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Showing posts from May, 2011

The Red Krayola With Art & Language – Sighs Trapped By Liars (Drag City) - edited version

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the wordiest of them all? So it goes with the re-ignition after a quarter of a century of the collaboration between Mayo Thompson’s The Red Krayola and Turner Prize short-listed conceptualists Art & Language. Both parties threatened this year to finally record and release long-standing operatic project, ‘Victorine’, the libretto of which was published by A&L in 1984.

As it stands, with lyrics and texts by A&L scored by Thompson and impeccably played by some of Chicago’s finest, this new set is a far cry from the harsh social-realist music hall of their 1976 virgin outing, ‘Corrected Slogans’ and squat polemic on 1981’s ‘Kangaroo.’ Then as now though, Thompson’s dry drawl takes a back seat to his collaborators, though the plummy tones of A&L’s English enclave which gave way to Lora Logic have here sired new vocal foils in the shape of ‘Krayolettes’ Elisa Randazzo and Sandy Yang.

Yang was drafted into RK on 1999’s ‘Fingerpainting’ whil…

The Red Krayola With Art & Language – Sighs Trapped By Liars (Drag City)

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the wordiest of them all? So it goes with the re-ignition after almost a quarter of a century of a collaboration between free-thinking Texas-born musician, theorist and teacher Mayo Thompson, who’s traded under The Red Krayola name for more than forty years, and Art & Language, the 1986 Turner Prize short-listed conceptualist art collective whose dense, persistent line of critical inquiry has proved equally rigorous. Both parties had threatened this year to finally record and release Victorine, a long standing operatic project, the libretto of which, concerning a French policeman who mistakes the nude figures in paintings by Courbet and Manet for a serial killer’s victims, was published more than 20 years ago in the collective’s ‘Art-Language’ journal.

As it stands, this new set, with lyrics and texts by A&L veterans Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden, scored by Thompson, and played impeccably by a Chicago super-group featuring Jim O’Rourke, Tom …

Linder - Portrait of the Artist As A Consumer

Linder Sterling’s early collages were published in collaboration with journalist Jon Savage as The Secret Public, and she designed record sleeves for Buzzcocks, Magazine, and her own band, Ludus.

She designed a menstrual egg-timer for Factory Records, and performed at the Hacienda covered in meat and wearing a strap-on dildo.

In 1991 a book of photographs of Linder’s friend Morrissey was published as ‘Morrissey Shot.’

Early solo exhibitions include ‘What Did You Do In the Punk War, Mummy?’ at the Cleveland Gallery, London, and ‘The Return Of Linderland’ at Cornerhouse, Manchester.

Performances include ‘The Working Class Goes To Paradise’ in Manchester and London.

In 2006 a monograph edited by Lionel Bovier was published by JRP/Ringier.

Linder has just shown her ‘Pretty Girls’ series at Baltic, Newcastle, shows new work at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, from November 16-December 21, and as part of Re-Make/Re-Model at Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow, from December 8-January 21.

You’re about to …

Extract – Portraits Of Sound Artists (Nonvisualobjects)

Thanks in part to Resonance FM, the art/noise radio station run by London Musicians Collective, and thanks in part to cheap technology, sound art is less a samizdat activity and more obviously a community-minded experience, practiced in solitude but disseminated with ease. This exquisitely packaged release from Vienna’s Nonvisualobjects label, founded in 2005 by Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser with the aim of focussing on ‘interpretations of minimalism in sound’ is a bumper compendium of hiss and fissures, environmental ambient, deep listening rhapsodies and deconstructed noises off.

Presented in a numbered edition of just 500, the 22 pieces spread across two CDs alone are an attractive enough proposition. The 96 page hard-backed book which houses them inside its lavish but minimal design tells the black and white of it even more. By way of a grab-bag of interviews, testimonies, note-book jottings, drawings and photographs, each artist is afforded space to sketch out their practices…

Daniel Johnston: It’s A Beautiful Life, Newcastle
September 5-November 10 2007

They may be selling Daniel Johnston t-shirts across the bridge in the book shop of Gateshead’s Baltic Centre, but, despite the tendency of this vast multi-story space to resemble the domed city in ‘Logan’s Run’, this first UK retrospective of the cult savant singer/songwriter would probably boil over with excitement in alt. gallery’s bijou back-room space in one of the most out-there record emporiums anywhere.

