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So, I moved. From the banks of The Tay to the banks of one of its’ main tributaries: The Almond. It doesn’t offer the wide, expansive, open views that The Tay did but it’s still majestic in its’ own way. Haven’t had much time, sunlight or dry days to work with so far but it has already thrown up a few nice shots.



Almondbank Bridge











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Aside from the dreadful Deer Shit On My New Trainers incident; another beautiful night down at the bottom of the garden……







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Saw the sky beginning to get a bit colourful from the top deck of the bus on my way home, so I shot indoors, grabbed the camera and ran to the riverbank. Spent the subsequent two hours sat on a pier clicking away in awe. What a glorious night.

All images we’re taken in Newburgh, Fife, with the fantastic & highly recommended Sony Nex5 camera.


River Tay













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I’m lucky enough to now live on the banks of Scotland’s longest river, the mighty Tay. A dream prospect for an avid photographer. So, in no particular order, here are some of the resultant shots. All images ©dOSs.




















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Was so disappointed to hear that @Ketherbound, a man of otherwise exceptionally good music taste, didn’t like reggae that I started this mix of some of my favourite dub & reggae tracks to try and change his mind.

That was a month ago. Chances are I’ll never get round to finishing it. So here it is in incomplete form – 17′ 30″ of dub genius, bass nob twiddling and my attempts at controlling an echo delay.

Download also available from above player

If he still doesnt like reggae after hearing this I’m gonna shave his hedgehog. That’s not a euphemism, he has a pet hedgehog.

Dr Alimatado – Best Dressed Chicken

Keith Hudson & Soul Syndicate – Black Heart

Augustus Pablo – King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown

The Upsetters – Grumblin Dub

Horace Andy – Pure Dubbing

Horace Andy – Pure Ranking (Original)

Gregory Isaacs – A Cute Dub

Prince Jammy – Beat Them In Dub

Roots Radics – Mission Impossible

The Specials – Ghost Town (edit)

Leroy Horsemouth Wallace – Herb Vendor

Max Romeo – Chase The Devil

King Tubby – King Tubby’s Special

It’s far from perfect but I’ve always been immensely proud of what we, as a nation, have tried to create in the British Broadcasting Corporation. A bastion of, sometimes flawed, but generally reliable truth amidst a sea of heavily distorted news sources. A concept which becomes increasingly more important as our news sources become controlled more by click throughs than by any form of moral editorial duty.

That said, I’ve been a hater of the BBC’s Top Gear programme for some time now. I find it’s crass, sensationalist, offensive and base level “humour” appals me and is the TV equivalent of internet service’s “click through chasing”. Article’s within it are made with an eye on “you have to see that piece!” mentality from BOTH sides of the argument. It’s a Richard Littlejohn on the television. A show designed purely to be “spoken about”, good OR bad, which fuels it’s own fire of fuckwittery. It has less and less to do with either cars or with motoring every series. In fact, it seems to exist purely to rile good people and to add fuel to the fire of morons. It is heavily immoral in my eyes and goes against much of what the BBC was built to represent.

I have friends who have appeared on the show in one of their “skin of his teeth” races between the mighty motorcar in a strange terrain and some “experts” of the odd terrain. I won’t say which particular “race” on here, but they both told me that the presenter involved wasn’t there for the first two days. It was during those 2 days that ALL of the exterior shots of the race were filmed. The shots where the mighty motorcar battled gallantly against the elements supposedly driven by the “expert” presenter. Then, on the 3rd day, the “star” arrived, filmed a few hours of internal shots and was promptly helicoptered away, presumably to film a ‘science documentary’ for the hard of learning wearing more hairspray than Joan Collins c1986.

The race was then presented on the show as a noble battle in which the car won, or lost, by a nose after it looked like all was lost then like the car was miles ahead only to find out it was level pegging as they approached the line. Ooh! The tension….. Did their scriptwriter used to write those Tony The Tiger Frostie’s ads?

In all fairness, this was made to entertain idiots. And it succeeded. Most viewers were probably thrilled by the pseudo-seat-of-the-pants spectacle and were none the wiser. In fact, some probably knew it didn’t happen exactly as it was presented to them on film but didn’t care. No harm done really. It was just a silly fake race between an expert and an idiot.

BUT… if you take this engineered and pre-scripted approach to “entertaining” and then use it to enforce a political agenda then it takes on a far more sinister angle. As George Monbiot reported in today’s Guardian the show has seen fit to take this formula of “entertaining” films and use it to make a bullshit propaganda film to promote the show’s Climate Change Denial agenda and attack, directly, manufacturers of electric cars. They purposely ran down most of the car’s battery prior to starting the film, a fact proven by the car’s onboard records, JUST to insinuate in their film that electric cars are unreliable and a waste of time.

Last Sunday, an episode of Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and James May setting off for Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, 60 miles away. The car unexpectedly ran out of charge when they got to Lincoln, and had to be pushed. They concluded that “electric cars are not the future”.

