diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

Archive for October, 2008

diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #16

Posted: October 17th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted April 2003)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

This week, or month, or year, or however often I do these columns during brief moments of lucidity and calm, I’ll be approaching the affair in an altogether orthodox way. I have a pile of things to review. I’m going to review them. You will read the reviews. Your life will become better by an insignificant margin. My review pile is made up of actual things which people have sent for review, so who knows what might happen over the course of this column? Snap judgements? Rash decisions based on a first listen? Hell yeah! I’m never gonna land that choice reviewer’s job on the NME if I think about what I’m writing logically and rationally, am I?

EP 5-track CD
This is one o’those oh-so-modern CDs with a silver side and a black side, like you get with Playstation games. Modern technology, huh? Next you’ll be telling me that they can record sound onto thin strips of magnetic ribbon. Anyway. This is a very well-recorded, cut crystal set of songs which roughly exist in the 50% “melodic epic indie” (Coldplay, James et al) + 50% “slightly odd noisy pop” (more recent Flaming Lips, Grandaddy etc) brackets. To me, personally, this means that it is unfortunately 50% “slightly annoying” as my tastes tend to fall into more skewed and bizarre brackets these days. However, I am in full appreciation of the care and attention with which this has been put together, which makes me realise that the band aren’t just some random chances who are playing at music. Self-belief is always refreshing to see in today’s climate of cynical and manipulated/manipulative bands.

Introduction to Minute Melodies CD album
Awkward Records AWKWARD 005
Hmm strange one this, thirty one-minute long songs/compositions which I entirely imagine to have been created by a strange loner sitting in a dark room at a computer and giggling to himself. The album takes us through a series of somewhat frustrating and aggravating ‘sound sketches’ (and hey, you can use that phrase if you like), taking in hallucinogenically-enhanced children’s television show themes, cod-hip-hop, sub-musique concrete word poems and general ‘ho ho I’m so funny’ experiments with samples and sound effects. It all sounds like it’s been created with a sustained blast of ‘messing around with my new music software and seeing what happens’. Over thirty tracks, despite their short nature, I’m afraid to say it gets kind of grating, and makes me that the album has been created for self-amusement rather than as any kind of grand musical statement. But I’m in two minds about whether that’s actually a bad thing or not…

Continue reading »

MAPS AND ATLASES – Mini Live Review + Wee Interview – Brudenell Social Club, 30th Oct 08

Posted: October 16th, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

There’s always been a problem with bands trying to find a tuneful middle-ground between math-y technical instrumentation and vocals. Maps and Atlases provide a welcome solution to this problem – solving the other dilemma that is: sounding how you want to sound (even if this happens to be pretty technical and complicated) and not resembling a contrived mess.

Singer/guitarist Dave Davison has no problem with the term ‘math-rock’ in particular, but these pigeonholes will always be clumsy. It may be that when a band aims to sound like a pigeonhole that they trip over their pansy wee skinny jeans. May very well be.

Davison sports the true mark of any dedicated and humble guitarist: massive nails on his right hand. Respect! If you get the chance to speak to him after a gig, test his English accent; pretty impressive considering M&A hail from Chicago. And that of course most Americans of course are thickos. Anybody would be pretty chuffed with a city that bears such names as Shellac, Wilco, The Smashing Pumpkins, Patti Smashing, Volcano and Fall Out Boy (…). The Big D believes that, like any other city, many bands never make much of an impression elsewhere and simply end up with a respectable fanbase in Chicago. There are probably a good handful of bands that don’t make it across the Atlantic that are kept in a little jar for the little Window City dwellers to feast upon. Probably.

M&A are an interesting – and relaxing – band to spy: chilled out and at ease, with the odd look homeward to the incredibly skilled drummer Chris Hainey. Like with Don Caballero, Hella and the many other ‘mathy’ bands that M&A draw influence from, drums are integral to their workings of this particular breed of band. There is a genuinely chuffed grin on Davison’s face as an encore is noisily suggested by a good chunk of the sweaty Brudenell regulars – and nono you’re right Mr Diskant surfingman, you just can’t beat that.


Pascal Ansell

Ten Tracks

Posted: October 14th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

I like this idea. Ten hand-picked MP3s for £1, with new sets available monthly. Licensed by MCPS-PRS so the bands get paid but DRM free so the listeners aren’t getting a crap deal instead. Partnered with Scotland’s free arts paper The Skinny and currently featuring a set of tunes picked by Optimo so it’s checking all the local hipster buttons too. Swishy iTunes style website. AND they have a track by diskant faves Findo Gask.

