Saturday, 24 December 2016

It's Chriiiiiiiiistmaaaaaas

Happy Christmas my lovelies.

I just thought I'd share my Christmas card design for this year, because I'm rather fond of it (and all of you who have been posted IRL cards should, by now, have received them, so this isn't a spoiler)

As I have mentioned, no doubt countless times, we're moving away from Brighton at the end of January. This is my own little festive tribute/farewell to this gorgeous city, featuring my house, the train station, and the West Pier. (All drawn from memory, so forgive any inaccuracies, I think the West Pier is actually far more deteriorated than this...)

I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow. x

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

My album picks from 2016

2016 has been awful in so many ways, but hopefully we can all agree there has been a huge amount of incredible new music, and for that we can be thankful. Here are a few of my picks... I tried to do some words about them but I don't have the good words like all the word pros out there, so apologies if I use the same adjectives over and over or do a bad grammar.

Best album that might just be be random leftovers he had lying around
Kendrick Lamar — Untitled Unmastered

My #1: untitled 06 06.30.2014

Are these scraps from Kendrick Lamar’s studio room as the titles imply, or is this in fact an elaborately planned short LP/long EP? Either way, the man is clearly a genius and I can't wait to hear what he does next.

Best album for creative productivity (your experience may vary)
Mono/Poly — Cryptic

My #1: Raw Power Moves

Mono/poly was mean to Alex one time, but damn it he just keeps putting out the best music, so I’m going to keep giving him my money while hoping he’s become a bit more chill in recent years. I’ve listened to it a lot while I’m working and I find it speeds me up and makes me do better stuff, but this may just be me. Give it a go though, eh?

2016’s most prolific-yet-still-high-quality artist award
Anderson Paak for
Anderson Paak — Malibu
NXWorries — Yes Lawd

My #1: Am I wrong (from Malibu)

Is Anderson Paak 2016’s most prolific artist? As well as these two great full lengths (one as NXWorries with Knxlwledge) he’s guested on pretty much everyone who’s anyone’s albums too. His distinctive vocals are a delight and both of the above albums sing of summer/warm climates to me in a way that I'm finding helpful right now in particular.

The Beyonce special award for being a better Beyonce than we could ever even have dreamed or deserved
Beyonce — Lemonade

My #1: Formation

What is even left to say about Lemonade that hasn’t already been said (and by those far better qualified to comment than me.) Lemonade the album and the film is a masterpiece, perhaps one of 2016’s greatest creative achievements. (Shouts out to the HUGE team of people behind it as well, of course, particularly film director Kahlil Joseph)

Best album live performance that Alex made me leave because they were bored

James Blake — the Colour in everything

My #1: Always

Alex doesn’t like James Blake. I do. We’re going to have to agree to disagree here. (In fairness, we were at the incredible North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam, he was doing quite a boring show, and I was being dragged away to watch something else equally fabulous and possibly to eat a pizza, so I’m not complaining too much)
But this album is great. You should give it a go. And the cover art is by Quentin Blake which is wonderful.

Album that makes me simultaneously most and least optimistic about humanity
Saul Williams — MartyrLoserKing

My #1: Ashes

Saul Williams is a genius. He creates stunning work. And yet despite him and countless other geniuses like him, everything still feels pretty messed up right now. He does quite a good job of reminding me of that while also simultaneously increasing my faith that somehow art will save us all. Which is pretty impressive.

Album that I might actually have listened to the most this year
Kaytranada — 99.9%

My #1: Drive me Crazy
Kaytranada has just created a masterpiece of re-listenable electronica that I have come back to again and again. Still fresh and bright and new and with a whole host of amazing guests (inc aforementioned ridiculously prolific Anderson Paak)

Album that I’d probably have listened to most if it came out earlier in the year.
Fudge — Lady Parts

My #1: In my shoes

Out of nowhere, new Prefuse 73, with BONUS of some guy I’ve never heard of, Michael Christmas, who seems pretty great. I mean, Prefuse 73 does what he does and while on the one hand I’d claim he’s fairly consistent, he definitely has some albums that are better than others, and this is definitely one of his best. Lovely rich, sample heavy, multi-textured hip hop.

