Shimura Curves

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Organ (Or The Lack Thereof)

I was surprised on my morning commute, to find an interview with The Organ in Metro. Now I like The Organ, they have a particularly choice line in that same sort of post-Smiths landscape that band like Luxembourgh (who I saw last night, hurrah) inhabit. However, The Organ have the distinction of actually *being* female, rather than homosexual or feminine-identitified male.

There are so many ways in which the interviewer could have addressed this, but no! They pulled out the tired old question - "So how does it feel to be female in the music industry?" question. If I'd sold a record for every time I'd been asked that question, my god, I'd be on TOTP.

What irritates me about is not the desire to relate gender to music and approaches to music, which is actually a quite interesting and valid question. What irritates me is the way that this question just *assumes* that it is somehow normative to be male in the music industry - especially the "indie" portions thereof - and that it treats females like some kind of curiosity or aberration solely because of their sex. Find other questions, please. My answer has become "Well, firstly, the main difference is that men never get asked what it's like to be a *boy* in the music industry."

Lyrics bang around in my head, but I can't write the song because I'm at work:

My gender is not an agenda
Is is simply who I am
My gender is not an agenda
There is no master plan

And then it turned into another song, but it popped like a bubble when I walked into work. I was dissing other indie bands, it was great. Very rough work in progress which will probably never see the light of day, but I just want to get it down. I hate indie. I hate masculine preconceptions of music. I hate indie rock boys who hate themselves for being "popular". The same old themes.

Charlie Simpson, Graham Coxon, suck my dick
...And I don't even have a dick
Your priviliged indie purist world
You know it makes me fucking sick

I want your mother to like my songs
And your little sister, too
Shaggy boys with your shaggy preconceptions
You're good for nothing (unless you're here to screw)

Four skinny rock boys, all on a stage
I must admit, you do something to my heart
But your tired tunes and your hackneyed attitudes
I've got no time for your "art"

Anyway, I've got to go analyse some data or something. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Watch Out There's Elephants On The Dancefloor...

So, even though I got stuck at work until 9.30, it seems that Elephants got a work out during Matt DC's Lovelife Set on Monday.

Rock on!

Now back to work hell, already in progress...

Monday, March 27, 2006

They Say It's Your Birthday

Ohmigod, so it's my birthday in TWO WEEKS. How did it sneak up on me like that?

So it's been a tradition every year for as long as I can remember (well, except that one rubbish year that my horrible ex boyfriend booking his sodding ART OPENING for my birthday) that I have a massive f*ck-off party or event or something.

This year the party is on Sunday, 9th April, 7pm to 10pm (and we MEAN IT with those times). The Shims will be playing a guerilla gig/art party/event/doo at a cool studio/space (In Case Of Emergency) in London Fields.

Entry will be by donation. There will be a bar where you can purchase drinks, but you are free to BYOB as long as you're cool about it.

Email Me for details, as it's very exclusive, sweetie darling.

(The invite to the very first mega birthday bash I ever held. Do not bother stalking me at this location, none of my family have lived there in years.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Life Is Now Complete

Two words: PAISLEY SOCKS!!!

I now own three pairs. Black, fuchsia, and lime. Oh yes.

Some Records What I Bought

Signs that you are getting old, number one:

You go a hip, cool, indie record shop (OK, Rough Trade in Covent Garden) and you get so confused by the classification system (what genre is it? I don't know! Post Rock? Shoegazing? Tweelectronica? Avant-Finnish Experimentalism? I've not a clue! I don't know what label they're on! On what country they're from! I know the name of the band because I heard them at some club, and THAT IS ALL) that you run straight for the nearest HMV. I know they're evil, but you know what? Black Mountain were just under "B" where you would expect them to be.

Anyway, I was in a Bad Mood yesterday when I took them home to listen to them. So these thoughts may change.

Clearlake - Amber. Well, it's very dark, this one. Clearlake were always about miserablism fighting with hope, and the hope breaking through like cloudbursts in a sunset. Now the miserablism seems to have won. But I'm sure it will grow on me, as all Clearlake albums have grown on me.

