Friday, 31 October 2008

Pole, Dancing

Exciting weekend coming up, between going out to see Prins Thomas at Ultragroove for Kris Wasabi's birthday and then playing records between the acts at Pole in the Voodoo Rooms on Monday.

Support on the night from Benbecula's Araya as well as dub techno trio TR-I/O-FON. I've never heard of them but if there's a phrase that gives me a warm tingly feeling just saying the fucking words it's "dub techno trio" so get there on time.

Your ticket also entitles you to go along to Pole's production workshop at 2pm in Alison House at the University of Edinburgh.

On sale in Ripping, Underground Solushun and for our wild western buddies Rub a Dub and Monorail.

Thanks to Gav for asking me to do this, I'm a big fan of Betke and his superb ~scape label.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Swoon! Drool! Ooooh! Bok! Whoo!

"Writing is inhibiting. Sighing, I sit, scribbling in ink this pidgin script. I sing with nihilistic witticism, disciplining signs with trifling gimmicks - impish hijinks which highlight stick sigils. Isn't it glib?Isn't it chic?"

This kind of thing makes me feel all gooey inside.

A sexy little updating of ideas from
George Perec and assorted other difficult French avant guardians.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. Again.

Adrian Searle gets it wrong wrong wrong in his analysis of Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller's excellent "The house of books has no windows" exhibition which has upped sticks from Edinburgh's Fruitmarket and moved close enough to London for the esteemed London art critic to bother his behind attending. There's the statutory London bashing out of the way. Lovely. I saw this exhibition in Edinburgh and have rattled on about it at length already but some of Searle's arguments are ill-construed and occasionally just plain wrong.

Firstly the Killing Machine, the “interactivity” (the installation is activated by pressing a mundane red button, like you might find on a building site) which Searle derides in an infantile manner is entirely the point. It is an effective and vivid statement about capital punishment and the public discourse in the US relating to the state sanctioned murder of wrongdoers. It is a mechanical and dehumanised process which has become disinfected of all the messy business of stoning, shooting or beheading. This antiseptic process is perfectly elucidated in Erroll Morris’ “Dr Death” in which “death systems engineer” Fred A. Leuchter shamelessly declares himself a humanitarian for speeding the passage of his charges. The cabaret/disco/entertainment elements of the piece are surely echoes of the legal/media and political circus that surrounds the death of the condemned, all distractions from the ugly clacking truth of the chair in front of us.

And on we go to the risible notion that Opera for a Small Room is less successful than a Tom Waits song. It’s a little tragic when art critics start talking about music, especially when they appropriate Waits’ vocal affectations (“He don’t need no etc…). If anything Opera… evokes the more recent work of any number of Godspeed! You Black Emperor/Silver Mount Zion projects. There’s doom, regret and isolation in the narrators voice, Waits’ world teems with humanity, his lonely songs sung when everyone’s gone home, not alone in the dark in a shed with an owl. The real treat, as in the Killing Machine, is in the clanking eccentric mechanics of the piece (in a way, this is where Bures Miller & Cardiff actually do share something with Waits)- the way that automation is used to create an unnerving post-human atmosphere in both pieces contributes to the eerie, uncanny atmosphere that both pieces but particularly Opera for a Small Room, evoke. When left to themselves the machines will find their own way to express themselves, recontextualising the work of long-disappeared humanity.

It appears that Searle didn’t even bother to go back for a second look at the Dark Pool which is packed with funny/silly/spooky little details, a tense repetition of words chopped out from books that become a declaration of love laid on a musty old jewellery box, a patented wishing machine, fractious back-and-forth arguments to be listened to through ear trumpets, scratchy radios evoking Dorothy’s deserted home after the tornado in Kansas. All of this is done from memory and it’s months since I’ve seen the work. Perhaps Searle has tasted and tested too much. Dark Pool was lovely, a bit impenetrable at first but I returned to it a number of times over the months it was at Fruitmarket such was the “purchase” it made on my imagination.

The final and most glaring oversight in Searle’s review is that he doesn’t once mention the title piece “The House of Books Has No Windows”, perhaps he walked sniffily past thinking that a big house made of books doesn’t merit the Guardian art critics attention. And that is his loss. This is the newest piece and was commissioned by the Fruitmarket and Modern Art Oxford specifically for these exhibitions! encapsulates a lot of what they’re about beyond the mechanics and the creaks. It’s a house, made of books, with no windows. I loved it, climbing inside the door was profoundly moving, an immediate, emotional experience that evokes the disappeared who once owned the books, the smell of the books triggering memories of clearing out the houses of the dead, the moldering smell of disuse, obsolescence and forgetting, the slow impassive solitary death of objects as a counterpoint to our own messy, rapid and smelly fate
. If you want quiet, undirected understatement Adrian, this is where you’d have found it. But you wanted to climb in the chair.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Frenetic Noise Splatter

Argh. Lack of updates recently due to constant onslaught of freneticism.

