Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Octopus Linguine

-Octopus in Spicy Sauce (from Fenwick deli counter, Newcastle)
-Seggiano Olive Tomato sauce
-La Molisana Linguine
-Very Lazy Red Chillies
-Black pepper.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

7thSun Live at the HMRC Xmas Party, Madisons Bar, 10/12/2011

01. Into the Starscape
02. Psychic Hitlist Victim No. 8/ The Locomotion
[Honolulu Mountain Daffodils/ Little Eva]
03. Pulse
04. Whole Wide World [Wreckless Eric]
05. Silent Night [Franz Xaver Gruber]
06. Mandragora
07. Little Red Corvette [Prince].

Thanks to Jan for hiring us, and thanks to the audience for not throwing bottles.

A special thank you to John McKechnie who lent us two of the amps that we used.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Review: A Double Dose of Dickens

‘The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby’, Part 1 and Part 2 at The People's Theatre, Heaton.
Written by David Edgar.
Adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens.

This adaptation of Dickens’ third novel is one of the People’s most ambitious undertakings to date, selected for the theatre’s centenary programme and performed in two separate parts. ‘Nickleby’ contains many key themes present in earlier and later Dickens works: social injustice, families falling on hard times, and the machinations of those who manipulate the institutional apparatus for their own ends. It also contains typical Dickensian humour, and Nicholas’ involvement with Crummles’ acting troupe makes the novel an interesting candidate for dramatic adaptation.

Upon entering the auditorium, the audience were confronted by a stark but effective two-storey set which was then brought to life by subtle lighting, evoking the numerous environments. The directors’ attention to detail led to some nice touches: a handful of dust denoting falling snow, for example, and the tapping of a cane providing the sound of a spinning roulette wheel.

The cast all gave an excellent performance. Pat Haggerty was quite incredible as both the warm-hearted LaCreevy and malevolent Peg, and Michael Short gave a terrifically nuanced performance as Nicholas’ corrupt Uncle Ralph. Sam Hinton worked very hard as Nicholas, injecting humour and warmth into Dickens’ titular focalizer.

Michael Blair was fantastic as the stern but kind-hearted John Browdie, and Sean Burnside was very effective as the downtrodden Smike: his death was a genuinely moving moment of the more sombre second half.

Every Dickens story has its memorable villains, and this production benefitted greatly from Paul Carding and Maggie Childs’ suitably grotesque Mr. and Mrs. Squeers of Dotheboys Hall.

John MacDonald was terrific throughout, contributing trombone and accordion to the musical accompaniment, as well as giving fantastic turns as the covetous Arthur Gride and eccentric Crummles.

Due to the adaptation’s faithfulness to the novel, all of the actors were required to play multiple parts (for example, Jake Wilson Craw played characters as diverse as Belling, Colonel Chowser and Crummles’ horse). Above all, the cast gave an excellent ensemble performance. One highlight was the crowd scene where Nicholas walks the streets of London after learning of Madeline’s engagement to Gride and he joins the oppressed masses in lamentation.

At a combined length of five and a half hours, the play is a challenge for the audience as well as for the cast – but one well worth undertaking. All cast and crew deserve great credit for tackling a play seldom performed by professional companies and for making it so entertaining.

After a break of two days, ‘The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby’ will run again from Tuesday 18/10 until Saturday 22/10. Part 1 will be performed on Tuesday and Thursday night and Saturday afternoon, whereas Part 2 will be performed on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. Customers buying tickets for both parts will receive a discount; visit

Monday, 10 October 2011

Tusk Festival, Newcastle, 7th-9th October 2011

I went along to the first two nights of the Tusk Festival at The Cluny this weekend.

The first band I saw on Friday were Pigeons, whose songs veered from more traditional folky structures to free form psychedelic madness - with bells.

Next came Vincent Epplay and Samon Takahashi with their 'ungovernable' synths.

