(sub)human evolution

SubhumansInternal Riot
Bluurg Records

Internal Riot cover (both versions)

More than twenty years on from their last studio release, the boys from Wessex have at last managed to drag their arses from the primordial punk slime to give us what we’ve all been waiting for. This record is, without doubt, their finest release to date. It’s like they’ve dissected everything that’s gone before, removed anything surplus to requirements and spliced the remaining material together again, capturing the very essence of the band in audio DNA.

As ever, Dick’s words form the solid backbone of the beast unleashed. Straining with tension and urgency, they concentrate the mind very much on the matter at hand. But not with any sort of preachy dogma. He’s much cleverererer than that, is Mr. Lucas. Instead they weave together some specifics of the moment (for example, the war in Iraq in ‘This Year’s War’) with a broader analysis of the deeper issues and concepts underpinning them (‘this year’s war against terror, like the war on crime, is war against anyone, anytime’). And everything is underpinned with an almost personalised invitation (the kind you can’t refuse) that drags you, the listener, right into the middle of the whole experience. It’s a record that insists on and gets your active attention from start to end.

Sleeve detail

Musically, it’s as flawless as the band have ever been. There’s variation aplenty but it’s as distinctive as hell. The bass and guitar trade witty and clever banter as they build their intricate wall of sound, while Trotsky’s complex beats provide the framework. Meanwhile, Dick’s voice cuts through at just the right volume to glue the whole lot together nicely. The power contained within this simple piece of plastic would give a thermo-nuclear device a run for its money (not that I’m suggesting you test this out in your living room).

I could rant on and on and on about this, but instead I’ll just say ‘Buy it. Buy it now, right this moment, before any other thought even has a chance to cross your mind’.

And in case you’re wondering about the different cover images at the top, the one on the left shows the original artist’s draft and the one on the right is the final version. To be honest, I think the draft is the better of the two except for the ‘Subhumans’ logo being too big (it’s just about perfect on the final one). I suppose I could always colour mine in to match the original, but I’m not that sad or wreckless with my records (not these days, anyway).

Download sample track – ‘Process’

OP’s opinion: @@@@@

Posted in Reviews - Noise | 2 Comments

smokey cider casserole

A recipe perfect for the winter months (with a small glass of cider into the bargain).

Serves 3-4 depending on how hungry you are.

  • 1 block (approx 200g) smoked tofu, cubed and marinated in shoyu or tamari for a few hours
  • 250ml dry cider (I’d recommend Westons Strong Organic Cider)
  • 1 tin (approx 400g) tomatoes, liquidised
  • 1 tin (approx 400g) baked beans
  • 2 medium onions (red if available), halved and thickly sliced lengthways
  • 2 medium carrots, thickly sliced
  • 4 sticks celery, thickly sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 200g mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 125g sweetcorn
  • 1 red pepper cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • Bay leaf
  • 1-2 fresh sage leaves, shredded
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp or to taste chili powder / flakes (optional)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I use Kallo organic stock cubes)
  • 1 tbs tomato puree
  • 1-2 tsp wholegrain mustard (optional)
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour mixed into a thin paste

Preheat an oven to 180C (gas mark 4, 350F).

Steam the potatoes and carrots for 10 mins until just starting to soften on the outside. While they’re cooking, fry the tofu in a little oil until browned all over. If you don’t have tofu, use 4-6 vegan sausages or some Sosmix balls instead (cut sausages into quarters when cooked).

Put all of the vegetables, including the potatoes and carrots, and tofu into a large casserole dish and mix together. Add the tomato puree, stock cube (crumbled), mustard, chili and herbs, pour over the beans, tomatoes, cider, cornflour and enough water to bring the liquid to just below the top of the veg mix, and mix again. Add a good grind of black pepper and put a lid on the casserole dish.

Place into the oven and cook for approx 1 1/2 hours, gently mixing every 30 mins, until everything is soft and the liquid has thickened (you can add a bit more liquid during cooking if it’s getting too thick). I sometimes turn the heat down to around 150C (gas mark 2, 300F) after 45 mins then give it an hour and a half or so at this temp to really slow the cooking down and intensify the flavours. Drink the rest of the bottle of cider while you’re waiting.

