elastic bands – this week: Y


Why oh why is it Y?
Well, I’m away for a couple of days and really don’t need to come back to a full inbox of astronomical levels – so we get a tough one… and a little earlier in the week.
It’ll be easier next time – I promise.

The game to illustrate either:
How wildly eclectic your taste is… or,
How perfectly streamlined it is.

yeah baby


Lately I’ve been poking around at WordPress trying to understand their obscure system for posting multiple photos, I think I’ve finally got it, or at least enough to get started. I’d like to do an occasional post devoted to photography rather than music. I’ve always thought of myself primarily as a photographer, I wore all sorts of other hats but generally speaking, wherever I went I was always carrying a Nikon F or an F3. But not just a Nikon, often/usually I also had my camera bag on the other shoulder, that contained another Nikon with a different lens, plus both of them had motor drives. A Nikon F with a 180mm, f2.8 lens, with a motor drive with 8 AA batteries in it and loaded with a 36 expo roll of Ektachrome 200 weighs about 5.5 – 6 lbs. I carried two of those plus several spare lenses, spare batteries, plus a lot of various misc. photo gear and lots of spare film. I’m not complaining in the slightest, it was a chosen way of life. Generally speaking, wherever I went, that’s what I carried, particularly whenever on ‘holiday’ or at a musical event.
So I was walking along a rural lane in the village of Todos Santos Cuchumatan, It is situated in northeastern Guatemala in the the remote Sierra de los Cuchumatanes mountains at an elevation of about 8,000 ft. My fiend John and I had driven there in the VW camper van when we visited Guatemala in the late 70′s. The population of Todos Santos is predominantly indigenous, of Mayan descent, most of whom still speak the Mayan language of Mam. The town is one of few places in Guatemala where the indigenous population still make and wear their traditional clothing.
As I walked along that lane that morning I glanced up and saw a young boy walking towards me, my Nikon was in my right hand at about thigh level, the lens must have been pointing forward.
When he was about 10-12 ft from me he suddenly bent over from his waist to look directly level into the camera lens, I suspect that he’d never seen a professional camera with a long lens before. Instantly I dropped to one knee to be at his level and fired one quick shot and as I did so I remember saying to myself “That’s probably the best photo I’ve ever taken” but at the same instant I knew that it was out of focus. I straightened up and instantly fired another but the magic had passed, he was no longer looking into the lens. There was no auto-focus in those days, every shot had to be manually focussed. I should mention that the reason for using a motor drive was because the film was instantaneously advanced whenever a shot was made, the camera was always ‘cocked’, always ready to shoot, a huge advantage.

This is the first shot I took that day, to the non-critical eye it might look OK but if you look carefully you’ll see that it is out of focus.

best copy

This is the second shot, it’s OK, it’s in focus but something’s missing.

the kid2 copy
If you click on them they will become larger.

Here’s a selection of photos of people from that village, notice the similarity of their clothes, the women make them on primitive looms in their cottages and every family has a different traditional design. This is not uncommon in Guatemala and you can often tell where a person’s from by the design of his/her clothing. I’ve read that the design of these clothes originates with the Spanish conquistadors who came to Guatemala in the sixteenth century, check out the codpieces, the shoes and the elaborate collars. I started buying examples of their clothes and came home with a large collection. They were not dumb about selling them, I recall at one cottage paying about $440 for several items, a huge amount considering that the men usually worked at seasonal agriculture for less than $1 per day! The women were the only ones who made and sold the clothes and these were not tourist items, there were no tourists, these were the clothes that they wore. They’re absolutely beautiful. I have them hanging in the house.
I very rarely asked permission to shoot photos, had I done so the moment would have been lost, instead if I saw a shot I’d point my camera and smile and a return smile was my OK. I can only ever remember one time where someone was upset at my shooting, it was in this village and I was standing against a wall at the edge of the market shooting with a 300mm lens, suddenly there was a ‘whack’ up the side of my head, a woman had hit me with a stick; I took the hint and quit for the day. Generally speaking most people were happy to have their photos taken.

