Monday, 3 March 2008

When the cat's away...

...the mouse will go through to the Weej, buy records and go to gigs.

With the wife back in ireland this weekend I toddled across to Glasgow on Saturday for some record buying and gig going.

Started at Rub a Dub and spent a lovely hour going through a big stack of vinyl. Made some good purchases and heard probably the worst house track I've ever come across in my life. Was interested in hearing it as it's very early and thought it might be worth investigating. Enormous mistake. The years have not been kind to this forgotten slice of House history. Maybe I'm missing something here but it was disappointing.

Ended up picking up some good new stuff there and the staff at Rub A Dub are dead friendly and helpful.

New purchases include:
MLZ- Crossed Swords (Modern Love)
Nubian Minds- Africa Man EP (Delsin)
Gescom- A1/B1 (Skam)
Shackleton- Death is not final (Skull Disco)
Deep Chord- Coldest Season EP2 (Modern Love)
Dubbyman- Dubtroit EP (Deep Explorer)
nsi.-Non standard institut (Cadenza)

Pretty varied stuff there- I'm most happy with the nsi. and nubian minds releases- both are really up my street. I love the bonkers satie-esque piano sounds on the nsi.

Then it was on to Monorail where my pal wanted to pick up an import CD of Japanese Geniuses/Idiots Afrirampo. I saw them live a few years ago and they were fantastic- a really fun witty show by two absolutely amazing musicians. While I was there I found myself idly browsing through the racks and couldn't resist picking up remixes of Delia & Gavin Russom "Revelee" and the new LCD Soundsystem 12" "Confuse the marketplace". I'd promised myself I'd buy these for a while, largely for the Carl Craig remix on the former and "Hippie Priest Bum-Out" on the latter. There's a really good dubby remix of "North American Scum" on Confuse the Marketplace too. I also bought a couple of 7"s because they were conveniently located on top of the cashdesk. I can't help myself sometimes, especially on the weekend of payday and I'm off on my own with no-one to rein in my excesses.

With the record buying part of the mission over it was on to the gigs...

Started with Monade at Nice n Sleazys. This is a side project for Stereolab's Laetitia Sadlier and some of her pals. Support was from the Phantom Band. I wasn't overly impressed with the Phantom Band, they were ok but tracks meandered on trying to take in lots of ideas and influences without really going anywhere. Suggestions of Neu, Gram Parsons, David Kitt and Sunburned Hand of the Man. Which unfortunately promised more than it delivered. Maybe it was just one of those evenings and they're actually fantastic.

Monade came on around ten and played for an hour. They're not enormously different in sound and tone to the poppier end of the Stereolab spectrum. They reminded me a little of Deerhoof but loungier. Loungehoof so to speak. The deerhoof similarity comes largely from the fact that a lot of the songs feature radical time and key changes which gives a real sense of dynamism and spring to some of the songs. Everything was beautifully balanced with Marie Merlet and Sadlier harmonising sweetly along to spirals of choppy guitar and neat tones from Nicolas Etienne's keys. The last few numbers, from new album Monstre Cosmic were really good despite the crowd seeming quite distracted. You hear a lot of guff about Glasgow crowds being more up for it than boring old tweedy Edinburgh. Tonight wasn't one of those nights with people standing around chatting rather than really engaging with the band at all which was a pity, because Monade are a fantastic grown-up dreamy pop band that doesn't need to hide behind sexy design and arch theatricality.

Then it was off to the Art School for Numbers birthday party and Autechre in all their live glory. I'm an Autechre nerd and have been throughout their many incarnations so i was very excited about this. A charge often levelled at Booth and Brown is that their music is too "cerebral"- I've always taken issue with this, yes the later records from LP5 through to Untilted have been quite process-heavy and contain tracks that require repeated listens to unpick their secrets but Autechre in concert have always been an exhilarating and eminently danceable prospect.

