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Thursday, November 27, 2003

apologies for the recent lack of activity. sometimes its so difficult to write something even remotely interesting despite the fact that the world is so interesting. i don't know why that should be.


great track heard on de ja tonight; by an mc called 8 Bar [like the scene conquering ambition implicit there...]. its all gun sounds mixed with cheap computer gamey, bitty, circus-y, electric dream fantasy sounds- a bit like ice rink mixed with cock back, but not really. it sounds tinny and smeary, stapled together crudely and i love that sound. his vocals are wicked too, fast and jumpy, jolting you into attention with syncopated energy. apparently it was the first time it was ever played on radio; hopefully we'll hear more by him.


special delivery on de ja last night; railing against people in evisu clothes; 'thats two weeks wages you cunts'. a new age is dawning?
'i have adopted this and made it my home
cut back the weakness, reinforced what is strong
watch me work
watch me work
watch me work

-david byrne.

vietnam draft dodger sends men to hell hole where they routinely get shot/bombed by guerillas and then turns up for a 'surprise visit' in army jacket to show he's, y'know, 'one of the boys'...risky strategy and yet bizarrely it seems to have paid off. strange world innit.

stars as eyes; enemy of fun = pretty much ultimate harmonic noise, distortion led glitch sound poems, bliss out. cruelly underrated.

living under a flight path is also underrated.

ok, off to nottingham tomorrow for techno techno techno so see you saturday

Monday, November 24, 2003

the other day on the telly, Dr Fox, the pop idol man, was referred to as a 'reggae legend'. that's crazy talk, surely!

i saw a man put prostitutes cards in a phone box the other day on tottenham court road. can't really explain why but this made me feel like london was starting to become my home, like may be its everyday secret workings were being revealed to me, and i was noticing them...

i was SO close to buying a bottle of mead the other day, at borough market [apparently mead has something to do with honey and sultanas] but i chickened out. it just didn't feel right. but i'm resolved to buy it next weekend.
one of my favourite critical metaphors concerns mead; a friend once told me that its the 'taste of libraries and history'. i LOVE that description and from what i can remember [i've only drunk mead once] its very accurate.
my absolute favourite critical metaphor, though, is when a friend called Shellac, 'the least watery band in the world'. thats so true; there is NO WATER in shellac's sound.

saw one of my favourite films last night; Tampopo, a japanese film about food, but also about trying your best to do something that you're proud of [i think that the latter is what talking heads' 'more songs about buildings and food' is about- its really a kind of concept album about pleasure in work, the joy in striving to do something which you think is worthwhile.] anyways, its a fantastic film, full of excitement at life, and empty of world weary cynicism

Saturday, November 22, 2003

ANGELS OF LIGHT 'EVERYTHING IS GOOD HERE/PLEASE COME HOME' makes me think of work songs for these post industrial times. a lot of tracks have a propulsive, relentless see saw rhythm and you can hear blood and effort and iron in the clang and clank of it all: acoustic instruments become the sound of machinery, of metal grinding and colliding against metal, of sparks and choking fumes. nothing sounds easy or fluid. much of the record seethes with dutiful, linear, monolithic energy. vocals range from deep throated story telling which sketch scenes and then twist them inside out, bringing terror and dread in to hope and innocence and back again, to inhuman yelps, slurs and cries. some of the record sounds light and sparse, but not really in a tender way, more in the way feverish, restless dreams can feel disconcertingly unrooted and groundless; you hope for some density, mass, solidity to hold you down from the vertigo but when that comes, when the angels of light start up the engine again, you realise you're in another storm, terrible and wonderful. i expected this record to sound autumnal, to sound of decay, loss and transcendence. but it doesn't sound like that at all; rather, its locomotive, definite, ceaseless movement...blare, rumble and roar, whistle, smoke and grime.

an excellent record.

not really a rugby fan, but that goal of jonny wilkinson's was BEAUTIFUL wasn't it.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

2 best slogans i saw at the protest today;
-"no Bush, please, we're british" [accompanied with picture of female genitalia]

-'Bush; you're a cock, you're a cock, you're a cock" [this one amused me and then feel a little bit ashamed at my childishness, which is often the best kind of amusement, i think]

is this a reference to silverdollarcircle in today's guardian?;

"A reverie on the latest ragga choons might be interrupted with an aside that begins: "For those of you interested in contemporary political philosophy... " '

if so, how exciting! [but i don't think i've ever mentioned ragga on here...]

big thanks to the excellent somedisco for yr recent kind words!

thought no.1; will we feel nostalgic for these early days of the blogosphere in years to come?
thought no.2; what on earth IS mead, anyway?
thought no.3; has there ever been a pirate radio show that hasn't included a shoutout to 'lady chantelle'?

