Archive for December, 2009

The End

December 31, 2009


2009 ends in largely underwhelming style for me this year. The year has seen me move house, back to the frozen wastes of the North (that I love) and begin a four year odyssey to try and add some letters to the beginning of my name. As way of reflecting on this year, I cast my mind back much earlier, to May 2005. This is wholly unrelated to 2009, but the memory sprung to mind and has sat there for a while. I decided to self publish a book this year, and had one large print copy made so I could go through and edit it before making it properly available. I find it hard to make changes to something so unwieldy without having a hard copy to scribble on…which doesn’t bode well for the FUUD.

My recollection is a series of places I sat to write the book; they all returned, revenant like, when beginning the arduous rewrite (in turn, this is preventing me from sorting out the current book I’m trying to get through*). The first, and probably coldest, was a siding near Norwich railway station that appeared in the book in three or four guises. There was a small wall, a fallen tree, two rusting train carriages and a biting wind so writing was usually reserved for short periods of time before catching a train.

I wrote in the University Library a fair amount as well, as it made researching that little bit easier. I sat opposite the low rise of the ziggurats, with their moss covered roofs, the outline of power lines in the distance above a man made lake and pine trees. Many of the birds I spied from that lookout ended up peppering the text.

I also wrote in a series of rooms I occupied during my time at University. The first was often swaddled by fog, which I attempted to record on minidisc one December (haunting was important to me even then I think). High up, leaking, penthouse style windows all around giving a panorama of hundreds of other windows. Rear Window. Another house I wrote in had frequent power cuts and was beneath ice for a sizable part of the winter of 2003 (there’s a track I recorded about it in the Audio Archive). The room I concluded the book in was on Lincoln Street, a short stroll from The Garden House where I remember a pint being spilled, a man named Toby, and me being dressed as a pirate detective. These all crept in, the latter being a principle character in the new one.

In May 2005 I finished the book. I spent two years writing it, on and off. It runs to about 260 pages, though my large print one is annoyingly weighty. Roughly speaking, I think it is about the end of the world, or rather all the ends of the world, and how five characters recall their former lives. It isn’t much, and is quite scttrsht, but I felt the need to preserve it for posterity, and to prove that if I don’t get the current one finished I at least had one book in me.

The question of why I write, considering it seems I already have enough writing to be getting on with, is perhaps best saved for a different time. So 2009 made me revisit old haunts, in preparation for writing about haunts in general. I guess that is what I’m saying.

Coming up in the next week, a series of album reviews from my associates.
The brief was to write a review of an album they’d heard for the first time this year, so not necessarily of this year. A fairly broad selection including Cardew’s rereleased Treatise, Bon Iver’s For Emma…, Wild Beast’s Two Dancers, Telefon Tel Aviv’s Immolate Yourself, Kevin Drumm’s Imperial Horizon and possibly one other.

* hobbies probably shouldn’t be cathartic, but the process of writing tends to expunge years of notes and half formed ideas, most of which fall on to the page with only the briefest attempts at shaping on making coherent.

Christmas Based Media

December 23, 2009

To celebrate whatever the hell it is we celebrate at this time of year (birth of famous/infamous God, close proximity to family, renewed spending power), I made a song that is not at all Christmas like. Feel free to download it. It will be about for a fortnight.

December 23rd 2009 (Download No Longer Available)

Last post until the very end of 09. Time for quiet.

Top Twenty 2009

December 16, 2009

Prior to an end of year update about memory, I thought it might be good to jump ahead of an impending January and list my top twenty albums of 2009. I am not going to write an extensive reason as to why, and will no doubt elaborate vaguely on the choices in the coming months any way, but would suggest that people search out those they aren’t familiar with and give them a go. I am also hoping that people will suggest some I have missed. Onward!


1.
Keith Fullerton Whitman
Taking Away


2.
Ben Frost
By The Throat


3.
Mountains
Choral


4.
Tim Hecker
An Imaginary Country


5.
Clark
Totem’s Flare


6.
Brock Van Wey
White Clouds Drift On And On

nb. My favourite track of the year is probably
Too Little Too Late from the above album.


7.
Giuseppe Ielasi
Aix


8.
Black To Comm
Alphabet 1968


9.
Animal Hospital
Memory


10.
Shackleton
Three EPs


11.
Blank Dogs
Under and Under


12.
Belbury Poly
From An Ancient Star


13.
Dal√ęk
Gutter Tactics


14.
Vladislav Delay
Tummaa


15.
Leyland Kirby
Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was


16.
DJ Sprinkle
120 Midtown Blues


17.
Moritz Von Oswald Trio
Vertical Ascent


18.
Biosphere
Live At The Arnolfini, Bristol


19.
Wounded Knee
Shimmering New Vistas


20.
Stephan Mathieu + Taylor Deupree
Transcriptions

So that was 2009. Vladislav Delay made the list twice in differing guises. Old favourites remain towards the top with new material. Overall, a very pleasing year sound wise. Hopefully, prior to the beginning of 2010, I’ll post some album reviews by close friends, as well as my recollections of the year (no predictions for the future). I’m so great I didn’t even post the albums in reverse order to build blog-tension. Kazaaaaam.

