Wednesday, October 31, 2007


For all the attention they have received of late it has probably been over a year since I dipped my toe in any iLiKETRAiNS material.

The huge awe inspiring feel of this short instrumental evokes nothing but fear.


Taken from the bootleg THE iNDiCTMENT its a reminder that even in their early work there has always been something wholly intoxicating and unique.

They somehow seem to systematically fall out of my head. Which is upsetting when I glance over this band so often. But then, its a fairly enveloping and euphoric feeling when I discover them all over again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Arcade Fire gig..

You may think me cynical to be wholly prepared for a disappointing experience when seeing Arcade Fire at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena last night (29/10/07). Now before you jump out of your skin in outrage let me assure you that in no way, shape or form did I think that Arcade Fire themselves would be disappointing. No, of course not. I've been lucky enough to experience their shining brilliance before.

But the Newcastle Metro Radio Arena? I was skeptical about the venue. Having seen Arcade Fire in the renowned Brixton Academy in March this year and having gone to a fair few gigs at Newcastle Arena (back when it was called something else because the money was coming from elsewhere) I just couldn't help but worry.

And certainly, right now, I'd love this to be the point where I proclaim that I need not have worried. But I was right. And in fact, more than right.

The sound was appalling. Like, I'm not going to bother holding back here, someone wants to be ashamed of themselves. Anyone accountable for that should be severely reprimanded.

I saw Arcade Fire in March and was blown away by the quality of the sound. Every bow of the violins, every breath into the mic, every tinkle of the glockenspiel was picked up and the sound that entered your ears was divine. Last night was like a tinny car stereo turned up too loud. If you weren't familiar with every lyric of Arcade Fire before? Yea, don't expect to be anymore enlightened after that.

It was like viewing an amazing band in a bubble, a parallel universe. The worst thing was that people paid good money for that, it may possibly be their only opportunity to see a band like them and thats what they get. Coupled with the fact that Arcade Fire are actually life-changingly good live...

I'd definately think twice before ever going to another gig at the Metro Radio Arena. There are just too many facts that point to a severe let-down by someone else.

But all in all. What more can I say? Obviously Arcade Fire were amazing. There is almost no point in reviewing the band themselves because it goes without saying, hence the lack of words. Spectacular. Glorious. A beacon of hope in my troubled little world. Arcade Fire. Always are and for the forseeable future always will be.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Krakatau volcanoe spewing ash

Over the weekend I was out at Anyer, west Java, which overlooks the Sundra Straits between Java and Sumatra. The islands of Krakatau lie in the Sundra Straits and I had a glimpse of them on Sunday morning. Later the same day, Krakatau started bellowing smoke and spewing ash. Was she angry at me or someone else ? Here is a report from a local paper.

The authorities had issued warnings of a possible eruption of the Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatoa) volcano in the Sunda Strait after it spewed ash and smoke. Several small eruptions have been detected and prompted the Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Centre to raise its alert status to the second level. A giant Krakatoa eruption of 1883 that killed tens of thousands of people was the largest explosion in recorded history.

Physical exhaustion..

And it's not over yet.

Those Dancing Days - Those Dancing Days [via YouSendIt for 7 days]

Those Dancing Days. A cute Swedish, indie-pop, electro band recieving love from the world of blogs. This is their best track. Sounds like they could progress really well. Blatant potential.

Simian Mobile Disco - Cliktrax [via YouSendIt for 7 days]

A reworking of a previous track the boys had done. Personally I think I prefer my more familiar original. However, this still sums up for me everything I adore about Simian Mobile Disco. And thats a lot!

Dan Deacon - Wham City [via YouSendIt for 7 days]

This song by Dan Deacon has really got me through some dark moments recently. It guarantees to delight in its split personality type way. A song that is actually done in two different styles, if you don't like the first you're bound to love the second. Love the friendly sounding chorus!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why were we fighting ?

Baldrick the incorrigible star in Blackadder said " War is a terrible thing."
Never a truer statement.

My father fought in the 2nd World War and was on that terrible battle for Monte Cassino as part of New Zealand's 23rd Battalion.

Recently my brother and his wife visited Monte Cassino and laid five roses there, one each on behalf of his five children. Private James William Godfrey McKerrow fought gallantly on Monte Cassino and saw a huge number of his friends die around him. He was wounded, but able to continue fighting. Dad spoke little of the war, but would often get nostalgic at Christmas time as he remembered the Christmas he spent in a trench on Monte cassino. He told me how there was a half day cease fire and he and his comrades crossed the frontline to celebrate Christmas with the German soldiers they had been trying to kill for the past few months. Dad said. " they were good men like our soldiers, fathers and sons like us. " He said rather sadly to me, " I wondered then and still do now, why we were fighting ? "

My Dad told me how they swapped precious gifts such as chocolate, sweets, canned meat and cigarettes. They also sang songs in tehir own languages.

I have worked for the Red Cross for 35 years and have seen first hand the Vietnam War, the war that created Bangladesh, wars in Ethiopia, India/Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan. My Dad's words turn over in my head, " Why were we fighting ? "

Friday, October 26, 2007

Social awakening and Art Brut?

