Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hello Hero, hero hello

Four gig of fresh music currently uploading to the pod

A big ear day if you will

Changing ISPs this week - I am terrified... this has got so bad in NZ... I dread having it go wrong and am confident it will.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Todays to do list

Nurse Sore Head
Hang with friends up with Christchurch
Find food, eat it... feel slightly better
Download Rob Warners Box tribute mix
Watch an episode of: The Family Guy, American Dad and The Simpsons
Find the Road Trailer and watch... get excited... be disappointed that its months away... stare into space
Go to supermarket, forget why I'm there, wander aimlessly... buy soap... get home we have 27000 bars of soap... doh
Light Fire
Watch movie or bad sci fi tv
Check emails, delete rubbish
About 10pm realise it was a lovely day and hit oneself for not drinking beer in sun
11 pm remember I did drink beer in the sun

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Could it happen here? But of course

The Barbarians at the Gate

Why has policing in Britain gone so mad?

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 19th May 2009

The principal cause of man’s unhappiness is that he has learnt to stay quietly in his own room. If our needs are not met, if justice is not done, it is because we are not prepared to leave our homes and agitate for change. Blaise Pascal (”the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his own room”) couldn’t have been more wrong.

We do not starve, we are not arbitrarily imprisoned, we may vote, travel and read and write what we wish only because of the political activism of previous generations. Almost all MPs, when pushed, will acknowledge this. Were it not for public protest they wouldn’t be MPs.

Yet, though the people of this country remain as mild and as peaceful as they have ever been, our MPs have introduced a wider range of repressive measures than at any time since the Second World War. A long list of laws – the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act, Terrorism Act 2000, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the 2005 Serious Crime and Police Act and many others(1) - treat peaceful protesters as if they are stalkers, vandals, thugs and terrorists. Thousands of harmless, public-spirited people now possess criminal records. This legislation has been enforced by policing which becomes more aggressive and intrusive by the month. The police attacks on the G20 protests (which are about to be challenged by a judicial review launched by Climate Camp) are just the latest expression of this rising state violence. Why is it happening?

Before I try to answer this, let me give you an idea of just how weird policing in Britain has become. A few weeks ago, like everyone in mid-Wales, I received a local policing summary from the Dyfed-Powys force. It contained a section headed Terrorism and Domestic Extremism. “Work undertaken is not solely focussed on the threat from international terrorists. Attention has also been paid to the potential threat that domestic extremists and campaigners can pose.” I lodged a freedom of information request to try to discover what this meant. What threat do campaigners pose?

I’ve just been told by the police that they don’t intend to reply within the statutory period, or to tell me when they will(2). I’ll complain of course, and (in 2019 or so) I’ll let you know the result. But Paul Mobbs of the Free Range Network has found what appears to be an explanation. Under the heading “Protect[ing] the country from both terrorism and domestic extremism”, the Dyfed-Powys Police website repeats the line about domestic extremists and campaigners. “In this context, the Force was praised for its management management of the slaughter of what was felt to be a sacred animal from the Skanda Vale religious community in Carmarthenshire”(3). You might remember it: this Hindu community tried to prevent Shambo the bull from being culled by the government after he tested positive for TB. His defenders sought a judicial review and launched a petition. When that failed, they sang and prayed. That’s all.

Mobbs has also found a bulletin circulated among Welsh forces at the end of last year, identifying the “new challenges and changes” the police now face. Under “Environmental” just two are listed: congestion charging and “eco-terrorism”(4). Eco-terrorism is a charge repeatedly levelled against the environment movement, mostly by fossil fuel lobbyists. But, as far as I can discover, there has not been a single recorded instance of a planned attempt to harm people in the cause of environmental protection in the United Kingdom over the past 30 years or more. So what do the police mean by eco-terrorism? It appears to refer to any environmental action more radical than writing letters to your MP.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) now runs three units whose purpose is to tackle another phenomenom it has never defined: domestic extremism. These are the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU), the Welsh Extremism and Counter-Terrorism Unit and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. Because ACPO is not a public body but a private limited company, the three bodies are exempt from freedom of information laws and other kinds of public accountability, even though they are funded by the Home Office and deploy police officers from regional forces. So it’s hard to work out exactly what they do, apart from libelling peaceful protesters. I wrote a column in December about the smears published by NETCU, which described villagers in Oxfordshire peacefully seeking to prevent a power company from filling their local lake with fly ash as a “domestic extremist campaign”(5). It also sought to smear peace campaigners, Greenpeace and Climate Camp with the same charge. NETCU’s site went down on the day my column was published and hasn’t been restored since. But we have only patchy evidence of what else these three unaccountable bodies have been up to.

