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Archive for March, 2008

Signs that the 1980s revival has gone too far

Posted: March 18th, 2008, by Stan Tontas
  • skinny trousers
  • massive asymmetrical hair. (We didn’t ban CFCs because of the ozone layer…)
  • banks collapsing
  • house prices falling
  • stock market crises
  • Chinese government crushes citizens with tanks
  • Your pal sells 10 copies of Class War‘s magazine in under two hours.
  • Rambo in the cinema

Any more?

Minor update of fun

Posted: March 17th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

There are two new fun little things on the blog. At the bottom of the right sidebar, you’ll now see a long list of all the diskant writers past and present. If you click on their names you can see every post they’ve written in one handy section! I will of course be tracking clicks to see who is the most popular diskanteer (not really).

The other thing is at the end of individual posts. Just before the comments you’ll now see a link to whatever we were blogging about on that day a year earlier. Who knows what you might find bubbling up from the archives.

Tales From Earthsea

Posted: March 17th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

A new Ghibli film is usually eagerly anticipated here at diskant but this one seemed to miss our radar. Directed by (son of Hayao) Goro Miyazaki and based on the books by Ursula LeGuin, it has plenty potential for awesomeness. However, I heard a lot of bad things about it and thus lacked the enthusiasm to push it up my DVD rental list. I got it this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. Most of the complaints have been from Earthsea fans but really, has there ever been a film adaptation that wholeheartedly pleased hardcore fans of the book? Having only read the first two Earthsea stories early last year, I had some vague understanding of the characters and locations and the powers of the wizards, which weren’t really explained at all in the film. I’m really not sure why they didn’t make a film of the first couple of stories first – they could have Harry Potter-ed up the Wizard school for the kidz and everything and then this film would have made a lot more sense.

Anyway, having not read the stories the film is based on, I found it all quite enjoyable and Ghibli-esque with strong hints of Princess Mononoke and a little bit of Castle of Cagliostro. Goro is clearly not his dad and this lacks a lot of the wonder and joy and oddness of Spirited Away or the book-adapted Howl’s Moving Castle but is certainly as good as non-Miyazaki Ghiblis like The Cat Returns. The tale of a wizard trying to restore balance to the world, an evil wizard trying to gain eternal life, a runaway prince pursued by shadows and a girl with very hidden depths, it’s a decent anime with enough spooky bits and action to keep it interesting. If nothing else, it’s really made me want to dig out my book and finish reading the rest of the Earthsea stories, which I’m sure have much less of a happy tied-up ending. In summary, Ghibli fans – go see; Earthsea fans – think of the new fans you’ll gain, not the changes to the story.

Here’s the trailer with subtitles. Therru singing this song in the fields is one of the loveliest bits of the film.
[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=YnVCK0jXlJ8[/youtube]

Triptych 08 – The final fling

Posted: March 13th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

The line-up for everyone’s favourite Scottish, lager-sponsored, city-hopping music festival has been announced and it’s a good one, and so it should be since this is to be the last Triptych ever, nooo! However, they seem determined to make it a Triptych to remember and there’s promises of a new type of event to replace it. Whether this will be a good or a bad thing remains to be seen – it does have the terrible name of The Tennent’s Mutual. This just makes me think of that episode of The Prisoner where everyone starts shouting UNMUTUAL at Number 6. Hopefully it will be just like that.

Anyway, the usual range of excellent bands, DJs and films will making their jaunty way round Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen over the weekend of 25th-27th April. I’m particularly looking forward to the Tramway extravaganza featuring Mogwai, Clinic, Dirty Projectors, Malcolm Middleton, Errors, Frightened Rabbit, Magik Markers, Correcto and RememberRemember all in one place. Tremendous.

Here’s the full list of artists taking part:

Mogwai, The RZA, Candi Staton, Sebadoh, Alela Diane, Clinic, Michael Hurley, Jamie Lidell, Gilles Peterson, José James, Flying Lotus, Theo Parrish, Derrick May, Model 500, Four Tet, Andrew Bird, Malcolm Middleton, Pram, James Blackshaw, Mikel Rouse, Dirty Projectors, Frightened Rabbit, Chrome Hoof, Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells, The Fence Collective, 1990s, Magik Markers, JD73, Buraka Som Sistema, Jah Shaka, Krafty Kuts, A.Skills, Annie Nightingale, JD Twitch & JG Wilkes, The Bays, Skeletons & The Kings Of All Cities, Correcto, Errors, Found, Neil Cowley Trio, Human Bell, Bass Clef, Kitchen Cynics, RememberRemember, Rustie Hudson, Mohawke, Mr Velcro Fastener, DJ Skurge, Harri & Domenic, Mungo’s Hi Fi, Messenger Soundsystem, Dirty Hospital DJs, Orgue Electronique, Four Corners DJs, Norman Blake (DJ Set), Miso DJs, Dee J A’la Fu, Funky Transport, Rub-A-Dub DJs, The Parsonage, David Shrigley (DJ Set), Gerard Love (DJ Set), Zilla / King Cannibal, Joe Acheson Quartet, Mweslee, Grant Campbell, Andrew Divine, Octogen, Sushil Dade, Copy Haho, Pastel DJs, Syntheme, Chris “Beans” Geddes, Paul Cawley, Laurence Hughes, Sace, Departure Lounge DJs, Kinky Afro.

