Sunday, 17 February 2013

Under construction...

I'm revamping and reconstructing this under-used blog and applying some much needed love. Incoming post splurge of all my articles, videos and photos you lucky, lucky people have missed out on...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Winter is coming.

Thought I'd submit to a bit of shameless self-promotion. So! Here's the first trailer for our upcoming game, Westeros: Total War. This trailer features the forces of House Stark. Westeros: Total War is a modification of Medieval Total War 2, originally created by the Creative Assembly, based upon the events of the A Song of Ice & Fire series by George RR Martin, which you may also know from HBO's Game of Thrones. If you get a bit of spare time, please check the mod out! We should be hoping to release the first full version this year. All the developers are voluntary, and have been working on the game for years as a labour of love. All the soldiers you see in the video were made by yours truly, and the voice actor is also a member of the TWC community. Just shows you what a little willpower and hard work can achieve!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Beats, every day.

Everyone likes a good beat. And the one thing better than a good beat is multiple good beats. That's why a certain someone and I have started a secondary blog, Beatsdaily. Because, beats should be daily. Like breakfast. Or sleeping. We'll have a twitter soon too, but to follow the mayhem if you haven't got a Tumblr account, head over to the caff's Twitter. Here's a few tasty examples from the blog so far...

New articles coming soon.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The troubles of over-sharing.

Today we examine the world of couples blogging. Now, as my blog probably indicates, I'm all up for blogging, but is there ever a point where it's being taken too far? A hypothetical line the cautious blogger doesn't cross? Well, as it turns out, yes, and these guys just found it.

Before I go any further I'd like to elaborate on a couple of points. Firstly, blogging is a vehicle for individuals or groups of individuals to express themselves to a larger audience. It can be used simply to update your friends on your hobbies or family life. Or, for instance, it could further your quest for a career in journalism. It could be used as an outlet for your band or, erm, choir. All of these things are just fine, as they have a limit.

Secondly, by definition blogging is putting your life, or a part of your life, into the world of public consumption. As such you are putting forward a deliberately designed digital interpretation of yourself online to be examined and cross-examined by the general masses. This also has limits. I wouldn't, for instance, half-way through this article stop and inform you at this point I went to take a shit. Ok.

However, on the 16th of August 2011, Jenny Stevens of The Guardian brought to light the world of couples blogging, with an opening picture that made me sick in my mouth. The article is a good read, but unfortunately due to the huge readership of such a highly-esteemed broadsheet it never really gets to the irritated subtext hinted at in such lines as "over-sharing". Well, Jenny, that's where I come in.

See, the thing is, who actually wants to know about the intimacies of someone else's life apart from readers of the News of the World? Okay, sorry, too soon. On top of that, who wants to put their love lives up for public consumption? For me, that just screams insatiable arrogance. The article explores several such American blogs, but the one that really hits home is Louder Than Silence.

When I opened this blog and saw the above picture of what I at first assumed to be a reject for "Jesus Christ: The Shoreditch Years", I threw up in my mouth, for the second time. See, regardless of Sally's excuses at the reaction from the article in The Guardian, you can't get away with "if you don't like, don't read it" when you put something like this on the internet. In this sense, I have to give Sally and Ross props, as they unquestionably quench the human desire to look at something they detest, like Friday, or Bieber.

I'd like to go into detail about every little thing that annoys me about this blog, but there's just too many. From "his and her" outfits and "Ross was wearing [insert vintage bollocks here]" to sentences like "I lie. We just both have great taste in tasselled loafers, natch". And did I mention the name?! "Louder Than Silence"! What does that even mean!?

I mean, natch!?

See, this is over-sharing, and it also represents point number two: creating an electronic persona that reeks of narcissism. These aren't two regular Joes who live in an average flat and have average jobs. And there isn't anything particularly amazing about them. They don't dress up as bats and fight crime at night, or knit stuff. They're in graphic design and fashion. They are twenty-something professionals who live in East London and enjoy vintage loafers and anything made by Apple. They go to dinner-parties, private gigs and exclusive functions. This is what they're blogging about, not the functionality of their relationship and their emotions concerned therein, but how cool and hip they are. Regardless of what they say, this blog is a massive sign saying "look at us!", and that's why we don't like you, Sally. And yes, we are envious of your plywood stag's head mounted on your wall, but that's it.


