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So, not very long ago, an artist named Gotye released this song:

And it's good. It's catchy, the video is interesting, and it's a strong song.

Then the internet kicks in. If you youtube for Gotye and 'somebody that I used to know' there's a whole heap of remixes and covers. This is one of my favourites.

All the remixes happened quickly - people grabbed the original, ripped it apart, reshot it, remixed it, retasted it.

And then, Gotye, rather than complaining about what had been done to his song, did this:

Note, especially, the long list of credits on his website, and his attitude here:

Reluctant as I am to add to the mountain of interpretations of Somebody That I Used To Know seemingly taking over their own area of the internet, I couldn't resist the massive remixability that such a large, varied yet connected bundle of source material offered.

I was directly inspired here by Kutiman's Thru-You project:


Wonderful stuff!

Thankyou to everyone who has responded to Somebody That I Used To Know via YouTube. It's truly amazing!

An artist to watch, I think.
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My niece reads as voraciously as I do. Those of you who have been to my house know what that means. So for a couple of years, I bought her the Swallows and Amazons hardbacks - a couple for birthdays, a few for Christmas. Even when she was desperate to find out what happened next, and her Mum said that she could go and buy the books with her own money, she didn't want to. Those were the books that I bought her, and this was a thing between us.

So you can imagine when I bought the last one for her, I knew I had a hard act to follow.

Come last April, I looked around the books that I thought she'd like, and that would mean something to her. And I found the 'Hunger Games' trilogy - strong female protagonist, sci fi, exciting. Perfect. But one of the reviews made me pause - I hadn't read the books and my niece is young for her age. So I ordered them for me and read them first; if they were great and appropriate, I'd buy my niece her own set. If they were either rubbish or not appropriate, then I wouldn't.


The books are fantastic.

There's no way I want my 13 year old niece reading them. Not yet.

So you can imagine when I saw that a film was being made, I was slightly concerned. Even more so when I saw that it was going to get a 12A certificate.

I went to see it tonight.

It's everything that the books are; dark, melancholic, disturbing. It's a great film - it's a long time since a film has put my heart in my mouth for me and it happened several times tonight. The cuts they make to the book all make sense, and are few and far between.

It's a powerful story. And it's one I'll watch again. But not one that I'd suggest to my sister for my niece. Not just yet.

Even before I'd seen the film though, I'd heard ... not the soundtrack. I don't know if this is common but alongside the soundtrack album, there's this one - - The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond. As best I can tell, these are largely songs that fit the theme, or that have been written to complement the film - certainly the lyrics in many cases are too apposite to not reflect the story.

And it's just beautiful.

I've been listening to it on repeat pretty much for the last week or so, and there's one track in particular that I've played over and over - I might as well, because when I'm not, I still hear the chorus. Friends call this an earworm. When you have a track that you just can't get out of your head. There's a way out - you need an emergency backup track that's even more tenacious, to drive the earworm out.

But I don't want this one to go, not yet.

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There's a 2 part programme that the BBC made called 'Queens of British Pop' - celebrating some of the best female pop artists of the last 30 years. Part 2 is very good - Annie Lennox, Alison Moyet, Kylie Minogue, Geri Halliwell, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis all feature and the programme investigates the impact that they've all had (even if somewhat hyperbolically in Lewis's case).

Disappointment number 1 is that I can't find part one on iPlayer. Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw, Marianne Faithfull, Suzi Quatro, Siouxsie Sioux and Kate Bush. Now, that's a lineup.

But, okay, said I. There's a series of video clips from the first episode on the website linked above. I'll flick through those in lieu of seeing the full programme.

Here's the second disappointment.

6 snippets about Kate Bush. One of her singing Wuthering Heights. Snippets from John Lydon, Del Palmer (her ex), Peter Gabriel, Mark Radcliffe and Anthony Van Laast (a choreographer).

See what's missing?

