Category: Uncategorized


I had a mellow start to Sunday. Rachel Grimes played early in the afternoon. She weaved beautiful melodies and arpeggios with her piano that served as a soothing balm for my sleep deprived nerves. There were occasional interruptions of coughs and bar staff dumping bottles but it didn’t mar the effect of the music. Shannon Wright joined her onstage for a duet and later Rachel and Helen Money accompanied Nina Nastasia. Nina played a sparse but moving guitar with bittersweet and sometimes bleakly honest lyrics. By contrast her between song banter encompassed twinkie envy and the Cronenburg horror that is the “snot sucker”. The venue was rammed but you felt like you were in some cosy snug on an open mic night.

I’d never heard of Alix before listening to the Shellac mixtape. Suitably intrigued I downloaded their album “Ground” and if you like swirly bluesy Italian boogie then I suggest you download it. Live they were wreathed in blue light and pummelled out a driving swaggering stomp. I’m converted 🙂

Gay Witch Abortion were a new one for me, at times they reminded me of Lightning Bolt with the frenetic drumming and fretstrangling interplay. Other times they reminded me of the Butthole Surfers circa Locust Abortion Technician. They were also freaking loud, I swear my crowns have been shaken loose.

Next up were The Ex Brass Unbound. I’d seen The Ex 2 for the first time 2 years earlier at the Godspeed you ! Black Emperor NBC. They were pretty amazing then and I was really keen to see them again. They knocked out a seriously good set, their tight sinuous rhythms backed with sax blarts and horn honking. They seemed possessed with an amazing energy and seemed to be having a ball. Their drummer sang a fantastic Ethiopian song and the sprung dance floor resonated to the synchronised dancing. The guy in front of me was getting very excitable and started incorporating river dance / freddie and the dreamers style footwork into his repertoire. No footage I’m afraid cuz I didnt stop dancing.

Luckily Shellac were less kinetic but no less entertaining. They played a 90 minute set, 20 minutes of which consisted of the ominous grind of The End of Radio and an Albini stream of consciousness “snare drum and I”.

The place erupted when they played Copper and ended as Steve and Bob bdismantled Todd’s drum kit as he played.

All in all a brilliant weekend. Highlights – Kim Deal, Turing Machine and The Ex. Cheap (but far from plentiful) beer, walking back the the chalet with a Buddha Bowl handwarmer, the stunning Friday night moon halo, walking past Kim Deal and thinking “that’s Kim Deal that is”. 

This is prolly the last ATP for a while, the mind is willing but the knees are f#*#**

Image

 

I had a little stroll along the beach before any bands came on. There were some interesting properties along the promenade, ranging from boarded up and decrepit shacks to 70’s modernist constructions. The sea air helped to blow away the ming of stale fag smoke, booze and greasy sweat but then I undid all that by going to see The Cravats.

The Shend indulged in amiable banter between blasts of wonky dada punk. He seemed surprised by the size of the turnout, especially when we could of been watching the football. Seriously though, would you rather watch 22 overpaid ninnies kicking a ball and throwing tantrums or 45 minutes of off kilter anthems to ex mps or sellers (pressure not Peter)?

I liked the Cravats, I can’t work out why they didn’t register on my radar before, especially as they are supposedly a local band (to me). Nice sax work from Svor Naan too.

Buke and Gase used home made instruments (baritone ukele anyone?) and loop pedals to produce a fidgety and catchy racket. I especially liked hiccup. (On their Function Falls ep they do a very fine cover of Blue Monday – its worth checking out).

Bob Weston joijned them on stage for their final track, here’s a clippy.

 Next up for me was Red Fang – sweaty heavy duty rock mammoths pounding out loud as fuck bluesy Sabbath riffs. They rocked. Seriously hard.

Wire were kinda ok, I like their music but live I didn’t really connect. 

Kim Deal was one of my highlights. She played her first solo gig and seemed a lttle nervous but glad to play. She has an achingly beautiful voice and her songs were tender and moving. She talked about her mother’s Alzheimers and how she struggles to recognise her daughter before singing “Are you mine?”. If I wasn’t such a flinty hearted curmudgeon I might have shed a tear. 

