The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Sound Waves

07

If anything demonstrates how far behind the times your average logger is then it is the news posted on SURFING Magazine's website on April 30th 2007 that Arcade Fire are "amazing" after the magazine caught the first night of their "comeback tour" at San Diego’s Spreckles Theater. Didn't know the band had gone away in the first place guys. SURFING goes on to say that "this is one band you should be into by now.". Wow, like, really  dude ?

Although I surf, I certainly don't hold dear many of the sacred cows so beloved of fellow waveriders. I think its great that women surf, I think bodyboarding is much more difficult to master than standing up on a 10 foot longboard, I think its great that Clark Foam was closed down, I think that localism is nonsense, I think that clinging to technologies from the 1950s such as fibreglass and rejecting modern advances such as carbon fiber is not retro or soulful, its just dumb, and I think that judging whether other people are 'real surfers or not' is for morons.

SURFING Magazine's taste in music is, in my opinion, well dodgy but taking this long to discover a band like Arcade Fire puts them into the Stone Age. What next ? An exclusive scoop that The Beatles have broken up or that a hip new band from Ireland called U2 have just released their first single ? Doh !

 

 


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06

At the moment, Burger King are running television advertisments for a new food product called 'Dark Whopper' which they claim is inspired by 'Spider Man 3'; adman speak for a hamburger inspired by a turkey. Few films I have seen this year have matched Spider Man 3 for sheer lack of quality and that includes the lousy 'Idiocracy'; a satire on stupidity that manages to be even dumber than the people it has set out to parody.

'Spider Man 3' is the latest in a series of movie adaptations of comic book characters that attempts to give their subject some, er, depth. Hulk, Batman, Superman and Spidey himself have all befallen attempts to give them greater emotional range and the results have been, without exception, 'Hamlet' as re-written by the script team behind 'The OC'; and in Spider Man's case complete with the Ghost of Banquo as played by Willem Dafoe. I won't bore you with the details but the fight between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn in Osborn's penthouse is more reminiscent of a backstage catfight between two drag queens at the Miss Alternative Ireland contest, "Take that you bitch!", than it is a punchup between two super strong alpha males, and Parker's dark side is revealed when he starts to dress like a 16 year old Goth fan complete with eyeliner and floppy fringe.

I am not surprised though. I had feared the worst when I learned that the soundtrack to 'Spider Man 3' contained a track  by Snow Patrol, a band into whose every song you could insert the lyric, "Mummy / I have wet the bed / Again" and it would fit perfectly. Try it yourself sometime. It would appear that the continuing march of Girly Man culture, which has all but destroyed modern guitar rock, has now got a firm hold on the action movie too. Pity.

 

 


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04

The news that English enviromental charity Surfers Against Sewage have pulled the plug on their 2007 fundraising Surfers Ball on the basis that it was losing money, despite its popularity, raises the question whether charity gigs are really for charity ?

Listed by The Sunday Times as one of the top summer events to attend, atrracting crowds of up to 4,000 revellers and featuring live bands such as Razorlight and The Darkness just as they were on the cusp of chart succcess there is no question that the SAS Surfers Ball was one of the big social events in the English calendar but the spiralling costs involved in mounting the event meant that the charity was using its own funds, raised from other charitabe work, to underwrite and subsidise what was intended to be a fundraising event in its own right.

The simple economic fact is that the money that is raised for the named charity at the average charity gig is simply the net profit after costs, if there is any profit to begin with. Far from being first in line for a cheque, the charity is often last in the queue after all the supplier's costs are deducted. Yet, each week the Irish press is full of advertisments for charity balls and charity gigs for a host of worthy causes but when you read the after gig coverage you wonder who the real beneficiaries of the event are. Here is a brief excerpted media report of the backstage atmosphere of one high profile charity concert in Ireland, "Food was smoked salmon on brown bread and chicken wings carried around on platters. The venue was decked out in thick carpets, leather sofas and big gilded mirrors. Heavy velvet curtains separated the VIP bar from the main room." Hmm.

