Thursday, 8 August 2019

Mariah and I listening to the new David Berman song in my living room, May 2019

“Can I listen to the new David Berman song again?”

When I first heard the news of David Berman’s death, my mind jumped back in time to May this year. I’m lounging around the living room of my house in Tokyo with my friend Mariah, who’s on tour in Japan at this time with her band The Male Gaze. David Berman has just released the song All My Happiness is Gone from his new project Purple Mountains, and Mariah wants to listen to it over and over again.

“Sure, if you want, but why do you need to listen to this one song so much?”

“I’m trying to decode its lyrics.”

Mariah, like many people on and around Call And Response Records, is a massive fan of David Berman. When we’re out as a group, little clusters of them geek out in private conversations composed largely of Silver Jews lyrics, used in- or out-of-context, repurposed like memes towards the purposes of the topic at hand. I’m by no means a deep or hardcore fan, and it’s not necessarily an influence that finds its way onto the label’s output in any obvious formal way, but Berman’s music is part of the fabric that binds many of our artists and friends together on a human level. It’s impossible not to feel a share of their sadness at his death, because he is embedded in what makes us us as a group.

Back again in my living room, May 2019.

“What do you mean, ‘decode the lyrics’?”

To me, the broad meaning of All My Happiness is Gone is pretty clear. It’s there in the title and repeated over and over again in the chorus. Mariah gives a kind of vague answer, but the underlying meaning is that she and I listen to music — and lyrics in particular — in different ways.

Obviously, there’s more to the song than just the title, and so I start wondering what it is that she is looking for. What it is that she’s trying to decode. To do this, I pull up a transcript of the lyrics and read them, and of course it’s much more richly layered — not obscure, but sometimes opaque, abstract, fragmentary, but all the while shot through with a tangible sense of melancholy, fear and loss.

It makes me think about how I listen to music.

Living in Japan suits my way of listening to music, I think. It’s a place where most lyrics are foreign sounds that I need to make a conscious effort to translate, but which it’s much easier to simply let fall back into the texture of the music. Even with songs sung in a language I understand instinctively and without need for effort or translation, I rarely consciously engage with the lyrics unless they are either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. That’s not to say I don’t pay attention at all though. Rather, it’s that I let the words find me, often as individual phrases that fade briefly into clarity and then vanish. Music is constantly dragging me away from a place of consciousness and focus and into a liminal space between awareness and dream, so lyrics that demand my attention are often going to be at war with their own music in their fight for control of my mind.

This is probably reflected in the kinds of lyricists I most enjoy — Mark E. Smith, Robert Pollard, Graham Lewis, Laetitia Sadier jump most quickly to mind. Their songs rarely insist on a meaning, or even seek explicitly to communicate one. They’re all lyricists whose talent lies in opaque yet evocative imagery, and an instinctive poetic sense of the power of this word over that to express something intangible through language. David Berman has a similarly deft hand with imagery as well, of course: it’s there on All My Happiness is Gone in phrases like “snowcloud-shadowed interstates” and “the icy bike-chain rain of Portland, Oregon”.

The idea of focusing my will on a single song in a granular way and trying to decode feels in a way like an affront to the way I use and consume music. In order to engage with David Berman’s lyrics in anything like the way Mariah is, I needed to see them written down in front of me — that’s the division of labour between listening and reading in my brain (it's also the reason I never listen to radio, podcasts or voicemails).

That’s not to say Mariah is wrong. That sort of intense focus on a song also includes an insistence on experiencing the music and lyrics together as something indivisible. It’s a very pure way of listening, and in a way it’s one I agree with — after all, it’s where my own habit of listening passively and waiting for the words to find me ends up eventually anyway. Lyrics on paper alone are rarely great poetry: they are meant to be heard aloud, and often it is the singer’s ability to sell a line that completes its meaning. The structure, tempo, time signature, arrangement and production of a song can also help fill out or illuminate the words’ meaning — or undermine them, if that sort of tension is what the artist wants.

