Thursday, November 23, 2006

Some Pere Ubu videos!

From the recent tour in Utrecht, the song is 'Caroleen' from their last album. Mad theremin playing. Even madder singing. It's short but sweet. Somehow the amazing energy in the room at the show I was at is hard to capture on video and there's shockingly little on da youtube. Nevermind...this one has decent sound at least...

The Modern Dance at the recent San Fran show. Apparently there was trouble at that show..i love the sudden graceful little hand movement midsong...though he looks a bit pissed off.

and a video from the 90s: "Sleepwalk" Hmmmm...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pope Gregs annual Euro visit: Pere Ubu

that's me and Pope Greg in the upstairs bar of the Dog and Duck in Frith Street. He looks a bit subdued. Maybe it's because he's jetlagged. Or maybe because he can't smoke in there, haha. Apparently it was the smallest postal blowfish meeting he's been to in a while. And it was also a smoke free, thanks to me. He comes over from Milwaukee about once a year and spends his Euro vacation in London, Amsterdam and then there's annual variations, this year it was Edinburgh. Three years ago we did GBV in Amsterdam together, a bit of a weird gig actually, drunk and messy, and a bit unfocussed, not as good as the first time we saw GBV at the Paradiso, but still, some good memories... hanging in Gregs hotel room afterwards watching MTV with Martin from Switzerland and his glamorous Russian wife, Simon, Gavin, Vanessa, drinking the bottle of vodka given to me by Sammy Powers (of Superdrag, temporary Euro tour only replacement for Tim Tobias) just before our favourite band drove off in their shitty little rock van. Who would have known it was the last set of dates Bob would ever do over here (unless something happens, maaan, ughhhh)? Last year we had a picknick for Greg on Hampstead Heath with a GBV bootleg theme, only GBV bootlegs got played on my boombox, oh, and Human League and Kate Bush in the later stages because there were a couple of people who weren't fans and they had music wishes too. But mainly GBV bootlegs. It was relatively successful and ended with appropriate drunkenness and later in the evening a pretty good Lou Barlow solo show that was really quiet compared to the next time I saw Lou with the reformed Dino Jr. Greg is, in his own words, "the second biggest GBV fan in Wisconsin", which is still pretty good considering the honourable Rich T. (GBV webmaster and Bob's ascended current tour manager)is from Wisconsin too. Anyway, it's always nice to see him again and he always sugests seeing shows when he's here so this time he asked around whether anyone wanted to join him to see Pere Ubu. He didn't need to ask twice with me...

A couple of people separately compared my long running "weird rock" band Plus to Pere Ubu, i guess the slightly unhinged semi-improvised singing style, and the weird abrasive new wave sensibilities, or whatever, i think there might be some parallels but they stop somewhere too. I finally got around to check out some records and like it a lot. You can see David Thomas perform fairly regularly in the UK as he lives in Hove. Friends of mine say they see him sometimes in an old pub near Hove seafront, where these old beardy guys hang out with their dogs and where they occasionally host little jazz and country gigs. It's a nice pub actually, I've never seen Mr Thomas there though. The only other time I've seen him on stage was with the reformed MC5 at the Royal Festival Hall, doing a spacey full on song with them at the end, don't know which. He was impressively weird then. So at the frankly rubbish Mean Fiddler (apparently it's not going to close for another year, i wouldn't mind it if they'd refurbish it and ban smoking in there, but right now it's unbearable in there when it's sold out)there were a very "Mojo" crowd gathered, and thankfully it wasn't not too packed either. Stan Ridgeway, formerly of Wall of Voodoo, warmed up with a nice sitting- round - the - fire - in - the - desert kinda set, playing some of the favourites too, Mexican Radio, etc.... Me and Greg were sitting on these weird barstools that were too high and didn't have lower ledges to rest your feet so Greg especially seemed to keep sliding off. Apart from that we were sitting comfortable near the stage. As soon as Pere Ubu started though i couldn't stop but going closer and dancing almost from the first beat, and almost all through the set. it was a revelation! It was like ... entering a new sonic space. I was knocked off sideways by it. Hard to explain, but a revelation. Occasionally at gigs I can go fairly mental, lose myself in the experience, and rarely have i experienced a band that encouraged this excessive weirdness, to forget where you are and explore, breathe in and out with the music, in such a controlled, genuine way. They are / were true originators, though Mr Thomas is still in charge and still doing new things. He's fascinating to watch, a bit of a bear, a bit grumpy, but when he starts singing you've got abrasiveness, alienation, and occasionally this beautiful wistful longing feeling too. A theremin, and a very capable, full on rock band supported him. Wonderful material, most of it new I guess. That said the couple of old classics tacked on, spontaneously it seemed, at the end, Sonic Reducer and New Alignment Pact sounded fantastic and euphoric. The new album is very good too though. And I want to explore more.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Halloween: Robert Smith Party (first of two picture posts)

party like it's 1982:

Halloween: Robert Smith Party

It wasn't my idea and it wasn't really our party - it was Aves birthday and she came up with the idea. And it turned out to be a really great party and the visual theme played out very well. Even though not everyone was strictly in theme, it just looked Cure-ish, mixed with the more traditional Halloweeen shenanigans. Special thanks goes to Nataleigh, our resident American, for bringing along lots of Halloweeen-y things like pumpkin pie, fake spiderwebs (on top of the real ones, haha) and being a gorgeous Roberta Smith. As an old Curehead, and, you know, proud of it, I couldn't help really going for it, putting all my Cure stuff together and playing, among other things, the Cure's Greatest Hits, the fabulous "Pornography" deluxe reissue, which I purchased especially for the occasion after hearing about it for ages, "The Top", that incredible Paris 82 bootleg, the Trilogy DVD etc. Great to see everyone! Especially my old neighbour and B'ton soulmate Toni, back for a while from India, who on first re-contact hadn't changed at all, and that's a good thing! when she arrived ,and she was the first, the party started immediately on a good note. Cheers!

scary plus

i can't find the photos i wanted to upload but i've found a jpeg called scary plus. hmmm

Saturday, November 04, 2006

London Film Festival: "Our Daily Bread"

I've been to the London Film Festival. Well, the very last day of it, and because it was the last day i had no big hesitation to see two films in a row. I always seem to catch up with these film festivals at the very end and then get really into it, when it's almost too late, it was the same with the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival a little while ago. I guess it's better than nothing. When it comes to film in London i seriously seem to miss so much but it's near impossible to keep up. I always forget how much i like the NFT as well, once i'm there, especially during one of their many festivals, I want to see almost everything they show, as it's almost always worth seeing. It's a great place to see films and hang out, and it's completely smokefree now as well.

Anyway, on Thursday I finally got to see a film by my cousin, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, who has made several feature length documentaries and is quite well known these days. I've been meaning to see one of his films for ages, but they don't get shown here on TV or in the cinemas and I never got around to find out how to order them. I don't think amazon does them but i now saw that there is an Austrian website where you can order them. I definitely want to see more and will check it out.

"Our Daily Bread" is a series of scenes filmed in food production factories, slaughter houses, plantations, huge industrial complexes where animals are reared, etc, with no further narration, all you hear is industrial noises, animals, and occasionally factory workers chatting casaually. A lot of is very shocking and disturbing, especially the slaughterhouse scenes, and especially if you're a vegetarian (i'm not anymore though seeing stuff like that is making me think about it again, for some reason the way animals are kept and treated and killed is a big touch more shocking und upsetting than the way vegetables are). it doesn't show any, um, alternative ways of food production, smaller scale / organic / freerange / ethical, whatever, and it doesn't have a clear message, and i guess, that is part of its strength too, it's very disorientating and doesn't let you off the hook, so to speak. All you see is huge industrial complexes with some isolated workers who largely seem really detached from what they're doing, well, it is their job, trippy corridors, giant spaces, and occasionally you see these workers having a break, eating, um, in some ways the fruit of their labour... there's a hypnotic quality to some of it, and a morbid fascination to see exactly how things are being done, especially in the slaughterhouse. One scene that sticks in my head is of a blond lady casually cutting off the legs of cows carcasses gliding by...or a shot of pigs being transported to the slaughterhouse. I really, really, really love pigs, ya know, and there were some cute pigs in that van, showing off for the camera almost! So a lot of curious insights, no clear direction and an elegant and overall almost ambient feel. Time Out calls it "a 'Koyaanisquaatsi' for meat and metal fetishists" and that's not too far off in my opinion, haha