Micro sociology. The tacit rules of society. They can vary culture to culture. Yet largely there are some aspects of our behaviour that we are unaware that we adhere to rules of conduct. Obvious examples, you happen to be glancing at a stranger on a train, they look up and catch your glance, quickly a not to seem suspicious you look away. Or, one of my favourites in conversation analysis, flagged up to me by the great Robin Wooffitt, if someone proposes an invitation to a party and you are not keen on going you'll use softeners, "Well, I think I might be busy.. I think I've got some work to do.. I don't think I have much money.." (we could dissect the "I think"'s further, but won't), this breaks the news rather than an outright, abrupt refusal.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman is exactly a study and description of these sorts of tacit phenomenon. The way in which we behave in social situations to portray a certain image of ourselves, given the normative expectations and values of the culture we live in.

Now, we've all experienced a time or situation in which we felt awkward or unsure how to act. Sometimes we might even be shocked or surprised to learn that a certain action we have done does not fit with what would be expected, we have mis-interpreted, misjudged, done something out of the ordinary.

So imagine my - the nothing-matters-but-the-song music devotee - dismay and shock to learn from Art Brut a lesson in love.

Art Brut - Pump Up The Volume [via YouSendIt for 7 days]

Never had I realised that it was "possibly wrong" to leave a lover to adjust the volume of a song that I really like.

Is this a tacit rule that my one-track mind for pop music had ignored?

And now that this social crime has been alerted to me, will I change my behaviour? Nah, I should hope my lover would understand. In fact, he does and loves me all the more for my quirk.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Caravan must move on.

Like most New Zealanders, I was gutted by the All Black's failure in the recent Rugby World Cup final. I have expressed my views publicy that it was a leadership failure on the field. It was clear to me that the All Blacks were not used to being in a losing position, and no strong leader stepped forward in this sudden-death crisis situation. There was no Ernest Shackleton to lead and rescue the team. In the article posted below, Spiro Zavos calls for the resignation of Graham Henry to resign and for Robbie Deans (pictured above) to replace him. This is sound logic and at this point I rest my case and close on the debate for the 2007 RWC.

Caravan must move on - so must Henry
By SPIRO ZAVOS - The Dominion Post | Friday, 26 October 2007

When Alan Jones coached the Wallabies and his team was beaten he would say: "The dogs are barking but the caravan moves on." It's a useful mantra for New Zealand rugby.

First, the barking. I supported Graham Henry from the time of his appointment as All Blacks coach. So these thoughts about the 2007 RWC failure are hindsight reflections.

It is clear the reconditioning programme failed. The All Blacks were not noticeably bigger or faster than their opponents in the World Cup. Players were injured, like Jerry Collins, who rarely get injured.

I was told by someone who knew what he was saying that players complained of being tired after their reconditioning. Also, by taking them out of the Super 14 for six matches, Henry ensured that they played too few matches in 2007. Senior players were lucky if they played 12 matches this year. They were underdone for the quarterfinal against France.

The rotation policy was fine, up to the end of 2006. Henry promised it would not be put in place in 2007. But even in the tournament it was maintained. Henry should have played his main side three times in the pool rounds, as the Springboks did. J P Pietersen played every minute of the tournament. Most of the Springboks played all their matches.

This is all hindsight, of course. While journalists are expected to be prophets of the past, coaches are paid to get it right. Graham Henry did not. Jake White, probably an inferior coach, did.

Enough of the barking. Now for the caravan moving on.

Those of us who endured the last two weeks in Paris without a New Zealand or Australian side to support cannot understand the polls that show Kiwis want Henry to continue. Those grumpy All Blacks fans stranded in Paris, if my chats to them are any indication, would vote to move Henry on, say to a director of coaching job for the NZRU.

It is so obvious that the next All Blacks coach should be Robbie Deans that John O'Neill, the perceptive boss of the ARU, has been trying to get in first and snatch him away from New Zealand rugby. Players who excelled under Deans have played poorly this year for the All Blacks. Daniel Carter is a case in point. Deans has created a winning style of play. He has the knack of getting his teams up for must-win games as the Crusaders' success shows.

The best-qualified New Zealand coach, in terms of success in his coaching career, should be All Blacks coach. That was Graham Henry in 2004. It is Robbie Deans in 2008.

Arcade Fire

Hopefully, if the world does not conspire against me, I will be euphorically going to see Arcade Fire next week.

I do have a presentation to give the next day on Karl Marx's concept of alienation. It'll be fine, I'm sure. If not I'll break out into song, possibly Rebellion (Lies), during the presentation and not stop until I end up in a padded room. But, to be honest, with the gift of the gab (unversially accepted fact) I could probably blag it anyway, I'd just be very nervous inside.

So warm the ears - and believe me, this little cover will - and share this with me, won't you?

Arcade Fire - Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeah's cover version) [via YouSendIt for 7 days]

Wonderful climax.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Editors gig..

The first picture from last Thursday night's (18/10/07) Editors' gig at the Carling Academy in Newcastle.

Editors have always had a certain appeal to me. Even seeing them when Ten Feet Tall hosted them at Empire, waaaaaay back when. All said though, it was a pretty rubbish gig then, about 20 people in the crowd, Editors were late coming on stage, obviously not happy, played a short 20 minute set and left. As disappointing as it had been I enjoyed the time they were on stage. So having seemed to miss every tour or festival appearence they had made for about the past two and a half years I was looking forward to last Thursday.