It seems so rare these days to see a good idea in the music business that isn’t ripping people off or making a quick buck or getting sued by the RIAA. I wish them the best of luck.


diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #15

Posted: October 14th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted December 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

Ah, hello again everybody. I hope this finds you all in good health and in good spirits, and not with a sore thumb like I’ve got, after accidentally stabbing myself with a scalpel earlier on. So you’ll be expecting a column, I presume? Well, here you go. I’m going to break with convention this time and do one in the most straightforward way possible – yes, this is going to be a list of reviews, and nothing else besides! You see, I have a few things here which I am obliged or feel compelled to write about, and in either instance I know that I’ll feel bad if I don’t write about them. Being the logical creature that I am, I’ve put them in a pile in front of me and will be going through them one by one, reminding myself of each of them one by one, and telling you about them one by one. That is, if my damned CD player ever realises there’s a CD in it, rather than spinning aimlessly and forcing me to try out all kinds of stop/start/skip-track trickery in order to get it to play.

CD single
Not exactly sure what this is, as the (rather attractive) packaging has no mention of artist, songs, names, anything. It turned up with a note from Marceline along the lines of “the one with the nice packaging is Lemon Jelly, one of those electronic bands”. I suspected I heard the Lemon Jelly name before, and in the back of my mind seemed to remember them as a horrendously ‘accessible’ trip-hop-dance-lite kind of outfit. And lo, I was right! For shatter my knees if this isn’t a god-awful trio of tracks which in no way challenge, add to, upset, make you think about, or reinforce one’s interest in the musical landscape WHATSOEVER. Rather attractive packaging, though. Anybody want it? My CD player’s just refused to carry on playing it!

Full tar
CD single
A taster of what’s to come on their album (more of which later…), ‘Full tar’ is an Econoline pop song, with catchy melody lines dipping their toes in and out of grimier, noisier waters. Great drums too, sounding like they were recorded at the bottom of a giant oil drum. Like all good pop songs it’s over in around two and a half minutes, leaving you wanting more and – were it not for the aforementioned album – scrabbling around for old Superchunk and Boyracer records. The two other tracks here, I presume, showcase the ‘other sides of Econoline’, being a slower, slightly introspective sort of tune and a fuzzy lo-fi recorded-at-home alternative-version sort of tune (the latter being a bit too much along the Graham Coxon intentionally reduced quality line for me…)

Continue reading »

diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #14

Posted: October 10th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted October 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

So hey yeah, there’s been a lot of great movies on television lately. And I’m not even talking about super-special they-beam-it-from-space satellite TV either, just those regular five channels are keeping me furnished with film treats… Maybe I’ve just never noticed before but it’s in your interests – every one of you – to scour the television listings on a weekly basis. You’ll be surprised at what you may find. You can then go on to videotape films you like, cover them in dust and show off to your friends about how long you’ve had such cool films on tape for – like, “what, you’ve never seen Alice In Acidland?“. But never, never make the mistake of actually letting those friends watch your videos, or they’ll immediately place their recording with a kind of modern carbon dating, through the adverts and so on, and show you up as the lying movie one-upper you always suspected you were.

So, er, anyway, I’ve watched on television recently films including Boogie Nights, Clueless, If…. and Casino, and due to the decaying moral structure of the country, such films are being cut less and less as time goes by, avoiding that whole “I’m sure there was a bit more violence in this film”-type scenario. Why, it’s like a cinema in your living room! Well, if you like your cinemas with a fake wooden surround and a thirty year old screen, it is (at least in my case). Comfortable chairs, though – they should definitely install sofas in cinemas.

It’s worth paying particular attention to the late-night TV listings too, as that’s where you’ll find all the weirdy indie flicks, 1950s B-movies and classic Hammer horror films, tucked away at 3.30am on a Wednesday morning. God bless the video recorder timer facility! It’s a whole galaxy of fun trying to work out whether a film is worth taping and watching or not from the 5-word (at a push) description of it. I favour the date/genre snap judgement; as in “1968 sexploitation”=hurray!; “1994 erotic drama with Shannon Tweed”=boo, and so on.

Continue reading »

SLEEPINGDOG – Polar Life (CD/digital, Gizeh)

Posted: October 9th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

Sleepingdog cover

Chantal Acda’s Sleepingdog project has gleaned its second album, coming after the debut ‘Naked in a Clean Bed’ (2006). Predominantly based around her voice with spare accompaniment of piano and acoustic guitar, with occasional flourishes of synthesised strings, chord organs, xylophone, glockenspiel and some fantastically subtle electronic processing, it is a largely beatless and free-floating affair that will have some in rapture.

Acda contributed to Adam Wiltzie’s Stars of the Lid side-project The Dead Texan and he has repayed the favour by producing and contributing “soundscapes” to this album. It’s to his credit that the instrumental and understated textural variation maintains the listener’s interest throughout, pushing the focus away from the lack of rhythmic layers and towards Chantal’s voice.
Continue reading »

Kill Your Timid Notion 2008

Posted: October 7th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Dundee’s annual experimental art and music festival is upon us. It takes place this very weekend at the DCA with the usual impressive line-up of experimental artists, musicians and filmmakers. During the weekend you can enjoy live performances, film, visual art, workshops and much more. Tickets are £25 for the weekend or £10 per day and you can view the whole line-up right here. If you’re based in Glasgow or Edinburgh, they’re even putting on FREE BUSES to get you there and back since there’s train strikes going on. First come first served so get there on time to secure your seat.

