Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Diary of a man at war with himself + Sacha Mambo mix.

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Seeing as we've been off-line for a while now, we thought it was the least we could do to explain our absence here are some excerpts from our daily journal that should clear up any questions you have,,,,

Hoorah! A new week has arrived. I awake at 5 a.m. to find that a flock of seven white doves of peace has flown in through the bedroom window and begun flying around the room in a kind of 'flight of harmony', casting a Disney-like sense of well-being about. Finally they roost on my bust of Caligula and in the dim 1/8th light I'm sure I saw one of them wink at me, in a sort of 'wink of peace'. I take this to be a sign of good fortune in the forthcoming year and fall back asleep.
I re-awake at 8 a.m. to find that the doves have flown off with my bust of Caligula. Obviously they have carried it off to their mountain eeire; a foreboding sense of dread now hangs over the home.

I rise and decide to design a new type of hat. The place of work I choose this morning is under the sink unit in my kitchen, a safe place if any. My designs are at first sketchy, looking more like a fat young man than hat, but by 6 p.m. my design is complete and ready to be sent to Pappa & Co. for approval. I hope they like it. I think it would suit a more formal gentleman like a king or Harrison Ford.

At 8 a.m. the sleepy antique-shop-filled seaside village of Newbiggin is woken by the kazoos and snare drums of Britain's criminals as they march down the main street beating out the melody of felony. What a sight this is, with the petty thieves and shoplifters bringing up the rear, through to the arsonists and fraudsters filling the mid-ranks, right up to the leading gangsters heading this march of villainy.
Amongst the crooks I spot Freddie 'Fingers' Ferris, so called because he regularly fingers not only the various foods in our local delicatessen but the serving ladies as well, and when accused of his behaviour he blasts his way out of the shop using a 75 mm Howitzer. Also present are some of Scotlands most famous baddies like '2 Biscuits' McDouglas, the Grocer of Kilmarnock, and 'Westy' Hancock, who once farted in front of the Duke of Westminster.
As the underworld parade vanishes into a hotel for their annual villains' breakfast of fried eggs, I too vanish back home for my breakfast of boiled eggs.
I spend the rest of the day looking at my feet.

I have had some thoughts on the possibilities of opening new enterprises in the district, for example (i.e)

A) A combination asylum and pot-purri centre where the inmates create bags of pot-pourri to allow your cabinets to smell sweetly, it shall be called 'Scenti Mental'.

B) A series of old peoples homes:
1) Yesterday's People
2) Forgotten Faces
3) Time's Up
4) Conclusions.
A feature within the homes would be a dating agency for old people called 'Expiry Dates.

C) Health Farms:
1) Bye Bye Bulk
2) Fit And Farty

I have sent off a number of ideas to the government in a bid to aid world peace. These products are presented in advertisement form to aid the politicians to understand them and realise their true potential for global and universal harmony.

I awake to find thousand upon thousand of tiny hairlike baby snakes on my head, but on closer investigation find that it's merely my own rapidly depleting hair, which disappoints me tremendously, although the thought of charming the baby snakes into exciting new hairstyles with a flute thrills me 'nuff! Never mind, I have recently discovered a new snake in my trousers which seems to react to kindness and, equally, threats!

I realized mid-morning that my bones had emerged through my finger tips. The doctor tells me this is quite normal and I should in future refer to them as 'fingernails'.

At dawn I ring the police and tell them that I have shot the rebellious Nashville singer Waylon Jennings and his undisturbed corpse is lying cold and motionless beneath the pear tree with robins circling overhead.
Twelve hours later the police strolled up to my door and asked to see the body. I led them through the house and down the garden past the ornament to the pear tree. JESUS CHRIST OF BETHLEHEM!! The carcass had gone. I explained that the robins must have devoured him and suggested they keep their eye's open for a flock of robins with more red on their chests than usual.
They left silently and I cooked some of my secret recipe Wild West Pork.

Flies swarm round the pork in my attic, so I get rid of it. all 160 lbs of it, in a ditch near B & Q.

