Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Four Stroke Engine

So I finally got to hear out single properly last night. Went round Ed's house and popped it on his £200 turntable through his BBC monitor grade speakers, and my god, what a difference a decent stereo makes. For the first time, I listened to it and didn't hear the mistakes, didn't hear the pops and phase differences, I just heard... "WOW!!! This sounds THIS BIG!!!!" and actually felt proud, like I'd really accomplished something.

And I needed that, after the rubbish review I'd read by some shouty teenager who just doesn't Get. It. (It's one thing to not like a piece of music, or think it's not your thing. But it's quite another to get something TOTALLY FACTUALLY WRONG and that's what pisses me off.) I just don't want to read that kind of crap because it winds me up and pisses me off - that's why I asked my thicker-skinned bandmate to do the round up this time.

But then I picked up a copy of MusicMart (music magazine done by the Sound On Sound people, geared towards gigging musicians rather than recording ones) and read the most wonderful, amazing, *getting it* review/profile of Truck. A technical music mag which is not totally demeaning and patronising towards females! Hallelujah! I feel like I've waited mine whole life for this.

I'm not in the greatest of minds today. Woke up at 5am with the STRESSTRESSTRESS and couldn't get back to sleep for ages, even with the help of warm milk. I'm SHITTING MYSELF over this BBC taping thing tonight. The two things I hate most in the world - being photographed and being interviewed, both at the same time. But I suppose it's been a long time since I was this nervous about a gig. About the same time as the last time I really *enjoyed* a gig. Perhaps the nerves are an essential part of what makes it exciting.

But still, the annoying things grate. Having to lug several stone of laptop, guitar and pedals on the train at rush hour is not fun. But one of my bandmates did ring and ask if she needed to bring the amp. And another ran around and did all the work booking a last minute studio to play in. It's nice having some of the pressure taken off me.

It's one of the weird thing about being in a leadership role. One of the most effective management skills you can master is the art of delegation. Which I'm rubbish at. This is something I've learned at work. I have this attitude that if it takes longer to explain something to someone else, I might as well do it myself. If I have to ask someone more than once, I'll do it myself. If they try, and get it wrong... you get the picture.

But sometimes I guess it takes pulling back and walking away - and if you're lucky, someone else will actually step forward and take up the slack. That's the person to delegate to, and indeed, the person you should promote in an effective business.

We need to discuss how to implement this in a band setting...

Oh, and to cheer me up, here's an underage Benjamin:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Lamest Thing I've Ever Done

OK, I actually went to Rough Trade to buy our single. Heart pounding with anticipation, I leafed through the singles (found a couple of Secret Machines rarities, which I bought as a cover) but couldn't find it. Oh no! Do I have the wrong day? Is it yet ANOTHER record company f*ck-up?

No, there it is, behind the counter. Shuffle over. Hand over my singles, then have to ask "And that one, too..." head down, trying very hard not to be recognised as there's a big picture of my head on the cover and it's the lamest thing ever to buy your own single.

I have it! It's mine! It's an object, an artefact! Does the joy of holding it in mine own hot little hands outweight all the annoyance and crap we went through putting it out? To be honest, I don't even see the stupid logo. I just see the excitement (drunkenness?) on our faces.

And I get back to the office to find a message in my inbox from Benjamin, saying he reckons Noyfriend "is more Sadier/Gaines than Dinger/Rother. that's not a bad thing, though." Yes, another "sounds like Stereolab". I think I want "Sounds like Stereolab" carved on my tombstone.

The Cambridge Museum Of Obsolete Technology

Went off to Cambridge for the weekend to hang out with TISSP! and see the Palimpsest Festival and other assorted spacerock japes. (Read: drink so much tequila you can't see straight.)

TISSP! lives in a beautiful house in a weird gated community just off the River Cam. I noticed a gigantic Victorian chimneystack in his back garden, like something out of Lord of the Rings. "What's that?" I ask. "It's the Cambridge Museum Of Obsolete Technology" he replies, which sounds like the best thing ever.

Anyway, yes, we went to the folk festival. I felt a bit left out as I did not have a beard and resolved to grow one as quickly as possible. First off, the venue... All Saints Church. The most incredibly beautiful and psychedelic full-on Arts and Crafts Masterpiece I've ever seen.

Most of it was very, very lovely - a mixture of Proper Folk (plenty of gruesome, bloody murder ballads), experimental NOIZE and, err... Free Jazz. I'm not going to go into great detail (there was talk that we might review it) but A Hawk And A Hacksaw and Directing Hand, my hat's off to you.

Sunburned Hand Of The Man, however (the band I actually went to see) - my god, what a disappointment. The immediately set me on the defensive with this utterly philosophically unsound crap about "the difference between Religion and Spirituality" which was such BOLLOCKS theologically and metaphorically (my mum and I had a good rant about it the next day) that when they started shouting "Can I get a hallelujah?" my response was "No, you bloody well can't. Not from me."

