25.4.16

V&A WTF


The V&A have decided to ban people from sketching at its temporary exhibits. This means that rich boomers, Chinese tourists and Knightsbridge ladies-that-lunch will be able to amble unobstructed. Gotta admit that this has nasty political overtones to it.

Above is a scan of a drawing I did in 1990 as a foundation student at Camberwell Art School. This was my first trip to the institution. And I'm still doodling after all these years even as the system increasingly emphasises the stupidity and futility of any creative endeavour.

Net-worth people: How do you think those artworks you pay billions for came into being?

My Gigs 1990


Irresistible. A list of concerts I had been to from an old notebook from 1990. Some great memories. Aah those unforgettable Seers gigs...

23.4.16

Fragments - Techno In The UK 1989-1993



A classic bit of troublemaking really. On Billy Bunter's recent show with Floyd Dyce, Floyd pointed to the massive influence of Bleep'n'Bass on his classic "Daydreaming". I got to thinking about of a strictly UK bleep mix that steered several 'Nuum figures (like A Guy Called Gerald and Mark Ryder) into Techno where they also rightfully belong. Also there's the breakbeats of TFSOL and Black Dog. It was never a hard and fast distinction in those days. Also there was the sheer joy of rubbing B12 up against the 'Nuum and rejoicing in beautiful tracks by Kirk Degiorgio and Iueke. On the wheels of steel. No edits at all.

Tap

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22.4.16

On Vinyl

TLDR: Not a record collector? Keep moving.



My love of music was always intertwined with the format. In the old days that was a connection of necessity. If you didn't own the format you couldn't hear the music. This fact one never questioned. What that seemingly implicit connection obscured was that within it are intertwined two different impulses: the visceral reaction to the sound (a communication of more deeply sophisticated and sensitive humanity) and the fetishistic acquisition of symbolically loaded talismans.

First it was cassettes. The real point at which I was aware of being bitten by the bug of musico-material acquisition was lying awake daydreaming of how on the Saturday I would buy The Best of The Doors Volume Two on cassette. Soon after I started into vinyl records. Records, these mysteriously two dimensional objects in a three dimensional cosmos, are of a tactically human dimension and are more perfectly crafted fetish objects than tapes. Three years ago I tried to stop buying records. But then there's that delicious moment when you fall off the wagon. Regardless, the impulse has been there for a while with me to break vinyl's spell. In fact, for a few reasons, I'd say in the last year this is looking like an easier proposition.

The first reason is that vinyl has long ceased to be an authentic object. In the eighties and through the dance music explosion of the nineties vinyl was real. Records weren't an afterthought for niche consumers. They weren't things to hang on your wall like tokens. In other words, to refer to the elemental connection outlined above, they weren't purely fetish objects. They had a unquestionable utilitarian purpose as carriers of sound.

Grime twelve inches around 2003-5 were for me the final real records I bought. I remember every week frantically buying twelve inches off Cameo at Uptown in a Soho basement. It felt like the last chance saloon. Nearly ten years ago I also remember buying what must have been my first completely unreal record. That was Vampire Weekend's debut in 2007. It's a great album but the disc itself sounded terrible, perhaps the knowledge of mastering had been forgotten? It came with something which has become an essentially curious, wholly standard addition with vinyl, downloadable mp3s. These seem logical to us today but how can they be? Surely it would be truer just to buy the mp3s? When I see new vinyl releases, like for instance this record of Young Thug's Barter 6 I have, they seem inauthentic. A CD is, for the time-being at least, truer - even though the iPhone is now the "correct" format for music.

The vinyl reissue is another object which has fundamentally changed. In the nineties I would often hit the second-hand record stores of Europe. France. Switzerland. Spain. Holland. Austria. Italy. Then around 2005 I visited a store in Montpelier that was literally full of slick reissues of classic funk albums. Somehow nothing could be less appealing. I think I would have rather found one reasonably good, slightly scratchy funk LP. Why was this?

There was a sense that the umbilical cord which connected the authentic cultural expression with its physical manifestation had been broken. We've had reissues for years but they never formed a perfectly arranged pristine phalanx of duplication. Reissues were almost always renegotiations of culture, they were almost always valid statements in their own right. The works of labels like Trojan and Kent or even (more recently) Soul Jazz and Strutt were never outright facsimiles of the past. They were interventions, re-imaginings and often as compilations they were (a dirty word which has its place) curations. That's to say the records were actions of creativity. That same impulse you'll find today on Mixcloud.