But it wasn’t unexpected: Nissan has a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery. This shows that, while the company delivered the car to Top Gear fully charged, the programme-makers ran the battery down before Clarkson and May set off, until only 40% of the charge was left. Moreover, they must have known this, as the electronic display tells the driver how many miles’ worth of electricity they have, and the sat-nav tells them if they don’t have enough charge to reach their destination. In this case it told them – before they set out on their 60-mile journey – that they had 30 miles’ worth of electricity. But, as Ben Webster of the Times reported earlier this week, “at no point were viewers told that the battery had been more than half empty at the start of the trip.”

It gets worse. As Webster points out, in order to stage a breakdown in Lincoln, “it appeared that the Leaf was driven in loops for more than 10 miles in Lincoln until the battery was flat.”

When Jeremy Clarkson was challenged about this, he admitted that he knew the car had only a small charge before he set out. But, he said: “That’s how TV works”. Not on the BBC it isn’t, or not unless your programme is called Top Gear.

At a time when the fossil fuel crisis is causing panic in Govenments across the world and at a time when wars are waged for these very resources Top Gear has deemed it necessary to undermine the work of manufacturers trying to find a way to circumnavigate the problem in a safe and beneficial way. Whether the car is amazing or not, to purposefully undermine the entire concept purely to fit with their infantile and long running “anyone who drives a Prius is a dickhead” campaign is not only immoral it breaks the BBC code on many levels. Not least this part of the charter:

We will be rigorous in establishing the truth of the story and well informed when explaining it. Our specialist expertise will bring authority and analysis to the complex world in which we live

If they want to pretend that a race across Loch Ness between a Ford Fiesta on waterskis and a Transit with wings is a tight run thing, or that a Range Rover would beat a Sherman Tank in a race across the breeding grounds of rare birds in the name of “providing entertainment” then fine, I won’t watch it personally, but many will. Not a problem. But to abuse their position as “experts” of motoring to push their own political agenda is an appalling misuse of the BBC’s airtime and a massive violation of their code.

None of which even touches on their series of sexist and racist flavoured idiocy about Mexicans, Truck Drivers, women in general and anyone who dares to not agree with their “ooh! Motorcars are ace” infantile drivel.

Overseas sales have been keeping this show dragging along for years now. I’m sure that cash is most welcome in times like this. But personally, I’d rather the BBC put a motoring programme bout motoring on the TV and let Clarkson and his gimp go and spout bile elsewhere. I haven’t watched the show in years, I urge you to do the same.

Moreover, I insist you watch this clip of Stewart Lee discussing the multitude of other reasons why Top Gear is utterly deplorable. Not only briliantly accurate it is one of the best stand up routines of recent years.



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Banksy? Meh! There are so many better street artists than Banksy. To me he’s just a graphic designer with an eye for marketing. Pseudo-intelligent Sixth-Form sloganeering if you ask me. I’m not ANTI Banksy, he’s an above average graff artist. But the amount of misappropriated depth applied to his work by those who know little more about the form than Banksy’s own work irks.

Artists like Futura, Blu D-Face, Osgemeos, Cisma, Kami, PixelPhil, Plug, Invader and countless more have been making the work Banksy’s is based on for years before he hit the big time. The only difference was that Banksy added a (clumsy) ironic political slant to their pieces and reapplied them as his own.

I’m not accusing him of plagiarism here. The form has always reused it’s components and developed them. Take DLux’s stencil piece (left), same shit, different city.  What I am saying is that if you remove the brutal 6th form politics student slogans from his work, it’s all been done before by people who did it for the love of, not the fame. More pertinently, check french artist Blek Le Rat‘s work below. These pieces are from 1983-84, WAY before Banksy even knew what photoshop was. He stenciled political pieces in Belfast in the height of the troubles. He invented everything Banksy (the nouveau version) is.

For socio-political satire in street art and I’d much rather view the work of Brek Le Rat or  manhattan’s Swoon ( For the form iteslf I’d always rather see Futura 2000 or Boris Tellegen ( And for sheer creative lunacy, effort, craft and love I could watch Blu’s work all day. The Blu piece in the video above is INSANE. That shit transcends the form, takes it to whole new place, level and audience. And it uses derelict places, finding beauty in destruction.

Good luck Banksy. But people should realise there’s more to street art than a child with a bomb, rain under an umbrella, a caveman with fastfood or any other postcard juxtaposition he botches together in an oh so ironic way.

For the record, in 1998, some 15 years AFTER Brek Le Rat’s stenciling work began the below is what (Robin) Banksy was painting. Just below that is an interview he gave for Dirty Graphics & Strange Characters book the same year.

I actually spoke to Banksy several times during this period and have to say, he was a thoroughly nice, charming and very likable man. In fact, I gave him his first London showspace (via Daddy G) and had several of his canvases on show for some time in the SoHo area. They were of sharks swimming in shopping centres and other “urban” alienation themed pieces.

