Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Three gigs, with economy

Back in September, Transcender was a superb join-the-dots night of deep media music, at St Luke's Church in Old Street, London. First, Zombie Zombie producer and saxophonist Etienne Jaumet joined Sonic Boom and Dhrupad-style vocalist Celine Wadier. The combination of Jaumet's channelled licks through his bank of effects, Sonic Boom's meandering oscillations and Wadier's deep warbles was a powerful one, setting things up well for the main event - James Holden's jam with Maalem Houssam Guinia and his Gnawa boys. Houssam has taken over the master (maalem) mantle from his deceased father (whose work with Holden and F Points on this ep i can never recommend enough) and, apart from a few false starts where Houssam couldn't get his guembri to do his bidding, really hit the spot with those driving lines, lively percussion, devotional style chanting and Holden's synth embellishments. One for the heads certainly.

... Sonic Boom with Etienne Jaumet and Celine Wadier oscillating widely/meditating deeply

A photo posted by Murray Withers (@muzzboxx) on

Fast forward a month or so and i was fortunate enough to get a trip to Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum to catch one night of Kraftwerk's run of performances of their classic albums - in 3D! In truth, they only played 3 or 4 of the scheduled Trans Europe Express, but this was a minor quibble as classic after classic came, the 3D imagery sucked you in and the Spanish/Basque contingent, in particular, seemed to really go for it. There is no surprising treatment of these familiar tunes, and the robotic, rail and other now-quaintly high-tech imagery too is familiar to anyone even roughly acquainted with their kraft, but that doesn't matter. There is a simple but profound joy in hearing these foundational moments of techno, pop and everything in between beautifully rendered on a great soundsystem and in the symapathetic surroundings of the Guggenheim's cavernous atrium. The 'boys' do a few encores until the finale sees three take their turns to exit stage right, leaving Ralf Hutter to bask in the fullest applause. As I said, a real treat to 'tick off' one of the retro acts on such a night, in such a great city.

Finally last week I caught Nadja's latest appearance at Dalston's Cafe Oto. We were fairly unmoved by Aidan Baker's solo more ambient diversions in the warm-up, though it sounded better after a refresher outside, but as a duo Baker and Leah Buckareff made a dark ocean of noise as twin guitar lines and incidental sounds are looped, distorted and embellished with growing intensity in one hypnotic set. With Buckareff's back to the crowd and Aidan slightly more of a performer, the walls of sounds built, little iterations having a big effect and eventually a dubstep-like low oscillation kicking in with real pressure. Whether it was generated live or off a preset, I had no idea, and neither was there any hint of individual tracks. Tommy and I both mused whether we'd like to see the narrative arc build and climax over three or four separate songs, but this was not what we got and it mattered little as the crushing sound took on a meditative effect. Their back catalogue is well worth a listen snd a look, as most of the punters did of their table of FX did when they'd finished.

(pictures from tommy)
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Endless 80s - a mix

A controlled mixing exercise, Paul's Box solely uses records from a box my brother in law gave me that his mum had found in the attic. The box was almost entirely 80s gear - electro, soul-funk and early house/rave 12 inches, compilations and albums (although there are decent late 70s long players from the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith and Ramsey Lewis, and, er, novelties like the Hitler Rap), and so is the mix. The batch seemed to veer from expensive mailed out 12s to his childhood house in Aldershot and more standard issue, humdrum gear from the local Our Price. It was a pleasure to discover and a pleasure to put together.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Celtic away

We had qualified for a ticket to City away at Parkhead, truly one to cross off the List of Grounds to Visit. Unrestricted tickets were available on our points, they said, so I booked two. Train and accommodation were then needed. Cheaper the better – not easy given that the champions league draw was announced on 25 August, but tickets arrangements announced three weeks later and our place only secured 12 days before.

But it was for Parkhead, Celtic Park. ‘Raucous’ home of Celtic FC, according to Google Maps, which either has affective monitoring software or a committed Bhoy on its team. ‘Paradise’ is the club’s own hyperbolic moniker for the ground. Delusional self-congratulation? We’d find out.

