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Temporary Resurrection

Posted: December 13th, 2011, by Simon Proffitt

Hi! Just thought I’d check in to see what was going on over in diskantland, and since it’s mid-December, and since no-one’s written much for a while, I thought I’d add a quick year-end thingmie in case anyone’s still reading.

2011 was the year in which I finally alienated myself from all my friends (by being unable – for reasons that are still unclear to me – to keep in touch with anyone), in which I took up recreational trespassing, and in which I realised that I’m getting old. One of the musical avenues that I’ve always tried to travel down has been the one marked ‘extreme’. I’ve always seemed to be searching for harder, louder, more visceral, or conversely more minimal, quieter, slower – regardless of genre, I’ve wanted to hear the things that are testing the limits. Finding out what these things are and how to get them hasn’t always been straightforward, especially in the days before the internet (as information resource and as lending library), and along the way there have been miss-steps and disappointments, especially in hindsight: reading all about Cabaret Voltaire and the surrounding hype as a wide-eyed teen and then my first purchase of theirs being their pretty embarrassingly lame house LP Groovy, Laidback and Nasty being a notable example. But then this year I’ve realised that a surprising amount of so-called extreme music is actually total crap, and some of it that isn’t crap, that is actually still very good, I just don’t have the patience for any more. I think I think this because I’m getting old and my melody gland is starting to swell up. So this year I’ve found myself rejecting the kind of discordant, confrontational, improvised music that I’ve previously championed, and instead enjoying a lot of music of the kind that might get played on Radio 2. Stuff with nice harmonies, proper tunes you can whistle. Pop music. Good old fashion rock. One of the best tracks I heard all year, for instance (even though it’s from 2007) was Feist’s The Water. It’s devastating! I even bought the last Smoke Fairies album. On vinyl! With real money. This is not something that’s been easy to admit to myself or to the general public, but then I’m not really interested in impressing people with how cool I am, so I’ll just state it as fact.

So whereas my favourite albums of 2011 might once have looked like this:

1. .#: oooooooooooooooooooooooooO
2. Jean-Pierre Cockbingo & Mbandu Mbandu Mbandu: Those Barren Assemblies Vol.3
3. -|-\/\//\-t-: _/////wITTcH___////////___
4. Some 12 year old Hoxton tit improvising on an electro-acoustic beetroot: Live in Williamsburg

Here are my actual favourite albums of the year:

1. The Psychic Paramount: II

2. Snowman: Absence

3. Still Corners: Creatures of an Hour

4. Thee Oh Sees: Carrion Crawler/The Dream

5. Surgeon: Breaking the Frame

6. The Twilight Sad: Acoustic EP

7. Wild Beasts: Smother

8. The Advisory Circle: As The Crow Flies

9. Radiohead: The King of Limbs

10. Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

11. Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica

12: The Beach Boys: Smile

Merry Christmas!

The Ultimate Very Best Other Album in the World Ever, Vol. 1-3

Posted: July 14th, 2010, by Simon Proffitt

Hi. To celebrate the fact that you haven’t had to deal with me or my nonsense for about 17 years on diskant, I thought I’d come back and do something vaguely generous (even though no-one knows who I am any more), all inspired by Marceline’s excellent post about everyone’s favourite kind of music, Other.

Some genres are uselessly broad, but well-meaningly applied. Remember trips to Our Price back in the early 90s? They split the whole world into the opposing forces of Rock/Pop and Dance, and if you were lucky and got a larger branch you could probably find a small Classical section (theoretically everything from 14th century secular music to Varèse, Xennakis, Pärt, Gregorian Chant, Vanessa Mae and allsorts in between, realistically only containing Vanessa Mae and a Classic FM compilation of Hovis adverts), Soundtracks (likely only containing 2 CDs, Buster and The Lost Boys) and Jazz (a handful of dreadfully recorded budget CDs of Charlie Mingus’ worst gigs).

At the other extreme, some genres, especially in the world of electronic music, are so convoluted and narrow as to seemingly only apply to one actual track. Others still, in this day of mp3s, are intentionally inaccurate, just for the lulz. Who hasn’t giggled mischievously while changing the ID3 tags on a Purulent Spermcanal album to ‘Children’s Music’? But if you’re the kind of person who does actually label mp3s with genres, it takes a special kind of slack-jawed vacuousness to resort to something as unimaginative as ‘unknown’. I can understand my Granddad not knowing about recent developments in the Abuja power-electronics scene,  but how does someone who doesn’t know how to classify Heavy Winged acquire it in the first place? It’s most likely, I suppose, that they’re ripping the CDs with something like Windows Media Player, and since the tracks don’t correspond to anything in the Gracenotes database, it’s deciding on your behalf that the music is too weird to sound like anything currently out there. But that can’t be true of all cases.

