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Archive for August, 2004

An open letter to Revels

Posted: August 30th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

Dear Mr Revels

I never thought I’d see the day when I would be writing a letter about my disappointment with Revels but it seems that day has arrived.

Yesterday I purchased a packet of Revels drawn in by the excitement surrounding your ‘new sweet’ revelations. The whole idea had given me days of thought before I even bought a packet. What would the new sweet be? And, more importantly, what sweet was being ditched to make room? My money was on the peanut. A certainty, I thought, what with the growing problem of nut allergies. The new sweet gave me more difficulty. I was hoping for coconut but knew it was unlikely since it probably has nut allergy problems itself and of course the public’s dislike of coconut in sweets, the fools. Almost as annoying as the general public’s abhorrence of liquorice (liquorice-free Liquorice Allsorts, I ask you!). Maybe a mint cream, I pondered.

So you can imagine my excitement upon receipt of an actual packet, tantalising me with question marks and promises of NEW SWEET! A rummage around and it seemed my peanut guess had been correct, there being no telltale peanut shaped sweets. I soon munched my way through the rest of the packet, each sweet providing a checklist of all the old favourites present and correct.

And then the packet was finished. AND WHERE WAS MY ‘NEW SWEET’? There was none, unless you have invented the magical invisible sweet.

Your packet clearly states the inclusion of a new sweet and this was not the case with my packet. I have no answer to my questions, no knowledge of this new sweet. When will I ever sleep again?

Yours in disappointment

Marceline Smith

PS. If you’re ever stuck for an advertising slogan feel free to use mine from a few years back: “Like a crap box of chocolates”.

PPS. The addition of raisins to the ingredients list kind of gives it away, doesn’t it?

Edinburgh Film Festival

Posted: August 29th, 2004, by Chris H

I’ve been to see some films at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Two of them were really good. Red Cockroaches is a SF film made for $2000, shot in NYC and edited on a home computer. I thought sounded a bit like ? and as everyone at diskant likes pie I thought I should taste it. It turned out not to have a huge amount in common with Aronofsky’s film, beyond no budget and an early scene on a subway platform. Apart from the obvious (it’s in colour), the pace of this film is more measured and it’s (arguably) a lot weirder. Like Star Wars (stolen line alert) it’s the sensitive tale of a boy’s attempt to sleep with his sister and the ensuing adventure. It’s thoughtfully shot and edited so well that although the effects are obviously digital, it looks better than films costing 1000x as much. No honestly, it’s fantastic.

Incident at Loch Ness is another film whose inventiveness makes up for its low budget. It’s the story of legendary director Werner Herzog’s attempt to make a documentary about the Loch Ness Monster. You might remember it being in the papers last September. Saying much about it would spoil the story so suffice to say not all goes to plan. Relationships in the crew are fraught to the point where the producer mutters to camera (after an argument about the boat), ‘at least we’re not dragging it over the mountain’.

The other film I saw was War, a moody post-apocalypse thing. When I was younger, post-apocalypse films were a lot more fun. They had punks and weird cars and guns. Here we have much mud, toil, graininess and confusion. Which is probably more truthful but unfortunately I’m no less confused about the film than I was before it finished. Some beautifully stark black & white photography didn’t make up for a lack of empathy with the characters and if I was feeling cruel I’d say that the film is plain boring and confuses moody with meaningful.

Get Poor!

Posted: August 18th, 2004, by Dave Stockwell

Veterans of this here blog may remember a minor classic of a post from Mr Summerlin earlier this year (when we were waiting for snowstorms, no less), in which he advised any of you looking for exciting music that you hadn’t heard before to GET POOR and invest in some old ZZ Top LPs. Well, I’ve been following that advice myself in the last couple of months, following a self-imposed ban on buying expensive new albums whilst in the midst of a personal finance crisis (called moving house and sacking off your crappy bar job because you despise the people who ‘run’ the place). The result of which monk-like activity has been that I’ve somehow ended up with all five albums by The Police for less than a pound each.

Now The Police (not to be confused with erratically great/mental noiseniks Hair Police), in my humble opinion, have been the victims of a bad rap since their inception. Because they were never a ‘proper’ punk band, and they dared to have influences outside of yer basic rock ‘n’ roll confines, they somehow got unfairly maligned and swallowed up by the Adult Orientated Rock prism – like the one in Superman II that those 3 baddies get trapped in. People these days only seem to remember ‘Every Breath You Take’ as some kind of wretched ‘beautiful love song’; personally, I could never understand why Puff Daddy would want to use a song about obsessive stalking as a tribute to a murdered friend. My bandmates and friends have all looked at me and shaken their heads when I’ve mentioned how much I love some of The Police’s stuff in the past.