Now then, I'll be as honest as I can be (not very) and admit that I know very little about Sacha Mambo, the man behind this weeks featured mix. In fact I actually poached from the always brilliant Noise In My Head website after having spending much of last week hunting about for more of his work.
You may recognise his name from the excellent Ivan Smagghe mix we recently posted where Mambo shares warm-up/cool-down duties with Zlatan at Le Sucre in Lyon. We've got a few other bits from these cats to drip feed over the coming weeks so we'll keep it mercifully brief here today and let the music do the talking.
Dig in. Its TRES bon!!

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Shan Sportswear and Shoegaze: A guide.

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A History Of Ugly Sportswear.

At the end of the 80s Troop sportswear appeared on the backs and feet of the second generation of first American then British hip-hop artists in a 'Patrick Bateman-like' statement of wealth that went hand in hand with huge gold chains and cars with dead massive exhaust pipes. The XR3i of sportswear, Troop trainers were covered in all sorts of unnecessary accruements, eg, a see-through plastic bit in the sole, a stupid logo on the heel, and of course, a tongue so huge it could sleep a family of four in relative comfort.

British Knights:
A favorite with the early rave crowd, British Knights begged one question: What was a British Knight? Was it some ancient order of Arthurian warriors bent on defending the glory of Albion? Was it a secret Masonic organization? Or was it just a shite American sportswear company who made boots so obviously rubbish, that only people who'd spent the 80s wearing Gallini and Bukta on the mean streets of Blyth or Darlington would ever consider them remotely stylish! Hmmmm.

Admiral are the Mary Celeste of sportswear, disappearing for years on end (thankfully) before re-emerging from the ether with another batch of shit, unwearable gear, usually made of shiny fucking polyester. Their most memorable reincarnation took place in the mid 90s when the tache-sporting 'Happy Mondays' were brought in by their advertising company in order to convince us that Admiral were in fact 'old skool', as opposed to the makers of the worst England Football kit of all time.

Prada Sport Trainers:
There is a wise maxim that goes:

"Thou shalt not, under any circumstances wear sports shoes made by anyone other than a sportswear manufacturer."

Prada Sport proves this. The makers of this shoe got one thing wrong about the product: a trainer must be designed - at least on the surface - for some sort of sporting activity, even if we all know they're only going to be used for hanging around outside an off license.

Prada trainers contravene all trainer law. They are not for anything, except drinking in identikit central Newcastle bars talking about sepia-coloured fashion spreads in shite Sunday newspapers. The fact that they look like a pair of geriatric slippers that Buck Rogers would wear when he got old only rubber-stamps their god-awfulness.

LA Gear:
LA Gear trainers were bought by people who thought that 'authentic' street wear had to have some sort of link to America. The fact that their LA Gear shoes had suspiciously thin soles, sparkly laces and a range of colours thought up by Zippy off Rainbow didn't seem to put off the large numbers of clueless posh tossers and teenagers who bought these monstrosities in order to get 'hip to the beat'.

Rugby League Tops:
Up until 1990 rugby league manufacturers churned out the same kit designs year after year - simple, unfussy, middle-class garments that while not exactly threatening 'Chanel' or 'Armani,' had a simplicity that reflected the tiresome nature of this incomprehensible game. However, with the advent of the Murdoch money and the Super League, the teams decided to inject some much needed glamour into their sport by adding ludicrous American-style suffixes to their names. Suddenly Wigan became the Warriors, Newcastle, the Falcons and Huddersfield, yes, that Huddersfield, the Giants! Shirts-wise, out went the simple lines of old and in came crazy splashes of colour, three-quarter length sleeves and big sponsors' logos. Luckily, the fans kept a link with the past by continuing to wear half-mast Lee Cooper jeans and Hi-Tec Silver Shadow trainers.

Travel Fox:
Kylie Minogue wore them, Shaun Ryder wore them, even Tony 'I used to present the weather on Granda Reports' Wilson had a pair. Yes, they were Travel Fox, the glamour training shoe that said, "I am a pop star and I live in a hermetically sealed bubble of bad taste and too much money, please feel free to laugh at me openly in the street!" Most things the Italians design are low key tasteful affairs, yet Travel Fox, however, unfortunately appealed to the other side of Europe's most stylish nation - the part that likes ugly fuck-off gold jewelry, Buffalo platform shoes, sleeveless t-shirts and trance music.