I'm not suggesting that only women can comment on women singers. But I'm somewhat disappointed that they couldn't (or more likely wouldn't) find one female voice who could comment on Kate's impact.
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It's the 5 question thing all over again - [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula asked, and I answer:

1. What will you be like at fifty?

I honestly have no idea - if you'd asked me at the age of 30 what I was going to be like at 40 I'd have been wrong in almost every aspect so I'm loathe to put up too many hostages to fortune. But that's not really in the spirit of the meme, so here's some guesses.

I think there's a more than reasonable chance I'll still be single, or that there won't be one committed relationship. The longer I remain single, the more comfortable I become with that idea. I'll still be in London, and there's a reasonably good chance I'll be in the same job, or at least, with the same organisation. Probably still enjoying it.

What will I be like? More content than happy. More relaxed than angry. More calm than alone. More experienced and less bothered about what people think.

2. You can make one permanent change/enhancement to London. What would it be?

A complete smoking ban in all public places. I've yet to meet a considerate smoker so bollocks to the lot of them. Cigarette butts are the piece of litter I see most on the streets because the fuckers can't be bothered to tidy up after themselves.

3. You can go back in time to any point in your life and either say or unsay something to someone. What would it be?

"I guess I wasn't meant to see that post".

4. You have to live for three months in a country that isn't in Europe (I mean actual Europe, not the EU). Which one would you choose?

Assuming I could get over my crippling monolingualism, Japan. Specifically Kyoto if I get the choice. It's just beautiful there, and I'd happily spend more time there.
If I can't magically learn another language, the USA. I've seen the tiniest part of it (New York, New England and Boston) and there's a massive amount of it I still want to see. I think 3 months would be my limit though because the stories I've heard of health insurance woes over there scare me witless.

5. You can have a brief romance with anyone living or dead, fictional or real. Who would it be and why?

That answer changes day by day. At the moment, Björk, mainly because I've been listening to a track of hers called "Vökuró" from Medúlla, which reminds me very much of 'The Summer Book' and 'The Winter Book' by Tove Jansson. There's something about gentle melancholy which appeals, especially with the heat of summer upon us. And it's very different from much of her music, and seeing an unexpected side to someone you think you know well is attractive to.
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I've been listening to a beat-boxer called Dub-FX for a while - he's got a fantastic ability to create sounds, loop them together, weave and dip and duck through harmonies and stories, all created by his voice. He's a positive singer too - the sort of performer I'd love to see at Whirl-y-gig or Planet Angel.

Anyway - in the video above, he introduces Flower Fairy, his fiancé, who sells CDs while he performs. She also sings, and has just released an album called 'Nursery Grimes' - a series of songs for children, with dance music production values. It's really rather charming - [livejournal.com profile] xullrae and [livejournal.com profile] hepster - I really think you might like it.

You can listen to the whole album here (and I'm going to be buying a copy for my sister and her kids shortly.

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I spent much of my 30s clubbing, as many of you know. It was the way that I kept in touch with a lot of people, and the friendships I forged during that time are durable ones. All in all, it was very good for me. The first half of the decade I was attending clubs, partying away and having fun, and the second half I was more and more involved with helping to run one particular club. But even when I worked at Planet Angel, it was always Front of House, or event management. I never performed, never felt the need to get up in front of people. I never wanted to be a DJ.

Well, except once.

It's not surprising, really - my lack of desire to DJ. Firstly, I don't love dance music. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy listening to it in the right circumstances, and I appreciate the effort that DJs put in to choose just the right track for the dancefloor. I love the control that a DJ has - especially with Trance - where they can beatmatch tracks together seamlessly, moving from one song to another without a pause, raising and lowering the energy levels in a room, dragging the dancers along on a journey that won't let go of them. Trace, especially, is about guiding that journey, not interrupting it.

So I like dance music. But I don't love it. Even after all the clubs I've been to, I could probably identify a score of dance tracks. I don't listen to dance music the way that many of my friends do - it blends into one and I dance on, my inner shaman taking control.

