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diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

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…and we’re back!

Posted: May 6th, 2012, by Marceline Smith

If you’re reading this, then you’ve arrived at the new diskant. Where ‘new’ equals ‘archived’. diskant has pretty much served its purpose – there are loads of ways for new bands to promote themselves, billions of new social networking sites for similar-minded folks to hang out and anyone can start a blog at the push of a button.

So don’t expect any new posts here, although there might be some if we feel like it. There’s still an enormous archive of awesome features, interviews and blog posts to dig around in, and if you miss us, then you’ll be interested in the new Where are they now? page, which will tell you what the diskant writers are up to now. Many of us have new blogs, bands, businesses and other exciting projects going on that should take note of.

If you’ve ever been a part of diskant, whether as a staffer, writer, random interviewer or just a member of the legendary diskant Yahoo group, please do email me or leave a comment and tell us what you’re up to these days so I can add you to the page. I’m not (just) being a sap when I say the diskant years were some of the best of my life, and introduced me to some of the greatest people I ever expect to meet.

So, I’ll just say THANKS to everyone, writers and readers alike. It was a fun fifteen years.

Some more lists

Posted: December 29th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

In case you missed them:

Justin’s Top 10 Drone Records Of 2011 at Anti Gravity Bunny

Stu’s Best Albums and Best Gigs of 2011 at The Spider Hill

James’ epic Top 200 Tracks from 2011 at haonowshaokao

and not a diskanteer as such but Ben’s 42 Best Records of 2011 at Stereo Sanctity is a good read.

I Like Lists

Posted: December 27th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Well, if Dr Proffitt is going to come out of retirement, I guess I should too. Especially since I had nothing better to do on Boxing Day after eating my breakfast pie.

RECORDS

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will / Earth Division EP
Being one of those annoying people who always prefer the early stuff, Mogwai continue to be my favourite band for consistently releasing albums that are better than the last one. And 12″ EPs without filler.

Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes
Always the Girl Aloud most likely to do something interesting, I was thrilled she went down the bonkers Scandinavian pop route, one of my favourite genres.

Annie – Don’t Stop
Slightly less bonker,s but actually Scandinavian, pop.

Wild Flag – Wild Flag
So hyped I was almost put off checking them out, but yeah, they are great.

 

FILMS

Arrietty
A year with a Ghibli movie is always a good year, and this was almost up to Miyazaki levels.

Super 8
So full of JJ Abrams cliches it’s hilarious, but the train crash scene is one the greatest things I saw on screen all year.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I was sure this would be terrible but it stands up well and somehow managed to be even more ponderous in a couple of hours than the miniseries.

Upside Down – Creation Records thing
Nostalgia ahoy – so good!

Tintin
Tintin was a Big Thing in our house as children so I was never going to be happy with all the bizarre story changes/additions but it was at least fun.

 

BOOKS

A Dance With Dragons – George RR Martin
A bit flawed, but after a 5 year wait, I’m just happy to have more story. The TV show (Game of Thrones) was awesome though – at least that will keep us going for the next five.

The Celestial Cafe – Stuart Murdoch
A cross between a memoir and a Belle and Sebastian tour diary (and a love letter to Glasgow). I’d have liked this anyway, but it kept me entertained while sitting in A&E for 2 hours after slicing my hand open so extra props for that.

Nothing To See Here – Anne Ward
A guidebook to the unexpectedly interesting places of Scotland – if you’ve ever considered taking a detour on your journey after spotting a bizarre road sign then this is the book for you. Buy it here.

100 Tiny Moments From My Past, Present and Future – Edward Ross
Fantastic little book of comics, drawn every day for 100 days and documenting tiny everyday moments. Even greater are the little peeks into his past and his imagined future. Buy it here.

 

ZINES

Burn Collector #15 – Al Burian
One of my favourite ever zinesters, always managing to mix hilarity and melancholy in equal parts. The personal articles are my favourite but also includes some interesting stuff about Berlin, where he’s now based. Buy it here.

How To Be A Ghost – Neil Slorance & Campbell Miller
A cute little illustrated zine about what to do when you’re a ghost. It’s a great read and one of 5 zines inspired by my zine workshop last year – so cool. Buy it here.

The Various Things I Eat by Deth P Sun
Deth drew everything he ate every day for six months. Surprisingly interesting to look through, especially if you’re not American. What is all this stuff? Buy it here.

