Not Being Funny But…

…what is really worse?  Biting somebody in the heat of the moment when the adrenaline is pumping or deliberately putting your studs into somebody’s leg in a manner that could break a bone/finish a career?  I find this whole Luis Saurez thing weird.  Biting is primal type of behaviour.  It’s almost an involuntary act that can happen in the heat of the moment.  I don’t believe what Saurez did was calculated in any way.  I am obviously not condoning it but at the same time I truly believe there are far, far worse things that happen on a football pitch, and in other sports, that deserve far worse punishments.  Roy Keane admitted that he tried to end Haaland’s career for example.  That was a far worse thing than Saurez biting Chielini.  The over-reaction from the media has been hilarious.  Alan Shearer for example calling for major punishment – well he kicked Neil Lennon square in the head when playing for Newcaslte against Leicester.  Totally deliberate, exceptionally dangerous…nobody called for his career to be ended.  And what about Stuart Hogg during Scotland v Wales rugby this year.  One of the worst, life threatening challenges you could see – he just played on Scotland’s tour of the USA.  I say we get a little perspective.  Saurez has biten somebody on the football field.  Fucking stupid but like the Daily Mash said – he’s not a Sumatran Tiger…Chielini will be ok and play on.  I know it’s the third time he’s done it BUT how many times did Roy Keane, Patrick Viera and many more deliberately hurt other players?  And what about Pepe’s headbutt on Mueller…how is that less of an offence!?  I am so confused.

World Cup So Far

Man it’s been good hasn’t it?  I don’t know what I expected from this World Cup but it’s just been packed with good games, great goals and a few surprises so far.  Out of everyone so far I have most enjoyed watching France.  They have played some sensational football but then with no disrespect to the teams in their group, they really should be beating them.  Still, the way they dismantled Switzerland was pretty impressive and I look forward to seeing more of them.  Will be interesting to see when they have to face a proper good side how their defence holds up.  But so far, they have played lovely football and players like Matuidi, Pogba, Griesmann and Benzema have been excellent.  The Dutch have also looked good in the sense that they have great flexibility.  Australia gave them a right good game/scare but the way they adapt formations and personnel for different teams bodes well for them.  Otherwise, there have been no real stand outs so far.  Brazil have not hit top gear.  Argentina have been poor and lucky to have the group they have and Messi.  Germany were not tested by Portugal and looked vulnerable against Ghana.  Spain are gone.  Italy too.  So it’s wide open as far as I can see.  And that is what has been most enjoyable to be honest, the simple fact that there are no clear favourites to win this tournament.  Costa Rica have impressed.  Chile have really impressed.  Colombia have impressed.  Everyone is capable of beating everyone and that makes the whole tournament all the more interesting and exciting.

As for England.  Well, I am honestly disappointed that they are out.  But I don’t think it’s as much doom and gloom as the pundits have been making out. I think the future looks bright with a whole batch of young, talented players coming through.  However, there are a few things that have stood out for me in this tournament.  Firstly, whilst I truly admire Roy Hodgson for taking so many young players, the truth of the matter is that had John Terry and Ashley Cole been in that starting line up England would not be going home.  They lack a dominant centre half and, whilst I despise Ashley Cole, he is a far better defender than Leighton Baines and the defence was the problem for England, without a shadow of a doubt.  The other thing they lack is a Pirlo type player.  If they had somebody who could control the play and dictate a match they would also be through.  Gerrard is quality but not that type of player and Henderson – under rated and super hard working – is not a ball player.  Finally, they need a Saurez, not a Rooney.  Sturridge looks like he could fill that role, eventually, and Sterling looks like an incredible player but Welbeck played ahead of Barkley and Lallana…ridiculous.  So whilst I thought England played ok – especially going forward there are still questions to be answered.  And, whilst players coming through like Barkley, Sterling, Sturridge, Lallana, Shaw look excellent prospects, where are the young, dominant centre halves that are needed?  Terry/Ferdinand – there is nobody coming through, from what I can see, in the same mould/quality.  I do truly hope Hodgson has some success as manager because I think he’s a good manager and has been brave in his decision making but they do need to sort themselves out as a defensive unit if they want to win anything in the near future.

