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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Austra – 05 Home

The beginning of this track sounds a bit like an Adele pop song, but the mood shifts when the electronic drum track flicks on around 40 seconds in. There are pad synths, chorus effects and electronic bass – all swirling together to create an emotive and heavily layered song with plenty of chart appeal. There’s even some flute around 2.50 in – nice.

Cairo Pythian – A1.Unity_Mitford

The drum track on this sounds Streets-esque, but the vocals ensure this track is a world apart from Mike Skinner’s gang. I have to admit, I struggle a bit when a keyboard track follows a vocalists melody – it all sounds a bit too Mighty Boosh for me. This track kicks that habit (and perhaps the haircut) during the chorus, where each instrument begins to compliment rather than mirror. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s enough to win me back round.

H.Hawkline – Ghouls

Indie crunch guitar, with a distinctive vocal sound and a busy rhythm section. It’s suitably loose, with a sort of 60s New York vibe. There’s an interesting steel drum type sound that appears in the background around 1.40 in – which I really like – it’s subtle enough not to steal the limelight, but interesting enough to offer something new. Nice. The track’s longer than you generally see nowadays at 4.54, but it doesn’t seem to drag at all. It slows down and fades out, in a faintly Beatles fashion – which is nice.Hailu Mergu – Shemonmuanaye

Just not my cup of tea I’m afraid. It’s like two four year olds playing easy learning centre accordions to a drum machine. For nearly 7 minutes. Unacceptable.

Juan Atkins & Moritz Von Oswald – Mars Garden

Wow that’s deep bass. It really kicks – my headphones are struggling with it. Some interesting, game station fx in the first few minutes – with some decent drum loops. The track feels like it’s building to something, but I don’t think the something ever really comes. It would be good to hear this as part of the album it’s made for – it feels like it is setting the stage for something else. Nevertheless, I do like it.

The Orwells – 02 Other Voices (Dave Sitek Version)

Really great. 1960s sounding – it’s a Beatle reincarnate. The track has been produced loose – but the band feel tight. The guitar tracks are a little Wombats – punchy and poppy. The track feels like it was almost therapeutic for the band, and in 3 short minutes it’s all over. Top track to finish off the set.

David Yow – Thee Itch

The first 20 seconds sound like the start of a Tomb Raider soundtrack, but with the drum track from the House of Cards themetune. It’s gregorian chant-like, and all round quite interesting, with some rocky-horror discordant organ peppered throughout. Not a pop song, more film score – but fun nonetheless.

Deap Vally – Woman of Intention

I’ve heard a bit from Deap Vally already, but this one was a new one. Beautiful grungey guitar and a skillful rhythm section. The vocals are female rock songstress – with all the right warbles and squeaks. There’s a nice effected guitar around 1.41, that sounds a bit like it’s clipping through a compressor. Towards the end (around 2.40) the drum track shifts closer to a disco beat – driving the track forward nicely.

Kirin J Callinan – Love Delay

A tasty bit of crunchy guitar stabs with Morrissey-esque croon start this track off. There’s some strings somewhere up top in the mix, that crescendo with some dark and swirling guitar around 2 minutes – building building building and stop. In comes the band, fast paced drums and guitar fx that sound like the wind. Very nice.

Lloyd Cole – 03_Period Piece

Charming sort of Counting Crows band on this one, but with a vocal sound all Bob Dylan. The guitar parts lock together pretty perfectly, and the track sounds like a summer on the road. And that’s kind of its problem I think – it feels very familiar. It’s nice, but familiar territory.

Sarah Johns Music Party – Greenbud Really great start on this track. The percussion track sounds a little like some of the instrument experimentation Willy Mason was doing a year or two. The vocals are extremely pretty – like it was recorded in a fairy garden. It’s fresh and interesting – with elements of blues and folk mixed with electronic percussion. Really like this.

Coast to Coast – Waxahatchee

Another rock pop song this week. Very listenable – the vocal harmonies are graceful and the band is tight and noisy. It sounds like The Cranberries to me – which isn’t a bad place to be. If I had one gripe, it would be that it’s all over far too soon – finishing at 1.25 in and holding on the guitar until it crumbles to feedback.

An odd one this – I didn’t know just how small it was until I got there.

The theatre was preserved under boggy water for hundreds of years, until building work on Bankside uncovered the theatre.
I’m sure it was an amazing find, but the exhibition is pretty pointless.

When the theatre was discovered, archeologists worked to excavate the theatre – but due to timing and budgetary constraints (along with the fact the surrounding ground began to crack as it was slowly exposed to air), the theatre was covered over once more with water.

And that’s how it stands today. With the theatre’s perimeter highlighted by red strip lighting.

