On This Day

February 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

711 years ago, valiant Robert the Bruce stabs a man to death in a church

450 years ago, Lord Darnley is found strangled and half naked in the Kirk o’Field

21 years ago, a man is beaten in a game of chess by a computer

Book review – “Under the Skin” Michael Faber (2000)

February 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes – it’s very different to the film, and that’s made me like both more.

Charlotte Barker

April 27th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Visit Charlotte’s website

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Book Review – ‘The Living Mountain’ Nan Shepherd (1977)

March 26th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Living Mountain

Most definitely yes. Clear, concise, deceptively simple. Worth reading the whole book to get to this bit:

“Why some blocks of stone, hacked into violent and tortured shapes should so profoundly tranquillise the mind I do not know. Perhaps the eye imposes its own rhythm on what is only a confusion: one has to look creatively to see this mass of rock as more than jag and pinnacle – as beauty. Else why did men for so many centuries think mountains repulsive? A certain kind of consciousness interacts with the mountain-forms to create this sense of beauty. Yet the forms must be there for the eye to see. And forms of a certain distinction: mere dollops won’t do it. It is, as with all creation, matter impregnated with mind: but the resultant issue is a living spirit, a glow in the consciousness, that perishes when the glow is dead. It is something snatched from non-being, that shadow which creeps in on us continuously and can be held off by continuous creative act. So, simply to look on anything, such as a mountain, with the love that penetrates to its essence, is to widen the domain of being in the vastness of non-being. Man has no other reason for his existence.”

Book Review – “The Big Music” Kirsty Gunn (2012)

November 12th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

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This review is over a year late for some reason – anyway, its a big fat

YES. Simply put – It’s about family, music, place and its about pibroch, and is written in the style of pibroch. Sometimes this can be tiring, particularly with repetition of the footnotes, as things are literally repeated a lot. But overall it is ambitious, and works as far as I’m concerned. I read it just before making “The Drummer & The Drone”

The Drummer & The Drone from Craig Coulthard on Vimeo.

Craig Coulthard interviews Craig Coulthard about Randan Discotheque

October 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

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Craig, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. You have a new Randan Discotheque single out, perhaps you could tell us a little about it?

Sure, it’s a double a-side 7” single, with “Ring the Bell” and “National Geographic (2012)”, and it’s a very limited edition of 20, plus a digital download. It also comes with a limited edition riso print, with the song lyrics

I’ve noticed the lyrics aren’t so clear on the print, is that deliberate?

Oh yes.

Why?

So people have to listen harder.

Why is it released in such low numbers?

Well, after I/we made “Sonderweg” our last full length album I became a little despondent about the amount of time and effort, not to mention money that went into it, without much reward. I pressed 300 copies of it, and I still have at least two-thirds of them left. I wanted to release something that wasn’t going to end up losing me more money.

Have you lost a lot of money?

I wouldn’t say a lot, but I’ve never really made much from Randan Discotheque. With Sonderweg, there was the recording studio, mastering, pressing, promotion etc, not to mention the time I spent on videos and design. I decided I would try a crowd funded approach for the next thing I released. Thanks to the generosity of some friends, fans and family, I was able to raise enough to make a very short run of vinyl. I thought that if I could get them produced for a reasonable amount, and get the money up front, I would maybe end up at least breaking even, and not have boxes of left over vinyl sitting around. I wanted to make something quickly, with music I was still in the process of writing, and hopefully give the funders a sense of helping me along with the creative process. Each of the records is hand painted, and has a personalised message on the back. I felt it was more important to make a personal connection with a few people, than no connection with a lot of people.

That sounds a bit pompous, and an excuse for not having a lot of fans.

Perhaps you’re right.

 

Randan Discotheque – “Ring the Bell” from Craig Coulthard on Vimeo.

Tell me a bit about that creative process

The songs were both sketchily written a couple of years ago, but I’ve developed a way of writing now whereby if I have an idea, but the circumstances aren’t right for recording it yet, I can hold off until the time is right. A kind of tantric-writing. Both these songs were written during a week in Kilconquhar in Fife, and I waited until I knew I was going to release something before actually recording and producing them, which is done in my living room

Tantric writing? That sounds like bollocks. What are the songs about?

National Geographic (2012) is a kind of revisiting of the approach I had to the single “Daily Record May 18th 1993” – I subscribe to National Geographic, and sometimes find it hard to retain any knowledge I have gained from reading it. There is too much stuff going on everywhere, and I end up not taking anything in. The song is a list of some of the subjects along the spines of the magazine from 2012. “Ring the Bell” came about during a walk in Elie & Earlsferry, and visiting the ‘Lady Tower’ by the beach there. Apparently Lady Jane Anstruther had the tower built as a kind of changing room when she went swimming. She would have her maids ring a bell so anyone else on the beach would have to leave. I started humming the tune when I first visited, and it developed from there. She had her portrait painted by Joshua Reynolds.

Is it historically accurate?

I have no idea – I imagined Lady Jane as a very sexually confident woman who would go skinny dipping, and maybe had a certain hold over men, including Reynolds, and the locals. There’s a lot of not very subtle innuendo in the song, and ‘ringing a bell’ is an example of that.

