RICHARD COMBES. MICHAEL PALIN. THE UNTHANKS. A MAGAZINE FOR MANCHESTER. ISSUE 5. FREE.
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DARIUSZ FILIP. MARI RUTH ODA. DAVID DUNNICO. PAUL GREENWOOD. SIMON LEE. JONATHAN PURCELL.
RICHard GOULDING. SAMUEL BUCKLEY. SAM WALBY. BONNIE YEUNG. DAVID DUNNICO. STEFANIE ELRICK. FRED OXBY. ANDREW ANDERSON. BEDOS MAVANUBU. GED CAMERA. CHARLES VEYS. IAN PENNINGTON. ALEX ADAMS. JAMIE GROOVEMENT. BEN ECKERSLEY. EMMA ROY-WILLIAMS. ROBERT PEGG.
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Now Then is produced by not-for-profit social enterprise Opus Independents. Opus works exclusively with independent traders, community groups, charities, and local government. Printed at Evolution Print. evolutionprint.co.uk The views expressed in the following articles are the opinion of the writer(s) and not necessarily those of Now Then Magazine. Reproduction of any of the images or writing in Now Then without prior consent is prohibited. Now Then may be unsuitable for under 18s. Original design & layout by Matt Jones. Enjoy the read.
Cover image: Cleaning Lady
NOW THEN 5. JUNE – JULY 2013.
As summer drifts in at its own pace, Manchester speeds on as ever. Don’t expect to be winding down for a laze in the sun, there’s still plenty to fill your time as our latest issue illustrates.
5 // LOCAL CHECK.
This issue we have an extended interview with Michael Palin as a standout read, ably supported by the usual diverse selections from the city, written by the denizens of Manchester. If you think we’re missing something that you feel you can add then please get in contact.
9 // MICHAEL PALIN.
We’ve been relatively reclusive when it comes to events since launching the magazine, but will be venturing out for a couple during June. First, there’s a private viewing of the Richard Combes (see interview on P28) exhibition at 2022NQ on Friday 7th, whose fine work adorns this issue’s pages. Then later in the month we’ll be joining the Mind On Fire residents at their weekly Soup Kitchen social to select some tunes.
19 // NOWHERE FAST.
Enjoy the read.
34 // LIVE.
GET FAT, EAT YOUR WORDS.
7 // CRIMINAL VELOCITY. A Fine Example.
12 // FOOD.
16 // WORDLIFE.
University Of Manchester Literature Society. A Right One.
22 // CONSENT TO DISSENT. Protest And Revolution In Art.
28 // RICHARD COMBES. From Everyday To Extraordinary.
33 // SOUND. World Music.
Video Jam / In The Loop / Sounds From The Other City / Listings.
36 // ALBUMS.
Magic Arm / Mouse Outfit / Nancy Elizabeth / Frameworks / From The Kites Of San Quentin / Dan Inzani And Alabaster Deplume.
38 // THE UNTHANKS. Songs From The Shipyards.
41 // THEATRE.
Richard Patterson Talks About Life On The Fringes.
42 // FILMREEL.
One Long Journey / Coastal Shelf.
44 // FAVOURITES. Our Pick Of The Bunch.
Reflection PAGE 4
LocalCheck. Troubled Waters. Richard Goulding.
If you don’t know Peel, you should. Worth an estimated £18 billion in assets, the offshore conglomerate owns MediaCityUK, the Manchester Ship Canal, Pinewood Studios, Britain’s largest onshore wind farm, stakes in the Trafford Centre and much more. Now the property developer has its sights set on a massive £10 billion Liverpool and Wirral waters scheme promising an “international waterside destination” to “rival cities such as Dubai, Vancouver, New York and Shanghai” with 50 storey skyscrapers, tens of thousands of new homes, an international trade centre and a new cruise liner terminal. Peel will even throw in a monorail. Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson praised the “breathtaking” 50-year project, based around an Enterprise Zone with business rates relief, as “vital to our city’s future prosperity”. Others aren’t so sure. ExUrbe, a think tank chaired by former Labour minister and ex-MP Peter Kilfoyle, set out to investigate the firm that “claims to offer a panacea to many of the area’s socio-economic ills”. The result is a devastating exposé. Researchers found a “vast myriad” of over 400 individually registered companies which “lead back, through a complex web of ‘parent’ companies and subsidiaries to Tokenhouse Limited”, which is an organisation registered to the Isle of Man. “At the helm of the firm sits a tax exile”, John Whittaker, the chairman of Peel. The Olayan Group, a Saudi conglomerate, also owns a 25 per cent stake. A family-run business empire with modern financial arrangements, the authors found that complex accounting trails make it difficult to “follow the money”. Their findings are alarming. “The conglomerate is essentially asset rich, cash poor when it comes to having investment ‘readies’ to hand.” Peel, they argue, is “little more than a brand name… concerned first and foremost with cobbling finance deals together piecemeal from a bewildering array of sources, some of them highly questionable.” Worryingly, researchers state that, for all the public know, Peel “could be an edifice built almost entirely (and precariously, in the current economic climate) upon ‘virtual’ finance.” Witheringly, they point out that “Peel is heavily reliant upon other people’s money to fund its enormous ambitions.” The true amount of public cash handed over is unknown, but they estimate that “the conglomerate has received hundreds of millions of pounds worth of public UK and EU funding over the years.” It follows that the “grandiose” claims of turning Liverpool into a rival of Dubai should be treated sceptically. “The reality is that Peel has very little of the money needed to see these schemes through”, researchers claim. “It is therefore currently doing what it does best – financing and refinancing, travelling to wealthy but unpredictable and problematic nations such as China and India in search of investment.” Some deals, such as a joint Liverpool venture with the Chinese company Sam Wu
Investments and its murky president Stella Shiu, are questionable. “Given her reported seniority and influence,” they point out, “there is remarkably little information on record.” Peel is not accused of acting illegally. Its business practices are perhaps not unusual. But a private company has gained responsibility for huge swathes of the North West’s economic future and its activities “have become semi-political, as the lines have blurred between public sector and private sector interests.” Indeed, its “indisputably privileged position in terms of access, ‘insider’ knowledge and information” makes it “hardly surprising that there is a perception Peel has local governance – if not local authorities themselves – in its pockets.” The proposed Atlantic Gateway – a web of Peel-led projects stretching along the ship canal from the planned Port Salford to the Irish Sea – means the company’s regional influence is likely to increase in the future. Manchester City Council, historically wary since the privatisation of the ship canal in the 1980s, has so far kept Peel at arm’s length. Nevertheless, Manchester’s leader Sir Richard Leese together with Liverpool’s Mayor Anderson are reportedly in discussions facilitated by Whittaker over how to strengthen ties with the Isle of Man. The island’s chief minister, Allan Bell, told local media that ideas include “developing links with China to use the Isle of Man as a tax neutral base for the importation of goods in the UK and EU”, particularly through Peel’s interests in Liverpool’s docklands. Bell insisted that imported goods would still be subject to VAT and there would be “no prospect of anyone losing out”. Then again, who exactly benefits? MediaCityUK is held up as a regeneration success story, but as ExUrbe recognise “the jury is still firmly out” as to what benefits, if any, it will bring to working class Salfordians. If the plans for Liverpool Waters pan out – a big if – the same segregated pattern of wealthy companies aside a few low paid service jobs is likely. ExUrbe’s findings have been rubbished, with Anderson dismissing the report as “conspiracy theory”. But even if the North West’s political leaders ignore it, we can’t afford to. MULE is a Manchester based non-profit independent media project, looking to promote social justice by getting out the news and views you won’t find elsewhere, from the rainy city and beyond. They are currently recruiting volunteers for various roles, from editors and writers to campaigners. manchestermule.com
Criminal Velocity. A Fine Example. Samuel Buckley.
At Moss Side fire station, Paul Beckett – cycle trainer for Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – sits with his hands neatly in his lap waiting patiently for latecomers. His tight buttocks perched confidently on a desk in front of a crowd of 30. He is trim, all the way from his cropped, greying hair and his lilac V-necked sweater down to the snug fitting office trousers that will never get caught in his gears. Everything about him cuts a streamline figure. Perfect for slicing through the city on his two-wheeled steed. A solid constitution of well-assembled safety amidst the battlement of chaos that makes up the rush hour crowd, clamouring home in a worn and depleted state. And I am there, in the crowd, admiring the evolved functionality of Paul Beckett. But why? It’s a rare sunny afternoon in April. I am rattling down Oxford Road on my bike, enjoying the warm breeze, when suddenly a balding man in a plump hi-vis jacket leaps out in front of me shouting, “BIKE STOP!” I slam on my brakes, they bring me to a nonchalant halt; my lips inappropriately, softly meet the outstretched palm of my impeder. “Sorry,” I say. All the fun of my journey flies out of the window as my cyclist superiority complex kicks in. I huff and feign like I am pressed for time. On the other end of a walkie-talkie a plain-clothed officer stationed a little farther up the road gives testimony that I have run a red light. Banged to rights I still argue injustice. “I will not be the tragic victim of this shoulder to shoulder Stagecoach mayhem,” I bawl. “It is pivotal that we cyclists get ahead.” I receive a £30 fine. There is the chance of reprieve if I present myself at the Moss Side fire station two weeks later for a talk on cycling safety.
accidents in the city centre. Each week, from Monday to Wednesday, volunteer police officers will be stationed on Oxford Road to monitor and sanction both motorists and cyclists alike. When we are told that there have been a high number of motorists given fixed penalty notices throughout the scheme I can feel our collective cycling egos gently restored. However, my ego is deflated when I realise that the £60 fixed penalty notice I received in the post for driving in a bus lane is from the very same scheme on the very same day. I keep quiet and slink into my chair. I am a crook. Directed by a diehard cyclist, the talk is made less to feel like a witch hunt and more like an honest and fair attempt to increase the awareness of everyone on the roads, and this is important. As a cyclist I have ashamedly found myself using vulnerability as an excuse to put the responsibility of my safety into the hands of motorists. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be vigilant. Really I do. But I sometimes feel that I should be given special allowances, like running a red light to get away from traffic. Despite how we decide to traverse the city we have all got to be aware that the space is there for sharing and that the responsibility for everyone’s safety is there for sharing too. Of course, I don’t deserve a soap box. I am a crook. Please imagine me delivering this message of hope not riding a bike, not driving a car, but hobbling along, chained in manacles.
