Something for the Weakened

Archive for May, 2010

For Your Consideration – One

May 31st, 2010 by Alastair

Okay, here’s something a bit new. Last night it occurred to me that out of the few thousand hours of recorded sounds in my possession, a fair amount of it is no longer (or never has been) commercially available. Albums drift out of print, singles are seldom available for more than a couple of months, radio programmes rarely get commercial releases. So, thought I, with the site’s new capacity to actually hold mp3s, why not share some of these with the world? It can’t really be hurting anyone and should the writers/performers/copyright holders get in touch, I’ll happily take anything down. As the ‘One’ in the title suggests, I’m hoping to do a few of these, so let’s get cracking with the first non-pop pick.

Victor Lewis Smith – Process Music (click to listen (as if you hadn’t guessed))

This recording comes from the end of the very first episode of Mr. Lewis Smith’s 1990 Radio 1 series, which is why you get the end credits coming in a third of the way through. I would give out a credit to whoever made the original recording, but I have no idea as to who that may have been, let alone who then digitised it  or who  put the shows out there for download. Whoever you are, thank you. The moderately efficient work cutting it out of the show was done by me, using Audacity.

There are a number of reasons for this being the first thing I decided to run in this series, the major one being that it’s been stuck in my head since I last listened to the complete radio shows a few months ago. It really is surprisingly catchy in the way that the music it’s parodying seldom seems to be. The aspect of parody plays an integral part to it too – I do love a comedy song and find well written ones to be worthy of much relistening, long after I’m well aware of what the gag’s going to be. Of course, you’re never going to revreate that first frisson of amusement, but I still find a knowing smirk comforting (though that might just be the knowledge that it’ll stave off the emptiness of my general existence for a few seconds). I’m personally quite fond of some process music – a bit of Glass or Nyman every once in a while is not a bad thing to these waxy old ears. I can still see the faults inherent in it though, having spent enough hours with musician friends bleating on about how extraordinarily boring it is to play and how stupidly simplistic a lot of it is when written down. I appreciate this, as does Victor as by now you’ve hopefully heard.

There was a fair amount of Smith performed music in the Radio 1 shows, most of which is surprisingly listenable – I might have to stick up one of his doo wop numbers in a later post, as the multi tracked harmonies (I assume that they’re all him singing – no other musical credits are given, except in series two when Dave bloody Stewart rears his beardy head every episode and sours a few minutes of my pleasure) are actually quite beautiful. I never really watched much of his televisual output, but am aware of his annoying tendency to regularly recycle material from one medium to another, so wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t turn up on TV Offal or somesuch at some time. There’s no way of telling, as he’s pretty much outlawed having any of his work up on YouTube anyway (hence my vague disclaimer in the first paragraph – please don’t hurt me Meester Smeeth).

The other thing that I find fascinating about the piece is comparing it to Chris Morris’ piece in the war episode of On The Hour ( apiece that I am very fond of, but won’t be uploading as it is commercially available – go buy the box sets you cheap shitehawks). Much has been made of how similar the material both produced at the start of their broadcasting careers, often by Smith in (fairly justified rants) about Christopher stealing his routine. Morris’ ‘War Goes Bang’ (for that is the name of the song in the episode) also spoofs process music, but not in as direct a way as Smith. He uses the tropes of the style of composition to comedic effect, but being as the song is about war (duh) the spoken gags are about the ill informed viewpoint of a composer who has never, and never will be, within two landmasses of any armed conflict. It’s not a rip off of Smith’s song (it appeared three or four years after the above was broadcast), but with the amount of animosity there was between the two at the time, it’s intriguing to hear both their (piss) takes of the same thing.

I would nudge you towards the Associated Rediffusion (the home of most of Smith’s current projects) site at this point, but it seems to be down for maintenance so here’s his Wikipedia entry, should you be interested.

Addendum (added 5th June 2010) - Having had a quick check, it transpires that the above track is actually commercially available – you can down load it from Amazon. It’s a different version to the one I have put up, being almost thirty seconds shorter, presumably as it misses out the weak Ned Sherrin impression for the credits.  Anyway, the version I have up is slightly different, so I think I’m alright, but would still advise you to purchase a copy of ‘Nyman’, though I still think ‘Process Music’ is a better title.