You don’t seem to have done a lot of promoting, or gigging in advance of this release, is that deliberate?

I haven’t played a gig in 4 years or so. Although I enjoy it a lot, circumstances change, and its not really something that is practical at the moment. Jobs, life, health, other projects, things happen. Promotion in general makes me feel a little sick. When we were gigging and getting a bit of press and radio play in the past, I thought perhaps this could be a career, but then it kind of petered out, and promotion was depressing. I thought it would be much better to just record as and when I wanted.

Have you done any promotion?

I’ve posted it on facebook and twitter.

That’s not very much

No. I reckon a few people will see it and then it’ll disappear without a trace, much like a lot of creative endeavour nowadays. I’ll send some emails out too.

To friends and family, and people who already know you?

Yeah.

That’s not going to get you much attention.

Or sales. The thing with facebook etc is, you can have 100’s of friends, but very few of them are likely to even see your posts and videos, unless you start ‘boosting’ or ‘promoting’ them. I can’t be arsed with that. And even then, some of them don’t like what you do, and then the ones that do sometimes forget, and then others don’t think anything.

How do you expect anyone new to hear your music?

I’ve no idea, I don’t know if I do.

That sounds a bit pathetic, shouldn’t you put more effort in? You can’t rely on friends to support your creative work?

No, you can’t. I realise that. I think I just want to make something, and move on to the next thing.

What about people who work really hard to build a fanbase, go on tour, to reach the people that are looking for that particular thing? It sounds a little like your making it for yourself, a little self centred and egotistical?

Yes, it is. Most creative work is though isn’t it?

Not everything is

Well, everything I do seems to be. Musicians, artists, most of them have big ego’s or pretend they don’t.

Really? What about Moondog?

Yeah, ok, maybe not, but I’ve never met him because he’s dead. He might have had a massive ego for all you know.

Randan Discotheque – “National Geographic (2012)” from Craig Coulthard on Vimeo.

How are sales going?

Well, up to now, I made 20 copies, and kept one to myself, 12 went to funders, and 3 have been sold. There’s 4 left.

So you haven’t even managed to sell those?

No, not yet.

Do you ever think to yourself “maybe the reason I don’t sell is because I don’t do promotion or gigs”?

Yes, maybe. This is promotion though?

An interview with yourself, by yourself, is promotion?

I think so. We’re always told “you’ve got to do it yourself, no-ones going to do it for you”

I guess so. Ok, have you ever thought the reason you don’t sell much is because the music just isn’t very good?

No

You’ve never thought that?

No, I have absolutely never thought that.

Never ever ever?

No, not once ever. I’m surprised you keep pushing the point.

Have you ever thought about just giving it up?

Yes, I have. But I realise now that it does me more harm to not indulge myself in this way, than if I do. Like masturbation.

Your’re saying Randan Discotheque is like masturbation?

Exactly.

You don’t think it’s possible for music to be more than that? Something that moves people?

Yes absolutely, music can change your life.

What music changed your life?

I would say “Graceland” by Paul Simon. I first heard it when I must have been 5 or 6, and my parents had a tape of the album. I was interested in the rhythms, and the complexity of the words. The images that were conjured up listening to it are still with me now. As I got older, I began to understand more about what was being sung, and then older still to understand more about the conditions the record was made in, with the South African musicians, and the zydeco etc – it retained my interest, and it still does. I like singing “Joseph’s face was as black as the night, and the pale yellow moon shone in his eyes”. The image in my brain when I sing it, is the same as when I heard it as a boy. It wasn’t religious or anything – just a simple image of dark skin with yellow moonlight. I always skip through “Homeless” though.

So what are your plans now?

I have about two albums of ideas sketched out, I’m just waiting for the right moment to develop them.

When can we expect that then?

I have no idea, I was 9 months late with this release, so it may be a while, but I hope not.

Well, thanks for the interview, it was moderately interesting. I wish you the best of luck for the future.

And I to you.

“Ring the Bell/National Geographic (2012)” is available now on limited edition 7” single, and digital download from Randan Discotheque’s bandcamp page

www.randandiscotheque.bandcamp.com

 

Forest Pitch – Short film by Andy Ashworth

May 28th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Here’s a short film about Forest Pitch, directed by Andy Ashworth, a student at Edinburgh College of Art. The film was made as part of the Film & Television course at ECA, and was supported? commissioned? by The Skinny on/around the 10 year(ish) anniversary of the founding of The Embassy gallery. The film uses some footage from our original short film about Forest Pitch, directed by Nick Gibbon, which can be seen below too.

Forest Pitch from Craig Coulthard on Vimeo.

“Film 006” – Craig Coulthard (2015)

February 21st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Katy Dove (1970 – 2015)

January 30th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink





And so…

September 22nd, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

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Four days later, and I feel I now can articulate my thoughts with consideration. If I am honest with myself, I never really thought that Scotland would vote for independence, at least not with the majority that would have been needed to prove decisive. As I watched the results come through, it was evident from the start of the coverage that there was confidence among those talking heads on the ‘No thanks’ side, and a hint of acceptance from the Yes.

