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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

My 20 best gigs of 2017

My legions of readers know what to expect. Little nuggets of musical wisdom wrapped up in oh-so-interesting mini-reviews from your trusted correspondent. (Past episodes of the riveting Niluccio on noise end-of-year gig review are also available here, here, here, here, here, here and ... er, here).

But, you may wonder, what's the rush? Why am I bothering you with my idiotic list when there's still nearly three weeks to go before the end of the year? Good question. But the fact is, I've written the bloody thing now and I can't be bothered to wait around. So apologies to all those great musicians playing between now and 1/1/18. It's desperately unfair, but you're not in ...

Pale Kids: JT Soar, Nottingham, 30 January
Infectious stuff from Pale Kids, who are currently a band I try to catch whenever possible.  Winsome vocals, nice guitar lines and pleasantly juddering percussion. Also, good lyrics, eg: "Will I die quick? / Will I like it?" (Well, there's only one way to find out ...). Other gigs of theirs I dragged my tired carcass along to during 2017 included a matinée where gaggles of six-year-olds ran riot, and another at which their drummer sported a Taylor Swift t-shirt done as a Crass logo. Does Ms Swift owe us a living? Course she does, course she does ...

Pale Kids: doing it for t' kids, some aged six

Witching Waves: Sound Savers, London, 19 February
One of two Witching Waves gigs that cast a slight spell on me this year. I described them to a former work colleague who I bumped into at this gig as "thuggish", which isn't true at all! Instead, WW just have a (pleasing) sort of faux-punk belligerence to their vocal delivery. The guitarist-vocalist likes to stride about as he bashes on his guitar, while the drummer-vocalist provides some super-taut rhythms. I particularly liked a song called (I think) Disintegration.

Rattle/Neurotic Fiction: JT Soar, Nottingham, 12 March
Another good JT Soar gig! Rattle were a hyper-intense two-drum combo working up some tense rhythms that built and built, while also er, unbuilding and unbuilding. It was, as they say, exhausting to watch, but also fairly exhilarating. Neurotic Fiction were another story: a short set of controlled shoutiness, intricate lead guitar (echoes of Felt), and a cover of the Diodes' Tired Of Waking Up Tired. All very enjoyable.

Moon Balloon: Old Blue Last, London, 27 March
An interesting band. Quite measured, a fair few tempo changes, chiming guitars, hints of funk. There were times when they sounded like the Talking Heads or Pete & The Pirates from about 2005. They probably get described as "chamber pop" by some critics, but they're much better than that sounds. Lunar-tastic.

Death Pedals: Shacklewell Arms, London, 1 April 
About the second or third time I'd seen these. As befitting loud (as in LOUD) noise rockers, they charged into most of their songs with real intensity, while also incorporating nice bass/drum builds layered with shards of guitar to vary the feel. Despite it being a rather jinxed gig - including a dead vocal mic and a bass amp that seemed to have a special "malfunction" setting - the Pedals pushed on uncomplainingly. What troopers!

Schande/Giant Burger Band: Flashback Records, London, 7 April
Urgent-ish punk-pop stuff from Schande, as described in my best gigs of 2016 blog (yeah, two-times winners!). On this occasion there was a bit where they reminded me of the Feelies. GBB, playing their last-ever gig, did their shouty, frantic quirk-pop thing (shades of Spizz believe it or not) interspersed with their trademark awkward between-song announcements. Meanwhile, spotted in the crowd: a baby with oversized headphones. The audiences at gigs really are getting younger ...

Black Mekon: Shacklewell Arms, London, 22 April
A veritable blues explosion! Genuinely incendiary rock 'n' roll, with echoes of the Cramps, the Birthday Party and a hundred other blues exploders. Not only were this three-piece wearing carnival-style opera masks, they strutted about in that bandy-leg-quivering way that Elvis popularised. Yes, it was that sort of gig. The singer also used a mouth organ on a few tracks for extra bluesman credibility. Excellent throughout, especially the way it avoided showbiz and kept it determinedly serious.

A night at the opera with Black Mekon

Anna McLellan: Silent Barn, New York, 7 May
Compelling and beautiful stuff from the cracked-voice McLellan. Slow-paced, keyboard-led, fractured pop songs in the vein of people like Told Slant or maybe Two Steps On The Water. Bass and drum accompaniment lending it some weight and drive. Kind of emo for fans of the piano. Meanwhile, I can hear the detractors saying "But she can't even sing!" To which I say: "But you can't even recognise good music when you hear it, you idiot!"

Anna McLellan

Ski Saigon: Paper Dress Vintage, London, 5 June
It's Ski Monday, with Ski Saigon! Indie-rock types who dared to be slow-to-mid-tempo. They threw in some bright guitar motifs and stuck to a muted vocal palette reminiscent of early-80s Robert Smith. That said, there were groovy rhythms at work, with some nagging drums-guitar riffs. Whoosh!

The Rebel: Windmill, London, 7, 14, 21 and 28 June
So good I saw him four times in a month: yeah, The Rebel, a legend in his mum's front sitting room. Surreal rants, programmed beats, discordant keyboard noise, nagging country-blues guitar, all-round miserablist drone: what more could you want? If you don't like Mr Wallers' foghorn delivery and barbed misanthropy that's probably because er, "you find the avant-garde / A bit too hard". More on The Rebel here. Also good at these gigs: No Friendz (as below), Flame Proof Moth and Saul Adamczewski.

No Friendz: Windmill, London, 7 June
A very entertaining little blast from No Friendz, with their singer doing a kind of glam-punk routine and the band bashing out songs about seeing Shonen Knife ("it was out of sight") and er, about not having any friends. I particularly liked a sour country-ish song about marital discord ("It's run its course / I wanna divorce") which produced one of the best on-stage quips of my gigging year: "Put your hands in the air if you want a divorce". I put up both hands.

He's got absolutely no friends

The Wharves: Shacklewell Arms, London, 11 August

Third time lucky! Having had them cancel on me at two earlier attempts (it's all about me ...), I finally managed to get to see the elusive Wharves. Was it worth it? Yep. This seemingly fairly conventional trio (drums/guitar/bass) had some really beautiful harmonics (more or less of Stereolab quality) that took this gig into sonic realms unexplored by most indie-rock. Some nice guitar lines as well. The Wharves: worth mooring your boat to.

Sugar Rush: Flashback Records, London, 17 August
Almost certainly the most middle-class gig I went to in 2017, this queer-pop bash had a cutesy, politely-spoken audience, some confessional sexual identity announcements from the drummer, a decent amount of lo-fi-ish guitar/bass/drums sounds, and an all-round emo feel. Let's just say: it wasn't black metal. My favourite part was when the guitarist did a bit of impassioned high-pitched off-mic singing - beautiful and moving like early Herman Düne often were.

Hamer/Sleep Terminal: The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield, 15 September
Punk hammer blows from Hamer! A high-intensity punkoid blast from a three-piece fronted by someone looking like a slightly-off-his-head rock dude who'd accidentally found himself in a punk band. Kinda great. Meanwhile, Sleep Terminal were trying to see how much reverb they could add before becoming totally lost in music. The singer-guitarist, shouting into a low-tech mic and slashing away at his guitar, fought a valiant and sometimes frenzied battle with the sonic murk before eventually conceding defeat. And so to bed, children ...

Sleep Terminal awake from the dead

Nervous Conditions: Windmill, London, 18 October

Yes, they do indeed like to induce exactly these feelings - er, nervous conditions - in the audiences. Mostly by subjecting them to one-and-a-half hours of double-drums percussion, sax squeals, guitar-keyboard drones and agitated caterwauling. It went on for far, far too long, but - undeniably - Nervous Conditions brought us some moments of nerve-racking intensity.