Short Story for the Weakened

May 27th, 2010 by Alastair

“She only wanted you for your body?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.” Clarence looked indignant. “What’s so surprising about that?”

“Well,” Nick floundered slightly before smirking. “Well, you, basically.”

“What?”

“Come on, be honest. You’re not exactly in the best shape are you?”

Clarence looked down and considered his paunch. “I’m doing alright aren’t I? It’s not like I can’t see my feet or anything is it?”

“No, no, nothing like that.” Nick stifled his giggles. “But you’re . . . that is . . . your toning . . .” He stifled no longer. “You’re hardly Adonis are you.”

“Okay, I’ll give you that,” said Clarence through a grin. “But she didn’t give me any complaints.”

Nick laughed. “Did you get her to fill out a questionnaire?”

Clarence chuckled. “Probably should have.”

They looked into their pints as the laughter died out.

“And now she doesn’t want anything to do with you?”

“Yeah,” said Clarence quietly. “By which I mean no.”

They both looked into their pints.

“Shit,” said Nick.

“Yeah,” said Clarence. “Shit.”

You Wood? Wood You Not?

May 23rd, 2010 by Alastair

Today was nice and sunny, as I’m sure the majority of you will have noticed. It being pleasant and not having much to do, I took it upon myself to try and visit a wood a few miles down the road. Woods have always been glorious places in my mind, since I started climbing trees in the local one when I was but a bairn (I don’t actively seek porn in them any more though). This one being as near as it was and me having my bi-wheeled chariot, how could it possibly go wrong.

It’s a fair amount of time since a whole wood has eluded me, but this one had a fair attempt at it.

I first had to traverse the hamlet that lay between me and the wood. The map had informed me that a road ran from one to the other, the route seeming simple enough that I didn’t bother bringing it with me. Foolish. The first turning woodward had a dead end sign, so I ignored it and pressed on. The second turning led quite quickly to a sign informing me that I was entering private property and being both a good, sign obeying citizen and fearful of having my buttocks filled with buckshot by an arsey farmer, I turned back. The third turning led to the back of a church and went no further.

I continued along the main road through the hamlet and quickly myself out of the hamlet and back in the countryside again. No matter, thought I. The wood continued for a a mile or so beyond the village limits and I assumed that there would be footpaths leading into it somewhere along the way, what with ramblers rights and all that palaver.

My assumption was wrong.

I cycled as far as the tip of the wood, a field’s distance all the way until it finally touched the road. Where the two met, I found a small road to another farmstead and valuing my posterior, decided to turn back. It was on this section of road I noticed something a little odd. It ran parallel to the cities ring road and had two lanes itself, though just next to the turn off from the ring road there were what seemed to be passing points for a single track road. Nothing that odd there, but in these three or four spots were parked cars. Each only had one person sitting in them, mainly men. I also noticed a variety of footpaths going into the wooded verge (not to be confused with the wood itself – this was just scrub land). It took me a while to realise what I’d stumbled upon.

Returning back into the hamlet, I realised that my best option was to try the dead end signpost option. The dead end appeared to have been cobblers as I soon found myself in countryside again but was soon running out of wood to my side. I was on the verge of conceding defeat when I came upon an official footpath sign. It led toward the trees, across a field that looked entirely crossable. I locked up my steed and followed where the sign led. Soon, after diverting slightly from the official route, I found myself at the tree line. My path was still blocked. A fence of about five foot high stood between me and my goal. I followed the fence around, but even though there were occasional dips where nature was trying to escape, none were low enough for me to clamber over or unnettley enough for me to risk in shorts.

I was approaching a corner that I knew would expose me to a building I feared would be filled with blunderbus wielding yokels, so had resigned myself to failure when I happened upon the style. Yes, thought I, the true mark of the public thoroughfare. I mounted and found myself under the leafy canopy. Unfortunately the five foot fence continued to my right, leaving me with only a tiny glade to explore. I pressed on and soon found myself at a road. The road led into the wood. There was a gate. I t was shut and locked. There was a kissing gate nest to it. It was unlocked. There was a sign on the gate. It stated the wood was only open to permit holders.