Because seeing the faded customised cover for Johnston’s very first home-recorded cassette, ‘Songs Of Pain,’ even out of arm’s reach beneath glass, it’s clear how his musical exorcisms of his inner demons pre-dated and even predicted what’s on offer on the other side of the room. The row on row of hand-crafted, make-shift artefacts wrapped around the overload of primal squalls, screams and screeches contained within the uber-limited, lo-fi, DIY and undoubtedly dysfunctional recordings released on whatever primitive outlet that…

Futuristic Retro Champions / Dirty Summer – Limbo@Voodoo Rooms, EdinThu Jan 3rd 2008burgh -

Dirty Summer

Where they smuggled in the back way?

A trio, 2 teenage boys and a school-girl; Fergus on Korg, big specs, baggy cardy, mushroom-head-hair-do; Brodie on pop-eyed lead vocal, goth-fuzz-bass as patented by The Fall, cider-n-black indie disco t-shirt; Emily, aka The Bannister, on stand-up snare and floor-tom.

From Dunfermline, a hard-nut satellite town just across the Forth.

Out of this spews a cock-eyed DIY maelstrom of wonky mongoloid geekery without any of the novelty-act cutesiness which usually afflicts such stuff.

During the first song Fergus gets so worked up he knocks his Korg off its stand, more adolescent clumsy-clot lack of spatial awareness than punk rock frenzy.

On one song Emily reclines on the floor in front of her kit to play a second keyboard. It’s the only seat she gets all night.

On another, she finishes by reading from a paperback.

‘Get On Your Knees And Colour Me In’

The best bag of under-age noisenik racket this side of The Prats. One day they will rule …

Wil Hodgson – Chippenham On My Shoulder

Pleasance Upstairs
3 stars
Wil Hodgson is now sponsored by Chippenham Athletic Football Club. For now, anyway. Because if the club’s camel-coated directors ever make the Edinburgh trek to see the pink-haired chubby-chasing punk-geek tattooed love-boy, he might end up getting a kicking. Hodgson’s latest outsider’s rant against his less than idyllic home town takes stock of how he got here, from West Country misfit to third division pro wrestler to the most dolefully deadpan of top light-entertainment machine-gun raconteurs.

For an incisive and scabrous observer of a white-trash hamlet where a Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown show is a rite of passage bonding exercise with your dad, this is pretty much business as usual. Hodgson’s subsequent willingness to stand alone, possibly with Bull mastiff shit on his shoe, makes for a state of the nation address Channel 5 documentaries can only dream of. Where Hodgson goes now remains to be seen, although he really should think about reviving his wrestling car…

Ulrich Schnauss - Shoegazing Towards The Future

Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 4 May 2008
Without British Forces radio, Ulrich Schnauss’s brand of transcendent electronica wouldn’t be quite so lovely. In early 90s small-town Germany, it was the only way quintessentially English bands such as Ride, My Bloody Valentine and other purveyors of insular, FX pedal heavy, drone-based whimsy laden with the derogatory Shoegazing tag could be heard.

“I always liked music that takes you to another place,” says Schnauss on the eve of a European tour that takes in his first ever Edinburgh date. “I used music as a way of escape.”

His own output suggests likewise. Schnauss’ first two albums, Far Away Trains Passing By and the sublime A Strangely Isolated Place, fused laptop-generated melodies with the sort of dense guitar washes Schnauss absorbed in his youth. Last year’s Goodbye took such ethereal obsessions to their logical limit.

“I’ve fallen in love again with more pure electronic things,” says Schnauss, who moonlights as keyboardist with Longview i…


The Lot, Edinburgh
November 14 2007
Neil Cooper
3 stars
“Fucking technology, eh?” spits drummer Stu Ritchie by way of an abrupt end to a mid-set melodica-led number, shattering the chummy mood of this launch gig for Trianglehead’s just-released second album, Exit Strategy. The outburst over in an instant, the Edinburgh-based trio re-convene their meeting of Paul Harrison’s wiggy electric keyboards, Martin Kershaw’s airy sax and Ritchie’s driving Downtown drums they’ve been manning since 2004.

