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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

History is punk: my Buzzcocks poster is not for sale

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things ...

Yes, dear reader, that was me, back when I was tearing down the pop posters from my bedroom wall as soon as I became 18, a man no longer a boy. There I was, on my 18th birthday itself, grabbing those silly juvenile band posters, ripping the wallpaper behind them in my hurry to erase all sign of my embarrassing teenybopper tastes ...

Or rather, nothing of the kind happened. I'm not quite sure what was adorning my bedroom wall when I was 18 - possibly a Blondie poster which I'd had from about the age of 14, possibly an Undertones poster as well - but I'm pretty sure nothing much changed at the age of 18. Or 19. Or 20.

At one stage in my late-teens/early 20s I had a "Why?" anti-war poster and - I think - a Dead Kennedys poster. Possibly a Crass one. Dunno now, my mind can't seem to form a proper picture. Maybe it's too uncomfortable - summoning up memories of juvenilia like this ...

But, but ... what is this Buzzcocks poster nonsense I now see before me? A poster just sitting there in my present-day flat - in a different time and a different place (different kitchen) - the flat, indeed, of (gulp) a 54-year-old man?

Ever fallen in love (with a poster you shouldn't have) 

Yeah, it's a good question. To explain: having been given the Love Bites poster by an acquaintance more than 30 years ago (in about 1985!), I've held onto it ever since. Having rather half-heartedly put it up in a rarely-used bedroom in my parent's house for a few years, for most of the past three decades it's languished on a shelf, folded up and ... just kept there.

Because ... well, it's a Buzzcocks poster. Like a deeply-lined face, this tatty old item is scarred by fold lines and its corners are torn, full of drawing pin holes and falling to bits. So like its decrepit owner, it's in a shocking state, but still, it's a tangible link to (my increasingly intangible) past. For one thing, the Buzzcocks retain their ability to float the boat of this particular ancient pop mariner. And for another, I've always been rather touched by the fact that the poster was given to me in a moment of real generosity by a bloke I didn't know too well who was then a local (Coventry) music scenester who might have been aloof and ungenerous but actually wasn't. How nice.

But, though a link to my past and referencing something still musically relevant, these very "straight" major label promo posters are just so undeniably ... dull. No doubt in this case intended to tap into the Smash Hits pop-new wave market for which United Artists were so clearly grooming Shelley, Diggle et al, and featuring a fairly pleasing Malcolm Garrett design, it's still a deeply uninspired product.

Uninspired but increasingly valuable. As the marketisation of all things punk continues, I understand that pristine Love Bites posters are now selling for in excess of £300 (I should think mine's worth about 30 pence). Offered money for mine, I'd rather rip it up in front of the would-be buyer than sell it - not from nostalgia, but because this commerce in music merch leaves me cold.

No, let's put away childish things like the selling of old records, t-shirts and other music merchandise. No more commerce from nostalgia!

Instead, let's act like adults. Like my kind benefactor all those years ago, give these things to people if they want them and you don't. And in the meantime if you want to "remix" your old Buzzcocks poster with a few sub-Linder/John Heartfield adornments like I have - then you should!

Yes, re-arrange it, cut it up, put it back on the wall. History is punk and your future and your past are presently disarranged. I wouldn't always recommend trying to surf on a wave of nostalgia for an age yet to come, but sometimes ... it's worth a try.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Anarchy on Oxford Street: Donnie Delinquent hits town

Is Donald Trump a dirty rotter?

Maybe he's a fink, a scoundrel or even a bounder? I ask the question because one of the home-made banners at a Trump demo in London today used the marvellously quaint "dirty rotter" put-down, part Steve Jones on Grundy, part ... er, well, part "polite protester uses archaism in an ironic fashion to stand out from the crowd".

"Dirty fucker", "fucking rotter": today's banner is Steve Jones with the swear words removed. Grundy restored to its tea-time, pre-watershed wholesomeness. If only you could turn the clock back. No filth and the fury, no media-fuelled moral outrage, no banned gigs, no sudden mainstreaming, no early death of punk. (No future).

Today's Trump protest was interesting to punk fans/critics like me because of the way the Sex Pistols percolated through parts of it, fragments and remnants stitched back together, re-done, remodelled.

Almost the first banner I saw ahead of the protest march was none other than this cheerful little Jamie Reid knock-off.

Never mind the policies, here's the spray tan

Then, within the hour and quite coincidentally, I was hearing Anarchy In The UK played from a loud-but-heavily-distorting mobile speaker as the protest headed towards Oxford Street, a location which itself has quite a bit of dimmed-but-not-entirely-eliminated McLaren-esque charge.

And then, in Parliament Square, the "rotter" banner, very close to the Churchill statue, once famously green mohican-d by anti-capitalists.

I reckon of course it's quite possible the author of the dirty rotter sign might not have been channelling Jones at all. There were a lot of these playfully over-polite messages at the protest - they're quite in vogue. Others included "Not usually my thing, marching - but honestly" and "Well this is bad on so many levels". Maybe the rotter person was thinking Terry-Thomas and Ealing comedies, not Grundy and "go on, say something outrageous".

Either way, with his strange orange hair, camp mannerisms and ability to cause mayhem, I think Mr Trump is kinda punk himself. Never mind Johnny Rotten, here's Donnie Delinquent ...

Monday, 9 July 2018

No happiness, Podcast #155 (June 2018)

More music to cosset, fondle and generally cuddle up to. Yes, another Niluccio on noise podcast - the ultimate in lover's rock.

Music like this is perfectly capable of making your trembling heart miss a beat. Of inducing sudden dangerous swoons. Even, let's face it, of making you fall in love.

You'll be in love ... with music. But as we all know, that in itself is no happiness ...

1: Uglyglow, Every homeless is an artist
2: KOKOKO!, Likoko
3: Jargon word we use
4: Subject Matter, Steel
5: Dairy Classics, ? (Windmill, London 27/6/18)
6: chicachico, Illuminati
7: Balloon Corps, The only girl
8: Metre, Alien language
9: Toilet VRKR, A verker’s verk
10: Gasp, Silver and shiver when troubled
11: ∂βig∂il tεmρlεton, βε∂t ∂1
12: Murt, Turt & Purt, When Jah speak
13: Eric Schall, Meskalinbar
14: The Glugg, ? (Windmill, London 27/6/18)
15: Thee Mightees, Brutal
16: Pissing Match, Inflated balloons
17: Luke Slater, I can complete you
18: Eddie Cochran, C’mon everybody
19: Yan Terrien, Yellow streaks
20: Pierce Murphy, Just give it time
21: Tom Hall, Vail 1123581321
22: Actress + London Contemporary Orchestra, Hubble
23: Chips & Co, Marbletown

Selfie with sound

A rare photo of Niluccio listening to some music ...

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Rebel: in support of arachnids, against the rest

Another year, another four-week June residency from The Rebel at The Windmill in Brixton.

I said plenty about last year's bash, so there's no need for me to do all that again. But here are a few extra things about the 2018 vintage Rebel ...

It's all still there. Droning misanthropic vocals, nagging country-ish guitar lines, crunchy distorted beats, ugly-cum-kitsch costumes: Ben Wallers hasn't exactly mellowed.