The Back Room for me deserved all the praise it received in 2005. It fitted perfectly with my temperment to become the soundtrack to my mental breakdown of the time. As apprehensive as I was about An End Has A Start this year, and with my initial reaction to it being "Tom's vocals sound like Danny McNamara!!", I grew to love what is obviously a very different album from their debut, with feelings that the progression fans would have liked to hear from them not happening and a slightly more mainstream sound being adopted.

Having not been to the Carling Academy since Doves in 2005 I was pleasantly suprised by the venues capacity to home a lot of people comfortably. We walked in to see the end of the Ra Ra Riot, who didn't really find their flow til their last song, bit too late.

Queue Editors:

Shockingly energetic. Pounding through their recognisable tracks from the latest album. Crowd never missing a word. Yet, something not quite right. Slight dischord here, accidental changes in tempo there, mismatching of sync of band members.

"Maybe they are drunk" suggests Paul.
"I don't think so, you know when you are watching a drunk band. The Aliens?" I reply.
"Yea. You're right."

Thrashing out some of the highlights of The Back Room and utterly enthrawling the crowd, if somewhat haphazardly in places. Let's get this straight though. In the main, they were great, fantastic, a lot better than I had ever anticipated. But the musicianship and communication of the band members let them down somewhat.

This makes it especially hard to pass comment on all the new material they featured. One in particular had an incredibly atonal first chorus, and not in a cool-Cut-Copy-atonal kind of way, just atonal and wrong. But if I'm honest I really did like the sound of the new stuff. Sorry I can't name titles of songs, but, meh, I was at a gig.

The only other disappointment of the night? Missing The Kissaway Trail. Definately worth a look.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mountain Roadman

Here is a poem from my book on Afghanistan about a mountain roadman. I met this man at about 3,800 metres in the Hindu Kush mountain building a high mountain road with an old and worn shovel. It moved me greatly. Bob

Mountain Roadman

Flesh against wood and metal
His mettle against mountains of rock
Now broken in body and spirit
He who carved these roads aloft

His face was as worn as his shovel
Building roads in the Hindu Kush
And his ageing back bent double
From all the boulders he'd pushed

His reward but a sear of flour a day
Received humbly in callused hands
As he prays, "Allah O Akbar"
His reward can't be in this land

Anjouman, Badakhshan, June 1995

It is published in my book, Mountains of our Mind - Afghanistan, published by tara press, New Delhi. The book can be purchased through the website www.indiaresearchpress


Something far in the distance catches your eye, its dark, you can't see very much of anything and so your sense of hearing is all the more acute.

It sounds twitchingly odd, an under current of deep thunderous bass. You first feeling is one of nervousness. Unfamiliarity and being out of your comfort zone will do that to you. But as you realise that this is not the threatening, macbre beast you let dark fool to you it was, your shoulders drop and clenched fists unravel. It's wholly enjoyable this unfamiliar being.

Have you actually fooled yourself into a false state of consciousness?

No, you are experiencing Appleblim.

Open yourself to something new and try this beautiful, sombre, experimental, electronica dub.

Appleblim - Cheat I [via YouSendIt for 7 days]

If you enjoy, tell the man yourself and buy some vinyl.

Bloc Party


The ability to articulate anything is failing. As if the single wasn't bad enough.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Trail of thought..

Walking to buy the Guardian and a yogurt. Mind swilling with the idiosyncrasies that appear to be never-ceasing. The ones which are so fundamentally embedded that one would question ones sanity for considering them strange. Making judgements and filling the blanks for possible reason and rhyme to conclude anything logical. Just as quickly realise that is not going to happen.

Left to its own tangled mess my mind somehow chewed a deluded conversation with itself about a track.

Late Of The Pier - Bathroom Gurgle [via YouSendIt for 7 days]

Not many artists achieve the sort of diverse, changeable, almost rhapsodic form that Late Of The Pier seem to have effortlessly blended into, a less than 5 minute, song.

So, the worryingly tussled discussion in my head went on, who else would possibly be as talented (and even surpass Late Of The Pier) at the art of rhapsody? And who would it be interesting to hear cover Bathroom Gurgle?

My mainstream mind fell to Muse, also aided along by the all-out prog-rock feel of the track in places. Too obvious was the answer to that and probably wouldn't produce anything more than a refined version of the song.

Sugababes? Too pop idyllic even for me.

Four Tet? Probably quite interesting.

No, just nothing sparking that feelin -- Wait! Perfection has arrived in the thought process. The epiphany that one can be happy with.

Joanna Newsom*. A true and great representation of strange and intentive ways of creatively playing with musical forms to get the best out of them. Joanna Newsom is truly astounding.

And, to be honest, in my slightly warped head all I have been playing out is my mental equivilent to Joanna Newsom covering, very brilliantly, Late Of The Pier.

*A fansite. Very nice one too.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

South Africa the best ?

I got up just before 2 a.m. Jakarta time to watch the match. In some respects, I wish I had of stayed in bed. No tries, and an old style kicking game. Not the type of match that will have children round the world asking Santa Claus fof rugby balls instead of the latest video game or Barbie doll.

I enjoyed the closing ceremony and the presentation the most.
There were long banners in South Africa's colours and scintillating fireworks. The Springboks lifted President Mbeki up onto their shoulders where he gleefully brandished the cup aloft. And then they went skipping about Stade de France, showing off the Webb Ellis Cup while South Africans cheered in Paris and many other cities and dorps about the world.