While there’s not much in the way of edge, Trianglehead nevertheless pursue an eclectic array of moods and tones which occasionally squelches into part Fusion groove, part Nordic flightiness. More reflective tunes drift off in several directions at once before jump-jacking back onto the same route with a polite kind of fury before a partisan crowd.

Guitarist Graham Stephen, who played earlier with the equally inventive Newt, joins them for the final number, the most choppily exploratory of the ni…

Tracer Trails First Birthday Party - The Irrisistable Rise of Cottage Industry Culture

Old St Paul’s Church Hall, Jeffrey St, Edinburgh, Oct 12 2007
A tracer trail is the streak of light left behind by a speeding bullet. It’s also the name of the micro cottage industry who’ve consistently promoted some of the most charming live shows in Edinburgh over the last year. To celebrate, a very special anniversary do will feature ex Appendix Out frontman Alasdair Roberts supported by PuMajaW, the spectral collaboration between vocalist Pinkie Maclure and John Wills, formerly of proto-shoegazers Loop, alongside DJs from Tracer Trails equally hand-knitted kindred spirits from Beard fanzine.

With previous shows having featured the likes of Jeffrey Lewis and all manner of sensitive troubadour types from the more melodic end of the current wave of alt-folk-pop-whatever, the emphasis of Tracer Trails is on the low-key.

““I don’t know if we achieve it,” chief Tracer Trail Emily Roff admits, “but I think there are people looking for more of an event. We’ve no ethos as such, other tha…

The Sandals Of Majesty

Henrys Cellar Bar
Tuesday November 15 2007
4 stars
The name is misleading. Because, rather than some mellowed out, magic-carpet-riding, back-packer-eyed mystics as may be implied, this bi-aural, bi-lingual, buy-now-while-stocks-last quartet are up-tight, in-tense and simmering with enough evil stares you sense they might give you a semiotics lecture any minute. With a frontman who’s a dead ringer for original PiL guitarist Keith Levene sneering like a corrupted Little Lord Fauntleroy throwing Howard Devoto shapes, and at least two veterans of 1990s agit-punx Badgewearer in the ranks, this Edinburgh/Marseille/Droitwich (the most important brine and salt town in England) ensemble fly like antsy, dancey quicksilver.

Driven by a tautly plucked bass sound not heard since John Peel circa (but not C) ’86, the barricades are there for the taking, whatever it is they’re against. Think McCarthy, The Cravats and The Prefects. Think Biting Tongues before the new-generation turned post-punk-funk-j…

The Nightingales

Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, Monday May 23rd 2011
The Nightingales are what happens to 1970s-sired latch-key kids if you
leave them alone with a CD of Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, a
DVD of The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club and the Bumper Book of
Existentialism For Boys. After more than thirty years in the saddle,
with only occasional sojourns into solo careers and Svengali-ing
long-lost girl band We've Got A Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It for
distraction, one-time John Peel stalwarts live experience is an intense
and relentless chug of skewed meat n' two veg avant-garage-punk laced
with vocalist and wordsmith Robert Lloyd's very English absurdist
world-view of how (post) modern life is rubbish. Think Pere Ubu if
they'd grown up in the shadows of Birmingham's Bull Ring rather than
the Flats in Cleveland.

Since reforming in 2004, The Nightingales have pretty much picked up
where they left off, with three albums and another pend…

By Degrees - The Legacy of ECA and GSA Graduates

When David Shrigley spoke in 2010 about how the arts institutions in
Glasgow were crucial to his creative development, he may have been
bemoaning the impending threat of arts cuts, but it nevertheless spoke
volumes about where art education really happens. As this year's art
school graduates prepare to display their wares in degree shows at
Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art, perhaps its worth
taking stock of how the schools help young artists to find their voice.
Especially in a climate where two graduates of GSA's Masters of Fine
Art Course, Karla Black and Martin Boyce, have just been shortlisted
for the 2011 Turner Prize. This on top of their presence representing
Scotland in the Venice Biennale, Boyce in 2010, with Black picking up
the mantle this year.

