Speakers Push Air

Songs For An Imaginary Bootleg
February 28, 2011, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Gigs!

I went to see Mogwai last night.. the first time in quite a while, but probably the 20th time in all.

It was down by the Tyne in the gloriously weird-looking Sage, which makes up part of one of my favourite stretches of riverside anywhere – the swing bridge, the Baltic, the Tyne Bridge itself.

Not a great place for a Mogwai gig, though: much is made of its acoustic perfection, little of its near-total lack of atmosphere.

From the outside it looks like this:

The inside of the main hall look like this:

So that from the inside of the main hall, you think the outside of the main hall looks like this:

Blond wood, shiny surfaces, art centre sterility. No drinks in the auditorium, but icecreams available from old school usherettes in the atrium during interval. And there’s something about seated gigs that feels joyless: you may not be able to dance to Mogwai, but I was always a lurcher, and lurching in your seat, surrounded by silent, polite, clapping types seems a little remedial.

Which makes the fact that Mogwai were on fantastic form all the more astonishing. The sound in that place IS amazing and since I wasn’t lurching or drinking, I could pick up on little details I’d always been too drunk (or too lurchy) to notice before. The new stuff sounded even better (Hardcore.. is their best album since Rock Action, I think) and we got Helicon AND Xmas Steps for an encore. It wasn’t loud enough, but apart from those two shows at Shepherds Bush Empire and Brixton Academy when people ran crying from the hall at the end of My Father My King, it’s never loud enough.

Scouring the setlists for other shows makes me jealous of anyone who got the aforementioned My Father My King (and impressed just how much the band change up their set night by night). It also led me, slightly autistically perhaps, to fake a bootleg, simply sticking the set they played in order together. I refrained from nicking crowd noises off an old metal album or something, which is some sort of relief. Anyway, it’s here if you want it:

Mogwai – Songs For An Imaginary Bootleg (The Sage, Gateshead, February 27th 2011)

  1. White Noise
  2. Friend Of The Night
  3. Letters to the Metro
  4. Cody
  5. Death Rays
  6. Killing All The Flies
  7. Rano Pano
  8. How To Be A Werewolf
  9. I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead
  10. You’re Lionel Richie
  11. 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
  12. Mexican Grand Prix
  13. New Paths To Helicon, Pt 1
  14. Christmas Steps

And finally, here’s Helicon from Stirling last month

Dubversion Comes Rough
February 25, 2011, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Mixes

When I started playing records out, towards the end of the 90s, I seemed to position myself as a digidub DJ of some sort: it was a good way to get people dancing without really needing to mix properly, and I really liked it at the time – I could drop plenty of regular roots as well which made me happy. But I don’t think I’ve played a pure “digidub” set in 5 or 6 years, even back on the beach with the Unsound crew it was a bit of digidub, a lot of roots, some yardcore and a whole heap of European microdub and the like (Rhythm & Sound, Uptight Sound System, Deadbeat).

The whole UK sound system / digidub scene seems to be pretty derided now, and it’s easy to see why: it appears to be stuck in a rut, to have lost whatever edge it had (or as far as I can tell from the few forays I make into it these days). To be honest, it got fucking dull and overrun with hippies. It also suffered from getting lumped in with the whole “festival reggae” thing, an excuse to foist pisspoor bouncy shite onto pilled up fools (Dreadzone, I’m looking at you).

But there were some fantastic tunes – still are from time to time – and some of my happiest musical moments have been at Iration Steppas dances or in front of a big rig in a field or at a festival nodding along to some UK sound system dub. And there’s a hell of a lot of digidub somewhere in dubstep’s DNA.

So here’s a kind of tribute to my old, bad self. Save for a couple of fairly recent selections, all of these tracks were ones I played out at some point – on the Unsound rig, mostly.

Dubversion Comes Rough

01. Love Grocer – Waiting At The Gate
02. The Rootsman – We Come Rough
03. Pablo Gad – Technology
04. Vibronics – Deep Roots Dub
05. Butch Cassidy Sound System – Rockers Galore
06. Renegade Soundwave – Brixton (Dub Mix)
07. Iration Steppas – Rejection (Festival Mix)
08. Brother Culture – Ing
09. Bush Chemists – Light Up Your Spliff
10. Mannasseh – Good Steppin’ Pt 1
11. DigiDub – Wickedness Increase
12. Overproof Soundsystem – Watch What You Put Inna
13. Zion Train – Hailing Up The Selector
14. Pama International – Rise ft Dennis Alcapone
15. Rhythm & Sound – No Partial
16. 2 Bad Card – Sergio Mendez pt.1

(78mins, 143mb,256kbps)

Do Android Phones Dream Of Electric Sheep?
February 17, 2011, 7:30 am
Filed under: Miscellaneous


Yay me! I’ve got a new phone. A phone so very fancy Dan I can blog on the move. Or in bed, like this. What are you wearing?

Well You’re A Good Man, Albert Brown…
February 8, 2011, 11:48 am
Filed under: Local Paper Letters

After an exchange on Twitter regarding letters to local newspapers and the things someone with a lot of time on their hands could get up to, Martin BTI threw down a wager: a whole £5 note of my very own if I could get the phrases “endangered Sunday roast” and “keyboard Communist commandos” into the local rag up here.

Seriously, they print ANY old shit in the Northumberland Journal.

We may not have heard the last of Albert Brown.

Whatta G’wan?
February 2, 2011, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Television

I’m sayin’ nuttin’

3 Chords & The Truth
February 2, 2011, 4:21 pm
Filed under: Mixes

an old time country style mix from my Randy & Earl’s Old Record Club incarnation –

get it here

The Amazing Adventures Of Michael Chabon
February 2, 2011, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Reading

I’ve just cracked the spine of Manhood For Amateurs, a series of essays by Michael Chabon. His tenth book, the tenth book of his I’ve read.

I’m not sure there’s a contemporary author I love more than Michael Chabon. Jonathan Lethem is patchy, Douglas Coupland is repeating himself, Cormac McCarthy is amazing but there’s not a lot of joy there. Chabon is damn near faultless, even his early stuff like The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh is really enjoyable and – sod the “recency effect” – The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay is probably my favourite novel. Epic and lovable and sweet and funny and heartbreaking.

Googling around today (seeing if I could find a K&C cover print, actually – his books are all out through Fourth Estate in these gorgeous covers) I found a great website primarily about the book but covering Chabon generally – it’s here and it’s well worth your time. Turns out there were plans for a Kavalier & Clay movie, although it appears to be stuck in development hell. Mixed feelings about that – it could perhaps make a great movie, but only if it had the budget and running time to do it justice. Not something that could take being chopped up, I feel.

But on the plus side, the Coen Brothers ARE making a movie of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Chabon’s other big hitter novel, set in a slightly alternate reality where, post WWII, the Jews were given Alaska as a homeland (this was genuinely mooted). It’s a very odd book, a sort of Chandleresque orthodox Jew apocalypse tale with a lot of chess, but I suspect the Coens – and the Coens alone perhaps – can pull it off.

He appears to have a lot of new books in the pipeline too.

So, yeh, Michael Chabon. Fucking ace.