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Archive for October, 2007

THE BLUES IS NUMBER ONE

Posted: October 30th, 2007, by Chris Summerlin

Love and marriage

Posted: October 24th, 2007, by Chris Summerlin

Hi

No posts for a while so sorry for that but I seem to have been at home for about 5 mins in the last month. I’ve long been using my Flickr profile as a Blog of sorts so I’m just uploading some photos of the last month or so and I will link them from Diskant as some are Diskant-related.
None more so than the marriage of Matt Tagney at the start of October. Matt screamed and whispered for years in the first band either of us were in, Reynolds. He got hitched to his long term girlfriend Kerry in the scenic surrounds of the Ulster Folk Museum in Northern Ireland at the start of October.

It looked a bit like this (click to go to the photos):

And the micro-holiday that happened around it looked like this:

and some lovely mouse-over action…go on then…

It was ace. As are Matt & Kerry: congratulations!

Coming soon: Glenn Branca’s Hallucination City in London, Ian Scanlon gets married.

Now playing: FSOL – Papua New Guinea, Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out, Liquid – Sweet Harmony. Fuck knows what’s going on with my music at the moment, I’m thinking about getting a puffa jacket and an undercut again.

I Love Warp Records

Posted: October 24th, 2007, by Pascal Ansell

New Flying Lotus EP – massive, incredible. Like a squelchy Prefuse 73 – big beats!!!

Phew.

Pascal xx

VOLE – Vole Radio 1 (3-inch EP, Self Released)

Posted: October 18th, 2007, by Pascal Ansell

Vole Radio 1 is a shimmering 3-Inch EP of fun from Brighton improv collection Vole, a grand mix of electronic rattlings, flute pieces and percussive works. Seven untitled tracks which respectively share their own charming peculiarity, the next tune sounding altogether different from the one that precedes it. An interesting start to the EP with cowbell clutters and clunks pervading the sound, and then a fantastic interplay of trumpet with sitar. The ebbing of synthesized chimes in the penultimate track is utterly moving – how often is one newly greeted with a song whose genuine characteristics are nostalgic and haunting? This one surely is, with an undulating and fluttertongued flute line descanting the underpinned chimes – all brilliantly exotic. The final track displays staccatoed burst of crowd noise, weird scraped animal hollers, messy percussion, a choppy, slapped tom-tom… This truly captures the excitement of live improv.

It all seems rather cabbalistic – what with this being a live pirate radio recording, supplemented by a short press release with a secretive, awkward website. Yet it’s refreshing to hear improv music once in a while – not only is form almost entirely thrown out of the picture but you can hear decisions and manipulations in ad libitum real-time. One is inclined to think the only merit of improv music lies in watching it, but Vole Radio 1 is proof that this isn’t always true.

Pascal Ansell
http://vole.info/

Prinzhorn Dance School

Posted: October 13th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

I had hoped to write something about Prinzhorn Dance School today, after seeing them play last night but I am off to Japan tomorrow and I haven’t found the time. I am slightly obsessed with the album so, if this continues, I will likely write something on my return. I would just like to say that of all the band combinations I have ever dreamt of, mixing up The Fall and Skinned Teen was not one I ever imagined actually happening. I am still not sure if this is a good thing.

Anyway, I am OFF and I hope the good people of diskant will keep you entertained in my absence. As mentioned in my babblings on the homepage, there will be no-one answering general diskant mails and no review CDs being passed out to reviewers for the next two weeks. Somehow, I doubt this will cause any huge problems in the real world.

See you in a fortnight!

CONTROL (Dir. Anton Corbijn)

Posted: October 8th, 2007, by Alex McChesney

Anton Corbijn’s Control follows the life of Ian Curtis, from a teenager who got married too young through his time with Joy Division, struggles with epilepsy and eventual suicide at the age of only 23. Based on his widow Deborah’s memoir “Touching From a Distance”, as well as the testimony of many of those who knew him, it aims to be a definitive portrayal of a young man whose influence would live longer than he did himself.