They appear to have adopted the role once filled by Special Branch’s counter-subversion campaign, which spied on Labour activists, including Jack Straw and Peter Mandelson (sadly the spooks failed to bump them off while there was still time). But as Paul Mobbs points out in his new report on Britain’s secretive police forces, today the police appear to be motivated not by party political bias, but by hostility towards all views which do not reflect the official consensus(6).

Mobbs proposes that mainstream politics in Britain cannot respond to realities such as global and national inequality, economic collapse, resource depletion and climate change. Any politics that does not endorse the liberal economic consensus, which challenges the concentration of wealth or power, or which doesn’t accept that growth and consumerism can be sustained indefinitely, is off-limits. Just as the suffragettes were repressed because their ideas – not their actions - presented a threat to the state, the government and the police must suppress a new set of dangerous truths. By treating protesters as domestic extremists, the state marginalises their concerns: if people are extremists, their views must be extreme. Repression, in a nominal democracy, cannot operate accountably, so the state uses police units which are exempt from public scrutiny.

I am sure Mobbs is right. There is no place for dissenting views in mainstream politics. I was told recently by a Labour back-bencher – a respected MP untainted by the expenses scandal - that “if the door was open just an inch to new ideas, I would stay on. But it has been slammed shut, so I’m resigning at the next election.” Our grossly unfair electoral system, which responds to the concerns of just a few thousand floating voters and shuts out the minor parties; the vicious crackdown on dissent within parliament by whips and spin doctors; the neoliberalism forced upon governments by corporate power and the Washington Consensus; the terror of the tabloid press: all combine to create a political culture which cannot respond to altered realities without collapsing. What cannot be accomodated must be suppressed.

The police respond as all police forces do; protecting the incasts from the outcasts, keeping the barbarians from the gate. The philosophy of policing has not changed; they just become more violent as the citadel collapses.


1. See

2. Email received on 6th May 2009. FOI REF: 263/2009.


4. All Wales Environmental Scanning Monthly Bulletin November 2008.


6. Paul Mobbs, April 2009. Q2. Britain’s Secretive Police Force. The Free Range Network.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is it just me

Or is this country going through some changes that aren't for the better?

We'll live to regret this national lead govt

And isn't a fire just the perfect way to start ones day when its cold

interesting times again

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Building the perfect beats

After 27 years, 'Planet Rock' remains an enduring theme in the genres it helped launch: hip-hop and electronic music


You won't hear a lot of Afrika Bambaataa on the airwaves these days. It's been years since the last hot single by the New York musician, who has settled into a steady career of globetrotting DJ gigs.

But when you turn on a radio in 2009, you'd better believe you're hearing "Planet Rock."

Here's the thing about Bambaataa's biggest hit: It wasn't even really a hit -- not in traditional terms, anyway, having failed to crack Billboard's Top 40 when it was released in 1982.

But the distinctive, infectious party track has endured as far more than a piece of music. It was a cultural statement, a game-changing work that stands as the cornerstone of both hip-hop and electronic music such as techno -- the rare song that can lay claim to multiple genres. And its influence continues to resonate through popular culture, shaping both the sounds we hear and the mindset behind them.

"Planet Rock" will be in the set on Memorial Day when Bambaataa, 52, makes his first-ever appearance at Movement, the electronic music festival that's notching its 10th year on the Detroit riverfront. For veteran fest-goers, it will be a familiar experience. Perhaps no groove has drifted across Hart Plaza more often than the eerie, sci-fi funk of "Planet Rock," a staple in the arsenal of DJs.