This year's effort included The Rebel struggling into a full-body spiderman costume topped off by a huge furry white head appendage one week (just the head mask another week, just the suit and head mask hung on the wall another week). Particularly impressive about the spiderman affair was the fact that he put this lot on about halfway through the gig (not at the beginning), seemingly because of the disruption, as well as its all-round oddity appeal. And, to me, the most important thing was the way he wasn’t doing it for laughs. It was minimum showbiz, maximum surrealism. My inner arachnid approves.

The Rebel: doing it for fans

Another of the quartet of gigs saw a woman in the audience apparently fainting during a particularly mournful drone. And instead of playing an encore at the conclusion of week four, we got a couple of jokes (including one that riffed on the fact it was told the previous week). What drollery …

As with last year, the audiences were modestly-sized (around 80 I'm told) but often slightly fanatical. And also a distinctly mixed bunch - including a young woman wearing a jacket with The Fat White Family and an anarchy symbol daubed on the back, middle-aged blokes who presumably used to go to Country Teasers gigs, and other assorted oddballs.

Although there are bits of The Fall and some kind of warped country in the mix, The Rebel is pretty much sui generis. His guitar says “For Rea”, not “For Real”. (God knows).

He's not there to please you, me, or anyone else. (Maybe just spiders). He's "Against the left / Against the right / Against the middle / Against the rest …".

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Huddled together for warmth, Noisepod #16 (June 2018)

In these bleak days when sport takes over from everything else, when the "national psyche" (whatever that is) reveals itself to be some half-demented England-top-wearing bloke bellowing "There's only one Harry Kane!!!" at the top of his lungs, what's a poor football refusenik to do?

Nothing. Retreat. Stay away from bars. Keep off the streets. Close the windows. And listen to some noise. Yes, in these cold-as-ice times, you'll find the dwindling band of anti-football types holed up in their TV-less lairs, huddled together for warmth ...

1: 2.5 Children, Another happy day
2: Armitage Shanks, Look out here comes uncle John
3: Chemos, Cleanly
4: Toska, Receipt
5: Destroy All Monsters, Bored
6: Superconductor
7: Seven Sisters Of Sleep, The flock
8: Full Of Hell, Indigence and guilt
9: Henry Blacker, Cold laking
10: Johnny Moped, Incendiary device
11: Jermz, Power cut
12: 1829
13: Dregs, Strange glue pt II
14: Nomad, 遺命
15: Co-Mix, Revol rules OK
16: Gum Takes Tooth, Tannkjøtt
17: Suppression
18: Huddled together for warmth
19: The Darts, Ramblin stone
20: Mind Trap, Two face
21: Beaks Plinth, Me mercy me (the plinthology)
22: Part Chimp, Rad mallard
23: The Stooges, Little doll
24: Mr California And The Mr California Band, The fuck song
25: Par for the course
26: Mother Cunt, Suk my hole
27: Punish The Atom, Self group help
28: Sauna Youth, Creeping
29: Perspex Flesh, Prison of glass
30: Youth Avoiders, Long chains
31: Witewash, Suicide beats/Waiting to die

It's Africa, isn't it? Dubpod #22 (June 2018)

You better say no, no, no to the mark of the beast ....

Yes, dear readers, another dub podcast for your education, inspiration, elucidation and er, greater satisfaction.

Some people doubt the superior qualities of dub/reggae, somehow even casting doubt on what are by far the most important musical roots of the whole blues-rock canon. It's Africa, isn't it ...? 

1: Prophets/Vivian Jackson, Warn (version)
2: Ashanti Waugh, Police police
3: Congo Natty, Micro chip (say no)
4: Dennis Brown, Concentration
5: Lee Perry, Roots rock dub
6: It’s Africa, isn’t it?
7: W. Riley, Zion I (version)
8: Yabby You, Deliver me from my enemies
9: Jim Brown, Love in the dance
10: Ernest Wilson, I know myself
11: Augustus Pablo Meets The Upsetter, Vibrate on
12: Long and arduous course
13: Johnny Clarke, Declaration of rights
14: Niney & The Observers, Mud and water
15: Prince Francis, African skank
16: Cutty Ranks, Chop chop
17: Junior Murvin, Cool out son
18: Crimes against the Palestinian people
19: Brentford All-stars & others, Meet 7 million
20: Dillinger, Stop the war
21: The Success All Stars, Doctor Satan echo chamber
22: King Stitt, Vigorton two
23: Rudies, Train to Vietnam
24: It begins with a stethoscope
25: Glen Brown/King Tubby, Father for the living dubwise
26: Prince Alla, Youthman in the ghetto (disco)
27: Desmond Dekker & The Aces, 007

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Dada fast: George Bernard Shaw whistles through Handel ...

"A man who could whistle a number of works by Handel, Hayden, Mozart and Beethoven from end to end ..."

- Terry Eagleton on George Bernard Shaw (LRB, 21/6/18)

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

You only see me for the PiL hoodie I wear

"You never listened to a word that I said / You only see me for the clothes I wear ..."

But that was in 1978 not 2018, and now we have PiL hoodies on sale in a shop in Shoreditch in east London for a mere £75. Yeah, £75 to you, squire. Here ya go. Get yer PiL hoodies! Fresh out the van. Come on mate, get one of these on ya. You'll look well tasty when you go out tonight ...

I shouldn't care (and I don't very much), but with my eye caught by the PiL window display earlier it was at least necessary to resister some residual disgust. Targeted disgust - isn't that what punk was supposed to be about?

There's no future in shop-bought 'creativity' 

I'm fully aware, of course, that punk from the its earliest days was heavily enmeshed with clothes and consumerism - from Sex to Seditionaries, from over-priced bondage trousers and mohair sweaters, to a boom in Doctor Martens and even George Cox brothel creepers. First-, second- and third-wave punks were walking adverts for clothes and so-called "brands", with their Levi's, their Harringtons, their studded belts and biker's jackets.

But still, a shop selling PiL pin badges for £8! A little metal badge! What the fuck ...

This "seven-piece capsule collection" of PiL merchandise is a tie-in with PiL's 'The Public Image is Rotten' tour, at which, presumably, they'll be selling more merchandise to a load of punters who've paid a lot of money to go to the gig in the first place. Something is rotten, for sure.

Lest we forget, one of the best things about punk was the way that people felt they could reinvent themselves through clothes and appearance, ripping conventional clothing norms to shreds. McLaren and Westwood's shop certainly (and cynically?) cashed in on this but also helped to license a way of mixing and matching that post-punk types did instinctively with army surplus gear, jumble sale cast-offs and tie-dye handiwork. This was the true invention of punk, not a Ramones or a PiL t-shirt.

"White edge to badge (no coping)", says the sales blurb to the stupid pin badge. And I guess there isn't any coping with the awful bashing punk's taken from rampant commerce down the years if you emotionally over-invest in the "sanctity" of the music and what (you thought) it represented. One of the new PiL shirts even has album track listings printed down the sleeves. You're literally wearing your musical preferences on your sleeve ... 

I haven't eaten butter for years (it's bad for the cows you know ...), but if I still did I would be sure never to buy that stuff Lydon endorsed. Similarly, if you gave one of these t-shirts or hoodies to me I'd rip it up while listening to Metal Box as opposed to actually ... er, wearing it. In public.