Drawing the biggest crowd on Friday was Grouper. It's a shame that she didn't sing a bit more, but her masterful way of merging performances together with samples and drones was still mesmerising.

The Long Lonesome Go kicked things off on Saturday Night with some inspired improvosition. You can download their music for free from their website.

The last act I caught on Saturday was Pulse Emitter, whose homemade synth wizardry brought the festival to a close for me.

I really enjoyed this festival, and will be keeping an eye out for future Tusk events. The shows were excellent value, and the programme featured an eclectic mix of international acts.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review: 'Nickel and Dimed' by Barbara Ehrenreich

Author and columnist Barbara Ehrenreich went 'undercover in low-wage USA' to experience firsthand the trials faced by low-paid workers in the United States and to address the question 'How does anyone live on the wages available to the unskilled?'. Editing out large chunks of her CV but otherwise maintaining her status as a 'divorced homemaker', Ehrenreich lived in Florida, Maine and Minnesota, working as a waitress, a house cleaner, a care home worker and a sales assistant at Wal-Mart.

Ehrenreich kept her car for transport and laptop for writing; she gave herself some start-up money, but was otherwise very disciplined at attempting to live on the wages she received. While applying for jobs, she had to take demeaning personality-testing surveys containing questions such as 'Am I more or less likely than other people to get into fistfights?' and 'Are there situations in which dealing cocaine is not a crime?'

In addition, Ehrenreich had to undergo the indignity of urine testing for signs of drug use, a practice that (despite common claims to the contrary) 'does not lower absenteeism, accidents or turnover and... actually lowered productivity - presumably due to its negative effect on employee morale'. Cannabis (which stays in the system much longer than cocaine or heroin) is screened for, while LSD is not. The practice cost the federal government $11.7 million dollars in 1990, with only 153 of 29,000 subjects testing positive. Despite all this emphasis on pre-employment urination, we learn that there was no federally mandated right to toilet breaks until 1998.

During her induction at Wal-Mart, employees are discouraged from 'time theft': 'Doing anything other than working during company time, anything at all'. They are also strongly discouraged from joining unions. Ehrenreich later sees a commercial for the chain on TV while taking a break: 'When a Wal-Mart shows up within a television within a Wal-Mart, you have to question the existence of an outer-world'.

Her shifts and those of her co-workers commonly exceed the official running times, despite the fact that it is illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act not to pay time and a half for working hours exceeding 40 a week. Legal cases in four states have revealed Wal-Mart management's practice of erasing overtime from records and instead offering employees schedule changes or promotions. 'In the same spirit, automobile manufacturers would rather offer their customers cash rebates than reduced prices; the advantage of the rebate is that it seems like a gift and can be withdrawn without explanation'.

Ehrenreich writes with candour and honesty, admitting the bad decisions she made along the way and the fact that she found some tasks genuinely challenging, mentally as well as physically: 'no job, no matter how lowly, is truly "unskilled"'. She befriends some of her co-workers and finds them no less diverse and interesting than members of her normal social circle, although there is little time for socialising: rather, friendship takes the form of consoling and/or covering for colleagues who are unwell and physically unable to complete their work. Ehrenreich herself develops a rash on her arms and legs while working as a cleaner but carries on, rather than facing the prospect of not being paid.

And so what are her conclusions? Well, Ehrenreich draws a parallel with the fact that rats and monkeys forced into subordinate positions within their social systems become withdrawn, anxious, receive less serotonin and 'avoid fighting even in self-defense'. The statement by HUD's Andrew Cuomo that prosperity in America is actually shrinking the stock of affordable housing leads her to conclude: 'The rich and the poor, who are generally thought to live in a state of harmonious interdependence - the one providing cheap labor, the other providing low-wage jobs - can no longer exist'.

Despite the disturbing (if not always surprising) nature of many of Ehrenreich's findings, she is confident that at some point in the future, the poor will tire of their lot and demand a better share of American wealth.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Pulse Emitter: 'Forest, Mountain, Valley'

Pulse Emitter is the ambient drone project of Daryl Groetsch from Portland, Oregon.