Find out more and have a listen to some of the artists over at the Triptych website.

Pictures for you to look at

Posted: March 11th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

I got a new point-and-shoot digital camera for Xmas. I was always a little shutter-happy anyway (my Flickr page has far too many photos on it) but getting to grips with this one has meant a couple of day trips in 2008 already and it’s still winter.

Deep Marsh

Smoking Trees

Wollaton Park in Nottingham: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumlin/sets/72157604088758388/

Blanket

Rutland Water: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumlin/sets/72157604054833088/

L’Animaux Tryst Haunt 7″ Series #3: Lightning Strike Lightning

Posted: March 7th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

To kick off new-look diskant’s first record reviews for 2008, here’s the third in a set of three from a new year-long subscription-only series of twelve 7″s (in a limited edition of 300) from Maine, Portland’s fantastic new micro-label, L’Animaux Tryst. Coming out as three 7″s per season, these records form the first batch that came out late in 2007; the newest batch are just about to become available – for more information look here.

Lightning Strike Lightning are propelled through an echo chamber by Adrienne Heflich’s beautifully distant voice on the A-side of this 7″, entitled “The Moon”. Brad Rose of Digitalis called it his favourite 7″ of 2007, singling out the lyrics for special praise, but I’m damned if I can understand a word through this particularly pretty wash of understated percussion and what could well be a banjo providing melodic impetus. In the end, the song drifts out of rhythm into an unearthly but utterly enchanting fade-out of voices floating, calling through the cosmos to each other until they wink out like stars in the early-morning dawn.

Flip-side track “No You Won’t” floats slowly back in from the ether, with more indistinct vocals and what definitely is a banjo this time, buoyed by some severely-effected flute lines and a general sense of timelessness. It’s another minor beauty, and a wholly appropriate last side in this first batch of records, tying together similar approaches in terms of textures and ramshackle melodies, echoing gently through valleys of strummed chords and alien sounds. If this is the sound of Maine, Portland today then it’s extremely welcome in my Nottingham, UK home.

Again, a special note for the chipboard packaging, with silkscreened artwork overlaying a a photograph pasted onto the front. It’s simultaneously crude and beautiful; an apt introduction to the music contained within.

So there you have it: three 7″s making up the first of what promises to be an extremely lovely set of twelve records by the end of the year. Future 7″s will include contributions from such heavy hitters as The North Sea, GHQ and the heavenly Elephant Micah, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

The 7″ records are available together as the Autumn 2007 mailing of the Tryst Haunt series. To purchase the first bundle (for $24 USA, $28 Worldwide, postage paid), or to subscribe to the series for the full year ($75 US, $90 Worldwide, three records every three months, 12 records in all), visit http://www.lanimauxtryst.com/haunt.htm.

L’Animaux Tryst Haunt 7″ Series #2: Bad Bus/Tempera

Posted: March 7th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

To kick off new-look diskant’s first record reviews for 2008, here’s the second in a set of three from a new year-long subscription-only series of twelve 7″s (in a limited edition of 300) from Maine, Portland’s fantastic new micro-label, L’Animaux Tryst. Coming out as three 7″s per season, these records form the first batch that came out late in 2007; the newest batch are just about to become available – for more information look here.

I have no idea who Bad Bus are, apart from a description of an “all-star cast of Maine crazies” and a Myspace page, which features their track on this here split 7″, “The Field”. As you can hear, it’s a mild cacophony of fuzz, delayed vocals, clattering percussion and pump organs that fizz together until the most unlikely shambolic bass groove emerges from the clutter, hand-in-hand with a two chord organ drone. It’s a beguiling free-for-all jam that is undoubtedly an excerpt from a much-longer performance, of the kind that should be thoroughly celebrated. Check it out.

Tempera are another band from Maine with a Myspace page and a good line in songs with ridiculous numeric titles. Their offering on the flip side of this 7″ is “22222222222222222222222”, and again you can hear it on their page. I’ve got a real soft spot for this one, stuffed with twisted, pitch-altered sounds that whisper, scream and howl through a lo-fi motorik jam that floats in and out of the song’s floating structure. Female vocals float through the mix, melding themselves with other sounds before being swamped by some unholy pitch-shifting that somehow manages to convey that wandering-back-dead-drunk-at-2am state of mind, where you can see all the crazies and headcases, but somehow seem insulated through a layer of booze/whatever your substance of choice, and firmly set on your path homewards.

A special note for the unique packaging of this 7″, each one coming in a hand-stitched patchwork sleeve that conveys almost no information whatsoever about the contents beyond the band names. Like the music contained within, colours, patterns and styles randomly clash with each other, to create a beautifully ragged tapestry. Excellent stuff.