I’m far from hating on him. He’s brought the artform into a wider audience’s view. But the (clever) marketing used to so so has put him up as the leader of the pack where in my opinion he’s far from it.

Anyway, good luck to all street artists. Including Banksy. And thanks to @Scaloni for his input.

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It was early 1994. I’d only recently discovered the mindblowing PJ Harvey album, Rid Of Me and was slowly realising that my obsession with electronica, HipHop and Mo’ Wax of the previous few years was making me miss some genuinely creative new rock music. I was working for a subsidiary of the Polygram group, the guys at Island sent me this knowing I’d fallen in love with the hitherto androgynous & mysterious PJ Harvey. They thought I’d like it. I still do 17 years later. In fact, this is probably my most listened to LP of all time. We’ve been through a lot together. The sticker on the front had 2 reviews on it. One has stuck in my mind as one of my favourite, succinct reviews of all time:

“dEUS’ LP is pretentious arthouse wank. But, as a fan of art and wanking, I love it. 5*”

I’m always a sucker for experimental music, whatever the genre. So a Belgian avant garde rock outfit banging out dissonant violin & double bass lead, distorted, arthouse hardcore rock with a splash of jazz was right up my alley. This LP STILL stands up as a brilliant piece even now. But back in 94 it was insane. It opened my ears up to a whole new world of musical possibilities.

It was fresh. As much as I love Nevermind that was the pinnacle of a pop-hardcore movement, it was almost formulaic, especially once every band tried to be them. That’s not a dig. I love that LP. But the rock landscape was awash with clones of their sound. Bands like Pearl Jam did nothing for me. Bland, generic drivel. Hardcore noisy rock felt like it was going backwards. It was like Daydream Nation had never happened.

But along came dEUS. From fucking Belgium! It’s a curveball of an LP in so many ways. From the opening violin riffs of the brilliant Suds & Soda it grips in a way that The Pixies would be proud of. The following 50 minutes of deconstructed melodies is a must have LP (I say 50 minutes as the last 2 tracks have never existed to me, I deny their existence like I do that of The Phantom Menace and co, they feel like a couple of stabs at singles). This is a masterclass of exploring a form of music and stretching its boundaries. Slipping from in your face distorted power to subtle layers of despairing warmth and smooth melodies that come crashing down around you. The production, structure and ambition still impress me today.

I’m amazed at how few people I know have even heard of dEUS, let alone this LP. In Suds & Soda, Jigsaw You, Morticia’s Chair and the epic WCS (1st Draft) this is the band at their very best. I saw them play it in The Astoria around 96 and Camden’s Electric Ballroom c98,  still two of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.

Apparently there’s now a Deluxe Edition available. I didnt buy it. The original needs no improvement. In short, GO BUY IT!


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Little Joy is as hard to pin down as it is to put down. The LP spans many genres without really sounding like any of them. It’s like Mogwai, Brian Eno and Battles doing sombre techno structured covers of The Fall songs on traditional rock instruments. Washes of post-punk/postrock mood drift over stripped down repetitive percussive beats and droning bass, guitars chip in with stabbing dissonant riffs. Vocals are used sparingly and effectively, the largely instrumental tracks are a joy and the restrained, sparse vocals manage to take them on to a different level.

Young chugs along like a bare bones Battles track before the drummer has his moment in the spotlight, his impressive solo kicks it up a gear and flows straight into Turn where the vocals tell us “I turn… I turn to see her…. We passed”. Sunbear brings tense intro chords stabbing away like The Fall in their pomp then the bass cuts loose.

Ignore the whimsical and misleading band name. I had this down as some kind of “alternative dance” band ala Caribou etc before I listened to it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My Disco are no formulaic rehash. Wonderful.

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One of the most underrated  albums this side of punk rock. Cited by PJ Harvey as one of her all time favourite LPs and by Godspeed! & Mogwai as a massive influence on their conceptions.

This is a bleak, desolate LP of angular dissonance that Gang Of Four would be proud of with occasional, unexpected slabs of savage power piled on top. Abrasive layers of grating geometric guitar drag the tension up, threatening to unleash hell at any point before sinking back into the mist. It’s that constant refusal to fully let rip when you most expect it that makes this album. It ratchets up the tension levels, awkward structural pauses leave you hanging, waiting for the drop that doesn’t come before another layer takes the reins does the same. Then when you think it’s safe to relax they smack you in the earholes with a huge release of noise. A delicate balancing act between alienating restraint and forceful brutality. Of building and releasing.

It’s amazing to think that this is now 20 years old as it still sounds so unique and heavily relevant. It hasn’t aged at all, but then it never sounded like it’s era in the first place. It’s too clean, structured and tight to be grunge yet too repressed to be metal. This “odd” sound is probably why it’s initial sales were poor. Reviewers (and listeners) didn’t get it at first. I know I didn’t. I liked it, but I struggled to fully appreciate it until a fair few listens. Initially I wished they’d just get on with it, let fly with the power sections, it felt muzzled. But as I got to know it I realised just how ingenious and powerful that voltage denial was.

