Talking with Trojanmonkeythumperhorse…

Kraak is a small, difficult to find and excellent venue tucked away in the edges of Manchester city centre’s Northern Quarter. Fortunately, Kraak is happy to host concerts that readers of this blog will be interested in. Last night was one of those that had been eagerly anticipated for a long time, with Trojan Horse AND Thumpermonkey on the same bill, ably assisted by furious math-rock duo Cleft and the intricate Vasco Da Gama.


Trojan Horse were in spectacular form. The rare appearence of Sun and Summer in Manchester did not suit with our lumberjack shirted hero Nick, as the heat on stage was intense, but it seemed to fire (pardon the pun) them up even more than usual. Material from the “new album” yet to be realised was especially noteworthy. Thumpermonkey as usual defied anything else you could ever hear. Both bands went down a storm with an audience of mixed ages – great to see some of the younger people really getting into this sort of music.

After their sets, Thumpermonkey’s bass player Sam Warren, TH’s Nick Duke and I stepped out into the evening sun on Bradley’s Court to have a natter about musical this and that for the Ork Alarm! blog. You can hear that conversation after Nick’s lecture on why I should be putting gigs on in Rochdale! Many thanks to Sam and Nick for their time and contributions to this. A fantastic night all round.

The interview can be downloaded from HERE

Trojan Horse
Vasco Da Gama

Half asleep half awake

Well look what’s turned up! Some unheard of film footage of Henry Cow at The Manor during recording sessions for ‘Unrest’. This film also features Kevin Coyne, and (as mentioned in a Hatfield & The North song) the Manor Mobile, though how it ever got anywhere to do its recordings is a miracle!

Henry Cow at The Manor

The title of this post is the name of the main piece Henry Cow play in this clip.

henry cow manor

Magma – 40th Anniversary Concerts

Le Casino de Paris 12 – 14th February 2009

Here is a review wot I wrote that was destined for the aborted Ork Alarm! # 30. I thought that now we are up and running as a blog it might be nice to reminisce a little:

I’ve been pretty fortunate over my 51 years on this planet. I’ve generally fallen “butter side up”, been in the right place at the right time career wise and from a musical perspective, even though I wasn’t blessed with any creative genes, I have had the pleasure to have witnessed “The Greatest Band on Earth”, Magma and Christian Vander, perform on a scattering of occasions over a period spanning four decades.

I was lucky enough to see Magma a couple of times in London “first time around” during the 70′s. Had accrued enough spare cash to finance some concerts in London of Offering (billed as Magma!) in 1988/89.Witnessed the 30 year celebrations at Le Trianon, Paris in 2000, the Retrospective 4 weeks at Le Triton in 2005 and now this! The 40 year Anniversary Concerts at Le Casino de Paris. Luckily my day job didn’t clash in anyway with this historic occasion, so with tickets in hand, well … waiting for pick up (hopefully) at the box office, we were off to Paris.

I say “we” as I was about to break the unwritten rule. Actually it is a written rule, from a 70′s review of a Magma concert. “Never bring your girlfriend to a Magma concert” was the advice. It’s like an 11th commandment. The one they missed out. We’ve been to loads of concerts, not my choices, but thanks to her, I’ve been exposed to an abundance of great bands that I would never have given the time of day to otherwise. However, whilst her musical bent is far removed from MOR, Magma are no small step for man or woman kind. They are the musical equivalent of Marmite. You either love them or hate them, or possibly don’t persevere long enough to acquire the taste. So here we go, February 14th (Valentine’s Day) in Paris, what more could a girl ask for? Well instead of a top quality meal, a bottle of bubbly, a walk up the Champs Elysees and a whiz up the old Tower, it’s turn left at the Red Light District, down La Rue De Clichy and a romantic evening watching Christian Vander beat seven bells of shit out of his drum kit! Fortunately, things went better than I could have possibly imagined and whilst Jeannie didn’t at any time rush off to the Magma concession shop to but a K.A. t-shirt, as the three days unfolded she “got it”. Most people don’t.
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Picchio dal Pozzo

I just keep coming back to this band, and particularly their album Abbiamo Tutti I Suoi Problemi. It’s got a journalistic feel; it seems to capture a moment or rather moments from real people’s lives. It has that in common with the utterly different Bookends album by Paul Simon. I am sure I am the first person to compare those two sources in print! It also has wonderful music which explores ideas that might come from Canterbury or Zappa, but which are uniquely PDP. If you haven’t heard this album, I strongly recommend you give it at least three serious listens,