So there you have it. Hoodie provokes the last dregs of preserved punk disgust. It's a pathetic tale. But then again:

"The public image belongs to me / It's my entrance / My own creation / My grand finale / My goodbye / Public image / Public image / Goodbye ...".

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Those objectives, Podcast #154 (May 2018)

Is there too much music in the world?

You know - too many mixes on sites like FACTMAG.COM? They're up to number #587 for god's sake. How are you ever going to catch up? And there are probably about 587 other sites in the world hosting similar good-quality mixes. Blimey ... music overload!

It can be a bit daunting. Mixes, podcasts, new releases, stuff on Soundcloud, about 10,000 Bandcamp accounts that are probably worth checking out. Those hundreds/thousands/tens of thousands of tunes you've already downloaded or taped or have on over-priced vinyl. Bloody hell - there's no time.

All this is true. I myself undoubtedly have more music in my possession than I could ever hope to listen to before I die even if I live to be about 128 (which is my target age).

Phew. What to do? Give up? Retreat back to a few favourite albums? I can see why some people might. But no, don't do it. It's the coward's way! You've got to say to yourself: some of my favourite music was once unknown to me as well. There's a lot of other music out there I could fall in love with. I've just got to give myself a chance to find it. 

So, with those objectives in mind, I give you ... podcast #154!

1: DJ Lenar, Second three
2: Those objectives
3: Youth Sucks, Nincs semmid
4: MegaHast3r Bcn, Uff
5: Acid Dad, ? (Shacklewell Arms, London 17/5/18)
6: Yung Kartz, Deposit box
7: Anna Xambó, H2RI.11
8: dadala, Tantalising the sandman
9: Sangre de Abajo, Bataya (stoner song)
10: I Roy, Mental strain
11: Marta Smilga, Nubecula minor
12: The Wild Things, Tell me
13: Inaequalis, This bridge is too long
14: Truth Serum, Forfeiture
15: Yesterday’s Papers Revisited, Starlight goddesses
16: tay_ploops, W’air
17: Cosmo Sama & Marcelo von Schutlz, Cósmos
18: Absum, Living graves
19: Lost Harbours, ? (Centrala, Birmingham 19/5/18)
20: Prince & The Paupers, Exit
21: Culture Horn, Rootsman dub version 3
22: Florida Man, Heretics fork
23: Nitzer Ebb, Kick it (short dub)
24: Remigiusz Mazur-Hanaj, Halo, panie Marianie

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Harry Caul on the saxophone

There's a scene in Francis Ford Coppola's excellent 1974 film The Conversation where the surveillance expert Harry Caul (played by Gene Hackman) searches for listening devices he thinks are planted in his apartment.

Increasingly frantic and obsessed, he goes from looking behind furniture to tearing the whole flat apart - ripping up the floorboards, virtually destroying the place. He doesn't find anything and ends up utterly defeated. In the desolate finale, he sits there in his ruined flat playing a forlorn ballad on his saxophone: a picture of resigned misery.

I can identify. Because I've been having my own Harry Caul moment on this very blog. The other day I realised that nearly all the hundreds of photos I've uploaded to Niluccio on noise were ... too small. Or rather, in nearly every case I'd used the default "medium" size ...

... instead of varying it with the "large" size ...

... or the "X-large" size ...

Silly me. How else were you going to see that The Fall's Lie Dream Of Casino Soul was written by Smith, Riley, Scanlan and P. Hanley?

Anyway. A Harry Caul-like scene ensued. Because of course I had to start going back through all 461 posts (gulp) to see if I should alter the size of the photos. Yes, I had to. Because ... well, that's how obsession works.

And in the process I began to notice all sorts of other things. Like: text that wasn't in the right font. Text that was too big, too small, centred when it shouldn't be. Inconsistent captioning for photos. Oh dear ...

Meanwhile, as I picked apart/patched up years of blog posts I couldn't help noticing that Niluccio on noise is itself nothing if not truly obsessive. Themes keep coming up. Over and over. To name just a few: the hatefulness of commerce in music (here, here and here); punk as heritage music (herehere and here); the inanity of music biz hype (here and here); the unfashionability of reggae; a strong preference for very small music venues; mini-reviews of music books (Simon Ford, Lavinia Greenlaw, Joan Didion, Cole Lesley, Holly George-Warren, Jon Savage, Nick Cohn, Dave Haslam, Anthony Storr etc); the enduring power of the Sex Pistols and Crass; sneaking respect for goth music/culture (here, here, here and here); a love-hate relationship with John Peel (here and here); music and human rights; the irritating behaviour of audiences/musicians at gigs (every other post!); a dislike of fame/rock royalty/hero worship (here, here and here); an interest in cataloguing and arranging; and an overall obsessive need to keep churning stuff out (monthly podcasts, lists, photos, opinions ...).

Yes, we're all Harry Caul in the music blogging world. It's what keeps us going. Or me, at least. Having read this little update I have a request: would you now kindly check back through all the preceding 461 posts and tell me if you spot any typos? Thanks. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The sound of a violin in a dark shed

" ... Could one sleep here? Was it not dangerous to allow your vigilance to fail, even for one moment, when at any minute death could pounce on you?

"I was thinking of this when I heard the sound of a violin. The sound of a violin, in this dark shed, where the dead were heaped on the living. What madman could be playing the violin here, at the brink of his own grave? Or was it really an hallucination?

"It must have been Juliek.

"He played a fragment from Beethoven's concerto. I had never heard a sound so pure. In such a silence.

"How had he managed to free himself? To draw his body from under mine without my being aware of it?

"It was pitch dark. I could hear only the violin, and it was as though Juliek's soul were the bow. He was playing his life. The whole of his life was gliding on the strings - his last hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future. He played as he would never play again.

"I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget that concert given to an audience of dying and dead men! To this day, whenever I hear Beethoven played my eyes close and out of the dark rises the sad, pale face of my Polish friend, as he said farewell on his violin to an audience of dying men.

"I do not know for how long he played. I was overcome by sleep. When I awoke, in the daylight, I could see Juliek opposite me, slumped over, dead. Near him lay his violin, smashed, trampled, a strange overwhelming little corpse ..."

-Elie Wiesel, Night 

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Das kapital live #1: exchange value

It all began a long time ago. Seventeen-and-a-half years ago. Having lined up another gig to attend, on an impulse I took a dictaphone along with me thinking "You never know, it might sound OK".

Yes, a dictaphone. At a gig. Anyway, it sounded ... alright. Murky, muddy, full of distracting crowd noise, and me and my companions mindlessly talking over the music, but still ... audible. And that was how it all started, dear reader. Having already been going to gigs on a regular basis for er, 18 years, I stumbled across a new wheez. Doing my own super-lo-fi bootleg-y stuff! But on a strictly non-commercial basis, you understand.

Back then, in 2000, I didn't have any intention of sharing recordings like these. Doing monthly compilation CDRs - and then podcasts - all started years later. But, well, here we are ... seventeen-and-a-half long long years later, and I'm the proud owner of shelves and shelves of plasticky minidiscs (and a few cassettes) stuffed with these heavily-distorted live recordings. Envious?

Yeah, well, what do with 'em? They're gathering dust. A few tracks have been "aired" (if that's the right word) via my comps/podcasts but hey, that's not enough. These recordings demand to be heard!