Before we took on the Hoops, several of the administrative type had to be negotiated. Before you got your hands on a precious match ticket you need to remember to pack your IDs – seasoncard, plus photo ID plus letter showing confirmation of booking – and take all that down to the designated ticket pick-up point, at the Old Fruitmarkets in the rebranded Merchant City area at the eastern edge of the city centre.

Our first attempt got nowhere. The queues snaked around the ground and onto the main road, and Blues were grumbling about a two-hour wait. Fuck. That. We changed plan, went to eat and drink first and hoped the queues would die down nearer to kick off. Some fans can take this in their stride, seeing it as a necessary part of top-tier European football where safety and security (and fan homogeneity) are prerequisites, but I make no apologies for being more selfish, feeling that I have spent hundreds of pounds and risked a partner’s ire for a trip that shouldn’t be sullied by officious box-ticking exercises. Whether the club or UEFA take more responsibility for the initiative is moot, but City could have put more people on to make it a swifter process. But after about half an hour, we finally got ours, were processed out into a side street and had a last pint before pitching up about the dry zone that is a Champion’s League stadium – and make sure you are 30 minutes early and also wearing that armband you were given. This week, it would seem the anger and subsequent petitioning of some was vindicated as City scrapped the scheme for the other two group away UCL games.

En route to the east end, our cab driver told us about the Scottish league’s crazy idea to have the second Old Firm derby of the season a few hours before the Hogmanay celebrations. He’s looking to the uptick in fares, but much of the hospitality industry in town is not.

Land / Sea / Morumbi.

A photo posted by Citizen Corinthian (@ctzncorinthian) on

Again, as a ruling the UCL stadium booze ban could be seen as small beer but it’s a rank slice of exclusion that those in executive seats can drink away while those of us in the *cheap* seats cannot enjoy their ritualistic pint before the match or at half time. The justification that no alcohol brands can be seen by the TV cameras is even more nonsensical when we’re talking about a pint in an unmarked plastic pint in a concourse too far away to compete with the Heineken hoardings.

Out came the teams, City sporting their latest “Buy This” orange and mauve number (described as sick by my twins) where our traditional sky blue would do against a team in green and white. I don’t know whether Celtic fans were protesting the fine for holding aloft Palestinian flags but that ticket ordeal meant our habitual booing of the ‘Champion’s League anthem’ (Marc calls the adaptation of “Zadok the Priest” Lasaaagne – go on try it) would not cease as our hot new manager Guardiola would like. With ex-United executive David Gill doing his best to ensure the traditional elite stay as such, and after some ridiculous bans and fines as well as the FFP fiasco, some of our fans are far from ready to give up our sense of outsider status yet.

We'd be drowned out by 55,000 Celtic fans of course, but Blues were in raucous voice themselves. And there was only the odd “Rule Britannia” chant to ignore, with just a few City wind-up merchants sporting Union Jacks. But then the pro-Rangers, loyalist element of City has always been played up in contradistinction to United’s Catholic links. Celtic’s main ties are to Liverpool – though you could have added Arsenal in the 70s. Favouring a united Ireland, Celtic as the mainland representatives of that aspiration always won my backing and I admire their determination to promote solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Nonetheless, part of me is beginning to think the club should dial down the sectarian identity several notches (both Glasgow clubs are not allowed to sing their songs of hatred but routinely still do).

For most of the game these bureaucratic niggles and supporter differences could be forgotten as City and Celtic slugged it out in a thrilling 3-3, and City fans could only be impressed by the regular wall of noise coming from all corners of the home crowd, not least the much vaunted safe standing corner. English fans regularly dismiss anything choreographed in the form of fans with loudspeakers leading the charts, prompting everyone jumping up and down at the same time, but this was impressive. New Celtic manager Brendan Rogers said he had previously not heard a din like it there, so clearly there was something in this Battle of Britain that fired the imagination more than, say, a 5-1 thrashing of Rangers earlier that month.

