Under the influence: Art of Flying

I’M VERY MUCH INTO the idea that the journey is every bit as important as the destination – and it’s usually more interesting. Who really knows where we’re going to end up? 

And certainty is over-rated anyway. Change is constant. We should embrace it. Dealing with the mad, random shit that life throws at us is what makes us who we are.

David Costanza, who works with Anne Speroni as Art of Flying, probably didn’t ever envisage he’d be following in the footsteps of David Bowie, Roxy Music and Bob Marley by playing in south Manchester’s most rock n roll suburb, Stretford, but that is precisely what is happening to him this month when he appears at Reel Around the Fountain, Stretford Arndale’s finest (and only) secondhand record emporium.  

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And not the fair-weather kind

AS NAKED tribal loyalties come to the fore across Europe once again, here in the UK we need all the mates we can get. We need to make new friends, yes, but we also need to remember our existing chums.

Obviously, Trump can go fuck himself.

The trouble is, like many of my fellow Brits, I’m shit at this stuff. I’m rubbish at staying in touch. I don’t speak to people for years, and when I do, it’s usually because I want something. And new people I meet often get on my nerves.

As a result, I have a very small, tight circle of friends and it’s getting smaller and tighter each year as I somehow manage to alienate more people, or they end up going to prison or Wales, or just dying.

Good, another name to cross out of the phone book and fewer opportunities for unnecessary stop n chats and Christmas card drama.

The funny thing is, now that I am tediously and entirely predictably middle aged, perpetually grumpy and distrustful of anything new and different, I’ve never been more in tune with the prevailing national mood of UK plc.

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Hyperculte

I DISCOVERED Hyperculte’s first album while browsing the racks of the in-house record shop at the super-organised and consistently inspiring Zoro squat venue in Leipzig, left there, no doubt, when the hard-working Swiss / French duo (or one of their other musical projects) played a gig in the former vinyl factory.

I can’t think of anywhere better.

I don’t recall what particular section the self-titled album was filed in but, in truth, it could have been any of them. Avant-garde jazz-punk? Pre-kraut post-disco? Trance pop? Take your pick. Hyperculte seem pretty relaxed about genre, categories and boxes.

hype 2What I do remember is being struck by the cover image for the album, which featured the duo wearing decidedly un-ironic and bizarre out-size furry costumes by the side of a misty, fairytale lake.

It doesn’t look like they’re having a laugh. The pair of them look like they’re deadly serious, unrepentant, defiant even.

If these hairy chimeras came from some kind of fairy tale, it was clearly one that was infinitely darker, earthier and more primal than the cuddly, sanitised morality tales parents send kids to sleep with today.

In fact, Diego Sanchez’s hugely evocative photography hints at the kind of ancient, amoral, pine-scented central European folklore upon which all that Disney shit is ultimately based.

You can sense a stillness that has sustained for centuries.

It was mysterious, elegant and beautiful. And weird as fuck.

Reader, I bought it.

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Reality Asylum revisited

ONCE upon a time, Crass had been all but erased from history.

They were at the epicentre of a genuine nationwide cultural phenomenon that changed thousands of lives profoundly and yet, a few years after they had ceased working as a band, where anyone took any notice of them at all, they were reduced to a mere footnote in the tawdry tale of corporate rock n roll.

IMG_2370That wasn’t good enough. Erase Crass and you also erase the experience of thousands of people like me, as if what we experienced had no value or validity.

It offended my sense of decency. I wasn’t having it. There are plenty of things in the world to get upset about, but righting this particular wrong was part of the reason why I started writing this blog in the first place.

And now? Everyone seems to be going on about Crass these days. Coincidence?

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Five x Sergio Mendes

IT’S DIFFICULT to know where to start with Sergio Mendes.

The veteran Brazilian pianist and arranger has released around 50 albums since he made his name freestyling bossa nova tunes with the cream of Copacabana’s jazz and samba players in tiny after-hours dives in the late Fifties and early Sixties.

As John Peel once said:

“A lot of people write to me and say: ‘I heard Sergio Mendes, which record should I get?’ And I never have any hesitation in telling them, you must get them all. Apart from the one he did with will.i.am.”

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Reach for Me by Funky Green Dogs from Outer Space (Murk Records)

THREE or four years after hearing Brandon’s seminal acid house tape, music was coming at me from all directions.

The shock waves from the initial slo-mo house detonation continued to roll around the world – bouncing between Chicago, Detroit and New York, reverberating across the Atlantic to London and Milan before booming back to New York and then back again to Ghent and Antwerp and Frankfurt via Sheffield and Manchester and beyond.

And all of these shockwaves seemed to collide in Leeds in 1992.

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No sleep til Stretford

BELIEVE it or not, I’ve never actually been on tour with a band before, not officially. I’ve cadged plenty of lifts between shows, blagged x amount of guesties and even provided DJ support services at odd gigs over the years, but nobody has ever been daft enough to invite me on tour.

Not until Gad Whip came along, anyway.

The tour, to promote Gad Whip’s debut long player, Post Internet Blues, has been organised by Armin who runs X-Mist, the label releasing the album. There are eight gigs in 10 days at the start of November, mostly in Germany, plus a couple of dates in Switzerland and France.

Pete doesn’t have to ask me twice.

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