Thursday, March 30, 2006


Yeah, what he said.

Apologies to Cloudboy for completely failing to hook up w/ him at the Fonal Records show at The Cube, Bristol. I just assumed that it was such a small place that I’d just randomly bump into him somewhere along the way….which is what seems to usually happen to me. I even stopped shaving especially for the gig and wore the most ridiculously inappropriate oversized green and purple Donny Osmond hat, but it still failed to attract his attention.

Well, I should’ve been a bit more adult about it and swapped phone numbers or something, but to be honest, I was still sorting out train times and a B&B a few minutes before I left, as I’m not the most organised of people. On the train up, I started feeling increasingly ill…both the kids have just had a weird stomach bug/mild flu combo, but it really hit me as I walked down Park Row to the show, manifesting itself as, er, explosive flatulence and a bad case of the hot sweats, so maybe it was for the best that I didn’t hook up w/ CB, otherwise he might be suffering these symptoms right now.

Still, a coupla gins and an hour or so sitting down helped to sort me out. Because I was feeling a bit fragile, I sat at the back and stretched out a little, whereas I normally like to get into the thick of the action. I agree w/ CB: I thought that last-minute replacement act Ville Leinonen was excellent….just Ville, his voice & acoustic gtr, but he played a spellbinding set of slightly quirky, Euro-Scando Folk-flavoured songs wh/ helped to soothe my fever’d brow. Despite (like me) English not being his first language, he soon had an easy-going rapport w/ the audience…he played a nice balanced mix of the humorous, the bittersweet and the downright tragic. Sounds boring, but it bloody wasn’t. There were echoes of the early seventies Barcelona Acid-Folk scene and sixties Parisian café avant-Pop in his choice of material. (Since writing this, I've had a trawl around and found that he's a fan of Serge Gainsberg, so there ya go...) I woulda def. scored a CD of his stuff if there’d been one on sale.

I thought that Islaja were a bit uneven, Merja Kokkonen's vocals were disrupted by a sore throat that was threatening to turn into the virus that had caused Kiila to cancel. I hope her health held up for the rest of the tour. But when they hit the mark, they were really good…at points, there were some eerily haunting atmospherics on display, and the demented Duracell rabbit groove of "Palaa Aurinkoon" was pretty excellent too, sounding like Joy Division tackling a 17th century sea shanty.

Afterwards, guitarist/vocalist Jukka Raisanen told me: “I got really mad at myself after the show, ‘cause I started playing in the wrong key at one point...” He explained that two of the guys from Kiila were laid up w/ a virus. Was it the stomach bug that’s doing the rounds? “No, their temperature suddenly went up to about 40 degrees. Luckily, I’m pretty sturdy. I don’t tend to get ill much.”

The CDr "Live at Blaze Mountain Road 18" (or whatever it's called; title seems to vary from copy to copy) documents a more consistent Islaja 'live' performance, with song styles varying from an overexcitable European fairground soundtrack to backwards-guitar-masked yodel-ballads: still getting that early eighties treated drum-machine Les Disques du Crepuscule vibe on a couple tracks, and I ain't complainin' either.

Es hit a spot for me too…went down the front for that one, and really got into the layered washes of noise and fractured beats they built up thru an array of delays, FX-pedals and charity-shop casio-keyboards…finally ending w/ a tortured mid-tour howl of existential pain that blew a hole in the ceiling and let in the rain.

S/napped some photos wid my £1.98 disposable analogue camera, but I haven't had them developed yet; I'm sure CB's pics are far, far cooler.

Even tho’ I missed Cloudboy, my Big Hat Strategy paid-off and I got to talk to a handful of interesting folk…I wanted to have a chat w/ Sami from Fonal but I didn’t wanna bug him before the show, so missed the chance for yip. Instead, I got chatting briefly w/ Jukka from Islaja after they played… and then a Belgian guy came over to bum a ciggie and it turned out to be Pieter from the mighty (K-RAA-K)3 Records (who put out an early-ish CD by Es wh/ is lying round the house somewhere). Anyway, Pieter is a top bloke and I had a great chat w/ him about the current state of play of Belgian underground music (wh/ is a great way to pass the time when yr a sad fan-boy nerd like me)…when I found out he was from Ghent, we started to yip about Begian New Beat and he told me he was only about 11 when it kicked off, but he and his mates used to wear New Beat badges to school. Coincidentally, his favourite NB track from his shady youth was Confetti'sSound of C”, which V/VM had just emailed me about a couple days earlier. Pieter's also familiar w/ V/Vm's noise back-catalogue, so the conversation then went off on another tangent. Hopefully getting in contact w/ him soon, so more Belgian music musings to follow…

Also, nice to know that the guys from The Cube occasionally read this blog, and they’re to be congratulated for putting on yet another excellent show after the brilliant Sunburned Peekaboo a couple weeks back. They’re all volunteers down there, so the whole venue/venture is a labour of love for these people…great to see the The Cube now seems to be well-and-truly plugged-into the US/Finnish underground UK tour circuit. I think both Burning Star Core and Jackie-O Motherfucker are putting in appearances at The Cube fairly soon, so keep checking the on-line listings for dates, and, if you live locally and wanna know what all the fuss is about, get yrself down there for one of these gigs and support both the bands and the venue!