I watched them all come through until Glasgow, and I had to accept that was that. On Friday I couldn’t quite balance my previous pragmatism with the overwhelming sense of sorrow I was now feeling. Why did I feel this way? I guess looking around these London streets, conscious of absolutely nothing having changed, the vast possibilities and opportunities and challenges that a Yes would have brought, vanished away into the morning mist.

Watching the unravelling of The Vow on the following days was a revelation. We were never the main story. The Westminster parties have an election to fight. The next few months of debate and disagreement, if not downright abdication of responsibility to the Scottish public can only serve to strengthen the depth of feeling in Scotland. Whatever these new powers may turn out to be, they will not be enough to kill off the desire for independence amongst a huge proportion of the population. I realised that there surely is only now one way for things to go, as the rest of the UK is granted more powers, it will become even more tempting to be entirely in control of our own destiny. If UKIP force their way into Westminster, with or without an EU referendum, and Labours’ vote dwindles evermore in Scotland, those who have felt engaged in the last two years will be even more dedicated to engaging with those groups/parties/collectives who have fought so hard during this campaign, in the face of incredible odds, huge power and ridiculous media manipulation.

Already people are discussing ways to maintain people’s interest in politics, urging them to keep momentum going – I will be interested to see how this develops. One thing that makes me slightly uncomfortable is the ‘45’ badges etc I see on social media. While I understand it is a response to the immediate disappointment of things, a desire to show pride in a decision made, it is ultimately exclusive. What needs to happen is a changing of minds of those who voted No, and this seems like misplaced energy to me. We have to understand why people voted No, not just present them as ‘other’ to those who voted Yes.

Add to this the response to the voting ages and the preponderance of over 55’s to vote No, and there is the risk of antagonising, patronising and insulting a huge swathe of people (a majority no less!). It is not enough to presume the reasons for voting No, or to dismiss them as old, cowardly, disengaged and foolish. People voted both ways for a number of reasons, some good, some bad. And remember, lots of ‘old’ people voted yes! Are they foolish too, simply because of their age, or are they an exclusive group of right-on old people? How old is Alex Salmond? Tom Devine? Some old people are actually alright (this is sarcasm). And you’ll be one one day (unless you already are). One of the things I’ve found myself doing throughout this campaign is reading and listening to people with passive agressive tendencies, and flipping their argument around. How would it make me feel if ‘old’ people were blaming ‘young’ people for voting No? How would it make me feel if instead of referring to Tories as “fucking selfish”, all yes voters were referred to that way? It’s worth remembering that 400,000 people voted conservative in the last election. Those people want representation too. How would it make me feel if I was referred to as “cowardly” for voting yes? We have to work harder with language, with presentation and with listening.

To balance this out a bit, I heard many 16/17 year old’s who were voting yes and no, with great insight and intelligence. There were also some who seemed rather naïve, and thought Scotland was going to be some kind of paradise – it is inevitable that some younger people are going to have less experience of success and failure. So, in summary, we shouldn’t make assumptions about anyone’s reasons for voting, one way or the other. Nicola Sturgeon said an interesting thing last week, that whether voting yes or no, both sides had the same thing at heart, a desire for a better Scotland. I think that’s right, and it does no good to sink a cleaver into the rift that has inevitably opened up between people on both sides. We should be calm, mature and understanding in attempts to persuade people to come over to the yes side.

When I listened to people explaining why there were going to vote No, it seemed mostly connected to financial security. In the future (I reckon within 12 years) independence campaign, it is imperative that financial issues are dealt with open, honestly and with more certainty. Economics needs to be further understood by everyone, including the fact that it is uncertain whether in the UK or an independent Scotland.

The increase in (general) political awareness in Scotland is fascinating. Hopefully it will encourage everyone to hold their politicians to account, whether yes or no. Do they keep their word? Do they work for you? Why do you vote for them? What do they do for you, what don’t they do? What can we do ourselves (the leaving of shopping in George Square is an example) if they don’t do it for us? What are they not even aware of? Do they deserve your loyalty…..

We should contact our MP’s/MSP’s to ensure they are working hard, ask them questions, demand action from them. Do the claims they make stand the test of time? Might supermarket prices still (!) go up (!) despite us remaining in the UK? How can that happen?!

The vast uptake in party membership for the SNP and Greens in Scotland is evidence of people’s desire to maintain political ties and engagement with how their country is run. I would be interested to know if Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservative, Lib Dem and UKIP membership has changed at all.

I have heard of people also wanting to somehow cement the energy, commitment and enthusiasm shown by many groups throughout Scotland. Perhaps, if nothing else, this referendum and its result, will enable people to cope with defeat, assess their options, see what is possible, build confidence, and as I said in my pre-vote post, take responsibility.

So, from the unexpected depths of despair, to the unexpected strength of resolve in 4/5 days. It is an interesting time to be a Scot. I believe (other than the George Square incidents, the roots of which MUST be dealt with, and spoken about) we have shown ourselves to the world, to be intelligent, passionate, imaginative, humourous, creative and engaged. Long may that continue….

 

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