I'll have to admit that, paradoxically enough as both vinyl grows, as mp3 downloading inevitably wanes (seems like Apple keeps quiet about this...) and as streaming reaches a new peak of dominance that I'm happiest with the idea of buying CDs. More and more often the original vinyl edition I find on Discogs is damaged or lost. I twice tried to buy Tod Dockstader's Electronic Vol.1 on Boosey and Hawkes from european dealers. Both times the sellers had transcribed the wrong catalogue number, the first which I discovered on opening the post. A stereo edition of Stockhausen's Gesang Der J√ľnglinge to replace my sleeveless mono copy arrived, contrary to the description, badly scratched and had to be returned. And old records have become stupidly expensive. Beat Bop on Tartown for £1,045.45 ? I paid 50 pence out of the back of Ford Cortina.

I think too perhaps that after thirty years collecting I've bought the records I've really craved. Buying secondhand online is, while soul-less, real-enough but sooner or later one reaches the point where one's memory of desires is exhausted and new impulses can be more truthfully negotiated in other means. The new stuff and old stuff I'm coming to afresh is cheaper to grab on the seemingly unloved format of the CD.

Plus I'm running out of space to house the fucking things.

Peanuts #1

R.I.P.P.R.I.N.C.E.



16.4.16

Hallo again

All of this, the poetry, the ignominy, the hubris - it also swirls round my head when I think about my car-crash singer-songwriter LP "Hallo". As chance would have it I was rummaging about in an old box under the stairs and I found these fragmentary poems which remind me a great deal of the eMMplekz lyrics. Not bitter certainly, but more or less strings of gnomic observations strung together into diaphanous poetry.

I can't remember exactly when I wrote these down, compiled them from old notebooks, and for what purpose. It's likely they were my first stab at lyrics for "Hallo". I'm not sure why I didn't use them, well they don't scan or rhyme so they probably weren't that useful as lyrics. They weren't fit for purpose. On the sheets of paper I have all of them are tidily crossed out. That's eight whole poems! Get some of that down yer neck.

cromwell

they had a student union romance
took polaroids of dog turds
god is discovered again
and again
and again
he hammers screws for the council
a friend buys them a balloon machine
for their baby
she works for apple and orange
they have a rip in their couch
she finds a walkman in an old office desk
in the sweat of thy face
shalt thou eat bread

bike band

hailing through
a cloud of cyclists
your right trouser leg
is torn
they turn into
a carpark
pulling low curves
weaving
back onto the street
running over a dog
that was already dead
safe biker
browsing housing
playing polo
a shadow lines
up with the gutter

music

climbing the
high-pass filter staircase
red eyes at dawn
dobly dolby
wow and flutter
the smooth sound of ferrics
morg
american cousin has a feeble
reggae collection
elton won't take colin on tour
any more
adopts ryan
slamming those prodigious
mid-tempo rockers
history of the progressive blues

love song

i wanna ricochet off you
ride the escalator of flesh with you
lady
i'll be your shroud
hiding you from death
you can live in my musical shadow
i'll never feel that
compassion fatigue
we'll live like foxes
children literally freezing
hand-to-mouth
we'll retire to malibu
oooooh
and play palmanism
and long-distance golf
take the cruise liner
to the other side
and become one with the
infinite

(michael karrig)

even before he smoked pot
it was reaching out for him
the light which surrounds
him is the fossil-like
remains of an ancient
moral world lived by
angelic beings
he runs off to join an
uncontacted tribe
he hallucinates mice
quantum cryptographist
he is a puppy
so happy to be alive
speculates on the
mechanics of accidents.
he grew up wanting to be a spy
but kept it secret
he is a waste of time and space

jobs

she eats in the restaurant
from which she was fired
new power rangers director
infuriates old fans
nine foot worm
makes own food
american woman doesn't understand
plain english
he goes out with women speculatively
and improves their looks
she wears a fur coat with paint on it
"oh darling don't ask"
he tortures his employees
at the shrine in the office

jobs

failed chorister
hand model
chartered charlatan
outlaw
severn bore
robotic troubadour
pyramid seller
pinata martyr
tracklab bitch
eaten by giant goldfish
product evangelist
platform atheist
wedding photographer
city trader
cycle courier
welshman from india
secret smoker
celebrity without portfolio

british museum

smirke's erection had
bespoke ladders
branded buckets
custom mops
in time these
were lost
stolen
and broken

MModern Poetry


If you haven't heard the latest eMMplekz longplayer you must check it out. It's great. Ian Mordant's a pretty good poet, funny too. And the Ekoplekz backing tracks are typically brilliant - his usual slyly tuneful coruscating rotary gyrations. Nick just churns this stuff out - astonishing. He showed me this epiphany Mordant had written for The Wire which was hilarious too - an alarmingly cheeky way to get PR when you're not as easy, or becoming, to be written about in the press any more.

As with old Mordant track titles like "Comments (0)" some of the lyrics are not exactly close to the bone - but gnawing on said bone. Because, as much as anyone, Mordant must be aware that the joke's on him too. Like on "MemBrane" with its miserable mailing-list mantra: "unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe, subscribe, unsubscribe..." The choicest line has to be from "Britain's got Talon" "everyone thinks their LP has been criminally overlooked" - ouch, that really fucking hurts.

