Wed, May. 20th, 2009, 06:16 pm
Okay. I admit it, I gave into temptation, I am weak, but the Koibito
is just too nice.
(Still worth checking Yoskay's blog
to see more of his work.)
Mon, May. 18th, 2009, 09:37 pm
Threshold House Boy’s Choir
Threshold House Boy’s Choir is the solo post-Coil project by Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, which is heavily influenced by the time he has spent in Thailand in the last few years. Spotting a gig listing in Monorail, the Glasgow record shop in the café/bar Mono, suggesting that he was playing in the sister venue Stereo, was something of a surprise. I bought a ticket straight away. I was offered a ticket which already had a date in March scored out and replaced with a date in April. Before I could pay for the ticket, the phone went, the date was scored out in response to the phone call and replaced with the 3rd of May. Not reassuring that a member of Coil/Throbbing Gristle is going to turn up in Glasgow, of all places, especially given all recent gigs he has done seemed to have been in Russia.
But March goes, April passes, and the bank holiday weekend in May comes round, as does the Euro-exclusive gig by The Threshold House Boys Choir. Having seen different start times listed, I turn up at 7, enthusiastic and admittedly more nervous with anticipation for a gig than I’ve been in a long time. The sound check is still going on downstairs, they estimate more likely another half hour before they are ready to open. But Stereo is café/bar, so its cool to sit upstairs with a drink and wait for the gig to start. As the half hour or so passes the place starts to fill up, though the upstairs isn’t that big anyway. Strangely I find myself sitting on a stool by the bar, with Peter Christopherson standing beside me, looking at the menu, before ordering food from the waitress. A few people can’t resist, and soon there are people wandering over for a chat. Friends arrive and tell me that downstairs is open, CDs are on sale, including the particularly limited THBC Amulet edition release. Heading down with them, I manage to get the second last copy of the Amulets that they have with them, along with some other bits and pieces (the Soisong album, tour CD by Throbbing Gristle). The guy selling the CDs tells me that Sleazy is about and will be happy to sign stuff, and as if on cue Sleazy comes down the stairs, and shouts “Let me get a pen!” Before he knows it a crowd of people forms, I get my Amulet signed and shake his hand - Coil are one of my favourite bands and it is so good to have Sleazy here and to find him to be so amiable and easy going.
Popular Glasgow DJ and musician DJ Twitch plays a set of records by way of opener, the same as he did when Neubauten had played their only Glasgow appearance a couple of years before. As 9pm approaches anticipation grows, hoping he’ll go on then, standing by the stage, looking at a screen that says “Up Next! Threshold House Boys Choir”. In the end it is closer to 9.30pm by the time he does go on. He pulls on his ceremonial robes, tells us that we start the night with some film appreciation, and plays us a clip from the film “The Thief of Baghdad.” He tells us how the clip relates to his thoughts about the “sacred and profane” and how much those things have been in his thoughts, have affected his work of late.
From here he starts his set, a mixture of projected video and sound. With each piece he tells us the story of the music and the film. Even sometimes during the music, he will turn to the audience and make comments - sometimes about a piece of software, about his intent for the piece, or just a thought. The night is quiet, downbeat, moody and atmospheric. In some ways it’s a strangely intimate evening, like watching home movies with your favourite gay uncle who is just back from his trip to Thailand - this is the bit I filmed down the temple, I made some music to go with it, I think I’ll make it into a documentary, shrug, you know. Or its comments about his boyfriend, and how he is made to feel so terribly Western in his attitudes, making it sound as though he is so hard done by, while its clear on another level how happy he is.
