Monday, 27 September 2010

Viva Albariño

I've got another Spanish wine for y'all to enjoy, a little pricier than the one I banged on about last time, but even more rewarding and just straight-down-the-fucking-line delicious. And it's a white this time, because Spainish white is vastly underrated as far as I'm concerned, and when it's good, makes the French look like fucking amateurs. Fussy as I am when it comes to reds, I'm way fucking worse when it comes to white, because there is almost nothing on Earth that tastes as bad and wrong as shit white wine. This stuff though, is the fucking bollocks. Burgáns Albariño, from Bodegas Martín Códax in Rias Baixas, Orixe, in Galicia is simply astonishing. Yeah, it's £12 a bottle, but fuck me is it worth every penny, and frankly a damn sight more.

Before I tried this, viognier, viura and gewürztraminer (when I'm in the right mood) were my favourite white grapes by a country mile, but albariño is really a bit fucking special. It doesn't have the floral, perfumey kick of a good viognier, but it terms of sheer unusual fruit it wipes the floor with it, and like viognier, it has that initial slight sweetness (bear in mind I hate sweet whites with a vengeance) that fades to a beautifully dry finish on the tongue, but the two sides of this grape seem to integrate far more seamlessly than with the viognier, where unless it's really good it can be a bit like a grape fight in yr mouth, but the acid and dryness sort of fade in and slowly overwhelm the peachy and banana notes that dominate the intitial flavour explosion (albariño is more acidic than viognier, but takes a little longer to reveal it's charms in that respect) plus it completely lacks the oily mouthfeel that can let viogniers down for me sometimes, probably because of the lack of terpenes, the oils that lend viognier it's floral and piney notes.

It's possibly the single most refreshing wine I've ever tasted, having a very small amount of underlying grapefruity bitterness that adds yet another layer of awesome to it's already complex taste, rendering it far less fucking cloying than a gewürztraminer, a wine I am very fond of, but because of the overpowering lychee notes it bungs out, one I very rarely drink without some serious fucking game or fatty fish to counter it's mouthcoating sugariness (even with a dry one). It's so good I'm having to force myself to not just glug the whole damn bottle in one go, and it's worth the effort, because the flavour lingers in the mouth and nose in a manner I've never quite encountered with a white before. It's genuinely amazing stuff, and I would like to thank the staff of Oddbins in Blackheath for a. recommending it to me in the first place, and b. being really good people who really understand their booze, and enjoy talking about it with likeminded folks*. Seriously, this stuff is as good as white gets, and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.

Note to La Spliffe: Do not buy Australian albariño, as due to an astounding fuckup about 10 years ago or so, almost all Australian wines labelled as albariño are actually made from savagnin, which isn't a bad grape by any standards, but it sure as shit ain't albariño. See here for the amusing details. Oh, and I'm about midway into my list of killer Aussie wines at the moment and will have it ready for you in a few days.

*Drunks with a keen sense of aesthetics.


Thor's Helmet has returned to the revolting confines of our rehearsal space a couple of times now, and I can confidently say that I am delighted by the results so far. The level of wrongness achieved at the last session was pretty impressive to say the least. We resurrected what is possibly our most unacceptable song, the deeply sleazy blues Snakeskin Woman, a track which, shall we say, pushes the boundaries of taste both lyrically and musically. It's basically the bastard offspring of Elmore James and hardcore porn smothered in a fucking ton of sludge and slurry which I fucking adore playing because I get to flex my bottleneck muscles in a manner I don't get to very often, because much as I fucking love blues, most people who play it are nothing but copyists and purists so far up their own arseholes that they start to resemble human Klein bottles, who completely lack any sense of fucking humour and totally fail to understand the idea of originality.

It's a fucking rare joy just to let rip with the slide with no regard for taste or decency whilst Garuda bellows his fucking head off with some of the most downright disgusting lyrics this side of Whitehouse, plus it acts as a nice bridge between the twin epics that bookend the set; the ever-ascending Chromeish motorik lunacy of Lay, and TH's signature outrage, Epsilon In Malachandrian Red, half an hour of cosmic ranting, ultradoom and spacerock insanity that never fails to make jaws drop due to the utter shamelessness it radiates like a newly born star, as it gives us a chance to relax a little and regroup before EIMR, which is a fairly intense piece to play, to say the least, and we'd probably all have heart attacks if we had to go straight into that fucker after Lay.

And speaking of Lay, that song sounds so fucking strong compared to when we used to play it, especially after I rewrote the main riff and now that Indrid's bass is augmented with enough effects and fuzz monstrousness to be on an equal footing with my wall of cosmic death guitar, the fucker's sounding like a hideous cross between Jack Bruce in fuzz loon mode and Lemmy/Duncan Sanderson at their crankiest, and there can be no higher praise from me for a bassist in this context. As Donald "Duck" Dunn would say, we got a band powerful enough to turn goat's piss into gasoline, and I reckon two more rehearsals like this and we'll be setting the dates for the live shit, and all I'm going to say is we've got some ideas for films, backdrops etc. that if we can pull 'em off (matron) will match the music in terms of utter galactic foolishness. Oh, and if y're really, really (un)lucky, we'll do Tales Of Brave Ulysses with me on vocals. I can't fucking wait...

