Sunday, 30 March 2008

Southern sojourn

Source: Daniel Mencák

I'm off to Christchurch for a work thing in a few days for, oddly enough, a few days.

I know I tend not to post a lot during the mid-week, so you may not have noticed my absence. I just thought you should know, is all.

Is there anything I can get anyone while I'm down there?

Christchurch is renowned for its white people, the gardens of white people, a lack of geographical landmarks in what is a painfully flat cityscape, oh and excellent cheesemongers on Salisbury Street.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

Source: PopartUK

I know I previously said I've been all Cut Copy, all the time since getting their album, but in truth I've needed the occasional break from their album. As much as I enjoy In Ghost Colours, the psychedelic gay space electro starts to have an odd effect on some of us after the ninth time through the album.

I won't say what that is, but I will say that Cassius have proven the ideal occasional distraction. Their albums 1999 and 15 Again are great background music with the occasional dancefloor filler thrown in to keep things interesting.

Of the two I'd say 1999 is probably the better album. Pick it up the next time you wander past a CD store.

Party all the time, party all the time, party all the tiii-iime!

Source: my inbox

My initial reaction to this invite was "I hope he plans on playing all electro all the time at this thing", but seeing as there will no doubt be a fairly diverse crowd the phrase 'fat chance' comes to mind.

This is Damo's last hurrah before he heads off on the white tourist circuit through Asia, so it should be a good'un.

So... what are you doing the night of the 19th? Hmmm?

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Source: Search Amateur

My parents never bought me Rock'em Sock'em Robots when I was a kid and I can't say I really blame them: they're a stupid idea for a kids toy. Speaking of stupid ideas, I'm currently in thrall to one particularly challenging quandary, a battle of whim vs desire.

In the red corner, we have Mr Oizo appearing in Melbourne on 9 June 2008 as part of his second tour of Australia in as many years.

This is a youtube clip of the bearded one dropping the deliriously good track Patrick 122 at the Prince last year.

In the blue corner, we have The Presets appearing in Melbourne on 21 June 2008 as part of their national tour of Australia in support of their soon-to-be-released album Apocalypso.

This is a youtube clip of The Presets headlining the Laneway Festival with their excellent new song Kicking And Screaming.

I can't go to both. Stretching a trip across the necessary three weekends would likely kill me, even if I could afford that much time off work (which I can't). Heading over twice in the same month is similarly a nonsense, especially with another trip to Melbourne already planned for September.

Further complicating matters, this isn't all about me. The original plan was that my travel companion and I would meet up in Melbourne to see Oizo, but since The Presets announced their June tour dates I think I'd rather see The Presets.

Yes, yes, I realise this wouldn't be a problem if I was already living in Melbourne but I'm not. Ugh!


What do you think?

The future of dance music?

Source: Found Track

Live music has evolved a fair bit from ye olde 'band on stage playing actual instruments'. Keyboards, synths, programming, turntables, CDJs, laptops have all now become fairly commonplace in many a live venue. This is certainly happening so much so that some are openly wondering if live electronic acts can claim to be 'live'.

With technology progressing ever forward, I just worry when it might be time to say enough is enough. Well, it seems Korg have risen to the challenge with their DS-10. This scary little enhancement will turn any Nintendo DS into a fully functional keyboard, synthesiser and sequencer.

As dumb as it sounds, I had in the back of my head an idea that ipods would be the next evolution of live electronic music acts. If it turns out that the DS-10 is indeed the next evolution, I really don't know that I can stick with it.

I'm not so much a snob that I'll look past good music just because it is made on fairly lo-fi tech and sure the DS-10 would only be a short jump from the slew of DJs already hunched behind and illuminated by their macbook screens. I just wonder what this development would mean for the theatricality of a live electronic performance. I can see it now: a guy (or guys) on a stage in a big room club setting tapping away at his handheld with a stylus. Jesus wept. No laser light show, strobes or smoke machine could possibly redeem that.



Miss 'Thang' thought she'd just get all up in here and snaffle the cuter photo of Dan for her own blog, so I's went with Tim instead. You feel me?

Moving on to matters less competitive blogging in nature, I got sick of waiting for my signed copy to arrive in the post so caved and bought Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours off itunes on Saturday (which I think may have been... um, yesterday?).

Suffice to say I've been all Cut Copy, all the time, ever since. It's a great album, comprising a number of strong songs woven together almost like a mixtape. Some of the songs towards the end seem a bit weak, but the album as a whole is just... wow.

Standout songs for me thus far are Out There On The Ice and So Haunted. Although disappointing as a single, So Haunted seems to come into its own on the album.