That's the second reason. My friends. I'm lucky to know a lot of very good DJs, capable of playing a wide number of genres. They're able to read a room, surprise people, make them laugh with recognition or just grin in exultation, smiles bouncing off the walls with the strobe lights. A little while ago I was able to name 20 friends who are professional (as in, have been paid to play) DJs.

But there was once.

It was at Planet Angel, and it must have been 5 years ago. I was partying, and in the Meltdown Room, where the music tended to be Trance; four to the floor, constant, uplifting. Bright lights and neon clothing and smiles of recognition, welcome and friendship. One of my favourite dancefloors. Jurrane was about to go on - one of the Planet Angel resident DJs, and a lovely bloke. And just before he started playing, I bumped into him, and he said "I've got such a track to play tonight. I've really been looking forward to it!". And I smiled, and hugged him, and said that I hoped I'd recognise it.

"Oh", he said, "You'll know."

So time passed, and he took the decks, and for 30 minutes he seamlessly wove different tracks together. And I got lost in the moment and forgot what he'd said.

And then there was a second of silence.

You don't have silence in a trance room. Not intentionally. It breaks the rhythm, stops the flow. It brings people back from wherever they were.

Silence usually means something has gone wrong. Either the equipment has failed, or the DJ has just pressed the eject button instead of play and is currently trying to find the CD they've just spat onto the floor.

So the instance I heard silence, I looked at the DJ booth. What was wrong? Where was the problem?

And I saw Jurrane with the biggest grin on his face that I'd ever seen.

Bomm Bomm
Chik ... Chikka Chikka ....

It's a cliche to say that the room exploded; I know. But everyone had heard the pause. Everyone had stopped and was just working out that the music wasn't there when Yello's Oh, Yeah started. Some dance remix of it, of course; not the original. But that clip - as the friend who made me remember this today said - are there many tracks you can identify from so few words? - that clip had the room in an uproar.

It was a masterly performance - the pause, the fact that the 'Bomm Bomm' isn't until about 40 seconds into the track but it's the most identifiable bit so that's what got played.

The grin.

Jurrane knew. He knew we'd think he'd made a mistake. He knew that we'd instantly recognise the track. He knew we'd laugh out loud, bounce like furies and grin at everyone else in the room.

He knew, and when I saw that grin, I knew that he knew.

And that grin - despite my lack of musical talent. Despite my ignorance of dance music. Despite my complete lack of desire to perform.

That grin made me want to be a DJ. Just for a moment.
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A Python script which takes any audio file and creates a swing version of it.

Go have a listen - it's great fun :-)

6 Music

Mar. 2nd, 2010 03:39 pm
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If you like 6 Music and you want to keep it, fill out the consultation on the link above. You can join as many Facebook groups as you want and sign all the online petitions you like and that's okay - they're good for getting the word out that something needs to be done.

But the something in this case is responding to the BBC consultation. That's the link above.
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I found a new feature of my phone yesterday; one that a cursory google tells me is completely undocumented.

iTunes has a feature called 'Genius' which allows it to suggest music that you might like based on a tune you've selected. Highlight a song in your library, click the Genius button and it builds a playlist of 25 / 50 / 100 songs that are 'similar' to that song.* (I don't know if it's doing 'similar' in the same way as Pandora - analysing the tune, or as Last.FM - looking at other songs that people who like your track like, though my gut is that it's more like Last.FM ...)

This feature has been part of iTunes for a while now, and you've been able to set up Genius playlists and transfer them to your phone when you sync - set some parameters (I have an Electronica one, for example, which will look at all of the songs of that ilk on my phone and choose a selection) and go.

But my phone also has voice control - very useful when I'm listening to music and my phone is buried in my pocket to be able to press a button on the microphone and say 'Call Tim'. You can also say 'Play [playlist]' or 'Play [artist]' and so on.

Yesterday I found out that if I activate voice control and say 'Genius this' when I'm listening to a particular track, my phone will create a 25 song playlist based on the track I'm listening to at the time, and start playing it.

I'm inordinately pleased with this.

