Shimura Curves

Monday, June 26, 2006

Vicki Churchill's Photos

Official portraits, y'all!

Society Girls:


Das Fraulein Maschine:



T Minus Lezzing Up: 5... 4... 3... 2...

In Flux

Hurrah, we've been MP3-blogged on the amazing and wonderful Fluxblog and new Swedish MP3 blog of Oskar Lin.

Life is good!

Thanks to those of you who came out last night. We apologise for the Ruin.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rip It Up And Start Again

The more you try to not talk about something, or not think about something, the more it rises up to consume your waking and sleeping thoughts and turns into thoughtworms and rises up and chokes you.

I've been coming under increasing pressure from bandmates and management not to talk about personal stuff on this blog, not to express my own personal opinions on a site which bears the whole band's name - essentially not to shoot my mouth off in a way which could negatively affect of compromise the band.

Fair enough. My personal thoughts and experiences will be moving to Masonic Boom while this blog will be saved only for the most banal and non-controversial posts of band news and gigs and the like.

I sincerely hope that my Koffee Kvetch Krew will join me there.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

RIP, TOTP

Well, that's one lifelong dream I'm never going to be able to acheive now. After 42 years, the BBC is pulling the plug on Top Of The Pops.

I'm going to go to my grave never even having had the chance to go on TOTP.

This makes me almost unspeakably sad. The end of an institution. The death of a dream.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good Feeling

Single Cover Proof

Well, one fear allayed. The cover proof looks great. (Please click to see photo, as the shrinky one looks kinda weird and pixilated, stupid blogger.)

The Worst Tarot Reading I've Ever Had

So I was actually going to come in today and post a positive blog entry, all about how I'd been to a great gig on Friday, and then gone to a great party on Saturday, and all about the interesting conversation I had with Galia and Pil about the dialogue between art and commerce (one of the first people I've talked to who actually had interesting things to say about the conflict between Indie and Pop which wasn't the usual sexist drivel) but instead I'm all bent out of shape.

It sucks to feel like you're being taken advantage of. It sucks feeling like someone is repeatedly violating your trust, and disrespecting you and your rights by continually not asking or obtaining consent for the simplest things. Consent, legal or otherwise, is such a tricky thing. It's the difference between sex and rape. It's the difference between a collaboration and a theft.

It especially sucks when it is in the course of a business relationship that you felt... cautious about from the very beginning. It feels like every single negative gut reaction is being confirmed. It makes me feel less and less comfortable with a decision I feel was forced upon me.

So, like the post-Jungian hippie chick I am, I did a tarot reading. And it's the worst reading I've ever seen. The Tower, the Ten of Swords and even Death. (Yes, I know it's usually a positive card, but not in conjuction with those other two.)

The first card, the significator, is placed in the center of the cross. This card represents the prime energy manifest in your life. Ten of Swords (Ruin): Crushing defeat brought about by idle intellectualism divorced from reality. Sadness and desolation in the aftermath of a catastrophic and total collapse. A decisive conclusion brought about through the swift and merciless application of overwhelming force.

The second card, placed above the significator, represents Air. It describes your spirit, process of thought, and the influence of reason. Three of Swords (Sorrow): Unsettling news leading to heartbreak or loneliness. Tactless or hurtful words. Acting without consideration for the emotions of others. Betrayal of trust or confidence. The revelation of a painful truth.

The third card, placed to the right of the significator, represents Fire. It describes your motivations, creative energies, and the influence of passion. The Lovers: A caring and trusting relationship. Beauty and inner harmony. A decision calling for emotional control and faithfulness to spiritual values.

The fourth card, placed below the significator, represents Water. It describes your emotions, meditations, and the influence of love. King of Cups: The essence of water behaving as air, such as a billowing cloud in the blue sky: Great maturity, endless patience, tolerance of other points of view, and a deep knowledge of human nature. One who intuitively knows the strengths of those around him, and gently cultivates them. Remaining calm and relaxed in all situations, and making artful use of diplomacy or a quiet word to resolve conflicts. The ability to listen to what another person is saying, and truly understand what is in their heart. A rewarding partner and a beloved leader.

