All posts by HalfEdgeMedia

Regular writing and podcasting about music

The Studeo Articles #1 – Monkeys In Love

Following the decision to close the Studeo Blog I am copying over some the articles that appeared on that site. First up an overview and interview with Monkeys in Love which was originally published in November 2014.

Monkeys in Love are a rarity on the Greater Manchester music scene, their music and stage performances are unique, refreshing and highly entertaining. They do not sound or look like any other band you are likely to see.  Blending a theatrical flair in the visual department with an eclectic line-up and fascinating lyrics, they are one of the most important bands on the North West music scene at the moment.
Recent gigs outside of the Manchester area have begun to spread awareness about this exceptional group of musicians and writers. In a world of boring industry clones it is vital that we have bands like this one to offer variety and quality. Their live performances are always exciting, bordering on the anarchic, charmingly self-deprecating at times, but very enjoyable. Their releases to date have proved to be essential listening for lovers of fine music, and with a penchant for the quirky and imaginative, their next album is highly anticipated.
Lyrically the band focus on those things in everyday life that both frustrate and confuse, everything from gin in cans, via irritating behaviour in supermarket queues, to Rod Hull’s Emu are covered. The subject matter moves between the surreal and the every day with consummate ease.
Their music combines intricate beats, indie guitars and 60s space-age keyboards to create a whirlwind of memorable sounds. The occasional use of flute or recorder also gives them a different sonic palette to work from. The twin lead vocal line-up of the band allows for variety and creates a great aural and visual impact. The groups grasp of song dynamics, excellent riffs and chord sequences, and instantly memorable melodies, together with their theatrical performance values make them a must see band.
During a lull in the bands live activities, and with finishing touches being put to a new album,  I took the opportunity to ask the bands’ founder Steve Simms-Luddington a few questions about how they formed, their influences, and their plans for the future.
Who is in the band – what do they play – were they in any other bands before or since?
On bass… Chris Binks
On guitar, woodwinds and stylophone… Danielle McCullough
On guitar… Eamonn Murphy
On singing… Laura Simms-Luddington
And skulking at the back, trying to look useful… me  (Steve actually plays keyboards, controls the drum machines and is the joint lead vocalist with Laura)
In addition, Andy Robertson sometimes plays percussion for us, but usually only in the studio.
Most of us have played in bands before, but they were not as fun as this one, except in Andy’s case, ‘cos he’s got a band going on where gets to sing and play guitar, which is obviously a lot more fun than shaking a tambourine.
When did you start the band?
I started Monkeys In Love nearly ten years ago and Laura joined me a few months later, after a chance encounter at a rave in a disused mental asylum. It was pretty much just us and a drum machine in those days and I suspect it probably wasn’t that great , we were usually pretty drunk when we played, so I’ve no idea. Over the next few years, Eamonn joined, then Chris and finally Danielle and I think that was the point when we went from messing around and occasionally playing gigs to actually being a band. So in a way, we’ve only really been going for about four years or so.
What have you released to date – and what have you got planned for the future?
We released a mini album through a local indie label a couple of years ago, which was called Death Jeans,  and then we put out our first full length album The Monkeys In Love Will Pet And Cuddle You on our own label the following year. After that, we recorded a bunch of tracks for an EP , which is now available on Soundcloud, and a couple of those tracks have been re-recorded for our next full length album, which is titled The Monkeys In Love Take The Biscuit. After that there’s also our long-delayed split EP with our friends Werbeniuk (due out in April, I think) and a top secret digital EP that I’m not allowed to talk about just yet, which is coming out whenever it’s ready. If the wind’s fair, there might also be another mini album coming out next autumn or fairly soon after that.
Where do you get your ideas for the on-stage costumes – who makes them?
Laura makes the costumes and comes up with the majority of the ideas for them and the same goes for the slide projections and any other assorted stage props. Occasionally, the rest of us might make a few suggestions, but at least 90% of the time they come from her fevered imagination. They’re usually based on or related to our lyrics, although sometimes it might not necessarily seem that way at first glance.
What or who influences the band musically?
As far as I’m aware, we all like Stereolab , The Fall, Kim Deal,  Serge Gainsbourg, strange 60s/70s library & soundtrack music, a couple of us are on the Trunk Records mailing list, Black Sabbath, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine, Board of Canada, krautrock and so on. As for individual members of the band some favourites are as follows:
  • Chris: Slint and The Wipers
  • Danielle: Human League and Iron Monkeys
  • Eamonn: Bo Diddley and White Fence
  • Laura: Devo and Crowded House
  • Steve: Slapp Happy and Jane Birkin in the 70s
Any gigs planned?
We’re playing with Taser Puppets and Salford Media City at the Crescent in Salford on 29th November and there’ll be a launch party for the new album on February 6th at Gulliver’s in Manchester. After that, I imagine there’ll be a bit of a tour in the spring, although we haven’t actually booked any dates as yet.
Which current bands on the Manchester scene would you recommend?
I’m not going to list bands in case we forget anyone, or deliberately don’t include someone, and they get offended, but our favourite band that we’ve seen playing in Manchester of late was West Coast Sickline.
Some of your lyrics dwell on the darker side of suburban life – do you agree?
I’d say some of them do, yeah. That said, I can only think of one song on the new album that fits that description. There’s even a song where, if only for a moment, we eschew our trademark flippancy for something close to genuine emotion. A real “hearts on our sleeves” moment. I kid you not. But the rest are pretty snidey thistime round. We’ve got a few axes to grind. Our half of the split EP, and the mini album that follows on from it will be a bit more suburban, though.
A companion podcast to this interview with music from Monkeys In Love and the bands mentioned above is available here