So here I am, amidst the scourge of Manchester’s cycling underbelly. Red light runners, phone users, pavement abusers. Between us we’ve done it all, and got caught.
Manchester is fast becoming a cycling city, in fact it has recently been shortlisted to become the UK’s first named ‘cycling city’. A bid to secure £20 million from the Government’s Cycle City Ambition Grant, to be spent over the next two years to improve conditions for cycling in the Greater Manchester area is the beginning of a bigger scheme called Velocity 2025. The target is to increase the number of people cycling in the next 12 years through the construction of ‘cycle and ride stations’ and segregated cycle paths to link businesses, education buildings and municipal sites in and around the city.
The scheme that finds us in this room is a joint effort by the Greater Manchester Police and the TfGM to tackle the high statistics of road
For more information and to back the bid, visit: cycling.tfgm.com/velocity.
Photo by Dariusz Filip. Taken at Oxford Road Bike Flash Mob, organised by Coffee Cranks Coop
Red Handle Paint Brush PAGE 8
Michael Palin. Benign anarchy. Interview by Sam Walby.
If there’s one person I’ve interviewed who needs no introduction, it’s Michael Palin, but in the interests of fairness and consistency I’ll provide you with one anyway. Growing up in Broomhill, Sheffield before reading Modern History at Oxford, he remains one of the UK’s best loved sons, having made his mark on the world through arguably the most influential comedy group of all time. I grew up with The Holy Grail and Life of Brian, and I’m still waiting for a comedian or group of comedians who can evoke the same level of universal hilarity as Monty Python. I have a feeling I may be waiting a while. Since the Pythons went their separate ways, Palin has become almost as well known for his travel documentaries for the BBC, among them Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole and Full Circle. He is also an accomplished author and once achieved that pinnacle of human achievement – a cameo in Home and Away. I spoke to Michael ahead of his In Conversation event at the Crucible on 13th June as part of this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest. Why do you think it’s important to travel? I don’t think it’s essential to travel, but I do think it broadens the mind. The old cliché is true. I’ve learnt a lot more about the world from actually seeing it, in a way that I wouldn’t have done if I’d sat at home and just read the papers and listened to the news broadcasts, because they tend to headline everything. When you travel as I’ve been lucky enough to do on all these programmes, you see little things that you never expect to see – houses in very poor areas, houses in very rich areas, people being exploited, people doing the exploiting. But you actually do get your own view of the rest of the world, and I think that’s quite important because in many cases it reduces one’s fear and anxiety about the world which you might get from reading the media. It makes the people of the rest of the world seem slightly closer to you, and I do feel that one understands that we share more than divides us. So that’s important. I also just enjoy and always have enjoyed the process of travelling. I love geography, so I can look at a wonderful landscape or a waterfall with as much satisfaction as I can folk dancing and things like that. It’s all part of it. I think one of the reasons your travel documentaries have been so successful is that you’re discovering these places with the viewer, rather than reeling off a load of facts given to you by a researcher. That’s the way it’s turned out. Around The World in 80 Days has been extremely successful and it’s the one documentary that everybody remembers, but it was sort of born out of inadequacy really. I wasn’t an accomplished television presenter. I wasn’t chosen as an anthropologist or a journalist. I had no expertise to take with me other than a sense of humour, a curiosity about the world and an ability to talk to people and get on with people. If some of my encounters didn’t work straight away, and the language was a problem, or the local customs were a problem, rather than turn the camera off, that was the time when one got something that had some impact. By the end
of Around the World in 80 Days I realised that my everyman approach, rather than the expert approach – my approach in going into situations without knowing quite how I was going to come out the other end – was quite appealing to audiences. That gave us a bit more courage to take on a second series, which was Pole to Pole. In a past interview, you said that while travelling you were more disturbed by the power of the few than general poverty. Can you elaborate on that? I think the most depressing thing is to be in a country where people are cowled by whatever force is running the country – people who are unable to say what they feel, people who are guarded and watched all the time. You realise that in some of the countries that I’ve been to there is a very strong central authority, which may seem to keep the country quiet but at the same time I think creates its own sort of authoritarian regime which shuts people up. It doesn’t have to be a dictator or a ruthless monarch. It can just be powerful corporations or a few people with a lot of money – that can be just as distorting as naked central power. What I mean really is that the fewer people who have influence in a country, the less open and natural and straight-forward the people in that country will be. The other thing is that I have been to many places where people are very poor. I remember travelling once on a plane and there were some Americans. I said I had just been to India and they said they couldn’t go to India. I say, “Why, some problem with the visas?” No, they just shook their heads and said, “The poverty”. There’s this dreadful attitude that poor people are somehow different from us. Yes, they’re different – they’re more inventive, they’re brighter and a lot of them are able to survive much better than we probably would if all our systems collapsed. This is not always the case. I’ve seen poverty which is purely corrosive and depressing. But in a lot of smaller areas, where small communities have not got a lot of money, they are stronger communities, they help each other, they make use of everything they’ve got, and they refuse to give in to self pity. For them, just getting their child to school or cooking a meal is a success for that day. Poverty’s never a good thing, but being poor does not necessarily mean you are ground down. I’ve seen indomitable spirit in a lot of poor people and a great deal of angst in rich people. What are your predominant memories of growing up in Sheffield? The atmosphere of the city was governed by the very traditional heavy industry. We lived on the west side, which was residential and very comfortable, and on the east side were these huge steelworks. Going down there was quite extraordinary, because those were the days when you could just see flames belching from furnaces and metal being poured. It was a tremendous enterprise. The centre of the city was pretty rough, pretty dirty from all the pollution, whereas on the west side it was quite nice because you were on the edge of the Peak District. So I was halfway between this very heavy industrial side of Sheffield and the rather beautiful, idyllic world of the Peak District, where I could go off on my bike rides and all that. It was a city of very strong images, partly because of the hills, and partly PAGE 9
as I say because of this difference between the Peak District – the great crags, like something out of an American western – and then on the other side of the city this huge, powerful furnace of industry. The wind always blew from the west, so generally speaking the industrial pollution all blew out over Rotherham and Doncaster.
really losing something. We’re losing that great moment where you as an individual say, “I have made this connection in my way and that’s what makes me different to everybody else”. It’s keeping those little connections that I think is vitally important, otherwise we do get manipulated and we do get used.
It was quite dramatic. At the same time I think we felt rather cut off from the rest of Britain. You felt Sheffield had its own very strong character, but it was quite an introverted character, unlike Manchester or Leeds, which in those days would be seen as more modern cities. We felt a little bit left out, but it gave Sheffield its character and strength.
I think nowadays the Internet has many good things going for it, but there’s two sides to it. One is it puts us in touch with anyone all over the world, but we don’t actually meet them, see them, touch them. We don’t know quite who they are but we think we’ve got all these friends. The virtual world is actually run by a few people, a few companies that are making colossal amounts of money. And what are they going to do with all that? Bill Gates has been a fantastic example to people. He’s spent billions of his money on aid in Africa and I think that’s a thoroughly good thing, but the rest of them are just trying to avoid paying tax and that’s not very seemly.
Your book Hemingway’s Chair deals with the effect of big businesses on local communities. How do you think things have changed since the book came out and how do you feel about the topic now? I don’t think a great deal has changed. The story wasn’t meant to be written as a political story particularly. It’s a story about a man who works in a Post Office and sees himself as Ernest Hemingway. But then as I wrote it I became far more interested in what the Post Office represented in the community. And it did represent a place where people met up and gathered together. I can remember queuing in the Post Office with my mum or dad, and then they’d meet someone in the opposite queue and someone would start talking, and the person at the Post Office knew a lot about what was going on in the community. I like very much the personal touch. Places where people can get together and communicate physically and meet each other are quite important – whether it’s a social hall, a church, a garage or whatever – and the Post Office was one of those places, where people were in touch with other people’s lives and could be given advice by people there without having to look for it on obscure phone lines. So I thought that element of the Post Office was very important and I could see it being gradually eroded. Now it’s moved to the back of a supermarket. Buying stamps and licences is just another part of the buying process. I’m not saying there’s anything wonderful about queuing, or the proliferation of licences, or the paperwork that people used to have to go through, but the Post Office itself did bring people together. Now it’s part of the whole commercial world and, 19 years since I wrote the book, at last the government has come clean and they’re going to privatise Royal Mail. I was just suggesting that a place where people get together, meet each other, talk on an equal basis – not necessarily as customers and salespeople – is a good thing, and once it’s gone it can’t really be easily replaced. It ties in with travelling as well, because as places become increasingly homogenised the joy of travelling becomes reduced, doesn’t it? Yes, I think it’s so important really to try and realise that your own input is what’s vital to any part of your life. If people say, “We’ve got such a good deal that we can’t actually get out of the coach until someone tells us to,” then I think we’re
I feel the world is more open in some ways, but in other ways it’s more closed. We’re actually much more controlled about how we can get in touch with people. Once electricity goes we’ve had it. The people who live in the slums of Calcutta will actually find that their life hasn’t been changed at all, because they never had electricity or television or fridges. You’ve spoken before about silliness being a kind of “benign anarchy”, and of course the foundation of Monty Python was silliness and absurdity. Which topics in particular do you think need silliness applying to them? I think big business certainly does. That’s the one that really is the great enemy of silliness. But silliness is just a way of expressing yourself and breaking out of a mould, and saying, “I’m not going to do this thank you very much, I’d rather do that”. So there’s a slightly stroppy element to silliness. But it has to be accompanied by humour. I think just getting angry without seeing the absurdity is not good. It’s about standing back and looking at the situation we’re in. You see it online. People come up with some very funny comments about the world and the way it’s going. I think that’s very, very important. We just have to realise when and how we’re being manipulated, and try and say, “Well, if it’s absurd we should laugh at it.” Laughter is a great way of irritating people in power who just want to extend their power and influence. It makes them stop and think a bit. I should know – I played Pontius Pilate in Life of Brian. To be up there with all your Roman clutter on, your centurions behind you and 600 people lying on their backs, pointing at you and laughing, you realise that actually, this is what we should’ve done to Stalin and Hitler. The first thing people in power do is try and stamp out silliness. They stamp out humour because it mocks them and makes their position slightly more difficult. That’s why it’s so important. Tickets for Michael Palin In Conversation at the Crucible in Sheffield on 13 th June can be booked at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
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Food. CRAVING AUTHENTICITY. BONNIE YEUNG.
