The Arc Delirium

November 18, 2008 at 11:43 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Last Saturday (1st November 2008) Babyslave completed work on their sophomore release (and follow up to 2006’s self-titled debut): The Arc Delirium comprises 10 tracks including recent singles Boys On Demand and We Hate You Little Girls Aloud (the latter in radically reworked form).

Other tracks include live favourites Erase Yourself and The Deadlier Venus, the sublime Hot Wolves and the epic, 10 minute Somnambulent.

Produced and mixed by the band themselves, the album was recorded in a variety of locations over the last 18 months, during a period of (in some cases) traumatic artistic and personal upheaval for all three members of the collective.

The album will be released in February 2009 in a variety of physical formats (as well as a digital download option), with various live excursions to be announced in the coming weeks.

Full tracklisting for the new album is as follows:

1. All My Dead Friends
2. Boys On Demand
3. Good Design
4. Hot Wolves
5. The Deadlier Venus
6. Erase Yourself
7. White Noise
8. We Hate You
9. Needling The Beatniks
10. Somnambulent

Our various web-interfaces (including babyslave.net) will also be relaunched during the coming weeks to coincide with the build up to the release of the new album. Thankyou for listening.

Babyslave

November 2008

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Cococo Apocalypso – launch of Nottingham first Weimar dada cabaret night

November 12, 2008 at 7:00 pm (Cococo Apocalypso, electronic music, Hypnotique) (, , , )

By HypnotiqueCococo Apocalypso Nov 11 Kunt and the Gang

Cococo Apocalypso Nov 11 Kunt and the Gang

Last night saw the launch of Cococo Apocalypso, a night billed as Nottingham’s first Weimar-inspired dada cabaret night.  I decided to start up this night – mixing up surreal comedy, theatre and electronic music with a fine dose of neo-punk attitude – because basically they say if you’re not part of a scene then start your own.  It’s a conduit to bringing the interesting artists I know, and a few acts I’m associated with, to my home town as a neat little Midlands tour stop-off, when previously they would have bypassed Nottingham for more experimental-friendly bigger cities north and south.  And because fuck all interesting seems to happen musically here.  And because life is very long and dull and you have to amuse yourself somehow.

The night was a beard-themed cabaret night celebrating Kunt and the Gang‘s wonderful “Men WIth Beards (What are they hiding?)” EP launch.  Read the full sordid press release (which sadly didn’t make it it into the Evening Post, nor the Left Lion an, allegedly, local culture mag) for the whole shebang.

The Chameleon Cafe, an interesting art-friendly bolt hole off the town’s Market Square run by eccentric Blues obsessed landlord Nick, who wants to get more theatrical and ‘weird shit’ stuff going down in the cafe.   There was a rather ‘eclectic’ exhibition in the venue which ranged from scenic watercolours, photos of dolphins to some fab large portraits of strippers and men in S&M gear – a perfect backdrop to the creative smorgasbord which was brought forth.

A few keen chaps and chapettes did go with the beard theme, and some had even brought very elegantly handmade strap-ons with some stick-on moustaches for other members of the audience to play around with to experience life as a man with a beard (an experiment Kunt has been living and blogging for over 7 weeks, despite only rustling up a 17-year-old’s bum fluff effect).

I kicked off proceeding with a “fuck off” noisy set as Ms Hypnotique, before EssexPubOrgy geezer Alix Sinclair, performing as the ‘large poet’, did some very witty poetry including caravaning in Derbyshire, looking suprisingly like Tiny Tim.      Later on he was joined by a guitarist to do some songs with a lot of fun props including beards, parrots and an effigy of Jesus with subjects including Rolf Harris, drug-induced witches of Harem and pirates.  This was a lot of fun and suprisingly melodic.

James Hately performed “stubble busting”, contemplating how shaving animals may reveal another animal underneath, and the same with celebrities – like shaving Russell Brand reveals Amy Winehouse.  I wondered if shaving Kunt (and the Gang) might reveal Sinitta underneath – or perhaps Gary Glitter.