Hypothetical Continuum


San Francisco Bay Area death metal group, and recent Unique Leader signees, Continuum, release their debut full-length, The Hypothesis, today

The brain child of lead guitarist/composer Chase Fraser (Decrepit Birth, Animosity), the band was formed in 2009 and features the current working lineup of Fraser alongside guitarist Ivan Munguia (Arkaik, Deeds Of Flesh), vocalist Riley McShane (Son Of Aurelius), bassist Nick Willbrand (Flesh Consumed) and drummer Spencer Edwards (Son Of Aurelius). Together the group provides a sound that rocks the very foundation of modern death metal.

Recorded mainly by Fraser with additional tracking and mixing by Zack Ohren (Suffocation, Fallujah, All Shall Perish et al.) a tCastle Ultimate Studios, The Hypothesis delivers a scathing math rock driven melee of engaging and abrasive compositions. Apparently the album is steeped conceptually in the mysteries of the infinite and the early but no-less-relevant and unsolved theories of the “continuum hypothesis.” This hypothesis was studied by a number of mathematicians including Georg Cantor in 1878, all of whom committed suicide before reaching a conclusion to the unfathomable question of infinity. This theme is brought to life by the lyrics of Mcshane, the artwork of Raymond Swanland (Deeds of Flesh, Psycroptic, Suffocation), and the mathematical compositions of Fraser.

A primer in progressive technical death metal, insane polyrhythmic drumming, manic riffing, scabrous dual vocalising and other-worldly lead guitar runs this is one for lovers of the genre. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:
1. Hypothesis: A Profound Discovery
2. The Epiphany
3. Hypothesis: Evolution
4. Absolute Zero
5. The Awakened Creator
6. Wasps In The History Of The Weak
7. Perspective
8. Where the Worlds Were left
9. A Surreal Descent
10. The Steppes To Ascension (featured on Sonic Attack Podcast 100)

Kowloon Walled City

San Francisco-based sludge/noise rock unit Kowloon Walled City have joined Neurot for the CD release of the band’s as-yet-untitled third full-length. The album is expected this autumn, with Gilead Media handling the release on vinyl.

Named after a now-demolished Hong Kong region notorious for its brothels, opium dens and casinos, Kowloon Walled City was formed in 2007 and has since released an EP, two full-lengths and a number of splits. Their most recent long player – 2013’s Container Ships, released via Brutal Panda Records – reaped the praise of fans and critics with Lambgoat dubbing it “their most impressive release to date” and the The Sludgelord commending the band’s “hard-hitting brilliance,” placing it among the year’s best offerings. As AllMusic says, “Kowloon Walled City take the sound pioneered by bands like the Jesus Lizard and Unsane and push it into new dimensions of heaviness.”

Further Kowloon Walled City news will be announced in the weeks to come. In the meantime, sample the band’s previous releases at their official Bandcamp page.

The aforementioned “Container Ships” is well worth investigating

Observed and improved

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil

You’ve Been Watching Me


20th April 2015


Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Oscar Noriega: bass, clarinets; Ryan Ferreira: guitars; Matt Mitchell: piano, electronics; Ches Smith: drums, vibraphone, percussion, timpani.