And this is very much a film about Curtis. If you expect a piece about the Manchester music scene of the 70’s, you’ll come away disappointed. Nor is it a film about Joy Division, the other members being somewhat sidelined. Sam Riley plays Ian Curtis as an unremittingly serious and brooding young man, slowly being pulled apart by the pressures of fatherhood, the worsening of his epilepsy, the numbing side-effects of the cocktail of drugs prescribed to him in a vain attempt to control it, and guilt over his affair with Belgian fanzine-writer Annik HonorĂ© (Alexandra Maria Lara). While Riley turns in a decent performance, he’s hampered by a script that doesn’t allow him a lot of range on the other side of the emotional spectrum, which weakens the film’s portrayal somewhat. Few people on this earth live inside a black cloud 24/7 and are still able to function, and, indeed, Curtis’s former bandmates have gone on record to point out that, as troubled as he was, they were still mates and still able to share a laugh and a joke from time to time. But beyond some very brief teenage hi-jinks at the start of the film, the image of him presented here, in playing him so straight and po-faced, seems less human given the absence of any light whatsoever. Even the twenty-minutes or so of Michael Winterbottom’s jokey 24 Hour Party People that deal with Tony Wilson’s Joy Division years managed to shine a little light on the character, and when his death comes in that film it packs a greater emotional punch.

Control is, however, a strikingly beautiful movie. Shot in high-contrast black-and-white, Corbijn’s long career as a photographer is in evidence, bringing a stark beauty to grim 70’s England, though it’s perhaps worth noting that Manchester itself doesn’t get much of a showing beyond the Macclesfield housing estates where Curtis lives. But for all its faults elsewhere, Control succeeds visually, and I’m keen to see what Corbijn does next.

The supporting cast are largely excellent, with the actors playing Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris having learned the actual songs and playing them with a fitting sense of awkwardness, since if you’ve seen archive footage of Joy Division you’ll know that although they could make a mighty noise they never looked entirely comfortable doing so. Subsequently, the scenes of the band performing live and in the studio are among the film’s highlights, though while Riley does a good impersonation of Curtis his voice occasionally fails to capture that famous low-frequency growl. Samantha Morton maybe fails to convince as a teenager in the film’s opening scenes but is generally very good as Deborah Curtis. But it’s Toby Kebbel who really shines as manager Rob Gretton, delivering every sweary fucking line with total relish and providing the film’s comic relief. If his perfomance in Dead Man’s Shoes wasn’t enough to get him recognized as a serious talent, Control has to.

But it’s the writing that ultimately lets the film down. When tackling a biopic, it is expected that there are key moments in the subject’s life that have to be tackled, like navigational waypoints in the audience’s journey through the movie. However, although the writer is obliged to hit them, and even expected to by an audience that probably knows the basic structure of the story already, it’s still important for these events to be woven smoothly into the fabric of the narrative – you aren’t producing a documentary, but a work of fiction which may be based on reality but can only emulate it. Too often, unfortunately, Control fails to hit these marks smoothly, relying on some sadly lumpen dialog to dump info on the viewer. The worst instance of this surely being the introduction of Gretton, who basically walks in and says “I’m Rob Gretton and I’m going to be your manager.” Yes, the character is a cocky bastard, and if this were an isolated instance of Control showing rather than telling it would get a laugh and be forgiven, but sadly it isn’t, and along with that most deadly of cinematic sins: using a voice-over to indicate how a character is feeling (That some of it comes from Curtis’ own writings is no excuse.) it robs the film of the powerful impact it could have had, by slapping you awake and reminding you that this is a movie.

The late Tony Wilson was fond of quoting John Ford: “If it’s a choice between the truth and the legend, print the legend.” But as exciting as legends are, they can be dangerously two-dimensional. Enjoyable though it is, Control feeds the myth rather than humanizing its subject.

CHAPTERS – EP1 (CDEP, World In Winter Recordings)

Posted: October 7th, 2007, by Dave Stockwell

Chapters are a new musical proposition, formed in London despite the fact that all 3 members originally met at school in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Ex-members of Dakota Oak Trio and Pedro, their musical ease and cohesiveness as performers together belies the band’s short lifespan so far. This is backed up by some lovely drumming work provided by Chris Walmsley, of All Traps Set and Broadcast, and most recently as part of Rick Tomlinson’s Voice Of The Seven Woods project. And very lovely they are too.

