October 30, 2009

Some pics that don’t really justify an entire post of my waffling…but collected together as one post…well, they still don’t really cut the mustard.

Des (bass player in Cassette Electrik) looking cool in rehearsal. Gig next Saturday @ 333 Club. Be there! (Especially you, Des)


Stage and set for Causcasian Chalk Circle


The tech before the first performance:


Splendid angle of the arch at Richmond theatre. I took this picture. Me!!!


Have you noticed this recent trend for young men (or ‘nincompoops’ as I like to think of them) wandering around the transport system in their football gear in the late evening time? Yes, me too.


Nice Hollywood style theatre lights. Nary a footballer in sight.


It’s not often you get to stroll around taking pictures on the Old Kent Road flyover just south of Elephant and Castle. But when the road is shut, it’s possible to sneak up on a road bicycle without being spotted by the police and outraged citizens. I can now exclusively reveal what a road looks like with no cars on it:


(Perez Hilton – cos I know you read this blog –  eat out your heart with a tiny golden spoon: this is my scoop)

So I went into HMV the other week for the first time in ages. Racks of CDs…just seems so…old fasioned now?


Extraordinary and dilapidated, but functioning, Wilton Hall on Cable Street, Wapping. Really want to see a performance here of something – the atmosphere would be incredible. They’ve got a great bar there too – profits go towards the restoration of the building and theatre.



London Lite’s out – Maybe?

October 28, 2009

We can only hope.

“”Despite reaching a large audience with an excellent editorial format, we are concerned about the commercial viability in this highly competitive area.” said  Steve auckland, MD of AN Free Division

Interesting re-definition of the word ‘excellent’ to mean ‘focussed entirely on minor celebrities falling out of clubs late at night’. I suppose it did excell at that. Well done LL for so relentlessly  purpetuating the crap end of culture. Good bye!




Samba-reggae is funkier than funk

October 25, 2009

I may have mentioned this before, but when playing samba-reggae it often occurs to me than it’s almost literally funkier than funk itself.

Just came across a clip of the group I play with captured at Notting Hill.

Check it out – it’s funky!

October 23, 2009

Huzzah, finally! A documentary about German instrumental progressive rock between 1970-1979. And about time too.

Tonight: BBC4 Krautrock: rebirth of Germany
(tons of great krautrock youtubes on there too)

Following on from last week’s Synth Britannia (which was really only about early 80’s pop music and the bands who we are all overfamiliar with these days), I’m really looking to learning some new things tonight.

Despite my claims that my new band On Rails is inspired by Krautrock, I’m not actually a massive obsessive of the genre. I used to listen to Can and Faust a bit, but I don’t know that much about them. And I only heard Neu! for the first time a few years back. (At which point I realised  that Stereolab weren’t quite the sonic pioneers I’d previously thought…)

Thinking about it, I was more on the electronic side (surprise!), so was far more obsessive about Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottlieb etc. I expect those guys will get a mention too, but I think the programme will concentrate more on the ‘rockier’ and more experimental bands.

Anyway, am looking forward it.

One caveat: I notice on the programme’s press release they cite Kasabian as influenced by Krautrock. Surely some mistake? They may ‘say’ that to get a bit of credibility, but they pump out the same dreary indie-rock as anybody else – and are about as related to interesting music as Robbie Williams. Fuck off Kasabian. And Franz Ferdinand, while we’re at it.

If you want to hear a proper modern band influence by krautrock, listen to On Rails. Can you see that getting to #1? EXACTLY!

British Na[z]tional Party

October 23, 2009

Oh man, that was awesome, poor old stupid Nick Griffin. Not very bright is he? Manipulative, obviously, for getting elected to the European Parliament, but not actually very clever.

Here he is in the olden days, not being racist:

The Mirror

What was all that stuff about the only true English people are those descended from ‘indigenous people 17,000 years ago’? When actually the only people on the European continent were the now extinct Neandathals (as Bonnie Greer pointed out). What a very peculiar man.

Luckily in Britain, we tend to resist strong ideologies, I think we find anyone that earnest about a mere idea somewhat laughable. At least, that’s my theory for why the 20th century European movements of communism, fascism, anarchism, futurism, etc, never really got a foothold here.

But, really, and this is my perspective as a musician, can you imagine what life would be like without  being allowed to listen to music from ‘other’ cultures? Thicko thicky Nick Griffin must literally only listen to northern brass bands and watch Morris Dancers if he follows his thicko thicky creed to it’s logical conclusion.