The horse that talks – Trojan Horse interview

TH coverAnd we don’t mean Mister Ed! The environs of Manchester are producing some fascinating new music. Cyril Snear, A Greater Horror and more are active, but a definite fave at Interesting Alternative Towers is Trojan Horse. An eponymous album and the ‘Fire’ EP have excited and elicited interest in the alt-prog world and a chance to see them in Manchester (March 8th 2013 at The Ruby Lounge) recently was not to be missed. They played the first set ahead of the fascinating Moulettes, and the legend who is Arthur Brown, who at 70 years old has still got the voice and wow factor that stunned people back in the late 60’s. He’s still the best dancer in rock music as well!! Anyway, Trojan Horse took to the stage with a new piece, and followed up with more familiar titles such as ‘Fire’ , ‘Disciplining The Reserve Army’ and ‘Mr Engels Says’. They were, as expected excellent – a fine half hour set packed with energy, complex passages, a slight funk interlude (which they explain in the interview) and a few Yo Ho Ho’s, all of which were played with a surgeons precision and great enthusiasm.

Eden, Guy, Nick and Loz were kind enough to invite me for a conversation for this blog which we reproduce below. The quality isn’t pristine, and the dressing room door opens to the strains of Moulettes on more than one occasion, but this is the chat we had about their music and beyond. Exciting news about a new album is contained within!

You can hear the interview from this DROPBOX link. You can either play it on-site, or right click the player and download the file.

If you don’t know their music, a visit to the Trojan Horse Bandcamp page is a must!


Other useful links:

TH @ MOSI video from the ManchesterMuseum of science and Industry.

TH Blog page

TH blog interview

Follow them on : FacebookTwitterBandcampTumblrMyspace.

The Interesting Alternative

Another blog begins it’s journey into oblivion!

magmaontour1I’ve decide to tie up a few different strands into one nice self contained unit. The Ork Alarm! website was launched into the aether a number of moons ago with the intention of cataloging all the known Christian Vander concerts since the inception of Magma at the start of the 1970′s. The task, started by Paul Mummery, continued to grow in enthusiasm and the challenge of updating and correcting was taken up by a number of aficionados and improved upon by the good people of Zeuhl Music. The “Christian Vander on Tour” pages within this blog are kept in sync with the Zeuhl Music site. The only difference is that this is the English version whereas Zeuhl Music hosts the French version.

The other static page area of this blog is the digital rehash of the Ork Alarm! fanzine, edited by Paul Mummery during the early 90′s. I attempted to maintain his good work by producing the odd “Ork Alarm! Continued” online issue, but I ran out of steam a number of years ago. However my enthusiasm for the music had not waned and my energies manifested themselves in my weekly radio show on Phoenixfm called The Interesting Alternative Show, which has been on air and streamed online since 1997 (I think!).

Kavus Torabi joined as co-host a while back now and the show has never been more popular. We have a variety of guests coming on the show and many of the shows are up for re-cue at mixcloud


The music policy is pretty varied. Obviously the usual suspects crop up, i.e Zeuhl, RIO, Canterbury, Zappa etc but also there is a healthy sprinkling of music that really doesn’t fall neatly into any genre. Think Progressive rather than Prog. Bands like The Skeletons, Stars In Battledress, Trojan Horse, Kavus’ own band Knifeworld, Thumpermonkey, The Gasman, certainly don’t fall easily into any pigeonhole. The guests that come on the show not only talk about their careers, but also have the task of choosing the content of show. The tag line “music you may never have known existed” applies, not just to the listener, but also to the presenters as well! Highlights (off the top of my head) include Fire alarm bells being played by the This Heat founder Charles Hayward, Chris Cutler choosing a track of Loretta Lynn. A Jazz bagpipes track and the Pièce de résistance, Daniel O’Sullivan choosing to play a field recording of Vultures feeding on a carcass.

The show goes out at 10pm til 12 Midnight here in the UK so many people are tucked up in bed well before the witching hour approaches. As an appreciation of that fact, we used to make the shows into downloadable mp3′s.

Many are still available by scrolling down the Interesting Alternative show page on Phoenixfm but there are also some archive shows going back to 1859 or was it 2007 here 

So the plan for the blog is to compliment the Interesting Alternative Show. To give anyone who is interested a one-stop portal of info, releases, concerts, reviews and a heads up on music they may never have known existed (but may well appreciate now they’ve been told about it). First off, two marvellous items that have recently been posted on the avant-progressive facebook page.

Firstly the amazing Israeli band Anakdota – The Girl Next Door

An secondly the superb Chamber Rock outfit (although that doesn’t really do them justice!) which is out now via Altrock Five Storey Ensemble.