Night Shades: Shacklewell Arms, London, 27 October
Twangy, surfy stuff from a crew fetchingly decked out in zombie-ghoul face-paint. More cartoon horror than full-on Cramps/Birthday Party depravity, but pretty entertaining nonetheless. And some slow instrumentals provided a nice counterpoint. In particular, I liked the way the drummer bashed away even when the hood of his monk's cowl was completely obscuring his face (drummer-monk just visible in the photo background). Monk-tastic.

Night Shades: a more ghoulish shade of pale

Spang Sisters: Old Blue Last, London, 30 October
Going faster miles an hour! Yeah, the Spang Sisters had stolen Jonathan Richman's Corvette and we're cruising along the interstate. The interstate, that is, between early-70s Modern Lovers drone-rock and present-day rebuilds. Actually, I only caught two songs at this gig but one was a very strung-out version of Pablo Picasso which was worth the *price of admission alone. (*OK, the gig was free, but er ... I'm in love with the modern world ...).

No-one ever called the Spang Sisters assholes 

Chupa Cabra: Windmill, London, 20 November
Entertaining garage sounds that zoomed in and out eras (1977, 1991, 2015, you couldn't keep up!), while sometimes coming across a bit like The Jam during their amphetamine-crunching punk period. (Actually, that was probably just the singer's passing resemblance to Paul Weller). No, difficult to pin down. They had quite a bit of psyched-up blues-rock stuff, but it was all laced with some kind of raw-voiced punk attitude. Excellent.

Gilly Greiner/John Brocklesby: Centrala, Birmingham, 26 November
Two rather affecting singer-guitar merchants. Gilly Greiner, who had a disturbingly bashed-up-looking face, sang (and semi-toasted) through three songs, including a particularly nice one about cowboys. A rich, warm voice and a pleasingly low-key manner ("That's enough of that rubbish"). John Brocklesby was a cool, 50-something dude, who played his quota of Van Morrison-like songs with composed seriousness.

Gilly Greiner

Cold Boys: Flashback Records, London, 8 December

A freezing cold night in Bethnal Green, chilled indie-rock sounds in a record shop basement. Cold Boys had a relaxed vibe, opening their set with ... a slow instrumental. But there was a sinewy toughness to their sound in places as well. Good guitar lines, nagging drums, restrained vocals. (I also had them in my top 20 last year. There. Consistency). They were giving out copies of a 7" single at this gig, the only outfit to do such a thing at any of the 50-odd music bashes I went to in 2017. I'll admit it, reader. I nabbed one.

And that's it, dear friends. Another year of gigs gone by, another year closer to the grave. Cheerio ...

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A bit too doctrinaire, Podcast #148 (Nov 2017)

Let's get one thing straight. There's only good music and bad music, right? Right? Well, there's only what I deem - in my infinite wisdom - to be good music and the er, non-good stuff.

Yes it's subjective (my good is your extremely bad etc), but I think we should still stick to this basic division. Because otherwise we end up with that offence against nature - awful music listened to "ironically". It becomes an exercise in kitsch. Stick on some Wham and whoop (ironically). Ditto Billy Joel, Abba, Dolly Parton, Phil Collins, the list is endless ...

It's been fairly "cool" to do this for years. It's probably always been so down the years - just it would have been even older stuff that was then being "recuperated". Give it a little dusting down and place it in a new setting. Then laugh at it. All very knowing, but pointless ...

No, call me overly-rigid (many have), but I don't approve of this. It's as mindless as watching "junk" TV for "a laugh" (some laugh). There's more than enough good - extremely good - music out there to make even a moment spent revelling in kitsch, a moment wasted. Thus spake the mighty Niluccio on noise. Or, is this a bit too doctrinaire ...?

1: Sangam, This pain feels the same
2: A bit too doctrinaire
3: Trust Punks, Leaving room for the lord
4: Geodetic, X
5: Gilly Greiner, ? (Centrala, Birmingham, 26/11/17)
6: The Twinkle Brothers, Never get burn
7: L.O.T.I.O.N., Fukushima fallout
8: Lab Coast, Bored again
9: HVAC, Intro
10: Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, Yama
11: Shudder Pulps, Kicker
12: Goner, YS 2 (edit)
13: Wild Billy Childish & The Friends Of The Buff Medway Fanciers Association, You are all phonies
14: Eugeniusz Rudnik, Guillotine DG
15: Chupa Cabra, King Lee (Windmill, London, 10/11/17)
16: Adem, Statued
17: Matti Bye, Forest in the sea
18: The Shitty Limits, Last orders
19: Scorn, Days passed
20: Prince Hammer, Bible
21: Glue, Testimony
22: Bee Bee Sea, Chum on the drum
23: Irma Vep, It runs slow

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Intoxicated by the singing

"All the men would become intoxicated by the singing, almost unconscious in fact, and they seemed to be breathing and feeling as one person as they glanced at the Cossack. When he sang he was acknowledged lord of the workshop, and all the men were irresistibly drawn towards him and followed the broad sweeping movements of his arms which he flung out as though he were about to fly. I was sure that if he suddenly stopped singing and shouted 'Smash everything up' then everyone, even the most serious craftsmen, would have smashed the whole workshop to smithereens in a few minutes.

"He sang rarely, but his rousing songs had an irresistible, triumphant power. However depressed people were he would lift them up and stir their passions. Everyone became alert, acquired a new strength, a burning enthusiasm, when he sang.

"These songs filled me with a deep feeling of envy towards the singer and his wonderful power over people. Something painfully disturbing  flowed into my heart, making it swell until it began to hurt. I felt like crying and wanted to shout out to all those singing people: 'I love you all!' ...".

- Maxim Gorky, My Apprenticeship

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Terrible heart-rending sounds ...

"In spite of the cruel frost, mendicant friars with bared heads, some bald as ripe pumpkins, some fringed with sparse orange-coloured hair, were already sitting cross-legged in a row along the stone-flagged pathway leading to the main entrance of the old belfry of St Sophia and were chanting in a nasal whine.

"Blind ballad-singers droned their eerie song about the Last Judgment, their tattered peaked caps lying upwards to catch the sparse harvest of greasy roubles and battered coppers.

"Oh, that day, that dreadful day, 
"When the end of the world will come.
"The judgment day ...

"The terrible heart-rending sounds floated up from the crunching, frosty ground, wrenched whining from those yellow-toothed old instruments with their palsied, crooked limbs ..." 

- Mikhail Bulgakov, The White Guard

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Very depressing and alarming, Podcast #147 (Oct 2017)

If I was trying to project an air of cutting-edge excitement with this tired old music blog, I'd probably start aping the promo style of the shops around where I live. These days half of them put noticeboards out on the street with clever-clever messages. Cutesy stuff about Mondays and muffins. How coffee is more important than life. Pseudo-motivational clap-trap with an ironic twist. Because the shop/cafe/whatever is ... hip. They're not even really a shop or a cafe at all - more a lifestyle "choice", but one where you can incidentally buy overpriced and badly-made espresso, or overpriced and er, badly-brewed jeans.

And, best of all, when these boutique-y places relocate, they even put up another sign saying something like "We're moving, but to follow the story - go to this website". The story! Of their idiotic shop!

So, if you're still following the never-ending story of Niluccio on noise's podcast you'll know it's time for number 147 in the series (only 853 to go). Like all the others, it's very depressing and alarming ...