Unfortunately the opposite seems to be true for Hearts On Fire. Sure it was so cheesy as a single that most listeners were made immediately lactose-intolerant. I for one loved that it was so cheesy and... well, gay. That is why the single release sits at the top of my itunes most played list. Ah well. I still really like the album and you should too.

I'd recommend grabbing it through JB Hi-Fi but I don't know that I want to. Some element of blame will need to be born by New Zealand Post for the delay (we have odd things happening with our mail over here), but when I pre-ordered a signed copy of the album I kinda expected it to be... well, signed. Opening up the parcel this morning it didn't take long to notice that while it was a copy of the album it wasn't entirely all it should have been.

I'm chasing JB Hi-Fi up about this, but I REALLY hope this doesn't happen with my pre-order for The Presets' Apocalypso.

UPDATE: Ok, so maybe it wasn't as straight forward as that. Turns out the band signed the covers but did so while in Texas while attending SXSW, so JB wisely chose to send out the unadulterated CDs, with the signed covers to arrive in due course. Thanks JB Hi-Fi!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Brief hiatus

The adapter for my laptop has given up the ghost so I won't be as 'active' as would normally be the case. I've sorted out getting a new one but it hasn't arrived yet (much like something else ugh!), so please bear with me.

This is worse than when the internet was canceleld because the then-flatmate decided to let his cellphone bill with Telecom run into the $400s.

I miss my itunes.

I miss you.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

Source: Miami Art Exchange

I saw these Phillipe Starck-designed lamps at a fashion-art-shopping thing in Melbourne last year and in spite of all the free Grey Goose we downed I think I prefer the M16 floorstand lamps to the AK47 table lamps. It's a shame toy shops stopped stocking vaguely-realistic toy guns or we could all make our own Phillipe Starck-"inspired" gun lamps. Have can of gold paint, will spray.

Anywho, it has been 10 years since Portishead last released an album, and I don't know about you but I thought that shit only happened in the literary world.

Now, although the album leaked a few weeks back, a lot of the churn on the blogosphere seems to centre around a few live appearances on youtube and the official release of their video for Machine Gun.

Now I'll admit I'm not a particularly strong fan of Machine Gun or the dark minimalist video that goes with it, and judging from the chatter among many bloggers it would seem I'm not alone in that regard.

Which is a shame really, because the rest of the album is really quite good. I could prattle on about how Magic Doors, Silence, Plastic and We Carry On are the clear standout tracks for me, but I don't know that that is particularly helpful to anyone who isn't in a position to hear those songs.

Therein lies the dilemma. With all the less-than-complimentary commentary emerging around Machine Gun, and the label's unfortunate decision for that to be the lead single on the album, I just wonder what effect that will have on whether people bother with Third.

Portishead are a band that helped herald the golden age of trip hop and the reign of the Bristol Sound (the latter being the more important of the two), a band that haven't come out with anything new in a decade, and a band that have had to deal with the expectations that go with coming out with something sufficiently new as to not appear dated but not so new as to be unrecognisable from what we all knew and loved back in the '90s. I think they've succeeded and succeeded admirably, but then I'm just some guy with an opinion.

You should get the album and come to your own conclusions.

Yeah... about that...

Source: The Presets' myspace

One thing I love about the blogosphere is the viral nature of things, how whenever a song drops it very swiftly spreads among the many-splendoured masses.

Case in point, album versions of live-favourite Kicking & Screaming and the unknown-until-just-now A New Sky by The Presets dropped not so long ago and already they're generating a fair amount of churn. I'm not Hype Machine, so you best hop along there to see what I mean.

Kicking & Screaming was one of the stand-out tracks from The Presets' set at Never Ever Land (after My People and Are You The One?) and went a long way to making Friday 14 December 2007 a date I won't easily forget. The general absence of leaked tracks and the album we're all expecting it to lead (Apocalypso, out mid-April) has meant that some of us have relied on live renditions on youtube to satisfy our curiosity, with this being by far one of the better recordings out there.

Now as much as I loved it at Never Ever Land and indeed loved it in the youtube vid already referenced, I'm really not sure I like the album version of Kicking & Screaming that is floating around the blogosphere. It just seems so 'shallow' and sparse as to sound almost like an unmastered track. Well, actually, it does sound like an unmastered track from the album. As if to make matters worse, I'm afraid the same can be said of A New Sky.

Comparisons are difficult to master when it comes to music (what with enjoyment and appreciation being so personal and subjective), but My People and even This Boy's In Love have a depth of sound to the songs that leave them sounding full and complete. I don't mind that every song on the album can't be the torrent of righteous fury that is My People. I think that would be a good thing.