Kim did a solo version of cannonball, vocalising the wo-wo-wuwu-woh guitar bit. She was even coaxed into singing Gigantic, despite not being sure about the guitar bits. It was one of my all time gig moments joining in with the audience on the chorus. (After 20 years I now realise I’d misheard the lyrics to Gigantic, my version of the chorus was a lot ruder).

And that was it for me on Saturday. I missed Melt Banana because of the queues and Neurosis’s grind didn’t really appeal to me at all.

I’m just finishing packing for ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas at Camber Sands.
I’d originally signed up for the weekend curated by The National but when it was announced Shellac were going to curate the week before I switched tickets (well that’s what I’m assuming, I have anxieties about etickets being declined although Ive yet to have that happen).
I’m such an Albini nut yet this will be the first time I will see them play. The bill is terrific so I’m going to gorge on sound. There is a very nifty mixtape to give a taster for the weekend, I particularly like the Gay Witch Abortion, Scrawl and Buke and Gase. Enjoy:)

Hype Williams

Hype Williams played The Warehouse and it was all rather disorientating. The venue was thick with dry ice and the strobes showed the silhouettes the singer (Inga) and the knobtwiddler (Dean) as well as an imperious Blonde aside a motor bike whose role it seems was to stand by a motorbike looking imperious. I’m finding it hard to describe the music which had elements of grime, lofi, r n b and even noise. Thanks to the dry ice the music sounded disembodied, haunted and strangely unsettling. For music with quite a dancey element it lent to an introverted head space. No actual footage I’m afraid. partly because it would be pointless trying to capture anything in the fug and partly cuz I got so absorbed in the music and didn’t bother recording.

I see from the Supersonic programme and interviews online they’ve been likened to Throbbing Gristle, and I can see the similarities, not only in the disorientating and slightly queasy melange of audio and visual but there seems to be a philosophy behind it all, albeit one too opaque for me to decipher

Silent Sounds

Hahaha- one of my Junto contributions got played on an internet radio show.

For the 30th Junto we were asked to record “silence” and then make it into a track.

Here’s my effort.

I recorded an audio track into Acid with an unconnected audio cable in the mic socket of my laptop. I got some clicks when the jack brushed against my wedding ring. I resampled the space between the clicks and amplified, filtered,stretched, squashed, gated and flanged them until I got something audible. I than ran it through Hourglass granulator to try and tame some of the instability and drop outs (only partially successful I’m afraid). I kept the clicks and jiggled them around a little.

The 30th Disquiet Junto project was the subject of an edition of At Water’s Edge (linky http://www.rebekkahhilgraves.com/at-waters-edge-4-august-2012-sounds-in-silence/ )

I highly recommend you stream / download as there are some fascinating, frightening and confounding pieces there. It’s best listened on a good set of cans at 3 am with the lights off. The conversation between tracks is stimulating too, a good rapport going on. It left me feeling I’d taken part in something special. If you’ve not done so already, make sure to check out the http://www.disquiet.com site and join in.

I’ve uploaded a few tracks over the last month.

Glossophobia was an entry into the 27th Disquiet Junto project. The mission was to create a track using the text instructions for the brief and nothing else. I decided to paste the Turkish text into a speech synthesizer and enjoyed playing around and warping the resultant voices but the time limit constraint on Junto submissions meant it ended up a bit too murky and unfocussed for my liking.

I tried “remixing” it, the result was Glossophiliac. I like how the speech synthesis sample becomes more natural sounding but I think in retrospect I could’ve hacked the last 2 minutes off the track.

Finally….ShitSummerTime Blues was me faffing around with thumbjam in my car whilst it tipped it down outside. Here in England we have had a truely abominable summer, it’s pretty much rained heavily since March, with the odd 4-5 days of respite. Damp, mouldy, grey weather. I don’t think you’re supposed to get Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer but yechhh….those pregnant black clouds are sapping my yin.

 

Finally finally…..staying on a watery theme, for the 29th Junto project we had to compose a track using running water and enhancing it’s rythmic qualities. I filled up a washing up bowl and sampled it to death, pasted it into Acid and a KP3 and twiddled around until a rapidly expanding bladder got the better of me.

 

I don’t know why it took so long but I finally got an iPod. I’ve had other mp3 players but 4MB seems a bit meagre compared to 166MB. 