1: Brain Rays, Zombie Ken
2: Os Drongos, Werewolf
3: J.Holland & J.Hamilton & Kasair Allstars, Nyeka nyeka
4: High Sunn, Would you be my demon
5: Anne-James Chaton, Pop is dead
6: Fluke, Atomic bomb
7: Matti Bye, Forest in the sea
8: Night Shades, ? (Shacklewell Arms, London 27/10/17)
9: Roy Noble & The New Mayfair Orchestra, Repeal the blues
10: Blank Dogs, Heat & depression
11: J-1792, 1792
12: Congresswoman Malinda Jackson Parker, Cousin mosquito #1
13: KidNNasty, Don’t knead drugs
14: Very depressing and alarming
15: Country Joe & The Fish, Crystal blues
16: Marcus Schmickler, Discordance axis
17: Ewan MacColl, The four loom weaver
18: Oh well, Goodbye, Fucking flowers
19: King Scratch, Christmas time in Nassau
20: Tapes And Tubes, Sun:moon:stars
21: Pussycat & the Dirty Johnsons, Midnight motorway
22: Nicolas Jaar, Space is only noise if you can see
23: Bingo Gazingo & My Robot Friend, You’re out of the computer

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Lead sing motor

I hate jazz, Podcast #1 (Nov 2017)

Scurrilous rumours are circulating about me. People are whispering behind my back. I go into a room and people fall quiet. They look at each other meaningfully and quickly leave the room.

I know what's going on. Someone's let it slip. They're all saying "He doesn't like jazz". Me! Niluccio! They're saying I don't like jazz. It's unbelievable. A slur beyond any imagining. In fact, I've even heard that I'm supposed to have said "I hate jazz!" HATE. Can you believe it? So with my musical reputation apparently now in absolute tatters, there's only one thing for it. Yep, a new compilation. It's called I hate jazz ....

1: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Freaks for the festival
2: Mingus Three, Summertime
3: Thelonious Monk, In walked Bud
4: Billie Holiday, I wished on the moon
5: Sun Ra & Solar-Myth Arkestra, They'll come back
6: More prisons, more police
7: Turner Parrish, Fives
8: Bessie Smith & Her Band, Gimme a pigfoot
9: Edmond Hall's Jazzmen, Night shift blues
10: Tommy Dorsey, Symphony in riffs
11: Rosco Gordon, Just in from Texas
12: Intermission
13: Campbell Burnap, St Thomas
14: Sonny Rollins Quartet, When your lover has gone
15: Miles Davis, Dear old Stockholm
16: Harold Land, Swingin' on Savoy
17: Ornette Coleman, Compassion
18: End of our rainbow
19: Count Ossie, Run one mile

Friday, 27 October 2017

Making a spectacle of himself

One from the (recent) archive, as shared on miserable old Facebook at the time - singer/screamer from the excellent Sleep Terminal making a complete spectacle of himself at The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield, 15/9/17.

You're the problem, Noisepod #13 (Sept 2017)

More laggard behaviour. Not content with posting my rather marvellous September podcast in October, I'm only now putting up my September Noisepod (you know, the er, especially noisy podcast I also bore people with every few months).

Yes, I'm getting further and further behind. Falling off the pace (not that I was ever on it). But never mind, if I go slowly enough I'll eventually be back in synch again. A bit like my gloriously out of date, out of time music. It's old and boring now, but just you wait.

And if you don't appreciate what I'm saying here - then you're the problem, not me ...

1: The Abominable Ski-Mask, Where's the beef?
2: Part Chimp, MapoLeon
3: Negative Rage, Sensitive city vol2
4: Defeat, Violated peace
5: Users, Sick of you
6: Your suit for next summer
7: (New England) Patriots, Like a rope
8: Birthday Party, Figure of fun
9: False Light, God in a cage
10: Old Lines, Temple
11: Many of you will remember
12: AFX, Analogue bubblebath
13: Uglyglow, Women can't breath
14: Dead Badgers, Angular
15: Crass, Crutch of society
16: Toska, HIPPA laws
17: Refusal to intervene
18: Slowcoaches, Ex head
19: Listen Up!, Squeeze play
20: Integrity, There is a sign
21: Pisse, Aremes schwein
22: You may scream
23: Eskro, Hitos de guerra
24: Woven Bones, Creepy bone
25: Tape Monster, Cyborg sound
26: X-Ray Spex, Let's submerge
27: Suicide Generation, Love is hate
28: Soda Boys, Soda and fries
29: That wouldn't surprise me
30: Flat Sucks, Haijin-seizo system
31: Death, Freakin' lut
32: Pick Your Side, Not a thought to spare
33: Maukka Perusjätkä, Säpinää
34: Crimen, Tu eres el pedo fiero

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Live in infamy, Podcast #146 (Sept 2017)

Yeah, yeah, it's not September. What am I on about? Posting some out-of-date podcast three weeks after the fact?

Well, I've had internet problem, ain't I? Bloody TalkTalk (aka, All TalkTalk And No ActionAction Whatsoever, Except To Threaten You With Extra Charges If You Dare To Leave Them Despite Their So-called Internet Service Being Absolutely Appalling ...). They should put that slogan on their mailings.

Ahem. Anyway, without further ado, I bring you [roll of the drum-machine drum ...] Podcast #146. It's what you almost certainly haven't been waiting for. It's chock-full of sounds which will put your teeth on edge and sour your current good mood. At least, that's the plan. Yes, though it's literally had no listeners whatsoever (discounting er, me) at the time of posting, it's already a Niluccio on noise podcast classic. It will, as they say, live in infamy.

1: Gregoire Fiaux, Kaip tapti milijonierumi
2: What do you do with your old clothes?
3: Mean Motor Scooter, Sam, the homosapien
4: Nctrnm, Workdaze
5: Count Love, Pretty big mouth
6: Gas Station Of Love, Pepp pizza
7: Hamer, ? (The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield, 15/9/17)
8: Actress, Rap
9: L. Valerie, Apartment F#
10: Nicodemus, Bone connection
11: A date that will live in infamy
12: Ye Olde Maids, Cocoa cherubs
13: Sleep Terminal, ? (The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield, 15/9/17)
14: Malcolm Middleton & David Shrigley, Help
15: Accelerator, Accelerator 3
16: Electric Sewer Age, Bad white corpuscle
17: ESG, Erase you (puppy to your side)
18: Zola Jesus, Night
19: City Yelps, ? (The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield, 15/9/17)
20: J Fella, Stayed around
21: Luddite, To dissolve
22: Teaspoon & The Waves, Oh yeh Soweto

Saturday, 23 September 2017

What ya gonna do when the novelty has gone? New Order's plastic ruler

As I was rummaging around in a drawer containing my exquisite collection of finest-quality stationery today, you’ll never guess what I came upon? Give up? Well, it was this …

 .. yes, straight up! (Ahem). Anyway, I'd forgotten I had this. Along with a PiL "Can" thing and a PiL "Mug" cup (from their Album promo splurge), it dates from my time working in a record shop in the mid-80s. Sharkish record reps would bestow them on gullible retail slaves like me thinking I'd order in lots of not-very-sellable product for the HMV singles counter. (Don't think I usually did though).

But what the hell is it? Apart from - obviously enough - being a stupid promotional plastic ruler (“Twelve inches of New Order”) that Factory Records knocked up to promote the Substance singles compilation in 1987, it's also part of Factory's self-referential - and slightly tedious - catalogue empire. FAC #203. Impressed? I think you're supposed to be.

If one were so inclined, I think you could do a whole "deconstructionist" number on this ruler. Reflecting on how its er, straight-edge anti-frivolous seriousness supposedly "mocks" more traditional music merchandise (sew-on/lapel badges, stickers, etc). The fact it's a ruler might be taken as a suggestion not just of the famed “austerity” of much of Factory's music, but also of the studious non-music realms of mathematics, architecture and design - fields the Factory aesthetic liked to play around with. But it's all a pose really. Clean, transparent plastic sits nicely with the look of Factory stuff at this time and people like me (aged 23) would have snaffled it up quite unembarrassedly, but in the end it's just a rather clunky (over-thick) ruler with a not-too-subtle message about the fact that your favourite Manchester doom-pop band has a decent back-catalogue of singles.

