Friday, 30 September 2011


Field Music are a very special band. I forgot about them for a while, and didn't really give 2010's Measure much attention for some reason, but when I finally got around to listening to it properly yesterday I remembered just how precious and unique they are: a truly artful proposition in the pseud-filled landscape of contemporary Brit art-rock.

They're quite prolific (perhaps overly so), so I would recommend some selective playlisting. The first four tunes on Measure are a good place to start:


[A rather endearing un-self-conscious anti-fashion stance is one of the hallmarks of the band. For this alone, they deserve a great deal of credit, as it's probably cost them dearly in terms of sales and acclaim in a fashion-oriented market. On the other hand, their anti-visual aesthetic has also arguably been the making of them -- a way of outlasting the "post-punk revival" scene they were originally lumped in with. Meanwhile, their more hyped, more Topman-friendly pals The Futureheads have not been nearly so lucky.]

[Great magic moment around 1:45 into the above.]

Field Music are the closest thing we've got to a US band like Dirty Projectors. It strikes me that this sort of wayward pop from the fringes of academia is one of the most worthwhile ways in which rock//indie/guitar music/white pop/whatever might evolve. You keep your head down, keep away from London, deal with the industry but keep it at arm's length, maintain a meaningful relationship with your city and its local scene, carry on making low budget videos, etc., and you just might make things work in the long-term.

No version on youtube unfortunately of my all-time favourite FM tune, "Alternating Current", so this other tune from Write Your Own History (a fantastic collection of early b-sides) will have to do:

I also love the motif of brothers. When pop gets the Partnership right (Beatles, Smiths, Oasis) it can lend a powerful anti-individualist emphasis to the music. That said, one of things most worth tracking down is 2008's The Week That Was album, the side project of elder brother Peter Brewis. Again, the best stuff on this isn't on youtube so this (still pretty excellent) single will have to suffice:

David Brewis's School of Language record was release around the same time. Though not as focused as TW2, it still had some belting stuff on it:

Anyway, don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, 23 September 2011


The Gym On Top Of The World

From here we see the great gamut of human life;
Wolf men and flower-wrights,
Coffee kids and purple hearts.
The cypress tree tilting in the doorway at lapse of day.

Legging away on this up and down thing,
I see maps stretch to the horizon,
Yellow records of everything our fathers felt,
Barques blown mad on the crust of the ocean.

Stars twitter. Night-swallows gleam.
I come back to the start on rubber tracks.
Now and then the iron clasps lift, we gasp
At undercurrents in the pockmarked air.

Cities are all I ever hoped for.
In the past I would dream of this platform,
As the soldier dreams of a notional child.  
My feet flail around on golden instruments.

But even the ancient tapestries faltered at this stage.
Here on this summit I see the sun strive,
The ground snaps to the thud of blistered feet;
The ocean whispers something about not trying so hard.

Steam percolates. Precision beats out the pace.
Sweat gathers in pools and we revel in weariness.
Ogres climb up the walls and beat at the door.
Friends of God, please will you help us?

So now you can see why I brought you here.
Fog is obscuring the Grecian columns in the distance.
Saxophones riff lazily, and wine soaks the cypress.
Let’s agree. We can do infinitely better than this.


Friday, 16 September 2011


A wonderful thing happens in this first post on new NUFC blog Eyes on Ashley:
Without sufficient proof of his company’s employment record and a PhD in international law there is unfortunately nothing we can do. The degree of the crimes are substantially different and we are in no way comparing the lack of signings with child labour. The problem is that it is the same man who oversaw both organisations and did so with complete self-interest and without a degree of care for the people affected.
When an otherwise ordinary, apolitical demographic links popular culture to an international pattern of exploitation, we should be incredibly hopeful.

In a significant sense, all we're allowed now is pop culture. Our conscious collective existence is limited largely to football, pop music, TV talent shows, high street chain-store scrimmages. As such it seems inevitable that the first glimmer of an organised oppositional response to neoliberalism in the UK will occur on these sites, when even the bread and circuses are popularly deemed to be thoroughly disease-ridden.

It will happen, you know.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


This is us.