Mass digitisation has created the ultimate democracy, where all men and women are equal, their thoughts all given the same credence and virtual space, measured by clicks, pixels and social media clout. One way out of this hall of mirrors is for people to occupy themselves with physical, authentic experiences. Whilst modern technology makes everything liquid and ethereal, food is one of those universal things that everyone can relate to. Food anchors us to our bodies and our corporeal lives. As individuals, we look to distinguish ourselves and all our experiences from everyone else’s – nowhere more so than in food – and in doing this we have become gluttons for authenticity. The hunger for authentic food or ‘foodie culture’ over the past decade has venerated all things small-batch, local, organic and independent, all with premium price tags. We are constantly told in hash-tags and strap lines that just down the road there is a farmers’ market, cooperative, small holding or eatery with morally superior values. According to glossy cookbooks and buxom finger-sucking TV chefs, this is how we’re now supposed to eat. It may be more expensive but there is a widely held perception that it’s healthier, more nutritious and tastes better. It’s closer to how a benign Nature intended us to eat. Authenticity has become yet another brand value to be cooked into a commodity, and diners are more often than not happy to take this spectral show of a presumed virtue as the truth. It is a difficult idea to pin down. I believe it is a notion that is tied to authorship and not provenance, so a working definition might be that dishes which are true to themselves and the person cooking them are authentic. This undermines the common belief that authentic food is interlinked with geographical origin. Does one have to have cultural capital, be well-read or well-travelled to be a ‘foodie’? The idea that a dish or a flavour is genuinely from somewhere else is a chimera. As long as something tastes good, stimulates our senses and nourishes our bodies, how much do we care? Authentic food is a reductive concept. Food is food, and it either appeals to our senses or it does not. I am British-born Chinese and am the third generation of custodians for my family restaurant Yang Sing. But the fact that I have not lived in China does not mean our food is inauthentic – it is an authentically Yang Sing experience. I am a part of a diasporal community that has migrated from China to Manchester, and in our adopted home we have recreated our Sino-Mancunian interpretation.
In short, authenticity can’t just be about place. Even the ingredients used will taste different depending on where they’re grown. After all, what are the dishes eaten day after day up and down the British Isles without a sense of place? The sweet and sour chickens and spring rolls of the world, can they never be authentic? One must also understand that ‘authentic’ does not mean ‘timeless’. Classic dishes evolve. The influences of travel, trade and migration, the availability of ingredients and changes in technology are all factors in this evolution. There are of course a lot of products on supermarket shelves and eateries to be aware of. There is a lot of simulated authenticity; labels, slogans and packaging that transport us from the grey urban sprawl of Manchester to the colourful streets of Hong Kong or Saigon, where tooting mopeds whizz past pavements, where we envision plastic chairs beside food carts. Buying into authenticity flatters the consumer and projects an air of discriminating scholarship, creating an ersatz image in the mind of the prospective buyer. This is not to say don’t try them. Just be aware. The knowledge of the old culinary masters, their traditions and recipes demand some respect. It’s useful for me and my peers to learn and be curious about a dish’s origins, its ingredients, its cultural context and the nuances that have created the body of food knowledge that we have at our fingertips. Equally I work hard to be open-minded and accept that traditional recipes come in many variations and change over time, and that different chefs and kitchens come with different techniques. Having said all of this, when dining out and exploring the warren of restaurants, cafes and kitchens in and around Manchester I do prefer to patronise independent eateries, because it makes the whole experience all the more interesting and varied. We not only consume the food put before us, but also the story of the place, the story of its owners, their love for their business and their passion for food. Eating is very much a subjective affair. Eat authentically or non-authentically, it doesn’t matter. Don’t let anyone tell you how to eat. Let your body and your palette be your guide and if the memory of a taste lingers in your mouth and your memory, all else can be forgotten.
DAMSON ECCLES CAKES. These delicious treats were first sold in 1793 by James Birch on the corner of Church Street in Salford. Years later my Grandma made them for us when we went round to visit. Now I make them with the leftover jam that doesn’t fit into jars. They work with any jam but damson is my favourite.
For The Pastry. 225g plain flour 175g butter Pinch of salt Water
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about 3mm thickness then, using a plain 8cm cutter, cut the dough into circles. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each pastry circle and then brush the edges of the pastry with water. Bring the sides together and seal into crescent shaped parcels. Now bring the corners of the parcels up toward the centre and seal together by pinching. Turn the cakes upside down so that the seam is on the underneath. Gently roll to flatten slightly and pat them into a round shape. Place the cakes on a greased baking sheet and make three small incisions in the top of each one. Brush with milk, sprinkle with caster sugar and bake at 220°C for 15 mins or until golden. Cool on a rack and serve warm with mascarpone or cream, or just by themselves.
For The Filling. 200g damson jam 5 sage leaves, torn Zest of one orange 1 tsp butter To Bake. Milk A sprinkle of caster sugar
Elderflower Cordial. Elder is flowering in abundance all over Manchester. Here’s just one simple way to utilise the floral flavours as a refreshing cordial.
25-30 elderflower heads 1 ½ litres boiling water 1kg sugar Zest of 1 lime and 1 lemon
Wrap butter in foil and freeze for one hour. Sieve flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Hold the butter by its foil wrapping and grate it carefully into the bowl (this is easier if you dip the butter in flour before grating).
Ensure there are no insects on the flower heads, then place heads and zest in a bowl. Pour boiling water over elderflower, cover and leave overnight.
With a palette knife cut the butter into the flour until the mixture forms crumbs, then add enough water to form a dough that leaves the bowl clean. Wrap the pastry in cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour.
Next day, strain the water through a clean tea towel. Gently heat liquid to melt the sugar, then bottle and enjoy diluted on the coming hot summer days!
Add zest and sage to a pan with butter and cook for 2 minutes, then add jam and warm gently but do not boil. Leave to cool and for the flavours to infuse.
Recipes by Samuel Buckley. Photo by Mari Ruth Oda. PAGE 13
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Word life. UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER LITERATURE SOCIETY. COLLATED BY JOSH MCLOUGHLIN.
ZEN DIAPHRAGM. I admit that relying for the subject matter of this feature on the enthusiasm of students to find time between the twin pressures of crippling hangovers and skulking round Sainsbury’s looking for the cheapest baked beans in the universe caused me some concern, but I had no reason to worry – the response was astounding. The University of Manchester’s Literature Society cultivates a passion for all things literary – my prompt for this project was ‘say what you want, how you want’ – and choosing entries for publication from the vast amounts of great writing I received was difficult, but I’m sure you will agree that there rests on these pages some thrilling and deeply profound writing. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Josh Mcloughlin. facebook.com/groups/uom.lit.soc/ email@example.com
I Breath into air. Love never followed like breath, into two. Air follows. In a turn, I wake. Eyelid yawning, I lift air. With a hand, catch an opalescent itch of sunlight. Here I wake in air and follow with breath which turns into the air I turn. With breath, I wake II and years never follow, but wait. Out the window, I see branches before I see the window
A POET’S POEM. Would it please you to know what is truth? Well this is true.
glaze rain opaline. I breathe the years and wait to follow. As the sun rises, a voice splits into breath as two turn behind the wall where love follows. I wake, in two turns, to a breath as
Why is it true?
Because I say it is true.
the sun rises, raw. Split beyond
And I am a poet (a maker of meaning, not a curator) So trust me.
and between the sky, peach one side plum the other, split oaken by branches. All split, when seen. Nothing hollow. Branches wait to wear leaves too. Voices follow where they leave
a breath, nothing. Hollow with love the wall splits open air in two. Ah! Voices follow where breath follows! And I wake, yearning.
COLOUR ME TURQUOISE.
seeing is bel-
A man in green strides across a road as he crosses he eyes over his shoulder a man who can afford to wait.
ieving. (or so i’m told) but what i hear is poison. you took sea drenched pebbles; from her eyes. stole stars from the skies.
The waiting man has nowhere to be. So, he lights up every few minutes, red like the tip of cigarette and glares at the hurrying man. The red man watches a car go past. Despite his half-arsed hands-in-pockets pose it seems he is pissed off at the moving tyres.
thread on to strings of loneliness; a turquoise bundle. tied around my neck. secrets are jewels but kiss me precious! delicately. trapped in sea-soaked dreams. tender mess oh, caught in nets. feet bound; heart drowned; eyes wondering, wandering. now i find i hold her treasures like a crown. and now you find your turquoise tears
“Tired”. A word the green man uses a lot. “I’m tired of your excuses, you’ll never get anywhere” as he fires a man at work. Or, “I’m too tired” to his kid, with a book, or his wife, in their bed. The red man is tired too- tired of boredom. Standing around seems fun to someone who rushes around all day, but really it’s like watching paint dry. In his case- red paint. Red is his definition. Red with anger. Red like a traffic light. Red paint flows through him. The green man can’t walk away from this either. Green with envy. Green like a traffic light. Green runs through him in the veins under his skin.
are all alone. They both want to escape their boxes but they are stuck.
The green man thinks he can act on this. He walks into the edge of his box, falls over out of view, only to reappear unchanged. The red man his given up on his escape. His nonchalant arms now look limp like those of a hanged man. His light goes out, only to come on again. They are required to be the green man and the red man.
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A RIGHT ONE. NAMING CONSTRUCTS. DAVID DUNNICO.