But merch is merch is merch, right? So I see people are these days paying over £100 on eBay to acquire this little piece of plastic. People, please. It's a ruler! A ruler. (By the way, if anyone else is trying to sell one of these on a popular online auction site, I strongly suggest they use these lines as part of their sales pitch: So what ya gonna do when the novelty has gone? / Yeah, what ya gonna do when the novelty has gone? There. They can have that idea for free).

By 1987 a grandiose Factory had sort of lost the plot if you ask me. Madchester seemed to be going to everyone's heads. Queues, air-horns, drugs and unapologetic consumerism were cool, and meanwhile almost anything was being given a FAC catalogue number - Hacienda House wines (geddit?), Factory notepaper, a G-MEX after-party, a Happy Mondays video shoot, Tony Wilson's nasal mucus (FAC #227.5; er, not really). Perhaps they should have just given up on those boring old records altogether and opened a massive souvenir shop or something …

No, looking back, things like this promo ruler are a bit of an embarrassment. Aside from the excellent nightclub (which hosted music), Factory was good because of the music. I appreciate that Saville's designs were an integral part of Factory's output, but I think it ends up looking ridiculous when design energy is expended on promotional fripperies like a ruler.

Anyway, as it happens my ruler (unlike my New Order records) is scratched. However hard I might try to flog it, I fear it's not going to get much on the open market. Sadly, I’ll have to abandon plans to sell it and invest the proceeds in a property empire. Furthermore, as this next photo rather suggests …

… the neither-very-durable-or-beautiful nature of the “Twelve inches of New Order” ruler means it only actually looks any good when held against something pleasant to look at - like wood. And indeed a terminally unfashionable-looking old wooden ruler I also found in my stationery drawer today is actually a far nicer artefact than the worth-one-hundred-quid-and-counting product from the glory days of Wilson/Saville associates.

Meanwhile, having had a quick riffle though the index of Peter Hook’s Substance tome just now, I could find no entry for … a ruler. Rightly enough, I suspect Mr Hook would rather play bass than mess around with bits of souvenir stationery.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Tablets of Linear B, Dubpod #19 (Sept 2017)

I'm just back from my local Japanese restaurant where, among the nigiri, sushi and green tea, there was ... reggae. Sort of. Definitely some dub, burbling faintly away beneath the middle-class chit chat. Oh yes. Dub can be the polite cosmopolitan everywhere sound.

You know it, right? But, for all that it can sometimes seem like the perfect muzak for over-cosseted millennials, it's nothing of the sort. Turn up the volume and you soon hear why. Bass, bone-juddering shards of reverb, lyrics about poverty and Zion - it's not exactly the sound of car adverts or the supermarket aisles. In fact, it's quite another reality. Especially when you listen to the tablets of Linear B  ...

1: Glen Brown/King Tubby, Version 78 style
2: Cedric 'Im' Brooks, Full time
3: Sons Of Light, Land of love
4: Lee Scratch Perry & Zap-Pow, Riverstone
5: Augustus Pablo, Thunder clap
6: Actual word in question
7: Burning Spear, Marcus Garvey
8: Tommy McCook, KT88
9: Dobby All Stars, Babylon dub
10: Dr Alimantado, Best dressed chicken in town
11: Young Dillinger, Boloman skank
12: Pyramid of DOOOOM
13: Wayne Wade, Lord of lord
14: Ranking Toyan, How the west was won
15: Johnny Osbourne, Fally ranking
16: The Saints, Sleeping trees
17: Count Ossie & The Zion All Stars, Holy Mount Zion
18: Tablets of Linear B
19: Yabby You & Trinity, Free Africa 12" mix
20: Bagel Project, Olodo
21: The Slits, FM
22: Larry White & Daddy Marcus, See them coming dub
23: King Tubby & Lee Perry, Right yo dub
24: Delta 5, Mind your own business
25: Black Uhuru, Puffed out
26: Dennis Brown, Johnny too bad

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Single infinitesimal thing, Podcast #145

As we all know, music for some people is basically an excuse for a little nostalgia.

And I mean a little. It's hardly Proustian reverie, this ultra-trivial "oh, this takes me back" use of music. Shouting out a few lines from a truly awful chart hit from 20 or 30 years ago. Saying something about how it used to be the "soundtrack" to when your were revising for your exams/going out with your first boyfriend/having a beloved dog anaesthetised (er, maybe not this one).

Yeah, it's music as a superficial marker for your deeply boring life. But I say no. NO! No more of this. Music isn't the bloody soundtrack. It IS your life. For fuck's sake. Everything else is the background. Or it would be in any well-ordered universe.

So, here's some more Niluccio on noise music. Music as an antidote to nostalgia (or possibly music to provoke a certain kind of anti-nostalgia, nostalgia for an age yet to come). And in this 78 minutes of wonder-inducing noise, there's not a single infinitesimal thing that will make you hunger for the past ...

1: Alessandro Cortini, Perdonare
2: Gilman Mom, You smell really good
3: Red Guitars, Marimba jive (extended survival mix)
4: Running away from the police
5: Sugar Rush, ? (Flashback Records, London 17/8/17)
6: Ant The Symbol, The rooftop
7: 2.5 Children, Children of the disobedient
8: Honkies, ? (Old Blue Last, London 27/7/17)
9: Long and arduous course
10: Uglyglow, Sweet taste of betrayal
11: I know the law
12: General Echo & Barrington Levy, Eventide fire a disaster
13: Love Handlers, Delusions of grandeur
14: New Routines Every Day, Maybe those who were here before
15: Your personal relations
16: Plastic Crimewave Sound, You blew it
17: Magnétophone, And may your last words be a chance to make things better
18: WD Amaradeva, Wikasitha pem pokuru piyum
19: Social Contract, ? (Old Blue Last, London 25/7/17)
20: Noiserv, Perkaholic
21: Terry & Gerry, Reservation
22: UMFANG, Weight
23: Single infinitesimal thing
24: Vapourspace, Theme from vapourspace

Thursday, 3 August 2017

My condition makes me me, Podcast #144 (July 2017)

So I gather that there are all these new music bloggers and smart-alec writers for the music press (well, what passes for the music press online these days). And they're all writing about the latest releases (well, the ones they got sent as promo copies for review purposes). And, shockingly, they haven't got time for my music blog or the marvellous music I showcase here.

Sad isn't it? Terrible, really. Actually, I suspect that they're even sniggering about Niluccio on noise. Laughing about its quaint design. Its rather ordinary name. Its not-exactly-fashionable attachment to er, well whatever it is I'm attached to. Yeah, they think Niluccio on noise is old hat. Worthless. But ... fuck 'em. As Albert Chevalier rightly says, they can' take a roise out of oi just because oi likes what oi likes. After all, I am who I am because of the music I like. And I like the music I like because of the person I am. (Are you following all this?). Er yes, you could say my condition makes me me ...

1: J.D. KrYsTal, Binary break
2: A life of risk
3: Faux Départ, TV panique
4: Million Brazilians, New ideas in psychic music [extract]
5: Albert Chevalier, ‘E can’t take a roise out of oi
6: FX Projeht, Warface
7: Suicide Generation, Set me on fire
8: Keosz, Crush them
9: Cherry Forever, Spook
10: Abishai, The punishment of sin
11: Stéphane Grappelli, Peanut vendor
12: Jermz, Power cut
13: Charmpit, All u fascists bound 2 lose
14: Dead Gakkahs, Paradox over paradox
15: Osiris Saline, Melancholy
16: Ranking Joe, River Jordan
17: ßänales, Mood
18: My condition makes me me
19: Technical Ecstacy, Look me in the eye
21: Lucia Pamela, Walking on the moon
22: Crimen, Dia soleado
23: The Golden Dregs, Role of a lifetime
24: Mingus Three, Summertime
25: Wesley Willis, Rock and roll McDonald’s

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Conservative brand, Podcast #143 (June 2017)

It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it ... isn't that the truth? So never mind that I'm just a piddling music blogger with a minuscule (non-existent?) following and a possibly even smaller reputation in the music blogosphere. Because .. er, I'm doing it all very stylishly. Or with "love". Or with superb wit. (Or maybe none of these things). But, well, I guess I am at least doing it. Churning out these wondrous podcasts, that is. And generally sharing my wayward thoughts on music, on noise, on noisy music ...