Sleaford Mods, aka Jason Williamson, was a definite highlight of the proceedings.  He delivered a venom-filth fuelled rant insulting everyone and anything that crossed his path – including abusing the audience: “What are you cunts clapping for?” – which strangely just made you love him more.  I love J’s music – sure it’s bleak, acutely offensive and sometimes just too close to home (like ‘Teacher Faces Porn Charge’ about buying discount beer and pizzas from the cornershop) but it really strikes you in the heart and makes you feel uplifted, cathartic and cleansed afterwards – like a mudbath of the mind.  And you can’t beat a bit of ultra-violence I say…

Kunt and the Gang, coming on to Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Be In My Gang?”, entertained us for a non-stop 40 min hit parade of his unique blend of songs about wanking and crying (including over a polaroid of an ex-girlfriend who died), Carol Voderman and even asked the question “Chips or Tits?” (how’s a man to decide!).

Beards off to Kunt, the poor dear was horribly poorly after picking up a virus from a baby that shit itself near him, yet the trooper got through the full set complete with star jumps – and with the help of Little Kunt, his conjunctial twin brother – for the wonderful alternative love duet “Fred and Rose“.   I’ve seen Kunt loadsa times, so I’d be interested on the impressions of those who haven’t seen him before – but curiousity let to some belly laughs and he soon charmed the throngs, winning him a few new devotees.

Coincidentally, I found out that we chose our timings well: Nov 11 is the date of Martinmas.  According to Nottingham performance artisans Reactor this is when:

“In the 4th century AD, the Bishop St. Martin was walking to Rome on a pilgrimage. He encountered Satan and was mocked by him. As punishment St. Martin turned the devil into a donkey and rode the lazy beast for the remainder of his journey. The Donkey cursed him and spoke in palindromes.

A timely parallel with the devilish shape-shifting and tongues of palindromes of the night ( Reactor are looking for Secret Members to join their 12 month Martinmas clan btw. )

Overall I think a fun night and worthwhile endeavour and thanks to those who came for making this a memorable first experiment.  If you came, let us know what you think and what you’d like to see if you came again or suggestions of acts to perform.  If you took any photos or videos stick em up on Flickr, your blog, YouTube wherever and post the link in the comments.

You can also sign up to the Cococo Apocalypso email list or visit the website on MySpace.

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Babyslave’s debut EPs: PINK and BLUE available for free download

August 10, 2008 at 8:52 pm (Babyslave Music, Babyslave recordings, Rebellious Jukebox) (, , )

Babyslave PINK EP sleeve

Babyslave PINK EP sleeve

Babyslave are pleased to announce our first ever solo release. It’s not one, but TWO brand new EPs to whet the appetite and soak away those turbulent summer nights of outdoor drinking and psychological barbeques. The first “Blue” EP is packed with original material (summer pop classic Boys On Demand as the lead track) alongside a Charlie Machine-sung b-side and two chipper remixes to boot. The second “Pink” EP is four “Industrial themed” covers – all taken from this rather rare (and wonderful) beast of obscure and unexpected Industrial Records tunes (Throbbing Gristle‘s label that coined the now overused term ‘industrial’ music). We’ve changed the lyrics and arrangements a fair bit to be mildly more contemporary. We Hate You Little Girls Aloud? You betcha!

Babyslave BLUE EP sleeve

Babyslave BLUE EP sleeve

And because we’re just too kind we’re putting them out totally for free for you to Bit-Torrent, file share and copy to your heart’s content. You can download both EPs and Joe Ladyboy’s dolled-up artwork from the Rebellious Jukebox website.

This is Babyslave’s first release – we have a potential album to release but it’s somewhat contingent on letters from the reader and generating enough interest in what we’re doing.  If you take the time to download and listen to the EPs, we’d really appreciate your feedback – good or bad (we’re not precious!) as to what you think of the music, which tracks you like and dislike and what you’d like to hear more (or less) of to help us inform if it’s worth us putting out a ‘commercial’ (ahem) album, or indeed to even write and produce more material together!

Please post comments either here or on the Babyslave MySpace page or you can email me at info@hypnotique.net with your critique.

