Thursday, 1 May 2008

The long drift goodbye

May? Gosh darn, it's been a long time, and it's been a busy year so far. So, an annotated version, if you will, to bring this up to speed and maybe, then maybe, I'll remember to keep up to date in the future... Maybe.
So, where to begin. I guess maybe where I left off, or possibly a little before. Around the end of March I made friends with Corky, and there was drinking and gubbins and whatnot, and this, in turn, instigated the initial conversing with random gig boy who was working in once of the bars we drank dry. Then there was the Efterklang gig, at which there was more conversations, and then I went on a date with another boy who turned out to be absurdly young (about 23) and then there was some time in London, and then there was the week with Boris, Phosphorescent and Ulrich Schnauss, all in one week. Incidentally, Ulrich Schnauss was supported by a band called Airiel. Airiel are awesome, because they sound like... well, they sound like if the Pet Shop Boys made shoegaze. As I think I have, or will, mention before, briefly. Also occuring at the Ulrich Schnauss gig was an invitation from random gig boy to the Woodcat to go to lunch on the Saturday. Lunch was... nice. Random gig boy is sweet. But the impression was quickly gained that the random gig boy liked the woodcat more than the woodcat liked the random gig boy. And the woodcat is a scaredy cat. And because it's only a an impression, the woodcat can run away, and pretend it doesn't exist. And leave any misunderstandings to the long drift goodbye... Bad woodcat.

In a day or so's time, all will be revealed

And no doubt, all begin to make a little more sense. I'm rubbish at remembering to write things as and when they occur, but hopefully by bringing this rambling mess up to date I'll remember to review things and update the randomness that is this cat's life at slightly more frequent, and more regular, intervals.
Tonight I'm off to see Bobby Digital and Rza at Academy 2, and part of me's looking forward to going, because it will be awesome, and the other half of me is wishing I could just go to bed right now, because I have got a cold and feel a bit pants. But anyway, that is the excuse I'm giving for all the empty post headings. I've put them in, so I'll remember to write them, but I don't have time now. Or something. Probably more likely to remind me what I wanted to write about...

If the Pet Shop Boys made shoegaze...

Never, ever, set yourself the task of backtracking a blog. If you don't write about them at the time, chances are, you will not go back and complete the other entries, and then you just end up with a load of hanging titles, that frustrate you and make you feel unable to create new entries until they are done. Or you could delete the titles...
I deleted some, others I feel I should document, so as not to be a complete cheat. So here I am. Tuesday 16th September, months down the line. I should be blogging about the Bon Iver gig from the night before, but instead, here thinking I ought to describe going to see Ulrich Schnauss back in April. Well, Ulrich Schnauss was awesome. But possibly the best part of the evening was Airiel, the support band. Not that I'm saying I like Airiel, to listen to. But I like the idea of anything that sounds like Pet Shop Boys making shoegaze. Truly, truly awesome. And that's it, really. Hence the perils of the retrospective blog, you forget the details. Sorry.


Efterklang. At the Ruby Lounge on 1st April, with support from Nancy Elizabeth, and Our Broken Garden.This was just after I became properly acquainted with my friend Corky and so he came to the gig with me and Paddington. Ever since I saw Efterklang play the Roadhouse in November, they've become one of my absolute favourite bands to see live. There is such an energy in their live performances, with much spontaneity and ad hoc improvisation, and yet a perfect cohesiveness between the band. No mean feat for a 10 strong live band.
Surprisingly, they put Our Broken Garden on before Nancy Elizabeth. Our Broken Garden is Anna Brønsted, part of the Efterklang collective, and her set was really beautiful, followed by the comparatively coarse Nancy Elizabeth who played for far too long, and her speaking voice too often overpowered her singing voice. I'm curious as to why she has a good reputation. Maybe because she plays a harp, and aspires to a type. The harp featured infrequently, however, and her performance lacked any real substance, and I was bored. Boring ideas poorly executed.
That was a surreal night. Efterklang were 9, rather than 10, strong, because English customs and excise are imbeciles and for some reason wouldn't let Peter Broderick into the country. Which put a dampener on the whole night, but Efterklang were amazing nonetheless. We saw the offended parties (Woodcat offended them) and they spoke to us (well, me) a little coldly. Which worried Paddington and me not a jot. Corky doesn't know the offended parties too well, so wasn't aware of this change in their disposition. We saw gig ticket boy, and found out his name. We got various bits of memorabilia between us. We had a good ish sort of evening. We left. Corky and I ran down the road pretending to be aeroplanes (I do silly things when I'm tired), and we persuaded gig ticket boy to briefly do the same. Weirdo.

Knitted Icons, Orca Whales and Pitted Fleas

Ah, such a long time ago. It was perhaps a poor decision to decide to backdate all these things. But the memory is still clear. Ish. So I'll give it a go.

This dates back to Monday 12th March, and a fantastic gig at the Fleapit, near Bethnall Green. Greg (Haines) was the headline of the evening, with support in the form of Danny (Saul) and some chap called Jasper TX (I believe he's called Dag something?), and having previously spent much time in the pub with Greg and Danny but not having heard Greg play I thought I'd take the opportunity, as well as being rather keen to see Jasper TX. So the decision was made, and my comrades (the lovely Giuls and Hez) willing, off we three trotted to the Fleapit, in deepest darkest East London.