Actually though, after more than a decade of those podcasts (OK, just CDRs originally) and a fair few years of the music blog, maybe it's time to knuckle down and get serious. I need to develop a recognisable product. A style. Develop and market a clever little niche. No more of this mixing things up. No-one's ever going to like the Niluccio on noise blog if I keep doing that. So no more pretentious eclecticism from here on in. Just one thing and one thing only. It'll be a wholly new Niluccio on noise blog. The Conservative brand ...

1: AGF + Werkstatt, Ninjaness
2: N3rgul, Radio free wasteland
3: Eilert Pilarm, Jailhouse rock
4: Saul Adamczewski, The garden of the numb (Windmill, London 21/6/17)
5: Flying Species, Electric zygoptera part II
6: Clint Eastwood & General Saint, Tribute to General Echo
7: DJ Marcelle/Another Nice Mess, Too long (too short dub)
8: Ski Saigon, Sweet dreams in the botanics (Paper Dress, London 5/6/17)
9: Art Phag, Touch me
10: O.L.M., Daniel in the lion’s den
11: The purse strings
12: Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Hungarian rhapsody No2 in C minor (Liszt) [extract]
13: A Trillion Barnacle Lapse, Fountain
14: T H R E E, Through dust and bubbles surrounding
15: No Friendz, I wanna divorce (Windmill, London 7/6/17)
16: Batfinks, Certain death
17: Prefects, Going through the motions
18: Todd W Emmert, Hexed
19: LTO, Partners
20: Malani Bulathsinhala, Senehasa illa
21: The Conservative brand
22: Red Harvest, Feeling young
23: Rasalasad, Artificial land

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Rebel seeks to take up residency in Downing Street

Watch out, The Rebel is in residence! Yes, Ben Wallers kindly gave up his Wednesday evenings throughout the month of June to bring his particular brand of misanthropic country-drone to The Windmill in Brixton. How nice.

But no, I’m not going to wax lyrical about Mr Rebel’s mutant-country sounds. They kind of speak for themselves - check him out on YouTube, you lazy f-f-fucker! But nevertheless, having soaked up four Wednesdays’ worth of Wallers-esque misery here are a few things I've learnt:

*Somewhat surprisingly, there seems to be a small coterie of fans who will turn out for The Rebel's gigs, determined to sing along to stuff about how the human race deserves to die (“Die die die human scum”). Actually, it does (deserve to die). This produced the rather incongruous sight of aficionados doing their best to turn his country-guitar drone, his discordant squirts of electronic noise and his obscure foghorn rants into some kind of party music.

*As befits any decent artist doing a so-called residency, The Rebel varied his sets from week to week, and - maybe more interestingly - seemed to be playing some of the same songs differently from one week to the next.

*His actual appearance was changeable and interesting. One week he was sporting a baseball cap and louche preppy shirt and tie, another a full two-tone green cricket strip (Pakistan’s?). By week three we had what looked like some kind of US army field kit for its Middle East operations, and week four brought us a more “typical” Rebel look - a dark-grey business suit and cowboy hat. My own favourite bit was how he seemed to have smeared his arms and face with gobs of green and orange paint one week. Er, nice.

*He’s serious. And this is no lightweight music. Each week he ground the audience into submission with more than an hour of hardcore noise-country (or whatever the hell it is). I liked most of it, in particular some of the lyrics (“I sat on the stairs with a noose around my neck / Now I'm on the 242 going into town”) (my own bus to work!), or a song about having a gig to do near Hackney Downs station (er, my local train station!). And drones and curdled misanthropy notwithstanding, when The Rebel sang a song about knowing someone when they "had no pubes", it could be genuinely touching and sad.

The Rebel: still hoping for a call-up to Pakistan's one-day side

In the end what’s good about The Rebel is that he sticks to his guns. I remember one of his gigs from about 12 years ago where a little gaggle of beery blokes kept theatrically groaning “What is this shit?” Hmm, as Wallers says in one of his songs, “You only mock the avant garde / Because it’s ... a ... bit ... too ... hard”.

One of the highlights of The Rebel's Brixton extravaganza was a song where he intoned/incanted the name “Sophie” about 40 times in (slightly uneven) succession. Strangely disturbing. And another memorable moment was where this non-crowd-pleaser incited a bizarre singalong of “Get the fucking Tories out” (repeated about 15 times) to the tune of Phibes’ drum ‘n’ bass We Run Tingz (which your humble blogger was DJing through the PA).

And what’s more, the anti-Tory diatribe nearly worked! The Rebel’s GTFTO jungle chant took place on 7 June. Two days later the shell-shocked Conservative government lost its majority. The Rebel had cast his vote …

Friday, 30 June 2017

There's no such thing as a record worth stealing

This is a blog post about security and music.

Nothing fancy - no elaborate advice about how to safeguard your music files against cyber-attack or anything like that. Just some very basic observations, all rather material and old-fashioned. Like noting how (some) charity shops put strips of sellotape on their CDs to deter you from stealing the discs rather than coughing up your greasy £1 for a copy of The White Stripes' Elephant or whatever.

When I worked in a record shop in the mid-1980s we'd get quite a few opportunist grab-it-and-leg-it shoplifters bursting out of the doors in a sudden dramatic flurry of activity. We staff, poor harried individuals trying to shrinkwrap 250 Whitney Houston LPs as soon as our little hands could get it done, would be summoned to give chase. Oh what fun! We'd charge through the pedestrianised streets of this Midlands city, scaring shoppers, scattering pigeons and as far as I can remember never catching the fleet-footed thief. 

Looking back I'm glad we didn't. If they wanted that bloody Bruce Springsteen cassette so badly - good luck to them. But still, the security-heavy routine would continue. A low-wage, uniformed security guard on the door. Information circulated about who to look out for among the "shoplifter gangs".

Is music so valuable? Do we need to "protect" it so vigilantly? I dunno, could it be we've got our priorities ever so slightly wrong ...?

Thoughts like these came to me the other day when I attempted a little bit of breaking and entering of my own. Having borrowed some CDs from a local library (yeah I'm old-school like that), I got home to find the librarian had forgotten to take the bloody security tabs out. Should I plod all the way back to the library? Er, no. Far better to just gently tease the tabs out. Except, 20 sweaty minutes later I'd half-destroyed two CD cases by hacking away with a screwdriver and pen-knife. Ruined! What to tell the library? Naturally, being too embarrassed to admit the truth, I ended up going back with a cock-and-bull story about losing them, offering to pay for replacements. See, kids - crime of any sort definitely doesn't pay.

Meanwhile, back in the world of legitimately-owned personal music collections, I know someone with a large number of reggae records who's forever fretting that somebody's going to break into his place and steal them. I can't see it. Records are surprisingly heavy and, well, just records. Do people break into houses to steal vinyl (even allowing for the ridiculous prices new-style "connoisseur" shops like Flashback Records charge for this stuff)? Surely not. 

But that's (sort of) my point. People invest a bit too much value in musical artefacts - the "rare" vinyl, the limited-edition this or that. Most people don't want your music. They've got their own - which they almost certainly think is better than yours anyway. Charity shops can probably afford to have a few CDs stolen without getting all uptight about it - after all, most of their stuff's donated to them. And my local library can probably manage without using super-secure CD cases. Bloody hell - it's only a ten-quid Punk 45: There Is No Such Thing As Society compilation - it's not a gold bar!

