Virus TI Polar

On Monday, I took a deep breath and bought a Virus TI Polar.

I’ve had my eye on one for at least a year. I love the small size and the sonic creation and mangling possibilities. But I also held off buying because there’s been much talk about the Virus TIs being crashy and unreliable. In fact, when I tested one out in London a year ago, it crashed quite horribly.

But I decided to take the risk because there have been numerous software updates since then. Plus, I bought it from a local shop so if I have any problems with it, I can easily get it sorted.

So far, I’m hugely happy with the little beast. It’s very easy to program and sounds great, punchy basses and sharply transient percussion patches show the power of its DSPs. It’s a shame that it comes with such un-inspiring presets – they all head into the same cliched trancey territory that every contemporary synth seems to pitch at. Using a Virus TI to create generic trance patches is like using a Stradivarius to play the Birdie Song. It’d be cool to hear some IDM sounds going on there, or funk, hip hop – whatever. Soundsets that demonstrate the versatility of the synth.

I love the knobular aspect of the Polar, it means that you don’t have to dig into menus for everything, something that stymies my creativity on other synths. Just messing around today, I came up with some fantastically stupid sounds that I would find very hard to create on any other synth I own. I can easily see the Virus TI making its own unique space next to my other synths, digital and analogue.

Click the pic at the top for some shots I got earlier! 😀

Dog Problems FOR FREE!

Dog Problems

click HERE to get
DOG PROBLEMS
for FREE from JUNE 25-JULY16

Tell your friends.
Tell your enemies.
Tell your mom.
We are celebrating the 1 year Anniversary of the release by offering it for free to anybody who can click.

If you can’t click then we can’t help you.
(Source: The Format)

Do you remember this rave review I did?

Well, thanks to the lovely peeps who are The Format, you can hear for yourself if I’m insane. Just give them a bit of info and get your FREE ALBUM.

Wooohooo! 😀

Big Blue Playlist 23/6/07

Woohoo! Loads more people tonight and I even had some requests! It was a lovely, chilled vibe in Big Blue and everyone seemed to enjoy chatting, scoffing yummy food and hearing some new music! 😀

The Narrator
The Narrator (pic by Ryan Russell)

Tonight’s top new song was the spiffy ‘SurfJew’ by Chicago-based (but not bred) band, The Narrator. It’s classic American indiepop in the Yo La Tengo, Pavement-mould, all thrumming guitars, sprawling vocals and a mega-catchy singalong bit. Really, if you’ve ever liked any indierock ever, this song should be playing loudly near you this summer. But why take my lunatic word for it when you can have a listen for yourself by clicking here (don’t worry, the BPI/RIAA won’t get you, it’s from their website). The album that ‘SurfJew’ is taken from, ‘All That To The Wall’ is deffo going to be one of my top albums of 2007. It’s out now and you can buy it here and here! Go on! BUY IT!

Henry Mancini
The dapper tapper, Enrico Nicola Mancini

The best old track was ‘My Manne Shelly’ by Henry Mancini (and featuring the sublime Shelly Manne on drums, natch). It’s a laid back track with a great swing and some fantastic twiddly drum bits. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a Mancini nut as I grew up being enthralled by his soundtracks. He’s just a great composer, arranger and conductor. Check him out if you love soundtrack music but make sure you go further than ‘Breakfast At Tiffanys’ and the ‘Pink Panther.’ As great as those works were, that’s only scratching the surface of Mancini’s loveliness.

