Saturday, 25 December 2010

On the First Day of Christmas Caleb Gave to Me...

Over the next two weeks we will post the last of the Wisdom of Caleb for a while. Be sure to check it out here, before it moves on!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Winter Greetings

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, we wish you all the best for the Winter holidays.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Amos Festive Lunch 2010

Once more we gathered for feasting at our favourite kebab spot in Stoke Newington.

The plate in the middle is all meat!

The Best Dressed Man in Minehead Wednesday 8th December 2010

That would be Tim.

Thanks to Derrick for this photo of Tim.

And if you want to see a very nice bunch of photos from the the 4 In Between Days (and some very nice bonus images of the countryside around Minehead), then check out Derrick's Flickr page here. Much better band images than anything we managed! Cheers.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

ATP In Between Days - Day 4

We decided to declare the last In Between Day as a day of Black and Doom. In true Amos style we had invited a couple of extreme Metal bands to see out the event, in anticipation of early-comers for the Belle and Sebastian Bowlie 2 weekend, which would begin the following day. More on the bands in a bit.

Keeping with this theme, we programmed Nicolas Winding Refn's moody Scottish Viking movie, Valhalla Rising, as the first event of the day. There was a respectable turnout at the cinema to watch this rather beautiful, slow-paced journey to hell and back.

It was the first time I'd seen this on a big screen and it looked stunning. Relentlessly dark and very brutal, it gave the audience something to brew on before the mid afternoon pub quiz.

Our good friend Rob Green was scheduled to host the quiz and give it his inimitable slant. Sadly he was ill and unable to make it to Minehead. So another friend, Bronagh Keegan (MVP of the previous day's book group), kindly offered to step in and set the quiz for the afternoon. She did an excellent job and managed to lift participants out of the doomy stupor that we had so painstakingly engineered through our choice of early afternoon film.

The quiz was won by an excellent threesome (whose team name escapes me now) but I'm sure it would have been a different story had team Beast Star (members of the band Mugstar) not been summoned to soundcheck two thirds of the way through, leaving just one member to play the last round. Especially as their guitar player, Neil, has made an appearance on Brain of Britain and had his progress halted only by a question on Amy Winehouse, not a subject you would expect any respectable experimental space rocker to excel in. Alas, he could not use the IBD pub quiz as cathartic therapy as he was called away with the rest of the band, and team Beast Star ended as runners-up by 1 point. My favourite answer of the day was to the question "What P is the nickname of a recently relegated former Premiership club." The answer given was Pudenda???

Before the evening's entertainment, James found the time to finish the masterpiece he had been working on in the main pavilion. He was helped by Jason Evan's inspired idea to turn the picture upside down part of the way through.

click on image to enlarge

One other thing to mention with regards James. He had offered to take out festival goers on a guided bike ride on the Wednesday and Thursday mornings. After managing to persuade him that it was actually a very tiny fraction of cyclists who took the pastime as seriously as him, and it was unlikely that any of the festival goers would fall into this percentage and so be up for hacking it up 25% plus gradient hills on hired mountain bikes after days of drinking and who-knows-what-other excesses, he eventually compromised and mapped an "easy" route for Wednesday's excursion. He actually had four takers for this first day. He nearly killed them. None of them could keep up with him and all ended up pushing their bikes up the main hill he picked to ascend. But apparently the views were spectacular on a reasonably clear morning. On day four, scheduled as the intermediate ride, unsurprisingly he had no takers, and if he did he wouldn't have known as he left early as they would never have kept up with him anyway. I'm sure he will fill you in on the details of the day four ride.

I haven't spent too long on the music in previous day's accounts but this day was a little more unusual so indulge me. First up was the brilliant Mugstar. We'd been hanging out with Neil and Jason all week as they decided to spend all four days on site. The bands had been coming and going through the course of the event but some of Mugstar and Cave had been around throughout. I had briefly spoken to Cave's curiously named keyboard player, Rotten Milk (that's Mr Milk to you but I get to call him Rotten), but didn't really get the opportunity to spend time with them (unlike Will who said they were all very nice chaps). But we all spent time with Mugstar and we were looking forward to seeing them perform.

Mugstar didn't disappoint. They were awesome. They rocked, especially their keyboard/guitar player Peter, who at the climax of their set, began hammering his guitar in such a way, that could only lead to rock 'n' roll carnage, and the old Pete Townsend guitar smash. Inevitably equipment was wrecked and we can only hope that he wasn't sorry after the buzz of the moment had waned.

Moon Duo were great too. Ripley had already played a set the previous day with Wooden Shjips, and this went down just as well with an appreciative crowd.