The mode of listening to a song over and over again, obsessing over its details, is an old fashioned one in a way. It’s the mode of listening to a 7-inch record, attention rapt and hand always ready to move the stylus back to the start. It’s ironic that the archetypally millennial Mariah is listening to the song in this way, while increasingly middle-aged me struggles to consume a song in a way other than the mode of an Extremely Online Twitter nerd, letting information flow through him passively.

While that’s a neat little ironical flourish, it perhaps also obscures what these two ways of extracting meaning from music are really dealing with, and that’s the problem of music and time.

Music is fundamentally linear. It can underscore meaning or draw connections between different points in the song by repeating lyrical or musical phrases, but these are just mirrors and echoes: they do not fundamentally alter the inexorable passage of time that a song dances you through. Words on a page flatten time. Written in a linear fashion though they may be, we don’t really read them in that way. Our eyes jump back and forth, making and breaking connections between places all over the text, constructing meanings in a nonlinear fashion. Poetry is, in a sense, hypertextual in that words are not only words in themselves but also links to other places. In this sense, Mariah’s repeat listening of the song and my instinct to leap straight to the text are both recognitions of the deficiencies of time in how we decode meaning in music: she by keeping the text pure and whole and simply looping time over and over, immersing herself in the narrative as a function of time; me by detaching lyrics from the music and flattening out time in order to experience their meaning in a blast of interconnected words and images, then recombining with the music and thus restoring them to time.

It feels strange that a line of thought that began with the news of David Berman’s death ended up wrapped up in ideas about the relationship between music and time. A little trite even, like it’s too neat a metaphor. Time is flat, and even if Berman is gone, his music is still here, “hardships like yardsticks” left in the ground. Time is a loop, and the music continues to cycle through, over and over again, accruing new meanings as we experience and share it in new and different contexts. Time is a straight line, and David Berman will never make another album.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Happy New Year 2019!

The new year is shaping up to be a hectic one for Call And Response, with a lot of new releases planned, including one to celebrate us reaching the 50-release milestone that in theory will mark the halfway point of the label’s existence. We also have a lot of events and tours lined up.

Last weekend, Velvet Ants played a fantastic set at Hiroshima Club Quattro alongside DMBQ at an event organised by the fabulous Jailbird Y. It’s rare that a show will bring a tear to my eye, but seeing them at a big venue like that, holding their own on a bill alongside noise-rock big boys like DMBQ was a moving experience. Velvet Ants have a show at Nagoya Bar Ripple on February 9th and they’re visiting Kanazawa for the first time in April.



Next up, there’s CD-R Store Day at Koenji AMPcafe (and later at Green Apple) on January 20th. This isn’t strictly a Call And Response event, since it’s strictly DIY with no real involvement from labels. The idea is that a bunch of people make a CD-R featuring new or previously unreleased songs or remixes and gather together at a CD market to sell them for ¥500 a piece. I organised a similar event just over a year ago that went very well. This time round the response has been much less enthusiastic from artists, so this is probably the last time I’ll do it. There’s a lot of fun stuff involved and a diverse and interesting array of live performances though, so it’s going to be a lot of fun regardless. You can see info on the event’s Facebook page and on our homepage here.

After that, the Call And Response Indie Disco is back and punkishly contorting itself with a lineup featuring our very own noise-punk riot grrrls P-iPLE, experimental punk lunatics neccc and fastcore psychos Telepashits. The party will take place on Monday February 4th at Shimokitazawa Three, 7:30pm open/start.

Also in February, our avant-pop friends Miu Mau are visiting Tokyo for a slightly more melodic and restrained show at the always lovely Koenji Green Apple on Saturday February 23rd. They’ll be joined by Come To My Party and Kate Sikora, with hopefully one more act to be confirmed fairly soon.

Especially big news, though, is that stadium-synth-punks-in-waiting Jebiotto have a 7-inch vinyl single, “Get Down” coming out very soon. It’s coming out in the UK on February 8th, with copies starting to filter through to Japan soon after that, and will be a split with excellent Leeds-based postpunk band Treeboy & Arc in collaboration with Leeds-based label Come Play With Me.