Black Mountain - S/T. It took me about 3 songs before I just had to take it off again. I was expecting dark slabs of sheer sound. I got wibbling stoner dross that provides the best argument yet against the legalisation of cannabis.

The Knife - Silent Shout. I like The Knife, but this just grated and I had to take it off. The slowed down boy and sped up girl vocals just annoyed me. I shall listen to it again when I'm in a more silly bouncy mood. The 6 minute track about 4 songs in showed potential, but I was in too bad a mood to appreciate it.

Kate Bush - The Hounds of Love. Now I've had a long relationship with Kate Bush. I've HATED her for about 20 years. First off - I irrationally hate anyone with the same name as me. (See also that Moss twit.) Second - god, those annoying FACES she used to pull in her videos, that slightly stoned, one too many cups of chamomille tea expression with the over-wide eyes and the puffed out pouty lips. That annoying FISH HEAD DANCE she still does. (OK, when Kristin Hersch does the Fish Head Dance, it's cool. When Kate Bush does it, it's punchable.) Third - ARGH, ARGH, THAT GODDAMN HORRIBLE 80S LINNDRUM PROGRAMMING, ARGH, MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOP!!!

However, in the mood I was in, this album was perfect. I was actually cooking for the first three songs so I couldn't really hear them over the hood fan, but once you get past the annoying, overplayed HITZ, this album descends into totally bonkers prog-folk-fairytale nonsense. It's GRATE!!! There's snatches of Celtic harmonies, choirs, is-that-the-cat noises, weird synths and haunted English country house tales of kelpies trapped under the ice and sailor-swallowing tempests and the sort of EVIL proper fairy tale (and I don't mean Disnified fairy tale) creatures that only exist in Arthur Rackham paintings.

I'm sorry. This review is 20 years late, but better late than never. Now my only problem is not to listen to it too *much* to the point where it starts to influence me or my work. That would be bad.

Engineers - S/T. Not what I was expecting, either. I saw them last year at Sonic Cathedrals and they absolutely flattenned us, a howling gale of guitar so dense that you could barely stand up straight in the onslaught. The album is quieter, for a start. Without the volume, you can actually hear the layering, the psychedelic texture and harmony. Thick and gooey like treacle pudding with custard, or mid period Pink Floyd. And I mean that in the best possible way.

I also bought:

Cocteau Twins - Lullabies to Violane, Volume 1. Because I missed the box set. And also, you don't really need the rubbish second disc, do you?

Right, that's my blogging done. I'm off to buy some PAISLEY SOCKS. Oh yes. My life will not be complete until I own a pair of PAISLEY SOCKS.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bad Mood

I'm in a bad mood today. For a hundred different reasons. If you don't like the Emo Posts, don't read this.

First and foremost, I've realised that I've unintentionally taken myself off SSRIs for about 5 days. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I never intended to stay on them forever. But it does mean that I'm having a week or two of bad mood, horribly vivid dreams, headaches, digestive problems, just like the side effects I seemed to have when I first started them. Last night, in dreams I was killed in two nuclear strikes, got sacked from my job, and lost in the Southern Train Network and bannished to Maidstone. At least it makes a change from the NY Subway nightmare.

My best friend in NYC has actually just been sacked from her job, due to horrible office politics. I feel so powerless. All the times that I got sacked from various temp jobs, she was always there for me, comforted me, spotted me the rent when I couldn't make it. And I feel like I can do nothing except tell her that she will find a much, much better one. I mean, no matter how frustrated I get with my own job, I am aware that mostly it's good, challenging and I am well appreciated, both in person and monetarily. (Both of these things are important - especially when the owner of the company sees you sobbing at your desk, and comes over to pat you on the back and tell you to GO HOME and have a hot bath and a bottle of wine.)

I'm wound up by the internet community I belong to. It's not bad enough that I've become the repeated victim of "ugly and excessive" harrassment by some little twerp, simply for the unspeakable sins of being female and over the age of 30. It's my own little corner of the world, the Watercooler Threads, which seem to have been the victim of their own success. I got so frustrated with the nastiness and horribleness on most of ILX that I retreated. It's like you go to a party, and everyone is in the living room, shouting and arguing and fighting till you can't even hear yourself think, let alone enjoy yourself.