The instrumental tracks were written and rehearsed in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky in 1990 and the lyrics and album were produced over just 4 days, at a cost to the band’s health. One member ended up in a psychiatric hospital while singer Brian McMahan was physically sick while recording the screaming chorus of Good Morning Captain over and over again.

The name Slint has become a euphemism for the kind of postcore proggy anti-prog soundscapes that their devotees Mogwai and Godspeed! are now renowned for. For me, at least, this LP almost singlehandedly created that movement. Very highly recommend that you get this LP and stick with it. Hugely rewarding.

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Inspired by watching the minimal film classics Hell In The Pacific and Two Lane Blacktop I made this Hiphop mixtape. Tracks were selected according to the “Less Is More” adage adhered to by both films.

Most of the tracks on here are stripped down Hiphop at it’s best. From Anti Pop Consortium all the way back to Scott La Rock and Boogie Down Productions. Real Hiphop, no gimmicky samples or shouty ranting. Just beats, bass and flows.

If a track can hold it’s own using only those 3 components then it’s real Hiphop in my book. So many “artists” these days rely on over produced, sample led backing tracks (Kanye, P Diddy, Jay Z etc for example). They bore me rigid. Though, sales figures suggest that’s not the consensus of the masses. But mass market figures don’t mean jack shit. After all, if you use figures like that then Xfactor and Britain’s Got Talent are the”best” TV shows ever made. They’re not.

Anyway, listen or download via the Soundcloud link below. Enjoy

1. DJ Babu – Classix

2. Alton Ellis – Rock STeady

3. Nancy Des Rose & Kool Keith – Supreme Sound

4. Anti Pop Consortium – Disorientation

5. Anti Pop Consortium & DJ Vadim – Timeless Void

6. Analog Brothers – Analog Anihilator Vs Silver Surfer

7. Anti Pop Consortium & Dj Vadim – Masters Of The Scratch

8. Earl Sweatshirt – Earl

9. Kool Keith – I Don’t Belive You

10. DJ Babu – Tempreezy

11. DJ Babu – Ebbtide

12. Clipse – Ride Around Shining

13. Kool Keith – Lived In The Projects

14. Eric B & Rakim – Chinese Arithmetic

15. Kool Keith – I’m A Tell U

16. Big L – ’98 Freestyle

17. Boogie Down Productions – Remix For P Is Free

18. Smif N Wessun – Sound Bwoy Burreli (Instrumental)

19. The Cool Kids – Black Mags

20. Big L – Ebonics

21. Kool Keith – I’m Seein’ Robots

22 Heat Sensor ft M Sayyid – Gravy

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Back in the 60’s & 70’s music lost some of it’s brightest lights. Many people who’s work influences music still today tragically passed away in their prime. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones and Ron McKernan of the Grateful Dead. Each one of them was only 27 years old when they died.

In December 1985, somewhere between the deaths of those legends and Kurt Cobain (who was also aged 27), a man called Dennes Boon had a fever and was lying down in the back of a battered tour van. His band had just supported REM. At their request. REM like them so much they had gone against their own label’s wishes to book them. They had won a very powerful ally and friend in Michael Stipe. The world was at their feet.

Boon’s girlfriend was driving them back to San Pedro, California when, somewhere along the I-10 Highway in the Arizona Desert, she fell asleep at the wheel. The van careered off the road, rolled and the prostrate “D” Boon was flung from the vehicle’s back doors. The impact broke his neck, killing him instantly. He was twenty seven years old.

To me, his death was every bit as devastating to music as the death of any of those mentioned because it signalled the end of the Minutemen, there and then. At the very point that the band were almost singlehandedly de-constructing the burgeoning US Hardcore & Punk from the frontline. While their (brilliant) contemporaries were going harder, darker, deeper, fuzzier and faster the Minutemen were tearing punk apart and dropping lumps of latin music, classical guitar, funk and free form jazz structure into it. This looks absurd on paper, but it sounds like it was always meant to be that way. They were unique, yet genre defining. And, after that crash, we will never know where they would have taken this new approach to.

The other two members reformed some years later (as Firehose) but they never got close to the magic of anything they did with Minutemen. I’m not suggesting they were passengers on Boon’s ride. Not in the slightest. The basslines of Mike Watt and snapped shut drumming of George Hurley is there for all to hear. It’s as integral to the overall Minutemen sound as anything Boon did himself. But the Minutemen was always a sum of all three parts.

The band formed proper in 1980 when childhood friends Watt & Boon added Hurley to the line up. Their name is derived from the Minutemen Militia (American Revolutionary War) and not from the commonly held belief that it referenced their standard track length (confirmed by Watt in the 2005 documentary We Jam Econo). They released various EPs & LPs before Double Nickels On The Dime came out on SST Records in 1984.