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flight or fight?

Ali’s photo for Earworms reminded me of two fantastic videos – The Hidden Camera’s video is so powerful it takes over the brilliant song. Based on an old comic Joel wrote – it’s been a live favourite for a while. The short film has been shown at festivals in Berlin and Canada to much acclaim. The freedom of the birds over the field at the start is rather significant.

Another film that uses the flight of birds as a metaphor for escape is Leonard Cohen’s – First We Take Manhattan, their flight is deliberately juxtaposed against the songs beat to discombobulate.

cheery Tuesday post, eh?

Car’tune Co’mic

jesus-and-mary-twinsSo I hope everyone has seen this site before – it’s why the internet was invented according to barbryn and I:

I have nine days left to finish a massive bit of artwork for a major (the major) exhibition of the year around these parts – so what better use of my time – than knuckling down and … and .. and

….faffing about with comic strips.

Monkey gone to Hoobes

Question is, what would you merge?
Does Eeyore pick up the mic and sing Cohen?
Does Andy Capp sing AC/DC?

Give us your wish list
if it’s a bit more obscure show me some links -
‘spill pints for creativity.
Tank Girl has got to work with Kenickie lyrics, right?

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It was a bright cold day on the ‘spill, and the clocks were striking 13…


My 11 most played albums of ’12 in ’13.

My end of year round up is now turned into the ‘spill game:
you know the score DUMP one (or all of them – see if I care)

It’s pop and it’s fun – don’t take it too seriously.
Remember, they are my most played – I’m not claiming they will change the world – I just liked them.

Band names in BOLD – for those who believe I make stuff up:

1 Stroke My Curls The Dodoz Forever I Can Purr 2012
2 Cuka (feat. Ikonoklasta) Batida Batida (feat. Mck, Circuito Feixado, Ikonoklasta, Beat Laden 2012
3 The Empty Man Whitey Lost Summer 2012
4 Genevieve Stealing Sheep Into The Diamond Sun 2012
5 Horn For The Whole Damn World Lazarus and the Plane Crash Horseplay
6 Passenger Emily Wells Mama 2012
7 Kevlar Sweethearts Diablo Swing Orchestra Pandora’s Pinata 2012
8 Be Strong (Blakkat Remix) The 2 Bears Be Strong (Deluxe Edition) 2012
9 Rat-at-at The Skints Part & Parcel 2012
10 Clap Hooded Fang Tosta Mista 2012
11 Circus Sunday Driver The Mutiny 2012

there’s and aRRmy around the country


Now you’ve gone and left me and there’s nothing here,
But a tenner in my pocket and a fridge full of beer,
There’s an aRRmy around the country, we’re all stuck in our rooms
It takes a lot of preparation to make a move.

1 Foot Soldiers (Star-Spangled Funky) Funkadelic
2 A Brighter Beat Malcolm Middleton
3 On My Shoulders The Dø
4 Brave Tin Soldiers Sarah Nixey
5 The Happiest Place on Earth Desaparecidos
6 Soldier’s Grin Wolf Parade

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Why Are You Being So Toquiwa Now?

Tokyo all female three-piece TOQUIWA release their hi-energy J-punk in the UK on October the 22nd, 2012. Scopitones announced TOQUIWA’s self-titled debut on digital release and limited edition tour CD.
They begin touring the UK on 26/10 in Bournemouth – I’m going to be there (in a home made bright orange TOQUIWA T-shirt) – I also made a T-shirt using the ticket from a live Wedding Presents Ukrainian Sessions gig. But I can’t wear both.

This is the track listing and below the review are Smash Hits style questions sportingly answered by the band.