Throughout the length and breadth of South Africa shouts resounded that were part joy and part relief because, heavens, it was close. Car horns blared, toasts were drunk, cheering and laughter broke out, revelry was on the cards - it was the biggest national party since 26 June 1995.

Congratulations South Africa. You have the William Webb Ellis trophy for four years.

I thought Victor Mafield was the most outstanding player on the field and deserved man-of-match.

I wonder what thoughts ran through All Black coach Graham Henry's head as he watched the final early moning in New Zealand. I hope he learned that rugby is about doing the basics well and moulding a group of talented players into a team, a strong, cohesive unit. Henry to my mind put too much emphasis on the sizzle of the game, and not enough on the basic ingredients.

Ah, well I think I will watch Lewis Hamilton win the world Formula One title this eveing and give rugby a break for a while.

Lazy lovin'..

From tytoc collie to those wonderous duo who spur me on over the pond at Disco Nap.

As if it is not enough that they are championing pop, DJing for the lucky NY-er's, truly delicious on the eye and deftly writing quite brilliantly, no, as if this was not already enough they are bringing you lots of Simian Mobile Disco treats.

tytoc collie is very much in love with Disco Nap. The distance is the only pain tytoc collie feels in this twisted blog-loving.

Get over there and tell them how much you love them!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

From Krakatau to Mount Kelud

A view of the crater at Mount Kelud at the Kediri regency, East Java September 23, 2007. Mount Kelud volcano.
Yesterday I came back from having a look at the dormant Krakatau volcanoe in west Java to the news that Mount Kelud in East Java is threatening to erupt. The PMI, Indonesian Red Cross are assisting those who have evacuated and are on standby in the event of an eruption. Nervous moments of waiting.

Indonesia on top alert for volcanic eruption
17 Oct 2007 10:04:44 GMT
Source: Reuters

KEDIRI, Indonesia, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Fears of an imminent eruption prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents near Indonesia's Mount Kelud on Wednesday, but many flouted the order and stayed at their homes around the rumbling Javanese volcano.

The alert on the volcano, one of Indonesia's deadliest and located 90 km (55 miles) southwest of its second-largest city, Surabaya, was raised to maximum late on Tuesday, meaning it could erupt within 24 hours.

Authorities had ordered the evacuation of more than 100,000 people from a 10-km (6-mile) zone near the 1,731-metre (5,712-foot) volcano, a statement from the National Agency for Disaster Management said.

"The volcano is still on highest alert. I advise people to stay in the shelters and to be patient," Surono, head of Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, told Reuters. Another official said the number of volcanic quakes had dropped from up to 500 on Tuesday to 61 on Wednesday morning, but said that did not mean an eruption could be ruled out.

"In fact, it may erupt in two or three days after there are less quakes, because the volcano may be storing energy for a blow out," said Saut Simatupang, head of the vulcanological survey.

In Kampung Anyar, about 7 km from the crater and within a zone deemed by authorities as dangerous, many villagers were at home.

"It's not certain if Mount Kelud would ever go off. My parents and my siblings are at home at the moment. I'm going off to see some friends," said Marsudi, a resident in the village, who evacuated and then returned to his home.

"Whenever we're asked to evacuate, we will do so. But we came back simply because nothing happened."


In another timber plantation area closer to the crater, three workers dressed in sarongs planted teak seedlings.

"We are not afraid, because the signs weren't there," said Sumilah, adding that she believed signs of an eruption included loud noises made by grasshoppers, starless night skies, very hot weather and dark rain clouds.

Residents sheltering in the district of Kediri complained of inadequate supplies of food and water.

Many were also reluctant to leave behind possessions untended, particularly their animals.

An estimated 350,000 people live within 10 km of the volcano, growing coffee, sugar cane, pineapples and papayas on the rich volcanic soil or feeding their cattle on the slopes.

Sigit Rahardjo, a spokesman for the Kediri district government, said some people were likely to return to the shelters later in the day.

"Last night we managed to evacuate 28,000 people, but some have returned to their homes because they think it's not going off."

When Kelud last erupted in 1990, at least 30 people were killed and in 1919 about 5,000 died as it ejected scalding water from its crater lake.

Indonesia, which sits on a belt of intense seismic activity known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, has had a series of major volcanic eruptions over the centuries

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kylie Minogue

So if, as is so often posited, identity in the 21st century is simply made up by what we consume. Increasingly we'll ascribe aspects of ourselves to various products. Cultural symbols appear on an almost instantaneous and unavoidable level. We learn to decipher these tacitly and from this take the parts that mean the most to us, consume/purchase/love/download/wear/see whatever it may be. This is what makes us who we are in 2007.

If thats how you see it then I am Kylie. I love her. I admire her. I dance to her songs. I own her calendar. I watch her videos. I'll buy her album.

Does that make me Kylie?

Kylie Minogue's new single ' 2 Hearts' - Music Video

Add to My Profile More Videos

DAMN! No. It doesn't. So would appear.

Bloody rubbish abstract theories of consumption cultures. What is the point if you can't misconstrew them and believe you are Kylie Minogue?!

The video is nice to look at though.

Does It Offend You, Yeah?


And it also makes me bloody jealous.

Their short but exciting tour video.

I'm going to kick people when I get home for no reason other than I'm really pissed off that I missed this. I was at the time too. But this is salt in the wound.

Looks like they did a spectacular tour.

