Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Plus Rehearsal in Brighton

We've started rehearsing in Brighton on Saturdays. Don't know why I hadn't thought of that before - John - one third of the band, no less - lives there anyway - and it's nice to come down and good to have a reason to do so. Also Saturday afternoons are much nicer than weekday evenings after work. Plus this is how the band started anyway - Saturday afternoons in my old flat in Kemptown. Joining us today was John's friend Pete who has recently started playing bass and wanted to just "check it out". Chris thought he was pretty good considering he was only playing for two months. It kinda changed the dynamic a bit and made it slightly harder to concentrate on what else was going on, since Chris seems to play quite few things at the same time quite frequently, including basslines. But that eventually focussed me, and everyone else I guess, and we played out with a really good string of older ones. Looks like we're playing a gig in Brighton soon...

We rehearse in this studio called Monster which is basically an industrial unit right in Shoreham harbour, quite an odd place but it's nice to go down to the waterfront during breaks, and the rooms are okay, and everything looks really new, the mic stand works for me (and I do have problems with some mic stands, haha)! On Saturdays at least the place feels almost like a youth project. We felt a bit out of place. Conversation in the corridor: "How old are you?" - "Twelve" - "Are you in a band?" - (more animated) "Yes" - "Wow - What are you called?" - "Trip Hazard" - "Cool, I'll look out for you"... Later on we're in the port area just outside of the studio and I notice the first sign there says "Caution! Trip Hazard". Super sweet! I'll rename that Pollard-style into "Tribute Hazard". That's what we are - whatever it means!

Oh yeah, dig the wig!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gavin's birthday EP, Sludgefeast, etc.

I haven't done this before. So bear with me. If you go here: http://www.box.net/shared/kxhmgibpfb you can listen to three tracks that me and Chris recorded in our nifty little "home studio" last Saturday. Recording with Garageband is really impressive if you ask me, fairly clear sounding, nice effects, etc.

They're not in the right order either, but anyway

1 Rotating futures (Helium Voice mix) - yes, that' s me with the helium voice treatment. You don't want to use effects like these too often, haha, but it works a treat. The lyrics sound kinda like I want them to sound, over the top, creepy, with an added layer of alien sweetness. I like the hushed barely audible first-take vocals layer grounding it underneath. Whenever we record , on at least one or two tracks we end up using two or even three vocal layers, and quite a few effects, reverb, etc. I dunno, I like hiding in these effects and layers, it works for me, and I don't want the lyrics to be too clear. The lyrics here are from a notebook entry where I'm reflecting on something ou might want to call Retro-futurism or something like that, scribbling down thoughts and impressions while simultaneously watching old and new sci fi movies. I use the same entry and another one in the last song, they're at least partly about an environmental conscience that was missing at the time the future was imagined in this old sci fi stuff but is overhanging it now, all these kitschy, now slightly rusty and outmoded looking utopias that have contributed to an environment and a way of living that is basically unsustainable for much longer, and generally a reflection on shifting times and shifting perceptions of the future. I used these notebook entries for this blogpost (some of the "helium voiced" lyrics from "Rotating futures" are found here, and I like the way the text is recorded, slightly warped, out of kilter, unsettling and pseudo-cute) and also as a brainstorming, kinda stream of consciousness exercise for this experimental science fiction novel I've started writing a while ago (it's gonna take a while before that is ever finished...)

2. Flickering Curtain

3. Walking the foodmiles. This is probably my favourite of the three. A weird, warped pop song about "trashing the planet like an old hotel room of the past" . I want to use that title for stuff in the "future".

So since this was Gavins birthday weekend, the EP is dedicated to him, happy birthday, Gavin!
After we finished recording for the day we ate and headed out to the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town to see Sludgefeast and Winners (and missed three other bands before them) . I didn't really know that Winners consist of three (out of four) ex-members of Do Me Bad Things, and you can still hear a certain exuberance and willingness to rock that is vaguely reminiscent of the DMBTs but there is also a more leftfield indie/powerpop thing going on, I hear Pavement and my beloved Superdrag in quite a few of the songs. Explains why Tom (ex-DMBTs drummer) told me the next Do Me Bad Things album would "sound like Pavement". That sounded so incongruous at the time, and alas, it wasn't to be as the DMBTs imploded soon after but I see how this has been channeled into the Winners project. A winner in my book.