God bless you,

The Leather Nun

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Babyslave’s first video: The Great Serge

May 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm (Babyslave Music, Babyslave shows, videos) (, , , )

We’ve just uploaded our first ever video to t’interweb:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-SFrlyejmk

“The Great Serge” is live footage taken from a show in November 2007 at The Ruby Lounge, Manchester at a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg all-dayer. This is our version of “Evelyn (Song of Slurs)”.
Note 1: See how Charlie Machine is taken over by the evil drunken spirit of Gainsbourg.
Note 2: Spot the continuity error re: ladies clothing.

More to come we do hope, and maybe some more adventurous choreography in future live shows.

Big thanks to Phaedra Bell & gang for filming and editing it all so splendidly.
x

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April mini reviews: Current 93, Merzbow, Billy Childish, Future of Sound

April 30, 2008 at 11:38 pm (extreme music, Hypnotique, live reviews)

By Hypnotique

I’ve been to a few shows lately, but as this website atests I’m a craply slow blogger so here’s a mini-selection of some of my favourite recent live shows from April 08.

Current 93 and Baby Dee, Royal Festival Hall, London

A glorified freak show filled the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall – the pierced, body-modified, elven faced underclass who truly live in the dark side. Starspotting: Sleazy (TG, Coil), big old ugly fellow. Support was by Baby Dee, a truly strange harpist and vaudeville macabre singer and deep south hick who reminded me of a bag lady version of Madge from Neighbours. Trans-gender apparently (she should get her money back). I quite enjoyed her/his falsetto quirkiness, typical of the acts David Tibet (Tibs) champions through his Durtro label like (Mercury prize winners) Anthony & the Johnsons and (tulip tiptoer/paedophile) Tiny Tim (basically, vocalists that make Tibs sound like the equivalent of Mariah Carey). No doubt Tibs is secretly fuming “it should have been me!” when another of his proteges head to the stars, collecting gongs en route whilst he lies in impoverished obscurity (or so he claims).

However, the night endorsed quite the opposite – David Tibet is the true star whose light guides others. That night he was a god, and the former members of the Temple of Psychick Youth in his band and audience worshipped at his apocalyptic alter. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Tibs/Curent 93 – I love the concept and obviously I’ve nicked/applauded many of the ideas with Hypnotique. But at its worst the music is mediocre and repetitive, Tibet self-indulgent. The email newsletters with endless updates on the health of his cat and religious beliefs were nauseous. Then there’s the stories I’ve heard from a former-boyfriend who was a former-friend of Tibs & Tony Wakeford (Sol Invictus) that did little to endear me, realising the unhealthy power of the cult leader and gang mentality which I seek to reject in my own inner-solitary way of living.

Regardless, Tibs has a rare gift of communication, of aura, of transfixing the ether. His 9-piece band (incuding Andrew WK, all a bit rough in places but generally getting the spirit) conducted by Tibs took us on a journey full of not only dark shadows but light – pathos and joy. Guest appearances by Anthony (of ‘and the Johnsons’) and a mini-set of acoustic songs about a medieval homosexual poet by Marc Almond from his new album were delightful and showed just how deeply the spirit of Tibs has infected British music culture. Almond, camp old queen he is, almost outshined Tibs with his showmanship, a perfect execution of ‘pizzazz’. I got a last minute return ticket, last seat in the house, and was sat next to an older business gent in a suit who’d got the 1/2 return tickets. He didn’t know any of the bands but said he was in town with work and decided to pop along because he liked Marc Almond. May have got quite a shock…

Tibs claims to be the reluctant performer, UK shows are very rare and he seems to want the life of a reclusive fine artist rather than an acclaimed musician (although fine, is art work is not). But that is front – Tibs is gifted to perform, uplift and take us all into his apocalyptic Catholic world of sin, penance and run with all the pretty horses between. Uplifting.