Sanae was captivating on keyboards.

So far, musically everything had been going marvellously. All the bands were amazing, and all had been well received by an appreciative crowd. That was about to change. It was Metal time.

James and I always have time for a bit of Metal. Whether the thrash of Anthrax and Slayer, or the less accessible experimentations of Khanate, we are always up for giving it a try. We had invited Doom legends Corrupted from Japan but unfortunately, due to legitimate personal reasons, they had to pull out a couple of weeks from the event. Thankfully US Doom legends Yob stepped in to replace them. More on them in a bit.

We also wanted a bit of Black Metal, a genre that has interested the pair of us for some time now. We knew it would be very hard persuading any kvlt metal band to come and play as this was a "hipster" festival, and understandably the organisers wanted to put on music that wouldn't piss off the festival goers. So we were happy that Nachtmystium agreed to play and ATP were up for it. Their recent records were getting reviewed on non-Metal sites and they were attracting crossover attention. But being flakey fuckers they decided to pull out with a week to spare, leaving us with a gaping hole and no BM. At this point I went back to a band I had repeatedly asked for (they had been on my original list I'd given to ATP) and this time Barry (main ATP man), always up for a bit of experimentation, was up for it. So we asked Dutch band Urfaust.

I love this band and actually met them when I went to see them play in Iceland earlier in the year. They had never played in the UK and they had never played at anything other than hardcore Metal events in Northern Europe. Despite managing to interest a few more adventurous muso types, their main following is very kvlt and they remain very underground. I was extremely stoked when they agreed to play the event at such short notice, especially after I found out that guitarist/vocalist Willem had just had a newborn daughter a few weeks earlier.

Anyway, they played and as you would guess they were intense, and they all but cleared the room. But they ruled. And they were one of only two or three bands to do an encore all week.

Those remaining were compelled and converted by their raw, hypnotic, pared back sound. And most importantly, the band seemed to enjoy themselves. Drummer Jim had family in the area and his cousin had come to watch him play too so he was in good spirits (and very pissed).

Jim was also very impressed that the headline act that night was Yob. These guys are legends in the world of Doom and we were very proud to be responsible for getting them to play in the UK for the first time. James had turned me onto them a few years ago and so it was the perfect (and possibly the only) band to replace Corrupted. Thankfully some souls had drifted back into the room and there was a respectable audience for what was to be an incredible set of very heavy, down-tuned, psych riffage.

Guitarist and vocalist Mike knows how to put on a great show and was super enthusiastic for a long set. For many they were the revelation of the four days and a very fitting way to end the festival. And they were very nice guys too.

There was a small after-party back at our chalet where our guests of honour were Mugstar and Urfaust. The latter were due to leave again in a few hours and I feared for them as they were trashed.

Actually Willem (the big guy) was fairly together, but Jim was contemplating killing me with a Russian Orthodox, self-defence shoulder squeeze, but only once he had thrown up (or rid himself of extremely debilitating hiccups). When I asked them how come they had come and played IBD their response was, "We were approached at a Metal show in Reykjavik, by a strange man looking like a policeman, who asked us to come to England and play at a music festival he was organising at a seaside holiday camp. Of course we fucking come!" Urfaust rule!

And what of the 'zine for the last day? There were badges.

click to enlarge

There was actually a prize for the first correctly answered crossword which was won by James (not Jarvis) and Rebecca.

Enough now! I'd just like to thank some people for their help in making the In Between Days a memorable event for all that were there.

Thanks to Barry and Deborah for asking us to curate and making it all possible. A special thanks to Barry for ultimately indulging us with band choices.

Thanks to Ruth for all her help and never-ending patience.

Thanks to Will Sweeney for his help and especially for his excellent 'zine contributions.

Thanks to Jason Evans for his excellent talk and DJ duties.

Thanks to Bronagh Keegan, host extraordinaire and top question master (mistress?)

Thanks to Godsy (DJ Cherrystones) for a great set on Wednesday night and some heavy shit on the Thursday.

Thanks to the Rollapaluza team.

Thanks to all the bands for their exceptional performances. White Hills, Emeralds, Cave, Ulrich Schnaus, Hallogallo, Factory Floor (best yet), Autolux, Caribou, Holy Fuck, Connan Mockasin (for the great train set too), Wooden Shjips, Four Tet, Mugstar (you were awesome in all ways), Moon Duo, Urfaust (rulers!), and Yob (the heaviest and mightiest).

Thanks to all the ATP crew for all their help over the course of the event. Shaun, Ros, Jamie, Jim, Sim, Andrew, Blake, Woody, Nichole, James, Pablo, Shane, Ade, Caleb, John, Vin, Ed, Willie, Alex, Arron and Stone.

