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VIDA DE-sign by Michael Buckingham, aka Mick Muttley

Dear friends (yeah really, one of those) I have become a women's wear designer for VIDA! http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/ ...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 16: Alamo Leal + Lightnin' Willie And The Poorboys @ The Bullingdon, Oxford

Photo: Lightning Willie @ Famous Monday Blues, June 2010

Most people don't like Mondays. Who can blame them? Monday is the turnaround back to the daily grind, taking the kids to school, making plans you'll perhaps never follow through. But it's also where life in renewed and sorrows can be drowned. So arrives the Famous Monday Blues to channel your woes...

Philip Guy Davis brings a call to arms every week, and tonight it's the turn of special guest troubadour, Alamo Leal to entertain passing punters. A slow and steady, solo acoustic guitar opening lays the groundwork. With almost thirty years of international career behind him, this practiced musician shows his lust for the female sex on "The Same Thing" - "Why a man go crazy when a woman wear a dress so tight?"; stomping his feet, giving off good vibes, and the air that he is simply enjoying his life. Plucking an evergreen note on each number, he's an everyman storyteller par excellence, winging in chin-stroking metaphors - particularly "Sometimes you fly so high, you can't find a place to land", while bringing rockabilly pressure, all closely condensed chord shuffles and pinging keys that slide like projectiles from left to right.

Carrying on their crusade as headliners are Lightnin' Willie And The Poorboys. Three months on from their last visit to the club, they're on fire tonight. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink, not least when thunder is afoot. This doesn't stop the audience standing like kids in a sweet shop, eager for more rock-and-roll boogie. How lightning forms is still uncertain, but if you were to ask Lightnin' Willie, he'd probably tell you it arises from positive charges of the audience. Sassy, electrifying grooves revolve like tetris blocks over a puzzle of blues craftsmanship, as Willie insists "This is our living room, and you are your friends". Kicking off with a rags-to-riches citation, they peak at quarter to midnight with "Eyes In The Back Of My Head", harnessing stamina and top-heavy hammering from the drummer as if he's tenderizing a steak; not battering the sticks, but the impetus is there. This is a splendid showing from a big favourite of the UK blues circuit, and reason, if anything that the Famous Monday Blues should be high up on your itinerary.

Lightnin' Willie: Website

Lightnin' Willie And The Poorboys: MySpace
The Famous Monday Blues: Website

Sunday, 26 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 15: Muttley - Time Heals All Wounds

Artwork credits: cordani @ est00.com


"Time Heals All Wounds" is symbolically interjective. Predominantly drum and bass, my first since "Departure" in August 2006, the content respects idiosyncracies I made in 2007's The Dastardly Diaries Chapter 2. Here, Mick Dastardly (aka Muttley) took on the task of presenting a multi genre, all-nighter track showcase, coupled with a webzine, themed to complement the IChiOne events in Amsterdam (see SubVersion Stop 3), and two other causes not affiliated, or acting in conjunction with the Dutch event.

To download it, click here.

Comprising 150 audio clips and seven mixes, the sequence was three-tier; for one, it highlighted descriptive benefits in relation to basic genre tags - "Attitude", "Chill" and "Deepersounds" titles were attributed to each audio clip, allowing users to shape their own playlists; second, it juxtaposed aesthetic transitions where the tunes could be blended; third, cryptic data snippets covering science, nature, insomnia and etymology were submitted to aid crossing the boundaries of cigarette card-styling. "Time Heals All Wounds" is continuation of such progress, and externalizes decisions.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 14: Psychonavigation Records present Zaum Vol.1

Staking a bold claim as ambient compilers, Enrico Coniglio and Emanuele Errante mould their careers to present, feature on and arrange Zaum Vol.1, a selection of specifically commisioned works by Italian ambient artists. Running since 2000 out of Dublin, Ireland, the Psychonavigation labels' compass ranges from electronica to electro to ambient, the latter a cornucopian mainstay of this disc, bending like a yoga student into various shapes, masses and sizes. Pictorially, the desolate artic landscape greets the viewer head-on upon unwrapping, and thematically, it's the perfect ten to be showcased. In the business of freedom, calmness is not arbitrary, and Netherworld, the first artist represented, conjures up a cloud of sadness through "Jostedaal", the low-fi hum emanating like a a gong hit in a lonely cave. Maintaining a solemn outlook, the pithy crackle that enshrouds, and drips carries through an Italian dialogue that resembles an extension of his feats on "Morketid", and contrasts his busy existence in the chaotic realms of inner Rome.