It would mean he wouldn’t be able to listen to:

  • GF Handel (German, non British), JS Bach (German, non British), Mozart (Autrian, non-British), Ravel, Beethoven, Mendelsohn, Satie, …in fact I assume he refuses to hear the entire European Western classical cannon.
    He would be allowed to listen to the few British born ones who are considered to be any good: William Byrd, Purcell, Vaughn, er, Gustav Holst (well, he was born in England, but his grandfather was Swiss, so actually we should probably exclude him)
  • Ragtime, Blues, Jazz, Rock. All derived from varying blends of African, European and American Indigneous music. Better not turn on Classic Rock FM eh, Nick, nothing for you there.
  • Soul, RnB, Swing. Well, no need to explain these – definitely off the musical menu.
  • Pop. All derived from the above categories – and with other things like Bhangra thrown in for good measure – thus abhorrent and are ‘weakened’ versions of the true genetic strain of True English Music.
  • Any World music, whether my beloved maracatu, or the life affirming pop of Ghana or Mali, the extraordinary sounds of Tuvan throat singing, etc, etc. There’s a lot of music out there in the world, but Nick Griffin mustn’t allow one note of it to enter his mind. Just in case, you know, er, he finds he likes it. And then he might need to admit that people are just people at the end of the day.
  • Dance music. Well, it’s the machine descedant of the hypnotic drumming of Burundi. Forget about it Nick – this isn’t for you either.

As Sir Thomas Beecham said, ‘There would be life without music, but it wouldn’t be worth living’. And similarly, there would be life in the UK without the cultures of the world to experience, but it probably wouldn’t be worth living it.

Synth Britannia

October 16, 2009

Damn, my private obsession going public! How annoying…bugger off, everyone else, synths are my thing.


Still, it should be fun and I’m looking forward to it.

Here are my predictions:

[ ] It will be mainly talking heads reminiscing about the early 80s. Only some of these will actually be musicians. One of them will be Paul Morley (who I dig, actually)

Most were musicians, actually and instead of music journalist Paul Morley like I’d thought, they had music journalist Simon Reynolds.

[ ] Rick Wakeman gives an amusing anecdote about how he bought a MiniMoog from another musician who thought it was broken cos it only played ‘one note at a time’ (it’s a monophonic synth)

No Rick Wakeman.

[ ] Amused, but ultimately disparaging references to the dinosaur prog-rockers who used massive modular synths in the mid 70’s and made music that ‘wasn’t popular’ (though it actually was at the time.)

Yes. A couple of shots of Keith Emerson in ‘King Arthur’ regalia in front of a wall of synth. making the point that synths at this point were too expensive for mere mortals to buy. Which was true enough.

[ ] How the pop-charts were turned ‘upside down’ by Depeche Mode using synths (also: Gary Numan, Human League, OMD (hopefully!, Yazoo (urgh), Soft Cell) The whole programme will actually just focus on these types of groups as if that’s the only music ever made with synthesizers.

Yes. This was the entire thrust of the programme. But it was done well, with lots of the actual people who were there using the first synths, etc.

[ ] How synths are more punk than punk (‘easier’ to play)

Ha, yes! I must have remembered this point from Simon Reynolds’ excellent book: Rip it up and start again.

[ ] There will be no mention of the synth heroes of the late 70s and early 80s who inspired me when I was 8 and who are now tragically unhip: Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Tomita, Wendy/Walter Carlos, Marek Bilinski, et al.

I thought I was going to be wrong on this one as they started with Wendy Carlos’ music for A Clockwork Orange and I got quite excited, but no mention of any of the above for the rest of it. I’m sure all those Depeche Mode and OMD guys listened to this stuff, and they’re just pretending they didn’t cos it sounds unfashionable to say anything other than Kraftwerk these days. Tangerine Dream got the briefest of mentions.

[ ] There will be no interesting history of electronic instruments: ondes martenot (unless they get Radiohead’s Greenwood on), theremin, musique concrete

Yup, no history.

[ ] Beatles might get a mention. Nope.

[ ] KRAFTWERK BETTER GET A MENTION. How awesome if they actually got an interview with Ralf or Florian. Doubt it though.

Bloody hell, an actual interview with Florian! Well done!

[ ] There will be no mentions of: VCA, VCF, LFOs, Modulation, Filter, Resonance, Oscillators, keyboard tracking, sample rate, digital vs analogue.


[ ] There will be amused references to how the early synths were ‘supposed to sound like real instruments’ – cue rubbish trumpet sound, and how realistic they are today

Not really.

Bring on the (synthesized) noise!

Yeeah, it was a fun programme, but too much about bands we are too familiar with. Would have been interesting to go beyond the obvious big bands – the League, Kraftwerk, Mode, OMD, etc and see what else was going on at the time. I would have liked it a bit geekier as well, more interviews with synth designers talking about filters and stuff.

The Venn of Doubt

October 13, 2009

You may doubt it, but I am able to deploy the following Venn to describe some facts about the bar I popped into late last night to hear DJ Adamix play out one of our latest remixes:

Venn of doubt4


  • Kevin Spacey was dressed all in black with a black woolly hat (or ‘beanie’ as he might refer to it)
  • Gary Davies was the Chris Moyles of the 1980’s.
  • A band called JLS were also there, but as someone had to explain what a ‘JLS’ was, I have not included them on the Venn of Doubt.
  • Bar Music Hall is in London’s trendy Shoreditch.
  • John Venn was born in 1823 and was educated in Highgate, London. He graduated from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1857. He was ordained a priest in 1859 and wrote the splendid Symbolic Logic in 1881.