Feeling pleasantly wobbly and wasted. Having a black aspirin and a gluten-free bagel.
Had a great weekend visiting the family out in the sticks and the smelly little Welsh dogs. Proper decent gig on Saturday night - Ted Wildbillbuttock done us proud on the mix (did a better job than I did last time) so we felt nice and relaxed on stage (so I was actually singing rather than shouting lyrics at the drunk black clad masses this time). Got a few old punks jumping around and offended a few macho Metal boys which is always nice. Ate far too much and didn't drink enough.
We played as a duo so the sound was a bit more stripped down and Shoegrimey. I managed to get my white-noise wah guitar sound back which was a pleasant surprise. And a splash of car-crash reverse-reverb baritone.
In other news, we have a new single out! I Made You a Map is out now via Pretty in Noise. 15 minutes worth of grainy baritone guitars, undulating sub bass and pounding beats. Flickering between disturbing and groovy.
I Made You a Map is a split single with fellow Liverpool / Euro centric sonic adventurers Onde Sphérique. It's a free download too!
Looking at some video footage and plotting out the week.
"The Mekano Set's latest track sounds quasi religious. They've transformed their "nihilistic electro punk nonsense" into something beautiful. It sounds like a gang of tripped out Cistercian monks playing with electrical tools and gently beating a radiator with a rubber hammer. Trust me this is something you need in your life."
The Mekano Set
So 2013 is almost done an dusted. We are living in the future. It's a lot like the past except the TV's are thinner, and Britain now has a fascist government. Certainly didn't see that one coming. Never imagined the future would be quite so... backwards? We need an island. A new one.
"I need new shoes."
It's certainly been a busy year for us. Productive, in that we've released a hefty chunk of music, and played some fun gigs (some storming nights at Cowley Club, as well as getting to play some fantastic Alternative events: Dead and Buried in London, Dark Waters Festival in Nottingham, and back to The Dark Room in Wolverhampton). The year has also been a bit manic, in that I've managed to move house, four times.
"TV keeps you off the street."
We set out to try and not repeat ourselves this year. We've put out a number of EPs on CD, iTunes, amazon, Spotify etc. and that felt like a real achievement. But we're always looking to try something new.
|No One Knows About Persian Cats...|
In January, we put together a set of songs for a follow-up to the Hahaharem EP. Going Up was done and dusted really quickly, and looking back it's a great set of songs - totally what we were aiming for: a strong rhythm section and adventurous guitars. But we felt it wasn't enough. We also wanted to try something different:
Behind The Sins started out as a kind of tongue in cheek documentary. We had a lot of fun recording it, and it's got some really cool drones and location recordings - it's not just a joke: an audio collage of interviews, stories and previously unreleased material. Aired several times by Radio Reverb, the CD version boasted a cool gatefold design by Lee C which ran out pretty quickly. Sins gave us a great opportunity to clarify our views on everything from gender to the underground music scene, and also to mystify and experiment with some random cut / paste sound collage.
We also tried a few different ways of playing live.
It took me six months to mix The Three Thieves EP, a collection of guitarscapes, skewed bass-riffs and heavyweight beats. Big, painful learning curve there.
Then came The Black Aspirin single, which is actually a two part EP comprising 10 songs. naturally. A stomping, cynical protest song aimed at hipster bands ripping off Post-Punk acts. Yes that's inevitable, but that doesn't mean we have to accept it. So we channeled some energy into a totally overblown and more than a little offensive 'taking it back' anthem. Finished really quickly, thanks in part to what we learned from working on Three Thieves. Check the blog entry for the full story and a link to the cheeky .pdf manifesto.