Archetypally, carriages are travelling devices. Veering-off-course occurs on "Daylight Fading Into Evening Silence", a more soothing piece from Enrico Coniglio and Oopohoi, under the Aquadorsa pseudonym. Clicks and pops meld around a repeated wash of dreamy synth interludes. Those following Oophoi's discography from the late nineties onwards will recognise his berth with mellow atmospheres, and the third cut, "ZX-21 Part 1" is a welcome second step up the escalator of affection, from Dario Antonelli. "Thank You" by con_cetta Vs. Antartica, filters the roughage of droney silence, and silences internal demons with a genetically modified spin on ambient dub. Arlo Bigazzi & Arturo Staleri's "Stregatto", the only track with acoustic guitar, and the first with piano, stumbles around with an aura of innocence, at turns soaked in reverb and delay, consecutively to eschew the frivelties of most chillout fare. "Last Love Inside Love" by -On- stoops at a shorter length.

Understanding that part of love means to be dextrous, over the duration it drifts off to a secluded spot in the sequence of tracks, whereby Massimo Liverani's "Primavera" instills an eerie aftertaste that could frighten a wolf, let alone a baby, as such sticking out like a sore thumb, but not strained for cancelling satisfaction. Emanuele Errante re-introduces scuttling insect noises to his composition "Egostasy", whereas the Illachime Quartet suckle bowed strings to warm-bodied violins, producing one of the highlights that avoids pressures for mindless conformity. Luca Formentini's "Avaaz" is the distillate of Deep Chord frozen overnight, all slow-motion, cascading chords and soaring white noise before an entrance of duvet-snug synth enwombs the earlobes. Closer "Amalidieses" by Zoo Di Vetro wipes away the hall, smoke and mirrors with a four-to-the-floor, bulging beat and exact, spoken narrative intermissions.

If you are striving for valuable experiences, it's important to search for those unequivocally tarnished. Lending a larynx to the minority artists, Zaum Vol.1 is no unobservant fabrication, and in days where compilations can sacrifice quality for quantity, it's a breath of fresh air to purchase a CD with a cohesive, alluring arrangement that could vivify even tbe lowest spirits. Succulent like a fish supper, it's not so-laid back you fall over, but rather perks you up, the included and the industry who produces it, to listen with fresh ears.

Purchase: CD
Psychonavigation: MySpace
Psychonavigation: Website

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 13: khoma - Planar

Stop 17: Download

"Planar" is khoma's second contribution to the "15 Minutes Of Fame" mix series. His inaugural feat, "Rifts" can be found below:


khoma: Website
khoma: MySpace
"Planar": support thread

Monday, 13 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 12: Music For The Swiss Alps

Heavenly drone pastures wrapped up in a neat concept, "Music For The Swiss Alps" by nrvnet is a must for all ambient fans. Visit The Hydrogen Cafe to download and read his sentiments.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 11: Bossaphonik presents Edenheight @ The Cellar, Oxford

In the midst of everyday life, where something normally vibrant within the psyche can be starched flat, given a drubbing, or distorted beyond recognition, there are heaven-sent bands like Edenheight to readdress the balance. Basking in the glow of an illustrious influences list, browsing their MySpace page for the first occasion offers up a titbit of what's to come at this month's afrobeat, latin jazz and funk extravaganza Bossaphonik. Having seen Mankala tear it up two months prior with a meld of Santana-like rhythms and lyrical interplay, fellow Bristolians' Edenheight present a repertoire of dub-inflected meanderings and a healthy smattering of jazz-funk attitude.

With the DJs ushering in funky but reserved tunes to please those seated and standing, starting as a four piece - Manfredi Funk Initiative - jamming out an arousing take on British funk, two saxophonists enter by the third number, while watching the drummer and keyboard player is a visual treat, and like a portable microwave, they know how to bring the heat. Abundant in atmosphere but never sickly like cake icing, seldom have I ventured to The Cellar when the vibes have been this spectacularly intense.

Edenheight are at their best when the instruments are left to ornament and careen wildly - the saxophone sections in particular - and distilled to the most vital levels of conditioning. A cauldron of good eggs as a nine-piece congregation, the interval is a nice touch, giving minutes to compose oneself before giving in to another hour of rockin' jazz-funk. Shortly after, the arrival of Madlox applies an underlying pulse to the evening. The partying audience lap this up, dancing with red shoes on. Working in unison, the sax men vary their inhalation technique to great effect, the group alternating numbers throughout but always making more than just a pretty sound. Madlox rides with the lyric "You know I wanna do anything you wanna do", attracting bodies closer by a word to "Get down", whereby the crowd show an affinity and respect by doing as he says. Ultimately, what's at stake with gigs like this? Edenheight have a simple answer: pleasure.

