Close My Eyes and Let it Go (free track)

ey up…

Here is a free English language version of ‘Cierro los Ojos y Despierto’ from my recent Spanish language record Almas Buenas.

Click on arrow pointing downwards to download it.


I’m shooting a stop-motion video for it now 🙂

Autumn, Ephedrine and Rolling Tape

Recording is complete for Almas Buenas. I know I am a lucky man to have had the idea grow over 5 months and for it to flower like this.

The idea for the record was simple: take songs from my back catalogue that lend themselves to different styles of Latin Arrangements, sing them in Spanish and record acoustic musicians live.

I wanted the recording for Almas Buenas to be completely live with a whole group playing in unison as it is a romantic and dangerous thing to do and if done right then this magic translates into what is recorded. Unless you have top quality musicians this approach can end in chaos and the truth is that most records are made using a sucession of overdubs because it is simply easier to do and runs less risk.

The studio, Moebio, is a mythical place not listed on many maps or findable on the internet due to the slightly eccentric nature of the owner but is a hidden home for acoustic recordings for those in the know. It is one of the finest studio rooms in Argentina specially designed by Carlos Piriz – an acoustic engineer recognized throughout Latin America as one of the best.

Some of the greatest artists of recent times have recorded in this room, including Mercedes Sosa, the guitarist and composer Juan Falu, the guitarist Luis Salinas, the violinist, composer and conductor Antonio Agri, Soda Stereo, Fito Paez, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Charly García, La Camerata Bariloche. The historic album “200 Years of Argentina Music” by the Salta Symphony Orchestra, was also undertaken in Moebio.

The change to Autumn in Buenos Aires caught me by surprise and three days before the recording and I foolishly left a window open at night in my bedroom which saw me waking up with a cold and lots of nose gunk. Thankfully Jorge had a special remedy including Ephedrine which instantly cleared my head but it was strong stuff.

Oscar Magariños, came recommeded as a recording sound engineer for the project, by Jorge, and it was Oscar that suggested Moebio Studios to record. Oscar had prepped the room before with layouts and microphones so when we arrived things were smooth and enginnering effort invisible to the performers which is the way it should be.

The musicians arrived and gelled very quickly. The double bass player had been changed at the last minute and was replaced by the legendary Juan Pablo Navarro who, until the sessions, hadn´t worked with any of the other musicians on the songs. Juan´s calibre was such that this didn´t matter and he anchored the rhythm and the music perfectly. Carlos Corrales on bandoneon proved to be a focal point for the group due to his outstanding musicality and charisma.

Jorge Soldera conducted the arrangements in the centre of the room and for separation I sang from the control booth.

Monday
We only had the bandoneon and piano player for one day but we managed to get all six songs they featured on recorded.

As some songs had many mid frequencies to deal with from bandoneon, guitar, piano, voice and percussion it was useful that the piano in the studio had been chosen especially to have a dark tonal quality allowing it so sit alongside some of the brighter instruments. It was a ´tango piano´. Matias Chapiro, a young pianist and composer, played extremely sensitively and framed the songs with an inspired touch.

The day was finished off with an eyeball to eyeball tango performance by Carlos and myself. Jorge and I had reworked the song Blowin´ Up Tryin´ 2B Somebody (Exploto Mientras Trato Ser Alguien) into a completely new tango variant and Carlos had written a new arrangement for it. It was a great honour for me to have Carlos undertake this arrangement as he is one of the most famous bandoneon players working in the world today with performances and credits across the world. The first time I heard the new arrangement was at the session and after a trial run we managed to get synchronicity with an explosive take. One of the tricks of tango is that it is not in strict time and the performers are expected to push and pull the timing to suit the mood. One final thing about Carlos – he used to box in the same club I have been going to in Almagro. Perfecto.

Sergio Carrera the graphic artist also came down to the session to do photo studies of the musicians for his album artwork composition.


