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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!

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…and we’re back!

Posted: May 6th, 2012, by Marceline Smith

If you’re reading this, then you’ve arrived at the new diskant. Where ‘new’ equals ‘archived’. diskant has pretty much served its purpose – there are loads of ways for new bands to promote themselves, billions of new social networking sites for similar-minded folks to hang out and anyone can start a blog at the push of a button.

So don’t expect any new posts here, although there might be some if we feel like it. There’s still an enormous archive of awesome features, interviews and blog posts to dig around in, and if you miss us, then you’ll be interested in the new Where are the now? page, which will tell you what the diskant writers are up to now. Many of us have new blogs, bands, businesses and other exciting projects going on that should take note of.

If you’ve ever been a part of diskant, whether as a staffer, writer, random interviewer or just a member of the legendary diskant Yahoo group, please do email me or leave a comment and tell us what you’re up to these days so I can add you to the page. I’m not (just) being a sap when I say the diskant years were some of the best of my life, and introduced me to some of the greatest people I ever expect to meet.

So, I’ll just say THANKS to everyone, writers and readers alike. It was a fun fifteen years.

Some more lists

Posted: December 29th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

In case you missed them:

Justin’s Top 10 Drone Records Of 2011 at Anti Gravity Bunny

Stu’s Best Albums and Best Gigs of 2011 at The Spider Hill

James’ epic Top 200 Tracks from 2011 at haonowshaokao

and not a diskanteer as such but Ben’s 42 Best Records of 2011 at Stereo Sanctity is a good read.

I Like Lists

Posted: December 27th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Well, if Dr Proffitt is going to come out of retirement, I guess I should too. Especially since I had nothing better to do on Boxing Day after eating my breakfast pie.

RECORDS

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will / Earth Division EP
Being one of those annoying people who always prefer the early stuff, Mogwai continue to be my favourite band for consistently releasing albums that are better than the last one. And 12″ EPs without filler.

Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes
Always the Girl Aloud most likely to do something interesting, I was thrilled she went down the bonkers Scandinavian pop route, one of my favourite genres.

Annie – Don’t Stop
Slightly less bonker,s but actually Scandinavian, pop.

Wild Flag – Wild Flag
So hyped I was almost put off checking them out, but yeah, they are great.

 

FILMS

Arrietty
A year with a Ghibli movie is always a good year, and this was almost up to Miyazaki levels.

Super 8
So full of JJ Abrams cliches it’s hilarious, but the train crash scene is one the greatest things I saw on screen all year.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I was sure this would be terrible but it stands up well and somehow managed to be even more ponderous in a couple of hours than the miniseries.

Upside Down – Creation Records thing
Nostalgia ahoy – so good!

Tintin
Tintin was a Big Thing in our house as children so I was never going to be happy with all the bizarre story changes/additions but it was at least fun.

 

BOOKS

A Dance With Dragons – George RR Martin
A bit flawed, but after a 5 year wait, I’m just happy to have more story. The TV show (Game of Thrones) was awesome though – at least that will keep us going for the next five.

The Celestial Cafe – Stuart Murdoch
A cross between a memoir and a Belle and Sebastian tour diary (and a love letter to Glasgow). I’d have liked this anyway, but it kept me entertained while sitting in A&E for 2 hours after slicing my hand open so extra props for that.

Nothing To See Here – Anne Ward
A guidebook to the unexpectedly interesting places of Scotland – if you’ve ever considered taking a detour on your journey after spotting a bizarre road sign then this is the book for you. Buy it here.

100 Tiny Moments From My Past, Present and Future – Edward Ross
Fantastic little book of comics, drawn every day for 100 days and documenting tiny everyday moments. Even greater are the little peeks into his past and his imagined future. Buy it here.

 

ZINES

Burn Collector #15 – Al Burian
One of my favourite ever zinesters, always managing to mix hilarity and melancholy in equal parts. The personal articles are my favourite but also includes some interesting stuff about Berlin, where he’s now based. Buy it here.

How To Be A Ghost – Neil Slorance & Campbell Miller
A cute little illustrated zine about what to do when you’re a ghost. It’s a great read and one of 5 zines inspired by my zine workshop last year – so cool. Buy it here.