Bossaphonik: MySpace
Edenheight: MySpace
Edenheight: Official website

Friday, 10 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 10: From Here, We Run! + Tristan And The Troubadours + Stone Saloon @ The Jericho Tavern, Oxford

There are lights, cameras and action, and then there are smiles, hollering and tomfoolery. Such is the setting of the Jericho Tavern for From Here, We Run!, a band collating demo of the month accolades from Oxford's monthly music magazine Nightshift, and wooing the audience over with a math-pop backdrop, one that calls to mind Warp's Battles if they were straddled through a forest of sweet-natured melancholy. Like playing in a garage with a door open, letting passing traffic occupy an impermanent space for enchantment of their sticky, sultry myriad, as such, Pieteke's almost reclusive balladeering germinates amongst warbling guitar melodies and Alanis Morrissette-esque zest, singing "If this is a war of the worlds, I don't wanna be a part", and offsetting tumbling drum sections with an alluring, but decidedly detached rigour. She makes a montage of these lyrics with a commanding sense of presence, pulling the curtains on my listening, the night after with "Waiting", saying "The little things you say and do, it all dissolves like a sugar cube". Let's hope their name doesn't sink from the spotlights any day soon.

Opening with a grunting chord fluctuation and fuzzy, glitter-ball synths, Tristan And The Troubadours violin lifts proceedings amongst floppy percussion duets and edgy roleplay. Sounding like the lovechild of A Silver Mount Zion and Joy Division, they deliver sonic postcards to implant a partial emotive permanence, implementing sparkling keys as an overlay to the soaring violin, that begins to poke its head to the forefront by the second half.

For those who longed it out, Stone Saloon stole the show. Commencing, ironically with "Down To Jericho", Ben Lee's voice stops you in your tracks like a red traffic light. A cross-breed of Michael Stipe and Bruce Springsteen, his personhood is not bereft of a wink to the stars, as should Stone Saloon's status in the forthcoming months.

From Here, We Run!: MySpace

Tristan And The Troubadours: MySpace
Stone Saloon: MySpace

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 9: Black Powder + Ace Bushy Striptease + Saints Innocents @ The Wheatsheaf, Oxford

Don't be deceived by the student-prankster, piss-up styled pseudonym, Ace Bushy Striptease border on a twee, cutesy jangle, paired with march-style drum spurts and deliberately clumsy vocal deliveries. They're joined by Black Powder tonight, who's songs survive via alternated hops, skips and jumps from the drummer, scrunching up the pace like a hedgehog in defence, at other points synchronized to build a fiery synergy, topped off by the lead singer's spiky mohican to wash it down. Covering subjects as disparate as prostitution, Jesus ("your heroes are liars they love you so little") and assorted consequential "Filth" (another equally interesting track title), it's hard rocking right to the finish line, the players abusing their instruments as if life depended on it, and the moods harboured in doom-mongering cross-context juxtaposition - the singer a jekyll and hyde mish-mash of Noddy Holder and an irritable rottweiler. Whatever the score, they're here and heavy, and that's all that matters.

Ace Bushy Striptease see to taming down the noise threshold, yet by the end of their set there are cheers that ricochet from wall to wall. Reading her track order off a notepad, there are stops and starts from the lead singer, and the secondary ("this next song might be better"), that I'd put down to not idle chatter, but a reminder of what it means to be human again. So there's mic trouble from the sound engineer's point of view, but still their identity remains intact, alive, and out there.

Google-searched as a defunct cemetery in Paris, Saints Innocents' music is fortunately posessed with more spirit than a well-stocked off-license. A complete bloody mess of sweeping guitar, speed-freak drumming and skydive-like screams and bellows, it reads like a cavalcade of insecurities being blasted to pieces by the angst of youth. Alright in small doses, but not for the long haul.

Ace Bushy Striptease: MySpace
Ace Bushy Striptease: Official website
The Wheatsheaf: MySpace

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

SubVersion Stop 8: Edenheight interview

I conducted a short interview with Ev of Edenheight ahead of their perfomance at Bossaphonik, on the 10th July 2009.

Many thanks for your words Ev. Are you looking forward to The Cellar on Friday?
I look forward to all of our gigs. The band are too, as our performances are never the same twice. When we played at The Cellar last summer we had an impromptu moment where we decided to switch drummer and percussionist around mid-song during an afrobeat number, resulting in a massive percussion duel, which was a buzz for everyone on stage and off. The crowd were really receptive in Oxford too, which always helps us do our job with a smile.

Do you want your music to draw people into the deeper states of reflection, to communicate information about sound, colour, planetary movements, DNA, ethnic bodies, or any of the above?

"Just picking up a musical instrument is a political statement" - David Byrne. As for the lyrics you've picked up on, I can only say that Madlox is free to write what he feels and we're happy to empower his perspective. Everyone has a role, and he's the MC.

Your track "Triptych" bestows the vocal "I dare you to open your mind." Do you work with your emotions as a strength rather than trying to fight against them?