Tonight, you heard:
The Dear Hunter – The Lake And The River
Little Ones – Let Them Ring The Bells
Mesu Kasumai – Croatian Love
Henry Mancini – My Manne Shelly
Braintax – Syriana Style
Fugazi – Waiting Room
John Baker – Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO
Lamb of God – A Warning
Young Marble Giants – N.I.T.A.
Officer Kicks – Dog Day Rush
B-Tight – Ein Schlag (Feat. Alpa Gun)
Goodnight City – Picture Perfect
The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979
John Barry – Amicalement Votre
Goto80 – Spill
The Format – Time Bomb
Throwdown – Unite
mc chris – Fett’s Vett
Wir sind Helden – Fuer Nichts Garantieren
Vapnet – Kalla Mig
MC Solaar – Nouveau Western
The Fall of Troy – Problem!?
Ten and Tracer – Warm Vic
The Birthday Party – Mutiny In Heaven
Murs – Murray’s Law
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness – The Ghost
Mel Tormé – Comin’ Home Baby
The Red Chord – L Formation
of Montreal – Gronlandic Edit
Access Immortal – Acc The Villain
Deerhoof – The Perfect Me
I Am The Ocean – Bet’cha Your Job
Clark – Urgent Jell Hack
The Lucksmiths – Self-Preservation
Numèro# – Hit-Pop
Modest Mouse – Paper Thin Walls
Buff1 – Pretty Baby
Mastodon – Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife
Sleeping Beauty – All You Can Take
Like a Tim – Let’s Die Together
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names – Parakit
Man Parrish – Hip Hop Be Bop
The Two Koreas – U-Boat Commander
Doormouse – Ginoism (Remix)
AKIR – Politricks
Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline)
OOO – Jabberwok V7
The High Strung – Raise The Bar
Good Clean Fun – A Little Bit Emo, A Little Bit Hardcore
Half Man Half Biscuit – Four Skinny Indie Kids
Komeda – It’s Alright, Baby
A Life Once Lost – Cavil
Black Milk – Popular Demand
Patrick Wolf – Accident & Emergency
Shellac – Prayer To God
The Mary Onettes – Void
Skinnyman – No Big Ting
Chimaira – Needle
Art Brut – Pump Up The Volume
Danger Doom – El Chupa Nibre
Binärpilot – Goof
The Narrator – Surfjew
Spoon – Finer Feelings
Goudron – Art School Fuckheads
Brakes – Heard About Your Band
Dyme Def – Stickemup
The Samuel Jackson Five – If You Show Off The Milk, Who’s Gonna Buy The Cow?
Cats on fire – Draw In The Reins
The Tuss – Last Rushup 10
Mixtapes & Cellmates – Moments
Lupe Fiasco – Kick, Push
The Saps – The Way You Want Me To
Melt-Banana – Cat Brain Land
Boards of Canada – Aquarius

TV Screen Switch-On


Note the crapped-up screen behind the hired-in one.

Last week was the grand switch-on of the new carbuncle er… lovely huge TV screen in Derby marketplace. I popped along and got a few shots of the majesty, click the pic above for the gallery.

When we turned up at the already drizzly venue, it was apparent we had a 100% surfeit of screens. So I asked a steward why there was a truck with a screen in front of our oil-rig surplus screen. He told me it was a “soft-launch.” When I asked for him to elaborate, he said, “The big one’s bust so they’ve hired this one in.”

Ahhh, Derby!

You just couldn’t make this stuff up!

Dispatches – Drinking Yourself To Death

Cirrhotic Liver
A normal liver on the left, a cirrhotic liver on the right. Mmmm… tasty fibrosis!

Dispatches investigates the medical profession’s warnings of a liver disease time bomb by organising a unique experiment – using cutting edge technology not yet available on the NHS to test the health of people’s livers in London and Birmingham.

In all, 70 passers-by take up the opportunity to have the test – with shocking results that suggest the incidence of liver disease is even higher than doctors had feared.

Dr Rajiv Jalan, who supervises some of the testing is astonished by this snapshot of the liver health of the nation, saying: “I’m stunned. We are looking at an epidemic that’s going to face us in 15/20 years which the health service will find impossible to deal with.”

One doctor says: “We’re seeing more and more people who work in the City or work busy jobs who drink socially, with meetings, entertaining clients, come home in the evening, have half a bottle of wine or more just to relax after a busy day’s work. They’re not getting drunk, they’re not dependent, they have high-profile, high-powered jobs and yet they get liver disease.”
(Source: Channel 4 – Dispatches)

I’m watching this edition of Dispatches now. It all seems terribly familiar to me…

The journalist has just interviewed an industry spokesman, asking why the alcohol industry has lobbied against The Anderson Report, a comprehensive scientific study that recommended treating alcohol in the same way as we now treat smoking.

But the industry doesn’t want increased taxes, advertising bans, warnings on their drugs.

And this is where my deja-vu comes in. I’m reminded strongly of the tactics the tobacco industry used (and continues to use) to protect their peddling of cancer sticks.

