Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Saw A Ship In The Harbour: Colonsay - Oronsay, Day 1

I took so many pics on my week long trip to Scotland, mainly to the islands Colonsay and Mull, I can't show them all so these are from travelling from Oban, a port town connecting many islands with the mainland and allegedely the town featured in Alan Warners novels (since he grew up there), and mainly from my first day exploring the remote islands of Colonsay and Oronsay on foot. There is a mile long stretch of shallow sand between the islands that you can only cross in low tide, you've got about 5 hours each day when you can go over to Oronsay, where there is a farm and the ruins of a priory said to be connected to the famous island of Iona, including a 6th century cross. It's an eerie, quiet place with fantastic views over to the next islands. The Strand, as the space between the islands is known, is a spectacular scene at low tide with the awesome scenery all around you and fantastic visual textures overlaying the wet sand... the pictures don't seem to post in the right order, nevermind, you get the idea.

Colonsay - Oronsay, pt. 2

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bad Brains "House of Suffering" Daytona Beach 1988

"At the Movies", live in NYC in the early days

"House of Suffering", Daytona Beach, 1988

Yesterday I went to the Astoria Box Office to buy a ticket for the original Bad Brains who are doing a short 4 date Euro tour, also taking in Amsterdam (the Paradiso, no less!), Brussels and Cologne, exactly the kind of tour a lot fans wished GBV would have done on their final tour. I'm tempted to do the whole tour, as the distances between cities is manageable and I've already done the Amsterdam - Cologne - Brussels route following GBV once in '02 and it was, uknow, RAD! or fab, or whatever - the way the cities blend into each other is quite stunning, lets put it that way...

The ticket would have cost about nine pounds more with Ticketmaster, who would have insisted on posting it to me, so making the trip to Tottenham Court Road to get it without *any* surchage really was a good move, despite having to face the smoggy and touristy West End on a Saturday afternoon.

So the see, I saw them once in 88, in the Graben club in St Gallen, Switzerland, and it was just one of these things, one of those show I'll never forget, the energy was just incredible (see the second video from the same time taken on a beach, the passion of the delivery is breathtaking!). A friend of mine at the time (I was living and studying at Constance Uni) was big into Reggae, and so was I and quite a few friends, it was a bit of a thing then, but he was also very much into the Bad Brains, a band of rastas playing speedy melodic hardcore punk and dub reggae . They were just extraordinary. I fell in love with their album "Quickness" which is somewhat overlooked these days but features some of their most complex and mysterious songs, and quickly also their back catalogue including the milestone album "I Against I" and the classic speedy hardcore anthemss of the ROIR cassette and Rock For Light. The energy shifted, became more refined, and closer to the blissout dub vibes that are very prominent on their tasty new album. What I will say is that their songs are super catchy, like two minute holy grails. Play them a few times and they will stick around, they are subtle and sweet even when they're full on fast and noisy, and you can see in these videos how the band themselves is fully *occupied* by the tremendous primal power of this music. Special vibes...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I Predict A Riot: Sonic Youth play "Daydream Nation"

"Daydream Nation" is a legendary album for many people, it continues to loom and tower in the presence but also points back to a maybe purer time, the late eighties, early nineties, it's a very good album no doubt, though to me just one of many very good SY albums. I mainly associate it with listening to it on my ipod at work for some reason, the sound a bit tinny maybe, and the songs a distant wash. I explained yesterday to various people who didn't want to hear it (so I'll do it here too, haha) how I find the SY sound, the signature textured noise pop, a kinda continuum, they're always good, live especially, and they continue doing what they're doing. Still, this Don't Look Back concert, that has now turned into a tour and deluxe edition with an extra disc with all DN tracks from live bootlegs, was something special, a chance to reconnect with the past that showed how they are vital and were even more so maybe then. I listened to Daydream Nation and Rather Ripped, their really very good latest album that ended up on my Top Ten last year, back to back on my ipod at work again (I don't know why DN hasn't shown up on my most played playlist yet!) and felt quite distinctly that i was looking forward to the Rather Ripped segment of the concert too.

Chalk Farm is overrun with young and old people in alt rock t shirts, it's a beautiful scene around The Enterprise where we congregate, though I sneak in early to see the last ten, fifteen minutes of support band Car-Sick Cars , a three piece noise pop band from Beijing (which excuses the band name I think) who are clearly influenced by the headliners, tasty noise collages and fast perky alt pop songs. The scene in the Roundhouse is beautiful too, the space is just great, not too large, good sightlines, etc. though it gets very crowded, and I kinda hate the ten, fifteen minutes before a sold out show, the anticipation, people staking their place and all that. Noone wants to miss "Teenage Riot", the first track of DN that gets played in its entirety. Okay, the whole thing was really great, the songs sound a lot more powerful than on my ipod of course, the noise textures are beautiful, and the vibe *is* close to when I saw them in the 80s in Berlin when it seemd like they were communicating with their guitars on stage. There is a different kind of attention and concentration emanating from the audience and given back by the group, as Kim Gordon explained in the recent Time Out Interview: "Maybe it's just because of the intenseness that the audience is putting on the old songs that I can feel their energy...The Daydream Nation songs have a real density to them..." It's a very complex towering thing that gets fed by both the band and the audience, and the memories I guess, and the flavour switches subtly as they change vocal duties, the two songs sung by Lee were actually real highlights. And the Rather Ripped encore was beautiful too, and well received, it looked like people were actually dancing more, and it felt more relaxed. Second encore and final track was "Schizophrenia" from Sister, an even older album. All in all, a wonderful show, one of the best I've seen by Sonic Youth over the years, the focus on the past, the "looking back" actually worked, it felt rewarding and very intense. I'm very tempted by "The House of Love" gig later in the month.