*When I say blues, I mean real fucking blues, not the fucking White Stripes.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Estar Or Ir Puesto De Speed

On a somewhat lighter note, here's some more excellent Dr Feelgood action from the Kursaal, Southend*, which I post for the following reasons; 1. Roxette and You Shouldn't Call The Doctor are shitkicking examples of proper UK R'n'B, 2. Wilko Johnson was on fucking fire and damn, that's a good suit, 3. Lee Brilleaux's fantastic bass drum humping, off yr tits on cheap speed tics and facial expressions and the dirtiest, but sharp as fuck, white suit known to man, and 4. and this is the important one, for all of those who wondered what a bastard suit looks like, check out the Sparkes on the bass. That's a bastard suit.

*Fucking shithole with a grey mud beach on the Thames estuary. I wouldn't bother.

Excedido En Número Uno A Siete

By some weird quirk of fate or coincidence (yr choice), out of the 8 flats in the building I live in, 7 of those have at least one musician living in them*. However, they are uniformly of the classical stripe and, horrifyingly, more than one of them plays the fucking clarinet**. There's also a cellist, a harpist, 2 pianists, a conductor/composition lecturer, and a flautist***. Sometimes, walking up the stairs to my lair at the top of the building, I hear beautiful random music when 2 or more people are practicing, Ivesian collisions of melody and time signature, unexpected harmonies and wonderful discordancies, diffracted round doors and reflecting off the bare white walls and ceiling of the narrow stairwell. When it's harmonious it's almost like having an Eno installation in yr house, which is really quite a good thing. Sometimes it's multiple fucking clarinets, which is not, well unless one of 'em is playing Messiaen. I wouldn't mind that.

The walls in this building are old and thick, which means you can make a hell of a fucking racket without disturbing anyone, unless of course you fling all the windows open, but aside from then, you can only hear the sound of other people in the stairwell. As I said, I always notice, and often stop and listen for a bit, to the music of the stairs, and I wonder if everyone else does it too. I also wonder what they feel and think about the sounds that emanate from the top flat of our shared home, noises made by a musician who shares almost none of their musical values save those of precision and striving for excellence (however you view either of those nebulous concepts).

Because we live and play in utterly different soundworlds. Right down to first principles, the way we make music is simply not the same. Neither is better, or more correct, just very, very different. Not that there aren't odd and unexpected crossovers, they just tend to happen by accident, similar conclusions reached by disparate means, like Leibniz and Newton with the invention of the calculus§. Take tuning. My conception of tuning is based upon a completely different set of assumptions (or axioms, if you want to be a ponce about it) to those of the classical musician (of today anyway, tuning was a much more fluid thing, even in the classical world, in the past). I'm not going to go into details, because I'd have to get seriously maths on yr arse, and no one's reading this blog for equations§§.

But, as I am prone to do, I digress. I really would like to know what yr average classical clarinettist thinks when they walk up the stairs and hear the sound of Bach wafting out of one flat, mixing with the sound of "Dumping The Fucking Rubbish" by Whitehouse or Albert Ayler at full bore, let alone the howling violence that can ensue when I'm playing guitar, from my place. Probably "what the fuck are they doing up there?" or "I didn't see any roadworks outside", but then again, I've never had a noise complaint so who knows? And it's not just idle curiosity, I'm seriously interested in other peoples reactions to unfamiliar sound/music because, as you know, I crave it like smack, and find others responses to it constantly surprising (and occasionally inspiring).

I mean, the gap between music that people are willing to accept, and even enjoy, when it's presented as soundtrack/accompaniment as opposed to being the main focus of attention is often huge. For many, it seems to me anyway, dissonance/harshness/just plain weirdness is perfectly acceptable when it's used as manipulation, an intensification of affect, a way to cue the subconscious into viscerally reacting to the images/action on the screen/stage/whatever, and will even wax lyrical about how amazing the music was, how they'd never heard anything like that before, but are then appalled by the same music when they hear it again removed from the visual context. An example; a huge fan of 2001 (who shall remain nameless), who loved the music in the context of the film, absolutely loathed the same Ligeti pieces (Atmosphères and Lux Aeterna) when I put them on at home, especially Lux Aeterna, which she memorably criticised with the words "turn that fucking wailing shit off", yet during the film told me it was one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring things she'd ever heard.

And that's what interests me so much, these differences in perception of a piece of music, of sound itself, in different contexts. Maybe I'm wired differently, just far more sonically oriented than other people (or just plain obsessed), but for as long as I can remember, listening has held greater importance than sight for me, even over the visual (then again, I can't see shit without my contacts in), possibly to a slightly debilitating degree at times - I know I've missed things I could/should have seen at the time because I was paying too much attention to listening, because other people have pointed it out to me later§§§ - although I've got better at the balance these days - but when you've got ears like a bat with eyes to match you gotta work with what you've got.

I know I'm off on one, that'd be the wine (or possibly my amusing cold medication and sleeping tablets which essentially constitute a solid version of purple drank), but bear with me, it will get somewhere eventually. Possibly. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, ears and eyes and brains and shit. It strikes me that an awful lot of people (this is not a criticism, just an observation) don't (or won't, or can't, or choose not to) view the visual and sonic aspects of perception as complementary but separate, possibly because of the visual bias in our culture, hearing seems to be viewed as an adjunct to sight as opposed to what it actually is, a far more highly developed, innately more sensitive faculty (in terms of frequency, we can hear nine octaves give or take, but we can see less than one, to give but one example), or maybe because, when we're conscious anyway, hearing is involuntary, you can close yr eyes, but no matter how hard you try it's incredibly difficult to truly block yr ears, you don't have to look, but you have to hear, even if you really don't want to listen.

