Fat Butcher's Photosonica
North London V-tard splicing beauty to the beats

Jun
30

Bruised, bloody, burned…. bed, bath, beaming… It’s a classic Glastonbury depressurising procedure here at the Butcher’s block as wounds are dressed and gigs assessed -who shone brightest, who was better this year than last year, who could have tried harder, who left out the cover of Womaniser I walked 8 miles on blister skin to hear?

Florence rocked her earth-mother witch-Madonna look across the John Peel stage, climbing up the rigging and stomping about like she owned the place. Which for 40-odd minutes, she did. A pure flaming ball of confidence, her voice belted out unconventional hits with military bombast, sending the crowd senile with excitement.

Did anybody else notice the huge black bird of prey circling above the crowd at the Other stage when Dizzy Rascal was on? No, didn’t think so – you were going bonkers for Dance Wiv Me and gyrating to Bonkers. The track Sirens sent shivers right through me – something about that filthy industrial-strength guitar screech over callous lyrics about mugging people in London makes you want to pick up a lead pipe and run.

Nobody could have missed the enormous metal sculpture belting fire in Trash City. There was a sorta Final Destination vibe in the crowd the whole time it was on… as if everyone was quietly certain we were all about to be charred to crackling, but knowing we’d be a part of something cool. The heat off this thing was scary; I kept checking to see if my hair was singed at the back, jamming my shades on as enormous mushroom clouds of raging flame billowed from countless sooty spouts.

Florence’s spirited bellowing of Dog Days Are Over was my teary-eyed weak-knees moment of 2009 (Last year on the same stage, MGMT left me blubbing like a jilted bride during Time To Pretend) – some combination of the yearning, hopeful tone of the song, the defeated screaming, the sleep deprivation, and the substances (I think someone spiked my jazz cigarette), and the triumph of seeing a band you wish well on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury all surge as one toward your heart and tear ducts, and all you can do is raise your bottle and go ‘Wooooeeeeeeeeaaaargh!’ at the end of each song, wiping mud over the bags under your eyes, sniffing back the worst. Something similar happened during Jarvis later that night at the same stage, as he tied up the loose ends of Slush, one of his trademark prise-open-your-ribs-and-wring-your-heart-like-a-dishcloth ballads which he clearly intends to release this Christmas: ‘Yesterday you fell out of the sky/ Covered all my faults up, just like snow…”

The John Peel stage had the best visual backdrop – a huge LED array which scintillated rhythmically, all top-of-the-pops-serious colours:- blue, white, some pink. I saw a lot of shit visuals (guys, the dawn of time is a period you can plunder for low-res “techno” graphics for only so long) but also some brilliant video mapping in the Shangri La field, the big central courtyard with the white battlements. Graphics buzzed and crawled along the edges and planes of the structures and on the side of the Club Dada venue, lined up precisely and designed with simple effect.

Our gig (Kim Lone) at the Snakepit was rowdy fun and packed with revellers plastered in fake tattoos (they wouldn’t let you in without one – the queue was a mile long and I was in a rush so I just told security mine was behind my balls), and then on Sunday we were on at 3 in the afternoon at Club Dada – never a good slot if you want an audience, but astoundingly we had around 50 people not only wander in but stay! Hopefully we provided one of those ‘Glastonbury moments’ that occur when a handful of people experience something special together, privately, in the midst of a 150,000 crowd.

So in conclusion; sad I missed Jamie T and Fleet Foxes, but overjoyed that I was there, survived the mud, worshiped the sun, and found it pretty much on a par with last year in almost every respect. One last word: stage banter. Bring it back, please; we want idle chatter, intros, lame segués (props to Damon for his local-newscaster-strength links btw), brief histories and final words.

Jun
21

Last year I was on the train down to Glastonbury and got chatting to the petite brunette sat next to me with the sexpot snakeskin boots. That lady turned out to be Kim Lone, an idiosyncratic performer from Austria who tours Europe with her band singing burlesque, gypsy cabaret songs she writes about love, men, regrets, sex and the bittersweet reality of being a sinner with a conscience.

kim 3So jump forward 11 months and we’re meeting up in Stoke Newington graveyard and devising a show for Glastonbury 2009. Kim did a shoot for her latest album in this graveyard, playing the ravishing-widow-at-a-beautifully-art-directed-funeral role.

We’re playing two shows in the Shangri-La field, one on the Dada stage on Friday evening, and then at the Snakepit on Sunday afternoon. There will be outrageous costumery, cabaret/burlesque audacity, and projected visual eccentricity. And then Blur afterwards! ACTUAL BLUR.

Are you going this year? Get in touch. The weather forecast is… mostly… good. Mostly.

Jun
20

Orpheus_front_dlwp

Last night MOTH tattooed the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-On-Sea in white stripes and quivering lyre strings. This was the latest chapter in a story that started way back in November 2008 with the Cybersonica AV Lab. For one day of the week-long programme, a group of digital artists were given the freedom to explore the DLW and devise AV installations for the space. VC_Kristi and I sat on the top floor talking and watching the sea, rubbing contact mics along chairs and stairs, and scribbling in notebooks, and by the end of the day had a rough plan for was what to become Plinth.

