October stuff

October 31, 2010

A quiet month, with work kicking in again and less time for listening……

DUBBLESTANDART – Marijuana Dreams – had a lot of time for their Return From Planet Dub double set from last year, so was curious about this new effort, promising as it does contributions from Lee Scratch Perry, David Lynch and William S. Burroughs – the latter presumably resurrected for the occasion. It’s a pleasant listen, no more.

THE RESIDENTS – Brava – although the quality of the disc label and packaging is much better than I’d anticipated from a produced-to-order cdr, the sound quality certainly isn’t. Poorly mixed and flat as a pancake. Listened to once, and filed right at the back of my Residents collection, probably never to see the light of day again.

DAVID THOMAS AND TWO PALE BOYS – I Remember Mars – a download from Hearpen.com. You can never have too much DT&2PB (imho).  This live set’s not too dissimilar to Meadville (recorded one or two years later).

EL GABINETE – Pasando Aceite – recent solo album from Nine Rain’s Daniel Aspuru. Sure the sax playing isn’t Steven Brown? I’m not.

THE ORB with DAVID GILMOUR – Metallic Spheres – double cd edition.  I think someone reviewed this on Amazon as being the perfect disc for a beach holiday. Might well be, but it falls flat around these parts.

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LE WEEKEND – All Things Must Pass

October 17, 2010

So, after 13 years, it’s over.

Yup, after this evening (Sunday 17th October), Stirling’s annual new music shindig, LE WEEKEND, will cease to be – although I do hope that some kind of variant events emerge in its place.

Although in later years my attendance waned as my tastes and those of the organisers diverged, and I became less and less tolerant of the anti-Nirvana default setting (quiet/loud/quiet) of honkclacksquartwiddlefring improv that began to dominate, I never lost my enthusiasm for the event and looked forward to checking the programme each year.

After all, it’s where I took my now wife of ten years to see Hoahio on the very day that I first met her in Edinburgh. A magic day indeed.

Quite a few acts have entertained over the years, but here are those that will remain in memory as moments of absolute transportation, shows from which I emerged feeling as though I were grinning from ear to ear with sheer joy.

Otomo Yoshihide (1998)

Haco (1999)

Hoahio (2000)

David Thomas & The Pale Orchestra (2001)

Acid Mothers Temple (2001)

Haco & Hiromichi Sakamoto (2004)

and now…

Tarwater (2010)

On the ‘minus’ side, I also recall being desperately disappointed by a no-show from Deathprod in 2005.

Anyway, Saturday night I met my chum Jo for a decent home-cooking French dinner in a new restaurant in the centre of Stirling before climbing the hill to the Tolbooth. First thing we caught was a dread improv session – technically impressive perhaps, but beyond that…. let’s just say that my tolerance levels remain low.

A break in the bar and then into another session, where I was absolutely scunnered by an improv twelve-string plucker and repaired outside the venue for a whiff of cold autumn air (and a cigarette or two).

Who should be standing out there engaged in similar activity but Ronald Lippok and Bernd Jestram of Tarwater – one of the delights of Le Weekend has always been that its size means there’s always the possibility of bumping into the artists in the bar/on the roof terrace etc… Difficult for me not to appear to be a bit of a fanboy (hey-ho), but had a lovely conversation with them, discovering along the way a mutual love for Tuxedomoon. Very interesting to discover that a German label (I think) is shortly to release a compilation loosely focussing on the works of Baudelaire, and featuring contributions from both bands (TM and TW). Eyes and ears peeled for that early next year.

Tarwater’s performance was absolutely sublime, all the better for being in a comfy seated venue (showing my age here). Not sure what any improv heads still in attendance might have made of it, but don’t really give a damn either. Great to be able to leave the event on a high point!

I would have been happy to commemorate the event passing with the purchase of one of the natty ‘All Things Must Pass’ t-shirts on offer, but until organisers of such events get it onto their heads that some folk like to wear their t-shirts baggy (ie XXL, XXXL etc…), nope.