What makes this LP so very special in my eyes is that, although it is clearly a Hardcore/Punk based record it’s so incredibly difficult to pin down. It changes all the time, from one eclectic influence to another, from political satire to straight up humour, from brute force to incredible beauty. And yet, it all sounds like it’s one style. This is a coming together of 3 exceptional musicians, lots of very different approaches and a huge array of influences that together make something very unique.

On top of the band members input this LP was produced by Ethan James, famed for working with Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Jane’s Addiction and many many more emergent bands. His influence shouldn’t be underestimated.

The Album opens with “D’s car jam” and “Theatre”, a mix of Hardcore and funk pulled together over tight jazz forms before winding it’s way into “Vietnam”‘s Gang Of Four-esque-post-punk-funk territory and onto a sublime piece of classical guitar in “Cohesion”. That clears the air before “It’s Expected I’m Gone” throws a jazz bomb at Credence Clearwater Revival. All that and we’re not even 8 minutes in!

The whole album continues to move effortlessly between sounds and moods for over an hour. This ramshackle collection of songs is a whole so it’s nigh on impossible to pick out singular highlights though everyone in the world will know “Corona” after Jackass used it as their theme. I’m a huge fan of Television so have always had a soft spot for “Jesus & Tequila” and it’s Venus’ tinge. And “West Germany” & “Storm In My House” always catch my ears. But that will change again next listen. All these years later and I’m still finding hidden corners in this collection.

As for the mysterious “27” conspiracy. Load of rubbish in my opinion. But it certainly throws up a worthy list of hugely influential artists that D Boon’s name can comfortably sit among. Add Robert Johnson to that list. A tragic, bizzare anomaly.

RIP D Boon. Sadly missed

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I’ve lived in Edinburgh for over a decade now and can count on the fingers of one hand how many times we’ve had snow settle on the ground, let alone enough to get out and shred on. The year before last that changed. I don’t know if it’s as a result of Global Warming but the last two winters have seen Edinburgh get hit hard by snow. In December 2010 it started snowing and just didn’t stop for almost a month.

During that time it melted a bit, then froze, then snowed again several times meaning we had a pretty solid icy base to keep all the fresh snow that fell in good condition. Chuck some beer in the mix and you’ve got street shredding on tap.

My mate, who for now we’ll call Idiot, and I started going to the pub fully tooled up with snowboard gear and boards ready for some action as soon as we’d got some dutch courage. There were some insane spots to hit. Unfortunately, on the first big night out we hiked up to the top of Arthur’s Seat (Edinburgh’s urban “mountain”) in total darkness only to find the snow was SO deep we could barely ride the shallowish inclines back down.

We went back to the pub where Guinness reminded me of a spot Id seen in the summer. An abandoned building site visible from one of Edinburgh’s hills. It was fenced off all the way round but with the help of an upended barrier we managed to climb in. And there it was….. a field of fresh, untouched, knee-deep snow with massive earth structures aplenty to climb and slide and old school graffiti backdrops.

We only had a basic DSLR with no tripod so we spent more time shredding than we did worrying about photos. But I did make sure I’d at least tried to snap a few of Idiot before we left. He told me he’d done the same. All of the photos so far are the ones I took of him. The following are of me.

He managed to take 20 odd shots of nothing, either completely mistiming it or with the lens cap on. And the only 2 he got of me were minus my head, out of focus and basically shit. He’s an idiot.

So when he landed this one, slid out and whacked his face off the drainpipe on the side of the alley…. Karma.

Good times. Fingers crossed for some more city snow this coming winter!


I’m a firm believer in the old adage “Less Is More” in all aspects of creativity. If a piece of art can stand alone without any superfluous layers, stripped back to it’s core elements, and still be art then it has truly succeeded. From the simplistic brilliance of Pong to the bare bones of the Blues, less is always more in my book.

Rarely has this been better exemplified in film than by John Boorman(Deliverance, Point Blank)’s criminally overlooked 1968 epic Hell In The Pacific. Only two actors appear throughout, filmed almost entirely on one tiny enclosed beach and with only a handful of lines of dialogue, it is testament to Boorman’s skills as a director that such power results. The direction is matched by fine performances from two giants of the era, a stark score and some claustrophobic cinematography.

The story is simple. Two sworn enemies find themselves stranded on a tiny Pacific island where, away from the war that put them there, they wage a mini-war against each other and then with their own prejudices. A game of cat and mouse ensues and the pendulum swings one way then the other before realisation sets in that they need each other if they are to escape. The lack of common language means communicating these complex stages of emotion is an often brutal process. But the lack of dialogue AND lack of any female presence and subsequent sexual angle means their relationship and personal battle is stripped back to it’s very essence.

