Le Voyage - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #212

Looking more the mountain man with effigy-inspired beard and fulsome, hungry eyes
It might seem like this blog is just me bigging up my various mates and asexual crushes; but I think it’s more a case of my associating with people who have a handle on the Cure For What Ails Us. Case-in-point, the latest from Cozmik Deed alumnus Lu-ihs Khuk and Suzanne Rodden, which has a dreamy europop earnestness without an atom of post-Clinton cynicism. It’s really jolly lovely. Like all of the best pop music, it’s an idealised image, a glimpse of a moment in time that mere mortals could never attain, a blissful few minutes in a crucible, burning away the self. The Sanskrit word Bodhi refers to the concept of the destruction or dissolution of the self, the fracturing or at times utter collapse and melting together of the concept of the self with the much wider world of Everything Else. No longer looking at the universe of experience through the narrow chinks of the cavern of the self afforded by the untrustworthy and inattentive senses but a bleeding into the world, and great pop music does this better than anything else. Come little ones, and drink the cup, before life’s liquor in its cup be dry.

Written under duress by Steven.

They like to get a little out of hand - Back in Back In The USA - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #211

To describe the MC5 as a ‘band’ is to describe the Pacific Ocean as a lot of water, or New York City as a human settlement. To do so is completely factual and is yet perhaps the least accurate possible description. To call them a band misses in entirety their militantism, their slot right in the centre of Nixon-era Americana, their political importance as well as their gargantuan sound.

Puffy pop plod offends Jesus freak arseholes - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 17/08/2014

I did something I thought I’d never do, in the scroll through the chart to assess the enormity of my task this week I noticed there was a song I was actually keen to hear because the artist’s previous work actually worked as a piece of pop. I’m as shocked as you.

I can't be bothered coming up with a title, Rock is Tot, and we have killed it.

Well shit, it finally happened. The chart achieved peak stagnation this week. A single new song, and one that jumped up from the fifties (presumably because it was featured in an advert, you consumerist bastards. So maybe it’s time to look a bit more in-depth at pop music, and why it does(n’t) work.

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard, are sweeter” - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty for 27/07/2014

This is happening to people right now. Human beings are being killed, and forced to kill in the name of things that aren't people, and that is sick. Don't mistake this for some kind of idiot social justice misguided 'Palestine is innocent' bullshit because those God-loving fucking shits are as much to blame as the Israelis for starting and perpetuating the cycle of violence that wraps around the region like a snake eating its own tail. Stop buying chart music, stop retweeting things, and fly to Israel and stick your head in the barrel of a self-propelled gun if you want to change anything. If you aren't prepared to do that, accept within yourself that complete evil is something you're willing to put up with so long as you are comfortable. Maybe we can just straight up and say it, we are a nation of some one billion salesmen who are prepared to kill anyone in the world who makes us feel uncomfortable. If that gives you a disquiet in your soul, change it. Retweets don't count, ever.

"When thy little chart doth wake, Then the dreadful night shall break." - The UK Singles Chart Top 20 for 6th of July

It seems appropriate to write a column about the pasty commercial-grade lard poured out of my speakers every Sunday night purporting to be music, when Michael Bay has just done his semi-annual splattery Transformers shit all over a cinema screen near you. I don’t have anything substantive to say, and doubt I will about any of today’s new additions to the chart. I’m going on holiday in a few weeks and shan’t be infecting my beautiful highland surroundings with shrieking little piss weasels so you might as well enjoy this one because it’ll be the only column ‘til sometime the end of July. Let's dance, to music.

"O Lord, deliver me from the man of excellent intention and impure chart" - The UK Singles Chart Top 20 for the 29th of June

I can’t help but feel this column has descended week-to-week into unnecessary swaggering smug bile, and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for me because all it does is give my blood pressure a twenty point spike on a Sunday evening and it doesn’t work for you lot (whoever you are) because all you get is “snotty rock critic hates inane badly made music” which is hardly going to be the New York Times headline come Monday morning. In my dubious position as a rock journalist I’m supposed to be contributing to the discussion, or bringing new stuff to the table, not just sneering at what comes to the table, and then taking a big steaming dump on whatever this week’s chart toppers are. I think it all stems from my basic belief that a lot of these (hugely successful) people genuinely shouldn’t be making music. This week Ed Sheeran is number 19 and he’s a classic example. Genuinely great music either illuminates some corner of our wonderful world, or makes us forget, and this music does neither. It’s a meaningless advertisement for wealth, sexual success and dreary heteronormative lifestyles without any kind of explanation or defence. It’s designed to spit people off, and alienate them, make them feel more worthless and more alone all the while beaming while it watches its listeners stab each other in the ribs. Just look at the fan reaction to anyone who says anything bad about genderless pop-peddlers Wand Erection and Justin Bieber. It isn’t taking us forward, it’s taking us way back. Well now that I’ve whipped you into the appropriate baleful mood with the intellectual equivalent of a minute’s silence for rock and roll (rock and roll is dead, long live rock and roll)