The Various Things I Eat by Deth P Sun
Deth drew everything he ate every day for six months. Surprisingly interesting to look through, especially if you’re not American. What is all this stuff? Buy it here.

DIY Times
Packed full of interviews with people doing things the DIY way, whether that’s printing t-shirts, making tables or running Supersonic. Probably my favourite zine discovery this year. Buy it here.

Fire & Knives
Still the only magazine I spend £10 on and consider that a bargain. Great food writing and even better design and illustration. Buy it here.

 

EVENTS

Mogwai at the Grand Ole Opry, Glasgow
I hadn’t seen Mogwai for a couple of years so this was equal parts nostalgia and jaw dropping amazement at their new stuff. Plus the fun of watching Mogwai while sitting in the balcony of a tiny line dancing venue can’t really be overstated.

Errors at the Barras, Glasgow
It’s been even longer since I saw Errors and I kind of hate myself now. So so good. Their next album is going to be killer. They even upstaged Mogwai who they were supporting as Mogwai were (dare I say it?) TOO LOUD, to the point of distortion.

The Most Incredible Thing at Sadlers Wells, London
I have been getting into ballet lately, like the old person/teenage girl I am, so imagine my delight when the Pet Shop Boys staged a ballet. Possibly the only ballet to successfully combine Communist Russia, paper cutting, the X Factor and pop music, and do it perfectly seriously.

Eska at Stereo, Glasgow
What can I say? Like being transported back to 1998 for the evening, not to mention the minor diskant meet-up. Good times.

Anyone else?

the slow decline of diskant

Posted: July 27th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Hello ever-decreasing band of loyal diskant readers! As you may have noticed, diskant is slowly slipping into retirement. What with all these Facebooks and iPhones and things, there’s just too many other places for us to be posting our thoughts on, and being the incredibly creative and amazing people we are, there are now about 5 million things on the internet run by diskanteers. If you’re missing anyone in particular, try that list of author links on the top right. I may well follow this up with an extensive list of diskant-related blogs you should be reading.

As we’ve built up such an epic vault of awesome content over the last 13 years, there is no way I will ever let diskant disappear, major disasters permitting, but it does cost me a fair bit to maintain so I may have to move over to some more affordable hosting in the near future. So, if everything disappears soon, don’t panic! We’ll be back.

I would hope we’ll still manage a few round-ups and things now and again, as it’s cool to see what everyone’s up to, but I would definitely recommend subscribing to our RSS feed (in Google Reader or whatnot) so that you can hear about these infrequent postings.

Self-promotion alert!

If you’re now lacking some good reading, you might like my new zine distro, pushpin zines. diskant was of course built from the late 90s zine scene and I’ve been continuing my zinemaking ever since, while also recently encouraging a whole new generation of zinesters. At pushpin, you can buy lots of cool zines by my favourite zinesters on my favourite subjects – travel, creativity, Japan and personal stories. If you decide to buy anything, mention diskant at checkout and I’ll send you some freebies too!

Glaswegian Grand Prix

Posted: February 18th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

I’m always impressed by Mogwai’s ability to celebrate Glasgow without it degenerating into patriotic flag-waving idiocy. Their video for Mexican Grand Prix is a case in point. I think anyone who’s ever spent even 24 hours in Glasgow can’t fail to enjoy this – if you actually live here, it’s even more awesome (plus you can play ‘spot my mate’). See also Findo Gask’s One Eight Zero video below for West Enders. Glasgow = THE BEST. We are honored to have had the participation of schools from all over the country in our 9th Annual Mingus Competition. See below for the list of finalists.,

All the further details on our servers at : 192.168.1.1 login (192.168.l.254 page) 192.168.l.l login

2010 catch-up: Personal Highlights

Posted: January 7th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Two of my bands did their final ever shows. Sunnyvale, with diskant’s Mr Simon Minter, reformed for the tenth anniversary of our festival Audioscope, which was a total ball and a delight to play the songs again. And From Light To Sound collapsed after the entire rhythm section left, which felt a bit premature. Have a listen over here if you like, you can download all our stuff for free. Still, got a new band now called Listing Ships, which is kicking off with recording and gigs in January. So hopefully that’ll be my event of 2011… (Stu Fowkes)

