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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Daniel Johnston & Friends

Indig02, London, 25th July, 2008

Written by Tom Howard

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XX Teens are so stand offish that it would be very easy to simply dismiss them as weirdos. They’re shirt, for sale what is ed tie and gawmless stares are supposed to create an atmosphere of impending doom. These efforts are however in vain, remedy due to the slightly foolish looking lead singer wearing sunglasses indoors, at night – obviously believing himself to be the embodiment of Lou Reed. Which is a shame, because a band who can create an atmosphere of impending doom are always a real treat.

The only problem with their completely non-emotive stage manner is that it receives a very static reaction from a crowd. Something I’ve seen many times, but it’s not often that it would appear to be the reaction the artist had hoped for. It’s quite an achievement really. Tracks like ‘Darling’ and ‘How To Reduce The Chances Of Becoming A Terror Victim’ should insight at least a small ruckus.

One thing I did enjoy during their set was the lavish use of mega phone. Mainly used for eerie, evil genius style, laughing into the microphone. I liked this mainly for the look the guitarist gave to another band member after executing this act. It seemed to say, “right, well at least that bits over – I still don’t know whether it’s really necessary, but damn am I good at it.”

My favourite thing about their songs is how the guitar licks are reminiscent of bands like The Rakes. Formed around simple yet attractive loops, the bass lines imitate them to create something that drills into your conscious, a feeling that is heightened by the commanding vocals from the man in the shades. There was something very ‘1984‘ about ‘How To Reduce The Chances Of Becoming A Terror Victim’ in particular.

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This is music that makes you look at your computer generic -Katmai-N.jpg”target=”_blank”>strange and start looking for the source of the problem that’s causing it to create such obscure noises.

Keyboard Choir come across as a Jean Micheal-Jarre for the last.fm generation. Their production appears to be encapsulating the sounds of their experimentations with keyboards within something recognizable as structure, creating an end product which just sounds really, really good

Their influences would appear to be obvious, with Aphex Twin, DJ Shadow and Briano Eno being detectable. But they also bring something of their own to the table – something a lot more post-rock than many of the aforementioned. The exclusive use of keyboards gives the album a live feel which is often very difficult to create in electronic music.

Tracks like ‘Skylab’, ‘Legal Boards’ and ‘In This Situation, Thinking Wont Help’ really show the range of sounds they can create so masterfully. It’s an album that will fill you with intrigue and delight you on every listen.

They are definitely one of the flagship groups for Oxford’s impressive music scene, and those thinking Foals were the most experimental band to come from should definitely check them out.

About a month ago I received an out-of-the-blue email from stylist to the stars, buy Rebekah Roy. I was already planning to attend her presentation ‘Create a unique personal look’ at the Barbican, approved so I was absolutely delighted when she asked for a quote from both Amelia and little ol’ me, ailment to use as part of her talk. The question that she put to us both was,

‘In your opinion, what’s the best way for someone to create their own distinct personal style?’

Knowing this was likely to be quite a high profile event, I agonised for a good two days over what direction to take with my words of wisdom. I thought it best not to try and sound like some sort of all-knowing fashion wizard since the room was bound to be full of fashion types who, lets face it, probably knew better. On the other hand I was aware of how embarrassing it could be if it appeared as though I didn’t have a clue, so I deliberated, sat back, then deliberated some more before conjuring up the following:

‘It’s impossible to create a self-image using preconceived ideas. Your discomfort can be seen through even the most expensive of designer gowns, should you attempt to construct a persona that doesn’t belong to you. People that are noted for their distinct personal style are often those whose clothing is almost an accessory to their personality or attitude to life. To a genuine trendsetter, that bold pair of fuchsia heels isn’t used to denote wealth or forward thinking style, they’re merely the best footwear to compliment a love for all things bright and colourful’.

And Amelia wrote this quote:

‘For me the only people who have a distinct personal style are those who have absolutely no regard for what other people think about the way they dress, it being merely an outward expression of a strong personality and a creative mind. They are unlikely to follow trends, instead preferring to find their own way of dressing in a sea of similar looks – this, somewhat ironically, means that they are likely to kickstart the very trends they steer clear of’.

The presentation took place in a tiny room in the gallery, which was jam-packed with predominately female, Roy followers. I was ushered in and advised to take a seat on the floor alongside the other cramped and flustered looking visitors. This did bother me slightly, particularly as the lady in front insisted on invading every inch of space I attempted to create for myself. My feelings of discomfort were slightly sidetracked by the arrival of Rebekah herself, who entered the room like a great beacon of fashionable light. Her adventurous teaming of long pop socks with court shoes immediately caught my eye and had me wondering how many other females in the room had made a mental ‘to do’ note, of this particular style.