Does It Offend You, Yeah? MySpace page.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shy Child

Current attentions should be diverted to yet another essay. No surprise there then.

But I could not resist posting about the bloody brilliant gig I was lucky enough witness on Saturday.

I manically spent Friday pouring out word after word after word of rubbish, that was supposed to constitute an essay. It was to be handed in today. The rush to finish it on Friday? Shy Child at Middlesbrough Cornerhouse on Saturday. A truly exciting prospect.

After making my peace with the idea that I was the only person remotely interested, let alone excited - you cannot rely on the musical perception of others - enough time was spent drinking and I was suitably ready to dance off my essays.

But I was shocked and surprised. Shocked at the poor layout, feel and soundsystem of Cornerhouse. And, oh so, pleasantly surprised by the sheer calibre of Shy Child. Considering they were quite far from the actual crowd, had a column blocking their view of one another and are cool New Yorker's experiencing 'The Worst Place to Live in the UK', they held their own and certainly gave Ten Feet Tall a sexy, fun electro-crushing opening gig for their monthly Cornerhouse residency.

Here is my favourite song they did:

Afterwards, I must admit I was seen by all shaking my ample behind and throwing out some quite hideous dance moves in the room towards the back that was housing the ever-improving Kaboom. Face-paint, fights, lolli-pops, bracelets and much hogging of the dancefloor. Absolutely wicked selection in some parts.

So if you ever find yourself lost in the North East of England on a Saturday night head for Middlesbrough give it a go. You never know. You might just love it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Krakatau volcanoe

The loudspeakers on the Mosques in Jakarta have been announcing with verse, sermons, prayers and song all thoughout the night that Ramadhan is over and the Eid celebrations have started. Fireworks could be heard all night long.

In Indonesia we have a long holiday and I have decided to leave tomorrow to visit one of my life long ambitions, to visit Krakatau volcanoe. I read of this catastrophic erution which occured in 1883, as a child and finally I have the chance to visit it.

Krakatau volcano lies in the Sunda strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra. In about 416 A.D., caldera collapse destroyed the volcano and formed a 4-mile (7-km) wide caldera. The islands of Krakatau, Verlaten, and Lang are remnants of this volcano. The eruption and collapse of the caldera in 1883 produced one of the largest explosions on Earth in recorded time (VEI=6) and destroyed much of Krakatau island, leaving only a remnant. The official number of people killed in the 1883 eruption is somewhere around 36,000. Almost all of these folks were killed by tsunami that washed nearby shorelines. Krakatau had been obviously restless for long enough before the big eruption that there was nobody around when it occurred, however, the folks living on nearby islands and coastlines - many of which couldn't even see Krakatau - didn't evacuate and were killed.Since 1927, small eruptions have been frequent and have constructed a new island, Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows

It's here! In your ears!

A hiatus shall be had. I'm fairly sure posting about an album whilst only on the third track is silly.

It takes at least a few whirls through to really get comfortable with something.

But yes.

First thoughts all?

I'm dreading reading reviews. Bleurgh.

David E. Sugar

It is all about the 8-bit funk. And sometimes thats all you want. You wake up, bleary-eyed, dry mouth, body screaming for caffeine and mind totally focused on the aforementioned 8-bit funk.

So all behold, David E. Sugar. I even like the cockney using 'E.', more people should do it.

I am belatedly loving Oi Oi New York This Is London. Absolute masterpiece. Buy it here... NOW!!! Yea, it's proper mint. N'tha.

Definately fancy getting myself to the Capital to go for a bit of a gamboy night out and dance with this guy.

Check out these fancy moves.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Q Awards

And so it is that another ever-baffling, descending into complete madness Q Awards ceremony has apparently taken place.

To be honest the confusion that one goes through reading the winners its not surprising that those attending the event will probably take advantage of the free bar in a bid to intoxicate oneself enough to not even care what the fuck is actually going on.

Boasting 18 awards.. hang on.. 18? Eighteen? EIGHTEEN?!

A magazine that over the years and has lost its way. I think when looking at the sorts of awards they are now handing out that they should really consider shutting it down and putting the money and vacancies created into some sort of youth rehabilitation scheme, starting with, well, the cast of Skins who so aptly sum up our current rebellion to 'all that indie'.

Anyone else surprised it didn't turn into yet another list? Top 50 three-piece bands. Top 50 Swedish solo artists. Top 50 books about Joy Division. Top 50 songs with the words Q magazine is a lazy hacks dream in them. Fuck me.

Awards Included:

  • Q Icon - Paul McCartney
  • Q Idol - Kylie Minogue
  • Q Legend - Ian Brown
  • Q Hero - Anthony H. Wilson
  • Q Inspiration Award - Damon Albarn
  • Q Classic Songwriter - Billy Bragg
  • Q Lifetime Achievement - Johnny Marr
  • Q Merit Award - Ryan Adams

They'll regret creating all those in a few years.

  • Q Classic Album - The Verve - Urban Hymns
  • Q Classic Song - Stereophonics - Local Boy In The Photograph

Because obviously there is not enough fresh talent to reward. Or something.

  • Q Innovation in Sound - Sigur Ros

(Possibly well deserved, but also...) probably the most idiotic award ever.

A lot of people take pride in dilligently using their initiative, dynaism and intellect to make something exciting and engaging with comment, opinion and journalism with regards to music in the 21st Century.

