My stunning singer cousin, Jem Cooke, in session

Big up for my cousin Jem who just came out of the studio where she sang and recorded 16 songs in front of video cameras to promote her talents on You Tube.

“It’s bluesy-smokey pop with a vocal that draws on the sensual laments of Dusty Springfield”

While her music is not a style I usually choose to listen to, her amazing voice is worth checking out and she’s not bad to look at either 😉 !

You can hear more of Jem’s music on her Myspace page Jem Cooke.

Tunng Bullets video

I seem to be only posting video these days… I’m not quite sure why except that I keep coming across good stuff! So what I suggest is that you watch this video while you have the Four Eyed Monsters video I posted about below/before loading in another tab. This Tunng video is wonderful and hilarious. The bundle of stuff floating through space somehow seems to sum up Tunng’s music, and the way it is animated to the sound fits perfectly. I love Becky’s leg movements sticking out of the planet of Tunng, in fact, all of the various Tunng members are sticking out of the planet in some way or another… brilliant! Best of Haines’ Tunng videos so far, I’d say.

Sound installation St Augustine’s Tower, Hackney

St Augustines Tower Alex Baker has a sculptural sound installation in our local clock tower on Mare Street in Hackney, St Augustine’s Tower. It is absolutely magical, to go into this space and experience it with the sound work. There is a reciprocal relationship where I think both the art and the tower gain a great deal from having the other around it. For the piece, titled A Recurring Sequence of Events, Alex has installed 72 speakers throughout the tower which are playing in a recurring ‘sequence’ of notes, which is controlled by a sculpural-audio-amplifying set up in the top of the tower. If you are in in Hackney you absolutely must take this opportunity to check out the tower, or go back if you have been in before, if you are in London anywhere else, then this is a really good reason to come visit us here in Hackney! You can get in there every weekend afternoon until the 14th October, but check out Alex’s website below for exact times.
More information on Alex Baker’s A Recurring Sequence of Events site-specific sound installation.

Cat Power and the Dirty Delta Blues

Catpower and the Dirty Delta Blues
I went to see Cat Power playing with her new ensemble, the Dirty Delta Blues, at The Forum at the beginning of May. Cat Power AKA Chan Marshall has ditched her trademark heavy fringe for a completely different look, bizarrely, kinda like Sporty Spice or Lady Sovereign: hair pulled hard back from her face into a high ponytail (see photo on Flickr). She played a fantastic set, and then some, but I have to confess I was not as moved as I had hoped to be. From the spine-tingling music I have heard by Cat Power in session or on album, I came expecting a night covered in goose bumps, but found instead that I was warmly impressed at her musical skill rather than shivering at the passionate beauty of it all.
More photos from Cat Power at The Forum on May 1st

Tunng gig at the Purcell Room

Tunng on stage at the Purcell Room
My first time seeing Tunng live, their 100th gig, (Meg’s 5th time seeing them so a good percentage for her) and it was absolutely incredible (now i know why Meg keeps going back!). Since they were recommended to me not long ago, if I haven’t been looking them up (their website has some good links to video clips etc) I’ve been coming across them everywhere. In their media appearances they’re being really branded in the folk camp…
Tunng at Green Man in 2005 video
… and yet they are so much more: heavy electro beats lay the ground for this folkish guitar lead narrative, with 4 of them lending their various (1 female, 3 male) gorgeous vocal sounds and a rich and diverse texture of percussion. But not necessarily narrative – they opened the show with a 5 minute ‘drumming session’, not that there was even one full drum kit on the stage but whatever their instrument they struck the beat; what a brilliant way to draw in the audience, focus peoples attention, and get over those nerves!

I get the sense that they have more to attribute to trip hop like Massive Attack than folk, and love this directionality so much more. Their most recent album “Comments Of The Inner Chorus” (2006) seems predominantly more folky, but now I hear it again, I’m noticing it’s all still there – the bass beats and samples and sound effects, but I want them to be louder, I want to feel them! Which is why you must see Tunng live, for a totally uplifting experience. In fact in some instances really they were playing anthems, like Arcade Fire’s anthemic sound… perhaps sit-down anthems (though i would have been standing if I could have!).

On “mother’s daughter and other songs” (2005), I have just discovered much more of the electronic beats and samples that I so loved in the live show and I hope their next album picks up this emphasis again. It’s like samples are the “found object” of music, and this is the point at which folk electronica has arrived at. I can’t finish without mentioning Adam (?), who Tunng brought up on stage to take them in yet another direction altogether, as he played out some crazy dance beats/almost heavy metal vibes on his toy synthesiser! This feature of their show demonstrates just how prepared they are to try (and succeed in) something a little unusual and best of all, that they don’t take themselves too seriously.
The band Tunng’s website

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Martha Tilston gig at “small world party”

Martha Tilston gig at 491 gallery
I suddenly decided at the last minute to go hear Martha Tilston play at an event called “small world party” at 491 gallery in Leytonstone last weekend. When i realised how close Leyton is to Clapton it just felt silly not to go, so I cycled over there. Turns out it isn’t that close, I spent rather too long cycling down the scarily uninhabited Orient Way (A1006), but it was well worth it! The 491 gallery, in a warehouse type building backing onto the A12, was a warm and welcoming place to turn up at alone on a Sunday night. This event was like an indoor winter festival – everyone was chilling out with mugs of tea or beers, positively post-party come-down mode, all huddled up together on the floor – or passed out on the sofas. But Martha Tilson and The Woods got everyone up and dancing in no time, with their fabulous contemporary folkish music. Everyone happily got in the groove of standing up for the lively songs and sitting down where it was appropriately mellow. I saw Martha play for the first time at The Scala in December and was equally impressed, but the highlight of this night, was her brilliant cover of Portishead’s Glory Box, which she totally made her own.

Tunng new album

I am under express instructions from Meg to get Tunng’s new album, so i am going to take this opportunity to make my first online purchase of the MP3 release of “Comments Of The Inner Chorus” from the Bleep high quality music download shop which Tom just told me about. The player here is courtesy of the fine Bleep website, so you can have a listen too! (The catch: you have to press play again every 30 seconds)