In the 1960s there were few names bigger in their respective countries than Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. Both deserve praise for taking on these risky roles at that stage of their career. As a non Japanese speaker, for me Toshiro Mifune’s (Seven Samurai, Paper Tiger & many Akira Kurosawa classics) performance stands out. I have no idea what he’s saying throughout the entire film, so the fact that he communicates so much to the audience speaks volumes in itself. Boorman’s decision to not use subtitles was brave but in my opinion adds so much to the film. It makes Marvin’s  plight so much more vivid to the English speaking audience, as it does vice versa for Mifune’s japanese audience (I guess).

Conrad Hall’s cinematography veers from idyllic paradise to suffocating isolation while Lalo Schifrin delivers a potent and uncharacteristically minimalist score which allows the silence and the waves space to hypnotise.

I could wax lyrical here about the underlying metaphors for mankind’s appetite for destruction. But to do so would mean discussing THAT ending and spoiling this for those who’ve not seen it. This is a film that really should be watched with no prior knowledge of the plot intricacies.

I love this film. It should get FAR more attention than it does. Maybe that’s because of the utterly shit title, or Lee Marvin’s falling out of vogue in the 70s. But whatever the reason, this film is a timeless classic and a display of 5 big guns firing in their creative primes.

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8½/10. Psycho-symphonic

Noir filmscore ambience meets concrete guitars dropping the biggest slabs of noise you’ve ever heard with thunderous power. This band should be huge off the back of this LP. It’s one of the most accomplished pieces of metal I’ve heard in some time.

The album is billed as an homage to Eve, the original first lady and is basically one movement split into 5 segments. Not that you’ll notice the transitions, it flows from start to finish as one huge 45 minute piece of addictive noise.

Twisting from chilling ambient soundscapes into juggernaut riff-laden slabs that drag you along by the brain. That makes it sound far simpler than it actually is. This is a constructed, complex body of noise, devoid of cliches or laziness, everything here is considered and engineered to perfection.

I dont know much about the infinitely changing genres of Metal these days. Doom, Death, Stoner…. whatever. This to me is just plain real Metal. And possibly the best example of it I own.

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9/10. Bleak, bruiser.

For many years I’ve been listening to Daydream Nation, 13 Songs, Young Team and Lift Your Antenna, amongst many others, wondering where all these droning, monotonously bleak works of beautiful rambling soundscapes would take me to next. But I never seemed to find any successors. No more examples of that level of craft came my way for a long time. I was stuck with these LPs, looking upon them as some kind of endgame, an evolutionary musical dead end.

I always knew that those albums weren’t really the end. But I couldn’t find anything to hold a torch to their stark power. Everything seemed either too melodic, or too bland. I didnt know what pigeon hole people had put the likes of Mogwai, Godspeed, Sonic Youth etc into. I didnt want to know. I hate bracketing art like that. It restricts and governs it. I really didn’t know where to start looking again. So I waited.

Instead I spent years ploughing through Madlib, DOOM, Zeke, Lee Perry’s back catalogue or a host of other genres. I delved back into Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Authechre, Bowie. I’d put this “post rock” or whatever it is known as, firmly on the back burner.

Just as my copy of Daydream Nation was finally about to disintegrate into overworked dust I stumbled into this LP. I can honestly say, I don’t think I have ever been so instantly blown away by a new album. Ever. Right from the point the first chords of No Words/No Thoughts (below) whacked me in the ears like Mogwai’s Herod did so many years before I knew this was what I’d been waiting for.

Long, drawn out, droning riffs hammered from a single note dragged me down into the Swans’ peculiar world. Soothing pulses calmed everything down before the vocals crept up behind me with some hacked off, industrial guitar drones and kicked the fuck out of my head for the best part of 10 minutes. Wonderful. Almost 30 years since Michael Gira chose the band’s name beacuse “”Swans are majestic, beautiful looking creatures. With really ugly temperaments” they still fit the bill, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Dont get me wrong, it isnt all hard, brutal music. This LP is a beautiful, subtle, crafted masterpiece with many moments of melodic, warm, almost folk/country tinged songwriting. But these moments just serve to make you relax as waves of bleak white guitar noise and deconstructed percussion slide under the melody and drag you back into the hypnotic dirge all over again. It’s an overwhelming LP that commands all of your attention or none at all.

This is head and shoulders my LP of the moment. I have developed a very unhealthy obsession, finding my headphones virtually glued to me wherever I be. The sheer level of craftmanship is astounding, dragging 7 minute tracks out of smashing a single note inside out over and over is no mean feat.

The band’s modus operandi has always been to create music that is at once “soul-uplifting and body-destroying”. An intention they still manage to this day. The highest compliment I can pay this album is to compare it with one of the most powerful, bleakly beautiful books of our times. The similarities with Cormac McCarthy’s epic, The Road, are startling. Much like the book you’ll need a bit of time to yourself after you finish this LP, it’ll drag you down to a dark place but fill you with hope. And you’ll be immensely glad you experienced it.


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How Much Does “Free” News Really Cost?

Will British Capitalism Bring Us Our Own Glenn Becks & Sarah Palins? 