I just worry that the album won't live up to the promise of it's two officially-released singles. I pre-ordered my copy ages ago so will just have to wait it out until a wee package arrives from JB Hi-Fi (I'm still waiting on my signed copy of Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours but then Easter would have added to the delays generally brought on by international shipping and handling).

If you want to judge the tracks for yourself, you might best try here.

"The man is a total mystery, but he's real good at his job, heck, he's the best."

Source: Found Track

It is amazing where google's blogsearch often takes one. Originally looking to see what people thought of Portishead's third album (more on that later), I happened upon a post on Found Track with the first publicity stills from the G.I. Joe film.

Colour me intrigued if slightly concerned that Snake Eyes looks too much like those vampires from Blade II.

It makes me still wish I had my Sky Striker F-14 Tomcat with ejection seats, plastic missiles, and retractable swept-wings.

Tell me lies... tell me sweet little lies

Source: Voice from the Depths of the Cultural Coil

I heard a rumour that Brazilian six-piece Cansei de Ser Sexy would be playing a gig in Wellington.

I know the timing is a bit off with only two gigs confirmed for Auckland later this week. I know that no posters have gone up and I know that no emails have done the rounds from the usual suspects about anything happening in Wellington.

And yet... ugh!

Wishful thinking and wistful reminiscing have a lot to answer for.

In the name of all that is good and holy in this universe...

Source: Vintage Imports

... please don't let me go near another gin.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

To quote the Eurythmics...

... sisters are doing it for themselves, with a number of the womenfolk coming out with videos creating a fair amount of churn on the blogosphereI can quite happily watch again and again.

New Zealand-born Ladyhawke kicks it old school through a retro lens for Back Of The Van, her first single to be released through SFTWM perennial favourite: Modular Records.

Travis over at Big Stereo said he thought this video "looks a little lesbian". Well after the achingly-homoerotic video for another Modular Records stablemate (The Presets : This Boy's In Love), a member of the Christian Right could easily see this all as part of the Gay Agenda to convert good-natured-if-curious hipster kids over to the dark side of same sex relations.

The French have fought back hard against the might of Australian electro and continue to do so with Yelle coming out with her second video for Je Veux Te Voir. I quite like that it isn't as kidsy as her video for A Cause Des Garcons (the original as opposed to the technotek-tastic video for the Tepr remix of the same song).

She could be reciting her solution to the global economic crisis or discussing the merits of paper vs plastic for all I know. The internet (the fount of all truth in knowledge) suggests that it is instead a sctahing attack against now ex-boyfriend and TTC team-member Cuizinier. Songs with French accents are all the rage right now with The Teenagers currently breaking the hearts of barely legal blondes across America.

Roisin Murphy dropped her new video for You Know Me Better to mixed acclaim from the blogosphere. A number of them picked it up but were sufficiently effusive about it. Understandably so too, because it is quite a good song from a solid performer.

To be honest though, I think I prefer the youtube vid of her busking at Covent Garden. Popjustice described it as better than a man painted gold pretending to be a statue". Somehow stripped of the studio production, her voice and the song seem to come across as more powerful and, dare I say, meaningful.

Who do you think will be next? Little Boots? Uffie?

But that's only where the story begins for OUR Scud

Source: Plastic And Plush

Shocker Toys have announced they are producing a line of action figures of indie comic book characters, with one of said indie comic book characters being a particular favourite of mine: Scud: The Disposable Assassin.

Rob Schrab's Scud: The Disposable Assassin was a great comic back that emerged in the heyday of the '90s (certainly before the bottom dropped out of the comics market and everything suddenly became less interesting). Everything about the series was nonsensical, in much the same spirit as Jhonen Vasquez's Johnny The Homicidal Maniac.

The sculpts of the articulated action figure look pretty good and the paint scheme seems right on the button. The figures are apparently around 6" tall so fairly sizable. I quite like it, even though it doesn't work with anything else in my more vinyl-centric collection but oh well.

But then what do I know? One of my favourite toys of last year (El Panda) was voted third worst toy of 2007 by the readers of Plastic and Plush.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Yes I do know what time it is

Do you know how warm it is right now? Too warm to get any sleep, even with the pedestal fan on fan setting "2" (any higher and it risks thrusting itself against the wall and potentially through into the neighbouring bathroom and quite possibly beyond).

Important life question of the moment: why aren't any of you online to entertain me? Eh? Eh? Eh?

