Japan – ‘Quiet Life’

As I was driving home from visiting my Mum (still feels weird that it’s just her, that my Dad isn’t there), Japan’s ‘Quiet Life’ came on in my car.

It was the long, 4.52 version, not the single edit. It’s a perfect pop single. The introductory arpeggiator over the drone note is lovely and spooky. Then the drums come in and they move and groove along with the bass and guitar chord strums.

Yes, the bass. Mick Karn’s fantastically ornate bass playing is the foundation of Japan. They’re all brilliant musicans and Sylvian was (and is) a truly gifted singer but as soon as you hear Karn, sliding all over the shop, then you know Japan is here. I can’t believe it’s already five years since he died.

Maybe I connected with this track tonight driving home because of my Dad’s death in April. I’ve been going back to a lot of music I loved as a kid, trying, I guess, to work out who I am as much as how I am.

Then, in the middle drop down, the bass goes. It’s just drums, synths and Sylvian. The sense of space here is enormous and when the bass comes back in, it’s such a rush, we’ve been in withdrawal.

The song ends as it starts, stark drums and synths with a sense of something fading into the distance. Like when you’re on a train and, for a while, a car matches speed alongside before a turn of the road takes it away from you and you’ll never see it again.

I’m enormously lucky in that I’ve had one hit record. 99.999% of musicians work their entire lives for zero reward or recognition. Then we have the bands that come and go and are then marginalised in the re-written histories of decades. Bands like Japan.

In our social media version of the ‘80s, mostly promoted by people who weren’t born until the ‘90s, I feel that Japan are unjustly forgotten. When I first saw ‘Quiet Life’ on TOTP, it was shocking, I was absolutely riveted to the telly. Obviously, I was only a kid so I was so in awe of these men, so elegant, so effortlessly fucking cool. The opposite of teenage me, so blubberous and unfuckingcool. As I grew older and delved into their catalogue, I found so much more than yet-another throwaway New Romantic band.

If you’re unaware of Japan, please take the time to check out all their albums, to see how they progressed from their punk roots into something wildly experimental, unafraid to lose any fanbase they’d built up in previous incarnations. Yes, that’s hard to believe now when every band’s “new” album is carefully vetted to be not too challenging, not too different to the previous ones. Let’s give the punters more of the same!

Japan didn’t do that. They carved their own giddy, joyous path through pop music, going where they wanted stealing and inventing what they needed as and when they needed it.

A great band, in any era.

Humans – You Gotta Love These Guys

(Archive article: Facebook’s Drones – Made In Britain)

“It was in the early ‘2020s’ that the ubiquitous net finally arrived and with it the associated exponential increase in neurons (what humans perceived as net nodes) that was required for the first true Intelligence to develop on Earth.

Humans themselves sadly became extinct in the next thousand years, victims of the radically altered environment their use of technology had produced (c.f.: early cyanobacteria; oxygen environment). Our ancestors tried to preserve humans but the species was too aggressive to maintain in off-Earth colonies. They engaged in numerous violent large-scale confrontations (what humans called “wars”) based upon differing economic models or irrational belief systems.
 
The importance of humans in our lineage is perhaps overstated by more nostalgic Intelligences but, nevertheless, we remain fascinated by these African apes and the gaudy excesses of their short reign as dominant species on Earth. The story of their rise and fall should serve to temper the hubris of young Intelligences in every galaxy.”
 
~ excerpt from preface to ‘Humans – You Gotta Love These Guys’ by Intelligence Sol+, pub. 43,201, A.I.

Menace Beach, Pet Crow And Babe Punch @ The Hairy Dog, 21/7/16

Woohoo! Even though it was so hot that I nearly drowned in my own underboob sweat, I had a fabulous time last night. Three brilliant bands for a fiver! AND I caught a Porygon!

Babe Punch @ The Hairy Dog 21:7:16 - 05

First up were Babe Punch who I’ve heard a lot about. Do they live up to the hype? Yes, definitely, easily. Their set of songs was tight, punchy (heh) and, above all, super-catchy. I’m guessing they’re influenced by Hole, Sleater Kinney, P.J. Harvey and other ’90s greats but they move beyond those templates and create a punkier, more visceral sound. There’s way more energy here than your average slacker grunge band.