It's funny how many of the English will put up with this crap, or even find it charming because they think it's ironic or kitschy. Not realising that not only is it deadly serious, but this is exactly the sort of Fundamentalist Bullshit that is poisoning the US at the moment.

Fortunately, Frances was just as pissed off by them, so she and AMP and I absconded to the nearest pub to sink shots of tequila and rant about magazines. Hurrah! At some point in the after-gig drinking, this photo was taken, but I've no memory whatsoever of it:

Sunday morning was hangovers and Mean Beans and getting woken up by the most amazing TOOT-TOOT from next door, look over and there are STEAM ENGINES being steamed up mere yards from the house. Have to go over and investigate, and yes, steam engines and huffing machines and strange Cambridge Instruments that no one could figure out what they do (including one that turned out to be an electron scanning microscope - though not as cool as the one my Science Granny had). Some of them would power up, some of them wouldn't - you pays your money, you takes your chances.

But oh! The noise! The heat and the steam and the puffing and the huffing and the awe-insiring massive spinning flywheels and the tubes and pipes and shiny brass and bright red and green paint. Is there anything in the world that sounds better than a steam engine in full swing? I don't think so.

Friday, August 25, 2006

You Feel Hope As Much As You Feel Hopelessness

I cannot get the School of Seven Bells CD that Benjamin gave me yesterday out of my computer.

Although My Cabal is still my favourite, For Kalaja Mari (I think that's how it's spelled, his handwriting is kinda swhirly there) makes me weep, with tears of joy and relief, and the sense that *someone* out there knows how it feels to be lost in a black depression, and knows exactly the right things to say (or rather, sing, in Alley Deheza's rich, silken purr) to pull you out.

When I'm sad, when I'm low, I just want someone to ring me and play this song down the line at me, like a telegram from heaven. The smooth, steady drone, and then the way a chorus of angel voices explode and intertwine and weave a blanket from the lines "You don't have to be depressed..." (I wish I could remember the rest, but I'm in a web cafe right now, will repost them next week.)

The blackness, the despair that lowers over your life like a blind - beauty is the answer. And this CD is beauty in its purest form.

I feel almost disloyal, but I love this record more than TSM. It's somehow gentler, not so emotionally bleak or musically relentless. Or maybe I'm just sexist and prefer female vocalists. But honestly, there is something about the yin and yang intertwine of partnerships between male and female that makes music ultimately more satisfying and complete and fulfilling to me.

Anyway, uh, yeah. Benjamin is an absolute sweetheart, BTW. Sometimes meeting your idols doesn't have to be traumatic, but can be an uplifting and inspiring experience. Can't say the same thing for his brother, though, who is the kind of bloke who treads on your feet then gets the humpty and glares at you for pointing out that your toes DARE to be under his divine shoes. But Benjamin... swoon. A gentleman, and a lovely human being. And was so kind as to write a whole bunch of guitar pedal advice in my diary. He actually took the time to explain the sonic difference between a Wah and a Low-Pass Filter and why I needed the latter. I will treasure this more than any autograph...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


You know, there are some things that just never cease to be funny, that make you crease up with such giggles that you tear up, no matter how many times you've seen them.

This is one of them:

Vorsprung Durch Technik

I was in the midst of writing out a whiney emo post about how Sad And Lonely I am, and how it feels like everyone around me wants me to die, and how no one ever emails or calls just to ask how I am, they just want to yell at me about whatever they think I've written on my blog, when honestly, I don't have anywhere else or anyone else to talk to about stuff, when I was interrupted by some efficient young banker who wanted to give me one of these:

...and talk to me about my international banking needs. And is going to give a free iPod Nano in exchange for signing up for a transAtlantic UK/US bank account whereby my mum and I can transfer money to one another free of charge, and I can deposit cheques and cash in either currency. And get a credit card and an overdraft, neither of which I've ever had in my life!

Sometimes it really takes that little to make you happy. A USB Coffeeport Hub. The most useful useless gadget ever. What utter genius actually made this happen, when Spacemen Z and I have been joking about it for years? No more endless cups of tea going cold while I work on my symphonies. And no more having to unplug the MIDI Keyboard to plug in a data stick - or the free iPod I'm getting with the account!

OK, I'm still sad and lonely and it feels like those around want me to die, but at least my mochaccino is warm. I think I'll celebrate with a cookie:

(Thanks, Mel.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

We Spend A Lot Of Time Playing Music Together, We Don't Spend A Lot Of Time Talking About It

Taking a break from a flamewar on ILX about how all people who "travel extensively without much money" must be trustafarians...

Another Baby Silvertooth quote. His words bounce around my head, because I'm curious to find out about the people who make music that I admire. How do they approach it, is it instinctual or is it intellectual, or both? Analytical or Experimental? (Well, it's a curious word, that one, because in a musical sense, it's supposed to mean free, no boundaries, all over the place, chaotic, uncontrolled, when actual Scientific experiments are incredibly ordered and controlled affairs.)

I've been trying to think about the very beginnings, the genesis, the origins of my own musical experience.

