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Monday, November 26, 2012

10 Years of Ricardo Villalobos at fabric 24/11/2012


To have a truly awesome night out, it takes more than just one’s favourite nightclub, favourite international DJ and favourite resident DJ.  There has to be the initial idea, finding a dancing partner, the week-long build-up of excitement, the over-excitement leading to an accidentally messy night a day or two beforehand, something of a mission to get there/get in, interactions with randoms, the odd hot chick on the dancefloor always helps, the beautiful distress of the journey home, the Sunday afters, a big smile on the Monday along with a caffeine overdose, oh and a review on the blog.

Ricardo Villalobos is my favourite DJ in the world.  However my favourite dancing partner in the world announced to my beforehand that 7am was her limit…I kind of suspected that he wouldn’t start until 8am given that fabric was open until 2pm so was not expecting to catch any of his set…but I remained hopeful.

Margaret Dygas was certainly not my favourite DJ – I saw her at fabric for their 12th birthday and she was dull as (though I wasn’t on form myself that night) and also I downloaded a set of hers and again of no interest whatsoever.  But enough people do rate her highly and I am very happy to say that she did deliver on the night, mixing deep house with more upbeat house and tech-house, and keeping it interesting.

I do not remember the live act.  Maybe I was there, maybe I wasn’t.  I suspect I was there for half of the time.  Not really my cup of tea but always willing to be surprisingly impressed.  I guess I wasn’t.  Live acts are useful though to create some more dancing space and this left me with some good space for the wonderful Craig Richards.

One of the reasons I like him so much is that I never know what kind of set to expect from him.  Sometimes filled with disco moments, sometimes more techno, other times house or deep house – this time was much more up-tempo tech-house than I was expecting which suited my mood and my desire to have a good dance, and I actually recognized 3 or 4 tracks that he played, including a fantastic minimal track that was either Ricardo’s or one he played previously, not sure.

I did a bit of sitting down too.  The stairs seemed a nice place to be at times except perhaps for the projectile vomit landing just a foot away from me.  More sitting down than usual, perhaps cracking open the beers at 1pm was not the best idea, but what am I supposed to do in the run-up to an exciting night at fabric – ironing?  As if.  I also nearly went in room 2.  I say nearly as we just sat nearby it – techno of the variety that is played in said room most weeks is just cold and dark to me, I am unable to enjoy it.  Techno was for the depressing times of the credit crunch – I am a very happy chap now Labour are out of government and dark music has no place in my life.  We also spent about 3 minutes in room 3.  There was a good track playing.  But room 1 has just such a huge appeal to me – it is my favourite room probably in the whole world (perhaps Amnesia might just about beat it thanks to the ice cannons but I haven’t been there this year so have forgotten it).

On the subject of room 1 – Ricardo is the DJ for me that makes the very most out of the room.  I have seen him probably around 10 times, mostly superb, mostly at fabric, a couple of averagely good sets – though the first time was just totally mind-blowing, I could not believe what I was hearing.  Sadly I was still into trance and funky house 10 years ago so I wasn't around for his first ever set at fabric (would love to hear from someone who was there).  My first time was around 2006/07 and I haven't looked back.  I have converted probably around 20 friends to the delights of fabric but sadly only one or two to the slightly more challenging delights of Senor Villalobos.

Aptly in time I finally discovered some wonky delights and settled into the very, very busy dancefloor which was a total delight as everyone was in their spot and nobody was moving, it was a very Mediterranean dancefloor – unlike the English and tourists they always seem to want to get to the middle of the dancefloor rather than dancing around the sides.  I still have a vague tan from Ibiza (at least compared to the white of my backside) so I fit in well and can swear in nearly all European languages if not feeling the intimate lovely crush that Ricardo creates.

The music quickly descended into what can only be described as a beautiful electronic mush, I couldn't quite decipher whether tracks were being played backwards, or vocal samples backwards, whether the sudden short scratching was down to Ricardo’s beauty or just unusual tracks – it was nothing like I had heard before and totally wonderful.

I could have quite happily stayed much longer, however both myself and my dancing partner have to be alert for our 9-5 jobs especially with the delight of month end this week and cannot afford a slow day or feeling crap for half of the week so sense prevailed – and as I wasn’t expecting to still be there for any of Ricardo this special hour really was the icing on the cake.  One is clearly getting old - I even voted for a police commissioner a couple of weeks back.