"Of the very instant that I saw you, Did my chart fly at your service" - the UK Singles Chart Top 20 22nd of June 2014

So while relocating my life from Edinburgh to Dundee and relocating my consciousness from a frontal-lobe frowny worry into a sort of base-of-the-skull miserable smugitude I decided to have a break from the chart rundown in the same way I’d take a couple of weeks off sticking my head down a pub toilet or loading a gun and pointing it at my head while crying and contemplating whether to put myself out of my misery… if people gave me thousands of hits a week for doing such things, which in retrospect they might. But, like putting off the washing up for two weeks, what was a manageable unpleasantness is now more likely to be a crud-stained mountain involving at least one bowl slicked with indestructible Weetabix, and by that I mean a fucking shite song. Oh, and for my sins I will be going through all the old songs that I haven’t heard yet. Yippee. I maintain eternal optimism that a miraculous ex-Melvins power-trio making ur-meditative rock inspired by their extended tenure in the Hindu Kush will have jumped up to at least number five, after a shocking pandemic of good taste.

Closer to the chart - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 1st of June 2014

Wah wah wah, you didn’t do a chart this week. Wah wah wah. Well suck it up, because partly I couldn’t be arsed because doing this is one of my least favourite moments of any given week, partly because I had guests, partly because I’m moving house right now, and partly because I want to teach you insufferable cretins that sometimes life will just shit on you, as it will if you put off doing a chart for two whole weeks and all the chart music piles up like not flushing the toilet for two weeks (during which time you alternated between Guinness- and curry-only diets). Yes I am continuing with the shit analogies, thankyou for asking. Because that’s what the chart is. A waterfall of shite, occasionally noteworthy for jamming up the whole system with a massive unpleasant brick.

Chart-i-ficial - The UK Singles Chart Top 20 May 25th 2014

Apparently I struck some kind of a chord with the hyper-intelligent, funny, unique, interesting and frankly devastatingly attractive people who read this blog when I last week described the chart, humorously, as a ‘shart’; but aside from provoking much tittering [you changed one letter, you’re hardly Peter Sellers. Ed.] I think I may genuinely have been onto something. Much like the aforementioned rectal reversal of fortune, the chart is supposed to be a jolly and amusing trump, perhaps slightly unpleasant at times but something to be enjoyed and moved on from, instead it seems to have backfired, filling the chart with unwanted shite and leaving everyone involved having to make awkward excuses to waddle to the bathroom. An increasing feature of these chart columns is that the music is so repetitive and inconsequential that I have very little to say, and what I do have to say tends to be repetitive, so apologies for that. Buy better singles you cunts and maybe I’ll feel less like hanging myself on a Sunday night.

Celebration of the Lizard

NOTE: for all you whining arseholes who jump in shouting “spoilers” every time a critic tries to do their damn job, this critique will contain a variety of spoilers for several films in the Godzilla saga, and if you don’t want to know in advance about the totally out of place scene with the comedy bellydancing Irishman, you ought to stop reading now.

Godzilla is supposed to mean something, like Giger’s Alien, his original incarnation from 1954 he was a fanciful manifestation of a very real terror: the horrific blasts at Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the serpentine nuclear fallout that wound its way through those deserted streets and into the lungs and blood of rescuers and residents, the pall of nuclear dust that fell over the crew of Lucky Dragon Number Five. And Godzilla represented what those represented, the disaster wrought by Commadore Matthew Perry and his Black Ships in Edo bay, and the ultimate defeat in the second world war, leaving millions dead and industry and infrastructure obliterated and ultimately, the invasion of Japan, by occupying American forces, and by particles of evil radioactive fallout; finally a humbled Japan, unsure of its place in the world. The modern era had arrived in Japan even more suddenly and violently than it had the rest of the world. The nuclear age presented very real fears, and Godzilla was manifest of those fears, alternately awakened or created by the use of nuclear weapons, his characteristic roar was the bell tolling for modernity, that had dabbled in things it shouldn’t; in the domain of gods, or beings so powerful that they resembled gods.

Closer to the chart - The UK Singles Chart Top 20 18th May 2014

IT’S ABOUT THAT TIME! Where my faith in humanity is slowly eroded a few more precious notches, like a crumbling Devonshire cliff edge, my inevitable hate-filled rampage a shaky cottage teetering perilously on the precipice. Another few weeks of this shit and I’m going to start making ornaments out of inattentive people’s skin. Looking over the chart the last few weeks has taken five minutes because there’s been two (shit) songs each week, but this week there’s been a bit of a shake-up and there seem to be dozens of new songs. I’m not sure if this fills me with renewed vitality or grinds me down further.