I wasn't sure whether i should really stay on but managed to score a ticket for another very good film in Cinema 1. "I Don't want To Sleep Alone" by Tsai Ming-Lian is a long atmospheric sort of love story with hardly any spoken words, set in a slummy city in Malaysia, with long, vaguely horrific, trippy scenes in run down apartments, bedrooms, cafes, corridors, construction sites and an all encompassing smoke/fog during the last bits. By that point I was sort of a vegetable already, I finally got this cold thats been going around and it was the first day of it, and for some reason the films slow-moving but nevertheless captivating and engrossing mood fitted it well. I really liked it. Need to go to the cinema a bit more...there's something about seeing films in such an environment too, however uncomfortable and expensive it can be, there's something about being sucked in together and not being able to switch off that makes it more powerful.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Val di Funes / Villnoesstal (first of three photo posts)

Val di Funes / Villnoesstal

Val Di Funes / Villnoesstal

Back to magnificent South Tyrol, the bit of Tyrol that's already in Italy. I've been there a few times when i was younger with my parents, a long time ago. We were staying in a little flat on a farm, cows outside our door sometimes. Most of the time the weather was very good, and a great time to be there, the autumn colours! on one day we did most of the Adolf Munkel Weg, a relatively easy but spectacular hike directly underneath th Geissler Gruppe peaks that you can see all along the valley. When it started to cloud over a different atmosphere emerged, more mysterious in some ways but intriguing nonetheless.


some photos in and around Asolo...

basement trust

i slide through dust, always hanging on your words, the ones i spoke earlier are scattered into corners and brushed down the stairs, so it's easy for me to see absolutely nothing there, even if i wanted to look. just ghostly traces of dust trailing all the way here. you mean, when the washing and cleaning was still going. and the roof was still there. i don't trust this room, it's been cleaned too many times, but of what? i think it was a car factory, but all transport has left us here, too early to get away. i found you breathing heavily into the basement floor. what was there apart from the dust? a tunnel further? sliding away, you can't hold onto it. it could be anything that was once too close for comfort.

hiding by the chair with the velvet connection still sticking out its behind. a funfair memory invades your room and won't let you go, even in this heat, even when i touched you so simply i couldn't understand. when you follow it through it won't be so bad. long gone whispering over gentle acoustic shapes. the legs of the chair walk all over your imaginary body, long spindly legs, leading you to a clearing where the band starts playing immediately. i knew it would be right for you, right here. but it's not what i wanted for you, my child. look at your eyes, it won't be gone for long. before another master ascends. sit down

the trust i invested never paid off, but i just couldn't stop it. as the stairs descend, rolling down into infinity, i need to raise my face a bit to see clearly through the little slits. madness boils over, as you show me little trickles of blood, a hairy chest, a nipple, everything erased immediately as the magic marker strikes contact. there's an empty stage where the signs live, usually tucked away in boxes. secrets wander aimlessly until a contact point is hit. this i where we live.

you've got to follow the smells first. there's more to it than you think. as if you could jump out of the box and say it and then everything would be alright. i trail behind a bad box and slide into some bones salad, colours flash, and the ghost train runs all over me. i've left out all the bad marks and everything is spring green blossom. until it collapses back into the old basement.

valuable downtime deleted, so ghosts can come closer. i need to prepare for this somehow, but it's too loose and too close in the foreground. dragging it all over the ground like a deranged guitar motive. getting scratchy on the wrong end, as the chorus hoovers you up. my delayed reaction will speed into your mouth. we will band together before the music cuts out. it's in the basement, you know. you need to go there too. we could do it then.

sour edges creeping in. i told you i was stuck in a corridor. blessing different doors, all leading to a square from which you exit. i'm stuck where this went, and i think i need to reload now. go back down the stairs again, learn to trust again. i feel the ghosts are waiting, but it's not my fault. i just played some music on the tube. i went along where they sung and off i went, speeding through the corridors. i want to say something maybe. can i see you now? where are you hiding? is this screen not blank and new enough for you? is there a history to this?

the blade dances on the chest. when they found you they said they had no choice. your hood doesn't fit, obviously, but there's nothing i can do about that now. your speech is slurred. i can't hear you. i'm trying to record you, after i earned you trust, down there in the basement, but all you do is getting all zoomed to extraordinary sizes and then blanking out altogether. the focus is gone, but then the hand reaches out and leads you back into the triangle. i try to clean the air with spit but you don't let me do that for very long. your voice stretches my body into impossible shapes. i get really long before i space out and you get clearer, almost human. my voice sounds weird, like a kiddy voice that's floating through my head, something from the screen inside me. going down the stairs with me. i told you to clean the glass, i can't see anything through that, limbs, muscles, hair, then a soft focus on socks, pants, more screens in the background, a humming sound, then a cat jumps into the foreground and all over you, the camera doesn't turn but there's a sense it's ended right before your eyes. if you could only let it go...if it would only go away...there's nothing i can do about it now.

