Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest release from the Australian Adeptsound label : Schuster "1-5 Microns". A CDrEP.
I have mentioned the work of Schuster before on this blog earlier in the year - ex member of Dieter Muh, IBF, Zilverhill etc - and now producing stuff under his own moniker.
I like this EP. It is definitely set in "old school". It sounds like Cabaret Voltaire in the mid 1980's IF they hadn't signed to Some Bizarre/Virgin/Phonogram but had gone with On-U Sound. It sounds like Cosmonauts Hail Satan on that "White Trash Motherfuckers" compilation CD - and as we all know the CHS tracks were the only decent contributors to that dire project.
5 tracks weave in and out of beats, thuds, pulses and drones (not rhythm, there's no rhythm here) with interchangeable voice samples that could be from "Wiseblood", "Night Of The Living Dead" or "Blood Feast" but more than likely aren't. It is a beauty of a listen and needs to reach more ears than it ever will. It's a 10"EP crying for a release.
Go to the Adeptsound website (just google Adeptsound) and discover......You'll be thanking me by Christmas.
Thursday, 29 July 2010
Charity shop shopping in Bovey Tracey (gateway to the Moors) earlier this week and I found a copy of The Psychedelic Furs VHS compilation "All Of This And Nothing" on CMV Enterprises label for twenty pence. What can you buy for twenty pence these days? A Psychedelic Furs video obviously...
A couple of years ago I got a copy of the excellent Dave Thompson book "Beautiful Chaos" which documents the birth, rise, fall and re-birth of The Psychedelic Furs. It is a great read of how a band can, through miss-management (bad advice) and drug abuse lose the plot completely.
From hearing their first single "We Love You" back in 1979 I loved and devoted myself to The Furs up until 1982 and the atrocious throwaway single "Danger" where they were treading dangerously in to New Romantic waters. The sound of the Psychedelic Furs was was one of a wall of noise held together by a thumping beat and surreal lyrics - lyrics that back in their day I could identify with and appreciate. "Susan Strange", "Wedding Song", "I Just Want To Sleep With You" etc.
I saw them live on a few occasions too.
What is interesting about the book is the way that they went over to America and just lost the plot. Members left, the songs dried up as drugs took over then when they came back to Europe music had changed. By the mid 1980's (85/86) there were three bands trying to attain world domination. Stadium Rock God status. U2, The Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds...and U2 won out. It is interesting, in the book, when they had reached the burn out stage and the "band" was all but a name and apart from Richard Butler singing the whole recordings were either session musicians or the producers computer. Billy Idol's producer no less.
In a way the Video documents this as well. It begins with the excellent "Sister Europe" - kind of miming live on some London stage, then there's "Pretty In Pink", which is a great "pop" song. It works in the concept/context of the LP from which it is from "Talk Talk Talk", but now it is known as a "Hollywood" theme it loses its' impact. Next is "Dumb Waiters". Powerful, excellent and another miming on the live stage promo. The next couple of videos are from 1982 and it becomes obvious of the power of MTV and/or the "music video promo market". "Love My Way" is wallpaper and "Sleep Comes Down" ( a new Furs song on me) could be Chris De Burgh or Styx.
In the first 5 videos there is always a member (or members) of the band wearing shades. Shades, indoors. As Steve Underwood once told me (after I had breakfast at a table opposite Chris + Cosey) "there are only two kinds of people who wear sunglasses indoors, blind people and twats". The saying has always stuck with me. 1984's "Heaven" follows - not a bad song. Catchy in fact but the video has the three remaining members miming on a stage whilst being rained on. No shades. 1987's "Heartbreak Beats" is a testament to how cocaine and Vidal Sasoon's Studio Line can really fuck you up, and about 30 minutes in to the video it ends on the apologetic 1988 track (shot in black & white) "All That Money Wants".
If only they'd packed it all in and gone off in to diverse projects in 1981 eh? Still, I was entertained for 35 minutes and at 20p one of the cheapest 35 minutes this year.
My Psychedelic Furs story: Back in 1981 I saw them live in Lincoln, supported by Sinking Ships. My friend Mark Collins got chatting with John Ashton (guitar) after the show and said "see you in Doncaster tomorrow", he put Mark +1 on the Donny guest list. We went along with Tim Bayes (designated driver) and Bernie Hoggart. After the gig (no support) we chatted with the band at the bar and two girls came up with "Talk Talk Talk" LP sleeves to be autographed. I was stood next to "Big" Dunc. the sax player who scribbled away and passed the pen and sleeve to me, so I signed it. Somewhere on this planet, could be in a collection, could be in a secondhand store, could be in a landfill site in China, but somewhere there is a Psychedelic Furs LP sleeve signed by the band....and me!