Our hearing seems to be hardwired into the limbic system, to the un/subconscious mind to a greater degree than sight, and if I was going to go out on a limb (as this is not my field of expertise), I would guess it evolved first, an extension of the ability to sense vibration or movement in the environment, which I'd imagine is where our conscious tactile senses evolved from too. We generally have so much less control over (the perception of and willed interaction with) our sonic environment, and it pushes our buttons in such a primal, basic manner, bypassing so may of the perceptual/intellectual filters we see the world through, cuts to the quick in way sight doesn't, and maybe that atavistic side to hearing is what relegates it to a position below sight in the worldview of so many. You can't see out the back of yr head, but you know when y're being followed, and it's the ears, and possibly unconscious tactile inputs that alert you to those things, and maybe it's those very ancient facets of our sense of sound that create the very visceral reactions to unfamiliar sound and music, almost provoking a fight or flight response.

I've never encountered any other artform which can provoke such a deep sense of unease and discomfort when confronting the unknown whilst bypassing the intellect (for want of a better word) as music. I've heard certain pieces of both music and film described as harrowing, but if asked why the film was harrowing, people know why, can put it into words, conceptualise and describe exactly why it was so horrible, but with music, that often isn't the case, it's a case of "it's nasty" or "it just feels wrong"^, and maybe that lack of conscious control over what is heard and our reaction to it, as opposed to what is seen, is the key.

Or maybe red wine + codeine + promethazine has bent my brain out of shape so far I've taken leave of reality and am talking vast dungloads of pretentious bullshit. Reality's a vastly overrated and (from my physicist's eye) misunderstood concept anyway in the first place. But fuck it, that's a rant for another day. And different drugs.

*Yes you sarcastic bastards, I am including myself. The 8th contains a financier (who works in sub-prime mortgages!) and a psychiatrist. Bloody Hell.

**Clarinets, and their effect on my life and others, is a rant for another day.

***I may not be the biggest fan of the flute, but I'm sure as shit glad it's a classical flautist and not a fucking hippy with a bongo playing friend.

§Given the amount of mathematics buried in theories of music, this isn't such a glib comparison as you might think.

§§I would, if I wasn't writing it, but then again I really, really love that shit. If you really want to get into tuning, go to this wikipedia article, then follow the links there and elsewhere until yr head falls off. If you really want to know I use Just Intonation (for the acoustic stuff) and variations on Meantone Temperament (electric stuff), gotta love them wolf notes, and I do not necessarily use a fixed tuning centre; i.e. A=440Hz.

§§§Sometimes, this annoys me, particularly when if what I had missed had been pointed out to me at an apposite time I might have had a much better night...

^I've never been called a cunt for suggesting we watch a certain film and someone else finding it disagreeable, but I gave up caring a long fucking time ago if I receive abuse for putting certain records on. Like I say, atavistic as opposed to reasoned reactions.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Parecido A Un Roble

As you may have noticed, I quite enjoy a drink, and in common with my attitude to everything and anything else, I am a fussy fucker when it comes to alcohol. Particularly when it comes to beer. Because the thing with beer is, unlike wine, spirits, blah, is that price is absolutely no clue whatsoever to quality*, a bottle of Hoegaarden costs the same as a bottle of Stella**, but seriously, what would you rather drink? An outrageously refreshing, spicy, cloudy, citrusy brew with a depth of flavour which means you can savour or glug it, depending on mood and circumstance, or a beer that looks like piss mixed with washing up liquid, tastes (if that's the right word) slightly less appealing than that, and is popularly known as wifebeater? Exactly. So bland lager lovers can fuck off right now because you will not like this beer.

Said beer being Innis & Gunn Original, which is one of the best, and certainly unique, beers I have ever fucking tasted. It's a malty, very Scottish ale to which something has been done which doesn't normally happen to a beer. It's matured in oak bourbon barrels for 77 days***, which imparts a mellow toffee sweetness with a vanilla backnote and an odd creaminess, a softness to the beer, which are flavours and textures you just don't expect, and thinking logically about it, sound like they shouldn't work, but work they fucking do, this stuff is just fantastic, 6.6% of far too drinkable brilliance that you owe it to yrselves to try. Like I say, odd, but really fucking good.

*Not that price is the guarantee of excellence, but there is a marked difference in quality, particularly with spirits, as you head upwards through the price spectrum.

**And yes, I know Hoegaarden is stupidly expensive in pubs over here. Probably so the pub can pay off the huge loan they had to take out to pay for the ridiculously huge and ostentatiously ornate pump it comes out of.

***They do a rum cask one too but I haven't tasted it yet.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Despierto Otra Vez

There are weekends, then there are Weekends. The last few days definitely constituted an excellent example of the latter. Between Friday and Monday I probably had about 6 hours sleep (which probably isn't helping the manky cold I have at the moment* but fuck it, that's what Syndol's for), but I don't care. Friday's** party was just fucking excellent, loads of brilliant people I haven't seen in an age, everyone on top form, enough alcohol to refloat the Bismarck, some damn fine music (I even managed to behave myself at the decks for once) and an extremely well-stocked pharmacy, and which ended, as per usual, with the last few standing (if that's the right word) marching off to our traditional Croydon boozer, because when you've been up for that long, and y're that twatted, the only sensible fucking course of action is to hit a pub where; a. they sell extremely good beer at exactly the right temperature, and b. will serve us lot in seemingly whatever rotten state we turn up in***, and we've turned up hanging in fucking rags on many occasions, yet never been refused service. Then again, we're good people.