The new Coldplay album is a game-changer - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #210

Picture by calebvoorhees
I hate hating Coldplay, I really do. Because every time I mention how I would rather be exsanguinated than listening to their tedious empty dribbling crap ever again, people say “of course you hate them”, no, no, you don’t understand, I really hate Coldplay, it isn’t a statement, I really just hate them. Well I was dashing an email off to m’colleague waxing lyrical about the latest Coldplay release and it came out more eloquently than expected so I thought I’d post it here for the benefit of the wider audience.

"Shut up, woman" - Internet misogyny has gripped music journalism like an inoperable fascism cancer.

Look, it’s either write on here or hang about on street corners ‘til I find a harasser and kerb stomping away his face, alright? It seems I’m speaking to the under-fives this week, because any given article which attempts to discuss the fractious relations between women and the music industry seems to get bombarded with abuse (not rational argument, abuse) and it seems this always needs re-saying. I was prompted by the abuse showered on fellow scribe Hayley Scott for her interview with Alanna McArdle, which, like every article that dares use the word ‘feminism’ was assaulted with a tirade of abuse and dissension, most of which could be used in a Critical Thinking course as examples of fallacy in action. Oh and let’s not forget, rape threats and death threats to interviewer and interviewee.

I'm not going to write a title, just mournfully hope for a better world in embittered silence - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 11th of May 2014

What’s the chart going to be like this week? Stupid boring music for twats. That’s what it’s going to be, because I seem to have a more attuned grasp of pattern recognition than everyone else. Last week was really the death knell of both the chart and this column, with only one ‘new’ song in the chart, and that song being utterly creatively bankrupt. The prevailing consensus around chart music, from anyone who matters, is that it is rubbish, so I renew my requests for ‘who buys this crap?’ genuinely, who buys it and propels Calvin Harris to the top of the chart because it isn’t anyone I know with a functioning motor cortex. Every week I watch the live counter on the charts website tick down like the timer on the world’s shittest and most boring bomb ready to explode ineffectual samey pop music across these united isles for another week.

Un festival du fromage – The Chart – Eurovision Atrocity Special

“Much of the trouble that is attributed to drugs really should be attributed to boredom” Alexander Trocchi

“Oh my god! You have to do it!”
At the suggestion that I maybe should do a special version of my infamous chart column, inevitably called the “Eurovision Atrocity Special” almost everyone who wasn’t me was really keen for me to watch three and a half hours of stomach-churning colour and excitement and garishness, can’t think why. I’ve dosed myself up on MDMA in a simultaneous bid to keep myself awake and stop the raw cosmic horror of three hours of mental illness from burning my soul up from the inside and turning me into the kind of craven unhealthy zombie who can watch this bullshit with irony gear turned up to ‘UKIP’.

“This is beautiful, this is art” - All the world is a Pig Destroyer riff - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #209

“Semen tastes like gunmetal, she said smiling”
“There was a rainbow like a halo over the world”

If metal were to be distilled into a single sentence, from its inception through every subsequent moment, it would be “the search for greater sonic extremity” and Pig Destroyer sets out on an iron horse with a fiery anus, east towards a burning sunrise looking for extremity more readily, frequently and consistently than almost any other band working today. Avoiding the black comedy and meaningless shock potholes that derail most of their contemporaries and striking at the heart of something deeply unnerving at the core of what ails us. In a frightening parallel universe in which the JFK politics of hope are twisted into napalm fire in the jungles of Vietnam and the grinding of tank tracks in Berlin, in the charred post-nuclear wastelands of the late nineties, a twisted militarised version of the Melvins appears, and call themselves Pig Destroyer. Taking the same Melvins invention, pitch black humour and obsession with riffs but turning it to nightmarish ends. The only band with a comparably gruelling aesthetic is the legendary sludge group Acid Bath, but Pig Destroyer take the cause to greater, unscaled heights.

This is the way the world ends, not with a chart, but with a whimper - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 4th of May 2014

Memo #587 to the music writers’ union stated that one cannot begin any piece of music-related writing this week without first opining about how awful the new Avril Lavigne video is as if (1) nobody expected it to be and (2) nobody else has noticed yet. Dutifully fulfilling my job to point out that this video is terrible and the song is worse than having a shit-soaked knitting needle pushed into your ear by a team of snails taking alternate days off. Why anyone cares is beyond me. I’ve been playing Dark Souls and listening to the new Body/Thou split on repeat. It’s 2014’s ‘watching the X-Files in the dark’. 2014 is already a better year than 2013 in music, and I’m not going to introduce you to ANY OF IT because you cunts still buy chart music, you brazen idiot children. I wish I could just go to some beach party with a friend and a coil of wire, and run from one end to the other and take every one of your goddamn heads off. Not that I’ve got an axe to grind or anything…

Playing the scapegoat game shuts down the vital debate

Oh for fuck’s sake not again. *sigh*, it appears we’re doing this Charleston again… I promise not to make it a regular feature, there are already online presences much better than my own making sterling work of keeping track of the Daily Mail’s torrent of bullshit. I received praise for last week’s article, particularly because it didn’t contain swearing which a lot of people thought was a big improvement on my usual drivel, but this one might not meet your extra high standards. Because racist scum-rag the Daily Fail is at it again, this time blaming the decidedly New Age cocktail of violent video games (Dark Souls specifically) ‘death metal’ and drug use to explain why a loathsome little creep decided to stab his 61 year old Spanish teacher to death at a Catholic school in Leeds.