So then, I’ve been through my iTunes library and identified that I have quite a lot of ‘Other’. And there’s a really interesting range there – everything from lengthy spoken word stuff like Douglas Adams’ The Salmon of Doubt, the Hammond organ easy funk of Alan Hawkshaw, Ruins’ gonzo prog-metal, The Conet Project, all the way to stuff as shockingly mainstream as Scott Walker, TV on the Radio and – gasp – U2. In some cases, obviously only one or two tracks from an album have been ‘Othered’, the rest presumably being labelled correctly. I wanted, therefore, to put together a Best of Other compilation – to see whether it turned out that it was all garbage, or whether it would make a credible self-contained listening experience.

As it turns out, narrowing down 733 tracks (a total of 3.2 days of non-stop listening) down to the 10 or so necessary to fit on a CD is not possible. So I’ve lovingly and painstakingly sequenced and hand-crafted 3 discs’ worth of wonderful music, all of which has been categorised by somebody (not me!) as ‘Other’. All of which has baffled somebody enough for them to not be able to classify it adequately. I’ve deliberately avoided stuff much over 10 minutes in length, even though it might be awesome, just to fit as much on there as possible. This means, sadly, no Orthrelm (Ov is 45min), no Keiji Haino (Affection is 58min), Radu Malfatti (Rain Speak Soft Tree Listens: 61min) or Jonathan Coleclough (Casino/Tree Frogs/Beach: 58min), all of which I love as much as anything non-Other.

I now proudly present The Ultimate Very Best Other Album in the World Ever, Volumes 1-3 for you to download and enjoy. These will all conveniently fit exactly onto one CD each, so you can burn them and give them to your family for Christmas. I’ve even spent some time suggesting the correct genre for each track – because after all, there is only one right answer.

Volume 1: Rock/Pop
Deerhoof Dummy Discards A Heart – correct genre: Hipstercore
Bellini Marranzano – correct genre: Albini-ism / Maff(ia) Rock
Scratch Acid She Said – correct genre: Sleazepunk
Boris Feedbacker Part 3 – correct genre: Japanic-Attack
Alan Parker Maximum thrust 1 – correct genre: Easy listening
The Velvet Underground White Light/ White Heat – correct genre: 60s AOR / Classic Rock
Radiohead These Are My Twisted Words – correct genre: Rock / Pop
Starfuckers Saturazione – correct genre: Neo-agit-eurowave
Avarus Taivaalla tapahtuu – correct genre: Beards / Rural communism (instrumental)
Cocteau Twins Feet-like Fins – correct genre: Dreamgaze / Shoecore / New Age (Vocal)
Gastr Del Sol Crappie Tactics – correct genre: PoMo Arch-folk
John Jacob Niles The Two Sisters – correct genre: Traditional American Androgyny
Brainbombs The Whore – correct genre: Filth / Serial Killer
Heavy Winged Death Instinct – correct genre: Jam
Part Chimp Hello Bastards – correct genre: Cranial trauma
Man Is The Bastard She Boar – correct genre: Skate-cock shout-core
Vialka You Knew… – correct genre: Francospazz
Pale Saints Baby Maker – correct genre: Shoepop
Julie Doiron And The Wooden Stars Gone Gone – correct genre: Sadpop
Slowdive So Tired – correct genre: Sadgaze
U2 Drowning Man – correct genre: Bloated, self-righteous, epic stadium rock
Misora Hibari ???? – correct genre: Enka

Get it here: mediafire.com/?mydrw3yzyjz2flh

Volume 2: Ambient
Stilluppsteypa On The Right There – correct genre: Electronic
Assumed Possibilities Starwyte – correct genre: Electro-acoustic Improv
Harry Partch Time Of Fun Together – correct genre: Other
Jonny Greenwood Tehellet – correct genre: Modern classical
Birchville Cat Motel Invisible – correct genre: Drone
Drona Parva Hollow Breath, Pt.2 – correct genre: Drugfolk
Hugh Davies Shozyg I & II (Duo With Richard Orton) (1969) – correct genre: DIY / Bric-a-brac
Eric Dolphy Iron Man – correct genre: Jazz (bearded)
Thomas Bloch Redolfi, Michel – Mare Teno – correct genre: New Age / Space / Mystical
David Kirby The Gospel According to Dave Quam – correct genre: New drone
Jeph Jerman Chicken wire in rain – correct genre: Field recordings
Oren Ambarchi Triste Part 2 – Remodel – correct genre: Nu drone
Thuja Suns 1 – correct genre: Forestry / Spiritual free-folk
John Fahey Joy to the World – correct genre: Holiday / Religious