Architects dream of what they would build if developers let them. Developers dream of money – they’d erect piles of baked beans if it would pay better than concrete. Actually, the University of Manchester’s Visitors Centre does look like a tin can. The problem is, whilst Heinz might boast of 57 varieties, developers seem to have just 1 – or rather ‘One’. There are lots of very average buildings being built – sorry, “developed” – in Manchester and lots of them are called One, a bit like gadget makers adding an ‘i’ or ‘e’ to appear oh-so 90s. One Piccadilly. Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of Manchester has been the site of a lunatic asylum and for many years an Italianesque sunken garden. In 2002 it was rebuilt to a design by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It’s never been universally loved, largely because it features a very big plain concrete wall and every summer the grassed bits turn to mud. Recently it’s been suggested that some more grass could be glued to the concrete wall to soften things up a bit. The redevelopment of Piccadilly Gardens was paid for by virtue of the council letting a developer put up a shed in a corner of the gardens. Actually it’s a six-storey, 150,000 square foot office building. It’s unremarkable, deliberately inoffensive and clad in brick to make sure it doesn’t go with the concrete. It is inoffensively called One Piccadilly Gardens. And, as this is an ex-garden and not a street, there isn’t a Two or Three Piccadilly Gardens. Manchester One. 500 yards south east of One Piccadilly is 53 Portland Street, a tall office building built in 1963 and unimaginatively named (after the street) Portland Towers. Last year Bruntwood tarted up the building and re-branded it Manchester One. In tarting it up they lost its one distinguishing feature: the canary yellow sidewall, which had been painted as a giant advertising hoarding for the city’s 2002 Commonwealth Games logo.
One St Peter’s Square. Follow the tramlines from Piccadilly, down Mosley Street to St Peter’s Square – the civic centre of the city. Here the 1930s Town Hall Extension curves around Central Library. These two are arguably the best buildings in the city centre and are nearing the end of a major refurbishment. In the 1990s, the square’s Cenotaph and memorial garden was joined by a dirty great tram stop. On the other side of the square, a 13-story office building called One St Peter’s Square is going up. One Mancunian said, “It will fit perfectly amongst a succession of unimaginative buildings”. He could have added unimaginatively titled ones. The developers are hedging their bets a little by saying the building may also be known as Peterloo House. Elsewhere in the Square will be a memorial for the Peterloo Massacre, when in 1819 cavalry charged a crowd of 60,000, who were protesting for parliamentary reform, killing 15. One First Street. Whilst the Town Hall Extension was being renovated, the council moved many of their staff to a shared building run by KPMG called One First Street. There isn’t a Two First Street. Actually, there isn’t a First Street; it’s on Albion Street. So, the address is One First Street, 1 Albion Street. Not surprisingly this still causes a few problems for readers of the A-Z, users of sat-navs, Google Maps and everyone else other than the committee who called it One First Street. Talking of bland and innocuous, The Cornerhouse arts centre, currently in the old porn cinema on a corner on Oxford Road, will be moving to First Street – I mean Albion Street – and calling themselves Home. Hmmm. Perhaps the Co-op should re-brand the CIS Building as C1S. David Dunnico is a documentary photographer from Manchester. dunni.co.uk
Photo by David Dunnico
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CONSENT TO DISSENT. PROTEST AND REVOLUTION IN ART. STEFANIE ELRICK.
Intrinsically bound to all civilised societies, ‘revolution’ is a buzz word commandeered by the media and arts because it carries the potential for transformation. Its essence is struggle, old ways vanquished by the energy of the new. How do we channel these emerging forces constructively if they are fuelled by the desire to destroy? Can political art be used to communicate effective strategies for cultural change? Two exhibitions in Manchester tackle this theme from very distinct perspectives. Anguish and Enthusiasm, an exhibition spanning two centuries asks, ‘What Do You Do With Your Revolution Once You’ve Got It?’, exploring the post-revolutionary moment when the reassessment begins (because after all a revolution is not a garden party). The Art of Protest showcases young artists working under the curriculum-led ‘NOISE Re-Masters’ project, launched as a response to the youth riots in August 2011. NOISE challenged students to express their discontent through art, exhibiting the results alongside recognised masters of creative anarchy Banksy, Gillian Wearing and Billy Bragg, amongst others. The Cornerhouse’s collection is dense, crossing a vast expanse of historical and geographical space. It’s at times abstract, with the anguish and enthusiasm constrained by the history lessons necessary to access its full meaning. Sarah Pierce’s ‘Gag’ sets the tone, a post-post-modern installation (organised piles of rubbish) appearing alongside Mathieu Abonnenc’s ‘Ça va ça va on continue’, a cinematic meditation on subjectivity and displacement. A new commission by Andreas Bunte, ‘Kuntlische Diamanten’, documents the making of artificial diamonds – a metaphor for technological revolution? – and Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘Chung Yuo China’ (banned by its commissioners, The People’s Republic of China) was only released in 2004 and is three and a half hours long. The curators have kept a scholarly distance throughout, peering through a retrospective lens while offering no progressive conclusions. Outside, however, a mural by the Trust Your Struggle collective pays tribute to Oscar Grant III, a victim of police brutality whose death instigated riots in the local communities of Oakland, California. Isolated from the rest of the exhibition, it’s on show to anyone passing by at the crossroads of Whitworth and Oxford Streets. It reveals the most about how art might answer the collection’s question. When painting the original mural, the group of artists
responded directly to a cultural moment and created a piece that owned itself and unwittingly became a community shrine. The work found its way across continents in a new form with universal relevance in a localised space. Borne of social injustice, it speaks a visual language accessible to all. I asked the artists responsible whether or not they believed themselves to be activists, and Miguel Perez responded, “We’re not activists. We’ve been to the Philippines where people are living through this stuff daily. We just paint pretty pictures.” A refreshing response. The Art of Protest approaches its subject matter in an equally immediate and often light-hearted way, including painting, textile, graffiti, sculpture, poetry, film work, photography and signage. From Matt Brookes’s sardonic comic caricature, ‘Referendumb’, to Marco Monterzino’s sculpture, ‘The Ark of Many Voices’, which he carried across various cities capturing the voices of people en route, it is robust and engaging. Emily Hatcher’s playful ‘Unannounced Incidents’ depicts students being crushed by the word D.E.B.T., whilst the sombre ‘Not To Be Forgot’ by Chloe Hamill is an embroidered tribute to asylum seekers and refugees whose failed applications to stay in the UK directly led to their deaths. Aesthetically uncomplicated yet unflinching, it never strays off topic. Guest speakers at the exhibition launch stressed the importance of creative struggle and constructive dissent in a healthy and progressive society. A full spectrum is on display between these exhibitions and it seems that the least self-conscious of these, the students and the street artists, are putting the medium to best use by accessing something culturally relevant and letting the work speak for itself. “Modern art is a disaster area,” says Banksy. “Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.” Perhaps, within the understated simplicity of the sketches, graffiti, scribbled banners and ‘pretty pictures’ seen on street corners, exists the radical revolutionary force that continues to elude theorists whilst being intuitively harnessed by a passionate youth. noisefestival.com – The Art of Protest continues until 30th June at People’s History Museum. cornerhouse.org/art/art-exhibitions – Anguish and Enthusiasm continues until 18 th August at Cornerhouse. Anguish and Enthusiasm at Cornerhouse: Photo by Paul Greenwood.
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Richard Combes. From everyday to extraordinary. Interview by Sam Walby.
Richard Combes is a renowned oil painter, born in Manchester but now based in New York. He trained as an architect before moving to the US to complete his master’s degree in painting at the New York Academy of Art. In 2004, he was elected a full member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, an honour that only a handful of international artists have had bestowed on them, and now splits his time between the US and the UK. We first saw Richard’s work in the flesh at an exhibition at Snig Hill Gallery in Sheffield and were immediately blown away by the composition and sheer detail. Though many of his subjects are commonplace, the way they are brought to life really is extraordinary. Can you describe the process of starting a new painting? My work is based on things I see in daily life – people, places, objects. Everything has a story behind it, especially older things. I like to imagine what’s happened in a space or to an object and somehow preserve it in my paintings. Once I’ve chosen my subject, I do a charcoal sketch and then build up the paintings over a series of stages. The details become more refined with each layer of paint. Where do you get your inspiration from? My surroundings, especially architecture. I originally trained as an architect and I’m drawn to old buildings that tell a story. In New York, where my studio is, I like to explore the city’s nooks and crannies. I like to see cities in close-up rather than expansive views. As a child, my parents took me to stately homes in the UK and that was the first time I saw oil paintings. I was subsequently inspired by 18 th century portraiture, the Impressionists and Surrealism. Tools. What do you use regularly and what is your favourite? I like to use a palette knife to give my work texture and various flathead brushes to give it detail. My favourite colours are the earth yellows – ochre and raw sienna.
to friends and watching classic old films. I also keep up with Premier League football and wish there were more places in New York to watch cricket! Which of your recent pieces have you enjoyed making the most? The series I’m working on now – reflections of buildings in pools of water, which I discovered one day while walking around New York after some snow had melted. I’ve been able to incorporate brighter colours into this series. How has your art evolved over time? I have a better sense of the themes and subjects that resonate with me and my work has become more ambitious in scale. How has art in general changed since you started? I think there’s been a resurgence of realist and figurative painting. In the US, several schools have been founded to encourage this type of work. I find this very promising. Any tips on how to survive and make money from your art? Do you find it important? One of the most difficult things is to know and find your place in the art world. Paint the subjects that interest you the most and you will do a good job. If you paint something that matters to you, it will be genuine and that integrity will show through. What do you dislike in art? Art that appears to be half-hearted. What makes you smile in art? Critics. Good advice you wish you’d been told earlier? The importance of networking.
How do you spend your days?
Stop by and see some of his new work at 2022NQ in the Northern Quarter from 7 th to 15 th June, with a private viewing on 7 th at 6pm. Exhibition curated by Heather Gilberthorpe in association with Dukeries Art Gallery.
If I’m not thinking about or doing my artwork, I enjoy talking
What other artistic media have had an effect on your art? Photography mainly. It has enabled me to capture fleeting moments and then I give them permanency in my painting.
Self Portrait PAGE 29
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Sound. World Music. Fred Oxby.