This too given that previous Turner winners such as Douglas Gordon
(1996), Simon Starling (2005) and Richard Wright (2009), and nominees
including Jim Lambie (2005), Nathan Coley (2007) and Luc…

Tenniscoats - Japanese DIY in Exelcis



Who are Tenniscoats?

They're a charming Japanese duo made up of real life couple Saya and
Ueno Takashi, who over the last decade have released eight albums
albums of their prolific songsmithery as well as playing with fellow
travellers Maher Shalal Hash Baz and others in the fecund Japanese
alt-pop scene.

And what do they sound like?

Think stripped-down indie-folk whimsy, gently lilting female vocals and
a set of organically generated miniatures that may be fragile in
construction, but which never fail to captivate. Music to swoon to,
basically. But quietly.

And what's the Scottish connection?

Well, the Takashis have been regular visitors here ever since they
bumped into Glasgow's uber-DIY veterans and long-time supporters of
Japanese pop The Pastels, later playing with them at the much missed
Triptych festival and collaborating on the 'Two Sunsets' album in 2009.
Prior to this, they took part in a Scottish Arts Council Tune Up tour

Golden Grrrls – Tour Cassette

3 stars
Now how DIY is this? An 8-track cassette of breakneck spindly indie
guitar fuzz by Glasgow girl/boy trio featuring former Park Attack
drummer turned singer/guitarist Lorna Gilfedder that has no name and no
label and is available in a gloriously limited edition of fifty-seven.
Soundwise, the Grrrls lo-fi vignettes lean towards the C-86 song-book,
all dolefully trilled harmony vocals counterpointed by FX pedal murk
and biscuit-tin beats suggesting a darker side beyond songs about Paul
Simon. This may be a wilfully back to basics stance, but 'New Pop'
might just predict the future. Did somebody say sha-la-la?

The List, May 2011


Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers – Luck (Re:Peater)

4 stars
Hallelujah! The ghost of Uncle John & Whitelock, Glasgow's seriously
demented purveyors of their self-styled horror r n' b, is reborn and
delivered here in the still possessed shape of Jabob Yates (nee
Lovatt), former howler of that parish. Lovatt and co may brand their
primitive psycho-billy musings as 'Doom-Wop' these days, but this
twitch-hipped, finger-poppin' but downright dark debut sounds more of a
continuum, all back-alley hellfire preaching, growling fuzz guitar and
wonky stumblebum piano with a parade of cartoon monsters tripping by
the junkyard where the bad-boys hang out. Praise be and Amen for such a
glorious resurrection.

The Herald, May 2011


She's Hit – Pleasure (Re:Peater) 4 stars

Named after a suitably scuzzed-up epistle by Nick Cave's former
breeding ground/alma mater The Birthday Party, but judging by the
sleeve image too young to shave, this Glasgow quintet take their
forbears primitive voodoo trash aesthetic twang by the scruff of its
studded dog-collar and let rip like The Stooges giving the Jesus and
Mary Chain what for. No luddites these elegantly wasted kids, mind,
because, while things get more urgent as things progress, the climax of
the mighty 'Miriam Hollow' has shades of the Simple Minds 'I Travel',
plus there's an entire bonus CD of remixes designed to scare yourself
in the dark with.

The List, May 2011


David Harrower - Knives in Hens, the National Theatre of Scotland and the Belgian Connection

“Let's get this over with,” says David Harrower at the start of our
conversation about Knives in Hens, his still remarkable 1995 debut
play, which receives a major revival from the National Theatre of
Scotland next month. You can and can't see why Harrower is so reluctant
to talk about one of the most brilliantly strange of plays to have
comer out of anywhere in recent times. It's sixteen years since
Harrower's starkly brutal tale of one woman's emancipation in a
pre-industrial era first captivated audiences in the Traverse Theatre's
smaller space in Edinburgh, and a lot longer, one suspects, since
Harrower first started writing it.

