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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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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Babyslave at the Nightmare Rave Part 3

December 19, 2007 at 9:40 pm (electronic music, extreme music, Uncategorized)

Joe Ladyboy’s pic’n’mix guide to Portishead’s ATP 07:

1) The (very VERY) Good:

atpmontage1

(Portishead, Malcolm Middleton, Chrome Hoof, Sunn O))), Damo Suzuki, Seasick Steve, Thurston Moore, GZA and The “Porta-Wu”).

2) The Good (but not quite as good as the above):

atpmontage2

(Richard D Aphex Acieed III, Professor Branca, Kling Klang, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Autolux, The Blessing, The Horrors, Oneida)

3) The Mad, The Bad, The “ish” and The Downright Bloody Annoying:

atpmontage3

(Jukes, Malakai, Boris, St Julian Cope of Tamworth, Rosie Red Rash, John Parish, Earth, Sparklehorse)

4) Some random notes on the weekend:

i) Charlie Machine is either a very good gamesman, or a very lucky bastard when it comes to ten pin bowling. Either that or the rest of Babyslave are just woefully shit at “sport” in general.

ii) Julian Cope was my biggest disappointment of the weekend (and 2nd biggest disappointment of the year after Bonnie “Prince” Billy at the Royal Festival Hall in January). Liked the new album, loved the Japrocksampler book, but this performance was turgid, dull, uninspiring and completely lacking in both charisma and tunes – NOT words that you’d usually associate with a Julian Cope review.

iii) Shoulder massages rock. Particularly after 4 hours of ProgDoomMetal.

iv) So do waterslides designed for 8 years olds

v) The John Hurt chest-bursting scene in Alien IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY, OK!!!!

Sincerest Regards

Joe Ladyboy (December 2007)

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Hands Off – world’s largest gathering of theremins

August 1, 2007 at 12:59 am (electronic music, theremin)

Hands Off UK theremin symposium, Bushey, July 30th 2007. Beatrix Ward-Fernandez Trio

Health warning: this post is proudly geeky and concerns one of my more unusual musical strings to the bow: theremin playing.

July 29th, I had the bizarre privilege of being part of a unique event – the world’s largest gathering of thereminists (we believe). Hands Off! took place from July 27-29th in the quaint rural retreat of Purcell School of Music in Bushey, Hertfordshire as a symposium for theremin players and lovers.

I arrived for the concert and farewell dinner and had obviously missed most of the action which included over 40 delegates from around the world (New York, Los Angeles, Austria, Switzerland and Germany all represented) learning how to improvise, play classical theremin, and exchange gossip, tips and tricks on making and playing. (An old car sticker: ‘thereminists do it with no hands’ springs to mine…)

Yes, I lose my cool, this was a Geekfest indeed. I even wore my ‘theremin addict’ T-shirt by Stoney (after a few drinks). An almost unimaginable collection of theremin families, teen proteges, men of a certain age (many wearing bow ties) and more facial hair and Etherwave Pros than Moog Music‘s stockroom.

There was an intriguing long afternoon concert with just about every kind of music represented:

First up, John Bernhardt from The Lothars (famed for playing theremin on a US beer commercial), a long haul visitor from Boston, was highly entertaining with his ‘songs you shouldn’t play on a theremin’ set – ‘Video Killed The Radio Star‘ (check it out on YouTube) complete with excellent facial ‘dancing’ (you can’t move when you play theremin) was a treat. One of the song’s writers (a keen thereminist) was in the house (alongside David Vanian from The Damned)wilco

Wilco then rocked out the first experimental set using his sonic hand glove, straight outa Doctor Who and the kind of innovation that the theremin’s inventor Lev Termin (Leon Theremin) would have relished. This photo of Wilco and daughter proves they indoctrinate ’em young into the ether cult in the flat lands of Holland…

The Beatrix Ward-Fernandez Trio played free improvisation. That’s the first time I’ve heard theremin played with tuba.

Spacedog clara 2.0 theremin doll

Spacedog UK
gave us a demonstration of when music meets science and technology, using theremin with Max MSP to trigger video and ‘Clara 2.0’ – a motorised doll that mirrored Sarah’s playing to automate theremin playing. She also played a mean version of ‘Mad World‘ on bells and saw.

The Radio Science Orchestra reminded us to remember the importance of Bob Moog, with the theremin triggering the Moog Voyager for an intriguing version of Dr Who and a world first of the theremin triggering a human voice’s pitch (vocoder style) for Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

radio science orchestra

Chris Conway, thereminChris Conway took us to the tea break (how civilised!) with his own version of celtic-influenced ambient music using loops and layers, texturing up the theremin.

Part two was classical theremin, with duos, trios and a quarter from two up-coming teen theremin proteges – Carolina Eyck (Gemany) and Charles Draper (UK), alongside the great maestro divas Lydia Kavina (Russia) and experimental player Barbara Buchholz (Germany). There was a mix of rare original compositions for theremin from 1930s, classical arrangements and contemporary works for theremin.
theremin trio

The material was really amazing as not only is playing as a theremin ensemble really technically demanding at best, it was incredibly musical – a feat rarely achieved anywhere in the world. Hats off (or hands off) especially to Barbara Bucholz for some truly trippy sonic arrangements of contemporary compositions, and Charles and Carolina for a very cute arrangement of all the theremin ‘cliches’ stars-on-45 street-style – everything from The Swan, Spellbound, Over The Rainbow…. ah, isn’t post-modernism great?

The event culminated in the debut performance of
The UK League of Thereminists – all participants got plugged in – from home made kits through to professional instruments (sadly no vintage RCA theremin in the house) – to have an experimental jam, ranging from a suprisingly accurate imitation of the TT races to a cute round of Frere Jacques (in good tune!).

For various reasons, I couldn’t commit to going beforehand so I didn’t end up playing in the main concert (under my stage name Miss Hypnotique – someone there called me ‘the good and the great of the theremin world’!), which was a shame, but I was delighted to be able to join in the world-record League of Thereminists (Guiness turned it down as an entry – amateurs!) and after-show jam.

There was a photo shoot of all attendees for The Word magazine – can’t wait to see the truly cult-like photo…

BIG THANKS to Gordon Chorlton and his wife Maya for organising this outstanding event, and JD and the many others who made it possible from a seedling vision to a reality.

I think the event revealed quite a few things:

– The diversity of performances and styles was astonishingly, all unite by this strange, intoxicating and frankly weird instrument, prove that the theremin isn’t a one-trick pony.

-The standard of playing has become incredibly dexterous and skilled – it’s not just about hitting the notes anymore or some kooky theatrics, it’s about discovering a diverse musical ecology.

– We still have a long way to go before all this exciting activity becomes truly ‘mainstream’, even in the underground music genres. It has to become truly cool.

For me personally, it’s also raised questions as to how my own playing fits in with all of this. On the one hand, I’m fired up to get back on the wagon and play seriously again. ‘Real life‘ has taken over recently and I’ve got a lot of catch up to do to get back to the diverse repertoire and shows I was doing in 2004/5. On the other, perhaps my role is as pioneer – did the first theremin radio show – now Spellbound, a weekly show, has taken over. Pushed classic theremin onto terrestrial tv, now it’s someone else’s mission to move it on to the next stage.

Theremin has not yet featured predominantly in Babyslave, but I theeink it should do more so in the future, both for dramatic performance and also because the unsettling eeriness suits our style. I feel a little melody coming on…

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