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Archive for June, 2008

CAPILLARY ACTION – So Embarrassing (CD, Pangaea Recordings)

Posted: June 30th, 2008, by Simon Minter

Capillary Action’s previous album, 2005’s Fragments, was a riotous mess of oh-so-hip angularity and pleasingly backward-looking progressive rock arrangements. So Embarrassing continues along similar lines and themes, crashing headlong into the forked crossroads of jazz and prog with eleven tracks even more deranged, confusing and inventive than ever.

Opener ‘Gambit’ sets the tone – being seemingly angular vocal-led guitar music, before breaking into screaming hard rock noise, introducing chamber music strings and then collapsing repeatedly on itself. It plunges into skipping, vocal harmonies, piling on more noise and, illogically, muted trumpet. Throughout the album one track falls indistinguishably into the other: before you know it, ‘Pocket Protection is Essential’ has appeared and turned proceedings into a Herbie Hancock-style jazz fusion odyssey. This music is so complicated that it must be scored and performed – surely it’s not dreamt up by a band unit? – it’s amazingly precise, and has the vibe of ‘trained musicianship’ all over. It’s generally melodic, but with considered atonality sprinkled liberally between tracks. If there’s a hit in here, it’s ‘Elevator Fuck’, a 1960s spy show theme tune turned uptight, with rolling melodies, xylophone and trumpet. The mid-song church organ break is followed by some outstanding fuzz synth repetition, and it’s a super-catchy piece.

Vocally, there’s a lot of Elvis Costello-style pronunciation in here; with some Robert Wyatt feeling to the precise, conversational lyrics. In fact, there is much of Soft Machine’s experiment circa Volume 1/Volume 2 at play, and late 60s/early 70s progressive rock seems more of an influence than the modern bands this superficially recalls (Battles, Don Caballero, Oxes and so on). Capillary Action use modern sounds and styles to further some kind of compositional dream. It’s almost too relentless in its inventiveness and chaos – at times, it threatens to be just too much (for example, the mariachi stylings of ‘Paperweights’ or the vocal style that can grate at times). All in all, however, things are held together. Moments like the heavy metal power chord action in ‘Bloody Nose’ and the vocal chant/drum ending to ‘Badlands’ quickly dissolve any doubts. An outfit like Capillary Action are always going to be too downright bizarre to be of mass interest – but that’s what they have going for them. This isn’t an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a surprisingly rewarding one.

Capillary Action
Pangaea Recordings

Summer catch-up: Places and events

Posted: June 30th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Gustav Klimt, Painting Design & Modern Life in Vienna – Tate Liverpool
A showcase event in Liverpool’s City of Culture calendar is the first major exhibition of Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt ever staged in the UK.  One of the most prominent members of the Vienna Art Nouveau movement, his major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by eroticism. The exhibition includes most of his major works and is presented alongside the work of the architect and designer Josef Hoffman, co founder of the Wiener Werkstatte and close friend of the artist. Hoffman’s extravagant interiors created for Klimt’s patrons compliment the gorgeous decorative paintings. If you like pretty things you will be attracted like a magpie to the work on show here. Hoffman expressed the ethos of the exhibition perfectly ‘It just isn’t enough to buy paintings. As long as our towns, our houses, our furniture, our clothes and our language and feelings do not reflect – elegantly and simply and beautifully the spirit of our own time we are living at a level far beneath that of our forefathers.’ Link [Mandy Williams]

I still love LONDON.  After the mistake that was the job on Baker Street, I now work in St John’s Wood around the corner from Abbey Road, I am continually finding new haunts and exciting things to do all across the capital. [JGram]

My House
Well, I’m certainly enjoying living in the house I bought with my other half recently. To hell with property prices spiralling all over the place; we’re happy and that’s that. [Simon Minter]

Wollaton Park, Nottingham
I have spent lots of time recently in the lovely Wollaton Park in Nottingham. A Council-owned beautiful stately home set in acres of lush meadows, lakes and with wild deer roaming free, it’s a blissful place to spend a weekday afternoon. Weekends are a bit more ice cream and screaming in summer but roll on winter when the deer are a bit more friendly and no one is around.  Photos. Also went up to sneak into Riber Castle (talking of Dead Man’s Shoes, the Shane Meadows film). [Chris Summerlin]

