30 Jul 2012

Quote of the day

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.   Carl Sagan

27 Jul 2012


Even lacking the will to power
I can generate this repeated fluctuation
Double the black outs
Half the capacity
Mindlessness and conspiracy

And then a
Slam on the back of the head
A boot falling
A hand pushing

And then a reaction
And then nothing except silence and pain
Grey fog lifts to reveal slobbering wrecks
Of humans
Staring, gormless

It is not us
It is never us
It is and has always been

26 Jul 2012

Quote of the day

Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people.
Arthur Schopenhauer

23 Jul 2012

The Art of Rap - review

I was excited to see this documentary existed and even more so, to attend a screening with a Director Q&A. The director in this case being Ice-T, who was joined onstage prior to the film by its two British Producers. The session didn’t prove too illuminating. I was hoping for more insight about the background context of the film and the filmmaking process, but as everyone was there for the film and time was getting on it wrapped up after about 30 minutes.

The movie began promisingly, if not predictably. Skyline/helicopter shots of New York in blown out colours (the West Coast would get it’s mention in the last quarter). The silent flight of the camera juxtaposed with the loud beats of the hip hop soundtrack. The directors stated that the film contained ‘no archive footage whatsoever’. I’m still unsure why this is. The repetitive nature of the visual is one of the major failings of the piece. Two hours of the same format got tiring, until I actually found myself losing focus on a subject I have loved for the last 25 years.

The film was ‘not about Hip Hop culture or the history of rap.’ they said. But again, to be informative to the layman, any documentary around this topic must surely cover as many of its diverse and varied proponents as it can within the running time without such restrictions? As a long time fan of the music I was gripped by much of what was on screen, but people wanting to discover something new, I feel might be left lacking.

On the point of omitting certain subjects entirely, an acknowledgment by Ice-T that they had to leave a lot of interviews on the cutting room floor made no real sense when even key figures such as Bambaataa or even Rakim, were given a mere 5 minutes screen time. While Grandmaster Cas featured prominently throughout due to – according to the directors ‘the fact he let us into his home and had a great deal to say’.

I did enjoy most of the interviews and stories probably never before heard. However there were so many missed opportunities from scene to scene that it became frustrating to watch. It felt like hip hop 101; an introduction for the uninitiated, rather than an intricate study of the artform’s various masters or huge diversity of styles, that people were expecting.

Too much focus was also given to the OG rappers of the 80’s, with some of the segments bordering on embarrassing. Where in some cases they would state unequivocally how they were still on top of the rhyme game (when in reality some are no longer recording). 
Redman was caught for interview while shopping for trainers, yet no mention was made of EPMD, under whom he came up into the rap game. And even when arriving on the West Coast, it was down mainly to Snoop and Dre to offer opinions and advice – rather than the film crew searching out a member of Funkdoobiest or the Pharcyde – two of the key groups in hip hop’s 'original style' category.

This is a film full of highlights and low points, an oftentimes contradictory account on rap and rap only according to its makers, yet featuring an interview with DJ Premier. And with absolutely no mention of contemporary masters of the form like Saul Williams or Aesop Rock, Black Thought or Reks, nor many of the standards such as De La, Kool G Rap or Big L (who was merely among those credited in the ‘RIP’ end credits) you can but hope that the question asked at the start of the night regarding a Blu Ray disc with extra footage will become reality. There is a lot more to see and hear.

20 Jul 2012

Death and sunflowers.

A tattoo of sunflowers around a baby’s face brings up thoughts of godlessness and anarchy from my stomach as each day wished away remains unformatted a broken line of roots a tree branch a stand alone synapse gradually diminishing reaching out to nothing but still we are sure there is a point and a reason and a living to be made and living to be done yet still we shoot at the clock hands bows and arrows and shade our eyes from sunlight while lightning offers no more solace than any other demon we face striking out at us for our blood and we sit and write it all down to escape to destroy to remain complicit and subjugated while the id plots and plans like the rancorous enemy we surely are because just as the sum total of our resentment builds to cataclysm and pyroclastic flow at no point does the thought of stopping and speaking the cold hard truth ever enter our conscious mind knowing as we do that a single syllable would surely spell the complete end of our cursed and privileged time upon this crumbling planet full stop or maybe not but would you be the first one to gamble on the positive to roll the dice with angel wings and see what number comes up because I cannot truly say I have the strength to back that play knowing as I do that everything I have seen and heard up until now will only go on repeating like a single vinyl groove worn down by a single edged diamond so I keep the dice in clenched fist secret and selfish with no chance of foreseeable loss no rain no crowds no gravity no death no sunflowers.