The fifth card, placed to the left of the significator represents Earth. It describes your physical presence, position in life, and the influence of the material world. The Tower: Unforeseen catastrophe. An abrupt change, perhaps leading to a new lifestyle and enlightenment. May indicate a broken relationship, divorce, or failure in business or career.

At this point the cross is complete and the triangle is formed. The sixth card, placed on the bottom left of the triangle represents one of two opposing forces. Judgement: A swift and conclusive decision. The resolution of a matter long unanswered. A change in point of view, most frequently towards greater enlightenment. Final balancing of karma.

The seventh card, placed on the bottom right of the triangle represents the force that opposes the bottom left card. These forces may be external, but they are frequently one's own inner archetypes in conflict. Death: A major change or transformation, possibly traumatic and unexpected. Freedom from the shackles of the past. A new beginning. Death coupled with rebirth, usually related to consciousness and lifestyle.

The eighth card, the reconciler, is placed below the cross in the third vertex of the triangle. This is the force that will resolve the conflict between the bottom left and bottom right cards. By meditating on this force and bringing more of it into your life, you can bring the matter at hand to a swifter conclusion than would naturally occur. Knight of Cups: The essence of water behaving as fire, such as a rushing river: A passionate romantic, full of charm and beauty, but prone to extremes. Forceful idealism blended with gentle kindness. An eager and intense person, forward with their emotions and tender in their support of others.

The ninth and final card, placed in the center bottom of the triangle, represents the final outcome unless you change course. Four of Swords (Truce): A time of tranquility and intellectual repose in the midst of a great struggle. A temporary retreat from stress to regather inner strength, reaffirm convictions, reorganize thoughts, and formulate a new plan. The need for vigilance in a moment of calm. May suggest a withdrawal from the material world to find spiritual guidance.


Withdrawl from the material world to regather inner strength. Maybe I need this, because right now I don't want to do any of it. Not this gig this weekend, not the single, not Truck, not anything.

Friday, June 16, 2006

You're Just Lonely... (and it feels like those around want you to die)

Emo, emo, emo post today.

Just been going through another attack of the isolations and the alienations. No particular reason. Just triggered on Tuesday night, by a casual remark that it had been "three months since I last got laid" and the realisation that that makes me kind of... well, funny. The three month mark is where you really start to doubt that you'll ever be in a relationship, or even be randomly fancied ever again. Once you get past six months, it's fine again, it's like a part of your hormonal system just shuts down.

And mostly I'm annoyed with myself, because despite my protestations that I don't need or even want a relationship, I still get those cravings. Not even for sex, but just for the skin hunger. The desire to be held and be holding someone. (Odd, considering my phobia of being touched.) A physical desire, concentrated around the shoulders and the arms, and maybe even the lips - though a wineglass is a poor substitute for a kiss. (Love is like a bottle of gin, but a bottle of gin is not like love.)

It's not helped by the sense that the entire country world seems to be caught up in the twin terrors of That Football Thing and That Reality Programme Thing. So online conversation becomes intensely limited, and it's weird walking through the deserted streets of London feeling like the only person not in the pub shouting at a bunch of overpaid prize steers chasing a black and white ball around a field. Bah.

Been reading again, because it's too hot to do anything else. (Can't even write at the moment, because the laptop just feels like hot coals on my thighs.) Finally finished Charles Fort, slightly disappointed because after his giant lists of anomolies and strangeness, he never seemed to reach a conclusion. The book just ended, after the giant luminescent jellyfish/spaceships in the Gulf. And I'm not sure I understood about his whole philosophical trip. Though it would sound good recited over psychedelic tracks with loads of reverb... heh heh. (I really need to start that heavy, heavy spacerock side project. Though who on earth with?)

Bought a load of popular science books from Blackwells. A book about Hyperspace and transdimensionality by a Japanese mathematician, which looks right up my alley. And Roger Penrose's newer book about consciousness. But instead of diving in, I'm taking a break from all that "masculinity" (I got mistaken for a boy on another messageboard, wah!) by reading The Female Eunuch. I'm not sure if this will cheer me up or make me feel worse.

And now I'm going to put on my headphones, listen to a load of TSM B-sides and Comets On Fire and Boris, and try to get some work done. And not think about the chasm of the weekend yawning ahead. Though I had completely forgotten - I was invited to a Cocktail Party at The Lex's tomorrow night. Can't get too trashed, though, as I'm supposed to be doing the Luxembourg album artwork this weekend. Do no forget!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What Song Do You Want Played At Your Funeral?

