Wednesday, 5 December 2007


"You know it makes no difference.
Whether we talk or not.
And it's much harder going in there sometimes.
And jumping down from the top.
But if you talk to me I will listen to you.
With my eyes, my ears, my heart."

Swayzak feat. Kirsty Hawkshaw, "State of Grace", 2003

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Pigs in Space

Just a quick heads-up regarding the latest Pig Radio podcast mix - it's a Swedish special with none other than Johan Agebjorn and Sally Shapiro at the helm. Worth more than a cursory listen, too.

or direct download at

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


Genre: Cult
Anton Corbijn's biopic of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis has been lauded in many circles, including picking up prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. Corbijn has an outstanding pedigree, having worked with the band during their short lifespan, and with input from Curtis' widow Deborah, and the now-departed Tony Wilson, 'Control' should have all the ingredients required to be a top-notch piece of cinema. That it fails is perhaps the greatest cinematic tragedy of the year.

Firstly I should say that the photography is simply sumptuous, as one would expect. The cast is solid (am I the only Samantha Morton fan out there?), and there are some excellent musical performances too. Thankfully there is no attempt to out-do Steve Coogan's near-perfect Tony Wilson from 24 Hour Party People - here the Factory boss is played pretty straightly by Craig Parkinson, leaving the comic relief to be provided by Joy Division, and later New Order manager Rob Gretton, played by Toby Kebbell.

A film about a man who commits suicide must have its light moments, yet there can be no discussion of mental illness, the pressures of success and fame, and suicide with out some exploration of the internal torments which go alongside. Frustratingly, it feels like Corbijn is merely touching from a distance here (to quote the title of Deborah Curtis' book, on which the film is based). His direction is prosaic and remote, rather than conceptual and intimate; we as an audience never really get an insight into the workings of this troubled mind. There is no real exploration of a troubled childhood or of the exploration of drugs (prescribed and un-prescribed) or the fascination with altering perceptions and experience. Similarly there is little or no insight into the genius of the lyricist and performer, or how he was driven and inspired (save for one cursory nod to some early Wordsworth reading and Bowie listening)

Sam Riley's Curtis comes across as almost too perfect to be truly convincing as a tortured soul. Curtis was a deeply awkward character - an anti-pinup, if you will - but Riley comes across as somewhat cherubic.The lack of emotional insight and character development means that the audience finds it hard to relate to the the spasmodic on-stage performances (there was laughter at the screening I was at). Corbijn fails to make the psychological link between the singer's state of mind and the expression of it through performance, and eventually his downward spiral into depression.

Similarly, we find it hard to truly understand the reasons behind the ultimate, final act. Suicide, and the reasons behind it, must surely be one of the most difficult things to portray through any medium, but Corbijn's withdrawn viewpoint gives us little insight. Instead of a picture of a man torn apart by mental instability, drugs, his own fame, genius, the women he loved and his inability to deal with these issues, we are left with a somewhat puzzling portrait of a slightly-strange-and-troubled-but-nice kid who had it all and threw it away.

I'd highly recommend Deborah Curtis' book, "Touching From A Distance", to get a far more rounded view of one of music's most interesting characters.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Inner City Pressure

"No one cares,
No one sympathises,
You just stay home and play synthesizers"

Exquisitely observed Pet Shop Boys parody from "Flight of The Conchords"

Thursday, 30 August 2007

The Future is a Cassette

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a fan of the humble cassette. Even though the CD arrived in my house nearly thriteen years ago, somehow it never quite replaced the magic of the hissy, annoyingly double-sided, snag-and-tangle-able, yet economically feasible, comfortingly tactile fusion of plastic and magnetic tape.

[I have to say that the discovery of my mystical ability to consistently fit the last track of a self-compiled mix-tape snugly in before the end of side B, was a major conributor to my rose-tinted view. Just a shame I never did summon up quite enough courage to give any of them to those girls at school...]

 So anyway, now, some clever Chinese bloke has brought the whole thing up-to-date by combining the durability and retro-chic-ness of the lovable old cassette, with the easy of use, snazziness and modernity of the flash-based mp3 player. This really is the best of both worlds - something you can carry in your pocket with headphones for those personal moments on 'the street' AND pop into your giant 80s ghetto blaster cassette deck for some shoulder-borne tuneage while hanging out beside the local basketball court.

Where do I queue?

Thursday, 5 July 2007


Is it just me who, in occasional misty-eyed moments, harks back to the glory days of early 90s dance music and video game culture? Well, apparently I'm not completely alone...