Set the controls for the chart of the sun - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 27th of April 2014

Writing this at five to seven, awaiting the new chart in the same way I’m awaiting death, with an unironic sense of joy and anticipation. I am going to assume you’ve all been struck by how utterly facile the chart picks have been and the singles chart is all Pig Destroyer and Gnod singles. It is, right? The fiberglass-hollow crap that I’ve been listening to thusfar has not really enthused me as to the quality of chart music; but what has surprised is the amount of people who agree with me. Nobody has tried to defend chart music to me, everybody thinks it is utter vacuous nonsense, like its progenitors which begs the question: who the hell is buying this garbage? The people on the Guardian podcast think it’s schlock, my friends think it’s schlock regardless of their musical proclivities, so who buys it and can you stop please?

Heavy metal won't be your scapegoat anymore

[NOTE: All facts about this case are taken from the Daily Mail article unless otherwise indicated.]

*Sigh* I almost can’t be bothered doing this because anyone who reads this probably isn’t possessed cerebral club-foot of racism, homophobia, nostalgia, general paranoia and self-righteousness necessary to be a Daily Mail reader, and are aware that the hateful hypocritical dross pedalled on the awful obsolete little platform is probably just something we’ll have to deal with until all the participants have died of old age. But as always, it’s necessary every so often to call the Daily Mail out on its bullshit and today is that day. Because today this article appeared, placing the blame for a tragic teen suicide squarely at the feet of ‘dark music’. Firstly I must extend my sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Oliver King; as someone who has struggled with mental health myself, I know the feeling of having your own mind fight against you, it’s just tragic that Oliver didn't find the help he needed, and felt he had no way out.

I was gonna like the chart, but then I got high - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 20th April 2014

Dragonsmoke by Arik Roper
Sheena might be a punk rocker, and he’s in love with Janie Jones, but dear god, there’s no need to listen to Mastadon, no matter how good they used to be. The world’s gone a little crazy, it seems. We’ve given up looking for that missing plane that is either crashed/diverted to Diego Garcia/went through a wormhole [delete as appropriate] and the ‘joys’ of easter/ostara are upon us which some people celebrate by literally having themselves nailed to a cross, and yet others celebrate by eating chocolate eggs, in a brilliant example of what a quite literal broad church the church really is. Yet others celebrate it by being bitter. Would you believe one mad fucker asked me where all my In Search of Space tomfoolery has gone? My largely positive reviews of amazing underground records can be found monthly (though there are a whole whole lot of them) over at Muso’s Guide. Over time, as my mental and employment state has degraded, I have morphed this blog from what it was (a three year project for two young fogies to wax lyrical about their fave shite) into a dumping ground for my thoughts vaguely related to media, and my weekly column where I’m deeply horrible about chart music that in all honesty isn’t that offensive. I wasn’t even that much against Bieber for the longest time (the sort of final-form of pop music) because hey, he was a despicable little shit who badly needed to die, and I suspect there isn’t a slap in the face from life big enough to stop him now, but he wasn’t anywhere near me and I don’t see how following his every move and linking to it on twitter helps anyone but TMZ. He was singing songs that weren’t openly racist to an audience that seemed to like that stuff (until at least they turned 14 and got into Weedeater like everybody else) so why care? That’s why I didn’t do a chart column for the longest time. Research shows being angry breeds more anger, and life is too short to listen to bad music. Having said all that, I quite like getting thousands of clicks a week, so here’s this week’s chart. Which is worse than getting something really unhygienic lodged in a private area. Probably.

Authors note: Daaaw shit you stupid pricks. That Chris Brown song went UP seventeen places this week. How stupid are you? 

The Thrown Epps are the worst band in the world and you need them in your life immediately - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #208

Listen to the Thrown Epps Debasement Tapes while you read this benzadrine frenzy written with wild gesticulations interspersed with terrible headaches. And then listen to it again for the rest of time.