Any kind of open space with greenery is good enough for me these days. I hopped over to Belfast the other weekend and spent a trundling up and down the coast, which was suitably spectacular. [Dave Stockwell]

Baby McChesney
The birth of our child sometime in the next few weeks is likely to be the biggest event I’m likely to attend… well… ever.   I am excited and terrified in equal measure. [Alex McChesney]

Bangkok, Thailand
Thanks to the wonder of future scheduled posts, I can say HA HA, I’m in Thailand just now, shopping in the markets, swimming in the sea and stuffing myself with curry-filled pancakes and Mr Bun. How’s Glasgow? Is it raining? Just wondering…. [Marceline Smith]

LISA O PIU – Whisperers, Wavers, Hunters and Sailors (Single, Autumn Ferment Records)

Posted: June 30th, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

Ah, it’s nice to receive vinyl once in a while. This one comes from a new label that goes by the quietly sinister name of Autumn Ferment Records – Lisa O Piu marks their first release.

Lisa Issaksson is a Swedish singer/songwriter and with her band are known collectively as Lisa O Piu – the Swedish ‘piu’ roughly translating as ‘and more’ according to the press release. This release gives us two songs which both master the plain and darkly beautiful niche in the acoustic/folk genre. ‘Whisperers, Wavers, Hunters and Sailors’ is a brooding and melodious tune with just enough gleams of light in a dark and dense couple of minutes. The second track ‘Equatorial Changes’ is crammed full of delicate harmonies, gorgeous guitar picking and little else – the lily left ungilded in all its rough charm.

The general production (or lack of) is what makes this release really shine: stark and rugged, and with an unbeatably warm tone that you can only get from recording it on your 4-track as Lisa did. Good stuff; some great cover art designed by Lisa herself, and I look forward to any more Autumn Ferment releases. 

Pascal Ansell


Autumn Ferment Records

Summer catch-up: Zines

Posted: June 29th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Seminal Aquacade
Seminal Aquacade fanzine out of Leeds is a good old-fashioned paper zine featuring the writing skills of Diskant’s own Daniel Robert Chapman who provides a very eloquent rant against Patti Smith in the issue here, as well as an interview with No Age and Yorkie Paul’s Friday night party tape compilation too. [Chris Summerlin]

King Cat Classix
I recently indulged and bought the hardback edition of John Porcellino’s King Cat Classix, a collection of the highlights of the first 50 issues of his home-printed King-Cat comix. Dating back 25-odd years, it’s an incredibly affecting collection – you find yourself reading his development from teenager to 40 year-old one man and the progression of his attitudes to life. Plus the strip about his daydream of marrying Madonna (circa 1991) is absolutely hilarious. Totally essential stuff. [Dave Stockwell]

I still love VICE MAGAZINE, it can be so wrong and so right all at the same time.  Not that it faces much competition in this category. [JGram]

Net magazine
It’s supremely geeky but I’m very much enjoying getting Net magazine every month, these days. There’s nothing like keeping up with CSS, SEO, AJAX and XHTML technologies. Admit it, everybody, we’re all getting older and rock and roll alone isn’t enough any more. [Simon Minter]

Feral Debris
Feral Debris is another excellent paper zine out of Nottingham by Sian and Rich that features occasional scribbles and some forthcoming writing from myself as well. It also comes with a CDR that features “smoking jams” from the likes of Throuroof, Family Battle Snake, Robedoor, Nackt Insecten, Blue Sabbath Black Cheer and others in the current issue. It has a blog and a Myspace – like it was a young emo girl instead of a zine written about completely random stuff by a bunch of old folks who like to chat and watch horror films. [Chris Summerlin]

Geezers Need Excitement
The latest zine from my friend April, a UK-obsessed American who I’ve been swapping zines with since ye olde teen-c days, is a split travelogue between herself and her comedy script writer friend Chip. It’s a hilarious jaunt around England with the experienced tourist (April) showing round the newbie. It’s always fun to see your country through someone else’s eyes – they get over-excitable about the smallest of things and hook up with April’s celeb friends along the way. A quick, fun read. Get it on Etsy. [Marceline Smith]