There’s another industry PR cunt on now, rubbishing all the health warnings. I hope he can sleep soundly at night, knowing that his job is to help cause misery, disease and suffering for millions of people.

The startling thing about this programme is that it’s not pointing at the extreme drinkers, it’s singling out the people who have a few glasses of wine at the end of a long day. The “normal” drinkers. It’s these people that are the ticking time-bomb of future liver disease.

I got drunk when I was a kid, I enjoyed it for a while. But I gave up 25 years ago and I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. In truth, the only reason I started was peer pressure. Drinking itself is pointless and illogical. Moreover, if you need a drink to enjoy a night out, then that’s precisely the time you should stop. I’m amazed people spend so much money on getting habituated to a drug which is both enormously physically damaging and an obvious emotional crutch.

But I guess I would say all the above, being a loony, commie straight-edger, eh? 🙂

I’ll leave you with a few more loony facts:

Total Health Impact

* Alcohol is responsible for 7.4% of all ill-health and early death in the EU (after taking account of any benefits to health), which makes it the third most important cause behind tobacco and high blood pressure and ahead of factors like obesity, high cholesterol and illicit drugs.

* Alcohol is responsible for 115,000 deaths in people who die before the age of 70 (after taking into account any health benefits), and is the leading cause of death in young men in the EU.

* Alcohol is a cause of harm to others than the drinker, including some 60,000 underweight births, 5-9 million children living in families adversely affected by alcohol, 10,000 traffic deaths to people other than the driver, and 2,000 murders in the European Union each year.
(Source: Anderson Report)

Big Blue Playlist 16/6/07

Yaaaay! I haven’t DJed since last year and I’ve missed it! Now I’m DJing at Big Blue every Saturday, 8pm – 12. Last night was very quiet (only had a day’s notice to get the word out) but still great fun.

There’s so much fantastic new music I want to play, from loads of different genres. I’m hoping to play more non-English, non-rock music in the future and I made a little start last night with some German and French hip hop plus Swedish and Spanish indiepop.

The Fall Of Troy

The best new track this week was by the chaps above, The Fall Of Troy. ‘Problem!?’ is a fantastically ambitious track, starting off screamo-y hardcore but then morphing into what I can only describe as ultra hair-metal, complete with ridiculous soloing and falsetto vocals. It’s not often you hear a contemporary rock band this startling, this willing to fuck with genre conventions. ‘Problem!?’ is off TFOT’s new album, ‘Manipulator,’ and if you’ve ever liked anything shouty and heavy, I reckon you should give it a listen.

The Commodores

The best old track was ‘Machine Gun’ by The Commodores. This is the sound of a band at its peak, in terms of both composition and performance. There’s not one wasted note, everything clicks together to make one of the best instrumentals I’ve ever heard. And the beat! My god, if this song doesn’t make you want to boogie, you might want to check your pulse.