Pulse Emitter - Forest, Mountain, Valley
01. Forest
02. Mountain
03. Mountain (cont.)
04. Valley.

Pulse Emitter is playing at The Cluny in Newcastle as part of the Tusk Festival on Saturday 08/10.


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Night on Earth (1991)

Five cities. Five taxis. Directed by Jim Jarmusch.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Field Day Festival 2011

John Cale
Set list:
1. Captain Hook
2. Heartbreak Hotel
3. Hey Ray
4. Perfect
5. Jumbo
6. Sold-Motel
7. Catastrofuk
8. Whaddya Mean By That?
9. Satellite Walk.

We also saw Electrelane, Mark Kozelek and Sun Ra Arkestra. We missed Faust due to poor scheduling.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Field Day Festival

Field Day, Victoria Park, London. A week today. Featuring John Cale, Faust, Mark Kozelek and lots more.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review: 'Moondust' by Andrew Smith

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth
by Andrew Smith

‘Apollo… seems to me to be the most perfect imaginable expression, embodiment, symbol, of the twentieth century’s central contradiction: namely, that the more we put our faith in reason and its declared representatives, the more irrational our world became’.

First published in 2005, 'Moondust' arose from journalist Andrew Smith's realisation that now only nine of the twelve Apollo astronauts who walked on the surface of the Moon are still alive - and that one day in the not too distant future, there will be none.

'I wanted to know what kind of people they'd become and what they'd learned; how they felt about the weird trip now and whether they thought it had changed them. Even more than this, I wondered why I suddenly cared when I hadn't before'.

This last statement demonstrates what makes Smith's writing so accessible and enjoyable: his candid approach to the subject. His quest to track down and interview the remaining nine (and, in some cases, the harder task of getting them to speak freely of their experiences) is a personal one: Smith was born in America, watched the 1969 Moon landing on TV as a young child and was fully immersed in the contemporary pop culture. What relevance and influence did the Moon landings have on the world at that time? And what is their legacy?

And what of the astronauts? Smith finds that they are a refreshingly varied bunch of veterans who have pursued dramatically different lives. Neil Armstrong shuns publicity and prefers to discuss technical details of flight apparatus; Richard Gordon (one of the twelve who didn't get to walk on the Moon) signs autographs at Star Trek conventions; Edgar Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences and is '90% sure' that extraterrestrial life exists; Alan Bean became a painter (and seems to be the most content of all the astronauts). And as Gordon remarks, 'And then of course there's Buzz Aldrin'...

Eugene Cernan, last man on the Moon

'Moondust' is full of anecdotes and observations that are amusing and fascinating: the astronauts' children complaining of their fathers 'just' being astronauts because for them it was the norm; Charlie Duke's terrifying dream in which he and John Young met their doubles who had been on the Moon's surface for thousands of years; practicalities of going to the toilet in space; the startling fact that all twelve astronauts were either first born or only sons. Smith's book brims with such things, alongside his consideration of issues such as the lack of female Apollo astronauts, the political motivations that drove the programme, the reasonably common belief that the Moon landings never actually took place, and the arguments for and against returning.

I highly recommend this book to anybody who has an interest in the Moon landings or the era in which they happened. It is extremely well researched and engagingly written.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Terminal Man

George Segal stars as Harry Benson in Mike Hodges' 'The Terminal Man' (1974). Benson is a brilliant computer scientist who suffers from Acute Disinhibitory Lesion syndrome, which causes him to undergo violent seizures. A group of scientists attempt to control Benson's behaviour by implanting electrodes in his brain - with disastrous consequences.

'The Terminal Man' is a disquieting film, defined as much by its sombre mood and subtle characterisation as by its (somewhat dated) messages about mind control and scientific ambition. Recommended for its sustained tone and interesting visual style.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Clockwork Memories

Anthony Burgess' 'A Clockwork Orange' at The People's Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne, May 2011: from the rehearsal room to the stage.

