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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diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #3

Posted: January 2nd, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

(Originally posted October 2003)

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

“Next month,” I wrote [something like], “expect arbitrary gurglings about Lightning Bolt’s ‘Wonderful Rainbow’”. That was back in April. Since then there’s been a bit of an upheaval here at Diskant Towers, so we’ve been away. However, normal service can now be resumed – if under a different, altogether more appropriate, banner from now on.

You may have come here after reading the blurb about me being an obscurist bastard, for which I applaud, because I certainly wouldn’t have bothered. There’s nothing worse than reading a whole load of shit by some twat dribbling on like some heinous King of the Scene about some bands that you’ve never heard of (and will probably never hear of again), in terms that mean nothing to the average passer-by. So if you find yourself thinking, “What an [elitist] asshole!” at any point during this column, please feel free to email me and admonish me accordingly. It certainly isn’t my intention to alienate or blow my own-fucking-cleverness trumpet.

Speaking of which, do you know that godawful scene in that heinously smug film ‘High Fidelity’? You know, the one with Mincing John Cusack doing a wonderfully subtle bit of product placement for the Beta Band by saying “Watch me sell three copies of the Bayda Band”, putting it on the stereo, and having a strategically placed ‘customer’ turn around and say “What’s this?”; just so he can knowledgably assert “It’s the Bayda Band!”, and the customer guy can nod approval and say “cool” whilst stroking his namby-pamby adolescent beard like a faux-pseudo-bohemian hipster? I fucking hate that contrived ‘hey, I’m Hollywood, but I’m hip to the alternative’ scene. Unfortunately, it is the closest reference I can find for my intentions for this column. Bah.

But there are few things that make me happier than seeing someone turned onto music that I myself have discovered by random chance, or by taking a blind leap of faith in something I’ve heard about. It’s not the ego rush of being there first and being a superior snobby bastard about it, but the genuine pleasure of seeing someone get a kick out of something that presses your button too. The last time this happened to me was a couple of weeks ago, and once again my hapless victim was Simmo, who has frequently been my passenger on road trips. (In fact, most of my tapes in my car are designed to assuage/aggravate his moods, depending on how annoying I’m feeling whilst I drive.) This time around, we were off gallivanting to what was going to be our shared abode in Nottingham, and I’d just got this self-titled 7” on Wantage by an American band called The Whip. Upon hearing it once, I had to dub it straight onto the end of a dodgy Orchid tape, because it was the biggest, best, most rockingest new thing I’d heard in absolutely ages. Like since the time I first heard the mighty Part Chimp fellas. Even better, they had these huge heavy riffs with slightly odd rhythms, and weren’t afraid to pound them out again and again for your sonic delight. Hell, the A-side even has a couple false endings before it blasts through a few more repetitions towards a final conclusion. Plus, the singer sounds like Ian McKaye fattened up by years of WeightGain3000 abuse and no skateboarding. I haven’t got a clue what he’s singing about, but it sounds grand and I’m sure it’s deadly important. Unfortunately, The Whip’s drummer recently passed away in an unfortunate riverside accident (which isn’t funny, you Spinal Tap-loving trickster), and I’ve not idea whether they intend to carry on or not. It’s a damn shame because there’s some fantastic skin pounding on this, and it’s some really good stuff. Gah. In fact, it’s safely the best 7” single I’ve bought all year – mainly because I can’t think of anything else I’ve acquired that was any cop at all that wasn’t something grotesquely expensive+by Black Dice.

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diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #2

Posted: December 30th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

(Originally posted April 2003)

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

[Cue: shift from bright-eyed enthusiasm of a spazzy debut column to world-weary sighs for this month’s disorganised heap of inconsequential rubbish.]

