I’m just listening to ‘A Little Mercy’ by The Durutti Column which is, apparently, twenty years old…
Fuck me, time flies, doesn’t it? I remember buying this 12″ (‘Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say’) and listening to it time after time, entranced by the otherworldliness of it all. In 1985, this record stuck out like a sore thumb. It still does now.
Twenty years later and I’m posting about it on a worldwide TCP/IP network.
Hello, the future! 🙂
Just half an hour or so ago, I was listening to the Jennifer Gentle album. I guess it’s my night for floaty guitarness… Coincidentally, Jennifer Gentle are Italians, whereas Vini Reilly is from Manchester but named his band after an Italian anarchist.
Jennifer Gentle could be Vini’s kids. Their album has the same warmth and delicate melody as his music and isn’t afraid to wander away from pop’s more rigid forms. The first three songs, all unstable, catchy psychpop, set the stage for the middle triptych of floaty-dissonant-floaty.
‘The Garden (Part One)’ is particularly sunny and reminds me of trying to dig to China on Hemsby beach when I was seven. True, Jennifer Gentle do spin off into more dissonant and Barrattesque psych territory but there’s still the same pastoral idyll going on underneath the majority of this album, like a duck’s little flippers.
If you buy either The Durutti Column or Jennifer Gentle you’ll have to listen a bit longer than normal for pop. But you’ll be rewarded with music of rare grace and heart.
My god… ‘Silence’ has just come on. It’s beautiful.
(Tonight, I got bored, restless and annoyed waiting for 230gigs of data to copy onto a backup drive. So I wrote the below manifesto for your education, elucidation, entertainment and perhaps as the first shot in the worldwide armed struggle against Pretendy Music. Pretendy Music is the opposite of Groink Music: Pretendy artists don’t use their own voices, don’t sing about their own lives and only do things if they are fashionable and bankable. Groink Musicians sing how they speak, live what they sing about and always wear comfortable shoes.)
The Groink Music Manifesto
Too much MTV will kill you.
Or at least send you deaf.
Yep, I’ve been watching too many “cutting-edge” rock/emo/indie bands again.
OBSERVATION: There are at least 2.36 million ways to play guitar. You can play it very badly like I do (if you un-practice diligently for seventeen years). Or you can play it in a virtuoso, John McLaughlin manner.
QUESTION: Why, then, choose to play it in the workmanlike, merely mediocre fashion that schmindie bands on MTV do?
Give me hot or cold. Lukewarm doesn’t fire my synapses.
Put some real effort into it, cut your fingers to shreds with your practicing or be proud to play with simplicity and candour. Every weekend, every guitar shop in the world is packed with adequate guitarists talking bollocks about string gauges and fretboards while the staff fake smiles and feign interest. The talkers are mediocre musicians, mediocre artists. They haven’t the talent for brilliance and they haven’t the wit to be bad.
OBSERVATION: There are at least 6,800 human languages.
QUESTION: Why, then, sing in English if it isn’t your native language?
(English is actually my second language, my first being Oriya. But my parents were told not to speak it to me when we moved here as it would damage my progress in English. Rubbish, of course, but the damage is done and now I only have scraps of household Oriya.)
Moreover, if you are an English speaker who’s not American…
SUB-QUESTION: …why sing in a terrible, fake American accent?
I have nothing against real American accents, they’re gorgeous and hypersexy. But the bland, nasal whine adopted by Brits singing in fake American is painful and un-necessary.
(One of the reasons I love this band is that I can tell where the singer is from. I can even tell which bit of the city he’s from.)
Of course, it’s always argued that it’s artistic licence and somehow the fake accent represents some inner truth. This is hopeless bullshit. Imagine meeting someone from, say, Hellesdon, who talked as if they were from Alabama. You’d think they were mental. Why does that change if they sing like that?
If music is anything to do with truth, we must first start with being ourselves and only then can we maybe start pretending to be Americans or channelling the spirit of dead Sioux warriors or whatever. And while I’m here, can all you necrophiliac bastards stop singing like Ian Curtis, pleeease?
OBSERVATION: There are many wild, interesting events that happen in the average person’s life. Sex, drugs, violence, arguments, crimes. Moments of tiny drama which may not be world-shaking but which are life-changing.
QUESTION: Why, then, sing about fuck-all?
Bands on MTV, why do you codify and obfuscate, why do I need to be a Bletchley-level cryptographer just to try and work out what the fuck you’re on about? It’s not big and clever and it’s certainly not real poetry, no matter how anguished your delivery and expensive your video. Could you not just tell me, in plain, simple language, about the first girl you fingered or the first boy you sucked-off?