Her presentation consisted of a light-hearted and humorous discussion on individuality and personal taste. She employed a model and a single rail of clothing to illustrate how a simple pair of jeans and plain white tee can be transformed to create different looks. Quotes from various creative’s within the fashion industry were projected on a wall behind her throughout the presentation. I couldn’t help but wait anxiously for my quote to appear – my discomfort growing by the minute as I shuffled around the square foot of space I’d been allocated in an attempt to minimise the cramp festering in my lower back. This went down a treat with a couple of done-up ladies sat beside me, who didn’t take too kindly to having their manicured toes trampled on.

I’d nearly given up hope of seeing my words appear when low and behold, my name flashes up in lights alongside my apparently ‘expert opinion’. I jumped up and fumbled around with my camera in an attempt to get a picture while vainly scanning the room for any hint of a reaction. My efforts failed miserably as, sods law, my camera decided to use that particular moment to run low on battery. I did however manage to get a slightly blurry pic of Amelia’s words on the wall from my phone.

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So there’s the evidence guys and girls, we do actually know a little about the weird and wonderful world that is fashion, even if we do appear to be spending most of our time seeking out the free drinks at glammed up press events!

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At the end – we all couldn’t wait to stand up and stretch our legs

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Visitors browsing the clothing rail at the end

News flash!!

The site for Climate Camp has just been secured! At 3pm this very afternoon activists scaled tripods to prevent the cops from moving them along and have erected a banner reading “No New Coal.”

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Photograph by Mike Russell
Activist Paddy on the tripod ready to tie up the banner (how they got up there is a mystery) with the targeted power station in the background

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Photograph by Mike Russell
Paddy celebrating

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Photograph by Mike Russell
Quite an impressive banner

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Photograph by Mike Russell
Fellow activists erecting the marquee

Situated in an uncultivated field occupied by 20 sheep, viagra sale the ballsy ones have rounded up the woolly creatures and have provided them with food and water.

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The sheep happily grazing

Plans were previously kept under wraps to ensure the police and E.ON did not spoil their intentions, pill yet activists and spokesperson Terry Graves now “warmly invite people from the local community to come down and see for themselves what the camp is all about.” A quick reminder why? “We have a future to protect” states Hannah Abbots, more about backed up by Christina Greensford outlining “people from all over the UK are here to create a democratic, low-carbon society in which our long term future on this planet is prioritised over the short term profit margins of the fossil fuel industry.”

With the land located between Hoo St Werburgh and High Halstow, rail links to Strood and buses to Hoo which is a half hour walk away from the site, there simply isn’t any excuse not to join Amelia and all of us interns between 3-11 August.

So come on guys, lets head down as soon as we can.
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It’s not all about the music.

Except, troche it is. But really, this site it isn’t. Not when Daniel Johnston is at the mic. The man with the notorious mental history, cheapest who in his forties lives next door to his parents, who’s had a film dedicated to his problems, who was fetishised by Kurt Cobain in public, and who creates music that strips his troubled heart and soul so bare you can see his blood cells.

Schizophrenic, depressive and diabetic, he no longer looks young on the neon-blue encrusted (and fantastically inappropriate) Indig02 stage. His hair has greyed and he has the belly of a man who long stopped looking after himself. But his frame is still small. He’s in a baggy grey t-shirt and black slacks. He’s lumbering and unassuming.

The set starts with him as a solo artist. His voice is deeper now, but it still cracks when he strains himself, like it always used to. Scout Niblett, Niblett’s drummer, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, James McNew of Yo La Tengo, and Jad Fair of Half Japanese help Johnston out on guitars, drums, bass, chord organ and tom-tom tonight.

Up on stage, I guess he’s still the same kid inside. The same kid that wrote tonight’s early crowd pleasers: the adventurous, excited ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ and the dedication to a childhood hero, ‘Casper The Friendly Ghost’. And because he’s still the same kid inside, the songs mean the same as they did when they were demos in the 70s and 80s.

He’s coming from the same place: still damaged, still confused by the world. Without the music, you suspect Johnston wouldn’t have much. But he does have music. And more poignantly, music has him. He’s the ultimate story for musical romanticists.

His genius lies in the songs: the harmonies from nowhere, the outbursts of naivety, the inability to recover from unrequited love, images of death, immense sadness and visions of doom. His past makes him more interesting, sure. But he’s a walking triumph over adversity, a man to admire.

The Indig02 finds Niblett singing often behind Johnston, her sharp, eerie scrawl clashing weirdly with his squeak. The band is disjointed and works by accident. A supergroup sounding like they’ve barely practised, this is Johnston’s way. This is pure. His music is easy and natural. At a guess, he’s the kind of writer who’s prolific when in the mood, but feels no obligation. Talent is the word.

When Johnston sings, he shakes, but he’s with pals and enjoying the occasion. ‘Walking The Cow’ is greeted with the whoops of a greatest hit. And his set ends with an acapella version of the minute-long ‘Devil Town’.

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