So you go in the kitchen, and make a cup of tea. And either one or two people come in and you chat quietly, or else if no one else is there, you sit and talk to yourself. And suddenly everyone notices that you're having a better time in the kitchen and next thing you know, EVERYONE is in the kitchen, shouting and arguing and doing all the things you went in the kitchen to get away from.

And if you complain about this, everyone starts whinging about democracy, and saying "ooh, thread starters can't dictate where threads go" and you just want to stand up like John Malkovitch and shout "BUT IT'S MY HEAD!!!!"

Anyway, I guess I should stay off the interweb today and just try on concentrate on actually getting some work done for a change, instead of bashing my head repeatedly against a computer system that Will. Not. Work.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

To The Manor Born

Errr... yes, I could definitely get used to this.

This weekend, the Psychogeographical Walking Society visited Penshurst Place, in Kent - a stately home I have wanted to visit since the first time I read Mark Girouard. It's even more beautiful than the photos in the book, if that's possible.

Why can't I live here? Surely they could let me just have a little corner of a turret, and be Composer In Residence for the summer. They'd barely notice me, surely.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ah Yes, The Tesseract

We found this on Anna's coffee table when we went to rehearse on Saturday afternoon. (Well, the tesseract bit, at least. Marianna cleverly made the bamboo logo.)

A tesseract (three dimensional shadow of a four dimensional cube) made from bamboo skewers and blueberries.

Also, we drank loads of pink wine (funny how, after you give up for a while, you can get drunk on a glass and a half) and watched Starshaped, arguing over who the hottest member of Blur was, then progressed on to The Mighty Boosh and Black Books. I'm now completely in love with Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) from Black Books. I mean, yes, he is like the bookish, intellectual equivalent of Pete Doherty, but still. He is undeniably hott. Also, I am going to start following his customer service policy in my own job.

Oh, and speaking of HOTT boys, in the midst of this, I somehow managed to find my way up to Archway to show the Luxemboys the artwork I'd done for their fantastic upcoming single (We Only Stayed Together For The Kids). They loved it, and asked me to do some artwork for their album. Hurrah!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Wig Wam (not Welsh Folk version)

Errrr... blimey. Seldom has a band made me doubt my sexuality so thoroughly. Do I want to sleep with one of them? Or *be* one of them? Or both with both? I'm confused and need to lie down. I have yet to hear a note of the song, but have no doubt in its brilliance, even if it is conceptual brilliance.

However, it's funny that they're called Wigwam. Frances (ex-Shimura) used to be in a Welsh Folk band called Wigwam, that I panned so thoroughly in a long-forgotten review (What did they expect? They were playing a spacerock night! They were not spacerock or dronerock!) that she nearly never spoke to me. Until we met properly, DJ-ing at a Careless Talk night when no one else was sober enough to find the decks, let alone DJ. But that's another story.

This is about Alex James. Who I've had a massive crush on since the first time I even heard Blur. Which was, coincidentally, in a parking lot of a supermarket in Manchester, Vermont, sitting on the bonnet of my mother's car with Dare, in the midst of a mad amphetamine-induced quest to find the Dreaming Spire From The World Of Death (also known as the WEQX radio transmitter). The song was Bang and it was a deary, bell-end of baggy shuffle, but it featured the most manic, rolling, disco BASS I'd heard since Bauhaus (or possibly even Duran Duran). I was in love.

And then I actually read some interviews with Alex, and he was fond of lapsing surreal about French cheese and Andre Gide novels and astronomy and particle physics, and wrote songs about Planets. I invented a fake fanclub, called the AJSAS, based in equal parts on female hysteria and 18th Century Secret Societies. We spanned the globe, disrupting Blur concerts with chants of "Tabitha's Island!" I even wrote (oh the shame) a Fan Fiction epic (The Deep Field/Loving In A World Of Desire) which ran for about 5 years and chalked up something like 100,000 readers in that time.