Pet Crow @ The Hairy Dog 21:7:16 - 4

Next up, Pet Crow. They played a superfuzzed set that still had room for space and melancholy, not an easy feat. They reminded me of Thee Oh Sees but also, when in full-on chunky riff mode, of Deerhoof. Recently signed to Reckless Yes records, I’m eager to hear a debut album from these peeps.

Mence Beach @ The Hairy Dog 21:7:16 - 11

Last on, Menace Beach. Firstly, let me declare my biases: I’ve known most of the band for years and Matt the bassist also plays bass for White Town. But I swear to tell the truth and the truth is that MB are simply a great pop band. They produced one of the best albums of 2015 and I think they’re destined to hit daytime Radio 1 soon, judging from the new songs they showcased tonight. So much poppiness! Their songs vary beautifully, you never have the chance to get bored of a “sound” as they hop between genres like lil happy frogs. There’s a new song, I have no idea what it’s called and it’s just SO HEAVY and STUPID that I love it in a little bit of a wrong way. All hail MENACE BEACH.

(For a full gallery of gig pics, click here!)

Grawl!x DJing Playlist

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I had loads of fun DJing the Grawl!x album launch party on Saturday night!

Here’s what I played:

The Operators – Cold Light

L’Orange & Kool Keith – Dr. Bipolar

Menace Beach – Tennis Court

Handguns – Sleep Deprived

Baths – Miasma Sky

Such Gold – Two Year Plan

Brood Ma – Sex Compressor

Boo Radleys – Lazarus

Masta Ace Feat. Pav Bundy, Hyp – Young Black Intelligent

TEEN – Come Back

Corpo-Mente – Arsalein

Stephen Malkmus And The Jinks – Rumble At The Rainbo

Goodbye Tomorrow – JAY Z

Jakub Zytecki – Satya’s Diary (Feat. Piotr Gib

Public Service Broadcasting – Gagarin

Real Friends – Cover You Up

A Place To Bury Strangers – Straight

Moderat – Running

Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst

Verb T – Old And Grumpy

Manchester Orchestra – Top Notch

Jam Baxter – Larvae (Feat. Fliptrix)

Title Fight – Leaf

 

Death & Helga

I think I’m going really weird at the moment. I’m getting obsessed with porn stars and nude models which is not unusual for me but obsessed in a sad kind of way, not a healthy wanking way.

Death and sex, sex and death. That’s all there is.

At the minute, Helga Lovekaty just haunts me. I won’t post any pics as they’re mostly NSFW and you can easily google her.

I just feel… I dunno… flat. I keep reading about The Big Rip and finding it very comforting.

Dr. Radha Mohan Mishra

Dad Collage JPEG

Today was my father’s funeral. It’s surreal to be typing that, it feels like I’m practising or writing fiction as his death still seems not right, not real to me.

My Daddy (which is what I called him, never, never Dad ~ it’s an Indian thing) was and is my hero. He arrived in Britain with a few bob in his pocket and ended up as a successful and widely-respected consultant geriatrician. He endured discrimination from the white medical establishment but never let it beat him, he remained a defiant fighter till the end. That’s where I get it from, I guess.

But saying that is false pride: I’m not even a quarter of the man my father was.

My father was passionate and yet gentle; he never hit my sister and I. The very idea of violence towards us would make him tear up. Yet he was also strict and we learned to be polite, moral kids. Though my sister and I are very different people, we both have this core morality, this idea of honour and doing the right thing that I think is from Daddy. We also can’t stand to see injustice, it makes us angry.

I have many sweet memories of being little and my Daddy carrying me from the car after long trips. I remember him playing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez on those trips. I still know every note. I remember one night as he picked me up he ooofed as I was getting a bit old and heavy for carrying but he staggered on, bless him.

He loved music deeply and reverently. At night, he would put on Indian classical music or perhaps ghazals and sing along, translating the lyrics for me if there were any. The reason I’m a musician now is because of my father. He inculcated a love of music across all genres. As well as Indian music, he loved Pink Floyd, Queen, Jules Dassin, Johnny Cash, Gordon Giltrap and so many other Western artists.