(I want to post this today – so I will have to ask Sakura to advise if I’ve got anything in the wrong places)

Photograph of the band used with permission – all designs created by arTEEsane are not for profit – please don’t use.

illustrative track from Music Ripple recorded as Pinky Piglets

The self titled album by Toquiwa on the Wedding Presents Scopitones label, should almost be called go out and get ‘em girl – such is the frantic pace that they erupt with perfect pop rock. The first 13 seconds set up the album (you heard right – 13 seconds sets out their manifesto) – Fantasticly playing the many influences and condensing them into a tight Toquiwa package.
Strangely managing to be extremely talented musicians yet still exuding that punk ethic of innocence and naivety.
The tracks have so many astonishingly catchy segments and hooks, you wonder how the pace can be kept up, but keep up they do, building and building, twisting styles and era’s together as if timelines were squeezed, squashed and smashed into their musical brains. Until in comes out sounding as though these things should always have sat together (superbly) in each 3 minute track.
Not only that, they know how to sequence an album – just as your head might explode keeping up – (ten second bar room blues, into superfly 70′s style, into a quiet millisecond break – roaring back into .. you get the drift – I’m loath to compare because it all sounds so Toquiwa – but as reference you could detect The Animals merging with a Curtis Mayfield track with hints of Kirsty MacColl’s weariness and wonder, while a Status Quo repetitive rock riff underpins a track – and quite loud quiet indie rock aesthetics jostle in) they take a breather with a ballad – and then we are invited to party hard once again, ending with an enthusiastic Wedding Present adaption to thrill and inspire while closing the album out.
It’s fantastic fun – superbly performed and feverishly played. Total enjoyment.

Would they be happy to answer my frivolous questions linking to each song on the album?:


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RR Player Shirt


I think I got the inaugural RR Player shirt? It arrived today (unannounced, with no fanfare) and was a wonderful surprise. It totally exceeded my expectations.

Shane had emailed me a list of my A listers to check which took me a few hours as I hadn’t got a clue and had to look some of them up in The Marconium. He has listed these as you can see on the design.

I requested a long sleeve ladies style in a faded-out looking black or gray colour. The fabric is great.  Here’s a picture of everything except the neck (which is round).

This is going to be my Thursday shirt from now on.


Thanks Shane!

I’m with the readers recommend guru.

Wearing Influences On Our Sleeve-Less T-shirts – Electric President

I’ll be at Chatsworth Road Market, Hackney – I believe that’s in London (in the Rushmore Primary School playground) on Sunday between 11 and 4 o’clock if anyone wants to come along and say Hi – I’ll be the one with bright orange t-shirts and Brainasaurus books to sell.

Hopefully, Sunday night I’ll be back to add some phone songs – until then, have fun everyone.
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Music Snob Tees

Riot Season records has been a favourite label of mine for a few years now, it releases doomy and noise type stuff and is the labour of love of a nice bloke called Andy. Well, he seems like a nice bloke, I don’t know him or anything!

Anyway, he has just started a new venture selling music snob t-shirts that I thought might tickle the fancy of some ‘Spillers. There are only a few designs so far, but I suppose more will be forthcoming.

I fancy the doom or krautrock one myself!

Check his website for what there is so far!

zanxeo and the gorilla’s gold

1 Always Gold Radical Face
2 Gold For The Price Of Silver (Erot Collaboration) Kings Of Convenience
3 Inside The Golden Days Of Missing You Silver Jews
4 Gold Sol Seppy
5 Gold Mine Gutted (Her Space Holiday MIx) Bright Eyes


1 Black Gold Foals
2 Cream of Gold_mix2 Astrid Swan
3 Realms Of Gold Hopewell
4 The Golden Boy Parov Stelar
5 Solid Gold The Golden Filter

1 Calypso Gold Princeton
2 Turn It Gold (Derek Allen Remix) Hestra Prynn
3 Gold In The Fire (We Have Band Remix) Monarchy
4 Gold, Tan, Peach, And Grey Bodies Of Water
5 Attack on Golden Mountain Subrosa
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A Fright At The Museum

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A visitor returning to the newly refurbished National Museum of Scotland would certainly be taken aback: how the hell do I get in and why are there so many people in here on such a beautiful day? I used to walk past it on my way home from work. They had late opening on a Tuesday and if it was raining I would go in for a wander. It was badly lit, badly organised and there had been repeated attempts to modernise which were utterly useless.