This CD is Chapters’ debut solo release, following a split 7″ with labelmates and previous diskant reviewees Angela Valid. Compiled over sessions in 2005 and 2006, it’s a consistent and satisfying introduction to an instrumental band that likes to linger in the more enjoyably melodious areas of modern forward-thinking guitar and electronic music.

Beginning with whirring, bubbling electronics and a glockenspiel bleeding into phased acoustic guitar, Chapters’ music quickly takes recognisable shape, dominated by lyrical acoustic guitar playing that carries the burden of the bulk of the “song” of each track. Based around delicately fingerpicked phrases and chords, the guitar is well-complemented by simple tremeloed electric guitar melodies with understated bass and keyboard work, propelled forward by briskly brushed drums and slowly splashing cymbals.

Electronics and experimental work is wisely kept to the background for the bulk of the tracks, only emerging to introduce or alter the texture of an otherwise-straightforward song when necessary. This, coupled with modern Tortoise-esque approaches to fluid experiments with textures and songforms, means that Chapters’ songs always sound natural and never forced, paying dividends in the form of memorable moments and brain-itching melodies running throughout the EP’s length. The aping of “In Den Garten Des Pharaos”-era Popol Vuh’s cymbal washes and organ sounds that make a false start to “Light Lay Down” is also cute and well appreciated by this particular reviewer.

A real highlight of the EP is the 8-minute centre-piece song “The Last Days Of Steam”, which sees Chapters at their sunniest and most accessible. Sounding distinctly reminiscent of the careful instrumental arrangements of Jim O’Rourke’s ‘pop’ records, back when he was juggling obsessions with John Fahey and Burt Bacharach (see “Eureka” and “Insignificance”), it happily burbles along in a jolly electro-acoustic manner, gradually building in depth and energy as it switches between 2 different passages that act as chorus and verse, but never forcing itself to an unnecessary climax. And who needs a climax or even a coda when you’ve got two tunes that fit together quite as well as this? It’s a delight, and you’ll barely notice the running length as the band explores the limits of the song’s possibilities.

My only real criticism of “EP1” is that, as a whole, the textural experimentation and use of instruments feels very ‘set’ from the opening track. Once Chapters have established a certain sound a couple of minutes into this release, they seem content to explore it without too much variation from track-to-track. You certainly couldn’t tell that this was recorded in more than one session. For me then, it’s crucial that this EP only lasts 26-odd minutes. If Chapters are to produce a full-length album in the future, I’d hope for slightly more variation in terms of ‘experimental’ approach. But this is still worth checking out, and I look forward to hearing where Chapters are at next time they decide to release anything.

www.worldinwinter.co.uk
www.myspace.com/worldinwinter

D’ASTRO – Records / Milk It (7", Run Of The Mill Records)

Posted: October 7th, 2007, by Dave Stockwell

Run Of The Mill don’t release a lot of records, but when they do they’re invariably peaches, plucked from the ever-fertile DIY scene in Leeds. D’Astro may be one of the most unusual looking fruits of the LS6 forest, germinated and tended to by frontman (and solo artist in his own right) D. Millard. They also feature Mary from the mighty Pifco on drums.

Millard claims that D’Astro make “ugly and stupid dancing music for sexy and clever people”, and their sound certainly lives up to this billing. Some totally lo-fi production, highlighted by trebly guitars scratching across some bordering-on-distorted bass and drums and glazed over by D. Millard’s witty, self aware lyrics, shove 2 songs down your throat before you’ve barely had time to take a breath. The surprisingly harsh guitars tinnily scour across the tracks, punctuating the loose, rolling rhythms that verge on baggy beats at times. This rollicking, almost makeshift, sound reminds me most of The Fall, but D’Astro certainly have enough ideas to forge an identity of their own. In particular, the girl/boy harmonies and singing at cross-purposes sound great, and the lumpen danceability of the beats suggest a great band to lose all your pretensions and get down to when they perform live.