Might, failure, oblivion.

The last days of Rome, Michelangelo's Medici tomb, Cage's silence.

Consumer immersion and its dying fall.

Vertigo maw. A pummeling in the stomach. Cliché of Absence.

The guts of an Aztec pyramid. Our Crystal Palace.

Sleekness of Speer. The New Corporate Gothic Minimalism of the public sphere:

Names carved in fire.

And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.

In the gift shop afterward, you twig that soon, when the gold streams run out, the meres will be drained, the jets switched off

This is us. Eulogising transience.

The slightest monument in history.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


The artwork Richard Hamilton designed from the University of Newcastle art department in 1964-5 for two editions of Basil Bunting's poetry. Bunting was in his mid-sixties, and The Spoils was, astonishingly, the first book of his to be published in the UK.

Well done Richard Hamilton for your part, and godspeed. How many modernist artists are struggling in the desert right now without the help of people like you?

Saturday, 10 September 2011


The second issue of Wave Composition is out and it's predictably crammed with essential reading.

Especially worthy of attention is Ed Sugden's Tree of Life review, which mounts a fervently savvy defence of this divisive film (Ed: "undoubtedly the most important cinematic work of the early century"). I defy anyone to grumble about Malick's "intellectualism" after reading this piece.

Also indispensable is the interview with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet Ron Silliman. Particularly trenchant on latter-day publishing contexts:
One of the problematic aspects of that type of interpretation ... is that Kathy [Acker] and Burroughs—and you can go back to Kerouac—all engage literature as being one with trade publishing. And that trade publishing represents access to a mass audience. Whereas historically the poem—and Pound’s almost the exception here, compared to the people who are not as famous as Pound, starting with William Carlos Williams—operate in very different economies through small presses and self-publishing. It’s not an accident that Whitman was a self-publisher, and Gertrude Stein was a self-publisher, and that George Oppen set up a press, and all of those people were doing those kind of things because they were working on a different kind of scale, getting the work out to the right people. The numbers of the right people being very different in that approach than in the approach of the novel. One of the problems with the novel is that it never was free of publishing as a phenomenon. As a result, always subject to the laws of the marketplace in its worst terms. Kathy was one of the bravest artists imaginable in terms of casting and recasting her work and asking the most basic questions about what is the nature of fiction, what is the fictive, what is its relationship to the body and the person and the self. And yet, at the same time the economy of what she was then doing was using it to reach almost a rock ‘n’ roll audience through large publishers that left her on the one hand able to eke out a living from her writing, and at the same time left her so vulnerable that when she came down with cancer she didn’t have health insurance, which is what killed her, the American medical system.

Friday, 9 September 2011


Really cracking first post from Dave Lichfield at his new Work Trials blog.

I've been a keen follower of Dave's alternately tragic/ mundane/ heroic/ inspiring Everyman facebook status updates recently, and the expansion into blog format is a very welcome development, especially at a time when everyone seems to be migrating the other way.
Time drones on in the flattest fashion possible with barely anything to punctuate the sickly whirr of its moronic acceleration into an abyssal state of shit-all. The fear of missing out on key life events (jobs, driving lessons, girlfriends, holidays, engagements, iPads, festivals, mortgages, promotions, pension plans, marriages, ankle-biter spawning, B&Q on Sunday, being able to pay for your own funeral). The feeling that life is something that goes on elsewhere. The feeling of estrangement. The feeling you deserve it all. Being away from your family, and you can't afford to move back, because you can't get a job. The whole days, weeks and months procrastinating in front of a screen, watching snapshots of other people's lives. No idea if things will ever improve or just continue to insult you on an ever-increasing basis.
This'll be one of the most worthwhile things you read all day, I promise.

Monday, 5 September 2011


"Earth, mingled with stones, fell onto the coffin; and the world would never mention him again".

- Sentimental Education

Saturday, 3 September 2011


A lecture series will take place next academic year at Oxford showcasing forthcoming or recently published Zero texts. The first session is on October 18th, 2011. Chris Bateman is speaking.

Blog here.

Spread the word.

And if you're travelling from elsewhere, lemme know and you can kip on my floor.