This release is going to kick off a year of loud, fast, heavy or just plain noisy shit from Call And Response — 2019 is going to be all about taking punk and twisting it into all sorts of fun new shapes as we move into the second half of the label’s planned lifespan as our catalogue numbers count down inexorably towards zero. I’m thinking of a new corporate slogan: “The more of our shit you buy, the faster the label can die.”

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Tension!

Call And Response business went on hold for a week over the end of November and beginning of December, as I was away at the fantastic Madeiradig experimental music festival in Madeira, Portugal, which mostly involved drinking beer with Germans, with the addition of a small amount of actual music.

I hit the ground running upon my return, though, heading straight from the airport to a meeting with the guys from Tropical Death and a journalist from an inflight magazine who’s writing a feature on the Japanese underground music scene. I’m not sure what the crossover between underground music fans and inflight magazine readers is, but I guess there must be some. Writing about something as diverse and fragmented as Japanese underground music is an impossible task and I don’t envy him, but at least it’s a good excuse to see some cool shows and get drunk with some cool music people (and us).

The next day, on December 8th, was the latest Tension! event that I organise with Mayumi from P-iPLE. The ideal balance with an event is always a difficult one to pull off, and I’ll take different approaches with different events.

An interesting comparison for me is a show I went to couple of weeks previously at Koiwa Bushbash, where another organiser was holding a release party for a compilation cassette that she’d just released. Her event was broken up into two separate shows, the first opening in the morning and finishing in the afternoon, and the second opening around 6pm and finishing about 9:30pm. Each band at this Koiwa show played around 40 minutes, and they all had the chance to do a proper soundcheck, with the result being that a total of seven bands appeared, spread over about 10 hours, including a long break in the middle. I had to miss the evening show due to another engagement, but was able to catch Nagoya’s excellent Free City Noise in the afternoon show. In any case, this approach of seven acts with longer sets and full soundchecks was a very band-friendly scheduling environment (I’m not sure if the audience were expected to pay individually for both the afternoon and evening shows).

At Tension!, we had 14 live acts and three DJs over the course of eight hours. No one really had time to do a proper soundcheck except the first bands on each of the two stages we’d set up, the sets were all 25-30 minutes in length, and the whole event had a much more intense pace to it, with something going on somewhere nearly all the time. It’s obviously a less artist-friendly setup, although I think it also made for a more explosive (maybe a bit overwhelming for some) experience for the audience as a whole, which brings its own benefits for artists who rarely get to play to a packed crowd of such energised fans.

One of the ways I sometimes describe Tension! is as a space where music of that postpunk/noise-rock type that I like can have its own scene rather than existing as an adjunct to either the punk, noise, indie or experimental scene — the overlapping area of a Venn diagram covering several different scenes. When I was in Madeira talking to people involved in experimental music in Europe, I also realised that what I was trying to do was promote music that has something experimental about it but treat it (and encourage the audience to treat it) as if it was just regular rock music.

While bands are usually excited to be playing outside their usual scenes, one problem with mixing things up in this way is that audiences don’t always follow, wither by avoiding the event or by sticking rigidly to only the bands they’re familiar with. The old alt-rock/underground crowd from places like Akihabara Club Goodman and Shinjuku Motion mostly steer clear of Tension!, although the event seems to be growing to the extent that increasingly we can ignore them without suffering for it. More serious is when people with different backgrounds fall into conflict. Noise and industrial fans are used to freaking out intensely in their own private and personal space, while hardcore fans treat their music as a more communal and aggressive experience, so throwing both these kinds of people together on the same floor without any established common etiquette can sometimes create friction. As a result, during Jailbird Y’s set there was a bit of aggro on the dance floor that fortunately didn’t flare up into anything too serious.

