we’ve all been there, right?
I’m thinking of starting my own regular music/performance event here in Brighton.
There’s a lot of smug, cosy, middle-of-the-road bullshit for grownup children – and very little that’s genuinely got any darkness or challenge to it. Something has to be done, and soon. Therefore, I propose:
Just for a change, and because everyone loves a pundit, I fancy writing about local bands encountered recently who didn’t make me want to puke.
Well, not so much “writing” like a reviewer, more listing them in no particular order, without spoon-feeding – so you can discover their brilliance for yourself. Also, lists are how we communicate nowadays:
Man Ray Sky – incredible layered guitar/electro soundscapes and vistas
Lutine – spooky anti-folk from the dark, dark ages (their debut gig in a church was stunning)
Thee Bald Knobbers – absolutely indescribable. This link is live footage. It’s terrifying.
Shonalika Tilak – a superb singer with some extremely dark, absorbing music
Stevie and the Nobodies – crunchy guitars, smart tunes, humour
Prissy Lips – utter fucking exotic trash glam
Plurals – drones and transcendence
Broken Ears – punchy, hard-edged acoustica (fairly new outfit, but already very strong)
& the marvellous Junkboy
An interesting mixture, and that’ll do for now – apologies to any I’ve missed out, although doubtless there’ll be more… There were three very good acts at my recent launch gig, for example – check them out too. In fact, check em all out.
Because the New Year finds me light-hearted and clearing out a ton of sentimental &/or forgotten crap, to dance laughing round a giant freedom pyre, I thought it’d be nice to share something with you. Going through the accumulated debris, I found this thing written years ago for a compilation album called The Return of Generation Toyracer (TOY004), featuring a track by my then-band Empty Vessels.
And what better way to celebrate the future than by wanking over the past?
The idea was to do a short piece for the inlay booklet, describing my best-loved record. So I made one up:
‘My favourite album is by 80’s combo Joie Extreme. The Sound of Whipped Dogs Miaowing has a literally unbearable atmosphere of foreboding and dread, with great hooks and singalong choruses. This voluptuous fog is testament to the genius of Des Essence and Vyv Feast. Whereas Essence was a protest singer distinctive for high-pitched shouting over primitive piano chords (ultra-rare early single “Dead Hill-Farmers Long Ago”), Feast wasn’t. So each song on their classic LP was recorded twice – once at half-speed, then with frequencies added that Feast claimed caused “spiritual violation”. Drummer Stifford was forced to hold his breath for each take; listen carefully and hear him sobbing on track three.
Recording took place in a haunted factory in front of a crowd of wax dummy children in Victorian clothes, and Feast deprived the band of sleep by flashing a blue light in their eyes (while showing, says bassist Miranda Poe, “a full stem”). The song “Eyeflaps Turgid” – possibly the only ever to feature an acoustic guitar filled with shit – reflects this. It was all downhill from there. The band scattered into obscurity to become music journalists, but their album lives on and I’ve got all the copies.’
…The work of a cocky, sleep-deprived and possibly quite drunk young man, but damn it was fun.
So… live session on Thursday (25th) went well – Under The Table on BHCR. Despite technical problems at the start of the show cutting into the timeslot (handled with aplomb by presenter Nigel Staley… truly, the man’s unflappable), it was a good programme and a buzz to perform on. The time issue meant I didn’t get to play a couple of pre-recorded tracks – from Glow in the Dark – but did manage to fit in:
Monkey – an old song recorded by my band Empty Vessels in 2006 (on the Parlour 9 Sessions album)
Phantom Party – from the Episodes EP
Undertow – from 1st album This Mucky Age
…Plus live versions of Wet Dream Disaster, Face of Stone & Larkin. I got these recorded, and will no doubt find a use for em soon. A freebie, perhaps. Did a spoken word piece and talked a load of shit about nudist beaches in Brighton, John Peel’s disembodied essence, that kind of thing, and selected tracks by Lou Reed (Waves of Fear) and The Fall (Ladybird) – neither of them get aired enough nowadays.
Yeah, tech issues aside it was pretty sweet to have almost a whole programme to play with. Other than that, I’ve been offered a local gig – details very soon – and am hatching schemes and plans enormousfold.
It’s been a while, but then this time of year’s rarely very dramatic.
Lately, the focus is on improvising, found sounds and field recordings – for instance, a spoken word piece I just did with a sound artist named Jamie Sturrock.
He’d produced a very eerie soundscape called water ghosts, based on noises obtained by dangling a mic into an underground cavern in Scotland. I wrote a response after sitting in the dark with it, then recorded this with him. The results, when finished, may be released at some point – but that’s out of my hands, and part of a larger ongoing project. More news on this if/when I have it.
Anyway, it’s very exciting so far; Jamie’s website (with water ghosts toward the bottom of the page) can be found here.
2012 was bipolar – but I’d do it all again
Well, that was a… colourful year. And who could ask for more? Rather that than the alternative, which is a dreary thought. Death!
So what happened? (I’m still asking myself that, so this summary is as much for my benefit as anything else.)
1) Released 2nd album. Got more, and better, reviews than #1 – which was kind of the idea.
2) Did a brief and eventful tour after release – pretty much broke even: another first. Played a fair few other gigs, mostly solo, some with…
3) A band, which orbited around the songs for roughly 8-9 months and then exploded. With hindsight, it was never going to last, but during that time we played…
4) Live on BBC Introducing: The South (and the single got a little air-time too). This was exciting.
…Besides these bare bullet-points, I’ve just kept on doing it, “it” being more songs. Met some potential collaborators in the last couple of months, had a few tantalising overtures; again, I’m not going into detail yet for fear of The Jinx; in this game, so many promising set-ups tend to evaporate without warning.
But it’s promising just the same. And it’s been a blast – on a gross venal level, the trickle of royalties makes filling in an income tax Self Assessment form such a thrill.
Joking aside, I’m still fuelling off the highs and regret none of the lows – hope you (whoever you are) likewise. Happy New Year.