So there you have it. It's the beginning of a new Niluccio on noise podcast era. Yep, bucketfuls of bootlegs are about to slosh all over a none-too-grateful online audience ...

With due respect to other places (Nottingham, Sheffield, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and not forgetting Paris, Brussels, Seoul, New York, Brescia, Tokyo and so on ...), most of the gigs I've honoured with a visit during the past two decades have taken place in good old London. Yes, das kapital. So that's what this is. Das kapital live!

So stop feeling alienated, comrades. Trade in your old ideas according to the exchange value principle, and tune in. Everywhere man is in chains, but at least you can dig the distortion. Eins, zwei, drei, vier ...

1: The Fiction: The Social, 15/5/07
2: Country Teasers: Buffalo Bar, 12/5/05
3: Holiday Ghosts: Victoria, 23/2/18
4: Value consists in the exchange relation
5: Good Shoes: Pleasure Unit, 21/11/05
6: Brandon Allen Trio: Black Gardenia, 8/7/06
7: Electricity In Their Homes: Catch, 7/2/08
8: Herman Düne: Betsey Trotwood, 6/3/03
9: Masonics: Buffalo Bar, 20/2/05
10: Nervous Twitch: Prince Albert, 11/11/11
11: H Grimace: Old Blue Last, 24/11/13
12: Bearsuit: Buffalo Bar, 21/9/07
13: The Worms: Power Lunches, 25/5/15
14: Appears to be something accidental
15: Fallen Leaves: Inn On The Green, 21/7/07
16: No Friendz: Windmill, 7/6/17
17: Stanley Brinks: George Tavern, 23/9/07
18: Terry Edwards: Soho Arts Theatre, 8/9/06
19: Nothing can have an intrinsic value
20: Buff Medways: Boston Arms, 14/12/01
21: Bricolage: Buffalo Bar, 23/11/07
22: Frank Fairfield: North Star, 5/9/10
23: Super Lungs: Old Blue Last, 20/9/15
24: Schneider TM: Great Eastern Hotel, 5/11/00
25: Radical Boy: Sebright Arms, 25/2/16


Sunday, 13 May 2018

Climb the mountain, Podcast #153 (Apr 2018)

Now hear this, now hear this. A royal wedding is coming. Please take cover. Protect yourself and your family.

Yes, you may want to tape your eyes closed and stuff bundles of cotton wool in your ears. Anything to avoid coming into contact with news regarding H**** and M*****'s fucking nuptials. (FFS. FFS!).

Even that may not be enough. Some cringingly sycophantic BBC/ITV coverage might still seep in. What can you do to be safe? I know! Grab your personal music player and head for the nearest mountain range where internet connections are non-existent. Then, stick on this Niliccio on noise podcast and ... climb the mountain.

1: μ-metik, By any means necessary
2: Climb the mountain
3: Chepang, Zerstoerung
4: Teardrop Factory, Honey run
5: Ditz, ? (Shacklewell Arms, London 24/4/18)
6: Bloom, Timeslip
7: Unseen, El monstruo
8: Corey Lyons & Alex Maerbach (Slate Arts & Performance, Chicago 3/4/18)
9: Woolworm, (I don’t need) your good vibes
10: Danny Taylor, There’s nothin’ wrong with this world
11: Soul Glo, 23
12: Duke, ? (CET, Coventry 21/4/18)
13: Negative Spectrum, The boy with no friends
14: The Jack Cades, Big fish
15: Absolutely Not, ? (Empty Bottle, Chicago, 2/4/18)
16: Scanglobe, Abakua
17: Witewash, Reasons
18: Carb On Carb, My first project
19: Reid Karris (Slate Arts & Performance, Chicago 3/4/18)
20: Âge Noir, Ville morts
21: Misty In Roots, Man kind
22: Laraaji, ? (Terraforma 2017)
23: Larry Hart, Oh Nellie
24: Gunther Prague, ? (CET, Coventry 21/4/18)

Saturday, 12 May 2018

All that crashing is making me ITCH

It's nothing compared to the great Easter iTunes meltdown of 2015 (which still brings me an involuntary shudder whenever it cross my mind) but ... still, it’s bad.

I’m talking about my DJ programme Serato ITCH crashing and refusing to work when, of course, I was setting up and about to DJ. Brilliant!

And there are iTunes meltdown-like aspects to this disaster as well. Because, with typical technology company arrogance, Serato no longer care about this programme and have long since moved onto a newer version. And, of course, the newer version doesn’t work with my (not inexpensive) controller hardware. Oh, we get it. You want us to buy all new stuff. This year. Next year. Forever. Yes of course we will. Thank you, sir …   

Yeah, if Serato isn’t already owned by Apple they might as well be. It turns out that lots of people who - like me - bought the ITCH programme because of its supposed ability to match and DJ from a large iTunes library feel similarly cheated. (Ever get the feeling …). Put a few too many files into your library and …bang! Or rather, crash.

Post-crash it’s now a case of rebuilding my DJ crates from scratch. One MP3 at a time. It appears the only workaround with Serato’s useless ITCH programme is to de-link from iTunes (it’s supposed selling point in the first place) and painstakingly import individual music files from your computer into the iTunes-less programme. So, in one fell swoop, you go from having 25,000 songs with which to DJ, to having er, zero. Then one, then two …

Serato have obviously worked out a way of keeping layabout would-be DJs busy. Give ‘em something to do …

So yes, Mr Rotten, I do get the feeling I’ve been cheated. And now it’s back to the song importing grindstone. Those empty DJ crates won’t fill themselves …

Friday, 13 April 2018

Never thought of it as forever, Podcast #152 (Mar 2018)

This podcast - number #152 in my never-ending series - has fought hard to avoid being born. At least three times I thought I'd copied these wonderful sounds onto a CDR ready for upload only to discover ... it was blank. Nothing there. A void.

But never fear, dear reader, I persevered. And lo, the podcast was uploaded!

Some may wish it hadn't been. Better that it had stayed empty, they might say. Anything rather than this unholy racket / tiresome collection of unutterably dull stuff.

Hmm, they might even have a point. Dunno. Give it a listen. Download it even. But, should you quickly tire of it, I promise I won't mind. After all, I never thought of it as forever ...

1: Saint Abdullah, Children at war
2: Allenheimer, Hazemaschisne
3: Dwarves, Free cocaine
4: Never thought of it as forever
5: Dumb Vision, All dried out
6: Inland Taipan, ? (Windmill, London 13/3/18)
7: Nicolas Gaunin, Rongo
8: Great Ytene, Mono aware
9: Rod Taylor & Peter Ranking, True history
10: Jeppe Hoejgaard, Skrig hvis du har lunger
11: Freedom and empathy and tolerance
12: Wooden Indian Burial Ground, ? (Shacklewell Arms, London 13/3/18)
13: Rhys Chatham, Guitar trio
14: Needles/Pins, Drugs in my room
15: Caroline Devine, City of things
16: Orchestra Of St Luke’s, Concerto in A minor for violin (1) [JS Bach]
17: On Hiatus, Imaginary friend
18: Hussy, ? (Windmill, London 13/3/18)
19: BELP, Travelling thru galaxies
20: Fresh BC, Elm Street
21: Interval, Another time
22: Maceo & All The King’s Men, Thank you for letting me be myself again

Monday, 9 April 2018

Never mind Can, what about the can-can?