Photographs by Dianne Edwards, Colin Cuthbert, Michael Blair, Leah Page, Tom Saunders and Jimmy Hutchinson.

Music: Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 (Allegro Con Brio).
Brahms - Tragic Overture.
Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 (Ode to Joy/Allegro Assai).

The play was directed by Tom Saunders and starred David Robson as Alex. Video editing by Jimmy Hutchinson.

Friday, 27 May 2011

All Night Holiday Fundraising Party

Totem Recall are one of the bands playing at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Byker tomorrow. I'm planning to be there. Totem are due to play at about 4.30 p.m.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

'Resignation' (Live)

Performed live in my bedroom. The track is available on the 7thSun compilation 'Fragments of Hope'.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Clockwork Orange at The People's Theatre


7thSun Live at Barkollo, 08/05/2011

01. Freedom3
02. Mandragora
03. pavement. rain. 4.29 am.
04. Pulse
05. Rust
06. Lunar Twin
07. Beyond the Headache Zone.

The performance featured projected video clips from the following sources:

-Planet Earth (David Attenborough, 2006)
-Images du Monde Visionnaire (Henry Micahux, 1964)
-Solyaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)
-Fire in the Sky (Robert Lieberman, 1993)
-The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicholas Roeg, 1973)
-Birdy (Alan Parker, 1984)
-The Trial (Orson Welles, 1962)
-Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (John S. Robertson, 1920)
-Communion (Philippe Mora, 1989)
-Escape from New York (John Carpenter, 1981)
-Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (Uli Edel, 1981)
-The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
-Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Werner Herzog, 1979)
-For All Mankind (Al Reinert, 1989).

Thanks again to the Barkollo staff and to the people who came to see us play.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A Clockwork Orange @ The People's Theatre

Showing from Tuesday 17th May to Saturday 21st May 2011 at the People's Theatre, Heaton, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Tickets are £10.50 (£8.50 concessions).

I am playing Pete the Droog and Big Jew.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

7thSun Live

I am performing live after Gohsten in support of Totem Recall this Sunday.

The gig is at Barkollo on Leazes Park Road, opposite Barker & Stonehouse.

Entry is free, so please come along and support all of us.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Review: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

'Human history in essence is a history of ideas'.
- H. G. Wells, 'The Outline of History'.

Chauvet Cave in southern France: the location of the earliest known prehistoric cave paintings, and the setting for Werner Herzog's 2010 documentary, currently showing at the Tyneside Cinema.

The documentary, which is presented in 3D, seeks to 'capture the intention of the painters', who incorporated the cave's dramatic bulges and recesses into their artwork.

Why did prehistoric people paint on the walls of caves? Was it for their own amusement, for religious reasons, or for the edification of future generations? Can cave-dwelling people of the Aurignacian era have had any conception of the fact that we would be observing and studying these paintings 30,000 years later?

These were some of the questions in my own head while observing the stunning images of Chauvet Cave. However, Herzog seemed in search of prehistoric man himself, who is somewhat conspicuous by his absence: one alone of the hundreds of paintings appears to represent the lower half of a human female. There are footprints and marks from torches, but no human remains. Indeed, forensic evidence suggests that the cave was used to store animals such as cave bears; experts believe that the paintings themselves may have had ritualistic significance.

Due to the cave's unstable nature and toxic atmosphere, the general public are not allowed inside, and Herzog had to receive special permission to film there with a skeleton crew. The film's soundtrack was not particularly to my taste; I also found it quite difficult for my eyes to adjust to the 3D imagery. However, given that this is the closest most will come to witnessing these ancient images, I feel privileged to have seen the forgotten paintings of Chauvet Cave.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

'Fragments of Hope'

A new 7thSun compilation, 'Fragments of Hope', is now available for free download on my website.

