ramblings about music and life

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

come up and see me make me smile

At the risk of turning this into a diary I've suddenly got the urge to type something so apologies if this turns out boring .... It's been a bank holiday weekend over here in England so I've just been lazing about doing not a lot really. Friday night was spent trying to get Geoff's computer up and running, finally gave up at 12:15, I'm hoping he's persevered so that he can have a recording studio at home and hopefully be able to work on some kosmonaut songs on his own so that we might finally get around to recording our l.p. for firestation tower records.

Saturday night I got a little drunk on alco-pops and cider at my sister-in-laws, woke up with a bad head for the first time in ages.

Watched far too much big brother.

Went shopping in Newcastle today, bought a mobile phone, just for emergencies ,the one that can u dig it is used on the advert for. I also bought some records.... the cream of cockney rebel whose See me smile(come up and see me) would be in my top 100 list , infact I'll start my list today, so in no particular order....

100. Cockney Rebel See me smile (come up and see me)

I'll add to list as and when they come to me. It was only £3.99 in the HMV sale . I also bought suede dog man star for £4.99 , I'm sure I'll have a suede song in my top 100, just not quite sure which at the moment, the wild ones is todays favourite. My last purchase was a recommendation the postal service give up, all synth pop, happy tunes but sad lyrics, I haven't listened to it yet, saving it until tomorrow when I get in from work.

Went for a bike ride tonight only did a few miles but haven't been out since last Wednesday so was a bit red in the face when I got back, if it's not raining in the morning I'll be off to work on it aswell, I'm currently on a get fit kick, not sure how long it's going to last though.

I've got a couple of music reviews to fine tune and then I'll post them up , one is for the folk beat combo the liberty ship's 6 track on sunday and the other is for a C90 cassette of synth pop classics from the big scientists.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

we were happier than either of us knew

Since I 'retired' from writing my fanzine every now and again a gem of a song would come to my attention and I'd think I would definately have to write some words about it so maybe some other people would fall in love with it too, well this is one of them.....I know this record has been out for some time now but maybe there are still some folks in the world who have yet to have the pleasure of falling hook, line and sinker for the lucksmiths ""requiem for the punters club" on matinée. If your one of those poor unfortunate souls please think of this as a gentle push and shove in the direction of a love at first sight. I had heard some of the bands earlier released stuff on matinée and if anyone was to tie me up and force me to pick one I would have to admit that the lucksmiths were probably my favourite band on the label. The songs I had already heard brought images of singing on porches under dusty australian sunsets into my mind the same way songs by the Sugargliders used to, I guess it's the sound of those gorgeous acoustic guitars and the way they sound so laidback , even on the faster songs. Well "requiem for the punters club" is like that too, starting kinda slowly with a tune that I actually remember wanting to sing the very first time I heard it even though I didn't have a clue what to sing. Sometimes I wish I could play harmonica especially something as sad and yearning as the harmonica solo in the middle of this . For me though the greatest part of the song is saved for the end where everyone joins in for a one of those inpirational singalongs, you know the type I mean? Like at the end of arab strap's "hey!fever" , another song I would have written about if I'd still be a fanzine writer at the time it came out, that drum machine beat, scottish hip-hip vocals,hammond organ and finally that everyone join in at the end finale...."went out for the weekend , it lasted forever, got high with my firends ..it's officially summer".

Monday, May 19, 2003

firecracker in the night

My favourite band of this last week has got to be the simple carnival . I was first alerted to them by Mark a regular on the indie pages forum ,which is quite surpsing in itself because he usually only listens to bands who are from New Zealand. Anyway they are a melodic pop music studio project created by a guy named Jeff Boller who must be the long lost son of Brian Wilson if the MP3's on the bands web site are anything to go by. "North Star" is full of those multi-tracked harmonies that are found on all those Beach Boy classics, it's a song to make you smile, starting off with some nice acoustic guitar and vocals, then we've got that tight bouncy bass sound as found on Good Vibrations , with splashes of words about firecrackers and raindrops, then we are fooled into thinking that the song must be ending with a fade-out and to be perfectly honest the song is already a favourite if it were to finish there and then but we are treated to some eerie backward(?) sounds that fade-in and we find ourselves back in California circa 1966 and I should apologise before I say this ....because I know it's probably the most obvious thing to say... but this song could quite easily slide onto the end of Pet Sounds.... it might also fit onto The Zombies "Odessey and Oracle" without a murmur from anyone. Handclaps, BaBaBa-Baaas, Rainfall Fx what more could you want? Check out the bands web site for more info and about five MP3's that you should download asap. No records released so far , and I'm really not sure why when the quality is this good?

Saturday, May 17, 2003

I have been meaning to start writing a fanzine for ages but never seem to get the time to sort it out so I thought that this might be a nice easy way to do it. So here goes...................

It was a very long time ago when I sat down at my brand new electric typewriter and wrote my last fanzine , it was a mini zine called Fresh Air I only had a 100 printed, it was my best seller,they all sold out! Thatcher resigned the week that I wrote it, I was overjoyed. It seems strange that back then I never thought I would ever see a Labour Prime Minister, stranger still that I hate the one we've got easily as much as Thatcher. Fresh Air #1 was the only thing I ever wrote on that typewriter, now it's collecting dust in the loft with lots of other stuff that meant a lot to me back then. I just seemed to lose that urge to write about music , I partly blame making music for that, yes it is really enjoyable but in a way it has also spoilt my listening pleasure to a certain extent aswell. Any other music makers out there feel the same? Now that I've been in recording studios and I know how songs are pieced together ,I listen far to intently to a song. Listening for bass drum sounds and what kind of effect is on the guitars, instead of just listening to the song. Sometimes though a song is just too overwhelming and I hear the song and nothing else..... then I take it to bits later! Anyway hopefully this site will be about those songs that I hear as songs first and construction sites second.