Being Musical is something I've been all my life. I can't remember learning how to read (I learned to read so early) but I can remember learning how to read music, the coloured orbs and the scribbly lines suddenly matching up with the coloured stickers on my recorder, and Eureeka! My life would never be the same. (Especially since I developped a terrible habit of cutting class to hang out in the music room.)

It was Maths Granny who encouraged my musical development, taught me "Oh When The Saints Go Marching In" on the gigantic Hammond organ that dominated her flat. My dad, also, was musical - I can remember a few sessions with his Kay guitar (I loved it because it had my intial on it) and his Beatles songbook. He would hold the chord shapes with his left hand, and I would strum and sing.

There was church choir. My mother insisted with her indomitable will that there should be a girls' choir, her utter tonedeafness blinding her to the conventional wisdom that girls' voices don't sound as pure as boys', and it was there that I fell in love with the sounded of blended female voices. There were piano lessons, which I loathed and refused to practise until I discovered Improvisation. Violin lessons, flute lessons - so many lessons, but I could never be disciplined to stick with anything.

I can remember the turning point, as a rebellious, troubled 15 year old. I was in hospital. Can't remember which session - I always seemed to be in hospital, or being threatened with being put in hospital, for suicide attempts, running away, drinking, refusing to go to school. I've never told anyone this before. A local community theatre group decided to put on a production to entertain the nutjobs. It was Fame. Yeah, I wanna live forever, and all that crap. I was MESMERISED. Not because it was good, but because it was SO rubbish; I was outraged that *this* was the depiction of the creative urges that were ripping me apart. (Maybe that latter part is hindsight.)

I snapped back to life, I made up my mind to get better, get released, get OUT, talked to my therapist and announced that I wanted to play the bass. Why bass? I dunno. Blame Sid Vicious, blame John Taylor, blame Kim Gordon and Kira from Black Flag. I got a part-time job to pay for the thing (with the encouragement and help of my father, who was just delighted that I'd found a reason to live again) and a book of tab. The bass was soon switched for guitar after Joining A Band. (A gang of tough Albany girls who were into "Duran Duran, the Ramones and The Fabulous Stains" - I'd tagged along to an audition as moral support for a friend, and walked off with the group.)

Of course, having said I could play guitar, I then had to learn to play the thing. It took a two week holiday on Lake George, stuck in a cabin because it rained most of the time. I had my dad's Kay guitar, and the old Beatles tab book. I knew how Beatles songs were supposed to sound, and I knew what the scribbly black notes looked like on the page. I twisted and contorted my fingers into all kinds of knots until the sounds that came out of the guitar were recognisable as Ticket To Ride, Norwegian Wood or Michelle.

It was like learning to fly. More important than learning to read, or learning to walk, or learning to drive, or anything. Nothing else in my life could possibly compare. My guitar went *everywhere* with me for the next few years.

I knew I could write songs, even before I'd done it, because it had to be just like those old improvisation sessions on the piano. In the old parlor, under the watchful eye of my mum's Chagalls and my dad's books on physics, I sat with my new bandmates, holding the guitar, tremulous with excitement. It was completely silent, in the way that that old house could sometimes be, except for the ticking of my dad's ITT clock (given to him for some accomplishment at work or other, it told the time all over the world - a fascinating thing to children with relatives in all those far-off places). I picked up on the beat of the clock, read my bandmate's scribbled lyrics, and suddenly it sprang into three dimensional life, a tune, harmonies, an arrangement.

It was rubbish, a sentimental 16 year old's Bo Diddley rip-off, (Boy, you know what we could be (come on, love me) - so why don't you love me like you should? (come on love me) but it meant something indescribable to me. It was like the first time I took LSD - it opened a door in my head, that I could never close again. The songs found me, no matter where I was, or what I was doing, the songs would come and pester me, wrap themselves around my head like those old tales from Catholic School about souls in Limbo, waiting to be born. I know it sounds like the most pretentious thing in the world, but it was no longer a case of *wanting* to be a musician or a songwriter or whatever, it became a case of *having* to be.

What Does It Feel Like, To Cry?

Bits of this movie keep coming back to me, chopped up and garbled. The director asked what does it feel like? (To play? To write? I don't remember.) Baby Silvertooth just looked at him, like "what kind of a question is that?" and responded "I don't know. What does it feel like to cry?"

What does it feel like to play? I don't even know any more. My erstwhile boss, Everett True once asked me something similar during the weirdest interview I've ever done - "What do you think about when you're playing?" I don't know. I don't think. When it's on, when it's really *ON*, in the groove, in the pocket, you don't think at all. It's like meditation. It often happens when I write/record/Reason (Reason is the new 4-tracking) - that I will look up and several hours have passed with no memory whatsoever.

Lately, onstage, it hasn't been like that. It's been, frankly, that odd combination of boring and stressful that I associate with horrible temp jobs. This is not natural. In the past I've had bad gigs or two, but now it feels like the boring stressful gigs are the norm, and the good, transcendent ones are the rare thing.