Tuesday
Focus was on the guitar led tracks and with only two remaining we manged to get through them fine along with one or two percussion overdubs. The track Don´t Get All Stuck (No Te Dejes Atrapar) was electrifying. There are tonnes of words for this track and during preproduction we had to move the tempo down from 115bpm to 112bpm so I could blurt them all out successfully. However during the recording the flamenco style had the musicians excited and we did a version even higher than 115bpm. Victor Piseta, on spanish guitar, dazzled with his virtuoso playing inspired by Paco de Lucia and Astor Piazzolla. Victor´s current direction is primarily folklorico with Duo Matices although he has also toured with the trio, Guitarras de Fuego, and recorded as a solo guitar artist. There are big things to come for Victor.

http://www.youtube.com/v/d-EDYgiu3TQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1

Wednesday
Vocals. Ephedrine. Honey. Lemon. Spanish language Gods were looking down on me on this day.

Thursday
Trumpet track for Let the Credits Roll (Que Pasen los Créditos). This track needed a muted trumpet to give it a New Orleans funeral procession inkeeping with the sentiment of the song. I wrote this song a few years ago after my band The Good Hurt broke up.

Patricia Zania, a BsAs fashionista, took photos and video footage leading up to and during the recording. I hope to get some of it edited and translated back in London.

Thursday night was strange. My whole calendar had been focussed around this record and it was only after finishing at the studio that I realised I would be leaving in a week. The mixing will be done over the next few days and before I know it I´ll be back in London.

At least my girl and the sun will be there 🙂

Bill Drummond and The17 – Northampton Fish Market

On Saturday I took part in a performance in Northampton, England of the17 organised by Bill Drummond. It began in the Northampton Fish Market Gallery.


Bill Drummond is an art agitator in the UK that has been involved in a number of psychologically challenging projects (burning a million quid, taking an effigy of Elvis to the north Pole) and has a musical history that began with his management of Echo and the Bunnymen which he then left to form his own band – The KLF. Check out more about Bill here. His main output appears to be writing now but one of his ongoing music projects is a ‘post nuclear’ choir where Bill imagines that all music has dissapeared and we begin again from year zero.

What is The 17?

Bill has some simple manifesto posters that he uses to explain it – I don’t need to paraphrase

Having read Bills book about this project it prompted me to check out this event which was only an hours drive from where we were. As ever, leaving the house with my girlfriend can sometimes take longer than preferred and we left ourselves with 20 mins to get to Northampton fish market to register. Only the 1st one hundred people were to be allowed to register and take part. We broke the speed limit and got there to discover that the Northampton Fishmarket Gallery wasn’t so busy and we were numbers 7+8 on the registration form. My agitation at missing out dissipated but my girlfriends agitation at my agitation took a little longer to leave.

The gallery was big and open. We had some nibbles, a cider and waited. I bought a nice artwork made by cutting out paper. It showed a sad man with his feet dangling over a hole and at the bottom of this hole in the forest there was a red heart. All cut out of paper on yellow, black and one splash of red. We watched the mechanical pigeon on the rafters drop out it’s fake poo periodically and people slowly assembled.

Awards for top three outfits
1. The lady with a Vivienne Westwood stylings replete with bright red ’17 t-shirt’ and red hair.
2. The denim jacket with “Bring me noise!” in primal white daubs from a big brush
3. The chique Nouvelle Vague t-shirt. I bought their record recently after trying on a tweed suit in Scotland and in some ways this was the most punk thing to wear to such an event. Nouvelle Vague are a band that ‘do’ classic songs from dark 80’s rock bands like Echo and the Bunneymen and further, do it in a latin lounge style with a succession of singers that never jump out but merely smoulder in the background. It’s a derivative of a derivative of a derivative. It’s the ultimate anti-the17 statement here.

The Surround Score
My girlfriend and me were taking part in a score called ‘Surround’. The full version of SURROUND will be performed in Beijing, China in August 2009 – we were at the English trial-run.

Rather than use notation for scores Bill uses the everyman approach of plain text to describe how the choir should perform each score.

The idea in Northampton was to position 100 people around the streets of Northampton at intervals of 40-50m around a 5 kilometre circumference of a circle. Each spot was marked by a spray painted 17 logo on the pavement/wall/pole.

The score was to pass on a throaty shout descending to the note A from note C around the circle 5 times among the 100 people. The complication of having each 10th person begin the shout simultaneously and then pass it on clockwise was jettisoned when the logistical difficulty of having them notified at the same time became tricky. I guess that would need either a firework or 10 mobile phones calling another 10 mobiles of every 10th participant.

Quickly it was opted to have it begin with one person who would get a phone call to start.