DIY Times
Packed full of interviews with people doing things the DIY way, whether that’s printing t-shirts, making tables or running Supersonic. Probably my favourite zine discovery this year. Buy it here.

Fire & Knives
Still the only magazine I spend £10 on and consider that a bargain. Great food writing and even better design and illustration. Buy it here.

 

EVENTS

Mogwai at the Grand Ole Opry, Glasgow
I hadn’t seen Mogwai for a couple of years so this was equal parts nostalgia and jaw dropping amazement at their new stuff. Plus the fun of watching Mogwai while sitting in the balcony of a tiny line dancing venue can’t really be overstated.

Errors at the Barras, Glasgow
It’s been even longer since I saw Errors and I kind of hate myself now. So so good. Their next album is going to be killer. They even upstaged Mogwai who they were supporting as Mogwai were (dare I say it?) TOO LOUD, to the point of distortion.

The Most Incredible Thing at Sadlers Wells, London
I have been getting into ballet lately, like the old person/teenage girl I am, so imagine my delight when the Pet Shop Boys staged a ballet. Possibly the only ballet to successfully combine Communist Russia, paper cutting, the X Factor and pop music, and do it perfectly seriously.

Eska at Stereo, Glasgow
What can I say? Like being transported back to 1998 for the evening, not to mention the minor diskant meet-up. Good times.

Anyone else?

Temporary Resurrection

Posted: December 13th, 2011, by Simon Proffitt

Hi! Just thought I’d check in to see what was going on over in diskantland, and since it’s mid-December, and since no-one’s written much for a while, I thought I’d add a quick year-end thingmie in case anyone’s still reading.

2011 was the year in which I finally alienated myself from all my friends (by being unable – for reasons that are still unclear to me – to keep in touch with anyone), in which I took up recreational trespassing, and in which I realised that I’m getting old. One of the musical avenues that I’ve always tried to travel down has been the one marked ‘extreme’. I’ve always seemed to be searching for harder, louder, more visceral, or conversely more minimal, quieter, slower – regardless of genre, I’ve wanted to hear the things that are testing the limits. Finding out what these things are and how to get them hasn’t always been straightforward, especially in the days before the internet (as information resource and as lending library), and along the way there have been miss-steps and disappointments, especially in hindsight: reading all about Cabaret Voltaire and the surrounding hype as a wide-eyed teen and then my first purchase of theirs being their pretty embarrassingly lame house LP Groovy, Laidback and Nasty being a notable example. But then this year I’ve realised that a surprising amount of so-called extreme music is actually total crap, and some of it that isn’t crap, that is actually still very good, I just don’t have the patience for any more. I think I think this because I’m getting old and my melody gland is starting to swell up. So this year I’ve found myself rejecting the kind of discordant, confrontational, improvised music that I’ve previously championed, and instead enjoying a lot of music of the kind that might get played on Radio 2. Stuff with nice harmonies, proper tunes you can whistle. Pop music. Good old fashion rock. One of the best tracks I heard all year, for instance (even though it’s from 2007) was Feist’s The Water. It’s devastating! I even bought the last Smoke Fairies album. On vinyl! With real money. This is not something that’s been easy to admit to myself or to the general public, but then I’m not really interested in impressing people with how cool I am, so I’ll just state it as fact.

So whereas my favourite albums of 2011 might once have looked like this:

1. .#: oooooooooooooooooooooooooO
2. Jean-Pierre Cockbingo & Mbandu Mbandu Mbandu: Those Barren Assemblies Vol.3
3. -|-\/\//\-t-: _/////wITTcH___////////___
4. Some 12 year old Hoxton tit improvising on an electro-acoustic beetroot: Live in Williamsburg

Here are my actual favourite albums of the year:

1. The Psychic Paramount: II

2. Snowman: Absence

3. Still Corners: Creatures of an Hour

4. Thee Oh Sees: Carrion Crawler/The Dream

5. Surgeon: Breaking the Frame

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdB6EcmNy7s

6. The Twilight Sad: Acoustic EP

7. Wild Beasts: Smother

8. The Advisory Circle: As The Crow Flies

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuckyVN5dsQ

9. Radiohead: The King of Limbs

10. Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

11. Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica

12: The Beach Boys: Smile

Merry Christmas!

the slow decline of diskant

Posted: July 27th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Hello ever-decreasing band of loyal diskant readers! As you may have noticed, diskant is slowly slipping into retirement. What with all these Facebooks and iPhones and things, there’s just too many other places for us to be posting our thoughts on, and being the incredibly creative and amazing people we are, there are now about 5 million things on the internet run by diskanteers. If you’re missing anyone in particular, try that list of author links on the top right. I may well follow this up with an extensive list of diskant-related blogs you should be reading.

