Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Manchester Demo

Hola! Realise my posting on here has been sporadic at best; that's on account of massive essayage and the unholy trio of gigs that was Esben & the Witch, Vessels and Oceansize last week. 65days is tomorrow, and I'm supporting Engineers & NAO on Sunday with Nowhere Again, so I'm pretty busy right now.

Also, work on issue #2 of the zine is progressing well, and that will be out soon. In the meantime, the SSD Christmas gig will be at Gulliver's in NQ on Tuesday the 14th of December. Word.

Other things I've been doing include this:

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)

True fact.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Some thoughts on Nationalism...

So I've basically spent the last week reading for an essay on nationalism; it's not the first I've done, but it's served very nicely to piss me right off.

I was thinking about my own feelings on the matter- being of mixed ethnic background is interesting at times like this- and was forced to conclude that, despite occasional blips of anger about various admittedly pissy things (like the Falklands being technically British sovereign territory and Scotland essentially being reliant on British taxpayers' cash for solvency) that I just don't give much of a shit. Maybe that's my perogative as somebody who is only half-invested in it all, but I don't think that's it either. After all, it's not like I've ever supported India against England in the cricket.

Rather, I think it's that I'm proud of being English, yes, but not proud specifically of being a part of the English nation; to my mind it doesn't exist anyway. I'm proud of a being a part (however tiny) of the rich cultural heritage of this land, but culture does not equate to either state or nation. As such, I don't especially feel obligated to either, besides the obvious loyalty that I must owe the state as a result of my active citizenship. On my passport, it says 'Great Britain and Northern Ireland'; I don't ever recall putting my nationality on a form as anything other than 'British'- I would certainly never put 'English'- and I would love to see a day when I could put 'European'. When push comes to shove, who gives a fuck, right? As long as you have a democratically representative central government and some kind of accountable authority at a local level, then what fucking difference at all does the nation make to my appreciation of Shakespeare or Dickens? Answer: absolutely none.

So there you are. As Einstein famously said, "Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race."

It just absolutely astounds me that for a couple of hundred years, we've been beholden to such a strange and divisive idea, especially one that functionally was there to remove the ancien regime; with that done, what use was there for nationalism other than mass mobilisation for the purposes of a political elit- oh. Wait.

Diatribes aside, there it is. Breaking news: liberal intellectual doesn't like nationalism. Exactly, right...

In other news, some more live reviews and hopefully a couple of interviews are going to go up on HV soon, and I think I've got a couple of features in the next print issue as well as a New Noise or two. I'm also working on issue #2 of the zine, and already have had people (you know who you are) submit great stuff for it. Also, Saki Bar is now closed, so it's my job to get my shit together and re-arrange the SSD christmas party.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

And now for something completely different....

A theatre review. Saw this a while back and it was great.

Tom Stoppard
Lowry Quays Theatre
Rating: 4/5

Way back when, I was dragged kicking and screaming (well, not exactly, I was 16; more like frowning and brooding) to a performance of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll at the Duke of York Theatre. As it turned out, the name was more than just a clever ploy to try and get uncultured ruffians like me into the theatre (if indeed that was their intent, they failed, for I recall the bar was largely composed of fortysomething academic types loudly debating communist ideology)- it genuinely was pretty rock 'n' roll- subversive, emotive, and, like all the best songs, pleasurable enough to make you want to repeat the experience.

After that I was a fan, and caught his excellent earlier work Arcadia sometime later (again at the Duke of York, oddly enough); in its clever juxtaposition of classical and romantic themes within individual time frames and across the course of the narrative (around 1809 to the present), it certainly trumped Rock 'n' Roll for symbolism and metaphor, but I wasn't sure if it trumped it for substance.

So, off the boring stuff and onto a review- from having seen the play before, was the Library Theatre company's production any good? In a word, yes. In two words, yes, outstanding. Whilst Samantha Bond clearly played the character of Hannah (characterized as a sceptic female academic with intimacy issues) better in the recent Duke of York production, it's hard to say whether Neil Pearson's cold arrogance or James Wallace's brilliant wild-eyed, sexual predator was the better turn as historian Bernard Nightingale. Charlie Anson's Septimus Hodge was the perfect balance of mischievous and serious where the plot required, and Beth Park deserves a mention for her potrayal of the deceptively girlish Thomasina, Septimus' charge.

The play itself is a complicated blend of historical drama and a second setting whereby the events of the 'present' (1809 to around 1814) are examined by modern historians, trying to uncover whether or not Lord Byron fought a lethal duel in the grounds of the manor during a flying visit in April 1809. The sub-plot to the essential dichotomy of Classicism and Romanticism is the setting of academic disciplines such as history against the sciences; in the most dramatic scene Nightingale rubbishes four years of work by the mathematician Valentine, causing him to abandon his efforts. The sub-sub-plot (and, I think, possibly the most interesting) is that of the child-savant Thomasina happening upon the idea of the Heat Death after seeing a Newcomen steam engine, and applying her experimentation with iteration to it.

I'm not going to ruin any more of the plot, but simply say that it's a beautiful, moving play. More than this, it's essential for any humanities student who lives with scientists (smug bastards), or scientist who lives with humanities students (after all, as Valentine points out, the Second Law of Thermodynamics does render Byron fighting a duel in 1809 as “trivial”). There aren't many plays as intellectually challenging, and few with as moving a final vignette as a mathematician devoting the rest of his life to save the universe with “good English algebra”. Close to perfection.