Tim Berne’s third ECM album, You’ve Been Watching Me, features the saxophonist-composer again leading his latest band Snakeoil, now expanded to  a quintet with the arrival of guitarist Ryan Ferreira, whose signature sound adds greater texture and more options to the overall feel of the music.

The group’s 2013 release, Shadow Man, left Berne with some of the highest accolades of his long and convoluted career, there cannot be many more jazzmen with more ensembles to their name e.g, Paraphrase, Big Satan, Hard Cell, Caos Totale, etc , With Snakeoil he has reached a creative peak distilling his work to date with those other groups into a radical but coherent collection. Without doubt with  this new album he has greatly further improved and enhanced his work and reputation.

The music is typically “Berneian”, extremely long and complex riffs/lines snake over an energetic rhythm section in the most part. However there is a more space here than hitherto with elements of the music taking a more introspective feel , Across the album the compositions and playing move from complex jazz/math/rock into more relaxed and contemplative chamber pieces through to Middle-Eastern melodies and into visceral layers of sound. In places you might feel you are listening to Pawn Hearts era Van Der Graaf Generator, Sonic Youth in their SYR mode,  or early Dave Holland ECM outings, such is the detailed interplay between the musicians. Ferreira’s rock tones, a fascinating mix of varying styles , together with unforgiving blowing from the two horns, create a joyous dynamic building slowly to ecstatic climaxes. Relatively short for Berne compositions, which in the past have in some instances exceeded well over 30 minutes, these pieces are well structured and engage the listener with their many ideas, their development and execution.

Former Berne collaborator Dave Torn produced the album to his usual very high standards.

Berne has a rich history of challenging conventions, his music will not appeal to all, but with this album he comes very close to offering a selection which could, and should, grab the attention of the more conservative jazz listeners and get him the wider recognition he richly deserves.

Highly recommended.

Tracks from the the album will be featured on World of Jazz Podcast 126 which will be available on 30th April.

Gene, Vince and David

The first ever single by Hamsters is released via German Shepherd Records on Friday 10th April 2015.

The subject matter is retro rocker Vince Taylor, who was inspired by Gene Vincent and in turn inspired David Bowie to create Ziggy Stardust. It comprises 3:12 of blues soaked punk with the trademark bellicose vocal from Ian “Moet” Moss.


For those not in the know Hamsters formed in 1980 “as a reaction against the raincoat clad pseuds of Manchester, whose dreadful negative tuneless drones were being given space in all the live music venues around the city. A young latter day punk rock crowd embraced them for their unquestionable ‘ don’t care what you think ‘ attitude, while being puzzled by the primitive but ambitious sound collages the band created. The art-rock crowd of City Life reading chin strokers derided them as yobs , rude and very crude.”

As a band they didn’t fit in , they stood apart from a post-punk scene which was quickly being hamstrung by it’s own success. Rather than this being a weakness it became the Hamsters strength , they had no one to pander to and so did what they pleased, what came natural. Their reputation spread , wildly differing opinions of their merits were heard , but they were on people’s lips. They gained a deserved but highly exaggerated reputation for being trouble magnets and drew bans from many venues , but as doors were being slammed in their faces other doors opened , high profile gigs with the likes of Joy Division , The Fall and Orange Juice were played , guest spots around the country on the ‘ Weird Tales tour’ with The Mob , Androids of Mu, Astronauts and Zounds spread the word nationwide. Perhaps success eluded them because of either a dogged refusal to sign to the Factory label or the failure to secure a John Peel session – Peel felt that there was something “too dark and dangerous” about the band.


Some recordings were made, and over the years have been made available both in the UK and USA (see the German Shepherd compilation Bloody Hell!) but a mere 20 months after forming the Hamsters split, teetring on the edge of breaking into the big time.

So there was never an actual  Hamsters single until now.  After many attempts to revisit the band over they years they most recently reformed in November 2014 to play live it was decided to write some new material rather than become a covers band of their past glories.  A week before the first gig at the Crescent, Salford as part of the German Shepherd live weekend , 4VT was written and opened the set that momentous evening,


Now it’s been taken into Simon ‘ Ding’ Archers 6 db studio in Salford , belted out with gusto and without further ado is presented to the world at large. With another single in the pipeline and gigs lined up it’s going to be a busy spring and summer for Hamsters.