There are barely 5 minutes of music across both sides of this 7″, but all the flab has been cut away from the meat to leave lean and strong songs that serve as a brief, but very welcome introduction to an intriguing new (since 2004!) kid on the block. I like to think of them as a David Mamet of bands: they don’t labour with wanky or unnecessary dialogue or scene setting; they just get straight to the point, make it well and make it their own. An admirable debut.

www.dastro.co.uk
www.runofthemillrecords.co.uk

Self Promo

Posted: October 7th, 2007, by JGRAM

I’m kinda sad to report that most of my 2007 has been consumed with work woes and issues. At the beginning of the year I finally qualified as a fully blown certified accountant after too many years of study taking up too much of my “leisure” time. Anyhow, it proved quite the poison challis and re-iterated just how over qualified I was for my role at Buggles’s gaff despite it being something of my dream job. After much searching and truly painful dealings with swine and shysters posing as employment agencies who in reality barely has a brain cell between them (and evidently NOT the first idea about the industry I work in) I have landed another very good job in the music industry following failed applications (and interviews) at places such as the BBC, Wall Of Sound Records etc etc. It is proving a really tough job though and one that I have sadly had to sign a confidentiality form/contract/disclosure/document. On the flipside I never had to sign any such document when I worked for Buggles at the studio and there is some true scandal waiting to be uncovered by someone at that place. I truly miss working with many of the people there though, such as the former Big Brother South Africa contestant, the ex-Irish girl band member, the old Quentin Tarantino PA etc etc

So……my experiences of the music industry are never ceasing to surprise or illuminate, continuing to do so on an almost daily basis. I often feel disgust and disillusion at just how odious the whole process and profession is – firstly you ain’t accomplish shit without management to brown nose on your behalf. I have seen silly amounts of money thrown at some really third and fourth rate bands which is verging on soul destroying. Comparing what I see now to my previous life with Gringo, how on earth was a professional label able to come in and sign Hirameka without doing nish on the publishing side? Publishing by the way is money for old rope! The majority of acts seldom recoup advances so I have seen the future and it is – no advances! Message me offline and I will tell you a horrible tale of one of the biggest cowboys in the industry doing just that. And the dude looks like Danny Devito. Odious!

As a result of moving in these circles this week has seen me shaking my head to gigs by Incubus, the Dandy Warhols and the Happy Mondays pushing me back towards Shellac, Fugazi, Nirvana etc records more than ever.

Good gigs though! I am VERY excited about the Les Savy Fav in a couple of weeks, their new record does not fail to disappoint. Part of my thinks their return has been spurned on by the justified success of their friends The Hold Steady being flavour of the month, an OK band made amazing through thick layers of personality and a sense of genuine gratitude.

Devo take the honour of gig of the year at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and are probably in the running for my all time favourite show. My God, for podgy old men in radiation suits there sure was a lot of energy, enthusiasm and excellence on show that night with every song a hit/classic. Which I have to say cannot be said for Sonic Youth doing Daydream Nation at the Roundhouse which left me with a resounding feeling of “meh”, which is something I would never have dreamt. And in recent weeks LITE from Japan really showed me a good time. I have also rediscovered hardcore after being enthused by the documentary movie American Hardcore and I currently love the band Coke Bust.

Movie wise I have enjoyed very few lately and avoided many films that I would have previously run to enthusiastically. The Simpsons Movie was only OK (it spread itself too thinly) but I am very excited about going to see Fay Grim (the sequel to Henry Fool) at the London Film Festival at the end of the month.

TV has been astonishingly good this year. Without doubt The Sopranos has solidified its place as the greatest TV drama of all time with some of the strongest episodes in the entire show’s existence, proving truly affecting especially in the genuinely jawdropping final four which performed the unthinkable and broached some real taboo subjects. Running in parallel I finally discovered The Wire as an equally well written and performed series, now four seasons old with an ensemble cast to die for and perhaps the smoothest villan in history in Stringer Bell. The show feels like an education in the most entertaining way, one from you come away feeling more intelligent. And finally the Sarah Silverman Program has made me laugh more than anything in recent memory. I question how she is able to put her “sick” humour on screen in such stifling times but I am thankful she has in these times of a real lack of humour in the world it seems.