Friday, 12 November 2010

It's fucking on now, chaps...

The best banner I saw at the demo all day. I was going to write a blog post all about the demonstration, its effects and what-not, but after that Indy article I don't much see the point. I'll just re-iterate my main views though:

a) Violence against the Police is wrong. They are just doing their jobs, and they are facing cuts too. Don't be a dick.
b) Smashing Tory offices is fair game. They are going to ignore our views anyway, so we'd better remind them that they don't live in some far away land and we can touch them. In the parlance of 300, we showed them that "even a god-king can bleed"; actually quite fitting given the Tories' monumental arrogance.
c) To slightly misquote Austin Powers, "who throws a fire extinguisher??" Seriously, whoever threw that fire extinguisher was trying to kill somebody in the crowd below. If a student or policeman had been killed, it would have been a fucking tragedy (see point a).

So yeah. Now for the witch-hunts and that. Luckily for me, I didn't actually raise a finger in anger (god, I've mellowed with age), but was proud to say I was there. When I get the two rolls of film I shot back from the developers, I might post some up here.

Peace x

So, the riots...

This is pretty much the perfect article on the week's events. If that cunt hadn't thrown that fucking fire extinguisher (seriously, what was he thinking?! Twat.), then we'd be on much firmer moral ground.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Fuck You, Pay Me!

Exactly how I feel, really:

"Real music fans should not be tasked with the burden of financially carrying the dead weight of cultural deadbeats. So let’s get this straight: if you think that music is not worth paying for, you are not a fan. You are not a music lover. You’re a leech and a cheapskate. So fuck you, and pay me."

Read the full article here:

There is a BIG fucking argument going on at DiS about this too, check it out here:


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Imogen Heap Strikes Back...

(This picture is nothing to do with me, I just got it off the internets)

Imogen Heap
Royal Albert Hall
5th November 2010
Rating: 5/5

Once again I found myself at an Imogen Heap gig, and since I don't own any albums I'm sitting there, vaguely wondering whether the thirty pounds plus train fare was going to be worth it. Was she really that good last time, or is it just my memory playing tricks on me?

For the first set, pre-interval, the orchestra takes their places and the maestro enters, complete with sequinned conductor's jacket. What follows is a film entitled Love the Earth, and, as is her wont, the film has been compiled by fans, with Imogen writing the score whilst on her most recent tour.

Her first attempt at audience-participation falls a bit short, as the crowd don't really seem to get into it, or even try at all. This is a bit of a shame, as it's kind of the trademark of her shows, as well as the fact that drone notes are cool. Anyway, as the only person in my area of the crowd under thirty, and judging by the number of bottles of fifty quid champagne I saw bought at the bar, I get the feeling a lot of people here think themselves a little above it all. Their loss.

The orchestral pieces that follow vary in interest and intensity; undoubtedly the most cacophanous is the crescendo to passage 8 ('Beauty') as a horn section rudely enters the mix and very much renders the sweeping strings below reminiscent of Takk-era Sigur Rรณs. The highlight of the entire piece is the gripping 5b ('Unseen') that begins with an acoustic guitar in much the same vein as 'The Bell' by Mike Oldfield, before gradually bulldozing away every instrument present with percussion and orchestral flourishes. It's absolutely breathtaking, and since I assume the whole show is being filmed for a future release, I'm sure you'll get the chance to see what I mean before long.

When passage 1b comes back, the crowd actually attempt to sing the drone note and add the whispers that Imogen requests (maybe that champagne has hit the mark by now?), and the effect is remarkable, especially in a building with the acoustics of the Royal Albert Hall.

With that, she's done, and there's an interval before her main set.

Returning for her main set, I'm instantly reminded of why I'm here: whatever Imogen sounds like on the record, the fact is that live, she's fronting a rock band. A really weird, weird, rock band, yes, but a rock band nevertheless. It's the sonic experimentation of playing such a bizarre plethora of percussion and obscure instruments within the context of this band that makes her live show so arresting, so vital. Bringing in, for example, violins and cello is cool, but it isn't that uncommon- Muse, Smashing Pumpkins, off the top of my head have both gone down that road, and that's before we've even got into the utter pretentious tosh that the Verve were doing with Ashcroft at the helm.

Uhm, where was I? Oh yes. So basically, Imogen Heap is probably the most talented single musician in any kind of musical mainstream right now. Yep, that's right. I can listen to other musicians and kid myself that yeah, sure, with a year off work and a piano/drum kit/glockenspiel/fucking nose flute I could be that good, but I'm just sitting there feeling inadequate on a very deep level, and that's the sign of being confronted with true talent. Don't agree with me? Then I will fight you. Fight Club style- no shirt, no shoes, no belt, no rules.

What did she play? Who cares, it's all good. 'Last Train Home' was a highlight, and 'Tidal' was the best track, as usual, but yes she did play 'Hide and Seek' and 'Speeding Cars', and yes, they were great. Just do yourself a favour and go and see her live. Who gives a shit that they don't sell male t-shirts at the merch desk? You insecure philistines.