The Wire
As always I am enjoying the writing of David Keenan in The Wire which will probably morph into a series of noises or interpretive dance over the next year judging from the trajectory so far. Or maybe you’ll open The Wire up and his latest primer will come at you in the form of a smell. [Chris Summerlin]

Summer catch-up: Television and radio

Posted: June 28th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Densha Otoko (Train Man)
I bought this off eBay thinking it was the film my sister saw on the plane to Japan last year but it turned out to be the TV series. The Japanese seem very big on extending everything until there is a manga, film, TV drama and anime. It’s the (based on a) true story of an otaku (geek) who stands up to a drunken man on a train who is harassing some women. The pretty girl sends him a thank you gift and Train Man posts on his geeky internet forum for advice on how to interact with her and get a date. Obviously, much hilarity ensues but it’s all very sweet and touching, and all the forum losers learn some valuable life lessons about interacting with your fellow humans. I’m only about half way through but I’m sure it’s all going to work out in the end and she’ll learn to love him and his hilariously nerdy manga obsessed friends for who they really are. Cue blubbing. Not that I’m not already blubbing enough just at the many shots of the JR rail network. I miss Japan! [Marceline Smith]

The Wire
I’m several series in now and waiting for the rest to arrive on DVD. It’s like The Sopranos but with more focus, street-smarts and endlessly cool characters and storylines. Bearing in mind that The Sopranos itself is absolutely outstanding, you can understand how highly I rate this show. [Simon Minter]

I Deal
Although in its fourth series I only discovered ‘I Deal’ this summer. A quirky and endearing little sitcom produced by BBC Comedy North and Baby Cow Productions (home to Gavin and Stacey and The Mighty Boosh). Johnny Vegas stars as small-time dope dealer Moz. Who lives in a Salford bedsit. The entire series takes place in his flat, the hall outside, his timid neighbour Judith’s flat, (Joanna Neary) It revolves around the eclectic array of recurring characters that come to visit Moz to buy cannabis, socialise or both. Moz is a likeable character  who sees himself as providing a crucial service to the community only dealing weed to a group of around 20 or 30 friends and acquaintances, who are a collection of oddballs and misfits. Players include Jenny the childminder (Sinead Matthews): One sandwich short of a picnic, she is dubbed Carol Laudanum by Moz’s character.  The most surreal character is Cartoon Head, who is really hard but always wears a cartoon mask and is flanked by sidekick Psycho Paul. Brian (Graham Duff), who also wrote the series, is a camp scally who has a different boyfriend every time he visits. PC (Tom Goodman-Hill) is Moz’s chief supplier, and is involved with his girlfriend Nikki (Nicola Reynolds.) A delightful cameo comes care of veteran comedian Mick Miller who plays Vegas’s absentee dad. He is always promising to bring his expectant son a big TV! Like Phoenix Nights the supporting characters are played by upcoming talent from across the north of England. As the hapless Moz Vegas cuts a Harold Steptoe like figure, you feel sorry for him. He uses pathos and gentle sarcasm brilliantly in a series chock full of surreal chaotic mayhem. Vegas used the analogy in defence of the subject matter of the show saying Steptoe and Son ‘certainly didn’t make you want to become a rag and bone man!’ [Mandy Williams]

The Apprentice / Hollyoaks
I got suckered into The Apprentice. I think it’s the lack of new Top Gear that’s doing it. Hollyoaks also. I only watch Hollyoaks to spot the one-weekly “Hollyoaks shoulder stare” where a character hugs another character but when they look over their shoulder their face gives away their true intentions. Heavy. My housemate ruined the next few weeks by sussing that Newt’s mate who eggs him on to violence is a figment of his imagination. Maybe the writers have been watching Dead Man’s Shoes? Enjoying the England-less European Championships as well. Today, we are all Dutch. [Chris Summerlin]