What was part thriller, part love triangle, and told in a minimalist,
mono-syllabic demotic, slowly but surely announced Harrower's arrival
as a major writer on an international scale. Knives in Hens
also went some way to define an ongoing exploration of intimacy that
has manifested itself in various forms through Ha…

Anna Karenina

Dundee Rep
4 stars
Lovesickness is everywhere in Jo Clifford's impressionistic stage
version of Tolstoy's epic nineteenth century novel. It's a sickness
too that comes in a myriad of forms, as the two couples at the play's
centre strive to follow their hearts, not give a damn about what anyone
else thinks and transcend their ordinary lives into something higher.
Anna and her dashing soldier lover Vronsky's passion in particular
borders on the holy, as a solitary candle lit as the play's opening
chorale rings out indicates. Of course, in the case of their too much
too soon scenario, it'll never last. Only Levin and his belated bride
Katy fully sow the seeds of the future.

The first thing to say about Jemima Levick's new production of
Clifford's script is that it is a technical tour de force, from the
sheer grey walls of Alex Lowde's big wide open set on which smoky
projections punctuate the play's crucial moments, to Aly Macrae&#…

Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
It's all happening down at The Boar's Head, the small-town dive which
local DJ Gary calls his local and where things might just be changing
forever beyond the mannequins throwing shapes behind frosted glass.
Disco is dead and karaoke is the new king, leaving this every-chav
refugee from Goldie Lookin' Chain firmly out in the cold, with only his
dream girl to chase. Would-be crooner Matthew D Melody, meanwhile, only
has eyes for someone equally special, if only he could make her fall
for him the way he obsesses over her. As for Russell Markham, even home
comforts and domestic bliss can't contain the overwhelming sense of
guilt and frustration he feels about how he got so stuck.

As these three damaged young men's worlds ever so obliquely collide, a
far bigger portrait appears concerning what when Gary Owen's play first
appeared in 20091 was dubbed the crisis of masculinity. Over three
monologues that only eventually link …


Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
To suggest Flann O'Brien was in touch with his ridiculous side when he
rattled out his wonderfully audacious flight of internal fancy
disguised as a novel at the fag-end of the 1930s is to seriously
understate things somewhat. Or at least that's the suspicion in the
Sligo-based Blue Raincoat company's rip-roaring riot of a stage
adaptation as fashioned into shape by writer Jocelyn Clarke and
director Niall Henry.

For the uninitiated, O'Brien begins his yarn with the premise that one
ending isn't nearly enough for any novel of worth, so, through the
initial eyes of a feckless and possibly auto-biographical student,
proceeds to open out his world to a multitude of possibilities,
mythologies and other things stranger than fiction.

What emerges out of such a pre post-modern stew in Blue Raincoat's
multi-tasking hands is a fast-moving pop-up book collage of junkyard
vaudeville, lip-synching operatics and pulp western combine…

After The End

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
What would happen if the only boy and girl in the world were thrown
together, survivors of the ultimate fall-out? Would they get together
at last now they finally have time alone? Or would it all end in tears?
These are the things that Dennis Kelly's 2005 play seems to initially
be asking in a scenario that melds science-fiction and the sort of
tragic teen epics that used to litter up the pop charts. As it is, when
Louise comes to from a works night out in the 1980s nuclear fall-out
shelter that came with Mark's flat, any notions of romance look doomed,
as a steady diet of tinned chilli and Dungeons and Dragons takes a far
more dangerous turn than the student high-jinks all this so resembles.

This first of two revivals of Kelly's play in Scotland over the next
few weeks opens with the sound of old Beatles songs and chattering
voices coming from above the skeleton of what looks like an old wagon
that threatens to spill out of t…

The Necks

The Lot, Edinburgh
Wednesday November 7 2007
Live, the extended improvisations of the Australian trio of pianist Chris Abrahams, drummer Tony Buck and bassist Lloyd Swanson should curl up into an inward-looking heap. Yet, as their recent Townsville album (their fourteenth) perfectly demonstrates, so obliquely intelligent and understatedly concentrated are they on their first Edinburgh visit following last year’s Glasgow date that a quietly hypnotic and fascinatingly watchable experience ensues.

Working with the most limited of palettes, Swanson begins with a solitary note, which Abrahams picks up with a matching chord. This is repeated, gradually extended, then repeated again as Buck drives things, barely touching his actual drums and concentrating largely on cymbal skitters.