I get more news and opinion via Twitter than any other single source. I like how it allows me to choose WHO gives me my news. This is important to me. And I like that it’s free. I don’t pay for any of it. Which means more money to spend on Guinness, music & films. This is also imprtant to me. I like Guinness.

An article recently caught my eye on Twitter. Entitled “Robot Cat Football Decapitation”. Who wouldn’t click on that! It was, as advertised, a robotic cat playing football so badly that it fell over and lost it’s head. It was a bit shit. But I watched it.

A few seconds later I saw “Angelina Jolie might return for Salt sequel“. I haven’t seen Salt, not really my cup of tea. But still I wondered why a politically driven publication such as The Guardian was posting this inane drivel in it’s news stream?

Intrigued, I clicked it. The story was also as advertised. A non-story about Mrs Pitt being undecided as to whether or not she’ll play the lead in a sequel to a film I hadn’t seen.

This annoyed me. I had selected the Guardian as one of my news providers as, politics aside, I felt I could trust them to provide me quality news items that would inform and educate me. And yet here they were thinking that I might give a shit about a pop actress possibly making a pop film.

The Robot Cat link had been posted by The Telegraph, another publication I held in high enough regard to trust to bring me intelligent news. Of course I replied to both posts with some witty “is this really news?” sentiment. I hoped they might register said annoyance, think about the nature of their posts in future and return to important and intelligent news. In short, I’d “had a word”.

But a force way more quantifiable and demanding than the annoyance of a random sweary bloke with a keyboard is controlling their online output. A force known as click throughs.

If I had been intrigued enough to absent mindedly click on the Robot Cat piece then I imagine I was not alone. I bet thousands of people, all just as bored as I was, clicked and chuckled as the shit cat fell over and his shit head rolled further than his shit shot did.

The Online Editor must have been rubbing his hands together at my boredom, before ordering staff to find another “Robot Cat” and informing the advertisers that the advert they’d placed on the page had been seen by XXX thousand idiots. “Same again tomorrow, sir?”

This annoyed me more than  Mrs Pitt’s non-film or the crap cat. The fact that money is already so directly influencing the respectable end of news publication is a frightening and brutally apparent fact.

Although these two cases are bland and innocent they raise questions. Like how long before a hypothetical mobile phone manufacturer spending hundreds of thousands in advertising threatens to withdraw said cash if a link to phone induced brain damage is reported? Or a German Beansprout outlet does likewise over health scares?

But something else dawned on me. Something bigger than even Salt II or the Robot Cat FA Cup Final….. I didn’t pay for ANY of this news. So what right did I have to get all sanctimonious about it when I was getting a 100% “free” service?

After all, someone somewhere along the line had to pay the journalist to write about the shit film and the shit cat. And if that wasn’t me then the paper needed to raise revenue somehow. This whole quandary felt very now. A most modern mess unfolding before my eyes.

However, it’s not. In 1928 a young man called Eric Blair had his very first article published. It was a letter called “A Farthing Newspaper” and GKs Weekly ran it. Mr Blair would of course, go on to have many articles published under the pseudonym George Orwell.

In this essay, Orwell discussed the multitude of genuinely free press operating in Paris at the time. From Communist Propaganda to Royalist papers, in every language imaginable.

His main concern was that a new paper had emerged and was selling very well at a mere fraction of the price of any other paper.

The Ami du Peuple is a Paris newspaper. It was established about six months ago, and it has achieved something really strange and remarkable in the world where everything is a “sensation,” by being sold at ten centimes, or rather less than a farthing the copy. It is a healthy, full-size sheet, with news, articles, and cartoons quite up to the usual standard, and with a turn for sport, murders, nationalist sentiment and anti-German propaganda. Nothing is abnormal about it except its price.

He went on to explain that despite it’s manifesto claiming to be of “pure public spirit, not for profit” The Ami du Peuple was in fact owned by a “great industrialist capitalist” and that it’s politics were “anti-radical and anti-socialist, of the goodwill-in-industry” and clearly covertly pomoting it’s owner’s propaganda while he hid in supposed anonymity.

But this disguised sentiment is not what troubled Orwell. Above all else it was the price that worried him most. He went on:

… all that is beside the point at this moment. The important questions, obviously, are these: Does the Ami du Peuple pay its way? And if so, how?

The second question is the one that really matters. Since the march of progress is going in the direction of always bigger and nastier trusts, any departure is worth noticing which brings us nearer to that day when the newspaper will be simply a sheet of advertisement and propaganda, with a little well-censored news to sugar the pill. 

Now Orwell may have been more concerned whether news and information was to become driven by political forces in order to mislead the masses than he was about the threat of Robot Cat Football inanity. Rightly so. And in that respect, at this point the UK online press offers varied and balanced opinions from all sides of most issues. From the Guardian to the Telegraph, the Daily Mail to The Mirror. Whatever your leaning the choices and voices are intact, for now.