Cue then a rather special taxi journey home, the taxi driver unable to find Paddington station, not that it is a major landmark at all – he dropped us off nearby (ish) so we had a long confusing walk, followed by rushing to get the train and a walk of shame through almost every carriage to find a seat – topped off with another wobbly walk of shame through the shambles of the being renovated Reading station and seeming thousands of people that we had to zig-zag through to get out.

Without doubt I will be back at fabric soon, though not until 2013 now, and I hope that I actually get to see a full set of Ricardo next time - we did consider getting up at 5am and getting the train from Reading but the logistics are a tiny bit painful.  Maybe next time.

Super excited about the weekend coming with Onur Ozer, Cassy, Carl Craig and a little matter of Sven.  For me, a fantastic line-up with a good variety.  Not sure what I will make of Great Suffolk Street car park after the middle-class comforts of fabric and if the sound-system is as bad as the one at Brixton earlier this year for Sven then that will be the last LWE event I attend no matter who they book in future.  I see no reason why I should not get a Funktion One sound-system at minimum when I pay £15-£25 for a night out and may start only going to events with a an acceptable sound-system in future.  I can see a Facebook campaign (anyone else fancy starting it as I am rather busy?!).

Already thinking about next year's plans and I really have to see Ricardo again, of course, along with tINI, Seb Zito, Enzo Siragusa and Nina Kraviz.  They are my priorities.

Totally awesome night and despite feeling like a beautiful classic car trying to run on coal, I have a big smile on my face still - 9.5 out of 10 for a rating, could only have been better by a little more of Ricardo.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Extreme Weather: Exciting Or Devastating?


It is well known that I get very excited with extreme weather, I love downpours, damaging winds, disruptive snowfall, etc.

I think one could be (wrongly) accused of being heartless as said exciting weather causes great disruption, sometimes destruction to people’s houses and businesses, and now and again loss of life.

But one of the main reasons I do my spot of weather forecasting and run my Facebook page is I want the people that I care about (which isn't just people I know) to have as much information as possible as to what the upcoming weather may be so they can make judgements as to whether they need to make any preparations.

Weather as a part of nature is a fact of life, we cannot change it (well maybe apart from cloud seeding and a few other controversial ideas) – extreme weather affects most people across the planet in one way or another, and steps can be taken to prepare oneself and one’s property from danger if one bothers to take a minute or two to keep up to date with forecasts.

For me, the most exciting weather is the tornado due to it’s almost random nature and the extreme power and intensity in such a short time – but when watching the videos of whole towns completely flattened one cannot help to feel emotion and question the morality of storm chasing.

But whilst there is a minority in America that views storm chasers as scum, many of those in affected areas rely on information from chasers to keep safe.  The fascination of extreme weather for many folks does save lives.

Many are also scientists looking to study the storms to learn further and help future predictions of severe weather outbreaks.

My longest-standing dream is to go storm-chasing in America and I will do my best to ensure I achieve it in the next few years.  Of course I am unlikely to be contributing to the scientific aspect in any way other than part-funding the trip through the fees (approx £1.5-£2k) however the knowledge I gain from first-hand experience of such storms will help my personal education in such matters...it is not beyond the realms of possibility to get a significant tornado in the UK.

So whilst there is of course a voyeuristic nature and a sense of excitement and fascination when it comes to the extremes of weather for those of us with this obsession, there is also a greater good at heart and a scientific or education purpose to what many of us do when following the weather.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Love Your European Union

I think it is about time someone argued the positive side to being part of the European Union, in light of the budget negotiations that failed to do anything except increase the sales of £120 bottles of wine which should help the economy of the country said wine was bought from.