Back out after a pulsating match, only slightly disappointed City couldn’t quite find the winner, and the police presence is still highly visible, only fading out half a mile or so along the London Road. I muttered something probably factually incorrect about the SNP sorting out the public sector spending up here. It did seem OTT to an English fan used to minimal policing operations, but I did not hear any reports of trouble in Glasgow that day. It was after about 25 minutes walking in ever worsening rain that we decided to duck into a fast food place. Truly soaked, we needed to dry off – and have a kebab or a chana daal as to taste. We eventually got a night out, a Scottish friend showing us a couple of great bars that saw us into the early hours.

#Squad

A photo posted by Citizen Corinthian (@ctzncorinthian) on

As many point out, the system particularly at UEFA Champions League games is an active turn-off for matchgoing fans who are a long way down the priority list from Official Sponsors and worldwide viewers seeing the simulacrum on TV. Yet a more intelligent version of the ticketing system probably needs to be in place to stop people buying up loads of tickets and passing them on - loads more needs to be done to stop too many ending up in the hands of 'official' touts too. Oh and the seats did have restricted view.

Nevertheless, we’d look back on the game, as others did, as a restorative blast of noise and passion, the type that makes you want to come back again and again in search of a similar experience despite the multiple inconveniences and rip-off prices.

Twitter pic mine. Instas Marc's

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Henged

It was an event we had long planned for our twins, born 10 weeks early on June 21 2006. Take them to summer solstice at Stonehenge for their 10th birthday, and the year had arrived. It would not be officially sanctioned by school of course - unless we turn Druid, then it becomes a religious matter - but they were fine to take the days as sickies. It was an arguably immodest proposal that was usually met with much disbelief: no we are not staying anywhere, no, tents are not allowed, yes they will be up the best part of all night, yes they will be exposed to ‘freaks’, ‘druggies’ and all kinds of assorted fringe elements. Yet with typical suburban misplaced concern, we fretted more about the logistics of getting there, and getting out.

But we timed it about right, turning off the A303 shortly before the car park opened so we only had to berth up for a bit on nearby lanes before we joined the queue to get in. Here we found remnants of the old-school traveller/cider punk hardcore - rightly protesting against English Heritage’s decision to charge entry for solstice for the first time ever (and at £15 per car setting the bar quite steep straight away). In the pictures below you’ll see Liz on the back of her mate’s van, and they had a go at ‘not paying to pray’ until a swift word from the Wiltshire fuzz (basically ‘pay or fuck off’) killed the matter for that group. Whatever their justification, English Heritage were cashing in on worshippers and revellers’ desire to see solstice.

We parked up and, after the walk from that field near that garish new visitor centre (complete with replicas of iron age dwellings), were probably in the first 1000 or so on site, enabling us to set up base near one of the stones not in the inner ring but the next set out, so very close (basing any nearer would have been possible but misguided given the constant flow of people in and out of the epicentre). Security’s attempt to keep people off the pair of sloped stones (perfect for a vantage point into the hub) just in front of us was adhered to initially but became a losing battle as darkness fell. Generally the booze ban was observed and with us having to make the evening work for the kids was not an issue for us.

We caught a little of the blessing ceremonies and the bit where anybody can take the floor, do a spoken or musical turn to generally good reception. One women’s leading of the People Get Ready / A Change is Gonna Come song was very effective. As the Strawberry Moon came and went, the drums got louder and more insistent and slowly the more polemical/faith-based nature of the ceremonies gives way to your basic hedonic activity.

It’s a great and liberatory thing, having no dj or band to give you your event’s soundtrack. You are the musicker. You Are the sound system. If you want to lead proceedings you just head on into the centre and freak the loudest. It will help if you have a didgeridoo or a drum, of course.

The best part of the evening on these terms was unmistakably the late night and early morning, when the centre circle was constantly being regenerated. The vibes here were generally great, though at times there was as much ‘look at me I’m here / woop, woop ’ mitherings from younguns constantly filming proceedings on their phones as there were transgressive moments when the various drummers near the centre of the circle coalesce into some kind of form and you could groove away (I should say here that with the kids our wonderings into the centre were only occasional but we were in constant aural connection). But i’ll remember the old sax dude tearing it up with his impressionistic blowing over various drum patterns, and one young Druidy type with a drum starting up a great rhythm as a means to protest his ‘no pay to pray, this is my temple’ spiel and winning over much of the throng.