Alex Mauer (described as a 'chiptune musician') is releasing his new album of "conceptual synthsizer music" exclusively, it seems, as an Nintendo NES cartridge... Luckily for those of us for whom the NES has long been consigned to the attic (why such a cruel exile?), examples of the album are available to listen to on his Myspace page.

To be listened to whilst drinking Cherryade through a straw, playing Sensible Soccer on a PROPER old joystick and ignoring Wimbledon on the telly. Superb!

[Found on]

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam

"They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,  
    Love and desire and hate:   
I think they have no portion in us after   
    We pass the gate.         

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:   
    Out of a misty dream   
Our path emerges for a while, then closes   
    Within a dream."

Monday, 18 June 2007


"and i am nothing of a builder,
but here i dreamt i was an architect,
and i built this balustrade,
to keep you home, to keep you safe,
from the outside world

but the angles and the corners,
even though my work is unparalleled,
they never seemed to meet,
this structure fell about our feet,
and we were free to go"

Monday, 11 June 2007


"Darling you will always be around
Whether my mood's up or if it's down
In dreams I try to take you far away
But you never stay
No you never stay"

Alectronic is Gilbert O'Sullivan (naturally) and you can all claim your five pounds.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

No Fun

The High Court ruling this week against online music retailer CD-Wow sets an incredibly dangerous and worrying precedent. In one fell swoop the British music industry has lost any claim they might have had to the moral high ground in the fight against piracy by essentially criminalising companies who attempt to give those who actually want to buy legitimate products a good deal. Imagine if the same logic was applied to bananas. Or cocaine... (erm, you've lost us now, Neil...)

As usual, "No rock And Roll Fun" has the most incisive commentary, which I urge you to read:

It's a blog worth subscribing to as well, for those of you who fear for the future of popular culture...

Sunday, 20 May 2007

It may not be exactly, uh, the prettiest site on the Interweb, but Graham Linehan's blog (or, in his words, 'Hompendium of Dorithies') is certainly worth a visit. He of the writing-half-of-Father-Ted fame serves up some searingly skewed political analysis and comedy interludes, as well as other random ephemera. Very funny stuff and worth keeping an eye on too...

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

My (now ex-)colleague Sheena, for some unknown reason, left the beautiful climate and friendly people of Scotland behind last month for a volunteering stint in a remote area of Guatemala. She's working at a community centre in San Marcos La Laguna doing various things including video production and gun-running for the local mafia. (And why not?)

Luckily she's been posting her exploits on YouTube for us all... muchos gracias!

Saturday, 5 May 2007


Here's a link to the incredible new animated video for Justice's forthcoming single 'D.A.N.C.E.' It's a surprisingly frothy pop single, but I'm guessing those French wizards will have some delciously dirrrrty remixes up their sleeves for us bass-fiends...

Wednesday, 2 May 2007


Tomorrow is of course Scottish parliamentary election day... you were remembering, weren't you? Luckily I have taken it upon myself to come round and beat with a wet slipper any of you who don't get out and vote.

Unfortunately the stupidly complex voting system has put a lot of people off, as has the bizarre and vast range of candidates. Luckily there's a website that I've found that makes everything very simple...

You can put in your postcode to find out all about the candidates who are standing in your area, as well as see a 'virtual ballot paper' - an exact replica of what you'll be faced with tomorrow. Nicely done, sir!

Why is it that this simple use of a bit of technology has to be left to Edinburgh University (of all people!)? And why has it not been publicised at all? I had to dig through mountains of websites which all said 'contact your local return officer for more information'. This is the 21st Century!

Let's hope the Parliament and councils get their act together, webwise, for 2011...

Saturday, 21 April 2007


It's amazing to think that sound has been around for over 100 years. We now take for granted every-day noises like birds coughing, cars squeaking and Terence Trent D'Arby...

Some of the earliest sound recordings were made using Edison's mechanical cylinder phonograph. Now, thanks to the magic of the Interweb, the University of California, Santa Barbara is making available it's huge archives of early sound recordings.

Spanning the period from the late nineteenth century to the late 1920s (when gramophone records finally killed off the cylinder) the archive contains thousands of recordings, available in streaming format or to download. If you don't know where to start you can also listen to a hand-picked selection via the streamed 'radio' channel.

Personally, I think that this is the sort of thing that the internet was invented for - making available on-demand small yet fascinating pieces of history. Surely it'll only be a matter of time before broadcasters such as the BBC follow suit and make their archives available in this way...?

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Yo La La! French Hip Hop podcast
In the list of obscure musical genres, French hip-hop has to be by far the most interesting (sorry, Bolivian grind-core fans). This monthly English-language podcast serves as a gentle introduction, kept nice and smooth by the deeply, deeply sinister and sleazy presenter...