1: "All Of This And Nothing" Video Sleeve.
2: "Beautiful Chaos" book cover.
Just spent a pleasant while listening to a new release from the Music Mundane label: The Universal Indians and Neil Campbell "Live". The Universal Indians are a new one on me but now I know that they are the trio of John Olson (Wolf Eyes), Aaron Dilloway and Gretchen Gonzales (aka Mrs. Olson). They formed in the early 1990's, but this CDr documents their live appearances in 1998 with Neil Campbell.
The album itself is a re-release of a CDr that American Tapes put out in 2000. (Limited to 22 Copies). I was told that the sound was "typical American Tapes stuff" but seeing that I have never heard any American Tapes releases I was intrigued.
2 tracks recorded live in a variety of venues across the East of America, the sound is of improvised noise, jazz scrag and hooks. There's tape manipulations, sax blurts and cymbal crescendo littered about guitar walls and tonal wails. At parts I was reminded of Smegma and that "Clitordis" tape that G.R.O.S.S. put out a few years back. (or the LAFMS stuff that seems to becoming popular again). Much more of an uneasy listen than the Iibiis Rooge LP and CDr that came with this package - but limited to 30 copies it is a Campbell gem. Find and enjoy.
This is written as a warning to those with young kids.
Oscar Michael (aged 4) loves Scooby Doo. He has done for a year or so now. He is forever singing the theme tune. He has the Mystery Machine Van, the figures, the mug, the cartoon vids...the lot. He loves Scooby Doo. He even invented a quiz "What would Scooby Doo do if .... "? that he plays on long walks with Tamsin and I. He loves Scooby Doo. A few weeks ago he came back from Nursery clutching a flyer stating that Scooby Doo would be making a personal appearance at local Adventure Park - Crealy Adventure Park - at the end of July. Excitement abound.
The day came yesterday. We left our camp at Lustleigh and headed for Clyst St Mary to see Scooby Doo. On the way (a short trip up the A382/A38/M5 + we still managed to get lost) we all were wondering what would Scooby Doo do? It ws obviously going to be a man in a suit, but would there be Shaggy, Freddie and the girls? A mystery machine? Maybe a video backdrop with some interaction - a short play? All these possibilities were mentioned.
The PA announced that Scooby Doo would be onstage for ten minutes(!) in 3 minutes time and repeatedly played the Scooby Doo theme tune - which apart from a great second or two of pure moog before the drums come in does get on the nerves a little. We gathered around a shabbily constructed small plywood stage, 2 girls from the "Crealy Adventure Park Entertainments Team" came on stage to whip up the assembled throng in to a frenzy - it was pure 6th form college performing arts style and slightly embarrassing but never mind as the kids were a whooping and a hollering for Scooby. Then from around the corner this thing appeared staggering like a geriatric in a second rate Scooby Doo suit. Standing about 6 foot it was obvious that the person in the suit (who had lady bumps...on closer inspection) could not see a thing. Scooby then passed amongst the front row of kids attempting to "hi-5" but more often than not just clomping a kid on the side of the face and then quickly patting its (the kids) head. Scooby was helped up on the stage like an blind pensioner with Altzeihmer's where, with the two girls danced to Steps version of "Tragedy". (Quite fitting). Tamsin and I stared at each other mouth a gape in stunned disbelief. Scoob was then helped down off the stage and repeated the "hi-5ing" to little applause and Avril Lavigne (on tape) singing the Crealy Adventure Park Theme Song. The whole thing lasted 10 minutes.
We asked Oscar what he thought, and he said that it wasn't Scooby Doo, we pointed out that Scooby was a cartoon character and that he couldn't really appear in person and he just said that it was rubbish. If you can't fool a four year old then I think you're in trouble.
It cost the three of us £15 each!
We spent a few hours in the park, not very good unless you like queueing for second rate rides and want to see your kids get bullied by sink estate kids from other parts of the British Isles. (Not a patch on the amusement park in Toronto...but then again, I'm a snob)!!
I did think of writing to the creator of Scooby Doo or Hanna Barbera to let them know what utter trash is being peddled and presented in the name of their work, but then again I don't think they really care.
Next Wednesday it's Spongebob Squarepants...we won't be going.
1: Scooby Doo (What the fuck are you)?
2: A shocked and stunned Oscar + Tamsin.
Acting in the capacity of tourist information...Devon branch (unpaid).