Hamsters are

Damien Hughes , drums and guitar
Nigel Blinston , guitar and whistle
Jon Rowlinson , bass and vocals
Ian Moss , vocals
Stephen Middlehurst & Bob Williams – Spirit and inspiration

Forthcoming Gigs

11th April – The Crescent Salford

24th April – Dulcimer, Chorlton, Manchester

Anything Is Permitted

In a cathartic purge Ian Moss has recorded three albums worth of spoken word under the generic title “Anything Is Permitted At Any Given Time”.

Following the dissolution of his relationship with the band Kill Pretty Moss felt the need to close that chapter of his musical history with a tangible record of all of the lyrics he used with the group and other contemporary work. Some of the lyrics made it on to albums, some were on singles, but a considerable number never made it out of the rehearsal room.

Moss felt an album full of spoken word with no mise en scene would be dry and uncomfortable listening. so he commissioned sound artist Space Museum to create sounds/music/rhythm to support each track.

Moet for AD

Each of the three albums have been allocated a worthy cause and the money raised from sales will be given direct to FC United of Manchester, Emmaus Salford , or Strummercamp. These are three organisations that Moss is strong supporter of.

Below are the detailed liner notes that come with each album which tell the story much better than I can. Listening through the three releases it is striking how strong the words are taken out of the context of the music they were previously aligned with. This demonstrates, in no uncertain way, Moss’s importance as a lyricist, his grasp of contemporary issues and his unflinching desire to comment on matters that both concern and anger him. His frustration with the music business, politics, and the failure of humans to communicate is palpable. Emotionally raw in places, very funny in others, and always challenging this is an excellent historical record of an important period in the musical history of the Greater Manchester conurbation.

The Hamsters
Ian Moss wth The Hamsters

All three albums are reasonably priced at £4 each. There will be no physical versions of the albums in order to reduce overheads and maximise the money being given to three organisations that are supported. The albums are released on Friday 10th April via German Shepherd Records.


LINER NOTES (written by Ian Moss (words) and Space Museum (music))

Album One – Segments

Proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to FC United of Manchester to help with the development of the club and its new ground at Moston.

For this first album groups of lyrics have been brought together in segments


Acetone – written at the turn of the 90s for the Stepbrothers album ‘ Switched At Birth ‘ (available on German Shepherd Records). Given a rebirth in early Kill Pretty sets and recorded on ‘ in 80 days ‘


Baby Talk , proposed song for Kill Pretty , collapsed in a bad tempered rehearsal.

Pigkicker – a lyric without a home.

I Blaspheme , Gods Gift a great Salfordian band from the early 80s had a song called ‘ There is no God’ this was basically an update of that , recorded by Kill Pretty for album ‘ Bubblegum Now’.

Streets of London – a day trip to the capital left me feeling saddened and repulsed , wrote this on the train home as a possible single for Kill Pretty that never came to pass.

Crazy Paving – a jaundiced observation.


Why Must I Rhyme – self chastising

Devils Music , always fascinated by the friendship rivalry between Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis , I have long wanted to scream this over a rock n roll band having a ball.


Season in Hell – tribute to Arthur Rimbaud , rehearsed with unsatisfactory results.


What About Me? – Kill Pretty song released on the album Snake Sheds Skins still available from All The Madmen records.

Musicians Are Scum – I knew Pere Ubu had a song with this title which I thought was genius , I avoided hearing their song so I could write my own

Lotus Eaters – Kill Pretty version on album ‘ Bubblegum Now’

Heads Will Roll – a KP2 piece that was lost in the gold rush.

Iceland – written on the Kill Pretty trip to iceland , performed once in Sheffield and then retired.

Madcap- for Syd and myself, both out of kilter with the drones


Propshaft – version by Kill Pretty on album ‘ Bubblegum Now’, self indulgent crap according to some people.


Dadrock – my answer to the people mentioned above

Meat Grinder , KP2 , one that got away

Historical Allegations – another homeless KP2 piece about the top level whitewash and cover up of sex abuse cases perpetrated by the powerful against the vulnerable

The Scenic Route – a possible lyric for an Ion Morph recording.

I like this noise – written after a night watching ‘ Klaus Kinski! , ILL and 2 Koi Karp, a celebration ! Rehearsed several times with Kill Pretty , never remotely the way I envisaged it.