I’m sure you’ll be incredibly grateful to find out that since I moved into my current bedroom there’s always been this great stack of records that resides somewhere around me feet whenever I dint to use this pathetic excuse for a personal computing machine. Usually comprising of the stuff I’ve most recently bought/received/borrowed/stolen, it lives perpetually piled up against my stereo’s speakers. And though the vinyl and CDs (occasionally abetted by tapes and minidiscs) are in a constant state of cycle, some occasionally get clogged up in the stack for months and months. The Dischord box-set is still there (something to do with 73 songs to listen to), as is The Polyphonic Spree’s album, for some bizarre reason (probably because I’m never cheerful enough to trust myself to put it on). A bunch of CDs by Rob Crow’s bands have just found their way into there, and I can’t see them leaving for a while: Heavy Vegetable/Thingy/Pinback are just all too endearingly good for a day to go by where listening to at least one of them isn’t required. All of this is fascinating, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Anyway, top of this heap for the last month has been Sole‘s second album, Selling Live Water. Not long after I first discovered Anticon through cLOUDDEAD (much like everyone else, then), I heard lots of intriguing things about Sole… he was an original co-founder of the collective, and a rap prodigy at 14, only to ‘lose it’ and disappear for the best part of a decade. This is his second album on Anticon (I haven’t found his first in 18-odd months of looking), and a fine creation it is too. As an MC, Sole’s scathing wit and coruscating delivery often verges on brilliance, and he scores points over his similarly talented label-mate Sage Francis (an amazing live performer and freestyler, if you get the chance to see him) by avoiding gauche cartoons of self-flagellation – neatly reducing the Marshall Mathers comparisons. Instead you get a nice sticker on the front, screaming about David Koresh meets G.G. Allin, or something (I wish), which is partly a lie, but at least gives you a warning that Sole’s well aware of the troubles in the world/his soul, and he’s not gonna let up until you’ve heard all about them too. So, right, like; the album’s really good and everything, and there are some great words and some decent loops and beats and shit, but I’m starting to worry. I now own the best part of a dozen Anticon LPs, and they’re all starting to sound the same. I’ve seen the press release for this one talking shit about “a bomb squad of a production team,” or some such rot, which just means that again all these friends in Anticon are making ‘guest appearances’ on eachother’s albums. Predictions begin here that within six months all Anticon output will become as depressingly and numbingly monotonous in its consistency of sound/output as Morr Music managed last year. This album is definitely going to be the last Anticon record I buy unless persuaded otherwise by several positive reviews – admittedly because it’s probably as close as you’re going to get to a definitive MC’s record from these guys. (If you’re thinking of doing the same, make sure you get cLOUDDEAD, Boom Bip & DoseOne, and either Alias or Sage Francis before you pack it in. Actually, anything with Dose One is bound to be good).

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diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #1

Posted: December 26th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

(Originally posted February 2003)

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

Introductions? Pah! You’ll get no introductions here. Or explanations, for that matter.

Instead, I’ll break into full-flow about a rather dandy 7″ EP by Fonda 500, entitled ‘The Colours and the Birdsongs.’ Though it’s a donkey-flogging second single from their third album, it’s another engagingly quirky and mildly endearing release from the band. Which is always nice. Like a particularly lively Attention Deficit Disorder-suffering infant, it wobbles and gurgles all over the place, rarely stopping on one idea for more than thirty seconds. All mildly silly instrumentation and occasionally indecipherable vocals, there’s identifiably an ‘indie band’ hidden beneath the plethora of vocoders, Casio keyboards and crappy drum machines, but don’t let that put you off. Moreover, there’s seven “tracks” in the space of fourteen minutes, so little room for baggage on this decidedly rickety yet incredibly comfortable and familiar cart. Decidedly lovable then, all wibble-and-burble-y, and it all far from outstays its welcome. The words woo and yay are rarely more appropriate in such a cutesy setting.

Continuing the “damn you all to hell, we like stupidity and we like it pop” ethos, Grandpa Records‘ own Stars of Aviation (okay, so it’s their own label) are looking for someone to release their music, you insensitive tripe. They used to be called Florence y’see, under which banner they got played by the John Peel man who dares spin records on airwaves reserved for music you’ve already heard a thousand times, and also released an EP too. For some inexplicable reason, they decided to abandon all that momentum and become another band with stars in their name (see Stars on the Water, Stars of the Lid, Trembling Blue Stars, Planes mistaken for Stars, yawn…)… and for what reason? We know not. Oh well, names matter little when you’ve discovered the magic Grandaddy trick of arpeggiated keyboard chords, which instantly makes any song a heady mix of lovely pop lullaby and heart-aching slow depression. Just as well that they’ve got a whole bunch of other good things in their little bags of songsmithery to keep you distracted.

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KONG – Leather Penny (CD, Brew Records)

Posted: December 9th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

Manchester-based misanthropes Kong return with their second single, this time on CD and everything. “Leather Penny” is another track from a forthcoming-in-2009 debut album called ‘Snake Magnet’ and is backed by two versions of a song called “Count Too Nine” featuring special guest vocalists from bands The Bronx and Future of the Left that I can’t tell you about because there’s just the one track on my promo copy.

So then, first single “Blood of a Dove” showcased a band weaned on the sharp edges and heavy weight of early ’90s Chicago-based rock bands such as The Jesus Lizard and Shellac (I know, both are still going in one manner or another…), with an admirable feeling of dread looming over the disjointed riffs and malformed chords. It sounded pretty great too.