But my fear is this, if we continue to demand news be given to us for free via onlne sources and buy less hard copy newspapers, then some publications will fall. It’s inevitable. We will be left with fewer, consolidated sources of news of which almost all will be exclusively online.

Without circulation sales these papers will have to look for new ways to raise revenue. In short, advertising. Online advertising. This will soon be the news “papers'” principle means of income.

As hard copy sales continue to plummet Robot Cat Football pieces will become golden nuggets in their revenue streams. And as the papers become more dependent on online advertisers’ monies their advertisers will demand more and more click through spikes like this. But novelty news click-baiting is just the tip of the iceberg. There are far more dangerous online problems on the horizon.

A well used, successful, click-baiting method, and the one that really troubles me, is what I call the “Littlejohn”. You know the piece, “heartfelt” caveat followed by sensationalist bile and then an “I didnt mean THAT” disclaimer. Designed not to inform, but purely to whip up a storm and cause a furore.

This is where online news services have changed the game. In the old days we simply didnt read “the other side”. Now, we all check them like morbid drivers self-righteously rubbernecking the scene of a car crash. What’s more we send the link on in “Have you seen this idiot?” emails and tweets.

In doing so we make the opinions of such people incredibly important to the advertisers. And the advertisers are incredibly important to the editors. You see where this is going…! Whatever your political views may be we are inversely giving power to the very people we oppose. Before you know it, the UK press will be rammed with yet more sensationalist Littejohns. Bile spouting arseholes will be the written press’s new darlings. Would Jan Moir have kept her job in the days prior to the ability to gauge accurate readership levels? Instead of being an embarassment, she became a big earner for her paper.

TV news networks are also reliant on advertising revenue and they will look for their own walking, talking versions of these poison pens…. enter Glenn Beck. We’ll be looking back on Kay Burly in “good old days” terms! This style is already clearly evident in the way many radio stations operate. Talksport presenters for instance, always pairs, eschew their own opinions in order to appear polarised and “spark debate”. They intentionally provoke their listeners into calling the show to “put them straight”.

The most frightening stage to this will be when the political spin doctors catch on. Always on the lookout for ways to seduce the public, our political parties will undoubtedly notice the popularity of these polarising figures. As such they’ll be looking for their political counterparts, enter British Sarah Palins. A horrible thought.

So, what should we do? This is a period of transition for the press the world over, not just here in the UK. And it’s a landscape changing by the day. George Orwell spotted this potential situation long before the robot cat kicked his first ball. And he predicted it will “crowd out of existence one or more of the less prosperous papers…..  they will presumably either be destroyed, or they will survive by imitating the tactics of the Ami du Peuple. Hence every paper of this kind, whatever its intentions, is the enemy of free speech.

So if free online news is slowly morphing into “the enemy of free speech” that would leave paywall protected The Times as our only worthy news source and Rupert Murdoch the guardian of freedom. Oh. Ironic? Yep. Confused? Totally.

In all honesty I cant see the world at large choosing to pay for news ever again. Not when it is so readily accessible in it’s “free” form from such reliable sources as the BBC. And that aside, Murdoch put up the paywall to create an uber-viewer that high end advertisers crave. So he’s way ahead of this click game, unsurprisingly.

One thing that we can say for sure n this changing climate is that, although Capitalism will directly, or indirectly, exert increasing pressure as to the content of news it will always be us clicking a mouse button that will truly control what we read.

People really need to grasp this click concept quickly and start using the internet accordingly.

It’s our surfing that is shaping the very way our news is changing, right now.

Think, before every click.

UPDATE: 23/06/2011 Since writing this article The Guardian have announced that due to massive losses from their hardcopy based business plan they are switching their focus to a stronger online emphasis. Private Eye report (pictured) that they are diverting 80% of their resources to online news. Will this result on daily Agelina Jolie updates? I hope not. It will certainly result in more click-baiting though. Worrying times for the integrity of news delivey across the board.

Apologies to The Guardian & The Telegraph. They were merely the papers that triggered this and are far from the worst exponents of the art. I happily read both regularly and suggest you do too.

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9½/10. Brain & Rib Tickler.

Some say the Swallow flying or the call of the Cuckoo is the first sign of summer. But for me, every year without fail, this album announces the sunshine. I cant help it. As soon as the sun comes out instinct takes over and I play this LP start to finish, over and over.

The music itself is amazing. But do some digging on the lyrics and this LP becomes a fascinating window to the past. Tales of deaths all over Kingston from (knowingly?) infected flour to pre-Hiphop gang fight gun deaths and celebration of black pioneers like Muhammed Ali etc. If you only ever own one Reggae/Dub LP, THIS is the one. An indisputable classic, it was famously name checked by Johnny Rotten on radio in 1978 and became a big punk/reggae crossover hit.

It’s a seminal, all-star 1978 album. Produced by Lee Scratch Perry, King Tubby, Upsetter & Scientist and featuring Horace Andy, Gregory Isaacs and John Holt’s vocals. I couldnt even begin to describe it, so listen:

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