The Horror – a cautionary tale


The rat the cat dragged in , possible Hamster song

Notes for the background sounds

The overall brief for the background sounds was fairly open, there would be some dub, some jazz. some noise and some electronica but I was pretty much left to my own devices. Knowing some of the recorded songs very well I had to disassociate myself from what I expected to hear when those lyrics were uttered.

A major aim was to try and capture the raw emotion of the delivery.

As usual I work very quickly ( the Nick Lowe method) – I had a broad idea to segment the first album into groups and make this selection more theatrical. Acetone was recorded later in the process and was developed when a lot of the dub aligned music was being created.

Segment One was about the use of tonalities (the soundtrack to This Island Earth is a big influence on my work in this area – so you will hear sounds in that context). The words demanded their own space so the ambient sounds are meant to be just out of earshot. The words are processed with echo and reverb as appropriate.

Segment Two is mostly underpinned by an old Passage of Time tune which was inspired by early Tangerine Dream.

Segment Three is derived from some of the standard chill wave and drum & bass samples that come with Ableton broken up with some arpeggiators and sweeps.

Segment Four having worked on at least one of these tracks for several weeks (trying to rescue some of the studio stems from oblivion) I need to both reflect on what I had previously done. In the end I used an as yet unused tune which had been planned for another project for the first section and created a new piece of electronica for the second part.

Segment 5 – having spent some time on putting this, for want of a better phrase “sound collage” together a couple of years back – the brief Steve Reich with bits on the top – I was pleased to resurrect it. This is a slightly different version to the one eventually used on the Bubblegum Now album. The original stages of the development of the Reich inspired elements final piece can be found on the Passage of Time album Dreaming –

Segment 6 – it was important to get atonal/experimental at some stage in the proceedings – inspirations for this section come from Tortoise, Test Department, Foetus, Biota and AMM. It was also important to challenge the listener to seek out the lyrics.

Segment 7 – more of the same as segment 6.

Album Two – Hammer Blows

All proceeds from the sale of this album will go to support Emmaus Salford Homeless Facility.

Love twists – James Ellroy inspired piece , the Kill Pretty version is on the Dark Heart album

Hammer Blows – written in horror , Larry Gott wrote great music for it , recorded by Kill Pretty as b side of the Rob A Bank single.

Clever men with Thin Arms – a phrase thrown up during an episode of ‘ Games of Thrones’ I seized it and wrote this in 2 or 3 minutes , the Kill Pretty version is on the Dark Heart album

Finnish Hitman , recounting accurately an encounter I had in Stockholm after watching FCUnited , tried once or twice with Kill Pretty to no avail

Dark Heart – I received as a birthday present from my close friend Ciarán a hip hop compilation that inspired me to write something rhythmical , the song was me preparing myself for open heart surgery , the Kill Pretty version is on the Dark Heart album.

A Day in September (there are deliberately no notes for this song)

Swastika Girls – a straight honest narrative account of the self destructive impulses I struggled with as a teenager , to a backdrop of Fripp and Eno , I spilt blood. Appear on the Kill Pretty album Bubblegum Now.

Devil Resides – about internal struggle , the Kill Pretty version is on the Dark Heart album

13 moons – drawing inspiration from a genius of cinema , the Kill Pretty version is on the Dark Heart album with a remix on the Snake Sheds Skins album.

Mirror Factory – my job was crushing me , I knew I needed to move on even though things might not work out , a resignation letter , the Kill Pretty version is on the Dark Heart album

Kenneth Williams Penpal – performed at either the last Sicknurse show or first Kill Pretty show depending on your perspective.

Zombie Beat – written as lyric for a dark electronic track at the request of a friend

Hessler Berghoff – a bad dream gifted me this , recorded by Sicknurse and Kill Pretty on the album “in 80 days”.

Limboland – on the Kill Pretty album , Snake Sheds Skins , more misery!

Wild at Heart – written while recuperating , it was all in my head as I took a walk , simply poured it onto a page when I got home , on Kill Pretty album Bubblegum Now

Emperors New Clothes , , 2 versions by Kill Pretty on albums , in 80 days and Snake Sheds Skins. Fame at any level plays tricks with people’s perceptions

Notes for the sounds

The pace was picking up we were recording at a ridiculously fast rate, even for me – this set would be predominantly jazz and dub.

