won't be completely without me.

Thee Headcoatees "Bozstik Haze"

As you know, Thee Headcoats were a garage punk influenced band formed by Billy Childish. Thee Headcoatees were this all-women band he conjured into being to cover Headcoats songs, in the process unleashing the musical career of Miss Holly Golightly. Famously, Thee Headcoatees records outsold those of the band whose tunes they were covering, or so people say. This is a reissue of one of those albums, containing loads of rough tunes like Mama used to make (if she was a bit of a bad girl skank). It's a pity there aren't more clubs in the world playing this kind of music, or that when these clubs exist in my town I don't turn out to be too *tired* to go to them.

My latest awesome scheme

So I was reading about how Oxfam are getting some DJs in to play reggae music in one of their shops, as a way of raising money for Ethiopia (suffering badly because of rising food prices etc.). And I found myself thinking "Wouldn't it be great if they raised money for Ethiopia with Ethiopian music?". Then I thought "Hey, I know, I could do up a totally illegal compilation of music from Ethiopia, and give a copy of it to anyone who promised to donate X* amount of money to Oxfam!" That should raise 50p for the food-challenged people of Ethiopia.

Now all I have to do is, eh, make the compilation.

*where X is a to-be-decided amount of money.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A dirty old man writes

One side effect of the current WORLD CRISIS is that I have been reading the Financial Times that bit more frequently. I was particularly amused by their problem page, which is one of those ones where people write in with a problem and then readers offer their advice. Most of them are serious workplace related things, but then there is this charmer.

The tracks of your tears

Because you asked for it, here's the tracklisting of that CD I mentioned recently:

X 'Los Angeles'
Black Flag 'Rise above'
Mission of Burma 'Trentino'
R.E.M. 'catapault'
The Meat Puppets 'lost'
The dBs 'amplifier'
The Minutemen 'political song for Michael Jackson to sing'
Let's Active 'room with a view'
Minor Threat 'salad days'
The Suburbs 'love is the law'
Husker Dü 'I apologise'
Camper Van Beethoven 'take the skinheads bowling'
Bad Brains 'I against I'
Dead Kennedys 'rake this job and shove it'
Throwing Muses 'soul soldier'
Pailhead 'I will refuse'
Big Black 'bad penny'
Negativland 'Christianity is stupid'
Sonic Youth 'Mister Dik'
FIREHOSE 'sometimes'
The Pixies 'levitate me'
Mudhoney 'touch me I'm sick'
They Might Be Giants 'they'll need a crane'
Fugazi 'and the same'

Oneida "Preteen Weaponry"

This record contains just three songs – by Oneida. I've only listened to this once so far, but early impressions are that this is AWESOME. It is one of those records that demands to be played loud, and the music on is the kind of enveloping drone rock one associates with this kind of band. The middle track in particular is incredible, maybe because of the way the music combines with the indistinct yet ritualistic vocals.

I've heard other Oneida records before, but this is the one that really really does it for me. Now I can't wait for Oneida to come play these tunes in my town, so I can spoil the concert for everyone by enjoying myself.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

v/a "Paul Watts' '80s US Indie Rock Comp"

This is one of many CDs given to me recently by Paul Watts. I think he is trying to turn me on to his crazy music. Well it won't work, I tell you! Like pretty much everything else mentioned lately, I haven't listened to it too much, but if you are American and were into kewl US music in the 1980s then you probably know all these tunes.

I was going to make some snide comment stereotyping this compilation (and all American music) as being terribly earnest (and therefore shite), but a quick bomb through the tracks reveals that many of them are as quirky and playful as their UK indie contemporaries, and there are a good many more nods to electronic music and non-standard rock instrumentation than stereotypical thinkers like me might expect. Even a lot of the rockier and punkier stuff is a big bag of fun.

So yeah, maybe I will become the new Paul Watts yet.