In fact, the whole exhibition is a temporary one – whilst they try and find the funds to restore the theatre properly.
And don’t you know it – the entire film you’re shown is a desperate plea for money – showing famous actors begging for money to camera, in an attempt to save England’s Rose (surely they could just club together and fund the excavation outright…?!)

Here’s some of the known Elizabethan theatres of the day:

FIVE FACTS (bit of a struggle with this one!)

#1. The Rose Theatre layout actually provided the inspiration for the main blueprints of the new Globe Theatre. So far so good, except the Globe and the Rose were huge rivals – competing every step of the way in Bankside’s theatre game.

#2. The discovery of the Rose was around my birthday, in the summer of 1989. Actors, scholars and the general public rallied to protect the site from demolition – with an atmosphere a bit like a street carnival. The rally even included the last public performance by Laurence Olivier.

#3. Elizabethan actor Edward Alleyn ran the theatre between 1592 and 1597, retiring a wealthy man and founding the College of God’s Gift (now Dulwich College.)

#4. The Rose’s success encouraged other theatres to be built on the Bankside, including the Swan in 1595 and the Globe in 1599.

#5. Despite being a very small space, Elizabethan audiences expected to be crowded – and it’s estimated that nearly 2500 people were squashed in for a single performance, with 700 of those each paying to squeeze into the yard for an admission rate of one penny.

1. Cartoon Museum 

2. Churchill War Rooms 
3. Cinema Museum 
4. Dennis Sever’s House 
5. Dr Johnson’s house 
6. Design Museum 
7. Down House 
8. The Geffrye Museum 
9. London Film Museum 
10. London Transport Museum 
11. Mansion House 
12. Brunel Museum 
13. Museum of the Order of St John 
14. Musical Museum 
15. Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
16. Pollock’s Toy Museum 
17. Rose Theatre exhibition 
18. Fashion and Textile Museum 
19. Royal College of Music Archives and Museum of Instruments 
20. Sherlock Holmes Museum 
21. Twinings Museum 
22. V&A Museum of Childhood 
23. Bank of England museum 
24. The Stephens Museum 

Location: The Wenlock Arms, N1
Date: 23.06.13


Name: Kohinoor
Brewery: Windsor & Eton
ABV: 4.5%

Taste: 4 / 5
Mouthfeel: 3 / 5
Finish: 4 / 5
Branding: 1.5 / 5

Name: American Pale Ale
Brewery: Long Man Brewery
ABV: 4.8%

Taste: 4 / 5
Mouthfeel: 3 / 5
Finish: 3 / 5
Branding: 0.5 / 5

First off the starting blocks is The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret.

It’s a ridiculously cool place – you have to climb a rickety winding staircase to get to it.

Really interestingly, the site had been untouched for nearly 100 years, until it was discovered in 1962 by a curious fellow who asked the question ‘where does that door up there actually go?!’
After getting a ladder and having a look, he found the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret – untouched and unconverted.

The staircase was partially rebuilt to allow access, with the first stop being the herb garret – a place that was used to dry out herbs for use in medicine.
Garret’s just another word for attic, but it sounds so much cooler – like a funk singer’s first name… ‘Herb Garret Harris’ perhaps.

The entire place is full of wonderful curiosities.

On a wall, they’d presented the ‘Resolutions passed for the good of the house’ – which I love. I think you could have ‘Resolutions passed for the good of the house’ for an agency. To be honest, I’m sure some of these wouldn’t even need to be adapted.
In the next room stands the Old Operating Theatre – an amazing space that would have housed surgeons, dressers and students as some poor old sod gets a limb amputated without any anesthetic.
I loved reading one quote (below) about just how enthused the students sounded – they really did want to learn. Maybe this was because it was such uncharted territory – surgery education was incredibly exciting because it was venturing into the unknown.
“Behind a second partition stood the pupils, packed like herrings in a barrel but not so quiet… The confusion and crushing was indeed at all times very great, especially when any operatoin of importance was to be performed, and I have often known even the floor so crowded that the surgeon could not operate until it had been partially cleared.” St Thomas surgeon John Flint South 1884.
The museum offered up some incredible facts – my favourites being:
FIVE FACTS
#1. Most good surgeons (like Robert Liston and John Hunter) could remove a limb in around 30 seconds. The best surgeon in Europe could remove an arm in 17 seconds.
#2. Pasteur didn’t discover germs – he discovered a causal link between germs and disease. Robert Hooke (England’s Leonardo & all round polymath) was instead one of the first to discover germs – along with developing initial microscopes, telescopes, designing grid city systems and creating many of the buildings in London today.
#3. Wounds were generally sealed through one of two methods – ligatures (tying each individual artery shut with silk or cat gut) or cauterisation (dipping the limb in hot oil or even tar, to burn the wound shut.)
#4. Surgery used to be performed by barber surgeons, members of the Company of Barber Surgeons, who would also cut your hair and perform little operations too. When in 1745, master surgeons broke away from the Company of Barber Surgeons to form the Company of Surgeons – they managed to remove the monopoly barber surgeons had on teaching surgery – allowing students to finally work on corpses themselves as part of a group (rather than simply watching and learning.)
#5. John Keats trained as a apprentice Surgeon-apothecary at St Thomas between 1815-1817. He abandoned surgical practice, telling a friend ‘My last operation was completed with the utmost nicety. but reflecting on what passed through my mind at the time, my dexterity seemed a miracle, and I never took up the lancet again.’ Perhaps the most amazing thing though, was that he died at the age of 25 – having already trained as a surgeon-apothecary and writing some rather nice poetry.
1. Cartoon Museum 