And so, a fond farewell to Le Weekend…. perhaps fittingly, the last act of the last festival is Faust, a collective who’ve spanned both popular and avant works in their time. Shame I couldn’t manage to be there two nights in a row.


September stuff

October 1, 2010

MUSLIMGAUZE – Vampire Of Tehran & Jaal Ab Dullah & Uzbekistani Bizzare And Souk – that’s it with my Muslimgauze catch-up for the foreseeable future. Nothing in these three that particularly impresses, and I have most of the material on Vampire of Tehran on another release already. Should have checked before I bought.

MACHINEFABRIEK & ITHACA TRIO – Par Avion – a highly limited split CDr. You know what to expect.

GRINDERMAN – Grinderman 2 – they ‘rock’. As per.

UNDERWORLD – Barking – if only the music were as colourful and playful as the packaging. Apparently a return to ‘form’, although I prefer their more exploratory digital-only releases over the last three years or so.

ARP – The Soft Wave – well, someone’s been thoroughly immersed in early 70s electronic music, and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the overt influences here. There’s even a stab at Eno-esque songcraft on one track. An effective homage.

ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER – Rifts – double cd reissue of ‘early’ works. Some others who’ve obviously immersed themselves in analogue synth music. Although I’ve been enjoying a fair few releases of this ‘genre’ lately, I think this is just about enough for the moment.

CHRONOMAD – Sayeh –  shades of Muslimgauze here, modern ambient and electro-Arabic stylings. Shame it’s so brief.

NATACHA ATLAS – Mounqaliba – A more laid-back and jazz-inflected album than her previous work, Natacha still questing and pushing at the limits of her craft. Utterly gorgeous stuff, and although a couple of reviewers have railed against ‘spoken word’ interludes, they’re delivered in tandem with engaging soundscapes and become one with the flow of the album.

SWANS – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky – still not listened to this yet, saving it so that I can immerse myself in it in the run-up to their Glasgow show at the end of October.

WIN – Freaky Trigger – a new expanded edition containing singles B sides and remixes. Now can we please have a similar job on Uh! Tears Baby?

ABERFELDY – Somewhere To Jump From – whatever it was that I found attractive about the first two Aberfeldy albums (and I’ve not thought too hard about this) feels absent from this one. Something to be sold on.

DAVID BOWIE – Station To Station – boxed set. The cheaper version, bought primarily for the official release of a Nassau Coliseum show that’s apparently been heavily bootlegged in the past. Underwhelming, unfortunately.

Having been entertained at his book festival appearance last month, I finally got around to reading Jah Wobble‘s autobiography ‘Memoirs Of A Geezer‘ (I’m with him on the title, it’s rank). He’s not about to win any awards for prose style, but it’s hard not to warm to him – and he’s certainly lived through a lot. Also devoured Chris Connelly‘s skimpy but entertaining first novel ‘Ed Royal‘ a chiller set in early 80s Edinburgh. It’s a strong evocation of time/place, and memories flooded back – not all of them pleasant. Decent film adaptation potential too, and I’d bet someone’s already on the case.

Late in the month I saw Antye Greie/AGF play and perform in a new version of Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando at the Traverse, starring the extraordinary Madeleine Worrall. (yes, I actually went to a theatre).

Whatever material Craig Armstrong crafted for the soundtrack Antye Greie has certainly made her own, an extraordinary versatile laptop soundworld that amusingly included the amplified scratching of quill pens as the audience filtered into the venue pre show.  Lighting design and projections were mesmerising throughout. It’s been a long time since I’ve wondered ‘how the hell did they do that?, and with seemingly minimal resources too – technology works, technology delivers. If this piece gets a tour, it’s certainly worth making the effort to go along. Fingers crossed that there might be an associated soundtrack release from Antye at some point.