I’m ploughing through my CD collection, 55Gigs so far and still another 50% to go. After that I’ve got a coupla boxes of vinyl and an ottoman full of cassettes. The whole process has thrown up some surprises, tracks I’d forgotten, tracks I didn’t realise I had and albums I’d bought and wished I hadn’t (Korn… Fear Factory….horrible ugly music). 

The way iTunes categorises genres is curious, apparently I have more Jazz albums than Punk, more Easy Listening than Techno. Closer inspection reveals Monolake is tagged as easy listening and godspeed you! black emperor is categorised as Jazz rather than post rock.Orang is pop and Dead Can Dance is reggae. Hmmm.

The upside is that the shuffle function throws up some surprises, songs I’d forgotten but that were so associated with a particular place, situation or emotion that the memories take over and for a moment, I’m a sixteen year old kid again. PIL’s Flowers of Romance takes me back to Selectadisc in Nottingham, rummaging for records in dimly lit shops during my lunch breaks. I was such a priss it took me a fortnight to psyche myself up to take “Songs About Fucking” to the counter. I’m pretty sure I blushed – ahh the innocence of youth.

Werkbench

I bought Werkbench from the app store a couple of months ago when it was plugged on the B3ta board. I’ve been playing around with it for a while and I’m still finding new ways to use and abuse it. When you load it up you’re presented with a 2 4X4 matrices. You can sample sounds into each cell using the iPad’s inbuilt mic or recording directly into the iPad by using the camera connection kit and something like a Belkin iRig. You can mute and unmute individual cells as well as adjusting their pitch and volume levels. Cells can also be arranged and you can apply delay and filters to each matrix as well as being able to alter the sample envelopes on the fly.

At first I thought this app was just a cute little drum machine, but after watching the video below you realise that with the right sounds you can create your own expressive instrument.  You can get strange vocal effects by recording phonemes and fiddling with the pitch and envelope settings in real time.

You can switch between 8 different banks of sounds and you can save and load any particular favourites. It also allows you to record live jams which can be transferred to your computer by iTunes file sharing or email. You can also use audiocopy to paste your loops into other apps.

I highly recommend this app, it’s fun, flexible and intuitive and I’ve enjoyed it’s beatmashing capabilities.

The next video is worth checking out, I really like how using a simple piece of kit like a monotron with Werkbench opens up even more possibilities.

 

Supersonic 2012

 

Here’s a link to a mixtape by Capsule to promote this years Supersonic festival. I’ve been going since 2005, I was all psyched up to see Psychic TV headline when the gig had to be evacuated because of a hoax bomb threat (this was around the time of the Tube bombings so people were twitchy). One consolation was that I got to meet Genesis P. Orridge and he kindly signed my program with eye liner. I’ve seen so many great sets over the years, Modified Toy Orchestra, Nissenenmondai, King Midas Sound System, Hallogallo….watching the floor clear when Fucked Up’s Father Damien jumped off the stage and started cartwheeling and slamming beer cans in his head, Michael Gira (solo and stripped down) and in full apocalyptic mode with Swans.

If you’ve never sampled the delights of Supersonic it’s a compact 3 day weekender where you can experience noise, various flavours of metal, stoner jams, gothic folk and smurf electronica. Supersonic is the only festival I’ve been to where you can see a man chewing a glass sheet connected to contact mikes (Justice Yelland (sp?)) There’s usually a few art installations and projects going on as well as a program of films and talks, past participants include Mark Pilkington, Nick Bullen and WIlliam Bennet.

There’s always a good selection of record and merchandise stalls and the catering is better than most music venues. Seriously, if you’ve never been and you can get to Birmingham get a ticket now! 

We Need To Talk About Kelvin


/

 

I created this track using iPad apps and audio copying them into iPad Garageband. The whooshing noises were made on an app called Vocal Jam. This allows you to record loops, overdub them and sequence them into a performance. I audio copied a session, loaded it into an audio recorder track in GB and selected the bullhorn effect and fiddled with the overdrive and distortion settings. The original loops were of me intoning the alphabet, flicking a tabletop and gulping, but that’s not apparent once fx were applied.

The drums were just me tapping on GB’s hip hop drum pad and fiddling with the echo settings in real time. Finally the synth part came from iPad Crystal synth, an app I cannot recommend highly enough, you can download the free VST for the pc, the IPad version is just as amazing and pretty much retains its functions from its PC parent.