Independents Day

When I find that the state of the music industry is causing me grief once again, I can look back to 8th April 2018 when my faith in grassroots music was yet again rekindled by John Donaldson and his band of travelling musicians.


A short tour involving the aforementioned John (as JD Meatyard), Tamsin A (of Mr Heart, Ill and Liines), Kin, Mankes and my co-conspirator in all matters German Shepherd, Ian “Moet” Moss had already touched Blackburn, Darwen and Sheffield before descending on Manchester. The city is still buzzing from the previous days’ derby match. The train from Eccles to Piccadilly takes me through the Ordsall Chord for the first time. The number of very high tower blocks along the route gives me the strong impression that Manchester aspires to be Manhattan. I do wonder whether sufficient planning has been developed to ensure that the infrastructure can cope with so much humanity in such a small area.

The walk from Piccadilly involves a complex dance around scurrying commuters, the number of people “living” on the street feels like it is inexorably growing, and they are all so much younger. The contradiction/disconnect between the expansive high-value housing market seen from the train and destitution on the city streets is chastening. It seems ridiculous that in a country with an economy as strong as ours that such things have occurred and are not being dealt with. I raise these somewhat political points to set a context for JD Meatyards’ set later in the day which covers them more effectively than I can.

Step back several years to the first Independents Tour at the now-defunct Crescent Pub (another victim of an uncontrolled housing/commercial market) where performances from Hamsters, Tamsin, Cannonball Statman, and JD Meatyard led to the release of three albums worth of excellent live music and set in course a series of artistically perfect relationships. A year later at the Salford Music Festival, JD Meatyard plays to a packed room at The Eagle Inn and wins over a boisterous crowd.  Up to date and this time around we are at The Peer Hat for a late afternoon/early evening of memorable music.

Huge thanks need to go to Paul Forshaw for diligently capturing this for posterity.

Tamsin begins proceedings following a short introduction from Mr Moss in his spoken word persona.  Her music has moved on leaps and bounds since I saw her last. It’s a trend for the afternoon that she and former bandmate in Mr Heart, Kin, use looping devices to a stunning effect. At times she can mirror the fractured fragility of Kristin Hersh at her best, and other moments there is a full-on wall of sound with layered guitars and vocals which can keep pace with any full-on punk band you would care to mention. The songs are stronger, the arrangements more complex, and the delivery the best I have seen from her. When she isn’t fulfilling her Ill or Liines duties she should find time to get this material recorded. Words are not enough to describe it so fortunately, we have this capture.

A short break for another glass of alcohol-free lager and then it’s time for Kin. It’s seven years since I last saw her do an album launch at the Castle before jetting off to Holland for another life, and another band, which has now dissolved. Time and distance have not diluted her amazing talent. She and  Moet kick things off with an improvisation around “The Wilsons”, a song that was supposed be done by Kill Pretty, was rescued by myself and Ian (in our IM-SM period), and also memorably was also given the Loop-Azanvour treatment at the aforementioned Castle last year. It’s one of Ian’s finest lyrics and this spontaneous version is remarkable. What follows is a triumph of technology, musicianship, and vocalese which sees Kin expanding beyond her influences into her own musical territory. Her voice is stronger than ever. Her command of a battery of pedals allows her to create percussion, orchestral guitar layers, and a truly dynamic performance. Again words do not do enough justice for a memorable set of cutting-edge music,  see for yourself.

Third on the bill are the remarkable Mankes. They are from Holland and comprise Selma Peelen, Johan Visschers and Peter Kahmann. For a three-piece, they make a huge noise. Acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards are combined to create huge cinematic statements. Selma’s voice soars incandescently over droning hypnotic rhythms, the tunes are great and memorable. Sometimes it is stripped back to just acoustic guitar and percussion to offer an impressive variety of impressive content. I buy the album from the merch table, and you will be hearing it on future editions of Aural Delights. Pending that bask in the sumptuous and organic sounds of a remarkable band.

And finally the remarkable JD Meatyard, Moet kicks things off with a great reading of “The Elephant’s Graveyard” (one of my favourite pieces that we have done together) and an acerbic “Freemasons” before a rambunctious set from the trio. Tamsin joins on guitar for an excellent collection of John’s best tunes including a breathless “Ubu@Erics”, an acerbic “St Peter at The Gates”,and the call to arms of the marvellous “Jesse James”. John has the ability to mix rich polemic rants, with beautiful heartfelt ballads, he can make you joyful, angry and tearful, he tugs at your heart with his words. He plays new songs from a forthcoming album which promised for later in the year. The Teenage Propshaft makes his inevitable and customary appearance. Matters conclude with a massive reading of “Palestine Song” which is clearly current. Members of Mankes join for a huge wall of sound conclusion. An encore of “Lies, Lies and Government” is unfortunately not captured visually, but an aural version remains for posterity.