There was also a brief power outage in the main stage area that interrupted Tropical Death’s set, although the excellent Moonstep staff sorted it out swiftly (despite punters needing to pee in the dark for a while). Melt-Banana brought the event to an ecstatic finale, and once again I can’t emphasise enough what fantastic performers they are and what thoroughly nice people.

All in all, the night was a big success, so thanks to Naoki and the rest of the Moonstep staff, big thanks to Melt-Banana for being such fantastic headliners as always, and special thanks to all the bands who travelled so far to take part -- Adrena Adrena from the UK, Lumi from France, Jailbird Y from Hiroshima and Velvet Ants from Nagoya. Also thanks to Soloist Anti Pop Totalization, who played two shows in one day, as well as the "Yokoscum" event in Kanagawa who kindly co-ordinated the schedules of Soloist and some other musicians who were playing at both shows with us despite our two events being rivals of a sort. That sort of intra-scene support and good will always leaves a warm feeling.

Events this packed and intense are difficult to organise and really exhausting, so it’ll be a long time before we do something like this again, but our regular programme of smaller, accessible parties will be back in full swing in the new year. Also, since there aren’t any new Call And Response releases for a while, we’re bringing a few of our friends’ albums into the online store soon, and there are some big discounts planned on CAR releases over the year-end period — more to be announced on that soon.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Season's Beatings

The Christmas and New Year season is a time when a combination of so many other people doing events and a lot of friends going on holiday or visiting their hometowns or home countries makes organising events and releasing new music a bad idea. Even so, the end of every year seems to end up with an overabundance of parties and events despite our best efforts to avoid them.

The next pay-what-you-want Call And Response Indie Disco at Shimokitazawa Three falls on December 3rd, a day when I’m out of the country on the Portuguese island of Madeira for the fascinating-looking MadeiraDIG experimental music festival. In my absence, Rally/Shingo from Tropical Death and Ralouf/Julien from Lo-shi are taking care of the booking and organising for me.

Paris Death Hilton are a duo Shingo in particular has been pushing a lot recently, and their intense, instrumental prog-electro-hardcore is a unique and intense experience in Tokyo right now. Emulsion are another band who combine progressive rock, electronic music and a punk sensibility, although they take it to a different place. Meanwhile La Belles Biologie is a project combining the experimental electronic sounds of Biology of the Future and doll-mutilating noise act Les Belles Noiseuses. I trust those two guys not to mess it up, but as a precaution I’m turning off my phone for the weekend prior.

On December 8th, I’ve got the latest instalment of the postpunk/noise-rock event Tension! that I organise occasionally with Mayumi from P-iPLE. This sixth edition of the event has an extensive lineup running all day at Nakano Moonstep — a very nice venue near where I live in Koenji. The cool thing about Moonstep is that it has two floors, with the bar on the upper floor, allowing us to set up something more easygoing where people can escape from the relentless barrage of chaos downstairs.

The flipside of that is that it’s difficult for just two people to juggle the competing needs and issues of so many participants, so right up to the time doors open, I suspect Mayumi and I will be dealing with equipment and setting issues, timetable queries and last-minute disruptions.

The really good thing about Tension!, though, is how into it so many of the artists we’ve had participate in the past have got, volunteering to help host editions of the event in their own towns and building connections, organising similar events of their own in collaboration with each other. This sort of noise-rock/postpunk music  doesn’t quite have a scene of its own in Japan, so it’s great seeing people trying to make one. The support of more well-known bands like Melt-Banana was invaluable in helping us get started back at the beginning of 2016, so we’re very excited to have them back almost three years later for this edition.


Tension! will also be a great chance for people in Tokyo to see Nagoya noise-rock champions Velvet Ants, whose mini-album Entomological Souvenirs I came out this autumn from Call And Response. They tore it up at their Nagoya release party in October and we were able to stitch together this rough & ready music video for the track Cicada from live footage.