Album that I still struggle to get right the way through in one sitting but which is clearly a masterpiece
Clipping — Splendour and Misery

My #1: Air em’ out

Fucking hell, clipping. Two noise artists and an incredible MC (Daveed Diggs, of Hamilton fame, if you’re into that kind of thing) making difficult, brutal, brilliant rap music. It’s pretty dreamy. Incredible, even. I can’t really speak highly enough of this. (Their EP from earlier in the year ‘Wriggle’ is also brilliant, and quite different). As a friend of mine said: "I didn't realise there were records like this."

Jazz album for people who don’t think they like jazz
Badbadnotgood — IV

My #1: Hyssop Of Love

One of my most chill music moments this entire year was sleepily watching Alex play Civ VI with this album playing, and occasional voiceover interludes from Sean Bean. It’s so lush. Even if you think you don’t like jazz, you might be into this, unless you’re so stubborn that you could never admit you’re enjoying jazz.

Award for artist who I’ve seen live maybe too many times (5) this year but he’s just too good, okay
Daedelus — Labyrinths 

My #1: Special Re:quest

Look, if Daedelus puts out an album it’s going to be on my end of year list, but this is a particularly great one.
You all know by now I’m a fan. The man has been turning out consistently good (but crucially, spectacularly varied) albums for over 15 years now. This album is probably him straying closest to my own personal predilections, and crucially, to his unfailingly incredible live shows — huge variety, a morass of beats and bass, complex layered electronics and a whole host of amazing guests including Busdriver, Teebs and Seven Davis Jr.

Album that actually feels most relevant to 2016
M.I.A. — AIM

My #1: Fly Pirate

I’ve been an admirer of M.I.A for years now, and have enjoyed quite a few of her singles, but this is the first whole album of hers that I’ve really loved. It’s timely and consistent and it feels like she’s just going to keep hitting her stride more as the years go on.

Album that I spent a few days assuming was a hoax because it’s just TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
A Tribe Called Quest — We got it from here… Thank you 4 your service

My #1: Solid Wall of Sound

What a ridiculous treat. Who ever thought they'd do another album?! And it’s incredible, when it could very easily not have been.

Best album title
Danny Brown — Atrocity Exhibition

My #1: Ain't it funny

I don’t know why, but this is probably my favourite album title from this year. It’s a brilliant thing as well. Intense and heavy (much like Clipping, it's a lot to get through in one sitting) and I just love his incredibly distinctive voice.

Albums that I’m sad are not on my best of the year list but are probably still worth a go

Kanye West — The Life of Pablo
My #1: Real Friends

Oh Kanye, I tried so hard to love this. But I think I just preferred the version that Japanese producer Toyomu made after being unable to hear it in his home country due to Kanye’s rigorous streaming limits, and recreated using the listed samples and lyrics on Rapgenius (spoiler — it’s a masterpiece)  It’s okay though, I still love you Kanye.

Dj Shadow — The Mountain will fall
My #1: Bergschrund

It’s okay I guess….? Another one I got very excited about but for some reason I’ve really struggled to love it as much as I feel like I ought to… Maybe I should try harder.

Gold Panda — Good Luck and Do Your Best
My #1: In My Car

I really want to like Gold Panda more than I actually do. In My Car was great but the rest of the album didn’t hold my attention.

Radiohead — A Moon Shaped Pool
My #1: Ful Stop

I guess maybe I’m just not as excited about Radiohead as I once was. It’s clearly a brilliant album and you should probably listen to it.

Anohni — Hopelessness
My #1: Drone Bomb Me

Anohni has got some incredible producers on this album, and is talking about some incredibly important things that few others are, and yet the whole thing is a struggle to listen to, because her lyrics are, to my mind, incredibly trite and cringey. Sorry Anohni. I still think you're great.

Avalanches — Wildflower
My #1: The Wozard of Iz

Okay okay we all got very excited about this, but it's just a bit so-so, isn't it? And the lead single Frankie Sinatra might actually be my least favourite song of 2016. My #1 track above is pretty much the only worthwhile thing on there, and that's entirely thanks to Danny Brown.