Merzbow, De Montfort University, Leicester

I’ve always won the ‘D’ for ‘Dunce’ cap, but I thought Merzbow was more of an ambient electronic act. So I got a bit of an audio noise shock at this show. It was a collaboration with what seemed like a university lecturer and his class of music technology undergrads (an all-male collection of hairy, bearded 20-something wearing a range of extrodinary head wear). They had made their own buzzy, oscillator machines inside tin cans. The performance juxtaposed segments of the students making free-improv sounds with extremely loud sonic manipulation from Japan’s “King of Noise”. He remained very stoney faced behind the laptop, and the black box theatre setting gave the performance a hushed, reverent quality befitting the academic surroundings. Afterwards I wanted to bow to him. Totally mastery of the pure digital noise manipulation, with total control. Wish I’d brought some earplugs. You know what they say, “If it’s too loud…”

Billy Childish, Art Organisation, Nottingham

Like Felix Kubin’s show in Nottingham last month, this was another less than satisfying visit by a seminal figure to be received by a less than wholesome audience turnout. “This is the last time we play in Scotland. Next time, tell your friends to come – if you’ve got any,” Childish barked in jovial cockney-fashion, unaware that actually 50 is an amazing turnout for anything here. It is rare he plays this far north, and that in itself is a lesson to build your fanbase outwards at any time in your career. Never live solely in the M25 bubble.

Billy Childish is thought to be one of the most prolific artists of the punk/post-punk generation, releasing over 100 albums, 2000 paintings and 40 poetry publications. 49-year-old Childish reflects the ‘JFDI‘ attitude of the punk era I so admire. This event at the very amazing boho, community artspace The Art Organisation was to celebrate an exhibition featuring many Childish works – mainly heavy oil textural pieces.

Childish’s band is a long-suffering vagabond trio of a lady bass player in a nurses uniform, and a big bald chap in a fez on drums. But the lithe, moutachied Childish rules the show, with plenty of wise cracking stories, impromptu performance and lots of rollicking good tunes – classic post-punk but with great hooks, great choruses and biographical stories. He said, “go home, and one day you can tell your kids and grandkids you’ve seen a real rock n roll band”. And damn it, it did feel, that maybe that night, for the first time I had.

Future of Sound, Birmingham Midland Institute, Birmingham

More lecture than gig, Future of Sound was part of the Art of Ideas event put on by a whole bunch of quangos to celebrate all things art and Birmingham. It’s been heavily blogged and collected over at Created in Birmingham – I just got a snatch of the talks night called “Future of Sound”. The two things I’d gone for (Modifield Toy Orchestra and Martyn Ware) were cancelled and the event got off to a duff start (pardon pun) with a panel led by Toy Orchestra guru Brian Duffy leading a panel of what could losesly be described as leaders in Birmingham’s sonic art scene including members of Dreams of Tall Buildings, Pram and jazz saxophonist Soweto Kinch.

The talk was a demonstration of all the wrong things about talking about Birmingham as a ‘scene’ rather than a place where people just happen to live and do stuff, and also the idea of trying to coax this out of artists in order to instill a desire for cluster, place or pride. But it was also interesting in all the amazing things under the surface happening in this sprawling city that need coaxing out from under the concrete.

Collectively, the inarticulate, scruffy blokes had nothing to say – and epitomised how I felt at 21 when I was involved in the fledgingly ‘lofi’ indie scene (led by Broadcast, Pram, Plone, Avrocar et al) and I had to make a hard decision about whether to stay or move on. I chose to move on then because I never felt I would fit in with the betrodden, introspective world of these guys. I was too young, too ambitions, too outspoken.

Yet in isolation, when the guys talked about their work they were hugely articulate and fascinating. I only caught a bit, but Dream of Tall Buildings guy talked about their experimental work including mumified tapes, handmade artwork and conceptual ways of packaging their organic sounds. Brian Duffy, a NESTA fellow and intellectual superbrain, covered the history of sound, aurally reproducing the sound of stars and the theories of relativity in 3D form, tanslated into circuit-bending speak & spell projects including programming ZX Spectrums. Damn I wish I’d taken notes, with his brains and my looks we could’ve taken over the comos by now…

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Felix Kubin and the artless of Nottingham

March 23, 2008 at 9:57 pm (Concepts, Hypnotique, live reviews) ()

By Hypnotique

OK, here’s an experiment in words, perhaps not of the calibre of William Burroughs, but acting as something of a brain dump of some of my thoughts & emotions surrounding the show I saw in Nottingham this weekend by the marvellous Felix Kubin.

