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Archive for January, 2009

Hope you’re sitting down

Posted: January 30th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

It has certainly been a while, but I have finally gotten around to adding not one, but TWO new interviews for your reading pleasure.

– First up, our man about Leeds – Pascal – got hold of Zach Hill after a recent solo show and probed him about drumming techniques and what’s up with Hella. He even recorded a bit of the show on video for you. He’s nice like that. Go read >>

– All us zine writers have a bunch of unpublished interviews gathering dust somewhere. I have a very lengthy one with The Bluetones. Luckily for you, that’s not what we’re publishing, but instead an interview by JGRAM with Glasgow’s Dead or American who recently launched their new album with the help of our own Souvaris. diskant: it’s like LOST – we’re all connected in so many ways. Go read >>

Have you got any interviews languishing in your archives? Maybe we’d like to read them – get in touch!

Churnalism FTW

Posted: January 30th, 2009, by Stan Tontas

It must be great to be in PR. Think of a story related to what your clients do, think of a shocking-sounding number, cook up a survey (the fewer people you ask the better) and email it the newspapers., watch the publicity role in and laugh on the way to the bank.

Do reporters not even think about the plausibility of what they write? “One third of Glaswegians a victim of card fraud last year!!1!!”

One third, eh? So that can’t be the kids and under 18s — a quarter of the population? The folk who can’t get a card because of bad credit – round here that’s got to be about 10%. Those that haven’t got cards worth ripping off? Another 20%. So that must mean that everyone else has been ripped off!!

31% of people ripped off by thieves last year compared to just 26% across the UK as a whole.

The upturn in card fraud is believed to be a knock-on effect of the credit crunch,

Funnily enough, this survey was commissioned by a company that sells credit card protection insurance…

See also the police claiming that there’s been a credit crunch-induced rise in shoplifting because, er there was more shoplifting in December last year than there was in April. Hmm, what happens in December that’s different from April. Has to do with shops… No, you’ve got me.

diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #8

Posted: January 27th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

(Originally posted January 2005)

Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS by Dave Stockwell

Records that were good in 2004

That time of year has wound around again, and everyone who’s got an opportunity to make themselves heard (and this being t’internet, that means a lot of people) has compiled inevitable endless lists of what they liked about the previous 12 months. You may have noticed that diskant towers itself plays host to such humdrum marvels – though I have to be a back-slapping sonuvabitch and say that I’ve always enjoyed reading our lists and bolshy arguments far more than yer average boring coolometer measurements on all those other boring sites…

Annnnnyway, it was when I started thinking about what candidates I would be putting forward as my nominees for the diskant team top few musical recordings of the year that it slowly dawned on me: there’s only the tiniest chance that more than a couple of my favourite records of 2004 would receive a single vote from anyone else. Why do I know this? Because I’m a fucking obscurist cuntbag. As mentioned in the last time I shat one of these incubi out I’ve developed a worrying affection for/interest in tiny CDR labels dealing in obscurer-than-thou artists and miniscule print runs (you know Davenport have got a tape coming out in an edition of 11? Bastards!). So, is this gross arrogance and patronising behaviour on the most disgusting scale? Fuck knows. But honestly, there’s no posturing here: the records I’m going to blather about are genuinely far more interesting and exciting to me than pretty much any of the ‘properly’ released records you’ll find us arguing over in our annual records round-up. As the mainstream “industry” stagnates, and independents are increasingly either swallowed up or bankrupted, why shouldn’t music released on CDR format be considered ‘valid’ or ‘proper’? I’m not directing this at you, good reader, for I am sure you are pure of heart and clear of head, but alas others are more ignorant and prejudiced, whether they realise it or not. Obviously, this argument also dates back to tape labels, but with no discernable quality difference between a ‘proper’ CD that was produced by the thousand in a pressing plant and a ‘homemade’ CDR that was burnt at home, the case for considering all this music is ever more pressing. Whatever.

“C’mon Dave,” you might want to say to me, “could you not at least talk about how great the latest Sonic Youth LP is?”

NO!” I would knock back like a cancer-ridden Bill Hicks preaching to the unconverted, “It’s a disgraceful half-asleep assortment of soft-rock songs knocked out between too many arty side-projects, and it’s the worst fucking thing they’ve done in years!”

“…”

Honestly, that’s my genuine opinion. 2004 was the year I fell out with the Youth. It’s pretty sad really. Almost made me cry.