Deantoni Parks — Technoself
My #1: Methodist

Got all excited about putting this on the list but it turns out it came out last year! Oh well. Recommended for lovers of noisy noisy electronic noise loops and drums.

I've also made a playlist containing loads and loads of my favourite individual tracks from this year. You should give it a listen here.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

November 2016

Slowly nibbling my first advent calendar chocolate as I have a look back over November.

It didn't start so well.

I’d been experiencing weird niggling back pain for some months — I went to the GP, who told me it would be a 4 – 6 month wait to see a physiotherapist (and I’d have to start that wait again as of January when we moved onto a new NHS list up North), or that I could pay for an osteopath privately.

My lack of disposable income, coupled with my housemate’s perhaps irrational suspicions that osteopathy wasn’t really a real thing led me to continue to ignore it. UNTIL NOVEMBER 1ST when everything got really horrible and I woke up in the middle of the night basically unable to move.

I booked to see an osteopath that day. She wiggled me round a bit, did some unnerving clicking, and everything started to get better from there on. I went once more a week later, and now, one month on, after all those months of badness I’m apparently fixed. The lesson here: osteopathy is a real thing and it works. I highly recommend my osteopath, because she was the cheapest in Brighton and clearly did a good job!

This drawing was me stood in her room feeling thoroughly undignified, hurty, cold and miserable in my bra and tights. Sexy.

This one’s a bit of a cheat, just a sample sheet of some fun typography I’ve been doing at work, but as the finished product isn’t yet ready to show, I figured I’d share this. Some small sections of interesting Brighton facts...

So at Quaker church that Sunday, one lady stood up and spoke briefly about how she was grieving for a friend dying of cancer, and how much she was struggling with that. After the customary amount of further silence, another lady stood up, and spoke (far more eloquently than I can recall to express here) of how we must take comfort that the people we love/who are most important to us are in many ways never truly dead, because little facets of them will live on in us, from habits we’ve picked up, to things we believe, things we say, things we feel… I’ve been lucky enough so far not to lose many important people in my life, but it just got me to thinking about some of the people who’ve shaped me, and the ways they’ve done so.
It may sound like a somewhat saccharine sentiment, but it resonated with me in a way that many discussions of grief and death do not.

Got really excited because the (normally very butter heavy) patisserie right by my work were boasting about their new vegan sausage rolls, so I got one, but it was thoroughly disappointing. Later, George fell asleep on our sofa because Southern rail suck.

I looked at a picture of Donald Trump to draw this and ended up getting way too focused on the way his neck was squished into his shirt without really paying any attention to the rest of his face, also FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKK

Some friends of ours have just moved down from North, right before we move away up to North, excellent timing all round, go team. (Couple of months overlap though, at least!)

Decided to try and have a really busy fun Saturday to distract from the ever intensifying sense of impending doom but it didn't really work (if only the cake had been better)

Had to spend around an hour doing a signage audit in a halls of residence with a fresh sewage leak in the basement and I don't think I've ever been anywhere that smelt that bad, I really thought I might do a little sick.

Today/this whole month I guess. My back's better but I feel like I've been on the very edge of a cold that's not quite happened which has left me not on the top of my game for weeks on end. I kind of want to just get really flued up for a couple of days and get it out of my system but apparently I'm made of stronger stuff than that, ho hum...

My ongoing mission to befriend musical genius/all round lovely person Daedelus/Alfred continues apace, and either we are actually now some kind of friends, or he's just too polite to tell me to leave him alone. I'm going to go with the former because I am an eternal optimist.

We had a nice stroll round Snoopers Paradise, which is one of my favourite places to go with new people... I feel like it offers a lot of insight into what floats peoples boats — very specifically in terms of random fleamarket junk, but also maybe from other perspectives too. We had dinner at Silo, which is reliably weird/inconsistently delicious/increasingly beyond my budget. I recommend it if you want to spend a lot of money on fermented things. They're really into that.

(Go see Daedelus live if you ever get the chance. He's unfailingly brilliant.)

A lesson that needs to be re-learnt every year.