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

yikes! just heard a horrible, horrible, kind of rock-rap-grime track by dogzilla and viper. everyone makes mistakes, i guess. but what a mistake. jesus...

slightly annoying that the first really publicised protest against Bush's state visit was the lady hanging the upside down stars and stripes outside Buckingham palace. firstly, because its a gift for all those of the 'anti-bush protests are just anti-american protests'. secondly, it obscures the main issue; the reason to protest against the Bush adminstration has nothing to do with their nationality, and everything to do with the fact that they are immoral. thirdly, and relatedly, i think people shouldn't try to think about flags and nations less, and that the Left should try to persuade people of this challenge to the status quo; just as what we are FOR shouldn't simply be a flag, or one particular nation, what we are AGAINST should also not be constrained by such thinking. fourthly, in so far as flags DO matter, and DO mean something important, the american flag 'stands for' some very positive values; republicanism {in the non-partisan sense, obviously], individual rights, separation of church and state etc. if we're going to use the american flag, we should use it to remind the Bush administration of how THEIR actions are effectively desecrating the american flag and what it should stand for, rather than desecrating it ourselves.


but enough negativity; i'm sure today and thursday's protests will, by and large, be fantastic, historically important affairs.

friday night drunkeness reminded me of The Streets- you know the line that goes, 'get drunk, on the tube, every time train comes feel like puking'...yeah. so this prompted me to listen again to the album after too long, which i still think is wonderful. but something i was thinking about; where will mike skinner go next? specifically, is his music going to take in recent developments in garage [grime + sublow]? i'm really, really interested to see if he does or not.

Plasticman has worn me down, finally. I loved his music when I first heard it; the relentless severity of it, its rigid, mechanical darkness. But like no-u-turn, techstep, el-p and techno animal the very reasons I liked it so much in the first place is what turned me against it. Its too joyless, sexless, inorganic and humourless a place to inhabit for very long. Stylistically, it feels like a dead end, an initially thrilling journey into the harsh and hostile which leaves the groove behind. In comparison, even when wiley, jammer, shots and skepta etc are at their most hardcore I feel they’re still trying to contort the dancefloor into new shapes, and hit emotional buttons, rather than just aiming at hardness. Its sad, but nowadays whenever I hear a pirate MC go ‘big up plasticman on this one’, my heart sinks a little bit.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

its all got very food/drink oriented round here recently hasn't it? treacle toffee, mead, chocolate beer etc...
tonight we're making pancakes, while listening to a tape of a grime mc who seems to be called 'pancake' who keeps screaming 'yr MAD!' in a demonic, and mad, voice. LOVE IT.

all this royal scandal stuff doesn't really interest me, unfortunately. i find it difficult to get excited about the private lives of rich, inbred people who have no real power or influence anymore. but what interests me slightly more is the press reaction {particularly the barmy right wing press} to all these allegations, with the Mail seemingly taking a strangely Charles-baiting line and the Express taking a hardline 'down with the traitors!' stance. whats truly worrying is that i suspect that the ever populist Express mirrors the feelings of a good proportion of the population. i just can't imagine what it must be like to think that someone is worthy of respect, a high status, privilege, public funds, and any form of power whatsoever on account of who their parents were. at least when people still widely believed in the divine right of the monarchy there was SOME attempt to justify this deeply strange view; the argument from divine right can be seen, may be, as implicit acknowledgement that their might seem something prima facie strange about high official status and power through one's family connections but that some higher authority had ordained that family were the most worthy rulers. but once you don't believe in the divine right of the monarchy then still upholding the legitimacy of the royal family's status, calling any member of the Royal family 'your Highness/majesty' say, just seems fundamentally crazy. its worrying when you realise that a significant part of the country think in ways you cannot even begin to understand. i feel the same about religion (although i wouldn't go so far as to say its fundamentally crazy), and also when i hear about the worryingly common occurrences of actors that play villains in soap operas being accosted by (otherwise seemingly sane) people in the street (which, in its sheer irrationality, is close to support for the monarchy).


rephlex night at Neighbourhood was wicked! aphex moved from acid to jungle to INSANELY fast gabba. it was so ludicrous. people gave up trying to dance on beat and just sort of swayed and rocked, getting pummelled and pounded- i felt strangely relaxed after it finished, like i'd just had a well serious massage. it was the first time i've heard gabba through a big soundsystem and hence the first time i've really seen the point in it. if only all those old people who say 'pop music today is just noise, its not proper music' could have seen the dancefloor! they'd be so scared at what The Youth was up to they'd leave the country!
soundmurderer and the bug was excellent as well, of course. the bass was so intense i felt a bit sick and like my head was falling apart. so, it was good...
also liked bogdan rackynski {spelling?} lots. always found him a bit tiresome on record, but his computer game-ish, bitty, grainy gabba makes a lot more sense on the dancefloor.