A limited run of copies was given away on homemade CDs at my debut gig in March.
It features two previously unreleased recordings.

7thSun - Fragments of Hope
01. Unsleeping Eyes [Vocal Mix]
02. Trapped on a Tidal Island
03. Resignation
04. A Light Fall of Snow
05. Pulse [Version]
06. Dhark Rhen.

For full details, please visit

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

'A Poem is a City' by Charles Bukowski

a poem is a city filled with streets and sewers
filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen,
filled with banality and booze,
filled with rain and thunder and periods of
drought, a poem is a city at war,
a poem is a city asking a clock why,
a poem is a city burning,
a poem is a city under guns
its barbershops filled with cynical drunks,
a poem is a city where God rides naked
through the streets like Lady Godiva,
where dogs bark at night, and chase away
the flag; a poem is a city of poets,
most of them quite similar
and envious and bitter...
a poem is this city now,
50 miles from nowhere,
9:09 in the morning,
the taste of liquor and cigarettes,
no police, no lovers, walking the streets,
this poem, this city, closing its doors,
barricaded, almost empty,
mournful without tears, aging without pity,
the hardrock mountains,
the ocean like a lavender flame,
a moon destitute of greatness,
a small music from broken windows...

a poem is a city, a poem is a nation,
a poem is the world...

and now I stick this under glass
for the mad editor's scrutiny,
the night is elsewhere
and faint gray ladies stand in line,
dog follows dog to estuary,
the trumpets bring on gallows
as small men rant at things
they cannot do.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

7thSun Live at Barkollo, 27/03/2011

01. Illumination
02. Pictures of the Sky
03. Pulse
04. Resignation
05. Strange Clouds.

A big thank you to James and Rich: the show wouldn't have been possible without you.

Thanks to Totem Recall and Gohsten: it was great fun supporting you.

And thanks to the staff at Barkollo and everyone who came to see us. We will be playing live again in May.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Currently showing at The People's Theatre. There are two remaining shows on Friday and Saturday.
Excellent performances, costumes and sets. Strongly recommended.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Friday, 11 March 2011

7thSun Live

I am performing live in support of Gohsten and Totem Recall at the end of this month.

The gig is at Barkollo on Leazes Park Road, opposite Barker & Stonehouse.

Entry is free, so please come along and support all of us.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Housewarming Mix

I made this mix for the housewarming party in the new place. Get in touch if you'd like a copy.

Part 1
01. The Notorious B.I.G.: Freestyle at Mister Cee's
02. The Notorious B.I.G.: Party and Bullshit
03. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross: In Motion
04. Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime
05. Wu-Tang Clan: C.R.E.A.M.
06. The Charmels: I'll Never Grow Old
07. Devo: Mongoloid
08. New Order: Chosen Time
09. Giorgio Moroder: Chase
10. Goblin: Flashing
11. U.N.K.L.E.: Main Title Theme
12. Steinski: The Pay-off Mix
13. Prince: Kiss.

Part 2
01. Pulp: My Erection
02. Doug E. Fresh: Spirit
03. David Bowie: Magic Dance
04. Huey Lewis & The News: The Power of Love
05. Man Parrish: Hip Hop, Bebop (Don't Stop)
06. Prince: When Doves Cry
07. Santa Esmerelda: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
08. Burial & Four Tet: Moth
09. Daft Punk: Da Funk
10. Duck Sauce: Barbara Streisand (Jimmy's Panini Mix)
11. Boney M: Gotta Go Home
12. The Notorious B.I.G.: B.I.G. (Interlude)
13. Mary J. Blige: Real Love (Remix)
14. The Notorious B.I.G.: Going Back to Cali
15. Killah Priest: Wisdom/B.I.B.L.E.