But Gordon ‘Sting’/’Cuntchops’ Sumner, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were, a lot of the time, actually really fucking GREAT at being a jaw-droppingly tight, adventurous and ambitious band that also wrote some amazing songs that were often pretty damn simple but so crisply played that they’d put Shellac to shame. Sure, they got trapped in the overblown excess of the eighties towards the end, but even at their lowest ebb they’d often pull something out of the bag that was shockingly good.

I first heard The Police as a kid in the car, with an old greatest hits compilation tape going round and round on journeys to anywhere far away. Back then I thought they just wrote some catchy tunes, but going back to them these days I find myself entranced purely by the sound of Stewart Copeland casually thwapping the drums and making a minimal offbeat 4/4 rhythm sound like the classiest thing on earth, or Andy Summers tumbling out some more hand-crampingly spidery riffs with every song that passes. Even Sting’s lyrics generally haven’t reached a level of absurd pomposity until the last couple of albums, and even then they might actually be about something more complex than the hippy-dippy shit he comes out with nowadays ‘ check ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’ or ‘Invisible Sun’ for songs about the machinations of a power struggle in an unbalanced relationship and growing up during ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, for example.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of chaff and wheat when it comes to The Police ‘ even their strongest albums (Outlandos D’Amour, Zenyatta Mondatta, and Synchronicity) have got some turgid shite on there, but when they come up with something good, usually it’s gold. Here was a band that came from a jazz background into punk and new wave, and then had the gall to successfully experiment with world music, reggae, tango and even SKA, for fuck’s sake (and they pulled the ska off too, on ‘Canary in a Coalmine’). Plus, they wrote songs about prostitutes, fucking sex dolls, a (Nabokov name-checking) Lolita-esque relationship between a teacher and a schoolgirl, and how having tantric sex enabled you to perceive the world working in perfect harmonious motion. I think.

Of course, these days Andy Summers has disappeared into jazz/fusion hell, Sting is a self-important & self-righteous twunt whose solo career has consistently been a pox on the entire world that he purports to be saving (and let’s not even go into destroying ‘Roxanne’ with Puff Daddy in ’97), and Stewart Copeland has been playing drums for Ray Manzarek’s horrendous ‘re-united’ The Doors of late. But for some reason I’m willing to forgive them anything ‘ and not just because Copeland also scored ‘Rumblefish’ and ‘Pecker’ (he’s also done ‘Very Bad Things’ and ‘She’s All That’, amongst many others).

Go and check your nearest second-hand record stall, or just go on eBay if you’re feeling lazy, and see how many bloody copies there are of all their LPs for ridiculously cheap prices (they’re easy to spot ‘ they’ve all got diabolically bad artwork). Plus, you won’t be lining Sting’s pockets any further, so there’s no need to feel any guilt. If you’re feeling especially poor, you could just plum for a Greatest Hits and save yourself the sorting through the shit. Even ye old over-familiar ‘Every Breath You Take’ is worth listening to if you hadn’t noticed the piano behind the synth-strings ‘ listen! It’s just like John Cale’s contribution to ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ all over again!

Or you could just download some MP3s.

I’m probably being ignorant of what’s cool (or maybe it’s that I don’t read magazines), but it does surprise me that given the bizarrely still-burgeoning popularity of ‘punk funk’ at the moment, The Police don’t seem to have been given more attention than a terrible cover of ‘Message in a Bottle’ by Machinehead in recent years. At least the none-more-evil !!! haven’t associated themselves with them, otherwise I’d be physically sick. Then again, Pinback‘s Rob Crow covered a couple of Klark Kent (a Copeland joke solo project) songs whilst in Heavy Vegetable ‘ and if you’re telling me that Rob Crow’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right! Or something.

Ho hum, back to writing about clever clever stuff like Steve R. Smith’s latest album on Digitalis or the Ivytree’s Feathered Wings on recent interviewees Catsup Plate soon.

NME goes independent

Posted: August 14th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

I’ve just bought the NME in order to get an exclusive Hood track featured on the cover CD (put together by Domino). It feels rather like I have wandered into an alternate reality. All the more so after reading the NME editor’s suckup tribute to independent labels (the irony almost made me laugh out loud). Hood track is marvellous though. Hurry up with album please (which the NME will no doubt ignore).

Hello

Posted: August 13th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

I nearly sent this email earlier to my boss. I still may.