EDINBURGH – the bus (Browns) will leave from outside the Fruitmarket Gallery EH1 1DF at 17:30.
GLASGOW – the bus (Silver Choice) will leave from outside the CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3JD at 17:30.
Return journeys from DCA at the end of the performances, around 23:15.

If you’re not in Scotland then fear not, as KYTN will be on tour in November and December. More info at Arika.

diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #13

Posted: October 7th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted October 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

Without sounding too self-obsessed, I think that for this column I’m going to run through ‘the events of September 7’… that is, the AUDIOSCOPE festival, which I helped set up and which featured (among others, obviously) the band which I’m in. Is that self-obsessed? Am I self-obsessed for worrying about whether you think I’m self-obsessed? Arg. Oh well. If you don’t like it, turn off your TV and go and do something less boring instead, or something. Anyway, word up, it was a fine fine day and despite me obviously enjoying things in that certain special way which came from having helped make it happen, I was consistently to be found standing open-mouthed in front of bands thinking “wow, this band is actually something special…” A result, as they say! And it looks we raised about three thousand pounds for charity, too! (The charity being Shelter, who want everybody in the country to have a proper home, a worthwhile and honourable cause I hope you’ll all agree).

Anyway, first up was my band (me! me! me!) SUNNYVALE NOISE SUB-ELEMENT, and we played either (a) a stunning set of mindbending electronified existential punk rock music with effortless precision, or (b) a somewhat disappointing set marred by ‘bad sound’ (honest!), albeit with some very pleasant slides being shown at the same time. Take your pick from these decisions based on whether you (a) didn’t see us, or (b) did.

DUSTBALL appeared on stage next, with a surprisingly early slot (due to some rock and roll commitment or other) for one of Oxford’s favourite bands. Now I’ve seen Dustball play live a few times before, and always found them to pleasantly amiable, like a more raucous (early-) Ash or a less angry Hüsker Dü, like all catchy melodies and choppy chop chop noise guitars and so on. But this time, I’m not sure what it was, maybe they’d just had their Ready Brek or something, they were absolutely blindingly spot on! Fiercely confident in their songs and treading the thin line between audience-pleasing and audience-baiting. I know that they play live, like, 5 times a week or so, but they seem to have suddenly magicked up a stunner of a show which has let them become (to me, at least), a ‘real’ band instead of a ‘local’ band.

Continue reading »

KID606 – Die Soundboy Die (CD/vinyl/digital, Tigerbeat6)

Posted: October 5th, 2008, by Stuart Fowkes

For much of Kid606’s ten-year career, he’s confounded and confused as often as he’s delighted: for every slice of techno wizardry, there’s been a frankly distressing three-minute cacophony of static and noise or a comedy snippet of A-Ha thrown in for a chuckle. This sense of digital mischief has set him apart over the years, in that he succeeds where precious few do in bringing a sense of personality to electronica.

However, this new EP, a taster in advance of a new album due out in 2009, is perhaps one of the most straightforward things he’s done. Straightforward in the sense that it’s fantastic, pounding TECHNOJOY of the highest level. Absolutely dominated by pulsatile, growling basslines, there are obvious dubstep grooves here, but delivered at the restless, aggressive pace we’ve come to expect from 606.

Elsewhere, old-school handclaps ride over a hurricane of a bassline on ‘Umbilical Bullets’, while ‘The Drip’ brings to mind an update on something the Ganja Kru might have put out in 1996. ‘Bat Manners’ drops the pace a little, all atmospheric reverbs, sluggish, downbeat drum work and a crackling undercurrent that gives it the feeling of a dub classic trying to break its way out of a pocket calculator.

Kid606 has taken the signifiers of classic electronica from the past decade (bits of jump-up, techno, hardcore and bassline all take the lead at various points) to create a miniature tour de force of dancefloor-fillers. The only downside, perhaps, is that there’s little of the flagrant sonic mischief we’ve come to expect, so it’s not stamped through with his personality as clearly as other releases. When it’s as consistently great as this though, who cares?



Hello World!

Posted: October 5th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

So, I write this other website Super Cute Kawaii! (in the guise of a cute bunny) and a recent press release informs us that Japan’s ambassador for cute, Hello Kitty, has just made her first album. Since she doesn’t have a mouth, she has roped in some “talent” to help her out, none of which I have ever heard of. Just reading the tracklisting, a mix of ‘you go girl’ optimism and ‘ain’t I cute”‘ sugariness, I can practically hear it. Her good friend Chococat has also muscled his way in to funk things up with Chococat’s Jam, which sounds particularly inedible. I guess in an age of Hannah Montana albums, Kitty has a right to feel she’s capable of putting an album together but it all seems a bit power-crazed; having seen the lengths Hello Kitty goes to in Japan to get her face into everything (including dressing up as food and other Sanrio characters), I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns up next as Japan’s new Prime Minister. Especially since they’re already going that way with current manga-loving otaku Prime Minister Taro Aso.

What times we do live in.

Check out Hello Kitty’s jams here.