1. One of the biggest parts of the European Union is the Common Agricultural Policy which gives money to landowners like the Queen, and the Queen is very nice so she deserves the extra £7m she received over the last decade which hopefully paid for that concert outside the Palace last year.
2. Without the £150,000.00 that was spent researching the social relevance of coffee then we would not know that coffee has a social relevance.  I hope Starbucks appreciates the European Union.
3. £58,000.00 was spent on a Chilli Pepper festival.  I wish our government would stop spending money on boring things like teachers and spend it on festivals instead.  I want a gravy festival - can you imagine that?
4. £196,000.00 was the bargain cost of a nomad puppet academy.  I have really struggled with research into this but it seems on the face of it a sensible investment as not all puppets would want to have a particular homeland.

Now some of these figures are courtesy of BBC research highlighted on Newsnight so you may want to take them with a pinch of salt given recent ongoings.

I guess not everyone has the imagination or intelligence to appreciate the improved cultural cohesion offered by said expenditure, some may even question the validity of thousands of Eurocrats being paid more than our Prime Minister, however not to worry because the EU in 2013 is going to spend €2m to promote the benefits of EU membership to UK citizens.

And just think, with our ongoing membership of the European Union, we might once again end up with Tony Blair as our leader if he overtakes Rumpey-pumpey as President one day.  Finally the whole of Europe will go to war together instead of against each other.

We are definitely living the European dream.  Not quite as much as our tax-loving compatriots in Greece or our friends in Spain with a far larger bullet train system than Japan (that nobody actually uses).

As the accounts have not been signed off by auditors for the last 18 years due to fraud and mismanagement it is really hard to understand why when ignoring undecided voters, 2 in 3 want to leave the European Union.

Why do people not understand the benefits?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Resident Advisor Top 100 DJ Poll

It's that time of year to vote for your favourite DJs (I assume that my readers are cool enough to ignore the bullshit poll from the crap magazine).

To vote, you had to be a member before 20th November and only have until midnight on Thursday 22nd November to vote.  I approve of this short time to vote, to reduce the time for 'campaigns'.  And you can only vote for someone that you are on the rollcall for from an event.

It should provide an accurate as picture as possible as to the most popular DJs in the underground.

My votes as follows:

1. Ricardo Villalobos - Simply the best DJ I have ever known. Was masterful at fabric and cannot wait to see him again this Saturday.
2. tINI - OK I haven't actually seen her but I did mean to go twice this year and I will do.  I absolutely love her music, she has re-introduced me to minimal and very stripped-back underground house through her weekly radio shows and I cannot recommend her enough.
3. Craig Richards - Absolutely never lets me down, and given that fabric is my favourite club and most-visited club, I just have to include Mr Richards as a mark of respect for what is achieved every single week at that most wonderful nightclub.
4. Nina Kraviz - I love her style of music and well just everything about her.  Only seen part of her set at Eastern Electrics as there were too many people in the tent and I wanted to be outside but she was top notch.
5. Cassy - I was really impressed with her set at Cocoon In The Park, very real sounding music and an excellent warm-up.  Really looking forward to seeing her again in 10 days time.

All of these DJs play vinyl.  Co-incidence?  I didn't choose them because of this but perhaps that they play vinyl is a large reason as to why I have enjoyed them so much.

One person is missing - Sven.  I have to say both times I have seen him this year, he hasn't quite done it for me.  His music style went too hard and dark.  Still a favourite but time for others to have their moment.

I look forward to all my votes from everyone on the rollcall from Free House Project.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Police Commissioner Elections

I like voting.  Yes, I actually enjoy the process of voting and feeling that I am part of the democracy that we have that many billions of people across the world do not have.

I have to say that this government policy is not one I am especially convinced about, in fact I would have to say that I am sketpical about it.  However I do not know much about policing strategy and am willing to give it a chance.

I have had a quick look at the candidates for the local area, Thames Valley.  I have to say that they are all much of a muchness.

I would have much preferred the post of Police Commissioner to not be a political post, ie that political parties would not put up candidates.

However this is not the case.  So though I feel that I should vote an independent, I will not because I have to oppose the Labour candidate to vote for the Conservative candidate because I do not want Labour to have any form of power, although this is not the economy so how much damage could they do?

I see no way the government will do well out of this.  Very few people will vote (a friend of mine reported at midday that just 12 people had turned up to vote in the station she is manning), and those that do will probably be those unhappy with the socialists not being in power so the socialist BBC will tomorrow report at nobody voting and a load of Labour police commissioners.

