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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…


Posted: January 4th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

Sorry for the lack of fun or looking back at 2008 in this post, but on New Year’s Day 2009, the following equipment was stolen from Souvaris’ gear storage space in Nottingham:

Fender Musicmaster

1 x 1978 Fender Musicmaster (serial number S811832) –  Original black finish sanded down to natural wood. Brand new black scratchplate with distinctive 2x white single coil pickups, 2 x white knobs and 1x white 3-way selector switch (all custom installed). Guitar has black Fender typeface on headstock and piece of silver gaffer tape on rear holding an allen key. Large gouge in back of neck from when I lobbed it across the stage at Toynbee Hall Arts Cafe when we supported Explosions in the Sky back in 2003. Neck has been sanded down from original gloss finish. In a black soft case bag.

1 x Black Ibanez Stratocaster-style guitar – All-black guitar, relatively new. 2 x black humbucker pickups. Black headstock. In a black soft case.

1 x Korg Triton Classic Keyboard – Silver – Large, with several signs of wear and tear. Couple of the knobs missing, a big fat scratch above the pitch bend, a cigarette burn over on the right hand side.

1 x Clavia Nord Lead Keyboard, Mark 1 – Red – Medium-sized with distinctive red body. Several keys do not make any sound and keyboard overall has to be “coaxed into life” to function properly.

1 x Behringer 4 track mixer

2 x guitar pedals (a boss overdrive and a blue delay pedal missing battery cover)

1 x Gator keyboard case

If you hear anything about any of this stuff, please let me know. Anything at all… we desperately need to get this stuff back. I’ve had the Musicmaster since 1999 and it has huge sentimental value (if no real actual value due to various homemade ‘customisations’). It’ is also tremendously unique due to the pickup/selector switch arrangement and sanded down neck.

Simmo has had his entire keyboard setup stolen, and we have no idea how to even begin to afford to replace it, let alone reproducing the unique sounds stored in the Triton that powered the vast majority of our music.

You can email us at ichbinsimmo at gmail dot com, or call Simmo on 07807 221082. Please pass info about the stolen stuff on to anyone you can think of (especially musicians in and around the Nottingham area), and feel free to repost this on message boards, etc.


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?

“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.

Ten Tracks

Posted: October 14th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

I like this idea. Ten hand-picked MP3s for £1, with new sets available monthly. Licensed by MCPS-PRS so the bands get paid but DRM free so the listeners aren’t getting a crap deal instead. Partnered with Scotland’s free arts paper The Skinny and currently featuring a set of tunes picked by Optimo so it’s checking all the local hipster buttons too. Swishy iTunes style website. AND they have a track by diskant faves Findo Gask.

It seems so rare these days to see a good idea in the music business that isn’t ripping people off or making a quick buck or getting sued by the RIAA. I wish them the best of luck.


Kill Your Timid Notion 2008

Posted: October 7th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Dundee’s annual experimental art and music festival is upon us. It takes place this very weekend at the DCA with the usual impressive line-up of experimental artists, musicians and filmmakers. During the weekend you can enjoy live performances, film, visual art, workshops and much more. Tickets are £25 for the weekend or £10 per day and you can view the whole line-up right here. If you’re based in Glasgow or Edinburgh, they’re even putting on FREE BUSES to get you there and back since there’s train strikes going on. First come first served so get there on time to secure your seat.

EDINBURGH – the bus (Browns) will leave from outside the Fruitmarket Gallery EH1 1DF at 17:30.
GLASGOW – the bus (Silver Choice) will leave from outside the CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3JD at 17:30.
Return journeys from DCA at the end of the performances, around 23:15.

If you’re not in Scotland then fear not, as KYTN will be on tour in November and December. More info at Arika.

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…

Capsule needs YOU!

Posted: September 1st, 2008, by Marceline Smith


Tennents Mutual line-up vote

Posted: July 22nd, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Well, the votes have been added up for who WE THE FANS want to play at the new Triptych replacement event(s).  Here are the results (complete with pie charts!!). As expected, it looks exactly like the average festival but without the experimental/local stuff of Triptych. Ho hum. I appreciate they’re trying to do something different here but give some indie kids a voting form and they will just write Muse, Belle and Sebastian, Arcade Fire without even looking.

The next stage should be interesting, and one we are getting no say in, as they take the band list, locations and type of event votes and go and book all the events. As they say here, “We’ll feature as broad a selection of talent from the final Top 40 within this year’s full line-up as possible…budget and artist availability permitting.” (my italics). If one were to be cynical, one would think they will just book whatever they damn well like, considering that at least 50% of these bands will refuse or be unable to play, especially since the kids also voted for “A series of smaller site-specific gigs”.

ATP’s version seemed a lot more transparent, and they were pretty quick to get unavailable bands crossed off so people could move their votes elsewhere. The Tennents version is turning out a lot more behind closed doors, despite being ‘shaped’ by the fans.

I await further news with interest.

Last.fm makes musicians scrobble for pennies

Posted: July 11th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

Sarky IT news site the Register has an interesting article about Last.fm and independent labels. Apparently the site (now owned by the massive CBS) that used to be cuddly little Audioscrobbler isn’t passing much of anything on to the artists whose music it streams, despite shouting about how cool it is.

Just 10% of advertising revenue goes into the musicians’ pot, not any of the subscription revenue. Maybe it’s that I’m running AdBlock but I don’t remember seeing any adverts on last.fm.

The article continues an amusing analogy between “web2.0” sites and sharecropping, where lots of people do work on a small scale while one big site (i.e. landlord) creams off the revenue. It’s all about the Benjamins, no matter how many beanbags you have in your office…