Not knowing London so well, Giuls came to my aid and arranged to meet me enroute, which was fantastic, and meant for big old girly chats and loveliness, and also meant that we didn't get too lost in the confusion of night time darkness and East London unfamiliarity. Hez was running a little late, but met us in the Fleapit, a nice dank little bar on Columbia Road, looking absolutely gorgeous as can be, and promptly presented me with, and I have to say it, possibly the best birthday present of the year. A book of patterns to make knitted Icon dolls. Bowie, Audrey, Marylin, Madonna, Gandhi(?), all there in glorious knit purl technicolor. This was also the first time Giuls and Hez had met properly, and thankfully they got on like a house on fire. They truly are two of my favourite people EVER, so I'm glad they get along.

Anyway... On with the show. I should maybe mention, whilst I've been on friendly terms with Danny and Greg previously, by this stage I'd succeeded in offended them quite a bit, so we are no longer friends. Still speaking, just no longer friends. Long story. Anyway, the show. Jasper TX was on first, and I was expecting to be absolutely swept away, as I really like his music. But he was just so funny. I'm not sure he meant to be. His head kept doing this crazy nodding thing, and when he started creating the vocals for the loop, he sounded rather like a pained whale. Or something. And all I could think of was that line in that Regina Spektor song about dreaming of orca whales and owls. Highly inappropriate. He made some really lovely music that night, but I have to say,heathen that I am, that to fully appreciate the music of Jasper TX, I much prefer not to be able to see him.

Danny. Danny Saul. I had a crush on Danny Saul a few years ago. I think there's something about ginger men that I really quite like. I also remember seeing him support Marissa Nadler in the Bowling Green in Manchester a few years ago and thinking he was absolutely amazing. And that she was a bit of a control freak perfectionist. Danny used to just play his acoustic guitar, and sing beautiful melodic songs, and in it's simplicity lay, for me at least, it's strength. Nowadays, Danny still plays guitar, and sings beautiful melodic songs, but has found the path of laptops and loops, and creates incredibly intricate, complex loops and layerings, creating a huge amount of depth of sound. And this, unfortunately, is where, for me at least, he has fallen foul in his solo work. There is simply too much. Too many loops. Too many layers. There is no strength any more, and the passion that was there now seems to seep into the cracks, replaced by concentration. For such acoustic loveliness, loops can work, but they must be used with restraint. With care for the overall song, not just for the momentary effect. A good example of this would be the Phosphorescent gig I attended more recently, and will update the details of soon. I sound like I'm being negative about Danny's set. I still enjoy seeing him play, but less than I did before. And my friends, who'd never seen him before, were slightly less than overwhelmed.

And young Mister Haines. Wow. I really have to say it. This gig was but 20days after his 20th birthday, but he has the musical maturity of, well, lets just someone very talented indeed. He played an immense set, looping and layering his cello, and a xylophone he was playing with both a beater, and a bow. I must say, I've never seen anyone play a xylophone with a bow before. But it really worked. It was an immensely beautiful, transcendental experience watching Greg play, especially seeing the transformation from the boy I know to the musician on stage. The whole room was deathly silent aside from this amazing sound created solely by Greg using the xylophone, cello, some well placed crackling from various knobs and buttons, and his own innate sense of musical fullness. And an intuitive knowledge of when less is more. His timing was absolutely flawless, and sounds created overwhelmed and subdued you at the same time, as the noise built and faded away, gently yet almost malignantly drawing you in. Towards the end of the set, Greg signaled to Danny and Jasper TX to join the performance, Jasper on his guitar, and Danny reading the names of the ticket list out and looping them, gently, undulatingly, faintly across the top of the music.

All in all, I'd say it was an amazing gig. And I feel privileged to have been there, in such an intimate environment, to see arguably one of the best musicians of our time play such a beautiful set. And I'm really looking forward to Greg's new album, which I believe is coming out later in the year.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Woodcat is a dirty girl

It's been a while, so over the next couple of days I'll be backdating bloggingness, with tales of gigs, friendships, loves lost, circuses, general slutting about and things that have been pleasing me. But I can't right now. I need a swifter than swift bath, so as I don't stink any more, and then I'm going to see Boris and Growing at the Ruby Lounge. This morning I thought I was going to be going on my lonesome, but I am to be accompanied by the lovely boys Corky and Paddington. Awesome.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Still not asleep...

But I did find this for Chiquita...

Woodcat is sleepy...

And thinking about a visit to the Imperial War Museum soon, so I can see more empowering images like this one - Gee!! I wish I were a man.

Wow. What an advertising slogan. Americans. Nuff said.
I decided to move to a different blog location. It's kind of like my opinions and ramblings moving house. They stay the same, just in a different place. You see? No? No change there then. Anyhow, as with any house worth it's salt, there is an attic or a shed or something, in which to dump all the boxes when you move, then never unpack them.

Here is my blog shed

the seemingly random thoughts of a woodcat