Who is up for forming a revolution and storming the offices of Q and reclaiming coherent and stimulating music journalism?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Our Gods fell to earth

Joe Rokocoko's worst fears are realised at the World Cup.

I was stunned this morning. How did an invincible team like the All Blacks get beaten ? I have been crowing on my blog and to friends about how the All Blacks would win the rugby world cup this year.

Our Gods fell to earth in Cardiff. They are men after all.

The best rugby writer of all, David Kirk explains the hurt, the pain many of us are going through but asks us to spare a thought for the players and management.:

The All Blacks didn't play badly, but they didn't play well enough. For long periods of this test match they played better rugby than any other team in the competition is remotely possible of playing.

Their ball retention, their pace and audacity was often a joy. That they couldn't turn this into points and a comfortable victory was a testament to the sustained intensity of the French defence and their own inability to stop trying to create the perfect form of rugby and just win the match.

It is unbelievably frustrating to sit here in Cardiff and review this match.

If you look at the All Black scrum it was clearly superior to the French scrum. The lineout functioned well and the continuity play was excellent.

Kelleher played as well as I have seen him play. Carter in the first half was all class, making the right decisions, kicking well, firing out his flat passes, putting McAllister into the gap for his try.

Collins, McCaw and Soalio clearly outplayed their opposite numbers and while they had few real opportunities the outside backs did all that was asked of them.

No one played badly. If no one plays badly in a great All Black team they should win. But they didn't.

The glory of sport. The despair of not knowing what more you could have done.

It is not fair to quibble about selections after a match like this. Who knows what other players would have done in the same circumstances?

It is to my mind true to say however that the rotation policy has not worked the way the coaches and selectors would have liked.

For all the endless hours of training and honing of different combinations so they work on the field, some combinations simply work better than others. Some players simply gell in a way that means the pass sticks or the gap is found or the better decision is made.

With the margin of error so fine at World Cups it is the team management's responsibility to find those combinations and stick with them. I am old-fashioned I know, and really a long way from the intensity and nuances of professional rugby, but I think playing the best team regularly is important. It is possible to have too much talent.

France certainly played well.

The brought a simple game plan to Cardiff and a lot of heart.

They picked a fullback who could kick the ball back and a forward pack that would compete everywhere. They were particularly effective on their feet driving lineouts and mauls and in stifling the All Black midfield.

Perhaps most impressive of all was their lack of mistakes. They were under the hammer time and time again in the second half and they held their nerve. No penalties, no cheap points.

It is a shame that the match turned on refereeing decisions. Wayne Barne's decision to show McAllister a yellow card and his missing of the clear forward pass which led to France's final try determined the outcome of the match.

The players deserve better than to have refereeing decisions determine the outcome of matches.

But the All Blacks always knew they would be refereed more closely than other teams at the World Cup.

It comes from setting the pace. If you are doing things faster and better than other teams, referees will always be looking to see if there is some judgement they can make on this seemingly superior ability.

Did the All Blacks adapt effectively to the circumstances of the match? Could they have done more?

The answer is yes but there is no one area of the game, no easy, obvious lack of quality or technique to put our fingers on.

They could have kicked the ball out more often when the French returning was proving effective. They could have given themselves more targets to drive on in midfield, taking the French midfield backs out of play and leaving forwards to defend. They could have used more inside balls.

All perfectly clever in hindsight but all counting for nothing.

In my view this group of young men deserved better.

They did the work, they thought the thoughts. They were ready but when their hour came round at last it was not to be.

Many will not get a chance to play in a World Cup again. So if you think you are in pain, frustrated and sad, think about what this All Black team and management must be going through.

In the end their only failure was in their collective lack of capacity to kill a match stone dead when ahead.

No doubt this is a lot harder under modern laws than it used to be.

And for this All Black team we may well ask, is it a failure to want to stop playing? Is it a failure to want to embrace a style of rugby that is nerveless and an aspiration to play a game that is beyond what has gone before.

The answer is no for gods and yes for men.

Unfortunately in Cardiff our gods became men.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Is there anything more beautiful than this ?

When I was 12 years old, I used to travel to a remote part of my province, Otago, in Central Otago, at a place called Buccleuch, now obviously named after the Scottish Lairds Buccleuch. The latest Lord of Buccleuch had his heirloom stolen. Is there a more beautiful painting than this ?

A £30 million Leonardo da Vinci painting stolen from a castle four years ago is believed to have been recovered by detectives.

Although the painting has yet to be formally identified, officers from four crime enforcement agencies are confident that it is The Madonna With The Yarnwinder which was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill, in Dumfries and Galloway in 2003.

The painting belonged to the Duke of Buccleuch who died last month at the age of 83. He was devastated when thieves stole his 16th century masterpiece. Until now, attempts to recover it had failed despite a £1 million reward.

A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary described the inquiry as "fast moving" but declined to give any further details about the investigation. He confirmed that the other agencies involved included the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Strathclyde Police.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

SebastiAn leak..


Look at the work-in-progress that Missing Toof found.

SebastiAn - Untitled [download via zShare]

That is going to be yummy dropped in a set. Yes, fucking yummy, alright?

SebastiAn's MySpace.

Patrick Watson

I cannot stop listening to Close To Paradise. Its cathartic. Helps grieving. Or makes it worse. I've not decided which.

This, The Great Escape, is beautiful, as is the entirely mesmerising video.