So what have I been up to since that first issue so long ago I don't hear anyone ask but I'll tell you anyway.... I've aged quite a bit (nearly 36) gone a bit bald, been happy, been sad and been whatever you call it in between. Mostly though I've just been muddling along doing nothing of any great importance, does anyone feel any better than this when they are 35 ? Never quite achieving what they wanted to when they were younger?

"I wish I was young again when I knew everything" (© kevin pearce )

I once thought that I did know everything but as I've got older I've realized I didn't have a clue and people must have thought of me as a right tit , having said that I'm not much better now. Back then I thought I was doing something important when I joined CND or went on an anti poll tax march ,wow , not exactly changing the world kind of stuff , but I thought it might help. Now though I seem to be increasingly becoming the sort of person I used to hate, rushing to work so I'm never late. Not doing stuff I know I really should like going on anti-war marches. Apart from going to work, (I'm a painter and decorator, I'm not knocking it, I just didn't think when I was 16 I would still be doing it 19 years later.) I don't really do anything just sit and either listen to music or sit in my spare room trying to make it. I'm not having a great deal of success at it though , well I'm running out of addresses of labels to send it to. I really should take the hint, I sometimes do , I think what's the point of taking bloody ages over a song that no-one is ever going to hear let alone get the chance to like. I decide enough is enough and leave it all alone for at least half a day, but then something lures me back to it, I try and convince myself that I'm not making music for anyone else it's just for me and if anyone else like it well thats a bonus. What a load of bollocks, I want other people to hear it and like it maybe I need to know that... yes I am good at something... and it's something I like doing. Maybe I'm just not very good at it. If you'd like to make your own mind up about that you can have a listen to some of my music here...at the northern_electrix web site.

"I thought I would have been famous by now"

I did , I really really did, it's not just me that is a little pissed off about it though, my younger sister isn't too happy , when she was about 12 I said to her that she'd be alright , she wouldn't need to get a job she could run my fan club instead, needless to say we haven't had a need to set one up! I suppose there is still plenty of time though, I guess what it comes down to is that all I really want is to get out of painting but I want it to be so easy and pain less. I did think that when I bought my first computer back in 1995 , that this was going to be my big break away , I'd teach myself how to use it and get a job in computing , didn't matter what it was, data entry work would be a million times better than painting council properties out in the middle of winter when your so cold that you can't even clench your fingers round the paint brush properly. (If anyone has read "the ragged trousered philanthropists" byrobert tressell? Let me just say the working conditions haven't changed too drastically from that!) Sorry back to my future in computers ... well so far I have tried my hand at web site design, it wasn't a success! I tried my hand at a little computer art , designing splash screens for software, I even got some accepted and used. My favourite and the most time consuming one alas didn't get used , but I was given a free copy of the software which almost made up for it. My last mad idea came about when I tore my cartilage at work and was laid up for a few weeks, to while away the hours I decided to have a go at creating my own sample CD for the Yamaha A series samplers. Anyway I have sampled my synths and created what I think are some amazing sounds and loops , the CD is finished and called "Synthetic Treasures" it got a mention in Future Music so far I have sold zero copies! Another roaring success!

"fahn, fahn, fahn"

A few years ago a friend asked me if I liked kraftwerk and without really thinking about it I said "yes , I like them a lot" when infact I hadn't really heard a great deal by them, I'd bought "the model/computer love" on 7" when it was number 1 in about 1980 and somewhat strangely I liked the way they seemed more like robots that humans, but I'd never really paid the attention attention they deserved at the time. Then Amazon came along and I found out how easy it was to buy up their back catalogue , so that's what I did, well almost , a couple of the early ones are out of print at the moment, so my kraftwerk collection starts with "Autobahn". The title track just goes on on and on but I still don't want it to ever stop, it shifts all over the place, a vocoder has never sounded so sweet , apart from all those toffee apple and candy floss melodies , played on all sorts of instruments not only synths, the flute is my favourite, is that guitar on there too? At the risk of seeming like I'm bypassing everything else in between I have to say that I thought that "Expo 2000" is as good as anything from the past it's kraftwerk, nothing more nothing less.

Another band with a kraftwerk connection is yamo, it is the band/project started by ex-kraftwerk person Wolfgang Flur. I first heard about about them when Future Music ran a re-mix competition with their song "Mosquito" ( I did a re-mix myself but never sent it in). I've got what I think is the bands first CD "Time Pie" which sounds at times like kraftwerk but with a lot more added to the canvas, the songs aren't cluttered but they seem to have a lot more going on in them, favourites are the title track, "mosquito" which is easily as good as the northern_electrix re-mix! . "Stereomatic" which drifts through the air like angel dust. Best for me though is "Guiding Ray" an electro marychain/velvets kind of song. Wolfgang had never wrote any songs while in Kraftwerk but as soon as he left it would seem that they have just started flowing out of him quite naturally.

I've also just finished reading Wolfgang Flur's brilliant book "I was a robot" , which is a must read for any music fan . The book is written with such honesty, you will never think of Krafwerk the same way again. There are quite a few laughs in the book, especially the time Wolfgang explains what he was doing when he first heard "My Generation" by the Who, but it also has sad undertones which may leave you feeling dissapointed with the remaining members of krafwerk.

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