Exodus 20:17

Source: Debenhams

Exodus 20:17 says that I should not covet my neighbour’s house, my neighbour’s wife, my neighbour's male or female slave, my neighbour's ox, my neighbour's donkey, or indeed anything that belongs to my neighbour*.

Now, if we take neighbour in its broadest possible sense to mean anyone that isn't me, then forgive me for I have sinned and sinned again.

I had the pleasure not so long ago of attending the launch party for an exhibition that comprises among other exhibits the private collection of some good friends of mine. I've had the pleasure of viewing a number of the pieces in their own home so found the exhibition a welcome of the familiar (I hope they've forgetten how I kept mistakenly slip-sliding across one work they'd just got which comprised silver nonpareils and a blanket, despite polite requests not to) and not so familiar. Of the many and varied works in display there are perhaps two pieces for which I have a particular affection.

The first is Melbourne artist Rose Nolan's SELFDOUBT, a towering work that occupies an entire wall in the gallery (as can be partially viewed here). I've seen smaller scale works of hers on the walls of the Barr's home and the exhibition has some of Nolan's smaller works on angled-surfaces, but there is something about the sheer scale of SELFDOUBT that at once overwhelms and entrancs me. I just can't get enough of looking at it.

The second is Michael Parekowhai's Cosmo McMurtry, a towering vision of self-inflated resin and fairy tales made real. I don't know if it is the sheer absurdity of a semi-realistic artwork of this size, the novelty of it being inflatable, or that it looks so god-damned adorable but this work really brings out an enormous grin on my face. The NGV in Melbourne received a larger version of the work last year that stands 8m tall (and can be viewed here) but I think that the smaller one can almost fit in a standard living room means it is absurd but not ridiculous.

Ever since seeing them in the flesh as it were I've been plagued of thoughts of how to have a wall painted by Rose Nolan and an absurd inflatable animal by Michael Parekowhai of my own. Cost will always be an issue, but not an insurmountable one. Siting will be a bigger issue until I get my own place and a place I feel I could spend a great deal of time. My trickier concern however is one of going about inquiring of the artists about such possibilities without appearing the naive amateur or worse, the fawning collector.

I really do enjoy their work and would like to have some of it for myself, but until I sort my shit out I have no choice but to covet that which my 'neighbours' have in their private collection.

Reboot: The Jim Barr and Mary Barr Collection is on at the City Gallery until mid-June.

* I have embellished the original text for effect.


Source: The Tuesdays

Tuesdays are when seems to click over from one week to the next with it's charts and breakdowns of what I've been listening. It is no real surprise to see Portishead take top spot with a gargantuan lead from the rest of the field. Their third album Third is a fantastic album and has rightfully been garnering a fair amount of play of late. I know I'm as much a slave to hyperbole as I am the adverb but it really is that good. The album succeeds in reviving the Bristol Sound I loved back in the 90s without seeming dated or an anachronism from that bygone era.

I know the album isn't out yet but curiosity got the better of me. Rest assured I'll be forking out for it as soon as such a possibility becomes reality.

Tuesdays are when iTunes introduces new material like their free single of the week. I've managedin the past to pick up Van She's Cat & The Eye as well as some random track by the Boom Boom Satellites.

I had a look just earlier and happened to notice among the array of slowly evolving album/EP buttons up the top of the iTunes store that they're offering Cut Copy's new album In Ghost Colours for the very reasonable price of NZ$11.99. That is almost a third of what I'm paying for my signed copy that will no doubt arrive in my inbox after the Easter break.

If I was a fiscally prudent man I'd have the funds in my account to buy and download it now. If I was a cheapskate I'd listen to their tracks for free on their myspace profile. If I wasn't so enamoured of Cut Copy I'd rip the album tracks from their myspace profile and listen to them in lieu of the album proper. Colour me unusually patient on this one.

Tuesdays are when Little Boots posts up what is swiftly becoming her weekly constituional: Monday Funtimes. Born initially from being denied entry to a Metronomy appearance somewhere in the UK, Monday Funtimes has become a regular feature in our myspace calendar. Every week we're asked to submit songs for her and her accompanying players to... well, play.

This week's edition showcased her rendition of Haddaway's 90s classic What Is Love?.

So yeah, Tuesdays.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

My little pony

... is no longer as little as it once was. It hardly grew before my eyes but I am surprised to see it grow to the size it has.

I turned it around in the glass for a better shot, as it earlier had the appearance of dentures. I may not have the best teeth, but I abhor the thought of my desk appearing to take on the role and function of a bedside table in a retirement home.

