Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A cold call from the future: Butler Brothers' 'The Terminal Node'

If J. G. Ballard, Stanley Kubrick and John Carpenter had ever decided to work together on animations, then they would have probably made something like the animations produced by the Butler Brothers.

The brothers John and Paul Butler have been creating speculative animated fictions for well over a decade. 
Paul is the co-producer, writer and conceptual consultant. John is writer, designer, animator, composer, co-producer, and director. Theirs is a dystopian vision of the present as superimposed on an ever encroaching future.

John Butler once told me:

“Speculative fiction is important because the future seems to be behind us, and nothing lies ahead. We’re just waiting for the next upgrade.
“That is the essence of contemporary culture.  It’s designed to disable the imagination.”
“As an artist, I suppose my philosophy is composed of what interests me.   I’m interested in what happens in the world and why.   
"I’m not really interested in making art from or about art.
“I’m interested in human utility in the drone age.  Human redundancy in the unmanned economy.  I’m interested in the war between Finance and Humans.
“I’m interested in the Universal Transaction Space we all now inhabit.”

The Butler Brothers' animations are critically acclaimed, award-winning and inspire devout following amongst their fans. Their latest film The Terminal Node is a "cold call from the future [that] warns of an alien loyalty card scheme." It's a timely reminder of how the privatization and deregulation of our present lives are creating our own "transaction space".

More of the Butler Brothers work can be seen here.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Michael Prince's photographs of the lost George Hotel

The corridors are empty. The doors closed. So many rooms unlived in for years.
I moved, one to the other: Room 42, Room 57, Room 48, Room 43, Room 52, Room 59, Room 56.

The first time I stayed at the George Hotel (four storey, smoke-blackened, Victorian building at the top of Glasgow's Buchanan Street), long night drinking, no home of own, checked in with a friend, and we ordered six cans of lager. A porter brought the drinks to our room, with extra towels, 'Just in case,' he said. I wondered what this just in case might be? 

There was a coin-fed meter in the corner, an old fire place, a red carpet and two single beds. The window looked onto the street outside (dead at this time of night), higher than the swan-necked street-lights.

Next time, I stayed for a few days. Late autumn, dark evenings--my memory of most cities are of night. Walking bar-to-bar, along rough uneven pavements, cobble-stone stutter, sodium lights, neons flickering in warm wet windows fireflied with light, and the warm breath of bars, the smell of food, hungry on the air.

The George had about a sixty-odd rooms, and for its last few months, I was its only resident. In the morning, a walk along the unheated corridor to the bathroom, large Edwardian bath, a table, sink, toilet, small wall mirror, linoleum floor. Washed and dressed, down the wide wooden staircase to the reception hall and breakfast room. Joan Crawford (or was it Bette Davies?) once stayed here, and it was said Morecambe and Wise, Tom Jones and Dorothy Squires. Telegrams were marked The Nearest as the George was nearest hotel to the theatres and music halls.

It later became a favoured location for TV and films, featuring in TaggartTrainspotting and The Big Man.

Now, the George is a record store, with Country 'n' Western where my head did rest, my feet--Indie Pop.  

These photographs are by Michael Prince from his book Goodnight George, which captures some of the grandeur of the George Hotel during its final days.

More of Michael Prince's beautiful photographs here.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Alan McLean's impressive short film 'Rest'

A good short film tells a tale through drama and humour with identifiable characters. A great short film has all of that and an unexpected twist at the end, just like Alan McLean's impressive wee short Rest starring Jason Harvey.

H/T Scheme9

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Stevie Smith reads 'Not Waving But Drowning'

When Stevie Smith gave poetry readings during the last decade of her life, those in the audience who knew her work were surprised by her slight, prim and strict schoolmarmish appearance--it ran counter to the warmth and humour of her verse; while those who did not know her work, were surprise to find that poetry could be such fun. 

Stevie Smith wrote beautifully crafted poetry and prose, with a simplicity which belied its serious intent. Smith believed that good writing had to be:
"...sad, true, economical and funny..."
I had never heard Stevie Smith's voice before, and was therefore delighted to hear her in this short film reading, what is perhaps her best known poem, "Not Waving but Drowning." 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

If Dance Music is your bag, then you really should be listening to The Niallist

The Niallist is the extraordinarily talented Niall O’Conghaile: DJ, producer, musician, blogger, activist and performer. In a world of music that is too easily diluted with the bland and the mediocre, The Niallist offers a quality and passion that is rare and much needed. The NIallist offers a hope for that once commonly held belief that ”music and musicians could change things - maybe not radically and maybe not quickly, but that the seeds for change could definitely be sown with songs and videos and shows and interviews.”

Born in Ireland, Niall started his career playing records at school in the early 1990s, a time he describes as an “incredibly politically charged time for music and pop culture.”

Niall O’Conghaile: 'There was Public Enemy, NWA, Ice Cube, Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill, The Prodigy with “Fuck ‘Em And Their Law”, Pearl Jam telling Ticketmaster to "Fuck off"; Spiral Tribe, massive illegal raves, Back To The Planet, Senser, Rage Against The Machine, the fact that RuPaul was a pop star, even Madonna’s Sex book and Erotica album for God’s sake! If you weren’t politically active or at least aware back then, you were terribly uncool. That spirit seems to have disappeared from music altogether now, which is sad.’