Could I go through, in spite of my sign abiding ways?

I didn’t, dear reader. There was a car parked half way down the road and I was fearful of further country pummellings. Plus it was getting on for dinner time and I was getting peckish. I noted down the number to ring to get a permit and resolved to have another try when next it is sunny and all my ends are loose. And the moral of the story?

Doggers like sunny days too.

The Future?

May 23rd, 2010 by Alastair

‘Hook’?

May 23rd, 2010 by Alastair

Just been playing with the analytics for the site (I don’t do it every single day, honest, but I do occasionally get curious) and had a look at where you, the readers, are primarily based. Going by cities, the top two over the past month were London and Oxford, which came as no great surprise – my readers are obviously intelligent or cosmopolitan, obviously. But sitting in third place is simply the word ‘Hook’. A quick bit of digging around shows me that there’s a town called Hook half way between Farnborough and Basingstoke, but that hardly qualifies it as a city. The thing that baffled me further was the fact that there were no new viewers listed – 100% of the readers in ‘Hook’ have been viewing the site regularly since the analytics site was set up a couple of months ago.

This all begs one question. Are you from Hook? And if so, why?

Puntcast

May 23rd, 2010 by Alastair

Since the site refurb’ I’ve had the option to upload sounds to the site, rather than just linking to other audio repositories on the web. So this is my first attempt at that. Let’s see what it looks like shall we?

OxfordBands_Puntcast_May_2010

Ooohh! That’s slightly disappointing, isn’t it.

The reason for my uploading this particular piece of audio is that my own mouth and voice can be heard speaking on it. For those ignorant of the Punt, it’s a night during which over twenty bands play in five or six venues around the city. You’ll probably find mentions of it in the May sections of the last few years of archives.  My voice is the slightly nerdy sounding one that first appears briefly near the start, saying a few words in the middle of a conversation about what people are going to see and about half way through expressing an opinion about Samuel Zasada (which caused some surprise to a number of people who heard it – fuck you, I do have opinions!).

The puntcast was put together by my dear chum Markuss, whose Eclectronimentica podcast I have recommended many times in the past and will continue to do so until he stops using my artwork for it’s logo. The whole mass of audio was produced for Oxford Bands and if you can’t be bothered to listen to it here, you can download it from there. They’ve also just put up my review of the dozen or so bands I saw, which was the reviewing task I was whinging about a few posts back. I was going to put it up in full here, as the original idea was to edit it together to try and give one review of the whole night, but because of my tardiness it seems to have gone up on it’s own unedited, so double posting it seems pointless. Go on, have a look. They need the hits.

Countryfile

May 23rd, 2010 by Alastair

The act of moving John Craven’s records.

Happy birthday website.

Adam Antium

May 23rd, 2010 by Alastair

I’ve babbled about this to various people since I first heard about it, but only got round to researching it yesterday. A couple of months ago I was listening to Danny Baker interview Rolf Harris (yes, I am forever trapped in the mid 90s, but this honestly did happen in the past couple of months) and the two ended up discussing this song, which you must listen to now.

As you can hear, the resemblance to Adam Ant’s ‘Prine Charming’ is astounding. Rolf’s song was originally released in 1965, sixteen years before the Ants released their regency ditty. Rolf was apparently quite litigious and rightfully so. Anyway, thought I’d share, especially as next to no one bothered commenting when I stuck it up on Facebook.

More birthday posts as I think of them.

The Reviewer’s Pain

May 14th, 2010 by Alastair

I sometimes wonder why I do it myself. I enjoy writing, God I do. The fact that I’m still churning this shite out after all this time must be testament to that. But this is aimlessly emptying my head of things the that often get lodged down the back of cortexes and need nudging out with a ruler. That’s all fine. It’s when someone charges me with the task of writing something that I really begin to struggle.

Current example – I’ve been asked to plug into a group mind to help review a night of two dozen bands I attended a couple of days ago. I managed to catch glimpses of about half of these acts and managed to take notes on most of them (though for one band I did just write down a series of increasingly weak puns). I must now of course turn these half arsed, barely legible squiggles into cogent opinions. Rather than being the hieroglyphs I scribbled down while half cut in a darkened room, they must now blossom into beautiful prose butterflies to flap across the eyes of all bored enough to read them. I have to formulate arguments as to why I think one band sounded sweeter than hummingbirds pouring nectar into my ears, while another was like landing lug first in a midden full of bear traps.