The paperwork encroaching on this glass-encased equine wonder might give the bottom of the glass a milky appearance. I can assure you that would instead be an accumulation of whatever has been shed from the creature in its forward progression to its paler and more water-retained future self.

This was one of many (read: two) prizes arising from last week's Auckland Cup. The other was a glue stick. I know. I laughed too.

Yes... yes I do need a holiday.

Monday, 10 March 2008

"So I assume at least one of The Presets is gay then?"

New video for the new song from The Presets : This Boy's In Love.

Sparkly, flashy, milky, so very very gay. It is quite Calvin Klein-meets-Cadbury after seeing 300. Love the song. Quite the departure from the fury of My People.

April 11 can't come soon enough!

For those that can't wait for an official release of this gem, feel free to grab a youtube rip of the audio from the above clip here (mediafire).


I would have liked to have had profound and worthy things to post about in recent days but I am afraid the reality has been quite different.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have quite simply found myself overwhelmed by a veritable deluge of new music into my iTunes. I can't cope. I try listening to one album or EP only to become anxious to hear everything else in the obscenely-voluminous 'recently added' playlist. What am I missing out on? What about this song?

I may resurface in a few days.

Try not to miss me too much!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Truer words have yet to be written

This just in

Over the next week or so we are presented with not one but two reasons to love Wellington institution Good As Gold.

If I wasn't so obviously contagious I'd make an effort to hit the Po Mo promo this Friday. I don't know that even in the absence of the head cold I'd try my luck for an invite to the pool party at Thorndon Pool.

I don't have the legs for short shorts.

... and in other news you can see me opening my case of French dunnies here, here , here and here while at New Zealand's first dunny trading party. The tenuous link between this self-aggrandising mention and the Good As Gold parties? Welfe.

Welcome to Vids-R-Us

My name is Jake and I'll be your host for the evening.

I'm really sorry but with this damned head cold I'm really struggling to put two thoughts together on all the tunes floating around the net and through my itunes right now. Really.

So instead I've been distracting myself with plenty of pretty lights.

And to kick things off we have this promo vid of the Institubes Records stable from their Institubes Express 999 tour last year.

Gaze in wonder at Para One, Bobmo, Surkin, Tacteel and other people I don't really recognise. I quite like the song that runs through it but it's a shame they didn't run with sound from the night itself, sound with the excitement and enjoyment of the crowd, something that could convey more than the moving image of a good time being had by all.

The Teenagers scored a major hit last year with Homecoming and have followed up with a number of tracks in the similar vein of pretentious French art-wank ever since. It is difficult to fault them for plumbing the whole English-spoken-with-a-French-accent because it really does seem to rev the ladies' engines (and who am I to deny a woman what she wants?).

Well I caught this on Watch This Space last Thursday night (I don't watch much TV these days) and it has kinda stuck with me.

It is The Teenagers with Starlett Johansson, and although not as new as their video for No Love I think I prefer this song to No Love.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Two things caught my eye this weekend

The new video for Justice's DVNO.

It looks great and it really works with the pacing of the song, but I was kinda hoping for something that better reflected the song's inspiration : the unavoidably tacky nightclub that resides in the heart of every city.

Oh and this video for the Van She Tech remix of Utah Saints' Something Good.

The original came out in 1992, and was based around a sample from Kate Bush's Cloudbusting. The song is ok, the remix is better, but the video won me over. Love that Welsh accent. Well I don't, but it just seems so ridiculous. In fact, everything in this video is ridiculous. From the ring-kissing intro to the MC Hammer punchline. Just. Ridiculous.

Victa iacet Virtus

I've just finished reading The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte. I was originally put onto this and consequentially Perez-Reverte's other books by the Roman Polanski film The Ninth Gate.

Despite the poor reviews and less than intense box office interest I really quite enjoyed the film and was keen to learn more. Not so much about the occult elements of the film, but more the winding storyline and overwhelming sense of inevitability that the lead character found himself reluctantly following.

As with many things in life, the book turned out to be better than the film. Looking at a wikipedia entry for the film it seems Roman Polanski "jettisoned" the core plot of the book (the club that gives the book its title) for the filmic occult subplot around a mysterious book that claims to reveal the path to find the Devil. Unwise.

Like his other books, The Dumas Club is kinda pulpy with not-particularly-strong characters inexorably finding themselves in circumstances beyond their understanding always with the threat of hidden forces seemingly leading them along. Don't take that as a bad thing. I don't know that this is a book that would last the ages, certainly not like the books mentioned within its own pages, but it makes for a good, if easy, read all the same.