Wishin' I was skinny
Wishin' that the whole world knew my name
Wishin' I was thrillin',
That I would never be to blame,
Wishin' I was kissin' a girl with lips smooth as pearl,
Wishin' I was pretty,
Wish that I could twist the world round my finger,
Wishin' I had money
Wishin' for the time to spend it all,
Wish that I could wrap the world round my finger,
(but I would always love you,
I guess that would never change.)

-The Boo Radleys

Monday, June 12, 2006

Shimura Frocks



Hot, sweaty rehearsal at the weekend, with the sun chasing us across the living room, but we were all wearing pretty summer frocks to beat the heat. Ate ice cream and drank vanilla vodka floats and worked on new songs, which are sounding really, really good. Hurrah!

Artistic differences are funny. I needed to use AMPy's 'puter to listen to the School of Seven Bells stuff because I've not got sound on my computer at work. And about two minutes in, AMP is all "ugh, turn this droney shit off" which annoyed me because I was liking it in a spooky Opal/Espers sort of way, and then she put on "Here I Go Again On My Own" which is, like, the most played song on her iTunes (no, really, I lie - The Postal Service's Phil Collins cover is, like gag me with an emo haircut!) which had me going all "Ack! Ack! Get this fist-pumping soft rock crap off!" But then she messaged me at, like, midnight last night to tell me that Girls Aloud is, like the Best! Thing! Ever! and now she does want to do a mathsrock cover of "Wake Me Up" so everything is groovy that ends groovy. Yeah.

The single is finally finished and (hopefully) turned in. There comes a point where you just have to let it go, and stop working on it. My former art teacher used to tell me "You get a painting to the point where you think it's just ALMOST done, and then you step away from it and call it done." I'm just sick of the sound of it at this point, and never want to hear it again. But hopefully it'll be done in time for Truck now.

Good to rehearse and feel good about the band again, when it all comes together and we sound good. I get so wrapped up in writing and recording and mixing, and start to feel vaguely resentful, like I'm the dogsbody that has to do all the work while everybody else runs around getting laid off the back of it and I never do. :-( Bah. But then I was reading interviews with Xenomania and I decided that in the back room with the boffins was where I'd much rather be.

...and then yesterday was one of those gorgeous days when I didn't have to do ANYTHING. I went to the laundrette super early, then put all my clothes out to dry in the sun, and just lay on the sofa listening to music and writing. And it's moments like those when, despite my whinging about missing "the smell of a boy" that I realise I don't want a boyfriend. I like my freedom. I like being able to go out when I like, and stay home when I like, and not worry about someone else. I tried Noyfriending for a bit earlier this year, but I just didn't see the point. If I wasn't even that into someone to rearrange my schedule to include them, what was the point?

So I write my way through it. This is what I've always done. I was talking to Mela about creativity after a weird exchange on TSM board. I started writing "stories" at the age of 22 (the first time) after the massive nervous breakdown that landed me in jail, rehab, then a mental hospital in quick succession. It wasn't just fantasy and projection, it was a way of trying to work through emotional things I couldn't deal with, in a symbolic setting removed from the situations which were tearing me apart. I've done it ever since, really as a way of "digesting" events I couldn't control or handle. I discovered later that this was what writers like Andre Gide did, they invented a fictional version of themselves in order to explore or kill off aspects of themselves they found harmful.

I always thought this was good for you, both creatively and psychologically, rather than letting it built up and explode and destroy your life. But every now and then I wonder, when your rich fictional life seems more... *real* to you than your real life. Is there a point where literary escapism actually hurts you on an emotional level? I don't mean on that genuinely psycho level where you think your fantasies are real. (I know that it's fiction and have no desire for it to be otherwise.) But I do worry that spending so much time in a world that I have total control over may not actually help me deal with actual IRL friends who are *not* just puppets in a novel I'm writing.

(Though that brings up another kettle of fish - how much *do* you have absolute control over your characters in a novel? Sometimes they're more like children. You give birth to them and you shape them, but sometimes they behave in unpredicable ways that aren't necessarily what your fantasy would have been. When Mela asked "Do you ever write anything that scares you? or think 'whoa, where did that come from'?" my answer is a resounding yes.)