Are The Thrown Epps the worst band in the world? They seem to want us to think that. Formed from the unholy alliance of two of the westy coasty proto-grunge titans The Thrown Ups and Mr Epp and the Calculations, the Thrown Epps [see what they did there? Ed.] came together for a recording session-cum-live botheration in some grungy basement, presumably playing to an empty room, a barman and a coupla terrified rats. Sound-wise it’s like freeform jazz Comets on Fire being fed through a thresher and recorded on a dodgy tape deck. It doesn’t fit, at all. Aimless melodies, where nothing in the production points to listenability or enjoyment, not the Robert-Plant-howling-at-the-moon vocals nor the drowned and unimpressive guitar nor the track names (“Fuck You”, “No”, “You Were a Good Dog”, “I Object”). All of it is a deliberate and very real middle finger to the audience and to the wider world. A buncha over-the-hill past-it downhill-slope punks who weren’t big enough back in the day to be accepted into the mainstream now turning their backs on a world that gave them nothing, turned hash-addled geeks on the end of electric music. Like melted waxworks of former glory, the once and future masters of weirdo rock have returned and produced something genuinely revolutionary. I don’t mean it’ll give your boat a little wobble on a featureless lake, I mean if enough people grasp what these cunts are saying, through the grinding guitar madness and the vocals (or is that crowd noise?) then I predict mass hysteria. Lady GaGa recently made headlines in the conventional press by having a ‘vomit artist’ be sick on her, which is the most boring, conservative, middle-of-the-road ‘offensive’ act. You wanna hear something genuinely offensive? To your ears, and to the concept of society? You listen to the Thrown Epps, but not for long because they genuinely suck. It’s the least cynical record of all time. The concept of ‘pandering’ doesn’t exist for these handful of genuine radicals. In human terms they are the single atoms bouncing around the universe. They are all of us, in our darkest moments, and that’s why Debasement Tapes is essential, vital, bright and futuristic. If you want more. Try out our old-old-old recommendation בלטה. Play it and dance the dance of death.

Written under duress by Steven.

True Detective is afraid of itself

The latest Best Series Ever™ has come out of HBO, and it’s True Detective. An eight-part miniseries chronicling a sprawling 17 year murder investigation in rural Louisiana, and now that it’s concluded, it is possible to escape the interminable episode-by-episode breakdown mix of half-understanding and conjecture and analyse the series as a single entity. And as a whole True Detective just doesn’t work; the arse had really fallen out of proceedings by the time the disappointing and cliché-ridden finale slouched into view. It was clear what killed True Detective, a bizarre fear of its own success.

It's only a drug PROBLEM if you run out of drugs - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 13th of April 2014

It’s all true. God, it’s all true. Vaccinations cause cancer and autism and autistic cancer, the illuminati is running the world, as are the lizard people and the NSA and the Patriarchy™ (we have meetings every Tuesday while our faithful servants wash the glass ceiling). Chemtrails are killing you, the US is operating drones in foreign countries (oh, no, that’s a conspiracy). The orbital weapons platforms are real. Flight MH370 passed through a temporal anomaly allowing it to be shot down, diverted to Diego Garcia and transported to several different dimensions. 9/11, the Boston Bombings and the Glastonbury Festival are all made up to make you fear and worst of all I love pop music. That thoughtful stuff ain’t for me. Who wants to do a bunch of thinkin’ and crap? Nope, I like my music inoffensive, bland, and samey thanks and I don’t care who knows it. Yes indeedy, it’s week four of my ongoing quest to depress myself to death, and I’ve injected bleach into my mind and now I occupy the same intellectual level as the people who enjoy this shit. Yes, for a change instead of faux-intellectual snobbery to hide the fact I’m being horrible about a bunch of people far more talented and successful than I will ever be, I am going to listen to this week’s chart and actually try to like it.

Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In: The Raid and the Raid 2

The original Raid was a lot of things; to most (including me) it was a boyhood dream made flesh. The basic plot of Die Hard meets the insane action-to-plot ratio of Hard Boiled, but while those films focused on gunplay, The Raid introduced the mainstream audience to the brutal ballet of Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat, and had its protagonists kick, punch and slice their way through the film at an astonishing pace. The plot was little more than a set up: a group of cops stage a raid on a highly fortified Jakarta highrise, but find themselves trapped inside with several hundred baddies between them and safety, the remaining 90 minutes were spent in a prolonged action sequence. The film was notable for its breath-taking pace, as well as director Gareth Evans’ spectacular fight choreography and imagination. It received criticism because of its boilerplate plot, but was a sleeper hit, so now it has a shiny epic sequel.

Never Mind the Bombings! Here's the Shit Pisstakes - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 6th of April 2014

With all the excitement of a depressed banker wetly hitting the pavement outside JP Morgan, a new chart was dropped onto a completely innocent world. This week I’ll be listening to the chart with my sister, who doesn’t have the same deathly gloomy outlook, so I will be inserting her observances when the mood takes me. Mercifully, there’s only four new songs in the chart because in addition to all the songs being the fucking same, apparently there aren’t even any new songs every week.