If ever passing through Dartmoor on the way out of Devon or in to Cornwall I recommend stopping off in the village of Lustleigh. To be found nestling in the Wrey Valley between Moretonhampstead and Bovey Tracey off the A382 it is a great place to stop and admire old Dartmoor architecture. There are many old thatched cottages snook away down little lanes, an old Celtic Cross on the village green, the May Queen Throne made of granite stone in The Orchard, there's a Bishops Stone and an old Anglican Church (St John's). A beautiful Dartmoor village. (Like Widecombe-In-The-Moor, Manaton or Postbridge).
The village dates back to 600AD and was originally called "Sutreworde" - means "South Of The Wood" in Anglo-Saxon. I've done my history. Every year you will find me at some time camping in a field just outside the village. I have done since 2002, with the wife doing it since 1972. (She would have been 4 months old at the time). It's tradition. Parker Family Tradition. Once Dave Uden came to stay for a couple of nights and he recorded the sound of the campfire crackling and the ripple of the River Bovey that passes through the village. These sounds were used when Dieter Muh played in Augsburg, hence the piece being called "Sutreworde". Side B of "The Call" LP. (Worth pointing out as a note here that camping is not allowed in Lustleigh and the villagers are likely to set upon you with pitchfork and flaming torches....we know a farmer who kindly lends us a field)!
There is a great pub in the village called "The Cleave" - does standard vegetarian fayre and lager is £3.40 a pint. It is open 11-11 every day, there's also Primrose Tea Rooms for Cream Teas and Scones and an open all hours shop that is hardly ever open. (Also 24 hour toilets...very handy when camping in a looless field).
Like most Dartmoor villages Lustleigh has its' famous residents. Either now or at some time in the past ten years it has been home to Lol Tolhurst (of The Cure) and half of Jive Bunny. It is pure rumour that "C" Grade TV Personality and proto-fascist dictator Noel Edmunds had a mansion above Lustleigh. Sorry about that.
1: Entrance to Lustleigh from Higher Knowle.
2: Setting up camp.
3: The Cleave pub.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Discussions have gone on recently (on a certain web forum) about when was the first time: "you heard something weird". Or at least something along those lines. I dropped in Sparks circa "Propaganda" LP + the "This Town" 7", then I was reminded about the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and as a 10 or 11 year old watching this on TV....(I had an older sister + very liberal parents)! I bought the SAHB LP "Next" (on Vertigo) soon afterwards from Asda in North Hykeham. The song still makes me cry to this day.....
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Another release from the ubiquitous Neil Campbell. This time a collaborative project with a person (or persons unknown) called High Wolf. I had no idea this project existed, I was just innocently browsing Astral Social Club releases on Discogs and this title came up!
I have no idea what Iibiis Rooge means. Something mystical? Shamanic? Magickal? The name appeals though, and anything that has Neil on board has to be listened to - apart from the A Band whom I have a little problem with - but that, as Hammy Hamster used to say "is another story".
The LP kicks off with the Soviet France-esque titled "Skirling Birl". Sounds like some spastick eurodiscko motorik a la Kraftwerk, driving musick and an excellent opening. The rest of the LP drops rhythm for pulse and driftwood and (as I sat on my sofa listening) took my mind wandering in to all different kinds of areas and memories. An excellent journey. The sound is essentially Astral Social Club (no mistake), and it is top notch Astral Social Club. Limited to god knows how many, this is essential.
The LP is a follow up to a CDr relaese by Iibiis Rooge released last year called "Pink Hybrid". I have the CDr too - yet to listen though as the LP is stuck on the hi-fi for a few days yet.....
I got my copy from Neil (Showbiz connections etc), but I am certain Second Layer (UK) or RRR (USA) will have copies.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
This is the second time I have bought from the publishers, Lulu, and I have nought but praise for their service. I can sit here of a Monday night and order a book that by Wednesday teatime I can be sat reading. Excellent.
Nigel Ayers (of Nocturnal Emissions) has collated his magazine from the 1990's into one wonderful compendium. "Network News" passed me by in the 1990's but then again...most things did. In the early 1980's I was familiar with the "Tracts" that Nocturnal Emissions used to periodically put out; they were like the old SPK "Dokuments" and the Recloose Org catalogues, but like I say - "Network News" is a new one on me.
Once from squatland in Brixton, by the 1990's Nigel and the Emissions had moved to the North-East of England, in the early 1990's Newcastle and surround was quite a hot bed of activity with the likes of The New Blockaders, Soviet France, Interchange Magazine and NE. There used to be regular live events and the "famous" Earshot festival. The first editions of "Network News" are like a music fanzine, with record reviews and interviews with the likes of Soviet France, Muslimgauze, John Watermann and of course Nigel Ayers. It is interesting stuff. Of its' time certainly, but interesting stuff. I still like flicking through old copies of "Flowmotion" and "Industrial News" now and again whilst spinning the oldies and if you're like me then this book is for you!