With LOST finished for the year and S5 of The Wire not due on DVD for a while, I found myself panicking. Srsly, I live for LOST. I’ve been getting up at 8am every Friday to download the latest episodes (I am self-employed btw, I can stay in bed all day if I like) and spent part of Friday evening at ATP watching LOST at Greg Kitten’s chalet. It’s possible I will have chewed my fingers off by the time February 2009 comes around so I need to find some televisual distraction that Amazon DVD rental can pump out at regular intervals and keep me sane. I tried Heroes first, after many recommendations, but found it totally lame in characterisation and storyline. I then turned to 24 which is much more to my liking. The storylines are completely ridiculous, yet so many things happen so fast that you never have much of a chance to pick at any plot holes; it all seems simultaneously predictable and surprising, and stupidly entertaining. Plus there’s like 8 seasons – that should keep me quiet for a while. [Marceline Smith]

Arrested Development / Trailer Park Boys / Japanorama
cheating again, I just can’t keep to one and it is thanks to torrents that ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT season three and every season of TRAILER PARK BOYS are making me laugh out loud.  Additionally downloads of JAPANORAMA fill me with glee and expand my horizons. [JGram]

Doctor Who
As an unreconstructed geek, Doctor Who is still the only tv programme I tune in for regularly.  This series seems to be following the pattern of the last – starting off with frothy, lightweight episodes and getting increasingly dark.  I just hope they don’t ruin the finale with anything as bad as last year’s “the Doctor as Jesus” nonsense. [Alex McChesney]

The Wire
If you don’t already know all about this series you really should do something about it, because it’s the television equivalent of heroin. It really does make me wonder if DVD boxsets were invented purely to allow you to mainline 3 or 4 (hour-long) episodes in a row. And this is coming from someone whose usual TV-watching schedule consists of switching the fucking thing off whenever I can. [Dave Stockwell]

Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour
The highlight of the week for me is Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour. Presented by, Elbow frontman and ‘all-round thinking woman’s beardy crumpet.’ The show is on Radio 6 at 10-12 on a Sunday night or listen again, and again and again.  Guy’s style is incredibly warm and intimate. He entertains with tales from his showbiz lifestyle and chats with up and coming artists such as Jesca Hoop and Emmy the Great. From Band of Horses to Ella Fitzgerald you wont find a better show on radio. He brings a musician’s taste to the playlist so it’s always an education but like listening to tunes with your mate too. The broad range of musical genres is in stark contrast to the usual mainstream offerings . Features include “Wasn’t Les Dawson Great?” His favourites include Ivor Cutler and Talk Talk. While his oracle Beccipedia tells us stuff ‘we need to know.’ Sometimes he even has his mum phone in to tell him to ‘have a couple of large brandies and make summat up.’ Curl up in bed with a hot drink and ease yourself into the working week in the best possible way. [Mandy Williams]

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Summer catch-up: Bands

Posted: June 27th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

My Bloody Valentine
By the time you read this I will have seen MY BLOODY VALENTINE three times and having been lucky enough to see their comeback show at the ICA I was literally floored by the revival flavour of the month.  They’re doing “Slow” and somehow they have managed to make “Soon” sound even better, which is something I previously thought unimaginable.  Earplugs are for wimps (and those with hearing). [JGram]

I can’t remember the last time I saw a band where you would never buy a record but could never forgive yourself if you missed the live show when they rolled into town. At the Rose for England gig in  Nottingham they started their set by setting their drums on fire and finished by playing on the shelf above the bar. Absolutely bonkers. [Dave Stockwell]

The Night Marchers / Obits / Monotonix
Digging the post-Hot Snakes bands The Night Marchers and Obits a lot right now. The Night Marchers are far less immediate than Hot Snakes or even Rocket From The Crypt but reveal a more subtle, tuneful, hell – soulful side to things. Obits are awesome, matching Rick Froberg’s hoarse yelp to Creedence-esque riff-jams that bop along to the listener’s total satisfaction. Also liking new sounds by Broken Arm, Mob Rules, Helm, Awesome Color, Zun Zun Egui as well as some old sounds from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bo Diddley, Flower Travellin’ Band, Jimi Hendrix… Monotonix live were also an event that I cannot recommend highly enough. [Chris Summerlin]

London 3-piece Please played an immense set in Oxford earlier this year; tribal riffs + messy Lightning Bolt-style yelps = MASSIVE TUNES. [Pascal Ansell]