It's something that Surfers Against Sewage have been aware of and have decided to take positive action on since, if any charity event is not working first and foremost for the goal that the charity is devoted to, then it is pointless to continue with it. As they say themselves, "We are clear that we cannot run the event again unless we are confident it can raise significant funds for SAS. We can never allow ourselves to reach a position where our campaigning work may suffer as a result of us having to subsidise an event such as the Ball".

Maybe its time to say goodbye to the fundraising gig and hello again to just sending the charity the money in the post. I certainly dont want my hard earned donation to get turned into smoked salmon canapes for some Z list celeb.


To learn more about Surfers Against Sewage and to support their invaluable enviromental work:
http://www.sas.org.uk/


 


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03

Last night, BBC Two broadcast a powerful film and inspiring film on the ongoing ecological threat to Hawaii entitled, "Hawaii - Message in the Waves", featuring contributions from a number of Hawaiian surfers, such as musician Jack Johnson, who are playing an ongoing role in protecting the ecological riches of Hawaii.

One of the sequences showed Johnson touring Hawaiian schools to teach young children about the importance of sustainable development by employing his skills as a musician though simple songs such as "Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle" to bring that message home.

In another sequence, we were taken to the most northerly Islands in the chain which, although declared a national park and protected by law, also contain some of the dirtiest beaches in the world as various forms of throw away plastic products from other countries, some dating back to the 1960s, wash up on the shores there after years of circling the Pacific ocean. This rubbish is also leading to the decline of Albatross numbers in the area as chicks swallow a variety of plastics such as cigarette lighters, toys and toothbrushes leading to starvation as they subsequently have less space in their stomachs for food or water. One of the contributors spent an hour walking across one of the beaches collecting detrius from the decaying carcasses of a number of these chicks and then laid it out neatly on the sand. The results were horrifying as the contributor simply explained that we are all responsible for this rubbish.

In a third sequence, dolphins were filmed playing a favourite game of theirs where they race through the waves, balancing a fallen leaf on their fins and passing it from dolphin to dolphin except now they play the game with discarded plastic bags. Depressing and inspiring in equal measure, this programme encouraged viewers to each play their part in making this world a cleaner place to live in for all creatures great and small and pointed out that it is a privilege to play in our oceans and that privilege comes with responsibility. It is a form of stewardship that the Ancient Hawiians understood very well and that Hawaiians of today through the the rediscovery of old values are beginning to realise is still just as relevant.

Image Credit: Albatross © Rebecca Hosking

 


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27

If I had to chose one stand out live performance from many years of concert going then, bearing in mind that I have been privileged to have had the chance to see many of the greats such as John Lee Hooker, Lou Reed, Sir Peter Maxwell Davis and Frank Sinatra live, it would have to be the performance by Ensemble Modern & Synergy Vocals of Steve Reich's "You Are (Variations)" and "Music for 18 Musicians" in the National Concert Hall on Sunday 19th February 2006 in the presence of the composer. Reich is often lazily described as the Father of Minimalism but, it would be more accurate to say that he is a composer who values rhythm over melody. This is most clearly seen in his 1970-1971 masterpiece "Drumming". Commentators often state that Reich's trip to Africa in the summer of 1970 inspired the piece which is in four parts that are played without a pause and may last from 55 to 75 minutes in performance depending on the number of repeats but Reich himself points out that’s what that trip to Africa provided was, "confirmation. It confirmed my intuition that acoustic instruments could be used to produce music that was genuinely richer in sound then that produced with electronic instruments." Commentators also mistakenly point out that the piece is also influenced by his study of Balinese Gamelan Semar Pegulingan and Gameland Gambang at the American Society for the Eastern Arts in Seattle and Berkley, California but this study period did not occur until 1973, two years after the completion of 'Drumming". 

Surfing seems to attract more than its fair share of bongo bashers and bores who drone on endlessly about "Bali and Indo" so you could say that "Drumming" would appeal to them on some level but that doesn't alter the fact that it is a wonderfully complex and rich composition and ironically it has become a touchstone for succeeding generations of pecussive composers who work with electronic instruments. Indeed, Reich's own record company Nonesuch Records even produced an album entitled "Reich Remixed" in 1999 featuring remixes of excerpts of "Drumming" by both Fourtet and Mantronix Maximum Drum Formula but these are but a pale shadow of the original. In addition, Reich's influence can be clearly heard on the Arcade Fire track 'Keep The Car Running" where the opening mirrors that of the opening of "Music for 18 Musicians"

Anyway, to give you an easy to digest sample of Reich's muse here is a 1min 7sec clip of a live performance of his piece "Clapping Music" courtesy of YouTube.