"Shouts, laughter, furious music, a bewildering chaos of darting and intermingling forms, stormy jerking ... bobbing heads, flying arms ... and then a final rush, riot, a terrific hubbub and a wild stampede!"

Hey, sounds like a fun gig. What was it? Some hardcore madness? A drum 'n' bass bash? Grime? Drill? Nope. The can-can, as described by Mark Twain during a visit to Paris in 1867.

Ah, we modern post-punk, post-rock (post-everything) know-it-alls are just innocents abroad ... 

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Dumb Vision, dumb fandom

One of the things (one of the many things) I rail against on this blog is dumb fandom. People who rather mindlessly express their admiration - even adulation - for certain bands or certain kinds of music. Badge wearers. T-shirt wearers. "Fans" in general. All kinds of hero-worshipping is anathema to me. It just grates. Wrong track, wrong speed. Take the bloody record off ...

Anyway, in typical contradictory fashion, what have I now gone and done? I've only been to a gig and come away with band merch! Yes, actual product. Bundled up and carted off from a gig. For fuck's sake! What's the world coming to?

Anyway, here it is ...

In my defence: it was kind of accidental and it wasn't particularly expensive. Having tracked down a gig in the Ukrainian Village area of Chicago yesterday I bought the (rather snazzy) orange-red Dumb Vision tape for $5 in a rush of blood (probably caused from entering a warm environment after freezing half to death pounding the punishingly cold streets of Chicago all day). The sticker was free, so was the t-shirt.

And the non-fandom doesn't end there. I hadn't heard any Dumb Vision music when I bought these little items, and ... I still haven't. Two bands were enough last night and I didn't stick around for the actual band in question. Oh dear. I'm definitely not doing this right. 

So when I've found out what Dumb Vision actually sound like I'll then be confronted with a tricky decision about whether to wear the t-shirt (do I disregard my own dictum about never wearing band t-shirts? Hmm ...). 

So, who knows? Maybe in a few days' time I'll be out and about in east London proudly modelling a Dumb Vision t-shirt. It'll be great. People will look on curiously. "Who's that Dumb Vision fan over there?", they'll say to themselves. "They're really cool. I didn't even know they had t-shirts. Blimey, he must have bought it directly off the band or something. He must be a real fan ...".

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Alone and afraid, Noisepod #15 (Mar 2018)

Hark! Is that a new Niluccio on noise Noisepod? Yes, I do believe it is.

This little canine has already heard it. That's why his ears are like that. But hey, this dog digs noise and you should too. So lend an ear. Turn it up and then ... turn it up again. Otherwise ... er, otherwise you'll be alone and afraid ...

1: Ataraxia, Smile of my future
2: Perspex Flesh, Feeding time
3: Integrity, Beasts as gods
4: Ilsa, Foreign lander
5: Youth Avoiders, Control
6: Beards, Infinite lawn
7: The paradox
8: Part Chimp, The Saturn supersition
9: Fix Me, Funcionario
10: Deformity, No time
11: Please, Believe!, Decaying, you grow
12: Vastusta, Natsiäpärät
13: Neura, Bajo control
14: Dig the grave
15: 2.5 Children
16: Stooges, No fun
17: The Ethical Debating Society, Kill you last
18: Fist Of Fury, Inserted rage
19: Bo Gritz, Leads
20: Amorous Dialogues, Bodies of water
21: I’m so alone and afraid
22: Ty Segall, You're the doctor
23: The Damned, Neat neat neat
24: Sick Fix, Beyond the map
25: Hygiene, National Front tea party
26: Genocide Pact, Agnogenesis
27: Penis In Vagina, 08
28: Its biggest crackdown
29: Slowcoaches, No brainer
30: Nomad, 自殺
31: White Rose Movement, Speed
32: Calm The Fire, Chce mi sie wyc
33: Enforcers, The end is near
34: Harmony of collective murder
35: Defeat, Violated peace

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Teeth blown out, Dubpod #21 (Mar 2018)

I have an occasional disagreement with my otherwise devoted partner over the question of amplification. My dearly beloved seems to think that music - specifically classical music - shouldn't be amplified. It's "fake" if you do that. It's not how it is in the concert rooms or at the opera. So we're supposed to only play stuff in the flat at the same volume at which (unamplified) musicians would themselves play it. 

Hmm. I'm not convinced. In my view, music is often far better heard at artificially loud volumes. Not least dub, cranked up until it's reverberating in synch with your own roiling internal organs. Sometimes when I pay this stuff I can't tell whether the neighbours are banging on the ceiling because it's disturbing them or it's just ... some random ricochet effect within the cacophonous sound that's taken over everything my overloaded senses can take in. Great! 

So I recommend you ignore the "room-temperature" idea of natural playback and instead play this dubpod regularly and at ever-increasing volume. You'll know when you've got the dialled-up decibel level just right. It'll be that moment when your teeth are blown out ...

1: King Tubby's, A murderous dub
2: Barry Brown, Step it up
3: Bim Sherman/Scorpio, Love forever
4: Dub Specialist, Still dubbing
5: Lone Ranger, Natty dread on the go
6: One Jesus
7: Freddie McKay, (I'm) a free man
8: The Upsetters, Vibrate dub
9: Hortense Ellis, Woman of the ghetto
10: Gregory Isaacs, On the edge
11: Ashanti Waugh, Police police
12: Triassic interlude
13: Hugh Mundell, Thinking about
14: The Revolutionaries, Natty dread dub
15: Alton & Zoot, Oppression
16: Wailing Souls, Don't fight it
17: Dennis Alcapone, Mosquito one
18: Had his teeth blown out
19: SKRSINTL, SoundTekOva
20: Twinkle Brothers, Jahoviah (12 mix)
21: Prophets, Warn the nation
22: Wayne Wade, Yabby You lord of lord
23: Big Youth, Lightning flash (weak heart drop)
24: Sammy Dread, Wat wah

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Field notes from an indie lepidopterologist

Vladimir Nabakov once famously said "It is not improbable that had there been no revolution in Russia, I would have devoted myself entirely to lepidopterology and never written any novels at all”.

Thus, in a subtle homage to the great butterfly-fancier, I give you my own mounted specimens ...

Not rare butterflies, but exquisite band badges (Indii pin badges rarum). Discovered in the wild (ie at various gigs in the United Kingdom) they provide the indie lepidopterologist with a unique insight into several now very rare (possibly extinct) species. Some have even believed to have mutated into popular variants of the musician class: moths to the flame of indiepop stardom.

Sad to say, despite having quite a liking for the band The Butterflies Of Love, I don't yet have a badge of theirs. Like Nabakov, I shall continue my hunt until I finally track one down ...

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Ceci n'est pas un guitare

Socket, with their non-revolutionary guitar
(Windmill, London 13/3/18)

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Only pinheads wear pin badges

I was in need of a few drawing pins this afternoon (vital decorative work in the flat) and whilst hunting around for some I came across this little stash of ... er, pins.

Pins as in pin badges (or just badges where I'm from). Nice, aren't they?

