by her majesty's leave

Looks as though the Home Office has decided that we are worthwhile hanging on to… Still a few admin steps to go but received approval of our Highly Skilled migrant visa this morning!

voices of the seven woods

voice of the seven woods

Expecting a gentle dose of jangly electro folk last Tuesday we rolled up for Voice of the Seven Woods. One of our favourite haunts Mono (whose vegan tentacles are spreading relentlessly through Glasgow as we speak – 1,2,and Stereo to come) was the scene further adding to the expectations of general hippiness and good cheer. However if ever there was an example of not judging a band by it’s myspace this was it.

The second support were quite interesting – a wavery vocal based noise like the soundtrack to a brutal chinese soap opera and they set the scene for what was to come.
The extent of chin stroking males in the audience may have been an early indication but once Voice of the Seven Woods cranked up their set we realized it was less jangly electro folk and more feedback tinged noise from a psychedelic mod band. It was actually excellent – gaining synchronized nods of appreciation and scratches of chins from bald headed men around the room. A kind of analogue, math rock it had strong parallels to Battles, however it was less angular, and with less evidence of performance enhancing drugs. We left the gig entertained if a little bemused.

dundee or not to be

frank's maggie

Our friend Jude has just finished a run in a Dundee Rep performance of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. An adaptation by Colin Teevan of this apparently unstagable play has set it in a contemporary backwoods town full of manic characters and the vile Gynt himself.

peer gynt

It was a fantastic production – if a little lengthy (a bit over 3 hours) – strong direction, great performances and a superb pared back set that exposed all of the back of house elements. The performance started in the bar of the theatre (itself an eighties architectural gem) with a raucous wedding reception (below – Jude is singing) before we trooped into the theatre itself to follow Peer’s adventures.

peers party

As it was the last night of the production we headed to the wrap party afterwards, with most of the cast and crew plus hangers ons like ourselves cramming into a tiny one bed apartment till the wee hours. After a lesiurely late breakfast Mike gave us a locals tour of deepest darkest Fife, including a visit to the brooding Zaha Hadid Maggie’s centre in Kircaldy (below) to complement our visit to Frank Gehry’s more playful interpretation in Dundee (top) the previous afternoon.

zaha's maggie

eye contact leads too…

eye contact leads too...

We ventured deep into Sauchiehall St student territory to catch members of our favourite grocery store as eye contact leads too.. play a fun, tight shoutie set at Capitol. Having endured a support that took their influences straight out of last year’s indie rock charts and played them like a primary school collage, it was refreshing to hear something slightly edgier, even if it did keep us up past our bedtime on a school night…

king arthur's seat

edinburgh from king aurthur's seat

We swung into tour guide mode for a visit of one of Claire’s friends last month. In addition to covering all our usual Glasgow haunts we also snuck over to Edinburgh for hit & run tour, which included Chhay & my first assent of King Arthur’s seat, for great view over the city (above) and Leith.

forth & clyde canal: maryhill to spiers wharf

Spiers Warf, originally uploaded by the_greateastern.

For a spot of urban exploration we spent a lazy warm Sunday afternoon track the progress of the Glasgow branch of the Forth & Clyde Canal from where it secretly passes near our flat into Spiers Wharf, perched incongruously high above the city centre.

Abandoned factories, boarded up tenements and posh converted warehouses dot the route along with some great views out over the west end, it is a quite a hidden gem as it is very easy to miss – especially as many roads pass underneath it – you could be forgiven for thinking it was just another railway line.

jamie flett


Our friend and sometime blues man Jamie Flett (nee Invisible Jim) played a low key set to kick off Oxfams’s Oxjam music festival. The set was so low key that there wasn’t even a representative from Oxfam there! They showed up eventually to pass around the tin, but in the meantime we enjoyed Jamie’s usual dose of acoustic blues followed by a somewhat cheesey folk set from – a band whose name I can no longer rember – although on eof them did shave their beard mid set to raise more cash!

von sudenfed

von sudenfed

We helped ourselves to a dose of quirky german electro/british punk last month with a Von Sudenfed gig at the Arches. Mark E Smith of The Fall notoriety provided vocals and ranting over the top of a powerful reverby electro set fromgerman duo Mouse on Mars. The gig was marred by boring Fall fans being upset by electronic music but apart from that kept us ear bleedingly entertained.

is this music?

is this music?