We got Bills inspiring intro to the concept and the piece Surround and he got us all to practise the ‘Hey Ho’ shout so we were confident. It had to be loud as not everyone had line of sight with one another. My girlfriend was relieved she didn’t have to sing ‘professionally’ or know what the note of C was but I was a bit disappointed that the only post-music expression I could input would be the volume or character of my shout. Other scores have called for chanting, free utterances or meditation on skylarks ascending. No matter.

100+ of us trooped out of the fishmarket following Bill.

Each person was dropped off at their point. I wangled to get us dropped off early as I needed a pee and spotted an early 17 in spray paint outside a working mans club. A photographer took shots of everyones foot next to their spray painted 17 but mine was on a wall and I was full of pee so they had to take one of my face for safety. Being dropped off early meant there was time to kill until the other 85 people had trooped the 5km and been dropped off. We hung about and got to know our new neighbours dotted behind and in front of us. Ten minutes later the bloke near me decided to abandon his post as he needed to get his bus. This was a bit of frustration as the magic line and number had been broken. Bill was obsessive about there being exactly 100 otherwise it ‘wouldn’t work’. I spoke to our line and said to ask passers by.

This stand-in job is a difficult sell to someone in 2 mins and I got a variety of responses including

  • I’ll do it if your girlfriend up the road there gives me head (from someone on the way to see their girlfriend)
  • I’ll do it – I’m just away home to get my Elvis costume
  • How much will I get paid?

One of the girls two numbers up the line managed to call a friend and get her down. She would be here in 10 minutes.

Passers by in cars were hooting and noticing the pattern of people on the street. It was fun in the build up.

The replacement member of the 17 choir arrived 4 seconds before we had to do our thing. Destiny called out and we were not found wanting.

We all shouted ‘hey ho’ five times to one another and passed our energy around the circle. Shout number 3 seemed to be far too quick after shout number 2 and I susepct that a mis-fire happened somewhere along the line.

We trooped back to the Fishmarket Gallery to get our photo taken – drunkards from the pub were shooed out of the shot which would be only of the 100 with the photo being displayed on the wall of the gallery. I’m the one with the coffee cup and glasses.

Thoughts on my ‘the17’

  • I love the concept but not the one I was in. The realisation of the score didn’t touch on the new concepts of music I was hoping it would. I wanted a less mechanised shout and something that could evolve further and go deeper.
  • The ‘piece’ was too short. Short burst versions of the17 (i.e. less than 3-4 minutes) don’t prompt the participants to reveal more of themselves to one another. This score didn’t require anything other than good natured but ultimately distant participation.
  • The group camaraderie was fun – there are definitely not enough reasons for small dynamic groups to bond and have a connection – this project has this shared experience at its core
  • For most of the other Scores Bill did an audio recording of the event and then played it back at the end. Importantly, for Bill, the recordings were always deleted when the participants had heard it only once – the only remnant being in memories or Bills book notes. For events that didn’t take place in the same temporal timeframe (i.e. recording 4 different schools on four different days) he collated and layered them on top of one another for playback and subsequent deletion. I would have liked to have seen an attempt to record our piece – it could have been done on a) our mobile phones b) an omni directional from a silent helicopter or kite;) or c) from 5 or 6 strategically positioned mics. I miss the ceremony of playback and deletion that the book pimped.

At the end of the piece I said a quick Hello to Bill and told him I’d mail him about Electroraga.

Check out the17.org, take part, challenge your thoughts about music.

“Bill Drummonds fundamentalism is the roar of the universe – lang may his lum reek.”
Drongomala

All is Calm?

Dear Reader,

Hoping you are having a good December so far!?

I’d like to invite you to download, for free, my version of Silent Night.

Silent Night – mp3 version

This version of Silent Night was recorded when I was living in Kerala for 2 years recording with Carnatic musicians. When I recorded it the backdrop was the unfolding US policy as a result of 9/11 and it seems all these years later there are still problems all over the world.

Recently in Bombay there were terror attacks and there still continues to be demonisation of whole ethnic groups on all sides across the world. This track, from the album 100 Fields, was made with 2 Hindus, 2 Christians, 2 Muslims, 1 agnostic, 1 spiritualist and a Drongomala – it’s easy to make music really.

The track Silent Night will be free to download from this blog post or from www.drongomala.com all through Dec 08 until 2009. A notably wonderful Veena part played by Biju is a must listen on this track.