Stolen records: we're all over-valued products now 

The Punk 45 comp is good actually and I don't mind having now paid £10.50 for it (50p being the original loan fee). Fine. I'm enjoying hearing music from The Cigarettes, The Swell Maps and the Prefects. And if ever some perfidious punk-thief should gain unauthorised access to my flat and run off with it ... well, I guess I'll cope. In fact, I'll probably just shout after them: "Oi, don't you know? There's no such thing as a record worth stealing!"


Thursday, 29 June 2017

The real tough guy, Noisepod #12 (June 2017)

So there I am, idly scanning a Guardian interview with Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter, when I see the following remark from Hütter:

Basically, nothing has changed. It’s still all about composition. And for the last 50 years, it has always been like this. There have always been speakers all around - radio speakers, televisions. A little more [now], but then again … it’s about the intensity. All the rest is just noise.”

Yeah, and that's what this blog is about - noise. So don't diss it Mr Hütter! As it happens, the rather dull Kraftwerk "legend" seems to have little interest in much outside his own self-regarding world (Twitter, for example, is "basically … very banal") and you get the feeling he's absorbed too much of the adulation surrounding Kraftwerk to retain much objectivity or curiosity. Ah, the fate of all successful musicians ...

Or, looking again, is Hütter actually just saying it's the music that matters not the medium (whether it's streamed on a phone or listened to on an ancient hi-fi or whatever)? Er, could be, and if so ... I agree. Whether you're listening to Trans-Europe Express or the latest Niluccio on noise podcast, it's the music not the mode that matters.

And speaking of the latest Niluccio on noise podcast, here's one I prepared earlier .... It's the very embodiment of Hütter's "all the rest is noise". Indeed, it's all noise! But don't be swayed by Hütter's pejorative use of "noise". Noise is life. And in this, I am right and he is wrong. I'm the real tough guy ...

1: Regimen, Jag tvättar
2: Death Pedals, Count of none
3: Perspex Flesh, Passing through
4: Gehenna, Baptized in fallout
5: Fallas, Mercenarios de la muerte
6: Warxgames, Sick inside
7: The real tough guy
8: Siberian Ass Torture, Nothing came to me
9: No Form, Goddess of fire
10: Grey Hairs, Man is a kitchen
11: Eskro, Soldados desechables
12: Polo Pepo Y La Sociedad Corrupta, Chavo marginado
13: The voice of America
14: Suppression, Cowboys from Yale
15: Amorous Dialogues, Be reasonable
16: Enforcers, Unto dust
17: Part Chimp, Bad boon
18: Socialite, Banned for life
19: You are interested in the unknown
20: Skinny Girl Diet, Teenage wolf pack
21: Straight Forward, IOXME
22: The Abominable Ski-Mask, Runaway slave part II
23: Ataraxia, Loop
24: Hey Colossus, Wired_brainless
25: You've come to the right guy
26: Thunderbirds, Flying saucers
27: Woolf, December
28: Condemn The Infected, Deny existence
29: Toska, Off track betting
30: White Christian Disaster, Moral values worth a dime
31: I got in my truck
32: Sex Pistols, Just me (I wanna be me)
33: Swerve, Submission
34: Unit Pride, Friendship
35: Flipper, Living for the depression

Friday, 16 June 2017

What it takes to survive, Dubpod #18 (June 2017)

So yeah, my efforts to disentangle the lyrics of Ranking Tiger's No Wanga Gut aren't going that well. "No wanga gut, no wanga belly, licky licky / No wanga gut, no wanga belly, nyamy nyamy / No licky licky, no nyamy nyamy, too greedy / No licky licky, no nyamy nyamy, soon poison."

Say what? Jamaican patois, eh? And what does Wikipedia have to say on the matter? The following: "Jamaican Patois features a creole continuum (or a linguistic continuum): the variety of the language closest to the lexifier language (the acrolect) cannot be distinguished systematically from intermediate varieties (collectively referred to as the mesolect) or even from the most divergent rural varieties (collectively referred to as the basilect)."

Hmm. All clear now? Anyway, I think it's fair to say that patois has its origins in surviving (or trying to) the experience of slavery. It's a language of survival. It's what it takes to survive ...

1: Gregory Isaacs, Lonely dub
2: Bob Andy & Mad Professor, Tribal war dub
3: Mudie's All Stars, Red red red dub
4: Johnny Clarke, Crazy bald head
5: Barrington Levy, Hammer
6: What it takes to survive
7: Acre & Filter Dread, Blood artist
8: Gladstone Anderson All Stars, War dance dub
9: Yabby You, Chant Jah victory (version)
10: King Tubby's, Dub from the roots
11: Negritage, Anti-greedy version
12: Welcome to lab 257
13: Lion Youth, Prette little girl
14: Tony Tuff, No warrior
15: Scratch & The Upsetters, Underground
16: Scientist, Landing
17: Herbert Chang, Coming of Jah version
18: I am a princess
19: Clifton Giggs & The Selected Few, Brimstone and fire
20: Jah Martin & The Upsetters, Kung fu part 1
21: Tiger & Admiral Bailey, No wanga gut
22: Where could I find the will to live?
23: Kode9 & The Spaceape, Kingstown
24: Trinity, Real ranking
25: Jah Shaka, Vision dub
26: Moodie, Going to Africa

Friday, 9 June 2017

Band for four years, Podcast #142 (May 2017)

Welcome to Podcast #142. You are indeed very welcome. In this emporium of aural delights you will find many of those rare and alluring sounds you've long been looking for.  There are slow songs and there are fast ones. There are compositions in a multitude of languages. There is even a song from a band who have been together for four years. (Fancy that).

But if you don't find what you're searching for in this modest palace of sound, then ... er, you must go elsewhere. Where? Try M Kessler's Hardware shop ...

1: Comme Jospin, Pinçon
2: Heather B, Live MC
3: Washer, ? (Silent Barn, New York 7/5/17)
4: Voyeur, Summer in the city
5: Pisse, Alt sein
6: Isabel Nogueira, Inner voices
7: Fallas, Tortura taurine
8: Tim Woulfe, Slow burying
9: Dave Clark Five, Mighty good loving
10: We’ve been a band for four years
11: Phibes, We run tingz
12: Negative Rage, Live in pain
13: Carl Perkins, Blue suede shoes
14: King Imagine, GM 45
15: Negritage, Stuck in a Babylon
16: Angel Olsen, Unfucktheworld
17: POST, Sem vergenha
18: Mo Rooneh, Track 06
19: Phactor 8, Acid rocker
20: Wiley, Scar
21: Anna McLellan, ? (Silent Barn, New York 7/5/17)
22: Lietoofine, Ergot
23: Larry White & Daddy Marcus, See them coming (dub)
24: Oso El Roto, Vagin de Jim Carrey

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Friday, 5 May 2017

Many factories, Podcast #141 (Apr 2017)

So I was reading a supposedly "insightful" article the other day telling me that there are very good reasons why a lot of people (most?) more or less stop listening to new music in their 30s and 40s. The argument seemed to be something like "nothing's quite the same when you're not young anymore, first loves are the most impactful ...blah blah". Load of rubbish, of course. For one thing, "love" when you're 18 is very likely nothing but teenage desire (just lust). For another, a lot of music you listen to when you're young turns out to be pretty mediocre. Give it another few decades of exposure to music and you start to put things into different perspectives.

So why do people give up on new music when they themselves are old and decrepit (around the age of 32)? Er, I guess "real life" kicks in. You know, life. Jobs, families, other stuff. Plus, they get distracted by millions of non-music entertainment things, especially television, that great satanic anti-music medium. But OK, maybe people get a bit boring as well. Creaky and conservative. If you ask me, they should stop thinking about their tiresome responsibilities, their loathsome families, their mindless jobs ... and spend more time in the many factories of new Niluccio music ...