Felix Kubin, military wear

Mr Kubin is a Rennaisance man of impecible gifts, after my own heart, whose activities, according to his website, “comprise futurist pop, electroacoustic and chamber orchestra music, radio plays, performance projects, lectures, workshops and his own record label Gagarin Records.”

This hip Hamburger (Hamburgerin?) makes darn funky and twisted Deutsch techno rock using analogue synths and was a member of Blitzkrieg. In a word: he is a legend.

If you just check one thing to get a flavour, may I recommend this fine animated video about the ghost of Myra Hindley. Check out the excellent Podcast by the You Are Hear gang for the full set of the Corsica Studios London show with Silver Apples. And here’s a needless picture of me with Simeon from Silver Apples (Q – but who looks more like the pop star?):

Hypnotique with Simeon from Silver Apples

I was tempted to head down to it, for surely it would be a double-bill of mighty mana, but given he was coming to my home town that week it made sense to wait it out.

But therein lies the problem: Nottingham is perhaps not the best city for electronic experimentation, as my own (non-existant) low profile atests. It’s hard for me as Nottingham is my home town and I have all the usual home town loyalties (I’m even a fan of the ever-failing Nottingham Forest boys) but one has to admit it’s not exactly a cultural metropolis – and I personally found it a disheartening downshift to move from London (the global cultural city) to a place with an entire county population of 1million, limiting the catchment audience for any kind of niche or subversive cultural activity, and indeed the acceptance of being niche, subversive or cultural. Unless you’re a goth, then strangely you’re one of many. And (sigh), now remembering why I was happy to leave the first time age 18.

But the outlook is a faint shade of rose: there are some good promoters growing loyal audiences with the likes of Damn You! rocking out American indie or Brit equivalent bands and Johnny Scarr’s Mantile nights in ‘Chameleon Cafe’ – a truly bizarre former tea room site overlooking the municipal square putting on experimental noise, electronic, prog, doom and sometimes even more unexpected touring bands from all over the world. (last night’s Burial Hex show was a good ‘un. Forgive my bleary-fingered typing but Flemish support band Silvester Anfang – all nine of ’em – were sleeping in my living room last night – like most pissed blokes – boy did they have bad music tastes🙂 ) It’s generally always good stuff, but a bit heavy on the bearded, long greasy-haired male afficionado types. But (sigh) you aint in the cultural metropolis now, dahling.

The Music Library and other events organised by the Via Vaudeville art collective were easily the most daring and quietly interesting nights, but as often happens in this transcient town, people move on (to London, mainly).

So back to the plot (remember that?). Whilst I applaud Ricky Haley’s Liars Club for hosting the divine Mr Kubin, a bit of publicity wouldn’t have gone amiss, given I had to make Sleuth-style enquiries to find out what was happening that would make Laurence Olivier and Michael Cain proud (but not Jude Law in that bloody awful remake). OK so lots of people go to Stealth, but has the average 18-yr-old got any interest in esoteric electro-analogue dada-rock?

Still it’s the first time in while I’ve been propositioned by a 23-yr-old who said “I’m only asking for my mate, he’s 20”. I got to use one of favourite “Carry On” catchphrases: “I’m old enough to be your mother!” (note: use in inappropriate contexts mainly, e.g. with persons older than self). Cradlesnatcher Hypnotique is definitely not. I’ve always been more partial to the beautifully maturing wane artistic male, preferably of a continental persuasion (thus perhaps my affinity for aforementioned Mr K, however, I’m even more prone to wax lyrical on the artist merits of any old Arian Berliner. Perhaps there is no objectivism in my cultural reviewer status. But let’s face it, it’s not much of a review so far).