So yeah, great tournament so far and I cannot wait to see what develops in the next round.  Still think Germany or Argentina will win it but so far the stand out team has been France.  And they have the best strip too.  Fact.

Matthew Collings

It’s not that I don’t really want to be writing this piece. It’s just that I want others to be writing this piece too, or similar pieces about this artist. The reason I am writing this piece though is that, for some reason, others have not.  But I was thinking about it over the weekend and since I really cannot figure out why one of the most exciting, creative, alternative and upcoming artists in Scotland, if not the UK, is not getting the press attention he really deserves, I thought I would try and get the ball rolling and acknowledge his importance.  And I  want to be clear, we are not talking simply about a musician here.  We are talking about an artist.

Matthew Collings is, first and foremost, my friend. Since I met him back in 2010, my musical life has been much richer and through working with him, I have become a much better musician and person.  I genuinely believe that.  His no bullshit approach to music is refreshing.  There is no back slapping or telling people they are great because he doesn’t want to offend.  What he wants to do is challenge, so the truth will out.  And the truth can be hard to hear, yet it is what makes us better artists, makes us want to strive to be better and to create things that resonate, not just exist.  That’s the theory anyways.  And it ties in beautifully with a piece I read at the weekend about Damon Albarn.  Basically he said “The problem I have, is that the minute I’ve done one thing, I want to do something else.  I find it hard to respect a lot of successful bands and musicians, because, although there can be subtle, nuanced changes in what they do, there aren’t any really bold new moves, lyrically or sonically or melodically.  Yet it seems like the world is completely satisfied with that situation.  I mean, that’s fine.  But the idea of slowly grinding out a huge career, based on ‘This is what you get when you buy this kind of record” – I just find that a bit…”  It’s this need to challenge, to always evolve, to move in different directions, to not be predictable and add to the general noise, that makes Collings stand out from the rest.

We at mini50 have just released his new record under the moniker Sketches for Albinos ‘Fireworks and the Dead City Radio’, so part of the purpose of this post is to help promote this brilliant record.  We are extremely proud to have released this and the whole thing is looking quite beautiful coming on 12” vinyl and featuring a photo book by Matt’s girlfriend, the very talented Elin Svennberg.  All in all it is a lovely piece of art, which if I didn’t run the label I would definitely want to own myself and have in my vinyl collection.

However, it’s the cumulative impact of Matt’s work that I think deserves recognition and to be talked about more in the media. If we look at last year’s solo release ‘Splintered Instruments’ alone, he deserves more than he got in terms of press attention. Between his solo work, released under his own name, and his work as Sketches for Albinos he already has an impressive résumé. With other albums under both these guises complete and lined up for future release his stock as a musician is ever increasing.  And not any old musician, but an exciting, ground breaking one.  Throw in his work with Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX) and as one half of Graveyard Tapes, as well as being a member of Hiva Oa and you have an artist who not only stands out from the crowd but is involved in exciting, alternative projects left, right and centre.

Thing is, Matt is important not only as a recording artist but as an artist in his own right, working with dance companies, creating installations for the likes of NEoN Digital Arts Festival and even starting work on an audio visual performance based around the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden – a project that has received financial support from Creative Scotland and New Media Scotland

So, the creative industries are taking note of Matt but I think there should be a wider recognition of his work.  And I think one of the biggest failings in music in the UK – and further afield – is this satisfaction with the mediocre that pervades.  I use the word genius very rarely but when a true genius is floating well below the radar sometimes you have to shout about it.  And my voice may not be heard above the mundane noise of every day but I hope that it is.  I hope that this piece makes a whole load of you go and check out his work.  Not just the record on mini50 – though do have a look – but his whole body of work because he deserves the attention.  He deserves the recognition.  He deserves to be heard, because he is a distinct and powerful voice amongst the every day crackle and hiss. And that is exciting.