Sold on the promise of an eleven piece cabaret band squeezing into the teeny tiny basement of the 13th Note in Glasgow’s hispter Trongate area, we braved the onset of what seemed to be winter two months early to accompany Claire to an is this music? gig.

First on the bill was Red Redbeard a local folky singer/songwriter with a wry sense of humour and a great guitar technique.

Having set the mood Claire’s co-worker’s band The State Broadcasters (she works at the beeb geddit) took to the stage and produced an entertaining set with lighthearted lyrics accompanied by a variety of instruments including some lively harp playing. At times it felt like the music was a little too layered for the lyrics but they may have been the mixing in the small space.

If the five members of The State Broadcasters seemed cramped on stage, by the time nine members of How to Swim squeezed on to a space about the size of an average bathroom (not eleven as promised but still a good effort I thought) the basement was packed and sweaty. They produced a powerful boppy sound that had everyone moving and provided the perfect cap to the evening. My favourite review off their myspace as follows:

“The night after How To Swim played I dreamed about an army of the lumbering undead smashing up a city. They threw guitars through windows and generally made a nuisance of themselves. How To Swim are the band Tim Burton would create during one of his more inspired moments. The eleven-piece combine a rambling sharpness of style…with a stomping, manic energy. They are the orchestra of the damned” …. “Go and see them now: they’ll be sold out when they’re playing in hell.”

Brazen Magazine (King Tuts, Glasgow) – November 2006

is thirty half life?

half life 3

In an attempt to avoid turning thirty, last month Chhay headed out of town, dragging a posse of us in her wake. A road trip to keep ahead of time, lay low and pretend that nothing was happening.

Friday 4 pm: Things are looking bright – our rental has been upgraded so we are driving something with a dashboard straight out of star trek that goes like a rocket… but is it fast enough to outrun time??? Pick up the girls and hit the road – seventies (1977 even?) rock setting the tone as we escape past Dumbarton and wind away past Loch Lomond.

Two and half hours later and time may well have stopped, down a windy B road across canals and isolated inlets we find our little cottage – in a town encircling a bay full of boats, and over the hill – sunset over Jura. We settled in for a night of red wine and raconteuring from the friendly neighbours, so far so good – no ones talking birthdays.

half life 2

On the Saturday we traveled back to the neolithic era – searching for clues of eternal life perhaps? Strange ring marks in stones, ancient hill forts with new industrial insertions, and secluded forest glens protected from persistent rain gave us clues, the answer was to be presented later that evening

First though, critical in any Chhay adventure – dinner. Back to our secluded town for a seafood feast, fresh from local waters we sampled Isle of Mull oysters, razor clams, scallops, langustine and a creamy mussel dish that had us ordering second and third helpings of bread so we could absorb the last drop of the delicious broth. Luckily for Chhay her the candles on her birthday desert were out of order so she was only celebrating tythir – another narrow escape.

half life 4

Suitably provisioned we journeyed into Lochgilphead for the performance that was the centrepiece of our journey. The setting was constructed from felled logs, radiating out amongst still standing trees to create a plinth for the action. Uplit trees and a fantastic score evoked the primitive signposts that we had explored earlier in the day. Aspects of the choreography too, with performers scaling trees and walking suspended upside down under the plinth developed powerful imagery. In the end however the performance was at its essence just a play, a prosaic story of marriage gone bad, with time travel as a backdrop. After the build-up it was a little disappointing and far to real – a more abstract performance would have enhanced the mood developed in the installations we explored earlier in the day and the set.

Back at the cottage, with a fire raging, the rain battering down outside and some of the local water of life we celebrated properly. The next morning we explored the local area more thoroughly – tracking down the local peninsula to what felt somewhat like the end of the world. There was no respite for Chhay though she was definitely thirty, so we slowly wandered back to Glasgow to face work on Monday and other traumatic realities like only a year to get a working holiday visa anywhere else or moving up in survey age brackets.

all photos from