A lot of the pieces are works in progress, some included on the Amulet. The first is a piece he did on street boys, and how they prostitute themselves. He couples the images of them with a prayer, with his music, and tells us how he hopes that by doing so he is doing something sacred, something that will in some way improve the lives of these boys. The next piece is inspired by one of his particular themes for the documentary, temple tattooing in Thailand. How gangsters have monks tattoo them, and that the tattoo they get is protection against evil. The video he uses for this piece is from one particular day every year where one of the most famous, and oldest, monks appears in public. Hundreds of tattooed gangsters gather and sit in front of the temple, soldiers line up between them and the monk. As the gangsters sit they become possessed by the spirit of their tattoos and run at the temple. The soldiers catch them, and as Sleazy observes, instead of doing anything negative, the soldiers restrain them, make sure they don’t hurt themselves, talk them down. It’s a sight to see, watching the video of these men running, crawling, hurling themselves, seemingly unaware of their actions.
Apparently in Thailand people buy and sell mobile phones according to how much they can afford any particular week. With mobile phones being popular for making home made sex tapes, and people frequently neglecting to delete them when they sell the phone on. In turn there is then a trade of exchanging these by blue tooth, with the impression that I got that there is even a channel on TV that shows these clips. Sleazy, living up to his nickname, has started to collect these, and showed some on screen, layered through effects to give a strange psychedelic feel while he played his music to go with it. From the topic of sex, the next piece is about death , Sleazy tells us how his dog died while he was in Bangkok, and how it was the first real death to touch him since the death of Geoff (John Balance, other half of Coil). The piece which results was inspired by those feelings, is included on the Amulet, and while being about death he didn’t want it to be too serious, so he contrasted the topic with footage of Liberace. To continue the cycle he plays his next track to footage of a decapitation, then plays a happy song, with dancers dressed as demons at a ceremony. Before improvising a last piece a bit to act as an encore finishing number, the noisiest piece of the night, and having not planned it, he goes back to the sex tapes.
At the end of the show he thanks everyone, for coming, and how much he enjoyed sitting watching home videos with friends. The music for the most part is the atmospheric stuff, the more droney layered kind of stuff, mixed with Thai influences, voices and sounds, encompassing and pleasing. He waves, leaves the stage, and tells people he’ll be hanging around for awhile, if anyone wants to have a drink with him. And somewhere in conversations he lets drops that he will be back with Throbbing Gristle in June, and the mind boggles at the chances of these two events happening so close together.
Wed, Apr. 22nd, 2009, 11:07 am
Performance:John Moran & His Neighbour Saori
Date & Venue:The Arches, Glasgow, 18th April 2009
Saori is a skinny Japanese woman, who lives in New York, and we are given the impression she works as a dancer. She starts the show by saying that this is their first time in Glasgow, and that likely means it is the first time most of us will have seen their show. She grins and laughs, full of mischievous glee, and says "I wonder how you will explain this show to your friends tomorrow when you try and tell them all about it." That said she introduces us to John Moran.
Moran comes on stage, with a flare of show manship, before throwing a bit of a depressive tantrum and sinking to the floor and laughing like a stoner. I am reminded of having seen Ann Liv Young shows as part of the previous couple of years equivalent festivals. And my heart sinks, here we go, pretentious crap, where the performer does something wanky and over the top and we're supposed to find it charming and amusing instead of contrived and tiresome.
However the show quickly takes a weirder bent, as John and Saori get caught into loops of dialogue. Ok, there is something more going on here, but it still has enough of a reek of self-indulgence that my reservations are still in place. Saori draws a duck, does a cute quack-quack routine, before transforming into a monster then drug denier when she drops the chalk, does this a half dozen times. John offers commentary, but then falls back into that initial tantrum/laughing loop of his own.
As the show progresses it is comprised of various extracts from grandiose "operas" John has done over the years, interspersed with stray songs he has written. Saori takes various roles from these performances - a girl serving in a McDonalds, to a girl serving drinks behind a bar, to John's neighbour Saori. As the evening switches between these pieces and John's explanations the event takes on an air of the surreal.
At one point John makes a comment about how different people had reacted to his work, about the description of something being Avant Garde. And I can't help think that those two words can be applied to justify and explain anything that a group of people might decide to do in front of an audience - oh, its ok, its avant garde, or hey, you just don't get it, its avant garde. And I am left thinking about the holes in that theory, and the questions about art.