  • Drongomala : vocals, acoustic guitar and arrangements.
  • Balu – mridangham
  • A.R. Biju : veena
  • Jon Thorne : double bass
  • Ian Holmes-Lewis : percussion
  • Sanjay/Merlin/Lenoy/Sandra/Ramesh/Sujith – choir


“NOW AVAILABLE TO BUY!” (iTunes, CDBaby, FM)

Album Title : 100 Fields

Artist : Drongomala

Catalogue : FMCDA003

Label : Flying Mountain

For more information

Visit us at: www.drongomala.com

Email : silentnight@flyingmountain.co.uk


All Together Now

A blogworthy week of music events in the lead up to the Flying Mountain Extravaganza gig on Friday 22nd June at the Green Room Manchester…………with The Good Hurt as the house band.

Monday 18th June
Get a text from rapper Brother Ghazi that’s he’s pulling out of the show on Friday because he’s seeing family in Liverpool. I texted him back the one word “sucky” – he’d known about this gig for over a month and a half – it’s even on his myspace gig list. Text is a copout for a cancellation. Mail some more back and forth with Pauline from the Manchester Sing Out choir. One of the members expressed an interest in doing something with me having checked out my other music and I’ve tentatively suggested that they come down on Friday. The recently performed with Gorillaz when they were in Manchester. Great stuff.

Tuesday 19th June
Get a call from rapper The What Supreme saying he was pulling out of the gig on Friday. At least it was a call rather than a text however cancellations 3 days before a show really leave me icky – posters, mailouts and promo were now all wrong and the time spent by the band rehearsing a few extra pieces of music for rappers could have been spent elsewhere. This leaves no rappers for the rap portion of the Friday night’s show – so that’s now skratched. I make some phone calls to some of the other musicians playing on the night just to make sure they were good. The idea of the show is that The Good Hurt will invite a load of guests up to play with us. I keep calling it the alternative Glastonbury.

My e-friend Boofa (aka Beaufugg aka Generik) is coming up from London tonight. Boofa lives in NZ and we worked on a project called ‘12000 miles as the Crane Flies’ which was an electronic music project that we had collaborated on over the internet (see my previous post on collaborative working). Boofa was coming over to the UK and he factored some time into coming and hooking up in Manchester so that we could finish the project in a face to face capacity – Wellington, NZ is 12,000 miles from North Manchester, UK which is how we arrived on the name of the project.

I check out Cranes on the internet for inspiration and the more I read the more I liked the idea of Crane lore being a visual cue for our sonics…..some crane lore and facts below that I dig from the research :

  • Migrating cranes fly in an echelon, a V-formation, so that birds following the leader save energy by not having to push aside the air as they fly
  • Apollo is said to have disguised himself as a crane when on visits to the mortal world.
  • Homer told of the nation of Pygmies who each Spring would wage war on the cranes on the banks of Oceanus.
  • Mercury is said to have been inspired to create the shapes of the Roman alphabet after watching Cranes and their body shapes.
  • When a flock of Cranes are sleeping they nominate one Crane to stand watch with a stone in it’s talon/claw so that if it falls asleep the stone will fall and make a sound so the flock will know they are no longer protected

Boofa and me will be playing an electro set of the 12000 project on the night – it’s a handy bit of pressure to get us cracking this week.

I meet him and his lime green suitcase full of gear at the Tram station in Eccles in the early evening. We quickly get down to work after a delightful home-made curry. As I had been liberated of my laptops by oiks from Salford we weren’t sure which versions of the files I had for the project but luckily after a quick check on Boofa’s machine things were in order and I seemed to have the latest.

I’ve been lucky that the people I’ve met from the net for music have been normal/human/semi-sane and Boofa was no exception which was a good thing. I was glad he was here.

Wednesday 20th June 2007
Boofa and me get down to some jamming during the day and Phil Reed the flute player turns up to do a session for the 12000 Project in the afternoon. For V-Formation Phil does a cool trick of playing 2 flutes at once which looks like a V shape – we dig it. The soundcard is acting like a muppet and keeps putting digital fizz and crackle on the audio so we only manage to get some chunks that aren’t wrecked. Phil puts on the jam session in Chorlton known as Extraordinary Rendition. Before we know it we have to go to the soundcheck for the Circus Rock show tonight at the Mint Lounge in Oldham Street. My girlfriend hears us on the Revolution Radio 96.2 station on the way in – hooray. Between you me and t’internet it took a lot of doing to get them to play us. During the soundcheck Pauline from the Sing Out Choir calls – they are in rehearsals and want to know some details – I try and tell her over the sound of drumkits and musicians lugging gear.