But maybe you fancy yourself as the John Irving of rock lyrics, weaving fanciful fictions that enthrall your rapt audience? This is highly unlikely: more likely you’re doing a rubbish version of Bowie’s cut-n-paste and have ended up singing about meerkats and John Menzies. Try writing songs about real things first, eh? Maybe then you can graduate to multilayered mysteries of metaphor and magick.
SUB-QUESTION: But what if my life isn’t interesting enough to sing about?
Then, mate, you’ve got two options:
1. Stop being a songwriter, you dull fucking bastard.
2. Lead a more interesting life.
Say you’re a straight, white, middle-class English bloke who doesn’t feel very strongly about anything, even sex. Perhaps you could try getting arrested for something blasphemous in a strict Islamic country? Or maybe try going to a BNP meeting and saying you really fancy black girls? You’ve got an album just there! See? It’s easy!
And by the way, being more interesting doesn’t mean drinking or drugging more – those activities make for dead-eyed, twitchy songwriters who disappear up their own arses. Face it: every bastard drinks, gets stoned and bores their mates with pill stories. Wouldn’t you like to stand out from that sedated herd of anxious pinheads?
Summation and Call To Arms
Comrades, siblings, fellow travellers and the two people in US Military Intelligence who pop up on my server stats, lend me your ears!
In saying all the above, I’m not claiming that the music I make is wonderful. All I can say is that it’s real: I sing how I speak, I write about what happens to me and, most crucially, I wear very comfortable shoes.
This galaxy is shortly going to collide with Andromeda. In a few years*, our Sun will expand into a red giant and since we will never have stopped killing each other long enough to get off this planet, all human culture will be lost. All our art, writing, music. All gone. Even those tortured LiveJournal entries…yes, you know the ones I mean.
So music is pointless. Since this manifesto is about music, it’s also pointless.
But can I point out that masturbation is also pointless in a reproductive sense. And yet, we all love it and do it when there’s nowt on telly, don’t we? Why? Well, although we know we’re going nowhere on the journey, the trip is still more fun than staying at home. And if you don’t run your motor every now and then, the next time you need to go somewhere the battery will be flat.
But enough about wanking. Please take every word above as being absolutely literal and not open to any interpretation whatsoever. For I am an angry and vengeful, Old Testament kinda music-movement leader, rather than a lovingy, namby-pamby NT kind. We must be ever-vigilant in our battle with our nemesis, Pretendy Music. They have the radio, they have MTV, they have the big video budgets, they have the stylists and marketing and sales people getting their arse records on the shelves.
All we have is our passion and dyspepsia. And boxes of our unsold records under our beds. But once the Earth is obliterated, none of that will matter anyway, eh?
Together, we can make a band of mighty musical warriors, fearlessly singing about the real world! No shit!
love and kisses,
Britain’s top police officer, the Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Ian Blair, attempted to stop an independent external investigation into the shooting of a young Brazilian mistaken for a suicide bomber, it emerged yesterday.
Later that same day, after an exchange of opinions between Sir Ian, the Home Office and the IPCC, the commissioner was overruled. A Whitehall insider said: “We won that battle. There’s no ambiguity in the legislation, they had to do it.”
But a statement from the Met yesterday showed that despite the agreement to allow in independent investigators, the IPCC was kept away from Stockwell tube in south London, the scene of the shooting, for a further three days. This runs counter to usual practice, where the IPCC would expect to be at the scene within hours.
(Source: The Guardian)
Every day, the Menezes story grows more horrible. From the initial murder of this innocent, law-abiding man to the cover-up now being attempted from the heights of the police hierarchy.
Unless you’re a moron or a rabid Tory, you’ll be aware that this isn’t the first time the police have tried to get away with murder. Literally:
If the allegations contained in the leaks turn out to be true, this would not be a one-off. The police and the media have a distinguished history of misrepresentation in such cases; there have been more than 1,000 deaths in police custody in Britain in the past 30 years – most involving restraint, either in the cells or during arrest – and many of these people have subsequently been demonised.
(Source: Guardian Comment)
Do you remember the day of the shooting? Do you remember the rampant spin the police put out then? What happened to the heavy coat? What happened to the barrier-vaulting criminal? None of that was true. It was pure police propaganda, trying to make their murder look as good as possible. Follow the Guardian Comment link above to read about some more of their sterling work.
