Friday, 30 August 2013

Tis Friday... let us dance

Only 1 minute and 56 seconds long, any longer and I think the shawm player might expire, or the drummer's arms fall off. In this short space of time you get not only the pleasurable rush of hedonism but also, in the droning wails, a taste of the weariness and sense of futility that eventually catches up with even the most hardcore of revellers.

Anon Saltarello

Monday, 26 August 2013


I wish I'd discovered this in time for the France for F bit of the Around the World. Not easy to acquire on cd, nearly impossible on vinyl. I think it's most unlikely a copy will turn up in the raggedy 7" boxes in the usual charity shops (I have started looking in them though).

Zouzou Ne Cherche Pas 

Monday, 19 August 2013

In R'lyeh

I knew about this exhibition for the best part of a year before it opened and was looking forward to it a great deal, and so, after the usual amount of dithering, I finally got down there today, with a mere week to spare. The initial draw was the inclusion of some work by Paul Laffoley, Thanatos III mainly. In the end I didn't really like his stuff, I found it all a bit phoney. One piece in particular, that gave instructions on how to construct a time machine, my attitude was, "Well, why haven't you then?". It looks good in a kitsch sort of way but I just didn't buy what I was reading in the information on the wall or the text included in the pieces themselves. And I just get a feeling that Laffoley doesn't either. Having said that, he did do an hour long talk about it at the opening of the exhibition. So I could be dead wrong about that.

The good news is that this is a large exhibition and there's a ton of other, much more interesting stuff to see. My favourites were completely new to me: Marcel Storr. The first thing of his that you encounter is a giant, vertical triptych. Well over ten feet tall I would estimate. It looks a lot like Gaudi's Sangrada Familia. Insanely detailed for such a large drawing, god knows how long it took him to do it. There's a diptych right next to it, but that isn't as impressively gothic.

The picture above is one of his. It and fourteen more can be found in a darkened room at the gallery. I was in there for about an hour. They're the most absorbing artworks I've seen since the Moebius exhibition and I strongly urge anyone who likes intricate depictions of other worlds (everyone, surely) to get down there quick. Straight off I was put in mind of Gormenghast, but after looking at all of what was on display I decided that wasn't quite the vibe. I've plumped in the end for Cthulhu, but this is slightly compromised by the fact that his cityscapes are populated by lots of little people going about their business (happily as far as I can tell) amid such un-nightmarish amenities as commuter trains, pleasure boats and pleasantly tree-lined avenues.

My next favourite thing: a load of architectural models by somebody called Body Isek Kingelez. A funny name that didn't suggest any particular nationality to me. The models though looked Soviet. Turns out the artist is from The Congo (I forget which republic) and until recently hadn't seen so much as a photograph of any other country. Staring at one of his buildings (my favourite, Bodystand) I overheard a woman telling some children in her company that, of course, these buildings could never actually be constructed. A funny thing to say, I thought, having brought them to such an exhibition.

Much of the artwork on display involves numbers or formulae or schematics of various kinds and even before I read it in a blurb (for one of Alfred Jensen's artworks) it had struck me that in many cases what I was looking at were attempts to impose order on the universe. As far as the big stuff's concerned I'm content to let physicists and other boffins do the heavy lifting. This is clearly not an option for those troubled souls whose work is on display here. I loved seeing what they've come up with, but ultimately it's cargo cult stuff. We're all a bit fucked up one way or another and artists traditionally more so, but the stench of neuroses hangs over this exhibition more heavily than most. I can't remember being as fascinatedly disturbed by art as I was by Morton Bartlett's photographs at this exhibition. They're on the top floor. Of dolls he made, and then dressed in little outfits (that he also made) and then took loads of photo's of them. He was an orphan. 

Friday, 16 August 2013


Remember a bit back I'd rediscovered Julian Cope? I was going to explore his back catalogue? I think I'd already bought Fried and Droolian. They're pretty good albums. I was poised to snap up Peggy Suicide several times but when it came to the crunch.... I didn't. Need I say that this was intended to be a vinyl only exercise? So it saddens me that his best album Jehovahkill, in its full on incarnation with all the extra tracks, is only available on cd. When I start my vinyl reissues label this may well be the first wrong I address.

I reckon it'd be a quadruple album. I've got a couple of triple albums and the sleeves are fairly manageable, but the rule seems to be that four discs and upwards require a boxed set. I'd have the sleeve done like an ordnance survey map with a massive fold out poster of a megalithic map of Britain maybe. Like really massive, eight feet by six or so. And the sleeve would be a nice matt black with the symbol in gold and no writing on it whatsoever.