Love Twists – Jimmy Smith influenced Hammond repeated ad infinitum with strange swirling things

Hammer Blows (Raining Blood) – Larry Gott’s original was breathtakingly good so I found myself trying to make it as simple as possible – rhythm and electric piano

Clever Men Who Have Thin Arms – Filles de Kilimanjaro without the trumpet – it’s jazzy man

Finnish Hitman – ambient sounds, jamaican drums, and Fripp/Eno squiggles

Dark Heart – back to that Miles Davis sound, I couldn’t possibly cope with the magnificence of the original so I just took it to a smoky bar somewhere

A Day In September – paranoia, conspiracy and claustrophobia

Swastika Girl – jazz piano and atonal synth clusters

Devil Resides – experimenting with some of the more fascinating parts of the Oscillator synth – live mixing of the echo/reverb elements

13 Moons – previous de-constructed elsewhere but this time King Tubby influenced

Mirror Factory – Moet as Francis Albert at the bar of the Dog & Duck at closing time asking Joe to set them up again.

Kenneth Williams Penpal – simple electronic repetition

Zombie Beat – sweeps, Wakeman-esque piano’s, the nearest you’ll get to prog around here matey

Hessler Berghoff – funky urban stuff…..IM reminds me of Old Gunslinging Bill on this one so I imagine a dance hall with William, Brion, Jack K and Allen G doing the funky chicken to this tune.

Limboland – a tune I spent many hours reconstructing from studio bits so I needed to exorcise that experience – more elevator music for the slightly deranged.

Wild at Heart – soul jazz urban – saxophone by Lash Pedicure of Hard The Transition

Emperors New Clothes – another one I spent hours reconstructing a couple of years back so the need to do something different- an exercise in dub which seemed logical – no grudges here.

Album Three – We Are From The North

Proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to Strummercamp to assist their ongoing work to promote excellent music

The Factory Closed Down – one started with Larry Gott but not completed

Falling out with Harry – work politics driving me nuts , Harry was my employer ,,, he remains a friend

Legalise Drugs – when a band dismiss new material like this in favour of polishing older material it’s time to go , should have been a Kill Pretty single , wasn’t .

Manchester – on the Kill Pretty album “Bubblegum Now”

More Punk ! – A song that never quite fit anywhere , provoked by people with the right haircuts but the wrong attitudes

Mr Pye – my favourite author was Mervyn Peake. This is dedicated to him.

Old is the New Young – Wire, the pop group, Vic Godard , the Nightingales ,,even more relevant now than then.

Rehash – written with cute Bobby Williams in 2010 for that years Hamster shows , recorded by Kill Pretty for album “in 80 days”

Rob a Bank – musing one afternoon on ‘ love’ this happened , recorded by Kill Pretty on album Dark Heart.

Something Out Of The Day – inspired by a twisted boned old lady I encountered in Ashton under Lyne and memories of my mother , one I wanted to work on with Kill Pretty , enthusiasm elsewhere seemed lacking so it stayed on the shelf.

Streets Gonna Get You – a combination of cities I have felt uneasy in , Hamburg , Budapest , Athens , Philadelphia and Manchester , Kill Pretty version on album Bubblegum Now

Super Soar Away Sun – a dig at the dirty digger and his pack of dogs , on album Bubblegum Now.

Sylvia Fading – watching my mum dying horribly this was how I articulated her dementia , on Kill Pretty album Dark Heart.

Titty Belt – Ed Gein inspired piece intended for a possible final Kill Pretty album that was not to be.

Travelogue – dreadfully ill in a steaming Marrakesh hotel room , reading William Burroughs ‘ Wild Boys’ one verse each day as I suffered , first Kill Pretty recording , on album “in 80 days”

Unhappy Birthday – more meditation on my mums painful demise , co written with Larry Gott , on album ‘ Bubblegum Now’

War Porn – another one earmarked for Kill Pretty , never attempted ,

Andrews World – I met Andrew at Manchester ‘ pride’ he was a lovely person , I only saw him another couple of times , but was devastated when I heard he’d died so needlessly from a drug overdose , on Kill Pretty album Dark Heart

Back Passage Boys – unimpressed by my colleagues , no pride or shame , on Kill Pretty album Dark Heart

Breakdown Man – on Kill Pretty album Dark Heart , channelling my Bruceness,

Burnley – my absolute favourite Kill Pretty track ., so good it almost makes up for the disgust I feel at having been in that band , written in its entirety as I lay in hospital hooked up to a plentiful supply of morphine , it’s a tribute to places and people who have not surrendered their very identity , on album Bubblegum Now

D is for Death – the last (unrecorded ) Kill pretty song played with any regularity during my tenure with them.