I know someone who would have loved Patrick Watson.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Bloody Beetroots

In a last ditch attempt to save an academic career the concentration was broken. By The Bloody Beetroots. And believe me, there is much emphasis on the "BLOODY". Ahem.

It is really is there fault for producing such a wickedly tempting track in I Love The Bloody Beetroots.

The Bloody Beetroots - I Love The Bloody Beetroots [streaming via their MySpace]

Distortedly whirling through a set of very confident sounding, hard hitting, snogging-someone-in-the-corner-and-then-breaking-away-to-run-to-the-dancefloor type bleeps and basslines, this track is something to shout about.

I'd like to go into some rather generalised Italian stereotypes right now, but I don't think anyone would appreciate it, definately not The Bloody Beetroots, and I have a boycott Tesco type essay awaiting my attention.

My favourite village in the Himalaya

Top photo: Rikhy Ram right, me on the left.

Lower photo: Sidhbari, HImachal Pradesh looking at the Dhaula Dhar mountains

Over the years I have visited Sidhbari at least six times and I am planning to go back in January next year. Here I describe my first visit in July 2003,

I got back Tuesday night from Sidhbari in Himachal Pradesh where one of my friends, Anuj Bahri, (bookseller and publisher) has a house overlooking the Dhaula Dhar mountains, Norbulinka Tibetan Institute, Gyuto Monastery and only 30 minutes from Dharamsala and 50 minutes from McLeod Ganj. A very famous Hindu temple is nearby on a river bank and not far away is the Chinmaya Mission Trust where Swami Chinmayananda, a very enlightened Swami, lived until his death.

Anuj's house also overlooks a spread-eagled slate-roofed village surrounded by beautifully sculptured rice fields on sickle-shaped terraces. Women in bright coloured clothing often or not yellow and red, work in the fields.
It was fun to travel and live with Anuj for a few days in an Indian village where you have the 'real local village people' living side by side with 'the pretenders' - artists, writers and other interesting people who have left big city life behind to come to the tranquillity of this green, fertile mountain region to write, paint and find the 'truth,' or to get screwed up in thought and mind by not finding it.

But like every house in India, you need a Bamri: cook, watchman and bottle washer, who brings a character of Baldrick proportions into the household. A Sad Sack figure with sallow cheeks and missing teeth, looking as if he is in the advanced stages of TB. However Anuj assures me he is not ill, but has made a skeleton of himself through his regular encounters with local village women who cheat him of his hard-earned money, with the promise of marriage. His first wife deserted him and the proposed second, ran away with his money. Now he is on the prowl for a third.

Bamri; bumbling, clumsy and likeable, brought a sense of humour that only a hill village man can do.

The day after I arrived I met Rikhy Ram who worked 26 years in the Indian army intelligence service as a photographer on border patrols and spent most of his time in the mountain region of Bhutan, Sikkim, North Eastern Indian border areas and these local mountains.

On 8 and 9 March 1959 Rikhy was in Tawang Gompa when the 14th Dalai Lama crossed from Tibet into Arunchal Pradesh via Bhimla. He was part of the group that ensured the team crossed safely. I later found out that the 6th Dalai Lama was born in Tawang Gompa which is now inside India and not far from the border of Bhutan.

He later spent 3 years on the Tibetan border between 1973 and 75. He climbed 3 peaks in Bhutan, Chomolasari, 23,997 feet, not far from Phari Dzong, which is across the border in Tibet, He also did the first ascent of two other smaller peaks, Kungphu 22,300 ft, Chachiphula 20,702 ft(formerly called Yala) and Wagyala (20, 163 ft).

It seems his work was intelligence of a sort, or as I would say in my parlance the 'modern great gamer'; checking the borders between the Tibet/China and Bhutan and India, getting good photographic information. In later life he worked in Himachal Pradesh in the Pir Panjal and Dhuala Dhar, mapping mountains on foot and through aerial surveys. Interestingly enough, he was in the Congo from 61 to 63 and was a member of the search and rescue mission which helped bring the body of Dag Hammarskjöld, the then Secretary of the UN, from Angola back to Leopoldville. He also spent four month in New York and I am sure he wasn't working for McDonald's although Kohli in his book 'Spies in the Himalayas' would believe this suggestion.

Anuj and I had lunch with Rikhy in his home where he lovingly brought out old and worn maps of all the areas he had worked in and the maps were neatly, and lovingly, made into a book, and all carefully arranged and numbered. The maps on Bhutan were particularly interesting with all the places he stayed and visited, the peaks he climbed and the routes he took, all neatly marked in red dotted lines.

As he unfolded the maps, he unfolded his past locked in his heart and mind for years. Sharing journey's with a fellow mountain wayfarer over a map doesn't need a common verbal language because maps and markings tell a story visually. Remnants of curries and dahl had in mountain camps were evident by the stains on the map which only added to the inuendo behind the intrigue. I am sure no one will ever know precisely what Riky did. Maybe he didn't know exactly the nature of his missions, planned in Lurgan Sahib's house in Shimla.

Not far from Anuj's house lives Khosa and his wife Lakshmi, a famous Indian artist, A Kashmiri pandit, whose painting represent the journey and transition from this life to the metaphysical and he gets a lot of his inspiration from the Upanishards,(sp) early Hindu literature and Rumi the famous Islamic Sufi poet. Anuj's immediate neighbour is a Gorkha, Onkar, whose grandparents moved from Nepal to Himachal Pradesh. On the first night we arrived an impromptu party started as Onkar arrived, then Khosa. At first Onkar turned up at his nose at the wine I had brought, saying "that's a woman's drink, we drink whiskey or rum here."