Thursday 21st June
Recording and prepping for the gig tomorrow with Boofa. All day from midday to 2am. Synchronised button pressing, knob twiddling and new styles of dancing are the order of the day.

The tracks that we have are : Tsuru, Before The Stone Drops, The Wisdom of Two, Mercury Alphabet, Cranes vs. Pygmies and V-Formation.


Friday 22nd June
Glastonbury is a festival of music and double mud this year it seems – at least our alternative Glasto is sans glow sticks and rain. Tonights gig is for Universal Promotions. I always tend to do a little something special for shows via Universal Promotions because I like the guy that runs it. He called me up a month ago to do something under the banner of Flying Mountain Records to draw together some of the more disparate music I’m involved in.

 

Pauline told me that maybe 6 or 7 people might turn up from the choir – at around 9:30pm twenty of them turn up. The staff from the Green Room are lovely and we manage to get a little practise room recently vacated by the Flamenco dance classes and get down to working on three of the tracks for 20 minutes.It sounds wonderful with just the voices and guitar in the sweetly reverberant room. Everyone in the room gets proper tingles and I’m stoked to hear one of my tracks get the gospel treatment. The Manchester Sing Out Choir have a really good group unity feel about them and it’s infectuous. As some of the choir are younger we manage to wangle getting the three songs that they are doing shoe-horned earlier into the night. We play Good Souls, Amazing Grace (my arrangement from 100 Fields) and U Got the Love by Candi Staton. The choir do their best to fit onto the stage and it goes down a treat with the audience but the fact is that the sound was better in the rehearsal room. Ce la Vie. The band we jumped in front of to squeeze in our gospel thang are pretty peeved and a few of them stromp about onstage with their little grey clouds and teeth set to ‘crunch’. I say goodbye to the choir and buy a few of them a drink….I’m feeling pretty invincible and then around 30 mins later we play a blistering 4 song set with the Good Hurt – featuring Annette Gregory and Phil on Meet U in the Middle and then the core three of us (drongomala, sinik and tree) tear through Blowin Up Tryin 2B Somebody, Leave Ur Mind Where U Want to Pick It Up and Kick This Habit Of U – we pack our normal 40 minutes of energy into 10 minutes and the crowd really dig it. Sarah Evans follows us and does a oratory piece called ‘Bisexual Speed Dating’ which gives us a chance to set up the 12000 Project and to enjoy her freaking the room out with a blend of character performance, saucy wordage and defiant smoking. Even though the laptop was having a mini flakeout 20 minutes ago the electronic Drum ‘n’ Bass tinged 12000 Project set goes down perfectly and Boofa and me are stoked that we’ve pulled it off.

We hang out for the rest of the night – Tree jams along with the act on after the 12000 Project and Sinik b-boys to the turntablists. The Universal crowd are good and we have alot of repeat attendees from the last gig we played at here in the Green Room.

Finish up at around 4am.

Saturday
Boofa and me take a break and we go into town to hang out for a bit – to preempt the ‘cabin fever’ that is creeping in. We get some food in the café underneath the Buddhist centre in the Northern Quarter and some coffee from Nero where Boofa asks the waitress to “bake me a cake” in Polish. We have a super productive day and the tracks that didn’t make the selection for live performance are worked up a little.

Sunday
Final day of tweaking for the 12000 Project – this is much less fun than the writing part but smoothing out the rough edges and the structrure of the music we’ve been working on lets us finally sit back and enjoy some mixes. We watch a bit of the Who at Glasto as they sing and almost hurry over the line “Hope I die before I get old”.

that was the week that was
drongomala

One, two, three, four
Can I have a little more?
five, six, seven eight nine ten I love you.A, B, C, D
Can I bring my friend to tea?
E, F, G H I J I love you.

Sail the ship, Chop the tree
Skip the rope, Look at me

All together now….

Black, white, green, red
Can I take my friend to bed?
Pink, brown, yellow orange and blue I love you

All together now….