Mogwai at The Sage, 27/02/11

Set list:

01. White Noise
02. Friend of the Night
03. Letters to the Metro
04. CODY
05. Death Rays
06. Killing All the Flies
07. How to be a Werewolf
08. Rano Pano
09. I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
10. You're Lionel Richie
11. 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
12. Mexican Grand Prix

13. Helicon 1
14. Xmas Steps.

See Bright Light for people's comments.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Review: Goblin Live @ The Sage, 24/02/2011

Despite living in Newcastle for ten years, Thursday night was actually the first time I'd been to The Sage, Gateshead's giant woodlouse-shaped concert hall. Regardless of the venue's appearance, I was pleased to discover that (the smaller) Hall Two is an intimate venue and that the sound is crystal clear.

I last saw Goblin at the 2009 Supersonic Festival in Birmingham; I think the line-up has changed slightly since then. Each of the musicians gave an extremely professional performance however, and the great thing about watching Goblin play live is seeing how well they work as a unit: their songs require a lot of careful coordination, and there isn’t a lot of room for showing off. This may be prog rock, but Goblin favour intricate time signatures and layered textures over stunt solos. There’s something engaging about the mixture of gratitude and bemusement with which they react to audience enthusiasm; they also commented on the fact that a lot of the
crowd were younger than the songs themselves.

As at Supersonic, their newer material worked better live than on record, but their Dario Argento soundtrack material got the best response. These tracks also really benefit from a modern sound system: the title track from 'Zombi' came through powerfully, as did a frantic run through 'Tenebre' (complete with vocoder) and the hypnotic 'Mad Puppet'. My personal favourite though was the eery title track from 'Suspiria', which featured an extended outro.

The band were performing beneath a video screen showing extensive clips from the Argento/Goblin collaborations (particularly 'Profondo Rosso' and 'Suspiria'), whereas last time I saw them, the clips were more minimal loops. I think I preferred the former approach.

A great performance nontheless: I recommend going to see them if you get the chance. I'm back at The Sage very soon to see Mogwai, this time in Hall One.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

True Grit

I just went to see 'True Grit', the new film from the Coen Brothers. It's based on the novel by Charles Portis and stars Hailee Steinfeld (who gives a terrific performance), Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. It was previously made into a film starring John Wayne in 1969, although that's really neither here nor there. See it if you get the chance.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Esben and the Witch - 'Violet Cries'

Recently released on Matador, 'Violet Cries' is an interesting debut from Bristol-based Esben and the Witch (who are named after a Danish fairytale).

I saw their sound described in one review as 'crepuscular': a similar term to 'vespertine', which also happens to be the name of my favourite Björk album. Rachel Davies' haunting voice and the band's atmospheric washes of noise create a listening experience just as unique and absorbing.

You can listen to the album in full here. The band's website is also worth a look.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

'Eremite' Video

A video for my track 'Eremite', from the 'Eremite' E.P. released earlier this month.
Please watch in HQ.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Weekend of Wonders @ The Sage, Gateshead

Music venue The Sage in Gateshead is hosting a kind of mini-festival next month called 'Weekend of Wonders', the vague theme of which seems to be horror movie soundtracks.

I'm going to see Goblin on Thursday 24/02 (who are apparently playing in front of a screen showing clips from the Argento/Romero films that they worked on, as when I saw them at Supersonic 2 years ago).

I'm then seeing Mogwai on Sunday 27/02, hot on the trails of their new album, 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will'.

You can read more about 'Weekend of Wonders' here.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


My new E.P., 'Eremite', is now available to download for free on my website.

It includes some soundtrack material and other instrumental work recorded in the past few months.

7thSun - Eremite
01. The Whirring Sound of Wings
02. Trapped on a Tidal Island
03. Eremite
04. A Light Fall of Snow
05. Artificial Fire.

For full details, please visit

Friday, 7 January 2011

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Trailer for Jim Jarmusch's film.

The score by RZA is also excellent, although the Japanese version of the soundtrack is the only one worth owning. Substix has posted his version featuring RZA's score and the other tracks in the film, check it out.