Icebreaker International
Pretty much the only bonus of all the diskant reformatting work was re-reading some of the excellent and hilarious content from years long gone, and digging out the records for another listen. Icebreaker International are still one of my favourite interviewees – we went into it not having a clue about how much of what they claimed was truth and how much was audaciously ridiculous nonsense, and left in pretty much the same state. Their second album, Trein Maersk, was supposedly recorded on a container ship travelling between Yokohama and Halifax and is probably the only real musical documentation of globalisation. I’m a total sucker for lies, manifestos, uniforms and instrumental electro-pop so of course I love this. Sadly they never did much else after this and now seem to have parted company. Alexander Perls now writes Europop chart hits for a number of faceless acts. It seems right somehow. [Marceline Smith]

Shield Your Eyes
Very, very loud and very, very lo-fi brainchild of hairy maverick Steph Ketteringham (see Candles, Guns or Knives). Because I’m a lazy bastard, I’ll copy from my earlier review of them: “riotous, colossal noise… SYE employ the warped, reversible structures of Hella with the crunchy lo-fi sound of Lightning Bolt… Stef is an absolute maestro, teasing out grimy squeals with intricate fingerpicks and uplifting riffs aplenty” (Nightshift). Myspace. [Pascal Ansell]

Hot Club De Paris
Hot Club De Paris are only in their mid twenties but are at the core of Liverpool’s ever burgeoning musical output and exhibit an indefinable sound. If you had to try you might describe their work as two-minute tracks of elaborate quick-fire pop punk with American math rock tendencies, quirky barbershop style lyrics and racing harmonies. Their narratives often consist of surreal analogies and odes to inanimate objects.  HCDP are currently at the end of a nationwide tour promoting their second album ‘Live at Dead Lake.’ which was recorded in Chicago. From it comes the best song about a piece of masonry ever written, the single ‘Hey! Housebrick.’ Both are released on Moshi Moshi.  Highlights of the album include ‘Mr Demolition Ball’ with Soweto inspired instrumentation and lyrics as incisive as Billy Bragg, with odd stop start arrangements and chord progressions of the ilk of Field Music. ‘My Little Haunting.’  Is a ghostly tale ‘why do you wear these clean white sheets,’ their singer Paul Rafferty inquires. Imagine the scene, the suit of armour in the corridor; a skeleton tumbles down the stairs through cobwebs and over banisters – wooo hoo, spooky! ‘Boy Awaits Return Of The Runaway Girl,’ is about the boy with big ideas who sold them all for pizza and weed. Rafferty’s chanty chorus leapfrogs the fidgety guitars and tinkly keys. The two-minute tracks flow really well into one another and before you know it you’ve spent an enjoyable half hour getting re-acquainted with Liverpool’s hottest export. [Mandy Williams]

Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element
Because fuck it, it’s my band and we’ve got new product to sell. [Simon Minter]

diskant rewind: Bargain Bin Culture #7

Posted: June 27th, 2008, by Wil Forbis

(Originally posted October 2002)

Bargain Bin Culture by Wil Forbis

Slowly, I lifted my third gin and tonic of the evening to my lips and took a deep sip.

It went down smooth, but couldn’t chase away the bitterness and resentment I was feeling. After three years as the chief record purchaser for McRainey’s Rock and Roll records, I’d been let go. I’d been replaced with a machine. The Xoltan 3000, a device that could give the blue book value of a record within three seconds, with an accompanying printout listing the musicians who played on the album cross referenced against their favorite groupies. It was a mechanical horror that didn’t take coffee
breaks, didn’t ask for raises and didn’t tell the customers they looked like a leftover squash that had been left to sit in the sun for three days and then sprinkled with acne. It had been with a swift boot that McRainey had shown me the door.

What was I to do? Records were my life. And truth be told, I had no other skills. I couldn’t mix an espresso, but I could tell you who played bass for the progressive blues band, Camel. (Dave Ferguson) I couldn’t deliver a pizza but I knew that Kansas guitarist Steve Morse had a career as an airline pilot. I was doomed!

Suddenly a strong hand gripped my shoulder. “Snap out of it, soldier!” a manly voice
commanded, and I turned to face a portly woman with a three o’ clock shadow,
dressed in the military greens. Several high ranking Army types stood behind her. “Your country needs you!”