Anyway, the set started v. late, but we’re off and myself, Johnny Scarr, Pieter and Jude held the micro-fort for refined audience appreciation. Mr K was resplendent in a modish tailored suit and two tone shoes, but clearly troubled by limited audience recognition. If, after all, you are a STAR then you wish to shine as such. I languish in obscurity so know no better. He kicked off and the kiddie-winks were curious. Their tiny teenage ears had never heard such SOUNDS where analogue synths crunch a beat, squelching in and out of sync, mice running up and down the sound spectrum with chants of “Hit Me Provider!” in fantastic Germanic tones Uber-alles. And that was before he brought out the BOLTS OF LIGHTNING (prop, not GWAR/Kiss style stage effect).

Oy vey baby! This is Hypnotique audio heaven. If only all night clubs were this da da da. A dangerous kind of fun. I danced like a mad cat, but the kids were suspicious, many choosing to stay in the suberclubs other rooms (which actually hosted a fairly tasteful selection of indie-pop (not too naff), house and later some fun and bubbly techno). Finally, people realised the action was happening on Mr K’s dancefloor. Or maybe they were all coming up. Or the other rooms closed. Who knows, but toward the end of the set people started flocking in and grooving, which lifted Mr K’s spirits and made it more like the event it should have been.

Afterwards we had a little shouting chat with him above the typical club din. The man was crippled, this was no night to end his UK tour and I felt ashamed of my shallow little hometown. I questioned (again) my own presence here – could I create something of my own where there is nothing, or is swimming against the tide the path to drowning? Anyway, I know you won’t be back Mr K – just as every other fantastic and unexpected performer who passes through and does a half-arse half-empty show never will. Another one bites the dust.

But just to say I adored what felt almost like a personal show purely for my own pleasure, and that’s gotta be worth something. I’m listening now to his 2004 album Matki Wandalaki. Lovely stuff, and who’d have thought Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” could ever sound so romantic. I once had a bad experience when I worked at Universal Music when a Lionel Ritchie gold disc fell on my head. That was a bad day in the office.

So I look forward to seeing another Kubin show another time, a better place.

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Jean-Jacques Perrey and AV Festival review

March 17, 2008 at 4:13 am (electronic music, Hypnotique, live reviews) ()

AV festival logo

On my Hypnotique blog I flagged up that I would be at the AV Festival with the posse for Jean-Jacques Perrey. Here’s a mini review of the couple of bits I saw of the North East’s AV Festival, an international festival of electronic arts, music and moving image. I went to two days of the 10 day event (1st and 2nd March).

Saturday 1st was really a day of catching up with, appreciating, and wigging out to the crazy new electronic pop sounds of Jean-Jacques Perrey with his new musical partner (and biographer) Dana Countryman as part of the Radiophonia day.

I last saw Jean-Jacques and the extended clan one very snowy and icy February in Berlin for the 2006 Transmediale festival. A crazy all-night club-night saw colourful costumed ravers doing some serious partying to the 1960s sounds from the man they call ‘the father of techno’.

Gateshead was surreal and similar – at the elegant The Sage concert hall, stretching on the banks of The Tyne across from Newcastle like a beached giant armadillo. The afternoon was a sedate lecture (which I was priviledged to introduce, stating that if it wasn’t for the 1960s electronic music pioneers we just wouldn’t have the rich audio landscape today, and I for one would probably not be an electronic musician.) Jean-Jacques demonstrated a little of his tape loop technique with splicing block, followed by the debut screening of Mal Meehan‘s excellent interview film “Life Laughter and Loops” (available to buy soon!).

We retired for dinner in the city filled with stag and hen revellers in bunny costumes and nun’s costumes, a surreal setting for equally surreal conversation with Dick Mills who claims more people are interested in his specialist knowledge of tropical fish than his legacy as the director of BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop.

jean jacques perrey live Dana with CD

The evening show was marvellous – a mixture of classic old and new tunes including ‘Strangers in the Night’ and ‘E.V.A‘ with wacky and disturbing tape loops. What amazed me was the spirit and energy of the audiences – all kinds of people of all ages – can-can-ing, grooving to this crazy, catchy music. There were some very young (18-20) folks, perhaps discovering this ‘ancient’ music through BitTorrenting, Wikipedia and other amazing means of transfering knowledge and music today – before their parents came to collect them. (How rock n roll is it to go to a gig to see someone your granddad’s age?!).

jean jacques perrey live

Here’s some videos I took (on YouTube) to give you a flavour of the atmosphere from the floor, at appalling low quality!!