The freeform and participatory nature of the evenings and the need to keep it going generate inadvertent weirdness - at one stage i was hearing a rendition of Wonderwall from the main circle for christ’s sakes (bit of Euro 2016 infection there?). Other popular and memetic numbers such as Who Let the Dogs Out got an airing too. Nearby, there are drunken drama guys bellowing songs like Bohemian Rhapsody and Tainted Love to anyone who would listen. and of course there is always one who has to clamber up one of the bigger stones, then realise the drop down is bigger than he thought and is there for ages working out his descent. I wonder elsewhere and see the Hare Krishna mobile tent gathering quite a crowd around it, with its mix of chanting and free food.

There was a relative lull around 2-3am, and breakout bits of drumming away from the centre that win substantial attention. But soon enough the dark skies brighten and the throng starts preparing for that moment: a cloudy sunrise arrives, and with it many more arrivals who turn up just for this bit of the day. At this stage everyone even around the outer henges is standing up and photographing the views their memory may not sustain and I had one last wonder into the communal centre. The sky was rapidly brightening up at this stage and it looked like it would be a special early morning assembly but the kids had gone on the journey with us to 5am already so it would have been harsh to ask them to keep going some more. Driving back having had no sleep (me as passenger, partner as driver) was misguided but we made it.

How did the kids cope? Very well, considering their proximity to the action, getting about an hour and a half of sleep each. I'm glossing over losing our son for a bit - he woke up disoriented, went to the wrong set of toilets and couldn't work out his way back but remembered our mobile number to a guard. There were much younger kids in the thick of it too, and I’ll remember the daughter of the Manc crowd, themselves constantly toking, doing some crystal power thing with the stones on the behest of a hippie couple and her mother. Tuning in here had no lower age boundary.

Would we do it again? Absolutely, although English Heritage’s prices and some of its policies are offputting. Coming down just for sunrise would be tempting. And we’re absolutely delighted this time worked out too.

Here's Liz riding the protest van

A lovely image of the kids walking to the site in the adjacent field
Mistress of ceremonies
Hypnotic sax man
Sunrise, give or take a few minutes
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Lively conference

The latest of local resident Thurston Moore’s series of Dalston soirees, under the banner of the local esoteric publisher Ecstatic Peace Library (here they are upping the covers of old 70s Musics issues) was hugely enjoyable. We went to the second instalment, on 12 June. The 'conference' highlight for me was the first act, Thurston jamming with My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe and her array of pedals over one song. Subsonic bass oscillations meet minimal and moody guitar picking over several phases before it becomes a recognisable and still-pleasing Velvets-ey scrawl. As i bored my crowd, I’d be well up for mp3s of a studio collaboration between the pair.

Maggie Nicols was next up - a stalwart of the jazz and improv scenes doing her storytelling, piano accompaniments and repertoire of vocal tics to the general amusement but hopefully enjoyment of everyone. Transcendent moments glide seamlessly into bathetic punctuation. Great how she fits in stories of life and death over such an ostensibly deranged format. Yet over 25 minutes or so it is all probably much tighter than you would imagine.

Thurston’s Q&A with Brix Smith-Start (she has a new book out The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, about her time with Mark E Smith and The Fall) was also entertaining and enlightening. Once Thurston had set it up with some introductory rambles, he allowed Smith-Start to offer an engaging take on the period. A Hollywood native, she talked of the culture shock of arriving into bleak mid-80s post-industrial manchester, and other key moments such as the I Am Curious Oranj ballet with Michael Clark. Good to see this repromotion of her prominent role in this bright period for The Fall.

Of course around this time Sonic Youth did a Peel Session covering Fall tracks, but this wasn't mentioned even though it went on to be called 4 Tunna Brix after the American. In typical ageing indie-rocker fashion, the pair were often scratching their heads about when they had met - and whether they had talked to each other. She finished this segment with a rendition of one of her own numbers on acoustic guitar.