COMPANY POLICY REMINDER

In view of the number of layabout student types across the Company, I would like to take this opportunity to remind all Finance staff of the ‘Acting like a student’ policy. I have attached a copy of the policy below and would request that you all familiarise yourselves with the specific detail, and I would draw your attention to some key areas:

1. Dress

All temporary workers should be aware that the business expects you to spend all available monies (and also a large percentage of “non available” monies; for example any loans or overdrafts that are in place or could be put in place) on suitable business attire.

You should all be aware that monitoring of dress takes place and dressing in a suit with a tie and posh little cufflinks avoids any doubt and misunderstanding. Please note as well that hairstyle is considered a part of “dress”. “Dreadlocks” are not acceptable and though we cannot suspend a member of temporary staff for having them we will make snidey comments and generally behave with a level of prejudice that if it were racial would see us at an industrial tribunal until said member of temporary staff reverts to something less “studenty”. Beards and the subtle beginning of a beard are also seen as being representative of a lack of drive, direction and work ethic within temporary employees.

Please note these rules do not apply to permanent members of staff whose only dress regulation is that their parts are covered up in the working day and any sacks that are worn are of hessian rather than paper for environmental reasons. This is because their commitment to the company is under no suspicion whereas the temporary worker is always being shifty, not doing work, smoking and stealing Tipp Ex from the stationary cupboard.

2. Use of e-mail and internet

The same principles apply. Personal e-mails are permitted before and after your working day and during lunch breaks. In addition to others contained in the policy, sending or forwarding any non-business e-mails that you create during work time either internally or externally is specifically prohibited. The terms “personal”and “non-business” are kept deliberately vague so as to be allowed to be used if we ever give you a permanent contract and then decide to fire you for fun and can’t find any other grounds to do so.

Temporary workers are not allowed to access the internet at all. Again, these rules do not apply to permanent members of staff who can send jokey little quips to their hearts content and even check out what certain aeroplane dashboards look like online instead of doing anything resembling work.

3. Timekeeping

It has been brought to the managements attention that a few members of staff are abusing the length of the working day by shifting it anything up to 12 minutes in one direction. This was acceptable but now is no longer so. We understand that temporary employees signed a contract allowing them a certain degree of flexibility in their start and finish times within a window of an hour between 8am and 9am.

We are ignoring this.

We feel that this freedom has led to an increase in a “student type attitude”. We define this as a general feeling of being quite relaxed about coming to a job you utterly detest. This is not acceptable. In every aspect this job must and will grind you down.

Again, permanent members of staff can wing in when they feel like it, take an extended lunch to buy shoes in town or leave early to watch the football at whim.

It has been asked whether (COMPANY NAME WITHHELD) expects its temporary members of staff to behave like permanent members of staff with no incentive, less pay and no job security. The answer to this is “yes”.

4. Chatting at work and generally having a laugh (includes phones)

Temporary employees are not allowed to use the telephones for personal calls. We understand the very nature of being a temp is that you have other conflicting demands on your time and that in some cases you will be looking for work outside of the company and so communication via telephone, mobile phone and email is of paramount importance.

We are ignoring this.

This extends to chatting while at work. We do allow the temporary member of staff to engage in conversation but only with full time members of staff and only about football.

We feel chatting or generally holding on to any sliver of personality you may have come into the job with is wholly unacceptable. At (COMPANY NAME WITHHELD) you will only discuss (COMPANY NAME WITHHELD) as though you have any job prospects and security which, may we remind you, you do not.

5. Kicking stones around near the smoking shed

Just don’t. We haven’t worked out what’s bad about it yet but we saw 2 of you smiling out there and smiling is what students do. So forget it.

6. Having ideas that may benefit the company (“Creative thinking”)

This is a complex issue. While we like to cultivate the feeling that your views are valued and that you could have an influence on the way things work we don’t actually want you to do this.

You are a temporary worker, or a “student” as we prefer to call you and therefore you are unintelligent (this means you are not clever). Because you still allow your brain to be open to stimuli outside of the company you are weak and therefore your ideas are null and void.

Permanent members of staff are more intelligent because they know more about (COMPANY NAME WITHHELD) . They know less about everything else but because (COMPANY NAME WITHHELD) is the world, there is nothing else. Therefore you are more knowledgable about nothing.

Please bear in mind because of the nature of the temporary worker we can terminate a contract with no notice and no reason. We see no conflict in this situation and us asking you to act like permanent employees.

