You are viewing ggreig

< back | 0 - 5 |  

The Tippy-Top of Chap Hop

October 28th, 2014 (12:27 am)
current location: KY16 8SX

Chap hop is a blend of hip-hop music with a chap æsthetic; that is, a dandyish steampunk or early twentieth century style. It’s decidedly uncool – and was even before Michael Gove expressed a fondness for it – and furthermore, a fair proportion of it is not especially good.

However, fear not, for a while I ago I ploughed my way through most of it and compiled a list to share with some friends. Here, for your delectation, I present “Chap Hop – The Good Bits”. (If you’ve only got time for one, make it Fighting Trousers, but they’re all worth checking out for different reasons.)

Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer:


Songs for Acid Edward: a history of 1990s techno, on the banjolele

Just Like A Chap: a more typical example of chap hop

Professor Elemental:


Fighting Trousers: Professor Elemental challenges the upstart Mr. B
(The unseen "Geoffrey" is, of course, the Professor's simian butler)
Sir, You Are Being Hunted: gangsta chap hop; a promo for a computer game of the same name

Sir Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire:


Just Glue Some Gears On It (And Call It Steampunk): chap-hop meets barbershop

A Belated Introduction: Sir Reginald realises he’s being mistaken for Mr. B and Professor Elemental.
Spot the cameo by Glamis castle, and count the knuckles at the end.

Cuter than puppies – Official!

October 27th, 2014 (09:41 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Wear It PinkFriday was Wear It Pink day, in aid of the fight against breast cancer. Usually my contribution to these things when they pop up at work is limited to that – a contribution – but this time I was marginally more organised than usual. I don’t possess any pink clothing but it occurred to me there was something else I could “wear pink”.

There has to be a benefit to going white…

A while back I decided that occasionally it might relieve the boredom to try a different beard colour; a few people have seen me in blue, but Friday was a bit more high profile. Don’t expect it to be a regular thing, and even less so at work, but if I feel like it…

A bit of research turned up Manic Panic’s Dye Hard as a respected brand that washes out easily. For the pink, as a paler colour than the blue I’d tried before, I actually applied white first (to cover the darker patch remaining on one side of my beard) before applying the pink on top.

The colour combs in easily, and the odd over-enthusiastic application will mostly just wipe off, though it is possible to apply it a bit heavily and wind up with colour on the skin behind the beard. It dries quickly and is good for the rest of the day.

You do have to be a bit careful with a moustache, which should be well-trimmed – otherwise you run the risk of having the colour wash off in drinks, for example. Depending on what you want, you may be best not colouring the moustache. While I went for complete coverage in pink, the contrast between a blue beard and white moustache is quite effective.

The colour also helps with hold once it’s dried, so it’s fairly easy to stay tidy-looking. When the time comes to wash it off, it is really easy to get rid of – a couple of splashes and a bit of a scrub and it’s gone. In fact, it’s so easy to remove I was a bit concerned about being caught in the rain, but I didn’t have any problems in practice. I took the tube and a comb along in case touching up was required, but they weren’t called upon.

Work posted the picture above to the company account on Instagram and I received an e-mail today saying it had got their “best ever response to a picture” – defeating the previous champion, a picture featuring a cute puppy, by a respectable margin.

Lephinkill Chambered Cairn

October 22nd, 2014 (11:07 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Atop the Lephinkill Chambered CairnA few hundred yards across and about 300 feet up from where I grew up there’s a chambered cairn. Despite having run around in the woods surrounding it rather a lot, and knowing that there was archaeology up there to be found, somehow I never came across it.

I was back home visiting my Mum and sister recently, and happened to come across a map that showed there’s now a marked route to the cairn that didn’t exist when I was wee. Checking there was enough time before dark, my sister and I set out to go up and have a look.

There wasn’t a path, as such, but the way was clearly marked by yellow circles attached to trees along the way. The natural woods just above the village are birch, before giving way to forestry land. Much of the hill is covered in mature conifers, but the cairn is in a clear-felled belt starting just above the birch woods; so much easier to spot from a distance than when I was wee!

I say the birch woods are natural, but given how close they are to the village it’s likely they were managed and coppiced at one time; certainly there are overgrown drystane dykes that suggest the land was once more intensively used. If they were maintained though, it’s long enough ago that it’s not obvious now. Interestingly, birch is generally used for its wood in the UK; there doesn’t seem to be any tradition of the birch syrup that’s made elsewhere birch is common. Having tried Alaskan birch syrup, I can recommend giving it a try; it’s similar to maple syrup, but with a more complex flavour. See the Wikipedia page for other people trying to describe it.

I was peching my way up the hill a bit but was pleasantly surprised my sister (the outdoor instructor) thought I was making good headway. I’m pretty inactive generally, but used to make good speed uphill – a combination of long legs and a knack of not really breaking my stride for inclines when others slow down.

The cairn itself was kind of interesting – not on a world-class prehistoric monument sort-of-a scale, but just because it was plainly something, but difficult for a lay-person to interpret.

Approaching the Chambered Cairn

There’s an obvious mound, as you can see in the approach photo. Once you get closer, there’s obviously structure to it too; but it’s less obvious what the structure is. There are a number of stone-lined pits and what might be walls, but those descriptions make them sound very clear and understandable. This is what the pits looked like:

A stone-lined pitAnother stone-lined pit

In other places, gaps between the stones led into small voids:

Void, with spider guardianInto the Void

It was both interesting to look at, and frustrating because I didn’t really know how to interpret what I was seeing. Are the pits chambers, or cists? Did they have roofs? Were they originally buried? Were they always open (probably not)? Are the bits that are still covered chambers? Is the bit with what might be remnants of a wall a forecourt (probably)? Was the largish white quartz boulder of any particular significance? Well, I dunno.