|It's a shit business.|
As a final Christmessy treat we did a little DJ set of some of our favourite tunes. The Shoegrime Mixtape. is up now on mixcloud. Hopefully it provides some insight into where we're coming from, in that it illustrates that we're not entirely alone in what we do. So there's some 'classic' tracks from Curve, Cocteau Twins and Jesu, and some recent noises from the likes of Weekend Wolves, Blindness, Keluar and King Midas Sound. There's a few surprises, and a couple of our own songs including an extra-shimmery swirly mix of the Crashback song: http://crashbackchristmasmix.viinyl.com/
We're now carving out an extended piece - I Made You a Map - for a split EP with fellow Liverpool / Euro centric sonic adventurers Onde Sphérique for the Pretty in Noise label. This is a great opportunity to explore the groove over time, and we've lined up some great grainy baritone guitar tones to play with. https://facebook.com/pinmusik
We also have about 8 new slices for the new project but we're holding back on them because we don't want to repeat ourselves. We're still exploring the shapes and spaces of the thing - cutting away chunks of fencing to explore the waste ground behind the song. These tracks are a little bit... phatter and slightly more exotic than our usual noises, but we still want to push them out a little further.
Hope you're having a good one.
More soon x
The Mekano Set
So we played live at The Dark Room on Saturday night, upstairs at The Giffard Arms (following a rockin' set by Dru-Amelia) and had an absolutely brilliant time.
It's been a very long time since I've felt so confident and been so sarcastic on stage. I got the impression that we were playing to people that either loved what we were doing, or just didn't understand what we were doing at all. It was brilliant.Very friendly crowd, but obviously a few people that had never heard anything like us before.
We played a 45 minute set, including two songs that are really close to my heart: Fires Made Safe and Heatwave.
Ade (Mutate / Stray Dog City) recorded the gig so we might put out a song or two providing we didn't overload the recording (there was a serious amount of bass pumping out of those speakers).
Chucky Tsch (Crashback) played bass for half the set and did an amazing job considering she'd never touched a bass until a couple of weeks ago. No pressure, it's just that the bass is the lead instrument. No pressure at all.
This meant I could give a lot more energy and attention to the vocals which is always nice.
Ade provided his trademark shards of atomic guitar / sounds:
And then we did some booty-shaking to a few groovy songs and headed on home.
Not bad at all.
What next? Well, we have a plan to something a little different. We'd like to concentrate on our newest project entitled Crashback, a spin-off of the Mekanical Settings, which is intended to focus more on the soft, floaty, electrical, but also somewhat grimy and silly side of home-made noises. Less pounding, more seductive, if you will.
And now a word from Crashback (Sticky Stevens [also known as Milk Milk McKenzie and wanted in several counties for lewdness and smuggery] & The Chucktopus [also known as Manic Chucky Tsch], both pictured below) themselves:
"There are already two songs you can listen to online: The Crashback Song (alternative title: Keepin' it BN2 [or any other postcode that may seem appropriate]) and the Theme for Mr. Stew, an homage to our great hero, comedian (and man) Stewart Lee. We have had ideas for videos for both of these tunes, we just need to pause from eating popcorn for long enough to get them produced. As a teaser, our newest half-finished idea of a song has the working title 'Human Sandwiches'.
Watch this space for the upcoming Crashback manifesto, album, cookery book, car stickers, golf umbrellas, drinking game, cocktail, contraceptive device, etc. etc."
Thanks to Ade Mutate, Ted Wildbillbuttock, DJ Cruel Britannia, Gilbert Lee, Sin, Helen and The Crashback Massive.
The Mekano Set
Black Aspirin is our new noise. It's the result of channeling a whole lot of negative / nervous / anxious energy. Listeners have already begun to get excited about the combination of melody, sleaze and bad attitude...
"Whizzy hollow future vibe loved up punk puke robot siren."
"I love it so much I'm going to put it on my headphones and gaffa tape a cellophane bag over my head and listen to it for the last 13 seconds of joyous existence."
"With a spitting steel feathers humour, The Meks demonstrate just how easy it is to replicate the classic Pop Punk Goth Rock swagger, whilst adding a spark of originality into the mix by scuppering the mood with synth solos, tubular bell chimes and lyrical content clearly aimed at the kind of trendy wankers currently lapping this kind of thing up."