1: Nihilore, Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas
2: Channel Surfing, Buy a personality
3: Plebs & Fuckboys, Stereotypology in a nutshell
4: Grey Hairs, Serious business
5: Champion Jack Dupree, Highway blues
6: Stromwender, Release
7: Human Behaviour, ? (Windmill, London 20/4/17)
8: Walker Brothers, My ship is coming in
9: Many factories
10: Krigshot, Krigshetsare
11: Creo, Dimension
12: The Abominable Ski-Mask, Runaway slave part II
13: Papa Kourand, Pointe-noire
14: Karmacoma, Headroom (demo)
15: Glows, ? (Windmill, London 13/4/17)
16: Black Box, Ride on time (massive mix)
17: SVTR-ERT, Space buto
18: The Big Beats, Beware
19: Dirty Fences, 1000
20: Bob Andy, Unchained
21: (New England) Patriots, Celebrity
22: Graham Preskett, Congregation
23: The Darts, Ramblin stone
24: Charlene Darling et al, Tous les soirs (hospital)
25: Glass Boy, Bump
26: Human Adult Band, 08

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Blowing the whistle on people whistling at gigs

You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow.

Yeah, I know how to whistle, thanks. And unfortunately so do some of the people that go to the same gigs as me. Why's that a problem? Well ... SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECHHHHHHH! And ... PHSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSST!

Sorry, some idiot was whistling right by me just now ...

It's quite simple really. I go to gigs to hear some musicians do their stuff (good, mediocre, whatever) not some show-off guy (it's usually a man) doing one of those very piercing, high-volume whistles at the end of each song. Not only is it excruciatingly dull (whistling in the gaps between songs with metronomic predictability), but its laddish exhibitionism is the exact opposite of what I like about gigs in the first place. (Hey, look at me everyone! Check out MY appreciation of the band. Cool, eh?)

This sort of behaviour drags any musical event down. Similarly, those shouts of "yeahhhh!" - always now done in pseudo-American accents as if the humble British gig-goer can only be openly enthusiastic if disguised as an American. Dull.

No, in general I prefer an audience (preferably small in the first place) that's rather parsimonious with its appreciation. A little light clapping will do. Be grudging with your responses, not fawning over every small thing the band does. I usually refrain from even clapping if everyone else is whooping and frenziedly applauding. What's the point? The only time I actually make an effort with a bit of (relatively) sustained applause is when there's a single-figures-type audience and er, every pair of clapping hands counts.

It's a fine line sometimes. It's actually better if an audience almost doesn't like (or doesn't care about) the musicians out front supposedly entertaining them. As with those restaurant-bar affairs where a jazz pianist is toiling aware in the background just to provide a little atmosphere for the diners. Or, more interestingly, like those occasions where the band shows something like actual disdain for the audience (Sex Pistols, Selfish Cunt), which is quickly reciprocated by those watching.

But back to whistling. On the one hand it's out-of-fashion in everyday life (when did you last hear someone whistling to themselves in the street?), yet on the other it's often excellent when used in musical compositions themselves. Meanwhile, during the heyday of raves it was virtually a requirement for audiences to go along with referee-type whistles, shrilly blowing away to the thumping house beats and acting as if they were contributing to the music themselves (they sort of were).

That was different though. Exhibitionists whistling at small indie-type gigs are just irritants. On this blog I've previously moaned about all sorts of annoying behaviour at gigs - from audience and bands alike. Niluccio, the moaner-in-chief. It's almost like I'm a sort of traffic cop or referee. PHSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSST. Yes! I'm blowing the whistle on people whistling at gigs ...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Not talking about them, Podcast #140 (Mar 2017)

Not sure what to listen to? Too much choice? Sick of those bloody mixes that YouTube keeping throwing your way? Tired of those "essential" Spotify playlists from know-it-all musos forcing their tastes on you? Yeah, me too. Sick of it all. Sick, sick, sick. Sick! There's only one way out. A new Niluccio on noise compilation ...

Yep! So actually, forget what I just said about know-it-all musos. The Niluccio on noise comps are different. Entirely different. They're above criticism. Totally sui generis. Surely you understand? When I'm criticising the ubiquity of "curated" music I'm not aiming any of my remarks at the Niluccio oeuvre. No. I'm not talking about them ...

1: BassDrop, 6 million ways
2: U-Man, Pizza
3: Dane Law, DION
4: Moon Balloon, Fools game (Old Blue Last, London 27/3/17)
5: CW Stoneking, How long
6: J.Kong, Ambush
7: Not talking about them
8: The Bloody Beetroots, Theolonius (King Voodoo)
9: Neurotic Fiction, ? (JT Soar, Nottingham 12/3/17)
10: Allister Thompson, My name is death
11: Mahjongg, The stubborn horse
12: KieLoBot, Lobo had a problem
13: Eleuthis, UAN
14: Ataraxia, System
15: Fabian Hanso, Stoff und schnaps
16: Zoot Sims, Small garden
17: Superman Happiness et al, ITT (international money thief)
18: Renick Bell & Steph Horak, Improvisation 261116
19: Asie Payton, Goin’ back to the bridge
20: Hamdi, Capital
21: Alex Campbell, Engine 143
22: Razabri & Lezet, Electric saw 7

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Jungle of Screaming Souls

"... it was called the Jungle of Screaming Souls. Just hearing the name whispered was enough to send chills down the spine ... Here, when it is dark, trees and plants moan in awful harmony. When the ghostly music begins it unhinges the soul and the entire wood looks the same no matter where you are standing. Not a place for the timid ...".

- Bảo Ninh, The Sorrow Of War

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Joy to less fortunate children, Noisepod #11 (Mar 2017)

Like Elizabeth Windsor and her adorable down-to-earth relatives, I bring you ... joy to less fortunate children. Party's over, okeh?

1: Sex Vid, Under the rug
2: Venkman, Nick Martin
3: Eskro, Hitos de guerra
4: Hey Colossus, The drang
5: Seven Sisters Of Sleep, Ghost plains
6: That circus is fucked
7: Haymaker, Ten Bucks Of Rope
8: Nachthexen, Cheer up luv
9: Dethscaltor, Midnight feast
10: Amorous Dialogues, Party's over, okeh?
11: The Stooges, I wanna be your dog
12: Welcome to lab 257
13: Congential Haemorrhoids, Concerto for noisegrind Pt1
14: Hexis, Tenebris
15: Art Of Burning Water, Happiness always ends in tears
16: Mass Grave, Yin and yang
17: Wild Childish & The MBE, Joe Strummer's grave
18: Roll up roll up
19: The Chickens, Shit city
20: No Form, Meander
21: Siege, Dispossessed
22: Atomic Suplex, Rock & roll must die
23: Crass, Chairman of the bored
24: Sbirros, I married a monster from outer space
25: Hammer Of Hathor, Dancing with triangles
26: Meeting some of you in April 1970
27: Theatre Of Hate, Propaganda
28: Dixie, One hand dragon pt3
29: Facebreaker, Reanimating the dead
30: Factorymen, Treblinka (going back)
31: Jensen, Ghosts

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Feel the rush: an all-nighter reading Life After Dark

Phew, after my marathon all-nighter I've emerged from the experience drenched in sweat, shivering in the chill dawn air and absolutely dog tired. Euuuugghhhh! It's almost as if, as if … as if I’ve been to a nightclub or something. But no, I’ve been reading Dave Haslam’s Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs and Music Venues. Blimey! Gimme some more dexies, mate …

In other words, it's a long session at the decks. Four hundred and thirty pages' worth. It's by no means uninteresting. On the contrary. But Haslam goes in for breathless pack-it-all-in "slice-throughs". Lots of names thrown our way - bands, venues, towns, promoters, DJs, records - and a helter-skelter pelt through music scene after music scene. Across chapter after chapter. Here's an example: on page 300, with Haslam jogging us through one of many mini-episodes in the early-ish post-punk scene:

"On 5 June 1980, U2 played for John Keenan at the F-Club. The night before they'd been in Manchester at 'The Beach Club', an almost regular Tuesday night at Oozits, formerly known as the Picador (the first club owned by Manchester drag act Frank 'Foo Foo' Lammar). The Beach Club had been launched in April by a group of friends around the New Hormones label, and the City Fun fanzine, including, among many others, Richard Boon, Eric Random, Lindsay Wilson (Tony's wife) and Sue Cooper."