Closer to Christmas, we’re keeping things a bit quieter, and for the first time in a long time, there’s no Call And Response Christmas event. Instead, we’re having a more intimate house party — more a “bonenkai” in the Japanese tradition than a Christmas party exactly — at Call And Response headquarters.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on around the year’s end though. Last summer, Gotal/Eric from Lo-shi moved to Tahiti at the end of a triumphant DIY tour of western Japan, but he’s returning for a handful of shows over Christmas and New Year. More info on dates will appear later, but for now, keep December 24th and January 6th free in your rolodexes or Apple Newtons or whatever you kids use to store information nowadays.

New Year’s Eve in Tokyo is usually a bit of a bust in the music scene for me, because so many parties mean that my friends and favourite bands are always fragmented and spread around dozens of different parties. To save the inevitable sense of anticlimax, my wife and I are going to spend a few days in Okinawa and then spend the last two nights of 2018 with our friends in Fukuoka, where I’m DJing two nights on at the venue Utero on December 30th and 31st.

Lastly, while there are no more releases lined up for the rest of the year, I’ve noticed recently that Nakigao Twintail’s wonderful 2016 Ichijiku EP is almost sold out now. There are ten copies left in the CAR office, and maybe one or two floating around in CD stores somewhere. The band themselves disintegrated a long time ago, as all great and promising bands are wont to do, so this CD-R is probably the only chance you’ll get to experience this singular group of lunatics. Check out some of the songs below, and you can buy the CD from our online store here.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Foreign angles

Growing as a band or as a label in Japan can be a difficult and often dispiriting experience. Bands rehearse, write songs and play shows week after week and yet never seem to get a foothold. The paths to something greater seem few, and distant. However, looking overseas can be one way of breaking this sense of inertia.

This brings its own set of difficulties, since the cost of physically travelling overseas and the short amounts of time most Japanese musicians can take off work mean that foreign tours are only for the very wealthy or very dedicated. Embarking on something as logistically challenging as a tour isn’t the only way to reach out and keep things fresh though, and some of us here in the CAR family are working on a few different projects at the moment.

The most immediate one is a tour by US band Pregnant, starting November 1st and which Shingo from Tropical Death has (among others) been working hard to help set up and support.

Pregnant (from USA) Japan Tour:
11/1 Tokyo, Shimokitazawa Basement Bar, w/ Tropical Death, Bonstar
11/2 Tokyo, Akihabara Studio Revole, w/ 1000s of Cats, Mekare-Kare
11/3 Tokyo, Shinjuku Ninespices, w/ Loolowningen & The Far East Idiots, Windowz
11/4 Tokyo, Kunitachi Chikyuya, w/ Tropical Death, / Loolowningen & The Far East Idiots, Suppa Micro Pamchopp
11/7 Osaka, Namba Bears, w/ Los Oxxo Sexos, Tokiyo (And Summer Club), Sou + Kanchenjunga
11/8 Fukuoka, Kokura TBA
11/9 Hiroshima 4.14, w/ Usagi Bunny Boy, Uma-darake, Le Film, Shyboy

The other angle we’ve been working is setting up releases of a couple of split singles/EPs with overseas bands, although as always with projects like this that have so many moving parts, it’s difficult to know when is a safe time to announce any details. For now I’ll just say that one is a vinyl single that we’re producing in collaboration with a UK-based label, while the other will probably be a CD EP with another Asian band. In both cases, releases early next year are most likely. As far as tours supporting the releases go, they’re both under discussion and we’d love to do something if possible, but let’s just see how that goes, alright?

Other news from CARland is that I’ve given notice to quit one of my jobs in order to spend more time with writing and the label – two activities that are becoming increasingly difficult to separate, with all the problems that entails. Meanwhile, I’m DJing at about a hundred events over the weekend (well, three), so if you’re not catching the Pregnant tour on that particular day, by all means drop by.