Lets do it again some time.

Of words and music……..

Six weeks since the last post on here. Not good!

To be fair to myself we have been rather busy with a number of gigs and three albums released in one day last Friday. Plus I’ve been catching up on my reading, which is a discipline that has been neglected, what with one thing and another. It is important, I think, to keep the mind stimulated with both the written word, as well as listening to music.

The content this time around includes a rainy night in Bury and covers in the main the latest release from Dave Graney and Clare Moore, in between several books, a lot of music and the first glimmers of Spring amongst biblical rain events.

This is in no particular order in terms of time, more a series of thoughts which may, or may not, be related.

So i’ll be hopping around the time line.

The latest offering from Dave Graney and Clare Moore struck a chord, a mental note if you would. This time last year when I was stood in the corridor outside the gig room at the Eagle trying to convince a passing punter to watch the visiting aforementioned Antipodeans, I was struggling to codify what the “Graney” sound was all about within the narrow strictures of genre. “Err sort of blues, rock, country and jazz all rolled into one” was my miserable attempt to describe what Dave & Co are about. The revelation on listening to Dave and Clare’s latest “single” release ‘How Long Does The Raunch?” was more of a literary than a musical one. But you need to listen to it first to appreciate what I am about to expand upon.

Dave calls is “jazz pop” or more mysteriously “Bolan Jazz” in the Cockaigne Records blog. On the surface it’s an amalgamation of jazzy chords and circular Reich leaning marimba and vibes, with an off kilter bass line, the trademark Graney unconventional song structure and words that hang between street jive and the complex text of say Samuel Beckett, or Thomas Pynchon, or perhaps more closely John Cowper Powys, or Paul Auster. And there was the revelation, and synchronicity, and serendipity for me, that listening to Graney/Moore is the aural equivalent of reading any of those aforementioned writers.

Mark E.Smith once used the phrase “Scientists and their bloody childish reading habits”  (ten points to the reader who can get the song that line comes from) and to some extent that sums me up, at least for half the time. I’m Just as happy these days reading Auster or Pynchon as I am reading Martin Scott’s Thraxas books, or Malcolm Pryce’s Louis Knight books.  Being trained as a scientist, before I realised it wasn’t for me, I recall that there was above average chance that the sort of books, or more often than not the comics (Marvel, DC etc) , that myself and my  contemporaries were reading back then, would be pulp crime or SF or fantasy works, rather than deeper and more complex prose. So for a good chunk of my adolescence I was reading “easy” stuff of a non-literary nature, there was not  the academic discipline in the school/university curriculum  to train a growing mind in both the scientific world and its  literary equivalent, unless you count the very odd “German for Scientists” course I was shoe horned into t Uni!  No wonder this fledging scientist reverted to the latest Michael Moorcock for some light relief after ploughing through some dense prose on the Tricarboxylic Acid cycle or the structure of DNA.  A change in career was the damascene journey from the pulp of my youth to later years when the artistic side of my brain was allowed to flourish

As an aside, one of the key way stops on the way to the literary  Road to Damascus thing for me  was a book from the Bloomsbury press called “M.H. Zools Good Reading Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy” (1989) and specifically within that tome a series of very good and informative  reading recommendations, most notably the entry on Phillip K. Dick who I had been focusing on around the time it was released. The structure of the guide is quite helpful in that it gives a brief biography of an author, lists their key works and then extrapolates further reading from other authors that has some congruity with the subjects work. In the PKD list was a book by Paul Auster called ‘The New York Trilogy’,  alongside ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ by Hunter S. Thompson, and ‘The Naked Lunch” by William Burroughs. All three of those authors would be key actors in the developing shift from the simple to the complex in my home library. A short listing on page 56 of Zool entitled “The Edge of SF”  included ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Thomas Pynchon, alongside Borges, Marquez, and Wolfe. Pynchon also appears in a list entitled “Theatre of the Absurd”, and also in the Kurt Vonnegut list of alternative reading. In one respect the Zool could be seen as a clever marketing ploy to get the reader to go out and spend all their money on books. It worked on me, and there was a sustained period in my mid to late 20s when the book collection grew exponentially, Picador press being one of the main benefactors from my hard earned wages.