E.V.A.:

Cat In The Night:

Crazy Russian dance song (not sure title):

Sunday 2nd March:
In whistlestop fashion, I took in a few highlights including artist talks about the Broadcast Yourself exhibition and a yummy brunch at the fantastic community run Star and Shadow artspace and cinema. The exhibition concerned the historic context of arts in broadcast television, of which there are painfully few examples. In included clips of ‘art sabotage’ taking over the broadcast airwaves in guerilla fashion in USA and South America, and discussion of new works including a community TV project in a Mumbai market by Shaina Ananad and Nottingham’s own Active Ingredient discussing their fun new work for Make TV “Fantasy A-List Generator”, decontextualising celebrity interviews whilst encouraging the exhibition viewer to dress up in a disguise and become a fake celebrity.

I must admit that in the manner of many discussion by ‘serious’ artists, a lot of the debate traversed my non-art PhD bear-like brain like a passing corcorde, but it’s interesting to note that the nature of broadcast media is radically changing, offering new platforms for pure art visual content, yet meaning that the impact caused through wider distribution of visual fine arts will be lost. This exhibition will simply not exist in 10 years.

I scooted by ‘Works for Television’ inside a caravan on the high street, looping art works with industrial, textural themes in a cosy, nano-complex, en route to the outstanding Baltic art gallery, a Tate-style contemporary gallery serving as exemplar of Newcastle’s amazing regeneration. I was struck this visit just how gentrified and dynamic the city is today. John Cage’s Variations VII for various industrial sound-reproducing equipment had been recreated and rerecorded for the festival and was presented in both its original and new recording, which are striking different, I guess as result of the combination of a) a new interpretation and b) the variations of new, digital devices.

An evening show by Warp lovelies Autechre (after a very windy, cold circular journey where my destination was always ‘just left and left again’ according to the always accommodating locals) rounded off my visit. But I didn’t get it: it was more chin-scratching dance music that no one was dancing too. Something has gone wrong here that child-like electronic music from the 60s have the old and young up and grooving, whereas so called intelligent dance music has people densely thinking and not dancing. And maybe not even thinking.

So there you have it. Just a sample, but the programme of AV Festival was jam-packed with art and audio goodies across the North-East and would have definitely warranted a longer stay. I very much look forward to checking out the next AV Festival in 2010.

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Bullshit and The Brits

March 9, 2008 at 10:24 am (Concepts, music industry) ()

I recently had the misfortunate to watch a little of the 2008 Brit Awards on TV – the annual back-patting/collective-snorting where the mainly major labels in UK get all self-congratulatory about how great British music is (despite year-on-year plummeting of sales and declining market share of British artists in international territories). The mechanism for the ‘awards’ is that mostly the industry vote for each other based on their own share of the market, thus the only artists ever likely to win are signed to mega-daddy Universal Music.

This year was particularly grotesque and was, for me, the final nail in the music-industry coffin. God know what they’d put in the pre-awards wine, but every artist performing, presenting or collecting an award was totally trollied, in particular Vic Reeves who forgot what award he was presented and was lambasted by Sharon Osbourne who hit him shouting ‘You Pissed Bastard’, or words to that affect. Who says standards are declining on TV? The most sober beneficiary was, ironically, Amy Winehouse, who has more experience than most of holding her ale, muddling through a dreary tuneless rendition of one of her tedious songs.

The icing on the amphetamine cake was Paul McCartloads, anguish on his face from the High Court divorce trial, nodding his way through sabotaging Hey Jude while the session musos in his band have smug looks on their faces as if to say, ‘yeah even I know this is shite but I’m earning loads!’