Of course they continue, so expect plenty of toe tappers soon.

Notes for the sounds

The voice recordings were coming thick and fast and there was a desire to conclude things as soon as possible so the impetus would not be lost. So we had started of with something vaguely electronic, wandered through jazz and dub, this last set was a chance to continue some of that but also perhaps be more experimental.

The Factory Closed Down – a pop song structured little ditty

Falling Out With Harry – time for something a little more on the outer edges. We are both fond of Stockhausen so there is some of that but also more obscure film soundtracks.

Legalise Drugs – it suggested some sort of trancey trippy approach and what better influence than the 70s albums of Tim Blake with their spacey repetition.

Manchester – what to do with KP’s most famous tune? Well perhaps to reflect the bustling night life of the Cotton King. Intentionally all over the place in terms of rhythms and structures.

More Punk – dub rhythms, trumpets, distant guitars and sparse piano. The music bizz is full of envy and resentment – some tension and no release therefore.

Mr Pye – one of the last things recorded, there’s some reference to John Martyn here I think. It felt like it needed a late night sense to it.

Old is the New Young – deliberately experimental and repetitive

Rehash – again one I needed to take out the context of the original recording. Some manipulation and sampling of Mr Moss.

Rob A Bank – taking another famous one and putting it somewhere else – dub and drum ‘n’ bass seemed the most appropriate.

Something Out Of The Day – I had to get some arpeggiators in on at least one of the tracks, Ian is at his very best here and it deserved a nice simple melody floating over two chords.

Streets Gonna Get Ya – gave this one a jazzy urban feel.

Super Soaraway Sun – a very strong original musically so a complete brain flip was needed. Cheesy disco advert music.

Sylvia Fading – a deeply personal song so some attention to detail with a lounge jazz west coast style.

Titty Belt – menace and clapping – the Steve Reich connection continues

Travelogue – mutant dub, could have gone in a souk direction but that would have been a bit obvious

Unhappy Birthday – Mr Moss echoes Mr Gott’s melody in his delivery so I used Ableton to grab the notes and turn them into midi signals and then shoved that through the Oscillator synth.

War Porn – multiple rhythms and various extraneous sounds

Andrew’s World – guitars heavily processed and chill wave rhythms

Back Passage Boys – eschewing the Sabbath derivation of the original – four chord standard song structure with reversing synths

Breakdown Man – Kraftwerk obviously

Burnley – the original was all about Bo Diddley – this was New York Disco in a contradictory way

D is for Death – more serial repetition – Mr Moss shows is innate ability to hit the beat without even hearing the music – quite extraordinary as Mr Coleman used to say.


The Hamsters

Bloody Hell



Switched at Birth


A Cabinet Of Curiosities

A Curiosity of Cabinets


Chase The Dog (with Johann Kloos)

Legalise Drugs/War Porn (with Space Museum)

Check Out The Tsunami (with Nemo)

The Strawberry Fields/Cactus Circus (with Space Museum)

The Wilsons/Don’t Make Gods Of Men (with Space Museum)

All releases available from German Shepherd Records


Stephen Dobson – The Man Who Killed The Hamsters

1000 Jazz Albums You Really Ought To Hear – 0001 : Dave Holland Quartet – Extensions

ECM 1410


  • Dave Holland – Double Bass
  • Steve Coleman – Alto Saxophone
  • Kevin Eubanks – Guitar
  • Marvin “Smitty” Smith – Drums

Dave Holland’s eighth album to be released on the ECM label. It features two members of his previous quintet Coleman and Smith  alongside  Eubanks, in his first appearance on a Holland record. I had the pleasure of seeing the touring band for this album at the Band On The Wall, Manchester when it first came out. A memorable evening.

Album of the Year in Downbeat and rightly so. Beautifully recorded by Manfred Eicher the album is packed with exemplary playing, especially by the leader. The interplay between the four musicians is remarkable. It is predominantly post-bop with Holland leading a riff based series of heads. Eubanks demonstrates a wide variety of styles and Coleman is at his very best. Smith provides a powerful engine but also adds deft touches when the individual leads are soloing.

The open sound and the rock orientated delivery make this an album worth a visit if you are exploring jazz for the first time.