"I've been amazed at so many different versions, how they've stripped it down to the bone to be played in so many other thousands of records," says Bambaataa. "There are the remixes, and the re-remixes, and the re-re-re-remixes."

What Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was to rock, what Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy" was to the blues, so "Planet Rock" is to modern popular music: the song that served up the essentials, pointing the way forward and providing a well of inspiration to generations of musicians.

The track, produced by Arthur Baker and performed by Bambaataa and his Soulsonic Force, had timeless elements. The haunting Kraftwerk melody. The elementary but elegant beat. The synthesized orchestra blasts. The robotic rap chant: "Rock, rock, planet rock -- don't stop."

"For almost 30 years, every producer has tried to touch that record at some point -- sampling it, re-creating it, looking for ideas from it," says Marc Kinchen, a Los Angeles producer. "It's a song that doesn't go out of style."

Kinchen was an 8-year-old Detroiter when he first heard "Planet Rock." He was struck.

"It was one of the first songs I paid attention to sonically. I noted all those different sounds, and always wondered what they were," he says. "I was just intrigued by everything in there, from the drums to the keyboard, even the effect on his voice. It took me a long time to figure it all out."

One quirky sound especially puzzled Kinchen, who went on to work with artists such as the Pet Shop Boys and Will Smith. He eventually got it: It was a cowbell as simulated by the Roland TR-808 drum machine -- the device that "Planet Rock" established as rap's go-to instrument.

Bambaataa and Baker have long hailed "Planet Rock" as the first hip-hop record to feature an 808, which amounts to launching the electric guitar. So far, nobody has challenged the claim.

Rap had thrived for years on the New York streets when Bambaataa and Baker burrowed in a studio to craft what became their magnum opus, nicking the melody and beat from records by the progressive German group Kraftwerk.

Others had already been toying with a link between organic black music and the electronic cutting edge. Parliament's "Flash Light" had rocked clubs four years earlier, and groups such as Zapp & Roger were doing it on the R&B side. Bambaataa, a former gang member turned rap spiritualist, was keyed in to European synth acts such as Gary Numan.

But it was the machine music of Kraftwerk that most fascinated him. The geeky German act definitely had the funk, he says.

"It was how they made the drum patterns, how they made the sounds: 'pow, ch-ch ... pow, ch-ch,' " he says. "It was the ultimate funk. It used to just kill at the early hip-hop parties."

Add Kraftwerk to James Brown and the New York rap vibe, and you got "Planet Rock."

"I was trying to make a song that played to the hip-hop and the punk rock audiences. That's the stage I was at in my life. So I crashed the two together," he recalls. "We didn't know it was gonna take off and reach the rest of the world."

'It's about making people dance'

There's a retro futurism to "Planet Rock," a glimpse of what tomorrow was supposed to sound like in 1982. But for all the sci-fi trappings, there was a street-level grit to the track. Years before authenticity became a hip-hop mantra, Bambaataa's single nailed the trick of keeping it real while sounding unreal.

When Marvin Jabiro set out to name his new record store a decade ago, he sought something upbeat, catchy, consummately hip-hop. And so was christened Planet Rock Music.

The Detroit store's namesake song gets plenty of airtime at the Springwell Street locale, where Jabiro says it still perks up the ears of shoppers. They also hear bits of "Planet Rock" in other songs, popping up in work by everyone from Common to Nelly to Three 6 Mafia.

"It's the beat -- you can't get it out of your head," he says.

But the song's true impact wasn't just its familiar four-bar motif. It was the very idea.

A teenager in 2009 has grown up in a world imprinted with the "Planet Rock" approach. He takes it for granted; it's the cultural air he's breathed since birth. Mixing and matching musical bits, repurposing obscure sounds, creating new context for old concepts -- they're the basics of a sampled, remixed, YouTubed life.

But in 1982, it was revolutionary stuff.