But as the night wore on, there were lots of empty bottles of the "women's drink" I had brought from my local wine shop in Delhi as Khosa drifted into a spirit-inspired trance where in front of our eyes, he made a transition journey to the metavinacal, a journey even Bachhus would have envied. In his trance, we couldn't communicate with him and Anuj had to escort him home to ensure night-flying Nun's from the nearby Tibetan Monastery, didn't capture his Hindu spirit.

We spent one day going to Dharamsala and onto McLeod Ganj where the Dalai Lama lives. Dharamsala is a typical dirty hill town but once you leave the town, and climb up towards McLeod Ganj, the landscape becomes quite spectacular when looking down to the lowland rice fields shrouded in morning mists, and then upwards, nestled on a tree-clad ridge at over 7,000 feet, is McLeod Ganj, the residence of the 14 th Dali Lama. We spent time at the Tsuglagkhung complex where the Dalai lama lives, visited the temple, watched the monks in their daily debating contests and generally imbibed the ambiance. For a head of state, a people who are exiled in a foreign country, the Tibetan's have established a powerful cultural and economic presence in this area.

However, I made the mistake of visiting the Norbulinka Monastery the day before which is a superb piece of Tibetan architecture, with a Japanese Buddhist influence which gives an air of tranquillity stemming from a combination of elements, the gardens and its trees, waterfalls, streams and the sky and recent rain puddles, and, at the end of a shady walk, is a wonderful temple with a huge golden Buddha. A photo of the Dalai Lama is placed over a covered pulpit from where he delivers sermons when he visits. The elevated situation of McLeod Ganj was impressive, but I found little of inspiration. Norbulinka radiated more of the aura I had expected.

Other interesting places close to Anuj's house in Sidhbari is a place called YOL, which stands for 'Your Own Lines' and was the place where Italian prisoners of war were transported to during the second world war. You can still see they houses build out of stone. Another special place not far from McLeod Ganj is a small English-built church called ' St John of the Wilderness.' It was built in 1853 and many famous soldiers, explorers and surveyors are buried here. James Bruce, Earl of and Elgin and Kilcardine K.T.G.C.B.G.M.S.I. VICEROY AND GOVERNOR GENERAL OF INDIA was buried here and a memorial erected by his wife.
A number of other young British soldiers in once bloody, now romantic battles of a past long gone, have either commemoration tablets of graves. One that I recall was Lieutenant R.D.Angelo 'who died at Wano, Wazirstan 30 November 1894 of wounds he received in action against the Mahsuds.' (I am sure many of their descendants are still rabble-rousers)

It took me back to the lines from Kipling

'A scrimmage in a border station -
A canter down some dark defile -
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail -
The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,' Shot like a rabbit in a ride !

As I work in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, I am fascinated by the mountain river systems. With partition, these mighty rivers had international boundaries pushed on them. Punjab - the land of five rivers were originally referred to as the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas, but with partition, the Beas flows only in India, so to keep the name Punjab correct, Pakistan added a fifth river to replace the Beas, the Indus. I have crossed the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and the Ravi, so it was a thrill to travel for more than an hour alongside one of the main tributaries to the Beas River, and to cross it twice to and from my trip to Sidhbari.

This is definitely my favourite spot in the whole Himalaya.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Filthy Dukes

Lick your lips in anticipation and take a deep breath.

This is arousing.

Filthy Dukes - This Rhythm [streaming via their MySpace]

I have been intoxicated by Filthy Dukes since I saw them a million years ago when I was young and vivacious and danced like a twat in Middlesbrough Empire. I think The Rakes were on that night too.

Anyway, I can't believe I've not mentioned them sooner. They are pretty fantastic. Their DJ sets are to die for and their boundless enthusiasm keeps them remarkably fresh. So for a track to come from them, well, its bloody exciting! If you get chance to see them DJ do it. Wiggling hips galore!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Finnish Ferries

A few years ago I visited Helsinki in summer. I used to walk every evening by the waterfront and see ferries leaving for Stockholm, Tallin, in Estonia, and Travemünde and Lübeck in Germany. It was very pictureque and romatic.
It inspired me to write a poem

Finnish Ferries

Ungainly ferries plying to Poland Estonia and Sweden
As history drips from the Laps of the Finns
Music, feet and soldiers shaped your nation
The winter war, Sibelius and Nurmi’s wins

Was it Meto’s stoic medal and feats
Who etched your courage on skis
Blood and bursting lungs surged while others
Flew from the jumps through trees

You gave women the vote a century ago
Now their strength and leadership shapes
You country’s new wealth and power
What a difference diverity and respect makes/

Helsinki 12 June 2004

The new Radiohead album..


The countdown begins.

10th October.

Download through their website. You choose the price you pay.

Optional boxset thing that looks divine. That is more expensive. So that might be a begged Christmas present.

What is a fair price to pay for the download only? I'm poor but I'd feel like I was cheating a deity if I didn't expend a decent amount. Suggestions? What will you pay? We can all come to some sort of consensus on this it help the collective conscience.

Dead Air Space.