The 7″ records are available together as the Autumn 2007 mailing of the Tryst Haunt series. To purchase the first bundle (for $24 USA, $28 Worldwide, postage paid), or to subscribe to the series for the full year ($75 US, $90 Worldwide, three records every three months, 12 records in all), visit http://www.lanimauxtryst.com/haunt.htm.

L’Animaux Tryst Haunt 7″ Series #1: Cursillistas

Posted: March 7th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

Hi folks,

To kick off new-look diskant’s first record reviews for 2008, here’s the first in a set of three from a new year-long subscription-only series of twelve 7″s (in a limited edition of 300) from Maine, Portland’s fantastic new micro-label, L’Animaux Tryst. Coming out as three 7″s per season, these records form the first batch that came out late in 2007; the newest batch are just about to become available – for more information look here.

It’s appropriate that Cursillistas open up the first batch of this new series, as they effectively the house band: Matt who runs L’Animaux Tryst performs under the name of Cursillistas, and put out a fantastic album in CDR form on the ever-reliable Time-Lag Records a year or so ago that really, really needs reissuing for a wider audience soon.

This is the first material I’ve heard since that searing blaze of a full-length and the two tracks offered up here sound very much like a continuation of the unique sound captured earlier: echoey vocals with softly strummed guitars sing beautifully windswept songs with vague lyrics and harmonies, like snatches of the most perfect folk songs drifting in and out of hearing range on a long walk through rolling hills and dipping valleys. The A side, “Taste Teeth”, has a much stronger hook and only a slight introduction and undercurrent of distorted guitars and wind chimes swept together to create a broiling undercurrent for an otherwise elegiac song. The B side, “You Float, No Evens”, is a much looser affair, with indistinct layers of voices floating in and out of focus through a seasick chant. Don’t worry, it’s not enough to make you feel queasy, but the sense of unease such studied imperfection creates is masterful.

Cursillistas create a unique sound that is to be cherished, and this is a perfect introduction to Matt’s highly individual voice that serves as an excellent opener for an extremely high quality subscription series. It also works well as a primer for his newest full-length, “Wasp Stings The Last Bitter Flavor”, just out on Digitalis Recordings.

The 7″ records are available together as the Autumn 2007 mailing of the Tryst Haunt series. To purchase the first bundle (for $24 USA, $28 Worldwide, postage paid), or to subscribe to the series for the full year ($75 US, $90 Worldwide, three records every three months, 12 records in all), visit http://www.lanimauxtryst.com/haunt.htm.

.

Embittered yet humorous man offers joy through lo-resolution photographs

Posted: March 7th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

Sam McPheeters has a Flickr page full of his 0.33 megapixel cameraphone snaps. Here are 3 at random:

SMcP

Quaint Drive Vs. Obvious Roadrunner Gag

Satan Demands To Know Why You Thought You Could Trick Him

Watermelon Opts Out

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15087810@N02/

Commencement Address

Posted: March 3rd, 2008, by Daniel Robert Chapman

A week ago I was not a writer for Diskant and there was an earthquake. My name is Daniel Chapman and I am now a writer for Diskant and there have not been any more earthquakes here. The earthquake was initially very confusing. I feared that the roof of my attic flat was being blown in and so I got out of bed and surfed the floor for a while. When this novelty was over I opened my window to see if the street held any hints. One of the many rules one observes in Leeds Six is that people will come out onto the streets at the merest hint of an event, such as a fire or an earthquake or a power cut (although I think it’s nice that wherever you are in the world people will always gather to look at a fire; in lonely moments I’ve considered the advantage of arson as a way to meet people). I knew for certain it had been an earthquake when I heard a tremulous and youthful voice shout “I felt it all the way over on Ash Road!“  Now, Ash Road is well over a mile away and with no time to have made that journey the young man must have meant Ash Grove; normally I would find this unforgivable but in the circumstances I’ll allow that perhaps he forgot his geography under stress and was not just some witless student wanker who has never bothered to learn the names of the streets he lives on.

Last summer I wrote a fairly long article for a fanzine and swore it would be the last writing I ever did about music. This spring the prompting of Chris Summerlin and the indulgence of Marceline Smith has placed me in a position where I will have to write about music again but I still think I can stay true to the principle I had in mind. The particular moment which made me swear my frustrated oath was when, pen poised, I was about to describe what Sonic Youth sound like. The whole situation was ridiculous and I am anxious to avoid a repeat. Perhaps striving to that end can be a theme of my writing for Diskant, and my brutal failure a theme of your reading.

At the weekend I visited Newcastle for the preview of the Little Chops exhibition at the Star and Shadow Cinema. Although I have a thunderous bias in favour of one of the artists involved I feel confident that nobody visiting the show over the next week will feel nepotised at my hand. Interesting things are on display there in photography, drawing, Amy Winehouse’s hair, piss, film, and the floor. While in Newcastle I also was oblivious to a pub brawl and nearly run off the motorway by a fool. I regret that I did not fully investigate the radio panel with ‘snooze sensor’ in my hotel room.

I live in Leeds and I am twenty-seven years old and I hope to hit a stride to fit Diskant soon.