11/3 (evening) @ Koiwa Bushbash – Excellent noise-rock event featuring Jailbird Y, In The Sun and more great bands.
11/3 (night) @ Shibuya Lush – Another event with a great looking lineup, which I’ll be joining at some insane hour of the night/morning.
11/4 (evening) @ Roppongi VARIT. – A ‘90s-themed DJ night featuring a pretty eclectic-looking range of DJs, at which I’ve threatened to play a set composed entirely of Guided By Voices but probably won’t follow through.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Experimental Cocktails

To celebrate the release of the Velvet Ants’ debut album Entomological Souvenirs I, I took a trip to Nagoya the other weekend for the release party at Spazio Rita. Rita is a really nice venue — just a simple, open space with no raised area for the stage, so you can move around freely, without feeling cramped in the way you can in a place like the differently lovely Bar Ripple, where Call And Response’s last event in Nagoya was held in 2017.

The lineup Joe from Velvet Ants put together was superb as well, with the Sonic Youth-esque Free City Noise kicking the party off ferociously. Osaka-based experimental electronic duo Nehan were an interesting follow-up, while the always entertaining new wave/postpunk band Compact Club were visiting from Tokyo and the excellent Noiseconcrete x 3chi5 held things up from the Nagoya end.

Hiroshima noise-rock maniacs Jailbird Y were also visiting, although they brought most of their band from Tokyo, including guitarist Mayumi from punk/no wave band P-iPLE, playing what I think might have been her first gig since having a baby in the summer. Mayumi is also my main collaborator on the Tension! events that we’ve been running on and off for the past couple of years, and the first thing she said to me after not seeing her in three months was, “Let’s do Tension! in Taiwan!”

I’ve written on here before about how, maybe even more than the music, the thing that determines what artists I work with is whether they’re someone who is going to be a good experience to work with. With 95% of the people I know, when you suggest something to them, the first thing they start thinking of is reasons why they can’t do it, but with people like Mayumi, and Anndoe from Jailbird Y is like this as well, if you suggest something to them, the first thing they start thinking of is ways they can make it happen. I’m probably a bit more cautious than either of them, and I’m certainly very selective in who I choose to be enthusiastic with, but at least with people who are feeding me good energy, I try to respond positively in return. “OK, let’s go to Taiwan!”

Also joining me on the trip to Nagoya was Julien from Lo-shi, who I coaxed into coming by telling him, “It’s not a gig: it’s an adventure!” The day after the show, we went to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka prefecture to visit Sone Records — a really nice little record shop that’s been supportive of Call And Response in the past. I was pretty hung over and generally feeling icky, but Julien went straight for the chu-hi at the first convenience store we passed in the morning. We arrived in Hamamatsu only to find Sone Records wouldn’t be open for another four hours, and we quickly realised that Japanese cities with populations of less than one million people are wastelands on a Monday afternoon. The only place we could find that was open was Saizeriya, a cheap family restaurant mostly frequented by schoolkids, so we parked ourselves in there for a couple of hours and made experimental cocktails with the drink bar and the disgusting wine they serve.

The record store was a productive experience in the end though, and with the Velvet Ants heading to Hamamatsu the following weekend, it was good to get their CD in stock. Meanwhile, I came away with a trio of releases from excellent local Shizuoka bands Towel, Half Kill and Qujaku.

The other useful thing I was able to take away from this trip was a lot of video footage of the Velvet Ants live, which I’ll soon hopefully be able to cut together into a music video. I’m also working on an music video for Sea Level, whose album came out on CD in July and who have recently made it available via various online and streaming outlets. While the Velvet Ants video should come together fairly quickly once I start, the Sea Level video is all being done with animation, which is inevitably a slow, tedious process. At the same time, though, there’s something calming about all the mechanical repetition it involves, and it gives me an opportunity to listen to a lot of music in the background, which is something I don’t usually feel like doing when I’m at home.

We’re also working on a couple of new releases, both of which are trapped in a spiral of interminable delays, but which I’ll hopefully be able to talk more about soon. 