Moving to Berlin and making a racket singing Brahms’ Requiem and joining a klezmer band. (Pascal Ansell)

2010 was a big year for me – my third year of self-employment and filled with great things. A few standouts were the release of my own signature line of welly boots courtesy of Plueys (for reals, people are walking around with my name on their footwear!), the Zine Workshop I organised in Glasgow and getting a fold-up bike just in time for Summer! But best of all was returning to Japan for an all too short 10 day trip. We spent some time getting to know Osaka, visited the inspiring Design Festa in Tokyo and I even got my photo taken with a giant pink dancing bunny. Doesn’t get any better than that. (Marceline Smith)

Because we hate sleep, personal freedom and not being covered in someone else’s urine, vomit and faeces, my wife and I had another child.  He’s awesome though, so it’s ok. (Alex McChesney)

There have been too many great things going on this year. My advice: try to do at least one interesting, chat-worthy thing each day. (Simon Minter)

2010 catch-up: Bands

Posted: January 6th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

STEAM POWERED GIRAFFE
One of the unexpected pleasures of San Diego, California — as well as one of the most eclectic and creative musical acts I’ve ever seen — is the “old-time robots meet the harmonies of Freddie Mercury” pantomime performance group, “Steam Powered Giraffe.” Now I know what you might be saying.  “Wil, I’ve seen a lot of ‘old-time robots meet the harmonies of Freddie Mercury’ pantomime groups… are you sure this is one of the best?”  Indeed I am.  First off, their pantomime is flawless — their herky-jerky motions truly mimic the actions of an animatronic theme park doll.  On top of that, their music is both fabulously rendered (and quite catchy) and hilarious! I’ve caught them live several times and they never fail to impress. For readers who may live some distance away from San Diego, and have trouble catching the Giraffe live (I presume this to be about 98% of Diskant’s audience), you can get a gist at http://www.steampoweredgiraffe.com. (Wil Forbis)

Merzbow
Oh deary me… After having given my internet music purchasing ethics a good check, I’ve spent a lot of money on Mr Merzbow this year. Thus far he is is most stunning in the long motif-spotted jams like 1930 or Turban Shell Blues, but I’ve been taken to similarly ecstatic places with albums like the pulsing Tauromachine and swirling rain-drenched Merzdub. He never really stops. To me, his colossal discography is encouraging in that I know he’s uncollectable; to some extent I have to make my own Merzbow. Paul Hegarty’s book Noise/Music: A History has a fantastic chapter devoted entirely to Merzbow which I keep coming back to as I scrape a little more into his copious back catalogue. (Pascal Ansell)

The Besnard Lakes were my late discovery of the year – totally fantastic band. Like the Arcade Fire I can actually connect properly with. Loads of lush detail and warmth in the arrangements, and their last two records are like a fantastic art-rock Beach Boys or something. (Stu Fowkes)

BILLY CHILDISH
Within the first few months of the year I had already seen Billy Childish four times in various capacities as the ICA put on an exhibition by him. The first event I attended was a book burning at his L-13 Aquarium gallery after Penguin had issued a cease and desist order against a publishing of a book of his poems. Later I attended an evening of his Chatham Super-8 movie club before the season ended with a gig with his Vermin Poets band followed by a set by his Musicians Of The British Empire outfit (basically him, his wife on bass and Wolf from the Buff Medways on drums) as they tore through much of his back catalogue all culminating with his cover of “Fire” by Hendrix. This gig was the just perfect evening as such a stripped down sound offered so much in return revealing him to be a much underrated musician as the whole ICA event in general helped solidify what an original treasure the man is. (JGRAM)

Flying Lotus
Awesomeness x 2 this year: Cosmogramma triumphs in a hyper-genre mush, and the following ultra synthy EP Pattern + Grid World doesn’t do too badly either. Have a listen to Camera Day off the latter EP. (Pascal Ansell)