Get it here: mediafire.com/?mznomyjytftoioy

Volume 3: Dance/Urban
Scorn Doors – correct genre: Dark Bass Fuck-hop
Various Artists 6 – correct genre: Berlin Heroin House
Gas Zauberberg 4 – correct genre: Kompakt
Tricky Overcome – correct genre: Coffee-table Trip Hop / Dance (urban)
Mulatu Astatke Yèkatit (February) – correct genre: Ethiojazz / Africafunk
Gus Gus Monument – correct genre: Nordic Electro-Gothpop
Autechre Medrey – correct genre: Glitchtronica
Quinoline Yellow Arnica – correct genre: Glitchtronica
The Conet Project tcp d3 4 english lady jammed irdial – correct genre: Spyware
The Tuss fredugolon 6 – correct genre: Acid Disco
Salvatore Not Chello! – correct genre: Dance post-dance rock
Bernard Parmegiani Accidents / Harmoniques – correct genre: Electro-acoustic / musique concréte
Satanicpornocultshop 99.2142 feat. frosen pine – correct genre: Sampladelic Mentalism / Plunderphonics / Turntablism / Rap
Aethenor I – correct genre: Black Ambient Doomgaze / Isolationism
BJ Nilsen Impossibilidad – correct genre: Psychoambient
Mika Vainio Further, higher! – correct genre: Ambient / Electronic

Get it here: mediafire.com/?zieorqzmtvo3jm4


More Album Covers

Posted: February 25th, 2008, by Simon Proffitt

All this recent talk about album covers (plus related Creative Review sidebar activity) reminded me to introduce to you Alex Steinweiss, who, in 1938, invented the album cover (see the ‘covers’ link on that page for some awesome early designs). Not content with doing this, in 1948 he invented the LP sleeve. Three cheers for Alex Steinweiss!

2007 – Good Riddance

Posted: January 2nd, 2008, by Simon Proffitt

In most ways, 2007 was pretty miserable, and I’m glad to see the back of it. I didn’t hear much new music, I didn’t watch any new films, I got rid of my entire CD collection accumulated lovingly and painstakingly over the past 14 years, and all the creative projects I engaged in were either not very good, totally ignored, or both.

However, I moved house, which was a good thing, and I now live here, 8 miles from the nearest shop:

Simon P's garden

This is the view from the field on the other side of the road from my house.

Things to do in 2008: earn some money somehow, get Fourier Transform back on track, learn Welsh.


Posted: November 17th, 2007, by Simon Proffitt

Hell yes. Finally, a reunion worth getting excited about. My Bloody Valentine will play live and will also release new material. I’ve got my tickets (I’m off up to Glasgow). Anyone else coming?

All About Me

Posted: October 2nd, 2007, by Simon Proffitt

Well, there’s nothing like a self promotion opportunity to bring a slacker like me out of hibernation.

Here’s the most important thing I’ve been doing: Crania Draft Massif

We’ve just released an online charity compilation album, motivated by the fact that charity singles are, without fail, utter crap on account of having to appeal to the greatest possible number of people, leaving kind-hearted alternative music fans the world over in a rather unpleasant position. So a bunch of weirdos with samplers have been persuaded to remix their (least) favourite charity records, and we’ve compiled the results into 3 CDs worth of disgusting and excellent music. The mp3s, all available from the link above, are all free, but we ask that if you download them you donate some money to Cardiff & District Samaritans, who do great work, are staffed and managed entirely by volunteers and are funded pretty much entirely by donations.

If anyone fancies actually reviewing the album, let me know and I’ll post you some CDs rather than downloading the whole lot.

Erm, what else – oh yeah, you can also buy my new album, which I produced specifically to get rid of a bunch of silly red plastic boxes that I found in my shed:
myspace.com/nationalsubnormal. Mention Diskant when ordering and get some free detritus in the envelope!

Captain Beefheart’s Ten Commandments For Guitarists

Posted: July 5th, 2007, by Simon Proffitt

Found on the Fat Man’s site. We can all learn something from this.

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS…That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.

2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR…Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.

3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH…Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL…Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. IF YOU’RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU’RE OUT…If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE…Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY…You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That’s your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song “I Need A Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he’s doing it.

8. DON’T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT…You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE…When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.

10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE…Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.