Friday, 19 August 2011

Knitters with attitude.

Welcome to the extraordinary world of guerilla knitting. A place where the mundane is transformed into a riot of colour and weave. Offering a stark contrast to the recent turmoil in Britain's cities, guerilla knitting is a spark of life in the human imagination when everything else seems to be going to the dogs.

I was first alerted to this pseudo-urban practice when I came home after a trip to London to see all the bollards round my house decorated in tightly-fitting civic scarves. Now, there's randomly a knitting night on at my local pub that usually hosts nights to such illustrious names as Hessle Audio, Mr Scruff and Anti-Pop Consortium. To begin with I ignorantly couldn't really understand why such a venue would host such an evening, but now I do. In the dark cellars of the Hare and Hounds on a Tuesday night a new, sinister coterie of grannies plot and scheme before taking to the streets of South Birmingham in the bleak hours of the morning to hang their bizarre creations from inanimate objects.

OK, it's not that dark. Your nan isn't really dressing up in a balaclava and plimsols and sneaking onto the streets at night. Though she could be. But she probably isn't. I think.

So, what really is it? Guerilla, or urban, knitting, is the world's least offensive form of graffiti. Simply put, it is the art of knitting something to spice up something ordinary. Think Banksy for spinsters. Except the spinsters aren't your nans and aunties, they're just average joes with a penchant for threads and needles. The fact the practice still doesn't have a proper Wiki page is evidence enough of its underground principles.

It's hard to find information on who exactly started the practice, but a lot of evidence points to hilariously named group, Knitta Please, being the principal innovators. To quote from their page (they do have a Wiki):

"Knit graffiti began with Magda Sayeg, a self-taught knitter also known as PolyCotN. She founded the group with anonymous member AKrylik in October 2005 as a way to deal with frustration over their own unfinished knitting projects. It started with a doorknob cosy for the front door of Sayeg's Houston boutique. She loved it and, unexpectedly, so did the passersby. That inspired them to make more."

Knitta grew and grew, and copy cat groups sprung up around the world. Now hundreds of knitting activists regularly "yarnbomb" public space, with such side-splitting names as "Notorious N.I.T." and "P-Nitty".

Apparently, and rather unfortunately, the Knitta, Please group has now dwindled down to just its creator, but the fact that the practice has spread across the pond to such cultural cold-spots as South Birmingham clearly illustrates its burgeoning appeal. It's like spray-painting for middle-class kids, and of this we approve. The downside of course is its susceptibility to being vandalised itself. Those twenty or so bollard scarves had dwindled down to a rather pathetic three by Monday morning. Damn kids.

It's a shame, but I'm sure the practice will continue regardless. As I said earlier, it's nice to some members of society trying to liven up our lives, rather than smashing up inner-city shops in an apparent rage against a prime-minister they can't even name (though admittedly, he is a bellend). I'll leave you with the opening statement from glittyknittykitty. Stay safe, knittas.

"We, the Knitted Terrorists, are committed to knittivism through the systematic and systemic use of knitted accessories, short rows and felt. We will spread the knittivist word by reporting on knittivist activities - all who fail to heed our message will be condemned to mass production, chilly winters and bad fashion. Join in. Be a knittivist. Knit a revolution. Now."!/CafeDePhresh

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Mixcakes Volume #2

The second Mixcake is here!

This contribution comes from Martial, bad-ass mixologist extraordinaire. He enjoyed making the mix so much that he went a "little" bit over the recommended time! (An hour and 18 minutes over to be precise!) So, without further ado, here it is!

Mixcakes Volume 2
A rolling spongey base of garage beats and synths iced with a light sugary coating of bass and future rythms. Enjoy!

Mixcake Two: Martial by MrMr onedEck

Due to the length there is no tracklist for this mix, feel free to pester Martial himself though if you feel like it!

PS: Again due to the length the first Mixcake is down for the moment. Once I upgrade my Soundcloud it'll be back, don't worry! Look out for Mixcake #3 soon!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Gig review: Battles.

I was lucky enough to get a free ticket to see Battles last week, and this time in my hometown. If you didn't know, Battles are a math-rock band from New York, New York. Their first album, Mirrored, received critical and commercial success back in 2007, but the band have been pretty quiet till now.