I saw him a few months ago. It was a good gig. He played twenty odd songs from all points in his pop career. Mainly just him on an acoustic guitar or at a keyboard. The between song banter was engaging (but his political humour was a little heavy handed I thought). He was pretty much as I'd expected him to be really, though I was surprised at how uptight he got about a technical problem, having a bit of a go at the sound people. Speaking as a member of it, as if a Julian Cope crowd gives a fuck about such matters. So, yes, very fleetingly, he seemed like an old man. Other than that though he was indeed a dude. A member of the audience* yelling for Reward at the end of every track perhaps caused one of his facial muscles to twitch on the fourth or fifth repetition. But he kept his cool.

Anyway, here's the track. In addition to the brevity that is the sine qua non of this series the other crucial pop ingredient at work here is simplicity.

Julian Cope Jellypop Perky Jean

* One of my friends, for a Sunday night he'd completely overdone it. I love him dearly but there's no telling him.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Another series, likely to blaze a similar trail to Beermat of the Month and Alphabetically Around the World. This one is Songs That Are 2 Minutes 9 Seconds Long. Started because I noticed recently that two songs I really like are that length. In this digital age it would be easy I suppose to filter tracks by duration. But I consider that cheating and shall rely solely on chance discovery. Expect part 2 tomorrow and part 3 sometime in 2015 maybe.

You remember ages ago Drew and Davy H did a top ten pop songs ever? I left my list in the comments. I did write a post giving some explanation behind my choices, but, by the time it was drafted the moment had passed and it remains unpublished. Anyway, in the course of writing it I discovered the following important ingredients of pop:

i) originality
ii) simplicity
iii) brevity (reduces the chance of boredom)
iv) distortion (it's got to be a bit fucked up)
v) emotional torment (it's got to be a bit fucked up)
vi) harpsichords (add a touch of class)

All the entries in this series will tick the brevity box, this opening entry also kicks things off with some mild emotional torment.

The Shangri Las Heaven Only Knows

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Jesus track

If Jesus came back, appeared right there in your living room there are probably a few questions that'd run through your mind, the chief being, in my opinion, what track would you play him? Tough one eh? Anyway, it came to me the other day: Shine On You Crazy Diamond. I'm convinced it'd go down well. With a beer and also, given the occasion, I think I'd break my no spliffs in the living room rule.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Beermat of the month

Another holiday spin off, at long last I have found a beermat worthy of the accolade. There was a series of cute otter cartoon mats, but I deemed this the finest. While the quality of the beer is neither here nor there for the purpose of attaining beermat of the month status, the beer was pretty nice as well.

Monday, 12 August 2013

What a beast you are!

Part two of my holiday lighthouses. Here we have the low lighthouse at Burnham on Sea. I thought I was quite conservative as far as my appreciation of lighthouses went, that to win a place in my heart one would have to be a great stone tower sat atop a rocky headland. But no, I really love this funny looking, nine-legged monstrosity. Check out also his mod-style stripe.

Loping across the sand towards this lighthouse was, compared to the approach to Lynmouth, a doddle. Only later did I read about the quicksand and oozing mud that I potentially braved. Probably a bit further out I imagine. Other cool information gleaned from a beachfront sign: if you go in for the whole Jesus-Glastonbury-feet-in-ancient-times thing apparently Burnham on Sea is where he and Joseph of Arimathea are believed to have disembarked. Worth a statue, I'd have said.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Let there be lighthouses

I've been on holiday at the seaside, the north Somerset coast. First time I've ever been down to this part of the country, very nice. Anyway, the obligatory check of Lighthouses of England & Wales had me most excited at the prospect of an expedition to Lundy, with its three lighthouses and population of puffins.

But we went with friends and, I was told, I couldn't just fuck them all off and disappear to look at lighthouses the whole time. So Lundy was off, but in return I was allowed to visit some of those nearer at hand. Nearest was Watchet, but I declined to make the piffling detour on the grounds that, truly, Watchet lighthouse looks rubbish.

So that brings us to Lynmouth Foreland. The cliff top path to this lighthouse is described on the Trinity House website, confusingly I think, as "hazardous, but not dangerous". This gave cause for some apprehension but mere hours later I was nervously edging my way along the path. After twenty minutes or so I found myself stood at the cliff edge with no lighthouse in sight. As I stood, glumly contemplating a wasted journey, it occurred to me in my dejected state that this was probably just the kind of spot where you might be bitten by an adder (I was wearing sandals).

Unusually for lighthouse spotting I knew my quarry was somewhere below me. I dared not get too close to the cliff edge for a peek as it was very gusty. I back tracked thinking all was lost. Anyway, there was another path (embarrassingly, sign posted: Lighthouse). After a knee-punishing descent I was disappointed not to be able to get right up to the tower (authorised personnel and lighthouse cottage guests only). I took the above snap from a viewing platform.