2. Churchill War Rooms 
3. Cinema Museum 
4. Dennis Sever’s House 
5. Dr Johnson’s house 
6. Design Museum 
7. Down House 
8. The Geffrye Museum 
9. London Film Museum 
10. London Transport Museum 
11. Mansion House 
12. Brunel Museum 
13. Museum of the Order of St John 
14. Musical Museum 
15. Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
16. Pollock’s Toy Museum 
17. Rose Theatre exhibition 
18. Fashion and Textile Museum 
19. Royal College of Music Archives and Museum of Instruments 
20. Sherlock Holmes Museum 
21. Twinings Museum 
22. V&A Museum of Childhood 
23. Bank of England museum 
24. The Stephens Museum 

So I’m now 24.

There are quite a few things I want to do before I’m 25 – let’s see how many I can get through.

Last year, I missed the numbers game a bit, so I’ve put it back into most of the challenges this year, in one way or another.

Toofer
In Canada, a toofer (like ‘two-four’) is a 24 pack of beer.
This year, I want to try 24 new beers – preferably real ale – but anything goes really.

Christopher Howse said real ale fans are just like train-spotters, only drunk.
Like a trainspotter, I’ll document and review them as I go. Providing I can remember them, that is…

24 frames a second
Well, there’s 24 frames a second in your average movie.
And I remember Dylan Williams saying that planners should try and get a strong grounding in the art of storytelling through film – as it can teach you so much about advertising, creativity and life in general.

So off the back of that, I’m going to:

1) Write a short review for 24 films (I’ll do it as I go rather than write a list, but it will be a mixture of newbies and oldies – none of which I’ve seen before.)

2) Start experimenting with film, and have something to show for it at the end of the year.

3) I might try and take a film/writers course at some point too.

24 hour Parties, people
I’ve got this idea in my head that it would be fun to fly out to a city, spend 24 hours there walking the streets then jumping on a plane back.
This year I’m going to try and do 2 of them.
After all, tourism is an adequate substitute for depth.

24 Museums
Finally, I’ve decided I’m going to visit 24 of the lesser known museums in London and review them. Everyone knows about the Science museum, the Natural History museum and the V&A. But what about Pollock’s Toy museum, or The Stephens Collection?
Hopefully I’ll also have some tasty souvenirs to show for the trouble.
I’ll also try and write down the top 5 interesting things I learn in each one.

Here’s the list:

1. Cartoon Museum
2. Churchill War Rooms
3. Cinema Museum
4. Dennis Sever’s House
5. Dr Johnson’s house
6. Design Museum
7. Down House
8. The Geffrye Museum
9. London Film Museum
10. London Transport Museum
11. Mansion House
12. Brunel Museum
13. Museum of the Order of St John
14. Musical Museum
15. Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
16. Pollock’s Toy Museum
17. Rose Theatre exhibition
18. Fashion and Textile Museum
19. Royal College of Music Archives and Museum of Instruments
20. Sherlock Holmes Museum
21. Twinings Museum
22. V&A Museum of Childhood
23. Bank of England museum
24. The Stephens Museum

Onwards.

So this year’s challenges are over.
And what a year it’s been.

23:Eat
Complete! I’ve tasted my way through 23 ‘official’ new foods, and many more that weren’t on the list (including those bastard sweet breads.)

23: EAT COMPLETE
1. Jellied Eels
2. Pig Cheeks
3. Sweet Meats (and Sweet Breads)
4. Bubble tea
5. Dried Insects
6. Quails egg
7. Creme de menthe
8. Frogs legs
9. Snails
10. Kangaroo
11. Nettle tea
12. Oysters
13. Steak Tartare
14. Dandelion Wine
15. Gazpacho
16. Pea Soup
17. Root beer float
18. Gnocchi
19. Ox Heart
20. Squirrel
21. Spotted Dick
22. Souffle
23. Kumquat

Adramble
Mixed… Adramble didn’t go quite so well.
I’ve certainly paced the streets more, and I got the whole thing online but I haven’t thrown all of my effort into getting it off the ground. I’m not sure whether I will this year, but perhaps.