A few issues down the line and Nigel has upped and left the North East for the deep South: Cornwall. There is less emphasis on music and more emphasis on Nigel as an artist. The record (and by now CD) reviews get thinner and mentions of other peoples work goes from review to lists. There is some story/narrative running through the first "Cornwall" issues, but I couldn't quite follow it! What there is though are writings on psychogeography, astrology and (my favourite) the cult of Princess Diana. Fascinating stuff. Interspersed with newspaper cuttings That put me in mind of The Framley Examiner!
The last few issues read like a stream of conscious narrative. A story of one persons' life in the sub-culture.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
When I first moved down here to Devon in 2001 I reported back to my friends in the North that this place was a vinyl graveyard. I first moved to Exeter (for six months), and visited places like Truro, Bristol, Barnstaple, Brixham and Torquay and they were littered with great secondhand record shops. In Exeter there used to be Hens Teeth (near the Cavern Club), Central Records by Central Station, that musty old shop near the Pyramid Swimming Pool that was stuck in a 70's time warp and smelt of incense, There was a shop in the Fore Street Arcade that didn't have a name but a really friendly guy behind the counter who appeared on "Bullshit Detector Volume 1", there was a shop in the arcade opposite (the one that reminded me of the Mini-Market in Lincoln) and at the bottom of Fore Street there was some Amnesty / CND book and vinyl shop, all good stuff that made Exeter shopping fun. Now, alas over a period of ten years all these shops have closed. All of them.
There is however Rooster Records on the Fore Street (opposite Mad Megs Medieval Pub). There are two Rooster Records, one in Taunton and one in Exeter. The one here is well stocked with vinyl, huge Punk / New Wave section in both 7"'s and 12" LP's. They do stock new releases too, re-issue type albums by the likes of Chrome, Pere Ubu, Swell Maps, but they have enough secondhand stuff for a 30-40 minute browse, and a treat to find. Prices are reasonable, anywhere around £10 - £15 for a decent nick LP and £5 - £7 for a likewise single. (A couple of years ago I gave them 3 copies of the Dieter Muh 7"EP on Harbinger Sound, this was my follow up visit and I am happy to say that they have sold)! There is also an extensive CD collection. Maybe it is me, but flicking through the CD racks just isn't as interesting as flicking through vinyl. Although this visit "The Porlock Factor" CD by Glaxo Babies jumped out at me so I had to buy it. (£8).
If you have an hour and twenty quid to spare I recommend a visit.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Sunday, 11 July 2010
Strange as it may seem, I have never been to a festival before. Not a "music" festival anyway. They have never appealed. I remember Glastonbury when it was a hippy festival. An advert in 1978 NME (could have been 1979) a pyramid and a big CND symbol, Glastonbury Festival - very Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd I (would have) thought. My big sister went to Reading in 1978. It was "Reading Rock Festival" back then. No corporate sponsorship. There were The Jam, Gloria Mundi, Ultravox!, John Peel, The Stranglers, Sham 69 jamming with Steve Hillage, Wayne County & The Electric Chairs...but my sister saw nought of it. She said she was too far away from the stage areas to enjoy the bands. What was the bloody point of a festival?
Friends went to festivals in the 1980's. But I stayed at home. Friends went to Stonehenge to watch Nik Turner's Inner City Unit and then get beaten up by the police. Fair exchange in my books....but.....What was the bloody point of a festival?
I have done a few day fests', all indoors mind. Futurama's and the great "Daze Of Futures Past" at Leeds Queens Hall, and of course the "Feast Of Flowering Light" in Hammersmith Palais, and the WGT in Leipzig. I am more an indoors kind of guy. Pubs and clubs (and by all means obscure venues) but please let there be a roof - and a bar.
Wattsfest 2010 took place on a farm in Uffculme, a very small village in North Devon. Bob Watt's farm. I had no idea what to expect. A festival on a farm. Of course it wasn't going to be the size of Glastonbury, and the only thing I could equate it all to (in expectation) was the "free" festival in "Carry On Camping" where The Flowerbuds play on the back of a lorry in a field (in Sussex). What else was I supposed to think?