Their assemblage works best though when Ian's not trying to sound too tough and imperious - when he actually embraces what it is to be a loser. Because we all know how that feels; the winners more than anyone. Imagine how perpetually insecure Kanye West feels with his planetary-sized inferiority/superiority complex (same thing innit).

14.4.16

Squeezebox Encounter #1



Over the past six months, on many occasions, I've cycled home from working in Soho along Guilford Street in Bloomsbury. There has been a Syrian, possibly East European man who has been playing the accordion outside Coram's Fields at the foot of Lamb's Conduit Street. He's usually fluently performing an ethnic folk piece. I've often thought as I pedal past that he'd make a lot of money if he knew how to play the hornpipe.

It stands to reason doesn't it? Anyone aged 35 or over will instantly think of happy times, of the old children's TV, and Captain Pugwash. And they'll gladly dig deep in their pockets. It'd put a smile on the meanest of faces. I mean, he wouldn't have to play it constantly, that might be annoying; but only now and then at opportune moments. Time after time as I rush home I've thought this, each time promising to myself that next time I would stop and tell the chap. I would impart this useful insight into British customs.

This evening, after a pretty taxing day, I was heading his way along Great Russell Street and the thought came into my head that he might be there, playing his concertina. And if he was, this time I would stop and speak with him. It could be awkward, and it proved to be as such. Yes. He was there. I mounted the kerb on my bike. Instantly I started routing round my pockets for a pound coin or two but I didn't have even a penny. I noticed that the busker, a small slightly wrinkled man didn't look up. I realised that the guy was blind.

Undeterred, I thought if I was gentle and polite I could still try this. Did he know the hornpipe? He'd make a few bob if he knew the hornpipe! No. No he didn't. So I sung it: "Duddle de da, duddle de da, di da, di da, di da, di da, di duddle de da, duddle de da...." No. "Ah. English!", he said. And pretty skilfully, he made an attempt to play it back to me. But to be truthful it didn't really bear much resemblance to the hornpipe. Although he didn't seem at all bothered or insulted I felt really bad and a bit embarrassed. Also rather like a bully. I didn't even have any money to give him. I told him I'd bring some money with me next time and wished him the very best.

On the way home I was pondering how I could play him the hornpipe properly so he could hear it and, as I've only just figured out, YouTube would do the trick. I think I'll try again another day.

10.4.16

The Clockwork Mouse



I always loved that spangly toy rhythm-box music. It was hearing Peaking Light's under-rated "Lucifer" in my local record store that set me off. (I went to the counter and asked what it was - the temptation these days is to not risk asking a human and turn to Shazam - much less humiliating). I asked them if they had a copy, and bizarrely the guy said, "No but you can get it on Discogs." Dude, that's not the idea. I told him, "er, I'd rather buy it off you." I ended up buying it from Discogs.

There were a bunch of songs I would have included but I realise they've been on other mixes in the past and, well, I hate to repeat myself. So I didn't include the Steve Beresford floot number from Prince Far-I and the Arab's Vol 3. Also not the great Video Aventures. Neither Roj's brilliant "Morning Break". In fact the music box cut up from The Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" would have been good. (scratches head) I could have even put something from the last Woebot EP on it.

Personally I find the rigidity of clockwork rhythms bracing. I'm quite happy listening to wooden, entirely unflashy repetitive beats. The notion that electronic music needs to be funky or rhythmically "interesting" seems incredibly gauche to me. Of course this is an extended symphony in praise of the Labcast Mouse Groop. But equally I guess one for the Young Cluster Strike.

5.4.16

NEWCENTURY61

ACTRESS ANIMAL COLLECTIVE ARIEL PINK BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB BLACKEST EVER BLACK BOARDS OF CANADA BURIAL D'ANGELO DELIA+GAVIN DILLA DIRTY PROJECTORS DIZZEE RASCAL DMZ EKOPLEKZ FLYING LOTUS FOCUS GROUP GANG GANG DANCE GOD SPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR GONJASUFI GRIMES HAIM HOLDEN HOT CHIP HYPE WILLIAMS ISOLEE JAY-Z JOANNA NEWSOM JUANA MOLINA JUNIOR BOYS KANYE WEST LAUREL HALO LIGHTNING BOLT MATTHEW DEAR METRONOMY MICACHU+SHAPES MOON WIRING CLUB ONEOHXTRIX POINT NEVER PANDA BEAR PEAKING LIGHTS PETE UM RADIOHEAD RANGERS RICHARD X RUN THE JEWELZ SA-RA SCOTT WALKER SHACKLETON SUN ARAW SUNN O))) SWANS THE APHEX TWIN THE BOOKS THE KNIFE TORO Y MOI VAMPIRE WEEKEND VILLALOBOS VINCENT GALLO WILEY WOODEN WAND XYLITOL ZOMBY