The Best Gig I Have Been To Yet – Sunn O))) @ The Stylus, Leeds

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For sixteen years, Sunn O))) have been challenging the way we think about music. In that relatively brief time, core members Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have forged connections between the worlds of Metal, Drone, Contemporary Composition, Jazz and Minimalism with startling results while remaining true to the eternal principles of volume, density and weight.

Sunn O))) are renowned for their no compromising live sets. I did not know if this was limited to their hometown of Seattle, Washington or if they pulled out all of the stops for all of their tours. So when I heard they were playing just down the road in Leeds I bought a brace of tickets and set off with Kathryn.

We descended the stairs to The Stylus and it became apparent that the band were pulling no punches. Despite getting there an hour before Sunn O))) were to step on stage we were met by a wall of dry ice as soon as we entered the main room. This artificial smoke was to be continuously pumped out throughout the live performance to the point that by the end of the gig we could hardly see the bar to our right, of which we were stood ten foot away from – let alone the group on stage. There was a thick fug – but we could make out most of their gear..

Smoke: The Beginning – Taken with an iPhone SE

So, Atilla took the stage at around 2030 and started muttering incantations. The mans voice was amazing. The room was shaking (physically and atmospherically) to just the gruff growl of a satanic blessing – at least that is what I thought he was doing. It was a bit hard to make out with the smoke machines. Kathryn thought he was speaking in Elvish.

Then the Guitars started. And my what drone. To call it a musical feat would be belittling music and in turn be belittling the spectacle that we witnessed at the Stylus. To be so tight as a group as to know when exactly to play your note is something else – but it was more so with Sunn O))) as there was no beat or drummer yet could do just that. But there were smoke machines. From what we could make out through the fog, the members of the group were all clad in robes.

Smoke Pt. II – Taken with an iPhone SE

Was what we went to see? Music? Noise? Ah, an old debate. I’m comfortable saying it was music even though they played drawn out notes for forty seconds – it was tight and it was organised sound therefore I would describe it as music. The was the whole minimal/maximal thing going on and they pulled it off really well

But the volume! Hands down the loudest gig I have ever been to. The hair on my shorted legs was flapping about as the notes blurred and pulses into an overwhelming climax that saw Atilla have a outfit change so he re-appeared on the stage, dressed as what can only be described as Disco Sauron – with lasers shooting out of his mittens.

Smoke: The Finalé – Taken with an iPhone SE

It was hard to make out the member’s of the group on stage – Atilla was lit up with a spot-light and had his own smoke machine bubbling away at his feet. Stephen O’Malley & Greg Anderson were only seen right at the end when the curtain call came. There was no encore – the Satanic Mass had ended and were released to go about our business. I think I saw Atilla waving a blade around in the fog – so, this could have been an actual ritual. If you know a bit more about the group than me then feel free to fill in the comments section and correct me.

It was easily the best gig I have been to – Kathryn echoed that sentiment too. It was completely overpowering. It was non-compromising. It was inspirational. Tomorrow, I will picking out my SUNN amp and dusting off my guitar – sod the poncy Jazz Guitar, Drone is what I want to do now.

I Played Remedy

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Bit of a busy weekend that needs recapping – I will try my utmost to be forthright and not deviate from this promise. It was a vintage weekend – plenty of sleep and maximum fun; a good time was had by all. I partied, people partied and people had fun – there was beer, there was cake and there was good music.

Thursday night saw me radically shift my blogging behaviour. All of the images on this blog are now hosted on my Dropbox account – why is this? Well, the load speeds for Dropbox will be universal around the world. My server is based in Nottingham. This means that when someone logs on to my site from a location distant to Nottingham then it would take quite a while for the image to float through the æther and appear on their screen. The idea behind having all the images stored on Dropbox is the quicker load time will boost my search rankings for this blog – a quicker loading site means higher in the search rankings. So, mammoth blog maintenance has been achieved and I am happy with it.

Another thing I have done is shift the Blog from www.ijopona.org to this domain – I did not really see the point in having a personal, more private, blog as I had publicly “outed” myself as this internet menace who likes to talk about all and sundry to all and sundry – chatterbox really. So, Ijo Pona has died a death.

Friday night saw me ready to go RETRO Bar to play some music. I waited there for an hour until I received a very apologetic text from the Bar Manager saying he had taken ill. Poor lad’d had to be referred to A&E and subsequently been told to take it easy for the remainder of the day – It was a bit of an upset to hear that my friend was not feeling too well after the death of Juna the barkeep. I am a bit worried for him as his blood pressure is down.

So, Friday saw me in Major Tom’s having crashed a date that my good friend Daren was having – him and his lady friend are possibly the funnest, funniest couple I know – more power to them; I believe I told them I think they are ace, but may have hammered home my point a bit too tearfully – cue embarrassing silence.