Tonight, you heard:
The Site Of Future Rome – Dolphin Song
The Locust – Practiced Hatred
Roots Manuva – No Love
The Soviettes – (Do) The Stagger
OOO – Jabberwok V7
Vapnet – Kalla Mig
PIC NIC – Soninko Maremu
Goodnight City – Picture Perfect
Officer Kicks – Dog Day Rush
8G – Lemon Prize
John Barry – Hit And Miss
Dead Prez, Saigon, Immortal Technique – Impeach The President
Mastodon – Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife
Patrick Wolf – Accident & Emergency
The Tuss – Last Rushup 10
The Clientele – The Dance Of The Hours
Grandmaster Flash feat. Melle Mel – (White Lines) Don’t Do It
Goto80 – Spill
Little Ones – Let Them Ring The Bells
mc chris – Fett’s Vett
Melt-Banana – Cat Brain Land
The Mary Onettes – Void
Less Than Jake – Sleep It Off
7L & Esoteric – Get Dumb
The Narrator – Surfjew
Huoratron – Liquid Acieeed
The Fall of Troy – Problem!?
Lupe Fiasco – Kick, Push
Au Revoir Simone – Sad Song
Ed Gein – Marlboro Man Is A Douche Bag
Andrew Gold – How Can This Be Love?
The High Strung – Raise The Bar
Numèro# – J’aime La Bourgeoisie
Refree – Faltas Leves
B-Tight – Hor Nich Auf (Feat. Sido)
Ramones – Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Like a Tim – Zilver 3
Converge – Black Cloud
Braintax – Syriana Style
The Two Koreas – U-Boat Commander
Vapnet – Thomèegrand
Zdarlight – Digitalism
The Format – Oceans
Megadeth – Holy Wars
AKIR – Politricks
The Saps – The Way You Want Me To
Clark – Re-Scar Kiln
Good Clean Fun – Ex-Straight Edge Ex
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness – The Ghost
Adeem – Broken Right Wing
Henry Mancini – My Manne Shelly
Kings of Convenience – Failure
Motocade – State And Maine
Rodney P – We Don’t Like Coppers
I Am The Ocean – Scribble Jack
Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country
of Montreal – Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean
Commodores – Machine Gun
Spoon – Finer Feelings
DJ Krush – Transition
Cats on fire – Higher Grounds
Black Flag – Louie Louie
Rollins Band – Icon
Black Milk – Popular Demand
Tub Ring – When The Crash Happened
Gorilla Biscuits – Start Today
MC Solaar – Nouveau Western
Sibiria – Hat Tillbaks
ZAO – Ember
Field Music – If Only The Moon Were Up
Mixtapes & Cellmates – Moments
Sweatshop Union – Us
Jonathan Richman – The Neighbors
Dudley Moore – Bedazzled
Mark Murphy – This Could Be The Start Of Something Big
Jon Brion – Here We Go

Burgerman Mural Done!

Click above to see some colouring in from Saturday…

And click Mr. Burgerman himself above to see a few pics from the last day, Sunday. I’ve also added a stitched panorama of the whole mural. You can’t really see much detail in the Flickr version but the finished pic was 30,000+ pixels wide so I haven’t uploaded that.

It’s there, though, as a record of the finished artwork.

Apparently, the mural is going to be left up, unprotected, until September. This seems a tad barmy to me: if you’ve paid an internationally-renowned artist to make some artwork, surely bunging a perspex box over the top of it wouldn’t be that un-warranted an expense?

It was wonderful being a small part of the creation of the mural, I had a lovely time colouring in my bit of sky and some orange. Derby city centre is currently a pretty horrible place to visit: endless roadworks, torn-up pavement everywhere and, hovering above all the chaos, the Evil Box of the new cinema, glowering at the citizens.

Jon’s mural was (and is) a little ray of sunshine in that leaden pall. Something positive and creative that brought a lot of ordinary Derby people together.

Can we have more of that and less of the fugly boxes, please?

Colin Powell: Mass-Murderer, Liar And Hypocrite

Colin Powell, mass-murderer
Above, Powell lying to the UN about Iraqi WMDs

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has called for the immediate closure of the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“If it were up to me I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow but this afternoon,” Mr Powell told US NBC’s Meet the Press television programme.

“Essentially, we have shaken the belief the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission.”

(Source: BBC News)

So, Colin Powell, one of the chief architects of the bloodbath in Iraq wants Guantanamo closed? Is it because of five years of torture, kidnapping and illegal imprisonment, including that of children?

No.

It’s because it makes America look bad.

Fuck the people held without trial after being whisked away from their homes on secret CIA flights, fuck their human rights, fuck the horror and humiliation. He doesn’t want people to think nasty things about the great American justice system!

Now, this is a man with his priorities and morals in order! Bravo, Colin! Yes, once the moral eyesore of Guantanamo is swept away and you carry on kidnapping and torturing innocents in other, dispersed prisons, that’ll make everything all better.

About 380 detainees are held at the prison, which was opened by the US government in 2002 to hold foreign terror suspects captured during the war against the Afghan Taleban and al-Qaeda.

A high-security facility at the Guantanamo US base in Cuba, it is not subject to normal US court rules.

The inmates, regarded as “enemy combatants”, are not given the same rights as prisoners-of-war.

Many countries have called for the camp to be closed.

UK prime Minister Tony Blair – a staunch ally of US President George W Bush – has called it an “anomaly” that should be dealt with “sooner or later”.
(Source: BBC News)

Ah yes, only Tony Blair, Britain’s self-appointed moral compass, could call a torture camp an “anomaly.”