Caught Spencer Clark in his Vodka Soap guise at Sneaky Pete's last week with support from Heather Leigh Murray and the mighty Muscletusk.

Muscletusk were superb, a howling squealing morass of nasty and other such overburdened verb chunder. They rock. Anyway. If they play anywhere near you, you should crawl over dead bodies to go and see them. In fact, I think they'd probably love to see the street in front of the venue strewn with corpses so if they're playing in your town try to kill a few people and leave the bodies in front of the venue as an offering. Like a cat. In fact, if you are a cat you should probably go too. But if you're a cat, a fully grown human is probably going to be a bit too much for you to knock off so either get a load of your cat mates and gang up on a person (the elderly and infirm are usually an easy target, and remember, allergies can often do the work of 10 cats so try to keep it indoors), or alternatively bring a mouse, or just get your devoted owner to do the killing for you, they're great like that.

Right. Onwards.

I didn't really feel the Heather Leigh Murray piece all that much. There were some really interesting sounds, particularly when she was playing those really high notes on her pedal steel and using the harmonica but any time it seemed to be going somewhere interesting things seemed to get bogged down and not really progress all that much. This was a bit disappointing because I saw her with Tarpis Tula at ATP a few years ago and loved it but there you go. Saying this probably consigns me to some sort of gulag for a while but it kicks the fuck out of lying about it eh?

Spencer Clark is half of the Skaters and was completely and utterly fantastic and wonderful. I wasn't too familiar with the Vodka Soap stuff beforehand but it was a lovely piece with Clark playing behind a small shrine with a load of burning incense sticks sticking out of the top of it.
The piece was ritualistic, tribal, ecstatic and nicely bananas all the words that usually get trotted out by folk at these things and a lot more accessible than you might think.

Some people feel alienated by the indescribable, tiny noise/improv/out shindigs that are happening all over the shop but I generally find there's always something to enjoy, although I don't go as often as I'd like and by all accounts have missed some absolutely brilliant performances. Still, I've had some nice dinners and nights in by the fire and I wouldn't exchange them for the world.

We left just as DJ Bennetti was kicking off ItaloBlack, an Italo night that's been going every Thursday in Sneaky Petes for a few months now. The visuals, done by DJ Cassavetes were really, really good. I've been to it a few times now and really enjoy myself and indulge in bad/good dancing. More people should go.

Finally, check out the Shazzblog for a great little interview with hyperliterate zonk-monster and Pjorn-King, Fordell Research Unit.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Message to the markets...

Here's a little weekend "to do" list for any jittery stockbrokers out there.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

My love is like a Red Nord Lead.

Today is Notional Poetry Day.

I was going to celebrate this by inflicting a poem on readers.
Then I got lazy, and couldn't manage to squeeze anything out.
So, as some sort of consolation here's some poetry-related malarkey.

Don Paterson wins award with poem about Georgian electronic musician.

Colour me seriously conflicted.
I love Paterson's work.
I also love obscure electronic music.
But this entire article makes me queasy.

There are excerpts from the poem at the end of the article.
Copy & paste them into a more forgiving viewer to read them if you must.

I'm not entirely sure this is the best introduction to his work.
Get Landing Light, Gods Gift to Women, or, if poetry isn't your thing dive into the Book of Shadows and giggle wickedly to yourself late at night over too much booze.

Skittery Jittery

Thanks to Gavros for booking me to do a wee dj support slot for crackly German dub hero and ~scape records founder, Pole in the Voodoo Rooms on Monday 3rd November.

I'm a bit nervous about this because I'm not really a "DJ" dj, it's been a good 4 years since I've played in public!

Expect dub, of the -trad, -techno and -step variety along with a raft of dated electronics and disembodied grumbling.

If you're in Edinburgh come on down, it should be a belter.

Betke is giving a talk in Edinburgh University (Alison House) on the afternoon, entry included on your ticket (which you can buy from Gav at Ripping Records or the other Gav at Underground Solushn').

Proper support from Araya fresh from his great live set at the recent Benbecula label showcase.