Perhaps one of the biggest banes in the life of a modern music listener is the excessive classification of sound at the hands of an ever-growing mass of music journalists, retailers and publishers. It’s easy to understand that when tasked with describing music, people are left struggling to produce material which exceeds mere description by using increasingly oblique and esoteric genre tags to help separate one thing from the next. I am largely forgiving of this vice, because after all we do need to be able to separate the work of Mozart from The Dead Kennedys. Furthermore, while of limited use, genre names like ‘aquacrunk’ have provided me with at least a few giggles over the years. And who can fault the vintage Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music for substituting hours of actually listening to music with trying to pin down the exact differences between neurofunk and trance ‘n’ bass. As I said, I can forgive. But one genre tag I cannot and will not abide is ‘world music’, which aside from being somewhat patronising to the artists in question, fails to describe what the music sounds like in any way. An anthropologist called Edward Saïd once said that the West studies and admires the Orient from a colonial perspective, never considering itself equal to its cousins but naturally capable of appreciating its subtleties. In a similar way, I think describing something as world music is an inherently patronising notion. Although as a westerner I naturally have a greater understanding of my own musical traditions, it is wrong to centralise western music in this way. Some people seem to use the term to describe music that is from other countries but has no established genre tag. When you take a trip to a record shop (online or not), a quick browse through the world music section can be an eclectic experience. You can jump between the jazzed-out, smokey traditional folk instruments of Anouar Brahem, one of Tunisia’s finest oud players, and the funk-driven grooves of Paris’s Orchestre National de Barbes without moving too far. While both these artists are excellent and worthy of note, they are not similar. The idea that someone could like both is not a given and when you include a third random selection from the world music vaults – a compilation of Mongolian throat singers, for the sake of example – it becomes clear that we are not dealing with a genre so much as a tag given to music which we lack commercial incentive to classify properly. To me, this idea sounds as strange as walking into a Peruvian record shop to find the European music section where DJ Friction, Radiohead,
S Club 7, Eiffel 65 and Mozart are housed under the same tag. Of course, that is not how Peruvian record shops are laid out, because the South American record industry doesn’t thrive on its own folk music, but on its exports, which often consists of artists singing westernised versions of local music. “Do you want some Brazilian folk music? Great! Look in the world music section, sir.” “Shakira?” “Yes sir, that’s over in the pop department.” It is perfectly reasonable to argue that location makes a difference to how one might describe music. Aficionados will all be aware (perhaps painfully) of the differences between East and West coast hip hop, and I can think of a handful of people who would stress the difference between Detroit techno and Berlin techno. But the world music tag defies these subtleties. How can the varied music of Zimbabwe be considered similar to music from Pakistan? How can music which comes from two unique perspectives, cultures and languages be classified under the same term? The truth might be that as Europeans we identify less with music from other cultures. This might explain why we need broader terms to catalogue and define what we consume from outside our immediate surroundings. This is consistent with the fact that African music became a lot more popular through the blues revival and through the work of fusion artists like Fela Kuti. As our culture becomes more and more diverse, we become more familiar with sounds from far away. Our producers and musicians become inspired and we listen in, much to our benefit. Why then, when we’ve come so far, should we not abandon the archaic idea that we have our complex, multi-layered musical society, standing apart from the rest of the world, only to be experienced at the odd world music festival once a year? We are happy to listen to foreign artists when they emulate our music and we are happy to listen to European artists when they take influence from other musical forms, but it seems we can’t engage foreign artists playing completely foreign music. If we were to reduce styles of music to their most basic genres, almost all would be without nationality tags. Detroit techno would simply be techno and Russian romanticism would just be romanticism, but world music wouldn’t change – it would still be a large cluster of music we haven’t had time to engage with on its own individual merits. Maybe it’s time to start.
live. VIDEO JAM.
IN THE LOOP FEAT SKITTLES AND FOX.
12TH MAY. ANTWERP MANSION.
17 TH MAY. ROADHOUSE.
REVIEWER – ANDREW ANDERSON.
REVIEWER – BEDOS MAVANUBU.
Incense burned, candles flickered light on shadowy faces and strange sounds echoed around the walls. One might be forgiven for thinking it was the meeting of a religious cult, but in fact it was the latest edition of Video Jam, back at its spiritual home, Antwerp Mansion. The cult analogy is not an altogether inappropriate one, as Video Jam has built up a faithful fanbase of both audience members and performers who keep coming back for more. For those uninitiated, Video Jam is a collaboration between filmmakers and musicians; the filmmakers provide silent films, which are then scored live.
The hip hop scene in Manchester wasn’t always as vibrant as it is now. Four years ago there was a lull, and In The Loop was born, initially as a collective featuring live musicians. The key to the night was the cypher, where local emcees and singers jumped on the mic. As host of the night my job is to make sure everybody gets a share and brings their own vibe to it. It’s not about how good you are, it’s about finding that moment and living it for what it is. The latest night at the Roadhouse was a perfect example of this. People who aren’t even rappers were jumping on the mic and killing it. A girl attending her first Loop was initially reluctant but shared her beautiful voice, before Rory from Manc band Age Of Glass blew the whole club away with his Nina Simone tribute, adding his own touch but keeping it short and sweet and leaving the crowd roaring.
The recent crop of Video Jams have been conceptual, and the theme for this edition was ‘fluids’, with the night curated by filmmakers from Falmouth. Watery wonders included the peaceful, and somewhat lonely, ‘Vertigo Experiment’ by Sarah Mercer, delicately scored by Rob Thorpe, and the striking time-lapse of Graham Gaunt’s ‘Passing Place Zenner’, accompanied by Fizzy Vicars. Their singer was the musical highlight of the evening, a sort of pastoral Gracie Slick, and the sound and sight intertwined wonderfully. This is the strength of Video Jam: when the right band is put to the right film you get something that is more than the sum of its parts, something that transcends the moment. It would be hard to imagine seeing this film again without Fizzy Vicars’ music.
That’s another thing I have to do, manage the overlap, keep the vibe going. From experienced people to those doing their first public performance, everyone needs to have a share. There’s a respectful boundary at In The Loop so I listen out for disses or provocation – some emcees need educating about sharing with those around them.
Elsewhere, Video Jam’s very own Sarah Hill produced a study of a carnival that was both visually entertaining and voyeuristically insightful. On the music front, Horrid, now something of a regular feature at these nights, were once again true to their name (I intend this as a compliment), while G A Williams’ guitar work was a psychedelic hillbilly revelation. There was also the odd technical glitch, including some humorously timed screaming feedback, which only added to the enjoyment of the evening; the whole point of a live event is that anything can happen, and mistakes are to be embraced.
Skittles absolutely killed it with his live band, together with Fox. I’ve wanted to book them for ages. Going back to the concept of Loop, we’ve always made sure local acts have a stage as the night wouldn’t exist without them. Skittles is a good look for the scene – part of a community of musicians and emcees who come to Loop anyhow, to enjoy the whole night and not just worry about it being about them. I remember when he was working on his album he came to the Loop BBQ, stayed the whole afternoon, dropped some bars in the cypher and really enjoyed himself. Fox is another example of a grass roots music head, he’s been around forever. Someone once said Fox “wasn’t hip hop” and he told them to go do their homework.
Video Jam continues to convert the masses with a concept that is simple yet effective, and one wonders why something like this hasn’t been done before, while feeling glad that it is happening now.
Anyone with a thirst for hip hop could come to any Loop and hear stone cold classics they wouldn’t in a mainstream club, together with brand new underground tracks made anywhere from Fallowfield to Flatbush.
SOUNDS FROM THE OTHER CITY. 5TH MAY. VARIOUS VENUES. REVIEWER – GED CAMERA. SFTOC is an urban music festival stretching along Salford’s Chapel Street, and ever willing to embrace technology and new ideas. The Skype room allowed live performances, such as by US based Pregnant, to be relayed from premises such as someone’s living room, directly into Islington Mill via t’interweb. Don’t fear the future, just the router crashing. A body and soul re-charging facility is found at Volkovean Centre, operated by whom else but the Volkov Commanders. Yes, you can have your whole mood changed by wrapping yourself in tinsel and baking foil, which channels the ethereal sprit of goodwill that has enveloped the festival, apparently. Michael C Taylor, aka one part of Hiss Golden Messenger, arrives having undertaken a short mini-tour covering Scotland, England and Ireland. Unfortunately his baggage may still be with Delta Airlines. His appearance with Will Tyler generated the greatest number of bodies to available space ratio of the day. It’s unclear what tour his clothing will next undertake. As the sun beamed down outside, the interior of the Angel Centre is blacked out. D Lucille of Die Hexen states that the sound “needs to be loud, really loud”. When the sound is really loud, the steady, metronomic beating of the drum commences while her lyrics are despatched with a level of concentrated restraint. The icy detachment fascinates and enthrals those present. Bathed in a shroud of darkness are Laser Dream Eyes, whose opening number sees Karl Astbury’s face as the solitary point of illumination. The malevolent sounds are based around intense drumming, with keyboards slowly merging in. One minute in and all light has disappeared. A cymbal is thrashed against the edge of the drums. A few more seconds pass before viewers realise that there has been a power cut and this section is not actually a part of the set. St Philip’s Church has as large a crowd as could be expected at a Christmas Service, here to see Stealing Sheep, an outfit that are gaining recognition for their… err pagan influences of the musical sort. Starting at the church entrance, the Sheep traipse up the aisle like a trio of pied pipers, trailed by the Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band, and finally congregating together on the altar. The eclectic mix of sounds had the upper tier of listeners hanging over the balcony edge wanting to see and hear more. Here’s to SFTOC ’14, which will be their 10 th.
Listings Recommended by Now Then.
8TH JUNE / ANTHONY BURGESS FOUNDATION / £8-£10. One of Manchester’s favourite musical sons steps up to literary themed venue on Cambridge Street. The folk-pop-hip-hop tunesmith performs with his good pals, Dr Butler’s Hatstand Medicine Band.
19TH JUNE / CASTLE HOTEL / £5-£6. Crowfoot Records aligns the US psych-folk finger picking whizz, Daniel Bachman, with a pair Manchester psych-folk finger picking whizzes, dbh and Tom Settle. This one’s for fans of Voice of the Seven Woods and Jack Rose.
20TH JUNE / SATAN’S HOLLOW / £1-£6. Dom Hz has assembled a scarily talented selection of hip hop and electronic artists to join a themed zombie night to launch his free EP, Everywhere. Skittles tops the list, with Kydro, FTKOSQ, Ape Cult and more. You get in for a quid if your costume passes the zombie validity test.
22 ND JUNE / ANTHONY BURGESS FOUNDATION / £6.50. A solo show for Liz Green, who probably wouldn’t have believed that an eagerly awaited second album would be in the pipeline for this winter if you’d told her back at her debut live show in Fuel Café. The following week the same venue hosts fellow locally based folky singer Nancy Elizabeth, supported by Dan Haywood.
