Les Negresses Vertes in Beirut

LNV_Beirut24

Ladies and Gentlmen, welcome to Beirut, December 1991

We were not prepared for anything like this at all.  I bear witness.

French band Les Negresses Vertes were about to release, or had just released their Famille Nombreuse album. The management, comprised of Assad & Jacques organized a concert at venue within the American University of Beirut. How do you say, ‘hostilities between factions had ceased’?  The eighteen year long uncivil war had come to pass, and this was to be the first performance by a ‘Western’ band in the country since the first bullet took a life.  I was the band’s UK Press Representative at the time, and the NME’s Stuart Bailie, photographer Steve Pyke and the Observer’s Philip Sweeney agreed to cover the venture.  At some point I ignored a directive from the Virgin boss Ken Berry: As the company’s insurance would not cover me or any of the personnel in a ‘conflict zone’, I was not to go.  “Sorry, didn’t get the message Ken.”  This was a unique opportunity not to be missed.

For most of us on the trip, it was our first proper real time facing a bullet and rocket scared city and it’s population.  The sheer destruction encompasses you full 360°.  It is painful to see what some will do to others.  People sacrificed regardless of postcode. People, families, and those strangers no longer, lived among the rumble, dust, bomb-induced craters in the streets, passing through militia checkpoints.

“This is the place where Terry Waite was taken hostage.” said our guide, pointing to a nondescript pavement by the road along the coast as the bus took us to Martyr’s Square.  Several of the windows on our bus were penetrated by bullets. What happened the previous occupants of these seats?  On my return to the city several years later, I was informed that the owner of the hotel we we stayed at first time around, was “taken outside and shot, boom, dead.”  Silence for a moment.

My colleague at Virgin France, top AnR person, Maya Masseboeuf is Lebanese, she was on the trip as well, and I recall, as we entered the airport there was a portrait of Syrian’s President Assad, not the current one, his dad, hanging proudly.  “Hey Maya, what is his portrait doing there?” I said a bit too loud for her liking. “Not now.”  I was learning.

During a day trip we came upon a block of flats across the road, the fourth and top floor was totally destroyed, concrete and steel hanging precariously, no surprises would it tumble right there and then.  Maya had family living in that building.  It was Maya that sent the link to the TV report, thank you.

The concert itself hit a cruising altitude of several thousand feet, those in attendance onstage, the audience, everybody unified to celebrate the a richness that had been kidnapped, separated, tortured, abused, murdered, sent into exile and so on.

The relevance of this period in time and what is unfolding right now could not be underestimated.

LNV_Beirut13

Négresses vertes á Beyrouth – French TV Report

The Special AKA ‘War Crimes’

Total Destruction: DJ Scud & Nomex

 

 

Public Image Ltd – How We Made Metal Box

Jah Wobble and Keith Levine talked to The Guardian’s Dave Simpson about the environment that existed at the time of recording the album Metal Box

“Metal Box was created with instruments and notes, but no talking between us. It’s telepathy – Wobble and me just have that, even now. We don’t compose; we allow the music to happen. None of it was written before we went in the studio, but everybody had loads of ideas. We just said to the engineers, “Keep the red [recording] button on.” We made up Death Disco on the spot. Wobble had this bassline and I played Swan Lake over it. People thought I was classically trained, which was bollocks”.

Read article in full here

Update: News of new album by Public Image Ltd. See here, at Stool Pidgeon.  Listen to new track One Drop at this cloudspot

Spotted at thedailyswarm

Flying Lotus – The Daily Swarm Interview / Video for Erykah Badu

The Daily Swarm is run by a former Virgin collegue, Todd Roberts. He’s hip to it, believe. He’s been the editor at Urb, did An’R for Astrawlwerks and Virgin. Twice today i’ve checked some stuff on the ‘net and Todd’s there. Here now again, he sits down with Flying Lotus to shine the light on the man and his work. Enter via the click

This is the latest work from FlyLo, a video for Erykah Badu, ‘Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long’.

A World of Possibilties

I reached out for some ambient movements this week.  As I put my hands on the second CD in the Virgin ‘Ambient’ series, and looked at the tracklisting, saw Robert Fripps’s contribution, and I recalled doing the press for a Robert Fripp / David Sylvian project that came out on Virgin Records back in the day.  When I met Robert he embarked on the story of how the man behind EG Records, had ripped off Robert and several other artists on the label.  For our next meeting, Robert came loaded with photocopies of all the documents relating to his case.  I don’t know how he carried them all to be honest, hundreds of pages of correspondence, legal papers, faxes, telexes, notes etc.  He is one serious dude.  When he does something, be it King Crimson, whatever, he doesn’t do things by halves.  Just noticed that he’s performed on a new work by Grinderman, i didn’t expect that one at all,  Mr. Fripp has no limits.  That is the vague theme of today’s program / mix, let it all out, live it, do what ya want.

Example, rapper/producer Oh No, and his Dr. No Ethiopium project.  Not what you would have expected.

Jneiro Jarel, he behind Shape of Broad Minds, doing exactly what he wants, no follow fashion.

Daedelus, the same, off on his own tanget.

Silkie, embracing a lot of music of the last 20 years to create his own vision of now and a possible future.

You get the picture.

Ear Conditioning 33 – A World of Possibilities

  • Daedelus / An Armada Approaches (Brainfeeder)
  • Oh No / Pardon Me (Stones Throw)
  • Oh No / Madness (Stones Throw)
  • Samiyam / Return (Hyperdub)
  • Foreign Beggars featuring Jesht & Kashmere – Om Unit Andromedan Battlemix
  • Robert Fripp / Water Music (Virgin)
  • CV313 / Subtraktive – King Midas Sound Remix
  • The Bug featuring Warrior Queen / Poison Dart – Skream Remix (Ninja Tune)
  • Silkie – Techno 22 (Deep Medi Musik)
  • S.U.A.D.  / Epeleptic – Martyn’s No Strobe Mix
  • Shape of Broad Minds / Raiders of the Lost Mix (Lex)
  • Voyager / Arrival (Underworld/Virgin)

Transmission: Tonight Sunhole dot net 22h00 London/Tenerife Time

Massive Attack – Splitting the atom EP

Mineral-images-Banded-aga-002

Easily one of the best moments of working at Virgin Records UK was being around when the first noises made by Massive Attack surfaced.
Some of us would stay late in the office, playing Daydreaming over and over and over again, trying to figure out what was that sound while passing the rizla. What is this music?

There weren’t a name for it yet, besides Massive Attack music.

The rest is history, however history does not stop, so here is the latest offering, a track from Splitting the atom EP, which is due out in October.

The title track features long-time collaborator Horace Andy.  Was that the faintest bit of AutoTune on Horace Andy’s voice?

The EP will also feature Tunde Adebimple of TV on the Radio on a recording titled ‘Pray for Rain’.  Martina Topley-Bird is also on a track.

Roll on October.

On a related issue (not to AutoTune),  man has heard that Burial and The Bug have been / are being  considered for a Massive Attack remix project.  “Rass” is all I can say really.