I’ll leave the last word to Mr de Menezes’s family:
Speaking from Brazil, Mr de Menezes’s cousin, Alex Alves Pereira, said: “The officers who have done this have to be sent to jail for life because it’s murder and the people who gave them the order to shoot must be punished. They should lock them up and throw away the key. They murdered him.”
Mr Pereira added that both Sir Ian and Tony Blair shared the officers’ culpability. “They are the really guilty ones,” he said.
(Source: The Guardian)
ITV News has obtained secret documents and photographs that detail why police shot Jean Charles De Menezes dead on the tube.
The documents and photographs confirm that Jean Charles was not carrying any bags, and was wearing a denim jacket, not a bulky winter coat, as had previously been claimed.
He was behaving normally, and did not vault the barriers, even stopping to pick up a free newspaper.
He started running when he saw a tube at the platform. Police had agreed they would shoot a suspect if he ran.
A document describes CCTV footage, which shows Mr de Menezes entered Stockwell station at a “normal walking pace” and descended slowly on an escalator.
The document said: “At some point near the bottom he is seen to run across the concourse and enter the carriage before sitting in an available seat.
Look at the photo above, if you can bear to. Does that look like a suspiciously heavy coat to you? Or does it in fact look like a thin denim jacket?
That body lying there could be you.
We currently have a trigger-happy police force who are sanctioned by our increasingly repressive government to shoot first. It’s not even ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ – there are no questions being asked. Everything is simply hushed-up in the great Blairite whitewash, the same amazing blindness that doesn’t see 100,000 Iraqi dead.
So, we have the police version: Asian man, vaulting barriers, heavy coat, refused to stop when shouted at.
And then we have the truth, as seen in the pic. A Brazilian guy (quite pale in appearance compared to me), light jacket, no bag, no vaulting. No refusals. Just ran to get his seat on the train.
No doubt our wonderful mainstream media and government of mass-murderers will find a way to justify this murder.
Perhaps they’ll issue new edicts – no running for trains unless you’re very white and have an ID card? How about no running anywhere at any time unless vetted by MI5 and the local police first? Surely it’s reasonable to ban all running in our great war against terror?
After all, we must protect our freedoms from the evil terrorists hellbent on destroying our liberty!
And how do we protect our freedoms? It’s obvious! WE MUST REMOVE THEM ALL, ONE BY ONE!
We must have constant surveillance by CCTV and intelligence agencies, we must have ID cards (eventually we’ll have microchips implanted, of course) we must have police death squads who shoot random citizens whenever the urge overcomes them. No questions asked. To question the police or our government is to side with the terrorists!
We must KEEP QUIET!
We must NOT QUESTION ANY ACTION THE POLICE CHOOSE TO TAKE (INCLUDING MURDER).
We must BE OBEDIENT CITIZENS IN THE WAR AGAINST EURASIA TERROR!
I’m currently listening to Last.fm. It’s playing me Ndongoy Daara by Orchestra Baobab.
Last.fm is a streaming net radio station that plays music based on your own tastes. How does it work this magic? Well, it used to be an adjunct to AudioScrobbler, a site where, after installing a wee plugin that monitored your WinAmp/iTunes playlist, you could collate your musical interests. And, more importantly, find neighbours with similar playlists which is always a great way to discover new music.
The old AudioScrobbler site has now apparently gone, revamped and replaced by a swish new Last.fm frontpage. First impressions: it’s much easier on the eye and I like the way all the sections are laid out. I sometimes get a bit confused between the personal groups button and the metagroups but that’s probably just me.
Of course, I’ve gone ego-surfing and spied on who’s been listening to my music. Hey – wouldn’t you? 😉
I’ve started a few fan groups but there’s nowt but me and tumbleweed on them so far. I guess that Anthony Newley and Telex aren’t that popular at the moment. Though they should be, goddammit!
So, if you’ve never used Last.fm or you tinkered with AudioScrobbler for a bit then lost interest, have a look at the site again. Pretty soon, if you’re as geeky as me, you’ll be sucked in by the sheer statistical glory of it all. Plus, it’s always fun spying on other people’s music tastes.
The lovely PaulKeith popped round mine the other day and I forced him to pose for a few snaps. My photographic assistant was the coy and slightly subdued RobLab. I think he was stunned by PaulKeith’s pulchritude.
In the direction of the constellation Canis Major, two spiral galaxies pass by each other like majestic ships in the night. The near-collision has been caught in images taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.