“Leather Penny” continues in much the same vein of skullfuckery, featuring another killer riff that hooks itself to your brain and refuses to budge, despite the song lurching all over the place rhythmically. The bass and guitar woomph and screech appropriately, whilst the drums do the inevitable pounding on your cortex. Dramatic pauses to emphasise the weight of the band’s attack mean the vocals take a full minute to come in, and it’s no bad thing because they’re spat out in a manner so venemous it would make Johnny Rotten proud (and, hopefully, ashamed of hawking butter on television). Frankly, I really don’t like the sound of the guy’s voice much, but that’s almost a boon to this type of music.

I haven’t got a clue what the fuck the lyrics are about because I couldn’t understand a word of them. It’s not really an issue because what Kong are all about is SOUND. Sheer fucking brutality of juddering rock ballast slamming against your earlobes SOUND. Running a blunt knife down the back of your knife and boxing your ears for a laugh SOUND. The vocals are just another part of the arsenal they employ to onslaught your ears. They’d be a great band to see live.

Just two singles into their life, Kong are still a young band, even if their members have apparently been around the musical block once or twice. Their sound is pretty great and they have cool riffs seemingly coming out of their ears. At this stage, originality isn’t their strongest suit, but I, for one, will be watching with interest to see where they go next.

Kong Myspace page

Brew Records website

“Leather Penny” official video

“Leather Penny” live video on YouTube

CHOPPS DERBY – You don’t know what broccoli is? EP (12″, The Gull’s Trunk Records)

Posted: November 23rd, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

“I’d rather beanflick my granny.” Perhaps the best line in this old-skool style 12″ EP, with 5 jams on the A side and instrumentals with well dodgy skits on the B side. This here is the debut release from brand new UK Hip Hop label The Gull’s Trunk Records, and also the debut by (Droylsden) Manchester-based Chopps Derby – described by his own label as a “well hard bumbaseed turn bare sick emcee”. Make of that what you will.

Stick on the music and you’re greeted with some slinky rough-assed beats dumped on top of a load of samples – so far so good – and then Chopps Derby (barely) opens his mouth: “Have a fuckin’ good time… go down the dogs!”. Yep, ‘Down the Dogs’ is all about going down the track, getting blitzed and getting up to all kinds of filthy mischief. Further songs talk about Top Gear, Matalan, getting pissed, casual racism and bigotry, disgusting habits and driving like a prick around car parks (“Smashed into this kid riding a bike with stabilisers then I laughed / The pigs think I’m a twat cause I got on my fog lights /They keep sayin’ next time I’ll be fined – yeah right…”). Slick and smooth flow this is not: a bitingly  satire on modern UK culture it may well be. Whether you find it hilarious or not depends on how liberal your values are and just how strong your comedy stomach is. Chopps Derby is probably the musical equivalent of the morning after a lamb jalfrezi followed by a dozen pints of Red Stripe and then a dodgy kebab on the way home. Either you’re lovin’ it or you’re feeling slightly sick. Whatever the case, if you can put up with a chorus like “Open the window / put my nob in your gob / and now you cry like a tart,” you’ll probably be fine.

So, comedy hip hop. It’s a bit of an albatross tag, but Chopps Derby does his best to wear it well. His delivery is like a someone stoned on ketamine and probably doesn’t do much for ‘proper’ hip hop heads, but who gives a fuck about them? If you can make sense of it, it’s vaguely in time and – most crucially – if the words are good, it should be good enough. Think of Chopps Derby as punk hip hop if you want. Personally, I find moments on this EP genuinely funny and even occasionally snort-inducing. You may just be offended. Best way to find out? Watch the video below:




Shameless Self-Promotion ALERT: Dead or American & Souvaris @ The Captain’s Rest, Glasgow on Sat 1st Nov

Posted: October 30th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

Apologies for this, but seeing as Souvaris has been an ongoing concern for over 8 years now and have visited many strange and exciting lands (and venues) in our time, it’s always been a minor scandal that we have never ventured over the Scottish border. HOWEVER! This will change on Saturday, as we will be coming to Glasgow FOR THE FIRST TIME to help local heroes Dead or American to celebrate the release of their second album “Thaumaturgy” (that’s the art/science of miracle production, fact fans) on Predestination Records. With only two bands, it’s going to be a proper PARTY and hopefully both bands will get the chance to stretch out a bit and let loose. When your songs are as long as ours, it can only be a good thing. IT’S GOING TO BE A DOOZY!

So that’s £4 in, doors at 8pm and it’s at the Captain’s Rest. See you there?




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.
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KONG – Blood of a Dove (Brew Records, 7″)

Posted: August 3rd, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

Shit. This’ll be the third time I try to review this record. Let’s hope I don’t scratch the CD any more or my crappy computer doesn’t crash from overheating again before I reach the end. Anyway:

This record came out on Monday 28th July. It’s in a limited edition of 500 in translucent red, which is cool because everyone knows that coloured 7″s are totally down with the kids now. And translucent red is always the best colour to have your vinyl. You can buy it here: www.myspace.com/brewrecords.