And so on. Feel the rush: of dates, locations, bands, DJs. Paragraphs twisting and turning among a never-ending thicket of people, places and musical acts. Like a lot of other musicians, poor old U2 pop up, keep their heads above water for a couple paragraphs, then get submerged again.

But hey, let me take this already-boring record off the turntable and flip it - let's see what's on the B-side … well, OK! A good tune or two. To my taste, Haslam is over-hurried and verging on the superficial with some of his broad-brush approach, but there's still a lot of interesting stuff in his book. A few of my favourite Life After Dark nuggets:

*According to Jeff Horton (the recent owner of the 100 Club: is he still?), in 1964 there were over 200 music venues in just Soho and the wider West End part of central London.

*The Jamaican sound system operator Duke Vin memorably described 1950s Britain as lifeless: "I couldn’t find nowhere for a dance. The country was dead".

*Haslam reckons that cinema was the primary means of popularising insurgent music - first jazz in the 1920s and 1930s, and then rock and roll in the 1950s. A fascinating point which I must admit I don't recall coming across previously.

*The future Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon staged an early Sex Pistols gig in the painting studio of the art department at Reading University by getting his course tutor to consider the performance a part of Boon's assessed course work. (Fail!)

*The Torch soul all-nighters in Tunstall near Stoke-on-Trent in 1972-3 managed to head off complaints by people who lived in the same street by employing them as cleaners at the club, apparently more or less putting them on the payroll so they wouldn't complain about noise and traffic.

Life After Dark, 
with a rare photo of my dad 'hammering it' on the dancefloor in 1961

One of the things that comes cross very clearly in the book is the significance of key individuals, usually DJs and/or promoters, who did a lot to forge a scene in one or two key locations (in some cases these mercurial figures keep popping up in different cities in the midst of different music scenes). So you have the soul-R'n'B-and-much-else DJ Roger Eagle playing at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester in the 1960s, before re-appearing in 1976 with Eric’s in Liverpool and gigs for the Sex Pistols and early punk bands. Between times, he'd also run the Magic Village in Manchester, putting on psychedelic freakshows, playing Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa and Doors records. Far out, man.

Other key DJ/promoter/hustler impresario types include Andy Czezowski (The Damned, the Roxy club, the Fridge club) and Guy Stevens (the Scene mod/R'n'B club, The Clash). Not to mention Jimmy Savile. Haslam champions these figures (Eagle and Stevens especially) for caring about the music they played more than their own fame or earnings. It’s commendable, eminently likeable. But there are times in the book where Haslam seems to slide away from this "it's for the love of the music" value system. In a chapter on the New Romantics - Billy's, Blitz, the Batcave et al - he comments on Duran Duran and how they'd played several of their early pre-Rum Runners gigs in the small upstairs room (the "Star Club") of a Birmingham pub: "I guess there aren't many artists who'd be happy to spend their careers playing dives." Oh, they’re dives now, are they? 

Coming in a chapter featuring quite a few popstar wannabies like John Taylor, you rather get the impression that here Haslam's excusing or subtly aligning himself with the careerists of the music world. It happens a few times in the book. Even the slightly romanticised final paragraph of Life After Dark features a set-piece scene of imagined excitement outside a venue with a "queue" and "taxis pulling up". This might be how it is where Haslam goes these days, but there aren't any taxis or queues outside the venues I go to. (Ahem).

I don't mean to disparage Haslam or his book. It's packed with interesting snippets (about 5,000 of them) and covers a lot of ground. His heart generally appears to be in the right place, but I think the book's just over-ambitious. On the plus side, it seems to be on its most secure footing when it's chronicling the scene Haslam was himself a part of - the Hacienda, house, rave and the 90s big beat / D'n'B fall-out. In this area I think Haslam is pretty good when discussing important topics like violence in the rave scene (something I sensed an undercurrent of myself at the Hacienda or Konspiracy in Manchester) or the still-continuing tragedy of Ecstasy deaths.

Unsurprisingly, he also seems securer talking about Manchester than any other city. On London, where I've lived for over 20 years, I think he's often wide of the mark. Especially with contemporary (or near-contemporary) London, in particular the "indie"/experimental scene, which I know most about. For example, he rightly points to Café Oto as an important venue for adventurous music programming in the city, but he ignores - or just doesn’t know about - numerous other venues: the Old Blue Last, DIY Space, Sound Savers, Boat Ting, the Windmill, New River Studios, the Shacklewell Arms, plus other now-deceased but recently-important places like Power Lunches, the Buffalo Bar or "ROTA" at the Arts Club. Meanwhile, out of London the best venue in modern-day Sheffield (the Audacious Art Experiment) or Nottingham (JT Soar) both fail to get a mention.

The sins of omission, eh?

But hold it! I should take this miserable, downbeat record off the wheels of steel and play something more uplifting. Yunno, kind of spirit of Hacienda 1989. Airhorns blasting. Blokes stripped to the waist dancing on the podiums.

In all likelihood me and my purple t-shirt-clad student mates ourselves danced to some of Mr Haslam's tunes back in our Madchester undergraduate days, so I feel I ought to end with a positive sentiment. In fact what better than quoting DJ Sasha remembering what it was like at Shelley's Lazerdome in Longton near Stoke-on-Trent during those heady rave times:

"It had a real innocent energy. The big thing for me was holding the crowd back; they'd be gagging to hear a record they knew, and as soon as they did the whole place would go mental. From that point onwards I had to completely go for it. I knew that as soon as I put that one record on the airhorns would go off and that would be it. I'd have to completely hammer it."

Woah, another hard day's night hammering it! Sasha, you should take a night off. Read a book or something. What about Life After Dark …?

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Don't question, just obey, Dubpod #17 (Mar 2017)

As you may have noticed (and to quote Dennis Brown), we're living in changing times. (As opposed to all those other times that never changed. That just stayed the same).

Yeah, but that was in the past. Things are better now. There's plenty of activity these days. It's a veritable whirlpool of ever-changing stuff - new cars (some that aren't driver-less), new presidents (sad!), new politics (oh so new), new everything. It's getting so you can't even listen to a Niluccio dubpod without wanting to revolt and demand "new stuff". Yeah well, tough. Because this killer collection is a copy. A copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy (etc). Don't question, just obey ...

1: Upsetters, Longer way
2: The Abyssinians, Abendigo
3: Junior Murvin, Muggers in the street
4: King Tubby, Unit dub
5: Zap-pow & Black Intentions, Zap-pow in Zion
6: Don't question, just obey
7: Dennis Brown & The Crystalites, Changing times
8: Al Campbell, Take a ride
9: Nicodemus, Computer knife and fork
10: Lone Ranger, Dub a natty dread
11: Soul Syndicate, 6 sixty 6
12: End of our rainbow
13: Cedric 'Im' Brooks, Satta
14: Junior Ainsworth, Thanks and praise
15: Bim Sherman/Scorpio, Trouble
16: Zoot Sims, Small garden
17: Bobby Kalphat, Raw roots
18: Dub the hop
19: Eek-A-Mouse, Ganja smuggling
20: Tommy McCook & The Discosonics, Tenor on the call
21: Burning Spear, Bad to worst
22: Desmond Dekker, Fu Manchu
23: Mr Foundation, See them a come
24: Time travel
25: Vivian Jackson, God is watching you
26: Hugh Mundell, Africa must be free by 1993