Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thrill Power

Curse you, Tom Ewing.

In this piece he reminds me that I am thirty years older than I was when I held the first issue of 2000AD in my hand, and that I was a damn fool not to have held onto my collection of comics from the first three years or so of its existence. Judge Dredd. Judge Anderson. Strontium Dog. Nemesis. Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein. Giant spiders. Time travel. Cityscapes from beyond the imagination. This was a world that was way preferable to the one I lived in.

Nice to see that some of the early stories have been re-issued. I wonder how they hold up. It's a long way from 12 to 42. It might be like going back to your primary school as a grown-up: how on earth did we all fit into such a tiny room?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


At the moment (and, contrary to what you might think, this does happen from time to time), no matter what I am listening to, I would rather be listening to "From Here We Go Sublime" by The Field. Unless, that is, what I am listening to is "From Here We Go Sublime" by The Field, in which case, well, y'know, it's not such a problem.

I am unable to be particularly articulate about modern electronic music, as I have no usable substratum of listening to draw upon: my knowledge has jumped directly from 1982 to 2007. What I like about this record is its complete lack of focus; the way ghosts of songs (did somebody say "hauntology"?) appear at the periphery of vision, never quite clearly manifesting themselves. It also has a Fennesz-like way of constructing melody where you swear there are only collections of noise. (And wasn't I saying the same thing 20 years ago in relation to Sonic Youth and Husker Du? Except there the noise came from distorted guitars and feedback, whereas The Field gets it from machinery.)

Having said all that, the Number One song at our house at the moment is "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cure For Pain

Well, perhaps not so much cure as palliative care, but I have discovered that when, as now, the lurgi strikes, your mood can be at least temporarily lifted by:

1. Reading "On Chesil Beach", the new Ian McEwan novel, which is sufficiently small to accommodate the reduced attention span that comes with having a head full of snot.

2. Listening to the lesser-heralded W Minc compilation CD, "Where Joy Kills Sorrow", which allows you to dwell on other people's (manufactured) misery and thus feel uplifted yourself. It features everyone from the Queen of Soul, Renee Geyer, to the King of Pop, Dave Graney. Warren Ellis is even on there, with his dad. And Mick Harvey. And those magnificent Snarskis. And Robert Forster. Do I really need to go on?

Monday, April 09, 2007

I can't believe it's not ...

the December 2006 hypothetical mixtape, in April 2007.

The Go-Betweens, “Crystal Shacks”: a charming, laid-back mostly instrumental hidden on the “Worlds Apart” ep; whilst I may not be totally convinced that their best work was still ahead of them, yet I still cannot quite come to terms with the idea that they are at an end.

The Shakers, “Who Will Buy These Wonderful Evils?”: from the title on, this is as fine a piece of sixties garage psych as you are ever likely to uncover. It gets quiet, then it gets loud, then the Formula One cars go by, almost but not quite spinning off the track.

Kaleidoscope, “Faintly Blowing”: if you had told me this was a lost early Pink Floyd track, I might have been fooled. I am so in love with this song.

Calico Wall, “I’m A Living Sickness”: in the same, uh, vein. This one starts off like imitation Ennio Morricone, but soon dispels that idea. Sometimes it seems like there’s massive untapped wells of these sixties “nuggets” just waiting for excavation, and that we will never have heard the last of them. Which is just fine by me.

Tunng, “No Man Can Find The War”: one of my favourite folktronica exponents turn their hand to Tim Buckley’s Vietnam “protest” song and make it their own. I confess to being too close to the original to really be able to say how well this stands up under its own steam, but I venture to suggest Buckley neophytes would enjoy it as much as I do. I like the way they don’t try to out-vocal-range Tim Buckley - nobody could - rather, they play it dead straight all the way. Beautiful.

Shirley Collins and Davy Graham, “Reynardine”: which leads us, somehow, to Shirley Collins’s own ethereal voice, about which I know all too little.

Seekers Who Are Lovers, “It’s A Hard Life”: it starts off with a looped organ and serious vinyl hiss, which sits beneath somebody whose voice reminds me of somebody else (perhaps the singer from Rocketship, or perhaps, no, it’s coming to me, the guy from 14 Iced Bears - I think), singing about some of those universal truths young rock musicians like, or have, to sing about. (Even when that “young rock musician”, I later discover, is in this case Will Oldham.) For the first couple of minutes you are very conscious, not in a good way, of the 6.50 running time, but soon enough you are dragged under and time disappears. I find the 2006 copyright date both unlikely and extremely heartening.

Jean Paul Sartre Experience, “Own Two Feet”: a long-lost piece of minor-key gorgeousness from New Zealand circa the mid-1980s.

The Monochrome Set, “He’s Frank”: one of the things I have discovered in this era of MP3 theft is how great the Monochrome Set were. The guitar in this song just kills.

Depeche Mode vs Nirvana, “About A Girl In My Dreams”: Nirvana, unplugged, unexpectedly justifying their existence by providing the backing for Depeche Mode’s typically angst-ridden vocalisations and electronic squelches and squiggles. A rare example of two diametrically opposed sensibilities fitting together perfectly in the laboratory. Under controlled conditions.

Rosario Blefari, “Partir y Renunciar”: a pleasing blend of electronic noises and gentle Brazilian rhythms and vocals. If you said “Juana Molina” you wouldn’t be far wrong. From a CD called “4 Women No Cry” of which I like what I’ve heard.

Cal Tjader, “Gimme Shelter”: tacky but somehow perfect.

Blue Oyster Cult, “(Don’t Fear The) Reaper”: umlauts over the “O”, if you please. Man, this is is a blast from go to woah. For a “sell-out” record it so does not sell out. I assume that I am not the only person who hears quite a lot of later-period Husker Du (two more umlauts please) in this.

The Veronicas, “4Ever”: you got a problem with that? Sometimes all I really wanna do is jump up and down and spin my arms in giant circles.

Belle Epoque, “Miss Broadway”: if Suzi Quatro had donned sequins and white flairs rather than black leather, this could have been the result. (But then I wouldn't have been buying Suzi Quatro records in 1974.)

Ellen Allien and Apparat, “Turbo Dreams (Pier Bucci Mix)”: a messed-about-with version of one of the best songs from one of the best albums of the last little while.

Space, “On The Air”: a year or so ago I discovered that there has been, in a parallel universe to my own, a type of music entitled “space disco”. It has lately been reprised by such players as Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, and the Quiet Village Project, amongst others. This would seem to be a classic example of the genre. It is thematically similar to some of the big instrumentals from Yellow Magic Orchestra, let’s say “Rydeen”. (Can you use the word “thematically” in the context of an instrumental?) As the name suggests, this would have been a bitchin’ theme tune to a 1970s current affairs show on the ABC.

Einzelganger, “Untergang (Ruin)”: Giorgio Moroder. 1975. From the same album as “Warum”. What more do you want?

Komeit, “Summer’s Gone”: in this hemisphere, at this time of year, this song evokes a perfect mood. Melancholy, wistful, drifting in a still autumn early afternoon, sitting on the back deck, before the damn mosquitos start to zero in on me as the sun swings around to the west. (Postscript: I can't google this up to save myself. The name of the song is quite possibly wrong. The photo on Komeit's web site kind of fits the music.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Democracy At Work

Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

"Age of Mythology: The Titans exspansion pack for mac computers"

hosted on the web by, the free online petition
service, at:

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might
agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider
signing yourself.

Best wishes,