Things That I Love Today

Burning the Letters by Slyvia Plath

I made a fire; being tired
Of the white fists of old
Letters and their death rattle
When I came too close to the wastebasket
What did they know that I didn’t?
Grain by grain, they unrolled
Sands where a dream of clear water
Grinned like a getaway car.
I am not subtle
Love, love, and well, I was tired
Of cardboard cartons the color of cement or a dog pack
Holding in it’s hate
Dully, under a pack of men in red jackets,
And the eyes and times of the postmarks.

This fire may lick and fawn, but it is merciless:
A glass case
My fingers would enter although
They melt and sag, they are told
Do not touch.
And here is an end to the writing,
The spry hooks that bend and cringe and the smiles, the smiles
And at least it will be a good place now, the attic.
At least I won’t be strung just under the surface,
Dumb fish
With one tin eye,
Watching for glints,
Riding my Arctic
Between this wish and that wish.

So, I poke at the carbon birds in my housedress.
They are more beautiful than my bodiless owl,
They console me–
Rising and flying, but blinded.
They would flutter off, black and glittering, they would be coal angels
Only they have nothing to say but anybody.
I have seen to that.
With the butt of a rake
I flake up papers that breathe like people,
I fan them out
Between the yellow lettuces and the German cabbage
Involved in it’s weird blue dreams
Involved in a foetus.
And a name with black edges

Wilts at my foot,
Sinuous orchis
In a nest of root-hairs and boredom–
Pale eyes, patent-leather gutturals!
Warm rain greases my hair, extinguishes nothing.
My veins glow like trees.
The dogs are tearing a fox. This is what it is like
A read burst and a cry
That splits from it’s ripped bag and does not stop
With that dead eye
And the stuffed expression, but goes on
Dyeing the air,
Telling the particles of the clouds, the leaves, the water
What immortality is. That it is immortal.

Lizzy Stewart

Lizzy Stewart was the artist behind the artwork for ‘Be Still This Gentle Morning’ by The Kays Lavelle.  So I love her work.  I noticed from her facebook today that she is moving home in London and needs money to help fund the move – the factors apparently being a bunch of expensive twats in London – so I would suggest that you check out her shop here and if you like what you see maybe support her and help her find the pennies she needs to move.  She is a seriously brilliant artist and well worth checking out regardless of her personal situation though!   So please do have a look and if you can afford anything – it being pay time of the month – then do so.   And she’s lovely,  and back when we were working together she put up with my chat about animals – which was impressive.  She even came up with the Badger badges.  Which made my life.  So yeah, support her.  OK.  thanks.

Rest in Pixels

I always find it funny that we humans often fail to see what is right in front of us.  We will sit on google maps and marvel at the wonder of Paris, Rome, New York, longing to visit these places and take in the wondrous sites and sounds.  And yet, we don’t really notice the place that we live in ourselves.  For me, Edinburgh is a simply stunning place to live in the visual sense.  Everything about it screams “look at me” and yet, too often, we walk with our eyes down, our minds elsewhere and forget to observe the beauty that surrounds us.

Graveyards probably are not the place many people look for true beauty but American Robert Reinhardt has managed to capture the graveyards of Edinburgh since 2000 and an exhibition of his work will go on display in Edinburgh Central Library during the month of August.  You should check out a sample of what will be on offer here but should definitely get along and have a look if you are interested in this city.  It’s a wonderful place worth exploring as there really is beauty even in the most obscure places.  All you have to do is use your eyes.

The Steinberg Principle on Facebook

So I have finally embraced facebook.  It’s odd because I have used this online media source for all my musical ventures but never really to promote this blog.  So now I have a facebook page which, if you want to, you can find here and follow.  It will be slightly different to what happens on the blog.  The blog will focus primarily on writing from now on I think along with some other ideas I am working on developing.  Facebook will cater more for the little things I find every day and want to share.  I might share them both there and here if I like them enough.  Not sure yet.  We shall see.  Anyways, do visit the facebook page and like it if you have your own account.  Thanks.

What’s next?  Twitter??  Maybe next year.