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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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!!


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 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.

– 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.

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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Lacking Discipline in Cologne and Manchester

December 2, 2007 at 9:14 pm (Babyslave shows, Hypnotique, Rebellious Jukebox) (, )

Babyslave rocked in a French pop style on Nov 11 at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester for the Genius: Serge Gainsbourg night where the city’s finest young upstarts paid tribute to the great French philanderer. We played the obscure tune “Song of Slurs” (more “Fairytale of New York” than “Tears On My Pillow”) with a touch of choreography. Berets off also to Caro Snatch and Shirokuma who made a lovely musical pair with their version of “Harley David Son Of A Bitch” (en Francais, magnifique!) amongst others. Anyway, more musings coming soon from Charlie Machine on the day he became overtaken by the ghost of Serge Gainsbourg.

In the meantime, a few vignettes…

Dave Fox (aka Joe Ladyboy), the architect behind former stable of Babyslave Valentine Records, has launched a new Label 2.0 which is an un-label. The idea behind Rebellious Jukebox is to create a new netlabel where interesting experimenting (my prefered term to experimental) artists from Manchester and far beyond can colletively promote, debate, blog and rant under a cosier shared banner. Kicking off a series of monthly live night in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in Dec 07, the new year will see a series of free digital download EPs by its new roster which will include Caro Snatch, Shirokuma, Babyslave. and many more. It’s more of a bottom-up community than a top-down commissioning label, and quite probably the way forward for the localised music biz. For more news, watch this space.

On Sept 28th I hit a landmark birthday (21. Again) so decided to celebrate it by doing a crazy show in Club Tsunami in Cologne with my good friend and Valentine Records friend John Callaghan. Well, really it was John’s gig I crashed. After a bit of sightseeing by the Rhone and a visit to Saturn, the world’s largest CD store, we headed to Club Tsunami. The promoters from Club Tsunami and the Golden Pudel from Hamburg were lovely and put on a night of funky tunes suitable for a scarlet bunker, including a spiffing techno version of Gershon Kingsley’s “Popcorn“.

John entertained the Kolners with his usual nine costume changes auto-karaoke show featuring dresses, glow sticks, hats with dead dolls and other fun stuff. To give John a bit of a break, I did a number we wrote together called “You Lacked Discipline” while he got changed into another dress creation inside a box on stage. It’s a little heavy hardcore ditty with three magic words. John dared me to do it, it was a tough game but I think the leatherette police woman’s outfit helped pull it off.

Check out the video here.


Ms Hypnotique

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