Sail the ship, Jump the tree
Skip the rope, Look at me

All together now….(the beatles)

Planet of the Apes 4Brains

Recently I undertook a one-off concert with my band The Good Hurt where we themed the visual side of the show on the movie The Planet of the Apes. By that I mean we dressed up in white boiler suits and had a French VJ (Emmanuelle) broadcast and remix the original movie onto our clothes and faces while we performed. We had a few guests that day (Brother Ghazi, The What Supreme, Annette) and luckily they all came along and wore white too. I also played acoustic guitar rather than electric to give it that final postnuclear back to the basics feel;)

The concert was held in a little cafe place called the Koffee Pot in Manchester (just off Oldham Road) with a bring your own booze policy. The event was part of the Futuresonic 2007 festival and as the festival has a big emphasis on context, technology and video it became the excuse I needed to finally ‘get down’ with my obsession with Planet of the Apes’ or more specifically – the thread between ape and man. I only need the slightest of pushes in this direction to get momentum and have often thought about the social truisms that might have sprung up round a shared fire by ‘primitives’ that went later with recorded records to become species behaviours and societies. Those bonobos bang the bongos too you know…..

In the film three astronauts survive a crash landing on an earth-like planet. Their last chance of contacting home disappearing under the waves. The first and last scenes bookend the film brilliantly and both, in essence, have a very similar theme of the frailty of man and his technology. The opening showing a wonderful piece of technology, a spaceship, sinking into an ocean while the last scene shows something of a similar nature – one of the most iconic statues made by man (Venus de Milo aside) shown half buried in the sand and revealing to the astronauts that they are in fact on planet earth albeit 2000 years into the future. It’s a hell of an ending. The movie was adapted by Michael wilson and Rod Seling from the novel La Planete des singes. Rod Serling is better known for his work on the TV shorts The Twilight Zone and it was his genius in adding the last scene which did not exist in the book – eventually envied by the original novelist for the weight it adds to the story. Those two scenes are very powerful and encapsulate the film in a simple arc. The rise and fall of man and the cyclic nature of technology and more primatively….dominance.


MOVIECLIP HORSEBACK MANHUNT

I love this clip of the gorillas hunting down the primitive mute humans and the accidentally stranded astronauts horribly caught up with the hunt. The use of the camera by the gorillas in the scene after the hunt is priceless too as they stand with their feet on the human spoils and laugh. It’s proper chilling. The Gorillas clad in leather military outfits on horseback hunt down humans using tools such as nets and guns to a soundtrack of alarmed brass instruments and strings. 2000 years in the future and apes have domesticated the horse and replicated one of man greatest achievements, along with guns and cameras.

The ‘mastering’ of the horse was so fundamental in getting the really ‘big wheels’ of our recent globalism started. Historians and archaelogists have suggested the domestication of horses by humans first took place in the Ukraine at approximately 4000BC. The use of horses by this early Indo-European culture shows in the rapid spread of the Kurgan culture and the ease with which it dominated over Pre Indo European cultures. Communications, speed and force were all on the side of cultures who had dominated the horse. Persian Emperors commanded their empire more coherently than their earlier counterparts of Assyrian and earlier still Mesopotamian cultures. Responding to an uprising or a rebellion was much easier with the use of horses to firstly hear about the uprising and secondly to send troops on horseback to quell it.

The humans on this future version of earth are dumb creatures and easily dominated by the apes – used for sport and labour. They are taken back to ape city and they are subjected to experiments. Charlton Heston, who plays the lead man, is subjected to court rulings by the variety of lead monkeys and women. The logic against man and his barbarity, or apparent barbarity as the humans see it, is argued over by the chimps, organutans and gorillas in a complex social discourse not too unsimilar to our own.

In a Science article, Carel van Schaik reports observing geographic variations in orang-utan behaviour that could be considered culture. In her study, van Schaik outlined the characteristics of culture into four sub-sections:

  • 1. labels, “where food preferences or predator recognition are socially induced,”
  • 2. signals, socially transmitted vocalizations or displays,
  • 3. skills, innovations like tool use that are learned by the group, and
  • 4. symbols, “probably derived from signal variants that became membership badges of the social unit or population.”

