E2-E4 (Manuel Gottsching)

Berlin-born Manuel Göttsching lead Pink Floydian space rock outfit Ashra Ra Tempel for much of the seventies, before junking prog and becoming a pioneering bright spark of then-nascent electronica. 1984’s E2-E4 was seminal, vital to the later evolution of dance and techno. It’s an hour long and sounds like the work of an electro-pop Steve Reich, motored by an ascending-descending synth motif with the Krautwork insistence of a BMW down the Autobahn – a single thread of continuity running from start to end, while the rest of the soundscape morphs and splits and coagulates again like the globules in a lava lamp. Then Göttsching enters with his guitar, lacing pearly, bell-like notes over that shifting musical foundation. He summons fiddly motifs, stretching, teasing, experimenting with them for a while before letting them go and moving on to something else, stumbling across new ones and incorporating them into the hypnotic groove. Assuming that few people will have the time or the inclination to sit and bathe themselves in sixty minutes of electronica, what we’re showcasing here is a fairly random slice of the piece that, hopefully, might encourage people to dig out the whole recording.

And here’s the whole thing:


“No Money Left” Says BBC

George Osborne and Ed Balls
George Osborne and Ed Balls

During a recent news item on George Osborne’s budget, a chirpy BBC correspondent did one of those smug pieces to camera about the ‘challenges’ facing the Chancellor and his Labour opposite number in the run-up to next year’s general election.

The biggest of all, Mr Reporter glibly declared, was they had to try and win over sceptical voters without being able to give them anything in return. Tax cuts, more health and education spending – they were all out of the question, because, broadcaster man stated like it was the most obvious thing in the world, ‘there’s no money left for big giveaways’.

It’s the message you get from practically all telly pundits nowadays. They blankly trot out the Coalition’s economic narrative as if it’s indisputable truth. Worryingly many probably believe it themselves. After all, it’s the line taken by governments all over the world, and if enough important-looking people in suits say something often enough, it’s quite easy to be duped into thinking it’s true if you’re not an especially questioning human being. Continue reading ““No Money Left” Says BBC”

Consuming Cornwall: Pasties, poverty, economics beyond growth

Lovely Cornwall

Pasties, poverty, economics beyond growth

Cornwall is one of the nicest places in the world. It’s not only often spellbindingly beautiful, friendly, enigmatically Celtic and unusually progressive for provincial England, it invented the greatest pastry product in human history, the meat-and-potato-based colossus that is the Cornish pasty. It’s a culinary legacy that will live on long after the county gets swallowed by the rising Atlantic and its bakeries are only frequented by pilchards and deep-sea divers.

Upsettingly, though, Cornwall is also the poorest place in the UK. When people talk about the North/South divide, it’s fairly insulting to the perennially neglected West Country. The popular perception that there’s nothing but cows, fields and rich shire Tories south-west of Bristol is only almost completely accurate. At Parliamentary and local government level, at least – as if that’s an accurate representation of diverse local opinion under an electoral system as dismal as First Past The Post – it is mostly Blue, although the still-lingering Paddy Ashdown effect means there are patches of Yellow left over from when the then-Lib Dem leader was MP for Yeovil. It is, pretty indisputably, very rural too. But rural doesn’t always have to mean rich and agricultural. Continue reading “Consuming Cornwall: Pasties, poverty, economics beyond growth”

Abolishing Oxbridge with Owen Jones


The Bemolution recently stumbled across this old article by consistently excellent Owen Jones that calls for the abolition of Oxbridge. To step out of character for a minute, my own experiences as a state-educated hick somehow ending up at Cambridge lead me to the exact same conclusion.

Oxford and Cambridge are archaic little crevices in which privilege, self-assumed superiority and detachment from reality are allowed to fester. Toppling Oxbridge wouldn’t eradicate the inequality that’s already unacceptably massive and still growing, but it would be a vital part of any serious egalitarian advance on all fronts.

That said, I think Jones is actually too generous about Oxbridge in his piece. There is absolutely no doubt that Oxbridge educations are of a very high standard. But I think it’s a mistake to assume – as so many do – that this is the result of its all-surpassing teaching methods, world-beating curriculums, or something inherently superior about its olde-worlde aesthetic, ethos, and general outlook. Continue reading “Abolishing Oxbridge with Owen Jones”

I Zimbra (Talking Heads)

More Talking Heads from Rome, 1980, because it’s one of the greatest videoed live performances we’ve ever seen.

For some annoying reason, if you want to actually watch the video bit of a WordPress-embedded YouTube video rather just hear the audio, you have to either watch it fullscreen or click to watch it on YouTube itself.