*This process involves sending details of your music library to Apple. It's opt in, but don't do it if you're unhappy that Steve Jobs will then know of your deep and abiding love for Rick Astley.
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An interesting experience on the way into work, courtesy of Mr. Jobs - having an accidental playlist mixing the soundtracks to 'Oh Brother, where art thou?' and 'True Blood' makes for some very interesting pictures in my head. Especially seguing from 'Keep On The Sunny Side' to 'Bleed 2 Feed' and then into 'The Big Rock Candy Mountain'.

The cool thing is that the tracks do actually fit together well - in my (admittedly small) experience of American country music, Louisiana Bayou and Bluegrass seem to be quite natural partners.

More reading - I have a funny feeling that the majority of updates on this journal this year might be book reviews:

#7 The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K LeGuin.  Shockingly, I've only just got around to reading this - it's in the 'Masterpieces of Science Fiction' collection for very good reason. Imagine being someone who knows that certain dreams they have will come true, even if the universe has to re-write itself to make them true? Then imagine that someone else finds out how to control your dreams. LeGuin is always a strong writer, but this is stunning stuff about the nature of shared realities.

#8 Cobra Trap by Peter O'Donnell - the last short stories that O'Donnell wrote about Modesty Blaise, one of my favourite fictional heroes. She's always been timeless, and this collection shows her off at her best. Probably not a good introduction to the character, but definitely a good finish.

#9 The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within by Edward Tufte. Tufte hates Powerpoint, and this short book explains why. His main dislike of it is how it is used in inappropriate places and how that causes problems - up to and including the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster in 2003. Tufte is worth reading, especially if you're into doing more scientific / data heavy presentations.
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I have work I should be doing; this of course explains why I'm reading through Livejournal posts instead. But it's been good for me - 2008 was in many ways a year of stasis - I don't feel that I achieved a lot. 2009 has been much better, in oh so many ways.

So, in no particular order, here are the high-points of my year, presented as a playlist.

1. Cabaret - Natasha Richardson
2. Gabriel - Lamb
3. Allelujah - Fairground Attraction
4. Glass - Bat for Lashes
5. Jet Lag - Frank Turner
6. Ampersand - Amanda Palmer
7. Music for a Found Harmonium - Penguin Cafe Orchestra
8. Mr. Brightside - The Killers
9. The Water is Wide - Cowboy Junkies
10. White Wine in the Sun - Tim Minchin
11. Home for a Rest - Spirit of the West
12. Knights of Cydonia - Muse
13. Tubular Bass - Cellardore
14. Adagio for Strings - William Orbit (Ferry Corstin remix)
15. Gorecki - Lamb
16. To Take You Home - Frank Turner

And you can listen to most of that at Spotify if you'd like :-)

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What would you get if you analysed the connections between artists on Last.FM and drew them as a map?

This is the cloud view - click through for larger versions, annotated versions, and a zoomable / searchable map.

Each colour represents a different genre of music.
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#4598 in the list of Reasons Why I Love The Internet.
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It's always a strange thing when a sound from outside merges perfectly with the music you're playing; it's that feeling I get sometimes (do you too?) of being on a film set. It's called diegetic music if the characters in the film are causing or able to percieve the soundtrack; the sort of shot where someone switches on a CD player and the music swells out of scene and then changes in tone and tenor to be part of the soundtrack - apparently that's then extra-diegetic.

So many words, so little time. I sometimes feel like Delirium, when she asks her elder brother "what's the word for that?" except that instead of Morpheus, I have Google - I think the answers are suitably gnomic either way.

Police sirens seem to merge best; perhaps that says more about the sort of music I listen to? Currently it's a drum and bass remix of Tubular Bells by one of the Planet Angel DJs that's causing me to connect the world up in strange ways; that, a police siren and the sound of the rain on the window are, quite frankly, making pictures on the insides of my eyelids that I've rarely seen without walking in slow motion at a club at 4am.

Shame I'm supposed to be at work both physically and mentally.