And Sunday? Fucking brilliant too. But I'm far too much of a gentleman (stop laughing at the back) to tell you about that.

*No, I can't think of anything else that could have contributed to it. I have no idea what y're implying.

**And for some of us, most of Saturday.

***Although they tend to draw the line at my mate and I's occasional freely improvised duets on the (rather good) pub piano. A word to the wise: If musicians frequent yr pub, and it has a piano, when said musicians are drunk, that piano is going to get played. If you do not want this to happen, don't have a fucking piano in yr fucking pub. Easy really.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Habrá Sangre y DMT

Please forgive the complete insane/nonsensical/just plain fucked nature of anything posted over the coming weekend, as the party I'm attending tonight is going to get really fucking messy and leave a trail of carnage all the way from Croydon to Kilburn by the time everyone has finally fucked off/passed out/been arrested/carted off in a ambulance or just generally lost it in the most enjoyable and spectacular fashion possible. I'm supposed to be deejaying at around 3 in the morning, and am under strict instructions "not to play music that will fuck people up" which is a bit like locking an alcoholic in whatever distillery makes their preferred brand of liquid oblivion and telling them to "look after the stock". You'd think that people who've I've been mates with for over a decade would know better by now...

See you on the other side.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Looking the way I do, I've grown used to instantly being spoken to in the local language whenever I go to southern Europe, and then enjoying the inevitable look of surprise when I reply in a broad south London accent, but for some bizarre reason, a similar thing has started happening regularly in my home town. The amount of people who've asked me if I'm Spanish over the previous couple of months is well into double figures, the best occurrence being when someone told me that I'd really lost my accent, which given that my accent is fairly pronounced to say the least*, threw me a little. I obviously looked quite confused at this, and so they went on to ask (and I knew it was coming after my temporary state of perplexity had passed) "oh, aren't you Spanish?", and they seemed genuinely shocked that I'm a Londoner. I mean, Spain is one of my favourite places on Earth (as you may have gathered), and one of the very few places I would choose to live in** apart from London, but I had no idea that I'd absorbed, via cultural osmosis, enough essence of Spain for it to start oozing out of my pores causing people who don't know me from Adam to assume that I come from there. Not that it's a bad thing, just slightly weird.

*The bit of London I come from has a glottal stop so hard that the CIA use recordings of certain London accents to familiarise people learning Arabic and various other languages which feature said glottal stop with the sound in a familiar language. Seriously, I'm not having you on.

**I could definitely get used to living in Palma - even though my Catalan/Mallorquin is shit compared to my Castillian - although I'd probably end up dying from a boquerone and red wine overdose. Seville wouldn't be so bad either.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Sin Igual

Listen to this. This is the greatest fucking piece of music ever recorded. And if you disagree with me you haven't fucking lived properly. Come back in twenty years and listen again. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Goin' Down Slow by Howlin' Wolf...

Anuncio De Servicio Público

Goddamn this is nice wine. Go and buy a bottle (or better still, several) of Otoñal 2009, a rather delicious, and inexpensive (about £7) Rioja from Bodegas Olarra, which wipes the fucking floor with that Faustino shit (why is it so fucking expensive?, I'd rather drink Siglo) that costs almost twice as much, and is rapidly becoming one of my favourite everyday reds*. It's a massively juicy bugger of a wine, fruity without being overpoweringly plummy, with a touch of oak, and crucially (for me anyway) it's a Rioja with no foreign varieties in the mix whatsoever (Tempranillo, Garnacha & Graciano), which means it hasn't been within sniffing range of a Cabernet Sauvingon grape (the most over fucking rated red varietal in the world, I don't care what the fucking snobs say, I can't fucking stand it), which is what lead me to me buy it in the first place.

Because when it comes to red wine, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese are where it's at as far as my taste buds and nose are concerned, especially stuff from the north of those countries. I mean, it's never going to replace Barolo as my ultimate wine, but then again, Barolo is a little pricier, to say the least, and not necessarily a wine you'd want every day even if you had the fucking money (which I certainly don't) given that in the heaviness stakes, Barolo (younger examples especially) is the Skullflower of the wine world, but fuck me Otoñal's really fucking nice, outrageously drinkable, tastes like it's twice the price and it goes with bleeding meat like they were designed for each other, which is important to me, given my predilection for enormous slabs of pretty much anything on four legs** (except rabbit, which no one will ever convince me is worth eating***, even the Spanish and Maltese methods of cooking it don't do it for me).

Seriously, this is really good shit. I've been back to my utterly fantastic local off-license§ for another couple of bottles, because the first one disappeared down my throat in the time it took me to write the first paragraph and the second one's almost dead. It's that fucking good. Buy some now before the snobs notice, because when I looked it up on the web lots of wine ponces are banging on about how good 2009 Rioja is in general, and I think it may not stay so cheap for too long...