But I digress. So, the revelation after listening to  “How Long Does The Raunch?” was that Graney & Moore were the musical avatar that took me on the same journey as Beckett, Pynchon, Powys and Auster et al. did from a literary perspective. It started to some degree with ‘Dandies Are Never Unbuttoned’  from “The Soft ‘n’ Sexy Sound” by The Coral Snakes, continued in “Heroic Blues”, and “The Brother Who Lived”, and reached a critical peak with “Fearful Wiggings”. It also emerges amongst the thirteen songs that have been  released over the last year and will be brought together in a CD collection called “Let’s Get Tight” soon. Graney & Moore as a whole requires concentration, attention and commitment because they step outside of  the conventions of structure and language of “rock and roll” in the same way that Auster, at his best, defies the structural norm, and that Beckett uses language in a completely different way. As an aside and a coincidence I am currently reading Auster’s novella “Travels In The Scriptorium” which has a bit of good Old Sam about it.

Speaking of “rock and roll” leads me to a trip to Bury several weeks back to catch Adventures of Salvador. Some months back an over zealous sound man ruined my first live exposure to this band so I was pleased to accept SDs offer to see the four piece again, this time in their home town. As is usual at this time of the year the level of precipitation, coupled with an “incident” on the Metrolink network , mitigated against a stress free journey into Manchester. We met in an overcrowded Moon Under Water, grabbed a quick meal, and then hopped on the Bury tram at Victoria station. A quick pint on arrival amongst the distracting gaggle of some sort of hen do and then into the compact basement venue of the Blind Tiger  to catch AOS. The revelation is Ollie Nicholson’s drumming which is exceptional and which adds to a musically very competent band with great songs and a style that teeters between power pop, post-punk and mutant country blues. They are highly recommended and very entertaining.

I may have mentioned before I try to stay away from rock biographies as they tend to end up depressing me, and more importantly, breaking the fourth wall between the rock and roll world and reality, bringing all that glorious hope and vision back to the mundanity of day to day existence. I could not, however with all conscience, duck out of reading Robert Forster’s semi-autobiographical book “Grant and I”, given the importance of that band in my own personal musical history. It arrived via the Book Depository from the other side of the planet at the end of last week and I devoured it within three days. The speed of reading is in no small part down to the Forster writing style which is measured and clear. He takes you back to his youth, the formation of the band, the relationship with Grant and Lindy and through the trials and tribulations of one the key Australian bands of the late 20th Century. In comparison with the scattered fanzine like structure of David Nicholls book on the band there is a more coherent narrative, although there are giant leaps in the  time frame in some parts. What is missing for me is perhaps a better understanding of how songs were crafted. What is clear is the propensity of the wider music business to completely miss out on the opportunity to promote good quality material, and the importance of the more grass roots elements of the business in helping bands like The Go-Betweens to survive. It struck a chord with our work with German Shepherd records. The sad part of the tale comes towards the end where the impact of a rock and roll life style way heavily on the two main protagonists and their health, and like David McComb, how alcohol eventually snuffs out the genius of Grant McLennan far too early.  It made me want to go back and listen to the music again, which is perhaps the more important legacy, especially the suite of solo albums that the two produced between the two main phases of the band.

The three aforementioned releases from last Friday are worth a mention, if only as part of a heavy handed form of marketing. The first thing to mention is the compilation called Cambridge Calling Volume One. A more detailed piece on the background of the album and the bands involved can be found here. Suffice to say it is an eclectic mix of the bands that make up the music scene in the city and more volumes will follow in due course. All proceeds for the this first release will go towards the Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge. Many thanks go towards Dave Hammond for his hard work in pulling this together and allowing us to participate in the project.

Out of the above and again with thanks to Dave Hammond for providing an introduction we also had the pleasure of releasing the latest album by Keltrix, who appear on the album above. Dave provides an excellent review of the album in Sounds On-Line so I won’t event try and emulate that. What I will say is that this album fits perfectly within the German Shepherd ethos. The ability of Sharon and Keri to take a traditional musical form and merge it with modern electronica, dance and techno, and their capacity to bring in guest producers to transform their sound is notable and remarkable. Keri’s voice is unique and Sharon’s lead instrument, the violin, fits well with an entirely modern musical framework. There are some exceptional songs here and it is an early candidate for album of the year for me. This band deserves to be heard by more people.