SND started the night off and were diverting for a while. I prefer the whole glitchy thing on record a lot more than i do live. Although I did have a bit of a boogie to a couple of the more funky electro moments. Then we were treated to Skam head honcho Rob Hall lashing out a scatter of clatter which seemed to warm up the crowd a little. There was little of Glasgow's fabled ambience here either- although I did meet one cheeky wee west coast headcase who was completely out of his knackers with his t-shirt tied around his head well before midnight. I love these guys. Particularly at gigs like this where everyone's got their big serious faces on.

By the time Autechre came on the room was pretty full but strangely there wasn't a huge amount of movement from the crowd with the majority of people content to just stand about. This is surprising because straight from the outset Autechre seemed determined to get people dancing. The hour and a half live show used much of the source material from Quaristice but put it through the distinctive Autechre live blender- everything is slightly hectic, twitchy but still distinctively rhythmic. We were even treated to a rare suggestion of humanity with actual human voices breaking through the clattering storm of breakbeats on Quaristice's "IO". What a bunch of sellouts! The insistence amongst critics of Autechre's post-Tri repetae material that it's too cerebral but in the live arena Autechre completely destroy this notion- on this tour it appears they're casting off the mythical stereotypes of them as unsmiling mad-professors running their equipment for days and inventing their own software to generate the music from nothing. This is Autechre in more relaxed form and enjoying the live environment- to which their music is better suited than people seem to assume.
This was what they did from the outset; the material has always approprated elements of dance music before scrambling it out of shape then pulling it all back together again. Live versions of "Perlence", the dark digital hip-hop of "Rale" and particularly the chiming musicbox chords of "Simmm" from the new album have echoes of older material like Envane, Cichlisuite and Chiastic Slide. It's interesting that Autechre critics who decried their move away from the original sound are now the ones who are down on the new albums conservatism. Basically Autechre are caught between a rock and a hard place, unable to make all their fans happy all the time and therefore deciding to please themselves. Listening to them tear their way through a rumbling version of the dubby "90101 51 1" you'd need a heart of stone not to smile and get that ass bouncing. (Update: There was an interview with Autechre on the (gawk)Today Programme which covered their gig at a car park in London. A lot of overintellectualising from the journos but the punters seem to have enjoyed themselves. Still, at least the Beeb journalists made an attempt to engage with the music unlike Dave Simpson's mean spirited Guardian gripes.)

Following on from a discussion about men and women dancing in clubs over at House is a Feeling I was inspired to make a random headcount of the split. The stereotype does have some basis in reality as there was a hefty 70:30 split in favour of the boys. I have extensive data on the ubiquity of square spectacles and architectural t-shirts that are available on request. Despite conforming to all the sneering demographic stereotypes about an IDM/Glitch night by the time Autechre had hit their stride there were at least some people (of both sexes) interested in getting down. In fact, the area in front of the stage the split was down to about 50:50. Unscientific it may be but it seems the dancefloor, heady as it may have been was where the majority of the ladies appeared to be. What does this mean, probably that women would prefer to dance in a club than sit around trying to figure out how the music is being made.

It's been 16 years since I'd first seen Laetitia Sadlier and 12 since I first saw Autechre. Time passes so quickly! Both Autechre and Sadlier have been around a while and amassed a phenomenal body of work, it's encouraging to discover that neither seem to be stepping off the gas in terms of developing new ideas and new ways of working.

Then Rob Hall was back on with more clattering acid before a brief stop off in the bar for an ill-advised last pint and a bit of a boogie to the Castaways "Liar Liar" before taking to the insanely windy streets of Glasgow.

I am now looking down the barrel of a very lean month during which i will eat nothing Spaghetti Hoops on toast.


John Braine said...

You might like a new release by a chap called Dave Anderson.

Thought I'd mention it seeing as you guys have done the opposite lcoation-wise and he's from Embra but living in Dublin now.

clom said...

Cheers john,

I always like to support my postcode!