Out of this seeps a noirish groove which patiently nudges up its gears along a natural arc, the ensuing repetitions growing increasingly propulsive. The second set is jauntier, Abrahams’ piano sounding somewhere …

The Golden Record – Sounds Of Earth

In space, no-one can hear you laugh.
3 stars
If the truth really is out there, the prospect of aliens landing on a planet populated by posh comedians would be enough to send them zapping back beyond Uranus in double-quick hyper-drive. The comedy aspect is one of the more worrying premises of this show, which attempts to update the sights and sounds of a compilation album shot off into space with 1977’s Voyager mission and overseen by polo-neck wearing pop scientist Carl Sagan, whose ‘billions and billions’ catchphrase was regularly lampooned on TV.

The main room hosts 116 album-cover style interpretations of the original record’s track listing, from ‘Conception’ and ‘Human Sex Organs’ to the magnificently named ‘Demonstration of licking, eating and drinking.’ Elsewhere, tongues are fixed firmly in space helmets via a film depicting a parallel universe in which Sagan marries doomed chanteuse Karen Carpenter, whose interpretation with brother Richard of ‘Calling Occupants Of Interpla…

Sonic Fusion - Experimental Music in Edinburgh

September 18-28 2008, various venues, Edinburgh

Left-field music festivals aren’t exactly thin in the ground in this country. Edinburgh events, however, have had a lower profile than elsewhere, with the Dialogues weekend setting an electronically inclined tone picked up in a more acoustic way by the recent Three Blows weekend. Somewhere between the two is the second edition of Sonic Fusion, a bi-annual shindig of contemporary chamber works running over ten days in a variety of spaces.

“The idea,” according to composer and Sonic Fusion artistic director Stephen Davismoon, “was to bring contemporary musical art to Scotland’s capital in all its various guises One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that it isn’t just about electro-acoustic work, but as the name of the festival implies, really tries to fuse things. So in terms of programming, there are no particular schools. We’re also trying to champion work from countries that don’t really get exposed on the European circuit, li…

Single Reviews - January 2008

With January a dry month for releases, the New Year seems a good time to catch up on some left-field singles that have shamefully slipped through the net over in this old-fashioned vinyl-only special.

Edinburgh’s Wee Black Skelf is the most unsung but quietly adventurous of lo-fi labels, as a trio of exemplary releases testify to. CA Celestial & Bill Wells’ ‘Somewhere Under A Rainbow’ (Wee Black Skelf - 4 stars ) finds singer/harpist Cari Anderson form a low-key pastoral alliance with the most ubiquitous of sidemen.

Lucky Luke’s ‘Reynardine’/’Hori Horo’ (Wee Black Skelf - 4 stars) is two slices of trad folkadelic balladry trailing the band’s follow-up to their ‘Patrick The Survivor’ debut.

Cover artist for Lucky Luke is Nalle’s Hanna Tuulikki, who appears with her band-mates as part of Phosphene And Friends on ‘See A Sign Defined’/’Ask Me No Questions’ (Pickled Egg - 4 stars) Brain-child of pop boffin John Cavanagh, one side has Isobel Campbell and that man Wells again backing fol…

Richard Wilson - Grey Gallery, Edinburgh

Feats of engineering and derring-do
4 stars
A man burrows his way out of the back of a black hackney cab that’s still in motion, looking like he’s tunnelled his way out of wonderland to avoid paying his fare. The same hole-in-the-wall gang appear to have turned the façade of a brutalist office block into a revolving door cum roller-coaster ride. A crushed-up metal cube is bent back into its former aeroplane shape like a giant Airfix kit. A firework released from the back of a container ricochets through deserted warehouses before hitting home to ignite a miniature cityscape.

Such are Richard Wilson’s post-industrial construction-kit concerns via four films outlining the above interventions. Drawings of the actual actions alongside a couple of Meccano-driven miniatures are more film treatment archives for the main event. The only full-scale model is ‘Hot Dog Roll,’ a sculpted caravan which has been beaten back into star-shaped life.

The films are beautifully shot, from Wilson getting…

Richard H Kirk - Cabbing It Up

Sugarbeat@Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, February 29 2008, 10pm-4am

This is entertainment.