"OM, man!" - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 30th of March

“I really loved your chart rundown”
For years I have thanklessly coughed my deeply-held love of alternative music onto the internet, we’ve had two WORLD SCOOPS in the form of our reviews of OM’s Advaitic Songs and most recently the Body’s spectacular I Shall Die Here. We’ve talked with love, and warmth, about all manner of things for ages, and it turns out what I should have been doing all along is kicking the shit out of some defenceless chart music. Yes, that utterly unprovoked mauling given to the British chart last week netted me far more attention and hits than anything else we’ve ever done. So, never one to miss an opportunity for a quick buck, I’m doing it again. Several people requested that I do this monthly or weekly, so blame them. For the record, this feels like bullying, like going into the cancer ward at a children’s hospital and challenging them to a pressup contest. In the interests of making the world an improved place, I would like to direct you, if you don’t go anyway, to Anthony Fantano and the Needle Drop, who would never lower himself to this sort of cheapness, unlike me. Well fine, like an unlicensed doctor, we’re churning out another abortion.

Finite and Corrupt - The UK Singles Chart Top Twenty 23rd of March

So it seems you subscriber cunts don’t like my earnest explorations of basically righteous underground music, so from now on I’ll scale those back and try something a little different. Because my bile and contempt seem to do a lot better, the Arctic Monkeys Brits speech thing did really well, and after a brutal one-sided argument about chart music, and someone insisting I “just don’t like it” I thought I’d prove them wrong, or right by talking about some every week because I'm nice like that.

"One good riff" Apostrophe, no G - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #207

So there are missing planes and breakaway provinces under the Russian jackboot. Fear, terror, surveillance, it’s all going down; and right in the middle of this chaos the very nice people at Noisy Bastards Incorporated decide to drop Yellow Mind, under the guise of old faves Workin’ Man Noise Unit. The protopunk of the Stooges crashed into the protopunk of the Midwest seventies bands like the Electric Eels and Rocket From the Tombs, and all bouncing a rubber ball around a tiny hotboxed room, knocking over all the cans of Stella. We said what we wanted to say about the pyramid-building power-trio in our last gushing over this Reading yobbo bunch, and their new 7” is just more brutal, but basically continuing along the charted course.

Painting a virtual canvas with Grand Theft Auto V

Historically the Grand Theft Auto series provided reliable visceral thrills. Leaping into a sports car and tearing out of the car park with the alarm blaring, the police on your tail, and expertly chosen sounds pumping from the stereo. The action, like the graphics, was deliberately cartoonish; gunfire crackled and the police helicopter bellowed humorous things as pedestrians made Tom & Jerry *splats* when you misjudged a turn and cartwheeled through a pedestrian precinct. Partly through style, and partly from the limitations of the hardware of the day (GTA3 2001, Vice City 2002, San Andreas 2004) the Grand Theft Auto series of my teens, experienced through the Playstation 2, was a comic-book world of cardboard houses and paper people. There were satirical, South Park-level jabs at American culture, and a wonderfully simulated period soundtrack, but the games were truly ‘sandboxes’; simulating a 3D city full of people which appears real, red lights stop traffic and people flee when you open fire; then the game gives you vehicles and weapons with which to cause chaos, and a police force that will obligingly increase the scale of the chaos. Missions were completed to give you structured chaos, increase your access to the simulated city and your arsenal, and to introduce you to ways of causing chaos you might not have thought of.

All hail the return of the double doomers, motherfuckers denounce and reject the Lord and embrace the Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #206

So Alex Turner asked, through the arse-trumpet that NME has become, “are you onside?”. Leaving aside that the correct answer is “fuck off before I kick your head in you public schoolboy lookin’ cunt”, you could just play him your tape copy of Exaanum at full blast through the dusty beat-up cobweb-covered speakers sitting at the back of Bannerman’s on any given night. The latest much-delayed full-length from Edinburgh’s master-of-ceremonies-at-large motherfuckers Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead, set to be released on Saturday, the 22nd of March with a full live festival of monstrous paranoia and Lovercraftian otherworldliness and a playing of the album live, in its entirety. Because if you’re going to talk about rock and roll, and its state of health, you’d be better looking to the grimy basements, the dank stairs and poster-wallpapered low-roof cellars with concrete floors and foot-high stages. The bar doesn’t accept card and you don’t get 4G inside, and from the back room each and every night unholy noise is giving people of all stripes unbelievable kicks. The music is made for passion. Most of the musicians are stone broke, and don’t want and can’t dream of any kind of award or even radio play. Small communities grow around the bands like mould, and they occasionally release albums.

[Alternate opening: It just came out that the famous Stonehenge Bluestones may have been selected for their acoustic properties at that historic rave site. It would make sense, our oh-so-modern forbears were keen on hallucination, and they needed something to groove to, echoing out across the prehistorical landscape and scabby locals boogieing into the night. Just goes to show what critics have been saying for years, this whole rock ‘n roll schtick is nothing new. Please make your own Spinal Tap references.]