So, and to conclude, last Friday. It’s raining again. I meet SD in a Waterhouse pub again, we go for  a bite to eat again, some excellent Asian Street Food on this occasion, and then wander around the back streets of Piccadilly to the bohemian darkness of The Castle. I was wondering for future gigs if we should use The Castle rather than the Eagle but I am more comfortable with the layout of the latter, and it’s general sound and friendliness of the staff. However it is just about right for the musical endeavours of the evening which include Ian Moss, Moff Skellington, and Loop-Aznavour. We get a reasonable sized crowd, better than the last collaboration in Leeds in 2016 in any event. The one person responsible for my introduction to the world of Moff is also in attendance, the smiling Julia Adamson. Ian does a new piece about dogs, Moff performs his new album, and then collaborates with Ian on a new piece called “Predator Fascinates Imbecile”,  Loop does his usual excellent set, and then Loop and Ian perform a couple of pieces including a new version of the excellent “The Wilsons”. It is both challenging and funny, fascinating and thought provoking, and above all entertaining. There will be another in June sometime. Takings on the door allow a small stipend to paid to each of the three performers a rarity for our little cottage industry.

The Best of 2016 #3 – Singles and EPs

This one is going to be a little different due to the nature of releases this year. All will become apparent as I meander through things. The nature of what I do on an almost daily basis i.e. putting together radio shows/podcasts and running a record label means that a serious amount of individual tracks come in for potential airplay or indeed for release on the label. So trying to do a definitive list of the “best” is nigh on impossible – if they made it onto the podcast or got released by the record label they are, because they got through that gateway, “better than the rest” so i’ll generalise…..and this is in no sort of order of importance as I love them all with equal fervour……with the stuff at the bottom of the page being the “top of the pops” as it were

The Moss Brothers – various releases by Ian and Neil under various aliases – the work rate of Ian Moss is legendary, add his sibling into the mix and you have a an even faster production line of fascinating music – whether it be Ian & Neil, Sebastien the Tortoise, A Magpie and a Goldfish, or 2 Big Brothers it’s all great.

Taser Puppets : Fossil – their latest EP and first with German Shepherd proved to be their best yet. A health scare for front man Shaun put things on hold for a while but a barn storming set at the Salford Music Festival but them back on the North West musical map.

Alana Bondi : Alana Bondi EP – another artist who battled through health problems in 2015/6 to deliver a remarkable debut EP and stunning video to the opener “Four Walls” plus a run of shows including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The Sideshow : How It Goes – a remarkable single, pure pop for now people as Nick Lowe once said. Should have broken through this one and still a mystery as to why it didn’t.

The Screaming Love Collective : Three Singles – proof that repetition in music is still potent as a way of delivering ideas that are fresh.

The Mind Sweepers : The Mating Game – Vicky Middles asked if we could help out with this one and we were pleased to get involved. They call themselves genre defying and they certainly deliver on that score.

Bouquet of Dead Crows : Epicentre – a great collection of alternative versions, live cuts and a remix crowned a great year for the “Crows”  – a new album is in the pipeline and an album of radio sessions is promised for the new year.

The Madding Crowd – a good year, a great EP, an epic EP launch and a sense of renewed promise and hope for this north Manchester band.

Stalagmites : Between City and Cellar Door – back with a bang with a great EP, Brad Lynch is one of the best songwriters Salford has delivered with fantastic lyrics and epic tunes.

The Parish Church Fire : Locamente – another one where I sit here with a puzzled expression wondering why it wasn’t huge.

Staggs : Adult Loonies and A Rum Do – when I am fed up I turn to Staggs to cheer myself up – the diversity across these two releases is a testament to the skill and inventiveness of Ridley and Scott – punk, electronica and krautrock,  there’s something for everyone.

The Get : The Private Men EP – The Get are remarkable, their lo-fi approach to what they do, their relentless charm and enthusiasm is infectious. A great collection of songs.

Moff and Moss – aside from a remarkable debut album an epic single which dwelt on Mr Crowley and other strangeness. Expect new stuff in the New Year which is development at the moment – it will all become clear at the gig at the Castle in March!

Rose and the Diamond Hand : Universe Is Woman – should be huge, a remarkable voice, an amazing band, and a great live show, add a fantastic debut EP and you have a great year for Rose and co.

and the top three

3. KIT B – Weird Water – impressive song-writing from a great live band who broke into the festival circuit this year and garnered some impressive live reviews

2. m.t. scott – The Broken EP and 13 Queer Street – Michael left the wonderful world of Staggs for a while  to create two collections of aural wonderment. Cinematic in their scope and impressive in their musical depth he is clearly a creative force that requires/demands/deserves  a wider audience. I’ve been lucky enough to listen to these collections develop from ideas into fully formed pieces of aural magic.