This review is pretty redundant. Not only because it’s late, but because you can listen to both sides of it here: www.myspace.com/kongdom.

But whatever. Maybe you want to read a little whilst you listen. So who are Kong? A power trio (guitar, bass, drums) from Manchester, I heard they contain members of Oceansize (who released their debut 7″ on Diskant-related label Errol back in about ’99) and Amplifier (who I have a demo CD by that must have come out in about 2000 and are apparently still going). There are a bunch of videos of them on Youtube, the most pertinent of which is probably this:


From this video you can make out a penchant for clown masks; that their guitarist manages to make a Fender Stratocaster sound really nasty for the first time I can remember in years; that their bassist seems to wish he was Andy from That Fucking Tank:

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PIFCO – A Go Go (Run of the Mill, CD)

Posted: June 22nd, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

Pifco are brilliant. I just wanted to get that out of the way right now.

A fantastically unique two-piece from Leeds, they consist of Ste (clanging guitars and yelping vocals) and Mary (super-motorik drums and keyboard drones) and this is their first release proper after some compilation appearances and a self-released tape that was dead swanky. I can’t even recall how long Pifco have been going any more, but they always seemed to have been ‘around’ and have perked up many a live show I’ve attended. Kudos then, to Run of the Mill, for getting them to finally release something.

It’s a pretty tasty package too, with a full album’s worth of tunes squashed down and packed into barely more than half an hour. Pifco songs rarely get as far a bridge or coda, but then Pifco really don’t follow any musical ‘rules’ – they are a perfect example of a band that exist entirely in their own universe and, by God, it’s a great place to visit sometimes.

The official press release for this album, fantastically named “Pifco A Go Go”, mentions Sonic youth, the Fall and the Coachwhips, but to my mind they’ll always make me think of those early Stereloab records (you know, the really good ones, before they went all cafe pop). It’s probably the Roland keyboard drones that Mary tends to use as a bass guide for Ste’s rambling, jangling guitar lines, but there’s also something of that killer combination of Neu!-style droning motorik with simple pop hooks that works so well on so many songs on this killer of a little album.

Reputedly, Pifco have three more albums’ worth of material good to go. They’ll probably record them in their cellar, as this album was. I, for one, can’t wait.




L’Animaux Tryst Haunt 7″ Series #3: Lightning Strike Lightning

Posted: March 7th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

To kick off new-look diskant’s first record reviews for 2008, here’s the third in a set of three from a new year-long subscription-only series of twelve 7″s (in a limited edition of 300) from Maine, Portland’s fantastic new micro-label, L’Animaux Tryst. Coming out as three 7″s per season, these records form the first batch that came out late in 2007; the newest batch are just about to become available – for more information look here.

Lightning Strike Lightning are propelled through an echo chamber by Adrienne Heflich’s beautifully distant voice on the A-side of this 7″, entitled “The Moon”. Brad Rose of Digitalis called it his favourite 7″ of 2007, singling out the lyrics for special praise, but I’m damned if I can understand a word through this particularly pretty wash of understated percussion and what could well be a banjo providing melodic impetus. In the end, the song drifts out of rhythm into an unearthly but utterly enchanting fade-out of voices floating, calling through the cosmos to each other until they wink out like stars in the early-morning dawn.

Flip-side track “No You Won’t” floats slowly back in from the ether, with more indistinct vocals and what definitely is a banjo this time, buoyed by some severely-effected flute lines and a general sense of timelessness. It’s another minor beauty, and a wholly appropriate last side in this first batch of records, tying together similar approaches in terms of textures and ramshackle melodies, echoing gently through valleys of strummed chords and alien sounds. If this is the sound of Maine, Portland today then it’s extremely welcome in my Nottingham, UK home.

Again, a special note for the chipboard packaging, with silkscreened artwork overlaying a a photograph pasted onto the front. It’s simultaneously crude and beautiful; an apt introduction to the music contained within.

So there you have it: three 7″s making up the first of what promises to be an extremely lovely set of twelve records by the end of the year. Future 7″s will include contributions from such heavy hitters as The North Sea, GHQ and the heavenly Elephant Micah, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

The 7″ records are available together as the Autumn 2007 mailing of the Tryst Haunt series. To purchase the first bundle (for $24 USA, $28 Worldwide, postage paid), or to subscribe to the series for the full year ($75 US, $90 Worldwide, three records every three months, 12 records in all), visit http://www.lanimauxtryst.com/haunt.htm.