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Archive for May, 2008

MERCHANDISE – ‘Sometimes’ (7″, Cityscape Records)

Posted: May 26th, 2008, by Simon Minter

The good folks at Cityscape sent me a marvellous panoply of things to do with this release – not only a nice-looking snow-white 7″, but a CD, DVD containing the ‘Sometimes’ video and even a badge. So they’re already scoring high on generosity alone. Not that I can be bought, of course. Merchandise releases gone by have twinned low-fi ‘knowing loser’ pop with subtle electronica, but on ‘Sometimes’ it’s as simple a format as can be: plinky-plonk piano and sweet-hearted lyrics skipping along over a relaxed, summer-in-the-park arrangement of walking bassline and brushed drums. It’s all very cute, innocent and likeable, akin to a Badly Drawn Boy whose face you do not wish to smash in. B-side ‘Glitterati’ follows in a very similar vein, with fresh-feeling music and a vocal delivery that leans over Pulp’s garden fence. This isn’t a record for the cynics or noisemongers amongst you, but there must be some pop fans left out there?


GUSHPANKA – ‘Gushpanka’ (Apart Records)

Posted: May 24th, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

Contemporary jazz is a horrendously difficult goat to reign in. The cerebral, ‘difficult’ nature of many modern players I’ve come across means that trying to make any sense of it nigh-on impossible, the whiff of academia too overpowering. I’ve moaned before of newer jazz that seems “relentlessly modern… cold and unfeeling”. Yet all has changed, you’ll be pant-wettingly excited to read. After slotting itself through the letterbox, the self-titled album from Swedish jazz quartet Gushpanka has embedded itself in my noggin with its thoroughly addictive and tuneful melodies. 

The Gushpanka modus operandi revolves around the “belief in the timeless power of melody and rhythm”. Bingo! The word ‘gushpanka’ is an old Aramaic word meaning ‘approval’ or ‘seal’; Sweden, Finland and Israel all come under the band’s cloak. With piano, sax, bass and drums, the general mood of their debut album is nothing but friendly, and more importantly, tuneful!

‘Counter reset’ (along with the whole album) gains from multiple listens – an intelligent and dynamic piece, not without warmth or melody. A brilliant break-down mid-way through the piece is the album’s peak: gusty pumping from saxophonist Jonas Knutsson – outrageous pangs and slaps, brilliantly playful invention. Knutsson is impressive throughout the album, retaining a wonderfully clear and crisp tone. An addictive, rambling and meandering motif kicks off ‘Algo-rhythm’ – this is ace modern jazz! Complicated, dynamic, but, thankfully, tuneful! 

Even after many, many listens, there are still plenty to explore in ‘Gushpanka’ – a remarkable album of original compositions with tons of depth. It’s endlessly diverse: ballads, songs bordering on free-jazz, pumped-up rhythmic pieces… An aural joy for tired-out modern ears. 

Pascal Ansell


Like Pie? Support pie-throwers!

Posted: May 22nd, 2008, by Stan Tontas

Diskant likes pie. This New York Times columnist doesn’t like pie as much as he likes rich people. And wars. He’s boring. This video is the best thing he’s ever been (inadvertently) involved with:[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=sv6nvMUq10U[/youtube]

Apparently the pastry-wielding prankster in the video is facing expulsion from their university. Online petitions don’t amount to much more than a biscuit, but, hey, a University’s more likely to listen than a government, so why not sign this in support of the pie-thrower.

Radio 3: music for the sake of music

Posted: May 16th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

Heard on the radio earlier today the controller of Radio 3, being told off for declining audience figures. One of the questions was “so as the audience for European classical music declines, you’re happy for your audience to decline?”

The guy’s in an impossible position, between conservative classical fans and market-led demands for a more popular approach. One says: “how dare you play that pop classic rubbish”, the other: “how dare you play that tuneless modern rubbish”. But both of those miss why Radio 3 is important.

The charge laid against classical music is usually that it’s elitist, but that’s doesn’t apply to Radio 3. It costs you nothing to listen to full-length works, that’s equality of access to anyone with a radio. Curious about the appeal of Wagner, Stockhausen, Beethoven but can’t afford to buy? Catch Radio 3 at the right time and you can satisfy your ears. That’s what is important about Radio 3 and it doesn’t apply only to “classical” but also “difficult” (i.e. pretty wild) modern composition, jazz of various stripes, “world” (yuk) music (a multitude of sins, some very pleasurable) and most everything else.

You hear things on Radio 3 that would never get near a commercial radio station and that’s what people who love music should value above all else, whether it’s their thing or not. We don’t have John Peel any more and you can’t stumble upon musical genius online. What we can do is celebrate radio stations that still have space for music for its own sake. Give Radio 3 the credit it deserves.