But I suppose, as they say - if you're still worried about losing your sanity, then you are probably still sane. (I've been mad. It doesn't feel like madness. It feels like some kind of preternatural *sense*.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Das Is Nicht Meine Noyfriend...

DAS IS MEINE NEUFRIEND!!!



This picture makes me feel funny all over.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mix Me, Baby

So today, instead of a totally gratuitous picture of Benjamin Curtis, we're going to have a totally gratuitous picture of Ron Asheton.



I finally had a day off yesterday, but instead of sitting in the sun or doing my laundry or anything like that, I spent the day recording guitar tracks and then mixing a final version of Stronger.

I'd been listening to nothing but dronerock and spacerock for weeks. That morning, I was listening to Ron's fine wah-work on the first Stooges record, and chuckling over an interview with Iggy Pop about the mixing of "Raw Power" where he was talking about how it was like a Spinal Tap skit, where he was going "Every channel is up in the red except that one - can we get that one up in the red too?" And I was on the verge of turning Shimura Curves into a full-on Stooges tribute band, when my eyes happened up The Lex's article about Girls Aloud in Plan B.

And he just succinctly managed to encapsulate everything I loved about pop, about bubblgum, about girl groups (especially when contrasted with the indie "oh, bubblegum is so manufactured, you're just pretending to like it" bonehead across the page) that I immediately ran to Woolworths and bought both What Will The Neighbours Say and Chemistry. Yes! Yes! Yes! Soon I was bouncing around the flat like a demented feret to the gorgous tremoloed, phased out guitar riff Wake Me Up and texting the other Shimuras going "See! See! GA are Spacerock after all!"

Anyway, ha-hem. Yes.

Mixing. I hate mixing. No, I have a love/hate relationship with mixing. I'm totally compulsive about it, and can't let anyone else do it, and have to do it until it's done and everything is perfect, but really, it does my head in. Picking through 10 different channels of vocals trying to figure out which exactly one is peaking out on the "F" of "I found out all along..."

::bashes head against mixing desk::

::quickly rushes to repair minute adjustments to EQs ruined by repeated head bashing::

I put on 3 tracks of overlaid pedal madness on the guitar solo of Stronger, dragging out every distortion pedal I owned until it was just ridiculous, over the top, errupting from the top of the track like an ejaculation distortion. Oh yeah, that's what I like. (Though curiously, it wasn't that that peaked out, it was the sodding vocals! Stop singing from the tits, girls!)

Lots of editing to get the vocals even. And 5 different layers of guitar for Mother. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, sometimes. All these little bits that you know go together, and have to fit in somehow, but trying to get them recorded at levels that don't fry your motherboard and then all in the right place is like some complicated mathematical proof where a mistake in one figure or to much treble on the snare can bring the entire thing crashing down. (Sorry, Benjamin Curtis again: "We kind of think of these first songs like your thesis. You kind of put it out there, and then the rest of the record you spend your time proving it.")

But yeah. I think it's done. Only one or two tiny peaks of about +.03dB but I don't think that's going to tear any holes in the vinyl during the mastering process. Now I just have to listen to it on about eight different stereos to make sure it works.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

She's A Model And She's Looking Good

Ah, so there's nothing like snapshots to make you totally lose your confidence when you thought you were looking kinda OK from the actual posed photos, but then in the candid pics you just look like a big fat lug with loads of double chins...

Ah well, glory in how nice my pedals look. (Oh yes, and Marianna twirling in the background)



I've come to the conclusion that my band would actually look better if I wasn't in them... I mean, you've got these sassy chiX0rs...



...and then you've got me looking like a big lump. Sigh.



My hair is *so* turning ginger, too.

Yeah. So. Photoshoot on Sunday. I wasn't in the best of moods to start with, having got up at the crack of dawn and dragged myself plus a load of equipment all the way up Archway, only to find out that rehearsal is cancelled and I've got to drag all that equipment back down the hill. Grrrrrr.