Posted: May 11th, 2007, by Simon Proffitt

I’m in the middle of one of those situations where I’ve just discovered something, erm, wonderful/bizarre/ridiculous/thrilling/absurd about one of my favourite bands, and in sharing this wonderful/bizarre/ridiculous/thrilling/absurd thing with you people, I risk becoming the laughing stock of the world because of course everyone else has known about this thing for, oh, at least the past 325 thousand years and I’m dreadfully out of touch for only having just found out about it.

Here it is:

Between 1994 and 1996, Prolapse‘s Linda Steelyard and Mick Derrick starred in 79 episodes of Chez Lester, the greatest soap opera of the modern era, which was broadcast on Leicester cable TV station Cable 7. For those of you that don’t have access to cable TV, or Leicester in the mid 90s, the good news is that all 79 episodes are now available to watch on YouTube. Hooray!

Chez Lester Introduction
Chez Lester Episode 1
The other 78 Chez Lester episodes
Chez Lester on MySpace

Observant Diskant readers may also recognise Jonathan and Matt Kerry of The Freed Unit, who created and shot the whole series. Good on ’em.


Posted: September 28th, 2006, by Simon Proffitt

First record you bought and do you still own it?

The Cult: Revolution 7″, bought from Morrisons in Staveley for 99p. I still have it, but it doesn’t get played too often these days. In those days Morrisons was a rich source of cheap ex-chart vinyl. Revolution really opened the floodgates. I don’t remember the second – probably something ridiculous like The Gap Band.

Last record you bought

4 LP box set of 14th century secular French music from Oxfam in Bath. Haven’t had the courage to listen to it yet.

Last song you downloaded

As we speak (as I type) I’m in the middle of downloading mnortham’s Geosynclines (processed recordings of natural geophysical phenomena, or something) and Will Guthrie’s Spear, which is a solo improv percussion album that I’ve heard people losing their minds over, which must be especially good given that it’s only actually 8 minutes long.

Last song/record you went to enormous lengths to find

I dunno, everything seems so easy these days, what with the internet and stuff. I’m lazy, too – I can’t imagine anything ever being worth tremendous effort. I mean, how good can a piece of rare music really be? Ha ha.

Most elaborately packaged record you own

My currently unreleased solo album is currently packaged in a Ford Fiesta.

Last song you listened to

Cheer-Accident: Graceful Beautiful Animal, from the soundtrack to Gumballhead The Cat. I’m pretty sure that Cheer-Accident are a band that it’s not possible to introduce anyone to. You can’t play anyone individual tracks of theirs, because none of them are particularly memorable or exciting. You have to listen to whole albums. And it’s the kind of music that you have to have a sense of ownership to enjoy. I think that if I overheard someone else playing it without knowing what it was, I’d probably write it off as crap.

Favourite mixtape someone made you that you still listen to

The Mintster made me a great tape of 60’s psychedelia a while ago that would still get played often if the cassette player wasn’t presently upstairs in a box. Mar-c also made me a great mix of POPMUSIC that I actually started to review but never got round to finishing. It will happen, I promise.

What records are you going to buy next?

I’m not allowed to buy any more at the moment.

What are your top 10 most listened to songs on iTunes/last.fm/whatever

According to iTunes:
Shock Headed Peters: Say No To Funk
The Godz: Quack (I’m a Quack)
Thuja: The Magma is the Brother of the Stone
Todd: Hog Blood River
U.S. Maple: Letter to ZZ Top
Sicbay: Herculaneum
Haohio: Marimo
Piero Piccioni: Mr Dante Fontana
Traw & Rhodri Davies: Sgwd Yr Eira
Bing Crosy & Rosemary Clooney: Ol’ Man River


U.S. Maple
Field recordings


Laying laminate flooring

Here’s an additional question for future quizanswerers, which I’ve asked some of you before: what are the ten worst/most unlistenable songs in your collection?


Posted: September 2nd, 2006, by Simon Proffitt

Who here knows Tim Cedar personally? Or even virtually? Can someone please ask him if he has a copy of the Loveblobs Peel Session from 1992? I taped it off the radio when it was first broadcast, but lost the tape in a bizarre automobile fire not too long afterwards. I’ve since been totally unable to trace it – the BBC have routinely ignored my pathetic, pleading correspondences, no-one else I know even heard it. I can’t hold it in any longer. I must hear those songs again. For the past 13 years or so I’ve had to make do with singing the same few seconds of half-remembered blistering scuzz-rock in my head over and over again. It’s a sorry situation. crunch crunch-crunch crunch SAVE MY! crunch crunch-crunch crunch SAVE MY SOUL!*

*probably not the actual lyrics, but those are the ones I rock myself to sleep with every night.