What's missing? I don't know. For a while, I was worried that it might be chemical, that it's my life-saving, soul-sapping medication. It's destroyed my sex drive - I can look at pretty boys and think "mmm, sexy" but it never takes off into actual desire. It's ruined my ability to drink, as I never get that "take off", that rush, that buzz any more. (Though maybe this is a good thing.) Has it destroyed my ability to enjoy making music? I don't think so. Because see above - I still get that "take-off" into ecstacy through the writing process.

What changed? (Whaaaaatttt changed? Except my love...)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dear Reader

Why do you read this anyway? I mean, honestly.

Do you read this because you're actually interested in me, as a person, interested in how I am, what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, what goes on in my head, whether I'm OK, whether I'm in pain, or what?

Or are you reading in the hopes of catching gossip on what's going on in the band? Or maybe in the hope or terror that I'll write what I really feel about *you*?

Or are you just some bored office worker, rubbernecking at the catastrophe ballet?

I mean, honestly, because I don't know.

There Are No Mistakes, Only Happy Accidents

A quiet weekend in. I didn't do a thing I was supposed to do, didn't record or write songs, didn't write my Plan B article about TSM's Marfa Film, didn't even go to Emma's birthday party.

I woke up on Saturday, looked at the wreckage of my room, and just thought "I can't carry on living like this." I've been in this house eight months now and it still looks like I've only just moved in. So I walked down to Unikob (ran into Katie there, who was also feeing creative), bought some new paintbrushes, and set about finishing my mural.

I enjoy painting. It's got the same obsessive zen qualities that sequencing and recording have, except it doesn't come with control-Z. You have to mean every mark, because there's no way of fixing it when it goes wrong. It's terrifying, but also freeing. You make a mistake, and it turns to one of Bob Ross's happy accidents, changing the original image to something that fits around the error. It's a completely different way of working from working with computers.

Painted the details on the house, psychedelic cornrows on purple mountains, giant fluffy clouds, and even a friendly UFO leaving contrails across the sky. And as I finished, I recognised the scene. It's an abstracted version of the view across the pond to the house where I grew up, though the willow fronds have become peacock feathers, and the house has been dragged ass-backwards through the fourth dimension so that my bedroom faces the pond, and been Anglicised, it's still recognisably the house I spent my teens in. Which, I suppose, is only natural, as it's the place I lived the longest (ten years), and considering how long I spend on the far banks of that pond, with my imaginary friends and my imaginary pseudo-historical epics.

I moved the bed back, rearranged the furniture, put up my Indian elephant screen and some pictures, and now it looks like My Bedroom. All that's missing is to cover the ceiling with sheets to make it more tent-like, and hang all my jewellery from a fishnet over my bed.

And then I woke up on Sunday morning with my back in spasms. Stress, dragging myself and gear around London all week, and finally moving furniture - I suppose it was only to be expected. Took ibuprofen and merlot in equal measure, and lay in bed reading John Barrow (how elegantly he debunked the entire Roger Penrose book I'm been struggling through for the past month in a single footnote) and catching my diary up to date.

Did a bit of CBT on the dilemma I've found myself in WRT the band. Worked my way through everything, and came up with four different options - only two of which are really possible. And the more I think on it, the more I realise that the die has been cast, the decision has already been made. I just want to take a week or so to let it sink in before I break the news to the others.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Battle Hymn For The Wounded Mathematician

Is that gash in your leg
Really why you have stopped?
'Cause I've noticed all the others
Though they're gashed, they're still going
'Cause I feel like the real reason
That you're quitting, that you're admitting
That you've lost all the will to battle on

Will the fight for our sanity
Be the fight of our lives?
Now that we've lost all the reasons
That we thought that we had

Still the battle that we're in
Rages on till the end
With explosions, wounds are open
Sights and smells, eyes and noses
But the thought that went unspoken
Was understanding that you're broken
Still the last volunteer battles on

Battles on
Battles on

-The Flaming Lips

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's a Bad Wind That Don't Blow Somebody Some Good

I had the mother of all stress dreams last night. Woke up in an utter panic, only to realise that none of it was true. Phew. Never been so relieved to wake up early.

First, I was at the record release party. This was in a grotty basement somewhere, and no one was there except the three of us (AMP was late, of course) and {Lou Liverlust} and a random family of his friends. I was having a miserable time, so I excused myself and left, only to face a bollocking about this.

Got home, and found my courtyard was now a construction site. Builders are stomping back and forth looking in my windows, as the works are only two feet away (leaving a narrow passage to get to the back flat). I discover that this is going to be a GIANT EIGHT STORY CARPARK, which will not just block out my sun but asphyxiate me with carbon monoxide. The resale value of my house has plummeted.

Went to work, and I found myself sacked - for reasons that were never quite clear. I had a mad scramble to rescue (abscond with?) my notebooks, and a sense of vindication that "They'll be screwed come month end!" - but as I returned home, I realised that since I had been sacked in the middle of the month, even with holiday time, I wouldn't have enough money to pay the mortgage. On the flat whose resale value had plummeted to no longer cover the mortgage.