Like I said, I'm not the MC. I'm the producer/director. I know that we are a predominantly live band, with an emphasis on percussive energy and swing, and that the emotional input on everyones part throughout a performance is in all aspects a positive one. The choice made to involve an MC was implemented as we wanted to commit to a contemporary rhythmic style rather than edging towards a pastiche funk sound.

Right. Living in Oxford, I get to hear a broad palette of sounds via gigging. Harold Budd visited in 2007, while at November's Audioscope festival I experienced Boxcutter remixing his hypnotic "Gave Dub" with "Fieldtrip", and a shower of amen breaks. Do you think your location influences your footing in Funk music, and are there pleasures beyond the genre that you enjoy seeing out?

There is definitely a vibrant live music scene in Bristol, which includes all the styles you can imagine. The inner city also produces many dance music innovations which I believe can be largely attributed to the innovation and musical fervour of Carribean culture. The carnival sound systems have played earliest host to home produced sounds including Breaks through Jungle and Drum & Bass to Dubstep. People have talked about a 'Bristol sound', which if anything has probably been labelled 'dark' or 'edgy'. In our experience, there have been times where our sound has been misunderstood by crowds out of town, and we've discussed the possibility that maybe some towns have a different vibe to others. The vibe in Bristol may verge towards agression and angst at times. Perceived in context it's seen as an act of impunity against oppression, and human nature shines through.

What inspires you all to make music?

Life, love, and music.

You're all at various ages, culture is wide open to be sampled, and commodities, in the information age, don't always last forever. What do you value utmost in these climes, is your vision staying consistent, and what do you predict from it changing in the future?

My vision is still 20/20. People always want a piece of something good, but if they can't produce their own ideas eventually they'll dry up. Tap into the key energy of the constituent parts to form a real band, so that the energy flow is generated not borrowed. Then you have the creative well at the heart of any project. People might steal the water from time to time, but if it's good water, eventually the well gets the credit.

As producers, do you translate specific ideas from other artforms into musical ideas, such as films, radio or television?

I'd say it's probable, since we all absorb these forms on a daily basis. Specific ones though, not as yet. Maybe soon.

Technology has advanced society so much over the last 30 years. Before then, computers were for the rich only, mobile phones didn't exist and television was terrestrial. Now there's total overchoice. I remember reading a Knowledge Magazine article with Klute who said the same thing. His subject matter was his latest album at the time - "No-One's Listening Anymore." Do you agree or disagree with that statement?

Well I wasn't listening when it was said, but then I'm not sure I would have been before I had a mobile either. The overload of media has also shown that self-publishing doesn't always produce the best quality too!

Sure. All I know is that I'm safer when I go out, I can communicate with a whole community of like-minded (and lesser so) individuals on web forums, and I can choose to switch off the box (to the level where I no longer watch or have a television). Whether overchoice helps is debatable - people can spend more time deciding now, which could impair judgement on their wider life. Where music is concerned the effects are tenfold; anyone can make a demo CD cheaply, which is healthy for sending to media outlets. MySpace has revolutionised the A&R procedure of getting music signed - see the Arctic Monkeys and their blowing up from the MySpace public. What would it take to plant the seed inside yourselves for wished mass exposure?

The industry is changing. Mass marketing is still required for mass exposure, so a major deal or investors are required to achieve that end, but product placement has dwindled and 360 deals have been born. Arctic Monkeys and such benefit from the fact that youth culture moves quickly and buys readily. Why do you think the vast majority of major artists are signed under 25?

MySpace is easier for demo distribution, but without marketing it would never propel a band alone. I watched the number of hits of a friends' band (who made the papers for all the wrong reasons recently) see their MySpace hits go through the roof, but they didn't sell any more albums. They had loads illegally downloaded however, and their gigs sell out.

It would be nice if all the people who'd like our music could find it easily, but we don't have millions to invest in production and such to get across the radio / TV hurdle so we just keep playing in the good small venues and try to produce a couple of tunes for ourselves as a matter of course.

One final question: your list of players and collaborators is fairly vast for a funk-orientated group. Do you find it daunting recording in the studio with various ordinations, or do you draw inspiration from the melding of styles from your constituent parts?

It's never daunting until the live recording stages are finished and the post production begins. The collective that we have become are now functioning as 3 different groups - Manfredi Funk Initiative (the hammond Funk 4tet featured on Craig Charles Funk and Soul show, BBC Radio6 recently), The SubVersions, believe it or not, (A rare groove 7 piece, purely live), and Edenheight, who are appearing as a 9 piece at Bossaphonik on Friday. The additional guests that we invite in are all there because we respect their work and abilities, and decide we'd like to produce some work together. It's all an interesting process for everyone involved.

Thanks from all at SubVersion Ev. Hoping to catch you on Friday.

Edenheight: MySpace

Edenheight: Official website
The Cellar: MySpace