Ahem. Anyway. Now with you suitably hushed (and no doubt wondering exactly what kind of delusion I am suffering from this year), please allow me to begin detailing precisely why I’d choose a bunch of no-budget recorded-in-a-shed lowlifes over a particularly turgid offering by a band that (admittedly after 20-odd years of being mostly incredible) sound like they’re lost the central idea about why music is such a beautiful thing to get excited about in the first places.

Continue reading »

Designers’ Republic overthrown by credit crunch

Posted: January 26th, 2009, by Stan Tontas

Of all the folk associated with diskant, I must be the one who knows least about aesthetics, design, all that stuff. But even I‘ve heard of Designers’ Republic.
They’ve gone bust. Just flagging it up, if anyone wise wants to chip in…

THE JELAS – Blood Smash (Ingue Records)

Posted: January 26th, 2009, by Pascal Ansell

The Jelas are a puzzle. Blood Smash is the trio’s new EP conundrum to be unravelled by the hardy listener – the EP literally is a puzzle. Each song has multiple ‘shapes’ according to the inner sleeve that matches whatever combination the listener feels fit.

In fact the songs themselves sound jumbled, with each player carving out their own line regardless of what ever noise that attempts to overwhelm them. The male/female singing is blended and pushed further out, triggering a nicely jarring tune. Different keys clash, drums slow to super snail-pace – it’s a compliment that The Jelas sound like they’d be great to see live.

Blood Smash isn’t terribly well produced and has a flat demo feel. It’s hardly a criminal offence and I like a good old messy and rough record, but the drums deserve better mic work, or whatever it is that producers do. With terrific cartoon designs and a tidy aesthetic, Blood Smash is worth buying just for the great cover art, and £5 isn’t an unreasonable price. A decent release from Bristol’s fledgling independent label, Ingue Records.

The Jelas

Ingue Records

Pascal Ansell

diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #7

Posted: January 23rd, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

(Originally posted November 2004)

Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS by Dave Stockwell

DAVENPORT: A minor love letter

Dear beloved,

Let me introduce you to my favourite band of 2004. Personally speaking, these past twelve months have been pretty thin on the ground for ‘proper’ releases by bands on ‘proper’ CDs and vinyl, and slowly but surely I have found myself increasingly immersed within the ever-burgeoning world of ‘free’ music and homemade CDR labels. Thanks variously to the element of random chance and a couple of excellent UK-based distro kids (namely Melody Boa and Shoryobuni), I bought my first Davenport record a few months into this year, and was instantly smitten. Being the voracious music-consuming monster I can be (when meagre finances allow), I knew I had to seek out everything I could by this mysterious group. The problem was, as soon as I thought I’d managed to get everything I could, something new would pop up. Here’s a list of Davenport’s discography, as of 25 October 2004:

  • self titled CDR – limited to 20 copies (sold out on 23 Productions)*
  • Springtime on Saturnalia 3″ CDR (on PseudoArcana)
  • self titled c60 cassette – limited to 23 copies (sold out on 23 Productions)
  • Little Howling Jubilee 3″ CDR (on 267-Lattajjaa)
  • Loki’s War 4.6.04 – limited to 18 copies CDR (sold out on 23 Productions)
  • Free Country CDR – limited to 93 copies (sold out on Foxglove)
  • Sun Your Open Mouth 5.18.04 CDR – limited to 41 copies (sold out on 23 Productions)
  • split w/ Maths Balance Volumes CDR (sold out on 23 Productions)
  • split w/ Son of Earth CDR (out now on 23 Productions)
  • O, too high Ditty for my Simple Rhyme CDR – limited to 100 copies (sold out on Time-Lag)
  • Owl Movement CDR (sold out on 23 Productions)
  • split w/ Seen Through CDR (on Haamumaa)

I’m pretty sure all this came out this year. And then there’re at least a dozen more releases in the works. They might even squeeze out a couple of new CDRs before the end of the year. I certainly wouldn’t bet against it: there’s a whole two months to go just yet.

So who the fuck are these pricks? And how the hell have they managed to release so much material? And why do it in such ridiculously small quantities? Here’s the official bio from their website:

“Davenport was started in Madison, in the Summer of 2002. It was originally a vehicle for folk song experiments by Clay Ruby. By Fall [otherwise known as Autumn] of 2003 many others had been invited to participate in improvisations, rituals, and recordings with Davenport. Since then there has been a surge in activity and output.”