But got into work to find ILX back up, and Texan Mel had written this amusing mad lib to cheer me up:

The devestating effects? A Bad Wind That Don't Blow Somebody Some Good. Poor Josh.

So that is why the Sun Shines Out Of His Behind. It's clearly methane production. Tee hee hee.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Total Perspective Vortex

OK, today my squeefest is over, and I feel slightly ashamed and embarrassed, like a hormonal hangover. I don't know what ended it, brought back down to earth by a post on their board, a fan who had done some paintings and taken them to get signed. I just cringed with embarrassment. Sure, I've drawn loads of popstars, even got them published, but I can't imagine showing them to the sitter. OK, that's not strictly true - in one case, the musicians in question asked me to do their cover art.

But... it's more like a sense of intimacy has been violated. Of course one develops a kind of imaginary relationship with one's idol, based on the intimacy one finds with their music. But it just brought back to earth with a jolt the point that it is a one-way intimacy.*

Last night was a total Shimuras gigglefest. Everyone was in filthy moods, the dirty jokes flying back and forth (I was actually reduced to a laughing fit so bad I started choking by the alternate interpretation of "Ten Silver Drops". (Think about it. Think 10CC.)) I kinda stopped trying to be the Organised One, just lay back and let them get on with it, and it was fine. A bit rough, but more enjoyable than when I feel like I have to be The Boss. Doesn't really help the sense of not belonging any more, though.

Waited forever for the train to get home, studying the adverts in the tube station. There's a current series - took a moment to realise that they're ads for a mobile phone service - which have just captured my imagination, if not my aesthetics. They're done in this soft, magical paisley, swhirling, glowing fronds like a cross between a mushroom trip and those glowing trails that particle accelerators leave behind. The one we were looking at featured an older woman leading a younger woman down this mystical looking forest path... I was joking "Is that her mother, her drug dealer, or a witch, taking her to a myserious coming of age ceremony in the woods?" All three seemed possible - it was just interesting to see an ad for technology featuring dynamics between women of different generations.

*Or, rather, the intimacy is with other fans. It is not with the Idol. The relationship with the Idol is an Einsteinian light-cone Causal Relationship, not a Quantum Entangled State.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lookit Him!

If ILX doesn't come back online soon, I'm going to die.

Not to mention that my actual database what I do for my job is down, too.

God, work is killing my BRANE. Remember when all my posts were thoughtful musings on aesthetics, the nature of consciousness and the future of art? And now all I do is post pictures of Los Bros Curtis and squeeeee how pretty they are.

What do you mean, I always just squeeeeed about whatever boy I fancied at time? Didn't I used to have a brain? And interests? And a life? Didn't I?

Baby Silvertooth Again

This must stop. He actually looks like my *mum* in this picture.

Oh My!

That is all.

Baby Silvertooth

ILX is still down. I'm bored out of my mind, and it's been pissing down with rain for days now. So here is a totally gratuitous picture of TSM to cheer me up:

I had a brilliant weekend. The problem with having a good weekend is when it's all over, and you have to come back down to earth and go back to work and the endless insufferable boredom.

Friday night I went out with The Texan, visiting her down in New Cross, which is much nicer than I remember it being. (Or perhaps it's just the adorableness of the foetal art students.) Despite arriving at entirely wrong train station, we ate at Paul McCartney's favourite chippie (apparently) and managed to get unfeasibly drunk before heading off to see Luxembourg. There was much collapsing in drunken giggles, trying to convince Alux that he should wear a prog rock cape onstage, etc. ("No, I'm minimalist!" insists the man who was wearing a funfur coat and vinyl trousers when I first met him), gossip about A Town Called Dallas, and leaping about dancing to amazing 80s music (Magazine, Adam Ant, Prince) written before the Foetal DJ was even born... (how to feel old)

The Texan and her boyfriend are just, like, the sweetest couple in the world. Being perpetually terminally single, I tend to be a bit of a misanthrope around People In Relationships, but they're really one of those couples that make me feel like there is hope for the world, especially since I know what kind of relationship crap C has been through in the past.

It wasn't even hard to get home, oh the joys of South London nightbusses. Look forward to doing it again frequently.

Woken in haze of hangover by TISSP! wanting to know where was a good place to have a picnic in the rain. Actually, I didn't have the faintest clue. I suggested picnicking in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, but I was too hungover to meet them, so they went to Hyde Park instead.

I took them to see Marfa Mystery Lights: A Concert For The UFOs (yes, I saw it again. I had to. I am such an obsessive geek. But it really *was* better the second time around, when I was able to stop wondering if something was going to happen, or try to concentrate on catching the subtitles, and I was able to just sit back and enjoy it and let the music wash over me.) and then immediately TISSP! wanted to go and lick windows up and down Denmark Street, looking for pedals. I think I've made a convert to TSM, as he'd never actually heard them before, but found them right up his (spacerock) alley. I found the Prunes And Custard (as reccomended by both Pashmina and Baby Silvertooth) but it was £165, so it stayed in the shop:

TISSP!'s girlfriend just gave up on us, and went off to Foyle's while we terrorised guitar shop staff. We found her about two hours later, in the dread Mathematics section on the First Floor, which has claimed so much of my money recently. We chatted a bit about Feynman and Penrose, and again, there was that lovely feeling, watching her and TISSP! together, like "awww, what a lovely couple."