As we’ve built up such an epic vault of awesome content over the last 13 years, there is no way I will ever let diskant disappear, major disasters permitting, but it does cost me a fair bit to maintain so I may have to move over to some more affordable hosting in the near future. So, if everything disappears soon, don’t panic! We’ll be back.

I would hope we’ll still manage a few round-ups and things now and again, as it’s cool to see what everyone’s up to, but I would definitely recommend subscribing to our RSS feed (in Google Reader or whatnot) so that you can hear about these infrequent postings.

Self-promotion alert!

If you’re now lacking some good reading, you might like my new zine distro, pushpin zines. diskant was of course built from the late 90s zine scene and I’ve been continuing my zinemaking ever since, while also recently encouraging a whole new generation of zinesters. At pushpin, you can buy lots of cool zines by my favourite zinesters on my favourite subjects – travel, creativity, Japan and personal stories. If you decide to buy anything, mention diskant at checkout and I’ll send you some freebies too!

THE DOOMED BIRD OF PROVIDENCE – Will Ever Pray (CD, Front And Follow)

Posted: May 29th, 2011, by JGRAM

I don’t think I will ever feel at ease with Australia.  Its just too vast, just too hot.  It’s the kind of place where bad things happen beneath a tempered sun that can’t help but influence and direct a person’s behaviour in unhealthy fashion

Originally hailing from such parts The Doomed Bird Of Providence is not so much a band as it is a gang.  At last count it was five strong and growing.  With this their arsenal of instruments has grown over time and now as they present their debut album their aural vision is as clear and powerful as ever.

Boasting a previous criminal record, when the Doomed Bird Of Providence first unleashed their wares a couple of years ago with their self titled EP on Laily Recordings it was a prized eruption that contained a solid set of songs at the hands of band leader Mark Kluzek which eventually led to low level scandal regarding the selling of goods on eBay.

With Will Ever Pray the message is clear: this band is here to give you nightmares, to saddle you with guilt as the Poms must be forced to pay for previous indiscretions.

The piece opens with vocals distributed like lashes.  From here strings soon drop, sinking their claws into proceedings from where they never let go.  With this accordion then seeps in as the occasional piano keys drip like blood and guitar parts are driven and tempered.

Something of a concept album possessing a staunch inflicted narrative Will Ever Pray is a two part monster as the first four songs telling tales of early exploration and deportation by ship in and around the Australia region.  Then “the massacre of the whole of the passengers and part of the crew of The Sea Horse on her homeward passage from Sydney” consumes the following five track finale.  Naturally its downbeat content but ultimately more entertaining and accessible than watching the History Channel.  In other words this is a previously untapped fountain of information.

Comparisons do not come easy or necessarily clear in compliment.  Obviously the accordion is an instrument that does not get a lot of action in a rocking world and while hardly being Klezmar, its use and execution is somewhat more ghastly than the dark, likeable and comic Tiger Lillies.  Likewise the heavy violin strings delivered in an Australian context obviously recall The Dirty Three however when they layer in tandem and echo with guitar it feels akin to darkland Velvet Underground.  To this you can perhaps throw into the mix a sense of Tindersticks but ultimately the band is so much more as it offers a sound that it earnest and very much its own.  You won’t hear anything else that sounds like this in a hurry.

Of the first half raft it is “On The Deathbed Of Janus Weathercock” which provides the highlight with the detailed description of a man’s demise as all comes together sonically and majestically lending something of a tranquil air to anything but a peaceful demise.  The hooks here are the kind that give birth to goosebumps.  This physical reaction however may also be as result from the fact that Weathercock was a notorious poisoner.

As the second half of the record begins and the massacre ensues this chapter opens with a ten minute plus instrumental of ringing strings as a queasy sensation prevails and an eventual hook and loop that perversely reminds me of an unidentified staple from my past (sorry to be vague).  From here a clap shanty spurs the crew into action as by part 3 there is talk of “slashing throats” and “cutting out tongues” which makes for a horrific snapshot in time.  With this part 4 resumes the score motif as delicate piano ticks lend the piece a calm after the storm feel, housing a raindrop like sensation to represent the closure and conclusion of the rain in blood (reign in blood).  By the end the devastation feels like jubilation as a change in order feels very much on the cards.