I've seen them once before, at Benicassim festival in Spain, but this time the experience promised to be different for a couple of reasons. Firstly they have recently released a new album, Gloss Drop, and secondly the line-up of the band was different than before...

Now, before I dive wholeheartedly into the show, I'll set the scene somewhat. The chance to go to the gig came as a bit of surprise, and as such my research was hardly in order. I knew the band had a new album out, and I'd heard little of it, if all truth be told. This was partly due to hearsay, and unfortunately the negative kind. It's always tough as a performer when you release a first album of such high quality, to then follow it and hope to match the same benchmark. It seemed from what I had heard that Battles had failed in this regard, and the remarks being bandied about in reference to Gloss Drop were often less than savoury.

Saying that, I was still excited. It was also a chance to return to the Bar Fly, now the bottom level of the HMV Institute, a venue a lot of my friends played at when gigging in the city back in the day. The revamp has certainly done its job: a dark, dusty and rusty corner entered through a parking lot has been converted into a cleaner and much better sounding little den of musical genius. The room is just about the right size for a small venue; intimate but not intimidatingly so. There are a couple of criticisms though, one being the appalling placement of weird arches that emerge from the sides of the bar, and the other being the horrendous price of drinks. My girlfriend's glass of wine, for instance, set me back £4.95.

The support was also great. I've previously mentioned Young Montana? on this blog, so I was delighted to see his mop-topped head appear on stage. He played a great set, mainly from his new LP, though he did find time to throw in 'Sacré Cool' as well. He was obviously a bit nervous, and sometimes this affected his mixing, but never in a less than endearing way. It was a bit of a shame that the majority of the crowd weren't really into this type of music, and it was more disappointing that many seemed unwilling to open their minds and give it a go, but for those that did it was thoroughly enjoyable. It's difficult as a producer/DJ to play as support for a band, especially when you play dance music. I imagine the same is true for other instances like Fantastic Mr. Fox supporting the XX, as gigs are usually early evening affairs, and dance music to an 8pm crowd with an overwhelming sense of sobriety isn't going to get the response it really deserves.

On to the main event. As the stage was set-up, I started to come to realisation that something wasn't quite right here. Drums were placed in the centre, a bass, guitar and a plethora of pedals on the right, and keys and computers on the left. Three spots. Aren't there four people in Battles?

Now, although I like to assume I am a relative font of knowledge in large swathes of modern music, I am almost certain I was the last person in that room to find out a member of the band had left. Turns out Tyondai Braxton (much vaunted man of amazing name, hair, and musical skill) had left the band to pursue his solo works. Unfortunately for the band, he wrote much of the first album, as well as playing key parts of the songs (such as the vocals) that can't really be replaced. As such the band played a very heavily second-album show. Retrospectively, this was totally understandable, but at the time, I was gutted.

This seems like a lot of negativity, but I'll assuage that easily enough. The band's skill has never been in doubt, and knowing that some people (like myself) might be a bit sceptical, they played their hearts out. The drummer John Stanier was particularly incredible. He was there again with his trade-mark higher than high high-hat, and in a heavily air-conditioned room he was a pinpoint of sweat, tears and energy who was virtually melting by the end. You can see why he's placed where most bands put their lead singer.

Another pleasant point was the use of projections on the stage. For reasons already explained there was no singer on stage, and if you look at the tracklist for their second album you'll quickly see liberal use of guest vocalists. So it was pretty unexpected and surreal when three people-sized projections of Gary Numan's face from different angles appeared on-stage. The same was done of Kazu Makino (of Blonde Redhead) and Matias Aguayo and the spectacle really added something to the performance that was perhaps missing with out the antics of Braxton.

The way I see it you can judge the show in two ways. First would be to compare it to previous four-piece performances, and in this respect you can't help but feel slightly let down. This is simply due to the fact that none of the critically acclaimed first album was played, not to the band's individual performances.

I think to look at it in this way would be unfair, however. The band easily could have called it a day after their key-member left, but instead they carried on regardless, and the show should be judged on its own merit rather than what it could have been. As such, I think it was a massive success. The life and energy as well as music brilliance pouring off the stage was tangible in waves. The encore was richly deserved and expertly carried out (an extended version of White Electric getting richly received). We can only imagine what a second album with Braxton would have been like, but really we should be thankful there is a Battles to talk about at all.