Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Whitehouse will continue after Nantes. It comes after much soulsearching, people close to me making compelling arguments for such, threats of violence and other mitigating factors that I don't wish to delve into right now. Anyway, I haven't at all decided yet in what form this will be; this weekend's will, however, be the last show together with Philip, so on a personal level still marks the end of an amazing era. By the way, it's not true about the threats of violence.

Monday, May 26, 2008


#1: get it

It's perhaps used a bit lazily at times, but when I recently stated that 'Tietchens (but in fact could be referring to anything) doesn't get it' in a recent comment I meant that in a quite nuanced sense. It isn't that he misinterprets it or misunderstands it even though the phrase is commonly used in that way. It is revealing of a deeper unspoken undercurrent of disharmony. These deep disharmonies exist between people and either manifest themselves in often rather small seemingly petty ways which act to hide the deeper issue, or in other cases our prevailing desire to get along with one another makes them elusive to the point of invisibility.

The it is a very small, seemingly insignificant, yet highly potent word that all of us use with casual abandon (as with many others I've previously discussed in the SIGNIFICANCES series). Of course often a very simple pronoun along the lines of 'what colour is your car? it's red'; and in contrast, a word that can encompass vast ineffable belief systems, for example, 'I really want to get away from it all'.

We'll tend to accept this latter statement without asking for clarification to what 'it' or 'it all' represents through a real-time application of our own unique contextual it domain. Arrogant perhaps, but the nevertheless fundamental nature of most discourse. In this same way, and going back to the original example, you can see that there's no direct way of explaining get it, so what follows is my indirect way that will really leave your head spinning and is the nearest thing I'll get to ever explaining my music. Don't continue reading to avoid that, even though it'd be a good sign.

Artistically speaking, if you hear it then you get it, if you don't understand it then you get it, if you understand it then you get it, if you misinterpret it then you get it, but if you want not to understand or interpret or hear then you don't get it. But you can't have the arrogance to experience it as if there wasn't something not to know, the knowing of which would make a difference, absolutely.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Yet another selection of film mini-reviews culled from Facebook; very little to recommend this time around apart from the highly enjoyable Teeth.

Grace Is Gone (*)
mawkish and overwrought, Cusack neither has the requisite subtlety to pull this off; ultimately this study of the loss of a loved one in Iraq, whilst well-intentioned, just doesn't ring true

Teeth (****)
independent comedy classic that is both dark and camp in equal measure - its originality more than compensates for its occasional flaws; recommended (but maybe not for a date)
Diary Of The Dead (*)
I stick to my adage that a bad zombie film is better than a good vampire film yet, even so, this latest failure by Romero is frankly rubbish and manages to make the Resident Evil franchise seem like a masterpiece: DOTD is utterly lacking in tension and suspense, has appalling acting, and a D-movie script; truth is, he urgently needed to see [Rec] or even Cloverfield before attempting the handheld video approach; and the super cheesy horror soundtrack (and its rationale) is simply embarrassing

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (*)
atrocious comedy made by idiots with idiots for idiots

The Grand (**)
the poker world's Spinal Tap completely runs out of ideas half way through but still fun for fans of the game (and note the bizarre role for Werner Herzog as 'The German')
Honeydripper (**)
prize hams Stacy Keach and Danny Glover, a wooden dialogue that wouldn't be out of place in the Dukes Of Hazzard, and a slow and predictable plot, are all compensated by some terrific supporting performances and pleasing photography

How She Move (**)
I've always had a soft spot for dance movies ever since the classic Breakdance (and sequel!) - this one isn't such a bad movie but ultimately bogged down with too much serious plot and unlikeable characters

Terror's Advocate (****)
fascinating documentary that covers so much history that it's really best appreciated with some preparatory groundwork in the events' protagonists and historical contexts

Ms. 45 (***)
Zoe Lund (aka Tamerlis), who curiously enough also wrote the screenplay for Bad Lieutenant, is bewitching as the mute seamstress vigilante in this decidedly odd rape revenge flick

I Really Hate My Job (*)
and I really hated this atrocious film and I'm sure you will too

The Bank Job (**)
neither brilliant nor awful in any department (I guess that would be extremely average then)

Savage Grace (*)
a film whose selling points are its lush photography, its homoeroticism, and incest storyline, can't afford to be prudish when it comes to showing us the action - Tinto Brass would have made this rather more watchable

Assassination Tango (**)
without the ridiculous 'hitman' backdrop, and while still being an exercise in Duvall's self-indulgence, this would actually be an enjoyable exploration of the magic of Argentinian tango

Thursday, May 22, 2008


So I've read it loosely translated (many thanks to the_mullah, and babelfish) and I can see he's trying to be clever-clever, and one can't really blame him for that; and I can also see that he's full of all the tried-and-tested bullshit barroom reductionism reflexes. He doesn't get it on any level whatsoever. As I said, there's no bad feeling towards Tietchens, and I take full personal responsibility for how people respond to anything I do or say.