i fork into a different direction and pick up vague melodies that relate to me when i'm smiley enough. i want to reach them with my hands before the sound fades out and i'm left alone again. turquoise beer bottles follow me and nod before they overtake me, and blow up into gigantic cloud-like shapes, forming things i'd rather not want to signify right now. anything but a smile into the right direction. but as the blood trickles on the basement floor i've lost the connection and swerve into the corner. where were you? did i catch your eye for a second? did you start this noise? i'm no longer married to volume, i've gone over that hill in my head, but were you trying to seduce me once more? i don't know, as you always say.

leave the trail running into the house again and start the car. we're zooming off to find some contrasts. it's for the slideshow later. this house is empty but honest so don't spit now. don't move too much. the house will tell you when to move, it won't be too long. make your face more presentable. don't touch me too much. if you need to do that be careful and don't let it go in too deep. if i can feel it before the time is right i will need to rewind it. and we don't want that right now. can you hear me?

empty heated exchange, meaning nothing, just another wheel rolling over a body. underneath the lucky seat there's a number that morphs into a variety of keys and colours. but only if you know the code. can i trust you? will i colour over later? will i be transparent? will you recognize me? when i lift the stained sheet you will smile right through it before the dog drags it down into the basement.

violent humming over a grey morning, as you slide into bed. have you seen the dust over everything? the spots? this is where you belong. a mountain of dirt. don't feel too bad about it too. if you want to get to the bottom, you need to trust the voice. steps leading upstairs are blocked. windows closing. only a faded melody holds you still. something hairy comes closer. when you ... realize the claws opening up and redesigning your face step out of the enclosure, follow the stream to another nest. be yourself for once. terror holds you still until you realize. it was during a trip like this that you lost your previous reality. but now as it comes back and you feed it back to life it's changed again. you're not so there anymore as if it really was a big bite, and not just a nibble taken out.

the room clears to ancient white, but maybe that's just another way to drape it, push it into druggy confidence. another flight of fancy. nothing so much as a prison in itself. another sip of the wine confirms what you've lost. you need to get out and breathe again, but you've lost the key, you've lost trust in that room that will lead you out when it's still possible. words express deep, dark regrets, though only shallow little lies hide beneath, it's dark and primal greed when it comes down to it. touching you all over now, especially from behind where you can't face it. slowly the knives come out.

as blood streams all over your body and cleanses the flesh the tv goes on and advertises endless abstract lines holding onto a hope that goes ever further to disguise the miserable facts. the subway opens and swallows you. as you go to work, someone whispers in your sleep to switch off the lamp now. let darkness begin, or something. alien sounds wake you up as you progress through the corridor. some production facility. you wave and point to the points of entry and they shake their heads. it's nothing to do with me, they say. it's war but not as you know it.

shake off the sweat too and reach out into the steam. the knife has finally vanished now but you're still downstairs, chained to the wall, with no light in sight, and it feels like you're never going to get out again. "beware of the beast", the advert sings, "it's watching you" then the radio cuts in, and someone finds the right prison frequency to lull you into thinking that the revolution is near. the hands encircle the tree in the middle foreground that will sprout and bounce up through the surface. i want to imagine it getting greener, cleaner, better but all it does is cut out the light further. it confuses you. it will bring confusion.

come back to what you know. you've never been there before, so all it does is giving you a voice that is different to what you've heard before. another layer, another room, morphing into flesh but never realizing its ambition. give back the knives, the claws, the hunger, and all the nervous dances you devised. give back all that you trusted. as i boom ever closer you collapse, and finally we're enlightened.
La Regina Cornaro in Asolo

The queen arrives in Asolo. a monk (?) is describing every single movement in his amplified camp Italian voice. fierce tribal drumming. for a moment i'm on a filmset.

you can just about feel the tension in the air.

an old lady watches from a balcony.

usually this place is very sleepy.

this happens here every year to reenact the arrival of the Regina Cornaro in the beautiful hilltop town of Asolo. i think she's taking it over from Venice, this is 500 or so years ago. it all really happened.

Asolo is surrounded by grand old villas, some of them a bit faded, gardens, vineyards, and there's a castle ruin high above it from where you can already see the Alps.

the wine is very good around here, and pretty cheap. there's a great little wine bar in town, could almost be a gay bar. loungey music. no smoking everywhere.

another grappa please!