Of course, the reverse also causes problems; there's a Black Eye Peas track that has, for some reason I can't fathom, a UK police car siren as part of the soundscape; it's caused me to slow down and look around when I've been driving and that's come onto the stereo.

Livejournal, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn't have a Current Mood: Diegetic as a default choice.

Perhaps I should ask them to add it?
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Amused by the news that not only will the X Factor's Alexa be at number 1 in the Christmas Top Ten with her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", but that there's a more than reasonable chance that Jeff Buckley will make it to number 2 with his cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I feel that there's only one possible response.

I've just bought a copy of Leonard Cohen's version of "Hallelujah" from iTunes. Partially because I don't think I have a copy, and partially because I think it would be tremendously amusing if the same song was in the first three positions in the chart.

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just how marvellous this programme was:


That's part 1 (of 6) of the 'Faking It' episode, where Sian Evans, a 22 year old cellist, successfully faked it as a Hard House DJ. You can watch the following parts from the YouTube website.

It's just lovely.
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Ray Charles, singing "It's not easy being green".

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Last week I posted somewhat cryptically about seeing Neil Gaiman singing backup vocals and playing tambourine. It was for Amanda Palmer, who was playing at Koko.

Anyway, he's worked with her on her new album (Amanda Palmer Is Dead) and written a song that she performs as part of her live show.

It's called "I google you" and it's great. (The link is to a YouTube video - the video quality isn't great, but the sound is, and it's worth it for her explanatio before the song)


Edit to add: And of course, with the miracle of YouTube, if you'd like to see Neil Gaiman looking incredibly uncomfortable, the video is here.
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Whilst writing course materials, I had cause to visit the website of the College of Arms; that body within England, Wales and Northern Ireland responsible for registering and recording coats of arms and pedigrees. I was wryly amused to find George Martin's coat of arms; I think it requires a better knowledge of the British music industry than I have to get all the jokes and references he's managed to put in it.

But I believe I'm right in thinking that 'Amore Solum Opus Est' roughly translates as 'All you need is Love'?

The image is huge, so I won't link to it - you can see it by going to the above link.
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It seems like a while since I've written about Planet Angel; the downside of working at the club, I guess. The trials and tribulations of putting on a good night tend to disappear as the party unfolds, and I tend not to want to dwell on any minor niggles anyway, because generally, I'm talking to people who've been there, and who've had a good time. And that, at the end of the day, is what matters.

But September's party was a blinder.

From a personal point of view, there were a load of people there that I have a great deal of time for, and while it wasn't everyone's cup of tea, it was really lovely to see them there. There were celebrations and re-unions, and lots and lots of smiles.

The music was what really did it for me, though. We've switched the rooms around, so the trance is now getting played in a lighter, more friendly room, and the breaks and beats are going on in the larger but darker, more introspective room. And it's worked marvels. It's really changed the vibe in both rooms in well received ways.  And the DJ lineup in the trance room was one DJ short of my ideal lineup. During my breaks through the night, I kept finding myself back in the trance room, dancing instead of resting and conserving my energy to carry on working through the night. But last Friday my inner shaman was close to the surface, and kept pushing down into my feet, and I'd find myself standing on the stairs watching the dancefloor and then starting to move a little, and then, 5 or 10 minutes later, remembering that I had work to do and moving on with a grin on my face and rhythym in my step.

It helped that I'd dressed up - my red velvet frock coat, a tricorn hat and big goth boots - a cyber pirate in honour of International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Infest reminded me that I like dressing up to go out; another downside of working at a club is that it's easy to dress practically and comfortably. Friday proved that I can dress up and still do my job well. And the frock coat makes me swagger,  as it's designed to, really.

Good friends, good music, good clothes. How could I not have a great time?

For those of you that were there; thank you for being part of what is being generally agreed is one of the best parties we've put on in a long while. For those I got to meet and talk to later in the weekend, I hope you had a great time; I certainly did.

The next PA I'm working, but I'm hoping to be partying at the November one. I hope I'll see some of you there.

Incidentally; photos are now up on the PA website - some familiar faces there ....

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