From the programme:

Commissioned by the 9th Earl De La Warr in 1935 and designed by architects Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, the De La Warr Pavilion was the UK‘s first public building built in the Modernist style. Pioneering in structure as it was in spirit, the purpose of this steel and concrete Pavilion was to provide accessible culture and leisure for the people of Bexhill and beyond and so regenerate the economy of the town and the surrounding area.

In 1935 when the De La Warr Pavilion was being finished, Serge Chermayeff, one of its two architects, envisaged a 10ft statue of the ancient Greek goddess Persephone for the front of the building overlooking the seafront Lido. Neither the statue or the Lido were ever made – a marble bust of Persephone was commissioned, but it was decided that this kind of classical decorative flourish was out of step with the clean, modern streamline design ideal that the Pavilion embodied, so the full statue was never built.

UP Projects, an independent public art agency has commissioned MOTH to create a site specific audio/visual performance that responds to the De la Warr pavilion. Inspired by the myth of Persephone and the story of the statue, they have developed Plintha video graffiti theatre trail inspired by the Modernist architecture of the De La Warr Pavilion, with music created by capturing sounds from inside the building itself as well as live audio sung by Voice Controller Kristi.

The story follows Orpheus, a musician, as he leads the spirit of his wife Eurydice from Hades, after Persephone, Queen of Hades, makes a deal with them. Eurydice can leave the Underworld and return to life by following Orpheus, but only on the condition that he doesn’t turn to look at her before they reach the surface. If he does, he will lose her forever.

The central conceit of the piece was to supply the finishing sculptural touch to the building design, the unfashionable classical flourish that was envisaged from the start. By manifesting the sculpture and the mythology digitally on the walls of the structure, through visuals inspired by the architecture and using sounds captured on the surfaces of the concrete and wood, the performance takes the role of the statue, and the Pavilion its plinth.

On the morning of the performance we also ran a workshop with local art students, demonstrating how we created the show, what we do, and giving them the opportunity to participate in a green-screen shoot and appear in the evening’s show. We had some fun creating hermaphroditic spirits trapped in the afterlife, then treated the footage in post-production so it would fit in with the rest of the film.

Thanks to Emma, Laura and Sarah from Up Projects, Rebecca, Laura and Polly from the DLW, Nathaniel and Kristi for their star turns, to Jacob and Mike for their photography and film (and fuses…), to Amy for making a podcast of the evening, and to the 90 or so people who took the journey out of Hades with us.

Plinth - animation still. 2009

Plinth - animation still. 2009

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Jun
07

This weekend Fat Butcher is flying the channel to perform at Contre-Temps in Strasbourg. Last time I went there it was by coach for a school trip. All we learned was that cigarettes and beer make teacher sad. So I have every confidence that this trip will be an improvement on that…

contretemps

Feels like it’s going to be a bit like BLOC 09 with a greater diversity of artistic performance. Dub, electronica, drum n bass, and plenty of cinematic and video showings.

Be was awesome last night, thanks for asking. My Toys Like Me were back with their uniquely fierce frontwoman, Man Like Me brought the frigging house down and gave us the best tromboning we’ve ever had. We Have Band’s DJ set ended with some phenomenally well-timed cheese – Whitney’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody sounded better than ever with elaborate Busby Berkely routines projected above the stage.

——————————————————–UPDATE——————————————————–

My four days in Strasbourg were incredible. It’s a beautiful city with all the space and peace that Londoners can only dream about when they eat French cheese, and the festival is a cultural hand grenade for the area, with Britain well represented – an exhibition of British designer Swifty’s work was the highlight of this years’ visual arts events. I got talking to locals who said they looked forward to Contre-Temps all year because it was the city’s only music/arts/street golf (srsly!) festival for young people (CT is now in its 6th year and going strong). During my stay I performed alongside DJs Aroop Roy from Tokyo, Âme from Karslruhe in Germany, Cam from Paris, and the astounding Yarah Bravo, who when I tried to place her accent told me ‘It’s unplaceable! I don’t believe in boundaries.’ Basically she’s from everywhere, Brooklyn, Berlin, Brazil, London… and her sound effectively reflects that fluid sense of place and culture. She and her DJ Vadim performed an explosive set of hiphoptronica, with Yarah’s flows pelting out into the front row like shrapnel. My visuals seemed to get a good response; I tried out one of the Plinth animations, mixing it with the white radio waves at the start of Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill! and discovered it’s a killer combination for dirty hiphop.

YarahBravo

This is Yarah Bravo, check her out here. Thanks again to Melanie, Énora and Anika for showing me around and making me feel at home ;0) and to Stefan for organising and running one of the best arts festivals in Europe.

Jun
05
May
20

Last night Mtnz and I descended into Punchdrunk/The Old Vic’s gloom-sodden collabarynth off the South Bank near Waterloo.

