Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category


New Dälek side-project: MRC Riddims

September 13, 2010

At the end of last year I reviewed an amazing gig by New Jersey noise/hip-hop act Dälek, when they played in front of pitifully few people in the Black Box, Belfast. Those that weren’t there missed a treat – “imagine Kevin Shields adding his guitar onslaught to Public Enemy” as I wrote at the time.

It seems the band’s DJ Oktopus has read the review because he just emailed me out of the blue. Bizarre. Reason being, he has a new project on the go called MRC Riddims. It’s a collaboration with a NYC-based producer called Merc – Oktopus is now in Berlin, and the track below features vocals from John Morrison. It’s kind of discordant, but much less so than the sheer mayhem of Dälek – here we have buzzsaw bass, siren beeps and a doozy of a head-nodding groove. I’m into the production more than the rhyming but it’s worth a listen and a download.


On ASIWYFA and the advantages of meeting your interviewees…

September 12, 2010

All photographs: ASIWYFA, photographed in Portrush for AU by Carrie Davenport

I had a few post-work pints with AU writers Francis Jones and John Freeman yesterday. Fra was the editor of the mag before me, and we’ve both been involved with it for about five years. His day job has changed but he still contributes regularly and is a good friend. John is from Manchester and found out about us through a mate of his who is obsessed with Duke Special – when we had Duke on the cover a couple of years ago, this guy got hold of a copy and showed it to John, who got in touch, pitched some work and soon became one of our main feature writers. However, he had never in his 40 years been to Northern Ireland so after interviewing Jeff Tweedy for our Wilco cover feature he took the opportunity to fly over for the band’s debut NI gig, at the Open House Festival. After innumberable phone calls and emails it was good to finally meet him.

Anyway, we were chatting about the mag and music writing in general, and got on to talk about the interviews we do. Being based in Belfast, most of our interviews are done on the phone – we are normally either previewing a gig to be played here, or the artist is promoting a new album. Either way, the interviewee is unlikely to be in Belfast. On certain occasions it does work out (sometimes we interview bands when they are here to play a gig, especially if they are about to release an album soon after) and of course we often interview bands from Northern Ireland.

Any music writer will tell you that a face-to-face interview is always preferable – there is only so much you can do with an interview based solely on words down a phone line. When you meet up with an interviewee, however, there is so much more to play with. Context, geography, even something as simple as facial expressions and body language make a huge difference.

With that in mind, and because I haven’t posted it up here yet, here’s an interview I did with And So I Watch You From Afar in March last year, just before their debut album came out. The photographer Carrie and I went to their own patch – Portrush – for the day and chatted to them in Barry’s Amusements, the Harbour Bar and on the beach. It was a fun day. Read the rest of this entry ?


Hello again…

August 31, 2010

Ah, I knew that would happen. A couple of months of relatively busy activity on my shiny new blog and then… silence. Pathetic. Anyway, I’ve been thinking I should blog again and I have good reason for it.

First of all, to tell you that the new issue of AU will be out at the weekend. It’s our first since the Wilco issue and our summer break and it’s full of all the usual good stuff plus a few new ideas and some new writers as well. I’ll blog again when it’s out (promise). In the meantime, you can read the last five issues on whatever you are using to read this by clicking here.

Secondly, I was sent this music video today and I feel compelled to share it. The act is Tropics (pictured above), a new signing to Planet Mu Records, who seem to be on a bit of a roll at the minute. The last new act I heard from them was Solar Bears, a Dublin duo whose debut album She Was Coloured In is fantastic in a Boards of Canada-go-Krautrock kind of way. Tropics operates in a similar kind of headspace – all dreamy and woozy, but rather than Kraut it’s got more of a heady disco feel to it, along the lines of Blondes and Teengirl Fantasy.

The video below is of ‘Soft Vision’, from an upcoming EP of the same name. It also works as 90s nostalgia, because it reminds me of a Timotei ad. Either way, it’s a winner.


AU Mag is now available on yr computer screens

February 22, 2010

Yeah, what Mr Headline said.

Click here to read the entire issue for nothing on screen.

And click here for more details on the new issue and the recent changes to the mag. Happily, several stockists have already run out of their allocations, and the feedback has been extremely positive.

Also, a list of stockists is gradually being added to here.


Space Dimension Controller – FACT Mix

February 22, 2010

I’m a massive fan of FACT Magazine, the London-based music website that has a refreshingly independent outlook on what they cover – they’re incredibly strong on various stripes of leftfield electronica and dance music, especially the whole bass music spectrum (dubstep, wonky, funky etc) but they basically just seem to cover whatever the hell they are into, which has made them big supporters of various successful indie and rock acts as well – The xx, Vampire Weekend, No Age and MGMT are a few that spring to mind – without feeling the need to provide blanket coverage.

But arguably the best part of the site is their formidably prolific mix series – 126 of the buggers so far, going back only a couple of years, and starring some of the biggest (Simian Mobile Disco, Andrew Weatherall, Autechre, Lindstrom) and freshest names in DJing.

The latest is one Jack Hamill, a Belfast prodigy I’ve been following for a couple of years as RL/VL (making ambient and beat-driven electronica) and now Space Dimension Controller, his Eighties-besotted electro/house/funk project. I’m listening to the mix as I type this, and it’s an excellent showcase for his sound, featuring several of his own productions (some unreleased) as well as vintage tuneage that transports you to a Detroit dancefloor, c.1988 (or something, I’m no expert on this stuff).

There’s also an interesting interview that may get Jack into trouble, as he’s rather disparaging about his home town and its electronic music scene. Bearing in mind that he’s released music on Acroplane Recordings and performed with a host of the city’s DJs and producers, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any backlash.

Aside from that, though, Jack’s talent is without question and I’m as sure as FACT are that he’s going to be a serious name to watch in the next year or two. He has an EP coming out on Dutch label Clone Records very soon, as well as a split release with Detroit youngster Kyle Hall. Plus, when I interviewed him for AU recently (p.14 here) he told me about some off-the-record future release info that sounds extremely exciting, and I’ve since heard even more from other sources. Watch this space.

The mix and interview live here.

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