The Quarter After

Posted: May 11th, 2008, by Simon Minter


Proof that Brian Jonestown Massacre aren’t the only band in LA still livin’ like it’s 1968, here are The Quarter After, who have just released their second album Changes Near. Yes, yes, you’ve heard this sound before, many times. But is anything really new any more? And isn’t it the case that there’s something about the jangling, hazy West Coast psychedelic sounds of bands like Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds that will never cease to please, especially when it’s pulled off with this degree of finesse and authenticity? Changes Near takes its lead from those bands, and mixes in a heady cloud of mid-period Ride squall, which for me brings it out in front of sheeny mid-80s psych revivalists like Rain Parade or Plasticland into a stranger, darker place – and psychedelia always works better with an undercurrent of anxiety. Not that this is a hellish trip – anything but. The darkness is balanced with twangy country-style jaunts, and as a whole the album is good enough to be more than the sum of its influences. It’s an album that could only, realistically, have come out of LA. Pass the patchouli.


Posted: May 9th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

I reprinted all my posters:


and did some limited prints of some of the illustrations I’ve done for Plan B.

Slight price increase to £5 each for the posters or any 3 for £12 (Plus postage)







Pop Culture, Trash Cinema and Rebel Music

Posted: May 8th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Exciting news everyone – the one and only Wil Forbis has published a book! diskant oldsters will remember Wil who wrote a hilarious series of review columns for the now-defunct diskant zine on the bargain bins of the USA and also did a great interview with comic artist James Olsen which you can read here. He also runs the awesome Acid Logic webzine which kept me entertained through a number of boring jobs.

Anyway, you can go purchase Acid Logic: A Decade of Humorous Writing on Pop Culture, Trash Cinema and Rebel Music on Amazon for remarkably cheap prices so get on it. Hopefully some of Wil’s columns will make it into the exciting diskant 10 year FUN we are currently planning. More news on that SOON.

Like mother like son

Posted: May 7th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

Enjoying the spectacle of Michel Houellebecq’s Ma giving him a well-deserved literary smacking over his treatment of her in his over-rated softcore whinefest Atomised. (Though it’s unfortunate that the interview ends with the same cod-psychoanalytic drivel that characterises H’s work…)

In Standard Grade English classes, we had to put together a portfolio of creative writing. All the teenage boys included a story set in the future with an introduction that talked about the present but written in the past tense. I was amazed, on picking up this well-reviewed French literary sensation, to find that it began with the exact same “trick”. How come when we did it was clumsy and adolescent but this guy was acclaimed for his stylistic conceit?

But his work is thoroughly adolescent. Consider the novel’s main features: a relentless nihilism and a contempt for women based on almost complete ignorance of them as people. I don’t anyone who hasn’t grown out of that. (But then the number of successful novelists I know is low…)

Your man makes a fortune from middle-aged, middle-class angst on the back of a generalised backlash against feminism, sexual liberation and other concrete gains of the 1960s. Goes on to cement his reactionary politics and market niche by fulminating against Islam (this turns out to also be a way of lashing out at his mother).

In summary, Houellebecq’s book is good for nothing but wallowing in masturbatory self-loathing; his celebrity was his fortunate tapping into now-rising political trends; and a plague on all middle-aged, middle-class Brit lit-critics for fawning over poorly-written reactionary bile with the appearance of daring.

40 years after the near-revolution of May 68 we have an entrenched liberal elite repainting the Paris evenements (‘scuse spelling) as being solely about sex (cf. The Dreamers) versus a reactionary right happy to take advantage of the social gains while snarling (a la Sarkozy) about it being the source of all evil in the world.

I’m with the Situationists on this one. All power to the imagination!

The task of the various branches of knowledge that are in the process of developing spectacular thought is to justify an unjustifable society and to establish a general science of false consciousness. This thought is totally conditioned by the fact that it cannot recognise, and does not want to recognise, its own material dependence on the spectacular system.

For music fans, by (alcohol drinking) music fans.

Posted: May 2nd, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Further to our cynical Triptych post below, the successor – Tennents Mutual – has now been launched. Providing you are of alcohol drinking age*, you can help “devise and programme a series of live shows in Scotland in October / November this year”; from what bands get to play, which venues (presumably only ones that sell Tennents) and even which bank gets to sponsor the event. Hasn’t this been done already (ATP etc.) with increasingly obvious choices? The fact that Belle and Sebastian are ruling the board at present is so inevitable, it’s almost funny. Anyway, if you sign up before 30 June, you too can add your votes and suggest new bands for everyone else to vote for. Get to it!

*If you’re under 18 you can’t even LOOK at the website, lest you be driven to underage drinking. Let alone go to any of the gigs. Exactly why is sponsorship of live music by makers of alcohol a good thing?