The thing is with these little steel lapel badges - I've never felt much of an urge to wear them. I certainly did have a Stiff Little Fingers one when I was about 14-15, and I think I had a couple more at the time or soon after: Dead Kennedys? Undertones? But since then (since leaving school): my lapels have remained unadorned and totally badge-free.

Which is fine. As I mentioned years ago in a blog on band t-shirts, I'm not into the walking-promo-for-this-or-that-musical-outfit thing, though I can still appreciate the aesthetics of a well-designed t-shirt, a hoodie or indeed a badge.

The thing with band badges, I guess, is that the very small ones are a design challenge in their own right. How much info and artwork can you cram onto something that's about 2.5cm in diameter? Cram into it and still have something vaguely comprehensible.

Actually, I don't even know myself what some of these particular badges are about. I've acquired them quite haphazardly at various gigs (mostly in London) in the last 15 years or so. Which reminds me: the other day I read a comment from a person in a band currently doing the rounds in London in which they went out of their way to denigrate "London indie in 2006". Yeah, right mate. You're much better than that. Bloody indie bands from London doing stuff that was probably way better than your own over-hyped efforts in 2018.

I'm guessing that a fair few of the pins in the photo above are indeed from that golden year 2006 (Neils Children and Comanechi for example). I ought to start wearing them. Let's hear it for London indie from 2006. Let's hear it for pinheads like me.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

In and around London, Podcast #151 (Feb 2018)

More of yer faves, lovingly assembled by me, Niluccio. Yep, it's podcast #151. I assume you've already heard the preceding 150, played them to death and are ... eager to hear more. Well, good. I hope you enjoy it.

But, if by some chance you're unhappy with the music on offer. And you're inclined to seek me out, to take me to one side and let me know in no uncertain terms what you think of my miserable taste in music. Well OK, fine. Look me up. We'll thrash it out. You'll find me in and round London ...

1: Cord Boys, Free your mind
2: In and around London
3: Intercision, CTRL ALT DLT
4: Max Kuiper & Thorsten Soltau, I
5: Aninoko, Palabra de honor
6: Tropical Waves, Mujay lagtha hai
7: The Hathaway Family Plot, Noise compliant
8: Electric Ferrets, I don’t care
9: Lazy Pilgrims, ? (Shacklewell Arms, London 26/2/18)
10: Metalogue, Content lost (Sekt & Metalogue)
11: Please, Believe!, Burning questions
12: Vastusta, Ei päämäärää
13: Little Richard, Jenny, Jenny
14: Magna Ingress, Thee ninth sigil
15: Bangumi Crew, Vst Cruisers vs The Shit Invaders
16: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Showgirls pt 1 & 2
17: Adventures In Stereo, Nobody’s scared
18: Jim Nastic, Chanting
19: Ricky Hell & The Voidboys, All 6’s
20: Me Rex, Goodbye forever
21: Neura, Presidio
22: Ninjah Fareye, Jah lives (zombie Jah)
23: Negative Space, Open secret
24: Deformity, Shards

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Confessions of a born-again vinyl junkie

I'm not sure how it happened, but in the past year I seem to have fallen into the habit of buying quite a few second-hand records.

You know - vinyl. That stuff everyone's been banging on about ("vinyl revival" etc ). That people have been putting into their godawful cafés or hotels to make them seem "hip". And that "vinyl-only" DJs have been bragging about playing as if it's some kind of virtue in itself.

Yes, records. Oldish ones. All scratchy and clogged up with dust. Shoved unceremoniously into torn paper sleeves and discoloured, creased and generally fucked-up cardboard sleeves. And (perhaps most annoying of all) often adorned with several layers of record shop price labels which will only come off if you scratch away at the sleeve until there's a hole (great).

As I've previously mentioned (yeah, I'm a bit of a broken record myself), I became thoroughly bored and vaguely repulsed years ago by all the vinyl fetishising that had been going on. Doubtless it was itself a small-scale reaction to the endless marketing of digital players and music on phones - but still, how tiresome. And yet ... strange to say, I've probably ended up buying more records in the past 12 months than in any other period of my life. "Why's that, Niluccio?", I hear you cry. Well ...

Here's the thing. It's cheapness. And curiosity. And some sort of deeper appreciation of records, in all their old-fashioned clunkiness.

Cheapness: for example, yesterday I picked up 20 records (LPs and 12"s) for £10. These included The Fall's Telephone Thing, Gary Clail On-U Sound System's Dreamstealers, UB40's Signing Off, a couple of jazz and hip-hop LPs, and numerous as-yet-to-be-played house/techno/electro 12" singles from artists I'm completely unfamiliar with. At 50p each they're not as cheap as name-your-price downloading (which I do quite a lot of), but definitely ... reasonable.

Just another pile of product

And at this price it's fairly painless to indulge your curiosity. In recent months I must have bought about 30 almost-anonymous 12"s just because they looked vaguely interesting. Nearly all have turned out to be some variant of house/techno/electro, and nearly all have been pretty good.

Which brings me to appreciation. Appreciation for records as records. For me it's not about thinking of records as supremely lovely artefacts or holding them in higher esteem than cassettes or CDs (which I don't). It's not about fetishising records and it's not a comparative issue. Instead, it's a sort of marvelling at the incredible durability of these easily-damaged things. And a sense that they're amazing survivors of decades of ownership/rough handling/neglect/whatever else has happened to them. Most of the ones I've been buying are at least 10-15 years old, with some 40 or even 50 years old. And there they are - in the bloody bargain bins in record shops (the lowest of the low). They've been picked over by all the crate diggers and the new-generation vinyl buyers, and they're still worth getting. And amazingly enough, they nearly all play perfectly well, despite their scratches and their ground-in dirt.

More than 30 years ago I left my job in a record shop and swore I'd never buy another record in one of these awful places. And guess what, dear reader: I never did. Well, not a new one anyway. Since then it's been bits and pieces of second-hand stuff, lots of home-taping (guilty!), lots of downloading and er, going to gigs.

For years I hardly ever went into a record shop, seeing them as the commercial antithesis of all that was artistically worthwhile in music. But in-store gigs have dragged me back. And now I'm hooked.  I crave the stuff! Fresh grooves for my tired old stylus. So please, please hear my plea - gimme some more records! I'm a born-again vinyl junkie and I need my vinyl fix ...

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Verbal knives, Podcast #150 (Jan 2018)

Another month, another Niluccio on noise podcast. Don't you just love the internet! This one's officially the best of the 150 I've done so far (23,850 still to go). But if you dislike it, please don't cut me with your verbal knives ...

1: Baleine3000, The nap (Aidons Antoine remix)
2: UK Gold, Off duty nuns
3: l.D.I., Puchis máis
4: Socket, ? (Windmill, London 18/1/18)
5: The Leather Nun, Dance dance dance
6: Plastic Tones, Boring party
7: SBSM, Invisible/Cyclical
8: Max Roach, Garvey’s ghost
9: G.L.O.S.S., Trans day of revenge
10: Paul Jacobs, ? (Shacklewell Arms, London 15/1/18)
11: Ivan Pejović, To be discontinued
12: Ghosts On Tape, Mogadishu night life
13: Verbal knives
14: The Cowboy, The cowboy
15: Slim Harpo, I got love if you want it
16: Spill Gold, ? (Victoria, London 28/1/18)
17: Acrylics, Gluttony
18: David Asko, Techno therapy
19: Erik Nervous, Children stabbing things
20: Treehouse, ? (Flashback Records, London 27/1/18)
21: Final Void, Ancient nuclear alien gods
22: Germ House, Showing symptoms
23: Sonny Jackson, My babe
24: Bo Gritz, ? (Windmill, London 18/1/18)

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Fall familiarity factor

There was a lot of forgettable “maverick genius” gush around when Mark E Smith died last month, much of it involving lame references to “hitting the north” and Smith’s Prestwich roots.