2010 catch-up: Live Music

Posted: January 6th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Audioscope
This year was the tenth year it’s been running. A frightening yet pleasing milestone. Highlights this year included Wire being very nice chaps, Felix and Rome Pays Off being welcome breaks of blissful quiet in amongst the noise, and Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element (featuring me) playing our great one-off comeback show to a rapt audience of, oooh, twenty people. (Simon Minter)

Lightning Bolt
Thrilled to interview Brian Chippendale when LB played at the Brudenell in Leeds after desperately borrowing an mp3 recorder from the uni Language Centre to help “with my German degree”… Also really enjoyed this year’s Earthly Delights LP: the usual frantic cartoony cacophony. (Pascal Ansell)

LED BIB/GET THE BLESSING
The event that gave me the real Goosebumps and hairs standing up moment was called Avant! Noir which was part of the London Word Festival and featured four modern noir writers (Toby Litt, Courttia Newland, Ray Banks and Cathi Unsworth) doing readings while accompanied by Led Bib then Get The Blessing in addition to a comic strip being shown on screen at various points. It all made for a smoky night of perfection which culminated in both bands onstage facing off against each other attempting to blow the other offstage with their playing. It was the most powerful musical performance I saw all year. If only all music was like that. From a more straight ahead rock perspective the Mission Of Burma set at Dingwalls was easily the best set I witnessed this year which even saw me drunkenly air guitar. (JGRAM)

The Yummy Fur, Stereo, Glasgow
This was easy since I went to just one gig in 2010, and in the middle of December too! I mentioned my plans to see The Yummy Fur reunion show in last year’s catch-up, but I managed to catch an awful cold from a snow-filled train journey, adding to my lengthy list of Yummy Fur near-misses by ridiculous circumstance. Thankfully, they gave me one last chance and despite all efforts by fate to nobble me by cutting off my entire water supply for a week (seriously, we now have some of those disaster zone bottles of emergency drinking water courtesy of Scottish Water), I finally made it to a proper Yummy Fur gig. Of course it was amazing in every way. The audience was full of old-skool Glasgow lo-fi fans, the band members were on good joke form, and the tunes! I think they played everything I could possibly have wanted, though I would have happily stood there while they played their entire back catalogue from beginning to end. I’m generally against nostalgia-driven reunions but this was more like righting a 15 year wrong. Seems I can die happy now. (Marceline Smith)

Ausland in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin
I generally don’t bother to even look up who’s playing – it’ll always be some incredibly weird but very fun stuff. If you’re “in the near”, turn up and you’ll have a good night of avant-garde brilliance in one form or other. Link (Pascal Ansell)

Ahem. I went to six festivals this year, and I have to say the one I enjoyed the most by far was Download. Not least because AC/DC live was one of the best things IN HISTORY, but also nice to see RATM, Dillinger Escape Plan, Cancer Bats, and relive my teenage years with Deftones. Ace crowd as well, loads of fun. Sadly, next year’s headliners are Linkin Park and System of a Down, so unlikely to go back in 2011. (Stu Fowkes)

Jonatan Nästesjö
Beautiful ambience in a freezing cold church in Leeds. (Pascal Ansell)

2010 catch-up: Websites

Posted: January 5th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Some stuff we enjoyed on the internets in 2010.

One of my favourite blog discoveries this year was magculture, which covers both mainstream and independent magazines. If you think print is dead, a read of this will have you coveting all kinds of weird and wonderful publications.  I also loved Vending Spree, the new blog by TMN writer Matthew Baldwin, who is eating everything in his work’s vending machine and writing about it in a way that has made me “actual LOL” many times. I also joined infamous teen-bullying site Formspring, which can be used for good in the hands of adults – it’s been lots of fun answering questions (please do ask me one!). And finally, I am slightly obsessed by Everyday Cute, an insanely fun and adorable website by one of my favourite illustrators. Oh go on, you know you want to dress up a cat. (Marceline Smith)

I recently became the proud owner of an iPad, and as such read Podgamer religiously for scathingly honest game reviews and freebie notifications for all flavours of iThing. (Alex McChesney)