Saturday was full steam ahead – I woke up in a panic at 8am only to go back to bed until 12pm – rave rest was needed because the destination that night was Remedy at Beaver Works, Leeds. I was taking part in the All Day Party hosted with FIRE before the main rave kicked off. My set went down well – I have rerecorded the set so people can listen to it. Here is is …

There were quite a few familiar faces there – It was great to see Sam & Jason and just chill out for a bit. Allan really enjoyed himself and I found him lying on his back, looking at the evening sky, giggling to himself around 2am – we all decided it was time to get a taxi home – so, booked, talked and travelled we arrived home in H’gate shattered.

Sunday has been a day where I have not got out of my pyjamas – it has been great. I have been gradually drifting to and from bed for a snooze and then waking up for the duration of the day. I managed to record the above mix as a way of try to emulate what I had done the day before. I also recorded my radios how, The Parish News – which can be found on the portfolio section of this site – Forty Fifth Edition of The Parish News. It is a belter.

I start with a homage to Pierre Henry who recently passed away in the week – I admire the man’s music and what he stood for – he was not afraid to try something new and this is how I intend to live my life (except drugs … winners don’t do drugs). He left a fantastic body of work that will be treasured by those that own some of it – and if you do not have any Pierre Henry then I recommend “1st Panorama de Musique Concrete (Remastered)” which is going for 50p on Trunk Record’s shop this week.

What Type Of Bees Make Milk?

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I have had a wonderful past couple of days – and I want to share them with this Blog. My Blog is gradually turning into a “I am feeling ‘X’ because …” Blog, as opposed to “This Is A Blog Post About …” Blog. I am happy the general direction Ijo Pona is taking. It is shaping up to be an alright blog. Ijo Pona is becoming a friend I visit, more than a task to complete. And – to complete this header – I am feeling positive about the future, I am content and I believe I am finding my niche: I am comfortable in my own Beta Male skin.

Please bear in mind I have yet to head to bed and it is approaching 0630 on a Sunday. But, I will start with what happened on Friday night. I was running a bit late for my job at RETRO Bar, where I DJ every Friday, and the equipment was not allowing me to copy my music collection to it – nerves were a bit fraught & I had to rely on new, as yet unprepared, equipment. Continue reading “What Type Of Bees Make Milk?”

First Big Weekend Of The Summer

 

Shenanigans: what went down over the first weekend in June 2017. It was a vintage one. A weekend that I have a souvenir from – but more on that later.

Friday saw me design the new logo for this blog – here it is:

 

 

The logo is designed using a new font called Futuracha Pro – A project I backed on Kickstarter months ago. We had just come back from Prague where we saw an exhibition by Alfons Mucha and I was a bit besotted with Art Nouveau. I found a link to Futuracha Pro on a Pinterest Board and followed the links to høly’s (the font forge who crafted the design) Kickstarter. Best font ever for flowery type type.

Friday evening saw me DJ in RETRO – It is just a bit of a hobby really. I get a few drinks and play out the records that inspire my band, Guerrilla Dub System. Normally it is quite a laugh. However, on Friday it all kicked off. Thankfully Mike & Juna were there to look after me and managed to deal with the drunkards. My set went okay … I was struggling with the gain on Traktor for my new SONY Vaio. Still, I received a compliment from Jason Mawer saying that I was one of the best Reggae DJs he had heard – and that man can DJ! he is one of the people who sent me down my current musical path – I owe him a lot.

I managed to sleep during the day for Saturday. Kathryn said ‘Good night’ to me around 10am when she went off to see a lady about walking her dog. Poor wee dot was very nervous. I did not see Kathryn for another 24 hours – the longest we have been apart for ages. It was awful.

I woke around 6pm and went to record Sound Of Wonder for my hetro-lifemate Stewart. We sank a few beers in CREAO Studio and there was a bit of a party going on upstairs – Guerrilla Dub System’s Session was being broadcast on BBC York and we were all tuning in. The session went better than expected. As you may remember from a  previous Blog article I have no recollection of how the session went – I was losing sleep over the thing and my nerves were fraught.

However, it could not have gone better. If you want to check out the show we are on in the first hour of BBC York’s Introducing show as broadcast on the 3rd June 2017 – here is a link.

I am so proud of my band mate, Allan, for how we did – the music was great and the BBC managed to make us sound good. Which is no small feat in itself. Everyone at the party said we did well & Daren Higham said he was proud of us – not bad at all.

Me, Allan & Daren went out on to Blues Bar afterwards – it was a celebration of being us, warts and all. Blues was dead though so we went on to Montey’s where things got a bit blurry. We had our arses handed to us at Table Football and we ended up in a mayonnaise fight in Chicos.