*Pireneos Mesache is also highly recommended. By me. And every other bastard who's got drunk on it with me.

**Or two. Or with fins. Or tentacles. Or mandibles. Oh fuck it, I'll eat almost anything that was running/swimming/crawling/slithering/whatever. It doesn't even have to be dead. Like krill, the spacedust of the seafood world. I also heartily recommend zebra. And antelope. Never tried camel tho, if anyone knows of a butcher who sells it...

***Never trust an animal that doesn't make a noise unless you dropkick it. They're planning something. Hare, on the other hand, is ultragamey godlike awesomeness, especially cooked in it's own blood.

§I'm not telling you which one, they get great wine off the back of a lorry and flog it far too cheap, I once got 4 bottles of Barolo for a fiver each from there. And I seem to have become their unofficial real ale taster over the past six years or so. Make of that what you will...

Monday, 13 September 2010

Ciudad De Aceite: Addendum

It is on iPlayer. Right here. Watch now.

I knew that this stupid smartphone was useful for something, i.e. posting this shit for your enjoyment and enlightentment.

Ciudad De Aceite

Before I bugger off out to pastures disgraceful, I thought I'd write about one of my formative influences, one which might surprise a few people, but also one which might make sense of a few things to some of you, namely Dr Feelgood. Yes, you read that right. I fucking adore Dr Feelgood and don't care who knows it. Whilst watching Julien Temple's brilliant Oil City Confidential yesterday night*, it was pointed out to me (through gales of drunken laughter) that I was dressed identically to Wilko Johnson in his 70s prime**, and the fact that I took this as a great compliment came as a surprise.

Because if it's balls out, straight down the fucking line Rhythm'n'Blues with a psychotic edge y're after, the Feelgoods (with Wilko) are pretty fucking unbeatable, and compared with most of the punks they influenced, conveyed a genuine aura of reined-in violence and threat, the sense that at any moment all hell could break loose. And goddamn it, Lee Brilleaux and Wilko had, for my money, the finest stage presence and unconscious rapport of any frontline I've ever fucking seen, not to mention great fucking taste in clothes.

A pair of mismatched nutcases, one a teetotal speed and hash fuelled ex-schoolteacher (see the film for the extremely amusing stories underlying his exit from education) who played guitar like breaking glass, and a beer-sweating thug with a penchant for gourmet cooking who could sing the blues like he fucking meant it, unlike most of their 60s freakbeat antecedents, who sound like their balls haven't dropped in comparison (Keith Relf, I'm thinking of you in particular). No one owned the stage like those two, Wilko high-speed scuttling round the stage like a methed-up spider with the worlds worst unblinking thousand yard stare, with seemingly no awareness of anything or anyone else, all the while cranking out those cut-glass simultaneous rhythm/lead lines must have been a genuinely unsettling experience up close, and allied to Brilleaux's Canvey Island rasp, on the fucking money harp blowing and someone's gonna get fucked tonight attitude they couldn't fucking lose.

The fact that they had a rhythm section who could turn R'n'B into motorik and back again didn't fuckin' hurt. Bollocks, I have to go, so I will leave you with a fucking awesome version of their classic, She Does It Right, from 1975 (you may have noticed I've changed the clip, this one's just a bit more motorik, and Wilko bears an amusing resemblance to the latest Doctor Who, plus that paedo deejay on the original clip was making people a little queasy). More on this soon, I'm off. Enjoy

*It should be on BBC iPlayer for a week, go watch it even if you don't like the Feelgoods, because it's one of the best, funniest, saddest, truest portraits of what it's like to be in a band composed entirely of bored lunatics and drunks. A situation I am not entirely unfamiliar with.

**I was extremely glad that it was Wilko I was compared to, as opposed to John B. Sparkes, who looks like a drunk spoiling for a fight at a 70s wedding, and memorably referred to his stage clothing as a "bastard suit" in the film, causing both of us to collapse in more gales of even drunker laughter.


I am so fucking bored today. The tedium of what I have to do at work today* is so overwhelming it feels like an altered state of consciousness. Which I s'pose it is, only a really shit one. Time has gone bendy, I'm so tired that my eyes have that special slightly hot and too big for their sockets feel, coffee is having no effect on me whatseoever, and the official office cretin will not fucking shut up**. I'll be in a much better mood the second I'm out of this building, but that's not for a few hours yet, so I just felt the need to vent bile so I will be my normal lovely self upon leaving this evening***.

*It involves a 276 page spreadsheet. I hate spreadsheets. Any job which involves a spreadsheet for any fucking reason is automatically annoying, a 276 page one can fuck right off. The fact that said aggravation is contained within an even larger badly written, legalese enburdened and technically incorrect document is just the shit flavoured icing on an already crap cake. Cunts.

**That 2' stilson wrench still lives next to my desk. If there's a really long break between this and the next post, well, it probably means the fuckwit's started whistling and I've finally snapped.

***Joy, I get to travel on the Hipster Express again. Maybe I'll see another bloke in jeggings and have a laughter induced coronary. I saw a bloke in Berwick St wearing jeggings and a stupid too small hat and did fear for my arteries. It was almost as good as when, sitting in my local cafe, and idly people watching, one of the Barleys from over the road, who was wearing his silly girls jeans round his arse gangsta style, ran across the road for a bus, only for his jeans to descend to his ankles as he ran, sending the silly twat flying, and making me gob my breakfast all over the window. Laugh? I nearly fucking choked. But it was a beautiful moment.