If 'Ultravox' were around today they'd wear Acupuncture trainers. Think about it: Acupuncture shoes have space age bendy rubber soles, a preoccupation with the colour grey and a clumsy 'A' logo that sits atop the ridiculous Velcro fastening they use. Appealing mainly to post-university Jesmond types who take their fashion cues from magazines full of pictures of skinny models wearing sriped tank tops. Acupuncture are for people who decide to re-invent themselves as tag writing 'graf' artists after spending their first 18 years 'fagging' for prefects at public school.

Here endeth the lesson.

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OK. Now some things that are truely close to my heart. Namely blisteringly loud guitars. Dreamy gossamer, half heard songs of love. Distortion. Lots of distortion. And reverb. And phase. And flange. And delay. Basically, anything involving effects —by effects pedals, guitar re-wiring, amplifier manipulation, or studio experimentation— so all consuming that individual instruments blend into giant, glowing clouds of thick, foggy tonality. Like alt-rock smothered in fog, or ambiance rife with tension.

The term 'Shoegaze' was said to have been first coined by Andy Ross who ran 'Food Records' in the late 80's and early 90's when he described the band 'Moose' and dismissed the band "a bunch of shoegazers" in an interview. Doc Martin and salad enthusiast Steve Lamac picked up on this and soon after used it in an NME article and the rest as they say, is history. Initially a negative description, it was soon turned around into a more positive ideal and quickly, the pejorative 'Shoegazing' was embraced, and, through use, it was shortened to the two-syllable 'Shoegaze'. So now you know!
There was never any easy dictionary definition of what 'Shoegaze' actually is. There is no way of pinning it down as there are so many strands, electronica, indie, heavy rock can all said to share some of the base aesthetics of shoegaze, the obvious link is that they share a grander more ambitious make up. No angular, post-punk posturing, this is all big, curvaceous music in the grandest tradition!
The genre's founding forefathers were, in all likelihood, two bands who were not true shoegazers themselves. When Velvet Underground-influenced Scottish outfit the Jesus and Mary Chain released their legendary debut, Psychocandy, in 1985, they gave the world rock’n’roll songs swathed in reverb and distortion. Spacemen 3, a gospel-tinged garage-rock band founded on excessive drug-use, released their The Perfect Prescription set in 1987, furthering the cause of walls of sound built from guitar noise.
The other spiritual forebearer of the genre was the 4AD-centred ‘dream-pop’ scene (personified by bands like the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil). Shoegazers took the detached, ambient, effects-draped, cooing-vocal style of dream-poppers and amped up the volume.
Though the name really only refers to it's initial, self-contained era, the spirit of shoegaze is still summoned every few years when some young sonic scientists, usually at University, stumble across the sacred mathematical formula of 'effects pedals + melody {LOUD guitars} 9% audible vocals = Shoegaze'.
Kevin Shields of shoegaze pin-ups My Bloody Valentine, famously described his band as having a 'fluff on the needle' sound. And, sure enough, My Bloody Valentine used effects-pedals to build walls of opaque guitar sound, burying their songs under torrents of reverberated guitar noise. The effect was to make the noise the centre of it's musical universe, with vocals, bass, and drums all submerged under guitars nearly reduced to sine-waves.
Whilst you could get into pedantic, semantic discussions about the differences between dream-pop, space-rock, and shoegaze, there are very little misconceptions about shoegaze as a genre. True shoegaze bands are few, and they all hailed from pretty much the same time (1990) and place (Reading) and most of the bands, as well as the scene had died out, split up and called it a day by 1994.
Despite the tiny scale of the movement and the brevity of it the current ranks of shoegaze-influenced artists, (quite direly described in the press as 'nu-gaze') all appears to be alive and well in the modern world of the 'fluff on the needle' sound. Loop, Slowdive, Ride and My Bloody Valentine all reformed, the latteractually returning to the stage with new material in tow. Since they released Loveless in 1991, the Irish band have attained a legendary status — not least of all in Shields' inability to make a follow-up album — inspiring countless bands year in and year out.
The bands who drew from shoegaze are too numerous to mention, but some of the more notable staying-true-to-shoegaze acts like Seefeel, SchoolOf Seven Bells, Engineers, Bowery Electric, the Radio Dept, M83, Over the Atlantic, Asobi Seksu, Rumskib, and Sereena-Maneesh are all still making great music, the sale of 'Slowdive' t-shirts is at a 17 year high and peoples hair seems a lot messier than it's been for a while so I guess the whole thig is ticking along nicely thank you very much!