The show takes a shape. It starts to demonstrate who John Moran is, how he got to where he is today, and to illustrate his particular obsessions. He did over the top musicals, called them operas to make them sound shiny. Was part of a scene, got name actresses, stole a girl from another man, was deeply in love, and hit the barrier - hit a point where it was no longer fun. He hated doing the opera, the relationship fell apart, he fell apart, he ran away. Turning up in Germany he found another love, and through himself into the deep end of that. Concocted wedding plans and extravaganza, only for that to fall apart as well. On the brink of losing another show, he spotted his neighbour Saori, and one thing led to another. There is comedy in the interactions and loops of their meetings and first attempts to work together.
But in some ways as well as being a show about how they came about how they came to be working together, its a show about rhythms and loops. Its about taking things apart, its about microscopic elements taken to their smallest level and being rebuilt. Most of the conversations are loops which the two play to. Most of them working on 68 or 71 BPM, human rhythms, and he demonstrates how these things fall into synch with each other, or spin to a point where the pieces no longer add up. And I have to admit, this is where I start to become fascinated by what he is doing. About how he has taken individual piano notes in built them into a performance of a piece by Bach, or taken words and environmental sounds and built them into a scene between two people. On the one hand its brilliant, on the other its stunningly obsessive.
With that, at each stage I am left with questions. Is this avant garde art or is it self-indulgent wankery? Is it obsessive brilliance or obsessive madness? Am I only interested because it is being explained to me and the explanation is interesting, would I still be interested if we had simply seen loops, and John had never sat there and said "by the way, this conversation is occurring at 68 BPM, the Bach soundtrack she is talking against is at 68 BPM, I am playing Danny Boy to this soundtrack at the same BPM and its all clicking together." Without the explanation would I have thought it was all crap, or would the charm and warmth of the work have come through? Its hard to say, but I was left with my head buzzing with thoughts, familiar questions remaining unanswered as to the nature of art.
Wed, Mar. 18th, 2009, 12:57 pm
Thanks to squirmelia
for setting up remotecards
as a feed for the Remote Cards blog. Most appreciated. Hopefully it will be of some use to everyone here.
Tue, Mar. 17th, 2009, 09:15 pm
Author Ashley Wood
Ok. We'll slide this into the "oh-god-i-want-so-bad-i'm-drooling" category, cross referenced with that "fuck-me-they'll-cost-how-much?" category. Artist Ashley Wood has been developing a range of toys - robots, blokes with swords - but these girls with swords and big jackets. Ouch, in the world of collectable toys? Those kick ass. Of course he is going for the over priced, ultra limited market, because I guess thats where the money is. If at some point I post pictures of me having bought these, or the nifty fish-boy I posted in this category before, I expect scorn (and envy!) to be poured on me! (like it would make a difference to my enjoyment..ha!)
Tue, Mar. 17th, 2009, 09:14 pm
I just read this graphic novel recently having bought a physical copy sometime ago, adding it to the bottom of a pile so that I missed placed it, and then being constantly reminded by how much I liked his art until i damn well excavated the book. Its really good. Very much worth reading. He is serializing the main story online over a period of weeks, not sure why I haven't noticed the last times I've been on his site, but there you go. I encourage reading it, in case no one noticed the first couple of times I said so.
Mon, Mar. 16th, 2009, 09:28 pm
I've always been one of those people who carries a notepad and pen everywhere they go. Who scribbles down the minutae of the world around them. I've decided to share some of that in a new blog, which I'm calling Remote Cards, like taking these notes and writing them on the back of postcards, and sending them out there for people to read. Co-written by Babylonions. Updating regularly, so far.