Clapping Music (1972)
two musicians clapping
published by Universal Edition (London)
both musicians amplified

Details courtesy: www.stevereich.com

After which you can enjoy an excerpt from his 1983 work "Eight Lines".

Eight Lines (1983)
for ensemble
2fl(=picc).2cl(=bcl)—2pft—strings(2.2.2.2.1)
For performances where the concert hall has a capacity of greater
than 200 the flutes (but not piccolos) & clarinets/bass clarinets and pianos
must be amplified

 


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26

I just got a press release in for this CD and thought I would let y'all know about it. "Chairman Of The Board" is a compilation of rare surf soundtracks all but lost to the genre that created it. From 1964-74 film directors immersed in the surfing culture commissioned original music for their cinematic creations, much of which has been lost or gone unnoticed until now. Harmless Records will release this 19-track compilation on 7 June.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out  www.myspace.com/surfthechairmanoftheboard for more info.


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26

Ok, I got a new DVD copy of this film cheap off Ebay a while back when I was flirting with the idea of moving up to a longboard and certainly this rather goovy, mellow, laidback flick did have a positive effect of my view of what longboarding entailed until, that is, I had to actually pick up one of those 9' 6" monsters and stagger to the beach with it under my arm. Nevertherless, 'Singlefin: Yellow" is one of my favourite surf flicks because it is actually attempting to be a film and not just a randomly edited collection of extreme surfing footage cut together to some rubbish speed metal soundtrack. The film is basically about a a 9'6" single fin, yellow, classic longboard shaped by west coast shaper Tyler Hatzikian who then sends it on to the first of a series of surfers with the message to surf the board until they are done before passing it on again. The board travels around the world, making it as far as Australia and Japan before it ends up in Hawaii in the hands of Bonga Perkins who surfs it in Pipeline before shipping it back to Tyler. Most of the surfers I know don't like the movie because it is too slow in pace and doesn't feature enough jacked up action but don't let that put you off. The best part of it is the soundtrack which is comprised of a series of tracks by underground West Coast artists and my copy of the film came with a free CD of the music used in the film. The artists featured include Euphone, Bluebird, The Dylan Group, Mighty Flashlight & Calvin Keys.

Anyway, here is the trailer for the movie .

 

 

 


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23

One of the simple pleasures surrounding a summer surf trip is that feeling of heading down the M50 on a sunny Friday evening with your board strapped to the roof, dreaming of the weekend ahead and imagining the adventures you are going to have. It is on occasions like these that a certain kind of in-car music is called for; upbeat, breezy, sunny, uncomplicated and positive. The kind of music that The Beach Boys had mastered, that Picturehouse had tried and failed to get a handle on and that UK based five piece The Feeling appear to have become quite adept at producing on their debut album, “Twelve Stops and Home”.  If you listen to FM radio at all, you will probably have been unable to escape songs like, “Never Be Lonely”, “Sewn” and “Love It When You Call” and, to be fair, there is no reason to escape these sunlit ditties. Too often, surf music seems to be leaden reggae, identikit metal and, worst of all, surfers simply playing acoustic guitars so The Feeling are, if nothing else a breath of admittedly retro fresh air. Maybe you might get tired of them sooner or later but, in the meantime, they certainly brighten up a long drive westwards.

 

Anyway, here are the lads performing 'Love It When You Call" live @ Abbey Road.



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19
According to the May 2007 edition of Surfing Magazine, Texas band The Sword are the new hip Heavy Metal kids on the block. With a sound that is inspired by bands like Pantera, Slayer and The Zep they are certainly loud. Here is their video for the single 'Winter Wolves'.


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16
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Nuggets from our archive

2003 - Witnness 2003, a comprehensive review by Brian Kelly of the 2 days of what transpired to be the last ever Witnness festival (in 2004 it was rebranded as Oxegen when Heineken stepped into the sponsor shoes).