File under : "I have no idea what they're saying, but listening to it helps make me feel superior"

Friday, 30 March 2007

Thou Shalt Always Kill

OK, this track does smack somewhat of the classic gimmicky, novelty, list-of-things single (c.f.The Sunscreen Song (Class of '99), It's The End Of The World And We Know It and - oooh, controversial - Losing My Edge)

But nevertheless, it does have a certain zeitgeisty charm to it. The video really makes the song, I feel - it's quirky at just the right pitch and superbly put together. Enjoy.

Courtesy of the irresistable Headphonesex and Music Like Dirt

Monday, 12 March 2007

Don't Give Up

"Give me a reason to stay constantly ignored

I don’t think I can

Give me an angle that I haven’t tried before

Not from where I stand

A guarantee for being honestly compared

Could not be found

You want to live when life is sickeningly unfair

Stick around"

I am... The Whitest Boy Alive...

Monday, 26 February 2007


"Drink up, baby, stay up all night
With the things you could do, you won't but you might
The potential you'll be that you'll never see
The promises you'll only make"

Monday, 19 February 2007

Firefox AK (ABC2, Glasgow) 16/2/07

Genre: Pop
Artist:Firefox AK
Hot on the heels of Annie and Sally Shapiro comes another Scandinavian pop 'princess', this time in the flesh, supporting Canada's Junior Boys at the ABC2 in Glasgow.

Alone on stage, and utilising only an iPod and a white Fender as weapons, Firefox AK steadily won over a sedentary audience, with her synthy backing tracks and some jagged guitar work.

With the minimal setup adding a palpable edge to the more polished album tracks, this was an exciting set, and one can't help wondering what a spectacle it would be to see this artist with a full backing band.

Very enjoyable.

Hear more at theFirefox AK Myspace page.

I also heartily recommend the album 'Madame! Madame!' on the Razzia label. Nothing earth shattering, just quality electro-pop, like it should be.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Junior Boys

Start:     Feb 16, '07 7:30p
End:     Feb 16, '07 10:45p
Location:     ABC2, Glasgow
So This Is Goodbye....

MP3 : Johan Agebjoern

I'm not the only one, it seems, to have been utterly bewitched by the lovely Swedish synth-pop princess Sally Shapiro ("
Sounds so fragile and beautiful, you half expect it to melt in your mouth."
said The Guardian, "Phwoarrrr!" said a certain DJ Dod).

I'm currently anxiously awaiting the arrival of a lovely package containing a copy of her album and Rude 66-remixed single, but to keep me going until then, I've found this gem : an hour long Italo mix by her producer, Johan Agebjoern. My mental image of him as some sort of lecherous 50-year old Giorgio Moroder look-a-like could be true! All the classics are in there, as well as a couple of the aforementioned Ms. Shapiro's newies. Definitely highly recommended, despite the sleazy German DJ talking over bits of it...

Download the mix here

Sally Shapiro official site

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Adam Buxton
Adam Buxton's personal website (he of 'Adam and Joe' fame) provides much topical mirth, as well as musical and comedic video nuggets... Recommended.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Kissy Sell Out
I uniformly hate Myspace (a mixture of blind prejudice and vile snobbery, but nonetheless valid, i feel), so I must first apologise for linking to that particular arm of the Murdoch behemoth. This, however has to be witnessed. And no, I'm not talking about the horrendous, god-awful page background (my rant about Myspace turning back the web design clock a good ten years is far too long and tedious for this space).

Here we have the British answer to French electro Gods Justice. First single "Her" (one of my records of 2006) should provide good indication of the area we're in here, as will a perusal of the various remixes available from the myspace page and the related podomatic site. All top notch, gritty electro grime (if that's your bag) with basslines that'll shake your speakers to the core (as well as shaking up your mind, maaaan). And as for the Libertines remix... how much would I like to get my hands on a nice clean vinyl copy of THAT? (The measure is likely to be inverse to the likelyhood of it actually ever appearing...)

Half Full...

"Half full of happiness

Record playing Lover's Game

Just room for loneliness

As empty days overflow

I'm just a zoot woman.
When are you going to tour, Mr Price?

Friday, 19 January 2007

Dance Away...

"Loneliness is a crowded room
Full of open hearts turned to stone
All together all alone
All at once my whole world had changed
Now i´m in the dark, off the wall"
"Now I know I must walk the line
Until I find an open door
There was I - many times a fool
I hope and pray, but not too much
Out of reach is out of touch
All the way is far enough"