Ethiopian Music

So in response to a recent post, "Ammonite" asked whether I had any plans to make a compilation of Ethiopian music. My initial answer was going to be "No". While I now have a fair bit of music from Ethiopia, most of it is from that Éthiopiques series of jazz-influenced stuff from the early 1970s. Apart from that, I only really have that ethnographic compilation of music from Ethiopia and Eritrea, an album by Aster Aweke (not very good but possibly interesting), and a dreadful 1980s record by Mulatu Astatqé (neither good nor interesting). And that Dub Colossus record. So really any compilation would just be loads of Éthiopiques stuff and a few other tunes. With the Éthiopiques series, people would arguably just be better off acquiring copies of the actual records (thus far they are all good, but 1 (Golden Years of Ethiopian Music), 4 (Ethio Jazz & Music Instrumentale) & 8 (Swinging Addis) are particularly recommended). If that's a bit scary, there is already a commercially available best of the Éthiopiques out there.

On the other hand, the Éthiopiques stuff is far less monolithic than you might think. There is a world of difference between the Ethio-Jazz music and the Swinging Addis material, and Gétatchèw Mèkurya's crazy sax driven sounds are from another world entirely. And that's before you get into the more vocally led material by Mahmoud Ahmed or Alèmayèhu Eshèté. So a compilation that was 75% or more from the Éthiopiques series would not necessarily be that lopsided.

I might have to think more on this.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

v/a "Artrocker Unsigned 4"

So this was a free CD that came with Artrocker magazine. I like Artrocker in theory, as it covers the kind of yeow! rock sounds I profess to love. However, the issue this came with was pretty dull, so I have not really got round to listening to the disc (which is meant to be of unsigned bands of the sort you will all be loving tomorrow). There is also the creeping fascism of the magazine, whose editorial was full of praise for that Tory bastard Boris Johnson.

I noticed the other day that I am not the only person perturbed by Artrocker's incipient conservatism – a recently revived thread on I Love Music revealed that the magazine's rightwing tendencies have been under the spotlight for some time. One person theorised that conservative music and conservative politics go together. There may be something to this – people who are totally bound up in retro musical scenes may well be the kind of people who think everything was better back when everyone was white, the gays knew their place, and young people had respect for their elders. Or maybe the idea that retro politics go with retro music is a nonsensical position.

What do you think?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Dub Colossus "A Town Called Addis EP"

These were the fellows playing after the Éthiopiques concert in Olde London Towne. I think this is meant to be a strange amalgam of dub reggae and various Ethiopian musics (including contemporary Ethiopian pop styles but also more traditional forms like Azmari). This was either a free sampler for their forthcoming A Town Called Addis album – or maybe we paid money for it. It is enjoyable enough to listen to, but it does sound a bit more dubby than Ethiopy, with occasional strange detours into a sound that could almost be tropicalian. Closer listening may be required.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On the streets of Dublin

So what's this? Looks normal enough – it's one of those things you see all over the place. Something to do with electricity or something. Or is it? Look a bit closer…

Eh, something seems wrong… what's that over on the right?


In these troubled times

So yesterday evening I was heading down to the pub, and I needed to get some money out of an ATM along the way. I keyed in my PIN and waited… for what seemed like far longer than the instant it normally takes the machine to start spitting out money.

"Oh noes", I thought. "The banking system has collapsed!".

v/a "Highlife Time: Nigerian & Ghanaian Sound from the 60s and Early 70s"

I was reading about Highlife music in a book about African history. It mentioned Highlife as one of the strange African pop cultural things that popped into being in the last years of the colonial period (see also Congolese rhumba and the strange tendency of street gangs to dress like cowboys in some other country). The book mentioned Highlife as being a specifically Ghanaian form, but didn't really say too much about it beyond that, but it nevertheless piqued my curiosity. And so in London, when I saw this compilation in Rough Trade, I snapped it up. For all that, though, it is not quite the Highlife I was reading about – this is from a later period and features Nigerian musicians more than ones from Ghana.

But anyway, what is it like? I'm not actually sure if I have entirely got to grips with it. On the first few listens I though maybe it wasn't all that. I mean, yeah, OK, it was grand, but it sounded a bit generic African with its polyrhythms and Johnny Marr guitars. On further listens I have found it more engaging, but time will tell whether it manages to earn a place in my affections or get buried in the pile of no longer new CDs.