NB. The term “student” can be applied to anyone, even those out of full time education for 6 years and over

FORMAL APOLOGY

Posted: August 12th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

I would like to apologise to Jonny Metgod and his family as my Matthew Newnham pointed out he’s

“He’s more Dutch than a room full of tall men with long faces shouting “shhhhee looovessss iiittt”

He’s Dutch. But he has got a foot like a traction engine.

MP3 blog roundtable

Posted: August 11th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

Very interesting article on The Morning News today, a Roundtable discussion with a group of MP3 Bloggers. I haven’t gotten round to investigating audio blogs but after reading this, I may have to find some time. I’m finding it more and more difficult to discover new music that isn’t made by people I know since all the music magazines went crap (cue Plan B etc) so time to browse some of the current music and audio blogs and see who’s writing about exciting stuff. Hopefully the links menu on the left will gain from this too. Any suggestions of good blogs please stick them in the comment box.

I don’t know how the Rolling Stones do it

Posted: August 9th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Well, they don’t actually. Ron Woods in rehab and the reason he gave was “tour withdrawal”. The very nature of playing gigs means you’re hyped up and you’re excited. Monday is the fucking shittest if you spent the weekend playing music. This weekend we went and played in London and Brighton with Lords. And every previous weekend in recent memory we’ve played. This band was started for fun and we decided we would only play gigs a) in seaside locations, b) in places we hadn’t been to before and c) with bands we love.

Last weekend we played the majestic Munkyfest somewhere on the border of North Wales. It was massively Led Zeppelin. People dancing in fields, hills, mountains, sunshine, playing in a huge pig shed. It was hard to force the rock from us at 6pm but mincing around Helsby village in cowboy hats avoiding the rock hard locals was a laugh. Phil decided to go the whole hog and camp to maximise his festival experience too.

So anyway we played the 50th Silver Rocket at the Garage on Friday. Felt a little like people should have held up scorecards after every song and MAN what IS it with the comparisons to Shellac? Yeah, OK if you own 2 records and one is Shellac and the other is Simon & Garfunkel then Lords sound like Shellac but people – buy a fucking ZZ Top album sometime. The Garage was extra extra sweaty and minging. Joeyfat ruled as headliner. The SR people have a 2xCD set out to commemorate 50 gigs. It has great stuff from Part Chimp and Joeyfat that makes it a worthwhile purchase alone. It has a slinky Lords track, a very very lo-fi Wolves Of Greece track and a Reynolds live track from 2002 with a hideous bass drum sound made better by the sound of David Crofts yelling throughout it. Ian Scanlon is all over it like a rash as well with an Econoline gay emo live song, a crushing version of Silver Rocket by Hey Colossus and a demo of Ian in his bedroom singing about girls from his days as Drop Bear. Be warned there is also some of the most aggravating bullshit math rock on the CD known to man – REJECT THE MATH!

Anyway, we bombed to Brighton on Saturday and got to Shoreham On Sea nice and early for a swim in the sea. Well, Phil did. I got in to my knees and pussied out. We had fish and chips on the beach. We went and saw Hey Colossus who murdered my ears.

Our gig was super weird. A lady kept slapping my ass as hard as she could everytime I stepped out towards the crowd. I thought I got the weird end of the deal until a young lady who may have been Peaches stepped forward and kissed Phil. Bizarre.

So then it’s back to work today. Stinks.

Miso

Posted: August 8th, 2004, by Chris H

One of the good/bad things about living somewhere that has lots of good stuff going on is that sometimes there’s no reason to do something because other folk are already doing it very. Like miso. Why would I want to start up a regular electro night when they are already bringing up all the acts I want to see?

Last night they had Marcia Blaine School for Girls and Isan playing. Both playing electronica that sounds too much like fields to have been created digitally. MBSG had a mix of styles and tempos and Isan a vast array of Korgasmic melodies. So good I forgot how hot and stuffy the Note was.

Audioscope update

Posted: August 8th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Hi

Just to add to the post about Audioscope with some info about the whole Damo Suzuki thing. The band with Damo for that gig is going to be Phil Welding (Wolves Of Greece/Lords) on the bass, Neil Turpin (Bilge Pump, HiM, Polaris) on drums, Elvis Beetham Wallace (Twinkie/Lords) also on drums, Neil Johnson (Wolves Of Greece/Bob Tilton) on guitar and synth and me on guitar. Fuck knows how this happened but we’re doing a Nottingham show at the Rescue Rooms with him on Sept 14 and then Audioscope. It’s all improvised stuff and we’re aiming for the upper end of the volume scale. So get the car/bus/train/walk/hitch and come along and watch us shit ourselves.