Take more photos
Yes sir! I certainly have taken more photos, mostly thanks to the new phone.
I’ve saved my favourite 23 here.

Take a first aid course
Also complete!
I’ve went on my first ever first aid course, which was great fun.
Hosted by Sally-Anne of St John – it was a right hoot. Highly recommended.
Here’s the certificate to boot:

I should probably now say that all of the above almost certainly wouldn’t have been possible without Wist’s help.
But more than that, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun either.

And with that, I’m onto Challenge 24…

Zomby – It’s Time

Really like this track. It’s almost a bit Groove Armada in the treble, but the drum and bass tracks are underground and heavy. There’s some nice vocal samples that tides you over between sections, and some decent sci-fi sounds around 1.30 in. It’s perhaps a bit long for my liking, but I assume that’s so it can be mixed easily.

Wax Idols – Dethrone

Nice rail-ride indie music from the Wax idols. The vocals aren’t particularly to my taste, but the drums are tight, the bass thick and the guitar twangly. The chorus has touches of Bono’s wail in it, which is interesting, but overall the vocals let this track down for me.

Olivier Libaux (feat Inara George) – 04 No One Knows

Very different from anything before – a smooth jazz version of Queens of the Stone Age. Strangely it works – the percussion clave pattern fits, and the vibraphone in the middle 8 and pre verse works wonderfully. The vocals are whispy, but in a good way, and almost dance alongside the music track. If I had one gripe, it would be the incessant triangle – but there’s not too much spilt milk – nice track.

Molly Nilsson – Dear Life

The intro for this track sounds very 90s – it reminds me of kids at my old school vamping on the electric strings sound that came as standard with classroom keyboards. The track’s fast tempo, and the kick drum hits four to the floor. It’s a bit disappointing – if I’m brutally honest it sounds like something a young me (and co) used to naively put together in Dance eJay, but with half spoken/half sung vocals overlaid.

Halo Halo – Sunshine Kim

Any song called Sunshine Kim has to feature a cowbell by law, apparently. Thankfully – this one is legally compliant. It’s a mixture of folky instruments and percussion – with some questionable vocals during the verse. Once we reach the chorus – the vocals pick up form and the whole track comes together a bit more. It’s nice enough – I’d like to hear what else they’ve done to make a better assessment on the whole band.

Camera Obscura – Do it again

Really nice indie rock. The guitar intro sounds like it could feature on an episode of the Inbetweeners (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it probably is.) The female vocals work really nicely – and the harmonies that start during the first chorus are great. There’s a synth track in the background that buzzes around, following the chord roots, which I think works really well. The guitar solo around 2.10 is simple and straight, but fits, and it fades out nicely at the end.

Tunng – The Village

Really like the intro to this track – it’s beautifully layered and there’s an interesting synth sound used. There’s a syncopated rhythm between the clapping and the backing – which sounds a bit like slap back. The chorus is interesting, with male and female vocals. It sounds fairly new and different – and the choice of instrumentation is great.

The Riot Squad – I am waiting for my man

Nice happy harmonica starts this, followed by 60s style guitar. In fact, the whole track sounds like it was recorded in the 60s. A minute ago I wrote it sounded like the vocalist had based himself upon David Bowie. It sounded so much like Bowie I had to google it. It is Bowie, in the 60s.
That explains a lot. The harmonica is probably the best bit. The brass is a bit distracting, almost annoying, but the track’s nice enough.

Iasos – Crystal Petals

Weird and glistening throughout. Sort of like whale song, if said whale was holding some wind chimes. There’s a slight crescendo about three quarters through, and a major crescendo near the end, but overall this track is twinkly incidental music that would probably sound great backing a film. But doesn’t sound so great on it’s own.

Lovett – Black Curtain (2013)

Amazing intro on this track – it sounds like it could be used in a hollywood movie. The verse sounds a bit like a Sean Lennon track I used to listen to – it’s fairly standard pop rock – but it’s nicely treated. There’s a touch of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds about it – no bad thing in my books. The chorus is interesting, and the bass and drums are tight as siblings throughout. Can’t wait to check out what else they’ve done.

Stellar Om Source – Elite Excel

Pretty electronica, but repetitive as hell – my heart sunk after the first minute when I saw it was nearly 7 minutes long. There’s some interesting thoughts in it – there’s a synth pattern around 1.15 that I like, and a sort of deconstructed bass line around 2.40 for a beat or two – but overall it’s not my bag.

Goldheart Assembly – Sad Sad Stage

Beautiful echoey drums back this huge sounding pop song. Vocals laden with chorus, strings and jumpy bass guitar – it’s a nice vintage, laid back track but unfortunately it sounds almost exactly like Guillemots. I love the Guillemots, so that’s no bad thing, but it isn’t original. Creativity is not copying, as they say. Nice track all the same.