Not all anthropologists agree with this but I do as a punter. Whales haven’t been rearranging sea algae in to multiple alphabets and concocting large dialogues between them selves about the existential sense of whale and monkeys are still primitive and habitat focussed in their signage to one another. Today, for the most part, only humans have all four elements of ‘culture’, but chimpanzees and, now, orangutans have been observed to exhibit the first three.

“The presence in orangutans of humanlike skill (material) culture pushes back its origin in the hominoid lineage to about 14 million years ago, when the orangutan and African ape clades last shared a common ancestor, rather than to the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans,” says van Schaik.

In the flip world of planet of the Apes there is a fully developed set of symbols that operate among the chimps, orang-utans and gorillas. Symbols on archtiecture, on clothing and externalisation of self is everywhere. Not only do apes rule and act in a rich manner they have a class system encompassing the main families of ape.

The gorilla police, military, and labourers;
The orang-utan administrators, theologians, and politicians;
The chimpanzee scientists, intellectuals and workers.

Each of the ape groups has a wonderful style of clothing that identifies them and their social place/rank. I’ve even checked out the possibility of getting clothing as used in the movie but it’s limited to ex Hollywood stock at very high prices on E-bay and crap generic monkey masks masquerading as legitimate film related merchandise. It’s a blend of leather and cloth and the colours are so deliciously 1960’s that any one of the outfits are on my top 10 bits of clothing to get. Chimps are green, Orang-utans are orange and the Gorillas are purple.

Humans, who cannot talk, are considered to be “less than ape” and as such are treated like cattle for sport and experimentation. The arrival of the astronauts who can talk throws ape society into disarray and the majority of the apes, especially the gorilla’s, want to eradicate the humans…some chimps however take pity on the humans and seek to know more about the phenomenon and to know more fully where and ‘when’ they came from.

Many animals have been observed using tools: Dolphins use sponges when fishing, crows use sticks to forage for insects in dead wood, capuchin monkeys use stones to break open nuts.Researchers can learn about chimpanzee “culture” by tracking nut-cracking behavior. Cracking nuts is no easy feat, and it can take a chimpanzee up to seven years to learn how to do it correctly. The technology is passed from generation to generation and diffuses across populations. Knowledge is a virus, language is a virus as real as any forest fire or ocean swelling.

Zaius, the Orang-utan and eminent scientist soon discovers Taylor’s ability to talk and puts him on trial when he tries to escape. After the trial, he is taken to see Dr. Zaius, who threatens to emasculate and lobotomize him if he doesn’t tell the “truth” about where he came from. But Cornelius and Zira (the leading chimp synpathisers) execute a plan to free Taylor.

They flee to the Forbidden Zone – not a million miles away from the idea of a Twilight Zone – a place where anything could happen and you must expect the unexpected. As a destination – you know that the Forbidden Zone is going to be the shiz – the name makes it such desirable as location. The forbidden zones of our own society can often educate and not always for the good. Apes of today have a sense of the forbidden in social protocol with regards food, shelter, and reproduction rights but they are more really rules – no great lore and story associated with it. In the movie Cornelius, the chimpanzee, aracheologist and historian had a year ago visited the Forbidden Zone and found human artifacts there and they return to find out the series of events that led to man losing earth through nuclear war. The story of mans fall and apes rise is played out to them in the forbidden zone and the final sign shown that he has travelled to the future and witness to a horrible fate. That statue of liberty covered up to her chest in sand.

The concepts in the film aren’t exactly that oblique and the apes become surrogates for examining human behaviour – not only the treatment of animals by humans but the dynamic between humans themselves. The backdrop for the movie being made in the 1968 was the cold war as examined by the long haired hippies.

The dramatic climax near the end of the movie when Cornelius reads directly from the Sacred Scrolls at the now-captured Dr. Zaius’ request : Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.

MOVIECLIP of DR ZAIUS SPEECH

The advent of tool making has always been a double edged sword as far as ‘progress’ goes. It is thought that shards or flakes from the use of stones to crack open nuts were the first flints or knives and knives can be used for cutting food or taking out your neighbour. Nuclear power has this duality too – cheap and simple power production intertwined with the horrible bomb.

The movie was recently ‘re imagined’ by Tim Burton however it just doesn’t’ seem to hold the same gravitas with me. The original with it’s stark sets and simplistic approach is much more Shakespearian (helped by Roddy McDowall – arguably the lead chimp). The production in it’s limited budget and techniques is almosyt theatre-like and emphasises the drama and the philosophical questions at stake much better than the overblown remake.

