Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Vinyl Decision

To wax or wane, that is the question… I’m currently listening to Colin Potter’s 1980 cassette The Ghost Office, the warm rush of analogue bedroom electronics surging thru my headphones, a musical accompaniment to my deliberating on whether to buy a turntable. The connection here is that Potter’s album is getting an LP release in the next few days, just one of several interesting albums that I read about in The Wire every month getting a vinyl-only release. My preferred format is still the much maligned compact disc but the trend by experimental artists and groups to go the specialist vinyl route is becoming too great to ignore. Right now I’m looking thru discogs for prices on sunnO)))’s Dømkirke LP and Vinyl On Demand’s 8LP Kluster boxset. Just 400 copies of the Colin Potter album will be pressed so I better make my mind up soon !


Update 6th of March

My recent noises about getting a record player didn’t fall on deaf ears it seems and some very good friends picked up for my birthday, a pitiful portable picnic player to play my fuzzy warbles on. Most of my vinyl collection was upgraded to CD over the years but there’s still one or two things that I never managed to track down, so yesterday it was the turn of Ennio Morricone “and his orchestra” and a nice German compilation collecting music from For A Few Dollars More and A Fistful Of Dollars (in that order), and a world away from the scorched plains of Spain, Snowflakes Are Dancing, Tomita’s 1974 Switched-on Debussy album. Both lovely to hear again, although bass frequencies (angel trumpets and devil trombones o my brothers) were reduced to a pitiful moan. Still nice to see those colorful RCA labels spinning around again, and this quickens my resolve to get a proper turntable and re-visit my old Bowie RCA albums and hear how they sound after so many years of listening to the CD mixes…




Creepers

Never underestimate the narcotic rush of nostalgia to get a man to part with his money. May sees the release of Arrow’s new Blu-Ray edition of Phenomena, this new release augmented by the inclusion of Creepers, the much maligned, much shorter version (by 30mins!) cut of the film. Creepers was the second Argento film I discovered back in the early 90's, and despite the bad luck of having to follow Suspiria, I grew to love the film over many viewings of the Palace tape, this affection later cemented into respect when I finally picked up the Italian Medusa DVD which contained the full-length version of the film – ironing out some of the inexplicable tonal shifts of Creepers, as well as the Italian language track which is much easier on the ear. Phenomena is no one’s favourite Argento film and perhaps it’s the reason why I’ve staunchly defended it over the years, and claimed it as one of the canon works - perhaps even the last great Argento film, after a lukewarm revisit to Opera last year. Arrow’s Blu comes with a hefty price tag (5000 units only) and a few years ago I might have been appalled that someone would fork out for the redundant Creepers but I find myself intrigued to see it again, alongside Phenomena. Argento’s film is best viewed as a fairytale and I’m already thinking of what my 16month old daughter might make of it when she turns Jennifer Connelly’s age in the film.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Throbbing Gristle - Nag's Head, High Wycombe, 11th February, 1977

Listening to Throbbing Gristle's concert at the Nag's Head, High Wycombe, 40 years ago this month...

1977 was Jubilee year for the United Kingdom so it's fitting that Throbbing Gristle's first concert of '77 opened with a little throwaway number for Her Majesty, ("Prince Phillip licked her cunt"). TG's show at the Nag's Head is noteworthy for being the group's first show outside of an art happening, the venue was a dyed in the wool rock club which had recently embraced punk, and between TG's noisy experimentation and the Nag's Head faithful (who gobbed and pogoed to the Sex Pistols and the Clash a few months earlier), the battle lines were well and truly drawn. TG's set remained largely the same as their previous concert but the focus and cohesion the group had at the ICA was replaced by disorder and frustration. According to one eye-witness at the show, TG were plagued with technical problems and glitches from the outset, the group were 20mins late going on which was enough to invoke the wrath of the crowd, their hostility was matched by 53mins of ugly, serrated soundscapes and the occasional provocation by Genesis P-Orridge, ("If you think you're escaping you are just stupid cock-sucking cunts anyway").

Still, there are some highlights – a wayward rendition of  Very Friendly with a fantastic spacey violin coda, a long instrumental passage of harsh electronics and a montage of sampled news reports (including an item about the execution of Gary Gilmour, a particular obsession of P-Orridge's at the time). Following an eerie take on Slug Bait, the mood of the show becomes increasingly combative, with P-Orridge ad-libbing some nonsense much to the annoyance of the crowd, while the group struggled with unruly equipment. When the band get going again, the punks' demands for some two-chord thrash is met with a particularly aggressive version of Zyklon B Zombie which climaxes with an audience member joining in the vocal. "I'll never have them back here," Nag's Head landlord Mick Fitzgibbon told one local newspaper.


Monday, 20 February 2017

Yen

First post in ages it seems… I normally restrict my postings to interests and hobbies, but just this once I’ll break that rule, to present my 16-month daughter Yen, pictured below putting on her best grin for the camera. At the beginning of January we traveled to Vietnam to adopt this beautiful little girl. We’re back home in Ireland now and Yen is settling in great, loves her new life (not so much the dreary weather) and is full of fun and mischief. Spending three weeks in Saigon was a huge, unforgettable adventure. Vietnam, which to most Westerners is more a war than a country, is an extraordinary psychedelic melting pot of color, noise, heat and unspeakable traffic, as well as some of the kindest, friendliest, good-natured people we’ve ever met. I’m back at work today, slowly wading into the old routine although I still haven’t found the time to sit down and watch a film or grab an hours’ worth of reading. No matter, I’m loving the time with Yen (and missing her terribly this morning) and it’s been a joy to watch her discover the world around her and get to know her new family.