Sludgefeast: short, mostly one - to - two minute songs, um, limited vocabulary ("mf come on"), superheavy riffs, shades and in James' case a fake American accent and big hair. Excellent live band. The night before I saw them play a completely different set (reunited with former band mate Andy for one night only), I've got the setlist for that, 25 songs in 25 minutes (they wanted to do it in 20 minutes and even had a member of the audience measure the time on a stopwatch), it's got titles like "Andy's No 7" and "James No 44" indicating the vast catalogue of (very short) songs at their disposal. Also on the bill were (more Nu-Pavement!) Four or Five Magicians and a rapturously received show by early nineties indie rockers Done Lying Down (well, I didn't actually know them and I even thought they were over from the States since their singer is American, but the gig was great, people loved it and it just rocked, very good!). ..So... at the Bull and Gate I'm wearing my black "80s hairmetal" wig and shades which is really the best way to see a Sludgefeast show, you don't want to see too much anyway, just dive into the heavy, dark sound... James lets Vanessa who is naturally at the front of the action play a few chords on his guitar and later Gavin gets a birthday cake handed from the stage. And the big surprise happens in the end when James replaces everyone in the band with a bandmember from each of the other bands to play a Sludgefeast tune and, you know, to be Sludgefeast for one number, and ... it worked! Really great evening! Happy birthday! I want to see Sludgefeast in the Netherlands now (where they have a booking agent!)!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's all true - but who or what are Projekt???

What subcategory of Goth best fits you?
You scored as a Ethereal Goth
You are an ethereal goth... you favor Projekt and Dead Can Dance and have very refined tastes. You like the fine arts and probably prefer red wine to snake bite. Click on my name to take my other tests if you liked this one.
Ethereal Goth

Anything-Goes Goth

Romantic Goth

Death Rocker

Old-school Goth


Perky Goff

Understanding Outsider


Confused Outsider

Fantasy Goth


Thursday, November 08, 2007

control / release

Five images I just "stole" off the google image search, they're stills from Anton Corbijn's beautiful Ian Curtis/Joy Division biopic "Control". There could be loads more of these moody black and white stills that seem vaguely familiar in style if you know Corbijns work with Depeche Mode, U2, etc. The look of the film is the most striking thing, all shades of grey, black and white, recording a re-imagined desolation, isolation, internal struggle, and the general greyness (if that can be a word) of the time and place. This is combined with sudden outburts of marvellous live reconstructions of JD concerts and TV appearances, the sharp almost military rhythm, the precise delivery, the moody dark voice, all suddenly more present than ever and interrupting the long shots where nothing much seems to happen. I think it's a very touching tribute, and it worked for me.

When I first came across Joy Division, I felt I was lured into the presence of an extremely romantic transript of a literally haunted bunch of souls. It seemed to come from somewhere else. The graveyard in Genoa with its giant mausoleums. The North of England seemed like a mythical landscape. It seemed so sophisticated and knowing too. What the film makes clear and evokes so strikingly in its visual language is the very mundaneness of the environment out of which they came. It does romaticize it a bit, but it's mostly quite downbeat, with the odd flashes of humour, quirkyness, character sure, but it's mostly quite depressing. Curtis' struggle to juggle his encroaching illness, a job, a wife and kid, a band that becomes quickly too successful for him to handle, and a foreign girlfriend is depicted in a way that is quite sympathetic. "Control" really tries to tell a story that needs to be told, and mostly succeeds to bring to life quite a few of the harrowing scenes in Deborah Curtis' book "Touching From A Distance". And yet, it is a very arty film. Corbijn has always been good to find striking visual images out of unlikely situations. So the main impression of the film is the way it fills the screen with these long, impeccably captured scenes. Go back to the late 70s and early 80s if you want to see it like it was. And it's made for cinema, it looks and sounds good on the big screen so you can fully immerse yourself in it.