Alex collaborated with Damien Hirst, sent probes to Mars, learned to fly a plane (you all know the story about how my desire to fly a plane turned me into a programmer) and now he lives in a country manor and writes columns for Country Life. Oh yeah, and he does all this while maintaining the best haircut in pop. In short, he IS MY IDEAL MAN!!!!

This had a point at some time, but now I can't remember it.

Oh yeah, something about how I thought I had totally lost interest in sex, and men, and relationships, and all that rubbish. But not, perhaps, while Alex James exists. Swoon.

What Synthesizer Are You?

what synthesizer are you?

You are a MiniMoog-Everyone wants you-You are very popular-You have a vintage look and unique personality-You are loved by indie rockers the world over-You are a leader and always get the melody
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |
Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Hurrah! I am immensely looking forward to seeing what Dr. W and AMPy get!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Simon Singh v. Katie Melua: FITE!

God, I love Simon Singh!

OK, like you can't tell that from the fact that we named our band after something in one of his books. But still.

I wonder if I write him really nicely, and tell him that, if he will check all the maths and the physics in our songs, and rewrite them if necessary.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Crush Of Shame

Oh dear lord, I'm going to see Carlos Barat's new band tonight. (I've got no idea how to make the blogspot do the little carat thing, sorry.)

The shameful things that lust induces me to do.

I'm so not dressed for this. However, maybe I can hold my copy of i-D in front of me, open, and announce "No, really! I *AM* a fashion model - I normally look like this!"


Yeah, so this didn't happen in the end. We went to the Coal Hole and ate chips and cheese instead.

Ah well, it means I never have to relinquish my fantasy that he was the *talented* one in that band, and that if only he could get rid of the evil junkie, then he would be revealed in all his glorious fabulousness, and they're really secretly great... la la la la la laaaa...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


So, it looks like the i-D issue with us in it is finally out this week. Hurrah! I still can't really get my head around it.

I've finally been writing new songs, again, though. I didn't really have a choice - the song followed me around Sainsburys and wouldn't leave me alone, beating at my head until I dragged out the MIDI keyboard and sketched it out in Reason.

See, I've been reading a fantastic book about infinities. One of the things it was talking about was the quest for the Grand Unification Theory, and one of the challenges has been that every time people try to recconcile various forces, niggling infinities pop up in the mathematical formulas. Now, the physicist's view on this is that the equations must be wrong because infinities cannot exist in the physical universe. And the infinities aren't real, they are just artefacts of a clumbsy approximation of a reality that can be more finely tuned by better maths and more exact theories. Hence why superstrings are great for the GUT, because being wobbly vibrating strings, they avoid the messy maths brought about by the points and lines of conventional particle-wave conceptions of energy. (This is a vast oversimplification, I know, and if any physicists, e.g. my Dad, want to correct me, please go right ahead.)

So, swinging my shopping bag as I strolled across Streatham Common, I thought, what if infinities weren't just mathematical artefacts, but real things, and our puny human BRANES just weren't equipped to cope? (This is the view that some historical mathematicians have come up with as an explanation for God.) So I started singing:

I'm not afraid of infinities
Of Mathemat...
...ical simplicity!

Pretty clever, huh? Tom Lehrer would be proud.

Anyway, so the song kept expanding, more and more couplets writing themselves, taking in electricity and gravity and strong and weak nuclear force, but then a pesky singularity turned up and I found my silly lyrics sucked into its event horizon and next thing I knew, it turned out to be a song about a poor mathematician being sucked into a black hole, and she was really singing about the GUT to cheer herself up and make herself less afraid because maths would protect her.

Plus, when I started writing a guitar riff to go with it, it suddenly turned into "Rock N Roll" by the Velvet Underground. I have got to curtail those kinds of impulses, or else I'll just start singing "Katie said when she was just five years old, there was nothing going on at all. Till one fine morning, she picked up a Stephen Hawking book, she couldn't believe what she read at all. She started dancing to that fine, fine maths, you know, her life was saved by superstring theory."

I don't know. It might make a pretty cool video, though.