28TH JUNE / KRAAK / £4. Last seen on Manchester’s shores in a tag team with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, Sonic Boom returns to command the turntables once more, this time alongside local pop pickers and birthday badge wearers for the night, Dots & Loops. Exclamatory rockers on the aA imprint, Plank!, are joined by Weird Era and Mind Mountain on the live billing.
FLAKO + MORE.
12 TH JULY / ISLINGTON MILL / £TBC. Mind On Fire and This City Is Ours team up once more having brought the likes of Lapalux, Shigeto, Mount Kimbie and Paul White to town in the past. If the clamour around Mount Kimbie’s sophomore LP is anything to judge by, this line-up will be packed with ones to watch.
12 TH & 13 TH JULY / PAVILION THEATRE / £15. Deliberately mysterious and obtuse, or just indecisive, Manchester’s Money have performed shows under various names. The Sways Records Bunker venue party graduates are now signed to Bella Union, and await a couple of buzz-defining MIF dates.
26TH -28TH JULY / STEPHEN PARK, SLAIDBURN / £70. The festival based in an idyllic Lancashire woodland clearing has added to its already fine roster. Hey! Manchester favourite Jesca Hoop tops the Saturday billing, with fellow MCR dwellers Magic Arm, Literature Thieves and Tokolosh also on board. King Creosote’s collab with The Earlies will be a fine finale.
IMAGES ROLLING. SWITCHFLICKER.
ESCAPE MUSIC. SELF-RELEASED.
REVIEWER – SAMUEL BUCKLEY.
REVIEWER – CHARLES VEYS.
“He’s brilliant!” cried Grandpa Joe. “He’s a magician! Just imagine what will happen now!”
Last month saw the arrival of the long-awaited sunshine that remains so elusive in Manchester. Sunglasses and sandals flood to makeshift barbecues and the vibrant social scene emerges into the open skies. What better setting to bring out a diverse debut album?
I first saw Magic Arm perform in 2011. He played at a small, indoor festival in Baden called One of a Million. After that he just stopped. And when Willy Wonka closed the gates of his chocolate factory and the entire globe had to surrender their depleted palates to Slugworth’s inferior chewing gum, Ficklegruber’s crappy iced treats and Prodnose’s claggy chocolate bars, we stood irresolutely in shambolic venues across the country enduring the sloppy marksmanship of loop pedal charlatans whose lo-fi attempts were without repute, whose vocal tones were not dulcet, whose song craft, via the hyped and all too often impossible platform of the loop station, was as inspiring as a crushed packet of cheap brand Hula Hoops, and our dreams of sweet, sweet music were crushed along with them. Magic Arm himself disappeared completely. “Wonka’s giant chocolate factory became silent and deserted. The chimneys stopped smoking, the machines stopped whirring, and from then on not a single chocolate or sweet [sound] was made.” The next I saw of Magic Arm was a year later at Ramsbottom Festival. As I said, he had not played a single gig, been seen at a single venue, had not offered any clue as to where he could be found, not to mention his complete lack of confectionery production. “And then something astonishing happened. One day, early in the morning. Thin columns of white smoke were seen to be coming out of the tops of the tall chimneys of the factory… Listen, you can hear the machines! They are all whirring again! And you can smell the smell of sweet [loops] in the air.” Magic Arm was making his second album. He’d been cooped up in his hit making factory for a year. “During that time nobody ever went in and nobody ever came out… What’s more, the chocolates and sweets [and tracks he’s] been turning out have become more fantastic and delicious all the time.” Images Rolling will pave your way for the year with everlasting enjoyability. Its innovation topples that of a great glass elevator. But don’t take Roald Dahl’s word for it. Suck it and see.
Escape Music is a jam-packed 19-track special crossing the boundaries of jazz, soul, funk, reggae and hip hop with the overarching rap support from Sparkz and Dr Syntax. Mouse Outfit itself consists of a nine-piece live band, an ensemble worthy of being awarded 2012’s Best Newcomer in Wordplay magazine. Partnerships on the release include, but are not limited to, Dubbul O, Fox, Black Josh and Lyricalligraphy, with production input from DJ Sammy B-Side. For the record, I have personally experienced the collective in a variety of locations from the depths of Hit & Run, in what was then Area 51, through Riot Jazz occasions to the nonconformist arches of Eurocultured. Talking tracks, the album has a large disparity in tempo, from the relaxed reggae beats of ‘Air Max’ to the energetic vibes of ‘Who Gwan Test’. Its wavering flow seems like a journey comprising of different stages with the title track, ‘Escape Music’, showcasing the bigger names on the album, with Dr Syntax, Sparkz and Kosyne spitting hypnotic verses over a trancelike backing. The problem with the album is that the band seems to have turned into just that: a backing sound. Previous songs like ‘Cuban Boogie’ and ‘Dig This’ married the vocals with the music and each played their part evenly, each allowing the other space to be heard. The new album concentrates on the lyrics over the melody, which results in the magic of Mouse Outfit being buried under periodic bars. Whereas beforehand they played with MCs, the conversion to rap artists has meant that, despite an improvement in diction, the emphasis has been taken from the unique orchestral feel. Even the final editing on the album has smoothed over the jazz-like coarse notes that gave the band their edge in the first place. But Mouse Outfit is a well-known name on the Manchester circuit and with an ever-increasing roster of names working in tandem it is only a matter of time before they are more familiar nationwide. I would estimate a very busy year ahead for this nine-piece.
FROM THE KITES OF SAN QUENTIN.
DAN INZANI AND ALABASTER DEPLUME.
7.83HZ: EARTH CHORUS. VICTORIA WAREHOUSE RECORDS.
THE JESTER. DEBT RECORDS.
REVIEWER – ALEX ADAMS.
REVIEWER – SAMUEL BUCKLEY.
Skittish beats, smashing plates, a deep electric buzzing. There’s always a danger when dabbling this much into glitch for songs to descend into an incoherent mash. Yet FTKOSQ have found the cure; cutting through the noise come siren-like vocals which manage to hold everything together. Suddenly they become the driving force, whipping the juddering soundscape into a massive, explosive mix of chaos and beauty. This is awesome in the classical sense of the word.
This slinky, kaleidoscopic maelstrom is the effort of a collaboration between pianist Dan Inzani of The Mandibles and Count Bobo and the Bullion and singer/songwriter, poet, saxophonist, non-machine-washable Alabaster Deplume. They are joined by ten of the most fiercely talented musicians Bristol or Manchester has to offer, or anywhere for that matter.
The final song of this new EP, ‘Daimones’ encapsulates everything that makes FTKOSQ burn so bright; from the mellow, intimate beginnings to the feverish anthemic finale, the song never lets you go. Manchester should be proud to have such a band flying the flag of its electronica scene.
The input of all involved is apparent and inevitable as the record bubbles away, sometimes simmering gently under Deplume’s derisive observations, sometimes rolling dangerously to boiling point as heavily as Mulatu Astatke’s big, awesome grooves. Even if ‘Captain Marzipan’ isn’t your favourite track on this album, it’s the best title of any track ever. Fact. Even if poetry is not your thing and Ethio-informed jazz doesn’t move you, The Jester may be on repeat on your silly iPhone for a while. No kidding.
Old Friend EP. First Word Records.
Dancing. The Leaf Label.
REVIEWER – JAMIE GROOVEMENT.
REVIEWER – IAN PENNINGTON.
The evolution of Matt ‘Frameworks’ Brewer continues with his second release on First Word. If you need a reference point, think a northern RJD2 chillin’ with Aim. The eponymous title track stands out as a bit of an epic and sets the tone for the EP, with JP Cooper dripping bittersweet soul over lush strings. ‘Fireworks’ is the most hip hop oriented of the four tracks, all horn stabs and subtle hooks, with ‘Patience’ offering deeper layers, highlights of both being what’s quickly becoming a trademark pre-climax break down. Belleruche’s Kathrin DeBoer is a perfect match for Matt’s melancholic Manc cinematica on ‘Breaks My Heart’ – this is music firmly rooted in the Grand Central legacy but rippling away into fresh directions rather than retreading old ground.
Nancy Elizabeth has chosen the right time to return with her third album, Dancing. She joins other female folkies equally suited to spacious church venues, and her songs bear comparisons. Certainly, ‘Indelible Day’ and ‘Shimmering Song’ have all the hallmarks recently rubber stamped by Laura J Martin. Among her chromosome contemporaries – Stealing Sheep, Literature Thieves and the like – the main similarity is vocally. All opt for the 1960s pitches of Sandy Denny, Joni Mitchell et al, but it’s not a pastoral frolic in daisy chains, cheesecloth shirts and flares. Not by any stretch. Perhaps influenced by her diversely assembled label mates – Murcof, Efterklang, Polar Bear – Nancy is drawn to non-conformism. An almost musique concrète ‘All Mouth’ layers vocal loops à la Julianna Barwick; ‘Early Sleep’ is backed by the mechanical clamour of a Caribou soaring into the ‘Sun’; ‘Mexico’ is an unsettling haunter aided by Mike Oldfield or John Carpenter-esque piano arrangements. You may not be dancing, but you’ll be listening. PAGE 37
The Unthanks. Songs from the Shipyards. Interview by Ben Eckersley and Ian Pennington.
