This article originally appeared in Strangehaven issue #7, October 1997.
SHORT REVIEWS OF MUSIC, STORIES, CERAMICS AND OFFSPRING FROM READERS OF STRANGEHAVEN
Lawrence Conquest has created a four-song cassette with Karen Phillips under the name Truth Famine and despite his trepidation in submitting it to me, I thought it was pretty damn excellent. Definitely in the Indie/Britpop mould (The Sundays, The Cardigans spring to mind), strong songs, reasonably played and some nice subtle ideas. It doesn’t suffer from that “demo” unlistenability, but as most other home recordings the vocal production can’t compete with top studio processing – a shame as Karen is a good singer and harmonises well – I could have stood a lot more harmonies there too, but I guess there may have been limitations on tracks during mixdown. You can decide for yourself by sending a couple of quid to [redacted]. More please, Loz.
Martin Kretschmer sent me a package from Germany which included a comic strip, a short story and a tape compilation he named “Electro Solution.” For heaven’s sake! How the hell am I supposed to work with this bloody row going on? Actually some of this stuff ain’t too bad. I’m not one for buying dance records (they’re for dancing to, not listening to, right?) but some of these bands I may investigate further. Mouse On Mars are worth investigating if only for their name. Depeche Mode formed in the late ‘70s about 20 miles down the road from me and I’ve followed their career with interest ever since. Korn I’d heard of and must admit sound interesting, despite their HM vocalist. But other stuff on the tape including tracks by In Deep and Square Pusher is like a great deal of the electronic dance music today – repetitive, uninspired and insipid. OK as background music if something else more interesting is happening. I tend to like stuff which grabs me by the balls or the heart. As for Speedy J . . . well, I guess I ain’t 16 anymore.
Martin’s story “A Forest” was very atmospheric and creepy and all the more remarkable because it was written in his second language English. It never fails to tweak my sense of irony when I receive letters from Europeans whose standard of English is markedly higher than a lot of native English speakers.
Elaine Mace sent me a really cool ceramic badge and a catalogue of other stuff she produces. My badge is an “Anglo-Saxon Valknut” and it’s glazed with a gorgeous dark gold colour. Her prices seem inherently reasonable to me, so I’d recommend that if you’re looking for some unusual gifts (like the free-standing Earth Goddess fertility figure, pictured here) you should send her an SAE or IRC immediately. She will also make jewellery to your specifications if you ask her nicely. Her address is [redacted].
Jeroen Beynon has made a little baby. In Holland most probably. Well done Jeroen! Did you have any help? It’s a girl. She has blue eyes and a shiny tongue. She also has lots of nice toys. I especially like the little monkey at the top of the picture.
Nicest surprise was my receipt of a package containing an official Old Speckled Hen beer glass! Now that’ll come in handy. It came in a great coloured box and everything. “The Perfect Glass for the Perfect Pint,” as it so rightly proclaims. Profuse thanks go out to Dean Whittaker of Norfolk’s premier comic store, Abstract Sprocket.
Are you jealous of all these lovely things I get for nothing? Then start self-publishing and weirdos will start sending things to you, too!