There are some archaeological notes online, which I didn’t have at the time, and which don’t tally particularly closely with my memory of the site, although the general layout in the description matches. Perhaps if I’d had them with me I would have been able to tie things up better.

On the way back down, we went through the part of the birch woods we spent most time playing in over thirty years ago, and found the last remnants of our aerial runway – a very thin and fragile-looking piece of rope still wrapped around a tree branch, very much the worse for its decades of exposure. On the way back into the Clachan we harvested some brambles.

BramblesBrambles

In some ways, the cairn remains a bit of a mystery, but it’s good to at least have seen it after all these years.

At the @Florrie Coffee House session

October 21st, 2014 (01:06 am)
current location: KY16 8SX

On Friday, I left work a bit early to attend the final date on Florrie’s lightning acoustic tour for Coffee House Sessions, which I mentioned when I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. I’m not a great gig-goer – in fact the sum total of my previous gig attendance is seeing Runrig in 1989 and Big Country round about 1990. On the other hand, if you’re one of the select acts that play St. Andrews Student Union, as they did*, and I like your music, there’s a reasonable chance I’ll turn up…


Call 911 (Fred Falke Remix)

I like Florrie’s music, so I went along. I’m not quite sure when I first discovered her, but I think I heard Call 911 on Last.FM a few years ago and it stood out. When I followed up a bit and realised that there wasn’t a duff track on the whole Introduction EP, I started to pay attention.


The Introduction EP

Having been drumming since the age of 6, Florrie started work as a session drummer in 2008 before quickly starting to establish herself as a solo artist, now describing herself as drummer, singer and songwriter. Having seen her on Friday, she’s actually selling herself a bit short, as she plays the guitar too, with a nice crisp confidence. Her recorded style is light, but intelligent, anthemic pop, with strong rhythm and high production values.

Given the very produced studio sound, it was intriguing to see that the Coffee House Sessions tour was to be acoustic; just Florrie and a guitar. Although it’s become more of a “thing” to perform unplugged over the last 20 years, not everyone can do it.

Florrie can. The session was quite short; I just sat and enjoyed it so I didn’t keep a note of which tracks were played or how many, but it must have something like six or eight. Definitely included were Left Too Late (a favourite of mine), Live A Little and Radioactive (a cover of Imagine Dragons), another cover I didn’t recognise but worked out later (Budapest, George Ezra) and the more current tracks Little White Lies and Galaxies. The delivery was sharp, confident and above all musical, emotionally complex and expressive. The studio  production may add to Florrie’s music, but she has impeccable foundations and doesn’t need it – with one small exception.


Coffee House Sessions

The envelope of her vocal range is pushed a bit in Little White Lies just before going into the chorus, and it's the one time she sounds a bit weak; the lyric is "My breathing shallows/I can't pretend", rising at the end to the point where her voice cracks. It's an effective musical portrayal of a rising emotional tension when it works, but it doesn't always work live, which is a shame. It's a great studio track, with the blend of a thundering locomotive drum beat and a touch of melancholy that's a bit of a Florrie signature:


Little White Lies

It’s good though, that she’s trying things that test her, and that she continues to be original. The Sirens EP on which a first version of Little White Lies was included is notably a bit experimental, with something just a bit unusual about each track. An acoustic tour is a bit of variety too. Not everything is a hit with me, but the percentage is really high; the only talent I can think of with a similar success rate for my tastes is Marina and the Diamonds. I’m really looking forward to the release of Florrie’s first album in the first couple of months of next year.

And finally – not that this matters musically, but she’s just a really nice person. At the end of the set, with a little time to spare before I had to be somewhere else, I asked for an autograph on a Florrie beermat and we chatted for a couple of minutes. I said the honest but unimaginative sorts of things people say on these occasions (You’re really good! When’s the album out?), and she, who must hear them all the time, was not only charming but offered me a hug before I left – something I didn’t expect at all, being slightly over twice the age of most other folk in the room and probably looking older than that. Particularly impressive after an intensive ten day tour, and three performances that day (the Universities of Stirling. Strathclyde, and St. Andrews, in that order, all in under 6 hours).

I’ve included quite a number of videos in this post, but couldn’t possibly include everything I like. If you enjoyed any of these, check out the rest of Florrie’s back catalogue while it’s still relatively small! The easiest place to do that is on YouTube as florriemusic. Florrie’s also on Twitter and Facebook. Wikipedia is good for track details, and you can buy on iTunes. Finally, check out the adverts:

* For what it’s worth Runrig were ace, particularly listening to them play their version of The Times They Are A Changin’ a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Big Country were OK, but a bit samey to listen to for a whole gig, even after the Peace In Our Time album had marked a change in their sound.

Archive footage from the Great Martian War

October 20th, 2014 (07:41 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Great Martian war from PLAZMA on Vimeo.

Archive recreation for The Great Martian War documentary by impossible factual for History Canada.
Directed by Christian Johnson, (Plazma). and Steve Maher (impossible factual).

Music: "88" by Working for a Nuclear Free City.

http://www.history.co.uk/shows/the-great-martian-war

< back | 0 - 5 |