All Tomorrow’s Parties/Nightmare

December 9, 2009


We'd bought tickets for ATP quite a while back. As ever,
I'm impressed that they don't arrive until four days
before the event. Always good to start off by giving the
punters the idea they might never arrive.

The last time I'd been to ATP was when it was at Camber
in a run down Pontins. The group I had been with then
were the same this time, with the additions of DL, RVR
and Custardape. A pleasing mix, and nice to see every-
one after the hiatus following Dislocation. The
Nightmare Before Christmas was curated by My Bloody
Valentine, who had chosen an eclectic mix of acts for
the three days we spent in a Butlins in Minehead. The
results of this mix were mixed. A sizable proportion
of the acts that we chosen seemed to sound like sub-
standard MBV wannabes, which a cynic would view as
an effort to make MBV's 3 nights of headlining the
Centre Stage the best performance(s) of the festival.
It meant that the acts that really stood out for me,
and I think this goes for the people I was with, were
the ones that sounded nothing like MBV.

The MBV performance itself (I went on the Friday but
not again afterward...once is enough), was OK. I
think for a band with such an important place in our
collective musical heritage, this isn't exactly
glowing praise. Obviously, as a shoegaze act, the stage
performance is limited, but MBV seemed to avoid even
a brief contact with the audience. The sound was
terrible, in the sense that the sound engineer managed
to blend a series of fairly distinct instruments in to
a murk. Songs were discernible for sure, but from where
I was standing, it was a dirge with no audible vocal
(Shields complained sporadically about this). The crowd
, as with almost every band I saw, were largely motion-
less, so I couldn't say if the majority enjoyed or not.
DL definitely did, which is perhaps to do with stage
proximity. In the throng, the atmosphere is different;
further out it was just an average gig, with some
interesting song choices obscured by a sound engineer.


Highlights, as I say, were non-MBV related. Foremost of
all was Sun Ra Arkestra, led by Marshall Allen. They
played a set which as ThomPPW suggested was geared to
an audience of people who may not necessarily have more
than a passing interest in Sun Ra (Space is the Place,
Nuclear War are 'obvious' choices). Nonetheless, I
found it to be a revelatory experience. It is not often
I find myself genuinely feeling a performance, but this
was one of those occasions. I think it was largely
because of the history of those involved (seeing Allen
leaf through perhaps a thousand pages of music notation
amassed over fifty+ years) and the legacy of the songs.
The energy was amazing, meaning it was impossible not
to move to the music, despite a large portion of the
audience trying in vain (a recurring theme this year).
Excellent variations on Merry Christmas Baby and
Spaceship Lullaby's Holiday for Strings, along with
Knoel Scott's 'space dance' making it a gig I'll
remember for some time.

The high pointd spread over the weekend include Josh. T
Pearson's Texan railroad set, and our attempts to
stop Liam finding and arse licking him afterwards...
we failed...Gemma Hayes delicate set complete with
a beautiful little Kate Bush cover...Mum's set,
lacking in pretension and brimming with fun/joy...
beaming smiles from all throughout...Warren Ellis
apparently wanking someone off for a quid...
missing much of Sonic Youth in pursuit of crowd
based practical jokes...breakfast refuge in the
Sun and Moon...Chris being constantly hilarious,
even whilst urinating...an early morning Ariel
Pink set replete with raincoat adorned lunatic...
who later turns out to be the lead singer of the
Lilys, who were/are shit...De La Soul making some
of the crowd move...Liam drinking too much on
Friday...


Overall, a mixed bag. Good acts were few and far
between. The setting was odd, a mix of rundown (maybe
because it was out-of-season, maybe because that is
what Butlins is normally like) 'Disneyland for Rednecks'
as Warren Ellis put it on Sunday night, and gaudy
spectacle. The site is obviously chosen for getting the
most people in, but it meant the music was spread
thinly over three stages (Reds being largely redundant)
and the atmosphere was non-existent. There were nice
touches for sure, the availability of drinks that
weren't overpriced lager being one of them, but
the highlights came from the company I was with and
not the festival I had paid money to be at. The music
was patchy as I've mentioned, redeemed by Sun Ra
Arkestra, Mum, Dirty Three, Yo La Tengo, Gemma Hayes
(I thought I'd hate her, but she was cracking), Ariel
Pink, De La Soul, Sonic Youth. Too many MBV wannabes
and not enough edgy experimental fun. It seems
peculiar that the most exciting stuff came from a
band that have been playing variations of similar
material for over half a century.


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