" 'Planet Rock' was the epitome of what hip-hop could do," says DJ Z-Trip, who will play Movement. "Take anything, run it through a prism, flip it and make it bigger than it could have been. That's what we have today. It's all an extension of that one thing."

Bambaataa's song had a particular resonance in post-Motown Detroit, where a clique of young black artists was hunting for a new sound.

"That song started Detroit techno," says Kinchen. "It sparked it 100%."

Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson took the "Planet Rock" model, dropped the rap, played up the Kraftwerk and launched the sound that would change dance music.

"Once the electronic stuff got put into the mix -- once people realized you could put blips in the mix -- they realized you don't need a studio band to create music," says Z-Trip. "That's what pushed the boundaries. Producers like Juan Atkins realized this was something different."

For his part, Bambaataa is pleasantly low-key about his role in transforming music, content that he never became a celebrity like many of the artists who followed him.

"Really, it's about making people dance," he says.

Others are happy to provide the applause.

"He ran it to a whole new level," says Kinchen. "He gets everybody's ultimate respect. There are certain people who are untouchable. And he's one of them."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Goodbye Room Of Doom

Six months after moving in Bob finally sorts out his music room (what soon became the room of doom)

Where did everything go one might ask

Every square foot of space in the rest of the house of course

god I am slack

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What do you get when you feed a tribble too much?

Originally released as half of a double pack along with Planet E's first compilation Intergalactic Beats, the Bug in the Bass Bin 12" is easily one of techno's most important releases because in sounding so different from anything else "techno" it helped to push out the boundaries of what techno could be. Apparently if you heard it in 1992 and played it at 45 rpm, then you heard a very early drum'n'bass record. However, listening to the track at the arguably correct speed of 33 rpm was no less inspiring. Produced by Carl Craig, "Bug in the Bass Bin" is an alien funk gem with a unique two-bar loop of a couple of different sampled breakbreaks, a deep bassline, and a high line directly referencing the disco classic "Let No Man Put Asunder."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Time For Some Classics

The Myth of Talibanistan

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

Apocalypse Now. Run for cover. The turbans are coming. This is the state of Pakistan today, according to the current hysteria disseminated by the Barack Obama administration and United States corporate media - from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to The New York Times. Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said on the record that Pakistani Talibanistan is a threat to the security of Britain.

But unlike St Petersburg in 1917 or Tehran in late 1978, Islamabad won't fall tomorrow to a turban revolution.

Pakistan is not an ungovernable Somalia. The numbers tell the story. At least 55% of Pakistan's 170 million-strong population are Punjabis. There's no evidence they are about to embrace Talibanistan; they are essentially Shi'ites, Sufis or a mix of both. Around 50 million are Sindhis - faithful followers of the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband, now President Asif Ali Zardari's centrist and overwhelmingly secular Pakistan People's Party. Talibanistan fanatics in these two provinces - amounting to 85% of Pakistan's population, with a heavy concentration of the urban middle class - are an infinitesimal minority.

The Pakistan-based Taliban - subdivided in roughly three major groups, amounting to less than 10,000 fighters with no air force, no Predator drones, no tanks and no heavily weaponized vehicles - are concentrated in the Pashtun tribal areas, in some districts of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and some very localized, small parts of Punjab.

To believe this rag-tag band could rout the well-equipped, very professional 550,000-strong Pakistani army, the sixth-largest military in the world, which has already met the Indian colossus in battle, is a ludicrous proposition.

Moreover, there's no evidence the Taliban, in Afghanistan or in Pakistan, have any capability to hit a target outside of "Af-Pak"(Afghanistan and Pakistan). That's mythical al-Qaeda's privileged territory. As for the nuclear hysteria of the Taliban being able to crack the Pakistani army codes for the country's nuclear arsenal (most of the Taliban, by the way, are semi-literate), even Obama, at his 100-day news conference, stressed the nuclear arsenal was safe.

Of course, there's a smatter of junior Pashtun army officers who sympathize with the Taliban - as well as significant sections of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency. But the military institution itself is backed by none other than the American army - with which it has been closely intertwined since the 1970s. Zardari would be a fool to unleash a mass killing of Pakistani Pashtuns; on the contrary, Pashtuns can be very useful for Islamabad's own designs.

