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!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

Audioscope 2002 Photo Diary

The annual Audioscope festival in Oxford is undoubtably A Good Thing. A day of good bands in a nice venue and with all proceeds going to Shelter. I missed the first event last year so I was determined not to be so stupid this year and made my way there via the highly economical route of Glasgow-London-south of France-London-Oxford.

Anyway, this year’s line-up was rather fantastic, featuring up and coming diskant hosted bands Cat on Form and Souvaris, fellow Scots Fighting Red Adair, local talent from Nought, Eeebleee, Dustball and Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element and some respected weirdo electronic pop from Pram and Appliance. So I turned up camera in hand, intending to capture the day’s fun. That’s until I offered my help at the merchandise stall and ended up being Appliance merch expert for the day. I still took some photos of the bands though so read on and re-live the day or feel like you were really there.

* * *
Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element

Managing to be simultaneously modest and immodest, Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element decided to ‘do a Shellac’ and perform first since half the Audioscope organisers were in the band. Also meant they could set up their complicated array of electronical bits and pieces, guitars and slide projector and run through a healthy soundcheck before the masses arrived. Despite all this it sadly went awry. From the audience side it all still sounded wonderfully loud, booming with the sound of robots let loose with guitars but tempered by a feeling of discomfort that things were not quite in sync with eachother. And they might have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for the scowling and bewildered looks of confusion passing between the band making it obvious this was not the intended output. Ahh, but at least there were nice pictures of shopping trolleys and hippos to look at eh?

Because of losing a fairly large chunk of sleeping time the night before, I was not in the most clever of minds and thus forgot to bring my flash with me. The flash I had carried all the way to France and back. Duh. Because of this, some of the photos I took are a bit on the dark side and will not scan sufficiently well. Mostly the ones of those fast moving bands where you can’t just leave the shutter open for ages. So that’s why you’re looking at a nice photo of Sunnyvale rather than one of Dustball. Which is a shame ‘cos Dustball were pretty darn ace. I’d heard tell of their catchy indie tunes and this, coupled with a release on Ady Foley’s Vacuous Pop Label, should have raised my expectations. But I was still very surprised to discover quite how catchy the tunes were and how immediately they stuck in the head. Managing to fit the genre of ‘stuff Steve Lamacq would like’ without being crap, they should be the ones all over the telly, not bloody Hundred Reasons.

But, hey it was mid-afternoon and we’d be running out of energy soon. So praise be for Souvaris giving us some space to recharge our batteries by keeping us rooted to the spot with dumb wide-eyed attentiveness. Building up their songs from slow dreamy beginnings they sedated our veins just enough to attack us wth swathes of electrified noise to get the blood fizzing. They were best in their quiet inventive interludes, banging away on toy pianos and breaking hearts with accordian sighs.

Fighting Red Adair

Next up were my countrymen, my..er..homies Fighting Red Adair, now rocketing to fame on the back of headlining the first ever diskant gig. We made them, let’s not forget that. Okay, we didn’t really, but we did encourage the beautiful friendship between themselves and Sunnyvale that brought about this happy reunion. Now, Fighting Red Adair rock. They rock like a slab of reinforced concrete hitting you full in the face and stalk the stage like family of angry bears, shouting and muttering like drunken crazy people. They want blood and they’ll throw punches to get it and, having survived a bash on the head with a glass bottle and a nine hour bus journey during the last 48 hours, they weren’t in any mood to go easy on Oxford’s ears. They certainly woke everyone up, that’s for sure.

And while we’re on the subject I could quite have done with less of the waking up. I tell you now, do not share a room with these people. The only reason they actually played Audioscope that day was because of the lack of stabbing implements within reach of my fevered, sleep-starved hands after hours and hours of incessant babbling about Transformers had driven me quite insane. I did get some satisfaction later, watching them stumble out of bed at 7am after an hour’s sleep to go spend nine hours on a coach back to Scotland. Ha ha ha. Actually, did they get home? Maybe they’re still stumbling around Oxford trying to find the Bus Station.

Cat on Form were amazing. One of the most honest, heartfelt and truly inspiring bands around. Steve’s touching speech on the politics of homelessness made one of the day’s only direct mentions of the reasons behind Audioscope without wandering anywhere near ‘aren’t we great doing stuff for charity’ suckup mode. If you know a bunch of friendlier people making such intelligent, sharp-edged, gleeful, truthful, fall about on the floor exciting music then, well, I don’t believe you. Band of the day, no argument.

Eeebleee were an odd little band. I was not previously aware of them in the slightest and was intrigued to discover they had a double bass and a synth and stuff. I expect they often get called called quirky and indeed they are but not in a novelty way but by being unexpected. So they knocked me a little bit sideways with their smoothly dark songs while managing to avoid being odd for odd’s sake.

I liked Appliance a lot. They took me on as an apprentice and taught me a trade. I am now an uncertified expert in the extensive Appliance back catalogue and can tell YOU the difference between a CD single, a CD EP and a mini album. Appliance’s merchandise display was so complex it needed a whole person [er, me] to look after it and, I believe, lost them a couple of customers who were so baffled by the choice that they couldn’t decide what to buy. The ‘problem’ with Appliance is that they don’t have a gimmick, a selling point, something that makes you remember them. Thus they’ve been going for ages without making any major dent in public knowledge. I always connect them with Stereolab for some reason. Appliance are kind of like the serious Stereolab, lacking the overt pop but still keeping all the tunes. Wonderfully repetitive with the sort of melodies you can live in for weeks without noticing the time go past. Their set seemed awfully short.

I liked Appliance so much that when Nought came on I didn’t even notice for about five minutes and then was hit with the realisation that there were still two more bands to play even though it felt like we’d been in the Zodiac for about twelve weeks. I stumbled over in time to see guitars being attacked by power drills [yes, in the first five minutes of the set!] and it was obvious this was no dull rock band. But, blame tiredness, blame my lack of local awe, blame my being completely mad and wrong if you like, but it just wasn’t happening between me and Nought. It was loud, damn loud, intricate and metal as it gets but I couldn’t work up much enthusiasm. Plus their habit of ending songs twelve times was just infuriating. Uh, everyone else thought they was amazing though.

Now that Appliance had left and taken my livelihood with them, I was free to wander about and see how everyone was getting on. And they were all drunk of course. I spent a good twenty minutes becoming embroiled in some deep and dark Fighting Red Adair inter-band plot before we slowly noticed that Pram were on stage and tried to pay them some attention. What with everyone being tired, drunk and deafened by Nought, it was no surprise that minds were wandering. Pram could have played a set of John Cale covers or a set of popular hits from the 80s and everyone would have been just as happy. Which was a bit of a shame as they were giving us a preview of their new songs and I’d never seen Pram before. What I do remember was that were inventively childlike with their ironing boards, the succession of weird and wonderful instruments, the lullaby pop melodies and their good grace and humour in playing to a bunch of drunken wasters, waltzing out of time on the beer sticky floor.

And then it was all over, bar the dodgy indie club, chips on the way home and usual drunken rampaging. I shall definitely be there next year.