The larger and more massive galaxy is cataloged as NGC 2207 (on the left in the Hubble Heritage image), and the smaller one on the right is IC 2163. Strong tidal forces from NGC 2207 have distorted the shape of IC 2163, flinging out stars and gas into long streamers stretching out a hundred thousand light-years toward the right-hand edge of the image.
Have a look through the gallery. It’ll hopefully give you a different perspective on our everyday, mundane problems. In the gallery you’ll see galaxies colliding, stars blowing themselves to smithereens and nurseries full of baby suns. A lot of the images are from millions/billions of light years away and hence, millions/billions of years ago. When those events actually ocurred, the human species didn’t even exist.
In the last half a million years, we’ve managed to scrabble from mastering fire to mastering nuclear fission. Yet our behaviour remains as atavistically brutal and tribal as ever. Our technologies have evolved but our brains haven’t. We remain divided by idiotic superstitions, economic systems and superficialities of appearance.
Look at the Hubble images, the enormity of the universe. Is it likely that some deity put all that there merely so we could argue about what we do with our genitals, what foods to eat or how to cut our hair? Religion is the greatest arrogance and folly of humanity. Only those people who don’t have even an impression of how big the universe is could possibly believe its creation was dedicated to the human race.
I wonder if anyone anywhere in the universe will ever notice if a small blue planet suddenly darkens and is consumed by nuclear fires. After all, the species that briefly dominated that planet technologically probably never even collaborated long enough to colonise their moon, let alone leave their tiny solar system. They spent all their energies bombing each other, each faction proclaiming their unique access to “truth” and “God.”
The passing of the Earth and its squabbling, delusional, fanatical apes will be a spectacularly unimportant event.
Although my eye is still feeling pretty shonky, I had to pop out today to get some pics in the flutes of sunshine. I saw the little feller above and managed to get three good snaps. It’s Bombus agrorum, the common carder bee.
This morning when I woke up, my eye looked like this:
I’ve always had troublesome eyes. I’m hugely myopic and quite badly astigmatic. My eyesight is actually so bad that I can get money off my glasses.
In the late ’80s, I got annoyed with having to wear milk-bottle-lensed glasses so I switched to contact lenses.
After coming home from a hideously smoky Blue Note one night sometime in 1989, my left eye started hurting. I tried to sleep but the pain got worse. So, I got up and rinsed it out with some cold water. The pain increased. So, I woke my poor Dad up and he drove me to the DRI.
By this time the pain was the most intense I’d ever felt in my life. Imagine someone dragging a serrated knife across the surface of your eye. It was like that but worse. I was starting to go a bit weird and floaty, feeling slightly above everything. I’m guessing my brain was flooding with ?-endorphin .
I got to see the doctor and, after dropping some UV-fluorescent dye in my eye and examining it, she told me I’d got a huge tear across my conjunctiva. I had to have my eye bandaged up for a week to let it heal.
When I went back to have it checked, the doctor explained that it was probably due to me wearing contacts. Apparently, I’d had a bit of grit or something lodge in my eye, I hadn’t noticed and must have rubbed my eye at some time in the evening, ripping my conjunctiva.
The reason I hadn’t noticed is that in order to wear contacts, you have to overcome the natural blinking reflex your eye has when a foreign body touches it. If you’ve ever worn contacts, you know that when you first try them out, you cry and blink like buggery, it feels amazingly un-natural. You have to learn to ignore it. Over time, the doctor said, having contacts in reduces the sensitivity of the conjunctiva. So… the eye’s first defence against physical injury is hobbled. But she did say that I had particularly bad eyes and most contacts wearers seemed to have no ill effects.
Since then, I’ve had at least three more cuts to that eye, one where I had to go to hospital again. This morning when I saw it I was worried but not surprised. It looked horrible but my vision wasn’t affected apart from a very slight blurriness. But what was it?
Most times it is not clear what has caused the sub-conjunctival haemorrhage. It may be that a tiny blood vessel has burst with coughing or sneezing, or something has caught the surface of the eye.
(Source: MedInfo UK)
Seeing my history, I reckon it’s probably another cut or tear. Ah well…
As the MedInfo article says, the condition is dramatic in appearance but not serious. It’ll heal up so I won’t be bothering the doctor.
But if I do drop dead in the next couple of days from some kind of blood-pressure-related adventure, please refer the medical authorities to this post so they can tut-tut at the perils of self-diagnosis. 🙂
It’s hurting more now. I think I may pop to the doctor tomorrow.