To garner a full appreciation of this record it is beneficial to listen intently as the multitude of instruments all jostle for position while at the same time being given space to breathe.  This is a truly tight outfit and very talented musicians playing to their strengths and syncing in the most dogged and accomplished manner.

Curiously this makes for very good public transport music especially trips that are long haul.  While sat squashed onto a train with my fellow passengers I can’t help but empathise and liken my plight as I envisage all aboard being driven and dragged to a destination against our wills as the necessity outweighs the enjoyment of our existence and whisks us into bondage, suffering and misery.  With this I can’t but view it all as a shared experience and use it as an effective tool to combat the labour of my day.

This is the real deal.

Did ya.

Thesaurus moment: carnage.

The Doomed Bird Of Providence

Front And Follow

DEERHOOF – Deerhoof vs. Evil (Joyful Noise)

Posted: March 6th, 2011, by Pascal Ansell

You heard Deerhoof? Yeah they’re really great. Here’s a picture:

Really great. You heard new album Evil?

San Francisco’s finest are back with buckets of anti-Evil vengeance. With no outside engineery-type help Deerhoof are a self-recording/self-producing force this time round. Released by Joyful Noise (among others) on cassette, packed with handbaked editing goodness, a collection with all varieties of nonsensical twinkly sonic innovation. Over the duration of several weeks each track was cannily leaked by the band over different sites, and after a good bout of surfing you can access them all from their hub.

Straight off we’re treated to a flabbergasting range of sounds squeezed from guitars which sound like overworked (and underpaid) machines. Six strings act as cash registers and angry hair dryers, doing well to resemble anything but guitars on the glimmering opening track, sung in Catalan.

The Merry Barracks is a sweet droplet of a Deerhoof tune and the album’s standout track. An inexplicably crude bassline begins while the rest of the band plain ignore it to proceed bashing out one of Deerhoof’s most perfect songs to date. Addictive hook, sweet harmony, free noise guitar solo – just perfect. And served up right after is another superlative: probably their sweetest, most heart-wrenching tun;, acoustic guitars a-winding, faint vocals, tender percussion… it’s here.

Midway through we’re treated with a vicious cover of the theme tune to a dusty old Greek film whose name you won’t know and don’t need to. A shrieking, glittering delight, perfect clear guitar chimes a pierced line, chasing an abrasive riff. The album’s last third sees Deerhoof doing their best to write some convention into the tunes, with some beautiful instances of pinching a tight harmony at the ends of phrases.

Irrelevance is on my mind. Explorations are interesting in themselves but it might give the impression of a breathless trip round an ingenious mini-golf club, a toy theme park and finally a sweet shop of red herrings. Did we fall into any catchy cobblestone steps on the way? You bet we did. What did we learn? Err, rhubarb and custard, liquorice… Plus a stomach full of smarties.

Deerhoof do their job though serving their trademark sweet and sour,  a dish delirious with saccharine rips of kitchen scourer. Disjointed, sloppy drum beats are the order of the day, the magic stick wizard Greg Saunier otherwise taking a back seat for songwriting to steer the album. All is in order but the deer and the hoof haven’t let go of their tedious habit of allowing an album to peter out as per usual in a weak mesh of synths and melodramatic vocals.

Apart from some questionable diversions, a truly first rate, top mark, 5 sticky gold stars to slap on their progress report – and a big smiley crayon face – I am truly in danger of gushing at every sparkly track and not letting it to yourselves; Just like that sweaty taxi driver who never lets you get out and see for yourself – arms obsession hairy. You should be happy that there’s too much sweet Deerhoofy goodness that I haven’t mentioned.

