Bikini Black Special – The Grim Mathematics Of Intercourse

Sounding like MGMT fronted by a Bond Girl, electronica group Bikini Black Special are menacing and intense, broken glass sharp throughout their debut album “The Grim Mathematics of Intercourse”.

In place of abandonment and summer beach anthems, tight rock beats and layered samples roll and crash, the album veritably stuffed with the equivalent of speeding freight-trains of styles and additions following each other. Throbbing bass, trip-hop beats, vocals crunched and wrapped in white noise: this is a paradox of an album, hyperactive but paranoid, serious while celebratory.

While the crafting of each track is clear and potentially restrictive, “Grim Mathematics” will not fail to hook in any listener – be it the evangelical fervour of “Black Hat” or the techno revivalism in “Repo Men”. The phrase “Bikini Black Special” refers to one of the highest levels of alert state used by the Ministry of Defense, with no defined target; the tracks here should put the exciting band on the highest state of alert, undoubted better things should follow.

The album “The Grim Mathematics of Intercourse” can be found http://bikiniblackspecial.bandcamp.com/album/the-grim-mathematics-of-intercourse

The band can be found at http://www.bikiniblackspecial.com/

“The Grim Mathematics of Intercourse” is launched at The Mad Ferret in Preston on 20 June

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angels dancing on the head of a pin

Growing up certainly has its struggles. The younger me wandered around town thinking, no, dreaming, of being a writer, going so far as to invent holidays and travel stories on the hour or so spent walking from home to an arbitrary place on the outskirts of town. Today I wonder the ease of which someone could dream of becoming younger.

Finding somewhere to rent – the concept of buying a house is total Alice In Wonderland territory – with such a tight timeframe exhausts and bemuses me somewhat. Those twin deamons, Mr Fate and Mrs Fortune, have assisted the Darlingian Bounce by brushing up house prices. Estate Agents assume my solo status offers deep pockets. Looking for rooms to rent is a peculiar game, a form of real-estate reality television game show, with total strangers many in number walking into the studio half-way through the Bonus Round waving a cheque like Hazel Blears gazumping before you know what’s happened.

I walk from each To Let sign looking similar to a minor character in a low-budget French film. There should be close-ups of my hand running across fences and out-of-focus shots of my shoes. There are clocks ticking, and spoons clattering, and fuzzy white noise from radios, and it’s all in my head, but out there is a reality I cannot find the deposit for. Never mind house-hunting, never mind finding counting angels dancing on the head of a pin, I couldn’t find a barn-door with a banjo at this rate.

Because packing CDs away is too easy a discussion topic…

My wardrobe, somewhat paradoxically for someone far removed from the shallow world of fashion, bursts out at all possible directions and from all containers. There’s a look of the teenage “floordrobe”, the abandoned charity shop, the transit or movement of bodies. One washing pile waits to be stored, another to be washed.

Any fair or independent audit would conclude my dress-sense is the result of starting each year with the intention of choosing a new look to follow exclusively. Checked shirts seem quite safe a choice, although the faded blue-grey graph-paper style one only seems to suit the kind of look which goes with trousers pulled up to the bellybutton while sitting in a nursing home. Plentiful Primark hoodies, zips bust on all, clutter one side; a real but in-need-of-wash Adidas jacket is the current ‘old faithful’. Before this there was a plain red woollen type affair I once wore to college as part of an entirely red ensemble which made me look like the most self-conscious eccentric in history.

There are numerous t-shirts, some creased to such an extent they could be considered awfully chic. The “Jesus 13” longsleeve affair from the kind of ultra-swish store in Manchester, back when I could afford to buy such things, served by a swept-fringe doll with the expression of a bored porn star. Smart jeans seem to be in a perpetual state of argument with tatty, well-worn comfy choices. Like men of a certain age, I am no longer drawn to the conclusion that jeans can be a cover-up for all of the sins of gluttony and sloth; if I am indeed my father’s son, I will embrace the strained button and fading colour of the old favourites.

Packing everything away in boxes, as must be done at some point in the coming months, should see me deciding that I do not need corded flares, or a plain green polo-neck jumper which looks like a surgeon’s smock, or anything like that. But like most men of a certain age, I will promise myself the time to look at them at some point further in time. I don’t need over-sized skater pants, or grey hoodies with bust zips, or tight yellow t-shirts, or over-sized pink-striped shirts still looking for cuff-links, but why not take them to another house to decide then?

Exactly.

Enough, enough!

One benefit of owning a blog is the free services available to monitor who reads the entries, when, and how long they hang around. Clearly my readership is not massive – around 1,000 a month – so it becomes obvious when readership plummets. Constant repetition of some topics recently, in the heat of an election campaign, have resulted in a sudden downturn in readership and visitors.

My views on the British National Party are quite clear, and have been made more than enough on this blog. I will take the hint from the readership stats, that repetition breeds contempt, and move on from this topic for the time being. I have more than enough issues to write, so while my views have not altered, I understand readers would like variation in topics.