I crammed LOADS OF STUFF into this Friday off work which felt like some kind of achievement given my aforementioned slightly fragile state…

I saw a friend for a short while in the morning, as well as getting some freelance work done, then after lunch I got a train up to London. I’ve been super excited to visit the Somerset House studios, given it’s now home to my good friends Strange Telemetry, Buckley Williams, and Lyall from Sensible Object as well as a whole host of other exciting makers/doers/thinkers.

Unfortunately my timing was medium-bad, because only Dan from Buckley Williams was there that Friday, but luckily Dan is an absolute hero. He showed me some cool work in progress stuff and gave me a tour… Gender neutral toilets! Boiling water tap! Ridiculous snooker room! Rifle range! Dark room full of chandeliers! What a treat. 

After a quick Wagamama and a nice stroll by the Thames along to Vauxhall, I got the tube down to Brixton to see Daedelus (again), Samiyam and Luke Vibert. Banging line-up, really really ridiculously terrible promoter. Too much tedium to go into, but suffice to say, with a venue and time change (meant to be a 22.00 start, became a 19.00 start), the vibes were… weird? A lot of people who wanted a late night party making that late night party happen in the early evening, by whatever means, chemical or otherwise, possible.

I felt like the most sober person in the room but that’s fun in its own way. Like 4 strangers complimented my dress but I think that’s because it was very heavily patterned and they were all tripping.

Samiyam was great, Alfred was great, Luke Vibert was great, they’re all GREAT you guys. After the show, me and my friend Mel went out for burgers with Alfred, Sam (Samiyam) and a few others. Lovely lovely people, bangin’ sweet potato fries, general cosiness — I had so much fun that I ended up back in Victoria at around 00.30, waiting for the LAST TRAIN — over 9 years living in Brighton and this was my first time on the last train. Such hedonism.

Let me tell you — Victoria station at night is COLD. Teeth chatteringly, bone achingly cold. It was entirely worth it for the fun I'd had, but I definitely put down a lot of my ongoing not-quite lurgy to that hour sat waiting for the train in such freezing temperatures (it was delayed, ugh) 

The last train is a heady combination of brutal sobriety, flailing drunkness, vomit, and endearing levels of camaraderie. I had genuinely interesting, heartwarming conversations with three strangers (initiated by them, not me), although it did end with me promising a lady I’d wake her at Haywards Heath, becoming distracted and failing to do so, and being WRACKED WITH GUILT when we finally rolled back into freezing cold Brighton at 3am leaving her with a 2 hour wait for the first train of the morning.

Then I slept.

But not for nearly long enough!

Saturday was time for the Rose Tinted Spectacular, my first ever zine fair! I wrote about it here, and I had such a great time, despite tiredness. People I don't know bought my zines! This is very exciting. Would you like to buy a zine? (Or a badge?) Pop me a message on Facebook or Twitter! (Or even a comment here will get to me, but you might want to leave an email address or something)

Luckily Sunday was sitting still time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the USA recently. Haven’t we all. I’m so scared about the future, and horrified at so many of the things it’s becoming apparent that a very large proportion of the US population believe in and stand for. I haven’t been to the US since I was a child but I have a fascination and love for the country (or at least, the country I imagine it is based on my career making advertisements for it and all my readings about it on the internet), and I want so badly to go back when I can afford it. I also have a huge amount of love for all the American friends/acquaintances I’m lucky enough to have in my life. Spent a while drawing all of them that I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with in the last year (and Adam, who, when I drew this, I thought he’d been to stay within the last year, then realised that was like, 3 YEARS AGO, time, what even is it)

Alex and Anna's Queen party happened, and it happened hard.

The bad news is, my friend Sarah's dog Charlie has attacked the family cat, and been sufficiently weird around her new baby that she doesn't feel able to keep him any more. The good news is, I LOVE CHARLIE, and in late January next year, might actually be in a position to rehome him, which is just wonderful. If we can find a house where we can have pets up North, he's mine, and in the meantime, other wonderful friend Naomi is fostering him like an absolute hero. I so hope we can find the right house and be wonderful dog parents!

November has been fun and intense and stressful and life is rushing up fast now let's do DECEMBER!