Joyful Noise

Pascal Ansell

Glaswegian Grand Prix

Posted: February 18th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJZQ9xBrkWo-A&w=500&h=311

I’m always impressed by Mogwai’s ability to celebrate Glasgow without it degenerating into patriotic flag-waving idiocy. Their video for Mexican Grand Prix is a case in point. I think anyone who’s ever spent even 24 hours in Glasgow can’t fail to enjoy this – if you actually live here, it’s even more awesome (plus you can play ‘spot my mate’). See also Findo Gask’s One Eight Zero video below for West Enders. Glasgow = THE BEST.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHFcX550G8o-A&w=500&h=405

JOAN OF ARC – Oh Brother (Joyful Noise)

Posted: February 12th, 2011, by Pascal Ansell

Even if all that was caught on tape was an indiscreet sample of midday farting, I’d leap at the chance to review anything that shaggy rhythm monkey / god Zach Hill would wave his sticks at. Thankfully Oh Brother catches more than a mere guff of his rhythmic arse cheeks. Zach is just one of the many collaborators on what seems to be an Almost Joan of Arc release, JOA being kings of complicated floppy-haired indie rock.

If this is “indie-rock for the initiated” as Mr Press Release would have it, where are we going with new music? Free improv and electronic meanderings are making their steady invasion, I can only hope, into the cardigan armpits of guitar-slingers.

Oh Brother is four movements of roughly 20 mins each – movements, of what? Drones, Sonic Youthish plod plod plodding + jangling guitar, metronomic kraut rock, and mashes of unloosed improv, seething arrows pointing at all angles. Although well edited, this is in effect a series of long jams which are interrupted, cut clean and diced between fairly interesting interludes of electronic spasms and ad-lib drumkit drooling. One thought popping up a bit too regularly is that the ideas aren’t worth the space they’re given. Too much assorted veg, begging for more meat.

More to be said about the editing, above all the album’s deftest of fingernails polishings. Clever segues are brought on by synthy blips, an acoustic guitar section opens the window for fresh direction, brightly signalling yet another segue, that of the third movement’s sheet of crash symbols and rippling feedback. Yet I’m enjoying the ideas more than their execution. Is there any real, exciting development of concept? Most of it feels like the culminations of bygone jams.

And Zach? He has some moments: classic skipping beat that twists i’ ‘nan ‘dout of conventional rhythm at the cock crow of movement #4, then there’s some appetising all-out, ruthless free gorging of the kit scattered around the entire LP. The excessive is contained, that is I suppose the aim, but there was much lacking from the excess in the first place.

Chopped up and blended into lumps of obsessions, it’s partly lacking cohesion, more bedroom fantasy than triumphant chronicle of vision. It works; just, kind of, not really, but is fun all the same.

http://www.myspace.com/joanfrc

Pascal Ansell

2010 catch-up: Personal Highlights

Posted: January 7th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Two of my bands did their final ever shows. Sunnyvale, with diskant’s Mr Simon Minter, reformed for the tenth anniversary of our festival Audioscope, which was a total ball and a delight to play the songs again. And From Light To Sound collapsed after the entire rhythm section left, which felt a bit premature. Have a listen over here if you like, you can download all our stuff for free. Still, got a new band now called Listing Ships, which is kicking off with recording and gigs in January. So hopefully that’ll be my event of 2011… (Stu Fowkes)

Moving to Berlin and making a racket singing Brahms’ Requiem and joining a klezmer band. (Pascal Ansell)

2010 was a big year for me - my third year of self-employment and filled with great things. A few standouts were the release of my own signature line of welly boots courtesy of Plueys (for reals, people are walking around with my name on their footwear!), the Zine Workshop I organised in Glasgow and getting a fold-up bike just in time for Summer! But best of all was returning to Japan for an all too short 10 day trip. We spent some time getting to know Osaka, visited the inspiring Design Festa in Tokyo and I even got my photo taken with a giant pink dancing bunny. Doesn’t get any better than that. (Marceline Smith)

Because we hate sleep, personal freedom and not being covered in someone else’s urine, vomit and faeces, my wife and I had another child.  He’s awesome though, so it’s ok. (Alex McChesney)

There have been too many great things going on this year. My advice: try to do at least one interesting, chat-worthy thing each day. (Simon Minter)

My new year’s resolution was to do one cool thing a week and in the end I managed to meet this in fifty of the fifty two weeks. As part of this I became a member at both the Southbank Centre and BFI which has paid with highlights such as seeing talks by Slavoj Zizek, Bret Easton Ellis, John Waters, John Landis and Darren Aronofsky. Also the London Film Festival, London Literature Festival and London Word Festivals all provided major thrills. Probably the best event was taking dad to Wembley to see Millwall in the play off final for a second year running but this time we actually won! (JGRAM)