Zardari's government this week had to send in troops and the air force to deal with the Buner problem, in the Malakand district of NWFP, which shares a border with Kunar province in Afghanistan and thus is relatively close to US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops. They are fighting less than 500 members of the Tehrik-e Taliban-e Pakistan (TTP). But for the Pakistani army, the possibility of the area joining Talibanistan is a great asset - because this skyrockets Pakistani control of Pashtun southern Afghanistan, ever in accordance to the eternal "strategic depth" doctrine prevailing in Islamabad.

Bring me the head of Baitullah Mehsud
So if Islamabad is not burning tomorrow, why the hysteria? There are several reasons. To start with, what Washington - now under Obama's "Af-Pak" strategy - simply cannot stomach is real democracy and a true civilian government in Islamabad; these would be much more than a threat to "US interests" than the Taliban, whom the Bill Clinton administration was happily wining and dining in the late 1990s.

What Washington may certainly relish is yet another military coup - and sources tell Asia Times Online that former dictator General Pervez Musharraf (Busharraf as he was derisively referred to) is active behind the hysteria scene.

It's crucial to remember that every military coup in Pakistan has been conducted by the army chief of staff. So the man of the hour - and the next few hours, days and months - is discreet General Ashfaq Kiani, Benazir's former army secretary. He is very cozy with US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen, and definitely not a Taliban-hugger.

Moreover, there are canyons of the Pakistani military/security bureaucracy who would love nothing better than to extract even more US dollars from Washington to fight the Pashtun neo-Taliban that they are simultaneously arming to fight the Americans and NATO. It works. Washington is now under a counter-insurgency craze, with the Pentagon eager to teach such tactics to every Pakistani officer in sight.

What is never mentioned by US corporate media is the tremendous social problems Pakistan has to deal with because of the mess in the tribal areas. Islamabad believes that between the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and NWFP, at least 1 million people are now displaced (not to mention badly in need of food aid). FATA's population is around 3.5 million - overwhelmingly poor Pashtun peasants. And obviously war in FATA translates into insecurity and paranoia in the fabled capital of NWFP, Peshawar.

The myth of Talibanistan anyway is just a diversion, a cog in the slow-moving regional big wheel - which in itself is part of the new great game in Eurasia.

During a first stage - let's call it the branding of evil - Washington think-tanks and corporate media hammered non-stop on the "threat of al-Qaeda" to Pakistan and the US. FATA was branded as terrorist central - the most dangerous place in the world where "the terrorists" and an army of suicide bombers were trained and unleashed into Afghanistan to kill the "liberators" of US/NATO.

In the second stage, the new Obama administration accelerated the Predator "hell from above" drone war over Pashtun peasants. Now comes the stage where the soon over 100,000-strong US/NATO troops are depicted as the true liberators of the poor in Af-Pak (and not the "evil" Taliban) - an essential ploy in the new narrative to legitimize Obama's Af-Pak surge.

For all pieces to fall into place, a new uber-bogeyman is needed. And he is TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud, who, curiously, had never been hit by even a fake US drone until, in early March, he made official his allegiance to historic Taliban leader Mullah Omar, "The Shadow" himself, who is said to live undisturbed somewhere around Quetta, in Pakistani Balochistan.

Now there's a US$5 million price on Baitullah's head. The Predators have duly hit the Mehsud family's South Waziristan bases. But - curioser and curioser - not once but twice, the ISI forwarded a detailed dossier of Baitullah's location directly to its cousin, the Central Intelligence Agency. But there was no drone hit.

And maybe there won't be - especially now that a bewildered Zardari government is starting to consider that the previous uber-bogeyman, a certain Osama bin Laden, is no more than a ghost. Drones can incinerate any single Pashtun wedding in sight. But international bogeymen of mystery - Osama, Baitullah, Mullah Omar - star players in the new OCO (overseas contingency operations), formerly GWOT ("global war on terror"), of course deserve star treatment.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).