And thanks to everyone who came down and made it a very special four days.

After a further selection of our own special posters for the event...

I'll leave you with Butlin's own contribution, some rather special and slightly bewildering motivational posters.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

ATP In Between Days - Day 3

Feeling slightly delicate by this time (this was my 6th day at Butlins and JJ and Will's 4th) we began day 3 of IBD with a ride on the local train service. Actually that's not strictly true as James had began the day many hours earlier and by this time had probably already cycled 50 miles before any of us had eaten brunch.

Anyway, the local West Somerset Railway is steam driven. So we were going for a ride to nowhere on a steam train.

I had prepared some mixes for the travelers which they could download before the journey, if they so desired. I think most chose to ignore these so I'm offering them up now if any one is interested. One, Two and Three. Usual right click to download business. Not sure how long these will stay up for. The first two (Getting There and Coming Back) are for getting baked and staring out the window. The third (and safer option) is a bunch of tunes with train themes.

The real highlight of the journey, besides the spectacular "Geology Wall" at Watchet Station, was Connan Mockasin who played an acoustic set in one of the carriages.

They played acoustic versions of songs from their excellent "Please Turn Me Into the Snat" LP and an Amos dedicated version of Tutti Frutti, which I managed to miss as I'd been watching from a platform on one of the stops. Suddenly the train started to move off while the band played in the carriage. Surreal stuff. The part of the set I saw was amazing and I've been assured the rest was too.

A quick mention for the best dressed man on the trip.

You can't get the full effect from this image but the styler was wearing a Gillingham Football Club (The Gills) knitted bobble hat, orange trousers, and a killer black cape with (I think) a twin lion's head and chain fastener.

The unusual juxtaposition of drinking real ale on a steam train, whilst at a rock festival was noted by more than one individual.

After the train ride it was time for high culture and a poorly attended book group meeting. We had been asked to pick a book to discuss, as had the other curators for the two weekends either end of our days. Our choice was Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, a modern masterpiece and a big favourite of James and me.

There were so few attendees that we took them back to our chalet to continue. In fact we knew all the attendees by this point. Honourable mentions to Ruth (who heroically led the session), Neil from the band Mugstar (a very smart man), Jason from Mugstar (a very nice man), Harry (all round decent gent), James, myself and Bronagh (pub quiz mistress and co-founder of upcoming denim fashion label, Fallow) who hadn't read the book but wanted to discuss it anyway. It was a very pleasant and stimulating couple of hours. Most civilised. The book is an essential read by the way.

Just before the evening's music the organisers of ATP, Barry and Deborah, sat for a Q&A, giving hardcore fans a rare opportunity to probe them about their events. This was very well attended and the debate was lively. I also got to meet a few of the individuals who we had personalised posters for.

As mentioned in a previous post, James and I had come up with an idea to print up a bunch of different posters and stick these up around the various venues and thoroughfares throughout the whole 10 days and all three festivals. These posters made ridiculous commands or statements and could pop up anywhere. The ATP runners were deciding when and where to place them.

Specifically for the In Between Days we personalised a few to surprise selected festival goers. We'd never met these people before so they were completely unaware and once seen I think the posters had the desired affect. All the posters proved very popular and wherever they went up, they didn't last long. I think there were around 40 different designs in total (not including the personal ones).

Later that evening Connan Mockasin gave another performance, this time plugged in and on a static stage. We also got to rock out to the SF psych sound of the excellent Wooden Shjips, and groove to Four Tet's rhythmic electronic meditations. Once again we were spoilt with exceptional performances.

I'll finish this post with more superfluous nonsense from Wednesday's 'zine.

Still more soon...

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

In Between Days - Tuesday

I decided to give Porlock Hill a miss and decided to try for slightly less extreme gradients this morning. I was joined for a ride by Kris from Ideal in Birmingham. I persuaded him to try the road up to Dunkery Beacon; unfortunately he was heinously over-geared and with only a 16-tooth cog at the back we decided that the one-in-four ramp at the start of the climb would be no fun so we went for a brisk 27k via Wooton Courtenay and Dunster instead.

View Larger Map

I was running a much less manly 13-29 cassette so I went out again to ride up to the top of the Beacon. It was amazing riding through the mist, but the road became too icy past the summit so I turned around.

View Larger Map

I was back for Jason Evans' inspiring talk about his work. Then it was time for Rollapalooza.

As someone who regularly witters on about running and cycling all the time, I felt duty-bound to crush all before me, and I didn't disappoint.