Friday, 28 September 2018

People are the weather

While I tend to describe the range of activities I do with Call And Response collectively as “doing music”, obviously I’m not personally making music most of the time. Most of the work with this label is dealing with people, and the extent to which I’m ever able to get anything done is really down to my ability to coax other people in a foreign language into doing things, usually for no money.

After nearly 15 years of putting on events in Tokyo and around Japan, the process is smoother and better-organised than it used to be, but it’s not always like that. These days, most of the vents I’m involved with run on a more or less regular timetable, with the Fashion Crisis DJ parties in Koenji happening on the first Friday of every odd-numbered month when possible, and the Call And Response Indie Disco nights happening in Shimokitazawa Three on the first Monday of every month. The advantage of a regular schedule is that you always know when you’ve got something coming up and you can fall into a rhythm, but the downside is that it’s a fixed deadline constantly bearing down on you.

One of the things I really appreciate about organising music events in Japan is that when someone says they’ll do something, they nearly always will. I remember trying to book some shows for a Japanese band in the UK and one London venue cancelling the event a few days before simply because someone else had offered more money — that would never happen in Japan. Bands, too, are usually pretty reliable about following through on commitments and if a band cancels, it’s usually because of extreme sickness or a family death.

The next Call And Response Indie Disco, which is happening on October 1st at Shimokitazawa Three, wasn’t a smooth process. Partly this is because I got overwhelmed by dealing with new releases and plans for a big event in December. Partly it’s because two of the bands I invited were people I knew would take ages to get back to me with what would probably be a negative answer. Partly it’s because one of the bands I did confirm managed to cancel, then sort of un-cancel, and then cancel again, leaving me desperately floundering around for a replacement with the clock rapidly running out.

In situations like these, you have to be zen about the situation. Bands being unreliable or flaky isn’t something you as an organiser can control, so you have to sort of take a deep breath and repeat to yourself, “People are the weather.” You can recognise the signs and dress appropriately, but you can’t prevent it from raining if that’s what it wants to do. Part of the problem I had with this event is that I didn’t dress appropriately and thus got caught in the downpour.

Another part of the problem is that musicians will usually give you the most polite excuse (work, schedule conflicts, etc.) and never tell you if the real underlying reason is simply, “We’ve judged that your party isn’t high enough status for where we think we should be at this time,” or just, “We can’t be bothered.” I was talking with another event organiser the other week and I remarked to her that if the same artist turns me down three times in a row, I basically won’t invite them a fourth time (at least not for a very long time) and she responded enthusiastically, “Yes, exactly that. I know exactly how you feel.” Another organiser I spoke to last weekend said something similar. On any given day, there might be very good reasons why someone can’t play your show, and second time might be bad luck, but if it’s three times, an artist probably just isn’t serious about the kind of thing you’re offering. If you’re a musician, you should probably know that this is how a lot of organisers think.

On the other hand, if someone is easy and smooth to work with, and treats organisers with respect and without bringing a lot of ego to the table, they’ll get a good reputation that will spread (organisers talk to each other, and we absolutely talk shit on bands who dick us about). After the cancellation for the October 1st show, I was rescued by the fantastic Transkam, who make this kind of groove-centred post-rock with psychedelic layers of delay loops. Joining them will be postpunk duo Demon Altar, who have recently emerged from the ashes of the excellent You Got A Radio, and minimal synth/EBM/industrial artist Soloist Anti Pop Totalization. DJs m87 aka Everywhereman and Yuko Araki from tribal psychedelic trio Kuunatic are joining me spinning tunes, so finally, after all the hassle, it’s shaped up very satisfyingly for me. I’m glad the process isn’t always like this though.


In other label news, the Velvet Ants album Entomological Souvenirs I is now up on the Call And Response online store after a short delay, and we’ll ship it anywhere in the world. The band are playing a release party in Nagoya on October 14th and they’ll be in Tokyo on December 8th for that big show I mentioned earlier, so mark that in your diaries if you’re in the area.

We’ve also got all the tracks in for a very cool new EP that should be out before the end of the year, but I’ll keep that under my hat for a while and make an announcement soon.