Richard H Kirk is talking about how his old band inspired the names of not one, but two night-clubs. The fact that Cabaret Voltaire, the electronic pioneers formed in Sheffield’s industrial ruins in the early 1970s by Kirk with Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson themselves took their name from the Zurich speak-easy opened in 1916 as a hotbed of Dada activity adds even more weight to their avant-hedonist club-land credentials.

CV’s best known work, the primitive bubblegum garage-band squelch of ‘Nag, Nag, Nag’ became the anthem of the Wednesday night London beautiful peoples’ hang-out of the same name on the back of the Electroclash wave in 2002. With a DJ set being something of a conceptual gag, not to say coup, for Sugarbeat on the third anniversary of Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire, the rest of the world, it seems, has finally caught up with Kirk.

“We did our bit,” he says of CV’s influence. “It …

Power Up – Sister Corita

Print Gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts
17 September-4 November 2008
Anti-war art is largely a samizdat operation, in which the means of production are seized via cheaply made DIY posters and pamphlets. In the 1960s especially, pop art was imbued with a political context often left out of more hedonistically inclined hagiographies. So it was with Sister Corita Kent, a Los Angeles based Roman Catholic nun, whose text-led silk-screen works became iconic images of anti-Vietnam war activity. The small exhibition of her work that moves into Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Gallery, then, is a perfect companion piece to the ‘Altered States Of Paint’ show which has just closed in the main gallery.

“What she was doing was a precursor to punk and street art,” according to Annis Fitzhugh, Print Studio director at the DCA. “The way she was using photography with her own texts, and the way she used screen-printing technology was pretty mind-blowing. She was a contemporary of Andy Warhol, and some p…

Phil Collins – The World Won’t Listen

Tramway, Glasgow, April 17-May 31 2009

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but few bands have inspired such hopeless devotion in their fans than The Smiths. When Morrissey, Marr and co appeared in 1983, the pure emotional rawness of Morrissey’s lyrical confessionals tapped into an adolescent yearning that inspired adoration. Phil Collins recognised this when he started work on his major video installation of Smiths fans performing karaoke versions of their idols, ‘The World Won’t Listen,’ in 2004. Not, however, where you might expect to find acolytes of a band steeped in English kitchen-sink mythology.

“I’d gone to Bogota in Colombia,” Collins explains, “and spent a lot of time going out to rock and roll clubs and indie clubs there. These were the sorts of places playing the type of music I never thought would be big there, and that’s where the idea came from.”

Collins commissioned Colombia’s biggest band, Los Aterciopalados, to record the backing tracks to The Smiths 1987 compi…

New Work Scotland Project 2008 – Lila De Magalhaes

Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, September 27-December 20 2008

Over the last nine years, autumn at The Collective has heralded in an annual showcase for artists making their solo show debuts under the wing of the gallery’s New Work Scotland Project. The first of three shows this year is by Lila de Magalhaes, whose performance-based video installations captured the imaginations of this year’s judging panel, led by The Collective’s Kirsten Body, who helped sift through more than 200 applications.

“Lila says she’s about tapping into people’s day-to-day playfulness,” according to Body, “and quite often there’s a domestic or office setting in her work, but there’s usually something unsettling and strange going on as well. There’s a certain crudeness in what Lila does. Her works are usually done with a hand-held camera, and are full of jump-cuts. But it’s a deliberate strategy, and a lot of it is very subtle.”

To illustrate the quirks of De Magalhaes’ work, Body cites a work called ‘Rat,’ in …

Momus - Bods and Mockers

Stereo, Glasgow, July 27th 2008

When Nick Currie named himself after the Greek god of mockery, being clever, like ridicule, was nothing to be scared of. Edinburgh-based Currie had already fronted The Happy Family, a band that featured half of his schoolboy idols, Josef K, and was developing an archly literate and occasionally sex-obsessed lyrical style that would co-exist with the likes of the Divine Comedy and Jarvis Cocker.

Three albums were released on Alan McGee’s fledgling Creation label before Currie fled for New York, Tokyo and now Berlin. Having continued to pursue his singular vision, a homecoming date of sorts showcases material currently being recorded for a new album with electro-blip avatar Germlin confirms the exiled Currie as every aesthete’s bon viveur of choice.

