The Null Device


I've just had a chance to listen to the album by Relaxed Muscle, Jarvis, er, Darren Spooner's new project. It's the musical equivalent of a drag king show, with Darren playing a number of macho-man archetypes: the street brawler, the working-class battler, and fictional American adventure-story character Billy Jack; the only thing he doesn't do is rap about being a ghetto thug, but there are enough white guys doing that sort of thing with less of a sense of irony), and giving us tracks like "Rod of Iron", "Sexualized" and "Beastmaster". The music itself is a pastiche of manly man music (dirty blues-rock, working-class meat'n'potatoes rock, and a smattering of industrial-type electronics) mostly programmed on synths and drum machines (with a guitar or two in there from time to time), and no more than three chords in any track; all rather danceable and somewhat silly. It's not, as the UK Sun says, "goth", unless you could the first track sounding like they've borrowed some kit from Trent Reznor. It wouldn't surprise me if, with its dance-friendly sound and piss-take of masculinity, Relaxed Muscle was a big hit in some gay venues.

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The next trend in graffiti, after aerosol art, stencil art and pasted-on designs, involves selectively cleaning grimy walls. It's much like stencil art, only rather than applying aerosol paint, the artist uses solvent and scrubs a shaped area of the wall clean, creating a distinct image. And, led by the apparent legality of cleaning public surfaces, guerilla advertisers are getting onboard; some chap in Leeds named "Moose" has been commissioned by Diageo to advertise Smirnoff vodka in this fashion. The Leeds City Council, however, doesn't quite see it that way.

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You may have noticed a while ago that book review entries, which don't quite look like blog entries, have started appearing interspersed between blog items. These come from the reading section of this site, and are made possible by the aggregator/feed design of the new blog engine that went in a few months ago. Anyway, as of today, book reviews now have their own comment threads attached. It's not yet perfect; these don't yet appear in the "most recent comments" page, the comments pages don't show an excerpt of the review, and the reading page is still generated by old and ugly code, and so doesn't show the comment links. All this will change, gradually, as various old and ugly mechanisms are replaced by newer and more elegant ones.

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