This is London calling…

Gordon Brown is mad. There is nothing ground breaking in that statement, almost every commentator has dropped enough hints. Like some Soviet-era leader from the times before his appearances become increasingly rare and more suggestive of a person not in full control of his capabilities. “Psychologically flawed” we know is an old comment on the Prime Minister, “insecure”, “self-conscious”, “angry” comes from leaked emails today alone.

Is it as unfair to bring up personal flaws in this matter as it was to focus on, say, Susan Boyle? Media pressure, the constant need to keep up stories and maintain the mood in the headlines, abhors unity. But the important point is Brown’s place as our Prime Minister; we cannot be lead by a troubled man surrounding himself with the evidence of his ‘reverse Midas’ touch.

Today is the democratic version of the Eurovision Song Contest. Across Europe, except the Dutch who like to do things differently, the votes in the European Parliament elections will be counted from tonight. The Dutch results show a high vote for the controversial Party For Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid), their leader banned from the UK, their policies extreme on matters of immigration.

I cannot feel comfortable about the British results. The far-right BNP are very likely to win a seat, such short-term reactions which fill me with dread and not too little fear. There is nothing good, no edifying characteristic, to come from the British National Party, whose members cannot defend with any seriousness or validity their horrific and prejudiced views. Of course mainstream political parties have failed in their responsibilities, of course attitudes towards mainstream political parties is the most negative that I have known. Building up our reputation is the highest of all priorities – that means getting on the streets, dealing with people on their level, not prescription politics but community action. All that needs to be done to combat the apathy and understandable distrust of politicians.

Tonight, all over Europe, the votes will decide the future of countries in a way barely explained one inch over the last few years never mind the “election period”. It upsets me that the BNP will be given some form of legitimacy on a European level. Whatever hard work needs to be done to combat them needs to be started, and started now.

on polling day

Commercial radio plays in the background – Spice Girls, Savage Garden, Simply Red, something I don’t recognise which could be a jingle. The tricky Su Doku is not being completed very quickly; I’m free enough to fill in every number from one to nine in every box twice over, though, turnout is not exactly booming. The Daily Mail is frothing at the mouth. It’s not my natural choice but for now it’s the only thing to hand: I read it from top to bottom, copyright included.

This Polling Station is a church hall, smelling faintly of over enthusiastic spraying of air freshener. Jesus on the cross looks down over the ballot boxes. Those who are coming to vote do so with gaps of twenty or so minutes between each other – a man in a Slayer t-shirt, an old couple with polite if dismissive smiles for me and my orange rosette, a young lad with confusion in his eyes. I wait for some kind of guide to the mood of them, but there’s nothing more than a “Jesus on a bike” reaction to the two-foot European Parliament ballot paper. Time clicks by very slowly. I struggle with the Su Doku until the whole exercise becomes so intense I can hear the numbers laughing at me.

“Telling” probably sounds totally useless for most of the population. Honestly it probably is. Even in times before technology the numbers were only as useful for the short timeframe between getting them from polling station to agent. Today the computer programme used to log the numbers is clumsy, slow, with no connection to on-line analysis or communication to other party members in different parts of the city. Trying to explain why we need numbers is becoming increasingly hard, some people assume it is just one of those cute harmless traditions. Gruff young men – maybe voting for the first time – are less likely to fall for the oft-repeated line, “It’s just to stop us knocking you up later”. A young mother at another polling station smiles, “You can trouble me all you like but I’m not giving you my number.”

At a school sports hall, turnout is far more brisk. It’s the afternoon rush. “I’ve just voted for you,” starts a friendly enough bloke in a builder’s merchant t-shirt, “but not in the Euros.” He leaves the subtle hint in the air long enough for me to get the hint. With nobody saying it out loud it’s hard to guess how many people have made a choice they could live to regret on the wallpaper-sample sized ballot. Reports come from one part of town where people are queuing out of one polling station; from another such tumbleweed quietness there’s an unsettling sense of isolation from the outside world.

“We read James and The Giant Beanstalk. How would the giant feel?” With nothing else to read, I take a look at the features on the wall. I fince he wud be angrily becuz jack stoled all his hings reads one of the hand-written captions. I wonder how Gordon Brown feels now…

I open a packet of crisps. Two voters walk in. I try again. Three voters walk in. And again. God does not want me to eat these ready-salted crisps. A woman chats to me about litter and dog-mess on pavements, proving that these things really do come high on peoples lists at election time. As she talks to me, an older man is getting vocal with the electoral staff in the next room. He has never received a polling card and wants somebody to do something about it there and then. Calls are made to Town Hall, mumbled conspiracy theories are bounded around. Nobody suggests, as UKIP end up doing, that folded ballot papers are experiment in mass disenfranchising.