Northumberland-based folk band The Unthanks have many strings to their bow. Last February they took on a Wall of Sound Artistic Directors residency at Band on the Wall, at which they tutored musicians for an intensive week before hosting a show as an expanded group at the venue. A year earlier they first performed a live soundtrack to internationally acclaimed filmmaker Richard Fenwick’s documentary Songs from the Shipyards. Commissioned by the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle, the film uses archive footage to document the rise and fall of the shipbuilding industry on the Tyne, Wear and Tees. Now Then chatted to The Unthanks’ piano player Adrian McNally about the Band on the Wall residency, their Shipyards film performance and the current UK folk music scene. What are your most vivid memories of your Wall of Sound residency at Band on the Wall last year? Fear, initially. Walking into a room of 12 talented artists and hoping you have something to offer them is quite a presumption and a bit nervewracking. We needn’t have worried, because the group were so ready to participate, learn, contribute. Rachel and Becky would have them in the morning for some unaccompanied singing, and it gave me a lot of pleasure to see a bunch of virtuosic musicians, who didn’t think they could sing and some singer songwriters used to hiding behind their guitars, gaining pleasure and confidence from unaccompanied folk song. Group singing is a great leveller. Then in the afternoons they’d work with me on songs and arrangements, and with Niopha on instrumental stuff. We have a broad skill set among us and hopefully the participants all got something from each of us. My favourite moments were watching pennies drop. Did it play out as you’d expected it to? When you put together some regular singer songwriters with a Polish accordionist, a Mexican electronica sound artist and a classical clarinet player, it’s hard to know what to expect. The most enjoyable part for me was working on the songwriters’ songs. The songs I was most worried about initially had the most enjoyable outcomes, because of the journey I went on with the writer and the song to get it to somewhere that worked in the context of our group. I hope that a few of them discovered something about themselves and their abilities. There’s a lot more to being successful than being good on your own. Whether it’s dealing with other musicians, or with managers and agents; how you get on with other people is key. Amazingly, there wasn’t a crossed word all week. The public performance of the work was absolutely fantastic. We also performed some Unthanks pieces rearranged for the entire group. It was a thrill for us to hear them re-imagined and the gang really did them justice. Have you kept in contact with any of the participating musicians? Yes, and more importantly, many of them have kept in touch with each other. Some have worked with each other; others have developed touring networks by putting on gigs for each other in their respective parts of the country. I used one of them on a recording recently, and we’ve stayed in touch with the amazing Raevennan Husbandes, trying to help and support her where we can. In your soundtrack to Songs from the Shipyards you’ve included songs from a variety of songwriters from the North East. What were your criteria when deciding what to include? There wasn’t quite the range of material to choose from that you might find about, say, the mining industry, partly I guess because the shipbuilding industry is relatively younger. But the North East has some tremendous and largely unsung writers, like Johnny Handle and Alex Glasgow, and we will take any excuse to shine more light on their work, plus it was also an obvious excuse to tackle Elvis Costello and Clive Lainger’s ‘Shipbuilding’. The centrepiece of the music is a self-penned piece written around some poetry by the Teesside writer Graeme Miles, who sadly died recently. We hope our June performances of Songs from PAGE 38
the Shipyards will be a fitting tribute to him. The album traverses a whole range of emotions. Do you think the film dwells more in the hopeful or negative aspects of the shipbuilding industry, and did you try to follow this in your soundtrack? We decided early on in the creative process that we wanted the film to have a story narrative, rather than just being a random collection of images set to atmospheric music. The film and soundtrack take you on a powerful journey from the optimism of the industry’s birth, through the prosperous days of almighty production, through to the decline, the political controversy and eventual loss of the shipyards. While our natural inclination might have been to dwell on the loss of an industry and way of life, we also needed to find songs that captured the days of optimism and glory, and to play in an upbeat style we’re not accustomed to. Obviously the industry was hugely important to families in the North East. Did you feel a pressure to do the subject justice, so to speak? Part of the reason the film is probably more about loss than anger is that these industries died away a while ago now, and we felt the time now was perhaps more for remembrance than for protest. But the difference between respectful remembrance and romanticised nostalgia is a difficult line; between describing them as great days and remembering that they were tough and dangerous days, between the pride for what the workers achieved and the reality of the wealth it created being siphoned away from their communities, and the emotional complexity for those communities of having created something great, only to be completely deserted when the going got tough. How is it best for history to remember that? How much do you see yourself as part of the UK folk tradition? Well, we do write the odd song, but in the main we concern ourselves with interpreting traditional song, so in that sense we are very much a part of it. Our sonic palate is wider than that most commonly associated with folk music, but what interests us about the folk tradition is the content, not the style. Folk music is an oral history, not a genre of music; a human exercise in sharing and empathy. What matters to us, in this project for instance, is that the people who worked in industry are remembered for what they achieved, and that the lessons of that time, good and bad, are understood from the position that we now stand in. How much do you feel the rise of ‘nu-folk’ has helped or hindered the UK’s existing folk music scene? Certainly there has been much use in the mainstream of the folk vernacular, but I think that’s just a natural backlash to globalisation, as culture looks for depth and identity in homogenised times. Just as folk music is suddenly cool, so is knitting and growing your own veg. I certainly think that the media spotlight on folk music has presented an opportunity for folk music to appeal to a wider audience, but I’m not really sure that has translated into anything real on our side of the tracks, so to speak. I think that’s partly because the indie way of doing folk is to make music that sounds under-produced, a bit shabby, more ‘real’, and so that’s what the mainstream thinks folk music is about. I think a lot of music by young artists on the folk scene sounds too squeaky clean for those bearded veggie growers looking for a clod of earth in their music. What’s next for The Unthanks? A rest, hopefully! We recently went through a period in which we released and toured four albums in 18 months. It’s been an amazing period of discovery and creativity. We are very lucky that there are listeners out there who are prepared to move with us, rather than hoping for a greatest hits set. But we’re going to take our time making our next record, and we’ll be endeavoring to stretch ourselves ever further. the-unthanks.com
The Light Inside PAGE 39
GIGS AND FESTIVALS
THEATRE. RICHARD PATTERSON TALKS ABOUT LIFE ON THE FRINGES. INTERVIEW BY ANDREW ANDERSON.
They work long and unsociable hours, for little or no money, in a position that some people might not consider real work at all. No, we’re not talking about illegal immigrants, but the actors in Manchester’s fringe scene. I recently met up with Richard Patterson (known elsewhere as Dicky or Benjamin, but finally now settled on Richard – “It’s my real name, so I should be able to remember it”), an actor, producer and director who has spent the last four years working in fringe theatre. He recently played a frazzled and manic George Best in The Best, but in real life Richard is soft-spoken with warm eyes and an easy-going manner. We’d only been talking for a few minutes when Richard summed up what actors need: “Connections, luck and talent.” He said that he moved to Manchester almost on a whim, having grown up in Belfast and then the Isle of Man, “The first day I moved here I spent an hour following a seagull. I think on some level I hoped it was going to lead me back to the sea. But I love it here. It has a small-town feel even though it’s a big city.” Having trained as an actor in Preston, he immediately became involved in fringe theatre. It’s a hectic lifestyle, juggling part-time work with acting jobs that are mostly unpaid. Even Richard isn’t entirely sure what he’s working on at the moment. “Four shows. No, five, if you include The Best. I currently have about eight part-time jobs. Most people working in the fringe do. You have to, to keep the cobwebs off. And pay the bills.” It wasn’t until recently that Richard established himself, with people now calling him for work rather than the other way around. “It’s all about connections, who you know and how you get on with them,” he explained, before stopping to look around the bar. “In fact, there are about five people in here right now who I have either worked with or am working with right now.” The bar in question is the Lass O’Gowrie, one of the main hubs for the Manchester fringe. I wondered if having
such closeness ever led to friction, but Richard said not. “It’s a closeknit community. But the great thing is, even though it’s competitive, everyone wants to help everyone else. A friend of mine recently got a role, and I felt so happy for him, much more so than when I get offered something.” It’s this sort of spirit that, for Richard, “Makes it all worthwhile. You sometimes ask yourself why you’re doing it, but things like that confirm it.” As well as the lifestyle obstacles that need to be overcome, there are production limitations with fringe work. “The average fringe show is four weeks from start to finish. Three weeks rehearsal, a week of production, and that’s tough, because in the West End you’d get a week of previews, so you can fine-tune it to the audience. But here you’ve got to get yourself completely ready for the first performance. The timeline is just crazy. I directed Harvey last year, and we didn’t manage to get everyone together until a day before the show.” While for some this might seem like a negative, it is exactly this quality that keeps him coming back. “It’s that chaos, that thrill, bringing it all together for the audience to enjoy.” Plus, because often the fringe venues are pubs, “People have had a few pints, it’s more intimate and they’re willing to buy into it,” he said, before laughing and adding, “But only if it’s quality. If it’s shit it will really stand out.” Now that he himself has got a strong foothold in the fringe scene, I wondered if he had any advice for aspiring actors, writers or directors who might want to get involved. “A lot of people don’t do it for fear, or because they’re worried they’ll be laughed at. But if it is what you want you can’t worry about that, because it’s who you are. So give it a try, and if you still love it when you’re doing it for free then you’ll know it’s for you.”
Photo by Simon Lee
One Long Journey. Emma Roy-W illiams.
One Long Journey is an upcoming documentary about Vik PengillyJohnson, a man who, at 70, bought a derelict boat for £100 from eBay with the intention of fixing it up to travel from Manchester to Windsor along the canals and waterways of Great Britain. The film is intended to evoke David Lynch’s The Straight Story, in which 73-year-old Alvin Straight decides to ride a lawnmower from Wisconsin to Mount Zion in Iowa – a 263 mile journey – to see his estranged brother Lyle. He has no driving license due to his poor eyesight, but decides he must mend relations between him and his brother before it’s too late. His friends and family warn him against such a risky venture but Straight steadfastly refuses to give up. Similarly, when Vik told his family he’d bought a boat he said they responded with “horror”, but he bought it anyway. Visual anthropologists Tom Turner and Ben Cheetham will be documenting his journey, co-producing is Kieran Hanson and their Anthropology tutor Andy Lawrence, who taught them at The University of Manchester, will be directing. It was Andy who first met Vik and came up with the idea of making a film about him. “I’ve made films all over the world but the story of Vik and his boat journey is one of the best documentary subjects I have ever come across,” said Andy, who lives on a canal boat himself, as does cameraman Ben. They’ve each experienced the lifestyle for four years. I met Vik on the shipyard in Lymm where he has been living on his boat for the past three months. Within minutes, he was enthusiastically showing me around his boat before I’d even asked him any questions. A former army radio operator, safari park warden and river cruise captain, he has led life to the full and now wants one more adventure. Having been married five times, it seems settling down doesn’t suit Vik. Listening to Tom’s and Ben’s thoughts, it becomes clear that much of the boating community is made up of divorcees and men on their own. Tom thinks that this may be down to the fact that if the boat breaks you can roll your sleeves up and fix it, whereas repairing a marriage might not be as easy. So the film will be “kind of about Vik, but also English boating life,” Ben explained. “It’s pretty English, isn’t it? To retire and live on a boat.” I asked Rik Warren from Walk, the band providing the score for the film, what sort of themes appealed to him when writing the music. He said, “The need for change and his desire to achieve something, at that stage in his life.” He also cites Lynch’s The Straight Story and how “you’re inspired by the fact that, all right, you could get run over by a bus tomorrow, but that forward thinking perspective is nice to have.” After Walk performed live on Marc Riley’s Radio 6 Music show there was an anonymous £2,000 donation to the Kickstarter campaign that helped to reach their target of £6,000 to fund the film. Whoever the donor was, the money has allowed them to film without the typical strict schedule or budget of a professional TV crew. It has been invaluable to Ben and Tom, who have been living alongside Vik on the boatyard for the past two months in a 50-year-old caravan without earning any money. I asked Vik what he thinks will be the biggest challenges on his journey: “Going through the locks is going to be the hardest thing – I’m not HePAGE 42
Man,” he said with a chuckle. But Tom and Ben are reluctant to help as they want Vik to complete the journey on his own, even if that means watching him fail. They are committed to remaining detached from events. The plan is to complete work on Vik’s boat and lower it onto the water by mid-May, then travel the 243 miles to Windsor, hopefully by mid-June. Ben and Tom will be with him all the way, camping at the side of his boat so they can capture every minute of his journey. There are certainly quicker and easier ways of getting from Manchester to Windsor but where’s the fun in that? As the old saying goes, it’s not so much the destination but how you get there that counts. onelongjourney.allritesreversed.co.uk
COASTAL SHELF. REVIEWER – ROBERT PEGG.