(But then again, about a day later, that triggers the reaction of "But where's MINE?!?!?" Sigh.)

Had my mum on the phone Sunday afternoon, in a bit of the mizzies herself, bitching about how The Church has just used her for nearly ten years of free labour, but won't give her the actual qualificiations to get a real, paying job. It seems so unfair.

I was going to install Reason 3 (thanks, G00blar), but instead I got caught up watching the rain (lovely rain, heavy August cloudburst rain, with hail) and writing about Baby Silvertooth for no apparent reason. This must stop.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Scrobble Me This

OK, this is the bit where it starts to get odd. I was checking out the UK Watercooler's page*, and saw a link to the Shimura's page, so for a laff I checked it out. Pretty cool, wow, people are, like, actually listening to our music. Rock on.

And then I clicked on the fans page. I mean, I went once before when AMP was showing me she'd set it up or something, and I pretty much knew everyone on it - either personally, through the band, or through ILX. And now suddenly, there's all these people there, listening to us, that I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE.

I know this is the way it's supposed to happen when you're a band, that there should come a point where you get fans outside your immediate cirle. But still, it's weird to see them all gathered in one place, with their pictures, and links to the other music they like. I'm not sure if it's a headfuck or an ego massage, when you click on their charts, and it's either "wow, you've got great taste, I'm flattered" or "Eeuuw, what is all this twee shite? You don't really think we're like that, do you?". Either way, it's weird. Like something that you, as an artist, shouldn't really have access to.

*No, I haven't joined, because I cannot install scrobbling software on my work 'puter, and have no interweb at home.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Benjamin's Infinite Head

God, I need to get laid. I'm sniggering like a schoolgirl at the symbolism in Benjmain's signature/self portrait:


The Vintner's Lipogram suggested that ILX sell T-shirts to try and pay for a new server. This was, natch, my favourite design:

I mean, it's so obvious that Shimura Curves would not even EXIST without ILX.* I'm glad that we've become part of the (perceived) culture.

*I mean, quite literally, on every level. Three of the four of us met on ILX. The fourth, I met through a magazine that I was asked to write for, based on my contributions to ILM. Even our name was provided by the ex-boyfriend of one of us - whom she met through ILX.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Deluxe (Immer Wieder)

OK, in an attempt to cheer me up, the Krautrock Fairy visited me and left this in my YSI inbox.*

It utterly PWNS Das Geheimmaschines' version.

*the Harmonia album, that is, not a loaf of neverending bread.

Immer Wieder

I got home from work early last night, and had finished eating dinner by about 8. So I got my guitar out, just to play for pleasure, for the first time in what felt like ages. Came up with a pretty little riff, and next thing I knew, I had dragged out the keyboard and spent the rest of the evening arranging some sort of Massive Attack Goes Dronerock epic.

But then, after spending hours coccooned in my headphones, I was gripped with a sudden attack of utter existential dread. It's not like a focused depression, with a thoughtworm you can work your way through. It's more like an overwhelming sense of "there is no point, the sole ultimate purpose of all life from viruses to humans is to propell one's DNA into the next generation, and since I'm not going to do that, then why exist at all?"

These "meaning of life" conversations drive me to science, but I don't know if this is brought on by, or ameliorated by reading so many books about science. On the one hand, things like Chaos Theory are comforting, in that the tiniest event can have far-reaching consequences in the grand scheme of existence, so you don't ever know what your purpose is, but it may be something huge you have no idea that triggered.

But, as a friend pointed out, consequences are not the same as purpose.

This brings up discussion of Art, of creation, as substitute for the procreative act. "Ars longa, vita breva" and all that. But I think that's bollocks invented by men to make up for the fact that they have no wombs and do not physically bear children.

...and this morning, I logged onto ILX, a long-running internet community of which I am a member, and found that there have been some issues with server hosting and the whole thing either has to move or shut down. I've been on ILX longer than anything else in my life - longer than any job, or school, or relationship, or even band. So put that into perspective when I say that the potential Death Of ILX would affect me as seriously as the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or being sacked from a job.

I feel bereft, I feel like crying.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


OK, pet peeve time here.

Thinking about that "bad review". I mean, it's just plainly badly written, in the sort of college-age "I am going to be snotty and rude as a substitute for having an actual journalistic voice" so I'm not that bothered about it.

But I think what has thoughtwormed most about it is the description of us as being "warbling over two notes played repeatedly on a Casio keyboard" jibe. It's just factually incorrect. The thing is, if he had described us as "warbling over two notes played repeatedly on a guitar" I would have gone "Yeah! Dronerock! Best review ever!" Two notes were good enough for Neu! and Spacemen 3, so it's good enough for me!