Punchdrunk-Punchdrunks-Tu-002

I get a lot of clicks from fans of Metropolis on this blog; if this includes you then you absolutely must come and immerse yourself in this experience when it returns in the Autumn. A creative installation comprising theatrical performance, set in a doomed post-future honeycomb of tunnels, 228 takes inspiration from Fritz Lang’s vision to create an immersive work of art that asks you to question authority, class, privelige and privation in a beautifully cinematic environment. You’re given a surgical facemask and directed into the dark, led by sensational lighting that changes unannounced (or worse, prefigured by threatening rumbles of 19th Century machinery), confounding performance setpieces (a man walks across the ceiling to lay flowers on a casket, a bearded Teuton strides inside a hamster wheel, a mine worker checks over his friend’s corpse), sculpture (Slinkachu’s breath-stifling miniature bingo halls and empty Hopper-esque supermarkets floodlit by LEDs, a convulsion of bird feathers knotted under glass), and, if you’re lucky and you look for it, some curious encounters. We reached a door as a woman left it, clucking about how she’d been questioned, told off, sat down and interrogated by some shady characters. I knocked on the door.

Punchdrunk-Punchdrunks-Tu-005

A man opened it – he looked like a headmaster with ball-ache. I tried to argue my way inside when he denied us entry. Then I questioned why he wasn’t wearing a mask. He locked the door, told me he didn’t need a mask and that we should all leave. Then he slinked off, muttering that something horrible was about to happen and that the whole place was condemned. There were other rooms with lifelike mannequins, waiting, dead, drunk – who knows. A coffin bursting at the seams with starling chicks, a well with high definition grey bodies on display like rotiserrie chicken. You had to stoop to spy in on the bolt-studded rusty tank with a man and a woman inside, sharing the remaining air as their prison filled up with water.

We probably spent less than an hour inside but it felt like two or three. With no clear path, few rules and delightfully unenlightening invigilators, Punchdrunk encourage participants to wander, lose themselves, find unlit corners, push open doors and set machinery in motion to create their own experience. One of the most impressive artefacts in this dramatic subterranean exhibition was a live performance by two mechanized metal probes, performing an unlicensed operation on a fur-lined chair, with music, glowing TV screens and odd robotic acccompaniment. Finally we’d investigated everything, seen some things twice, and were ready to steal out into the permanent dusk of Banksy’s graffiti tunnel on Leake Street. If I have any complaint about this engrossing experience it’s that I have to wait months until it returns. If you’ve booked a place, give yourself at least an hour to wander around, prod things, question authority and challenge your fear of the dark.

Thanks to the Guardian.co.uk for the photos. Go on guys, give yourselves a big hand.

May
08

Watch in HD here. MOTH were invited to work with the Immaculate Extremists on the South Bank for Ether 09. The Queen Elizabeth Hall was invaded by Noise of Art, whose pan-media, multi-culture, cross-discipline Deep Space Disco p/arty required theatricality and ambience. You rang m’lord?

Don’t miss Be this Saturday 9th, at Proud Galleries, or you’ll miss the chance to see Deastro, Love Is All and Moderanire racing shih-tzu’s for charity. Or performing music or something, read the flyer. I’ll be playing the usual mix of burlesque shimmying, forgotten film floozies and unseemly mo-graf.

May
03

I don’t normally go down and mosh at Koko but the bands were so feckin good on Friday I practically had no choice. Even when the drummer of White Man Kamikaze threw one of his sticks into the crowd and it thwacked me in the leg (lucky I took that step back as I saw it arc through the air in slo-mo) I was electrified by their cocky swagger and enormous, damaging guitar sound.

They were followed by headliners Joe Gideon & The Shark, my new favourite bluesy bang-n-twang duo. He with three guitars with various pedals, and vocals, she on drums with keyboard, sequencer and mic. Equally swaggery and bold as the previous band, and again had me nodding in the crowd and snatching mementoes:

Joe Gideon & The Shark

I went up to thank them for a great show after – but mainly to see if he was Christian Bale with a moustache. He wasn’t, but only just.

may1

As for Be, it’s still going gangbustaz despite SOME HEADLINES LAST WEEK. An absolutely ear-infecting set from the C90′s, which I’m currently trying to put back together on Spotify – unsuccessfully as they don’t have this truly moving shed-a-tear-while-you-throw-some-shapes version of Paris by Friedly Fires, and air-shredding material from Attack Switch Attack and Detachments, who need to create their visuals at a higher res if they’re going to bring them to a classy venue like Proud…

Currently working on a set composed of 1920′s to 1930′s style art deco, Modernist and abstract graphic elements, inspired by the dawn of cinema, as well as a show for the Matrox Triple Head 2 Go set-up based on the life and work of Francis Bacon.

Apr
02

Have just been alerted to this festival clip (in glittering HD) by BLOC-TV. BLOC had their own channel running throughout the weekend, which we tuned into whenever we crawled back to the chalet to crash. It was a riveting mix of bizarre, creaky, cranky old films, footage from the previous night, VJ mixes and interviews with BLOC performers. Here’s Altern8 breathing life into this well-worn rave monster from the unstoppable Prodigy, with me on visual duties.

Mar
31

This weekend I’m live-mixing at a trio of belters in Bloomsbury, Brixton and Camden. Fuck this blogging bullshit, here’s some flyers.

boomboommyb-april-flyerapr_web

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