As I was reminded several times over the week, there was a music festival taking place, and on Tuesday we saw some great bands.

Most memorable for me on Tuesday were Factory Floor (I was concerned that Gabe might get into a fight with his synth-drums) and Caribou, who were pretty transcendent.  You have to respect a musician whose PHD thesis was titled Overconvergent Siegel Modular Symbols.

ATP In Between Days - Day 2

After a hearty brunch day 2 started with a talk given by long time friend, fellow ATP explorer, and all round photographic genius, Jason Evans.

I've know Jason (man in furry hat) for about 20 years and he still never ceases to amuse and inspire me. I check his Daily Nice site everyday and have many LPs in my collection sporting covers with artwork composed of his photos. His recent work with Four Tet is some of my favourite.

We invited him to give a talk on his work within the music industry and he chose to discuss how it was music that actually got him into photography in the first place.

Once again we suffered from slight technical problems. Despite spending the early morning successfully working out a way around the lack of Apple compatibility with the projector in the cinema venue, we arrived five minutes before the talk to find no projector at all. After a frantic 20 minutes or so we found the thing, Jason began his talk, and I struggled to cue his images at the right time as I kept missing the laptop key in the dark and strained to hear his words over the hum of the projector. He talked for over an hour and easily kept the attention of everyone in the room. His work and the processes he uses are fascinating. I think he inspired us all.

Next up was Rollapaluza. James invited these guys to bring their roadshow to the festival. They have two parallel bikes connected to rollers that drive a large dial. Individuals race head to head, on the spot, over a distance of 500 meters.

Clearly James was in his element and it wasn't long before he set the time to beat. Willing volunteers stepped up, but all failed to meet his mark. Even keen cyclist Kris (who co-runs seminal Birmingham Skate shop Ideal) could not match him on a head to head.

Granted he was two pints and a few smokes worse for wear so it was a brave attempt. I like to believe that on a clean day he may have given JJ a shock.

Check the sheer (but blurred) concentration on the face of the Bikemaster as he tries to squeeze one out to make his mark.

I was determined to see James humbled at his own game and there was a rumour that one of the New York contingent, among the ATP festival runners, used to compete in long distance bike races. I managed to collar him and persuade him that his real work duty of the day was to beat JJ (who by now had left the building triumphantly). I was looking forward to going back and telling James his time was beaten and he had a real challenger. But, alas, despite his age advantage, the guy had also been caning it for the previous few days and was woefully out of shape.

JJs supremacy continued into the evening. Amos even put up £50 prize money for the best male and female times in race offs between the evening's band performances. James said he wouldn't ride but as soon as a young pretender threatened to beat his afternoon time he stepped up to show him who was boss, and save Amos 50 quid.

And where was I during all this? I didn't even get on a bike having watched the dire state that the mere 500 meters left many of the competitors. Indeed, right at the beginning I had seen Will Sweeney preparing to race, left him to go back to my chalet for a smoke, and then 10 minutes later answered the door to a very pale and ill looking Will desperate for the bathroom. It took him a good hour to recover. I refused all offers to ride in fear of the mother of all whiteys. I know my limits.

The evening's entertainment was kicked off by former work colleague and Amos fan, Gabe Gurnsey and his band, Factory Floor. I've seen them on a number of occasions and this was the best. Gabe is a moody bastard on the drums.

There were at least a couple of times when I thought he was going to walk off during the set. But his compatriots Nik and Dom kept playing and he eventually came back.

Their set was being filmed by Vice TV but was unfortunately cut short by a fire alarm, probably set off by dry ice. I once saw Sunn O))) perform and start by filling the room with dry ice which set off all the building's alarms so summoning a disgruntled looking fire brigade (and not some demented demon as I'm sure they would prefer). Silly boys.

This was some how less comical and much more tense. It really fit the atmosphere Factory Floor managed to create during their set.

After, keyboard player Dom was hell bent on thieving some of the site posters we had created for the event. Although he did politely, and kindly, ask permission first.

These posters had been going up since the start of the first weekend and seemed popular with festival goers. More on these soon.

The other bands that performed on day 2 were Autolux, Caribou and Holy Fuck. All the bands were awesome. I've seen the latter two on a number of occasions but I can honestly say that their performances that night were the best I have seen. I heard others say the same of Caribou and there were people loving them who I would never have imagined. Another great night.

And of course there was a 'zine for day 2.

All the 'zines included new work from Will Sweeney relating to his Greenfuzz series (issue 4 soon... perhaps...). He did a series of Curious Facts, one for each issue. Click on the image to enlarge.

Other curious bits...

Again, click on the image to enlarge.

More soon...