It's on bandcamp and you can download it via viinyl.com if you give us a plug on your tweet or facebrick page. It comes in two parts and has some ace tunes and fresh mixes. It was essentially written as a piss-take of the current crop of hipster bands slapping themselves on the back for blatantly ripping off the likes of Banshees, Joy Division and The Sisters of Mercy (long after they were interesting). You can also download a 22 page Black Aspirin Manifesto if you want more info and pics.
Our rampant imaginations are filtered / throttled through the narrow snare of the now.
Black Aspirin is about the way that bands get away with failing to move things forward and receive praise for blatant imitation of their heroes.
What really gets to me is that the people that should be calling out bands for this kind of approach are instead applauding them; the same people that attack the likes of us for daring to simply embrace more than one style of music.
The fact is there ARE bands out there (Little Death Machine, Blindness, Dru Amelia, Introverts) with a punk sensibility, a Post-Punk sound palette, a spark of originality and their hearts in the right places; bands unafraid to fuck with conventions whilst still embracing a decent tune, a decent bass riff. I just know there's a tonne of people out there doing it this way, but there so hard to find because the people that should be shouting them out busy sucking up to the safe bets.
It occurs to me that I always avoid the obvious (genres, structures, themes, styles) because they've all either been exploited to death, or they're just pigeon holes built by people motivated by money, not music. These things are just not interesting. There is nothing rebellious, innovative or challenging about conforming to uniforms, arrangements, song structures and attitudes that have been around for 50 years or more.
There is a big difference between wearing your influences on your sleeve and ripping off a band's beat, wardrobe, poses, lyrics, riffs...
I freely admit that my attitude about all this isn't cool. Making music for me isn't just something to tell people about at parties, it's my obsession. I work really damned hard at it. It's not easy. And I make things harder for myself by refusing to schmooze. I've never had any time for the bullshit of the trendy clubs full of spoiled posers talking my ear off about what they are going to do. What they are never going to do.
But when I respect someone and their work I think it's fair to say I champion and plug them with a passion. I respect honesty and determination, I have no respect for bandwagoning affluent hipster assholes robbing my culture just like they rob every other culture.
It is also a response to people who don't seem to be able to make a small leap to where acts like us are at. Taking our reluctance to conform to conventions as laziness, we've tried to show just how easy it is to do an old fashioned conventional song.
“I’m not asking for originality. I’m just asking for more. I want to hear one influence that isn’t already pre-approved by a bunch of old white dudes.” 1
In part, the writing and recording of Black Aspirin was fueled by a recent bit of online hassle from someone I've treated with nothing but care and respect, long after our mutual friends and peers gave up on them as a time-waster and a flake.
This person has spent the last few years on permanent vacation. During the brief periods when they are not on holiday, I get an occasional request to plug their contribution more / demands to remove all traces of their contribution. This time they reached a new low, amongst other things highlighting their own sexism (I was told to "man up" - which to anyone who knows me personally is almost amusing in itself).
“Not the shock of the new so much as the comfort of the old. The “I like stuff that sounds like the stuff I already like” branch of the rock’n’roll fanclub meets here. This is the part where those people reflexively shout “ THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS ORIGINALITY!” Of course, when confronted with an artist who does thing differently, these same people mock them. They can’t play their instruments! They don’t know what they’re doing! This is terrible! Is this some kind of joke?" 2
We know what we are doing, and this is some kind of joke.
Quotes 1 + 2: Scott Creney http://www.collapseboard.com/reviews/albums-reviews/savages-silence-yourself-pop-noirematador/
Thanks to Ade B (Mutate), Justine, Lee, Alan Neilson, MM Lyle + DJ Wildbillbuttock + DJ Cruel Britannia + DJ Martin OldGoth