Sunday, 12 September 2010


I may be many things, but I'm not a fucking snob. I don't believe that everyone should share my tastes and predilections, and I get quite arsey* when confronted with that attitude when it's aimed toward me, or towards someone or something that means a lot to me. I don't expect everyone to enjoy music that sounds like someone projectile vomiting into a broken cement mixer, or to share my twin loves of modernism and abstraction, but if y're going to tell me something's worthless, then I expect a reasoned argument to underlie that opinion. If you just don't like something, at a visceral level, that's fine, just say so, but if y're going to contemptuously dismiss whatever the something in question is, without coming to some sort of understanding of it, that's different.

I know that my language can be a little untempered at times**, but I try to never call something shit, or dismiss it out of hand without having a damn fucking good reason to do so***, because it not only makes you look ignorant, but shows a fundamental lack of respect for others viewpoints/tastes/whatever, and therefore makes you not just ignorant, but an arsehole. And yeah, before anyone points it out, I'm fully aware that I'm capable of being the most stubborn, intransigent cunt you can imagine, but, and this is the kicker, only when I'm on home turf and the person I'm talking to knows fuck all and isn't willing to listen. If we're on yr pet subject, or artform or whatever it is that floats yr boat, then I may have opinions, but I want to hear your perspectives, to learn, because you know more about it than me, and even if we still disagree, I've learnt something, had my viewpoint expanded, gained new insight into whatever it is we're discussing (obviously the same should apply with the roles reversed).

And hell, maybe my less-informed ideas might open up new avenues in yr thought too, simply because of the infinite number of angles from which it's possible to come at a subject. But the point is, it's a conversation of, if not equals, but at least two people who share some of the same knowledge, who can rationally take on board what's being said, who's mindsets are flexible enough, who have enough empathy, to not necessarily agree, but reach a mutual area of understanding, and also to accept when they're wrong or misguided. But when you just dismiss someone out of hand, with no understanding, no empathy whatsoever, y're not just an arsehole, not just a snob, but a fair way down the fucking road to becoming a bigot.

*This may be a slight understatement.

**See the above footnote.

***Except when some fucking hippy is attempting to convince me that some loopy psuedoscientific concept is right and Physics is wrong. Not that I don't have a fucking good reason in this case, it's just that a. it's absolutely impossible to argue with these fuckwits, because they don't understand the underlying principles behind what they think they're talking about§, and b. think you represent some kind of conspiracy to keep the true knowledge of the nature of the universe out of the hands and minds of the population at large. Life's too short to waste my breath on such idiocy, you will be told to fuck off in no uncertain terms.

§Reichian/Orgone horseshit and perpetual motion machines being two typical offenders. It doesn't matter how carefully you attempt to couch yr arguments, or how you organise or manipulate the data you think you've gathered, everything you are claiming violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and yr hypothesis is, in layman's terms, completely fucked. Or as Eddington put it:

"The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation."

And don't even get me started on homeopathy. Chemical fucking memory my arse. When you have a "discipline" where no one who practices it can actually explain in any way the mechanism underlying what they do, you have charlatanism, nothing more. It makes me almost physically sick that you can get a fucking BSc in homeopathy, which is no more a fucking science than astrology or having a fucking wank.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Cóctels 2: Si Estás En Mallorca...

As an addendum to the last post, if you really want to experience some of the finest booze known to humanity, in what is possibly the most outrageous setting of any bar in Europe, then this is where you need to go; Abaco, in Palma inhabits a parallel universe where everyone is a decadent tyrant with appalling taste and limitless resources, where rose petals rain on yr head if y're there on a Friday night*. I recommend the Especial Abaco, a goldfish bowl full of fuck knows how many different kinds of booze that tastes like nectar and is possibly the closest thing this planet has to the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. Yeah, it's a bit pricey, but look at the fucking place.

And this is just a very small glimpse of the outrage. Now just imagine what the fucking toilets are like...

*I'm actually not taking the piss here. This actually happens.

Borracho, Pero En La Mejor Manera Posible

I love dodgy after hours bars, which, aside from the fantastic record shops (Sister Ray, Phonica, Sounds Of The Universe...), and cornucopia of really fucking good and cheap eateries is one reason I actually love Soho and Fitzrovia, because they're fucking full of 'em, if you know where to go. For one thing, there's generally a much smaller wanker quotient than in the more, shall we say, visible watering holes of that area, and the cocktails are cheaper. And I do like a properly made cocktail.

Not the shit that certain types of pubs and bars call cocktails, sickly concoctions involving lurid milkshakey looking gloop* or (Lucifer fucking preserve us) Red fucking Bull**, but proper fucking cocktails made with high quality ingredients by someone who knows and cares about what they're doing. Because mixing them takes skill, and if you use cheap shit, it doesn't matter how well you combine all the bits, it's still going to taste like cheap shit, just more complex cheap shit.

I say this, because last night I had the perfect Negroni, better even than the exemplary examples served up in the bar of NY's Time Hotel***. OK, maybe the company made everything taste better, but fuck it was good. A perfect balance of sweet and bitter, cut through with the aromatic astringency of the gin§, and a burnt orange twist just sealing the fucking deal. And were we in some posh bar? Nope, some dive round the back of Oxford Street, and it was £6. Fucking brilliant.