I would not have come within thirty miles from the fest' if it weren't for Plurals. Plurals were on the bill - opening up Saturday's revelry in the "Dome Tent". The rest of the acts on the 3 day bill were complete unknowns to me - DJ's, rock bands and acoustic troubadours, but Plurals playing in my county....it had to be done. I can quite easily sit here and type a stream of dislikes about Wattsfest 2010, it simply was not my "scene", but I certainly had a great day out! How bizarre is that? I watched an atrocious singer called Fiona Bevan ( a bedroom Lilly Allen impersonator) open the day on the "great outdoors" stage. "This is a love song" she said "All my songs are love songs, but then all songs are love songs...aren't they"? Never heard "This is not a love song" by Public Image Limited then...or "Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel" by Whitehouse. Ah well - I was the only one there in an Genocide Organ T-Shirt. The lady got two encores when I could have thrown a can. There was a really bad group from Bristol called An Axe in the "Moist Quiche" tent. Kids who only learnt to play their instruments this year, probably because they were Christmas presents..... But, in spite of all this - I was having a great time. The kids were loving it! Being in a field full of frisbee throwing, ball juggling freaks. There was a great book tent where I picked up a copy of "Mein Kampf" and the creationist kid's book "Dinosaurs By Design" (an instant classic at Hartop Towers), and of course there was a beer tent. (On the website blurb, on the FAQ's page there was the question: "Can I bring my beer"? Why that question needed to be asked, I don't know, but the answer was "Yes, but why would you want to when we are selling local beers and ciders at a very reasonable price". Nice answer. They were selling cans of lager at £2.50 a pop. I knew I should have brought my own)!
Plurals playing live this far West is a rarity, I have been whetting my ears in anticipation over hearing them live (live=loud) for a few months now, especaillay after the aborted set at The Ivy House in Nunhead earlier this year. (See elsewhere on this blog for details), Whilst the main throng were at the "Great Outdoors" tent and sipping the local brew(s) in the "Moist Quiche" tent, a select few sat and watched Plurals play in the "Dome" tent. The effect was instant, a textured wall of "noise" knocked me to my bottom! There were three keyboards, a violin and a microphone - that much I could see - how the noise was made from these instruments is another question. Loops built to a crescendo, lifted then deposited elsewhere in the tent to be surpassed by more textural ambiance whilst all the time there was this suppressed voice drifting around the parameters. Lost in limbo. Beautiful. It was loud, at times very loud, but never loud enough. (The sound engineer was a guy dressed in T-Shirt and little red football shorts. He had that look about him that he could have lent over and whispered in my ear "I used to play in goal for Yeovil Town back in the seventies y'know"...but he didn't...he also ignored my signals to pump up the volume). It was all over too soon. A dozen or so people were mesmerized, and the saddest thing of all - they didn't record it!
I was put in mind of Soviet France circa their "Eostre" or "Popular Soviet Songs" phase. The latest Plurals CDr "Six Eyes"also invokes this sound.
We left shortly after the Plurals set. A cloud of Marijuana was building over the field and I can't afford a relapse (not at this age), they were going to do an evening "noise" set in the "Apocalypse tent" - hopefully it was recorded and to be released later this year!
4: Plurals pose.
5: Isabel F., Oscar and Tamsin at "The Great Outdoors".
Monday, 5 July 2010
It is easy to tell that the summer is upon us as everywhere is having "festivals". I have already been to the Babbacombe + Saint Marychurch Festival in Torquay - I saw The Black Bess Morris Dancers and The Krankies! I didn't bother with the B.M.A.D. Festival in Paignton - not being a fan of Motorbikes and/or Rock Music and I truly missed the Dartington Festival due to what I wanted to see being on in the evening and I could not get a babysitter. Sorry Max!
The end of June, beginning of July is Exeter Festival and this year it opened with a performance / exhibition by Dutch artist Theo Jansen. The venue was Exmouth beach on the hottest day of the year! Theo is a sculptor, he builds "Strandbeests" (Dutch for "Sand Beasts"....I think) out of plastic tubing......Here is an extract from Theo's promotional blurb:
"Since 1990 I have been occupied creating new forms of life. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic material of this new nature. I make skeletons that are able to walk in the wind, so they don't have to eat. Over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storms and water and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives".
Truly fantastic stuff. At Exmouth Theo was exhibiting his creation; "Ventosa Siamesis". This Strandbeest took a year to build. To see the creation walk of its' own accord was an amazing sight - and sound. I went with the family, including my Father-In-Law Dr. Bill Parker, an ex Physics lecturer from Exeter University, and the mechanics of this beast had him flummoxed!
The creature walked about ten feet unassisted. Conditions were not too kind - hardly any wind but it was truly a fascinating sight.
Dr. Parker will be trying to build a Strandbeest on Dartmoor later this month......
Next stop. Wattsfest, Uffculme this weekend.
1: Theo and Ventosa Siamesis.
2: Dr. Bill Parker trying to figure it out.
3: Theo giving a Q&A session.
4: Me and the Strandbeest.
5: Camera footage.