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Friday, 6 February 2015


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It's every parent's nightmare. Their apparently well-adjusted child suddenly comes home with hair the colour of a coalface, a face whiter than anything made by Dulux, and announces, "Mummy, I'm a goth." However, according to a new study, parents of goths will probably end up boasting about their son/daughter the doctor, lawyer or bank manager.That is the surprising finding of Cockblock University's Dave Thumb, whose doctorate in 'Looking At People With Funny Hair And Eyeliner In London, Brighton And Leeds' has become the industry standard guidelines to all things Goth.
'Most youth subcultures encourage people to drop out of school and do illegal things,' he says. 'Most goths are well educated, however. They hardly ever drop out and are often the best pupils. The subculture encourages interest in classical education, especially the arts. I'd say goths are more likely to make careers in web design, computer programming, knitting and Wicca.
In addition to their studies, hours are spent by the Goth adopting the requisite air of mysterious gloom, reading the spines of Dostoevsky novels, and gazing forlornly at spots. (However, similar experiences can still be found among people in much more respectable professions.)
Goths are like masons I have also been told. 'They're everywhere!' But rather than blaming some sinister conspiracy, let us look at the reasons people become goths in the first place. According to Mordin Grindle, formerly of goth band 'Baroque Back Mounting' but now running a dentists surgery in Vauxhall, "I loved the bands, but it wasn't a pose - I felt authentically depressed. I was a teenager in Great Yarmouth, where I felt that people didn't like me. I drank cider and mulled wine and painted my nails a lot. I just couldn't understand why nobody liked me?' Amazing. He goes on to add that Goth is a non-violent subculture. 'Goths are more like hippies. I don't know any goths who are into graveyard destruction or cat slaughtering. They like their graveyards and they love their cats.' Nor do drugs seem to be much of a problem. 'Speed is a goth drug because the ideal is to be skinny,' says Grindle. 'But for most of us it was Blue Nun wine because Wayne Hussey drank it.'
So perhaps parents shouldn't be too worried that a new generation of goths is cropping up again. There's a goth couple on Hollyoaks and for some goths, enterprise is automatically thrust upon them especially if born within a 2 mile radius (as the bat flys) of Whitby and their biannual Gothic festival for there's untold riches to be made by selling 2nd hand Harry Potter books, broken hair crimpers, henna dye and cheap vampire related tat to other synchronised non-conformity practicing nobs dressed as Ray Reardon.

Is your boyfriend/girlfriend a goth? 10 tell-tale signs.

1. Drinks snakebite. Former or closet goths still display a lingering thirst for snakebite - half a pint of lager with half a pint of cider, sometimes with blackcurrant. Snakebite is the worst thing the goths ever did after their invasion of the Roman Empire in AD 268.

2. Penchant for eyeliner. It seems everybody's wearing eyeliner these days, but a goth's make-up is a smidgen more extreme: the skin is powdered white, and black eyeliner is used on eyes, brows, lips and sometimes - to draw cobwebs, probably - the skin. NB: goths do not use bronzer, rouge, or St Tropez self-tan.

3. Cape. Capes have been fashionable this winter, but don't let that confuse you. A goth wears a cape so long it grazes the floor. Looks a little incongruous over a business suit.

4. Went to Leeds university. Strangely, Leeds has a nigh-on magnetic attraction for goths, and there are more cape shops per capita in the city than anywhere else in Europe, Transylvania included.