I sifted through some of it, including the better stuff from WIRE and some old NME interviews. In the end, though, none of it altered my views on Smith or The Fall. At his best: an amazing lyricist. At their best: an amazing band.

Over the years, Fall music has seeped in. The lyrics have infiltrated my addled mind and … made it even more addled. You only really notice this when you go back to something like Hex Enduction Hour. The whole bloody LP is full of stuff that’s been swirling around in my brain ever since I first heard it. Half of it I’ve misremembered, or I’ve retained fragments that don’t make sense (then again, “sense” isn’t exactly what the full lyrics add up to either).

The Fall familiarity factor is at its most unnerving when a MES-ian line is triggered by something heard on the radio or when someone uses a particular phrase in conversation. It’s hard to resist the temptation to sing/snarl it back at them …

(Pic: goro memo) 

Here are some of the Hex Enduction Hour snippets (just to confine it to that one LP) that always trip me up, come to me unbidden when I’m walking along, or that just lie around uselessly in my head, taking up valuable space:

Hey there, fuckface! Hey there, fuckface!

Where it is I can’t remember / But now I can remember / Now I can remember

Made with the highest British attention to the wrong detail

Obsolete units surrounded by hail

Message for yer! Message for yer!

I’ve never felt better in my life

He-e-e-e-e is not / Appreciated

I talk a walk down West 11

It wasn't quite like what you thought

Cosy winter

Gimme the lead, gimme the lead, gimme the lead

I’ll take both of you on, I’ll take both of you on

I just looked round / And my youth it was over

Just step sideways

Longhorn, longhorn breed

Yeah, you could make a good song with these. Or The Fall could have done.

Well, fine. Music works like this even with dire quality stuff. But with The Fall you’re pummelling your brain with surreal rants while a drum-and-bass chug-and-grind bashes the stuff into your subconscious. You’re helpless! Mentally invaded by a slurring, delirious Mark E Smith!

So yes, there is a ghost in my house. Or rather in my brain. And it’s the ghost of Mark E Smith. Fag and pint of lager in one hand. Mic in the other. He’s yelping and growling some gibberish. It’s all rather menacing. Like a page from Kafka. What’s he on about? And why is he using my thoughts to harass me like this …?

Monday, 29 January 2018

Disposable heroes of musical hypocrisy

I've banged on before about the bewildering tendency people have to just throw away perfectly good stuff.

CDs - chuck 'em. Books - bung 'em. Musical instruments - stop making music with 'em and sling 'em in the street.

In the trash, bin, garbage, dumpster.

I'm ranting like this because of a little incident from last week. So there I am, meandering through a back-alley of Shoreditch in east London (as is my wont), when what do I come across but ... a rather large electric piano thing. Dumped. It was out in the rubbish with some office furniture. None of which looked beyond repair. In fact, the opposite - it all looked quite good.

The piano in question was apparently a Williams Encore, a rather clunky-looking thing in a vaguely "retro" faux-wood cabinet. Not exactly beautiful, but then so what if it makes music?

Anyway, this particular story of musical mistreatment has a happy ending. A colleague at the place where I work kindly salvaged it and passed it on to a friend of his who can apparently make use of it (I'm told it works well enough, albeit that one of the keys is faulty).

Why do people throw away things like this? If stuff works/has some possible value to someone, can't they pass them on? Presumably, though, that would be too much trouble. As you may have noticed, we're living in a distinctly weird hyper-consumerist society dominated by advertising, gleaming new products and instant online purchases. Inevitably, "old" things are forever at risk.

And the people who own items like electric pianos, notwithstanding that they presumably like music and might even affect a vaguely "cultural/spiritual" persona based on this, are often still depressingly quick to abandon whatever's deemed outmoded. So scuffed-up stuff like the poor old Encore gets knifed in the alley.

So yes, dear reader, we're living in a world of disposable musical hypocrisy. Out with old, in with that new overpriced thing I've just got from Amazon. But let's - just for once - take a moment to appreciate the underappreciated. Let's put our hands together for all those chucked-in-the-alleyway musical instruments. Come on! Let's reclaim them from the rubbish and get them back on stage! One more time. Let's hear it for the junked instruments. Encore! Encore! Encore!

So I've just received this photograph of the instrument in question, happily nestling in its new place of abode. 

How sweet, no? Now it'll be properly treasured, playing with loving hands, admired by friends and family. Except ... that exposed brick wall might remind the poor traumatised keyboard of how it was thoughtlessly thrown into the alley. And there's a rather too-nearby-for-comfort rubbish bin ...


Sunday, 28 January 2018

We've got repetition in our music and we're never gonna lose it ...

"The Fall were an English post-punk band, former in 1976 in Prestwich, Greater Manchester ..." (Wikipedia, January 2018).

Pic: from Punk 365

Friday, 19 January 2018

Loser lost in music

Bo Gritz, getting lost in the chaos of noise: Windmill, Brixton, London 18/1/18

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Certain groups, Podcast #149 (Dec 2017)

Certain groups (and other practitioners of musical production) appear on this podcast ...

1: Visionist, Rock the flock (Diskotopia dub)
2: Hater, Had it all
3: Filmy Ghost & Uunslit, The last gestures of a ghost
4: Cold Boys, ? (Flashback Records, London 8/12/17)
5: Unknown Child, Fast car
6: Certain groups
7: Lab Coast, Walking on ayr
8: Kenny Floreat, I’m alright
9: Monkeeastronaut, Dissociative hallucinogenic compounds
10: Ouch My Face, The hammer
11: JJ Johnson, Jay
12: How was it possible?
13: Zyanose, Chipping song of bird
14: Holiday Ghosts, In my head
15: Boska, Hiddenseer
16: Fraser A Gorman, Blossom & snow
17: Youth Avoiders, Cold mines
18: Member states
19: Rigly Chang, Runnin bootleg
20: Night Shop, So smart
21: Summer, Wynona
22: Mars89, Throbbing pain
23: Earl King, Darling honey angel child
24: East Brunswick All Girls Choir, 14 Clay Gully Court
25: Gomme, Cut your finger
26: Ben Chapman, Je t’aime (12” mix)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

History of swearing, Noisepod #14 (Dec 2017)

Most people need more noise in their lives. Or so I like to think. So, sit up straight, uncork your ears, and put your hands together for ... history of swearing ...