The cocktail, in it's purest form, like a proper Martini§§ or Tom Collins, is pretty much the pinnacle of the alcoholic art, a balancing act that's harder to achieve than it looks, and I'm glad it's an artform that hasn't died out, that people care enough about this shit to really fucking practice, to learn to play the ingredients if you like, to produce such outrageously alcoholic and goddamn delicious concoctions for good people who understand that drinking is about so much more than getting pissed, and I for one salute them and their dedication to enriching our drunken conversations with their magnificent creations.

Oh, and if you want to enjoy a proper Negroni in the privacy of yr own home, there's a rather fine recipe here. For the vermouth, you can use Martini, but it's way better with Cinzano. Fuck, that might be the ponciest sentence I've ever written. Excellent.

*What are you drinking toffee flavoured gunk for? What are you, fucking 12? Go and have a White Russian, or a Brandy Alexander if you want something creamy. For fucks sake.

**The most disgusting drink ever conceived, tastes foul, but it's the smell that gets me. For some bizarre reason I can smell Red Bull a mile away, at a distance even neat poteen would be undetectable and it makes me retch. And it looks exactly like fizzy piss.

***I can't believe how much that place cost a night (well over £200) in comparison to the size of it's admittedly nice rooms, I know NY is notorious for shoeboxes, but the bed wasn't even long enough for me, and I'm not exactly lanky, then again, we didn't pay for the room, but seriously. Their website is so artfully photographed that it's impossible to judge the size of anything, except you can guarantee that it's smaller than you think.

§Didn't see what one she made it with, but I suspect it was Tanqueray judging by the kick. I love that stuff.

§§And, if y're like me, a really Dirty one. Also you may detect a slight gin-cocktail bias here. What can I say? I like gin. A lot.


To quote DJO's version of Jean-Luc Picard, my head feels like it's been shat through a wormhole and fucked by a balrog. In the best possible way. My brain is still in a very comfy bed and is resolutely refusing to co-operate until it's been fed with copious amounts of good fucking coffee, so this is probably going to get a bit random. Maybe James Cotton (acid house bloke as opposed to the bluesman) isn't necessarily the most sensible music to be listening to under these circumstances, but hell, it feels right so fuck it.

And things are feeling right at the moment, in a way that they haven't for a fair whack of time, because I've finally stopped thinking and started fucking doing, and in the process discovered that all my friends were right and I was wrong, that I'm not the social retard with a permanent black cloud hovering over his head I've sometimes thought I was, and I've finally broken that fucking feedback loop of shitty thinking and negative self-analysis that has defeated me in the past. In short, I am no longer a twat.

I'm also smoking less, and not just because the quality of hash in London has increased by a remarkable degree in the last few months or so, but because getting stoned is fucking great, but you can go too far, and when the only points in your day when y're not a shambling smokebeast are work and sleep, you've gone too far, and I was chainsmoking constantly the second I got through the door during the week and as soon as I was awake at the weekends, almost to the exclusion of any other, more stimulating activities, like actually getting off the fucking sofa. So now I smoke because I enjoy it, as opposed to using it as a crutch and basically self-medicating myself out of the conscious world, a place I've discovered I like a whole lot more than I thought now I'm not invariably experiencing it through fogged and distorted lenses.

And it's fucking fantastic. I've laughed more in the last month than in the 12 which preceded it, rediscovered the joy of just being with good people, rekindled friendships that were dormant from neglect and petty stuff that really didn't mean shit. I no longer have the constant, idiotic background paranoia that I'm behaving like an arsehole and people are just putting up with me, which I always knew was fucking stupid, because my friends are generally not the sort of people who would refrain from telling me I'm being a cunt when I am, which is just one of the many reasons I love 'em all to death.

I'm so grateful to the support of the people around me, their unswerving fucking brilliance in knowing what to say, and what not to say, for listening to all of my crap, for putting up with my unreliability* and my erratic behaviour and moods and having faith in me when, frankly, my well had run dry. In that respect I'm one lucky fucker, and there's no way on fucking earth I'd be writing this if it wasn't for them.

So I have a life again, and it's one I love, and it's so fucking inspiring. Music and words and ideas are just leaking out of my pores, I'm pulling new riffs, sounds and songs from the air like a demented butterfly collector. Thor's Helmet is sounding fucking immense, a much meaner, nastier proposition than ever before, a roaring fucking spacerock fuelled doom machine with a glint in it's eye and a really dirty mind, lyrics so shameless they'd make Dave Wyndorf blush and no sense of dignity whatsoever. Think Angels In Pigtails-era Terminal Cheesecake fistfucking Black Sabbath with a massive side order of (early) Hawkwind and Chrome.

There'll be new Morgen und Nite stuff coming soon too, two of the flat out weirdest pieces of music we've ever recorded, which I'm saying nothing about until they're both completely done, except that if you listen on headphones to one of the tracks it actually makes you feel dizzy and vaguely nauseous, and which, now I'm actually off my arse and doing shit, will be released by some as yet unsuspecting record label on heavy fucking vinyl because I won't sleep until it happens. And I'm almost done with two, yes two, solo recordings. One all guitar, one techno with a big slab of gooey acid house stirred in, but more on those soon. Oh, I almost forgot to mention The Electric Bacons. So now I have**.