What this means is that Davenport is a loose collective with a rotating cast that revolves around Clay Ruby. Some releases have only a couple of contributors; others feature a massed army of new-psych pseudo-folk avant-dreamers, wielding anything they can get their hands on: guitars, organs, drums, kongas, vocals, all kinds of percussion, and an awful lot of stuff you can’t readily identify, which they probably picked up from the street on their way to practice. Inevitably, there’s a whole lotta on-the-spot experimenting and improvising going on. Davenport apparently record live pretty much every single one of their get-togethers and performances, and then pick the cream of the crop for release. What is so breathtaking is the range and sheer quality of the crop. Don’t get me wrong, Davenport aren’t some awful ‘genre-straddling’ bunch of electrotwats or Jamie Cullum or whatever his name is; it’s the depth of mood, feel and texture that they generate which allows for some fantastic diversity between recordings. Here’s a reverse-chronology guide (call it a whimsy) to a few selected highlights of the Davenport 2004 oeuvre (and roll on the new stuff, which I’m told is even better)…

Continue reading »

BROKEN ARM

Posted: January 22nd, 2009, by Simon Minter

Broken Arm’s ‘Shields Mystical’ CD is worth picking up for its fantastic cover alone:

Broken Arm - Shields Mystical

What’s more, it’s printed onto nice rough card so it’s a tactile delight.

What’s more, the music is great and it’ll be directly up your street.

What’s more, the band features diskant.net alumnus Hugues Mouton. A man you can trust.

Broken Arm, yo.

Zine-o-rama in Edinburgh: 4th & 5th February

Posted: January 22nd, 2009, by Stan Tontas

Saw a poster for a Zine-O-Rama to be held in Edinburgh at the Forest Cafe on the weekend of 4th & 5th February. It’s part of a wider event called Don’t DIY Alone:

The DIY (do it yourself) ethic refers to the principle of being self-reliant by completing tasks oneself as opposed to relying upon “specialists” to complete them. The term can apply to anything from home improvements and repairs to healthcare, from publishing to electronics. DIY questions the supposed uniqueness of the expert’s skills, and promotes the ability of the ordinary person to learn to do more than he or she thought was possible.

Why Do It Together? Groups of people can include a vast range of skills. By coming together and sharing our skills for free, we challenge hierarchies of knowledge and also the commodification of knowledge. By creating as a group, we can build networks and celebrate a different way of living.

What’s “Don’t DiY Alone”? A gathering in Edinburgh to share skills and have a good time, 5-8th February 2009.

How can you get involved? Contact us at diyedinburgh@riseup.net to organise a workshop, or come along in February and learn some stuff! Go to our online forum at diyedinburgh.freeforums.org and start organising now! Contact us for a copy of the posters to put up in your area.

THE ASTEROID NO.4 – These Flowers Of Ours (CD, The Committee To Keep Music Evil)

Posted: January 20th, 2009, by Simon Minter

More proof that there’s no real new music any more, just retreads and rethinkings of what’s gone before. Still, it’s not like that’s a new state of affairs I guess; but the arc of history seems to be getting ever shorter these days. The Asteroid No.4 are a shoegaze-jangler band, referencing those heady late 80s/early 90s days of Ride, Stone Roses, experimentation with cheap LSD, frolicking in parks, etc etc. They pull it off pretty nicely, moving from a dreamy Neil Young-tinged opener in ‘My Love’, through a droney freakout session over ‘I Look Around’ and ‘Hei Nah Lah’, ending up with the simultaneous invocation of My Bloody Valentine and a combination of Ride’s first two albums on ‘She Touched The Sky’.

The album is subtitled A Treasury Of Witchcraft And Devilry, hinting at either some kind of Stones-go-Satan cheeky devil-raising or some hard-drug shenanigans that’s best left alone. Across the whole album we’re only a couple of times exposed to the true devilry of bland, pseudo-epic songwriting, and as a piece it sits firmly in this odd neo-shoegaze place that’s all the rage right now. There’s reverb and echo aplenty, and enough of a nod to authentic late ’60s psychedelia to make this more than a simple knock-off. It’s their fifth album too, I believe, so they’re certainly persistent and no foot-draggers. I have my fingers crossed that right now The Asteroid No.4 are sitting cross-legged in kaftans, smoking hookah and creating action poetry – anything less would be unbecoming.

The Asteroid No.4
The Committee To Keep Music Evil

http://honeyisfunny.blogspot.com/

Posted: January 20th, 2009, by Chris Summerlin

I’ve decided to do a blog of my own as well as writing on Diskant. It’ll be an anything goes type thing, photos, artwork, music and writing. You can guess I am sure: http://honeyisfunny.blogspot.com/