The new Trapped In The Closet chapters (complete with Will Oldham cameo) despite now proving somewhat knowing totally delivered with the introduction of a ridiculous amount of ridiculous characters.

I have been to the theatre! I went to see the Bill Hicks Slight Return for the third time in as many years last Friday and it still rocks my world. A few weeks prior to that I caught Warren Mitchell (Alf Garnett) in Colchester performing the play Visiting Mr Green and it felt a true privilige to see an 81 year old legend in performance. And on my birthday I finally got to see Avenue Q which was as glorious as I was imagining it would be.

Comedy rocks! Seeing the David Cross residence at the 100 Club was a genuine treat, Eugene Mirman is a big Russian bear of comedy and is currently appearing in Flight Of The Conchords – something I can’t make my mind up on. And Josie Long just continues to get funnier and funnier while my friends Pappy’s Fun Club have returned from the Edinburgh Festival with resounding success and Robin Ince’s Myspace blog remains one of the funniest reads online.

The closure of Fopp (especially the Tottenham Court Road store) has hit me hard.

I continue to try and get my book done. The first edit was put into a printable template of 387 pages back around June but I decided to make a few additional edits and the manuscript has remained in limbo since but I have to draw a line under it soon and get the thing put out otherwise it will never get done. In the meantime I am tentatively working on four other writing ideas to varying degrees of success, a number of which I am sure will fall to the wayside. Hopefully the Douglas Coupland reading at the Bloomsbury Theatre this week will prove inspiring.

I want a new dog but I have no room in my flat.

The Danny Baker podcasts have proved a real surprise highlight of my summer, getting my through many commutes to London and the recent football shows are some of the best podcasts on the internet.

Somehow I remain really enjoying listening to daytime Radio One at work despite walls of shitty “indie” guitar bands easily being eclipsed by pop and mainstream electronic music sounding REALLY savvy and even experimental in comparison. Nowhere will you hear a better song this year than “Police On My Back” by Lethal Bizzle

My apparent fetish for High School Musical apparently has no ends (according to my ex-work colleagues).

American Apparel clothing has really gone downhill.

Eating out is all about dim sum.

I love London more than ever.

I need a holiday.

GIRAFFE RUNNING – Giraffe Running (Learn To Love/Red F)

Posted: October 4th, 2007, by Crayola

Yum.
Giraffe Running – Great name for a band, great name for an album.
So that’s two out of two so far.

Giraffe Running are a duo of Greg Barrett on bass (formerly of Joan Of Arse) and Hag on drums.
Yes I know, that smacks of Lightning Bolt BUT (and it’s a big BUT), GR are an entirely different monster altogether.
Formed a few years ago in Dublin, GR create superb not-quite-danceable-not-quite-jazz splurges of instrumental tom foolery.
That’s in no way meant to be a put down – this is tom foolery in the same way Flann O’Brien’s writing is tom foolery. There’s some deeply enchanting and often very funny music in here, it’s simply wrapped up incredibly tightly with a mood of playful glee.
The bass slips and slides like an oiled eel around some ferociously syncopated drumming.
There are nods all over the place to the sinewy instrumentation of late period Beefheart, the mathematical workouts of Gastr Del Sol and even the jump-cuts of John Zorn.

Released as a double CD in staggeringly lovely packaging – handmade, embossed, colour printed grey card with a poster, inserts (the packaging in itself is a nod towards the aesthetic that GR are chasing – this artwork could easily be wrapping one of Steve Albini’s releases) – CD one is five ‘basic’ tracks recorded ‘live’ in the studio.
CD two is fifteen tracks long and is essentially a bunch of remixes and reworkings by various different artists – Mike Stevens, Bryn Cloke, Agata, Max Tundra to name but a few – and it gives a whole new dimension to GR’s music: This is what might be if the duo were a band.
It works with just a couple of exceptions. The guest musicians using GR’s original recordings and simply adding whatever they want.

If you want fun, interesting, intelligent music to lose yourself in and delight your friends you really should hunt down a copy of this.

As I said – YUM.