The Thurston Moore band - including Googe on bass - finished the night off in fine style. i don't now the solo artist or the band well enough to discern whether these were new tunes or oldies but a few digressed from the base of standard alt-rock stylings into pleasingly intense noise-outs. With imaginative and diverse line-ups like these, i’d certainly come again Thurston.

(Pictures by Tommy)

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Punk at 40

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Scope, scapes and shape - a 2016 mix

KlikB8 101 - Scope, scapes and shape is the first Sonic Truth mix that is purely online only. I was working on the basis of it going on Mixcloud so didn't restrict myself to the 80-minute CD limit - therefore if I burn copies I will have had to do an edit that doesn't reflect the desired progression. No longer using a cracked copy of Sound Studio, my partner's new Mac didn't have anything comparable (Logic or Garageband are too fussy for these purposes) so i downloaded a trial copy of Twisted Wave; worked pretty well. Likewise, although the odd track was taken off a legacy CD and transferred between computers, much of the music is now coming straight off Bandcamp releases, reflecting the dominance and ease of use of that platform

Though there's the usual attempt at spanning the genres - although I am now almost completely unshackled from indie rock - but also an unapologetic doubling up of material from a few releases, whether an artist album or compilation. This just reflects the fact that I'm finding things I really like and sticking to them - the Boxed Ldn instru-grime compilation (Glot and JT the Goon), Talbot Fade (the bridge between Selected Ambient Works and Burial), Gerd Janson's very tidy Music for Autobahns II (Shan and Disco Nihilist). The same goes for Julie Holter on her now quite old Live Recordings - an artist i took a while to tune into even though there is never any doubt i would like her style (and seeing her at Oval this Monday!).

I make it at least eight 'old' (a year-plus) tracks but there's hot new stuff too - Egyptian Bionic Ahmed on Lee Gamble's label and Oliver Coates' finely quirky cover on the fine Front & Follow remix compilation of Laura Cannell. The mix also spans the decades as Talbot Fade's Weathered Sunrise sneaks out of its inspiration, the Prodigy's Weather Experience. Hope it works.

There's the usual curios (Manchester's infamous Beetham Tower winterval hum kicking us off; speak and spell Satie); 'comic' moments like Palin's landmark endorsement of Trump and Cameron sampled by Alias Djekyll tune; and mates' contributions - Opium Harlot. So as ever it'll sound odd and no doubt incomprehensible to many an ear, but it works for me.

TRACKLISTING the beetham tower hum
laura cannell - deers bark (oliver coates rmx)
eric satie - bonjour biqui bonjour
julia holter - with loue to toune
tropic of cancer - when the dog bites
the prodigy - weather experience
talbot fade - weathered sunrise
dva - ganja (french fries remix)
glot - purp drip (mike midnight rmx)
semitic djekyll - moveXcam
sir spyro - side by side
jt the goon - broken floor
opium harlot - chicken of the sea
bionic ahmed - 131001G
savages - t.i.w.y.g
clark - so malleable
boardgame james - ocean bluetooth (talbot fade rmx)
shan - awakening
julia holter - hello stranger
bugge wesseltoft - (all i wanted was to make you) feel good
brtsh knights - outta your mind
nozinja - n’wanga i jesu
beta librae - bangs dub
disco nihilist - melancholy
governor palin - proud clingers of our guns and daughters
new order - tutti frutti
roberto roena - que se sepa

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Clickbait corner

Usually i have five or six printouts on the go in my work bag, printouts of web articles long enough to not want to be dead-eye scrolling down the piece online for 10 minutes, interesting enough that I'll want to return to them on a regular basis outside the bookmarking format on a browser.

What the list below is a recreation of the contents of that scuzzy workbag - a kind of standalone Delicious page of some of the most impressive writing that has stayed with me over the past year. Usual subjects covered: music, football, British culture, Islamism and terror etc. Read and enjoy.