It just makes you want to give up, not just with music, but with humanity. What's the fucking point? The answer is there is none.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Mischievous, I know. After hearing about Asmus Tietchens' inclusion of Racket in a new German-language book Kopfhörer (a compilation of music reviews without the various contributors having listened to the music in question), I felt it worth extending the experiment by reviewing the book without having read it. Someone at the forum cuttingly pointed out that it was hardly a novel idea since The Wire have been doing that for years. Quite.

Actually, to me, the relationship between music and words (reviews in particular) is a rather interesting one.

In those barren days of the 70s when music was in far shorter supply and not ubiquitous as nowadays, for a teenager it was most challenging to gain access to much beyond trashy pop, rock and classical. And it was in this climate that I now vividly recall reading record reviews (from the NME and the like) and enjoying the 'sounds' through visualisation. Phrases such as 'a vortex of spiralling shards of sound'; 'blisteringly frenzied fretwork'; 'lyrical anarchy'; 'thundering percussion from the depths of hell itself' would be most arousing. Sadly, like a young girl dreaming of her Prince Charming arriving to gather her on a white horse, this was a case where one's imagination would lift you to magical sonic mind orgasms that, of course, no worldly music would ever be able to satisfy - and thus routinely end in a disappointing anticlimax upon hearing the real thing. And, as you may correctly remark, surely went some way to explaining an impatience with what was perceived as a general lack of ambition and conservativeness within the artform.

Since Kopfhörer is in book format, and employs this unique strategy deliberately (not as a hack's exercise in laziness), I give it the benefit of any doubt about its intent. There are around 20 contributors, many of whom are musicians themselves, and it's highly likely that a fair few will enjoy this opportunity to shamelessly plug their own work. However, in all probability, much of it will be a fascinating insight into the writers' souls regardless of their respective opinions.

And this kind of personalisation is to be encouraged. Many press reviews are often too perfunctory for my own liking and don't engage enough on an emotional level. This format promises far more as the reviewer has to call upon her own familiarity with the artist (both acquired and researched), and somehow synthesise that with who they themselves are, and what they represent - or indeed wish to represent.

Did Asmus choose Racket himself? If he didn't, then he got the short straw. Whitehouse provokes such wildly disparate responses and carries so much potential baggage that he will be walking through a minefield. In that sense, it's bad enough making this music, let alone someone as venerated as Tietchens himself having to discuss it, blindly. I have a lot of time for his work, and respect his output even though we undoubtedly have very different approaches to composition - and I won't like him less should that respect not be wholly reciprocated. Either way, my gut instinct tells me that it won't be very different to what he'd write if he did listen to it. (At the same time, I'd certainly be disappointed if he displayed the wilfully reactionary ignorance of a David Toop.)

Most collections can be hit and miss, and this book is surely no exception, yet the experiment is so unique and interesting that my virtual conclusion is that I would recommend checking it out. If you can read German.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Sónar, for fuck's sake, wake up.

Have a read of the blurb for this year's Festival.

For an event that you'd think prided itself on its supposed modernity, isn't that just excruciatingly patronising? Every sentence, every phrase even, is like witnessing some awful amateur comedian dying on stage in front of an embarrassed audience. Or much more to the point it echoes the attitude of a time when Africans were placed in human zoos. It's like the 20th century never fucking happened.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Other than fine conversation, the most fun thing to do at the venerable Scottish Malt Whisky Society club in Edinburgh is not to imbibe what I regard as a toxic noxious liquid, but to take their smell test. It's like a quiz that comes in a wooden box with about a dozen small jars containing well-known essence combinations that are used - it'll drive you absolutely crazy not to be able to name some of the oh-so-familiar constituents of the combinations.

Speaking of which, this exhibition of scents might well be worth finding time to risk life and limb on the perilous A1 road south for (thanks to Melissa for the tip) - I mean, as someone who's both sceptical and suggestible in equal part, who doesn't want to smell the sun or some extinct flowers?

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Public play areas for children have acquired a rather seedy reputation (at least in the UK?) possibly dating back to the Mary Bell case: at times feral teenager hang-out, others low-level drug dealer rendezvous, yet others stalking ground for sexual predators - but rarely safe happy places for kids to have fun. Or at least that's a perception.

That all said, it's amazing to witness another startling picture collection from around the world of some aesthetically disturbing, if not truly nightmarish, playgrounds. Don't miss the second part either - you may never sleep soundly again.

Thanks to my dear friend Heike for directing me to this compilation.