Babyslave at the Nightmare Rave Part 2

December 18, 2007 at 3:12 pm (Concepts, extreme music, Hypnotique) ()

Hello chums,

Hypnotique here playing blog triple-header catch-up from Charlie Machine’s part one ATP review.

Babyslave & friends took their first annual away day conference to the splendid All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Butlins, Minehead, Somerset. A kind of busman’s holiday on acid (or more specifically a cocktail of fine port, vodka, amino acids and whiskey smuggled into a Ribena bottle to evade festival security).

It was my first ATP and my first trip to Butlins, and I found the whole experience rather exciting, being used to the more typical Reading/Glastonbury kind of festival involving mud slides and deflating igloo tents (changing into a gothic fairy outfit in such surroundings to play the Poetry Stage at Glastonbury was one memorable gigging experience in 1998).

My two main observations on the ATP ethos thing is that although it is an out-and-out ‘alternative’ event, with a doom/American indie/neo folk slant (see Boris, Om, Sun)))) for terms of reference), hosting it in a holiday camp of contemporary chav dimensions (more Benny Hill than Belsen) presents a transition of the main streaming into the scene in a strange juxtaposition: Mr Wu Tang “Gizzer” Clan proclaiming “Hey Minehead, whazzup?’ being an ironic case in point (how doubly wondrous had he said “Hey Butlins, whazzup?’).
Secondly, everyone is very civilized for a festival. Admittedly they’re an older, tamer crowd than the Download, V or Glastonbury punters, but it lacked that Sunday night excitement of Reading in days of old when the Hell’s Angels would turn up to have a fist fight with the indie kids and turn over a chemical toilet or two. Although our chalet had poor fittings, removing the cistern was sure to involve industrial machinery we did not have to hand. Everyone politely waited their turn on the super-scary Space Bowl flume at the swimming pool and there was no death by drowning, no bottlings, and no crazy chalet parties till dawn. Like music scenes generally, the festival has evolved to become increasingly niche, ensconced in genre and lacking in tension. More of that later.

Day log:

– Friday 7th Dec
Myself and Charlie Machine finally arrived on site after various bus/ Butlins screw-ups having consumed a rather nice bottle of vintage port, sans stilton. Myself and Charlie were surprised to find we were staying in the kid’s room with beds somewhere between the size of a cot and single bed with plastic covers. Handy: wipe free. Joe Ladyboy showing off (as usual) that his chalet was better than ours and had a kitchen and oven and everything. Rock n roll.

– Sat 8th Dec

After a conversation on Friday with Charlie Machine about what a nasty but inspiring genius Stockhausen was, particularly his transition into electronic music because he could not control the performance parameters of acoustic musicians precisely enough, we awoke to hear the fiend had popped off to the great helicopter string quarter in the sky.
Stockhausen is dead: long live Stockhausen.
Synergy, synchronicity or the curse of Hypnotique? We all got mashed then watching Alien in the cinema. Can’t believe the other b-slaves left me in there, when I woke up I was scared rigid and thought I’d been taken into orbit with a giant squid.

– Sunday 10th Dec –

Braced the fierce coastal winds once more for final day of fun – that sad feeling of the holiday over almost before its begun. Made full use of the pool facilities.

– Mon 11th Dec –
Back to work, tired but revived. Just to prove you can’t stop the rock, I wound down by going to see the lovely Thomas Truax (like a modern day cabaret Harry Partch) play with Duke Special (a really charming band featuring a dreadlocked, make-up stained bandmaster from Northern Ireland) on a pirate ship in Bristol. And had by camera pinched by a wicked rogue with all the ATP pics. Feck.

Musical delights:

Portishead – this year’s ATP curators. Their first show in 10 years (where have you been?) after too long holed up in Easton, Bristol, smoking some big fat ones – and debuting material from their forthcoming new album. Shock horror: new material is heavy but upbeat, straying radically from the trip hop sound that became so iconoclastic. Beth Gibbon’s voice is as cracked and mesmerising as her fragile frame. Top Trumps.

The Horrors – big hairdos for big hair anthems. Proper heroin-chic rockstars straight out of a manga comic. Too much fun for this early in the festival!

Chrome Hoof
– more disco less metal than I remember from this year’s Supersonic, and they didn’t have the giant chrome hoof expanding into the ceiling, but they got us onto our pentangled dancing feet. Can you believe they are from Tottenham? I say more bassoons in rock.

