I know updates are a bit thin on the ground these days – work is pretty hectic in the run up to Christmas (rather than slowing down like it used to be when I was a proper scientist!) and it hasn’t been helped by my laptop blowing up, our Condor central manager blowing up, our RAID array on the HP cluster blowing up (followed by the head node on the cluster blowing up, followed by another node on the cluster blowing up). Oh yes another machine blew up as well and took out a KVM and shut one of our racks down when the UPS failed to kick in. I just hope that given this particularly woeful state of hardware failure, for once everything might run smoothly whilst I am away for Christmas (which I realise is laughably wishful thinking).
It also wasn’t helped that I escaped the hardware hara-kiri in order to transport myself to All Tomorrow’s Parties: Nightmare Before Christmas, a 3 day music festival curated (in this instance) by Portishead. However it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made to go. 6 days away from work, no pressures, excellent music and good company. I went with Chris Gibbons, one of my extended ‘Edinburgh family’ even though I never met him when I lived there – but we have a suite of mutual friends. Honestly, I spent 18 months in Edinburgh and wherever I go the network of friends that I made there haunts me still :)
ATP was weird – we’d both been to the Autechre ATP in 2003 which was a full on technodancathon at Camber Sands. The Minehead venue seemed bigger in comparison – 2 enclosed stages, and one Pavillion stage (mind you this tent had buildings inside it) and the music varied from experimental knob twiddling electronica, to hip hop to trip hop to doom metal. Avoiding most of the latter the real highlights were Portishead (first gig in 10 years, quite possibly the best gig I have ever been to), Aphex Twin (so good we saw him twice!) and GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan who gave a full performance of Liquid Swords. Other acts of note were Boris – an amusingly heavy rocking Japanese group (and believe me that’s saying something given my generalised loathing of J-pop and J-rock), Francoiz Breut (amazing voice, great set, looked like she was off her face), Oneida with their ‘wall of sound’ apocalyptic metal/techno and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth fame.
We didn’t get to see Ladytron (removed from the bill at some point in the run up but I never noticed, which was a real shame), Seasick Steve (clashed with Portishead), Polar Bear (queue apathy kicked in in favour of either pizza or wine, I can’t remember).
Disappointments – well the Madlib Medicine Show could have been better. The DJ was fantastic, but Madlib was peddling hip-hop that could best be described as ‘weak’. The Horrors were awful, just rubbish. I don’t understand why they were ever music press darlings. If you’re going to play 80’s metal and your only USP is that you dress like Robert Smith (and yet in the programme blurb bang on about how edgy you are and how many riots your gigs cause) you’d better be really good. Dear Horrors, you are not. Team Brick appeared to be a man howling into a microphone and sampling/distorting the results. To call this music really would be stretching the point, in fact it was the musical equivalent of going to an avant garde poetry recital and quite frankly just about as much fun.
Anyway we sat around drinking a number of fine bottles of red wine, eating at Pizza Hut and Burger King, going bowling, playing pool, running through the ‘The House of the Dead” series of zombie splattering light gun arcade games and embarassing ourselves on the DDR machines in between gigs. It felt like a proper weekend away and I cannot recommend ATP festivals highly enough. Next up is BLOC 2008, which I suspect will be a little bit less sedate…