Continue reading »

Summer catch-up: Video games

Posted: June 26th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Geometry Wars: Galaxies / Super Mario Galaxy
Geometry Wars: Galaxies is sitting in my DS just now.  I’ve never played the 360 original so cannot compare it, but I’m finding it hugely enjoyable and the control scheme (move on the d-pad, fire with the stylus) works much better that I thought it would.  The DS needs more 2D shooters, so it’s a welcome addition to the library, and great for a lengthy session or a quick five-minute blast.  Also, Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii is a thing of pure joy, and more than makes up for last-gen’s disappointing Mario Sunshine. [Alex McChesney]

Mario Kart Advance / Tamagotchi Corner Shop 2
Having given up on the Phantom Hourglass for the moment due to RSI/intelligence issues, I have been turning to Mario Kart for some quick amusement. It somehow manages to take all the good bits of the Mario Kart series and none of the awful bits and yet be unimpressive. Still, any Mario Kart is better than no Mario Kart so I am still enjoying myself. I can only play one cup at a time though as the button combinations on the DS send your hands into painful cramps after about 45 seconds of play. I also enjoy playing the Sushi Bar shop in Tamagotchi Corner Shop 2, where you have to assemble and dish up the correct sushi and snacks to an endless stream of demanding monsters. The highlight is adding wasabi which has a sound effect that goes WAAAsabi! I can play this for hours. [Marceline Smith]

Coaster Rush 3D
I’m not much of a computer game player these days, but I did get Coaster Rush 3D for my mobile phone recently and it’s a whole lot of fun. Streets ahead of the older, 2D Coaster Rush. Is this too much of a specific niche of computer game? [Simon Minter]

Guitar Hero
I bought my parents a Wii a couple of weekends ago and the old biddies won’t let me on it yet.  Fortunately however my friend has introduced me to the wonders of GUITAR HERO and the appeal is just so obvious.  I rocked first time round with Sunshine Of Your Love but completely lost the crowd attempting Kool Thing.  Embarassingly though I regained face with Even Flow by Pearl Jam, if that is possible. [JGram]

I have never ever had an interest in computer games. Sorry! Video.  [Chris Summerlin]

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Summer catch-up: Films

Posted: June 25th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

What the diskant team have been watching this Summer.

Jandek On Corwood
Now on DVD is the by-now quite old documentary Jandek On Corwood. Although it means putting up with yet more American talking heads who insist on phrasing everything they say like a question, it’s a remarkably gripping film made with very little source material save for the aforementioned interviews. I can take or leave most of Jandek’s music and I have my own theories about what’s behind it but the documentary is incredibly watchable even for people who aren’t fans. Video 1 | Video 2. [Chris Summerlin]

In Search of a Midnight Kiss
In the same week that I took a lucky lady (ho ho) to the SEX AND THE CITY movie I really liked IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS, which I instead found myself watching on my own.  I am officially becoming more soppy with age as my demographic appears more lovelorn than ever but can still manage to be so in a cool, black and white way that is sharper and spikier than those two drips in Before Sunrise ever got. [JGram]

Blades of Glory
When I saw it recently at ATP I genuinely thought it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I like it when that happens. [Simon Minter]

Joy Division
Written by Jon Savage, who reviewed ‘Unknown Pleasures’ in 1979 this is the story of the Manchester band whose music captured the post-industrial world of the late 70s and features all surviving protagonists. The grimness of their urban reality is captured via archive footage of high-rise flats that developed ‘concrete cancer.’ Bernard Sumner met Peter Hook in Salford and the story of the band really begins when they paid 50p for the legendary Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall and the ‘exciting mess,’ inspired them. Soon Ian Curtis answered an advert and Stephen Morris became their drummer. The film documents the transition from their early outings as Warsaw and their name change to that of the Nazi brothel. It details Gretton’s management, their signing with Factory. Peter Saville discusses the bleak cover art and on the road stories are interspersed with live performance footage. Throughout the film the lyrics to tracks such as ‘Digital’ and ‘Dead Souls’ are emblazoned on the screen as you are delivered to places such as The Electric Circus, their rehearsal rooms and the Russell Club, first home of Factory. Personal viewpoints come from Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P. Orridge, Paul Morley, Anton Corbijn and Belgian journalist Annik Honoré who speaks for the first time about her relationship with Curtis. This documentary is at times laugh out loud funny. Darker moments are Curtis’s struggle with epilepsy, and the bands guilt about not realising his intent. The film briefly touches on their rebirth as New Order after this tragic event.  This will appeal to people who are Joy Division fans as unlike ‘Control,’ it tells the true story rather than the printed legend. It is all acutely real, depicted in technicolour thirty years on.  ‘The thing is, it was all very easy,’ says Hooky. ‘It only got difficult after he died.’ [Mandy Williams]