I mean, it's more than just factually wrong. (There is not, and never has been a Casio involved. The instruments are a guitar, and a laptop - usually playing orchestral samples, or analogue synth emulators. Analogue synth emulators are about as "Casio" as Kraftwerk.)

For those of you who can't tell the difference, this is a Casio:

This is what we use, i.e. a Guitar and a Laptop:

Do they look anything alike to you?

See, "Casio" has a very specific denotation. And there's nothing specifically wrong with it - people like Tim Ten Yen and Fonda 500 rock actual Casio keyboards to great effect. But it's a very specific aesthetic, and not one that I think has anything in particular to do with our music.

However, where I get irritated, is the *connotation* of calling something "casio" in a perjorative sense, meaning cheap, tinny-sounding, badly programmed or using badly sampled default settings. It's a bit insulting, when you've spend hours sequencing a full string quartet, and programming specific waaaaaoooooowwwaaah Maelstrom squelches, to have this dismissed as "casio".

Not to mention the sense of "twee" attached, and invoked in said review. (And you know how I feel about the Tw**-word.) This might be splitting hairs, but although there is a pronounced C-86 element to our music, I would never call us... *twee*. We're too drunk, too lairy, too world-weary, too saucy, too ladies-about-town to really be twee. And kittens and fairies... fuck off! The Animal Collective write songs invoking "Meow... KITTIES!" but does anyone call them twee? No, coz they have beards.

Which just makes me think it's that cooler-than-thou boy "any kind of emotional depth and/or vulnerability and especially *girliness* in music must be twee" attitude. Which I really have no time for. (Especially as AMP has written the Best Riposte Ever to it.)

In Dreams, I Walked With You

Well, I was going to delete my account on That Popular Dating Site because I was just getting too depressed by it. No one was answering my messages, and the people who were randomly contacting me were a bit... well, no offense, but honestly, if that was what was on offer, I'd rather stay single thanks. But then that gets me thinking about what that says about me. Does that mean that I'm just the dregs of what's left when all the attractive women have partnered up? Gah.

And it increases the self loathing... well, the feeling that mine own body is actually increasingly utterly revolting to me. Too big, too bulbous, fleshy lumps of apendages, it gives me the creeps, especially in this weather where it starts to... leak, to seep, secretions and sweat, ugh! I call my body an "it" because I don't think of it as me.

But then some beardy boy with a guitar messages me about Calabai-Yau Spaces and I start to get my hopes up. (The hope is the worst part, Catty quoted once. I can live with the despair, I just can't live with the hope.)

I find it harder and harder to reach out and communiate with people. Just making the effort to speak is sometimes hard. I hang back, even with my friends, listening, observing when I can, sometimes just locked in my private world of deafness. It's not that I don't have things to say, I just can't be bothered to say them. And then it all builds up into the heap of resentment that no one is listening to me. Must try harder to break through the barriers.

I dreamed of TSM last night. They've been in my thoughts a lot, since I saw their Marfa Machine Music film. It's not just lust... though yes, it's aesthetic kind of lust where it actually hurts to look at someone, they are so beautiful. But a kind of identification. The way they speak to each other without words. The musical communication, of three people locked together by an unspeakable groove, a closeness that is even closer than the closeness of brothers. Benjamin speaks with his hands and the movements of his head, and Brandon adjusts his keyboard riff accordingly.

Josh explaining "I am grateful to have this band, it enables me to express myself..." and Brandon, accusing "but what are you expressing, what are you trying to say?" and Josh, defiant, retorting, stoned but not unintelligent "I am expressing myself!"

I dreamed about Brandon last night. We were in Central Park, sitting on the rocks that I once turned paisley when I was a Psychedelic Chameleon (read: tripping my face off, using chalk to colour the rocks the same paisley as my dress). We were just talking, having one of those interesting, twisting conversations that you have when you're on drugs. And then, abruptly, he tried to kiss me.

And I was actually quite indignant, protesting "what was that about? I thought we were just having a good time!" - I mean, after all, he's the wrong brother. (And a part of me feels guilty, almost unfaithful, which is absurd.)

I'm trying to figure out what it means. Am I annoyed by the invasion of animal intincts like lust and loneliness into my ordered intellectual life? Am I too nit-picky, turning down one of the authors of my favourite music, because he's not quite right, not The One?

Who knows. Who cares. I'm going to do some work and listen to some more Kraftwerk.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bad Reviews

To read, or not read, that is the question?

To have your ego ripped to pieces, or to drift on, not in ignorance, but with the nagging question of what exactly the reviewer *hated* pestering at you - which is worse?

Emsk says it's not just bad, but "wrong". I don't know - factually wrong, or just "not getting it" wrong? Either way, I don't think I care to know. Constructive criticism, that actually makes a fair point, you can learn from. But stuff that's just plain "wrong" usually says more about the prejudices of the reviewer than it does about your performance.