Alain Badiou - The Red Flag and the Tricolore (via Verso)

French main man's expert reading of - and the reaction to - the attacks on the ruck-making Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Jewish supermarket in Paris in February. Hebdo had been hitherto excused its worst racist excesses because it was seen as a core part of French cultural life (such "intellectual conformism" all part of France's grand "Republican pact"). "Does freedom in general, today consist of us all helping the police hunt down a few dozen fascist brigands; universalised grassing on dodgy types with their beards and veils; and constantly casting a suspicious gaze toward the banlieues, heirs to the faubourgs where the Communards were slaughtered." Keeping my eyes out for a similar analysis of the latest Paris attacks.

Agata Pyzik - In Praise of Vulgar Feminism

Poor But Sexy author Agata Pyzik assesses Courtney Love and Kim Gordon (the former often disparaged in the latter's recent memoir) and offers a well judged takedown of prescriptive forms of 'acceptable' (indeed, bourgeois) feminist modes (Gordon's) in favour of Love's exhibitionistic but vulnerable dualism: "Problematic, unstable, what she did for her disenfranchised fans to help them accept themselves, matters more." That shouldnt have led us to Lana del Ray's cartoonish projections but the times are what they are.

Joe Kennedy - 'Romantic and Earnest, Laced with Irony' (via A Drawing Sympathy)

In our current culture of disavowal (well that is one thread), where no one claims to be a hipster but actually might tick many of the signifiers, Joe gets closer than most to nailing what our modern hipster is - and isn't - and the maddening portrayal of said archtype in the 'cultural arms of neoliberalism' such as Time Out: "The trick is to give these visual signifiers some behavioural characteristics which don't really match, to overlay them with Nathan Barley-style flippancy and 'postmodern irony' and all of that stuff, which only exists in the vaguest of ways." The UK's prized entrepreneurial culture has certainly got better at selling cool. The 'hipster' entered play when things that did not use to be regarded as to die for - food, coffee (all the fucking coffee), the provenance of the hops in your beer, vintarge clothing, 'urban' living - came to seem more important than nailing your colours to the mast of the latest to-die youth culture. To be up with all these things (no matter how ambivalently you present your attitude to it) is enough to make you a 'hipster'. A useful primer when your mates are deriding your visit to Champion Hill to see the Hamlet.

Hatful of History - the Battle of Lewisham

Shortish analysis of the infamous anti-fascist/NF/police contretemps from the point of view of leftwing political organisation, where the CPGB was seen to demur from taking on fascism and racism even as the NF was taking to the streets, leaving the SWP - as well as Asian youth movements - to lead operations in the late 70s and early 80s.

Carl Neville - English Fields via Up Close and Personal

Carl gets to grips with Ben Wheatley's Kill List, the 'first great film of Austerity Britain' showing us that the English have taken a 'blood oath' to 'uncertain forces' (capitalism), and the 'long struggle for {personal} liberation" in A Field in England. After a process of 'comradisation', the true treasure is a masterless personal freedom. But then how will that intersect with the land and property?

Annie Goh/Alexander G Weheliye - 'White Brothers with No Soul' via CTM Festival

AN important look at the racial politics of Berlin techno and how in the aftermath of reunification the black cultures that fed into the genre (some physically such as discos for GIs in the 80s, some sonically such as the way the funkier Underground Resistance records were ditched for the stompers) were progressively whited out. All this took place in an environment where racial attacks were on the rise but swept under the carpet of the reunification narrative. Prof Weheliye says this process was so effectively carried out that many of his white American students are surprised to learn that techno originated in Detroit.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Fucking amateurs

Patrick Marber’s The Red Lion ably shows how we can fuck things up we hold dearest, even football. Daniel Mays ‘plays a blinder’ as Tim Sherwood-esque manager Jimmy Kidd, a ducker and diver, a force of nature with a theory or five about the game and a man with little self-deprecation and no good way of maintaining his life outside of it. Kidd uses football to cook up schemes to keep his head above water. The other two do good turns too – Calvin Demba as the talented but fatally dissembling young player Jordan, and Peter Wright the loyal clubman and former pro Johnny Yates who just wants to stay involved in the game. It’s an expert evocation of the non-league milieu.