19 Jul 2012

Gareth McConnell

I have met a lot of photographers in my time, both via friends and though work, and there were regular occasions where I’d find the work immensely attractive only to meet the person behind the camera and discover they’re aloof, immodest, or at worst totally unlikeable. I guess it’s like hearing a band and after buying 3 albums finding out the lead songwriter is a fascist or something... 

At the other end of the scale is the rarity of seeing great art and then finding the artist is actually a really nice person. Gareth – who I haven’t seen in over 5 years since leaving my old job in Soho – was a gent. And his photos are great. He has an eye that is very close to what I would see in things when I was shooting so I think that drew me to a lot of his work in the beginning. They can be deceptively simple, but are always intruiging images. Website here.

17 Jul 2012

Quote of the Day

A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value. Isaac Asimov

Soundgarden at HRC

It was too much to ask for that the Friday here at Hyde Park would start out as it did for Pearl Jam back in 2010. That day was spent sitting around on the grass trying to keep the beers cold and avoid sunburn. You wouldn’t be sitting on anything this time round – the ground turned to a muddy slush the previous weekend having now been entirely covered with woodchip to soak up the water and any more incoming rain.

The clouds parted for long enough that Iggy didn’t get rained on, and the Stooges rocked the main stage for a short set including Gimme Danger, which I was thankful to finally hear live. The grey sky remained for a while as the stage was set for Soundgarden – this included someone hoovering centre stage for some reason – which got quite a few laughs.

The band took the stage dead on time and despite reports of the gig being undersold, still faced what looked to be a good 20,000 people. The set consisted of mostly mid-career songs, with a couple from Screaming Life/ Fopp and Louder than Love thrown in for good measure. A two song encore of Rusty cage and Slaves and Bulldozers pushed Cornell’s voice to the limits at the end, but he still maintained the scream that everyone was there to hear. 

Now I hate the rain, and have managed to go my whole life without standing ina muddy field to watch a band I love. The rain had been falling in gentle sheets on and off for the 2 hour plus set, so we were wet but not soaked through. Though watching Soundgarden – the archetypal Seattle band – in warm, wet weather, somehow fit the mood and at the same time enhanced it. No more so when 20,000 people sang ‘wont you come/and wash away the rain’ to Black Hole Sun.


12 Jul 2012


Mr Colin Peters. The first person I ever knew who owned the black/white - as opposed to the white/black - Adidas Superstars, back in like '92.


Mondo do the best poster variants. Click to Embiggen.

10 Jul 2012


I swear this blog goes from music to skateboarding and back again - omitting anything even vaguely resembling 'prose'. I need to change the name... Anyway, John Frusciante is one of my favourite muscicians and writers (sort of related to prose!) and his website is getting updated more on the run-up to the new album release. Check it. 

Aes Rock is in the building

Skelethon is out today. Here's an AR interview from Ladygunn. 
A site I'd never heard of but it looks nice and the interview's good, so read that shit.

9 Jul 2012

Paid in Full 25


Many of the online articles about Paid in Full being 25 years old this week, have begun with the ‘this makes me feel old’ line of thought.

The fact is, I remember this album coming out but was too young to appreciate it fully. I did however wait in anticipation for – and buy Follow the Leader on the day of release, and by that time had absorbed the classic material on Paid in Full a thousand times over.

This isn’t the place to discuss Rakim’s obvious relevance or contribution to not only rap, but hip hop culture overall. There are countless message boards and sites dealing with the never-ending back and forth of ‘Nas is better than/Biggie is better than/Jay is better than...’. Hell - I'm not even going to link up a YouTube clip. I just wanted to post a dedication to this album and Eric B and Rakim, who were without doubt, a massive part of me discovering who I was throughout my teenage years.

Suffice to say, Paid in Full contains some of the best lines, best rhymes, cadence, flow and proliferation of ideas in the history of hip hop music. And along with the Bomb Squad production on early PE, remains quite literally fresh every time you listen to it. It's so hard to pick just one example – but:

‘I'm not a regular competitor, first rhyme editor, Melody arranger, poet etcetera, Extra events, the grand finale like bonus, I am the man they call the microphonist...’

...nothing that dope could make me feel old.