Watching pissed people when you’re stone-cold sober is never nice, but when they’re supposed to be the successful ones in the ‘industry’ who are ‘living the dream’ it’s even more painful. It reminded me of my own Cinderella Brits story: in 2000 I worked for Big Daddy Universal Music on an agency contract. Not being staff, I was the only one out of 100s in the company who didn’t get a comp ticket to the awards and after-show party. By 4 O’Clock, I was still chained to my desk while all the others got dressed up and left. The next day they all rolled in late, hungover, full of stories of meeting Bono and Gail Porter at the Universal after-show.

What these stories illustrate is that now the life of a musician who considers themselves an artist is further removed than ever from those who are celebrities, and perhaps whose original passion for voice, melody and words has been squeezed to a limp-lifelessness through the sausage machine of the music industry. I have no loyalty to my former paymasters: I welcome the demise of the formal music industry and the rise of the artist as plethora stars in the diverse, ginormous musical galaxy.

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Rebellious Jukebox launch and free Babyslave track ‘Cadavers’

March 9, 2008 at 9:58 am (Babyslave Music, Babyslave recordings, Rebellious Jukebox) ()

Rebellious Jukebox, the new un-label music collective, which Babyslave are honoured to be one of their inaugural founding members, is now open for business after a Jap-pop fuelled launch in Manchester in February.  Check out the Rebellious Jukebox website, where you can download (for free, non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license) a jam-packed 10 track sampler of musical goodies, which features a brand new exclusive Babyslave track ‘Cadavers‘.   This was recorded as a spontaneous 3-way authoring and composing collaboration in one day between Sir Lucifer, Ms Hypnotique and Charlie Machine, with the pre-ordained subject of medical corpses.  It tells the cut-up tale of a romance between a trainee physician and the evil spirit of his cadaver.  Enjoy!

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Babyslave’s post-ATP nightmare gig

January 8, 2008 at 3:21 pm (Babyslave shows, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

So inspired were the ‘slave by the musical delights of ATP, we tried to recreate it back home. Quite literally, by staging a full scale gig in the (damp) wine cellar of chez Ms Hypnotique in her abode next to a windmill in Nottingham.

Nightmare before Xmas flyer

Billed as ‘The Nightmare before Christmas: a post-ATP gig for goths, gouls and fools‘, in addition to a Victorian/gothic dress code and absinthe cocktails, we were joined by:

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin plays (photo copyright Pieter Last)

A visitor from Belgium, Bejamin Franklin enthralled with a sit down (necessary as ceiling was only 5′ 10) zone out set of spacey guitars, minature keyboards and tape delays.

John Callaghan

John Callaghan is a Christmas treeJohn callaghan christ knows what he's doing

John Callaghan and his glowing pants
(photos above: Pieter Last)

John Callaghan in neon
(photos above by Laura Partridge)

Good friend of the ‘slave Mr John Callaghan, resplendant in glow sticks, neon net curtains, half-suit/half-nude and union jack g-string to give a taste of tracks from his new album ‘It Might Never Happen‘.

Babyslave

‘Slave photos by Pieter Last:

babslave masked Charlie machine plays violin

Slave photos by Laura Partridge:

Joe Ladyboy takes charge

Charlie machine plays violin

Joe Ladyboy masked

Charlie machine plays violin masked

Joe Ladyboy takes charge

Hypnotique did a number but not enough time/willpower for a full set, and the ‘Slave concluded with a one-off rendition of the entire debut album (“Babyslave”), top to tail. Kind of therapeutic, ‘getting it out of the system’ to move onto the next phase.

Trying out a very different look featuring ball gowns and masks, the minimalism of a damp basement was quite possible the perfect place for it – though jesus knows what some of the guests/neighbours/visiting cats made of it – Nottingham hasn’t seen the likes of this subversion before.

Little of interest seems to happen in Nottingham nowadays, but if you can’t become a member of ‘the club’ then start your own – and tonight we did. The first of many self-initated ‘slave based ‘happenings’.But after seven years playing in rock n roll bands, I still find myself humping gear up three flights of stairs (but this time in my own home).

Thanks to those who came, and thanks to those who didn’t for making the night exclusively legendary.

Happy new year – and remember – only the critic can critique.

Ms Hypnotique
x

the critic cat

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