It was listening to Nirvana’s album Nevermind that gave Niall the first hints as to where his future lay.

Niall O’Conghaile: 'I really identified with Kurt Cobain, as he was an outsider in the pop music landscape who spoke up for gay and women’s rights, which really struck a chord with me. He was a man, but he also wasn’t scared of being seen as feminine. He was a pop star, he looked scruffy and spoke with intelligence and passion. He was different. As someone else who was different, and a natural outsider, I guess I saw music as maybe a place where I could fit in and still fully express myself.'

Niall gravitated towards Dance Music and his move to Glasgow in 1997, allowed him to meet with like-minded DJs and clubbers. This was when The Niallist’s career started to take off and it’s been non-stop ever since. Niall moved to Manchester in 2010, where The Niallist established hismlef as one of the UK’s best DJs and Dance Music producers.

He was also one of the founders of Little Rock Records and is keyboard player Joyce D’Ivision.

Early in 2013, Niall released his pulsating debut album The Niallist “AKA", which included the mega-tracks “Work It (w/ Julius Seizure), “I Came” (w/ Ms Mac D), “I’m Weird XI” (w/ ZsaZsa Noir and Christeene), “Like Em Fat” (w/ Dr Ghe & MC Chubby Chase) and “If You want It” (w/ Scream Club & Beth Ditto). 

If all this weren’t enough to fill a few dozen CVs, Niall organizes club nights with Menergy and Tranarchy, and last summer was involved with producing Bummer Camp and the Annual Vogue Brawl in Manchester. 

After all this, Niall took some time off from The Niallist to concentrate on a new project Cunt Traxxx/CVNT.

Great Googala Moogala: Niall, 2013 sounded a very busy year,  you wanna tell us what have you been up to?

Niall O’Conghaile: 'Ha ha, well I tend to be busy every year. it's just that last year my focus has changed. Some old projects are being dropped and my more successful work being concentrated on. Being honed and refined, if you will.' 

Great Googala Moogala: Is this your work as The Niallist?

Niall O’Conghaile: 'Well musically, The Niallist was actually on a bit of a hiatus. I had been feeling a bit burnt out on music after my last album, so needed a break, or a shake-up or something. That kind of coincided with with a big burst of interest in my Cunt Traxxx/CVNT side project, so I decided to put Niallist to the side for the time being and concentrate on CVNT. And so far it's gone very well. 

'CVNT is straight up club music, designed for dance floors, so it's refreshing not to have to think too deeply about what I am saying or what purpose the music serves.'

Great Googala Moogala:  What about the shows you put on last year? 

Niall O’Conghaile : 'Our collective Tranarchy found a new home at Salford's Islington Mill, just 10 minutes outside of Manchester city centre. It's the perfect fit for us, as it's a creative space where anything goes, and they have been very receptive to our ideas. 

'Last year we put on two gigs in association with Off With Their Heads called Bummer Camp, and hosted our annual Vogue Brawl there. Then we did the return of Zombie Pride

'Bummer Camp was amazing because the Mill helped us put on two American acts we'd been trying to book for years - electro-pop guru SSION from NYC and the incredible drag performer Christeene from Texas. Both gigs were incredible, so we're very grateful to the Mill and our own loyal crowd.'

Great Googala Moogala: Is it difficult to balance all the things you do--the writing, the producing, the making music and curating shows?

Niall O’Conghaile: 'Yes, it can be. Things seem to come in waves, so I concentrate on one aspect for a while, then have to take a break from that, so work on another facet for a bit. It's usually easier when there is a project or a finished work that needs to be focussed on, like an album or a specific article. 

'And then of course bills need to be paid, so commercial work always has to be done, which for me right now is a mix of published writing and some commercial DJing gigs. Having said that I am constantly tinkering around with music, even if it's just for fun or relaxation.'

Great Googala Moogala: What's the response been to Cunt Traxxx/CVNT?

Niall O’Conghaile: 'Well, the response to Cunt Traxxx/CVNT has been really good, which is why I am focussing on it now. 

'It's got great responses from <em>Soundcloud</em> followers and dance floors, and it's also gotten props from people within this specific music scene (Ballroom or Vogue House) and that has been very gratifying for me.'

Great Googala Moogala: How's life in Manchester?

Niall O’Conghaile: “Manchester is good, though there's been a shift with regards to concert promotion that I think is going to impact on independent promoters quite badly. 

'A company have gone around the city centre buying up all the spaces that were traditionally set aside for posters, and have installed metal picture frames to be filled with their own corporate adverts. They have basically shut down the last remaining areas where promoters could freely spread the word about their own gigs, and installed commercial product in its place. It's a bit of a disaster! 

Great Googala Moogala: Are you still playing in Glasgow?

Niall O’Conghaile: 'I'm playing in Glasgow a lot less now, but when I do come up it tends to be for bigger gigs, which is nice.'

Great Googala Moogala:  What's changed for you as a DJ?

Niall O’Conghaile: 'My production focus is now on CVNT, and so is my djing, basically. Having Vogue House as the backbone of my sets has given me more focus, and I guess makes it easier to pitch for gigs. The sound I play isn't being repaid by that many djs over here yet, but it is instantly accessible to anyone who likes house music, and has a freshness and energy missing from most New House/Nu-Disco at the moment. So I am getting more dj work now, and beginning to travel, which is lovely!'