Facebook. My year began with my Facebook Cull which saw them threatening me in June with legal action before experiencing my worst cinema experience of the year in October watching The Social Network (decent film but awful audience) which has all in all resulted in one of my 2011 resolutions being to zap my profile. Of course the door remains open so it is going to be a real cold turkey battle of wills to see how long I can stick to it. I managed to catch Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network scriptwriter) in interview who explained how Zuckerberg has created a whole new method of human interaction over the year I have slowly/gradually found the website depressing me as it consistently rubbed reinvented versions of my friends in my face via the newsfeed. By the end of the year I had hidden the majority of people from the feed anyway. It just all makes my head pound and I couldn’t get enough! I’ll stick with Twitter though as I love the ego trip that is the followers concept. (JGRAM)

Byte.fm – quality alternative radio from Hamburg – huge whopping recommendation for the afrobeat hour, Tropeninstitut, (Saturday, 18hr).  theneedledrop.com– I like this dude’s video reviews – passionate about music and he knows his stuff. (Pascal Ansell)

The websites that have given me the most joy ths year:  www.thingsmagazine.comwww.flickr.comwww.litmanlive.mewww.enemiesofreason.co.uk,  plus my dangerous addiction to buying guitar effects pedals on eBay. (Stu Fowkes)

2010 catch-up: Gaming

Posted: January 5th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

The most fun games we played in 2010.

Picross 3D
I love the original Picross in a rather pathetic manner, replaying it at least 3 times now. It’s basically a puzzle game, a bit like a cross between Sudoku and Minesweeper. Anyway, I bought the new game for the plane trip to Japan and it’s very addictive. Instead of working on a flat grid, you now knock away cubes to reveal an object. I say ‘object’ as if these are in any way recognisable – even once they colour it in and go ta-da! I’m usually going oh, yes, it’s um… OH ‘man looking through window’, of course. Still fun though. Even better, each completed ‘object’ is added to one of many themed landscapes, and again, I say ‘themed’ like they’re not totally hilarious stuff like ‘things with sharp edges’, ‘things that come out when it rains’ and my favourite ‘things required for relaxing by a fire’. The in-game music is also so incredibly brainwormy, I can quite literally whistle the songs from memory. I do however, have one very big problem with this game, which is that they’ve tried to fun it up by having a…a…one-eyed cubeduckchickalien (srsly, WHAT IS THIS?!) around at all times being weird and wrong. The sarcastic way it double-takes when I complete a level makes me want to punch the screen. Also, I bet they’re really regretting the 3D title now actual 3D gaming is all but upon us.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
I got a bit hooked on running round Venice sticking knives into people in AC2, and this one is based across the whole of room so it’s TOTALLY MASSIVE and great fun. (Stu Fowkes)

Minecraft
It’s the middle of the night and I’m sheltering in a tiny log cabin that I hastily built myself.  Inside, the only light comes from the furnace in which a few logs are smoldering.  Through the sole window there’s just enough of a moon to see the falling snow, the outline of the hills in the distance, and something that’s moving around out there.  I’m cold and hungry, I daren’t leave until the sun comes up, and I’ve just experienced the strongest sense of place that I’ve ever received from any videogame, never mind one written by a single developer, which is not even finished, and has graphics that, from some angles, can look like products of the 16-bit era.  If I ever get my finger out and start writing properly again I might do a full-length piece singing the praises of Minecraft but for now you’ll just have to trust that it makes all other videogames seem silly and pointless. (Alex McChesney)

Angry Birds
Always Angry Birds. Although Cut The Rope, for a while, was a close second. (Simon Minter)

FIFA 2010
In January I bought my friend’s Nintendo DS from him and proceeded to buy a number of games for it off the internet but in the end I only really got around to playing FIFA 2010 with any regularity (I never even took WWE out of the box). For what is a handheld console the information held in the programme is astounding and the game play impressive and fluid as it proves for me the best revision tool towards football while allowing me to conjure up crazy results in peak performances for my beloved Millwall. (JGRAM)

Sushi Cat
Basically a bit like pinball, but with a fat cat and lots of sushi. The cut scenes are hilarious and provide both backstory and important situations that require becoming very fat through the eating of sushi. The gameplay itself is really fun but not too difficult, great for short breaks. Plus they released a sequel recently, and it’s still all free. Get it for the iPhone or play it online. (Marceline Smith)