Ah well. The studio was beautiful, it was a Proper Photographic Studio with lights and big mirrors and ironing boards and changing rooms with superhot but superglamourous makeup lights. Kinda scary. That's why we're wearing so much slap that looks a bit cheap in outdoor/candid shots but looks great in the actual photos.

It was interesting to see the behind-the-scenes stuff - just how much setup goes into a professional photo shoot, lights and white boards and lighting tests and all that. And Vicki Churchill was fantastic, giving us lots of helpful hints and directions about posing. (She taught us the Heat Magazine pose, which is a guaranteed double chin reducer. Phew!) Unfortunately, this means I am looking over the top of my glasses in all shots - this is for glare elimination, not because I've got some Sexy Librarian thing going on.

We took some Rock Chick poses (where Anna was channeling Shirley Manson). Then we took some cocktail party poses with Tim Ten Yen (where AMP was channelling Jackie O). Then we took some silly shoegazer poses with my pedals (god, I hope those come out) where I thought I was channelling Kevin Sheilds but Brainlove started singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" grrrrrrr. Then we took some red and black photos (where Marianna was channelling Jayne Mansfield) but by that time, we were all pretty drunk and started lezzing up, feeling each others' tits up and grabbing each other and stuffs - photos we can never use because of err... nipple issues.

It's hard work. No, *really* - it's actually physically quite demanding, striking quite unnatural poses and holding them for 20 minutes at a time while they check the lights and stuff. I've been sore for two days, and would have been worse had it not been for fabulous massage given by Official Band Sister, Lisa.

Poor Vicki - she gave up trying to tell Anna and Marianna and AnneMarie apart and just started referring to us by outfit and hair colour. Not a good day for my fear of turning ginger... I was SURROUNDED by them! At one point, I was standing with two of my ginger bandmates, ginger manager, and then Vicki - also ginger - turned around and I SWEAR TO GOD growled at me. HELP! I think it's catchy.

Anyway, I can't wait to see the finished results.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Chicks Dig Bass


An interweb friend of mine said that he would burn me a disc of some SUNN0))) rarities and stuff - little was I expecting TEN DVD-Rs OF DRONEY GOODNESS!!! It's like the Alexandrian Library of drone bands I've heard of, but haven't heard in years, and things I've heard of but never heard, and some stuff I've never even heard of. It's going to take me months to work my way through it, but oh, what funs await.

I listened to two SUNN0))) albums in a row last night, and yeah, I can't be cool and say I've been into them from the start, I've only just started getting into them because the whole Death Metal capes thing put me off. But no, this isn't Art Metal or whatever you want to call it, this is DRONE at its very purest, drone stripped bare down the WUB and the bass vibrations. I had to program a whole new EQ setting on my iTunes in order to properly enjoy it - but still, it just made me wish I had a decent stereo - indeed, any stereo with proper bassbins. My poor neighbours.

I've had this conversation at Morgen und Nite gigs, though... about extreme sound, especially extreme bass. High end too loud is just horrible, tinny and headache-inducing. But full-spectrum bass-heavy wall of sound... there's something so envelopping, so soothing about it. You just want to lie back in the sound and let it wash over you, let it hold you up and support you.

And this shit is as much about the bass as disco or booty-bass or whatever. Low end. Big bottomed girls. Like someone decided to cover "Dreamweapon" solely on bass (no guitars, no drums, no vocals, no distractions, just pure bass drone) and then play it at the wrong speed - 17rpm or something. Monster bass. Gargantuan bass. Bass strings the length of the cables that hold up the Brooklyn Bridge.

Why do GURLZ like bass so much? There was a thread on ILM a while ago, about why there are so many female bass players. I mean, ignoring the obvious stereotype (guitarist or singer decides to start a band - get your bro or your mate to play drums. Who's gonna play the bass? Oh yeah, get yer girlfriend to do it.) LOTS of girls play bass as their perferred instrument.

We started joking about how it's because the actual physical motion of playing the bass (stroking with your fingers) mimicks female masturbation like the left hand work of guitar solos mimics male wanking. Or maybe it's the way that bass vibrations ha-HEM resonate with the feminine AREA. (I mean, who hasn't sat on a spinning washing machine or a bass bin at a club when horny/hard up?) Probably it's more about the way that the bass is the glue that holds music together, but me? I think it's about the bass vibrations. Oh yeah.