Another hour in another church. “How’s turnout been, like?” “Fairly ropey”. The man is middle-aged, sporting a robust moustache. “I mean to say, like, if you want to get rid of…I’ve heard them, ‘oh I don’t want to vote for them, they all need to go’, I mean, what I’m saying is, if you want to get rid of them, you vote them out, don’t you?” His wife, three strides away, folding her arms, nods her head. “Vote them out, absolutely”. A young woman with art teacher hair and a sensible beige dress gives me an awkward smile. She leaves the polling station chatting into her mobile phone, “Green or Christian Party? Green? I didn’t know there was a Christian Party.”

Unusually for an election day, there is no other party member on telling duty. An old councillor used to chat for hours about every election story he’d ever experienced. Sometimes sweets are handed out, sandwiches if you’re lucky. Old hands spot known voters, wink or shake hands or hug. Today there are no other tellers on duty. As signs and auspices go, it has a fair amount of value. Somewhere there’s party workers desperate to get out their vote, and limited resources are clearly being stretched.

British election days are quite unique. There remains an old-fashioned, quite sweet historic nature to them. The stubby pencils, the school halls, the elderly married couples walking hand-in-hand to do their duty. The mood of the nation is highly tense, predictions for results are pretty pointless fingers-in-the-wind. It’s the greatest game show in the world. For all the tedious hours spent sitting on plastic chairs in empty halls, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

BNP – streetsmart, media savvy, and pathetic

Saying the BNP is a racist group is as obvious as observing the sun is hot. More needs to be done to point out their economic policies, as thin as rice paper. Their education policies are divisive and destructive. How proud will Britain stand as an isolated nation stripped of doctors, teachers, chefs, carers, all stripped of their lives through the deluded prejudice of shallow fools in shoddy suits? Economic, political, and cultural suicide will flow from this Monday, a date when it seems sadly inevitable that the far-right extremists will be sent to represent the United Kingdom in the European Parliament.

Playing the race card is easy, it’s how the BNP loves its rivals to perform. They have been known to talk about council tax, litter collection and speed humps just to underline how everybody else is blabbing about skin colour. The problem is falling into this trap, a clever but easily beatable ploy from the barely reformed knuckledraggers. Corruption in modern day politics may get media attention, but the track record of some BNP members is its own brand of scandal – violent crime to name just one.

A country whose language is living proof of the benefits and product of integration and immigration should not have, waving a Union Flag at a massive cost, representatives from an extreme and racist organisation. A country where music and fashion shows the results of integration cannot allow the isolationist ignorance of the BNP to flourish. They have learnt how to make headlines, what to say on the doors to mask their real agendas, but ultimately retain their pathetic and baseless offensive racism.

In 2008, Richard Barnbrook was lifted to the highest elected position of any BNP member when 130,714 votes took him into City Hall as a member of the Greater London Assembly. One of twenty-five members who ultimately keep checks and balances on Mayor Boris Johnston. However Barnbrook acts the consequences are quite clear – his election gives credence to an outfit without credibility. His election was the result of a particular brand of disquiet with the political establishment; clearly the current climate has fed their particular fire. Ordinary people know how the BNP hide behind words polished far more than any cynical member of Westminster’s club. Enough people need to turn out on June 4th to give weight to their disquiet, to allow democracy to return to a stable footing.

130,714 is a figure nowhere near enough to award the party of Nick Griffin a seat in Brussels. The North West England region is a target for them, with Mr Griffin at the very top; in 2004, the BNP failed to get a seat with 134,959 votes. There are a lot of people between Carlisle and Crewe who feel the only party who represent “none of the above” is the group whose policies would ultimately create a Britain which has never existed. Such ignorance of the island nature of this country is their most pathetic characteristic of all. For the good of long-term growth in the UK, one tiny event must be carried out which will take no more time than writing out an email, a status update, a ‘tweet’. Vote for change, the environment, cohesion. Vote against the pathetic. Vote against the BNP.

The Cities / The Northwestern

Appearing live at Mad Ferret
in Preston on Saturday 6th, two bands to keep up the heat of the summer with intense live reputations stacking up behind them

Local lads The Cities cram a novel of heartfelt lyrics into each song, a veritable thick-fruit smoothie of rolling melodies sweet with the bitter aftertaste of life’s lessons learned. Stand out tracks “Cold, and “Scar”.

The big draw for the night is surely The Northwestern, the uplifting and optimistic band formed from Sam Herilhy and Simon Jones from highly regarded former Sony post-rock outfit Hope of the States. Together with Franseco Menegat, Ian McCullagh, and Jonny Winter, formerly with The Open, the new group maintain the sweeping guitars and orchestration but switch the introspection for sheer celebration. If you didn’t pick up the upturn from final Hope of the States album “Left”, it may take you by surprise to hear “All The Ones”. Beaming and bright, the expression you can see on Herilhy’s face is a smile. You should get used to it, he’s clearly enjoying himself.

The gig is at Mad Ferret, Fylde Road, Preston, on Saturday 6th June.

Picture of The Cities from Michael Holdsworth
Also appearing on the night are Underdogs and The Fifty 50’s