5. Whistles Fields of the Nephilim/ Sisters of Mercy/ March Violets/ Subway to Sally songs. This is why no goth ever had a successful career as a milkman.

6. Strange hobbies. Many of your colleagues will spend the weekend at B&Q, drinking Lambrusco and playing five-a-side. Not goths. They read preposterous fantasy books, do a spot of Wicca and anything "a bit medieval".

7. Black clothing. Though both wore a lot of black, it is easy to differentiate between the goth and the 80s throwback by asking this simple question: can you imagine this outfit in a Robert Palmer video? The Goth's predilection for black clothing is a reflection of the Black Aesthetic - taking those things society regards as evil or wrong and making them beautiful. Many items in the longtime Goth's wardrobe may now have faded to a sort of charcoal shade.

8. Disturbing dancing at Christmas party. The goth sticks rigidly to the routine of two and a half steps to the front and back again, while gazing at the floor in an affected fashion and waving hands around mysteriously.

9. Disarmingly pointy boots. It is a little-known fact that inside their shoes, goths' feet are just as pointy as their winklepickers.

10. Drives a hearse to work. And doesn't work at a funeral parlour.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark X

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Wella: A Warning From History! AGAIN!! + the 'Our Cosmic Address' mix.

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(The following is a sample of some of English mythology's more imaginative augmentations on the legendary beast 'The Wepps' that I am anthologising in a four-volume set that Random House plan to publish pending the outcome of the Bulgarian shepherds strike.)

The Silkworm:
The Silkworm is an early incarnation of the Wepps that first appears in Chaucer's early cookery books. The Silkworm is not actually a worm of any type but a small bird of no more than 4 or 5 inches that was said to have the power of speech but constantly referred to itself in the third person, such as "He's a great little bird, isn't he?" Persian mythology holds that if the Silkworm appears on the window sill in the morning a relative will either come into money or break both legs at a tombola.

The Flying Goon:
The Flying goon is another early version of the modern day Wepps we all know and hate. Flying Goons were said to be magical creatures with four hundred and 4 four eyes. Two hundred for long distance, two hundred for reading and four independently moving eyes to 'keep toot for any loose change or fags on the floor'. According to legend, if a man gazed directly into the face of a Flying Goon he immediately lost his right to drive in Bensham. The Flying Goon was also known to be a harsh carrier of herpes.

The Prawn:
The Prawn see's an interesting spin on the legend of The Wepps as it is a sea monster! Tales see it located living just off the North Northumberland coast near Holy Island. Most scholars maintain that this was due to The Prawns fabled love of free mead that the Monks would pour into the surrounding waters to pacify The Prawn on it's stroppier days. Killing a Prawn was said to be bad luck: In a poem by Sir Herbert Figgles, a sailor shoots one and his boat suddenly founders in a storm, causing the crew to seize the captain and cut his hair into a fashionable Hitler-sweep in a futile attempt to appease the Prawn. There were no survivors.

The Great Weaponie:
The Great Weaponie is a Greek take on the Wepps legend, with the head of a turtle and the body of a turtle, although not the same turtle. The Great Weaponie is reputed to sleep for a thousand years and then suddenly awake in flames, particularly if it was smoking when it dozed off. The red headed Greek warrior Greggles was said to have awakened Weaponie after six hundred years but found it listless and grouchy, and it begged to remain in bed just another two hundred years. The appearance of The Great weaponie is considered unlucky and is usually preceded by a cigarette famine or news of debt.

The Modern Day Wepps:
The truth of the Modern Day Wepps is, as ever, far less interesting than it's numerous legendary incarnations, it is in fact a large magical white mouse with the words 'Touch Me' printed on it's nipples. The Modern Day Wepps is unique amongst rodents in that it can be picked up and played like a trombone. It is also an expert 'tromboner'. It is also said to know the mayor of Pelaw personally.

Anyway, as something of a reward(?) for you putting up with that old nosense there's a mix of some records I did a while back for you to listen to/ignore/ruminate on or whatever you like. I frankly couldn't care less.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X