Serve with steamed Savoy cabbage, a chunk of bread if you’ve got a healthy appetite, and another bottle of cider.

Tastes even better the next day, so try and save a portion. Difficult, I know, but your tongue and belly will thank you.

Posted in Gert Lush Recipes | Leave a comment

try before you buy

Reviews of music here at OPND will now include a free downloadable track from the release, so that you can get a feel for the flavour of the whole thing. I’ll do my best to select a track that sums up the overall vibe (if that’s possible), notwithstanding my own subjectivity. If you like the noise, just follow the link and buy the record 🙂

I’ve added tracks to all of the reviews I’ve done to date, so just click on ‘Reviews – Noise’ in the column on the left if you want to hear what I’m raving on about.

Posted in General Banter, Reviews - Noise | Leave a comment

foxy has left the building

I read this today:

PAUL FOX OF THE RUTS DIES AGED 56

Legendary guitarist, Paul Fox, died at home in Uxbridge at 3AM this morning.

Over the years Paul has performed and recorded with many of the worlds greatest musicians but he will mainly be remembered for his revolutionary punk/dub reggae fusion guitar playing with influential punk band The Ruts.

Paul had been in semi retirement for several years but went back out on the road again in 2006 playing the Ruts music with Foxys Ruts which featured his son Lawrence Fox on drums. The band were well received, both in the UK and Europe.

Following his diagnosis with cancer at the end of May 2007 a benefit gig was organised featuring many of the musicians that Paul had worked with or alongside over the years. There was no doubt about the high esteem in which Paul was held by his fellow musicians as the line up read like a who’s who of the UK punk scene with performances by The Damned, Misty in Roots, the UK Subs, Tom Robinson, John Otway, Splodge, TV Smith and many more.

For the first time in 27 years the surviving members of the Ruts took to the stage together with Henry Rollins standing in for the late Malcolm Owen who died of a drugs overdose in 1980.

The night was a fitting tribute to one of our much under rated and unsung guitar heros.

Paul leaves behind his sons Lawrence and William and his wife, Sharon.

He will be dearly missed.

Sarah Pink, on behalf of the Ruts.

The Ruts are part of my life’s soundtrack, and Foxy’s guitar work was central to making the band the visionaries they were. His ability to mash up the chaotic power of punk with the laid-back dub chops was a blast of fresh air to mine and many other young (and not so young) ears, taking me in new directions and giving me a much-appreciated musical lesson. He’s been frequently imitated but never bettered, which seems like a fitting memorial to the bloke.

‘Staring At The Rude Boys’ is my favourite track, and pretty much sums up some of the best and worst nights of my life. Listen with a smile and raise a glass to the man.

Download

Posted in General Banter, Noise | Leave a comment

remembering absent friends

This Sunday, 21st October, some of the finest bands in the UK underground are gathering to pay tribute to Stig, one of our own who sadly died three years ago. It’s at TJ’s, Clarence Place, Newport in Wales, kick-off from 4 p.m. It’s only a fiver in and all money goes to Stig’s wife and kids.

Stig and Icons Of Filth raised tens of thousands of pounds for those who want a better world, and helped open the eyes of millions more. He was also more than willing to get involved at the sharp end. His kind don’t come along very often and we feel the loss even more keenly when they leave too soon. But the light he sparked burns brighter every day.

Cheers mate.

Stig memorial gig flyer

Posted in General Banter, Noise | Leave a comment

green your eats!

Thursday 1st November is World Vegan Day, a chance for vegans globally to show just how positive veganism is. And not just for the animals we don’t kill, but also for our own wellbeing and for the health of the planet. In fact, this year the focus will be on the ecological catastrophe that is animal farming. ‘Eating The Earth? How Your Diet Could Change The World’ (PDF) pulls together the evidence and makes a forceful case for veganism for those who claim to be concerned with environmental issues.

I’ll be inviting a few friends round for some good vegan nosh, sociable amounts of alcohol and a bit of high- and low-brow debate to mark the day. I don’t expect my bonecrunching friends to give up eating dead stuff, but if they eat a bit less of it it’s no bad thing.