No Country For Old Men
I always say this but I don’t like watching films. That said, No Country For Old Men blew me away despute being a tense and unrewarding cinema-going experience thanks to the crowd as per normal. It’s just out on DVD so I will be picking through the details again in the comfort of my own home. Video. [Chris Summerlin]

Rambo / Cloverfield / Indiana Jones / Iron Man
For some reason I’ve really been missing out on any kind of ‘credible’ or ‘art house’ films at the cinema this year – I think Persepolis is the only thing I could be bothered with. But then I’ve also had a great time switching off my brain and revelling in the awful spectacles of Rambo (brilliantly bloody), Cloverfield (gets better with every annoying castmember offed) and Indiana Jones Checks Into The Retirement Home (flashes of brilliance, long yawning stretches of Lucas-inspired drivel). I even saw Iron Man the other week and it was pretty good in places (read as: Robert Downey Jr made the film), if annoyingly transparent in its attempts to set up yet another ‘franchise’. [Dave Stockwell]

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Summer catch-up: Books

Posted: June 24th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Daniel Radosh: Rapture Ready! – Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture.
I’ve always been partial to the writing of occasional New Yorker scribe and cultural critic Daniel Radosh ever since he penned some complimentary words about my website acidlogic.com.  My ears perked up when I discovered he’d written an analysis of the under discussed topic of Christian Pop culture in America.  I was particularly curious as to whether he could answer a long-running question of mine: why is Christian rock music so lame? Radosh does tackle that query (and actually points to some Christian rock that is really quite good) and surveys the totality of the modern Christian pop movement.  Those who view fundamentalists and evangelists* as part of a monolithic movement walking lockstep with itself will be surprised: there’s a lot of debate within Christianity itself as to how far it should embrace secular fetishes like television, comedy, rock music and wrestling to spread the gospel.  Radosh, a non-Orthodox jew bordering (in my opinion) on atheism, talks to Christians across the political spectrum and gives them a fair chance to express their beliefs while not being afraid to challenge them on points he deems questionable.  I found Radosh’s final conclusions on how the Christian and secular world can work to better understand each other a little murky, but that’s more due to the magnitude of this topic.  No doubt more books will be written exploring this subject in the coming years, but Radosh deserves praise for being one of the first through the gate.
* There is a difference between the two.  Read the book to find out what. [Wil Forbis]

Wil Forbis – Acid Logic
That would have to be Wil Forbis’ compendium of articles and columns. Truly great stuff, regardless of his exalted diskant friend status. His writing reminds me that there is real value in encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and obscure things. He’s got that in bucketloads, along with a whole lot of style and inventiveness. [Simon Minter]

Slash – The Autobiography
Slash’s autobiography is an entertaining and often hilarious read. Value for money is low as I defy anyone to not plough through this in a couple of days it’s so unputdownable. The part where he runs naked through a plate glass shower door and out onto a golf course because he thinks tiny versions of the alien from the film Predator are attacking him is worth the cost of the book alone. Video.  [Chris Summerlin]

Daniel J Levitin – This Is Your Brain On Music
What is music? Why do we perceive certain collections of sounds to be musical and others not?   “This Is Your Brain On Music” attempts to answer these and other questions.  Levitin is a neuroscientist, but also an accomplished musician (and music fan), and handles the topic in an accessible and entertaining fashion without dumbing down the science. [Alex McChesney]