Rampart is an anti-thriller, the reverse Training Day; in that film the muscular Denzel Washington and his corruption were dismantled by a white knight rookie. Rampart has no white knights; built around the zombielike ‘Date Rape’ Dave Brown; racist, homophobe, misogynist, philanderer; officer of the Los Angeles Police Department, out of the infamous Rampart division at the tail end of that long-running late nineties scandal. The century is about to change, and there is a definite echo of the Wild Bunch in Rampart. Brown is a dinosaur who considers the truth, lies, justice, injustice, violence (including murder), subterfuge and exploitation of his past, or present role as an LAPD beat cop, as equal methods of getting what he wants. Whether that is to hold on to his job after a vicious beating ends up on the nightly news, or to ditch a stubborn Internal Affairs officer digging around a dirty shooting. He talks a defence lawyer into bed, and abuses and abandons his few friends. He is the emotional centre of the film, but seems to have no centre himself.

Rok is tot, and we have killed him - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #205

The following late-night whisky diatribe is not brought to you by Mastercard, or anyone else for that matter except me.


"I live in a world where coffee makes me high" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #204

“Why do you hate pop?”
“You’re such a critic, you hate anything that is good fun”
“You only like obscure stuff nobody else likes”
“Nobody actually listens to the stuff you like”
“You just pretend to like all that stuff to seem cool”
You miserable little commenting bastards; I’m double checking right now that I can’t explode people’s heads with my will, because I’d hate to find out later that I could and think I missed the opportunity to use it on you. I like pop! I like the Killers [‘ first album], I like Marina and the Diamonds [‘ first album] and I even think Lady GaGa’s post-Madonna sub-Bowieism has a certain sumthin’ sumthin’ if she could just wear jeans and a teeshirt sometime. If someone pressed me, the pop album I like most at the moment is Edinburgh’s own Spook School and their 2013 debut Dress Up. They have just enough pop pop, while maintaining a perfect Sense of Place with a tangible back-of-the-bike-sheds charm. If you were a Scottish teenager in the early noughties, you already know these songs, you just need to pick up the album. If you weren’t, it’s merely essential.

"Death by Burning" will help you fall back in love with old-fashioned heavy metal - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #203

In the circles I move, it’s fair to say we’ve fallen out of love with heavy metal. The old hands have become more and more florally embellished, and the new blood seems determined to ape this overcomplicatedness with gusto. Anyone can appreciate genre-defying gems like The Body’s excellent I Shall Die Here (which you should totally hear, if you haven’t already) but mainstream metal hasn’t been scratching any of my itches of late, until I found Mantar’s Death By Burning. I picked it up because of the cover, and the title, and figured it was the same pseudo-intellectual metal that still has merit, but it’s stripped-down standard heavy metal, and it’s excellent.

I shall die here - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #202

Don’t listen to the new the Body album. Seriously, don’t! Don’t even read this article. It’s too toxic. Everyone who touches it dies. The Portland band previously making music like that found on their 2013 album Christs, Redeemers and the utterly superb dirge on Master, We Perish have teamed up with one-man outfit Haxan Cloak to produce something far beyond any of their previous works. I Shall Die Here is a revelation. It’s a seismic shift in the way I perceive heavy music. It’s a new yardstick. Forget Silencer, forget Earth, forget Metal Machine Music; without fear of hyperbole, I can say I Shall Die Here is the Heaviest Record of All Time. The sky too, is falling under you. It’s all over now baby blue.

The eternal quest for tonal dominion with Bong - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #201

Nobody seems to know how many studio albums Bong have made. Stoner Rock is their fourth on Ritual Productions, but like the Krautrock and Japrock progenitors, collecting, collating and accounting for the myriad of vinyl, tape, re-releases and side-cuts quickly became almost impossible, and a band with such extended songs, differentiating album from EP becomes merely a semantic point; either of the two tracks from Stoner Rock is longer than the entire Nails discography. Their two previous notable releases, Mana-Yood Sushai and its sequel, Idle Days on the Yann both felt like end points, and still do. Added to that is their latest end point, abandoning Lord Dunsany pre-Lovecraftian horrors and strange lands in favour of a full-fledged jab at all the lazy genre-minded critics who explain the existence of Bong in the frame of ‘stoner rock’. Stoner Rock is their simultaneous entry, definition, critique of and departure from that genre tag. Their goal? Tonal dominion. Their methods? Unchanged; molasses sound and texture.

“Play faster!” – “Listen slower!” a love affair with Tool - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #200

Who would have predicted that two and a bit years ago this blog would still be ignored by everyone (excepting random abuse hurled our way) and I'd be staring down the barrel of writing my two-hundredth piece? Well, me, I figured my life wouldn't have much moved on. So I've brought you some very bitter things about Tool.