I was on a bit of a high from being on’t wireless so could not sleep – mum phoned on Sunday morning and said she was proud of me for the way I came across on the radio. That was the highlight of my weekend, I reckon. Kathryn woke up and we saw each other for the first time in 24 hours – a painful time to be apart. But I managed it and did not burst in to tears when she glided in to the kitchen. Kathryn went to a reading by local author Steve Toase in York on Saturday night – so I did not see her in the evening.

I managed to get some shut eye from 12pm to 1am and have been working on web sites all morning (it is currently 3am).

So, a good start to the summer. Kind of like the first big weekend of the summer – the band Arab Strap did a song called “First Big Weekend Of The Summer” – an instantly nostalgic, great pop song. That is what this is – an instantly nostalgic look back at my first big weekend of the summer. What a time to be me.

W/E & A Session

 

What happened over the weekend? Nowt much – Friday I had my residency at RETRO Bar, DJing to nobody. It was dead. So we closed early and I joined Allan in town and had a few beers.

Saturday was an early night so that I would make the farm on Sunday – Alison was visiting the ‘rental’s and it was good to see everyone again. We ate a meal of ‘certainly-cooked’ lamb and all the trimmings.

It really was fun to see Alison again – she seems to be thriving in her new job.

Sunday was spent as a practice session for Monday. This is because on Monday we had a BBC Session in York. A ‘Session’ on the local Introducing show is not something to be sniffed at – it is regarded as having made it locally.

I was all trembles and butterflies by the time we arrived in York – we found the local BBC down a side street and went for a power pint. The Power Pints went down very quickly and very well. They made me over confident and cocky. I was drinking on an empty stomach.

L-R: Sign, Me, Allan

The resulting session was a complete blur and over in a heart beat – the nerves had really got me and all I remember of the BBC Session is the dead air, mistakes in the interview and the mumbled garbage me and Allan spewed.

However, I am pleased to say that we nailed the music side of it – Jericho Keys (the BBC Introducing York & North Yorkshire host) punched the air after our cover of ‘Single Ladies’ (originally by Beyoncé). He claimed that it was one of his top ten covers of the year! Amazing.

However, how much of the session sees the light of broadcast or ends up on the cutting room floor remains to be seen – we are going to be broadcast on the third of June at quarter past eight in the evening. This is something that si a bit of a sticking point for me: I am unsure what was said during the interview due to nerves: we walked out of the studio with our heads held high and at a brisk pace. Whether we will be asked back to BBC York remains to be seen … but we enjoyed the day and hopefully provided a bit of entertainment.

Me, Dubbing

 

Then on Monday night we both met up in Tom’s for a few drinks – I got a bit merry and lost my electronic cigarette. Had to buy a newer version today: there was a law passed a while ago that limits the size of the oil tank on eCigs. I have gone from having a 5ml tank to having a 2ml tank – the result is that I have to top up more often, but it could make me less dependent on it.

Tuesday was spent sleeping and practicing for Fridays gig. This Friday sees me and Allan playing Henshaw’s Arts & Craft Centre as part of their Friday Night Mix. It is an honour to have been invited along to the thing – we are partially playing our own tracks live and combining it with a DJ set. It should be good …

We Are Currently Number #1

 

Guerrilla Dub System’s latest release (Pound Of Dub) is currently number one in the Beatport reggae chart. Not bad work if I say so myself. Quite proud of this achievement.

Allan and myself (Guerrilla Dub System) were a bit worried as the release had only been out there for twenty four hours – there was a horrendous delay in getting the release up on the site. It seems there was a mix up on account of the aggregator. Still that has been remedied and the release was up on Beatport yesterday afternoon.

I logged on to Beatport to see if we had made the charts at all and was very shocked to see that we were number one in the Reggae/Dub Chart on that site. Here is a graphic to prove it –

If you are interested in hearing a bit of the release before you buy it, Beatport have the functionality of playing some of the track before you buy it – it is a good, honest set up – and the fidelity is awesome. You can do all of that at this link – https://www.beatport.com/release/pound-of-dub/2025945

…. Goal achieved, really.

Second EP Released

 

It is with a great sigh of relief that I can say the POUND OF DUB, Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP has hit the virtual shelves.

Currently it is available on iTunes and Google Play (unsure about Amazon) but, as with Dub Force (our first ep) there has been a bit of a problem with Beatport.

When Beatport gets sorted I will post a link in the comments section of this post and then you will be able to click on it.

What can I say about the EP? Well, it carries on where out last release elft off – we have had our music described as quite authentic – something I hold dear to me. It is nice to hear that. My favourite track on the EP is the title track, Pound Of Dub.

We used Silk PR to promote the thing as we did with the last one – we have high hopes for this release so that we are not one-hit wonders.

[spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/3rWgEQ3rSebrBagtwcQiAn]