Julian Cope – as a life long JC fan, I found this show appalling. Too much rock out, and not enough wall-to-wall classic tunes. I saw him play Nottingham this year and he was witty, tuneful and did some lovely stuff with the melotron. Not so at ATP – complained about the colour of his chalet, said said nothing until the end of the set and musically, compared to the other acts on the bill, played an obvious, bland and unoriginal set. Finally, he started his crowd rousing spiel at the end – too little too late. Copey’s fundamental problem seems to be that he IS the influence for many of the band’s playing: an English eccentric, a trusted curator and an originator – the Cornucopia shows at South Bank in 2000 reviving many classic krautrock and cult bands was inspiring. But Copey cannot BE the new generation of stars he bangs the drum for like Devandra Bernhardt, Om etc. He’s an aging rock star – more Bruce Springsteen than Andy Warhol. And letting down your lifelong fans because you’re in a stroppy mood or don’t like brown M&Ms/bathroom fittings is an unforgivable offence for ANY artist. Boo hiss.

Thurston Moore – it’s not fair that this Sonic genius is nearly 50 and looks 15. He is still cool as f*** and he still rocks. Mr Cope, take note.

Damo Suzuki – jamming with a selection of ATP musos including Geoff from Portishead. Not a long enough set for a proper immersion, but a good one. Damo is so little and lovely and cuddly – I think he is a Japanese Jesus.

Sunn))))
– enjoyed this immensely at Supersonic this year – imagine a deep, multi-layered, ever-growing drone with a man in an incredible outfit (part-Viking, part-giant courgette) lathered in heavy smoke, incanting in Latin in a super woofer bass-heavy voice. Not just a goth thing, but something quite primeval, medieval and transcendental. Not a dry (ice) eye in the house.

Hawk and a Hacksaw – didn’t get into this as much as previous shows, but good fun involving Hungarian fiddles and zithers. Interesting fact: mister HAIH used to be the drummer in Broadcast. Still begs question: how can Hungarian folk music be contemporary alternative music?

Rosie Red Rash – As I’ve been working recently with the music ‘industry’/ community in Bristol, I was keen to check out the many Bristolian pals of Portishead on the bill and ‘discover’ a new local talent. But on all occasions, I was so disappointed – the worst offenders being these ‘ladies’, four schoolgirls attempting punk – with no ability (though the bassist was fantastic) or songs, it appeared – but their fishnet tights were lovely. Sorry Portishead, it’s fine to ‘curate’ to scratch your friends’ backs, but make sure they deserve the platform of this nationally significant festival, as most of these acts seemed like they’d never left their bedrooms before, and should probably have stayed there.

Silver Apples
– Probably my festival highlight – a rare outings from Simeon and his oscillating wildly “Simeon” machine – kind of early invention of drum machines and trance from the 1960s, ferociously ahead of its time. His story is one of tragedy – failed recognition at the time for their two seminal albums, then a tragic accident at a gig during their 90s revival left Simeon predicted to never walk or play again – but miraculously he has, although his partner in crime in the meantime died. But Silver Apples are back, and the sounds are as hypnotic and lovely as before. Doing the groupie bit, I sidled over to his lounge table to give praise and got my photo taken with Mr S.

John Parrish
– piece of advice: write some fucking songs.

John Cooper Clarke – great gags, crap poetry from the Jack Kerouac of punk poetry.

Fuck Buttons – laptop duo who seriously rock. Fun.

Conclusions:
The underground musical future is diverse, healthy and growing its audience. But it seems to me that although some acts here did invent their genres, many are aping others, and there seems to be a dearth of true originality of style/performance. Too much clichéd post-ironic rock posturing or shoe-gazing ‘no performance’. As digital domains collide with real-world experiences, it seems to be that the proliferation of genres/scenes with no over-riding ‘movement’ is creating more homogenisation than originality, the bittersweet irony of globalisation. Maybe pop did eat itself?

Babyslave really should play ATP in 08. Once we’ve refined our 360 degree music/media offering, we will truly be ready to rock on a bigger stage.

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3 Comments

  1. charliemachine said,

    Matthew Middleton was rather good too, I seem to recall…

  2. babyslave said,

    He’s called Malcolm Middleton, but Matthew kinda sounds even more nerdy, strangely.
    Didn’t see him.

  3. katie Williams said,

    I really liked The Horrors. Do you have any plans for going to the ATP in 2008?

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