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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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…

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.

Postcrossing: Like bookcrossing but with postcards

Posted: December 24th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

This is a cute idea. Seems like the only things sent through the post now are bills, court summonses, junk mail and things that you’ve paid for. Postcrossing has the potential to turn picking up your mail back into a pleasure. The idea is that you send a postcard to an address randomly selected from their database. Then some random from elsewhere in the world posts one to you. Lots of potential for warm fuzzy niceness, or at least helping you to decorate a spare wall.

Not really the time of year to sign up to anything, especially since I sent precisely zero Xmas cards (“merry xmas diskanteers!” and all that), but I’m going to try it out in the new year and will let you know how it goes.

Sony BMG vies with Sony BMG for the Xmas No. 1!!!!!!1!

Posted: December 17th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

If I watched TV I might have felt my blood pressure rise at the thought of a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah by whichever indentured servant of a pop puppet wins the year’s holiday from shelf stacking that is the X Factor.

But I don’t and haven’t heard any of them, so the whole “get Buckley’s version in the chart” thing had passed me by till this article in the Guardian (how old does that make me?). All very laudable, reminds people how good Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley are and probably shows up the soulessness of the X Factor process.

Until you get to this quote at the bottom of the article:

“A spokesman for Sony BMG, which counts Cohen, Buckley and Burke among its artists,”

They own all 3 of the versions. The record industry is terminally ill from lack of innovation, and the best story that can be manufactured about the Xmas No 1 (remember when that felt like it mattered?) is an interdepartmental pissing match between execs at one of the 3 multi-billion dollar dinosaurs that stumble along, choking, after the p2p meteor strike which set them towards extinction.

The question is, where are the funny looking, nimble mammals scampering through the undergrowth and how long do have to wait for them to take over?

Here’s a dilemma

Posted: November 19th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

I’m listening to Oval‘s 1990s glitch classic Systemich and, well, it’s skipping all over the place.

Do I clean the CD? Or do I go with the (ruptured) flow and treat it as a developing, self-remixing art object?

“The robots develop their own musical culture. There are no pre-programmed musical rules.”

Posted: November 3rd, 2008, by Stan Tontas

New Scientist report on experiments with music & artificial intelligence. One robot “sings” a few notes to the other, which sings back. If the 1st robot thinks the songs are similar, they agree to remember the sequence.

The researcher hopes that this will lead to the robots helping “him to compose music that no human would ever come up with”. I am sceptical, not just because the attached video (Quicktime format, <1 minute) is pretty underwhelming.

If the robots choose the sounds which are the same, where is the scope for development? Can robots do improv? Or will this just lead to them adopting a fixed repertoire (which, to be fair would be pretty cool if they started from zero with regards to the robots making sounds)?

Surely the thing that would lead to new sounds would be the criteria that the robots use to reject or adopt a “song” – and here it seems to be “this is the same as what my mate sings”. That brings you a zillion indie bands, not “new musical cultures”. I get that there are “emergent” properties from simple systems (think fractals) but the way this story is described, these are being selected out of the robots. If the song isn’t sung back to you it’s discarded.

Poor bastards! Not even self-aware but still subject to merciless criticism by its only friend! Imagine a robot Jimi Hendrix. No-one singing your tunes back to you. Cursed to artistic isolation until musical tastes catch up to you. Singing unheard till your batteries run out or you break down through overwork in the face of an unappreciative world, found disassembled in a bath, OD’ing on acid and lithium…

Maybe the answers are in the full research paper.

The Caretaker, Citizens Theatre

Posted: October 27th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

If you win the Nobel Prize for Literature, you generally have to be pretty good at writing (this is not the case with the Peace Prize). The 3 novels I’ve read by Prize winners have all been pretty good but poetry and theatre aren’t so much my thing. Harold Pinter was the 2005 Laureate and his The Caretaker is currently running at the Citizens Theatre.

It’s a good production but I was left feeling cold. Never having seen any Pinter before, it still seemed quite familiar, perhaps showing the large influence his work has had in the nearly 50 years since this play launched him. The words aren’t really dialogue; often it seems that the characters on stage are talking to themselves more than each other. The 3 performances are affecting and funny by turns, so why was I so unmoved?

I think there’s a lack of humanity in the play.

I get the feeling that Harold Pinter just doesn’t like people very much. I’m not arguing for unrealistic, Hollywood-ised views of relationships, but making things look bleak is no more realistic than making them look bright. You can find a chink of light as easily as a shadow in any scenario. I’m not interested in being made to feel that human contact and friendship is impossible, that hell is other people, or any of that nihilistic, existentialist “angry young man” stuff that seems common in post-WW2 theatre. If you want to eavesdrop on misery, that’s what Eastenders is for. I came away feeling like I had been manipulated into feeling bad. And not in a good way, but in a “no sympathy between people” way.

The humour seems to come from mocking the characters’ aspirations. When we’re told about the shed that clearly isn’t likely to get built, are we being invited to mock that character’s failure to achieve even that modest ambition? No thanks. That’s on the level of forum trolling.

So yeah: performances excellent, obviously an important and influential play, but did I enjoy it? No.

I like this animation

Posted: October 2nd, 2008, by Stan Tontas


I can’t imagine the work that went into this, first animation to make me slack-jawed since Princess Mononoke. I have an idea that it’s already been ripped off for a car advert but that’s hardly their fault.

Made in Argentina by some people / thing called BluBlu.

Not the famous Clash

Posted: September 23rd, 2008, by Stan Tontas

Apparently a Dundee-based music magazine is getting ~£230,000 public funds to fund its digital expansion.

the company also produces most of its journalism in London, in words of O’Rourke, carrying out “the nuts and bolts” work on the magazine and the website in Dundee.

It is an approach that has brought them wide plaudits, winning several industry awards and an exclusive interview with Paul McCartney on the release of his new album last year.

I’ve never seen a copy. Is it any good? (I mean by the standards of magazines that value exclusive Paul McCartney interviews in the 21st century….) Suppose its cool that there’s work there for typesetters, etc (though there seems to be a shortage of proofreaders if that Sunday Herald extract is typical) but what does this mean, “massive digital expansion of his brand”.

Yeah, I’ve seen a music website too. I could name a couple of people who’ll do you one for less than half a million and all.

Someone is missing the point, probably it’s me…

Finland invades Glasgow tonight (gently)

Posted: September 19th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

I nearly forgot about this at the CCA tonight. Plenty of unpronounceable but genius Finnish artists on Fönal Records are playing.


If this had happened 2 years ago I would’ve exploded with joy; now I’m just excited, in a tea and knitted jumper kind of way. First gig for a long time where I’ve thought “just £10? excellent.”