Al Burian – Natural Disaster / Wil Forbis – Acid Logic
Natural Disaster is the second volume collecting back issues of Al Burian’s zines – I got this a while ago but had to save it for my next holiday as it really is the best way to enjoy Burian. As expected, I pretty much devoured the whole thing on a 5 hour train journey to London last month. He’s a dangerous man, making a life of breadline loserdom, working in copy shops and hitching around the world sound like a totally awesome way to live. The chapter on the power of the non-stop party wagon to lead you on a fulfilling journey of crazy once-in-a-lifetime experiences is temptation itself. The whole book is hilariously funny and yet punctuated by some honest and thought-provoking incidents that round it out perfectly. It’s not unlike our own Wil Forbis’ excellent book, where absurd humour and outrageous claims only partly disguise his wealth of knowledge about underground culture. It’s your summer reading all sorted, right here. [Marceline Smith]

John Fante – Wait Until Spring, Bandini
I recently finished my first experience of John Fante, with his first book, “Wait Until Spring, Bandini.” You can really see the influence he had on Bukowski, but Fante’s style is so much more poetic, even when describing the most grinding of poverty and the basest emotions of men. Definitely worth investigating, if you can bear it. [Dave Stockwell]

The Damned Utd by David Peace
People have mocked and scoffed at me for reading this, referring to it as “your little Brian Clough book” but this is a truly crisp, albeit fictional, account of what it is to be an individual in management when working against your bosses, peers and colleagues.  Now why would this theme appeal to me I wonder????? [JGram]

Nabokov, The American Years – Brian Boyd
A fascinating insight into the author of Lolita, Pnin and Pale Fire. Includes details of how he sourced Lolita’s appearance and education, his hard-work ethic, frighteningly superior acumen and comic peculiarities. There is a great passage in the biography of how he collected bits and pieces which grew into one of his greatest characters, Lolita: ‘he took “one arm of a little girl who used to come and see Dmitri [Nabokov’s son], one kneecap of another”. He visited a school principal on the pretext of placing his little daughter.’ Probably not the most exciting read for a non-Nabokov fan, but for me this is massively interested as ‘Lolita’ is one of my favourite novels, and Nabokov one of my favourite writers. [Pascal Ansell]

Stuart Maconie – Pies and Prejudice
A love letter to the North from Britain’s treasure; It begins at Crewe station, where dinner is at midday, but is Burnley really the new Seattle? Following on from his rock memoir ‘Cider With Roadies’ Maconie gives us another pun based offering. Now Maconie writes a travelogue. He speaks as an exile, a Wiganer who considers supper to be a meal of milk and digestives eaten in a dressing gown but who now keeps his sun dried tomatoes by the cappuccino maker. Seeking to challenge regional stereotypes he rediscovers his own identity by taking a great train journey through Harrogate and Saddleworth taking in Wigan Pier and Blackpool Tower on the way. A whistle stop tour of the beautiful South leads him to the harder North of ‘soul, lights and rock,’ a landscape that changes at Crewe Station, where the ‘tarmac turns to cobbles. Maconie devotes large chapters to definitive Northern cities such as Liverpool, the ‘pool of life’ with its musical legacy and the Parthenon-esque St Georges Hall. Manchester ‘has fancied itself rotten for as long as anyone can remember,’ is home to Mark E. Smith, ‘the northern white crap that talks back.’ He writes of its blood red fiercely leftist past, and Working Class Movement Library in Salford. In a chapter about Lancashire dubbed, ‘Mills and Bhuna,’ the virtues of George Katsouris’s deli and Bury’s legendary black pudding are extolled. Wigan’s pie lovers hang out at Alan’s bike shop. Yorkshire gives us brass bands, and the Sheffield of Joe and Jarvis cocker. Leodensians include the old guard such as Freddie Trueman and Alan Bennett and new bands such as Forward Russia and the Kaiser Chiefs. While blue sky thinking from the late Tony Wilson led him to declare Burnley to be the new Seattle! The North of the screen from George Formby to Albert Finney is described with enthusiasm. Blackpool is The ‘Las Vegas of Europe and the Great North includes the architecture of Grey Street while Maconie’s love of the Lake District is touched on in loving odes to the Cumbrian Mountains. If you are on familiar terms with Greggs the bakers or rugby league you may see yourself somewhere within these pages. It’s nostalgic yet faithful to its subject matter and written with wit and passion. The author may have trouble working up the enthusiasm for a store cupboard snog with anyone who doesn’t love kitchen sink drama but he has clearly fallen in love with an entire region. [Mandy Williams]

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