Don't Drop The Baby

This is a thing of quiet beauty:

That is all.

currently playing: Low — Transmission


Apple introduces a new object of lust, of music as fetish, of gigabytes and gigabytes, of perfect form and factor, of an extra 50% battery life, and of irritating everyone who bought one last week.

The music companies act all innocent and pretend they only just noticed that That's All Right will enter the public domain next year. Because I'm sure that BMG hasn't sold enough Elvis records yet. And if this means that ten years from now, people can quote Beatles lyrics without having to fork over money to Michael Jackson, I'm all for it, personally.

(as a brief aside, does anybody really think that when the new extended copyright period is up, Disney and the others are going to relinquish their copyrights? Or will they pay off a bunch of politicians again and get copyright extended to the heat-death of the universe?)

Bionic Commando lives on!

For iTunes users - Apple has released audio recordings of the 9/11 Commission Hearings. You can get them for free on iTMS. Here's Richard Clarke, for example,

My current musical obsession.

The Daily Show on possible US election 'postponements'.

currently playing: Propaganda — Dream Within A Dream

No Mountains Left To Climb, Or So I'm Told

Disco InfernoSummer’s Last Sound / Love’s Stepping Out Disco Inferno Che Released: January 1991 Highest UK Chart Position: Did Not Chart Available on: Not Available

POP MUSIC IS A LINE, A ONE-DIMENSIONAL JOURNEY OF ELVIS TO DYLAN TO BEATLES TO SEX PISTOLS TO JOY DIVISION TO NEW ORDER TO THE SMITHS TO BLUR TO OASIS TO THE WHITE STRIPES. A relentless progression, always moving onward, rushing to the future, couple with lists that helpfully tell you that Nevermind is ten places better than What's Going On?

This is, of course, complete bobbins. And limiting. Wouldn't it be better if we thought of it as a two-dimensional plane? We could describe The Beatles as y = 2x + 1963, and plot their influences by travelling along the line, noting cross-influences by intersecting lines. And then extend it into three dimensions, creating an image from detailing all the connections for every band. Would it just be a mess of squiggles and discontinuities, or could we find a pattern, an image, a message in the chaotic noise?

And so we find ourselves, as we inevitably do, with Disco Inferno. A band that, if rendered upon our imaginary graph, would find themselves out in the distance, passing through The Art of Noise for the briefest of moments before heading out into the unknown. A band turned inside out, guitars hooked up to computers which triggered samples, resulting in a tuneful cacophony of sound, the final evolution of Spector's Wall. And here, with this EP, Disco Inferno sent back a message to the rest of music, much like the Voyager probe sending images as it flew past Pluto and out of the confines of our solar system.

Summer's Last Sound is a mash of computer-generated tones, the cries of seagulls, and depressing lyrics. Immigrants being kicked to death, the increasing price of bread, mass graves, and the desire of wanting to keep moving. The computer shimmers and shines, sounding like the sea as the gulls come in for their carrion and we fly away again to a new destination. It is settling and unsettling, nervy and calm, centred but distanced. And almost without peer.

But it's Love's Stepping Out that reveals the heart of the band, a core that clings to romance and optimism as the world crumbles around them. Love's Stepping Out is the band approaching the wall of the universe, the point when they can travel no further on our graph, they have reached the edge of the page and there is nowhere else to go. But at that edge, they can see glimpses of another world, of new dimensions, of an undiscovered beauty. And they sent it back, with something that sounds like a harp, yet is clearly not a harp, with church bells in the distance, with an otherworldly sound that could be a screech, that could be another seagull, or could just be random noise, Against this, singer Ian Crause delivers ugly lyrics; kicking, screaming, fighting, and self-obsessed. Perhaps it's the conflict between the words and music that make this song so beautiful; the music wins in the end, cooling the rage with the sounds of the new universes, the new possibilities that await us all.

This was just the first of five EPs that Disco Inferno released. They would continue to explore the far reaches of the music cosmos before tragedy struck when their equipment was stolen. They were forced to return to the centre, cursed with the knowledge of not being able to recreate their earlier glories. The centre closed in around them, sealing off the hidden knowledge, and today, they are almost erased from history, But not quite. The Internet came along and gave us hope. In the dark corners of file-sharing networks, you can find them, waiting. Waiting for you to listen.

Okay, so perhaps it was only thirty seconds...