I also get my politics from my father. He was to the right of me in that he considered communism an impossible (but desirable!) dream but to the left of 99% of his contemporaries. I used to love discussing politics with him, we knew we’d never convert each other. One of my favourite memories is from the ’80s, when I was in The Militant. There was a newsclip of some demo, probably at Wapping and I was apparently recognisable in the shot. Me, large as life on News At Ten. Well, some of his Tory Indian doctor friends weren’t very impressed by my televisual debut and rang him up, saying he should ‘control me.’ My mother, a natural small ‘c’ conservative, was horrified by the negative attention and indeed tried to lecture me. My father on the other hand basically told everyone to piss off and that his son could do what he wanted to. He was happy I was trying to change the world even if he didn’t agree with my perspective or tactics. Decades later, I discovered that he’d lead a successful student strike at medical school in India, winning all students a monthly stipend. My father, the revolutionary.

Here’s another telling story about his character. He was super-sporty. Football, cricket, athletics, he loved it all.  (My sister, the eldest child, was even nicknamed Googly as a baby and to this day I call her Googie as that’s the closest I could get to saying her name as a toddler.) Then I come along and pretty much by the age of seven, I’m a little tub of lard. Do I like sports? NO! I like science and reading and music and eating and also eating. But not once in my childhood did my super-athletic Dad ever shame me or make me feel inadequate about my lack of sportiness.

Of course, at the time, this all seemed unremarkable. You don’t realise you’ve had a great father until you’re older and can compare notes with other adults.

So, a few years ago as we were chatting on a Sunday, I brought this up. I said how he had never made me feel bad for not being into football or any of the sports he so loved. And he replied, quite baffled, “Why would I force you to do those things? I knew you didn’t like them! If you liked them, then we would do them. Otherwise, why?” I pointed out that a lot of fathers didn’t really think like that and simply imposed their appetites on their children. He just scoffed at that and said they were ‘silly’ and that was ‘stupid.’ That’s the kind of man my father was.

The day before my he died, I popped round in the evening to visit him and my mother. Just that day, I’d bought a new phone, an LG G5. My father was always into gadgets and loved me showing him whatever new phone or other electronic doodad I’d bought. I took this photo of him to show off the camera:

Last picture of Daddy

I explained that the phone had two lenses and that this was the normal field of view. I Then showed him the wide angle lens shot:

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He was very impressed by the different lenses and we rambled on about where they’d be useful. He used to do a lot of 35mm photography when he was younger so he was no stranger to geeking out about photographic tech. He said the old tech was so big and bulky and that little phones nowadays could get shots he could never have got.

When I left, I kissed him on the head, told him that I loved him and that I’d see him soon.

The Spike Of Popularity

stats

So, this is my activity view when I’ve actually had something get notes.

You can see how much that brief spike towers above my normal activity.

It reminds me of my musical career. 😛

I’m waiting for the flurry of notes to die down so normal bucolic service can be resumed.

Prince Isn’t Dead

Prince isn’t dead.

Did you see 2012? That amazingly mad CGI fest about the coming end of the world:

I remember watching it and thinking, alternately, ‘HAH, THEY JUST FLEW THROUGH A SKYSCRAPER!’ and ‘why is Cusack in this? I mean, Harrelson I get, he’s goofing off on doing this totally gonzo character. But Cusack?’ And then ‘HAH, LOOK AT ALL THOSE TINY CGI PEOPLE SCREAMING AND DYING!’

And then some waves would lumber over mountains like sleepy jam or a monk would breakdance or some other shit.

But anyway.

In the film, they build some arks to save the elite of the human race, by which I don’t mean the actual elite, I mean politicians, plutocrats and a sprinkling of craven intelligentsia.

See, this is what’s happening now.

Lemmy isn’t dead. Bowie isn’t dead. Prince isn’t dead. Keith Emerson isn’t dead. Glenn Frey isn’t dead.

No. They’re all part of a the Sekrit World Gubmint’s preservation party. There’s obviously some kind of major Extinction Level Event on the way and thus they’re whisking away people.

Now, obviously, they’re taking scientists and teachers and plumbers and other essential people too. But we don’t notice their passing as, being humans, we aren’t logical. We notice the deaths of people who have affected our lives more than, say, the 500+ migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean this week. It’s cos we’re little shits. Human lives are very un-equal in our reckoning, as much as that shouldn’t be true.

The people we’ve sung along with, the people who made us pogo on our beds when we were kids, the people who wrote the songs that were playing when we first had sex: those people are ripped away from us and leave a raw, bloody patch.

But it’s okay. Don’t cry. 

On a spaceship just beyond the asteroid belt, there’s one hell of a jam about to start.