I find this hard.

There are a number of reasons for this – I’m out of practice at doing this sort of thing, though even back when I was contributing to a monthly magazine I still found it really hard work. I feel that I’m pretty out of touch with new music – of all music stations, Radio 2 is the one I listen to most (since Adam & Joe went on hiatus) and that’s hardly the best way to find new and exciting stuff. My subscription to any music papers has long since lapsed and I only really read about comedy and comics on the web, so I’m now more out of touch with new music than I ever have been. I’m not even buying that much at the moment, because of my pauper’s income. I hardly download anything on ethical grounds (actually, mainly because I own no kind of mp3 player and there’s barely enough space for the pornography stored on my hard drive as it is).

Then there’s my musical lexicon. I can’t just keep describing things as ‘nice’ or ‘very good’, because that’s appalling reviewing and makes you sound like an utter tool. Instead things must be ‘angular’ or ’skittering’, two of the words I’ve used most in my history of reviewing, and a couple of the one ones that I actually understand. In my notes I describe a drummer as ‘fractious rather than fractured’ and was going to sling that into the review until it occurred to me that, much as I like the word ‘fractious’, I don’t exactly know what it means. Having looked it up, describing a drummers style as essentially being stubborn wouldn’t have really worked in the context I was planning on using it. I could have used the ‘unruly’ definition, but that again would have been the road towards tooldom. Yes, I did do GCSE Music, so have a vague idea of some words I can use, but the grade of E that I achieved wasn’t entirely unjustified. The people most likely to be reading reviews of local music are, I’ve found, local musicians. They can play instruments, which I can’t (I again refer you to the E grade) and no more about what’s being played than I’m ever likely to.

Is my opinion worth more than theirs?

Of course it is.

It’s my opinion and thereby trumps all of mankind’s.

There’s also the fact that this is a fairly small city, my having a fairly recognisable face, name and tendency to go to gigs. I don’t want to say unpleasant things about someone I might find myself standing next to in a sweaty room a week and a half later. I could use a pseudonym, but I’m also too much of a massive egotist to ever do anything like that (see opinion trumping above for further details).

So why do I keep going back to it. Because of  the end result to some degree. When I’ve got through the hours of procrastinating, the forced distractions (I could be writing it now you know), the far too regular fag breaks (normally up to one every half hour when I should be typing), I’m normally relatively happy having sweated the words from my head and onto a screen. And because paople seem to think I’m quite good at it. At least that’s what they sometimes say, and the aforementioned ego does like a bit of a stroke every once in a while (as in kittens, not partial paralysis). And mainly, because a mate asked me to. I’m such a soft touch (not like a kitten, but more like…actually quite like a kitten – stroke me and I will purr).

So that’s another half hour wasted, now I have to go and buy some veg. Maybe I’ll finish it this evening.

On a Friday night.

Ha.

I done drew a pitcher

May 13th, 2010 by Alastair

Well, I didn’t expect it to look like this.

That’s cobblers, of course. Since the server shift I’ve had this design vaguely sketched out in my mind and it’s only this week that I finally got round to actually committing pen to paper, paper to scanner and scanner to someone actually capable of making the whole thing work (thanks Frags). Feel yourselves lucky that I didn’t go for the naked self portrait idea instead (though that is no guarantee that I won’t in the future). I’m slightly unsettled that the spectacles look a little too much like sunglasses, but I might try and sort that when I attempt a colour version. Oh yes, that’s right, there’s going to be some colour on this wretched site for the first time in nigh on six years!

Having just had a looksie, it’s six years and two days since the first actual post here, though that was a test by Rob (Uber), so I refuse to count it as the anniversary. Nothing against Rob (Uber) or anything, but this is all about me, dammit, ME, ahem, and my typings better than his. The anniversary of the first actual post with real words and thoughts and that in it is eleven days away. Perhaps I will bake a cake. Or have some sort of shit competition. Who knows? Not I. Details will follow when I work out what they are.

Now I just need to work out how to get the fnords back