Maynard James Keenan
Photo: Paul Bergen
When I was a teenager, in the mid-noughties, we piggybacked the gen-x sense of nihilism and self-awareness by liking Bill Hicks, and listening to Nirvana and Tool. I hope to grow out of these interests, and have become more self-critical of them; but many of my contemporaries have not. That’s the biggest problem with Tool and a lot of the other nineties nostalgia properties, their chief theme of kicking away from the Regan eighties is doubly irrelevant in the post Bush/Blair world and to the UK mindset. These same revolutionary acts such as Bill Hicks are frequently ruined by their fans. Tool are a fascinating band with reliably interesting music derailed by idiot fans. When I say idiot fans, make no mistake, I mean tier-one simpletons. The sort of people who profess to love Fight Club seemingly without understanding the point of that book. People who on the one hand appreciate the multiple layers of the excellent H. and on the other say without irony “hey, we should all think for ourselves, like Bill Hicks told us to”. Opinion on Tool’s music is neatly divided, between these sort of non-sentient morons who blindly defend the liner note image of a cow licking its rectum, and the sort of semi-critical non-tribal homo sapiens who might appreciate some of the things Tool do but are far put off by the former camp to actually try them out.

Entropy and decay - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #199

There is a terrible blight to which many arts journalists succumb; to believe, or at least project that each piece of creative media is not only a nice film, or piece of music or book or piece of erotic protest street art, but also a signal and a sign and a moment in wider culture. Some are worse than others and I’m a pretty bad offender, but it can’t be stated often enough that most artists have no interest in creating some sort of wave. Their back yard rumblings and filthy rock and roll fables are meant as pure entertainment, or perhaps an exploration of the human condition. They aren’t meant to signify a shift towards more drone-oriented rock and roll in the mainstream, and a new release isn’t always a “fall from grace” or a “return to glory” and much as it pains me, not every record by a reliably great artist is worth talking about. This year has seen two artists loved by this here blog place release so-so records, up to their usual standards, but look at our comments about their previous records and we’re pretty much still there.

"I am my mother's bird and I have taught myself how to fly" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #198

People wonder how abrasive and violent music can be meaningful and powerful, outside of the primal noise thrill, and to them I have the honour to present Street Sects and their mindblowing early 2014 drop, the Morning After the Night We Raped Death. For people who wished 16 Volt had kept making records and blended with Acid Bath, in between the dehumanising electronic squeals, the Mariana-deep drums or the drum machine that sounds like a vintage German MG42 cycling; outside of the vocal, buried and lethal like a Mongolian death worm. Their sound is mechanical, hermetically sealed, but wild and inhospitable, like the blasting clean of a sandstorm or a Gigeresque monster prowling empty spaceship corridors. It’s electronics meets grindcore, it moves at a million miles an hour and you Need It.

Revolution Calling: from enslavement to Obliterations - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #197

When will you docile motherfuckers realise the only way to achieve your aims is to do what the cunts in power did years ago, and host a violent and bloody revolution, drag the worst of the fuckers out into the streets and use Russian-made handguns smuggled into the country to very suddenly and mercilessly blow their fucking brains out? Call me up on the day of the glorious revolution, I’ll be pushing bankers off the roof and wearing my ritual robes on that special day. Making sure the rest of the fuckers are watching as an example. On all the issues that matter, fairness, equality, feeding folks, basic shit, our system is so perverted it actively rails against its own purpose. Sometimes, to change some minds, you’ve got to drive the business end of a pickaxe through others. America knows what I’m talking about. The average American politician is so crooked he has to sleep on a spiral staircase. Los Angeles’ Obliterations know what I’m talking about, and their latest superb record is testament and hard-rock call-to-arms. Heed it.

Like a soul that's lost in hell - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #196

2014 isn't resting, we've already got a first great record, and it comes from Mike Vest. Guitar in the monolithic Bong, who are like latterday OM playing early Sleep records while falling into the mantle of a collapsing star. He’s in more bands than I can list, so the chances of a self-indulgent solo project were minimal, and it snuck out under the radar. It’s unsurprising given his CV that his solo guitar work is a formless and epic, explorative and meditative L+R headphone essential in the form of Black Distilment and Fine Membrane Sheath from Vest, self released under the name Basillica.

"Old" and new - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #97

(Dark Time Sunshine – ANX, Propo ’88 & Blabbermouf – From the Top of the Stack)

 Now that we’re at the beginning of a New Year, I feel inclined to share something with you good people. I recently had something of a revelation after listening to these two albums; both hip-hop albums, both from the late 2012, but both spiritual and stylistic opposites in almost every way. On the one hand, a progressive, rather “out there” album, pushing lyrical and musical boundaries, but remaining perhaps too impenetrable for mass appeal. On the other, a throwback album to the nineties, complete with sweeping horns and hard drum beats, care-free lyricism and a rapper with an all-too-familiar flow. Knowing my preference for the old-school, I was inclined to think I’d prefer the latter, and for a time I did, but after a while, something inside me changed.
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