"i'm hot like the firemen, i must be like them cuz i'm still not getting paid"

i like dogzilla a lot, especially the way he lets all his vulnerability and fears show, like in the rap about him never seeing his dad which ends him muttering 'fuck it mate, i'm yr son...'

also loving flow dan at the moment, not really because of his flow, strangely, which is just a little but awkward sometimes, but mainly because he comes across as such a nice guy.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

its taken 21 years, but finally i've started taking tea drinking seriously i.e loose tea + teapot and tea strainer + following george orwell's definitive instructions. what took me so long? life rarely fails to be at least bearable (and is, more often than not, quite wonderful) with a good cup of tea, as i've belatedly discovered.

the virtual stoa reminded me of one of my favourite pieces of writing ever, which is posted below. so here's engel's as a lonely, poignant heroic figure, soon after marx's death in a letter to Sorge;

"Be that as it may, mankind is shorter by a head, and the greatest head of our time at that. The proletarian movement goes on, but gone is its central figure to which Frenchmen, Russians, Americans and Germans spontaneously turned at critical moments, to receive always that clear incontestable counsel which only genius and a perfect understanding of the situation could give. Local lights and lesser minds, if not the humbugs, will now have a free hand. The final victory is certain, but circuitious paths, temporary and local errors--things which even now are so unavoidable--will become more common than ever. Well, we must see it through. What else are we here for?

And we are not near losing courage yet."


got alva noto and sakamoto's record on raster noton the other day (its called vrioom, or something similarly predictably glitchy-electronica-esque). lovely stuff, more on it soon...
also got angels of light's 'everything is good here/please come home', which is excellent, although god knows what happened to me in the record shop cuz i was thinking i wanted to buy some nice winter-warming alt. country/folk stuff. you know, nice music to sit around and eat/drink (never sure which is correct) soup to, or whatever. and angels of light seemed to fit the bill perfectly. which is crazy. why on earth did i think michael gira would provide the musical duvet and slippers i was looking for? but moment of insanity aside, its a very, very good record, and as hellish and haunting as you like.

Wiley's Ground Zero: darker than dark! like a lot of wiley's stuff, i find this very soothing and gentle, in an odd way. perhaps because like a lot of dub, this is both a very rich, bass heavy, liquid sounding track, but also brittle and skeletal, with those hi hats fluttering away and the tear drops of broken synth lines. logically, it should sound cold and metallic, but instead there's a deep, kind of strangulated, human warmth about it. as sad and comforting as autumn itself.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

we've just got the internet connected in our room so its gonna be more active here from now on, i hope. but not tonight as scanlon's 'what we owe to each other' calls. i love this book.

i'm making treacle toffee tonight in preparation for the big night tomorrow. so excited; fireworks are one of the most beautiful things in the world i think. the recipe for the treacle toffee came from my grandma's old recipe book, which has a nicely un-reconstructed approach to cookery; there's recipes for 'boiled sheeps head' (my grandma's instructions read; "take brain and eyes from sheep's head. Boil for 40 minutes." admirably simple) and also something called 'boiled cake', which i'm sure is lovely.

i haven't bought any new records for ages...must rectify this situation soon

Monday, November 03, 2003

sad to hear from the virtual stoa that drinking is no longer allowed on the streets of oxford. i found most pubs in oxford to be quite disappointing- insufficiently old-manish enough for me, and also too sanitised and overly willing to wheel out all the quaint cliches for tourists. they had this feel of being pretend pubs, rather than real ones. [honourable exceptions being port mahon in the east- i think the only pub i've ever been to that sells mead- and radcliffe arms in the north] and so drinking on the streets was often the nicest place available. watching the sunset while drinking on the steps of the clarendon building on a summer's evening...lovely


i am SO into Young's double chocolate beer right now . it warms you like no other, and not at all as repulsive as it sounds.

blissblog on the 'archness' of jack white's voice; but for me, thats what i think is so great about the white stripes. the music is often so tightly wedded to the notions of authenticity and traditionalism that without jack's camp, over the top, and borderline hysterical vocals the whole thing would collapse into some kind of eric clapton-esque vision of what 'proper' music is like. but jack's voice allows the songs to transcend this, because its knowing put-on-ness, his willingness to be dramatic and theatrical even if this means hamming it up makes the music...well, fun. that said, there is a point in 'elephant' where jack does this kind of catty 'ah ah ah ah aiooo', in way thats seems to aim at some play upon rockn roll sexuality/seductiveness, but its just a bit gross really. i mean, the white stripes are strangely sexless most of the time, and this moment is quite uncomfortable because of that. there are some people who you never want to think about in connection with sex. margaret thatcher is one. and jack white is, perhaps strangely, another.

still not sure what i think about lady fury; 'gash' was brilliant; full on battle of the sexes grime, like 'i luv u' but with girls put on a more equal standing with the boys, due to lady fury's riot-grrl/grrime anger and attitude. but 'merk dem' sounds a bit stiff and rigid, not in the edgy, clipped way that, say, wiley's vocals are, but just leaden and stilted; the tune seems to drag in a way a grime track about drinking people's blood really shouldn't.


'The Abyss Live' yesterday; one of the greatest things EVER on TV! when the camera finally reached the bottom of the ocean, 2000m down, its was wonderful, beautiful and very,very trippy.

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