Not for nothing does Currie pen a weekly column for the New York Times. Then there’s ‘The Book of Scotlands’, “a numbered list of one thousand parallel world Scotlands. Here are three: The Scotland in which a…

Missing Twin Presents

Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh, Saturday August 23 2008
4 stars
Missing Twin is the publishing empire of cartoon genius Malcy Duff. Alongside geek-soul brother and mastermind of Giant Tank’s adventures in events, Ali Robertson, Duff makes up premier lo-fi fidgets, Usurper. Taking full advantage of a room going spare now the Film Festival’s moved June-wards, this popcorn-friendly triple feature of late-night wow-and-splutter sees the lip of the Cameo stage show-casing an Eisensteinian cut-up of sound and vision.

Usurper themselves provide the opening funnies, as their increasingly artful exercises in toy-box scritch-n-scratch, here set to projections of Duff’s equally oddball art-works, are the next stage on from sound poet Bob Cobbing and post-Python pranksters The Bohman Brothers. Open Eye Duo who follow are a strictly B-movie deconstruction of floor-Tom and guitar via gaffa tape interventions.

Tonight’s main feature even has a disaster movie name. Towering Breaker work up a duet of poundin…

Looking Rough at 30 - Rough Trade Records Come of Age

Five months before Margaret Thatcher’s landslide 1979 victory, and with Britain’s city streets still retaining the air of a depressed bomb-site, highbrow arts programme The South Bank Show appeared to have been hi-jacked by a cell of musical terrorists. Their mission in such dark times seemed to be to corrupt the nation’s already restless youth. Among the grainy live footage of earnest punk polemicists Stiff Little Fingers, the sax-led free-form skronk wail of Essential Logic, the scratchy squat-rock of The Raincoats and the disturbing synthesiser throb of Robert Rental, serious theorists discussed manifestos in clandestine fashion, seizing the means of production to create a samizdat cultural underground and, ultimately, a state of independence. It was called Rough Trade, and it was going to change your world.

Shadowy and intense, Rough Trade, founded on a punk-hippy ethic and then just a year old, was as far away from the filth and the fury of the tabloidisation of ‘Punk Rock’ as wa…


Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh
September 17
4 stars
There are Moomins on the poster, and something equally other-worldly about Kuupuu’s fractured folk tones. Having wafted all the way from Tampere, Finland, they sound still swathed in dawn mist, so nursery rhyme eerie is Jonna Karanka’s set of organically generated loops n’ layers.

Karanka is a key figure on the Finnish underground, with a web of aliases and collaborators, from her own Kukkiva Poliisi monicker to all-female acid-folk trio, Hertta Lussu Assa as well as previous experience in Avarus and The Anaksimandros.

Beyond such a mouthful, a black-clad and gamine-looking Karanka stands before a table-top of lo-fi kit, from which she pieces together a mesh of low-key, ice-breath whispers, fuzz, fog, bird-song and incessant percussive skitters to make for a fractured collage of woozy kindergarten sense memories made flesh.

At times it sounds like a little army of Trolls digging their way out of the earth’s core accompanied by a spe…

Kill Your Timid Notion Exhibition – Kjell Bjorgeengen and Paul Sharits

Dundee Contemporary Arts, September 19-October 12 2008

It’s not their fault. Arts bureaucrats, after all, are frequently behind the times, as all the recent fuss about amalgamating funding Quangos previously separated by genre has proved. Because, in terms of combining forward-thinking performers with a film-based practice to occupy one of the major gallery spaces in Europe, Kill Your Timid Notion is way ahead of the game.

Since its first outing in 2003, KYTN’s four editions thus far have mixed and matched sound and vision in a way that has utilised the DCA’s gallery space to the maximum. This year KYTN goes even further, with a large-scale exhibition running for three weeks before the festival to give gallery-goers an opportunity to dip their toe in what may be uncharted Sensurround waters.

In different ways, Kjell Bjorgeengen and Paul Sharits work with flicker - cinematically-based installations which aim to transform the galleries into intense and demanding theatres of light – us…