So I've asked not to see it. Is this "wimping out"?

Marketing vs. Publicity: FITE!

I'm torn. I went back to Jones Bootmaker and the shoes were even more beautiful than I remembered them. The suede so soft... but then I felt guilty for contemplating a luxury purchase when I have so many other things I need to get. An external hard drive and new microphone, for recording. A vaccuum cleaner and perhaps some shelves to clean up the seething morass of my flat. And then I felt a twinge of annoyance that in the past few years, whenever I get *any* extra money to spend on something nice, it seems to go on the band. Or, well, indirectly, as it goes on musical equipment. (Not even counting spending my summer holiday money on Truck.) OK, it's not like musical purchases don't benefit *me* or give me pleasure, but I should spend my next glee money on something else.

Anyway, the indie fanboys on ILX are having another pointless argument about whether any bands have sold any records without the benefit of "marketing". This, however, brought up the interesting question of whether there is a difference between "marketing" and "publicity". (With the typical snotty NOIZE children insisting that there wasn't.)

Putting aside indie cred for a second, actually, there is a huge semantic difference between the two words. Marketing refers to a very specific type of activity (apart from anything else, it usually involves a paid transaction, purchasing advertising or product placement or the like), while Publicity is a much broader concept. Also, they are at two different ends of the process. Marketing is an attempt to gain Publicity, while Publicity is the end result of the attention that one hopes to attract - by Marketing or other means. Marketing is a driving strategy, generated by record company or band down, while Publicity is something afforded by the Public up (be that Public the Media or the Consumers themselves, though in indie record circles the Media itself in question - in the form of fanzines, blogs etc. - are themselves the Consumers).

They are not at all synonymous, though yes, the aim of most Marketing is to attract Publicity. You can attain Publicity through many other means than Marketing. And all the Marketing in the world is not a guarantee of Publicity. (In fact, often the purpose of Marketing is to minimise the effect of "bad" Publicity!)

I find it irritating the way that indie boys seem to use the terms interchangably - usually in a disparraging sense. More precise language, please.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


OK, I can die happy now:

Maybe I should buy the boots in celebration?


Shoe Lust

So why is it that whenever you're trying desperately hard to save money because you are almost criminally short of funds and long on bills, you end up meeting a pair of shoes so beautiful that they practically scream I LOVE U I LOVE U I LOVE U BE MINE BE MINE YOU LOVE ME YOU KNOW IT TAKE ME HOME I AM BEAUTIFUL AND I DESERVE TO BE YOURS YOU KNOW YOU WANT ME.

I made the mistake of dropping in on a couple of "EXTREME 70% OFF EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!" sales on the walk to work this afternoon (it's end of month which means I'm on the 3pm to 11pm shift today). Of course, there was nothing decent left in my size, but oh, the new next season boots are making their appearance. Including these lovelies:

Half Chelsea Boot, half Desert Boot, all lovely, all 60s mod brown suede so lovely it took every ounce of self control not to hold them to my face and rub them against my cheeks in the shop.

I have so many things I have to buy ahead of new shoes. An external hard drive. A new microphone, and stand. A vaccuum cleaner. Shelves. But does anything else *really* make a woman happy the same way that a beautiful pair of new shoes makes you happy?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I Am A Rock

A slight case of the mizzies today. Multiple reasons for this... Being "taken aside and given a talking to" about some (somewhat negative) things I've expressed on ILX lately. Honestly, this just makes me feel like a recalcitrant child.

I mean, firstly it brings up issues of "private space" vs. "public space" and really, is there any difference, on the interweb? I try, these days, not to say anything on ILX that I would not say to someone in person. But then there is the question of archiving and availability. I hate the idea that everything I say, in the heat of the moment, or in a bad mood, or in jest, is somehow documented and preserved and going to be used against me, or even worse, as a Representative Of My Band. But I refuse to censor myself in what I find a necessary safety valve. I don't want my personality eroded by having to think of myself as representing some group all that time. It's absurd.

The other thing that's giving me the mizzies is I did something incredibly stupid, and re-signed up with that Popular Internet Dating Site. I don't know why I continue to do this, haven't I proved to myself enough that it's not for me? I had the mad idea that the only way to distract myself from being constantly annoyed by my band was to find something even MORE annoying - and clearly boyfriends are the most constant source of irritation and annoyance there are.

Only to get my hopes dashed yet again when no one I message responds, let alone getting any unsolicited messages from randoms. Why did I put my real age, real photos, actual opinions? Self esteem, slashed to threads. Why do I do this? Just to prove that I really am as ugly, unattractive, and unfanciable as I believe I am?

It's easier and less painful to just go on in my little cocoon of claiming not to care, of espousing celibacy, because at least then I don't get my hopes up.

I am a rock, I am island. And a rock never cries. And an island feels no pain. (Probably got those lyrics wrong, but I don't really care.)

Right, back to listening to those Marit Larsen MP3s. It's been a long time since I heard such perfect indie-pop.