There’s something about being an island race that involves storytelling and water. This rain battered city was made greater than it already was because the monumental feat of engineering that is the Manchester Ship Canal took its place amongst the veins and arteries of Great Britain while William Etty’s magnificent, restored painting ‘Ulysses And The Sirens’, which warns of the dangers of temptation, has its rightful home in Manchester Art Gallery. Coastal Shelf, the debut film from Fresh Loaf Productions, tells the story of Simon who, having broken up with his girlfriend, spends a long, dark night of the soul before encountering what appears to be a latter day siren, Taryn, washed up on the beach. What then unfolds in this gentle and confident debut deserves to take its place amongst the pantheon of mythical tales of the sea. Taryn, the siren in question, serves as Simon’s muse and conscience, encouraging and guiding him in how he really should be dealing with his break up while the subplot of his ex-girlfriend’s new relationship plays out. Director Jade Greyul captures well the isolation and loneliness of open spaces while knowing when to close her camera in on the characters so ably and charmingly played by all the cast members. Writer Joe McKie brings an intelligent maturity and a subtle underlying symbolism to his script. Beginning on a canalside and ending by the sea itself with the connecting theme of tangible washed up objects representing intangible washed up relationships, Coastal Shelf reminds us that all souls, like all waterways, are somehow connected. Deliberately ambiguous in places, in lesser hands this could easily come across as muddled and confused, but here it works. The finale of this engagingly short story draws us, as all myths rightly should, towards the sea. Maybe that’s why we’re so attracted to tales from the water – they take us to where we belong. freshloafproductions.com
Photos by Jonathan Purcell PAGE 43
BIKE MONTH MCR.
MIF.CO.UK. 247THEATREFESTIVAL.CO.UK. GREATERMANCHESTERFRINGE.CO.UK. TWITTER.COM/NOWTPARTOF.
BIKEMONTHMCR.ORG. 1ST-30TH JUNE.
Summer in Manchester belongs to theatre both little and large.
So you’re a fair weather cyclist? It’s okay to admit it. We live in a notoriously rainy city, and rolling up at your destination all sweaty and soaked to the bone has a habit of going down badly. But for one month, one supposedly less rainy month, it’s okay to do that. Power in numbers; if everyone turns up in a soggy state then we’re all in the same boat (or overboard, as it might seem).
The run of events that slaps you in the face with its overwhelming roster is Manchester International Festival. The obvious nods should go to Grandmaster Kasparov’s stage-bound tussle with technology, entitled The Machine, Kenneth Branagh’s star turn in a secret location as MacBeth, a performance of Manchester’s most famous and ever-referenced political demonstration poem, The Masque of Anarchy, and plenty more besides from their basecamp on Albert Square. Even those events not labelled theatre are bound to be presented theatrically. The Massive Attack / Adam Curtis centrepiece and Mogwai’s live soundtrack to the Zidane film they previously scored will no doubt tell a story. While 24:7 Theatre Festival might not hold the same international presence and clout, it does present a key stepping stone option for local writers, directors, producers and actors. As a respected platform for performing arts in the area, its better plays are often picked up by larger stages, such as the Library Theatre Company’s Re:Play Festival, or commissioned for tours of the North West and beyond. Although predominantly based at 2022NQ, 3MT and New Century House, we’ve been tipped off that they’ll also be sneaking some plays into the Portico Library. This year the play that jumps out is Manchester’s Burning by Rebekah Harrison and Kurt Nikko, which will take place in a site specific location, Ancoats Fire Station, a first for the festival as it celebrates its 10th year. The festival runs from 19th-26th July. The Greater Manchester Fringe festival is dispersed wider with a lengthy list of venues of various sizes scattered across the city, across the whole of July. Finally, Nowt Part Of festival will take place at the Black Lion pub on Chapel Street from 8th-14th July. Six North West theatre companies will perform a variety of plays across the week.
The scheme, peddled by Love Your Bike and Manchester Friends of the Earth, has crammed more than 60 events into a monthlong programme. Expect discussions, group rides, workshops, training sessions for all ages and much more. One section of the month, Friday 7th to Saturday 15th, will coincide with North West Velo Fest, which is organised by The Spokes – a group initially set up to encourage more women to cycle and can claim the distinction of being the UK’s first all-women bicycle dance troupe. They’ve performed at many events in Manchester and beyond, and have evolved to broaden their focus to encourage anyone and everyone to get on a bike and have a pedal. Their run of events will include bike polo, pedal powered music, their Hands Free Olympics for the more comfortable cyclists, a film night, tweed ride and unicycle beginners session, all based in and around Manchester. The official Bike Month MCR grand finale of a pedal round a car-free Mancunian Way should be suitably liberating. But even if you’re not for joining in and find the full-body lycra cycling suits to be a little OTT, you can support the underlying ethos by cycling every day of June.
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Opus Independents is the not-for-profit social enterprise that publishes this very magazine, producing a fresh issue every two months, but you might not be aware that we also run a popular and affordable flyer and poster distribution service, which has been working exclusively with independent traders, community groups, charities and local government for five years now.
When Morley Cheek’s rose from the ashes of Argyle’s, their template for fine US themed nourishment picked up on Almost Famous’s Northern Quarter vibes, but with their own twist. Hot dogs are the order of the day here, or you can build your own burger from a range of toppings and garnishes.
Last year the service branched into Manchester, South Manchester, Stockport and Trafford, and we can cover a wide geographical area including Sheffield, South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire, and more, plus distribution runs based on specific demographics. Our regular clients include Sheffield Theatres, Sheffield City Hall and the Showroom cinema, but the service can be customised if you are working on a smaller budget, with runs starting at £25. Visit the above web link or email james@ opusindependents.com for more information.
WR AUDIO. WRAUDIO.CO.UK. If you’re a recording artist, a live performer or just want a sound catching in the finest manner then this one is for you. WR Audio (named after the founders – Dan Watkins and Biff Roxby) is a service offering high quality, location recording, PA hire, audio post-production, sound design and restoration. For everything from solo artist projects and orchestral recording to live concert sound engineering WR create tailored packages to suit the needs of most musical projects. Their setup is portable and available to install in most spaces whilst still maintaining the highest standard of equipment, which always comes complete with an expert team ready to capture your music.
SHEFFIELD DOC/FEST. SHEFFDOCFEST.COM. 12TH -16TH JUNE. This June, Doc/Fest celebrates its 20 th year of bringing together documentary filmmakers from all over the world. Across five days there’ll be pitching opportunities, discussion panels, in-depth filmmaking masterclasses, and plenty of film screenings and events. For the rest of the year, Doc/Fest presents screenings, labs, workshops and mentoring schemes both in the UK and internationally. Our Sheffield sister publication has brewed quite a treat as part of the festival, inviting not one but two of our recent music section interviewees to bob over the Pennines for their Spirit of ‘45 Day, featuring the Ken Loach film, Jason Singh performing his live soundtrack to John Grierson’s 1929 silent film, Drifters, and an Age of Glass live show, with much more besides. All on Saturday 15th June at Queen’s Social Club.
They’ve also embraced Now Then with open arms and shiny new pint glasses. Their entranceway is decorated by framed artwork by Dan Birkbeck and Phlegm; their favourite selections from issues 3 and 4. Our sister publication’s 5th anniversary issue ale, Now Then 5, was recently on tap – a pale brew by Sheffield brewery Abbeydale that you can also find at the Nook and Cranny round the corner, and at Cask on Liverpool Road in Castlefield.
JELLYFISH ROOMS. 583 BARLOW MOOR ROAD, M21. THEJELLYFISHROOMS.CO.UK. This is more than just a place to pack your kids off to when you’re feeling worn out. It’s a place for the whole family to learn, grow, experience and interact with the world around them. Jellyfish Rooms offers a physical space for anyone to come and teach or be taught. The last project here saw young folk instructed in the skills of building bee homes from recycled materials, making seed bombs for butterflies and getting crafty with moss graffiti. They are not just looking for people to attend but also for skilled and diverse types to construct and facilitate classes and workshops on anything they feel would have a positive effect on the community. As one of the founders puts it, “We’re not just a community centre, we’re re-inventing the stuffy ballet for girls, footy for boys ethic.”
XPRESS CAMPAIGN. THECALMZONE.NET. XPRESSOFFICIAL.COM. Last year’s Thirty One Songs compilation CD, created to support the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), gained profit in excess of £30,000 towards sustaining CALM’s national freephone helpline (0800 58 58 58) for seven days per week, rather than the four they could previously afford. The CALM charity seeks to raise awareness of depression and to lower the high suicide rates among young men aged 15-35. Suicide is currently the single biggest killer of young men in the UK. This year’s follow-up CD, compiled by Quenched Music, is now available to buy. It will go under the Xpress moniker, a name chosen to illustrate the positive, cathartic, fulfilling and empowering feelings that arise when expressing yourself through creative and artistic pursuits.
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