There are plenty of excellent vegan recipes online – I’d particularly recommend Post Punk Kitchen for some really top-class fancy examples of vegan cuisine. The rich chocolate cake is the best cake I’ve ever eaten, vegan or otherwise, a view shared by most of those who’ve also tried it. But to help you get started, here’s one of my own creations.

Tofu & Veg Thai Curry

It’s sometimes hard to find food that is both light and substantial, but Thai food is generally just that. Lots of fresh flavours, sharp spicing and a certain creamy fattiness all make for a lovely mouthful. It’s also bloody quick.

This recipe uses Thai curry paste, which isn’t cheating as the fresh ingredients can be a bit of a bugger to find sometimes (and even harder to prepare – lemon grass should definitely be renamed lemon wood to honestly reflect how tough it is). One thing to watch out for – many Thai pastes contain fish in one form or another, so check the label carefully – I use the ‘Maesri’ brand.

Serves 2-3.

  • 1-2 tbs sunflower oil
  • 150g of smoked or marinated tofu cut into cubes (Taifun smoked tofu with almonds and sesame seeds is very good in this recipe)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 stick celery, sliced diagonally
  • 2-3 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 medium florets broccoli, halved
  • 75g sweetcorn
  • 75g green beans, sliced, or fine green beans topped, tailed and cut in half
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • Half a red pepper, halved lengthways again and sliced
  • 2 tbs vegan red or green Thai curry paste (or according to your brand’s instructions)
  • 3/4 -1 tin (approx 3-400g) coconut milk
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tbs shoyu, tamari or vegetarian ‘fish / oyster’ sauce
  • Fresh basil (Thai if available), shredded

Heat the oil in a wok or big frying pan over a medium high heat for a minute, then throw in the tofu and stir fry until starting to brown. Add the carrots, celery, shallots, garlic, broccoli, sweetcorn and beans, and continue to stir fry for about 4 mins. Add the mushrooms and pepper and stir fry for 2 mins, add the curry paste and fry for a further min. Pour in the coconut milk so there’s enough liquid for your own preferences, lime juice and shoyu / tamari / ‘fish’ sauce and heat until it starts to bubble, then remove from heat. If you like your veg a bit softer, then let it simmer for a few more mins in the coconut milk. Stir in the shredded basil to taste and dollop over rice (white works best with this recipe, both basmati and jasmine rice are excellent and will cook in the time it takes you to make the curry).

Best eaten with a spoon to get all the juices (call me simple, but I always prefer an easy shovel motion to the complex two-handed approach when eating saucy foods).

Posted in Gert Lush Recipes, Green Piece, Vegan Tings | Leave a comment

occupy!

This is a bit late notice but I think it’s a worthwhile story…

Workers at the Bike Systems GmbH bike factory in Thuringian Nordhausen, Germany, have followed the lead of their Argentinian comrades and occupied their factory (unfortunately, there are no reports of them having shot the bosses first). The occupation was in response to a long-term running down of the factory by the owner followed by a swift filing for bankruptcy, with allegations of underhand dealings to cash in on the whole affair. Knowing that there was a demand for the bikes they made and aware of the boss class’ connivance, the workers responded in time-honoured fashion.

Strike Bikes for both sexes

In order to take things to the next level, the workers are planning to produce the Strike-Bike, a gloriously red n’ black-coloured machine for getting around town. They need to get around 1800 paid orders for the bike by the 2nd October (tomorrow!) to make the operation financially viable. Costs for individual customers in Germany are €275 inclusive of all charges. Wholesale prices are also available. If you’re outside of Germany and want one, they’ll happily negotiate international shipping with you.

If they don’t hit their target, all orders will be refunded in full. So if you need a bike in the next 24 hours or so, you know where to go!

UPDATE: 2nd October – a press conference at the factory today revealed that over 1300 orders have been placed with the rest expected imminently, and production will recommence at the end of October. All hail the workers soviets!

Posted in A Call To Arms, Activism, Anarchy For Sale | 1 Comment