You can all slap me when you see me next…

currently playing: Call and Response — Rollerskate

To The Occupant of Room 56

Morning AfterglowMorning Afterglow Electrasy MCA Released: September 1998 Highest UK Chart Position: 19 Available on: Beautiful Insane

Considering Britpop's rock reputation, it's a little surprising to discover that most bands had a rather alarming tendency to indulge in ballads. Electrasy were described in the UK music press as being the British answer to Beck, but there's no sign of that here. This is a straight-forward ballad, plaintive and simple, both lyrically and in the string-drenched melody. It holds a special place in my memories, but that's because of the time that it's attached to; of playing it on a Saturday morning during the September Manchester sun (yes, sometimes the clouds parted up in the North). Listening to it now, I can't quite separate the memories from the song. And this is not a good song, really. A song for lighters. A cynical stab at plucking at the heartstrings and attempting to drain emotion away from the listener. A void, a vacuum, the sound of an airlock being opened and the oxygen being sucked out into space.

Which, coincidentally enough, leads us to the b-side, Lost In Space. There's another article to be written about how Britpop extended the life of the b-side for a few more years, but that's for another time. In contrast to the lead track, this remix of an earlier single is still worth a listen; a joining of angels, spacemen, lullabies, and other nonsense.

But I can’t write any more of this review. I can’t draw up enough enthusiasm. I can’t summon the person who I was. I can’t listen to it like I did. I can’t read the music papers anymore. I can’t remember. I can’t understand. I can’t. I.


A special music day today. The first time I’ve ever posted something of mine! Yes, today, I have been using Garageband to compose this astounding cover of John Cage’s 4’33”. Prepare to be amazed!


And, a nice, Oliver Postgate-style jaunt through space, I think, for the second song of the day. Have a good Friday everyone…

Lemon JellySpacewalk

currently playing: Edwin McCain — I’ll Be

Fancy A Punt?

Summer fun in Oxford

The Art of Noise

Oh, and the Paul Morley night was great fun!

currently playing: Rachel Stevens — Some Girls

Fahrenheit 9/11

Bowling for Columbine was a film about a man struggling to find reasons for a tragedy, ultimately becoming more bewildered than when he started. Fahrenheit 911 is one note repeated over and over, a focused rage at the Bush Administration and what it has achieved in the past four years. Moore uses every trick he’s learnt from his previous documentaries, incorporating pranks, selective editing, humour, and horror. The first post-title scene is astounding; even though the footage has been seen across the world thousands of times before, he manages to find a new way of presenting the attack on New York, a way that makes the terror of that day as immediate as it was then. From then on, the film takes a rather conventional, chronological view of things, detailing the Bush family’s connections to the bin Laden family, the flights out of America when all others were grounded, Afghanistan and how consultants to US energy firms ended up running the country, how the US government raises the terror warning level seemingly at a whim, and the evils of the USA-PATRIOT Act, which was passed despite most Senators not even bothering to check its contents.

The documentary saves its biggest impact for the second half, focusing on Iraq. However, it does so by almost completely ignoring the question of whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or not (save for a few pre-September interviews with Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell). Instead, it opens with the bombing of Baghdad, the green flares of exploding bombs blasting against night-vision cameras. Then, Moore shows us the results. Women and children covered in napalm burns. Dead US soldiers burnt, dragged along the streets and then hanged from a bridge. We didn't see this. I didn't see this, when watching the news in America. We were given a clean war, a war of embedded journalists and computer-generated maps. We didn't see this.

Finally, it looks at the US military. How the soldiers started out as gung-ho, CD-playing video gamers, but ended up bitter, disillusioned, and frightened. For this section, Moore returns to Flint, Michigan, to see the effect of war on his home town, resulting in scenes that make you want to break down and also fill you with a burning rage.

You should see it. Yes, it's completely one-sided, flawed, biased, and slanted. It has to be. When you consider that up to now, the only real critical news-based look at the Bush Administration is on Comedy Central, that the White House Press Corps decided to leave most of the tough questions to Helen Thomas, and that Fox News has done as much to conflate Al-Qaeda and Iraq as President Bush, this film is the only possible response. And its box office revenues suggest that people would like to hear something other than a regurgitation of government spin. This film isn't the whole truth, but it's a challenge to our media to start doing their jobs once more.

currently playing: The Go-Go’s — Vacation

No, he hasn't forgotten about South Carolina


(um, I promise to write about something other than politics soon. Probably Friday. In the meantime, just shake your head and back away slowly)

currently playing: Electrasy — Lost In Space