The amateur club is at various stages seen as a subversive force (‘it’s a pirate ship here’), the means of escape for a working class lad (‘the state isn’t your mate’), or a typically English idyll that sometimes takes Mays and Wright's lines off into Rylance-like Jerusalem territory. A slice of This Is England – if you must. More than once is the team bearing the red lion’s badge described as playing on that ‘beautiful green meadow’. Once you’re inside, anything is possible – ‘A collusion of people wanting to make it happen, makes it happen’ – or you can just use it as your local.

But it’s the pressure of that cliquey club culture and the possibly dubious notion of the club as a site of almost utopian qualities that generates the drama. The mantra of What Goes On In the Dressing Room Stays in the Dressing Room is impossible to maintain as manager and kitman both aim to strike a deal with the young talent in the hope of getting a cut (in Jimmy’s case financial, in Johnny’s reputational) from his inevitable sale, and so maintain the cycle. Even for the loyal kitman, ‘the club’ was not his number one priority despite their protestations to the contrary, while the Sherwoodesque gaffer howls ‘It’s not a bung, it’s football’.

All this comes to naught as they find out what we already knew, that’s he been injecting himself with painkillers just to keep playing (‘the sleeping giant’ club he was having a trial at quickly found this out), an inquiry is launched, the manager is sacked, the coach leaves, the promotion push grinds to a halt and the good times come to a cataclysmic end – just like they do at many a club up and down the land. But nowhere else to go, still we/they turn up.

As excessive ticket prices, FIFA bribe culture and the increasingly banal spectacle of Bayern Madridalona turn people away from the game’s top tiers, this is a timely reminder that even in the non league game there is still corruption, still people on the make, still people who won’t pay wages the right way when an off balance sheet shifty transaction will do. Marber, 90s Morris collaborator and creator of hit plays Dealer’s Choice and Closer, is on the board at Lewes and has maybe uncovered more about the workings of the game near the top end of the amateur pyramid than he wanted to see.

So a very decent production that should get a west end or regional revival in the not too distant future. A final world for the crowd – I was chuffed to have finally made it to the National’s Dorfman Theatre on its penultimate night, but no 'football people' could be found in the audience. This is not surprising in itself, it’s a play at a bourgeois institution, but if they wanted a football fix these bankers, high rollers and cultural cognoscenti would ironically have been more at home at a hospitality box in the Emirates than here.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A fierce experience at the factory-cathedral

My father-in-law took us to Essex University in the summer. We had dinner in the extended Wivenhouse House but then took time to wander past the lakes and onto the campus, just a little over 50 years old. I am glad we did as my cameraphone was immediately out and my mind thrown back to my days (now more than 20 years back) at Leeds - not a campus university itself but an institution whose geography was transformed by the Brutalist experiments of Chamberlin Powell and Bon. Even with only the odd out-of-season overseas student passing by, you could feel the energy such a place could have generated among the student tumult of the 60s and 70s. Indeed, Essex University acknowledged this with their 'Something Fierce' exhibition last year on the vision of Albert Sloman and the work of Kenneth Capon at the Architects’ Co-Partnership. Many students turning up at their various institutions of higher education these last few weeks will face far less confrontational and much more consumerist styles of architecture than these; more's the pity.

Like any of these developments, creeping commerce and HSE notices blight many a sightline and there's now a bland sub-Guggenheim Bilbao lecture theatre in the mix (the Ivor Crewe) but it was still a joy to be thrown back to this kind of complete concrete environment, having spent long months wondering in Leeds' Edward Boyle library and Roger Stevens lecture theatre and wandering the staircases of the EC Stoner building (luckily I missed this terrible tack-on).

A few campus pics of my own plus a few stolen ones of the choice Leeds ones follow, including the demolished Brunswick building down the road at the Poly. Just like something off a 90s Warp compilation.

Sloman Library x 3

Student upheaval: 'Danger - Falling ideologies'
I hate it when they try to pastoralise this stuff.
The new Siberrad building seems more sympathetic to the 60s campus style, and its front columns have been built to generate superb echoes.
Back to Leeds, here's their Brutalist big four.
Further reading: Owen Hatherley in Dezeen

The Particulations on Leeds University's Brutalist spaces (scroll down for further articles)

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