1: Bolt Thrower, Cenotaph
2: Los Crudos, Desde el barrio
3: Mysterious Skin, Not my riot
4: Roht, Sama hvað
5: Death Pedals, Count of none
6: The Drills, Skate tough
7: History of swearing
8: Chemos, Barrier characters
9: Entombed, Full of hell
10: Henry Blacker, The grain
11: White Stripes, Jumble, jumble
12: Cold Sweat, The world is a grave
13: Insufferable, Here//alone
14: In infamy
15: The Fall, Pay your rates
16: Hey Colossus, Hey, dead eyes, pp!
17: Kind Eyes, Tunneller
18: 100 Demons, Ne desit virtus
19: The Lost Riots, Our generation
20: The safeties of the past
21: Beards, Infinite lawn
22: Other Sources, Condemned
23: Sex Pistols, No fun (demo)
24: Orden Mundial, Son fantasmas
25: Nomad, 人生
26: Slowcoaches, Surface observations
27: If this brain was destroyed
28: Witching Waves, Creeping
29: Wound Man, Rot
30: Negative Rage, Dirty hands
31: Penis In Vagina, 15
32: The Love Triangle, Future tense
33: Technical Ecstacy, Blackhole
34: Mordant, Ruined machine

Attributable to human error, Dubpod #20 (Dec 2017)

Escape the tedium of Christmas with ... a new Niluccio on Noise dubpod. You know it makes sense.

Now I'm aware that some people think dub isn't really a superior kind of music at all. Shockingly, they don't even think it's that good. But they're wrong. Very wrong. And why do they make such mistakes? It's attributable to human error ...

1: King Tubby, Morpheus special
2: Burning Spear, Throw down your arms
3: The Revolutionary Hell & Fire, Multitude dub
4: Freddie & Brentford Disco Set, Rasta revolution
5: Augustus Pablo & The Crystalites, Bass & drum version
6: Attributable to human error
7: Dennis Brown & The Crystalites, Concentration version two
8: Hugh Mundell/Augustus Pablo, Thinking about (version)
9: The Viceroys, Heart made of stone
10: Glenmore Brown, South East rock
11: Ras Menelik, Chant down apartheid
12: Last gestures of a ghost
13: Jennifer Lara, A change gonna come
14: Herbert Chang, Coming of Jah
15: Sons Of Light, Land of love
16: Visionist, Rock the flock (Diskotopia dub)
17: Scientist, Their hands in blood
18: Clipped to perfection
19: The Eclips Band, Vision
20: Full Experience, Can't see you
21: I Roy, Cossone affair
22: Prince Alla, Their reward
23: 食品まつ, Amenbo wodori
24: John Holt, Change your style/Hooligan
25: Big Dread, Fire

Thursday, 14 December 2017

A year in music: seven random things

The precedent was set last year with my awkward "eight random things" post. Now, being a craven creature of habit, I've got to keep it going. Dredging up a few more oddities from my year in music. So here they are ...

Biggest purchase
Not having actually purchased any new vinyl/tapes/CDs from a record shop for 30 years (really), I changed my habits slightly this year and splashed a cool £26 on a little bunch of CDs and 7" singles from the Brighton record label Faux Discx. An online order in their closing-down sale (RIP Faux Discx). Rather rash of me? Sure was. But I liked the look of their stuff and knew some of the bands, so ... why not? Turns out the music I bought was uniformly good so ... er, well done me. (Now I think about it, by the way, this £26 must be the MOST money I've ever spent in one go on music products in my entire life. Next: hundreds spent on Discogs. Ruinously expensive copies of Joy Division first pressings, £200 reggae singles ... ).

Bands missed because of excessive earliness
I can't remember who the bands actually were, but I must have missed four or five outfits this year (like every year) through what I can only describe as excessive earliness. On the musicians' part, not mine. They'd been and gone by something like 8.55pm. In one case I got to the gig at that oh-so-late hour of 9.40 to find the whole thing had finished. Blimey. What's the rush? Why do gigs start and finish so early? Even in a supposedly "happening" city like London? Time for musicians to put their clocks back.

Music listened to
As ever, it's a lot more than the stuff in this puny list, but things that come to mind (with a little mental prodding) are:

Cold Pumas, Persistent Malaise (an album's worth of subtle indie-cum-math-rock sounds)
Allister Thompson, My name is death (genuinely haunting darker-than-dark death-folk)
KidNNasty, Don't knead drugs (excellent chiptune/techno weirdness)
Ye Olde Maids, Cocoa cherubs (an abrupt wall of electro pop-noise)
Ewan MacColl, Four loom weaver (ancient-sounding Geordie blues)
Mean Motor Scooter, Sam, the homosapien (swaggering garage rock)
Albert Chevalier, ‘E can’t take a roise out of oi (enjoyable musical hall skit-song)
Flying Species, Electric zygoptera part II (insectoid electro glitch stuff)
Anna McLellan, Demos (fragile, lovely emo-pop)
Phibes, We run tingz (excellent drum 'n' bass)
Cigarettes, They're back again, here they come (buzzy new wave)
Dog Legs, Toot toot (hey) (rambunctious/cutesy garage rock stuff)
Witching Waves, Creeping (also garage rock-ish, though more urgent and pounding)
Glue, Testimony (compulsive hardcore-edged noise rock)
Rival Youth, TV dinner (rather epic stoner rock)
Mingus Three, Summertime (a cool, twangy version)
Clint Eastwood & General Saint, Tribute to General Echo (an infectious DJ skanker)

And, of course, lots of other stuff. Do you listen to my monthly podcasts, or what?

Best things found in the street
Not only did I lean all the way down to the pavement to pick up a stash of free-for-anyone-to-take CDs on one previously-blogged-about occasion, but I also found a copy of Kevin & Tanja Grouch's Sun King book. Thrown away! A perfectly good book - dumped in the street (Homerton, east London) along with several other decent books. What's wrong with people? Answers on a postcard please. Though be warned: I'll just throw the cards away if you send them through ...

Don't be cruel to books about music

Another shout-out for classical
As with last year's fascinating random things post, I'm here to stand up for The Classical. Courtesy of my CD player-hogging partner, my year's been saturated in Handel, Purcell, Monteverdi, Bach and, recently, a new entry into the domestic classical canon, Arvo Pärt. I'm not complaining. It's great music. I even played a snatch of Wagner in a radio show I did. You should listen to all two hours of it to catch that 35 seconds of Wagner. It's worth it.

Best second-hand stuff purchased
Having apparently found an urge to buy more music in general, it's also true that I acquired a fair few second-hand items this year - mostly vinyl (LPs and 12"s), but also a few CDs. Best ones? The Buff Medways' 1914, Volcano The Bear's rather amazing Five Hundred Boy Piano, The Red Guitars' Marimba Jive, Alex Campbell's Sings Folk, and ... quite a lot of other stuff. Some of which I haven't even got around to playing yet. I really should stop rambling on in these stupid blog posts and listen to some music ...

Most annoying things at gigs
As regular readers will know, there's always fierce competition in this category. The list of things that can potentially disturb me when I'm out watching music is pretty much endless: too many people, too few, inane on-stage announcements (especially aimed at flogging merchandise), bouncers bothering you at the door, people crashing into you as they get rowdy in the moshpit. On and on. This year I got worked up over people indulging in those tiresome screech-whistles. Look at me, they seem to be saying. I'm at a gig and I'm enjoying it. Just watch me whistle! Loud, isn't it ..?

And that, it seems, is that. Last year I had eight random things, this year only seven. Standards are slipping ...


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 ...