I don't really care who wins, I just don't want to see the government that I support get a bloody nose about crime (which is going down significantly since the government came in, by the way).

So, assuming I can be bothered, I will be voting tonight.  I like being unique.

Oh and one more thing, why are voting places always in dodgy areas?  Is this to put off the middle or upper classes from voting, as they are more likely to vote Tory?  I smell another socialist conspiracy.

By the way, did you know that Labour won 35% of the popular vote in 2005 to win a majority in that general election, whilst Conservatives did not get a majority with 36% of the popular vote in 2010?  We may have free elections but we certainly do not have FAIR elections with this significant weighting to Labour due to smaller constituency sizes in working class areas.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

If I Were American...

Firstly if I were American, I would emigrate to somewhere with more freedom.  Actually I would have guns. Lots of them.  Because I would have moved to Texas to be a wannabe professional storm-chaser and would shoot my guns in celebration every time I saw a twister touch down.  Yeeha - boom.  Another tree ripped up.  Halleluyah.

However I am not American, so thoughts must turn on who to vote for president and also hopefully influence all 2,391 previous American visitors to my blog to vote for the right man today, because apparently it is that close that even the likes of seasoned overseas political commentators like myself and Wayne Rooney could be the deciding factor in persuading the EDM-obsessed Americans to put down their glowsticks for just one day this week and vote rather than rave.

Recently, I’ve heard many people in this country say things like “it would be the end of the world if that moronic lunatic won the election” – I think that they are referring to Mr Romney. Given that these people are often left-leaning that is a call to me to think of reasons why Mr Romney would be the best result for America (and the rest of the world).

For a start, he is a very successful businessman. America is not France – it is actually a good thing to earn money and become rich in America.

He would be more likely to intervene in Syria and probably Mali which are both in danger of becoming failed states – he would also likely to be tougher on Russia which with a belligerent Mr Putin back in charge could be useful. However insisting on branding China a currency manipulator on his first day in charge is very dumb and may start a trade war which is the last thing the world needs. Also an attack on Iran arguably may be more likely given what Romney previously said (though he agreed with Obama's approach in the final debate) and this is the last thing the Middle East needs when Iran may be about to crack under the weight of the current sanctions. Though I do not think Americans have the stomach for another war wherever it may be or whoever is in charge. Unless attacked.

Apparently Romney makes fun of ‘climate change’ Fantastic!

Generally Republicans believe in a smaller state and America’s state needs to reduce significantly but it really isn’t clear what his economic policy is. I do not believe that cutting taxes is what America needs right now – its top rate of tax is significantly lower than that of the UK already. Cutting spending is what is required.

Obama certainly won’t cut spending unless forced by the markets, but at least the economy has improved in the last 4 years with him in charge – including the rescue of the car industry (which I would not normally agree with) and also America has made huge progress in improving the balance sheets of its banks – unlike Europe.  Unemployment is down, a fraction less the UK at 7.8%.

Obama is weak in foreign affairs and hasn’t exactly improved relations with enemies, also he has vastly increased drone strikes which is a tad controversial – however he did get Osama. And he did extend coverage of healthcare to 40million mostly poor people that were without. Costly – but right.

I can only assume what policies Obama might persue from his last 4 years in charge as he didn’t actually say anything in his campaign about what he would do if he got another 4 years. However I am totally confused as to what Romney would do as he seems to have lots of conflicting policies depending on who he speaks to.

On balance – I would prefer another 4 years of Obama, despite a very negative election campaign – but only just. Had a more sensible Republican run and been nominated like Chris Christie, for example, then I would have gone for the more natural choice for a Conservative, of the Republican nominee.

It would however be hilarious to hear the lefties moan if Romney wins.

I wouldn’t however say it is a win-win situation, it is arguably more likely a lose-lose situation as I don’t think either will solve America’s major problems of the fiscal cliff, the deficit or the debt.

By the way, was one of Wayne Rooney's granny prostitutes called Sandy or am I just making that up?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Brightening Up My Weekend (And Maybe Yours Too?)

With all this extra cupboard space in my new house, I realised that I could also hang my jumpers up.

If only I had some extra coat hangers...

But look what I found in Primark tonight:


Nominations for Most Stylish Man of 2012 accepted.