The biggest thing for me though, is being able to go out, to actually want to go out, the fact that I'm genuinely socially confident for probably the first time in my life, that the fear, the anxiety around people has dissipated, the shocking revelation that I can actually talk to someone I've never clapped eyes on before without having to be off my face on something or other and without wanting to run and hide, let alone contemplate the idea that that person might find me interesting or even (shock, horror) attractive. I may sound like a bit of a dick here, but I couldn't give a toss, because if it wasn't for these changes in me, then I wouldn't be sitting here with a head full of amazing possibilities, and an idiot grin on my face you'd need an angle grinder to remove, and the reason for said grin would never have entered my life.

*Some of which (but not all) can be put down to a vicious autoimmune condition called Guillain–Barré Syndrome which almost killed me three years ago. And yes, I know, I haven't mentioned that before. Just too fucking raw. I never wrote about it because it was fucking terrifying, and every time I tried found that words were just inadequate to express what it was like. Still do, I'm just infinitely better at dealing with it, and the consequences of it now.

**Soon the world will bear witness to the porcine garage glory. And it won't be best pleased.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

El Nuevo Modelo Quinientos

Oh yes. Pass the cleaning equipment, because I may need it quite soon. Juan Atkins, Living God King Of Detroit Techno, is putting out the first new Model 500 ep for 11 years on this coming Monday, and I'm slightly overexcited*, because the one track I've heard from it is a rather fine slice of electrocharged loveliness, because I fucking love Model 500, and almost all of my favourite Juan Atkins tunes have slid out under that particular moniker. Anyway, the reason I'm posting this, is that you should go here, and listen to the glistening marvellousness that is "Huesca".

*Yeah, like this is some new phenomenon concerning me and music.

Monday, 6 September 2010


Driving in London can be, to put it mildly, a somewhat aggravating experience, which is why I try to a: avoid it if possible, and b: tend to listen to the less, shall we say, psychotic bits of my record collection (or the radio) in an attempt to lessen the frustration levels of driving in our beautiful but wildly haphazard maze of a city. Well I had no choice in the matter, as some of the tools I needed for todays industrial lunacy are not allowed to be carried on public transport*.

So drive I did, and I do believe that there must be some sort of fuckwits convention occurring today, given the level of general ignorance and random insanity that I witnessed and occasionally dodged this afternoon. But, just for once, none of it annoyed me, and not just because of my vastly improved mood and outlook, but also because I flicked the stereo onto BBC Radio 3, and heard the first notes of what is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful pieces of music ever composed, Berg's Violin Concerto**, and I knew no matter how apallingly anyone drove, no matter how many times I was cut up by some badly-suited prick in a Mercedes, BMW or Audi***, that while the sound of that achingly beautiful piece filled the van, I was immune.

Because it's an amazing piece of music. It manages to infuse the often forbiddingly dissonant world of serialism with a breathtakingly elegiac lyricism, bridging the avant-garde and traditional tonality in a completely seamless manner which very few other pieces can match, not that dissonance is absent, or that the clashing timbres that the orchestral music of the post-Schoenberg lot were so fond of don't occasionally erupt with great power, that's all in here, but, because of the astonishingly precise way they are employed and arise in the course of the piece, the care taken over the balance of the instrumentation, the pacing, rhythmic shifts and sheer dynamics, it never becomes overly strident, the 12-tone process never overwhelms the emotional impact.

Which is what floors me about this piece of music. I'm probably fussier about orchestral/chamber music than almost anything else, I mean, no other spectrum of music contains a period of over 150 years where I hate almost every single fucking thing I've ever heard from that era§, and no other musical arena is so hidebound by rules, conventions and hierarchy as the classical world, three things which you've probably guessed get my goat a bit, but I digress. The emotional density of this track, the amount of meaning it manages to convey through it's luminous textures is massive, and moves me in a way that only Messiaen§§ can match in this sphere of music. It's a piece deeply infused with great love and compassion, a profound sadness and a huge amount of joy, and the sonic promise of transcendence in it's glorious end. It's a life in sound, stunningly realised.

*Best not to ask.

***What is it with people who drive German luxury cars in this country? Do you get a special arsehole license with the car?

§Classical and a large proportion of the (particularly early) Romantic period. Can't fucking stand it. You can't begin to conceive of how much I loathe Beethoven. And Mozart. Everything I hate about music neatly encapsulated. At least it got good again when Debussy, Ravel et al turned up for the party.

§§OK, I'll give you Morton Feldman too.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Máquina De Plata

It's good to know Stephen Hawking can still wind morons up, particularly the sort of idiot who finds the concept of metaphor too taxing to get their tiny mind around, who make no attempt to understand what is being said in context, instead ramming it through the 2000 year old bullshit machine they wired their head to years ago because it makes things easy and comfortable and doesn't reduce you to an insignificant random speck in the great cosmic order of things. Go and read what he said again, in context, and come back to me when you've had the long words explained to you.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Una Sonrisa* De Oreja A Oreja, O, Muchos Gracias Señor Marrón**

Goddamn motherfucking holy shit YES. Usted consigue a veces el extremo correcto del palo, if you get my drift. You know that wall I've talked about before? Rubble.

*My favourite word in my slightly shaky second language, it means smile/grin.

**And no, I don't mean heroin. You fuckers.

Thursday, 2 September 2010