There was however a masterplan to put things right: the neighbouring site was to become home to the Museum of Scotland and it would eventually link to the original Venetian inspired Victorian building. So out went the flea-bitten taxidermy, fusty display cases, stupid mezzanine levels and water features and in came the clarity of a well designed space and the second most important thing in a museum: light.

The entrance has been reworked so you go in at basement level and walk up to the splendour of the Grand Gallery which was bathed with dazzling sunlight on Saturday, the day after it had re-opened. The place was packed out so we only got about halfway around the exhibits.

Being a relatively small museum it keeps the quality up and the repetition down so it’s a child friendly place. The galleries have been opened up vertically to create neck-craning spaces filled with suspended exhibits. There are good exhibits on the ancient world and on design in the home. You can go up to a rooftop terrace for lunch and a fantastic viewing platform giving great views of the city. And it’s all free!

Dieter Rams – The Man Who Shaped the Modern World

I was keen to do a post that was related to our shared musical interest, but in a more oblique fashion. There are few things that unite or divide opinion like music, but the look of things is certainly one of them. Modernism or Victoriana are just as likely to elicit a negative reaction as they are to be embraced, but all eras have styles or objects of enduring appeal.

I have worked for 20 years on and off for design companies. This happened entirely by accident, a result of a job interview I did in London. My interviewer was late and tipsy and I was offered the job on the spot. What sold me was a visit to this German company’s showrooms – it was like a Pauline conversion. I had no idea I was interested in design up to that point, but leaving there that day I was sure that I was! Since then I have worked mainly with German manufacturers of high end kit and they all took their cues in one way or another from one man: Dieter Rams.

Rams is an industrial designer. His goal was to make products from a functionalist persuasion rather than an aesthetic one –  the design being based on what is purposeful rather than starting out with the mindset of producing something which will look pretty. However many products which he designed do indeed look pretty. Here’s his take on hi-fi equipment.

Braun SK4

The SK4 must have looked like something from outer space when it was launched in 1956. Nicknamed “Snow White’s Coffin”, it had a see through lid – an innovation typical of Rams. He was ahead of his time on speakers and tuners too!

Braun LE1 Loudspeaker

Braun 9 FM Radio

These products look as good now as the day they were launched. Rams became chief designer at Braun in 1961 and oversaw a range of products from juicers to clocks and calculators. In the 80s he came up with Ten Commandments of good design. They may seem trite but they are universal in their applicability and it is amazing how often they are not followed, leaving us with unappealing, incomprehensible or plain useless products!

Good design is innovative

Good design makes a product useful

Good design is aesthetic

Good design makes a product understandable

Good design is unobtrusive

Good design is honest

Good design is long lasting

Good design is thorough, down to the last detail

Good design is environmentally friendly

Good design is as little design as possible

The last commandment is probably the most telling. He’s not really interested in minimalism, things are not pared down for just that end. His maxim is Less, But Better. These commandments and the quality of his work have had a profound impact on the way things look today. There will be something in your pocket or on your desk that betrays his  influence on product designers, the most obvious disciple being Jonathan Ive of Apple. Check out some of these products and their progenitors.

Braun T3 Pocket Radio & Apple's iPod

Apple iPhone & Braun ET44 Calculator

In each case the Braun product predates the Apple one by 30 years or more.

Dieter Rams retired in 1998 but many of his designs are still in production. He recently said that Apple are the only company currently manufacturing products that adhere to his Ten Commandments. I don’t really go with that in that one of Apple’s core strategies in recent years has been to drip-feed innovation onto the market, forcing their devotees into an endless cycle of product purchases to “consume” innovation. This to me is a profiteering strategy which does not place the customer at the product’s focus. Apple will eventually pay the price for this, they are losing customers already to the Android product and their focus on innovation is on the wane

I have a Braun alarm clock which I have thrown around my bedroom for nigh on twenty years. It is voice activated, keeps time perfectly and of course looks beautiful. Rams will remain an inspiration and next time you pick up your iPhone or iPod, smile and spare him a thought!