1. The Graney and Moore Singles Releases – throughout the year Dave and Clare have released a digital single a month (more or less there will be one in January) in an effort, I believe, to escape the usual routines in the music industry. I can’t decide which is the best amongst any of them, so I’m bringing all ten into a collective number one, but if you were to push me the latest one “I Ain’t Hi Vis” is probably my favourite. The variety across this set of releases is impressive, the trademark Graney wit is in full effect, and musically, as is always the case, they are top notch. Notably there is more than a bit of a jazz tinge than is usual which of course ticks a lot of boxes for me. You can grab them all at the DG bandcamp page.  For the record the releases were:

I’m a Good Hater
This Is the Deadest Place I’ve Ever Died In
I Been Trendy
Drifting Donna Reed
Are You Out Of Your Mind? (Get Back In)
You Need a Kleek, Klook
Rupert’s Pet’s Grave
Matey, From On High
Let’s Kick this Mob Out
I Ain’t Hi Vis




Of Mice, Men and Lumps

In this modern world where the bland and the safe seem to be more commercially acceptable than the cutting edge, and thought provoking work gets little traction, it’s hard to maintain a positive perspective on the music industry. Operating outside of the norms of that industry is one action which gives blessed relief from the mundane. Self releasing and self promoting is hard work, it will cost you money, and time, and it may not reap the financial results that might be deserved, but you will at least get your music out there. When we set up German Shepherd records nearly three years ago now we had no real plan, we had some ground rules, and some small objectives, but we didn’t have an end game. Perhaps that was a good thing. Expectations might have been too high. There is frustration in this. A sense of disappointment that music we genuinely feel deserves to be heard and enjoyed isn’t getting the sort of exposure that others are. But we carry on.  By Christmas we will have released 53 albums, EPs and singles this year. Some will say that is too much, they might be right, but it came in, we liked it and so we sent it out into the world.

The 49th of those releases is from Moss Skellington. Those who know what we do will realise that this is a partnership between Ian “Moet” Moss (aka House Mouse) and Moff Skellington. The two have collaborated on two previous singles, and two live events, in the last 18 months. The time was right for an album.


The methodology is fairly simple. Ian writes some words, and sometimes narrates them into a sound file. Moff builds a musical world around them with his battery of unique instruments. The component parts are then sent over to me for a degree of cutting, pasting, and fettling, and then Ian and Moff may add more vocals. The resulting whole is then mixed and mastered for sending out into the world. This eschews the need for expensive recording studios and other such trammels of the music industry. Most of it is done on a home studio, a phone, and a lap-top. These things are possible nowadays.

The album is called “The Lump” and comprises seven tracks. It represents two artists at their creative peak who are both cutting edge and thought provoking. The music is grounded in traditional folk forms but don’t be put off by that genre description. This is the folk of Comus and that ilk, not some chap in a woolly jumper with a finger in his ear. it is folk with bits added, a hint of Tom Waits, a smattering of Pere Ubu, a dusting of Fripp and Eno, an echo of Faust, a whimsy of Kevin Ayers, and nod towards modern urban forms like grime.  Moss’s well renowned vocals and lyrics are of course the centre piece, but the added value is Moff’s particular use of music to create new and vivid backdrops for the words.


The subject matter is intriguing, the title track appears to be medical in it’s nature but on closer examination is revealed to have much deeper meaning. The combination of dark urban synth sounds, blues harmonica and squeeze box is utterly unique. “Chalk and Cheese”, which has a great call and response between the two protagonists, describes relationships in a honest way. “Look at the Fool”, with african rhythms from Moff,  is a piece of Moss biting wit which requires close hearing. “Posh Nosh” derides the current obsession with food in the “Masterchef” era. “Serial Killing” is a dark tale of murder and mayhem on the underground. The 17 minute “The Mouse Engine” is a magnum opus which takes you through a word-scape which Lewis Carroll would have been proud off, rich with imagery, and utterly marvellous. The album closes with the plaintive waltz “The Other Side of the Looking Glass” which offers a glimmer of hope for the future.

Exceptional , unique and stunning. It should be listened to and is a primer for outsider music. it is released via German Shepherd Records on 25th November 2016.




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