The original reminds me of a great book I read by James Morrow called ‘This Is the Way The World Ends‘ where the dead hold a trial in the Antarctic of the six remaining living and those directly and indirectly responsible for the nuclear war that ravaged the earth.

You have been warmed….

Drongomala


The Good Hurt

Kick This Habit of You

My new band The Good Hurt was formed in Manchester late in 2006. We’re now playing live in the NW England and it is about time that I dropped a little blog about how the band got together and who is in it and all o’ that.

I was wanting to get a live band on the go again – I had been a digi-producer doing mostly hiphop and electronica with a variety of poeple in the UK and I wanted the live feedback of a band setup. The first addition to the group was Sinik. Sinik is a b-boy and DJ who also does photography and film and we first met when he filmed my improvisational Fusion project ElectroRaga He began filming at 6am, took punches for me and worked his way through the 4 concerts in one day right up until the Midnight concert in the Red Light Area in Manchester. The ElectroRaga day was an outrageous event and because we hung so tough on that day we had an immediate bond – they call him The Sinik but I call him by the less snappy title of Romantic Realist.

Sinik is proper quirky and rotates having pink, purple and red streaks in his hair along with some sort of bi-polar happy/sad mania. He adores Devo and The Pixies a scary amount and has some seriously enviable knowledge of funk and hip-hop.

Before forming The Good Hurt with me Sinik played a little bit of guitar but owing to our reduced numbers (2) he had to play bass guitar and a few months later and his natural groove is unencumbered as he runs over the frets like his knuckles and knees used to do on lino. It’s a beautiful thing.

We quickly began to demo stuff as a two piece and began working on a set – a mix of my songs and songs that we co-wrote the music for. I don’t tend to sing other peoples lyrics as I get psychological problems with it;)

Here are some links/downloads of our little two piece demos that we did at the time. This blog/podcast is the only place that these demo’s are available so feel free to download/share.

We really wanted a drummer and after some searching on various bulletin boards and myspace we were lucky enough to find Tree. He’s 17 but he plays like he’s been living out of a transit and rocking it for years beyond his age. The first rehearsal was great and we knew he was ‘the one’. Tree got stuck right into the mix and our dynamics opened up deliciously – the set grew and we managed to turn from roar to whisper in a heartbeat. Tree plays all the time and does some pretty avante garde projects on the side including Carcophony which he’ll be putting on at Glastonbury. It’s a large military jeep customised with loads of drums and a PA that Tree and another drummer rock out in and on top of. It’s something else alright.

After our first gig Caroline from All FM asked us if we could do a live spot for her show Funky Drive which we were happy to as it gave birth to our acoustic set. You can hear the audio of it here or by clicking on her pic – we play four tracks and chat a bit about current events aswell as some avante either or pop quiz questioning..

When we got enough jams together and after we had played another couple of gigs we decided to record a demo. We do it at Sankeys Soap. We did it live and in a day because it was cheap and we wanted to get the energy of some first takes on tape to match the excitement we were having in rehearsals. Dave Thomas engineereed and mixed it.

We recorded 4 tracks and called the EP Prescription No 1.

  1. Kick This Habit Of You
  2. Spinning Plates
  3. Do It Every Night
  4. Good Souls

A friend did the NHS style graphics for the artwork from a spec by Sinik and me.

Kick This Habit Of You is deliciously punk rock and Spinning Plates, which sounds a bit like early U2 aka Red Rocks period, saw us use the synths a bit more which were slowly creeping into the set and every song. In among the bluster Good Souls, a song I first wrote when I arrived in Manchester early 2006, showcases the band playing in a classic sensitive mould. The demo began to get us gigs no problem.

The Good Hurt don’t contrive any sort of identity and instead we dig the challenge of breeding an eclectic yet coherent output. We’re not a rock band, we’re not a new-wave band, we’re not a pop band – we’re simply The Good Hurt.

Each live show gets better than the last and the set is slowly being honed into a missile that we are aiming at the UK music biz.

Please consider yourself introduced.

Drongomala

Get Prescription No 1 on iTunes (will open iTunes on yer comp)

Buy a Physical Copy from CDBaby (our Stateside distributor)

Buy the CD
album cover
click to order