Sat, Mar. 7th, 2009, 01:39 pm
Links References from 7th March 2009
Trying to get into habit of not just forwarding links of interesting things to people by email or just re-tweeting things on twitter, because that only covers a snapshot. When I have these perfectly good places to post things and share things with people who miss those other things. Encourage me, its good for me, honest.Podcast That Rose-Red Empire brianlavelle
posts - That Rose-Red Empire: 90 min. podcast LSE Events, featurin Iain Sinclair, Jerry White & Patrick Wright: http://bit.ly/2RV4TBlog Daily Routines
got this link off twitter, probably a re-tweet of a re-tweet, but here is the direct route. A collection of pieces on the daily routines of "writers, artists, and other interesting people". Looks like there should be some interesting stuff to read there. At moment i'm reading a conversation between Jonathan Lethem and Paul Auster, both writers who come into the periphery of my interests but as yet haven't convinced/won me over.Twitter Remote Fiction
I have various things, projects, wotsits, irons in the fire or whatever you want to call them. Some which slump to a halt of inactivity, some of which I'm gripped by inspiration and motivation. Recent addition to that is the decision to create a second twitter account remotefiction
. My first twitter account was supposed to be a mixture of things, but when posting observations and fictional realities it can be awkward because people take them seriously. So, here I post clear fictions. So far thats been 2 1/2 clear stories, how it grows from there remains to be seen, its an experiment. I have other things in the works, but more on that later, for now:Entering Fictional Territory: A Half StoryThe Wolf Corridor: An Altered RealityHorror Film: An Altered Reality
Coming soon, maybe: The Second Library Attack - which takes a starting point inspired by Murakami as the title suggests, then should head somewhere else, you know, if I actually write that part sometime...
Fri, Mar. 6th, 2009, 02:26 pm
Title Red MarsWarren Ellis
Author Kim Stanley Robinson
points out that Kim Stanley Robinson's novel Red Mars is free to download from his American publisher's site, along with some other stuff - http://www.suvudu.com/freelibrary
. The first volume of his Mars Trilogy, probably his most well known novel, and well worth reading. Also worth noting Bruce Sterling
directs us towards an article online that Kim has written about climate change
Thu, Mar. 5th, 2009, 08:14 pm
Calendar: Some things happening in the future that might be interesting.
11 March 2009. Howling Bells and The Joy Formidable. The Classic Grand, Glasgow
17 - 21 MarchEDWARD GANT'S AMAZING FEATS OF LONELINESS. Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
20 -22 March Instal 2009. www.thearches.co.uk/Instal-2009.htm
21 March 2009 Suites Cruelles. Cas Public/Hélène Blackburn. www.caspublic.com Tramway, Glasgow
21 March 2009 Tunng with Tinariwen. Old Picture House, Edinburgh. www.edinburgh-picturehouse.co.uk
23 March 2009.Mono. Stereo, Glasgow Web: www.stereocafebar.com/
27 March 2009Shitmat. Soundhaus, Glasgow
28 March 2009 Skullflower. 13th Note, Glasgow. www.13thnote.co.uk/
8 April 2009. Bat For Lashes. Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow www.qmu.org.uk
12-25 Apr 2009Behaviour (Live Art Festival), The Arches, Glasgow
15 - 18 Apr The Idiot Colony. Tron Theatre, Glasgow
21 - 25 AprilWUTHERING HEIGHTS (Bollywood style).Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
24 - 26 Apr The Angel and the Woodcutter. Tron Theatre, Glasgow
26 April 2009. John Parish and PJ Harvey. The Queens Hall, Edinburgh.
8 - 9 May 2009. Ashes. Les Ballet C. de la B. www.fransbrood.com Tramway, Glasgow
9 May 2009. Yann Tiersen. ABC Glasgow, Glasgow.
18 May 2009Kristin Hersh. King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
19 May 2009 The Breeders. King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
19 - 26 MayMUSEUM OF DREAMS. Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
23 May 2009Sultans of Ping FC, The Arches, Glasgow
4 June 2009. Antony and the Johnsons. Playhouse, Edinburgh
4 - 6 Jun 2009 Maria-Magdalena. Wayn Traub. www.wayntraub.net Tramway, Glasgow
24 June 2009. Emiliana Torrini. Oran Mor, Glasgow
10 July And the Devil May Drag You Under.Tron Theatre, Glasgow
31 Jul - 01 AugWhite Tea. Tron Theatre, Glasgow